Constant carnage

PrintI must give credit to my friend Kandi for this phrase. She messaged me about a toddler shot and injured in St. Cloud, Minnesota. What the heck? A toddler. But yes, constant carnage and it’s just another day.

From the article:

 

Through investigation, police say it appears the shooting was accidental due to negligent storage of a firearm. Authorities said they believe the child accidentally shot himself with a loaded firearm that was within his reach. The boy is still hospitalized in stable condition.

Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult. This adult had a felony conviction on his record. He can’t own guns legally. But he had one anyway and allowed access to it by his toddler child.

Just another day in America.

Where is common sense?

Toddlers cannot be responsible enough to handle guns, period. (see story above) In my neighboring state of Wisconsin ( I can see it from my windows) toddlers can now hunt. What could possibly go wrong?

In Northern California, a gunman shot up people at 7 crime scenes, ending at an elementary school, where he injured 2 children. At the end of this spree ( mass) shooting, 5 were dead and 10 injured. It barely made the news. Why? Maybe because only 4 died?

From the article:

“I really don’t know what his motive was,” Mr. Johnston said. “I think he was just on a rampage. I think he had a desire to kill as many people as he could.” (…)

Mr. Johnston said that investigators had reviewed video from the school’s security system that showed the gunman walking the hallways and entering a restroom, but appearing to get frustrated that the classroom doors were locked.

The school went on lockdown at the sound of gunfire, Mr. Johnston said.

“We would have had a horrific blood bath in that school if that school hadn’t taken the action when they did,” he said.

The alarming thing here is that the man manufactured his own assault weapons at home. How? Here’s how:

The AK-47, perhaps the world’s best-known gun, is so easy to make and so hard to break that the Soviet-designed original has spawned countless variants, updated and modified versions churned out by factories all over the globe. Although US customs laws ban importing the weapons, parts kits—which include most original components of a Kalashnikov variant—are legal. So is reassembling them, as long as no more than 10 foreign-made components are used and they are mounted on a new receiver, the box-shaped central frame that holds the gun’s key mechanics. There are no fussy irritations like, say, passing a background check to buy a kit. And because we’re assembling the guns for our own “personal use,” whatever that may entail, we’re not required to stamp in serial numbers. These rifles are totally untraceable, and even under California’s stringent assault weapons ban, that’s perfectly within the law.

This is lunacy. Time to pass laws to make this illegal.

The shooting in California started with a shooting of the man’s wife. Too often mass shootings are the result of domestic violence that lead to anger and the shooter takes it out on innocent Americans.

And to make matters even more ridiculous, our very own President tweeted condolences to the wrong community after the shooting in California. Either there are so many mass shootings of late that he can’t keep track of them or he is being his usual uninformed and hopelessly unprepared for his job. From the article:

Mr. Trump’s Twitter response, which has since been deleted from his account but is timestamped at 11:34 p.m. on November 14, mentioned another mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which occurred on November 5, killing 26 people and injuring 20 more.

“May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and Law Enforcement has arrived,” Mr. Trump wrote in the tweet, offering thoughts and prayers to the wrong town.

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I thought that his tweets were part of the official Presidential record. Can he delete these lies and misinformation? That is a huge problem right now. The misinformation about shootings and gun policy are ubiquitous in the public sphere. Just take for example the usual talking point from the far right extremists that since California is a liberal state with strong gun laws, how does a shooting like this happen? Remember that the shooter made his own guns. And further, many of the guns used in crimes in California come from other states where gun laws are much weaker. In spite of that, California’s gun death rate is lower than in most other states.

But never mind the facts. And these are the folks, and the President, who love to accuse others of #fakenews. The hypocrisy is hard to stomach.

We have passed laws to keep guns away from domestic abusers but there are ways to get around it and there are too many loopholes that allow these angry folks to buy ( or manufacture) guns anyway. Too often someone in their lives know that they are potentially dangerous with guns. We could pass Gun Violence Protection Orders to make it harder for them to have guns. Will we?

We could save lives and prevent shootings.

