‘People don’t want to talk about war’: Taiwan civil defence battles invasion risk denial

from our special correspondent in Taiwan – Emerging civil defence groups in Taiwan have vowed to make the island’s population better prepared for a potential attack by Chinese troops. Two years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted an unprecedented grassroots mobilisation in favour of civil resilience, a large number of Taiwanese are still afraid that the act of preparing for war could in itself raise the risk of an attack. FRANCE 24 reports.

It looks like an assault rifle but sounds rather like a toy. There is a world of difference between the clanking sound of the M4 carbine airsoft replica and the explosive boom of a real firearm. But that doesn’t prevent some clients at the Camp 66 airsoft shooting range in Taipei from dressing in tactical clothing to get a stronger feel of modern warfare. Due to severe legal restrictions on gun practice and ownership, airsoft clubs are the only way for Taiwanese civilians to get some technical skills that, they hope, could prove useful in the event of a Chinese invasion.

“I started airsoft shooting because I’ve heard since my childhood that training in Taiwan’s army isn’t good enough,” says Bill Huang, a 19-year-old mechanical engineering student wearing a “Taipei city police” tactical vest. He began practicing airsoft shooting during the summer of 2022, a few months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked a revival of interest in civil defence in Taiwan.

“I believe skills from airsoft training would be useful for civil defence because airsoft guns operate just like real guns. If one day the government gives me a gun or any other rifle, I will be able to use them and defend my country,” Huang said.

Bill Huang (R) and his friend Brian pose at the Camp 66 airsoft shooting range. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

He came to the Camp 66 shooting range with a friend who looks like he parachuted in from a war zone, with his military helmet complete with tactical communication headset and a replica of the M4 carbine that is standard issue in the US military.

When his “assault rifle” gets jammed, a former US Marine working as weapons instructor at Camp 66 is here to help.

“These are definitely not firearms. But the replicas are very faithful to the original models, and it allows people to get used to load, unload, and manipulate them,” says Richard Limon. “Most important, it teaches them to handle firearms carefully.”

Retired US Marine Richard Lemon checks an airsoft replica at the Camp 66 range.
Retired US Marine Richard Lemon checks an airsoft replica at the Camp 66 range. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

Taiwan didn’t get a “wake-up call” moment like Ukraine had in 2014, when Russia seized Crimea and sent troops to back separatists in Donbas. The country has nothing similar to the Territorial Defence Forces trained by Kyiv shortly before the 2022 invasion. 

Taiwan’s old civil defence scheme, which reportedly has hundreds of thousands of volunteers in existing crisis response teams, is facing “systemic failure” because of budget and training issues, according to analysts. 

The overhaul of civil defence was not an issue in the campaign for the January 13 presidential election, which has focused more on domestic social and economic issues rather than cross-Strait relations. Despite different rhetoric, all three candidates – as well as an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese – are in favour of broadly maintaining the status quo in the island’s thorny relations with China. 

Tony Lu poses with an AK-47 airsoft replica at Camp 66. He's known across Taiwan for having fought in Ukraine's international legion in 2022. He is now urging his fellow countrymen to get prepared in case of a Chinese invasion.
Tony Lu poses with an AK-47 airsoft replica at Camp 66. He’s known across Taiwan for having fought in Ukraine’s international legion in 2022. He is now urging his fellow countrymen to get prepared in case of a Chinese invasion. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

The recent surge of interest in civil defence preparedness came from a bottom-up movement, not a government initiative.

“Most participants in civil defence activities I met were frustrated by the lack of reaction from the Taiwanese government after the recent Chinese incursions,” says Wen Liu, a scholar at Academia Sinica‘s Institute of Ethnology who recently took part in some 50 civil defence workshops and interviewed dozens of participants for her research paper.

Getting prepared for a Chinese invasion

The legal framework preventing citizens from getting their hands on firearms is not the main issue, according to Liu. She points instead to the government’s reluctance to name its potential enemy across the Strait and frame the conflict as “Taiwanese against Chinese” because of historical reasons.

The island has lived under self-rule for 70 years since supporters of the Chinese nationalist party, the Kuomintang, fled there after losing to the Communist party in the civil war. Taiwan’s constitution still refers to itself as the “Republic of China”.

Liu notes that it’s only in June 2023 that Taiwanese authorities released an updated civil defence booklet with a section on how to tell the difference between Chinese and Taiwanese soldiers based on their uniforms, camouflage and insignia.

Close-up picture of Taiwanese firing airsoft guns at the Camp 66 range.
Close-up picture of Taiwanese firing airsoft guns at the Camp 66 range. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

“A lot of people in Taiwan have become accustomed to Chinese intimidation and don’t even want to talk about it. Since there was no invasion in the last 70 years, they believe that nothing will happen if they carry on as usual,” says Liu. To them, building a strong civil defence aimed at countering a Chinese invasion could be seen as provoking escalation with Beijing.

“The most important thing with emerging civil defence groups is that they strengthen the people’s psychological awareness. It also shows international allies that Taiwanese are not split over their will to resist,” adds the researcher.

The locals’ willingness to take up arms against a Chinese invasion is especially scrutinised by Washington, whose military help would be crucial to repel a large-scale attack. 

Portrait of Taiwanese scholar Wen Liu, an assistant research professor at Academia Sinica.
Portrait of Taiwanese scholar Wen Liu, an assistant research professor at Academia Sinica. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

It remains anyone’s guess what the attitude of the wider Taiwanese population would be in the event of an invasion by China. Public surveys on that sensitive issue are considered unreliable. Researchers interviewed by FRANCE 24 said the 2022 craze for civil defence training was now going flat or even going down, but there is no solid data on the subject.

