I just finished listening to Fred Guttenberg being interviewed on the Brady podcast, Red, Blue and Brady. For those who are unfamiliar with this podcast, I cannot recommend it highly enough. In fact, the podcast, which has been running for about a year, has been nominated for a Shorty Award. I was one of the first people interviewed for the podcast and was honored to talk about my sister’s story and my decades of advocacy for common sense gun safety reform. The podcast has highlighted many topics related to gun safety reform and has featured guests from a variety of life experiences and expertise.
Brady’s podcast, Red, Blue, and Brady, has been recognized as a finalist for a prestigious Shorty Award after only its first year of production and publication. The Shorty Awards honor the best in production and development for numerous categories of content and social media, including podcast production. Red, Blue, and Brady’s series on racial justice was nominated and is a finalist in the podcast category.
“Red, Blue, and Brady” is the first podcast devoted solely to gun violence prevention, and we have now made it the first podcast devoted to gun violence prevention and racial justice. The nomination notes that in just three months, “Red, Blue, and Brady” (RBB) produced 17 podcast episodes devoted to the intersection of gun violence, racial inequality, and racial justice, featuring advocates, activists, academics, politicians, and survivors to speak on the issues.
“Red, Blue, and Brady” consistently placed among the top 200 education podcasts, demonstrating that the public is in need of well researched, passionate, bipartisan conversations on gun violence and race and racism. Episodes attracted listeners from across the U.S., as well as a notable number of listeners from Brazil, India, South Africa, and France. The https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Guttenbergseries garnered over 27,000 listeners and uplifts the work of organizations such as D.C.’s violence interrupters (episodes 45 and 59); a social club of mothers who have lost children to gun violence (episode 60); and youth activists (episodes 43 and 74).
Back to Fred Guttenberg. If you don’t know who he is, you should. Fred has been a vocal advocate for gun violence prevention since his daughter, Jaime, was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in 2016. We all know about this shooting don’t we? It was the shooting that started a movement that is still going strong- March For Our Lives.
It is a national tragedy that people have to march for their lives and keep shouting for support for common sense measures to reduce and prevent the daily toll of gun violence. It’s an epidemic and it continues even in the midst of the pandemic. In fact, more guns have been purchased and more gun background checks have been completed than since the years when the gun nuts decided that President Obama was going to take their guns away.
But this year’s sales spike is different because it’s being driven by a rise in first-time gun buyers, especially among African Americans and women.About 40% of gun sales in the first four months of the year were made by first-time buyers — far higher than the annual average of 24% over the past two decades, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association that tracks gun sales and analyzes industry trends.Gun sales among Black Americans are up 58% through September, according to the NSSF. Mark Oliva, the foundation’s director of public affairs, said the rise in Black gun ownership is unprecedented.”We’ve never seen a year-over-year increase that large in African-American gun buyers,” Oliva told CNN Business. “It is the largest demographic increase we’ve seen. People that are buying guns today look a whole lot less like me and a whole lot more like the rest of America,” added Oliva, who is White.
This ludicrous notion is raising its’ ugly head during the 2020 election as President Trump feeds on the fear and anger of those who claim that their rights are under attack and Joe Biden will take away their guns. People are scared in the uncertain times of COVID, racial unrest and job loss during a declining economy. Those fears are real but I maintain that guns will not help but rather have the potential to make things worse and more dangerous. And I am continually mystified at the anger over the life saving measure of mask wearing in public. This is complete and utter nonsense and the armed anti-maskers look like fools. But then, acting in your own best interest is, indeed, foolish. What happened to civility, civil protests and common sense?
Unfortunately not only do many believe guns will make them safer. Guns, of course, are deadly weapons designed to kill. Owning one comes with some risk. But I have written about this many times before.
Some extremists are arming up for a civil war and are engaged with right wing terror groups ready to roll if the results of the election are not to their liking. As I write this, they are getting ready for armed intimidation at polling places, urged on by an increasingly unhinged and desperate President who says he will likely not accept the results of the election.
“Part of the issue we’re seeing is with people congregating, whether it’s for protests or other issues, in cities, is it has basically brought together extremist individuals from all sides in close proximity,” said Seth Jones, the director of the Transnational Threats Project at the center. “We’ve seen people on all sides armed, and it does raise concerns about escalation of violence in U.S. cities.”
