A broken background check system

Background checks workThe shooting of 26 at a small church in Texas is now history and America has turned to other things. That is the way things go here. The victims and survivors have not forgotten though. If we let this shooting, like all of the other mass shootings and every day shootings go the way of Wikipedia and move on, we can expect to see many more.

What will we do about saving lives land preventing shootings?

We are not helpless to fix this national public health epidemic. Some laws are broken and need to be fixed and we need some new laws that, in this political atmosphere are unlikely to be passed.

Our background check system for gun purchases is broken. There is absolutely no rational reason not to require a background check on every single gun sale. We require them for adopting a pet, for a whole lot of other important jobs and responsibilities. But because the corporate gun lobby has co-opted any common sense discussion about reforms to our gun policy and gun culture, we have allowed people to buy guns without background checks all over our country.

easier to get a gun,,,

The Charleston loophole has not been fixed even after 8 were shot and killed in a small Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015:

Roof was able to buy the weapon after the investigator assigned to complete his background check wasn’t able to find his police record, which contained a confession for drug possession. Under federal law, NICS has three business days to finish vetting a gun buyer, or the sale can proceed. When the deadline expired with his background check still incomplete, Roof got his gun.

Last summer, the story of Roof’s dead-end background check helped expose a loophole that annually allows upwards of 3,000 persons deemed too risky to own a gun to acquire a firearm via so-called “default proceed” sales.

And so, we see the results every day. There really are hardly words to describe the shooting in a small church in the small Texas town of Sutherland, Texas. How can one family lose 8 people at once in a shooting? How can a shooter shoot and kill and 18 month old baby?

The shooter had serious problems while in the air force:

Devin Patrick Kelley’s June 2012 escape from Peak Behavioral Health Systems in New Mexico occurred months after he was accused of abusing his ex-wife and her child, according to an El Paso Police Department report obtained by CNN affiliate KVIA on Tuesday.
Kelley was picked up after the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, facility listed him as missing. The documents said officers had been warned that Kelley was a danger to himself and others and that he had sneaked firearms onto Holloman Air Force Base, where he had reportedly threatened his commanders.

All of this and he was able to buy guns.

This is America. This is not normal or inevitable. This is a public health epidemic of huge proportions. Americans and Texans are angry, sad, upset, shocked,

There is no doubt that we need to make some serious changes and make it harder for certain people to get guns. It wouldn’t hurt law abiding citizens if it was harder for them to get a gun either for the good of the whole and for saving lives. If people go through background checks and lengthy processes for other things in their lives, they can do the same to acquire a gun. This is a no brainer and the majority concur.

So put on your game faces and let’s get to work on crafting, supporting and passing a policy that will save lives. Brady background checks have prevented the sale of 3 million guns since the system was authorized and set up.

 

What is wrong with us? Every day we watch the carnage. A few days ago a family was wiped out in Scottsdale Arizona over financial troubles.

They were a nice young family with small children. And now they are no longer.

Just another daily domestic shooting.

This is not normal. It’s time to do something quickly before it’s a friend of yours or a family member who picks up a gun and uses it to “solve a problem.”

Ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 4240 and your Senators to co-sponsor S. 2009 to expand and fix the Brady background check system.

Charleston- another mass shooting anniversary

Charleston shootingIt is difficult to try to remember the dates of all of the mass shootings in America. You see, mass shootings have happened in every month of the year and almost every week of every month. And when we honor and remember the victims of the high profile mass shootings we don’t want to forget or dishonor the victims of “everyday” shootings- about 90 per day as it turns out.

I just wrote a post about the one year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. And then the shooting happened at the baseball practice and left a U.S. Congressman ( and others) critically injured. And then a mass shooting happened in San Francisco at a UPS building. And then the verdict in the Philando Castile case left a community reeling when the officer involved was acquitted. This case highlights the tensions between people of color and law enforcement- something about which we need to deal seriously and purposefully.

When will it end?

The mass shooting at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina was a particularly brutal and heinous shooting because of the fact that a group of Black members of the church welcomed the shooter into their fold as they were innocently praying in the church. And then, he shot them brutally in a heinous and unforgivable hate crime.

Churches should be places where people can gather without fear of being shot. In America no place is a place where people can gather without fear of being shot. Baseball practices, schools, malls, cars, parks, college campuses, workplaces, office buildings and homes are all vulnerable to shooters with anger, hate and revenge in their hearts. And when guns are so easily accessible, it is all too easy.

The shooter of the 9 people that were killed that day two years ago should not have been able to purchase his gun. But because the gun lobby lapdogs in Congress made sure there was a loophole in our gun laws, he got his gun anyway. We know the result. From the article:

Nearly three thousands guns were sold to people with criminal records, mental illnesses or other prohibitive circumstances in 2015, according to the FBI’s latest operations report on background checks, released in late September.

That’s the result of what many see as a flaw in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). At licensed firearm dealers–but not private shows or sales, including those facilitated online–a background check is required to determine the prospective buyer’s eligibility. Data show that roughly 90 percent of these checks come back with an answer immediately, but the remainder are delayed so the FBI can further investigate eligibility.

