Time for questions

3d person decide problemI have some questions. We have some questions. This article was posted right after Thanksgiving wondering about a lunatic tweet with a photo of a Glock in a pumpkin pie posted by a gun lover. Lots of questions were asked but I just picked out these:

8. Is a good pie with a gun the only way to stop a bad pie?

9. Who at the Glock corporation comprehended and approved of this and what state of mind were they in? Related: Who gets a job in social media at Glock?

10. Is the Glock corporation endorsing its products being used in baking, here?

11. What sort of statement, if any, is this pie trying to make? What does the Glock corporation imagine it says about its brand?

Good questions.

Also, where were all of those law abiding gun owners when bullets started flying at 4 different malls on Black Friday? Would the results have been different if someone with a gun got involved to save the day?  In fact, some of those shooting the bullets were ostensibly “law abiding” gun owners. Why does this keep happening? It wasn’t happening like this a few decades ago. But then the gun lobby decided that sales of guns needed to be boosted in order for the industry to stay in business and profit. When sales fell due to declining interest in hunting sports, they got busy and convinced lapdog politicians to do their bidding in state after state. The result?

….laws that allow people to carry guns into almost all of our public places and sometimes without even as much as one familiarity with a deadly weapon or any permitting to make sure the carrier isn’t a felon or domestic abuser or someone else who shouldn’t be allowed to own, let alone carry a deadly weapon around.

One more mass shooting happened in New Orleans leaving one dead and nine injured:

Two men were arrested at the scene on gun possession charges, including one man who was wounded in the shooting. The second arrested man “perhaps may or may not be affiliated with this event,” Harrison said.

If people were armed and not involved as a shooter, why didn’t they save everyone else? One of them was injured in spite of being armed. More information will let us know if these armed folks were “law abiding” gun carriers carrying their guns for self protection.

And just today, an incident at Ohio State University, at first reported as a campus shooting, turned out to be some sort of alleged planned attack. There were knives and a car involved. Gunshots were reported heard on campus which, as it turns out, were likely law enforcement responding to the incident and shooting the attacker. Law enforcement responded quickly with their guns to handle the situation. No armed students needed.

But when shots are heard on American college campuses it is assumed that there is a student with a gun determined to shoot up people on campus because that is how we roll in America. Of course an alert was issued about a mass shooter letting students know that the campus was on lock-down. Of course it was.

But this week there will be hearings in the Ohio legislature to allow students to carry loaded guns around on campus. Why? Because the gun lobby has convinced some that an armed society is a polite society and more guns will make us safer. Why? To increase gun sales, of course.

And I am guessing, the gun lobby will deceptively pronounce that if only students had been allowed to carry guns at Ohio State, someone would have been in exactly the right place at the right time to stop the incident. Why is it assumed that a student would know exactly what to do when law enforcement was already at the scene to take care of the incident? And why wouldn’t law enforcement believe that another armed student would be a suspect?

Ohio Ceasefire has this to say about the bill:

This proposed expansion of hidden, loaded weapons will do nothing to improve Ohioan’s safety or reduce gun violence, and will only serve to further normalize the presence of weapons in public spaces, furthering the interests of individuals and companies who profit from the sale of these dangerous weapons.

Only in America.

And then there is the notion that military assault style weapons like AR-15s are good to have around the house for self protection. Instead, this happened in Proctor, Minnesota near to my home town:

A 40-year-old man is in custody after allegedly firing shots from a rifle during a domestic dispute Saturday evening in Proctor, according to the Proctor Police Department.

Sigh.

One more question ( for now)- why are there a regular number of “accidental” gun discharges at gun shows? A gun “discharged” at a Montana gun show where loaded guns are not allowed. This lends the lie to the ridiculous notion that guns don’t kill people, people do. In this case, no one was killed but 2 were injured. Did someone pull the trigger or did the gun discharge on its’ own?

No charges filed? Why not? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to file charges when someone endangers the lives of others by being stupid and dangerous with a deadly weapon? How do guns discharge on their own- or do they discharge on their own?

Why are we not doing the research into the causes and effects of gun violence and the role of guns and gun violence in America? That one can be partially answered by blaming the NRA for getting their lapdogs in Congress to ban this important and potentially life saving federal and state research.

