Excuses for no gun safety reform

Yesterday a group from our Northland Brady chapter associated also with Protect Minnesota stood on a busy corner near our Congressman’s district office. We were there as part of Brady’s and other national gun violence prevention groups’ Week-end of Action. The actions were to demand that the Senate come back early from their summer break to pass the laws that the House passed in February- namely the universal background check and Charleston loophole bills. My Congressman Pete Stauber voted against these 2 life saving measures.

Thus we were there, after gathering only one and half weeks ago in a local rally against hate and violence which was a well attended plea for action and to ask our leaders to #DOSOMETHING about the carnage. Several mass shootings in a row have changed the conversation ( again) and more of the public are demanding action.

But now, the House Judiciary Committee will be coming back from recess early to consider several common sense gun bills. The Extreme Risk Protection Order bill and perhaps an Assault Weapons Ban and/or restrictions on the size of ammunition magazines will be discussed.

After standing with our signs on the corner and getting mostly positive honks and waves, we went to Congressman Stauber’s office with a packet of information and a letter stating what we wanted him to do. We ended up having an impromptu meeting with his staffer. It was a good meeting- informative and revealing.

We spoke about all kinds of things as victims, a veteran, a clergy member, several health care providers, a woman of color, grandparents, parents and concerned citizens expressed our frustration and outrage over the do nothing Senate and the lack of votes in favor of bills that would make a difference. In the discussion we made it clear that we don’t believe that any one of these measures on their own will “cure” the epidemic of gun violence. But the fact that we have done nothing for decades has fueled the current epidemic and made it more lethal.

And then we heard some of the usual Republican and gun lobby excuses for why these bills won’t work or why the Congressman doesn’t believe the bills before him are the right ones ( in spite of research showing the effectiveness of them and the overwhelming public support for the measures that passed in the House). The first of these is the idea that we can’t deal with the gun problem until we deal with mental illness. President Trump himself said that mental illness pulled the trigger in the latest mass shooting, not the guns. That is absurd on its’ face but it is also patently not true. It’s not mental illness. It’s mostly angry white men who have access to guns they should not have.

Here’s the truth about mental illness and shootings:

In response, mental health experts repeated what they have said after previous mass shootings: Most people with mental illness are not violent, they are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and access to firearms is a big part of the problem.
“Until we begin to have our political leaders speaking more accurately to these issues, it’s up to us to put the facts out there,” said Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association.
Evans agreed that red flag laws , also known as extreme risk protection orders, are a worthwhile step. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have such laws, according to the nonprofit Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and some have used the laws to temporarily disarm people who have threatened violence.
But Evans and others said terms like “monsters” add to stigma that keeps people from getting treatment. (…)

A country’s rate of gun ownership is a far better predictor of public mass shootings than indicators of mental illness, said Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama criminologist who published a 2016 analysis of data from 171 countries.
“If mental illness were the driving factor, we would expect the countries with highest suicide rates to have higher rates of public mass shootings. That’s not what we see,” Lankford said.
Instead, Lankford found, gun ownership per person is the best predictor.
Lankford called Trump’s emphasis on mental illness “too simplistic.”

It’s the guns.

Since our rally last week, another mass shooting occurred in Philadelphia where 6 officers were injured by one man with an assault rifle ( again). The shooter was a man who should not have had a gun in the first place given numerous firearms charges against him. So how did he get that gun? From the article:

The suspect was identified by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as Maurice Hill, 36. Krasner said Hill had an extensive criminal history, including drug, gun and robbery charges. Krasner said Hill should not have been on the streets but stopped short of saying there was any specific failure by law enforcement.

My Congressman is a former police officer. He, of all people, should be more concerned that officers are at great risk when they are outgunned on the streets. This year alone 31 officers have been killed by shooters. 175 have been injured. And yesterday yet another officer shooting occurred where 2 Missouri officers were shot while delivering eviction papers.

And aren’t you tired of other lame and shameful excuses or blaming from Republicans to deflect the reality of our national public health epidemic? They even have memos showing how to respond to constituents such as this one, blaming the left, when we know that most of the politically motivated shootings have come from people with far right political views. In fact, Trump has been mentioned by criminals as a reason for their crimes:

But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
In nine cases, perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically attacking innocent victims. In another 10 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.

White supremacy, hate crimes and other acts of political violence are American terrorism. We have to face that reality. There is no excuse for not doing anything about this.

And yes, we can stop some of these shooters from getting guns in the first place. If we close some loopholes making it easier for them to buy guns themselves or get them from others who may buy them legally ( and private sales with no background checks are legal in many states, including my own) we can stop some sales. If we enforce straw purchasing laws more stringently, we can stop some guns from going where they shouldn’t. If gun owners safely store their guns, we can stop some of the guns from being stolen and ending up where they shouldn’t. If we pass Red Flag laws, we can temporarily remove guns from people who could be dangerous to themselves or others. If we pass restrictions on ammunition magazines, we can, at the least, prevent shooters from taking dozens of lives at a time in a short time period. If we make sure the ATF can do their job properly with adequate funding and personnel, gun dealers will be held more accountable for bad behavior. If we litigate cases where gun dealers have sold guns knowingly to those who shouldn’t have them, we can stop some shootings.

It’s a package and it needs to be. But as we discussed at our meeting yesterday, we can’t say criminals won’t follow the laws anyway as an excuse not to pass laws. If that is the case, why have laws at all? People do wear their seat belts for the most part. It’s the law. People don’t smoke in public places. It’s the law. People stop on red lights because it’s the law. If you don’t follow the law, you may become a felon. But we are not a lawless society. That’s no excuse.

And then there was this given as an excuse. We all must work hard to keep illegal guns from coming into our country from the Canadian and Mexican borders. I had to ask again if that is what I heard. This is an excuse. We don’t need to do anything about our own country’s gun laws because the guns are coming across the borders into our country?

