Gun! Run!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just asking……

In memory of the Atlanta and Boulder shooting victims :

Rikki Olds- grocery store manager

Denny Stong – 20

Neven Stanisic – 23

Tralona Bartkowiak – 49

Erik Talley- 51 Police Officer

Suzanne Fountain – 59

Teri Leiker – 5

1Kevin Mahoney – 61

Lynn Murray – 62

Jody Waters – 65

Soon Chung Park, age 74

Hyun Jung Grant, age 51

Suncha Kim, age 69

Yong Yue, age 63

Delaina Ashley Yaun, age 33

Paul Andre Michels, age 54

Xiaojie Tan, age 49

Daoyou Feng, age 44

Gaslighting and White Supremacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A warning, unheeded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we were warned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is patriotism?

I have not written a post here for a long time. My life has been taken over by family visits and moving to our lake place. But in the meantime I have been posting on my own Facebook page, listening to convention speeches, reading articles, and watching how the country is changing before my eyes.

First of all, of course, there is the pandemic. It appears that some of the Trump supporters believe that patriotism is not wearing a mask even when required by state and local mandates.

Patriotism is wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands and making sure not to expose oneself to others in a large crowd or a bar. But at the GOP convention, the opposite occurred as if the coronavirus was not a thing any more. If Trump and his supporters believe this was a sign of their patriotism to America they are dead wrong. And I mean that in the literal and figurative sense. Defying the public health and safety of the community, of family, friends and of the country is sheer stupidity and irresponsibility. Super spreader events like the GOP convention will begin infecting people all over the country, spreading the disease to those who are vulnerable, putting pressure on our healthcare system and health care workers and endangering lives. It’s already started from those who attended the Charlotte opening last Monday. In addition, as long as the virus is in the community spread mode, schools and businesses will end up closing, causing more economic pain. That is not patriotism.

Second, the protests have become a distinct line between patriots and would- be patriots railing against Black Lives Matters protesters all over the country. There are good reasons for Black, brown and indigenous people to be protesting police brutality and systemic racism. It’s all boiled over after George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer. Had we had a leader who was not a racist himself and could handle national security and safety, we would have had someone who could address the nation to calm us all and seek common sense solutions. Alas, that is not who we have. Instead we have a leader who is throwing matches on the kerosene and encouraging armed protesters:

Heidi Beirich, the chief strategy officer at the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said she was unsurprised when she woke up to the news of violence in Kenosha Wednesday morning. The summer of 2020 has already seen the targeting of Black Lives Matter protesters with a bomb plot in Nevada, the targeted killing of a federal court security officer and the murder of a sheriff’s deputy by a suspected right-wing extremist in California, and a Ku Klux Klan leader driving his car into a crowd of police brutality protesters in Virginia.

“As we’re approaching the election and Trump is hyping fear over the protests and ginning these people on with all this of law order stuff, it’s going to get worse,” Beirich told The Intercept. “I don’t expect this, unfortunately, to be the end of it.”

This is not patriotism. That is domestic terrorism and extremism leading to potential national chaos.

We have a leader ready to spread chaos and then use it to get himself elected. For when there is chaos, it is easy for an authoritarian leader to take over the country and rule by fiat- as if a King or Emperor. The Emperor has no clothes, however.

Concerning elections, we now have a leader who is intending to cheat in the election to force the country into a state we won’t recognize as democracy. The worst of it is that he is gaslighting the country by claiming that the election will be rigged ( in the event he loses of course) while he himself is rigging the election in his favor:

We can no longer trust that our federal government will oversee fair elections this November. The repeated statements and actions of the president, his attorney general and leaders in the Republican Party have demonstrated that not only will they seek to cheat to ensure their “victory,” they will do so in multiple ways as part of a massive, systematic effort to defraud the American people and undermine our democracy. 

All of this is happening of course while Republicans and Trump sycophants stand by and let it happen. This could be considered treason in most circles. It is a felony to interfere with federal elections. But, as Trump has said in the last election, he can shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his supporters won’t abandon him. Is this patriotism? We know the answer.

I am a Patriot. I will make sure to do whatever I can do to get people to the polls so they can cast their votes for people who will not cheat or attempt a hostile take-over of our democracy.

I will make sure true patriots are elected. Those would be lawmakers who care about people dying from coronavirus, insisting on masks and other safety measures to keep the spread down and save lives and jobs. I will make sure we elect candidates who care about the environment and saving the planet from ourselves. I will make sure people are elected who actually care that many seniors rely solely on Social Security and Medicare to stay alive and live in security that the deserve as they grow older.

