I have updated and edited this post since I first posted it.
Easter is now past and Passover is being celebrated this week. I attended a wonderful church service at a church attended by my son and his family before we had Easter brunch. It was an uplifting, celebratory service in a church filled to the brim as they often are at this Christian holiday. The pastors told several relevant stories of the season based on the Biblical accounts of the resurrection. I looked around at the families and was feeling thankful for this chance to celebrate my own faith with others who believe in similar values to mine.
I would have been horrified to think that one of those folks sitting there with their families was carrying a gun at the church. There are just some places where guns should not be. Church is one. Places where families and children gather are another. And that, actually, makes for most places where the gun lobby has managed to convince too many bought and paid for legislators that guns are “needed.” Facts don’t support this “logic.” But the gun rights advocates tell stories that don’t make sense and are actually unbelievable to instill fear and paranoia into legislators and the potential gun buying public. We need true stories and actual research in order to make informed decisions about important public safety measures such as preventing gun violence.
We were collecting information to answer the question of who, what, where, when, and how did shootings occur?
We were finding that most homicides occur between people who know each other, people who are acquaintances or might be doing business together or might be living together. They’re not stranger-on-stranger shootings. They’re not mostly home intrusions.
We also found that there were a lot of firearm suicides, and in fact most firearm deaths are suicides. There were a lot of young people who were impulsive who were using guns to commit suicide.
No wonder the gun lobby doesn’t like this research. It blows a hole in their messaging and story telling.
Let’s look at just a few of the many incidents in the past week or so. It’s impossible for me to get them all into one blog post. Remember- about 80 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries in gun suicides, homicides and “accidental” shootings. I don’t make this stuff up. OK- a partial list:
4 are dead in a Tulsa, OK domestic shooting- a murder/suicide. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?
A Georgia woman fired shots at her son in an argument. Accidental? Hmmm. Good women with a gun or bad woman with a gun?
“Someone” fired a gun off in an Indiana apartment sending a bullet through the floor into the apartment below. The bullet just missed the resident in the apartment below. Lucky for the person who fired the shot off. Lucky for the man sitting on his couch minding his own business. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?
A Wisconsin man with a Utah concealed carry permit fired shots at a police officer in Nashville, Tennessee the other day. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?
Also in Wisconsin, a gun permit holder has twice left her loaded gun in the washroom of her church and not been charged for reckless behavior. I love this quote from the article:
Grieve also represented Hitchler’s husband, Gerald Hitchler. He left his loaded handgun in the men’s room of the Egg Harbor Fun Park in August. Sheriff’s officials and prosecutors reviewed the incident, but did not charge Gerald Hitchler.
Nik Clark, president of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., a gun rights advocacy group, said his group was puzzled why the DA’s office “didn’t re-examine their pursuit of charges after the first charge was dismissed.”
He also said the case “demonstrates the fundamental level of discrimination that exists in society today with respect to firearms.” He said power tools, lighters and poisons all cause more child deaths that unattended guns, yet no one would be charged for leaving those items in a restroom.
Good grief. What is the matter with these people? Are these good folks with guns or bad folks with guns?
Here, now, is an actual bad guy with a gun who allowed access to a gun he shouldn’t have to a 2 year old who shot and badly injured himself in a North Carolina home. This one is a case for “where did he get his gun?” This is a totally avoidable and preventable shooting. And another family is affected by the devastation of gunshot injuries and this incident can be added to the many others involving child access to loaded guns provided by adults.
This is getting long but I’m adding another shooting that just came to my attention. A supposed New York”good guy” with a gun shot his wife, her son and himself because he felt disrespected. That’s a good reason to kill 3 people, right? This doesn’t happen with knives, ropes, or some other methods of death. It’s all too easy with a gun.
And oops- one more. In Georgia a “good guy” with a gun thought he heard a coyote and fired his gun ( he said “accidentally”) but the bullet grazed a 5 year old boy. Is this a “good guy” or a “bad guy”? I’m just asking.