I was astounded at this one because it is the exact opposite of what is true. The guns flowing into Mexico and Canada are coming mainly from the U.S because our gun laws are so much weaker than theirs. Check out this article in the Christian Science Monitor about what is actually happening:

American guns bought from vendors in the U.S. and then smuggled illegally abroad are a fact of life across the Americas. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, using data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), some 70% of guns recovered by law enforcement in Mexico and sent to the ATF for tracing between 2011 and 2016 were originally purchased from a licensed dealer in the U.S. Some estimates put the number of U.S. weapons smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico at over 200,000 a year.
Mexican officials, in their fight against drug violence, have long pleaded with the U.S. to stem the southward flow of guns. Former President Felipe Calderón famously had a billboard erected in Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso, that read “No More Weapons,” spelled out with confiscated, destroyed weapons. (…)

That is also despite research showing that when the U.S. assault weapon ban expired in 2004, Mexican municipalities on the border with the U.S. saw a spike in homicides, he says.

“I do see some recognition now that this is beyond drugs, and that guns play a major, major role,” Mr. Weigend says. That includes think tanks, students, and civil society groups speaking out more against the implications of U.S. gun flows to Mexico. (…)

Weaker gun regulations in the U.S. have long undermined Canada’s much stricter rules, as guns get trafficked north. Last week Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair said Canada could reduce violence with more money towards stopping guns from the U.S., which he called “the greatest arsenal in the world.”

So no. We don’t have a problem with illegal guns coming into our country from the nations who share our border. It is the other way around. And further, the fact that so many guns make into Mexico and other Central American countries have caused violence there which many are trying to flee to get into our country. And then if they get into our country their lives are at risk here because of the hate and racist rhetoric against people of color fomented right from the top.

It is also part and parcel of our illegal drug problem.

These are flimsy excuses designed as cop-outs. What our Congress members who are beholden to the NRA, as mine is, are trying to do is to deflect the conversation away from the truth. We have a problem with guns in America. Such easy access makes it easier for just about anybody to get a gun.

Minnesotans and Americans ( and this includes Republicans and gun owners by the way) support stronger gun laws. We want our Congress members to represent the majority of people in their districts. Just because the gun rights advocates make more noise does not mean they are the majority. In fact they are a small minority of the constituents all over the country.

There are no excuses. There never have been but now, more than ever, we are sick and tired of the carnage affecting almost all of us.

#DO DOMETHING.

Shooting Anniversary again

Today another shooting anniversary is upon us- that of the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise who was at a baseball practice for a Congressional baseball game. One other person was injured and one was killed in the shooting. The shooter was a left-wing activist:

Hodgkinson was a left-wing activist[10][11] from Belleville, Illinois, while Scalise was a Republican member of Congress. The Virginia Attorney General concluded Hodgkinson’s attack was “an act of terrorism…fueled by rage against Republican legislators”.[12] Scalise was the first sitting member of Congress to have been shot since Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in 2011

In America we have home grown terrorists who account for more shootings than any foreign terrorists in spite of what the right wing and Wayne LaPierre want us to believe:

From 2009 through 2018, right-wing extremists accounted for 73 percent of such killings, according to the ADL, compared with 23 percent for Islamists and 3 percent for left-wing extremists. In other words, most terrorist attacks in the United States, and most deaths from terrorist attacks, are caused by white extremists. But they do not cause the sort of nationwide panic that helped Trump win the 2016 election and helped the GOP expand its Senate majority in the midterms.

When white extremists kill, politicians do not demand that they be racially profiled. They do not call for bans on white people coming to the United States. They do not insist that white people’s freedom of movement be restricted, their houses of worship be surveilled, their leaders be banned from holding public office, or their neighborhoods be “secured” and occupied by armed agents of the state. And they do not demand that taxpayers foot the bill for a massive, symbolic monument that will register America’s official disdain for white people in perpetuity.

We should be talking about where the guns come from that flow in Mexico and the Central American countries from where so many migrants are coming and trying to get into the U.S. For the most part they are not rapists and murderers as President Trump continues to say in spite of the facts to the contrary. And many of these migrants are trying to escape the violence that is happening in their countries in part due to the guns that come in from us. We have a vicious circle. These migrants, if they end up being able to stay in the U.S. will live in a country where the gun death rates are among the highest of any democratized country not at war.

Let’s take a look at the above linked article about guns flowing into Mexico:

report from the Center of American Progress found that the United States was the primary source of weapons used in crime in Mexico and Canada. Other countries in Central America can also trace a large proportion of guns seized in crimes to the United States. For example, the report found that from 2014 to 2016, 49 percent of crime guns seized in El Salvador were originally purchased in the U.S. In Honduras, 45 percent of guns recovered in crime scenes were traced to the United States as well. (…) On paper it’s significantly harder to legally purchase a firearm in Mexico than it is in the United States. So if it’s so difficult to buy a gun in Mexico, where do all of the country’s guns come from? The answer has as much if not more to do with U.S. gun policy than with Mexico’s, though the issue is rarely brought up in America’s political debates over gun control and border security.

The right to own guns is in Mexico’s constitution, as it is in the U.S., but Mexican gun laws are highly restrictive. The Mexican army is the only entity allowed to sell guns in the country, either to private security firms, private citizens or to local police. In fact, there is only one legal gun store in the country, which is also run by the Mexican army and located in Mexico City. Assault weapons and any weapon more powerful than a .38 caliber gun is banned from personal use, with few exceptions. Only the military is allowed to use high-powered firearms. (…) So-called “straw purchasers” play a key role in firearms trafficking from the U.S. to Mexico and other points south. Typically “straw purchasers” are intermediary or middleman buyers who purchase and execute all the paperwork required for a legal firearm transaction on behalf of someone else. These purchasers are usually American citizens who adhere to U.S. gun laws, including passing a background check or meeting other applicable federal and state gun laws.

In many cases, “traffickers will run a ring of straw buyers,” said Kristen Rand, the legislative director for the Violence Policy Center. “The traffickers are exploiting the background check system because they just find people who can have the background check, and as long as they don’t raise suspicion with the dealer, then it’s difficult to identify that this is illegal.”

If we pass stronger gun laws we would not only reduce the violence here at home but in other countries as well. And perhaps our immigration problem would also be affected.

