A summit of gun violence prevention leaders and advocates

There are so many things to talk about.

I have just made a trip to Washington D.C. for the joint Brady Campaign, Americans for Responsible Solutions summit- A Nation United for a Safer Future.  I have been involved in this movement long enough to have met many leaders and victims from all over the country. Many of us met and continued our friendship through the Million Mom March and now Brady Campaign. I also have met and know people involved with Americans for Responsible Solutions. Social media has allowed us all to connect and become friends. Many victims and survivors attended the summit.

Here were just a few of the victims and survivors in attendance.

A mother whose daughter was shot at the Aurora Theater; a mother and father of a young woman reporter shot on live T.V.; a young woman whose mother was shot in the Clackamas Mall shooting just days before the Sandy Hook shooting; a mother and a father whose college students survived the Virginia Tech shooting; a father whose son was shot when a friend was handling a gun; a mother whose 13 year old daughter was shot by a gun stored openly and loaded in the home of a friend; a man whose mother shot and killed herself; the woman who kicked the ammunition away when the Tucson shooter stopped to re-load his gun; a father whose son was shot in the Isla Vista mass shooting; several women whose family members had committed suicide by gun; a woman whose brother was shot and killed many years ago; me- who lost a sister to bullets during a domestic shooting; Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign whose brother was shot and injured in the terror attack on the Empire State Building; a woman who had lost two children to shootings; two women whose children were shot and injured in the Jewish Day Care Center in Los Angeles; a man whose mother was shot and killed when a shooter was looking for someone else and mistakenly shot and killed her and wounded his father…….

Aside from victims and survivors, attendees included law enforcement officers, interested advocates, leaders of national and state organizations, clergy, staff members of the two organizations, politicians, lawyers, health care providers, NAACP leaders, film makers, a founder of the Women’s March, and many others.

Politicians who spoke to and with us:

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly.

Senators Cory Booker, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Connecticut Representative Esty, California Representative Mike Thompson, Rhode Island Representative Dave Cicilline, Representatives Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy from Florida and others.

Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General

Valerie Jarrett, former advisor to President Obama.

But we didn’t just listen and react to these amazing speakers. We took action.

Hundreds of participants lobbied on Capitol Hill and had great visits, “armed” with information about two concerning bills that would make us all less safe if enacted:

H.R. 38- Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 ( Arm Everyone bill). This bill would, if it became law, override steps that states have taken to protect public safety and put citizens at risk. It would leave states with no power to decide who carries hidden loaded guns ( or openly carried) within their own states and communities.

H.R.367- cynically called the Hearing Protection Act. This bill is meant to do what the gun lobby loves- increase sales of accessories to guns ( gun sales are down right now) and attempt to undo the 1934 National Firearms Act which requires individuals who purchase gun silencers and machine guns to undergo strict background checks, fingerprints, payment to register and license the gun/silencer and a waiting period. These regulations work. We just don’t see silencers used in crimes since that act became law. If this bill were to pass, we could expect to see silencers sold without Brady background checks through private seller internet sales and private sellers at gun shows. It also creates threats to law enforcement and would make it more difficult to respond to mass shooters as the sound of gunfire would be muffled and dispersed. There are many items sold to protect hearing while using firearms that make more sense.

Can we just talk about the fact that conceal carry weapons holders DO kill and threaten people with their guns even after going through a permitting process? Read the Violence Policy Center‘s report- Concealed Carry Killers. And can we also talk about the fact that 11 states now allow people to carry guns with no training or permit requirements.?Without a system of universal background checks, these people could be prohibited purchasers who will be allowed to carry their guns everywhere. How will we know the “good guys” with guns from the bad guys with guns? I have not heard an answer that makes any sense. The idea that it’s OK to normalize the carrying of guns everywhere by anyone is not only ludicrous, it is irresponsible and dangerous.

On “The Hill”, we had some great conversations, a chance to thank those who have voted against the gun lobby sponsored bills and who have led the charge and the conversation about the need to prevent gun violence. And we had a few victories when Congress members changed their positions after meeting with our groups of victims and advocates.

The importance of the summit and visits to Capitol Hill cannot be overstated. Advocates who had never attended a summit before were engaged and energized. They now know they can do this. People like me came away re-energized and encouraged that, in spite of the Republicans in charge, the issue of gun violence and the prevention of it has more support than ever before. It’s only Congress (doing the bidding of the corporate gun lobby) who stands in the way of common sense. And while they are doing that, 32,000 Americans ( give or take)- real people- someone’s family member or good friend- are killed by guns. It happens every day.

During the summit we all engaged our minds about legislation, other actions, and changing the conversation about this public health epidemic. There was much to think about and actual incidents that reminded us about why we were there. Among just a few:

Americans continue to die by bullets in alarming numbers. The Gun Violence Archive keeps track of shooting incidents. It’s not pretty.

