Safety for gun nuts

See update for April 18, 2021, at end of post.

So Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto posted the sort of anodyne response to a mass shooting in Indianapolis that’s expected, to which Matthew Shipton replied,

Peduto parried weakly, responding that he’d grown up with guns and been trained in them. And to which my own comment was,

In a way, however, I missed the point.

The point here, really, is that Shipton, and gun nuts like him, do not think anyone lacking gun experience has any standing whatsoever to say anything at all about guns.[1] Shipton thinks we literally have no idea what we’re talking about. He thinks we’re idiots.

There is, of course, the matter of yet another mass shooting in Indianapolis.[2] And using Shipton’s logic, we might suggest that, perhaps not having experienced tragedy himself, he knows nothing about it and should have nothing to say.

When folks suggest that the two sides of the gun control issue are talking past each other, this is what we’re looking at. But to leave it there would be a false equivalence.

Because Shipton complains that Peduto is “bashing police not letting them do their jobs” when in fact many, including myself, would want Peduto to go much further.[3] And we might wonder what Shipton thinks of police “do[ing] their jobs” when, on those undoubtedly rare occasions around Pittsburgh, they pull him over for a traffic violation even as, if he is true to form,[4] he routinely drives recklessly, aggressively, and at high speeds.

Shipton complains about “the 2 kids killed in Pitts yest,” and, presumably drawing on the “good man with a gun” idea, demands to know of Peduto, “How would u have stopped it?” Because, obviously, the police didn’t, and perhaps less obviously, neglects the many gun deaths that occur because the guns are out there,[5] available whether their users are “good” or “bad.”

Those two kids killed in Pittsburgh and the people dead in Indianapolis add to a lengthy toll of deaths, each an argument against guns, and more generally, an argument against a culture of pervasive violence manifest in everything from allegedly “patriotic” celebrations of militarism to road rage to “action” television shows to football and hockey. And, of course, with white supremacists, other assholes out in the woods, and unfortunately not just out in the woods,[6] and especially notably around Pittsburgh.[7] It’s a culture that gun nuts largely bring to the rest of us that reflects an entirely different and entirely incompatible notion of “peaceful coexistence.”

So here’s my suggestion for Shipton and others like him. Y’all pack your guns, your COVID-19 denial, your vaccine hesitancy, your right-wing conspiracy theories, your hatred, and take a trip down to Florida. Pick up Donald Trump and his family. And y’all go to Wyoming. And build yourselves a wall. Y’all like walls, right? Build yourselves a wall around the entire state. Make it nice and high. Top it with all the razor wire you like. Sink it down through earth’s crust right down to the fucking mantle. And lock the rest of us out. You’ll be nice and safe there.

Update, April 18, 2021: Matthew Shipton’s response, prior to my blocking him, informs me that I struck a nerve.

