Baseball and guns

Brady memeGun violence has and does occur in every nook and cranny of America. That is because there are guns in every nook and cranny of America. As many, if not most, of us watched in horror yesterday morning, another mass shooting unfolded almost before our very eyes and ears. Later in the day yesterday video with the audio of the mass shooting was released making it all too real. The sound of constant gunfire reminded us of war.

We are at war with each other. Yesterday’s shooting of U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise got a lot of attention because the victim was someone serving our country as was Rep. Gabby Giffords who was shot while serving in Congress. And here is Gabby Giffords writing about the obvious after yesterday’s shooting:

Why courage? Because the times we are in require it. We owe ourselves, our neighbors and our nation courage.

In the days and weeks to come, I know from personal experience what to expect. As a nation, we will debate violence and honor service — the service of the elected officials and their staff, and of local law enforcement and the U.S. Capitol Police, without whom the carnage could have been so much worse. We will debate the availability and use of guns. And we will wonder about the victims — how they are doing and how we can help them — as we wonder, too, about the shooter. What motivated such violence? What can we do to prevent it?

We know, as always, that no one law could prevent a shooting like this. But we also know that we must acknowledge a problem: an unacceptable rate of gun violence in this country. And we must acknowledge that a deadly problem like this brings a responsibility to find solutions. And that’s where we, as a nation, will need courage in abundance, as my former colleagues find the strength to recover from their wounds — and the bravery to try to make shootings like this one less likely in the future. (…)

My prayer today for my colleagues and their families is that they feel our strength and love as they embark on their recovery. My prayer for my country is that we find the courage I know we possess and use it to work toward a safer world, together.

We are all horrified at the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise and 3 others at yesterday’s baseball practice for a charity ball game to be held tonight in spite of the shooting. We are hoping for a good recovery for Rep. Scalise knowing that he is in critical condition and has a long road to go.

This morning I ran across this article that highlights what I have long thought about the issue of gun violence. We have so much of it in our country that it does seem to beget more of it. It’s like a virus that we can’t control and for which there is no cure. From the article:

The left-wing views of the alleged shooter might be surprising to some, but they shouldn’t be. The gun industry and the National Rifle Association market guns with promises that owning guns will make a customer feel manly and powerful, and that fantasy has a power that can transcend political boundaries. And no one knows better than gun industry leaders how feelings of political frustration caused by seeing your preferred candidate lose an election can be channeled into a pitch to buy more guns. (…) Gun marketing, helped along by the political messaging of the NRA, , is targeted largely at conservatives. That said, the emotional buttons being pushed — the wish to feel powerful, the desire to prove one’s masculinity, the appeal of violence as a political shortcut — cannot be contained by something as pedestrian as political partisanship. Through years of marketing and cultural messaging, the appeal of guns has been crafted into something totemic, even primal — desired by all manner of people who yearn for some kind of cleansing violence to solve their problems.

It is frightening that this is where we are now. We’ve been there for a long time but when the violence affects those who support the efforts of the corporate gun lobby, one would expect a new reaction- that just maybe something will be done about it -this time. But one would be wrong. More from the article:

And when it comes to the Republicans, sadly there is no reason to believe they will react to this dreadful crime by rethinking their resistance to saner gun control laws that could go a long way toward minimizing the amount of damage that people disposed to carrying out violence can do. Despite watching their friends and colleagues running away from a hail of gunfire, Republican politicians and pundits are sticking with the thoughts-and-prayers narrative and not even discussing taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Some are demanding the opposite of common sense by suggesting that if only someone had been packing heat this would not have happened. Such ridiculous reasoning is insane and should not be believed or tolerated. But that rhetoric has been around for so many years that some actually believe it regardless of the truth of the matter. Here are some responses on an article posted on a Twitter feed about this very thing:

Yesterday the House was to have had a hearing on a bill to allow for the purchase of gun suppressor ( silencers) without going through the strict process now in place since 1934. Silencers were placed in a special category at that time for good reason. But the gun lobby is forever looking for a way to increase sales and accessories.

After the shooting yesterday morning apparently it was thought that it was not a good time to raise this controversial issue so the hearing was cancelled.:

The measure would make it easier to purchase silencers, transport guns across state lines and ease restrictions on armor-piercing bullets
The draft bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, who was at Wednesday’s practice in Alexandria, Virginia, where Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others were shot.

