Guns and potato chips

potatochips_005350I frequently run into stories about people getting shot in arguments about simple things or objects just because. I have written about arguments over lawn mowers, garbage cans, property ( that’s a more common cause for a shooting), dogs, etc. But here is a new reason for shooting someone- eating my potato chips. Yes. It’s true. A South Carolina man shot and seriously injured his cousin after said cousin ate the chips he told him not to eat.

But the story started changing after the victim recovered enough for further questioning. The teen told investigators that Langdale shot him after warning him not to eat his salt and vinegar potato chips.

 

“Do not touch my chips, or I’ll shoot you,” Langdale allegedly told the victim according to a sheriff’s incident report, obtained by the Charleston Post and Courier.

People are killed for much more serious arguments actually. My sister is dead over a serious argument during a contentious divorce. No one should die because of that but a gun and several rounds of ammunition were available to my now dead estranged brother-in-law. And the result was 2 dead people. All because of money and a divorce.

I really am not fond of vinegar flavored potato chips. They are sour tasting to me but many love them. I guess a man with a gun loved them a little too much and now he is arrested for attempted murder.

It is about the guns after all. This man was presumably a “good guy with a gun” until he wasn’t. That’s the thing. It only takes seconds to make that very serious decision to use a loaded deadly weapon in the heat of the moment to seriously injure or kill someone.

Each of us has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in America. Too often that right is taken from us for reasons that are beyond our control- like disease, weather ( Hurricane Michael), war, poor health, poverty, no health care, etc.

In our country, we can count on the daily carnage of gun violence as one way to take away life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Every day in our country is an American tragedy and yet we do nothing.

When will we ever learn? It’s not for lack of trying of course because many people like myself have been sounding the alarm and asking for common sense for decades now. And for that we have been treated like an “angry mob” and those bad people who will take away the guns of all of those “good people” and “law abiding” armed citizens.

The “angry mob” that our President and the GOP has now concocted as a reason not to vote for the Democrats is unarmed. The other angry mob walks around with AR15s strapped to their bodies and shows up in public places with loaded guns to intimidate the rest of us. Remember Charlottesville?

This is dangerous rhetoric fomented by our very own President and assisted by the corporate gun lobby with the promotion of fear and paranoia. Remember Wayne LaPierre and the “guys with the guns make the rules”?

No Mr. LaPierre. They don’t.

Let’s hope the rules are not made by armed citizens.  When that rhetoric is part of our national daily media, guys with guns get the idea that they just might be justified in shooting someone over potato chips or elections.

Elections are coming up. It’s October with less than a month to go. Peaceful and fair elections have always been the American way. Without that, we are not a democracy.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month.

The statistics are chilling. When a gun is in the home, women are at great risk during domestic arguments. 

This week I attended the annual fund raiser for Safe Haven which is a shelter for abused women in Duluth. Every year, either a woman who has been abused and used the shelter tells her story to the audience or a film is shown with interviews of some of the women who have been abused. Out of the 3 stories told by the women interviewed for this year’s film, 2 of them had experienced the terror of their abuser holding a gun to her head or having a gun aimed at her during the abusers abusive tirades. They lived to tell their stories.

A former District Court Judge was the keynote speaker for this event. He had seen a lot of domestic abuse cases over his years as a local attorney and then a judge. He spoke about seeing generations of men who had come before him as abusers- a grandfather, then his son and then his son. His message was that violence begets violence. Violence is not the way to win arguments or elections. But it can become the ultimate control over others.

I am adding this new report by the Brady Campaign about domestic violence and guns:

Every hour, 1,141 people become victims of domestic violence. About 3 people are shot and killed every single day by an intimate partner with a gun. Millions more are victimized, threatened, intimidated, or terrified into silence by the presence of one. They will survive with emotional (and sometimes physical) scars of the time that a person they loved hurt them. The stories of Sara, Kate, Rachael, and Kimberly are the voices of real people who have been affected by the intersection of domestic violence and guns in this country. Sara and Shelley didn’t survive their attacks. We owe a duty to them and to the survivors who lived. It is our job to call on Congress and state legislators to pass meaningful laws to prevent more men and women from becoming victims of domestic violence every year.

