The Good Stuff VI: Not getting shot

First of all no, I didn’t watch Putin’s speech. The only thing surprising about it was that he apparently didn’t mention Ukraine at all. Other than that it’s the same old bullshit he’s been saying for years now. “Blah blah sovereignty…blah blah…chaos…blah blah there have been some difficulties but things will get better for reasons I won’t go into…blah blah <random idiotic statement>” There, I just saved you the trouble by summing it up for you.

Now on to the good stuff. What’s that you say? I’m still writing the Good Stuff series after everything that’s happened in the last two years? Well yes I am. So long as there is something positive to find here, I’ll acknowledge it, and after last night I’m about to do a lot of acknowledging.

If I haven’t written about it here before, one quandary my wife and I have about moving back to the States is that it’s the easiest place for us to move to, yet it is a very unappealing option, at least for the time being. The ideal choice since we started contemplating leaving Russia has always been some third country, probably in Europe. Part of that is due to career considerations, culture, interests, hobbies, and oh yeah, not wanting to get shot.

It’s not just about getting shot. People in Syria and Ukraine are getting shot at all the time. There’s just something extra infuriating about living in one of the world’s leading economies, once the country with the highest standards of living in the entire world, and then getting unexpectedly gunned down by some “gentle loner” who was upset about abortion. Or maybe it’s a young man who’s upset that girls won’t have sex with him. Or maybe it’s a little terrorist who blames black people for the failures in his life. Maybe it’s a group of terrorists who shot members of Black Lives Matter, but according to their lawyer are “white supremacists,” not racists. Yeah. Or maybe some idiot mother owned numerous assault weapons (Yes, they are assault weapons) and let her fuck-up of a son get to them so he could go murder children. Or maybe It’s just some whackjob who somehow managed to get ahold of an assault weapon and ammunition with no trouble whatsoever, all so he could go and murder people trying to watch a shitty Batman movie.

And then, of course, we had yesterday’s shooting in California, a shooting that occurred even before some of the victims from the last shooting spree, the one in Colorado, were buried. Think about that for a second. But hey, so far I’ve read that at least one of the shooters may be non-white and Muslim, so at least this crime will get labeled terrorism.

These things are becoming so repetitive that I worry I’m becoming repetitive as well. I’ve seen other writers and commentators compare it to a sort of after-shooting ritual where we go through the motions. Hoping that I’m not repeating myself here, I’d like to share an anecdote that really underscores what I’m talking about when I say I’d rather not move back to the States.

A few days after the Aurora shooting, I went to the cinema. We’re sitting in the middle row and as the lights dim I suddenly come to a realization. I could go to cinemas in this country every goddamned day and never have to even consider the possibility that some jackass will come in and start pumping rifle rounds into somebody. Yeah, there was Nord-Ost, but that was a terrorist attack. Those people had to plan and finance their vile mission. The Sandy Hook shooter just had to take his mom’s guns.

This sense of security has always been with me here, no matter how bad things get. I go to shopping malls, events, public squares, crowded metro stations, and the last thing I’m thinking about is “Maybe someone will start shooting as many people as he can see.” Yes, we still have the threat of terrorism, but I’ve got to hand it to those FSB guys- they’ve been doing a pretty good job, at least in Russian territory. Better than the French or Belgian authorities, that’s for sure. Then again, if they do slip up, the last hostage crisis you want to be in is one where your rescuers are Russian counter-terrorism teams. After Beslan I wouldn’t be surprised if the next “rescue” operation involves leveling the building with a Buratino.

Again, though, that’s terrorism. It’s rare in most of the developed world. Yet in nearly ten years in Russia I’ve never heard a single real gunshot, unlike in my old neighborhood back home. The closest it gets are blanks in historical reenactments. The only time I was anywhere near a crazed Russian maniac wielding an assault rifle was when I was in Avdiivka. And speaking of Avdiivka, prior to that the only shots I’d heard fired in anger were back home, and that just a few days before I left the States, ostensibly for good. Think about that. To hear more people shooting at each other I had to go to the front line of a war zone. There is something very wrong with that.

