Snowplows, guns and other gun nonsense

snow_ploughIt’s been another interesting week in the world of guns and gun violence, as always. Several days ago I wrote about a New Jersey woman who asked some friends to shoot a neighbor who temporarily borrowed a shovel to help another neighbor. I wrote about it because you can’t make this stuff up. It’s happening in communities all over our country and soon to come to your own community if it has not already.

Apparently snow and cold are causing some gun owners to leave all common sense behind in their anger or while under the influence of alcohol. Neither of these goes together well with holding a loaded gun.

Take this one for example when a Massachusetts when a man driving while drunk and loaded, fired off shots at a snowplow that annoyed him:

A Massachusetts man apparently got frustrated while driving behind a snow plow and opened fire.

Bruce O’Brien was arrested after firing his gun three times while driving in Plymouth during a snowstorm about 7 p.m. Saturday, reported The Manomet Current.

Police said the 60-year-old O’Brien was driving drunk when he fired the shots.

None of the shots hit any cars or homes, and police aren’t sure whether the Whitman man was shooting at the snow plow.

I get the frustration of driving behind a snowplow since I live in Northern Minnesota. But I also get the “rules of engagement” when following a snowplow on a street or freeway. And one of them is not to get out a gun and start shooting bullets.

I think I posted about the good samaritan in North Carolina who was shot and killed by a drunk and loaded guy in the recent east coast snowstorm:

The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office says a 27-year-old Good Samaritan was shot and killed yesterday by a man he stopped to help.

The victim has been identified as 27-year-old Jefferson Heavner of Newton.

Investigators say the suspect, Marvin Jacob Lee, has been charged with first-degree murder and will appear in a Catawba County court on Monday. The sheriff’s office says Lee was drunk when he ran his vehicle off the side of Mathis Church Road during the snowstorm on Friday afternoon.

A group of people stopped to help Lee, including Heavner.

Investigators say that when Lee became aware that Heavner was going to call police for help, Lee got out of his vehicle and fired his gun, killing Heavner. Lee then got back in his vehicle and a standoff ensued until a SWAT team finally got Lee out of the truck and arrested him.

Making any more comments about these senseless shootings seems senseless. It’s what we’ve come to in America. When more people are armed, more people will be shot and more stupid and dangerous incidents will happen with guns. It’s just the way it is but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Steps are being taken to make us safer from people who shouldn’t have guns. President Obama has changed the conversation with his Executive Orders announced several weeks ago.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Facebook has announced that it will not allow guns to be sold peer to peer on its’ platform. Why? Most, if not all of these guns, go without Brady background checks. That’s simply a bad idea. The President’s new executive orders will beef up monitoring of on-line gun sales. A Kentucky teen purchased a gun through a Facebook gun sale meeting place was someone who could not legally purchase a gun from a licensed dealer. 

In 2014, several gun safety reform groups worked to get Facebook to change its’ policy regarding sales of guns. At that time some changes were made but they did not go far enough because private gun sales were still allowed with no background checks. But as of this past week, that has changed.

But never mind, the gun rights extremists are trying to claim this is against their second amendment rights. These guys are just plain confused and wrong. But the corporate gun lobby has convinced them that anything that makes common sense concerning gun policy and gun laws is violating their “God given” rights.  A simple explanation was offered for why they are wrong in this article written by a lawyer:

Predictably, after the announcement, the “Obummer is coming for my guns”/”Molon Labe”/”Come and Take it” crowd immediately started throwing a hissy fit about their 2nd Amendment rights (if you need proof, head over to any right wing Facebook page and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands of comments regarding Facebook “violating people’s 2nd Amendment rights”). The problem however, is that these statement are entirely incorrect, because the 2nd Amendment doesn’t apply in this situation. So clearly, these people either skipped the day in civics class where they were taught about  the state action doctrine and therefore clearly (and laughably) don’t seem to realize the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply, or worse they simply just don’t seem to care that their understanding of the Constitution is flawed at best, and flat out incorrect at worst. Maybe it’s time for a remedial lesson?

Now, we seriously should not have to go over this concept every damn time something along these lines occurs, but unfortunately, here we go again. The reason the 2nd Amendment does not apply in this situation, is because Facebook is a private company; Facebook is not the government. Therefore, if Facebook decides to ban private gun sales on its social media platform, Facebook has every right to do so; and not only is Facebook not violating anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights, the 2nd Amendment isn’t implicated.