On the political front, we will have 2 new Democratic governors who spoke openly about their support for gun violence prevention measures. And they won- not by a small margin. Talking about guns works. The public found that issue to be one of their top issues. Finally.

No need to be afraid to talk about gun violence. How can it be avoided when the constant carnage is killing so many people that soon enough all of us will know someone who has been shot.

We can actually do something about all of this. The public does understand that which is why they voted for candidates who spoke out about solutions. As a public health issue, gun violence needs a cure. The American Medical Association is becoming more concerned about deaths and injuries due to gunshots as well they should. In a new article, the Journal of the American Medical Association writes that physicians should treat gun violence like a public health problem and look for the cause of it like in other illnesses:

Guns kill people. More background checks; more hotel, school, and venue security; more restrictions on the number and types of guns that individuals can own; and development of “smart guns” may help decrease firearm violence. But the key to reducing firearm deaths in the United States is to understand and reduce exposure to the cause, just like in any epidemic, and in this case that is guns.

The constant gushing of gun deaths has hollowed out a huge hole in America. Every day, toddlers shot with a gun found in the home. Every day, women killed by abusers. Every day, guns used in suicides. Every day, every day, every day, every day………..

This column by conservative columnist David Frum opines on actions taken in America after all of the mass shootings. It is not what you would think is common sense:

So it’s not at all true that “nothing changes.” In fact, a remarkable research paper published in 2016 by Harvard’s Michael Luca, Deepak Malhotra, and Christopher Poliquin found that between 1989 and 2014, the most probable policy response to a mass shooting was a loosening of gun laws. (…)

This may explain why gun advocates insist that the immediate aftermath of a spectacular massacre is “too soon” for the gun discussion. They want the pain and grief and fear to ebb. They want ordinary citizens to look away. Then, when things are quiet, the gun advocates will go to work, to bring more guns to places where alcohol is served, where children are cared for, where students are taught, where God is worshipped. More killings bring more guns. More guns do more killing. It’s a cycle the nation has endured for a long time, and there is little reason to hope that the atrocity in Las Vegas will check or reverse it.

Ordinary citizens cannot look away. They must be noisy and insistent that our gun laws are strengthened, not loosened.

This is a moment in time that can make a difference. The constant carnage is digging a deep hole in our collective memories and day to day lives. Stay constant in the demands to act to prevent gun deaths and injuries.

And to our elected leaders, we must demand that they represent the vast majority of Americans ( almost 100%!) who support requiring Brady background checks on all gun sales and strongly support many other common sense measures to end the carnage. This Quinnipiac poll is stunning in that it reveals the truth about how our leaders have failed us:

That marks the highest level of support since Quinnipiac first asked the question in February 2013 in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead.

Let’s get to work and do what almost all Americans know is the right thing to do.

The corporate gun lobby should not be calling the “shots”.

As I write this,  Senators Chris Murphy and John Cornyn are working on a bill that would fix some of the problems in our background check system that allowed the shooter at the Texas church to get a gun he shouldn’t have had. I’m all for it.It’s a fix around the margins but it’s a fix. It’s so interesting that when a shooting happens in a Senator’s state, he/she is under pressure to act ( Senator John Cornyn). Wouldn’t it be great if all Senators wanted to act whether the shooting happened in their state or another of our 50 states because they do, of course.

The constant carnage is killing us.

Remembering my sister- victim of gun violence

photo of Barbara(I have edited this post at the encouragement of a reader and also to mention a mass shooting that occurred on this day as well.)

23 years ago today, my sister, Barbara Lund, was shot and killed by her estranged husband during difficult and protracted divorce proceedings. Actually the family learned about the shooting on August 6th after the bodies of my sister and her friend, Kevin, laid in the house of the shooter for 24 hours before he admitted to what he had done to his lawyer.

Barbara was vivacious, beautiful, adventurous, a loving mother, sports minded, an artist, a pilot, and many other things. She was loved by many and made an impact on those who knew her. I admired her and loved her deeply. When she was around, life was never dull.