There is much much more to the above linked report including the real stories of women who have survived domestic violence- or not.

Loaded guns can become weapons of terror within seconds. The assumption is, or what I am told anyway by those who own guns for self protection, that a gun will be used to save the lives of one’s family during a robbery or an assault of some kind. But the thing is, owning a gun is risky business. Unless the owner is properly trained ( which many are not), stores guns securely in a safe away from the curious hands of a child or teen- or a burglar, they can be used to harm others. 

There are certain facts here. A gun in the home is more likely to be used to kill or injure oneself or someone in the home than it is to be used for self defense. There are real risks associated with gun ownership just like the risks of driving while drunk or smoking in public places.

Check out the Brady Campaign’s End Family Fire site to learn more about the risks.

And I will end with some observations I made while tabling a few days ago for Protect Minnesota at the St. Louis County Health and Human Services conference. This conference is attended by social workers and health care personnel from all over the state and is always full of people ready to learn. Our table was a popular one. Many stopped by to take information and have conversations.

One woman took lots of our information about safe storage of guns, ASK, and talking points about gun violence prevention. She told me she was a social worker who went into many homes of families who needed services for one reason or another. In one home, a woman lived alone with her children after being abused by her spouse. She told the social worker that she kept a loaded gun in the dresser drawer next to her bed just in case he came calling. This horrified the social worker as she asked the woman if her children were also in that bedroom. She said that her 3 year old slept with her.

So the social worker explained the risks of having this loaded gun around unsecured both to herself and her children. They went to a local Goodwill store and found a gun safe there for less than $10 and brought it home. The gun is now secured in this small safe hidden in the bedroom closet.

That is common sense.

Also at that 2 day conference, we gave away 200 trigger locks before 10:00 a.m. of the first day. People support what we do and what to be safe if they own guns.

Had that South Carolina man had his gun safely stored and not at the ready in his hands, his cousin would not have suffered serious injuries over a dispute about potato chips and the shooter would not have been arrested. Both lives have been forever changed because of the gun.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With some common sense and awareness about the risks of loaded guns we can save lives. With stronger gun laws, we can save lives.

That is the bottom line.

 

Love affair with guns

This is cross posted at commongunsense.com.

love affair- lipsI know that my views on the subject of guns and gun violence do not mesh much at all with the gun rights extremists or those who believe in the fear created by the corporate gun lobby. Yes, of course, many people own guns for self defense and for hunting and enjoy them for sport. It becomes a family affair to go hunting every year and my family also did that. I grew up around hunting and hunting guns. I didn’t grow up around fear and paranoia or in a neighborhood where a lot of crime happened. No one in my house talked about needing a gun for self defense. But the violence that comes when some who own guns for self defense in their homes use them for murder has affected my family. I do know that fear. I know the fear of losing someone close to me because of someone who feared others. I know the pain of a phone call telling me that my only sister had been shot to death by her estranged husband, someone who loved his guns.

It’s a culture in America- the gun culture- not seen in any other country in the civilized world. People love guns. They love their power. They love their accuracy when they shoot at targets. They love the protection that they believe guns can provide. They love using them to hunt and some love to collect guns. I know many of these people. But I don’t know very many gun owners who ascribe to the corporate gun lobby’s mantra about guns everywhere and for everyone and anyone. The gun owners I know support gun safety reform.

An author, Susan Straight, wrote this piece about her husband’s love of guns and what that did to her family. I like this piece because it expresses the differing views about guns that exist all around us. We seem to live in two different worlds and can’t agree on what we should be doing to keep our communities safe from gun violence. One side, represented by a minority, believe that guns everywhere are safe and there should be no restrictions or, apparently no common sense when it comes to lethal weapons. The other, the majority of us, believe that gun rights and gun safety reform are not mutually exclusive and that we can save lives with reasonable reforms. We also believe that having tough conversations about the risks of guns in homes has to happen. One example, that could have been helpful to the writer of the article above, is to ASK if there are guns in the homes where your children play and hang out. I wonder how Straight’s husband would have reacted had that question been asked of him? Would he have stored those guns more safely away from his own kids and their friends? Maybe. It’s luck that his daughters didn’t handle the many guns in their home.

