Gun laws in Hawaii

hawaii_2009_01Did I mention that I was going on a family vacation to Maui? I have been there twice before and have written about it on my previous blog site. But it’s worth reviewing the gun laws of Hawaii since they are strong and effective. Let’s take a look from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:

 

Among other things, Hawaii:

Yikes. Licensing and registration! Surely there must be confiscation. But no. No mention anywhere of wholesale confiscation of guns.

Hawaii gets a grade of A- from the Law Center. And, well, wouldn’t you know it, the state has the lowest gun death rate in the U.S. And for those people who still believe that President Obama was not born in America, Hawaii is, indeed, one of the 50 states.

And this is NOT fake news by the way. Facts matter when it comes to determining whether strong gun laws work. And they do. States that have strong gun laws generally have lower gun death rates.

It would really be hard to imagine someone carrying a loaded gun around in their swim trunks or bikini, right? And when jumping into the pool, leaving the gun sit around in a purse or a holster ripe for the taking? Or on boogie boards or surf boards or paddle boards- who needs a gun? The sun and the waves call people to the sea and relaxation. Whale watching, fishing, snorkeling, horseback riding, viewing the volcano-no need for a gun.

I suppose there might be some idiot who thinks he/she needs one in their bathing suit. They could always buy this crotch holster for wearing under their suits and shorts. Looks comfortable to me. Or there is the bra holder for a concealed gun. That usually goes well. Also comfortable.

Does anyone remember when this happened?

A Michigan woman accidentally shot herself to death last month while adjusting the .22-caliber revolver in her bra holster, police said Wednesday.

Christina Bond, 55, was struck in an eye in her St. Joseph home on New Year’s Day. She died the next day in a Kalamazoo hospital, where she had been airlifted.

“She was having trouble adjusting her bra holster, couldn’t get it to fit the way she wanted it to,” St. Joseph Public Safety Director Mark Clapp told the Kalamazoo Gazette. “She was looking down at it and accidentally discharged the weapon.”

Sigh.

She had two children.

Guns are not to be carried everywhere by everyone. Hawaii has that right, thank goodness.

Our main danger could be getting too close to a whale while watching from the boat, or drinking too many Pina Coladas or falling from a hotel balcony, a tsunami,  or even getting in a car accident on the curvy and very busy roads.

The risk of a mass shooting while visiting or getting luggage off of the airport carousel seem nil. Hawaii has not had a mass shooting since 1999 after which the state legislature passed a law requiring doctors to reveal mental status of people buying guns.

What a novel idea. It is still in existence today.

I will be happy to be visiting a state that has common sense when it comes to guns and gun policy. If only others would follow suit. But then, others have lapdog politicians doing the bidding of the gun lobby.

 

Guns in airports- the new normal?

Sanity Insanity Means Health Care And AdvertisementAs it turns out 44 states allow permit holders to carry guns in the common unsecured areas at airports across the country. Coincidentally, Florida is not one of them. But that didn’t factor into the mass shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport yesterday.

I have been wondering ,since I assume the gun lobby reaction might be this-would someone with a loaded gun, assuming they had not been on a flight because guns are not allowed for passengers traveling on planes, had stopped the shooter? Very doubtful. As we have seen now after watching many videos and hearing from travelers, panic and chaos ensued. People ran, abandoning their luggage, wherever they could to save themselves from being shot. They ended on the tarmac, parking areas, hiding behind cars or luggage. They grabbed their children, their mothers, their friends and ran. That is the first response to an active shooter. Keep yourself and your family from being shot.

Adding one more person with a gun to the mix of panic and chaos would have assured even more confusion and possibly more deaths and injuries.

5 people are dead and 8 injured by bullets. Others were injured in the rush to escape. More families are grieving. More families are worried at the sides of hospital beds. More people affected by gun violence in America.

Minnesotans were affected by this shooting. Names of the victims have not been released yet. But we have heard from Minnesotans who were on the Delta flight that began in Anchorage, Alaska. They witnessed the shooting and the death and the chaos. Some were going on a cruise to take advantage of warmer weather during this frigid Minnesota January. Their cruise will now be different than they intended. Why?

Gun violence has a ripple effect. Those who were at that baggage claim area witnessed people dying after being shot in the head point blank. One man said he smelled the smoke from the bullets fired and thought the shooter was just behind him. He will never forget that. Some passengers spent hours on the tarmac or sheltered in place. Some passengers spent hours on planes parked on the tarmac.

Those at the baggage claim most likely thought that gun violence would never affect them. But in America, mass shootings happen at least every week and shootings happen every day. 90 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries from homicides, suicides and “accidental” gun discharges.

Gun violence affects more than those directly hit by a bullet and their loved ones and friends. As it turns out, it affects all of us. We watch, horrified, on a regular basis as mass shooting after mass shooting takes place on live TV. The coverage is 24/7. We are all traumatized. Some suffer from PTSD after every one of these events, thinking of their own loved one who was shot in the head or torso and died from the injuries.

Is this the new normal?

