Carnage in Minnesota

Bloodshed Word Represents Wordclouds Bloodletting And FightingThis past week-end was a stunning example of our urban gun violence epidemic. It happened in Minneapolis and St. Paul where 17 people were shot and 2 of them died of their gunshot injuries.:

 

 

So far this year, 229 people have been struck by gunfire citywide — roughly 21 percent fewer than this time last year — most on the North Side. If the pace continues, Minneapolis will log 283 shootings this year.

Many of the assaults have been attributed to gang disputes.

In 2016, Minneapolis had 341 gunshot victims, after averaging 243 per year over the previous decade, according to department figures. The number of juvenile gunshot victims has also risen in each of the past five years. Four of the 14 people shot in Minneapolis last week were 18 or younger.

Meanwhile, on a national level shootings continue unabated. Check out the Gun Violence Archive’s latest information.

2545 Americans have been shot since the Las Vegas massacre according to the Gun Violence Archive.

As with other causes of death, injury or illness, we must deal with the evidence and the facts in order to understand what is happening. In Minnesota the facts are that urban gun violence is killing and injuring too many people.

Sigh.

772 have been killed.

Sigh.

Why does this carnage not get the attention it deserves? Simple- the NRA and corporate gun lobby are extremist organizations that have a hold on our country and our leaders. Why in the world our leaders are afraid of a distinct minority of Americans is not a puzzle. Follow the money. Follow the influence.

But the puzzle is solvable.

Corporations, including that of the corporate gun lobby, are in control of our Democracy. They are eroding our freedoms, our dignity, our rights to be safe and to solve the most important problems facing us as a country. As long as we continue to elect people who are beholden to these minority interests, we will contribute to the demise of the country our founders envisioned.

And those very people who are beholden and who influence our leaders blame everything on gangs. Yes, gangs are responsible for much of our urban gun violence. And black men account for 50% of homicide victims according to this 2015 report from The Trace. I recommend reading the linked article for other statistics about gun violence in the year 2015 since it addresses the issues I have mentioned as concerns and puzzles that we can solve if we make some new laws, improve old laws and change the culture and the conversation around gun violence in America.

But to just cast blame and then claim that their lives don’t matter is cynical and mean. Much of the urban gun violence is due to gang activity. It is among people who know each other for the most part except when an innocent person gets caught in the crossfire like the Birdell Beeks whose daughter I have come to know.

Domestic violence is also in urban areas as are suicides. Children find guns they shouldn’t find in urban areas as well as rural areas.

The bottom line is the easy access to guns. That we can change by changing the conversation, getting involved with efforts to intervene in urban areas by offering services that will help our youth get out of poverty, make sure they have access to health care, education and other basic needs and to interrupt the cycle of violence.

And we can pass stronger laws to make sure all gun sales have a background check, to strengthen straw purchasing, stolen guns and trafficking laws and Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

Finally we can and should elect politicians who actually care about public safety and saving lives lost to gun violence. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an American public health epidemic being ignored by our leaders.

Make the gun issue one of your issues. Demand answers from candidates about what they will do to prevent some of the gun violence in America. Don’t let them hide behind the second amendment. This is not about the second amendment and gun rights. This is about the rights of Americans to live free of insidious and devastating gun violence that affects dozens of families every day and it comes as a total shock.

After the Las Vegas shooting it should be a no brainer to do something about the carnage. If candidates avoid the issue, you will have your answer. Vote for the other person or persist in asking the question. What will he/she do about urban gun violence? What will he/she do about gun suicides? What will he/she do about small children getting access to guns and shooting themselves or others? What will he/she do about stolen guns that contribute to crimes and violence? What will he/she do about easy access to guns on our streets? What will he/she do about assault weapons? What will he/she do about high capacity magazines and accessories like silencers and bump fire stocks?

And then expect answers.

Gun violence is destructive to families and communities. People should be able to sit in their cars, walk in the streets, go to work and school, play on playgrounds, go to public places and be in their homes without encountering bullets.

It wouldn’t take too much common sense to change things. The current atmosphere, however, is far from common sense.

As a country, we are better than this.

 

 

 

Halloween frights, elections and violence

skullHalloween is upon us. And it’s scary out there. In a few days, kids will be going door to door and hoping for lots of candy in their bags. Older kids like to scare people with their costumes and haunted houses and other haunted things are scaring people. This “older kid” was asked to remove his mask of a face with President Obama with a noose around his neck.He was attending a football game at the University of Wisconsin. Not funny. Scary and intimidating. We know what he meant.

Last night we were at a movie theater which is near a haunted ore boat that dresses up every year with all kinds of haunting music and displays of “brains”, “eyeballs” and other such scares inside. It is very popular with residents and visitors alike.

I am not so scared of things like that though I don’t particularly enjoy these kind of displays. I’m afraid of some of my fellow Americans. It’s just not funny or clever when hateful people display inappropriate halloween displays that mean something other than they look. Or maybe they do look exactly as intended.  A Florida resident got himself into some trouble by hanging 2 dummies from a tree:

There needs to be a hell of a lot of hate in your heart to think lynching people on Halloween is funny. And yet, here we are, Miami. A homeowner in Three Lakes, a small community in suburban Kendall, is celebrating the holiday by lynching two black-looking dummies in his or her yard. It’s also impossible to ignore what’s just in front of the display on the same lawn: A “Trump/Pence 2016” sign.

The Trump sign just seems to go with the display doesn’t it? Donald Trump is one scary man whose frightening rhetoric has reduced our election to its’ lowest point in decades.

I think it’s safe to say that this has been one of the craziest and mind blowing elections in modern memory. With 10 days to go, “bombs” are exploding all over the place with misinformation and total melt-down of some in the media and most on the Republican side of the aisle over a report issued by FBI Director James Comey.  Reasonable people can argue about this but there are also facts. The scary thing is that Trump and his GOP buddies are distorting it out of all proportion and as we learn more we learn how wrong they have been. It’s downright scary that a lie can travel this quickly and that this late election cycle report happened in the first place.

But there are a lot more scary things going on this election season.

Trump says the election will be rigged with no evidence to support the allegations. This has led to some of his supporters believing they can resort to violence if their candidate doesn’t win. Or, as an aside, actual voter fraud by Trump supporters. An Iowa Republican voter tried to vote twice, fearing that her first vote would not be counted. She was arrested for fraud. Now that is a rigged election.

