Montana Politics

Another Tragic Night of Gun Violence in Montana

It looks like another horrifying weekend of gun violence in Montana has taken place. The Missoulian is reporting that a 17 year-old was killed by a gun owner in a Missoula garage Sunday morning and the Billings Gazette reports that a man “accidentally” shot a 19 year-old who was a guest at his home.

First, when you pull a trigger and shoot someone, no accident happened. The story notes that “the 19-year-old was being quiet so as not to wake anyone in the home, Curry said, and the homeowner mistook the man for an intruder and shot him.” That’s not an accident; that’s the work of someone who thinks that the right to own a gun doesn’t come with a corresponding obligation to use a gun sensibly. Just as someone who drank and drove a car injuring someone else would be charged with a felony, so should this home owner.  Condoning such an irresponsible act as a mere “accident” will simply embolden other gun owners to fire first and investigate second in the future.

The details of the Missoula case are less clear at this time, but the homeowner was charged and arrested by Missoula police. Despite this, the rhetoric of “gun enthusiasts” on the Missoulian is falling into its typical pattern: blaming the victim of the shooting and assuming that the home owner had every right to do what he did.  Commenter BJackson summarizes this view quite well. He writes:

All it takes is someone to penetrate your space and if you feel threatened, you can shoot to kill. It is now up to the prosecution to prove he didn’t feel threatened, Where is the heck is the idea come that they guy who lives there was committing a crime? You can bet, if I caught someone on my property in the early morning hours, I will feel threatened and I will shoot to kill the intruder.

And that’s what it comes down to really. Despite the macho posturing of gun nuts, at the root of their willingness to use deadly force is a deep-seated cowardice and insecurity.  That the law emboldens these George Zimmermans and makes it so difficult to prosecute those who fire their weapons at other human beings is a travesty than too often ends in tragedy.

I know that it’s politically unpopular to oppose the right to bear arms, no matter how extremist that provision gets in state law, and I also know that we’re not likely to change the law anytime soon. The NRA and organizations like the Montana Shooting Sports Association have so badly distorted and demagogued the issue that no Republican can support even the most sensible of gun restrictions and Democrats often fall all over themselves to establish their pro-gun bona fides. The result? A legal climate where many presume that the shooting of children can either be called accidental or justified.

And that’s as horrifying as it is misguided.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • People are beginning to stand up to the NRA, especially women. It’s about time – it’s a cowardly organization that was bought and sold a long time ago to the highest bidder.

    That organization doesn’t care about common Americans anymore than the two parties do. Their members should wake up and realize if a battle for America ever did occur, their saintly NRA executives would not be on the same side as them.

  • UH oh. This is not good. Word on the street is that the kid who was shot was an exchange student from Germany, only seventeen years old. WTF? Why’d the dude have to waste him?

    From the Missoulian comment section:

    “Hello my name is Atalay Yigit and i was in the same with the Boy who got shot.
    I just want you to tell what i think about this.
    Firstly He was a exchange student from Germany and he just had 46 days to return to his lovely family.
    And second the alarm of the guys went of, so he had the chance to decide if he goes out to the danger place (his garage) or to stay inside and try to speack with him and warn him he is armed.
    He would have noticed that his “thief” was a boy, NOT EVEN A MAN and he would have scared the heck out of my friend just by showing him he knows that he is in the garage.
    My friend would have runned for his life, but he would live..
    His whole family is destroyes here in Germany and still can not imagine that he is just not here anymore.
    46 days were left to him to come here again.
    But the man did the wrong decision…”

    • Who knows what happened, or if that comment is real.

      I knew a German brewer while living in China. He had a good saying, which I guess is common in Germany. He used it a lot when talking about politics:

      “You’re thinking about as far as the wallpaper to the wall.”

      Kind of sounds to me like someone was thinking about that far when that shooting occurred. You often don’t have to think much further when guns are involved.

      • “Who knows what happened, or if that comment is real.”

        Wanna place a bet on it? It’s real. The blogs know things way in advance of the papers. It’s real.

          • I have followed the blogs for many years, since their inception. Whenever an incident happens, SOME one was probably close to the action. You can’t keep secrets in Montana.

            “The teenager who was shot was an exchange student from Germany and was shot twice”

            From the same blog.
            I’m goin’ with the folks who know and were there. The schools also already put the high school teachers on notice. Very unusual tactic. I’m bettin’ that it was a foreign exchange kid. This should NOT happen.

      • [I]f what the Bureau of Land Management is doing is wrong, the fact that Cliven Bundy is a racist sexist homophobe whateverphobe doesn’t make it right – any more than at Ruby Ridge FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shooting Vicki Weaver in the back of the head as she was cradling her ten-month-old baby and running away from him is made right by the fact that she allegedly had “white supremacist” sympathies. As I wrote last week, I’ve little doubt that, in the era before cellphone video, the bureaucratic enforcers would have been happy to off Bundy and then come up with a reason why it doesn’t matter. At Waco, there were supposedly children being abused. So Generalissimo Janet Reno killed them all, and now they’re not being abused. In that sense, Mr Bundy is a lucky man: He got to live, and to trash his own reputation rather than having the feds do it for him…

  • Sorry to regular folks, as I write this… I know Nothing is worth another persons life when it comes to theft of property. Nothing!

    But to you rednecks, you RWNJobs I gotta say WTF?

