The absurd idea of arming teachers

lion roaringThe majority of Americans can agree that our children ought to be safe in their schools from shootings. What we can’t agree on is how to make that happen. In recent days since the Parkland, Florida school shooting that took the lives of 17 innocent high school kids, the rhetoric has been noisier and more insistent than ever before. What is happening now is a movement such as we have not seen before. It has a life of its’ own. It’s the teens who are speaking out without worry of push-back from the adults. It’s the adults who are following- or not- what the teens are saying and demanding.

Some adults have tried their usual conspiracy theory ideas out on the teens but it’s not working. They are fighting back. It’s hard for me to imagine the frame of mind of an adult attacking a teen who has just experienced one of the worst school shootings in America. But then again, there a lot of extreme and mean people in the world who have become so radicalized that they literally cannot stop themselves from acting like total idiots.

What the teens, teachers, general public and most politicians are NOT clamoring for is arming teachers. But President Trump has been way out there with the absurd notion that kids would be safer with armed teachers. And in his ramblings as he starts talking and tweeting with no facts or common sense, he has said the most absurd things I have heard on this topic.

The President is mouthing the propaganda of the NRA. For decades, that organization, run by lobbyists, extremists and gun manufacturers, have been trying to get guns into our schools. It would be, of course, yet another market for the sale of guns and possible training classes sponsored by the NRA. Follow the money.

This stupid and dangerous idea is not even supported by most veterans, who understand what it’s like to face down an “armed enemy” and kill another human being. From the article:

Critics seized on Peterson’s failure to act. The left held it up as evidence that armed guards won’t prevent shootings, while people on the right—including President Trump—used Peterson as a scapegoat, the exception that proves the rule. Peterson, according to Trump, either “didn’t react properly under pressure or [was] a coward.”

It’s a simple, if reductive explanation, and an easy one for those who’ve never experienced the mental and physical toll of a firefight scenario. But as some with combat experience, like retired General Mark Hertling, the one time commander of the United States Army in Europe, pointed out on Twitter, freezing up in a potential combat scenario, or failing to perform your duty, is not unusual.

“While soldiers/security are trained to run to the sound of the guns…not all do for a variety of psychological reasons. It happens more often than most would think, and it’s part of human nature,” he said.

Human nature? Let’s ignore that and pretend all teachers have nerves of steel and would defy logic and human nature. Because then we can continue with our fantasy about armed teachers.

Even law enforcement officers only hit their marks about 18% of the time.:

Yet, even with all of their training, it’s hard for police officers to hit a target and harder still in chaotic conditions.

The New York Police Department is the nation’s largest police force and among the best trained, yet its own study showed between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate was 18 percent for officers in a gunfight.

So what makes the President think that teachers would do better given the panic of a school shooter, kids shouting, running, trying to escape or find cover? Here are all the reasons why this is a terrible, absurd idea:

I could go on but these are just common sense reasons why arming teachers is absurd. I am a retired educator and went through many lock-down drills while working. I knew that my job was to get the kids out of the halls, into a room, lock the door, turn off the lights, hide in a closet ( which I didn’t have) or behind furniture and stay with the kids to keep them from running or panicking. Had I stepped away from this responsibility I would have left the kids on their own and would have caused more problems for all.

Officers don’t know who the “good guy” with a gun is in these situations and will shoot anyone they see with a weapon. No one knows who the good guy is. Kids and others may run and in a split second a mistake could be made. I could shoot and kill a child or someone else by mistake. That happens in these situations and even with trained officers.

I would be absurd to arm teachers.

But let me talk about more absurdities. The President seems to have cornered the market on absurdity when it comes to this issue. And that is saying it kindly. Cynicism is another word for all of this. If we just deflect the conversation from actually doing something about keeping guns away from those who shouldn’t have them in the first place, we wouldn’t need to have this conversation in the first place. But that is not what the NRA and corporate gun lobby wants and so the President is doing their bidding and talking about what they want him to talk about.

