Duped by the gun lobby

Tnotrocketsciencehis is not rocket science. Stronger gun laws will save lives. There is actually proof that weak laws contribute to more gun deaths and injuries and the proliferation of firearms in America have not saved lives. Americans have been duped by the corporate gun lobby. Slight of hand tactics and slogans have confused the reality and managed to win support from elected leaders and some of the public. As a result, gun deaths have continued unabated and in some places now contribute to more deaths than auto accidents.

And all for profits and power.

This week-end, my husband and I went to see Merchants of Doubt at a local theater. It was very well done and powerful. Most people do understand that the big corporations and businesses are all about profit and keeping their political power in order to make more profits. Anything goes for some of them. The movie is about climate change and those who deny its’ existence but in order to get to that talking point, examples were given of the tobacco industry and energy companies tactics to deny the facts. From this review of the movie:

His phrasing—scientific, precise, and bloodless—perfectly illustrates Merchants Of Doubt’s central thesis. As science historian Naomi Oreskes, co-author of the book the film is based on, says, “If this is not a scientific debate, what kind of debate is it?” The answer, of course, is a political debate. And political debates are won by rhetoric and tribalism. The most illuminating passages in Merchants Of Doubt are those which illuminate the role of tribal identity in not only the global warming debate but also the rise of the Tea Party. As Skeptic magazine editor and lifelong libertarian Michael Shermer discovered when, after long doubting that global warming was real, his opinion was changed by a close examination of the overwhelming scientific evidence. When documentarians follow him to a libertarian convention where he debates a climate change skeptic, audience members attack him as with phrases like “That’s what YOUR TEAM wants us to think!”  (…) The problem with this kind of issue documentary is that it seems like preaching to the choir. No one who views their identity as a conservative in good standing is going to voluntarily watch this film, and if they’re exposed to it, they’ll just call it more lies. Indeed, the documentarians’ methodology of following the money and questioning the neutrality of so-called impartial observers naturally leads to the question, “Who’s paying for this?” Just because I agree with it—and I do, wholeheartedly—doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask hard questions of it. Merchants Of Doubt’s thesis is that slick communicators willing to use any tactics available, regardless of morality, are the ones who can win political debates. The slickness and clarity of the production means the filmmakers have taken that lesson to heart.

The movie was not about gun violence prevention or the debate about gun rights but it could have been. Some of the scientists and writers who were interviewed for the movie talked of the backlash, the harsh criticisms, the threatening comments, e-mails and phone calls they received from those on the other “team” who absolutely would not listen to anything but their own echo chamber. Even when presented with facts, if the opposition team is noisy and clever enough and has enough money to employ stealth tactics to deceive the public, big issues of our times don’t get addressed and solved; or they are solved too late for too many.

The thing is, lives depend on our getting this right. Lives depend on believing the facts and the evidence even if it means lower profits and less power for corporations and the wealthy. Lives have been saved because the truth about the risks of smoking and second hand smoke finally won out over the powerful tobacco companies. Law suits helped. The same is true for safety measures on cars and drunk driving laws. It took years of fighting against a powerful and well funded industry and some law suits.

Thus we are now at a pivotal moment for climate change. The evidence shows that if we don’t change what we are doing with energy, with water conservation, with greenhouse gases, with fuel and electrical usage, with our daily living habits, the earth will not be the same for our children and grandchildren. But the voices of denial inexplicably win the battles. They won’t win the war but it might not matter. And why does this happen? Ideology. Fear. Anger. Ignorance. Hatred for the other “team.” Loss of profits and power.

All of this can be applied to the battle over gun rights and gun safety reform. For it is a battle. It is fierce and it gets down to which team you are on. And we are at a pivotal point as gun death rates stay the same or rise. Does it matter that lives are being lost every day to firearms injuries many of which could be saved? Just like with the auto and tobacco industries, denial and outright deception too often win. Solutions are right in front of us and make so much common sense but politics stop us from saving lives.

It doesn’t work this way, at least about guns and gun rights, in other countries. Why? Common sense. Morality. Interest in public health and safety. Concern for the common good. No second amendment. No gun rights extremists. Fewer gun owners. No NRA or corporate gun lobby.

