Vaccine for shootings

It took a long time for the public and media to understand the “side effects” from shootings. As with the COVID vaccines, meant to protect us from a potentially deadly and highly infectious disease, we need a vaccine from shootings. Yes, there are side effects but getting the public vaccinated is of the utmost importance to get life back to normal. Wouldn’t it be great if we has a vaccine to prevent the side effects of people dying or being injured from bullets? The side effects of gun violence are myriad.

That vaccine would be in the form of reasonable gun laws proposed by legislatures and Congress. The vaccine would also be in the form of campaigns to get gun owners to store their guns safely away from those who could be dangerous with a loaded gun taken from a home or car such as the Be Smart program. It could be in the form of parents asking if there are loaded unlocked guns in the homes where their children play or hang out. It could be an awareness campaign about the risks of guns in homes such as End Family Fire. It could be in the form of appointing a permanent director for the ATF ( as President Biden has offering the name of David Chipman, former ATF agent), long underfunded on purpose and vilified by the gun rights extremists. The ATF has been left without a director for decades on purpose at the bidding of the gun extremists in Congress. It could be in the form of funding research into the causes and effects of gun violence, underfunded by the lapdog politicians in Congress. ( It finally happened in 2020) It could be in the form of community violence intervention efforts to reduce shootings in our urban communities as well as cracking down on Ghost Guns both in the President Biden’s recent Executive Orders.

And of course, it could and should be requiring a Brady background check on ALL gun sales so that every transaction is treated the same way. This, of course, would prevent felons, domestic abusers, adjudicate mentally ill people and others who are looking for a gun to use to shoot people, from easily getting a gun without a background check on-line or at a gunshow. Extreme Risk Protection Orders, when applied the way they should be, would also save lives.

As an aside, there was a recent seizure of Ghost guns and other dangerous weapons in a Pennsylvania raid:

“Investigators discovered 21.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of $968,200,” Shapiro’s office said in a statement. They also discovered “six fully assembled ghost guns, three 80 percent receivers used to make ghost guns, four assault rifles, three handguns, and various ghost gun parts, along with drug and Nazi paraphernalia.”

So-called ghost guns are homemade firearms often made from parts bought online, which do not have traceable serial numbers. They have recently been the subject of executive actions by President Joe Biden to curb their use through federal regulation.

What could possibly go wrong with the scene described above? ( and why the Nazi paraphernalia, often found at gun shows?) After the Jan. 6th insurrection on our nation’s Capitol, one would think this would not be allowed. It is certainly a symptom of something terribly wrong in America. That is a topic for another post.

All of these measures could save us from ourselves. Isn’t it just preposterous that anyone could be against these vaccines for our public health epidemic of gun violence? Only a small minority are as it turns out but somehow they have managed to keep us from curing our disease. It’s not unlike COVID vaccine deniers who refuse to be part of the solution and just add to the problem. Some of the anti-vax opposition is based on nonsense or crazy conspiracy theories. We must oppose that in order to get our country back to normal. Unfortunately some of the denial is political just as is refusing to admit that gun safety reform will work to protect us from devastating gun violence in all of its’ forms. Some of it is misinformation or lack of knowledge about the effects of the vaccine.

Is that on purpose do you think? Some days I wonder at the lack of responsibility and failure of people to seek out correct and valid information. Yes, there is fear of the unknown. But we do now know that the vaccines work. I know if from personal experience. Just as the corporate gun lobby has fomented fear and hysteria over what the effect of common sense gun safety reform would actually mean and look like, there is fear and misinformation around gun violence prevention. A misinformed public is not good for democracy and public safety.

But I digress.

PTSD after mass shootings and “every day” domestic shootings, suicides, community violence, and unintended shootings is real. We know that now. When citizens have to worry that wherever they go to work, play, pray, shop, learn, and celebrate outdoor events there could be a person with a gun who intends to do harm, something is wrong in America.

This is a uniquely American disease. Other countries have found the vaccine for the potential violence and snuffed it out before it kills people by the hundreds every day. That vaccine is strong gun laws and the recognition that guns carried around and owned by anyone and everyone is just not healthy.

The fallout is a grocery store worker experiencing PTSD after being at King Soopers Stop and Shop on the day a shooter walked in and started shooting innocent people:

In the six weeks since a gunman killed 10 people — including his manager and two colleagues — at the King Soopers market in Boulder, Loomis has come to avoid crowds and public places. He is sad, angry and anxious,and following months of working the front lines of pandemic, worn out.

“A lot of people are quitting, and others are still too shaken up to talk about what happened,” the 21-year-old cashier said. “Wherever I go now, I’m looking at people, thinking, ‘Does he have an assault rifle? Was that a gunshot? How do I escape?’ ” (…)

The prolonged stress, public health experts say, can lead to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease and other conditions. Now they’re dealing with one more stressor, said Bethany Brand, a psychology professor at Towson University in Maryland who specializes in trauma.

“Statistically the odds of any one grocery worker being killed at work are extremely small, but that is not how our brains work,” she said. “The impact of these events is real with heightened levels of stress and anxiety for many employees.”

‘It feels like a war zone’: As more of them die, grocery workers increasingly fear showing up at work

Even workers not directly affected by the shootings say they are struggling to sleep and are fearful of going to work, as they confront an ever-present threat of gun violence in the workplace. On April 20, less than a month after the Boulder shootings, a gunman opened fire in a Stop & Shop in Long Island, killing one manager and injuring two employees.

This is #notnormal. Except, of course, it is. Last week I saw a headline of a news story come across my iPhone that a 6th grader brought a gun to Plymouth Middle School in Minnesota. My son lives in Plymouth, Mn. His oldest son and my grandson goes to middle school but his school is in the Wayzata school district. My first reaction was panic as was that of my son and his wife until we realized that the school in question was in the Robbinsdale school district. Phew. Crisis averted. Except it wasn’t for the Plymouth Middle School after this 6th grader, who took a gun from his home, shot off bullets into the ceiling. Phew. Crisis averted. Except for the trauma of the event on everyone involved.

And the father who owned that gun? He apologized. According to the above linked article, he believed his son to be suicidal and spoke about the effect of COVID on our kids. I get that part. It’s been tough. What he didn’t talk about is why he had a loaded handgun sitting in his bedroom for his son to get his hands on. If he knew his son was suicidal, safe storage was the vaccine for that.

We need more than apologies.

Minnesota has a Child Access Prevention Law but it does not appear that the father will be charged. Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult. Was this the child’s fault? Was he trained not to touch a loaded gun because it could be dangerous? Because we know that just does not work. Children will, just like adults, think a gun is just another thing around the house if it is not treated like a dangerous weapon designed to kill others. Parents need to understand the consequences of irresponsibly storing a gun. The father, the boy and the entire Robbinsdale community are lucky the incident was not deadly.

The fallout of the middle school shooter is all around us. The entire community is wondering how this could have happened in their school or place of work. Way too often, the first comments after a shooting are that these things just don’t happen in their city, their school, their grocery store, their concert, their movie theater- until they do.

If we just practice common sense, we can reduce and prevent shootings. It’s not rocket science. It’s simple. If we care that over 40,000 Americans a year lose their lives ( an increase not seen in decades) to mostly preventable shootings, we will put our heads together with politicians on both sides of the aisle, with gun owners, with parents, professionals, educators, CEOs of companies, victims, survivors, faith leaders, community activists, and youth. We will get it done. Whatever it takes to get this done we do know that the #timeisnow for all of that to happen. We also know that the time was decades ago but we have failed our citizens. We have failed our children. We have failed.

Let’s do this.

April

It’s April 20th. Yesterday was the “anniversary” of the bombing of the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. 168 people died. The nation will not forget that on April 19th, a man with right wing extremist views committed an act of domestic terror- one of the first of others to follow. After the Jan. 6th insurrection at the Capitol, references and comparisons were made. There was something similar about the two.

