Ambiguous ironic comedic relief is a good complement to a serious storyYou don’t have to have witnessed a random shooting in a public place to question whether an armed bystander could have stopped the shooter, but it helps. On the morning of May 21, 1998, on the way to a movie matinee, I stopped by a Tucson post office to send a package of comic books (“The Maxx”) to be autographed by the artist/writer Sam Kieth. I take my nerding seriously.

Just like people always say in news reports, I heard several loud popping noises, and someone shouted “Get down! They’ve got a gun!” Everybody dived for whatever little cover there was — I squeezed up against the wall next to a table, no cover at all really, and a few feet away, a woman crouched down trying to shush her three-year old boy, who like a movie cliché, was saying “Mommy, what’s happening?” I was waiting for the door from the lobby to open and then, for the worst. There were a few more shots, and then silence, and eventually someone came in saying “They’re gone.” I’ve never been so glad to happy to hear sirens approaching.

A couple of people carried in from the lobby a guy who’d been shot in the leg and laid him on a bench; I put the thick padded envelope I was going to mail under his head. The hole in his calf was a round red dot, exactly the size of the .38 slug that had gone through it, and not bleeding too badly. While we were waiting for the police to arrive, one of the postal workers said, “Well, at least it wasn’t one of us doing the shooting this time!”

As it turns out, the shooter, a 35 year old schizophrenic woman named Gracie Verduzco, hadn’t even been in the building; she’d been firing into the lobby from a car in the parking lot, after forcing the driver at gunpoint to drive her around. After firing on the Post Office, she then drove to another part of town where she killed one person and wounded three others before being captured by police. Verduzco, who had been committed three times to mental hospitals with schizophrenia and had sent threatening letters to then-president Clinton, had bought her revolver at a pawnshop. She cleverly skirted the onerous provisions of the heavy-handed federal regulations by answering “no” on the form that asked if she’d ever been involuntarily committed, taking advantage of a loophole in the Brady law (the New York Times covered the Verduzco case among several similar shootings by people who should never have been allowed to have guns). It didn’t occur to us at the time to find out what party she belonged to.

For all of the gun-fondlers’ claims that the Aurora shootings could have been stopped if only one or more audience members had been carrying (and Colorado does grant concealed carry permits on request), I have to be very skeptical. The shooting I witnessed took place in an area that was divided by doors and walls; the firing was coming from a car in the parking lot, but in the utter chaos of the moment, there was no way to know that — if someone in the outer lobby had pulled a gun to go after Verduzco, it’s entirely likely that someone in the inner lobby, where I was, would assume that that person was the bad guy — particularly if citizen #1 managed to get off a couple of shots. We had no freaking idea what was going on, and more guns would only have added to the chaos. And this was in full daylight, with only a handful of people in the building. Add a crowded movie theater, a noisy movie with Dolby sound of guns and explosions already playing, and a few hundred screaming audience members, oh, and IT’S PITCH DARK BECAUSE IT’S A MOVIE THEATER, and it seems obvious that throwing additional weapons into the mix would have increased, not prevented the carnage. Consider also the Giffords shooting in Tucson last year — while an armed bystander was there, he wasn’t able to stop Jared Loughner from his rampage, and actually came close to shooting one of the people who had disarmed Loughner.

Die Hard scenarios work very well in movies, but are probably not something we should advocate in real life. In real life, people fuck up. A lot. Hell, twice within the last week, I’ve accidentally hit “Publish” instead of “Preview” while drafting stories for Wonkette, and had to trash my draft and start over. We’d like to hope that people would be more careful with guns than with blogging software, but there’s no shortage of evidence that the same people who drive 40 miles with their turn signal on are also happy owners of firearms. We really don’t want more of them going to movies in the hopes of being heroes.

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  • Limeylizzie

    Hugs Doctor Zoom

    • Thanks– but really, despite it all being horrifying and everything, I did end up going to the movie.

      No idea what it was…

  • BoatOfVelociraptors


  • TribecaMike

    A Northern Irish gal pal of mine from Omagh, who was at the scene of the 1998 bombing in which 29 people died and over 200 were injured, is coming over for drinks in a bit. I expect we'll be getting very drunk.

    • TribecaMike

      Update: Commission improbable. God bless Amercia and feckin' Tyrone Count. Hic!

  • Lascauxcaveman

    twice within the last week, I’ve accidently hit “Publish” instead of “Preview” while drafting stories for Wonkette, and had to trash my draft and start over.

    Publish first; ask questions later.

    Also, "accidentally" too.

    • commiegirl99

      Also he got yelled at, in addition.

      • So very true. Actual email:

        " I know you know this, but you have GOT to stop doing that..Seriously, man. FEEL VERY BAD ABOUT YOURSELF NOW."

        • Jus_Wonderin


          • Nah, I actually did deserve it. It was a pretty doofus thing to do. But we're totally cool now.

            Mind you, I've been sleeping with the light on since Rebecca reamed me.

          • Yikes! So harsh!

        • johnnymeatworth

          Don't they call that "retroactive editing" now?

        • BigSkullF*ckingDog

          Don't listen to her! She has no title in the new world order!

          • I dunno, her name's not in all caps, so I think she may be a real person, and not just a legal fiction.

      • emmelemm

        Yelled at? Sounds like no fun. Did you at least whip him a little bit?

    • Fixed! Thanks–also changed another typo, too

      • Lascauxcaveman

        Seriously? I only caught it because it got redlined when I blockquoted you.

        So, naturally, I decided to bust your balls over it.

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Doktor. How's Vladislav doing?

    • Vlad the Impala is going to cost a buttload to fix. Begging link in my avatard…

      • UW8316154

        I did my part – even if this was just a ruse and you just spent it all on hookers and blow. A gift is a gift.

        • Thanks so much!

          • For hookers or the blow?

          • radio-of-owls


          • You ARE still here, right? RIGHT?

          • bobbert

            Z, do you know what the fuck is going on? Cause I don't.

          • Not a clue, babe. It looks like Owls is gone, and I can't get any answers.

  • Schmannnity

    No armed citizen could have stopped a secret Obama plot to discredit the NRA and take our guns.