Civil defence attracts younger people

A spokesperson for the Kuma Academy, one of the main NGOs organising classes about first aid, cognitive warfare, executing evacuation orders, and the like, said the group had “reached out” to 500,000 people, but didn’t provide a monthly breakdown. The group aims to train 3 million people – more than 10 percent of Taiwan’s population.

Airsoft clubs and new activist groups like the Kuma Academy have attracted mostly young Taiwanese, according to T.H. Schee, a tech entrepreneur and expert in crisis response.

“Most are in their 20s or early 30s. They are the age group more likely to openly prepare to resist a Chinese invasion. This is very different from the existing  disaster reaction groups, where most volunteers are over 50 years old. The older generation doesn’t like to name enemies because they know that politics and governments can change – that one day even your own government could be your enemy,” says Schee.

TH Schee prepares to train in the 4SC CrossFit room he recently opened in Taipei. The poor physical conditions of many Taiwanese young people could hinder civil resilience, according to him.
TH Schee prepares to train in the 4SC CrossFit room he recently opened in Taipei. The poor physical conditions of many Taiwanese young people could hinder civil resilience, according to him. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

Drawing on his own experience coordinating rescue efforts following the 1999 earthquake and the 2009 typhoon, he argues that both emerging groups and existing disaster reaction organisations should work together for the sake of civil resilience.

“You can’t protect your neighbourhood only by yourself (…) A key aspect of civil defence is to know what person in your local group can do what. Such knowledge and the maintenance of communication would be indispensable to avoid chaos and manage a proper resistance movement in case of an invasion,” he says.

Another challenge for Taiwan’s civil defence is the population’s general physical condition, which he sees as fairly poor.

Taiwanese people attend a CrossFit class in Taipei on October 4, 2023.
Taiwanese people attend a CrossFit class in Taipei on October 4, 2023. © Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24

“Practicing airsoft shooting or first-aid training can be effective for psychological preparedness, but I’m afraid some young people would not last a day or two if a war breaks out, because they are not fit enough. I know that not everyone in Taiwan needs to be a soldier, that would not be practical,” says Schee.

“But if we manage to have 5 or 6 percent of the population who are really in good shape, die-hard prepared people, that could change the course of the war.”

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Not Sure Who’s Worse, White Florida Murderess Or This Dipsh*t Sheriff

In Ocala, Florida, a white woman was finally arrested yesterday, several days after she fatally shot a Black mother whose kids the white lady had been yelling at earlier. Prior to the shooting, the white woman, Susan Louise Lorincz, 58, had allegedly been shouting racial slurs at the children of the victim, Ajike “AJ” Owens, 35, because the kids were playing in a field near Lorincz’s apartment and she didn’t like that. Neighbors said that was a fairly common occurrence.

Lorincz allegedly hurled both the racial epithets and a pair of roller skates at the children, hitting one (with a skate). When Owens, a mother of four who lived across the street, went to Lorincz’s door to ask why Lorincz was harassing her kids, Lorincz fired a gun through the locked door, fatally wounding Owens, whose 10-year-old son was with her at the time. She died shortly after being taken to a hospital.

The AP reports that Lorincz has been charged with “manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery and two counts of assault.” We are not a lawyer, and yet that sounds like some criminal undercharging to us.

The sheriff’s department “hasn’t confirmed there were slurs uttered or said whether race was a factor in the shooting,” but attorney Ben Crump, who’s representing Owens’s family, said that Lorincz had been yelling slurs at the kids prior to the killing. Following the arrest, Crump issued a statement saying Owens’s family is “relieved” that there was an arrest, but

they remain concerned it has taken this long because “archaic laws like Stand Your Ground exist.”

The delay in arresting Lorincz following the shooting, officials said, was necessary because of Florida’s shoot anyone you want law, also known as “stand your ground,” which they said prevented them from making an arrest until they determined that Lorincz had not, as she claimed, acted in self-defense.

In a statement on Facebook, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office gave this account of the shooting:

The evidence gathered during the investigation established that, over a period of time, Lorincz had become angry at Owens’ children, who were playing in a field close to her home. On June 2, Lorincz engaged in an argument with the children and was overhead yelling at them by a neighbor. During this argument, Lorincz threw a roller skate at Owens’ 10-year-old son, striking the child in the toe. After this, when the child and his 12-year-old brother went to speak to Lorincz, she opened her door and swung at them with an umbrella. The children then went and told their mother, Owens, about what had happened. Owens approached Lorincz’s home, knocked on the door multiple times, and demanded that Lorincz come outside. Lorincz then fired one shot through the door, striking Owens in her upper chest. At the time she was shot, Owens’ 10-year-old son was standing beside her.

The statement noted that Lorincz said she had “acted in self defense” because, she claimed, Owens had been “trying to break down her door”; Lorincz “also claimed that Owens had come after her in the past and had previously attacked her,” so that ought to be enough for rightwing media to insist that Owens had it coming. The statement said that the investigation, including statements from eyewitnesses, determined that “Lorincz’s actions were not justifiable under Florida law.”

In a bizarre video statement accompanying the account of the shooting and investigation, Sheriff Dipshit McGillicuddy Billy Woods decried protesters calling for an immediate arrest as some kind of “mob” action that he’d had to bravely resist, because “here’s the thing about Justice. She’s on her own time. Not my time, not a prosecutor’s time, not even a mob’s time. A mob seeking, well, what they think is justice.” In nearly the same breath, he thanked “all of you that have sent me messages, sent me emails, texted me, and encouraging the arrest because it shows that you care about a fellow human being.”

So: text-based calls for an arrest good citizenship, protests are a mob.

The AP reports that before the arrest Tuesday, about “three dozen mostly Black protesters gathered outside the Marion County Judicial Center to demand that the shooter be arrested,” so that was quite the mob, although maybe it looked bigger because of the complexion of the protesters.