And considering that we are coming off of and immersed in an interesting and tumultuous and disconcerting election and post election period, there are questions about the relationship of the NRA ( and gun lobby in general) to President-elect Trump and the media attacks. Why is the NRA so concerned about Trump continuing his attacks against the media? What is their interest in this? Does it have anything to do with guns and gun rights or is this about the “alt right” view of the country? From the article:

There seem to be no lengths to which NRATV won’t go to defend Trump. For example, during the show’s October 27 broadcast, Stinchfield attacked the media for covering numerous sexual assault allegationsagainst Trump, saying outlets should instead have been reporting on people who used guns in self-defense.

Like Trump, the NRA frequently pushes the talking point that the press is in cahoots with so-called global elites who are trying to take guns away from ordinary Americans. Most recently, the group’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, railed against the media in a post-election message where he claimed that “the disgraceful media attempted to manipulate” Trump supporters’ “emotions.” In another representative example of the NRA’s attacks on the press, LaPierre told attendees at a 2014 conservative gathering that the press is one of America’s “greatest threats” and said, “NRA members will never, and I mean never, submit or surrender to the national media.”

This is more than interesting. It should be of concern to the free press and our democracy. We can’t have an organization as well funded and influential as the NRA making these kinds of statements to stifle the press and deceive the public. Measures to save lives by preventing at least some of the daily shootings in America depend on facts, reporting of the facts and holding our leaders accountable. Why should an organization like the NRA have any more influence than any other organization? Why will our President-elect listen to the NRA?

If we don’t ask and then answer these questions, the daily carnage will continue unabated. It is incumbent upon the public and our elected leaders to figure this out if they want to truly deal with our national public health and safety epidemic of gun violence.

Where is common sense?

 

#NRAAM NRA Convention, 2016 version

liarIf it’s May, it must be NRA convention time. The lies have just begun.So far, it has proven to be the usual with the exception of a certain Presidential candidate who showed up and spoke from notes he doesn’t usually use. From this article:

 

Trump also made it clear he wanted to woo the pro-gun crowd — but he seemed bored by his prepared remarks during his speech, joking about teleprompters before veering off onto other topics throughout the speech and even belittling his own remarks.

What did he say? More lies. But the crowd loved the lies and were excited to applaud a man whose transformation from a real estate guy who used to be in favor of common sense when it came to gun violence to a full-on card carrying NRA gun guy. He was, of course, endorsed by the NRA.

Whatever.

The lies? Let’s take them one at a time:

Donald Trump will make gun free zones guns allowed zones immediately upon taking the oath of office. Will that include his own properties? Will that include the annual NRA convention where guns are not allowed? It will, apparently include schools where it’s always a good idea for gun toters and teachers to be armed.

If this was such a good idea, why in the world are we the most dangerous country in the world when it comes to gun violence? Is this the great America Trump wants for us? How about this? Let’s make America safe again, a new slogan from Moms Demand Action. While the NRA is talking about more guns everywhere, a group of gun violence prevention activists will hold a screening of Katie Couric’s film, Under the Gun. featuring victims of gun violence telling their poignant stories.

We have more guns per person ( though many of those guns are owned by fewer people) already than any other country in the civilized and democratized world. And this kind of illogic fails to speak the truth. Most gun deaths are in guns allowed zones already. Take domestic shootings, many of which occur inside of homes. Or gun suicides, which often occur in a home where a gun is not only allowed but easily accessible to use in a suicide. Homes are not gun free zones since anyone can have a gun inside of their own home. I know that from personal experience.

Or gun ranges where people are killing themselves with increasing frequency?

Or how about hospitals, which are mostly gun free, where people like this lady who carried a gun in spite of the gun free zone, “accidentally” discharged her weapon injuring an innocent person.

Or what about cars? Are they gun free? Nope. Remember this one and this one where a toddler got their hands on a gun and shot their own parent? Or the guy who “accidentally” discharged his gun while sitting in his car waiting for his wife. Or the woman who was adjusting her bra gun holster and shot and killed herself?  Gun free zone? You decide.

