Sweeping away the real risks of guns

vacuumIt should not be surprising that we are sweeping some of our more serious problems under the rug. For example, the many incidents involving legal gun owners that occur every day. Why aren’t we talking about the true risk of guns in the home or in public places? We know the answer. The gun lobby doesn’t want us to know about this stuff. They just want us to know that if we aren’t all armed, we will be attacked by zombies, or God forbid, terrorists. And so the hyperbole and paranoia continues. I wrote in my last two posts about the foolishness of politicians and presidential candidates regarding the Paris attacks. Many opined that things would have gone so much better if only those folks had been armed.

But they don’t want to talk about the real dangers of guns carried by people who, even in situations that don’t involve terrorism, can’t handle their legal guns. And so the carnage continues.

Only in America can we read about incidents like the those I am listing below:

A man shot a woman in a “freaky sex” incident and killed her. He forgot to take the bullet out of the chamber. Really? I thought gun owners knew better. They are supposed to make themselves and the rest of us safer. Guns and sex don’t mix.

Do you need to be carrying your gun while vacuuming? It turns out that it could be dangerous. Who knew? I guess those dust bunnies are pretty scary after all. Guns and vacuuming don’t mix.

Speaking of sweeping our real problems under the rug, only in America can a white gun extremist who threatened on Twitter to kill Jews and school kids get released to his parents by a Montana judge. From the article:

Lenio’s defense team managed to have his trial postponed earlier this year and has been working on a plea deal with prosecutors. Hutson noted, however, that when he was released on the condition that he not use social media at all, Lenio immediately reactivated his Twitter account under the name @PsychicDogTalk3 and proceeded to retweet anti-Israel propaganda and musings on how to satisfy the “urge to kill.”

“He has violated the court’s order and shown contempt for the judge 348 times,” Hutson told Strickland. “He is unfit for release into his parent’s custody in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I question if he would be getting such preferential treatment if he weren’t white and the son of an investment banker.”

A Native American or Muslim man would be treated very differently under Montana law, Hutson said.

Brant Getty, the public defender assigned to represent Lenio declined to comment for the DailyInterLake article.

This article, written by Jonathan Hutson, the man who reported the extremists’ tweets, resulting in his arrest, says this about the case:

My concern now, shared by many others, is that justice may not be served by the backroom deal apparently in the works, in which a young man who may be a danger to himself and to others could be released without having been held to account for his online threats against the Kalispell community, and without the court ensuring that Lenio receive appropriate mental health care which he apparently needs and deserves.

The prosecutor, County Attorney Ed Corrigan, is considering a possible plea bargain which could result in the felony charge of intimidation being reduced to a misdemeanor, or a deferred prosecution, which would mean that eventually, the felony charge would be dismissed, and Lenio would one day get his arsenal back. Imagine David Lenio, reloaded, courtesy of the State of Montana. That could happen.

We have our own home grown terrorists with guns:

But the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims: 48 have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim, including the recent mass killing in Charleston, S.C., compared with 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center. (…)

Non-Muslim extremists have carried out 19 such attacks since Sept. 11, according to the latest count, compiled by David Sterman, a New America program associate, and overseen by Peter Bergen, a terrorism expert. By comparison, seven lethal attacks by Islamic militants have taken place in the same period.

If such numbers are new to the public, they are familiar to police officers. A survey to be published this week asked 382 police and sheriff’s departments nationwide to rank the three biggest threats from violent extremism in their jurisdiction. About 74 percent listed antigovernment violence, while 39 percent listed “Al Qaeda-inspired” violence, according to the researchers, Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina and David Schanzer of Duke University.

We have our own problems with terrorists at home. The Montana case represents our nation’s willingness to let people who shouldn’t have guns get them anyway because….. rights.

Sigh.

With the latest terror attack and all of the talk of radical Muslims attacking people in the Western world, we absolutely must join together to do whatever it takes.

We also do need to deal with young white angry bigoted men here at home. The young man arrested for his threats to Jews and children  may get away with his threats. Where else does this happen? Are his gun rights more important than the potential damage he can do once released? I think not. And what could possibly go wrong if he gets his guns back?

We have a double standard in our country. I have written before about mass shootings being committed by mostly young white angry men with (mostly) legally purchased guns. And yet the evidence is in about young black men becoming the majority of the homicide victims in our country. They are also incarcerated at a higher rate than white people.

We have some pretty serious problems that we are not addressing in America. Yes, there was a terror attack in Paris. There was a terror attack in Lebanon. We have serious problems with violence all over the globe. Ours is with gun violence not seen in any other civilized country not at war.

