Blogging for gun safety reform and changing the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. Common sense gun laws and gun safety reform and gun rights are not mutually exclusive.
Today it’s another anniversary of the nation’s first mass school shooting that broke our hearts as we watched, horrified at the images of students hanging out of windows and walking out of the school, hands over their heads. 12 died that day in 1999. We mourned together. The Columbine shooting was the first of what has since become a national epidemic of school shootings that have taken the lives of our precious children in numbers unimaginable. 20 six year olds were massacred in December of 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut. 32 at Virginia Tech. 16 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And it continues.
Time after time, we have rallied, lobbied, marched, rung bells and lit candles. The bodies have piled up as we watch our lapdog politicians ignore the devastation and the horror. We have heard the excuses. We have heard the nonsensical rhetoric of the corporate gun lobbyists and leaders deceiving us and lying to us over and over again. We have heard them say that trying to prevent shootings won’t make a difference because people will get guns anyway even though we are trying to stop the “anyway”. We have heard them say that only good guys with guns can save us from the consequences of our failure to enact laws that could save us from the shootings. We have heard them offer thoughts and prayers while refusing to take the action necessary to stop having to offer thoughts and prayers.
Today we remember the victims of the Columbine shooting. Yesterday and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow we have and will remember the more than 100 who die of gunshot injuries every day in America.
In Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea, Josh Horwitz and Casey Anderson reveal that the proponents of this view base their argument on a deliberate misreading of history. The Insurrectionist myth has been forged by twisting the facts of the American Revolution and the founding of the United States, the denial of civil rights to African-Americans after the Civil War, and the rise of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler. Here, Horwitz and Anderson set the record straight. Then, challenging the proposition that more guns equal more freedom, they expose Insurrectionism—not government oppression—as the true threat to freedom in the U.S. today.
We can safely say that even larger arsenals got away cleanly and are now laying around dens and family rooms next to the Bibles and back copies of National Review. The startling thing—outside, of course, of the fact that we somehow didn’t have an absolute bloodbath on the Capitol steps—is that I believe that a lot of these people did arm themselves for self-defense, except that they were “defending” themselves against the Washington in their heads, the one that had been carefully constructed there by their favorite radio and TV stars, and by a lot of the politicians inside the Capitol, the same ones who now are deploring the violence and asking for healing and reconciliation.
They brought their firepower to “defend” themselves against big-government liberals, and the many members of antifa and Black Lives Matter who now sit in places of power in the federal government. What if AOC and the rest of The Squad showed up on the National Mall with grenade-launchers? What then, huh? These people have more monsters rattling around in their heads than you can find in a Japanese horror film. The problem is that, sooner or later, they’re going to open fire on some of these phantoms and hit some real people. I don’t know what happens then.
They were ready to shoot members of Congress and hang the Vice President of the United States. They were armed with nooses, ropes, plastic zip ties, stun guns, pieces of lumber, knives, hockey sticks devices to break windows and other items that did a lot of harm and in the end, 5 people were dead. 2 officers later killed themselves. These were people deceived by Trump, by the NRA, by “fake news” or no news, by misinformation and by gaslighting and blaming the wrong people for their gripes. The horror and PTSD will live on forever in history.
Nine supporters of former President Donald Trump, all arrested on weapons charges in connection with the storming of the U.S. Capitol, had “enough ammunition to shoot every member of the House and Senate five times,” according to a startling new report on the role of firearms in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Some of these heavily armed insurrectionists allegedly made statements threatening violence against lawmakers ahead of the Capitol siege, including a man who texted that he’d be “putting a bullet” in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head; and another man who possessed a written note that menacingly described Rep. André Carson as “one of two muslims” in the House.
But the arrest and seizure data “likely vastly understates the presence of weapons at and near the Capitol on Jan. 6,” the report states, because police didn’t detain or search the majority of the insurrectionists on the day of the riot, many of whom had shared plans on social media to carry firearms. (Over 150 people have since been arrested for their role in the attack.)
Everytown’s report, however, is much more than a tally of guns and bullets in D.C. on Jan. 6; it’s an examination of how the “insurrectionist theory of the Second Amendment” — pushed for decades by powerful gun lobby groups like the National Rifle Association — led to an actual, armed insurrection in the seat of American democracy in the first week of 2021.
“We believe the NRA, like former President Trump, like some members of Congress, deserves blame for what led to Jan. 6,” Nick Suplina, the managing director of law and policy at Everytown, told HuffPost.
“You don’t get to Trump inciting an insurrection without an NRA laying the groundwork for all these years,” he said.
Everytown’s report highlights the decades long alarmist and paranoid rhetoric fomented by the NRA. It has led to people stockpiling weapons of mass destruction ( high capacity magazines, AR15s and other weapons intended to kill many people at one time). The domestic terror groups like Boogaloo Bois, Oathkeepers, QAnon, and Proud Boys to name a few, have been preparing for a long time. And when, finally, after fueling outright lies about election fraud, President Trump unleashed his angry mob on the capitol their dreams came true. Mob mentality, anger, feelings of frustration, entitlement and rightful indignation about stolen freedoms accompanied the mob down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol where a Constitutional process of accepting the Electoral College votes was taking place. The clear intent was to overturn the election and thus, our democracy. It was historic and will go down in history as the worst domestic attack on our nation to have ever taken place.
