Who do you trust?

PrintApparently there are many in America who trust no one but themselves. Trust in government has been eroded over years, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not. But it’s clear that the minority of Americans who oppose background checks on all gun sales actually believe it will lead to confiscation of their guns.

The Trace has again done some research into who the people are who oppose those on the terror watch list from being stopped from getting guns and those who oppose background checks on all gun sales. Results were interesting but not necessarily surprising.From the article:

The Pew Research Center provided The Trace with a breakout of respondents to a July 2015 poll who indicated opposition to expanded background checks. The numbers show that people who oppose requiring checks at gun shows are more likely to be male, white, and lack a college degree than those that support such laws.

Among opponents of expanded checks, the gender split is 57 percent male to 42 percent female.

Forty-nine percent were white, 15 percent were black. In that same pool, those whose schooling stopped at high school were nearly five times as likely to oppose background checks at gun shows than those with a college degree.

By a nearly two-to-one margin, opponents of background checks at gun shows are also less likely to say that they do not live in a gun-owning household.

I have a question for these folks. Do you honestly think that those who have been identified as known terrorists should be able to purchase guns legally from licensed dealers?

Do you really think it is more important to protect the rights of those few who are on the list by mistake than to protect the next 50 people gathered together in a public place from being shot by someone who has terrorist leanings?

The Orlando shooting is still being investigated as to whether the shooter was a terrorists but he clearly had some leanings in that direction. There is no proof that the shooting was directed by any terror group.

That being said, the shooter was also mentally unstable according to many, angry, according to many, and a domestic abuser according to his first wife. There are many reasons why this guy should not have had a gun. But we have made it easy for anyone to get a gun no matter what. The Brady law had a built in loophole put there on purpose by the gun lobby. It allowed for private sellers of guns to not have to require background checks on sales.

So do you honestly believe people who shouldn’t have guns should be able to get them anyway with no background check?

Do you really believe that the very same Brady background check you have been getting for many years now when you buy a gun from a licensed seller will lead to gun registration or confiscation if a private seller requires the check?

Do you honestly believe that only “good guys” with guns can stop “bad guys” with guns?

Do you believe that everyone who legally buys a gun will be safe with that gun?

Do you really believe the government is coming for your guns?

Do you actually believe that your small arsenal of guns would protect you against that scenario should it actually happen?

Do you understand that your guns are more likely to be used to shoot someone close to you than to be used in self defense?

Do you really believe in the fear and paranoia foisted on you by the corporate gun lobby?

Do you trust that this guy is telling you the truth?:

I’m just asking.

Common sense indicates that background checks on all gun sales will only affect those who shouldn’t have guns. It also is proven that in states ( and in countries) where background checks on all gun sales are required, lives are saved. Yes, it’s true. Lives are saved.

Do you honestly want to save lives and prevent gun violence? Do you want to prevent your teen-ager from committing suicide with one of your guns? Do you want to keep your child from getting your loaded gun and shooting him/herself or a friend or sibling? Do you want to keep someone from stealing your gun and using it in a crime? Do you care about the lives of young black people who are dying in great numbers from bullets because guns are so readily available to them? Do you want to keep your neighbor from “accidentally” discharging his/her gun and having the bullet come flying through your wall, or hitting you in the leg in a public place? Do you trust that your child or grandchild will absolutely not pick up a loaded gun and fire it?

Who do you trust? Do you trust everyone with a gun? Do you trust people who have bought their guns legally though they shouldn’t have one? Do you trust that your armed neighbor is not going to have too much to drink and bring out his gun and shoot you? Do you trust the young man next door who just might have terrorist leanings, with his gun? Do you trust the mentally unstable young man who lives down the street with guns?

It comes down to what we are willing to do to save lives and keep our children and communities safe from mass shootings like that that just happened in Orlando and from the tens of thousands of suicides, domestic homicides, gang shootings, “accidental discharges” of guns leading to death and injury, home grown terror attacks, actual terror attacks, and other shootings. I trust that passing stronger laws will save lives and prevent shootings. My trust is backed up by the facts.

