Abrogation of duty

Card File with Inscription High Priority.Our priorities are all screwed up. I could use another word here because that is how I really feel.

It turns out that the Department of Defense has been abrogating their duty when it comes to sending the names of military members who have become prohibited gun purchasers to the FBI’s instant check system. And Congress has been sitting on their butts doing nothing about the increase in gun deaths in America. So 3 cities decided to take matters into their own hands by suing the Department of Defense. That seems to be the way things get done in this country. Rather than doing what makes common sense our leaders are waiting for an order from on high ( NRA and Wayne LaPierre) before they can do the right thing for public health and safety.

From the article:

New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia said in court papers that the military’s broken system for relaying such information helped spur the massacre of 26 people inside a Texas church last month.

“This failure on behalf of the Department of Defense has led to the loss of innocent lives by putting guns in the hands of criminals and those who wish to cause immeasurable harm,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “New York City is joining Philadelphia and San Francisco to stand up to the Department of Defense and demand they comply with the law and repair their drastically flawed system.” (…)

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., seeks an injunction and judicial oversight to ensure ongoing compliance with the Defense Department’s obligation to submit records.(…)

Earlier this month, the Pentagon’s watchdog agency said it found a “troubling” number of failures this year by the military services to alert the FBI to criminal history information. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of the FBI database.

Troubling? Tragic.

There is no reason why insisting that the military branches send these records to the database so people can be denied gun purchases should be a problem. It would only be enacting laws already on the books. This is not an issue of the second amendment or gun rights. Yet, somehow it feels like it might be. It really is past time to do what’s right for the American people. 26 people were killed in Sutherland, Texas while attending church one day in early November. If the military had followed the rules and sent the criminal records of the shooter to the FBI database, it is likely the shooting would not have happened. But then again, there is that gap in the law that would have allowed the shooter to go to a gun show or on-line site to buy guns with no Brady background check. But we can’t go there.

If we don’t go there, we can expect the carnage to continue. If one of your family members or friends had been shot by someone who could have been stopped, you would be pretty angry. Congress should be angry. Are they? There is no evidence that they are. Mass shooting after mass shooting continue unabated with no action from our leaders. it is an American tragedy and a refusal of Congress to keep us safe from harm. Where does it say anywhere that people have a right to shoot other people with no reason? I haven’t seen that anywhere.

And can someone please tell me why the totally reasonable common sense legislation to ban bump stocks after the Las Vegas shooting didn’t go anywhere?

Only Congress can explain this. Please ask them to do so.

More than troubling. Total abrogation of a duty to keep us safe from harm.

Shameful.

There have been 340 mass shootings this year according to the Gun Violence Archive, unless another few occur in the next few days.

Where does this stop?

Remember the dangerous “default proceed” written into the FBI system when the Brady Law was enacted? The victims and survivors of the Charleston church shooting do. This is another abrogation of our duty to protect people from harm.

Thanks NRA.

The NRA tried to excuse this loophole by claiming it was a “safety valve”. For whom? This is beyond crazy ( see below).

Every day shooting after every day shooting continue unabated. Even on Christmas. This Arizona woman is now dead as are both of her children thanks to her ex-husband and a gun he obtained.:

A 38-year old woman and her two children were killed and a police officer was injured in Christmas Day shootings at a Phoenix apartment complex.

Anthony Milan Ross, 45, the woman’s estranged spouse and the father of the children, was taken into custody shortly after 10 p.m. Monday after exchanging fire with officers after a six-hour standoff, Phoenix police said Tuesday. Ross did not appear to be injured.

Happy Christmas.

What a nice way to spend Christmas for the neighbors of the woman as they waited for the end of the stand-off:

“It’s beyond crazy,” resident Gibson Daoud said. “It’s as sh–ty as it can get on Christmas Day.”

For hours, residents and visitors inside the complex were not allowed to leave and those waiting to return to their homes were not allowed in.

Power was cut to the complex about 7:30 p.m., and residents near the gunman’s apartment were escorted out by police SWAT team members.