    • Wayne?

      • bobbert

        No, the voice isn't ultrasonic enough.

    • sati_demise

      Drudge Report headline for tomorrow, how did you get it?

    • HoytClagwell

      Even if they don't try to outlaw guns, what if they go after those sweet 50-round magazines and Kevlar-piercing bullets? You know what they say, "fear the government that fears your … ability to waste 50 people in as many seconds."

  • I always thought that question was absurd– basically, "Are you insane?" Yes or No.

    • That is the problem with crazy people. They never realize it.

      • va_real

        Or if they do, they're not gonna check the 'yes' box while purchasing firearms…

        • They need to have a random Crazy Mixed-Up Backwards Day where everyone who answers 'yes' gets a gun.

          • va_real

            You aren't lobbying for the NRA in your spare time, are you?

      • BigSkullF*ckingDog

        Yes, my roommate sophomore year insisted that she was TOTALLY SANE. I researched her diagnosis three years later, after her suicide, and it made a lot more sense.

        • My brother's wife lost her mind one night, and when he tried to take her to the emergency room, (she was kicking and screaming because she insisted that she was fine), they locked the doors and called the police. She was probably bi-polar, but personnel at the hospital were sure she was strung out on meth. She never got the help she needed, and spent the night at the police department. This TOTALLY SANE sweet wife and mother killed herself later that year.

          • finallyhappy

            people frequently do not get the help they need-whether from lack of knowledge, fear of stigma, cost/location of care, self-medication(alcohol,illegal drugs. non-prescribed prescription drugs)- so many reasons. Even what seems to be the best of care doesn't always work- I know

    • dennis1943

      It depends on what you mean by "involuntarily"………..

    • "They tell me that I'm insane, but the voices in my head say I'm sane…, Why don't they ever offer a 'Maybe' box!"

    • TheMightyHaltor

      There should be another option: "The voices are telling me to say no."

  • Counter Terror Units like the SAS and Delta spend thousands of hours a year shooting in CQC rooms and ranges because it is so fucking difficult even for elite soldiers.

    Who'd expect Cooter and Skeeter to shoot like that? Besides Cooter and Skeeter that is.

    Life ain't Call of Duty where you know who the Tangos are and who aren't.

    • Woodshedding

      Yeah, what this brought to mind for me was the hostage scenario in LA on Rodeo Drive in the 90's. The gunman was leaving the shop with one or more hostages; and a trained sharpshooter on a nearby roof tried to take him out but killed a hostage instead. Completely tragic .

      It always seems to go all right bor Sarah Walker and john Casey, but not really anyone else.

    • miss_grundy

      You probably wouldn't be surprised to read some of the comments made by yahoos on Yahoo. They seem to believe that they would be able to shoot the bad guy. They only know how to shoot off their mouths.

  • Fairtackle

    Big upfist for the good Dr.

  • Very nice post, thanks for sharing this.

  • Blunderthing

    Repeat As Needed

    Bang. You’re dead. How did it feel?
    Where did you grow up? Were your
    Parents alcoholics? Do you favor
    That new pop star? Wow. Just. Wow.

    We make things so goshdarned real
    it seems we need more and more
    like the bubblegum that loses flavor
    on the bedpost overnight. How

    does America feel now that death
    comes like a drunken milkman
    with a quart of tragedy every other
    year or so? America, please speak

    into the microphone, your breath
    makes me cringe, but I’m a real fan.
    If you were here I’d be your lover,
    At least until sometime next week.


  • Steverino247

    The good doctor is correct in his analysis. I've seen firearms discharged accidentally by people very familiar and highly trained in their use. I can imagine how many more casualties there would have been had even one more person been armed.

    Now, if you want to post a police sniper in every theater at 70,000 a year in salary and retirement after thirty years of watching movies and never shooting anybody, then follow the NRA train of thought…

    • Banelm

      At last a Jobs Plan that even Republicans will support! Just send the bill to the same federal department that handles all our 'Air Marshals'.

  • Boojum


  • Thanks much for sharing your story. Respect.

  • emmelemm

    Similarly, some time in 1995 (I forget), I was on a subway platform underneath Grand Central Station, on a weekday morning (rush hour), when somebody inside the train on the opposite side of the platform fired some shots. People went CRAZY, crouching, trying to get behind the pillars, running in opposite directions; someone actually tried to pull me into a crouching position, saying, "Get down! Get down!" And really, most of the panicked people didn't know where the shots had actually come from and what they were doing was completely ineffective.

    The police arrived pretty quickly (it being Grand Central Station), and they tried to "lock" the station down to find the shooter. Fortunately, Grand Central has approximately one million tunnels, staircases, entrances and exits, and I was able to slip up a very non-centrally-located staircase and get to the street, and walk the rest of the way to work.

    My point being: the panic surrounding the shooting was way worse than the actual shooting.

    • You see, the fun of living somewhere like Tacoma is that you get panicky when you don't hear gun shots.

  • Nothingisamiss

    Thank you for this blog post. Thank you.

    No, really, I've nothing snarky or clever to add.

  • Not_So_Much

    Not a fucking iota of snark here; thanks for this. Thought my head was going to esplode from the interwebs today.

  • edgydrifter

    I've argued this out with several co-workers today. The armed hero scenario only works if there's only one armed hero. Do the math:

    1) Smoke grenade goes off, shots fired, you're the only other guy with a gun, you target the assailant, he goes down, you're a hero (this assumes a LOT of things go right, but bear with me for sake of argument).

    2) Smoke grenade goes off, shots fired, from somewhere else in the darkness more shots are fired, and then some more from a third location. Suddenly you're NOT the only other guy with a gun. Are there multiple assailants? Who do you target? And which of the other heroes will be targeting you by mistake?

    Saying "more guns would have prevented this tragedy" is easy. Stupid and wrong, but easy.

    EDIT: The good Doktor Z depicts this perfectly. Spot on.

    • Pretty much. In a panic situation. Adrenaline starts flowing. You don't know who the fuck you're shooting. Kid with a bag of popcorn in a 1/1000th of a second might look like a guy armed with a rifle and you pull the trigger.

