A love affair with guns

love_and_deathbAmericans love their guns. They love them too much if we are to believe the statistics about the daily carnage in our country. And yes, let it be said that most Americans who own guns for hunting or casual use are careful and legal with their guns. That said, let’s also say that the fact that too many of those otherwise “responsible” and “law abiding” gun owners are not.

The difference between being irresponsible with your hammer or not careful with your knife and not being responsible or careful with your gun could be a lost life. Why? Because hammers and knives, when used for their stated purpose, can cause some bodily injuries or maybe even get used in homicides or to harm others but the infrequency of that compared to gun deaths and injuries is a fact. And guns inherent and obvious use is to kill a person or an animal.

Americans love their guns to death. Most gun deaths are suicide in our country. And then there are those pesky “accidental” discharges killing our children and toddlers once a week or so.

So, on Black Friday, apparently Americans bought enough guns to arm the Marine Corps. Stunning. And what is even more stunning is that many of these guns went to people who already own other guns. The truth is that fewer people and households own guns. But those who do own many of them. From the article from The Trace (linked):

Ater Thursday’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College claimed ten lives in Roseburg, Oregon, officials revealed that Christopher Harper Mercer, the gunman behind the attack, had owned a stockpile of 14 firearms. The number elicited shock from the gunman’s father live on CNN: “How was he able to compile that kind of arsenal?” Ian Mercer asked. But as it turns out, owning ten or more firearms isn’t all that uncommon: According to a forthcoming study of gun ownership conducted by Harvard researchers, more than six million Americans already do. In other words, there are more people in America who own ten or more guns than there are residents of Denmark.

Amazing and concerning.

Take a look at this video clip of a Bill Maher show about how we love our guns and love to openly carry them for effect  ( or at least how the minority of us love their guns).

And what does this have to do with recent mass shootings? It is not only my view that the easy access to guns has caused a lot of mayhem on the home front. It is now speculated that the shooters in the San Bernardino mass shooting were able to amass a virtual arsenal of weapons, ammunition and bomb making materials. It’s easy for that to happen in gun nutty America. Does anyone remember that Congress allowed the restrictions on certain types of assault rifles, including certain features, to expire?:

Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza reportedly used a Bushmaster .223 rifle, a type of AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, to gun down 20 children in their first-grade classrooms on Friday.

AR-15s were one of 18 semiautomatic weapons banned under a 1994 law that expired in 2004 despite broad public support and a drop in gun fatalities, USA Today reported at the time.

Since then, killers have used semiautomatics to target victims en masse at Virginia Tech; theFort Hood military base; anAurora, Colo. movie theater; aSikh temple in Wisconsin; and now an elementary school in Newtown, Conn..

Let’s see. Are we safer from mass shootings now that that has happened? What kind of weapons are often used? Right. AR-15s or AK-47s.

Sigh.

High capacity magazines designed to attach to assault weapons are easy to buy in our country. Perhaps we need to restrict the amount of ammunition one can buy at once and require background checks for ammunition as well. Remember the Colorado movie theater shooter’s on-line purchases of thousands of rounds of ammunition? The victims’ families do. It’s kind of hard to argue that it’s OK for someone to be able to buy this much ammunition with no background check or even with a background check for that matter. We are not talking your average deer or pheasant hunter here.

We don’t know yet how the San Bernardino shooters obtained the 2 assault rifles used in the shooting but all guns start out as legal purchases so presumably they can be traced to their original owner. But it’s easy enough to buy as many guns as one wants or needs for some kind of attack right here at home- terror attack, domestic shooting, school shooting, or whatever.

And don’t get started on California’s strict gun laws before you read this from the article above:

Despite California’s relatively tough gun laws, it is not difficult to legally buy semiautomatic rifles that critics call assault weapons but are marketed by gun makers as “modern sporting rifles.” C.D. Michel, a Long Beach lawyer who has brought numerous legal challenges against gun ownership restrictions, said that “none of these laws have proven to be effective.”

“There’s a substitution effect,” said Mr. Michel, who counts among his clients the National Rifle Association. “If you ban Rifle X, people will use Rifle Y. When you strip away the prohibited features, you have a bare rifle, if you will, that is not necessarily a banned assault weapon.”

Go online, and it is not hard to find semiautomatic AR-15-style rifles offered for sale as “California compliant.” This is despite a series of laws dating to 1989 that banned a number of specific brands, as well as certain generic features.
Also, Californians can still legally possess assault rifles that they owned before the prohibitions went into effect as long as they have registered them with the state. More than 100,000 such weapons are registered.

The ban on high-capacity magazines, as well as the requirement that a magazine be affixed to the gun, was meant to prevent firing dozens of rounds from a single magazine and then quickly reloading, as has happened in many mass shooting cases. The development of the bullet button took advantage of a provision in California law allowing the sale of a gun with a magazine that could be removed with a “tool,” rather than simply by pressing a release-catch with a finger.

You can see how gun lobby amendments or loopholes get added to otherwise strong gun bills so they get their way anyway.

Insidious.

And worse than that, it’s easy for those who are prohibited from buying guns legally from also getting them legally because we haven’t made it illegal. You know what I mean- buying guns from private sellers at a gun show, on-line a flea market or maybe from a relative or friend who doesn’t know that you are a domestic abuser.

And what about those “everyday” gun deaths that don’t get the attention they deserve. Those are the ones that take the lives of most Americans killed by guns. You know, like my sister’s in a domestic shooting. Those. Vox has again done us a great service by putting the data in a form that is easy to understand, even for our Congress members and legislators. From the article:

We know that many of the everyday gun deaths are preventable. The research, helpfully aggregated by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, shows that after controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths. The research is actually a bit weaker for mass shootings — in large part because such tragedies are, thankfully, somewhat rare, so they’re difficult to study. But the basic point is that we know restricting access to guns — and, better yet, confiscating guns — could help prevent thousands of gun deaths.

We don’t make sure that people like the shooter of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs have their guns taken from them because they could be a danger to themselves or others. So we let them keep their guns because…. rights. And now, of course, 3 innocent Americans just lost their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Often love affairs end in separation or divorce. It seems like the time is here to divorce the corporate gun lobby from the elected leaders who have been frightened into doing their bidding- sort of like the power and control an abusive partner has on their spouse or partner.

Yesterday the Senate was forced to take a vote on background checks and the terror gap loophole in our gun laws that allows known terrorists on the no fly list to purchase guns anyway legally. The Senate, while debating repealing Obama Care once again and taking away the rights of women to legal health care options, in it’s pandering to the gun extremists, voted to allow extremists, terrorists, domestic abusers, felons and others to be able to buy guns legally. The Brady Campaign sent a letter to Congress  just hours before the shooting in San Bernardino warning Congress of the dangers to Americans if we don’t close the terror gap and require Brady background checks on all gun sales.

Sigh.