Or how about taking selfies with your phone? Presumably the place where this happened was not a gun free zone.

Bars and restaurants in many states allow concealed guns inside. It hasn’t worked out particularly well as in this case, or this one. Or this one where a man forgot he had his gun when it fell from his jacket pocket in a restaurant ( presumably not a gun free zone) badly injuring one of the customers whose injuries will be life long. Or this Kansas man ( “law abiding gun owner) whose gun went off in a restaurant injuring his own wife. There are pages and pages of incidents like these if you look on the internet. Most of them occur in guns allowed zones. But if they occur in “gun free zones” who can one defend oneself from a stupid and dangerous gun carrier who believes he/she has a right to carry a loaded gun in public and then makes a terrible and sometimes deadly mistake. There’s no accounting for stupidity. But stupidity with a loaded gun is very serious stuff.

#Enough

Let’s move on to some more lies. Trump is making claims that Hillary Clinton wants to confiscate all guns and take away American’s right to own guns. Silly Donald. He knows better. But pandering to the minority of gun owners who are extreme in their positions is his ticket, he believes, to winning the election. Most NRA members don’t believe this and actually support requiring background checks on all gun sales. Shhhh. Don’t tell the Donald this. It doesn’t fit with his new-found support of gun rights.

Oh, and then there’s the lie about Hillary Clinton wanting violent criminals to go free. Just because he says so does not make it true. But never mind. Trying to make women fear crime in order to drive them to gun stores to buy a gun or to the polling booths is cynical at best and doesn’t deal with the truth that women are more at risk when there are guns in the home. But here is what Donald said anyway to get votes from women:

“In trying to overturn the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton is telling everyone — and every woman living in a dangerous community — that she doesn’t have the right to defend herself,” Mr. Trump said. “So you have a woman living in a community, a rough community, a bad community — sorry, you can’t defend yourself.”

Trump has had a lot of trouble with his support from women because of his many comments and insults since his entry into the Presidential race.

It’s also the usual suspects who come calling at this display of gun extremism. Of course, it wouldn’t be an NRA convention without good old Wayne LaPierre whose annual speeches to convention goers never fail to drum up fear and paranoia. And then the list of politicians who have to pay homage to this group of gun extremists shows how our leaders are so afraid to admit that the second amendment actually can co-exist with gun rights as it has for many years now.

Sigh.

And what about those NRA leaders and Board members? Here’s a nice list so you can see who they are and who they represent. Ted Nugent, of course, is one of the loud mouth NRA Board members who offends people and issues racial and sexist slurs on a regular basis. And in late breaking news, Nugent was re-elected to the NRA Board with the 2nd highest vote total. That tells us everything we need to know about the participants at the convention and their willingness to support hate, racism and crudity.

And of course, if we follow the money to find out how the NRA is actually funded we don’t have to look much further than executives of Sturm-Ruger who presented the NRA-ILA with a nice 4 million dollar check. 

The displays are the usual- guns and more guns. And don’t forget those ugly displays of bleeding look-alike gun targets (women, Barack Obama, etc) , hyped up slogans and swag with anti-Obama sayings and more ludicrous lies about those who support the idea that 30,000 American gun deaths are too many.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the site of the annual convention this year, it’s been a bad year for gun deaths:

“We are having an epidemic,” says Michelle Unseld Thomas, a resident of the South Side.

The violence in Louisville right now is “unprecedented,” says Brown, the police major.

But never mind. The NRA doesn’t get involved in trying to prevent this upward trend of people shooting other people. One has to wonder if their insular world includes anyone who has become a victim of a gun death by suicide, homicide, or an “accidental” shooting. Likely not.

And the shootings continue unabated. Children are shooting themselves or each other daily. Domestic shootings are taking the lives of innocent women and children. Suicides account for the majority of gun deaths. Young men in communities of color are the victims of way too many shootings thanks to easy access to guns and mass shootings happen in America like in no other country in the world.

One of the biggest lies is that guns don’t affect suicide rates and that suicides should not be considered to be gun violence. That is false. Studies confirm that access to guns makes suicide easier and, of course, deadlier. A new study from the Journal of Public Health confirms this. If only the NRA could admit that guns contribute to the majority of gun deaths in America and believe in research and studies that deal with public health and safety. But denial and outright deception by the corporate gun lobby has kept the government from studying important issues like this. Follow the money for the reasons.

