Gun! Run!

Those are the words I heard an employee of the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado say as he described the scene of the mass shooting on Monday. Someone yelled these words and of course, everyone knew what they meant. Someone had a gun. Run from it. He did not say anyone offered to stand up to the shooter and try to defend the people inside of the store.

Customers were just going about their daily business buying groceries, picking up a coffee, getting a COVID vaccine- the things we do when we least expect a crazed gunman to open fire randomly with an alleged assault type rifle. Colorado is an “open carry” state allowing gun permit carriers to carry long guns on their persons. It might not be unusual to see someone carrying a long gun around- in America that is. In most other countries, citizens would assume their country was at war if there were people carrying rifles around. But I digress.

Running away in a panic with adrenaline racing through your body is the usual scenario at mass shootings. The first and obvious instinct is to run to get away from the shooter. In many or almost all of the recent mass shooting from Sandy Hook to Aurora, to Las Vegas to Sutherland the shooter chooses the weapon most likely to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible- to the most damage to create havoc and attention. It is not an accident that weapons like AR-15s are chosen by shooters. They know the damage that will be done. The bullets do more damage to tissue and organs, causing more death than other guns.

That is not, of course, what the gun lobby or its’ lapdogs in Congress. They exclaimed in loud and convincing voices that the best way to deal with mass shootings and all shootings is for everyone to have more guns and for the country to have fewer and looser laws rather than the opposite. Actually most Americans disagree with this claim and so does the evidence. But let’s check out Senator Ted Cruz’s angry and defensive comments at the Senate hearing yesterday on gun violence ( long planned before the Atlanta and Boulder mass shootings):

OK. Really Senator Cruz? Ridiculous theater? Poor choice of words. It surely was no theater performance when my sister was shot and killed by her estranged husband. How is theater for the Democrats on the committee to point out the obvious- that we have the highest rate of gun violence of all democratic countries not at war. It’s not theater. It’s not anything of which to be proud. It’s insanity and an American tragedy. The gaslighting from the speakers and Senators was as if they had a script for how to turn everything on it’s head and make all of them into the victims.

But the public knows better. Senator Cruz and other Republican lapdogs to the gun lobby did everything they could to distract from the two tragic and horrendous mass shootings that happened within one week of the hearing. How can you bloviate about the loss of 18 American lives in just 2 shootings, let alone the 100 plus a day that die from gunshot injuries due to domestic violence, suicides and unintentional shootings?

Senator Cruz and others opposed to 2 common sense gun laws passed by the House 2 weeks ago to merely keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have them are the drama queens. Near the end of the hearing, Senator Jon Ossoff, newly elected from Georgia where one of the shootings happened, asked one of the pro-gun speakers if she agreed that felons should not have guns. Her answer was yes.

Where is the gun lobby and lapdog plan for keeping guns away from potentially dangerous people? Where is their solution to our gun violence public health epidemic?

The deceptions offered by the pro gun speakers and their Senate lapdogs were amazingly transparent. Here are a few things that were offered or claimed:

All I know is that the majority of Americans, who agree on almost nothing, do agree that something must be done about gun violence in America. People want to be safe from being shot when they are in public places. They don’t want their children to be shot in school. They don’t want to have to say, as is said after all of the mass shootings, “this doesn’t happen in communities like ours.” YES. It does, it can and it will.

  • People should be allowed to carry guns everywhere
  • Passing universal background checks will only punish law abiding gun owners
  • Guns for self defense are used 1/2 million times a year.
  • Passing the 2 expanded Brady background check bills would result in gun confiscation
  • The Democrats have had an agenda to take guns away for years,
  • People of color, disabled Americans and LGBTQ Americans would be safer if they carried guns
  • People would not be allowed to use guns for self defense if the 2 bills were passed into law
  • Someone with a gun could absolutely stop, prevent mass shootings or save lives at mass shootings
  • We can absolutely tell “good guys” with guns from “bad guys” with guns even though the Atlanta shooter was a supposed “good guy” because he was not a prohibited purchase and got his gun legally.
  • Only “good guys” with guns can save us if they happen to be at the site of every mass shooting
  • There were more but you get the picture.

As long as we our lapdog lawmakers stand in the way of what 90% of Americans want the bodies will pile up.As long as ignore gun violence without offering up sensible solutions, the entire country will experience PTSD. With 40,000 plus gun deaths a year, we are to the point where almost all of us know someone who has been shot or has a family member who died from gun violence. It’s stunning. The Washington Post had this to say today about the situation:

Until two lethal rampages this month, mass shootings had largely been absent from headlines during the coronavirus pandemic. But people were still dying — at a record rate.

Washington Post

“In 2020, gun violence killed nearly 20,000 Americans, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, more than any other year in at least two decades. An additional 24,000 people died by suicide with a gun.

The vast majority of these tragedies happen far from the glare of the national spotlight, unfolding instead in homes or on city streets and — like the covid-19 crisis — disproportionately affecting communities of color.”

The Washington Post article used the Gun Violence Archive as its’ source as I always do.

Senators on the side of support for passing the laws passed by the House cited evidence and pleaded for evidence based decision making. While it’s true that the evidence is strongly in favor of passing stronger gun laws, much of what will happen will be based on emotion and political will.

We have a gun problem in America- that being that we have too many with easy access to anyone who wants one. Solving this problem seems herculean. It doesn’t have to be. Other countries have acted swiftly and strongly after heinous mass shootings ( New Zealand for example):

“On March 15, a gunman opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers, killing 50 people and injuring many more. It was the country’s first mass shooting in more than a decade. Three days later, cabinet members agreed to develop a massive overhaul of the nation’s gun laws, including a ban on military-style assault weapons.

That show of unified political will, leading to swift action, stands in contrast to the U.S., where there has been more push-and-pull after innumerable high-profile mass shootings in recent years: at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012, Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in 2015, Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016, at a Las Vegas country music festival and a Texas church in 2017, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and a Pittsburgh synagogue last year (and the list goes on).”

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/why-the-u-s-and-new-zealands-responses-to-mass-shootings-are-so-different

Now we are focusing our attention on the two shooters and motives for the shootings. Does it really matter? They both got access to a gun and fit the profile of an angry young man who decided to shoot people for maybe no particular reason. Guns make that all too easy to do. If the shooter of the Atlanta massage parlors had a sexual thing for Asian women, couldn’t he have fixed that without a gun? Maybe get some help? If the Boulder shooter had a reason to hate shoppers, couldn’t he have solved his problem another way- without a gun? There really are no excuses for any of these shootings. There never are. If there is mental illness involved, why have access to a gun? How does that happen in the first place? Yes, we need attention paid to mental illness which is a disease and we are not adequately funding services. But that does not mean we cannot work on solutions to our gun violence problem and at least try to stop dangerously angry, mentally ill people and domestic abusers from getting guns.

This is going to be a fight. It shouldn’t be. It is not partisan. Republicans and gun owners support stronger gun laws. Republicans and Democrats are shot and do the shooting. It’s a uniquely American problem and needs a uniquely American solution. We will keep working on the solution and raising our voices. We know they hear us. They are just deaf to the reality that doing something about it will not be bad for them politically. Or do they cynically want the gun violence numbers to remain high so they can use the numbers to support the sale of guns and to keep their base angry and fearful?

Just asking……

In memory of the Atlanta and Boulder shooting victims :

Rikki Olds- grocery store manager

Denny Stong – 20

Neven Stanisic – 23

Tralona Bartkowiak – 49

Erik Talley- 51 Police Officer

Suzanne Fountain – 59

Teri Leiker – 5

1Kevin Mahoney – 61

Lynn Murray – 62

Jody Waters – 65

Soon Chung Park, age 74

Hyun Jung Grant, age 51

Suncha Kim, age 69

Yong Yue, age 63

Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33

Paul Andre Michels, age 54

Xiaojie Tan, age 49

Daoyou Feng, age 44

Gaslighting and White Supremacy

How do these two words go together? In the month since the insurrection, most of us are absorbing Jan. 6th. Accounts of the day have come slowly. It’s often difficult to process trauma immediately after a horrific and life threatening event. But we are learning more in the aftermath. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez shared her account with us. She has been the target of much ire and gaslighting because she is an outspoken woman of color. She has “radical” and “socialist” ideas. She must be quieted. She wants Republicans to own up to their own complicity in the events of that day of insurrection. The White Supremacists hate her. She dares to speak out.

Marjory Taylor Green, the newly elected Congresswoman ( now stripped of her committee assignments because of her radical conspiracy theories and her own threats against AOC and “the squad) called AOC’s account a hoax– their favorite word.

Gaslighting. (The term is defined, below, but came to be used to describe this sort of abuse in a 1944 film- “Throughout the film version of the story, Paula sees gaslights dimming and brightening for no apparent reason. Gregory convinces her that it’s all inside her head. In reality, he was switching the attic lights on and off to create the gaslight flickers. He manipulated her belief in her own perception of reality through the gaslights.”

