We are at war with each other

crossIt’s no secret. The political atmosphere was hateful and angry before the Orlando shooting. Now it’s worse. We are war with each other. History will look back on the America of the 2000s and write about how we turned our backs on the millions of victims of gun violence and their families. Historians will write about how a country allowed the massacre of 20 first graders to happen without trying to do something to prevent the next one. History will not be kind when it comes to America and mass shootings and gun violence in general.

If we lined up the crosses of all Americans killed by gun violence since 1968, they would form a field larger than that at Normandy (France), Gettysburg, Appomattox, Arlington and other cemeteries combined where fallen American military personnel are buried.

Are we at war?

Today is the first anniversary of the Charleston church shooting that took the lives of 9 innocent Americans while praying at Mother Emanuel church. History will write about how our weak gun laws allowed a young man with hate and racism in his heart to buy a gun in spite of his prohibited purchaser status. Thanks to the corporate gun lobby and their minions in Congress, a three day default proceed provision was written into the Brady law. What that means is that if the record keeping and data bases don’t communicate with each other and get information into the law enforcement system by 3 days after the purchase of a gun, the purchaser can walk away with the gun anyway.

Nine precious lives were taken because of that provision in our law that makes absolutely no common sense. But in America, sales and profits of selling guns takes precedent over saving lives.

Today, the families of the 9 killed in Charleston are remembering their loved ones. Here is one article written by the brother of one of the victims in remembrance.:

We may be back here again soon. Not in Charleston, not in a church, but somewhere in our country someone is going to experience some type of pain simply because of the proliferation of guns, and the Achilles heel of our country, racism, that we can’t seem to get past. So we got to not just forgive and forget, but we have to remember to continue to fight for those things that make our society better today than it was yesterday.

What will historians write about how we responded to this crime of hate and racism?

I wrote in my last post that things were changing concerning guns and the conversation about gun violence after the Orlando shooting. No sooner had I posted my article than a filibuster broke out in the U.S. Senate led by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator Murphy was in attendance when the families of the first graders massacred at Sandy Hook learned that theirs were the 20 who didn’t come out alive. He is not going to forget or let us forget about that heinous and bloody day in American history.

Has the accumulation of all of the mass shootings in recent years just been too much? Are we, at long last, ready to do something?

It looks like there may be a vote now on some gun safety reform provisions as a result of that filibuster. At the least, the conversation changed for 15 hours when 40 Democratic Senators, 2 Republicans and 1 independent joined in and articulately and passionately talked about our national gun violence scourge. They stood with the victims. They spoke for the victims’ families. They spoke for the majority of Americans who can see that change has to happen in order to stop the daily war in our streets and our homes and public places.

Even the generals are weighing in. General Stanley McCrystal wrote this piece for the New York Times today. From his opinion piece comes something very important to the conversation about guns in America:

Here at home, many of us are alarmed by the carnage. We are alarmed by loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers get hold of guns without a background check. We are alarmed that a known or suspected terrorist can go to a federally licensed firearms dealer where background checks are conducted, pass that background check, legally purchase a firearm and walk out the door.

Now veterans are speaking out. Last Friday, two days before the tragedy in Orlando, a new initiative, the Veterans Coalition for Common Sense, led by the Navy combat veteran Capt. Mark Kelly and his wife, the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was announced. Those of us serving on its advisory committee come from every branch of our military and virtually every rank. We are trained in the use of firearms, and many of us have served in combat. And we all think our country must do more to save lives from being cut short by gun violence.

Are we alarmed enough to do something at long last?

Listen to the voices of common sense and experience. Those on the side of the corporate gun lobby are most often also strong supporters of our military. Not that the rest of us aren’t but those who oppose reasonable gun measures can often be heard to proclaim themselves as patriotic Americans- more patriotic than the rest of us. What’s so patriotic about allowing our citizens to be massacred by people who shouldn’t have guns?

The inanity of the conversation about gun violence in our country has been taking place for far too long. Not any more. People are joining gun violence prevention organizations in large numbers asking what they can do to help. Spontaneous rallies have occurred. Monetary donations have been received. Hundreds of thousands of calls were made to Senators in 24 hours urging participation in the filibuster and what will hopefully be upcoming votes.

We have had #Enough. Action is needed. No more words and thoughts and prayers.

And no more blaming President Obama for what happened in Orlando. Shamefully Arizona Senator John McCain ( among others) has gone over the line of common sense and sanity to join in some of the lunacy regarding the Orlando shooting. From the article:

Sen. John McCain said Thursday that President Barack Obama was “directly responsible” for the massacre at the gay nightclub in Orlando, though McCain later said he “misspoke.” “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures — utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq, thinking that conflicts end just because you leave. So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies,” McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Really Senator McCain?

We are better than this.

There is a gun culture that has promoted the civilian ownership of weapons of war that is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. For 10 years we had a ban on these kinds of guns but our weak politicians, with pressure from the gun lobby let it lapse. Since then these weapons designed for use in war time have been used to kill countless Americans. Sandy Hook. Aurora.San Bernardino….. It doesn’t have to be this way.

This Boston Globe editorial is asking for us to return to sanity and common sense when it comes to military style assault rifles:

There is nothing more American today than a mass shooting, the quickest way for the wicked among us to join the ranks of the reviled. Their motives are many, but their opportunity is limited only by their gun and ammunition magazine brand preference. In this country, the federal government limits duck hunters to weapons that carry only three shells, to protect the duck population. But you can buy an assault weapon in seven minutes and an unlimited number of bullets to fire with it. For every McDonald’s in the United States, there are four federally licensed gun dealers and an untold number of unregulated private dealers who can legally sell an unlimited number of guns out of their homes, backpacks, and car trunks without requiring a criminal background check or proof of ID.

These weren’t the guns, and this wasn’t the America, that the Founders foresaw. That is why we need a new assault weapons ban, written for the realities we face in 2016.

What did the founding fathers envision? Gun rights extremists tell us that what we have now is exactly what was meant by the founding fathers when they wrote the second amendment. That is, in part, responsible for what happened in Orlando.

There is a weak system of regulating who gets guns that is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. Racism and hatred is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando.

Presidential politics and extreme rhetoric is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. One of our Presidential candidates is fear mongering and hating certain groups even thought they aren’t responsible for what happened in Orlando. (“Trump’s discourse, both leading up to and following the Orlando shooting, begins with a pathos of fear but ends with an appeal to anger.”)

We are better than this.