But never mind the truth. This convention is all about convincing those in attendance and those who get the NRA’s mailings and emails that America will only be safer if more people own guns to protect themselves from the government and all of those evil shadows lurking around every corner in every nook and cranny. Never mind that those guns are much more likely to be used against you or someone around you than in self defense.

And those militia groups and people who actually do believe the government is coming for your guns? I feel sorry for their fear. It must be difficult to live in a world where that kind of fear prompts people to have their own arsenals. It’s  a burden to have to live this way. Plus, it sometimes leads to home grown terrorism as in this deadly incident in Nevada.

Are we safer because of the hyped fear and paranoia spewed by gun rights extremists and those who speak at NRA conventions?

A recent study of angry behavior which received responses from gun owners and non gun owners revealed what we all most likely believe to be the truth. There are a lot of angry (mostly men) with guns carried for “self defense” who just may use them for something else. From the article by “Mike the Gun Guy”:

Where the number of guns owned by individuals seemed to be a real risk issue can be found in the correlation between number of guns owned, engaging in any of the three anger indicators and carrying a gun outside the home. The good news in this survey was that less than 5 percent of the respondents reported that they walked around with a gun. The not-so-good news is that folks who owned six or more guns and carried a concealed weapon reported that they engaged in at least one of the three impulsive behaviors four times more frequently than persons who owned five or fewer guns.

This study and others about anger and guns lends the lie to the idea that guns will make us safer. Way too often angry people with guns shoot others in an instant because they can. And that is the real America.

We can’t afford to lie about gun violence. And we sure as heck cannot afford to have one of our major political party candidates for President of the United States lying about something this serious.It is a national public health and safety epidemic that is largely going untreated because of the lies. Are we on the side of a safer America or one that allows lies and deceptions to determine policies and treatment that can save lives? This election will determine on whose side we are.

 

 

 

 

More “good guys” with guns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you listening legislators?

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

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

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

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

Here are just a few images of these folks.

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

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

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

Where is common sense?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE:

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

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

We are not safer folks.

Millions against gun violence

guns everywhereThank you to One Million Moms and Dads Against Gun Violence for the image on the left. The numbers of parents and others against gun violence are surging. Why? Because we don’t believe that guns everywhere are making us safer. We can read the news articles and the headlines. Some of us have lost loved ones to bullets. We understand that we can do something about this constant and unsettling barrage of stories about shootings. In the last 2 days there were 2 college shootings. 2 more dead and 4 more injured. And this was a week after 9 were shot and killed and 9 others injured at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  A Texas professor has gone public with his resignation saying he doesn’t feel safe with all of the guns around and when the Texas law allowing students to carry concealed guns on campus goes into affect in August, he doesn’t want to be there for what might likely happen.

There are millions of Americans who are angry and appalled at the latest violent incidents in the country. The headlines read like a country at war. In fact, in my local newspaper this morning there were 2 headlines for articles that appeared next to each other. The one on the left stated: “Two students die in shootings at Texas, Arizona college campuses“. The one on the right reads: ” Violence spreads to Gaza, where Hamas leader calls for uprising.” And then on another page, the headline reads: Obama in Roseburg urges nation to ‘come together’ over gun violence. My paper chose the headline above when running an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times by Maria L. La Ganga where the headline read: Obama, visiting Roseburg families,is confronted by angry gun rights activists“.

Appalling. The hatred and extremism of the folks protesting a visit by the President of their country to comfort yet the latest families by gun violence is inexcusable. If his had happened to any other President, we would have been calling these folks insurrectionists. The definition, from the link: “an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.” Well?

But because it is the right wing extremists, so ugly in their hatred of a President who has done nothing to take away their rights or their guns, somehow they get away with it. Where else can people stand with loaded openly carried guns when the President’s motorcade comes by? And why were they allowed to do this? Rights? Armed intimidation by angry citizens?

There is a disconnect between reality and policy. It’s fueled by angry armed people who have been deceived by the corporate gun lobby and others on the right side of our political spectrum. It keeps them agitated and voting.