Congressman Scalise survived his shooting and is back in the halls of Congress on this 2nd anniversary. He loves his job. Instead of changing his views on gun safety reform though , he dug in more deeply:

Echoing comments made by other congressional Republicans and the White House, Scalise said that lawmakers should focus on supporting victims and law enforcement before advocating for a legislative response.

“Because first of all you’ve got to recognize that when there’s a tragedy like this, the first thing we should be thinking about is praying for the people who were injured and doing whatever we can to help them, to help law enforcement. We shouldn’t first be thinking of promoting our political agenda,” Scalise said.

Scalise’s congressional website notes that his support gun rights has earned him an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. The bills he has supported over the years would ease interstate gun sales and ensure national reciprocity for concealed-carry permit holders. 

No. Prayers? What good does that do. This is a deflection and denial of the actual public health epidemic of gun violence. The old mantra that we shouldn’t talk about “gun control” after a mass shooting is becoming laughable considering that since 2013 there has been only one full week without one.:

Since 2013, there has been only one full calendar week — the week of January 5, 2014 — without a mass shooting.

The longest respite was 11 days between January 8, 2013, and January 18, 2013, when no mass shootings were reported, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

This, of course, does not include shootings like Congressman Scalise”s or my sister’s or my friend’s father who committed suicide by gun or the other 100 a day who die every day from gunshot injuries.

Gun violence prevention groups and their partners continue to hold vigils, ring bells, light candles, bring candles, march, rally, speak out but yet they ignore our voices and our pleas.

Congressman Scalise voted against H.R. 8 requiring background checks on all gun sales and H.R. 1112 to close the Charleston loophole allowing shooters like the one who massacred nine innocent people at Mother Emmanuel AMA Church in Charleston. How could anyone vote against these bills?

He has received campaign money from the NRA to the tune of over $36,000. Is that why?

Next week is the 4th anniversary of the Charleston hate shooting. I will write more then.

If we talk about all of this, we just might have to do something about it. And that would make all the common sense in the world. And it would stop the flow of guns into the hands of those who should not have them. It would also likely lead to a drop of gun sales. God forbid that should happen. And what would Congress members like Steve Scalise do with the financial and other support from the NRA?

Given the revelations about continued corrupt practices of the NRA Scalise and others would be much better off morally if they stopped accepting support from the organization. They don’t seem to care about that. Watch this:

So as we think about mass shooting anniversaries or personal anniversaries of loved ones who have been murdered or killed by suicide or an “accidental shooting” let’s also remember that we need an anniversary of a day when the full Congress votes to reduce and prevent gun violence and thinks more about the country than their own elections.

No more thoughts and prayers. We want action.

Brady background checks- why not?

6 years ago about this time a group from the Northland Brady Campaign/Protect Minnesota chapter braved sub zero temperatures near the location of a gun show. The reason we came out for this in the freezing temperatures was because then, and now, private sellers at gun shows don’t have to do background checks on gun purchasers.

The photo shows our group holding our signs. We asked then and we ask now:

Why would we not make sure that every gun sale occurs with a background check? Since most do, why not all? About 1 in 5 guns are sold without a background check. It used to be more than that but because more states have passed laws to require background checks on all gun sales, we have made it harder for people who shouldn’t have guns to get their hands on them.

One of the interesting things about our protest on that cold day was the man who had been to the gun show and approached our group to talk to us. He claimed he had never talked to “gun control” activists before. Eventually the conversation turned to his worry that if a universal background check bill passed, the government would take his guns ( for sure). He had told us previous to this comment that he was a member of the National Guard. A friend in our group asked if he realized that he actually was the government who would go around confiscating guns if that gun lobby myth ever came to fruition. That was a surprise to him as he had never thought through what it would mean.

We need to make decisions made on facts and evidence, not myth.

Of course requiring the very same Brady background checks on private sales that are now required when purchasing from federally licensed firearms dealers would not result in confiscation. It hasn’t so far as long as the FBI’s National Instant Check system has been in existence- for the last 25 years.There is no logic to this gun lobby argument. But for too long this is what has persuaded our elected leaders to run away from passing a stronger background check law.

And therein lies the problem. There are myths rather than truths around the issue of requiring background checks on all gun sales.

Gun safety reform advocates understand that universal background checks will not cure the entire epidemic of gun violence. But that is no reason not to pass a law. Just as any law doesn’t solve the entire problem it is intended to fix. But we pass strong public safety laws for good reasons. And, as it turns out, most people follow the laws. Those who don’t get into trouble.

We also understand that lax gun trafficking laws, lax laws about stolen guns, lax laws about assault type rifles, lax laws about who can carry guns in public, lax laws about the sale of bump stocks, etc. contribute to the problem of too many gun deaths. Congress passed a law to deny funding for federal research into the causes and effects of gun violence. Congress passed a law to give immunity to the gun industry against lawsuits. Those, too, have contributed to our national gun violence epidemic.That’s why we are where we are- with close to 40,000 Americans a year losing their lives to bullets in the U.S.

That being the case, why would we not want to make everyone do the same thing when it comes to buying a gun? Lives can be saved. Every teacher gets a background check. No exceptions. Every health care provider gets a background check. No exceptions. Every person who works with children in a church or pre-school gets a background check. No exceptions. Everyone goes through the TSA check before boarding a plane- no exceptions. There are good reasons for these background checks. Why have any exceptions for buying a deadly weapons designed to kill people?

On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee will have an official hearing on H.R. 8 to require background checks on all gun sales. This is the first hearing on a background check since 2011. There will be actual testimony about why requiring background checks on all gun sales is a really good idea. There will be evidence. There will likely be victims and survivors.It will likely pass out of the committee on a partisan vote unless a Republican on the committee decides to vote the way his/her constituents actually want. They will be held accountable by their constituents.

Common sense will happen this week at long last. I, for one, will be celebrating the hearing. I am quite sure that the corporate gun lobby will do their best to get their supporters to believe the usual myths about background checks on all sales leading to confiscation or registration. That’s a stupid and ludicrous untrue argument. But they will do it anyway. We will expect it.

Since most people understand that background checks on all gun sales make a lot of common sense, they already support the majority of the committee members. And the majority of the committee members will represent the 97% of Americans who want them to pass stronger gun laws.

