Big money and guns

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The NRA, the Russian investigation, power, money, corruption, influence on elections, Trump and the 2016 campaign. What could possibly go wrong?

If this allegation is true, it shows how far the corporate gun lobby will go to gain and hold on to their influence over our political system. From the article about the FBI investigation into the influence of Russian money, the NRA and the Trump election:

However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

Two people with close connections to the powerful gun lobby said its total election spending actually approached or exceeded $70 million. The reporting gap could be explained by the fact that independent groups are not required to reveal how much they spend on Internet ads or field operations, including get-out-the-vote efforts.

We know that Trump attended the NRA’s annual meeting to lie about his support for their dangerous policies. And we know he received a large campaign donation from the organization along with support by way of letting supporters know that they should vote for this unfit man:

A supporter of restrictions on guns before he entered politics, Mr. Trump became a fierce champion of gun rights during his bid for the White House, earning early backing — and $30 million in campaign support — from the powerful lobbying group.

“Only one candidate in the general election came to speak to you, and that candidate is now the president of the United States, standing before you,” Mr. Trump said. “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.”

There it is for all to see.

This is simply corrupt and absolutely not OK. We need to keep our eyes and ears open.

The book, “Dark Money” reveals the extent to which this is happening in our democracy, if you can call it that given that money is buying elections and influencing important decisions on behalf of the American people. From the review of the book:

A careful exposé of the libertarian agenda, spearheaded by the Koch brothers, to “impose their minority views on the majority by other means.”

As people who read my blog know, I often talk about how the gun lobby represents a distinct minority of Americans and even gun owners. But their agenda is about money and influence which works against the majority. For decades that money and influence has bought us terrible policies that are dangerous to public health and safety. Such laws as “Stand Your Ground” and ” Constitutional Carry” allow people with guns to get away with murder and for people to openly carry guns in public places where most people do not want them. And if the agenda of passing “Concealed Carry Reciprocity” were to move forward and get the support of the Senate, just about anyone would be allowed to carry loaded guns wherever they go.

These are the wishes forced on us by the minority who have money. Money talks.

Left in the wake of all of this are the victims. But victims don’t talk. Sometimes they have a voice and survivors like former Representative Gabby Giffords, for example, speak as well as they can in demanding common sense in the halls of Congress and state legislatures.

Unfortunately for us, her voice and the voices of others like her are not loud enough compared to the voices of money. Many of our politicians are lapdogs for the gun lobby. I posted this Brady Campaign video in my last post as well. It is still relevant:

Woe unto us if we let the money continue to influence the safety and well being of the public. The bodies are piling up in front of our eyes.

In Minnesota a few days ago, the combination of icy roads, an accident, and guns came together to lead to the death of a young driver:

What happened next was spelled out Wednesday in a criminal complaint that said Weiss, 25, of Rochester, who has a legal permit to carry a gun, shot the teenage driver of the other car at point-blank range when a confrontation flared.

The Olmsted County attorney charged Weiss, who says he acted in self-defense, with second-degree murder in the death of Muhammed Rahim, 17, the middle child of a family that fled Iraq six years ago. The charge is a felony that, with a conviction, carries a potential prison sentence of three to 40 years.

Weiss was arrested and jailed. He has since been released on bail.

Rahim’s passenger told police that he thought Weiss wanted to fight after the collision. He said he and Rahim threatened Weiss and that Rahim even dared Weiss to shoot him. There were no punches thrown, according to police, but Weiss said Rahim shoved him once in the chest.

Incidents like this should not lead to death. This was an accident, a misunderstanding, perhaps some strong words. But if one man had not had a gun, the other would be alive today. And claiming self defense may or may not work here. The victim was unarmed and only ( maybe) had words with the shooter. Is that enough to kill someone?

But Minnesota does not have a Stand Your Ground law. We have fought against it for many years in the face of fierce support by the corporate gun lobby’s influence on some of our state legislators. Would this man be able  to get away with murder with no trial if a Stand Your Ground law was in place?

This is yet another of those “good guys” with guns that Wayne LaPierre so famously and nonsensically said after the shooting of 20 first graders, held up when pretending that only good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns:

Sigh.