Intelligence reports trace the roots of the movement that stormed the Capitol. An Oct. 21 report by the New York Police Department warned that“racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists,” such as the Proud Boys, “may be emboldened” by President Donald Trump’s comments “to engage in acts of violence before, during or after the election as well as voter intimidation.” A Nov. 10 report warned that, post-election, “violent extremism . . . will likely increase in the near term, as political and social tensions throughout the country continue to rise.”
Law enforcement knew but did not act. An FBI report the day before the Capitol was stormed quoted one extremist preparing for battle: “Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war,” according to an account in The Post.
An extremist group called the Oath Keepers allegedly helped lead the vanguard. A Jan. 27 Justice Department indictment notes that, in November and December, group members exchanged messages about logistics, lodging and operational planning for Jan. 6. According to the indictment, one of the alleged conspirators proclaimed in a Dec. 30 post: “THIS IS OUR CALL TO ACTION, FRIENDS! SEE YOU ON THE 6TH IN WASHINGTON, D.C.” He posted three days later: “This kettle is set to boil.”
Even the Capitol Police, which allowed the mob to breach its security perimeter, saw an attack coming but couldn’t mobilize to stop it. The Post quoted from an internal Jan. 3 intelligence report: “Congress itself is the target on the 6th . . . there is the possibility that protesters may be inclined to become violent.”
We were warned. We didn’t think what happened on Jan. 6th was possible. We were warned.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning for years. We didn’t listen. we were warned. We didn’t think what happened on Jan. 6th was possible. Check out the Hate Map on the site to see where these dangerous extremist domestic terror groups are living- amongst many of us as it turns out. They could be your neighbors.
And now, we have been warned again. More violence is coming. Jan. 6th was just the beginning. Armed militia and other extremist groups have been stockpiling their guns for years for just this moment in time. waiting to use their extremist and twisted view of the second amendment to fight against their own government. The Department of Homeland Security has issued an actual warning:
Long-standing racial and ethnic tension—including opposition to immigration—has driven DVE attacks, including a 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.
DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities.
DHS remains concerned that Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) inspired by foreign terrorist groups, who committed three attacks targeting government officials in 2020, remain a threat.
Threats of violence against critical infrastructure, including the electric, telecommunications and healthcare sectors, increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.
DHS, as well as other Federal agencies and law enforcement partners will continue to take precautions to protect people and infrastructure across the United States.
DHS remains committed to preventing violence and threats meant to intimidate or coerce specific populations on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity, identity or political views.
DHS encourages state, local, tribal, and territorial homeland security partners to continue prioritizing physical security measures, particularly around government facilities, to protect people and critical infrastructure.
The U.S. Capitol is surrounded by fencing. National Guard troops will remain there until April. This is where we are right now.
The extremists amongst us have been radicalized by a madman whose name is Donald Trump. He was just the person to come along at a time when the anger, unwarranted fears, paranoia and dissatisfaction with everything was fomenting after many years of hiding below the surface- just below the surface. He fomented and encouraged the anger, hate, racism, White Supremacism, unrest and violence that has led us to this moment in our history.
The election of our country’s first Black president, in my opinion, riled up the White Supremacists amongst us. They did not like this uppity, intelligent, well educated and ambitious Black man. He was now in a position of superiority over the country and all of those resentful White people. If you read the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson, you will know what I am talking about. When a Black man becomes the leader of a mainly White country ( soon not to be true) it brings out the worst in some. Many of us celebrated Barack Obama’s election to be our first Black president. Others seethed about it. The rest is history.
Everything about Donald Trump’s presidency had to do with canceling whatever President Obama had accomplished out of pure spite. Psychopaths always get even, no matter how long it takes. It took Donald Trump 4 years and he is not done yet. I have no idea what the Republicans mean when they refer to the cancel culture. They made it up to cover for what is really wrong in Congress and America- their failure to hold Donald Trump accountable and stop him from what led to the January 6th insurrection. They knew. They know. They can’t handle the truth. They are canceling the truth and democracy.
Narcissistic personality disorder — one of several types of personality disorders — is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. People with narcissistic personality disorder may be generally unhappy and disappointed when they’re not given the special favors or admiration they believe they deserve. They may find their relationships unfulfilling, and others may not enjoy being around them.
These are recognizable and medically confirmed traits of a personality disorder commonly conferred on Donald Trump by others who know him well. And for those who have dealt with narcissists in their lives, the symptoms were obvious.
We are left with the psychological and physical wreckage of a violent movement that has been fomenting for decades. All it took was a leader who was clever enough to energize and incite those whose gripes and fears had turned to anger and resentment. Trump was and is a demagogue who has led his followers astray and has tried and will continue to try to ruin our democracy. He won’t quit until he gets his way or makes every attempt to get his way- no matter what it takes. He intends to get even for what he believes was a “landslide” win in the 2020 election. Apparently the Republican party is set to go along with all of this. Having not uttered the necessary words to deny the conspiracies and the violence, their silence is complicity. Out of fear, a few of them spoke out in the hours after the attack. But then their weakness got the better of them and they crumpled under fear of angry voters. Even they have been threatened and when the “guys with the guns make the rules”, it changes your resolve. But only if you let them make the rules. No, Wayne LaPierre, our founding fathers did not believe the second amendment “freedoms” should lead to an insurrection against the U.S. government.