I happen to trust the government. I am not afraid of the government. I am not afraid of armed people lurking around every corner to shoot me. Government is not perfect. But going it alone and living life with the fear and paranoia so many people experience must be exhausting. By nature I am a positive person. I have lost a sister in a domestic shooting that should have made me distrustful but instead it made me resolved to do something to keep other families from experiencing what my family has.

And I trust that the Senate Democrats did the right thing when they forced a vote on Monday. The amendments failed but their resolve is a model of what can be done when there is resolve and a moral imperative from the majority of Americans on your side. I trust the House Democrats who are, as I write, having a “sit-in” on the House floor to force a vote on the no-fly, no-buy bill and an expanded background check bill. It sounds like a vote will happen:

In a move rich with historic symbolism, Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, and fellow Democrats sat down at the front of the chamber in an unusual demonstration of civil disobedience challenging Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We have been too quiet for too long,” Lewis said. “There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise, when you have to move your feet. This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more.”
I trust Representative John Lewis because he has brought the issue of gun violence right where it belongs- at the forefront of our political arena. Just like Senator Chris Murphy did last week when he began the successful filibuster that led to the Senate votes this week.

I trust that eventually we will get this right and sit down and stand up for victims. I trust that this time, the gun lobby and its’ minions are not going to dominate the conversation. Why? Because Americans have had #Enough and want to #DisarmHate.

Who do you trust?

Do you trust those who are standing ( or sitting down for) the victims who want the carnage and massacres to stop or those whose profits depend on selling guns and keeping people fearful and paranoid about gun confiscation?

#NoBillNoBreak

Watching the House members who are sitting in the House chamber is inspiring to the millions of Americans who want stronger gun laws. We have lost trust in our leaders and the system to do something about the daily carnage and regular massacres. There is no excuse for doing nothing except in some sort of twisted belief in the corporate gun lobby’s lies and deceptions.

And I am very proud of some of my Minnesota delegation for taking part in this historic action. Times are changing and the voices of the majority are being heard loudly and clearly.

It’s about time. How many tens and hundreds of thousands more Americans will need to die before our leaders vote for common sense?

Guns kill people

Killing - Text on Red Puzzles.

Yes they do. Guns are the only product sold to consumers that are not regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. They are also in a unique category called deadly weapons that mostly includes guns and certain types of knives. Guns are designed to inflict harm and kill people ( or animals in the case of hunting). I write this often on my blog. When I post actual articles about “accidental” discharges or incidents involving so called “law abiding” gun owners I get the usual remarks from gun rights folks. They agree that these incidents are irresponsible and careless.

Maybe they shouldn’t have had a gun? No, that is usually not mentioned because the goal of the gun lobby and gun rights extremists is for just about anyone to have guns and have them just about anywhere. And so that is the push- selling guns to as many people as possible without apparent regard to whether that person knows even the tiniest thing about a gun before walking away with one.

I am going to digress for a second here because today is the anniversary of the Columbine shooting. I wrote about April anniversaries in my last post. The Columbine shooting was the one that we saw endless video of through media outlets. Who can forget the images of teens walking out of a school building with their hands up or running in some cases or trying to get out of the windows of the building to safety? And images of the memorials and the aftermath of our country’s in a series of heinous school shootings.This was a visual reminder that indeed, guns do kill people. Here is a disturbing video from surveillance cameras in the Columbine High School cafeteria before, during and after the shooting took place. That day, guns killed 13 and injured many others and left an indelible imprint on the American psyche.

When it’s real people and we see it live or almost in real time, it’s different than watching people get shot on TV shows or movies and now, videos and video games. But truth is stranger and more real than fiction. States United to Prevent Gun Violence produced a film about the effect of real shootings called “Gun Crazy“. Watch as film goers sit in the theater with popcorn seeing real shootings rather than a violent movie. When it’s real, it’s too much. When real people have to see the real bodies of a child or a loved one who has been shot and killed by bullets, it’s  unforgettable. Nothing is ever the same.

Yes. Disturbing. We are gun crazy.