Sometimes even in states with Stand Your Ground laws, shooters have not gotten away with murder. The case of Jordan Davis, shot in Florida by a gun permit holder because of teens sitting in a car playing loud music, showed that murdering an unarmed person who simply annoyed someone isn’t an excuse.

We are better than this.

The confluence of the Russia investigation into their influence on our 2016 election, with the NRA is an interesting situation. If the findings come out showing that it was, indeed, true, we need to hold the NRA responsible for their actions and expose the truth about dark money and guns.

 

UPDATE:

This New York Times article expands on the possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians through the NRA:

It’s important not to get carried away, if only because a scenario in which the Russian investigation ensnares the N.R.A., probably the most influential conservative group in the United States, seems a bit too much like Resistance fan fiction, too delicious to be true. Indeed, if it is true, it has devastating implications for the entire Republican Party, since many officeholders enjoy lavish financial support from the N.R.A. Still, an N.R.A. role in Russiagate would explain a few things, including why the N.R.A. has, in recent years, developed such a close relationship with Russia.

Follow the Money. People are dying. The gun industry profits. Gun laws are loosened. People unfit for office are elected with the help of the gun lobby. Our leaders are afraid to pass laws to save lives and protect us all from senseless gun violence.

The insatiable quest for profits for the gun industry, power and control of our democratic process may end in a very bad way. It would not be a surprise to most people who have come to understand that the NRA is not a gun rights group any more. It is an arm of the Republican party and is run by extremists.

Extremism in our legislatures

Caroon
Published in the Duluth News Tribune

I have written many times about Stand Your Ground laws. As more states are now passing these laws more people will be in danger of being shot and injured or killed senselessly. Not that any shooting makes much sense.  This story from The Trace, highlights an example of the first “Stand Your Ground” case in Missouri after their new law passed:

Missouri was the first state to pass a “stand your ground” law since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida brought notoriety to such legislation in 2013. Before taking that step, Missouri law followed the “castle doctrine,” which says that a person may shoot an intruder to his home, if perceiving the situation as life-threatening.

Schoeneberg, for his part, is worried about gun owners understanding that the new, more permissive “stand your ground” law still has limits. “I think that people think this is a license to do more than they’re really allowed,” he says.

This is the story of so many other similar cases. Can you shoot someone because of a cell phone robbery? If you can, should you? Can you shoot someone who is sitting drunk in the car in your garage? Should you? Can you shoot someone who has broken into your house and is taking a shower in your very own shower? Should you?

The answer is yes if you want to face the consequences.  If someone else’s life is worth so little that you would take it over things like this we have a serious public health and safety problem and a problem with the morality of taking human lives.  Some people think this is OK.

Some legislators in Minnesota are lapdogs for the gun lobby and will get a floor vote in the House on Stand Your Ground in the next few days. Why? Because rights…….Because ALEC…… Because the corporate gun lobby agenda…..

It’s that simple but it’s really that complicated.

Minnesota nice? Not so much. Because once you have the idea in your head that you can now shoot someone who you perceive to be a danger ( even if they really aren’t) you can shoot first and ask questions later.There is nothing about Stand Your Ground laws that are good for public safety and the health of our communities. In fact, the laws make our communities and families less safe.

But common sense about these things does not exist in the minds of those who have decided that laws like this are OK.

The gun extremists have been standing their ground as they push ludicrous and dangerous bills through our state legislatures and Congress. Consider permitless carry which did not make it far in the Minnesota House. From this article in The Trace:

The concept, rooted in constitutional originalism, assumes that the authors of the Second Amendment envisioned an unfettered right to wield a gun for personal defense. In this view, any limitation on an individual’s right to carry guns, however small, is unjust. Full stop. As such, passing constitutional-carry legislation is seen by proponents as a restoration, not an expansion, of gun freedoms.

As with the “campus carry” movement, the push for permitless carry has come from the grassroots more than from the National Rifle Association. While the nation’s largest gun lobby champions the latest bills in its press releases, local lobbyists who take the NRA’s absolutist rhetoric at face value find themselves chafing at its corporate model of working hand-in-glove with establishment politicians.

