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While Massachusetts was voting yesterday, police in Virginia were looking for the guy who killed eight people, most of them presumably relatives, some of them schoolchildren, at his house in rural Appomattox County.

The killer hid on his wooded property and apparently shot at and brought down a police helicopter before surrendering this morning. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and camouflage pants when he was arrested.

Police have been tight-lipped about details of this terrible crime, though they did mention that they found and detonated several explosive devices on the property.

Police also say, now, that they do not know why Christopher Speight went on his murderous rampage.

But there are several hints, in news accounts and comments under them, that Speight was another gun nut who worried that the government was going to take his guns.

More, below.

According to the Lynchburg News & Advance (linked above), Speight:

was a gun collector and was "very skilled with weapons," said Connie Anderson, co-owner of the Sunshine Market on Campbell Avenue in Lynchburg, where she said Speight occasionally worked as a security guard employed by Old Dominion Security.

Anderson said he has known Speight about five years and that she and her husband, David, both have concealed weapons permits and have been to Speight’s home in Appomattox for target practice.


Anderson said Speight talked to her husband Saturday night about an apparent family dispute involving the home, which was left to Speight and his sister after his mother died.

Speight’s address, 3030 Snapps Mill Road, was listed for sale in 2009, in’s real estate ads. The building was listed as a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home, sitting on 34 acres of wooded land.

So, another domestic dispute, this one apparently over property, ends in tragedy.

One commenter under the newspaper story said he knows Speight, and recalls:

I used to work with him. He was always unbalanced, and extremely paranoid, especially of the government. You know the story. Unfortunately, something pushed him over the edge, and he’s extremely well armed.


He was always an intense person, displayed the survivalist mentality, and had a fear the government was going to "try to take his guns."

Despite all that, Speight received concealed weapons permits and apparently his arsenal was all legal, in Virginia.

The "government wants to take your guns" fantasy is an article of faith for many on the right, and has become even more so after Obama's election. Some teabaggers, to judge by signs at their events and comments on their websites, are deluded by this far-right myth.

The fantasy is fanned by the NRA and NRA-wannabe groups, largely as a fund-raising racket, even though the Supreme Court, and political reality, have made the Second Amendment stronger than ever.

But a few "unbalanced and extremely paranoid" gun nuts believe the BS, and kill and/or shoot at cops.

Speight is not the first to do so, and I fear he won't be the last.

Two interesting coincidences -- Virginia's "gun-rights" activists rallied in Richmond Monday. They support bills that "would allow concealed handguns to be carried in more places and make it easier to get both guns and the permits."

And Tuesday, the day of the mass murder, was the birthday of Robert E. Lee, who spent some time in Appomattox County in the spring of 1865.    

Originally posted to devtob on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 05:29 PM PST.


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Comment Preferences

  •  ultimately I hope he proves to be right (11+ / 0-)

    about the government taking his guns away.  Forever while he spends his days in prison.

  •  Not exactly (14+ / 0-)

    Not a "gun nut", but a nut with guns. There is a difference.

    He was always unbalanced, and extremely paranoid

    He could have focused on any number of conspiracy theories to explain his "dis" ease. He happened to choose the gun issue.

    •  I used "gun nut" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Navy Vet Terp, Nespolo

      because he had lots of guns, and was paranoid about the government taking them away.

      He is obviously mentally screwed up, too.

      But few such people have inheritance disputes that end in mass murder, by gun.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 05:51:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  First things first (5+ / 0-)

        As you see it, he had a lot of guns and was paranoid about the government taking them away....oh, and he's mentally screwed up, too.

        My point is he was mentally screwed up...and he turned to guns and fear of government as his way of dealing with that.

        I have known and dealt with many "mentally screwed up" people. This guy found an "answer" with guns and gun-rights. Many find their respective "answers" in religion and religious images. Others find their "answers" in CIA connected conspiracy theories.

        •  Then it's a lack of health care.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Not an excess of guns.  Take guns away and he uses knives.  Ban knives, he uses pointy sticks.

          The fallacy that we can even ban guns (I know a guy who packs his own shells, good luck), and that even if we could this would somehow magically end murder is what drives the gun nuts in the first place, because there are a great number on the left who truly believe it.

          Want to stop this sort of thing?  Stop pretending that the 2nd Amendment is negotiable, it's not or the Constitution is toilet paper, and get guys like this the mental healthcare they need, 10 years ago.

          •  In this instance, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hill Jill

            I doubt Speight could have killed eight people and downed a police helicopter with knives or pointy sticks.

            The Second Amendment is not absolute; even the Scalia Court has not reversed the longstanding federal law against owning machine guns.

            And few people outside the gun lobby oppose laws that make it difficult for crazy, paranoid people to buy guns.  