Let’s talk about guns at airports. Guns can be packed in checked luggage at U.S. airports. If you intend to do this you must declare that you have a gun packed in your checked luggage. It must be in a hard sided locked case without ammunition which must be separate. The shooter appeared to have grabbed his luggage off the carousel and gone into a bathroom where he unpacked the gun, loaded it and started randomly shooting- reloading twice.

Yes, someone could have walked into that baggage claim area with a loaded gun having parked a car or arrived by taxi and done the same thing. Guns everywhere is the norm in America and people are carrying guns everywhere. That is what the corporate gun lobby has imposed on Americans with the help of the lapdog politicians who believed in the lies and deceptions that more guns make us safer. And what we have is mass shootings in every public place in our country and also, actually more frequently, in private homes all over the country. They occur most often in guns allowed zones as it turns out.

The gun lobby yells that these shootings only happen in gun free zones. In the case of this particular shooting, they are right. But in most cases, they are wrong. Don’t believe them.

On a personal level, my sister’s shooting death happened in a guns allowed zone- a private home where most shootings occur actually.

Because gun carrying has increased with almost every state having passed laws to allow ordinary citizens to carry guns, people do carry their guns around. If they are responsible, they will know where that gun is at all times and make sure it does not fall out of their pants or their purse, etc.  That is why it is so ludicrous that so many airline passengers say they “forgot” they had a gun in their carry-on luggage. I urge you to read this TSA blog for more information.

The TSA reports that in the week between Christmas and Jan. 4th alone, they found 53 guns in carry-ons. In 2015, according to the linked blog above:

Also significant, 2,653 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging more than seven firearms per day. Of those, 2,198 (83 percent)were loaded. Firearms were intercepted at a total of 236 airports; 12 more airports than last year. There was a 20 percent increase in firearm discoveries from 2014’s total of2,212. Pictured are just some of the firearms discovered in 2015.

Wow. They have found many guns with rounds chambered and ready to go. Check out the photos provided on the blog. Grenades? Yes. Why not?

Where is common sense?

If you are a responsible gun owner, you will know where your gun is and you will also know that there are many things that cannot be brought on board airplanes. I travel enough to be very careful about what I take in my carry-ons because I don’t want to be stopped and frisked or have my carry-on luggage searched. It is annoying to me as a traveler when someone takes something they shouldn’t in their carry-ons because it slows the TSA line down and adds to the stress of traveling.

But I am happy that the TSA does such a good job of checking these things. I don’t want people armed on my flights nor do I want a grenade to go off on my flight. Remember that this happened after the terror attack of 9/11 to keep us safe. And yet, more people are terrorized by gun violence in a few weeks time than died in the attacks of 9/11. And, for goodness sake, more toddlers kill people with guns left for them to access by an adult than terrorists.

Insanity.

All of this is the result of our unique and deadly gun culture. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can actually prevent and reduce gun violence by enacting stronger laws about the people who buy and carry guns. I saw a recent meme using the gun lobby’s claim that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Yes they do. That is why we need to keep some people from getting their hands on guns.

The shooter at the Ft. Lauderdale airport for example, we now know had some severe mental health problems. He had served in the National Guard and served a year in Iraq. He came back a changed man and even checked himself into a mental facility after telling the FBI in Alaska that he heard voices in his head.He had gone AWOL several times and got a general discharge ( likely for mental health reasons).  And yet, he was able to buy a gun. In Alaska a permit is not required to carry a gun. Good idea?

The shooter had domestic problems with his girlfriend in Alaska where he had lived and was a security guard. There were some misdemeanors on his record.

There has been a report that the shooter was a permit to carry holder. Some of the gun rights folks on Twitter feeds have disputed that. Alaska does not require a permit as such to carry a gun  for anyone over 21 who can legally possess a firearm so most likely the shooter could carry that gun, permit or not. No training requirements or classes required. Just carry a gun if you over 21.

Does this shooter look like someone who should be able to buy and carry a gun?

We can do something about this. The shooter’s family knew about his difficulties and mental health problems. There is a life saving measure that is called Gun Violence Restraining Order or Gun Violence Protective Order. Several states have passed such laws. In Minnesota it has been proposed but the legislature refused to hear it and take a vote.

The shooter’s guns could have been removed from his possession temporarily under a law like this and his name could have been placed on the list of prohibited purchasers through our FBI’s national instant check system. Of course, we also need to require that every gun purchase go through a Brady background check in order to fully save lives. Why? Because the NICS list is only for federally licensed firearms dealers. Private sellers do not have to require life saving background checks.

If we can save lives, why would we not? Do we really want those who are dangerously mentally ill carrying guns around in public places and shooting innocent Americans? If not, why do legislators refuse to hear bills that could prevent this?

We have a choice. Insanity or sanity. I know what I choose.

Ask your elected leaders to save lives. If they refuse to vote on this life saving measure, ask them why? They must be held accountable for refusing to consider options that could potentially save innocent lives.