Another newly elected Congresswoman, Nancy Mace from South Carolina, discounted AOC’s version of the events of Jan. 6th and accused her of being dramatic and lying.

But wait- that very same Congresswoman shared her own similar account in the immediate aftermath of the attack that affirmed AOC’s account. Hmmm. What’s going on? From the first article highlighted above:

Mace’s misleading attack on Ocasio-Cortez illustrates how, in the lead-up to Trump’s impeachment trial next week, Republicans are shamelessly trying to weaponize the January 6 insurrection against Democrats. Instead of holding Trump or Republicans who indulged his lies about election to account, Republicans like Mace who initially took the insurrection seriously have pivoted to attacking Democrats and arguing it’s time for the country to move on.

The party that mostly voted to let their leader, Donald Trump, get away with his incitement to violence and the resulting insurrection, is circling the wagons. Anyone who dared to speak out against him is now either with him or against him. Nancy Mace voted to certify the election of Joe Biden. Now she is paying the price and has to lie to remain in the party that has increasingly become the party of Trump and White Supremacy, anti-semitism and gaslighting.

White Supremacy is not new, of course, having been with us since the founding of our country and before. And it is not unique to America. Intolerance of anyone different from the dominant caste has led to violence, wars, subjugation, torture, and more. So much has been written about this that my observations are just among thousands of others who have written about and talked about the last month in terms of the history many of us have been ignoring. Now that it is out in the open and so obvious, our nation is staring at how we will proceed and to try to deal with the White Supremacy and concomitant anger that almost killed our democracy.

White Supremacy goes with the gun culture. That is an unavoidable conclusion. I can’t stop thinking about the speech on the floor of the House on Thursday by Representative and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. His passionate speech, along with his walking amongst his colleagues with the enlarged poster of the now familiar Facebook post of Rep. Marjory Taylor Green, was the point. But the Republicans ignored his point and voted (199-10) to allow a White Supremacist conspiracy theory believer to keep her committee assignments. Allowing the violent threat to members of their own to be OK is stunning, to say the least.

Yesterday morning Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, wrote this about the vote on Thursday:

For more than five years, I begged Republicans to reject the creeping anti-Semitism Donald Trump brought to the party, noting on the eve of the 2016 election that “when a demagogue begins to identify scapegoats, the Jews are never far behind.”

But I never expected I would see in my lifetime, in the United States of America, what occurred on the floor of the House this week. One hundred ninety-nine Republican members of Congress rallied to the defense of a vile, unapologetic anti-Semite in their ranks who calls for assassination of her opponents.

This is more than a Republican problem; it’s an American problem. You don’t have to be a scholar of 20th-century Europe to know what happens when the elected leaders of a democracy condone violence as a political tool and blame the country’s ills on the Jews. (…)

This isn’t idle bigotry, for she “liked” a social media suggestion that “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who has committed “a crime punishable by death.” She posted on social media about hanging Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, approved of a suggestion that FBI agents be executed, and posted a photo of herself with an automatic weapon next to three Democratic members of Congress, calling herself their “worst nightmare.”

On the House floor this week, she offered no apology and no direct mention of her anti-Semitic and violent statements. Using Christ-on-the-cross imagery, she condemned those who would “crucify me in the public square for words that I said, and I regret, a few years ago.”

Because they refused to vote against one of their own, so obviously dangerous and vile, they have become the party of bigotry, hate anti-Semitism and White Supremacy. And where does the gaslighting come in? Later in his column, Milbank uses quotes of some of the House Republicans blaming this all on the rest of their House colleagues and on the country. The “whataboutism” employed by this group of apologists for their own deplorable behavior has become the M.O. of the Trumpism that has invaded the once proud party of Abraham Lincoln. More from the Milbank’s column:

Republicans have used similar gaslighting in their response to impeachment. Trump helped organize a rally, incited his supporters to attack the Capitol and refused to call for an end to their murderous spree as they rampaged in search of elected officials in their hopes of overturning the election. But Democrats are the ones doing something “unconstitutional” by holding an impeachment trial after he left office?

Insurrection? Sedition? Assassination? Move on, the Republicans say. These actions and threats are mere “distractions” from the real issues.

Republicans defended Greene with absurd parallels. They attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for past anti-Semitic statements — omitting the crucial distinction that Omar, after Democrats roundly condemned her words, said, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. … I unequivocally apologize.”

Greene, by contrast, remained unrepentant. On Friday, she held a celebratory news conference, again refusing to recant, or apologize for, her violent and anti-Jewish words and gestures.

Gaslighting is a term used to describe an abusive relationship. If you need a reminder, here is a definition:

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment.[1] It may evoke changes in them such as cognitive dissonance or low self-esteem, rendering the victim additionally dependent on the gaslighter for emotional support and validation. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.

Trump is a master at gaslighting. He abused the country and his followers bought it. They, too, were gaslighted by him and continue to follow him and apologize for him. But he was the symptom of the underlying disease. Until we grasp, as a nation, what has befallen us, we will not be able to get out of the relationship. White Supremacy is here. It is the proverbial “camel sticking its’ nose under the tent”. The Republican party allowed the camel in and the result was the first of what could be other attacks on our democracy. The warnings are there.

In case we think otherwise, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison held a Zoom town hall presentation, attended by 260 people, to highlight the White Supremacism in largely white Minnesota and across the country. From the article:

From 1994 to 2020, there have been nearly 900 domestic anti-Semitic and racial terrorist attacks, and the majority of those have been by right-wing groups, said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). Racial and religious hatred were the reasons supremacists recently killed people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a church in Charlotte, N.C.

“The JCRC works well with law enforcement to protect all houses of worship, not just synagogues,” he said. “We all have to work together, whatever threats come.”

Paul, who helped investigate the 2015 mass shooting in Las Vegas, said the FBI has seen an increase in violent rhetoric and the acceptance of violence to advance ideologies. The internet allows individuals to craft their own ideologies without being part of a group, he said.

“As the seriousness of domestic terrorist attacks grows, they become part of the public narrative,” he said.

Macalester College Prof. Brian Lozenski, who researches how people get involved in white extremism, said part of the cause comes from the country’s Founding Fathers’ push for white domination through the restrictions on Blacks on property ownership, citizenship and the ability to hold offices.

“We need a national recognition of the story we tell ourselves about the country,” he said.

The story we tell ourselves has been twisted in favor of the dominant caste ( see Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste) We have normalized the violence. We have pretended that it’s just part of our country. Gun toting Americans have become our gun culture gone wrong.

This is NOT NORMAL It is unique to America. We can do something about it. Just carrying a deadly weapon is threatening enough to those not in the dominant caste. It’s a way to keep power and control. In order to be in charge, they must gaslight us all into thinking we are the ones to blame. We are to be feared- those of us who don’t think like them. They must use their symbols- their flags, their weapons, their MAGA and “Q” hats, their anger. Some believe they must carry their guns in the halls of Congress. And now there are metal detectors to stop that from happening and fines for refusing to go through the metal detectors. A few entitled Congress members have already been fined. I guess following the law and procedures is not for them- just for everyone else.

It is going to be difficult to “quit” the abuser. The dominant caste does not give up power easily. We can see that the Republicans are having a hard time processing that Joe Biden actually did win the election after putting us through months of gaslighting trying to convince us otherwise. We, like victims of abuse and gun violence, are suffering from PTSD. I would like to feel hopeful that an intervention in the form of the election and changing of the “guard” will begin that process. With some common sense and fortitude we can begin to heal. This week we will see reruns of the attack during the impeachment hearing in the Senate. It will bring it all back. But sometimes that is what is needed to move on.

Will we hold those responsible for the Jan. 6th attack accountable? Time will tell. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, shedding light on the abuse, the threats, the events of Jan. 6th and the history of white nationalism and domestic terrorism is a way out of the mire and the twisted history of our democracy. Our democracy can be saved if we hold the light up to the truth.

A warning, unheeded

I told you so. I have been writing for years about violent right wing extremist groups. I have been writing about common sense. I am not alone. The gun violence prevention movement has been doing the same. As a member of a Brady chapter and a Protect Minnesota regional group, we have been warning. Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords and many others have been warning. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, wrote a book about insurrection. Guns, Democracy and the Insurrectionist Idea couldn’t be more timely. We have had an insurrection in America. It was predictable. But we weren’t paying enough attention. From the article about the Horwitz book:

In Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea, Josh Horwitz and Casey Anderson reveal that the proponents of this view base their argument on a deliberate misreading of history. The Insurrectionist myth has been forged by twisting the facts of the American Revolution and the founding of the United States, the denial of civil rights to African-Americans after the Civil War, and the rise of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. Here, Horwitz and Anderson set the record straight. Then, challenging the proposition that more guns equal more freedom, they expose Insurrectionism—not government oppression—as the true threat to freedom in the U.S. today.