Woods said that all sides of the case needed to be investigated, and that on Friday night all his deputies had to go on was the statement of the shooter. Somehow, that hadn’t stopped him from saying Monday that there was a “neighborhood feud” between Owens and Lorincz (whom he didn’t identify at the time) and that there had been calls to law enforcement from “either one side or the other, either the mother, Ms. Owens has called, or the shooter has called, complaining about the children, just children being children.”

Translation: Lorincz called the sheriff’s office to complain about the children, and it sure as hell sounds like like Owens had called to complain about Lorincz’s treatment of her children, although Woods appeared to frame both women as equally troublesome, saying he wished that the shooter had called instead of taking matters into her own hands, and that Owens should have, too.

A neighbor’s account certainly doesn’t make Owens sound like an equal partner in any “feud,” as the AP reports:

Lauren Smith, 40, lives across the street from where the shooting happened. She was on her porch that day and saw one of Owens’ young sons pacing, and yelling, “They shot my mama, they shot my mama.”

She ran toward the house, and started chest compressions until a rescue crew arrived. She said there wasn’t an altercation and that Owens didn’t have a weapon.

“She was angry all the time that the children were playing out there,” Smith said. “She would say nasty things to them. Just nasty.” Smith, who is white, described the neighborhood is family friendly.

It’s no “feud” if one person is constantly harassing another person’s family and calling the cops, and the victim of the harassment also calls the cops to report the harassment. I’d call that “corroboration,” but then, I’m not a sheriff in Florida.

Also, look at this crap:

“There was a lot of aggressiveness from both of them, back and forth,” the sheriff said Lorincz told investigators. “Whether it be banging on the doors, banging on the walls and threats being made. And then at that moment is when Ms. Owens was shot through the door.”

And what did Ms. Owens say about the “feud”? Oh, right. She’s unavailable for comment. So even if Lorincz doesn’t qualify for a stand your ground defense, her narrative is what we’re hearing, even from the cop who said in the video statement last night that this was “simply a killing.”

[AP/ Facebook / NBC News]

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Meet The Republican Who DOESN’T Think Children Should Be Shot At School, Because Yes That Is News

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace from my home state of South Carolina is mostly terrible, but I’m willing to acknowledge when she’s almost respectable. Yes, I’m generous to a fault.

After a week of regularly scheduled mass shootings, Mace ventured into the mouth of madness itself — “Fox News Sunday” — and suggested that Republicans might need to do more to stop gun violence than offer “thoughts and prayers.”

“Republicans can no longer be silent on this issue,” she said. “And it’s not about the Second Amendment — there are plenty of things that we can be doing besides offering prayers and silence.”

Wow, she sounds so reasonable! It’s like she thought she was on CNN.


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I should stress that Republicans haven’t exactly been silent on gun violence. That would be an improvement. No, last weekend, Republicans flocked to the National Rifle Association’s Legislative (In)Action Forum in Indianapolis, where North Dakota’s sitting Republican Gov. Kristi Noem boasted about her gun-toting not-yet-two-year-old granddaughter.

But Mace did have some good ideas about gun safety like she was some sort of common-sense-talking Democrat:

“Some sort of Amber alert, for example, to let the community know there’s been a shooting,” she said. “Strengthening our background checks is something that the vast amount of Americans support.”

On average, 90 percent of Americans — Republicans and Democrats — support background checks. Heck, more than 80 percent of gun owners support background checks. Unfortunately, these results collide into the Joey Lucas Rule Of Polling: Did you ask how much the voters care about the issue? Republicans know that their gun nut base consider any new regulation a deal breaker. However, the New York swing voters who freaked out over crime and put Republicans in control of the House last year apparently weren’t thinking about the next, inevitable mass shooting. This is why Republicans keep bending the knee to those NRA assholes.

Mace is still a Republican, so she offered the popular right-wing solution of imprisoning our children so that guns can still run free.

“Hardening our schools, churches, and synagogues so that there’s deterrence so that … a potential mass shooter enters a place they know that maybe they’re not gonna make it through because there’s bulletproof doors, bulletproof windows. Those kind of common sense things … “

South Carolina just approved permitless carry of handguns, so who knows who has a gun inside the locked room with the bulletproof doors? But she tried, OK? Just like last week, when Mace suggested that the Biden administration just ignore that right-wing hack Texas judge’s ruling blocking the sale of abortion drug, mifepristone.

“It’s not up to us to decide as legislators or even, you know, as the court system whether this is the right drug to use or not,” she told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. “I agree with ignoring it at this point […] this thing should just be thrown out quite frankly.”

Wow, she sounds like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York and Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon. That was a bolder stance from a South Carolina Republican than her gun position. She’s also openly denounced her state party’s attempt to straight-up execute anyone who tried to have an abortion.

“It is deeply disturbing to me as a woman and as a victim of rape that some in my home state want to give rapists more rights than women who’ve been raped,” Nancy tweeted in March. “And I don’t know why I have to say this, but it isn’t pro life to execute a woman who seeks an abortion after being raped.”


When Twitter user Henry #3 Studios dismissed Mace as a “RINO,” she replied, “I’m a RINO for what? Opposing executions for women who seek abortion? That’s what makes me a RINO? Wow.”

The choo-choo train guy might have a tiny point, though. South Carolina Republicans are big on the death penalty. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill in 2021 forcing death row inmates to choose between the electric chair and a firing squad if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. If Republicans truly consider abortion “infanticide,” then it’s not a leap from there to the gallows. Not to say we “told you so” and all, but we really did.

When Twitter user Wendy Nevarez thanked Mace for her stance, she replied, “The crazy thing is, I shouldn’t be lauded for ‘standing up.’ It’s just so strange this is where we are today that standing up means stating the obvious that executing women for abortions is bad and that I’m unique in this regard for saying that out loud. Just [nuts emoji].”

