Activist mommies

mommy activistThis morning one of the commenters who reads my blog but rarely gets published called me an “activist Mommie”.  Check it out here:

Why is your only response to post a link and text to an NRA sponsored site? I’ve not proffered anything of the sort….I asked you where is the primary source foundation for the gun control lobby’s assertions, where it regards the 2nd Amendment?

Read any of the Framers debates over the intent and verbiage during the ratification of the 2nd Amendment; then read a bit of at least one of the philosophical influences as directly and explicitly admitted by said Framers. I recommend Algernon Sidney.

Simply playing narratives between the NRA and activist Mommies is lazy.

First of all, this kind of demeaning and misogynistic comment is not rare coming from gun rights extremists. I have been called all kinds of names, including the “c” word, as has my dead sister. They think we are “weak” according to this commenter who calls himself “Constitutional Insurgent”, whatever that means. He believes he knows more about the constitution than the rest of us yet refused to provide any evidence of what he was claiming. He got mad when I provided him with a site supported by the NRA.  Whatever.

We are not going to sit home baking cookies and doing what some think is what women should be doing.

But I did look up something about Algernon Sidney, as “Insurgent” suggested but provided me with no links. Just as I suspected, Sidney, who died in 1683, was a limited government guy :

“Furthermore, Sidney believed that civil government should have limited jurisdiction. He said the, “only ends for which governments are constituted and obedience rendered to them, are the obtaining of justice and protection.” This suggests a limited civil government whose primary purpose is to 1) render legal justice through its court system and 2) provide for the safety of its citizens. We can also conclude from Sidney that, if a government fails to accomplish these basic components, obedience to that government is no longer required.”

So we are supposed to base current gun policy on writings from the 17th century read by our founding fathers? I’m sure they read a lot of scholarly research in forming the Constitution. The Constitution is an incredible document reflecting both limited government and the need for a strong federal government. It was a compromise that has worked pretty well for our country. But as I pointed out in my last post, the  Constitution, in my opinion, can (and has) change with the times. And since guns have changed dramatically, laws need to reflect our current culture and life, not that of those who lived in the 17th century. I like to read about history as well. But I can also see that, while it is important to know what came before us, it is also important that we deal with present problems.

The second amendment and its’ various interpretations, is thrown up as the reason why we can’t do anything about all of the carnage in our country. That is a weak and unsupported argument that has won the argument for far too long. The second amendment does not guarantee a God given right to own whatever gun one wants by anyone who wants to carry anywhere one wants to. If someone can find a reference to guns in the Bible or other early Biblical, Jewish, Muslim or any other religious teachings, let me know. And don’t send me the stuff about taking up swords. That is a nonsensical argument, at best.

This article in The Trace, written by a law scholar, says this about recent second amendment rulings in the Supreme Court:

Assuming that Heller remains on the books, what does it mean for the future of gun rights and gun regulation in the United States? Probably not as much as supporters of gun regulation fear, nor as much as gun rights proponents want. Despite broad claims about its likely impact, the “individual right” interpretation of the Second Amendment has not radically changed the legal landscape. Roughly 95 percent of Second Amendment challenges brought since Heller have failed, and the evolving doctrine leaves ample room for reasonable gun regulations. The primary obstacles to stronger gun laws remain political, not constitutional.

But back to hateful rhetoric, it comes straight from the top. One of the NRA Board members, Ted Nugent, is famous for this offensive , racist, anti-semitic, and rude comments when he “performs” in public or otherwise speaks at NRA events or on NRA radio. There is pushback for an upcoming appearance by Nugent in my state of Minnesota as well there should be.

Yesterday the Republican nominee for President, Mr. Donald J. Trump, intimated that the Muslim mother of a solder killed in Iraq didn’t speak out at the Democratic National Convention when she stood beside her husband, Khizr Kahn because she was Muslim. This, of course, is a typical dog whistle issued by Trump and others like him.

Kahn, speaking at the DNC, took on Trump’s offensive remarks about a Muslim ban in America considering that his own son, a Muslim, signed up to fight in Iraq for his own country of America and was killed in combat. It was a powerful and emotional moment for all of us. But Trump and his ilk don’t like to be challenged by the facts and the truth. So they fight back with offensive lies meant to deflect the truth of the matter. In the process they tear down Muslims, people of color, women and anyone who doesn’t think or look like them.

After the convention, both of the Kahns were interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnel on MSNBC. Mrs. Kahn spoke and spoke powerfully about the pain she has experienced and how hard it is for her to talk about her son. Mr. Kahn said that she was the strong one and helped him write his speech.

If this had not been a Muslim couple on stage and only one person spoke, would Trump have attacked them? We know the answer.

When will this stop? Will someone be shot? I’m just wondering.

This kind of fear mongering and offensive rhetoric is coming straight from the man at the top of the Republican ticket. Why are other Republicans not speaking out against this? That question needs to be answered.

Just as the NRA leadership is not speaking out against Nugents’ offenses and vile remarks, it comes from the top. And it implicates everyone who doesn’t speak out.

So then, why allow these type of comments on articles on the web? Many are too vile to say out loud. Take this attack on Massachusetts Attorney General   who had the nerve to speak out in favor of an assault weapons ban. God forbid! Another activist Mommy in favor of stopping people from getting shot in a mass shooting by an angry young male. Check it out:

“Another [expletive] woman passing laws based off emotional bias this is why woman[sic] should not have leading roles they’re emotionally to [sic] weak,” wrote a grammatically challenged charmer.

They’ve called Healey ugly, her agenda satanic, and taunted her for being gay. One person tweeted that he’d like to hire a homeless man to rape and disembowel the attorney general alive. A commenter on a gun nut blog tracked down her home address and posted it. (…)

They don’t attack only women, of course.

“A day doesn’t go by that I am not called the worst kind of Jew on the planet,” said John Rosenthal, the longtime gun control activist. “I’m ‘a Jew faggot,’ or I ‘should have been killed in an oven.’ It’s disgusting.”

And then the article ended with this cogent assessment:

Oh, good grief, you may be thinking, Can’t you just ignore them? These are just fringe-dwelling fools. They can’t even spell. The thing is, the fringe is wide. And when somebody sends you a note threatening you with rape and murder, it can get to you, even if you’ve grown inured to garden-variety torment.

You’re not supposed to admit this, of course. You’re damned if you call these cretins out — it gives them oxygen, makes you seem like a victim — and damned if you don’t, because they just keep doing it. The world, especially online, is replete with men who straight-up hate women.

For her part, Healey has opted for oxygen deprivation, declining to comment on the torrents of misogyny. She did say she was determined to keep fighting to control the spread of weapons designed to mow down as many people as possible. Which guarantees further abuse.

“I am not going to back down,” she said. “I believe this is right and appropriate and lawful and something we need to do.”

Good for Healey. We need to stand up to these attacks and stand together. But now we have a woman nominee who is likely to win the race for the White House. They will hate her every bit as much as they have hated our first Black President. It won’t be pretty.

I, for one, am proud to be an activist Mommy and Grandmother. There are a lot of us and the majority of men, gun owners and NRA members have joined us in our support of legislation that would stop and prevent some of our daily carnage. If those right wing gun activists oppose that, then the weakness is theirs, not ours. Congress is the weak link here but that is going to change soon.