And here are the reasons people get shot in Aor shoot others from Parents Against Gun Violence::

reasons people shot in April

And ISIS is telling its’ members to buy guns in America because it is so easy:

“The acquisition of firearms can be very simple depending on one’s geographical location,” the article read. “In most U.S. states, anything from a single-shot shotgun all the way up to a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle can be purchased at showrooms or through online sales — by way of private dealers — with no background checks, and without requiring either an ID or a gun license.”

The Rumiyah article specifically touted gun shows where these unregulated sales are often easiest.

And the officer who shot a black teen in Texas was fired and charged with murder. 

And Gander Mountain management bet wrongly on gun sales and lost. (Go figure. When Democrats are in office, the gun lobby scares people into buying guns in high numbers. When Republicans are in charge- no worries.)

“In 2016, at a rate of more than twice a week, a child under 18 years old was shot and killed with a loaded, unsecured gun”. This is from the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance, a new organization that presented information at the summit. One can look up current information of  shootings of and by children on this site. Who cares about the children?

And in just another average day in America, two young people are dead in a murder/suicide at a Texas college campus. Domestic disputes often spill over into public places and also way too often are the cause of mass shootings.

Asking about loaded, unsecured guns in homes can save lives. (ASK campaign)

And a health care bill passed in the House that will leave millions of Americans with no health care and lower taxes on the wealthy.

And those those with mental illness will have easier access to guns than health care.

Gun violence is a public health epidemic.

Many gun deaths and injuries are preventable and avoidable.

If we are to have the serious conversation we need and deserve to have, recognizing that there is a problem in the first place that can actually be fixed, or cured, or prevented or reduced in severity and frequency, is the most important thing we can do. Using some common sense in arguments and discussions will lead to responsible solutions.

On my plane back home from DC were at least a half dozen members of Congress, including my own, anxious to get back home for the recess ( didn’t they just have one?). While waiting to board, I spoke with my own Representative who introduced me to a Senator from a neighboring state- a Republican. We had a good discussion about health care and gun violence. We did not agree on much. But his main reason for being skeptical or against common sense solutions to save lives is one of the gun lobby’s myths. He actually believes that organizations such as the Brady Campaign and Americans for Responsible Solutions are out to get his guns. He is a lapdog for the gun lobby and will do their bidding no matter what anyone says to him.

As long as some of our politicians are in the pocket of the corporate gun lobby, we can expect to see bills that could become law that will actually make us less safe and lead to an increase in gun deaths and injuries. Is there anyone who thinks that is a good idea? The American public agrees that passing strong gun laws is a good idea.

Please make sure your own elected leaders are doing the bidding of the people and not the corporate gun lobby. We can make a difference if our voices are loud and clear about saving lives. For that is the bottom line.

Guns and the Capitol

Basic RGBShots were fired near the U.S. Capitol yesterday. This is all in a usual day in our country. Luckily no one was injured as officers fired at a woman driving erratically and attempting to harm officers. Bullets flying on our streets is never a good idea no matter who fires them. People are understandably frightened when they hear nearby gunfire.But officers took care of the situation as is their job. From the article:

 

 

“It was high anxiety,” said Yanta, who planned to discuss farming issues with Cuellar. “I didn’t get shaken up until I went into the building and realized what had transpired right in front of me.

“To be so close to something like that was very frazzling.”

People know what it means when they hear gunfire.

Inside the Capitol our lawmakers are up to doing the bidding of the corporate gun lobby again. When aren’t they? Let’s take a look.

The nomination of Judge Gorsuch, is, of course, being scored by the NRA:

The National Rifle Association is investing $1 million of its own money in the Senate confirmation battle over Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

The group announced Tuesday that it’s buying up ads supporting Gorsuch in the states of Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri and Montana — all states Trump won in 2016 where Democratic senators are up for re-election in 2018.

None of the four senators has indicated their intentions on the nominee.

“Judge Gorsuch is an outstanding nominee and will protect our fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, said in a statement. “We will be fully activating our five million members in support of his confirmation.”

They obviously believe that if Gorsuch is seated on the Supreme Court, he will act in their favor on gun deals. The NRA and others in the gun lobby spent a lot of money to get Donald Trump elected. They just knew he would do their bidding and he has not disappointed. Nor has Congress.

They must have forgotten that the man Gorsuch is replacing, Justice Antonin Scalia, made it clear that strong gun laws are constitutional.