The NRA is complicit if not actually responsible for the violence that occurred on Jan. 6th. Why did Congress members hide under their desks in fear? Like students in lockdowns and school shootings, they feared the worst. They feared they would get shot because that is the gun culture unique to America. Though there were actually not a lot of armed insurrectionists in those fateful hours( with guns anyway) many guns were found later in homes, in cars or on the persons of some of the attackers:

We can safely say that even larger arsenals got away cleanly and are now laying around dens and family rooms next to the Bibles and back copies of National Review. The startling thing—outside, of course, of the fact that we somehow didn’t have an absolute bloodbath on the Capitol steps—is that I believe that a lot of these people did arm themselves for self-defense, except that they were “defending” themselves against the Washington in their heads, the one that had been carefully constructed there by their favorite radio and TV stars, and by a lot of the politicians inside the Capitol, the same ones who now are deploring the violence and asking for healing and reconciliation.

They brought their firepower to “defend” themselves against big-government liberals, and the many members of antifa and Black Lives Matter who now sit in places of power in the federal government. What if AOC and the rest of The Squad showed up on the National Mall with grenade-launchers? What then, huh? These people have more monsters rattling around in their heads than you can find in a Japanese horror film. The problem is that, sooner or later, they’re going to open fire on some of these phantoms and hit some real people. I don’t know what happens then.

They were ready to shoot members of Congress and hang the Vice President of the United States. They were armed with nooses, ropes, plastic zip ties, stun guns, pieces of lumber, knives, hockey sticks devices to break windows and other items that did a lot of harm and in the end, 5 people were dead. 2 officers later killed themselves. These were people deceived by Trump, by the NRA, by “fake news” or no news, by misinformation and by gaslighting and blaming the wrong people for their gripes. The horror and PTSD will live on forever in history.

This article highlighting the report about the implicit and explicit involvement of the NRA released by Everytown for Gun Safety, is what we have been warning about and writing about for many years:

Nine supporters of former President Donald Trump, all arrested on weapons charges in connection with the storming of the U.S. Capitol, had “enough ammunition to shoot every member of the House and Senate five times,” according to a startling new report on the role of firearms in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Some of these heavily armed insurrectionists allegedly made statements threatening violence against lawmakers ahead of the Capitol siege, including a man who texted that he’d be “putting a bullet” in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head; and another man who possessed a written note that menacingly described Rep. André Carson as “one of two muslims” in the House.

A review of police documents — conducted by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety as part of a report published Thursday titled “The Role of Guns & Armed Extremism in the Attack on the U.S. Capitol” — shows cops seized at least 3,071 rounds of ammunition during the course of those nine arrests.

But the arrest and seizure data “likely vastly understates the presence of weapons at and near the Capitol on Jan. 6,” the report states, because police didn’t detain or search the majority of the insurrectionists on the day of the riot, many of whom had shared plans on social media to carry firearms. (Over 150 people have since been arrested for their role in the attack.)

Everytown’s report, however, is much more than a tally of guns and bullets in D.C. on Jan. 6; it’s an examination of how the “insurrectionist theory of the Second Amendment” — pushed for decades by powerful gun lobby groups like the National Rifle Association — led to an actual, armed insurrection in the seat of American democracy in the first week of 2021.

“We believe the NRA, like former President Trump, like some members of Congress, deserves blame for what led to Jan. 6,” Nick Suplina, the managing director of law and policy at Everytown, told HuffPost.

“You don’t get to Trump inciting an insurrection without an NRA laying the groundwork for all these years,” he said.

Everytown’s report highlights the decades long alarmist and paranoid rhetoric fomented by the NRA. It has led to people stockpiling weapons of mass destruction ( high capacity magazines, AR15s and other weapons intended to kill many people at one time). The domestic terror groups like Boogaloo Bois, Oathkeepers, QAnon, and Proud Boys to name a few, have been preparing for a long time. And when, finally, after fueling outright lies about election fraud, President Trump unleashed his angry mob on the capitol their dreams came true. Mob mentality, anger, feelings of frustration, entitlement and rightful indignation about stolen freedoms accompanied the mob down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol where a Constitutional process of accepting the Electoral College votes was taking place. The clear intent was to overturn the election and thus, our democracy. It was historic and will go down in history as the worst domestic attack on our nation to have ever taken place.

And we were warned.

David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post, wrote this column today:

Intelligence reports trace the roots of the movement that stormed the Capitol. An Oct. 21 report by the New York Police Department warned that“racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists,” such as the Proud Boys, “may be emboldened” by President Donald Trump’s comments “to engage in acts of violence before, during or after the election as well as voter intimidation.” A Nov. 10 report warned that, post-election, “violent extremism . . . will likely increase in the near term, as political and social tensions throughout the country continue to rise.”

Law enforcement knew but did not act. An FBI report the day before the Capitol was stormed quoted one extremist preparing for battle: “Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war,” according to an account in The Post.

An extremist group called the Oath Keepers allegedly helped lead the vanguard. A Jan. 27 Justice Department indictment notes that, in November and December, group members exchanged messages about logistics, lodging and operational planning for Jan. 6. According to the indictment, one of the alleged conspirators proclaimed in a Dec. 30 post: “THIS IS OUR CALL TO ACTION, FRIENDS! SEE YOU ON THE 6TH IN WASHINGTON, D.C.” He posted three days later: “This kettle is set to boil.”

Even the Capitol Police, which allowed the mob to breach its security perimeter, saw an attack coming but couldn’t mobilize to stop it. The Post quoted from an internal Jan. 3 intelligence report: “Congress itself is the target on the 6th . . . there is the possibility that protesters may be inclined to become violent.”

We were warned. We didn’t think what happened on Jan. 6th was possible. We were warned.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning for years. We didn’t listen. we were warned. We didn’t think what happened on Jan. 6th was possible. Check out the Hate Map on the site to see where these dangerous extremist domestic terror groups are living- amongst many of us as it turns out. They could be your neighbors.

And now, we have been warned again. More violence is coming. Jan. 6th was just the beginning. Armed militia and other extremist groups have been stockpiling their guns for years for just this moment in time. waiting to use their extremist and twisted view of the second amendment to fight against their own government. The Department of Homeland Security has issued an actual warning:

Long-standing racial and ethnic tension—including opposition to immigration—has driven DVE attacks, including a 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.

DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities.

DHS remains concerned that Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) inspired by foreign terrorist groups, who committed three attacks targeting government officials in 2020, remain a threat.

Threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.  

DHS, as well as other Federal agencies and law enforcement partners will continue to take precautions to protect people and infrastructure across the United States.

DHS remains committed to preventing violence and threats meant to intimidate or coerce specific populations on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity, identity or political views.

DHS encourages state, local, tribal, and territorial homeland security partners to continue prioritizing physical security measures, particularly around government facilities, to protect people and critical infrastructure.

The U.S. Capitol is surrounded by fencing. National Guard troops will remain there until April. This is where we are right now.

The extremists amongst us have been radicalized by a madman whose name is Donald Trump. He was just the person to come along at a time when the anger, unwarranted fears, paranoia and dissatisfaction with everything was fomenting after many years of hiding below the surface- just below the surface. He fomented and encouraged the anger, hate, racism, White Supremacism, unrest and violence that has led us to this moment in our history.

The election of our country’s first Black president, in my opinion, riled up the White Supremacists amongst us. They did not like this uppity, intelligent, well educated and ambitious Black man. He was now in a position of superiority over the country and all of those resentful White people. If you read the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, you will know what I am talking about. When a Black man becomes the leader of a mainly White country ( soon not to be true) it brings out the worst in some. Many of us celebrated Barack Obama’s election to be our first Black president. Others seethed about it. The rest is history.

Everything about Donald Trump’s presidency had to do with canceling whatever President Obama had accomplished out of pure spite. Psychopaths always get even, no matter how long it takes. It took Donald Trump 4 years and he is not done yet. I have no idea what the Republicans mean when they refer to the cancel culture. They made it up to cover for what is really wrong in Congress and America- their failure to hold Donald Trump accountable and stop him from what led to the January 6th insurrection. They knew. They know. They can’t handle the truth. They are canceling the truth and democracy.

Read the book, The Psychopath Inside by James Fallon, for much more insight into how psychopaths behave. And don’t get me started about the malignant narcissism that defined Donald Trump and his behavior towards anyone who dared to disagree or challenge him. Check it out if you don’t believe me. The symptoms of narcissism are:

Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.

These are recognizable and medically confirmed traits of a personality disorder commonly conferred on Donald Trump by others who know him well. And for those who have dealt with narcissists in their lives, the symptoms were obvious.

We are left with the psychological and physical wreckage of a violent movement that has been fomenting for decades. All it took was a leader who was clever enough to energize and incite those whose gripes and fears had turned to anger and resentment. Trump was and is a demagogue who has led his followers astray and has tried and will continue to try to ruin our democracy. He won’t quit until he gets his way or makes every attempt to get his way- no matter what it takes. He intends to get even for what he believes was a “landslide” win in the 2020 election. Apparently the Republican party is set to go along with all of this. Having not uttered the necessary words to deny the conspiracies and the violence, their silence is complicity. Out of fear, a few of them spoke out in the hours after the attack. But then their weakness got the better of them and they crumpled under fear of angry voters. Even they have been threatened and when the “guys with the guns make the rules”, it changes your resolve. But only if you let them make the rules. No, Wayne LaPierre, our founding fathers did not believe the second amendment “freedoms” should lead to an insurrection against the U.S. government.