“April is the cruelest month”. This quote is the first line of the poem by American poet T.S. Eliot in his poem Wasteland. This year April has clearly been a very cruel month regarding shootings as I wrote about in my last post.

Today it’s another anniversary of the nation’s first mass school shooting that broke our hearts as we watched, horrified at the images of students hanging out of windows and walking out of the school, hands over their heads. 12 died that day in 1999. We mourned together. The Columbine shooting was the first of what has since become a national epidemic of school shootings that have taken the lives of our precious children in numbers unimaginable. 20 six year olds were massacred in December of 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. 32 at Virginia Tech. 16 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And it continues.

The shooting at Columbine and at a Jewish Community Day Care Center in California led to the Million Mom March and the birth of an organization that has been working to save lives and prevent shootings ever since. That organization is today called Brady United Against Gun Violence, or just Brady. Since the shooting of Gabby Giffords and the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, 2 more organizations entered the space of gun violence prevention. Giffords and Everytown/Moms Demand Action are making a real difference to the landscape with ever more activists doing the work of educating the public, lobbying, organizing, making calls, working on campaigns, holding vigils, involved in the Social Media space to demand that common sense prevail over cowardice and weakness.

Time after time, we have rallied, lobbied, marched, rung bells and lit candles. The bodies have piled up as we watch our lapdog politicians ignore the devastation and the horror. We have heard the excuses. We have heard the nonsensical rhetoric of the corporate gun lobbyists and leaders deceiving us and lying to us over and over again. We have heard them say that trying to prevent shootings won’t make a difference because people will get guns anyway even though we are trying to stop the “anyway”. We have heard them say that only good guys with guns can save us from the consequences of our failure to enact laws that could save us from the shootings. We have heard them offer thoughts and prayers while refusing to take the action necessary to stop having to offer thoughts and prayers.

Today we remember the victims of the Columbine shooting. Yesterday and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow we have and will remember the more than 100 who die of gunshot injuries every day in America.

In remembrance:

Cassie Bernall

Steve Curnow

Corey DePooter

Kelly Fleming

Matt Kachter

Daniel Mauser

Daniel Rohrbough

Rachel Scott

Isaiah Shoels

John Tomlin

Lauren Townsend

Kyle Velasquez

Coach Dave Sanders

Cloudy with a chance of shootings

I started to see the headlines in the media and then on Facebook and Twitter. It was one shooting after another over the week-end. Here is the list ( but there could be more):

You can’t make this up.

The Gun Violence Archive reports that so far this year, 12, 758 Americans have died from gunshot injuries. There have been 152 mass shootings so far this year. There has been a 73% increase in mass shootings this year over last year.

The forecast is deadly. It’s dangerous. Take cover and don’t go near your windows. Find a safe place where you will be protected from the violence.

It’s like a virus spreading around from city to city. No mask can save us from this one. It’s an ominous sign and we should heed the warning. Guns are almost literally falling from the sky.

Insanity reigns ( rains).

Only common sense can fix this.

Let’s do something and do something fast before the virus becomes too virulent to stop. Let’s do something before the winds and hail of bullets harm all of us.

The blame game or who can we blame for mass shootings?

I have been in a nonsensical “discussion” on a Facebook posting of a local TV station about the mass shooting in Indianapolis. In a ridiculous series of comments, which I must conclude come out of ignorance or political adherence to the destructive and dangerous views of the corporate gun lobby and Fox news, President Biden was blamed for the mass shooting. Yes. You read that right. Oh, and also the Democrats.

Here are a few of the comments to which I replied copied from the Facebook page:

  • ” I would like to know…let’s say in the last ten years…how many of these mass shooters were on Doctor prescribed medication?
  • “It’s almost daily now… 🤦🏼‍♂️And all they want to do is take away our guns so we can’t defend ourselves from these crazy people. Think about that…”
  • ” Funny how there’s always mass shootings when Democrats are in office…. weird….”
  • ” Let me guess its the guns fault not the person using it.”
  • “To many f’n nutjobs running around. Primary reason that I have my CCW. I hope it never happens, but I just might be the guy in line behind one of these nutjobs and you can rest assured that I will take him out long before he starts shooting!!!”
  • ” Funny how every single time the dems push for more gun control, there ends up being a bunch of shootings to support their agenda.”
  • ” You can’t carry at fedex while you’re working. Gun free zone gun control failed.yet again. Sad for all the families.”
  • “Why is it sense Biden and the democrats took the office,, were getting alot more shootings,,mmmm”

mmmm. You get the idea.

Why not blame everything but the American gun culture and the millions of guns that can be accessed by private citizens? Why not blame the Republican lapdogs for the corporate gun lobby for their refusal to act to save lives in the face of a national public health epidemic? Why not blame the NRA whose leaders have stood in the way of any kind of gun safety reform legislation that might actually allow most of us to be free from daily gun violence? Why not blame the outrageous lies and myths perpetrated by the corporate gun lobby over the last few decades such as ” the guys with the guns make the rules” or “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun” or guns will be taken away from law abiding gun owners and not criminals if we pass a national background check bill to require background checks on all gun sales?

I have responded to this stuff for so long it is not necessary to do it again. It’s exhausting to tell the truth in the face of lies. The thing is, most Americans want stronger gun laws. Most Americans don’t carry guns around. Most Americans don’t even own guns. Most Americans understand who is to blame.

According to the article quoted above, this shooting could have potentially been prevented if we had Extreme Risk Protection Orders in place in all 50 states and by requiring background checks on all sales. The shooter had his gun removed by law enforcement a year ago at the request of his mother. So where and how did he get this gun? We don’t know yet. From the article cited above:

There have been reports in various news sources that the shooter used an AR15 style rifle for the shooting. Another person reported that an employee went to his car in the parking lot and got a gun out but the shooter shot that person. If true, so much for having a gun to prevent mass shootings and protect oneself.

Long before the shooting, Hole had been known to law enforcement. Last spring, after his mother reported her fears that he would attempt “suicide by cop,” he was questioned by authorities, and the police temporarily detained him for mental health reasons, FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan said.

With Hole’s shotgun seized and not returned, it was unclear how he had obtained the rifle used Thursday night.

And then there is this satire, which sometimes is the only way to make a point in a ridiculous discussion blaming everything but the proliferation of guns in America, from The Onion:

“This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Nebraska resident Andrew Clark, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

Let’s just look at the real problem. This Washington Post article writer gets to the facts and the truth about our American national tragedy played out on an all too regular basis:

Earlier this month, Biden announced limited measures to tackle gun violence that included a crackdown on self-assembled “ghost guns.” But more stringent measures face an uphill battle in a divided Congress, where Republican lawmakers have long opposed any new gun limits.

Nearly 20,000 Americans died last year as a result of gun violence, not including suicide – 25% higher than in 2019, and more than in any other year in at least two decades, according to figures compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is those decades that many of the gun violence prevention organizations and individuals have been working hard to stop and prevent the gun violence that we now see elevated to numbers not seen since many of us began this work. In 1992 when my sister was murdered, the number of gun deaths were in the 40,000 plus range. Then the numbers came down during the late 1990s. In 1993 the Brady law was enacted requiring a background check system to be established called the National Instant Check System. Under that system, in place since then, over 3 million people have been prohibited from buying guns at federally licensed gun dealers. But the law left a big gap allowing for the private sales of guns with no background check required. 1 in 5 gun sales go without a background check. What if we allowed 1 in 5 people to drive without a driver’s license or training or 1 in 5 doctors to treat patients without getting their medical degree and the training required? What if allowed 1 in 5 passengers to board planes without going through the TSA checkpoints? Or what if allowed just anyone to teach our kids?