Mace also agreed with Twitter user Stacy Stateham, who “corrected” Mace’s original tweet to read that it “isn’t pro life to execute a woman who seeks an abortion” (without a qualifier). What’s interesting is that, based on their feeds, Stateham is a self-described “Never Trump Republican” and Nevarez is a liberal Democrat. Mace might resist the RINO label but she’d probably feel more comfortable in the “red dog” conservative Democrat/Bulwark subscriber world. Hey, if we can put up with Kyrsten Sinema for this long, we could probably make room for Nancy Mace.

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Amy Swearer schools AND reality-checks whiny gun-grabber Al Franken in EPIC thread on ‘weapons of war’

OH look, Al Franken is being a melodramatic tool about guns in a sad attempt at dunking on Ted Cruz. Gosh, did you guys miss this as much as we did?

So kidding.

Wonder how hard ol’ Al clutched his pearls while writing this tweet about WEAPONS OF WAR.

Once a gun-grabber, always a gun-grabber, eh Al?

Luckily for us (but not so luckily for him), Amy Swearer was more than happy to step in and educate/reality-check Al on guns that go pew pew pew.

This is pretty damn good.

What do you know?

Keep going.


You guys know where this is going, right?

But the AR-15!!!

Where oh where is the manifesto from Audrey Hale?

Didn’t Biden once say all you needed was a shotgun? And if someone comes on your property you just need to fire it off?


So not an AR-15.

No kidding.

Gosh, we feel shocked.

So she’s saying it’s not the gun.


But we’ve been told by our gun-grabbing pals that larger magazines are the issue.

It doesn’t matter.

Read that again.

Many gun-grabbers do not understand the problem.

And that’s a huge part of the overall problem.

This. ^




MTG just needs 1 tweet to clean Eric Swalwell’s CLOCK after he accuses her of being a traitor

Tucker Carlson BUSTS government and the media wide open in BRUTAL monologue on the leaker (watch)

MELTDOWN: Ana Kasparian apologizes for promoting serial grifter Rebekah Jones and she just can’t DEAL


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Greg Abbott Might Wanna Rethink Pardoning Super Racist Murderer Of Black Lives Matter Protester

Newly unsealed court records from the murder trial of convicted murderer Daniel Perry, who was found guilty of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester in July 2020, might put a slight crimp in Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s plans to pardon Perry for the murder, for which Perry was convicted a week ago, by a unanimous Texas jury. The 76-page trove of evidence taken from Perry’s phone by investigators shows that Perry fantasized often about killing people, regularly posted racist memes, and, in the weeks leading up to the crime, posted again and again about how protesters deserved to be killed.

Just to review, Perry, an Uber driver and sergeant in the Army, was found guilty of murdering Garrett Foster, 28, at a July 25, 2020, Black Lives Matter protest in Austin. Perry ran a red light and drove into a crowd of protesters, after which several of them approached his car, including Foster, who was carrying an AR-15 on a shoulder strap, with the barrel pointed down. Perry claimed Foster had raised the barrel of the rifle toward him, so he had to shoot Foster in self defense, but multiple witnesses — including, oh, Perry while he was being questioned by police — testified that was not the case.

During the trial, prosecutors presented some evidence from Perry’s phone to suggest he’d been fantasizing about killing protesters, including a May 31 Facebook messenger message telling a friend he “might have to kill a few people on my way to work; they are rioting outside my apartment complex.”

The day after the guilty verdict, Abbott tweeted that he was “working as swiftly as Texas law allows regarding the pardon of Sgt. Perry,” saying in a message that Texas’s “stand your ground” law is a defense that “cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney.” That apparently means that as soon as a killer says they were standing their ground, nobody can ever question it. Especially not if the victim was a Black Lives Matter protester carrying a patriotic AR-15 turned to the dark side by Antifa.

The document unsealed this week includes far more information from Perry’s phone than was used in his trial, and presents a very unflattering digital self-portrait of Perry — although we should note the extracted information was compiled by prosecutors in the murder case, so if Perry posted a lot of messages about being kind to abandoned ducklings and school crossing guards, it wasn’t included. Here’s the whole thing, if you want to get some insights into at least part of a convicted murderer’s violent racist mind.

The document includes some searches Perry conducted on topics like George Floyd’s killing, protests around the country (especially those that involved rioting), and searches for protests in various cities around Texas, as well as searches for “boogaloll movement,” “degrees of murder charges,” “good chats to meet young girls,” and the disturbingly specific inquiry “does the federal government have the ballistics of every firearm sold legally.”

The 76-page list also includes itemized lists of memes, generally undated, as well as Facebook comments, text conversations, and other digital detritus that turned out not to be very ephemeral at all. Big surprise: A lot of them are about shooting or running over protesters, and other Rambo fantasies. We’ll give you a content warning right now: Some of this stuff is incredibly racist.

A few funny memes Perry had on the phone, all of them with the note that the date and location aren’t known:

  • The meme has a photo on top and a photo on the bottom. The top photo is a police man with the text “YOU CAN’T JUST RUN OVER PEOPLE”. The bottom photo shows a freight truck with the text “IT’S OK. I’M ESSENTIAL.”
  • A media file that shows a white box with the text “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE.”
  • A man dressed in black with a black ski mask on holding a tire iron over his head. The text says “IT’S A PROVEN FACT THAT CRIMINALS COMMIT LESS CRIME AFTER THEY’VE BEEN SHOT.”
  • Clint Eastwood aiming a firearm and the text says, “WHEN THERE ARE NO POLICE MOST CRIMES WILL CARRY THE DEATH PENALTY.”
  • [A meme saying] “If rioters come to your area, please remember, don’t be a litterbug. Pick up your brass.”
  • The text at the top says, ”Me: ‘white people can’t dance lol”, White People: ‘Okay but if I call you a cotton picking nigger then I’m the racist one right? Racism works both ways, pull your pants up if you don’t want cops killing you.”
  • A meme with a photo of a woman holding her child’s head under the bath water and the text reads, “WHEN YOUR DAUGHTERS FIRST CRUSH IS A LITTLE NEGRO BOY”

There’s also a 2019 text message in which Perry wrote, “To bad we can’t get paid for hunting Muslims in Europe.”

