A summit of gun violence prevention leaders and advocates

There are so many things to talk about.

I have just made a trip to Washington D.C. for the joint Brady Campaign, Americans for Responsible Solutions summit- A Nation United for a Safer Future.  I have been involved in this movement long enough to have met many leaders and victims from all over the country. Many of us met and continued our friendship through the Million Mom March and now Brady Campaign. I also have met and know people involved with Americans for Responsible Solutions. Social media has allowed us all to connect and become friends. Many victims and survivors attended the summit.

Here were just a few of the victims and survivors in attendance.

A mother whose daughter was shot at the Aurora Theater; a mother and father of a young woman reporter shot on live T.V.; a young woman whose mother was shot in the Clackamas Mall shooting just days before the Sandy Hook shooting; a mother and a father whose college students survived the Virginia Tech shooting; a father whose son was shot when a friend was handling a gun; a mother whose 13 year old daughter was shot by a gun stored openly and loaded in the home of a friend; a man whose mother shot and killed herself; the woman who kicked the ammunition away when the Tucson shooter stopped to re-load his gun; a father whose son was shot in the Isla Vista mass shooting; several women whose family members had committed suicide by gun; a woman whose brother was shot and killed many years ago; me- who lost a sister to bullets during a domestic shooting; Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign whose brother was shot and injured in the terror attack on the Empire State Building; a woman who had lost two children to shootings; two women whose children were shot and injured in the Jewish Day Care Center in Los Angeles; a man whose mother was shot and killed when a shooter was looking for someone else and mistakenly shot and killed her and wounded his father…….

Aside from victims and survivors, attendees included law enforcement officers, interested advocates, leaders of national and state organizations, clergy, staff members of the two organizations, politicians, lawyers, health care providers, NAACP leaders, film makers, a founder of the Women’s March, and many others.

Politicians who spoke to and with us:

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly.

Senators Cory Booker, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Connecticut Representative Esty, California Representative Mike Thompson, Rhode Island Representative Dave Cicilline, Representatives Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy from Florida and others.

Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General

Valerie Jarrett, former advisor to President Obama.

But we didn’t just listen and react to these amazing speakers. We took action.

Hundreds of participants lobbied on Capitol Hill and had great visits, “armed” with information about two concerning bills that would make us all less safe if enacted:

H.R. 38- Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 ( Arm Everyone bill). This bill would, if it became law, override steps that states have taken to protect public safety and put citizens at risk. It would leave states with no power to decide who carries hidden loaded guns ( or openly carried) within their own states and communities.

H.R.367- cynically called the Hearing Protection Act. This bill is meant to do what the gun lobby loves- increase sales of accessories to guns ( gun sales are down right now) and attempt to undo the 1934 National Firearms Act which requires individuals who purchase gun silencers and machine guns to undergo strict background checks, fingerprints, payment to register and license the gun/silencer and a waiting period. These regulations work. We just don’t see silencers used in crimes since that act became law. If this bill were to pass, we could expect to see silencers sold without Brady background checks through private seller internet sales and private sellers at gun shows. It also creates threats to law enforcement and would make it more difficult to respond to mass shooters as the sound of gunfire would be muffled and dispersed. There are many items sold to protect hearing while using firearms that make more sense.

Can we just talk about the fact that conceal carry weapons holders DO kill and threaten people with their guns even after going through a permitting process? Read the Violence Policy Center‘s report- Concealed Carry Killers. And can we also talk about the fact that 11 states now allow people to carry guns with no training or permit requirements.?Without a system of universal background checks, these people could be prohibited purchasers who will be allowed to carry their guns everywhere. How will we know the “good guys” with guns from the bad guys with guns? I have not heard an answer that makes any sense. The idea that it’s OK to normalize the carrying of guns everywhere by anyone is not only ludicrous, it is irresponsible and dangerous.

On “The Hill”, we had some great conversations, a chance to thank those who have voted against the gun lobby sponsored bills and who have led the charge and the conversation about the need to prevent gun violence. And we had a few victories when Congress members changed their positions after meeting with our groups of victims and advocates.

The importance of the summit and visits to Capitol Hill cannot be overstated. Advocates who had never attended a summit before were engaged and energized. They now know they can do this. People like me came away re-energized and encouraged that, in spite of the Republicans in charge, the issue of gun violence and the prevention of it has more support than ever before. It’s only Congress (doing the bidding of the corporate gun lobby) who stands in the way of common sense. And while they are doing that, 32,000 Americans ( give or take)- real people- someone’s family member or good friend- are killed by guns. It happens every day.

