WTF is Wrong with the USA? (plus Tweets)

One of the first things I do most mornings is check out Jerry Coyne’s website: Why Evolution is True. Yesterday, it was afternoon before I got to it. The first post I saw was this one: ‘The Apocalypse is here: Pennsylvania church to hold ceremony blessing AR-15s, nearby school to close during the blessing‘. I didn’t get any further. I need more hedgehogs, otters, octopuses, and Cat Tweets in my life to balance out stuff like this!

The heading of this post are the words that immediately came to mind. “WTF is wrong with the USA?”

I wasn’t planning on writing any more posts about guns just yet. My last two are about the phenomenon of guns in the US, and it was time to move onto other subjects for a bit.

Further, I didn’t think there was anything else on the subject of guns and the US that could surprise me. I was wrong. This is a new low.

It is a comment on how cynical I’ve become about this issue though that, like several of Jerry’s commenters, when I read “nearby school to close during the blessing,” my assumption was that the students would be attending the blessing. Instead, the students are actually being taken to another school fifteen miles away for the duration. Thankfully, there are still sensible people in the US, and some of them are in charge of schools.

I’ve got multiple cartoons about the way many in the US worship guns. To them the Second Amendment of the US Constitution is their Creed. The NRA is the equivalent of the Vatican. Here are some of them:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I don’t understand why civilians need to own semi-automatic rifles. It’s been five months since the Las Vegas massacre (1 October 2017), and there’s still no legislation banning bump stocks despite all the promises at the time. It took until 20 February 2018 just for Trump to order the US Justice Department to write new regulations banning all devices like bump stocks. That was clearly as a result of needing to be seen to do something following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting the previous week (14 February 2018).

TRIGGER WARNING. THESE PICS ARE VERY GRAPHIC. This is a link to two pictures of dead people shot in the head with an AR 15. I was going to post them here, but they are extremely confronting. Think carefully before you click on the link if you are at all sensitive. Even describing the pictures would be too much for some to read, which is why I’m not doing it. You have been warned!

Two major retailers of guns in the US are being responsible and acting ahead of the government. Both Dick’s Sporting Goods (see Gun Safety Tweets for video) and Walmart will no longer sell guns or ammunition to those under 21. Dick’s Sporting Goods is also stopping sales of assault-style weapons. Their share price 2 points immediately on the announcement.


The president is actually trying to push the age issue too, as he said he would. I think he’s right when he says some of these politicians are scared of what the NRA might do.


There are many places around the world where the age limit for gun ownership is already 21. According to Wikipedia, they include Kenya, Argentina, Panama, Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Slovakia. In Brazil and Kuwait it’s 25. In some countries, there are different ages depending on the type of gun. Most countries have much stricter requirements for gun ownership than the US.

Those requirements are usually involve background checks, including certification of mental health that are renewable on a regular basis. Just yesterday, I was discussing the issue with my home help who is a hunter. Like all potential gun owners in New Zealand, he was interviewed by the Police before he could get a licence. His wife, along with other people in his life, were interviewed confidentially as well. He had to have a clean police record and no history of drug use. The age restriction in New Zealand is only sixteen, but gun license holders are strictly monitored and someone of that age wouldn’t get a license if the Police didn’t think they could handle the responsibility. A license can be revoked and guns confiscated at any time by the Police, and this does happen.

According to Pew Research, 67% of gun owners say that they own guns for personal safety. However, the statistics show that guns are rarely used for personal safety. However, the fear created by some may make them feel they need to arm themselves.


Graphic of causes of gun deaths.

(Source: New York Times. Click graphic to go to source.)


The comparison with vehicles is often made. Here is how an increase in safety requirements made vehicles safer.

Reduction in MVA deaths following introduction of safety measures.

(Source: New York Times. Click graphic to go to source.)


There’s not really anything more to say that hasn’t been said before on this issue. I’ll post a few more graphs and a pic of an old tweet thread before I get to today’s tweets. Decisions should be made on data. At the moment, they’re not in the US when it comes to guns.

Graphic: Gun ownership vs, gun murders selected countries.

(Source: New York Times. Click graphic to go to source.)


Gun Law Grades and Gun Death Rates

(Source: New York Times. Click graphic to go to source.)


