Happy bullet free New Year

Bingo lottery balls 2016 and fireworks

Every year there are senseless gun deaths and injuries due to celebratory gun fire. One has to wonder why those who shoot off their guns on New Years Eve don’t have common sense. Perhaps they don’t understand that bullets have a trajectory that ends somewhere. What goes up must come down. An article from The Trace explains how dangerous this practice is. From the article:

In the 48 communities where ShotSpotter’s equipment is deployed, the company reports, “Statistics show that there are strong seasonal gunfire periods, where approximately 15 percent of all annual gunfire incidents take place on the holidays around New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and the Fourth of July.” In the fourth quarter of 2014, according to ShotSpotter, “there were 16,597 incidents in ShotSpotter coverage areas, and of those, 3,556 (or 21.4 percent) took place during the New Year’s Eve period.” The overwhelming majority of those rounds will land harmlessly or lodge in roofs or other property. But in areas with high population density, some will inevitably hit human beings. And so, each year before the holiday season, police, city officials, and activists from California to Ohio to Texas to Florida are compelled to call on their communities to refrain from spraying bullets skyward.

The impoverishment of data notwithstanding, it’s safe to stipulate at this point that the odds of any single person’s being hit by a celebratory round are extremely low. Even contentious research on stray shootings in general acknowledges that celebratory gunfire (wounds from “falling bullets”) represents less than 5 percent of all firearm-related injuries.

Though the odds are low, tell that to the families of those who have been killed or injured by celebratory gun fire. Every year, my friend Joe Jaskolka and his father Greg have a press event to let people know that celebratory gunfire is, indeed, very dangerous. Joe was hit by a bullet in Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1998 when he was just 11. Joe is living with the results of that bullet lodged in his head. He is now 28 years old and lives in a wheel chair suffering from ongoing physical disabilities. But he stays involved in the issue of gun violence prevention by warning others of the danger of celebratory gun fire. Joe’s a great young man and I’m happy to call him my friend and colleague. From the above article:

“This is very simple,” said Joe Jaskolka, “what goes up must come down.”

“We went from having an annual New Year’s Eve party to having an annual press conference,” his father, Gregory Jaskolka, said.

So this New Year’s Eve, please use common sense and don’t fire off a gun to celebrate the coming of 2016. For if 2016 is like other years, innocent people will be killed or injured tonight and every day of the new year. Bullets fired into the air or anywhere else cause trauma and devastating results for many American families. Let’s make 2016 a safer year than 2015. Below is a graph provided by the Gun Violence Archive showing the results of shootings in 2015.

2015 toll of gun violence

This does not include the many suicides which are not usually publicly available. The actual yearly numbers are over 100,000 total gunshot injuries of which about 33,000 have ended in death. It’s hard to keep track of all of the incidents given the amazingly large number of them.

We must be better than this. Join us in 2016 to make our communities safer from devastating gun violence. There are many organizations working on this issue. Find one in your area or that interests you and add your voice to those demanding a change to the conversation and a change to our laws. You can be part of the solution to our nation’s public health and safety epidemic. It’s past time for change.

 

UPDATE:

The first reported case of someone struck by a stray bullet in celebratory gunfire has been reported. A Las Vegas area teen was struck by a bullet early this morning and was hospitalized.

Follow-up to Christmas Murder/suicides

Trend - Puzzle on the Place of Missing Pieces.

My last blog post was about the horrendous murder/suicides that happened in parts of our country at Christmas time. Shootings don’t take a holiday. I would like to follow up with this article by Christopher Ingraham writing for the Washington Post:

In a grim reminder that violence in America never takes a holiday, 27 people were killed and 63 injured in shooting incidents on Christmas Day this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This tally does not include people who shot themselves in suicide.

The number of Americans killed in gun homicides on Christmas Day is comparable to the number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in places like Australia or Britain. The 27 people killed by guns in America on Christmas this year is equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland, combined. (…)

So far this year, we’ve averaged roughly 36 gun fatalities and 73 gun injuries each day, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So the Christmas Day tally represents something of a temporary de-escalation in the violence, but not a huge one.

This year has brought renewed attention to the problem of mass shooting incidents in America. But the spate of Christmas Day violence is a reminder that many more people are killed and injured in a relentless daily drumbeat of gun crime that barely makes the headlines.