Even tolerance of anti-government groups and support for them has allowed the current culture to get a foot hold in American and leads to other acts of violence. For example, the stand-off by armed Americans proclaiming it was all about the federal government taking something from them, was not only ignored but even supported by some on the right and Donald Trump himself:

That chummy relationship with extremists didn’t start with Malheur. In fact, Donald Trump expressed admiration for Cliven Bundy at the time of the 2014 confrontation between his armed supporters and law enforcement officers over Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees for his cattle on government land.

“I like him, I like his spirit, his spunk…I respect him,” Trump told Fox News in April that year. Bundy’s sons led the Malheur standoff, which eventually resulted in their arrest and the killing of one of the occupiers at a roadblock by state police.

“Republican Congressional leaders have done nothing to combat this growing threat,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) “Indeed, they ignored a Democratic request … to hold a Natural Resources Committee hearing on this issue.”

History will judge us for this kind of anti-government extremism.

It’s not President Obama. It’s those who hate him. More from the above article:

“This antigovernment movement has exploded since President Obama took office. In 2008, we documented approximately 150 radical antigovernment groups. Last year, we counted almost 1,000,” he added. “The movement is dangerous. It includes almost 300 armed militia groups committed to resisting what they see as a tyrannical federal government.”

Thompson pointedly compared the anti-government crowd with foreign, and foreign-inspired, terrorists. Domestic terrorists have the same goal, he said, “to harm and incite fear within our borders.”

Congress, he said, “must take this growing threat seriously and take action.”

Our politicians weak spines are in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. Individuals who have become self radicalized and terror groups who want us to be terrorized by actions of unstable angry young men who have troubled pasts and intolerance of others are in part responsible for what happened in Orlando:

Oppositional. Lacks remorse. Verbally abusive. These are some of the terms teachers and school counselors used to describe a young Omar Mateen, according to elementary and middle school records.

Mateen, who killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday in the worstmass shooting in modern U.S. history, had a troubling record of behavioral issues throughout his elementary and middle school years, ranging from simply disrupting class to outright aggressive conflicts with classmates.

Our almost total ignoring of the hundreds of thousands of gun violence victims is in part responsible for what happened in Orlando. Fear and paranoia promoted by the corporate gun lobby and extremists on the right are in part to blame for what happened in Orlando.

All we know is that blame is not going to change the fact that too many Americans have been killed in mass shootings and every day shootings. We need to deal with fear, paranoia, hate, racism, misogyny, anti-gay sentiments, terror, intolerance, mental health and whatever else causes someone to kill others. But to ignore the guns is a national shame and putting our heads in the sand.

This can’t be the new normal. We can’t let it be. We will do whatever it takes. The nation is asking for our leaders to do something. Increased interest in strongly regulating assault style rifles and high capacity magazines has surfaced. The gun lobby hates any renewed discussion but we are not going to let the gun lobby lead that discussion. A majority of Americans want something to happen.

Something has changed. New ways of invoking terror in Americans has sparked a national conversation but I am concerned that it has further divided us and made the conversation more hate-filled and acrimonious than ever.

We are better than this.

Worlds collide

I remember the episode of Seinfeld where the character “George Costanza” chastised Jerry Seinfeld for inviting his fianceé, Susan, to a movie. George was upset because he wanted to keep Susan away from his world with his friends. Here is the segment:

I had an exchange on my last post with one of my readers about the lawful ownership of tanks by private individuals. In my world, the people with whom I associate would find this to be just plain ridiculous and would wonder why in the world anyone would want to own a tank much less the legality of such ownership. One can assume that these tanks are not operational and only for the purpose of collecting them. But again, why?

An article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted this world of tank owning:

When their insurance agent inquired about their plans for the tank, the Neal brothers emailed back, “We are going to use it to take over the world.”
Says Ken Neal, 45: “A tank is cool.”

A tank is also expensive, with good ones going for the price of some houses.

Sigh.

In Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine he asks if the right to bear arms should be extended to nuclear bombs and other such military armaments. Does it? How far can we go with the amendment that was written more than 200 hundred years ago by the founding fathers that are so often “quoted” or mis quoted by gun rights extremists. From the film:

Is this the world envisioned by our founding fathers?

A Facebook friend, involved in gun violence prevention, posted this photo of a quote from the Jefferson Memorial while on a recent trip to Washington D.C.

Thomas Jefferson quote

 

The world has changed since Thomas Jefferson wrote this quote while reflecting on the Constitution. I think everyone can recognize that. Since then several wars have occurred leaving behind new types of arms. ( and by the way, more Americans have died from gun violence just since 1968 than from all Americans killed in wars since the Constitution was written). Now some of these arms ( weapons) are marketed as “common sporting rifles”. AK 47s have been converted to become an ordinary civilian weapon for mass shooters or those who believe the government is coming for their guns.

The inventor of the AK 47 expressed regrets for how his invention has been used in wars and in civilian deaths around the world:

“I keep having the same unsolved question: if my rifle claimed people’s lives, then can it be that I… a Christian and an Orthodox believer, was to blame for their deaths?” he wrote.

“The longer I live, the more this question drills itself into my brain and the more I wonder why the Lord allowed man to have the devilish desires of envy, greed and aggression.”

AR 15s are also used by mass shooters such as at Sandy Hook Elementary school where a teen shooter knew perfectly well that using an AR 15 would inflict as much damage as possible in a very short time in order to kill as many first graders as he could. From the article:

“It’s a favorite among sportsmen, target shooters and competitors,” Stewart told CBS News. “It’s also popular as a home defense platform.”

Lightweight and easy to master with about 30 minutes of instruction, the AR-15 was invented in 1959 for the military, but was modified for civilian use beginning in 1963.

“The AR-15 is America’s rifle,” Stewart said. “You’re going to find more of those in safes at home than you’ll find of any other rifle in the country.”

Civilian use of the weapon is an abiding issue though.

There once was a nationwide ban on such assault weapons, imposed in 1994 following a number of mass shootings in the ’80s and ’90s.

When it was lifted ten years later, gun rights advocates cheered and sales rose.

Now the parents of those first graders and the relatives of the adults also killed in that heinous shooting are suing the manufacturer of the AR 15 because said manufacturer knows that these types of semi automatic rifles originally designed as war weapons that can take large capacity ammunition magazines are actually not common sporting rifles but meant to kill a lot of people in one place at a time in short order.