You can’t make this stuff up. In the face of 2 horrendous mass shootings, home grown terror or otherwise, our Senators failed us. Here is the list. You can thank those who had the common sense to understand that keeping our country safe from domestic abusers with guns who target a clinic that provides services to women they are trying to deny, should be a priority. And you can ask what the others were thinking when they voted to allow terrorists to get guns legally and to allow just anyone to purchase a gun with no background check.

It’s time to divorce the pandering, fear, paranoia and money interests from our own supposedly deliberative body of law makers who should vote their consciences rather than their fear of being re-elected. Do we have a democracy any more?

Those who voted no on these life saving measures will be held accountable. The American public is in no mood to just accept this any longer. They just may divorce some of their leaders and vote for those who are willing to stand up for the victims and survivors and understand that more guns have not made us safer. Indeed, the opposite is what is happening every day. 89 American families a day are mourning their loss of a family member to gunshot injuries.

This is the definition of insanity. We are better than this. It’s past time to demand common sense action. Go ahead and pray for the families if you think that will help. And think about them every day. As long as it isn’t your loss, it’s easy to divorce yourself from the carnage. But when suddenly it’s your loss, it’s a different story to tell.

Schools, shopping malls, Planned Parenthood clinics, hospitals ( a Denver hospital was held hostage by a gunman yesterday), colleges, gatherings of public employees in a public building, and any other place where shooters choose their targets should be free from gun violence. And no, you gun rights extremists,  guns carried by law abiding gun carriers just don’t make a difference in shootings like this. That nonsensical argument needs to be put to rest once and for all. When the shooting began at the Planned Parenthood clinic, a gun permit holder wanted to get involved. He was told to get away. How would law enforcement know if he was the shooter in question or just a guy with a gun trying to take matters into his own hands.

And the love affair also extends to carrying guns around in nearly all public places, sometimes openly carried, by a bunch of folks who are flaunting their gun rights just because they can. There are plenty of people who shouldn’t be carrying guns but do so anyway because of flaws in our laws. Check out this article in the Star Tribune by someone who admits that he has enough prior mental difficulties due to depression and PTSD that he is a person who really should not be allowed to carry a gun. But he got his Minnesota permit anyway.

But debating the supremacy of public policy vs. my civil rights is of little use for the moment, because for the next five years I can walk into any federal firearms licensee storefront in Minnesota and walk out with a semiautomatic pistol, high-capacity magazines and all of the ammunition I can afford.

How many permit holders are there like me in Minnesota? That’s impossible to tell. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year 6.7 percent of U.S. adults 18 or older experience a major depressive disorder. And nearly two-thirds “do not actively seek nor receive proper treatment,” according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Doing the math, Minnesota can expect that thousands of the more than 200,000 citizens with permits to purchase — as many as 8,900 — will experience a major depressive disorder this year. Like me, they’re not appearing on the sheriff’s radar. Unlike me, they don’t receive treatment.

So we have more than a serious problem. It is really an emergency. But our legislators and Congress members put their heads firmly in the sand and hope it will go away. What they are really hoping is that they don’t have to deal with gun issues. Why? Because in their heart of hearts most of them actually are on the side of reasonable gun laws just like me. But they are afraid to say so because the gun extremists, a mere minority of Americana and even of law abiding gun owners, might go after them. So what? 92% of Americans and even gun owners and NRA members want their leaders to do the right thing.

One has to ask then, who are our leaders truly representing? Not me. Not you. Not the way too many victims and survivors. Not gun owners.

Who?

We need the question answered.

UPDATE:

Within moments of my posting this one, I ran across this disgusting article. One of the Senators ( Presidential candidate) who voted against common sense yesterday is going ahead to host a second amendment rally even in the wake of the latest mass shootings. Let’s see if you can guess who this is before I provide a quote. Did you get it yet? Here it is ( from the article):

According to a report in Politico, the event was previously scheduled, but not canceled because Cruz spokesman Catherine Frazier told Politico “even in the midst of horrific events like this, we should never rush to take away the basic liberties enshrined in our Constitution that are guaranteed to law-abiding American citizens.”

As Politico pointed out, the Crossroads Shooting Sports boasts that part of its mission is to “glorify God in all we do and to be a positive influence to all who come in contact with CrossRoads Shooting Sports LLC.”

Yes, of course. Senator Ted Cruz flaunting gun rights while the families of the latest victims have not yet buried their loved ones.  I would say shame on him but he won’t listen because his mission is all about getting elected no matter what and pandering to God and gun rights extremists.

God help us all.

 

UPDATE #2:

Just when you thought things couldn’t be more ridiculous, I ask you to take a long look at the family of Nevada Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore packing heat for their Christmas card photo. Nothing says merry and happy and joy like a 5 year old holding a Walther P22.

She loves her guns and her right to look totally out of touch with America and likely many of her constituents. May she have a safe new year though with kids bearing arms, that is iffy.

 

 

 

An abomination

San Bernarndino shooting
Image from Huffington Post

 

 

 

An article in the Atlantic called it what it is- an abomination. From the article:

Three years ago, after that week’s American gun massacre (the one at a movie theater in Colorado), I wrote about our horrific shared understanding that these killings will go on. Similar things happen in other countries, but nowhere else do they keep happening. Australia, Norway, the U.K., Canada—societies like these do something about it. A society like the United States doesn’t. Can’t. The shootings are appalling. And our public paralysis is worse. (…) It cannot go on. And at this moment, I can’t bring myself to complete the thought by saying, but it will. This is an abomination, and it is a political choice.

Is it paralysis? Perhaps. It is, as some have said, a choice. It’s a choice to ignore the carnage because…. rights. That is an abomination. Where are the statements from the gun lobby about the latest carnage? Maybe they are beginning to feel like the rest of us- speechless.

What can we say any more that we haven’t said before? How can Congress stand by and offer only thoughts and prayers without offering to do something to stop the slaughter of innocent Americans? It is, after all, the job of Congress to protect the “homeland”. Where are they? Offering tweets.

The twitter world was on fire yesterday and last night. And one person got it very right when he started screen shooting the tweets of some of our leaders and added his own comments about how much money each of them had taken from the NRA. Make no mistake about it, that is the problem. Follow the money to the paralysis.

Insanity.

Last night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes interviewed Igor Volsky of Think Progress who tweeted out the connections to the NRA to those offering thoughts and prayers. You can read his tweets at the link just above. Check out his comments last night on MSNBC.

The shooting in San Bernardino was just one more in the daily list of mass shootings– the 2nd just yesterday if you read the linked Washington Post article. Is this the tragedy that will make the changes we deserve? Will this be the one? Will Congress stand up at long last and tell the NRA and others in the gun rights world to stand down?

Common sense is worthless if it doesn’t lead to action. And that is what the gun lobby is banking on. But the steady drip drip drip of the mass terror attacks on American soil as the victims pile up is finally entering the collective conscience of the 92% of Americans who support common sense gun legislation. They are acting. They are phoning Congress and signing petitions by the thousands. Last night the Brady Campaign asked people to text to call US Senators and thousands responded within minutes. #enough. You can watch what Brady Campaign President Dan Gross had to say about the latest “terror attack” in our country as he spoke on CNN.