The memories never go away but over time, the pain becomes weaker. The hole left by her death is one we live around. Her name is mentioned less. But we can see some of her in her grandchildren, who she never met. We can laugh about happy memories. We remember the last time we all saw her. We try not to think about the phone calls and the immediate aftermath of her shooting. We try not to remember the media coverage and how awful it all was at the time. And most of all, I try not to remember the phone call we had to make to my mother who was at her cabin tucked far away on the scenic Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota.

Many of us have these memories and the pain and the grief. Little things remind us of our loved one or our friend. That can be both good and bad. In July, my sister’s birthday passed us by with little notice but it was always close to my own July birthday.

Over the years, I have met the loved ones of many other people whose memories are strong and painful. There are too many of us. I see and hear their pain and we hug and share our grief.

And we share our resolve to work hard so that other families won’t go through what we all go through. But we are met with strong resistance from a corporate gun lobby who don’t share our pain or our grief. They share in their profits and their way of life that includes having lots of guns and their false belief that the second amendment is under some sort of attack. The gun lobby tells them this. Right wing extremists tell them this. They tell them we are coming for their guns. They tell them Hillary Clinton will take away the second amendment ( which can’t be done without a constitutional amendment to do so).  They tell them their rights will be taken with any common sense measure to keep people from being shot.

It makes no sense. None of it.

Today I read that gun rights extremists won’t adhere to the new California laws passed there requiring registration of assault rifles and restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines sold. They won’t follow the laws on the books. California’s gun death rate is low compared to other states. We don’t have to guess why.

Long Rails Textured

I am leaving for a vacation on a train trip with my family tomorrow. We will board the train in St. Paul and travel to Glacier Park through North Dakota and Montana. And then, after some days at Glacier enjoying the park we will again board the plane for Seattle where we will spend some time before flying home to Minnesota.

 

As I always do when I travel, I explore gun laws in the places we visit. Let’s look at North Dakota first.  From the link ( Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence):

North Dakota does not:

Now let’s look at the gun death rate in North Dakota:

In 2013, North Dakota had the 24th highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. This represents a significant increase from its position as the state with the 33rd highest gun death rate in 2010. North Dakota had the 35th highest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2009–meaning that crime guns originally sold in North Dakota were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 35th highest rate among the states.

Not so good.

Now for Montana ( also from the Law Center):

Among other things, Montana does not:

And as for gun death rates:

In 2013, Montana had the 5th highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. Montana also had the 14th highest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2009–meaning that crime guns originally sold in Montana were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 14th highest rate per capita among the states.

Gun suicides are high in Montana:

Suicide is the leading cause of gun-related deaths across the country in recent years. Of the 33,636 firearm deaths in 2013, more than 21,000 were suicides. In fact, suicide accounted for more than half of gun-related deaths in all but one state with the most gun violence. In three states — Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming — suicide accounted for more than 80% of all firearm deaths.

It turns out that the suicide gun death rate in Montana places it in the top 20 states for gun death rates.

At the request of a commenter, I am including Idaho gun law and death information. Our train will also travel through a small area of Idaho on the way to Glacier National Park. Here it is ( from the Law Center):

Idaho does not:

As to gun death rates in Idaho:

In 2013, Idaho had the 14th highest rate of gun deaths per capita among the states. 227 Idahoans died from firearm-related injuries in Idaho that year. Additionally, according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in 2009, Idaho supplied the 18th highest number of crime guns to other states per capita, and the state exports more than twice as many crime guns as it imports.

And finally, the state of Washington (from the Law Center again) where a referendum changed the laws there (by 60% approval)to require background checks on all gun sales. From the first link:

Among other things, Washington:

  • Requires a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between private parties;
  • Requires firearm dealers to obtain a state license, and imposes a background check on all dealer employees;
  • Prohibits certain domestic violence misdemeanants and persons subject to a domestic violence order of protection from purchasing or possessing any firearms; and
  • Requires that all firearms dealers have a state license in order to transfer ammunition.

Gun death rates are lower in Washington:

In 2013, Washington had the 11th lowest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. Washington had the 17th lowest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2009–meaning that crime guns originally sold in Washington were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 17th lowest rate among the states.