Yes, “it’s beyond crazy.” Every day we let this happen is beyond crazy.
Our gun culture is beyond crazy. Thank you to Women Against Gun Violence Facebook page for this information:
more guns than cars
It doesn’t have to be this way. But this is the gun culture we have. There is no question that we can make simple and even difficult changes if we really care more about saving lives than making profits off of the sale of guns. Remember that guns are the only product designed to kill people and also the only product not regulated for safety by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The way things are going in America, that will likely change as the Trump administration de-regulates everything.
There are regulations for a reason. Our public health and safety should be at the top of the list of responsibilities for our leaders. Excuse me for being cynical that this is the case. The very least we can do is to follow the laws on the books to save a few lives here and there. If that life is someone you know or love, that would be of the utmost importance to you.
2018 is around the corner. If there is any logic at all, we should make a pledge to work together to save lives and reduce and prevent gun violence. Demand that our Congress members get a spine and stand up for what is right. Preventing the public health epidemic of gun violence should be a top priority for our leaders. If it is not, they should be looking for a new line of work.

Happy gun violence free Labor Day

PrintThe Labor Day holiday is upon us already. It’s cool here in Minnesota now at night so we are reminded that fall is also coming on the heels of a rather wet summer. The Hurricane season also reminds us that fall is here. Hurricane Harvey has produced mass flooding and devastation to millions of families in Texas and now other states. We continue to see more severe storms and heavy rainfalls as some deny that we should try to do something to about what the majority of scientists agree appears to be climate change.

But facts don’t bother some in our country, including our own President who used his appearance in Texas as a mini campaign rally rather than showing empathy for the victims and re-assuring them as is the role of the Comforter in Chief during national emergencies.

But I digress. On the home front in Minnesota we have seen more than the usual number of shootings and incidents showing that, as we know, more guns do not make us safer. For example, earlier in August a man was minding his own business waiting for a bus when a fight broke out. During the fight, a gun was fired, hitting him in the stomach and leaving him with injuries from which he is still recovering:

Porwall was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center’s trauma center in Minneapolis and was released Monday. Porwall, who will always have the bullet lodged in his stomach, is recovering from his injuries at his Minneapolis home, with his mother, Kathy Porwall, and his two cats Kirby and Lopez at his side.

Porwall’s father Cy said his son is the most peaceful person in the world and has never been in a fight or been in trouble.

The victim will have the bullet in his stomach now likely forever and it could cause recurring health problems and financial difficulties. Gun injuries cost Americans billions every year:

A new study sheds light on just how much gun-related injuries cost the United States, from the health care system to victims’ families.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health on Tuesday, showed that between 2006 and 2014, the costs and financial burden of firearm injuries reached a total of $6.61 billion — and that was just for initial hospitalizations.
This, of course, does not include the psychological and emotional damage done when someone is badly injured or dies. Often PTSD is associated with gun violence victims and survivors. A traumatic, sudden and violent incident can do that. The walking wounded are amongst us wherever we go.
We can cut the costs of gun violence by cutting gun violence. It can be done with the right elected leaders who are not afraid of the corporate gun lobby. I have written often about measures that can be taken to save lives and keep people from being injured. Here is my list:
  • a waiting period before the gun is transferred to make sure the buyer isn’t in a rush to shoot someone
  • pass measures to require reporting of lost and stolen guns
  • pass stronger straw purchasing laws
  • strengthen gun trafficking laws
  • gun owners storing their guns safely at home
  • gun owners being more responsible when carrying guns in public to assure that their gun does not accidentally discharge
  • educating parents about the risks of loaded, unsecured guns in the homes where their children play
  • treating gun violence as a public health epidemic
  • limiting the number of guns sold at one time
  • passing Gun Violence Protection Order laws
  • changing the conversation generally about the risks of guns
  • require a mandatory training course for everyone who buys a gun
  • discussing the fact that most gun deaths are suicide and how we can prevent that

Did you think I forgot one of the most important ways to keep a gun away from people who shouldn’t have one?

Requiring a Brady background check on ALL gun sales, no matter where, to assure that those who buy a gun are not prohibited from owning one.

