Snowplows, guns and other gun nonsense

snow_ploughIt’s been another interesting week in the world of guns and gun violence, as always. Several days ago I wrote about a New Jersey woman who asked some friends to shoot a neighbor who temporarily borrowed a shovel to help another neighbor. I wrote about it because you can’t make this stuff up. It’s happening in communities all over our country and soon to come to your own community if it has not already.

Apparently snow and cold are causing some gun owners to leave all common sense behind in their anger or while under the influence of alcohol. Neither of these goes together well with holding a loaded gun.

Take this one for example when a Massachusetts when a man driving while drunk and loaded, fired off shots at a snowplow that annoyed him:

A Massachusetts man apparently got frustrated while driving behind a snow plow and opened fire.

Bruce O’Brien was arrested after firing his gun three times while driving in Plymouth during a snowstorm about 7 p.m. Saturday, reported The Manomet Current.

Police said the 60-year-old O’Brien was driving drunk when he fired the shots.

None of the shots hit any cars or homes, and police aren’t sure whether the Whitman man was shooting at the snow plow.

I get the frustration of driving behind a snowplow since I live in Northern Minnesota. But I also get the “rules of engagement” when following a snowplow on a street or freeway. And one of them is not to get out a gun and start shooting bullets.

I think I posted about the good samaritan in North Carolina who was shot and killed by a drunk and loaded guy in the recent east coast snowstorm:

The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office says a 27-year-old Good Samaritan was shot and killed yesterday by a man he stopped to help.

The victim has been identified as 27-year-old Jefferson Heavner of Newton.

Investigators say the suspect, Marvin Jacob Lee, has been charged with first-degree murder and will appear in a Catawba County court on Monday. The sheriff’s office says Lee was drunk when he ran his vehicle off the side of Mathis Church Road during the snowstorm on Friday afternoon.

A group of people stopped to help Lee, including Heavner.

Investigators say that when Lee became aware that Heavner was going to call police for help, Lee got out of his vehicle and fired his gun, killing Heavner. Lee then got back in his vehicle and a standoff ensued until a SWAT team finally got Lee out of the truck and arrested him.

Making any more comments about these senseless shootings seems senseless. It’s what we’ve come to in America. When more people are armed, more people will be shot and more stupid and dangerous incidents will happen with guns. It’s just the way it is but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Steps are being taken to make us safer from people who shouldn’t have guns. President Obama has changed the conversation with his Executive Orders announced several weeks ago.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Facebook has announced that it will not allow guns to be sold peer to peer on its’ platform. Why? Most, if not all of these guns, go without Brady background checks. That’s simply a bad idea. The President’s new executive orders will beef up monitoring of on-line gun sales. A Kentucky teen purchased a gun through a Facebook gun sale meeting place was someone who could not legally purchase a gun from a licensed dealer. 

In 2014, several gun safety reform groups worked to get Facebook to change its’ policy regarding sales of guns. At that time some changes were made but they did not go far enough because private gun sales were still allowed with no background checks. But as of this past week, that has changed.

But never mind, the gun rights extremists are trying to claim this is against their second amendment rights. These guys are just plain confused and wrong. But the corporate gun lobby has convinced them that anything that makes common sense concerning gun policy and gun laws is violating their “God given” rights.  A simple explanation was offered for why they are wrong in this article written by a lawyer:

Predictably, after the announcement, the “Obummer is coming for my guns”/”Molon Labe”/”Come and Take it” crowd immediately started throwing a hissy fit about their 2nd Amendment rights (if you need proof, head over to any right wing Facebook page and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands of comments regarding Facebook “violating people’s 2nd Amendment rights”). The problem however, is that these statement are entirely incorrect, because the 2nd Amendment doesn’t apply in this situation. So clearly, these people either skipped the day in civics class where they were taught about  the state action doctrine and therefore clearly (and laughably) don’t seem to realize the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply, or worse they simply just don’t seem to care that their understanding of the Constitution is flawed at best, and flat out incorrect at worst. Maybe it’s time for a remedial lesson?

Now, we seriously should not have to go over this concept every damn time something along these lines occurs, but unfortunately, here we go again. The reason the 2nd Amendment does not apply in this situation, is because Facebook is a private company; Facebook is not the government. Therefore, if Facebook decides to ban private gun sales on its social media platform, Facebook has every right to do so; and not only is Facebook not violating anyone’s 2nd Amendment rights, the 2nd Amendment isn’t implicated.