I will elect people who will keep us safe from the epidemic of gun violence in the midst of the pandemic. These patriots will not allow 17 year olds to access an AR-15 and walk down the streets of our communities killing protesters. Patriotism is making sure everyone who carries or owns a gun can do so legally and will also make sure America understands the risks of owning guns. Patriotism is protecting our children and women from being shot either unintentionally or on purpose. Patriotism is going after the source of all of the weapons on the street to protect urban communities from the violence of young folks feeling the need for a gun to protect themselves or to use in retaliation for some wrong. We need to make safer streets and homes for all communities. Patriotism is recognizing that the majority of gun deaths are suicides so safe storage of guns is essential. Patriotism is knowing that domestic abusers should not have guns., Patriotism is protecting our communities from shooters with assault rifles only needed ( wanted) to kill as many people as possible in a very short time. Patriotism is understanding that requiring a background check on every gun sale is to protect us all from people who should not have guns.

Patriots are the majority of Americans, including gun owners, who want common sense gun laws passed by their lawmakers.

This post started when I took a photo of a car (at end of the post) in a local park displaying a very large American flag and a thin blue line flag which is meant to show support for our police officers. Unfortunately the meaning has been co-opted by white supremacists after the protests during and after the murder of George Floyd.

“We’ve seen trucks riding around with big old versions,” said Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, about the protests in recent days. “It feels akin to a Confederate flag.” She has also noticed the flag’s image on police and other government-owned vehicles, and she sees this as evidence that even self-described liberal officials are not doing enough to combat white supremacy. “The supposed ‘liberal’ answer to Donald Trump has not been as critical of police violence as it should be,” she said.

Police officers themselves are also not speaking uniformly about the flag. Last month, San Francisco’s chief of police Bill Scott banned his officers from wearing face masks emblazoned with the thin blue line flag, worrying they would be seen as “divisive and disrespectful.” The masks had been distributed by the local police union, which accused the department of failing to provide masks. “We did it as a morale booster for each other,” union president Tony Montoya said, “not as a political statement.”

Photo from above linked article

I had never seen one of these flags flown before but I am now living in rural America where I feel like there is an alternate set of norms and lifestyle than that in most urban areas. I am still not sure how that happened but happen it did. There is a not so thin line between the two and the polarization is real and dangerous.

I asked myself as I have done many times before, what it actually means for this “in your face” display of flags. The American flag on the car I photographed was so large that it looked like it would hit the ground when the car was being driven around. How is that patriotism? And of course, I support our local police department. They have done a good job of policing in my community and there when I have needed them. And I also am outraged at shootings of officers and the hatred of police by so many. Some of the ambushes of officers, like that in Dallas in 2016, have been horrendous to say the least. That shooter was angry with police for the shootings of Black people so his solution was to shoot officers.

More guns = public safety.

I am white. I don’t know how it feels to be Black in America with outright racism coming from law enforcement. We White folks cannot possibly understand. We can provide support to our Black and brown brothers and sisters and listen to them and their experiences.

It is possible to support police while recognizing that policing must change and be reformed. Far too often, even now after George Floyd’s death, officers are doing the same thing. Shooting a black man , Jacob Blake, 7 times in the back during a domestic abuse situation which has still not been adequately explained, is just wrong. Diffusing tense situations is dangerous and stressful for all concerned. Officers are afraid that almost anyone can have a gun because our loose gun laws have made that possible. So yes, they are afraid of armed citizens and especially in volatile situations when anger, fear and/or acute mental illness are involved.

The converse of course is that Black, brown and indigenous people fear police- for very good reason. We have come a ways since now deceased Rep. John Lewis was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge but it’s obvious that we have not come nearly far enough.

Being a patriot is being like John Lewis. Being a patriot is protecting our elections and assuring that every registered voter can vote. Being a patriot is doing whatever is necessary to stop the spread of a deadly coronavirus. Being a patriot is making sure our schools and our businesses will re-open only after we have taken herculean steps to stop the spread of COVID. Being a patriot is making sure those on unemployment are getting the money they need to survive and feed their families. Being a patriot is doing whatever is necessary to protect Social Security and Medicare for our seniors and providing healthcare to all Americans.

As deceased Senator Paul Wellstone ( my Senator) , a true American patriot, said “We all do better when we all do better.”

I don’t believe that Trump and his sycophantic followers are true patriots. They believe in the lies and conspiracy theories thrown out by our very own President every hour of every day. By believing in Trump, they are doing exactly the wrong things to protect Americans from the virus, from gun violence, from racial injustice, from right wing extremists, from fair and free elections, from providing for our families and communities.

