Not even bump fire stocks?

spinelessReally Paul Ryan? Not even bump fire stocks?

Halloween is approaching and our Congress is scared and scary in more ways than one. Our leaders are failing us in more ways than one. Our leaders claim that care about Americans. If they actually did, they would grow a spine and stand tall for the majority and do it proudly and feel good about it.

They are lapdogs for the NRA and other special interests.

The cynical and evil leadership of the NRA suggested that they may be able to support a ban on bump fire stocks. NOT. Not even that very small measure will pass muster with this group of disingenuous group of guys who represent the industry that sells these things.

So where are we? We are where we are after every one of the nation’s mass shootings. Lapdog and weak politicians with no backbone are afraid to do what they know is right. Because…..rights.

Rights? Where are the rights of Americans to be safe when going to concerts, shopping at malls, going to college classes, sitting at work or school, having a drink at a nightclub or at a military base? They don’t count. Death is not their concern. If it was one of their own though, they would care. 

The gun issue is not untouchable. We will make it touchable. We will demand answers and demand solutions. Politicians will have to address it. They will not be left to avoid it any more. Some are already changing their tune:

Another Democrat who had once been in the NRA’s favor, Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.), also donated a sum matching his past NRA contributions this week. Walz, who is running for governor and was under pressure from a Democratic primary opponent, sent $18,000 to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a nonprofit group that helps the families of service members who are killed or severely wounded.

“I’m doing what I can to get past the political attacks and back to addressing this problem,” Walz said, who also held an “A” rating.

They want to be elected and perhaps they are finally waking up to the common sense of the American voters. I have personally spoken with Rep. Tim Walz who is the only Democratic candidate for Governor with an A rating from the NRA. That is poison for him. We need to make it poison for all candidates. Gun violence is one of the most important issues of our day. It’s a public health epidemic that we are ignoring.

Speaking of NRA money, who does get the most money from the NRA anyway? Let’s take a look from the article:

Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.