From the above linked article:

We had three children, and suddenly he had 10 guns. I didn’t feel protected. I felt like I was living with a different man, one who didn’t play basketball and read Sports Illustrated like before, one who baked his guns clean and read Guns & Ammo. Our house and garage and vehicle, my spouse, carried instruments of death. The 9 mm handgun on the dresser, shockingly heavy to me, could have been picked up, dropped, fired, by fingers smaller than mine. And I couldn’t forgive that.

This love affair with guns has led to a push to “normalize” the shooting and carrying of guns in public places. It is not really about self defense. It’s about an agenda to get the rest of us to approve of guns everywhere. What we have now is back yard shooting ranges in residential neighborhoods like this one in Florida that is apparently legal. And even though, on the face of it, this is a very stupid and dangerous law, or lack thereof, because it is legal, nothing can be done- until some innocent child or adult is killed by one of those bullets that is bound to go astray. Where is common sense?

In Michigan where the gun extremists managed to get a law passed allowing guns in schools,  a local school district has had to concoct a flow chart for how to deal with people with guns in their schools. No, I am not making this up. Check it out for yourself and see if you think this is the definition of insanity:

A visitor spotted with a holstered handgun — a pistol or revolver — would be taken into a designated area and asked the purpose of the visit, according to the chart.

Should a visitor have an unholstered pistol or any long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun, there would be announcement of a lockdown and the building principal and law enforcement would be called in.

Craig McCrumb, Durand schools superintendent, has said the guidelines and protocol have been discussed so the district is proactive on the issue, with safety in mind for the students. The guidelines are not yet approved.

“We still see ourselves fine-tuning the document. It could stay the same or it could still yet be tweaked,” he said.

Below and to the right is the flow chart, which comes from the above linked article. If you think this is the way our schools should protect the safety of our children, raise your hand.

And if said visitor with a holstered ( or openly carried) gun means bad intent, what then? It’s too late. How will the school know who is whom? Is the gun carrier a “good guy” with a gun or a “bad guy” with a gun? This is ludicrous and unnecessary. There is no need for guns in schools. To think that a parent or visitor with a gun just may be at the right place at the right time to stop a school shooter is like whistling in the wind. The chances are slim to none. And even if they were, the chances of being able to stop a shooting before it happens are also slim to none. But if a school administrator has to stop and ask a potential shooter ( because they won’t know one from another) a bunch of questions, time is lost in locking down the school or trying to prevent the person from entering.

A minority of gun owners believe themselves to be potential heroes however so this is what we get. Either that or they find every place they go to be so dangerous that they can’t be without their guns. The truth of the matter is that more kids are shot in their homes than in schools. And that, mostly, with legally purchased guns by law abiding citizens. Never mind the facts. When you are having a love affair, facts don’t matter. From the linked article:

However, fewer than 2 percent of student homicides — whether by gun or any other means — take place at school, on the way to or from school or at a school-sponsored event, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. From July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, 11 of the 1,336 homicides (0.8 percent) of school-age children happened at school. While that number fluctuates each year, it has remained below 2 percent since the Indicators of School Crime and Safety annual reports started in 1992.

The CDC estimates the odds of a student age 5 to 18 being a victim of a school-associated homicide at about 1 in 2.5 million.

Nonfatal gun violence occurs in schools only sporadically. According to a 2013 report from the Bureau of Justice and Statistics, most nonfatal gun violence (across all age groups) occurs at the victim’s home (42 percent) or in an open area, on the street or on public transportation (23 percent). Less than 1 percent takes place in schools.

In other words, despite the significant hours children log at school and despite a rise in active shooter situations in and outside schools, children are more likely to be shot at a friend or relative’s house or in a parking lot or garage or shopping mall than at their school.

“Schools are safe,” said Larry Johnson, the president and director of public safety of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officials, which oversees school security programs. “I think people are forgetting the fact that schools are sometimes safer than the homes.”

