Millions against gun violence

guns everywhereThank you to One Million Moms and Dads Against Gun Violence for the image on the left. The numbers of parents and others against gun violence are surging. Why? Because we don’t believe that guns everywhere are making us safer. We can read the news articles and the headlines. Some of us have lost loved ones to bullets. We understand that we can do something about this constant and unsettling barrage of stories about shootings. In the last 2 days there were 2 college shootings. 2 more dead and 4 more injured. And this was a week after 9 were shot and killed and 9 others injured at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  A Texas professor has gone public with his resignation saying he doesn’t feel safe with all of the guns around and when the Texas law allowing students to carry concealed guns on campus goes into affect in August, he doesn’t want to be there for what might likely happen.

There are millions of Americans who are angry and appalled at the latest violent incidents in the country. The headlines read like a country at war. In fact, in my local newspaper this morning there were 2 headlines for articles that appeared next to each other. The one on the left stated: “Two students die in shootings at Texas, Arizona college campuses“. The one on the right reads: ” Violence spreads to Gaza, where Hamas leader calls for uprising.” And then on another page, the headline reads: Obama in Roseburg urges nation to ‘come together’ over gun violence. My paper chose the headline above when running an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times by Maria L. La Ganga where the headline read: Obama, visiting Roseburg families,is confronted by angry gun rights activists“.

Appalling. The hatred and extremism of the folks protesting a visit by the President of their country to comfort yet the latest families by gun violence is inexcusable. If his had happened to any other President, we would have been calling these folks insurrectionists. The definition, from the link: “an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.” Well?

But because it is the right wing extremists, so ugly in their hatred of a President who has done nothing to take away their rights or their guns, somehow they get away with it. Where else can people stand with loaded openly carried guns when the President’s motorcade comes by? And why were they allowed to do this? Rights? Armed intimidation by angry citizens?

There is a disconnect between reality and policy. It’s fueled by angry armed people who have been deceived by the corporate gun lobby and others on the right side of our political spectrum. It keeps them agitated and voting.

Insanity.

Which is it? Will we come together as a nation over gun violence or will the angry gun rights activists who represent a very small minority of Americans get their way because they are angry and armed? Time to start thinking about what this means. Decisions in America are not made at the end of a gun barrel. Bullets will not decide who will lead our country. If it comes to that, our democracy will end and we will become no better than the countries we criticize because they are constantly at war and where violence reigns.

Also in my local paper, a letter to the editor claimed this: Arming everyone is the answer to gun violence”:

There is just one obvious answer: Allow everyone to carry a gun either openly or concealed. Then, when some bad guy starts shooting, those around him will be able to defend themselves and others. This sounds a little crazy, but is there any other answer?

The suggestion that everyone should be armed is, of course, nonsensical given the facts. In developed democratized countries not at war, there are no headlines like the ones in my morning paper. Of course there are other answers and they don’t involve arming everyone. Guns in the hands of angry gun rights activists are not normal in other countries not at war. It should not be normal here.

What we have learned about most of the shooters involved in the latest rash of shootings on our campuses is that they were fascinated with guns and their parents even encouraged that fascination. The shooter in yesterday’s Arizona campus shooting, for example, loved his guns. And we found out after the Umpqua Community College shooting that the young man who decided to end the lives of 9 people also loved guns and was well versed in gun laws. He had a stockpile of guns which, at this point we are not sure whether were all purchased by him or also his gun loving mother. He was also someone who had developmental and emotional difficulties and should not have had easy access to guns.

Insanity.

A headline in another area newspaper said this: “‘Lucky One’, Matthew Downing, gives first statement about Oregon Community College massacre.” According to this account from one of the survivors, the Oregon shooter mercilessly slaughtered other human beings as though he was a machine. What happens to people when they have these kinds of thoughts and feelings and also access to guns? Something goes terribly wrong and innocent people are killed. From the above article:

Downing did so and said at that point Harper-Mercer fired into the center of the room and began asking students one by one if they were religious. The shooter fired at one student who said he was Christian and another who said she was Catholic.

The shooter reloaded two handguns with ammunition from his backpack during the killings, Downing said. Harper-Mercer was “firing on people who were just lying there,” Downing said.

Downing also said the shooter seemed to lose interest when a woman told him she couldn’t move her legs to stand up because of the pain.

Downing was lucky. He will never be the same. What he witnessed last week will always be in his brain and his life has changed forever. Lucky him.

Insanity.

Common sense tells us that things just can’t keep going the way they are. Millions of Americans are on the side of passing stronger gun laws to stop at least some of the massacres. Why would we not? We know the answer. The corporate gun lobby, representing mostly the gun industry and not their members, has a frightening hold on the country’s conversation about guns and on our political process:

In more than three decades of service to the NRA, Wayne LaPierre has done more than any other man alive to make America safe for crazed gunmen to build warlike arsenals and unleash terror on innocents at movie theaters and elementary schools. In the 1980s, he helped craft legislation to roll back gun control passed in the wake of the Kennedy and King assassinations. And since the late 1990s, twice he has destroyed political deals that might have made it hugely difficult for accused killers like Holmes and Lanza to get their hands on their weapons.

