Blogging for gun safety reform and changing the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. Common sense gun laws and gun safety reform and gun rights are not mutually exclusive.
I have been a writer for the Kid Shootings blog which has now remained silent for a while. Those of us writing could not keep up with all of the shooting incidents along with everything else we were doing. But today I noticed a number of incidents that I wanted to write about.
The first is the shooting of a South Dakota school principal by a student. Luckily for all, the principal only sustained a minor injury. It could have been much worse for all concerned. As more details come out we will learn where the boy got the gun. A good guess is that he got it at home. The Brady Center’s report, The Truth About Kids and Guns found that 2/3 of school shooters get their guns in their own home or the home of a relative. This is not OK. Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult. Kids can’t buy or own guns, thank goodness. They are just not responsible enough to handle guns. Too many adults are irresponsible with their guns- why would we believe kids would be any safer?
The parents of this boy should be having a lot of thoughts right around now. Will they change what they think about gun safety reform? Will common sense happen? Time will tell.
Jake, he said, was special to his mother. “She loved him more than anything in the world,” Ryan told KOIN 6 News.
The night of the shooting, Ryan said he got some strange texts from Dianne. So he called Jake.
His last words, Ryan said, were, “Dad. Come.”
There was screaming in the background, he said, and he tried to get there – but it was too late.
Too late indeed. It is always too late. The mother was unstable and “broken” according to the father ( they were divorced). This is a case for the passage of a gun violence restraining order law so that family members can make sure people like this mother can’t access guns or can have them taken from her.
We can’t get these lives back. It’s too late. It’s past time to be talking about solutions to our epidemic of gun violence in America. At the least we can make attempts to keep guns away from people who can be dangerous with them and who we know should not have them. There are just some people who should not have guns- period. Until our elected leaders do what they know is right, kids will shoot other kids or teachers or their parents or themselves and parents may even shoot their own kids.
The corporate gun lobby is lying to people when they make claims that guns make them safer. It is simply not true. It’s time to challenge this faulty assertion and call them out for their deceptions in the name of profits for the gun industry. Saving lives comes before making profits.
Our kids are our future. They are future stars- future leaders- future teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, Presidents, elected officials, law enforcement officers- and professions we have not even thought about. We will be gone from this world by the time some of these kids are responsible adults. What kind of world do we want for them? What will be our legacy? Will we leave them with safer communities or with the violence that is far too common today? I know what my answer is.
The Pope was right when he said in his remarks to Congress that: “We have to ask ourselves why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, we all know, is simply for money, money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”
When the aim of the gun industry is to sell as many weapons as possible to make a profit, it’s too easy to look the other way when the daily carnage is reported in our media. They must not believe it has anything to do with them or their businesses. And maybe it doesn’t. Selling guns is a business like other businesses. The difference is, what they are selling are deadly weapons designed to kill human beings. One has to wonder what a gun dealer is thinking when someone comes in and buys 2, 3, 4 handguns or an assault rifle at one time. Do they believe this person will be careful and responsible with that gun(s) and not kill themselves or their wife, partner, child or a relative or friend? How can we know?
What if we actually had a much more rigorous process of deciding who should be able to walk out of a gun store with a gun or two? What if we had a waiting period after a gun sale so someone who does mean harm to themselves or someone else can cool down for a while? What if we required a background check on all gun sales to make darned sure that everyone who buys a gun is a legal and responsible person? What if we didn’t allow the sale of multiple guns at a time? What if we cracked down on straw purchasing and gun trafficking by strengthening our laws? What if we had stronger laws about who can actually carry loaded weapons in public- and where they can carry them? What if families could report someone they love to law enforcement because they are pretty sure that person is about to do harm to someone? What if we required smart gun technology and/or trigger locks and safe storage so small children, teens and thieves couldn’t pull the trigger accidentally or on purpose on a gun they shouldn’t have?
But, alas, we are living in a country where the headlines look like the ones I am going to highlight below.
Philip Quinn knew he needed help. After recently telling St. Paul hospital staff that he planned to kill himself, Quinn tried to get into a long-term treatment program to address his schizophrenia and other mental health difficulties.
But Thursday night in St. Paul’s West End, Quinn’s long struggle with mental illness ended when police, responding to a call of a suicidal man, shot and killed the 30-year-old, who was armed with a screwdriver and had failed to obey police commands. (…)
Quinn had been released from St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul last week after being treated for a mental health concern, Tareeq said. While there, he told medical staff that he had a plan to hurt himself, she said. After returning home, he started telling Tareeq that “things weren’t making sense” to him, she said. (…)
Philip Quinn’s troubles are well-documented.
He floated in and out of the criminal justice system for years — his record includes convictions for auto theft, drugs and possession of a firearm by an ineligible felon, among other offenses. But a 2013 jailhouse letter indicated that he sought help for his demons and hoped to regain a foothold in the civilian world.
“… I’m trying to get my life back on track before I am released,” he wrote, asking a hearing officer to vacate fines in 10 citations for low-level offenses.
Quinn was released from prison in March, with supervision for a 2012 gun conviction.
In that case, Quinn had been arrested during a police investigation into the sale of guns and methamphetamine. He was initially found mentally incompetent to stand trial, but the decision was later reversed. While in prison, his brother said, Quinn once to tried to cut himself.
This was a troubled man who had been arrested and charged with illegal possession of a gun and drugs. Clearly he should have had more help. Some in the gun rights community believe we should do more with our mental health system. They are right. But we shouldn’t just deal with mental health issues and ignore the gun violence issue. And dealing with our mental health system will require all hands on deck and funding. It’s not easy to do. In this case, the man was armed with a screw driver and not a gun. One has to wonder what kind of damage may have been done had he had a gun instead of a screw driver.
One man was dead and another was injured late Friday in Minneapolis in a shooting, police said.
The shooting happened about 10:35 p.m., according to authorities, who were alerted by the city’s ShotSpotter system.
When officers arrived, they found the dead man in front of a residence as well as a number of people in the area, police said in a statement early Saturday.
Among that group, the officers found the wounded man, who had been shot in a foot, the statement said. An ambulance took the hurt man to North Memorial Medical Center.
Another 4 dead and one injured in the course of 2 days in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. This on top of the 9 dead and one injured in the previous week as I wrote about in the above linked previous post on this blog.
Now what? Will we just watch as the shootings continue? Or will we take action and think about the words of the Pope in his visit to our country? We are the only country in the world that allows such awful and devastating carnage to continue unabated without taking immediate action. The gun lobby has an outsized and ludicrous influence on our political system that makes no common sense. It is way past time to act in the name of our moral values, our duty to provide safety, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to the citizens of our communities. For the sake of our children and our future as a country, we just have to be better than this. Pope Francis was trying to tell us something and asked an important question.