The Million Mom March, which I attended in 2000 on the Mall in Washington DC was a pivotal moment in the movement to prevent gun violence. It brought mothers and others together as one to oppose the overly powerful and influential gun lobby whose weakening of gun policy and opposition to anything that would save lives had kept our Congress from acting.  Chapters were formed all over the country and are now affiliated with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, named for Jim Brady who was shot in an assassination attempt against President Reagan. The gun nuts hated Sarah Brady. She was regularly attacked and abused by them. She was a strong woman who apparently threatened their world.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America, affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety has brought millions more into the movement for sanity.

The shooting of a woman sitting Congressman, Gabby Giffords, started a movement formed by Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly- Americans for Responsible Solutions. Her voice is strong and powerful when she speaks and her story resonates. Gun activists don’t like her either.

Other organizations are active and include mommies, daddies, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, grandparents, nieces, nephews and friends of people who have been shot. What the gun rights extremists don’t like about us is that we are the majority and we are changing the conversation that they have had to themselves for far too long. Our influence is now changing the minds and hearts of our elected leaders and a tipping point is upon us.

We are all attacked on a regular basis by those who fear our power to change their small minority of resistance to reasonable changes to gun laws and their fear of tyranny, people not like them, zombies and their own shadows.

This kind of shameful, ludicrous, fact free attack has to be challenged and called out for what it is. Hate. Fear. Sexist. Racist. Offensive. Rude. Unacceptable. Who are the weak ones who are so afraid of the mothers and others who want to do something about the shootings?

Where is common sense?

 

UPDATE:

Since I wrote about Donald Trump demeaning the mother of a Muslim soldier here is her response from an article:

In an opinion piece published Sunday on The Washington Post’s website, Ghazala Khan responded directly to Trump.

“Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart,” she wrote.

She said Trump is “ignorant” when he talks about Islam. Trump has called for banning Muslims from entering the United States.

“If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion.” she wrote. “Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.”

On Sunday, Khizr Khan defended his wife’s silence at the convention, telling CNN that she is ill, has high blood pressure and cannot keep herself composed when she sees images of her son.

I suggest that the extremists stop their demeaning, misogynistic, rude and offensive comments. But first, those at the top have to stop. Who will stop them?

 

UPDATE #2

In Oregon, a woman Governor can’t support gun laws that will save lives without receiving threats against her life. Remember, the guys with the guns are likely the ones making the threats. This is simply not OK. From the article:

“Instead of voicing passionate opinions or dissent as part of exercising free speech, they express intent to cause her harm, ugly threats of physical violence and death,” said Kristen Grainger, Brown’s communications director. “Potentially dangerous individuals have attempted to breach security perimeters on more than one occasion.”

Grainger and others say Brown’s role in calling for an end to this winter’s armed occupation near Burns, along with her recent backing of three gun-control bills, appear to have ramped up threats.

I will let it speak for itself.

 

#NRAAM NRA Convention, 2016 version

liarIf it’s May, it must be NRA convention time. The lies have just begun.So far, it has proven to be the usual with the exception of a certain Presidential candidate who showed up and spoke from notes he doesn’t usually use. From this article:

 

Trump also made it clear he wanted to woo the pro-gun crowd — but he seemed bored by his prepared remarks during his speech, joking about teleprompters before veering off onto other topics throughout the speech and even belittling his own remarks.

What did he say? More lies. But the crowd loved the lies and were excited to applaud a man whose transformation from a real estate guy who used to be in favor of common sense when it came to gun violence to a full-on card carrying NRA gun guy. He was, of course, endorsed by the NRA.

Whatever.

The lies? Let’s take them one at a time:

Donald Trump will make gun free zones guns allowed zones immediately upon taking the oath of office. Will that include his own properties? Will that include the annual NRA convention where guns are not allowed? It will, apparently include schools where it’s always a good idea for gun toters and teachers to be armed.

If this was such a good idea, why in the world are we the most dangerous country in the world when it comes to gun violence? Is this the great America Trump wants for us? How about this? Let’s make America safe again, a new slogan from Moms Demand Action. While the NRA is talking about more guns everywhere, a group of gun violence prevention activists will hold a screening of Katie Couric’s film, Under the Gun. featuring victims of gun violence telling their poignant stories.

We have more guns per person ( though many of those guns are owned by fewer people) already than any other country in the civilized and democratized world. And this kind of illogic fails to speak the truth. Most gun deaths are in guns allowed zones already. Take domestic shootings, many of which occur inside of homes. Or gun suicides, which often occur in a home where a gun is not only allowed but easily accessible to use in a suicide. Homes are not gun free zones since anyone can have a gun inside of their own home. I know that from personal experience.

Or gun ranges where people are killing themselves with increasing frequency?

Or how about hospitals, which are mostly gun free, where people like this lady who carried a gun in spite of the gun free zone, “accidentally” discharged her weapon injuring an innocent person.

Or what about cars? Are they gun free? Nope. Remember this one and this one where a toddler got their hands on a gun and shot their own parent? Or the guy who “accidentally” discharged his gun while sitting in his car waiting for his wife. Or the woman who was adjusting her bra gun holster and shot and killed herself?  Gun free zone? You decide.

Or how about taking selfies with your phone? Presumably the place where this happened was not a gun free zone.

Bars and restaurants in many states allow concealed guns inside. It hasn’t worked out particularly well as in this case, or this one. Or this one where a man forgot he had his gun when it fell from his jacket pocket in a restaurant ( presumably not a gun free zone) badly injuring one of the customers whose injuries will be life long. Or this Kansas man ( “law abiding gun owner) whose gun went off in a restaurant injuring his own wife. There are pages and pages of incidents like these if you look on the internet. Most of them occur in guns allowed zones. But if they occur in “gun free zones” who can one defend oneself from a stupid and dangerous gun carrier who believes he/she has a right to carry a loaded gun in public and then makes a terrible and sometimes deadly mistake. There’s no accounting for stupidity. But stupidity with a loaded gun is very serious stuff.

#Enough

Let’s move on to some more lies. Trump is making claims that Hillary Clinton wants to confiscate all guns and take away American’s right to own guns. Silly Donald. He knows better. But pandering to the minority of gun owners who are extreme in their positions is his ticket, he believes, to winning the election. Most NRA members don’t believe this and actually support requiring background checks on all gun sales. Shhhh. Don’t tell the Donald this. It doesn’t fit with his new-found support of gun rights.

Oh, and then there’s the lie about Hillary Clinton wanting violent criminals to go free. Just because he says so does not make it true. But never mind. Trying to make women fear crime in order to drive them to gun stores to buy a gun or to the polling booths is cynical at best and doesn’t deal with the truth that women are more at risk when there are guns in the home. But here is what Donald said anyway to get votes from women:

“In trying to overturn the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton is telling everyone — and every woman living in a dangerous community — that she doesn’t have the right to defend herself,” Mr. Trump said. “So you have a woman living in a community, a rough community, a bad community — sorry, you can’t defend yourself.”

Trump has had a lot of trouble with his support from women because of his many comments and insults since his entry into the Presidential race.

It’s also the usual suspects who come calling at this display of gun extremism. Of course, it wouldn’t be an NRA convention without good old Wayne LaPierre whose annual speeches to convention goers never fail to drum up fear and paranoia. And then the list of politicians who have to pay homage to this group of gun extremists shows how our leaders are so afraid to admit that the second amendment actually can co-exist with gun rights as it has for many years now.