What is normal shouldn’t be. In this year when a President who is turning everything upside down under the guise of shaking things up, we are experiencing abnormal behavior. We can’t normalize it because it could be dangerous for our democracy. Just as we can’t normalize gun violence and pretend we can’t do a thing about it.

Ask President-elect Trump if he has more than thoughts and prayers after mass shootings. He will be faced with as many, if not more, than President Obama faced during his 8 years in office. That is reality, not fiction. Tweeting about it is not enough Mr. Trump. Do something and stop tweeting.

But please do remember that the gun lobby supported President elect Trump by giving him tons of money and he owes them now. That’s called “draining the swamp” er uh……

President Obama’s response to this latest one at least mentioned the number of mass shootings we endure in our country:

“We’re heartbroken for families who have been affected,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

The president commented on the frequency of mass shootings in the US saying, “These tragedies have happened too often during the eight years that I’ve been president.

In an interview published by the BBC in 2015, Obama called the rise in mass shootings during his presidency his biggest frustration.

And yes, those of us working on gun violence prevention comment after tragedies such as the Ft. Lauderdale shooting and take criticism for “using” a tragedy to further our agenda. What? There is not a day  when we don’t have gun violence. Mass shootings are so frequent that if we wait until a different time we will never be able to talk about gun violence. And that is the agenda of the gun lobby and it’s minions. They don’t want us to talk about gun tragedies and gun deaths. This does not fit into their own scenario that guns make us safer. And so they try to stop us.

We will not be stopped.

My agenda is saving lives and living in a sane country. What’s yours?

So we will write and talk about the inconvenience of gun deaths, mass shootings, suicides, domestic homicides, toddlers killing people in increasing numbers, guns found in carry-on bags, irresponsible gun owners, the effects of weak gun laws and whatever it takes to save lives. For if even one life is saved by our “agenda” we will have accomplished something important.

What we want is action- not thoughts and prayers. Check out the images below that were posted on Twitter feeds and Facebook yesterday.

garbage-truck

screenshot-2017-01-07-08-17-29

Time for questions

3d person decide problemI have some questions. We have some questions. This article was posted right after Thanksgiving wondering about a lunatic tweet with a photo of a Glock in a pumpkin pie posted by a gun lover. Lots of questions were asked but I just picked out these:

8. Is a good pie with a gun the only way to stop a bad pie?

9. Who at the Glock corporation comprehended and approved of this and what state of mind were they in? Related: Who gets a job in social media at Glock?

10. Is the Glock corporation endorsing its products being used in baking, here?

11. What sort of statement, if any, is this pie trying to make? What does the Glock corporation imagine it says about its brand?

Good questions.

Also, where were all of those law abiding gun owners when bullets started flying at 4 different malls on Black Friday? Would the results have been different if someone with a gun got involved to save the day?  In fact, some of those shooting the bullets were ostensibly “law abiding” gun owners. Why does this keep happening? It wasn’t happening like this a few decades ago. But then the gun lobby decided that sales of guns needed to be boosted in order for the industry to stay in business and profit. When sales fell due to declining interest in hunting sports, they got busy and convinced lapdog politicians to do their bidding in state after state. The result?

….laws that allow people to carry guns into almost all of our public places and sometimes without even as much as one familiarity with a deadly weapon or any permitting to make sure the carrier isn’t a felon or domestic abuser or someone else who shouldn’t be allowed to own, let alone carry a deadly weapon around.

One more mass shooting happened in New Orleans leaving one dead and nine injured:

Two men were arrested at the scene on gun possession charges, including one man who was wounded in the shooting. The second arrested man “perhaps may or may not be affiliated with this event,” Harrison said.

If people were armed and not involved as a shooter, why didn’t they save everyone else? One of them was injured in spite of being armed. More information will let us know if these armed folks were “law abiding” gun carriers carrying their guns for self protection.

And just today, an incident at Ohio State University, at first reported as a campus shooting, turned out to be some sort of alleged planned attack. There were knives and a car involved. Gunshots were reported heard on campus which, as it turns out, were likely law enforcement responding to the incident and shooting the attacker. Law enforcement responded quickly with their guns to handle the situation. No armed students needed.

But when shots are heard on American college campuses it is assumed that there is a student with a gun determined to shoot up people on campus because that is how we roll in America. Of course an alert was issued about a mass shooter letting students know that the campus was on lock-down. Of course it was.

But this week there will be hearings in the Ohio legislature to allow students to carry loaded guns around on campus. Why? Because the gun lobby has convinced some that an armed society is a polite society and more guns will make us safer. Why? To increase gun sales, of course.

And I am guessing, the gun lobby will deceptively pronounce that if only students had been allowed to carry guns at Ohio State, someone would have been in exactly the right place at the right time to stop the incident. Why is it assumed that a student would know exactly what to do when law enforcement was already at the scene to take care of the incident? And why wouldn’t law enforcement believe that another armed student would be a suspect?

Ohio Ceasefire has this to say about the bill:

This proposed expansion of hidden, loaded weapons will do nothing to improve Ohioan’s safety or reduce gun violence, and will only serve to further normalize the presence of weapons in public spaces, furthering the interests of individuals and companies who profit from the sale of these dangerous weapons.