Senator John McCain heads the list and had this to say about the Las Vegas shooting: ““Cindy & I are praying for the victims of the terrible #LasVegasShooting & their families.”” He has taken $7,740,251 from the NRA in his career as a Senator. It goes on from there. You get the picture.
No- your prayers and thoughts are insincere as long as you don’t have the spine to stand up for the victims and actually do something to prevent at least some shootings.
American support for stronger gun laws is at an all time high according to this latest polling after the Las Vegas shooting by Quinnipiac:
American voters say 63 – 27 percent that it’s possible to make new gun laws without interfering with gun rights. Republicans voters say 51 – 37 percent that it’s possible to make gun laws that don’t interfere with gun rights and voters in gun households agree 57 – 33 percent. “The Las Vegas massacre echoes though a survey that shows American voters want stricter gun laws and a ban on high-capacity clips and bump stocks, the device that makes a lethal weapon even more lethal,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. -m
 So Speaker Ryan and Republicans in control of our country- what say you?
Shame on them all. We need much more than a ban on bump fire stocks.
What we need is a comprehensive bill to make America safe again, including a ban on bump fire stocks, a reduction in the number of bullets in an ammunition magazine, a ban on certain types of assault rifles and the accompanying features that can be added to make them more deadly, universal Brady background checks, research into the causes and effects of gun violence, adequate funding for the ATF, stronger straw purchasing and gun trafficking laws, mandatory training before owning or carrying a gun, mandatory secure storage of guns, child access prevention laws, gun violence protection orders, limiting who can carry a loaded weapon around in public, and yes, perhaps even a system of gun registration.
These are my personal ideas by the way. Some of them, but not all, are shared by other gun control groups. But I am writing for myself on this blog post.
What we don’t need is concealed carry reciprocity, the NRA’s wet dream, that would leave us all with gun carrying yahoos walking around anywhere we are gathered in our communities without a shred of training with that gun and no permit to carry it. What we don’t need is for the deregulation of gun silencers so mass shooters can carry out their massacres making much less noise so law enforcement and victims can’t locate the shooter in order to flee or stop him.
Even Speaker Ryan got a spine for just a little while after the Las Vegas shooting. But never trust that the gun lobby will let it go away. They will be back. They will scare the lapdogs who carry their water into voting on a bill that makes no common sense and is a slippery slope to to doing away with the 1934 Gun Control Act.  
I have spoken to many hunters and gun owners before and since the Las Vegas shooting. They agree with every one of these measures. And yes, to the gun extremist who doubted that my husband was a hunter and gun owner, he is. And he agrees with me and would even were he not married to me.
Oh, and I forgot to add the repeal of PLCAA and the Tiarht amendment and bringing law suits against gun manufacturers and sellers.
Speaking of that, the Brady Center to prevent gun violence has done just that. A class action law suit was filed earlier this week against the maker and sellers of bump fire stocks on behalf of the 22,000 or so concert goers whose lives were affected one way or the other by the heinous shooting of 58 of them and the injuring of about 450, some still in serious or critical condition.
Here is just one story to think about:
Like the rest of America I learned of the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas last Monday morning. My first thought was there will be fatalities. Families like mine receiving the devastating, life-altering news that a loved one has been murdered. That friends and family members will never come home again. More lives taken by bullets. These families will unknowingly and unwillingly join the sad club that no one wants to join. Tragically this club continues to grow, because a small loud vocal group of extremists love their guns more than they love their families. So I cry out to you America, it’s time to rise up and out shout the extremists to honor the 58 lives cut down at a music concert. It’s time to rise up and help me and thousands of other gun violence survivors, so that your family won’t receive the devastating phone call that a family member has been murdered by a disturbed man with a gun. Pick up your phone and call your U.S. Congressman and Senator and demand they fight for gun safety laws.
Speaker Paul Ryan- where are you? Senator Mitch McConnell- where are you?
Hiding in plain sight behind the second amendment with absolutely no backbone or will to protect your fellow Americans from senseless shootings. We know how the Las Vegas shooting happened Speaker Ryan, since that was your excuse to do nothing. It was the guns stupid. It was our nation’s feckless gun laws that allow easy access to weapons of mass destruction meant for war that allowed this to happen.
Get a backbone. Get some common sense for the love of God. If you are too weak to even consider challenging the corporate gun lobby over bump fire stocks that were used to massacre 58 Americans in cold blood, you don’t deserve to be sitting in your seats. Go home and be with your families and let those who are bold, courageous and with backbone do what needs to be done.
The thing is, every country has angry men. Every country has people who are dangerously mentally ill or who are felons or domestic abusers. But only in America do we have these people accessing arsenals of weapons to inflict mass destruction.
We are better than this.

Memorial Day and remembering Isla Vista victims and gun violence victims

the memoriesIt’s Memorial Day week-end. We all know that this holiday is meant to remember our fallen military members and also to those now serving. We have a lot of people to remember given the American war victims. Let us all also remember the victims of gun violence on this day of patriotism. It is our patriotic duty to do all we can to prevent more victims of gunshot injuries. The bodies are piling up with numbers of dead increasing in recent years.:

Car crashes killed 33,561 people in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Firearms killed 32,251 people in the United States in 2011, the most recent yearfor which the Centers for Disease Control has data.

But this year gun deaths are expected to surpass car deaths. That’s according to a Center for American Progress report, which cites CDC data that shows guns will kill more Americans under 25 than cars in 2015. Already more than a quarter of the teenagers—15 years old and up—who die of injuries in the United States are killed in gun-related incidents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

This is stunning information. Will we remember it when we remember others this Memorial Day?

I will remember my father who served in World War ll. I will honor by brother who served in Viet Nam and now has PTSD and other related illnesses. And I want us also to remember that more people have died from gunshot injuries since 1968, the year of Robert Kennedy’s assassination, than all Americans who have died serving our country since the Revolutionary War. We need a national day of remembrance for those victims as well. Everytown is promoting that we hold June 2nd as that day starting this year. Other gun violence prevention organizations will join in this day of remembrance.

So let’s start by remembering a shooting that took place one year ago. It’s been a year since a young mentally ill man got himself a gun and shot up a bunch of people at the Isla Vista campus. Just as with most mass shooters, the young man who took so many lives one year ago knew what he was doing when he bought his guns and ammunition. From this article by Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center:

Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, states: “The tragedy in Isla Vista is just the latest example of the human price paid on a daily basis for an unregulated gun industry that has embraced ever-increasing lethality as the way to make a profit. The gun industry is marketing weapons originally designed for military and law enforcement to the civilian population. Its financial beneficiaries in the NRA then fight to stop any and all effective gun violence prevention policies. The rest of us are caught in the crossfire when these weapons are used in mass shootings.”

