Armadillos and the targets of bullets

armadillo

I’ll get to the Armadillo in a minute. But first….

A man walking a hiking trail in Arizona was hit by a bullet from somewhere in the distance. The bullet is still lodged in one of his wounded legs and now he is wondering if the bullet came from a nearby shooting range. From the article:

Sawyer said he was hiking the Max Delta Loop Trail around 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, he didn’t immediately realize he was shot.

“I was like I don’t know what’s wrong; something’s wrong with my legs,” said Sawyer.

The bullet went all the way through his right leg and lodged in his left leg. He manages to make his way down the mountain and to a ranger station where he called for help.

There are two gun ranges north of the trail at the base of South Mountain. One belongs to the Phoenix Police Academy; the other is a private gun club called the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club.

Investigators say no one was shooting at the Police Academy at the time.

According to a police report, detectives believe the bullet that hit Sawyer came from the gun club, as does Sawyer’s attorney Garvey Biggers.

“We know for a fact there were three competitions going on, all ages were shooting that day, from children to adults… so if you have an inexperienced shooter, you could easily lose control of your weapon,” said attorney Garvey Biggers.

Sawyer’s legal team says the range is exactly 540 meters from where Sawyer says he was on the trail.

Is it possible for a bullet to travel 540 meters?

“Yes, no doubt about it,” said Biggers.

Of course, the owners of the gun range are disputing the hiker’s story. They wouldn’t want to be held responsible for flying bullets that travel far enough to hit innocent hikers on walking trails.

In my neck of the woods, we often hear gun fire at our cabin and at the cabins of good friends. There are more than a few shooting ranges in our area. People love to shoot their guns at targets or practice their shooting skills before hunting season or just for sport. And they are mostly safe. But guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill. Bullets travel far and often stop when they hit an innocent person at a distance. There need to be very strict regulations and safety practices for those who shoot guns at shooting ranges or those who choose to fire off their guns for fun on private property.

Remember this one? Florida law comes down on the side of allowing gun owners to shoot off their guns in residential neighborhoods close to families and children. Where is common sense? From the article:

That changed in 2011 when Gov. Rick Scott signed a measure putting teeth into the state restriction. Now local officials could be fined, removed from office and held responsible for their own legal bills if they’re sued over local gun ordinances.

In January, Volusia County municipal managers began communicating by email about the issue of the firing of guns on private property. Ponce Inlet Town Manager Jeaneen Witt wrote in a Jan. 10 email to South Daytona City Manager Joe Yarbrough that a resident in her city was setting up a shooting range on his property. Witt expressed her concern over the powerlessness of local governments to control the use of firearms and suggested lobbying legislators to set a criteria such as lot sizes and buffers.

This is the gun lobby at work “protecting” us all and it’s state legislators failure to stand up to the gun lobby.

Where is the right of people to feel safe in their neighborhoods from potential flying bullets?

It happens. This Kentucky woman was lucky she didn’t get hit by a stray bullet while using the bathroom:

A Lexington woman says a neighbor target practicing in his yard shot a bullet into her home over the weekend.

Fairshinda McLaughlin said she and her family were outside enjoying the spring weather at their home on Lexington’s outskirts Sunday afternoon when they heard a loud noise.

“I thought it was a bomb. I thought a propane tank or something exploded, It was that loud,” she said.

That sound was a stray bullet crashing through her bathroom window.

McLaughlin called the police, and officers discovered the source of the bullet – a neighbor about a mile away firing at targets in his yard.

McLaughlin said she was just about to go use that bathroom.

Seriously folks. Can we talk about this dangerous culture of anything goes with guns anywhere? I could provide many more such inane and dangerous examples.

And then, of course, this one went around on social media because it was so stupid and ridiculous:

A Georgia woman was accidentally shot by her son-in-law on Sunday while he was attempting to shoot an armadillo.

According to WALB, 54-year-old Larry McElroy was outside when he fired his 9 mm pistol at the armadillo. The bullet killed the animal and ricocheted off of its shell.

The bullet then struck a nearby fence, went through the back door of his mother-in-law’s home, through the recliner she was sitting in and struck her in the back.

Fortunately for all, she was not badly hurt. Bullets don’t know where to stop. Can we talk about gun safety reform?

Recently in Vermont, a 6 year old boy was doing some target shooting with his family when he was accidentally shot:

The boy, his father and two other children were taking turns shooting at a target with a .22 caliber pistol, under the supervision of the father.

While the boy was shooting, the handgun failed to discharge. The child subsequently lowered the still-loaded firearm, but before his father could intervene, the gun discharged. The bullet hit the boy in the lower leg, White said.

Some of my critics would tell me that it’s OK for 6 year olds to be out shooting at targets. I would argue otherwise. Supervised or not, 6 year olds don’t seem old enough to handle the responsibility of holding a deadly weapon. Guns and kids just don’t go together well. Numerous incidents of “accidental” shootings by children are reported every day in media sources. I write about them. I also write about how these can be avoided.

The first question I want to ask is if adults really think children can handle guns? The second question I would ask is why we want young children near guns? The third question I would ask is why children aren’t participating in the activities more suitable to young children like just playing, riding bikes, going to the playground, playing soccer or softball or swimming, etc.?

And one important question to ask is if there are guns in the homes where your children play and hang-out? The Brady Center’s ASK campaign is encouraging parents to ask this very important question. It’s not a frivolous question nor should it be controversial. Here’s why. Yesterday charges were filed against an Idaho couple who left unsecured loaded guns around in their home which resulted in one child shooting and killing a friend:

Prosecutors are charging Rusty and Ashlee Lish with one count each of misdemeanor injury to a child for the accidental shooting death of Noelle Shawver that happened nine months ago.

Shawver died on July 30th after being accidentally shot in the chest by another five year old at Lish’s Chubbuck home.

According to police reports Noelle Shawver was playing with another 5-year-old in the master bedroom of the Lish’s Chubbuck home.

Court records say people in the home heard the gun go off and when they went into the room, they found Shawver with gunshot wound to the chest.

Shawver was taken to Portneuf Medical Center where she died from the wound.

Investigators say inside the master bedroom they found the .22 caliber rifle involved in the shooting, a loaded 12 gauge shotgun with a round in the chamber, a loaded 7 millimeter rifle and a loaded Glock handgun, all unsecured and within reach of the children. (…)

“Even though the adults weren’t actors they provided the setting that allowed this young boy to go in and point the gun and pull the trigger,” said Herzog.

According to police reports multiple officers at the scene located several loaded and unsecured guns in the master bedroom area of the home, where Shawver and the other child were playing.

“It’s a horrible tragedy,” says Herzog.

Police say of the four guns found in the room the children were playing all were within reach, and no locks or other security measures were located on any of the weapons. Herzog says he hopes this case brings awareness to gun safety.

“The Lish’s are going to be in a position where hopefully they can do some good and increase public awareness about firearms in the home and overall the community can get some benefit from it,” said Herzog.

Will these parents get involved in public awareness about the risks of loaded, unsecured guns in homes? We can only hope. They are poster parents for the reason parents ought to use common sense and ask about guns in other parents’ homes. No one ever believes something like this can happen. But happen it does- too frequently.

We need to have a serious national discussion about the public health and safety problems presented by the over 300 million guns owned by Americans. In no other country is this a problem. Why are we not having the discussion? One answer is pretty clear. The corporate gun lobby doesn’t want that discussion because if the risks of guns in homes is revealed and discussed, perhaps parents will think twice about buying guns for whatever reason they do. Yes, some people believe they need guns for self protection. They must believe the horror stories of home invasions, the need for guns to protect themselves from national disasters, from some invisible enemy or whatever the gun lobby is telling them.

The NRA’s own Wayne LaPierre has been busy warning Americans about all of the dangers out there that should remind people they must have guns to defend themselves. And he’s not afraid to mention the beheadings and murders committed by terrorists, or other such awful things that could actually befall us if we don’t have our guns for protection. See it for yourself below in his words at the 2015 CPAC conference:

I wonder if the parents ( above) now charged with recklessness and negligence with their guns believed that the nightmare the gun lobby warned them about was actually one that happened because of their own guns not because of something for which they thought they needed those guns? I wonder if that father who allowed his 6 year old to shoot at targets because, well because……. thought his own gun would injure his own child instead of some invisible enemy lurking dangerously outside of his home.

Aren’t we better than this? We need this discussion about the risks of guns. It is beginning in spite of gun lobby efforts to stop it. Here’s a great article by Harvard public health researcher David Hemenway about the public health risks of guns:

So I decided to determine objectively, through polling, whether there was scientific consensus on firearms. What I found won’t please the National Rifle Association. (…)

I also found widespread confidence that a gun in the home increases the risk that a woman living in the home will be a victim of homicide (72 percent agree, 11 percent disagree) and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be (64 percent) rather than a safer place (5 percent). There is consensus that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime (73 percent vs. 8 percent) and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates (62 percent vs. 9 percent). Finally, there is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide (71 percent vs. 12 percent).

Of course, it’s possible to find researchers who side with the NRA in believing that guns make our society safer, rather than more dangerous. As I’ve shown, however, they’re in the minority.

Scientific consensus isn’t always right, but it’s our best guide to understanding the world. Can reporters please stop pretending that scientists, like politicians, are evenly divided on guns? We’re not.

OK. The evidence from researchers and professionals in many fields agree. Guns in the home are a risk to those in the home. Duh. There is evidence. What are we doing about it? So far, ignoring it but it can’t be ignored for much longer. It’s time for a change in the conversation that can lead to a change in both policy and our nation’s fascination with guns.

The irony of the gun lobby “logic”

irony_megaphone_137602Oh the irony. It is playing out every day. What the gun lobby says about more guns making us safer is plainly not happening. Sure, there are the occasional incidents of a law abiding gun owner using a gun for legitimate self defense. Those on my side are not arguing that that is not the case. We are arguing that more often than not, a gun is used with bad intent to harm others and a gun in many situations emboldens the person with the gun and escalates a situation. In addition, guns are not needed in many volatile situations to change the outcome.

Yesterday a student brought a gun to a school in a Seattle suburb and fired off a few rounds. The boy was stopped by an unarmed teacher who tackled him before he could do anyone, including himself, harm. From the article:

A 16-year-old boy who fired two gunshots Monday inside a Washington state high school, hitting no one before a teacher tackled him, told detectives he never intended to hurt any students, a police spokesman said.

