While I was away…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also find this post at commongunsense.com.

UPDATE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gun lobby secrets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

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

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

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