Grim. Unnecessary and unacceptable. Senseless. Avoidable.

An American tragedy.

Is this the trend in our country? More gun deaths and injuries? More guns? More people carrying in more public places? More domestic murder/suicides? More suicides? More young black people killed on the streets? More children killing themselves and others?

There are some alarming trends that need to be mentioned. Americans who own guns own an average of more than 8- up from just over four 20 years ago. Thanks to Christopher Ingraham again for doing the data gathering for this one. The obvious question is why anyone needs that many guns? I know there are collectors. But there are also folks with arsenals of weapons stored out of fear and paranoia stoked by the corporate gun lobby. The are ready for the government to try to confiscate those guns which is what the NRA and others screams at them. And they plan to shoot their way out when the “jack booted government thugs” come a callin’.

#enough

Where is common sense?

What will it take?

Where are you Congress? What are you waiting for? Why are you not acting? Don’t be afraid of the corporate gun lobby. There are no excuses for this carnage. They have nothing to add to the conversation if all that they want is more guns and more gun sales. Gun safety is a public health problem in America. We need to address it like we address any other public health epidemic- with research, with laws, with resolve to keep our children and our communities safe from devastating gun violence.

We’re waiting.

President Obama is tired of waiting for you and is ready to act where Congress refuses out of fear of the loudest voices from the gun lobby. We will not be quiet any more. The loudest voices are keeping us from acting in the interest of saving lives. If the President acts, all gun sales will require a Brady background check. And why don’t they now? Because some private sellers doing the same business as licensed firearms dealers are selling their guns to anyone with no background check. Who knows who is buying those guns? No other exceptions for background checks exist when they are used to hire people, screen people who adopt pets, make sure volunteers are not felons or child sex abusers or adjudicated mentally ill. Not so with guns. Exceptions are granted for selling deadly weapons. It’s time for that to change.

I can’t wait for the screaming after this happens. Wayne LaPierre will no doubt be apoplectic. It should be interesting.

Why do we think that the total number of gun deaths in other countries doesn’t even come close to the number of Americans killed in one day? Common sense gun laws and a reasonable gun culture that respects ownership but requires strict regulations. I submit that those folks are not suffering as a result. In fact, they must be pretty happy that 27 of their own citizens were actually not shot to death over the holidays. That’s something to celebrate.

Let’s get to work.

We just must be better than this.

Contribute to a gun violence prevention organization of your choice and raise your voices with us in 2016 to demand change. The American gun culture is out of control.

Christmas murder/suicides

broken homesWhat an awful title for a blog post. In America it has come to be expected that shootings happen no matter the day, time, or holiday. When anguish, anger, mental illness, revenge, domestic difficulties, or economic difficulties happen in the lives of average people some “solve” the problem by picking up a firearm. Yes, sometimes broken homes, broken relationships, broken hearts, and broken minds lead to arguments or fights or abuse and physical, emotional, financial and psychological injury. But way too often, they also end in death. In domestic deaths, firearms are the most used method to kill.

That is the story of my sister’s death in a shooting over difficult divorce proceedings. No one thought it was possible. He was eccentric but not violent. He had issues unknown to most on the outside. He seemed like a nice quiet guy who couldn’t harm anyone. But he did. He had several guns and lots of ammunition. Two died when he shot them in his anger and misplaced concerns over difficult divorce proceedings. Why not just shoot those who you believe were causing the problem? That will solve everything, right?

Wrong.

Our family is without a loved one forever.

I have run across at least 3 murder/suicides during the last 2 days alone that were reported in media sources. There are surely more.

A New Jersey family is dead in an apparent murder/suicide. This one looks like an example of something going on that outsiders did not sense. From the article:

A New Jersey man shot and killed his wife and 8-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself at a luxury high-rise apartment building, authorities said.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the bodies of Michael Stasko, 53, his wife, Melissa, 49, and daughter, Nellie, 8, were found Friday night at the Windsor at Mariners Tower, an apartment building on the bank of the Hudson River in Edgewater. (…) “We don’t know whether it was financial, we don’t know whether it was familial, we don’t know really perhaps what was going through Mr. Stasko’s mind for him to do this,” Molinelli said.

We don’t know. That is often the case. A seemingly normal family obliterated because of a firearm in the home.

