Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.
Authorities said Beatriz Cintora-Silva called 911 shortly after 4 a.m. to report shots fired. The 911 dispatcher heard her cry, "No, no, no," followed by a gunshot. Sanchez took the phone, told the dispatcher he had killed three people and that he was going to kill himself, authorities said. The dispatcher then heard a single shot followed by silence.Cook said Sanchez had been arrested Saturday in Longmont on charges of domestic violence, kidnapping and false arrest for allegedly holding Maria Cintora-Silva against her will after their relationship ended. Sanchez was released on bail from the Boulder County jail at 10 p.m. Monday and drove to the home where Cintora-Silva had taken refuge with her sister and brother-in-law, Cook said. "He shot out the back door," Cook said. "He shot that out then gained entry into the house."The bodies of Ojeda and his wife were found in one bedroom. His sister-in-law and Sanchez were found in another, Cook said. Authorities found a .45-caliber Glock handgun near Sanchez's body and 16 spent shell casings around the house, Cook said, adding that investigators were still examining the house and might find more.Cook said Sanchez had two magazines for the gun, and each held 13 rounds of ammunition. Sanchez had been living in another house in the same neighborhood of tidy modular homes, winding walkways and parks.Investigators searching that home found the original box the handgun had been sold in, but they did not find a receipt, and it was unclear when he bought it, Cook said.
My ex-husband tried to kill me after months of working himself up to it. The day of the event he was at my house, and spent a good half hour following me around, badgering me about things, working himself up into a frenzy about nothing, until he totally lost it and started beating the crap out of me.The only thing that stopped him from grabbing a knife and finishing the job was that someone walked in on him. Amazingly then the first thing he said was 'oh my god what have I done, please don't have me arrested'. In retrospect I see it as a long brewing, calculated step into madness, then an attempt afterwards to blame me for it. 15 years later he still takes no responsibility.To think that a person who is consciously capable of that kind of act, or a person so lacking in relationship skills that he can't manage to get out of a situation without killing the other person is going to possess the skills to know when it's time to give up his gun is not realistic. These guys are deep in the depths of denial.
After our first date, my future wife's stalker, a truly pathological man she had briefly dated months earlier, revealed himself by physically attacking her in a grocery store parking lot. This started a three month reign of terror, which included an attempt to choke her to death in the unattached garage where the laundry room was. He was finally jailed after beating another woman he was stalking at the same time into a coma. The harassment didn't stop until I beat the sh*t out of a friend of his he had stalking her further, when he tried to break into her house while I was dog-sitting.There are truly ill people in this world. I'm sure my wife's stalker is out of jail now. I contemplate what I shall do should he ever appear again. I am ashamed to say that my guilt over not being able to protect her -- a bullshit male response if there ever was one -- were it not for the fact that we now have children, might well result in his death should he approach her again. It remains the only time in my life I have coldly reasoned how much violence I wish to mete out, and how I could get away with it.
Someone I dated briefly in high school showed up at my house one night shortly after I stopped going out with him drunk and with a pistol, threatening to shoot me. A mutual friend was also there and restrained him. I never even told my parents, who were upstairs asleep at the time, let alone called the police. He verbally terrorized me for months afterward, making life in my small high school pretty ugly for awhile.I marvel now, more than 35 years later, that I was so accepting of the idea of my own powerlessness in the situation that it never occurred to me to defend myself or to prosecute the guy in any way. Nor did it occur to any of my classmates who knew about the incident to discuss it with any authority figure. Profoundly fncked.
My ex-wife's second husband during the dissolution of their marriage shot a rifle in her vicinity inside their house, in a room where my second daughter and granddaughter by my first daughter, no more than an infant at the time, were also. He was not a hunter; I had never known him to shoot or discuss self defense. He was not a collector. This was Texas, where guns and rifles in the home are as common as cups and saucers.For a month afterwords, my daughter stayed in the same bed as her mother (I did not find out till all this was over or I would have been very upset) to protect her. He was never arrested, albeit there was a restraining order put on him to stay away from my ex-wife, though not my daughter or granddaughter, after a hearing in which my daughter, who had had an excellent relationship with him for years, had to testify to assure the petition's success. She told me later it was, up to that point, the most terrible day of her life, and I believe it was the event that triggered her bi-polar condition in ensuing years. The rifle was legal and registered.He has denied the incident ever occurred for over a decade, so convincingly so that one must infer that his memory has erased the event and replaced it with an entirely different narrative he has supplied for himself and repeated to himself. He has never once since demonstrated any violent behavior toward anyone, let alone gun use. If he had hit either my granddaughter or daughter it would have been an accident, a slip or trip, perhaps a ricochet: he was not, according to my daughter, aiming in their direction.