Key facts on the guns used in Isla Vista:

  • The Austrian Glock 34 pistol has an extended barrel for greater accuracy. Glock pistols are frequently used by mass shooters, as explained in this 2011 VPC backgrounder The Glock Pistol: A Favorite of Mass Shooters.
  • Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista shooter, wrote in his manifesto: “I had already done some research on handguns, and I decided to purchase the Glock 34 semiautomatic pistol, an efficient and highly accurate weapon. I signed all of the papers and was told that my pickup day was in mid-December.”
  • The shooter also owned two Swiss Sig Sauer P226 pistols. Rodger wrote that the Sig was “more efficient” than the Glock.
  • Both Sig Sauer and Glock are “Corporate Partners” of the National Rifle Association. As detailed in the VPC’s 2013 study Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA, since 2005, Glock has given between $250,000 and $499,999 to the NRA (the range is due to the giving levels defined within the NRA’s “Corporate Partners Program”).

There’s more. And it’s more of the same old stuff. The corporate gun lobby is helping with the easy access of guns to mass shooters and people who just want guns for self defense but end up using them in intentional or unintentional shootings. It’s a travesty and an American tragedy.

But some states deal with tragedies differently than others. California almost immediately acted to get a law passed called the Gun Violence Restraining Order meant to temporarily remove guns from those deemed potentially dangerous to themselves or others. Read this commentary from a Brady Campaign activist about the importance of that law.

The shooting spree left 6 innocent people dead and 14 injured and terrorized the Isla Vista area. Three of the dead were shot, and 3 stabbed. Some of the wounded were hit by his car and others by bullets.

The shooters’ parents knew of his mental illness and other problems which he posted about on a You Tube video. Some weeks before the shooting they asked law enforcement to check on Rodger’s status and try to do something to stop what they knew could be coming. From this article:

“Police might have done more to find out about access to firearms, just given the family’s concern about Rodger’s emotional state. There’s no reason that police responding to people in crisis couldn’t routinely address gun risk–talk about it, try to remove guns in various ways–instead of focusing on trying to predict when exactly somebody is going to be violent; that’s very difficult even for experienced psychiatrists.” (…)

Swanson is now planning to study a training intervention for CIT police officers to routinely inquire about guns in mental health crisis calls. When guns are present, officers might use de-escalation skills to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at-risk of violence or suicide.  If one happens to be in a state such as Indiana that has a preemptive “dangerous person” gun seizure law, police can remove firearms without a warrant, pending a judicial hearing, even if the person with mental illness is not imminently dangerous at the time and wouldn’t meet criteria for involuntary commitment.

The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearms Policy has issued many recommendations in this area. One recommendation concerns the idea of a gun violence restraining order (GVRO) to restrict access to weapons among individuals who might pose a temporary danger to themselves or others. As Swanson and collaborators describe it, the main idea is to “create a new restraining order process to allow family members and intimate partners to petition the court to authorize removal of firearms, and to prohibit firearms purchase and possession temporarily based on a credible risk.”

An ER Physician who attended to the injured after the Isla Vista shooting has written this moving and poignant piece about what it was like that night and why we continue to have the gun carnage that so devastates our families. “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet”:

Over the next few weeks, I was left with haunting questions. Questions that remain unanswered.

Why is it so much easier and so much less expensive to acquire a firearm and large quantities of ammunition than it is to get an appointment with a mental-health professional within three months? Why is the wait longer to see a psychiatrist than to acquire a gun?

Why are there so many more discount gun stores than psychiatric hospitals and mental-health clinics in our country?

Would a well-armed Isla Vista, armed teachers, armed students, or armed fire fighters and EMTs make the body count higher or lower?

Why do we invest so little in mental-health surveillance and mental-health interventions in our schools? Why do so many of the perpetrators slip under the radar? Why are we so often caught off guard?