The House voted to take the names of Veterans who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness off of the NICS list of prohibited gun purchasers. This makes perfect sense, don’t you think? I mean, it’s not as if veterans aren’t killing themselves with guns in great numbers. And sometimes others as well. Seems to make common sense to me and a whole lot of other Americans that protecting our Veterans from using a gun to end their own life is just a terrible and tragic idea. The overall suicide rate amongst our Veterans is high. Even some well-known military generals objected to this bill:

Earlier in the week, a coalition led by retired Gens. Stanley McChrystal, David Petraeus, Peter Chiarelli, and Wesley Clark wrote a letter to lawmakers saying the proposal would “put America’s veterans who need our support the most in harm’s way, by providing them with easy access to firearms.”

But Roe argued that in many cases, veterans who are deemed unable to handle their finances can be indirectly barred from buying a weapon, even if they pose no real threat to the public.

“It’s hard enough for some people to admit they need help,” he said. “Imagine how much more difficult it is when they fear they will be stigmatized and isolated … (or) that a VA bureaucrat may decide that they are incompetent and take away their constitutional rights.”

Stigmatized? I get the idea here. People with mental health issues do not want to be stigmatized and they shouldn’t be. But I don’t get the idea that one feels isolated without a gun. I don’t and most people I know don’t. Somehow I can’t believe that owning a firearm when one is deemed severely mentally ill and not being able to handle one’s own financial affairs is at the top of the needs list. If it is, one needs to wonder if that person should not have a gun in the first place. Some people should not be able to access guns.

Firearms make it so much easier and veterans are familiar with their use. From this article:

Dr. Charles Engel: Six of 10 gun-related deaths are suicides, and about half of all suicides are gun-related. Most suicides occur on impulse, and the availability of a gun makes it all too easy for a person experiencing suicidal thoughts to act on that impulse. Some have speculated that perhaps one reason that suicide is elevated among military personnel and veterans is their experience with guns. Exchanging hostile fire in battle, especially the experience of killing, may represent an important psychological threshold. The tragic psychological familiarity that comes with crossing that threshold may well increase the likelihood of subsequent self-inflicted injury in someone already thinking about suicide.

The Senate may or may not take up this bill and do something with it. Time will tell if this becomes a law. We will not be safer. Nor will our Veterans and their families. It is backwards and ludicrous that some believe the Veterans in this small category would be safer with a gun.

But never mind public safety. Some in Congress don’t care about that because they have taken a whole lot of money from the corporate gun lobby and are threatened by them if they don’t vote the right way.

The very same gun lobby minions in Congress seem to think it is a good idea to grant reciprocity for gun permit holders nationally. I think this is a very bad idea and so do many others. I agree with Everytown for Gun Safety and other organizations:

“Reciprocity would have a profound impact on state public safety, making the state with the weakest standards into the law of the land, and letting criminals and other dangerous people carry concealed guns in every state in the country,” the gun control group Every Town for Gun Safety said in a statement.

So someone from a permitless carry state where no background checks or training are required to carry a permit will now be able to carry in states that have much stronger gun laws. What could possibly go wrong?

People like George Zimmerman, infamous for his shooting of an unarmed black teen-ager, will be coming to a state near you. You will not be safer as a result. This is the antithesis of public safety.

And then there is the attempt by the gun lobby and it’s lapdogs in Congress to re-introduce silencers into our national gun culture.:

Not everyone is convinced that shooting-related hearing loss is a problem that needs another solution.

“You already have the answer,” said Kris Brown, chief strategy officer at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “There are things available on the market to protect hearing.”

The people who want to make silencers more easily available point to a range of other tactical benefits. Silencers decrease a weapon’s recoil and improve its accuracy, the American Suppressor Association says on its website. This lets shooters fire in rapid succession without losing track of the target, as silencer manufacturers note. Suppressors also reduce muzzle flash, allowing shooters to better disguise their location in low-light settings.

Although supporters of silencers tout these latter advantages in terms of sport shooting, the same characteristics might also appeal to a mass shooter or other criminal.

“There could be some instance where somebody uses it for nefarious purposes,” said Jack Rinchich, president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. “They don’t want a loud report or a muzzle flash or a blast ― say a sniper or someone trying to shoot at police officers or other people from a distance ― and they want to suppress that noise.”

I’m sure that you remember the mafia shootings in the 1930s. Machine guns and silencers were regularly used to commit heinous crimes against innocent or unarmed victims. As a result, the nation decided that making these two types of firearms/accessories very difficult to obtain would be a good idea, thus the Gun Control Act of 1934. Since then, few, if any crimes and shootings have involved machine guns or silencers.

We have to remember that we don’t have universal background checks as a federal law. Until we do, if we make silencers legal to buy without the current strong restrictions, they will end up in the hands of those who should not have them. Why? Because they will be subject to sales with no background checks, as are all types of guns, because of private sellers on-line or at gun shows and other such venues. Who would get their hands on these then? We know the answer.

