The game’s not over yet

NY Daily news cover
From New York Daily News

The Parkland mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school happened in about the 3rd inning. In the midst of the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the Sutherland church shooting, the Parkland school shooting happened taking the lives of 17 innocent kids and teachers. The Parkland student survivors were not having it. They decided to speak out and challenge everything about gun violence and the corporate gun lobby.

Nothing will ever be the same. The “game” played by the gun lobby has been exposed. The whole country is aware, activated and talking about gun violence in ways that have not happened before Feb. 14th of this year.

In today’s Duluth News Tribune a letter writer challenged the NRA’s false claims about guns and gun ownership. The writer suggested that the NRA is striking out now that the spotlight is on their myths and dangerous agenda. He’s right. The Parkland students and students all over the country have emboldened not only students but the public. People are speaking out like never before and finally saying what needs to be said and have wanted to say for a long time now.

This writer said this:

Twice I have seen the same man in a local gas station with a pistol on his belt. He did not look well. Misery and depression were obvious on his face. A steady diet of Fox News can do that to a person. Yet he alone among the customers possessed lethal force. It was up to him to act as judge, jury, and executioner if he felt threatened. Is this law and order or Wild West chaos?

Keep your hunting rifles and your shotguns. Own a handgun if you must. But owning guns should not make you judge, jury, and executioner. Nor does it necessarily make you free.

Gun ownership means freedom. Wrong. Many so called good guys with guns have killed too many of our kids and others because of that myth of freedom.

Another letter writer challenged the NRA directly when he suggested that the NRA has struck out because their dangerous rhetoric has led to deaths and injuries:

When all else fails, the NRA seems to want you to believe that outlawing military-type weapons for private use will “not solve the problem,” the problem being the killing of innocent people. Yep, hasn’t stopped since Cain killed Abel. This is the same as saying, “Even though there are speed laws, people will disobey; therefore, we did not solve the problem. So why have speed laws?”

It seems the NRA cannot understand that reducing the slaughter is a worthy cause. Strike three; you’re out, NRA.

#WecallBS

I spent time with the students at one of our local high schools on Friday for the National School Walkouts. I could not be prouder of those kids who are doing what adults have not done. One group of students walked out of their classes to our City Hall and had a moment of silence for the victims of the Columbine shooting on the anniversary of the shooting. And then they got to work. Students called legislators to ask them to support a bill that would once again allow the Health Department to do research about gun violence. ( a no brainer but resisted by the corporate gun lobby). None of the students had done this before. It was heartening to see them improve their skills and get excited and feel so empowered by their activism. It was clear that they were making a difference because one staffer said that they knew what the call was about because they had been getting many calls.

After it was over, the press interviewed the students who spoke with authority and new found communication skills not found in many adults.

Another walkout in my city attracted 300 students who walked out and marched on city streets. A third of the student population gathered to express their exasperation with the game. They understand that our adult leaders are letting them down by not acting to save lives and prevent at least some of the shootings. They get it. They are the new players in this game and fast becoming the stars.

This is how change happens.

In addition, students signed postcards of thank you to Dick’s Sporting Goods for their decision to stop selling assault style rifles and destroy their inventory of said guns. They will be delivered in person to our local Dick’s store.

One student cried as she remembered a relative who had been shot in the Red Lake mass school shooting telling me how that shooting had affected her family. The shooting happened 13 years ago but still the memories of loss remain.I told her about my sister’s death and suggested that she talk more about her story. The walkout allowed her to talk about it in a safe place. She left feeling like she could make a difference.

The student led walkouts and marches have energized a generation and moved the entire country in a direction adults had not thought possible. It’s a strike against the gun lobby who has tried but failed to stain the Parkland surviving students. Shame on them for playing this ugly game.

The game is changing. A new poll in Minnesota shows broad support for gun safety reform:

A majority of Minnesotans support stricter gun laws in the United States, including wide backing for a ban on military-style rifles and for raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found.

An overwhelming 9 out of 10 Minnesota voters also favor mandatory criminal background checks on all gun sales, the poll shows, including those sold privately and at gun shows. And Minnesotans in every part of the state oppose the arming of schoolteachers, which some political leaders, including President Donald Trump, have suggested.

The polling shows political and regional divides regarding stronger gun laws but overall supports all previous polling on the issue in Minnesota and nation-wide.