If three business days pass without a verdict from the FBI, licensed dealers can sell the gun anyway, unless prohibited by local law. If the background check later comes back negative, federal authorities are supposed to retrieve the weapon. (…)

Since 1998, the delayed denial provision has put a total of 58,779 guns in the wrong hands

What are we doing about this? Some members of the South Carolina legislature tried by proposing a bill to close this loophole in gun laws.:

“Lawful gun owners should applaud this legislation. The only people who should fear this legislation are people who are unfit to carry a gun,” said Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, one of the co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill, along with Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster.

Alas, the bill failed. Gun lobby lapdogs won’t even stand up for the victims of one of the worst mass shootings in our country.

Common sense tells us that we must stop this practice and prevent shootings wherever we can. But the NRA defends the indefensible.

What does it mean to honor with action? Passing this bill would be one big action and it should happen in Congress.

But quietly, other actions are taking place to honor the victims. From the linked article above about the second anniversary of the shooting:

Taylor, a retired nurse, once worked in hospice, but, like so many here, still struggles with the heavy yoke of loss that clings to the regal crimson and dark wood sanctuary.

“We’ve just got to face the reality. Death is hard for everybody,” she says. “It’s something you never get over. We all hurt. But we’ve got to move on.”

She tries to heal by honoring those who died.

Before Pinckney’s death, Taylor was helping him launch a new community outreach. Since his death, she has continued to organize what is now called the Clementa C. Pinckney Community Health Fair each year. She also expanded the outreach to include feeding people facing homelessness. Pinckney’s wife and younger daughter, who both survived the shooting by hiding in his secretary’s office, have attended the health fairs along with his father and older daughter.

Now Taylor has eyes on expanding both outreaches. In August, she hopes to hold a health fair for children returning to school. In November, she wants to begin holding the homeless event monthly.

Emanuel needs it. The broader community needs it. And Pinckney would have wanted it.

“Everybody knows Clementa Pinckney was a community man,” Taylor says. “That was just his heart. He loved to help people in the community. He was full of love and grace and kindness.”

Taylor wants to ensure that, away from the spotlight, Emanuel lives out that commitment. She isn’t alone.

Away from the spotlight of high profile publicized shootings like that at Mother Emanuel church, people are trying to heal and take action. Their loved ones live on in their hearts leaving a hole that will never be filled.

I have met Clementa Pinckney’s wife who is a quiet beautiful woman trying to raise her children alone after the horror of that day two years ago. I have met others who are working with the Charleston community to prevent gun violence. I honor all of them and grieve with their survivors as they remember and try to forget this day. To the victims:

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Cynthia Hurd

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Tywanza Sanders

Myra Thompson

Ethel Lee Lance

Rev. Daniel L. Simmons

Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor

Susie Jackson

 

We are at war with each other

crossIt’s no secret. The political atmosphere was hateful and angry before the Orlando shooting. Now it’s worse. We are war with each other. History will look back on the America of the 2000s and write about how we turned our backs on the millions of victims of gun violence and their families. Historians will write about how a country allowed the massacre of 20 first graders to happen without trying to do something to prevent the next one. History will not be kind when it comes to America and mass shootings and gun violence in general.

If we lined up the crosses of all Americans killed by gun violence since 1968, they would form a field larger than that at Normandy (France), Gettysburg, Appomattox, Arlington and other cemeteries combined where fallen American military personnel are buried.

Are we at war?

Today is the first anniversary of the Charleston church shooting that took the lives of 9 innocent Americans while praying at Mother Emanuel church. History will write about how our weak gun laws allowed a young man with hate and racism in his heart to buy a gun in spite of his prohibited purchaser status. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby and their minions in Congress, a three day default proceed provision was written into the Brady law. What that means is that if the record keeping and data bases don’t communicate with each other and get information into the law enforcement system by 3 days after the purchase of a gun, the purchaser can walk away with the gun anyway.

Nine precious lives were taken because of that provision in our law that makes absolutely no common sense. But in America, sales and profits of selling guns takes precedent over saving lives.

Today, the families of the 9 killed in Charleston are remembering their loved ones. Here is one article written by the brother of one of the victims in remembrance.:

We may be back here again soon. Not in Charleston, not in a church, but somewhere in our country someone is going to experience some type of pain simply because of the proliferation of guns, and the Achilles heel of our country, racism, that we can’t seem to get past. So we got to not just forgive and forget, but we have to remember to continue to fight for those things that make our society better today than it was yesterday.

What will historians write about how we responded to this crime of hate and racism?

I wrote in my last post that things were changing concerning guns and the conversation about gun violence after the Orlando shooting. No sooner had I posted my article than a filibuster broke out in the U.S. Senate led by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator Murphy was in attendance when the families of the first graders massacred at Sandy Hook learned that theirs were the 20 who didn’t come out alive. He is not going to forget or let us forget about that heinous and bloody day in American history.

Has the accumulation of all of the mass shootings in recent years just been too much? Are we, at long last, ready to do something?