Only in America.

And then there is the notion that military assault style weapons like AR-15s are good to have around the house for self protection. Instead, this happened in Proctor, Minnesota near to my home town:

A 40-year-old man is in custody after allegedly firing shots from a rifle during a domestic dispute Saturday evening in Proctor, according to the Proctor Police Department.

Sigh.

One more question ( for now)- why are there a regular number of “accidental” gun discharges at gun shows? A gun “discharged” at a Montana gun show where loaded guns are not allowed. This lends the lie to the ridiculous notion that guns don’t kill people, people do. In this case, no one was killed but 2 were injured. Did someone pull the trigger or did the gun discharge on its’ own?

No charges filed? Why not? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to file charges when someone endangers the lives of others by being stupid and dangerous with a deadly weapon? How do guns discharge on their own- or do they discharge on their own?

Why are we not doing the research into the causes and effects of gun violence and the role of guns and gun violence in America? That one can be partially answered by blaming the NRA for getting their lapdogs in Congress to ban this important and potentially life saving federal and state research.

And considering that we are coming off of and immersed in an interesting and tumultuous and disconcerting election and post election period, there are questions about the relationship of the NRA ( and gun lobby in general) to President-elect Trump and the media attacks. Why is the NRA so concerned about Trump continuing his attacks against the media? What is their interest in this? Does it have anything to do with guns and gun rights or is this about the “alt right” view of the country? From the article:

There seem to be no lengths to which NRATV won’t go to defend Trump. For example, during the show’s October 27 broadcast, Stinchfield attacked the media for covering numerous sexual assault allegationsagainst Trump, saying outlets should instead have been reporting on people who used guns in self-defense.

Like Trump, the NRA frequently pushes the talking point that the press is in cahoots with so-called global elites who are trying to take guns away from ordinary Americans. Most recently, the group’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, railed against the media in a post-election message where he claimed that “the disgraceful media attempted to manipulate” Trump supporters’ “emotions.” In another representative example of the NRA’s attacks on the press, LaPierre told attendees at a 2014 conservative gathering that the press is one of America’s “greatest threats” and said, “NRA members will never, and I mean never, submit or surrender to the national media.”

This is more than interesting. It should be of concern to the free press and our democracy. We can’t have an organization as well funded and influential as the NRA making these kinds of statements to stifle the press and deceive the public. Measures to save lives by preventing at least some of the daily shootings in America depend on facts, reporting of the facts and holding our leaders accountable. Why should an organization like the NRA have any more influence than any other organization? Why will our President-elect listen to the NRA?

If we don’t ask and then answer these questions, the daily carnage will continue unabated. It is incumbent upon the public and our elected leaders to figure this out if they want to truly deal with our national public health and safety epidemic of gun violence.

Where is common sense?

 

Bleak Friday

Basic RGB(Apologies for the formatting. Something went wrong with WordPress while posting.)

Yes, America, we just finished what is supposed to be a peaceful family holiday. As for me, it was one of the better Thanksgivings we have had. Our cabin has become the gathering place for our family so everyone converged in our small place for the holiday week-end. We managed to cook the dinner in our small kitchen and it was one of the best and tastiest yet. There were no arguments- no violence. Laughter, kids sliding and playing outside in the snow and memory making times.

Black Friday is here. Shopping has begun and deals are happening all over the internet and in stores. Americans love deals on things. The holidays are officially upon us, like it or not. As I wrote in my last post, the holidays mean something very different to victims and survivors of gun violence. Just as with any disease or accidental death, the unexpected loss of a loved one is very difficult at holiday times. Since my focus here is on gun safety reform and gun violence prevention, I write about the loss of loved ones in violent, often preventable deaths due to shootings.

And as we know, shootings don’t take a holidays. This year was no exception. In Kentucky, 2 were shot dead at a football game :

Gunfire erupted at an annual Thanksgiving Day football game in Kentucky, leaving two dead and four others wounded, Louisville Metro Police said Thursday.

A West Virginia man shot and killed a teen for bumping into him:

William Ronald Pulliam appeared unrepentant after fatally shooting a teenager during a confrontation outside a West Virginia discount store.

“The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street,” Pulliam allegedly told police, according to a criminal complaint.
But the 62-year-old man, in a jailhouse interview with CNN affiliate WCHS, categorically denied making that statement. He said he feared for his life when 15-year-old James Means allegedly pulled a gun on him. The complaint did not say Means had a gun.
This is “Stand Your Ground” on steroids. Without that gun, the teen would be alive today. Tell me again that more guns have made us safer and that an armed society is a polite society. These are lies perpetrated by the corporate gun lobby and their lackeys in Congress and our legislatures. A teen should not be dead over unsupported fear that he had a gun.

The incident began about 6 p.m. on Thursday. Local news station KOLO reported that “there was apparently a dispute over a parking spot” and said police characterized the shooting as a road rage incident.

Reno Police said two vehicles stopped near the exit of the parking lot, The Associated Press reported. It said: “Police said both persons involved were armed with weapons and a 33-year-old man was shot dead at the scene.”