A Pennsylvania man was “test firing” a gun in the basement of his home where kids were gathered. A bullet “accidentally” discharged, hitting a 9 year old in the head leaving him in serious condition. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?
What kind of “good guys” with guns are these? Or for that matter, any of the incidents I write about in this post today. Did these “good guys” need their guns to defend from “bad guys” with guns? The answer is a resounding NO. Guns are risky business. That is becoming more and more obvious, as if it already was not. But the gun rights extremists who believe in the mantra of “more guns everywhere for everyone” and the fear and paranoia coming from the corporate gun lobby, convince our legislators that passing any law will infringe on their rights. They are telling false stories to keep their power, influence and profit. Do these folks have a right to shoot off their guns wherever they are and get away with shooting someone else or almost shooting someone else by their negligence? Is this the “God given” right we are talking about?
I want to talk about what’s going on in the world of guns and gun extremists. The one that’s making the rounds amongst the gun violence prevention folks on blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds is a quote from a Tennessee legislator when asked what he thought about a bill to allow loaded guns in parks:
Well, in Tennessee there’s currently a push by the state legislature to allow guns in state parks. Prior to an NRA convention in Nashville, state Rep. Glen Casada was questioned about this push in his state and what he would think about a child being struck and killed by a stray bullet while playing in one of these parks. His answer? If that were to happen, those would just be “acts of God.” He also went on to suggest that a child is just as likely to get killed in a bicycle accident as they are by a gun, claiming that if a gun is “used properly” it’s no more dangerous than a bike.
“Acts of God…” Really? I guess if you can’t blame anything else, you can just blame God for those nasty “accidental gun discharges.” I mean, these are the folks who believe God granted them their rights to own guns in the first place. Think about this for a minute or two. And if you do, you will, of course, conclude that is not possible. But I guess thinking through to logical conclusions based on fact is just not part of the discussion for some folks.
Speaking of “acts of God”and gun discharges, a gun permit holder in Altoona, PA “accidentally” discharged his loaded gun while attending a church service. I don’t make this stuff up. The first question about this incident is why the man was pulling his gun out of his pocket while attending a mass in a church? I’m sure God would love to know that people think they need guns while worshiping because……… well, because……… Hmmm. Sorry. Can’t think of one reason why someone needs a gun in church. But what makes common sense is just not part of the discussion for some folks. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?
There is new information about the man who was involved in this incident. From this article:
The gun owner involved in an accidental shooting at a cathedral in Altoona is the same man who was expelled from Mount Aloysius College last week for bringing a gun inside a classroom. Charges were not filed in the Mount Aloysius incident, and charges have not been filed in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament incident, so 6 News is choosing not to release the man’s name. (…) That man reached out to 6 News and said he has a permit to carry and said the incident at the cathedral was an accident. He also confirmed he was the Mount Aloysius student who was expelled for bringing a gun into a classroom. The man said in this case, his shirt rode up, exposing his concealed weapon, and it was just an honest mistake. Police said he will not face charges for the Mount Aloysius incident, and there is no word yet if he will be facing charges in the church incident.
Excuse me, but, as Rachel Maddow says, “bullpucky”.
Were the people who died, were injured or suffered a narrow miss with a bullet involved in “acts of God”? Because if they were, according to some folks who boldly and falsely make this claim, there is nothing we can do about any of these shootings. And that, dear readers, is exactly what the gun lobby wants you to think. Doing nothing is better than infringing on their “God given” rights. People dying? No problem. It’s the price of a constitutional right. It’s also the price of a gun culture gone wrong.
As you might expect, the bishop of the Pennsylvania church has spoken out against guns in his churches. From the article:
“Many people understandably have questions about what would prompt an individual to carry a gun into the Cathedral,” Bishop Bartchak said in a statement released Monday by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. “I would like to take this opportunity to state my firm belief that guns have no place in our Cathedral or any of the other parishes in our Diocese. Our churches must be an environment in which all feel safe to worhip the Lord and celebrate our Catholic faith.”
Amen to that. This is just common sense.