Speaking of the corporate gun lobby, the NRA convention held this past week-end in Nashville, is over. It was the usual fare only some of the rhetoric was more strident than ever. Hatred of President Obama is now turning to hatred of the now declared Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. If we think the evil and repugnant rhetoric and hatred towards President Obama was over the top, wait until the women hating, Clinton hating folks get started. It should be interesting. And the NRA will be right in the midst of the battle as evidenced by their own Wayne LaPierre’s speech at the convention.

After warning once again that Obama is going to turn America into a country that “you and I won’t recognize” (*yawn*), LaPierre switched gears towards attacking Hillary Clinton. When LaPierre suggests Clinton may be elected president, the crowd loudly boos and one person screams “Never!” LaPierre grimaces at the thought:

“I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”

“Demographically symbolic”? LaPierre just stood before tens of thousands of people and accused the president of being a token black guy. Following this logic, Hillary would be the token woman. LaPierre makes it obvious that what he wants is a return to less diverse times. The overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male crowd seems to agree, interrupting LaPierre’s speech with enthusiastic cheers.

LaPierre’s remarks are the latest bold attempt by the conservative movement to reject Obama and Clinton based solely on the fact that they are members of minority groups (in Clinton’s case, not in number of women, but in their disenfranchisement) and therefore don’t constitute a true representation of what right-wingers believes a president looks like: white, male, and donning an American flag on their lapel.

Just read this over-the-top rhetoric from gun rights extremists at the NRA convention if you don’t believe me. Sounds like the world is about to come to an end. From the linked article:

“They think that they’re better and smarter than we are, as if they’re more sophisticated and intellectually evolved than we are,” Porter said.

“When it comes to those elitists, looking down their noses and telling us how to live, it’s time they got the message loud and clear,” he said. “You elitists live however your want, but when it comes to us, get your hands off our freedom and leave us the hell alone.”

Uff da. Sounds like fighting words. Either that or total nonsense. I’ll go with the latter. Can these folks be serious? Elitists? Who are elitists? I suppose we don’t need to remind them of the huge salaries of the top executives of NRA leaders. And don’t get me started about the “intellectually evolved” statement. Do these folks really believe their own words?

Disturbing to say the least.

Here is more insight into the angry and fear mongering words at the convention.

Some reporters got in to the convention and have written about what they saw and heard. This one is a pretty good summary.

The thing is, facts matter. The claims made by the corporate gun lobby, many of the candidates for the Republican nomination who spoke at the NRA convention and the gun rights extremists who believe what they are told without checking for accuracy, are false. There is a truth out there in the real world. In the real world people in the U.S. are dying at a high rate- at an epidemic rate in fact. This article from the Washington Post fact checked the claims that America has a higher gun death rate than most other “civilized” countries.  From the article:

Post foreign affairs blogger Max Fisher concluded, “The U.S. gun murder rate isabout 20 times the average for all other countries on this chart. That means that Americans are 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country.”

A related fact-check from PolitiFact examined a 2011 study by researchers of the Harvard School of Public Health and UCLA School of Public Health. Their findings, while based on data for 23 high-income, populous countries from the World Health Organization now almost a decade old (2003), mirror more recent trends.

The United States, they found, has more firearms per capita, the most permissive gun control laws and a disproportionate amount of firearm-related deaths from homicides, suicides and accidents.

“The United States had a homicide rate 6.9 times higher than those in the other high-income countries, driven by a firearm homicide rate that was 19.5 times higher than those in the other high-income countries,” the report says. “For 15 year olds to 24 year olds, the firearm homicide rate in the United States was 42.7 times higher than in the other countries.”

This is stunning. Of course, it’s been stunning for many years now but we continue along this path without taking action to change it. If we want to know why, we can refer back to what has just happened at the NRA convention in Nashville. There they continued with the push for more guns for everyone everywhere because, of course, more guns make us all safer. The article I have linked is based on studies and collections of data that show the exact opposite. What’s the problem here?

Profits. The gun industry is a large industry and needs to profit, like other industries. So back to where I started. One team wants to save lives and prevent gun violence that is so devastating to so many all over America. The other team wants what they think they have always had and deserve and facts don’t matter. If they had not been duped, they would realize that a simple thing like background checks on all gun sales would actually strengthen the second amendment. If that wasn’t the case, why did the leaders and organizers of the NRA convention insist that any firearms purchased on the convention floor be sent to the closest licensed dealer so the buyer could go through a background check?

