The American Bear


School conducts surprise shooting drill with real gunmen firing blanks


Two masked men wearing hoodies and wielding handguns burst into the Pine Eagle Charter School in this tiny rural community on Friday. Students were at home for an in-service day, so the gunmen headed into a meeting room full of teachers and opened fire.

Someone figured out in a few seconds that the bullets were not drawing blood because they were blanks and the exercise was a drill, designed to test Pine Eagle’s preparation for an assault by “active shooters” who were, in reality, members of the school staff. But those few seconds left everybody plenty scared.

The surprised staff had received training from the Union County Sheriff’s Office on active shooter scenarios. They had been told they had some options, such as not rushing out of their classrooms when gunfire erupted, and locking and barricading their doors.

They weren’t expecting a drill like this, and they were caught by surprise when the two men entered and began firing.

“There was some commotion,” DeCastro said.

The goal of the drill was to learn how people would react, so better emergency plans could be made, she said.


(Source:, via randomactsofchaos)

No, the great and worthy revolutions in human history are never about the weaponry — never. And so the gun-rights advocates claim of being a bulwark against tyranny always lands on anyone paying attention to historical precedent as being self-aggrandizing, self-absorbed bullshit. Gandhi got rid of the British without firing a shot. And in the labor movement in this country, which was necessary to help created the consumerist American middle class and the great economic engine of the last century, the guns were on the sides of the Pinkertons, and the police riot squads. Collective bargaining wasn’t achieved by rifleshot; it endured rifleshot. And the civil rights movement? Again, the brick calls attention to the desperation. But when you start thinking that with better weapons, and tactics, and maybe some well-placed bombs or assassinations that you can assert for rightful change in governance, you are on a fool’s road. And the gun lobby has a lot of people — you included, apparently — traveling that road. David Simon (via azspot)

(via azspot)

Measured against profit and political security, dead children mean nothing. Common sense is easily dispatched. Truth itself is expendable in any circumstance. Only cash still has meaning to those who claim to represent us. And the cash will always be there, more with every election cycle. Unsatisfied with the profits that can be achieved within the context of actual representative government, capital has instead succeeded in buying the remnants of democracy at wholesale prices, so that profit can always be maximized and any other societal need or priority can be ignored. David Simon

America’s Death Wish | Norman Pollack

Again we hear (NYT ed., 4/6) about “the damage wrought by the gun lobby,” as though a cabal of manufacturers and other interested parties was responsible for the diseased mentality centered on gun violence in America. What a convenient scapegoat, when in reality structural-cultural behavioral malfunction taking ideological and political form, increasingly seen in daily life, speaks instead to the institutional core of society. America exemplifies a social system of puristic capitalism.

Whatever occurs in that matrix, from top to bottom, from targeted assassination to streetcorner hold-ups, from the activities of POTUS to that of the gang member, must be related back to the originative framework, one characterized by militarism, the commission of war crimes, abrogation of the rule of law, policy-designs promotive of unemployment, deregulation, trickle-down wealth distribution accentuating and making worse class differentials of income and power, and inequality as the first principle of life. In sum, human worth has no intrinsic value or meaning. This profound alienation is not caused by, but is the precedent condition for, gun violence.

How view Newtown, when drones kill more children in a year via collateral damage than a half-century of senseless mayhem? A deranged killer, or America’s top leadership huddled together on Terror Tuesdays, flipping baseball cards to determine who next is vaporized, just steps off the Situation Room? To exonerate a dying culture and the death it creates and sucks down with it, is simplistic when before our eyes we see human indifference at every turn, and cover-ups to hide our mechanisms of repression and exploitation, a condition of self-pacification which makes life tolerable and the blood-letting normal. Violence, of course, has been central to the American experience, over 400 years in the making. This has been not only individual violence, always present when the political culture sanctions what some can do to others with impunity, but also structural-economic violence, as in the enforcement of slavery and the immiserization of the working class, in both cases reflecting stages of capitalist development in which the organization of the labor force receives prime consideration.

But with the disciplining of labor inevitably comes the legitimation of force per se, part of the inventory of the peacetime army and also franchised out to Pinkertons, strikebreakers, and goon squads of every description. Suppression was America’s middle name when it came to maintaining the status quo, more recently giving way to subtler means of gaining class advantage (as in stimulating false consciousness), but with the same unmistakable authorization of force should there be the need.

