Why gun research matters

ПечатьGuns matter. Gun deaths matter. Gun laws matter. Lives matter. Data matters. Research matters. Facts matter. What is becoming more and more necessary is good research into the causes and effects of gun violence in America.

Remember that Congress passed a law in 1996 to stifle and halt research by the CDC into what causes so much gun violence in our country. Representative Jay Dickey, who at the time pushed this law, was beholden to the corporate gun lobby and did their bidding. Now that he doesn’t have to worry about their bullying tactics any more he understands that the law was detrimental to our public health and safety and has said so publicly. Good for him. Let’s take a look:

“It is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund such research until a solution is reached,” he wrote in a letter released through the office of Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.). “Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.” (…)

The former GOP congressman, 75, reached at home Thursday, said “political purposes” should have never gotten in the way of the issue. He conceded he “should have done something” to see that the research continue.

NRA LOBBYING LED TO LAW THAT STOPPED CDC FROM USING FEDERAL FUNDS TO STUDY GUN VIOLENCE

“Research will lead us to a solution,” Dickey said. “I have no idea what it’s going to be. I just couldn’t stay quiet any longer. It doesn’t look like anybody else is trying to get a solution.”

Dickey compared gun violence to car accidents. Highway regulation and research aren’t meant to deter car ownership — they’re meant for safety, he said.

“(Gun violence) is an insidious social problem that we have in America, and it’s getting worse, in my opinion,” he said.

Dickey said he was “almost numb” as reports emerged of Wednesday’s shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., in which 14 people were killed and 21 wounded.

“It’s just a shame … innocent people,” he said.

But years after that law went into effect, public shootings of 6 year olds in a school, Christian black people in churches, Muslims in homes, journalists on live TV, people sitting in movie theaters, horrendous domestic homicide/suicides, gang shootings in our inner cities, increased numbers of gun suicides by teens and rural white men, and toddlers killing themselves on a regular basis, the carnage continues unabated.

Former Representative Dickey spoke truth to power. He is right. It’s insidious and a shame. Too many innocent people are dying.

Others are doing the much needed research and presenting us with the proof that gun laws matter and can prevent some of the nation’s shootings. This New York Times comprehensive article, replete with useful charts and information, should be required reading for legislators and Congress:

In the past decade, Missouri has been a natural experiment in what happens when a state relaxes its gun control laws. For decades, it had one of the nation’s strongest measures to keep guns from dangerous people: a requirement that all handgun buyers get a gun permit by undergoing a background check in person at a sheriff’s office.

Here is one of the incredible graphs disproving the gun lobby’s argument that strict gun laws don’t matter. Gun trafficking from state to state is easy because we have made it easy. And thus, even if states or cities pass strong laws, gun violence continues. It’s a slippery slope.

Well researched graphs, maps and charts help us understand the causes and effects of our insidious and shameful national public health epidemic. For example:

An interactive map of where licensed gun dealers are located in the country makes it easy to find out how many there are near you.  As it turns out, there are more of them than there are grocery stores or McDonalds restaurants. It’s actually pretty darned convenient to find a gun dealer to do a Brady background check.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have had more gun homicides this year than in past years. And here’s a map to show where the shootings occurred:

More than 11 months later, with 2016 approaching, Minneapolis has seen 49 homicides this year, according to city data, considerably more than the 32 recorded in 2014 and the most since 2006.

St. Paul recorded 17 homicides in 2015, including a victim who died this year of an injury sustained in 2012, up from 13 in 2014.

Of the 65 homicides in both cities, 49 involved firearms. The rest were either stabbings or beatings.

The gun lobby often argues that guns are not responsible for the most homicides. They are wrong. Also, many of these gun deaths are happening in our core urban cities with the impacted communities being people of color.

Why does any of this matter? Because if we truly are serious about preventing the carnage, we need data to help us with solutions. Silencing research on guns and gun violence has a deadly affect on our communities. The corporate gun lobby’s insidious influence on policy is leading to devastating gun deaths and injuries.

