Merry Christmas- This is what change looks like

bauble_decoration_297288As 2016 is soon to be upon us, change is in the air regarding guns and the conversation about the causes and effects of gun violence. I wrote in my last post about new research about gun violence that is educating people about the insidious nature of a devastating public health and safety epidemic. If we understand the causes, we can work on common sense solutions.

Let’s look at the ways in which change is coming.

The NBA has teamed up with Everytown for Gun Safety to run ads during NBA basketball games starting on Christmas Day.

The NRA lost a lawsuit involving the city of Seattle’s decision to add a new tax on guns and ammunition.

The Supreme Court refused to take a case involving a ban on assault weapons in Highland Park, Illinois.

The Governor and Attorney General of Virginia are continuing to make news as they have now decided that Virginia will stop honoring the concealed carry permits of 25 other states, including my own state of Minnesota.

Earlier this year, Governor McAuliffe signed an executive order banning open carry of guns in some Virginia public buildings.

Connecticut Governor Malloy took action to stop those on the known terror watch list from being able to legally buy guns.

Bad apple gun dealer, owner of Stag Arms in Connecticut got caught with felony possession of a machine gun not registered to his company and other such charges. He can no longer own his business or be involved in it in any way.

A conspiracy theorist and Florida university professor, involved in a disgusting movement harassing parents of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, has come under fire for his views and could be fired.

This is what change looks like. The public has had #enough. The shootings at the Planned Parenthood building in Colorado Springs and the terror attack that killed 14 people in San Bernardino have changed the conversation. It is long past time for that to have happened. It’s too late for Andy and Barbara Parker. It’s too late for Chris Hurst. It’s too late for Sandy and Lonnie Phillips. It’s too late for the parents of the 20 first graders who were massacred by a teen who shouldn’t have had access to guns. It’s too late for Colin Goddard. It’s too late for Bob Weiss and Lucy McBath and Richard Martinez. The list is too long for this blog.

It’s too late for the 89 Americans a day who lose their lives to gunshot injuries.

2016 will bring more change and more common sense. As the fear and paranoia will ramp up during the presidential election, more people will buy guns and more accidental shootings will happen and more children will die. More women will be shot by their abusers. More teens and older white men will take their own lives with guns that are accessible in their homes. More gang shootings in our large cities will lead to devastating deaths and injuries. More angry men will shoot innocent people in public places and at home. More and more and more.

There will be more victims. But the victims will not be quiet. They will fight back.

As more people like my friend at Accidents Happen Guns Kill and the Ohh Shoot blog write about the dangers of guns in homes, the public will be made aware of the risks to owning guns and hopefully think twice about leaving loaded guns around rather than storing them safely. As more parents are made aware that they should ASK if there are loaded guns in the homes where their children play, children will be safer. As more awareness of bad apple gun dealers ends with consequences for gun dealers who are providing guns to felons and others who shouldn’t have them, communities will become more safe.

The corporate gun lobby has gone too far and will have more defeats thanks to their unyielding resistance to common sense gun laws that the American public wants. When even their own members agree with the gun violence prevention groups, it is becoming more obvious that Wayne LaPierre and his fellow gun rights extremists are out of touch with even their own.

The Trace has published it’s list of 15 statistics about gun violence in 2015 that rose to the top of importance. Such facts as 8% of gun owners own more than 10 guns and deaths from car accidents are going down as deaths from guns remain steady or increase. And toddlers are killing themselves or others at a rate of once per week. There is much more in this great article that will change the conversation.

There will be more awareness and more talk about solutions and more laws passed to make it harder for dangerous and potentially dangerous people to get their hands on guns. There will be more people involved with gun violence prevention groups and more voices raised to let our leaders know that we have had more than #enough. There will be more bloggers and groups writing about the truth of our insane American gun culture.

#NRAdefeat will be trending on Twitter.

As we go into the Christmas holiday, I will be thinking of the family members missed around the tree and for whom there will be no gifts. There will be no gifts from them to their family members this year. We have missed gifts to and from my sister for 23 years now.

We remember them. We honor them. We will continue our march to common sense and making America safe from gun violence again.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the holiday. To those who celebrate and those who don’t I wish peace and fond remembrances of your loved ones.



Something smells in the state of the gun extremists

state_bird_144288I think it’s a great idea for a state to have an official state gun, don’t you? I mean, why not let the people of your state know that some things are to be honored and revered as special. In Minnesota the state bird is a Loon. That’s because the Loon is beloved here. The sound of Loon calls are on almost every one of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota. There’s nothing like that sound in the middle of a summer night while staying at our cabin in the summer time. The open windows let in the warm ( or cool) night time air and also the sounds of nature.

