I have lived long enough to remember The Untouchables, a book, a movie and a TV series watched by millions. The battle of Elliot Ness and the gangsters was an epic but mostly fictional account of real life. There were many shootings on the streets and in other public places like restaurants and bars by gangsters in the 1930s prohibition days. It was bloody and vicious. Men carrying guns unloaded bullets hitting intended targets and unintended targets. But it was true then that law enforcement was outgunned on the streets of some cities in America according to the above linked article. (“On the other side was law enforcement, which was outgunned (literally) and ill-prepared at this point in history to take on the surging national crime wave.”)
So far, ordinary citizens have to go through strict regulations to obtain machine guns and silencers. That is because of the 1934 National Firearms Act passed by Congress in part in response to the crime wave of the 1930s. No one wanted to see the carnage unleashed by the gangsters on the streets repeated. And make no mistake, the gun lobby is pushing for looser laws to allow people to purchase machine guns and silencers. It is the slippery slope towards more carnage on our streets. Many states, including mine, have now passed laws allowing for citizens to purchase silencers ( deceptively called suppressors by the gun lobby).
But with the changes to our gun laws to allow ordinary citizens to openly carry firearms, we should re-examine what the reality of open carry laws mean for the safety of the public. This incident in Colorado Springs is the prime example of the insanity and dangerousness of people carrying rifles and other guns openly loaded on the streets of our cities. From the article:
A man marching down the street shot and killed three people on Saturday, before being fatally shot in a gunbattle with police, authorities and witnesses said.
Officers were responding to a report of shots being fired when they spotted a suspect matching the description of the person they were trying to find, Colorado Springs police Lt. Catherine Buckley said. The suspect opened fire, and police fired back, she said.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene as the suspect went down the street with a rifle.
Matt Abshire, 21, told the Colorado Springs Gazette (http://tinyurl.com/p5xpaua) he looked outside his apartment window and saw a man shoot someone with a rifle. He said he ran to the street and followed the man and called police.
The man suddenly turned and fired more shots, hitting two women, Abshire said. Their names and conditions were not available.
It was unclear how many people were wounded in the spree.
Alisha Jaynes told KKTV-TV 11 News (http://tinyurl.com/otg2qgo ) she was at an ATM when she saw a man with a gun walking calmly down the street.
“They yelled, ‘Put the gun down,’ and he turned around, and that’s when they shot at him a good 20 times,” she said. “There was a lot of gunfire.”
In this story about the shooting, it is revealed that one of the victims was a 13 year old boy riding his bike along the street. This is insanity. Is this what was anticipated when the gun lobby got our legislators to pass laws allowing more people to carry loaded guns into more public places? America has been duped. Until we decide we have had #enough, the carnage will continue. “Normalizing” loaded openly carried guns on our streets, in our restaurants, shops and other places is the agenda of the corporate gun lobby and the gun extremists. It’s just NOT normal to be carrying a rifle around on our streets.
Most in law enforcement oppose the open carrying of guns on our public streets for obvious reasons. Florida law enforcement are now dealing with the proposed open carrying of loaded guns:
The officials shudder at the thought of guns on hips of alcohol-fueled revelers at St. Petersburg’s First Friday, spring breakers on Pinellas County beaches and partiers on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City. They worry that deputies responding to a conflict won’t know criminal from victim. They worry about children getting hold of guns and criminals stealing them.
The Tampa Bay Times contacted 21 law enforcement leaders in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties to ask their stance on a bill allowing open carry proposed for the 2016 state legislative session. Of the dozen who responded, 10 are opposed to the idea. They include the sheriffs in Pinellas and Hillsborough and police chiefs in cities from Brooksville to St. Petersburg.
“Officers have a tough enough job with the way the world is now,” said Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter. “This is just one more element of danger I’d prefer my men and women not have to deal with.”
Are you listening legislators?
We have examples of encounters between people carrying loaded rifles and guns on our streets and law enforcement. Here are just a few:
A Michigan man was reported to police to be carrying a rifle on a Kalamazoo, Michigan street apparently stumbling around and appearing intoxicated.
Texas open carriers have had many encounters with law enforcement, often belligerently baiting the officers and provoking them while filming the encounters.
More open carriers in Texas were booted from a Chili’s restaurant when they came in with their assault rifles on, scaring the customers.
Here are just a few images of these folks.