We’ve got it wrong in America. We’ve got it backwards. Gun rights are not inalienable. Gun rights come with responsibilities. People who own guns need to be trained and safely secure them from kids and others who should not have them. They should have to go through a background check for every sale to make sure they are “law abiding” citizens. Just like we require training, licensing and background checks for most every other thing going on in our country, guns and their owners or prospective owners should be no different. Do we want to trust our kids at a daycare to just anyone- a felon maybe or a domestic abuser or sexual predator? You know the answer. Background checks are required. Do you trust your financial advisor or accountant with your money and personal financial information? Do you expect that person to be free of a criminal background? Of course you do. Do you expect that people who drive on the same roads as you do to have a license and have had driver’s training? You know the answer. Do you expect the people who teach your kids to be properly vetted and licensed in their field? Do you expect law enforcement officers to be well trained in handling firearms and for the job they do every day to protect us and enforce the laws? Do you expect your lawyer to be trained and not to be felons or sexual predators?
In other gun hypocrisy, the NRA convention is coming up this month in Nashville:
A multilevel security plan went into works not long after Nashville was chosen as the convention destination. All guns on the convention floor will be nonoperational, with the firing pins removed, and any guns purchased during the NRA convention will have to be picked up at a Federal Firearms License dealer, near where the purchaser lives, and will require a legal identification.
This organization is pushing guns at the rest of us in places where we hang out to shop, learn, eat, work and play ( playgrounds, parks, etc.) but not in their own convention? Come on. I don’t make this stuff up. What are they so afraid of? I thought they loved their guns and loved to carry them around with them everywhere they go. Is it that they aren’t afraid of other people like themselves? Is it that they actually understand that if a whole bunch of gun carriers are walking around in one place, safety will be compromised? It is because someone might get angry at one of the many “illustrious” speakers like Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush, Mike Pence, and others and take a shot? Or what is it? I’d love to know. In addition, they are telling people they will have to pass a background check in order to buy/order guns at the convention and pick them up at a federally licensed firearms dealer near their home. Really? I thought that was terribly inconvenient for these folks.
Hypocrisy as far as the eye can see. There is absolutely no common sense when it comes to the gun lobby’s safety policies for themselves and their total resistance to the same for the rest of us. In fact, there are no loaded guns allowed at gun shows. Occasionally an “accidental” discharge occurs in spite of this safety measure. Like here or this one. Did you know that guns are not allowed for visitors to the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia? Yes, it’s true. Who don’t they trust? Staff can carry but anyone else, no. So this organization pushes for visitors to schools, malls, hospitals, college campuses, state legislatures. national parks, etc. to carry guns but at their own headquarters? Nope. From the article:
She told me that the security guards at the front desk were unarmed, but that visitors were not allowed to bring weapons into the building (except to their posh firing range, which has a separate entrance). Doesn’t that leave the visitors at a bit of an disadvantage, I asked, and we had a bit of a chuckle about that. I was too chicken to ask her whether that policy was inconsistent with the NRA’s present philosophy that seems to encourage shoot-outs.
So there you have it. The NRA staff is armed, while visitors are disarmed.
Well, There you have it. People are being shot every day by “law abiding” citizens intentionally or unintentionally and the NRA claims that more guns make us safer. And then they don’t allow guns in their convention or at their own headquarters.
Let’s look at one of the most hypocritic of quotes from Mr. Wayne LaPierre of the NRA made after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Below is a video of this now famous speech:
This Facebook page (Parents Against Gun Violence) is keeping tracks of the shootings every month and the reasons for the shootings. Please read (below)and then raise your hand if you agree with Mr. LaPierre ( above) that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”:
On the Facebook page you can see links to the actual stories about these incidents. No one made them up. So there you have it. The hypocrisy of the corporate gun lobby and the gun rights extremists is “alive” and well. Meanwhile, too many Americans are not alive thanks to gunshot injuries or are suffering the long term affects from gunshot injuries while the gun lobby opposes any and all measures to reduce the carnage. It’s well past time to do something about this national public health and safety epidemic. Please join me in efforts to keep our communities safe from devastating gun violence.