 So much for “responsible” gun toting Americans with permits to carry.
Of course it makes no common sense but that is not what is driving our gun culture. Because if we practiced common sense, these kinds of shootings would be much more rare.
The Twin Cities area of Minnesota also saw 2 shootings right before the Thanksgiving holiday. One man was shot  and killed in his home and a woman was shot and injured in her workplace by her ex-husband. One was a domestic shooting which occur regularly in our country of guns. The other has not yet been determined but it appears that the victim may have been known by his shooter.
There are more that I likely missed or just did not report. About 80 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries.
So what should we do? Just let these kinds of shootings happen without making the slightest attempt to prevent them? Or without doing any meaningful and scientific research into the causes and effects of gun violence? Or without trying to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them?
Just because shootings have not yet affected you does mean that one day, you or someone you know or love could be a victim of a senseless and avoidable shooting. That means that you should be joining in efforts to prevent and reduce gun violence of all kinds- whether homicide, suicide, terrorism, or “accidental”.
It doesn’t have to be like this. The only reason it is is because as a country, we have let the corporate gun lobby and its lapdogs in Congress and legislatures have their way. Lies, deception, fear, paranoia and profits have kept us from saving lives. And we disagree on how that plays out in our everyday lives.
As it turns out, guns are deadly weapons and are dangerous products sold without proper vetting in too many cases and without any training required. The gun lobby has succeeded in getting some of us to think it’s OK for people with no training whatsoever or going through a permitting process to carry loaded guns on our streets.  The gun industry and lobby has convinced some of their lapdogs and members/minions that the shooting of 20 first graders and 6 educators was not enough to change our gun policy. Even the shooting of one of their own, Gabby Giffords, was not enough for Congress to act. I guess it wasn’t enough that 12 people were shot and killed at a Colorado movie theater or that 49 were killed at a GLBT nightclub and ……..
When is enough? What is enough?
It’s a bleak America if you really think hard about this.
And if we believe that President-elect Trump is going to drain the swamp of industry profits at the cost of human lives and lobbyist influence on our Congress and legislators, then I have a bridge to see you in Brooklyn. The NRA spent a lot of money to get him elected and if we think that won’t produce good results for them, we are dreaming. The interesting thing is that the opposite effect may be the result of Trump’s election. Minorities are now buying more guns to ostensibly protect themselves from the potential for more racism and acts of violence, hate crimes or intolerance towards them:

Scott, an African-American, is one of many minorities who have been flocking to gun stores to protect themselves, afraid Trump’s victory will incite more hate crimes.

“You feel that racists now feel like they can attack us just because the president is doing it,” Earl Curtis, the owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Virginia, told NBC News.

Gun store owners told NBC News that since November 8 they’re seeing up to four times as many black and minority customers — and black gun groups are reporting double the normal number of attendees at their meetings since the election.

This proliferation of weapons is just not good for America. It is a vicious circle that leads not to self protection but to more gun incidents and more injuries and deaths. We know that more guns has not led to fewer gun deaths but more. 
Back to the gun lobby, in this new article in The Trace, we see how the NRA actually cleverly and deceptively has worked for decades to make sure someone like Trump got elected. Sociologist and writer, Scott Meltzer, is interviewed for this article. Let’s take a look fat his observations from the linked article:

Yeah, I think the really interesting dynamic that the NRA has in its rhetoric and its language is that it frames itself and its members as victims of this culture war that’s removing guns and giving special rights to women and people of color and gays and lesbians. Its members are the new minority, they’re the new victims.

The flip side for the NRA is that it also frames its members as heroes, as freedom fighters. The group labels itself as the oldest civil rights organization in the country. It’s essentially a religion, it’s a faith. It’s a fundamental belief system, it’s the religion of freedom — that they have to literally fight ’til the death. That’s what Heston was saying with “from my cold, dead hands,” right? There are not a lot of other single-issue interest groups that would use that kind of rhetoric.

That kind of rhetoric is not based on fact but on raw emotion, fear, power, and loss of control. I get it that many good Americans own guns for hunting and self protection but again, most Americans have not bought into this kind of rhetoric and do understand that gun owning, gun rights and reasonable restrictions on guns and gun owners are not mutually exclusive.  It is because we want to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our families safe that we can agree on this. But what that means seems to be where we can’t meet in the middle. If this is about culture, it is essential that we are talking about the risk of guns and ways to prevent people from getting shot.
#Enough. Let’s get to work to change the conversation, the culture and policy so we can protect our children and families from devastating gun violence.

Election day violence?

voteThis post has been edited since first posted.

 

Will we have violence in the Nov. 8th election? If we do, it will be a first. But then, in this election almost everything is a first. For starters, an Arkansas Republican Trump supporting “poll watcher” told voters to go home while standing in front of a polling place. This guy is a gun toting man who has used his gun to threaten before. From the article:

Burks and many Arkansas Democrats want Soffer removed from the country election commission, however, the latest flap is just the most recent in a long list of complaints involving the 74-year-old Republican.