We make it far too easy for citizens who shouldn’t have access to guns to get them anyway. Laws matter. With stronger laws will come a stronger public resolve that we take this seriously and we care about innocent people getting shot in our homes, schools, shopping malls, parking lots, hospitals, at holiday parties, churches, military bases, government buildings, etc. And please do remember that some of the shooters in these places obtained their guns legally. That is because in America we have such a cavalier and twisted outlook and attitude about guns because….. rights, because…. Congress, because…..second amendment absolutists, because…. corporate gun lobby, that there is a total lack of common sense.

More data lets us know which large cities have seen the most shootings of civilians by officers. Police departments all over America, including in Minneapolis, have been under fire for shootings of citizens, often black citizens. Looking at the data and learning from it can make our large cities safer.

It’s important to understand shootings by officers and shootings of officers so our communities can better deal with insidious gun violence that plagues our largest urban areas.

Here is information about how many officers have been killed in the line of duty and an interesting fact is that firearms have caused fewer deaths of officers in 2015 than in 2014. Traffic accidents have accounted for an increased number of officer deaths. And “other causes” have increased 70% over 2014. It seems like this is important information for the safety of officers while on duty.

Why again do we not want research and data on the subject of gun violence? You will have to ask people who hang around with the corporate gun lobby and your elected leaders. The answer is very important to public health and safety.

And while we are waiting for common sense to break out these are the daily reports in the media, on the internet or on blogs:

“Law abiding” DC area gun owner gets impatient when a holiday shopper has trouble with his credit card at an exit of a shopping mall and shoots at the man.

 

A Washington state man was arrested for possession an illegal gun and saying he wanted a .50 caliber rifle to shoot officers:

Today, the assistant U.S. attorney told the judge that Barbeau was trying to buy a .50 caliber rifle that would be quote “advantageous” in a shootout with law enforcement. And that he was seen in photos posing next to explosives that federal agents have yet to locate.

But hey, what’s the problem? These are readily available anywhere for the most part and his friends and family believe he is just trying to exercise his rights:

But his family says Barbeau is just trying to protect the rights of his fellow citizens, and sometimes gets caught up in inflammatory rhetoric.

“He gets pretty emotional when things are happening and injustices are happening around him. And he tends to say some things that maybe I wouldn’t say,” said Milam. ” But I don’t believe at all that he is out to start there is any part of him that is out to start anything with anybody.”

I, for one, am glad this guy is not on the loose with his guns.

Data matters. In the case above, the FBI had been following this guy because of threats to police officers. Not OK. Home grown terrorists have been responsible for more than a few high profile shootings in our country.

Research is happening now despite the gun lobby’s distaste for it and their resistance to facts. The tired old NRA and corporate gun lobby arguments are going to fall on deaf ears soon enough. Armed with research and facts, our country will demand, as the majority already have, that our leaders get down to business and do their jobs to keep us safe from devastating gun violence and terror attacks. This is not rocket science.

 

Armed America- not polite at all

polite?An armed society is a polite society? Anyone with common sense knows this to be untrue. Let’s look at an article in “The Truth About Guns” about this oft used statement:

The accuracy of that image of an “armed/polite” society in the 19th Century West is not only debatable, it’s irrelevant: There are plenty of “armed societies” in the modern-day world, and most of them can be described as anything but “polite.” (…)

But there’s another problem with the “Armed society=Polite society” equation. Assume arguendo that the saying is true. Ignore the above evidence to the contrary and say, for the moment, that people are more polite when they know there’s lots of heat being packed.

What does that say about us, as gun owners? After all, the tiresome refrain of all anti-concealed-carry arguments is that if more ‘ordinary’ people are packing pistols, they will whip them out and start firing on the flimsiest pretext. Cut me off in traffic? BLAM! Take the last drop of half-and-half at Starbucks? BLAM! Look at me funny? BLAM!

Gun owners [rightly] view this assumption as dangerous nonsense, that the vast majority of people jumping through all the hoops necessary to obtain a CCW permit are sober, rational, and caring adults who would never allow their emotions to take hold of them and cause them to use deadly force inappropriately. Even when they’re not sober, rational or caring.