As the pandemic got rolling, in March 2020, Perry commented on a Facebook post, “It is now when you have to defend yourself it is almost like the apocalypse.”

The memes and messages are full of militia and anti-government themes, mostly around the theme of a tyrannical government coming to take your guns away, plus how Black people are allowed to get away with violence and looting, and several declarations on Facebook saying Perry initially sympathized with protests against police brutality, at least until the rioters turned him into a racist by behaving so badly.

There are LOTS of posts like this one, from June 1, where he whines, “It is official I am a racist because I do not agree with people acting like animals at the zoo. I was on the side of the protestors until the started with the looting and the violence.” If Perry actually posted anything in support of the protests, it’s not listed. Maybe it was with the duckies and records of his donations to orphans.

On May 29, Perry posted in a group text that “They are rioting in Dallas it is on the news,” to which a friend replies “Nobody fucking cares Perry.” Perry, undeterred, replied with a fantasy about how, were it not for his Army duty, he would “probably be spending a few nights on a roof protection farther’s [sic] business from looters.”

He also texted to another friend, “I might go to Dallas to shoot looters.”

The next day, in an exchange with the same friend, Perry fantasized, “I am imagining standing on a roof top with a megaphone and a maga hat saying looters will be shot leave the area immediately and then count down to zero or when they start breaking down the front door just opening up like it is open season.”

His friend, a true Beavis to Perry’s Butt-Head, replied, “Plus heavy death metal in the background.”

In the May 31 Facebook Messenger conversation where he wrote about maybe having to kill some people on the way to work, his Beavis friend asked, “Can you legally do so?”

Perry replied, “If they attack me or try to pull me out my car then yes,” which of course is what he later claimed was exactly what he was defending himself against when he shot Garrett Foster in Austin.

After some back and forth with Beavis about how that might play out (“I will only shoot the ones in front and push the pedal to the metal”), Perry figured that he needed to stock up on ammunition, and Beavis joked, “Can you catch me a negro daddy”

Perry replied “That is what I am hoping” and Beavis messaged back “Yayy.”

There’s quite a bit more, none of it flattering to the convicted murderer whom Greg Abbot wants to pardon because he was merely standing his ground like any law-abiding American, the end.

[Houston Chronicle (paywalled) / Texas v Perry evidence filing / CNN]

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Josh Hawley Finds A Hate Crime He Cares About

Following Monday’s horrific mass shooting at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee, the rightwing outrage machine has finally decided America needs to do something about gun violence. Just kidding, they’d rather ignore the guns and continue escalating panic over transgender people to even greater levels.

Among the few things we know about the shooter, Audrey Hale, who was killed by police just 15 minutes after the attack began, is that Hale was a former student of the school, that Hale had in recent months begun identifying online as transgender, using he/him pronouns in a LinkedIn account, and that police found some writings in Hale’s house that they’re calling a “manifesto,” although whatever that constitutes hasn’t yet been released.

That was all rightwing media and politicians needed to know to proclaim not only that Hale was motivated by being trans, but also that Hale absolutely hated Christianity and Christians, because after all, the target was a Christian school. Lost in that certainty, of course, is the detail that Hale had attended that very school as a child. Therefore, like many school shooters, Hale was attacking a familiar target.

The New York Post‘s very responsible front page yesterday screamed a bunch of stuff that there’s no actual evidence for, all mostly based on unfounded speculation. It proclaimed, “TRANSGENDER KILLER TARGETS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL,” implying both that Hale’s being trans was the reason for the attack, and that their motive was to attack Christians, neither of which we actually know enough to say yet. The subhed made it even more bizarre, stating that “‘Manifesto’ leads to 6 dead, including three young kids.” These manifestos are pretty deadly things!

As The Nation’sElie Mystal points out,

The “manifesto” did not “lead” to six dead people. The two assault rifles and handgun the shooter brought with them led to six dead people. If the shooter had shown up to school armed with a manifesto, everybody would still be alive.

The people writing headlines for the Post are probably evil, but they’re not stupid. They know exactly what they’re doing. […]

As is usual for places where conservatives get their media, the Post takes real problems and inverts them to fit the white grievance narrative.

And so, as always, white Christians are justified in whatever fears they want to project on the despised minority, because for once, unlike in 98 percent of mass shootings, the shooter was not a cisgender white male with a gun. The killer was a trans person. With three guns, all of them purchased legally. (Part, we now know, of a seven gun arsenal Hale had purchased over the last few years.)

Evan has already looked at the insane persecution ravings of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson, both of whom are equally certain that the school shooting portends a coming wave of trans people attacking innocent Christians. But Sen. Josh Hawley (R- Missouri), the culture warrior who frets about how feminists are stealing men’s masculinity and hiding it in clever wooden boxes they buy on Etsy, yesterday went beyond mere rabble-rousing. Hawley sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to demand that the Nashville shooting be investigated as a “hate crime,” because if someone shoots up a church school, the shooter must hate Christianity. That’s just logic.

Hawley, based on a police statement that the school had been “targeted,” added his own spin, going beyond anything police have actually said. Police have not yet identified a motive for the shootings, beyond saying it appears that Hale may have felt “some resentment for having to go to that school.”

“It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence,'” Hawley wrote, adding his very own explication that “properly speaking, that is false. Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’ — targeted, that is, against Christians.” Which, again, police didn’t say. (Is pointing that out three times enough?)