Stand up and show your patriotism. Vote for those who will actually take care of us and our country. I know we can do better and we will but everyone needs to go to the polls or get an absentee ballot and then actually put in the mail or a drop box. Don’t let anyone take that right away from you.

Fight for it. VOTE. Vote for honest and caring candidates who will be clear and transparent about their agenda and be open about their reasons for running. I will vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They are true patriots.

Sabbath attacks

Yesterday was the Jewish sabbath. In New York, a man ran into the home of a Rabbi celebrating Hanukkah with friends and family and stabbed 5 people leaving 2 seriously injured:

“It was a terrifying scene, the officials and witness reported, saying that the violence occurred at about 10 p.m. as numerous people were celebrating Hanukkah at the home of the rabbi, Chaim Rottenberg, in Monsey, which is in an area with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews. (…) Mr. Kohn said that after the attacker fled, he tried to enter a synagogue next door, Congregation Netzach Yisroel, which is led by Rabbi Rottenberg.

But people inside the synagogue apparently heard screams from the rabbi’s home and, fearful, locked the door so the attacker could not get in, Mr. Kohn said.

Why, you might ask, do I write about a mass stabbing? They are relatively rare compared to mass shootings and often leave the victims injured but not dead. Never mind though, the far right and the gun rights advocates love to tell you that knivings result in more deaths than “rifles”. Let’s take a look at this Politifact article to find out the truth:

When totaling the data from the FBI crime report, we see that 374 people were killed by rifles, while 1,604 were killed by knives or cutting instruments. That means about 4.3 times as many people were killed by knives or cutting instruments as were killed by rifles.

“He is comparing a full set of cutting instruments to a partial set of guns which makes cutting instruments look more deadly,” said Dr. James Nolan, a sociology professor at West Virginia University.

“The real story from the data is that the odds of being murdered by a firearm are nearly seven times higher than the odds of being murdered by a knife or cutting instrument,” he said.

When you look at firearms murders overall, the number is staggeringly different: 11,004 murders out of 15,070 total murders were committed with firearms. That is, 73 percent of U.S. murders were committed with firearms — 3.4 percent of firearm murders were committed with a rifle. The other categories are shotguns, handguns and “type unknown.”

So comparing apples to oranges is misleading. Knives can be dangerous for sure. When used as a weapon they can kill and injure. And what happened in New York is reprehensible at the least. It’s hate and anti-Semitic nature make it a domestic terrorism attack. Unfortunately those are on the increase in America. What makes it even worse than usual is that the current occupant of the White House encourages hate and intolerance and fails to speak out against White Supremacism, Racism and anti-Semitism:

Indeed, the most dangerous thing about living at a time of constant stories about anti-Semitism is how quickly the hatred is normalized. Two and a half years ago, chants of “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville, Virginia, stunned America; today, anti-Semitism is just a part of the news cycle.And so, as we take stock after this latest news, it’s time to face three uncomfortable truths. First, despite his claims, Giuliani’s comments are unmistakably anti-Semitic. Second, this anti-Semitism is not merely vile but dangerous: The anti-Soros tropes like those evoked by Giuliani may tacitly encourage those prone to violence, resulting in Jewish bodies on the streets. Most disturbingly, we can’t write this off as the inebriated ravings of a single man. Everything Giuliani said had been repeated, over and over, by President Donald Trump, by Republican lawmakers and by Fox News hosts.

We can’t forget the recent shootings in synagogues- Tree of Life and Poway mass shootings are still fresh in our minds. In the linked article you can see an increase in the 21st century of attacks on synagogues. Something is rotten.

Note that as of the time I wrote this, there has not been one tweet or one statement from our President about the attack at the New York home of the Rabbi.

No words.

And speaking of shootings at places of worship, there have been quite a number of them as well over the past few years. I won’t name them here but I’m sure you know of them.

One happened just this morning at White Settlement church in Texas. Two are dead and one injured. From another article, it seems that an armed member, perhaps a security guard at the church, shot the shooter. Not before, of course, the shooter got off a few rounds and did the damage. These kind of things take everyone by surprise because why would you think you might be shot while taking communion at a church service on a Sunday morning?

Do I have to remind you that the deadliest shooting at a place of worship also happened in Texas- at Sutherland Springs, leaving 26 dead?

It’s the sabbath in America when many Americans practice their faith in different ways. Have we come to needing armed guards at churches? Do we need them wherever we go because that is what may happen? But how would that work? Or should we all carry our guns with us wherever we go? That will make for a safer America for sure.