The Pope openly criticized arms manufacturers, referring to Christians who manufacture or invest in weapons as hypocritical. “It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?” Pope Francis said at his speech in Turn, Italy, reports Reuters. (…) According to a report conducted by The Guardian, Italy averages 11.9 firearms per 100 people. The United States, on the other hand, has the world’s highest average at 88 guns per 100 people. The number of gun homicides is also relatively low in Italy, with 0.71 per 100,000 people compared to 2.97 per 100,000 people in the U.S. In the U.S., the pope’s negative comments about gun manufacturers might not have been received so warmly.
And finally, from the linked article above regarding the Pope and gun violence:
As Obama mentioned in his recent appearance on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, gun sales often spike following tragedies like the one that occurred in South Carolina on June 17.
Ironically, the president mentioned, gun manufacturers benefit from high-profile mass murders due to citizens’ fears that gun rights may be revoked.
In the U.S., despite repeated instances of mass gun violence, it’s unlikely gun control laws will significantly change any time soon. Considering the pope’s influence in nations around the world, his outspoken comments about the violent nature of guns may continue. Perhaps at least the 69.4 million Catholics in the U.S. — 22 percent of the overall population — will heed his words.
The Pope can have a powerful influence and let’s hope his visit here will lead our religious leaders to get more involved and take action. Will we listen to the Pope’s words and will we answer his questions?
There really aren’t adequate words for the stupidity of some of our gun owning Americans. It seems that we are beyond being able to legislate common sense for some “law abiding gun owners.” Even changing the conversation may not be enough to stop some of the stupid and dangerous things that happen with guns. There are over 300 million guns circulating or sitting around in this country. It is inevitable that bad things will happen with so many weapons designed to kill people ( or animals when used for legal hunting purposes) in the hands of so many people. We lack adequate training and the accompanying respect that should come with the awesome responsibility of owning and/or using a gun for any purpose. Instead, our insane gun culture results in the daily carnage that takes the lives of human beings. And it comes with unbelievable incidents with guns that just shouldn’t be happening and don’t happen anywhere else in the world without “second amendment rights.”
With rights come responsibilities. Too often that is forgotten once a gun is in hand. And things happen quickly without the lack of respect and responsibility that should be automatic. With lax gun laws and a corporate gun lobby encouraging anyone and everyone to own a gun with few restrictions and no training, too many people lack the common sense that comes with other potentially dangerous products. Driving a car comes with mandatory training, a permit, a licensing test, registration of the vehicle, traffic laws, following safety laws like wearing seat belts, penalties for not following the law and being able to have the money to buy a car.
Not so with guns. But let’s get to the point of this post.
Bald Knob Police Chief Erek Balentine is resigning, saying he feels that doing so will better the safety of his family.
His announcement of resignation comes just days after his truck was vandalized overnight. The phrase “2 Amendment” was written in spray paint on the sides of the vehicle.
The gun rights advocates believe they should be able to carry their guns anywhere and the carry laws (often written by the gun lobby) are obtuse and vague purposely. As a result, the gun rights extremists challenge laws all over our country to make a point. And officers of the law and the public are left to try to interpret the laws the best they can. In Arkansas, because of the case of the arrest of a man open carrying in a McDonald’s, there is still confusion over the law. Until we figure out how to tell a “good guy” with a gun from a “bad guy” with a gun, this will continue. Can we tell the difference? Shootings happen in public places often enough that it’s natural for the public, business owners and law enforcement officers to assume the worst. That is the problem with allowing carrying of guns in public places. The second amendment was written at a time that did not anticipate this kind of use of guns.
When someone goes so far as burning the truck of a police chief because they disagree with him on gun rights we have a serious problem- it’s called insurrectionism. It’s dangerous and more than stupid.
A man who tried to shoot seven puppies was shot himself when one of the dogs put its paw on the revolver’s trigger. Jerry Allen Bradford, 37, was being treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to his wrist.
Bradford said he decided to shoot the 3-month-old shepherd-mix dogs in the head because he couldn’t find them a home, according to the sheriff’s office.
On Monday, Bradford was holding two puppies — one in his arms and another in his left hand — when the dog in his hand wiggled and put its paw on the trigger of the .38-caliber revolver. The gun then discharged, the sheriff’s report said.
First of all, couldn’t the guy find a home from these puppies? Why shoot them at all? But- guns. As someone remarked on my Facebook page, ” Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad puppy with a gun.” Ludicrous stuff. Another comment on this article on Facebook was, “Guns don’t kill people, puppies do.”
To wrap this up, what I’m writing here is that too many things can go wrong when guns are present. Every day, too many people die from gunshot injuries- most of them totally avoidable and senseless. But since our gun culture is so embedded in our political system, we just can’t seem to loosen the hold the gun lobby has. When that happens, I expect that we will, at long last, do the right thing and pass laws to prevent at least some of our gun injuries and deaths.
Last Sunday, my minister said that the world is both beautiful and scary in a sermon relating to one of the readings of the day. She is so right. Most of the time, I find the world to be beautiful. In spite of my family’s having dealt with the domestic shooting of my sister, we have all moved on the best we could living around the hole left by my sister’s death. Life seems beautiful and we are lucky for that.
But then something happens to bring the grief and sadness to the surface again. Recent shootings, especially the very public shooting of 2 reporters in Virginia, brought those scary feelings back instantly. Gun violence is so unexpected and violent. Thoughts of a loved one experiencing that horror, pain, violence and fear are hard to push back down again. People die from auto accidents, household accidents, diseases, and sometimes by homicide. But gun deaths for the most part are so senseless and preventable.
So maybe we should all put our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. We could roll ourselves up in a ball and move on. But many of us have not done that. We have made ourselves advocates for preventing the awful effects of gun violence on other families. So I read. I act. I write. I talk.
The daily news of gun incidents is hard to ignore. But it’s important to keep writing and talking. Most people become numbed to the issue and just want to live their lives without thinking about gun violence. But just as with auto accidents, diseases and other causes of injury and death the majority of parents do what they can to keep their families safe and healthy. Gun safety reform and awareness of the dangers of guns should be a part of the safe and healthy life styles that we all practice . We, as adults, will not be here forever. Our children will be around longer than us and we owe it to them to keep them safe and teach them healthy habits. We should do #WhatEverItTakes. When 8 children a day are dying from gun homicides, suicides or accidents, we can’t take it lightly. And many more are injured and suffer life long disabilities and/or emotional distress.
Earl Carswell said Sunday’s incident could have been much worse.
“If (Minter) had been aiming, and wasn’t somebody pulling on him, he could have killed three, four or five folks,” Carswell said. “But thank the Lord he got pulled off. As soon as that gun appeared, they grabbed a hold of it.”
Despite struggling with several churchgoers, Carswell said Minter was able to squeeze off seven rounds.
“Bullets don’t got any sense, they just go whichever way,” he said. “It could have been a hairy thing quick, I mean sure enough.”
(…) “When I think about it (today), I get jittery,” he said.
Jackson said he believes residents “are still in shock that something like this could happen in Selma.