Three other staff members at North Thurston High School in Lacey, about 60 miles southwest of Seattle, quickly helped subdue the teen.

The boy told detectives “there were some issues in personal relationships,” Lacey police Cmdr. Jim Mack told The Olympian newspaper. Asked if the shooting could have been an attempt at “suicide by cop,” Mack said, “It definitely could have been.”

How would a teacher with a gun have changed this situation? Would the teacher have had a gun holstered on their person as some suggest should be the case? Would a teacher whose gun was stored somewhere in the school not near where the incident occurred have had the time, training or inclination ( given the fear and with adrenalin surging) to get to a gun? And then what? Would a teacher have shot this student? This appears to be a student with some problems who now will hopefully get some help. His life was changed by the incident. Other students lives have changed as well. But no one is dead. And a gun was not needed to stop the student with a gun.

By the way, where did this young student get his gun? Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.

Others lives have been changed by bullets. This Texas man shot his own wife believing her to be a burglar in his home. This, by the way, is not the first of similar types of shootings. From the article:

According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the man was sleeping when he woke up to the sound of someone “scuffling” downstairs.

Deputies said he saw the front door open so he grabbed his gun thinking a burglar had broken in.

But when he fired, his target was his wife.

So far no charges have been filed. And that brings me to other such “accidental” shootings where no charges occurred or were rejected after a “law abiding” gun owner mistakenly shot someone. Sure, people have gun rights. Do they have rights to be irresponsible with their guns and then not be held responsible? This incident also highlights the irony of the “logic” that having a loaded gun around the home for self defense too often results in the injury or death of someone living in the home.

And what is the “logic” to people like this guy, ostensibly a “law abiding” gun owner, holding a neighborhood hostage bringing out a SWAT team to disarm the situation?:

Around 8:30 a.m. Monday, police were called out to 58 Randall Road after a gas worker who attempted to shut off gas service was threatened with a gun.

Several SWAT teams, a bomb squad and negotiators were called out to help. More than 20 shots were reportedly fired from inside the house toward officers and SWAT vehicles, police said.

Surrounding houses were asked to evacuate the area. Officials say Parker was believed to be armed with a high-powered rifle and possibly explosive devices.

All because of an angry guy with a gun- or from the sounds of it, someone who should not have had a gun, threatening law enforcement and a city worker with his loaded gun. It’s harder to carry out threats like this with some other kind of weapon or object. But when so many people succumb to the fear and paranoia promoted by the gun lobby, people like this use their guns with bad intent rather than in self defense. We all know how things can go terribly wrong with one armed citizen making threats. This is the America we have. Is this the America we deserve?

Speaking of the armed America we have and holding gun owners responsible when something goes wrong, Amanda Gailey of Nebraskans Against Gun Violence, has written an article wondering about why negligence with guns is rarely prosecuted or found to be legal negligence:

Every year many gun owners, like Wilson, unintentionally cause death and injury yet face no legal consequences. In criminal and civil courts, the legal system often fails to hold negligent gun owners accountable for such harm.Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit effort that combs through more than a thousand media sources to collect information about gun violence, has verified more than 1,500 accidental shooting incidents in 2014. Data on the legal outcomes of these shootings is sketchy, but many cases of unprosecuted unintentional shootings are available—dozens from the first two months of 2014 alone remain unprosecuted.

The past decade has seen legal measures to prevent gun negligence systematically dismantled. The 2005 Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act statutorily inoculated gun manufacturers and dealers from most claims of negligence in gun deaths. This is even more dangerous than it may first sound. Many people unfamiliar with guns assume that they are designed with simple safeguards against unintentional shootings, but this is not always the case. Glock handguns, for example, have no external safety: If a round is chambered and the trigger is squeezed, the gun fires. As Aaron Walsh, a criminal defense attorney in Augusta, Georgia, put it, “With any other product in the world there would be no Glock company because they would be sued out of existence. You don’t have a safety? That can’t be right.”  (…) Yet some of these cases are appalling. A man in Washington practiced drawing a loaded handgun and unintentionally shot and killed his girlfriend’s daughter. A man in Florida twirled a handgun on his finger and killed a pregnant woman. A man in New Mexico handed a loaded rifle to his six-year-old daughter, who unintentionally shot her sister in the neck. None of these gun owners was prosecuted. The district attorney in the New Mexico case told the Farmington Times, “The father did not follow basic and universally accepted firearm safety rules” but “the problem is that the standard for criminal negligence is higher.”

Ah yes. The 2005 “Immunity Bill” that offers protections to the gun industry that no other industry enjoys. Silly me. Shoot someone by accident? No worries. Rights will protect you. A gun discharges accidentally? No problem. The immunized gun industry will protect the industry, not the shooter or the weapon.

There is much more in this article that is worth considering. Ms. Gailey, like the majority of us and actually the majority of gun owners, knows that people who are negligent with guns should be held accountable. She writes about the fact that gun owners ‘ negligence is treated differently than in other cases of negligence resulting in the death of an innocent person:

When a surviving family member does sue a negligent gun owner for the death of a child or spouse, their lawsuits often fail. Andrew McClurg, a law professor at the University of Memphis, has written extensively on what he sees as a “right to be negligent” that has arisen from the failure of courts to hold negligent gun owners accountable. McClurg sees these rulings as flagrant violations of tort principles that result from strange mistakes in reasoning about risk—judges have ruled in favor of negligent gun owners because specific chains of events were unforeseeable. (…)

Findings in other civil cases against negligent gun owners suggest that political sensibilities motivate some decisions by the court. In one case McClurg examined, a gun owner kept a loaded handgun next to a tray of change in his bedroom, which he allowed his teenage daughter to raid for spending money. Sometimes she did this with her boyfriend; eventually, the boyfriend took the gun and used it to rob and murder a man who was leaving a restaurant. The victim’s family sued the girl’s father for leaving a loaded gun lying around where he knew minors could access it. The court declined to hold him liable, saying it was “not persuaded that society is prepared to extend the duties of gun owners that far.” This reasoning was not based on principles of liability, but on what the court thought the implications would be for gun ownership in America.

Indeed, political squeamishness about defining responsible gun ownership drives our failure to hold negligent gun owners accountable. It leads to statutes that protect recklessness among manufacturers and sellers, enables legislation that encourages gun proliferation, and shackles a legal system that ends up seeming more concerned about running afoul of the firearms lobby and its adherents than in protecting the public.

We do need to change this “squeamishness” to stand up to the corporate gun lobby. They have managed to make even negligence with a gun a right. It’s time for that kind of irresponsible attitude about guns to change. But instead, in many states, we are going the other way.

The corporate gun lobby has pushed for anyone to carry guns everywhere with little to no accountability, training or permit. This, of course, will suggest to a felon that he/she, too, can just strap their gun on their waists and walk around in public with no questions asked. Because there is a move afoot to allow those who do this to do so unencumbered by the fear that law enforcement can ask if you are actually a legal gun carrier, why wouldn’t someone with bad intent do this? Here’s another Texas case to consider:

Domestic terrorist Larry McQuilliams — an anti-immigration extremist who fired a machine gun at Austin Police headquarters, a federal courthouse, and the Mexican Consulate last November, before an Austin police officer shot him down — would have been safe from police scrutiny right up until the moment be began shooting had Texas lawmakers already passed the open carry law that’s about to land on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

That’s the opinion of Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, who sat for an interview with Austin.com on Wednesday afternoon. His comments below follow a short essay published Tuesday in which Acevedo expresses dire concern about an amendment to House Bill 910 that would prevent police officers from asking people who are openly carrying handguns whether or not they’re licensed to do so. The Texas House passed that bill on Monday by a vote of 101-42, after defeating an amendment that would have allowed large cities to opt out.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. Courtesy photo.

“If [Larry] McQuilliams had a pistol… The only way we would have stopped him [if HB 910 were law] is if he had brandished that weapon in a threatening manner,” Acevedo told Austin.com. “Obviously, he went so far as to shoot up occupied buildings, actually shooting at police officers in front of the main headquarters, but had he been walking around the federal building or the Mexican Consulate with just a gun on his hip, we would have never been able to ask him anything about the gun or about whether or not he had a permit to have the gun.”

This seems like a good policy, right? I mean- why not protect terrorists and felons with guns because- rights? This is the extent to which our elected leaders are going to protect gun rights and appease the gun lobby. The irony of all of this is that when gun rights are treated this way, we are encouraging vigilantism  and an “anything goes” culture that will not end well. This, of course, is the ideology behind Stand Your Ground Laws which have already shown that upstanding “law abiding” citizens like George Zimmerman can shoot an unarmed teen because- well, just because- and get away with it.

Reasonable gun owners understand the implication of proposed laws like this one- a gun shop owner from South Carolina commenting on the proposed bill to let anyone who wants to carry a gun carry one without training or a permit. He calls it reckless in the video interview in the link. Yes, it’s reckless. Why don’t our legislators understand this? They, themselves, are reckless when they are afraid to stand up to the gun lobby. What are they thinking? Where is common sense? In the video the gun shop owner said this: “…because I believe incidents will happen through untrained and uneducated people.” Great. Whatever. Does anyone care that “incidents will happen”?

There’s a pattern here, right? You can see it. Can our leaders see it? Or are they so blinded by fear of the corporate gun lobby that they have abrogated their responsibility for public safety to the industry itself whose main interest is profits? Logical?

Occasionally the justice system does work as with this Florida case of a 3 year old who found a gun in her mother’s purse and accidentally shot the mother:

The toddler had accidentally shot Gillilan with a handgun that she’d left in her purse, Davie police said.

Now, nearly three months after the Feb. 2 incident, Gillilan is charged with culpable negligence by storing or leaving a loaded firearm within easy reach of a minor.

Toddler shot mother, police say
Toddler shot mother, police say
Gillilan, who also has a 1-year-old son, told an investigator that the shooting, which happened at a home in the 4800 block of Southwest 59th Street in Davie, was her mistake.

“I should’ve never left the gun in my purse like that! I never do!” she was quoted as saying in a police report. “I’m just glad that I was the one who got shot, and not my boys!”

Gillilan said she usually kept the small-caliber, semi-automatic handgun in the trunk of her car, but she was in the process of transferring items to a new vehicle, according to police.

In front of the children, police said, she put the registered weapon in her purse in a bedroom. (…)

Gillilan is a state-licensed security officer with a firearms license, state records show. She told police that’s why she keeps a gun.

