Every Dog Needs a Companion

Why the Poodle Wants a Two-Shot Derringer but Didn’t Get One

Thursday, February 14, 2013
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BANG BANG, SHOOT SHOOT: It was a weird time, I admit, to to be checking out guns at last weekend’s Earl Warren gun show. But then I’ve always had a hankering for a pearl-handled two-shot derringer. Who hasn’t? They’re small; they’re smart; and unlike the bulky ostentatious models favored by the Travis Bickles of the world, the derringer can fit in my fanny pack without making my ass look fat. Six days out of seven, the derringer might make an ideal fashion statement. But for the past couple of years, the United States has been hopelessly stuck on day seven. There’s Aurora. There’s Newtown. And now there’s Big Bear, where Chris Dorner, the delusional ex–L.A. cop who grandiosely declared “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” against his former bosses at the LAPD, went up like a ball of fire. Before Dorner was cornered and cooked, Santa Barbara police received a couple of weekend-sighting alerts. Naturally, one was at the Chick-fil-A outlet that just opened. Santa Barbara’s finest duly responded, checked out the security camera video, and ascertained the “suspect” was another muscular African-American male altogether. Next week, no one will remember Dorner’s name. It will be somebody else. Who remembers Jimmy Lee Dykes, last week’s reigning psycho du jour? Dykes is the nasty neighbor from hell who killed some poor Alabama school-bus driver and then abducted a 5-year-old boy ​— ​who turned out to be clinically hyperactive and diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome ​— ​whom he kept with him in an underground bunker.

Angry Poodle

At the Earl Warren gun show, there were no AK-47s, no automatics, semiautomatics, or anything that could remotely fall under the rubric “black guns.” It was strictly historical firearms, nothing newer than 50 years old. If you wanted to “spread some lead” ​— ​or otherwise engage in some “pray and spray” ​— ​you needed to go elsewhere. It was like hanging out with cranky train buffs, only they were packing some ancient, ossified heat. They came from all over the country. Some sucked you in with their enthusiasm; others creeped you out, like the Civil War nerds with the Washington Artillery Reenactors (yes, the acronym is WAR) who thought they were authentic and cute making N-word jokes. One woman had an impressive collection of WWII vintage German Lugers, admittedly one of the coolest-looking handguns ever designed. But I didn’t know quite how to react to all the Nazi Swastika flags she was also selling. Even less could I reconcile the “Jesus is Lord” headline on her business card with the “Fine Antiques Firearms” next to it. I just moved on.

The one good thing to emerge from this carnage is that we’re talking seriously about gun violence, a subject effectively rendered politically taboo for the past 20 years by Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. Human beings are like sunspots. They go off. And when they do, you don’t want them armed and dangerous. In contrast to towns like Chicago ​— ​where the murder rate is about 500 a year ​— ​Santa Barbara is mercifully quiet. It’s not unusual for the city to go years without a single homicide. Still, few remain untouched. The daughter of a longtime Santa Barbara Independent writer and ad-sales rep was shot and killed seven years ago when a whacked-out former postal worker went “postal” on her former coworkers at the Goleta facility. Had the shooter been subjected to the most cursory of background checks, warning flags would have flown. Two weeks ago, a former Santa Barbara resident well known in The Independent newsroom ​— ​writer and pilot Phillip Marshall ​— ​shot and killed his two teenage kids, his dog, and then himself in his Calaveras County home. My knowledge of Marshall was admittedly superficial. I enjoyed him. He’d asked my opinion about a couple of books he’d written over the years. One focused on the role of Saudi intelligence operatives in the 9/11 tragedy. Another laid out how as a pilot, he found himself sucked into the government’s clandestine and illegal drugs-for-money-for-guns operation sanctioned by the CIA back in the ’80s to arm the Nicaraguan contras despite Congressional action prohibiting such support. With Marshall, I never knew what to believe. But I didn’t have to. Some of his claims sounded outlandish but possible. And he was hardly the only one asking about the role of Saudi operatives in 9/11. A couple of U.S. senators ​— ​Bob Graham and Bob Kerrey ​— ​have, as well, though they’ve gotten the same same stiff-arm as Marshall. But for a so-called “conspiracy nut,” Marshall came across decidedly rational and normal. There was no smoke pouring out of his ears. In fact, the last time I wrote about him, I noted how un-unhinged he was. Man, I got that wrong. So, it seems, did a lot of people much closer to him than I. Naturally, the chatter in the conspiracy world is that Marshall was silenced; his truth was too dangerous to be told.