This is probably the first church shooting we have had, but unfortunately this is the world we live in now,” he continued. “Church used to be off limits, even to the worst criminals, as far as committing a crime in the church. Now times have changed.”
Carswell said he has lived in Selma for 61 years and many churchgoers have been known to carry guns into worship service. Carswell said himself carried one into church for 10 years.
“This is the first time anyone has ever pulled it and even showed it,” he said.
“…. but unfortunately this is the world we live in now.”” Yes. It’s unfortunate but not inevitable. It’s hard to believe that this is the first time there has been a problem with guns in worship services in Selma given that people have been carrying guns into churches for years. Why? Why are guns needed during church services? What are people scared of in church? Church services are mostly beautiful and peaceful or joyous. If we are scared of people with guns coming into churches, it’s because we, as a country, have allowed our laws to be weakened to the point of allowing guns in our churches.
And why is that when people “snap” it’s a gun that they turn to to “solve” their problems?
Our gun culture encourages almost everyone to own and carry guns and we don’t make serious attempts to stop people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them. When someone like the man in the Selma church “snaps” a gun changes everything in an instant from normal, beautiful, calm, happy,…. to scary. The shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston was scary not only because 9 people were shot but because of the shooter’s motives. He was associated with white supremacists and had racist sentiments. The recent fomenting of racism and anti-Muslim statements made by Republican Presidential candidates is making our world scarier. Combined with people who shouldn’t be able to own guns, we have a potential “perfect storm”.
Part of this is the consequence of a culture of guns that is based on fear of others who are not like us and fear of others with guns. It’s a vicious circle.
Bullets don’t have any sense of course as is mentioned in the above linked article. That’s the point. They have trajectories that can be predictable or not. Guns with bullets in them are dangerous and people who carry guns and own them can become dangerous in a split second.
Speaking of becoming dangerous in a split second, we really do need to have a very serious discussion immediately about kids bringing guns to school. Going to school should be a positive experience. We all know that is not the case for all children given their race, religion, home life experiences, intellect, etc. Many factors can make learning difficult for some. But school, at least, is supposed to be a safe place. Not so any more. From this article in The Trace, we learn that:
Since the school year began roughly one month ago, there have been at least 29 incidents in which elementary, middle school, and high school students were caught bringing firearms to school, according to a survey of media reports. Most have involved teenagers.
This bears repeating- “…there have been at least 29 incidents in which elementary, middle school, and high school students were caught bringing firearms to school....” Very frightening. What are we going to do to keep our kids and students safe? Every gun in the hands of a child or teen must first pass through the hands of an adult. What in the world are adult gun owners thinking? The problem appears to be that people have such a cavalier attitude towards guns that they don’t seem to realize how dangerous they are. Guns are mostly not used for self defense. When will we get this into our collective heads? When will we stop listening to the gun lobby who tells people the opposite?
Scary to say the least. And the problem comes from easy access to guns. We now have more guns around than ever before. It is inevitable that they will make it into the wrong hands. There is just no common sense to our gun culture and our gun laws.
Yesterday I took a little time away from the cares of the world and this blog and gun violence prevention. I drove up along the North Shore of Lake Superior on a gorgeous day to enjoy the beauty of the nature around me. I was not scared of anyone or anything. I saw no guns. I saw no one who looked like they were scared about some idiot with a gun in the parking lot or along the trail. What I saw was people enjoying the beautiful day with cameras carried instead of guns. Thanks goodness most people don’t carry guns or feel the need to own them. At least not where I live. And not the people with whom I am friends. And if they do have guns, they use them mostly for hunting in the beautiful woods that are all around my area of northern Minnesota. Not only do people hunt, they love the beauty of the woods in the fall and the sport of hunting.
Until we get to the point of of a serious national discussion about the dangers of guns, even for “law abiding” gun owners, the incidents I read and write about will continue. The corporate gun lobby is aiding and abetting our insane gun culture to boost sales and preserve a narrative that is just not based on the truth. Maybe some of those folks should take a walk in the woods and enjoy the beauty around them instead of thinking of ways to sell guns.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote an editorial that appeared in today’s version of the paper. The editorial focused on the latest round of shootings in downtown Minneapolis that left 9 people injured and one dead last week-end. I wrote about this in a previous post. From the editorial piece:
That’s a different kind of crime-fighting challenge, city officials said during a City Council Public Safety Committee this week. And, as one pointed out, combating it involves a strong focus on gun access — using current laws to prevent violent criminals from getting guns, prosecuting them to the maximum when they possess and use guns, and expanding efforts to take more firearms out of circulation.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and downtown police Inspector Mike Kjos said they are looking at additional traffic-flow and business-hour changes, understanding that those strategies only go so far. Therefore, doubling down on access to firearms can make a difference. It’s far too easy for those who intend to inflict harm to get guns. And once caught and convicted on gun charges, too many of them are back on the streets too soon. As Freeman noted, his office, the various law enforcement agencies and downtown stakeholders must continue to work together to bring brazen offenders to justice.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There is an answer staring us in the face but our leaders are ignoring it. It’s clear that easy access to guns in our communities is causing senseless shootings and deaths and injuries. There really is no argument about it. Preventing easy access to guns has to be a solution. In an interesting article that came to may attention, Chicago criminals serving time were asked where they got their crime guns. From the article:
A survey of inmates in Chicago suggests most criminals don’t steal guns. Instead they get them from family or people they know.
“There are a number of myths about how criminals get their guns, such as most of them are stolen or come from dirty dealers. We didn’t find that to be the case,” says Philip J. Cook, a professor of public policy, economics and sociology at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.
What the study found is that at least these criminals got their guns from their friends. (Where did their friends get their guns?) They didn’t try to buy them from a gun dealer. Why? They would likely not pass a background check and would be turned away. They didn’t steal them, though many crime guns do come from thefts of guns of law abiding gun owners. Though some of the guns come from straw purchases, many of the guns in the Chicago area came from out of state from someone who was able to get guns and bring them in to sell on the street. More from this article:
“This research demonstrates that current federal and local regulations are having a big effect on the availability of guns to criminals in Chicago,” he adds. “They can’t buy their guns from stores, the way most people do, and are instead largely constrained to making private deals with acquaintances, who may or may not be willing and able to provide what they want.
“Other studies we have done have found that in many cases criminals go without guns because they don’t know how to get one. We conclude that current enforcement is somewhat effective, and devoting more resources to enforcement would further constrain gun access by dangerous people.”
There’s a theme here. When there is easy access to guns for those who shouldn’t have them, shootings will likely happen. Crime will happen. People will die. Our streets will be less safe.