In this article there is a video of Senator Rand Paul, an avid support of second amendment rights and “freedom” stating that the incident yesterday would have been a massacre had capitol police officers not been there to take down the shooter. Paul was at the baseball practice and sounded truly frightened and shaken when interviewed. I am just wondering if he thought how much more deadly the shooting could have been had the shooter purchased a suppressor and attached it to his rifle. But I guess hypocrisy and warped thinking runs into the facts when it comes to justifying arming more people in more places for “self defense”.

Consider if the Congress members were packing heat at that practice or the game scheduled for tonight as some have suggested. Really? More warped thinking. What about sliding into third base? What about jumping up to catch a fly ball? What about a collision at home base between the catcher and a runner? What about just running around the bases with a loaded gun on your hip?

All of this defies common sense but it is being raised. Remember that the shooting took over 2 minutes according to a home video taken on an observer’s iPhone that many of us have now seen and heard. No one knew where to go, where to run, at first where the shots were coming from. Panic ensued. The instinct to run for your life and take cover or protect someone else by laying on top of him/her. Representative Scalise was a sitting duck out on the field as was the staffer who was injured. How could they have defended themselves with a loaded gun on their bodies? How could the other Congressmen have shot at a shooter not having any idea where he was? And what if more police came onto the scene, as happened, and saw a person with a loaded gun? Who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?

No. These are ludicrous and warped ideas.

There is one more issue that has surfaced after the shooting at the baseball field- more protection for Congress members who do receive death threats and face angry constituents at town halls meetings and other places. I will go on record as saying I am all in favor of this. But doesn’t it seem ridiculous that one of the first solutions to come up is more protection instead of looking for ways to tighten access to guns and trying to stop shootings in the first place? Who is going to protect the children? Who will protect the vulnerable women in domestic disputes? Who will protect us all at parks, movie theaters, malls and other public gathering places? We all need more protection. But let’s also look at ways to prevent and reduce the shootings.

Further, though the shooter had some past problems with domestic incidents and shooting his gun into the trees in his back yard prompting complaints from neighbors to law enforcement, he was a legal purchaser of guns and did so from a licensed dealer. This is actually often the case. Legal gun owners are law abiding until suddenly they are not. The thing is, guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people and a risk to families, friends, and innocent people if something goes awry. It only takes an instant for a gun to do the damage we saw and heard yesterday. That’s why guns are the weapon of choice when someone intends to do harm and go on a rampage.

And weapons like assault type rifles and semi-automatic pistols, intended for use in war but altered slightly for civilian use, are often the ones used in these kinds of rampages. There are no limits to how many of these Americans can buy, either with or without a background check and no limits as to how many rounds can be in a magazine. Shooters who plan ahead understand perfectly well that a lot of people can be shot and killed if they use an AR-15 or AK 47 or the like. There are so many shootings with these types of weapons in America that we just move on to the next shooting, knowing it will come.

Once upon a time we banned certain types of assault type rifles. It lasted 10 years before we had time to know if it made a difference. But since that time, we know for a fact that many of the banned weapons have been used to kill Americans.

But I digress. When will the next mass shooting come? Where will it come?  As to when it is important to note that so far there have been 154 mass shootings in 2017. Yes. It’s true. We can quibble about the definition of “mass”.  What difference does it make? Lots of people are dead or injured. There was another mass shooting just hours after the shooting at the baseball field in Alexandria. This one- a workplace shooting where an alleged UPS worker took out his anger and frustrations on some of his fellow workers at a UPS facility in San Francisco. 6 shot. 3 dead plus the shooter who shot himself as he was about to be apprehended. All in a day’s work in America.

As this article states, baseball and gun violence are as American as apple pie:

And gun violence is our national shame, as American as apple pie and, yes, baseball.

The Wednesday attack on the Republican team’s final practice before the game by a shooter reportedly armed with an assault rifle was a chilling reminder of the 2011 attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ life, which left six dead and 13 wounded. It raises serious concerns about ensuring the security of our elected officials and their staff.

