Not even bump fire stocks?

spinelessReally Paul Ryan? Not even bump fire stocks?

Halloween is approaching and our Congress is scared and scary in more ways than one. Our leaders are failing us in more ways than one. Our leaders claim that care about Americans. If they actually did, they would grow a spine and stand tall for the majority and do it proudly and feel good about it.

They are lapdogs for the NRA and other special interests.

The cynical and evil leadership of the NRA suggested that they may be able to support a ban on bump fire stocks. NOT. Not even that very small measure will pass muster with this group of disingenuous group of guys who represent the industry that sells these things.

So where are we? We are where we are after every one of the nation’s mass shootings. Lapdog and weak politicians with no backbone are afraid to do what they know is right. Because…..rights.

Rights? Where are the rights of Americans to be safe when going to concerts, shopping at malls, going to college classes, sitting at work or school, having a drink at a nightclub or at a military base? They don’t count. Death is not their concern. If it was one of their own though, they would care. 

The gun issue is not untouchable. We will make it touchable. We will demand answers and demand solutions. Politicians will have to address it. They will not be left to avoid it any more. Some are already changing their tune:

Another Democrat who had once been in the NRA’s favor, Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), also donated a sum matching his past NRA contributions this week. Walz, who is running for governor and was under pressure from a Democratic primary opponent, sent $18,000 to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a nonprofit group that helps the families of service members who are killed or severely wounded.

“I’m doing what I can to get past the political attacks and back to addressing this problem,” Walz said, who also held an “A” rating.

They want to be elected and perhaps they are finally waking up to the common sense of the American voters. I have personally spoken with Rep. Tim Walz who is the only Democratic candidate for Governor with an A rating from the NRA. That is poison for him. We need to make it poison for all candidates. Gun violence is one of the most important issues of our day. It’s a public health epidemic that we are ignoring.

Speaking of NRA money, who does get the most money from the NRA anyway? Let’s take a look from the article:

Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.