But back to the potential for violence in this election. Some Americans are talking about taking up arms on election day and the day after they will start the revolution. And with so many militia and other hate groups already formed, that is certainly a possibility.

Americans in general are heavily armed with some owning arsenals:

Overall, Americans own an estimated 265 million guns – more than one gun for every American adult, according to the study by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities. Half of those guns – 133 million – were in the hands of just 3% of American adults, so-called “super owners” who possessed an average of 17 guns each, it showed.

It is not difficult to imagine that those with hyped up fear of their own government are ready to fight against it or start a revolution when they don’t believe in the results of a democratic election. The corporate gun lobby has promoted this kind of fear and paranoia for years. And, militia groups and hate groups are at an all time high.

 

Former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh, not known for his subtlety or  common sense, said this past week that he would be taking up his musket the day after the election if Hillary Clinton wins. He tried to excuse his hyperbolic and threatening comments by saying this:

The former Illinois congressman said he’s used the phrase “grab your musket” multiple times over the past several years but never meant that Donald Trump supporters should literally reach for their firearms.
“If I wanted people to take up arms, why would I recommend people take up an antique like a musket?” Walsh asked. “That’s just silly.”
We know what he meant. It was a not so subtle suggestion that he would take up arms and that he wanted others to do the same. There are no excuses for this kind of talk during an election. I wonder how closely he will be watched by law enforcement authorities? I’m just saying.

I’m pretty sure this kind of public talk about violence and taking up arms during and after a democratic American election is not a first but its’ frequency and boldness is. And it has never been promoted by a major party candidate for President before. But Trump is no ordinary candidate.

Which came first, Donald Trump’s paranoid and frightening rhetoric or the rhetoric of his supporters, some of them white supremacists and racists?   What we are now seeing is encouragement of these types of groups and sentiments rising to the surface. It’s an ugly side of America that has the rest of the world worried. Other countries have seen the result of these kind of dangerous despots and “patriots”.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, militia and insurrectionist groups are on the rise. Check out the hate map on their site. 894 hate groups are living amongst us. Just last week I came across this article about a group of folks fomenting fear and possible violence in my own state of Minnesota:

“Are you prepared?” Guandolo called out. “Are you prepared for the two or three dozen jihadis in, pick a city in Minnesota, with mortars or shoulder-fired rockets? You don’t think they can get those in the United States?”

North and central Minnesota have become fertile ground for traveling speakers who have built national careers spreading alarm about the danger they say Islam poses inside U.S. borders. At dozens of rural churches and schools, speakers have warned crowds about refugees and called on them to be prepared to oppose Muslims in Minnesota. This comes at a time of mounting political tension over immigration ahead of the contentious presidential election.

Thanks to Donald Trump, the anti-Muslim fear has risen to the surface and been exaggerated to the point of possible violence.  And more, from the article:

“Islam is not a religion,” he said, highlighting one of his frequent talking points. “It’s a savage cult. Therefore, it is unconstitutional for a Muslim to practice Islam in America.”

Dakdok argues for the mass deportation of Muslims from the United States. He wears a Donald Trump pin on his suit jacket. He warns of the end times.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Guandolo often works with ACT!, which they call the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.

Dakdok holds the bulk of his Minnesota events in small northern towns — places with few, if any Muslims. So does Guandolo, and he said that’s intentional. The Twin Cities, he told the Warroad crowd, are overrun with Muslims.

Where is common sense? Why do Americans believe such hyperbole and fear? Without proselytizers like Trump and Dakdok, this would not bubble to the surface but be held at bey by those with integrity and the best interests of our democracy in their hearts and minds. But when hatred and venom against and fear of someone who could become the first  woman President in a free and fair election take over hearts and minds, this is what some believe is justified. From the linked article by above: by Bill Moyers:

A Democrat running for president is going to be smeared by the Republicans. This goes without saying. But a Democratic woman running for president gets extra layers of smear, though the smear required new material to work with. Clinton could still be viewedfavorably when she ran for the presidential nomination in 2007-08 — consistent, overall, with how she was viewed during the more than two decades between 1992 and 2014. Benghazi and emails were not yet in the picture. Now, should Clinton get to the White House, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) will be ready: He’s sharpening his pencils and knives, planning “years” of hearings on Clinton depredations. (…)  So much for the traditional political niceties. I suppose it’s remotely possible that a male potential president would be treated this way — but none has been. Ever.

Moyers is right. No male candidate has been treated to the abuse that Hillary Clinton has endured. President Obama was certainly treated to racism and a fear of our first Black President in addition to the decision by Republican leadership to refuse to work with him. We will look back on this time period in our history and hang our heads in shame.

Its no secret that I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton. I agree with her policy statements and her embrace of the gun violence issue to represent the majority of Americans who want stronger gun laws. I find what is happening now about Wikileaks and James Comey’s letter to Congress to be frightening for our democracy. This Washington Post article gets to the core of why the email “scandal” should be an eye opener to all of us and not because of anything Hillary did wrong but because of an invasion of privacy that could affect all of us. From the article:

A question we need to ask is why the leaked emails have been embraced as acceptable contributions to public discourse, rather than shunned as stolen property, and what this means for how we think about politics and privacy. Richard Nixon faced impeachment as a result of his coverup of the Watergate break-in, a parallel attempt to steal private communications from an opponent’s campaign. Somehow, a physical break-in sparks visceral repugnance in a way that hacking into computer accounts does not. That should give us all pause, because it is a testament to a frightening new reality: That communication technology has steadily amplified the breakdown in the line between public and private. Without a zone of privacy in which we can talk freely to those who are close to us, no one is safe. That’s the sense in which WikiLeaks is a threat not only to the presidential campaign of a particular candidate, but to us all.

I get this one. My computer has been hacked and there are people in the gun rights community who hate what I write and stand for. Some years ago, one of them threatened to post my home address. Someone tried to take over my blog as well. And I have been on the receiving end of some not so subtle comments intimating violence and threats. Many people working on gun violence prevention have had this experience. Why? Take a guess. This kind of invasion of privacy and intimidation is scary. There are actual trolls out there waiting to do harm and not just on Halloween.

Social media has made all of this even scarier. There are obvious benefits to the use of social media and email to organize people and voters. But when it is used to intimidate and interfere with free and fair elections, that is scary.

And speaking of scary, some elementary school polling places have canceled classes on election day because of fear of violence and whatever the far right element of our country have in mind for the day. Our kids and teachers should not have to be scared on election day. That is for third world un-democratized countries.

