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.
(Apologies for the formatting. Something went wrong with WordPress while posting.)
Yes, America, we just finished what is supposed to be a peaceful family holiday. As for me, it was one of the better Thanksgivings we have had. Our cabin has become the gathering place for our family so everyone converged in our small place for the holiday week-end. We managed to cook the dinner in our small kitchen and it was one of the best and tastiest yet. There were no arguments- no violence. Laughter, kids sliding and playing outside in the snow and memory making times.
Black Friday is here. Shopping has begun and deals are happening all over the internet and in stores. Americans love deals on things. The holidays are officially upon us, like it or not. As I wrote in my last post, the holidays mean something very different to victims and survivors of gun violence. Just as with any disease or accidental death, the unexpected loss of a loved one is very difficult at holiday times. Since my focus here is on gun safety reform and gun violence prevention, I write about the loss of loved ones in violent, often preventable deaths due to shootings.
William Ronald Pulliam appeared unrepentant after fatally shooting a teenager during a confrontation outside a West Virginia discount store.
“The way I look at it, that’s another piece of trash off the street,” Pulliam allegedly told police, according to a criminal complaint.
But the 62-year-old man, in a jailhouse interview with CNN affiliate WCHS, categorically denied making that statement. He said he feared for his life when 15-year-old James Means allegedly pulled a gun on him. The complaint did not say Means had a gun.
This is “Stand Your Ground” on steroids. Without that gun, the teen would be alive today. Tell me again that more guns have made us safer and that an armed society is a polite society. These are lies perpetrated by the corporate gun lobby and their lackeys in Congress and our legislatures. A teen should not be dead over unsupported fear that he had a gun.
The incident began about 6 p.m. on Thursday. Local news station KOLO reported that “there was apparently a dispute over a parking spot” and said police characterized the shooting as a road rage incident.
Reno Police said two vehicles stopped near the exit of the parking lot, The Associated Press reported. It said: “Police said both persons involved were armed with weapons and a 33-year-old man was shot dead at the scene.”
So much for “responsible” gun toting Americans with permits to carry.
Of course it makes no common sense but that is not what is driving our gun culture. Because if we practiced common sense, these kinds of shootings would be much more rare.
There are more that I likely missed or just did not report. About 80 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries.
So what should we do? Just let these kinds of shootings happen without making the slightest attempt to prevent them? Or without doing any meaningful and scientific research into the causes and effects of gun violence? Or without trying to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them?
Just because shootings have not yet affected you does mean that one day, you or someone you know or love could be a victim of a senseless and avoidable shooting. That means that you should be joining in efforts to prevent and reduce gun violence of all kinds- whether homicide, suicide, terrorism, or “accidental”.
It doesn’t have to be like this. The only reason it is is because as a country, we have let the corporate gun lobby and its lapdogs in Congress and legislatures have their way. Lies, deception, fear, paranoia and profits have kept us from saving lives. And we disagree on how that plays out in our everyday lives.
Scott, an African-American, is one of many minorities who have been flocking to gun stores to protect themselves, afraid Trump’s victory will incite more hate crimes.
“You feel that racists now feel like they can attack us just because the president is doing it,” Earl Curtis, the owner of Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Virginia, told NBC News.
Gun store owners told NBC News that since November 8 they’re seeing up to four times as many black and minority customers — and black gun groups are reporting double the normal number of attendees at their meetings since the election.
Back to the gun lobby, in this new article in The Trace, we see how the NRA actually cleverly and deceptively has worked for decades to make sure someone like Trump got elected. Sociologist and writer, Scott Meltzer, is interviewed for this article. Let’s take a look fat his observations from the linked article:
Yeah, I think the really interesting dynamic that the NRA has in its rhetoric and its language is that it frames itself and its members as victims of this culture war that’s removing guns and giving special rights to women and people of color and gays and lesbians. Its members are the new minority, they’re the new victims.
The flip side for the NRA is that it also frames its members as heroes, as freedom fighters. The group labels itself as the oldest civil rights organization in the country. It’s essentially a religion, it’s a faith. It’s a fundamental belief system, it’s the religion of freedom — that they have to literally fight ’til the death. That’s what Heston was saying with “from my cold, dead hands,” right? There are not a lot of other single-issue interest groups that would use that kind of rhetoric.
That kind of rhetoric is not based on fact but on raw emotion, fear, power, and loss of control. I get it that many good Americans own guns for hunting and self protection but again, most Americans have not bought into this kind of rhetoric and do understand that gun owning, gun rights and reasonable restrictions on guns and gun owners are not mutually exclusive. It is because we want to keep ourselves, our loved ones and our families safe that we can agree on this. But what that means seems to be where we can’t meet in the middle. If this is about culture, it is essential that we are talking about the risk of guns and ways to prevent people from getting shot.