For many parents, such concerns are a part of everyday life. In communities across the country, parents cannot safely send their children to school, to parks or to baseball practice for fear of gunfire. (…)

While the epidemic of gun violence in this country and the maddening politics around the issue can make this feel like an intractable problem, nothing could be further from the truth. There is a growing body of research showing that states that have enacted common sense measures — such as universal background checks, limits on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and restricting gun access by domestic abusers — have significantly lower rates of gun violence than permissive states.  (…)

In addition to high levels of support for policies like universal background checks — support that is shared among Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and non-gun owners — a new poll conducted by Penn Schoen Berland found that 54% of voters feel there should be fewer guns in circulation in America’s neighborhoods.

Since the start of this baseball season, approximately 3,120 people have been killed with guns in this country — more than four times as many people as the active Major League Baseball roster. Perhaps, at long last, the bipartisan spirit of baseball that imbues the annual congressional game will stay with the members as they return to Capitol Hill, and they will finally take action to address this epidemic nationwide.

Is there hope that we can address the issue- a national pastime- shooting other people? It’s sick, warped, deadly, despicable and shameful that we haven’t yet even after the shooting of 20 six and seven year olds.

What makes sense is trying our hardest to make it harder for everyone to get guns instead of easier. This shooter had his problems but they didn’t get addressed as perhaps they should have been. He appeared to be angry over the last election. He had some prior domestic incidents which almost always point to future violent problems. He had been shooting off his gun in his yard at home until his neighbors reported him to law enforcement who told him he had to stop. Did anyone realize that this was a man who should not have had a gun in the first place?

What if a friend or relative had sensed rightly that he could be a danger to himself or others and asked law enforcement to take his guns away as is possible with Gun Violence Protection Orders?

What if violence begets violence and in America, people see guns as a way to “solve their problems” rather than a final solution that takes the lives of loved ones, innocent people, sometimes themselves, and causes devastation to many?

Some say we can’t talk about gun violence after a terrible incident of gun violence. Why not? That is the time to talk about it. Some want our voices to be silent until……?  Every day 90 Americans die from gun violence due to suicide, homicide and “accidental” shootings. The corporate gun lobby and its’ lapdogs in elected office want us to be silent and not bring up the obvious. We have a public health epidemic and a serious problem with gun violence in America. Our voices will not be silenced. We will follow Gabby’s lead and be courageous and demand changes to gun laws, to the gun culture and to the conversation we cannot avoid.

I have volunteered with the Brady Campaign and Protect Minnesota for many years now.  Most of us have seen it all and tried everything and anything to make a dent in the resistance to doing the right thing. The meme above says it all though. At the very least we ought to be able to go to baseball practice, to school, to work, a movie or shopping without fear that someone who feels angry, vindictive, is seriously mentally ill, etc. gets his or her hands on a gun and massacres innocent Americans. We ought to know that a child will not have access to a loaded gun and shoot someone or him/herself. We ought to be able to make it much harder for our teens or older citizens to take their own lives and leave behind the grief and devastation for their survivors.

We ought to be safe from gun violence. We ought not to live in fear of gun violence wherever we gather or even in our homes. What’s happening in America is backwards. We are not doing nearly enough to keep Americans safe in their communities.


6 thoughts on “Baseball and guns

  1. Mark says:

    “Once upon a time we banned certain types of assault type rifles. It lasted 10 years before we had time to know if it made a difference. But since that time, we know for a fact that many of the banned weapons have been used to kill Americans.”

    However in the years following the expiration of the ban, homicides committed with any kind of rifle dropped 35% while literally millions of the previously banned firearms were sold.

    1. They never accounted for a large number of the total deaths in America.
      But when they do, many people are shot at once. Seems like a problem to me. “Which side is right? It’s a worthwhile debate. And maybe we don’t need to choose between nearly unlimited access and total prohibition. Maybe would-be buyers of assault-style rifles should have to first provide endorsements from people willing to vouch for their intentions. Maybe “modern sporting” riflemen and riflewomen should be required undergo periodic certification to make sure they’re fit to be members of the “well-regulated militia” referenced in the Second Amendment. At the very least, maybe we shouldn’t just let people buy these weapons on a whim, with no waiting period whatsoever.

      This is really not the only conversation we should be having about gun violence — a scourge of murders, suicides, domestic mass shootings and tragic accidents that claimed 33,636 lives, mostly by handgun, in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But as long as we’re only willing to discuss this massive, deeply entrenched issue in response to an atypical act of unfathomable brutality, maybe this is the best we can do.”