These are the very same folks who insist that the Democrats not hold Trump and his insurrectionists responsible for what happened on Jan. 6th. They are wrong. Even if the Republicans in the Senate cannot bring themselves to do what they know is right for democracy and the country, we will know who they are. History will not be kind to them. They were warned many times over. They turned their heads towards their angry base. Trump did not learn his lesson, Senator Susan Collins. You was dangerously wrong. Maybe you have learned your lesson. We can hope.
There are insurrectionists within our Congress. That cannot stand. We will wait to see if the Republicans have the spine to do something about these dangerous people. If not, how can Congress act in unity? Can you hope for bipartisanship when some members aim to destroy their own elected body and believe in conspiracy theories and that the 2020 election of President Joe Biden was stolen? How will that play out? The gaslighting is already beginning with blaming the Democrats for the insurrection and for not working across the aisle. Does anyone remember what Mitch McConnell did about the nomination of Merrick Garland? And he thinks Democrats should be to blame for lack of bipartisanship?:
But our research has found that one party bears more of the blame. The bipartisanship that was common in the House through the mid-1970s began to fray as racial and cultural differences came to define the increasingly polarized and competitive parties. Partisan polarization began with these shifts in the coalitional bases of the parties, but Republicans, because of their increasingly homogeneous positions on race, religious traditionalism and other cultural issues, had more incentive to move right than Democrats had to move left. In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich and his allies fomented tribalism, using the House ethics process as a political weapon and uniting the GOP into a parliamentary-style opposition party. They had important and vocal allies in partisan media, starting with Rush Limbaugh and talk radio. Much the same happened a bit later in the Senate, where McConnell turned the filibuster into a weapon of mass obstruction and got his party to unite against every Obama initiative.
Today, Republicans are one of the most extreme (even radical) conservative parties in the democratic world, with no members in the House and arguably barely one in the Senate who would qualify as moderates or traditional conservatives, while Democrats look like a traditional center-left party. Though the “Squad” of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib receives much attention, a breakdown of voting records shows that the Democratic caucus is populated by more moderates than leftists. The asymmetric nature of this polarization makes bipartisanship almost impossible.
Thus we can expect more blaming, more gaslighting and likely more violence. The rancor is palpable. It will not lead to working together and it may lead to worse behavior as Congress members rightly fear for their personal safety. The days ahead will be rocky.
Memorial Day is about honoring and remembering our war veterans for their service and for those who were killed in the line of duty. The photo is one I took when we visited the American cemetery at Normandy. I will never forget seeing all of those crosses and the reverence felt while visitors walked amongst the graves of the soldiers whose lives were lost during the D-Day invasion that was the beginning of the end of World War ll.
My dad was a World War ll veteran who served in North Africa and Italy. His PTSD became noticed by my brother and me as we grew old enough to understand what those middle of the night panic attacks meant. Neither my mom or my dad mentioned the attacks to us as if we couldn’t hear him struggling to breathe in the quiet of the night. Today I remember him and his service to the country when it called. He enlisted in his 30s and risked his life for the cause.
My dad was a hunter and avid outdoorsman. He taught me how to shoot at targets when I was a teen-ager. I think he really wanted me to hunt with him and my mom, also an avid hunter. But I didn’t really like the feel of shooting a gun so I never did hunt with them.
My brother, on the other hand, became the hunter that I was not. He spent a lot of time with my mom and dad walking the woods partridge and deer hunting. There was a deer shack somewhere in the woods of northern Minnesota that hosted my family and their friends. They had fond memories of those days.
My brother is a veteran of the VietNam war and now lives with Parkinson’s Disease, loss of vision and PTSD, among other things, at a Veterans’ home in Minnesota. He never got over what he experienced in VietNam. When we sold the house where he lived with my mother, we discovered his collection of hunting guns and one pistol. Given his difficulties with panic attacks, alcoholism and PTSD, we decided to keep his guns at our home, locked and unloaded. There is no question in my mind that he would have used one of those guns on himself if they had been available to him.
Since our older sister had been shot and killed in a domestic shooting, certainly the last thing we needed was another family member killed by a bullet. He knew we had the guns and agreed that we should have them. After we moved from our own home, his guns were given to a friend where they are stored safely. I asked that he not sell them or give them to anyone without a background check, and given that he has common sense, he said he would comply with my request.
On this Memorial Day, I honor the service of Americans whose lives were taken in the line of duty. War left many, including my own family, with the mental scars that affected their lives forever. Neither my brother or my dad were interested in guns for self defense. They were hunters and it did not occur to them that they should have guns around the house for self defense. But neither of them stored their guns in a safe either. That was not thought of much in those days but now we know more about how easily guns are accessed by kids and teens who use guns for suicide or in unintentional shootings. And we know personally how guns can be used in domestic disputes.
Veterans commit gun suicides with alarmingly high frequency. And guns are the most often used method. From Giffords:
Today more than 6,000 American veterans die by suicide each year, and nearly 70% of these deaths involve firearms. From 2005 to 2017, the veteran suicide rate increased by nearly 41%. We must do more to protect the veterans who risked their lives to protect us.