#Enough. Let’s get to work to change the conversation, the culture and policy so we can protect our children and families from devastating gun violence.
Gun violence has a ripple effect that spreads far beyond the victim and the immediate family. It is a public health epidemic. The corporate gun lobby is part of this ripple effect because were it not for their fierce opposition to doing the right thing to reduce and prevent gun violence, the ripple would be smaller. But the carnage continues daily and does not take a holiday.
Judging by the size and depth of the wound, police believe it was fired into the air from a five-mile radius, which would include Omaha.
“Just to be in your own yard and get struck by a bullet from the sky, you know, it is supposed to be fireworks coming from the sky, not bullets,” said grandfather Jim Riddle. “We thought it was a firework that hit him right here and then all of the sudden we found out it was a bullet laying on the floor after she lifted up the cloth, putting pressure on the blood.”
Looking weary and visibly frustrated, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy delivered a press conference Sunday afternoon addressing the high levels of gun violence Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, attributing much of it to lax gun laws.
As of 3 p.m. Sunday, Chicago police confirmed nine shooting deaths and at least 40 others wounded in shootings since Thursday afternoon. Earlier this week, McCarthy promised “all hands on deck” for the holiday weekend. (…) McCarthy displayed an array of firearms on a table at the press conference, saying that Chicago Police seized “about one illegal gun per hour” over Fourth of July weekend thus far. (…)
Amari was shot, along with a 26-year-old woman, just before midnight. Sunday morning, police said they were not the intended targets of the shooting; McCarthy confirmed that police believe the target was Amari’s father, who he said is a “ranking gang member” with 45 previous arrests, including for illegal gun possession.
McCarthy said he was most recently arrested on a gun charge in April, but then released the next day. “If Mr. Brown is in custody,” McCarthy said, “his son is alive. That’s not the case. Quite frankly, he shouldn’t have been on the street.
“It’s real simple,” he continued. “Gun possessors are potential murderers. If they don’t learn a lesson for carrying the gun, they keep carrying the gun. They get into an argument, now instead of fighting, they shoot.”
McCarthy said there need to be stricter gun laws and blamed “the gun lobby” for the lack of political motivation to pass them.
Lula Hill has a strategy for keeping her three sons alive.
It begins just before they leave for school in the morning. She rubs their foreheads with anointing oil and says a prayer that God might protect them when they are not in her sight.
Then there are the more practical steps, like teaching the boys to stay away from the windows of their own home, on the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Roseland. Jaden, the youngest, who is 8, knows why.
“A man might have a gun in his hand, and he can look through the window and see me and he can shoot,” he said. “That makes me feel, like, scared because I don’t want to get killed.”
These are the practicalities of life and family as another summer of violence breaks over Chicago.
Unfortunately, prayers will not keep her kids safe. Changing the laws and the conversation are the only hope this mother, and the many other parents like her have. Kids should not have to worry about being too close to windows in their homes because of bullets flying on the streets or for fear of someone with a gun looking in and aiming at him/her. This is the America we have, though. In some urban areas, kids are growing up with gun violence all around them.
My good friend and fellow activist for gun violence prevention posted about the “ripple effect” of the shooting that changed her life when her daughter got access to a gun and shot and killed herself leaving behind children and a grieving family and friends. It was 4 years ago today and my friend posted all of the things she is angry about that her daughter or her grandchildren or herself can no longer do. From her Facebook post ( just some of what she wrote):
” Every day I miss hearing her come in the door calling out Mom! Even the times when she was angry. I miss the time she changed the ringtone on my phone for her to play Stewie (from Family Guy) yelling out Mom in so many different and annoying ways. I miss that her kids may not always remember the different facets of Angela. I miss listening to her laugh as she would play dominoes with her friend Jodie, or giggle with her kids and when they were upset she would get them laughing by telling them not to laugh, she would say do not laugh, whatever you do DO not laugh, I do not want to see you laugh and in no time they would be giggling so sweetly. I remember her coming over and the kids running in all excited that they had rescued a turtle. They saw one on the side of the road so Angela pulled over and carried it across the street so it would not get run over by a car. I asked her are you sure that was where he was headed and she laughed. I miss her so much not only because of the times we spent together, but for the times we will miss.
I am angry that it has been 4 years and nothing has changed.
I am angry that I have friends that have been working hard to make changes since 1989 and nothing has changed.
I am angry that the system failed my daughter and so many other daughters and sons, siblings and spouses, so many loved ones.