It looks like there may be a vote now on some gun safety reform provisions as a result of that filibuster. At the least, the conversation changed for 15 hours when 40 Democratic Senators, 2 Republicans and 1 independent joined in and articulately and passionately talked about our national gun violence scourge. They stood with the victims. They spoke for the victims’ families. They spoke for the majority of Americans who can see that change has to happen in order to stop the daily war in our streets and our homes and public places.

Even the generals are weighing in. General Stanley McCrystal wrote this piece for the New York Times today. From his opinion piece comes something very important to the conversation about guns in America:

Here at home, many of us are alarmed by the carnage. We are alarmed by loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers get hold of guns without a background check. We are alarmed that a known or suspected terrorist can go to a federally licensed firearms dealer where background checks are conducted, pass that background check, legally purchase a firearm and walk out the door.

Now veterans are speaking out. Last Friday, two days before the tragedy in Orlando, a new initiative, the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense, led by the Navy combat veteran Capt. Mark Kelly and his wife, the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was announced. Those of us serving on its advisory committee come from every branch of our military and virtually every rank. We are trained in the use of firearms, and many of us have served in combat. And we all think our country must do more to save lives from being cut short by gun violence.

Are we alarmed enough to do something at long last?

Listen to the voices of common sense and experience. Those on the side of the corporate gun lobby are most often also strong supporters of our military. Not that the rest of us aren’t but those who oppose reasonable gun measures can often be heard to proclaim themselves as patriotic Americans- more patriotic than the rest of us. What’s so patriotic about allowing our citizens to be massacred by people who shouldn’t have guns?

The inanity of the conversation about gun violence in our country has been taking place for far too long. Not any more. People are joining gun violence prevention organizations in large numbers asking what they can do to help. Spontaneous rallies have occurred. Monetary donations have been received. Hundreds of thousands of calls were made to Senators in 24 hours urging participation in the filibuster and what will hopefully be upcoming votes.

We have had #Enough. Action is needed. No more words and thoughts and prayers.

And no more blaming President Obama for what happened in Orlando. Shamefully Arizona Senator John McCain ( among others) has gone over the line of common sense and sanity to join in some of the lunacy regarding the Orlando shooting. From the article:

Sen. John McCain said Thursday that President Barack Obama was “directly responsible” for the massacre at the gay nightclub in Orlando, though McCain later said he “misspoke.” “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures — utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq, thinking that conflicts end just because you leave. So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies,” McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Really Senator McCain?

We are better than this.

There is a gun culture that has promoted the civilian ownership of weapons of war that is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. For 10 years we had a ban on these kinds of guns but our weak politicians, with pressure from the gun lobby let it lapse. Since then these weapons designed for use in war time have been used to kill countless Americans. Sandy Hook. Aurora.San Bernardino….. It doesn’t have to be this way.

This Boston Globe editorial is asking for us to return to sanity and common sense when it comes to military style assault rifles:

There is nothing more American today than a mass shooting, the quickest way for the wicked among us to join the ranks of the reviled. Their motives are many, but their opportunity is limited only by their gun and ammunition magazine brand preference. In this country, the federal government limits duck hunters to weapons that carry only three shells, to protect the duck population. But you can buy an assault weapon in seven minutes and an unlimited number of bullets to fire with it. For every McDonald’s in the United States, there are four federally licensed gun dealers and an untold number of unregulated private dealers who can legally sell an unlimited number of guns out of their homes, backpacks, and car trunks without requiring a criminal background check or proof of ID.

These weren’t the guns, and this wasn’t the America, that the Founders foresaw. That is why we need a new assault weapons ban, written for the realities we face in 2016.

What did the founding fathers envision? Gun rights extremists tell us that what we have now is exactly what was meant by the founding fathers when they wrote the second amendment. That is, in part, responsible for what happened in Orlando.

There is a weak system of regulating who gets guns that is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. Racism and hatred is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando.

Presidential politics and extreme rhetoric is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. One of our Presidential candidates is fear mongering and hating certain groups even thought they aren’t responsible for what happened in Orlando. (“Trump’s discourse, both leading up to and following the Orlando shooting, begins with a pathos of fear but ends with an appeal to anger.”)

We are better than this.

Even tolerance of anti-government groups and support for them has allowed the current culture to get a foot hold in American and leads to other acts of violence. For example, the stand-off by armed Americans proclaiming it was all about the federal government taking something from them, was not only ignored but even supported by some on the right and Donald Trump himself:

That chummy relationship with extremists didn’t start with Malheur. In fact, Donald Trump expressed admiration for Cliven Bundy at the time of the 2014 confrontation between his armed supporters and law enforcement officers over Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees for his cattle on government land.

“I like him, I like his spirit, his spunk…I respect him,” Trump told Fox News in April that year. Bundy’s sons led the Malheur standoff, which eventually resulted in their arrest and the killing of one of the occupiers at a roadblock by state police.

“Republican Congressional leaders have done nothing to combat this growing threat,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) “Indeed, they ignored a Democratic request … to hold a Natural Resources Committee hearing on this issue.”

History will judge us for this kind of anti-government extremism.