To say this is a bill that would protect hearing is ludicrous. There are many products that can protect hearing when shooting a gun at the range or while hunting.  Hunters want to hear other hunters shooting so they know where they are located and as self protection. In addition, the muting of a gun’s loud noise would make it more dangerous when a mass shooting is occurring. It was the noise of the bullets expelled from the assault rifle that alerted the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School that a shooter was in the building so they could do their best to hide and save the children. It was the sound of gunfire that led officers to the location of the Virginia Tech shooter.

The gun lobby if using fake news to tell us the only way to protect hearing while hunting ( yes they try to make this sound normal by relating it to hunting) is to buy a silencer. Nonsense. My husband lost some high frequency hearing in one ear while hunting as a youth and young man. I do understand that people can lose their hearing from gunshots. A good friend of mine became permanently deaf when her father shot off an assault rifle at a range very close to her head. She has had a profound hearing loss since then and her life was changed forever. That was a senseless and careless use of a gun which she readily admits.

So yes, it is true that shooting a gun frequently, or even irregularly, can cause hearing problems. But to use selling gun silencers as a hearing protection and public safety bill is disingenuous.

Again I go back to the path that follows the money. The silencer ( suppressor) industry would love to sell more of their products and can’t wait for that to happen. As fewer people own guns, the gun industry needs a market for their goods. That lurks behind most of the gun lobby pushed legislation. If you watch the video here you can see that opinions about silencers, aka suppressors,  are all over the place as to need, personal preference, ability to buy them, cost, etc.

And further Donald Trump Jr. is making the case for gun silencers.  That can’t hurt the cause in our current political configuration. The corporate gun lobby now has a seat in the White House.

I admit that many don’t see the harm in the use of silencers. They point to other countries, mostly European, who allow silencers. But those countries also have universal background check laws and other strong restrictions which make it unlikely that silencers would find their ways into the illegal market or into the hands of people who should not have guns.

I agree with the writer of this article.  This is a solution looking for a problem and looking for a way to make money.

Aren’t Congress members and our legislators charged with the safety of the public in their states and in the country as a whole? How did the narrative get high-jacked to make some people think that allowing more armed people, some with no training, to roam our streets and public places where families and the general public shop, work, go to school, have appointments with accountants, physicians, lawyers, tax preparers, other business people located in our cities?

It’s not normal for people to be carrying guns around in public no matter what the gun lobby claims. They want it to be normal. But it’s not. They have not convinced that many people so far as the public is largely in favor of common sense when it comes to gun laws and public safety.

As I said in my last post, it is a topsy turvy world as of the November. Literally everything is under attack. What we don’t need are people who are scared, feeling ill at ease, anxious, nervous, angry or depressed to get themselves armed and dangerous. And we don’t need the people who believe this is OK to be making gun policy.

More “good guys” with guns

gangster carrying gunI have lived long enough to remember The Untouchables, a book, a movie and a TV series watched by millions. The battle of Elliot Ness and the gangsters was an epic but mostly fictional account of  real life. There were many shootings on the streets and in other public places like restaurants and bars by gangsters in the 1930s prohibition days. It was bloody and vicious. Men carrying guns unloaded bullets hitting intended targets and unintended targets. But it was true then that law enforcement was outgunned on the streets of some cities in America according to the above linked article. (“On the other side was law enforcement, which was outgunned (literally) and ill-prepared at this point in history to take on the surging national crime wave.”)

So far, ordinary citizens have to go through strict regulations to obtain machine guns and silencers. That is because of the 1934 National Firearms Act passed by Congress in part in response to the crime wave of the 1930s. No one wanted to see the carnage unleashed by the gangsters on the streets repeated. And make no mistake, the gun lobby is pushing for looser laws to allow people to purchase machine guns and silencers. It is the slippery slope towards more carnage on our streets. Many states, including mine, have now passed laws allowing for citizens to purchase silencers ( deceptively called suppressors by the gun lobby).

But with the changes to our gun laws to allow ordinary citizens to openly carry firearms, we should re-examine what the reality of open carry laws mean for the safety of the public. This incident in Colorado Springs is the prime example of the insanity and dangerousness of people carrying rifles and other guns openly loaded on the streets of our cities. From the article:

A man marching down the street shot and killed three people on Saturday, before being fatally shot in a gunbattle with police, authorities and witnesses said.

Officers were responding to a report of shots being fired when they spotted a suspect matching the description of the person they were trying to find, Colorado Springs police Lt. Catherine Buckley said. The suspect opened fire, and police fired back, she said.

Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the suspect went down the street with a rifle.

Matt Abshire, 21, told the Colorado Springs Gazette (http://tinyurl.com/p5xpaua) he looked outside his apartment window and saw a man shoot someone with a rifle. He said he ran to the street and followed the man and called police.

The man suddenly turned and fired more shots, hitting two women, Abshire said. Their names and conditions were not available.

It was unclear how many people were wounded in the spree.