After Soffer brandished a loaded gun at a meeting in April, Democrats have tried to have him removed from the election commission. Webb appointed Soffer to a second 4-year term on the commission in June.

Let’s get this straight- this man was reappointed to the election commission.

Sigh.

Last night, there was a kerfuffle at a Trump rally in Reno, Nevada. Let’s take a look at what happened and what Trump and his supporters said happened- two different things as it turns out:

The man whose protest saw Donald Trump rushed off the stage by Secret Service agents has said the Republican nominee’s supporters turned on him when he held up a sign reading: “Republicans against Trump”.

The man, who identified himself as Austyn Crites from Reno, told the Guardian he was holding the sign at a rally when Trump supporters wrestled him to the ground.

The 33-year-old – who says he has been a registered Republican for about six years – said he was kicked, punched and choked, and feared for his life when the crowd turned on him at the gathering in Reno, Nevada.  (…)

Crites said when he was on the ground he heard someone yell “something about a gun” and he kept telling those on top of him that he had merely been holding a sign.

He was unaware, until the Guardian told him, that Trump had been ushered from the stage amid the mayhem.

For his part, Crites said he felt relieved when police arrived and placed him in handcuffs, but said officers had to fend off Trump supporters who continued to attack him. “As I was taken from the room, people are just looking at me like I’m a demon,” he said.

He said he was taken to the back of the auditorium, searched, subjected to a background check and then swiftly released.

Of course, if there is an actual threat with a gun that must be taken seriously. Why someone in the crowd thought there was a gun is still a question. The Secret Service did the right thing and thankfully Donald Trump is safe.

But then came the inevitable false and dangerous tweets began by Trump’s campaign with lies spewed that Trump was the victim of an assassination attempt:

But amid the chaos, some people seemed sure. Within minutes, at least two top Trump campaign voices — Donald Trump Jr., and top social media aide Dan Scavino — passed along unsubstantiated claims that the GOP nominee had just survived an “assassination attempt.” (…)  Someone on the scene had shouted that there was a gun. But there wasn’t, as the Secret Service soon confirmed.

Deplorable.

The implication and actual tweet that the incident involved a Hillary supporter is false. The man who was ushered out of the rally is a Republican who fears what a Donald Trump presidency would be for our country.

But never mind. This election has produced one candidate who says anything that pops into his head, lies on the stump and invokes rhetoric that gets the crowd chanting: “Lock her up.” The fact that so many people believe this is OK is what we ought to be frightened about as Americans. Trump may have been right when he said that he could step out onto 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose his support.:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,”

No candidate for election to the office of President of the United States has said anything even remotely similar to this.

Lying just invokes more fear and hyperbolic rhetoric. Some Americans have been riled up to the point of being in a frenzy for the past year with dangerous rhetoric like this. We don’t know whether someone unhinged or so angered after listening to these lies will take action.

But can we talk about the instigation of violence at Trump rallies? We have not seen this before in American elections. It is simply not OK. Talk is one thing but some supporters are also talking about using guns on election day and after the election if Trump does not win. This is not how we do democracy in America. I wrote about this in my last two posts.

This is deplorable and an American tragedy. We can’t accept talk of violence during our democratic elections. It’s not who we are. We should not sit by and let it happen and we need to demand that our media and our elected officials condemn the lies and fear mongering.

The Brady Campaign is asking for people to renounce violence in the election:

Supporters of the Brady Campaign are once again calling on Donald Trump and the RNC to renounce similar threats of violence and disavow those like Richard Burr who spew such hateful rhetoric.

Brady president Dan Gross said, “Americans are fed up with the vile and dangerous talk of political violence coming from Republicans on the campaign trail. And they’re scared of what might happen on election day, even cancelling class at schools with polling places over fear of violence.  (…) “In this country, we settle our political differences with ballots, not bullets or bombs. We debate our opponents on the issues; we don’t call for their assassination when we’re behind in the polls. Every day Trump and the Republican Party fail to renounce hateful and violent rhetoric, they encourage deadly violence.”

#Enough.

There’s something else you can if you see people with guns at polling places. You can text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990.:

According to The Washington Post, “many election officials across the country are, for the very first time, bracing for intimidation or even violence on Election Day,” and these fears are compounded given that “most states have no laws regarding guns in polling places.”

Under federal law it is illegal to intimidate people trying to vote with guns or by other means. (…)

Voters who text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990 will receive information on a national voter protection hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) operated by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Appropriate reports will be passed on to law enforcement and election officials, and voters will have the opportunity, if they feel safe doing so, to share photos of voter intimidation on social media.

The project’s launch comes as several disturbing news reports raise the prospect of people carrying guns at the polls and engaging in other instances of possible voter intimidation — including calls from racist far-right  media outlets for an “army” of white nationalists to “watch” the polls:

Yikes.

Common sense about threats of violence and use of guns to intimidate voters may not prevail in this election cycle.