These are the very same folks who insist that the Democrats not hold Trump and his insurrectionists responsible for what happened on Jan. 6th. They are wrong. Even if the Republicans in the Senate cannot bring themselves to do what they know is right for democracy and the country, we will know who they are. History will not be kind to them. They were warned many times over. They turned their heads towards their angry base. Trump did not learn his lesson, Senator Susan Collins. You was dangerously wrong. Maybe you have learned your lesson. We can hope.

There are insurrectionists within our Congress. That cannot stand. We will wait to see if the Republicans have the spine to do something about these dangerous people. If not, how can Congress act in unity? Can you hope for bipartisanship when some members aim to destroy their own elected body and believe in conspiracy theories and that the 2020 election of President Joe Biden was stolen? How will that play out? The gaslighting is already beginning with blaming the Democrats for the insurrection and for not working across the aisle. Does anyone remember what Mitch McConnell did about the nomination of Merrick Garland? And he thinks Democrats should be to blame for lack of bipartisanship?:

But our research has found that one party bears more of the blame. The bipartisanship that was common in the House through the mid-1970s began to fray as racial and cultural differences came to define the increasingly polarized and competitive parties. Partisan polarization began with these shifts in the coalitional bases of the parties, but Republicans, because of their increasingly homogeneous positions on race, religious traditionalism and other cultural issues, had more incentive to move right than Democrats had to move left. In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich and his allies fomented tribalism, using the House ethics process as a political weapon and uniting the GOP into a parliamentary-style opposition party. They had important and vocal allies in partisan media, starting with Rush Limbaugh and talk radio. Much the same happened a bit later in the Senate, where McConnell turned the filibuster into a weapon of mass obstruction and got his party to unite against every Obama initiative.

Today, Republicans are one of the most extreme (even radical) conservative parties in the democratic world, with no members in the House and arguably barely one in the Senate who would qualify as moderates or traditional conservatives, while Democrats look like a traditional center-left party. Though the “Squad” of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib receives much attention, a breakdown of voting records shows that the Democratic caucus is populated by more moderates than leftists. The asymmetric nature of this polarization makes bipartisanship almost impossible.

Thus we can expect more blaming, more gaslighting and likely more violence. The rancor is palpable. It will not lead to working together and it may lead to worse behavior as Congress members rightly fear for their personal safety. The days ahead will be rocky.

Listen to the words of House Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager during Trump’s first impeachment. I will end here. We were warned.

Insurrection at the Capitol

us capitol hill siege, us capitol hill siege protest, us capitol hill siege news, capitol hill building, capitol hill building protest, donald trump, joe biden, capitol Hill, DC protests
“An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. (Reuters Photo: Leah Millis)”
from
https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/us-capitol-hill-siege-explained-7136632/

I have been thinking about what happened at the Capitol yesterday. It was an attempted coup. It was insurrection. It was domestic terrorism.

For years, people in the gun violence prevention movement have been watching insurrectionists stockpile guns and ammunition. Their entire purpose has been to use their arsenals to fight against their own government. Yesterday they had their chance to do just that. Luckily D.C. has strong gun laws but several people have been arrested for carrying guns and ammunition anyway. Now I ask you to imagine what could have happened in the halls of Congress had one of these armed folks opened fire? Too scary to think about. I have watched the reports from Congress members about the terror that ensued as they hid and ran from the Trump thugs who broke into the people’s House. Congressman Jason Crow, who was in the House chamber, called his wife to say he loved her. Let that sink in.

Does this sound familiar? Remember the calls that the Parkland students made to their parents as they were locked down in their classrooms as a mass shooter was shooting their classmates before their eyes?

It’s horrifying. It leaves behind PTSD that will never go away.

If you have watched “Designated Survivor” you understand the horror of a domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Let me get back to gun extremists. A very small percentage of gun owners own a lot of guns. I can safely guess that many of these mostly white thugs were gun owners and gun extremists with a lot of guns perhaps left at home, in a car or maybe concealed? That has been mentioned as a possibility at yesterday’s attack. Let’s look at the American gun phenomenon and stockpiling guns. From this article in the Guardian:


But America’s gun super-owners, have amassed huge collections. Just 3% of American adults own a collective 133m firearms – half of America’s total gun stock. These owners have collections that range from eight to 140 guns, the 2015 study found. Their average collection: 17 guns each.
After the Las Vegas shooting, officials said the killer had 23 guns in his hotel room, and another 19 at home. Some Americans asked, shocked, why one person purchasing so many guns had not set off any red flags.
AdvertisementPart of the answer is that owning more than 40 guns is actually fairly common in the United States: there are an estimated 7.7 million super-owners, which might make it difficult to flag a mass shooter building an arsenal from enthusiastic collectors and gun enthusiasts piling up different kinds of guns for hunting different kinds of game, a selection of handguns for self-defense, and various accessories for the popular, customisable military-style rifles that enthusiasts have compared to lethal Lego sets for grown men.
“Why do you need more than one pair of shoes? The truth is, you don’t, but do you want more than one pair of shoes? If you’re going hiking, you don’t want to use that one pair of high heels,” Philip van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, explained last year.
Super-owners were less diverse than gun owners overall, with super-owners more likely to be male, less likely to be black or Hispanic, and more likely to own a gun for protection, researchers said.

Well, Mr. Van Cleave, no one needs so many guns that they can overwhelm an entire legislature, or Congress, or gathering of people. No one.

We are seeing the result of weak gun laws and the pandering of our lawmakers to the monied and powerful corporate gun lobby and far right extremists. We are seeing the result of pandering to the far right by Trump and the Republicans. It’s a vicious circle. The “base” believes the lies that Trump tells and they repeat it and then the Republicans are afraid of the base for repeating Trump’s lies.

It happened before our very eyes yesterday.

The second amendment extremists think the amendment is all about them being able to attack their own government or to protect themselves from a tyrannical leader. Those of us on the other side believe that common sense gun laws are necessary to protect all of us from insurrection as well as “ordinary” gun violence. With Joe Biden as President and a Senate now controlled by Democrats, there is hope that the changes supported by the majority will actually be passed and make us all safer.
What happened yesterday was #notnormal.

We witnessed an attempted coup on the United States of America fomented by an unhinged and dangerous President. Had the insurrectionists brought and/or used their guns, we would be having a different discussion today.

There was a lot of violent and racist symbolism displayed yesterday. The Jim Crow era is alive. One photo showing a man carrying a Confederate flag in the Capitol Statuary Hall is frightening, to say the least. And then there is the yellow Gadsden flag, symbolizing all kinds of things but of late, it is seen often at pro gun rallies and the words, “Don’t Tread On Me” have a clear meaning about not taking away guns or gun rights:

The Gadsden flag has appeared at other political protests, too, such as those opposing restrictions on gun ownership and objecting to rules imposed in 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Most recently the flag has been flown and displayed at some post-election protests, including events where demonstrators called for officials to stop counting votes – and both inside and outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., during the counting of the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

Because of its creator’s history and because it is commonly flown alongside “Trump 2020” flags, the Confederate battle flag and other white-supremacist flags, some may now see the Gadsden flag as a symbol of intolerance and hate – or even racism. If so, its original meaning is then forever lost, but one theme remains.

At its core, the flag is a simple warning – but to whom, and from whom, has clearly changed. Gone is the original intent to unite the states to fight an outside oppressor. Instead, for those who fly it today, the government is the oppressor.

#Enough We don’t need to be intimidated by the flags of insurrectionists. Of course they also carry American flags as if they are the only true patriots. They are not. They are the opposite of patriots. They are seditionists. They are displaying racist symbols. We get it.

We’ve all had enough of the Republicans aiding and abetting a madman and his conspiracy theories and paranoia. And listening to some ( Lindsey Graham, William Barr, John Danforth) try to explain themselves today to make try to restore their reputations is just sad and despicable. It’s too late. We’re sick of them all. They have failed us and they let this happen. Their regrets are not enough. They made a terrible and almost fatal mistake. We hold them accountable.

These folks could have stopped the man behind the attack long ago but they made their choice. They could have looked more carefully at supporting people with blind ambition and vetted them more carefully. The time to support someone just because they are conservative or liberal is over. Those who quietly supported Trump even though it was sickeningly obvious that he was evil and sick and totally unfit for the job are now responsible for the monster they allowed and created. They gave themselves to a man who will be written about for years to come as one of the most evil “leaders” ever to occupy the White House. It’s on them.

We are better than this. And we are going to make sure questions are answered and that extremist groups are no longer going to have the support of an elected President or Congressional leaders. There should be arrests. There should be and will be consequences. We are tired of conspiracy theories and lies. We want the truth. We want the facts. We want lawmakers who don’t blindly follow a madman like they are cult members just so they can appoint conservative judges and give their rich friends tax breaks. We want a public that is not so angry they are ready to destroy their own democracy because a maniac sitting in the White House and his nutty personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani told them to use violence to get their way.