During the summit we all engaged our minds about legislation, other actions, and changing the conversation about this public health epidemic. There was much to think about and actual incidents that reminded us about why we were there. Among just a few:

Americans continue to die by bullets in alarming numbers. The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of shooting incidents. It’s not pretty.

And here are the reasons people get shot in Aor shoot others from Parents Against Gun Violence::

reasons people shot in April

And ISIS is telling its’ members to buy guns in America because it is so easy:

“The acquisition of firearms can be very simple depending on one’s geographical location,” the article read. “In most U.S. states, anything from a single-shot shotgun all the way up to a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle can be purchased at showrooms or through online sales — by way of private dealers — with no background checks, and without requiring either an ID or a gun license.”

The Rumiyah article specifically touted gun shows where these unregulated sales are often easiest.

And the officer who shot a black teen in Texas was fired and charged with murder. 

And Gander Mountain management bet wrongly on gun sales and lost. (Go figure. When Democrats are in office, the gun lobby scares people into buying guns in high numbers. When Republicans are in charge- no worries.)

“In 2016, at a rate of more than twice a week, a child under 18 years old was shot and killed with a loaded, unsecured gun”. This is from the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance, a new organization that presented information at the summit. One can look up current information of  shootings of and by children on this site. Who cares about the children?

And in just another average day in America, two young people are dead in a murder/suicide at a Texas college campus. Domestic disputes often spill over into public places and also way too often are the cause of mass shootings.

Asking about loaded, unsecured guns in homes can save lives. (ASK campaign)

And a health care bill passed in the House that will leave millions of Americans with no health care and lower taxes on the wealthy.

And those those with mental illness will have easier access to guns than health care.

Gun violence is a public health epidemic.

Many gun deaths and injuries are preventable and avoidable.

If we are to have the serious conversation we need and deserve to have, recognizing that there is a problem in the first place that can actually be fixed, or cured, or prevented or reduced in severity and frequency, is the most important thing we can do. Using some common sense in arguments and discussions will lead to responsible solutions.

On my plane back home from DC were at least a half dozen members of Congress, including my own, anxious to get back home for the recess ( didn’t they just have one?). While waiting to board, I spoke with my own Representative who introduced me to a Senator from a neighboring state- a Republican. We had a good discussion about health care and gun violence. We did not agree on much. But his main reason for being skeptical or against common sense solutions to save lives is one of the gun lobby’s myths. He actually believes that organizations such as the Brady Campaign and Americans for Responsible Solutions are out to get his guns. He is a lapdog for the gun lobby and will do their bidding no matter what anyone says to him.

As long as some of our politicians are in the pocket of the corporate gun lobby, we can expect to see bills that could become law that will actually make us less safe and lead to an increase in gun deaths and injuries. Is there anyone who thinks that is a good idea? The American public agrees that passing strong gun laws is a good idea.

Please make sure your own elected leaders are doing the bidding of the people and not the corporate gun lobby. We can make a difference if our voices are loud and clear about saving lives. For that is the bottom line.

An agenda of lies

flying-monkeysSo, it seems that lies are what will form the policies important to Americans in the new administration. I have cited some of the many myths and lies promoted by the corporate gun lobby, most specifically by Mr. Wayne LaPierre. Now LaPierre has a seat in the White House so he is whispering his lies into the ears of the President and, on that basis, new rules and policies will be issued. They are already starting.

The House voted to overturn an Obama administration order that those on Social Security disability benefits who cannot manage their affairs should not be able to buy guns legally.:

The rule sought to limit the ability of those with mental illness to purchase guns but drew criticism for casting too wide a net and not providing the opportunity for due process. Opponents of the rule, including the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, also said the broad range of reasons that could be used to designate someone for the SSA database include conditions that should not stop a gun purchase.

The question is, do we err on the side of safety or not? Brady background checks save lives. There is a reason for them. There are some people who should not have guns, period. If this is an overreach as some have claimed, why not find a middle ground or a place where safety comes first. The corporate gun lobby is just waiting to roll back all gun safety regulations. Guns everywhere owned and carried by anyone is their alternative fact. It flies in the face of common sense and safety.

But never mind. Common sense is nowhere to be seen and will be nowhere to be seen for years. The public safety and health of our nation’s citizens is at risk. We will not be safer when people who are so disabled, mentally, that they can’t manage their affairs own and carry guns around. In what world does that even compute?

Take my brother, for example. His increasingly fragile health due to Parkinson’s Disease with concomitant mental problems and some dementia, should deem him unsafe with a gun. Luckily his guns are stored at a friend’s home so I will not worry about this as his sister and caretaker. There are days when he mentions suicide. For him, access to a gun would be dangerous to himself and others. His balance is awful, he falls frequently, sometimes he has episodes of hallucinations due to his PTSD and Parkinsons’.