Back to guns killing people, why do people buy and own guns and who are they? Some are gun collectors. I know a few of those folks and they are nice people whose passion happens to be collecting guns- some older antique guns, some modern guns. You can really only use one at a time but if you like to handle he guns, work on them, look at them, admire them, take them to the gun range and shoot them or take them hunting, that is one thing. Some are hunters and that is the only reason they own guns. My family falls into that category. Some buy guns for target shooting and sport. And some buy guns for self defense. Still others buy many guns just in case they need them to fight against their own government. And, as it turns out, many of these people support common sense gun laws.

And unfortunately, some buy guns to kill someone they know and even love and that is the only reason they buy or access a gun. Such was the tragic case of a Minnesota man who went out and bought a gun so he could shoot his family and himself in a murder/suicide. He bought that gun one day before the shooting knowing what he was going to do. Without that gun, he must have thought he could not have accomplished this awful thing.

Can we stop incidents like this? Not all of them of course. But we do live in a country abundant with guns at the ready for anyone who wants to shoot someone or his/herself. Some people know exactly what they are going to do with a gun. Others are just careless or irresponsible as has been mentioned. But whatever else we say or don’t say or intimate or excuse, we must say the truth. Guns are dangerous and can kill or otherwise harm someone known to the owner whether or not they intend it.

So when I read this article, it resonated with me. I particularly liked the title: “Guns are designed to kill so why are we shocked when they do?” From the article:

In our national mythology, guns are symbols of liberty and autonomy, self-determination and control. When they harm us and there is no obvious person to blame, we want to believe they only do so “somehow.” Such linguistic tics subtly attribute gun failure and misuse to forces beyond our control, which is more comforting than admitting they are born of the choices we make.

The article ends this way:

Gun accidents happen because we live in close proximity to machines designed to kill; they eventually will do what they were made to do, though perhaps not at a time our choosing. Whenever this happens, the true culprit is obvious: A culture that refuses to learn the lessons of its past.

At a time of our choosing is an important phrase. Some shootings are actually accomplished at times the shooter has chosen and even thought about ahead of time. Many are not. Many are spur of the moment shootings that happen in an instant of anger or in the muddled thinking of depression or having too much alcohol or mishandling a gun or just leaving it sitting somewhere where it can be used at a time not chosen to kill or injure someone. That’s how it is with guns. They kill people. One killed my sister. Or I should say the bullets from that gun- 3 of them- caused internal injuries that killed her almost instantly. The person with that gun that day was angry over a contentious divorce. We don’t know what prompted it since there was not a trial where we could hear from him in his own words why he picked up a gun that day and shot two people. We don’t know if he met them at his door with his gun when they came to deliver some papers and got them inside the house. He killed himself 3 months after the shooting. What we do know is that he shot and killed two people while angry and depressed. Without that gun accessible, two people would not have died that day almost 23 years ago.

A woman once asked me why I didn’t think they ( my sister and her friend) could have been killed as easily with a knife. Maybe she was thinking of the now famous case where O.J. Simpson was on trial for killing his ex-wife and another man with a knife. He was not found guilty as we know but someone killed those two people and we are not sure how it was managed. Most knives are not really designed to kill people but they do kill. At a much lower rate than guns in spite of the nonsensical arguments that come from the other side about that. There have been “mass knifings” which have most often injured the people who were attacked but not killed them. One such happened in China on the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 innocent people. In China, 23 were injured and none killed.

And the answer is “no” to the woman who asked me, by the way. My now deceased brother-in-law was able to threaten and intimidate two people with a gun because it’s hard to run away from someone with a gun. A gun can be shot from close up or far away. Bullets have long trajectories. That is why they are so effective.

I’m writing and talking about common sense solutions to our gun violence epidemic. One of the things that has to be talked about is the risk of guns to their owners and others in the vicinity. I have asked whether guns are accessible when I hear of someone in a contentious divorce or domestic situation. At least some of our leaders recognize that domestic abusers certain should not have guns. In Minnesota and a handful of other states recent laws were passed to allow law enforcement to take guns away from domestic abusers who have exhibited behaviors that resulted in a restraining order and/or order for protection. Even the gun friendly legislators supported these laws and came together to make women and children safer from those who should not have guns. Hopefully that is a realization that guns can be a risk and can become deadly quickly in domestic disputes.