Worlds collide. The world of gun rights extremists is not understood by those of us who want safer communities and fewer people shot to death or injured by the many guns that are now accessible to average Americans. And vice versa. Was this the vision of our founding fathers? Doubtful. They had the common sense to realize that the world would change long after their own deaths and that the country and its’ Constitution should also change to reflect different times. They set down some principles that have helped govern our country for the last 200 plus years. For the most part they have worked well. But when it came to only white property owners having the right to vote, the new world had to change. Slaves were no longer. Black people were freed and demanded the right to vote. Women decided that they had the same rights as men to vote and demanded that right. It took a long time to get there which, looking back, seems almost surreal.

And so we plod along trying to make the world a safer place and hoping that gun deaths and injuries can be prevented with stronger gun laws to reflect the current world. The internet has provided a new market place for the sale of guns where private sellers can connect with private buyers and exchange guns for money with no background checks. Let’s look at just one of many hidden camera videos of how easy it is to buy any gun on-line.

“When you need the money you need the money.”

Sigh. Follow the money.

The founding fathers did not anticipate this world. When the Brady law was enacted, there was a provision for private sellers to be able to sell collections of guns at gun shows and other places without having to ask for background checks. The world has changed since 1994. Private “collectors” now set up tables at gun shows with the same types of guns and as many sometimes as licensed dealers. And they don’t have to require background checks from buyers. Another Brady Campaign hidden camera video to show the real world of private sales at gun shows:

Colin Goddard (in the video) was shot and injured at the Virginia Tech mass shooting.

Guns don’t fall out of the sky. They are not powder rifles any more. One more video from States United to Prevent Gun Violence to show you what I mean about the changed world of guns since the second amendment was written by our founding fathers:

 

Mass destruction is possible with the weapons developed since the 2nd amendment was written. Weapons designed for military use are now available to citizens. And some gun extremists actually believe they will be at war with their own government. This kind of fear and paranoia is stoked by the corporate gun lobby where profits are the bottom line. And so resisting all common sense measures to stop guns from going from the legal market to the illegal market are stopped by their nonsensical rhetoric.

And so the devastation continues with almost daily reporting of toddlers accessing loaded guns owned by their parents or other relatives who think their rights to own guns apparently don’t come with the responsibility to keep others safe from shooting themselves or others. Domestic shootings continue unabated. Gang shootings are taking the lives of young people of color in our large urban cities. Gun suicides are taking the lives of too many older white men and young (mostly) men and teens.

Worlds do collide. Truth is often stranger than fiction. Just look at the Presidential race if you don’t believe me. Presidential candidate Donald Trump is ramping up the nonsense and fear by making claims that if Hillary Clinton is elected as our President she will methodically order the confiscation of all of the more than 300 million guns in circulation in America. If you believe this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. 

So what now? Will we ever be able to convince a majority of our elected leaders to support the views of the majority of Americans without fear of being attacked by the minority but well funded and mythically powerful corporate gun lobby. Yes, a lot of Americans own guns but fewer homes have guns than in many years. Some Americans own many guns. Yes, a lot of Americans hunt and use guns for recreation but they don’t oppose stronger gun laws. Yes, a small minority of Americans like to carry loaded guns around in public and seem to think they have some sort of constitutional right to do so (can you find that in the wording of the second amendment?) But do they realize that carrying a gun in public is more often to result in incidents like those below than actually using that gun in self defense?

Kentucky concealed carry permit holder discharges gun “accidentally” in hospital.

South Carolina student “accidentally” discharges gun in a school and shoots himself.

3 year old finds gun in Dad’s backpack and shoots and kills himself.

This is the real world. It is not fiction. This is where the world of the gun extremists and gun lobby collide with the world of actual daily shootings that could be avoided and prevented if we put our heads together to make it happen.

Slowly but surely, the public is recognizing that we can do something about the devastation of gun violence in America. As more people are affected by gun violence or are made aware of the truth of the matter, they are joining the many organizations and individuals working to prevent gun violence. And politicians are recognizing that supporting reasonable gun laws that don’t affect law abiding gun owners or take away rights is a winning issue.

We are better than this. Let’s get to work because we’ve had #Enough and refuse to be intimidated by those who make claims that are not true. We may never bring the two worlds together but we can bring the majority who reside in the middle and believe we make changes together to save lives.

 

About flying bullets

bullet holesYes, it’s true. There are bullets literally flying around in some of our neighborhoods at will with no end in sight. Eventually they stop but they really don’t know where to stop and sometimes stop in an unintended place. Of course, if bullets stop at an intended target, that is also very bad and often deadly.

The gun rights advocates love to refer to Chicago and all of the gun deaths there to make their case that Chicago ( and Illinois) have strong gun laws, so why all the deaths? That’s a good question.

A recent senseless shooting, as if they all are not, points to the ease with which guns fall into the hands of those who intend harm. A young Chicago area teen who had participated in a campaign to end the violence, was shot in the back by a stray bullet in his neighborhood. The bullet was apparently intended for someone else who could have also been killed or injured. This young boy will never be the same. Nor will his family and friends. He was trying to stop the very thing that happened to him from happening. From the article with a quote from the shot boy- Zarriel Trotter:

In a 2015 public service announcement, Trotter spoke out against gun violence.

“I don’t want to live in my community where I have to keep on hearing of people getting shot and people getting killed,” Trotter said in the video.

Good grief.

Why are so many bullets flying in some of our communities? Where are the guns and bullets coming from?

For one thing, all guns start out as legal purchases. Guns go from manufacturers to licensed gun dealers where they are sold with background checks. Private sellers get their gun collections (hopefully) by undergoing background checks at a federally licensed firearms dealer and then often sell them to people who are not required to undergo a background check in most states. It’s easy. Just like that a transaction is made with no background check and the seller has no idea to whom he/she is selling a deadly weapon.

For some reason, the gun rights extremists love to claim that this does not happen. But in most states, in fact, it does. In Illinois, since I brought it up earlier, all gun sales require background checks or verification of a Firearms Owner Identification card at gun shows-even private sellers. So then, where are the guns coming from that are used in the many shootings in Chicago neighborhoods? Presumably the shooters and those committing crimes are not law abiding gun owners?