Does this take us to the roots of gun violence? Probably not. Antecedently, we must look to how the human personality has been shaped by the specific features of the institutional system–and oddly enough, the starting place for both is the same: the political economy which thrives on the insensate individual, rejects moral standards not generated by or conducive to the property right (the materialization of ethics), and finds war the ideal state for advancing hegemonic interests (as well as disposing of surplus production). This may seem a stretch in accounting for garden-variety crime, but consider, how would crime, gun violence in particular, be sustained in the absence of invidious distinctions? In juridical principles and practices devoted to the equalitarian administration of justice? In gross domestic product directed to the well-being of society, not simply its militarization?

The odds are stacked against gun control, let alone gun disappearance. Cosmetic surgery may follow the recent flurry of interest. Even then, the pathology of force, intuitively sensing nothing has been done, will create a still deeper penetration of the American psyche. [++]

The gun lobby would be powerless if the society were genuinely democratic. As it is, America reveals its innermost nature (gun violence providing irrefutable proof): a culture of unrestrained individualism, underpinned by a doctrine of unlimited wealth accumulation, by any means possible. Humans become transvalued as objects, better yet, obstacles, to be run over when they stand in the way of one’s goals, themselves narrowly materialistic. How expect otherwise, given policies at the top favoring assassination, massive defense spending, confrontation with China, paramilitary operations on a global basis? Desensitization to death, contempt for rule of law, the doctrine of permanent war, all testify to the enshrinement of violence. Demonizing advocates for “gun rights” merely passes the buck. WE are the problem, not the crazies in our midst, and until we take stock of American militarism, poisoning the wellsprings of society’s basic values, there shall be countless more Newtowns in our future, marching stride for stride with interventions, joint exercises, weapons’ development, an atmosphere of shock and awe. If Obama wishes to make an impact on gun control, let him first forswear the use of armed drones for targeted assassination, campaigns for regime change, and, at home, the slow deaths of our people facing unemployment, foreclosure, and other social diseases brought on directly through deregulation of the economy and the wider militarization of American life. Norman Pollack, America’s Death Wish

An Agreement on Arms -- With No Teeth | FPIF

Fearing the disruption of gun exports, the National Rifle Association vociferously opposed the Arms Trade Treaty that was approved on April 2 by the UN General Assembly.

The NRA always fights gun-related legislation because it fears a “slippery slope” toward confiscation. But its cause for concern in this case—the treaty’s non-binding call for national record-keeping, which is actually far less detailed than what is already required by existing U.S. laws—is so far-fetched as to be laughable.

The joke, though, is not just on the NRA. While the treaty doesn’t do anything to affect American gun owners, it’s so weak that it doesn’t seem to affect anybody at all. [++]

'Guns make me feel stupid,' I replied. 'You can’t discuss anything with them. You shoot or you bluff that you’re going to shoot. And the other guy can shoot you.' The discussion broke off. My neighbor like millions of my fellow citizens was frightened and guns made him feel more secure, as they do for gun owners throughout the country who spend time cleaning and polishing their weapons, their manhood. Saul Landau, Gun Envy

As Part Of Lockdown Drill, School Fires Off Blanks In The Halls


Students at a high school in Illinois experienced a uniquely terrifying school shooting drill on Wednesday. Instead of conducting a regular school lockdown, Cary-Grove High School administrators simulated gunfire by shooting off blanks in the hallways while students locked their classroom doors, pulled the curtains, and hid.

The drill, understandably, upset some parents in the area, who received a letter ahead of time telling them what their children would be experiencing:

The simulation will take approximately 15-20 minutes, during which time teachers will secure their rooms, draw curtains, and keep their students from traveling throughout the building. Please note that we will be firing blanks in the hallway in an effort to provide our teachers and students some familiarity with the sound of gunfire. Our school resource officer and other members of the Cary Police Department will assist us in sweeping the building to ensure that all students are in a secure location during the drill. At the conclusion of the drill, we will take some time to process what occurred and then we will return to our normal classroom routine.

I encourage you to discuss the drill with your student both before it happens and after. These drills help our students and staff to be prepared should a crisis occur, but it may cause some students to have an emotional reaction.

(via zeram-deactivated20130410)

But the same forces that block sensible gun laws also block action on other social problems. We have too many guns in this country; we also have too much poverty and inequality and mental illness, and they’re all tied together. It’s galling to watch LaPierre and others on the right pretend they care about mental health treatment, for instance. The same political stalemate that’s blocked action on guns has also made it harder to deal with other social problems that fracture us. While Hadiya Pendleton went to a good school and was shot in an upper middle class neighborhood not far from the president’s Chicago home, her assailants are reportedly gang members, and the plague of gang violence — which springs from generations of chronic, festering and unanswered urban poverty and violence – has been ignored for too long because it rarely touches the people deemed to matter in our country. Standing up to gun bullies - (via dendroica)

(via randomactsofchaos)