If you don’t think that is a good idea, you are in a distinct minority of Americans who don’t. And, as if we need a poster child for why this is important, take a look at this Minnesota “law abiding” gun owner who was caught “red handed” buying many guns in a short period of time and ostensibly falling through more than a few cracks ( otherwise known as loopholes in the law):

A high ranking professor and department head at the University of Minnesota is facing charges for going on an illegal gun buying spree.

The purchases would have been perfectly legal, except Massoud Amin is under felony indictment.

That should have banned him from buying guns.(…)

Investigators say Amin – who his attorney describes as a gun hobbyist – bought 14 handguns from seven separate gun shops across the metro in a two-and-a-half-week span this summer.

He was under a felony indictment at the time, accused of providing fabricated financial documents in his divorce.

Yet that first gun purchase came just six days after he was charged with forgery.

The federal form required when purchasing a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer asks the buyer to be honest when filling in the information such as: Are you a felon? Yes or No. Have you been charged with domestic abuse? Yes or No. Are you adjudicated mentally ill? Yes or No. And others.

This is a set-up for someone who falls into one of these categories to lie. It is a federal offense to lie on the form. One way to get around this is to buy from an unlicensed seller who doesn’t ask these questions or do a background check.

The National Instant Check System run by the FBI is then involved when the seller submits the information to the system to check for the accuracy of this information and either approve the purchase or deny the purchase. This has worked to deny millions of people from buying guns they shouldn’t have since the Brady Law was enacted in 1993.

But the system has some gaps that need to be fixed. One is that in some states, like Minnesota, getting a permit to carry a gun, requiring a background check once a year from law enforcement and a new permit every 5 years, also allows the buyer to avoid a NICS check when purchasing guns. And that is how a University of Minnesota professor with a felony charge was able to buy 14 guns in 2 weeks from 7 different gun shops.

We can only guess at why there was a need for that many firearms but the man’s lawyer claimed that he was a gun hobbyist and then this:

Amin’s attorney tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that he did have a permit to carry, but would not comment on whether or not it was valid.

New this year in Minnesota, the permit to carry is enough to bypass the extra background check at the point of purchase since permit holders have already been screened.

Right then. People’s lives change, as this man’s did. Suddenly he became a felon:

He was under a felony indictment at the time, accused of providing fabricated financial documents in his divorce.

This does not sound like someone who should have a bunch of guns lying around. I know exactly how that can turn out. This is why my sister was shot and killed.

It doesn’t have to be like this. All we need is some common sense. As it turns out, most gun owners do have common sense and are safe with their guns. Most gun owners also agree with measures that will strengthen our gun laws to assure that all are safer and don’t suffer from the devastation of gun deaths and injuries. They are not threatened by tightening our laws because they are law abiding, practice safe gun usage and storage and use their guns for hunting and other shooting sports. It’s a small group who make it difficult for the majority. And as long as that small group sides with the gun extremists in the corporate gun lobby and refuses to support what most of us want, we will continue to see senseless and avoidable gun deaths and injuries.

What we need is for all of us to have the same safety standards, just like we do when getting a driver’s license or a professional license. There are no exceptions. All are treated the same. Everyone has to go through the TSA checkpoints at airports. All cars must know have seatbelts, airbags and other safety features. All toys and products are expected to pass safety standards to keep us all safe.  Smoking is prohibited in public places for the overall health of all of us. Background checks are required for child care providers and volunteers who work with children for the safety of all. Even adopting a pet requires strict standards.

Firearms should be no exception to protections that can keep us all safe. Purchasers and owners of firearms should be expected to be safe and responsible with their guns. The only way to do that is to impose standards and laws. Guns are the only product on the market actually designed to kill people ( and animals). Other things are used to kill and injure people but are not designed to do so.

We can prevent gun injuries and deaths if we put our collective minds to the effort.

I’m all in.

Oh- and stay safe out there this Labor Day. If you are going to a gun range to shoot, be safe. If you are purchasing a gun, make sure you understand that basic safety rules of owning a gun. If you are feeling angry at someone or wanting to get even or if you have had too much to drink, don’t bring your gun.