Yes, there is violence in Russia. Yes the homicide rate is higher than in the States, though there are a number of factors which skew that and others which must be taken into consideration. At the same time, most developed nations with sensible gun control laws have homicide rates that are far lower, ridiculously lower than the American rate. No, the “criminals” don’t get guns anyway. These countries just have flat out lower gun crime, in some cases nearly non-existent gun crime, and yet somehow don’t turn into dictatorial tyrannies either. Imagine that.

I’ve never faced real violence in Russia but I feel a lot better about the fact that here, I feel like I’d at least have a fighting chance. If not that, like in a situation where the person is armed with a knife, there’s always this very effective knife defense known as running away. Try outrunning a bullet.

I’m perfectly fine with people having reasonable access to guns, including semi-automatic models, but there needs to be rigorous regulations and restrictions to make sure they are only in responsible, competent hands. Plenty of people have pointed out that it is more difficult to get a drivers license in the US than a gun. Let’s start there. Demonstrate competence in storing, using, and maintaining firearms, and obtain a license after a thorough background check. It’s not perfect but it’s a start. In the military you have shit tons of firearms and ammunition on post, yet access is restricted and everyone is trained and qualified. And guest what- army posts and Marine bases aren’t having shoot outs every few days or so. In fact, they’re actually somewhat rare. Could that have something to do with the fact that firearms ownership is restricted on military bases?

Sometimes I ask myself why bother even talking about this. Just as readily as I can provoke whatabouts from Kremlin supporters, all I have to do is say “Maybe we should think about doing something about guns…” and the tsunami of stupid crashes over me. “MUH RIGHTS! CAWNSTITUSHUN! IF ONLY THEY’D HAD A GUN AT THAT SCHOOL! <RANDOM BUMPER STICKER QUOTE>!”

Yes, yes. You’re right. If you restrict gun sales or ownership in any way, shape, or form, the US will become a dystopian tyranny, a la the UK, Germany, Australia, Norway, Japan, Canada, etc. Yeah I know, if only those Jews had guns there’d be no Holocaust. That’s why Germany goosestepped all over Europe until 1943- nobody had ever thought of opposing them with guns. Yeah I know, if you had been there with your concealed carry Glock, you would have stopped the Aurora shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, the Columbine Killers…just pick one. Yeah, good luck with that.

So yeah. I’m pretty much done. Barring someone giving me a shit-ton of money so I can travel outside the US frequently, I’d really rather move to just about any country between Russia and my bullet-riddled former home.

Point for Russia here, folks.


UPDATE: Earlier in this article I used a link which claimed there have been more mass shootings than days in 2015. This link, however, disputes that. While I would dispute some of their own claims, they raise enough solid points to show that the definition of “mass shootings” picked up by some media is ridiculously vague. In spite of that, other firearms homicides, accidents, and attempted mass shootings are still a serious problem.

22 thoughts on “The Good Stuff VI: Not getting shot

    1. BOPOHOK

      Am I breaking any rules by slipping a somewhat lengthy quote from our venerable Mark Ames?

      Something about Prague didn’t quite jibe with the intelligence reports I’d submitted to myself back in Foster City. For one thing, there were tourists everywhere. The more I looked, the more I was shocked. Then the shock turned to terror. I was sure that I even saw American students. Must be tourists too, I thought. But I was wrong.

      Half of America’s youth had already moved to Prague before me. They’d scooped me. There were an estimated 30,000 young, nose-ringed, torned-jeansed English-speaking students squatting in the center of Prague, and there weren’t a thang I could do about it. I’d come there to make a quick, hot buck with my Czech girlfriend, and wound up getting squeezed out by grunge-hippies half my age.

      It was as if they’d taken a huge needle, sucked the genetic material out of Foster City, and injected it straight into the nucleus of Prague. As for the Czechs: mere groveling Uncle Tomases, West German wannabes.

      My obsession with Russia only grew…

      That was 20+ years ago, to be fair. Things might have changed since.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “As for the Czechs: mere groveling Uncle Tomases, West German wannabes.”

        Jesus I can’t stop hating these guys. Yes, they were so “groveling” because they wanted to have higher standards of living. Mark apparently enjoys taking advantage of other people’s suffering, as he seems to have done in Russia for years. When Russians started to get some measure of stability and hope, it got “boring.”