      • Jus_Wonderin

        Honestly, I target the one with the barrel of popcorn. "Buttered" only, of course.

        • Gotta use what filters are available.

    • Crank_Tango

      I had the bright idea that maybe pepper spray would have been suitable, and then I realized he had teargas going so…well anyway it seemed like a good idea for a minute.

      • Callyson

        Christ, I forgot about the tear gas. That makes the idea that someone could just shoot the gunman down, without risk of collateral damage or to their own personal safety, even more inane.

        • bobbert

          He had tossed pepper gas, and was wearing a gasmask and fucking kevlar body armor, and had a fucking (at least) semi-auto rifle. The well-positioned police sniper steverino mentioned above would have had a chance, but random concealed-handgun-carriers? If they missed the initial headshot, the muzzle flash would lead to them getting drilled through the seats they were behind.

          • redarmyzombie

            He also had a revolver, a shotgun, and had left a glock in his car, not to mention an incendiary booby trap at his apartment. Man was crazy and twisted, but he very thoroughly thought this through.

          • finallyhappy

            twisted and crazy doesn't mean not intelligent.

          • redarmyzombie

            No, it doesn't. I say that because the man was a neuroscience student who'd repeatedly shown an aptitude for higher thought since he was a child. He also put a lot of thought into how he would commit his crime, and the booby trap he devised was highly sophisticated to the point where authorities are unsure if they can safely disarm it. Crazy fucker, but he wasn't dumb either.

      • BerkeleyBear

        And was wearing a freaking gas mask, so good luck nailing the eyes.

  • TribecaMike

    Well said, Doctor Zoom.

  • Add a crowded movie theater, a noisy movie with Dolby sound of guns and explosions already playing, and a few hundred screaming audience members, oh, and IT’S PITCH DARK BECAUSE IT’S A MOVIE THEATER, and it seems obvious that throwing additional waepons into the mix would have increased, not prevented the carnage.

    Pfffft. All the fact that this crowded theater was pitch black and filled with smoke proves, is that to stop crimes, all citizens should be armed, and also carry $5,000 thermal imaging goggles at all times too.

    • Callyson

      Don't forget, they need gas masks too, in case the nutcase gunman uses tear gas like this guy…

    • ugodOH

      Also, make sure you bring your AR-15 with you to the movie theater. You gotta match firepower, no 6-shooter's gonna cut it.

    • pechorintintin

      guns, god, and goggles

  • docterry6973

    We can reflect on the number of times that police officers and soldiers are mistakenly shot by their comrades. Even the most highly trained and skillful people make mistakes in these intense moments.

    • dennis1943

      But with practice,citizens could improve their targeting skils………

      • see Jus_Wonderin's post above. Popcorn? No, just pop.

  • Like I'm supposed to believe a guy(?) named Doktor Zoom over the estimable Louie Gohmert Pyle. I bet you're not even a real Doktor.

    Seriously, I'm glad you were able to deal with the event, it sounds like a real tragedy. I saw a GG Allin show once and I imagine the vibe was sort of like what it's like to see a murder happen. I also hope the comics were okay. Nerd.

    • Oh, I really WAS on the periphery–scary, but not in any real danger — which, of course, I only found out well AFTER I was sure I was going to get shot, but still. In terms of things that I obsess about, this one is relatively minor.

      The comics were fine, although I was disappointed to find that, on one set of limited prints, he only signed the outer envelope, not the prints themselves, dammit.

      The Maxx rules.

  • WinterOuthouse


  • Goonemeritus

    I’m truly sorry you and others had to go through that, you even make feel a little sorry for the perp.

  • Goonemeritus

    No gun law can protect us from super criminals like this, what normal person could have come up with genius plan to lie on the application.

  • BloviateMe

    I can certainly see the seductive appeal of a concealed handgun in such a situation. Reminds of the scene in Unforgiven when they asked the guy with one arm why he had 2 guns, and he said "I don't want to get killed for lack of shooting back."
    Having said that, I can also see where multiple panicked shooters in a dark, tear gas filled theater could have ratcheted up the carnage.

    I cannot even imagine the stark terror of being there.

    • IceCreamEmpress

      Colorado has super-easy-to-get concealed carry permits already. The theater has a no guns policy. You can't pass a law saying that every private business must have a guns are cool with us policy on the off chance that spree killing.

  • vodkamuppet

    Little known fact about your vodkamuppet: I was shot at in 2009 by a passing car while I walked down the street and had a bullet graze my left ankle and another go through my jacket. Random shooting in the middle of the night for no damn reason. I dove behind a parked car and stayed there for at least 10 minutes. I was carrying a .357 at the time and it did not do me any good.

    • Lascauxcaveman

      But do you still carry?

      • You what I don't get? The people who advocate carrying 24/7, even at home. That's a level of paranoia–err, preparedness–that I just find hard to even imagine living with.

      • vodkamuppet

        I don't. In certain situations I think I still would but I got rid of that gun not long after the shooting. I'm no Doc Holiday so I don't believe I could have improved anything by firing my weapon. I hid like a terrified person would.

        • emmelemm

          But hiding probably kept you safe. If you had stood up from behind that car, there's the possibility they could have actually hit you.

          • vodkamuppet

            If I had stood up from behind that car I would have found that the people shooting at me were long gone. That's my point. Gun didn't help when I didn't expect to be shot at and didn't help when it was all over. I got lucky.

        • bobbert

          A drive-by is just one item in a considerable list of situations where being armed does you no good at all. I have a couple of guns, and I can even grant that people should have the right to concealed carry — with substantiallyr better training than is now the case.

          But, ultimately, unless you are the bad guy, packing is unlikely to do you any good, because the bad guy will get the drop on you. I believe that most of the CC crowd have this movie in their minds that involves a showdown on Main Street. Too many fucking Westerns on the brain.

  • mavenmaven


  • Jus_Wonderin

    I must say, I probably shouldn't ever own a gun. Not that I rage, but there are times when other "humans" are so patheticly out of touch with reality (and fair use of our collective environments) that I want to….well…at least push their heads in a pile of dog shit.