It’s not President Obama. It’s those who hate him. More from the above article:

“This antigovernment movement has exploded since President Obama took office. In 2008, we documented approximately 150 radical antigovernment groups. Last year, we counted almost 1,000,” he added. “The movement is dangerous. It includes almost 300 armed militia groups committed to resisting what they see as a tyrannical federal government.”

Thompson pointedly compared the anti-government crowd with foreign, and foreign-inspired, terrorists. Domestic terrorists have the same goal, he said, “to harm and incite fear within our borders.”

Congress, he said, “must take this growing threat seriously and take action.”

Our politicians weak spines are in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. Individuals who have become self radicalized and terror groups who want us to be terrorized by actions of unstable angry young men who have troubled pasts and intolerance of others are in part responsible for what happened in Orlando:

Oppositional. Lacks remorse. Verbally abusive. These are some of the terms teachers and school counselors used to describe a young Omar Mateen, according to elementary and middle school records.

Mateen, who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday in the worstmass shooting in modern U.S. history, had a troubling record of behavioral issues throughout his elementary and middle school years, ranging from simply disrupting class to outright aggressive conflicts with classmates.

Our almost total ignoring of the hundreds of thousands of gun violence victims is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. Fear and paranoia promoted by the corporate gun lobby and extremists on the right are in part to blame for what happened in Orlando.

All we know is that blame is not going to change the fact that too many Americans have been killed in mass shootings and every day shootings. We need to deal with fear, paranoia, hate, racism, misogyny, anti-gay sentiments, terror, intolerance, mental health and whatever else causes someone to kill others. But to ignore the guns is a national shame and putting our heads in the sand.

This can’t be the new normal. We can’t let it be. We will do whatever it takes. The nation is asking for our leaders to do something. Increased interest in strongly regulating assault style rifles and high capacity magazines has surfaced. The gun lobby hates any renewed discussion but we are not going to let the gun lobby lead that discussion. A majority of Americans want something to happen.

Something has changed. New ways of invoking terror in Americans has sparked a national conversation but I am concerned that it has further divided us and made the conversation more hate-filled and acrimonious than ever.

We are better than this.

The conversation about guns is changing

-isn't it strange?The Orlando shooting was just one of many on June 12th, 2016. According to Vox.com, it was one of 43:

What got much less coverage, though, were the 42 other reported shootings that happened yesterday. According to news reports collected by the Gun Violence Archive and Vox, these shootings resulted in an additional 18 deaths and 41 injuries. At least five of those killed were children.

These shootings, albeit more granular, paint a tragic picture of just how common gun violence is in the United States — and how it claims thousands of lives annually, outside of mass shootings.

Only in America. Is it strange? It should be but too many think it’s normal. It’s NOT normal. It can’t stay this way.

Times are changing.

I have been inundated and overwhelmed with emails, Facebook posts, conference calls and Tweets about the shooting in Orlando. I participated in a vigil at my local college where a large group of supports of the LGBTQ community gathered to express their sorrow and their support for unity after (now) 49 people lost their lives in the nation’s worst mass shooting. Our Mayor read the names of the dead as a combined gay/lesbian family rang the bell. It was emotional. The dead had names. They have loved ones and friends left to mourn for them and forever have to live without them now.

#Enough

The politicians are yapping and talking common sense. As I write this, the Senate Democrats are filibustering on the floor about gun violence and gun violence prevention measures. Thank God. Something is actually happening. Even Fox’s own Bill O’Reilly is talking common sense

We have said this before so I almost hate to write this. Is this the tipping point we have long been waiting for? Has the country finally had more than #Enough? This point should have been reached long long ago. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby and our timid and frightened elected officials. we have allowed people to die needlessly and avoidably for decades.

Some Republican Congress members are coming forward to change their positions regarding some gun violence prevention measures. At the least, closing a gap in our federal gun law that allows those on the terror watch list to be able to legally purchase guns must happen. Does it make any sense that we can see and know that these folks are buying guns but we can’t stop them from buying the guns that they could use in an act of terror?

You know the answer.

We do not know for sure the motive of the Orlando shooter. He was, according to his first wife, mentally unstable, angry, capable of domestic abuse, and perhaps confused about his own sexuality. She did not hear him talking about terrorism. If this was an act that related to terror, he was self radicalized and not associated formally with ISIS or any other terror group. Some have tried to claim otherwise. If this was man was an actual member of one of these groups, then the talking points are different.

I can feel things changing. I can feel the outpouring of actions and activity of those who just know that this time their voices are going to be heard. I can feel the national sadness and anger over this latest mass shooting. I can feel things changing.

Can you? If not, you are not paying attention.

And if you don’t want things to change out of some conviction that stopping people who shouldn’t have guns from being able to get them will limit your own rights, then I don’t have time for you. Things are changing.

We can’t have a reasonable discussion if you believe that the government is coming for your guns.

We can’t have a reasonable discussion if you believe that requiring a simple Brady background check on all gun sales will lead to gun registration, then I don’t have time for you. You are wrong.

If you believe, as Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has foolishly proclaimed using gun lobby talking points that if someone had had a gun in that Orlando nightclub they could have saved themselves and others or stopped the shooter, then I can’t talk to you.