It doesn’t appear to matter that a gun owner is licensed or serving as a security or police officer. (girl shoots sister with father’s  loaded service gun). Negligence with guns is happening every day. Without charges brought in order to encourage better gun safety practices, they will continue. With over 300 million guns in circulation or sitting around somewhere, negligence with these lethal weapons is inevitable. Just as with other consumer products, people misuse them and cause injury and death. When a drunk driver kills someone in an auto accident, there are laws intended to hold that person responsible- criminal vehicular homicide. These statutes passed in states all over America are meant as public safety laws to discourage bad behavior while driving cars, not as punishment to those who follow the rules. Legislators used a lot of common sense when passing laws like these.

Some states have Child Access Prevention laws meant to hold parents responsible when a child accesses a gun and uses it to accidentally kill him/herself or someone else. They are often not enforced because of the guilt already felt by grieving parents for a dead child. Further, the NRA has often opposed such laws, believing, as I wrote in my previous post, that their Eddie Eagle program will be enough to stop kids from gaining access to an adult’s loaded gun:

I’m not saying the Eddie Eagle program doesn’t work. I’m saying that to use a totally non-validated safety program as an excuse for opposing CAP laws is shabby at best, harmful and unsafe at worst. The real reason that unintentional gun injuries have declined over the past twenty years is because gun makers have phased in more safety engineering (e.g., floating firing pins) and states now require additional safety features such as loaded chamber indicators and minimum trigger-pull weights. But neither factor invalidates Shannon’s call for more comprehensive CAP laws. If the NRA was really serious about representing all those responsible gun owners, they would welcome laws that require guns to be locked or locked away.

So, where were we? Ah yes. We were discussing the “logic” of the gun lobby’s arguments against gun safety reform. Ironically, their opposition to common sense gun safety laws has contributed to gun negligence because of a gun culture that encourages anyone to own guns without proper training and the known risks of loaded guns in homes and public places. Denying the research and the facts is not making us safer. Loosening gun laws will not do the trick.

This is all part and parcel of the national conversation we need to hold about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. Until we face this public health and safety issue head on, without the encumbrance of the second amendment holding us hostage, we will not solve the problem. And solve it we must. Lives are at stake.

Gun rights advocates are wrong about kids and guns

children shot
From Gun Death Tally- Faces of the Dead

I had a recent exchange with a gun rights advocate on my Twitter feed about keeping kids safe from guns. It all started when I posted this article written by my friend Cliff Schecter for Daily Beast. The article is about a cartoon made by someone at the NRA attempting to get kids to like guns and believe that if only they know some safety rules, a gun will never be used irresponsibly by them or anyone around them. From the article:

Think of it as a Joe Camel for the modern age. With armor-piercing bullets.

Ostensibly, it’s part of their “Eddie The Eagle program,” which instructs kids to run away from guns left lying around because bigger people in their lives still can own a firearm. And own them they do, as well as enjoying the freedom (!) to leave them pretty much any damn place they please. And because of the NRA’s efforts in parts of the South, West, and Midwest, these edified souls can now leave them in more places where a little one can find them—because nursery schools, parks, libraries, airports, and churches just didn’t have the same loving feeling without the guns.

So after creating the situation that puts over 650 in a hospital per annum and killed 62 kids a year from 2007 to 2011, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control (do you see why the NRA suppressed funding for gun studies for so long? For the NRA, statistics are bad), what to do to stop it?

First, they created Eddie The Eagle, who I guess is supposed to be like Smokey Bear, Old Glory, and one of the few animals not yet shot by Ted Nugent all wrapped into one. But now they have him in animated form, where he and his friends sing, dance, play video games, use the phrases the kids use (“like a true fashionista, heyyyy!”) and forget to run away from a gun, but promise the next time they see one, they’ll boogie on out of the room posthaste.

Schecter goes on to point out what is pretty obvious to most- unsecured loaded guns in homes with children are a really bad idea. More from the article:

Which they won’t because—as a piece on ABC News recently detailed—even after being instructed not to touch a gun, kids (who didn’t know they were on camera) will go right for them anyway:

More than 50 teenagers participated in the samePrimeTime experiment and many, including those who had recently received warnings to stay away from guns, responded similarly, agonizing over whether to tell an adult, playing with the gun, and aiming it at one another.

Even warning and educating kids about the danger of guns can have absolutely no effect on their behavior, the ABC News investigation shows. One teenager whose friend was recently killed in a shooting didn’t even hesitate before grabbing a gun.

But hey, in the video—in an effort to show how serious he is about preventing this kind of a tragedy from occurring—Eddie’s friend Officer Wingman tells the kids in quick succession: “You guys made the right decision. It’s always the best choice to get away from a gun. Who wants pizza?”

As the photo above shows in stark reality, way too many small children have been killed by guns just in the month of March of this year. Does the gun lobby care about these mostly avoidable deaths? Does seeing the faces of the actual dead even make a dent in the thinking of those who believe we are safer with loaded guns everywhere we go? How can the man who was arguing with me on Twitter actually believe that just properly training children about guns will do the trick? He has no common sense. Another gun rights advocate chimed in on this Twitter exchange saying  that it’s no different than teaching kids not to touch matches and knives as well. As responsible adults, haven’t we learned the hard way that telling small children not to touch doesn’t work? Often it evokes the opposite response- touch whatever it is you have just admonished a child NOT to touch.

You can read the articles about how each of these children pictured above died by a firearm injury if you click on the photo on this Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gun-Death-Tally-Faces-of-the-Dead/552514904768968) page. The fact that we are now keeping track of these deaths is both a good thing and also a reflection of our gun culture. We have it all wrong. Many, if not most, of these deaths could have been prevented with some common sense and an awareness of the risks of guns in the home.

David Waldman who is keeping track of gun deaths and injuries for Daily Kos in a blog called GunFail, has also published a map of unintentional shootings of children 18 and under in 2014. Stunning. Click on the circle on the map for the article. No other civilized country not at war publishes statistics like this. We are better than this.

The answer is to keep dangerous things away from children in the first place. Should we teach young kids how to use matches responsibly? Should we teach our young kids how to cut apples with a sharp knife?

They’ve got it wrong. Look at the photo. Can we train 3 year olds to use guns responsibly? Of course not. From the linked article:

A 3-year-old boy picked up an unattended gun inside a home and it went off, shooting a 1-year-old boy in the face and killing him Sunday afternoon, police said.

The 1-year-old was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Image source: WEWS-TV

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said investigators are trying to determine where the gun came from.

Full details about the shooting on the city’s east side weren’t released, but Williams said at least one adult was home when it happened.

“It’s a sad day for Cleveland,” he told reporters outside the home. “This fascination that we have with handguns, not just in this city but in this country, has to stop. This is a senseless loss of life … and it’s directly related to guns. We need to really take a hard look at the things that we’re doing out there on the state, local, and the national level to get some of these guns out of our communities. Because nothing good ever happens.”

“…Because nothing good ever happens.” We are better than this.

We can’t even train 9 year olds to shoot Uzis correctly. Go figure:

The new report, released by the Mohave County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday, sheds some new light on Vacca’s death. Among other things, it reveals that the girl said immediately after firing the gun that it was too powerful for her and had hurt her, something that delayed her family from immediately realizing that Vacca had been shot.

Duh! Come on. What adult in their right mind thinks a 9 year old should be able to handle an Uzi? It’s that fascination with guns that is leading to unintentional and sometimes intentional deaths. 8 children a day die from gunshot injuries in homicides, suicides and “accidental “shootings and many more are injured. That is simply not OK and it’s wrong. It’s wrong for so many children to die or become victims of gunshot injuries every day in a country that is supposed to be “exceptional.”

What is wrong with the “responsible” adults here? And can we talk about the dangers of domestic disputes involving loaded guns? Women and children and sometimes entire families are wiped out in just seconds by an angry person with a loaded gun. Guns are not making us safer.

The adults in the corporate gun lobby are busy trying to convince us all that loaded guns should be a “normal” part of our lives. “Law abiding” gun owners should be allowed to carry their guns in places where families gather to play, eat, learn and work. No problem, right? And also to carry these guns openly so we can all get used to armed people walking around on our streets and eating in restaurants where we all assume we will be safe. And so our legislators got deceived and believed them. Did legislators understand that “law abiding” gun owners like this one would threaten coaches and parents at a youth softball game when his granddaughter didn’t get to play?:

Caller: “We’ve got a parent that just pulled a gun at a softball game! He’s leaving the Chandler softball field right now!”

That frantic 911 call came just minutes after a girls’ little league softball game ended in Chandler Tuesday.

Video: Man accused of pointing gun at people during little league softball game

When one Davenport player didn’t get put in during a game in Chandler, police said her grandfather wasn’t happy.

He went to his car, got his gun, came back and pointed it at the children, parents and the coach. Good grief. This could have ended very badly. Was this man held responsible for his actions or did he get off because- because- because- rights? From the article:

“This is not behavior that’s acceptable to any of us — Davenport, or Chandler, or any of the softball leagues in Lincoln County,” Hulsey said. “This is far, far away from what we teach our girls.”

Gibbs was arrested and is facing charges of pointing a firearm and disturbing the peace, but police said he could be facing even more charges in the future.

“This is not behavior that’s acceptable to any of us…” What do we want to teach our children about guns? What was learned at the softball game? That guns solve problems? That a coach should be shot over not playing a child in a game? That’s it’s OK for a man to point a loaded gun around at a park? That children should model adults and when they get old enough to carry a gun, they, too, can bring a loaded gun to a softball game and threaten a bunch of people with it? Seriously. Where is common sense?

Our children are at risk. They are at risk, not mostly from strangers or criminals out to kill them. They are risk from their own families with guns. Take this 8 year Georgia boy, now tragically and avoidably dead at the hands of his own father because he was an angry man with a gun.

This is a scenario played out on a regular basis all over America. And what do we do? We run away from any sensible discussion or solutions. Why? Because… because…because.- rights.

Right. We are better than this. The gun rights extremists are wrong. Guns are a risk in homes and in public places where they are now carried. And what we are getting is dead children. Also dead adults. This does not seem like the kind of communities we want for our children and families. Let’s get to work to change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. We can change things if we have the common will to do so and if our fascination with guns also includes a fascination with protecting innocent victims from injuries and deaths inflicted by the guns.