Closer to where I live this happened in Ashland, Wisconsin:

Police Capt. Jim Gregoire told the newspaper that officers responded and found a man with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers also discovered in the home two women dead of gunshot wounds. The weapon investigators believed was used in the shootings was found next to the dead man.

Authorities have withheld the dead people’s names pending notification of family. Gregoire told the paper that process could take days. One of the women is from overseas, and the department will have to go through federal agencies to reach her family. Those agencies are closed for the Christmas weekend, he said.

Gregoire said there was no indication of what could have led up to the shootings. No one left any messages behind, he said.

No indication. Nothing appeared to be wrong. Further investigation may show something else but for now, it is a mystery.

A young Arizona father shot and killed his 2 young daughters and then himself in a domestic dispute with his estranged wife. From the story:

Two young girls were killed Wednesday night by their father, 37-year-old Levi J. Parker, according to Sheriff Chris Nanos. Parker then shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at 12:10 p.m. Thursday.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call just before 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night from a mother who said the father of her two young children threatened their lives.
“He made statements to her that basically led her to believe this was her last chance to talk to the kids alive,” Sheriff Nanos said.

Some people should not have guns. With rights come responsibilities and safe gun ownership is one of these. There were red flags and warning signs. Power and control over others motivates many men to kill their current or ex spouses, girlfriends and/or partners. The ultimate power and control is a gun.

I link to the website of Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs where power and control wheels show how various ways of using power can end in tragedy when taken to the extreme. The post separation time can lead to abuse and using children to gain power and control as we see in this wheel from DAIP.

These are the stories of Americans who have access to guns, some maybe for self defense or for whatever reason people feel the need to own pistols. In the end, loaded guns in homes are more likely to be used to kill those inside than in self defense. Or were the weapons purchased with killing in mind? We don’t know why people buy guns in America. We just know that they do in greater numbers than in any other civilized society not at war. Guns are seen by some as security- as a way to keep themselves and their families safe from whatever fears are perceived to be lurking outside of their homes. By others they are used for purposeful crime and revenge.

This is our American tragedy. Domestic shootings happen daily. Suicides happen in large numbers. Our young people are shooting each other in urban areas. Toddlers are shooting people at a rate of once per week. Accidental discharges by “responsible” gun owners continue- mostly outside of the main stream media but reported in local news stories.

And we shrug our collective shoulders. We say we can’t do a thing about this. The gun lobby usually responds that people will find another way to kill themselves or others if they didn’t have guns. The thing is, that really isn’t true. Stabbings kill people but not nearly at the rate of firearms. Same with blunt objects. Suicide by gun is the preferred method because it is known to be the most lethal and effective. And it turns out that in states where more people own guns, more people kill themselves with a gun.

Laws can’t stop all of these shootings. But awareness can. Culture can. Changing the conversation can. Challenging the gun lobby’s myths that guns will keep us all safer can. Asking if there are loaded guns in homes where your children play can. Storing guns safely unloaded away from ammunition can. And laws can stop some of these shootings. As long as there is easy access to guns with no Brady background checks for domestic abusers, adjudicated mentally ill people and others who are denied purchases by licensed dealers who require these background checks, we can expect to see high numbers of dead and injured Americans.

Common sense has worked in other countries where stories like this at holiday time and every other day of the year are not in the news.There may be other problems in our neighboring countries and our friends across the oceans but gun violence is generally not one of them.

We are killing each other in great numbers here and doing nothing about it. We don’t do the research necessary to help with the causes of the violence and then we do little about the effects and the consequences. Thanks to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby, we allow people who shouldn’t have guns to buy them anyway. Thanks to our corporate gun lobby, guns are the only product unregulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby, lawsuits are very difficult and almost impossible against gun manufacturers and dealers that could help right some wrongs. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby, average Americans walk out of gun stores with absolutely no training on how to use a gun or to the risks involved in owning one. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby and its’ friends in Congress and state houses, people with no training or permit or background check can openly or concealed carry guns around in public places. And as a result, guns are discharging accidentally or on purpose in places where families spend time. Like these at Accidents Happen Guns Kill 3 at Christmas time alone. Lunacy.

Thanks corporate gun lobby.

We are better than this. We can also do something about this but we need our leaders to think straight about our national public health and safety epidemic without the interference of those who profit from selling the firearms used every day in incidents like the ones I included above.

Let’s get to work and make 2016 a safer year from gun violence than 2015 was.