And speaking of third world countries, some Americans have given notice that the revolution will begin if the vastly under qualified Donald Trump does not win. You can’t make this stuff up. But here, from the above linked article:

Jared Halbrook, 25, of Green Bay, Wis., said that if Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, which he worried would happen through a stolen election, it could lead to “another Revolutionary War.”

“People are going to march on the capitols,” said Mr. Halbrook, who works at a call center. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there.”

“If push comes to shove,” he added, and Mrs. Clinton “has to go by any means necessary, it will be done.” (…)

 

No question about what Mr. Halbrook means here. These are the guys with the guns talking  big and making threats. Their fear and paranoia, stoked by the NRA and the corporate gun lobby and now their very own candidate Donald Trump, have taken over any reasonable thinking about the issues of the country and what democracy means. It’s frightening stuff at the least.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We are a democracy. Power is passed from one party and one President to another without violence or threats of violence. It has been since the birth of our democracy. What makes the people whose thoughts are so contorted believe that democracy includes this kind of violence? What makes them believe that our democratic election will be rigged causing them to want to overthrow the results? We know the answer to that. Donald Trump. His suggestions about voter intimidation and suppression have now been legally challenged by the Democratic National Committee.  This is not what we do in a democracy. Why do they believe they can get away with this?

Arrogance? Fear? Ignorance? Paranoia? Desperation?

On this Halloween eve, let us all hope for non-violence and common sense. Working together towards peaceful and reasonable solutions is the way to solve our nation’s most pressing problems. We have been treated to some pretty scary tricks during this election season. Violent solutions would be frightening to say the least.

We are better than this.

This election can’t be over soon enough. But even after it is over, I am scared that threats against our first woman President and total obstruction to her agenda will lead to an inability to work together and make our country worse.

I want my country back.

After publishing this post, I ran across this amazing song written by Sara Barreilles and Leslie Odom, Jr. for This American Life. Please watch and listen:

Trump vs. violence

violent manCan we talk more about Donald Trump, guns and violence? Trump has already predicted riots if he does not become the Republican nominee this summer. The last time I checked, America is not a country where elections are decided by violence. This bravado and threatening rhetoric is dangerous and I am not the only one who has noticed. Republicans themselves are speaking out against the way Trump is ramping up violence at rallies and at election time. No less than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken with Trump about the violent talk:

The Hill reported Monday that McConnell called on Trump to condemn the violence that has erupted when protesters attend his rallies.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Republican front-runner Donald Trump to speak out against the violence that has followed him from rally to rally around the country.

Trump has blamed supporters of Democrat Bernie Sanders for the violence.

“I mentioned to him that I thought it would be a good idea for him no matter who starts these violent episodes to condemn it,” McConnell said, according to the Hill.

Never mind. Donald Trump has not taken any responsibility for what is happening at his rallies or his own talk about riots and violence.

A right wing conservative author has threatened folks who are anti-Trump saying his “side” has guns:

On March 16, conservative author Mathew Vadum took to Twitter, and threatened MoveOn.org saying, “Note to MoveOn anti-free speech thugs: Our side has guns, tens of millions of them. Behave yourselves. #tcot.”

Hmmm. Behave yourselves. I suppose he believes that his side, the one with the guns, doesn’t have to behave themselves? So to be clear, armed Americans who make threats like this in a democratic election are threatening democracy itself. They must believe that their rights trump everything else. Be careful out there.

In this article, one of a series for the Washington Post, voters are interviewed about their support for candidates. One man revealed his views on guns and the second amendment which seem to fit with what candidate Trump is ramping up in his own remarks. From the article:

There were swells of buttons on the coats of people all around him: “Bomb the S— Out of Isis,” “Hot Chicks for Trump,” “Hillary for Prison in 2016.” Alexander’s political interests came to him late. His mother told him that all politicians were liars. He had voted once before, for Obama in 2008, but quickly grew to regret it, thinking that Obama had gone too far in seeking gun control. Opposing gun control became Alexander’s first cause. He bought two handguns and an AR-15. He became so obsessed with Second Amendment rights that at one point he drew up a banner and stood on a Highway 20 overpass with it: IMPEACH OBAMA. Then he started listening to his boss and mentor, Rep. Rod Blum, a local congressman, who told him he had to become more reasoned in his political actions.

Reasoned? Do you think? Is this who we are as a nation? I ran across this article that suggests that it is:

I do not mean to suggest that the depiction of violence should not exist in dramas high and low. Violence is an unfortunate fact of life nearly everywhere—but in America it is virtually worshipped. Many of our highest-grossing movies drip with blood. And let’s not even get started on the video games.

Donald Trump, showman that he is, instinctually knows all this. It is a fact inescapable to anyone who watches television ratings as closely as does the likely Republican standard-bearer. (…) With the Trump candidacy, violence is not merely the outcome of a toxic campaign; it’s the show, it’s the game. A feature, not a bug. And a savvy, cynical calculation of the kind of show that turns America on.

Wow. What kind of country are we or do we want to be? We do know that America leads the world in gun deaths per capita and also with the most guns per capita. That should not be something of which to be proud. A minority of Americans subscribe to the views of the corporate gun lobby and manage to grab the headlines to strike fear into the hearts and minds of those who believe them. And some elected leaders not only back away from this powerful lobby but they, themselves, espouse these same views. Over the past 30 years or so, rather than doing the common sense thing to prevent at least some of the lives taken by firearms, we have managed to loosen the laws and change the culture so that now people are carrying loaded guns around in public places and able to stand their ground when they shoot someone perceived to be a danger. We have a violent culture.

Everything we do seems to go back to those inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.… er uh…. God given right to bear arms. Those rights are touted to stop any number of reasonable things in our country. No matter what, the gun lobby gets its’ nose under the tent. Now it’s Supreme Court nominees. Apparently President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia is a gun grabber. Of course. Let’s look at this article from The Trace:

But until very recently, the kind of broadside attack the group launched on Wednesday against Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, simply wouldn’t have happened. That’s because the NRA respected the longstanding tradition that allowed Senators to “advise and consent” on judicial picks without fear of retribution.