Senator John McCain heads the list and had this to say about the Las Vegas shooting: ““Cindy & I are praying for the victims of the terrible #LasVegasShooting & their families.”” He has taken $7,740,251 from the NRA in his career as a Senator. It goes on from there. You get the picture.
No- your prayers and thoughts are insincere as long as you don’t have the spine to stand up for the victims and actually do something to prevent at least some shootings.
American support for stronger gun laws is at an all time high according to this latest polling after the Las Vegas shooting by Quinnipiac:
American voters say 63 – 27 percent that it’s possible to make new gun laws without interfering with gun rights. Republicans voters say 51 – 37 percent that it’s possible to make gun laws that don’t interfere with gun rights and voters in gun households agree 57 – 33 percent. “The Las Vegas massacre echoes though a survey that shows American voters want stricter gun laws and a ban on high-capacity clips and bump stocks, the device that makes a lethal weapon even more lethal,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. -m
 So Speaker Ryan and Republicans in control of our country- what say you?
Shame on them all. We need much more than a ban on bump fire stocks.
What we need is a comprehensive bill to make America safe again, including a ban on bump fire stocks, a reduction in the number of bullets in an ammunition magazine, a ban on certain types of assault rifles and the accompanying features that can be added to make them more deadly, universal Brady background checks, research into the causes and effects of gun violence, adequate funding for the ATF, stronger straw purchasing and gun trafficking laws, mandatory training before owning or carrying a gun, mandatory secure storage of guns, child access prevention laws, gun violence protection orders, limiting who can carry a loaded weapon around in public, and yes, perhaps even a system of gun registration.
These are my personal ideas by the way. Some of them, but not all, are shared by other gun control groups. But I am writing for myself on this blog post.
What we don’t need is concealed carry reciprocity, the NRA’s wet dream, that would leave us all with gun carrying yahoos walking around anywhere we are gathered in our communities without a shred of training with that gun and no permit to carry it. What we don’t need is for the deregulation of gun silencers so mass shooters can carry out their massacres making much less noise so law enforcement and victims can’t locate the shooter in order to flee or stop him.
Even Speaker Ryan got a spine for just a little while after the Las Vegas shooting. But never trust that the gun lobby will let it go away. They will be back. They will scare the lapdogs who carry their water into voting on a bill that makes no common sense and is a slippery slope to to doing away with the 1934 Gun Control Act.  
I have spoken to many hunters and gun owners before and since the Las Vegas shooting. They agree with every one of these measures. And yes, to the gun extremist who doubted that my husband was a hunter and gun owner, he is. And he agrees with me and would even were he not married to me.
Oh, and I forgot to add the repeal of PLCAA and the Tiarht amendment and bringing law suits against gun manufacturers and sellers.
Speaking of that, the Brady Center to prevent gun violence has done just that. A class action law suit was filed earlier this week against the maker and sellers of bump fire stocks on behalf of the 22,000 or so concert goers whose lives were affected one way or the other by the heinous shooting of 58 of them and the injuring of about 450, some still in serious or critical condition.
Here is just one story to think about:
Like the rest of America I learned of the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas last Monday morning. My first thought was there will be fatalities. Families like mine receiving the devastating, life-altering news that a loved one has been murdered. That friends and family members will never come home again. More lives taken by bullets. These families will unknowingly and unwillingly join the sad club that no one wants to join. Tragically this club continues to grow, because a small loud vocal group of extremists love their guns more than they love their families. So I cry out to you America, it’s time to rise up and out shout the extremists to honor the 58 lives cut down at a music concert. It’s time to rise up and help me and thousands of other gun violence survivors, so that your family won’t receive the devastating phone call that a family member has been murdered by a disturbed man with a gun. Pick up your phone and call your U.S. Congressman and Senator and demand they fight for gun safety laws.
Speaker Paul Ryan- where are you? Senator Mitch McConnell- where are you?
Hiding in plain sight behind the second amendment with absolutely no backbone or will to protect your fellow Americans from senseless shootings. We know how the Las Vegas shooting happened Speaker Ryan, since that was your excuse to do nothing. It was the guns stupid. It was our nation’s feckless gun laws that allow easy access to weapons of mass destruction meant for war that allowed this to happen.
Get a backbone. Get some common sense for the love of God. If you are too weak to even consider challenging the corporate gun lobby over bump fire stocks that were used to massacre 58 Americans in cold blood, you don’t deserve to be sitting in your seats. Go home and be with your families and let those who are bold, courageous and with backbone do what needs to be done.
The thing is, every country has angry men. Every country has people who are dangerously mentally ill or who are felons or domestic abusers. But only in America do we have these people accessing arsenals of weapons to inflict mass destruction.
We are better than this.

Drive by shootings and gun policy

bonnieclydeRemember Bonnie and Clyde? I do. There were a lot of drive-by shootings and road rage shootings committed by the infamous couple who died in their car of multiple bullet wounds at the hands of law enforcement. Those were the “good old days” when bullets were flying and machine guns were easily available to those who shouldn’t have had them. Revenge, gangs, anger, too much alcohol and guns- bad combinations.

Bonnie and Clyde were killed in 1934.

Remember Elliott Ness and Al Capone and the mafia era? The years of prohibition created mayhem on the streets of some of our cities. It was just after this time period that Congress decided that machine guns and silencers should not be available to average citizens without very strict regulations. In 1934, the National Firearms Act was passed:

With the passage of the NFA, these guns immediately faced severe restrictions.  While owning them is still technically legal, they must be registered (which isn’t exactly easy) and they are taxed more heavily ($200 for owning a silencer, for example, or as low as $5 for some smooth bore pistols, like the Serbu Super Shorty pictured earlier).  Anyone wanting to own one or manufacture one has to go through the BATFE for approval. (…) But firearms enthusiasts should look at it from a cautionary perspective, as well.  This was possible.  In fact, it is one of several legislative acts that govern the way we think about firearms.  And the NFA will be the cornerstone on which new restrictions will be built.