UPDATE:

I found this article written by a Harvard student for the Washington Post which confirms what I have written in my post about the gun lobby’s position regarding gun safety and children:

Because of this difficulty, each time the NRA has been confronted with the child-death problem, it has adopted what might be called a “Look—what’s that over there?” strategy. The organization tries to paint media coverage of the deaths as the true problem; when a 9-year old killed her shooting range instructor with an Uzi, the NRA called the outcry “exploitative” and a “trick” by “anti-gun advocates in the media.” Alternatively, spokespeople point to other ways children die, and other kinds of gun deaths, to downplay the seriousness of the issue. The NRA has a habit of suddenly become very interested in bicycle accident statistics when the issue is raised, and Gun Owners of America insists that children are “more likely to die by choking on their dinner,” as if choking deaths is at all pertinent to gun deaths. Occasionally, they go as far as Tennessee State Rep. Glen Casada, who when speaking in support of the state’s new NRA-promotedguns-in parks billcalled these deaths “acts of God,” about which nothing could possibly be done.

Of course, we know one thing that could be done: We could admit that there are too many guns and get serious about reducing their number. These child-deaths are a uniquely American problem; in other countries, simply accepting such an endless string of accidental killings would be unthinkable. And as the child accident statistics have poured in, so have those on the efficacy of gun control: It’s becoming harder and harder to deny that more guns equals more violence. We also know that massive restrictions can have major positive effects. The word “Australia” is verboten among the gun rights crowd now that Australia has succeeded in cutting its firearm death rate by 59 percent after passing sweeping prohibitions on gun ownership. In fact, the Australian case offers such rock solid evidence of the life-saving potential of gun control that the pro-gun side has struggled to offer any response, except to yelp, “But you’re talking about confiscation!” (To which one might reply: “And?”) So there is a way to avoid having our preschools look like a Peckinpah film. It just involves some tough measures. (…) Since they strongly oppose both ownership restrictions and parent accountability, one might expect the NRA to emphasize safety. Yet the prevailing attitude appears to be that even talk of basic responsible ownership is for wusses and Constitution-haters. The NRA has waged all-out war against pediatricians and the CDC for recommending gun safety to parents, lobbying hard for laws to prohibit doctors from even discussing firearms risks with families. They’ve also stood staunchly against any effort to require that guns be kept safely stored out of the reach of children. The massive Nashville conference schedule contains endless presentations on the necessity of an armed citizenry, but apparently not a single event on safety or training. There are all kinds of rousing flourishes about “our role as an Armed American Citizen in the future challenges to our nation,” and how one’s weapon must always be at the ready because “danger can lurk around any given corner.” There are even sessions to discuss new strategies for skirting or dismantling the measly remaining gun control laws.

(…) The tradeoffs between safety and accessibility put the NRA in a bind. Either it must acknowledge that these deaths will be a logical consequence of its policies, or it must retreat from its absolutist position on regulation. Neither seems likely, which is why the organization will spend its time in Nashville listening to Nugent and studying military history, carefully avoiding the one conversation it is desperate not to have.

As I say often, this is the national conversation we must have about the role of guns and gun violence in America.

Something smells in the state of the gun extremists

state_bird_144288I think it’s a great idea for a state to have an official state gun, don’t you? I mean, why not let the people of your state know that some things are to be honored and revered as special. In Minnesota the state bird is a Loon. That’s because the Loon is beloved here. The sound of Loon calls are on almost every one of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota. There’s nothing like that sound in the middle of a summer night while staying at our cabin in the summer time. The open windows let in the warm ( or cool) night time air and also the sounds of nature.

I suppose one could love the sound of gunfire in the middle of the night, too. In Tennessee, perhaps that is what they had in mind when the gun lobby bought and paid for legislators proposed a state gun- a .50 caliber gun that can shoot a bullet that travels for a mile before hitting its’ target. The message is clear, right? Don’t mess with us here in Tennessee. We have this state gun. If we hear noises in the middle of the night, watch out.

The bill may be on hold for a while. Maybe Tennesseans don’t want to be on record with the state gun thing. They are on record for a whole lot of other gun bills, however that smell of the corporate gun lobby influence.

This is all part and parcel of our nation’s gun culture. Worship of guns is a religion to some. Some of our nation’s lawmakers are making a statement about their love affair with guns by displaying assault rifles in their Capitol officers. From the article:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) last week tweeted a picture of himself and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the leader of the House’s Benghazi investigation, holding an AR-15 in a House office building.

The photo raised eyebrows, because Washington is home to some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, including a ban on the AR-15.

But members of Congress are exempted from rules that otherwise prohibit people from having assault weapons, including AR-15s, Capitol Police said.

The District’s gun laws “specifically provide that members of Congress may maintain firearms within the confines of their office and they and any employee or agent of any member of Congress may transport within the Capitol Grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider told The Hill.

Right then. No one else can carry guns in the Capitol. They have made sure to protect themselves from someone with bad intent. The rest of us, not so much. In addition the citizens of Washington D.C. are constantly under assault from those who want to loosen gun laws everywhere except where they do their work:

“For years, the District of Columbia has infringed on its residents’ Second Amendment rights and rendered them vulnerable to criminals who could care less what the gun laws are,” the Florida Republican said in a statement. “This legislation will finally allow D.C.’s law-abiding residents and visitors access to firearms for sporting or lawful defense of themselves and their homes, businesses and families.”

Mr. Rubio’s “Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015” would make it easier for D.C. residents to purchase firearms and carry them in public by gutting the city’s gun laws and blocking the D.C. Council from enacting gun control measures. Among its changes, it would eliminate D.C. gun registration requirements, overturn the city’s ban on semi-automatic firearms and create a “shall issue” permitting system for concealed carry licenses.

Something smells of pandering. Rubio wants visitors and dignitaries visiting our nation’s Capitol to be surrounded by gun carrying folks except when they get to the Capitol building. What could possibly go wrong? Check the Ohh Shoot blog for how often “law abiding” citizens make stupid and dangerous mistakes with their guns.

Here’s another article about the Capitol AR-15 display. So what is the message here? Sure it’s legal. And maybe the paper work was all done correctly. But here’s the thing. Why does a sitting US Congress member need to display an AR-15 in his office? Keep it at home. What we need is some common sense. This open display of a gun in the office of a US Congress member is unnecessary and inane. In the face of so many gun deaths and injuries, how does this even happen? What are people thinking? I guess it’s hard to have a clear head when you are carrying the smelly garbage of the gun lobby in order to curry favor. smelly

The gun rights extremists make a big stink about their rights and in the process, leave the rest of us less safe. We smell a rat in Texas and so does the head of the Texas police when he says this about a bill moving through the legislature:

He and Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, were behind the amendment that basically says an officer cannot ask to see a person’s handgun license simply because they are openly carrying a gun.

“The police officers, just like if you’re driving a car, need some reasonable suspicion of a crime or reasonable suspicion that the person is unlicensed,” said Rinaldi.

Kent Morrison carries a concealed handgun on a regular basis and agrees with the lawmakers.

“Why should [licensed gun owners] be stopped and questioned while they’re doing something totally legal?” asked Morrison.

But the largest police association in Texas, which has supported open carry, disagrees with the amendment.

“It’s disturbing,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, “because it’s definitely aimed at law enforcement.”

He believes it takes away the tools an officer has to do their job.

Why shouldn’t licensed gun owners be stopped and questioned while carrying loaded guns openly around in public? What if the gun carrier is a felon with bad intent? What if the gun carrier is a domestic abuser on his way to shoot his partner? What if the gun carrier is an adjudicated mentally ill person on the way to shoot up a classroom of first graders? Gun rights extremists hide behind the second amendment to loosen our gun laws so that soon enough virtually anyone who wants to own and carry guns around will do so unchecked- unhindered by any laws. This is not the kind of communities the majority of us want. But this is pushed on us by the corporate gun lobby whose primary interest is in driving up profits while gun deaths are also going up.

Speaking of licensed gun owners, or not, as in the case of the new Kansas law to allow people to carry guns with no license or training, check out the poll showing Kansans with common sense. Of course we don’t want people walking around with loaded guns ho have not undergone training or background checks. THE GUN LOBBY AND THEIR BOUGHT AND PAID FOR POLITICIANS ARE WAY OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE PUBLIC. Something doesn’t smell right. 

It’s as if we have lost our sense of what’s right and wrong. We have lost our ability to think clearly about public safety and what’s best for the citizens of our community. We have lost our moral compass when it comes to guns. Nothing seems to matter or make any common sense when it comes to the agenda of the gun lobby.

We will continue along this vein apparently until more tragedies occur. Until the children of some of our lawmakers use a gun in an “accidental” shooting; until the child of a lawmaker uses a gun for a suicide; until a lawmaker actually uses a gun to commit a homicide; until the good friend or a family member of a lawmaker is shot in a senseless gun death; until more small children are shot while doing what children are supposed to do- be in their classrooms learning.

There is no evidence that more guns have made us safer. In fact as more and more facts and research get released, we are seeing the opposite. We have seen the opposite for a long time but the gun lobby has stifled research by our government in to the causes and effects of gun violence. Just as the government in the form of the CDC studies other issues concerning public health for the common good of the citizens, as is the job of the government, they should also study gun violence. Physician groups are getting fed up with this lack of research into one of our nation’s dangerous epidemics:

For two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been prohibited by Congress from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control.” (The National Institutes of Health faces a similar restriction.) Now there are signs the medical profession is getting fed up. In the April 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine is an editorial calling on physicians to demand the “resources and freedom” to do their jobs: reducing harm. Specifically, the journal calls for an end to the political blockade on research about the health effects of gun violence.

The gun lobby’s anxiety is understandable. It makes many claims, but none is more consequential than the declaration that more guns lead to greater public safety. Life (and death) across the U.S. seems toundermine that assertion daily, while a smattering of research, conducted despite the blockade, reinforces doubts about the National Rifle Association’s thesis.

Perhaps extensive research would authenticate the NRA’s claims. On the other hand, there is a chance that a solid body of social-science research would reveal its thesis as a myth. Better not to take the risk.

Not all research has been extinguished. Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of California at Davis are among the institutions that have produced notable studies in recent years. The National Institute of Justice has made limited forays into studying the criminal use of guns. But given the scope of the issue — more than 30,000 firearm deaths and tens of thousands of injuries annually — foundation grants and a bare trickle of government research can do only so much to advance understanding.