The investigation into the attack on the diplomatic mission and the C.I.A. annex in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans also faulted State Department officials in Washington for ignoring requests from the American Embassy in Tripoli for more guards for the mission and for failing to make sufficient safety upgrades.The panel also said American intelligence officials had relied too much on specific warnings of imminent attacks, which they did not have in the case of Benghazi, rather than basing assessments more broadly on a deteriorating security environment. By this spring, Benghazi, a hotbed of militant activity in eastern Libya, had experienced a string of assassinations, an attack on a British envoy's motorcade and the explosion of a bomb outside the American Mission.Finally, the report blamed two major State Department bureaus -- Diplomatic Security and Near Eastern Affairs -- for failing to coordinate and plan adequate security. The panel also determined that a number of officials had shown poor leadership, but they were not identified in the unclassified version of the report that was released.
Ambassador Stevens had e-mailed his superiors in Washington in August alerting them to "a security vacuum" in the city. But the report found that in planning his trip there in September, he did not foresee that the compound could come under such a sustained attack, which included mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, despite the worsening security situation."His status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy, and his expertise on Benghazi in particular, caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments," it said.Mr. Stevens was making his first visit to Benghazi in 10 months. But his plans for taking only two American security agents "were not shared thoroughly with the embassy's country team, who were not fully aware of the planned movements off the compound," the report determined.
Less than two months ago, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher sent a foreboding text message to a secret girlfriend, expressing turmoil and frustration with his longtime girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. In the message, Belcher said he "would shoot" Perkins "if she didn't leave him alone," according to police reports obtained by The Star.At the time, the secret girlfriend thought Belcher was joking.
Police found a bullet hole in the bathroom floor under Perkins' body that went through to the basement, possibly indicating she was on the floor when Belcher fired that round. Shepherd said she heard a "thump" before the gunshots. Police found eight spent shell casings and three bullet fragments in the bathroom and one spent bullet in the basement. Police observed 10 apparent gunshot wounds on the front of Perkins body, including to her neck, shoulder and chest, and five wounds on her backside. The medical examiner said four bullets remained in her body.
State Sen. Frank Niceley (R) told TPM on Tuesday he believes it's time for that to change. He plans to introduce legislation in the next session, which begins Jan. 8, that will require all schools to have an armed staff member of some kind. The current language of the bill -- which is in its early form -- would allow for either a so-called "resource officer" (essentially an armed police officer, the kind which most Tennessee high schools have already) or an armed member of the faculty or staff in every school in the state. The choice would allow schools that can't afford a resource officer to fulfill the requirement without having to pay for anything beyond the cost of the training and, presumably, the weapon. But Niceley said schools should use the wiggle room to train and keep on hand armed staff not in uniform. That's the best way to protect students, he said."Say some madman comes in. The first person he would probably try to take out was the resource officer. But if he doesn't know which teacher has training, then he wouldn't know which one had [a gun]," Niceley said by phone. "These guys are obviously cowards anyway and if someone starts shooting back, they're going to take cover, maybe go ahead and commit suicide like most of them have...""Look at it this way, you never see one of these whacko shooters go to a gun show and start shooting. They don't go down to the police station and start shooting," he said.
The Southfield man killed by police after opening fire inside police headquarters Sunday was a veteran, described as a kind man who had lost the ability to speak.Harold J. Collins, 64, had been battling health problems for many years, including a tumor on his face, when he walked into the Southfield Police station on Sunday and without a word, tried to fire his gun on an officer behind protective glass. He was shot and killed by Southfield Police officers, but not before a Sergeant got shot in the left shoulder.