It’s heartening to see that an unarmed group of volunteers calling themselves the Guardian Angels will be patrolling the streets near where the stabbing attack occurred and in Jewish neighborhoods. No guns. No knives. Just people making a statement that we are not going to let these attacks deter us from living our lives and we will not let them frighten us (though they most certainly do at some level).

It’s clear that we need leadership from our elected leaders to protect us. That is the bottom line.

Instead of dealing with an out of control gun culture and culture of fear, intolerance, hate and paranoia, some are ignoring the crisis and acquiescing to the corporate gun lobby’s myths. It’s a sad and chaotic way to live but that is the way some like it because then they can control everything and make money doing it.

Call me cynical if you must but we are ending 2019 with a record number of gun deaths according to Gun Violence Archive and all of the everyday media reports of shootings. Will things change in 2020? Will common sense break out? I think you know the answer to that. As long as our leaders would rather support corporate money and power rather than what the majority of Americans want them to do, this will be our sabbath and worship days, and our school days, and our shopping at malls, and going to work, and enjoying concerts and movies. This will be our fate as a country unless we get new leaders who will stand up for what is morally the right thing to do and stop the shootings.

If we can’t or won’t change the laws and the culture, we will change the leaders.

Let’s get to work.

This is not normal. It doesn’t have to be like this.

And let us take a minute to remember the victims of both attacks. They have names. They have family and communities grieving their losses and grieving that their faith stirs hate enough to want them dead.

No holiday break from shootings

From EndFamiyFire.org

It happens every Christmas. Yes, Santa Claus comes and leaves gifts. Families get together and celebrate. Some families, of course, do not celebrate Christmas but a different religious or cultural tradition like Hanukkah or Kwanza. But there is no celebration for a family in Florida where a murder/suicide took the lives of 3 in front of 4 innocent children who can’t unsee what they saw:

“It’s safe to say the holidays oftentimes put stressors on families and individuals and how they respond to those situations is, obviously, difficult and taking into account the lives it impacts is tremendous,” he added, according to The Ledger.

It’s also safe to say that easy access to guns and the idea that a gun can “solve a problem” or gets used in a suicide or in anger is a factor. It has to be factored in because you just don’t read about a hanging murder/suicide or rarely if ever about a knifing murder/suicide.

PTSD is real. Kids are exposed to shootings and the after-effects every day. It is not a pretty picture to see dead bodies with gunshot wounds.

It’s the guns. It’s “family fire”. It’s our country’s fascination with guns and the promotion of guns by the corporate gun lobby. It’s our lack of strong gun laws that can not only prevent some people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them but the idea that it’s OK for anyone to have a gun for any purpose.

It’s a total lack of any common sense when it comes to the gun culture, gun laws and how people perceive gun ownership as a right no matter what.

We all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Did I mention that this shooting was in Florida? I wrote about shootings in Florida in my last post. Florida, the state of the gun lobby on steroids.

Happy holidays.

Please stay safe and put your guns away at least for this week or so. But maybe think about the fact that if you own a gun, you might just use it in despair, anger, or in a suicidal family tragedy. Responsible gun ownership comes with safe storage, not using the gun in anger or during family disputes or disputes with friends. It means not taking your gun with you everywhere you go because it is more likely to be used against you or someone you know or love than it self defense.

And don’t tell me that doesn’t happen.

It happens every single day in America.

Just check out the Gun Violence Archive for the facts.

Facts matter. Lives matter. Research matters. Responsibility matters. Safe storage matters. Laws matter. Common sense matters.

Are there stray bullets?

I have been thinking about all of the shootings since I last wrote and shooting anniversaries ( 5 victims remembered one year after the Annapolis Capital Gazette newspaper office). We have a mass shooting every day in America and could be doing a memorial every day as well. This is the sad state of gun violence in America in the week leading up to our nation’s July 4th celebration.

Is there such a thing as a stray bullet? Every bullet shot out of a firearm finds a place to land. Most often they land in the bodies of innocent humans going about their everyday business. Take, for example, the headline of an article in today’s Duluth News Tribune- “Drive-by shooting in St. Paul injures 5“:

The shootings in the Payne-Phalen area happened about two hours after a man was killed in a shooting, also on the city’s East Side, but Sgt. Mike Ernster said police don’t believe the cases are related.

Officers responded to a two-story house at 909 Desoto Street about 10:30 p.m. on a report of shots fired and found four people injured.