There was also this fact: Judges can be particularly difficult to assess, because some never even hear a major gun case, or their involvement in such cases hardly illuminates their judicial opinion on the scope of the Second Amendment.  (…)

Now the NRA says Garland, Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia, does not “respect the individual right to bear arms.” In 2007, Garland, who is viewed as a political moderate, cast a vote in favor of allowing his court to review a crucial opinion by a three-judge panel that had found D.C.’s handgun ban unconstitutional.

Once again, the NRA appears to have overreached. Most legal experts say Garland was not explicitly suggesting he disagreed with the decision to overturn the ban, but rather acknowledging that it broke with longstanding judicial precedent, and therefore merited greater scrutiny.

If Merrick ever appears before the U.S. Senate — itself a question very much in doubt — his record on guns is sure to be at the center of the proceedings. The question is: Which narrative will take hold?

If you do anything that smacks of common sense in the interest of public health and safety the “gun grabber” label is attached and, unfortunately for us, it seems to stick. We must be better than this.

And so, guns and violence are a part of our election talk for 2016. In response to Donald Trump’s statement that he could shoot people on 5th Avenue and still not lose voters, supporters of the Brady Campaign held a protest outside of Trump Tower in New York City.:

Similar to his Republican competitors, Trump touts his support for the Second Amendment and promises to veto President Obama’s recent executive actions on gun control, if he is elected into office on November 8. Among his gun beliefs, Trump thinks arming more Americans with firearms could prevent mass shootings. He is a proud member of the National Rifle Association and publicly has said he owns both a gun and a concealed-carry permit. At the October 28 GOP debate, the billionaire said he carries a gun in New York “sometimes a lot” to be “unpredictable.”

“Trump’s rhetoric and positions on gun violence prevention are deeply troubling,” said Brady Campaign President Dan Gross. “They’re dangerous, misinformed and vile to their core.” The Brady Campaign, which works to expand federal background checks to all firearms sales, has endorsed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for president.

It’s true. 90 Americans a day die from firearms injuries. That is what Donald Trump should be concerned about.  More from one of the protesters:

Coney Cinco, of Brooklyn, says she hadn’t demonstrated prior to Wednesday, but joined to help spread the Brady Campaign’s message.

“Thinking he can shoot anybody without repercussions, it’s scary. That could be me he shoots at,” she says.

Robin Frank, of New York City, also participated and says “enough is enough.” “The violent rhetoric of his campaign is abhorrent. We can’t have a man running for president who speaks so glibly about shooting people in the street,” she says. “I’m just sick of hearing all of the violent rhetoric from his campaign. It’s frightening.”

Frightening indeed.

I am adding to this post to include some photos of the protest/”die-in” in front of Trump Towers courtesy of (and with permission of) photographer Joe Quint:

Brady protest

die-in

This is what should be frightening.

On Tuesday night, after the Illinois polls closed a thunder storm hit Chicago. Lightning struck the Trump Tower building. Poetic justice?  One is more likely to be shot than be hit by lightning. 

#Enough #EnoughTrump

Time to talk about domestic abusers and guns

domestic abuseYesterday, something happened in the Supreme Court chambers that had not happened in 10 years. Justice Clarence Thomas spoke. The case before the Court involved 2 men who had been charged with domestic violence misdemeanors and their gun rights. From the article:

“Can you give me another area [of law] where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?” Thomas asked Eisenstein, who was arguing that a federal ban on gun ownership for people who are convicted of low-level domestic violence offenses at the state level should apply if the offense was committed “recklessly.”

A strange silence fell over the courtroom. For what seemed like five minutes straight, and in the course of no less than 10 questions, Thomas really wanted to get to the bottom of whether the federal gun prohibition for domestic violence violators — known as the Lautenberg Amendment — infringed on a fundamental right.

He wanted to know “how long” the suspension of Second Amendment rights was for people prohibited under federal law to possess firearms, and he pressed Eisenstein to name any other legal analog where the federal government could permanently curtail constitutional rights following a conviction for an unrelated offense.

In this case, the idea of whether someone who is prohibited from having a gun because prior domestic abuse charges, can get their gun rights back. Let’s take a look:

If the court sides with the two men, it’s possible that only some types of domestic violence convictions would result in abusers losing their gun rights.

That would be a dangerous scenario, according to the many anti-violence organizations that filed friend-of-the-court briefs. Research shows that if an abuser has access to a gun, victims are five times more likely to be killed. A recent Associated Press analysis found that an average of 760 Americans were killed with guns annually by intimate partners, though that is likely an undercount. More than 80 percent of the victims were women.

It also appears to go against the spirit of the Lautenberg Amendment, which was enacted to make sure that all domestic abusers — whether convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — can’t own guns.

In real life, domestic abusers accused of a misdemeanor or felony, can’t buy or own guns. There is a reason for that, as explained above. But more, just last week, one of the 4 mass shootings (Kansas) that happened in our country was due to a domestic abuser who gained access to guns he should not have had and could not legally have.:

The suspect in the Hesston, Kansas, shooting rampage amassed an extensive criminal record that prohibited him from legally owning or purchasing a gun. Cedric Ford, 38, had felony convictions in his home state of Florida for dealing cocaine, as well as burglary, grand theft, and illegal possession of a gun by a felon. Any of these convictions would have blocked him from passing a background check.

We have lax gun laws in our country that make it easy for people like this shooter to get guns from other than licensed dealers where they would be prohibited. So how did this guy manage to get his guns? An order for protection had been filed against him hours before he went on a shooting rampage:

On Thursday, at 3:30 p.m., less than two hours before the killing began, the Harvey County sheriff’s office located Ford at the Excel plant and served him with a temporary protection from abuse order. The petition, first obtained by the Wichita Eagle, had been filed on February 5 by Ford’s girlfriend, with whom he shared a home. On that day, according to her, the two had been “verbally fighting,” before it “became physical.”

And what’s worse, a former girlfriend, who the shooter had threatened ,gave his guns back to him knowing he was a felon who couldn’t own guns. She has been charged as she should be:

It would have proven difficult for Ford to purchase the firearms on his own, given his criminal record.The Post reports that the two firearms Ford used in the attack—a .223-caliber assault rifle and a pistol—had been given to him by a friend named Sarah Hopkins. Hopkins, 28, told authorities that she and Ford had dated and had been living in nearby Newton up until July, when she moved out. She reportedly returned the guns to Ford after he had threatened her.

Prosecutors have since charged Hopkins with one count of knowingly transferring a firearm to a convicted felon. An affidavit has revealed that Hopkins purchased both firearms: The semiautomatic rifle Zastava Serbia, and a Glock semiautomatic handgun, according to The Post.

