Denial about gun deaths

man escaping realityIn my last post I referenced a “conversation” I had with a gun rights supporter while standing in line for the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on two bills that would keep guns away from dangerous people.  I want to talk about the denial of the gun rights community about what “universal” background checks actually mean.

I also want to talk about other lies and denials. The same man waiting in line with us to get into the committee hearing actually responded to my comment that I grew up in a hunting family and that my husband owned hunting guns by telling me I was lying to him. Really? Apparently he felt he could say anything and knew my life better than I did. There is no conversing with people like this. For what purpose would this man deny a comment made by someone about their own life and their own truth? It was incomprehensible.

Pretending and denying reality just won’t make the facts go away and doing so for a political purpose or for some unproven fear of rights being taken is disingenuous. And the corporate gun lobby has another reason for this denial- profits. Profits over saving lives is a vision for America that will keep people dying and keep people buying their guns out of fear and paranoia.

Inexcusable.

Some folks think gun violence prevention supporters are lying about everything. The facts and the truth don’t fit with their pre-conceived notions and fear and paranoia served up to them by the far right media and the gun lobby itself in the person of Mr. Wayne LaPierre. I mean, do they really believe this crap? Check out this new ad put out by the NRA after the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs and just before San Bernardino terror shooting:

“Innocents like us,” LaPierre says, addressing his NRA members directly to camera, “will continue to be slaughtered in concert halls, sports stadiums, restaurants and airplanes.”

“They will come to where we worship,” LaPierre warns as ominous music waves over blurred images of American everyday life, “where we educate and where we live.”

“But when evil knocks on our doors, Americans have a power no other people on the planet share,” LaPierre proudly proclaims, touting the Second Amendment. “Let fate decide if mercy is offered to the demons at our door.”

Good grief. Or you can check out this insanity yourself if you want to watch the video of the ad:

The denial and lies were obvious during the Minnesota hearing when the opposition to the two bills heard by the committee called the “universal background check” bill ( which it wasn’t called by the way) the “universal registration bill”. The committee chair and sponsor of the bill, Senator Ron Latz, made it quite clear that there was no registration in the bill. One can’t find that word or even anything that resembles gun registration in the language of the bill. But never mind. Denial and accusations of lies were thrown around copiously by those who testified in opposition to a bill that would be intended to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. Do they actually want felons, those who are adjudicated mentally ill, domestic abusers and other prohibited people to get their hands on guns? I just can’t wrap my head around such faulty reasoning.

I think it’s time to take a look at this comedy segment from Inside Amy Schumer from her Comedy Central show.

The truth. Thank you Amy Schumer.

But back to the man in line with me who got increasingly angry when I challenged his “facts”. He “explained” to me that all of the gun violence in Minnesota is due to gang shootings. Now admittedly there have been a good number of shootings in the Twin Cities area involving gang activity. But according to Gun Violence Archive, there have been a good number of shootings in greater Minnesota as well in communities all over our state. Avon, Duluth, Waseca, Rochester, Shakopee, Plymouth and many other communities not named.

This man must have conveniently forgotten the recent heinous shooting of a woman in Plymouth, Minnesota as she tried to get away from her fiancee, angry over something that happened in a bar. She was shot to death right on a busy street as people watched. Not a gang shooting.

He must have conveniently forgotten the shooting that happened last week when a husband shot and killed his wife in a domestic shooting in Ramsey, Minnesota and then himself- in front of their young children. Not a gang shooting.

He must have conveniently forgotten the shooting incident last winter at a resort in Tofte, Minnesota when a man with a permit to carry shot and killed another man at a company party. Not a gang shooting.

There are so many more but I don’t room for them here. These gun rights folks also conveniently ( or inconveniently) forget that 80% of gun deaths in Minnesota are suicides. Teens and older men are the most frequent victims of gun suicides. That is an inconvenient truth.

And here is another inconvenient truth. Gang shooting victims are not the majority of gun violence victims. From this article by Evan DeFillipis for Huffington Post:

The most recent Centers for Disease Control study on this subject lends further credence to our claim. It examined five cities that met the criterion for having a high prevalence of gang homicides: Los Angeles, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Long Beach, California; Oakland, California; and Newark, New Jersey. In these cities, a total of 856 gang and 2,077 non-gang homicides were identified and included in the analyses. So, even when examining cities with the largest gang problems, gang homicides only accounted for 29 percent of the total for the period under consideration (2003-2008). For the nation as a whole it would be much smaller.

(…) The 80 percent of gang-related gun homicides figure purporting to support Loesch’s claim, then, is not only false, but off by nearly a factor of five. The direct opposite is necessarily true: more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related. While gang violence is still a serious problem that needs to be addressed, it is disingenuous to assert that the vast majority of our gun problem (even excluding suicides) is caused by gangs.