Remember why we have a national holiday this week-end. We celebrate those who labor on our behalf to keep us healthy, safe, financially viable, work on our streets and build our buildings and houses, put out fires, teach our children, take care of our children, and many others. Thanks to everyone who is working to provide economic viability to their families and contribute to the America we love. Unfortunately, gun violence never takes a holiday so there will be the inevitable shootings covered in news media all over our country.

And please think of ways to contribute to victims of Hurricane Harvey. There are many credible and trusted sites for you to do that. I contributed through fund sponsored by the United Church of Christ ( I attend a UCC church). We all need to dig deep to help others since one day, we ourselves, could become victims of a national disaster like Harvey.

And ( added after first posting) the usual scares and concerns about looting in the aftermath of natural disasters has people going for their guns and ammunition:

Hurricane Harvey may have moved on from East Texas, but the flood waters are only beginning to recede. Millions are scrambling for essentials like drinking water and food. Some, with worries about the ability of strained law enforcement to keep the peace, are in search of bullets.

“Our phones are blowing off the hook,” said James Hillin, the owner of Full Armor Firearms in Houston, which made it through the storm without flooding. “What people want is ammo. People want to arm up and protect themselves from the looters.”

We can only hope that there will be no shootings to add to the devastation of the storm.

 

Why background checks on all gun sales are essential

Let's leave our guns in the lobbyUnless you have been living under a rock, on a vacation with no news available or just plain in denial, you know that our nation has been experiencing an epidemic of gun violence that is really not new. This time, however, there seems to be more talk about it and even politicians are being pressed by the media and constituents to talk turkey about gun violence and what to do about it. It’s a topic that most want to avoid. Why? Because if they say what they really know to be true in their heart of hearts, it will p#$$ off the corporate gun lobby and the gun extremists and no one wants to go there. If it p&^%es off the rest of us? Apparently we don’t count and we are the majority. We are the 92% of even gun owners who want our politicians to pass a law to require background checks on all gun sales. I guess we don’t count.

So let’s look at the past month or so.  The shooter of the 9 Black Charleston residents at Mother Emanuel church should not have had a gun. How did he get it? He bought his gun from a licensed dealer after an incomplete background check. This was admitted to the public by the FBI Director:

Comey said the FBI made the error due to a breakdown in the background check system and confusion with paperwork between the FBI, local police departments and county jurisdictions.

Due to Roof’s admission during an arrest in late February that he was in possession of drugs, he should not have been permitted to buy the gun he used in the massacre. However, an agent working for the FBI’s background check system who was performing the review on Roof failed to contact the Columbia, South Carolina, police department which arrested Roof, in part because of a clerical error in records listing the wrong agency.

Because Roof’s background check took longer than three days to complete, the gun shop owner was allowed to sell the gun to Roof. The law permits gun sellers to sell guns if a background check takes longer than three days to complete.

Houston, we have a problem. Lives depend on our fixing this flaw in the background check system brought to us by the corporate gun lobby. This great article in The Trace explains how this happened in the first place:

It was called House Amendment 390, and it radically altered the implementation of the Brady background check bill. It was backed by the NRA. Twenty days later, it was the law. And 22 years later, one of its elements allowed Dylann Roof to get a gun.

Last week, Jim Clyburn, a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina, filed legislation that would close the so-called “default proceed loophole,” which allows federally licensed firearms dealers to proceed with a sale if a background check — as in Roof’s case — takes more than three business days to complete. Connecticut Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal echoed the call, urging President Obama to take executive action to extend the window that federal examiners have for making a determination on a purchaser.

Here is more from this article about how this provision to proceed with a sale after 3 days even without a record of a background check made it into law:

His amendment was initially rejected, but when he tweaked it slightly and requested a floor vote on November 10, 1993, it passed the House 238 to 192, with 122 Republicans and 84 Democrats voting “aye.” The full Brady bill passed the House later that day. When the Senate took up the legislation, lawmakers were faced with Gekas’s one-business-day time limit, which would go into effect five years after Brady’s enactment, along with the instant check system. But after further maneuvering in the Senate, the investigation period was raised to three days.