Sigh.

And what about those NRA leaders and Board members? Here’s a nice list so you can see who they are and who they represent. Ted Nugent, of course, is one of the loud mouth NRA Board members who offends people and issues racial and sexist slurs on a regular basis. And in late breaking news, Nugent was re-elected to the NRA Board with the 2nd highest vote total. That tells us everything we need to know about the participants at the convention and their willingness to support hate, racism and crudity.

And of course, if we follow the money to find out how the NRA is actually funded we don’t have to look much further than executives of Sturm-Ruger who presented the NRA-ILA with a nice 4 million dollar check. 

The displays are the usual- guns and more guns. And don’t forget those ugly displays of bleeding look-alike gun targets (women, Barack Obama, etc) , hyped up slogans and swag with anti-Obama sayings and more ludicrous lies about those who support the idea that 30,000 American gun deaths are too many.

In Louisville, Kentucky, the site of the annual convention this year, it’s been a bad year for gun deaths:

“We are having an epidemic,” says Michelle Unseld Thomas, a resident of the South Side.

The violence in Louisville right now is “unprecedented,” says Brown, the police major.

But never mind. The NRA doesn’t get involved in trying to prevent this upward trend of people shooting other people. One has to wonder if their insular world includes anyone who has become a victim of a gun death by suicide, homicide, or an “accidental” shooting. Likely not.

And the shootings continue unabated. Children are shooting themselves or each other daily. Domestic shootings are taking the lives of innocent women and children. Suicides account for the majority of gun deaths. Young men in communities of color are the victims of way too many shootings thanks to easy access to guns and mass shootings happen in America like in no other country in the world.

One of the biggest lies is that guns don’t affect suicide rates and that suicides should not be considered to be gun violence. That is false. Studies confirm that access to guns makes suicide easier and, of course, deadlier. A new study from the Journal of Public Health confirms this. If only the NRA could admit that guns contribute to the majority of gun deaths in America and believe in research and studies that deal with public health and safety. But denial and outright deception by the corporate gun lobby has kept the government from studying important issues like this. Follow the money for the reasons.

But never mind the truth. This convention is all about convincing those in attendance and those who get the NRA’s mailings and emails that America will only be safer if more people own guns to protect themselves from the government and all of those evil shadows lurking around every corner in every nook and cranny. Never mind that those guns are much more likely to be used against you or someone around you than in self defense.

And those militia groups and people who actually do believe the government is coming for your guns? I feel sorry for their fear. It must be difficult to live in a world where that kind of fear prompts people to have their own arsenals. It’s  a burden to have to live this way. Plus, it sometimes leads to home grown terrorism as in this deadly incident in Nevada.

Are we safer because of the hyped fear and paranoia spewed by gun rights extremists and those who speak at NRA conventions?

A recent study of angry behavior which received responses from gun owners and non gun owners revealed what we all most likely believe to be the truth. There are a lot of angry (mostly men) with guns carried for “self defense” who just may use them for something else. From the article by “Mike the Gun Guy”:

Where the number of guns owned by individuals seemed to be a real risk issue can be found in the correlation between number of guns owned, engaging in any of the three anger indicators and carrying a gun outside the home. The good news in this survey was that less than 5 percent of the respondents reported that they walked around with a gun. The not-so-good news is that folks who owned six or more guns and carried a concealed weapon reported that they engaged in at least one of the three impulsive behaviors four times more frequently than persons who owned five or fewer guns.

This study and others about anger and guns lends the lie to the idea that guns will make us safer. Way too often angry people with guns shoot others in an instant because they can. And that is the real America.

We can’t afford to lie about gun violence. And we sure as heck cannot afford to have one of our major political party candidates for President of the United States lying about something this serious.It is a national public health and safety epidemic that is largely going untreated because of the lies. Are we on the side of a safer America or one that allows lies and deceptions to determine policies and treatment that can save lives? This election will determine on whose side we are.

 

 

 

 

Our national failure to honor gun violence vicims with action

we failed themThis past week gun violence prevention groups, the religious community and others attracted thousands of supporters in vigils, marches, bell ringings, protests and other activities. The gun violence prevention community is strong and getting stronger. Newtown Action Alliance and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence have for 3 years now organized people around the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Yesterday was the 3rd anniversary of the nation’s most heinous school shooting. We all know about it, right?

And yet, in spite of all of this and in spite of overwhelming public support to change our gun laws, our Congress has turned their backs on the American people for years. That is going to change. We can not be ignored any longer.

In my city of Duluth we held a bell ringing to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and the many many others of mass shootings in 2015 and “every day ” shootings. 70 attended on a cold, blustery day to support our efforts. Local clergy, law enforcement, community activists and elected leaders joined us to ring our bell in memory of lost loved ones. I got a note after the event from one of the police officers who rang the bell. Here is what he said:

I just wanted to say thank you for organizing and asking us to be part of today’s bell ringing.  My heart was broken as I listened to people tell of all the losses due to gun violence.  Thanks to both of you for being strong and sharing with us.  A few years back I was involved in an incident where a violent suspect we were trying to arrest broke into a house and shot a 21 year old girl as he was trying to evade us.   The girl survived, I often think of her and wonder how she is doing, she experienced something many of us only see when we watch a horror movie.  I know she has had huge struggles at times.  I thought of her today during the ringing.

Thanks again for working so hard on this, you are so appreciated.

I know that some of my readers are gun rights enthusiasts and don’t appreciate anything I do. So be it. But the fact is, the nation wants change. The national gun violence prevention events started with a vigil at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill to which many victims of gun violence were invited to speak. Candles were lit. Tears fell. Victims gathered together for support, ready to go out into the country to change things.

Everytown  posted about marches all over the country last week-end with hundreds in attendance at each. The Brady Campaign has posted photos of the march in DC with activists there and in other places in the country. Moms Demand Action held many orange walks with hundreds of participants. We’ve had #enough. Thousands are texting to call and calling our Representatives and Senators. Independent state groups have held events with hundreds in attendance in good weather and bad. Over 300 people marched in Denver, for example. Children carried candles in Pennsylvania. North Carolina activists lit candles as well. Folks have made cards for victims, posted photos of why they are acting on web pages and Facebook and Twitter. Faith groups rang bells, had events, included litany in services and preached about gun violence. This has not happened before. 350 people protested outside of the NRA headquarters yesterday. The public is engaged.

We are acting and we will honor the victims with our actions. The gun lobby is acting in its’ own self interest and making profits while doing it. There is no common sense to any of this.

The Center for American Progress has released a great report with actions that can be taken by the state executives. If Congress fails to act, we will get state executives to act. Whatever it takes is what we will do. It’s all hands on deck. We’ve had enough. We want action. Thoughts and prayers are nice and fine but they don’t get Congress to do anything. It’s an American tragedy that we have turned our backs on the victims of gun violence and have done virtually nothing.

We should have acted after Columbine. But we didn’t. We should have acted after Virginia Tech but we didn’t. We should have acted after the Aurora theater shooting or after the Tucson shooting when one of their own, Representative Gabby Giffords, was shot and seriously injured in a public meeting with constituents. But we didn’t. And we didn’t act after the Umpqua community college shooting, nor the Charleston shooting of 9 innocent black people, nor the Fort Hood shooting or the Navy Yard shooting or the Tamir Rice shooting, or Trayvon Martin, or for goodness sake, the shooting on live TV of 2 young Roanoke, Virginia journalists.