Alisha Jaynes told KKTV-TV 11 News (http://tinyurl.com/otg2qgo ) she was at an ATM when she saw a man with a gun walking calmly down the street.

“They yelled, ‘Put the gun down,’ and he turned around, and that’s when they shot at him a good 20 times,” she said. “There was a lot of gunfire.”

In this story about the shooting, it is revealed that one of the victims was a 13 year old boy riding his bike along the street. This is insanity. Is this what was anticipated when the gun lobby got our legislators to pass laws allowing more people to carry loaded guns into more public places? America has been duped. Until we decide we have had #enough, the carnage will continue. “Normalizing” loaded openly carried guns on our streets, in our restaurants, shops and other places is the agenda of the corporate gun lobby and the gun extremists. It’s just NOT normal to be carrying a rifle around on our streets.

Most in law enforcement oppose the open carrying of guns on our public streets for obvious reasons. Florida law enforcement are now dealing with the proposed open carrying of loaded guns:

The officials shudder at the thought of guns on hips of alcohol-fueled revelers at St. Petersburg’s First Friday, spring breakers on Pinellas County beaches and partiers on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City. They worry that deputies responding to a conflict won’t know criminal from victim. They worry about children getting hold of guns and criminals stealing them.

The Tampa Bay Times contacted 21 law enforcement leaders in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties to ask their stance on a bill allowing open carry proposed for the 2016 state legislative session. Of the dozen who responded, 10 are opposed to the idea. They include the sheriffs in Pinellas and Hillsborough and police chiefs in cities from Brooksville to St. Petersburg.

“Officers have a tough enough job with the way the world is now,” said Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter. “This is just one more element of danger I’d prefer my men and women not have to deal with.”

Are you listening legislators?

We have examples of encounters between people carrying loaded rifles and guns on our streets and law enforcement. Here are just a few:

A Michigan man was reported to police to be carrying a rifle on a Kalamazoo, Michigan street apparently stumbling around and appearing intoxicated.

Texas open carriers have had many encounters with law enforcement, often belligerently baiting the officers and provoking them while filming the encounters.

More open carriers in Texas were booted from a Chili’s restaurant when they came in with their assault rifles on, scaring the customers.

Here are just a few images of these folks.

After years of ordinary citizens walking around with loaded guns openly holstered and more recently, assault type rifles hanging around the backs or chests of brazen gun carriers, it was inevitable that a “bad guy” with a gun would open fire on a street, killing innocent people. Where were the “good guys” to stop this shooting? We don’t know who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy” any more.  And that, dear readers, is the trick that has been played on America. The gun lobby is going to have to take responsibility for this carnage soon enough.

Meanwhile, Mike the Gun Guy has blogged about a new website that is selling buttons about what should be done to the NRA. It’s brilliant. We are tired of being polite to the people who threaten, demean, name call, are offensive and harass us ( gun violence prevention advocates). And do remember that they are the folks with the guns. Why should we be polite any more considering the number of people killed in our country while our elected leaders turn their heads from the carnage? An armed society is not a polite society.

Get a spine. Stand up and do something. This is just plain ludicrous and insane.

Where is common sense?

We have enough evidence of our national public health and safety problem to stop some of this lunacy. Dr. Daniel Webster, a leading researcher in the area of gun violence, has written this great article based on his research. His research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is invaluable to the discussion: From the opinion piece written by Dr. Webster:

These tragic mass shootings serve as a grim but resounding bell tower chime in the nation’s public square. But when the ringing fades, the clock ticks on, if quietly. The equivalent of several mass shootings happen every day: 30 homicides and 60 suicides by guns in individual incidents that I’ll never be called to discuss and about which you’ll likely never hear.

That’s 2,700 lives every month – nearly the number lost on 9/11.

The conversations we do have about gun violence are often misleading. In the wake of tragedies like the one in Oregon, for instance, readers are given false choices and reminded that gun control is “a divisive issue” (it is not), even as gun owners who support new laws are rarely heard. The misguided debate pits the gun lobby’s hardliners against advocates for stronger gun laws and allows proponents of weak gun laws to portray background-check requirements for all gun sales as equivalent to unconstitutional government disarming of its citizenry.

The NRA and its supporters want Americans to believe that the choice is between gun ownership and, in essence, gun confiscation. This is a far-fetched framing. We require background checks for all gun sales made by licensed gun dealers, and the system has not been used to create a gun registry or to prevent any person from lawful gun ownership. In fact, federal law expressly prohibits such a registry. Baseless claims of gun confiscation inflame culture wars and stymie the discussion of effective solutions. (…)

A more informed and fruitful discussion about what the United States needs to do to substantially reduce gun violence would abandon these tired frames and take into account the fact that we already have answers to these crucial questions:

  • Do our gun laws allow people with histories of violence, substance abuse and criminality to own and carry guns in public?
  • Do important gaps in our laws make it easy for prohibited persons to obtain guns?
  • Do policies exist that would significantly reduce gun deaths while still allowing law-abiding individuals to have guns?

