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The presence of a gun in confrontations too often leads to the exercise of poor judgment – with deadly consequences.

The presence of a gun in confrontations too often leads to the exercise of poor judgment – with deadly consequences.

Curtis Reeves was the quintessential law abiding gun owner; a 71-year old retired Tampa police captain with numerous commendations and a record of leading other agencies in gun safety training. He was a poster child, in other words, for the NRA’s narrative that gun restrictions only impede the likes of Curtis Reeves and not criminals. That is until Reeves shot dead Chad Oulson, a married father of a little girl, in a movie theatre altercation triggered by the victim texting during the previews. Reeves is claiming self-defense after the argument escalated when Oulson allegedly threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, receiving a fatal gunshot in return.

In early November, Renisha McBride a young (and, reportedly, inebriated) black woman was killed by a shotgun blast to the face in the early morning hours on the porch of a house in a Detroit suburb where she had evidently sought help after crashing her car. The white homeowner is claiming self-defense but has been charged with second degree murder.

Later the same month in Chickamauga, Georgia, Ronald Westbrook, a 72-year old man suffering from Alzheimer’s was shot and killed in similar circumstances to McBride when, disoriented and confused in the middle of the night, he knocked at the door of a house and was taken for an intruder by the fiancé of the homeowner. Again self-defense was claimed. No charges are likely.

Finally, we have the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida at the hands of a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder but exonerated by a jury that accepted his assertion of self-defense.

In the daily grind of gun violence in America these cases are not exceptional other than as clear illustrations of the folly in believing that an armed citizenry makes our society safer. After all, the shooters here were not criminals or gang-bangers, they were not manifestly mentally ill, nor had they snapped as a result of some traumatic event such as a painful divorce or losing a job.

Yet they each shot and killed another law abiding citizen who was, incidentally, unarmed. The cases highlight the way in which the presence of a firearm changes the dynamic of a situation, and the behavior of the one who is armed.

Renisha McBride and Ronald Westbrook, for example, had the misfortune to encounter individuals so scared of the world outside their front door that when faced with an imaginary threat from someone knocking on it in the middle of the night, they opened fire. Unfortunately, fear seems to be especially prevalent among gun owners, which may explain why they arm themselves in the first place.

Chad Oulson on the other hand was the victim of an angry man who also happened to be armed. Anger is another driver of gun violence even, as in this case, when the offense caused is over something as petty as texting.

George Zimmerman is an example of yet another sort of “law abiding gun owner”; the sort who derive false courage from possessing a gun. Does anyone believe, for example, that Zimmerman would have risked a confrontation with the six-foot Martin by leaving his vehicle to follow him had he not been armed? And when Martin confronted his armed stalker he ended up dead.

The common thread in each case was that the presence of a firearm drove the judgment and behavior of the shooter, thereby changing the outcome from what it would otherwise have been had there been no gun.

In the absence of a firearm, common sense would have prevailed, the police called and both Westbrook and McBride would have been returned safely home. An unarmed George Zimmerman would have followed the advice of the police dispatcher and stayed in his vehicle while the police checked out Martin. Who knows what Curtis Reeves would have done but without a gun nobody would have got seriously hurt in that movie theatre.

The Oulson case is particularly disturbing, however, because it explodes the myth that we have nothing to fear from the law abiding gun owner and concealed carry permit holder toting his arsenal around with him in public. After all, if we can’t rely on a Curtis Reeves to behave with restraint, how can we ever trust that we won’t end up like Chad Oulson the next time we piss off someone for whatever reason in a bar, or a shopping mall or a movie theatre and they happen to be armed?

Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland Colorado

Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland Colorado

And you may ask yourself, what the heck is Frozen Dead Guy Days?  I wondered that myself when I discovered it on my Life in Hell calendar, so I looked it up.  The Nederland Colorado Chamber of Commerce pitches it this way:

A wild and wacky celebration of all things dead, frozen, and frigidly fun, Frozen Dead Guy Days (FDGD) has gathered international acclaim. Winning the Governor’s Award for Best Promotional Event in Colorado and the Reader’s Digest Top Five Winter Festivals in the United States, this year’s FDGD promises to be the biggest yet – with more events, sponsors, and general cold craziness.

FDGD was founded as a tribute to Grandpa Bredo Morstoel from Norway. After his death due to a heart condition in 1989, his daughter and grandson packed him in dry ice and shipped him to a U.S. cryonics facility for eventual reanimation. In 1993, they moved Grandpa to Nederland, CO in hopes to start their own cryonic facility. He has been sheltered in a Tuff Shed for 21 years, where dry ice keeps him frozen and preserved.

Frozen Dead Guy Days start Friday, April 4th and run through Sunday, April 6th.

Coffin races, polar plunges, and lot of other bad craziness.  Watch and learn.

There’s actually a short documentary film about all this titled Grandpa’s in the Tuff Shed. Watch it if you can find. it.

Now go on out to Nederland Colorado this weekend, where temperatures are predicted to range form lows of 12 degrees to highs of 43 degrees, and Freeze the Day!

Farrah Fawcett is Dead

Farrah Fawcett is Dead

The hottie from the poster on my wall as a kid has died.  I have fond memories of her, as l spent many a night falling asleep to her playful gaze.

Entertainment Weekly has details:

Actress Farrah Fawcett died on June 25 in Los Angeles at the age of 62. With her passing after a long battle with anal cancer, we lose one of the quintessential symbols of post-feminist Hollywood, a definitive pinup who somehow parlayed a delicate-flower demeanor and all-American beauty into a 30-year career.

“After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away,” Fawcett’s longtime companion Ryan O’Neal said via a statement. “Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world.”