    I don't own a gun. I would only have on for target practice. My dad did himself in with one of those fuckin' firesticks 40 years ago next month. Fuck him. Love ya Dad.

    • Shit, sorry to hear that. Hugs to you.

    • extreme_left

      my dad has/d guns till I shopped him to the cops.. but that's because he's been clinically diagnosed 'bi-polar manically depressed fucktard' and he was starting to bug out..again. Amusingly enough people seem cool with mentally ill people having guns.

  • SaintRond

    Reminds me of those opening scenes in "Goodfellas" where the kid sees this guy with a bullet in his wrist and he starts putting bar towels on the wound to staunch all the blood and Paulie says (just replace envelopes for towels) , "Y'know, you're a real jerk! You you wasted eight fuckin' envelopes on this guy! I dunno! We're gonna have to toughen this kid up!"

  • sdguppy

    Thank you for an excellent post. Those of us who are not insane gun freaks appreciate your thoughts.

  • viennawoods13

    When I was in Grade 9, way back in 1975, a student walked into my high school with his dad's hunting rifle in a bag. He went into the washroom to get it loaded, and shot to death a student who walked in. He then went around the corner to his English teacher, and killed her. He tried to make it to the third floor to kill his science teacher, injuring 8 on his way, gave up on making it there, and killed himself. I was lined up for gym when it started, and spent the next 2 hours locked in the gym change room with the rest of the class. It is safe to say that those were the two most terrifying hours of my life.
    I didn't know either of the victims, but the next year I became friends with the sister of the boy who was killed first. Years later I also found out that someone I worked with on the yearbook the next few years had cradled the dying boy's head in her lap. She never once spoke of it.
    I'm not a big fan of guns.

    • bobbert

      I've never been that close. That must have been a terrible time.

    • AutomaticPilot

      Sorry to hear. That must've been awful.

      • viennawoods13

        There are parts of Bowling for Columbine that I cannot watch. I turn the radio off when there is a report of a school shooting. I teach high school- we do lockdown practice twice a year and that in itself is difficult for me. But- I wasn't hit, didn't even see the shooting, just smelled the gunpowder and maybe heard a shot. It doesn't take much.

    • Chichikovovich

      I was in grade 9 when that happened too, and I remember it as if it were last week. It touched every kid in the province, we talked about it obsessively. The guy who sat next to me in homeroom showed up to school looking like a wreck for a week, because of recurring nightmares that he was trying to warn John Slinger and some transparent barrier was preventing him as he shouted. Out in the bush, and 14 years old, not that long since you were watching Friendly Giant every morning, you think that genuine murderous hatred is a grown-up thing. Or it happens in other countries, where people are mean. But Brampton, that could be us.

      • viennawoods13

        You know what's weird? We didn't talk about it much. I think that we were afraid to. It was too close. I walked down that hallway, up that stairwell hundreds of times over the next three years, and it didn't even register as "this is where it happened." Probably better that way- it's a little hard to keep picturing your school as a place where people died, when you want to feel safe there. Back then, there were no trauma teams, no grief counsellors- they closed the school til the next Monday, then it was business as usual. It was a bit unsettling to have our Principal (a wonderful man) interviewed on As it Happens that night.
        As far as I know, he killed his English teacher because she was kind and sympathetic, and he had confided in her, and then felt vulnerable that someone knew his secrets. He tried to kill his Science teacher because he was "mean". As a teacher the lesson I get from that is that you can't win.
        I need to move on now. I actually had some trouble sleeping last night because of this. I will point out one thing that stays with me- in the yearbook, the pictures of the two boys- the shooter and his one victim- are right next to each other, because it was in alphabetical order, and those pages had gone to the printer months earlier.

    • Jus_Wonderin

      That's just horrific. Sorry that you had to be anywhere near that.

      • viennawoods13

        What's amazing is how many people on here have their own stories to tell. This really says something about the world we live in, when we have to question our safety in our daily routine. Going to school, the post office, a bar, a movie.

  • Fox n Fiends

    the NRA needs a 2nd Amendment remedy.

  • extreme_left

    ..yeah but you forget that movies are real.

  • OneYieldRegular

    Open-handed up-fist. Thanks. Having had a gun pointed at me during a restaurant robbery, I am grateful to be alive these 20 years later and equally grateful that there was no gun-toting hero-wannabe in the place at the time.

  • Someone would have to be armed and trained not to panic in a situation where everyone is panicking and random death is just a breath away.

    Zero chance of that happening. Huge chance of more people being killed and wounded than if there was not intervention by an armed amateur.

  • Fare la Volpe

    But Zoom, you didn't tell us how much you prayed to Jeebus that morning.

    • Pfft. I prayed to Odin

      Or Joe Pesci. Joe Pesci doesn't fuck around. In fact, Joe Pesci came through on a couple of things that God was having trouble with.

  • WhatTheHeck

    Saying “Things happen for a reason” or “Its god’s will” is sheer madness. For example, when a plane crashes killing 140 people, but one child survives, is not a miracle. Its a random occurrence. Life is random. And crazy at times.

  • CommieLibunatic

    Couldn't have said it better… but I'll try anyway.

    I have an in-law who once said he carries in case he "sees someone getting raped" or whatever. I can't even begin to explain how absurd 1) that scenario is, or 2) the likelihood of such a situation ending well.

    I'd like to remind the American People that you ARE NOT Solid Snake, John Wayne, or Bruce Willis. You ARE NOT some hot-shot dead-eye sharpshooting cowboy. And simply bellowing MOAR DAKKA will not guard against gun-toting lunatics who ultimately have the element of surprise on their side.

  • I am enough of an American that I have no problem with people owning guns. However, I think we should at least treat them like we do Automobiles: The guns are registered, and have to have their registrations updated when transferred, and you have to be licensed to use one. Drop out the paranoia that the government will then confiscate all guns, and put on reasonable restrictions for civilians (limited clips, no bullets that have no other purpose but to harm people), and I think we would be much better. We will never get rid of gun violence (heck, let's not forget that in Norway last summer, they had a massacre that put this one to shame), but if you can keep the truly crazy from getting guns, and force the rest that have them to be aware of the responsibility, we would be much better off.

