Denial about gun deaths

man escaping realityIn my last post I referenced a “conversation” I had with a gun rights supporter while standing in line for the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on two bills that would keep guns away from dangerous people.  I want to talk about the denial of the gun rights community about what “universal” background checks actually mean.

I also want to talk about other lies and denials. The same man waiting in line with us to get into the committee hearing actually responded to my comment that I grew up in a hunting family and that my husband owned hunting guns by telling me I was lying to him. Really? Apparently he felt he could say anything and knew my life better than I did. There is no conversing with people like this. For what purpose would this man deny a comment made by someone about their own life and their own truth? It was incomprehensible.

Pretending and denying reality just won’t make the facts go away and doing so for a political purpose or for some unproven fear of rights being taken is disingenuous. And the corporate gun lobby has another reason for this denial- profits. Profits over saving lives is a vision for America that will keep people dying and keep people buying their guns out of fear and paranoia.

Inexcusable.

Some folks think gun violence prevention supporters are lying about everything. The facts and the truth don’t fit with their pre-conceived notions and fear and paranoia served up to them by the far right media and the gun lobby itself in the person of Mr. Wayne LaPierre. I mean, do they really believe this crap? Check out this new ad put out by the NRA after the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs and just before San Bernardino terror shooting:

“Innocents like us,” LaPierre says, addressing his NRA members directly to camera, “will continue to be slaughtered in concert halls, sports stadiums, restaurants and airplanes.”

“They will come to where we worship,” LaPierre warns as ominous music waves over blurred images of American everyday life, “where we educate and where we live.”

“But when evil knocks on our doors, Americans have a power no other people on the planet share,” LaPierre proudly proclaims, touting the Second Amendment. “Let fate decide if mercy is offered to the demons at our door.”

Good grief. Or you can check out this insanity yourself if you want to watch the video of the ad:

The denial and lies were obvious during the Minnesota hearing when the opposition to the two bills heard by the committee called the “universal background check” bill ( which it wasn’t called by the way) the “universal registration bill”. The committee chair and sponsor of the bill, Senator Ron Latz, made it quite clear that there was no registration in the bill. One can’t find that word or even anything that resembles gun registration in the language of the bill. But never mind. Denial and accusations of lies were thrown around copiously by those who testified in opposition to a bill that would be intended to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them. Do they actually want felons, those who are adjudicated mentally ill, domestic abusers and other prohibited people to get their hands on guns? I just can’t wrap my head around such faulty reasoning.

I think it’s time to take a look at this comedy segment from Inside Amy Schumer from her Comedy Central show.

The truth. Thank you Amy Schumer.

But back to the man in line with me who got increasingly angry when I challenged his “facts”. He “explained” to me that all of the gun violence in Minnesota is due to gang shootings. Now admittedly there have been a good number of shootings in the Twin Cities area involving gang activity. But according to Gun Violence Archive, there have been a good number of shootings in greater Minnesota as well in communities all over our state. Avon, Duluth, Waseca, Rochester, Shakopee, Plymouth and many other communities not named.

This man must have conveniently forgotten the recent heinous shooting of a woman in Plymouth, Minnesota as she tried to get away from her fiancee, angry over something that happened in a bar. She was shot to death right on a busy street as people watched. Not a gang shooting.

He must have conveniently forgotten the shooting that happened last week when a husband shot and killed his wife in a domestic shooting in Ramsey, Minnesota and then himself- in front of their young children. Not a gang shooting.

He must have conveniently forgotten the shooting incident last winter at a resort in Tofte, Minnesota when a man with a permit to carry shot and killed another man at a company party. Not a gang shooting.

There are so many more but I don’t room for them here. These gun rights folks also conveniently ( or inconveniently) forget that 80% of gun deaths in Minnesota are suicides. Teens and older men are the most frequent victims of gun suicides. That is an inconvenient truth.

And here is another inconvenient truth. Gang shooting victims are not the majority of gun violence victims. From this article by Evan DeFillipis for Huffington Post:

The most recent Centers for Disease Control study on this subject lends further credence to our claim. It examined five cities that met the criterion for having a high prevalence of gang homicides: Los Angeles, California; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Long Beach, California; Oakland, California; and Newark, New Jersey. In these cities, a total of 856 gang and 2,077 non-gang homicides were identified and included in the analyses. So, even when examining cities with the largest gang problems, gang homicides only accounted for 29 percent of the total for the period under consideration (2003-2008). For the nation as a whole it would be much smaller.

(…) The 80 percent of gang-related gun homicides figure purporting to support Loesch’s claim, then, is not only false, but off by nearly a factor of five. The direct opposite is necessarily true: more than 80 percent of gun homicides are non-gang related. While gang violence is still a serious problem that needs to be addressed, it is disingenuous to assert that the vast majority of our gun problem (even excluding suicides) is caused by gangs.

In spite of this, LaPierre’s proposed solution to gun violence is to “contact every U.S. Attorney and ask them to bring at least 10 cases per month against drug dealers, gang members and other violent felons caught illegally possessing firearms.”