The American public has had #enough. They had #enough a long time ago.

The media has also had #enough. Vox is doing a great job of charting or unique gun problem pointing out that: “The research on this is overwhelmingly clear. No matter how you look at the data, more guns means more gun deaths.”

With more than 300 million guns circulating in America and owned by even fewer people, it is inevitable that the carnage will increase. That many guns means that many people could be angry enough or paranoid or fearful enough to use their legally purchased guns. ( according to the LA Times article I linked to above about the latest shooting, the guns used were legally purchased). When guns are readily available in a moment of anger, depression, while drinking alcohol, or just “fooling around” they will cause death and injury.

And further, when the guns not legally purchased get into the hands of those we prohibit from purchasing them legally, we have a double problem. There is absolutely no reason not to do a Brady background check on each and every gun sale in our country. The gun lobby has made up reasons not to do this. They are wrong- so wrong.

Yes, America, we have a problem. It is spiraling out of control. Can we put our heads together and gain control of the situation? I believe we can. It’s not rocket science. We sent people to the moon. We can do this, too. Congress should drop all of their other nonsensical business ( repealing Obamacare for the umpteenth time, threatening to shut down the government, voting to keep Syrian refugees out of the country and blah, blah, blah) and roll up their sleeves to prevent the daily carnage. But first they need to drop their fear of the NRA and the corporate gun lobby.

We’re waiting but the longer we wait, the more bodies will pile up. If Congress members were like the rest of us, they were watching the drama unfold on live TV yesterday and last night. It looked like a scene out of a war movie. We are at war with each other. Armored vehicles with SWAT teams looking for armed citizens in tactical gear with assault rifles. Combat on our streets. Law enforcement outgunned by every day citizens with arsenals and tactical gear, all dressed up for battle.

We are better than this.

Congress? Are you with us?

 

Where do terrorists live?

gun_rally002-4_3
Image from USA Today

It turns out that American terrorists mostly live in several states though the Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of insurrectionists, militia groups, and terrorists in all 50 states. Check out the map for where they live in your own state. Let’s take a look at this article about the most recent of our mass terror attacks– that being the shooting up of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. From the article:

Among dozens of avowedly Christian, anti-Semitic, and right-wing terrorists cataloged by the Anti-Defamation League and theSouthern Poverty Law Center, you’ll find many from these two states: Charles Robert Barefoot Jr., a North Carolina Klan leader who was convicted in 2012 on charges involving firearms, explosives, and violent conspiracy. Kody Brittingham, a Marine at Camp Lejeune who confessed to plotting the assassination of President Obama. Paul Chastain, a South Carolina militiaman who tried to acquire plastic explosives and threatened to kill federal officials. Steve Bixby, a violent activist from an anti-Semitic household, who gunned down two police officers in Abbeville, South Carolina. Daniel Schertz, a klansman arrested in Greenville, South Carolina, and later convicted, on weapons charges involving racist bomb plots.

And then there’s Dylann Roof. After allegedly murdering nine black people in a Charleston, South Carolina, church this summer, Roof drove more than three hours north, to Shelby, North Carolina. Nobody stopped him at the state border. The boundary between North and South Carolina, like the boundary between Syria and Iraq, is a joke.

North and South Carolina apparently host a good number of home grown terrorists. What is it about these states? Loose gun laws for one. Ultra conservative political persuasion for another. Clinging to the Confederate Flag and what it stands for as the Charleston church shooting ramped up for yet another. There is so much important information in this article for us to digest. We can only hope that our politicians will actually digest it and think about what they are saying. Denying Syrian refugees entrance into our country will not solve our problem with home grown terrorism. As it turns out, according to the above article:” Of the 77 people killed in these 27 incidents, two-thirds died at the hands of anti-abortion fanatics, “Christian Identity” zealots, white anti-Semites, or other right-wing militants.”

Yikes. Congress- we have a problem. Are you watching and listening?

There are militia groups and terror cells in all 50 states. But then there are the “lone wolf” types like the shooter in Colorado Springs who fly under the radar, basically unknown or little known to law enforcement. But they can ALL get their hands on weapons in the US. That is why we have so many more of these attacks than other countries. In the above article, the author hones in on the basic reason for the existence of the militia groups- they are afraid for their second amendment rights. Because surely President Obama and those awful gun grabbers are going to take away their guns and their rights. 

It’s already happening, right? We are coming for their guns. According to the NRA and other gun lobby groups, this is the scenario of the immediate future. From this article by Josh Horwitz of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the NRA is encouraging insurrectionism:

An even more disturbing NRA revelation was largely ignored by media last week, however. On October 20, the NRA tweeted a link to a blog post by North Carolinian and former PJ Media writer Bob Owens with the text, “Make no mistake, anti-gunners are ‘calling for forcible disarmament.'”

The blog post, titled, “Gun Confiscation Fantasies are Fast-Tracking the Democrat Party to Destruction,” is a deeply insurrectionist screed in which Owens fantasizes about a violent civil war with Democrats who support gun reform.

If you believe this, I have a bridge to sell you…..

And then there are the Open Carry extremists who insist on walking our streets with their military style weapons. Remember the one who killed 3 people last month in Colorado Springs?

Also apparently “law abiding” militia members are not so safe with their own guns. In North Dakota, one member shot another– too much alcohol, militia mentality and guns just are not a good mix. From the article: ” “They have some very different beliefs about the world. Their beliefs didn’t mix.””

Sigh. When your politics don’t mix and you are armed, tragedy happens. What about this are we not understanding?

We are war with each other. A portion of our own citizens are armed and ready to fight those who are in another camp, or of another political or religious persuasion, or another color, or another ideological position about abortion, terrorism, gun rights or immigration.

For the sake of common sense and public health and safety, we just have to be dealing with the true dangers before us every day. Can a group of Black Lives Matter protesters not gather together without fear of alleged white supremacists shooting at them? Is there a possibility they won’t even be charged for shooting and injuring 5 black people? Insanity.

Can women not go to an abortion clinic for needed health care procedures and sometimes abortions ( legal under the law) without fear of being shot up? Can refugees or immigrants not go to public places without fear of being beat up because they look different?  Several disturbing anti-Muslim incidents have surfaced lately and they will surely increase in number if the gun rights extremists, Presidential candidates and politicians keeping fanning the flames of hate, intolerance and insurrectionism.

It is now revealed that the Colorado Springs shooter ranted about “no more body parts.” Remember where that came from? I do. Fake videos.

This one happened in Minnesota when a Muslim woman was beaten by a beer mug by an intolerant woman customer.

A Muslim cab driver was shot and injured by a gun guy in Pittsburgh because he was a Muslim.