Research suggests that having a gun in the home triples a person’s overall risk of suicide, and nearly half of all veterans own firearms. Because 85% of gun suicide attempts end in death, when individuals in crisis reach for a gun, they rarely
“This is a tragedy that should not happen and cannot happen again,” Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said. “Please be mindful of weapons in your house, the fact that the kids are home, they’re being schooled at home, they don’t have a lot of extra activities to be doing, they become curious and these are the things that can happen.”
Yes, these things can and do happen. Responsible gun owners keep their guns stored safely away from the hands of kids and teens and others who could be a danger to themselves or others. And, of course, storing guns in a safe prevents stolen guns from being used in a gun crime or shooting.
Please stay safe on this Memorial Day and also stay healthy from the spread of coronavirus. Remember to practice gun safety, social distancing and wearing masks. What we do individually is also for the common good. And common sense will save lives.
As bleak as things seem right now in our country, I have hope that common sense will win over corruption, gun violence, climate change denial, affordable health care opponents and the many other politically charged issues of our time. In the end, right usually wins but it is going to take a lot of hard work.
And the poll marks the first time that more than 60% of women have said they backed impeaching Trump and removing him from office (61% say so now, compared with 56% in October and 51% in May), even as a majority of men remain opposed to impeachment (53% oppose it).
In my opinion women look at verbal abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, gun violence, the economy, family leave, affordable child care, corruption, health care, freedom to choose, and a myriad of other problems to solve differently from men. That is because they are much more often the victims than men. Inequality has a way of changing your life view. Minority groups of all kinds understand that perfectly well.
The day after President Trump was inaugurated I participated in the Women’s March, sitting on a bus from Duluth to DC and back to make my voice heard. Along with more than a million others- mostly women but also men and children, we let America know that we were not in support of a man who exhibited bullying, boorish, abusive and intolerant behavior during the campaign and still, to this day.
According to what I have seen the Women’s March organization, going strong still after the March in January of 2017. Watch for more in the coming weeks.
Also going strong is March For Our Lives, formed after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2017. Their Facebook and Twitter feeds are active with thousands of supporters. And the members, some whose names are better known than others, have written a plan for Congress to enact on gun safety reform. It is called a Peace Plan for a Safer America. The name of their plan says it all. There is hope when our young people can write legislation for a safer America that is better and more comprehensive than the adults have come up so far.
Businesses have stepped up to the plate as they have watched our kids and communities experience horrendous mass shootings. Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault rifles and the business is booming. This is totally contrary to the corporate gun lobby mantra that gun sales are necessary for businesses to make a profit. The corporate nature of the corporate gun lobby is not doing so well with their messaging. Not selling guns sends a message that some people just don’t want to buy them and don’t feel comfortable when a store is selling them.
Other businesses have stood up to the perceived power and control of the gun lobby by saying they don’t want people openly carrying their loaded guns inside. Shoppers really don’t want to see people with guns while they are just running errands, often with their children. Here is a list of those who have decided that guns inside are not a great idea for their business. The logic of the gun rights advocates isn’t making much sense any more since we understand that a gun in a business or school is more likely to be used against those inside than in self defense but never mind- some believe their gun must be at the ready at all times no matter what they are doing. From the article:
“With this world being the way it is, we’ve got to protect ourselves,” said Howard, who worked as a construction supervisor until he broke his back on the job 15 years ago. “I haven’t had to shoot anybody yet, but you never know. I’ve keep a fire extinguisher in my house even though I’ve never had to use it.”
The thing is, the world in America has regular shootings that could not have been prevented by having a gun on your person. The mistake they are making is the assumption they will have time to plan to shoot someone who opens fire suddenly in a public place with absolutely no warning and no time to act. It’s a myth. See my post about this- 16 seconds with a gun.
Health care providers have stepped up to say: #ThisIsOurLane after the NRA had the nerve to tell them that they should stay in their lane regarding gun violence prevention. In other words, don’t talk to patients about the risks of guns to their health and well being. Physicians and other health care providers were having none of it and decided to fight back. It is their lane, of course, but never mind- the NRA doesn’t want anyone interfering in their desire to normalize guns, carrying of guns in public and, apparently shootings.
But some don’t want us to feel hopeful. The NRA and corporate gun lobby keeps pounding the drum of fear and paranoia about any gun safety reform. Gun sales have gone down because Donald Trump, as President, is not going to take away their guns like Obama did. Remember when he did that?
Back to my first thoughts about women wanting the changes we deserve and the nation we ought to have- without fear of being shot, abused, left without economic security, there is discussion in the article about economic prosperity and that Americans are feeling good about the economy while at the same time so many are sleeping on the streets and not able to take care of their families adequately:
In his Thanksgiving proclamation for 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed gratitude for the nation’s turn “to things spiritual” in the previous year. “We can truly say, ‘What profiteth it a nation if it gain the whole world and lose its own soul?’ ” FDR wrote.
That was in the depths of the Great Depression, and Roosevelt was the incumbent. The task facing Roosevelt’s political heirs is to make the case that the same principle applies during times of plenty.
When it comes to gun violence, we have lost many souls in senseless acts of violence. We have also lost our soul in the seeming acceptance and refusal to do anything about the moral crisis and national epidemic of gun violence. Those of us who care about gun violence and have experienced the death of someone close to us have volunteered and worked tirelessly to make change happen. To some extent we have succeeded. The conversation has changed. Just as it did about auto safety and bans on smoking in public places, the majority of Americans get that something must be done.