On the night of November 20, 1993, the Brady Act passed the Senate 63 to 36, with 47 Democrats and 16 Republicans voting yes. President Bill Clintonsigned it into law on November 30.

Charles Schumer, who shepherded the legislation in the House, would later testify about the “tortuous negotiations” necessary to get the Brady bill to Clinton’s desk. Though he called  the instant check provision (which would come to be known as the National Instant Criminal Background System, or NICS) “unworkable,” he conceded that “it was a necessary compromise to pass the most  important gun control legislation since 1968.”

Five days before the bill signing, Wayne LaPierre gave his own assessment of the outcome, reiterating his group’s stance: “The waiting period is unfair to honest, law-abiding people. The criminals won’t wait.” But in actuality, the group had triumphed. It managed to maintain political cover with supporters by fighting an unflinching war against the bill in the public arena while simultaneously watering it down from within. And more than ever before, it proved that it could mobilize its three-million-strong membership in the process.

Ten months before NICS was scheduled to go online, Clinton floated the idea of indefinitely extending the five-day investigation period used by the interim manual background check system. But the Republicans who had taken over control of Congress proved inhospitable to any further alterations.

And so 9 people are dead because of the corporate gun lobby’s totally irrational fear about “law abiding” citizens having to wait to get their guns. What’s the rush I ask?

Regarding the shooting in Chattanooga, there’s so much it’s hard to know where to start. The shooter obtained some guns “legally” whatever that means given his alleged problems with drugs and mental illness. One of the guns was purchased at the on-line site called Armslist.com that connects shooters  buyers with sellers. And yes, this is legal because we have not made it illegal. Until states and the federal government pass laws requiring background checks on all gun sales we will have more of these shootings. Do we care?

( To deflect the real problem of easy access to guns, some state Governors have issued orders for our at home military to be armed. Of course, we now know that at least one of the victims of the Chattanooga shooting was likely armed. Never mind. Armed citizens are showing up at military centers to “guard” our military. I wrote about this one in my last post. It’s not going well so far.)

Every time another of these shootings occur, a whole population of Americans have flash backs and PTSD. It happens. A friend wrote this article about her own experience with gun violence and why the shootings cause her to experience PTSD:

I started working as an activist to prevent gun violence in December 2012 after the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in which a 20-year-old man shot and killed 20 children and six adult staff. I felt I could no longer sit idly by as this epidemic ravaged my country — especially after my own experience more than a decade earlier. My PTSD-fueled visions were turning into nightmares of guns pointing at my own children’s heads. And that’s when I knew I had to do something.

What makes my job so damn hard — aside from the powerful and greedy gun lobby — is that I’m caught in what seems a never-ending cycle of gun-related violence, and it seems I can’t do it. I am caught in a perpetual state of drop-everything-and-rapidly-respond to another shooting.

My typical response, like many I know, is to feel a rush of anger at yet another shooting. Our legislators need to recognize that our system is bleeding — quite literally shot to hell. (…)

But this time, I am not angry. And that scares me. This time I feel helpless and I want to run away. Maybe it’s because I’m hosting a friend from New Zealand where they don’t have the epidemic of gun-related violence like we have here.

It has made me think about moving, about leaving the country.

Imagine what life would be like not having to worry whenever I take my kids to see a movie or send them off to school.

Imagine life without gun violence.

“Imagine a life without gun violence.”

Sigh.

But I digress. I got to thinking about the victims, PTSD, violence, epidemics, hapless politicians, the poisonous corporate gun lobby, my sister, families of victims of domestic violence who I know, families of victims of mass shootings who I know, families of victims of gun suicides who I know……

Where was I?

Oh yes,- the Lafayette theater shooting. The shooter was a prohibited purchaser but supposedly bought his gun legally. What does that mean? Let’s look at this article:

In between, Houser assembled a file that will tell one of two important policy stories when the still ongoing investigations are incomplete. Either Houser will stand as a case study in how far a person can go without being barred from gun ownership — or become the latest reminder of the missing records that hobble the federal background check system. (…)

But on its own, the emergency petition that led to H0user’s stay at West Central would not necessarily prohibit him from gun ownership under the federal law that regards involuntary psychiatric commitments as grounds for banning someone from possessing firearms. For that to happen, a judge must take the next step and order extended hospital time. And for Houser, the records trail (at last for now) goes cold at that critical juncture. The relevant probate records are sealed and cannot be made public by the court.