The report also linked the threat of violence to the country’s charged politics, the coronavirus pandemic and its financial fallout. It warned that violence could rise after the presidential election because of increasing polarization, growing economic challenges, concerns about racial injustice and the persistence of coronavirus health risks.
It said that if the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr., wins the election, white supremacists could mobilize, with targets likely to be Black people, Latinos, Jews and Muslims. A Republican presidential victory could involve violence emanating out of large-scale demonstrations, the report said.
Minnesota has been at the center of some of action since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. We learned recently that a private Tennessee company intended to hire retired armed military and law enforcement to “guard” polling places. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was having none of it and pursued legal action. Just yesterday, the company “decided” they would not send armed folks to Minnesota and they will not be allowed to be near our polling places.:
Attorney General Keith Ellison launched a probe into Atlas Aegis on Tuesday, the same day that a pair of local advocacy groups filed federal lawsuits in response to ads placed by the company seeking to hire armed guards for the “protection of election polls” in Minnesota.
In a settlement reached Friday, Atlas Aegis agreed that it will not provide security services in Minnesota around the time of the election — effectively through Jan. 1. The company also agreed to provide public notification that it was wrong to suggest that it was recruiting armed guards at Minnesota polling places, which would have violated the state’s election laws.
“Minnesotans should expect that our elections will run as safely, smoothly, and securely as they always have,” Ellison said in a statement. “One of the reasons is that my office and our partners are actively enforcing our laws against threatening, frightening, or intimidating voters.”
A sworn affidavit by the FBI underlying the complaint reveals new details about a far-right anti-government group’s coordinated role in the violence that roiled through civil unrest over Floyd’s death while in police custody.
Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old from Boerne, Texas, is charged with one count of interstate travel to incite a riot for his alleged role in ramping up violence during the protests in Minneapolis on May 27 and 28. According to charges, Hunter, wearing a skull mask and tactical gear, shot 13 rounds at the south Minneapolis police headquarters while people were inside. He also looted and helped set the building ablaze, according to the complaint, which was filed Monday under seal.
Unrest flared throughout Minneapolis following Floyd’s death, which was captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, causing Gov. Tim Walz to activate the Minnesota National Guard. As police clashed with protesters, Hunter and other members of the Boogaloo Bois discussed in private Facebook messages their plans to travel to Minneapolis and rally at the Cub Foods near the Third Precinct building, according to federal court documents. One of the people Hunter coordinated with posted publicly to social media: “Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the national network is going off,” the complaint states.
These are very real and fomented by our very own President who is making things worse instead of helping to calm the situation. I don’t recall this much violence or threats of violence during an election in my lifetime. We are living in dangerous and unpredictable times.
So many things about this are wrong and inexplicable. Brady is working hard to make sure elections are safe and that voters do not have their rights infringed. You can get involved by checking out the website. Make sure you know that efforts to intimidate voters at polling places with guns are illegal.
You can be a helper, as Fred Guttenberg is encouraging you and others to be in his new book, Find the Helpers. Fred spoke so passionately and eloquently in the podcast, about those who stepped in to help him and his family as they grieved the sudden violent and unexpected shock of the shooting death of their daughter. That is how he is getting through his loss. Helpers. I hope you will read his book to hear more about his story.
That is how I got through it after my sister was shot and killed in a domestic shooting during a contentious divorce. My friends, my church and many I did not know were there for me when I needed to talk and vent and cry. Like Fred, I decided not to sit back and do nothing but there were not many ways to be involved in 1992. It was the opportunity to go to the Million Mom March in 2000 that finally allowed me to be engaged and to use my grief to change things. I found my voice.
Fred has found his voice. Sometimes, as he admits, it gets a little loud and also inappropriate. But when the elected leaders do nothing on purpose, the frustration builds up and voices need to be loud. When they know there are solutions and they fail to solve them on purpose, it is hard to sit by. When they espouse fealty to a corrupt and failing NRA, voices need to be heard.
Fred and his family started a charitable organization called Orange Ribbons for Jaime that will give scholarships to selected students in the name of Jaime. The orange ribbons, of course, are for gun violence prevention. Our Northland Brady Chapter and Protect Minnesota have been bringing orange ribbons to events for years now to depict victims of gun violence. Orange ribbons remind us that we are here to help victims and survivors of gun violence.
Your voice needs to be heard. Be a helper. Do something. Be watchful during the election and in the weeks and months after because it is going to be a bumpy and rocky road. Be prepared. Stay calm. Carry on and be a voice for common sense.