We are living in an unsettling time in American history. Terror attacks abroad are of obvious concern. But the anger and concern should be turned inward towards our own policies and dangerous rhetoric. It’s past time for this to change. Let’s get to work and demand that our lawmakers do something that will actually keep us safe.

This will be cross posted on commongunsense.com.

UPDATE:

Many are writing similar articles and posts about America’s home grown terrorists after the Planned Parenthood shooting. This one notes even higher numbers of attacks than I had reported from above articles:

Though terrorism perpetrated by Muslims receives a disproportionate amount of attention from politicians and reporters, the reality is that right-wing extremists pose a much greater threat to people in the United States than terrorists connected to ISIS or similar organizations. As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June in the New York Times, Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” (…)

Kurzman and Schanzer also surveyed hundreds of law enforcement agencies regarding their assessment of various threats. Of the 382 agencies they spoke with, “74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction,” while only “39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations.”

Meanwhile, the percentage of refugees that are connected to terrorist plots is vanishingly small.

Let’s get our priorities straight. They are now misplaced and misunderstood by people who should know better.

 

“Enough is enough”

Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooting
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – NOVEMBER 27: People are rescued near the scene of a shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

This is cross posted at Commongunsense.com

President Obama has issued a statement about the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs. I am going to include it in it’s entirety, below:

“The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence — people who woke up in the morning and bid their loved ones goodbye with no idea it would be for the last time.

And yet, two days after Thanksgiving, that’s what we are forced to do again.

We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect.  We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America.  And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them.

This is not normal.  We can’t let it become normal.  If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.  Period.  Enough is enough.

May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.”

The President is speaking truth to the gun lobby’s power. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do this. If we don’t deal with our own domestic terror attacks, occurring almost daily now, then we will have failed our children and our citizens.

The identity of the shooter has been released, along with a photo. Please note that this was a white man and not a Syrian refugee or a foreign terrorist.  He had an AK-47. So who should we fear more? Syrian families with young children trying to escape the torture and violence happening in their own country or (mostly) white home grown terrorists shooting innocent people up in places all over our country. For surely, there was terror involved in the hours long siege at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

I’m sure my readers will remember that just a month ago, on a different holiday, the streets of Colorado Springs were the scene of yet another act of terror committed by a young white man walking around with an assault rifle as if it was normal.  But, alas, he could have been just an every day open gun carrier exercising his rights until suddenly he wasn’t. America at its’ worst.

What’s normal in America? Let’s look at a few recent incidents involving gun owners for how normal these shootings have become.

A “law abiding” gun carrier shot a waitress at a Mississippi waffle restaurant because she asked him not to smoke inside. She died.

A South Carolina felon who should not have had a gun in the first place, got away with murder because of Stand Your Ground legislation.

Bloggers and others are keeping track of this nonsense. David Waldman of the Daily Kos’ GunFail is finding the “accidental” discharges by law abiding gun owners and reporting on them. I have written far too many times about such negligent and irresponsible gun owner failures to use their guns in a safe manner.

The only conclusions we can draw from the mass terror shootings like the one at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, men walking the streets with assault rifles, terrorists access to guns in American, “accidental “gun discharges, domestic shootings, gun suicides, toddlers shooting themselves or others is that we have a gun problem in our country. We are not using common sense or the necessary outrage and courage to change much of anything about easy access to guns. Why not? The corporate gun lobby, of course.

The public discourse has become more and more loud and violent towards refugees, people of color, women, Planned Parenthood clinics, President Obama and politicians who don’t agree with people mostly on the far right spectrum of politics. Inevitably this is going to lead to shootings or threats of violence towards all of the above. What happened in Colorado Springs may be one example. Threats of violence had already caused this clinic to take very strong security measures. Clinics across the country are now in fear of the next terror attack because of this one. That is the purpose of terror attacks.

How can we separate the fear, intolerance, terror, racism and violence mongering from what happened in Minneapolis in the shooting attack against Minneapolis Black Lives Matter protesters?

We can’t.

What’s different about the Colorado Springs shooting and the recent Paris terror attacks? Not much. We are afraid of the wrong terrorists. It’s no secret that I am a liberal person. But that aside, it is the Republican candidates for President who are ramping up the fear and violence with their own statements. Check out this blog post from Amanda Gailey writing for Crooks and Liars:

Combined with gun lobby propaganda and increasingly threatening militia groups, the American right wing is fomenting racial and ethnic violence and insurrectionism that threatens the core values of our country.

The corporate gun lobby, mostly the NRA, is also responsible for much of the fear and paranoia exhibited in recent shootings. From the article above, written by Ana Marie Cox for The Guardian:

“The NRA is no longer concerned with merely protecting the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms – the gun lobby wants to use those arms on its fellow citizens. Or, as the NRA thinks of them: “the bad guys”.

It is useless to argue that the NRA is only targeting criminals with that line, because the NRA has defined “good guys” so narrowly as to only include the NRA itself. What does that make everyone else?

“I ask you,” LaPierre grimaced at the end of his litany of doom. “Do you trust this government to protect you?”

This is not one of the items the membership voted upon. Indeed, Wayne LaPierre’s confidence in making this question rhetorical is one of its most frightening aspects, though of course it’s his prescription that truly alarmed me:

We are on our own. That is a certainty, no less certain than the absolute truth – a fact the powerful political and media elites continue to deny, just as sure as they would deny our right to save our very lives. The life or death truth that when you’re on your own, the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!

You cannot defend this as anything other than the dangerous ravings of a madman. LaPierre’s description of the world is demonstrably untrue, and not just in concrete, objective terms. To cite just one example: crime rates in the US have been falling for 20 years – a statistic that some gun rights advocates brandish as proof of the selectively defined cliché, “more guns, less crime.” Just as troubling is LaPierre’s internal inconsistency about what it means for NRA members to be “on their own”.”

Yes, America, we have a serious problem. Violent and fear mongering rhetoric is fueling the flames of intolerance and insurrectionism in our country. In combination with far too easy access to guns of all types, we have created a monster that is now rearing its’ ugly head.

It’s past time for us, as Americans, to decide on our morals and values. Do we value the right of people to live without devastating gun violence or do we value gun rights more? I know my answer.

We are better than this. Well, we should be anyway. The fact that we aren’t is frightening. If this continues, we will not be living in a democracy for much longer.

We have had #Enough

Peace and justice on Thanksgiving

Puzzle Pieces: Justice Concept.

As Thanksgiving approaches we should all pause and think about what is going on right now in our country. The Paris terror attacks have elevated the fear, anger and paranoia of Americans for good reason. But since the terror attack, some of the reactions have been amazingly uneducated and utterly frightening. I have been writing about this in my last few blog posts.

But now terror has hit Minnesota in the form of an attack by armed (alleged) white supremacists in Minneapolis against members of the Black Lives Matters protest over the shooting of a young black man by police last week.

