Guns and potato chips

potatochips_005350I frequently run into stories about people getting shot in arguments about simple things or objects just because. I have written about arguments over lawn mowers, garbage cans, property ( that’s a more common cause for a shooting), dogs, etc. But here is a new reason for shooting someone- eating my potato chips. Yes. It’s true. A South Carolina man shot and seriously injured his cousin after said cousin ate the chips he told him not to eat.

But the story started changing after the victim recovered enough for further questioning. The teen told investigators that Langdale shot him after warning him not to eat his salt and vinegar potato chips.

 

“Do not touch my chips, or I’ll shoot you,” Langdale allegedly told the victim according to a sheriff’s incident report, obtained by the Charleston Post and Courier.

People are killed for much more serious arguments actually. My sister is dead over a serious argument during a contentious divorce. No one should die because of that but a gun and several rounds of ammunition were available to my now dead estranged brother-in-law. And the result was 2 dead people. All because of money and a divorce.

I really am not fond of vinegar flavored potato chips. They are sour tasting to me but many love them. I guess a man with a gun loved them a little too much and now he is arrested for attempted murder.

It is about the guns after all. This man was presumably a “good guy with a gun” until he wasn’t. That’s the thing. It only takes seconds to make that very serious decision to use a loaded deadly weapon in the heat of the moment to seriously injure or kill someone.

Each of us has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in America. Too often that right is taken from us for reasons that are beyond our control- like disease, weather ( Hurricane Michael), war, poor health, poverty, no health care, etc.

In our country, we can count on the daily carnage of gun violence as one way to take away life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every day in our country is an American tragedy and yet we do nothing.

When will we ever learn? It’s not for lack of trying of course because many people like myself have been sounding the alarm and asking for common sense for decades now. And for that we have been treated like an “angry mob” and those bad people who will take away the guns of all of those “good people” and “law abiding” armed citizens.

The “angry mob” that our President and the GOP has now concocted as a reason not to vote for the Democrats is unarmed. The other angry mob walks around with AR15s strapped to their bodies and shows up in public places with loaded guns to intimidate the rest of us. Remember Charlottesville?

This is dangerous rhetoric fomented by our very own President and assisted by the corporate gun lobby with the promotion of fear and paranoia. Remember Wayne LaPierre and the “guys with the guns make the rules”?

No Mr. LaPierre. They don’t.

Let’s hope the rules are not made by armed citizens.  When that rhetoric is part of our national daily media, guys with guns get the idea that they just might be justified in shooting someone over potato chips or elections.

Elections are coming up. It’s October with less than a month to go. Peaceful and fair elections have always been the American way. Without that, we are not a democracy.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month.

The statistics are chilling. When a gun is in the home, women are at great risk during domestic arguments. 

This week I attended the annual fund raiser for Safe Haven which is a shelter for abused women in Duluth. Every year, either a woman who has been abused and used the shelter tells her story to the audience or a film is shown with interviews of some of the women who have been abused. Out of the 3 stories told by the women interviewed for this year’s film, 2 of them had experienced the terror of their abuser holding a gun to her head or having a gun aimed at her during the abusers abusive tirades. They lived to tell their stories.

A former District Court Judge was the keynote speaker for this event. He had seen a lot of domestic abuse cases over his years as a local attorney and then a judge. He spoke about seeing generations of men who had come before him as abusers- a grandfather, then his son and then his son. His message was that violence begets violence. Violence is not the way to win arguments or elections. But it can become the ultimate control over others.

I am adding this new report by the Brady Campaign about domestic violence and guns:

Every hour, 1,141 people become victims of domestic violence. About 3 people are shot and killed every single day by an intimate partner with a gun. Millions more are victimized, threatened, intimidated, or terrified into silence by the presence of one. They will survive with emotional (and sometimes physical) scars of the time that a person they loved hurt them. The stories of Sara, Kate, Rachael, and Kimberly are the voices of real people who have been affected by the intersection of domestic violence and guns in this country. Sara and Shelley didn’t survive their attacks. We owe a duty to them and to the survivors who lived. It is our job to call on Congress and state legislators to pass meaningful laws to prevent more men and women from becoming victims of domestic violence every year.

There is much much more to the above linked report including the real stories of women who have survived domestic violence- or not.

Loaded guns can become weapons of terror within seconds. The assumption is, or what I am told anyway by those who own guns for self protection, that a gun will be used to save the lives of one’s family during a robbery or an assault of some kind. But the thing is, owning a gun is risky business. Unless the owner is properly trained ( which many are not), stores guns securely in a safe away from the curious hands of a child or teen- or a burglar, they can be used to harm others. 

There are certain facts here. A gun in the home is more likely to be used to kill or injure oneself or someone in the home than it is to be used for self defense. There are real risks associated with gun ownership just like the risks of driving while drunk or smoking in public places.