Support has increased in the last few days for an assault weapons ban. Are you one of the minority who doesn’t want that to happen? If not, is there a discussion to be had or will you dig in your heals and insist that it won’t do any good anyway?

If you believe that passing any common sense law will lead to gun confiscation, then I don’t have time for you.

If you believe that just anyone should be able to buy any gun, then I don’t want to talk to you.

If you believe that assault style rifles formerly used in war are weapons to be used by everyday citizens for hunting, then I don’t have time to you.

If you believe you need guns that fire hundreds of rounds of bullets in just one minute, then I don’t have time for you.

If you believe that the lives lost in shootings every day is the price we have to pay for your  “inalienable” second amendment rights, then I can’t talk to you.

If you believe the second amendment means there can be no restrictions on types of guns, who can buy them, and where they can be carried, go away. I can’t talk to you.

We are done listening to the lies, fear and paranoia coming from the mouths of gun extremists. They are in the minority but their voices have risen far above where they deserve to be given the reality of gun violence in America.

Times are changing.

On June 17th, just a few days from now, we will mourn again for the lives of the 9 black Americans taken by another young man with hate in his heart who managed to get his hands on a gun. We will remember those shot at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina.

We are better than this.

Watch here as CNN’s Anderson Cooper breaks down while reading the names of the victims.

Let us remember the names of the fallen:

Edward Sotomayer Jr.

Stanley Almodovar III

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo

Akyra Monet Murray

Luis S. Vielma

Juan Ramon Guerrero

Christopher Andrew Leinonen

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz

Kimberly Morris

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice

Enrique Rios

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan

Cory James Connell

Mercedez Marisol Flores

Deonka Deidra Drayton

Miguel Angel Honorato

Jason Benjamin Josaphat

Darryl Roman Burt II

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon

Oscar A Aracena-Montero

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez

Shane Evan Tomlinson

Amanda Alvear

Martin Benitez Torres

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez

Javier Jorge-Reyes

Tevin Eurgene Crosby

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado

Joel Rayon Paniagua

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez a

Luis Daniel Conde

Juan Chevez-Martinez

Jerald Arthur Wright

Leroy Valentin Fernandez

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool

Angel L. Candelario-Padro

Frank Hernandez

Paul Terrell Henry

Antonio Davon Brown

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz

Alejandro Barrios-Martinez

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez

My list of victims’ names has never been this long.

May they rest in peace. May their families learn to heal over time and live around the hole left in their hearts by the loss of someone they loved as a son, daughter, sister, brother, grandchild or friend.

May we rise up in unity and say #WeAreOrlando

This shooting has gone to our hearts and souls.

The soul of America has been badly wounded. What will we do about it?

Times are changing.

Will you be there to keep more Americans alive and safe from gun violence at gatherings of people of all colors, races, sexual orientation, age and gender?

Times are changing.

There is so much more to say. I haven’t even started in on assault type rifles and the ease with which we sell them in America or why they are necessary for anyone to own. That is for another post.

Times are changing.

 

 

 

 

 

All for fun gunny tales

red_hood_002Many fairy tales are violent. I admit to that and admit that some of them made me uncomfortable while reading them to my own children. Sometimes we examine what we are doing and what we have done and come to the conclusion that it wasn’t such a good idea after all and that we could do better. Writing non violent tales is one of those ideas whose time has come. Is it just a liberal idea that we should protect children from the violence that befalls children and adults in these fairy tales?  Because in the real world, bad things do actually happen to children.

So the NRA is “making light” of some popular fairly tales by writing their own versions in which children appear to save themselves by defending themselves and sometimes with guns:

That world now exists on the National Rifle Association’s NRA Familywebsite, which partnered with author Amelia Hamilton “to present her twist on those classic tales” — a series that has infuriated gun-control advocates, some of whom called it “disgusting.”

Gun-rights supporters say the stories — which started with “Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)” and continued with “Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns)” — are a more peaceful alternative to the often disturbing fairy tales from childhood.

Which is it?

The idea drew mixed reactions amid the continuing battle between gun-rights advocates holding tight to their Second Amendment rights and gun-control activists concerned with incidents involving children and guns.

And then, the reality of kids and guns is mentioned:

So far in 2016, at least 52 children under age 18 have picked up a firearm and accidentally shot themselves or someone else, according to data from the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Gun violence prevention groups (like the Brady Campaign) reacted to this cynical attempt to sell the idea of self defense for children ( from the article):

“Make no mistake, this is a disgusting, morally depraved marketing campaign,” Dan Gross, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “The NRA continues to stoop to new lows in the hopes of shoving guns into America’s youngest hands. If nothing else, this approach demonstrates just how desperate the organization has become to sell more guns — it must now advertise deadly weapons to kids by perverting childhood classics with no regard whatsoever for the real life carnage happening every day.

“To be frank, it’s pathetic.”

Pathetic indeed.

In real life, this just happened:

The father of a 7-year-old San Angelo boy who allegedly shot himself in the leg struck another boy with his truck while attempting to take his son to the hospital, police said.