They have some explaining to do. We are waiting.

An unhappy New Year in Minnesota

Image from Duluth News Tribune

I am really tired of seeing the stock photos of police car flashing lights and crime scene tape on the front page of my local paper. Just in the last few weeks, Minnesotans and the Northland area have been involved in a long list deadly and/or dangerous shooting incidents. Sadly I can make a list of these incidents as if they were a shopping list or a “to-do” list. And the thing is, those affected are real people and real families suffering from the after affects of senseless shooting incidents. Neighborhoods are traumatized by the sound of gunfire.Only in America is this the case. The New Year will not be a happy one for many.

Here is just some of the incidents from the last few weeks in Minnesota and the Northland:

A domestic shooting in the Bemidji area left one person dead and 2 arrested.

A 16 year old boy was shot and killed allegedly in an incident of teens sitting in a truck while drinking alcohol

A person was shot and gravely injured in downtown Duluth

Minneapolis police shot and killed an alleged felony at a gas station after the victim supposedly fired his gun

A gun “accidentally” discharged in a Superior Kwik Trip store

A hand grenade was found in the recycling center in Duluth

In St. Paul a 2 year old died from gunshot injuries inside of a home where adults were present.

A 17 year old is dead from gunshot injuries sustained in a North Minneapolis shooting

And these were the headlines that littered the media sources in Minnesota and the Northland. Have we become numb to the fact that guns are creating a terrible public health epidemic in our country? Media all over the country report these incidents daily. It’s a fact of life in America.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The devastation of gun violence in our communities is endemic. It’s traumatizing. It’s violent. It is painful and leaves too many families grieving over avoidable deaths and injuries.

The Gun Violence Archive reports shooting incidents in real time. As of today, the last day of 2020, 43,322 Americans have lost their lives to bullets. Let that sink in.

This is not normal. It should be alarming to all who care about their fellow Americans. The fact that our state legislators and Congress have not addressed this scourge head-on is not only an embarrassment, it is an American tragedy. This is simply not happening in other civilized countries not at war.

There are so many things that can be done about this national epidemic. There is no vaccine for it as there is now for COVID. But there are common sense solutions that have been tragically avoided. The majority of Americans know there are solutions and support the solutions. But some of our elected officials either ignore it or purposely do nothing. We don’t have good answers as to why they are doing this other than decades of allowing it. Pressure from the paper tiger called the NRA has a lot to do with it. Big money influences people in office. Fear of public sentiment has for decades shaped the conversation even when it’s a very small number of people who hold the views that have kept solutions from happening.

Unfortunately in a year when gun purchases went up and fear over whatever people have feared in the age of COVID, general support for gun laws that could make a difference is down. Overall support still remains strong for specific individual gun laws ;ike universal background checks.

We have work to do. If people better understood how gun violence is affecting communities and the risks of guns in homes and in public, minds can be changed.

2020 was the annus horribilis for many reasons. COVID 19 has ravaged our country leaving 341,000 dead. It is common knowledge that we could have saved some of these lives had we acted sooner and better. By we, I mean the current administration. But we didn’t. We didn’t act soon enough for the victims of gun violence either.

We have elected a new President, Joe Biden, whose support for common sense gun safety reform is well known. He won anyway. The current occupant of the White House, if you can call him that, took on the gun extremist mantra and used it even though we all know he does not genuinely hold those beliefs. He panered to the far right. It’s a sham. It’s the Wizard of Oz fooling us into thinking there is nothing we can do.

We have no illusions that 2021 will lead to immediate solutions for the scourge of COVID 19. It will take most of the year to get us all vaccinated and back to normal. It will also take some backbone to stand up to those who refuse to do anything about the gun violence public health epidemic. Both are huge problems that don’t have easy solutions. But the solutions are there if we make up our common minds that we intend to do something about it.

The national discussion will change. Change will happen, albeit slowly. Lives can be saved. Families and communities don’t have to live with gun violence as an everyday occurrence.

There is hope in spite of incredible grief and trauma. We are all experiencing a form of PTSD since the pandemic hit the world early this year. Nothing is the same. Nothing will ever be the same. But a new President is coming with a team of people who actually are qualified for the positions they will hold. Expertise and science is back. The truth is back. The public will not be fooled by those with evil and malignant intentions.

I hope you will have a very small celebration and stay safe. Don’t shoot guns into the air, by the way. What goes up must come down. I have posted before about my friend Joe Jaskolka, whose life changed forever in 1999 after a New Year’s Eve celebration when a stupid gun owner shot a bullet into the air that landed in the brain of an innocent young boy. His life and his family’s life was changed forever on that New Year’s Eve. I leave you with this message about the danger of bullets and guns.

Be safe. Stay safe. Don’t bring guns to parties. Don’t fire a gun into the air. Don’t leave your guns out for kids and teens to find. Don’t drink and shoot. Don’t use a gun in an angry dispute. Don’t leave your guns unlocked and loaded. Store them safely. Don’t use a gun to take your own life. Save lives. Have some common sense.

Happy New Year.

Children in the crosshairs

Photo from CNN.com

It’s all about the children today- and every day actually. If we don’t protect our children from harm, who are we? On so many levels and in so many ways, we have failed our children. Do you remember where you were when you heard the news 8 years ago that 20 innocent beautiful first graders and 6 educators were massacred by a young man who should never had had access to a gun? I do. I was on my way from Duluth to the Twin Cities for a holiday program for one of my grandsons. All I could think about was him and his little pre-school friends performing music for parents and grandparents having their lives snuffed out violently and in a bloody few minutes of horror. Or, I should say, I couldn’t imagine it. I remember the director of the pre-school making a statement about the shooting before the program began. Sobering.

Eight years later, today, the parents,, grandparents, family and friends of those little children and educators will be re-living the horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that rocked the country. The pain never goes away. There is a hole in the lives of all who knew the victims. They live around the hole. Some do better than others. The father of one of the children killed took his own life last year. He just couldn’t keep going after losing his beloved daughter. The ripple effect of gun violence is real. PTSD is real. Heartbreak is real. Grief is real.

What about this don’t we get as a country? What craziness is this that 8 years after the shooting on Dec. 14th, 2012 we have done nothing. Nothing………

Who are we? Why do we let our children remain in the crosshairs of weapons designed for war that are sold legally in a country where there are more guns than people? Why? Teens can get their hands on guns. Teens shoot other teens in school shootings or in urban neighborhoods where guns are a way of life. Teens shoot themselves regularly in a moment of despair, depression or anguish over something that might not have caused a death had a gun not been available to them.

It’s an American tragedy. Gun Violence Archive is keeping track of deaths and injuries from bullets. It’s stunning that we even have to keep track of such things. But as of today, according to Gun Violence Archive, 275 children aged 0-11 have died from gunshot injuries and another 658 have been injured. 996 children aged 12-17 have died from gunshot injuries and another 2910 have been injured.

Let the numbers sink in.

We don’t know the kind of injuries but we do know that some of these children will live forever with physical and emotional scars.

Our Northland Chapter held a virtual vigil on Dec. 11th to remember the victims of Sandy Hook and all victims of gun violence. We have held a vigil every year for 8 years following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. We do it to remind us all that the shootings continue unabated. From an OpEd piece written by myself and another chapter leader for the Duluth News Tribune:

If we don’t remember the victims, we will never act to prevent more senseless gun violence. We can make a difference if we demand the changes that lead to safer communities.

People should be safe from gun violence when they go about their daily business. Children should be safe from gun violence wherever they are. We can decrease the number of gun homicides and suicides through common-sense precautions and legislation. (…)

The behavior we put up with is the behavior we get more of. By speaking up and taking responsibility to store guns unloaded and locked, we can begin to reduce the threat of dangerous gunfire in our neighborhoods. Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken has asked for the community to help identify those who are being reckless with their guns and disturbing the peace of our neighborhoods.

With the right to own and carry a gun comes the serious responsibility to use it sparingly and wisely and to keep it away from others who cannot handle that responsibility.

Contrary to what some say, we are not trying to take rights or guns away. We want to make sure that guns are bought legally and with proper vetting to make sure owners are up to the responsibility.

That’s all. Simple. Common sense.

We can save lives if we choose to. The fact that, as a country, we have not chosen to do so is an abysmal and catastrophic failure. We have failed to protect our children. Our bad.

In looking for the numbers of mass shootings since Sandy Hook I found this article from CNN:

Gun violence has been overshadowed this year by the pandemic, the struggling economy and the victory of Joseph Biden in the presidential election. There hasn’t been a high-profile mass shooting, on the scale of Sandy Hook, since the pandemic began. Mass shootings that dominated the news include 50 killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, 59 killed at the Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in 2017, and 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Philip J. Cook, a sociologist with the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and author of “The Gun Debate: What Everybody Needs to Know,” said that six of the 10 deadliest mass murders in U.S. history have happened since Sandy Hook. The most recent high-profile mass shooting was in 2019, at a WalMart in El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed. He said the deadliest mass shooting in 2020 was a domestic incident in North Carolina where a man killed six family members and then himself.