A chilling video shown in Hampden Superior Court today captured the moment an 8-year-old boy from Connecticut fatally shot himself with an Uzi submachine gun at a 2008 gun show in western Massachusetts.The video, which showed the boy squeezing the trigger and the automatic weapon suddenly tilting upward and then backward in his small hands before he apparently shot himself, elicited shrieks from shocked spectators in the courtroom and the jury box.Earlier Dr. Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., said he and his son Christopher, as well as Christopher's older brother, Colin, 11, had checked out the Oct. 26, 2008 show at the Westfield Sportsman's Cub and had a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs before they decided they were interested in firing the submachine gun.Bizilj testified that his father-in-law, who was also along for the trip, shot the Uzi, then Bizilj shot the Uzi, and then Colin fired the Uzi. But the Uzi jammed for Colin and a "rangemaster" -- the person in charge of safety on the range -- switched the group to an even smaller "micro-Uzi" gun. Colin fired that weapon a little more.Then, Bizilj said, Christopher said, "Dad, can it be my turn now?" Bizilj said his youngest son fired 10 rounds, then the gun jammed. Bizilj said he was taking pictures and fiddling with his camera when he looked up to find his son was no longer in the viewfinder.He rushed over to find his son on the ground and put his hand behind him to pick him up only to find his head had been grievously wounded."I think you can imagine this has gone through my head a thousand times," Bizilj said, referring to his decision to bring his sons to the show.
But what troubles me most about this suggestion -- and the general More Guns approach to social ills -- is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian "war of every man against every man" in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now -- but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly.Whatever lack of open violence may be procured by this method is not peace or civil order, but rather a standoff, a Cold War maintained by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Moreover, the person who wishes to live this way, to maintain order at universal gunpoint, has an absolute trust in his own ability to use weapons wisely and well: he never for a moment asks whether he can be trusted with a gun. Of course he can! (But in literature we call this hubris.)Is this really the best we can do? It might be if we lived in, say, the world described by Cormac McCarthy in The Road. But we don't. Our social order is flawed, but by no means bankrupt. Most of us live in peace and safety without the use of guns. It makes more sense to try to make that social order safer and safer, more and more genuinely peaceful, rather than descend voluntarily into a world governed by paranoia, in which one can only feel safe -- or, really, "safe" -- with cold steel strapped to one's ribcage.
While we are having this discussion over Newtown, political scientist Patrick Egan asks us to remember that, overall, this is a much less violent country than it was a few decades ago, and it is also a country in which people own fewer guns.
I think it's easy to fall into a conversation about "America's gun culture," but we should keep in mind that we are talking about a shrinking group of people who collectively own a shocking number of guns:
A decreasing number of American gun owners own two-thirds of the nation's guns and as many as one-third of the guns on the planet -- even though they account for less than 1% of the world's population, according to a CNN analysis of gun ownership data.
To state the obvious, there is something more than self-defense at work here.
While we're all talking about what might done about gun safety, it's also worth talking about what might be done in the realm of mental health. This piece, provocatively entitled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother," is really worth a read.
Liza Long recounts her long fight to help her young mentally ill son, and the great fear that he will someday harm her, her two younger children, or someone else:
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me. A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7- and 9-year-old siblings knew the safety plan--they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me.
Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.
That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn't have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.
We still don't know what's wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He's been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood-altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.
This piece is a gripping read. I think, as parents, we think of our influence as all-powerful. When a kid succeeds, we like to point to the home; when he doesn't, we do the same. And yet here is an illness that has no respect for the old words of "discipline" and "toughness."
With that said, I didn't hear any mention of a father in this piece. I don't want to overstate the value of fathers, and some fathers (chronically abusive ones, for instance) can contribute the most by exiting the scene. Yet, on some level, parenting is work, and when all hands are called to deck (as must be the case when your son is threatening murder and suicide), a set of hands here is missing.
These spree shooting are almost wholly perpetrated by men. Perhaps this is just a matter of genes. But I also wonder about what we (as fathers) are communicating to our boys about what the world owes, and the methods they may use to secure it.
Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones. The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun.
People should have the ability to defend themselves. Mass shootings take many lives in part because no one is firing back at the shooters. The shooters in recent massacres have had many minutes to complete their evil work, while their victims cower under desks or in closets. One response to the tragic reality that we are a gun-saturated country is to understand that law-abiding, well-trained, non-criminal, wholly sane citizens who are screened by the government have a role to play in their own self-defense, and in the defense of others (read The Atlantic article to see how one armed school administrator stopped a mass shooting in Pearl Mississippi). I don't know anything more than anyone else about the shooting in Connecticut at the moment, but it seems fairly obvious that there was no one at or near the school who could have tried to fight back.