Merry Christmas- This is what change looks like

bauble_decoration_297288As 2016 is soon to be upon us, change is in the air regarding guns and the conversation about the causes and effects of gun violence. I wrote in my last post about new research about gun violence that is educating people about the insidious nature of a devastating public health and safety epidemic. If we understand the causes, we can work on common sense solutions.

Let’s look at the ways in which change is coming.

The NBA has teamed up with Everytown for Gun Safety to run ads during NBA basketball games starting on Christmas Day.

The NRA lost a lawsuit involving the city of Seattle’s decision to add a new tax on guns and ammunition.

The Supreme Court refused to take a case involving a ban on assault weapons in Highland Park, Illinois.

The Governor and Attorney General of Virginia are continuing to make news as they have now decided that Virginia will stop honoring the concealed carry permits of 25 other states, including my own state of Minnesota.

Earlier this year, Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order banning open carry of guns in some Virginia public buildings.

Connecticut Governor Malloy took action to stop those on the known terror watch list from being able to legally buy guns.

Bad apple gun dealer, owner of Stag Arms in Connecticut got caught with felony possession of a machine gun not registered to his company and other such charges. He can no longer own his business or be involved in it in any way.

A conspiracy theorist and Florida university professor, involved in a disgusting movement harassing parents of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, has come under fire for his views and could be fired.

This is what change looks like. The public has had #enough. The shootings at the Planned Parenthood building in Colorado Springs and the terror attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino have changed the conversation. It is long past time for that to have happened. It’s too late for Andy and Barbara Parker. It’s too late for Chris Hurst. It’s too late for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips. It’s too late for the parents of the 20 first graders who were massacred by a teen who shouldn’t have had access to guns. It’s too late for Colin Goddard. It’s too late for Bob Weiss and Lucy McBath and Richard Martinez. The list is too long for this blog.

It’s too late for the 89 Americans a day who lose their lives to gunshot injuries.

2016 will bring more change and more common sense. As the fear and paranoia will ramp up during the presidential election, more people will buy guns and more accidental shootings will happen and more children will die. More women will be shot by their abusers. More teens and older white men will take their own lives with guns that are accessible in their homes. More gang shootings in our large cities will lead to devastating deaths and injuries. More angry men will shoot innocent people in public places and at home. More and more and more.

There will be more victims. But the victims will not be quiet. They will fight back.

As more people like my friend at Accidents Happen Guns Kill and the Ohh Shoot blog write about the dangers of guns in homes, the public will be made aware of the risks to owning guns and hopefully think twice about leaving loaded guns around rather than storing them safely. As more parents are made aware that they should ASK if there are loaded guns in the homes where their children play, children will be safer. As more awareness of bad apple gun dealers ends with consequences for gun dealers who are providing guns to felons and others who shouldn’t have them, communities will become more safe.

The corporate gun lobby has gone too far and will have more defeats thanks to their unyielding resistance to common sense gun laws that the American public wants. When even their own members agree with the gun violence prevention groups, it is becoming more obvious that Wayne LaPierre and his fellow gun rights extremists are out of touch with even their own.

The Trace has published it’s list of 15 statistics about gun violence in 2015 that rose to the top of importance. Such facts as 8% of gun owners own more than 10 guns and deaths from car accidents are going down as deaths from guns remain steady or increase. And toddlers are killing themselves or others at a rate of once per week. There is much more in this great article that will change the conversation.

There will be more awareness and more talk about solutions and more laws passed to make it harder for dangerous and potentially dangerous people to get their hands on guns. There will be more people involved with gun violence prevention groups and more voices raised to let our leaders know that we have had more than #enough. There will be more bloggers and groups writing about the truth of our insane American gun culture.

#NRAdefeat will be trending on Twitter.

As we go into the Christmas holiday, I will be thinking of the family members missed around the tree and for whom there will be no gifts. There will be no gifts from them to their family members this year. We have missed gifts to and from my sister for 23 years now.

We remember them. We honor them. We will continue our march to common sense and making America safe from gun violence again.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the holiday. To those who celebrate and those who don’t I wish peace and fond remembrances of your loved ones.

 

 

Why gun research matters

ПечатьGuns matter. Gun deaths matter. Gun laws matter. Lives matter. Data matters. Research matters. Facts matter. What is becoming more and more necessary is good research into the causes and effects of gun violence in America.