And the article ends with this truth:

Gun advocates’ blind focus on gangs, drugs and violent felons overlooks the larger gun problem facing America. It is irresponsible and disingenuous for some of us to brush off our staggering death toll from firearms merely as the product of gangs or even violent criminals. Recognizing America’s high homicide rate for what it is — a gun problem — is the first step in solving it.

The man in line showed me an article from one of his own conservative sites that made a claim that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that gang deaths were the majority of gun deaths. The article I have quoted is the truth. The CDC has reported no such thing. This man apparently has digested what Mr. Wayne La Pierre and others in the gun lobby are suggesting in denial of the truth.

And this, dear readers, is why we are making little progress in any common sense solutions to our national public health and safety epidemic. It is also why we need very good and credible research on the effects of guns and gun violence in our country. But the gun lobby has cleverly managed to even halt that. This is just not OK. We shouldn’t accept this kind of faulty reasoning when the truth is staring us in the face.

We have a gun problem in America. It is not like in any other democratized country not at war. It is inconvenient to some. It is tragic and devastating to many.

We are better than this.

Road rage in Minnesota

RoadrageIt’s happened again. Someone decided to take out their anger over a traffic problem with a gun. Why do people carry guns in their cars? That is the question. Let’s look at what happened in Minneapolis yesterday:

 

A 39-year-old woman who honked at a vehicle that cut her off was shot four times in rush-hour traffic on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis Tuesday.

Police spokesman John Elder said the woman was southbound near Groveland Avenue at 5 p.m. when she was cut off by a beige four-door Jeep Cherokee with tinted windows.

She honked at the car, which then slowed down next to her driver side, and a passenger shot at her multiple times with a black handgun, Elder said. The victim, who was shot three times in the arm and once in the stomach, drove several blocks and called 911. She is hospitalized and expected to survive her injuries, police said.

The shooter has not been found yet but no doubt he will be. When he is, many questions need to be asked. Was he a law abiding permit holder? Was the gun legally obtained or illegally obtained. How did he get the gun? And the biggest question- why shoot someone over a honk?

This is not the first time road rage incidents have ended in injury or death by gun and not the first time in Minnesota. Five women were shot at in January as they were being driven on a freeway in an Uber car- just in January of this year. The shooter has not yet been found.

I could list many more in Minnesota and in states all over the country but you get the picture.

So shouldn’t we be able to drive on roads and freeways without fear of being shot? I say the answer is a resounding YES. So why allow guns in cars in the first place? Before Minnesota passed a law in 2005 to allow “law abiding” gun owners to carry guns around with them wherever they go, this was just not happening. Or if it was, it was pretty rare. Sure, some who have illegal guns have likely been carrying guns around all along. But now we have made it part of our every day culture as if it is normal. It’s not.

Further, we have not even discussed children finding guns in their parents’ cars or permit holders shooting themselves while fiddling with guns in their cars. It happens often and I have written about this before. Most recently a Florida child found his mother’s gun in her car and shot it off “accidentally” sending a bullet flying through the front seat, injuring his gun loving mother in the back.

Senseless.

If you look at the image in this post, you can see a man shaking his fist. No one died or was injured as a result. But when a gun is there at the ready, the result is very different. And that is the problem with allowing guns everywhere we play, drive, live, learn, work, eat and walk.

No wonder 141 public health institutions, including the Minnesota Public Health Association, have signed a letter to Congress asking for an end to the funding prohibition for the Centers for Disease Control to study the causes and effects of gun violence. It is the health care providers who treat the injured and deal with the deaths. They understand perfectly well that bullets cause death and injury. They deal with health risks every day and they want some answers. They also understand that, like other public health epidemics, we can do something about it if we understand how it is caused. That is the American way. It’s all about common sense. We all deserve the questions and the answers and most importantly, the victims deserve a chance at live so their families will not be left with a large hole in their lives due to the shooting of a loved one.

If you believe its normal for people to be shooting at innocent drivers and passengers while they are going about their daily business, you are part of the problem. But since I know that most of you agree with me, the time is now to express your frustration and concern over a public health and safety issue that many of our leaders have chosen to ignore. Lives can be saved. And lives are taken every day in senseless avoidable incidents like the ones above.

If you’ve had #Enough of this craziness, let your legislators and Congress members know that you expect them to stand up for the victims and not the gun lobby whose interest lies in profits over saving lives. Get involved. Speak up. Write letters. Send emails. Make phone calls. Join a gun violence prevention group. That is how change will happen. A bill to require background checks on all gun sales is sitting in the Minnesota legislature waiting for a hearing. Protect Minnesota supports this legislation and is asking legislators to sign on and bring it to a hearing. It won’t get a hearing if you don’t make some noise. Similar background check bills are sitting in Congress waiting for enough co-sponsors to bring them to committee hearings. That won’t happen if you don’t make noise.