Further, because of our love affair with guns, it is now legal in some states like Michigan for a visitor to a school to carry a loaded gun around where children gather to learn and play. So who will get fired or be in trouble if someone on the staff, presumably an administrator, questions the visitor with a gun? Because these folks don’t want to be questioned about carrying guns around and when stopped, they challenge the person who stopped them. It’s just a matter of time before a school principal will be sued because he/she questioned the legality of a gun carrier in his/her school. This is the definition of insanity.

Every day I am sent or run across a large number of articles about real shooting deaths that happen on purpose or by “accident”. This one caught my eye because of the stupidity of what happened. A woman who was arguing with her new husband over who was going to drive the car home tried to put the loaded gun in a “safer” place in the car and the gun discharged somehow killing her own niece. She was sentenced a few days ago for the shooting that occurred last April. Now the lives of a whole lot of people are forever changed because a loaded gun was somewhere within easy reach and combined with drinking alcohol, an innocent person is dead. The whole thing was avoidable and irresponsible. But when we have a love affair with guns, this is the price we pay.

There is no common sense when it comes to gun policy in America. It is based on fear, hyperbole and the influence of a very well funded and fierce lobby sponsored by the gun industry which encourages more guns everywhere. It doesn’t have to be this way. We are better than this and can change the conversation about guns and gun violence as well as pass some reasonable gun safety laws to stop some of the daily shootings. It’s well past time to do this and time to get to work.

While I was away…..

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It was great to get away and enjoy some family fun at Disney World. Our family trip was a wonderful get-away with good weather- not too hot, sometimes cloudy, even a little drizzle and fog- but nothing that kept us from enjoying the rides and the other attractions at the various parks of Disney World. As I looked around I saw people mostly having fun. There were the crying kids, of course. There were people of all ages from all over the world walking or with strollers and wheel chairs and wheeled carts causing “traffic jams”. There was lots of waiting in line which is part of the “Disney Experience”. Staff were cheerful and efficient as was the Disney resort where we stayed. All in all, very impressive. I saw no guns and I saw no need for guns in the “happiest place on earth.”

It was great to get away and enjoy some family fun at Disney World. Our family trip was a wonderful get-away with good weather- not too hot, sometimes cloudy, even a little drizzle and fog- but nothing that kept us from enjoying the rides and the other attractions at the various parks of Disney World. As I looked around I saw people mostly having fun. There were the crying kids, of course. There were people of all ages from all over the world walking or with strollers and wheel chairs and wheeled carts causing “traffic jams”. There was lots of waiting in line which is part of the “Disney Experience”. Staff were cheerful and efficient as was the Disney resort where we stayed. All in all, very impressive. I saw no guns and I saw no need for guns in the “happiest place on earth.”

While I was away, there were the usual number of shooting incidents. This one in Florida was particularly awful, if one can be worse than another:

“There were few answers on Thursday about what led a 12-year-old boy to allegedly shoot his two brothers Wednesday night, killing one and injuring the other, before turning the gun on himself.

Investigators say Kevin Pimentel, remembered as a quiet kid who played with his iPad on the school bus and was in gifted classes, shot and killed his 6-year-old brother, Brady, and injured his 16-year-old brother, Trevor, inside their home. He then shot himself, committing suicide, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference Thursday morning.

Trevor was shot in the leg and remains hospitalized with nonlife-threatening injuries.

Detectives believe the incident was precipitated by an argument while the boys were cooking inside their Sugar Lane park mobile home at 16916 Bachmann Ave. But Nocco said investigators did not yet know what led to the argument or what it was about.”

Arguments between children should not end up in a shooting that takes lives. This is insane. And we can do something about it if we get people who buy guns to understand that guns are a risk if owned and certainly need to be stored unloaded and safely away from the hands of children and teens. But our American gun culture has become so cavalier, in large part because the gun lobby has pushed for the “normalization” of guns everywhere, that people actually believe guns will keep them safer. The opposite is true of course.

And while I was away, an Arizona state Senator proposed a mandatory church attendance law to stop gun violence. I’m not kidding. I don’t make this stuff up.