Remember that Congress passed a law in 1996 to stifle and halt research by the CDC into what causes so much gun violence in our country. Representative Jay Dickey, who at the time pushed this law, was beholden to the corporate gun lobby and did their bidding. Now that he doesn’t have to worry about their bullying tactics any more he understands that the law was detrimental to our public health and safety and has said so publicly. Good for him. Let’s take a look:

“It is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund such research until a solution is reached,” he wrote in a letter released through the office of Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). “Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.” (…)

The former GOP congressman, 75, reached at home Thursday, said “political purposes” should have never gotten in the way of the issue. He conceded he “should have done something” to see that the research continue.

NRA LOBBYING LED TO LAW THAT STOPPED CDC FROM USING FEDERAL FUNDS TO STUDY GUN VIOLENCE

“Research will lead us to a solution,” Dickey said. “I have no idea what it’s going to be. I just couldn’t stay quiet any longer. It doesn’t look like anybody else is trying to get a solution.”

Dickey compared gun violence to car accidents. Highway regulation and research aren’t meant to deter car ownership — they’re meant for safety, he said.

“(Gun violence) is an insidious social problem that we have in America, and it’s getting worse, in my opinion,” he said.

Dickey said he was “almost numb” as reports emerged of Wednesday’s shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., in which 14 people were killed and 21 wounded.

“It’s just a shame … innocent people,” he said.

But years after that law went into effect, public shootings of 6 year olds in a school, Christian black people in churches, Muslims in homes, journalists on live TV, people sitting in movie theaters, horrendous domestic homicide/suicides, gang shootings in our inner cities, increased numbers of gun suicides by teens and rural white men, and toddlers killing themselves on a regular basis, the carnage continues unabated.

Former Representative Dickey spoke truth to power. He is right. It’s insidious and a shame. Too many innocent people are dying.

Others are doing the much needed research and presenting us with the proof that gun laws matter and can prevent some of the nation’s shootings. This New York Times comprehensive article, replete with useful charts and information, should be required reading for legislators and Congress:

In the past decade, Missouri has been a natural experiment in what happens when a state relaxes its gun control laws. For decades, it had one of the nation’s strongest measures to keep guns from dangerous people: a requirement that all handgun buyers get a gun permit by undergoing a background check in person at a sheriff’s office.

Here is one of the incredible graphs disproving the gun lobby’s argument that strict gun laws don’t matter. Gun trafficking from state to state is easy because we have made it easy. And thus, even if states or cities pass strong laws, gun violence continues. It’s a slippery slope.

Well researched graphs, maps and charts help us understand the causes and effects of our insidious and shameful national public health epidemic. For example:

An interactive map of where licensed gun dealers are located in the country makes it easy to find out how many there are near you.  As it turns out, there are more of them than there are grocery stores or McDonalds restaurants. It’s actually pretty darned convenient to find a gun dealer to do a Brady background check.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have had more gun homicides this year than in past years. And here’s a map to show where the shootings occurred:

More than 11 months later, with 2016 approaching, Minneapolis has seen 49 homicides this year, according to city data, considerably more than the 32 recorded in 2014 and the most since 2006.

St. Paul recorded 17 homicides in 2015, including a victim who died this year of an injury sustained in 2012, up from 13 in 2014.

Of the 65 homicides in both cities, 49 involved firearms. The rest were either stabbings or beatings.

The gun lobby often argues that guns are not responsible for the most homicides. They are wrong. Also, many of these gun deaths are happening in our core urban cities with the impacted communities being people of color.

Why does any of this matter? Because if we truly are serious about preventing the carnage, we need data to help us with solutions. Silencing research on guns and gun violence has a deadly affect on our communities. The corporate gun lobby’s insidious influence on policy is leading to devastating gun deaths and injuries.

We make it far too easy for citizens who shouldn’t have access to guns to get them anyway. Laws matter. With stronger laws will come a stronger public resolve that we take this seriously and we care about innocent people getting shot in our homes, schools, shopping malls, parking lots, hospitals, at holiday parties, churches, military bases, government buildings, etc. And please do remember that some of the shooters in these places obtained their guns legally. That is because in America we have such a cavalier and twisted outlook and attitude about guns because….. rights, because…. Congress, because…..second amendment absolutists, because…. corporate gun lobby, that there is a total lack of common sense.