Note that there was a shooting homicide a few hours earlier. No doubt we will learn more about this shooting of 5. No matter who they were or what the circumstances, we know that bullets are flying in our neighborhoods and homes, injuring or killing about 100 a day.

These are daily headlines all over America. They are commonplace enough that most people just shrug and move on. In another country, people would be outraged about it and do something about it or have already done something about it so these are not headlines in their media outlets.

We are an America in love with our guns. Other countries have hunters and recreational shooters but do not own handguns for protection. Other countries also do not have a second amendment or powerful and influential gun lobby making the rules for gun ownership. That could change in America because the once powerful gun lobby has been exposed for the corrupt organization it is and is having so many financial difficulties that there hateful and fear mongering NRATV has been canceled. Dana Loesch’s voice will be silenced for the moment and her terrible screeds against those of us who want common sense gun laws and a gun culture that includes gun safety reform will not be heard by the gun rights extremists.

Her lies and deceptions have been influencing the far right for several years and fomenting the people with guns who are waiting for their insurrection moment. From the Media Matters article above:

The morning after the first Democratic primary debate, Loesch took to Fox & Friends to criticize Democratic presidential candidates’ positions on gun violence prevention. Loesch claimed the candidates hide their “confiscation” plans by calling them “mandatory buybacks.” 

The former NRA spokesperson went on to baselessly claim a new Gallup poll shows “there are more people who think that 9/11 was an inside job” and “more people believe the moon landing was fake than actually want gun control.” 

Fake news. Some people can be controlled by lack of understanding and education about issues. Facts actually do matter. Basing policy and public opinion on false information and lies is dangerous to our country. We have a President who lies with almost every word that comes out of his mouth. So to attribute lies about guns and gun safety reform to those who were telling the truth in the Democratic primaries is the height of hypocrisy. So far it has worked for a certain segment of the population who also call themselves patriots.

Do guns = patriotism? No, is the answer. But on July 4th and other holidays like New Years Eve, some people believe they can do whatever they want with their guns and fire them into the air in celebration. They forgot or never thought of the fact that bullets don’t know where to stop until they hit something. Celebratory gunfire takes the lives or injures innocent people every year when stray bullets go up and then, as is inevitable, come back down. My friend Joe Jaskolka, is one of the innocent victims of such a stray bullet.

Joe’s life and those of his loved ones and friends were forever changed by a stray bullet.

Another stray bullet found its’ way into the body of a Minnesota motorcyclist just traveling innocently and trying to enjoy his ride. A reckless and irresponsible gun owner was target shooting nearby not thinking that bullets actually fly around in the area:

Good advice. The funny thing about this statement ( not funny really) is that too often shooters are sure of their targets which is why so many Americans have died from bullets. And the other bit of hypocrisy is that even people who are trained to use weapons such as law enforcement officers and military members frequently miss their intended targets.

And we want teachers to have guns in schools to protect our children? Do we want this teacher to carry her gun in her classroom after pulling it out to threaten someone who got in front of her at a McDonald’s drive through line? I think not.

Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill. They should not be owned, stored or carried cavalierly as they too often are.

We are at our cabin for the week of July 4th. We have heard someone target shooting across the lake and not too far from the road that goes past our lake. We think it is the sound of a shotgun which would be less dangerous to others. But it isn’t even close to hunting season so why be shooting now? But then we do hear the sound of a rifle which means there are bullets flying around that could actually hit someone else. And yes, people have a right to shoot off guns in rural areas on property they own or at gun ranges, But if they are not careful, innocent people could be their targets.

Speaking of innocent victims there have been a number of “accidental” shootings of children by children. Two children were injured in Texas when another got access to a shotgun and shot it, as children will do. Yes, even shotguns need to be stored safely away from ammunition. Or this grandmother whose purse was the “holster” for a concealed carried gun:

Kayden Stuber was staying with his grandmother and aunt while his parents were at work, and according to local authorities, the child went into his grandma’s purse — which was sitting on the bed — and “in some way retrieved, was handling the gun when it discharged,” Greenville County Coroner Kent Dill says. Deputies and emergency responders rushed to the scene, but Kayden was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.

An innocent two year old is dead and the entire family is traumatized. The ripple effect of gun violence is real.

These are American tragedies and not only senseless but avoidable.

The thing is, there are far too many irresponsible gun owners who have been convinced that owning a gun for self defense and maybe carrying one around for protection is a good idea. There is no training required when one purchases a gun for any reason. There should be.

And some states have loosened concealed carry laws to the point where no permits or training are required and want a national law that would recognize the permits from any other state regardless of the regulations.