Check out the Brady Campaign’s End Family Fire site to learn more about the risks.

And I will end with some observations I made while tabling a few days ago for Protect Minnesota at the St. Louis County Health and Human Services conference. This conference is attended by social workers and health care personnel from all over the state and is always full of people ready to learn. Our table was a popular one. Many stopped by to take information and have conversations.

One woman took lots of our information about safe storage of guns, ASK, and talking points about gun violence prevention. She told me she was a social worker who went into many homes of families who needed services for one reason or another. In one home, a woman lived alone with her children after being abused by her spouse. She told the social worker that she kept a loaded gun in the dresser drawer next to her bed just in case he came calling. This horrified the social worker as she asked the woman if her children were also in that bedroom. She said that her 3 year old slept with her.

So the social worker explained the risks of having this loaded gun around unsecured both to herself and her children. They went to a local Goodwill store and found a gun safe there for less than $10 and brought it home. The gun is now secured in this small safe hidden in the bedroom closet.

That is common sense.

Also at that 2 day conference, we gave away 200 trigger locks before 10:00 a.m. of the first day. People support what we do and what to be safe if they own guns.

Had that South Carolina man had his gun safely stored and not at the ready in his hands, his cousin would not have suffered serious injuries over a dispute about potato chips and the shooter would not have been arrested. Both lives have been forever changed because of the gun.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With some common sense and awareness about the risks of loaded guns we can save lives. With stronger gun laws, we can save lives.

That is the bottom line.

 

Women’s March and the NRA

We are not safeThe Women’s March is taking on the NRA. Why? Because the NRA has been using videos to encourage their members to use violence against protesters. Seriously. In what country do we live again? If protesters aren’t safe from intimidation and violence, we are not a democracy any more. When the media is attacked by our very own President and he encourages intolerance and lies about what he calls #fakenews, we are not a democracy. Violence is not the answer in a democracy.

We already know that women are less safe when a gun is in the home. Women should not feel unsafe at home, at work, at malls, at protest marches or wherever they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. I know this from personal experience.

In fact no one is safer when a gun is present in the home.

Guns are a risk to their owners and others. They can be used in a few seconds to “solve a problem” or kill an innocent person or people with whom they disagree.

Protesters should be protected from violence and be able to participate in non-violent marches and events without fear of violence. That is the way the Women’s March on DC and other cities all across the America in January- non violent, peaceful protests to show our resistance to and our fears and concerns about our newly elected President. Women took the lead and we are not going away. Protests have erupted all over the country against the hapless and selfish agenda pushed by our President and his cronies in Congress.

And our concerns have been realized as the news of what the Trump campaign, Trump family members and maybe even the President himself did and have been doing to our country’s Democracy and the office of the Presidency. The news gets more complicated and more concerning every day.

Back to the NRA, no one is safe when one powerful interest group and industry group ramps up fear, violence, paranoia and intolerance.

Below is the NRA video in question. Let me know if you think this is OK.

The “clenched fist of truth” is all #fakenews. The ad is so over the top that there are really no words to describe it- other than alarming.

If vigilantes or one individual unhinged person acts on what the above video is suggesting, it could be tragic and deadly.

When so many guns are available and accessible to just about anyone, it would be easy for someone to act on their anger and intolerance. We can hope for common sense but that isn’t what is happening for a minority of Americans who believe in this dangerous nonsense.

So I think we can agree that this is meant to ramp up intolerance and violence towards those with whom you don’t agree. Is it also to sell more guns as is the habit of the NRA and the corporate gun lobby. In several of my past posts, I have written about the encouragement and tolerance of violence towards others coming directly from the top in the person of our very own President. As we know, the NRA has a seat at the table of our President and their agendas are linked.

But today, many are acting and protesting the NRA ad attacking protesters. The Women’s March is taking on the NRA- marching from the NRA headquarters in Virginia to the Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.

I am so proud of those people who have decided that enough is enough. The lies, innuendos, threats and dangerous rhetoric are not scaring these people.

Will these people be safe from gun violence or other forms of violence? Will the NRA harass them and follow them and film them and make another insipid and dangerous ad showing how the Women’s March is ruining America? Will they ramp up the lies some more to encourage yet more violence? The answer is YES.

Are they not ashamed? Embarrassed?

The answer would be NO.

Watch for more in the news media about this march and protest. The truth is that America has more guns and more gun deaths than any other democratized country. More guns have not and will not make us safer. Every day innocent people are killed or injured by firearms due to suicide, homicide or “accidental” shootings.

When enough Americans raise their own voices and let the elected leaders who are afraid to raise theirs know that that is not OK, maybe something will change? Or will it take another tragedy?

The corporate gun lobby and the NRA have had their way for too long. The country is waking up to the clever and disingenuous tactics used by a powerful industry and lobby group. It’s past time.