A predecessor once characterized the NRA as being “one of the world’s great religions,” and 64-year-old LaPierre is a strange fit to be its pope. LaPierre did not come from gun culture. He wasn’t a hunter, a marksman, a military man or a Second Amendment activist. “He’s not a true believer,” says NRA biographer Osha Gray Davidson. “He’s the first NRA chief you can say that about.”

But judging from the commentaries, comments, news coverage and finally, some courage by some of our politicians, things are changing. We are not letting candidates for the highest office in the land get away with saying, ” ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all,’” Seriously? There are more where this came from in this Salon article.

Picture yourself in the room with the Oregon shooter. Someone ( an Army veteran) did actually try to rush the shooter but he was shot and disabled by the shooter. But never mind that. Dr. Ben Carson is sure he would have done it differently and the outcome would have been different as a result.

Picture a room full of first graders. And one of them, Sarah, says to Jack- “Hey everybody, we can take this guy down. Everybody attack him.”

Insanity.

People like Dr. Ben Carson are in an increasingly small minority. The NRA, for example, represents ( or they say they are representing) about 4 million gun owners- give or take a million. A small percentage of Americans own guns.  Even fewer of these are actually members of the NRA. And for those folks, we are letting our kids and others be slaughtered?

Insanity.

In a recent post I wrote about the anger over the string of shootings- one following on the heels of another. We are turning that anger into action. Please join one of the many organizations working to prevent gun violence and let your voice be heard.

Where is common sense? We are better than this.

UPDATE:

Speaking of millions in favor of stronger gun laws and expanding Brady background checks, I ran across 2 articles in the Washington Post written by gun owners who want change. The headline on the first one is” “I’m a gun owner. The NRA doesn’t speak for me.”  The second article, also in the Washington Post, has this headline:Most gun owners support background checks and other limits. So why aren’t their voices heard?”

We know the answer to the question asked in the second article. And we also know that the first article’s writer is saying what many reasonable gun owners are saying. The NRA does not speak for them. So when our elected leaders wrap their heads around this idea, something will change and lives will be saved. Until then- calling all gun owners. Join with us in our efforts to make change happen. We need your voices.

UPDATE#2:

Since I mentioned the anti-government gun extremists who showed up to protest President Obama’s visit to Roseburg, Oregon, I feel the need to let my readers know that the man who organized the protest rally is a convicted felon.  Hmmmmm.

Insanity.

Nothing to fear but… guns

fearI can tell that the American public has had #enough!.I wrote my blog post the other day about this and it had more views than ever before. I’m sure the gun extremists are checking it out to make sure I’m not saying anything about taking their guns away. That is their unfounded fear.

What the rest of us fear is the proliferation of guns in our communities. After the summer’s series of mass shootings followed by the live shooting of 2 Virginia journalists while on air, the cumulative effect is that the conversation is changing. In the years I have been working on this issue, I have not seen the intensity and the anger that I now see. I have not seen the media paying such close attention and actually beginning to ask some serious questions that need to be asked. They are using the language of common sense as are many of our political leaders.

Some of the leaders in Roseburg, Oregon, home to the latest mass shooting, have made it clear that their pro-gun and conservative views are anathema to any solutions to our nation’s public health and safety epidemic. In fact, the newspaper’s editor asked that President Obama not come to Roseburg, as he has done when other communities have suffered mass tragedies like this one, to comfort the families. The Mayor has now made it clear, under public pressure and the light shed on this dangerous behavior, that the President is welcome in his city.  The sick underbelly of our unhinged gun culture has been exposed with this latest shooting. It’s been there before but this time, it is not being hidden. The press is talking about it.

Southern Oregon is home to many gun extremists, including their own Sheriff Hanlin who is handling the investigation of the shooting in his community. The problem is that he claimed he would not enforce any federal gun laws passed after the Sandy Hook shooting and has also been part of a group of people who have denied that the Sandy Hook shooting took place. As a result, the Brady Campaign has called for his resignation. 

From the article, linked above, about Southern Oregon:

Mr. Obama plans to visit Roseburg on Friday to meet the grieving families of yet another gun rampage, but many people here are bristling at his renewed call for stricter gun laws. In some ways, the rampage at the college by a 26-year-old student, Christopher Harper-Mercer, has actually tightened the embrace of guns in a rural town where shots at rifle ranges echo off the hills and hunters bag deer and elk through the fall.

Some families touched by the violence and students who fled gunfire said they now feared that the kind of bloodshed seen inside Classroom 15 at Snyder Hall, Umpqua Community College, could happen anywhere. Some said they were planning to buy guns. Others said they would seek concealed-weapons permits. Others, echoing gun advocates’ calls for more weapons on campus, said the college should allow its security guard to carry guns. A few said they thought that stricter gun control laws could have averted the massacre.