Today we are alarmed and talking 24/7 about the latest terror attack. And we should be talking about that in a reasonable thoughtful manner that will result in a plan to stop the terror and the violence. But the conversation is dumbed down by those who are speaking before engaging their brains or getting the facts.

Shameful.

And when this terror attack fades from constant public attention in a few weeks as it inevitably will, will we then pay attention to our own serious public health and safety epidemic? And will we, at the least, stop people on the terror watch list from buying guns legally in our own country? From the article:

And, as the GAO found, a number of them do: Between 2004 and 2014, suspected terrorists attempted to purchase guns from American dealers at least 2,233 times. And in 2,043 of those cases — 91 percent of the time — they succeeded. There are about 700,000 people on the watch-list — a point that civil libertarians have made to underscore that many on the list may be family members or acquaintances of people with potential terrorist connections. (…)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill to do that earlier this year. The “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015” would prevent several hundred gun purchases by suspected terrorists each year, and it includes provisions to let people challenge a denial if they believe they were placed on the watchlist in error.

But these bills have rarely made it out of committee, in part due to vehement opposition from the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress. The NRA objected to earlier versions of the bill, saying they were “aimed primarily at law-abiding American gun owners,” that “prohibiting the possession of firearms doesn’t stop criminals from illegally acquiring them,” and that the bills were “sponsored by gun control extremists.”

The NRA doesn’t want us to know about this or talk about it. Why not?

And will we sign on to the UN Small Arms Treaty as the country that is providing the most small arms to the rest of the world? Will we do our part in stopping the terror in our own country and in the world at large? From the linked article about the gun lobby deceptions that keep the US from signing the treaty:

In 2013, after nearly a decade of effort (and opposition from the Bush administration), the U.N. adopted an Arms Trade Treaty to curtail illicit sales of war weapons, including tanks, fighter jets, warships, missiles, artillery, and small arms, chiefly to keep them out of the hands of rogue governments and militant groups. But that last category of weapons riles Second Amendment activists, who are concerned that the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is part of a secret globalist agenda to winnow away their constitutional right.

Under President Obama, American leadership helped the treaty get enough signatures to enter into force — as much force as the U.N. can muster, anyway — late last year. This week’s meetings in Mexico are when the 72 ratifying states will discuss amendments to and enforcement of the agreement. Notably, the U.S. will not be among them. It’s signed the treaty, but Congress has yet to ratify it and is unlikely to anytime soon. (…)

And it’s here that the real shenanigans begin, as the rest of the treaty text makes it clear that opponents are warping its intent to suit their own purposes. It is true that the ATT aims to keep guns (and tanks, and anti-aircraft missiles) out of the hands of “unauthorized… end users.” But contrary to the NRA’s interpretation, no one is required to provide small arms makers or their governments with specific identifying info on a gun’s ultimate owner. As the treaty now reads, exporting countries “may include end use or end user documentation” in the info they share with other treaty nations, when deemed “appropriate.” On top of that, the treaty also permits a participating country to tailor that arms-trade data “pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.” In other words, if U.S. courts see reporting “end user” information as a violation of Second Amendment rights, the U.S. won’t be able to provide that info to exporters abroad.

More importantly, guns imported to the U.S. already get registered. With very few exceptions, all firearms brought into the country have to go through a firearm dealer licensed by the ATF, and a Form 6 for the deal must be filled out in detail and filed with ATF and Customs and Border Protection. Your individual sportsman can get a special permit to directly import sporting-gun parts and ammunition for personal use — but even then, there’s a record of the importation. In all likelihood, treaty parties will treat gun stores and dealers who receive imports as the “end user” for record-keeping purposes, rather than individual customers who may buy the weapon at a point of sale months or years later.

So in a broad sense, the specter of “registration” that the NRA raises has already been the law of the land for some time. The more specific fear — that foreign governments and UN lackeys will gain lists of every Tom, Dick, and Harry who owns a Beretta — is the absurd product of scaremongering.

I suggest you read more of this article. The scare mongering and paranoia exhibited by the American gun lobby are hampering efforts to try to control the trafficking of weapons world wide that inevitably end up in the hands of terrorists.

So again I ask, what are we doing about terror in our own country and our own failures to help with anti terrorism at home and abroad?

We can actually deal with the concerns about with the terror watch list and the UN Small Arms Treaty by the way. If we can send people to the moon, we can figure this out as well. It takes resolve and common sense which sometimes we have little of.

And why do so many Americans believe the hype about guns for self defense? The guys who were involved in the shooting while having sex and while vacuuming apparently believed nothing could possibly go wrong with a gun in their own hands. I am guessing these are the same folks who are thinking that the citizens of Paris should have been armed during the terror attack. What could possibly go wrong?