Effect of license requirements on homicide and suicide rates.

Effect of license requirements on homicide and suicide rates. (Source: New York Times. Click graphic to go to source.)


Gun Control tweets thread,


TRIGGER WARNING. There’s a graphic example of animal predation in “Reptile Tweets.”

Political Tweets

This is truly disturbing. Of all the bad things that Trump has done, perhaps this thing that he HASN’T done is the worst.


Should go without saying. Graham preached hate. There’s no other word for it.
(Via Ann German.)

I had to put these three tweets from Ann German in as a picture so I got all three at once, but you can access them on Twitter here.


Here’s the full story:


Pre-Mueller Time Tweets

So President Trump tweeted this yesterday:


(Via Ann German.)


And just for fun …
(Via Ann German.)


Just sayin.’


Mueller Time Tweets

Useful information about the Mueller investigation.
(Via Ann German.)


Democracy Tweets

The general topic of types of democratic systems is one that interests me greatly. Thus, I tweeted these items.



Gun Safety Tweets

The facts are not on their side, so the NRA has to lie in order to try and get the facts to work for them. On ABC News’ ‘This Week’ on 25 February, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch said, “France had a higher casualty rate in one year than the entire two administrations of Barack Obama. And they’re a fifth of our population.” That’s not true. The link in the tweet goes to the full analysis by Politifact.


More amazing kids speaking up and taking action!
(Via Ann German.)



Human Rights Tweets



Hasn’t this guy worked out yet that better and more access to contraception means less abortion? Complete fu€k₩it.


Science Tweets

This innovation in the science of solar technology shows great promise for the near future. Science is cool!


Paleontology Tweets

Very cool.



Reptile Tweets

Very sad, but an amazing pic.


Marine Tweets


Other Animals Tweets

This one is from Facebook, but I think you’ll agree it’s worth breaking the rules for!
(Via Jerry Coyne. He sent me another gorgeous hedgehog one too, but I can’t work out how to post that one. Not sure where I’m going wrong. However, I put it on the Heather’s Homilies Facebook page, so you can see it there.)


Don’t watch this if you are of a nervous nature. You’ll never look at squirrels the same way again. We don’t have squirrels in New Zealand, so it just made me laugh.
(Via Ann German.)


Is this even real?!


Bird Tweets

Penguins are so cute.




Kakapo egg sitting.

Kakapo chick!!!


Dog Tweets

Another corgi for my sister Brenda. She’s probably not reading this because we had a disagreement, but it’s cute so I’m posting it anyway!




Very cute!



Cat Tweets



What a sweetie!!!


Go Ben!


What amazing colouring – I’ve never seen a cat like this before.


The caption has it right!


Oh dear!


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40 Responses to “WTF is Wrong with the USA? (plus Tweets)”

  1. Bruce Swanney says:

    The problem is a little thing called the Second Amendment and a supreme court (Scalia) ruling on it’s interpretation and few years ago. A constitutional amendment is required to really restrict the sale of guns. The current groundswell for change (which I wholehearted welcome and support) is a molehill compared to that required to change the constitution.

    • That 2006 ruling, where the NRA finally got their way after years of lobbying is a major issue and has caused untold damage.

      I recently discussed this with a lawyer in the context of developing a constitution for NZ. (We don’t have a formal document known as the constitution.) She said there’s no problem placing reasonable restrictions on rights.

      Although there would be no right to bear arms in a NZ constitution, I see no problem with putting reasonable restrictions on that right in the US context in order to maximise the safety of the majority. It’s reasonable not to be able to call for violence as part of the right to freedom of speech, and you can’t do anything you want and say it’s your religion.

      I think even if things like proper, universal, background checks are introduced by federal law, there will be activist local officials who won’t follow the law. They will be sticklers when it comes to certain segments of the population, but people like Cliven Bundy will be seen as not needing to follow the law. Remember, there was a time when the NRA called for restrictions to a protester’s right to carry – it was when the protesters who were carrying were the Black Panthers in California.