The resulting friction has fed into the upheaval taking place within gun politics (and American conservatism as a whole) since the rise of the Tea Party, which has left the NRA frequently following, rather than steering, the emboldened extremes of its coalition. Activists in several states told The Trace that the NRA — which did not respond to requests for comment for this story — has not helped their cause. In one state, they point to direct evidence that the NRA has undercut their proposals.

Hmmm. Even the NRA does not like these bills? It looks like Stand Your Ground is dead in the Minnesota legislature for this session. I wonder why? Many of us have sent post cards, sent emails and made phone calls. We have visited offices, held rallies against these dangerous bills, and held up signs outside of the House chambers. It is not a popular bill but again, pushed by extremists.

Then who are these extremists? They are in the minority when it comes to support for sensible gun laws. They are not members of your grandfather’s or even your father’s NRA. They are anti-Obama, anti government, anti immigration fanatics pushing for laws that they believe would allow them to protect themselves from zombies and “the other”. Scary stuff if you ask me. They are the “don’t tread on me” guys. They carry the Gadsden Flag for effect and as a symbol understood by other extremists.  Take a look in case you don’t know about it:  Anarcho-Gadsden_flag.svg

A local gun owner and now former NRA member wrote this great piece the other day in my local paper. He understands common sense and extremism and he has chosen the former. From his opinion piece:

The measure was supported by the NRA and its favored legislators. For decades I was a member of the National Rifle Association and had its conspicuous round insignia on my cars and trucks. I was even enrolled into the “National Rifle Association of America Millennium Honor Roll.” It wasn’t that I thought the NRA and its members had some ill intent when I decided to discontinue my membership; it was because of the evermore unlikeable image of the NRA to many people. An organization that used to mostly represented hunters and sport shooters, and even wildlife conservation has become a spokesperson for the manufacturers and marketers of military-like assault weapons. If you want to see this trend, just go to a gun show and see all the black and camouflaged semi-automatics that are replacing the aesthetically appealing guns with contoured fine wooden stocks and elegant inlays and engraving. These new quasi-machine guns have all sorts of unusual configurations and often are collapsible to be more easily concealed. The guns displayed at shows more and more like those in news photos of confiscated gang weapons.

Another sad aspect with the NRA: after every major shooting tragedy, out comes its leader, Wayne LaPierre, to warn us that the Constitution will be in jeopardy if some sensible legislation to reduce gun violence is passed.

The NRA does not represent gun owners any more and they are beginning to wise up as more and more extreme bills are pushed in our legislatures and Congress.

And the writer sums up the culture of gun extremism nicely as he says:

The stated purpose of the permitless carry bill in St. Paul is public safety. But this will not be achieved by having even more gun carriers who won’t bother with gun-safety training or the permitting process or who may be mentally ill.

Statistics notwithstanding, even an occasional widely reported “accident” — such as the Target shopper wounded when another customer’s gun went off or the horror of the Walmart shopper whose child got the pistol out of her purse and killed himself — has even more of us deciding we would prefer not to have guns casually carried around by the firearms-inept. It also defies logic to pretend that evermore pervasive guns will reduce the incidence of bar and road-rage shootings and urban gunfights.

The proposed law in Minnesota would have other adverse effects: Even more of those annoying, black-and-white “guns not allowed” signs would crop up. More potential visitors might think Minnesota is returning to gunslinging Wild-West days. The perception could grow stronger that we gun owners aren’t satisfied to have our guns safely at home, out with us hunting, or at a safe shooting range. And it certainly would not enhance our image of “Minnesota Nice.”

( The political cartoon at the top accompanied this opinion piece and certainly does express the truth of the permitless carry bills).

How will we know “good guys” with guns from “bad guys” with guns if everyone is armed and no one has training or a permit. Further they can “stand their ground” and shoot someone without consequence. ( Or so they are led to believe).

It doesn’t always work out well for those who have claimed justifiable self defense. One such case is the 2014 Minnesota man who was lying in wait for two teens who were burglarizing his house. He lured them to his basement and shot them dead and shot many times claiming it was in self defense. It was brutal and bloody.

He shot the teens multiple times point blank and referred to them as vermin.

Good guy with a gun?

