Are there stray bullets?

I have been thinking about all of the shootings since I last wrote and shooting anniversaries ( 5 victims remembered one year after the Annapolis Capital Gazette newspaper office). We have a mass shooting every day in America and could be doing a memorial every day as well. This is the sad state of gun violence in America in the week leading up to our nation’s July 4th celebration.

Is there such a thing as a stray bullet? Every bullet shot out of a firearm finds a place to land. Most often they land in the bodies of innocent humans going about their everyday business. Take, for example, the headline of an article in today’s Duluth News Tribune- “Drive-by shooting in St. Paul injures 5“:

The shootings in the Payne-Phalen area happened about two hours after a man was killed in a shooting, also on the city’s East Side, but Sgt. Mike Ernster said police don’t believe the cases are related.

Officers responded to a two-story house at 909 Desoto Street about 10:30 p.m. on a report of shots fired and found four people injured.

Note that there was a shooting homicide a few hours earlier. No doubt we will learn more about this shooting of 5. No matter who they were or what the circumstances, we know that bullets are flying in our neighborhoods and homes, injuring or killing about 100 a day.

These are daily headlines all over America. They are commonplace enough that most people just shrug and move on. In another country, people would be outraged about it and do something about it or have already done something about it so these are not headlines in their media outlets.

We are an America in love with our guns. Other countries have hunters and recreational shooters but do not own handguns for protection. Other countries also do not have a second amendment or powerful and influential gun lobby making the rules for gun ownership. That could change in America because the once powerful gun lobby has been exposed for the corrupt organization it is and is having so many financial difficulties that there hateful and fear mongering NRATV has been canceled. Dana Loesch’s voice will be silenced for the moment and her terrible screeds against those of us who want common sense gun laws and a gun culture that includes gun safety reform will not be heard by the gun rights extremists.

Her lies and deceptions have been influencing the far right for several years and fomenting the people with guns who are waiting for their insurrection moment. From the Media Matters article above:

The morning after the first Democratic primary debate, Loesch took to Fox & Friends to criticize Democratic presidential candidates’ positions on gun violence prevention. Loesch claimed the candidates hide their “confiscation” plans by calling them “mandatory buybacks.” 

The former NRA spokesperson went on to baselessly claim a new Gallup poll shows “there are more people who think that 9/11 was an inside job” and “more people believe the moon landing was fake than actually want gun control.” 

Fake news. Some people can be controlled by lack of understanding and education about issues. Facts actually do matter. Basing policy and public opinion on false information and lies is dangerous to our country. We have a President who lies with almost every word that comes out of his mouth. So to attribute lies about guns and gun safety reform to those who were telling the truth in the Democratic primaries is the height of hypocrisy. So far it has worked for a certain segment of the population who also call themselves patriots.

Do guns = patriotism? No, is the answer. But on July 4th and other holidays like New Years Eve, some people believe they can do whatever they want with their guns and fire them into the air in celebration. They forgot or never thought of the fact that bullets don’t know where to stop until they hit something. Celebratory gunfire takes the lives or injures innocent people every year when stray bullets go up and then, as is inevitable, come back down. My friend Joe Jaskolka, is one of the innocent victims of such a stray bullet.

Joe’s life and those of his loved ones and friends were forever changed by a stray bullet.

Another stray bullet found its’ way into the body of a Minnesota motorcyclist just traveling innocently and trying to enjoy his ride. A reckless and irresponsible gun owner was target shooting nearby not thinking that bullets actually fly around in the area:

Good advice. The funny thing about this statement ( not funny really) is that too often shooters are sure of their targets which is why so many Americans have died from bullets. And the other bit of hypocrisy is that even people who are trained to use weapons such as law enforcement officers and military members frequently miss their intended targets.

And we want teachers to have guns in schools to protect our children? Do we want this teacher to carry her gun in her classroom after pulling it out to threaten someone who got in front of her at a McDonald’s drive through line? I think not.

Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill. They should not be owned, stored or carried cavalierly as they too often are.