Gun extremists such as the shooter’s mother who allegedly posted on social media about guns and gun laws and that her son suffered from Asperger’s syndrome- a high functioning form of Autism are part of that culture. It’s hard to imagine that the shooter didn’t absorb this kind of gun culture. It seems to me that this mother should have understood that her son was not able to be responsible with guns.

Seriously- you can’t make this stuff up. These folks think that the President will push a political agenda- something about gun confiscation or actually trying to do something about gun violence. This nonsense about politicizing the issue of gun violence is ludicrous. Of course, the gun lobby NEVER does this, right?

Wrong. The NRA is famous for trotting out their worn our logic after mass shootings and encouraging more guns instead of fewer. What is it about the gun culture in our country when people go out to buy more guns after a heinous mass shooting? It’s inexplicable and concerning.

The gun lobby in the name of the NRA is always politicizing the gun issue. That is all they do. The NRA is mining names for their data base and is sending out almost daily emails to their list invoking fear and paranoia. The problem with this is they get their names from state hunting license lists, gun show attendees, etc. even if people don’t want to be on their list. I have always said that if anyone wanted to confiscate guns all that is needed is hacking into or demanding the NRA’s list of names to find out where the guns are. Wouldn’t that be karma?

And meanwhile, the carnage and nonsense continues. Two open carriers in Portland, after the Umpqua campus shooting, shut down some Portland area schools. From the article:

Grant High School and nearby Beverly Cleary School were temporarily placed on lockdown Tuesday after police received several reports of two men walking in the area with apparent semi-automatic rifles slung across their chests.

What’s the point? Walking around with guns slung around your chest is just a plain bad idea given what is happening all over America. But never mind, gun nuts believe their rights includes this kind of immature and bullying behavior. And doing it right after a mass shooting in your state is totally irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

Moving along, you may remember my post about puppies and guns. Now, an 8 year old Tennessee girl is dead because an 11 year old neighbor boy purposely shot and killed her with a shotgun he found at home:

An 11-year-old boy in the US state of Tennessee has been held on suspicion of shooting dead an eight-year-old girl in a row over a puppy.

The boy has been charged with first-degree murder as a juvenile.

According to police, he shot neighbour McKayla Dyer on Saturday evening after she refused to let him see her puppy.

In another fatal child shooting case, authorities said on Monday that an 11-year-old boy fatally shot his brother while target shooting in Ohio.

The boys were with two adults, who had three loaded guns on a picnic table. The younger boy picked one up and it fired, killing his 12-year-old brother.

Both tragedies happened just days after a mass shooting at a small town college in Oregon in which nine people were killed.

You just can’t make this stuff up. And yes, in the 2nd incident mentioned adults were present. When will gun owners understand that young kids and guns are a bad combination? What are they thinking? Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.

Parents are already fearful about where the next school shooting will happen. It looks like we should be more fearful of young children with guns.

There is a serious disconnect with the desires of the American public to do something to stop this daily carnage and what actually happens in Congress. But the pressure is now on. People Magazine got into it, encouraging the public to call their Congress member and ask them to support measures sitting on their desks to expand Brady background checks to all gun sales. That would be HR 3411 or HR 1217. And then they listed all of the names and contact information for the Congress members to make it very easy to call. I’ve never seen this before but I’m happy to know that those of us working on this issue are not alone.

Gun owners are calling for people like themselves who don’t believe in the gun lobby rhetoric, to form their own group and speak up for common sense. Here is just one of several articles I have read after the Umpqua shooting calling for gun owners to get involved:

Not all gun owners agree with the policies of the National Rifle Association. Hunter — and Oregon resident — Lily Raff thinks she’s precisely the kind of person Obama was addressing.

“I think what he’s calling for is probably for gun owners like me, who support some reasonable gun control, to stand up and say, ‘The NRA doesn’t represent us,’ ” Raff tells NPR’s Michel Martin. “We want something to happen here. We want something to change.”

Raff, author of the memoir Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner, has written about her differences with the NRA. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Raff wrote columns for the New York Times and The Atlanticcalling on fellow hunters to support stricter gun control measures.

“There’s a whole spectrum of gun owners,” she says, “and I think one of the problems that we have as a country is that there is a very, very narrow view of the gun owner that has a voice.”

This is welcome support. We’ve always known of the wide support for background checks and other gun safety reform measures by gun owners and even NRA members. And we’ve also always known that organizations like the NRA represent a small minority of gun owners and an even smaller minority of Americans.

The American tragedy is that they have “gotten away with murder” for too many years. That is figurative but the way things are going, it is becoming literally true.

Change is in the wind. It’s coming. We can and will save lives going forward and make our country safe from the devastation of gun violence that affects far too many families. We are better than this.