We should be acting every day to keep 89 Americans from being shot in domestic homicides, homicides committed in anger or fear, suicides or children “accidentally” shooting themselves or others with guns they have accessed and shouldn’t have. We have failed to act. We have failed the victims.

How can we keep ignoring this? It’s the question that should be asked at all presidential debates and all candidate debates going forward. Our politicians need to know that if they don’t change, we will change them. They have failed us. They have failed to do their jobs. We’ve had enough and we are ready for action. Let’s get to work.

In my sister’s name and her memory, I will not let this inaction continue. I can’t fail to do something about her senseless and tragic shooting death. I will not let my elected leaders ignore my voice or the voice of the many victims we honored in the past week.

 

Guns and anger over holiday cups

angry SantaI’m sure you’ve all noticed that the Christmas holiday season is upon us. Last week while at the local Mall with friends, I snapped a photo of a window display with Christmas trees included with the dresses and pants. It seemed too early to me and maybe earlier than ever. I don’t know, is it? Also the muzak was blaring from the speakers playing Silent Night and other jollier Christmas tunes.

I was annoyed but not angry. I am a Christian and attend church and I do love Christmas time. But I really don’t need all of the commercial advertising and reminders. Christmas will happen with or without those things but that is not the reason we celebrate the holiday.

So isn’t it hypocrisy when some in the Christian faith get all upset when people don’t say Merry Christmas during the holidays or don’t advertise the way they want them to? Not all of us are Christians. Some Americans are Jews, some are Muslim, some are Buddhist and some are agnostic. So why does even this have to become controversial?

Now some folks are downright angry about the “holiday” design  ( or lack there-of) on the Starbucks coffee cups. Check out this response from an angry, armed Christian to the Starbucks holiday cups. Just watch the video rant of a man who thinks Starbucks wants to take Christ out of Christmas because they are not using any design on their holiday cups. The cups are red with the usual green Starbucks logo. What’s the big deal? To this man, it’s such a big deal that he shows us his gun and points out that he can carry at Starbucks stores. Oh, and further, Starbucks is against the Second Amendment because they don’t want people like him in their stores carrying guns.

Another article wonders whether Starbucks hates Jesus? What do you think? Should stores respond to this hyperbolic and paranoid nonsense? It’s all over Facebook and Twitter. Here are some of the comments, from the linked article:

“I normally like your post but not this one,” one commenter wrote. “Starbucks is trying to remain neutral and be culturally sensitive to everyone by leaving them blank. You are offended that they don’t say Merry Christmas, but Jewish people would be offended if it only said that, not Happy Hanukkah. So they are leaving them blank so they can’t offend anyone.”

“If you need a coffee chain to be your ambassador of Christ you need to re-examine your relationship w/God,” one Twitter critic wrote.

Sigh.

You may remember the controversy over open carry at Starbucks stores. In 2010, The Brady Campaign pushed Starbucks to prohibit people open carrying from coming into theirs and other stores . Over 35,000 signatures were collected from people who agreed.  More recently Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America, as mentioned in the linked article, took up the push to keep people carrying loaded guns out of Starbucks where families and people come to enjoy coffee, time together and conversation.

The discussion took a different and new turn once the video of the angry Christian displaying a gun was posted in the article I linked to above.  Is there a veiled threat that if Starbucks doesn’t change their coffee cup design, something violent will happen inside? Does anyone with common sense believe this ludicrous display of anger is legitimate?

Should we get into the satire of how many shots you want in your Latte? We have more to fear from the legal gun carriers than an armed person wishing to do harm with a gun inside of a Starbucks store. Let’s take a look at what I mean.

A Florida girl dropped a purse while trying to pay for her Starbucks order, discharging the gun in her purse. The bullet found it’s way to her friend’s leg. And here’s the corker in this article: “Beck told police her father had given her the weapon, but she forgot which purse she had left it in before going shopping, Puetz said. (…) “She was unaware she was carrying the weapon,” he said.” She was not arrested but did not have a permit to carry that gun. What’s that all about? With rights come responsibilities.

A girl who (also) had a gun in her purse ( given to her by her father for self protection) dropped the purse in a Wyoming Starbucks causing the gun to discharge. No one was hurt, luckily for her.

Before getting back to the main point of the story about holiday cups and angry guys with guns, I need to ask why fathers are giving their daughters guns to carry around in their purses?

So back to the Starbucks holiday cup controversy, I write about this only because I want to point out the nature of our gun debate. It has become more angry and ludicrous of late. It’s a concern to those of us involved in gun violence prevention. A friend wrote this blog post about how a victim of gun violence, who posted something on the 3rd anniversary of her domestic shooting, has been demeaned and harassed by the gun trolls. That has happened to me as well.

Is this the America we want or deserve? Surely we are better than this. I think we’ve had #enough of the antics of the gun extremists and those who claim their Christian faith requires a company to advertise their way or else.

What happened to Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All? 

Halloween fear and paranoia

halloween_zombieWas it a coincidence that the writer of this letter that appeared in my home town newspaper was trying to scare everyone into believing the gun lobby’s lame talking points? I am going to share the entire text of this letter below:

There are some people who feel we should ban all guns in America. They feel that when there is an incident when someone goes out and kills people that the gun manufacturers are responsible. They feel the gun manufacturers should be sued for these incidents.

But if you did that, you wouldn’t be holding the individual who killed the people responsible.

Recently, a 25-year-old woman drove her car into a crowd of people, killing four and injuring 48. Are you going to hold the automobile manufacturer responsible for this accident? Here again, you pick and choose who you want to be held accountable.

Those who go out and cause all of these deaths and incidents are the ones who need to be held accountable, not the manufacturers of cars and guns and knives, etc.

People kill people, and it doesn’t matter what they use to do it.

This lame deception is the scary talk coming from, yes, the corporate gun lobby. I would remind my readers that the gun industry are the ones who are immune from most lawsuits, thanks to the corporate gun lobby. No other industry shares such immunity from accountability for faulty products or practices. The NRA and its’ friends in Congress just love to trick people into believing their false arguments.

And when a car’s design or malfunction causes an accident to happen, more often than not, lawsuits are filed and the manufacturer is held responsible. This is what leads to changes in design and practices of the auto industry. That is how the gun industry is different from most others. When lives are lost or injuries are sustained because of faulty design or practices, the public takes notice, legal action happens and changes will lead to lives saved.

The writer is wrong. Congress has picked and chosen who is responsible and they granted immunity to only one- the gun industry.

And when a person purposely drives a car into a crowd of people, killing innocent people, he/she is held accountable unless it was a faulty design of the vehicle. But let’s go further here with the writer’s reasoning. How many times do we read or hear about the accident he used as an example?

Here’s one- people were injured but not killed.

Here is the example the writer chose. Let’s look at what happened here, from the article:

“I opened the door and asked her how she was doing, what happened, felt her neck,” he said. “She just looked at me and said she was trying to kill herself. I said, ‘What?’ And she said, ‘I was trying to kill myself.’ And I asked her why and she said, ‘to be free,’” Oglesby said. (…)

Four people were killed in the crash, and 47 were hurt. One of those who died was two years old. Eleven of the injured were 13 years old or younger. (…)

Immediately after the crash, Chambers was taken into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence.