Stand down everyone. Obama is not coming for your guns and neither is the government. Facebook has sensibly decided on a policy that they have a right to decide given that they are a private company. I thought these were the guys who love individual liberty, less government and private industry. Go figure.

In other good news, the Brady Campaign has been working to repeal the PLCAA law that has allowed the gun industry protection from law suits that no other industry enjoys. There was a victory this week when repeal legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate and several Brady activists walked into Sen. Bernie Sanders’ office to talk to staff about the repeal bill. Several hours after these folks visited with Sanders’ staff, the Brady Campaign got a call saying that Sen. Sanders would sign on to the legislation to repeal the law he voted in favor of in 2005. From the article:

According to a release from the Brady Campaign, Sanders will co-sponsor the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers in lawsuits involving shootings. Sanders had voted in favor of the protections while in the Senate and has up to this point resisted reversing course on the issue.

The Brady Campaign says that Sanders decided to support the legislation “hours after meeting with Brady activists,” and that his staff also met with victims of gun violence.

For Sanders, it’s all an effort to undo the damage of a 2005 vote for a bill that protected gun manufacturers from lawsuits when their firearms are used in crimes. Then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton opposed that bill, and has repeatedly pointed to Sanders’ vote as evidence he was aligned with the National Rifle Association.

This is what change and activism looks like. This is what happens when the majority of Americans are fed up with being snowed by the corporate gun lobby blizzard of #badideas and leaves us and victims and survivors out in the cold. This time around, the discussion about the causes and effects of gun violence is heating up in the Presidential election.

Change is in the air. We can shed the light of day on the politicians who have bowed down to the corporate gun lobby for fear of their mythical power. Gun rights extremists are a minority of Americans and even gun owners who have held sway for far too long. We have had #Enough. Let’s get to work.

Can we talk about gun safety?

safety hazardsOf course I write often about gun violence in general on this blog. It is why I write and why I do what I do. 89 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries. That is indisputable. Never mind. The gun lobby doesn’t want to talk about the “accidental” discharges or the suicides. Accidents with guns are apparently not supposed to happen. But happen they do. And death by gun suicide? It’s happening every day. Guns are the most common method and the most lethal and the most successful. That is not much published since gun suicide deaths don’t often make news and not considered to be crimes.

Can we talk about gun safety like we talk about other safety hazards in our every day lives? There are warning signs all around us about the problems with guns but we are purposely ignoring them at our peril and the for the sake of the lives of innocent Americans.

What we need is more attention paid to the causes and effects of gun violence at the least. But the gun lobby doesn’t want that either. It might blow a hole in their mantra that guns make us all safer. That is why the private research into the causes and effects of gun violence is becoming so important to preventing at least some of our daily victims from becoming a victim. Dr. Garen Wintemute from UC Davis is a hero. He has invested over 1 million dollars of his own money to do important research.

Among the research into gun violence is Dr. Wintemute’s research about the relationship between alcohol use and gun violence. For the evidence, just read local media reports. This one, for example, is proof positive:

“NEVER mix guns & booze,” said the militia member, who calls himself Joe Bleaugh. “Charles got drunk and belligerent and took away his friend’s sidearm and threatened him with it; at which time his friend drew his backup weapon and fired to defend his own life. This is why it is a ‪#‎felony‬ for an intoxicated person to be in possession of a firearm. Guns and booze do not mix. End of story, and unfortunately the end of Charles’ life. What a waste, & by his own hand!”

Texas law prohibits licensed gun owners from carrying firearms while intoxicated, regardless of whether the weapon is holstered or concealed.

Carter and Smith had been organizing the march, which they hoped would remove President Barack Obama and congressional leaders from office ahead of November’s elections.

You can’t make this stuff up. Were these guys both law abiding permit holding citizens? Just asking. How can we stop armed citizens from drinking while carrying? We have laws about this but just as with drinking while driving a vehicle, not everyone follows the law. It does seem as if this one was self defense. But if neither of these guys had been armed, this could have resulted in a fight without a death.

Even the best gun safety trainers cannot stop accidental gun discharges apparently. And that is a real problem in our country. Far too many people walk away from a gun store or after buying a gun from a private seller without the faintest notion of the potential harm that can come from improper training or handling of a gun. Guns are lethal weapons designed to kill and injure. What don’t we get about that? Take this incident at the best of the best gun training facilities- Sig Sauer- where a man “accidentally” discharged a gun while training with the best and shot himself in the leg.