And laws matter. Just as laws matter for speeding, access to tobacco products, drunk driving and other public health and safety matters, gun laws do matter. But we need to expand the laws we have to include requiring background checks on ALL gun sales. Why wouldn’t we? Speeding laws include everyone. No one is immune. Everyone is required to wear a seatbelt. Access to tobacco products includes everyone. No one is excluded. Safety laws for baby cribs don’t exclude certain companies. Everyone has to go through the TSA screening before boarding a plane. No one is excluded. There is not a separate line for some people. All medicine containers now have safety caps that make it hard for kids to open. Even adults have problems opening these bottles. Not one is exempt. All are included. If people or companies don’t follow the laws, there are penalties and responsibilities for breaking them.
And sometimes the end result of not following the laws is senseless deaths and injuries. That is why we, as a country, do as much as we can to prevent that from happening. But gun laws are the exception. It’s simply not true that criminals just don’t follow gun laws as a rationale for not bothering to pass any. That is a flawed and false argument.
It’s way past time to address the problem of easy access to guns. It takes the shooting of 10 people in one night in downtown Minneapolis for the public’s and law enforcement’s attention to focus on the problem of guns. There are other things that contribute to the problem. But the guns must be addressed. It’s the only common sense argument.
At the urging of the gun lobby, however, most states have explicitly removed authority from local governments to regulate guns and ammunition, thereby creating a dangerous exception to the traditional rule of local authority.
State preemption statutes threaten public safety because they prevent local governments from implementing customized solutions to gun violence in their communities and impede their ability to fill regulatory gaps created by inaction at the state and federal level. Moreover, by mandating a one-size-fits-all approach to firearms regulation, preemption statutes deprive the public of a critical problem-solving resource: local innovation.
The gun lobby has managed to stop local communities from exercising local control- something they like for anything else ( as mostly conservatives). But when it comes to guns, not so much.
We can, as the article about where criminals get their guns, make sure young people in affected communities of color have more to do than wander our streets with guns.
In other words, we can do this. It is beyond unreasonable and ludicrous that we haven’t already tried to stop at least some of the 33,000 gun deaths a year in America.
“This is not any Second Amendment fight, it’s not for the soul of the country,” Cuomo said. “That’s a lot of baloney. Nobody’s trying to take anybody’s gun. I am a gun owner. I have been a gun owner. I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-gun for mentally ill people. I’m anti-gun for criminals.” (…)
Cuomo called on federal elected officials to summon the “guts and courage” to pass strict laws on the national level because of the guns that have flooded into New York from other states.
“The federal officials in my opinion are afraid of the political downside,” he said.
And he acknowledged he took a hit in popularity for the SAFE Act, passed in the wake of an elementary school shooting in Connecticut. The measure has angered gun-rights supporters and Republicans, especially upstate, and Cuomo’s popularity there has struggled to rebound.
“I paid the price. When I passed the law in New York, the people who were against any gun control got very, very angry at me and the don’t like me and they don’t vote for me,” Cuomo said. “I understand that. But, I was elected to do the right thing. The right thing is this nation needs a federal gun control policy.”
Thank you to Governor Cuomo for doing and saying the right thing. He does have the political courage to do the right thing in the face of strong resistance. That is what it will take in order to save lives. He gets it. Too many of our elected leaders don’t or won’t.
Shame on them all.
Strong laws, community responses to this concerning epidemic, public education and awareness about the risks of guns, enforcing the laws already on the books( which doesn’t preclude passing new ones), holding gun owners responsible for their own behavior, and many other measures, can make a difference. They have already made a difference in the states that have taken action and passes strong gun laws. The evidence is already in front of us.
Do we want to make a difference and make change happen? Or do we want to just have the status quo and let the corporate gun lobby be the deciding group in these important decisions? Do we want our elected leaders to listen to the majority of us who are concerned about our national public health and safety epidemic or will we let them get away with publicly announcing their adherence to the gun lobby’s view of the second amendment?
It’s time to do something and stand with the families of the 33,ooo victims of gunshot injuries. Who are we as a country if we fail our children and our communities in such a tragic way? We need to do #WhatEverItTakes.
Let’s ask our politicians to answer some serious questions about gun violence prevention. Then we can find out who is on the side of public health and safety and who is spouting the bogus arguments of the corporate gun lobby. Avoiding this serious epidemic should not be allowed by the media or the public. It’s time to stand up and ask the questions and get the answers the families of the many gun violence victims deserve.
It’s past time to look at ourselves in the mirror to see the insanity of our American gun culture. Looking carefully reveals all of the hypocrisy and misleading arguments presented to us by the corporate gun lobby and the gun rights extremists. How did this happen? Good question. We are experiencing an interesting time in our country. Take the Donald Trump phenomenon. The linked article likens Trump to a wrestler while everyone else is boxing. Interesting. As we know, professional wrestling has a lot of drama and fakiness to it compared to boxing. I can only be reminded of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and what that conjures up for this Minnesotan who lived through his term in office. In the linked article Ventura actually thinks about running again and maybe with Donald Trump. You just can’t make this stuff up.
It’s the fear and paranoia of government that is fueling the political system right now. The fact that Donald Trump, who has never held public office, has no experience with foreign policy or governing anything is surging in the polls should bring us up short. Do we really want someone running for President whose only platform is that he is the greatest and everyone else is stupid?
And what does this have to do with our gun culture? The extreme view of the second amendment that espouses the need for guns to protect oneself from the government and being ready to fight the government has been fueled by the gun lobby for decades. We now have Americans who are heavily armed and ready to fight against their own government. These people believe that their rights extend to allowing them and just about anyone for that matter, to carry their guns openly displayed and loaded, in public. They believe that they should be able to own as many guns as they want and any kind they want, including military style assault rifles.
And this view of the gun culture presents us with many fallacies and false arguments about the second amendment. I have written a lot about Mr. Wayne LaPierre’s lies about the right to bear arms:
When Swiss militia members complete their service they are allowed to keep their weapon once they’ve been approved for an acquisition permit and can prove they have justification for having it. Private ownership of guns, along with ammunition, is also allowed under an acquisition permit with certain restrictions, including against those with criminal records and history of addiction and psychiatric problems. And with a law worthy of Orwell’s worst nightmare, every gun in Switzerland is registered by the government.
The rate of gun deaths in the US doesn’t come anywhere close by comparison to that of Switzerland where the gun death rate is .77 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. at 2.97 even though there is a large gun ownership percentage.
If you’re a die-hard, red-meat internet trawler of course you’ve heard of Dana Loesch. She’s been a helpmate of Glenn Beck, hosts her own radio show and tweets away to a responsive and raucous crew. Of course she has all the right credentials to promote guns: makes sure you see that little Christian icon that she wears around her neck (stole the idea I suspect from Laura Ingraham), never lets you forget that she’s a good ol’ Southern gal and, in case you thought there was any chance she would let the slightest, liberal influence into her home life, she home-schooled her kids. It’s a masterful image, made expressly for red-meat consumption, and it figures that sooner or later she’d wind up pimping for the NRA. (…) As for Dana’s comments that she needs a gun to protect her family and her home, a bit of research reveals some facts that negate everything she says. A survey of 14,000 crime victims reveals that in less than 1% of the criminal attacks did the victim protect themselves with a gun. And when they did defend themselves, the number of victims who were injured was the same whether or not they had a gun. Want to know the real reason the ‘media’ doesn’t report all those home invasions where a woman defends her life and sacred honor with a gun? Because they account for less than 2% of all home invasions, that’s why.
