Sunday, February 03, 2013


A couple of gun stories today. This one, from Texas, is tragic and infuriating:
Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who became known as the deadliest U.S. sniper, was one of two men murdered on Saturday afternoon at a gun range in Erath County....

Eddie Routh, 25, is in custody in connection with the shootings.

Investigators said Routh, a former Marine and expert marksman who is said to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, is believed to have turned his weapon on Kyle and the second victim, killing them both at point-blank range about 3:30 p.m....

Since retiring as a Navy SEAL, Kyle had been actively helping other military veterans recover from PTSD....
This was in Texas. This was on a gun range. Chris Kyle died even though he had 160 confirmed kills as a sniper in Iraq. To state the obvious, why wasn't a bad man with a gun -- or, more precisely, a profoundly troubled man with a gun -- stopped by a good man with a gun?

And is it really a good idea for a veteran with war-related PTSD to be shooting, even as recreation, and possibly as therapy?

In Texas, and all over the country in Gun World, I'm sure everyone would answer that question with a resounding yes. Guns are like therapy dogs. Guns carry God's grace. Guns are good for whatever ails you.

Past efforts to tighten access to guns by people with mental and emotional problems have been unalterably opposed by the Gun Owners of America, precisely because they targeted PTSD (GOA called the last such law the "Veterans Disarmament Act"), while the NRA supported the most recently law but worked to weaken it. And for all the NRA's post-Newtown talk about mental illness, you can bet your bottom dollar that the NRA will weaken any new bill as well.


Meanwhile, The Washington Post profiles two Rhode Island gun absolutists: Rob Farago, a prominent gun blogger, and David Kenik, who makes self-defense videos. Part of the Post's reporting takes place over a couple of meals in Providence:
... the two men dig into dinner at a swank Italian restaurant, both of them choosing chairs that let them face the entrance.

"Look at the way Robert and I are facing," Kenik says. "Crime happens everywhere. There's no place to feel safe."

"That's your opinion," Farago says, distancing himself a bit.

"It's in the back of my mind," Kenik says.
Don't imagine that Farago is much less paranoid than Kenik. Here's Farago on another day, after a sushi lunch:
Exiting the restaurant, he poses a question: What business in this little commercial area would criminals most likely target? The jewelry store, obviously. That's situational awareness.

Standing on the patio at Starbucks, he tells a story. A while back, he was right in this spot when the alarm went off across the street at the Bank of America branch office. Amazingly, people ignored it. They kept walking up to the bank to use the ATM. They didn't seem to register the alarm at all.

Farago reckoned that, if a gunman emerged from the bank, he'd take cover inside the Starbucks, putting a brick wall between himself and the shooter.

"If I have incoming fire, I've got a plan ready to go," he says.

There was no gunman. Just a false alarm.

But that's not the point. The point is that Farago was alert to the potential danger in the world. He was prepared to defend himself, if absolutely necessary, with his Glock. Even though, so far in his incarnation as a gun guy, he's never had any reason.
The Post gives us Farago's background -- ex-CNN producer and cameraman, ex-car blogger, ex-freelance writer. No military service is mentioned. Kenik? We learn less about him, but in this interview he says he "had no formal training" in the use of guns, and this LinkedIn page suggests that he never served, either.

The alleged killer of Chris Kyle in Texas went to war and came back with PTSD. Rob Farago and David Kenick seem to have given themselves PTSD, even though they never served. They constantly anticipate danger -- apparently because it makes them feel good to see themselves as able to deal with danger. How sick is it to induce PTSD in yourself?


Victor said...

I was a bartender and bouncer in some joints in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, back in the late 70's and early 80's.
Let me tell you, back then, that was one tough area!
It was the kind of place that would have freaked-out most Heartland 'Murkans, if they ended up there when they got lost.
EVERY night was Holloween!

One place I bartended at, had a Hells Angel as security.

He never had a gun. Or a knife. He was just one big tatted-up tough looking SOB.

I used to walk to work, and back to the subway, that was about 10 blocks away.

At the bar, I had a Louiseville Slugger underneath.
And when I walked - no gun.
No knife.
Just a book or newspaper, since it's considered to be really etiquette to look or stare at fellow passengers, or those waiting for a train at 2, 3, 4, or 5 in the morning.

And I had no gun, and I lived in what were considered "unsafe" neighborhoods.
Loved every one of them!