This is a domestic terror attack- there is not another word for it. When so many people have been encouraged to arm themselves for perceived threats to their safety, this is inevitable. When so much hate, anger and fear is spewed on the air waves every day, what do we expect? More guns have definitely not made us safer or more polite. We have a violent and racist society.

Mike the Gun Guy has written about the Minneapolis shooting. It’s something to consider. From his post:

If you don’t think there’s a connection between the Black Lives Matter protestor who was beaten up at a Trump rally in Alabama and the attempted killing of peaceful demonstrators in Minneapolis, then you haven’t been paying attention to the news or the Trump campaign.  When you stand up in front of a cheering-jeering audience and call someone a ‘jerk’ or a ‘dope’ or a ‘crazy’ because they yell something during your speech, you’ve abandoned any degree of public civility and are now just pandering to the lowest and meanest folks in the crowd. (…)

But they don’t have to keep quiet if they can go to a rally headlined by Trump.  And they don’t have to keep quiet when they walk up to a demonstration held by Black Lives Matter because another Black man may have been gunned down by the cops.  After all, these guys have a Constitutional right to call someone a name and they also have a Constitutional right to walk around with a gun.  Put those two rights together and you know what you get?  You get three young Black men in the hospital with gunshot wounds and the cops, in a shooting which took place right outside a police station, still looking for the guys who pulled out the guns.

It happened right outside the police station.  Think about that.

Didn’t these armed thugs know that armed police officers were nearby? Of course they did. They didn’t care. Their hate, racism and anger fueled them and combined with guns, it didn’t go well. The suspects have all been arrested.

We don’t know yet what exactly happened in the case of the shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis. Both sides have a story to tell and evidence to bring. An investigation will hopefully bring some justice and peace to citizens of the 4th precinct.

No matter what happened to Jamar Clark, one can understand mistrust of officers by people of color given the incidents that have happened over many years’ time. The tenuous relationship between people of color and law enforcement has been much in the news all over our country.

A Chicago officer just turned himself into police over the shooting of a black teen in October of 2014. It turns out that the officer shot the teen 16 times, many of the bullets shot after the teen was lying dead on the street.

These are difficult times for America. When there are so many guns on our streets and in our homes, the inevitable result is mistrust of others. Yes, black teens and young men are dying in greater numbers than their white counterparts. Yes, white men are dying more often than their counterparts of color in gun suicides. Toddlers and small children are “accidentally” shooting themselves and others at an alarming rate. Mass shootings occupy our media spaces on a regular basis. Yes, white radicalized home grown terrorists are shooting people of color. Stand Your Ground laws are unmistakably aimed at people of color and affect them at a greater rate than white people.  And yes, black young men are also shooting each other and innocent people in gang related shootings all over America. Police officers are being shot by others in various scenarios. And police officers are sometimes shooting  young men of color in sometimes justified shootings, sometimes not.

The issue of race and guns needs to be examined so we can understand the issues faced by our communities of color. It is not without controversy as nothing is with gun rights and gun violence prevention. The Trace has written about the history of race and gun rights. It’s worth the read for a better understanding of what is going on in our own country right now.

It’s impossible not to connect the dots from this article with the summer shooting of 9 Black people at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was an act of terror and it was an act of overt racism.

Home grown extremists are shooting Americans on a pretty regular basis.

We have a gun problem that is contributing to all of the above.

Minnesota has had a rough year for shootings. There have been many shootings in the communities of color. There have been horrific domestic shootings and the usual suicides which account for 80% of gun deaths in Minnesota. Just yesterday, a man in a domestic dispute was shot and killed by officers in a Minnesota suburb. Domestic cases are among the most dangerous for officers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Getting a handle on our nation’s public health and safety gun violence epidemic won’t be easy. But we shouldn’t stop until we have the conversation we deserve about the causes and effects of devastating gun violence. Common sense and resolve have to lead the discussion.  Facts will be important but our sense of justice and common values should be at the forefront of the discussion and decision making.

You may have conversations around your Thanksgiving table with family and friends about the many controversial  topics surrounding us. There are terror attacks, Syrian refugees, what to do with old aunt Sally, how to deal with cousin Peter, what to do about Uncle Joe’s drinking, where to go shopping on Black Friday and other important and not so important topics. If shootings and gun violence come up there are some answers to some of your gun toting relatives in this article in The Trace. “Arming” yourself with the facts rather than arguing at an emotional level may make your Thanksgiving table conversation less confrontational.

This Thanksgiving is going to be very difficult for a lot of people who are missing a family member because of a deadly shooting. Please think of them while you are with your own family and friends. And stay safe this holiday season.

God help us all. We will need all the help we can get to deal with all of the tragedy and unrest surrounding us.

Guns for terrorists, lies and elections

pinocchioThis post has been edited since first posted to include new information.

It’s no surprise that we are in the middle of the 2016 Presidential election. Candidates are posturing about all issues before them but in light of the Paris terror attack, the rhetoric has become hysterical and downright deceptive. The lying is absolutely stunning to me and the fact that Americans are buying it is what I am truly afraid of. When Donald Trump can drum up the fear and anger of Americans to get elected, we have a serious problem that we should all fear. How can we believe someone who claims that there were people in New Jersey who cheered when the Twin Towers collapsed? This claim received a “pants on fire” rating from Politifact. 

When we elect a President, among other things, truthfulness should be at the top of the list. This person will be the leader of the free world that is now more dangerous and complicated than ever.

One area of discussion that most of the Republican candidates don’t want to have is the ability of terrorists to be able to legally buy guns in America from licensed firearms dealers. An article from Media Matters sums it up nicely: 

NRA: Rep. King “Is Pushing A Scheme To Deny Your Second Amendment Rights” With Terror Watch List Legislation. The NRA’s online magazine America’s 1st Freedom misidentified Rep. King as a Democrat in an article opposing the legislation, writing, “Amid the horror and outrage over last week’s Paris terrorist attacks, on the pretext of stopping terrorism, New York Democrat Congressman Pete King is pushing a scheme to deny your Second Amendment rights — and deny your right to due process in the bargain — by banning firearm sales to anyone on the FBI’s so-called Terrorist Watch List.” [America’s 1st Freedom, 11/20/15]

Anyone can get a gun through a private sale with no Brady background check. So the argument that terrorists will just get their guns somewhere else is true but ludicrous. We can prevent that as well as most Americans understand and want us to do.

And let’s get this straight. Republican Congressman Peter King is pushing for a bill that would keep terrorists from having guns. He’s not a Democrat. Are the people who write this stuff ignorant or clever?

Why in the world would the gun lobby oppose a bill like this? It would not deny law abiding citizens’ right to bear arms or due process. And yes, there are problems with the list:

So, clearly, the watchlist itself needs improvement and that ought to come first. But nonetheless, there surely are many thousands of people who are legitimately on the list. And those who are should surely be barred from legally obtaining firearms.

But as usual, the National Rifle Association has stood in the way of legislation that is designed to prohibit terrorists from purchasing firearms legally, and that obstructionism goes back to 2007.

