America’s Oldest Addiction…

GunAddiction

This morning, as we brewed ourselves a cup of coffee and eased into our couch, tablet in hand, to peruse the Sunday papers, one story in particular caught our eye. It was a Washington Post piece titled “Gun Deaths Shaped by Race in America.” We almost didn’t read the piece, because we knew what we would find: in America, a largely white-owned arms manufacturing and merchandising industry profits enormously from weapons whose most ghastly potential for mayhem and death is played out daily in the poorest, and largely minority populated neighborhoods of America’s inner cities.

And the article didn’t surprise us: the statistics cited in the article shows that African Americans die from gun violence at a rate ten times that white Americans.

deathrates2

Institutionalized racism, corporate profits, poverty, the drug war… all these factors can be brought to bear to explain these statistics (anyone who doubts that racism is still alive and well in America is invited to read the article’s comments section.)

But it was in reading the article further, the section on suicide by gun in white America that the difficulties inherent in re-shaping our nation’s self-destructive attitudes toward gun ownership became most apparent. The following anecdote left us speechless:

Shannon was a 15-year-old high school student. Her behavior was sometimes erratic, but her mother put it down to teenage volatility. After Shannon’s best friend shot herself to death, she told her mother that she was appalled. “How could anything get that bad?” she said.

Six months later, shortly before noon on a Saturday, Massolo told her daughter that she was running next door for a minute. Shannon said she was hopping into the shower. When Massolo returned to the house five minutes later, her daughter’s body was on the floor in her parents’ bedroom. At first, Massolo thought Shannon was searching for something under the bed. Then she saw the head wound.

Her father’s handgun had been in an unlocked drawer; the bullets were elsewhere in the bedroom. Massolo said her daughter would not have had time to get the gun, find the bullets, load the gun and kill herself in the time she was next door. Massolo concluded that Shannon had planned her suicide.

Shannon knew how to handle the gun. Her parents had taught her and her sisters to fire weapons. They had gone to shooting ranges. “The mind-set out here is that we use guns for hunting, for target shooting, to keep the family safe,” said Massolo. “If you want to keep the family safe and you have mental illness in the family, then lock your guns up for a while or give them away for a while. We’re not saying give them away forever. We don’t want to take the gun away.”

The gun Shannon used to kill herself had been in the family for years. It was a gift to her father from his father-in-law, a former Reno police officer. Shannon had used it for target practice many times.

“That’s something we’ve dealt with,” Massolo said in a recent interview. “We taught her how to kill herself. But we were trying to teach her how to be safe. It’s a different mind-set out here about guns. I know the East Coast doesn’t think that way.”

Massolo said the weapon had sentimental value to her husband, so after the suicide inquiry, he got it back from the police. His wife won’t look at it, but her husband won’t part with it.

“The gun did not kill Shannon,” she said. “Shannon killed Shannon. I tell him it was not his fault. It could have been any method. She killed herself. That was my way of relieving some of his guilt.”

A man’s daughter uses his handgun to commit suicide, and not only does the man not banish all weapons from his home, he undertakes the effort to get the weapon back from the police department after they have concluded their investigation and returns it to his collection. He did not want to part with it because the weapon held “sentimental value” to him.

We confess that this behavior is beyond comprehension to us. The only analog we can conjure is the heroin addict, shooting up in the same location where his girlfriend recently died of an overdose, or the man who has undergone a tracheotomy smoking  a cigarette through the hole in his neck. We can only conclude that America’s attachment to firearms is, at least on an individual level, something akin to an addiction, and must be treated in much the same way, or we will never rid ourselves of the disease that daily takes the lives of our children.

54 Comments

NPR did a series on gun deaths this week, and the suicide portion was especially enlightening. The doctor interviewed said that 90% of suicide attempts by methods other than fire arms fail. With a gun, the suicide success rate goes up to better than 95%.

@Mistress Cynica:

In combing Google for images to use for the story graphic, I stumbled across a few graphic images of suicide by gunshot. I do not recommend looking for them, but if you do stumble across one, you will understand why 95% of attempts succeed. And based on what I saw, I’d wager that the 5% who don’t succeed would be better off if they had.

After almost 2 miserable years, my long personal nightmare of unemployment might be over. I just verbally accepted an offer for a job as a production tech at a drug company. It is a little less than half of what I was paid earlier, but it is better than the nothing I have had (plus I get OT.)

@ManchuCandidate:

Whooooo! Congrats, Manchu. Some money’s better than no moneys.

@ManchuCandidate: So happy for you! Good luck in the new job.

Thanks everyone. I won’t be giddy till I sign the contract which is Wed.

@ManchuCandidate: A drug company, huh? I’ve always liked you. I don’t care what anyone says.

Congrats. Fingers crossed. DOMA and a nice new job! It’s an Easter Miracle!

@ManchuCandidate: That’s great news. May your new co-workers be kind, competent, witty, and interesting! (Your new boss, too, of course, and especially.)

@ManchuCandidate: I hear that it’s like single malt Scotch – the Canadians keep the good stuff for themselves and send us the Old Milwaukee.

@mellbell: He should make sure stinque will slip by the ol’ corporate firewall.

@ManchuCandidate: That’s great, congrats. I’m assuming the prescription benefits are pretty good.