More data lets us know which large cities have seen the most shootings of civilians by officers. Police departments all over America, including in Minneapolis, have been under fire for shootings of citizens, often black citizens. Looking at the data and learning from it can make our large cities safer.

It’s important to understand shootings by officers and shootings of officers so our communities can better deal with insidious gun violence that plagues our largest urban areas.

Here is information about how many officers have been killed in the line of duty and an interesting fact is that firearms have caused fewer deaths of officers in 2015 than in 2014. Traffic accidents have accounted for an increased number of officer deaths. And “other causes” have increased 70% over 2014. It seems like this is important information for the safety of officers while on duty.

Why again do we not want research and data on the subject of gun violence? You will have to ask people who hang around with the corporate gun lobby and your elected leaders. The answer is very important to public health and safety.

And while we are waiting for common sense to break out these are the daily reports in the media, on the internet or on blogs:

“Law abiding” DC area gun owner gets impatient when a holiday shopper has trouble with his credit card at an exit of a shopping mall and shoots at the man.

 

A Washington state man was arrested for possession an illegal gun and saying he wanted a .50 caliber rifle to shoot officers:

Today, the assistant U.S. attorney told the judge that Barbeau was trying to buy a .50 caliber rifle that would be quote “advantageous” in a shootout with law enforcement. And that he was seen in photos posing next to explosives that federal agents have yet to locate.

But hey, what’s the problem? These are readily available anywhere for the most part and his friends and family believe he is just trying to exercise his rights:

But his family says Barbeau is just trying to protect the rights of his fellow citizens, and sometimes gets caught up in inflammatory rhetoric.

“He gets pretty emotional when things are happening and injustices are happening around him. And he tends to say some things that maybe I wouldn’t say,” said Milam. ” But I don’t believe at all that he is out to start there is any part of him that is out to start anything with anybody.”

I, for one, am glad this guy is not on the loose with his guns.

Data matters. In the case above, the FBI had been following this guy because of threats to police officers. Not OK. Home grown terrorists have been responsible for more than a few high profile shootings in our country.

Research is happening now despite the gun lobby’s distaste for it and their resistance to facts. The tired old NRA and corporate gun lobby arguments are going to fall on deaf ears soon enough. Armed with research and facts, our country will demand, as the majority already have, that our leaders get down to business and do their jobs to keep us safe from devastating gun violence and terror attacks. This is not rocket science.

 

Star Wars “The Force Awakens” and the real dangers of guns

Star WarsThe long awaited opening of the new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens” is here. It looks like security will be tight at movie theaters across the country.Of course we all know that mass shootings can happen in movie theaters. The dust has just settled on the trial of the Aurora theater shooter. Remember that one? Remember that, as a country, we pretended it didn’t happen and didn’t want to be inconvenienced by talk of trying to prevent these kinds of shootings. Shooters like this can get any weapon and any amount of ammunition they want with no background check (legally) and carry out a heinous shooting leaving far too many families grieving forever.

Brady background checks anyone? This guy, ridiculous as it is, passed a background check. He was not a stable person. But in America, what the heck? Anyone should have a gun because……rights. And the ammunition? Bought on line with no background checks. Hundreds of rounds and drum magazines. Why not? The average citizen needs that kind of sh&^ for every day living. We don’t require background checks on ammunition, no matter how much is purchased.

This time around, when a larger than life movie that will attract millions of viewers opens, America can’t help but think of shootings and terror attacks because…… America. So theaters are preparing with extra security guards and precautions like not allowing Star Wars type lasers and light sabers. Oh, and no masks or painted faces.

But, unless it is specifically prohibited, guns may be allowed inside. I mean, what’s more dangerous? A toy light saber or a real gun?

Anyone remember these incidents?

A Florida “law abiding” gun carrier shot and killed a young man who was texting at the beginning of a movie.

A man opened fire at a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater, killing 2 and injuring 9 before shooting himself.

A gun carrier “accidentally ” shot himself in the leg while carrying in a Kansas theater.

This is insanity. Our priorities are all screwed up.

And I can’t help throwing in why guns are more dangerous than other “weapons” or tools. How about guns in road rage incidents?  You just never think of someone throwing a knife at a driver in road rage. Or a hammer? Or maybe a vase or some sharp object?  A gun is much more effective at killing people. So this happened in Oklahoma:

A man open fired from his pickup truck and killed two people in separate shootings on an Oklahoma interstate in what is suspected to be a road rage incident. (…)

The suspect continued driving, firing at vehicles as he drove fast and erratically, Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said.