Insanity.

Which is it? Will we come together as a nation over gun violence or will the angry gun rights activists who represent a very small minority of Americans get their way because they are angry and armed? Time to start thinking about what this means. Decisions in America are not made at the end of a gun barrel. Bullets will not decide who will lead our country. If it comes to that, our democracy will end and we will become no better than the countries we criticize because they are constantly at war and where violence reigns.

Also in my local paper, a letter to the editor claimed this: Arming everyone is the answer to gun violence”:

There is just one obvious answer: Allow everyone to carry a gun either openly or concealed. Then, when some bad guy starts shooting, those around him will be able to defend themselves and others. This sounds a little crazy, but is there any other answer?

The suggestion that everyone should be armed is, of course, nonsensical given the facts. In developed democratized countries not at war, there are no headlines like the ones in my morning paper. Of course there are other answers and they don’t involve arming everyone. Guns in the hands of angry gun rights activists are not normal in other countries not at war. It should not be normal here.

What we have learned about most of the shooters involved in the latest rash of shootings on our campuses is that they were fascinated with guns and their parents even encouraged that fascination. The shooter in yesterday’s Arizona campus shooting, for example, loved his guns. And we found out after the Umpqua Community College shooting that the young man who decided to end the lives of 9 people also loved guns and was well versed in gun laws. He had a stockpile of guns which, at this point we are not sure whether were all purchased by him or also his gun loving mother. He was also someone who had developmental and emotional difficulties and should not have had easy access to guns.

Insanity.

A headline in another area newspaper said this: “‘Lucky One’, Matthew Downing, gives first statement about Oregon Community College massacre.” According to this account from one of the survivors, the Oregon shooter mercilessly slaughtered other human beings as though he was a machine. What happens to people when they have these kinds of thoughts and feelings and also access to guns? Something goes terribly wrong and innocent people are killed. From the above article:

Downing did so and said at that point Harper-Mercer fired into the center of the room and began asking students one by one if they were religious. The shooter fired at one student who said he was Christian and another who said she was Catholic.

The shooter reloaded two handguns with ammunition from his backpack during the killings, Downing said. Harper-Mercer was “firing on people who were just lying there,” Downing said.

Downing also said the shooter seemed to lose interest when a woman told him she couldn’t move her legs to stand up because of the pain.

Downing was lucky. He will never be the same. What he witnessed last week will always be in his brain and his life has changed forever. Lucky him.

Insanity.

Common sense tells us that things just can’t keep going the way they are. Millions of Americans are on the side of passing stronger gun laws to stop at least some of the massacres. Why would we not? We know the answer. The corporate gun lobby, representing mostly the gun industry and not their members, has a frightening hold on the country’s conversation about guns and on our political process:

In more than three decades of service to the NRA, Wayne LaPierre has done more than any other man alive to make America safe for crazed gunmen to build warlike arsenals and unleash terror on innocents at movie theaters and elementary schools. In the 1980s, he helped craft legislation to roll back gun control passed in the wake of the Kennedy and King assassinations. And since the late 1990s, twice he has destroyed political deals that might have made it hugely difficult for accused killers like Holmes and Lanza to get their hands on their weapons.

A predecessor once characterized the NRA as being “one of the world’s great religions,” and 64-year-old LaPierre is a strange fit to be its pope. LaPierre did not come from gun culture. He wasn’t a hunter, a marksman, a military man or a Second Amendment activist. “He’s not a true believer,” says NRA biographer Osha Gray Davidson. “He’s the first NRA chief you can say that about.”

But judging from the commentaries, comments, news coverage and finally, some courage by some of our politicians, things are changing. We are not letting candidates for the highest office in the land get away with saying, ” ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all,’” Seriously? There are more where this came from in this Salon article.

Picture yourself in the room with the Oregon shooter. Someone ( an Army veteran) did actually try to rush the shooter but he was shot and disabled by the shooter. But never mind that. Dr. Ben Carson is sure he would have done it differently and the outcome would have been different as a result.

Picture a room full of first graders. And one of them, Sarah, says to Jack- “Hey everybody, we can take this guy down. Everybody attack him.”