In spite of this, LaPierre’s proposed solution to gun violence is to “contact every U.S. Attorney and ask them to bring at least 10 cases per month against drug dealers, gang members and other violent felons caught illegally possessing firearms.”

And the article ends with this truth:

Gun advocates’ blind focus on gangs, drugs and violent felons overlooks the larger gun problem facing America. It is irresponsible and disingenuous for some of us to brush off our staggering death toll from firearms merely as the product of gangs or even violent criminals. Recognizing America’s high homicide rate for what it is — a gun problem — is the first step in solving it.

The man in line showed me an article from one of his own conservative sites that made a claim that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that gang deaths were the majority of gun deaths. The article I have quoted is the truth. The CDC has reported no such thing. This man apparently has digested what Mr. Wayne La Pierre and others in the gun lobby are suggesting in denial of the truth.

And this, dear readers, is why we are making little progress in any common sense solutions to our national public health and safety epidemic. It is also why we need very good and credible research on the effects of guns and gun violence in our country. But the gun lobby has cleverly managed to even halt that. This is just not OK. We shouldn’t accept this kind of faulty reasoning when the truth is staring us in the face.

We have a gun problem in America. It is not like in any other democratized country not at war. It is inconvenient to some. It is tragic and devastating to many.

We are better than this.

Guns as available as candy

Chocolate, vector

In America guns are almost as readily available as candy. That is not just me talking. That is a quote from this article about yet another “accidental” shooting of a child by a child- this time in my state of Minnesota. Let’s take a look at the quote from this article:

Wilson said it is far too easy for children to get their hands on a gun.

“These kids can get a gun just like they can go and get a Snickers bar,” said Wilson, who has found himself responding to shootings in Minneapolis to help loved ones cope. “It’s not a surprise to the people who know.”

People know. It’s not a surprise. Kids can get guns like they can get candy. Kids can find loaded guns in parks. And then kids “play” with guns and sometimes when adults are in the same house. Adults are responsible for this. All guns start out as legal purchases. They don’t fall from the sky and end up in parks or in the hands of felons or others who should not have them.

And now a brother has killed his older brother. A family is devastated. A community is devastated. These are avoidable and senseless deaths.

If people know, why aren’t we doing something about this? Where do we think a gun laying around in a park comes from? Shouldn’t kids be playing in parks without fear of them coming across a gun? Obviously the gun was not a legally owned gun. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say obviously because “law abiding” gun owners have been known to leave guns laying around in bathrooms, or leaving them behind in store dressing rooms or in purses or backpacks, etc. I have written about these real life incidents many times before. But in this case, I suspect the gun was “lost” by someone else who shouldn’t have had it.

We have, by most estimates, about 300 million guns in one place or another in America. Many are legally owned. Many are not. This is about one gun per person. Stunning. With that many guns around it is inevitable that the incident I linked to above happened. It will happen again and again and it has happened before. On average, 9 kids a day are shot in America. About 7 die. Why isn’t this a national emergency?

Where is common sense?

We have such a cavalier attitude about guns in our country that finding a gun in a park is no big deal apparently. And when adults just assume that their kids know better than to play with a gun, I would say we have a serious unaddressed problem. And thanks to the corporate gun lobby,this problem is leading to devastating and avoidable gun injuries and deaths all over our country.

Just because it hasn’t happened in your community doesn’t mean it won’t. Until we get serious about having the national conversation that we deserve to have our children will be at risk. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. They are not toys. They should not be as available as candy bars. They should be difficult to access by those who shouldn’t have access- period.

The irony of this attitude towards guns appears in this great video by Comedian Amy Schumer in which a woman is asking why she can’t access birth control. Watch to the end for the best punch line. You can watch it here and decide for yourself:

http://likescake.tumblr.com/post/117172623563

Point made. Guns are easily available to children- birth control for women? Not so much.

And before I go, I must refer my readers to this awful incident, yet another of a “law abiding” Florida parent mishandling a gun resulting in the death of his own child.From the article:

Hernandez was only confirmed as the shooter through Bay County Court documents. According to court records, Hernandez was in another room of the apartment “practicing form in front of the mirror and the gun … accidentally went off and went through the mirror and the wall and fatally injured the daughter,” his attorney reported.

Practicing his form? For what? Does this guy need to look good while carrying that gun or shooting it? In what world is he living? Oh, right- the world of those who think carrying a gun makes them look macho and where nothing bad will ever happen with their own gun. Or something. At any rate, that need to practice how you would look while wearing your gun can lead to tragic consequences. A child is dead.

Sigh.

Where is common sense?