To avoid reality and the facts about gun deaths, the gun lobby has their slick talking points that don’t get questioned as often as they should. If they were, we would find that they are not based on facts. Does it matter? When you are playing for the gun rights team, slick talking points replace a serious conversation based on facts. Here are just a few of those talking points:

  • Just enforce the laws already on the books-meant to distract from the fact that gun laws have actually been weakened and it’s difficult to enforce trafficking laws when one state makes it easy for felons and domestic abusers to bring guns into a state where it’s harder. The number 20,000 existing gun laws is thrown around. If we check with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence which researches gun laws, we can see that that really can’t be true. I also was directed recently to a fact check article about this number, 20,000, that is used by gun extremists. Check it out for yourself and you will see that the number cannot be verified. So don’t be duped.
  • More guns make mean less crime. This is a much used phrase that is not based on fact. An old discredited study by gun rights activist John Lott has been used to get conceal carry laws passed all over America. Don’t be duped.
  • Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. This, of course, is simply not true and can’t be proved but it’s out there as some sort of “fact” that needs to be challenged. It’s a myth. Check it out from the link. Don’t be duped.
  • If we pass reasonable gun laws, only criminals will get guns and law abiding citizens will be punished. This one begs credulity because requiring background checks on all gun sales, for example, will stop the “bad guys” from getting guns without stopping any law abiding citizen from getting a gun. If this were true, why did those who ordered a gun from one of the displays at the NRA convention have to get a background check at the nearest licensed dealer to their home? Because they were following state and federal laws. Hmmmm. If only the laws required this for every gun sale.
  • Universal background checks will lead to gun registration. No, not true. In the 20 years of the Brady law’s existence, this has not happened and it won’t.
  • Guns make us safer. Another myth. If guns stopped gun violence and made us safer, why do we continue to have the highest rate of gun deaths per capita in the civilized world?

There are more but I think my point has been made.

America, we’ve been duped. Let’s stop the game playing. There should be only one team here because there is only one right answer- preventing death and saving lives through common sense laws and gun safety reform. Gun safety reform and gun rights are not mutually exclusive.

No guns allowed at NRA convention and other gun hypocrisy

insincere politician and NRA folks

I have updated and edited this post since I first posted it.

Easter is now past and Passover is being celebrated this week. I attended a wonderful church service at a church attended by my son and his family before we had Easter brunch. It was an uplifting, celebratory service in a church filled to the brim as they often are at this Christian holiday. The pastors told several relevant stories of the season based on the Biblical accounts of the resurrection. I looked around at the families and was feeling thankful for this chance to celebrate my own faith with others who believe in similar values to mine.

I would have been horrified to think that one of those folks sitting there with their families was carrying a gun at the church. There are just some places where guns should not be. Church is one. Places where families and children gather are another. And that, actually, makes for most places where the gun lobby has managed to convince too many bought and paid for legislators that guns are “needed.” Facts don’t support this “logic.” But the gun rights advocates tell stories that don’t make sense and are actually unbelievable to instill fear and paranoia into legislators and the potential gun buying public. We need true stories and actual research in order to make informed decisions about important public safety measures such as preventing gun violence.

Before the gun lobby squelched research about the causes and effects of gun violence, here is what was found:

We were collecting information to answer the question of who, what, where, when, and how did shootings occur?

We were finding that most homicides occur between people who know each other, people who are acquaintances or might be doing business together or might be living together. They’re not stranger-on-stranger shootings. They’re not mostly home intrusions.

We also found that there were a lot of firearm suicides, and in fact most firearm deaths are suicides. There were a lot of young people who were impulsive who were using guns to commit suicide.

No wonder the gun lobby doesn’t like this research. It blows a hole in their messaging and story telling.

Let’s look at just a few of the many incidents in the past week or so. It’s impossible for me to get them all into one blog post. Remember- about 80 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries in gun suicides, homicides and “accidental” shootings. I don’t make this stuff up. OK- a partial list:

4 are dead in a Tulsa, OK domestic shooting- a murder/suicide. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?