Few, if any, crimes are committed with these weapons because so few people own them and those who do go through a long and expensive process to get them. But it could only be a matter of time as the corporate gun lobby is driving by to get laws passed in many of our states to allow people to purchase silencers. When more people own silencers, will they, too, end up in the illegal market? How will they be used? Keep track of this as the push is on to get them into more hands. My own state of Minnesota passed such a law a few years ago:

Anderson, who sometimes carries a weapon to the Capitol, says that he intends to buy silencers for some of his guns. He outlined the process he’ll have to go through: He’ll have to get approval from the Cass County sheriff; pass a state background check; apply to the federal government to possess the silencer, sending $200 along with his application (which needs to include the serial number of the silencer he intends to purchase); go through a federal background check that might take months; and finally, make the purchase of an item that is fairly pricey (upwards of $700).

“It’s ludicrous that we have to go through all of this at the federal level,” Anderson said. “This is an item you should be able to walk into a store and just purchase. We need to work on the federal law. But still, this is a pretty big step.”

Yup. It’s just a matter of time before silencers are available with no background checks from private sellers and on-line just like guns are in most states. That is why we need to stop the drive-by policies of the corporate gun lobby and put the brakes on these bills. What we need is to make sure ALL gun sales, including ammunition and paraphernalia go through Brady background checks.

Why the resistance to this? It’s a minority who oppose it. Their reasons make no sense and aren’t even true. Time to make sure we do the right thing and stop people from getting shot in their cars, in their homes, and anywhere else.

Today, we have more guns than any other democratized country in the world. Over 300 million. We also have the highest number of gun deaths per capita and the weakest gun laws. Other countries don’t have a second amendment or a corporate gun lobby like ours. Sure there are some people in other countries who want to loosen the laws that have been passed. But it isn’t happening because other countries are watching our mass shootings and every day carnage and understand that our loose laws contribute.

The NRA and others in the corporate gun lobby have flown or driven into almost every state of the union and left us with the worst gun policies in the world.  This was done very purposely to drive up profits for the industry and deceive the public into believing that the second amendment includes allowing anyone to buy a gun and carry it everywhere. That is NOT what the founding fathers had in mind when the amendment was written. And, of course, we need to remember why the founding fathers wrote that amendment into our Constitution in the first place. From this Mother Jones article with an interview with author Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center:

MW: Yes. And that might be noteworthy for some. There were plenty of guns. There was the right to defend yourself, which was part of English common law handed down from England. But there were also gun restrictions at the same time. There were many. There were limits, for example, on where you could store gunpowder. You couldn’t have a loaded gun in your house in Boston. There were lots of limits on who could own guns for all different kinds of reasons. There was anexpectation that you should be able to own a gun. But they didn’t think they were writing that expectation into the Constitution with the Second Amendment.

MJ: So then why focus on the Second Amendment and not the English Bill of Rights or other things the framers drew on that more clearly address individual gun ownership?

MW: We are not governed today, in 2014, by British common law. Law evolved, the country evolved. It was a very rural place. There were no cities. There were no police forces. It was a completely different way of living. So gun rights activists turned this into a constitutional crusade. Those who want more guns and fewer restrictions realized they could gain some higher ground if they claimed the Constitution.

Has the world changed since the second amendment was written? Of course. Check this video from States United to Prevent Gun Violence for a graphic image of how much guns have changed since the amendment was written.

I happen to believe that the Constitution is a living document that can change when change is required to keep Americans safe and healthy.

Ever since the 1977 Cincinnati NRA convention revolt (see article above), the gun lobby has changed -transformed itself into a lobby group that doesn’t represent its’ original purpose nor its’ members. They changed to a group that protects and supports the gun industry profits and vice versa. As a result, the landscape changed as well regarding gun policy.

One of the goals of this change  was passing laws in almost all states to allow people to carry guns in their cars and public places. The charade was that people needed guns for self defense everywhere they went. Our legislators bought it because-  rights. Never mind that the second amendment does not mention the right to carry guns for personal protection. These laws had the effect of changing the culture around guns. It became OK for people to have guns with or without a permit on their person.

Former Representative Gabby Giffords spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Her appearance caused a stir in the hall as well it should have. Her speech was simple and short because of her brain injury. Do you remember that her shooter had a gun with no permitting process as is allowed by Arizona law? I do.