He was found guilty by a jury and went to prison. Luckily for all, Minnesota did not have a Stand Your Ground law but even then, when it is so obvious that a killing is not justifiable as in the case of Jordan Davis in Florida, shot by a white man because he did not like the loud music a car full of black teens were playing. 

He is in prison. Good guy with a gun?

Florida has a Stand Your Ground law.

The shooters made a terrible mistake and their mistaken ideas or perceptions turned deadly costing lives and sending them to prison. If you are prepared to go to prison over your deadly mistake, then by all means, carry a gun with no training or permit and stand your ground over perceived fear. Try to explain it to a jury and live with what you did.

This is extremism. We don’t need it or want it in our communities. It is making us all less safe. Even terrorists are benefiting from the NRA/gun lobby extremism as ISIS is informing their members that they can easily by guns at American gun shows and on-line with no Brady background checks. This is what the NRA claimed:

For the right-winger who wants to feel tough on terrorism but soft on guns, this tension has long been difficult to resolve. It became a lot harder at the beginning of May, when ISIS openly praised the U.S.’ lack of gun control. In response, the NRA released a video trotting out a wild conspiracy theory, claiming that ISIS is praising lax gun laws in an effort to dupe gullible Americans into supporting gun control.

Ludicrous. Dangerous. Stupid. You can’t make this stuff up.

An Ohio man fits the description of an extremist and home grown terrorist. Check this out:

More than 60 guns were found in the home of a man who fatally shot his former girlfriend, her co-worker and a newly appointed police chief before turning a gun on himself, authorities said.

The guns were found Friday at the home of 43-year-old Thomas Hartless by sheriff’s deputies and investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation hours after the killings at a nursing home in Kirkersville, The Newark Advocate reported.

Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric DiSario died from a shotgun wound outside the nursing home. Nurse Marlina Medrano, who had previously sought protective orders against Hartless in connection with domestic violence cases, was shot multiple times with a handgun and a shotgun. Nurse’s aide Cindy Krantz was killed with a shotgun.

More than 60 guns. Domestic violence and protective orders. Police chief shot and killed and 2 others and then himself.

Extremism. Good guy with a gun?

And speaking of extremists, Donald Trump is actually considering appointing one of them (Sheriff David Clarke) to a high position in the Department of Homeland Security according to this article from The Trace:

Clarke’s resume as a public safety official is riddled with scandals and accusations of serious abuse. In May, a grand jury recommended that Clarke face criminal charges for his role in the death of a mentally ill inmate at the county jail after guards withheld water from the man for a week. In 2013, a woman falsely accused of drunken driving by one of Clarke’s deputies — the officer had crashed into her while watching a movie in his car — sued Clarke for civil rights violations. The outspoken sheriff, an avid Dallas Cowboys fan, also drew criticism after he had deputies detain a man who asked why he didn’t support Wisconsin’s own Green Bay Packers. After 15 years in office, he was headed toward a possible 2018 re-election campaign with two-thirds of local voters disapproving of his performance.

But as a right-wing firebrand, Clarke’s star has been steadily rising. He owes that in no small part to the National Rifle Association. Clarke, a regular Fox News contributor and public speaker, is part of a stable of public figures tapped by the NRA as the group has expanded its purview beyond gun rights and claimed for itself a role as a conservative vanguard that eagerly jumps into many of the nation’s most divisive cultural and ideological fights. (…)

Riding the NRA’s platform to national prominence, Clarke has used his turn in the spotlight to compare Black Lives Matter to ISIS (he called people protesting police shootings, “subhuman creeps”) and echo the NRA in dubiously linking immigration to violent crime. At a mid-October 2016 campaign rally, when Trump’s poll numbers were sinking, Clarke warned that the election would be rigged. “It’s pitchfork and torches times,” he said.

In the wake of Trump’s victory, reports emerged that Clarke had travelled to Russia and Israel in late 2015 with a delegation of gun-rights A-listers, including the former NRA president David Keene. In Russia, the group met with representatives of the much smaller Russian gun-rights community, including Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian deputy prime minister who supervises the defense industry and is under sanctions from the United States for his role in the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Clarke’s expenses for the trip, estimated at nearly $40,000, were paid for with funds from the NRA’s top tier of donors, the Ring of Freedom, and the Right to Bear Arms, a Russian gun-rights organization.