But the gun lobby thinks this is just okey dokey for all of us.

They are wrong but they will get their way. Sadly, that is what things have come to in America. Caring for people’s health and safety finds itself at the bottom of the list of priorities. It’s all about profit and stroking the egos and fund raising of cronies.

In our “new America” anything goes for the gun lobby. They have been drooling about this moment for a long time. This article from The Trace pretty much sums it up:

They’ve become viable because we’ve seen a rightward shift in American politics, generally speaking. Ideas that are viable today would have been seen as far too extreme 20 years ago. The rightwing itself has become far more conservative. There’s all kinds of data on this. Democrats, ideologically, are pretty much where they’ve been over the last 20 years. But Republicans have become far more conservative. That’s part of the reason why Trump won. The gun bills the NRA pushes are part of this larger rightward shift — that, and the never-ending drumbeat from NRA that gun rights are under attack. The inevitable consequence of all the apocalyptic rhetoric is that you continually move toward what would have been considered an extremist agenda in years gone by. Part of the reason the NRA keeps moving in that directions is that it has gotten much of what it wants. The NRA has to keep developing new measures to enact to have a purpose, maintain support, and keep the base motivated.

Follow the money and the influence.

So we have a power hungry President who sows conflict and chaos and owes the gun lobby who sow fear and paranoia. Not a good combination.

People who have narcissistic character disorder, as many ascribe to our new President, use “flying monkeys” to scare the public and intimidate them into believing in their false statements and agendas. A former family member of mine is a narcissist. There is no way to argue with people who exhibit these traits. They are always right even if they are patently wrong and their flying monkeys and sycophants agree and even foment more fear and lying. Blaming the victims and gaslighting are their MO.

We are here now.

Take last night’s appearance by Presidential advisor Kellyann Conway on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews . When asked about the extreme and controversial immigration executive order, her defense, and indeed the reason it was done had to do with a non-existent massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Unfortunately Matthews did not call her out on her bold and blatant lie but others did.

Below is from the Brady Campaign President, Dan Gross:

Conway’s comments were made during an interview on MSNBC during which she also stated, “You just look at what’s happened in Orlando in San Bernardino…and avert your gaze…and look the other way and say ‘eh, things happen.” We agree, which is why, in light of the “Bowling Green Massacre,” we are calling on the administration to take action to keep guns out of dangerous hands, including terrorists. It could start by signing this draft Executive Order.

The draft Executive Order would be based on facts and a willingness to prevent gun violence and save lives. But we know that alternative facts are the name of the game at the White House now. Conway did not get away with her lie. And it’s possible she actually believes that this event occurred which is even more frightening.

Does she (and to Trump’s flying monkeys) know that 33,000 Americans a year are killed by gunshot injuries? Do they know that toddlers kill more people with guns than terrorist? Of course not. Or if they do, either they don’t believe in the truth or they have chosen to ignore it because of their dangerous agenda.

Shouldn’t we be doing something about this urgently? It’s an American tragedy and a public health crisis. Where are the executive orders?

Conway also lied about the Orlando shooter, who she frequently cites as a reason we need draconian immigration rules. The Orlando shooter was born in America. How would extreme vetting at the border have stopped him from shooting up 49 gay people at a nightclub?

Simply put- it is a lie.

Being surrounded by liars, conspiracy theorists  and flying monkeys will lead to destruction from within. Meanwhile, how will the country fare?

It’s going to be a long 4 years, if our President lasts that long. A President who lies and believes in his lies or lies intentionally or lies to protect himself or lies to promote a dangerous agenda will soon be caught with one too many of them.

It’s only been 2 weeks. The nation is suffering from PTSD. And if that is also by design, the meanness and evilness of that is hard to square with a country based on democratic principles and the rule of law.

We are better than this.

 

 

Toddlers and guns

dartgunGuns are not toys. They are deadly weapons designed to kill other human beings. Children sometimes think they are toys or their curiosity about guns, perhaps natural for some reason, can lead them to pick guns up. Children, and especially very young children and toddlers just can’t be taught to be responsible with guns no matter what the gun lobby may say. About 7 children a day die from gunshot injuries in America. And what are we doing about it?

In the last few weeks, a host of articles, PSAs and other information have been released about toddlers and guns and kids and guns. In what other country would anyone even think they had to alert the public to the dangers of toddlers with guns? This is insanity. It’s also dangerous to ignore it but ignore we have.