      • nicky says:

        There should not just be background checks, one should be able to show one actually needs a gun, and an appropriate one.
        If for ‘self-defense’, one should show there is a clear and credible threat, immo.
        If for hunting, a two shot hunting rifle should be the rule.
        If for target shooting, rental or deposit at the range should do.
        Maybe the NRA’s call for restrictions on ‘Black Panthers’ carrying could be extended to anybody? A very good point!

  2. rickflick says:

    I’d like to see the warning text appear before the image link for the shooting victims – “link to two pictures of dead people”.

    • I’ll do it as soon as I get to my other computer. Sorry about that. I added the words about where they were shot to the sentence to try and make it clear, but I could have made it clearer how bad the pics are.

      • nicky says:

        I’ve seen quite some wounds, including gunshot wounds and a few high velocity gunshot wounds. The latter are kinda easy: nothing can generally be done, the victims are destroyed internally, most often dead. I do not want to sound callous, but I’m kind of immune to these images. Got enough actual tangible penetrating trauma to deal with, in the flesh, so to say, and that hits a bit harder than any pictures.
        I do appreciate the intentions of trigger warnings, but I’m not a real fan, a bit in two minds about them. On the one hand you do not really want to upset people unnecessarily. However, on the other hand, real life is as it is, often not quite savoury. Trigger warnings may be a good excuse to close one’s eyes to reality.

        • I don’t personally like the words “Trigger Warning.” In fact I really hate them and would like to add them to the banned list of phrases that irritate me. I’d rather put it another way, but those seem to be the mots de jour. I do think there needs to be a warning though. It’s not up to me to force those images on others. As I said, I was going to put them into the post, but I decided otherwise in the end.

  3. rickflick says:

    Dick’s Sporting has been a dick about guns in the past: WAPO –
    “The announcement, though heralded by some, drew scrutiny given that Dick’s discontinued sales of assault-style rifles from its eponymous stores after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. A few months later, the firearms went back into circulation through Dick’s outdoor and hunting chain, Field & Stream.”

  4. Samantha says:

    That is the ultimate question regarding the US. Its embarrassing to be a citizen here.

  5. nicky says:

    I see nothing wrong with the second amendment as such, but everything wrong with the distortion the gun-nuts and SCOTUS (yes, the despicable gnome Scalia, not first, but foremost*) contorted it into, completely discarding the ‘well regulated militia’ context.
    It is like “a citizen maybe incarcerated if found guilty of a crime in a court of law”, meaning any citizen maybe thrown in jail anytime for any reason. I can’t think of a better comparison right now (maybe: you are entitled to a remuneration for your labour meaning you may steal any money you can lay your hands on?), but it is beyond ridiculous.

    * in the context of the horrifying number of gun deaths in the US, it could be argued he was a mass murderer. He was at least clearly lying about his ‘originalism’. In my private pantheon of ‘despicables’ Scalia ranks high. He clearly was one of the effing things wrong with the USA.

  6. Jenny Haniver says:

    I haven’t seen much mention about the bill passed by the Georgia state senate that penalizes Delta airlines for yanking perks for NRA members. A couple of days ago, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle declared his intent to punish Delta for its stand against the NRA; today I read that the state senate passed the bill.

    I find this an ominous development in that partisan factions (right or left) in government (municipal, state, federal) can apparently penalize “persons” for taking any action (or voicing any opinion on social media or elsewhere?) that stands in opposition to some favored institution, person, whatever. And since corporations are legally “persons,” one must assume that the same goes for actual, individual, homo sapiens. My foreboding may seem over the top, but in these over the top times, it’s not so fantastic. I could envision people being threatened with losing government subsidies if they publicly speak out against some policy or person or institution that is favored by those politicians who hold the reins of power. In fact, I do believe that such actions are by no means unheard of.

    In the past, I’ve seen such gruesome photos of people whose brains were blown out, so I’m somewhat inured; nonetheless, my sense of horror is not muted, just perhaps somewhat more abstract. I once wrote a poem about the writer Richard Brautigan (“Trout Fishing in America”) who blew his brains out over his last manuscript; the poem was a description of the act.. I didn’t see any photos, but reading the autopsy report and other descriptions of what the coroner found was as stomach churning as any photo I’ve seen. But he wasn’t found immediately, so decomposition had set in.