The thing is, we have had those tragedies already. Sandy Hook. Columbine. Virginia Tech. San Bernardino. Red Lake. Aurora. Clackamas Mall. Pulse nightclub. And……………………….

What will it take?

It’s time to take the moral high ground and do whatever it takes to prevent violence and intimidation. From an article about the march from the NRA to the DOJ:

“I’ve never ever believed that the NRA is more powerful than the people,” Mallory said. “As long as people of good moral conscience come together … I believe we will be victorious.”

The NRA was the largest outside donor to Trump’s campaign. That means the Women’s March, Everytown for Gun Safety and other groups participating in the protest are not only taking on the NRA, but the political establishment, providing an opportunity for the movement to demonstrate the scope of its influence.

#NRA2DOJ

#Enough

Baseball and guns

Brady memeGun violence has and does occur in every nook and cranny of America. That is because there are guns in every nook and cranny of America. As many, if not most, of us watched in horror yesterday morning, another mass shooting unfolded almost before our very eyes and ears. Later in the day yesterday video with the audio of the mass shooting was released making it all too real. The sound of constant gunfire reminded us of war.

We are at war with each other. Yesterday’s shooting of U.S. Congressman Steve Scalise got a lot of attention because the victim was someone serving our country as was Rep. Gabby Giffords who was shot while serving in Congress. And here is Gabby Giffords writing about the obvious after yesterday’s shooting:

Why courage? Because the times we are in require it. We owe ourselves, our neighbors and our nation courage.

In the days and weeks to come, I know from personal experience what to expect. As a nation, we will debate violence and honor service — the service of the elected officials and their staff, and of local law enforcement and the U.S. Capitol Police, without whom the carnage could have been so much worse. We will debate the availability and use of guns. And we will wonder about the victims — how they are doing and how we can help them — as we wonder, too, about the shooter. What motivated such violence? What can we do to prevent it?

We know, as always, that no one law could prevent a shooting like this. But we also know that we must acknowledge a problem: an unacceptable rate of gun violence in this country. And we must acknowledge that a deadly problem like this brings a responsibility to find solutions. And that’s where we, as a nation, will need courage in abundance, as my former colleagues find the strength to recover from their wounds — and the bravery to try to make shootings like this one less likely in the future. (…)

My prayer today for my colleagues and their families is that they feel our strength and love as they embark on their recovery. My prayer for my country is that we find the courage I know we possess and use it to work toward a safer world, together.

We are all horrified at the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise and 3 others at yesterday’s baseball practice for a charity ball game to be held tonight in spite of the shooting. We are hoping for a good recovery for Rep. Scalise knowing that he is in critical condition and has a long road to go.

This morning I ran across this article that highlights what I have long thought about the issue of gun violence. We have so much of it in our country that it does seem to beget more of it. It’s like a virus that we can’t control and for which there is no cure. From the article:

The left-wing views of the alleged shooter might be surprising to some, but they shouldn’t be. The gun industry and the National Rifle Association market guns with promises that owning guns will make a customer feel manly and powerful, and that fantasy has a power that can transcend political boundaries. And no one knows better than gun industry leaders how feelings of political frustration caused by seeing your preferred candidate lose an election can be channeled into a pitch to buy more guns. (…) Gun marketing, helped along by the political messaging of the NRA, , is targeted largely at conservatives. That said, the emotional buttons being pushed — the wish to feel powerful, the desire to prove one’s masculinity, the appeal of violence as a political shortcut — cannot be contained by something as pedestrian as political partisanship. Through years of marketing and cultural messaging, the appeal of guns has been crafted into something totemic, even primal — desired by all manner of people who yearn for some kind of cleansing violence to solve their problems.

It is frightening that this is where we are now. We’ve been there for a long time but when the violence affects those who support the efforts of the corporate gun lobby, one would expect a new reaction- that just maybe something will be done about it -this time. But one would be wrong. More from the article:

And when it comes to the Republicans, sadly there is no reason to believe they will react to this dreadful crime by rethinking their resistance to saner gun control laws that could go a long way toward minimizing the amount of damage that people disposed to carrying out violence can do. Despite watching their friends and colleagues running away from a hail of gunfire, Republican politicians and pundits are sticking with the thoughts-and-prayers narrative and not even discussing taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Some are demanding the opposite of common sense by suggesting that if only someone had been packing heat this would not have happened. Such ridiculous reasoning is insane and should not be believed or tolerated. But that rhetoric has been around for so many years that some actually believe it regardless of the truth of the matter. Here are some responses on an article posted on a Twitter feed about this very thing:

Yesterday the House was to have had a hearing on a bill to allow for the purchase of gun suppressor ( silencers) without going through the strict process now in place since 1934. Silencers were placed in a special category at that time for good reason. But the gun lobby is forever looking for a way to increase sales and accessories.

