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 “[S]ome of you up here may have heard me say this 20 years ago when I was still working on this rally, it’s like sitting on an open powder keg with a lit cigarette.”

The Taos County Undersheriff tries to explain to locals complaining about the quality of policing before and after last month’s mass shooting at Red River’s biker rally (see these posts for background), that he told them decades ago how super-dangerous the event was, but no one listened. Thus it’s a bit rich, after years of criminality and menace finally culminating in what anyone with a brain knew would happen, to listen to locals bitching about all the blood.

After all, ‘who would have thought 28,000 bikers converging in a 1-square-mile mountain town of 539 people for Memorial Day weekend could get out of control?’

[R]ecently filed court documents point toward years of turmoil in the state with two rival gangs — the Bandidos and Mongols — perceiving themselves to be at war with the other.

Ol’ UD could have chosen from a zillion recent bloody gun incidents; why so much blogging about the Red River massacre? Because a town promoted a huge, violent, cult ritual! Year after year, knowing full well they were hosting thousands of cretinous warring sects and calling the event family friendly! Drawing children to the powder keg!

These guys all seem likable enough: [people tend to think] that they are misunderstood, outlaws from the old days, and they ride motorcycles instead of horses,’ [one policeman] said. ‘Even cops think, “Oh they are just tattooed long haired guys who like to ride motorcycles.” And the reality of it is they are long-haired tattooed guys who ride motorcycles and sell a hell of a lot of methamphetamine and murder people and steal motorcycles and extort people and beat people up in bars for no reasons.’

When people around the world wonder what peculiar American cultural traits produce daily large-scale gun carnage, they need to look at gunny gangy states like New Mexico, and gun-mad towns like Red River within that state. Here’s a perfectly respectable town – a yearlong tourist destination! – with a chronic violence fetish. Why? If the CDC is serious about studying American gun violence, it needs to dispatch a team of epidemiologists to Red River to ask people questions like Why do you think 28,000 armed bikers are cute? What is it about open powder kegs that makes you want to smoke cigarettes on top of them?

I think part of the answer must be that states like NM, always eager to liberalize their gun laws, proudly perceive themselves to be Badlands. Wild west shootouts have always been part of their frontier history, and in these post-frontier days, biker rallies virtually guarantee the survival of that self-affirming drama. Like their neighbor, whose famous tagline is Don’t Mess with Texas, biker rally states assume as a default position paranoid belligerence – and what better organized group to exteriorize that world view than the Mongols?

If I’m right, then mass murder is baked in to states like NM and Texas. If I’m right, it’s constitutive of state identity. Hell, NM done got MORE gun deaths than TX!

Not to get all Freudian, but the evidence points here: Mass murder isn’t what NM and Texas dread; it’s what they crave.


Slowly, slowly, at least parts of NM learn.

Margaret Soltan, June 3, 2023 12:47AM
Posted in: guns

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2 Responses to “ “[S]ome of you up here may have heard me say this 20 years ago when I was still working on this rally, it’s like sitting on an open powder keg with a lit cigarette.””

  1. JND Says:


    New Mexico 2023 is a bunch of pikers compared to Texas 2015.

    Law enforcement didn’t come out looking too good in Waco. Seems to be happening again in New Mexico.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    JND: Yes, I also wrote a lot about the Waco shootout when it happened, especially because it occurred during graduation festivities at Baylor. And you’re right – the Waco shooting killed/injured far more, and was a much bigger national/international story.

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