Just watch the video from an article about comedian John Oliver’s attack on the President’s idea (some offensive language) :

He, Trump that is, met with the ridiculous NRA VP Wayne LaPierre and other NRA leaders a few days ago. I can imagine the conversation.

“Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll make statements about arming teachers to distract from the things you guys don’t want. It will be fine. I’ll talk about doing something about gun violence- like raising the age of purchase for assault rifles to 21 but I won’t really mean it and I won’t push it. I’ll talk about requiring background checks on all gun sales but in a few weeks, people will forget about it and it won’t happen. I’ll mention the Fix NICS bill that has been languishing in Congress for a long time but don’t worry, I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen either. I know you guys will support me and my lapdogs when I run again so I’ll just lie. I do it all the time and about 38% of Americans believe me. My base will be happy when none of this happens and we’ll all move on. O.K.? Believe me. ”

Other absurdities from the President include:

  • Making up some cockemamy idea that 20% of teachers should be armed.
  • Talking about only people who can handle guns well should have them in schools.
  • Talking about arming teachers who are former or current military because there are so many of them teaching in our schools.
  • Claiming that the real problem is the lack of courage of the armed officers who didn’t go into the school to challenge the shooter.
  • Saying( from link above):  “”I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too,” He was sure of that. ( I mean, he alone can take care of everything.) Just leave it to him. All will be fine. He will be around for every school or mass shooting and run into the building to save the day.
  • We just need to “harden” our schools and all will be fine. Let’s surround them all with the fencing used at our prisons and have no windows or bullet-proof windows. That should make the learning atmosphere pleasant and inviting for students and the public.

And I do love the idea of the Oath Keepers stationing armed “volunteers” outside of every school to protect the buildings. Good grief. Who are these guys?

All of this nonsense is cynical and intended to deceive us into complacency once again. It’s to get us to shut up and go away. They don’t want to see the faces or hear the words of the students, who are a lot brighter and more articulate than most of their elected leaders. I just read this piece from Emma Gonzáles, one of the Parkland students, whose wisdom is beyond her years.:

What matters is that the majority of American people have become complacent in a senseless injustice that occurs all around them. What matters is that most American politicians have become more easily swayed by money than by the people who voted them into office. What matters is that my friends are dead, along with hundreds upon hundreds of others all over the United States. (…) “If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels, and if you haven’t, then you cannot possibly imagine it,” wrote Lemony Snicket in The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events. There are people who do not know, and will never know, what it feels like to go through this. For that I am eternally thankful. But to the people out there who disagree with us: if you have ever felt what it’s like to deal with all of this, you would know we aren’t doing this for attention. If these funerals were for your friends, you would know this grief is real, not paid for. We are children who are being expected to act like adults, while the adults are proving themselves to behave like children.

Where are the adults? Where is common sense? You cannot possibly imagine it. But I can.

The NRA is meeting its’ match at long last. Right now they have a mouth piece in the White House and they have Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell- cowards in the face of tragedy- calling the shots ( excuse the pun). From the linked article:

Ryan also emphasized that sentiment: “There was a colossal breakdown in the system locally… and we need to get to the bottom of this to [find out] how these breakdowns occurred, from … the armed officer who was in the school at that time, to the FBI who failed to follow up on a glaring tip that this young man wanted to shoot up a school.”

Thank you Paul Ryan. More deceptions and deflections and cynicism. More putting it off for another day until another dozen or more students are shot in a school or a gunman enters a mall or church and mows down innocent citizens. The thing is, we know where the “colossal breakdown” is- it’s you and your cynical colleagues in Congress.

But that is not going to last for long. If candidates for election or re-election think they can get away with silence or lying or mimicking gun lobby talking points, they are mistaken. We have seen the man behind the curtain and he is evil and he is weak. He lacks the courage of the cowardly lion. He is corrupt with money and influence of the NRA. And maybe even the Russians. He is scared of the wrong things. He has scared a minority of Americans into thinking the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

“We’ve met the enemy and he is us”. He is a minority of us as it turns out. But he is still in power and in control of our government. We need to throw him out. We need to keep the curtain drawn. We need to see him naked without the emperor’s clothing that has been fooling us.