Stand down everyone. Obama is not coming for your guns and neither is the government. Facebook has sensibly decided on a policy that they have a right to decide given that they are a private company. I thought these were the guys who love individual liberty, less government and private industry. Go figure.

In other good news, the Brady Campaign has been working to repeal the PLCAA law that has allowed the gun industry protection from law suits that no other industry enjoys. There was a victory this week when repeal legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate and several Brady activists walked into Sen. Bernie Sanders’ office to talk to staff about the repeal bill. Several hours after these folks visited with Sanders’ staff, the Brady Campaign got a call saying that Sen. Sanders would sign on to the legislation to repeal the law he voted in favor of in 2005. From the article:

According to a release from the Brady Campaign, Sanders will co-sponsor the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers in lawsuits involving shootings. Sanders had voted in favor of the protections while in the Senate and has up to this point resisted reversing course on the issue.

The Brady Campaign says that Sanders decided to support the legislation “hours after meeting with Brady activists,” and that his staff also met with victims of gun violence.

For Sanders, it’s all an effort to undo the damage of a 2005 vote for a bill that protected gun manufacturers from lawsuits when their firearms are used in crimes. Then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton opposed that bill, and has repeatedly pointed to Sanders’ vote as evidence he was aligned with the National Rifle Association.

This is what change and activism looks like. This is what happens when the majority of Americans are fed up with being snowed by the corporate gun lobby blizzard of #badideas and leaves us and victims and survivors out in the cold. This time around, the discussion about the causes and effects of gun violence is heating up in the Presidential election.

Change is in the air. We can shed the light of day on the politicians who have bowed down to the corporate gun lobby for fear of their mythical power. Gun rights extremists are a minority of Americans and even gun owners who have held sway for far too long. We have had #Enough. Let’s get to work.

Guns and shovels

ShovelUnless you have been living under a rock, you know about the snow storm that hit the east coast last week-end. Millions of people were left to clear snow from their sidewalks and hope the plow didn’t come by while they were clearing snow from their cars. As a northern Minnesota person, I know about this. Shoveling is back breaking.

Once, many years ago, we got stuck on the remote Gunflint Trail near Grand Marais, Minnesota. during an unexpected snow storm. We went to cross country ski and enjoy my parents’ small cabin on a remote lake near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It was a great get-away from our (then) small daughter who was left behind with her grandma. But when the time came to go home, we faced some difficult driving conditions and the snow was drifted up on the cabin road where a long lake abutted the road. We got stuck in a snow drift and did not have a shovel. There happened to be a rustic home around the corner and so we walked there and knocked on the door. No one was home and we noticed a shovel outside of the front door.

So we took the shovel to get out of that drift and intended to bring it back to the house. But the driving was so bad that we had to drive a ways down the road and keep going. we hoped the owners would find the shovel standing up on the side of the road where we left it. I have a vivid memory of that trip.

But now, I guess “borrowing” a shovel can be dangerous as it was for this man in New Jersey after the snow storm. From the article:

Newark police say a man told them he found the shovel on the sidewalk on Sunday and was using it to clear an elderly neighbor’s walkway after a major snowstorm when the woman accused him of stealing her shovel.

The man returned the shovel. He was later walking when he said he was approached by the woman and several males and one of the males shot him in the buttocks on orders from the woman.

So why in the world would using a shovel to clear someone’s driveway promote the anger that this woman felt? Without that gun, what would have happened instead? No one would have been shot and injured for sure. Maybe an argument. Guns make arguments dangerous. And where are the “law abiding” gun owners who are responsible with their loaded guns? Is there enough common sense out there for gun owners like this woman to restrain themselves and put the gun away? If you read this blog, you know how often I write about incidents like this one.

Why should we have incidents like this one? We shouldn’t, period. When a gun is available and easily accessible it may be used to harm someone. What is it about the risk of loaded guns that some “law abiding” gun owners don’t understand? Have they been led to believe that a loaded gun will protect them from shadows and terrorists lurking in every corner so their fear causes them to stop thinking about a gun as a deadly weapon designed to kill someone? Or do they think it’s simply OK to shoot someone if they insult you or borrow something or have too much to drink and lose judgement? It’s really hard to wrap one’s head around this lunacy. As long as some people buy the ideas of the corporate gun lobby we will continue to read about these stupid and dangerous incidents in our media.

We have had #enough of this. It’s time to change that conversation about guns and gun violence and get to work to do something sensible about it. There are just plain no excuses for this kind of behavior. Let’s get to work.