After the shooting yesterday morning apparently it was thought that it was not a good time to raise this controversial issue so the hearing was cancelled.:

The measure would make it easier to purchase silencers, transport guns across state lines and ease restrictions on armor-piercing bullets
The draft bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-South Carolina, who was at Wednesday’s practice in Alexandria, Virginia, where Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others were shot.

In this article there is a video of Senator Rand Paul, an avid support of second amendment rights and “freedom” stating that the incident yesterday would have been a massacre had capitol police officers not been there to take down the shooter. Paul was at the baseball practice and sounded truly frightened and shaken when interviewed. I am just wondering if he thought how much more deadly the shooting could have been had the shooter purchased a suppressor and attached it to his rifle. But I guess hypocrisy and warped thinking runs into the facts when it comes to justifying arming more people in more places for “self defense”.

Consider if the Congress members were packing heat at that practice or the game scheduled for tonight as some have suggested. Really? More warped thinking. What about sliding into third base? What about jumping up to catch a fly ball? What about a collision at home base between the catcher and a runner? What about just running around the bases with a loaded gun on your hip?

All of this defies common sense but it is being raised. Remember that the shooting took over 2 minutes according to a home video taken on an observer’s iPhone that many of us have now seen and heard. No one knew where to go, where to run, at first where the shots were coming from. Panic ensued. The instinct to run for your life and take cover or protect someone else by laying on top of him/her. Representative Scalise was a sitting duck out on the field as was the staffer who was injured. How could they have defended themselves with a loaded gun on their bodies? How could the other Congressmen have shot at a shooter not having any idea where he was? And what if more police came onto the scene, as happened, and saw a person with a loaded gun? Who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?

No. These are ludicrous and warped ideas.

There is one more issue that has surfaced after the shooting at the baseball field- more protection for Congress members who do receive death threats and face angry constituents at town halls meetings and other places. I will go on record as saying I am all in favor of this. But doesn’t it seem ridiculous that one of the first solutions to come up is more protection instead of looking for ways to tighten access to guns and trying to stop shootings in the first place? Who is going to protect the children? Who will protect the vulnerable women in domestic disputes? Who will protect us all at parks, movie theaters, malls and other public gathering places? We all need more protection. But let’s also look at ways to prevent and reduce the shootings.

Further, though the shooter had some past problems with domestic incidents and shooting his gun into the trees in his back yard prompting complaints from neighbors to law enforcement, he was a legal purchaser of guns and did so from a licensed dealer. This is actually often the case. Legal gun owners are law abiding until suddenly they are not. The thing is, guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people and a risk to families, friends, and innocent people if something goes awry. It only takes an instant for a gun to do the damage we saw and heard yesterday. That’s why guns are the weapon of choice when someone intends to do harm and go on a rampage.

And weapons like assault type rifles and semi-automatic pistols, intended for use in war but altered slightly for civilian use, are often the ones used in these kinds of rampages. There are no limits to how many of these Americans can buy, either with or without a background check and no limits as to how many rounds can be in a magazine. Shooters who plan ahead understand perfectly well that a lot of people can be shot and killed if they use an AR-15 or AK 47 or the like. There are so many shootings with these types of weapons in America that we just move on to the next shooting, knowing it will come.

Once upon a time we banned certain types of assault type rifles. It lasted 10 years before we had time to know if it made a difference. But since that time, we know for a fact that many of the banned weapons have been used to kill Americans.

But I digress. When will the next mass shooting come? Where will it come?  As to when it is important to note that so far there have been 154 mass shootings in 2017. Yes. It’s true. We can quibble about the definition of “mass”.  What difference does it make? Lots of people are dead or injured. There was another mass shooting just hours after the shooting at the baseball field in Alexandria. This one- a workplace shooting where an alleged UPS worker took out his anger and frustrations on some of his fellow workers at a UPS facility in San Francisco. 6 shot. 3 dead plus the shooter who shot himself as he was about to be apprehended. All in a day’s work in America.

As this article states, baseball and gun violence are as American as apple pie:

And gun violence is our national shame, as American as apple pie and, yes, baseball.

The Wednesday attack on the Republican team’s final practice before the game by a shooter reportedly armed with an assault rifle was a chilling reminder of the 2011 attempt on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ life, which left six dead and 13 wounded. It raises serious concerns about ensuring the security of our elected officials and their staff.

For many parents, such concerns are a part of everyday life. In communities across the country, parents cannot safely send their children to school, to parks or to baseball practice for fear of gunfire. (…)

While the epidemic of gun violence in this country and the maddening politics around the issue can make this feel like an intractable problem, nothing could be further from the truth. There is a growing body of research showing that states that have enacted common sense measures — such as universal background checks, limits on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and restricting gun access by domestic abusers — have significantly lower rates of gun violence than permissive states.  (…)

In addition to high levels of support for policies like universal background checks — support that is shared among Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and non-gun owners — a new poll conducted by Penn Schoen Berland found that 54% of voters feel there should be fewer guns in circulation in America’s neighborhoods.

