Pine Nuts: Who shot down Flight 17? |

Pine Nuts: Who shot down Flight 17?

EDITOR’S NOTE: With Jim Porter on vacation, his regular Law Review column is taking a week off. In its place is this week’s column from Mark Twain impersonator McAvoy Layne.

We can’t put a name on the person who pulled the trigger on the Buk missile believed to have brought down flight MH17, but we know it was an adolescent.

How do we know? Because we are all adolescents, and when we get weapons in our hands we oftentimes do damage that is unintended. Mark Twain characterized this scenario over a century ago:

“Never handle firearms carelessly. Only four days ago, right in the next farmhouse to the one where I am spending the summer, a grandmother, old and gray and sweet, one of the liveliest spirits in the land, was sitting at her work, when her young grandson crept in and got down an old battered musket which had not been touched for many years and was supposed not to be loaded, and pointed it at her, laughing and threatening to shoot. In her fright she ran screaming and pleading toward the door on the other side of the room; but as she passed him he placed the gun almost against her very breast and pulled the trigger! He had supposed it was not loaded. And he was right – it wasn’t. So there wasn’t any harm done. It is the only case of that kind that I have ever heard of.”

So there we have it.

Provide adolescents with powerful weapons and we get Flight 17 brought down by accident. Only when (if) we as a species survive adolescence and recognize that violence is not the answer to problem solving, will these kinds of tragedies be relegated to the dustbin of history.

That being said, the first question that comes to mind is, “Who was the idiot who transferred that sophisticated antiaircraft weapon to the next idiot?”

We will always have idiots, but we can cut back the multibillion dollar arms market that makes every third idiot a threat to humanity.

Adnan Khashoggi is a prime example. As an arms dealer he had little concern about who might be bad actors and who might be good actors.

He sold arms, enough arms to make him a billionaire 40 times over. If you’ve seen his mansion at Tahoe, one of his many palatial estates across the globe, you will begin to understand the power and prosperity involved in the lucrative business of arms sales.

We talk about the NRA in this country as having power. Khashoggi looks at the NRA as toddlers.

Khashoggi doesn’t care a bleep about background checks when he sells a surface-to-air missile, he just takes the money and buys another home or throws a party like the one he threw for his eldest son that Robin Leach characterized as, “the most extravagant event in European history.”

Russia is just as discriminating. Wanna buy a Buk?

If you’ve got the rubles, Russia has a missile launcher good to 82,000 feet. And we share complicity in this crime. In the past decade tens of thousands of Mexican citizens have been murdered by guns manufactured in America.

There is too much anger and hatred in this world to be selling weapons to adolescents, adolescents who, without weapons, might be experimenting with diplomacy. It’s high time we stop selling arms and start selling peacekeeping.

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.