More states have passed background check, Extreme Risk Protection Orders and other laws that have reduced some of the violence. But we are not doing enough. Decades of listening to the NRA and allowing them to shape the conversation has led to a country where gun violence is actually on the rise and mass shootings are happening with increasing regularity. As that happens the public is becoming more supportive of doing something about it as the lapdog politicians for the gun lobby dig in and stand firm against all odds.
Times are changing. I still have hope. I am thankful for my family- for my grandchildren who so far have been safe from tragedy. My family, like many others, have suffered from suicide, homicide, divorces, and minor difficulties that, in the long term, have made us stronger. We carry on because we have hope and love.
This holiday time of the year is difficult for families sensing the missed presence of a loved one or a friend and that empty chair that should have been for their son, daughter, mother, father, grandchild.
We are better than this. We are resilient. We will pass stronger gun laws. I have hope that our young people will lead the charge. And when women are put in charge of things, a different view prevails and we move towards more peaceful solutions to our problems. We will deal with a corrupt President now under impeachment. Our democracy is under attack but so far has held. We must make sure it stays that way. We will resist and persist.
In my last post I wrote about the businesses who have decided to “come out” and tell their customers that they want nothing to do with their openly carried guns in their places of business. This would not have happened a month ago. But after the heinous shooting at an El Paso Walmart, it became obvious that any business could be the next one found in a Wikipedia entry for a mass shooting site. Who wants that to be your legacy?
The letter — which urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the Democrat-led House of Representatives — is the most concerted effort by the business community to enter the gun debate, one of the most polarizing issues in the nation and one that was long considered off limits.
It’s been “off limits” for far too long. The corporate gun lobby has made it so. And our elected leaders and many influential business leaders and others, for that matter, who could have made a difference decades ago have now decided to weigh in.
The thing is, the public has been ahead of elected leaders for decades now. Look at the latest poll which is just one of many showing the same results over the last few decades. Support is undeniable. But deny does Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump and the Republicans who have run out of excuses.
Why has it taken so long to act? Sometimes this is the way the system works I guess. But it does take bold action and a constant drumbeat of advocacy and also, I guess, one too many mass shootings, before it enters the collective consciousness of a country exhausted by the carnage.
But that was 20 years ago. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from gunshot injuries needlessly. We let the NRA lead the conversation with the second amendment as their foil to stop any common sense action to stop the next shooting. We let the gun lobby continue to protect gun manufacturer profits over lives. We let our leaders get away with avoiding any discussion about the role guns actually play in gun violence.
We are all to blame for this in a way. The Democrats got scared that if they touched the “third rail” of gun violence they would lose their seats. Never mind that thousands lost their loved ones. We tried. We have held rallies and hundreds of vigils. We have lobbied at the state and federal level. We have sent letters, made phone calls, visited with our leaders, lit candles, rang bells, and demanded action. We have lie-ins and sit-ins and stood up for common sense. We have protested in the streets of our towns and in the nation’s Capitol.
Even a few months ago, Democrats vying to become our next President would not have touched the issue of gun violence. But something happened after the Parkland shooting. The student survivors fought back and made their voices loud and clear. March For Our Lives joined the others and it was hard to ignore their young and articulate voices.
The tide is changing. At this week’s Democratic debate, candidates tripped all over themselves to be the one with the best plan for preventing gun violence. The loudest voice was that of former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke who represented El Paso. El Paso, the site of the mass shooting at a Walmart that was carried out by a White Supremacist whose rhetoric matched that of our sitting President. O’Rourke suspended his campaign to be with the victims in El Paso and it changed him.
Sitting with those whose sisters, brothers, children, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, cousins and friends have just been shot and killed so suddenly and violently is hard work. Who among us wants to listen to those stories? But we must hear their stories if change is to happen. And it was so clear that the shooter in the El Paso incident should not have had a gun. It was so clear that the Dayton shooter should not have had a gun but they both got them anyway.
So when Beto O’Rourke described sitting with the mother of a 15 year old girl as she died from the horrendous injuries caused by bullets from an AR-15, it was too much. There were so many injured people because AR-15s can do that- shoot as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, that ambulances couldn’t respond to the mayhem. And so, the 15 year old died as her mother watched her bleed to death.
Even some Democrats came unglued and are wringing their hands. Oh my- what will happen now? Will we lose voters? Did we make people too angry? Will we lose the Presidency? What should we do about this perceived threat to gun rights? I guess time will tell how this shakes out. At the least it started a very important discussion about weapons designed for war in the hands of civilians.
What Beto O’Rourke did was “accidentally” or on purpose speak the truth. The public knows that it is AR-15s that have been used in many of our mass shootings. The public at large does not want these weapons in circulation so they get into the hands of people who intend mass carnage. Even many gun owners don’t want them, don’t need them, and are willing to give them up.
And this, dear readers, is why we need to act and act soon. When gun rights extremists occupy our state houses and Congress and believe they can own any weapon they want to own with no restrictions and then issue threatening rhetoric at candidates for office, we have turned a very dangerous corner.
