Sweeping away the real risks of guns

vacuumIt should not be surprising that we are sweeping some of our more serious problems under the rug. For example, the many incidents involving legal gun owners that occur every day. Why aren’t we talking about the true risk of guns in the home or in public places? We know the answer. The gun lobby doesn’t want us to know about this stuff. They just want us to know that if we aren’t all armed, we will be attacked by zombies, or God forbid, terrorists. And so the hyperbole and paranoia continues. I wrote in my last two posts about the foolishness of politicians and presidential candidates regarding the Paris attacks. Many opined that things would have gone so much better if only those folks had been armed.

But they don’t want to talk about the real dangers of guns carried by people who, even in situations that don’t involve terrorism, can’t handle their legal guns. And so the carnage continues.

Only in America can we read about incidents like the those I am listing below:

A man shot a woman in a “freaky sex” incident and killed her. He forgot to take the bullet out of the chamber. Really? I thought gun owners knew better. They are supposed to make themselves and the rest of us safer. Guns and sex don’t mix.

Do you need to be carrying your gun while vacuuming? It turns out that it could be dangerous. Who knew? I guess those dust bunnies are pretty scary after all. Guns and vacuuming don’t mix.

Speaking of sweeping our real problems under the rug, only in America can a white gun extremist who threatened on Twitter to kill Jews and school kids get released to his parents by a Montana judge. From the article:

Lenio’s defense team managed to have his trial postponed earlier this year and has been working on a plea deal with prosecutors. Hutson noted, however, that when he was released on the condition that he not use social media at all, Lenio immediately reactivated his Twitter account under the name @PsychicDogTalk3 and proceeded to retweet anti-Israel propaganda and musings on how to satisfy the “urge to kill.”

“He has violated the court’s order and shown contempt for the judge 348 times,” Hutson told Strickland. “He is unfit for release into his parent’s custody in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I question if he would be getting such preferential treatment if he weren’t white and the son of an investment banker.”

A Native American or Muslim man would be treated very differently under Montana law, Hutson said.

Brant Getty, the public defender assigned to represent Lenio declined to comment for the DailyInterLake article.

This article, written by Jonathan Hutson, the man who reported the extremists’ tweets, resulting in his arrest, says this about the case:

My concern now, shared by many others, is that justice may not be served by the backroom deal apparently in the works, in which a young man who may be a danger to himself and to others could be released without having been held to account for his online threats against the Kalispell community, and without the court ensuring that Lenio receive appropriate mental health care which he apparently needs and deserves.

The prosecutor, County Attorney Ed Corrigan, is considering a possible plea bargain which could result in the felony charge of intimidation being reduced to a misdemeanor, or a deferred prosecution, which would mean that eventually, the felony charge would be dismissed, and Lenio would one day get his arsenal back. Imagine David Lenio, reloaded, courtesy of the State of Montana. That could happen.

We have our own home grown terrorists with guns:

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center. (…)

Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.

We have our own problems with terrorists at home. The Montana case represents our nation’s willingness to let people who shouldn’t have guns get them anyway because….. rights.

Sigh.

With the latest terror attack and all of the talk of radical Muslims attacking people in the Western world, we absolutely must join together to do whatever it takes.

We also do need to deal with young white angry bigoted men here at home. The young man arrested for his threats to Jews and children  may get away with his threats. Where else does this happen? Are his gun rights more important than the potential damage he can do once released? I think not. And what could possibly go wrong if he gets his guns back?

We have a double standard in our country. I have written before about mass shootings being committed by mostly young white angry men with (mostly) legally purchased guns. And yet the evidence is in about young black men becoming the majority of the homicide victims in our country. They are also incarcerated at a higher rate than white people.

We have some pretty serious problems that we are not addressing in America. Yes, there was a terror attack in Paris. There was a terror attack in Lebanon. We have serious problems with violence all over the globe. Ours is with gun violence not seen in any other civilized country not at war.

Today we are alarmed and talking 24/7 about the latest terror attack. And we should be talking about that in a reasonable thoughtful manner that will result in a plan to stop the terror and the violence. But the conversation is dumbed down by those who are speaking before engaging their brains or getting the facts.

Shameful.

And when this terror attack fades from constant public attention in a few weeks as it inevitably will, will we then pay attention to our own serious public health and safety epidemic? And will we, at the least, stop people on the terror watch list from buying guns legally in our own country? From the article:

And, as the GAO found, a number of them do: Between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to purchase guns from American dealers at least 2,233 times. And in 2,043 of those cases — 91 percent of the time — they succeeded. There are about 700,000 people on the watch-list — a point that civil libertarians have made to underscore that many on the list may be family members or acquaintances of people with potential terrorist connections. (…)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill to do that earlier this year. The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015” would prevent several hundred gun purchases by suspected terrorists each year, and it includes provisions to let people challenge a denial if they believe they were placed on the watchlist in error.