Since the start of this baseball season, approximately 3,120 people have been killed with guns in this country — more than four times as many people as the active Major League Baseball roster. Perhaps, at long last, the bipartisan spirit of baseball that imbues the annual congressional game will stay with the members as they return to Capitol Hill, and they will finally take action to address this epidemic nationwide.

Is there hope that we can address the issue- a national pastime- shooting other people? It’s sick, warped, deadly, despicable and shameful that we haven’t yet even after the shooting of 20 six and seven year olds.

What makes sense is trying our hardest to make it harder for everyone to get guns instead of easier. This shooter had his problems but they didn’t get addressed as perhaps they should have been. He appeared to be angry over the last election. He had some prior domestic incidents which almost always point to future violent problems. He had been shooting off his gun in his yard at home until his neighbors reported him to law enforcement who told him he had to stop. Did anyone realize that this was a man who should not have had a gun in the first place?

What if a friend or relative had sensed rightly that he could be a danger to himself or others and asked law enforcement to take his guns away as is possible with Gun Violence Protection Orders?

What if violence begets violence and in America, people see guns as a way to “solve their problems” rather than a final solution that takes the lives of loved ones, innocent people, sometimes themselves, and causes devastation to many?

Some say we can’t talk about gun violence after a terrible incident of gun violence. Why not? That is the time to talk about it. Some want our voices to be silent until……?  Every day 90 Americans die from gun violence due to suicide, homicide and “accidental” shootings. The corporate gun lobby and its’ lapdogs in elected office want us to be silent and not bring up the obvious. We have a public health epidemic and a serious problem with gun violence in America. Our voices will not be silenced. We will follow Gabby’s lead and be courageous and demand changes to gun laws, to the gun culture and to the conversation we cannot avoid.

I have volunteered with the Brady Campaign and Protect Minnesota for many years now.  Most of us have seen it all and tried everything and anything to make a dent in the resistance to doing the right thing. The meme above says it all though. At the very least we ought to be able to go to baseball practice, to school, to work, a movie or shopping without fear that someone who feels angry, vindictive, is seriously mentally ill, etc. gets his or her hands on a gun and massacres innocent Americans. We ought to know that a child will not have access to a loaded gun and shoot someone or him/herself. We ought to be able to make it much harder for our teens or older citizens to take their own lives and leave behind the grief and devastation for their survivors.

We ought to be safe from gun violence. We ought not to live in fear of gun violence wherever we gather or even in our homes. What’s happening in America is backwards. We are not doing nearly enough to keep Americans safe in their communities.

#Enough.

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?

 

Clowns amongst us

clownHappy Halloween.

Yesterday I wrote about scary things happening politically on the eve of Halloween. It’s still scary out there and getting worse.

This morning I had a conversation with my daughter who was unaware of the scare about clown masks and almost bought one for her teen-aged son. Quickly she realized this would not be a good idea, thankfully. Then she read an article about people in clown costumes threatening small children and committing crimes and got more alarmed, wondering about human nature in general and the lunacy of our country of late. She is not alone.

When people dressed as clowns or using Facebook posts as clowns threatening to commit school shootings or other violent threats, we have a problem. It’s bad enough that people without masks make these threats but using a clown mask/costume to hide an identity makes it more frightening.

I don’t know about you but I was always creeped out by the Joker of Batman movies. And many people are genuinely afraid of clowns. But now there is more than good reason to be afraid of people in clown outfits or acting like clowns.

We can ‘t escape the association of The Dark Knight with the 2012 shooting in the Aurora theater that claimed the lives of 12 during the midnight showing of the The Dark Knight Rises.  That was truly frightening and tragic, to say the least. I can’t even go there without thinking about friends who lost their loved ones in that shooting.

Who needs this kind of frightening stuff on a holiday that is supposed to be for kids but has been co-opted by adults whose intentions are sometimes evil or dangerous? But do people need to arm themselves against clowns now? A group of Florida parents have decided that carrying guns around while their kids trick or treat is the way to go. This seems like a bad idea to me because mistakenly shooting an innocent person is the more likely scenario than actually needing a gun to protect oneself from a clown with bad intentions. From the article:

Brevard County authorities say clown fears could endanger someone who is dressing up as a clown as a joke. Palm Bay Police Lt. Mike Banish fears that someone dressing like a clown could end up getting seriously injured.

“The problem is that someone dressed like a clown could scare someone and there’s a possibility, a possibility you could end up with someone getting shot,” Bandish said. “A person could think that they’re about to get robbed.”

Whatever happened to common sense? Why does everything have to become fearful and threatening?

The election is scary enough and is leaving many Americans with an uncertain and sick feeling in the pits of their stomachs. When people feel unsettled about things, they also feel fearful and maybe think that arming themselves is the answer. But we know already that more guns have not made us safer,  contrary to what the corporate gun lobby would have you believe.