I am pretty tired of fact free arguments and the sad fact that so many people are gullible enough to believe them. Either that, or they are paranoid and fearful enough to believe bogus arguments. We are being dumbed down. The fact that Donald Trump is so far ahead of his opponents is frightening and of great concern.
Donald Trump happens to believe in the bogus corporate gun lobby arguments. Trump waa asked about our gun culture after the horrific shooting of 2 Virginia journalists on live TV. He deflected the question by answering that we have to deal with our mental health system. He’s right about that one. But he offered no solutions nor do those who make this claim want to pony up the funding to actually do something about our broken mental health system. But in the end, that is the bogus argument to get people like Trump and other gun rights extremists off the hook when it comes to actually talking about the gun problem in the U.S. And Trump is singing the same tune as all of the Presidential candidates.
Bogus and shameful.
Trump makes up other stuff or just ignores the facts and spends his time attacking and complaining about an America we once had and can get back again. How will we “get America back” if we are ignoring one of our most serious public health and safety epidemics? Health care professionals are offering us the facts and the research but the bogus arguments from the right are drowning out the facts.
All I know is that common sense is seriously lacking in today’s world of politics in America. The facts are that 88 Americans a day are dying from gunshot injuries and we’re talking about sending Mexicans back to Mexico and keeping America great. What’s so great about a country that is allowing 32,000 plus Americans die from gun injuries?
I want an America where we talk openly and honestly about our problems and then try to solve them in a reasonable manner with research to back up the problems and the solutions. We don’t have that now, thanks to the far right and gun lobby resistance to dealing with the facts. In fact, attempts to do serious research on important issues of our time like the environment, health care, gun violence and others, is going backwards thanks to the far right according to this article. That really does have to change. I hope you will join with me and join one of the many organizations working on gun violence prevention and gun safety reform and make the changes we all deserve to be safe in our homes and our communities.
There is a Republican presidential primary debate tonight. Any bets on whether the issue of guns and what to do about all of the shootings comes up? If it does, take notes.
Warning- guns are hazardous to your health and safety. What about this have we failed to recognize or understand? It’s a conundrum but I do believe the public at least is beginning to pay attention. And if I and others keep alerting the public and our politicians about the dangers of guns and lax gun laws, something just has to change, doesn’t it? One thing I know is that we can work to change the politicians if they don’t change their resistance to gun safety reform measures. In just Minnesota alone in the past few days, we have had carnage and mayhem in our homes and streets.
According to someone at that site who posted on a page of which I am a member, there have been 400 murder/suicides in 2015. That’s more than one per day. If this isn’t enough to make your hair stand on end, I don’t know what is.
By my count, that’s 9 dead, 9 injured and 2 incidents of gun fire where no one got hurt. And that’s all in a few days’ time. Stunning and total lunacy.
So, what’s the solution to this public health and safety epidemic? We should begin with common sense. And we need to fight the mistaken and misleading assertions by the corporate gun lobby. It’s time to be strong and fight back with the facts, tell real stories about gun violence and expose the nonsensical arguments of the NRA and others in the gun lobby. A blog post from Mike the Gun Guy encourages those involved in gun violence prevention to take off the gloves. When lives are at stake and shootings are taking the lives of so many people, being polite about it doesn’t change anything. We need to be noisy and insist that our voices are heard. Time to get to work. Are you with me?
The father in a family of five found dead in their Greenwood home Thursday shot and killed his wife and three teenage children before turning the gun on himself, sources told the Star Tribune Friday.
Brian Scott Short, 45, killed his wife, Karen Anne Short, 48; and his three children, Cole, 17; Madison, 15, and Brooklyn, 14, in their mansion near Lake Minnetonka, the sources said. (…)
The South Lake Minnetonka police came upon the “unspeakable” scene while checking on the welfare of the family, whose members had not shown up for work or school for a couple of days. The five bodies bore traumatic injuries and were scattered throughout the large house on Channel Drive.
And what do people say? It was such a nice family. I can’t believe this happened in our peaceful suburban neighborhood. He seemed like such a good guy. How could this have happened? Yes. It happens. It’s America- the land of mass shootings. There has been one almost one a day this year. Many are not high profile like the Charleston shooting or the Aurora theater shooting or Sandy Hook. They are found in local media sources. They are often domestic in nature and often involve a murder/suicide. They happen because of the availability of guns not seen in any other first world country in the world.
In my last post I wrote about the high number of gun suicides in our country. In Minnesota it’s 80%. I wrote in the post before last about my friend who was coming from Vermont for our class reunion. Her husband shot and killed himself. He had some mental illness and had been struggling with it for years. I had a chance to talk to her about his death. As it turns out, my friend was also involved in a school shooting in the small school in Vermont where she taught. One was killed. It was a domestic shooting. The shooter came to shoot his girlfriend at the school where she worked.
Have we had enough of this insanity? When will it be enough? When can we talk about gun violence and the affect it has on our families and communities? When will we come to our senses?
At my class reunion, many know about the work that I do and are supporters. One man wanted to talk to me. He is a gun owner- a hunter. He got his permit to carry just because but he doesn’t carry a gun ever. He target shoots and he owns 10 guns.He believes in background checks for all guns sales and thinks we ought to have licensing and registration. He told me that he would give up his guns if that is what it takes to stop the insanity.
Where is common sense? It turns out that it’s everywhere but in the halls of Congress and our state houses. And that is just one problem. The rest is due to a gun culture that has spiraled out of control. When did this start my friend wanted to know? How did we get this way? Was it September 11th, 2001? Was it the election of President Obama? Is it the uptick of the fear and paranoia spewed by the gun rights extremists and the political far right? Is it the need for profit for the gun industry as sales decreased so passing new permit to carry laws or letting the assault weapons ban makes people think they must have shiny new guns?
I’m not sure. I just know that when we have this many mass shootings, something is terribly wrong. It’s senseless and tragic. Now a whole family is dead and the grief and affects of this are far reaching into the family of the victims and the entire community. Something needs to change.
I will end with this quote from the linked article:
“It is with great regret and a very heavy heart that I have to share some very sad news with you. There is no easy way to say this. … Brian and his family have been killed. The news is calling it an apparent murder-suicide. … No matter what the details are, the results are still the same … a very tragic loss for the extended families, friends, co-workers and this nursing community.”
This follow-up Star Tribune article indicates that there were possible mental health and financial problems that could have contributed to the shooting deaths of the Minnesota family.
In gun lore it’s known as the Revolt at Cincinnati. On May 21, 1977, and into the morning of May 22, a rump caucus of gun rights radicals took over the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association.