So what next? President Biden understands common sense. He understands that gun violence in America. From the article quoted above:

“Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence,” he said. “It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives.”

Later on Friday, Biden said U.S. firearms deaths are a “national embarrassment” and called on Congress to ban military-style “assault” firearms.

“This has to end. It’s a national embarrassment,” Biden said at a White House press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

It is more than an embarrassment. it is a tragedy unfolding before our eyes every day. The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of shootings of all kinds. This is what has happened so far in 2021- there have been 148 mass shootings so far and including all forms of gun violence, 12, 515 American souls have died of gunshot injuries. When we study methods of death in our country, if that many people had died so far to this date, we would be demanding that something be done. We have been. But nothing is happening.

Ignoring these deaths, these victims, these numbers, this terrible tragedy is just not sustainable. Blaming everything but the truth does nothing of course. That’s the point. If we do nothing, the bodies will pile up. It could be your loved one or friend next. So many are dying that it’s inevitable that all of us will be directly affected by gun violence. For sure all of us suffer from the PTSD and exhaustion of stories about gun deaths in the news.

On the 14th anniversary of the shooting of 32 at Virginia Tech, we now also have an anniversary of the 8 shot in Indianapolis. On April 20th, we will remember the 12 victims of one of the nation’s first mass school shootings- Columbine. We are all to blame that we have done virtually nothing to protect our kids and our citizens from suffering from shootings.

We are all to blame.

In memory and honor with action:

Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jaswinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.

Gun! Run!

Those are the words I heard an employee of the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado say as he described the scene of the mass shooting on Monday. Someone yelled these words and of course, everyone knew what they meant. Someone had a gun. Run from it. He did not say anyone offered to stand up to the shooter and try to defend the people inside of the store.

Customers were just going about their daily business buying groceries, picking up a coffee, getting a COVID vaccine- the things we do when we least expect a crazed gunman to open fire randomly with an alleged assault type rifle. Colorado is an “open carry” state allowing gun permit carriers to carry long guns on their persons. It might not be unusual to see someone carrying a long gun around- in America that is. In most other countries, citizens would assume their country was at war if there were people carrying rifles around. But I digress.

Running away in a panic with adrenaline racing through your body is the usual scenario at mass shootings. The first and obvious instinct is to run to get away from the shooter. In many or almost all of the recent mass shooting from Sandy Hook to Aurora, to Las Vegas to Sutherland the shooter chooses the weapon most likely to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible- to the most damage to create havoc and attention. It is not an accident that weapons like AR-15s are chosen by shooters. They know the damage that will be done. The bullets do more damage to tissue and organs, causing more death than other guns.

That is not, of course, what the gun lobby or its’ lapdogs in Congress. They exclaimed in loud and convincing voices that the best way to deal with mass shootings and all shootings is for everyone to have more guns and for the country to have fewer and looser laws rather than the opposite. Actually most Americans disagree with this claim and so does the evidence. But let’s check out Senator Ted Cruz’s angry and defensive comments at the Senate hearing yesterday on gun violence ( long planned before the Atlanta and Boulder mass shootings):

OK. Really Senator Cruz? Ridiculous theater? Poor choice of words. It surely was no theater performance when my sister was shot and killed by her estranged husband. How is theater for the Democrats on the committee to point out the obvious- that we have the highest rate of gun violence of all democratic countries not at war. It’s not theater. It’s not anything of which to be proud. It’s insanity and an American tragedy. The gaslighting from the speakers and Senators was as if they had a script for how to turn everything on it’s head and make all of them into the victims.

But the public knows better. Senator Cruz and other Republican lapdogs to the gun lobby did everything they could to distract from the two tragic and horrendous mass shootings that happened within one week of the hearing. How can you bloviate about the loss of 18 American lives in just 2 shootings, let alone the 100 plus a day that die from gunshot injuries due to domestic violence, suicides and unintentional shootings?

Senator Cruz and others opposed to 2 common sense gun laws passed by the House 2 weeks ago to merely keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have them are the drama queens. Near the end of the hearing, Senator Jon Ossoff, newly elected from Georgia where one of the shootings happened, asked one of the pro-gun speakers if she agreed that felons should not have guns. Her answer was yes.

Where is the gun lobby and lapdog plan for keeping guns away from potentially dangerous people? Where is their solution to our gun violence public health epidemic?

The deceptions offered by the pro gun speakers and their Senate lapdogs were amazingly transparent. Here are a few things that were offered or claimed:

All I know is that the majority of Americans, who agree on almost nothing, do agree that something must be done about gun violence in America. People want to be safe from being shot when they are in public places. They don’t want their children to be shot in school. They don’t want to have to say, as is said after all of the mass shootings, “this doesn’t happen in communities like ours.” YES. It does, it can and it will.

  • People should be allowed to carry guns everywhere
  • Passing universal background checks will only punish law abiding gun owners
  • Guns for self defense are used 1/2 million times a year.
  • Passing the 2 expanded Brady background check bills would result in gun confiscation
  • The Democrats have had an agenda to take guns away for years,
  • People of color, disabled Americans and LGBTQ Americans would be safer if they carried guns
  • People would not be allowed to use guns for self defense if the 2 bills were passed into law
  • Someone with a gun could absolutely stop, prevent mass shootings or save lives at mass shootings
  • We can absolutely tell “good guys” with guns from “bad guys” with guns even though the Atlanta shooter was a supposed “good guy” because he was not a prohibited purchase and got his gun legally.
  • Only “good guys” with guns can save us if they happen to be at the site of every mass shooting
  • There were more but you get the picture.

As long as we our lapdog lawmakers stand in the way of what 90% of Americans want the bodies will pile up.As long as ignore gun violence without offering up sensible solutions, the entire country will experience PTSD. With 40,000 plus gun deaths a year, we are to the point where almost all of us know someone who has been shot or has a family member who died from gun violence. It’s stunning. The Washington Post had this to say today about the situation:

Until two lethal rampages this month, mass shootings had largely been absent from headlines during the coronavirus pandemic. But people were still dying — at a record rate.

Washington Post

“In 2020, gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, more than any other year in at least two decades. An additional 24,000 people died by suicide with a gun.

The vast majority of these tragedies happen far from the glare of the national spotlight, unfolding instead in homes or on city streets and — like the covid-19 crisis — disproportionately affecting communities of color.”

The Washington Post article used the Gun Violence Archive as its’ source as I always do.

Senators on the side of support for passing the laws passed by the House cited evidence and pleaded for evidence based decision making. While it’s true that the evidence is strongly in favor of passing stronger gun laws, much of what will happen will be based on emotion and political will.

We have a gun problem in America- that being that we have too many with easy access to anyone who wants one. Solving this problem seems herculean. It doesn’t have to be. Other countries have acted swiftly and strongly after heinous mass shootings ( New Zealand for example):

“On March 15, a gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers, killing 50 people and injuring many more. It was the country’s first mass shooting in more than a decade. Three days later, cabinet members agreed to develop a massive overhaul of the nation’s gun laws, including a ban on military-style assault weapons.

That show of unified political will, leading to swift action, stands in contrast to the U.S., where there has been more push-and-pull after innumerable high-profile mass shootings in recent years: at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012, Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015, Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016, at a Las Vegas country music festival and a Texas church in 2017, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and a Pittsburgh synagogue last year (and the list goes on).”

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/why-the-u-s-and-new-zealands-responses-to-mass-shootings-are-so-different

Now we are focusing our attention on the two shooters and motives for the shootings. Does it really matter? They both got access to a gun and fit the profile of an angry young man who decided to shoot people for maybe no particular reason. Guns make that all too easy to do. If the shooter of the Atlanta massage parlors had a sexual thing for Asian women, couldn’t he have fixed that without a gun? Maybe get some help? If the Boulder shooter had a reason to hate shoppers, couldn’t he have solved his problem another way- without a gun? There really are no excuses for any of these shootings. There never are. If there is mental illness involved, why have access to a gun? How does that happen in the first place? Yes, we need attention paid to mental illness which is a disease and we are not adequately funding services. But that does not mean we cannot work on solutions to our gun violence problem and at least try to stop dangerously angry, mentally ill people and domestic abusers from getting guns.