Yesterday morning at my church I made an announcement and passed out stickers for members of the church to call our Representative to support H.R. 8. People couldn’t take them fast enough. I ran out. There were gun owners, parents, grandparents, community leaders, health care providers, educators, students, clergy- all who are sick and tired of letting the corporate gun lobby lead the conversation and intimidate their Congress members. They hate the daily carnage due to gun violence.

There are examples every day for the reason why we need to strengthen gun laws in our country.

A few days ago, a man in New Ulm, Minnesota gave his dying wife meth and had a death party for her. Clearly he is a man who should not have had any guns by the account in the article. But nonetheless, several guns were found in his home. The man reported that he had 47 guns, many of which were stolen. If true, why? Also from the linked article:

He has prior convictions for assault and DWI and is on probation for driving after license cancellation. A blood test taken after his DWI arrest in 2014 showed he had used methamphetamine, according to court records.

There really are people who should not have guns. Most likely this man could not purchase guns legally, explaining why most of his guns were allegedly stolen. Though he is under arrest for what occurred with illegal drugs and whatever else went on at his house, having guns accessible seems like a really bad idea. That is why we need stronger gun laws.

I just read this great editorial from the Star Tribune about the efforts of the Minnesota Medical Association to address gun violence. It’s heartening to see that health care providers are speaking out about gun violence as a public health issue. From the editorial:

Many cars now have backup cameras, which might have saved the child, the surgeon said. But when it comes to firearms, where are the technological advances and societal improvements — such as the widespread recognition of drunken-driving risks — that could prevent gun deaths?

The provocative question relayed by McClain provided just the right kickoff to the pioneering Minnesota workshop on gun-violence prevention put on by the state’s medical association. The MMA, which represents over 10,000 state physicians, merits praise not only for organizing it but for channeling members’ passion toward finding realistic solutions to a public health scourge. Beginning the discussion by considering the changes that have reduced motor vehicle deaths both inspired members and focused them on the workshop’s goal — proposing practical reforms.

The MMA has already taken a courageous stance on gun-violence prevention, one that not all members approved of. It issued a statement last March calling gun violence a “public health crisis” and then backed much-needed state reforms — such as criminal background checks on all purchases and transfers or exchanges of firearms. “Failure to intervene in the face of this significant epidemic is not an option,” the MMA said.

Exactly. It is not an option to not deal with gun violence. We have a crisis facing us and something has to be done about it. 

We will be a better country with the passage of H.R. 8. Will the Senate, with a Republican majority, many bought and paid for by the corporate gun lobby, hear a Senate similar bill?  Would the President sign any bill to strengthen gun laws given that the NRA spent more money on getting him elected than on any previous candidate? He owes them. If the Senate and the President want to be in partnership with an increasingly compromised organization they will be held accountable in the end.

Have a good week everyone. I will enjoy watching something positive happen for a change.


“Get small”= gun control

if today is not the daySo let’s review this awful week.

58 dead and over 500 injured and we are told to be quiet and talk about guns and gun violence another time.

We were even told by South Dakota Senator John Thune to do more to get away from a shooter who is aiming a weapon with a “bump stock” making it act like a fully automatic weapon. He said we should “get small”.

Yes, he said that. He blamed the victims. I called his office and asked for an apology. As my family has suffered the loss of my sister to a gun homicide, I was wondering if she got small to try to defend herself against the totally unexpected situation of her estranged husband holding a gun to her head at close range. Then I started wondering if those innocent little children mowed down at Sandy Hook Elementary School could have gotten any smaller when a shooter rushed into their classrooms with no warning and opened fire.

Or what about Rep. Steve Scalise- one of their own? Could he have made himself small as a shooter took aim and seriously injured him? Yet, even he is afraid to speak up for what makes common sense.   In fact in this article he claims that his own shooting “fortified his views on gun rights.” What? Yes, he said that. Check it out if you don’t believe me.

A stubborn adherence to an agenda without thinking through what could change to make us safer does not make sense- unless we follow the money and influence and the years of the gun lobby fooling us into believing that more guns would make us safer.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Insanity reigns.

And it’s not the claimed insanity of the shooters I am talking about. It is our very own elected leaders who are exhibiting insanity.

We are told that this is about mental illness and evil people- not guns.

(Oh- and I haven’t even talked about the daily carnage from guns aside from the almost daily mass shootings. That would be the 90 or so Americans who die every day from gunshot injuries that don’t get 24/7 media attention. One just happened in my home town- a young man used a gun to end his own life.)

It is about guns. We all know that. Who do they ( corporate gun lobby that is) think they are fooling? Maybe a minority of Senators and Representatives who actually represent fewer of us than the majority.

Fareed Zakaria knows this is not about mental illness:.

Second, turning immediately to the “sickness” of the shooter and piously calling for better mental-health care is, more often than not, an attempt to divert attention from the main issue: guns. (It’s also breathtakingly cynical because the politicians who use this rhetoric are typically the ones who also aim to cut funding for mental-health treatment.) Every conversation about gun deaths should begin by recognizing one blindingly clear fact about this problem — the United States is on its own planet. The gun-related death rate in the United States is 10 timesthat of other advanced industrial countries. Places such as Japan and South Korea have close to zero gun-related deaths in a year. The United States has around 30,000.

This disparity is the central fact that needs to be studied, explained and addressed. When seen in this light, it becomes obvious why focusing on mental health is a dodge. The rate of mental illness in the United States is not anywhere close to 40 times the rate in Britain. But the rate of gun deaths is 40 times higher. America does have more than 14 times as many guns as Britain per capita, and far fewer restrictions on their ownership and use. That’s the obvious correlation staring us in the face, as we insist on talking about every other possible issue.

And then, he says what is now being spoken out loud but was only quietly said after each of the other now more frequent mass shootings that inflict only America:

Given the Second Amendment, America’s gun culture and the influence of the gun lobby, there isn’t any simple answer. But there are many small fixes that would make a big difference: universal background checks; restrictions on military-style weaponry (of which banning bump stocks would be a tiny first step); a ban on selling to people with a history of domestic violence or substance abuse. But first we have to stop the dodges and the diversions. When you consider America’s stubborn inaction in the face of this continuing and preventable epidemic of gun violence — I sometimes wonder if it is all of us Americans who are crazy.