  1. [1]Actually, I have shot guns, once a .22 rifle at summer camp, and another when a cousin (on my father’s side) took me out to the desert near Hemet, California, to go shooting. And I owned guns in a time when I thought the second amendment means something from what it actually does: David Benfell, “Deconstructing the second amendment,” Not Housebroken, October 5, 2020, But that’s really not very much experience.
  2. [2]Steve Almasy, Jason Hanna and Amanda Watts, “Police ID gunman who killed 8 people at an Indianapolis FedEx facility as 19-year-old former employee,” CNN, April 17, 2021,
  3. [3]David Benfell, “At the point of a gun,” Not Housebroken, April 15, 2021,
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Hate, Pittsburgh Style,” Not Housebroken, April 6, 2021,
  5. [5]John Gramlich, “What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, August 16, 2019,
  6. [6]Laura E. Adkins and Emily Burack, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2021,; Associated Press, “Gun-toting far-right protesters try to force their way into Oregon’s Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, December 22, 2020,; Moriah Balingit, “Armed militia helped a Michigan barbershop open, a coronavirus defiance that puts Republican lawmakers in a bind,” Washington Post, May 12, 2020,; Ted Barrett, Manu Raju, and Peter Nickeas, “US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden’s win,” CNN, January 6, 2021,; Lois Beckett, “How the US military has failed to address white supremacy in its ranks,” Guardian, June 24, 2020,; Bryan Bender, “The military has a hate group problem. But it doesn’t know how bad it’s gotten,” Politico, January 11, 2021,; Mark Berman et al., “Protests spread over police shootings. Police promised reforms. Every year, they still shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people,” Washington Post, June 8, 2020,; Laura Bliss and Marie Patino, “Tracking the Shifting Shape of Far-Right Political Violence,” CityLab, October 16, 2020,; Ronald Brownstein, “Is the GOP’s extremist wing now too big to fail?” CNN, February 14, 2021,; Kyle Cheney, Sarah Ferris, and Laura Barrón-López, “‘Inside job’: House Dems ask if Capitol rioters had hidden help,” Politico, January 8, 2021,; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “9 Oath Keepers charged with sweeping conspiracy for role in Capitol insurrection,” Politico, February 19, 2021,; Zak Cheney-Rice, “We Can Probably Stop Asking Trump If He’s a White Supremacist,” New York, September 30, 2020,; Eric Cortellessa, “US far-right extremists are now calling social distancing a Nazi policy,” Times of Israel, April 17, 2020,; Tim Craig, “Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter activists clashed in a Florida suburb. Only one side was charged,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021,; Ryan Deto, “Photos: About 120 protest in Downtown Pittsburgh, calling for Pennsylvania to reopen during coronavirus pandemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 20, 2020,; James Downie, “Time to toss the ‘bad apples’ excuse,” Washington Post, May 31, 2020,; Rod Dreher, “Eric Metaxas’s American Apocalypse,” American Conservative, December 10, 2020,; Josie Ensor, “Fears for Biden inauguration as FBI warns of ‘armed uprising’ and pro-Trump protests in 50 state capitals,” Telegraph, January 12, 2021,; Barton Gellman, “The Secret World of Extreme Militias,” Time, September 30, 2010,,9171,2022636,00.html; Mike Giglio, “What’s Next for the Militias?” Intercept, January 20, 2021,; Mike Giglio, “A Pro-Trump Militant Group Has Recruited Thousands of Police, Soldiers, and Veterans,” Atlantic, November 2020,; Bryan Armen Graham, “‘Swastikas and nooses’: governor slams ‘racism’ of Michigan lockdown protest,” Guardian, May 3, 2020,; Megan Guza And Paul Peirce, “Western Pa. police ready for any election-related shenanigans, as report warns of possible militia violence,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 30, 2020,; Gina Harkins, “Veterans Used Their Military Training to Plot Violence in Capitol Riot, Feds Say,”, February 15, 2021,; Peter Hermann, Marissa J. Lang, and Clarence Williams, “Pro-Trump rally descends into chaos as Proud Boys roam D.C. looking to fight,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020,; Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, and Devlin Barrett, “Self-styled militia members planned on storming the U.S. Capitol days in advance of Jan. 6 attack, court documents say,” Washington Post, January 19, 2021,; Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman, “Self-styled militia members in three states began planning in November for recruits, weapons ahead of Capitol breach, U.S. alleges,” Washington Post, January 27, 2021,; Fred Kaplan, “Is America in the Early Stages of Armed Insurgency?” Slate, September 8, 2020,; Christopher Ketcham, “What the Far-Right Fascination With Pinochet’s Death Squads Should Tell Us,” Intercept, February 4, 2021,; Michael Kimmel, “America’s angriest white men: Up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy,” Salon, November 17, 2013,; Kimberly Kindy, Mark Berman, and Kim Bellware, “After Capitol riot, police chiefs work to root out officers with ties to extremist groups,” Washington Post, January 24, 2021,; Maggie Koerth, “The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration,” FiveThirtyEight, January 7, 2021,; Kurtis Lee, Jaweed Kaleem, and Laura King, “‘White supremacy was on full display.’ Double standard seen in police response to riot at Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2021,; Sophie Lewis, “Arizona Republican Party asks followers if they’re willing to die to overturn election results,” CBS News, December 10, 2020,; Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, and Michael Kunzelman, “FBI warns of plans for nationwide armed protests next week,” Associated Press, January 11, 2021, copy in possession of author; Hannah Knowles, Annie Gowen, and Tom Hamburger, “‘A dark, empty place:’ Public officials face personal threats as tensions flare,” Washington Post, December 13, 2020,; Talia Lavin, “The Violent Crescendo of the MAGA Conspiracies,” New Republic, January 6, 2021,; Nan Levinson, “The Far Right in Uniform,” TomDispatch, April 6, 2021,; Wesley Lowery, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no,” Washington Post, July 11, 2016,; Robert Mackey, “Neo-Fascist Proud Boys Exult Over Trump Telling Them to ‘Stand By,’ Not Stand Down,” Intercept, September 30, 2020,; Jamie Martines And Tom Davidson, “Protesters in Pittsburgh demand Gov. Wolf to reopen businesses amid coronavirus pandemic,” Tribune-Review, April 20, 2020,; Mary B. McCord, “Armed Militias Are Taking Trump’s Civil War Tweets Seriously,” Lawfare, October 2, 2019,; Brentin Mock, “What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings,” CityLab, August 6, 2019,; Luke Mogelson, “The Militias Against Masks,” New Yorker, August 17, 2020,; Danielle Moran, Laura Bliss, and Sarah Holder, “Cities Gird for Election Day Unrest,” CityLab, October 26, 2020,; Elie Mystal, “There’s Only One Possible Conclusion: White America Likes Its Killer Cops,” Nation, May 27, 2020,; Ciara O’Rourke, “How Oath Keepers Are Quietly Infiltrating Local Government,” Politico, December 9, 2020,; Robert A. Pape and Keven Ruby, “The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists,” Atlantic, February 2, 2021,; Joshua Partlow, “Politics at the point of a gun,” Washington Post, July 28, 2020,; Katelyn Polantz, “Justice Department says an Oath Keepers leader waited for Trump’s direction before Capitol attack,” CNN, February 11, 2021,; Anne Quito and Amanda Shendruk, “Decoding the flags and banners seen at the Capitol Hill insurrection,” Quartz, January 7, 2021,; Rashawn Ray and Rebecca Shankman, “How COVID-19 is changing the gun debate,” Brookings, June 17, 2020,; Richard Read, “Ammon Bundy, veteran of armed standoffs, builds militia network on COVID backlash,” Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2021,; Tony Romm, “Fake cures and other coronavirus conspiracy theories are flooding WhatsApp, leaving governments and users with a ‘sense of panic,’” Washington Post, March 2, 2020,; Kayla Ruble, Laura Vozzella, and Devlin Barrett, “Whitmer plotters also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, FBI agent testifies,” Washington Post, October 13, 2020,; Missy Ryan, Paul Sonne, and Razzan Nakhlawi, “Seeking to combat extremists in ranks, the military struggles to answer a basic question: How many are there?” Washington Post, February 9, 2021,; Leo Shane, III, “Signs of white supremacy, extremism up again in poll of active-duty troops,” Military Times, February 6, 2020,; Katie Shepherd, “Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state,” Washington Post, December 7, 2020,; David Shortell, “Five people associated with Proud Boys arrested for Capitol riot on conspiracy charges,” CNN, February 11, 2021,; Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm, “Pro-gun activists using Facebook groups to push anti-quarantine protests,” Washington Post, April 19, 2020,; Rebecca Tan et al., “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021,; Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, “How Do We Change America?” New Yorker, June 8, 2020,; Aruna Viswanatha, “Conspiracy Charges Filed Over Capitol Riot,” Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2021,; Kelly Weill, “Sixteen ‘Boogaloo’ Followers Have Been Busted in 7 Days,” Daily Beast, October 9, 2020,; Jason Wilson, “Proud Boys are a dangerous ‘white supremacist’ group say US agencies,” Guardian, October 1, 2020,; Jason Wilson, “US militia group draws members from military and police, website leak shows,” Guardian, March 3, 2021,; Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett, and Abigail Hauslohner, “FBI charges six who it says plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as seven more who wanted to ignite civil war face state charges,” Washington Post, October 8, 2020,
  7. [7]Miriam Berger, “Pittsburgh paper accused of barring black reporters from covering protests, censoring stories,” Washington Post, June 6, 2020,; Colin P. Clarke, “One Year After Tree of Life, We Still Aren’t Talking Enough About Violent White Supremacy,” Rand, October 27, 2019,; Letrell Deshan Crittenden, “The Pittsburgh problem: race, media and everyday life in the Steel City,” Columbia Journalism Review, October 25, 2019,
    ; Ryan Deto, “The FBI declared Pgh. a new hub for white supremacy. That ignores decades of history,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, November 16, 2020,; Kim Lyons, “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Fired as Paper Shifts Right,” New York Times, June 15, 2018,; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018,; Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020,

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