I am particularly saddened by an “accidental “discharge that killed the 8 year old grandson of a Kentucky Brady Campaign chapter activist. It sounds like an investigation may reveal more details. These, and all shootings, are in the category of senseless and often avoidable losses of life. And they happen far too often in our gun soaked country.

Just read “Accidents Happen Guns Kill” if you don’t believe me. It’s only January 14th.

But never mind reality. You should really look at this video of Wayne LaPierre letting NRA members know that the end is near. FEAR.

Good grief. In what kind of world does this guy live? Not mine, that’s for sure, thankfully. Our gun culture is out of control as written by Professor Henry Giroux in this great piece:

Gun violence in the United States has produced a culture soaked in blood – a culture that threatens everyone and extends from accidental deaths, suicides and domestic violence to mass shootings. In late December, a woman in St. Cloud, Florida, fatally shot her own daughter after mistaking her for an intruder. Less than a month earlier, on December 2, in San Bernardino, California, was the mass shooting that left 14 people dead and more than 20 wounded. And just two months before that, on October 1, nine people were killed and seven wounded in a mass shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon.

Mass shootings have become routine in the United States and speak to a society that relies on violence to feed the coffers of the merchants of death. Given the profits made by arms manufacturers, the defense industry, gun dealers and the lobbyists who represent them in Congress, it comes as no surprise that the culture of violence cannot be abstracted from either the culture of business or the corruption of politics. Violence runs through US society like an electric current offering instant pleasure from all cultural sources, whether it be the nightly news or a television series that glorifies serial killers.

There is so much more to the above article that should be read and quoted. But here is a bit more after the author explains the militarization of our society and the overall corporate influences that have changed who we are as a country. From the article:

Warlike values no longer suggest a pathological entanglement with a kind of mad irrationality or danger. On the contrary, they have become a matter of common sense. For instance, the US government is willing to lock down a major city such as Boston in order to catch a terrorist or prevent a terrorist attack, but refuses to pass gun control bills that would significantly lower the number of Americans who die each year as a result of gun violence.As Michael Cohen observes, it is truly a symptom of irrationality when politicians can lose their heads over the threat of terrorism, even sacrificing civil liberties, but ignore the fact that “30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died [in 2012] in terrorist attacks).” It gets worse.

As the threat of terrorism is used by the US government to construct a surveillance state, suspend civil liberties and accelerate the forces of authoritarianism, the fear of personal and collective violence has no rational bearing on addressing the morbid acceleration of gun violence. In fact, the fear of terrorism appears to feed a toxic culture of violence produced, in part, by the wide and unchecked availability of guns. The United States’ fascination with guns and violence functions as a form of sport and entertainment, while gun culture offers a false promise of security. In this logic, one not only kills terrorists with drones, but also makes sure that patriotic Americans are individually armed so they can use force to protect themselves against the apparitions whipped up by right-wing politicians, pundits and the corporate-controlled media.

This lengthy and thoughtful article exposes the reality of our country for those who benefit from exploiting the fear and paranoia of American citizens to profit for themselves. It’s the world in which we live but it doesn’t have to be this way.  We don’t have to accept the world of the corporate gun lobby telling citizens that if only they buy that gun for self defense, all will be well with the world and families will be safer. For the truth does not bear this out.

Here’s reality. A man “accidentally” shot his own 14 year old son and will not be held responsible. He thought his son was an intruder.

Sigh.

It’s time to challenge the status quo in a big way and one way would be to change the conversation about guns and gun violence, to allow research about the causes and effects of gun violence, to make sure that Americans understand the actual risks to them when buying and carrying a gun, to make sure that proper training will actually serve to make people more responsible with their guns, to strengthen rather than weaken gun laws, to stop the practice of allowing armed citizens in all of our public spaces, to make appropriate laws to keep us all safer and to have a society less focused on violence and more focused on how to prevent it in the first place.

We are better than this.

Where is common sense?

Guns and washing clothes

washing_machineI have written before about various disputes over things (like lawn mowers, garbage cans, etc.) that have ended in death or injury from gun fire. Here is yet another- a dispute over washing clothes has ended in the death of 4 people in the Los Angeles area. The easy access to a gun and alcohol can be deadly. From the article:

A man shot and killed his wife and two others in his home on New Year’s Eve before his son wrestled the gun away and fatally shot him in a chain of events apparently set off by a dispute over a washing machine, authorities said Friday.