    • My ideal Gun Plan would be to require gun owners to have a level of training / proficiency somewhere between the requirements for a driver's license and a private pilot's license. Certification, training, and a biennial review to prove you know how to handle the damned thing. In my more fevered fantasies, I'd enlist the NRA to serve as the examiners–people who love guns A LOT don't worry me, it's the casual loons who want to be badass that are scary.

      • I agree Doc. The NRA actually does good training. Heck, if it was the NRA of old, instead of the modern, paranoid Conservative NRA, I probably would not have any problem with them. We are America, we are going to have guns, and like any other tool, it is the hands of the user that determine if it is dangerous or not. But would you let someone drive a bulldozer without training and if they were crazy?

        • Biel_ze_Bubba

          Bingo on that … the NRA has fallen into the hands of some seriously crazy fuckers. They've attracted so many right-wing nutters to the organization now, that the sane members can't regain control. And anyone who attempts to create an alternative organization, for rational gun owners, gets shredded by NRA attack dogs — it's like taking on the Church of Scientology. Ask Ray Schoenke, who tried it a few years back with the NHSA (Google his name, and marvel at the mountains of shit thrown at him.)

          Then again, there's this. (Cue theme from Twilight Zone.)

          • horsedreamer_1


      • bobbert

        Also too, no hollow-points, no kevlar-piercers (what's the reason, again?), and, just for kicks, ammo tracking (technology that already exists).

        Just in case there are readers who think ammo-tracking is a huge gubmint repressive thing — if shit gets to the point where we're (and, that could include me) fighting the government, ammo-tracking will be sort of irrelevant, no? Prior to that time, however, it might discourage some murdering.

        On another point you raise: most members of the NRA don't bother me at all. Generally, they know what they are doing around firearms. It's the political leadership of the NRA that I detest.

      • Madam Killjoy

        This. A thousand times, this.

    • emmelemm

      I don't disagree. One major problem with the whole stricter licensing/better background checks is that we don't have a lot of national databases, like, say, a national mental health database. So if someone's been in the looney bin (and I use that word lovingly) in Nevada, someone running a check in California will be unlikely to discover that fact.

      And why don't we have national databases like that? "States' rights" and so on and so forth. We are at the same time a huge nation and 50 small fiefdoms. States' rights is a double-edged sword; I live in a liberal state, for which I am eternally grateful when I hear about things that go on in… pretty much the other 49. But the 50 sovereign little fiefdoms idea tends to cripple us from pooling information, even now that we have the technology to do it.

      We're like Schoedinger's cat: one united nation and 50 fiefdoms… at the SAME TIME, man.

    • finallyhappy

      registering guns and limiting purchases- this is how Soviet Russia and nazi Germany happened(or so I was told in 3 different discussion boards). The US government under the Kenyan socialist muslim will take away the guns and leave us as slaves to his overlords. Really, people write this shit and believe it.

  • So, Doc, did you ever get your Maxx zines signed? That is very cool.

    • Yes! Sam Kieth was actually the sort of guy who, at the time at least, would answer random fan emails with requests like "Hey would you sign a couple of comics for me? I'll include a SASE." He may still be, though I think that the proliferation of spam may make that sort of thing less likely these days.

  • The tales from the good Doktor and others repeatedly point to confusion in such spontaneous outbreaks of firearm violence. As one who was in more than a few firefights in Vietnam, I fully concur that even for those who were trained for, and after a few meetings with Charlie and seasoned by such events, that they were all confusing. If you have enough firefights then target errors assuredly occur and you have friendly fire casualties (god I love these euphemisms). As many likely know, Mrs. weejee & I live in Seattle's Central District, where not so many years back we went to sleep nightly to the sound of gunfire.

    We own no firearms, and sometimes are walking these urban streets well past midnight. Is the fact we ain't packin' foolish? We hope not, 'cause I don't see us going down to the gun store anytime soon.

    • Thanks, Weejee–and thank god you weren't lost in the Great IntenseDebate Commenting Fuckup of '12, either!

  • BoroPrimorac

    The shooter was an Obama plant. He was sent to kill all those people in order to take the focus away from Fast and Furious.

    I give it a week before something like this shows up on a wingnut website.

    • C_R_Eature

      A week? someone posted that on Freeperworld this morning. Paranoia never sleeps.

      • BoroPrimorac

        Already? Fuck those wingnuts are lightning fast.

    • BerkeleyBear

      Already tried it, only to wind up having to retract it because they were accusing the wrong person of committing the crimes.

    • Butch_Wagstaff

      I've not checked but have they blamed the shootings on the Hollywood liberals who made The Dark Knight Rises?

      • finallyhappy

        yup- saw that already Hollywood(and by liberals, I assume you mean Jews- we do run everything) makes violent films and therefore is responsible for this guy calling himself the joker and murdering and wounding so many

        • redarmyzombie

          I would just like to add that the rumor where he refers to himself as the joker is yet unsubstantiated. Unless I'm being slow with the news cycle today, but to the best of my knowledge it still has no merit.

          EDIT: Okay, after a little more searching this morning, it appears there may be some merit to this rumor after all. My apologies.

  • SayItWithWookies

    Having been mugged once, I can say that carrying a weapon wouldn't've done me a lick of good, though it might've gotten me killed. Fortunately a cop in a squad car was coming up the street and my mugger put his gun down and started walking away. I jumped out in front of the car and pointed the mugger out — probably the quickest thinking I've ever done in my life — and those two circumstances are what saved me.

    • sati_demise

      Holy adrenaline rush!

      • SayItWithWookies

        Hell yeah. The cop threw his car into reverse and chased the dude that way for a block, then got out and pursued him down an alley on foot while I stood where i had first spoken to him and watched. Then he came back from the alley, the mugger having eluded him, and said 'What just happened?"
        "He came up from behind me, stuck this gun in my face –"
        "You didn't tell me he had a gun!" I stopped for a moment — but what the heck did he think the guy had mugged me with?