“It was a tragic event, but not a public event, and the number of deaths was smaller than the cases that have become famous,” said Cook. “The Sandy Hook massacre was a great shock to the political stasis around gun control.”

President Barack Obama tried, and failed, to implement stricter gun control. In 2013, Congress failed to pass a bill to restrict assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which have been used in multiple mass shootings.

“The states were inspired to go their separate ways, with red states loosening gun regulations and blue states tightening them,” said Cook, noting that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, spearheaded the SAFE Act in 2013, which bans most assault weapons. 

But the federal government has implemented virtually no gun control laws, aside from the 2019 ban on bump stocks used in the Las Vegas mass shooting to speed up the rate of fire.

While some see mass shootings as reason for more gun control, others see mass shootings as reason to buy more guns. Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry group that happens to be based in Newtown, described mass shootings as a “crime problem and not one of lawful firearm ownership.”

“The first crime committed by the murderer at Sandy Hook was theft of the firearm belonging to his mother,” he said. “The second crime was the brutal murder of his own mother, before he continued with his unspeakable acts.”

Shame on us.

Remember all of the children who have died since this day 8 years ago. The numbers are staggering.

And remember these 26 today:

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Rachel Davino, 29

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana M Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Dawn Hochsprung, 47

Madeline F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Lauren Rousseau, 30

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N Wyatt, 6

Connections- shootings and coronavirus deaths

Yes There is a connection. How could there not be? We are a nation of people who have mourned or are mourning the deaths of loved ones who died of gunshot injuries. They are not with us on holidays. They are missed. Their lives were lost in mostly unavoidable senseless acts of violence which take many forms- domestic shootings, gun suicides, urban violence, police violence, unintentional shootings, mass shootings, school shootings and more rarely, random acts of violence.

There was a random act of violence in Nevada the other day- on Thanksgiving. Happy thanksgiving. A couple in Nevada thought, apparently, that driving around shooting innocent people might be a thing to do on the holiday. It’s America. Should we be surprised?:

One person was shot dead and four others injured on Thanksgiving after police in Henderson, Nevada say a man and woman fired at people while driving in the city. 

“It is believed that the suspects were driving around the city randomly shooting at citizens with no apparent motive,” Henderson police said in a news release.

Henderson police officers responding to the Thursday shooting at the 800 block of East Lake Mead Parkway found a 22-year-old man who had died from an apparent gunshot wound, a 23-year-old injured woman, a 18-year-old injured man, a 53-year-old injured man, and a 41-year-old injured man, all suffering from apparent gunshot wounds, according to a news release. 

How is this related to COVID you might ask? As I wrote in my last post, shootings have continued in many forms during the shut downs and restrictions due to the pandemic. Not so many mass shootings because of the fact that the masses are not really gathering in many places as targets for shooters. But nevertheless, people are dying from gunshot injuries.

In El Paso, for example, the numbers of the dead from COVID are staggering. The community is struggling to deal with the bodies and the grief. El Paso was the sight of a heinous hate shooting at a Walmart store targeting Latino citizens a little over a year ago. The community was still reeling from the after effects of that shooting when COVID spread in our country last winter.

This article highlights the pile-on of grief for the victims of the virus on top of still grieving for those lost in August of 2019. How much can one community take? From the article:

The city unified in the face of hatred last year, adopting the “El Paso Strong” ethos after 23 people were killed in an allegedly racist attack at a Walmart. El Paso is now struggling to summon the solidarity to transcend indifference and fatigue as scores of people are dying each day in a persisting pandemic.

“Unfortunately, as human beings, we want to see things for ourselves. We physically watched the shooting and could see the danger,” said Ana Lilia Holman, whose 86-year-old father, William Howard Holman, died of covid-19 on Nov. 12. “But we can’t see this virus, so people tend to doubt how severe it really is.”

We should not doubt that coronavirus is spreading at an uncontrolled pace all across our country. And yet, there are deniers. There are those who don’t believe the virus exists or if it does, they will not be affected. They will not get sick or die. That only happens to others. So they don’t have to wear a mask or social distance because that’s just for other people. They know better.

Certain lawmakers are in denial or believe they can hide from the consequences of their failure to help America in the face of a national emergency. Why? History will look back on this time and wonder how a whole group of politicians chose not to act. Americans died as a result.

Gun violence won’t happen to those deniers either. If we hide in the sand and pretend it’s not happening, then it’s not something we need to address. The same lawmakers who are failing us about the spread of the virus and failing to help us in this national emergency are doing the same about gun violence. They have failed us. They have acquiesced to a rich and powerful gun lobby and a distinct minority of Americans who have conjured up false reasons for not acting on gun violence. They will do anything to keep their fragile control over America to shape it the way they want it to be in spite of public opinion, research and science showing them to be wrong.

People have died. People are dying. People will die. As long as we let these lawmakers get away with their failed policies and their inhumane decisions to let people die, we will also fail.

The connection is unmistakable. We have a national gun violence epidemic in the midst of the worst public health virus pandemic in a century.

We will have to deal with the aftermath and ripple effects of the pandemic and the gun violence epidemic for many years to come.

Where is common sense?

Reflections on shootings past present and future

As I reflected on the beauty of a light snowfall this morning, I was reminded by a news story that today was a day to remember momentous shootings. There are so many that it is too easy to forget what happened on this day in other years. We have paid so much attention to the present chaos over COVID and the 2020 election results which continue hour by hour, that we forget important things. That is the point of a President and a party who don’t want us to remember tragedies and past mistakes so we can learn from them and move forward to better solutions.

Today is the “anniversary” of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The country experienced a shock on November 22nd, 1963 as we watched the repeated video of our young President as he slumped over into his wife’s lap while the car sped away to the hospital where he died of his gunshot injuries. One shooter; one gun; many bullets; one U.S. President’s life snuffed out in seconds; the shooter shot by another unhinged man on live T.V.; the country mourned; stronger gun laws passed:

It had been floating around Congress for several years. [Discussion] really began after the JFK assassination; there was a strong sense that people shouldn’t buy guns through interstate mail, because Lee Harvey Oswald did through an ad that appeared in a NRA magazine. Congress held hearings, but it didn’t really go anywhere. Now in 1968, the country is facing rising urban rioting. In the mid-to-late ’60s, crime begins to increase. There’s greater concern about guns and easy accessibility to guns. Martin Luther King is assassinated in April. In June, Robert Kennedy was assassinated and that was really the final push that brought the law back and got it through Congress.

What are the most important things the law changed?

It banned interstate shipments of firearms and ammunition to private individuals [and] sales of guns to minors, drug addicts and “mental incompetents.” This is the first time you have in law that mentally unbalanced people ought not to be able to get guns — also convicted felons. It also strengthened the licensing and record-keeping requirements for gun dealers, and that was significant because gun dealers were subject to virtually no systematic scrutiny up until this time, although a 1938 federal law did establish a fee they paid to government to be a licensed dealer. It banned importation of foreign-made surplus firearms, except those appropriate for sporting purposes.

Since then, one other important gun violence prevention law passed in 1993 in the aftermath of the assassination attempt on the life of President Ronald Reagan- the Brady Background Check law. The Brady Background check law has prevented over 3 million prohibited people from getting their hands on guns.

As a side note, I recently completed the book-Mrs. Kennedy and Me written by Clint Hill, the security agent assigned to Jacqueline Kennedy. I learned from his reflections, about the horror in the immediate seconds after the President was shot. How can we understand the horror of what a shot person looks like when a bullet tears through their brain, or heart? We can’t. Maybe if we could better understand the consequences we would be quicker to want to prevent shootings.

Today is also the 6th anniversary of the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice. Tamir was walking around with a toy gun when police found him and mistakenly assumed he had a real gun. This is the problem with so many guns around. No one knows who is armed and who is not. But it’s also the problem with the quick response from law enforcement when a black person has a gun or is perceived to have a gun or is perceived to be armed or is just perceived to be trouble. Here is an article written by Tamir’s mother earlier this year as she reflected on the shooting death of her innocent son:

If Tamir was alive, he’d probably be doing something with sports. That little boy was so athletic at an early age. I’m not sure what kind of athlete he would have been. We didn’t really have a chance to have a lot of those conversations. He would be 18 and have graduated high school by now.

That day Tamir was murdered I received a knock at the door and it was a neighborhood kid saying my son had been shot by police. I said, “What are you talking about?” I was in denial and shock.

No parent should have to endure something like this.

As I arrived on the scene, my 14-year-old was in the back of a police car. Tamir was laying on the pavement in a gazebo with police surrounding him. My 16-year-old was surrounded by police officers as well. Basically, police told me to calm down or else they were going to put me in the back of a police car. They gave me an ultimatum to stay at the scene of the crime, or to go with Tamir in the ambulance.