Let’s start with this article written by Zak Cheney Rice for Mic.com:

According to the Washington Post, our nation’s nurseries are housing more than just unbearable levels of cuteness: Twenty-three people have been shot by toddlers in the U.S. since the start of 2016 — exactly 23 more than have been shot by Muslim terrorists over the same period.

Cheney Rice’s article was written to compare the ugly rhetoric about Muslims during this election in which one Donald Trump has raised the idea that all Muslims should be banned because of course, they are dangerous to Americans. Are they? Sure there have been some recent terror attacks committed by people who happen to be Muslim extremists. But there have also been far more home grown terror attacks committed by Americans who are not Muslim.

So let’s get back to kids, and particularly toddlers with guns. How do toddlers get their hands on guns? Are they dangerous human beings who should be prohibited from guns? Not unless their parents or another adult make them so. For without the adults, toddlers would not be anywhere near loaded guns. So keeping toddlers from getting guns is the responsibility of “law abiding” gun owners.

A new PSA was released on this subject last week. Check it out:

This edgy PSA may be scary and some may say, too much. But you can’t miss the point. A Washington Post article talks about the PSA:

“This PSA is satire,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, said. “But the public health crisis it calls attention to is anything but. Whether the trigger is pulled by a toddler, a convicted felon, domestic abuser, or terrorist, we have a problem in America with guns too easily falling into the wrong hands. And that translates to hundreds of lives lost or changed forever every single day.”

There is so much here to write about that it’s difficult to unpack but this quote from the above linked article refers to yet another article written about this public health epidemic:

Last week, the Associated Press and USA Today released findings from a 2½-year analysis of minors killed by firearms. The study — which looked at accidental shootings involving children ages 17 and younger from Jan. 1, 2014, to June 30 of this year — analyzed more than 1,000 incidents in total, according to USA Today.

So now let’s look at this USA Today article:

The findings: During the first six months of this year, minors died from accidental shootings — at their own hands, or at the hands of other children or adults — at a pace of one every other day, far more than limited federal statistics indicate.

Tragedies like the death of Bryson Mees-Hernandez play out repeatedly across the country. Curious toddlers find unsecured, loaded handguns in their homes and vehicles, and fatally shoot themselves and others. Teenagers, often showing off guns to their friends and siblings, end up shooting them instead.

This is an American tragedy.

Two friends have started a new campaign to call attention to toddlers and children who kill with guns. They are determined to prevent these shootings. The Childrens Firearm Safety Alliance has been launched to find solutions to this under reported epidemic. From the link:

The prevalence of these incidents is astounding, even though we don’t have anything near adequate data on this type of tragedy. Reporting by the Washington Post has found about one shooting by a young child a week in America. This is likely an undercount, as many instances do not make the news unless it’s a parent or a sibling who dies. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention finds that at least six children are injured in an unintentional shooting every day. (…)

A new national initiative announced in mid-October seeks change. The Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance is coordinating physicians, law enforcement, prosecutors, lawmakers and other advocates to look at what can be done nationally through policy work, legislation and education around gun safety.

It has promoted the hashtag #NotAnAccident and propagated this disturbing tidbit: You are more likely to be shot by a U.S. toddler than by a terrorist. The ongoing psychological trauma of these shootings shouldn’t be discounted. What an awful burden it must be for someone to carry through life knowing that, as a young child, he or she took a life or caused serious injury.

Keeping a loaded gun unsecured and within easy reach of a toddler ought to be considered a criminal act of negligence. A portion of the law that was struck down in Heller understood this. It’s time to admit that upholding a person’s right to own a gun doesn’t need to conflict with efforts to keep young children’s tiny hands away from pulling triggers.

Tiny hands can pull triggers.

Others have entered the messaging about toddlers and guns. Gary Younge  who writes for The Guardian, has a new book out about kids who have been shot. I listened to an interview with him yesterday on Minnesota Public Radio. The title of Younge’s book says it all- Another Day in the Death of America. Younge is not writing in general about kids all over the world and guns. He is writing about the particular tragedy of kids and guns in America. While on air yesterday, he made that point. This is not happening in other countries and he should know as he is British. From the linked article:

Samuel is one of the 10 people known to have been killed by guns on 23 November 2013. That’s the day Guardian journalist Gary Younge randomly selected for this book, after which he spent 18 months unearthing the stories that lay behind these young lives and their premature deaths. It is a gripping account that leads the reader through places as disparate as the vast corn and soya fields of Michigan and the killing fields of Chicago, where gunfire is now so common that dogs are said to have stopped barking at it. It’s a journey through a deeply troubled America that will make its reader want to join the author in howling at the moon.