I’m not saying conspiracies don’t happen. I’m merely saying they’re superfluous. We’re doing a good enough job killing ourselves without any help from the likes of them. Marshall’s gun ​— ​a Glock semiautomatic ​— ​was duly registered. He would have passed any background check. As gun-control advocates like to point out, people who keep guns are 22 times more likely to have the guns used on themselves ​— ​by murder, suicide, or accident ​— ​than on any intruder.

In the meantime, gun sales are going through the roof. People who never wanted a gun before now absolutely have to have one. Crazy people are out there. Obama is talking gun control. For the record, I saw a couple of tempting derringers at the gun show. But at $2,000, they’d put serious strain on my wallet. I guess I’ll have to hanker for another day. I’m not sure I’ll live, but at least I’ll be 22 times less likely to do myself in.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

nice tapdance nick, i guess id be scared too.

redbunz (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2013 at 6:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As with anything there are the rational reasonable responsible ones and then there are the nuts. On both extremes. President Obama has issued a number of Executive Orders that require no Congressional action (fat chance of that anyway) but would implement such cosmic concepts as universal background checks, adding mental health data to the background check data available, prosecuting those guilty of lying on gun applications, etc. Eminently reasonable.

Then we have Disarm 'em Dianne Feinstein who seems to think one can eliminate an entire class of weapons simply by listing model numbers. Truly moronic approach to a very complex problem. Ever hear of changing model numbers, Dianne? I'll bet the manufacturers already have started. Jeez, how has this woman stayed in office this long? BTW, according to the CDC and the DOJ the last assault weapons ban accomplished nothing.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2013 at 4:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I put Feinstein in the grandstander category. I really don't think she cares about much except boosting her resume. She is as responsible for screwing up the country just as much W. Bush. This woman has stayed in office so long because:
a) It's become taboo to challenge an incumbent in a primary (at least the Dem/Repub parties).
b) The closest competition, the Republican candidate has usually been even nuttier and/or more crass.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2013 at 4:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Good points all.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2013 at 6:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The topography of the area is such that on a calm day, the sound of a tee shot at the nearby golf course can be heard a long way distant. The weather was flat calm during the period when he shootings happened - some time between Thursday, January 30 and Saturday, February1, yet not a single person heard the four separate gunshots, despite there being dozens of houses within earshot. Although speculative, this implies the use of a silencer/suppressor - but why would he use one to kill himself, his kid and his dog, execution style, each with a single bullet through the head? And why would he shoot his dog, when the dog knew its master well? Why would a "murderer who committed suicide" bother about his dog going into a barking frenzy? There was no motivation, and no suicide note.

Despite the extreme unlikelihood that Marshall was the killer, Nick Welsh - and by extension the Independent - weaseled out. I wonder why? Maybe it is because Marshall was a brave and patriotic American who used his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression to write two books on 9/11? Much of Marshall's exhaustively researched material violated the corporate media's taboo regarding discussion of aspects of 9/11 which do not echo the officially sanctioned, but far-fetched fairytale/yarn. Welsh has a 10 year history of consigning any nonconformist discussion of 9/11 to the intellectual trash bin of "conspiracy theory". We should all know the purpose of invoking those weasel-words, a tactic that has been developed by the mainstream media over the decades to squash and stifle discussion of any controversial topic which reflects unfavorably upon elements within our powers-that-be.