It wasn’t so many years ago that it would have been unusual for guns to be found in cars and used in drive-bys or accidental shootings. Two recent examples in my own state:

Man follows couple on local road and shoots and injures one passenger:

Jesse Jay Bohanon was charged in Carlton County District Court Tuesday with three counts of second-degree attempted murder while committing a drive-by shooting, three counts of second-degree assault, one count of drive-by shooting, one count of dangerous weapons-intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition.

Where did this felon get his gun? It’s easy in our country for that to happen.

Man shot and killed in bar by someone  who allegedly fired shots car at the bar. “The man, yet to be charged, is jailed on suspicion of assault and second-degree murder during a drive-by shooting, suggesting that he fired the shots from a vehicle.”

Many other examples of drive-by shootings exist. The city of Des Moines, Iowa has seen an increase in drive-by shootings as just one example.

Many examples of road rage involving gun violence exist as well with some dead victims.

Here is one. And another. And another. And another.

Common sense suggests that having guns in cars is not a good idea. Small children find them in the glove box or the back seat and shoot them. I have written about more than a few of these recently- a small child shot and injured his own mother, a gun loving person. Another toddler killed his own mom with a gun found in the car.

And then there are the people who get caught for illegal drugs and guns like this case in Daytona, Florida:

Of the 29 people, 18 were arrested on Tuesday. Nine were arrested in the course of the operation.

And police are looking for two others who are targets of the operation: Tiffany Malcom, 33, and Robert Smith, 27. Smith, Chitwood revealed Wednesday, is a person of interest in the murder of Deandre Smith, who was shot to death as he drove his car on the Oakridge Boulevard Bridge on May 10, 2015.

Eleven people were charged with federal firearms violations. Nine were charged with state drug and firearms crimes.

What is it about criminals shooting each other in cars? Don’t they know that stray bullets hit innocent people?  A beloved grandmother was shot and killed by a stray bullet in Minneapolis in May while sitting in her car minding her own business. They don’t care really when they have anger and vengeance on their minds. Bullets don’t know where to stop and there are way too many of them flying from and into cars all over America. And the gun lobby doesn’t seem to care that people like the 29 arrested in Daytona found guns so easily to traffic drugs and kill other people.

Drive-by gun policy comes from the corporate gun lobby who send NRA or other representatives into states to lobby and write bill language. And then they leave us with bad policies that have led to more gun deaths and injuries. Lives are too precious to leave gun policy to those whose interest is in selling their product. Finding new markets for new guns leaves us with too many grieving families and devastated communities.

It takes a while for new policies to change the landscape and become effective. So about 11-12 years after many states passed conceal ( or open) and carry laws, we see how they are working. Most gun permit holders are safe with their guns and do not misuse them. But enough of them have been dangerous- either intentionally or accidentally that an argument could be made that we need to strengthen these laws.

Rather than people needing to use guns for self defense, those guns are being used in shootings- drive-bys or other shootings. Few instances of defensive gun uses make the case for conceal and carry weak.

We are just plain not safer with more guns on our streets, in our cars and in our homes, schools, places of work and where we play. Using guns for hunting and sport shooting is one thing. Having them around in places where we gather or drive our cars makes no common sense. But because the NRA and corporate gun lobby drives by our states and promotes weakening our gun laws, the result has been the devastation in communities all over our country.

Last night I watched Hillary Clinton accept the nomination of the Democratic party to be the first woman to have that honor. It was thrilling to know that I have lived in a time when a woman can be nominated for and hopefully win the Presidency. Among other things she said in her acceptance speech was this ( meme by Brady Campaign):

Hillary and guns

Thank you Hillary. We are just trying to keep people from getting shot by people who shouldn’t have guns. Let’s get to work to make the changes we all deserve.

 

 

More “good guys” with guns

gangster carrying gunI have lived long enough to remember The Untouchables, a book, a movie and a TV series watched by millions. The battle of Elliot Ness and the gangsters was an epic but mostly fictional account of  real life. There were many shootings on the streets and in other public places like restaurants and bars by gangsters in the 1930s prohibition days. It was bloody and vicious. Men carrying guns unloaded bullets hitting intended targets and unintended targets. But it was true then that law enforcement was outgunned on the streets of some cities in America according to the above linked article. (“On the other side was law enforcement, which was outgunned (literally) and ill-prepared at this point in history to take on the surging national crime wave.”)

