Christmas murder/suicides

broken homesWhat an awful title for a blog post. In America it has come to be expected that shootings happen no matter the day, time, or holiday. When anguish, anger, mental illness, revenge, domestic difficulties, or economic difficulties happen in the lives of average people some “solve” the problem by picking up a firearm. Yes, sometimes broken homes, broken relationships, broken hearts, and broken minds lead to arguments or fights or abuse and physical, emotional, financial and psychological injury. But way too often, they also end in death. In domestic deaths, firearms are the most used method to kill.

That is the story of my sister’s death in a shooting over difficult divorce proceedings. No one thought it was possible. He was eccentric but not violent. He had issues unknown to most on the outside. He seemed like a nice quiet guy who couldn’t harm anyone. But he did. He had several guns and lots of ammunition. Two died when he shot them in his anger and misplaced concerns over difficult divorce proceedings. Why not just shoot those who you believe were causing the problem? That will solve everything, right?

Wrong.

Our family is without a loved one forever.

I have run across at least 3 murder/suicides during the last 2 days alone that were reported in media sources. There are surely more.

A New Jersey family is dead in an apparent murder/suicide. This one looks like an example of something going on that outsiders did not sense. From the article:

A New Jersey man shot and killed his wife and 8-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself at a luxury high-rise apartment building, authorities said.

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the bodies of Michael Stasko, 53, his wife, Melissa, 49, and daughter, Nellie, 8, were found Friday night at the Windsor at Mariners Tower, an apartment building on the bank of the Hudson River in Edgewater. (…) “We don’t know whether it was financial, we don’t know whether it was familial, we don’t know really perhaps what was going through Mr. Stasko’s mind for him to do this,” Molinelli said.

We don’t know. That is often the case. A seemingly normal family obliterated because of a firearm in the home.

Closer to where I live this happened in Ashland, Wisconsin:

Police Capt. Jim Gregoire told the newspaper that officers responded and found a man with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers also discovered in the home two women dead of gunshot wounds. The weapon investigators believed was used in the shootings was found next to the dead man.

Authorities have withheld the dead people’s names pending notification of family. Gregoire told the paper that process could take days. One of the women is from overseas, and the department will have to go through federal agencies to reach her family. Those agencies are closed for the Christmas weekend, he said.

Gregoire said there was no indication of what could have led up to the shootings. No one left any messages behind, he said.

No indication. Nothing appeared to be wrong. Further investigation may show something else but for now, it is a mystery.

A young Arizona father shot and killed his 2 young daughters and then himself in a domestic dispute with his estranged wife. From the story:

Two young girls were killed Wednesday night by their father, 37-year-old Levi J. Parker, according to Sheriff Chris Nanos. Parker then shot himself in the head. He was pronounced dead at 12:10 p.m. Thursday.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call just before 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night from a mother who said the father of her two young children threatened their lives.
“He made statements to her that basically led her to believe this was her last chance to talk to the kids alive,” Sheriff Nanos said.

Some people should not have guns. With rights come responsibilities and safe gun ownership is one of these. There were red flags and warning signs. Power and control over others motivates many men to kill their current or ex spouses, girlfriends and/or partners. The ultimate power and control is a gun.

I link to the website of Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs where power and control wheels show how various ways of using power can end in tragedy when taken to the extreme. The post separation time can lead to abuse and using children to gain power and control as we see in this wheel from DAIP.

These are the stories of Americans who have access to guns, some maybe for self defense or for whatever reason people feel the need to own pistols. In the end, loaded guns in homes are more likely to be used to kill those inside than in self defense. Or were the weapons purchased with killing in mind? We don’t know why people buy guns in America. We just know that they do in greater numbers than in any other civilized society not at war. Guns are seen by some as security- as a way to keep themselves and their families safe from whatever fears are perceived to be lurking outside of their homes. By others they are used for purposeful crime and revenge.

This is our American tragedy. Domestic shootings happen daily. Suicides happen in large numbers. Our young people are shooting each other in urban areas. Toddlers are shooting people at a rate of once per week. Accidental discharges by “responsible” gun owners continue- mostly outside of the main stream media but reported in local news stories.

And we shrug our collective shoulders. We say we can’t do a thing about this. The gun lobby usually responds that people will find another way to kill themselves or others if they didn’t have guns. The thing is, that really isn’t true. Stabbings kill people but not nearly at the rate of firearms. Same with blunt objects. Suicide by gun is the preferred method because it is known to be the most lethal and effective. And it turns out that in states where more people own guns, more people kill themselves with a gun.

Laws can’t stop all of these shootings. But awareness can. Culture can. Changing the conversation can. Challenging the gun lobby’s myths that guns will keep us all safer can. Asking if there are loaded guns in homes where your children play can. Storing guns safely unloaded away from ammunition can. And laws can stop some of these shootings. As long as there is easy access to guns with no Brady background checks for domestic abusers, adjudicated mentally ill people and others who are denied purchases by licensed dealers who require these background checks, we can expect to see high numbers of dead and injured Americans.

Common sense has worked in other countries where stories like this at holiday time and every other day of the year are not in the news.There may be other problems in our neighboring countries and our friends across the oceans but gun violence is generally not one of them.

We are killing each other in great numbers here and doing nothing about it. We don’t do the research necessary to help with the causes of the violence and then we do little about the effects and the consequences. Thanks to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby, we allow people who shouldn’t have guns to buy them anyway. Thanks to our corporate gun lobby, guns are the only product unregulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby, lawsuits are very difficult and almost impossible against gun manufacturers and dealers that could help right some wrongs. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby, average Americans walk out of gun stores with absolutely no training on how to use a gun or to the risks involved in owning one. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby and its’ friends in Congress and state houses, people with no training or permit or background check can openly or concealed carry guns around in public places. And as a result, guns are discharging accidentally or on purpose in places where families spend time. Like these at Accidents Happen Guns Kill 3 at Christmas time alone. Lunacy.

Thanks corporate gun lobby.

We are better than this. We can also do something about this but we need our leaders to think straight about our national public health and safety epidemic without the interference of those who profit from selling the firearms used every day in incidents like the ones I included above.

Let’s get to work and make 2016 a safer year from gun violence than 2015 was.