Two Miami children were shot and injured in separate incidents with no one yet arrested.

Another road rage incident, this time in Pennsylvania, resulted in the arrest of a man carrying a handgun in his car. Guns in cars- loaded and left out where they can be easily accessed- are a bad idea. Other such incidents have ended in death.

This child shooting happened in Pennsylvania. Again, one more toddler who gained access to a gun and shot and injured himself. Where is common sense? All were lucky this did not end in yet another tragic death as we are seeing more and more often in America.

Guns should not be used to randomly shoot innocent people on freeways as they are driving. This latest incident in the Kansas City, Missouri area reminds us that there are way too many people with guns who shouldn’t have them and who use them to terrorize the public. Guns are like that. They can be used to terrorize people. From the article:

“In my 18 years as a police officer, I’ve seen a lot of things and this was absolutely one of the scariest things that I’ve witnessed,” said Jimenez. “He had no regards for public safety, he definitely was trying to kill police men, and citizens.”

Jimenez said police did not stop traffic because he felt other motorists would be sitting targets.

It’s also a reminder that we are doing little to stop people who shouldn’t have guns from getting them anyway. America is a country with weak gun laws and an insane gun culture. This is what we get.

Just before I left on my trip, States United to Prevent Gun Violence produced an amazing video of a mock gun shop set up in New York City. You can watch the reaction of prospective gun buyers once they hear the history of the gun they are considering. Guns have a history and we need a history lesson in order to understand the risks of guns. Here’s the video:

You can see more at the website, Guns With History. Also you can see the freak-out by the gun rights extremists about this video. One can only imagine that if gun buyers understand what can happen with the gun they are about to bring home, they may just decide not to buy one. What would happen to profits if that were the case? But when profit comes at the expense of human lives, we have a serious problem. It’s an epidemic of gun violence that can only be cured by a change to our national conversation about gun safety and ways to make us all safer from devastating gun violence.

Speaking of devastating gun violence, a cartoon on a Cincinatti media site showed the shooting deaths March 20-March 25 and called it March Madness. Indeed it is-14 gun injuries or deaths in 5 days. It’s just another average day in America.

The corporate gun lobby is pushing for permitless carrying of guns in states all over the country. It looks like the Kansas legislature will pass such a bill. On the face of it, how does this even make any common sense? No matter what the gun lobby tries to say about this, it means that anyone will be able to carry a gun if the law passes- felon or not; domestic abuser or not. From the article:

“Carrying a gun is a lifestyle,” said Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco. “The government should trust its citizens.”

Why trust everyone with a gun when you have no idea if that person can pass a background check or should be carrying that gun? Remember that many guns are purchased without background checks from private sellers at gun shows, on the Internet or other venues. That means that a gun bought without a background check, potentially by someone who is a prohibited purchaser, could then be carried around without a permit which would require a more complete background check by law enforcement. What’s to stop a felon or domestic abuser or dangerously mentally ill person from carrying a gun in public? Who would know the difference between a “law abiding” carrier with no bad intent or someone with bad intent carrying a gun to inflict injury or death on others? But even those “law abiding” legal gun carriers have been known to shoot others.

Conceal carry permit holders have been responsible for more than a few homicides since the laws have passed in so many states. The Violence Policy Center is keeping track of gun carriers who have killed other people. Take a look and tell me if we should just trust anyone carrying a gun to be responsible with that gun. But I digress.

Oh, and speaking of the American gun culture, the NRA’s own Ted Nugent is up to his usual rude and offensive stuff. It will be more than interesting to see what else Nugent has to say at the upcoming NRA convention in Nashville. Remember, the organization most associated with gun rights in America keeps this guy on their Board of Directors meaning they must endorse this kind of talk.

And last, but not least, the gun rights extremists are so paranoid about us gun safety reform folks that they managed to create a Google app that revealed personal information about gun violence prevention advocates. Thankfully it has been taken down. But these folks seem to think anything goes when it comes to their rights. Responsibilities apparently don’t come with those rights. A civil debate and discussion can happen about the issue of gun violence prevention. But perhaps that is what these folks are afraid of. If a civil and reasoned debate based on facts and research about the causes and effects of gun violence occurs, it may not come out on the side of guns everywhere for everyone. Is that what this is about? It’s past time to find out.