For all my friends who are responsible gun owners, how do we keep guns and ammunition out of the wrong hands? Would a tax on ammunition to fund mental-health resources be reasonable? What if it were necessary to have certification of having met with a mental-health professional prior to obtaining a permit to purchase a gun?

Why is there so much hate and anger in our society that drives young men mad with feelings of isolation, hopelessness, and rage? What can we do as a community to limit people acting out this anger with violence?

We can actually prevent gun violence. The corporate gun lobby loves to tell us that passing any new laws will only punish their own. They are wrong of course and that kind of “logic” goes against all common sense. Of course laws can matter. They matter for all kinds of things in our every day lives. Under pressure from Ralph Nader and other consumer watchdog groups, and law suits after auto accident deaths and injuries that safety features could have prevented, the car industry started spending more money to add seat belts, air bags and other safety features to cars. And yes, the price of cars increased. That is the price we pay for safety and customers understand that now.

Law suits and public pressure led to bans on smoking in public places because we now understand that we can prevent diseases related to smoking and second-hand smoke. Restaurant and bar owners resisted laws that required them to ban smoking in their establishments but guess what? People are still going out to eat and frequenting bars and restaurants. The fear of loss of business didn’t happen and we are all protected from the effects of inhaled smoke from cigarettes. We are healthier as a result and we are seeing a decrease in health care costs for those impacted by conditions and diseases related to smoking.

Laws matter.

Driving without seat belts or speeding are now illegal. Fewer people are dying.

We know now that we can reduce deaths and injuries from driving while drunk. Why did this one take so long to happen? It took lawsuits and public pressure from MADD and other consumer watchdog groups to get the attention of our lawmakers. Laws that penalize people for driving with blood alcohol levels above a certain limit have reduced auto accidents related to drunk driving. And our awareness of the problem, along with fear of arrest and the desire to save lives has been a change in social mores.

Laws matter. Drunk driving is punishable and we have learned to use designated drivers instead of driving drunk.

So how does this work for gun violence and the laws that do or could make us safer? Not so well. We do know that in states and countries that have strong gun laws, fewer people die of gunshot injuries. That should be good proof that we can change laws and get good results right? Not so much actually. For the corporate gun lobby is all about profits over saving lives. And the corporate gun lobby is famous for buying the influence of political leaders all over the country. Sometimes this is so obvious as to be egregious.

Take the Lawful Commerce in Arms law passed by Congress in 2005. In contrast to all other industries, the gun industry was granted immunity from lawsuits that would require safety features on firearms and safe practices by manufacturers and dealers. This had clearly not led to anything good. From the article:

In 2005, former President George W. Bush signed into law the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act – the “No. 1 legislative priority of the National Rifle Association” – which immunized gun makers and dealers from civil lawsuits for the crimes committed with the products they sell, a significant barrier to a comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy. Despite recent reporting on proposed efforts to prevent another tragedy like the one in Newtown, a Media Matters search of Nexis revealed major newspapers and evening television news have not explained this significant legal immunity.

Faced with an increasing number of successful lawsuits over reckless business practices that funneled guns into the hands of criminals, the 2005 immunity law was a victory for the NRA, which “lobbied lawmakers intensely” to shield gun makers and dealers from personal injury law. As described by Erwin Chemerinsky, a leading constitutional scholar and the Dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law, by eliminating this route for victims to hold the gun industry accountable in court, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was a complete deviation from basic “principles of products liability“:

Laws matter. Loose gun laws do not save lives.

One egregious example of this kind of pandering to the gun industry is a recent law suit filed by the parents of one of the victims of the Aurora Theater shooting. This one is on vivid display because of the current trial of the shooter of that tragic incident. The parents of Jessica Ghawi filed a suit against the ammunition company that provided the drum magazine to the shooter.  A Colorado District court judge recently decided in favor of the ammunition company and ordered the Phillips to pay back the legal costs for the law suit. Yes, really. This happened. From the article:

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was one of 12 people killed in the July 2012 attack, had sued four online retailers that provided bullets, gun magazines and body armor alleged to have been used in the shooting. They accused the retailers of selling the items without concern about the mental fitness of the buyer or the items’ intended use. (…)  In an order issued Friday, Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ruled state and federal laws protect ammunition sellers from such lawsuits. He dismissed the case. (…)

And to make this all the worse, the judge ordered the Phillips to pay back the legal costs of the lawsuit. Last night’s Rachel Maddow show highlighted the outrage over the idea that a victim’s family had to pay the legal costs back to the ammunition company they attempted to sue on behalf of victims everywhere. We should all be very outraged by this. It’s time to call out this kind of insane fealty to the gun industry which represents a decreasing number of Americans who own fewer and fewer guns.