It is actually not all of us. It is some of us. But we are all responsible for not taking on the lapdog politicians who owe allegiance to the corporate gun lobby. Shame on us all.

Who will be next? Where will the next deadliest shooting take place?

The NRA is trying again to fool us all ( cleverly and cynically) by saying maybe they would consider dealing with the “bump stocks” that were used in the nation’s worst massacre from guns. Who do they think they are fooling? Lapdog politicians for a few.

Why are “bump stocks” even a thing?

We are not fooled. The fox is guarding the hen house. In what world does the industry that makes the weapons used to mow down this many people get to decide on the policies that have allowed this to happen in the first place?

This is another cynical and evil attempt to get the gun violence prevention movement to shut up and go away:

The NRA and its allies in the gun-rights movement want to avoid the airing in Congress of controversial issues such as universal background checks on gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

When we make noise, it doesn’t look good for them. Profits may tumble. Power may crumble. More lives may be saved.

Nathan, etc. lighting candlesIt’s been a hard week. The NRA went dark while the rest of us had vigils and calls to action. And no, thoughts and prayers are clearly not going to fix America’s unique national gun violence epidemic.

In what other country does this happen? It did happen once in Norway. When it happened in Australia, they acted. When it happened in Scotland, they acted. Australia

The result? No more mass shootings.

Other countries have angry people and domestic abusers and felons and people with dangerous mental illness. What they don’t have is these people killing innocent citizens with guns they shouldn’t have had in the first place.

All brought to you by the corporate gun lobby.

Now is the time to talk about our gun violence epidemic. NOW IS THE TIME.

94% of Americans know this. Even Republicans. Even gun owners. But their leaders are not acting and, indeed, acting against the wishes of their constituents.

Shameful. Deplorable.

Those who refuse to act lack the courage to do what even in their own hearts they know is right.

Here are the ones who have taken the most money from the gun lobby. They are in part responsible for the carnage. There is really no other way to say it any more.

We can see you. We can see how much you have taken to stop efforts to save lives.

Shame on you.

It’s the guns, stupid. Or is it the stupid guns?

Our local Rabbi sent me this when he regretted he could not attend our candlelight vigil the other night due to a Jewish holiday:

“I join with all those who grieve at the massacre that took place in Las Vegas and who are frustrated at the timidity of our elected representatives who fail to enact reasonable gun control measures or, worse yet, seek to loosen those that already exist.”

Yes- loosen. Speaker Paul Ryan took the SHARE act off of the table- for now- knowing how insane it would be to consider deregulating gun silencers in light of the discussion about how much worse this mass shooting could have been had the shooter used silencers.

They got caught this time. The media and sane politicians exposed this insanity.

But we don’t trust that it will stay off the floor. After the tears dry and the talk dies down and the victims’ families quietly mourn, the lapdog politicians will try to sneak it in.

Insanity.

And we know that the NRA has already said that their priority is the national concealed carry reciprocity act. In light of the Las Vegas massacre, we ought to consider how cynical it is to push this bill right now. But it will be used as another excuse to loosen gun laws that need tightening. Because- rights- the second amendment. I mean, think about how a person without a permit or training could have saved the day outside of the Mandalay Bay hotel that night!

In their dreams.

Fantasyland. This article explains it better:

The least fantastical is the idea that if a criminal threatens or attacks tomorrow, you want a gun handy to kill him. Being prepared for a showdown with a bad guy is the main reason gun owners give for owning one, and in the surveys that answer has doubled since the 1990s. During the same period, the chance of an American actually having such an encounter has decreased by half. In New York City, where restrictions on owning and carrying guns are among the strictest in the United States, the chance of being murdered is 81 percent less than it was in 1990. (…)

But beyond the prospect of protecting oneself against random attacks—and by the way, among the million-plus Americans interviewed in 10 years of Crime Victimization Surveys, exactly one sexual assault victim used a gun in self-defense—several outlandish scenarios and pure fantasies drive the politics of gun control. One newer fantasy has it that in the face of an attack by jihadi terrorists, armed random civilians will save the day. Another is the fantasy that patriots will be obliged to become terrorist rebels, like Americans did in 1776 and 1861, this time to defend liberty against the U.S. government before it fully reveals itself as a tyrannical fascist-socialist-globalist regime and tries to confiscate every private gun.

A friend noted on her Facebook page that it dawned on her that gun control is actually guns controlling our politicians.

True.

Where is common sense?

Now is the time.

Marulies cartoon

Guns and the Capitol

Basic RGBShots were fired near the U.S. Capitol yesterday. This is all in a usual day in our country. Luckily no one was injured as officers fired at a woman driving erratically and attempting to harm officers. Bullets flying on our streets is never a good idea no matter who fires them. People are understandably frightened when they hear nearby gunfire.But officers took care of the situation as is their job. From the article:

 

 

“It was high anxiety,” said Yanta, who planned to discuss farming issues with Cuellar. “I didn’t get shaken up until I went into the building and realized what had transpired right in front of me.

“To be so close to something like that was very frazzling.”

People know what it means when they hear gunfire.

Inside the Capitol our lawmakers are up to doing the bidding of the corporate gun lobby again. When aren’t they? Let’s take a look.

The nomination of Judge Gorsuch, is, of course, being scored by the NRA:

The National Rifle Association is investing $1 million of its own money in the Senate confirmation battle over Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

The group announced Tuesday that it’s buying up ads supporting Gorsuch in the states of Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri and Montana — all states Trump won in 2016 where Democratic senators are up for re-election in 2018.

None of the four senators has indicated their intentions on the nominee.

“Judge Gorsuch is an outstanding nominee and will protect our fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, said in a statement. “We will be fully activating our five million members in support of his confirmation.”

They obviously believe that if Gorsuch is seated on the Supreme Court, he will act in their favor on gun deals. The NRA and others in the gun lobby spent a lot of money to get Donald Trump elected. They just knew he would do their bidding and he has not disappointed. Nor has Congress.