One of my critics who reads this blog wondered why I report shooting incidents here. What good does that do? What it does is to expose the notion that more guns are making us safer. Because if more people understand that shootings like the ones I post here are happening everywhere every day, they may just join the cause of gun safety reform. Because the shootings happen everywhere, they can happen anywhere and to people we all know and love. And that may lead more people to support common sense gun legislation and common sense conversation about gun safety reform. A conversation about gun safety reform that could lead to laws to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them is not mutually exclusive to protecting gun rights. This is not either/or. It’s both and it’s about saving lives.

When the gun lobby pushes for no restrictions on guns or who owns them, it makes it hard to keep the discussion civil and based on fact. Restrictions are necessary for a civil society. An armed society is definitely not a polite society. So yes, while I was away, a lot of shooting incidents happened as well as activity by the gun rights extremists to arm everyone and pretend that mandatory church attendance will solve our gun violence epidemic. Let’s talk about what will really work to have safer communities.

Speaking of safe communities, I heard no gunshots at Disney World except for the Indiana Jones show at Epcot. The only bangs I heard were at various attractions and shows and most particularly at the light and laser show at Epcot which was, as advertised, spectacular.

You can also find this post at commongunsense.com.

UPDATE:

I must add one more shooting incident to my list, though there are many more. In Kentucky, a 5 year old unlocked the gun cabinet, took out a gun and shot his sister. The little girl will live apparently. But kids are curious about all kinds of things. Perhaps people should re-consider whether they should have guns at all at home when children are small or even when they are teens. The risks are great.

Why the guns for self defense argument just doesn’t work or “This shot’s for you”

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(This post will be cross posted on commongunsense.com)

As my readers know, I write often about stupid and dangerous things that happen with guns- and often by “law abiding” gun owners. So here are just a few for your entertainment.

First- this article lists 5 incidents since 2010 where male gun carriers have shot their private parts. Seriously- I don’t make this stuff up. From the article:

The Internet is abuzz this week with the unfortunate mishap of one security guard in Trinidad who accidentally shot his dick off with a .38 firearm. That sucks, but this isn’t the first time that a potential Darwin Award nominee robbed himself of manhood. At least five similar incidents have been reported in the United States within the last three years.

If these cases don’t sway macho man constitutionalists to support gun control, then I don’t know what.

The language is not mine but that of the writer of the article. But it’s graphic enough. You can read the 5 incidents for yourself. There are quite a few others out there of guns falling out of pants pockets or being left in men’s washrooms by “accident” because having a gun in a holster when “doing your business” just must be pretty inconvenient. Anyway, these things happen. Why do they happen? Are there just too many irresponsible gun owners carrying guns around who shouldn’t be? Are we not letting people know how risky it is to carry a loaded gun around? The gun lobby makes it seem as if having that gun with you will save you or someone from certain death or being robbed, or whatever they can scare up. This is what happens when fear and paranoia drive the discussion about a serious national public health epidemic. For surely, these guys have had major health costs, physical disabilities and long term emotional difficulties after their shooting incidents.

Second, I want to illustrate how when a gun is at the ready, simple arguments between friends or relatives can turn ugly quickly. Guns and alcohol don’t go together well as we have already discussed a lot on this blog. But when these 2 friends argued about whether a “Bud” or a Busch would be the beer of choice, one of them got shot. Seriously. I don’t make this stuff up. From the article:

An argument between a 64-year-old man who wanted a Budweiser beer and his friend who handed him a can of Busch instead ended when the disgruntled recipient shot the other man in the arm, wounding him in a Louisiana parking lot, police said on Friday.

Budweiser, you may remember, put up that much loved and sort of sensitive “lost dog” commercial for the recent Super Bowl that seemed to be a pitch for fatherhood. The Busch website appeals more to those who “earn it” – a bit more of a macho appeal. Women, of course, also enjoy drinking beer, me among them. We live in a city with an emerging micro brewery industry so trying out new locally brewed beers on occasion is something we do with friends. I have yet to argue with anyone who gave me a beer I didn’t like. And even if I did, I wouldn’t end the argument with a gun because I don’t carry one.  But I digress.

