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April 3, 2012

“Landon was one of the good guys.”

When talking about the role of guns in our society, pro-gun activists frequently like to categorize themselves and other Americans into two neat little groups: “good guys” and “bad guys.” They see themselves as “sheep herders,” protecting the unarmed and ignorant “sheep” (that would be us) from the “wolves” out there (meaning criminals and other dangerous individuals). The problem is that real life isn’t so black and white, as a recent case involving one of their own so gruesomely demonstrates.

On March 21, 2012, NRA certified firearms instructor/concealed handgun permit holder/former Red Cliff Rifle Club president/former Marine Landon Jorgensen shot and killed his 25-year-old girlfriend, Adria Jordan Parker, and her five-year-old daughter, Eliza Kate Parker, in cold blood in Central, Utah. He then took his own life. One neighbor stated he often heard yelling and screaming coming from the house, but police never visited the home before the murders.

Members of the ConcealedCarryForum.com message board that Jorgensen had frequented were in utter shock that the 24-year-old would murder a woman and a child. Forum owner Nathan Collier wrote, “i want need to see the case file on the incident with landon. with so much assumption pointing to guilt, i just cannot accept that landon would be capable of doing these things based on what i knew of him. i dont trust a small police department with no real forensic capability to get to the bottom of this.” He went on to suggest that Jorgensen’s girlfriend was responsible for the murders, claiming, “at the risk of starting a bunch of conspiracy theories, im more inclined to believe that landon walked in on something...perhaps the young girls father was there trying to take her and thats why landon was driving so fast to get home. perhaps it got ugly and the man shot everybody and made it look like landon did it. perhaps it was the girlfriend who landon told me had stopped taking her medication for depression about a month ago.” After a few days of reflection, Collier would scrub his website of these “theories” and simply state, “Prior to this incident Landon was one of the good guys.”

On the one hand, you could see how Collier might feel that way. At his blog, “Guns, Freedom, and Politics: One Young Man’s Perspective,” Jorgensen pitched himself as an all-American boy, writing. “I'm a regular guy in my own right. I love this country and I want to get it back to the way it was when our founding fathers were alive. I am a USMC veteran and was medically discharged for my back issues. When I was discharged I immediately got into being a firearms instructor. My passion is to teach people the correct way to use firearms so that they can be both safe and fun. My goal in life is to own a gun store with shooting range attached.” And just two years earlier, Jorgensen had been posting messages to ConcealedCarryForum.com about protecting women from violence, such as: “If I were the father of a girl, regardless of age (unless she's way too young) I'd for damn sure be training them on how to defend themselves. The only thing that restraining orders are good for is the prosecuting attorney in a murder case, such as this. It's a shame that women like [a female murder victim] don't realize what a handgun and some good training can do for them.”

On the other hand, Collier and other contributors at ConcealedCarryForum.com were willfully ignorant of a litany of disturbing and violent comments that Jorgensen had posted on the site in the years leading up to the murder-suicide.

For example, less than a month before the shooting, Jorgensen referenced Adria on the forum, writing, “you show me a woman not on meds, and ill show you a woman that needs to be.” On other occasions his misogyny was more prominent. When one forum user asked about carrying a concealed handgun on a date, he posted, “If it's a military girl I'd be more worried about STDs and pregnancy than what she thinks about your ccw habits. I know a lot of female marines that were either contagious with something nasty or they were pregnant, or they were lesbians. Either way just let her know that you carry off base and if she isn't cool with that then tell her to pound sand.” In a May 2010 post discussing how he inherited the two firearms that his father used to commit suicide, Jorgensen called his mother “psychotic.” At his blog, he wrote, “My soon to be ex-mother-in-law, a strong democrat, (whom has no sense of what our forefathers did for us) has said some of the most outrageous things that I've ever heard in my life. When the health care bill was passed earlier this year I was talking to her about it because of the 'unconstitutionality' of it. I simply said ‘this can't ever go into effect because of how unconstitutional it is’ to which her reply was ‘throw the constitution out of this. We have to figure out a way to fix our health care system.’ At that point I told her that since she wants to throw the constitution out of it, that I was going to seize her First Amendment rights to the freedom of speech. It shut her up real quick, to say the least.” While he frequently used the forum to accuse gun violence prevention activists of being advocates for rape, it was clear that Jorgensen himself harbored a tremendous amount of anger towards the women in his life.