In addition to violent threats and rhetoric, there are other voter intimidation schemes coming from the Republicans who are quick to intimate that the election may be rigged and the outcome will be illegitimate. But the real threat is their own ugly and un-American attempts to suppress the vote. Courts are ruling agains these schemes but the damage has already  been done in many states.

On Tuesday we will find out how many “law abiding” gun permit holders show up at the polls to intimidate people. Yes, I said intimidate. Most people understand that openly carrying a gun at a polling place is akin to intimidation- that is how they feel regardless of whether that person has a permit or is actually a legal permit holder.  And remember that in many states permitless carry is allowed so a person carrying may not be so law abiding after all. If someone feels intimidated by an armed guy at a polling place, then it is intimidation.  This is the result of our American gun culture loosening laws to allow this to happen. But in this particular hyperbolic election with threats of violence being real and promoted by one party and its’ candidate, we have to take this seriously.

Take a look at what happened at a Virginia polling place:

A man wearing a Donald Trump shirt and carrying a weapon stood outside a voting location in Loudoun County, Virginia, on Friday. Authorities in the nation’s richest county are apparently OK with that.

Erika Cotti encountered the man when she went to vote at the county’s registrar’s office, she told The Huffington Post. Virginia doesn’t have early voting per se, but voters can cast in-person absentee ballots for a host of reasons, like if they’re going to be out of the county or city on Election Day.

“I had my 9-year-old son with me. I felt intimidated,” Cotti said. “And I had to explain to my 9-year-old why a man with a 357 magnum is standing outside the polling station.”

Cotti said the man offered her a Republican sample ballot, which she declined.

“He’s like, ‘Who are you going to vote for, crooked Hillary?’ And I was like, that’s really none of your business,” Cotti said, adding that the man was standing in the sidewalk outside of the office when they left and blocking their path.

This is not OK and it is intimidation. This is not what we do in America to get people to vote, or not to vote, as the case may be.

This is not the America we deserve. It’s time to stand up for common sense and the right of every American who is qualified to vote to be able to vote. In this country we don’t vote with our guns. We vote our conscience and hopefully armed with the facts about the candidates. No one can stop you from your right to vote. And most especially not armed vigilantes.

I am very concerned about Tuesday’s election- not just because I fear a Donald Trump win but because I fear that we will see violence.

We are better than this.

UPDATE:

I just read this Media Matters article featuring a new ad for Donald Trump about second amendment rights with none other than NRA Board member Ted Nugent:

A new advertisement from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign about hunting and the Second Amendment features National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who claims Hillary Clinton “will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American.” Earlier this year, Nugent called for Clinton to be hanged for treason.

The eight-minute video features other conservative media figures including Fox News host Sean Hannity, frequent Fox News guest and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, and Mark Geist, the co-author of 13 Hours, about the 2012 attacks on American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

Insanity. Donald Trump has embraced the inflammatory rhetoric of an unhinged former musician whose offensive and threatening rhetoric has been known for years. And yet,  the NRA keeps him on their Board and Donald Trump thinks this is OK.

NOT.

Idiots trying to get on planes with guns

Red metal luggage for travelReally, you can’t make this stuff up. The week before my friends and I traveled home from our trip to Italy, the TSA posted this blog post. Read it and tell me that we are a sane country. Let’s consider this ( from the post):

TSA discovered 75 firearms this week in carry-on bags around the nation. Of the75 firearms discovered, 66 were loaded and 25 had a round chambered. All of the firearms pictured were discovered in the last week

OK. Having just traveled abroad and carefully packed my checked luggage and my carry-ons knowing the “rules of the road”, I know that this is not just carelessness. It is insanity and stupidity. Everyone knows how carefully all bags are checked and re-checked. Everyone knows that liquids have to be 3 ounces or less and placed in a small plastic baggie. No knives. No guns. No sharp objects. Knowingly packing a loaded gun with a round in the chamber is sheer irresponsibility. Where are those “law abiding gun owners” who got their legal permits to carry?

Does anyone remember September 11, 2001 after which everything changed about traveling on planes?

Simply put- our laws are too loose and too many people who shouldn’t have guns in public places get them anyway thanks to our loose gun laws that the corporate gun lobby is trying, and succeeding in some states, to make them even looser- because…. rights.

In America all of this is allowed and legal.

Sigh.

Where is common sense anyway?

Remember in my last post when I mentioned the Italian tour guide who thought our country was crazy for not passing stronger gun laws?  He is right. I doubt that the check points at Italian and European airports find guns in carry-on bags. The laws are strong and don’t allow anyone who does not have a very good reason to carry a gun in public to carry one. Therefore, the chances that someone would try to check a loaded gun onto a plane are slim.

In my opinion one of the worst things to happen in America is the passage of laws that allow any idiot to carry loaded guns around with them in their pockets, purses, carry-ons, backpacks, on their shoulders or holsters on their waistbands or on their legs or even in their bras. I have written many times about intentional and unintentional shootings of guns in public when they drop out of pockets, when purses are dropped to the ground, when a toddler finds a loaded gun in his mother’s purse and kills her with it, when a woman with a gun in her bra “accidentally” shoots and kills herself with said gun…. The list goes on and on.