There has been a discussion on a Facebook page to which I belong about the beer shooting incident. Lots of great quips about the irony of the choice between a Budweiser or a Busch beer- “This shot’s for you” was one. Here are a few others: “Stand your ground against bad beer.” ” Busch Beer. Head for the mountains. Just don’t get ambushed by your Bud.” You get the picture. How insane is this? It’s so typically American to read a story about 2 guys in an argument over a beer getting out their guns to solve the dispute. And need I remind you that these are the “good guys with guns.” You might appreciate this cartoon:

Your fly is open
From Mike Thompson ( http://www.freep.com/opinion/mike-thompson/)

Swaggering around with holstered guns in public is a pretty macho thing to do for some. Many say that carrying a gun is an extension of manhood. For most people it’s just plain crazy as the cartoon above reflects.  As much as these guys want to make women feel a need for guns for self defense, the gun world is still a mostly male place. Deceiving women into believing they will be safer from rape and domestic abuse is dangerous but it is one way to get women to purchase guns. Owning a gun is an awesome responsibility that comes with major risks, especially for women.

And speaking of guys with guns , there is an attempt by the gun lobby to use women to promote their agenda of guns everywhere passed. But not so fast. Women who are in the process of being raped are just not going to be able to use that gun in the manner pushed by the gun lobby. Most recently the discussion about women and guns has turned to the problem of date rape on college campuses. Here’s why this is a problem, according to this article:

We’re glad to see that people in legislature around the country are beginning to take this issue seriously and try to institute some reforms. Unfortunately the concept of introducing guns into this equation — the people who are suggesting that just don’t understand the issue. First of all, most of these assaults take place when they’re incapacitated. There’s no way they could use a gun. But even if they’re not completely incapacitated, they’re often drunk or have drank a lot. When you introduce a gun into that situation it becomes extremely dangerous. And the people being assaulted are often being assaulted by friends or acquaintances. It’s very unlikely someone is going to pull a gun in this situation. The end result will not address the problem, but it will result in substantially more injuries and death.

Check out what the NRA’s own Wayne LaPierre has to say about rape and the need for guns on campus for women in the video below from the Tonightly Show on Comedy Central: ( the clip about guns on campus begins at 2:47 in the video. Fear, fear, fear and the shameless promotion of it to drive women to gun stores is just plain wrong.

This cynical and misogynistic view of guns and self defense is recognized as such by people with common sense such as this writer for Harvard University Institute of Politics:

Isn’t it refreshing to see a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual convention espousing female empowerment to loud applause?

In the case of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s speech last Friday, no, it is not. LaPierre, who said, “the one thing a violent rapist deserves to face is a good woman with a gun,” delivered an argument for women’s armed self defense that made a mockery not only of women’s rights, but also of conservative principles.

LaPierre was repeating a common trope among gun rights activists that easy gun access allows women to defend themselves against domestic violence. Never mind the various studies debunking this myth, including one showing states with higher gun ownership see more violence against women than states with lower gun ownership, even after accounting for confounding factors like urbanization and income. Even if it were true that guns kept women safer – or any of us, for that matter – his recommendation is offensively flawed on multiple levels.

First is the implication that it is the responsibility of the woman, not, say, the police, to defend herself from sexual assault. Interestingly, conservatives, the NRA included, used to oppose this kind of gun-toting vigilante justice. In the late 1960s, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the founders of the California-based Black Panthers, advocated individual gun ownership to allow blacks to defend themselves in a nation where police were reliably racist and racists were reliably violent. In response, California conservatives proposed a law banning loaded weapons from city streets. Then-governor Ronald Reagan supported the law, calling guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will,” and claiming that the law “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” The NRA also supported this measure, as well as the gun-control measures passed at the national level in the ’60s.