“In shootings with assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, 155% more people are shot and 47% more people are killed. These weapons of war were designed for mass destruction. (…) According to the @nytimes, the federal assault weapon ban — which ran from Sept. 13, 1994 to Sept. 13, 2004 — was associated with a 25% drop in gun massacres and 40% percent drop in fatalities. (…) On September 13, 2004, Congress let the federal assault weapons ban expire. In the decade after, America saw a 347% increase in fatalities in gun massacres. Enough is enough. Congress: it’s past time to end this bloodshed and #BanAssaultWeapons now! “
Is it too extreme that our schools have been forced to have these drills in the first place because our leaders refuse to act to prevent school shooters from getting guns in the first place?
I know the answers. I own the book pictured above and know some of the people who wrote sections of that book. I understand that even still, decades after shootings, they do not forget the terror. I also know some people affected by mass shootings and “everyday shootings” like my own sister’s. I know the emotional and financial trauma suffered by too many. I have met some of the survivors of these shootings and seen the sadness in their eyes.
You know the answers. The public understands. The Democrats are not afraid anymore. American business leaders are not afraid anymore. Teachers, parents and students are not afraid to speak out. Survivors are not afraid. The stakes are high. Lives are at stake.
The only ones still afraid of the corporate gun lobby are the ones who can make the difference.They are afraid they will lose their power and influence and yes, campaign donations. If they won’t act, we will. We will make sure they are voted out of office and left to wonder what happened and why they refused to act on our nation’s epidemic of gun violence.
After traveling in Greece, I am recovering from jet lag and getting back to my life. Nothing stopped in the U.S. while I was gone of course. The Mueller report was released with all of the concomitant and expected chaos and controversy. The weather was awful in Minnesota while I was gone. Actually the weather was cool and a bit rainy in Greece for the first part of our trip and our guide explained that the snow capped mountains we saw were very unusual for April in Greece. In a normal year, there is not snow on the mountains in April there. But this was not a normal year.
Clearly it is not a normal year in the U.S. A President and presidency is run amok. The Mueller report revealed that there were enough instances of obstruction of justice to make us all know that this is not normal. And there is no excuse for calling it not normal because what is happening is frightening and dangerous to our democracy. But never mind, the President and his sycophants carry on as if there is nothing to see here even though it is as obvious as a large wart on someone’s nose that we have a serious crisis on our hands.
Turmoil racking the National Rifle Association is threatening to turn the group’s annual convention into outright civil war, as insurgents maneuver to oust Wayne LaPierre, the foremost voice of the American gun rights movement. The confrontation pits Mr. LaPierre, the organization’s longtime chief executive, against its recently installed president, Oliver L. North, the central figure in the Reagan-era Iran-contra affair, who remains a hero to many on the right. Behind it is a widening crisis involving a legal battle between the N.R.A. and its most influential contractor, Ackerman McQueen, amid renewed threats from regulators in New York, where the N.R.A. is chartered, to investigate the group’s tax-exempt status. With contributions lagging, the N.R.A. is also facing an increasingly well-financed gun control movement, motivated by a string of mass shootings.
Count me as not sad about this state of affairs. The NRA has stopped common sense gun legislation for way too long for its’ own financial and political purposes. They are not considering the loss of life in increasingly large numbers, spewing hate and paranoia instead of working with us to find solutions to our national gun violence epidemic. It’s time for a reckoning. They have wielded undue influence and money for decades as the bodies pile up. The American public is against what they are doing but some of our lapdog politicians are too afraid to stand up. That is changing though as the U.S House passed several gun laws in the new Congress to keep people who could be dangerous with guns from getting them. The Minnesota House is poised to do the same and other states have passed recent laws to make their residents safe from shootings.
They exploited campaign finance loopholes and now they are getting caught. As is explained in the above article Giffords is taking them on in a lawsuit. It’s about time for accountability:
The worst news for the NRA, however, may be a new lawsuit filed against the Federal Exchange Commission. The FEC is being sued by nonprofit group, Giffords, for failing to uphold financial laws allegedly broken by the NRA.
Valerius said he wore the sweatshirt as a show of support for the Second Amendment, and feels that there should be a “loophole” in the dress code for that type of expression. He wore it to school again Friday.
A loophole? Let’s talk about loopholes that allow anyone, even domestic abusers, teens, felons and those adjudicated mentally ill to purchase any kind of gun they want and then use it to kill people. That is a loophole.
Hector Balderas, New Mexico’s attorney general, said federal agents had arrested the leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, who had been operating under the alias Johnny Horton Jr. Mr. Balderas said in a statement that Mr. Hopkins was arrested on charges of firearms possession by a felon.
Sigh. Innocent people are terrorized every day by gun extremists. We have our very own home grown terrorists who think they can do anything with their guns and their rights. Only in America.
” 1) The NRA, on behalf of gun manufacturers, gets Trump to revoke the small arms trafficking agreement. 2) Arms manufacturers get rich selling guns to gangs in countries like Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. 3) Armed gangs make life unbearable for the citizens in those countries. Thousands are forced to leave and walk across a continent to “safety” in the US. 4) Trump convinces Americans the these asylum-seekers are dangerous criminals. 5) Frightened Americans buy more guns to protect their families. 6) Arms manufacturers get even richer. The NRA has done its job.”
Members of MS-13, a violent street gang, are a tiny fraction of the number of people apprehended while trying to illegally cross the southwestern border. In the 2019 fiscal year thus far, border officials apprehended more than 360,000 people trying to illegally cross the border. Of those people, 221, or 0.06 percent, were MS-13 members.