The answer to each of these questions is, of course, yes.

When laws prohibit gun ownership for a wider share of people who are violent and break laws, fewer people are shot. When we close gaps in the background check system and take seriously the obligation to keep guns from dangerous people, fewer people die.

I’m not merely guessing that these things might happen. Such policy recommendations are backed up by extensive research that I and others have conducted.

We know what the problem is. Every day there is evidence and carnage. It’s past time to demand the obvious common sense solutions. We’ve had #enough. Let’s get to work.

As a post script to this post, I need to add an article about yet another shooting on a college campus leaving one dead in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When will this end? Were these “good guys” with guns or bad guys? Why wasn’t someone with a lawful permit there to stop the shooting because surely there will be someone at the ready wherever something like this occurs, right?  Maybe the shooter was a law abiding permit holder- time will tell as more information is released. This is the 2nd shooting on a North Carolina college campus in a week.  North Carolina just passed a law allowing guns on college campuses and in bars and restaurants. Everyone will surely be safer. 

UPDATE:

I am not the only incensed person about the open carrier who shot 3 innocent people on the streets of Colorado Springs. This writer used much more direct and less polite language than I in expressing his total disdain for the gun nuts who promote open carrying of guns. Don’t believe the gun nuts when they tell you that it’s a good idea for people to be carrying guns on our streets. They are just plain wrong and as these stupid, dangerous and deadly incidents keep happening, they will have to answer for the bloodshed.

In Florida, a man eating at a Cracker Barrel restaurant was shot “accidentally” by a gun carrier. Looks like the investigation is over. When will those who “accidentally” shoot people in public be held accountable for injuries and being a public safety threat?

We are not safer folks.

Gun lobby secrets

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I am trying WordPress out for my blog so this is crossposted from www.commongunsense.com.

The gun lobby is trying hard to keep the real facts about the causes and effects of gun violence from going public. Not only do events on the ground interfere with their dangerous mantra that more guns make us safer but there are more groups and individuals doing research and writing about the truth. This article by Mike Weiss takes on the gun lobby yet again:

“According to the FBI, from 2000 to 2012 there were slightly more than 200,000 homicide victims of which slightly more than two-thirds were killed with guns. This is an average of 10,400 gun homicides each year, a remarkably-stable number over the past thirteen years. Of these gun killings, slightly more than 15 percent involved women as victims, or roughly 21,000 over the same span of years. When women are homicide victims, most if not virtually all of these shootings grew out of some sort of IPV. Let’s not forget, incidentally, that men were also shot to death by their girlfriends or their wives an average of 700 times per year. Taken together, domestic violence probably claimed more than 2,200 victims annually between 2000 and 2012, or one-fifth of all gun fatalities during those years.

The degree to which homicide grows out of personal disputes is shown by the fact that of the total murders committed in 2012, only slightly more than 20 percent took place during the commission of other crimes. The rest happened because people who knew each other, and in most cases knew each other on a long-term, continuous basis, got into an argument about money, or who dissed who, or who was sleeping with someone else, or some other dumb thing. And many times they were drunk or high on drugs, but no matter what, like Walter Mosley says, “sooner or later” the gun goes off.

Here’s the bottom line on gun violence and crime. Every year 20,000+ shoot themselves intentionally, which is suicide. Another thousand, give or take a hundred, kill themselves accidentally with a gun. Then another 10,000 use a gun to kill someone else, but 8,000 of those shootings had nothing to do with other violent crimes. If we define gun violence as using a gun to end a human life, the FBI is telling us that less than 10 percent of those fatalities would be eliminated if we got rid of all violent crime. The NRA can try to convince its members that the reason for gun violence is that there’s too much crime, but the data from the FBI clearly indicates that the reason for gun violence is that there are too many guns.”

(For your clarification IPV, referenced above, is Intimate Partner Violence.)

This is very important information and should be imprinted into the brains of our decision-makers. The corporate gun lobby loves to blame criminals with guns for most of the gun deaths. They are wrong, of course. Ordinary “law abiding” gun owners can become criminals in just a few seconds after they pull the trigger. But this view of gun rights is what ramps up the fear and paranoia about the need for guns. In actuality, after people are convinced that they need a gun for self defense, the rest is what we read about in media reports every day. It’s domestic shootings, it’s “accidental” gun discharges and it’s suicide by gun that take the most lives. And we can actually prevent some of these gun deaths. But we are in denial. Shhh. Be quiet. If the secret gets out, what will happen? Will people start storing their guns more safely? Will they still go out and buy guns? Will they demand stronger gun laws?