Things have changed since the 1960s. Domestic shootings are a leading cause of death for women in the work place. Women are more likely to be killed by a gun by an intimate partner than to use a gun for legitimate self defense. In America, women are more likely to die from gunshot injuries than in any other democratized country and many mass shootings are the result of domestic disputes gone very wrongThis article from Slate explores the myth that women should have guns to prevent rapes: ( the article mentions a statement by a Nevada Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore about the need for guns to stop campus rape)

There is an odd kind of disconnect in the argument that allowing guns on college campuses will reduce rates of sexual violence. As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, several states have introduced measures to legalize firearms on campus. And many conservative lawmakers, perhaps spotting an opportunity in current debates about college sexual assault, have claimed that such a policy amounts to rape prevention.

Lawmakers in 10 states have introduced so-called campus carry bills, though some have made their claims about sexual assault and safety more explicit than others. As a sponsor of a Nevada bill allowing students to carry firearms, Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore told the Times, “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” (…)

It remains unclear how much data, or, frankly, how many dead women, will be required before gun advocates accept this basic fact. In domestic violence incidents, a gun increases the risk of homicide by a staggering 500 percent. A 1998 study on women and self-defense found that for every time a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate partner in self-defense, 83 women were murdered with a handgun by their intimate partners. And data has consistently shown that the presence of a gun in the home is associated with a higher risk of homicide, suicide and accidental injury and death.

Fiore’s rhetoric in support of the measure also invokes the danger of stranger rape, despite the fact that most campus assaults don’t fit this scenario. But even if we narrow our focus to incidents of sexual violence that involve strangers in the night, given the data on how infrequently women successfully use a gun in self-defense, such a measure still offers very little in the way of safety for victims. Instead, by introducing guns into an ostensibly gun-free zone, Fiore is arming the very men she claims would be frightened by such a measure.

And now rape survivors themselves are protesting the gun lobby’s use of their plight to pass guns on campus bills. From the linked article:

“If my rapist had a gun at school, I have no doubt I would be dead,” Lauren Gambill, one of the activists working with Know Your IX, wrote in a recent petition aimed at the politicians currently debating proposed campus carry bills. “That’s why I started this petition asking legislators in these states not to allow guns on campuses and put survivors like me in even more danger.”
A different petition from the two groups asks supporters to “tell lawmakers to apologize for blaming victims of sexual assault, and to stop exploiting campus sexual assault to push the gun lobby’s agenda.”
From what we know about the way sexual assault operates on college campuses, adding guns to the mix doesn’t make much sense. Most sexual violence between students takes place under the influence of alcohol among people who already know each other. It’s not clear that college women will actually feel comfortable wielding a firearm against one of their friends.

When the “guys with the guns” get to make the rules about guns and gun safety reform in America, the facts about women and children being killed by guns get lost or are denied. Let’s look at the video, again, of the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre making his claim about the Founding Fathers and guys with guns:

Most of the gun owners in America are guys. Most of our politicians are guys. We need to take a new look at the role of guns and gun violence in our country from a different perspective than that of the corporate gun lobby. The Board of Directors of the NRA, for example, consists of these guys. Is there a coincidence between these glaring facts and the disdain exhibited by the mostly male dominated gun rights community towards organizations like Moms Demand Action for Gunsense, the Million Mom March/Brady Campaign Chapters and other organizations whose volunteers and leaders are mostly women? I think not. Rude, offensive and threatening comments are made daily towards the women in these groups. I have been on the receiving end of many of them. When we testify at hearings on gun bills, for example, we are called hysterical and fear mongering. We don’t know what we are saying. Of course, it is often women who testify for common sense. And the mostly men on the other side presume that they know a lot more than we do and love to tell us so.

I am only reporting the facts and making some conclusions based on the facts and observations of reality. You can make your own but the evidence shows that arguments between 2 guys more often end in shootings. Domestic arguments most often end with a woman being injured or killed by men with guns. Women are typically not “accidentally” shooting themselves in the numbers that men do. Women are most often raped by men. But women are also, as I’ve pointed out, less safe with guns.

Arguments over a Bud or a Busch should not end with a gunshot. Carrying guns should not end with private parts being shot.