We are not fooled. We are marching and we are calling and we are writing and we are talking and chanting and lobbying and traveling to DC and rallying and sending lots of emails to legislators and Congress.

And we will vote in November.

Hear our voices.

Hear us roar.

Gun laws and enforcing the laws

speed limit cartoonOne of the excuses given by the gun lobby while resisting common sense attempts to expand and strengthen gun laws, is to insist that we are not enforcing the laws already on the books. Let’s take a look at this excuse. A CNN article about President Obama’s January town hall on guns talks about the enforcement of laws like this:


The President expressed frustration at the “Guns in America” forum hosted by CNN on Thursday night at his opponents telling him to enforce existing laws, saying those same opponents are trying to undermine them.
“One of the most frustrating things that I hear is when people say — who are opposed to any further laws — ‘Why don’t you just enforce the laws that are on the books?'” Obama said. “And those very same members of Congress then cut (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) budgets to make it impossible to enforce the law.”

Obama said some of his new proposals are designed to get at the issue of resources and the difficulties using existing law, including adding ATF agents and clarifying statutes to make them more usable. (…)

Pro-gun-control experts and some former law enforcement officials say that a lack of resources combined with vague and toothless laws make federal gun prosecutions difficult. And they accuse gun lobbies of intentionally watering down legislation and hamstringing agencies so the laws are useless, a point lobbyists contacted by CNN declined to address.
Further into the article, it is revealed that there are, indeed, laws that are not enforced as they should be. Why is that? Does that happen with other things? Are speeding laws always enforced? Are littering laws always enforced? Are penalties for underage smoking or driving while drunk always enforced? And if they aren’t does that mean we shouldn’t pass new laws? I don’t think so. But further, from the article:
One is simply a resource problem: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, which investigates licensed gun dealers, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System are woefully understaffed and replete with red tape, gun control supporters say.
The groups also say the federal laws themselves have such high standards to meet in court that it’s a disincentive for resource-strapped federal prosecutor offices to bring cases, as they don’t want to waste their time on cases they are not likely to win.
“It is true that gun laws are vastly under-enforced, but the reason that they’re under-enforced is not because the administration or law enforcement has failed: It’s because they’re written in a way that makes them impossible to enforce — intentionally,” Trumble said. “They’re too vague to prosecute, the standards are too high to meet, the penalties are too low to be a deterrent and there’s too little evidence to prosecute.”
The Gun Control Act requires those “engaged in the business” of selling firearms to obtain a license from ATF, and licensed dealers are required to run background checks and follow federal laws on dealing weapons. But what constitutes “engaged in the business” has been unclear, and prosecutors say it can be tough to prove unlicensed individuals who sell multiple weapons online and at gun shows have broken the law.
Who writes our gun laws? Why are they vague and the standards too high and penalties too low? We know the answer. The NRA is busy helping legislators write the laws and it’s true that the wording is often vague and difficult to enforce. If you don’t want laws to be enforced because of an ideological position on gun rights, this is what happens. I have long thought that passing laws also changes the cultural norms as it has with drinking while driving and smoking inside of public places. It goes both ways, changing the cultural norms can also lead to changes of hearts and minds amongst our legislators so they get brave enough to pass strong gun laws just as they passed strong traffic laws, strong drunk driving laws, strong laws banning smoking inside, strong laws for safety of our food and water. We expect that most people will follow the laws for the benefit of public safety.
So this comment, also from the above article, reflects the truth:
“So much about law is about setting cultural norms,” Alcorn said. “Just like the reasons you stop at red lights and don’t speed isn’t because there’s a traffic cop behind every corner.”
Instead, he said, it’s “the sense that a law is legitimate, that it enforces public safety that we all share and all appreciate, and a sense of ownership and mutual responsibility are sort of ultimately self-fulfilling.”
Traffic laws are not just in place to punish “law abiding” drivers. They are there to keep us safe and keep others safe from people who could be dangerous and stupid while driving. Most people follow those laws as it turns out. These laws save lives and also cut down on litigation, insurance and health care costs. The same is true of current gun laws. They are there for all to follow and if a gun owner is law abiding, then there will not be problems. But for those who could be stupid and dangerous with their guns and their rights, the rest of us need some public safety measures to keep us all safe. And that is all this is about in spite of what the gun rights extremists like to claim about the agenda of passing stronger gun laws.
Let’s look at an example of a state where laws are now being better enforced and it’s working. An article from The Trace documented where state laws are not being enforced as they should be and efforts to change that:
Submitting false information on a background check is a felony under federal law, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. But as many as 160,000 people are denied a gun purchase each year because they failed a check. Few are ever apprehended, much less prosecuted. Available federal and state data suggest that the percentage of arrests as a proportion of denied sales is extremely low — likely in the single digits.
Pennsylvania is one of eight states where lawmakers and police have sought to boost arrests and prosecutions by passing laws and implementing so-called “lie and try” policies requiring local law enforcement agencies to be notified whenever someone fails a background check. The goal is to give police a tool they can use to arrest dangerous individuals before they can secure a gun and possibly harm someone. In 32 states, a person who is blocked from buying a firearm at a licensed dealer can turn to a private seller who is not required to run a background check. One 2009 study found a strong proclivity towards further illegal behavior by denied gun purchasers, determining that a third of convicted criminals rejected when attempting to buy a gun are caught breaking another law during the next five years.
So it appears that some laws have not been enforced. The thing is, many in the gun rights community say that the denied background checks are false positives and not actual prohibited purchasers who try to buy the guns. This new effort may just prove that wrong. If people are arrested immediately, they will know that continuing to try this route to getting a gun won’t work and we can save lives. More from the article:

Pennsylvania state police have investigated at least some denied gun purchases for over a decade, but until recent years, it was only a small percentage of the overall number. Then in late 2013, police there decided to investigate every failed background check, says Scott Price, a state police major. If a purchaser is denied because of an outstanding warrant, state police now immediately dispatch local officers to arrest the individual at the gun dealer, Price says.

Before the new policy was implemented, Price says, only blocked sales that raised the biggest red flags — like those for mental health commitments — were pursued. “But that left a whole body of denials that weren’t investigated,” he says. “So, we didn’t feel that that was the best public safety policy.” (…)

By acting quickly on notifications of denied sales, Price says, officers are often able to nab “lie-and-try” offenders before they get very far. “We’ve had a great deal of success in actually making these arrests at the point of attempted purchase.” He adds that his officers have encountered people disqualified from firearms ownership for the gamut of reasons. “Anything from a minor offense — a DUI warrant or a failure to appear in court — up through armed robbery.”

Most states with laws or policies for clamping down on “lie and try” buyers require only that law enforcement is notified about a rejected purchaser — there’s no mandate that police act on that information. But Virginia and Oregon join Pennsylvania in compelling police to investigate every denied sale. Last year in Virginia, police arrested 1,265 denied purchasers. Oregonpolice arrested 40 buyers on the spot, and referred hundreds more cases to local departments for investigation.

So what does the gun lobby have to say about enforcing the laws already on the books? From the article:

The National Rifle Association has never officially endorsed a “lie and try” policy, though in the past, the gun group has called on the federal government to address the low prosecution rate for prohibited persons who attempt to buy firearms. Shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, the gun lobby’s representatives asked the White House’s gun violence prevention task force to enforce federal laws that make it illegal to lie on a gun background check form.

“This is a program that I believe is largely something people on both sides of the aisle support,” says Scott Price, the Pennsylvania State Police major. “Even the NRA has always been a proponent of enforcing the laws that are on the books.”

Time will tell if this is true. The gun lobby opposes pretty much any measure that would make it very difficult for people who shouldn’t have guns to get them anyway. It’s hard to know what to make of that inconsistency in thought. Unless it’s more about profit than about saving lives.