Naturally, one the NRA’s arguments is that terrorists will just acquire firearms illegally, so such a law would only hurt “law-abiding citizens.” The gun lobby also trots out its standard rap about this kind of legislation being “sponsored by gun-control extremists.”

We just don’t need those kinds of false statements. It’s all hands on deck right now. Let’s fix the problem in a bill that will prevent those who are actual terrorists from being able to buy guns. If we truly care about the safety of America, we will get to work post haste and get this done. We can’t wait for the politicians who are clueless, deceiving us or so in bed with the corporate gun lobby that they are afraid, to get on board. The time is now to act.

The New York Daily News has been on the attack against the NRA’s opposition to closing the terror gap and now going after their fearless leader, Wayne LaPierre in this latest publication. So where is Mr. LaPierre? Where is a statement from the NRA about a bill that could save Americans from a terror attack? From the article:

At issue is the NRA using their overwhelming influence with lawmakers to block a law that would ban anyone on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a gun.

The bill, known as the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, was proposed in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris that left 129 people in Paris dead and hundreds more injured. Gun control advocates say that a legal loophole allows suspects on the terrorist watch list to purchase guns while the same list prevents them from flying on U.S. airlines.

The bill was originally proposed in 2007, but has been blocked by conservative lawmakers who are heavily backed by the NRA.

According GOP House member and bill co-sponsor Rep. Peter King of Long Island, the NRA is opposed to any bills that might stop anyone from purchasing a gun.

“Anything which they feel restricts the use or the ability to retain a gun they’re opposed to,” King said.

The Daily News doubled down on their attacks on the NRA for their intransigence on sensible gun legislation, with a lead story Monday morning that began: “Under the gun, with its leader nowhere to be found, the NRA faced a fusillade of new criticism Sunday for prioritizing gun rights over prevention of a Paris-style massacre in the U.S.”

I found this response by the NRA-ILA to the discussion about the terror gap:

Regardless of whether the transaction is given the green light to proceed or is denied, the encounter is noted at the time and its import is assessed in the same manner as all newly discovered pieces of intelligence about the subject of the investigation. … What the attempt to buy a firearm means in a counterterrorism investigation, and as a result the subsequent actions it warrants, necessarily must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Of course, just because and individual is allowed to purchase a legal item doesn’t mean that person is thereafter beyond the reach of law enforcement. If authorities knew, for example, that a person were buying fertilizer to make a bomb, they obviously wouldn’t sit on their hands simply because the fertilizer purchase was legal.

The same would obviously be true of the otherwise-lawful purchase of a firearm by a person who officials had evidence intended to use it to commit a terrorist act. In this regard, current law, coupled with the FBI’s procedure, could actually produce useful and actionable anti-terrorism intelligence.

On the other hand, prohibiting every purchase by a watchlisted individual gives real terrorists under investigation or surveillance an easy way to determine whether their acts have drawn the government’s suspicion. All they would have to do is go to a gun shop and attempt to buy a gun. If they were denied and knew they had no other basis of denial, they would know the denial was watchlist related.

What? So we shouldn’t try to stop them at the point of sale because our system will get around to investigating who they are later? Really? And within hours, we could have a terror attack. And if a terrorist were denied a gun sale at a licensed dealer, he/she would know the denial was watchlist related? And so?…. What then? The terrorist would be stopped and would have to find another way to get a gun which is, as we know,  far too easy in our country. That is also why we need to require a Brady background check on ALL gun sales.

If we stop terrorists at the point of sale, just perhaps a terror attack would be averted, at least for a time. Meanwhile, the FBI would know for sure that that person was attempting to buy a gun. If someone on the Terror Watch List buys a gun, it just can’t be for sport. This kind of faulty reasoning by the gun lobby is ludicrous and potentially dangerous for us all.

It’s not time to be making things up about guns and terrorism in the silly season known as election time in America. Donald Trump appears willing to say just about anything to pander and ramp up the fear and hysteria. One of his latest deceptions is that black Americans commit the most murders in America. From the article:

The statistics, purported to be gathered by a Crime Statistics Bureau in San Francisco this year, appear to be fabricated. The Crime Statistics Bureau cited in Trump’s tweet does not exist. The FBI, which does gather official crime statistics for the U.S., has not yet released them for this year.

Last year’s FBI statistics show that the numbers in Trump’s tweet are incorrect and appear to be aimed at perpetuating racist myths about black people and crime.

In 2014, about 82 percent of murders involving white victims were committed by other white people, while only 14 percent were committed by black people, according to the FBI.

Among murders involving black victims, just under 90 percent were committed by other black people, while 7 percent were committed by white people.

Crime experts have concluded that homicides are most likely to occur among people of the same race because people are usually murdered by someone they already know, and most people primarily know people of their own race.

What we absolutely don’t need is Trump’s hyperbole and fabrications because it gives excuses for Americans to feel terror and fear that is unwarranted considering the facts. The rhetoric is leading to armed Americans “patrolling” the streets because of fear of “the other”. In Texas armed open carriers appeared outside of a Mosque making dangerous claims:

“We tried to talk to the mosque before we did this, but they wouldn’t return our messages,” said David Wright, dressed in black all the way from his backwards baseball cap to the barrel of his tactical shotgun. “So here we are.”

Wright said he organized the rally in the wake of an Islamic terrorist group’s massacre of Parisian civilians this month. Like millions of Americans, he wants to block Syrian refugees from U.S. shores, lest they replicate the attack here.

But like a fraction of those millions, he was convinced that Irving’s mosque had established the country’s first Islamic court earlier in the year—a false rumor that started online but grew in popularity after Mayor Beth Van Duyne made it the focus of speeches to Tea Party groups.

“They shut the illegal court down,” Wright said, incorrectly. “And then, they threatened to kill the mayor.”

Thus, the guns. A protester with a bandana over his face showed off his AR-15 to traffic. A 20-year-old who wants to join the Army and ban Islam in the United States carried a Remington hunting rifle while his mother held the sign.

“They’re mostly for self-defense or protection,” Wright said, eyeing his 12-gauge. “But I’m not going to lie. We do want to show force. … It would be ridiculous to protest Islam without defending ourselves.” (…)

“My initial impression was they were using them for intimidation,” Palmer said. “I doubt that they’d be happy if some of the Muslim churchgoers here showed up at their Christian church, their Baptist church, their Methodist church tomorrow morning with rifles slung over their shoulders.”

Palmer said the police chief personally warned mosque leaders about the rally. They in turn urged their worshippers to steer clear of the group, which calls itself the Bureau of American Islamic Relations and had recycled some of the signs it took to a Richardson mosque last month, on a national day of protest against Islam.

The worshippers largely took that advice, ignoring the protest until it broke up after a couple hours. The Muslims in the tiny audience declined to share their opinion — instead offering praise for freedom of speech and variations on “no comment.”