So far, ordinary citizens have to go through strict regulations to obtain machine guns and silencers. That is because of the 1934 National Firearms Act passed by Congress in part in response to the crime wave of the 1930s. No one wanted to see the carnage unleashed by the gangsters on the streets repeated. And make no mistake, the gun lobby is pushing for looser laws to allow people to purchase machine guns and silencers. It is the slippery slope towards more carnage on our streets. Many states, including mine, have now passed laws allowing for citizens to purchase silencers ( deceptively called suppressors by the gun lobby).

But with the changes to our gun laws to allow ordinary citizens to openly carry firearms, we should re-examine what the reality of open carry laws mean for the safety of the public. This incident in Colorado Springs is the prime example of the insanity and dangerousness of people carrying rifles and other guns openly loaded on the streets of our cities. From the article:

A man marching down the street shot and killed three people on Saturday, before being fatally shot in a gunbattle with police, authorities and witnesses said.

Officers were responding to a report of shots being fired when they spotted a suspect matching the description of the person they were trying to find, Colorado Springs police Lt. Catherine Buckley said. The suspect opened fire, and police fired back, she said.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the suspect went down the street with a rifle.

Matt Abshire, 21, told the Colorado Springs Gazette (http://tinyurl.com/p5xpaua) he looked outside his apartment window and saw a man shoot someone with a rifle. He said he ran to the street and followed the man and called police.

The man suddenly turned and fired more shots, hitting two women, Abshire said. Their names and conditions were not available.

It was unclear how many people were wounded in the spree.

Alisha Jaynes told KKTV-TV 11 News (http://tinyurl.com/otg2qgo ) she was at an ATM when she saw a man with a gun walking calmly down the street.

“They yelled, ‘Put the gun down,’ and he turned around, and that’s when they shot at him a good 20 times,” she said. “There was a lot of gunfire.”

In this story about the shooting, it is revealed that one of the victims was a 13 year old boy riding his bike along the street. This is insanity. Is this what was anticipated when the gun lobby got our legislators to pass laws allowing more people to carry loaded guns into more public places? America has been duped. Until we decide we have had #enough, the carnage will continue. “Normalizing” loaded openly carried guns on our streets, in our restaurants, shops and other places is the agenda of the corporate gun lobby and the gun extremists. It’s just NOT normal to be carrying a rifle around on our streets.

Most in law enforcement oppose the open carrying of guns on our public streets for obvious reasons. Florida law enforcement are now dealing with the proposed open carrying of loaded guns:

The officials shudder at the thought of guns on hips of alcohol-fueled revelers at St. Petersburg’s First Friday, spring breakers on Pinellas County beaches and partiers on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City. They worry that deputies responding to a conflict won’t know criminal from victim. They worry about children getting hold of guns and criminals stealing them.

The Tampa Bay Times contacted 21 law enforcement leaders in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties to ask their stance on a bill allowing open carry proposed for the 2016 state legislative session. Of the dozen who responded, 10 are opposed to the idea. They include the sheriffs in Pinellas and Hillsborough and police chiefs in cities from Brooksville to St. Petersburg.

“Officers have a tough enough job with the way the world is now,” said Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter. “This is just one more element of danger I’d prefer my men and women not have to deal with.”

Are you listening legislators?

We have examples of encounters between people carrying loaded rifles and guns on our streets and law enforcement. Here are just a few:

A Michigan man was reported to police to be carrying a rifle on a Kalamazoo, Michigan street apparently stumbling around and appearing intoxicated.

Texas open carriers have had many encounters with law enforcement, often belligerently baiting the officers and provoking them while filming the encounters.

More open carriers in Texas were booted from a Chili’s restaurant when they came in with their assault rifles on, scaring the customers.

Here are just a few images of these folks.

After years of ordinary citizens walking around with loaded guns openly holstered and more recently, assault type rifles hanging around the backs or chests of brazen gun carriers, it was inevitable that a “bad guy” with a gun would open fire on a street, killing innocent people. Where were the “good guys” to stop this shooting? We don’t know who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy” any more.  And that, dear readers, is the trick that has been played on America. The gun lobby is going to have to take responsibility for this carnage soon enough.