There are many ways we can deal with our gun violence epidemic if we treat it as the public health problem that it is. Passing laws requiring background checks on all gun sales is one. Requiring and encouraging safe storage of guns. Stopping bad apple gun dealers and stopping gun trafficking is another. Education about the risks of guns, of course, would help. Asking if there are unsecured loaded guns in the homes where your children play. Suicide awareness programs recognizing that access to guns can result in a senseless avoidable death. And this is not just about the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program which was the subject of a recent segment of Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal show.

I hope you will join me in supporting solutions that will stop the proliferation of guns in our communities and the devastating gun violence that is taking too many lives.

 

Sounding the alarm bells

alarm bellHow can we be so cavalier and casual about the recent week-end’s carnage due to shootings? Does the public pay attention any more or have we become numb to what is happening around them? People have busy lives. I get that. I pay attention because I blog and because I am so involved. But getting people to understand that we don’t have to tolerate the 90 gun deaths a day is too important to let go. The corporate gun lobby doesn’t want us to know how many people are shot and killed or injured. Guns are dangerous. They are designed to kill people. Once we pass the stronger gun laws that the public wants and the conversation changes to talking about the awesome responsibility of gun ownership, it’s possible that fewer people may want to buy firearms.

Follow the money. Profit trumps saving lives.

Last Saturday, an Uber driver went on a spree shooting, allegedly in between passenger stops. 6 people are now senselessly and tragically dead in Kalamazoo, Michigan as a result:

New details emerged about the victims, ordinary people with no connection to Mr. Dalton, enjoying simple pleasures on an unseasonably warm day — taking a walk, eyeing cars at a dealership. Outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant, a makeshift memorial and yellow caution tape marked the site where four women were shot dead and a teenage girl seriously injured.

Lt. Dale Hinz of the Michigan State Police said the people who were shot outside the restaurant just before 10:30 p.m., in the last of three assaults, had dined there earlier in the evening. He said they had then car-pooled to a performance on Western Michigan University’s campus in Kalamazoo, leaving one car behind. Afterward, they returned to the restaurant. “They had just pulled into the parking lot and just gotten back to their respective vehicles” when they were shot, Lieutenant Hinz said.

This latest rampage was just one of 6 last week-end alone leaving 10 dead and 19 wounded. In addition to the spree/mass shootings, there were the usual shootings that happen on an hourly basis in homes, businesses, schools, churches, streets, in bars and restaurants and other places where Americans gather. More from the article:

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), 80 people were killed and 150 wounded by gunfire between Friday afternoon and Sunday night — a rate of more than one fatality per hour. The new figures bring the total of gun deaths in 2016 to 1,754, according to GVA’s count. An additional 3,437 people have been injured by bullets.

These numbers do not include suicides unless they are known to media sources.

These stunning numbers should be alarming. Are they? Common sense would tell us that losing this many people to one cause should sound some bells and lead to a major discussion about how to solve the problem. But common sense is subverted by some kind of prevailing opinion not supported by the majority of Americans, that doing anything about the gun violence epidemic would violate rights. Meanwhile, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been taken from way too many victims of senseless shootings leaving devastating grief and sadness for the families, friends and communities.

And speaking of risks and responsibilities, how many more times will we see a “law abiding” gun owner and conceal carry permit holder lay his/her gun down in a home with children and have it end in a tragedy like this one?:

Neither of them noticed the little boy approach the table where Lonaker had left his .38 revolver. No one watched as he picked it up, the weapon clumsy and cold in his tiny hands. And no one saw him pull the trigger, sending a bullet flying toward his father.

With rights come responsibilities. More from the above linked article:

“Please keep your guns in a secure location out of reach of children,” his statement implored. “This was a tragic accident. Please make certain that firearms in your homes are not accessible to anyone — especially children. Many firearms accidents in the home can be prevented simply by making sure that firearms are kept unloaded and safely stored, with ammunition secured in a separate location. Please keep your guns in a secure location out of reach of children.

“This is a tragedy that is told and retold all across the country and a tragedy that can be avoided.”

Lonaker’s death is at least the 18th accidental shooting by an American child under age 10 this year, according to a Washington Post survey of news reports. Six of those incidents were fatal, and in every other one, the victim was also a child. In three cases, the person killed was the child who accidentally pulled the trigger.