She now faces four counts of second-degree murder. She made a court appearance Monday, via closed-circuit video, during which bond was set at $1 million.

Chambers’ attorney, Tony Coleman believes that mental illness may have played a role in the crash.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Much has been made about mental illness as a source for our gun violence problem. It is a deflection about the actual problem which is that when people are severely mentally ill and have access to a gun, bad things happen. The media is replete with way too many examples of this on a regular basis- more regular than the example above. This woman claims to have been suicidal and was under the influence of alcohol. This is a terrible tragedy for all involved.

Let’s now look at how many people actually succeed in killing themselves by bullets when suicidal. The statistics are enough to scare all of us. In 2010, according to this article, over 19,000 people succeeded in committing suicide by gun. More recent data from the Centers for Disease Control show that over 21,000 Americans used firearms to commit suicide. I think we can all agree that suicide by gun takes the lives of exponentially more people than suicide by car.

The same is true with mental illness and alcohol though drunk driving does have a huge toll. In my state of Minnesota alone, drunk driving related deaths took the lives of 1442 people from 2003-2012. This does not include car accident deaths not due to drunk driving of course, which is many more. In approximately that same time period, about 300 ( or more)  gun deaths per year took the lives of Minnesotans leaving us with a toll of about 3150 deaths. 

So do guns kill people? Yes. Do car accidents kill people? Yes. Are cars designed to kill people? No. Are guns designed to kill people? Yes.

What should we be more scared of? Guns or cars? Who should we be more scared of? People with guns or people driving cars? Do more people own cars than own guns? The answer is yes. If the statistics that can be accessed are true, there is about 1 gun per person in the United States but only about 32% of people own these guns.

Guns are lethal weapons that are accountable for 32,000 deaths per year and about 70,000 injuries. Cars, not designed to kill, take the lives of about 33,000 per year. In some states, gun deaths are surpassing automobile accident deaths in young adults.

We have not banned cars as the result of the large number of deaths and injuries caused by automobile accidents. Instead we have reformed the industry and enacted stronger laws. We are not banning guns either. But what we want is the same amount of safety regulations for firearms as we have for automobiles and then we can talk about comparing the two. When firearms are registered like cars and gun owners are licensed like car drivers and the product has safety features designed to reduce injuries and deaths like cars, then we can compare. When we require the same amount of training we require in order to buy a gun as we do for getting a driver’s license, then we can compare the two.

Common sense has prevailed for almost every other cause of death in America. As a country we dig down and try to fix what we know is wrong. Collectively we do care about people dying from natural causes or accidents. That’s who we are. Research is done. Studies are released. We look for causes and effects. We change product design or treatment regimens or try new medications or interventions. That’s who we are.

So why not the same for firearms? We know the answer. The answer is in this letter. The corporate gun lobby is trying to deflect the real problem. It IS guns. People with guns are killing Americans at alarming rates. Bullets from guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them or even people who are law abiding actually do kill people. And those bullets kill more people than any other type of object such as knives, baseball bats or blunt objects. Don’t be tricked into thinking otherwise.

We should be scared. Instead many of our elected leaders are running scared from the gun lobbyists and gun rights extremists.

When victims and survivors are “treated” worse than gun lobbyists, we have a problem. But we will not be tricked any more. Our politicians should not be tricked either. Our mission will be to make sure they are not.

We can better than this. When Mothers Against Drunk Driving was formed, things happened. Our country responded by making changes to our drunk driving laws and over time, campaigns were launched to make sure there was a designated driver when groups were at parties or bars where alcohol is served. Culture change came with law changes or the other way around. Why? Because we decided as a country that we couldn’t tolerate the senseless deaths due to drunk driving.

Mothers speak truth to power on many issues, including the gun issue. The Million Mom March has resulted in women and others all over the country pushing for gun safety reform. The newly formed Moms Demand Action for Gunsense is doing the same as is Moms Rising. There are other groups started by women as well that are making a difference. Since we represent millions and the majority who want stronger gun laws, our voices will be heard. We have had #enough of the excuses espoused by this letter writer and the minority of Americans who fight any and all gun safety reform measures using their lame arguments and excuses.

The letter writer would like us to do nothing because his claim that guns don’t kill people is an excuse for doing nothing. That is not how this works or how it should work. It’s time for that to change and change is coming. This man can try to use fear and paranoia as a tactic to scare Americans into buying guns to protect themselves from zombies and other “scary”people out there. But he only needs to look at reality to know that it is not those scary zombies or “the other” killing people with guns. It’s us. It’s toddlers accessing guns they shouldn’t be able to access. It’s teens accessing guns to kill themselves. It’s older men shooting themselves with the guns they own. It’s stray bullets that are discharged by guns that the owner didn’t shoot intentionally or when it drops out of a purse or a pants pocket.

Yes, guns kill people.

On that note- I wish my readers a Happy and safe, gun death free Halloween.

“Celebrating” our unique American gun culture

Today we celebrate Independence Day. And since I write about guns and gun violence, I am suggesting that we could also celebrate saving lives through common sense gun measures that won’t take away the freedom to lawfully own a gun. This freedom should be extended to those who are responsible and can prove they can be safe with their guns. And we can do this, much like other advanced countries have done. The fact that we haven’t is unique to America- and not in a good way. Reasonable people can put their heads together to reduce the daily carnage due to reckless and irresponsible gun use and ownership. So on this national holiday, consider common sense and common ground.

I have included a meme in this post with some “language” but it gets to a point that needs to be made.

The image at the end of this post been posted on social media sites. The language is not mine. It is a quote from gun owner and author Stephen King who supports common sense gun measures and is not afraid to say so. His quotes get to the inanity of our gun culture:

“How paranoid do you want to be? How many guns does it take to make you feel safe? And how do you simultaneously keep them loaded and close at hand, but still out of reach of your inquisitive children or grandchildren? Are you sure you wouldn’t do better with a really good burglar alarm? It’s true you have to remember to set the darn thing before you go to bed, but think of this — if you happened to mistake your wife or live-in partner for a crazed drug addict, you couldn’t shoot her with a burglar alarm.”

Inanity with guns kills people. Some days you could almost laugh if you didn’t cry about the stupidity of some people with their guns. For example, in what possible way could a loaded gun be in any way similar to a cup of coffee? Check out what this Florida man said when arrested for carrying his loaded gun around at Daytona Beach:

Ray was charged with misdemeanor open carrying of weapons, the arrest affidavit said.

Ray also did not have a concealed weapons permit, police said. The weapon had a 30-round magazine with a round in the chamber, police said.

Police said Ray was trying to “push the envelope as to what is lawful under Florida law, and to gain a reaction from the public and law enforcement.”

Ray said he was not trying to hurt anyone and is a big proponent of Second Amendment rights.

He said if guns were everywhere, people would be more comfortable being around them.
“It’s like a cup of coffee,” he said. “People are not afraid of a cup of coffee. They know what it is. It’s everywhere. If guns were everywhere criminals will think twice about taking people’s lives.”

When a patron at the Burger King on North Atlantic Avenue asked Ray why he was carrying the gun, he replied that it was “to guard against all the crazies out there,” records show.