Meanwhile, back in the real world of the devastation of gun violence, another mass shooting at a Nashville Waffle House left 4 dead. The hero of that incident stopped the gunman and saved lives– but he did it without a gun. A “good guy without a gun” was the quote from New York Daily News front page photo after the shooting. Not a good image for the corporate gun lobby.

And yes, it was another AR-15 that the shooter clearly should not have been able to access that accounted for a senseless and unmotivated shooting because………?:

Illinois authorities and the FBI interviewed him and revoked his firearms authorization. Four weapons were seized, including the AR-15 rifle used in the Waffle House shooting, Aaron said.

Officials returned the weapons to Reinking’s father, on the condition he would keep them out of his son’s hands. But the father gave the guns back to Reinking, Aaron said, adding that two of the four guns are missing.

In 2016, Reinking threatened to kill himself, and cops who arrived at a CVS parking lot said he told them singer Taylor Swift had been stalking him.

In what world would a father return the guns to his son who so clearly had problems? What was he thinking? Some people should not have guns, period. But everyone has a constitutional right to a gun.

Another strike against the gun lobby myths.

One more tragic and heartbreaking incident involving the totally avoidable and senseless shooting of a two year old by her own mother highlights again the risk of guns in homes. The gun lobby can’t explain these kinds of shootings without revealing the hypocrisy of their game of lies and deceptions. From the article:

Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS reported that the mother admitted to dropping the gun in a 911 call and said the girl was not breathing. She also told operators she thought the safety was off, but then later told authorities the safety was on, WEWS reported.

Police said the gun was legally registered and she owned a concealed carry permit.

There are no accidents with guns. They are lethal weapons designed to kill people.

“Good guys” with guns make lethal mistakes every day.

If there is any common sense, the public will win the game over deceptions and myths.

Two points of view, published in my local paper today, show us how the game is played. One, written by Daniel Hernandez, staffer to former Rep. Gabby Giffords and present at the Tucson shooting that left her forever changed, uses the facts to support the truth about gun violence in America:

Though gun laws vary from state to state, at least one trend is clear: States with weaker gun laws have more gun deaths. You would never know it, though, from the lies pushed by entrenched interests like the National Rifle Association, lies backed by the weight of the NRA’s vast political contributions.

For example, the NRA claims guns make people safer, that gun laws don’t work, and that the “only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” But none of that is actually true.

In reality, owning a gun puts individuals at a higher risk of gun violence; strong gun violence prevention laws are effective at saving lives; and armed citizens rarely successfully intervene to stop an active shooter.

We have to be willing to call out these myths, educate voters, and hold elected officials accountable when they repeat them.

The other, uses the myths and deceptions used in the game played by the corporate gun lobby. The writer, with whom I am unfamiliar, equated overall crime rates to gun violence, a deception often used by those opposed to any common sense measures to save lives. It ends with one of the other myths claiming that passing stronger gun laws will take away the rights of law abiding gun owners. This specious claim is easily debunked and has been:

Instead of penalizing law-abiding gun owners who use their firearms to save thousands of people every year, lawmakers should work to reduce crime by improving economic growth and providing additional educational opportunities. Those are proven methods for limiting crime.

The writer also used the lie that most homicides are gang related and chose to discount the gun deaths caused by suicide:

It’s also important to note that relative to other problems in our society of 320 million people, gun-related crime caused by Americans who legally own a firearm involved in the crime is virtually nonexistent. Of the 33,000 gun-related deaths that occur each year, two-thirds are suicides, and the majority of the remaining 11,000 deaths are gang-related and involve guns purchased illegally.

Let’s look at just the lie about gang related shootings from the linked article above:

The 80 percent of gang-related gun homicides figure purporting to support Loesch’s claim, then, is not only false, but off by nearly a factor of five. The direct opposite is necessarily true: more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related. While gang violence is still a serious problem that needs to be addressed, it is disingenuous to assert that the vast majority of our gun problem (even excluding suicides) is caused by gangs.

The article refers to NRA talking head Dana Loesch, responsible for many of the lies pushed by that organization. We are on to her and her lies and not playing her game.

The NRA and the corporate gun lobby are striking out with the general public. It is a fierce game, accompanied by ugly attacks on those who just want to save lives. But it’s a long game and the players are changing.

