U.S. veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes, proud of his guns, in
a photo from Pierce County Sheriff Department archives. Note
the high-capacity magazine clips on both firearms.
Ranger Margaret Anderson, Mount Rainier
National Park, Washington State. Photo
from MRNP archives.
New Year’s Day 2012 began as if Doomsday had arrived way too early from out of the prophesized Mayan Apocalypse. By the time the one-man war of Army veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes ended, two people are dead with four more injured, two of them critically wounded, three children left without parents, and communities across the United States, including Mount Rainier National Park were devastated. It’s almost a year, too, after Rep. Gabby Giffords and a number of others were shot with many killed in Tucson, Arizona. Excuse my lack of professionalism, but WTF?
In grotesque mockery of its own Constitution, the United States Government continues its overreaching neo-imperial agenda. We invade Iraq for the oil, for revenge against Saddam, and to outflank Iran and thumb our noses at Russia and China. We spend more money on our military than the next 17 countries combined. Yet we don’t help our veterans. And anytime you send people into combat, battles, and wars, guess what? Real, live human beings – men, women, and children are killed and maimed, often in horrific manner. Many in our Armed Forces return with damaged minds. Not everyone, but many more than most admit.
Since our government is so deep in debt and has been played by the banksters, it implements austerity measures and cuts services. National Park services get cut. Rangers get less support.
Bankster and corporatocratic manipulation of finances, markets, political elections, and government leads to illegal wars and economic disruption.
Illegal wars are still real wars. Our young men and women kill and injure other human beings. Many of our men and women are themselves killed and injured. All survivors witness great destruction. The Americans return home, and some of them break down, fall apart, and go crazy. And usually not in ways that engender sympathy.
A government short on money begins by cutting then chopping services. “Our” Federal Government begins by eviscerating federal institutions. Not nearly enough health care is provided for our veterans and their families, especially psychotherapy and counseling. It’s easier, faster, and cheaper to build flashy new weapons and weapons systems. Other federal services get cut, including the national park service.
Benjamin Colton Barnes was a former soldier in the United States Army. He served in the Iraq campaigns of 2007-2008 during the Global Long War on Terror. A private first class, he served in communications while deployed into Iraq. Barnes was also released from the military with a misconduct discharge for a string of offenses.
At a New Year’s Eve 2011 party in Skyway, a satellite town on the edge of the Greater Seattle Pugetopolis, Washington State, a number people brought guns including military weaponry to show off, brag, and posture. The rest of us would likely call them “gun nuts,” a term I reserve NOT for those who respect the firearms they collect and the responsibilities the right to possess a firearm demands, but for those who are immature, violent, and spoiling for a fight. The latter are consumed with egoitis. Barnes was at the party with several hot dates, all of them guns.
Posturing and bragging led to bruised egos. The ego is easily wounded when one’s skin is so thin. Arguments escalated into threats escalated into a gun battle. The details remain murky, but so far it appears Barnes took on the others, big bad soldier from Iraq he is, or was. In the ensuing firefight Barnes shot four people. Two of them were grievously injured and remain in critical care.
Barnes fled the party early in the morning of 1 January 2012. He drove off in a car with guns, knives, ammo, and survival gear. He raced into Mount Rainier National Park to hide out in the middle of the Cascade Mountains. Mt. Rainier remains one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes, is more massive of a mountain than any of those in the Himalayans, and soars skyward to 4,392 meters or 14,411 feet above sea level. The Mountain dominates the Pacific Northwest and is the black hole of severe winter storms. It receives astounding amounts of precipitation. Its vast slopes are blanked with heavy, deep snow, thick forests, and icy glaciers.
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