A Georgia woman fired shots at her son in an argument. Accidental? Hmmm. Good women with a gun or bad woman with a gun?

“Someone” fired a gun off in an Indiana apartment sending a bullet through the floor into the apartment below. The bullet just missed the resident in the apartment below. Lucky for the person who fired the shot off. Lucky for the man sitting on his couch minding his own business. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?

A Wisconsin man with a Utah concealed carry permit fired shots at a police officer in Nashville, Tennessee the other day. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?

Also in Wisconsin, a gun permit holder has twice left her loaded gun in the washroom of her church and not been charged for reckless behavior. I love this quote from the article:

Grieve also represented Hitchler’s husband, Gerald Hitchler. He left his loaded handgun in the men’s room of the Egg Harbor Fun Park in August. Sheriff’s officials and prosecutors reviewed the incident, but did not charge Gerald Hitchler.

Nik Clark, president of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., a gun rights advocacy group,  said his group was puzzled why the DA’s office “didn’t re-examine their pursuit of charges after the first charge was dismissed.”

He also said the case “demonstrates the fundamental level of discrimination that exists in society today with respect to firearms.”  He said power tools, lighters and poisons all cause more child deaths that unattended guns, yet no one would be charged for leaving those items in a restroom.

Good grief. What is the matter with these people? Are these good folks with guns or bad folks with guns?

Here, now, is an actual bad guy with a gun who allowed access to a gun he shouldn’t have to a 2 year old who shot and badly injured himself in a North Carolina home. This one is a case for “where did he get his gun?” This is a totally avoidable and preventable shooting. And another family is affected by the devastation of gunshot injuries and this incident can be added to the many others involving child access to loaded guns provided by adults.

This is getting long but I’m adding another shooting that just came to my attention. A supposed New York”good guy” with a gun shot his wife, her son and himself because he felt disrespected. That’s a good reason to kill 3 people, right? This doesn’t happen with knives, ropes, or some other methods of death. It’s all too easy with a gun.

And oops- one more. In Georgia a “good guy” with a gun thought he heard a coyote and fired his gun ( he said “accidentally”) but the bullet grazed a 5 year old boy. Is this a “good guy” or a “bad guy”? I’m just asking.

A Pennsylvania man was “test firing” a gun in the basement of his home where kids were gathered. A bullet “accidentally” discharged, hitting a 9 year old in the head leaving him in serious condition. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?

What kind of “good guys” with guns are these? Or for that matter, any of the incidents I write about in this post today. Did these “good guys” need their guns to defend from “bad guys” with guns? The answer is a resounding NO. Guns are risky business. That is becoming more and more obvious, as if it already was not. But the gun rights extremists who believe in the mantra of “more guns everywhere for everyone” and the fear and paranoia coming from the corporate gun lobby, convince our legislators that passing any law will infringe on their rights. They are telling false stories to keep their power, influence and profit. Do these folks have a right to shoot off their guns wherever they are and get away with shooting someone else or almost shooting someone else by their negligence? Is this the “God given” right we are talking about?

I want to talk about what’s going on in the world of guns and gun extremists. The one that’s making the rounds amongst the gun violence prevention folks on blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds is a quote from a Tennessee legislator when asked what he thought about a bill to allow loaded guns in parks:

Well, in Tennessee there’s currently a push by the state legislature to allow guns in state parks. Prior to an NRA convention in Nashville, state Rep. Glen Casada was questioned about this push in his state and what he would think about a child being struck and killed by a stray bullet while playing in one of these parks. His answer? If that were to happen, those would just be “acts of God.” He also went on to suggest that a child is just as likely to get killed in a bicycle accident as they are by a gun, claiming that if a gun is “used properly” it’s no more dangerous than a bike.

“Acts of God…” Really? I guess if you can’t blame anything else, you can just blame God for those nasty “accidental gun discharges.” I mean, these are the folks who believe God granted them their rights to own guns in the first place. Think about this for a minute or two. And if you do, you will, of course, conclude that is not possible. But I guess thinking through to logical conclusions based on fact is just not part of the discussion for some folks.