Howling at the moon. Indeed, that is what we all should be doing and in fact many of us have been. But our howls have been ignored by those who could make a difference by passing policies that could prevent some of the shootings and by awakening the country to the problem that is that kids and guns do not go together. The corporate gun lobby would have us believing otherwise which is deceptive at the least and has led to way too many parents and adults thinking a gun in the home will protect them from evil. But the evil is coming from their own guns found by children and used in “accidental” shootings.

Changing the conversation and changing the gun culture to reflect what the majority of Americans actually believe and practice rather than what the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre espouses, would result in fewer gun deaths. Because safely storing guns away from the hands of children and teens will make everyone safer. Because even though telling children not to touch guns is not enough.Because guns are deadly weapons designed to kill and with rights come responsibilities. Because more guns have not made us safer.

But, not to be forgotten, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre has a new warning and more lies for voters just before the election.

Yikes!

Take a look at the fear mongering in the video produced by the NRA and almost total hysteria about guns being taken away and the end of the world, apparently, if that were to happen. It won’t of course but fear sells and that’s the point. More fear for some people equals more gun sales. And more gun sales and more guns in more homes can lead to more small children shooting themselves or other kids ( or even parents).

Good grief.

Nuts.

We simply cannot sit back and let our children’s lives be placed at risk when there are solutions. Even responsible gun owners make mistakes and/or listen to the wrong message about what owning a gun means.

We need to tell the truth about the dangers of loaded guns in our homes.

Parents and adults can do something pro-active about the kids and guns epidemic. One common sense solution is to ASK if there are unlocked, loaded guns where children play. The Brady Campaign’s ASK campaign gives language to parents to have the difficult conversation that could save lives. Asking saves lives.

Also at the Brady Campaign web site, you can find this great report called The Truth about Kids and Guns.

The Trace is also keeping track of kids and guns incidents and other articles concerning gun safety for kids.

Kids can take a pledge to help end gun violence through this Student Pledge to End Gun Violence:

The Student Pledge Against Gun Violence is a national program that honors the role that young people, through their own decisions, can play in reducing gun violence.

Why not get kids involved in decisions that can make them safer?

Everytown for Gun Safety has also been collecting information about child gun deaths and solutions that can prevent the devastating loss of a child to an avoidable death.

The American Public Health Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have been on board with child safety and guns for a long time. Gun violence is a national public health epidemic and needs to be treated as such.

And we can’t forget the years long push by the Children’s Defense Fund to talk about kids and gun violence and the need to prevent our children from dying from gunshot injuries. Their long time slogan- Protect Children Not Guns says it all.

The Gun Violence Archive has become the source that collects the necessary data for us all to understand the American tragedy of gun deaths and injuries. According to their charts, 553 children from 0-11 have died from gunshot injuries in 2016. Teens from 12-17 who have been killed or injured accounts for 2571 incidents. This is stunning and simply unacceptable. The fact that we do accept this without howling says a lot about America.

But the fact that so many are finally uncovering the facts and exposing them can only lead to stronger policy solutions and a change in the conversation. As a result, our kids will be safer from gun deaths and injuries.

If we can’t protect our children from avoidable unintentional, or even intentional, injury and death who are we as a country?

With all of this evidence and research, we know we have a serious problem that must be addressed.

We can do much better and we must do much better if we truly care about the health and safety of our children.

 

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.

 

 

Hate filled gun talk

3d image hate speech issues concept word cloud background

I have been writing this blog for quite a few years now. When I first started writing on my other platform ( commongunsense.com) I didn’t know the nuances of blogging. So I just let people comment as anonymous commenters and comment they did. It took me a while to figure out that I could make sure commenters signed on with their names ( or at least a pseudonym). And I learned to moderate comments.

What I got and what I learned is that there is sub culture of gun rights extremism that includes people who are willing to say, and maybe do, anything in defense of their “God given and inalienable” gun rights. I have been called the worst names possible and demeaned, diminished, attacked, offended and (just a few times) threatened. The people on the other end of those comments must have thought I would give in and change my mind or stop writing or run away scared. I am a woman. That entered in. They thought they could intimidate a little woman who didn’t know what she was talking about.

And these are the (mostly) guys with the guns.

It’s nasty out here in the blogging world. Especially if you dare to challenge the gun rights extremists and their ideas. When I write, I link to websites or articles to defend and corroborate my views and my assertions. It’s not hard to find the hundreds of articles about actual shootings about which I write in my blog. For example, in today’s Star Tribune there is an article about a Fargo, N.D. police officer who was shot and killed yesterday in an alleged domestic incident. But more, from the article, reveals something else:

Todd said he was confident that Schumacher meant to shoot at officers.