But these bills have rarely made it out of committee, in part due to vehement opposition from the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress. The NRA objected to earlier versions of the bill, saying they were “aimed primarily at law-abiding American gun owners,” that “prohibiting the possession of firearms doesn’t stop criminals from illegally acquiring them,” and that the bills were “sponsored by gun control extremists.”

The NRA doesn’t want us to know about this or talk about it. Why not?

And will we sign on to the UN Small Arms Treaty as the country that is providing the most small arms to the rest of the world? Will we do our part in stopping the terror in our own country and in the world at large? From the linked article about the gun lobby deceptions that keep the US from signing the treaty:

In 2013, after nearly a decade of effort (and opposition from the Bush administration), the U.N. adopted an Arms Trade Treaty to curtail illicit sales of war weapons, including tanks, fighter jets, warships, missiles, artillery, and small arms, chiefly to keep them out of the hands of rogue governments and militant groups. But that last category of weapons riles Second Amendment activists, who are concerned that the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is part of a secret globalist agenda to winnow away their constitutional right.

Under President Obama, American leadership helped the treaty get enough signatures to enter into force — as much force as the U.N. can muster, anyway — late last year. This week’s meetings in Mexico are when the 72 ratifying states will discuss amendments to and enforcement of the agreement. Notably, the U.S. will not be among them. It’s signed the treaty, but Congress has yet to ratify it and is unlikely to anytime soon. (…)

And it’s here that the real shenanigans begin, as the rest of the treaty text makes it clear that opponents are warping its intent to suit their own purposes. It is true that the ATT aims to keep guns (and tanks, and anti-aircraft missiles) out of the hands of “unauthorized… end users.” But contrary to the NRA’s interpretation, no one is required to provide small arms makers or their governments with specific identifying info on a gun’s ultimate owner. As the treaty now reads, exporting countries “may include end use or end user documentation” in the info they share with other treaty nations, when deemed “appropriate.” On top of that, the treaty also permits a participating country to tailor that arms-trade data “pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.” In other words, if U.S. courts see reporting “end user” information as a violation of Second Amendment rights, the U.S. won’t be able to provide that info to exporters abroad.

More importantly, guns imported to the U.S. already get registered. With very few exceptions, all firearms brought into the country have to go through a firearm dealer licensed by the ATF, and a Form 6 for the deal must be filled out in detail and filed with ATF and Customs and Border Protection. Your individual sportsman can get a special permit to directly import sporting-gun parts and ammunition for personal use — but even then, there’s a record of the importation. In all likelihood, treaty parties will treat gun stores and dealers who receive imports as the “end user” for record-keeping purposes, rather than individual customers who may buy the weapon at a point of sale months or years later.

So in a broad sense, the specter of “registration” that the NRA raises has already been the law of the land for some time. The more specific fear — that foreign governments and UN lackeys will gain lists of every Tom, Dick, and Harry who owns a Beretta — is the absurd product of scaremongering.

I suggest you read more of this article. The scare mongering and paranoia exhibited by the American gun lobby are hampering efforts to try to control the trafficking of weapons world wide that inevitably end up in the hands of terrorists.

So again I ask, what are we doing about terror in our own country and our own failures to help with anti terrorism at home and abroad?

We can actually deal with the concerns about with the terror watch list and the UN Small Arms Treaty by the way. If we can send people to the moon, we can figure this out as well. It takes resolve and common sense which sometimes we have little of.

And why do so many Americans believe the hype about guns for self defense? The guys who were involved in the shooting while having sex and while vacuuming apparently believed nothing could possibly go wrong with a gun in their own hands. I am guessing these are the same folks who are thinking that the citizens of Paris should have been armed during the terror attack. What could possibly go wrong?

The real problems cannot be swept away.  As long as the gun lobby holds sway over our politicians, the house cleaning of our weak gun laws to save lives won’t happen. Let’s dust off our reluctance to attack the problem and get to work.

I would like to add an article to my post. I like this one about how the NRA and the corporate gun lobby are actually arming criminals because of their insistence that stronger gun laws won’t work. From the article:

Through all of this, the National Rifle Association has been resolute in its mission to protect Americans’ access to guns. Their success extends far beyond protecting Second Amendment rights.

They have been so effective at limiting or weakening gun violence prevention laws that they can legitimately be accused of helping to arm many of the United States’ criminals. And while they do this they cynically claim that there are plenty of laws on the books if you just enforce them.

Before you fire off angry letters and comments, please read just a few ways how the NRA’s mission has strayed from protecting law abiding gun owner’s rights to keeping the flow of arms to crooks steady.