The rebels wore orange-blaze hunting caps. They spoke on walkie-talkies as they worked the floor of the sweltering convention hall. They suspected that the NRA leaders had turned off the air-conditioning in hopes that the rabble-rousers would lose enthusiasm.
The Old Guard was caught by surprise. The NRA officers sat up front, on a dais, observing their demise. The organization, about a century old already, was thoroughly mainstream and bipartisan, focusing on hunting, conservation and marksmanship. It taught Boy Scouts how to shoot safely. But the world had changed, and everything was more political now. The rebels saw the NRA leaders as elites who lacked the heart and conviction to fight against gun-control legislation. (…)
What unfolded that hot night in Cincinnati forever reoriented the NRA. And this was an event with broader national reverberations. The NRA didn’t get swept up in the culture wars of the past century so much as it helped invent them — and kept inflaming them. In the process, the NRA overcame tremendous internal tumult and existential crises, developed an astonishing grass-roots operation and became closely aligned with the Republican Party.
Today it is arguably the most powerful lobbying organization in the nation’s capital and certainly one of the most feared. There is no single secret to its success, but what liberals loathe about the NRA is a key part of its power. These are the people who say no.
And the rest is the result of how we got to where we are today.
A gun in the home makes a suicide three times more likely according, to a 28-page report released today by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Truth About Suicide and Guns finds that while gun ownership alone presents the greatest risk, when combined with the impulsive nature of suicide and the effectiveness of a gun, the combination is deadly. In fact, 71% of people who attempt suicide do so within an hour after making the decision. Further, death results 91% of the time when a gun is used because injuries are instantaneous and leave little time for medical intervention or for the victim to reconsider their decision.
“A gun in the home makes it too easy for someone to find a permanent and tragic solution to a temporary feeling. This report is not about the right to bear arms; it’s about arming people with facts,” said Brady Center President Dan Gross. “The facts are clear — there is one, surefire way to drastically reduce the number of Americans who die from suicide each year and, simultaneously, make American homes safer: Keep guns out of the home or store them safely.”
Suicide by gun has increased since 2007 which is affirmed by many reports. When I spoke to my own Police Chief, he confirmed that he had been seeing more local gun suicides. The report from Brady has some numbers:
A closer examination of the causes of these deaths reveals some important trends. Over the past decade, the rate of firearm homicide has continued a steady decline. At the same time, the firearm suicide rate has begun rising, increasing more than 13 percent between 2007 and 2013. The combination of these two trends is keeping the overall gun death rate essentially stagnant.
Access to firearms clearly increases the risk of suicide as the report highlights:
Intervention during this time of acute risk is key to saving lives. Most people who attempt suicide don’t really want to die, they are just so overwhelmed by their emotions they feel unable to cope. Indeed, the vast majority of people who make it through a suicidal crisis do not go on to die by suicide. A systematic review of 70 studies following patients after a non-fatal attempt found that, on average, only 7 percent (range: 5 to 11 percent) eventually died by suicide, whereas 70 percent did not attempt again.
A common misconception is that people who want to die will find a way to kill themselves, with or without a gun. However, studies suggest that the risk of method substitution is low. If a person’s preferred suicide method is unavailable, it is unlikely they will switch to a different one. Even if another method is used it is likely to be less lethal, thus increasing the odds of survival. (…)
Research has shown that reducing firearm availability can lead to reductions in firearm suicide rates. In one study, researchers measured the impact of changes in household firearm ownership on suicide rates in the United States between 1981 and 2002. They found that each 10 percent reduction in firearm prevalence was associated with significant declines in rates of firearm suicide (4.2 percent) and overall suicide (2.5 percent). The effect was even greater among children ages 0 to 19. A more recent study of suicide on college and university campuses between 2004 and 2009 revealed substantially lower suicide rates for students compared to all 20- to 24-yearolds. These differences were attributed to the ninefold decrease in firearm availability on campuses versus homes.
The availability of guns clearly makes a difference. Guns are more lethal than other methods of suicide and, as the report reveals, 90% of those who attempt suicide but fail don’t try again. So we can’t listen to those who say we shouldn’t deal with the risk of firearms since people will just use other means to kill themselves. It is simply not true based on the research.
As part of the release of this new report, a father speaks in a video about his 13 year old son who shot himself on impulse with a gun the father had forgotten he had in the house. Below is the story told by Farid Naib :
The harrowing fact of suicide demands a story: “Why?” But from a public health perspective, an equally illuminating question is “How?” Intent matters, but so does method, because the method by which one attempts suicide has a great deal to do with whether one lives or dies. What makes guns the most common mode of suicide in this country? The answer: They are both lethal and accessible. About one in three American households contains a gun. The price of this easy access is high. Gun owners and their families are much more likely to kill themselves than are non-gun-owners. A 2008 study by Miller and David Hemenway, HICRC director and author of the book Private Guns, Public Health, found that rates of firearm suicides in states with the highest rates of gun ownership are 3.7 times higher for men and 7.9 times higher for women, compared with states with the lowest gun ownership—though the rates of non-firearm suicides are about the same. A gun in the home raises the suicide risk for everyone: gun owner, spouse and children alike.
Guns are lethal weapons designed to kill. There is a risk to having them that must be discussed.
Stories are important if we are to change the conversation, change the culture of guns and change laws to save lives. As I wrote in my last post, this is what the gun lobby doesn’t like. Victims’ families are supposed to be quiet and not tell their stories. They are inconvenient and painful. It’s difficult to watch and listen to Naib’s story but if we are to make change, stories like his and the many others who have lost someone to a gun suicide must be told.
A friend who I met through my work at Protect Minnesota, has worked to call attention to gun suicides since her daughter used a gun to take her own life. I asked her for a statement and this is what she said:
Angela’s life did not have to end, along with so many others that have died from self inflicted gunshot wounds. If the legislatures listened to someone other than the NRA and the gun manufactures, if they had then Angela would be alive because at least one of the four hospital stays the last year of her life would have come out on a background check and she would not have been able to purchase a gun and use it to end her life.
The medications she was on where more regulated than the gun and bullet she used to end her life. In 2011 Angela was 1 of 19,900 people that committed suicide by gun, that number has grown every year. Every year 64% of gun violence deaths nationwide are suicide.
Please reach out to someone you know is struggling, if you are struggling please reach out to a friend or family member or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255.
Background checks are the most effective way to restrict access to firearms. An estimated 40 percent of gun sales in the United States are completed without background checks. “One of the conclusions of the study is consistent with a key observation Everytown made a year ago: that background check laws are associated with reduced rates of firearm injury and death including suicides,” said Ted Alcorn, Research Director, Everytown for Gun Safety. “Everytown’s research shows that in states with background check requirements, people are safer: controlling for population, there are 48 percent fewer gun suicides in states that require background checks for private handgun sales than in states that do not.”