She was law abiding until suddenly she wasn’t.

3 people are dead and 6 are left wounded because a man who shouldn’t have had guns got them anyway. An order for protection often makes men like this even more angry so sometimes women are reluctant to file that order out of fear of retribution. Gun rights are so sacred and guns are apparently so necessary to these people that the very idea that they can’t have what they want and “need” is enough to send them on a rampage.

And we have regular rampages in our country because of angry men with guns. Take the one that happened in an Ohio church where the brother of a minister came to church with his gun and shot and killed his own brother. There had been a 5 year long dispute over money and inheritance but no one knows why the man decided to shoot his brother now.

And what does it matter? Another innocent American is dead in a domestic dispute involving 2 brothers. Every day 32 American citizens die from gunshot injuries due to homicide. Many more are suicides. Some are “accidental ” deaths. They add up to 90 a day! Most are avoidable.

Women in America are 11 times more at risk for dying from firearms injuries than in other developed countries. And way too often, domestic shootings involve other innocent people like the one of the other recent mass shootings in the state of Washington leaving 5 dead. And in a week of deadly shootings, a young woman police officer was shot and killed in a domestic dispute in Virginia. Responding to domestic disputes is very dangerous for officers.

So if Justice Thomas truly believes that domestic abusers should get their guns and their gun rights back because….. rights, he is espousing the view of a small group of gun rights extremists who think that anyone and everyone should have guns and gun rights. That kind of thinking is why we have more violent gun deaths than any other democratized countries not at war.

It’s a national tragedy.

In my last post, I wrote about meeting with Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly and having a good discussion about how we can work together for the common good and for common sense to save lives. We can. But we haven’t. I also wrote about the latest series of mass shootings affecting communities all over America. There have been more since.

Last Sunday my community came together in an inspirational and educational afternoon of faith communities and the response of the faith communities to gun violence. We heard the poignant and sad stories of victims- one whose sister was shot 3 times in the back of the head as she was literally trying to go out the door of her marriage. Another, a son who was having some mental problems and “solved” them by buying a gun and shooting himself. A third- a father who spoke of the kidnapping, rape and murder of his (then) 19 year old daughter. I also told my story of a sister shot and killed in an argument during a contentious and protracted divorce.

Faith leaders spoke of why their congregations should be involved from a moral and values perspective. Saving lives and preventing gun violence is about our values as a country. We may have a second amendment and laws, which we also discussed, but we do also have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which is taken from too many.

Deciding what we are going to do about our nation’s public health and safety gun violence epidemic is key to what kind of country we are. We are in the midst of ugly political elections where offensive and ugly remarks are being hurled around like footballs. Some of the hateful rhetoric is downright frightening. Racist and misogynistic comments, anti-immigrant remarks and sentiment, Obama derangement syndrome, name calling and fomenting fear and paranoia with lies is just not who we are. One candidate, namely Donald Trump, is flirting with white supremacist groups and other extremist groups.It promotes the idea of fear of others and the fact that we need to protect ourselves from our friends and neighbors and people who are not “like” them.

I had an opportunity to meet with Chelsea Clinton yesterday. I thanked her mother for raising the issue of gun violence in this Presidential election. It is the first time there has been serious discussion about an important unaddressed issue. Candidates have been afraid to raise it for fear of the opposition. What kind of democracy is it when we are afraid of the single issue lobby corporate gun lobby who bully and threaten candidates with ugly ads and lies about gun confiscation and taking away rights?

There is no reason why Americans should live with violent domestic abuse. It’s time for a change. It’s time to demand that change. It’s past time to do something about the victims and survivors of gun violence. Putting rights before saving lives is inexcusable and shameful.

We are better than this.

Is there a right or reasonable response to terror?

pray for ParisWe all weep for Paris. We all weep for the victims. We can’t avoid the continuous news of the Paris terror attacks. Just like what happened in America on September 11, 2001, we become paralyzed by the news and feel helpless in the face of the horror.

Terror attacks have again frightened and shocked the world. That is what the attackers want. Of course, the ultimate goal is to accomplish a political agenda involving power, control, religious intolerance and ideology, revenge and violence. What is achieved? It’s baffling actually and always has been. What is it about the Western world that so bothers the radicals who want to inflict damage to innocent people? I’m asking because I don’t understand it really and I don’t know if anyone really does.

Sometimes it has been the opposite. The Eastern world has experienced its’ fair share of attacks as well. But then, historically we have all attacked each other everywhere since humans have walked the earth. It defies explanation and yet, somehow we can understand it when we think about human nature and the propensity to violence and to harm others for a cause or a misunderstanding or something else. And we seem to want to resolve our differences with violence rather than peaceful solutions.

Two days ago I wrote my blog post about the Paris attacks. I wrote from own point of view of course from the vantage point of guns and gun violence. And then I read this New York Times editorial written by Frank Bruni about the immediate politicization of the attacks. Bruni is right. Immediately blame is laid at the feet of others and the event is used to further a cause. I’m guilty. I admit it.

Bruni says this, from the article:

Or must we instantly bootstrap obliquely related agendas and utterly unconnected grievances to the carnage in Paris, responding to it with an unsavory opportunism instead of a respectful grief? (…)

That’s how it works in this era of Internet preening, out-of-control partisanship and press-a-button punditry, when anything and everything becomes prompt for a plaint, a rant, a riff.

It all happens in the click of a mouse, its metabolism too furious to allow for decorum or real perspective.

I woke Saturday morning to Paris-pegged commentary about not just gun control and free speech on American campuses but also climate change—yes, climate change—and of course immigration, albeit to the United States, not France.

The editorial ends with these words:

On Saturday morning I read that Paris was going to be good for Republicans. I read that Paris was going to be good for Democrats.

I felt sick. For a few hours, even a few days, I’d like to focus on the pain of Parisians and how that magnificent city reclaims any sense of order, any semblance of safety. I’d like not to wonder if Hillary Clinton’s odds of election just ticked upward or downward or if Donald Trump’s chest-thumping bluster suddenly became more seductive.

I’d like not to be told, fewer than 18 hours after the shots rang out, how they demonstrate that Americans must crack down on illegal immigration to our own country. I read that and was galled, and not because of my feelings about immigration, but because of my feelings about the automatic, indiscriminate politicization of tragedy.

It’s such a disrespectful impulse.