The two other victims killed were the son’s 48-year-old girlfriend who also lives at the house in Rowland Heights and a 27-year-old man who was visiting, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

The 54-year-old father was a heavy drinker with a large gun collection, and authorities had made dozens of previous trips to the home, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said.

This is the American gun culture out of control. Guns make disputes like this deadly. People can argue over all sorts of things but when a gun is at the ready, sometimes they die. I know that from personal experience.

Devastating shootings affect the lives of many. There is a ripple effect when mass domestic shootings like this happen. Now the son who witnessed the shootings is being held on murder charges for killing his father after he wrestled the gun from him. Good grief.

According to the writers of the Gun Violence Archive, 200 incidents that they know of involving guns and shooting have been recorded so far in 2016. It’s January 2nd. Check it out for yourself on their above linked website if you don’t believe me.

Raise your hand if you believe this is the way of life we, as Americans, should accept. The corporate gun lobby does everything in its’ ubiquitous power to stop any kind of common sense measure to prevent at least some of the shootings. With wide recognition by the public that passing laws such as expanded Brady background checks are a good idea, why doesn’t Congress just go ahead and vote to keep us safer? Rural Democratic legislators and Republicans who are in charge of a lot of our state houses are doing everything they can to reverse common sense and make it easier for just anyone to buy, own and carry guns in public. Who are they afraid of? We know the answer.

All of this adds up to a gun culture that is no longer accepted but is allowed because of feckless, timid and scared elected leaders. They are the only ones who can act through law to keep us safer. And we need them to be afraid of us and afraid of the victims and survivors who have a lot at stake to keep other Americans from suffering from devastating gun violence.

Some of our citizens have become so scared and paranoid about needing guns for protection against zombies, terrorists, people of color, President Obama, and shadows in every corner that we now have 89 Americans a day dying from gunshot injuries.

Citizens and gun owners can act positively by storing guns safely from kids, teens or being stolen. They can stop taking risks that end in death. They can be more responsible with their guns. Measures ( one has been proposed)  like requiring liability insurance on gun owners could make people more responsible much like we do with cars because car accidents can kill others unintentionally. We can tax guns and ammunition (now law in Seattle) like we do cars upon purchase so that people understand that if they want a gun, they will have to come up with tax money. Why? Because gun deaths and injuries are costing Americans a lot of money.

And why are gun buyers not required to take a class to teach them about the risks and responsibilities of gun owning  before they walk out the door of the gun shop just like we do with anyone who wants to drive a car?

And perhaps a stiff tax on ammunition would have stopped the shooter of the Aurora theater victims to think twice before ordering thousands of rounds of ammunition to be used to slaughter innocent people.

All of these things are done for good reason. And there are no exceptions. Everyone has to take driving lessons. Everyone has to pay state sales taxes when buying a car. Everyone has to register their car and get a license for that car. Proof of insurance is required but we know that some ignore this and then we all pay when an accident happens. Driving while drunk has severe penalties now. What about operating a gun while drunk? There are laws in states that allow guns in bars and restaurants that say someone with that permit can’t drink beyond the state approved legal limit. But who’s checking to see if that is the case? Bar owners don’t ask their customers if they are carrying a gun before serving them their 5th beer. It’s too late once a shooting happens. But our legislators were convinced that everything would be just fine for those “responsible” gun owners and carriers because they don’t break the laws- until they do. That’s what laws are for- to protect us all and keep us safe from those who can’t or won’t be responsible.

If you think the man who shot those folks over a dispute over washing clothes while under the influence of alcohol was responsible, think again. He should not have had access to guns.

So in 2016, what is past due is a discussion that involves reasonable people from both sides to get to a place where we can prevent some of the shootings however we can and protect rights and gun ownership. It is done in most other places in the world and in some of our own states with good results.

Let’s get to work.

 

Why guns on campus?

backpackStudents will be going back to college or starting college in the next few weeks all over America. The gun lobby wants them to carry guns along with their books, computers and notebooks. Why not? I’m sure there is a backpack meant for gun carrying. Sure enough- here is a site where you can order a “tactical back pack”. And, of course, there are the back packs designed to stop bullets. At this particular website you can also purchase body armor- also handy while walking from class to class. These would all come in handy if you think you are going to be experiencing a lot of gun fire where you go to school. Or if you think you are going to fire back at a shooter, which never really works out so well.

Yes, we all know there are shootings and have been very tragic mass shootings on our college campuses. Mass shootings happen everywhere these days and seem to be on the rise. Churches, military bases, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other public places are also scenes of mass shootings. The answer is not to increase the number of guns everywhere but to decrease them and do a much better job of screening the shooters and making sure all gun sales go through background checks. Our background check system has major flaws as I have written about before. So it is our obligation to fix the system and at least try to stop some of the shooters who commit mass murder or just “everyday” shootings.