The real problems cannot be swept away.  As long as the gun lobby holds sway over our politicians, the house cleaning of our weak gun laws to save lives won’t happen. Let’s dust off our reluctance to attack the problem and get to work.

I would like to add an article to my post. I like this one about how the NRA and the corporate gun lobby are actually arming criminals because of their insistence that stronger gun laws won’t work. From the article:

Through all of this, the National Rifle Association has been resolute in its mission to protect Americans’ access to guns. Their success extends far beyond protecting Second Amendment rights.

They have been so effective at limiting or weakening gun violence prevention laws that they can legitimately be accused of helping to arm many of the United States’ criminals. And while they do this they cynically claim that there are plenty of laws on the books if you just enforce them.

Before you fire off angry letters and comments, please read just a few ways how the NRA’s mission has strayed from protecting law abiding gun owner’s rights to keeping the flow of arms to crooks steady.

And then the writer gets to my point from this post:

If you were wondering how out of touch the NRA has become, think about this – they strongly oppose legislation to prohibit the sale of guns to people on the terrorist watch list. Is any comment even needed here?

We need an honest debate about gun laws and how to reduce violence, balancing the protection of Second Amendment rights with realistic measures to keep guns away from lawbreakers. But the NRA, through scare tactics, exaggeration, lying and appeal to paranoia has shown they are not capable of participating in an honest debate.

Through their tactics, they make it easy for criminals to keep getting guns. And if you support the NRA, so do you.

No further comment.

 

 

Should we be afraid of the gun extremists?

zombieThis will be a long read because there is so much going on in the insane gun world that it takes a lot of space to write about it. And write about it is what many are doing. It’s hard to deny that our gun culture is so out of whack and so out of tune with what Americans want that it is becoming a tragic and deadly joke to the rest of the world. The fact that it is not lighting a fire under the pants of our elected leaders is a national shame.

I wrote a recent post about gun free zones in which I took issue with the corporate gun lobby’s specious claim that shooters look for gun free zones when they want to shoot people. It is, of course, a lie. This nonsensical and hypocritical claim has led the gun extremists to pushing for guns everywhere as they have convinced lawmakers that it will only be them- the “good guys” with guns who show up in places where guns are not allowed to save the rest of us from certain death.

I had an exchange with one of my readers on my last post about how he believes his children are not safe in their schools ( gun free zones) which is why he has chosen to carry a gun at his child’s school which he says he has worked out with administrators in the school. It is concealed so others don’t know he is carrying. I countered with the facts. Children are actually more safe in their schools than they are in their homes. This great and extensive report by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “The Truth About Kids and Guns points out that 87% of firearms deaths for children 10 and under happen in their own homes- not considered to be gun free zones, by the way.

Let’s look again at the gun free zones nonsense. I pointed out how police officers are frequently attacked by guys with guns. It’s a fact. So the idea that someone with a gun is looking only for gun free zones for their attacks is disproven by the facts. And another example of this has played out in Dallas, Texas where an armed and angry “good guy” with a gun opened fire at a police station where we can presume those inside are armed:

Mr Brown told a news conference that the shoot-out began at about 12.30am local time, when the suspects parked in front of the building and began firing.

He said at least one suspect fled the scene in a van which rammed a police cruiser before leading officers on a chase that ended in an ongoing stand-off at a car park in the city of Hutchins, where more gunfire was exchanged.

Mr Brown said the suspect driving the van told officers that he blames police for losing custody of his son and “accusing him of being a terrorist”. The gunman also said he had explosives in the van, which appeared to be fitted with gun ports in the sides.

Let’s read this again: “”accusing him of being a terrorist””. Hmmm. An angry armed guy in an armored van with possible explosives. What should we call him? Is this what the Texas legislature had in mind when they just passed the law allowing for open carry of any kind of gun on the streets of their cities?

And did you know you could order a Zombie Apocalypse Assault Vehicle and Troop Transport.” vehicle through Facebook? The now deceased attacker had mental illness and anger issues according to his family and clearly had a fascination with guns. He had had prior problems with the law when he tried to choke his own mother but charges were dropped. Where did he get his guns? I think this statement needs more explanation actually ( from the above linked article):

The police report said he was then reported on the same day to be in Paris,Texas, about 100 miles away, where he grabbed weapons and body armour and talked about “shooting up schools and churches”. Andrew Boulware and his father, Jim, confirmed the incident.