And it’s such an ugly one.

It’s ugly. There are real people who are affected by this terrible tragedy. There are real faces to the carnage. Lives were taken violently and quickly leaving behind the devastation to the families and friends.

One response we don’t want, though, is the response suggested by the far right politicians, candidates and gun extremists. And that is that arming the people of the world will stop terror attacks. An article from the Washington Post highlights why that is a terrible idea:

There is also little evidence that more guns—especially in the possession of regular citizens—would do much to change the outcome when gun-bearing terrorists, bombs strapped to their chests, barrel through concert halls, sporting events, restaurants, and other public spaces.

In the United States, where the National Rifle Association has capitalized on an uptick in mass shootings to argue for putting guns in the hands of as many people as possible, most evidence suggests just the opposite: armed citizenseither don’t try to stop shooters, or fail when they do. Guns have also been shown to lead to more violence. And they’re rarely used in self-defense. (…) In other words, it’s not clear that more people with guns would have done anything other than get themselves killed, too. Especially given the military-grade firearms, like the Kalashnikov automatic rifles that have been flooding the black market in France, and were reportedly used by the terrorists in Friday’s attack.

Can we just finally get this straight? Armed citizens will not stop or prevent terror attacks and/or mass shootings. The evidence points in the opposite direction. But yet, there are foolish people spreading this nonsense around for their own agenda. Of course, arming more people will mean increased gun sales and increased influence of the corporate gun lobby all over the world.

But really, where is common sense?

I write about common sense where it concerns gun violence and gun violence prevention. I write from the perspective of someone whose sister’s life was taken violently and suddenly by bullets. I know how that phone call feels. Life will never be the same for me and for too many.

Life will not be the same in Paris or France or Europe either. But it won’t be permanently ruined. Life will resume, maybe somewhat differently. But we will move on. The U.S. saw many changes to intelligence, travel, security, and yes, even giving up some of our freedoms after 9/11. But we were not destroyed.

Living in the world of terror attacks and every day violence is apparently the new normal. What will our response be?

The bottom line is that we all need to come together to solve the problems before us instead of shouting past each other with our political agendas. Why can’t that happen? I believe it can but the hyper partisanship so on display in our own country of late makes it almost impossible. We are in the “silly season” of a Presidential election. Everything is fodder for both sides to attack the other.

This not the world we deserve or the world we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.

Let’s get to work to solve the serious problems in our own country and the problems of the world around us. We can’t separate them. With instant communication we are all connected to each other. One mother’s grief over the loss of her American daughter in the Paris attacks is also ours. It could be our child next or our sister, brother, father, mother, child. We can’t separate ourselves from the violence.

It’s easier to go about our daily business because thinking about the terror and violence is too awful to contemplate. We might have to think harder or get involved or cry or react in some way. It’s easier not to.

Some people want to pray. Praying is a nice idea but it won’t change anything. Praying for reasonable solutions that will address the violence and the carnage is what we need. Praying for a reasonable response from our leaders and our candidates may help. Making sure talking heads, politicians and candidates engage their minds before speaking would also help.

I don’t know about you but I remember after the 9/11 that it was considered unpatriotic to criticize President Bush or his policies in response to the terror attacks that hit our own country. We rallied around our President- Democrats and Republicans alike. Several years later we learned the truth about some of those policies which did deserve the bipartisan criticism they received. In today’s hyper partisan world the blame is going everywhere and everyone has an opinion- many of them attacking President Obama openly. What happened to getting behind the President and showing our patriotism?

We need to have considerate and reasonable responses to terror attacks. What they are we are still deciding and it will take a while to get it right. Maybe we won’t get it right. But, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman suggests, panic and impulsive responses will just not help:

Finally, terrorism is just one of many dangers in the world, and shouldn’t be allowed to divert our attention from other issues. Sorry, conservatives: when President Obama describes climate change as the greatest threat we face, he’s exactly right. Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization, but global warming could and might.

So what can we say about how to respond to terrorism? Before the atrocities in Paris, the West’s general response involved a mix of policing, precaution, and military action. All involved difficult tradeoffs: surveillance versus privacy, protection versus freedom of movement, denying terrorists safe havens versus the costs and dangers of waging war abroad. And it was always obvious that sometimes a terrorist attack would slip through.

Paris may have changed that calculus a bit, especially when it comes to Europe’s handling of refugees, an agonizing issue that has now gotten even more fraught. And there will have to be a post-mortem on why such an elaborate plot wasn’t spotted. But do you remember all the pronouncements that 9/11 would change everything? Well, it didn’t — and neither will this atrocity.

Nothing to fear but… guns

fearI can tell that the American public has had #enough!.I wrote my blog post the other day about this and it had more views than ever before. I’m sure the gun extremists are checking it out to make sure I’m not saying anything about taking their guns away. That is their unfounded fear.

What the rest of us fear is the proliferation of guns in our communities. After the summer’s series of mass shootings followed by the live shooting of 2 Virginia journalists while on air, the cumulative effect is that the conversation is changing. In the years I have been working on this issue, I have not seen the intensity and the anger that I now see. I have not seen the media paying such close attention and actually beginning to ask some serious questions that need to be asked. They are using the language of common sense as are many of our political leaders.

Some of the leaders in Roseburg, Oregon, home to the latest mass shooting, have made it clear that their pro-gun and conservative views are anathema to any solutions to our nation’s public health and safety epidemic. In fact, the newspaper’s editor asked that President Obama not come to Roseburg, as he has done when other communities have suffered mass tragedies like this one, to comfort the families. The Mayor has now made it clear, under public pressure and the light shed on this dangerous behavior, that the President is welcome in his city.  The sick underbelly of our unhinged gun culture has been exposed with this latest shooting. It’s been there before but this time, it is not being hidden. The press is talking about it.

Southern Oregon is home to many gun extremists, including their own Sheriff Hanlin who is handling the investigation of the shooting in his community. The problem is that he claimed he would not enforce any federal gun laws passed after the Sandy Hook shooting and has also been part of a group of people who have denied that the Sandy Hook shooting took place. As a result, the Brady Campaign has called for his resignation. 

From the article, linked above, about Southern Oregon:

Mr. Obama plans to visit Roseburg on Friday to meet the grieving families of yet another gun rampage, but many people here are bristling at his renewed call for stricter gun laws. In some ways, the rampage at the college by a 26-year-old student, Christopher Harper-Mercer, has actually tightened the embrace of guns in a rural town where shots at rifle ranges echo off the hills and hunters bag deer and elk through the fall.