Unfortunately, sending these cases to the ATF for further action is difficult, according to the article. Not many cases get prosecuted. But if we remember that, at the behest of the NRA and the corporate gun lobby, Congress has denied funding to hire more ATF agents so they can do their jobs properly and efficiently then we can understand what is happening

Shouldn’t we be enforcing laws that clearly state that loaded guns cannot be carried in carry-on luggage on planes? What’s the penalty for doing the same stupid thing twice? Shouldn’t this man’s permit to carry be pulled? If not, why not? If he is this careless with his gun, why do we know he is safe at all with it? From the article:

An Omaha pastor was stopped at an Eppley Airfield’s security station with a loaded handgun in his carry-on and is facing prosecution Sunday night because it’s not the first time he’s done it.

[Video: Omaha pastor stopped for second time at airport with gun in carry-on]

“I had to pay a fine,” the Rev. Alvin “Dobie” Weasel said. “I had to meet with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and do an interview with two officers. I had to do an interview with a Transportation Security Administration officer.”

Weasel, who has a concealed-carry permit, said he told authorities it was an honest mistake when he showed up at the airport with it in his bag, saying he thought his gun was at home in a safe.

“It’s about 40 pounds and it’s stuffed with everything,” Weasel said. “(I) think what happened was the gun fell in between two of the larger books.”

The slip-up on New Year’s Eve wasn’t the first time Weasel has made the mistake; in 2014, the same bag was found to contain a different gun.

“When it occurs twice with the same individual, it warrants prosecution,” Omaha interim city prosecutor Tom Mumgaard said.

So it looks like he will be prosecuted and they expect it could be a misdemeanor. And then what? Here’s a law that clearly needs enforcement. The TSA is finding more and more loaded guns in carry-on luggage now than ever before? Why? Because more people are carrying guns around and therefore there are more potentially dangerous and stupid people with guns around in public. Given that, let’s hope that offenders and repeat offenders like the Pastor in the article are prosecuted and held responsible for violating the law.

What if the law to take guns away from known domestic abusers worked as it should? What if we enforced it better? A man in Maryland urned his guns over to law enforcement but kept one and that one was used in a shooting spree in Maryland that left 3 dead and 3 injured.  From the article:

Two months earlier, according to local authorities, he had surrendered at least 10 guns under a judge’s order issued after Tordil’s wife accused him of physically and sexually abusing his family.

But Tordil, a Federal Protective Service officer, kept at least one weapon when he handed in the rest of his arsenal: a .40-caliber Glock he allegedly used to carry out the shootings on May 4 and 5.

Tordil bought the gun legally in Las Vegas in 2014, said State’s Attorney John McCarthy at a hearing on Monday where Tordil was denied bond.

Tordil kept the weapon by exploiting a weakness in state and federal laws designed to keep domestic abusers from using weapons: Local law enforcement had no way of knowing he owned it.

A “weakness if state and federal laws” has left a senseless tragedy that devastated several families. When it comes to deadly weapons owned by people who shouldn’t have them, there should be no weaknesses in the law. Why was there a weakness in the law? From the article:

Maryland has a handgun registry. But Nevada, where Tordil purchased the Glock, does not. Nor is there a federal registry of firearms, the spectre of which the National Rifle Association and its allies have used to knock down a range of legislation.

David Cheplak is a spokesman for the Baltimore Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which traced the gun, found in Tordil’s car, to a federally licensed dealer in Las Vegas. He said that if Tordil had bought the weapon in Maryland, he would have been required to register it there with state police.

Ah- registration of guns would have saved lives. And before you gun rights folks wet your pants about the mere suggestion of gun registration, maybe you ought to think about why it might be important for saving lives. It has nothing to do with the government taking YOUR guns away. It is to make sure we know if dangerous people have guns so we can save lives. I am raising it because we may need to have this conversation given cases like the one in Maryland. It is doubtful that anything like that can happen given the fears of gun rights advocates. But it could be helpful to talk about the fears and the implications in a civil manner. I’m just saying….

More from the article about the laws:

Maryland has a relatively robust law aimed at alleged domestic abusers. The authority to require suspects to give up guns has “enormous benefits for victims of domestic violence,” Taylor says, but is limited by the lack of a totally effective gun registry.