What are they thinking? If this is the kind of law enforcement officer running things in Milwaukee and then possibly at a national level, or public safety is in serious trouble. We don’t need these kinds of extremists getting away with running important institutions and departments anywhere.

It would be a travesty if Clarke is appointed and doesn’t need Senate confirmation. The Trump administration is in enough hot water over their failure to properly and thoroughly vet at least one high level official ( General Michael Flynn). This carelessness and obedience to power and money is absolutely not draining the swamp. It is overflowing what we already have and leading to cynicism and decision making based on power, control and money.

Who’s in charge? Where is common sense? What kind of communities do we want for our children and families?

If the Trump administration stands their ground about Clarke, we will know exactly why their is potential corruption and total lack of decorum and concern for our country’s security. Trump himself has potentially compromised our national security by allegedly giving classified information to the Russians. What could possibly go wrong with Sheriff Clarke in town?

It’s absolutely necessary that we have qualified, serious and ethical people running our country. Homeland security is serious business. Putting a gun extremist in a high level position is ludicrous. Is this a payback for support of the NRA? Just asking.

Our safety and democracy depend on it and we must demand that our safety comes first before adherence to the agenda of an extremist group.

The majority of gun owners and the majority of Americans don’t want extreme and dangerous gun bills.

It’s time to stand up and stand against extremism wherever it rears its’ head.

Join groups like Protect Minnesota, working to end gun violence in my state. And the Brady Campaign, a chapter of which I lead in Minnesota and sit on the national board. The Brady Center’s new Disarm Hate and Arm People with Facts crowdrise campaign. The facts are that guns in homes and on our streets are causing risk to our families and communities. This crowdrise campaign is in part in memory of the 49 people shot and killed at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last June 11th. As we approach the first anniversary of that shooting, it’s important to remember how easily one hateful extremist could snuff out so many lives.

#Enough

 

 

Florida and guns

 I have been on a family trip to Marco Island, Florida this past week. It has one of the best and most beautiful beaches in the US. There are sea shells everywhere and a wide beach of hard white sand. Some call the state of Florida the “gun shine” state. I was expecting to see people walking around with holstered guns. But I have not seen one person with a gun. In fact, guns are not welcome on the beaches as my photo indicates. Why in God’s name would someone want to bring a gun to this beautiful pristine place?

But never mind all of that. So far at least, Florida remains a state without open carry. And in another modicum of common sense, the legislature failed to pass a campus carry law. It’s always nice to see the gun lobby get turned down in their efforts to get guns into every nook and cranny of our communities. I see more guns carried in public places in Minnesota than I have here in Florida.

Florida is known for looser gun laws and more gun deaths than many states. It is the home to the shootings of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis- the shooters of both young black men claimed as self defense. Luckily for the family of Jordan Davis, the shooter did not get away with murder. And we know about what a fine upstanding citizen George Zimmerman is. Florida is a laboratory for the NRA. What we see in Florida often shows up in other states. That is what Stand Your Ground in Florida started. A national trend.

Lately there was an awful shooting here on Dec 31st in Florida when a mother shot her daughter in what she thought was a self defense shooting. Yes. This is more often the case than guns used for actual self defense. All gun deaths are terrible tragedies. But theses kinds of “accidental” shootings are avoidable and totally senseless.

So I am wondering if it’s true that a lot of people carry guns in Florida or if that is just another gun lobby myth and exaggeration?  Politifact found that Florida does, indeed, have the largest number of carry permits in the country. So I could be surrounded by armed people- or not. It wouldn’t be much different than sitting in a legislative hearing room in the Minnesota Capitol.

Common sense tells us, of course, that carrying while enjoying  life with the family isn’t a good idea. And it can’t be much fun to always be worried about danger lurking everywhere. Kids running around playing. People in kayaks, paddle boards, parasailing, sipping Pina Coladas, and all of those relaxing things people do. Having a gun at the ready is just not one of them.

Meanwhile back in Minnesota, gun carriers are shoveling 12 inches of snow.