Insanity.

People like Dr. Ben Carson are in an increasingly small minority. The NRA, for example, represents ( or they say they are representing) about 4 million gun owners- give or take a million. A small percentage of Americans own guns.  Even fewer of these are actually members of the NRA. And for those folks, we are letting our kids and others be slaughtered?

Insanity.

In a recent post I wrote about the anger over the string of shootings- one following on the heels of another. We are turning that anger into action. Please join one of the many organizations working to prevent gun violence and let your voice be heard.

Where is common sense? We are better than this.

UPDATE:

Speaking of millions in favor of stronger gun laws and expanding Brady background checks, I ran across 2 articles in the Washington Post written by gun owners who want change. The headline on the first one is” “I’m a gun owner. The NRA doesn’t speak for me.”  The second article, also in the Washington Post, has this headline:Most gun owners support background checks and other limits. So why aren’t their voices heard?”

We know the answer to the question asked in the second article. And we also know that the first article’s writer is saying what many reasonable gun owners are saying. The NRA does not speak for them. So when our elected leaders wrap their heads around this idea, something will change and lives will be saved. Until then- calling all gun owners. Join with us in our efforts to make change happen. We need your voices.

UPDATE#2:

Since I mentioned the anti-government gun extremists who showed up to protest President Obama’s visit to Roseburg, Oregon, I feel the need to let my readers know that the man who organized the protest rally is a convicted felon.  Hmmmmm.

Insanity.

We’ve had enough!

Brady #enoughI got into a short exchange with someone on a friend’s Facebook page who insisted that I sounded angry about the Umpqua campus shooting that killed 9 people. This guy didn’t think anyone should be talking about a solution to our latest national tragedy. If we wait to talk about these tragedies until a sufficient time has passed, we will never be able to talk about what is needed to stop the next one. The rate and frequency of mass shootings is increasing and the every day shootings continue unabated.

The corporate gun lobby would be very happy if we didn’t talk about the carnage. Because discussing the problem and the solutions keep the issue front and center and remind the public of the victims. But we will not be silent. People are angry right now. Just as we were angry after 9/11. And then we began the discussion about solutions immediately and continue it even until today.

Why not talk about our American tragedy of gun violence right now? It’s past time to have the discussion and the actions we should have had and taken a long time ago.

And speaking of 9/11, President Obama, in his remarks about this latest shooting, asked the media to do some work and find charts comparing the deaths of Americans by terrorism since 9/11 and the deaths of Americans by guns. It didn’t take long for the media to comply. That’s because the comparison is simple. Few have died from terror attacks by comparison to those who have died from gunshot injuries. Vox and others have provided us with instructive charts showing the real devastation in our country and why we need to put all resources we have towards the national public emergency before us. You can see the stunning comparison and decide for yourself whether our priorities are in the wrong order. From the article:

More than 10,000 Americans are killed every year by gun violence. By contrast, so few Americans have been killed by terrorist attacks since 9/11 that when you chart the two together, the terrorism death count approximates zero for every year except 2001. This comparison, if anything, understates the gap: Far more Americans die every year from (easily preventable) gun suicides than gun homicides.

We’ve had enough of this. Collectively Americans have had enough. Our politicians are playing games with the lives of their constituents by not acting yesterday to do something about gun violence.

A number of letter writers in today’s Star Tribune reflect what the majority of Americans believe about guns and gun violence. Common sense is alive and well but ignored by our elected leaders whose decisions not to deal with laws that could save lives are shameful and dangerous to our communities.

The Brady Campaign/Center to Prevent Gun Violence has a new #Enough! campaign. The intent is to put pressure on our elected leaders to reflect the desires of the majority to get something done to save lives. Watch their website and social media for more information to come. One of the most effective measures to keep guns out of the hands of people who could be dangerous to themselves or others is requiring Brady background checks on all gun sales. Congress could do this today if they had the courage and the will.

Two bills are sitting on the desks of our Representatives. One is HR 3411 sponsored by Congresswoman Jackie Spears and the other is HR1217 sponsored by Congressmen Peter King and Mike Thompson. The bills are ready to go. So let’s push for them to be heard and voted on. Lives could be saved with the passage of either bill. Where is the leadership when it comes to saving lives?