Gun trafficking from states with looser gun laws, is, of course, the undeniable answer to the question. This great article from The Trace shows the map of recovered crime guns and from where they enter the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. A small number even come from my state of Minnesota. Apart from private no background check sales, straw purchasing and allowing illegal sales also provides guns to our streets. So “bad apple” gun shops like Chuck’s Gun Shop and Pistol Range in Riverdale outside of Chicago provide many of the crime guns used to kill innocent people inside the city of Chicago. A small number of gun shops like Chuck’s in states all over our country, knowingly allow straw purchasing or other bad practices that provide guns to those who shouldn’t have them. From the article:

The suit claims that the stores are not forced to be vigilant about sales to minors and to straw purchasers—those who buy guns for others who aren’t allowed to. The stores are immune from lawsuits for the results of their gun sales thanks to a law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, pushed through Congress in October 2005 at the behest of the gun industry. So the plaintiffs are going after the cities where the stores are located to force them to institute common sense rules to prevent improper gun sales. In Illinois, municipal governments, not the state, are responsible for making such laws.

But something can be done about this. So why not? If the gun lobby is correct that criminals can always get guns, why would they object to common sense measures to make sure they don’t get them?  Here are the measures demanded in the above mentioned law suit against the bad apple gun dealers:

The suit suggests several changes in the cities’ gun ordinances. As outlined by the Tribune, they are:

–Mandating background checks for all gun store employees;

–Deterring theft through adequate surveillance and exterior lighting;

–Training managers and employees to identify signs of straw purchasing;

–Requiring dealers to maintain an alphabetical log of all gun sales where the gun was later recovered at a crime;

–Requiring mandatory inspections of a store’s inventory to help detect theft and trafficking of guns, and;

–Requiring video cameras to record the point of sale to discourage buyers who may use false identification.

But in a depressing admission to reality, here is a quote from the article: “The suit will be a tough one to win, according to George Mocsary, a law professor at Southern Illinois University who specializes in firearms law. He told the Tribune that for a civil rights claim to work, there generally has to be an intent to harm a particular individual or community, such as African-Americans.  “I suspect that it will be dismissed,” he said.”

Sigh.

Further, the gun lobby has made sure that the ATF- the agency responsible for monitoring and regulating licensed dealers, is vastly understaffed and underfunded. Why? Good question for which I don’t have an answer. From the article:

“If you want an agency to be small and ineffective at what it does, the ATF is really the model,” says Robert J. Spitzer, author of The Politics of Gun Control. Spitzer, a political science professor at the State University of New York College at Cortland, says the ATF’s critics, in particular the National Rifle Association (NRA), have been “extremely successful at demonizing, belittling and hemming in the ATF as a government regulatory agency.” The result, he says, is an agency with insufficient staff and resources, whose agents are “hamstrung” by laws and rules that make it difficult or impossible to fulfill their mission.

So we have an agency that could make this better but thanks to the ever deceptive gun lobby, they are “hamstrung” in their job. Lives are being lost every day thanks in part to these ludicrous efforts to actually stop us from preventing gun deaths and injuries.

The sad reality is that young people in communities of color in large urban cities are affected by gun violence in greater numbers than their counterparts. This is not OK. We know that gun violence can strike anyone of any race, age, or socioeconomic level. Domestic violence, suicides and homicides occur everywhere. But we also know that we must address the availability of guns in affected communities if we are to be serious about saving at least some lives. In my state of Minnesota, young children of color have been killed by stray bullets flying around in their neighborhoods, leaving families to mourn the lost potential of their children.

One June night of 2012, Terrell Mayes, Jr., 3 years old, of Minneapolis, was hit by a bullet that came through the siding of his home. He died. From the article:

“You keep ’em in, you keep ’em in, but yet and still that bullet, that devil, came right through the wall and took my baby,” said Marsha Mayes,…..”

Babies dying from bullets…..

This article suggests that gunfire is common in the neighborhood where 3 year old Terrell was shot and killed. Are we at war? Gunshots should not be common in any of our communities. Is there any explanation at all for how an 11 year old girl can be shot and killed by a stray bullet while she is sitting in her home doing her homework as happened to Tyesha Edwards of St. Paul in 2002?

There is no explanation for this kind of senseless violence. Even passing stronger gun laws will not change some of this. We don’t have throw- away lives. Our children are our future. We must protect them from violent and avoidable deaths.

A gun culture that has been formed over many years’ time and with the help of a corporate gun lobby that wields too much money and influence will be difficult to change. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It’s past time for far too many. But lives can be saved with common sense and resolve. No one should be afraid to challenge the false notions that we shouldn’t do anything about our national public health epidemic because it won’t work. If that were the case, we wouldn’t try to solve any of our public health and safety problems. Life would be a free for all with no laws or rules for anything. People would be dying from all kinds of preventable diseases and accidents. That is not who we are as Americans.

It’s a ridiculous deception that nothing can change because of the second amendment. The second amendment to our Constitution was written before 90 Americans a day died from gunshot injuries due to homicides, suicides and “accidental” discharges or shootings. It was written before the common sale of semi-automatic assault type guns to average citizens. It was written before there were 300 million plus guns in the hands of Americans. It was written before regular mass shootings in our schools and public places. It was written before some of our leaders decided it was a good idea for just anyone to be able to buy guns without making sure they are people who should be prohibited from having a gun. It was written before the “wisdom” of the corporate gun lobby pushed our state legislators to pass laws to allow people to carry loaded guns around into every nook and cranny of our communities. You get the picture.

We’ve had #Enough of this. Communities and organizations working together can change the conversation and change the culture about guns and gun violence. As long as guns and bullets are so available and seen as “necessary” in some communities, our children will be at risk. Perhaps when children and teens see adults getting serious about addressing the violence epidemic, they will model what they see. For
every gun in the hands of a child or teen must first come through the hands of an adult.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Stand up and demand change.
  • Join an organization working for change.
  • Talk about the risk of guns in the home.
  • ASK if there are guns where your children or teens hang out.
  • Store your guns safely away from children and teens and to keep them from being stolen.
  • Talk to your friends during difficult domestic issues to make sure guns are not readily available.
  • Tell your legislators and Congress members that you expect them to support legislation to require background checks on all gun sales.
  • Support other legislation to make sure guns are not easily accessible to domestic abusers, felons, those adjudicated mentally ill, gang members, and others who should not have guns.

 

Together we can do this.

 

UPDATE:

Of course, it was a holiday week-end but one wouldn’t anticipate that 5 people were shot in Minneapolis over the holiday. It’s true. And some truly stunning facts:

The shooting comes as gun-related violence has risen in Minneapolis — much like in other Midwestern cities, such as Cleveland and Chicago.

Fifty-four people have been shot in Minneapolis through March 21, the last day for which police data were available, an 86 percent increase over the same period last year. In north Minneapolis alone, 43 people were injured in shootings, compared with 15 last year, police records show.