Speaking of “acts of God”and gun discharges, a gun permit holder in Altoona, PA “accidentally” discharged his loaded gun while attending a church service. I don’t make this stuff up. The first question about this incident is why the man was pulling his gun out of his pocket while attending a mass in a church? I’m sure God would love to know that people think they need guns while worshiping because……… well, because……… Hmmm. Sorry. Can’t think of one reason why someone needs a gun in church. But what makes common sense is just not part of the discussion for some folks. Good guy with a gun or bad guy with a gun?

There is new information about the man who was involved in this incident. From this article:

The gun owner involved in an accidental shooting at a cathedral in Altoona is the same man who was expelled from Mount Aloysius College last week for bringing a gun inside a classroom. Charges were not filed in the Mount Aloysius incident, and charges have not been filed in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament incident, so 6 News is choosing not to release the man’s name. (…) That man reached out to 6 News and said he has a permit to carry and said the incident at the cathedral was an accident. He also confirmed he was the Mount Aloysius student who was expelled for bringing a gun into a classroom. The man said in this case, his shirt rode up, exposing his concealed weapon, and it was just an honest mistake. Police said he will not face charges for the Mount Aloysius incident, and there is no word yet if he will be facing charges in the church incident.

Excuse me, but, as Rachel Maddow says, “bullpucky”.

Were the people who died, were injured or suffered a narrow miss with a bullet involved in “acts of God”? Because if they were, according to some folks who boldly and falsely make this claim, there is nothing we can do about any of these shootings. And that, dear readers, is exactly what the gun lobby wants you to think. Doing nothing is better than infringing on their “God given” rights. People dying? No problem. It’s the price of a constitutional right. It’s also the price of a gun culture gone wrong.

As you might expect, the bishop of the Pennsylvania church has spoken out against guns in his churches. From the article:

“Many people understandably have questions about what would prompt an individual to carry a gun into the Cathedral,” Bishop Bartchak said in a statement released Monday by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. “I would like to take this opportunity to state my firm belief that guns have no place in our Cathedral or any of the other parishes in our Diocese. Our churches must be an environment in which all feel safe to worhip the Lord and celebrate our Catholic faith.”

Amen to that. This is just common sense.

We’ve got it wrong in America. We’ve got it backwards. Gun rights are not inalienable. Gun rights come with responsibilities. People who own guns need to be trained and safely secure them from kids and others who should not have them. They should have to go through a background check for every sale to make sure they are “law abiding” citizens. Just like we require training, licensing and background checks for most every other thing going on in our country, guns and their owners or prospective owners should be no different. Do we want to trust our kids at a daycare to just anyone- a felon maybe or a domestic abuser or sexual predator? You know the answer. Background checks are required. Do you trust your financial advisor or accountant with your money and personal financial information? Do you expect that person to be free of a criminal background? Of course you do. Do you expect that people who drive on the same roads as you do to have a license and have had driver’s training? You know the answer. Do you expect the people who teach your kids to be properly vetted and licensed in their field? Do you expect law enforcement officers to be well trained in handling firearms and for the job they do every day to protect us and enforce the laws? Do you expect your lawyer to be trained and not to be felons or sexual predators?


In other gun hypocrisy, the NRA convention is coming up this month in Nashville:

A multilevel security plan went into works not long after Nashville was chosen as the convention destination. All guns on the convention floor will be nonoperational, with the firing pins removed, and any guns purchased during the NRA convention will have to be picked up at a Federal Firearms License dealer, near where the purchaser lives, and will require a legal identification.

This organization is pushing guns at the rest of us in places where we hang out to shop, learn, eat, work and play ( playgrounds, parks, etc.) but not in their own convention? Come on. I don’t make this stuff up. What are they so afraid of? I thought they loved their guns and loved to carry them around with them everywhere they go. Is it that they aren’t afraid of other people like themselves? Is it that they actually understand that if a whole bunch of gun carriers are walking around in one place, safety will be compromised? It is because someone might get angry at one of the many “illustrious” speakers like Sarah Palin, Jeb Bush, Mike Pence, and others and take a shot? Or what is it? I’d love to know. In addition, they are telling people they will have to pass a background check in order to buy/order guns at the convention and pick them up at a federally licensed firearms dealer near their home. Really? I thought that was terribly inconvenient for these folks.