But back on the sidewalk, a man who wore a name tag that read “Big Daddy Infidel” and was afraid to give his full name worried about the day he would be forced to use his hunting rifle to take a human life.

It’s just a matter of time before some of these folks, armed to the teeth, will act on their fear and cause our very own terrorist incident. And that is exactly what Daesh would love to have happen. I wonder if that is what Trump and other candidates would love to have happen? Because if they don’t stop their own dangerous and false claims, they will be igniting a group of Americans who are ready to fight on the streets against their own and/or against those they fear will hurt them.

This is why we have a military and National Guard. We don’t need untrained and uneducated heavily armed people patrolling our streets with their military style assault weapons ready to go to war.

These are complicated and dangerous times. We need common sense and the facts. Potential and actual insurrectionists with guns are dangerous and have no common sense. We have our own home grown terrorists and mass shootings that need our attention. For example, 16 people were just shot and injured in a New Orleans neighborhood. From the article:

A manhunt was underway across New Orleans on Monday after 16 people were shot during a gunfight at an impromptu music video recording at in a city park, authorities said.

The victims were all in stable condition.

The shooting broke out late Sunday at Bunny Friend Park in the Upper Ninth Ward where about 500 people were gathered for the video shoot, officials said.

“At the end of the day it’s really hard to police against a bunch of guys who decide to pull out guns and settle disputes with 300 people between them,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said at a news conference.

Why isn’t this a terror attack? Where is the outcry over this mass shooting?  No one died, thank goodness. But does the scene look familiar? Two or more gunmen opened fire at a crowd of people. Chaos and panic.

Sigh.

Also in New Orleans a Tulane University medical student was shot by a robber when the student attempted to help the woman being robbed of her purse. Yes, it’s scary being on the streets of America. What the gun lobby wants us to do is arm ourselves as if this student could have stopped the robbery had he pulled out his own gun. It would have been another gunfight on the streets with potential collateral damage.

Since I posted this, I came across this article about the New Orleans shooting:

Landrieu said the shooting that erupted in a crowd of nearly 500 people is akin to terrorism.

“Dead is dead, whether it’s national terrorism or domestic terrorism,” he said.

“This is senseless. We will never stand for it,” NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said.

The answer is not more guns on the streets. It’s fewer guns on the streets carried by those who shouldn’t have them. We are ignoring what is before our very eyes every day.

Where are our priorities?  There is a lot of work to get done. Let’s get together and make it happen.

UPDATE:

Vox has done some research on the topic of discussion- terrorism. They found what I have been saying and many have been writing about. The chances of a Syrian refugee committing an act of terror against America are far far slimmer than an American radicalized citizen shooting up a bunch of innocent people. And many of these are labeled right wing extremists- they are radicalized by religion and ideology. Let’s look at what Vox wrote about:

Domestic terrorism kills a small number of Americans each year; far more die from gun violence annually. But what gets lost in the national conversation on domestic terrorism is that terrorist acts are largely perpetrated by American citizens already living inside America’s borders. Radicalization — whether it’s jihadist extremism or right-wing extremism — more often than not starts at home in the US rather than entering the country from abroad.

When will we admit to the facts? The safety of Americans depends on our getting this right.

 

The “elephant in the room”

elephantWe are at a crucial tipping point. Will the terror attacks in Paris at long last lead us common sense solutions to gun violence prevention? I say this broadly because what happened in Paris has already led to a lot of discussion about how we in America can prevent a similar attack. Of course there is the strident and paranoid hyperbole and fact free discussion about what to do with Syrian refugees. It’s disturbing to watch and listen to political candidates and politicians pander to the hysteria.

Do we really want to target one religious group by asking them to register in a data base meant to keep track of them?  Apparently candidate Donald Trump would consider this:

That’s more Trump bluster, of course. Forcing every Muslim in the country to register for some sort of database would do nothing to secure the borders or stanch the flow of undocumented migrants. It also wouldn’t prevent the possibility of some radicalized and disaffected American youths deciding to join the jihadi cause. Indeed, by stigmatizing an entire religious community, it would make such behavior more likely. Trump must know that his proposals don’t make sense, but he’s pushing on regardless. He has moved from rabble-rousing to demagoguery, or something even uglier. And this time, sadly, we have no option but to take him seriously.

Can we be that intolerant now? Can we tolerate one candidate’s calling a religious group “rabid dogs”?:

While speaking at a campaign event in Mobile, Alabama, Carson compared the need to screen refugees before they enter the U.S. with the steps a community would take to protect children from rabid dogs.

“If there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog. And you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” Carson said. “Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination. But, you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking, how do I protect my children?”

This is ugly and self serving rhetoric that makes us worse as Americans and dumbs down a very important discussion about how to protect our own country from a future terror attack.

Here is what we should be considering and talking about. We can stop a potential terror attack by making sure those on the known terror watch list can’t legally purchase guns from licensed firearms dealers:

Currently, some known or suspected terrorists are prohibited from boarding airplanes by the government’s no-fly list — but all are allowed to buy assault rifles and other weapons.

While the bill remained a nonstarter, more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist bought weapons in the U.S. over the last 11 years, according to the federal Government Accountability Office.

The GAO reported that 91% of all suspected terrorists who tried to buy guns in America walked away with the weapon they wanted over the time period, with just 190 rejected despite their ominous histories.

In 2013-14, the number of successful buyers rose to 94% — with 455 suspects buying weapons and just 30 denied as allowed under current laws.

“It is hard to believe that anyone could defend that someone on the Terrorist Watchlist should get a gun, no questions asked,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “I can’t believe that our Republican colleagues would block this now.”

Will the Republicans and rural Democrats  block a measure to stop this? Will terrorists continue to be allowed to buy guns in the US? Let’s see how much power the gun lobby will have now. And if Congress doesn’t act, we will know that they are too weak to stand up for the safety of Americans at the behest of the corporate gun lobby.

Senator Harry Reid has common sense, thank goodness. His statement challenges the Republican Senators to put their money where the mouths are when it comes to protecting us from terror attacks. From the article:

“Republicans care more about kowtowing to the NRA than preventing terrorists from legally buying assault rifles and explosives like the ones used in the Paris attacks here in America.

“Shockingly, Republicans continue to preserve a loophole that allows FBI terror suspects to buy guns and explosives legally, without background checks. As we speak, a terrorist on the FBI’s terror watch list can walk into a gun show in your hometown and buy as many AK-47s and explosives as they need to commit the kind of mass, heinous slaughter of innocents we witnessed in Paris and which we know terrorists want to perpetrate here in America. Al Qaeda openly urges militants in the United States to purchase firearms through this loophole.

“Democrats have sought to close this loophole for years but have been blocked by Republicans blindly doing the bidding of the NRA. In the wake of Paris, closing the loophole that allows FBI terror suspects to buy guns and explosives should be an obvious step. Legislation to close the loophole has existed for years. But Republican leaders in both Houses of Congress continue to block legislation to close this terrorist loophole.