This is going to be a fight. It shouldn’t be. It is not partisan. Republicans and gun owners support stronger gun laws. Republicans and Democrats are shot and do the shooting. It’s a uniquely American problem and needs a uniquely American solution. We will keep working on the solution and raising our voices. We know they hear us. They are just deaf to the reality that doing something about it will not be bad for them politically. Or do they cynically want the gun violence numbers to remain high so they can use the numbers to support the sale of guns and to keep their base angry and fearful?

Just asking……

In memory of the Atlanta and Boulder shooting victims :

Rikki Olds- grocery store manager

Denny Stong – 20

Neven Stanisic – 23

Tralona Bartkowiak – 49

Erik Talley- 51 Police Officer

Suzanne Fountain – 59

Teri Leiker – 5

1Kevin Mahoney – 61

Lynn Murray – 62

Jody Waters – 65

Soon Chung Park, age 74

Hyun Jung Grant, age 51

Suncha Kim, age 69

Yong Yue, age 63

Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33

Paul Andre Michels, age 54

Xiaojie Tan, age 49

Daoyou Feng, age 44

Gaslighting and White Supremacy

How do these two words go together? In the month since the insurrection, most of us are absorbing Jan. 6th. Accounts of the day have come slowly. It’s often difficult to process trauma immediately after a horrific and life threatening event. But we are learning more in the aftermath. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez shared her account with us. She has been the target of much ire and gaslighting because she is an outspoken woman of color. She has “radical” and “socialist” ideas. She must be quieted. She wants Republicans to own up to their own complicity in the events of that day of insurrection. The White Supremacists hate her. She dares to speak out.

Marjory Taylor Green, the newly elected Congresswoman ( now stripped of her committee assignments because of her radical conspiracy theories and her own threats against AOC and “the squad) called AOC’s account a hoax– their favorite word.

Gaslighting. (The term is defined, below, but came to be used to describe this sort of abuse in a 1944 film- “Throughout the film version of the story, Paula sees gaslights dimming and brightening for no apparent reason. Gregory convinces her that it’s all inside her head. In reality, he was switching the attic lights on and off to create the gaslight flickers. He manipulated her belief in her own perception of reality through the gaslights.”

Another newly elected Congresswoman, Nancy Mace from South Carolina, discounted AOC’s version of the events of Jan. 6th and accused her of being dramatic and lying.

But wait- that very same Congresswoman shared her own similar account in the immediate aftermath of the attack that affirmed AOC’s account. Hmmm. What’s going on? From the first article highlighted above:

Mace’s misleading attack on Ocasio-Cortez illustrates how, in the lead-up to Trump’s impeachment trial next week, Republicans are shamelessly trying to weaponize the January 6 insurrection against Democrats. Instead of holding Trump or Republicans who indulged his lies about election to account, Republicans like Mace who initially took the insurrection seriously have pivoted to attacking Democrats and arguing it’s time for the country to move on.

The party that mostly voted to let their leader, Donald Trump, get away with his incitement to violence and the resulting insurrection, is circling the wagons. Anyone who dared to speak out against him is now either with him or against him. Nancy Mace voted to certify the election of Joe Biden. Now she is paying the price and has to lie to remain in the party that has increasingly become the party of Trump and White Supremacy, anti-semitism and gaslighting.

White Supremacy is not new, of course, having been with us since the founding of our country and before. And it is not unique to America. Intolerance of anyone different from the dominant caste has led to violence, wars, subjugation, torture, and more. So much has been written about this that my observations are just among thousands of others who have written about and talked about the last month in terms of the history many of us have been ignoring. Now that it is out in the open and so obvious, our nation is staring at how we will proceed and to try to deal with the White Supremacy and concomitant anger that almost killed our democracy.

White Supremacy goes with the gun culture. That is an unavoidable conclusion. I can’t stop thinking about the speech on the floor of the House on Thursday by Representative and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. His passionate speech, along with his walking amongst his colleagues with the enlarged poster of the now familiar Facebook post of Rep. Marjory Taylor Green, was the point. But the Republicans ignored his point and voted (199-10) to allow a White Supremacist conspiracy theory believer to keep her committee assignments. Allowing the violent threat to members of their own to be OK is stunning, to say the least.

Yesterday morning Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, wrote this about the vote on Thursday:

For more than five years, I begged Republicans to reject the creeping anti-Semitism Donald Trump brought to the party, noting on the eve of the 2016 election that “when a demagogue begins to identify scapegoats, the Jews are never far behind.”

But I never expected I would see in my lifetime, in the United States of America, what occurred on the floor of the House this week. One hundred ninety-nine Republican members of Congress rallied to the defense of a vile, unapologetic anti-Semite in their ranks who calls for assassination of her opponents.

This is more than a Republican problem; it’s an American problem. You don’t have to be a scholar of 20th-century Europe to know what happens when the elected leaders of a democracy condone violence as a political tool and blame the country’s ills on the Jews. (…)

This isn’t idle bigotry, for she “liked” a social media suggestion that “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who has committed “a crime punishable by death.” She posted on social media about hanging Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, approved of a suggestion that FBI agents be executed, and posted a photo of herself with an automatic weapon next to three Democratic members of Congress, calling herself their “worst nightmare.”

On the House floor this week, she offered no apology and no direct mention of her anti-Semitic and violent statements. Using Christ-on-the-cross imagery, she condemned those who would “crucify me in the public square for words that I said, and I regret, a few years ago.”

Because they refused to vote against one of their own, so obviously dangerous and vile, they have become the party of bigotry, hate anti-Semitism and White Supremacy. And where does the gaslighting come in? Later in his column, Milbank uses quotes of some of the House Republicans blaming this all on the rest of their House colleagues and on the country. The “whataboutism” employed by this group of apologists for their own deplorable behavior has become the M.O. of the Trumpism that has invaded the once proud party of Abraham Lincoln. More from the Milbank’s column:

Republicans have used similar gaslighting in their response to impeachment. Trump helped organize a rally, incited his supporters to attack the Capitol and refused to call for an end to their murderous spree as they rampaged in search of elected officials in their hopes of overturning the election. But Democrats are the ones doing something “unconstitutional” by holding an impeachment trial after he left office?

Insurrection? Sedition? Assassination? Move on, the Republicans say. These actions and threats are mere “distractions” from the real issues.

Republicans defended Greene with absurd parallels. They attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for past anti-Semitic statements — omitting the crucial distinction that Omar, after Democrats roundly condemned her words, said, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. … I unequivocally apologize.”

Greene, by contrast, remained unrepentant. On Friday, she held a celebratory news conference, again refusing to recant, or apologize for, her violent and anti-Jewish words and gestures.

Gaslighting is a term used to describe an abusive relationship. If you need a reminder, here is a definition:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment.[1] It may evoke changes in them such as cognitive dissonance or low self-esteem, rendering the victim additionally dependent on the gaslighter for emotional support and validation. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.

Trump is a master at gaslighting. He abused the country and his followers bought it. They, too, were gaslighted by him and continue to follow him and apologize for him. But he was the symptom of the underlying disease. Until we grasp, as a nation, what has befallen us, we will not be able to get out of the relationship. White Supremacy is here. It is the proverbial “camel sticking its’ nose under the tent”. The Republican party allowed the camel in and the result was the first of what could be other attacks on our democracy. The warnings are there.