The gun lobby keeps trying and sometimes succeeding in getting legislators to believe that people with permits to carry should be allowed to carry on college campuses. Now never mind that the campus leaders, administration and security staff are not clamoring to have guns carried around on their campuses. The public is mostly unaware as these bills often fly below the radar. But the average parent just does not want their young adult children to be exposed to people with guns carried where they are learning and studying and partying, etc. College years are stressful at best for most students. The work load is difficult. Expectations are high. Financial stresses enter in. Dating and romantic involvement can cause a lot of stress. The pressure to drink alcohol and get involved in drugs is always present. Students have a lot on their plates.

So why would someone think introducing loaded guns makes any common sense? This, of course, has nothing to do with common sense. This has to do with improving profits for the gun industry for if a new group of people are allowed to carry guns, a certain number will and then they will get themselves to a gun store and buy a weapon of their choice- a small concealable hand gun. Perfect.

In the last legislative year, many of the guns on campus bills were defeated or didn’t get a hearing. In Florida, a bill was defeated. But it’s back again. This editorial from the Orlando Sentinel opposes the bill and for many good reasons:

Allowing guns on campus would inject deadly weapons into an atmosphere already swirling with academic pressure, romantic rivalries, youthful impetuousness, and alcohol and drugs. What could possibly go wrong?

Supporters of the bills claim guns would make campuses safer because concealed permit holders could defend themselves and others from criminals without having to wait for the police. They cite last year’s shooting at Florida State University, in which a lone gunman wounded three people at the library before police arrived and shot him dead.
But when the bills were considered during the last legislative session, every public university president — including FSU’s John Thrasher — and police chief registered his or her opposition. At a summit this past week organized by the League of Women Voters, Valencia College police chief Paul Rooney, a former Orlando police chief, advised legislators to pay special attention to the opposition from campus law enforcement. “Let’s listen to the folks who know best,” Rooney said.

Inadequately trained young people carrying guns is just a bad idea. And, as the editorial says, students are safer on campus than off when it concerns gun violence.

One of the little addressed problems with allowing loaded guns on campus is suicide. According to NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, college aged students are in an age group prone to certain mental illnesses . Not every one with a mental illness commits suicide of course. And mentally ill people are not necessarily more dangerous with guns than others. But why introduce a deadly weapon into the mix of all of the other things going on with young people in their late teens and early twenties?  We know that guns are more deadly in suicide attempts and are the method most used, especially by young men who are the ones most likely to carry their guns.

And we have new evidence about alcohol use, abuse and guns from this article in The Trace:

Several studies have established the relationship between alcohol abuse and firearm-related crimes. Just as an individual is severely handicapped while operating a car under the influence, these studies found that similar failures in judgment and impulse control manifest during the operation of a firearm. Research shows that the risk of homicide, suicide, and violent death by all causes is significantly elevated with chronic alcohol abuse. Another studyfound a causal relationship between alcohol abuse and “impulsive” crimes such as assault and property damage.

Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine who runs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, has conducted two recent studies on alcohol use among gun owners and how it might impact their behavior. In 2011, using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System — an annual survey of risk-related behaviors conducted by the Centers of Disease Control — for eight states and more than 15,000 respondents, he found that gun owners are significantly more likely than non-firearm owners to have five or more drinks on one occasion, to drink and drive, and have 60 or more drinks per month.

Additionally, in 2015, Wintemute discovered that firearm owners who drink excessively had a history of risky behavior, including higher rates of non-traffic offenses, an overall higher risk of arrest, and greater reported “trouble with the police.” Alcohol abuse, the 2011 study found, also leads to risky behavior with guns: For instance, alcohol intoxication is likely to impair a firearm owner’s “decision-to-shoot” judgment. And while Wintemute didn’t seek a direct link between alcohol abuse and gun violence, he did conclude that of the nearly 400,000 firearm-related deaths between 1997 and 2009, “it is probable that more than a third of these deaths involved alcohol.”

Given the risky behavior of college students and alcohol use, what are legislators thinking? We now want to mix loaded guns into the college scene? Apparently legislators are thinking not much except loyalty and obedience to the corporate gun lobby who line some of the political pockets and unduly influence our elected leaders.