But doesn’t that Heinlein aphorism say otherwise? Doesn’t it imply, at least on its face, that the whole reason an armed society is a polite society is that in an armed society, the penalty for “impoliteness” might be summary execution?

So this gun owning blogger believes that the statement is generally wrong but he offers a qualifier:

If anything, the saying is backwards. Being “polite”—having a shared set of values that includes placing a high value on peaceful civic discourse—is a necessary pre-condition for the arming of a society. Arms in a “polite” society remain the tools of good citizens to defend themselves against bad ones. But arming a society without those shared values is a recipe for chaos, for violence for, well, Somalia, Beirut, Pakistan et al.

“An armed society is a polite society” sounds cute. It sounds witty and cool.  It impresses all the gun enthusiasts on the bulletin boards. It makes for a great t-shirt to wear at the gun show. But it’s just not true and if it was, it would be a bigger argument against arming ordinary citizens than anything the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence could possibly devise.

Hmmmm. So the problem with the writer’s logic is that everyone in America who has a permit to carry a gun has shared values. The arguments are mounting every day in our country against this argument. It’s not just the Brady Campaign “devising” the arguments. The public has had #enough. And the writer ignores the fact that the gun rights extremists are pushing for permit less carry in many states and some already have this dangerous law. The public is not clamoring for these laws. It’s the corporate gun lobby who represents an decreasing minority of gun owners who push these laws in state legislatures:

Given its high profile, it’s easy to assume that the NRA represents the voice of American gun owners. But in fact, the organization’s membership numbers and survey data point a different picture. Only a small fraction of the nation’s gun owners are NRA members. Even among NRA members, there is widespread dissent from some key points of the organization’s orthodoxy. And on many gun control issues, the majority of gun owners who aren’taffiliated with the NRA hold opinions closer to those of non-gun owners than to those of NRA members.

Let’s start with the membership numbers. In recent years the NRA has said it has 5 million dues-paying members. There’s some reason to be skeptical of this figure, but let’s assume 5 million is right.  Those 5 million members only comprise somewhere between 6 and 7 percent of American gun owners. That would imply that the overwhelming majority of American gun owners — over 90 percent of them — do not belong to the NRA.

1 in 10 gun owners belong to the NRA. Amazing. Take note elected leaders. As I spent time at a table at a local conference attended by 2600 people, I spent some time talking to gun owners who agreed with the literature we were passing out and our views on the issue of gun violence prevention. None of the people we talked to belonged to the NRA and, in fact, they said they don’t like the organization at all. One man told me that the gun rights extremists, like open carriers, are ruining it for the rest of the law abiding gun owners and hunters who just want to use their guns for hunting and sport. They believe in safety and saving lives before they pledge allegiance to an organization that does not represent them.

But I digress.

Let’s take a look at the last week of the American armed and impolite society.

The Minneapolis- St. Paul area have seen at least 5 gun deaths in the last week. That was before the most recent week-end shootings:

And if that was not enough, an Aitken area Sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed by a suspect who had terrorized his wife days before. The man had been hospitalized because of concern about his behavior. More from the story:

A week before he killed an Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy at the St. Cloud Hospital, felon Danny L. Hammond, 50, terrorized his wife and threatened to kill her after she told him she wanted to leave their marriage of 12 years, authorities said.

Korena Hammond told authorities that her husband went into a rage on Oct. 10 after she told him her plans. He held her hostage at their home overnight, pointing a 9-millimeter pistol at her head, forcing her to eat food that he said was poisoned and capturing her when she managed to flee the locked house. The next morning she went to her father’s house after Hammond agreed to let her go, according to a criminal complaint released Monday. (…)

A week later, Hammond was at St. Cloud Hospital early Sunday morning. He was not in custody at the time, and was being treated for medical reasons related to a domestic incident, according to authorities. Hammond was being supervised by law enforcement at the request of hospital staff.