The day was very horrific for me. I was enraged by the way he was killed, murdered, assassinated, lynched, whatever they may call it. Nobody bothered to look at this man’s record before he became a Cleveland police officer. He had a horrible report. Nobody in Cleveland did their job, and that’s why I have a dead son today.

No. No parent should have to endure this. No sister. No brother. No mother or father. No child. No one. And yet, over 100 Americans a day die from gun violence. The nation is enduring a public health epidemic now in the midst of an actual public health pandemic.

COVID restrictions have changed our world. Since last March, when the country shut down, many schools have been doing distance learning. This fall, when the school year began again, schools struggled with how to educate our children safely. Some opened completely. Some chose the hybrid model and some chose all distance learning. This largely depended on how the spread of COVID was occurring in the communities where schools are located. My own grandchildren are now learning from home while their parents work from home. It is not the way our kids should be educated but here we are.

There have been no school shootings since COVID started spreading in our country. I came across this report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) about school shootings that confirms what we really already know:

We examined school shootings and found:

Half were committed by current or former students

Suburban and rural, wealthier, and low-minority schools had more school-targeted shootings; such shootings were the most fatal and most commonly committed by students

Urban, poor, and high-minority schools had more shootings overall and more motivated by disputes; these shootings were often committed by non-students or unknown shooters

More shootings happened outside, but those inside schools were usually more deadly

We found no empirical research from 2009-2019 that directly examined the link between school discipline and school shootings.

There have been few mass shootings in public places either. People aren’t gathering as much in public now. There was one two days ago though in a Milwaukee suburb mall leaving 8 innocent people injured and none dead. Malls are still places where people are allowed to gather in larger numbers. It seems that where people gather in larger numbers, there are opportunities for mass shooters to take out some sort of angry rampage on people they don’t know. And easy access to guns along with weak gun laws lets this all happen.

Don’t get me started on the weak response to the actual pandemic. During the pandemic the sale of guns has gone up. How do we explain this? I don’t think we do. It’s a gun culture that no other country where COVID is also spreading experiences. It’s the weak gun laws.

We are experiencing unprecedented turmoil due to the pandemic. The stress of worry about losing a job, kids being at home, working from home, getting COVID and now the lunacy of a sitting President who refuses to admit he lost the election, is leading to fear and paranoia. It is not a good time to be locked and loaded. It is not a good time to be carrying a gun around in public where there are rallies and protests.

We know how that worked out in Kenosha when there were protests there after the shooting of a black man by police. Two people were shot and killed by a 17 year old who bought his gun in a straw purchase since he was too young to own or carry an AR-15. But carry he did. He was arrested.

The lunacy of what we are experiencing in America is that the said 17 year old shooter has been bailed out by none other than the “pillow guy”- friend to the current occupant of the White House and actor Ricky Schroder.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Where is common sense?

Everyday shootings have continued apace. According to Gun Violence Archive, 38,526 Americans have died from gunshot injuries so far this year. It will likely reach 40,00 before the end of the year.

This number included suicides. An increase in gun suicides in the age of COVID should not surprise us. Access to guns and suicide go together. Gun suicides have been on the rise anyway. But now we are seeing more evidence that times of stress and anxiety can lead to more suicides. Guns make it easy. A New York Times article has this to say:

Ms. Torp has reason to worry. Gun violence kills about 40,000 Americans each year, but while public attention has focused on mass shootings, murders and accidental gun deaths, these account for little more than one-third of the nation’s firearms fatalities. The majority of gun deaths are suicides — and just over half of suicides involve guns.

According to national health statistics, 24,432 Americans used guns to kill themselves in 2018, up from 19,392 in 2010.

People who kill themselves in this way are usually those with ready access to firearms: gun owners and their family members. Gun owners are not more suicidal than people who don’t own guns, but attempts with guns are more likely to be fatal.

Now, nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic began, unleashing a tide of economic dislocation and despair, experts are bracing for a rise in suicides. Gun sales have risen steadily since March, and as shutdowns aimed at containing the virus have disrupted lives and led to social isolation, studies have shown an increase in anxiety and suicidal ideation.

We are in perilous times now. More deaths from COVID and still rising to numbers that are incomprensible; a feckless, unfit and unhinged President turning his back to the American people; a major party refusing to stand up and insist that we proceed with the transition to the next President Joe Biden; armed people on our streets; conspiracy theories pushed by right wing extremists, including the President that will only make the threats of violence more likely; weak gun laws that allow for so many people to have instant access to guns that could result in a tragedy. Election officials have been threatened as have people who have spoken out against the President’s lunacy.

There is NO VOTER FRAUD. Time to move on to a more peaceful and safe country.

I look forward to President Joe Biden for many reasons. The daily chaos will decrease or disappear. We will have a sane approach to combating COVID and distributing what looks to be a successful vaccine. There is hope that the economy can recover and our kids can get back to school. And there will be a common sense approach to reducing and preventing gun violence.

I look forward to a peaceful and calm, but quiet, Thanksgiving and holiday season as a time of reflection on things past, present and future. I wish we could spend it with our kids and grandkids but not this year. Enjoy your quiet and tune out the loud noises out there.

Ghost guns and goblins

Happy Halloween. There may be fewer ghosts out there today given COVID and the scare about contracting the virus from strangers giving out candy. I don’t think the sacrifice is too great to miss this one year of Halloween. It seems like families are finding creative ways to celebrate the holiday in spite of it all.

But I want to talk about something else scary today. Ghost guns. Just as their name suggests they are sort of invisible guns that fly under the radar. According to Brady:

Ghost guns are unserialized and untraceable firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home. They are often sold through “ghost gun kits,” which include all of the parts and often the equipment necessary to build these weapons at home. These kits are widely available and can be purchased by anyone, including prohibited purchasers, domestic abusers, and gun traffickers — without a background check. As these kits and guns are sold at gun shows and online every day throughout the country, they undermine all of the life-saving policies that state legislatures have fought so hard to put in place.

Ghost guns are:
Designed to avoid all gun laws

Untraceable and unserialized

Available to buy without a background check

This criteria and lack of federal regulation is exactly ghost guns are a growing a weapon of choice among people who are legally prohibited from buying guns.

I think this is scary, and I’m sure my readers would agree with me. This is exactly why we need to elect leaders who will do something to bust ghost guns. As long as they are easy to buy, are unregulated and untraceable they should not be available to anyone.

Common sense would tell us this but the extreme gun lobby is missing a lot of common sense. And most citizens have no idea these kinds of guns are available. That is, unless one of their loved ones was killed or injured in the Saugus High School shooting by a ghost gun. You can see a photo of it in the article if you want to see what it looks like. From the article:

A teen who fatally shot two students and injured three others in Santa Clarita, California, used an unregistered “kit gun” in last week’s shooting, authorities said.

Kit guns, sometimes called “ghost guns” if they do not have a serial number, are self-assembled firearms, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told KABC-TV that the gun used in the shooting at Saugus High School does not have a serial number to track.

“The real concern here is that you have untraceable, unserialized firearms that exist completely outside of the regulatory scheme of federal and state law,” Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy at gun violence group Everytown, told USA TODAY. “People who are prohibited from owning firearms under federal or state law have ready access to make their own untraceable firearms, and that’s very dangerous.”

Check out Brady’s podcast about Ghost guns here.

On this Halloween I suggest that we need to know where ghosts are hiding and where they come from. That way we can stop fearing them. Until we get our system under control to stop the sale of ghost gun kits, we should be worried.

And there are certainly goblins out there threatening the safety and peacefulness of our upcoming election. Americans should not feel anxiety about guns at polling places. That is for 3rd world countries where guns are a regular feature of elections. But we are in the midst of the potential for tragedy and violence. It’s scary.

Much has been written about this topic but I found this article in the Washington Post a good summary of the current situation:

“Could the election devolve into civil war? Unlikely,” mused Miller, the founder of a budding network of members-only survivalist camps. “But look at World War I: Some worthless, low-level archduke gets assassinated and things escalate out of control. I’ve got people who are concerned that all it would take is a close election and some cheating.”

In Portland, Ore., where a right-wing armed group plans to show up at ballot drop-off sites on Tuesday with weapons in plain view, some extreme left-wing organizers are preparing to do the same.

“The right is not going to give up their power unless they feel threatened,” said Olivia Katbi Smith, a co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America in Portland. “People are opening up to the idea that a riot is the language of the unheard. Property destruction is not violence.”

On the eve of a presidential election fraught with tension, warning flares are bursting across American skies. From federal and local law enforcement to analysts who track radical groups, concern is high about the possibility that violence could erupt, especially if the vote count drags on for days without a clear winner.

Happy Halloween. It’s 3 days until the election. That’s scary enough if you support candidates who believe in and support common sense gun laws. And it’s scary considering the threats of violence, shootings, kidnappings and other potentially unsettling and tragic happenings in the next few weeks.

Until we elect people who will stand up to the scary lobbyists from the gun industry, ghost guns will haunt us. Until we deal with armed militia groups things will be scary in our country.

Stay calm. Vote. Be patient. Carry on.