Andrew Crittenden, 26, told San Angelo police Friday that he had given his son the handgun, which the boy was playing with inside an apartment. Crittenden said he thought the gun had been emptied of live rounds, police said.

So in this case, a father gives his 7 year old a gun to play with and the boy shoots himself and then the father runs over another 5 year old with his car on the way to the hospital with his own son. Is this a fairy tale? Sometimes truth is stranger, or worse, than fiction. The gun lobby can try to create its’ own world of fiction regarding the use of guns for self defense and encouraging children to have guns but reality  blows their fiction out of the water. Or at least it should if we had any common sense regarding the actual risks of guns to children.

This is a real pathetic tale.

Or what about this real story about a 14 year old boy who shot and killed his 13 year old friend with a gun that was left around the house? The 14 year old will be living now in the real world of awful guilt over this terrible and avoidable tragedy and another family will be living with their real grief over the loss of a loved one whose potential will never be reached. That’s no fairy tale.

In the NRA’s ( and corporate gun lobby) world, small concealable guns should look like cell phones because….. why not? Imagine searching through a pocket or purse for your phone and coming up with the gun/cell phone instead. What could possibly go wrong?

In the gun lobby’s world, God gave people their rights to own guns because…….why not use religion to get people to arm themselves?  Let’s look at the above linked article from The Trace:

The bottom line for Wagner, and many gun-carrying Christians, is that it is in fact okay for Christians have guns, and to use them — so long as they do so for the right reasons. Guns should be not be used for vengeance, he says, but for love. “There is a time when the most loving thing you can do is restrain evil.”

“The Bible does say in Matthew 5:9, blessed are the peace makers,” Wagner adds, “and we actually call guys who carry weapons ‘peace officers’ — right? — because they are there to help enforce that which is going to suppress evil and protect the innocent.”

Such talk of blessed peacemaking from the barrel of a sidearm fits perfectly with today’s “good guy with a gun” fantasies. But it likely has another, older parent as well: the aggressively masculine “muscular Christianity” popularized through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, whose shadow still lingers over much of the evangelical world.

Rationalizing and fictionalizing religious teachings as a reason for carrying guns is absurd and just fiction. We all know that firearms were nowhere in the picture when these teachings were put to print.

But never mind. The article starts with the the Mississippi legislature considering a bill to extend “Stand Your Ground” provisions to houses of worship. You never know when that “big bad wolf” will come walking in with a gun- like at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last summer. And in the gun lobby’s fairy tale world, that “bad guy” with a gun could have been stopped if only those 9 people had been carrying in their church.

And last, but certainly not least, the NRA has a Board member who lives in some sort of twisted fairy tale world. The latest from Ted Nugent through Media Matters:

National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent shared a sexist chain letter on social media, which claimed that “men prefer guns over women” because “guns function normally every day of the month.”

Nugent’s post is the latest example of a phenomenon where the NRA increasingly tries to attract women to the organization even as the organization’s leadership engages in sexist and degrading commentary.

Women, of course, are more likely to die in America in gun owning homes than in non gun owning homes.

In the real world,  the majority of gun deaths are due to suicide. In the fictional world of the gun lobby, that doesn’t appear to be a part of their tale.

In the real world 90 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries. Wouldn’t it be nice if the NRA would write a fairy tale about how to prevent some of those gun deaths instead of arming fairy tale figures with guns?

There are two worlds when it comes to guns. The majority of Americans live in the world of common sense and support reasonable laws and measures to keep guns away from those who could be dangerous with them. That is the real world. The minority live in the world of fear, paranoia, deception and fiction when it comes to guns. Many in our Congress and legislatures seem afraid of the wrong world. It’s time for them to step into the real world and not believe in fairy tales. Real lives depend on it.

 

 

Where do terrorists live?

gun_rally002-4_3
Image from USA Today

It turns out that American terrorists mostly live in several states though the Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of insurrectionists, militia groups, and terrorists in all 50 states. Check out the map for where they live in your own state. Let’s take a look at this article about the most recent of our mass terror attacks– that being the shooting up of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. From the article:

Among dozens of avowedly Christian, anti-Semitic, and right-wing terrorists cataloged by the Anti-Defamation League and theSouthern Poverty Law Center, you’ll find many from these two states: Charles Robert Barefoot Jr., a North Carolina Klan leader who was convicted in 2012 on charges involving firearms, explosives, and violent conspiracy. Kody Brittingham, a Marine at Camp Lejeune who confessed to plotting the assassination of President Obama. Paul Chastain, a South Carolina militiaman who tried to acquire plastic explosives and threatened to kill federal officials. Steve Bixby, a violent activist from an anti-Semitic household, who gunned down two police officers in Abbeville, South Carolina. Daniel Schertz, a klansman arrested in Greenville, South Carolina, and later convicted, on weapons charges involving racist bomb plots.

And then there’s Dylann Roof. After allegedly murdering nine black people in a Charleston, South Carolina, church this summer, Roof drove more than three hours north, to Shelby, North Carolina. Nobody stopped him at the state border. The boundary between North and South Carolina, like the boundary between Syria and Iraq, is a joke.