Jorgensen's hatred for women also surfaced during his performances as an aspiring stand-up comedian. A November 2011 video reveals that Jorgensen's "humor" came entirely at the expense of women. During his act, he said, “I’ve been dating a lot lately. Yay for dating. If I’m gonna spend $40 bucks I might as well go down to Vegas and get a whore. At least you’re guaranteed sex.” Turning to his job he said, “They kicked me out of the security department because when I was working the graveyard at the hospital this big girl—I mean I’m big, she’s huge—she comes in at midnight and she is like ‘Is there where I go to get a rape kit done?’ and I was like ‘Who would rape you?’” He continued, “I did get a girl pregnant about three weeks ago. And she lets me know, she’s like ‘But I also need to let you know that I have cancer and I am going to die in six months,’ and I’m like, ‘There’s another $400 I just saved.’” Jorgensen then talked about playing with the six-year-old son of a woman he was dating. He said, “We were playing one day and he was like, ‘I can’t believe you’re losing to a six-year-old,’ and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m f---ing your mom. Shut up. Call your real dad.’” Describing how he dances with women, he stated, “I go up behind a girl that’s dancing all sexy. I’ll be like ‘What’s up’ you know. You just don’t really say anything, you’re like having sex with this person with clothes on and you’re not saying anything. It’s kinda weird. So you’re like ‘What’s up’ you know. Three or four songs go by and you want to go up to kiss her and she’s like ‘I don’t kiss’ and I’m like ‘Bitch I just had sex with you for 20 minutes and you’re not going to kiss me on the mouth, what are you a prostitute?’” He concluded, “That Ludacris song, it’s like ‘Shake what your mommy gave you.’ I’m pretty sure she didn’t f---ing give you three baby daddies and four STDs.”

Nor were women the sole target of his anger. He listed his favorite book as “Arguing With Idiots” by conservative radio host Glenn Beck. Complaining about the high cost of a gun, Jorgensen wrote, “Really stinks like muslim's [excrement] and there's nothing that you can do about it.” Like other members of the forum, Jorgensen also enjoyed playing out violent self-defense fantasies. In one, he imagined “killing the gay serial rapist that broke into your home.” In another, he stated, “I would not hesitate to pull the trigger on someone that was the size of an adult, but even if it was a 12 year old that was only 4’11’’ and 90 lbs soaking wet, if he’s a threat, then he’s a threat, and will be eliminated.”

Jorgensen also fantasized about murder. In one threatening comment about the the staff of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, he wrote, “I've always said that someone should attack members of the Brady Campaign with a knife, a baseball bat, and a tire iron so that they can forget about guns being banned and focus on the real weapons that are available almost anywhere you go.” Discussing a Brady Center event where journalist Helen Thomas presented an award, he added, “The only good that could've came from that is if she croaked right there behind the podium. Actually, the only thing that would've been better is if a mass shooter came in and opened up on all those sheep.” In a separate thread, he mentioned Colin Goddard, a Brady Campaign employee and survivor of the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, stating, “I could care less if he was shot four times. Maybe he should've been armed and stopped the threat.”

This was one of their “good guys”?

At other times, Jorgensen’s paranoia was on full display. He was a proponent of carrying a gun at all times, even while inside his own home. Some of the places he wrote about carrying included the gym and the public high school that he graduated from. Jorgensen also wrote that he only used handicapped stalls in public restrooms so that no one could reach over and grab his gun. Responding to a shooting at a federal courthouse, he wrote, “Too bad that we can't carry at federal buildings. I guarantee this would've ended in a lot less than 43 shots if a civilian sheepdog were present. Thanks for disarming the good guys Uncle Sam.” When forum members mentioned locations where guns are prohibited, Jorgensen became enraged. One user wrote that carrying a weapon is prohibited in banks in North Carolina, leading Jorgensen to respond, “That’s because NC is full of faggots.” When another poster wrote about private businesses in Utah posting signs prohibiting the carrying of firearms, Jorgensen advocated violating their policy, writing, “if you remain concealed anyway, how will they ever know?” Jorgensen even refused to go to gun shows because of the requirement for attendees to unload their firearms before entering.

Finally, Jorgensen was a big fan of the organization that made sure he could legally purchase firearms and carry them in public despite his mental health issues: “While many of you may not agree with what the NRA does as a whole, many fail to understand the importance of what they have done for us,” he wrote at his blog. “Since 1871 they have been the leaders in securing our Second Amendment freedoms.” Jorgensen was a proud Life Member of the NRA.

Jorgensen spent his whole life ensuring that he would have a gun ready when he encountered a “bad guy”. But in the end, it was the violence-obsessed Jorgensen who became the “bad guy. This “wolf” was not an intruder or someone committing a random act of violence in public. Adria and Eliza Parker were brutally killed at the hands of someone they knew, as is the case in two-thirds of all homicides in the U.S.

One wonders if the pro-gun activists at ConcealedCarryForum.com understand this fact. And if they appreciate the damage that can be done by engaging in violent fantasies about crudely stereotyped “enemies.” Certainly the forum’s contributors have the firepower to turn bouts of depression or mental illness into bloodbaths. We can only hope that caution and restraint will govern their rhetoric in the wake of this tragedy.