Off-topic: Before hearing the arguments tomorrow, I’m putting my money on a 5-4 win in the Prop 8 case — if the Supremes get to the merits. There is a preliminary issue about whether the hate-filled Proposition proponents have the right to defend the lawsuit — the suit is against the State of Cal but our AG refused to defend it. That issue is too wacky to call, in my view, but I’m 5-4 merits with Roberts voting with the non-crazy wing.

In the interests of full disclosure, my NCAA bracket picks were terrible.

@Dodgerblue: Senators McCaskill and Warner came out in favor of same-sex marriage under the buzzer. Real Profiles in Courage, those two.

@mellbell: My local NPR station, KPCC, says they will have the audio of the oral argument at 11 AM Pacific. May be a good alternative if/when the Supreme Court and Scotusblog servers crash.

@ManchuCandidate: Congrats! That’s awesome news.

@Tommmcatt Can’t Believe He Ate The Whole Thing: You will find something – you’re talented and charming.

@Dodgerblue: @SanFranLefty: OK, Stinque law, WTF? I’m at work and can only follow SCOTUSblog tweets. THis is the latest:

Arguments done. #scotus won’t uphold or strike down #prop8 bc Kennedy thinks it is too soon to rule on #ssm. #prop8 will stay invalidated.

What the hell is going on?

@Mistress Cynica: If various reports are to be believed, SCOTUS seems to be leaning toward finding that Prop 8’s supporters don’t have standing, thus leaving the district court’s decision in place. Bottom line: California gets marriage (again), no one else does.

@mellbell: Just by way of adding to the confusion, the federal intermediate appellate court asked the California Supreme Court for its opinion whether the Prop. 8 proponents had standing to defend the proposition in court when the California Atty General refused to. The Cal Supremes said yes and the fed appellate court accepted that. But state law standing and fed law standing are different animals. Also, FWIW, in my opinion the purpose of the federal courts was and is to protect the interests of capital against the rabble and the state courts; this is what they do with only a few exceptions.

In more important news, I just saw a bald eagle up in the woods behind the house. Withdrew quietly before anyone started thinking ‘Pug for Lunch!’ Second time I’ve seen him. I wonder if there’s a pair nesting or if he’s come up from the reservoir?

I thought Olson sounded very incoherent.

What was up with the reference to Alabama during the arguments?

@SanFranLefty: To be honest, I’ve found something. I’ve been a little shy sharing, but it’s working out pretty good. I think…

@ManchuCandidate: Huzzah!

@Benedick: Don’t they eat fish? And with your pack, what’s one less pug? You wouldn’t even realize it’s gone.

@JNOV: I think they’re more like Catt. They’ll eat anything that moves. And each of our precious angels has a special place in my heart. Some smellier than others.

@Tommmcatt Can’t Believe He Ate The Whole Thing: Shy??!!!

Signed the contract today. Off for a medical next week but I’m not worried as I don’t have anything or do anything that will keep me from the job.

Woo.

Yesterday’s oral arguments were even more moronic than I expected. Nice to see that the (In)Justices have given basically zero thought to the rights of gay couples–apparently us new-fangled homos haven’t been around as long as cell phones or that internet thingy.

No wonder they don’t allow video, the audio and transcripts are embarrassing and intelligence-insulting enough.

@ManchuCandidate: They drug test in T-Town?? Suhweet Jeebus, it’s a good thing that they don’t in BC or the whole freakin’ province would be struck off.

@¡Andrew!:
Drug tests are illegal in Canada City unless you’re a prisoner.
Actually no, but I have to go in for pulmonary tests.

@Benedick: Bald Eagles need to eat, too.

@ManchuCandidate: There ya go. XD

Per Rolling Stone, Big Jon Hamm is upset about all the attention Little Jon Hamm has been getting.

@mellbell:
Yeah sure. It’s free advertising– for Hammaconda not Mad Men.

@mellbell: His publicist deserves a huge bonus. [Insert your own joke here—I’m hung over from wine book club].

@mellbell: Favorite comment on that came from our own Flippin on the Facetubes: “You should totally turn to Christina Hendricks, Jon, and complain to her about how awful it is to have one aspect of your physicality talked about ad nauseam. Go ahead. We’ll wait.”

Elderly Original Stinquer stops lurking on the vapor chaise for a moment to say a hearty MAZEL TOV to Manchu!!!!!
hugs and kisses to ALL I’m still here xoxo

It always gets interesting on The Walking Dead when Rick whips out his Python.

@mellbell: About Jon’s Hamm?

@IanJ: That’s very funny. He could also put on some underwear. What is wardrobe thinking?

@IanJ: I’d love to take credit for that, but I was quoting Tom and Lorenzo, from whose site I took the link.

@Manchu and @Tomm: Many congrats on the new employment thingies happening!!

@flippin eck: Either way, it’s a great response, and a wonderful flipping of the view for all the men-folks who don’t normally think about these kind of things.

@Manchu and @Tomm: Agreed, congrats on the new situations! I hope those work out wonderfully. Also: welcome back to the world of the wage slave. I’ll expect your TPS reports in triplicate tomorrow morning.

@baked: Hey you, baked!! You figured out how to log in again!

@Benedick: You should be offering it to ‘Catt.

@JNOV: I feel that Catt has moved beyond clean pee.

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