Hypocrisy as far as the eye can see. There is absolutely no common sense when it comes to the gun lobby’s safety policies for themselves and their total resistance to the same for the rest of us. In fact, there are no loaded guns allowed at gun shows. Occasionally an “accidental” discharge occurs in spite of this safety measure. Like here or this oneDid you know that guns are not allowed for visitors to the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia? Yes, it’s true. Who don’t they trust? Staff can carry but anyone else, no. So this organization pushes for visitors to schools, malls, hospitals, college campuses, state legislatures. national parks, etc. to carry guns but at their own headquarters? Nope. From the article:

 She told me that the security guards at the front desk were unarmed, but that visitors were not allowed to bring weapons into the building (except to their posh firing range, which has a separate entrance).  Doesn’t that leave the visitors at a bit of an disadvantage, I asked, and we had a bit of a chuckle about that.  I was too chicken to ask her whether that policy was inconsistent with the NRA’s present philosophy that seems to encourage shoot-outs.

So there you have it.  The NRA staff is armed, while visitors are disarmed.

Well, There you have it. People are being shot every day by “law abiding” citizens intentionally or unintentionally and the NRA claims that more guns make us safer. And then they don’t allow guns in their convention or at their own headquarters.

Let’s look at one of the most hypocritic of quotes from Mr. Wayne LaPierre of the NRA made after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Below is a video of this now famous speech:

This Facebook page (Parents Against Gun Violence) is keeping tracks of the shootings every month and the reasons for the shootings. Please read (below)and then raise your hand if you agree with Mr. LaPierre ( above) that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”:

REasons why shot

On the Facebook page you can see links to the actual stories about these incidents. No one made them up. So there you have it. The hypocrisy of the corporate gun lobby and the gun rights extremists is “alive” and well. Meanwhile, too many Americans are not alive thanks to gunshot injuries or are suffering the long term affects from gunshot injuries while the gun lobby opposes any and all measures to reduce the carnage. It’s well past time to do something about this national public health and safety epidemic. Please join me in efforts to keep our communities safe from devastating gun violence.

In memory of Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady
This photo is from the Brady Campaign.

America lost a treasure yesterday with the death of Sarah Brady. She was a courageous woman who was tough and persistent while at the same time caring and a true friend to those who knew her. From this article:

“In the history of our nation, there are few people, if any, who are directly responsible for saving as many lives as Sarah and Jim,” Brady Campaign and Center President Dan Gross said in a statement.

Brady became a gun control activist after her husband, White House press secretary James Brady, was shot in the head during an assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

James Brady died in August of last year.

The Brady Campaign says the legislation Sarah Brady championed after James Brady’s shooting has prevented the sale of more than 2.4 million firearms “to criminals and other dangerous people.”

At the 1996 Democratic convention in Chicago, Sarah Brady was invited to speak because in the preceding term President Bill Clinton had signed the Brady bill. Brady called that moment “the proudest moment of our lives,” but she also called for continued work on gun control.

“This battle is not about guns; it’s about families, it’s about children, it’s about our future,” Brady said. “You can’t have stronger families without safer children. The gun lobby likes to say that Jim and I are trying to take guns away from hunters and sportsmen. The gun lobby is wrong. To the hunters and sportsmen of America we say, keep your guns. But just give us the laws that we need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and out of the hands of children.”

Her advice to those who knew her was that we should never give up. She and her husband Jim who died last year after living with the consequences of his shooting in 1981, never gave up in their fight to get the Brady Law enacted. Because of their efforts, lives have been saved. There is no question that stopping people who shouldn’t have guns at one of the points of sale will also make it harder for those people to get guns to use in crime and shootings. Since the law was enacted about 2 million gun sales have been stopped when prohibited people have attempted to buy guns at federally licensed gun dealers.

But we have not yet finished the job started by Sarah and Jim Brady. Until we require background checks for all gun sales, we will be allowing felons, domestic abusers and adjudicated mentally ill people (and others) to legally purchase guns they should not have. There are markets for guns through private sellers at gun shows, on the Internet and other venues who don’t require background checks on buyers. The American public knows this and agrees that background checks on all guns sales are a very good idea for public safety. Sarah understood this well and worked until the end of her life on efforts to expand Brady background checks to all gun sales.