  1. Sohryu_L

    If the Jews resisted, there would be more Jews (and fewer Nazis) left alive, so there. Because if pogroms are one thing, when the other guy has race laws on his side you’d better off legging it or breaking out the gasoline-filled tyres.

    Then your country devolves into Sooth Effrika twenty years down the road.

    People do get shot in Ukraine and there are fuck knows how much guns, hand grenades and RPGs floating around, but hardly to Murrican levels. The terrorism is also down from last year or even first half of this year.

    Oh, and our prices are still lower than in Maaaskva.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I hope your being facetious, because of course many Jews did resist, or they ran or at least tried to run.

      But anyway, Ukraine’s got an excuse for the flow of weapons now, doesn’t it? Who knows, maybe some of those weapons came from Russian organized gangsters who are unloading them there.

  2. gbd_crwx

    Anyway, I know we dicussed this earlier, since the second amendment is based on the need of having armsfor a militia (Home guard), couldnt some state try to enforce membership of a state approved militia as a requirement for ownership of military grade weapons?

    1. An anonymous expat

      The US Supreme Court in the 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller case ruled that the right to bear arms is individual, unconnected to the State Militia — and incorporated that right as applicable to states in the 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago.

  3. Admin

    Move to Latvia! 🙂
    Riga in winter:
    and here in summer, autumn
    We have great culture:

    Only thing I don’t know are you a black person or not… because in Riga.. well, it’s not that we are racists but imagine a city with million people where we know 3 black person by their name. That is how rare they are. Well, people do look at them and think wow – he is just like in NBA, movies, etc. One could feel uncomfortable with all those eyes.

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      What’s the deal with RF citizens getting residency there though? I’m married. I’ve been to Lithuania and I’ve heard good things about Latvia, but what I really like is that you’re Indo-European speakers unlike a certain country to the north, if you know what I mean.

      1. TRex

        You need to drop 250k on two seperate properties, neither of which can be in Riga or Jurmala. Jurmala is an area about 30km long west of Riga starting just after Babite. This is recent and the rules have changed regularly depending on how insecure everyone is feeling. My wife is Russian. I am told Russians like it here because there are, well, a lot of Russians.
        Poor prospects for employment. Xenophobic Latvians. Corrupt everything. If you have buckets of cash to invest in a business that employs Latvians the skids get greased a little but it’s not worth it for a lot of reasons. Eight years here, I know what I’m talking about. Heading to Italy soon hopefully.
        I could go on and on but it’s not my mission to piss off any Latvian readers. I just don’t like it here.

      2. Admin


        It’s funny to tell that Latvia is totally corrupt and say that will move to Italy for better conditions – because… well facts show that in corruption ranking most not corrupt country is Denmark – ranks 1.; Latvia ranks 32. and Italy ranks 54., Russia ranks 113.

        About “Xenophobic Latvians” … yeah… I don’t think so either. This is what Latvians voted in to represent it in Europe Eurovision:

  4. Positive Dennis

    There is a reasonable chance that we will move to Russia for a few years. Even though last month I drove down the street past the location of yesterday’s shooting, violence plays a zero role in this. Living costs are a huge factor. I am sure that health care is not as good, but the cost is a lot lower

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Of course- Nobody should move to Russia because of this gun violence in the US. If you can, just move somewhere else where you have neither problems. As you can see, Latvia has its partisans and detractors. I joke about Estonia,but it’s supposedly a rapidly advancing country. Then of course there’s the Czech Republic, which I can personally recommend.

      As for health care, it is abysmal. You’re best bet is to pay more money for the European or American medial care centers. If you need any other advice, contact me via email(see the FAQ page).

      It’s a shame you couldn’t arrive say, five years ago. Things were so much better then.

      1. Asehpe

        Jim, I’m curious about how much worse things have gotten in the last five years in Russia, both for expats and for the natives. Is healthcare the most obvious case? What things have really gotten worse, and how much worse have they gotten? Just curious about an insider’s view on that.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I think as an expat and someone living in Moscow, it’s hard to see things getting worse unless you’re look in supermarkets and at exchange rates. Healthcare is definitely suffering due to cutbacks, but that hit’s ordinary working class Russians more than anything. Now outside of Moscow things can be much worse, of course. That’s where people have been getting their gas shut off, and others need donated firewood.

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