Remember that the gun lobby and its’ lapdog politicians have actually stopped the CDC from researching the causes and effects of gun violence. The thinking was, of course, that the facts might not support the idea that more guns make us safer. President Obama issued an executive order after the Sandy Hook school shooting to allow the CDC to do that much needed research. So far it isn’t happening. Why? More from the linked article:

But today the CDC still avoids gun-violence research, demonstrating what many see as the depth of its fear about returning to one of the country’s most divisive debates. The agency recently was asked by The Washington Post why it was still sitting on the sidelines of firearms studies. It declined to make an official available for an interview but responded with a statement noting it had commissioned an agenda of possible research goals but still lacked the dedicated funding to pursue it.

“It is possible for us to conduct firearm-related research within the context of our efforts to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and suicide,” CDC spokeswoman Courtney Lenard wrote, “but our resources are very limited.”

Ah- the fear of our politicians to take on the flawed reasoning of the gun lobby and refusal to fund the efforts. Meanwhile, 80 Americans a day are dying from gunshot injuries. Where is common sense?

But others are joining the gun violence research community and doing some private research that is revealing what we already know- guns are not making us safer. Indeed, guns are clearly making us less safe and contributing to the avoidable and senseless deaths of far too many of us. In fact, gun deaths will soon eclipse automobile deaths as a cause of death. This should be a huge wake-up call. The public gets this. But the lapdog politicians act like the Emperor parading around with no clothes on. The truth is there for all to see but denied by those who can actually do something to change it.

The gun lobby doesn’t want you to know or talk about the fact that gun suicides account for the largest number of gun deaths in America. A new study by the Journal of American Medical Association reveals the truth about gun suicides. This is a stunning report but not surprising to the gun violence prevention organizations. From the article:

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults, and those who live in rural areas are especially at risk.

For young people between the ages of 10 and 24, the suicide rates in rural areas are nearly double those of urban areas, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. And that disparity is growing.

The study, which analyzed data from 1996-2010, also found over half of the young people who killed themselves during that time period themselves had used a gun. And the rates for suicide by firearm were especially high in rural areas — about three times the rates for urban areas.

The number of young people committing suicide by hanging or suffocation increased, the study found, and the number of people using firearms decreased slightly. But firearms still accounted for the majority of deaths, at 51 percent, followed by hanging or suffocation, 34; percent; poisoning 8 percent; and other means 7 percent.

Shhh. Don’t tell anybody that we could prevent a lot of gun deaths with safe storage of guns to prevent easy access to teens and children. Guns are dangerous. It’s that simple. But the gun lobby doesn’t want people to know that.

The gun lobby doesn’t want to stop arming dangerous people at home or abroad. Read this article about the resistance to an International Arms Treaty by the gun lobby and its’ lapdog politicians:

The National Rifle Association’s outsize influence on American politics, including its notorious suppression of universal background checks and further research into gun violence, is well known. But it may come as a surprise that the NRA influences U.S. foreign policy as well — specifically, the implementation of international treaties.

Most guns used in armed conflicts aren’t manufactured in the combat zones where they end up. They are made in more developed countries and then shipped elsewhere. This process is possible because of a lack of global cooperation in regulating arms shipments. As Oxfam has pointed out, there are more international laws governing the trade of bananas than governing guns. Governments simply don’t know when guns are being sold, where they’re going or how they’re going to be used.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is the United Nations’ bid to assert some semblance of control over the unregulated $85-billion-a-year international arms market. As Reuters described it, the treaty “aims to set standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons, ranging from small firearms to tanks and attack helicopters. It would create binding requirements for states to review cross-border contracts to ensure that weapons will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism, violations of humanitarian law or organized crime.”

Most observers, including representatives of the 130 nations that have already signed, welcomed the effort to track where weapons are going and how they are used. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the ATT a “significant step” in making the world a safer place. Only three countries opposed the treaty: Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Enter the NRA, one of the most powerful pressure groups in Washington, with over 5 million members and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year. Even though the ATT would not regulate domestic sales, the NRA vehemently opposes U.S. ratification of the treaty. It charges that that the ATT would create a worldwide gun registry and transfer power from Congress to the U.N. But for all intents and purposes, the U.S. already tracks overseas sales of guns, and the ATT would not automatically create a registry of individual owners. Congressional authority to approve treaties hasn’t been impinged; the treaty, after all, will take effect only if it’s ratified by the Senate.

Another dirty little secret the gun lobby doesn’t want you to know.

It’s difficult to comprehend such a backwards resistance to common sense and measures to save lives. But we are talking about the corporate gun lobby and the industry that sells expensive guns and ammunition to people all over the world who shouldn’t have them. Guns are inherently dangerous weapons designed to kill people and some designed to kill a lot of people in a short time. The fact that the corporate gun lobby is so resistant to any efforts to prevent shootings is a national shame. Hiding behind the second amendment has been the MO of the gun lobby. But more people are noticing this way of doing business and calling into question the gun lobby’s agenda.