While Houser’s family was asking that he be committed for psychiatric care, they were also seeking a temporary protective order barring him from any contact with them. That court filing cites “various acts of family violence” and states that Houser’s wife had “become so worried about the defendant’s volatile mental state that she has removed all guns and/or weapons from their marital residence.”  A subsequent, handwritten court record indicates that the temporary protective order was lifted on May 8, 2008. 

Some states have laws that command persons subjected to a protective order to relinquish their guns while the order is in place. Georgia, the state where Houser’s family lives and the order was filed, is not one of them, according to a 2014 report from the Center for American Progress. Houser’s home state of Alabama has a similar lack of restrictions. In 2014, the Louisiana State Legislature passed a law prohibiting the possession of firearms “by persons who are the subject of protective orders or permanent injunctions involving domestic violence.” However, the law only applies to cohabitating spouses and permanent restraining orders. Houser, who was estranged from (but allegedly sometimes stalked) his family and had only a temporary order against him, would not have been affected.

The shooter was denied an Alabama permit to carry a gun in 2006. But:

With the 2013 passage of legislation backed by the National Rifle Association, Alabama went from a “may issue” to a “shall issue” system for concealed carry permits, taking away some of sheriffs’ discretion. And none of the behaviors that led the sheriff’s office to reject his bid for a pistol permit would have caused him to fail a federal background check before buying a gun.

What might — might — have was a judge’s order of involuntary psychiatric commitment, which brings the events of April 2008 back to the fore.

If the judge in the case didn’t order more hospital time, that could explain Houser’s legal gun purchase in 2014. The other possibility: The involuntary commitment was ordered, but the record never made it into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Georgia is among the worst performing states when it comes to forwarding mental health records to the federal database, according to an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety. (Everytown is a seed donor to The Trace.)

2 are dead and at least 7 injured as a result of a fatal flaw in our background check system.

Where is common sense?

Governor Jindal?

Congress?

That’s what I thought. Silence. Denial. Pandering.

Disgusting and shameful.

We are better than this.

Here is what LouisianaGovernor Bobby Jindal, Republican candidate for President, said about gun laws and the loopholes that allowed for the shooter to get his gun:

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana called for tougher gun laws in other states on Sunday, breaking his silence on the issue three days after a gunman with a history of mental illness and violence opened fire in a movie theater in the state’s fourth-largest city.

Gun control has become a prominent subject on the presidential campaign trail after the shooting on Thursday in Lafayette became the third mass shooting in six weeks in the United States. Mr. Jindal, who received an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association, is one of 16 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for 2016. (…)

Until Sunday, Mr. Jindal and most of his Republican rivals had deflected questions in recent days over whether the killings reflected a need for tighter gun control laws. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Mr. Jindal called for states to adopt laws similar to Louisiana’s that feed information about mental illness into a federal background check system for potential gun buyers.

“I think every state should strengthen their laws,” he said. “Every state should make sure this information is being reported in the background system. We need to make sure that background system is working. Absolutely, in this instance, this man never should have been able to buy a gun.”

Hmmm, OK. We could give Governor Jindal credit for at least attempting to say the right thing under pressure. What he didn’t say might be more important to the discussion. Clearly the Lafayette shooting exposes the flaws in our system brought to us by gun lobby bought and paid for politicians like Jindal. Does he really think we will turn the other cheek and pretend he didn’t just sign into law some of the weakest gun laws in the country? Does he think we don’t know that Louisiana has one of the highest gun homicide and gun death rates in the country? From the linked article above:

The state doesn’t require background checks on private sales, even for assault weapons; doesn’t require gun owners to register their firearms; and doesn’t have a limit on the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. As for gun violence, the state has the second-highest gun death rate in the nation, according to an analysis of the latest National Vital Statistics report. Louisiana’s lax oversight also enables firearms trafficking to other states, in which it ranks fifteenth in the nation, and 28 percent of guns wind up in criminals’ hands within two years of sale—almost six points above the national average.