Understanding. That seems important here. With such a volatile and politically charged issue as what to do about gun safety reform, evidence based research is vitally important. We are operating in a vacuum created by the gun lobby- very purposely. Some statements made beg credultiy. I write them all the time on this blog. For example, possible Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had this ridiculous thing to say about the second amendment:

During the discussion, Huckabee shared his views on the Second Amendment by explaining that, where he comes from, the “gun nuts” are the people who support gun control and stated that if somebody broke into this house, the only reason he’d call 911 would be to tell them where to pick up the body of the intruder.

Explaining that he’s owned guns since the time he was five, Huckabee said that he cringes when he hears people say that they support the Second Amendment because it protects hunting.

“The Second Amendment is not about hunting,” he said, “this is about freedom. And I’ve heard people say ‘Huckabee is one of those gun nuts.’ Where I come from, a gun nut is a person who is irrationally afraid of a firearm because they don’t understand the nature of having one and the importance to their liberty. I don’t love guns, but I do love freedom. I love it a lot.”

Nice. Isn’t Huckabee a minister? Whatever happened to caring for and loving our neighbors like ourselves? Whatever happened to compassion? This smells of pandering and a lack of basic understanding about the problem of gun violence in American. Who needs a “leader” saying stuff like this? It stinks up the conversation about guns and gun violence that our country so desperately needs.

We are better than this. It doesn’t have to be like this. But it will be until the majority decides to rise up and demand change. It will be until we change the conversation about gun safety reform. It’s possible to freshen the air and freshen the conversation with facts and humanity. Please join a group working on the issue of gun safety reform and say “enough.”

Enough. Haven’t we had enough? If over 30,000 gun deaths a year is not enough, what is? Reasonable people can disagree about issues. But it smells when facts are denied or shoved aside in order to promote the agenda of a single issue political interest group whose main goal is profit but its’ products cause the death of innocent Americans.

Where is common sense?

Guns and mass shootings- as American as apple pie and country music

apple_pie_american_flagIt’s the land of “milk and honey”. It’s the land of the free. It’s the land of rock and roll and country music. It’s the land of apple pie and barbecue. It’s the land of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It’s the land of wide open spaces and crowded cities. It’s the land of cowboys. It’s the land of slaves. It’s the land of Native American reservations. It’s the land of plenty and the land of slums. It’s the land of oceans, mountains, deserts and lakes. It’s the land of guns. It’s the land of school shootings. It’s the land of child shootings and gun suicides. It’s the land of domestic shootings and officer shootings. It’s the land of the corporate gun lobby.

An article about how America dealt with the Columbine shooting caught my attention this morning.  Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of that heinous shooting that seemed to be a marker for all that followed. It is why so many Americans showed up to march on Mothers’ Day of 2000 in the Million Mom March. Americans were horrified that they could watch a mass school shooting on TV and wanted not to do that again. We were hopeful that common sense would prevail and something would change. What seemed to change was the fervor of the gun rights extremists in the face of possibilities to do something about school shootings and everyday shootings. Instead of working together to stop the violence, the gun lobby dug in its’ heels and ever since has become more and more resistant and militant. Their iconic leader, Wayne LaPierre appears to be more unhinged with every passing NRA convention and every mass shooting.

But I digress. More from the first linked article, above:

After Columbine there was a general sense that something had to be done. That kids getting killed at school was a thing we weren’t going to be okay with. “Never again,” as they say.

It wasn’t some fanciful impossibility. The British did it after Dunblane. And so we did that. Everyone got together and passed sweeping gun control legislation and there was never another mass shooting in America.

Except not really. Because the “never again” response—though shared by many—was not shared by all. (…)

Both responses, “never again” and “don’t bother trying,” offer statements about the USA. The former says “America is the greatest country on Earth. We went to the moon. Surely, we can stop kids from getting shot to death at school! If the Brits can do it, so can we. ” The latter says, “No, we can’t. We’re America. The greatest country on Earth and the cost of the liberty that makes us so is that our kids may get shot to death at school.”

Every time there is another mass shooting and nothing happens it becomes a little easier to believe that the “don’t bother” crowd is right.

Don’t bother.

It’s OK by us if our kids may not come home on a day we put them on the school bus and expect to see them later that day at home. It’s OK by us if 3 year olds shoot one year olds. It’s OK by us if law abiding gun owners shoot themselves when adjusting bra holsters or guns fall out of pockets and shoot private parts. It’s OK by us if a 2 year old shoots his own mother after finding her loaded gun in a special purse for carrying a gun around  in public. It’s OK by us if stray bullets kill kids in their homes while they are sleeping. It’s OK by us if a gun nut father shoots and kills his own 3 year old daughter “accidentally”. It’s OK by us if domestic abusers use guns to kill their intimate partners. It’s OK by us if our young men of color are shooting each other on our city streets. It’s OK by us if police officers shoot to kill unarmed young Black men. It’s OK by us if police officers are shot and killed in ambushes. It’s OK by us if teens shoot themselves over a bad day with a gun found at home. It’s OK by us if innocent people are killed in road rage incidents. It’s OK by us if a grandpa shoots his own granddaughter when he mistakes her for a robber. It’s OK by us for a white guy patrolling a neighborhood to kill an unarmed black teen. It’s OK by us when a volunteer reserve sheriff’s deputy mistakes a taser for a real gun and shoots and kills a black man. It’s OK by us for gun nuts to carry assault rifles around in public places where families gather. It’s OK by us when……

And when someone bothers to do something about our nation’s public health and safety epidemic, it’s not OK with the gun rights extremists. It’s not OK with the gun lobby to suggest that gun safety reform will make us safer without infringing on their “God given” rights to do anything they want with their lethal weapons. Apparently it’s not OK for performers to have the freedom to perform benefit concerts for causes of their choice.

The gun nuts have come unglued over country singer Tim McGraw’s upcoming performance to benefit the Sandy Hook Promise organization. I wrote about this in my previous post but the furor is worse than ever. It’s bothersome that facts don’t matter in this case. Of course the Sandy Hook Promise is not “anti-gun” but that doesn’t bother the gun nuts.

So let’s be bothered by the extremism and myths about gun violence. We should be bothered enough to do something about this national epidemic. Changing the conversation is a first step. Even that would bother the gun extremists. Strengthening our laws to reduce and prevent some of our gun violence would not be bothersome to gun rights no matter what is hyped about it. Let’s make America the land of gun safety reform and the public health of our children and families. That we haven’t bothered to do that so far is a national tragedy.

Who is thinking of our children?- today’s news of gun fanaticism and madness

4-17-15-think-of-the-kids
From farleftside.com

It’s madness. Where to begin? As more people carry more guns in more places, they also say and do more inane things with their guns and their thoughts about their “God given” rights to own and carry guns. It’s pretty overwhelming actually to sift through the stories that are posted about gun rights fanatics and insane shooting incidents. So for today, I will post just a few of many. Madness and fanaticism needs to be highlighted in order for the country to see how far the craziness is going about guns in America. Most especially, our political leaders need a dose of reality and common sense in order for them to get the courage to stand up for the majority.

Let’s get started. I will post just some of what is going on around the country.

  • A Seattle area baby was shot while sitting in her car seat during a road rage incident- presumably by a law abiding gun owner.  The one year old is in critical condition. You can read more about guns and babies in my recent post. Who is thinking of the children?
  • A South Carolina 3rd grader threatened his teacher with an air soft gun he brought to school. Where were the responsible adults? Kids learn from their parents and model parents’ behavior. Who is thinking of our children?
  • A Minnesota legislator, wearing his NRA tee shirt under his sport coat, made this ridiculous and insane statement upon the passage of unneeded gun bills in the Minnesota House: ” “Minnesota is a gun state,” said Cornish, wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt under his jacket, which itself was adorned with rifle and pistol pins. “It is past the time when you can beat up on gun owners.”” Cornish is making stuff up. Who has “beat up” on gun owners? That is a crazy and false statement that should be embarrassing to his colleagues who voted for this bill. When one legislator attempted an amendment that would restrict gun carriers at the state Capitol when school groups are touring, it was turned down. Another amendment to require background checks on private sales was also turned down. Who is thinking of our children?
  • Let me remind everyone that these provisions were not passed because Minnesotans were asking for them. They were passed because the corporate gun lobby is busy pushing to weaken gun laws across the country and they have managed to elect politicians to do their bidding. Who is thinking of the children?
  • One of the Republican presidential candidates is calling for insurrection. You just can’t make this stuff up. Senator Ted Cruz, part of the U.S. government himself, is calling for guns to be used to fight against the government. Common sense has taken a leave. This stuff is so extreme that even one of Cruz’s ultra conservative Senate colleagues had to back away from the insanity. From the article: ” TPM’s Sahil Kapur asked Grahamwhat he thought of his Texan colleague’s view of the Second Amendment, and the South Carolina senator was not impressed. He even invoked the Civil War, which should make Cruz’s people plenty upset. “Well, we tried that once in South Carolina,” Graham said. “I wouldn’t go down that road again.”” Who is thinking of our children?
  • I’m pretty sure a violent attempt to take over the government is against many laws. Shouldn’t Senator Cruz know that? He’s an attorney. So is Senator Graham who seems to get what Cruz means when he strikes his insurrectionist tone on the campaign trail. But this is the gun culture we have. Senator Ted Cruz is reflecting what a small minority of gun extremists in America actually believe. You can read more about that on the Insurrectionist Timeline brought to us by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Ted Cruz made their list. He must be very proud.
  • These folks are fomenting fear and paranoia and ready to shoot and fight to the death apparently against some sort of imaginary “enemy”. Of course Ted Cruz may want to remember that he IS the government when he says these things. But never mind common sense. Anything goes on the campaign trail for some folks but cozying up to the gun extremists will not be a winning strategy.
  • In the state of Oregon, it looks like a bill to require background checks on private gun sales is going to become law. In the “chicken little” mentality of the corporate gun lobby, the gun rights extremists have begun a move to recall the politicians who dared to vote for public safety and common sense. When these folks lose or don’t get their way, they stop at nothing to get even. It’s a sick and insane culture wrought by the folks who have convinced some that the sky will fall if reasonable gun laws pass. It hasn’t so far since the Brady background check law passed. Other gun laws have passed in our country and in states requiring stronger regulations to protect public safety and we are all still here. Go figure. That darned government has not managed to take away guns yet.
  • We need to talk about musicians and other performers who headline shows for causes. Apparently some musicians can’t do what they want or perform where they want to without the wrath of gun fanatics. Such is the case of country music star Tim McGraw who will perform this summer at a benefit concert for Sandy Hook Promise, formed after the killing of 20 first graders at Sandy Hook elementary school. The gun fanatics are in a state of hysteria over this. Do they own country music? What is wrong with this nonsense? Who is thinking of the children? Tim McGraw, from the linked article: ““Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far.  As a gun owner, I support gun ownership,” he said. “I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety — most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children.  I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that.”“Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering,” he added.” Good grief. The pain and tragedy of the families of these young children is something the rest of us can not know. Reasonable gun owners support reasonable solutions to save our children. The gun extremists are out of control.
  • And yet, in Colorado, after common sense kept the gun lobby from getting its’ way to reverse the sensible public safety gun laws passed last year, one legislator is receiving mostly thank you comments from constituents for standing up for what’s right. That’s because the majority of citizens are opposed to the gun lobby’s extreme agenda and see it for what it is. Thurlow ( above) is a Republican but apparently not a bought and paid for gun lobby Republican.
  • Children are dying at an alarming rate every day in America. And yet, who is thinking of the children? As a country we get alarmed over poisons, pill bottles, swimming pool safety, second hand smoke, measles, the flu virus, eating laundry detergent pods, and other such safety hazards in the lives of our children. But guns? Not so much.