But, as usual, we are afraid of the wrong things. We should be afraid that just anyone can purchase a firearm with no proof that they are not felons, adjudicated mentally ill, a domestic abuser, a terrorist or someone who should not be able to get a gun. Private gun sellers can sell guns to anyone with no background checks at on-line sites or at gun shows. We have made this possible because our elected leaders are afraid of the corporate gun lobby’s influence on their own election or re-election and so they listen to those who do not represent that majority of us who want background checks on all gun sales. 

Women should be especially afraid that their abusers can still get their hands on guns even after they have been deemed to be prohibited purchasers. This article by The Trace shows how easy that is:

This scenario is not unusual. Under federal law, anyone convicted of domestic violence or subject to a domestic violence protective order is prohibited from possessing a gun. But abusers are often able to buy a firearm anyway, or are allowed to keep one they already own, and they end up using it to shoot a wife, girlfriend, or other intimate partner.

So how is it that known abusers, convicted of a crime or subject to a restraining order, come to have a firearm in their possession? Often, they are able to exploit gaps in the federal background check system or in state laws designed to remove firearms from abusers’ homes. Here are seven ways that commonly happens.

Read the seven ways and then know why our laws need to change.

Scary.

This sad story of a young Colorado man with severe mental illness who shot people up last Halloween is an example of why we need laws  (like this California law) that will allow family members to report someone who could be dangerous to him/herself or others allowing for guns to be removed.

Four years ago, the parents of Japanese exchange student, Yoshihiro Hattori, shot and killed when he went to the wrong house for a Halloween party, urged Americans to pass stronger gun laws:

The heartbreak led Yoshihiro’s parents to lobby for a change in US gun laws. They collected nearly 2 million Japanese signatures calling for tighter gun control, and personally handed them over to then President Bill Clinton. They donated compensation from their civil trial to anti-gun groups, and continue to support their efforts from afar.

Yet, on a recent trip back to Baton Rouge, Mieko Hattori said she was shocked to learn more than two dozen states had enacted “Stand your ground” laws that expand a person’s right to self-defense.

Twenty-four years after this tragic shooting, we are still in the same place we were that Halloween of 1992.

The clowns of the corporate gun lobby are still scaring American elected leaders into being afraid to enact the laws that could save lives.

#Enough.

This year, the shootings have already begun:

2 shot and killed at a New York Halloween party.

It’s scary enough out there with the election in its’ last week before we elect a new President. But if you want to be more scared, read journalist Benjy Sarlin ‘s piece about Donald Trump’s violent and vengeful rhetoric:

It has also expressed itself at Trump’s rallies, where supporters have reflected the candidate’s harsh tone.

“We’re all Second Amendment pros, we want our country back like he just said, and she’s not going to give it to us,” a Trump voter, Tammy Wilson, said at a Florida rally this month after predicting people would “rise up” if Trump loses.

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this story. With Trump’s language heating up in the final days and his list of enemies growing fast, some civil rights groups and law enforcement officials are raising fears that things could get out of hand.

“We are concerned about the possibility of violence on Election Day and afterwards,” Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center told NBC News. (…)

Twice Trump has made jokes that seem to float the notion of Clinton being assassinated. In August he suggested “Second Amendment people” could prevent her from filling a Supreme Court seat. It was widely perceived as a reference to violence, although the campaign denied that was his intent. In September, he said Clinton’s bodyguards should disarm and then “see what happens to her.”

Trump has also shown unprecedented tolerance for supporters who engage in more overt threats. He enthusiastically defended the character of an adviser, Al Baldasaro, after he repeatedly said Clinton “should be shot by a firing squad,” even after his campaign distanced itself from the remarks.

And more from this article should have us all concerned this Halloween and on election day and beyond:

This fear is especially pronounced because Trump has cast such a wide net in picking targets, and they often have a racial, ethnic, or religious component. He’s regularly made false claims about American Muslims celebrating terrorism or refusing to turn in an attacker and warned that “other communities” — almost invariably cities with large minority populations — are out to steal the election. Recently, Trump told Fox News “illegal immigrants are voting all over the country.”

“What happens on Nov. 9 is anyone’s guess, but some of these trend lines of mainstreaming and broadening bigotry and incidents of violence and hints of a dark conspiracy are very concerning,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in an interview.

The clownish and dangerous behavior and rhetoric of a major party candidate for President of the United States is no Halloween joke. It’s for real and it’s frightening. He has convinced some of his supporters that violence just may be the solution to his falsified and perceived paranoia about election results.

We are better than this.

My suggestions? Pass a law to require Brady background checks on all gun sales.Don’t dress as a clown on Halloween. Don’t carry your gun around on Halloween. Don’t mistake a fake clown for a real clown. Use your common sense and stay safe.