According to the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office, Hammond got out of bed and then struggled with Aitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Steven M. Sandberg, 60. He somehow took control of Sandberg’s gun and fired several shots. Sandberg was fatally struck by at least one bullet. A St. Cloud Hospital security guard shot Hammond with a Taser. Hammond fell unconscious as a result and despite lifesaving efforts died in the hospital.

This is yet another case of domestic abuse that could have ended with the shooting of this man’s wife but instead tragically ended with the shooting of a law enforcement officer. And the old myth of an armed person being able to protect him/herself is proven wrong over and over again by incidents such as this one. The officer got into a fight with the suspect but the suspect got his hands on the deputy’s gun and was able to shoot him. It’s not the first time this has happened. Being armed does not guarantee that one can keep oneself safe.

It’s not only Minnesota. These kinds of incidents are happening everywhere. You can’t make some of them up because they point to the risk of guns in public places and in homes.

I am adding this one which just crossed my “desk”. A new gun permit holder shot himself in the leg while attending a movie in a Kansas theater:

A man was transported to Salina Regional Health Center on Friday night after he apparently accidentally shot himself in the leg midway through a movie at Central Mall.

Salina Police Department watch commander Sean Furbeck said the incident remains under investigation, but the gunshot wound likely was self-inflicted. He said police were not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident, which occurred at about 8:30 p.m. in one of the small theaters behind the ticket sales area. (…) “I feel really sorry that guy shot himself, but at least he didn’t shoot someone else,” Myers said. “That would have been 10 times worse.”

10 times worse. We have had 10 times worse actually. Remember the Aurora theater shooting?

Let’s start with a shooting at a ZombieCon event in Florida– Florida again which has some of the loosest gun laws in the country. From the article:

Chaos broke out at a zombie-themed street festival in downtown Fort Myers, Florida, after shooting left one man dead and five other people wounded.

Crowds of festivalgoers fled screaming through the streets after the shots rang out late Saturday at ZombiCon.

“It cleared out fast and cop cars and ambulances came,” said Savannah Holden, who watched the panic unfold from a hotel balcony.

One man died of a gunshot wound at the scene, police said, and five other people suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Four of them were taken to Lee Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Seriously. This is ludicrous. Notice that what most people did was to run away rather than try to shoot the shooter. Why? They were taken by surprise. They had no idea from where the shots came and their first reaction was to flee.

On another note, remember that gun extremists love to shoot at zombies on the gun range. They have zombies that are the faces and bodies of famous people like President Obama. Check out this site called Bleeding Zombies. There are the torsos of football players, terrorists, Nazis, etc. Why? What do shooters imagine while shooting at these targets? I think we know. This is our American gun culture gone totally out of whack.

Follow the money.

And then there was this shooting at the historical Tombstone, Arizona site:

Two people were shot in Tombstone, Arizona, during a gunfight reenactment when one of the actors allegedly used real bullets.

One of the actors, Tom Carter, was late to the performance and his weapon wasn’t checked, according to News 4 Tucson. During the shootout, he allegedly hit actor Ken Curtis with a real bullet.

Both were members of the Tombstone Vigilantes performance group.

“The Vigilantes immediately stopped the show and Tom was relieved of his weapon,” Bob Randall, the city’s marshall, said in a statement cited by the Tucson Sentinel. “During inspection of his weapon, it was discovered that there was one live round in the cylinder withfive expended casings indicating the gun had held six live rounds prior to the skit.” (…) Mayor Dusty Escapule told the Sentinel that the Vigilantes won’t be allowed to perform reenactments “until it can be determined all weapons are safely loaded with blank ammunition as required.”

Right. Guns are dangerous. When will that simple fact become part of our everyday language? Until it does, zombies- real or not and cowboys- real or not- will be shot every day.

And let’s get our history straight. The re-enactment of a shooting at the historical town of Tombstone is most likely a myth. Here’s the truth about guns and the “Wild West”.

This article in Politico after the shooting of Gabby Giffords in Tucson, Arizona written by historian Katherine Benton-Cohen sheds light on what really happened in Tombstone:

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, during a press conference about the Tucson shootings, called Arizona “the Tombstone of the United States.”