They must have forgotten that the man Gorsuch is replacing, Justice Antonin Scalia, made it clear that strong gun laws are constitutional.

The House voted to take the names of Veterans who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness off of the NICS list of prohibited gun purchasers. This makes perfect sense, don’t you think? I mean, it’s not as if veterans aren’t killing themselves with guns in great numbers. And sometimes others as well. Seems to make common sense to me and a whole lot of other Americans that protecting our Veterans from using a gun to end their own life is just a terrible and tragic idea. The overall suicide rate amongst our Veterans is high. Even some well-known military generals objected to this bill:

Earlier in the week, a coalition led by retired Gens. Stanley McChrystal, David Petraeus, Peter Chiarelli, and Wesley Clark wrote a letter to lawmakers saying the proposal would “put America’s veterans who need our support the most in harm’s way, by providing them with easy access to firearms.”

But Roe argued that in many cases, veterans who are deemed unable to handle their finances can be indirectly barred from buying a weapon, even if they pose no real threat to the public.

“It’s hard enough for some people to admit they need help,” he said. “Imagine how much more difficult it is when they fear they will be stigmatized and isolated … (or) that a VA bureaucrat may decide that they are incompetent and take away their constitutional rights.”

Stigmatized? I get the idea here. People with mental health issues do not want to be stigmatized and they shouldn’t be. But I don’t get the idea that one feels isolated without a gun. I don’t and most people I know don’t. Somehow I can’t believe that owning a firearm when one is deemed severely mentally ill and not being able to handle one’s own financial affairs is at the top of the needs list. If it is, one needs to wonder if that person should not have a gun in the first place. Some people should not be able to access guns.

Firearms make it so much easier and veterans are familiar with their use. From this article:

Dr. Charles Engel: Six of 10 gun-related deaths are suicides, and about half of all suicides are gun-related. Most suicides occur on impulse, and the availability of a gun makes it all too easy for a person experiencing suicidal thoughts to act on that impulse. Some have speculated that perhaps one reason that suicide is elevated among military personnel and veterans is their experience with guns. Exchanging hostile fire in battle, especially the experience of killing, may represent an important psychological threshold. The tragic psychological familiarity that comes with crossing that threshold may well increase the likelihood of subsequent self-inflicted injury in someone already thinking about suicide.

The Senate may or may not take up this bill and do something with it. Time will tell if this becomes a law. We will not be safer. Nor will our Veterans and their families. It is backwards and ludicrous that some believe the Veterans in this small category would be safer with a gun.

But never mind public safety. Some in Congress don’t care about that because they have taken a whole lot of money from the corporate gun lobby and are threatened by them if they don’t vote the right way.

The very same gun lobby minions in Congress seem to think it is a good idea to grant reciprocity for gun permit holders nationally. I think this is a very bad idea and so do many others. I agree with Everytown for Gun Safety and other organizations:

“Reciprocity would have a profound impact on state public safety, making the state with the weakest standards into the law of the land, and letting criminals and other dangerous people carry concealed guns in every state in the country,” the gun control group Every Town for Gun Safety said in a statement.

So someone from a permitless carry state where no background checks or training are required to carry a permit will now be able to carry in states that have much stronger gun laws. What could possibly go wrong?

People like George Zimmerman, infamous for his shooting of an unarmed black teen-ager, will be coming to a state near you. You will not be safer as a result. This is the antithesis of public safety.

And then there is the attempt by the gun lobby and it’s lapdogs in Congress to re-introduce silencers into our national gun culture.:

Not everyone is convinced that shooting-related hearing loss is a problem that needs another solution.

“You already have the answer,” said Kris Brown, chief strategy officer at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “There are things available on the market to protect hearing.”

The people who want to make silencers more easily available point to a range of other tactical benefits. Silencers decrease a weapon’s recoil and improve its accuracy, the American Suppressor Association says on its website. This lets shooters fire in rapid succession without losing track of the target, as silencer manufacturers note. Suppressors also reduce muzzle flash, allowing shooters to better disguise their location in low-light settings.

Although supporters of silencers tout these latter advantages in terms of sport shooting, the same characteristics might also appeal to a mass shooter or other criminal.

“There could be some instance where somebody uses it for nefarious purposes,” said Jack Rinchich, president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. “They don’t want a loud report or a muzzle flash or a blast ― say a sniper or someone trying to shoot at police officers or other people from a distance ― and they want to suppress that noise.”

I’m sure that you remember the mafia shootings in the 1930s. Machine guns and silencers were regularly used to commit heinous crimes against innocent or unarmed victims. As a result, the nation decided that making these two types of firearms/accessories very difficult to obtain would be a good idea, thus the Gun Control Act of 1934. Since then, few, if any crimes and shootings have involved machine guns or silencers.

We have to remember that we don’t have universal background checks as a federal law. Until we do, if we make silencers legal to buy without the current strong restrictions, they will end up in the hands of those who should not have them. Why? Because they will be subject to sales with no background checks, as are all types of guns, because of private sellers on-line or at gun shows and other such venues. Who would get their hands on these then? We know the answer.

To say this is a bill that would protect hearing is ludicrous. There are many products that can protect hearing when shooting a gun at the range or while hunting.  Hunters want to hear other hunters shooting so they know where they are located and as self protection. In addition, the muting of a gun’s loud noise would make it more dangerous when a mass shooting is occurring. It was the noise of the bullets expelled from the assault rifle that alerted the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School that a shooter was in the building so they could do their best to hide and save the children. It was the sound of gunfire that led officers to the location of the Virginia Tech shooter.

The gun lobby if using fake news to tell us the only way to protect hearing while hunting ( yes they try to make this sound normal by relating it to hunting) is to buy a silencer. Nonsense. My husband lost some high frequency hearing in one ear while hunting as a youth and young man. I do understand that people can lose their hearing from gunshots. A good friend of mine became permanently deaf when her father shot off an assault rifle at a range very close to her head. She has had a profound hearing loss since then and her life was changed forever. That was a senseless and careless use of a gun which she readily admits.