Gun laws matter.

In states that require background checks on all gun sales, there are fewer gun homicides, fewer domestic shooting deaths and less gun crime.

Facts matter. Laws matter.

I want to point out that today is also the 4th anniversary of the heinous hate crime that occurred at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin:

On August 5, 2012, a massacre took place at the gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where 40-year-old Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others.[3][4] Page committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after he was shot in the stomach by a responding police officer.

Page was an American white supremacist and Army veteran from Cudahy, Wisconsin. Apart from the shooter, all of the dead were members of theSikh faith.

We have continued to endure mass shootings like this one all over America without doing a thing to stop them. The families of those shot at the Sikh Temple have told their stories. I have heard them. Stories matter. That is why I tell my story and why so many of us who have lost loved ones tell our stories. For if our leaders can’t look at our photos and hear our stories and still refuse to pass stronger gun laws, then who are we as a nation? Who are we if we don’t do whatever we can to stop and prevent devastating gun violence in our families and our communities.

Life goes on for those of us who have lost someone to bullets. It goes on in a different way. I can write about my sister’s death without crying now. I can take trips with my family and not think about her. But gun violence doesn’t take a trip or a vacation. In the 10 days I will be traveling, 900 people will die due to bullets.

We are better than this. Our gun laws have gone “off the rails” thanks to a corporate gun lobby more interested in making profits than in saving lives. There is no excuse for this. We need to get back on track and do the right thing. By the right thing, I mean to change laws, change the conversation, change the culture where we can and stop people from being shot. All of this can be done without taking away the rights of law abiding gun owners.

My purpose is to keep the attention on gun violence and urge support for reasonable measures to prevent families from losing someone in a very sudden and violent death, often avoidable. If we do the right thing, we can lessen the impact of gun violence on more families. We can hear fewer stories and keep our children and families safer.

Let’s get to work in the name of my sister and the other victims. That is the least we can do.

Memorial Day and remembering Isla Vista victims and gun violence victims

the memoriesIt’s Memorial Day week-end. We all know that this holiday is meant to remember our fallen military members and also to those now serving. We have a lot of people to remember given the American war victims. Let us all also remember the victims of gun violence on this day of patriotism. It is our patriotic duty to do all we can to prevent more victims of gunshot injuries. The bodies are piling up with numbers of dead increasing in recent years.:

Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Firearms killed 32,251 people in the United States in 2011, the most recent yearfor which the Centers for Disease Control has data.

But this year gun deaths are expected to surpass car deaths. That’s according to a Center for American Progress report, which cites CDC data that shows guns will kill more Americans under 25 than cars in 2015. Already more than a quarter of the teenagers—15 years old and up—who die of injuries in the United States are killed in gun-related incidents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This is stunning information. Will we remember it when we remember others this Memorial Day?

I will remember my father who served in World War ll. I will honor by brother who served in Viet Nam and now has PTSD and other related illnesses. And I want us also to remember that more people have died from gunshot injuries since 1968, the year of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, than all Americans who have died serving our country since the Revolutionary War. We need a national day of remembrance for those victims as well. Everytown is promoting that we hold June 2nd as that day starting this year. Other gun violence prevention organizations will join in this day of remembrance.

So let’s start by remembering a shooting that took place one year ago. It’s been a year since a young mentally ill man got himself a gun and shot up a bunch of people at the Isla Vista campus. Just as with most mass shooters, the young man who took so many lives one year ago knew what he was doing when he bought his guns and ammunition. From this article by Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center:

Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, states: “The tragedy in Isla Vista is just the latest example of the human price paid on a daily basis for an unregulated gun industry that has embraced ever-increasing lethality as the way to make a profit. The gun industry is marketing weapons originally designed for military and law enforcement to the civilian population. Its financial beneficiaries in the NRA then fight to stop any and all effective gun violence prevention policies. The rest of us are caught in the crossfire when these weapons are used in mass shootings.”