Sarah was not afraid of the gun lobby. Gun violence prevention advocates are not afraid of the gun lobby. It’s our elected leaders who are so afraid of the corporate gun lobby that they give in to their false claims that background checks on all gun sales will only affect law abiding citizens and inevitably lead to gun registration. In the 20 years that Brady background checks have been in existence there has been no gun registration. But never mind the facts.

This is backwards logic but the gun lobby gets away with this talking point with our leaders. Not so with the public who can understand that if you are a legal buyer, a background check won’t affect you. Legal buyers go through background checks every day to purchase guns from licensed gun dealers and are barely inconvenienced as a result. It will be those who should not have guns who will suffer from the inconvenience of being turned away by a seller. And that inconvenience may just stop a shooting. The inconvenience of burying a loved one after a shooting is an actual inconvenience. The other one is fabricated by a group whose getting their way means profit, power and influence.

Sarah and Jim Brady knew that inconvenience well. Their life changed in the instant the bullet hit Jim’s head in 1981. An armed man who shouldn’t have had a gun shot that bullet that killed one and injured not only Brady but President Reagan. This happened in spite of armed security and police at the scene lending the lie to the NRA’s ridiculous statement that only good guys can stop bad guys with guns.

Jim Brady lived with the paralysis and other problems that come from a head injury from a bullet. Bullets do serious damage to body tissue and organs. Jim Brady’s sense of humor, though, was not lost in the shooting but as his life progressed, it was difficult to understand his speech. He, along with Sarah, were relentless in their cause to keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have them. Sarah was his loving partner and his legs in her visits to the U.S. Capitol to get the Brady law passed.

After the Million Mom March in 2000, Sarah Brady recognized the value of grassroots organizing and advocates in states all over America. The Million Mom March merged with Handgun Control, Inc. in 2001 to form the now Brady Campaign/Center and Sarah continued working with chapter members all over the country on gun violence prevention measures. In the 15th year of the Million Mom March, chapter leaders and members will not only continue the work begun by Sarah and Jim Brady but will renew our efforts to change the conversation about guns and expand Brady background checks. In Sarah’s memory, we are energized to get the job done.

I had opportunities to work with Sarah and knew of her intellect and her well thought out remarks about gun violence prevention. She was wise and listened well. She was also feisty and fought for what was right if she thought someone was doing the wrong thing. Sarah was also charming and opened up her life to other advocates, making them her friends immediately.

Sarah Brady will be missed by many. Her dreams of finishing the job will not die because she did. Those of us who knew her and those who didn’t will continue in our efforts on her behalf and in her memory. Sarah knew what common sense was all about. To her it meant that gun laws can co-exist with gun ownership and gun rights. In fact, she and Jim came at the issue from the side of protecting their young son from a gun to which he was accidentally exposed by a friend. She grew up in a home with guns but when her young son found a gun in the truck of a friend, she realized that something had to change. She knew that gun safety reform was about children and families.

Here is the official statement from the Brady Campaign about Sarah Brady’s death:

“All of us at the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence are heartbroken over the passing of Sarah Brady. Together with her husband Jim ‘Bear’ Brady, Sarah was the heart and soul of this organization and the successful movement it has become today. In the history of our nation, there are few people, if any, who are directly responsible for saving as many lives as Sarah and Jim. There are countless people walking around today who would not be were it not for Sarah Brady’s remarkable resilience, compassion and – what she always said she enjoyed the most – her hard work in the trenches with this organization, which she continued right up to the very end.

“Sarah and Jim are responsible for the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (the ‘Brady Law’) which has prevented more than 2.4 million sales of firearms to criminals and other dangerous people and remains, by far, the most significant achievement in the history of the gun violence prevention movement. Our nation has lost a great hero, and I have lost a dear friend. I am certain that she would want nothing more than to know we are carrying on her and Jim’s legacy with the same fiery compassion and dedication that made her so remarkable.”

The Brady Campaign/Center are named for Jim Brady and will continue to work in their name to keep our communities safe from gun violence and to change the conversation about the risks of guns. We mourn the loss of a great woman who has left behind an amazing legacy for the rest of us. She was a mentor and role model to many and we loved her for her kindness but also her fierce advocacy.