Meanwhile, the city is also coping with a rise in violent crime, which has jumped 5.3 percent compared to this time last year. In downtown, serious crimes like aggravated assaults and rapes have increased 21 percent, while the Second and Third police precincts have seen a sharp rise in the number of robberies, records show.

Bullets flew in Minneapolis last week-end. One dead and 4 injured. It’s time for that to stop.

Trump vs. violence

violent manCan we talk more about Donald Trump, guns and violence? Trump has already predicted riots if he does not become the Republican nominee this summer. The last time I checked, America is not a country where elections are decided by violence. This bravado and threatening rhetoric is dangerous and I am not the only one who has noticed. Republicans themselves are speaking out against the way Trump is ramping up violence at rallies and at election time. No less than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken with Trump about the violent talk:

The Hill reported Monday that McConnell called on Trump to condemn the violence that has erupted when protesters attend his rallies.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Republican front-runner Donald Trump to speak out against the violence that has followed him from rally to rally around the country.

Trump has blamed supporters of Democrat Bernie Sanders for the violence.

“I mentioned to him that I thought it would be a good idea for him no matter who starts these violent episodes to condemn it,” McConnell said, according to the Hill.

Never mind. Donald Trump has not taken any responsibility for what is happening at his rallies or his own talk about riots and violence.

A right wing conservative author has threatened folks who are anti-Trump saying his “side” has guns:

On March 16, conservative author Mathew Vadum took to Twitter, and threatened MoveOn.org saying, “Note to MoveOn anti-free speech thugs: Our side has guns, tens of millions of them. Behave yourselves. #tcot.”

Hmmm. Behave yourselves. I suppose he believes that his side, the one with the guns, doesn’t have to behave themselves? So to be clear, armed Americans who make threats like this in a democratic election are threatening democracy itself. They must believe that their rights trump everything else. Be careful out there.

In this article, one of a series for the Washington Post, voters are interviewed about their support for candidates. One man revealed his views on guns and the second amendment which seem to fit with what candidate Trump is ramping up in his own remarks. From the article:

There were swells of buttons on the coats of people all around him: “Bomb the S— Out of Isis,” “Hot Chicks for Trump,” “Hillary for Prison in 2016.” Alexander’s political interests came to him late. His mother told him that all politicians were liars. He had voted once before, for Obama in 2008, but quickly grew to regret it, thinking that Obama had gone too far in seeking gun control. Opposing gun control became Alexander’s first cause. He bought two handguns and an AR-15. He became so obsessed with Second Amendment rights that at one point he drew up a banner and stood on a Highway 20 overpass with it: IMPEACH OBAMA. Then he started listening to his boss and mentor, Rep. Rod Blum, a local congressman, who told him he had to become more reasoned in his political actions.

Reasoned? Do you think? Is this who we are as a nation? I ran across this article that suggests that it is:

I do not mean to suggest that the depiction of violence should not exist in dramas high and low. Violence is an unfortunate fact of life nearly everywhere—but in America it is virtually worshipped. Many of our highest-grossing movies drip with blood. And let’s not even get started on the video games.

Donald Trump, showman that he is, instinctually knows all this. It is a fact inescapable to anyone who watches television ratings as closely as does the likely Republican standard-bearer. (…) With the Trump candidacy, violence is not merely the outcome of a toxic campaign; it’s the show, it’s the game. A feature, not a bug. And a savvy, cynical calculation of the kind of show that turns America on.

Wow. What kind of country are we or do we want to be? We do know that America leads the world in gun deaths per capita and also with the most guns per capita. That should not be something of which to be proud. A minority of Americans subscribe to the views of the corporate gun lobby and manage to grab the headlines to strike fear into the hearts and minds of those who believe them. And some elected leaders not only back away from this powerful lobby but they, themselves, espouse these same views. Over the past 30 years or so, rather than doing the common sense thing to prevent at least some of the lives taken by firearms, we have managed to loosen the laws and change the culture so that now people are carrying loaded guns around in public places and able to stand their ground when they shoot someone perceived to be a danger. We have a violent culture.

Everything we do seems to go back to those inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.… er uh…. God given right to bear arms. Those rights are touted to stop any number of reasonable things in our country. No matter what, the gun lobby gets its’ nose under the tent. Now it’s Supreme Court nominees. Apparently President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia is a gun grabber. Of course. Let’s look at this article from The Trace:

But until very recently, the kind of broadside attack the group launched on Wednesday against Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court, simply wouldn’t have happened. That’s because the NRA respected the longstanding tradition that allowed Senators to “advise and consent” on judicial picks without fear of retribution.

There was also this fact: Judges can be particularly difficult to assess, because some never even hear a major gun case, or their involvement in such cases hardly illuminates their judicial opinion on the scope of the Second Amendment.  (…)

Now the NRA says Garland, Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia, does not “respect the individual right to bear arms.” In 2007, Garland, who is viewed as a political moderate, cast a vote in favor of allowing his court to review a crucial opinion by a three-judge panel that had found D.C.’s handgun ban unconstitutional.

Once again, the NRA appears to have overreached. Most legal experts say Garland was not explicitly suggesting he disagreed with the decision to overturn the ban, but rather acknowledging that it broke with longstanding judicial precedent, and therefore merited greater scrutiny.

If Merrick ever appears before the U.S. Senate — itself a question very much in doubt — his record on guns is sure to be at the center of the proceedings. The question is: Which narrative will take hold?

If you do anything that smacks of common sense in the interest of public health and safety the “gun grabber” label is attached and, unfortunately for us, it seems to stick. We must be better than this.

And so, guns and violence are a part of our election talk for 2016. In response to Donald Trump’s statement that he could shoot people on 5th Avenue and still not lose voters, supporters of the Brady Campaign held a protest outside of Trump Tower in New York City.:

Similar to his Republican competitors, Trump touts his support for the Second Amendment and promises to veto President Obama’s recent executive actions on gun control, if he is elected into office on November 8. Among his gun beliefs, Trump thinks arming more Americans with firearms could prevent mass shootings. He is a proud member of the National Rifle Association and publicly has said he owns both a gun and a concealed-carry permit. At the October 28 GOP debate, the billionaire said he carries a gun in New York “sometimes a lot” to be “unpredictable.”

“Trump’s rhetoric and positions on gun violence prevention are deeply troubling,” said Brady Campaign President Dan Gross. “They’re dangerous, misinformed and vile to their core.” The Brady Campaign, which works to expand federal background checks to all firearms sales, has endorsed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for president.