And yes, Josh Hawley knows damn well that the standard for a hate crimes prosecution is higher than “it happened at a church school, so it was a hate crime aimed at Christians.”

Hawley’s letter cited the federal hate crimes statute, emphasizing that it includes religion-based violence, and stretched the little we know so far to come to the conclusion that the shooting had to be a hate crime, even though so far police haven’t released Hale’s writings or said anything more than that suggestion that Hale felt “resentment” toward the school. Maybe it was religious resentment, sure. Or maybe it wasn’t. But before we know any of that, Hawley wants the “full resources” of federal law enforcement thrown at investigating the attack, not only to discover the motive, but also to find out “who may have influenced the deranged shooter to carry out these horrific crimes.” Wouldn’t it be great to blame people in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, or maybe some militant atheists?

Hawley closed by solemnly stating, “Hate that leads to violence must be condemned. And hate crimes must be prosecuted.” That seems like a pretty commonplace thought, until you’re reminded that in 2021, when Asian Americans were being targeted for hate crimes during the pandemic, Hawley was the only senator to vote against a resolution calling for expedited review of those crimes by the DOJ.

At the time, Hawley warned that there was no reason to turn the “federal government into the speech police,” and also fretted about letting the government have “sweeping authority to decide what counts as offensive speech and then monitor it.”

But come now, that bill was clearly an attack on Donald Trump for calling COVID-19 the “China Virus” and the “Kung Flu,” and Donald Trump’s words are by definition not hateful, why would you even suggest such a thing?

[The Nation / Guardian / NBC News / Photo: Josh Hawley (cropped) by Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Tennessee Republicans Have Mass Shootings All Figured Out: More Guns, Everywhere, Always

Following the latest mass shooting by a responsible gun owner — the killer had no criminal record and purchased at least two of the guns legally in Nashville — Tennessee Republicans are offering the expected prayers and thoughts, although none of the thoughts include reducing the nation’s ample supply of firearms.

As Yr Wonkette noted earlier, brand new member of Congress Rep. Andy Ogles, who only won his seat thanks to Republican gerrymandering, is getting dragged a-plenty for his Christmas card demonstrating his family’s devotion to the Prince of Pieces. We’ll just add that the caption on that December 2021 image was all about the divine power of guns, and we are not making this up: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

We aren’t sure it quite matches the meter of Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song,” but that’s certainly a Christmas wish! And it was so: The atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere is with America not only during the Sacred Baby Season but also all year long.

While Ogles hasn’t been in Congress long enough to vote on any gun bills, in his previous job as mayor of Maury County, Tennessee, he signed a March 2020 resolution declaring the county a “sanctuary community” for the Holy Second Amendment. That doesn’t mean a damn thing at all in practical terms, but it’s a symbolic statement that if Tennessee ever passes a “red flag” law (it hasn’t), maybe the county would just let people making violent threats keep their guns. Stalkers need to defend themselves, too! And now, if Joe Biden tries to take all the guns, the guns can take refuge in Maury County, where people will presumably hide them just like Anne Frank’s family.

Ogles yesterday tweeted a brief statement saying, “My family and I are devastated by the tragedy” at the private Christian school in his district, with the usual thoughts and prayers and an assurance that he was “heartbroken by this senseless act of violence.” The replies were mostly pictures of the Christmas card, with a variety of commentary: “This you?” “We see you,” and the evergreen standby, “Fuck you.”

As it happens, then-mayor Ogles signed his 2021 gun sanctuary resolution just a day after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced his own plan to allow all Tennesseans to carry handguns — openly or concealed — without a permit, meaning they’d no longer need to take a tyrannical safety class or pass any tyrannical criminal background check (other than the tyrannical federal one required to buy a gun). That law passed easily, and Lee signed it into law later in 2021, and now Republicans in the Tennessee Legislature are considering broadening it to allow open carry of all “firearms,” including assault rifles, instead of just handguns. Very important for the atmosphere of firearms to include people walking around on the sidewalk with AR-15s at the ready.

Lee tweeted an inspiring suggestion that Tennesseans join him in prayer, for all that’s worth.

Lee has been very busy protecting Tennessee children this session — not so much from being shot at school but from seeing drag shows and also criminalizing gender affirming healthcare for trans kids so they can be forced to go through puberty as the gender they don’t identify with, which will make them stop being trans anymore (except for how that doesn’t work). Research keeps showing that when trans and nonbinary youth receive gender-affirming medical care, the appallingly high suicide rate among trans kids can be reduced by as much as 73 percent. But as long as they ignore all the warnings, forcing unwanted puberty on trans youth probably won’t have any risks that Republicans would worry about.

As ever: If you are having thoughts of suicide or self harm, call the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who’s benefited from more than $1.3 million in total spending by the National Rifle Association over her House and Senate career, did a routine “heartbroken” tweet, thanking first responders, but without “thoughts and prayers,” possibly for the sake of avoiding cliché.

Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg offered a thoughtful revised version for Blackburn, a sort of “War Prayer” explication of the unspoken half part of her tweet:

Let me re write that for you.

Chuck & I are heartbroken to hear about the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville that was enabled by NRA puppets like me who are willing to let kids be fucking slaughtered so long as the NRA continues giving me millions.

Singer Roseanne Cash offered her own thoughts for Blackburn. Her tweet lacked any prayers:

Don’t even. You vote against every common sense gun control bill that comes across your desk, you’ve taken over $1 million from the NRA and you rank 14th in all Congress for NRA contributions. Spare us the hand-wringing @MarshaBlackburn

Possibly the most honest reaction to the shootings came from Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tennessee), who told reporters at the US Capitol what he and fellow Republicans would do to solve gun violence: Not a damn thing, because criminals will always find a way to get guns, like walking into a firearms dealer and buying one.