Jindal has worked to weaken the state’s already lax gun control by signing a wave of bills in 2013 and 2014. He broadened the “Stand Your Ground” law to protect shooters who hurt, but don’t kill, someone they feel is threatening. He allowed concealed weapons in places that serve alcohol. He banned public access to the personal information of concealed handgun permit owners. He approved guns in churches. And he allowed Louisianans to apply for lifetime concealed-carry permits.

The hypocrisy oozes out of his mouth. Will he get away with it or will the public and the media keep asking questions and keep making politicians responsible for their own actions.

The time is NOW to talk about our gun violence epidemic. We don’t need lying and pandering. We need action. But of course the gun lobby and its’ bought and paid for politicians think we will believe them when they say the time to talk about gun violence is not after a wave of gun violence. A Washington Post article talks about why now is the time:

There are good reasons for legislative restraint in the aftermath of emotional tragedies. You probably don’t want lawmakers drafting bad legislation in a panic to do something, anything, in response to a public outcry.

On the other hand, as the shootings continue and the body count rises, the inevitable counter-argument becomes: if not now, when? Jindal didn’t want to talk gun laws last month, after Charleston. He doesn’t want to talk about them this month, after Lafayette. It’s only a matter of time before the next national tragedy strikes and sets the national gun clock back to zero again. And it will likely happen sooner than you think.

The Mass Shootings Tracker, a crowd-sourced tally of mass shootings maintained by the GunsAreCool subreddit, shows that we haven’t gone more than eight days without a mass shooting in the U.S. since the start of 2015 — that doesn’t leave a lot of time to grieve and regroup between shootings. We’ve averaged exactly one mass shooting per day since the start of the year. Forty eight days saw more than one mass shooting take place. On 18 days there were at least 3 shootings. On three days this year — April 18, June 13 and July 15 — there have been five shootings. (…) In the end, it often seems that the goal is to put off the conversation about the role of guns in America or quibble about methodology while the number of people killed or injured by guns rises. On the other hand, some people, like the Telegraph’s Dan Hodges, argue that we’ve already had the conversation, and that it’s already over. They may be right.

Here is what Dan Hodges tweeted that got the attention of the writer of the article above:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 12.12.30 PM

Indeed. Have we decided that the massacre of 20 small school children is bearable. What have we become in order to satisfy a well funded corporate gun lobby’s appetite for power, influence and sales of weapons? Have we become the country reflected in the cartoon at the top of this post? The question has to be asked and answered. For what we do about this epidemic of gun violence reflects our values and who we are as a country.

We just have to decide what the price is for our insane gun culture as this writer is wondering: 

How much is one innocent life worth? Ten gun buyers waiting a few minutes longer to purchase a firearm? 25 buyers? 100?

I’m not going to tell you about how other countries have faced similar crises and collectively made the decision to enact reform. We aren’t other countries. As Americans we deal with issues at our own rate based on our own values.

Instead, I’ll point to an issue that the South just tackled: the Confederate flag. Since revisionist historians started to recast the role of the South in the Civil War in the late 1800s, it was pretty much an accepted fact that people were too divided over the flag for anything to ever change.

…and then it did. In a matter of weeks, the Confederate flag was relegated to the dustbin of history in South Carolina and companies that understood its harmful symbolism to so many Americans began pulling products from their shelves.

The change came at the cost of nine more innocent lives, but it happened. (…)

Our lack of action as a country suggests that we don’t value the lives of innocent Americans over the minutes of inconvenience that potential gun buyers might face. So unless we are willing to start telling our elected leaders to pass background check reform, we might as well continue to just haggle over the price of innocent lives.

Lives matter. Laws matter. Background checks or lack thereof matter. The proof is screaming at us. Are we listening?

We could listen to the voices of the victims. How about the video of one of the Lafayette shooting victims, Jillian Johnson, singing with her group in this lovely and moving tribute to her and her life. The victims have names. They have families. They had jobs, husbands, aspirations, opinions….. until suddenly they don’t.

We just have to be better than this.