In his column, Nick Welsh baldly stated that "Philip Marshall shot and killed his two teenage children, his dog, and then himself". As a responsible journalist, Welsh could have stated something along the lines: "Philip Marshall, his two teenage kids and his dog were found shot to death in their home". Unfortunately, Welsh pointed the finger of blame with no evidence in support of such. Philip Marshall is one of many dozens of writers/researchers re. 9/11 controversies who have met with an untimely end. Others have lost their jobs and careers, and many have been threatened or railroaded. Mr. Welsh perhaps has an enhanced sense of self preservation, and presumably would like to keep his job as well.

bloggulator (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2013 at 9:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Responsible journalism takes a back seat, with Nick Welsh echoing *opinion* that Philip Marshall was the killer - for no apparent motive. So far there are no forensic or ballistics reports, yet the media has already pronounced its verdict, taking the position of judge, jury and executioner, thereby writing "history" - based not on evidence, but more likely, appealing to the readers' comfort zone.

Philip Marshall was a pilot for the airlines for 20 years. At the time of his death he was consulting for the airlines - screening pilots for inappropriate behavior (drinking on the job etc), a highly responsible position. His copilots over the years have said that "Phil was the type of disciplined, dependable guy we all wanted in the left hand seat, a superb airman". His friends and neighbors in Murphys, and those here in Santa Barbara have all expressed profound disbelief that Phil "killed his kids and then himself", and have universally described him as a "solid", and an "upstanding member of the community".

Phil had no financial problems - he was very comfortable. He had been divorced years before (apparently related to his wife's reported issue with anorexia). However, at the time of his death they were on good terms - they were reportedly in business together. Phil adored his children - on occasions he would even cancel or postpone business meetings to travel cross country to be with his son when he had a Little League game. Phil has no mental problems, he was not bipolar and he was not depressed. One person who was with him just days prior to his passing described him as his usual jovial and happy self.

(continued below)

bloggulator (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2013 at 9:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

yes mr welsh, i would like to know how you are so sure of what happened. but i guess we should all take officials at their word, no matter how flimsy. that is responsible journalism, obviously. never mind you have already convicted this man, in the court of disneyland, of murdering his own children with no investigation and no proof. but you already know that dont you. sweet dreams!

redbunz (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2013 at 10:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Nice combination of racial self-loathing and anti-Christian bigotry.

Nick: Did you consider that one of the factors in Dorner's life was that he was a whistleblower on LAPD abuse of people in custody? Connect the dots: Abusive cops, an unarmed get the point.

You've proven yourself to be a very intelligent person and a great writer, but you'd contribute much more if you'd lay off the hypocritical stereotyping while trying to present yourself as being an example of tolerant progressive thinking.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2013 at 1:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Nick's a real jive turkey. Going to a gun show for a derringer. I find that a little unlikely. Probably there for some material for his balls to the wall attack on anything remotely right wing. He defines my opinion of looney tunes, and he can walk in and buy a gun no questions ask. Maybe ! should be armed as well!

BBOY (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2013 at 6:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is one of your oddest comments ever, "billclausen":

:: "Nice combination of racial self-loathing and anti-Christian bigotry."

I can't for the life of me find an example of either in Welsh's column. To what do you refer?

binky (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2013 at 11:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Read the article Binky, and learn to read between the lines. All intellect and no critical thinking is hurting you.

By the way, notice I haven't once mentioned David Gelbaum and the Sierra Club? You should at least give me some credit for that.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2013 at 3:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, billclausen, maybe binky can't read but the real tragedy is that I can't find an example of what you are talking about either. We're probably both illiterate so spell it out for us in black and white, please.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2013 at 8:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

" ... according to the CDC and the DOJ the last assault weapons ban accomplished nothing."

No news bulletin there. The thing was shot full of holes. (Har, har.)

SezMe (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2013 at 8:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The equation of gun owners with idiots who make racist comments and the reference to the woman with the "Jesus is Lord" headline on her card.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2013 at 2:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"No news bulletin there. The thing was shot full of holes. (Har, har.)"

SezMe (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2013 at 8:07 p.m.

What would sez_me think of that?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2013 at 6:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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