After years of ordinary citizens walking around with loaded guns openly holstered and more recently, assault type rifles hanging around the backs or chests of brazen gun carriers, it was inevitable that a “bad guy” with a gun would open fire on a street, killing innocent people. Where were the “good guys” to stop this shooting? We don’t know who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy” any more. And that, dear readers, is the trick that has been played on America. The gun lobby is going to have to take responsibility for this carnage soon enough.
Meanwhile, Mike the Gun Guy has blogged about a new website that is selling buttons about what should be done to the NRA. It’s brilliant. We are tired of being polite to the people who threaten, demean, name call, are offensive and harass us ( gun violence prevention advocates). And do remember that they are the folks with the guns. Why should we be polite any more considering the number of people killed in our country while our elected leaders turn their heads from the carnage? An armed society is not a polite society.
Get a spine. Stand up and do something. This is just plain ludicrous and insane.
Where is common sense?
We have enough evidence of our national public health and safety problem to stop some of this lunacy. Dr. Daniel Webster, a leading researcher in the area of gun violence, has written this great article based on his research. His research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is invaluable to the discussion: From the opinion piece written by Dr. Webster:
These tragic mass shootings serve as a grim but resounding bell tower chime in the nation’s public square. But when the ringing fades, the clock ticks on, if quietly. The equivalent of several mass shootings happen every day: 30 homicides and 60 suicides by guns in individual incidents that I’ll never be called to discuss and about which you’ll likely never hear.
That’s 2,700 lives every month – nearly the number lost on 9/11.
The conversations we do have about gun violence are often misleading. In the wake of tragedies like the one in Oregon, for instance, readers are given false choices and reminded that gun control is “a divisive issue” (it is not), even as gun owners who support new laws are rarely heard. The misguided debate pits the gun lobby’s hardliners against advocates for stronger gun laws and allows proponents of weak gun laws to portray background-check requirements for all gun sales as equivalent to unconstitutional government disarming of its citizenry.
The NRA and its supporters want Americans to believe that the choice is between gun ownership and, in essence, gun confiscation. This is a far-fetched framing. We require background checks for all gun sales made by licensed gun dealers, and the system has not been used to create a gun registry or to prevent any person from lawful gun ownership. In fact, federal law expressly prohibits such a registry. Baseless claims of gun confiscation inflame culture wars and stymie the discussion of effective solutions. (…)
A more informed and fruitful discussion about what the United States needs to do to substantially reduce gun violence would abandon these tired frames and take into account the fact that we already have answers to these crucial questions:
- Do our gun laws allow people with histories of violence, substance abuse and criminality to own and carry guns in public?
- Do important gaps in our laws make it easy for prohibited persons to obtain guns?
- Do policies exist that would significantly reduce gun deaths while still allowing law-abiding individuals to have guns?
The answer to each of these questions is, of course, yes.
When laws prohibit gun ownership for a wider share of people who are violent and break laws, fewer people are shot. When we close gaps in the background check system and take seriously the obligation to keep guns from dangerous people, fewer people die.
I’m not merely guessing that these things might happen. Such policy recommendations are backed up by extensive research that I and others have conducted.
We know what the problem is. Every day there is evidence and carnage. It’s past time to demand the obvious common sense solutions. We’ve had #enough. Let’s get to work.
As a post script to this post, I need to add an article about yet another shooting on a college campus leaving one dead in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. When will this end? Were these “good guys” with guns or bad guys? Why wasn’t someone with a lawful permit there to stop the shooting because surely there will be someone at the ready wherever something like this occurs, right? Maybe the shooter was a law abiding permit holder- time will tell as more information is released. This is the 2nd shooting on a North Carolina college campus in a week. North Carolina just passed a law allowing guns on college campuses and in bars and restaurants. Everyone will surely be safer.
I am not the only incensed person about the open carrier who shot 3 innocent people on the streets of Colorado Springs. This writer used much more direct and less polite language than I in expressing his total disdain for the gun nuts who promote open carrying of guns. Don’t believe the gun nuts when they tell you that it’s a good idea for people to be carrying guns on our streets. They are just plain wrong and as these stupid, dangerous and deadly incidents keep happening, they will have to answer for the bloodshed.
In Florida, a man eating at a Cracker Barrel restaurant was shot “accidentally” by a gun carrier. Looks like the investigation is over. When will those who “accidentally” shoot people in public be held accountable for injuries and being a public safety threat?
We are not safer folks.