I spent a day at the Minnesota Capitol this week testifying against a bill that would allow Minnesotans to purchase gun silencers and carry their guns at the Capitol with no notification. Let me talk about each of these individually because there are things the gun lobby promotes through some kind if circular and illogical reasoning that, when examined carefully, makes no sense. It is similar to the “Emperor Has No Clothes.”

We heard from the supporters of the bill that gun silencers or suppressors as they are called by the gun community, are really not that much quieter than using a gun without a silencer. So then why a silencer? With a silencer, according to those in support, (from their own website) a gun shot will only be 8 times louder than a jack hammer. Really? Where is any evidence of this claim? There were no hearing or medical professionals there to support the claims that silencers will protect hearing. Wearing protective hearing devices, however, may be a cheaper and easier way to do this without changing a law that shouldn’t be changed. Check out this ad from Cabelas. The pictured ear muff lowers by 22 decibels the sound of a gun shot while also enhancing the ability to hear your hunting partner or other sounds around you while hunting. The claims made by the gun lobby advocates were that silencers would lower the sound by 30 decibels. The difference is not so much and the cost is much less to buy an ear muff like this. It would serve the same purpose without changing a law that could allow more people to own silencers that could possibly be used by people with bad intent. Makes common sense doesn’t it?

And carrying guns without notification is another circular argument. As of now, those who intend to carry guns at the Capitol ( a very dangerous place to be sure) need to let Capitol security know this. Presumably then security will have some assurance that those they see with guns in the halls of the Capitol are “law abiding” permit holders. But now the gun lobby’s circular reasoning is that no notification is necessary because computerized records hold the information about Minnesota gun permit holders. That’s enough notification. The problem with this line of reasoning is that Capitol security could access this information but only if they have reason to believe someone they see with a gun is not a permit holder. How will they know if someone is or isn’t? I don’t see how they will. This opens the door to someone who does not have a legal permit to walk around our Capitol where school kids come for tours, people are there for rally days and lobbying and committee hearings on controversial subjects ( like guns, for example) take place during the sessions. If no one needs to notify security, anyone could potentially carry their gun around with them. And waiting for Capitol security to approach a gun carrier to ask may be too late.

Sigh.

Here is another article about the gun lobby’s agenda to pass bills in states to assure that citizens can now use silencers on their guns. Check out the photos included in the article of the gun silencer company advertising for their product. The gun rights enthusiasts at the recent hearing didn’t like my pointing that out to legislators and showing the pictures. But I didn’t make this up. The ads show people in camo or military gear with their gun silencers-not duck hunters who are interested in saving their hearing. Why? Because that is not the true reason for pushing the legislation.

The thing is, the federal government regulates silencers (suppressors) as Class III weapons for good reason. I don’t know about you but it appears that most people have a clear understanding of what gun silencers are meant to do. The myth that these silencers are a must buy for hunters to protect their hearing is just that- a myth. These bills are not appearing on agendas of state legislatures because a majority of hunters are clamoring for silencers. Every hunter I have spoken to about this bill has expressed surprise that the bill even got a hearing. One man in my community, widely respected for his support of hunting sports, told me that he did actually lose some hearing in one ear from duck hunting as a child with no protective ear covering. But he told me that silencers were not the answer and couldn’t imagine hunting with a gun silencer.

No, the bills are coming from the corporate gun lobby and a minority of gun rights advocates who do the bidding of the industry. Why not make a profit if you can add yet another product to the array already available? Yes, the silencers will still be heavily regulated. But, if the bill passes, they will also now be more available to more people. Whenever guns ( and accessories) are more available to private citizens, they are also inevitably more available to those who shouldn’t have them.

The gun lobby really doesn’t want you to know all of this because their message that more guns make us safer is just not acting out in real life. Most people understand this- in fact the majority of Americans actually agree with me. 92%, and yes, that includes gun owners, want background checks on all gun sales. If that were the case, perhaps allowing silencers or people carrying guns at the Capitol would make more sense. I wonder if the gun lobby considers that their resistance to common sense gun laws actually hurts their case for changing gun laws? If we had a strong set of gun laws to keep guns and gun accessories like suppressors away from people who shouldn’t have them, those who are law abiding could make their push for some of their ideas from a better vantage point. So when the gun rights advocates use the UK as an example of a country where suppressors are allowed, they forget that the gun laws in the UK are very strong and very different from our own. It’s comparing apples to oranges. Check out this video for how suppressors are used in the UK- pretty strictly regulated as are guns:

So let’s talk the truth and stop denying the facts. Staying quiet about all of this is what the gun lobby wants. We have a lot of work to do to have a serious national conversation about guns and gun violence in our country. It’s past time for that to happen.