Helpers and Civility

I just finished listening to Fred Guttenberg being interviewed on the Brady podcast, Red, Blue and Brady. For those who are unfamiliar with this podcast, I cannot recommend it highly enough. In fact, the podcast, which has been running for about a year, has been nominated for a Shorty Award. I was one of the first people interviewed for the podcast and was honored to talk about my sister’s story and my decades of advocacy for common sense gun safety reform. The podcast has highlighted many topics related to gun safety reform and has featured guests from a variety of life experiences and expertise.

Brady’s podcast, Red, Blue, and Brady, has been recognized as a finalist for a prestigious Shorty Award after only its first year of production and publication. The Shorty Awards honor the best in production and development for numerous categories of content and social media, including podcast production. Red, Blue, and Brady’s series on racial justice was nominated and is a finalist in the podcast category.

Red, Blue, and Brady” is the first podcast devoted solely to gun violence prevention, and we have now made it the first podcast devoted to gun violence prevention and racial justice. The nomination notes that in just three months, “Red, Blue, and Brady” (RBB) produced 17 podcast episodes devoted to the intersection of gun violence, racial inequality, and racial justice, featuring advocates, activists, academics, politicians, and survivors to speak on the issues.

“Red, Blue, and Brady” consistently placed among the top 200 education podcasts, demonstrating that the public is in need of well researched, passionate, bipartisan conversations on gun violence and race and racism. Episodes attracted listeners from across the U.S., as well as a notable number of listeners from Brazil, India, South Africa, and France. The https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Guttenbergseries garnered over 27,000 listeners and uplifts the work of organizations such as D.C.’s violence interrupters (episodes 45 and 59); a social club of mothers who have lost children to gun violence (episode 60); and youth activists (episodes 43 and 74).

Back to Fred Guttenberg. If you don’t know who he is, you should. Fred has been a vocal advocate for gun violence prevention since his daughter, Jaime, was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in 2016. We all know about this shooting don’t we? It was the shooting that started a movement that is still going strong- March For Our Lives.

It is a national tragedy that people have to march for their lives and keep shouting for support for common sense measures to reduce and prevent the daily toll of gun violence. It’s an epidemic and it continues even in the midst of the pandemic. In fact, more guns have been purchased and more gun background checks have been completed than since the years when the gun nuts decided that President Obama was going to take their guns away.

But this year’s sales spike is different because it’s being driven by a rise in first-time gun buyers, especially among African Americans and women.About 40% of gun sales in the first four months of the year were made by first-time buyers — far higher than the annual average of 24% over the past two decades, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association that tracks gun sales and analyzes industry trends.Gun sales among Black Americans are up 58% through September, according to the NSSF. Mark Oliva, the foundation’s director of public affairs, said the rise in Black gun ownership is unprecedented.”We’ve never seen a year-over-year increase that large in African-American gun buyers,” Oliva told CNN Business. “It is the largest demographic increase we’ve seen. People that are buying guns today look a whole lot less like me and a whole lot more like the rest of America,” added Oliva, who is White.

This ludicrous notion is raising its’ ugly head during the 2020 election as President Trump feeds on the fear and anger of those who claim that their rights are under attack and Joe Biden will take away their guns. People are scared in the uncertain times of COVID, racial unrest and job loss during a declining economy. Those fears are real but I maintain that guns will not help but rather have the potential to make things worse and more dangerous. And I am continually mystified at the anger over the life saving measure of mask wearing in public. This is complete and utter nonsense and the armed anti-maskers look like fools. But then, acting in your own best interest is, indeed, foolish. What happened to civility, civil protests and common sense?

Unfortunately not only do many believe guns will make them safer. Guns, of course, are deadly weapons designed to kill. Owning one comes with some risk. But I have written about this many times before.

Some extremists are arming up for a civil war and are engaged with right wing terror groups ready to roll if the results of the election are not to their liking. As I write this, they are getting ready for armed intimidation at polling places, urged on by an increasingly unhinged and desperate President who says he will likely not accept the results of the election.

“Part of the issue we’re seeing is with people congregating, whether it’s for protests or other issues, in cities, is it has basically brought together extremist individuals from all sides in close proximity,” said Seth Jones, the director of the Transnational Threats Project at the center. “We’ve seen people on all sides armed, and it does raise concerns about escalation of violence in U.S. cities.”

The report also linked the threat of violence to the country’s charged politics, the coronavirus pandemic and its financial fallout. It warned that violence could rise after the presidential election because of increasing polarization, growing economic challenges, concerns about racial injustice and the persistence of coronavirus health risks.

It said that if the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., wins the election, white supremacists could mobilize, with targets likely to be Black people, Latinos, Jews and Muslims. A Republican presidential victory could involve violence emanating out of large-scale demonstrations, the report said.

Minnesota has been at the center of some of action since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. We learned recently that a private Tennessee company intended to hire retired armed military and law enforcement to “guard” polling places. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was having none of it and pursued legal action. Just yesterday, the company “decided” they would not send armed folks to Minnesota and they will not be allowed to be near our polling places.:

Attorney General Keith Ellison launched a probe into Atlas Aegis on Tuesday, the same day that a pair of local advocacy groups filed federal lawsuits in response to ads placed by the company seeking to hire armed guards for the “protection of election polls” in Minnesota.

In a settlement reached Friday, Atlas Aegis agreed that it will not provide security services in Minnesota around the time of the election — effectively through Jan. 1. The company also agreed to provide public notification that it was wrong to suggest that it was recruiting armed guards at Minnesota polling places, which would have violated the state’s election laws.

“Minnesotans should expect that our elections will run as safely, smoothly, and securely as they always have,” Ellison said in a statement. “One of the reasons is that my office and our partners are actively enforcing our laws against threatening, frightening, or intimidating voters.”

Also in Minnesota, a member of the Boogaloo Bois, who was involved in firing at a police officer during the George Floyd protests, was charged with a crime.:

A sworn affidavit by the FBI underlying the complaint reveals new details about a far-right anti-government group’s coordinated role in the violence that roiled through civil unrest over Floyd’s death while in police custody.

Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old from Boerne, Texas, is charged with one count of interstate travel to incite a riot for his alleged role in ramping up violence during the protests in Minneapolis on May 27 and 28. According to charges, Hunter, wearing a skull mask and tactical gear, shot 13 rounds at the south Minneapolis police headquarters while people were inside. He also looted and helped set the building ablaze, according to the complaint, which was filed Monday under seal.

Unrest flared throughout Minneapolis following Floyd’s death, which was captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, causing Gov. Tim Walz to activate the Minnesota National Guard. As police clashed with protesters, Hunter and other members of the Boogaloo Bois discussed in private Facebook messages their plans to travel to Minneapolis and rally at the Cub Foods near the Third Precinct building, according to federal court documents. One of the people Hunter coordinated with posted publicly to social media: “Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the national network is going off,” the complaint states.

And of course, there is the plot to kidnap, put on trial and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

These are very real and fomented by our very own President who is making things worse instead of helping to calm the situation. I don’t recall this much violence or threats of violence during an election in my lifetime. We are living in dangerous and unpredictable times.

So many things about this are wrong and inexplicable. Brady is working hard to make sure elections are safe and that voters do not have their rights infringed. You can get involved by checking out the website. Make sure you know that efforts to intimidate voters at polling places with guns are illegal.

You can be a helper, as Fred Guttenberg is encouraging you and others to be in his new book, Find the Helpers. Fred spoke so passionately and eloquently in the podcast, about those who stepped in to help him and his family as they grieved the sudden violent and unexpected shock of the shooting death of their daughter. That is how he is getting through his loss. Helpers. I hope you will read his book to hear more about his story.

That is how I got through it after my sister was shot and killed in a domestic shooting during a contentious divorce. My friends, my church and many I did not know were there for me when I needed to talk and vent and cry. Like Fred, I decided not to sit back and do nothing but there were not many ways to be involved in 1992. It was the opportunity to go to the Million Mom March in 2000 that finally allowed me to be engaged and to use my grief to change things. I found my voice.

Fred has found his voice. Sometimes, as he admits, it gets a little loud and also inappropriate. But when the elected leaders do nothing on purpose, the frustration builds up and voices need to be loud. When they know there are solutions and they fail to solve them on purpose, it is hard to sit by. When they espouse fealty to a corrupt and failing NRA, voices need to be heard.

Gun Violence/Mass Shooting Awareness Orange Small Ribbon Pin. March for Our Lives Pin in a Bag

Fred and his family started a charitable organization called Orange Ribbons for Jaime that will give scholarships to selected students in the name of Jaime. The orange ribbons, of course, are for gun violence prevention. Our Northland Brady Chapter and Protect Minnesota have been bringing orange ribbons to events for years now to depict victims of gun violence. Orange ribbons remind us that we are here to help victims and survivors of gun violence.

Your voice needs to be heard. Be a helper. Do something. Be watchful during the election and in the weeks and months after because it is going to be a bumpy and rocky road. Be prepared. Stay calm. Carry on and be a voice for common sense.