You know, it used to be that when I wrote something that got published at the Huffington Post, the blowback I received came from HuffPo's regular peanut gallery of humorless, perpetually aggrieved professional liberals. These days, though, especially when you dare to get near a landmine in the culture war, the angry comments tend to come more from the right. I'm not sure whether there's always been a bunch of holdovers from the site's infancy -- when Breitbart was associated with it -- living underground at Huffington, waiting for the right time to stage some kind of coup, or it has something to do with HuffPo's merger with the official internet service provider of the flyovers, AOL, but there seem to be more and more voices from the far-right hijacking any and every conversation over there.
Case in point: the somewhat surprising amount of anti-gun control vitriol and general resistance in response to my piece on the role that Joe Arpaio's "posse" is playing in the guarding of schools in Maricopa County, Arizona. A good portion of the comments -- I'd say most of them, actually -- took me to task for daring to suggest that cracking down on guns and gun possession is a better idea than putting an armed retiree in a car in front of most Phoenix-area schools to defend against the problem of gun violence rather than actually trying to stop the problem of gun violence.
Behold, my public:
"Stop at your local shooting range and see who is there. You'd be hard-pressed to find a police officer.
Most of the regulars are just ordinary civilians. There are many talented people there. Yes, I want them around when the SHTF.
I don't expect libs to know these things."
For those of you who don't speak crazy, let me help you out: SHTF, which of course stands for "Shit Hits the Fan," is a common refrain among the conspiracist "prepper" crowd. It's lingo that not only allows one nutjob who believes that some kind of societal collapse is imminent to easily know that he's talking to another, it justifies his desperate need to build a panic room in his basement, stock up on canned goods and, of course, assault rifles, and otherwise prepare himself for the arrival of the end of days. The above commenter's use of that acronym tells you immediately where he's coming from -- and it's basically a homemade bunker.
"The author is surely against anything that remotely shows signs of protecting the 2nd Amendment by utilizing trained volunteers, who have been praised by the DEA, the FBI, the DPS, ICE and Border Patrol for their conduct, behavior. knowledge and dedication. Sheriff Joe does what he feels best to protect the citizens of Maricopa County - after all, that is his job."
Arpaio also unlawfully harasses Latinos, disregards the Constitution when he feels like it and has failed to investigate more than 400 sex crimes cases, most involving molested children, because he was busy taking on the Mexican menace and self-servingly grandstanding. That also part of his job?
"Assault rifles aren't used in crimes or mass shootings.
Yes we are going to 'fix' the problem of crazy people killing other people by taking away one thing they can use. Then the crazy person will be snapped back into sanity and say, 'I can't use a rifle to kill anyone, so I guess that means killing is bad and I shouldn't kill.' Magically all homicidal and suicidal thoughts stop at the signing of the AWB.
I don't think a AR-15 would make someone 'heavily armed.' Also they aren't 'military grade'"
-- Spot the Mighty
If you don't think wielding an AR-15 makes you heavily armed, it terrifies me to imagine what you think does.
"This article shows the utter absurdity of the gun control extremist position
According to the author, a gun makes an untrained kid invincible, but it's useless in the hands of a good citizen, no matter how well trained they are.
His position is a complete contradiction and makes no sense at all.
Also, mass shooters almost never seek out gunfights. That's why they virtually always carry out their massacres at gun free zones. They want helpless victims, not people who can shoot back.
If they wanted shootouts, they would go to a police station, gun shop, or target shooting range, where the people at those locations would be happy to oblige them.
Instead they pick gun free zones full of people who are disarmed and defenseless. That is not coincidental."
"Yet, mass murderers always seem to target areas where the ability to defend your life is denied. Your premise suggest we are way past due for a sociopath to show up and start shooting at a gun show or public shooting range."
-- William Ashbless
The above two comments were a pretty standard response -- that school shooters and others willing to incite an active shooter situation in a public place drop their weapons or take their own life at the first sign of armed resistance. There's a difference between being surrounded by a 30-man ESU or SWAT team and having the drop on one old guy sitting in a car, armed or not. The fact is, as I said in the piece, it would take all of two days of casing the area or simply noticing your surroundings to figure out how to easily get rid of that kind of threat. The shooter has the element of surprise and that counts for quite a bit. There very likely wouldn't even be a gunfight. The shooter doesn't need to be invincible -- he only needs to pay attention.
"Many private citizens ARE more skilled with a gun than the average cop, that is a fact."
"Since the feds can't enforce the existing laws on the books, then Sheriff Joe wil along with volunteers and vigilantes who cost ZERO tax payer dollars."
Yes, and, I'd bet, zero taxpayer accountability.
"Well the Presidents response was to put together a crack team of gun banners to have a 'conversation' and put together a plan to ban some guns... All the while the guns were still out there, the crazies were still out there, and the kids were still in so called 'gun free zones.'"
-- Brian Bender
Ah, yes, those pussy, gun-hating liberals and all their talking. I swear, I'm seriously considering shooting the next asshole who rails against how our kids are left as defenseless lambs by any attempt to stop guns from getting near their schools. I get the impression that eventually these psychopaths are going to lobby for the right to arm the kids themselves (if they haven't already).
"I think you are missing the point, the guard aren't there to act as a deterrent, they are they to act as a barrier. If some kid with a gun rolls onto campus carrying a shotgun in plain view or tries to shoot through a door to get in, the guys with guns are there to shoot back. No remorse, no stopping to ask questions. if you walk onto campus with a rifle in plain view, you get a copper jacketed ticket to the afterlife."
-- Trevor Lawrence
A copper-jacketed ticket to the afterlife. Settle down there, Clint. Sure, this is a throwaway line but it inadvertently provides all kinds of insight into the way some of these guys regard guns and the use of them -- the 'roided out, hyper-masculine fantasy they have of what it must be like to kill somebody the same way they get to in Black Ops 2.
It's this way of thinking, this kind of gun idolatry, that's the problem. And a person who talks this kind of shit, who looks at the act of killing another human being as some kind of expression of macho bad-assery, is the last person you want carrying a gun.