In 2013 alone, 21,2175 people killed themselves with a firearm. That makes up 51 percent of all suicides from that year. (…)
Suicides involving firearms are fatal 85 percent of the time, compared with less than 3 percent for pills, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. “If someone in the home is contemplating suicide doesn’t have access to a firearm, it’s likely that they will be attempting with less lethal means,” said Everitt. “Ninety percent of people who survive an initial suicide attempt will not go on to complete another attempt. Being able to intervene after a potential first attempt is very important,” Everitt said.
There’s really no doubt about it. We can prevent some of our nation’s suicide deaths by passing stronger gun laws and making people aware of the risk of easily accessed loaded guns in homes.
Mass murder is a form of suicide in that the perpetrator of such atrocities is often an enraged and fatalistic individual who intends to die at the scene of the massacre. From this perspective, the increase in mass shootings over the last ten years is very consistent with the increase in suicide.
An example of a mass shooting that ended in multiple homicides and the suicide of the shooter was the Milwaukee area mass spa shooting which was also a domestic related shooting. The firearm was obtained without a background check through Armslist.com by the shooter. The result was 3 dead and 4 injured, including the wife of the shooter. The shooter couldn’t buy a gun through a licensed dealer because he was a domestic abuser. Easy access to guns makes these kind of shootings easier to accomplish.
So what can we do about this? From the Brady Center’s report:
Limiting access to firearms has been shown to reduce suicide rates in many countries outside the U.S., including Australia, Canada, Israel, and New Zealand. A study of the Israeli Defense Forces found that a change in policy, requiring firearms to be stored on base while soldiers took their weekend leave, resulted in a 40 percent decrease in suicide. Much of this decrease could be attributed to the policy change since the weekday suicide rate did not change significantly. Following a 1996 firearm massacre in which 35 people were killed, additional regulations were passed that made gun laws stronger and more uniform across Australia. The reforms included a ban on semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns, a national gun buyback program, registration of all guns, and background checks on all gun sales. Researchers found that the new gun laws accelerated the rate of decline for suicide by firearm, doubling it from 3 percent to 7.4 percent per year. (…)
A broad consensus exists among leading public health experts that means reduction is an essential component of any comprehensive suicide prevention strategy. According to the World Health Organization’s global report on suicide prevention, “Restriction of access to means plays an important role in suicide prevention, particularly in the case of suicides that are impulsive.” In the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a joint report issued by the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, one of the 11 goals outlined was to “promote efforts to reduce access to lethal means of suicide among individuals with identified suicide risk.”
We don’t have to shrug our shoulders and believe that there is nothing to be done or no solutions. There are. Take a look at these suggestions from the Brady report:
Considerable evidence links the presence of a firearm in the home with increased risk of adolescent suicide. A review of data from case-control studies reveals that adolescents who died by suicide were four to five times more likely to have a gun in the home, even after adjusting for potentially confounding variables, such as previous mental health problems. Although suicide and mental illness can be closely related, 40 percent of suicide completers under the age of 16 were found to have no known psychiatric disorder. For young people without mental illness, a loaded gun in the home was found to increase suicide risk 32 times.These data show that for many young people the availability of a gun in the home is the most significant predictor of suicide.
Educating parents about lethal means reduction should be an important part of any effort to prevent adolescent suicide. Many parents are unaware of the risks of having a gun in the home, particularly for older adolescents. Therefore, parents should be encouraged to store household firearms safely (locked and unloaded, with ammunition stored separately) or to remove them altogether. In one study, keeping guns locked and unloaded was found to have a protective effect, reducing odds of death by 73 percent and 70 percent, respectively. However, removing firearms from the home is the most reliable and most effective way to prevent youth suicide.
Brady’s Suicide-Proof Your Home campaign provides simple, practical steps that all parents can take to reduce a child’s risk of suicide at home, such as removing or locking up firearms and medications. It builds on the familiar concept of childproofing, with the goal of showing parents that much as locking a cabinet can keep curious toddlers safe from harmful chemicals, locking a gun and securing ammunition separately can keep a troubled teen from making a deadly mistake.
If we don’t take the public health problem of suicide seriously, we will be neglecting our youth and others whose lives could be saved by some simple common sense solutions. We have far too many deadly mistakes in America. Senseless deaths like those I have written about here leave families devastated and often wracked with guilt. It doesn’t have to be this way. I hope you will join the Brady Campaign/Center and other organizations working to prevent gun violence to educated the public about solutions that can make a difference.
One can’t have a civil discussion about guns and gun violence. It’s the “third rail” of politics as this article discusses:
Somewhere amid these social media discussions, I typically read this line, “We’ll have to agree to disagree.” It’s the ultimate outcome of such third-rail topics. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, it’s a metaphor for issues so highly charged that they’re untouchable. It refers to the dangerous, high-voltage third rail of a railroad track.
However, the parents of slain TV news journalist Alison Parker have intentionally grabbed this third rail and claim they aren’t letting go until their last breaths. They didn’t want to grab it, they feel compelled to after their daughter’s killing last week.
“They messed with the wrong family,” Andy Parker told media, referring to NRA supporters and lawmakers who voted against passing stricter gun laws.
Kudos to the Parkers for coming out shooting, so to speak, about this hot-button issue. They could have retreated to their home, locked the doors and grieved in private.
Indeed, the public grief of victims and survivors of gun violence makes people uncomfortable. Few people want to engage in an honest discussion with you when you just happen to mention that your sister was shot and killed by her estranged husband. Good grief. Poor woman. It’s too painful. I can’t talk about this because it’s too awful. It’s too painful.
And yet, as the victims pile up year after year after year with no end in sight, there are more and more and more loved ones and friends left behind. It’s unavoidable. One can hardly escape the pain of those of us who walk about our loved ones. It’s inconvenient to hear the stories but people like Andy Parker, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, Richard Martinez, and many many others are speaking up and speaking out. They are going to be heard whether people want to listen or not.
The gun rights advocates just hate it when people affected by gun violence speak out soon after a shooting . We are told that organizations working on gun violence prevention are “dancing in the blood of the victims” if we speak out for stronger gun laws and a change to our gun culture soon after a shooting. They want us to wait. Wait until when? If we waited until the carnage stopped our voices would be silenced forever. This hypocrisy is offensive, insensitive and self serving.
I reached out to my friend after reading her husband’s obituary in my local newspaper which didn’t mention suicide of course. But I just knew that the cause of death, not being listed as suicides tend to be, wasn’t right. On a visit several years after his death she and I shared our stories. She is ready to be involved in some way and I believe she will make her voice heard. But her concern expressed to me in an email about arrangements for her visit was what she would say to people who knew her husband and may or may not have known about his gun suicide. My advice was to just be honest and forthright and discuss it if people wanted to. And if some of our former classmates are uncomfortable with the inconvenient truth, so be it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk. Because just perhaps we can talk about what it means to have guns in the home for self defense that end up being used to kill oneself or another intentionally.