If Gladys Tordil or other family members had known of the extra gun Tordil kept, or if a record existed, then the sheriff’s office could have obtained a warrant from the judge and confiscated it as long as the protective order was still in effect.

But authorities had to rely on the word of a man accused of threatening to kill his wife that he was giving up his means to do so. That left Tordil free to stay armed and murder Gladys Tordil and two others.

So our laws rely on the abuser or the offender to be honest and say how many guns they have? Or to check on a form when purchasing a firearm that you are not adjudicated mentally ill, a felon or a domestic abuser? That is why we need to do background checks on all gun sales so that can be checked out by authorities. Lives depend on our getting guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. Stronger laws can do that.

Just to throw in another thought, what should we think when Uber drivers in Austin, Texas threaten to pull their business because of a new law requiring universal background checks on all drivers? Uber drivers are not always safe and law abiding as we see from the article:

Uber’s explosive growth has been met with concern about safety in many places where it has disrupted the existing order of transportation services, especially as incidents involving passengers being assaulted by drivers have been publicized. In 2014, Uber unilaterally decided to increase scrutiny in background checks for drivers, requiring all new and existing partners to undergo federal and county background checks. But those checks are not always effective. That was at least true in the case of John Dalton: an Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Michigan, who went on a killing spree in February while on the job. Dalton passed a background check because he had no criminal record. Uber does not collect fingerprints for drivers, or even require any face-to-face meeting before they are permitted to start accepting fares with its app.

Public safety is too important to let some people slip through the cracks. Lives depend on our getting this right.

I’m sure I don’t have to mention the irony of requiring universal background checks on Uber drivers but not on all gun sales.

So let’s enforce the laws on the books and make sure we are funding the efforts to do so. And then let’s pass stronger gun laws that are simple and direct so that it’s very clear what’s in the law. When that happens everyone will understand what the law means and what can be done to stop some from getting guns and make us all safer. In the end, that is the bottom line. Laws can change our dangerous gun culture. Changing the gun culture can lead to better laws to prevent gun injuries and deaths. That should be supported by everyone who cares about saving lives.




Lock them up- be a responsible gun owner

safeLock up your guns. A felon with a stolen assault rifle threatened to shoot his Seattle area girlfriend’s home:

A woman called 911 just after midnight to say her boyfriend was carrying a rifle and threatening to kill her. She said the couple had been arguing when the 45-year-old man pulled out an AK-47 style rifle and said he would “shoot up the house,” according to police. The woman’s children were home at the time. (…) After arresting the suspect and seizing the gun, police learned the rifle had been reported stolen in an April 8 burglary in the same neighborhood. Police also learned the suspect is a convicted felon and not legally allowed to possess a firearm.

He was booked into King County Jail for investigation of harassment, possession of a stolen firearm, and a weapons possession violation, according to police.

Stolen guns account for 10-15% of crime guns. Lock up your guns. Be a responsible gun owner. Why leave guns out unsecured and loaded anyway? I suppose that zombie is going to burst into your house so you have to be ready to shoot?

Here’s a scary incident in Pennsylvania where a group of teen-agers found an abandoned house containing an arsenal of guns. The kids took some of the guns and actually played with them in the woods. Kids are curious. Teens know enough about guns to know they are interesting and not toys. As the officer in the story said, everyone was lucky that no one was injured or worse. But please check the video that goes with this news story. This was an irresponsible gun owner for sure. The 93 year old man who owns the house was in a hospital and obviously not in his home.

Questions need to be asked. Why were his guns out in plain sight where anyone could find them? A felon(s) for example could have done a lot of harm with those guns. Stolen guns get into the illegal gun market and then used in crimes that sometimes result in deaths of innocent people. Why did this man feel a need for so many guns? Listen to the officer describe them. They are certainly not needed for self defense or hunting. Just looking at these guns tells a story about gun ownership in America. Some in our country believe they will need guns to fight against their own government or to use in what, as I wrote in my last post, against nightmare scenarios of ISIS terrorists, hurricanes, zombies, a pack of roaming home invaders, etc.