So far the law has failed to pass. How can any politician even think this is a good idea? Simple- they are lapdogs for the corporate gun lobby.

Our politicians are not thinking through the facts and one fact should trump all others. Passing stronger gun laws is patriotic and will result in a safer America. Stronger gun laws will not infringe on our constitution or gun rights. It will make them stronger as well.

Back to my original thesis- there really are no stray bullets. There are bullets intended for someone else. There are bullets intended for someone loved or known by the shooter. There are bullets that are not locked away from children, suicidal adults, felons, burglars, domestic abusers, terrorists and others who should not have them. There are bullets shot by irresponsible gun owners who think it’s fun to target shoot or shoot into the air without bothering to think about the consequences and where the bullets might land.

Have a safe and happy July 4th however you celebrate. If your celebration includes guns, please use them safely and think about your surroundings. And for goodness sake, don’t let children use those guns or find them lying around loaded. Safe storage of guns saves lives. It keeps small hands from accessing them. It keeps people who are suicidal from accessing them. It keeps people who could be a danger to themselves or others from accessing them.

Being a patriot also means caring enough about our country to care about the safety of its’ families and communities. Being free from shootings is being a free country where we all feel safe in our communities.

Guns for entertainment

Yesterday President Trump actually told British media personality Piers Morgan in an interview that AR-15s are used for entertainment. Yes. He said that. He is parroting what the gun lobby is trying to sell to us about the necessity for these weapons meant for war. And coincidentally the President was in Britain, and then in Normandy, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of D-Day where thousands of U.S., British and Canadian troops were shot on the Omaha, Utah and Gold beaches.

Let’s look at Trump’s words from the linked article:

“In London you have stabbings. I read an article…they said your hospital is a sea of blood…Piers, when somebody has a gun illegally and the others [don’t] they have no chance. The bad guys are not getting rid of their guns…The people who obey the laws are sitting ducks. The thing I think about the most is Paris…if there was a gun on the other side.”

Deflect, deflect, deceive, lie, deflect, blame someone else, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…….

Where is common sense? Inexplicably he also tried to slough off any criticism of America’s public health gun violence epidemic by blaming the British for all the blood running in England from knife deaths. Good grief. You just can’t make this stuff up but this is also the gun lobby’s turning the conversation away from all of the blood running in the streets and homes of Americans from gun violence.

According to the above article knife deaths are up in the UK and so are gun deaths- they are up to 29. America’s are up,too- about 40,000! No comparison.

My brother fought in Viet Nam and was under fire much of the time he was there. He came home with Malaria and now suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and PTSD. He doesn’t think of assault rifles as entertainment. To him they mean death and destruction.

My Dad was a World War ll Veteran. He served in an Infantry Brigade in North Africa and Italy. He rarely talked about the horrors of war but clearly suffered from Panic Attacks. He was involved in a lot of gunfire as they marched over the mountains and into Rome. He did not live long enough to mourn the death of my sister who was murdered in a domestic shooting. I am quite sure he would have been horrified at the proliferation of shootings and mass shootings, some of which were the result of shooters using AR-15s to kill as many people as possible in as short a time period as possible.

We should all be horrified that our President thinks AR-15s are for entertainment when they are weapons that don’t belong in the hands of ordinary citizens, gun rights or not. Did the founding fathers anticipate this kind of carnage when they wrote their infamous and now controversial words? Would they have been able to predict that since 1968 when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, more Americans have been killed by guns than all American wars combined? Yesterday was the 51st anniversary of his shooting. I will never forget that awful day as America mourned the shooting death of a second Kennedy brother. I don’t believe he would have been in favor of the sale and use of semi-automatic assault rifles for common use.

(added since first posted) I just ran across this relevant article about gun deaths compared to American deaths on D-Day:

Some 2,501 Americans gave their lives that day, according to historic estimates. Another 1,913 soldiers from other Allied countries also died, bringing the total death toll from the immediate invasion to 4,414.

It took until late April before the number of people killed by guns in the United States in 2019 topped that number, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive. (This data excludes suicides.)

This is so stunning that there are really no good words to talk about it.

Let’s take a look at guns used for “entertainment”:

Does anyone remember when a little girl “accidentally” shot and killed the gun range instructor with an Uzi which her parents allowed her to shoot? The man’s family is suing the girl’s family for allowing her to shoot the gun? Did he not have a responsibility to say No to letting a 9 year old shoot an Uzi for fun? Presumably that was for entertainment.