This is the American gun culture we have. It is not the American gun culture we need to accept. Until our elected leaders stop listening to the false claims of the corporate gun lobby that more guns will make us safer, we will be stuck with the current situation. Guns were not found in carry-in luggage previous to the passage of gun carry laws. Anyone who thinks they can get away with carrying a gun onto a plane shouldn’t be traveling with the rest of us. And anyone who claims it was a mistake or that they forgot shouldn’t get a permit to carry a deadly weapon around with them.

This is insanity. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s past time to pressure our leaders to make changes to our laws to keep us all safe from stupid and dangerous people with guns. Guns are not needed everywhere. Guns are dangerous on planes for obvious reasons.

Happy travels everyone.

Gunned down in America

Super Bald Eagle Character - 2America- the land of the free and home of the brave. Also the country of guns, guns, guns. The last few weeks have given us another full frontal view of what it means to “bear arms” in a country with almost as many guns as people. So here are just a few of the things that have happened that we need to think about:

So let’s review. Fewer Americans own the majority of guns in the land of the free. People are open carrying these guns in small numbers but have managed to pass laws to allow people without proper vetting to carry guns in public. And in states where standing your ground is considered to be brave, if a shooting should happen while the “law abiding” shooter claims self defense the shooter does not have to face the usual legal process for killing someone.

More mass shootings happen in the land of the free and home of the brave than in any other country and they have increased in frequency. Some lawmakers are willing to sacrifice common sense for their adherence to a powerful gun lobby that represents a distinct minority of Americans. Follow the money. Conceal and open carry laws allow for the proliferation of guns on our streets and in our neighborhood public places. And we have learned from a study cited in an article above that people who own and carry guns do so in fear of other people. Law enforcement officers can’t tell “good guys” with guns from “bad guys” with guns. And are black men legally carrying guns more likely to be deemed “bad guys” with guns than white guys with guns? I’m just asking.

“Law abiding” gun owners are not locking their guns safely away from being stolen by those who shouldn’t be able to get their hands on guns. We don’t pass laws that include mandatory reporting of lost and stolen guns and we have no laws requiring that guns be locked securely away from ammunition. Guns make it to the streets and the illegal market when they are stolen. Of course the fact that we allow those very same people who are deemed to be prohibited purchasers at a federally licensed firearms dealer to buy those very same guns from private sellers on-line or at gun shows and flea markets is ludicrous and dangerous.

We are free to own and carry guns in America. But we should be free from devastating gun violence as well. We don’t have to sit by and let this happen. The corporate gun lobby, through it’s lapdogs in Congress,  has suppressed research about the causes and effects of gun violence. Luckily for the brave amongst us, there are non-government researchers who are showing us the real problem with guns. They are a risk to those who own and carry them and become a risk to other innocent people as a result. We know, thanks to research and surveys done by credible sources, that fewer Americans own guns but own a lot of them on average. That being the case, how do we get our elected leaders to stop bowing to a very well funded and vocal lobby which represents mostly themselves and not average gun owners in the land of the free?

Maybe exposing their votes and their acceptance of campaign contributions from the gun lobby will help. The Brady Campaign has released a new lapdog scorecard showing who are the lapdogs for the gun lobby in Congress. Check it out. You can click on your own state and find out. The thing is, the majority of Americans, gun owners or not, and even NRA members, support strengthening our gun laws. If this is the land of the free and home of the brave, the brave need to speak out and do the right thing in the name of saving lives.

The model of fear is a bad idea when dealing with deadly weapons. Some in our country have ramped up fear of others, fear of those who don’t look like us, fear of shadows lurking in every corner awaiting a chance to get us. If you don’t believe me, you can look at this new campaign ad made by the NRA about why gun owners should fear Hillary Clinton and vote for Donald Trump. It’s another big lie but it gets people to the gun stores. Follow the money.

Fear is not a good way to make laws and change the conversation. It is counter productive and leads us to fear the wrong things. Why are we not fearful that just about anyone can gain access to a deadly weapon and carry it around in public or use it for bad intentions? Why are we not concerned that those on a no-fly list are not on the no-buy list for guns? Though not a perfect solution, it sure seems like we ought to be able to stop at least some dangerous people from being to get guns.

If you think all of this is insane, please get involved to make the changes we all deserve. That would be changes to gun laws to make them stronger so we can prevent some of the daily carnage. It also means changing the conversation to make people think twice about whether or not a gun for self defense makes sense for them. And if it does, at the least, make sure these folks have good training in using a deadly weapon designed to kill other people and have the common sense to lock up their guns unloaded to avoid stolen guns or someone, like a child or teen, accessing the gun. And make darned sure that dangerous people or those who could become dangerous to themselves or others either can’t get guns or have them removed until the danger is over or permanently, whichever happens first.

We have work to do. But we also have to counter erroneous claims by the corporate gun lobby that have become common talking points in our country. If we are the land of the free and home of the brave, we need to be brave enough to stand up for the truth and against those whose claims about freedom do not reflect reality.