Just when you thought you’d heard everything. I guess the gun lobby has succeeded in so dumbing down the arguments about gun owning and carrying that even this seems to make sense to some. I don’t have to get into why a loaded gun with a 30 round magazine carried on one’s person is different from carrying a cup of coffee around do I? But this craziness is what gives some of the gun extremists their excuse for what they are doing. There is no excuse. Anyone with common sense understands that the average American is just not going to get used to people carrying assault rifles around where they live, play, work, learn, shop and worship. Why? Because in the real world, there are people carrying these things into the places where we are with our families who have shot and killed people. I don’t know about you but if I see someone carrying a cup of coffee around, I know for sure I won’t be killed by that person with the coffee in his/her hands. It is simply not normal for people to be carrying loaded assault rifles around in public.

This July 4th holiday there are warnings out about possible ISIS attacks in America. Why wouldn’t a member of a terrorist or hate group also walk around on our streets with a loaded assault rifle in public places with evil intent? How will we know the difference?  We also have our own “home grown” terrorists ready to commit heinous acts and hate crimes. Our country just experienced one of the most awful hate crimes in recent history in Charleston, South Carolina. It was one young man, loaded with hate, intolerance, racism and anger and also a loaded gun.

For more American gun inanity check out the comments made by House Speaker John Boehner after the House voted to block any funding for the CDC to do research into the causes and effects of gun violence:

Listen, the CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect the public health. I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. And guns don’t kill people; people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual, not blame the action on some weapon. Listen, there are hundreds of millions of weapons in America. They’re there. And they’re going to be there. They’re protected under the Second Amendment. But people who use weapons in an inappropriate or illegal way ought to be dealt with severely.

“I’m sorry but a gun is not a disease….” Really? Can we dumb down the conversation any more than this? You can almost see the strings attached to Boehner’s arms with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre behind the curtain moving Boehner’s mouth. This is so ridiculous as to be unbelievable. But this is the unique American gun culture that we celebrate along with other American “freedoms” and ways of like.

A gun is not a disease. It’s also not a cup of coffee. Or a spoon.

But the mayhem and tragedy caused by people with guns is surely a disease in America. It is a public health epidemic that we are ignoring at our peril. What we can’t do is let elected officials get away with their nonsensical statements about guns and gun violence that belie the facts. And we can’t let people who are carrying loaded assault rifles around in public get away with their swaggering attempts to “normalize” what they are doing. They are a distinct minority who have been led to believe that they have a right to do this because… second amendment. This nonsensical reasoning is an insane interpretation of the amendment and does a disservice to the founding fathers who wrote our Constitution.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, whose confirmation to become our Surgeon General was held up by the gun lobby because he dared to state the obvious- that gun violence is a public health issue, said it again at a recent conference:

“I said that gun violence is a public health issue, and I’ll say it again today.”

Dr. Murthy is right. He is about changing the conversation in American. Gun violence and the toll it takes on our communities is very real. It’s not going away but we can at the least try to reduce and prevent some of it. Not to do so is unpatriotic.

The thing is,we can have a gun culture and we can have guns. We have more of them than any other advanced country not at war. But we can also have common sense when it comes to regulating guns and their owners. Most gun owners are safe and use their guns for recreation and sport. But enough of them are not that we owe it to our American values to prevent them from shooting their own family members, or black people in a church, or movie goers, or young school children, or people who practice a different religion, or college students or people shopping in malls, or themselves….. And that would also be an American thing to do.

This week-end we will be celebrating our country’s independence. It’s obvious that freedom and liberty mean different things to different people. I think we can all agree though that none of us want to be shot. Passing sensible legislation to keep guns away from people who should’t have them does nothing to take away the freedoms of those who do not have bad intent. But when the conversation is dumbed down and the research is blocked so that we can’t, as a country, deal with our public health epidemic of shootings, that takes away the ability to be free from devastating gun violence.

Let’s get this straight. The NRA/corporate gun lobby has foisted a huge deception on Americans and most especially on our elected leaders. Please read this Washington Post article about the difference between what they say and what is actually happening in the real world of gun violence.It was written by a woman who took an NRA self defense class:

The NRA’s approach to personal safety assumes crime can be prevented by ever-present fear. The instruction suggests that threats are everywhere beyond our front door, making the advice impractical for anyone interested in leaving her home. Rather than refusing to be a victim, the seminar can make one feel as though they’re always a victim.

An entire section of the course manual is devoted to telling people never to open their home’s doors to strangers, even a UPS driver who needs a signature. And yet, a subsequent chapter advises people who are being followed to “go to the nearest lighted building or home for help.” What if the nearest home is occupied by a person who follows NRA advice and doesn’t open the door for strangers? We were advised to have a hotel employee accompany us to our rooms, yet beware of someone who may be posing as a hotel employee as a ploy to gain access to our rooms. (…)

The impracticality of the NRA’s advice aside, its rules aren’t an effective way of preventing most interpersonal crime. The course suggests that, to avoid becoming a victim, you should fear strangers. But most violent crimes are committed by a relative, friend or acquaintance of the victim. Every piece of safety advice the NRA gave would be relevant only if the assailant was a stranger, and yet nearly two out of three violent crimes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.

Further, what epidemic of violence in public restrooms and hotel rooms justifies always employing a buddy system? Certainly, you can find news stories about crimes committed in these places, but generally, crime statistics show that public areas are safe. Just 12 percent of violent crimes are committed in commercial areas – including bars, gas stations and banks – and just 0.1 percent occur in hotel or motel rooms, according to federal data. Meanwhile, 43 percent of violent crime occurs in or near a familiar private residence, whether your own, a friend’s or a relative’s.

The gun lobby is purposely hiding the facts or blocking ways to find them. I know for a fact that the gun violence that affected my family was committed in a home and committed by someone who knew and once loved my sister who was also a “law abiding” gun owner until suddenly he wasn’t. Should my sister have been more afraid of all of those monsters, zombies, felons or whoever is lurking in public bathrooms and hotel corridors than she was of her estranged husband?

Mike the Gun Guy also takes issue with the NRA’s notion of gun safety. He wonders about the ASK campaign and the BeSmart program, both programs encouraging safe storage of guns. The reason? The NRA’s safety program wants people to have their loaded guns at the ready at all times. This just does not work when locking guns securely away from kids and teens. It’s a unique American conundrum but one that does not have to totally befuddle us and stop us from acting in the interest of public health and safety like virtually all other countries have done.

What is the answer here? More guns are not making us safer. The gun lobby promotes more guns and in many cases, more loaded guns around wherever gun owners determine there is fear for their personal safety (everywhere).

Where is the common ground? Clearly the conversation has to change in order to change our unique gun culture. On this July 4th holiday, let’s think about how that can happen.

The incidents below are incidents involving “law abiding” gun owners. In no other country would these incidents be allowed or the people involved in them to have guns in the first place.

A 90 year old Florida man was arrested for threatening someone with his gun. He was a “legal” gun permit holder who did not have his right to carry taken from him 5 years ago when he threatened someone else. He shouldn’t have had a permit or a gun. Was he in any kind of state to handle his responsibility with that gun and that permit? Luckily no one got hurt but is that the point? In America …rights trump public safety.