So yes, it is true that shooting a gun frequently, or even irregularly, can cause hearing problems. But to use selling gun silencers as a hearing protection and public safety bill is disingenuous.

Again I go back to the path that follows the money. The silencer ( suppressor) industry would love to sell more of their products and can’t wait for that to happen. As fewer people own guns, the gun industry needs a market for their goods. That lurks behind most of the gun lobby pushed legislation. If you watch the video here you can see that opinions about silencers, aka suppressors,  are all over the place as to need, personal preference, ability to buy them, cost, etc.

And further Donald Trump Jr. is making the case for gun silencers.  That can’t hurt the cause in our current political configuration. The corporate gun lobby now has a seat in the White House.

I admit that many don’t see the harm in the use of silencers. They point to other countries, mostly European, who allow silencers. But those countries also have universal background check laws and other strong restrictions which make it unlikely that silencers would find their ways into the illegal market or into the hands of people who should not have guns.

I agree with the writer of this article.  This is a solution looking for a problem and looking for a way to make money.

Aren’t Congress members and our legislators charged with the safety of the public in their states and in the country as a whole? How did the narrative get high-jacked to make some people think that allowing more armed people, some with no training, to roam our streets and public places where families and the general public shop, work, go to school, have appointments with accountants, physicians, lawyers, tax preparers, other business people located in our cities?

It’s not normal for people to be carrying guns around in public no matter what the gun lobby claims. They want it to be normal. But it’s not. They have not convinced that many people so far as the public is largely in favor of common sense when it comes to gun laws and public safety.

As I said in my last post, it is a topsy turvy world as of the November. Literally everything is under attack. What we don’t need are people who are scared, feeling ill at ease, anxious, nervous, angry or depressed to get themselves armed and dangerous. And we don’t need the people who believe this is OK to be making gun policy.

Star Wars “The Force Awakens” and the real dangers of guns

Star WarsThe long awaited opening of the new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens” is here. It looks like security will be tight at movie theaters across the country.Of course we all know that mass shootings can happen in movie theaters. The dust has just settled on the trial of the Aurora theater shooter. Remember that one? Remember that, as a country, we pretended it didn’t happen and didn’t want to be inconvenienced by talk of trying to prevent these kinds of shootings. Shooters like this can get any weapon and any amount of ammunition they want with no background check (legally) and carry out a heinous shooting leaving far too many families grieving forever.

Brady background checks anyone? This guy, ridiculous as it is, passed a background check. He was not a stable person. But in America, what the heck? Anyone should have a gun because……rights. And the ammunition? Bought on line with no background checks. Hundreds of rounds and drum magazines. Why not? The average citizen needs that kind of sh&^ for every day living. We don’t require background checks on ammunition, no matter how much is purchased.

This time around, when a larger than life movie that will attract millions of viewers opens, America can’t help but think of shootings and terror attacks because…… America. So theaters are preparing with extra security guards and precautions like not allowing Star Wars type lasers and light sabers. Oh, and no masks or painted faces.

But, unless it is specifically prohibited, guns may be allowed inside. I mean, what’s more dangerous? A toy light saber or a real gun?

Anyone remember these incidents?

A Florida “law abiding” gun carrier shot and killed a young man who was texting at the beginning of a movie.

A man opened fire at a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater, killing 2 and injuring 9 before shooting himself.

A gun carrier “accidentally ” shot himself in the leg while carrying in a Kansas theater.

This is insanity. Our priorities are all screwed up.

And I can’t help throwing in why guns are more dangerous than other “weapons” or tools. How about guns in road rage incidents?  You just never think of someone throwing a knife at a driver in road rage. Or a hammer? Or maybe a vase or some sharp object?  A gun is much more effective at killing people. So this happened in Oklahoma:

A man open fired from his pickup truck and killed two people in separate shootings on an Oklahoma interstate in what is suspected to be a road rage incident. (…)

The suspect continued driving, firing at vehicles as he drove fast and erratically, Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said.

“He shot so many vehicles that it would have been totally impractical to assume he knew them,” Peoples added.

The suspect was being held at the Custer County jail on a preliminary complaint of driving under the influence, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.

Driving under the influence? What about murder with a gun? Two innocent Americans are dead.

And while we are thinking of road rage and gun deaths of people innocently driving their cars down the road let’s turn our attention to this conundrum. The federal government ( with the help of Congress) has determined that death by auto accident deserves our attention and tax payer money to fund research to cut deaths makes perfect sense. Research on gun deaths? Not so much. 

Thanks NRA and corporate gun lobby. Thanks Congress.

And speaking of guns allowed in all public places, Disney World has decided- NOT. Guns will not be welcome in their theme parks any more nor will they even sell toy guns in their parks. Oh, and no costumes for people over 14. Why? I think you know the answer. It is not only “foreign” terrorists they fear. It’s the nutty Americans who can buy anything on-line or at gun shows with no background checks or through straw purchasing or on through trafficking that have caused most of our nation’s terror attacks.

I was at Disney World with my daughter and grandchildren last winter. It was such a great experience for all of us. It’s the “happiest place on earth”. Or is it? We now have to fear armed people everywhere we go. We would rather inconvenience millions of Americans at theme parks than require Brady background checks on all gun sales.

I don’t know about you but the Tea Cup ride made me a little dizzy. It’s shown in this article about the security changes at Disney World. You know what else makes me dizzy? The lapdog politicians who give in to the demands of the minority of Americans ( and even of gun owners and NRA members) so that Americans need to fear guns while enjoying movies and theme parks.

(An aside- speaking of straw purchases, we now know that I wrote about before. The guns used in the San Bernardino terror attach were obtained through a straw purchase and the buyer has been arrested for that and many other things.)

The gun nuts tell me all the time that it would be so inconvenient for them to have to undergo a background check when buying from a private seller on line (armslist.com) or at a gun show. I have asked these folks if it is equally inconvenient for them when they buy from licensed sellers where Brady background checks are required on all gun sales. I have yet to see or hear a rational answer to this question. That makes me wonder if these folks can actually pass a Brady background check. For what other reason could there be to resist this common sense way of keeping guns away from dangerous or potentially dangerous people?