        Anyway, he was still the only police officer on the scene, so he got my address and told me to walk home (which was only three blocks away) and someone would be there soon.

        It was a pretty fucking scary three blocks, actually. Fortunately I got home okay, and then only had time to hide the bong and pour myself a glass of wine before another cop knocked on the door and said they'd caught him and could I come down and ID him. He got convicted, did a bunch of jail time, and I didn't get my head blown off, so it worked out.

  • chitrade

    This guy was smart, really smart. It makes sense, he was a med student. No doubt he could memorize crap. Shooting up a movie theater in the middle of a gunfight scene is … well, it's movie brilliance. Christ, what an asshole.

    I carry wherever I can. I don't carry to save anyone else's life. The value proposition for concealed carry is that *you* know when someone is attacking *you*. That's the whole common law basis for self-defense.

    The scene described sounds like a freaking heinous melee. Even with all my boy scout badges, I don't know that I could hit a guy in the dark in that scrum. I really blame the MPAA, since they look for cameras and night vision apparatus. If they weren't such assholes, I'd be sporting my PVS14 every time so I could find my way out to the bathroom. Especially during the harry potter movies. In this instance, statistically, there was probably one or two people carrying (legally or not legally). I suspect they skedaddled.

    In the US, we do a damn good job of keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally unfit. We suck at the actual work behind that, which is identifying and … well … keeping track and keeping care of the mentally unfit.

    If this jackass kept his cool for another few years, he could graduate, and then be the angel of death for hundreds or thousands of unsuspecting patients. The math says that's wrong, but…

    • finallyhappy

      Where I go to the movies- on the border of DC- I figure that there are any number of illegal gun carriers but not to do what this guy did. More like a daily thing

  • Biel_ze_Bubba

    So long as the "PUBLISH" button isn't next to the "PERISH" button, you're probably safe.

    And yeah, that's exactly my take on the Aurora horror: the last thing anybody needed was several armed citizens popping up in the middle of the pandemonium, in a dark theater clouded with tear gas and flying bullets, each of them popping off shots at "the gunman". Anyone inclined to heroism was free to take him down from behind with a flying tackle … and nobody had even that much presence of mind, let alone enough to get out a gun and get off an accurate shot. (Presumably, with the armor-penetrating ammo that they always carry.)

    While this event presents a crappy argument for concealed carry, note also that this lunatic would have been able to get his guns in any state, under any laws, so he's an equally lousy argument for gun control advocates — and I wish people would stop trying to use this incident to make their case.

    • IceCreamEmpress

      This comment is intentionally blank.

    • SayItWithWookies

      You're right that he could've gotten his guns in any state (though not NYC). On the other hand, the 30-round clip definitely needs to be banned. Again, like they were under Bill Clinton in a law that expired and was never re-enacted.

    • And we should also be very clear that ay efforts at regulating firearms will not eliminate violence. It would be a huge success if we could simply cut down on the carnage.

  • Urban_Achiever

    I'm all outta snark today….thanks for posting this….I'll be sharing on FB for all those who need to read this

  • i'm just not entirely sure that the 'hollywood summer blockbuster' target audience is the audience we want to see fully armed, in vigilante mode.

    as witness, i don't know, the shooter?

  • BerkeleyBear

    I've been through a lock down because of a lone gunman in a bar blocks away. This was back when radio and broadcast news were about it, and it was confusing as hell. This was a terrible event, and more than a few people involved were seriously scarred by it (mainly the people in the bar, who were held hostage for hours by the nut – who was a grad student convinced the government had stolen his best ideas and owed him billions (but he'd take Alaska in lieu of actual money)). But I never once heard anyone say it would have been better if anyone in the bar, which was full of young, athletic types, had been packing heat. That thought would never have crossed my mind, especially since the first thing the nut had done was kill a waiter who tried to stop him.

    • chitrade

      Yeah, I hear you. Carrying does not mean you're superman. Or batman. If someone there was carrying *and* that jackass barged in with his … whatever … out, then there's something to be said.

      How do you know someone in that bar, when it was closed off, wasn't armed?

      • BerkeleyBear

        I doubt it, since very few people in Berkeley carry firearms (not really our thing) and it was (and is) an upscale hotel bar that caters to more of a boozy fraternity/sorority crowd.

        And since the nut job was apparently using Mac-10s to make his point, I don't think anyone felt like challenging his authority.

    • Biel_ze_Bubba

      Wait — we had a chance to ditch Alaska? I'm horrified by the scale of this tragedy.

  • paulabflat

    seventeen years ago, a man we all knew seemed to be having a bad day. arguing with people at the bar over trivialities (college rivals basketball game on t.v.), angry and just plain out of sorts. the proprietor gently asked him to go home and come back later.

    angrier after he had been the one asked to leave, he went to his truck and came back with a 9mm, stepped just inside the door and opened fire. two dead, including the prorietor, a man confined to a wheelchair, shot in the back.

    i'll never forget the flying glass (the bar's huge mirrors exploded) or the fear. people hiding in the walk-in refrigerator. some of us in the women's restroom from which there was no exit (bars on the windows). heart pounding.

    we found out he had been on medication for emotional problems but he had stopped taking it. a loaded gun in every room of his house, thousands of rounds of ammo were buried in his yard. his wife terrified of him. she watched in horror as he blew his brains out in their driveway.

    today brought back all of the feelings i thought i had left behind.

    turns out i was only fooling myself. the good doktor might know how it is.

    • viennawoods13

      I know how you feel.

      • paulabflat

        thank you. yes. i'm sure you know. these things don't go away, do they?

        i think that what i'm really afraid of is that more and more of us will know how we feel until we all just shrug and say, "that's life."

        you know? that there's really no safe place and that this will all soon start to feel normal. maybe that's not quite what i mean to say, but today it feels like it.