Too many other incidents like this have happened to enumerate here. Guns are not for entertainment. Their sole purpose is to kill animals or humans. That is what they are designed to do.

There are so many other things that people can do for entertainment. Bowling. Movies. Sports. Music. Theater. Playing games with friends. And yes, I get that some like to shoot guns for fun at gun ranges. But the slippery slope has created a gun culture where military style weapons have become common place for just about anyone who wants one. That is not entertainment.

The President is wrong. The gun lobby is wrong. Guns are not their playthings that they can do anything they want to do with them.

It’s been 100 days since the House passed H.R. 8 to require background checks on all gun sales. The Senate companion bill, S. 42 is in limbo because……rights? fear? paranoia? power and influence? campaign contributions?

How about saving lives? Does that figure into any of this. Here is today’s press release from Brady about 100 days passing since the House passed the life saving bill:

In the 100 days since the House passed H.R. 8 in a bipartisan vote:*

10,000 people have been shot and killed;

21,000 people were injured by gunfire;

400 children and teenagers (1-17) were killed in shootings;

800 children and teens were shot in family fire;

6,100 Americans died from suicide with a firearm, with another 1,000 attempting.

A reminder to my readers- this is NOT NORMAL. This is a public health epidemic. The Republicans in the Senate are letting America down. They seem to feel no shame or responsibility when mass shootings occur every week or so and 12 or more innocent people are mowed down for no apparent reason except a gun was readily available. And for the domestic related gun deaths and for the suicides by gun and the little children shooting each other with a gun found at home. They have no conscience.

We are better than this.

Twelve more

It’s happened again. News programs were interrupted with news of a mass workplace shooting in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Sigh.

Tears. Weeping.

Grief.

Exhaustion.

Devastation.

Cries for doing something.

Statements from gun violence prevention groups and elected leaders who care about lives of innocent people taken in a matter of second.

Brady.

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Statements about the incident- a gunfight. A silencer used. People couldn’t tell how close the shooter was thanks to the silencer. The NRA and its’ lapdog politicians floated a bill to make silencers easier to obtain. But then the Las Vegas shooting happened. And now this.

Extended magazines. More weapons found at the shooter’s home.

Why do we allow extended magazines again? For what are they useful other than shooting as many people as possible in a very short time?

Workplace shootings are becoming more common. What should businesses do? Read this:

There were 1553 firearm workplace homicides during the study period. Robbery crime trended downward from 2011 to 2015. In contrast, non-robbery crimes constituted almost 50% of the homicides and trended upward in recent years. Customers and co-workers were the most frequent perpetrators of non-robbery crimes, most after an argument. While customers and co-workers who commit these crimes were often armed at the time of the argument, some were not and retrieved a firearm from an unspecified location before committing a homicide. Thus, immediate and ready firearm access was commonly observed in argumentative workplace deaths.
Conclusions
Limiting firearm access in the workplace is a possible measure for preventing deadly workplace violence and should be considered as part of a comprehensive strategy for addressing this reemerging public health concern.

Where is common sense?

As the shooting was happening, our local Northland Brady/Protect Minnesota chapter, together with Moms Demand Action and the Duluth Federation of Teachers was holding a Wear Orange kick-off for June as gun violence prevention awareness month.

Speakers were amazing. Two students stepped to the microphone to talk about how it is for students in these days of mass school shootings. A 7th grade girl read a poem she had written after the Parkland shooting. A high school junior spoke of student lockdowns and how frightening they are. He asked where the elected leaders were and cited the large contribution given by the NRA to our newly elected Republican Congressman who voted against the House passed background check and Charleston loophole bills.

Powerful statements from our kids. And adults have failed them.

The Mayor read a proclamation making June 7th gun violence prevention awareness day in Duluth. The city of Duluth posted this on their Facebook page and what were the comments by the insensitive gun rights extremists? She’s taking away guns and rights.

Be quiet. Stop it. No one’s guns will be taken away. Stop trying to scare and intimidate. We are not listening any more. They are a very distinct minority.

The School Superintendent spoke of a near tragedy in one of the Duluth schools when a credible threat occurred and a man was arrested inside of the school. Authorities found guns in his car in the school parking lot.

Shame on those who refuse to move- who refuse to acknowledge our public health epidemic because they are beholden to a failed and corrupt gun rights organization. They are listening to an ever decreasing minority of gun rights extremists.

Former Republican Congressman David Jolly got it right. Our gun laws are broken. If we care about innocent lives and all lives, we will fix our broken system like other democratized countries have done.

President Trump responds to the shooting?