I am angry my grandchildren are growing up and my daughter is missing all of it.(…)
I am angry that like her siblings, her children will meet milestones in their lives and like their Aunt and Uncles there will be someone missing.
I am angry that every day new people join our ranks of grieving survivors….
I am angry at the people and politicians that believe we want to take away everyone’s guns and abolish the 2nd Amendment, because they believe this false information people will continue to die every day from gun violence.
I am angry that since Sandy Hook there have been at least 125 school shootings and nothing has changed. (…)
I am angry that to some the answer is we need to arm more people…. Yet the death rate by gun violence keeps climbing.
I am told guns don’t kill people, people kill people…. With this I cannot argue, so let’s cut the gun violence by keeping guns out of the hands of those that should not have a gun. Felons, domestic abusers, those that are considered a danger to themselves or others.
I am angry that gun owners think because they are responsible gun owners that we shouldn’t have universal background checks. It isn’t the responsible gun owners I fear, it is the irresponsible ones. The ones that leave their guns where children can find them and use them. Those who will without a second thought give guns to anyone and call it their constitutional right and not give it a second thought as to what could happen. We have laws about stealing and robbery and those aren’t in place to stop the lawful…
I am angry when people look at me and say if she hadn’t had a a gun she still would have committed suicide…. Yes that is possible she may still have but then again had she chosen another method she could have possibly changed her mind.
I am angry that in 2012 – 32,288 people died from gun violence and 64% of them where suicides and yet people still will say to me she could have picked another way…. When there is a gun in the home it is more likely to be used in suicide, domestic violence or accidently than in defense.
We need to work together, we need to sit down and discuss and find an equitable solution. We need a universal background check that would prevent a lot of senseless murders and suicides. We need more education on gun safety to protect our children from accidental shootings.
In 2013 there were 41,149 suicides: 10,062 were by suffocation – 6,637 were by poisoning (pills) – 21,175 were by gun…. Do you still think we do not need a background check that includes severe depression and severe mental illness?
Please lets open the discussion and save lives.”
Diane’s daughter had serious mental illness and had been hospitalized. Yet she was able to purchase a gun anyway. And now, Diane is living with the ripple effects of the violence that takes way too many lives and leaves families and communities devastated.
I am angry that Diane had to post this today. I am angry that many of us have been working for many years to get our elected leaders to stand with us and do the right thing. I’m angry that too many of our leaders have chosen the money and the corporate gun lobby over common sense. I’m angry that the devastation continues unabated because we have not had the courage to have a serious national conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in our country.
Diane’s voice is just one of many. She is representing a lot of Americans and also a majority of Americans who just know that what we are doing now is not working and we need to work for change.
If anyone wants to know why the majority of Americans want something to change about our gun culture and our gun laws, just read what I wrote. And then read this article about why we are doing virtually nothing- post Charleston and post Sandy Hook and post Aurora and post the daily parade of gun deaths and injuries:
All of this has produced a certain level of cynicism among those who support gun restrictions, as expressed by the President when he said he didn’t expect reforms any time soon.
Each time that a massacre has occurred, we have seen not only a striking mobilization against any new restrictions but an equally striking absence of strong pressure to address this issue.
A significant number of liberal Democrats, who in previous years had strongly supported gun control, have remained noticeably silent on the issue. They are resigned to defeat.
The President often finds himself standing alone when calling for gun control. But those who say federal legislators can “never” pass gun restrictions should look to moments like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to see how those predictions can turn out to be wrong.
The good news is that there has been some progress in states like Maryland and New York, which have attempted to move forward even as gridlock reigns supreme on Capitol Hill. But for an effective response to the kind of gun tragedies we see so often, supporters will need stronger mobilization to counteract what their opponents have achieved.
The country needs to do a better job dealing with its gun problem. Otherwise, it will be all too soon that we’ll find ourselves going through this again.
We can write and think about this all we want to. But what we need is action. Lives depend upon us putting our heads together to do the right thing. In the name of the victims, this needs to change. Act now to ask Congress to pass a universal background check bill. Act now to work with your own state legislators to pass a similar law. We can save lives if we stand together and have the will. Will we?
Family members said they had heard distant gunshots a while before Martin collapsed. They reported the gunfire to a ranger, because using firearms is prohibited in that area of the national forest.
Now, the family is urging whoever fired the errant shot to come forward.
“It just happened. You never know when you’re going to go. You can be sitting at a campfire waiting to roast marshmallows with your grandchildren talking to your son in law and you’re just done,” Carlie said.
At this time, sheriff’s officials said it appears that Martin was killed by an errant bullet fired by an unknown person. They do not believed it was intentional at this time. However, that has not been ruled out, sheriff’s officials said.