Tomorrow I will fly back home to deal with whatever bills are proposed in Minnesota. Let’s hope we can pass a background check bill to require that all gun buyers undergo a criminal background check. That is one way to save lives and keep everyone who wants to buy or sell a gun honest and law abiding. There’s nothing wrong with that idea though we know the “registration” and “confiscation” argument has already been raised by the gun lobbyists. It isn’t true. Time for all of us to take a break from the old arguments, relax, and have the reasonable conversation we should be having.

America, America

Presidential elections in the United States

So, Jeb Bush tweeted a photo of his new gun. It’s a nice shiny handgun, apparently his first, with his name engraved on the metal. It was a gift from a gun manufacturing company. When he tweeted this photo, he just used the word “America.” I am betting he didn’t expect the reaction to this ill considered tweet. The gun manufacturing company in question, located in South Carolina ( of course- where the Republicans are fighting to get delegates) is FN America ( when trying to link to their website, it appears to be “unavailable”). Anyway, you can see, on the linked site, the types of guns manufactured by this company. Their trademark is:”The World’s Most Battle-Proven Firearms“.

America. Where daily “battles” occur on our streets leaving behind 32 homicide victims a day and 89 a day dead from bullet wounds due to homicide, suicide and “accidental” discharges.

Let’s take a better look at this company from an article in The Trace:

Bush had just toured the Columbia, South Carolina, manufacturing facility of FN America, a subsidiary of the Belgian arms manufacturer FN Herstal, orFabrique Nationale d’Herstal. Bush’s tweet blew up, with many responses noting the dubiousness of associating “America” with a foreign gun company. But that’s not the most questionable thing about Bush’s embrace of an FN Herstal product.

The company produces a wide variety of guns, for both military and civilian markets. But one of its models, the FN Five-seven, a semi-automatic pistol utilizing a 5.7-mm round, has a particularly sordid history. Developed for NATO, the gun’s power and unusual cartridge type has made it a popular gun with Mexican drug cartels, some of whom arm themselves with Five-sevens bought in the United States and smuggled across the border.

The bullets from the handgun described above, produced by this company, can penetrate body armor and cause great damage to body tissue. It is not (or should not be) a gun for civilians but, as we already know, some civilians get their hands on these guns. More from the article:

In 2009, the gun’s ability to puncture body armor helped make it the weapon of choice for Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. In an interview with NPR, Tom Diaz, a former senior policy analyst at the Violence Prevention Center, argued that the story of the Five-seven neatly demonstrates the problems posed by the transfer of increasingly sophisticated military-grade weapons to the civilian market.

Posting a photo of a gun gifted to you in a Presidential campaign on Twitter and saying “America” is just a really bad idea. It’s pandering at its’ worst. We know that candidates think they must show their “gun creds” in order to get elected. Or do they? In this case it backfired badly.

Jeb Bush was the Governor of Florida who pandered badly when he signed into law the first Stand Your Ground law. He was a lapdog to the gun lobby. Since that law passed, there have been high profile shootings like that of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and the gun homicide rate increased. Florida is a testing ground for gun laws proposed by the corporate gun lobby. Once a law passes in Florida, we can expect to see it show up in other state legislatures. And show up it did. 33 states have passed Stand Your Ground laws. Thankfully my state of Minnesota was saved (at least so far) from this insidious law by a veto from Governor Dayton.

But back to the pandering. We need to decide as a country whether what matters most in our leaders is their owning a gun and showing us pictures of it ( them) or whether candidates actually care about saving lives and preventing shootings. I would suggest that Jeb Bush did not show much common sense when he tweeted his now viral gun photo.

And speaking of Florida, a Florida man set up a gun range in his back yard because…. America. One of the bullets left his range and landed inside a nearby home where, luckily for the shooter, it only injured the hand of a young girl inside the home. And what happened as a result? Nothing. Because….. America, where gun rights trump public safety. From the article:

But the family’s home was directly behind the line of fire, and one of Lanham’s shots was fired too high and missed the target and berm and instead went through the glass door.

Authorities in other communities have been unable to stop residents from setting up shooting ranges in their front or back yards because Florida law prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights in any way.

A state pre-emption law, pushed by, you guessed it, the corporate gun lobby, does not allow local governments to pass gun laws any stricter than state laws. So people who want to shoot guns in their neighborhoods can go ahead in spite of the noise and the danger.