There’s something even more insidious going on here. An article written for the on-line source, The Trace, actually researched the silent and underground movement to get guns onto college campuses and into the hands of young adults. Why have guns on college campuses become so important to a minority of conservatives and gun advocates? It seems they will go to any length to convince the public and elected leaders, including using an editorial piece about a student who was stalked to promote the idea of guns on campus for women.

It is unclear to what extent Fox News knew that the op-ed, which concludes with the line, “If schools and society can’t guarantee my safety and the safety of victims like me, it’s time we have the chance to defend ourselves so we can stop living in fear,” was written by a male pro-gun advocate.

Although the piece carries an editor’s note saying only that Lott “contributed to this article,” according to emails viewed by Buzzfeed, Lott admitted to a Fox News editor, “It was actually easier for me to write this in the first person for her than the way I had originally written it.” In a statement to Buzzfeed, Fox News Executive Vice President and Executive Editor John Moody said FoxNews.com “published what was characterized to us as a first person account of Ms. Woolrich’s experiences.”

Lott promoted the op-ed in a post on the website of his Crime Prevention Research Center under the headline, “Taylor Woolrich’s op-ed at Fox News describes what it is like to be stalked, lots of other media coverage.”

Accompanying the post, Lott wrote, “Taylor Woolrich has a very powerful op-ed at Fox News that starts this way,” before offering an excerpt. The post noted that Woolrich’s story was gaining national media coverage, listing dozens of outlets that had covered the story including Fox News, NBC, MSNBC, and BBC.

Woolrich told Buzzfeed that she “wanted to talk to the media, if it could mean something positive. But I wanted to talk to the media about stalking.” Her interaction with Lott, she said, left her feeling like “an NRA puppet”:

This kind of deception is shameful, stupid and potentially dangerous. The gun lobby uses fear, paranoia and false stories to further it’s own agenda.

The facts about the dangers of loaded guns on our college campuses are too important to be using women to promote the agenda of the gun lobby. John Lott, the man whose previous research and ideas that more guns make us safer has been discredited, is the poster boy for all that is wrong with the American gun culture. Check out this article by Mike the Gun Guy on the subject.

Women are not safer when armed. That is a fallacy. There is absolutely no evidence that points in that direction. Selling guns to women for self protection, however, will increase sales. Women are generally less safe in homes with guns. 

So let’s look at some other important facts. Andy Pelosi of Keep Guns Off Campus provided me with these graphs showing that people are actually safer on campus than off, for the most part. The organization has worked for years to stop the gun lobby from getting legislators to allow guns on our college campuses. So below are some new and interesting graphs showing where students are safe and where they are not.

US total crime rate US vs. private college crime

US vs college crime rates

From these graphs provided to me we can see that overall crime rates are significantly lower on college campuses than off campus. The exception is forcible rape which we can see is higher, for some reason, on private campuses. So would women be safer with a gun, assuming they had a place to carry it, during a forcible on campus rape- or off campus for that matter. There is nothing to suggest they would and they could actually be more at risk.

LaPierre’s proclamation bears the hallmarks of a litany of misconceptions. Gun aficionados often frame the debate in terms of protection, but it is vital to realise that the vast majority of rape and murder victims are not harmed by nefarious strangers, but by people they know, and often love – friends, family members, lovers. Far from protecting people and keeping families safe, the sad truth is that firearms are often used in episodes of domestic violence. The John Hopkins centre for gun policy research has some sobering facts on this; women living in a home with one or more guns were three times more likely to be murdered; for women who had been abused by their partner, their risk of being murdered rose fivefold if the partner owned a gun.

Nor did guns make the women safer; women who purchased guns were 50% more likely to be killed by an intimate partner. So LaPierre’s “good woman with a gun” is actually, it seems, putting herself in danger.

Viewed in this light, the NRA’s insistence that rapes can be prevented with firearms or that teachers should be armed appear even more stupid than they already seemed. It is worth remembering that just as America leads the world in gun ownership, so too does it lead the world in gun homicide, with 11,000 to 12,000 murders committed by firearms each year. The tired old rationalisation that guns protect people is frankly contradicted by the evidence. The inescapable conclusion is that gun ownership makes everyone less safe. The logic the NRA espouses is perverse and transparently self-serving – the solution to gun crimes is not more guns, and no amount of rhetorical dexterity can surmount this fact. If the US is to have a truly honest discussion about its gun culture, it needs to be rooted in fact rather than fantasy, and the sound and fury from the NRA should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.

That about sums it up. Common sense should prevail.