“I doubt it was random,” said the chief, somber with a strip of black tape around the badge on his chest, symbol of a fallen colleague. “There was a squad car that was shot up [earlier] in a different location than where Officer Moszer was hit.”

This is disturbing, if true. What is going on when our culture has made things like this possible? Earlier in the article we learn that the man who shot the officer should not have been able to have guns. From the article:

Schumacher has a criminal history that includes a conviction for negligent homicide for the October 1988 shooting of a 17-year-old boy, Maynard Clauthier. Schumacher was sentenced in 1991 to five years in prison, court records show.

There is a serious unaddressed problem in our country. We are making it easy for people like this to get their hands on guns. Anger, hostility, and illegal behavior just do not go with guns. And now a young police officer is senselessly dead. The shooter maybe took his own life but that has not yet been determined. And the people of Fargo, police and law enforcement officers,  family, friends and neighbors ( who were terrified by what was going on in their neighborhood) and the community have suffered the ripple effect of gun violence.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But it is. Back to the topic at hand of the ugliness of the gun culture. Unless you’ve been under a rock, you likely know that the Bundy group was finally arrested in Oregon. Nice bunch of guys, those. From the article:

After repeatedly threatening to shoot himself, complaining that he couldn’t get marijuana, and ranting about UFOs, drone strikes in Pakistan, leaking nuclear plants and the government “chemically mutating people,” the last occupier, David Fry, 27, lit a cigarette, shouted “Hallelujah” and walked out of his barricaded encampment into FBI custody.

Sigh.

And the guy who started some of this nonsense when he refused to pay the government for grazing fees in Nevada, Cliven Bundy himself, has also been finally arrested.

These are the guys with the guns fomenting fear, paranoia, anger and conspiracy theories. They get support from many of the gun lobby groups, most especially the NRA who allows the infamous Ted Nugent to remain on their board of directors in spite of a continual rant of offensive, racist comments and posts on social media. His latest has certainly gone over the line of common decency as if the others didn’t. But when will people like him be marginalized by their own? The NRA must like the dangerous soup brewed up guys like Nugent. Why? Does it lead to more people joining their organization? Or maybe buying more guns to protect themselves from the folks in the cross hairs of Nugent’s rants?

Here is the latest one from the linked article above:

Nugent, an outspoken Second Amendment advocate, posted a photo on Facebook earlier this week calling Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), “Jew York City Mayor Mikey Bloomberg,” former senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, among many others, “punks” who would “deny us the basic human right to self defense and to keep and bear arms while many of them have paid hired armed security.”

The Israeli flag appears over or next to each of the 12 faces in the photo, which is the same one that has been shared many times in white suprema­cist cir­cles, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The post prompted applause from anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups.

Sigh.

One of Nugent’s targets in his post was Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign. Here is his comment about what Nugent did:

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, took aim at Nugent as well after being featured in the Facebook post.

“Ted Nugent’s latest comments go beyond being anti-Semitic — they are ignorant and do nothing but fuel hate,” Gross said in a statement. “Personally, I am repulsed — my brother was shot and seriously wounded in a religiously-motivated mass shooting on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Reasonable people on both sides of the debate recognize Mr. Nugent’s comments for what they are: hate speech and nothing more.”

Is this the kind of country we want? We are more polarized than ever and the rhetoric in the Presidential campaign certainly isn’t helping us work together better for the common good. Common sense seems to be out the window for many folks.

If we truly care about our country and the fact that bullets from guns are taking the lives of way too many Americans, we will come together and work out solutions that make sense. A recent article shows evidence that Americans are dying younger than people in other democratized countries because of guns, drugs and cars. Is this OK with us? Is it OK with us that an 18 year old boy on a hoverboard had a gun and lost his balance, sending a bullet into the head of his 13 year old cousin, killing him?

Is it OK that with us that an American woman is shot every 16 hours by a romantic partner?

We just can’t tolerate what is going on right now. We’ve had #enough of this stupid and dangerous rhetoric which sometimes leads to actual shooting deaths.

We are better than this.

Lies about President Obama’s executive orders

Daily News coverYesterday was an overwhelming and emotional day for people like me who have been working for so long on the issue of preventing senseless gun deaths and injuries. Those of us who have been affected directly by gun violence only want to prevent at least some of the senseless shootings. And what President Obama has done with his executive orders will do just that.