There’s much more gun and gun lobby madness of course. Every day there is much more. The gun lobby continues to push for extreme measures to weaken gun laws. They go too far. The public is not asking for or seeing the need for guns everywhere carried by anyone with no restrictions at all. Gun rights and gun safety reform can co-exist and do co-exist. The future of our country and our children depends on making sure they are safe in their homes and their communities. The fact that our legislators and Congress members are thinking more of themselves, their agenda, extreme views of gun rights , fear of a well financed  interest group, and their re-election means they are not thinking of the children.

There are solutions to our national gun violence epidemic and we can save the lives of our children if we have the will and the education about what we can do. The Brady Campaign has it right. The ASK program encourages parents, grandparents and others to ask if there are guns around where children play and hang-out. This is a simple solution to some of our preventable and avoidable gun deaths. Safe storage of guns can save lives as well. Young children are curious and will touch things they shouldn’t. It’s up to adults to keep them safe from danger. We should not be reading about babies shooting babies or babies getting shot while riding in their car seats in their parents’ cars. We should not be reading about 3rd graders bringing air soft or any other guns to school threatening their teachers. The American gun culture has gone awry. Who is thinking of the children?

We are better than this.

UPDATE:

I have already been updating this post but since my topic is madness and fanaticism with some insurrection thrown in, I really must post a comment from one of my readers. I will not give him the satisfaction of posting it as a comment with his name because that is what he wants. He somehow believes that he can rattle me with this comment. Rather I laughed  and wondered in what world he lives? I do know from what city and state he comes because that comes through on comments on this posting sight. So he is more or less hiding in plain sight. Here is his comment, made on my post about Virginia Tech and the many victims of gun violence in April. Sensitive guy this one:

Did you ever consider that in the event that you actually GOT universal gun confiscation, that the end result would be armed revolution(Civil war) by all those “right wing nutjobs” you hate and fear so much? AND FYI the gun owners in the US out number every police officer and solder on earth COMBINED, by about two MILLION to one. The “gun nuts” “only” outnumber the combined government forces in the CONUS by a paltry twenty two million to one. I understand that I am intruding into your fantasy world and that you are incapable of understanding anything not couched in stupid hippy propaganda BS , but cripes lady why do you provoke people who honestly believe that ANY anti-gun law will end with the genocide of them and their families? People who WILL fight to the death in, and may even win a civil war ,that WILL be the result of any real attempt at gun confiscation. I understand that none of this will penetrate the six inches of neo-communist armor that protects your brain from reality, but I felt I had to try and drive a reality spike into your fantasy world. Barring that I could piss you off, and that in itself is a reward.

Sigh. A prime example of my point. I hope he will get his reward somewhere else because he didn’t p%$# me off.

Virginia Tech remembered – and other April shootings

Virgina TechAs poet T. S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” It’s true. It’s so disturbing that the month needs to be remembered for so many shootings:

April 2, 2014- the second Fort Hood shooting that killed 4, including the shooter and injured 16 more.

April 14, 2003- John McDonough High School shooting where a 15 year old student was shot and killed by 2 men with an AK47. 3 others were injured.

April 15, 2013 -The Boston Marathon bombing, of course, killed 3, injured many and caused terror to many. But it also did involve several shootings when one of the bombers shot and killed a police officer and the other suspect was shot and injured by law enforcement authorities after a long search that terrorized the Boston area for days.

April 16, 2007- The Virginia Tech shooting victims will be remembered again today on the 8th anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in America. 32 were left dead and 17 others injured after the shooter, a severely mentally ill student who obtained a gun legally, opened fire on fellow students and professors before he shot himself.

And then, of course, we shouldn’t overlook the Oklahoma City bombing by gun extremist Timothy McVeigh on April 19, 1995 that killed 168 and injured 680. McVeigh was a gun rights extremist and militia member who was anti-government. In an interview with McVeigh years after the terror attack he admitted to the same rhetoric we hear from today’s gun rights extremists:

Once the Branch Dividian siege began in Waco, Texas, McVeigh became convinced that the government was the ultimate bully, trying to take away people’s guns.

McVeigh even drove to Waco during the siege.

“You feel a bond with this community. The bond is that they’re fellow gun owners and believe in gun rights and survivalists and freedom lovers,” said McVeigh.

Dan Herbeck: “The ultimate thing that sent him toward Oklahoma City was Waco with the Branch Dividian people being killed and he told us from that day forward he decided he was going to become a terrorist.”

McVeigh believed he and the Militia Movement were now at war with the U.S. government.

Sometimes these beliefs turn into action and unfortunately, that is what happened in Oklahoma City in 1995.

April 20, 1999- Two students obtained guns from a friend who bought them at a gun show with no background check, shot and killed 13 people and injured 21 at Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado. This school shooting propelled a lot of Americans into action about gun safety reform and is still remembered today because it was the first school shooting in modern memory with so many victims and marks the beginning of an era of school shootings not seen in any other country in the world. You can see the list in this article, stunning because of the continued carnage and lack of action to prevent more of them.

April 25, 2003- Pittsburgh area junior high student shot his school principal and then himself at his school. The 14 year old carried 3 loaded handguns to school that day. The guns came from his own home.

This, of course, is just one month of 11. In America, we speak of school shootings and mass shootings as if they are just part of the landscape. That is the sad truth and it should be a shameful truth. But our elected leaders continue to ignore the facts about gun violence and vote with the corporate gun lobby instead of standing up for the victims and survivors.

Where is common sense?

Today we remember the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting. Tomorrow- others- and the next day and the next day and the next day……..

We are better than this. It’s past time to change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. We can do something to reduce and prevent shootings. But we are not and that’s the American tragedy. Every day in America, another Virginia Tech happens when 32 Americans are killed in gun homicides. And that is only some of the 80 Americans who die daily from gunshot injuries. We have to get this right- lives depend on it.

Remembering:

Ross Abdallah Alameddine

Jamie Bishop

Brian Bluhm

Ryan Clark

Austin Cloyd

Jocelyne Couture-Nowak

Kevin Granata

Matthew Gwaltney

Caitlin Hammaren

Jeremy Herbstritt

Rachel Hill

Emily Jean Hilscher

Jarret Lane

Matt LaPorte

Henry Lee

Liviu Librescu

G.V. Loganathan

Partahi Lumbantoruan

Lauren McCain

Daniel O’Neil

Juan Ortiz

Minal Panchal

Daniel Perez Cueva

Erin Peterson

Mike Pohle

Julia Pryde

Mary Read

Reema Samaha

Waleed Shaalan

Leslie Sherman

Maxine Turner

Nicole White

I will also remember some friends I have met through my gun violence prevention work- the brother of a victim, the mother of a survivor and a survivor of the shooting.

Guns, babies and other gun absurdities

father and baby

This post has been updated since first posted.

A comment from a Facebook friend when this article was shared around yesterday about a Tennessee woman whose gun discharged while in a diaper bag she carried to a store:

“Diaper bag necessities for the modern mother:

Diapers, check
Desitin, check
Wipes, check
Pacifier, check
Handgun, che…wait…WHAT?

Oh, yeah, freedom demands that every diaper bag have one. And dead infants are only counted as collateral damage by the anarchists.”

More from the article for your edification:

A mother, who was shopping with her two children, ended up firing a gun inside a busy Southaven store on Sunday.

It happened at the Bargain Hunt on Stateline Road.

Investigators say Stephanie Scrivener’s gun was inside a diaper bag when it fired.

She now faces charges for discharging a weapon within city limits.

Sigh. No words.

In other news about guns and babies, this one year old baby was shot by his 3 year old brother. I don’t make this stuff up. From the article:

Charges likely will be brought against the person who took a gun to the house where a 3-year-old boy shot his 1-year-old brother in the head and killed him, the Cleveland police chief said.

Chief Calvin Williams said investigators are trying to determine where the gun in Sunday afternoon’s shooting came from and how it was left within reach of a child.

Full details about the shooting on the city’s east side weren’t released, but Williams said at least one adult was home when it happened.

“A 3-year-old cannot be held accountable for a tragedy like this,” said Williams. He said someone had to have supplied the weapon or “knew the weapons were there and didn’t do anything to safeguard them, so people will be held accountable for this tragedy.”

Sigh. Where is common sense? Serious questions just have to be asked about our American gun culture. Are we asking them? Is anyone answering them other than to give us the usual shameful nonsense coming from the corporate gun lobby about how safe we now all are because of more people owning and carrying guns? They are wrong. Who is pointing that out? How many more will it take?

Instead of having a serious discussion about “accidental” gun discharges by “law abiding” gun owners and about the easy access to guns by babies and toddlers, we are hearing talk of needing guns to fight against our own government. The corporate gun lobby is pushing young parents into believing a gun in the house will protect them from evil things like hurricanes, zombies, ISIS, and whatever else is lurking outside their doors. Remember the words of Wayne LaPierre doing just that?:

It must be terrifying to be Wayne LaPierre, the man who has led the NRA for the past two decades. For years he has shared his nightmares and fears of daily living with us — a worldview of paralyzing paranoia, where terrorists, bad weather and Latin American gangsters lurk behind every corner, ready to prey on unarmed citizens.

“Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world,” he explains in his latest expression of anguish, an Op-Ed published in the Daily Caller yesterday. “And though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.”

“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals,” he continues. “These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival.” (…)

When the NRA head appeared on Fox News Sunday earlier this month, he told host Chris Wallace, “My gosh, in the shadow of where we are sitting now, gangs are out there in Washington, D.C. You can buy drugs. You can buy guns. They are trafficking in 13-year-old girls. And our government is letting them!”

Sigh. Survival. Tell that to the parents of the now dead one year old who did not survive the senseless and avoidable gunshot injury inflicted by his 3 year old brother with a gun in his hands.

I am updating this post to include a totally absurd and disturbing story about one of the workshops held at the recent NRA convention  which was clearly outside the bounds of common sense and reality.  More from the article:

There is no factual basis to allegations that parts of the U.S. have turned into no-go zones that Muslim extremists had supposedly conquered — a myth that wasspread by Fox News reports earlier this year.

Tarani’s comments were part of an hour-long seminar in which he discussed what he claims are the threats Americans face on a daily basis. The frequency and intensity of “mass murders, beheadings and suicide bombings” are increasing, he said. After detailing the events of a number of mass shootings and terrorist plots by an “endless supply” of militant groups around the world, Tarani told the audience they should be prepared to respond to all kinds of threats.

Tarani also warned that the country’s “porous borders” are letting extremists and terrorists into the United States. “It’s possible that at least 20 percent of what comes over that border — that’s a big number, guys — is Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ethiopian al shabaab, known gang members and supports of the cartel,” he said, warning people to arm themselves to respond to threats before law enforcement can.

The myth of no-go zones was also spread earlier this year by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who said in an interview that there are Muslim areas in Europe that are dominated by extremist Muslims where the police refuse to enter. Fox News previously made several mentions of no-go zones, prompting British Prime Minister David Cameron to publicly refute the claim and even call one pundit “a complete idiot.” Fox later issued several apologies and admitted that no-go zones do not actually exist.

It’s hard to know what to say. Raise your hand if you have heard of beheadings in the U.S. or ISIS members coming over the borders. The hypocrisy of this is that the gun lobby resists any attempt to keep guns away from known terrorists. But this kind of fear mongering is inexcusable and very dangerous. For the gun lobby, it drives people to the gun stores and that is exactly what they want. Crazy, insane, shameless, idiotic, stupid and dangerous. More myths and deceptions.

Instead of addressing a national public health and safety epidemic, the pundits and politicians and would be politicians are pandering and sounding crazier and crazier. How do you explain the speech at the recent NRA convention by someone who should know better- a Republican neurosurgeon trying his darndest to curry favor with the gun rights crowd? Here is what Dr. Ben Carson said ( and I don’t make this stuff up):

“I spent many a night operating on people with gunshot wounds to their heads,” Carson said. “It is not nearly as horrible as having a population that is defenseless against a group of tyrants who have arms.”

No words.

And, of course, now declared Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio continued the pandering and deception when he spoke at the NRA convention:

Like many of the other GOP heavyweights who spoke Friday, Rubio also accused the president of picking and choosing which amendments to support. He noted the Obama administration’s attempt to ban armor-piercing bullets and the administration’s attempt to increase background checks on gun sales in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“The sins of the evil do not justify the restrictions of law-abiding citizens. In fact, the sins of the evil make those rights more critical,” Rubio said, adding that he’s no fan of gun-free zones.

Really? The shooting of 20 first graders doesn’t justify doing something to strengthen our gun laws and have a national discussion about gun violence? Inexplicable and shameful. These are our babies and our children. We need to protect them from evil for sure. The evil is that the corporate gun lobby is preventing us from stopping people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them anyway. The gun lobby would rather arm the people who teach our precious children than prevent the shootings of them in the first place through common sense measures like background checks, safe storage of guns, strengthening trafficking and straw purchase laws. Those are the “sins of evil” and yes, they do justify restricting those who are not law abiding. But Rubio is echoing the nonsense of the gun lobby when he says these laws would restrict law abiding citizens. He is wrong. But he’s running for President and he must curry favor with the uber powerful and well funded national fear mongering organization.

Why aren’t we crying about our lack of action when it comes to saving our babies and our children from the devastation of senseless and out of control gun violence?

We need to be afraid of our out of control and crazy American gun culture.

UPDATE:

Someone sent a link to this story about a toddler pulling a loaded gun out of a diaper bag at a Vermont day care center. Of course it was left there by a responsible gun permit holder. Oh wait- in Vermont you don’t need a permit to carry a loaded gun around. Maybe they should re-think that one. Good grief. This is why there should be no loaded guns in purses and diaper bags.

Duped by the gun lobby

Tnotrocketsciencehis is not rocket science. Stronger gun laws will save lives. There is actually proof that weak laws contribute to more gun deaths and injuries and the proliferation of firearms in America have not saved lives. Americans have been duped by the corporate gun lobby. Slight of hand tactics and slogans have confused the reality and managed to win support from elected leaders and some of the public. As a result, gun deaths have continued unabated and in some places now contribute to more deaths than auto accidents.

And all for profits and power.

This week-end, my husband and I went to see Merchants of Doubt at a local theater. It was very well done and powerful. Most people do understand that the big corporations and businesses are all about profit and keeping their political power in order to make more profits. Anything goes for some of them. The movie is about climate change and those who deny its’ existence but in order to get to that talking point, examples were given of the tobacco industry and energy companies tactics to deny the facts. From this review of the movie:

His phrasing—scientific, precise, and bloodless—perfectly illustrates Merchants Of Doubt’s central thesis. As science historian Naomi Oreskes, co-author of the book the film is based on, says, “If this is not a scientific debate, what kind of debate is it?” The answer, of course, is a political debate. And political debates are won by rhetoric and tribalism. The most illuminating passages in Merchants Of Doubt are those which illuminate the role of tribal identity in not only the global warming debate but also the rise of the Tea Party. As Skeptic magazine editor and lifelong libertarian Michael Shermer discovered when, after long doubting that global warming was real, his opinion was changed by a close examination of the overwhelming scientific evidence. When documentarians follow him to a libertarian convention where he debates a climate change skeptic, audience members attack him as with phrases like “That’s what YOUR TEAM wants us to think!”  (…) The problem with this kind of issue documentary is that it seems like preaching to the choir. No one who views their identity as a conservative in good standing is going to voluntarily watch this film, and if they’re exposed to it, they’ll just call it more lies. Indeed, the documentarians’ methodology of following the money and questioning the neutrality of so-called impartial observers naturally leads to the question, “Who’s paying for this?” Just because I agree with it—and I do, wholeheartedly—doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask hard questions of it. Merchants Of Doubt’s thesis is that slick communicators willing to use any tactics available, regardless of morality, are the ones who can win political debates. The slickness and clarity of the production means the filmmakers have taken that lesson to heart.

The movie was not about gun violence prevention or the debate about gun rights but it could have been. Some of the scientists and writers who were interviewed for the movie talked of the backlash, the harsh criticisms, the threatening comments, e-mails and phone calls they received from those on the other “team” who absolutely would not listen to anything but their own echo chamber. Even when presented with facts, if the opposition team is noisy and clever enough and has enough money to employ stealth tactics to deceive the public, big issues of our times don’t get addressed and solved; or they are solved too late for too many.

The thing is, lives depend on our getting this right. Lives depend on believing the facts and the evidence even if it means lower profits and less power for corporations and the wealthy. Lives have been saved because the truth about the risks of smoking and second hand smoke finally won out over the powerful tobacco companies. Law suits helped. The same is true for safety measures on cars and drunk driving laws. It took years of fighting against a powerful and well funded industry and some law suits.

Thus we are now at a pivotal moment for climate change. The evidence shows that if we don’t change what we are doing with energy, with water conservation, with greenhouse gases, with fuel and electrical usage, with our daily living habits, the earth will not be the same for our children and grandchildren. But the voices of denial inexplicably win the battles. They won’t win the war but it might not matter. And why does this happen? Ideology. Fear. Anger. Ignorance. Hatred for the other “team.” Loss of profits and power.

All of this can be applied to the battle over gun rights and gun safety reform. For it is a battle. It is fierce and it gets down to which team you are on. And we are at a pivotal point as gun death rates stay the same or rise. Does it matter that lives are being lost every day to firearms injuries many of which could be saved? Just like with the auto and tobacco industries, denial and outright deception too often win. Solutions are right in front of us and make so much common sense but politics stop us from saving lives.

It doesn’t work this way, at least about guns and gun rights, in other countries. Why? Common sense. Morality. Interest in public health and safety. Concern for the common good. No second amendment. No gun rights extremists. Fewer gun owners. No NRA or corporate gun lobby.

Speaking of the corporate gun lobby, the NRA convention held this past week-end in Nashville, is over. It was the usual fare only some of the rhetoric was more strident than ever. Hatred of President Obama is now turning to hatred of the now declared Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. If we think the evil and repugnant rhetoric and hatred towards President Obama was over the top, wait until the women hating, Clinton hating folks get started. It should be interesting. And the NRA will be right in the midst of the battle as evidenced by their own Wayne LaPierre’s speech at the convention.

After warning once again that Obama is going to turn America into a country that “you and I won’t recognize” (*yawn*), LaPierre switched gears towards attacking Hillary Clinton. When LaPierre suggests Clinton may be elected president, the crowd loudly boos and one person screams “Never!” LaPierre grimaces at the thought:

“I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”

“Demographically symbolic”? LaPierre just stood before tens of thousands of people and accused the president of being a token black guy. Following this logic, Hillary would be the token woman. LaPierre makes it obvious that what he wants is a return to less diverse times. The overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male crowd seems to agree, interrupting LaPierre’s speech with enthusiastic cheers.

LaPierre’s remarks are the latest bold attempt by the conservative movement to reject Obama and Clinton based solely on the fact that they are members of minority groups (in Clinton’s case, not in number of women, but in their disenfranchisement) and therefore don’t constitute a true representation of what right-wingers believes a president looks like: white, male, and donning an American flag on their lapel.

Just read this over-the-top rhetoric from gun rights extremists at the NRA convention if you don’t believe me. Sounds like the world is about to come to an end. From the linked article:

“They think that they’re better and smarter than we are, as if they’re more sophisticated and intellectually evolved than we are,” Porter said.