Meanwhile, Mike the Gun Guy has blogged about a new website that is selling buttons about what should be done to the NRA. It’s brilliant. We are tired of being polite to the people who threaten, demean, name call, are offensive and harass us ( gun violence prevention advocates). And do remember that they are the folks with the guns. Why should we be polite any more considering the number of people killed in our country while our elected leaders turn their heads from the carnage? An armed society is not a polite society.

Get a spine. Stand up and do something. This is just plain ludicrous and insane.

Where is common sense?

We have enough evidence of our national public health and safety problem to stop some of this lunacy. Dr. Daniel Webster, a leading researcher in the area of gun violence, has written this great article based on his research. His research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is invaluable to the discussion: From the opinion piece written by Dr. Webster:

These tragic mass shootings serve as a grim but resounding bell tower chime in the nation’s public square. But when the ringing fades, the clock ticks on, if quietly. The equivalent of several mass shootings happen every day: 30 homicides and 60 suicides by guns in individual incidents that I’ll never be called to discuss and about which you’ll likely never hear.

That’s 2,700 lives every month – nearly the number lost on 9/11.

The conversations we do have about gun violence are often misleading. In the wake of tragedies like the one in Oregon, for instance, readers are given false choices and reminded that gun control is “a divisive issue” (it is not), even as gun owners who support new laws are rarely heard. The misguided debate pits the gun lobby’s hardliners against advocates for stronger gun laws and allows proponents of weak gun laws to portray background-check requirements for all gun sales as equivalent to unconstitutional government disarming of its citizenry.

The NRA and its supporters want Americans to believe that the choice is between gun ownership and, in essence, gun confiscation. This is a far-fetched framing. We require background checks for all gun sales made by licensed gun dealers, and the system has not been used to create a gun registry or to prevent any person from lawful gun ownership. In fact, federal law expressly prohibits such a registry. Baseless claims of gun confiscation inflame culture wars and stymie the discussion of effective solutions. (…)

A more informed and fruitful discussion about what the United States needs to do to substantially reduce gun violence would abandon these tired frames and take into account the fact that we already have answers to these crucial questions:

  • Do our gun laws allow people with histories of violence, substance abuse and criminality to own and carry guns in public?
  • Do important gaps in our laws make it easy for prohibited persons to obtain guns?
  • Do policies exist that would significantly reduce gun deaths while still allowing law-abiding individuals to have guns?

The answer to each of these questions is, of course, yes.

When laws prohibit gun ownership for a wider share of people who are violent and break laws, fewer people are shot. When we close gaps in the background check system and take seriously the obligation to keep guns from dangerous people, fewer people die.

I’m not merely guessing that these things might happen. Such policy recommendations are backed up by extensive research that I and others have conducted.

We know what the problem is. Every day there is evidence and carnage. It’s past time to demand the obvious common sense solutions. We’ve had #enough. Let’s get to work.

As a post script to this post, I need to add an article about yet another shooting on a college campus leaving one dead in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When will this end? Were these “good guys” with guns or bad guys? Why wasn’t someone with a lawful permit there to stop the shooting because surely there will be someone at the ready wherever something like this occurs, right?  Maybe the shooter was a law abiding permit holder- time will tell as more information is released. This is the 2nd shooting on a North Carolina college campus in a week.  North Carolina just passed a law allowing guns on college campuses and in bars and restaurants. Everyone will surely be safer. 

UPDATE:

I am not the only incensed person about the open carrier who shot 3 innocent people on the streets of Colorado Springs. This writer used much more direct and less polite language than I in expressing his total disdain for the gun nuts who promote open carrying of guns. Don’t believe the gun nuts when they tell you that it’s a good idea for people to be carrying guns on our streets. They are just plain wrong and as these stupid, dangerous and deadly incidents keep happening, they will have to answer for the bloodshed.

In Florida, a man eating at a Cracker Barrel restaurant was shot “accidentally” by a gun carrier. Looks like the investigation is over. When will those who “accidentally” shoot people in public be held accountable for injuries and being a public safety threat?

We are not safer folks.