The students have come off of the bench and they are becoming the star players. They are the hope that the game is changing.

The discussion about how to prevent gun violence should be not a game. But the NRA and the corporate gun lobby have made it so and they have been winning for far too long as the bodies have piled up.

#Enough  #WeCallBS

 

America, Presidential debates, the fact free political system and bogus gun arguments

What would president do?Let’s ask our politicians to answer some serious questions about gun violence prevention. Then we can find out who is on the side of public health and safety and who is spouting the bogus arguments of the corporate gun lobby. Avoiding this serious epidemic should not be allowed by the media or the public. It’s time to stand up and ask the questions and get the answers the families of the many gun violence victims deserve.

It’s past time to look at ourselves in the mirror to see the insanity of our American gun culture. Looking carefully reveals all of the hypocrisy and misleading arguments presented to us by the corporate gun lobby and the gun rights extremists. How did this happen? Good question. We are experiencing an interesting time in our country. Take the Donald Trump phenomenon. The linked article likens Trump to a wrestler while everyone else is boxing. Interesting. As we know, professional wrestling has a lot of drama and fakiness to it compared to boxing. I can only be reminded of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura  and what that conjures up for this Minnesotan who lived through his term in office. In the linked article Ventura actually thinks about running again and maybe with Donald Trump. You just can’t make this stuff up.

It’s the fear and paranoia of government that is fueling the political system right now. The fact that Donald Trump, who has never held public office, has no experience with foreign policy or governing anything is surging in the polls should bring us up short. Do we really want someone running for President whose only platform is that he is the greatest and everyone else is stupid?

And what does this have to do with our gun culture? The extreme view of the second amendment that espouses the need for guns to protect oneself from the government and being ready to fight the government has been fueled by the gun lobby for decades. We now have Americans who are heavily armed and ready to fight against their own government. These people believe that their rights extend to allowing them and just about anyone for that matter, to carry their guns openly displayed and loaded, in public. They believe that they should be able to own as many guns as they want and any kind they want, including military style assault rifles.

And this view of the gun culture presents us with many fallacies and false arguments about the second amendment. I have written a lot about Mr. Wayne LaPierre’s lies about the right to bear arms:

For starters, the motto for this year’s convention was: “If they can ban one, they can ban them all.” So fear was the very slogan. Then, the NRA’s Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre upped the fear factor by telling the attendees:“There’s no telling how far President Obama will go to dismantle our freedoms and reshape America into an America that you and I will not even recognize.” Now even assuming Obama wanted to somehow “dismantle our freedoms,” as LaPierre claims, how could Obama do that in the final 18 months of his presidency when the Republicans control the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court?

He can’t, and the NRA knows that. But facts don’t matter when you are trying to scare people (and get their money). In fact, they often get in the way.

Now scaring people (aka lying) about Obama is nothing new for the NRA. It started even before he took office. While Obama was campaigning for president in 2008 he stated that the Second Amendment bestowed a personal right to own guns and that he “will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns.”

Pretty clear, right?  But the NRA publicly claimed that Obama wanted to “ban use of firearms for home self defense” and “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” That was simply and utterly a fabrication by the NRA.

But no matter. Lies seem to be OK with certain Americans.

I came across an article about one of the gun rights extremists’ latest lies that I want to write about. Their claim that the Swiss can carry guns and own a lot of guns and yet, their gun death rate is low is bogus. An article in Salon exposes the false claims about guns in Switzerland.

Let’s take a look at what’s actually likely to be going on in that picture. Switzerland’s high rate of gun ownership is tied to the fact that it does not have a standing army so virtually every male citizen is conscripted into the militia where they receive comprehensive weapons training. Since they are a militia, they keep their government issued weapons (without ammunition) at home. Therefore, many of the guns in Swiss homes were issued to them by the government and most Swiss gun owners are highly trained in gun safety. This is in contrast to many untrained American yahoos who hang around Starbucks with loaded AR-15s leaning dangerously against the table top while they sip their mocha frappucino.

When Swiss militia members complete their service they are allowed to keep their weapon once they’ve been approved for an acquisition permit and can prove they have justification for having it. Private ownership of guns, along with ammunition, is also allowed under an acquisition permit with certain restrictions, including against those with criminal records and history of addiction and psychiatric problems. And with a law worthy of Orwell’s worst nightmare, every gun in Switzerland is registered by the government.