(See above statement from Protect Minnesota)
(…) The 2014 Arms Trade Treaty regulates international sales of conventional weapons (like tanks, combat vehicles, warships, missiles and firearms). It does not “surrender American sovereignty” over gun laws to the United Nations or hand enforcement powers over guns to “foreign bureaucrats.” The United States was a signatory to the treaty, but did not ratify it as 101 other nations have. Mr. Trump withdrew the United States’ signature during his speech. The treaty aims to establish international norms for regulating arms sales between countries and addressing illegal arms sales. It prohibits selling weapons to nations that are under arms embargoes or will use them to commit genocide, terrorism, war crimes or attacks against civilians. (…) “It has absolutely no effect on U.S. domestic gun laws,” said Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, which supports the treaty. Adam Winkler, a Second Amendment expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, agreed and noted that withdrawing the United States as a signatory would have very little impact given that the Senate never ratified the treaty. What Mr. Trump is relinquishing, Mr. Kimball said, is a seat at the international table to set global standards and better enforcement in countries most affected by the illegal arms trade. (…)
You can watch a video of his entrance when someone in the audience throws a cell phone at the President. Thank God no guns are allowed inside of the convention.
A former Tulsa police officer acquitted in the shooting death of an unarmed man is expected to teach a National Rifle Association course next month.
I want to end with where I began- with our trip to Greece where the origin of the phrase “Molon Labe” began:
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC), one of the most famous battles in history . King Leonidas of Sparta said the phrase Molon Labe (means “Come and take them” in ancient Greek) to Xerxes I of Persia 2492 years ago when the Persians asked the Spartans to lay down their arms and surrender.
The second amendment apologists have misused this one as well. We visited the site where the battle of Thermopylae took place and where this phrase was used in its’ original context.
The “second amendment” folks claim this phrase for their own purposes which is to let people know that they will resist any attempts to take away their guns or their rights as if that is going to happen. It is yet another loophole in language that has been exploited for political purposes.
The photo shows the famous statue of King Leonidas.
Resisting common sense and any attempts to keep the rest of us safe from danger and shootings by exploiting the meanings of language is disingenuous at the least. They are like the goats ( in photo from my trip taken on the Greek island of Kefalonia) who take risks, follow the ersatz leader and sometimes do dangerous things that could hurt the herd.
Working together works out better in the end for all of us. In Greece and in most other democratized countries, they think the U.S is just crazy when it comes to guns. Our guides told us that in Greece, it is very hard to get a gun of any kind. They are only used for hunting and not much for that , as it turns out. When it comes to semi-automatic assault rifles, they proclaimed their dangerousness and surprise that in America, just about anyone could have one. They don’t believe that guns are necessary for much of anything in Greece and their gun death rate , among the lowest in the world, proves that they have common sense. The ancient Greeks were very wise as are the modern Greeks that we encountered on our trip.
And so it is always instructive to travel for many reasons but getting a perspective on what’s going on at home is useful and mind expanding. We are a country unto our own when it comes to loopholes and gun laws.
“I want to reserve a space for the humane. I hope I would react humanely. And I hope it would affect me. But does that lead me to apologise for what was done? And I appeal back to standard discussions about respect for civil liberties. What does that mean? It means people will abuse these rights. But what does it mean, as a structural feature, to have access to military weapons as a society? I’m not trying to brush it off but it means accepting people will abuse their liberties, but that’s why they deserve protection. If no one is going to abuse a gun, it wouldn’t be a right worth protecting. If no one was going to make a speech, we wouldn’t need to defend the principle of freedom of speech. The same thing with the right to be secure in your possessions.”
The problem with Wilson’s argument is that’s it’s an argument, one that you might formulate in the sixth-form debating society. And on the other side, there would be a dead person. Your mother, perhaps. Or your son who, if it hadn’t been for Wilson, and his desire to push the boundaries of internet freedom further, would still be alive. But I can’t get through on this point.
Coming from an avowed libertarian and anarchist, these are worrisome words. “The right to secure your possessions” is an interesting turn on language. Given that every day, there are incidents where otherwise “law abiding gun owners” don’t secure their possessions and people end up dead, what in the world does this guy mean?
Criminal laws often change because of shifting societal attitudes or in response to other events. One example is the decriminalization and reduced penalties involved in possessing small amounts of marijuana. But the destruction caused by the opioid epidemic and explosion in prescription drug misuse and abuse has led to the opposite result. Louisiana laws regarding possession of heroin, opiates, and prescription drugs have become harsher, and prosecutors throughout the state have been aggressively seeking convictions as part of efforts to fight the crisis.
It is not hard to understand why law enforcement is attacking these crimes so vigorously. In 2016, for the first time in history, more people died in New Orleans from drug overdoses than were killed in homicides. It is estimated that 175 Americans die from opioid overdoses every single day, and the personal and economic damage caused by opioid abuse is astronomical.
If you are arrested for possession of heroin or the unlawful possession of opioids or other prescription medications, you could be facing hefty fines, significant time behind bars, and other serious consequences.