And yeah, I got mugged.
With a knife.

Did I move out of NY City out of fear? HELL NO!
Did I start carrying a gun when I went out? Nope. No knife, either.
Did I feel the need to keep a gun in my apartments? No. I did have some chef's knives - for cooking, though, not self-defense.

Now I wasn't a tiny guy then, nor am I one now. But I wasn't like that Hells Angel.

What I want to know is, why I shouldn't think that the people who feel the need to be armed 24X7, even when they're in line at their local Chik-fil-A, aren't pussies.

I don't mean the term "pussy" in any derogatory way -- it's just the best word to describe the fear and hate-filled cowards who need a gun wherever they go, and who have mental issues, and probably sexual ones, too.

So I'm asking - why shouldn't I think that you're a pussy?
This enquiring mind wants to know.

aimai said...

I'm just so terribly sad about all this. I saw those two posts back to back up at Balloon Juice and knew that the comment thread would quickly be filled with a back and forth about "reasonable" and "responsible" gun owners. I really think that a large number of Americans had a psychotic break with reality, descended into paranoid alternate reality in which they are going to be heroes in a sacred battle, and are not coming back.

Their response to these tragedies is to double down on the failed policies of the past--to double down on the number of guns they feel they need, the number of situations in which they feel they must carry, and the firepower of the weapons they own.

And the people who pay the price will be innocent bystanders--sometimes even the gun owners themselves when their own guns kill them, or their relatives, or their children.

But you have only to read that article about Farago to realize that this pathetic, scared, miserable little shit won't stop trying to augment his manhood with a gun until he's driven every woman away from him and lost his daughter to an accidental shooting.

As for the Sniper--I'm terribly sorry for him and for his family. He sounds like he was trying to act as therapist for his friend and was under the illusion that his kill ratio and his military cred made his theory of handling PTSD as good as anyone else's.

Ten Bears said...

One man's poison is another man's high? (Kesey, Sometimes a Great Notion)

Speaking as a VFW, this just sucks.

No fear...

Anonymous said...

A few things about PTSD.

People need to stop thinking of PTSD as some sort of one size fits all thing. It isn't. There's a difference between people who clam up in live fire situations, people who are wracked with night terrors and survivors guilt, and people who are enraged at the world around them. Simply saying someone has PTSD does not mean they are a danger to themselves or others. Some are and some aren't, and some sorts of PTSD don't lead themselves to that situation.

It's completely possible that Kyle was trying to help the marine work through his problem and confront his fears, which is proven to work with some types of PTSD. He might also have been trying to lend a supervisory eye to making sure the marine was still weapons qualified, which is something you have to do in the military if you are going to remain in the service. And the sort of PTSD that would prevent from qualifying is also the sort that would get you thrown out of the service.

What happened was tragic. But Kyle, as a SEAL, probably knew what he was doing and it's not always bad to let people with PTSD fire a weapon and try to get back to normal.

giantslor said...

Their lives and views are ruled by fear. So basically, they're conservatives.

Philo Vaihinger said...

You seriously want to call any of those guys at the TX range "good"?

"160 confirmed kills," eh?

You think a killing machine like that - and every one is a volunteer - can be called "good"?

How far is such a "military hero" from being a paid assassin?

A psycho serial killer?

Military heroes like that are butchers with a good press.

Glen Tomkins said...

Overclock speedy,

"... fire a weapon and try to get back to normal."

I think that probably firing weapons is what got Routh away from normal.

There are well-meaning people who imagine that the way to help an alcoholic live in a world where we have alcohol all around us, is to encourage them to practce temperate drinking. This almost never works, because an alcoholic is precisely someone who can't drink temperately. In fact, such pressure to drink from well-meaning friends is one of the biggest threats to an alcoholic's sobriety.

We may indeed have lots of guns around in our society. But not nearly as much as we have alcohol. People with PTSD are much better advised to avoid guns than alcoholics are to avoid alcohol, because avoiding guns is much more doable.

There's nothing at all normal about the gun culture we have in this country. The idea that we have to change people to accommodate the presence of guns everywhere, rather than taking reasonable steps to make the presence of guns accommodate real human needs, is not something I would call normal.

Glennis said...

Victor you probably saw me around the neighborhood some.