It’s true. 90 Americans a day die from firearms injuries. That is what Donald Trump should be concerned about.  More from one of the protesters:

Coney Cinco, of Brooklyn, says she hadn’t demonstrated prior to Wednesday, but joined to help spread the Brady Campaign’s message.

“Thinking he can shoot anybody without repercussions, it’s scary. That could be me he shoots at,” she says.

Robin Frank, of New York City, also participated and says “enough is enough.” “The violent rhetoric of his campaign is abhorrent. We can’t have a man running for president who speaks so glibly about shooting people in the street,” she says. “I’m just sick of hearing all of the violent rhetoric from his campaign. It’s frightening.”

Frightening indeed.

I am adding to this post to include some photos of the protest/”die-in” in front of Trump Towers courtesy of (and with permission of) photographer Joe Quint:

Brady protest

die-in

This is what should be frightening.

On Tuesday night, after the Illinois polls closed a thunder storm hit Chicago. Lightning struck the Trump Tower building. Poetic justice?  One is more likely to be shot than be hit by lightning. 

#Enough #EnoughTrump

Guns kill babies

babyThere’s a lot to cry about these days. I know I have shed a few tears over the dead bodies piling up on American soil- dead from gunshot injuries. I can feel the grief and pain of their families as they try to cope with the sudden and violent death of a loved one. I’ve been there. I’ve cried my own tears over my sister’s gun death.

As you would expect, the controversy over abortion and a woman’s right to choose have been much in the news after a man shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Some are blaming the victims or Planned Parenthood itself for the shooting. Some are saying that if only people inside had been armed, this would not have happened.

Ludicrous.

They must have conveniently forgotten that one of the victims was an armed officer.

None other than Presidential candidate Donald Trump opined at a rally that these shootings would not have happened if the people inside had been armed.

Ludicrous.

But back to babies, I recently read this article. There are hardly words for this “accidental” shooting:

Police say Saturday afternoon, three adults, along with Nathaniel Hitt, were in the living room of the apartment: Bartle, Selena Hitt, and another man described by police as a family friend who was visiting.

The accidental shooting happened after Bartle, who is not Nathaniel’s father, cleaned his 12-gauge shotgun in the living room, loaded the weapon and installed an accessory grip on the shotgun, police said. Bartle, allegedly had the shotgun on his lap with the muzzle pointed in the direction of the child, then attempted to stand while still holding the gun, police said. The shotgun fired, and a round of ammunition struck the child in the upper body area, police said.

“The whole thing that gets me…is why would he reload it (the shotgun) in the house,” Muntz said.

“Why wouldn’t my daughter say something?”

There are no answers for this heinous lapse of judgement and irresponsibility with guns. The thing is, the gun lobby can say what they want about “law abiding” gun owners being responsible. But in order to sell more guns, they encourage just about anyone to purchase them with no idea how to really use them or be responsible with them. Thus, these are the news headlines over and over and over again.

Insanity.

Can we talk about how to be responsible for the lives of actual babies after they are born? Did you know that one toddler a week is dying from gunshot injuries? Why is this not as shocking as those who scream about abortion killing fetuses who are not yet born?

For example, as this writer points out, certain models of baby cribs have been banned because a few children have died as a result of their design. We don’t want products that kill babies. Banning them is a good idea. And so this writer wonders why we don’t ban guns. Perish the thought!!! Us gun banners can’t utter that word because…rights.

But let’s look at what this writer has to say:

We know this intuitively, since we’ve had to add numerous amendments to make up for their failures, lack, or just plain ignorance. But if we can add, we can also take away, by interpreting the Second Amendment differently or passing a new amendment that would effectively repeal it. We should never do so lightly, of course—taking away rights can be, and often is, a risky enterprise. But the purpose of a right should be individual and collective flourishing. A right, in other words, has as its goal the individual and common good, even if we don’t like to use such weighty moral terminology nowadays.

It’s not clear to me that gun ownership accomplishes that purpose. It seems more the case that it works against the good of all, in the havoc and murder it wreaks but also in the fear that in promotes. At the very least, we should have a discussion about the relationship of guns to the common good, instead of appealing like a fundamentalist to “rights” every time something happens that questions their value.

(…) A crib or, perhaps, a car, may kill under certain circumstances, but that’s not what a crib or a car is for. When death does result from their use, we assume that they have, in some way, been misused. At the very least, they have failed to fulfill their intended purpose, intentionally or not. Not so with a gun. The whole point of a gun is to injure or kill. Guns can certainly be used in other ways and for other reasons, such as sport, but these are secondary to its primary function. When a gun is used to injure or kill, it’s being used as intended. It’s the gun that’s at issue, because of the type of object that it is.

This person is speaking my language and speaks for the majority of us when he says this:

No “responsible” gun owner ever thinks he’ll ever misuse his gun—until he does something stupid, gets angry in the wrong place at the wrong time, leaves it unattended with children around, or simply snaps. Perhaps that doesn’t happen most of the time, but it happens frequently enough to raise questions, even though we usually don’t.

First of all, guns are the only product not regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Thanks corporate gun lobby.

Secondly, did I ever think my mild mannered and sort of quirky brother-in-law would “snap” and kill my sister during a contentious divorce? No. I am betting he didn’t think he would either. He might even have surprised himself but then tried to make up reasons why he just had to shoot her.

He had access to guns.

That’s what happens folks. Just because it has not happened to you doesn’t mean it won’t.

And speaking of irresponsible gun owners, you really need to check out this Christmas card from Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore showing her family armed and ready for the holidays. Nothing says Christmas joy like a 5 year old bearing a Walther P22. I can only hope that that 5 year old will be responsible with his gun in the new year.

Even scarier is that Ms. Fiore is running for Congress and has published an assault weapon calendar to make sure voters understand her adherence to the corporate gun lobby. She is exactly who we don’t want to elect to Congress. If there is any common sense for Nevada voters, they will soundly reject her.

Where is common sense? Totally lacking for many gun owners and therein lies our love affair with guns as I wrote about yesterday. But we aren’t having it. For the first time since 1920, the New York times published an editorial about the failure of our Congress to stand up to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby. It is a powerful testament to what the majority of Americans are now feeling. It is a moral outrage at the least.

Thank you New York Times. We are not helpless to stop this insidious epidemic that is killing our children and families. The Onion got to the root of the problem in their satire about helpless America not being able to do anything about our gun violence problem:

There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep these individuals from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past six and a half years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

We are not helpless. We can pass a law requiring Brady background checks on all gun sales. We can stop terrorists from being able to legally buy guns. But we don’t.