        • viennawoods13

          I know. I have really been freaked by this latest shooting. Mostly, I suppose because I have a 23 yr old niece, who was in a sports journalism programme, loves hockey, etc etc, who could have been that young woman who a) escaped the shooting in Toronto a few months ago (hell, she lives there, and goes to school right across the road) and b) was killed last night in Aurora. So, I'm seeing her in that theatre. It's just such a feeling of helplessness when we hear of these events, let alone live through them. I'm sure that's why these guys do the whole "Oh, I would return fire" bullcrap. In a situation like this, we are are all just reacting, not acting. And it is as frustrating as hell.

          • The fiction of control is terribly seductive, isn't it? That's what's driving both the gun-strokers AND the god-botherers–the desire for some sense that chaos can be stopped, or at least explained.

          • paulabflat


            like the rest of america, our area had several midnight showings of batman.

            for the briefest of moments i considered taking my grandson. then i remembered how old i am and that he would enjoy the movie just as well on monday at a matinee.

            that keeps playing in my head, too. what if?

            you know?

        • Hang in, Paula–as it happens, I managed to get through the event without any noticeable ill effects; obviously, it was probably far worse for the people who were hit or those who say them being hit. (God knows I've also got my own bucket of other nightmares, too). You've earned your pain, and I hope you can move through it.

          • paulabflat

            thanks doktor, for listening and understanding.

            have to say that i don't cry easily, but…today tears came from somewhere deep down.

            fortunately, it seems that though the sorrow might remain, the fear is no more than a memory.

    • Jadetiger79

      I also know how you feel. It's a terrible burden.

  • LePiston

    A few years ago, I was at a bar in Vallejo, watching my boyfriends band play. At the end of the night, they were packing up, and there was a shooting in the bar parking lot. Shots were fired INTO the bar. The sound guy, who is a rabid teabagger, ducked and covered. Today, he is on Facebook, going on and on about how if he had been in that theater, the shooter wouldn't have walked out. He is also suggesting that the police let civilians use their shooting ranges a few days a week. After all, we are paying for them!!1! My father just retired from the SFPD, and one of his closest friends was shot and killed responding to a well-armed nutjob who was on a rampage in the city in the 90's. I hate it when people say that carrying a gun will stop situations like these.

  • One_Man_Band

    No snark, here's a b.s.-free guide to what to do in a shooting. I found this website awhile back, and it actually has some good suggestions for dealing with criminal situations. Please note that "grab your piece and start returning fire" isn't listed as an option:

  • AutomaticPilot

    Thanks for the post, DZ!

  • One_Man_Band

    Oh, yeah, and anybody who hasn't read Mark Ames' "Going Postal" should do so. Immediately. Great book.

    • Oh golly…I'll take the Terry Pratchett title instead, please.

      • BerkeleyBear

        Much better. We could only wish to live in a place with as well regulated a criminal class as Ankh-Moorpark. Although I don't know how Wonkette would fit into Lord Vitineri's schemes.

        • Vetinari might not have any use for chattering dilettantes, but as long as they aren't trying to introduce cutesy ambiguities into the Ankh-Morpork Times crossword puzzle, he can put up with them. They blow off steam, and don't cause undue stress for the Watch.

          • BerkeleyBear

            Well played, Dok. I had forgotten the quibble with the Times. I loves me some Pratchett (I try to take his attitude of "fuck, why not?", although not his sort of fabulous alternative world, into writing).

  • BigSkullF*ckingDog

    And yet I still know a lot of guys who are union supporting progressives that vote republican simply because they think democrats are going to take their guns away. This probably isn't the day to say that I don't think gun control is important, but … I think proper care for the mentally ill is more important. Get rid of the loopholes, sure. But a WHOLE lot of outreach and education needs to go out to responsible, sane gun owners if we want them on our side. Stop letting the NRA frame the argument and stop having "ban all guns" be the knee jerk response. It's just not practical.

    • I liked Michael Moore's idea — progressives should flood the NRA and change its direction.

  • ttommyunger

    Logic? Reason? Compassion? I'll have you know this is America, Good Sir. We'll have none of that!

  • Woodshedding

    The very first comment I saw this morning about the Aurora shooting was some wingnut decrying Bloomberg for "politicizing" the situation by pointing out it's yet more proof that better controls are needed. That's how stupid they are. Big surprise…

    And of course they never admit it's controls that are being talked about; no, it's that they want to entirely take away your right to bear arms… never mind that it's an armed militia the 2nd amendment refers to.

  • gullywompr

    Fuck guns. Nobody needs them. Take them all away. All of them, Katie.

  • owhatever

    Contrary to NRA legend, guns do kill people.

  • JustPixelz

    "She cleverly skirted the onerous provisions of the heavy-handed federal regulations by answering “no” on the form…"

    For what it's worth, I think that form should have a place for a co-signer. Someone who vouches for the buyer and his or her answers. It won't stop every nut, but it will stop some of them.

  • flamingpdog

    Thanks for the post, Zoomie. I wish it had helped. I've been on the road all day listening about the massacre on the radio, hoping they wouldn't start identifying the victims in case I knew any of their families. One of my co-workers upstairs lost a son at Columbine, and another employee of my government organization lost a child there, too. I think I'm gonna drink myself to sleep and hope tomorrow is a better day. Also gonna drive down to Littleton tomorrow and hug the grandpups.

    • flamingpdog

      Little known fizzicz fact: There is no gravity – the earth sucks.

      • va_real

        Not sure if it's the earth or the earthlings…

        I hope your friends & their families are all safe- these things are hard enough to handle without having personal links to the violence done. The grandpups will remind you that earth- & earthlings- have some redeeming features.

  • Beowoof

    These dopes see this video and all think they are going to be the big heroes. Most them will wind up dead or shooting the wrong guys. Greg Palast wrote about this in his book, Armed Madhouse. It is and we should be ashamed.

    • Good lord… the comments are something, too. They stop just short of calling for genocide.

      • viennawoods13

        Oh. My. God. The comments. I need to shower now.

  • Puffperney

    Exactly, when no one is wearing a uniform or there "colors" it is hard to tell friend from foe.

  • Madam Killjoy

    If the men and women we employ in law enforcement must complete rigorous and continuous training and meet stringent requirements before they are allowed to pack heat and use deadly force, then yeah, civilians can pack heat in public, too, as long as they meet those same training standards. I don't think that is unreasonable. Also, too, maybe we could talk about the lack of mental health care in this sad excuse of a first world nation?