In case we think otherwise, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison held a Zoom town hall presentation, attended by 260 people, to highlight the White Supremacism in largely white Minnesota and across the country. From the article:

From 1994 to 2020, there have been nearly 900 domestic anti-Semitic and racial terrorist attacks, and the majority of those have been by right-wing groups, said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). Racial and religious hatred were the reasons supremacists recently killed people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a church in Charlotte, N.C.

“The JCRC works well with law enforcement to protect all houses of worship, not just synagogues,” he said. “We all have to work together, whatever threats come.”

Paul, who helped investigate the 2015 mass shooting in Las Vegas, said the FBI has seen an increase in violent rhetoric and the acceptance of violence to advance ideologies. The internet allows individuals to craft their own ideologies without being part of a group, he said.

“As the seriousness of domestic terrorist attacks grows, they become part of the public narrative,” he said.

Macalester College Prof. Brian Lozenski, who researches how people get involved in white extremism, said part of the cause comes from the country’s Founding Fathers’ push for white domination through the restrictions on Blacks on property ownership, citizenship and the ability to hold offices.

“We need a national recognition of the story we tell ourselves about the country,” he said.

The story we tell ourselves has been twisted in favor of the dominant caste ( see Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste) We have normalized the violence. We have pretended that it’s just part of our country. Gun toting Americans have become our gun culture gone wrong.

This is NOT NORMAL It is unique to America. We can do something about it. Just carrying a deadly weapon is threatening enough to those not in the dominant caste. It’s a way to keep power and control. In order to be in charge, they must gaslight us all into thinking we are the ones to blame. We are to be feared- those of us who don’t think like them. They must use their symbols- their flags, their weapons, their MAGA and “Q” hats, their anger. Some believe they must carry their guns in the halls of Congress. And now there are metal detectors to stop that from happening and fines for refusing to go through the metal detectors. A few entitled Congress members have already been fined. I guess following the law and procedures is not for them- just for everyone else.

It is going to be difficult to “quit” the abuser. The dominant caste does not give up power easily. We can see that the Republicans are having a hard time processing that Joe Biden actually did win the election after putting us through months of gaslighting trying to convince us otherwise. We, like victims of abuse and gun violence, are suffering from PTSD. I would like to feel hopeful that an intervention in the form of the election and changing of the “guard” will begin that process. With some common sense and fortitude we can begin to heal. This week we will see reruns of the attack during the impeachment hearing in the Senate. It will bring it all back. But sometimes that is what is needed to move on.

Will we hold those responsible for the Jan. 6th attack accountable? Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, shedding light on the abuse, the threats, the events of Jan. 6th and the history of white nationalism and domestic terrorism is a way out of the mire and the twisted history of our democracy. Our democracy can be saved if we hold the light up to the truth.

A warning, unheeded

I told you so. I have been writing for years about violent right wing extremist groups. I have been writing about common sense. I am not alone. The gun violence prevention movement has been doing the same. As a member of a Brady chapter and a Protect Minnesota regional group, we have been warning. Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords and many others have been warning. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, wrote a book about insurrection. Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea couldn’t be more timely. We have had an insurrection in America. It was predictable. But we weren’t paying enough attention. From the article about the Horwitz book:

In Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea, Josh Horwitz and Casey Anderson reveal that the proponents of this view base their argument on a deliberate misreading of history. The Insurrectionist myth has been forged by twisting the facts of the American Revolution and the founding of the United States, the denial of civil rights to African-Americans after the Civil War, and the rise of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. Here, Horwitz and Anderson set the record straight. Then, challenging the proposition that more guns equal more freedom, they expose Insurrectionism—not government oppression—as the true threat to freedom in the U.S. today.

The NRA is complicit if not actually responsible for the violence that occurred on Jan. 6th. Why did Congress members hide under their desks in fear? Like students in lockdowns and school shootings, they feared the worst. They feared they would get shot because that is the gun culture unique to America. Though there were actually not a lot of armed insurrectionists in those fateful hours( with guns anyway) many guns were found later in homes, in cars or on the persons of some of the attackers:

We can safely say that even larger arsenals got away cleanly and are now laying around dens and family rooms next to the Bibles and back copies of National Review. The startling thing—outside, of course, of the fact that we somehow didn’t have an absolute bloodbath on the Capitol steps—is that I believe that a lot of these people did arm themselves for self-defense, except that they were “defending” themselves against the Washington in their heads, the one that had been carefully constructed there by their favorite radio and TV stars, and by a lot of the politicians inside the Capitol, the same ones who now are deploring the violence and asking for healing and reconciliation.

They brought their firepower to “defend” themselves against big-government liberals, and the many members of antifa and Black Lives Matter who now sit in places of power in the federal government. What if AOC and the rest of The Squad showed up on the National Mall with grenade-launchers? What then, huh? These people have more monsters rattling around in their heads than you can find in a Japanese horror film. The problem is that, sooner or later, they’re going to open fire on some of these phantoms and hit some real people. I don’t know what happens then.

They were ready to shoot members of Congress and hang the Vice President of the United States. They were armed with nooses, ropes, plastic zip ties, stun guns, pieces of lumber, knives, hockey sticks devices to break windows and other items that did a lot of harm and in the end, 5 people were dead. 2 officers later killed themselves. These were people deceived by Trump, by the NRA, by “fake news” or no news, by misinformation and by gaslighting and blaming the wrong people for their gripes. The horror and PTSD will live on forever in history.

This article highlighting the report about the implicit and explicit involvement of the NRA released by Everytown for Gun Safety, is what we have been warning about and writing about for many years:

Nine supporters of former President Donald Trump, all arrested on weapons charges in connection with the storming of the U.S. Capitol, had “enough ammunition to shoot every member of the House and Senate five times,” according to a startling new report on the role of firearms in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Some of these heavily armed insurrectionists allegedly made statements threatening violence against lawmakers ahead of the Capitol siege, including a man who texted that he’d be “putting a bullet” in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head; and another man who possessed a written note that menacingly described Rep. André Carson as “one of two muslims” in the House.

A review of police documents — conducted by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety as part of a report published Thursday titled “The Role of Guns & Armed Extremism in the Attack on the U.S. Capitol” — shows cops seized at least 3,071 rounds of ammunition during the course of those nine arrests.

But the arrest and seizure data “likely vastly understates the presence of weapons at and near the Capitol on Jan. 6,” the report states, because police didn’t detain or search the majority of the insurrectionists on the day of the riot, many of whom had shared plans on social media to carry firearms. (Over 150 people have since been arrested for their role in the attack.)

Everytown’s report, however, is much more than a tally of guns and bullets in D.C. on Jan. 6; it’s an examination of how the “insurrectionist theory of the Second Amendment” — pushed for decades by powerful gun lobby groups like the National Rifle Association — led to an actual, armed insurrection in the seat of American democracy in the first week of 2021.

“We believe the NRA, like former President Trump, like some members of Congress, deserves blame for what led to Jan. 6,” Nick Suplina, the managing director of law and policy at Everytown, told HuffPost.

“You don’t get to Trump inciting an insurrection without an NRA laying the groundwork for all these years,” he said.

Everytown’s report highlights the decades long alarmist and paranoid rhetoric fomented by the NRA. It has led to people stockpiling weapons of mass destruction ( high capacity magazines, AR15s and other weapons intended to kill many people at one time). The domestic terror groups like Boogaloo Bois, Oathkeepers, QAnon, and Proud Boys to name a few, have been preparing for a long time. And when, finally, after fueling outright lies about election fraud, President Trump unleashed his angry mob on the capitol their dreams came true. Mob mentality, anger, feelings of frustration, entitlement and rightful indignation about stolen freedoms accompanied the mob down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol where a Constitutional process of accepting the Electoral College votes was taking place. The clear intent was to overturn the election and thus, our democracy. It was historic and will go down in history as the worst domestic attack on our nation to have ever taken place.