America, America.

( And,by the way, a gun lobby favorite, Open Carry, is now “dead”in Florida. In a rare moment of common sense, the Florida Senate rejected the gun lobby’s attempts at loosening gun laws.) From the article:

On Tuesday, February 16, Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla announced that the proposed bills to allow open-carry in Florida, and another bill that would allow guns in airports, are now officially dead.

You saw that right- guns in airports because……. America.

Edited addition to post:- I must add this incident in a Florida school before leaving the state of Florida behind in the discussion. A parent apparently was carrying a gun at his child’s school and the gun “accidentally” fell out of a hole in his pocket. The gun was found by another adult who “accidentally” fired the gun with no one injured. Good grief. This is America all right. Gun owners are not always responsible with their guns but when we encourage a gun culture where parents are carrying guns around while bringing their kids to school, this is the America we get.

My state has pre-emption as well. It’s a bad idea. And speaking of my state of Minnesota, among the very many really bad shootings that have occurred in the past few days  (toddlers killing others, “accidental” discharges killing loved ones, domestic shootings, etc.) this one happened. A man threatened his wife with a gun while she was breast feeding their baby. There is so much wrong with this story that it’s really hard to write about it. But here goes. From the article:

In April 2015, Lehmeier assaulted a child who was 7 years old at the time, and because of it, their five minor children were removed from the home, according to the criminal complaint. He was charged with malicious punishment of a child for that incident and pleaded guilty to fifth-degree assault in November 2015.

July 2, 2015, was the first night they were able to bring their baby home since the child had been removed from their home; the other children had not yet been returned to the home, according to the criminal complaint.

The woman said she was sitting on the couch holding the baby and that Lehmeier became upset because she was spending time with the child and not with him. She said Lehmeier blamed her for the children being removed, and she responded that she wasn’t the one who had been criminally charged.

The woman said Lehmeier then grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded it and pointed it at her and the child. She said he then pulled the trigger but that the gun didn’t go off, according to the complaint.

She said he then loaded a revolver, saying, “One bullet is all I need to end this,” according to the complaint. She asked him if she could at least put the child to bed first so he wouldn’t be hurt.

Lehmeier then left the room and fired the gun out of the bedroom window, according to the complaint.

The woman said she never reported the abuse because Lehmeier always threatened to kill her or the children.

This is the 2nd case of domestic abuse involving guns in Minnesota in several days. I wrote about the other one, ending with the death of the abused woman and the abuser, in my previous post. Women are afraid to leave abusive relationships. They are often threatened with guns because……. America. Some people should not have guns. Domestic abusers are among them. Efforts have been made to get guns away from abusers but it’s not easy to do. Minnesota passed a law to do just that but this woman did not report the abuse so authorities would not have known of the danger posed by this man.

After Jeb Bush tweeted his gun photo the Brady Campaign released a video of what America is really experiencing concerning guns and gun violence. You can see it here. This is the real America. It doesn’t have to be this way. I believe the public has had #enough of the carnage and the violence and candidates pandering in the worst way using guns to get votes while ignoring the victims whose lives were lost because someone had a gun and shot them.

We are better than this. “From sea to shining sea…” people are dying from gunshot injuries. Let’t get our heads and our hearts together to figure out the best way to prevent those deaths and make America a country safer from devastating gun violence.

 

Gun laws in Florida- and guns at Disney World

Disney

I think we all know that Florida’s gun laws leave something to be desired. I will be traveling there with my grandchildren to visit Disney World and I’m looking forward to it. Like everyone else, we understand Disney World to be a happy place where people are safe from a lot of things that happen in the outside world. It is, as is intimated by the title, a world of its’ own. But just in case, Disney has issued some common sense safety advise so your experience will be a good one. Here’s a list of incidents and “altercations” at Disney World. See if you can find a reason for carrying a gun in the parks.