    Anyway, thanks Herr Doktor, for an insightful piece. And hugs to everyone here who has been effected by gun violence and thank you for sharing your stories.

  • DesertTed

    A friend who lives right near there called me today and didn't leave a message. Oh, shit, I thought. One of their kids got killed by that maniac and they didn't want to just leave a message about it. When I finally got them on the phone they said that their dad was dying of cancer and didn't have long left. I thought Thank God, that's a relief.

    That's how fucked up this is.

  • TribecaMike

    Shoot first and ask quandaries later.

  • redarmyzombie

    You know, the biggest problem with these masturbating gun freaks is that they live in a fantasy world where the bad guy fights fair with a neon target on their forehead. They want to live in a world whey they get to be the sheriff and come in to save the day. Well, that world doesn't exist, and if anything it's just as ludicrous, if not more so, than saying we can eliminate violence by banning firearms. I don't believe people should be banned from owning firearms, but neither do I think they should have unrestricted access to them either, nor should they be able to buy 6000 bullets (which this lunatic had) without raising suspicion from authorities.

    Sorry guys. No snark here. I have family that lives mere minutes away from where this massacre happened, and this whole thing is just so, so sad, I can't begin to imagine how horrifying it must have been.

    I wish you all a good night.

  • neiltheblaze

    Somebody should tell Louie Gohmert.

    • Dudleydidwrong

      I've never had any luck discussing reality with a box of rocks. His people like him and vote for him, which tells us where "his people" are.

  • Dashboard Buddha

    This is as close as I want to get…

    One of my co-workers is on vacation visiting family in Aurora. His nephew was bugging him to take him to see Batman (yes, this showing), but my co-worker was exhausted from his trip and promised to take him the next day.

    I have a new appreciation for "red-eye" flights.

  • Dudleydidwrong

    Fantasies are easy to deal with, because in a fantasy anyone can be the one who gets the bad guy and saves all the cowering people from death. Isn't that what Batman does? We're having a tough time separating all the facts from fantasies and the NRA keeps supporting the deranged beliefs like a crystal meth dealer passing out free samples. Getting our politicians out of the NRA's pockets has got to happen.

    But, alas, maybe that's just a fantasy, too. Sigh. Thanks, DZ, for your wisdom and storytelling ability.

    "…down so low, bottom look like up…" in this country right now. The news isn't any better this AM than it was at midnight.

  • Janinthepan

    In the little college town where I live, there is a gun store that has a reputation for selling people handguns that are broken and have to be sent out for repairs before they are even used. I wonder whether it's coincidental or if the shop owner is doing his own regulating of gun ownership.

  • C_R_Eature

    Thank you, Doktor Zoom, for posting your story here. I don't have anything to add, as it's all pretty much been said here and in the comments, no snark – because it's not appropriate and I'm fresh out – and just one story. Submitted, for what it's worth:

    Back in the early 90's I was halfway into construction of a wet laboratory annex to my companies building. I did the systems design and as much of the assembly and construction as I could (to save money, natch) but the wiring had to done by a pro electrician. One who knew the special techniques needed in wet laboratory wiring. We'll call him "Al"
    Anyway, one Monday "Al" is two hours late, I'm pissed off because now I'm over a week behind schedule and some other stupid shit I can't remember happened. I'm about to call up his boss when our smartass Office Boy wanders into my lab sporting a huge grin and says:
    "Well, I guess [Company Name] will have to get a new Electrician now."
    *Grin* "You didn't hear? 'Al' shot some guy to death last weekend."

    Long story short: "Al" finally was released pre-trial, got back to the site after 2 weeks and I got the story. He was out at his boss's farm house with his .22 Ruger handgun shooting rats, then He met his girlfriend for lunch at a diner. Girlfriend's abusive ex-husband shows, sits at their booth and gets ugly. Suddenly, "Al's" .22 is in his hand and he cracks a single round into ex-husband's chest, killing him instantly.

    In Hollywood and NRA newsletters the story ends with "Al" as the Hero at at the minimum no consequences. However, in the real world, "Al", against the advice of his lawyer pleads innocent at trial, is convicted and sent to Federal Prison where he died of a heart attack a year later.

    When "Al" described what happened to me earlier, he said (as I remember) "It happened so fast, [abusive husband] sat down, started giving [girlfriend] a lot of shit and all of a sudden my gun was in my hand and BAM. Just like that. I forgot I even had it 'till then". It was in his back pocket.

    "Al" didn't see that he had done anything wrong, either. It didn't help matters that Abusive Ex-Husband was an asshole and a known bully and that people from the community were telling "Al" Thank You for killing him. The fact remained that "Al" committed a murder with a gun of a man his girlfriend was arguing with in a public place. That's the way the Judicial system saw it, too.

    There's all kinds of stories like this out there, in America today. Road Rage shootings, Disgruntled Employee shootings. Random shootings of people in the wrong place and the wrong time and evil genius mass murder shootings like the one yesterday. If you listen to the NRA's talking points, guns don't kill people, people do. Guns, however, make it one helluva lot likelier that people do get killed and make it easier to kill a lot of people really fast, too.

  • Pithaughn

    I have a suggestion for the preview publish situation. Do your early draft (s) using notepad or wordpad, then copy and paste into the blog application/interface. This is a great way to free your creative flow I find. Just type away with out worry about indents, fonts , grammar, spelln, page fermat, muchh az Im doin hear.

    As far as the tragedy here in CO? What would deter someone from horrific behaviour like this?
    Life in prison, no possibility of parole. Solitary confinement. No chance of suicide. Force feeding in a straight jacket if that is what it takes. Maybe the knowledge that there is a chance they will be locked up alone in concrete hole for decades would deter them. We know death does not bother them at all, they in fact celebrate a violent end of life obviously.

  • Pennywhistler

    Everything you said, plus the fact that he was wearing full body armor and dressed all in black in a dark theater. So where are you gonna shoot, and what happens when the bullets bounce off him?

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