Meanwhile, while we are waiting for our leaders to choose to stand with victims and families, people are dying every day. We’ve had enough. The families have had enough. Communities have had enough. And the bodies are piling up. The Umpqua campus shooting has provided 9 more of them. 9 more families are grieving along with friends and the entire community. The ripple effect of gun violence goes wider and wider every day. Every community is affected at one time or another. And now Roseburg, Oregon is the current center of the public’s attention and sympathies.They are mourning now. Soon enough, they will have to move on and live around the hole left in their hearts and their families by the loss of a loved one. Reality will set in. We can hope that some of these families will join us in our efforts to prevent others from going through their loss and their pain.

The names of the 9 victims of the Umpqua shooting have now been released. Look at the photos and read about the lives of the victims who were just going about their every day business at a college campus. In memory:

Lucero Alcaraz

Treven Taylor Anspach

Rebecka Ann Carnes

Quinn Glen Cooper

Kim Saltmarsh Dietz

Lucas Eibel

Jason Dale Johnson

Lawrence Levine

Sarena Dawn Moore

Our hearts are broken again with another campus shooting

broken heartWell, in case anyone wonders where the numbers come from when gun safety reform advocates talk about 32 homicides a day, today is an example of how just one shooting can add up the bodies to that number. A campus shooting in Oregon has reportedly taken the lives of 10 and injured 20. In fact now the report is 13-15 dead. From this article:

As many as 10 people were killed and 20 injured when a shooter opened fire at Umpqua Community College Thursday in southern Oregon, Oregon State Police told KGW-TV.

The shooter was reported to be dead, according to police.

We will learn more details as the day progresses. It’s probably likely that more will end up in the dead column. This incident is already all over the news media and is taking the place of all other news. About every few weeks, we can turn on the TV or read articles in the media about these kinds of mass shootings. This is America at its’ worst. But it’s the America we have isn’t it?

Where is the outrage? Where will it happen next? Will it be your child, your husband, brother or sister? Just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it won’t. And don’t let the gun advocates fool you into believing that if only you had a gun with you you could stop a shooter who is bent on killing as many people as possible at once. The first reaction is most often to get out of the way or run or hide somewhere rather than risk your own life to maybe or maybe not take down a shooter. What happens in these cases? People run and no one knows who is who. As I am listening to the reports, commentators are saying that chaos reigns in these incidents no matter how well people think they are prepared.

Hospitals are overwhelmed. Trauma centers can’t handle the injuries and bodies. Law enforcement will be working over time in this small town of 3000. The whole community is affected by this and the ripple effect goes further and wider than Roseburg, Oregon. All are in shock and now many are grieving. This is life in America. This is the affect of an American awash in guns along with lax gun laws.

From this article in The Trace, I learned that the Umpqua campus allows guns on the grounds but not in the classrooms. There is more about Oregon’s gun violence and gun laws in the linked article. Would a gun in the classroom have made a difference? I’m sure there will be the usual discussion about that argument instead of discussing how this shooter got his gun and the easy access to guns by way too many who should not have them in our country.

There have been 264 mass shootings this year according to the Gun Violence Archive which describes mass shootings of at leas 4 injured. Yes. You saw that right. How can a country allow this to happen without doing one thing about this national and horrific epidemic? It’s a public health and safety emergency.

Where is the outrage?

Where is common sense?

Don’t be numb. Don’t send your thoughts and prayers. Don’t shrug your shoulders. Cry but then act. We have a national public health and safety emergency that can only be solved with all hands on deck, including our elected officials. Please ask your public officials to act immediately. Yes, laws can make a difference. Laws let people know that some things are not acceptable and for the common good will not be allowed. Once the laws are passed, the culture can change. And the culture can change things to pass laws. Both must happen.

Our hearts are broken yet again.

UPDATE:

It turns out the the Umpqua campus allows guns on their campus and there was at least one armed person on the campus at the time of the shooting.

Why guns on campus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US total crime rate US vs. private college crime

US vs college crime rates

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

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

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

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

That about sums it up. Common sense should prevail.