Babies don’t have to die from gunshot injuries. Toddlers shouldn’t have access to guns. Terrorists shouldn’t have access to guns. Domestic abusers, felons, those who are dangerously mentally ill shouldn’t have access to guns.

We are better than this.

“Celebrating” our unique American gun culture

Today we celebrate Independence Day. And since I write about guns and gun violence, I am suggesting that we could also celebrate saving lives through common sense gun measures that won’t take away the freedom to lawfully own a gun. This freedom should be extended to those who are responsible and can prove they can be safe with their guns. And we can do this, much like other advanced countries have done. The fact that we haven’t is unique to America- and not in a good way. Reasonable people can put their heads together to reduce the daily carnage due to reckless and irresponsible gun use and ownership. So on this national holiday, consider common sense and common ground.

I have included a meme in this post with some “language” but it gets to a point that needs to be made.

The image at the end of this post been posted on social media sites. The language is not mine. It is a quote from gun owner and author Stephen King who supports common sense gun measures and is not afraid to say so. His quotes get to the inanity of our gun culture:

“How paranoid do you want to be? How many guns does it take to make you feel safe? And how do you simultaneously keep them loaded and close at hand, but still out of reach of your inquisitive children or grandchildren? Are you sure you wouldn’t do better with a really good burglar alarm? It’s true you have to remember to set the darn thing before you go to bed, but think of this — if you happened to mistake your wife or live-in partner for a crazed drug addict, you couldn’t shoot her with a burglar alarm.”

Inanity with guns kills people. Some days you could almost laugh if you didn’t cry about the stupidity of some people with their guns. For example, in what possible way could a loaded gun be in any way similar to a cup of coffee? Check out what this Florida man said when arrested for carrying his loaded gun around at Daytona Beach:

Ray was charged with misdemeanor open carrying of weapons, the arrest affidavit said.

Ray also did not have a concealed weapons permit, police said. The weapon had a 30-round magazine with a round in the chamber, police said.

Police said Ray was trying to “push the envelope as to what is lawful under Florida law, and to gain a reaction from the public and law enforcement.”

Ray said he was not trying to hurt anyone and is a big proponent of Second Amendment rights.

He said if guns were everywhere, people would be more comfortable being around them.
“It’s like a cup of coffee,” he said. “People are not afraid of a cup of coffee. They know what it is. It’s everywhere. If guns were everywhere criminals will think twice about taking people’s lives.”

When a patron at the Burger King on North Atlantic Avenue asked Ray why he was carrying the gun, he replied that it was “to guard against all the crazies out there,” records show.

Just when you thought you’d heard everything. I guess the gun lobby has succeeded in so dumbing down the arguments about gun owning and carrying that even this seems to make sense to some. I don’t have to get into why a loaded gun with a 30 round magazine carried on one’s person is different from carrying a cup of coffee around do I? But this craziness is what gives some of the gun extremists their excuse for what they are doing. There is no excuse. Anyone with common sense understands that the average American is just not going to get used to people carrying assault rifles around where they live, play, work, learn, shop and worship. Why? Because in the real world, there are people carrying these things into the places where we are with our families who have shot and killed people. I don’t know about you but if I see someone carrying a cup of coffee around, I know for sure I won’t be killed by that person with the coffee in his/her hands. It is simply not normal for people to be carrying loaded assault rifles around in public.

This July 4th holiday there are warnings out about possible ISIS attacks in America. Why wouldn’t a member of a terrorist or hate group also walk around on our streets with a loaded assault rifle in public places with evil intent? How will we know the difference?  We also have our own “home grown” terrorists ready to commit heinous acts and hate crimes. Our country just experienced one of the most awful hate crimes in recent history in Charleston, South Carolina. It was one young man, loaded with hate, intolerance, racism and anger and also a loaded gun.

For more American gun inanity check out the comments made by House Speaker John Boehner after the House voted to block any funding for the CDC to do research into the causes and effects of gun violence:

Listen, the CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect the public health. I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. And guns don’t kill people; people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual, not blame the action on some weapon. Listen, there are hundreds of millions of weapons in America. They’re there. And they’re going to be there. They’re protected under the Second Amendment. But people who use weapons in an inappropriate or illegal way ought to be dealt with severely.

“I’m sorry but a gun is not a disease….” Really? Can we dumb down the conversation any more than this? You can almost see the strings attached to Boehner’s arms with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre behind the curtain moving Boehner’s mouth. This is so ridiculous as to be unbelievable. But this is the unique American gun culture that we celebrate along with other American “freedoms” and ways of like.

A gun is not a disease. It’s also not a cup of coffee. Or a spoon.

But the mayhem and tragedy caused by people with guns is surely a disease in America. It is a public health epidemic that we are ignoring at our peril. What we can’t do is let elected officials get away with their nonsensical statements about guns and gun violence that belie the facts. And we can’t let people who are carrying loaded assault rifles around in public get away with their swaggering attempts to “normalize” what they are doing. They are a distinct minority who have been led to believe that they have a right to do this because… second amendment. This nonsensical reasoning is an insane interpretation of the amendment and does a disservice to the founding fathers who wrote our Constitution.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, whose confirmation to become our Surgeon General was held up by the gun lobby because he dared to state the obvious- that gun violence is a public health issue, said it again at a recent conference:

“I said that gun violence is a public health issue, and I’ll say it again today.”

Dr. Murthy is right. He is about changing the conversation in American. Gun violence and the toll it takes on our communities is very real. It’s not going away but we can at the least try to reduce and prevent some of it. Not to do so is unpatriotic.

The thing is,we can have a gun culture and we can have guns. We have more of them than any other advanced country not at war. But we can also have common sense when it comes to regulating guns and their owners. Most gun owners are safe and use their guns for recreation and sport. But enough of them are not that we owe it to our American values to prevent them from shooting their own family members, or black people in a church, or movie goers, or young school children, or people who practice a different religion, or college students or people shopping in malls, or themselves….. And that would also be an American thing to do.

This week-end we will be celebrating our country’s independence. It’s obvious that freedom and liberty mean different things to different people. I think we can all agree though that none of us want to be shot. Passing sensible legislation to keep guns away from people who should’t have them does nothing to take away the freedoms of those who do not have bad intent. But when the conversation is dumbed down and the research is blocked so that we can’t, as a country, deal with our public health epidemic of shootings, that takes away the ability to be free from devastating gun violence.