Questions should also be asked about how our U.S. Capitol security secure their firearms when on duty? It seems as if some carelessness is occurring, particularly in bathrooms. And right there in the bathroom in House Speaker John Boehner’s office? From the article:

When a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s security detail left his Glock and magazine stuffed in the toilet seat cover holder of a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom stall, a CVC worker found the gun, according to a source familiar with the Jan. 29 incident and two other disturbing instances when Capitol Police left loaded firearms in problematic places.

A 7- or 8-year-old child visiting the Capitol with his parents found the next loaded Glock lost by a dignitary protection officer, according to the source. A member of the security detail for John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, allegedly left the firearm in the bathroom of the Speaker’s Suite on March 24.

A third Glock was found the night of April 16 by a janitor cleaning the Capitol Police headquarters building on D Street NE. The weapon was left in plain sight, sparking additional concern about the department charged with protecting one of the world’s most important and frequently visited complexes.

Seriously. What gives with people taking off their guns while using the toilet? I guess they get in the way or they are heavy, or whatever. I support law enforcement officers wearing their weapons but really, it’s crucial that they keep track of their guns. There are no excuses for this kind of carelessness with deadly weapons. The incident in the above article could have lead to a tragedy or another stolen gun. This is all about the gun culture. When people wear guns, and yes, even law enforcement, it is an onerous responsibility. Too many things can and do go wrong.

The Brady Campaign ‘s Dan Gross made this statement about this insane incident:

“This is the America Speaker Boehner envisions and promotes — where guns are accessible to everyone, everywhere without any concern whose hands they wind up in. Thanks in large part to gun lobby lap dogs like John Boehner, Congress has ignored the overwhelming will and safety of the American people, and done nothing to protect our children from the dangers of guns. Maybe at least this incident can serve as a reminder to the rest of us to do what we can to keep our kids safe by asking if there are unlocked guns where our children play, apparently whether it’s the house of a neighbor or The House of Representatives.”

But this case also points out what seems to be the truth about gun ownership in America. We know from several recent surveys that the number of homes with guns has decreased in the last 20 years or so, but the number of guns owned has not- except for Republicans. Curious. But that’s for another day. Some gun owners own lots of guns and keep buying them because, because, because…. rights….fear…..paranoia…..the government confiscation program President Obama started the day he took office…. Hillary Clinton coming for your guns………

Sigh. Meanwhile, when gun owners don’t safely secure their guns, felons, teens, and others who should not have guns have easy access to them. The gun lobby usually resists efforts to pass mandatory reporting of lost and stolen guns. From this informative article by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, we find that 500,000 guns are stolen annually from residences and yet only 173,000 of these are reported stolen. Where do we think the rest of the guns are? Passing stronger gun laws to require reporting of lost and stolen guns can prevent some of the gun trafficking in our country. Why would we not want to do that? From the article above:

The public overwhelmingly supports laws requiring the reporting of lost or stolen firearms. A nationwide poll in 2011 found that 94% of Americans surveyed favor laws to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.6

Seems like the right and popular thing to do.

Guns also have a way of mysteriously going “missing” from certain gun dealers:

One of ATF’s core functions is to oversee the firearms industry, which includes gun manufacturers, importers, and retail dealers. ATF’s primary tool to ensure that gun dealers comply with federal laws and regulations is through regular inspections, during which investigators review the dealer’s records and required paperwork, inspect the inventory, and look for other irregularities that may indicate illegal diversion of guns to criminals.

Federal law restricts ATF from conducting more than one such compliance inspection of a gun dealer each year, but current resource limitations make it impossible for the agency to conduct an annual or even biannual inspection of the roughly 60,000 gun dealers in the United States. With only around 600 inspectors available to conduct these inspections—inspectors who must divide their time between prospective dealers, explosives retailers, and active gun dealers—ATF is currently only able to inspect  licensed gun dealers an average of once every five years. An Office of the Inspector General, or OIG, investigation of ATF’s federal firearms licensee inspection program found that between 2007 and 2012 more than 58 percent of licensees had not been inspected for more than five years.