Some journalists gave the word a lowercase “t,” but the sheriff was clearly referring to the infamous silver-mining town 70 miles from Tucson — site of the shootout at the OK Corral. (…)

The irony of Dupnik’s remark is that Tombstone lawmakers in the 1880s did more to combat gun violence than the Arizona government does today.

For all the talk of the “Wild West,” the policymakers of 1880 Tombstone—and many other Western towns—were ardent supporters of gun control. When people now compare things to the “shootout at the OK Corral,” they mean vigilante violence by gunfire. But this is exactly what the Tombstone town council had been trying to avoid.

In late 1880, as regional violence ratcheted up, Tombstone strengthened its existing ban on concealed weapons to outlaw the carrying of any deadly weapons within the town limits. The Earps (who were Republicans) and Doc Holliday maintained that they were acting as law officers—not citizen vigilantes—when they shot their opponents. That is to say, they were sworn officers whose jobs included enforcement of Tombstone’s gun laws.

Today, in contrast, Arizonans can legally buy guns without licenses, and are able to carry concealed weapons without a permit. The state bans cities from passing their own, stricter laws. The legislature will consider a bill this session that would force schools to allow guns on campus — like Pima Community College, which the alleged shooter attended. (…) Arizonans, myself included, love to tout their vaunted independence and Western values. But when we perpetuate the idea that Arizona is some unchanging Wild West, we fall into the trap of a myth that only serves to embolden those who refuse to support commonsense restrictions on purchasing firearms.

Thanks to Arizona’s lax permit to carry laws, the Tucson shooter could carry his gun with little or no training. What shared values are involved in not requiring Brady background checks or some kind of knowledge of guns and how to shoot them before allowing people to carry guns around in public places? Carrying a gun in public places is an awesome and dangerous responsibility. This is the opposite of common sense. 

Just like the myth of an armed society being a polite society, so is the myth of gun wielding cowboys in the American western frontier. Yes, shootings happened. But there were also laws to address where and who could carry guns in towns. What are Western values?  Are they any different than the values held dear by the majority of Americans who know that keeping their children and communities safe from the devastation of gun violence is more important to an insane adherence to the second amendment.

Pope Francis on gun violence and Minnesota’s gun carnage

PM Pope imageThe Pope was right when he said in his remarks to Congress that: “We have to ask ourselves why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, we all know, is simply for money, money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”

Now some could say these remarks were meant to apply to the trafficking of small arms around the world that result in deadly assaults on masses of people by terrorists and insurrectionists. But we can apply these remarks to what is happening right here in our own country and, as I have written about recently, right in my own state of Minnesota.

When the aim of the gun industry is to sell as many weapons as possible to make a profit, it’s too easy to look the other way when the daily carnage is reported in our media. They must not believe it has anything to do with them or their businesses. And maybe it doesn’t. Selling guns is a business like other businesses. The difference is, what they are selling are deadly weapons designed to kill human beings. One has to wonder what a gun dealer is thinking when someone comes in and buys 2, 3, 4 handguns or an assault rifle at one time. Do they believe this person will be careful and responsible with that gun(s) and not kill themselves or their wife, partner, child or a relative or friend? How can we know?

What if we actually had a much more rigorous process of deciding who should be able to walk out of a gun store with a gun or two? What if we had a waiting period after a gun sale so someone who does mean harm to themselves or someone else can cool down for a while? What if we required a background check on all gun sales to make darned sure that everyone who buys a gun is a legal and responsible person? What if we didn’t allow the sale of multiple guns at a time? What if we cracked down on straw purchasing and gun trafficking by strengthening our laws? What if we had stronger laws about who can actually carry loaded weapons in public- and where they can carry them? What if families could report someone they love to law enforcement because they are pretty sure that person is about to do harm to someone? What if we required smart gun technology and/or trigger locks and safe storage so small children, teens and thieves couldn’t pull the trigger accidentally or on purpose on a gun they shouldn’t have?

What if………?