    • I didn’t know about what the Georgia State Senate had done. I think that’s appalling and surely can’t be legal as it’s stopping Delta’s freedom of speech.

      I agree this is a very serious issue, and it concerns me greatly when a government makes such regulations. So much for Republicans wanting small government!

    • Mark R. says:

      And the lovely state of Georgia also passed a bill in the Senate that would exclude LGBTQ married couples from state adoption services. Aint that ol’ time religion great?

      • Disgusting.

        It’s not going to be long before there are two USAs. It’s already happening to a certain extent. People who can will just move to a state, red or blue, that supports their pov. There’ll be no more purple states.

        And, as is already happening, the red states will will fail economically and socially while the blue ones succeed.

        • Mark R. says:

          Yes, I totally agree. I did just that in 2007, moving from deep red Wyoming to deep blue Washington. It was heartening to hear the other day our governor Jay Inslee telling Trump (regarding guns in schools) he needed to do more listening and less tweeting. No shit! There goes our chances of getting federal aid. LOL!

        • Diana MacPherson says:

          It’s the problem when states decide things and it’s not decided at the federal level. Americans are suspicious of the government so are therefore suspicious of federal jurisdiction over things other than defence, immigration, the big stuff. As a Canadian, my culture is the closest to American culture, and we differ most in this area. Canadians are not as suspicious of their government. To Americans, Canadians appear as people who “let their government do everything for them” and they think Canadians can’t think for themselves or innovate or really do anything of note. It’s a huge blind spot.

    • nicky says:

      Ominous might be the operative term, I fear, but it is unconscionable at any rate. I’m suspecting it is illegal too, maybe some legal expert can weigh in here?

  7. Mark R. says:

    Good question…I’d say the 2nd amendment and religion are the two best answers to your question.

    I needed a trigger warning for the poor turtle. boohoo. Maybe its shell will eventually get revenge when it is passed. 🙂

    I skipped the shooting photos. I’ve seen what guns can do to heads, and don’t need any new imagery to stain my brain. At the same time, I think it is important that people see graphic images of the devastation a gun can cause. I wonder if a nationwide billboard campaign showing photos of dead kids shot by guns could change public opinion. It’s probably not legal though.

    I loved the Orca story; stories like that balance out (sort of) the political tweets.

    Solar technology is fascinating. Under Trump, science research in the US suffers, but it’s encouraging to see the rest of the world isn’t affected by POTUS stupidity.

    • I was pretty annoyed by the disability story too. Buildings no longer have to be accessible when they’re built, or a new business opened. They don’t have to do anything until a disabled person sues them. How many disabled people have the money or time to do that? Assuming the case goes against the business, they still have months to sort things out. Getting rid of regulations is one thing, but deliberately making things more difficult for a group of people who already have it tough just getting around every day is disgusting.

      • Mark R. says:

        Yeah, that story made me sick. Republicans make me sick.

      • Jenny Haniver says:

        It’s down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass for me, and the Red Queen rules. Everything the R*s do is perversely contra what good sense dictates. Kleptocracy, kakistocracy, sometime ochlochracy — the list could go on.

        Just now I heard a clip from Trumpls most recent speech, edging toward Duterte (whom he has already praised), now advocating the death penalty for drug dealers, praising those countries that have it. The Red Queen speaks.

        • We always imagine that the systems we have in place protect us from going the way of countries that are less democratic. But at the end of the day a lot relies on who we give power to and how they use it. Yesterday it was announced that Turkey has become the country with the most journalists in jail. More than 1000 media outlets have been closed since the coup. Judges, teachers, professors, police officers etc by the tens of thousands have been jailed. But Turkey has a stronger secular constition than Sweden. Erdoğan was democratically elected in a free and fair election. A majority of the people support Erdoğan, so he gets away with it. The rest of us need to remember that when we vote. The character of the leader is perhaps more important than policies they say they will promote, especially when it’s clear they will say anything to get elected.

  8. Jenny Haniver says:

    The kakapo sitting on that egg is, dare I say, the cat’s meow. I love it.

  9. nicky says:

    The repeal of the ADA act is so gratuitous, shortsighted, and i>callous. Note, future admins will reinstate it, and it is generally more expensive to adapt existing structures than to design them wheelchair friendly from the start, so it is not economically sound either..

