Well, I didn’t expect that posting this meme would cause such a heated discussion on my Facebook page- amongst my friends. The killing of Cecil, the lion, by a Minnesota dentist has provoked some amazing emotions. The media is on it. It’s a controversy for sure. And people are demanding action. Great. I think it deserves the attention it is getting and potential solutions. And it looks like the Minnesota hunter has not exactly been a responsible hunter.
Meanwhile, back to the people who live in our communities, the killings and injury of human Americans continues. A writer in Colorado wonders why parents who leave their loaded guns out for small children to access are treated differently than those who leave their cars running in the cold. From the article:
This is so wrong. The punishment for leaving your car running in Aurora is far more severe than the penalty for leaving a gun lying around — even if a child finds it and shoots another kid with it. (…)
But in Aurora, you can leave a gun and ammunition in a house with kids, tucked out of sight, and rest assured the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office won’t prosecute you, even if your own kid finds the gun and accidentally shoots himself or someone else with it.
Last week, Arapahoe County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said that office would not file charges against an Aurora man whose 12-year-old son found his father’s gun inside a coat pocket, discovered the bullets elsewhere in the house, got the gun out when he had some pals over and his parents weren’t home, and ended up inadvertently shooting a 7-year-old boy in the head two weeks ago.
The younger boy was critically injured, but his condition nor prognosis aren’t particularly clear, other than he is expected to survive.
Hurlbert said there isn’t enough evidence to charge either the boy who fired the gun while playing with it, nor his father, who said he had no idea that his son even knew there was a gun in the house. (…)
About half of the more than 1 million homes with children and guns in the United States don’t have locked and unloaded weapons. And a report by Everytown for Gun Safety cites an unnerving but hardly surprising Harvard University survey of children in homes with guns. The study reveals that “more than 70 percent of children under age 10 knew where their parents stored their guns — even when they were hidden — and 36 percent of the children reported handling the weapons.”
Even though the Arapahoe County DA considers keeping a gun in a coat pocket good enough security to avoid criminal charges, clearly that strategy isn’t good enough to keep kids from getting injured or killed.
Kids know where guns are “hidden”. My own kids have told me recently that they knew where my husband’s hunting guns were hidden. This was before I got involved in gun violence prevention advocacy. We purchased a gun safe when more awareness about gun violence and the tragic shooting death of my sister caused us to be hyper aware of the dangers of guns in the home. I have provided videos and other information on this blog showing how kids find guns no matter what anyone tells them. They hold them. They play with them. They aim them. And then sometimes they shoot them and kill or injure someone.
Where is common sense? In America is it so lacking that it would be laughable if it weren’t so sad and tragic.
Back to the article above- the writer poses a very good question. Why are gun owners treated differently than others when it comes to negligence? What is wrong with our country? We are outraged and enraged over a man who allegedly shot a lion illegally in Zimbabwe. But when a father irresponsibly leaves his gun out for a child to access leading to a shooting? Not so much. This is the definition of insanity. We have our priorities backwards to say the least.
Last night, my friends Sandy and Lonnie Phillips were on The Rachel Maddow Show talking about the gun industry immunity law or Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms. After their daughter was murdered in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, they filed a law suit against the on-line ammunition dealers who sold the shooter his thousands of rounds of ammunition, protective body armor, explosives, etc. When the suit came before a judge, it was dismissed and not only that, because of the Colorado law, modeled after the federal law ( brought to us by the corporate gun lobby) they were ordered to pay the costs of the companies to the tune of over $200,000:
“[Holmes] bought steel-jacketed ammo that went through the chairs of the theater, went through the walls of the theater into the theater next door. [He] hit my daughter, who was hiding behind a seat…one bullet hit her in the head and created a five-inch hole…and blew her brains out,” Sandy Phillips said.
Phillips questioned why a bullet with such velocity wasn’t more regulated, and why a person ordering 4,000 rounds wasn’t questioned about needing so much ammo. She also said Holmes was not required to show his license to verify that he was of age to legally make those purchases.
This was not a lawsuit about propaganda ( as the judge proclaimed) or political gain. This was a law suit about our terribly flawed system of gun laws that allow just about anyone to purchase weapons and deadly ammunition on-line ( and in other venues) with no background checks or no questions asked. When profits come before protecting human lives, this is the result. Victims and families of shootings are treated differently because of the ever influential hold on our political system by one powerful industry and the lobbyists who represent them. It’s a uniquely American tragedy.
Once this many Americans are massacred over and over and over, it’s too late really to have the discussion. It’s too late for the Phillips’. It’s too late for the parents of the children who were murdered in cold blood at Sandy Hook elementary school. Now is certainly the time to discuss this controversial issue even if the NRA folks and others in the corporate gun lobby would love to have it go away. It won’t. Here’s why we need to talk about this issue now and after every mass shooting and every other shooting- in other words- every day:
Warren is right. The only deaths in America we must not discuss or address with any urgency are those caused by guns.
We saw this insane sentiment on display last week after the latest mass shooting – this one in Lafayette, La., where a demented 59-year-old drifter shot and killed two young women and injured nine others in a movie theater.
In the immediate aftermath, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made one thing perfectly clear. “The best thing we can do across Lafayette, across Louisiana, across our country, is come together in thoughts, in love, in prayer,” Jindal said the night of the shooting.
Asked about what this meant for changing his state’s gun laws (among the weakest in the nation), Jindal pushed back hard. “Let’s focus on the victims right now,” he said. “Let’s focus on their recoveries. There’ll be a time, I’m sure folks will want to jump into the politics of this. Now is not the time.”