But, alas, we are living in a country where the headlines look like the ones I am going to highlight below.

It’s been another deadly few days in Minnesota. There was an officer involved shooting in St. Paul that ended with the death of a man who was seriously mentally ill and had just been released from a hospital:

Philip Quinn knew he needed help. After recently telling St. Paul hospital staff that he planned to kill himself, Quinn tried to get into a long-term treatment program to address his schizophrenia and other mental health difficulties.

But Thursday night in St. Paul’s West End, Quinn’s long struggle with mental illness ended when police, responding to a call of a suicidal man, shot and killed the 30-year-old, who was armed with a screwdriver and had failed to obey police commands. (…)

Quinn had been released from St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul last week after being treated for a mental health concern, Tareeq said. While there, he told medical staff that he had a plan to hurt himself, she said. After returning home, he started telling Tareeq that “things weren’t making sense” to him, she said. (…)

Philip Quinn’s troubles are well-documented.

He floated in and out of the criminal justice system for years — his record includes convictions for auto theft, drugs and possession of a firearm by an ineligible felon, among other offenses. But a 2013 jailhouse letter indicated that he sought help for his demons and hoped to regain a foothold in the civilian world.

“… I’m trying to get my life back on track before I am released,” he wrote, asking a hearing officer to vacate fines in 10 citations for low-level offenses.

Quinn was released from prison in March, with supervision for a 2012 gun conviction.

In that case, Quinn had been arrested during a police investigation into the sale of guns and methamphetamine. He was initially found mentally incompetent to stand trial, but the decision was later reversed. While in prison, his brother said, Quinn once to tried to cut himself.

This was a troubled man who had been arrested and charged with illegal possession of a gun and drugs. Clearly he should have had more help. Some in the gun rights community believe we should do more with our mental health system. They are right. But we shouldn’t just deal with mental health issues and ignore the gun violence issue. And dealing with our mental health system will require all hands on deck and funding. It’s not easy to do. In this case, the man was armed with a screw driver and not a gun. One has to wonder what kind of damage may have been done had he had a gun instead of a screw driver.

There was another domestic related shooting in Minneapolis hat ended in the death of 2 people. Police have not released information about the details or the names but the “father” living in the home surrendered to police.

And finally one is dead and one injured in a shooting in downtown Minneapolis last night:

One man was dead and another was injured late Friday in Minneapolis in a shooting, police said.

The shooting happened about 10:35 p.m., according to authorities, who were alerted by the city’s ShotSpotter system.

When officers arrived, they found the dead man in front of a residence as well as a number of people in the area, police said in a statement early Saturday.

Among that group, the officers found the wounded man, who had been shot in a foot, the statement said. An ambulance took the hurt man to North Memorial Medical Center.

Another 4 dead and one injured in the course of 2 days in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. This on top of the 9 dead and one injured in the previous week as I wrote about in the above linked previous post on this blog.

Now what? Will we just watch as the shootings continue? Or will we take action and think about the words of the Pope in his visit to our country? We are the only country in the world that allows such awful and devastating carnage to continue unabated without taking immediate action. The gun lobby has an outsized and ludicrous influence on our political system that makes no common sense. It is way past time to act in the name of our moral values, our duty to provide safety, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to the citizens of our communities. For the sake of our children and our future as a country, we just have to be better than this. Pope Francis was trying to tell us something and asked an important question.

He has spoken out before on shootings and gun manufacturers after the shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston:

The Pope openly criticized arms manufacturers, referring to Christians who manufacture or invest in weapons as hypocritical. “It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?” Pope Francis said at his speech in Turn, Italy, reports Reuters. (…) According to a report conducted by The Guardian, Italy averages 11.9 firearms per 100 people. The United States, on the other hand, has the world’s highest average at 88 guns per 100 people. The number of gun homicides is also relatively low in Italy, with 0.71 per 100,000 people compared to 2.97 per 100,000 people in the U.S. In the U.S., the pope’s negative comments about gun manufacturers might not have been received so warmly.