And in the height of hypocrisy, Erick Erickson of Redstate.com   proclaimed ( as quoted in a Paul Krugman editorial for the New York Times) that he wouldn’t go to a movie theater to see the new Star Wars movie because there are no metal detectors at theaters. Really? This is coming from the mouth of someone who, along with the gun lobby, supports gun extremists who want the carrying of guns into every public place in our country.

How does his statement square with the idea that gun carriers believe they need their guns to protect themselves from terrorists and other scary things? It doesn’t of course. Guns would not be allowed if we had metal detectors in movie theaters. But never mind common sense. You just can’t make this stuff up. Erickson got caught with his “pants wet” as this writer wrote for Salon today about Erickson’s ludicrous statement:

Erickson got caught with his pants wet and has had to backtrack. He now says that he is not afraid to go to the movies because he will be carrying a gun and assumes that others will too. If that’s true, a lot of people should rethink their plans to attend Star Wars. With theaters full of armed men who are quivering in fear and ready to fire at the first loud noise, does seem wise to avoid that situation. Those fellows are dangerous even when they aren’t on edge from terrorist attacks that happened on other continents.

Oopsie.

But back to my main point. We should also pass a bill to require Brady background checks on all gun sales. Why? Because it will prevent those who shouldn’t have guns from being able to get them anyway. Yes, even terrorists. Because if terrorists are stopped ,by closing the terror gap, from legally purchasing guns from licensed dealers they know where to get guns very easily- from private sellers at gun shows, flea markets, on-line and other places:

It is also worth noting that this gap in the law is compounded by another huge loophole in federal gun laws—the one that allows individuals to buy guns from private sellers without a background check. One of the Garland shooters was a convicted felon and therefore prohibited from gun possession under federal law. While we don’t yet know exactly how he obtained the guns used in this attack, he would have had little trouble buying one without a background check through a private sale, online, at a gun show or anywhere else.

This weakness in our gun laws is not a secret. In 2011, America-born Al-Qaeda propagandist Adam Gadahn urged his followers to take advantage of our weak gun laws to arm up, explaining, “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and, most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

The question for the rest of us is: What are we waiting for?

What are we waiting for indeed? Haven’t we had #enough of the hyperbole and fear mongering based on false information? Why not do something about what can actually stop the next terrorist from getting firearms and explosives?

Stopping refugees from coming to America will not solve the problem. America has the most stringent screening process for refugees of any country in the world. That’s a fact. Few if any refugee has committed an act of terror in the US:

The history of the refugee resettlement program has a nearly spotless record when it comes to ensuring that those offered a place in the U.S. are not inclined towards committing acts of terrorism.

“The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001,” Newland wrote in a recent op-ed. “In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”

Two of the men were indicted and jailed for plotting to send weapons to terrorist organizations in Iraq. One Uzbek man was convicted of terrorism-related charges for possessing explosives and supporting a terrorist organization in Uzbekistan.

The Syrian refugees are mainly families who are fleeing the terrorists who are now attacking innocent people in the Western world.

But the U.S. House of Representatives has taken a vote that is political and claiming it will keep us safer, potentially worsening a humanitarian crisis that has affected countries all over the world. Even France has said it will take up to 30,000 Syrian refugees after one of the worst terror attacks suffered by their country.

The terrorists who committed the heinous act of violence in Paris are almost all home grown. They were all born in France or Belgium with the possible exception of one who may have used a fake Syrian passport which was left at the scene of terror.  They did not come out of a Syrian refugee camp.

Hysteria and fear has caused Americans to make inhumane decisions in the past. Have we not learned from our mistakes?  Think the Jews trying to flee the Nazis during World War ll. Think Japanese interment camps during World War ll. 

Things are getting ugly in America. Knee jerk reactions  won’t solve the real problems. Acting without thinking through the consequences will haunt us as we look back at this period of our history. There are measures, like closing the terror gap in our gun laws, requiring Brady background checks on all gun sales, altering  our temporary worker visa program as is now considered in the U.S. Senate:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is introducing a bill along with Flake to restrict that visa waiver program, which allows citizens and foreign nationals from mostly European countries—like France and Beligium—to come to the U.S. for 90 days without visas. Their legislation would bar visa-less entry to people from those countries if they had been to Iraq or Syria in the past five years. Flake is joined by at least one other Senate Republican in not being totally insane about refugees. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said, following the briefing, that “the visa waiver program potentially is the place where there’s greater gaps, possibly, than the refugee program itself.”

Where Republicans are not working with Democrats, not at all shockingly, is on the gun part. The part wherepeople on the FBI terrorist watch list can buy guns. According to the General Accounting Office, between 2004 and 2014, “suspected terrorists tried to purchase guns through the loophole at least 2,233 times, and were able to do so in 2,043 of those cases.” That’s comforting, huh? Thus far, Feinstein has no Republicans wanting in on that proposal.

Who is Congress more afraid of- terrorists or the gun lobby? Ignoring a safety risk in front of our own noses will make us less safe and so far, that is what Congress is doing. This article from The Trace highlights the hypocrisy of the gun lobby bought and paid for Congress members:

Yet legislative stonewalling does not solve the political problems that the events in Paris present for the NRA and its conservative allies, who find themselves in a double bind: They must decided (sic) whether or not a no-compromise interpretation of the Second Amendment supersedes U.S. national security. The gun lobby and Republican leaders each positions themselves as stalwart defenders of the former as well as the latter. On the question of the so-called terror gap in gun background checks, there is no clear way to be both.

And further, from the article:

In 2013, the New England Journal of Medicine published a poll that asked Americans whether they supported prohibiting suspects on the watch list from buying guns. Eighty-six percent of respondents answered in the affirmative. That included 82 percent of gun owners surveyed and 76 percent of NRA members.

“There have been all of these extreme efforts to deter terrorists in this country,” says Karen Greenberg, the Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University. “And yet we’ve missed this huge elephant in the room, and that’s access to firearms. By not enhancing background checks, you’re taking an essential piece of prevention out of the hands of law enforcement.” She notes that with respect ISIS, which was responsible for the rampage in Paris, there is a call for “local attacks in a kind of ad hoc way. In the U.S., guns are easy to get. Explosives are tough to make.”

The public wants Congress to act on whatever measures will make us safer. Will they do the right thing? The real problems are staring us in the face but Congress and others ( Governors) are ignoring the facts before them in order to score political points.

We’ve had #enough.

Common sense, facts, calm decision making and courage are needed. It’s time to stop the pandering and get down to the business of keeping us safe from terrorist attacks from foreign fighters who mean us harm, from our own home grown terrorists, and from the devastation of every day gun violence in our own country.

We are better than this.

 

UPDATE:

The Center for American Progress has put together some information about the terror gap. Below is a graphic that explains things pretty well:

CAPAF-TerrorGap

In addition, they have provided a great fact sheet so that Americans can understand this potential risk to our national safety. I suggest if anyone doesn’t get it, they will after reading this information.