Let’s get this straight. The NRA/corporate gun lobby has foisted a huge deception on Americans and most especially on our elected leaders. Please read this Washington Post article about the difference between what they say and what is actually happening in the real world of gun violence.It was written by a woman who took an NRA self defense class:

The NRA’s approach to personal safety assumes crime can be prevented by ever-present fear. The instruction suggests that threats are everywhere beyond our front door, making the advice impractical for anyone interested in leaving her home. Rather than refusing to be a victim, the seminar can make one feel as though they’re always a victim.

An entire section of the course manual is devoted to telling people never to open their home’s doors to strangers, even a UPS driver who needs a signature. And yet, a subsequent chapter advises people who are being followed to “go to the nearest lighted building or home for help.” What if the nearest home is occupied by a person who follows NRA advice and doesn’t open the door for strangers? We were advised to have a hotel employee accompany us to our rooms, yet beware of someone who may be posing as a hotel employee as a ploy to gain access to our rooms. (…)

The impracticality of the NRA’s advice aside, its rules aren’t an effective way of preventing most interpersonal crime. The course suggests that, to avoid becoming a victim, you should fear strangers. But most violent crimes are committed by a relative, friend or acquaintance of the victim. Every piece of safety advice the NRA gave would be relevant only if the assailant was a stranger, and yet nearly two out of three violent crimes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.

Further, what epidemic of violence in public restrooms and hotel rooms justifies always employing a buddy system? Certainly, you can find news stories about crimes committed in these places, but generally, crime statistics show that public areas are safe. Just 12 percent of violent crimes are committed in commercial areas – including bars, gas stations and banks – and just 0.1 percent occur in hotel or motel rooms, according to federal data. Meanwhile, 43 percent of violent crime occurs in or near a familiar private residence, whether your own, a friend’s or a relative’s.

The gun lobby is purposely hiding the facts or blocking ways to find them. I know for a fact that the gun violence that affected my family was committed in a home and committed by someone who knew and once loved my sister who was also a “law abiding” gun owner until suddenly he wasn’t. Should my sister have been more afraid of all of those monsters, zombies, felons or whoever is lurking in public bathrooms and hotel corridors than she was of her estranged husband?

Mike the Gun Guy also takes issue with the NRA’s notion of gun safety. He wonders about the ASK campaign and the BeSmart program, both programs encouraging safe storage of guns. The reason? The NRA’s safety program wants people to have their loaded guns at the ready at all times. This just does not work when locking guns securely away from kids and teens. It’s a unique American conundrum but one that does not have to totally befuddle us and stop us from acting in the interest of public health and safety like virtually all other countries have done.

What is the answer here? More guns are not making us safer. The gun lobby promotes more guns and in many cases, more loaded guns around wherever gun owners determine there is fear for their personal safety (everywhere).

Where is the common ground? Clearly the conversation has to change in order to change our unique gun culture. On this July 4th holiday, let’s think about how that can happen.

The incidents below are incidents involving “law abiding” gun owners. In no other country would these incidents be allowed or the people involved in them to have guns in the first place.

A 90 year old Florida man was arrested for threatening someone with his gun. He was a “legal” gun permit holder who did not have his right to carry taken from him 5 years ago when he threatened someone else. He shouldn’t have had a permit or a gun. Was he in any kind of state to handle his responsibility with that gun and that permit? Luckily no one got hurt but is that the point? In America …rights trump public safety.

A Vermont firearms instructor was seriously injured when one of his students shot him. The article does not mention if he was armed at the time. The woman was adjudicated mentally ill so couldn’t legally own firearms. But she could use a gun at a gun range because no background checks are required to shoot guns at a range in Vermont. This article is the “poster child ” for all that can go wrong in our unique American culture of guns.

Or this Iowa gun owner- Didn’t we determine just recently ( and for decades before that)that the display of Confederate flags can be incendiary and racist? And when guys with guns worship that flag, it could mean all sorts of bad things. Come on. We all understand why he was doing this. The fact that our laws allow for this kind of offensive behavior should be a wake-up call to us all. But here is his excuse:

He tells Siouxland News he’s is doing this to show support for the first and second amendment.

He says he’s been walking at least once a week since 2011, mainly in Le Mars, but he has walked in Sioux City and Iowa City.

Cornish adds that all he sees in the media is negative stories and not much support for the first and second amendment, so this is a way for him to show support for the open carry law.

America is better than this. Our founding fathers did not anticipate their words being twisted to support the kind of behavior exhibited by stupid people with guns and the corporate gun lobby whose main mission has little to do with keeping America safe from senseless violence and everything to do with protecting the gun industry. From the linked article:

It is time for opponents of gun control to stop mindlessly shouting “The Second Amendment!!” as if that ends the discussion. It does not. Just as there is no First Amendment right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theatre, there is no Second Amendment right to carry an AK-47 there.

And that is only the beginning of what the Second Amendment does not guarantee.

Extreme behavior like the one in the article above, using the excuse that the second amendment gives him the right, should not be tolerated by an America dealing with the epidemic of gun violence and racism that should be of great concern to us all.

So on this Fourth of July, I urge you to think about how the world has changed since our Constitution was written and why we need to look at the enduring words written by the authors in the context of current reality.

Stay safe out there. Beware of people carrying spoons and cups of coffee. You never know what might happen. And don’t catch the gun disease.

Stephen King quote

As if by providence, I just came across this article about the “social gun culture” in America showing who the average gun owner is in America and where the guns are found for the most part. This researcher is thinking as I am:

Kalesan’s study defined “social gun culture” as a phenomenon in which friends or family would think less of you if you didn’t own a gun, and if your social life with friends and family involved guns. Any survey participant who answered “yes” to any of these statements was categorized as being part of social gun culture.

Figuring out the dynamics at play in social gun culture, according to Kalesan, will be key to sparking social change about the attitudes and practices that inform gun ownership in the first place. She said educating Americans about the health dangers of having a firearm in their homes will change the way people feel about gun ownership, which in turn could drive laws that make guns more difficult to obtain.

“A public health approach, much like the anti-tobacco effort, is necessary, first to facilitate a social change and then political will to form effective policies,” Kalesan told HuffPost. “We also need research to understand the public health consequences in different communities and to identify effective social interventions in different populations.”

And the bottom line for the writer of the article is this:

“In 2013 alone, 33,636 persons were killed using a gun, while 84,258 were shot non-fatally,” said Kalesan. “Those who are injured have a difficult journey during recovery, some remaining paraplegic and injured often with PTSD for the rest of their lives.”

Nothing more needs to be said.