Democratic Presidential candidates are heartsick and furious.

So are we all. The majority of us know that passing stronger gun laws and changing our gun culture will not take away rights to own guns. The insistence that the second amendment means no gun laws allows daily carnage.

A writer for CNN says that we have a cult of guns in America. He is so right:

None of this will stop unless the cult of guns is curbed.
This won’t be easy; the cult has a lot of money behind it. The money pours in from the “devout”: small-time contributions to the NRA that amount to hundreds of millions of dollars each year. This money is used, in our skewed version of democracy, to influence politicians, who are only too happy to be bought.
Our Congress is swamped with men and women, our so-called representatives, who do not represent the majority view, which is that guns must be curtailed.

According to Gun Violence Archive this is the 150th mass shooting of the year. That happened before half of 2019 is over. We still have 7 months for the bodies to add up.

This is NOT NORMAL.

After posting this post I found another post by Shaun King who wrote about how we handle mass shootings in America:

That’s the game we play. To get through dinner, to get through a movie or a game, to get through quality time with our loved ones, we must temporarily suspend our knowledge that people are being slaughtered all around us. We speak of the Wild Wild West as some nostalgic era of the past, but we’re living it. The United States is the only nation in the world that has more guns than people. And it shows. Americans are shooting and killing themselves and killing others with guns at a pace that should be treated as a dire National Emergency. If we just enacted a fraction of the basic standards and norms held by the rest of the world, our nation would be so much safer.

Who have we become as a nation, as people with moral compasses, as people of compassion for others, as people who espouse non-violence?

Who do we want to be? Is this it? Reading names of victims after every mass shooting? Posting photos of those who lost their lives yesterday in “everyday shootings”?

I think not. We are better than this.

At this morning’s press conference in Virginia Beach, the names and photos of the victims were released by the City Manager of the city who said their names in with an emotional voice:

“They leave a void that will never be filled,” Hansen said. 

Too many voids.

Wear Orange on June 7th for gun violence prevention awareness. Wear it for the victims. Wear it for Hadiye Pendleton whose family started the observance of the day. Do your part. Get activated, Make noise and most of all, hold elected officials accountable for their inaction.

Stupid and Dangerous- series 100

Back when I was writing my blog on Blogger before it was hacked (who would do something like that?) , I wrote a bunch of posts that I called Stupid and Dangerous and started numbering them. The thing is, I just couldn’t keep numbering because there are so many stupid and dangerous incidents with guns. I had trouble keeping up.

In the last few weeks there have been enough of them that I decided that I must write again about how irresponsible and stupid so many gun owners are with their dangerous weapons. The risks are many when one brings a gun into one’s home or carries in public. Enough so, that reconsideration may be necessary in order to stay safe.

So let me begin my list of stupid, dangerous and sometimes deadly incidents with guns:

  • A man in Washington state hid drugs in his butt and pocket and then his not too well hidden gun fired, shooting him in the testicles. (How often do gun rights extremists claim this cannot happen?) Yes, one wants to feel for the guy, but really? Come on. He was a convicted felon with drugs and a gun: “Wilson, who is a 13-time convicted felon, told his girlfriend to dispose of the weapon before heading to the hospital, the paper said…..When the ex-con finally went to the hospital, a balloon of marijuana slipped out of his anus while a doctor was operating on the gunshot wound, court records show….Cops also arrived at the hospital when alerted of the gunshot wound and searched Wilson’s car where they discovered a bag of meth in the blood-stained jeans he was wearing when he shot himself. ” No more words necessary

And of course, none of these involve the many many other shooting incidents happening every day that are intentional. Common sense tells us that this is not normal. But in America, of course, it is. Sadly it is because our leaders have decided they would rather be lapdogs to the corporate gun lobby than to protect us from gun violence.

Guns are dangerous. Many gun owners understand that and take care not to let stupid and dangerous things happen with their guns. But there are so many guns out there owned by people who shouldn’t have them in the first place thanks to our loose gun laws and elected leaders with no backbone, that incidents like the ones I described above seem to be on the increase.

It goes without saying that something needs to be done. Keep the pressure on your elected leaders to do whatever needs to be done to stop the above mentioned incidents and keep us all safe from this lunacy. Join a gun violence prevention organization. Talk to your legislators and Congress members. Talk to your friends. Safely store your guns and ask others to do the same. Make sure people are trained properly before going anywhere or doing anything with a loaded weapon.

The gun lobby would love to normalize the carrying of guns in public so we just get used to having people with guns everywhere. Should we just get used to these “normal” people shooting the rest of us?