So many red flags here. This is why laws such as the recently passed Gun Violence Restraining Order in California are so important. Family members know if a relative has mental illness and shouldn’t have guns. Laws such as this one in addition to requiring background checks on all gun sales can save lives. In this case, only the suspect died but all were lucky that many others were not injured or killed based on the mental state and bad intentions of the attacker. People with mental illness and anger issues such as this man had should not have access to guns.

And seriously, do people actually believe in zombies? Is there an alternate universe that I don’t know about?

Dear God.

But, according to this article, it’s really easy to become a terrorist like this guy in our own country. We talk a lot about those ISIS and other foreign terrorists attacking us. Let’s talk about our own home grown terrorists. I think that is what the guy in the zombie apocalypse van can be called. Check out this article from the Daily Beast about the ease of getting armored vehicles, clothing and guns, of course, right here in our own communities.

Where is common sense? We will see more of this because we are doing absolutely nothing to stop it. This one was in Dallas. The next one could be in your community. And that is not fear and paranoia. That is real. We are not talking about the zombies so feared by the gun extremists. We are talking about severely mentally ill people without the support they need to keep themselves and others safe from harm. We are talking about people with anger issues with guns. We are talking about the gun extremists themselves.

And almost at the same time that this incident was taking place the Governor of Texas was signing the new Open Carry and Guns on Campus bills into law. He signed the bills at a gun range. You just can’t make this stuff up. I’ve talked about Open Carry a lot so won’t get into that in this post.

Today my home town newspaper ran this editorial piece about guns on college campuses:

There has been no major demand on college campuses from students who want to bring guns to school. Instead, pro-gun laws have been foisted on colleges and universities that don’t want them. Why? Because of the power of the gun lobby.

But students don’t desire firearms. A 2013 poll published in the Journal of American College Health found that 78 percent of students at 15 Midwestern colleges and universities rejected guns on their campuses. Almost 80 percent of students said they would not feel safe if faculty, students and visitors carried concealed weapons on campus, and 66 percent said they did not feel that carrying a gun would make them less likely to be threatened by others. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities and more than 420 colleges and universities in 42 states have joined the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus to fight pro-gun laws.

And they are right. Guns do not belong on campuses any more than they belong at schools or in places of worship or in hospitals. College campuses are supposed to be sites of learning, lively debate, quiet contemplation and study. (…)

We don’t need vigilantes. We have professional law enforcement, which sometimes has problems, but is still accountable to us.

As powerful as the gun lobby is, this year so far has not been a complete triumph for the gun rights movement. It lost a battle to get the Florida Legislature to approve a law allowing guns on campuses. And even though Texas passed its gun law, some pro-gun groups saw the law as a defeat because legislators amended it to permit university presidents to set limits on the buildings into which students can bring guns.

Let’s hope that the defeat in Florida and the amendment to the Texas law are just the beginning of a pushback against the gun lobby’s excesses. The last thing we need is more armed students on college campuses.

Gun lobby excesses is the right wording. There are so many examples in every day America of the excesses of the gun lobby and it’s followers. Why isn’t the message getting to the people we have elected to serve the majority and protect the public health and safety? Oh right- corporate gun lobby.

As just another example of a gun extremist acting out his rights as a “good guy” with a gun, let’s look at this heinous shooting at an Iowa shopping mall:

Iowa mall cop — with a Facebook account loaded with open-carry and right-wing memes and photos of multiple weapons — is under arrest for shooting and killing a fellow mall worker because she filed sexual harassment complaints against him.

According to The Gazette, Alex Kozak was taken into custody after shooting 20-year-old Andrea Farrington three times in the back while she was at work at the Iowa Children’s Museum in the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, Iowa.

Police say that the 22-year-old Kozak left the mall and went to his home and retrieved a 9mm Glock handgun before retuning and shooting Farrington late Friday night..

KCJJ reports that a cousin of Farrington’s said that Kozak had been harassing the victim for at least six weeks and that she had complained to his superiors about unwanted advances he had made toward her. (…) Kozak — who is currently being held on $10 million bail — is married to Kellie Kozak, who recently posted pictures on her Facebook page of a visit to Costco where her husband can be seen carrying a sidearm. According to his father-in-law, Kozak didn’t always carry a weapon, saying, “If circumstances were that it’d be best not to have a weapon present, he didn’t have a problem with that.”

You really ought to check out the Facebook screen captures ( in the article) from the page of the shooter’s wife. Dare to speak out against gun insanity and meet with this in your face behavior. The staff at the Costco store the shooter and his wife visited were perhaps prescient. Even though these 2 tried to force their open carry behavior on the clerks and customers, they didn’t want it. Did they sense this guy could be a killer with that gun he carried so proudly and arrogantly?

The shooter had a legal permit to carry that gun. No comment.