    This guy set up a trap to kill someone for theft. and his wife let him do it. How sick is that, and for all you Christians who say it is your right according to the bible and the word of your g-d I tell you this: Mark 7:21 and Mathew 15:19

    So How evil are you? Are you just fools who don’t read the very manifesto you wave with your rifle? For even in the Old testament a thief must pay restitution, but a murderer who makes a trap to slay another must pay with his life.

    Of course the reason I gotta put this in all your teabagged faces is because you extreme right keep saying over and over again, you’re g-d-fearing folks? Really? Don’t make me laugh— Exodus 21:12 No caveats for Kaarma and his wife. NO caveats for Bundy and his militia who set a trap on government workers….No caveats if your truly Christian? But you’ cant be religious if you don’t follow the very book you wave… Your More like a stain on American History, like so many religious stains before, more like a seditious jerks against Americans

    Yep, keep waving those guns and Bibles around as protections, like some amulets that are supposed to protect You, Like some voodoo BS, or some american Jihadist manifesto! I know true Christians! You are not them! Cuz If there is a Christian G-d, I am pretty sure he is keeping score of all your false hearts, false testimony, and slander and traps towards others….

    Us regular folks…We see you now and will steer clear away from you like lepers on Morality, because you have turned out to be infected with Fear and loathing. There is a vaccine for your affliction, and it is called surrounding yourself with “Educated people.”

    I know return you to your regular programming!

  • Ya know, all the inbreds who’ve diligently worked so damn hard to attract the mentally defective and violent to Montana can be damn proud that their efforts have paid off! Therefore, I’m damn PROUD to bestow the first annual Gary Morebutt Inbred Gun Award to the dude who murdered the foreign exchange kid, for he meets all the requirements for the first Annual Gary Morebutt Inbred Gun Award! The requirements are as follows:

    Be a mentally defective outta state inbred with a desire to kill. Check!
    Be lured to Montana to make your stand. Check!
    MURDER someone in cold blood. Check!
    Use the Castle Doctrine to cover your murderous ass. Check!
    Claim to be the REAL victim here. Check!
    Rally the OTHER inbreds to your defense. Check!

    Yep. The dude’s a winner!

    • p.s. Kaarma’s a BITCH, outta state loser dude! You were very appropriately named, and you will soon learn why!

      • Couple’a points. First, can the press in this country PLEASE stop calling this murderer a “Montana man”? He is NOT from Montana, having just recently moved here from Washington. It’s not fair for our beautiful state to be tarred with that brush. We’ve got enough inbreds of our own with OUT accepting the blame for the inbreds from outta state!

        And secondly, I give another Morebutt award to this dude who did’er up right! He waited in his basement and set a trap for two teens. Then, when the boy came down the stairs, he shot him. A little later his girl cousin came down, and he shot her too. And for good measure, he then EXCUTED the kids with a coup de grace shot under the head just for good measure! I kid you not. And here’s the kicker. He TAPED himself doing the entire event, providing a running commentary (complete with attacking wimpy liberals) which you can listen to! It really is amazing! Hard for me to imagine how a person gets that evil! If you’ve got the stomach, listen to the audio. I did.

        And lastly, about thirty years ago or so I think it was, we were out in Oregon visiting relatives. The big story that summer was about a guy who woke up in the middle of the night, and looked out his window and saw two teenage boys going through the glove box of his neighbor’s truck. Well, he did what ANY Morebutt award winner would do. He grabbed a shotgun and ran outside and wasted one of the kids. But he was a bad shot, and one got away.

        Anyway, a grand jury would NOT indict this guy. I guess they figured that going through someone’s glove box was a capital offense. And my decent liberal relatives agreed.

        I was dumbfounded! I reminded them of my OWN misguided youth. Hell, me and my pals would have been dead many times OVER with all the Morebutts out there now days. Petty theft was common place, es PECIALLY for car parts! Car parts were fair game. Everyone stole unattended car parts for our own cars. It was just how things were done back then. No one thought too much about it. And NO ONE killed anyone over it.

        And then I reminded one relative that they like to travel a lot. I asked them how they would feel if they were in a Muslim country and one of their kids stole something. Would THEY be OK with their kid losing a hand for that offense, for that is the customary punishment? And really, losing a hand is small potatoes compared to what a Morebutt award winner will do to your kid!

        You see, we have lost all sense of proportionality in this country. We think that the Muslims are just SO barbaric for amputating a hand of a thief, yet we see nothing WRONG with blowing kids away! This is a sick, sick country.

        I remember watching the Nuremberg trials when the one Jewish survivor was testifying and was suddenly overcome with such an overwhelming emotion that he passed out and hit the ground. You see, as he was facing the Nazi war criminals, he’d had an epiphany. He suddenly realized that these guys were actually human beings, and that he shared with them a common humanity!

        It was too much for him. He couldn’t accept that fact, the fact that he was like them, and possibly even capable of that horrific evil.

        As I look at this Washington state murderer and the guy in Minnesota, I can’t feel that way. They are defective, sick, evil creatures. I am in no way like them!

        • Take a listen, if you dare. And THEN tell me that this a**hole doesn’t deserve his Morebutt award! You see, we must remember that the Big Kockhs and their ALEC organization are directly responsible for the so called “stand your ground” laws around the country. So, next time you see a Big Kockh brother, thank him for providing every inbred in the country a handy excuse to execute kids!

          As a gun nut myself, I think it’s time to get the Big Kochks OUTTA the gun debate. No need to be setting traps to murder kids!

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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