Tell the family of Zina Haughton  how inconvenient it would have been for Radcliffe Haughton to be turned away from the seller on armslist.com when he sold Haughton his gun used to kill his wife at a Wisconsin spa and 2 others and then himself. He was a prohibited gun purchaser because of domestic abuse. It was mighty inconvenient for the families of those killed that day to bury their loved ones.

Just for a minute, let’s take a look at how many guns are available through private sales in Florida on Armslist.com just for today. Many pages of them. This is not OK. How does the seller know to whom he/she is selling that gun?

Why do we allow this? Congress? State legislators? It’s up to you now.

I just spoke with someone yesterday who said she had to have a background check to volunteer with kids in our schools. This is true for teachers and for volunteers in churches when someone wishes to volunteer with kids. There are no exceptions to this. Why? To protect our children from potentially “bad” people. Background checks are required for many other Americans for many reasons- with no exceptions. But for guns? Not in America.

Guns everywhere is clearly not the answer. We have allowed this to happen and now we have created a monster. Changing this culture of guns, guns, guns is not going to be easy. But it is happening. The force is awakening. The American public has had #enough. We are fighting back and we are angry as well. The gun lobby’s angry and fear mongering rhetoric has been responsible for Americans arming themselves. And when more Americans are armed, more Americans are losing their lives to gun homicides, mass shootings, gun suicides and “accidental” shootings.

So now when we attend openings of popular movies or go on trips to theme parks or other places where large numbers of Americans gather, we need to fear for terrorists with guns or just about any nut or angry person with a gun who can easily get one.

We are better than this. It’s past time for the changes we want and deserve to protect our communities and families from devastating gun violence. Join me in demanding action from Congress and state legislators. Go to the website of a gun violence prevention organization of your choice. Get on the email lists. Attend events. Contribute money and your talent and time. Raise your voices with me and the millions of others who have already said in poll after poll after poll for many years now that they want our leaders to listen to us and not the corporate gun lobby.

 

An abomination

San Bernarndino shooting
Image from Huffington Post

 

 

 

An article in the Atlantic called it what it is- an abomination. From the article:

Three years ago, after that week’s American gun massacre (the one at a movie theater in Colorado), I wrote about our horrific shared understanding that these killings will go on. Similar things happen in other countries, but nowhere else do they keep happening. Australia, Norway, the U.K., Canada—societies like these do something about it. A society like the United States doesn’t. Can’t. The shootings are appalling. And our public paralysis is worse. (…) It cannot go on. And at this moment, I can’t bring myself to complete the thought by saying, but it will. This is an abomination, and it is a political choice.

Is it paralysis? Perhaps. It is, as some have said, a choice. It’s a choice to ignore the carnage because…. rights. That is an abomination. Where are the statements from the gun lobby about the latest carnage? Maybe they are beginning to feel like the rest of us- speechless.

What can we say any more that we haven’t said before? How can Congress stand by and offer only thoughts and prayers without offering to do something to stop the slaughter of innocent Americans? It is, after all, the job of Congress to protect the “homeland”. Where are they? Offering tweets.

The twitter world was on fire yesterday and last night. And one person got it very right when he started screen shooting the tweets of some of our leaders and added his own comments about how much money each of them had taken from the NRA. Make no mistake about it, that is the problem. Follow the money to the paralysis.

Insanity.

Last night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes interviewed Igor Volsky of Think Progress who tweeted out the connections to the NRA to those offering thoughts and prayers. You can read his tweets at the link just above. Check out his comments last night on MSNBC.

The shooting in San Bernardino was just one more in the daily list of mass shootings– the 2nd just yesterday if you read the linked Washington Post article. Is this the tragedy that will make the changes we deserve? Will this be the one? Will Congress stand up at long last and tell the NRA and others in the gun rights world to stand down?

Common sense is worthless if it doesn’t lead to action. And that is what the gun lobby is banking on. But the steady drip drip drip of the mass terror attacks on American soil as the victims pile up is finally entering the collective conscience of the 92% of Americans who support common sense gun legislation. They are acting. They are phoning Congress and signing petitions by the thousands. Last night the Brady Campaign asked people to text to call US Senators and thousands responded within minutes. #enough. You can watch what Brady Campaign President Dan Gross had to say about the latest “terror attack” in our country as he spoke on CNN.

The American public has had #enough. They had #enough a long time ago.

The media has also had #enough. Vox is doing a great job of charting or unique gun problem pointing out that: “The research on this is overwhelmingly clear. No matter how you look at the data, more guns means more gun deaths.”

With more than 300 million guns circulating in America and owned by even fewer people, it is inevitable that the carnage will increase. That many guns means that many people could be angry enough or paranoid or fearful enough to use their legally purchased guns. ( according to the LA Times article I linked to above about the latest shooting, the guns used were legally purchased). When guns are readily available in a moment of anger, depression, while drinking alcohol, or just “fooling around” they will cause death and injury.

And further, when the guns not legally purchased get into the hands of those we prohibit from purchasing them legally, we have a double problem. There is absolutely no reason not to do a Brady background check on each and every gun sale in our country. The gun lobby has made up reasons not to do this. They are wrong- so wrong.

Yes, America, we have a problem. It is spiraling out of control. Can we put our heads together and gain control of the situation? I believe we can. It’s not rocket science. We sent people to the moon. We can do this, too. Congress should drop all of their other nonsensical business ( repealing Obamacare for the umpteenth time, threatening to shut down the government, voting to keep Syrian refugees out of the country and blah, blah, blah) and roll up their sleeves to prevent the daily carnage. But first they need to drop their fear of the NRA and the corporate gun lobby.

We’re waiting but the longer we wait, the more bodies will pile up. If Congress members were like the rest of us, they were watching the drama unfold on live TV yesterday and last night. It looked like a scene out of a war movie. We are at war with each other. Armored vehicles with SWAT teams looking for armed citizens in tactical gear with assault rifles. Combat on our streets. Law enforcement outgunned by every day citizens with arsenals and tactical gear, all dressed up for battle.

We are better than this.

Congress? Are you with us?