The rate of gun deaths in the US doesn’t come anywhere close by comparison to that of Switzerland  where the gun death rate is .77 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. at 2.97 even though there is a large gun ownership percentage.

And what’s more, the Swiss are having some interesting debates about “gun control” and new restrictions after some shootings there. They are not immune to the American gun culture apparently and since there is high gun ownership, they do have some conundrums presented by that fact.

One of the many other bogus arguments concerns women and guns. Again, Mike the Gun Guy gets this analogy right:

If you’re a die-hard, red-meat internet trawler of course you’ve heard of Dana Loesch.  She’s been a helpmate of Glenn Beck, hosts her own radio show and tweets away to a responsive and raucous crew.  Of course she has all the right credentials to promote guns: makes sure you see that little Christian icon that she wears around her neck (stole the idea I suspect from Laura Ingraham), never lets you forget that she’s a good ol’ Southern gal and, in case you thought there was any chance she would let the slightest, liberal influence into her home life, she home-schooled her kids.  It’s a masterful image, made expressly for red-meat consumption, and it figures that sooner or later she’d wind up pimping for the NRA. (…) As for Dana’s comments that she needs a gun to protect her family and her home, a bit of research reveals some facts that negate everything she says.  A survey of 14,000 crime victims reveals that in less than 1% of the criminal attacks did the victim protect themselves with a gun.  And when they did defend themselves, the number of victims who were injured was the same whether or not they had a gun.  Want to know the real reason the ‘media’ doesn’t report all those home invasions where a woman defends her life and sacred honor with a gun?  Because they account for less than 2% of all home invasions, that’s why.

In fact, American women are much more likely to be killed by a gun in homes where a gun is present. I happen to know that one from personal experience after my sister was shot and killed in a domestic dispute. Women in other countries are safer from gun violence ( at least in countries not at war) than women in the U.S. What a sad and tragic reality. And it is reality.

I am pretty tired of fact free arguments and the sad fact that so many people are gullible enough to believe them. Either that, or they are paranoid and fearful enough to believe bogus arguments. We are being dumbed down. The fact that Donald Trump is so far ahead of his opponents is frightening and of great concern.

Donald Trump happens to believe in the bogus corporate gun lobby arguments. Trump waa asked about our gun culture after the horrific shooting of 2 Virginia journalists on live TV. He deflected the question by answering that we have to deal with our mental health system. He’s right about that one. But he offered no solutions nor do those who make this claim want to pony up the funding to actually do something about our broken mental health system. But in the end, that is the bogus argument to get people like Trump and other gun rights extremists off the hook when it comes to actually talking about the gun problem in the U.S. And Trump is singing the same tune as all of the Presidential candidates.

Bogus and shameful.

Trump makes up other stuff or just ignores the facts and spends his time attacking and complaining about an America we once had and can get back again. How will we “get America back” if we are ignoring one of our most serious public health and safety epidemics? Health care professionals are offering us the facts and the research but the bogus arguments from the right are drowning out the facts.

Bogus and shameful.

At least the Democratic candidates are not afraid to talk about the issue. Hillary Clinton is strong on the gun issue as is Martin O’Malley. Bernie Sanders’ position is more complicated and more nuanced for which he has taken some heat.

All I know is that common sense is seriously lacking in today’s world of politics in America. The facts are that 88 Americans a day are dying from gunshot injuries and we’re talking about sending Mexicans back to Mexico and keeping America great. What’s so great about a country that is allowing 32,000 plus Americans die from gun injuries?

I want an America where we talk openly and honestly about our problems and then try to solve them in a reasonable manner with research to back up the problems and the solutions. We don’t have that now, thanks to the far right and gun lobby resistance to dealing with the facts. In fact, attempts to do serious research on important issues of our time like the environment, health care, gun violence and others, is going backwards thanks to the far right according to this article. That really does have to change. I hope you will join with me and join one of the many organizations working on gun violence prevention and gun safety reform and make the changes we all deserve to be safe in our homes and our communities.

There is a Republican presidential primary debate tonight. Any bets on whether the issue of guns and what to do about all of the shootings comes up? If it does, take notes.