A Vermont firearms instructor was seriously injured when one of his students shot him. The article does not mention if he was armed at the time. The woman was adjudicated mentally ill so couldn’t legally own firearms. But she could use a gun at a gun range because no background checks are required to shoot guns at a range in Vermont. This article is the “poster child ” for all that can go wrong in our unique American culture of guns.

Or this Iowa gun owner- Didn’t we determine just recently ( and for decades before that)that the display of Confederate flags can be incendiary and racist? And when guys with guns worship that flag, it could mean all sorts of bad things. Come on. We all understand why he was doing this. The fact that our laws allow for this kind of offensive behavior should be a wake-up call to us all. But here is his excuse:

He tells Siouxland News he’s is doing this to show support for the first and second amendment.

He says he’s been walking at least once a week since 2011, mainly in Le Mars, but he has walked in Sioux City and Iowa City.

Cornish adds that all he sees in the media is negative stories and not much support for the first and second amendment, so this is a way for him to show support for the open carry law.

America is better than this. Our founding fathers did not anticipate their words being twisted to support the kind of behavior exhibited by stupid people with guns and the corporate gun lobby whose main mission has little to do with keeping America safe from senseless violence and everything to do with protecting the gun industry. From the linked article:

It is time for opponents of gun control to stop mindlessly shouting “The Second Amendment!!” as if that ends the discussion. It does not. Just as there is no First Amendment right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theatre, there is no Second Amendment right to carry an AK-47 there.

And that is only the beginning of what the Second Amendment does not guarantee.

Extreme behavior like the one in the article above, using the excuse that the second amendment gives him the right, should not be tolerated by an America dealing with the epidemic of gun violence and racism that should be of great concern to us all.

So on this Fourth of July, I urge you to think about how the world has changed since our Constitution was written and why we need to look at the enduring words written by the authors in the context of current reality.

Stay safe out there. Beware of people carrying spoons and cups of coffee. You never know what might happen. And don’t catch the gun disease.

Stephen King quote

As if by providence, I just came across this article about the “social gun culture” in America showing who the average gun owner is in America and where the guns are found for the most part. This researcher is thinking as I am:

Kalesan’s study defined “social gun culture” as a phenomenon in which friends or family would think less of you if you didn’t own a gun, and if your social life with friends and family involved guns. Any survey participant who answered “yes” to any of these statements was categorized as being part of social gun culture.

Figuring out the dynamics at play in social gun culture, according to Kalesan, will be key to sparking social change about the attitudes and practices that inform gun ownership in the first place. She said educating Americans about the health dangers of having a firearm in their homes will change the way people feel about gun ownership, which in turn could drive laws that make guns more difficult to obtain.

“A public health approach, much like the anti-tobacco effort, is necessary, first to facilitate a social change and then political will to form effective policies,” Kalesan told HuffPost. “We also need research to understand the public health consequences in different communities and to identify effective social interventions in different populations.”

And the bottom line for the writer of the article is this:

“In 2013 alone, 33,636 persons were killed using a gun, while 84,258 were shot non-fatally,” said Kalesan. “Those who are injured have a difficult journey during recovery, some remaining paraplegic and injured often with PTSD for the rest of their lives.”

Nothing more needs to be said.

Guns vs. lawn mowers

Illustration of lawn mower man smiling standing with arms folded facing front done in cartoon style on isolated white background.

There has been an interesting back and forth on the Northland Brady/Protect Minnesota Facebook page about the gun giveaway promotion by a local Ford/Chrysler dealer. I wrote about this in a previous post. The dealer is now responding to the action taken by a group of people who felt the promotion was the wrong message to send to the public and consumers. It was not meant for any other purpose than that. What happened was more than a few phone calls to the dealer and to the Ford Motor company about this particular business policy. The dealer made claims about this being about the second amendment but the last time I checked there was nothing about a right to give guns away in a business deal. He also said callers were mean. I wonder if he means that the callers were insistent and emphatic in their opposition to the business deal. If we want to talk about mean, we can talk about the rude and offensive comments made by those who agreed with this business deal on the Facebook page. Many were deleted and blocked for that reason.

In the business promotion, car buyers had the choice between a lawn mower or one of two types of Ruger pistols. Several news sources have covered this story. This one from the Minneapolis based CBS affiliate WCCO media and also this one from BringMeTheNews.com.

I want to say that I have written several blog posts about guns and lawn mowers on my other blogging site- Here and  here. These were about arguments over lawn mowers. Are lawn mowers dangerous? Apparently fights over them can be. And yes, there are accidents and injuries due to lawn mowers as the owner of the car dealership pointed out as his excuse for why it was OK to give guns away. But as the article above points out:

Accidents are the leading cause of death for kids at just about all ages.

Although the leading causes of these accidental deaths include car accidents,drownings, poisonings, fires, falls and gun accidents, there are many hidden dangers that parents are less aware of that can lead to accidents and tragedies.

Death by lawnmower is rare compared to death by gunshot injuries. 95 deaths in a year compared to 30,000. The gun rights folks often point to other causes of death in their denial that gunshot injuries actually do kill a lot of Americans.

And I would like to include this article about the idea that, as one of the commenters in the story about the car dealer said, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” The article, written in 2013 for the Armed With Reason blog debunks this gun lobby myth. It’s a long article but important. But here’s one section I love:

Guns may not kill people, but gun culture does.

6 Academic Responses to “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People”

Lawnmowers don’t mow lawns, people do.  But if you want to mow a lot of grass in a very short period of time with very little effort or coordination, you’re going to need a lawnmower.   And if you want to be brutally efficient about it, why not get a John Deere semi-automatic riding lawnmower? The X758 is a popular model that can literally mow down entire fields at the push of a button, and can be picked up without any hassle at your local Walmart.

I’m belaboring the analogy, but the point should be clear:  Guns may not kill people, but people with guns do, and they do so more often and more efficiently than people without guns.  People do not behave in a vacuum. They are influenced by their environment, and when that environment is occupied by guns, people behave aggressively and impulsively.  Even the NRA is unable to follow its own strict logic behind “guns don’t kill people.” In searching for a scapegoat, Wayne LaPierre often accuses media, video games, Obama’s budget, and anything else he can find that isn’t a gun. The point being these fruitless attempts to shift blame are an implicit acknowledgement that we are influenced by our surrounding environment, an environment that includes guns.

So following this analogy, let’s talk about the clever language that has been used by the corporate gun lobby and their minions for many decades to deflect any talk about common sense gun laws. Lawn mowers don’t mow lawns, people do. Drills don’t screw screws into boards, people do. Saws don’t cut wood, people do. Hammers don’t pound in nails, people do. Vacuum cleaners don’t clean rugs, people do. Mops don’t clean floors, people do. You get the idea. How have these folks gotten away with their nonsense for so long? They make no sense but our leaders have listened to these folks and their myths to the detriment of public health and safety in our county.

If you read further into the article you can see why guns DO ACTUALLY KILL PEOPLE. One example given early on is the accidental gun deaths of and by children. Surely those children did not intend to shoot anyone. The gun was discharged by mistake. Adults make the same mistakes. Take this recent one for example where an Alabama man “accidentally” shot his pregnant girlfriend in the face:

The Gadsden Times reportsthat deputies were called to the couple’s home on Whites Chapel Road around 9 p.m. Thursday after the unidentified man called 911 and said he’d accidentally shot his girlfriend. When deputies arrived, they found the man trying to put pressure on the woman’s wound.