And this is the point at which the video takes a brilliant turn. Because after a few additional Ma’ams, Molly says to the storekeep, “I watch the news, and I know there are guns that attack people and guns that protect people and I would like the protection kind of gun.” She then goes on to say that she bought a “pink one” because that was more “feminine” and here’s the kicker: “If we can just figure out how to get all the murder guns and the attack guns and not keep selling them and just sell protection guns, I think that would be great and solve a lot of problems.”
Now I’ve been following the gun debate for more than forty years, and this is the first time I have heard the two sides of that debate referred to simply in terms of what a gun can do. Of course a gun can be used for self-defense, but the same gun can also be used to inflict great harm against someone who isn’t a risk or threat to the gun owner at all. And by verbally juxtaposing the words ‘attack’ and ‘protection’ with the idea that we are talking about different kinds of guns, what Molly Ann has done is reduce the whole argument about guns to what it really is: a dispute about what a gun represents in its most finite form. Because what protection means to the pro-gun community is what attack means to people who want to regulate guns. And Molly Ann Wymer has expressed this better than anyone else.
Herein lies the problem of our American gun culture. We are confused (on purpose of course by the corporate gun lobby and gun extremists) into thinking a gun for self defense will never be used as an attack gun or a gun to kill a loved one or even oneself. This is a huge misperception that needs to be challenged. Good for Molly Ann Wymer for simplifying the debate. For those loved guns keep getting used against people who know and love each other either intentionally or accidentally. No one wants to talk about this. And the big secret that no one wants to admit is that the majority of gun deaths are due to suicide.
The total numbers, the numbers that matter, are these. Between the start of Memorial Day Weekend and August 28 (the date when the most recent statistics were pulled), an estimated 3,702 people were killed by guns in America. Another 8,153 were wounded. That’s according to preliminary data from the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks incidents of gun violence through media reports and police blotters. And it amounts to 81 more shooting deaths and 959 more gun injuries than during the same period in 2014.
Statistically, then, this summer’s increase in firearms casualties has not been huge. What has seemed potentially significant is the effect on perceptions. David Chipman, a former ATF agent, believes that “people have been blown out of their detachment and denial.” If there is a lasting shift (and time will certainly test his assertion), it will owe in part to the way the summer of 2015 mixed together horrors too-familiar and new: Innocent churchgoers standing in for innocent school kids, a Tennessee Naval Reserve facility instead of a Texas army base, a movie theater shooting sequel, a workplace rampage that in a depraved twist was documented with not one but two cameras. Americans may have come to expect an Aurora or Newtown or Fort Hood on a semi-annual basis, but there yet remain varieties of brutality for which we aren’t prepared, have not already pre-processed.
Has anyone not been affected by the carnage inflicted on innocent church members, military members, journalists and movie goers in the shootings that have been the source of much talk and consternation? I doubt it.
The article goes on to talk about the mass shootings, the “not so mass” shootings and the numbers -which are staggering. And then, of course, there are the shootings by and of police officers which cannot be avoided even if inconvenient to discuss. From the article:
While theories falter, there are numbers, again, to be reckoned with: TheGuardian has counted 298 people, 61 of them black — seven of them black and unarmed — shot by police this summer. On the other side of the thin blue line, twelve police officers were killed in June, July, and August, eight of them in one ten-day stretch. One of them, Darren Goforth, a deputy sheriff ambushedwhile pumping gas in Harris County, Texas, was approached from behind by a man who emptied 15 rounds into his head. Firmin DeBrabander, a Baltimore resident and author, looked at the first set of numbers and the second set of numbers and saw a place where the interests of the Black Lives Matter movement and law enforcement overlap. “Neither can advance their stated missions — saving lives, affirming the value of all lives — amid a profusion of guns, which so easily waste lives,” he wrote in the Washington Post.
Indeed. It is the profusion of guns. This is unavoidable and inconvenient. But it just can’t be kept quiet. Yes, police officers have shot armed and unarmed people alike- many people of color, some not. Fear for their own lives or some sort of racial prejudice or questionable decision-making and/or police practices have led to far too many shootings. On the other hand, with so many armed citizens on our streets, officers can’t be blamed for fearing for their own lives. It’s the guns in both cases. Officers in other countries don’t carry as many guns because they don’t encounter armed citizens on their streets or in homes.
And more from the article:
The Conley story was unusual in that it generated national coverage; shootings that take place within four walls can seem too quotidian to attract much attention. This does not make them any less brutal. In one week in August, a mother of three was fatally shot by her boyfriend in Covington, Tennessee; a man murdered his brother in Toledo, Ohio; and a firefighter wasshot at home by a woman in Jackson County, Mississippi. “It’s a domestic,” the local sheriff said. “He’s been shot and he’s dead.” A shooter, a body, another family tragedy. The numbers from the Gun Violence Archive tell that there have been hundreds of domestic victims this summer. (Even when we do pay attention to gun deaths that take place at home, we still often overlook a still bigger category, the gun violence no one talks about: the thousands of gun suicides that occur every summer, part of the upwards of 21,000 suicides-by-firearm recorded each year.)
A majority of Americans now believe that a home with a gun in it is a safer home, as the pollsters at Gallup tell us. When a gun kept for self-defense is a gun kept at the ready, loaded and unobstructed by locks or passcodes, it becomes a gun that can find itself into a child’s hands. Here is Fred Grimm, a popular columnist for the Miami Herald, assessing the damage done this summer in his state alone, when “Florida kids discovered their parents’ firearms and the statistical probabilities trumped all that home safety propaganda pushed by the gun lobby.” An 11-year-old boy finds his mother’s semi-automatic pistol and shoots his 9-year-old brother in the face. A three-year-old, likely searching for an iPad, instead discovers his parents’ loaded Glock 9mm and shoots himself in the head.
Shhhh. Let’s not talk about this. Let’s avoid the discussion. Let’s not listen to the voices of Andy Parker and the other victims who are speaking out and will not be silenced. Plug your ears. Cover your eyes. Maybe it will go away. And then again, maybe not.
I mean when incidents like this are reported on a daily basis in local media outlets, how can we avoid the idea that guns are dangerous and people with guns are also dangerous. From the linked article:
A 23-year-old Phoenix man is in critical condition after shooting himself in the head while trying to show that a handgun could not be fired while he had the safety mechanism engaged.
The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office said Christen Reece fired his handgun Wednesday while shooting with six other people outside Overgaard in eastern Arizona.
Good grief. The sub header of the article says not to point a gun at yourself or others. Good advice but it just isn’t working. This just doesn’t happen with knives or hammers. Sorry. It’s an inconvenient truth but it doesn’t.
The answer is common sense and so much more. We are reaching a point of no return. If we don’t change things soon, almost everyone in America will know someone who has been affected by senseless gun violence. Things just have to change and people like me and those who are writing such great articles and doing the research that must be done are exposing the inconvenience that gun violence is a serious problem. We can’t not talk about it. It’s past time to have the conversation and insist on solutions.