"Farago reckoned that, if a gunman emerged from the bank, he'd take cover inside the Starbucks,"

Funnily enough, bank robbers generally don't emerge from banks spraying bullets all around the street. Their goal is to get out without being noticed, and get away.

Life is not a movie.

What is with this paranoia that at any second mad killers are going to burst through the door shooting? The NRA has enabled the mass-shooters, and now it's inflaming the fear of mass shooters. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy whose sole goal is to sell more product.

Palli said...

Thank you. Apparently, it is "out of fashion" to express the thoughts of non-violence and we will not apply the idea of murder to real life dramas in which other excuses can be made.

I think anyone whose sense of self-worth needs a proficient and regular relationship with a gun has blind-sided their brain with automatic responses to life that are dangerous to themselves and other humans. Many people cannot muster the mental energy required to over-ride the violent, immediate and almost effortless response a gun provides to any perceived or imagined threat.

Agreed. Military training is designed to erase the human emotions of empathy and sympathy and instill a sense of primal survival at all costs. But in our unjust society, while the military is supposedly volunteer, it is a job so some allowance must be made.

Cthulhu said...

Overclock, after reading Kyles book, I have to say it's hard to feel any sympathy for the guy. He comes off as yet another Texas asshole with a gun. One has to wonder if his kill board has less to do with his skill as a sniper and more to do with the target rich environment.

That aside, he was jsut some redneck schmuck with a gun. He wasn't a therapist, he had no degrees in Psychology or Psychiatry. He had no business trying to help anyones PTSD, except maybe his own. And without a gun.

Victor said...

Aunt Snow,
If you went to some of the bars on St. Marks, and 1st Ave, 2nd Ave, and The Bowery, then yeah, I probably ran into you.
I was a customer, as well as a bartender, in those joints.

I was a pretty nice guy, so I'm not worried that I was a jerk to you.

I visited that area a few years back, and they've gentrified it past the point of it being even mildly interesting, let alone the "scary" neighborhood I brought friends and relatives who were tourists to.

Anonymous said...

So being aware of what is going on around you is being paranoid? Sorry, but I was trained while in the Army to take note of everything around me at all tims. It kept me alive in Vietnam while spending almost 2 years in long range recon patrols. It has also kept me alive here in the good old US. But while I do have a licence to carry a concealed firearm, I have not carried one except when carrying very large sums of money.
BTW,the LEOs are not there to protect you. I can give you study after study proving that very point, where people died because the LEOs refused to honor a court ordered PPO. I knew 2 women murdered when the local, county and state LEOs all refused to arrest the person, until after the women, and in one case 2 kids, were killed.
But the comments here. The total hatred of our military, the total snobbery. So sure of yourself and your self-righteousness. I sincerely hope that neither you nor your loved ones ever need the police and that your self blindness when wandering around does not allow you to get mugged.
(BTW I spent a summer 1973 stationed in WADC. Where my friends and I wandered around the city dressed in cheap, ill fitting suits while driveing a US govt auto. 5 of us in the car, all well over 6 feet and none under 230 lbs. Yet we were never approached by criminals of any kind, most corner drug dealers took off when they spotted us(we were very easily entertained) I wonder why they did that.
Just because you disagree with my life or the lives of SEALs who are murdered, is no reason to insult and denigrate them. Fact is all you display is your total ignorance of what a person does to ecome a SEAL or other service special operations soldier. The fact is that people like myself and all who enlist in the military(less than 1% of the total population. If we ever get involved in a real war, expect to be drafted)have patriotism for our country. We are part of a small number of people who still believe what JFK said." Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"
I feel quite sorry for you all, you must lead very shallow lives, whithout sympathy or consideration for your fellow citizen. Espically one who is willing to give his life in defense of yours.
and BTW, you have no idea what the military looks for in a sniper. Some of what they look for is the same qualities looked for in AF nuclear missile watch officers.and Navy submarine commanders

Steve M. said...

So being aware of what is going on around you is being paranoid? Sorry, but I was trained while in the Army to take note of everything around me at all tims.

I learned to be aware of my surroundings living in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. That means I'm wary on a quiet street late at night. It doesn't mean I'm afraid to sit with my back to the freaking door in a crowded restaurant in the middle of a bustling city. (I've eaten in Providence -- the city is not a war zone.)

I'm sure my lack of "situational awareness" raises my risk of dying in a restaurant to approximately my risk of being struck by lightning. i'll live with the risk.