            A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

            by devtob on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 07:02:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Controlling is not banning (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Of course people can murder without guns. They did for thousands of years before guns were invented. Guns do make it easier, though.

            However, I don't see what the problem is in having controls (and, yes, even licensing and registration) to ensure that the people with guns can and will use them properly. This can be done in tandem with having adequate and available mental health care, for many reasons having nothing to do with gun violence. Not either/or --- both.

      •  if the police found marijuana, would you have.... (4+ / 0-)

        called him a DOPE FIEND?

        He had explosive devices.  That's a euphemism for BOMBS.   For all we know he was going to plant bombs in government buildings, just like a lot of rightie-wingers have done and will continue to do.  

        The "gun nut" meme is really really destructive.  It's insulting to law-abiding citizens who have guns for all the usual legal purposes.   Pragmatically it costs us votes and it can lose elections.  

        One of my people just put most of a winter's meat supply in the freezer with one shot.  In this day & age that makes the difference between having enough food and not having enough food.  

        So to use a shootin' metaphor, let's not go off half-cocked.  Wait for the police report or the trial and then we can start dissecting this bastard's sick mind.  

        In all probability what we are dealing with here is a rightie-nut.  And then we can call this what it is.  

        •  A "rightie-nut"? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          devtob, duckhunter

          Really? Just as likely a "Grape-Nut", or a "Dough-Nut".

          Evidence so far is the guy was seriously mentally ill. That's enough to explain what he did. Doesn't need any political spin of right vs left, gun rights vs gun control, or whatever.

          •  i've done extensive research on these.... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            devtob, SoCalSal, Gatordiet

            types of cases, and they are usually extreme right wingers.  

            Law enforcement & intel calls 'em "lone wolves."  They are dangerous and unpredictable, and when they pop, they kill people.  Predicting their behavior is one of the holy grails in anti-terrorism work.  

            •  Dangerous and unpredictable - yes (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Not rational enough to necessarily be "right-wingers". I will agree that much of the right-wing rhetoric can appeal to their unbalanced minds as an avenue to help them find a place for their otherwise irrational fears and urges.

              •  underestimate them at your own risk. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Describing them as irrational is technically correct, but one should still be careful to avoid writing them off as less capable.  

                One of the key characteristics of rightie rhetoric is that it is very often violent and tolerant of violence.  This gives these people a motive and an excuse.  

            •  But this did not start out (0+ / 0-)

              as an attack on a courthouse, military facility, or police.

              Evidently, Speight killed his sister and everyone in the house because he did not want her to sell the house.

              Only after that did he take some shots at cops, without hitting any of them.

              Soon we'll know more about this awful crime.

              But right now, it seems to be a domestic dispute that led to mass murder, and not a "lone wolf" terrorist incident.

              A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

              by devtob on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 06:40:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  so far that's correct. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                But explosives are almost unheard of in domestic disputes and common in lone wolf and terrorist cases.

                The presence of explosives, unless they were clearly intended for "homestead type applications" such as blasting out tree stumps, indicates that something was premeditated.  Whether the "something" was blowing up the house so it couldn't be sold, or blowing up a police station or federal building, remains to be seen.  

          •  Ah, but it seems his particular (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            devtob, Youffraita

            brand of psychosis is one that's all too familiar--Teabagger Syndrome. Paranoid, sure the Government would take aay his weapons cache, etc.

            Owning guns doesn't make you a nut. But stockpiling enough weaponry to outfit a platoon along with explosivs in your basemnt AND spouting a line we heard all of AUgust and September during the ZTea Parties, DOES.  SOme of these folks are genuinely  not playing with a full deck--and the fact that they have access to weapons scares me, since I live in McCain Country.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 06:39:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  heh... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Not all wingnuts are insane...but almost all of the criminally insane in this country are wingnuts.

              Okay, I'm painting with a wide brush: but show me where I'm wrong.  Start by making a case for Rush Limbaugh's sanity.


              GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

              by Youffraita on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 07:09:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  explosives in the *basement* certainly makes him (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              devtob, irishwitch

              a complete nut.

              If nothing else, due to the risk of blowing himself up if anything happens.  

              Sane people store explosives in a manner that minimizes their risk of injury & death in the event they go off.  

              Sane people with lawful purposes only keep explosives in quantities sufficient for their legitimate tasks (e.g. blasting boulders or tree stumps), because having a surplus around means having to dispose of it or use it before it becomes unstable over time.  

        •  In my view, people who believe (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          duckhunter, john07801, SoCalSal, Gatordiet

          that Obama, the federal/state/local government, and/or the United Nations are scheming to take away their legal guns are, ipso facto, gun nuts.