And then the writer gets to my point from this post:

If you were wondering how out of touch the NRA has become, think about this – they strongly oppose legislation to prohibit the sale of guns to people on the terrorist watch list. Is any comment even needed here?

We need an honest debate about gun laws and how to reduce violence, balancing the protection of Second Amendment rights with realistic measures to keep guns away from lawbreakers. But the NRA, through scare tactics, exaggeration, lying and appeal to paranoia has shown they are not capable of participating in an honest debate.

Through their tactics, they make it easy for criminals to keep getting guns. And if you support the NRA, so do you.

No further comment.

 

 

Guns and anger over holiday cups

angry SantaI’m sure you’ve all noticed that the Christmas holiday season is upon us. Last week while at the local Mall with friends, I snapped a photo of a window display with Christmas trees included with the dresses and pants. It seemed too early to me and maybe earlier than ever. I don’t know, is it? Also the muzak was blaring from the speakers playing Silent Night and other jollier Christmas tunes.

I was annoyed but not angry. I am a Christian and attend church and I do love Christmas time. But I really don’t need all of the commercial advertising and reminders. Christmas will happen with or without those things but that is not the reason we celebrate the holiday.

So isn’t it hypocrisy when some in the Christian faith get all upset when people don’t say Merry Christmas during the holidays or don’t advertise the way they want them to? Not all of us are Christians. Some Americans are Jews, some are Muslim, some are Buddhist and some are agnostic. So why does even this have to become controversial?

Now some folks are downright angry about the “holiday” design  ( or lack there-of) on the Starbucks coffee cups. Check out this response from an angry, armed Christian to the Starbucks holiday cups. Just watch the video rant of a man who thinks Starbucks wants to take Christ out of Christmas because they are not using any design on their holiday cups. The cups are red with the usual green Starbucks logo. What’s the big deal? To this man, it’s such a big deal that he shows us his gun and points out that he can carry at Starbucks stores. Oh, and further, Starbucks is against the Second Amendment because they don’t want people like him in their stores carrying guns.

Another article wonders whether Starbucks hates Jesus? What do you think? Should stores respond to this hyperbolic and paranoid nonsense? It’s all over Facebook and Twitter. Here are some of the comments, from the linked article:

“I normally like your post but not this one,” one commenter wrote. “Starbucks is trying to remain neutral and be culturally sensitive to everyone by leaving them blank. You are offended that they don’t say Merry Christmas, but Jewish people would be offended if it only said that, not Happy Hanukkah. So they are leaving them blank so they can’t offend anyone.”

“If you need a coffee chain to be your ambassador of Christ you need to re-examine your relationship w/God,” one Twitter critic wrote.

Sigh.

You may remember the controversy over open carry at Starbucks stores. In 2010, The Brady Campaign pushed Starbucks to prohibit people open carrying from coming into theirs and other stores . Over 35,000 signatures were collected from people who agreed.  More recently Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America, as mentioned in the linked article, took up the push to keep people carrying loaded guns out of Starbucks where families and people come to enjoy coffee, time together and conversation.

The discussion took a different and new turn once the video of the angry Christian displaying a gun was posted in the article I linked to above.  Is there a veiled threat that if Starbucks doesn’t change their coffee cup design, something violent will happen inside? Does anyone with common sense believe this ludicrous display of anger is legitimate?

Should we get into the satire of how many shots you want in your Latte? We have more to fear from the legal gun carriers than an armed person wishing to do harm with a gun inside of a Starbucks store. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

A Florida girl dropped a purse while trying to pay for her Starbucks order, discharging the gun in her purse. The bullet found it’s way to her friend’s leg. And here’s the corker in this article: “Beck told police her father had given her the weapon, but she forgot which purse she had left it in before going shopping, Puetz said. (…) “She was unaware she was carrying the weapon,” he said.” She was not arrested but did not have a permit to carry that gun. What’s that all about? With rights come responsibilities.

A girl who (also) had a gun in her purse ( given to her by her father for self protection) dropped the purse in a Wyoming Starbucks causing the gun to discharge. No one was hurt, luckily for her.

Before getting back to the main point of the story about holiday cups and angry guys with guns, I need to ask why fathers are giving their daughters guns to carry around in their purses?

So back to the Starbucks holiday cup controversy, I write about this only because I want to point out the nature of our gun debate. It has become more angry and ludicrous of late. It’s a concern to those of us involved in gun violence prevention. A friend wrote this blog post about how a victim of gun violence, who posted something on the 3rd anniversary of her domestic shooting, has been demeaned and harassed by the gun trolls. That has happened to me as well.

Is this the America we want or deserve? Surely we are better than this. I think we’ve had #enough of the antics of the gun extremists and those who claim their Christian faith requires a company to advertise their way or else.

What happened to Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All?