I cannot even describe my feelings adequately for what I consider to be a very bold, emotional, brilliant and amazingly cogent speech by President Obama. The room was filled with people I know personally or through social media. Standing behind the President were people I have met, heard speak at meetings and with whom I have shared stories. I saw Lucy McBath, Daniel Hernandez, Richard Martinez, Mark Barden, Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, Jennifer Pinckney, former Rep. Gabby Giffords and many others who had been affected by mass shootings, domestic shootings, suicides, gang violence. I saw many many advocates who have worked tirelessly to get something done to stop the carnage.

And that is what made me cry. A friend said yesterday, ” Today the President cried. Why aren’t we crying every day?”

crying President

Good question.

While the speech was on TV, I was on BBC radio live talking about the reaction to the speech as a gun violence prevention activist. It was an interesting experience for me to say the least. I was contacted early yesterday morning to ask if I would be on the show World Have Your Say.   It starts about half way through the show. Other participants were a man named Marshall from California and Brian Jeffs from Michigan who co-authored a book titled, “My Parents Open Carry”. Yes, you read that right.

There were several political commentators as well. The BBC and the world was very interested in what the President would have to say and the reaction. Some of my friends were also on different BBC shows, or Australian TV or Al Jazeera. That’s because the world understands that what is going on in America is simply beyond the pale. No other civilized country not at war sees the daily carnage experienced here in America.

While we were live on the BBC program, we listened to President Obama’s speech, also live. I watched on my TV with the mute on so I could also see what was happening.

And so my reaction to the President’s speech was total delight and a sense of relief that finally something was going to happen. This is huge for the gun violence prevention movement no matter what the gun rights extremists want to say about it. The predictable reaction of the gun lobby’s lapdog politicians was on display of the front page of the New York Daily News ( as seen above)

Here are the myths coming from the NRA and gun lobby in a Media Matters article.

While I was on the BBC program yesterday, one of the gun rights activists kept saying that under the new regulations he would not be able to sell a gun to his brother. He is wrong. I have been on 4 conference calls Monday, yesterday and today about the President’s executive orders to better understand them. Today I asked that question of one of President Obama’s staffers who had worked on the orders. Her answer was that unless he sells guns to his brother and then to several of his neighbors and some other folks he knows privately so that he is actually doing business as a seller of firearms, he will not be affected by this.

Also during the BBC program I said that if you are a law abiding gun owner, you would not have to be worried. The BBC tweeted out the meme below with that quote from me (below)

BBC twitter

The gun rights activist on the program really couldn’t answer the BBC show host when she asked him why he is worried if he is law abiding. That is because he likely knows that he, himself, will not be affected by tightening up the laws already on the books. He buys most of his guns from a federally licensed dealer where he has to comply with the regulations and get a background check. He mentioned that sometimes he just likes to get his guns from a private seller. Never mind that he doesn’t need to buy guns this way. So this guy will still be able to buy his guns in spite of what Donald Trump has proclaimed in his response.

What I suggest is that we all have some common sense as even conservative Fox news host Bill O’Reilly has suggested.  The NRA could hardly wait to issue a statement discrediting the President’s comments with the usual talking points that make little sense given what is actually contained in the regulations and orders. Please read the executive orders.

Here is an explanation from Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign on the Bill Press radio show today:

All I know is that we are celebrating because we know that what just happened is huge. This has never been done before. The gun issue is rising to the top of the issues to be discussed in the upcoming Presidential election and down ballot elections. There is much interest. There is also much misinformation- some just from ignorance or not knowing what is in the orders. Other is purposeful deception and disinformation combined with the usual fear and paranoia.

I look forward to the discussion in 2016 and to the melt down of the gun rights folks and corporate gun lobby as more and more people come on board with the idea that we can actually do something to prevent some gun deaths and injuries. Gun owners and NRA current and former members are coming on board now. Check out this CNN interview with Mark Carmen who is a Republican gun owner and never voted for President Obama. He is also a veteran and a former police officer. Mark knows what he is talking about and he intends to get responsible gun owners to join his cause. He was at the event yesterday and sang high praises for the President. He’s on board. He will base his vote on the gun issue.

And do please watch the upcoming CNN town hall meeting with President Obama and a lot of people I know tomorrow night at 8:00 P.M. Eastern time. It should be another good chance to educate the public about the proposed regulations and about what they will mean. By the way, the President, Attorney General and the ATF have already sent letters to Governors and appropriate state and federal agencies to let them know what to expect and how to carry out the new regulations.

But the NRA has declined the invitation to participate in the town hall meeting. I guess they don’t really want to be part of the discussion or the solution. They would rather lob verbal and visual bombs at the President and anyone who is proposing common sense. Raising money with their incessant fear mongering and ugly memes about the President like the one Ted Cruz put out for the purpose of fund raising is what they are good at. Trying to save lives? Not so much. If they can’t be nice, I guess we ignore them.