The thing is, there are real victims who were real people with real families whose potential will now not be realized. In their memory we ought to realize that we can’t continue along the road to more and more gun deaths without doing something to prevent them. So why can’t we? The NRA and the corporate gun lobby.

So let’s get this straight. A new study by the Violence Policy Center tells us that the NRA/corporate gun lobby represents only 1 in 5 Americans. The big question is why a minority group representing an industry has the ear of many of our elected leaders. It’s very important that we let our leaders know that they don’t have to be afraid of the incendiary rhetoric coming from a group that does not have the best interests of our children and families in mind. When people can be massacred in a movie theater and the parents of one of the victims are ordered to pay back the ammunition company from which the shooter ordered his bullets of death and destruction, something is very very wrong.

From the above article:

One of the greatest successes of the NRA and the gun industry has been their ability to act as if they represent a majority of Americans. This is in spite of the fact that the NRA represents only a tiny fraction of gun owners, let alone all Americans, and gunmakers are a relatively small industry compared with other manufacturers of consumer goods. Yet this mistaken belief in their own popularity — based on nothing more than chest-thumping and false assertions — is what drives the NRA and itsfinancial backers in the gun industry as they push for policies and legislation that benefit only them, from one law after the next that expands concealed carry in public spaces to a militarized product line that facilitates public mayhem.

The facts are these. A clear majority — two thirds — of Americans don’t have guns in their homes. Almost four out of five Americans don’t personally own a gun. And as the gun-owning population continues to age and die off, fewer Americans are taking their place.

After the carnage at the “biker gang” shoot-out in Waco, Texas, many are asking questions about our armed society. The gun lobby loves to claim that an “armed society is a polite society”. How could they be more wrong? A great article from the Dallas News examines our armed society and raises the questions and concerns we all should be raising:

There is simply no need for a civilized society to tolerate the type of gun-related violence that Americans seem to accept as normal. Other modern industrial countries have realized, in some cases long ago, that it is unnecessary for people in a free society to have easy access to guns.

The solution to gun-related crime is not further arming the public. It involves enacting comprehensive gun control laws that prohibit many forms of gun ownership, significantly curtailing or eliminating access to and the ability to purchase guns, and implementing programs in which the government confiscates or purchases illegal guns already in circulation among the public.

For those firearms that are legal, ownership should be tied not only to background checks, but to extensive and mandatory training in the safe use and storage of weapons. Evidence from other countries shows clearly that these types of measures will significantly reduce gun-related deaths and lead to a safer and more secure society.

In an era of extreme concern about national security, Americans need to recognize that one of the greatest threats to national security is their own heavily armed population. We need to enact legislation that will greatly reduce gun-related crimes and protect people from the dangers associated with widespread gun access and ownership. Unfortunately, our proven inability to handle widespread gun ownership suggests strongly that the way to do this is to deeply restrict access to and ownership of most types of guns.

Americans should ask themselves whether they want to live in a society that is secure because everyone is ready to shoot one another or one that is secure because people have peace of mind and experience freedom from violence and the freedom to pursue their lives in safety and happiness rather than fear.

We need the freedom to pursue our lives in safety. Many have lost that freedom due to gun violence. Yes, Americans have their gun rights but they don’t have the right to make the rest of us unsafe in our homes and communities. We can do better than this. Let us remember the many victims of gun violence on this Memorial Day. They have given their lives as well to the insanity of the American gun culture and the spineless cooperation to the gun lobby by our leaders. It’s time for all of that to change. And we will change it by continuing our own efforts in the pursuit of stronger gun laws, educating the public about the risks of guns in homes, programs to get parents to ask about guns in homes where their children and teens play and hang-out, holding the gun industry responsible for bad actions, and supporting the many victims whose stories are so compelling and poignant that they should change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence in America.