And so, there are shifting societal attitudes in response to gun violence. In fact, 97% of Americans agree that we ought to require a criminal Brady background check every time a gun is sold. That doesn’t happen as we all know. Private sellers are allowed to sell guns in their possession to anyone who wants to buy them. It could be a felon. It could be a domestic abuser. It could be someone who has been adjudicated mentally ill. The seller wouldn’t know that of course, unless the buyer was subjected to an easy and quick background check through the FBI’s National Instant Check System.
But if one can possess a plastic gun made at home on a 3D printer, who is to know anything about the person who has made that gun?
Last month, the agency agreed to settle a multi-year legal battle with Texan Cody Wilson, who claimed in a lawsuit the government infringed on his right to free speech for posting the programming code online to print a 3D gun. He was ordered to take it down for violating US export laws.
The administration said in the settlement, which was not made public but provided by his attorneys to certain media outlets, that Mr Wilson’s charity group Defense Distributed could post the code online and it agreed to pay $40,000 of his legal fees.
“The government fought us all the way and then all of the sudden folded their tent,” Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun rights group who assisted Mr Wilson on the case, told CNN.
Though the lawsuit had been filed during the Obama administration, Mr Gottlieb said much of the case had been handled by career civil servants not political appointees of Mr Trump.
Was it Russian money as is asked in the above article?:
The F.B.I. and special counsel Robert Mueller are investigating meetings between N.R.A. officials and powerful Russian operatives, trying to determine if those contacts had anything to do with the gun group spending $30 million to help elect Donald Trump—triple what it invested on behalf of Mitt Romneyin 2012. The use of foreign money in American political campaigns is illegal. One encounter of particular interest to investigators is between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian banker at an N.R.A. dinner. (…) Torshin—who Spanish authorities wanted to arrest in 2013 on money-laundering allegations—made energetic efforts to ingratiate himself with the Trump campaign. (Torshin was never charged and has denied any wrongdoing in the money-laundering case.) He met Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner during the N.R.A.’s convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in May 2016. Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., has dismissed the conversation between his client and Torshin as “all gun-related small talk.”
Really? “Gun related small talk”? Doubtful.
Since the above linked article was written, we now know about an actual Russian spy who spent some time getting to know leaders from the NRA and other conservative folks who had influence into the Trump campaign. I wrote my last post about this.
So back to 3D guns. Is there any common sense at all to allowing anyone to make a gun in the comfort of their own home?
The answer just has to be NO. People who will be a danger to themselves or others, if they have the funds to invest in the required printer, could make a gun like this and carry out a crime against an innocent person(s). This is just not the kind of America we want or should have. Gun rights do not include anything that anyone wants to do. There are limits.
And speaking of limits and the NRA, can we touch for a minute on the tragic incident in Florida, the gunshine state, involving a white man who shot and killed a black man in a dispute over a parking space? Because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, the shooter will most likely go free. There is still another step but the sheriff has said he will not charge the man with murder because of this law. Read below:
Sheriff’s detectives said Michael Drejka, 47, approached Jacobs while her boyfriend Markeis McGlockton, and the couple’s 5-year-old son, Markeis Jr., went into the store. Drejka and Jacobs began arguing about her parking in the handicapped parking space.
Witnesses told police that McGlockton came outside, walked over to Drejka while he was arguing and “forcibly pushed” Drejka, causing him to fall.
“This is a violent push, this wasn’t a shove, this wasn’t just a tap,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a Friday press conference.
In response, the news release stated, Drejka pulled out a handgun while he was on the ground and shot McGlockton in the chest.
“Witnesses say McGlockton walked back into the convenient store where he collapsed,” the release stated. He was taken to a hospital where he died.
The state of Florida has made it even harder for victims’ families to get a hearing in court over the murder of an unarmed ( most often) loved one:
The framework of Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law was changed this year, Gualtieri said. Before, the defendant/shooter used “stand your ground” as a defense and had to prove they were in fear of further body harm, the law now says the state attorney has to provide “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant/shooter is not entitled to “stand your ground” immunities.
“Nowhere else is there anything like this in criminal law where somebody asserts something and the burden then shifts to the other person,” Gualtieri said. “That’s a very heavy standard and it puts the burden on the state.”
Gualtieri said the case will go to the state attorney. Meanwhile, “Drejka will not be charged, will not be arrested by us … either (the state attorney) will concur or not and if he concurs, there will be no arrest.”
Over 30,000 Americans are killed by bullets every year. It is a health care epidemic.
Elections are coming. Vote for candidates who will actually care about saving lives. Gun rights and gun safety reform are not mutually exclusive no matter what the corporate gun lobby would like you to believe.
WASHINGTON– Attorneys representing the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence have informed a Texas federal court that they anticipate filing legal action within days related to a settlement that would allow new designs for downloadable, untraceable guns to become public and available world-wide as early as August 1. The gun safety organizations urged the court to consider the public safety and national security risks posed by the settlement, which would let Defense Distributed —a company run by a self-proclaimed anarchist who wants to undermine gun safety laws —post its gun blueprints online in the form of Computer Aided Design files.
“[T]his settlement is far from ordinary,” the gun safety organizations write in a letter available here. “It is dangerous, irreparable and – as the government itself has emphatically argued for years – raises issues of national defense and national security of the highest order. It is also, we believe, illegal.”
This is very good news indeed. National security is at stake here. What kind of country to we want? I would argue that we don’t want people making 3D guns in their living rooms and potentially committing acts of terror on the American public.