This should not be the new normal. This is NOT normal anywhere else in the world. A 6 year old boy will never be the same because his own father left a gun within easy reach thinking nothing could possibly happen. The ripple effect of this tragedy will be wide and severe for all concerned.

Sound the bell for another senseless lost life due to bullets.

More vigils, More flowers. More candles. More bell ringings. More speeches about the ravages of gun violence. More avoidance by elected leaders and candidates. More people joining the club of gun violence victims and survivors.

Sound the bell. It’s past time for action. We have to be better than this and we’ve had #Enough.

 

A love affair with guns

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing and concerning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insidious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who?

We need the question answered.

UPDATE:

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

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

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

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

God help us all.

 

UPDATE #2:

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

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

 

 

 

An abomination

San Bernarndino shooting
Image from Huffington Post

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Insanity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are better than this.

Congress? Are you with us?

 

Halloween fear and paranoia

halloween_zombieWas it a coincidence that the writer of this letter that appeared in my home town newspaper was trying to scare everyone into believing the gun lobby’s lame talking points? I am going to share the entire text of this letter below:

There are some people who feel we should ban all guns in America. They feel that when there is an incident when someone goes out and kills people that the gun manufacturers are responsible. They feel the gun manufacturers should be sued for these incidents.

But if you did that, you wouldn’t be holding the individual who killed the people responsible.

Recently, a 25-year-old woman drove her car into a crowd of people, killing four and injuring 48. Are you going to hold the automobile manufacturer responsible for this accident? Here again, you pick and choose who you want to be held accountable.

Those who go out and cause all of these deaths and incidents are the ones who need to be held accountable, not the manufacturers of cars and guns and knives, etc.

People kill people, and it doesn’t matter what they use to do it.

This lame deception is the scary talk coming from, yes, the corporate gun lobby. I would remind my readers that the gun industry are the ones who are immune from most lawsuits, thanks to the corporate gun lobby. No other industry shares such immunity from accountability for faulty products or practices. The NRA and its’ friends in Congress just love to trick people into believing their false arguments.

And when a car’s design or malfunction causes an accident to happen, more often than not, lawsuits are filed and the manufacturer is held responsible. This is what leads to changes in design and practices of the auto industry. That is how the gun industry is different from most others. When lives are lost or injuries are sustained because of faulty design or practices, the public takes notice, legal action happens and changes will lead to lives saved.

The writer is wrong. Congress has picked and chosen who is responsible and they granted immunity to only one- the gun industry.

And when a person purposely drives a car into a crowd of people, killing innocent people, he/she is held accountable unless it was a faulty design of the vehicle. But let’s go further here with the writer’s reasoning. How many times do we read or hear about the accident he used as an example?

Here’s one- people were injured but not killed.

Here is the example the writer chose. Let’s look at what happened here, from the article:

“I opened the door and asked her how she was doing, what happened, felt her neck,” he said. “She just looked at me and said she was trying to kill herself. I said, ‘What?’ And she said, ‘I was trying to kill myself.’ And I asked her why and she said, ‘to be free,’” Oglesby said. (…)

Four people were killed in the crash, and 47 were hurt. One of those who died was two years old. Eleven of the injured were 13 years old or younger. (…)

Immediately after the crash, Chambers was taken into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence.

She now faces four counts of second-degree murder. She made a court appearance Monday, via closed-circuit video, during which bond was set at $1 million.

Chambers’ attorney, Tony Coleman believes that mental illness may have played a role in the crash.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Much has been made about mental illness as a source for our gun violence problem. It is a deflection about the actual problem which is that when people are severely mentally ill and have access to a gun, bad things happen. The media is replete with way too many examples of this on a regular basis- more regular than the example above. This woman claims to have been suicidal and was under the influence of alcohol. This is a terrible tragedy for all involved.

Let’s now look at how many people actually succeed in killing themselves by bullets when suicidal. The statistics are enough to scare all of us. In 2010, according to this article, over 19,000 people succeeded in committing suicide by gun. More recent data from the Centers for Disease Control show that over 21,000 Americans used firearms to commit suicide. I think we can all agree that suicide by gun takes the lives of exponentially more people than suicide by car.