Key facts on the guns used in Isla Vista:

  • The Austrian Glock 34 pistol has an extended barrel for greater accuracy. Glock pistols are frequently used by mass shooters, as explained in this 2011 VPC backgrounder The Glock Pistol: A Favorite of Mass Shooters.
  • Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista shooter, wrote in his manifesto: “I had already done some research on handguns, and I decided to purchase the Glock 34 semiautomatic pistol, an efficient and highly accurate weapon. I signed all of the papers and was told that my pickup day was in mid-December.”
  • The shooter also owned two Swiss Sig Sauer P226 pistols. Rodger wrote that the Sig was “more efficient” than the Glock.
  • Both Sig Sauer and Glock are “Corporate Partners” of the National Rifle Association. As detailed in the VPC’s 2013 study Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA, since 2005, Glock has given between $250,000 and $499,999 to the NRA (the range is due to the giving levels defined within the NRA’s “Corporate Partners Program”).

There’s more. And it’s more of the same old stuff. The corporate gun lobby is helping with the easy access of guns to mass shooters and people who just want guns for self defense but end up using them in intentional or unintentional shootings. It’s a travesty and an American tragedy.

But some states deal with tragedies differently than others. California almost immediately acted to get a law passed called the Gun Violence Restraining Order meant to temporarily remove guns from those deemed potentially dangerous to themselves or others. Read this commentary from a Brady Campaign activist about the importance of that law.

The shooting spree left 6 innocent people dead and 14 injured and terrorized the Isla Vista area. Three of the dead were shot, and 3 stabbed. Some of the wounded were hit by his car and others by bullets.

The shooters’ parents knew of his mental illness and other problems which he posted about on a You Tube video. Some weeks before the shooting they asked law enforcement to check on Rodger’s status and try to do something to stop what they knew could be coming. From this article:

“Police might have done more to find out about access to firearms, just given the family’s concern about Rodger’s emotional state. There’s no reason that police responding to people in crisis couldn’t routinely address gun risk–talk about it, try to remove guns in various ways–instead of focusing on trying to predict when exactly somebody is going to be violent; that’s very difficult even for experienced psychiatrists.” (…)

Swanson is now planning to study a training intervention for CIT police officers to routinely inquire about guns in mental health crisis calls. When guns are present, officers might use de-escalation skills to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at-risk of violence or suicide.  If one happens to be in a state such as Indiana that has a preemptive “dangerous person” gun seizure law, police can remove firearms without a warrant, pending a judicial hearing, even if the person with mental illness is not imminently dangerous at the time and wouldn’t meet criteria for involuntary commitment.

The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearms Policy has issued many recommendations in this area. One recommendation concerns the idea of a gun violence restraining order (GVRO) to restrict access to weapons among individuals who might pose a temporary danger to themselves or others. As Swanson and collaborators describe it, the main idea is to “create a new restraining order process to allow family members and intimate partners to petition the court to authorize removal of firearms, and to prohibit firearms purchase and possession temporarily based on a credible risk.”

An ER Physician who attended to the injured after the Isla Vista shooting has written this moving and poignant piece about what it was like that night and why we continue to have the gun carnage that so devastates our families. “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet”:

Over the next few weeks, I was left with haunting questions. Questions that remain unanswered.

Why is it so much easier and so much less expensive to acquire a firearm and large quantities of ammunition than it is to get an appointment with a mental-health professional within three months? Why is the wait longer to see a psychiatrist than to acquire a gun?

Why are there so many more discount gun stores than psychiatric hospitals and mental-health clinics in our country?

Would a well-armed Isla Vista, armed teachers, armed students, or armed fire fighters and EMTs make the body count higher or lower?

Why do we invest so little in mental-health surveillance and mental-health interventions in our schools? Why do so many of the perpetrators slip under the radar? Why are we so often caught off guard?

For all my friends who are responsible gun owners, how do we keep guns and ammunition out of the wrong hands? Would a tax on ammunition to fund mental-health resources be reasonable? What if it were necessary to have certification of having met with a mental-health professional prior to obtaining a permit to purchase a gun?

Why is there so much hate and anger in our society that drives young men mad with feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and rage? What can we do as a community to limit people acting out this anger with violence?