Some families touched by the violence and students who fled gunfire said they now feared that the kind of bloodshed seen inside Classroom 15 at Snyder Hall, Umpqua Community College, could happen anywhere. Some said they were planning to buy guns. Others said they would seek concealed-weapons permits. Others, echoing gun advocates’ calls for more weapons on campus, said the college should allow its security guard to carry guns. A few said they thought that stricter gun control laws could have averted the massacre.

Gun extremists such as the shooter’s mother who allegedly posted on social media about guns and gun laws and that her son suffered from Asperger’s syndrome- a high functioning form of Autism are part of that culture. It’s hard to imagine that the shooter didn’t absorb this kind of gun culture. It seems to me that this mother should have understood that her son was not able to be responsible with guns.

Seriously- you can’t make this stuff up. These folks think that the President will push a political agenda- something about gun confiscation or actually trying to do something about gun violence. This nonsense about politicizing the issue of gun violence is ludicrous. Of course, the gun lobby NEVER does this, right?

Wrong. The NRA is famous for trotting out their worn our logic after mass shootings and encouraging more guns instead of fewer. What is it about the gun culture in our country when people go out to buy more guns after a heinous mass shooting? It’s inexplicable and concerning.

The gun lobby in the name of the NRA is always politicizing the gun issue. That is all they do. The NRA is mining names for their data base and is sending out almost daily emails to their list invoking fear and paranoia. The problem with this is they get their names from state hunting license lists, gun show attendees, etc. even if people don’t want to be on their list. I have always said that if anyone wanted to confiscate guns all that is needed is hacking into or demanding the NRA’s list of names to find out where the guns are. Wouldn’t that be karma?

And meanwhile, the carnage and nonsense continues. Two open carriers in Portland, after the Umpqua campus shooting, shut down some Portland area schools. From the article:

Grant High School and nearby Beverly Cleary School were temporarily placed on lockdown Tuesday after police received several reports of two men walking in the area with apparent semi-automatic rifles slung across their chests.

What’s the point? Walking around with guns slung around your chest is just a plain bad idea given what is happening all over America. But never mind, gun nuts believe their rights includes this kind of immature and bullying behavior. And doing it right after a mass shooting in your state is totally irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

Moving along, you may remember my post about puppies and guns. Now, an 8 year old Tennessee girl is dead because an 11 year old neighbor boy purposely shot and killed her with a shotgun he found at home:

An 11-year-old boy in the US state of Tennessee has been held on suspicion of shooting dead an eight-year-old girl in a row over a puppy.

The boy has been charged with first-degree murder as a juvenile.

According to police, he shot neighbour McKayla Dyer on Saturday evening after she refused to let him see her puppy.

In another fatal child shooting case, authorities said on Monday that an 11-year-old boy fatally shot his brother while target shooting in Ohio.

The boys were with two adults, who had three loaded guns on a picnic table. The younger boy picked one up and it fired, killing his 12-year-old brother.

Both tragedies happened just days after a mass shooting at a small town college in Oregon in which nine people were killed.

You just can’t make this stuff up. And yes, in the 2nd incident mentioned adults were present. When will gun owners understand that young kids and guns are a bad combination? What are they thinking? Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.

Parents are already fearful about where the next school shooting will happen. It looks like we should be more fearful of young children with guns.

There is a serious disconnect with the desires of the American public to do something to stop this daily carnage and what actually happens in Congress. But the pressure is now on. People Magazine got into it, encouraging the public to call their Congress member and ask them to support measures sitting on their desks to expand Brady background checks to all gun sales. That would be HR 3411 or HR 1217. And then they listed all of the names and contact information for the Congress members to make it very easy to call. I’ve never seen this before but I’m happy to know that those of us working on this issue are not alone.

Gun owners are calling for people like themselves who don’t believe in the gun lobby rhetoric, to form their own group and speak up for common sense. Here is just one of several articles I have read after the Umpqua shooting calling for gun owners to get involved:

Not all gun owners agree with the policies of the National Rifle Association. Hunter — and Oregon resident — Lily Raff thinks she’s precisely the kind of person Obama was addressing.

“I think what he’s calling for is probably for gun owners like me, who support some reasonable gun control, to stand up and say, ‘The NRA doesn’t represent us,’ ” Raff tells NPR’s Michel Martin. “We want something to happen here. We want something to change.”

Raff, author of the memoir Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner, has written about her differences with the NRA. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Raff wrote columns for the New York Times and The Atlanticcalling on fellow hunters to support stricter gun control measures.

“There’s a whole spectrum of gun owners,” she says, “and I think one of the problems that we have as a country is that there is a very, very narrow view of the gun owner that has a voice.”

This is welcome support. We’ve always known of the wide support for background checks and other gun safety reform measures by gun owners and even NRA members. And we’ve also always known that organizations like the NRA represent a small minority of gun owners and an even smaller minority of Americans.

The American tragedy is that they have “gotten away with murder” for too many years. That is figurative but the way things are going, it is becoming literally true.

Change is in the wind. It’s coming. We can and will save lives going forward and make our country safe from the devastation of gun violence that affects far too many families. We are better than this.

Minneapolis shootings highlights access to guns

Basic RGBThe Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote an editorial that appeared in today’s version of the paper. The editorial focused on the latest round of shootings in downtown Minneapolis that left 9 people injured and one dead last week-end. I wrote about this in a previous post. From the editorial piece:

That’s a different kind of crime-fighting challenge, city officials said during a City Council Public Safety Committee this week. And, as one pointed out, combating it involves a strong focus on gun access — using current laws to prevent violent criminals from getting guns, prosecuting them to the maximum when they possess and use guns, and expanding efforts to take more firearms out of circulation.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and downtown police Inspector Mike Kjos said they are looking at additional traffic-flow and business-hour changes, understanding that those strategies only go so far. Therefore, doubling down on access to firearms can make a difference. It’s far too easy for those who intend to inflict harm to get guns. And once caught and convicted on gun charges, too many of them are back on the streets too soon. As Freeman noted, his office, the various law enforcement agencies and downtown stakeholders must continue to work together to bring brazen offenders to justice.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is an answer staring us in the face but our leaders are ignoring it. It’s clear that easy access to guns in our communities is causing senseless shootings and deaths and injuries. There really is no argument about it. Preventing easy access to guns has to be a solution. In an interesting article that came to may attention, Chicago criminals serving time were asked where they got their crime guns. From the article:

A survey of inmates in Chicago suggests most criminals don’t steal guns. Instead they get them from family or people they know.

