A fellow editor observed that the search would now begin to understand the sad sniping deaths of five middle-school students, apparently at the hands of fellow teens in Arkansas March 24, "as though it can ever be understood."
I replied with a question:
"I seem to remember from my physiological psychology lab courses that, if you confine a large enough number of rats in a small enough cage against their will -- particularly whole, adolescent male rats -- they WILL start killing one another. And they don't seem to need firearms to get started.
"Am I missing something here? Attendance at our mandatory government youth propaganda camps IS still mandatory, isn't it? As a matter of fact, where 50 years ago the average 16-year-old faced no social ostracism or legal penalty if he or she hit the road, took a job, and started a family, today we've started to threaten to take away their drivers' licenses if they try to escape, haven't we? While at the same time casting out as unemployable, used-goods 'trailer park trash' any girl who gets pregnant and declines to have a quick abortion, and dumbing down the academic curriculum so the average high school graduate today knows infinitely less of history, grammar, Latin, French, Greek, German, mathematics, economics, literature or political philosophy than the average 10th grader in 1938?
"We ARE still dragooning them by force, organizing them by inappropriate age cohorts like the Prussian army camps on which this system was based, and then locking them in for hour upon hour, month upon month of mind-numbing and pointless drudgery and pro-government indoctrination, making them jump up and run from room to room, eat and even defecate in artificial, jumped-up, relays and schedules and then only after begging the permission of our most punctilious, despicable, functionally illiterate little bureaucratic toads ... AREN'T we?
"Is the problem really that their violence 'can't ever be understood' ... or just that it has explanations we're not nearly ready to confront?"
These fans of a monopoly on arms by big, armed government forget not only the lesson of the Holocaust, but also the visionary warning of Henry St. George Tucker, in Blackstone's 1768 "Commentaries on the Laws of England," that:
"The right of self-defense is the first law of nature; in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
In how bad a police state do we now live? I'm running out of room in my schedule to finish researching and reporting the tale of 25-year-old Brian Cox, shot dead by Northern Virginia police after they entered the bedroom where he was sleeping in his home on Dec. 12, 1997.
Police crept in without warning or warrant, having received a report that someone was breaking in, hours before. (Their innocent victim had indeed broken a window to get into his own home, having earlier locked himself out.) When strange men looming unannounced in his darkened bedroom grabbed his foot and shook him awake, our citizen raised a rifle with which he wisely slept, and was shot dead. Shot eight times, in fact. No charges filed against the cops, who Virginia authorities later ruled had committed this police murder, like so many others, "entirely by the book."
How about Steven Dons of Portland, Ore., who heard a gang of felons breaking down his front door, without announcing who they were, presenting a warrant, or doing anything else the Fourth Amendment requires?
Mr. Dons shot better and quicker, wounding two and killing one officer of his own mayor's absurd "Marijuana Task Force," whose survivors later claimed they were justified in breaking in without a warrant because they "smelled burning hemp."
The man who defended his home as allowed and encouraged by the Second Amendment was himself wounded and hauled off to jail, where on Feb. 25 he "committed suicide while in custody." No police officer ever charged, of course.
Even the New York Times recently reported on two "wrong apartment" police atrocities committed ON THE SAME DAY, Feb. 27, one of harmless 44-year-old black man Ellis Elliott, rousted out of his apartment naked after his door was broken down, and made to dress in women's clothing for his trip to jail and back. No drugs found, though he was charged with "illegal" possession of the .25-caliber revolver with which he harmlessly tried to fire a warning shot against the unknown assailants knocking down his door, earning for his trouble a fusillade of shots that peppered the place with lead.
(The weapon is now seized. Will the press report that it's the government's fault if this now-disarmed man is later killed by some other kind of criminal? Of course not.)
The second "wrong address" break-in that day terrorized eight-month-pregnant Shaunsia Patterson and her three children in the Bronx -- Ms. Patterson was made to lie in her wet bedclothes for hours, having peed herself in her terror when her door was blown in, while all her belongings were trashed in a fruitless search for non-existent drugs.
When her 15-year-old daughter Misty, just returned from school, tried to ask why their door had been blown in, and whether the rampaging police had a warrant (they did not), her face was pushed into the floor by a police boot, and she was told to "Shut the (expletive) up!"
Now, where on earth would some clueless Arkansas teen-agers get the idea that guns and violence are a good way to effect changes in social behavior, and that the guys with the guns never face any real ramifications for their excesses?
This is an ideal weapon for dropping an enemy at 200 to 600 yards. But how, at that range, do you say "Police; you're under arrest; drop the weapon or I'll fire"? You don't, of course.
As though the lads aren't evidencing sufficient testosterone poisoning already, I find on page 65 of the February edition of this publication an ad for "STEROIDS DIRECT FROM BULGARIA ... anything stronger would be illegal!" Meantime, in his page 10 column "SWAT Talk," one Gary Paul Johnston offer some "Thoughts on Forced Entry":
"When the door was broken down with the ram, the first man in was met with a shot from a .22 rimfire rifle. Luckily the bullet hit his entry vest and the officer was otherwise unharmed, though he suffered a painful punch.
"When he realized it was the police who'd entered, the suspect immediately dropped his rifle and surrendered. In retrospect, when he heard noise outside he'd thought someone was coming to steal his drugs."
So does Officer Johnston advise that cops do a better job of loudly announcing who they are, making sure their badges and search warrants are held out in plain sight where citizens can easily see them and avoid such cases of mistaken identity?
Quite to the contrary:
"To prevent such early detection during a raid, I'd stick a piece of Scotch tape to the outside of my holster," Officer Johnston advises the magazine's attentive readers. "When we'd reach the door of the apartment we were going to enter, I'd remove the tape and put it over the peephole.
"While chewing gum will work, the translucent tape will allow light to pass, though the view is unclear, which serves to confuse the suspect, giving you a few more seconds to hit the door."
Yep. Confusion, gunfire, naked victims soiling themselves, and grinding children's faces into the carpet with our boots. That's the way we play the game, in our happy new P-O-L-I-C-E S-T-A-T-E.
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.