We are at our cabin for the week of July 4th. We have heard someone target shooting across the lake and not too far from the road that goes past our lake. We think it is the sound of a shotgun which would be less dangerous to others. But it isn’t even close to hunting season so why be shooting now? But then we do hear the sound of a rifle which means there are bullets flying around that could actually hit someone else. And yes, people have a right to shoot off guns in rural areas on property they own or at gun ranges, But if they are not careful, innocent people could be their targets.

Speaking of innocent victims there have been a number of “accidental” shootings of children by children. Two children were injured in Texas when another got access to a shotgun and shot it, as children will do. Yes, even shotguns need to be stored safely away from ammunition. Or this grandmother whose purse was the “holster” for a concealed carried gun:

Kayden Stuber was staying with his grandmother and aunt while his parents were at work, and according to local authorities, the child went into his grandma’s purse — which was sitting on the bed — and “in some way retrieved, was handling the gun when it discharged,” Greenville County Coroner Kent Dill says. Deputies and emergency responders rushed to the scene, but Kayden was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital.

An innocent two year old is dead and the entire family is traumatized. The ripple effect of gun violence is real.

These are American tragedies and not only senseless but avoidable.

The thing is, there are far too many irresponsible gun owners who have been convinced that owning a gun for self defense and maybe carrying one around for protection is a good idea. There is no training required when one purchases a gun for any reason. There should be.

And some states have loosened concealed carry laws to the point where no permits or training are required and want a national law that would recognize the permits from any other state regardless of the regulations.

So far the law has failed to pass. How can any politician even think this is a good idea? Simple- they are lapdogs for the corporate gun lobby.

Our politicians are not thinking through the facts and one fact should trump all others. Passing stronger gun laws is patriotic and will result in a safer America. Stronger gun laws will not infringe on our constitution or gun rights. It will make them stronger as well.

Back to my original thesis- there really are no stray bullets. There are bullets intended for someone else. There are bullets intended for someone loved or known by the shooter. There are bullets that are not locked away from children, suicidal adults, felons, burglars, domestic abusers, terrorists and others who should not have them. There are bullets shot by irresponsible gun owners who think it’s fun to target shoot or shoot into the air without bothering to think about the consequences and where the bullets might land.

Have a safe and happy July 4th however you celebrate. If your celebration includes guns, please use them safely and think about your surroundings. And for goodness sake, don’t let children use those guns or find them lying around loaded. Safe storage of guns saves lives. It keeps small hands from accessing them. It keeps people who are suicidal from accessing them. It keeps people who could be a danger to themselves or others from accessing them.

Being a patriot also means caring enough about our country to care about the safety of its’ families and communities. Being free from shootings is being a free country where we all feel safe in our communities.

Pearls and guns

Earlier this week, a group of New Hampshire legislators donned their pearls to mock gun violence prevention advocates. Yes, it’s true. A bunch of men did this thinking they were so clever. Other words come to mind but misogyny is at the top of the list. Because gun violence prevention groups have many women leading the charge, some gun rights advocates have decided that women can be intimidated and mocked with no repercussions. That’s the way it is.

Here is the article with photos of the men who wore their pearls:

Images from the statehouse — where legislators were considering arguments over a bill that would make it easier to take guns away from potentially dangerous people — caromed across social media as critics lobbed accusations of sexism and insensitivity at the necklace-wearing men.
The implication was clear, they said: These politicians thought gun-control activists were “clutching their pearls” in overwrought and self-righteous outrage — and, specifically, female outrage.
The advocates, who were volunteers with the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said they felt mocked, as if some of the lawmakers were not interested in hearing how gun violence has affected their lives.

I wonder if any of those men have been affected by gun violence? I wonder if they had been, would they have still worn those pearls? The fact is, I have never worn pearls while advocating for common sense gun legislation or lobbying or visiting with Congress members or legislators or speaking at a meeting or holding a vigil. I have never seen any other woman do so either. But I have seen many men come dressed with armed pistols in holsters at hearings.

But then this was uttered in defense of the pearl wearing ( from the article):

Online, members of the Women’s Defense League of New Hampshire, a pro-guns organization, have said Watts and other Moms Demand Action members have it all wrong: the pearls symbolize opposition to the bill itself and support for the Second Amendment and the Women’s Defense League — support for women, not denigration of them.
“The PEARLS are in support of the Women’s Defense League. Women who ACTUALLY PROMOTE GUN SAFETY and WOMEN’S RIGHTS,” tweeted Kimberly Morin, president of the group.