And finally, from the linked article above regarding the Pope and gun violence:

As Obama mentioned in his recent appearance on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, gun sales often spike following tragedies like the one that occurred in South Carolina on June 17.

Ironically, the president mentioned, gun manufacturers benefit from high-profile mass murders due to citizens’ fears that gun rights may be revoked.

In the U.S., despite repeated instances of mass gun violence, it’s unlikely gun control laws will significantly change any time soon. Considering the pope’s influence in nations around the world, his outspoken comments about the violent nature of guns may continue. Perhaps at least the 69.4 million Catholics in the U.S. — 22 percent of the overall population — will heed his words.

The Pope can have a powerful influence and let’s hope his visit here will lead our religious leaders to get more involved and take action. Will we listen to the Pope’s words and will we answer his questions?

Guns as available as candy

Chocolate, vector

In America guns are almost as readily available as candy. That is not just me talking. That is a quote from this article about yet another “accidental” shooting of a child by a child- this time in my state of Minnesota. Let’s take a look at the quote from this article:

Wilson said it is far too easy for children to get their hands on a gun.

“These kids can get a gun just like they can go and get a Snickers bar,” said Wilson, who has found himself responding to shootings in Minneapolis to help loved ones cope. “It’s not a surprise to the people who know.”

People know. It’s not a surprise. Kids can get guns like they can get candy. Kids can find loaded guns in parks. And then kids “play” with guns and sometimes when adults are in the same house. Adults are responsible for this. All guns start out as legal purchases. They don’t fall from the sky and end up in parks or in the hands of felons or others who should not have them.

And now a brother has killed his older brother. A family is devastated. A community is devastated. These are avoidable and senseless deaths.

If people know, why aren’t we doing something about this? Where do we think a gun laying around in a park comes from? Shouldn’t kids be playing in parks without fear of them coming across a gun? Obviously the gun was not a legally owned gun. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say obviously because “law abiding” gun owners have been known to leave guns laying around in bathrooms, or leaving them behind in store dressing rooms or in purses or backpacks, etc. I have written about these real life incidents many times before. But in this case, I suspect the gun was “lost” by someone else who shouldn’t have had it.

We have, by most estimates, about 300 million guns in one place or another in America. Many are legally owned. Many are not. This is about one gun per person. Stunning. With that many guns around it is inevitable that the incident I linked to above happened. It will happen again and again and it has happened before. On average, 9 kids a day are shot in America. About 7 die. Why isn’t this a national emergency?

Where is common sense?

We have such a cavalier attitude about guns in our country that finding a gun in a park is no big deal apparently. And when adults just assume that their kids know better than to play with a gun, I would say we have a serious unaddressed problem. And thanks to the corporate gun lobby,this problem is leading to devastating and avoidable gun injuries and deaths all over our country.

Just because it hasn’t happened in your community doesn’t mean it won’t. Until we get serious about having the national conversation that we deserve to have our children will be at risk. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. They are not toys. They should not be as available as candy bars. They should be difficult to access by those who shouldn’t have access- period.

The irony of this attitude towards guns appears in this great video by Comedian Amy Schumer in which a woman is asking why she can’t access birth control. Watch to the end for the best punch line. You can watch it here and decide for yourself:

http://likescake.tumblr.com/post/117172623563

Point made. Guns are easily available to children- birth control for women? Not so much.

And before I go, I must refer my readers to this awful incident, yet another of a “law abiding” Florida parent mishandling a gun resulting in the death of his own child.From the article:

Hernandez was only confirmed as the shooter through Bay County Court documents. According to court records, Hernandez was in another room of the apartment “practicing form in front of the mirror and the gun … accidentally went off and went through the mirror and the wall and fatally injured the daughter,” his attorney reported.

Practicing his form? For what? Does this guy need to look good while carrying that gun or shooting it? In what world is he living? Oh, right- the world of those who think carrying a gun makes them look macho and where nothing bad will ever happen with their own gun. Or something. At any rate, that need to practice how you would look while wearing your gun can lead to tragic consequences. A child is dead.

Sigh.

Where is common sense?