North and South Carolina apparently host a good number of home grown terrorists. What is it about these states? Loose gun laws for one. Ultra conservative political persuasion for another. Clinging to the Confederate Flag and what it stands for as the Charleston church shooting ramped up for yet another. There is so much important information in this article for us to digest. We can only hope that our politicians will actually digest it and think about what they are saying. Denying Syrian refugees entrance into our country will not solve our problem with home grown terrorism. As it turns out, according to the above article:” Of the 77 people killed in these 27 incidents, two-thirds died at the hands of anti-abortion fanatics, “Christian Identity” zealots, white anti-Semites, or other right-wing militants.”

Yikes. Congress- we have a problem. Are you watching and listening?

There are militia groups and terror cells in all 50 states. But then there are the “lone wolf” types like the shooter in Colorado Springs who fly under the radar, basically unknown or little known to law enforcement. But they can ALL get their hands on weapons in the US. That is why we have so many more of these attacks than other countries. In the above article, the author hones in on the basic reason for the existence of the militia groups- they are afraid for their second amendment rights. Because surely President Obama and those awful gun grabbers are going to take away their guns and their rights. 

It’s already happening, right? We are coming for their guns. According to the NRA and other gun lobby groups, this is the scenario of the immediate future. From this article by Josh Horwitz of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the NRA is encouraging insurrectionism:

An even more disturbing NRA revelation was largely ignored by media last week, however. On October 20, the NRA tweeted a link to a blog post by North Carolinian and former PJ Media writer Bob Owens with the text, “Make no mistake, anti-gunners are ‘calling for forcible disarmament.'”

The blog post, titled, “Gun Confiscation Fantasies are Fast-Tracking the Democrat Party to Destruction,” is a deeply insurrectionist screed in which Owens fantasizes about a violent civil war with Democrats who support gun reform.

If you believe this, I have a bridge to sell you…..

And then there are the Open Carry extremists who insist on walking our streets with their military style weapons. Remember the one who killed 3 people last month in Colorado Springs?

Also apparently “law abiding” militia members are not so safe with their own guns. In North Dakota, one member shot another– too much alcohol, militia mentality and guns just are not a good mix. From the article: ” “They have some very different beliefs about the world. Their beliefs didn’t mix.””

Sigh. When your politics don’t mix and you are armed, tragedy happens. What about this are we not understanding?

We are war with each other. A portion of our own citizens are armed and ready to fight those who are in another camp, or of another political or religious persuasion, or another color, or another ideological position about abortion, terrorism, gun rights or immigration.

For the sake of common sense and public health and safety, we just have to be dealing with the true dangers before us every day. Can a group of Black Lives Matter protesters not gather together without fear of alleged white supremacists shooting at them? Is there a possibility they won’t even be charged for shooting and injuring 5 black people? Insanity.

Can women not go to an abortion clinic for needed health care procedures and sometimes abortions ( legal under the law) without fear of being shot up? Can refugees or immigrants not go to public places without fear of being beat up because they look different?  Several disturbing anti-Muslim incidents have surfaced lately and they will surely increase in number if the gun rights extremists, Presidential candidates and politicians keeping fanning the flames of hate, intolerance and insurrectionism.

It is now revealed that the Colorado Springs shooter ranted about “no more body parts.” Remember where that came from? I do. Fake videos.

This one happened in Minnesota when a Muslim woman was beaten by a beer mug by an intolerant woman customer.

A Muslim cab driver was shot and injured by a gun guy in Pittsburgh because he was a Muslim.

We are living in an unsettling time in American history. Terror attacks abroad are of obvious concern. But the anger and concern should be turned inward towards our own policies and dangerous rhetoric. It’s past time for this to change. Let’s get to work and demand that our lawmakers do something that will actually keep us safe.

This will be cross posted on commongunsense.com.

UPDATE:

Many are writing similar articles and posts about America’s home grown terrorists after the Planned Parenthood shooting. This one notes even higher numbers of attacks than I had reported from above articles:

Though terrorism perpetrated by Muslims receives a disproportionate amount of attention from politicians and reporters, the reality is that right-wing extremists pose a much greater threat to people in the United States than terrorists connected to ISIS or similar organizations. As UNC Professor Charles Kurzman and Duke Professor David Schanzer explained last June in the New York Times, Islam-inspired terror attacks “accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.” Meanwhile, “right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” (…)

Kurzman and Schanzer also surveyed hundreds of law enforcement agencies regarding their assessment of various threats. Of the 382 agencies they spoke with, “74 percent reported anti-government extremism as one of the top three terrorist threats in their jurisdiction,” while only “39 percent listed extremism connected with Al Qaeda or like-minded terrorist organizations.”

Meanwhile, the percentage of refugees that are connected to terrorist plots is vanishingly small.

Let’s get our priorities straight. They are now misplaced and misunderstood by people who should know better.

 

Peace and justice on Thanksgiving

Puzzle Pieces: Justice Concept.