    On the other hand, maybe it is a good measure, who needs cripples anyway? These ‘wheelchair users’ should not impose on us normal people, they were getting a bit above their station. Well done! It is also such a nice, thoughtful touch towards US war veterans.

    • I suspect the second paragraph is more like it.

      Besides, it’s a false economy anyway. As you point out, remedial work is almost always more expensive than doing it properly in the first place. Then there’s all the customers you upset and therefore lose, plus their supporters. The bad publicity. The cost of litigation. Further, people are living longer and a bigger proportion of the population is older. Older people often find it harder to get around so that’s another lost customer group. I have difficulty getting around and I always choose businesses etc. that are easy to access, have close parking etc.

      • nicky says:

        Yes indeed, forgot the /S at the second paragraph though.
        It would be great if a majority of companies, businesses, municipalities, etc. would take your comments to heart (I’m sure some, or even many, actually do, did think of it themselves).

  10. Randall Schenck says:

    I agree, we have probably said every that can be but then, nothing has been done so we still must carry on until something is done. Just a couple of things I have learned from all the talk and comments in the past. First – the 2nd Amendment is no excuse not to do lots of gun control laws. Those who think otherwise are just being tricked by the gun people. Just look at any other law or amendment and find one that shut down all future law on the subject. The second finding I would report is that most people involved in the discussion do not know much about the subject, either the second amendment or about guns in general. That means there is a lot more noise out there than there is good ideas. Very few real, known hunters will even get involved in these discussions because they know that none of it is about guns that they use and they just think it is not about them. But as someone who knows a little about guns I think I can safely say this. The assault weapons should certainly be done away with. After that we need to work on eliminating hand guns. Hand guns have no business in the hunting world and they most certainly have no business in the urban environment where most of them exist and kill the most people.

    • Mark R. says:

      Good points. I would add a caveat about hunters not needing hand guns. I used to deer hunt in my youth, and usually one or two of the adults would carry a hand gun just in case they needed it to put an injured deer out of its misery. I’d add that I never saw anyone use a hand gun, so you’re probably right that they don’t really need them.

      • nicky says:

        Putting an injured deer out of it’s misery can easily be achieved -if incapacitated- by cutting the carotid artery. No hand gun needed. If still up and kicking I do not see why your hunting rifle can’t be reloaded.
        Note, I’m not a hunter myself, but recognise it is there. Hunters often are quite conservationist and often have good knowledge about the ecosystems they are hunting in.
        When as a youngster I spent some time in Spain, I helped the local butcher (a woman, btw) slaughtering sheep, that is how I know how fast and effective severing the carotid artery is in ungulates (in most animals I guess, including humans).
        Whichever way: no actual need for hand guns. The debate about guns is, however, not about those two-shot hunting rifles. I guess there are but very few wanting to ban those.

        Ironically, I think such a double barreled, hail loaded hunting rifle would be just as effective a -if not more so- ‘self-defense’ weapon as a hand gun. It is more imposing, at short distance extremely deadly, and if the aggressor flees fast enough, just some painful injuries in the bottom (if the victim still sees fit to shoot a fleeing aggressor).

    • I agree, and I think the type of guns available is the big difference between the US and the rest of us. Assault weapons are not available to the general public, and hand guns are almost impossible to get.

      And it’s not mental health either. NZ, despite all the good things, has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. It’s higher than the US. Lots of countries have higher suicide rates than the US. Therefore, the US must actually have better mental health overall. Mental Health is just an excuse. Most people with mental health issues are not a danger to other people. There is a tiny segment of people in every country who are likely to want to engage in mass killings. In the US, they can usually get hold of a gun to do that. In other countries, they often can’t and go on the rampage with a knife or something. So the kill rate is slower, the death rate is lower because of the type of injuries, and they’re stopped before they’ve done as much damage.

      • nicky says:

        Another thing is that if you take guns out of the equation, people are kinda bad at suicide.
        Often those who attempt suicide, can recover and reconstruct their lives again (note, a failed suicide remains an important risk factor for suicide).
        Thing is, with guns these attempts have the tendency to be successful, and even if failing, quite debilitating.

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