I call BS. This just can’t be believed. We all know what the wearing of the pearls was all about and it wasn’t in support of women. The very bill they proclaimed opposition to will serve to protect women from harm. It’s an Extreme Risk Protection Order bill meant to keep people who could be dangerous to themselves or others from having or purchasing guns. This includes the many women who fear for their lives from domestic abuse and partners/spouses who might kill them with a firearm. From the article:

The bill, known as a “red flag” law, would allow family members and law enforcement agencies to obtain court orders that restrict gun access for individuals who may pose an immediate risk to themselves or others. If New Hampshire adopts the legislation, it would join 14 states that have done so, many in the wake of deadly mass shootings.

You can’t make this stuff up. Pearls. Not pearls of wisdom. Pearls of wisdom and common sense tell us that too many people are dying and are injured by bullets. Here are just a few of the recent shooting incidents in America that point to exactly why we need to pass stronger gun laws and change the culture around guns and gun violence:

And those are just a few of the many more happening every day in America. at increasing frequency. If guns made us safer, why are these incidents happening?

These people, and everyone really, should check out End Family Fire to learn about the risk of loaded guns to themselves and others. If you decide to bring a gun into your home or carry it around with you, don’t you already understand those risks? It should be automatic but the gun lobby prefers to have people believe they will be invincible with their guns. Why is there no training required before walking out of a gun store or from a gun show with a deadly weapon? Or before allowing people to carry guns in public in many states?

But back to pearls, as I began this post.Pearls have a symbolism as described in this article:

Pearls symbolize wisdom acquired through experience. They are believed to attract wealth and luck as well as offer protection. Known for their calming effect, pearls can balance one’s karma, strengthen relationships, and keep children safe. The pearl is also said to symbolize the purity, generosity, integrity, and loyalty of its wearer.

I think I’ll wear my pearls more often.

#Enough

Guns dropping. Bullets flying. Kids dying. Parents and guns don’t go together.

droppingAs a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I need to write something. Armed Americans are dangerous. What is wrong with parents carrying guns around with them wherever they go or leaving guns out for kids and teens to find them? Guns in public places are proving to be quite dangerous to the health and well being of our kids and communities. And guns dropping are much more dangerous than dropping a rock on your foot. Recent news backs up my assertion.

How in the world can a mother be holding a gun or having a gun on her person while braiding her daughter’s hair? Yes, you guessed it. The gun dropped to the floor and killed the 8 year old daughter of the gun owner. This is so outrageous on so many levels and highlights the craziness of our insane gun culture. More from the article:

Marsha Lynch said she was braiding her daughter’s hair when a handgun fell to the floor and fired, striking her in the leg and then shooting her 8-year-old daughter in the head.

Sharia Lynch died from the gunshot wound before she could be airlifted to an area hospital.

“She was a precious little girl, she made everybody laugh — she was the kind of kid in class everybody loved,” said Ann Arnold, principal of Sara Ragsdale Elementary School. “Our hearts are just broke. We’ve got a lot of tears going on, of course. We’re in shock right now.”

The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether the gun belonged to Lynch or her adult son, and authorities also want to know why the .9 mm handgun fired when it was dropped.

A firearms expert said a standard safety feature should have prevented the accidental firing unless the gun had been altered to give it a shorter trigger pull.

All of our children are precious. Why expose them to loaded guns and take a chance that a bullet could kill them in their own home? They are too precious to be shot and killed in our schools and on our streets. They are too precious for this kind of careless and cavalier attitude towards guns. They are too precious for us to be ignoring stronger gun laws just because some of us are afraid of the gun lobby.

Please read this report from the Brady Campaign- The Truth about Kids and Guns if you don’t believe me. 1,700,000 children live with unlocked, loaded guns in their homes.