The same is true with mental illness and alcohol though drunk driving does have a huge toll. In my state of Minnesota alone, drunk driving related deaths took the lives of 1442 people from 2003-2012. This does not include car accident deaths not due to drunk driving of course, which is many more. In approximately that same time period, about 300 ( or more)  gun deaths per year took the lives of Minnesotans leaving us with a toll of about 3150 deaths. 

So do guns kill people? Yes. Do car accidents kill people? Yes. Are cars designed to kill people? No. Are guns designed to kill people? Yes.

What should we be more scared of? Guns or cars? Who should we be more scared of? People with guns or people driving cars? Do more people own cars than own guns? The answer is yes. If the statistics that can be accessed are true, there is about 1 gun per person in the United States but only about 32% of people own these guns.

Guns are lethal weapons that are accountable for 32,000 deaths per year and about 70,000 injuries. Cars, not designed to kill, take the lives of about 33,000 per year. In some states, gun deaths are surpassing automobile accident deaths in young adults.

We have not banned cars as the result of the large number of deaths and injuries caused by automobile accidents. Instead we have reformed the industry and enacted stronger laws. We are not banning guns either. But what we want is the same amount of safety regulations for firearms as we have for automobiles and then we can talk about comparing the two. When firearms are registered like cars and gun owners are licensed like car drivers and the product has safety features designed to reduce injuries and deaths like cars, then we can compare. When we require the same amount of training we require in order to buy a gun as we do for getting a driver’s license, then we can compare the two.

Common sense has prevailed for almost every other cause of death in America. As a country we dig down and try to fix what we know is wrong. Collectively we do care about people dying from natural causes or accidents. That’s who we are. Research is done. Studies are released. We look for causes and effects. We change product design or treatment regimens or try new medications or interventions. That’s who we are.

So why not the same for firearms? We know the answer. The answer is in this letter. The corporate gun lobby is trying to deflect the real problem. It IS guns. People with guns are killing Americans at alarming rates. Bullets from guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them or even people who are law abiding actually do kill people. And those bullets kill more people than any other type of object such as knives, baseball bats or blunt objects. Don’t be tricked into thinking otherwise.

We should be scared. Instead many of our elected leaders are running scared from the gun lobbyists and gun rights extremists.

When victims and survivors are “treated” worse than gun lobbyists, we have a problem. But we will not be tricked any more. Our politicians should not be tricked either. Our mission will be to make sure they are not.

We can better than this. When Mothers Against Drunk Driving was formed, things happened. Our country responded by making changes to our drunk driving laws and over time, campaigns were launched to make sure there was a designated driver when groups were at parties or bars where alcohol is served. Culture change came with law changes or the other way around. Why? Because we decided as a country that we couldn’t tolerate the senseless deaths due to drunk driving.

Mothers speak truth to power on many issues, including the gun issue. The Million Mom March has resulted in women and others all over the country pushing for gun safety reform. The newly formed Moms Demand Action for Gunsense is doing the same as is Moms Rising. There are other groups started by women as well that are making a difference. Since we represent millions and the majority who want stronger gun laws, our voices will be heard. We have had #enough of the excuses espoused by this letter writer and the minority of Americans who fight any and all gun safety reform measures using their lame arguments and excuses.

The letter writer would like us to do nothing because his claim that guns don’t kill people is an excuse for doing nothing. That is not how this works or how it should work. It’s time for that to change and change is coming. This man can try to use fear and paranoia as a tactic to scare Americans into buying guns to protect themselves from zombies and other “scary”people out there. But he only needs to look at reality to know that it is not those scary zombies or “the other” killing people with guns. It’s us. It’s toddlers accessing guns they shouldn’t be able to access. It’s teens accessing guns to kill themselves. It’s older men shooting themselves with the guns they own. It’s stray bullets that are discharged by guns that the owner didn’t shoot intentionally or when it drops out of a purse or a pants pocket.

Yes, guns kill people.

On that note- I wish my readers a Happy and safe, gun death free Halloween.