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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
Feb. 19, 2014 12:01 a.m.



In the newsroom, we traditionally define three of anything as a trend. By that measure, there’s an awfully dangerous trend in Florida: Armed men with anger management issues killing unarmed men who did something to piss off the wrong guy at the wrong time:

1. George Zimmerman kills Trayvon Martin for walking in the rain in a hoodie, and maybe mouthing off when confronted by a stranger.

2. Curtis Reeves kills Chad Oulsen for texting during the previews and maybe mouthing off when the older guy complained and maybe spilling popcorn on him.

3. Michael Dunn kills Jordan Davis for playing the music too loud on his car stereo, and maybe threatening Dunn with a gun that only Dunn saw.

Yes, there are racial aspects to two of these cases that I’m not going into.  Yes, there is conflicting testimony to unwrap, legal strategies to be analyzed, and the problem of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Dunn was apparently standing his ground while he got out of his car and shot 9 rounds into a car filled with teenagers driving away.

And while we’re likely to argue about guns, it’s the mentality revealed in these cases that worries me.   I’ve never been a gun owner, and never wanted to be one.  I’ll stipulate that there are millions of responsible gun owners, including several that participate in this forum.  I ask them especially to explain how Zimmerman, Reeves and Dunn think.  Tiptoeing into pop psychology, it seems to me our possessions sometimes possess us.  Of the people who carry a handgun even when they aren’t on their way to a firing range, many (most?) assume they may have to use it at any moment.  Many (most?) assume everyone else is carrying guns. Some amuse themselves by watching other people suspiciously and  playing out scenarios in their heads in which they would have to shoot someone – in self-defense, at least.

So here we have three cases where gun owners made a snap decision to draw their guns and fire – and it was the wrong decision, to the extent that none of the three victims was armed and the three shooters landed in court.  The shooter is responsible, not the gun, of course.  But does the gun itself carry some totemic power? Is it like the ring hung around Frodo’s neck, calling out for him to use it?  Does it make the owner – again, probably some small percentage of owners – feel more threatened than he really is?  And has the cult of militant gun advocacy reduced the inhibitions that might cause ordinary people to hold back for the few seconds it might take to ascertain that the threat wasn’t just in their angry heads?

“I’m the f— victim here,” Dunn said in a jailhouse interview. “Something happened inside of me when he advanced towards me and my paralysis left me,” Dunn continued. “Between fear, adrenaline and muscle-memory, I grabbed my pistol from the glove box. As I was doing so, I shouted, ‘You’re not going to kill me you son of a b—-!’”

Is this a trend? If so, how many more innocent people will die because “something happens inside” men carrying loaded guns waiting to be used?


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