The corporate gun lobby and gun extremists are so intent on selling guns and making people feel afraid of their own shadows that people have been duped into believing having a gun in the home will make them safer. The facts and the actual incidents happening every day do not bear that out. Many folks who walk out of gun stores or permit to carry classes ( if they are even required) do so with absolutely no knowledge of guns or shooting or gun safety. If we want to keep our homes safe from shooting our children in stupid and dangerous “accidents” like this one, we need to mandate training classes and make sure people pass them with an A. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. Allowing just anyone to buy one or carry one around without the respect and seriousness it deserves is a national tragedy.

It was just a matter of time before our loose gun laws played out in our homes, in public places and on our streets.

And while I am on the topic of carelessness with guns, I must ask why anyone needs a gun in the doctor’s office? This Texas woman’s mother must have thought her doctor’s office would be a dangerous place when she herself was the one who caused the danger to herself and others. The gun found in the purse dropped causing a bullet to go through the wall of an office, striking a patient in the thigh.

Good grief. People sometimes get bad news from their health care providers. What they don’t need is a bullet flying around in the office. If they have a serious disease that could take their life or that of a loved one, getting hit and injured or killed by a bullet would be the height of irony. This is just plain ludicrous and an example of our gun culture gone awry.

Wouldn’t it be better to treat gun violence like the public health epidemic it is? Many reports and editorials have been written by public health providers. This latest one implores us to do something about the crisis of our kids dying from bullets in large numbers.

Gun violence is a public health issue that profoundly affects children and families. Firearm injuries are among the top three killers of kids.

As a pediatrician, I have a duty to protect children. And the data is clear: strong gun laws positively impact families and lower accidental gun deaths, homicides, and suicides in youth.

I firmly support the American Academy of Pediatrics’ stance that Congress needs to find a way forward on gun safety legislation that improves the background-check system (including the elimination of gun show loopholes), reduces gun trafficking, requires safe firearm storage, bans all high-capacity magazines, passes stronger handgun regulations, enacts a strong, effective ban on assault weapons, and supports research to generate effective approaches to prevention and healing.

If you aren’t concerned about the above incidents and what I write about here regularly, you should be. You can be part of the solution by demanding changes to our laws that make common sense. (…) 

We cannot afford to be silent on gun violence. I strongly encourage action on this issue, with appropriate legislation passed, research supported, and families able to access bolstered mental health services to heal those who are already victims of schoolyard killings, drive-by shootings, or accidental gun-related injuries in the home. Call your congresspeople. Take action to help be the change we need.

I hope that we can all agree that reducing gun violence would be good for America. Certainly, there is no simple, overnight solution. It took the better part of four decades to improve traffic safety. Let’s hope it won’t take that long to improve gun safety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is spot on. Don’t listen to what the gun lobby says about this. They are dead wrong. And I mean that metaphorically and literally. Remember that the Florida legislature passed a law penalizing health care providers for talking to parents about the risks of guns in their homes. 

Ludicrous.

Pay attention to what is going on in your state’s legislature. What happens in Florida and Texas often shows up in legislatures all over our country. The gun lobby is foaming at the mouth to loosen our gun laws to make it easier for dangerous people to get guns and to have virtually no laws about who can carry guns in public and where they can carry them. This is the virtual slippery slope towards towards lawlessness and anarchy. And that is what the corporate gun lobby seems to want.

Is this what you want? Is this the kind of country you want for your children and your families? Do you want to be sitting in your doctor’s office with armed citizens who aren’t properly trained to carry guns and know little about them? Do you want your kids to play in a home where a mother needs her gun with her at all times, including when she is braiding her daughter’s hair? Do you want a world where bullets are flying on our streets taking the lives of innocent people? Do you want a world where gangs and people who shouldn’t have guns are having wars in our streets because of easy access to guns? Do you want a country where easy access to guns is killing our kids on a daily basis in “accidents”, suicides and homicides?

If not, join a gun violence prevention group and get active. Ask your candidates what they intend to do about this shameful and ludicrous public health and safety problem. Demand that your elected officials have a position on how to prevent the shootings. Don’t let them get away with the deceptive gun lobby arguments. Challenge them to stand with the victims to make sure we are safe from the gun violence that is devastating our communities.

We are better than this.