“It’s a horrible, horrible situation,” Burchett said. “And we’re not gonna fix it. Criminals are gonna be criminals and my daddy fought in the second world war, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese.” From that, the elder Burchett’s taught his son that “if somebody wants to take you out and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a heck of a lot you can do about it.”

We aren’t sure whether Burchett is depressed or just lazy, since he didn’t even invoke the mythical “good guy with a gun.” He’s certainly not going to try to stop the massacres anyway, because government and laws are useless. Quite the argument to keep him in the lawmaking business, no?

No, there’s nothing Congress can do either, don’t be silly, because criminals are unstoppable lawbreakers: “I don’t see any real role that we could do other than mess things up.” He did point out that there’s one way to end mass shootings, though:

You gotta change people’s hearts. You know, as a Christian, as we talk about in the church, and I’ve said this many times, I think we really need a Revival in this nation.

That said, Rep. Burchett has an “A+” rating from a leading anti-abortion group, because you can definitely legislate away women’s reproductive freedom without waiting around for the filthy sinning strumpets to find Jesus and mend their ways.

Oh, and as for the safety of his own children, Burchett explained that’s not a problem, since his daughter is homeschooled and will never have to worry about her safety. Rest of you people are on your own, the end.

[Daily Herald / Tennessean / NBC News / Brennan Murphy on Twitter]

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Month After MSU Campus Shootings, Michigan Dems Pass New Gun Control Bills

The Michigan state Senate yesterday passed several gun control bills that will expand background checks, create a “red flag” law that will allow judges to remove firearms from people who are at risk of committing violence, and require safe storage of guns in homes where children are present.

The bills were passed a month and a couple days after the deadly mass shooting at Michigan State University in East Lansing, which killed three students and left five others wounded. The shooter in that incident shot himself when confronted by police. The MSU shooting itself occurred the night before the five-year anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida; as we noted at the time, it won’t be long until every day on the calendar is the anniversary of a horrific mass shooting.

The package of 11 bills passed on a mostly party-line vote by Democrats, who last fall won majorities in both houses of the Michigan Legislature. Two Republicans crossed party lines to vote for a pair of bills that will exempt firearms safety devices — trigger locks, gun safes and the like — from taxes for one year. Hard to say if that will be enough of a betrayal of the Holy Second Amendment for those two to be censured by the state GOP. It’s a tax break, so maybe they’ll get away with it.

Several of the bills had previously been introduced in the wake of the 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School, but failed at the time due to Republican opposition. Clean elections matter: Republicans had previously gerrymandered themselves a majority, but once fair district maps were drawn by a nonpartisan commission, Democrats won.

The Michigan House passed a similar package of bills last week — on a purely party-line vote — but the legislation’s language isn’t quite identical, so the two houses will have to decide which version to pass and send on to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is planning to sign either set.

Background Checks

Under current Michigan law, purchasers of handguns must undergo a background check for all purchases, whether from a federally licensed firearms dealer or a private party. But private sales of long guns aren’t subject to a background check so the bills passed yesterday tighten that up by extending the licensing and background check requirements to sales of all firearms, whether from a dealer or a private party.

There’s a narrow exception in the background check bills, for “people under the age of 18 who use their guns for hunting or who possess the guns under the supervision of a parent or guardian.”

Safe Storage

Another measure would require that firearms owners in homes where minors are present must keep them either in a safe or locked box, or keep them unloaded and locked with a trigger lock.

Since that might be construed as cruelty if applied to children, the locking provisions apply to the guns instead. The law would apply to guns kept in vehicles as well.

Failure to safely store a firearm would be a misdemeanor, but if a minor gets hold of an unsecured gun and commits a crime with it, the gun’s owner could face stricter charges depending on the nature of that crime. If the minor injures someone, the owner would face felony charges and up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine; if the kid kills someone, the maximum sentence would be up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of $7,500.

Red Flag Law

Another measure passed yesterday will put in place the state’s first “red flag” or extreme protection order provision. It will

allow family members, mental health professionals, law enforcement officers and others to petition a court to bar someone from possessing or purchasing a firearm if they pose a risk of hurting themselves or others.

The petitioner would need to show that the person presents a “significant risk of personal injury” to themselves or to others.

Republicans, predictably, whined that nearly all of the bills would only infringe on the rights of “law abiding gun owners,” and that “criminals,” who are completely different people, would ignore them. They also insisted that the bills would have done nothing to prevent recent mass shootings in the state.

You could certainly make the case that a red flag law might have taken away the gun used in the MSU shootings; in that case, the shooter’s father told media that he was certain his son had a gun, which he shouldn’t have, following a 2019 weapons charge. And the 2021 Oxford school shooting was committed with a handgun the boy’s parents had bought for him as a gift; it was kept unlocked in their home. The parents have since been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for being shockingly irresponsible regarding their son’s dangerous behavior prior to the shooting. Would they have actually kept the gun locked up if it were required by law? That’s unknowable of course, but four teenagers would still be alive today if they had — and maybe their very troubled kid would be getting therapy instead of facing life in prison.

At a rally in favor of gun reform yesterday, state Rep. Angela Rigas showed up with a bullhorn so she could heckle and try to shout down those speaking in favor of the laws, including survivors of the Oxford shooting. Because we guess an armed society is a polite society.

In other Michigan Good News, Gov. Whitmer yesterday signed into law an expansion of the state’s anti-discrimination law that will now explicitly protect LGBTQ+ folks. Court decisions had already held that the law applied to LGBTQ+ Michiganders, but now they’re in the statute. And yes, Whitmer teared up a little as she thanked the Democratic majority in the Lege for coming through on the bill.

“Their tears of happiness are coming down, I’m trying to hold it together — can’t look at them too much,” she joked.

Hell yes. You, over there, stop chopping those onions.