One way to fill the gap in the infrequent inspections is to require gun dealers to regularly check their inventory against their sales records to ensure that all guns are accounted for. Because federal law requires licensed gun dealers to report lost or stolen guns to ATF, keeping an inventory would be an effective way of ensuring that missing guns are promptly identified and reported to law enforcement. Taking a regular inventory would also help law-abiding gun dealers quickly identify any security breaches compromising their stock.

Despite the common-sense appeal of requiring gun dealers to conduct a periodic inventory reconciliation, the law prevents ATF from doing so. In 2004, citing the burdens that inventory inspections might impose on gun dealers, the NRA and others in the gun lobby shut down efforts to rein in the problem of gun dealers failing to maintain control of their inventories by adding a rider to the annual appropriations bill—one of the so-called Tiahrt Amendments—that specifically prohibits ATF from requiring dealers to conduct an annual inventory.

This ban on mandatory inventory reconciliation by gun dealers is unique among retailers of potentially dangerous consumer products. ATF requires explosives dealers, for example, to take a physical inventory at least once a year and keep a record of the inventory on file and available for inspection. Likewise, retail pharmacies are required under federal law to take an inventory of controlled substances every two years. Yet in the context of one of the most dangerous consumer products, the federal government is prohibited from requiring this common-sense business practice.

Sigh. The corporate gun lobby at your service, protecting you and your family from gun deaths and injuries. Note in the article the now infamous cases of “lost” guns that have been used to kill innocent Americans. The most famous of these is the D.C. Sniper case ( from the linked article above):

Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply, Tacoma, Washington

In 2002 John Allen Muhammad, the “Beltway sniper,” terrorized the Washington, D.C., metro area when he and his teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, gunned down 10 people over the course of several weeks. The Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle used in the attacks was one of 238 guns that disappeared from the inventory of Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply over a three-year period.

Where is common sense when you need it? Why are we allowing the corporate gun lobby to dictate gun laws that actually lead to more deaths and injuries? The question has to be asked and answered.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, safely securing your guns. Gun safes are readily available. Or how about trigger locks?  You can order them on-line easily and for a small price compared to that of a shot person. Or how about smart guns? A reminder to my readers- the corporate gun lobby opposes smart gun technology. Remember just about a year ago when a Maryland gun shop owner got himself into hot water with the gun rights extremists for trying to sell smart guns? Go figure. Lunacy abounds.

These folks love to complain about felons and evil folks out and about with their guns so they can get people to the gun shops to buy lots of guns. But when technology becomes available or current safety measures are encouraged to keep those very people from stealing guns or accessing them and then using them in a crime or worse, a shooting- not so much.

Here’s a great website that talks about safe firearms storage. Note that it is the national crime prevention council so obviously this organization understands that guns that are not safely stored can get used in crime.

We can talk about yet one more case of children accessing guns they shouldn’t have. Two Kentucky brothers aged 6 and 7 brought two handguns to school- one of them loaded. What is going on in our country? How many more of these before gun owners realize that they have a responsibility with that lethal weapon(s)? Don’t you just love the pink pistol? It’s meant to be attractive to women and kids. And attractive it is. These little boys liked it enough to bring it to their school.

I am updating this post to add one more place where some parents think their guns are “safely” secured from kids. An Arizona father was storing his guns rolled up in the bed sheets when, naturally, his curious 2 year old found the gun and shot himself in the face. Naturally, because more and more gun owners are showing us that too many guns means too many irresponsible gun owners.

In my previous post I referred to the ASK campaign encouraging parents and care givers to ask if there are guns where their children play or hang-out. This is very important for changing the conversation and saving lives. When will we get down to the business of saving the lives of our children and everyone else? Well, I guess when the majority makes a bigger noise than the gun lobby. And when our legislators get the back bone to stand up to the ferocious gun lobby whose primary industry is profits. And that’s the bottom line.