“When it comes to those elitists, looking down their noses and telling us how to live, it’s time they got the message loud and clear,” he said. “You elitists live however your want, but when it comes to us, get your hands off our freedom and leave us the hell alone.”

Uff da. Sounds like fighting words. Either that or total nonsense. I’ll go with the latter. Can these folks be serious? Elitists? Who are elitists? I suppose we don’t need to remind them of the huge salaries of the top executives of NRA leaders. And don’t get me started about the “intellectually evolved” statement. Do these folks really believe their own words?

Disturbing to say the least.

Here is more insight into the angry and fear mongering words at the convention.

Some reporters got in to the convention and have written about what they saw and heard. This one is a pretty good summary.

The thing is, facts matter. The claims made by the corporate gun lobby, many of the candidates for the Republican nomination who spoke at the NRA convention and the gun rights extremists who believe what they are told without checking for accuracy, are false. There is a truth out there in the real world. In the real world people in the U.S. are dying at a high rate- at an epidemic rate in fact. This article from the Washington Post fact checked the claims that America has a higher gun death rate than most other “civilized” countries.  From the article:

Post foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher concluded, “The U.S. gun murder rate isabout 20 times the average for all other countries on this chart. That means that Americans are 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country.”

A related fact-check from PolitiFact examined a 2011 study by researchers of the Harvard School of Public Health and UCLA School of Public Health. Their findings, while based on data for 23 high-income, populous countries from the World Health Organization now almost a decade old (2003), mirror more recent trends.

The United States, they found, has more firearms per capita, the most permissive gun control laws and a disproportionate amount of firearm-related deaths from homicides, suicides and accidents.

“The United States had a homicide rate 6.9 times higher than those in the other high-income countries, driven by a firearm homicide rate that was 19.5 times higher than those in the other high-income countries,” the report says. “For 15 year olds to 24 year olds, the firearm homicide rate in the United States was 42.7 times higher than in the other countries.”

This is stunning. Of course, it’s been stunning for many years now but we continue along this path without taking action to change it. If we want to know why, we can refer back to what has just happened at the NRA convention in Nashville. There they continued with the push for more guns for everyone everywhere because, of course, more guns make us all safer. The article I have linked is based on studies and collections of data that show the exact opposite. What’s the problem here?

Profits. The gun industry is a large industry and needs to profit, like other industries. So back to where I started. One team wants to save lives and prevent gun violence that is so devastating to so many all over America. The other team wants what they think they have always had and deserve and facts don’t matter. If they had not been duped, they would realize that a simple thing like background checks on all gun sales would actually strengthen the second amendment. If that wasn’t the case, why did the leaders and organizers of the NRA convention insist that any firearms purchased on the convention floor be sent to the closest licensed dealer so the buyer could go through a background check?

To avoid reality and the facts about gun deaths, the gun lobby has their slick talking points that don’t get questioned as often as they should. If they were, we would find that they are not based on facts. Does it matter? When you are playing for the gun rights team, slick talking points replace a serious conversation based on facts. Here are just a few of those talking points:

  • Just enforce the laws already on the books-meant to distract from the fact that gun laws have actually been weakened and it’s difficult to enforce trafficking laws when one state makes it easy for felons and domestic abusers to bring guns into a state where it’s harder. The number 20,000 existing gun laws is thrown around. If we check with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence which researches gun laws, we can see that that really can’t be true. I also was directed recently to a fact check article about this number, 20,000, that is used by gun extremists. Check it out for yourself and you will see that the number cannot be verified. So don’t be duped.
  • More guns make mean less crime. This is a much used phrase that is not based on fact. An old discredited study by gun rights activist John Lott has been used to get conceal carry laws passed all over America. Don’t be duped.
  • Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. This, of course, is simply not true and can’t be proved but it’s out there as some sort of “fact” that needs to be challenged. It’s a myth. Check it out from the link. Don’t be duped.
  • If we pass reasonable gun laws, only criminals will get guns and law abiding citizens will be punished. This one begs credulity because requiring background checks on all gun sales, for example, will stop the “bad guys” from getting guns without stopping any law abiding citizen from getting a gun. If this were true, why did those who ordered a gun from one of the displays at the NRA convention have to get a background check at the nearest licensed dealer to their home? Because they were following state and federal laws. Hmmmm. If only the laws required this for every gun sale.
  • Universal background checks will lead to gun registration. No, not true. In the 20 years of the Brady law’s existence, this has not happened and it won’t.
  • Guns make us safer. Another myth. If guns stopped gun violence and made us safer, why do we continue to have the highest rate of gun deaths per capita in the civilized world?

There are more but I think my point has been made.

America, we’ve been duped. Let’s stop the game playing. There should be only one team here because there is only one right answer- preventing death and saving lives through common sense laws and gun safety reform. Gun safety reform and gun rights are not mutually exclusive.

It’s no accident that the NRA ignores “accidental” shootings

accidentAs a recent article in the Washington Post noted, the NRA has a real problem with their messaging when it comes to the epidemic of child shootings:

As the National Rifle Association’s annual conference hits Nashville this weekend with 70,000 expected attendees, the organization has good reason to be upbeat. For another year, it has succeeded in stalling legislative attempts at moderate gun controls, rolling back existing state regulations and winning media battles. But there’s a looming question that should be seriously concerning the NRA and its supporters: how to reconcile the organization’s agenda with new evidence on the prevalence of gun accidents involving children.

Over the past year, new studies and media reports have documented America’s extraordinary number of child-involved shootings. These occur when a child happens upon a gun, or is left alone with one, and ends up shooting themselves or another person. Such disasters result in hundreds of child fatalities and have made American children nine times more likely to die in gun accidents than children anywhere else in the developed world. These deaths pose a massive challenge for the NRA. They demonstrate fairly conclusively that guns cannot be both safe and ubiquitous; the inevitable consequence of widespread gun ownership is a never-ending series of tragedies involving children. But, desperate to insist there’s nothing wrong, the NRA has proved itself totally incapable of responding to the problem.

It’s not just that the NRA is incapable or in denial. It’s purposeful that the corporate gun lobby ignores the easy access to guns by children. They don’t seem to care and claim that just telling kids not to touch a gun will do the trick. Well, it doesn’t. That has been shown over and over in videos and studies. From this linked article:

Despite harrowing tragedies like Caroline’s death, the National Rifle Association iscommitted to expanding firearm ownership among children. The NRA’s recent convention in Indianapolis included a “Youth Day” to promote firearms for children, an event from which the media was banned. For years, gun manufacturers and the NRA have marketed firearms to children ages 5 to 12, insisting that programs such as the Eddie Eagle Safety Program ensure the safety of children. If they truly believe this, they are mistaken.

The overwhelming empirical evidence indicates that the presence of a gun makes children less safe; that programs such as Eddie Eagle are insufficient; and that measures the NRA and extreme gun advocates vehemently oppose, such as gun safes and smart guns, could dramatically reduce the death toll. Study after study unequivocally demonstrates that the prevalence of firearms directly increases the risk of youth homicide, suicide, and unintentional death. This effect is consistent across the United States and throughout the world. As a country, we should be judged by how well we protect our children. By any measure, we are failing horribly.

And when a 2 or 3 year old finds a gun, the idea that they could understand not to touch a gun is ludicrous. It’s no accident that the NRA ignores this. For when profits come before common sense and saving lives, the result is a nation of children shooting themselves, or another child who is often a sibling. Occasionally a bullet discharged accidentally by a gun held by a child hits a parent as well here and here. (These are just 2 of other examples)

Sure, the NRA has some good programs to train kids to use a gun for hunting but they claim that their Eddie Eagle program will do the trick to keep kids from accessing guns in the home. There is no proof of this. Young kids and guns just don’t go together. And, as the above article suggests, putting the burden of gun safety on the children themselves rather than the adults in charge is a bad idea.

Remember the young girl who was brought by her parents to a gun range to try out a machine gun? It ended with the death of the instructor. What an awful burden for that 9 year old to carry through the rest of her life. What were the adults thinking? When we have a corporate gun lobby that is more interested in making sure the next generation will be encouraged to buy guns than in the safety of that generation, that is what we get. This is just not happening in other civilized, democratized countries.

As a nation, do we have to be hit in the head before we decide to do something about our national epidemic of gun violence? What will it take before the gun lobby joins with the rest of us in truly trying to prevent at least some of the avoidable and preventable shootings of and by children? Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. They are not toys or just an average consumer product. One of the things we recognize in this country is that safety and health measures need to be in place to protect our children from harm. If this means that more people come to understand the risks of having guns in their homes, we may actually manage to save some lives.

But the NRA and others in the corporate gun lobby ignore those risks because their messaging is all about the fear and paranoia of not having a gun in the home or strapped to your waist at all times. Young families with children are led to believe that without a gun in the home, they won’t be safe from whatever the heck people are afraid of. Burglaries? Most occur when home owners are not at home. Gangs?Zombies? The government? A crazy relative? Actual home invasions are frightening for sure and there are people who have stopped them with a gun. These incidents are more rare than children with access to loaded guns shooting themselves or others.

You may remember that I commented in my last post that not one of my readers made a comment about all of the accidental discharges of guns by law abiding gun owners or the access to a gun provided by a parent or family member, presumably a law abiding gun owner. That’s because those in the gun rights crowd want their loaded guns at the ready at all times and if locked up securely where kids and burglars can’t get them, they may not be available at that instant when someone comes to take away your guns or tries to break into your home. Which is the greater risk?

And further problems for the NRA, though they don’t see it that way, is that the term corporate gun lobby is employed by those of us in the gun violence prevention community for a very good reason. Check out the huge check for $600,000 donated by Smith and Wesson to the NRA for employee benefits. Follow the money.

Other things to watch for this week-end:

“Well, if I were in charge,” she continued, as the audience erupted in applause at the prospect, “they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

She criticized the administration for pursuing a national security strategy that, in her estimation, pokes “our allies in the eye, calling them adversaries, instead of putting the fear of God in our enemies.”

Palin also rallied the pro-gun audience to continue protecting their right to bear arms, saying their efforts are “needed now more than ever because every day, we are seeing more and more efforts to strip away our Second Amendment rights.”

Good grief.

Every year the NRA convention highlights the total lack of common sense when it comes to gun policy and our American gun culture. I’m sure this year will not disappoint.