  2. j. Edwards says:

    As someone who had to work around the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” I wanted to point out a couple facts. The Assault weapons ban did not actually ban any weapon. It banned certain features like collapsible stocks, flash hiders and bayonet lugs. The same AR-15 and AK-47s were still legal to own and buy-they just had a few features removed.

    So “many of the banned weapons used to kill Americans” were not in fact banned. They were all still here for those ten years.
    Also, you say in your article that “silencers were placed in a special category”, (NFA) for a reason. I must ask; what is that reason? As someone who has had to work within the confines of NFA regulations I cannot figure out any reason for the regulations of any items on the list. The NFA says that if I take a rifle and shorten the barrel to less than 16” myself, I can go to prison for 10 years…. but If I buy a rifle that was manufactured with the same short barrel, it’s perfectly legal. Can you explain to me the reasoning behind that?

    Currently you can buy as many silencers as you want, (if you can afford to pay the government for them). For every silencer purchased you must pay the federal government a $200 tax stamp. Many people have done this and many people own suppressors. Why should we have to pay the government $200? As you know this has been the law since 1934. Back in 1934, $200 was a lot of money. The NFA basically priced most people out of the restricted items. They did not ban them. They made them only available to the wealthy. In my professional opinion; the NFA is an antiquated piece of legislation that does nothing to curb criminal activity.

    1. The AWB actually did ban certain types of guns. As to the rest of what you wrote, it is why I do what I o and why you do what you do. I’m sure you know why silencers were included in the NFA act of 1934. No debating why. People now have to work harder to get them and pay more and offer more identification. That’s all good as far as I and the public are concerned. The 1934 act has worked actually as silencers and machine guns are not used in crimes. But loosening that law will assure that silencers will fall into the hands of those who should not have them just as firearms do.

  3. j. Edwards says:

    Unfortunately Wikipedia has bad information as does the majority of news outlets when it comes to information on firearms. While the ban did seek to ban certain semi-automatic weapons and did so by specifically naming the model, gun manufactures simply redesigned the weapons without the aforementioned features and renamed them. You still had the same weapons that functioned in the same semi-automatic fashion with less features-many of these features being purely cosmetic.

    You said yourself that the perpetrator of the ballpark shooting purchased his guns legally. He underwent his background check, bought the gun of his choice and went on to commit murder with it. What is to stop me or any other lawful owner of a machine gun or silencer from committing murder? If access to firearms is as bad as you say, why have I not already killed those in my life who offend and upset me?

    Many mass shootings are committed by legal buyers in America and abroad.

    I think its time we all admit something: people intent on committing heinous acts will always do so. The news events in Europe of the past couple years have proved this. If guns are not readily available, cars, knives, diesel fuel and fertilizer all are. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people without a firearm. In 1927 Andrew Kehoe killed 44 people, (mostly school children) with dynamite. Many of the social issues that you keep blaming firearms for still exist in countries that do not allow citizens to keep guns. The majority of gun deaths in America are suicides, correct? Let’s ee where America ranks in suicides, (not just ones that include guns) :

    Lets look at a country where there is no “gun violence” problem:

    If you somehow found a way to rid the entire country of guns, you are absolutely right that gun violence would go down. Violence in general would continue its march on just as it has for the past millennia.

    1. The Wikipedia article says pretty much what this one does.

      The fact that you can’t see that lives could be saved if assault rifles were more tightly regulated as well as the people who get them is sad and concerning to me. Every day legal gun owners kill other people. Guns are the weapon of choice. The shooter was legal. You are legal. It just happens that so far you have not gotten angry enough or had mental problems or whatever else causes people who are law abiding to shoot someone and become instantly a criminal.

      Don’t send me any more comparisons with Europe The whole world knows that the reason so many people are shot in America is because of our loose gun laws and the proliferation of guns in our country. There is NO comparison. People may find other ways to kill other people but guns are very effective and result in many more homicides than other countries not at war. Japan does have a higher suicide rate than the U.S. You might want to check out the other crime statistics on this site comparing Japan and the U.S. Does this mean we should not work on our homicide and suicide problem in the U.S.? The answer is no. I am quite sure the Japanese are working on their suicide problem. I happen to live in the U.S. and not Japan at the moment. There is a lot to the Japanese suicide rates in this article

      I would also point out that you cited a Wikipedia article at the end. I thought you did not like Wikipedia. Whatever.

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