Jindal is not alone in his desire to stall and procrastinate after a mass shooting. He’s only repeating the standard Republican/NRA mantra after similar tragedies: Now’s not the time. This is a period for mourning and prayer. There will be time to talk about how to address the problem later, but not while people are burying their dead. For now, let’s pray for them and hug our kids.
Again, why are gun deaths treated differently than other national tragedies or incidents that harm others and/or the environment? Our insane gun culture has become a national tragedy in itself. More from the article:
Funny, I don’t recall Jindal suggesting anyone wait a week to start discussing how to address the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010, which killed 11 people (most of them his constituents).
Immediately after that disaster, Jindal demanded immediate action on “three challenges: stopping the leak, protecting the coast and cleaning the coast.” No one suggested that Jindal’s quick call to clean up the Louisiana coast was a “shameful” effort to “score cheap political points.”
Instead of prayers, Jindal demanded prompt action. “Officials at the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority are also working with the state’s oil spill coordinator’s office to monitor any potential environmental impact,” Jindal saidwithin 24 hours of the explosion.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, did anyone suggest we should wait a few weeks to pray and mourn before responding to the terrorists who murdered thousands?
On the night of the attacks, then-President George W. Bush appeared on national television to vow swift action. “I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice,” Bush said that night. “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
Did Jindal or anyone else suggest that Bush was politicizing these murders by vowing to avenge them?
The answer is NO. The answer about delaying the gun violence discussion is also NO.
What we need to discuss for sure and at the least is one of the serious flaws in our background check system. That would be the “default proceed” with a sale of a gun after 3 days even after the background check has not been completed. This is the flaw that led to the Charleston shooter getting his gun. 9 people are dead as a result. Is that enough to get us talking about solutions to the national gun violence epidemic?
So yes, let’s talk about poaching animals and killing wild animals illegally. The people of Zimbabwe are even puzzled over the outrage given all of the pressing problems that exist where they live:
“It’s so cruel, but I don’t understand the whole fuss, there are so many pressing issues in Zimbabwe — we have water shortages, no electricity and no jobs — yet people are making noise about a lion?” said Eunice Vhunise, a Harare resident. “I saw Cecil once when I visited the game park. I will probably miss him. But honestly the attention is just too much.”
An economic meltdown over the last few years has closed many companies and left two thirds of the population working in the informal economy while battling acute water and electricity shortages.
Most people questioned in downtown Harare hadn’t actually heard about the lion and said they were too busy trying to make a living to care about it.
Water shortages, no jobs, an economic meltdown and the killing of a lion. Up to the Lafayette theater shooting, according to the “mass shooting tracker”, there had been 204 mass shootings in 204 days of 2015. Stunning. Even if you use a different definition of mass shootings, there is no question where the outrage should be directed in America. Since the Lafayette shooting occurred one week ago, 626 Americans have died of gunshot injuries and many more than that have been injured by bullets. Where is the outrage?
Let’s also remember that we are the country that let the massacre of 20 first graders happen with no solution to the problem. We moved on. And then more innocent people were killed. What will we tolerate? We don’t like the killing of a beoved lion in a foreign country because the hunter lured the lion out of a reserve that was protecting it and then killed it. How do we feel about shooters opening fire on innocent people in movie theaters or schools or military bases or college campuses on purpose for no apparent reason other than they could? I know how I feel.
We are better than this. Let’s get to work and have the discussion and pass laws that will make a difference.
I would like to end with this editorial by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post that I read just after posting:
Since 9/11, the United States has responded aggressively to the danger of terrorism, taking extraordinary measures, invading two countries, launching military operations in many others, and spending more than $800 billion onhomeland security. Americans have accepted an unprecedented expansion of government powers and invasions of their privacy to prevent such attacks. Since 9/11, 74 people have been killed in the United States by terrorists,according to the think tank New America. In that same period, more than 150,000 Americans have been killed in gun homicides, and we have done . . .nothing.
Our attitude seems to be one of fatalism. Another day, another mass shooting. Which is almost literally true. The Web site shootingtracker.com documents that in the first 207 days of 2015, the nation had 207 mass shootings. After one of these takes place now, everyone goes through a ritual of shock and horror, and then moves on, aware that nothing will change, accepting that this is just one of those quirks of American life. But it is 150,000 deaths. Almost three Vietnams.
And more from the editorial piece:
It is not an act of fate that has caused 150,000 Americans to die over the past 14 years. It is a product of laws, court decisions, lobbying and pandering politicians. We can change it.
And Timothy Egan writing for the New York Times agrees:
The waves of mass shootings continue to roll over the United States like surf on the ship of state’s prow. Every few weeks now we get hit with a jolt of cold water. We shake and shudder, and then brace ourselves for the next one.
So we beat on — a nation whose people are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of most other developed countries. The only thing extraordinary about mass shootings in America is how ordinary the killing grounds are — elementary schools, high schools, colleges, military recruitment centers, theaters, parks, churches.Is no place safe? Actually, several places are. You want protection in a country that allows a deranged man to get an assault weapon to hunt down innocent people in a public space? Go to the airport — that bubble of gun-free security. Or go to a major-league baseball game, or a stadium in the National Football League. (…)
What we’re moving toward, then, are regions that are safer than others, and public spaces that are safer than others, led by private enterprise, shunning the gun crazies who want everyone armed. The new reality comes with the inconvenience and hassle of screening and pat-downs similar to the routines at airports — enforced gun-free zones, not mere suggestions.
As a way to make everyday life seem less frightening, the new reality is absurd. But that’s the cost, apparently, of an extreme interpretation of a constitutional amendment designed to fend off British tyranny, a freedom that has become a tyranny in itself.