The Brady Campaign has issued its’ new state report card along with a video and website called CrimAdvisor. You can watch the video here:

According to CrimAdvisor, Florida is one of the best states in the country for felons to buy, carry and traffic guns. No surprises here really. According to the Brady Campaign’s rating system, Florida gets a score of -20.5 out of a possible 100 points. You read that right. It’s a minus 20.5. You can see a more detailed explanation of the report in the link above. Also Florida’s rate of gun deaths per 100,000 at 12.49 ranks the state as 20/50. Since the nation’s first Stand Your Ground law was passed in 2005, according to this article, gun deaths have increased in Florida. Here is one more article among quite a few about Florida’s recent increase in the gun death rate. States that have high gun ownership rates and weak gun laws also have higher rates of gun deaths.

I noticed a post somewhere a while ago with a comment from a gun rights extremist saying that he carries his gun at Disney World in spite of Disney World warning on its’ website that guns are permitted inside. Never mind. These guys know better than anyone else that they can and will carry wherever they want. And if they can’t they will pass laws to make sure they do. It’s an insane view of the world and is not making us safer. Disney World can prohibit guns in their parks.  In 2013 a grandmother on an Animal Kingdom ride found a loaded gun. She was with her grandchild. This is not the experience I want to have with my grandchildren. From the article:

The discovery of a gun aboard a ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has raised questions about what park security does to keep firearms from slipping inside and whether its no-weapons policy for visitors is clear.

A grandmother handed a Cobra .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol to a park attendant Sunday after getting off the Dinosaur ride. “My grandma found it in her seat,” her young grandson told park security.

Minutes later, an apologetic Angelo Lista returned to claim the firearm, which was loaded with five hollow-point bullets — but none was in the chamber. He told the Sentinel it had fallen out of his buttoned back pocket during the bumpy ride. He was escorted out of the theme park.

He returned to the parks the next day without the gun.

Lista, 44 of Royal Palm Beach said he had no idea Disney prohibited guns on its property, raising questions about whether the company’s restrictions on firearms are explicit enough.

Disney spokeswoman Kathleen Prihoda said in a statement Wednesday that the company’s policy is no guns are permitted. The company’s website says “weapons of any kind” are not allowed on Disney property.

Disney officials would not say whether there are posted signs on property spelling out their restrictions. Prihoda would not say how often security intercepts a firearm brought into the parks or what happens when a gun owner is found to have one on property. She wouldn’t discuss any security measures.

The incident may not indicate a broader safety gap, said Dr. Abraham Pizam, dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.

“Does it happen? Yes, it does. Does it happen frequently? Absolutely not,” Pizam said. “Security is one of the issues that if it works, everyone takes it for granted. But it if doesn’t work, everyone is a critic.”

Thousands of people are free to walk through the parks’ front turnstiles uninhibited unless they are carrying bags. Disney employees inspect and feel the bags for anything on the restricted list. There are no metal detectors at the entrances, and guests are rarely searched.

This bears repeating: “He returned to the parks the next day without the gun.” So the obvious question here is why this man NEEDED a gun while at Disney World. After stupidly leaving his loaded gun on a ride and getting caught, he evidently decided that gun wasn’t so important after all. Isn’t Disney the happiest place on earth? What’s the fear? What’s going to happen at Disney World that would require a gun? Most likely nothing. But this is the world of the gun rights extremists. They have been led to falsely believe that there is danger around every corner. The corporate gun lobby is masterful at deceiving people into this view of the world. Why? It drives up gun sales. Follow the money.

Let’s take a look at some pretty well known shootings in Florida:

There are many others. After the Stand Your Ground law passed, a long list of victims whose shooters have claimed self defense is available for our perusal. Take a look at this compilation of photos and information about shooting victims provided by the Tampa Times. I think we can safely say that blood is running in the streets. The gun lobby denies this of course. But facts matter. Real people are being shot every day. They have names, families, and most were contributing members of society whose potential will never be reached.

This is sobering information for visitors to Florida like myself. Let’s hope that all will be safe in the parks of Disney World. It will be interesting to see if anyone is noticeably carrying a gun around where my family and I will be enjoying the sun and the fun. I think most people believe in common sense when it comes to guns at Disney World. There is no need for loaded guns in a place where so many families from all over the world are gathered for enjoyment. Even gun rights extremists must believe this.

And I do like this image, courtesy of the Brady Campaign’s CrimAdvisor site.

Cross posted at www.commongunsense.com