Last spring, Ellen DeGeneres presented Mr. Booker with a superhero costume after he rushed into a burning building to save a neighbor. But Newark had eliminated three fire companies after the mayor's plan to plug a budget hole failed.In recent days, Mr. Booker has made the rounds of the national media with his pledge to live on food stamps for a week. But his constituents do not need to be reminded that six years after the mayor came into office vowing to make Newark a "model of urban transformation," their city remains an emblem of poverty. Cory Booker's promise -- captured in two books, two documentaries and frequent television appearances -- was to save a city that had been hemorrhaging residents, industry and hope since the riots that ripped it apart 45 years ago.But a growing number of Newarkers complain that he has proved to be a better marketer than mayor, who shines in the spotlight but shows little interest in the less-glamorous work of what it takes to run a city.
Asked about complaints from residents and business owners that garbage is not picked up, abandoned buildings are not boarded up and public spaces are in disrepair, the mayor talked about a new system that allows him to track which streets need snowplows and which departments are paying for too much overtime -- even when he is out of town.He invited a reporter to see the system in action. He then called to apologize that he could not be there: "I'm in and out of New York all day." Instead, his staff demonstrated the system.Mr. Booker was on his way to host a reading at a bookstore on the Upper West Side, filmed by CNN. He then spoke at a benefit at Cipriani and attended a movie premiere at Google's New York headquarters. Afterward, he announced on Twitter, "I sat on a panel with Richard Branson."
Eighteen children were killed on Friday morning in a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City, according to a person who had been briefed on the shooting. Another law enforcement official said preliminary reports suggested there could be as many as 20 fatalities.
UPDATE: I think everyone should read this post from Jim Fallows.
"Whenever you can relate to the population of the team that you play for, I think it makes it that much more special," Griffin said. "I don't play too much into the color game, because I don't want to be the best African American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback."But to the fans, and to the fans who think that way and look at me as an African American, it's important that I succeed, not only for this team, but for them," he continued. "Because it gives them that motivation, that hey, you know, an African American went out and played quarterback for my Washington Redskins. So I appreciate that; I don't ever downplay anything like that. Whoever I can go out every week and motivate to do better and to try to go after their dreams, I'm up for that."
"For me, you don't ever want to be defined by the color of your skin," Griffin said. "You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That's what I strive [for]. I am an African American, in America, and that will never change. But I don't have to be defined by that.""I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don't ignore it," Griffin said Wednesday. "I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they're excited their quarterback is an African American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans."Griffin also addressed the persistent stereotyping of African American quarterbacks, saying he hopes his passing ability will set him apart. "They're always going to try to put you in a box with other African American quarterbacks: [Michael] Vick, [Cam] Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon," Griffin said. "But there are guys like... Warren Moon and Doug Williams who really didn't run that much. I think that's the negative stereotype when it comes to African American quarterbacks, that [all they do is] run. But those guys threw it around, and I like to think I can throw it around a little bit. And that's the goal -- not to go out and prove anybody wrong, but just to let your talent speak for itself."
"We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama said of pot users in Colorado and Washington during an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters."It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it's legal," he said, invoking the same approach taken toward users of medicinal marijuana in 18 states where it's legal.
What I think is that at this point, Washington and Colorado -- you've seen the voters speak on this issue. And as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that's legal.
Griffin acknowledged his appreciation for black Washington Redskins fans proud of his transformative debut season -- and noted how he hopes to erase lingering stereotypes concerning African-American quarterbacks."For me, you don't ever want to be defined by the color of your skin,'' Griffin said at the end of Wednesday's post-practice news conference in reference to a question about Martin Luther King, Jr. "You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That's what I've tried to go out and do."I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don't have to be defined by that.''
"My question is, and it's just a straight, honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother," Parker said. "He's not really. He's black, he does his thing, but he's not really down with the cause. He's not one of us. He's kind of black, but he's not really like the kind of guy you really want to hang out with."Parker said he wants to know more about Griffin's personal life before he can accept Griffin as authentically black. "I want to find about him," Parker said. "I don't know because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancee. Then there was all this talk about he's a Republican, which there's no information at all. I'm just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like, 'I've got black skin, but don't call me black.' So people wondered about Tiger Woods."Asked by fellow panelist Skip Bayless about the fact that Griffin braids his hair, Parker said that's an aspect of Griffin that he approves of. "That's different, because, to me, that's very urban," Parker said. "Wearing braids is, you're a brother. You're a brother if you've got braids."
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Pardon my French
As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s…