As Thanksgiving approaches we should all pause and think about what is going on right now in our country. The Paris terror attacks have elevated the fear, anger and paranoia of Americans for good reason. But since the terror attack, some of the reactions have been amazingly uneducated and utterly frightening. I have been writing about this in my last few blog posts.

But now terror has hit Minnesota in the form of an attack by armed (alleged) white supremacists in Minneapolis against members of the Black Lives Matters protest over the shooting of a young black man by police last week.

This is a domestic terror attack- there is not another word for it. When so many people have been encouraged to arm themselves for perceived threats to their safety, this is inevitable. When so much hate, anger and fear is spewed on the air waves every day, what do we expect? More guns have definitely not made us safer or more polite. We have a violent and racist society.

Mike the Gun Guy has written about the Minneapolis shooting. It’s something to consider. From his post:

If you don’t think there’s a connection between the Black Lives Matter protestor who was beaten up at a Trump rally in Alabama and the attempted killing of peaceful demonstrators in Minneapolis, then you haven’t been paying attention to the news or the Trump campaign.  When you stand up in front of a cheering-jeering audience and call someone a ‘jerk’ or a ‘dope’ or a ‘crazy’ because they yell something during your speech, you’ve abandoned any degree of public civility and are now just pandering to the lowest and meanest folks in the crowd. (…)

But they don’t have to keep quiet if they can go to a rally headlined by Trump.  And they don’t have to keep quiet when they walk up to a demonstration held by Black Lives Matter because another Black man may have been gunned down by the cops.  After all, these guys have a Constitutional right to call someone a name and they also have a Constitutional right to walk around with a gun.  Put those two rights together and you know what you get?  You get three young Black men in the hospital with gunshot wounds and the cops, in a shooting which took place right outside a police station, still looking for the guys who pulled out the guns.

It happened right outside the police station.  Think about that.

Didn’t these armed thugs know that armed police officers were nearby? Of course they did. They didn’t care. Their hate, racism and anger fueled them and combined with guns, it didn’t go well. The suspects have all been arrested.

We don’t know yet what exactly happened in the case of the shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis. Both sides have a story to tell and evidence to bring. An investigation will hopefully bring some justice and peace to citizens of the 4th precinct.

No matter what happened to Jamar Clark, one can understand mistrust of officers by people of color given the incidents that have happened over many years’ time. The tenuous relationship between people of color and law enforcement has been much in the news all over our country.

A Chicago officer just turned himself into police over the shooting of a black teen in October of 2014. It turns out that the officer shot the teen 16 times, many of the bullets shot after the teen was lying dead on the street.

These are difficult times for America. When there are so many guns on our streets and in our homes, the inevitable result is mistrust of others. Yes, black teens and young men are dying in greater numbers than their white counterparts. Yes, white men are dying more often than their counterparts of color in gun suicides. Toddlers and small children are “accidentally” shooting themselves and others at an alarming rate. Mass shootings occupy our media spaces on a regular basis. Yes, white radicalized home grown terrorists are shooting people of color. Stand Your Ground laws are unmistakably aimed at people of color and affect them at a greater rate than white people.  And yes, black young men are also shooting each other and innocent people in gang related shootings all over America. Police officers are being shot by others in various scenarios. And police officers are sometimes shooting  young men of color in sometimes justified shootings, sometimes not.

The issue of race and guns needs to be examined so we can understand the issues faced by our communities of color. It is not without controversy as nothing is with gun rights and gun violence prevention. The Trace has written about the history of race and gun rights. It’s worth the read for a better understanding of what is going on in our own country right now.

It’s impossible not to connect the dots from this article with the summer shooting of 9 Black people at Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina. It was an act of terror and it was an act of overt racism.

Home grown extremists are shooting Americans on a pretty regular basis.

We have a gun problem that is contributing to all of the above.

Minnesota has had a rough year for shootings. There have been many shootings in the communities of color. There have been horrific domestic shootings and the usual suicides which account for 80% of gun deaths in Minnesota. Just yesterday, a man in a domestic dispute was shot and killed by officers in a Minnesota suburb. Domestic cases are among the most dangerous for officers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Getting a handle on our nation’s public health and safety gun violence epidemic won’t be easy. But we shouldn’t stop until we have the conversation we deserve about the causes and effects of devastating gun violence. Common sense and resolve have to lead the discussion.  Facts will be important but our sense of justice and common values should be at the forefront of the discussion and decision making.

You may have conversations around your Thanksgiving table with family and friends about the many controversial  topics surrounding us. There are terror attacks, Syrian refugees, what to do with old aunt Sally, how to deal with cousin Peter, what to do about Uncle Joe’s drinking, where to go shopping on Black Friday and other important and not so important topics. If shootings and gun violence come up there are some answers to some of your gun toting relatives in this article in The Trace. “Arming” yourself with the facts rather than arguing at an emotional level may make your Thanksgiving table conversation less confrontational.

This Thanksgiving is going to be very difficult for a lot of people who are missing a family member because of a deadly shooting. Please think of them while you are with your own family and friends. And stay safe this holiday season.

God help us all. We will need all the help we can get to deal with all of the tragedy and unrest surrounding us.