          They are a minority of legal gun owners, and the majority of legal gun owners would not take offense, were it not for the constant propagandizing/fund-raising of the NRA and similar self-interested groups.

          A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

          by devtob on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 06:16:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not many are diagnosed (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            devtob, Predictor

            to the extent that they would be denied gun ownership and, despite the "legal" owner claims of the NRA and sane "enthusiasts," self-policing is bad for the club.  

            Outing non-criminal neurotics attempting to buy guns doesn't help the wholesome gun-owner image and desire to protect him/herself/family.

            And the Obama "gun-grabber" image promotes both membership and sales and is best for all.

            So many right-wing christians - So few lions.

            by john07801 on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 06:43:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  BBC has been covering for hours (6+ / 0-)

    First I've seen of it in any US media.

    There is no planet B

    by Minerva on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 05:46:41 PM PST

  •  He Surrendered... (7+ / 0-)

    ...but as bad as it was/'s worse:

    Bomb technicians discovered a "multitude" of explosives on Wednesday at the Appomattox, Va., home where eight people were fatally shot a day earlier.

    The killings launched an all-night manhunt that ended at sunrise Wednesday with the surrender of Christopher Bryan Speight, the man suspected of carrying out the shootings.

    "We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart." - Blaise Pascal

    by Dixie Liberal on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 05:47:36 PM PST

  •  Right after Brady accuses Obama (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    devtob, Navy Vet Terp, ShempLugosi

    of doing nothing on gun control. While the wacko teabaggers stock up. To our demise.

  •  The saddest part (6+ / 0-)

    is that Americans have become numb to this type of thing.  The media doesn't even bother covering it.

  •  I heard this story a few hours ago on NPR (7+ / 0-)

    I'm sort of surprised it hasn't gotten more coverage on the radio. Even the local progressive station in Seattle hadn't picked it up yet in their news blurbs.

    I suppose the fact he surrendered is something positive, if anything positive can be found in this tragedy. He was shooting at the police helicopter, actually ruptured a fuel line. This could've gone Hollywood movie bad with many law enforcement officers and more civilian deaths.

    I stand by the truth, that way I don't have to be near any Republicans.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 05:57:16 PM PST

  •  last time I checked, Lynchburg was.... (4+ / 0-)

    ...the home of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority.   Remember them?  

    I think there is still a significant amount of that kind of rightie-nut crap going on in the area, and some piece of Falwell's empire still standing there.  

  •  if its about socialism then it is terrorism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This has been bothering me a great deal, calling dems socialists, because the hate is scary.  It seems it is getting close to dems being treated in a racist fashion and the new lynching is mass murder by gun.  What I do not understand is why, with registration, does law enforcement not take notice of a single guy who stockpiles lots of guns and ammo?  Isn't this a big hint that paranoia may be a factor?  I think this needs to be checked out to see if there are psychiatric problems.  I believe that mentally unstable people cannot own guns and it makes no sense to wait until they act when registration shows how many and how much.  It certainly would be a unique way to disarm them and may calm things a bit if ATF looked at some of the blog posts on the conservative sites to see if there are any threats, investigate, get a psych evaluation, and take the guns away.  I think the hate rhetoric would be notched down a bit.

    •  It's different in every state (0+ / 0-)

      Here in NY, only handguns are required to be registered.

      Long guns, which Speight apparently used in his rampage, are not.

      The gun laws in Virginia are less restrictive, as the Virginia Tech example illustrates.

      A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

      by devtob on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 07:18:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  some background from near ground zero (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brillo, devtob
    1. This all happened within a quarter mile of my dog's vet (for reference of my proximity to this.)
    1. Despite VA's carry laws, not everyone goes to WalMart Packing.  No one, as a matter of fact, though legally entitled to openly carry nearly everywhere.
    1. There are lots of progressives here in Southside VA - not everyone is beholden to the dick in the box (nee Falwell).
    1. Last time I went to the local "Trading Post" to buy some ammo, the fox news (sic) watching owner laughed at the thought that people were scared Obama was "gonna git their guns", and "those idjuts were retards" as no future American President was going to do anything more than Clinton did*.
    1. Assholes like Speight can be found in every neighborhood in the US.
    1. So yes, nearby in Farmville, back in September we had a 4X homicide, and then there was VA Tech killing spree, then this incident, all have horrified and shocked everyone.  Virginia is not a free-fire zone.

    *see Brady Campaign Rating of President Obama

    Unfortunately all I see is an opening for opportunists from both sides of the issue to use this tragedy for their own purposes.

    and all I can find at Wally world is 115gr/9 whitebox crap.

    Show me on the doll where Rahm touched you.

    by mydailydrunk on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 07:19:27 PM PST

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