There’s just got to be more to this story. And in most of these incidents the gun owners get away with what they have done. Why? They were reckless and irresponsible with their guns. This is unacceptable. Often law enforcement is afraid to charge someone because…rights. Never mind the rights of the rest of us to be safe from idiots like this guy.

The other gun lobby myth is that more guns will make us safer. That has definitely not been the case. We are far less safe than most other democratized, civilized countries not at war because of our 300 million guns. Just ask the pregnant woman who got shot in the face if she feels safer now.

But I digress. Back to the above story. Did the gun shoot the pregnant woman? Did the man shoot her? Did the man with the gun shoot her? Would this have happened if the man had not had that gun in his hand?

I don’t have enough space here to list the many accidental shootings by children that have come to my attention just over the past few days but I can assure you, guns did not make those children safer. But I’ll post about just this one where a Michigan boy with developmental disabilities got his grandfather’s gun safe key and “accidentally” shot and killed a woman sleeping in the other room.  Why do these keep happening? And they do. More from the article:

According to his grandfather the boy “got up before anybody this morning at 5:30 a.m. He said he was in my pocket trying to get change and he found the gun safe key. It’s always locked up, and I always have the key on me.”

The grandfather said that when the boy tried to unload the shotgun he unintentionally dischargedthe gun.  The pellets went through a nearby closet wall and struck a 28-year-old woman who was sleeping in the living room.

The grandfather said “we turned the light on and we could see all the blood. It was only minutes. She was still breathing, but by the time the police got here, she’d passed away.”

The boy is staying with a family member.  The grandfather said his grandson is an apprentice hunter and has used guns before.  He said the boy “handled guns very safely and wouldn’t touch a gun unless he was told it was okay to pick it up.” He added that the boy “doesn’t realize what he’s done.”

The thing is, kids pick up guns no matter what you tell them. I have written about that many times before on this blog. I’m sorry but this does not sound like a responsible gun owner to me. Twelve year old children without developmental problems are barely old enough to handle the responsibility of guns. This man’s judgement was clearly impaired and now someone is dead. Avoidable and insane but part of our American gun culture and another American tragedy.

I would like to add this one for a particular reason. A 2 year old Virginia boy shot himself with a gun he found in his parents’ top dresser drawer. Now some in the gun lobby will try to deny this could happen and that little kids just won’t find those guns hidden away in dresser drawers. But this ABC 20/20 show proved that this is exactly what can and does happen. These are all avoidable and senseless shootings, not that any make sense.

open carry thugs
From Moms Demand Action Facebook page

Speaking of not making any sense, there’s the open carry folks who are out and about intimidating their neighbors. I do love this photo and article about the Indianapolis folks who think they are making a point by walking around in a residential neighborhood on Memorial Day week-end to show their “patriotism”. A photo of this classy group was posted on the Moms Demand Action Facebook page because, as it happens, the founder of that organization lives nearby to where they carried their assault weapons. Check out it:

“There’s not a thing we can do about it,” ZPD Chief Robert Knox said. “They’re exercising their second amendment right to bear arms and their first amendment right to peaceably get together and walk down the street like anybody else.”

“…like anybody else”? NO. Wrong. These folks are not like everybody else. The second amendment does not give people the right to do whatever the heck they want to do with their guns. This is insane and reflective of the American gun culture. Here’s one more article about this sleazy group of gun extremists. There are not too many words for this kind of tactic. All I know is that we don’t need people openly carrying loaded guns near the home of gun violence prevention advocates as a lark and clearly to intimidate people who work to prevent gun violence. It is not amusing. It is not funny. It has nothing to do with gun rights or the second amendment. It has nothing to do with a civil society. This is simply not OK.

And speaking of the insane gun culture, we should take a look at what else is insane with the stupid and dangerous gun culture pushed by the corporate gun lobby. Can anyone target practice close to homes just because of the second amendment? I say no. In Massachusetts (a reader corrected my posting that this was a California case)  someone thought he could. Let’s take a look:

“It was a piece of paper hanging between two trees with nothing behind it,” he said.

The bullet traveled 1,500 feet from a nearby farm, through a few thinly wooded acres, across a pair of frequently used railroad tracks, through the Costa home’s siding, exterior wall, bathroom wall and closet, before it lodged in the first floor hallway plaster.

Police responded to the scene and Costa’s home was evacuated on Jan. 14. The round pierced the wall about seven feet from his daughter’s head as she sat on a kitchen stool studying World War I.

Here’s the response from the pro gun side:

Gun rights activists have labeled the pending bylaw “anti-freedom” and “anti-Second Amendment” in an online campaign.

“We’re always concerned when we see things like this,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Northborough-based Gun Owners Action League (GOAL).

GOAL has sounded the alarm, urging its local members to attend a May 19 public hearing on the bylaw and reminding them to vote on June 1.

“It seems to be a pattern across the state,” Wallace said. “This has sprung up in a bunch of different towns, and it seems like an organized attempt to make things tougher on gun owners in the state.”

Initially, Berkley police said they could not press charges in the January incident at the Costa home, despite successfully tracking the round to a group of target-shooters on a nearby farm.

There is no pattern. This is all made up anger and total hypocrisy. This kind of intimidation should not be acceptable anywhere. The alarm sounded should come from the side of keeping people safe from stray bullets in neighborhoods. A few inches different and the target shooting gun owner would be singing a different tune and his pals in the pro gun lobby would be taking a seat quietly with the only alarm bells ringing at the funeral of a little girl.

And just one more, I promise. Speaking of the hypocrisy of the gun lobby saying that guns make us safer, check out this particularly stupid and dangerous incident:

Martinez’s older brother, Tom Cline, said Martinez died in the most senseless way.

Around 9:45 p.m. Friday, “Miguel was fooling around with his buddies. They were in possession of a gun and a bulletproof vest,” Cline said Saturday.

Cline said friends encouraged his brother to put on the vest. The three friends with Martinez assured him that he would not be hurt, Cline said.

According to the sheriff’s department, Lambert fired the gun.

“The kid had shot my brother. The bullet penetrated the top of his vest,” said Cline. “My brother was hit. My brother said he couldn’t breathe.”

According to Cline, one person ran for help. Two men carried Martinez up the bike path to meet deputies, but Martinez died.

“My brother did not deserve this death,” Cline said. “I want everybody to know Miguel Henry Martinez was a good boy.”

Cline said he believes his brother might have survived the shooting if someone called for help sooner. He said he doesn’t know where the bulletproof vest or gun came from.

Big OOPS. This is the American gun culture where things like this happen every day. It’s also the American tragedy.

Really, you just can’t make this stuff up. These folks may be “law abiding” because they passed background checks and because open carry and target shooting in neighborhoods is stupidly allowed by our spineless legislatures. These incidents are all examples of the “mad men” culture to which Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign referred in my recent post. Once we thought some dangerous and unsafe behaviors were OK but we found out differently. It’s just a matter of time before so many of these incidents happen that it will be impossible to avoid the obvious solution- changing the conversation about our gun culture and passing stronger gun laws that will lead to improved public health and safety.

It is past time for the insanity to stop. We are better than this. Let’s get to work.