I suppose one could love the sound of gunfire in the middle of the night, too. In Tennessee, perhaps that is what they had in mind when the gun lobby bought and paid for legislators proposed a state gun- a .50 caliber gun that can shoot a bullet that travels for a mile before hitting its’ target. The message is clear, right? Don’t mess with us here in Tennessee. We have this state gun. If we hear noises in the middle of the night, watch out.

The bill may be on hold for a while. Maybe Tennesseans don’t want to be on record with the state gun thing. They are on record for a whole lot of other gun bills, however that smell of the corporate gun lobby influence.

This is all part and parcel of our nation’s gun culture. Worship of guns is a religion to some. Some of our nation’s lawmakers are making a statement about their love affair with guns by displaying assault rifles in their Capitol officers. From the article:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) last week tweeted a picture of himself and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the leader of the House’s Benghazi investigation, holding an AR-15 in a House office building.

The photo raised eyebrows, because Washington is home to some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, including a ban on the AR-15.

But members of Congress are exempted from rules that otherwise prohibit people from having assault weapons, including AR-15s, Capitol Police said.

The District’s gun laws “specifically provide that members of Congress may maintain firearms within the confines of their office and they and any employee or agent of any member of Congress may transport within the Capitol Grounds firearms unloaded and securely wrapped,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider told The Hill.

Right then. No one else can carry guns in the Capitol. They have made sure to protect themselves from someone with bad intent. The rest of us, not so much. In addition the citizens of Washington D.C. are constantly under assault from those who want to loosen gun laws everywhere except where they do their work:

“For years, the District of Columbia has infringed on its residents’ Second Amendment rights and rendered them vulnerable to criminals who could care less what the gun laws are,” the Florida Republican said in a statement. “This legislation will finally allow D.C.’s law-abiding residents and visitors access to firearms for sporting or lawful defense of themselves and their homes, businesses and families.”

Mr. Rubio’s “Second Amendment Enforcement Act of 2015” would make it easier for D.C. residents to purchase firearms and carry them in public by gutting the city’s gun laws and blocking the D.C. Council from enacting gun control measures. Among its changes, it would eliminate D.C. gun registration requirements, overturn the city’s ban on semi-automatic firearms and create a “shall issue” permitting system for concealed carry licenses.

Something smells of pandering. Rubio wants visitors and dignitaries visiting our nation’s Capitol to be surrounded by gun carrying folks except when they get to the Capitol building. What could possibly go wrong? Check the Ohh Shoot blog for how often “law abiding” citizens make stupid and dangerous mistakes with their guns.

Here’s another article about the Capitol AR-15 display. So what is the message here? Sure it’s legal. And maybe the paper work was all done correctly. But here’s the thing. Why does a sitting US Congress member need to display an AR-15 in his office? Keep it at home. What we need is some common sense. This open display of a gun in the office of a US Congress member is unnecessary and inane. In the face of so many gun deaths and injuries, how does this even happen? What are people thinking? I guess it’s hard to have a clear head when you are carrying the smelly garbage of the gun lobby in order to curry favor. smelly

The gun rights extremists make a big stink about their rights and in the process, leave the rest of us less safe. We smell a rat in Texas and so does the head of the Texas police when he says this about a bill moving through the legislature:

He and Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, were behind the amendment that basically says an officer cannot ask to see a person’s handgun license simply because they are openly carrying a gun.

“The police officers, just like if you’re driving a car, need some reasonable suspicion of a crime or reasonable suspicion that the person is unlicensed,” said Rinaldi.

Kent Morrison carries a concealed handgun on a regular basis and agrees with the lawmakers.

“Why should [licensed gun owners] be stopped and questioned while they’re doing something totally legal?” asked Morrison.

But the largest police association in Texas, which has supported open carry, disagrees with the amendment.

“It’s disturbing,” said Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, “because it’s definitely aimed at law enforcement.”

He believes it takes away the tools an officer has to do their job.

Why shouldn’t licensed gun owners be stopped and questioned while carrying loaded guns openly around in public? What if the gun carrier is a felon with bad intent? What if the gun carrier is a domestic abuser on his way to shoot his partner? What if the gun carrier is an adjudicated mentally ill person on the way to shoot up a classroom of first graders? Gun rights extremists hide behind the second amendment to loosen our gun laws so that soon enough virtually anyone who wants to own and carry guns around will do so unchecked- unhindered by any laws. This is not the kind of communities the majority of us want. But this is pushed on us by the corporate gun lobby whose primary interest is in driving up profits while gun deaths are also going up.