And we were warned.

David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post, wrote this column today:

Intelligence reports trace the roots of the movement that stormed the Capitol. An Oct. 21 report by the New York Police Department warned that“racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists,” such as the Proud Boys, “may be emboldened” by President Donald Trump’s comments “to engage in acts of violence before, during or after the election as well as voter intimidation.” A Nov. 10 report warned that, post-election, “violent extremism . . . will likely increase in the near term, as political and social tensions throughout the country continue to rise.”

Law enforcement knew but did not act. An FBI report the day before the Capitol was stormed quoted one extremist preparing for battle: “Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war,” according to an account in The Post.

An extremist group called the Oath Keepers allegedly helped lead the vanguard. A Jan. 27 Justice Department indictment notes that, in November and December, group members exchanged messages about logistics, lodging and operational planning for Jan. 6. According to the indictment, one of the alleged conspirators proclaimed in a Dec. 30 post: “THIS IS OUR CALL TO ACTION, FRIENDS! SEE YOU ON THE 6TH IN WASHINGTON, D.C.” He posted three days later: “This kettle is set to boil.”

Even the Capitol Police, which allowed the mob to breach its security perimeter, saw an attack coming but couldn’t mobilize to stop it. The Post quoted from an internal Jan. 3 intelligence report: “Congress itself is the target on the 6th . . . there is the possibility that protesters may be inclined to become violent.”

We were warned. We didn’t think what happened on Jan. 6th was possible. We were warned.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning for years. We didn’t listen. we were warned. We didn’t think what happened on Jan. 6th was possible. Check out the Hate Map on the site to see where these dangerous extremist domestic terror groups are living- amongst many of us as it turns out. They could be your neighbors.

And now, we have been warned again. More violence is coming. Jan. 6th was just the beginning. Armed militia and other extremist groups have been stockpiling their guns for years for just this moment in time. waiting to use their extremist and twisted view of the second amendment to fight against their own government. The Department of Homeland Security has issued an actual warning:

Long-standing racial and ethnic tension—including opposition to immigration—has driven DVE attacks, including a 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.

DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities.

DHS remains concerned that Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) inspired by foreign terrorist groups, who committed three attacks targeting government officials in 2020, remain a threat.

Threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.  

DHS, as well as other Federal agencies and law enforcement partners will continue to take precautions to protect people and infrastructure across the United States.

DHS remains committed to preventing violence and threats meant to intimidate or coerce specific populations on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity, identity or political views.

DHS encourages state, local, tribal, and territorial homeland security partners to continue prioritizing physical security measures, particularly around government facilities, to protect people and critical infrastructure.

The U.S. Capitol is surrounded by fencing. National Guard troops will remain there until April. This is where we are right now.

The extremists amongst us have been radicalized by a madman whose name is Donald Trump. He was just the person to come along at a time when the anger, unwarranted fears, paranoia and dissatisfaction with everything was fomenting after many years of hiding below the surface- just below the surface. He fomented and encouraged the anger, hate, racism, White Supremacism, unrest and violence that has led us to this moment in our history.

The election of our country’s first Black president, in my opinion, riled up the White Supremacists amongst us. They did not like this uppity, intelligent, well educated and ambitious Black man. He was now in a position of superiority over the country and all of those resentful White people. If you read the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, you will know what I am talking about. When a Black man becomes the leader of a mainly White country ( soon not to be true) it brings out the worst in some. Many of us celebrated Barack Obama’s election to be our first Black president. Others seethed about it. The rest is history.

Everything about Donald Trump’s presidency had to do with canceling whatever President Obama had accomplished out of pure spite. Psychopaths always get even, no matter how long it takes. It took Donald Trump 4 years and he is not done yet. I have no idea what the Republicans mean when they refer to the cancel culture. They made it up to cover for what is really wrong in Congress and America- their failure to hold Donald Trump accountable and stop him from what led to the January 6th insurrection. They knew. They know. They can’t handle the truth. They are canceling the truth and democracy.

Read the book, The Psychopath Inside by James Fallon, for much more insight into how psychopaths behave. And don’t get me started about the malignant narcissism that defined Donald Trump and his behavior towards anyone who dared to disagree or challenge him. Check it out if you don’t believe me. The symptoms of narcissism are:

Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.

These are recognizable and medically confirmed traits of a personality disorder commonly conferred on Donald Trump by others who know him well. And for those who have dealt with narcissists in their lives, the symptoms were obvious.

We are left with the psychological and physical wreckage of a violent movement that has been fomenting for decades. All it took was a leader who was clever enough to energize and incite those whose gripes and fears had turned to anger and resentment. Trump was and is a demagogue who has led his followers astray and has tried and will continue to try to ruin our democracy. He won’t quit until he gets his way or makes every attempt to get his way- no matter what it takes. He intends to get even for what he believes was a “landslide” win in the 2020 election. Apparently the Republican party is set to go along with all of this. Having not uttered the necessary words to deny the conspiracies and the violence, their silence is complicity. Out of fear, a few of them spoke out in the hours after the attack. But then their weakness got the better of them and they crumpled under fear of angry voters. Even they have been threatened and when the “guys with the guns make the rules”, it changes your resolve. But only if you let them make the rules. No, Wayne LaPierre, our founding fathers did not believe the second amendment “freedoms” should lead to an insurrection against the U.S. government.

These are the very same folks who insist that the Democrats not hold Trump and his insurrectionists responsible for what happened on Jan. 6th. They are wrong. Even if the Republicans in the Senate cannot bring themselves to do what they know is right for democracy and the country, we will know who they are. History will not be kind to them. They were warned many times over. They turned their heads towards their angry base. Trump did not learn his lesson, Senator Susan Collins. You was dangerously wrong. Maybe you have learned your lesson. We can hope.

There are insurrectionists within our Congress. That cannot stand. We will wait to see if the Republicans have the spine to do something about these dangerous people. If not, how can Congress act in unity? Can you hope for bipartisanship when some members aim to destroy their own elected body and believe in conspiracy theories and that the 2020 election of President Joe Biden was stolen? How will that play out? The gaslighting is already beginning with blaming the Democrats for the insurrection and for not working across the aisle. Does anyone remember what Mitch McConnell did about the nomination of Merrick Garland? And he thinks Democrats should be to blame for lack of bipartisanship?:

But our research has found that one party bears more of the blame. The bipartisanship that was common in the House through the mid-1970s began to fray as racial and cultural differences came to define the increasingly polarized and competitive parties. Partisan polarization began with these shifts in the coalitional bases of the parties, but Republicans, because of their increasingly homogeneous positions on race, religious traditionalism and other cultural issues, had more incentive to move right than Democrats had to move left. In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich and his allies fomented tribalism, using the House ethics process as a political weapon and uniting the GOP into a parliamentary-style opposition party. They had important and vocal allies in partisan media, starting with Rush Limbaugh and talk radio. Much the same happened a bit later in the Senate, where McConnell turned the filibuster into a weapon of mass obstruction and got his party to unite against every Obama initiative.

Today, Republicans are one of the most extreme (even radical) conservative parties in the democratic world, with no members in the House and arguably barely one in the Senate who would qualify as moderates or traditional conservatives, while Democrats look like a traditional center-left party. Though the “Squad” of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib receives much attention, a breakdown of voting records shows that the Democratic caucus is populated by more moderates than leftists. The asymmetric nature of this polarization makes bipartisanship almost impossible.

Thus we can expect more blaming, more gaslighting and likely more violence. The rancor is palpable. It will not lead to working together and it may lead to worse behavior as Congress members rightly fear for their personal safety. The days ahead will be rocky.

Listen to the words of House Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager during Trump’s first impeachment. I will end here. We were warned.