“He shot so many vehicles that it would have been totally impractical to assume he knew them,” Peoples added.

The suspect was being held at the Custer County jail on a preliminary complaint of driving under the influence, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.

Driving under the influence? What about murder with a gun? Two innocent Americans are dead.

And while we are thinking of road rage and gun deaths of people innocently driving their cars down the road let’s turn our attention to this conundrum. The federal government ( with the help of Congress) has determined that death by auto accident deserves our attention and tax payer money to fund research to cut deaths makes perfect sense. Research on gun deaths? Not so much. 

Thanks NRA and corporate gun lobby. Thanks Congress.

And speaking of guns allowed in all public places, Disney World has decided- NOT. Guns will not be welcome in their theme parks any more nor will they even sell toy guns in their parks. Oh, and no costumes for people over 14. Why? I think you know the answer. It is not only “foreign” terrorists they fear. It’s the nutty Americans who can buy anything on-line or at gun shows with no background checks or through straw purchasing or on through trafficking that have caused most of our nation’s terror attacks.

I was at Disney World with my daughter and grandchildren last winter. It was such a great experience for all of us. It’s the “happiest place on earth”. Or is it? We now have to fear armed people everywhere we go. We would rather inconvenience millions of Americans at theme parks than require Brady background checks on all gun sales.

I don’t know about you but the Tea Cup ride made me a little dizzy. It’s shown in this article about the security changes at Disney World. You know what else makes me dizzy? The lapdog politicians who give in to the demands of the minority of Americans ( and even of gun owners and NRA members) so that Americans need to fear guns while enjoying movies and theme parks.

(An aside- speaking of straw purchases, we now know that I wrote about before. The guns used in the San Bernardino terror attach were obtained through a straw purchase and the buyer has been arrested for that and many other things.)

The gun nuts tell me all the time that it would be so inconvenient for them to have to undergo a background check when buying from a private seller on line (armslist.com) or at a gun show. I have asked these folks if it is equally inconvenient for them when they buy from licensed sellers where Brady background checks are required on all gun sales. I have yet to see or hear a rational answer to this question. That makes me wonder if these folks can actually pass a Brady background check. For what other reason could there be to resist this common sense way of keeping guns away from dangerous or potentially dangerous people?

Tell the family of Zina Haughton  how inconvenient it would have been for Radcliffe Haughton to be turned away from the seller on armslist.com when he sold Haughton his gun used to kill his wife at a Wisconsin spa and 2 others and then himself. He was a prohibited gun purchaser because of domestic abuse. It was mighty inconvenient for the families of those killed that day to bury their loved ones.

Just for a minute, let’s take a look at how many guns are available through private sales in Florida on Armslist.com just for today. Many pages of them. This is not OK. How does the seller know to whom he/she is selling that gun?

Why do we allow this? Congress? State legislators? It’s up to you now.

I just spoke with someone yesterday who said she had to have a background check to volunteer with kids in our schools. This is true for teachers and for volunteers in churches when someone wishes to volunteer with kids. There are no exceptions to this. Why? To protect our children from potentially “bad” people. Background checks are required for many other Americans for many reasons- with no exceptions. But for guns? Not in America.

Guns everywhere is clearly not the answer. We have allowed this to happen and now we have created a monster. Changing this culture of guns, guns, guns is not going to be easy. But it is happening. The force is awakening. The American public has had #enough. We are fighting back and we are angry as well. The gun lobby’s angry and fear mongering rhetoric has been responsible for Americans arming themselves. And when more Americans are armed, more Americans are losing their lives to gun homicides, mass shootings, gun suicides and “accidental” shootings.

So now when we attend openings of popular movies or go on trips to theme parks or other places where large numbers of Americans gather, we need to fear for terrorists with guns or just about any nut or angry person with a gun who can easily get one.

We are better than this. It’s past time for the changes we want and deserve to protect our communities and families from devastating gun violence. Join me in demanding action from Congress and state legislators. Go to the website of a gun violence prevention organization of your choice. Get on the email lists. Attend events. Contribute money and your talent and time. Raise your voices with me and the millions of others who have already said in poll after poll after poll for many years now that they want our leaders to listen to us and not the corporate gun lobby.