Speaking of licensed gun owners, or not, as in the case of the new Kansas law to allow people to carry guns with no license or training, check out the poll showing Kansans with common sense. Of course we don’t want people walking around with loaded guns ho have not undergone training or background checks. THE GUN LOBBY AND THEIR BOUGHT AND PAID FOR POLITICIANS ARE WAY OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE PUBLIC. Something doesn’t smell right. 

It’s as if we have lost our sense of what’s right and wrong. We have lost our ability to think clearly about public safety and what’s best for the citizens of our community. We have lost our moral compass when it comes to guns. Nothing seems to matter or make any common sense when it comes to the agenda of the gun lobby.

We will continue along this vein apparently until more tragedies occur. Until the children of some of our lawmakers use a gun in an “accidental” shooting; until the child of a lawmaker uses a gun for a suicide; until a lawmaker actually uses a gun to commit a homicide; until the good friend or a family member of a lawmaker is shot in a senseless gun death; until more small children are shot while doing what children are supposed to do- be in their classrooms learning.

There is no evidence that more guns have made us safer. In fact as more and more facts and research get released, we are seeing the opposite. We have seen the opposite for a long time but the gun lobby has stifled research by our government in to the causes and effects of gun violence. Just as the government in the form of the CDC studies other issues concerning public health for the common good of the citizens, as is the job of the government, they should also study gun violence. Physician groups are getting fed up with this lack of research into one of our nation’s dangerous epidemics:

For two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been prohibited by Congress from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control.” (The National Institutes of Health faces a similar restriction.) Now there are signs the medical profession is getting fed up. In the April 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine is an editorial calling on physicians to demand the “resources and freedom” to do their jobs: reducing harm. Specifically, the journal calls for an end to the political blockade on research about the health effects of gun violence.

The gun lobby’s anxiety is understandable. It makes many claims, but none is more consequential than the declaration that more guns lead to greater public safety. Life (and death) across the U.S. seems toundermine that assertion daily, while a smattering of research, conducted despite the blockade, reinforces doubts about the National Rifle Association’s thesis.

Perhaps extensive research would authenticate the NRA’s claims. On the other hand, there is a chance that a solid body of social-science research would reveal its thesis as a myth. Better not to take the risk.

Not all research has been extinguished. Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of California at Davis are among the institutions that have produced notable studies in recent years. The National Institute of Justice has made limited forays into studying the criminal use of guns. But given the scope of the issue — more than 30,000 firearm deaths and tens of thousands of injuries annually — foundation grants and a bare trickle of government research can do only so much to advance understanding.

Understanding. That seems important here. With such a volatile and politically charged issue as what to do about gun safety reform, evidence based research is vitally important. We are operating in a vacuum created by the gun lobby- very purposely. Some statements made beg credultiy. I write them all the time on this blog. For example, possible Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee had this ridiculous thing to say about the second amendment:

During the discussion, Huckabee shared his views on the Second Amendment by explaining that, where he comes from, the “gun nuts” are the people who support gun control and stated that if somebody broke into this house, the only reason he’d call 911 would be to tell them where to pick up the body of the intruder.

Explaining that he’s owned guns since the time he was five, Huckabee said that he cringes when he hears people say that they support the Second Amendment because it protects hunting.

“The Second Amendment is not about hunting,” he said, “this is about freedom. And I’ve heard people say ‘Huckabee is one of those gun nuts.’ Where I come from, a gun nut is a person who is irrationally afraid of a firearm because they don’t understand the nature of having one and the importance to their liberty. I don’t love guns, but I do love freedom. I love it a lot.”

Nice. Isn’t Huckabee a minister? Whatever happened to caring for and loving our neighbors like ourselves? Whatever happened to compassion? This smells of pandering and a lack of basic understanding about the problem of gun violence in American. Who needs a “leader” saying stuff like this? It stinks up the conversation about guns and gun violence that our country so desperately needs.

We are better than this. It doesn’t have to be like this. But it will be until the majority decides to rise up and demand change. It will be until we change the conversation about gun safety reform. It’s possible to freshen the air and freshen the conversation with facts and humanity. Please join a group working on the issue of gun safety reform and say “enough.”

Enough. Haven’t we had enough? If over 30,000 gun deaths a year is not enough, what is? Reasonable people can disagree about issues. But it smells when facts are denied or shoved aside in order to promote the agenda of a single issue political interest group whose main goal is profit but its’ products cause the death of innocent Americans.

Where is common sense?