[Detroit Free Press / MLive / Detroit News / MLive]

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School Shootings: Five Years Since Parkland, 19 And A Half Hours Since Michigan State

Another armed American went on a shooting spree last night, this time at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He killed three people and wounded five, leaving all the wounded with life-threatening injuries. All the dead and wounded were MSU students, and police said last night that there was no known motive, or even any connection between the shooter and the university. The shootings began in an academic building, where two students were killed, and the gunman then walked to the student union, where he killed another student.

The suspected killer, Anthony McRae, was a 43-year-old Black man, so slightly outside the usual white male demographic of mass shooters. But like many other mass killers, he killed himself when police confronted him at an off-campus location, hours after the murders. He apparently left a note, although its contents haven’t yet been released.

The Washington Post reports that Michael McRae, the gunman’s father, said in an interview that even after a 2019 weapons charge, his son obtained a gun that he sometimes fired in their backyard, although the younger McRae denied he had a gun.

“I told him to get rid of the gun,” the 66-year-old father told The Post. “He kept lying to me about it and told me he got rid of it.”

There’s also this weird detail, according to the Lansing State Journal:

The Township of Ewing Police Department in Ewing, New Jersey, published a press release on Tuesday saying they were notified by the New Jersey State Police that the mass shooting at MSU could be connected to Ewing. Police believe McRae had ties to Ewing Township and the note “indicated a threat to two Ewing Public Schools,” according to the press release. Police determined there was not a threat to the New Jersey schools.

The press release also said McRae had a “history of mental health issues,” so clearly America’s overly plentiful supply of guns had nothing to do with this latest tragedy. The usual ghouls on Twitter have instead been insisting that if only MSU allowed concealed carry on campus, the gunman could have been stopped, although that tends to happen only rarely — in only three percent of active shooter incidents — and often only after people are dead or injured.

In an especially cruel twist, this is actually the second school shooting that some MSU students have survived, since a number of current MSU students also survived the 2021 shooting at Oxford High School, in which a 15-year-old killed four students and wounded seven others. There’s also a Sandy Hook survivor at MSU.

At a press conference this morning, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) said, “I cannot believe that I am here doing this again 15 months later. […] I am filled with rage that we have to have another press conference to talk about our children being killed in their schools.” Slotkin’s district includes both East Lansing and Oxford.

Slotkin noted that while watching TV coverage of the evacuation of an MSU campus building last night, she’d seen a student wearing one of the “Oxford Strong” sweatshirts distributed to students following the 2021 shooting. She added,

We have children in Michigan who are living through their second school shooting in under a year and a half. If this is not a wake up call to do something, I don’t know what is.

I would say that you either care about protecting kids or you don’t. You either care about having an open and honest conversation about what is going on in our society or you don’t. Please don’t tell me you care about the safety of children if you are not willing to have a conversation about keeping them safe in a place that should be a sanctuary.

Apparently Rep. Slotkin doesn’t appreciate all the great work Republicans have done to protect children from books about LGBTQ people and America’s history of racism, from getting gender-affirming healthcare that they, their parents, and their doctors agree is needed, or from the tyranny of having to wear masks.

TV station WDIV spoke to Andrea Ferguson, the mother of a student who survived the Oxford shooting and just started attending MSU this semester. Ferguson said her daughter “had just ended class and hopped on the bus and went across campus and called me and while we were on the phone, all of the sudden she started getting text messages. It was like reliving Oxford all over again.”

Ferguson said that her daughter was

unbelievably terrified, but I have to say, once the reality kicked in, she knew what to do — and that’s what’s important is that the kids know what to do. […] It’s really, really surreal to have to worry about this, and to know exactly what to do, I mean, my husband and I both went into action like never before.

In a separate interview with another parent of a graduate of Oxford High, WJBK-TV reported that the woman — who isn’t named — said her daughter had

witnessed 20 shots being fired. She lives right across from the Union. She heard the screaming, and she called me right away. […] She’s got a little PTSD from the Oxford shooting, and she’s just devastated and so scared right now.

In addition, a third young woman, Jackie Matthews, who survived the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut (26 dead), took to TikTok last night to say she was in a building near the shootings at MSU.

“I am 21 years old and this is the second mass shooting that I have now lived through,” she said.

In the video, Matthews said she had crouched for so long in her classroom on Dec. 14, 2012, that she was injured in her lower back, an injury that flares up when she’s in a stressful situation.

So now America can look forward to stories of surviving multiple mass shootings, and we’ll probably outpace the number of Japanese people who lived through both the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Atomic bomb survivors in Japan are known as hibakusha, or “bomb affected persons.” We’ll probably come up with our own term for survivors of two — or more — mass shootings.

Today is the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which a student with an AR-15 killed 14 students and three school staff, and also wounded 17 other people. In preparation for that grim anniversary, Education Week yesterday published statistics on the school shootings since. The only year since Parkland in which there were no school shootings was 2020, when we had the pandemic, but they picked right up again.

In all, 103 people have been killed and 281 people injured from school shootings since 2018. In 2022, there were 51 school shootings—more than double the numbers for 2018 and 2019, which both saw 24 such incidents. Last year, school shootings hit a record, with 100 people shot on school campuses and 40 people killed.

That paragraph was already obsolete by last night, with three more deaths and five more injuries, assuming all those critically wounded pull through.

We may find out from the MSU shooter’s note that he intended to kill people on the Parkland anniversary. Or it may just be a coincidence. At this rate, most days will eventually be the anniversary of a mass shooting.

It seems like the sort of thing an advanced industrial nation would be able to do something about, if we didn’t have so many political leaders dedicated to the idea that the Constitution makes all this bloodshed inevitable.

[Lansing State Journal / Detroit Free Press / WDIV-TV / WJBK-TV / Education Week / Detroit Free Press / WaPo]

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