We’re on our way to changing things in America at long last. This is great news and it will save lives. It’s all good for our children and our communities. We’ve had #enough and we thank President Obama for his courage, for his commitment, for his passion, for his strength and for his caring about the daily carnage.

enough President Obama

 

 

 

An abomination

San Bernarndino shooting
Image from Huffington Post

 

 

 

An article in the Atlantic called it what it is- an abomination. From the article:

Three years ago, after that week’s American gun massacre (the one at a movie theater in Colorado), I wrote about our horrific shared understanding that these killings will go on. Similar things happen in other countries, but nowhere else do they keep happening. Australia, Norway, the U.K., Canada—societies like these do something about it. A society like the United States doesn’t. Can’t. The shootings are appalling. And our public paralysis is worse. (…) It cannot go on. And at this moment, I can’t bring myself to complete the thought by saying, but it will. This is an abomination, and it is a political choice.

Is it paralysis? Perhaps. It is, as some have said, a choice. It’s a choice to ignore the carnage because…. rights. That is an abomination. Where are the statements from the gun lobby about the latest carnage? Maybe they are beginning to feel like the rest of us- speechless.

What can we say any more that we haven’t said before? How can Congress stand by and offer only thoughts and prayers without offering to do something to stop the slaughter of innocent Americans? It is, after all, the job of Congress to protect the “homeland”. Where are they? Offering tweets.

The twitter world was on fire yesterday and last night. And one person got it very right when he started screen shooting the tweets of some of our leaders and added his own comments about how much money each of them had taken from the NRA. Make no mistake about it, that is the problem. Follow the money to the paralysis.

Insanity.

Last night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes interviewed Igor Volsky of Think Progress who tweeted out the connections to the NRA to those offering thoughts and prayers. You can read his tweets at the link just above. Check out his comments last night on MSNBC.

The shooting in San Bernardino was just one more in the daily list of mass shootings– the 2nd just yesterday if you read the linked Washington Post article. Is this the tragedy that will make the changes we deserve? Will this be the one? Will Congress stand up at long last and tell the NRA and others in the gun rights world to stand down?

Common sense is worthless if it doesn’t lead to action. And that is what the gun lobby is banking on. But the steady drip drip drip of the mass terror attacks on American soil as the victims pile up is finally entering the collective conscience of the 92% of Americans who support common sense gun legislation. They are acting. They are phoning Congress and signing petitions by the thousands. Last night the Brady Campaign asked people to text to call US Senators and thousands responded within minutes. #enough. You can watch what Brady Campaign President Dan Gross had to say about the latest “terror attack” in our country as he spoke on CNN.

The American public has had #enough. They had #enough a long time ago.

The media has also had #enough. Vox is doing a great job of charting or unique gun problem pointing out that: “The research on this is overwhelmingly clear. No matter how you look at the data, more guns means more gun deaths.”

With more than 300 million guns circulating in America and owned by even fewer people, it is inevitable that the carnage will increase. That many guns means that many people could be angry enough or paranoid or fearful enough to use their legally purchased guns. ( according to the LA Times article I linked to above about the latest shooting, the guns used were legally purchased). When guns are readily available in a moment of anger, depression, while drinking alcohol, or just “fooling around” they will cause death and injury.

And further, when the guns not legally purchased get into the hands of those we prohibit from purchasing them legally, we have a double problem. There is absolutely no reason not to do a Brady background check on each and every gun sale in our country. The gun lobby has made up reasons not to do this. They are wrong- so wrong.

Yes, America, we have a problem. It is spiraling out of control. Can we put our heads together and gain control of the situation? I believe we can. It’s not rocket science. We sent people to the moon. We can do this, too. Congress should drop all of their other nonsensical business ( repealing Obamacare for the umpteenth time, threatening to shut down the government, voting to keep Syrian refugees out of the country and blah, blah, blah) and roll up their sleeves to prevent the daily carnage. But first they need to drop their fear of the NRA and the corporate gun lobby.

We’re waiting but the longer we wait, the more bodies will pile up. If Congress members were like the rest of us, they were watching the drama unfold on live TV yesterday and last night. It looked like a scene out of a war movie. We are at war with each other. Armored vehicles with SWAT teams looking for armed citizens in tactical gear with assault rifles. Combat on our streets. Law enforcement outgunned by every day citizens with arsenals and tactical gear, all dressed up for battle.

We are better than this.

Congress? Are you with us?