The thing is, the majority of us don’t want openly carried or concealed carried guns in public places. Yes,people have a right to own guns but where is the line drawn between civility and harassment and being in the faces and spaces of others?

New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote this column about the in your face nonsense of open gun carriers. From her column:

We’ve moved from the right to bear arms to the right to flaunt arms.

While the airport setting gives the incident a particular flair, this kind of thing has been happening quite a bit. In Michigan, the City of Grand Rapids has been in a legal battle with a man who took umbrage when police stopped him while he was walking down a residential street on a Sunday morning wearing camouflage, with a pistol strapped to his leg and singing “Hakuna Matata” from “The Lion King.”

Very few states have flat-out rules against openly carrying guns in public. It’s just something that never came up. “It’s not a practical thing to do,” said Laura Cutilletta of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But it turns out that anyone with the legal right to carry a concealed weapon — which, in some states, doesn’t even require a permit — generally also has the legal right to walk into a McDonald’s with a gun sticking out of his waistband. (…)

The open display of weaponry freaks out average citizens, especially the ones with children. It outrages police. At one point, even the National Rifle Association said the open carry demonstrations were “downright weird.” But the organization quickly backtracked, apologized, blamed the post on an errant staffer, and averred that “our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.”

You’d think that lawmakers would move quickly to make it illegal, but with a few exceptions, there’s more enabling going on than anything else. After a Kalamazoo man walked into the public library’s summer reading party for children with a 9-millimeter gun strapped to his waist, worried officials asked the State Legislature to add libraries to a very small list of gun-free zones. The Legislature did nothing.

“Look, I got a gun!” yelled a man who walked into a park where kids were playing baseball in — yes! — Georgia. “There’s nothing you can do about it.” The police, who were summoned, determined he was absolutely right.

There’s nothing we can do about it because our state legislators have enabled the corporate gun lobby and gun extremists and left the rest of us with this kind of uncouth and impolite behavior. They ought to be ashamed or embarrassed. Are they? Not so far but if this kind of public display of bravado with loaded guns continues, they will eventually have to take responsibility for allowing themselves to be duped by the gun lobby and fix the problem. It’s already too late but they could at least try. “Better late than never.”

Some people think this is the answer. It has merit and if the insanity continues, who knows? But for some who have been hiding behind the second amendment for opposition to common sense measures to stop the shootings, these are “fighting” words. More on this another time.

I could go on and on and on. The result of our American gun culture brought to us by the corporate gun lobby is that more people are now dying of gunshot injuries and more are surviving thanks to modern medical techniques. I will list a few more but just know I’ll be back to talk about how we can stop at least some of our nation’s senseless gun deaths.

Can we prevent all shootings? Of course not. But we surely have to practice some common sense and do a much better job of keeping guns away from those who shouldn’t have them. But further, we need a serious national discussion about the role of guns and gun violence in our communities. Too many people are dying in preventable shootings. More guns everywhere is proving to be deadly to our fellow citizens. The gun extremists are afraid of zombies and certain trouble in every nook and cranny of our communities. We should be afraid of those who are afraid of the zombies.

UPDATE:

Remember the man in the zombie van who shot up a Dallas police department? I wrote about it above and wondered how he got his guns. Well they were “legal” guns which were taken from him but returned after charges were dropped in an incident where he tried to choke his own mother:

Lamar County authorities say the weapons found on James Boulware, the man killed by Dallas police following a weekend attack on police headquarters, match guns and ammo confiscated then returned to Boulware two years ago:

A long range hunting rifle with scope. A 12 gauge shotgun. A Ruger rifle. A 45-revolver. A 9-millimeter, semi-automatic pistol. A camouflage flak jacket and body armor and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

That’s just some of the arsenal of weapons confiscated by Lamar County Sheriff’s deputies in May of 2013 after arresting James Boulware on assault charges out of Dallas.

An arsenal of weapons was confiscated then returned after charges against James Boulware were dropped in a 2013 assault. Brett Shipp investigates.

Seems like a pretty #badidea to me. But when our gun laws are so lax that law enforcement and judges can’t do a thing about removing guns from those who clearly should not have them, this is the result. There are some people who should not have guns. We can do something about this if we make changes to strengthen our laws.

UPDATE#2:

So I want to add another article about that “zombie apocalypse” van used by the attacker of the Dallas police station. There are other folks in our country who feel a need to own one of these vehicles. From the article:

Why does he own it? Mr. Funicello, who runs a mixed martial arts gym called the Spartan Academy, said the question should be: Why not?

“This is America,” he said. “I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one. If I wanted to buy a fire truck, I could.”

Yup. This is America……