The most important day

Today is the most significant inauguration in my lifetime. The countdown has begun. By 11:00 my time President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will take over the reins of a much wounded America. The past 4 years have been a national nightmare. It has been exhausting to watch the daily and hourly tweets from an unfit, unhinged and dangerous President. He left the country in worse shape that he found it but we should have taken a cue from his own inauguration address when he used the word “carnage” to describe the country. Now we can look back on that speech and understand that Trump was actually predicting the mayhem that ended his presidency.

Presidents have to deal with all kinds of unexpected events that shape their time in office. Certainly Trump could not have predicted the death and destruction a pandemic would do to the country and the world. But we elect Presidents so they can deal with crises like the coronavirus pandemic. We expect that they will be surrounded by expertise and intelligence that will keep us safe and that they will do everything they can to prevent or stop the threat. We expect common sense.

Boy were a lot of people wrong. I was not one of them. But I could do nothing to stop this man from doing almost nothing to stop the spread of the pandemic that has taken the lives of 400,000 precious Americans. I could do nothing while the nation watched as anti-Semitic White Supremacist rioters turned Charlottesville, Virginia into a scene of death. They were armed of course. They always are. Because they can be. They intimidate. They bully. And sometimes they act with their guns to cause more death and destruction.

Let’s review one a few of the racist and hate-filled shootings during Trump’s presidency.

A Walmart in El Paso, Texas that left 23 dead and 23 injured- mostly people of color.

Gilroy Garlic festival shooting in California- perpetrated by a young white man with White Supremacy leanings. 3 died with others injured.

Virginia Beach, Virginia where a white disgruntled male shot and killed 12 people and left others injured.

Another White Supremacist shot and killed 11 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

There are others of course. Every President has faced mass shootings as only happen in America. Other Presidents have expressed sympathies and brought the country together in their remarks or their actions after the shooting. President Obama famously broke into singing Amazing Grace at the memorial for the victims of the Mother Emanuel church shooting in Charleston, S.C.

Here is a full list for your perusal.

Gun deaths have increased in the last 4 years so they are now at one of the highest in many years. According to the Gun Violence Archive.In 2020, 43, 465 Americans died from gun violence.

In the last 4 years we have also seen an increase in heavily armed citizens at our state capitols and on our streets strutting around with openly held loaded guns at the ready. This is #notnormal and we can’t let it be. I will hope to see a decrease in such violent intimidation of American citizens and elected leaders whose lives have been threatened over the last 4 years. When a sitting Governor Gretchen Whitmer is the victim of a plot to kidnap her and kill her, we have a serious problem. This must stop but I fear it won’t. At least we will have a new President who will call out dangerous people like those in Michigan who were thankfully arrested.

That is carnage and much of it happens on our streets and in homes a few at a time.

Yes. There has been carnage. Trump’s presidency ended with the Jan. 6th insurrection attack of the U.S. Capitol. He incited the White Supremacists, the neo Nazis, the militia groups, the dangerous crowd of his supporters who had violent intentions on their minds and in their hearts. He is and was a sore loser and a dangerous man. He left us with the national PTSD after the worst event that has happened in America in many generations.

There is hope. A new day is dawning as I write this. Last night I lit 4 candles- one each for 100,000 victims of the COVID pandemic. President elect Biden and Vice President elect Kamala Harris led a beautiful, powerful and emotional ceremony of remembrance for the victims. The country wept as we experienced a cathartic moment that was necessary. There is national PTSD about the damage done physically, emotionally and economically to our country. President Trump mishandled the pandemic so badly that he is responsible for many of the deaths. He is responsible for the deaths at the U.S. Capitol. He is responsible for the rise of domestic violence and White Supremacy in America.

Never again.

I look forward to a common sense, decent, caring, competent White House team and administration. The country needs healing. I have no illusions about getting the gun laws passed that will save lives and have been ignored for decades. But I do have hope that we will pay attention to our nation’s gun violence epidemic and at least try to do the right thing.

Welcome President Biden and Vice President Harris. A lot rests on your shoulders. May you succeed and may you bring us hope and the unity that is needed to heal us from the monster that has been serving as the President of our country for 4 hate-filled, angry, twitter-filled rants and unsettling years.

Insurrection at the Capitol

us capitol hill siege, us capitol hill siege protest, us capitol hill siege news, capitol hill building, capitol hill building protest, donald trump, joe biden, capitol Hill, DC protests
“An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. (Reuters Photo: Leah Millis)”
from
https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/us-capitol-hill-siege-explained-7136632/

I have been thinking about what happened at the Capitol yesterday. It was an attempted coup. It was insurrection. It was domestic terrorism.

For years, people in the gun violence prevention movement have been watching insurrectionists stockpile guns and ammunition. Their entire purpose has been to use their arsenals to fight against their own government. Yesterday they had their chance to do just that. Luckily D.C. has strong gun laws but several people have been arrested for carrying guns and ammunition anyway. Now I ask you to imagine what could have happened in the halls of Congress had one of these armed folks opened fire? Too scary to think about. I have watched the reports from Congress members about the terror that ensued as they hid and ran from the Trump thugs who broke into the people’s House. Congressman Jason Crow, who was in the House chamber, called his wife to say he loved her. Let that sink in.

Does this sound familiar? Remember the calls that the Parkland students made to their parents as they were locked down in their classrooms as a mass shooter was shooting their classmates before their eyes?

It’s horrifying. It leaves behind PTSD that will never go away.

If you have watched “Designated Survivor” you understand the horror of a domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Let me get back to gun extremists. A very small percentage of gun owners own a lot of guns. I can safely guess that many of these mostly white thugs were gun owners and gun extremists with a lot of guns perhaps left at home, in a car or maybe concealed? That has been mentioned as a possibility at yesterday’s attack. Let’s look at the American gun phenomenon and stockpiling guns. From this article in the Guardian:


But America’s gun super-owners, have amassed huge collections. Just 3% of American adults own a collective 133m firearms – half of America’s total gun stock. These owners have collections that range from eight to 140 guns, the 2015 study found. Their average collection: 17 guns each.
After the Las Vegas shooting, officials said the killer had 23 guns in his hotel room, and another 19 at home. Some Americans asked, shocked, why one person purchasing so many guns had not set off any red flags.
AdvertisementPart of the answer is that owning more than 40 guns is actually fairly common in the United States: there are an estimated 7.7 million super-owners, which might make it difficult to flag a mass shooter building an arsenal from enthusiastic collectors and gun enthusiasts piling up different kinds of guns for hunting different kinds of game, a selection of handguns for self-defense, and various accessories for the popular, customisable military-style rifles that enthusiasts have compared to lethal Lego sets for grown men.
“Why do you need more than one pair of shoes? The truth is, you don’t, but do you want more than one pair of shoes? If you’re going hiking, you don’t want to use that one pair of high heels,” Philip van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, explained last year.
Super-owners were less diverse than gun owners overall, with super-owners more likely to be male, less likely to be black or Hispanic, and more likely to own a gun for protection, researchers said.

Well, Mr. Van Cleave, no one needs so many guns that they can overwhelm an entire legislature, or Congress, or gathering of people. No one.

We are seeing the result of weak gun laws and the pandering of our lawmakers to the monied and powerful corporate gun lobby and far right extremists. We are seeing the result of pandering to the far right by Trump and the Republicans. It’s a vicious circle. The “base” believes the lies that Trump tells and they repeat it and then the Republicans are afraid of the base for repeating Trump’s lies.

It happened before our very eyes yesterday.

The second amendment extremists think the amendment is all about them being able to attack their own government or to protect themselves from a tyrannical leader. Those of us on the other side believe that common sense gun laws are necessary to protect all of us from insurrection as well as “ordinary” gun violence. With Joe Biden as President and a Senate now controlled by Democrats, there is hope that the changes supported by the majority will actually be passed and make us all safer.
What happened yesterday was #notnormal.