We can actually prevent gun violence. The corporate gun lobby loves to tell us that passing any new laws will only punish their own. They are wrong of course and that kind of “logic” goes against all common sense. Of course laws can matter. They matter for all kinds of things in our every day lives. Under pressure from Ralph Nader and other consumer watchdog groups, and law suits after auto accident deaths and injuries that safety features could have prevented, the car industry started spending more money to add seat belts, air bags and other safety features to cars. And yes, the price of cars increased. That is the price we pay for safety and customers understand that now.

Law suits and public pressure led to bans on smoking in public places because we now understand that we can prevent diseases related to smoking and second-hand smoke. Restaurant and bar owners resisted laws that required them to ban smoking in their establishments but guess what? People are still going out to eat and frequenting bars and restaurants. The fear of loss of business didn’t happen and we are all protected from the effects of inhaled smoke from cigarettes. We are healthier as a result and we are seeing a decrease in health care costs for those impacted by conditions and diseases related to smoking.

Laws matter.

Driving without seat belts or speeding are now illegal. Fewer people are dying.

We know now that we can reduce deaths and injuries from driving while drunk. Why did this one take so long to happen? It took lawsuits and public pressure from MADD and other consumer watchdog groups to get the attention of our lawmakers. Laws that penalize people for driving with blood alcohol levels above a certain limit have reduced auto accidents related to drunk driving. And our awareness of the problem, along with fear of arrest and the desire to save lives has been a change in social mores.

Laws matter. Drunk driving is punishable and we have learned to use designated drivers instead of driving drunk.

So how does this work for gun violence and the laws that do or could make us safer? Not so well. We do know that in states and countries that have strong gun laws, fewer people die of gunshot injuries. That should be good proof that we can change laws and get good results right? Not so much actually. For the corporate gun lobby is all about profits over saving lives. And the corporate gun lobby is famous for buying the influence of political leaders all over the country. Sometimes this is so obvious as to be egregious.

Take the Lawful Commerce in Arms law passed by Congress in 2005. In contrast to all other industries, the gun industry was granted immunity from lawsuits that would require safety features on firearms and safe practices by manufacturers and dealers. This had clearly not led to anything good. From the article:

In 2005, former President George W. Bush signed into law the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act – the “No. 1 legislative priority of the National Rifle Association” – which immunized gun makers and dealers from civil lawsuits for the crimes committed with the products they sell, a significant barrier to a comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy. Despite recent reporting on proposed efforts to prevent another tragedy like the one in Newtown, a Media Matters search of Nexis revealed major newspapers and evening television news have not explained this significant legal immunity.

Faced with an increasing number of successful lawsuits over reckless business practices that funneled guns into the hands of criminals, the 2005 immunity law was a victory for the NRA, which “lobbied lawmakers intensely” to shield gun makers and dealers from personal injury law. As described by Erwin Chemerinsky, a leading constitutional scholar and the Dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law, by eliminating this route for victims to hold the gun industry accountable in court, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was a complete deviation from basic “principles of products liability“:

Laws matter. Loose gun laws do not save lives.

One egregious example of this kind of pandering to the gun industry is a recent law suit filed by the parents of one of the victims of the Aurora Theater shooting. This one is on vivid display because of the current trial of the shooter of that tragic incident. The parents of Jessica Ghawi filed a suit against the ammunition company that provided the drum magazine to the shooter.  A Colorado District court judge recently decided in favor of the ammunition company and ordered the Phillips to pay back the legal costs for the law suit. Yes, really. This happened. From the article:

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was one of 12 people killed in the July 2012 attack, had sued four online retailers that provided bullets, gun magazines and body armor alleged to have been used in the shooting. They accused the retailers of selling the items without concern about the mental fitness of the buyer or the items’ intended use. (…)  In an order issued Friday, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ruled state and federal laws protect ammunition sellers from such lawsuits. He dismissed the case. (…)

And to make this all the worse, the judge ordered the Phillips to pay back the legal costs of the lawsuit. Last night’s Rachel Maddow show highlighted the outrage over the idea that a victim’s family had to pay the legal costs back to the ammunition company they attempted to sue on behalf of victims everywhere. We should all be very outraged by this. It’s time to call out this kind of insane fealty to the gun industry which represents a decreasing number of Americans who own fewer and fewer guns.