“There are a number of myths about how criminals get their guns, such as most of them are stolen or come from dirty dealers. We didn’t find that to be the case,” says Philip J. Cook, a professor of public policy, economics and sociology at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

What the study found is that at least these criminals got their guns from their friends. (Where did their friends get their guns?) They didn’t try to buy them from a gun dealer. Why? They would likely not pass a background check and would be turned away. They didn’t steal them, though many crime guns do come from thefts of guns of law abiding gun owners. Though some of the guns come from straw purchases, many of the guns in the Chicago area came from out of state from someone who was able to get guns and bring them in to sell on the street. More from this article:

“This research demonstrates that current federal and local regulations are having a big effect on the availability of guns to criminals in Chicago,” he adds. “They can’t buy their guns from stores, the way most people do, and are instead largely constrained to making private deals with acquaintances, who may or may not be willing and able to provide what they want.

“Other studies we have done have found that in many cases criminals go without guns because they don’t know how to get one. We conclude that current enforcement is somewhat effective, and devoting more resources to enforcement would further constrain gun access by dangerous people.”

There’s a theme here. When there is easy access to guns for those who shouldn’t have them, shootings will likely happen. Crime will happen. People will die. Our streets will be less safe.

And laws matter. Just as laws matter for speeding, access to tobacco products, drunk driving and other public health and safety matters, gun laws do matter. But we need to expand the laws we have to include requiring background checks on ALL gun sales. Why wouldn’t we? Speeding laws include everyone. No one is immune. Everyone is required to wear a seatbelt. Access to tobacco products includes everyone. No one is excluded. Safety laws for baby cribs don’t exclude certain companies. Everyone has to go through the TSA screening before boarding a plane. No one is excluded. There is not a separate line for some people. All medicine containers now have safety caps that make it hard for kids to open. Even adults have problems opening these bottles.  Not one is exempt. All are included. If people or companies don’t follow the laws, there are penalties and responsibilities for breaking them.

And sometimes the end result of not following the laws is senseless deaths and injuries. That is why we, as a country, do as much as we can to prevent that from happening. But gun laws are the exception. It’s simply not true that criminals just don’t follow gun laws as a rationale for not bothering to pass any. That is a flawed and false argument.

It’s way past time to address the problem of easy access to guns. It takes the shooting of 10 people in one night in downtown Minneapolis for the public’s and law enforcement’s attention to focus on the problem of guns. There are other things that contribute to the problem. But the guns must be addressed. It’s the only common sense argument.

We can do much better than this if we focus on the real problem and not let the gun lobby distract us or scare us into thinking that guns are not the problem. They certainly are. At the national level we can Finish the Job started when the Brady law was passed and expand background checks to all sales. We can, if we have the will, require reporting of lost and stolen guns. We can strengthen straw purchasing and gun trafficking laws. We can make sure people who are a danger to themselves or others don’t have guns. Some states have passed laws to do just that. (California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order) We can remove guns from domestic abusers. Some states, including Minnesota, have done just that. We can hold bad apple gun dealers accountable. (The Brady Campaign is working on that) Revoking state pre-emption laws that keep cities from passing strong gun laws would help with easy access to guns in, especially, large urban cities. From the linked article from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:

At the urging of the gun lobby, however, most states have explicitly removed authority from local governments to regulate guns and ammunition, thereby creating a dangerous exception to the traditional rule of local authority.

State preemption statutes threaten public safety because they prevent local governments from implementing customized solutions to gun violence in their communities and impede their ability to fill regulatory gaps created by inaction at the state and federal level.  Moreover, by mandating a one-size-fits-all approach to firearms regulation, preemption statutes deprive the public of a critical problem-solving resource:  local innovation.

The gun lobby has managed to stop local communities from exercising local control- something they like for anything else ( as mostly conservatives). But when it comes to guns, not so much.

We can, as the article about where criminals get their guns, make sure young people in affected communities of color have more to do than wander our streets with guns.

In other words, we can do this. It is beyond unreasonable and ludicrous that we haven’t already tried to stop at least some of the 33,000 gun deaths a year in America.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a statement after one of his staffers died from gunshot injuries sustained in a random shooting on the streets of New York:

“This is not any Second Amendment fight, it’s not for the soul of the country,” Cuomo said. “That’s a lot of baloney. Nobody’s trying to take anybody’s gun. I am a gun owner. I have been a gun owner. I’m not anti-gun. I’m anti-gun for mentally ill people. I’m anti-gun for criminals.” (…)

Cuomo called on federal elected officials to summon the “guts and courage” to pass strict laws on the national level because of the guns that have flooded into New York from other states.

“The federal officials in my opinion are afraid of the political downside,” he said.

And he acknowledged he took a hit in popularity for the SAFE Act, passed in the wake of an elementary school shooting in Connecticut. The measure has angered gun-rights supporters and Republicans, especially upstate, and Cuomo’s popularity there has struggled to rebound.

“I paid the price. When I passed the law in New York, the people who were against any gun control got very, very angry at me and the don’t like me and they don’t vote for me,” Cuomo said. “I understand that. But, I was elected to do the right thing. The right thing is this nation needs a federal gun control policy.”

Thank you to Governor Cuomo for doing and saying the right thing. He does have the political courage to do the right thing in the face of strong resistance. That is what it will take in order to save lives. He gets it. Too many of our elected leaders don’t or won’t.

Shame on them all.

Strong laws, community responses to this concerning epidemic, public education and awareness about the risks of guns, enforcing the laws already on the books( which doesn’t preclude passing new ones), holding gun owners responsible for their own behavior, and many other measures, can make a difference. They have already made a difference in the states that have taken action and passes strong gun laws. The evidence is already in front of us.

Do we want to make a difference and make change happen? Or do we want to just have the status quo and let the corporate gun lobby be the deciding group in these important decisions? Do we want our elected leaders to listen to the majority of us who are concerned about our national public health and safety epidemic or will we let them get away with publicly announcing their adherence to the gun lobby’s view of the second amendment?

It’s time to do something and stand with the families of the 33,ooo victims of gunshot injuries. Who are we as a country if we fail our children and our communities in such a tragic way? We need to do #WhatEverItTakes.