 

Our national failure to honor gun violence vicims with action

we failed themThis past week gun violence prevention groups, the religious community and others attracted thousands of supporters in vigils, marches, bell ringings, protests and other activities. The gun violence prevention community is strong and getting stronger. Newtown Action Alliance and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence have for 3 years now organized people around the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of the nation’s most heinous school shooting. We all know about it, right?

And yet, in spite of all of this and in spite of overwhelming public support to change our gun laws, our Congress has turned their backs on the American people for years. That is going to change. We can not be ignored any longer.

In my city of Duluth we held a bell ringing to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and the many many others of mass shootings in 2015 and “every day ” shootings. 70 attended on a cold, blustery day to support our efforts. Local clergy, law enforcement, community activists and elected leaders joined us to ring our bell in memory of lost loved ones. I got a note after the event from one of the police officers who rang the bell. Here is what he said:

I just wanted to say thank you for organizing and asking us to be part of today’s bell ringing.  My heart was broken as I listened to people tell of all the losses due to gun violence.  Thanks to both of you for being strong and sharing with us.  A few years back I was involved in an incident where a violent suspect we were trying to arrest broke into a house and shot a 21 year old girl as he was trying to evade us.   The girl survived, I often think of her and wonder how she is doing, she experienced something many of us only see when we watch a horror movie.  I know she has had huge struggles at times.  I thought of her today during the ringing.

Thanks again for working so hard on this, you are so appreciated.

I know that some of my readers are gun rights enthusiasts and don’t appreciate anything I do. So be it. But the fact is, the nation wants change. The national gun violence prevention events started with a vigil at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill to which many victims of gun violence were invited to speak. Candles were lit. Tears fell. Victims gathered together for support, ready to go out into the country to change things.

Everytown  posted about marches all over the country last week-end with hundreds in attendance at each. The Brady Campaign has posted photos of the march in DC with activists there and in other places in the country. Moms Demand Action held many orange walks with hundreds of participants. We’ve had #enough. Thousands are texting to call and calling our Representatives and Senators. Independent state groups have held events with hundreds in attendance in good weather and bad. Over 300 people marched in Denver, for example. Children carried candles in Pennsylvania. North Carolina activists lit candles as well. Folks have made cards for victims, posted photos of why they are acting on web pages and Facebook and Twitter. Faith groups rang bells, had events, included litany in services and preached about gun violence. This has not happened before. 350 people protested outside of the NRA headquarters yesterday. The public is engaged.

We are acting and we will honor the victims with our actions. The gun lobby is acting in its’ own self interest and making profits while doing it. There is no common sense to any of this.

The Center for American Progress has released a great report with actions that can be taken by the state executives. If Congress fails to act, we will get state executives to act. Whatever it takes is what we will do. It’s all hands on deck. We’ve had enough. We want action. Thoughts and prayers are nice and fine but they don’t get Congress to do anything. It’s an American tragedy that we have turned our backs on the victims of gun violence and have done virtually nothing.

We should have acted after Columbine. But we didn’t. We should have acted after Virginia Tech but we didn’t. We should have acted after the Aurora theater shooting or after the Tucson shooting when one of their own, Representative Gabby Giffords, was shot and seriously injured in a public meeting with constituents. But we didn’t. And we didn’t act after the Umpqua community college shooting, nor the Charleston shooting of 9 innocent black people, nor the Fort Hood shooting or the Navy Yard shooting or the Tamir Rice shooting, or Trayvon Martin, or for goodness sake, the shooting on live TV of 2 young Roanoke, Virginia journalists.

We should be acting every day to keep 89 Americans from being shot in domestic homicides, homicides committed in anger or fear, suicides or children “accidentally” shooting themselves or others with guns they have accessed and shouldn’t have. We have failed to act. We have failed the victims.

How can we keep ignoring this? It’s the question that should be asked at all presidential debates and all candidate debates going forward. Our politicians need to know that if they don’t change, we will change them. They have failed us. They have failed to do their jobs. We’ve had enough and we are ready for action. Let’s get to work.

In my sister’s name and her memory, I will not let this inaction continue. I can’t fail to do something about her senseless and tragic shooting death. I will not let my elected leaders ignore my voice or the voice of the many victims we honored in the past week.