 

America, America

Presidential elections in the United States

So, Jeb Bush tweeted a photo of his new gun. It’s a nice shiny handgun, apparently his first, with his name engraved on the metal. It was a gift from a gun manufacturing company. When he tweeted this photo, he just used the word “America.” I am betting he didn’t expect the reaction to this ill considered tweet. The gun manufacturing company in question, located in South Carolina ( of course- where the Republicans are fighting to get delegates) is FN America ( when trying to link to their website, it appears to be “unavailable”). Anyway, you can see, on the linked site, the types of guns manufactured by this company. Their trademark is:”The World’s Most Battle-Proven Firearms“.

America. Where daily “battles” occur on our streets leaving behind 32 homicide victims a day and 89 a day dead from bullet wounds due to homicide, suicide and “accidental” discharges.

Let’s take a better look at this company from an article in The Trace:

Bush had just toured the Columbia, South Carolina, manufacturing facility of FN America, a subsidiary of the Belgian arms manufacturer FN Herstal, orFabrique Nationale d’Herstal. Bush’s tweet blew up, with many responses noting the dubiousness of associating “America” with a foreign gun company. But that’s not the most questionable thing about Bush’s embrace of an FN Herstal product.

The company produces a wide variety of guns, for both military and civilian markets. But one of its models, the FN Five-seven, a semi-automatic pistol utilizing a 5.7-mm round, has a particularly sordid history. Developed for NATO, the gun’s power and unusual cartridge type has made it a popular gun with Mexican drug cartels, some of whom arm themselves with Five-sevens bought in the United States and smuggled across the border.

The bullets from the handgun described above, produced by this company, can penetrate body armor and cause great damage to body tissue. It is not (or should not be) a gun for civilians but, as we already know, some civilians get their hands on these guns. More from the article:

In 2009, the gun’s ability to puncture body armor helped make it the weapon of choice for Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. In an interview with NPR, Tom Diaz, a former senior policy analyst at the Violence Prevention Center, argued that the story of the Five-seven neatly demonstrates the problems posed by the transfer of increasingly sophisticated military-grade weapons to the civilian market.

Posting a photo of a gun gifted to you in a Presidential campaign on Twitter and saying “America” is just a really bad idea. It’s pandering at its’ worst. We know that candidates think they must show their “gun creds” in order to get elected. Or do they? In this case it backfired badly.

Jeb Bush was the Governor of Florida who pandered badly when he signed into law the first Stand Your Ground law. He was a lapdog to the gun lobby. Since that law passed, there have been high profile shootings like that of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and the gun homicide rate increased. Florida is a testing ground for gun laws proposed by the corporate gun lobby. Once a law passes in Florida, we can expect to see it show up in other state legislatures. And show up it did. 33 states have passed Stand Your Ground laws. Thankfully my state of Minnesota was saved (at least so far) from this insidious law by a veto from Governor Dayton.

But back to the pandering. We need to decide as a country whether what matters most in our leaders is their owning a gun and showing us pictures of it ( them) or whether candidates actually care about saving lives and preventing shootings. I would suggest that Jeb Bush did not show much common sense when he tweeted his now viral gun photo.

And speaking of Florida, a Florida man set up a gun range in his back yard because…. America. One of the bullets left his range and landed inside a nearby home where, luckily for the shooter, it only injured the hand of a young girl inside the home. And what happened as a result? Nothing. Because….. America, where gun rights trump public safety. From the article:

But the family’s home was directly behind the line of fire, and one of Lanham’s shots was fired too high and missed the target and berm and instead went through the glass door.

Authorities in other communities have been unable to stop residents from setting up shooting ranges in their front or back yards because Florida law prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights in any way.

A state pre-emption law, pushed by, you guessed it, the corporate gun lobby, does not allow local governments to pass gun laws any stricter than state laws. So people who want to shoot guns in their neighborhoods can go ahead in spite of the noise and the danger.

America, America.

( And,by the way, a gun lobby favorite, Open Carry, is now “dead”in Florida. In a rare moment of common sense, the Florida Senate rejected the gun lobby’s attempts at loosening gun laws.) From the article:

On Tuesday, February 16, Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla announced that the proposed bills to allow open-carry in Florida, and another bill that would allow guns in airports, are now officially dead.

You saw that right- guns in airports because……. America.

Edited addition to post:- I must add this incident in a Florida school before leaving the state of Florida behind in the discussion. A parent apparently was carrying a gun at his child’s school and the gun “accidentally” fell out of a hole in his pocket. The gun was found by another adult who “accidentally” fired the gun with no one injured. Good grief. This is America all right. Gun owners are not always responsible with their guns but when we encourage a gun culture where parents are carrying guns around while bringing their kids to school, this is the America we get.