We witnessed an attempted coup on the United States of America fomented by an unhinged and dangerous President. Had the insurrectionists brought and/or used their guns, we would be having a different discussion today.

There was a lot of violent and racist symbolism displayed yesterday. The Jim Crow era is alive. One photo showing a man carrying a Confederate flag in the Capitol Statuary Hall is frightening, to say the least. And then there is the yellow Gadsden flag, symbolizing all kinds of things but of late, it is seen often at pro gun rallies and the words, “Don’t Tread On Me” have a clear meaning about not taking away guns or gun rights:

The Gadsden flag has appeared at other political protests, too, such as those opposing restrictions on gun ownership and objecting to rules imposed in 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Most recently the flag has been flown and displayed at some post-election protests, including events where demonstrators called for officials to stop counting votes – and both inside and outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., during the counting of the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

Because of its creator’s history and because it is commonly flown alongside “Trump 2020” flags, the Confederate battle flag and other white-supremacist flags, some may now see the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hate – or even racism. If so, its original meaning is then forever lost, but one theme remains.

At its core, the flag is a simple warning – but to whom, and from whom, has clearly changed. Gone is the original intent to unite the states to fight an outside oppressor. Instead, for those who fly it today, the government is the oppressor.

#Enough We don’t need to be intimidated by the flags of insurrectionists. Of course they also carry American flags as if they are the only true patriots. They are not. They are the opposite of patriots. They are seditionists. They are displaying racist symbols. We get it.

We’ve all had enough of the Republicans aiding and abetting a madman and his conspiracy theories and paranoia. And listening to some ( Lindsey Graham, William Barr, John Danforth) try to explain themselves today to make try to restore their reputations is just sad and despicable. It’s too late. We’re sick of them all. They have failed us and they let this happen. Their regrets are not enough. They made a terrible and almost fatal mistake. We hold them accountable.

These folks could have stopped the man behind the attack long ago but they made their choice. They could have looked more carefully at supporting people with blind ambition and vetted them more carefully. The time to support someone just because they are conservative or liberal is over. Those who quietly supported Trump even though it was sickeningly obvious that he was evil and sick and totally unfit for the job are now responsible for the monster they allowed and created. They gave themselves to a man who will be written about for years to come as one of the most evil “leaders” ever to occupy the White House. It’s on them.

We are better than this. And we are going to make sure questions are answered and that extremist groups are no longer going to have the support of an elected President or Congressional leaders. There should be arrests. There should be and will be consequences. We are tired of conspiracy theories and lies. We want the truth. We want the facts. We want lawmakers who don’t blindly follow a madman like they are cult members just so they can appoint conservative judges and give their rich friends tax breaks. We want a public that is not so angry they are ready to destroy their own democracy because a maniac sitting in the White House and his nutty personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani told them to use violence to get their way.

They have some explaining to do. We are waiting.

An unhappy New Year in Minnesota

Image from Duluth News Tribune

I am really tired of seeing the stock photos of police car flashing lights and crime scene tape on the front page of my local paper. Just in the last few weeks, Minnesotans and the Northland area have been involved in a long list deadly and/or dangerous shooting incidents. Sadly I can make a list of these incidents as if they were a shopping list or a “to-do” list. And the thing is, those affected are real people and real families suffering from the after affects of senseless shooting incidents. Neighborhoods are traumatized by the sound of gunfire.Only in America is this the case. The New Year will not be a happy one for many.

Here is just some of the incidents from the last few weeks in Minnesota and the Northland:

A domestic shooting in the Bemidji area left one person dead and 2 arrested.

A 16 year old boy was shot and killed allegedly in an incident of teens sitting in a truck while drinking alcohol

A person was shot and gravely injured in downtown Duluth

Minneapolis police shot and killed an alleged felony at a gas station after the victim supposedly fired his gun

A gun “accidentally” discharged in a Superior Kwik Trip store

A hand grenade was found in the recycling center in Duluth

In St. Paul a 2 year old died from gunshot injuries inside of a home where adults were present.

A 17 year old is dead from gunshot injuries sustained in a North Minneapolis shooting

And these were the headlines that littered the media sources in Minnesota and the Northland. Have we become numb to the fact that guns are creating a terrible public health epidemic in our country? Media all over the country report these incidents daily. It’s a fact of life in America.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The devastation of gun violence in our communities is endemic. It’s traumatizing. It’s violent. It is painful and leaves too many families grieving over avoidable deaths and injuries.

The Gun Violence Archive reports shooting incidents in real time. As of today, the last day of 2020, 43,322 Americans have lost their lives to bullets. Let that sink in.

This is not normal. It should be alarming to all who care about their fellow Americans. The fact that our state legislators and Congress have not addressed this scourge head-on is not only an embarrassment, it is an American tragedy. This is simply not happening in other civilized countries not at war.

There are so many things that can be done about this national epidemic. There is no vaccine for it as there is now for COVID. But there are common sense solutions that have been tragically avoided. The majority of Americans know there are solutions and support the solutions. But some of our elected officials either ignore it or purposely do nothing. We don’t have good answers as to why they are doing this other than decades of allowing it. Pressure from the paper tiger called the NRA has a lot to do with it. Big money influences people in office. Fear of public sentiment has for decades shaped the conversation even when it’s a very small number of people who hold the views that have kept solutions from happening.

Unfortunately in a year when gun purchases went up and fear over whatever people have feared in the age of COVID, general support for gun laws that could make a difference is down. Overall support still remains strong for specific individual gun laws ;ike universal background checks.

We have work to do. If people better understood how gun violence is affecting communities and the risks of guns in homes and in public, minds can be changed.

2020 was the annus horribilis for many reasons. COVID 19 has ravaged our country leaving 341,000 dead. It is common knowledge that we could have saved some of these lives had we acted sooner and better. By we, I mean the current administration. But we didn’t. We didn’t act soon enough for the victims of gun violence either.

We have elected a new President, Joe Biden, whose support for common sense gun safety reform is well known. He won anyway. The current occupant of the White House, if you can call him that, took on the gun extremist mantra and used it even though we all know he does not genuinely hold those beliefs. He panered to the far right. It’s a sham. It’s the Wizard of Oz fooling us into thinking there is nothing we can do.

We have no illusions that 2021 will lead to immediate solutions for the scourge of COVID 19. It will take most of the year to get us all vaccinated and back to normal. It will also take some backbone to stand up to those who refuse to do anything about the gun violence public health epidemic. Both are huge problems that don’t have easy solutions. But the solutions are there if we make up our common minds that we intend to do something about it.

The national discussion will change. Change will happen, albeit slowly. Lives can be saved. Families and communities don’t have to live with gun violence as an everyday occurrence.

There is hope in spite of incredible grief and trauma. We are all experiencing a form of PTSD since the pandemic hit the world early this year. Nothing is the same. Nothing will ever be the same. But a new President is coming with a team of people who actually are qualified for the positions they will hold. Expertise and science is back. The truth is back. The public will not be fooled by those with evil and malignant intentions.

I hope you will have a very small celebration and stay safe. Don’t shoot guns into the air, by the way. What goes up must come down. I have posted before about my friend Joe Jaskolka, whose life changed forever in 1999 after a New Year’s Eve celebration when a stupid gun owner shot a bullet into the air that landed in the brain of an innocent young boy. His life and his family’s life was changed forever on that New Year’s Eve. I leave you with this message about the danger of bullets and guns.

Be safe. Stay safe. Don’t bring guns to parties. Don’t fire a gun into the air. Don’t leave your guns out for kids and teens to find. Don’t drink and shoot. Don’t use a gun in an angry dispute. Don’t leave your guns unlocked and loaded. Store them safely. Don’t use a gun to take your own life. Save lives. Have some common sense.

Happy New Year.