The thing is, there are real victims who were real people with real families whose potential will now not be realized. In their memory we ought to realize that we can’t continue along the road to more and more gun deaths without doing something to prevent them. So why can’t we? The NRA and the corporate gun lobby.

So let’s get this straight. A new study by the Violence Policy Center tells us that the NRA/corporate gun lobby represents only 1 in 5 Americans. The big question is why a minority group representing an industry has the ear of many of our elected leaders. It’s very important that we let our leaders know that they don’t have to be afraid of the incendiary rhetoric coming from a group that does not have the best interests of our children and families in mind. When people can be massacred in a movie theater and the parents of one of the victims are ordered to pay back the ammunition company from which the shooter ordered his bullets of death and destruction, something is very very wrong.

From the above article:

One of the greatest successes of the NRA and the gun industry has been their ability to act as if they represent a majority of Americans. This is in spite of the fact that the NRA represents only a tiny fraction of gun owners, let alone all Americans, and gunmakers are a relatively small industry compared with other manufacturers of consumer goods. Yet this mistaken belief in their own popularity — based on nothing more than chest-thumping and false assertions — is what drives the NRA and itsfinancial backers in the gun industry as they push for policies and legislation that benefit only them, from one law after the next that expands concealed carry in public spaces to a militarized product line that facilitates public mayhem.

The facts are these. A clear majority — two thirds — of Americans don’t have guns in their homes. Almost four out of five Americans don’t personally own a gun. And as the gun-owning population continues to age and die off, fewer Americans are taking their place.

After the carnage at the “biker gang” shoot-out in Waco, Texas, many are asking questions about our armed society. The gun lobby loves to claim that an “armed society is a polite society”. How could they be more wrong? A great article from the Dallas News examines our armed society and raises the questions and concerns we all should be raising:

There is simply no need for a civilized society to tolerate the type of gun-related violence that Americans seem to accept as normal. Other modern industrial countries have realized, in some cases long ago, that it is unnecessary for people in a free society to have easy access to guns.

The solution to gun-related crime is not further arming the public. It involves enacting comprehensive gun control laws that prohibit many forms of gun ownership, significantly curtailing or eliminating access to and the ability to purchase guns, and implementing programs in which the government confiscates or purchases illegal guns already in circulation among the public.

For those firearms that are legal, ownership should be tied not only to background checks, but to extensive and mandatory training in the safe use and storage of weapons. Evidence from other countries shows clearly that these types of measures will significantly reduce gun-related deaths and lead to a safer and more secure society.

In an era of extreme concern about national security, Americans need to recognize that one of the greatest threats to national security is their own heavily armed population. We need to enact legislation that will greatly reduce gun-related crimes and protect people from the dangers associated with widespread gun access and ownership. Unfortunately, our proven inability to handle widespread gun ownership suggests strongly that the way to do this is to deeply restrict access to and ownership of most types of guns.

Americans should ask themselves whether they want to live in a society that is secure because everyone is ready to shoot one another or one that is secure because people have peace of mind and experience freedom from violence and the freedom to pursue their lives in safety and happiness rather than fear.

We need the freedom to pursue our lives in safety. Many have lost that freedom due to gun violence. Yes, Americans have their gun rights but they don’t have the right to make the rest of us unsafe in our homes and communities. We can do better than this. Let us remember the many victims of gun violence on this Memorial Day. They have given their lives as well to the insanity of the American gun culture and the spineless cooperation to the gun lobby by our leaders. It’s time for all of that to change. And we will change it by continuing our own efforts in the pursuit of stronger gun laws, educating the public about the risks of guns in homes, programs to get parents to ask about guns in homes where their children and teens play and hang-out, holding the gun industry responsible for bad actions, and supporting the many victims whose stories are so compelling and poignant that they should change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in America.