My state has pre-emption as well. It’s a bad idea. And speaking of my state of Minnesota, among the very many really bad shootings that have occurred in the past few days  (toddlers killing others, “accidental” discharges killing loved ones, domestic shootings, etc.) this one happened. A man threatened his wife with a gun while she was breast feeding their baby. There is so much wrong with this story that it’s really hard to write about it. But here goes. From the article:

In April 2015, Lehmeier assaulted a child who was 7 years old at the time, and because of it, their five minor children were removed from the home, according to the criminal complaint. He was charged with malicious punishment of a child for that incident and pleaded guilty to fifth-degree assault in November 2015.

July 2, 2015, was the first night they were able to bring their baby home since the child had been removed from their home; the other children had not yet been returned to the home, according to the criminal complaint.

The woman said she was sitting on the couch holding the baby and that Lehmeier became upset because she was spending time with the child and not with him. She said Lehmeier blamed her for the children being removed, and she responded that she wasn’t the one who had been criminally charged.

The woman said Lehmeier then grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded it and pointed it at her and the child. She said he then pulled the trigger but that the gun didn’t go off, according to the complaint.

She said he then loaded a revolver, saying, “One bullet is all I need to end this,” according to the complaint. She asked him if she could at least put the child to bed first so he wouldn’t be hurt.

Lehmeier then left the room and fired the gun out of the bedroom window, according to the complaint.

The woman said she never reported the abuse because Lehmeier always threatened to kill her or the children.

This is the 2nd case of domestic abuse involving guns in Minnesota in several days. I wrote about the other one, ending with the death of the abused woman and the abuser, in my previous post. Women are afraid to leave abusive relationships. They are often threatened with guns because……. America. Some people should not have guns. Domestic abusers are among them. Efforts have been made to get guns away from abusers but it’s not easy to do. Minnesota passed a law to do just that but this woman did not report the abuse so authorities would not have known of the danger posed by this man.

After Jeb Bush tweeted his gun photo the Brady Campaign released a video of what America is really experiencing concerning guns and gun violence. You can see it here. This is the real America. It doesn’t have to be this way. I believe the public has had #enough of the carnage and the violence and candidates pandering in the worst way using guns to get votes while ignoring the victims whose lives were lost because someone had a gun and shot them.

We are better than this. “From sea to shining sea…” people are dying from gunshot injuries. Let’t get our heads and our hearts together to figure out the best way to prevent those deaths and make America a country safer from devastating gun violence.

 

Broken hearts

Divorce and death. Broken HeartIt’s easy for people to celebrate Valentines Day without thinking about the many broken hearts out there. Today in Minnesota and North Dakota, there are more families grieving over the sudden loss of a loved one because of a shooting. This past week a Fargo, North Dakota police officer lost his life in a shooting during a domestic dispute. Domestic incidents are the most dangerous for officers because they are coming between a desperate and angry person and their intent to take the life of someone they love(d) or someone they hate or someone they perceive to have done them wrong or someone they want to destroy because of a broken heart.

In the Fargo case, the gunman had a record and should not have been able to get a gun. From the article linked above:

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.

But we all know how easy it is to access guns in our country. And we also know that we have ignored this inconvenient fact in order to show some kind of “respect” or fear of the corporate gun lobby. Some people love them. Some people are not in love and want a divorce with a reasonable settlement. Common sense tells us that this shooter is one who, had we tried harder to keep him from getting a gun, may not have been able to shoot this officer.

Two nights ago in Plymouth, Minnesota, a man with a violent record, a “black” shotgun, rounds of ammunition and a bullet proof vest wreaked havoc on a public street while motorists watched him mow down a woman who had run from his car. In an apparent domestic dispute, a man threatened a woman with his gun and chased her on a busy suburban street until he killed her. Horrified drivers watched this unfold. The man fled to his apartment building where he threatened innocent people by ramming into their cars and pointing his weapon. Thank goodness the only person to die at that scene was the gunman. A couple with young children escaped narrowly.

The shooter had a record that prohibited him from getting guns (from the article):

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who appeared at the news conference with Goldstein, said the man had criminal convictions for violent offenses and was not legally in possession of the rifle, handgun, ammunition and “tactical vest” he was wearing.

This is nuts. One person dies every 16 hours in America due to domestic shootings:

For American women, those incidents amount to a typically fatal stretch. According to FBI and statecrime data analyzed by the Associated Press, at least 6,875 people were fatally shot by romantic partners from 2006 to 2014. Eighty percent of those victims were women. On average, that works out to 554 annual fatal shootings of an American woman by a current or former romantic partner during the nine years examined, or one every 16 hours.

These are the broken hearts. These are the broken families. This is our broken system.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do much much better at changing the statistics and changing the conversation. One way to do that is to change some laws to expand our Brady background check system to make sure felons and domestic abusers have a much much harder time getting their hands on guns. We can do better at changing the conversation about the risks of guns in homes. They are far more likely to be used in incidents like the ones I write about than in self defense.

Let’s get to work in the name of love. Let’s stop some of the daily carnage. Let’s do what Diana Ross and the Supremes, asks of us: