Women’s March and the NRA

We are not safeThe Women’s March is taking on the NRA. Why? Because the NRA has been using videos to encourage their members to use violence against protesters. Seriously. In what country do we live again? If protesters aren’t safe from intimidation and violence, we are not a democracy any more. When the media is attacked by our very own President and he encourages intolerance and lies about what he calls #fakenews, we are not a democracy. Violence is not the answer in a democracy.

We already know that women are less safe when a gun is in the home. Women should not feel unsafe at home, at work, at malls, at protest marches or wherever they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. I know this from personal experience.

In fact no one is safer when a gun is present in the home.

Guns are a risk to their owners and others. They can be used in a few seconds to “solve a problem” or kill an innocent person or people with whom they disagree.

Protesters should be protected from violence and be able to participate in non-violent marches and events without fear of violence. That is the way the Women’s March on DC and other cities all across the America in January- non violent, peaceful protests to show our resistance to and our fears and concerns about our newly elected President. Women took the lead and we are not going away. Protests have erupted all over the country against the hapless and selfish agenda pushed by our President and his cronies in Congress.

And our concerns have been realized as the news of what the Trump campaign, Trump family members and maybe even the President himself did and have been doing to our country’s Democracy and the office of the Presidency. The news gets more complicated and more concerning every day.

Back to the NRA, no one is safe when one powerful interest group and industry group ramps up fear, violence, paranoia and intolerance.

Below is the NRA video in question. Let me know if you think this is OK.

The “clenched fist of truth” is all #fakenews. The ad is so over the top that there are really no words to describe it- other than alarming.

If vigilantes or one individual unhinged person acts on what the above video is suggesting, it could be tragic and deadly.

When so many guns are available and accessible to just about anyone, it would be easy for someone to act on their anger and intolerance. We can hope for common sense but that isn’t what is happening for a minority of Americans who believe in this dangerous nonsense.

So I think we can agree that this is meant to ramp up intolerance and violence towards those with whom you don’t agree. Is it also to sell more guns as is the habit of the NRA and the corporate gun lobby. In several of my past posts, I have written about the encouragement and tolerance of violence towards others coming directly from the top in the person of our very own President. As we know, the NRA has a seat at the table of our President and their agendas are linked.

But today, many are acting and protesting the NRA ad attacking protesters. The Women’s March is taking on the NRA- marching from the NRA headquarters in Virginia to the Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.

I am so proud of those people who have decided that enough is enough. The lies, innuendos, threats and dangerous rhetoric are not scaring these people.

Will these people be safe from gun violence or other forms of violence? Will the NRA harass them and follow them and film them and make another insipid and dangerous ad showing how the Women’s March is ruining America? Will they ramp up the lies some more to encourage yet more violence? The answer is YES.

Are they not ashamed? Embarrassed?

The answer would be NO.

Watch for more in the news media about this march and protest. The truth is that America has more guns and more gun deaths than any other democratized country. More guns have not and will not make us safer. Every day innocent people are killed or injured by firearms due to suicide, homicide or “accidental” shootings.

When enough Americans raise their own voices and let the elected leaders who are afraid to raise theirs know that that is not OK, maybe something will change? Or will it take another tragedy?

The corporate gun lobby and the NRA have had their way for too long. The country is waking up to the clever and disingenuous tactics used by a powerful industry and lobby group. It’s past time.

The thing is, we have had those tragedies already. Sandy Hook. Columbine. Virginia Tech. San Bernardino. Red Lake. Aurora. Clackamas Mall. Pulse nightclub. And……………………….

What will it take?

It’s time to take the moral high ground and do whatever it takes to prevent violence and intimidation. From an article about the march from the NRA to the DOJ:

“I’ve never ever believed that the NRA is more powerful than the people,” Mallory said. “As long as people of good moral conscience come together … I believe we will be victorious.”

The NRA was the largest outside donor to Trump’s campaign. That means the Women’s March, Everytown for Gun Safety and other groups participating in the protest are not only taking on the NRA, but the political establishment, providing an opportunity for the movement to demonstrate the scope of its influence.

#NRA2DOJ

#Enough

#WhyIMarch

photo of BarbaraI will be going to Washington DC on a bus from Duluth, Minnesota. There are two full buses of women traveling by bus who will sleep and eat on the bus to make our voices heard. We could have filled a third bus but the company could not find enough buses for those interested. In addition to the two full buses ( about 106 riders) there is another bus sponsored by a different group and a large group who are flying to DC. 8 buses are traveling from the Twin Cities area as well. There are now 1800 buses registered to arrive at RFK stadium Saturday morning and at least 200,000 who will be in DC to make sure the incoming President @realDonaldTrump understands that we will not sit back and allow issues that affect women and children to be weakened and eliminated.

Why do we march?

Why are we willing to sleep for 2 nights on a bus with other like minded women? Each person on the bus will have their own reason to march.

We march in solidarity with women concerned about the many issues that will be under attack starting on Jan. 20th.

We are concerned and even alarmed at the campaign rhetoric and now the rhetoric of a man who will be our next President. We know that we must raise our voices to let the incoming administration hear our message about women’s  rights and all we have held dear and worked for over the last 8 years. Progress was made. We don’t want it to be taken away.

I march in memory of my beautiful sister, whose shooting death in a domestic shooting almost 25 years ago now has left a vacuum in my life and a burning passion to prevent gun violence. Unfortunately Congress and elected leaders have been working on opposing life saving measures like Brady background checks, public health and safety education about guns, safe storage, stopping bad apple gun dealers, and ways to keep women and our communities safer from gun violence.

 

My sister, Barbara Lund,  would have done this for me and for her family. She was a loving mother and friend- someone who brought people together. Her life was taken suddenly and violently in a domestic shooting during a difficult divorce. My ex brother-in-law, now deceased, shot her out of anger and depression. A gun(s) was available to him and he chose to use it. Women are much more likely to die in a domestic dispute when a gun is present in the home:

Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. The presence of a firearm during a domestic violence incident increases the likelihood of a homicide by 500 percent. Guns are also regularly used in non-fatal incidents of domestic violence, with researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health concluding in a study from 2000 that “hostile gun displays against family members may be more common than gun use in self-defense, and that hostile gun displays are often acts of domestic violence directed against women.”

And yet the myth that guns make women safer persists.

Myths will prevail when the corporate gun lobby takes a seat at the table of the incoming President. Governing by myth will make us less safe.

That should concern us all.

90 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries from homicides, suicides and accidental discharges.  Women, children, young black men, older white men, toddlers, everyone. Everyone is at risk if we weaken our gun laws even more under the new administration.

#Enough

We will march because women play an integral role in keeping their communities and their children safe from devastating gun violence.

My sister’s story is the story of many women across America. It is the story that we shouldn’t have to tell but we are a reluctant group of members of a club of families of gun violence victims. We are victims. We are survivors. We will be marching for common sense.

I have met many people who have marched, lobbied, advocated for, organized for, pleaded for, cried for, written about, been interviewed about a lost loved one and for stronger gun laws that could save lives. They know that passing stronger laws can save lives.

One of my fellow Minnesota advocates, Rachael Joseph, has done all of the above in memory of her aunt who was shot and killed by a family member in 2003. She will be marching on Saturday. Here are Rachael’s words and a photo of her aunt:

“I’m marching in Washington D.C. for my aunt, Shelley Joseph-Kordell who was shot and killed at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, MN on September 29, 2003. Gun violence in this country is a women’s issue. Gun violence disproportionately affects women, who are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed in America than in any other developed nation.  I’ll march because women are the vast majority of mass shooting victims, which more often than not involves domestic violence. In an average month, 50 women are shot to death by a current or former partner. As a survivor, a woman and as a mom, I demand safety for our families and communities. The gun lobby’s leadership agenda is a direct threat to women everywhere. I am marching to send a message to our nation’s leaders – in Congress, in statehouses and in corporate boardrooms across the country – that women will not stand on the sidelines while our safety and the safety of our families and communities is jeopardized by the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda to allow guns for anyone, anywhere, anytime – no questions asked. I’ll march until women and children in this country feel safe.”

Rachael and I and many others will march in DC and cities all over America ( and the world for that matter) to demand that our elected officials do something to cut gun deaths in half by 2025. It can be done. Will they have the will? Will they find the way? We are concerned that a new administration and Congress will not only not have the will but will make us less safe by weakening our gun laws.

rachaels-auntRachael’s aunt would be proud of her niece’s activism and advocacy.

In memory of Shelley and Barbara.

We will march and we will not forget.

Activist mommies

mommy activistThis morning one of the commenters who reads my blog but rarely gets published called me an “activist Mommie”.  Check it out here:

Why is your only response to post a link and text to an NRA sponsored site? I’ve not proffered anything of the sort….I asked you where is the primary source foundation for the gun control lobby’s assertions, where it regards the 2nd Amendment?

Read any of the Framers debates over the intent and verbiage during the ratification of the 2nd Amendment; then read a bit of at least one of the philosophical influences as directly and explicitly admitted by said Framers. I recommend Algernon Sidney.

Simply playing narratives between the NRA and activist Mommies is lazy.

First of all, this kind of demeaning and misogynistic comment is not rare coming from gun rights extremists. I have been called all kinds of names, including the “c” word, as has my dead sister. They think we are “weak” according to this commenter who calls himself “Constitutional Insurgent”, whatever that means. He believes he knows more about the constitution than the rest of us yet refused to provide any evidence of what he was claiming. He got mad when I provided him with a site supported by the NRA.  Whatever.

We are not going to sit home baking cookies and doing what some think is what women should be doing.

But I did look up something about Algernon Sidney, as “Insurgent” suggested but provided me with no links. Just as I suspected, Sidney, who died in 1683, was a limited government guy :

“Furthermore, Sidney believed that civil government should have limited jurisdiction. He said the, “only ends for which governments are constituted and obedience rendered to them, are the obtaining of justice and protection.” This suggests a limited civil government whose primary purpose is to 1) render legal justice through its court system and 2) provide for the safety of its citizens. We can also conclude from Sidney that, if a government fails to accomplish these basic components, obedience to that government is no longer required.”

So we are supposed to base current gun policy on writings from the 17th century read by our founding fathers? I’m sure they read a lot of scholarly research in forming the Constitution. The Constitution is an incredible document reflecting both limited government and the need for a strong federal government. It was a compromise that has worked pretty well for our country. But as I pointed out in my last post, the  Constitution, in my opinion, can (and has) change with the times. And since guns have changed dramatically, laws need to reflect our current culture and life, not that of those who lived in the 17th century. I like to read about history as well. But I can also see that, while it is important to know what came before us, it is also important that we deal with present problems.

The second amendment and its’ various interpretations, is thrown up as the reason why we can’t do anything about all of the carnage in our country. That is a weak and unsupported argument that has won the argument for far too long. The second amendment does not guarantee a God given right to own whatever gun one wants by anyone who wants to carry anywhere one wants to. If someone can find a reference to guns in the Bible or other early Biblical, Jewish, Muslim or any other religious teachings, let me know. And don’t send me the stuff about taking up swords. That is a nonsensical argument, at best.

This article in The Trace, written by a law scholar, says this about recent second amendment rulings in the Supreme Court:

Assuming that Heller remains on the books, what does it mean for the future of gun rights and gun regulation in the United States? Probably not as much as supporters of gun regulation fear, nor as much as gun rights proponents want. Despite broad claims about its likely impact, the “individual right” interpretation of the Second Amendment has not radically changed the legal landscape. Roughly 95 percent of Second Amendment challenges brought since Heller have failed, and the evolving doctrine leaves ample room for reasonable gun regulations. The primary obstacles to stronger gun laws remain political, not constitutional.

But back to hateful rhetoric, it comes straight from the top. One of the NRA Board members, Ted Nugent, is famous for this offensive , racist, anti-semitic, and rude comments when he “performs” in public or otherwise speaks at NRA events or on NRA radio. There is pushback for an upcoming appearance by Nugent in my state of Minnesota as well there should be.

Yesterday the Republican nominee for President, Mr. Donald J. Trump, intimated that the Muslim mother of a solder killed in Iraq didn’t speak out at the Democratic National Convention when she stood beside her husband, Khizr Kahn because she was Muslim. This, of course, is a typical dog whistle issued by Trump and others like him.

Kahn, speaking at the DNC, took on Trump’s offensive remarks about a Muslim ban in America considering that his own son, a Muslim, signed up to fight in Iraq for his own country of America and was killed in combat. It was a powerful and emotional moment for all of us. But Trump and his ilk don’t like to be challenged by the facts and the truth. So they fight back with offensive lies meant to deflect the truth of the matter. In the process they tear down Muslims, people of color, women and anyone who doesn’t think or look like them.

After the convention, both of the Kahns were interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnel on MSNBC. Mrs. Kahn spoke and spoke powerfully about the pain she has experienced and how hard it is for her to talk about her son. Mr. Kahn said that she was the strong one and helped him write his speech.

If this had not been a Muslim couple on stage and only one person spoke, would Trump have attacked them? We know the answer.

When will this stop? Will someone be shot? I’m just wondering.

This kind of fear mongering and offensive rhetoric is coming straight from the man at the top of the Republican ticket. Why are other Republicans not speaking out against this? That question needs to be answered.

Just as the NRA leadership is not speaking out against Nugents’ offenses and vile remarks, it comes from the top. And it implicates everyone who doesn’t speak out.

So then, why allow these type of comments on articles on the web? Many are too vile to say out loud. Take this attack on Massachusetts Attorney General   who had the nerve to speak out in favor of an assault weapons ban. God forbid! Another activist Mommy in favor of stopping people from getting shot in a mass shooting by an angry young male. Check it out:

“Another [expletive] woman passing laws based off emotional bias this is why woman[sic] should not have leading roles they’re emotionally to [sic] weak,” wrote a grammatically challenged charmer.

They’ve called Healey ugly, her agenda satanic, and taunted her for being gay. One person tweeted that he’d like to hire a homeless man to rape and disembowel the attorney general alive. A commenter on a gun nut blog tracked down her home address and posted it. (…)

They don’t attack only women, of course.

“A day doesn’t go by that I am not called the worst kind of Jew on the planet,” said John Rosenthal, the longtime gun control activist. “I’m ‘a Jew faggot,’ or I ‘should have been killed in an oven.’ It’s disgusting.”

And then the article ended with this cogent assessment:

Oh, good grief, you may be thinking, Can’t you just ignore them? These are just fringe-dwelling fools. They can’t even spell. The thing is, the fringe is wide. And when somebody sends you a note threatening you with rape and murder, it can get to you, even if you’ve grown inured to garden-variety torment.

You’re not supposed to admit this, of course. You’re damned if you call these cretins out — it gives them oxygen, makes you seem like a victim — and damned if you don’t, because they just keep doing it. The world, especially online, is replete with men who straight-up hate women.

For her part, Healey has opted for oxygen deprivation, declining to comment on the torrents of misogyny. She did say she was determined to keep fighting to control the spread of weapons designed to mow down as many people as possible. Which guarantees further abuse.

“I am not going to back down,” she said. “I believe this is right and appropriate and lawful and something we need to do.”

Good for Healey. We need to stand up to these attacks and stand together. But now we have a woman nominee who is likely to win the race for the White House. They will hate her every bit as much as they have hated our first Black President. It won’t be pretty.

I, for one, am proud to be an activist Mommy and Grandmother. There are a lot of us and the majority of men, gun owners and NRA members have joined us in our support of legislation that would stop and prevent some of our daily carnage. If those right wing gun activists oppose that, then the weakness is theirs, not ours. Congress is the weak link here but that is going to change soon.

The Million Mom March, which I attended in 2000 on the Mall in Washington DC was a pivotal moment in the movement to prevent gun violence. It brought mothers and others together as one to oppose the overly powerful and influential gun lobby whose weakening of gun policy and opposition to anything that would save lives had kept our Congress from acting.  Chapters were formed all over the country and are now affiliated with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, named for Jim Brady who was shot in an assassination attempt against President Reagan. The gun nuts hated Sarah Brady. She was regularly attacked and abused by them. She was a strong woman who apparently threatened their world.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America, affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety has brought millions more into the movement for sanity.

The shooting of a woman sitting Congressman, Gabby Giffords, started a movement formed by Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly- Americans for Responsible Solutions. Her voice is strong and powerful when she speaks and her story resonates. Gun activists don’t like her either.

Other organizations are active and include mommies, daddies, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, grandparents, nieces, nephews and friends of people who have been shot. What the gun rights extremists don’t like about us is that we are the majority and we are changing the conversation that they have had to themselves for far too long. Our influence is now changing the minds and hearts of our elected leaders and a tipping point is upon us.

We are all attacked on a regular basis by those who fear our power to change their small minority of resistance to reasonable changes to gun laws and their fear of tyranny, people not like them, zombies and their own shadows.

This kind of shameful, ludicrous, fact free attack has to be challenged and called out for what it is. Hate. Fear. Sexist. Racist. Offensive. Rude. Unacceptable. Who are the weak ones who are so afraid of the mothers and others who want to do something about the shootings?

Where is common sense?

 

UPDATE:

Since I wrote about Donald Trump demeaning the mother of a Muslim soldier here is her response from an article:

In an opinion piece published Sunday on The Washington Post’s website, Ghazala Khan responded directly to Trump.

“Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart,” she wrote.

She said Trump is “ignorant” when he talks about Islam. Trump has called for banning Muslims from entering the United States.

“If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion.” she wrote. “Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.”

On Sunday, Khizr Khan defended his wife’s silence at the convention, telling CNN that she is ill, has high blood pressure and cannot keep herself composed when she sees images of her son.

I suggest that the extremists stop their demeaning, misogynistic, rude and offensive comments. But first, those at the top have to stop. Who will stop them?

 

UPDATE #2

In Oregon, a woman Governor can’t support gun laws that will save lives without receiving threats against her life. Remember, the guys with the guns are likely the ones making the threats. This is simply not OK. From the article:

“Instead of voicing passionate opinions or dissent as part of exercising free speech, they express intent to cause her harm, ugly threats of physical violence and death,” said Kristen Grainger, Brown’s communications director. “Potentially dangerous individuals have attempted to breach security perimeters on more than one occasion.”

Grainger and others say Brown’s role in calling for an end to this winter’s armed occupation near Burns, along with her recent backing of three gun-control bills, appear to have ramped up threats.

I will let it speak for itself.

 

All for fun gunny tales

red_hood_002Many fairy tales are violent. I admit to that and admit that some of them made me uncomfortable while reading them to my own children. Sometimes we examine what we are doing and what we have done and come to the conclusion that it wasn’t such a good idea after all and that we could do better. Writing non violent tales is one of those ideas whose time has come. Is it just a liberal idea that we should protect children from the violence that befalls children and adults in these fairy tales?  Because in the real world, bad things do actually happen to children.

So the NRA is “making light” of some popular fairly tales by writing their own versions in which children appear to save themselves by defending themselves and sometimes with guns:

That world now exists on the National Rifle Association’s NRA Familywebsite, which partnered with author Amelia Hamilton “to present her twist on those classic tales” — a series that has infuriated gun-control advocates, some of whom called it “disgusting.”

Gun-rights supporters say the stories — which started with “Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)” and continued with “Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns)” — are a more peaceful alternative to the often disturbing fairy tales from childhood.

Which is it?

The idea drew mixed reactions amid the continuing battle between gun-rights advocates holding tight to their Second Amendment rights and gun-control activists concerned with incidents involving children and guns.

And then, the reality of kids and guns is mentioned:

So far in 2016, at least 52 children under age 18 have picked up a firearm and accidentally shot themselves or someone else, according to data from the gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Gun violence prevention groups (like the Brady Campaign) reacted to this cynical attempt to sell the idea of self defense for children ( from the article):

“Make no mistake, this is a disgusting, morally depraved marketing campaign,” Dan Gross, the organization’s president, said in a statement. “The NRA continues to stoop to new lows in the hopes of shoving guns into America’s youngest hands. If nothing else, this approach demonstrates just how desperate the organization has become to sell more guns — it must now advertise deadly weapons to kids by perverting childhood classics with no regard whatsoever for the real life carnage happening every day.

“To be frank, it’s pathetic.”

Pathetic indeed.

In real life, this just happened:

The father of a 7-year-old San Angelo boy who allegedly shot himself in the leg struck another boy with his truck while attempting to take his son to the hospital, police said.

Andrew Crittenden, 26, told San Angelo police Friday that he had given his son the handgun, which the boy was playing with inside an apartment. Crittenden said he thought the gun had been emptied of live rounds, police said.

So in this case, a father gives his 7 year old a gun to play with and the boy shoots himself and then the father runs over another 5 year old with his car on the way to the hospital with his own son. Is this a fairy tale? Sometimes truth is stranger, or worse, than fiction. The gun lobby can try to create its’ own world of fiction regarding the use of guns for self defense and encouraging children to have guns but reality  blows their fiction out of the water. Or at least it should if we had any common sense regarding the actual risks of guns to children.

This is a real pathetic tale.

Or what about this real story about a 14 year old boy who shot and killed his 13 year old friend with a gun that was left around the house? The 14 year old will be living now in the real world of awful guilt over this terrible and avoidable tragedy and another family will be living with their real grief over the loss of a loved one whose potential will never be reached. That’s no fairy tale.

In the NRA’s ( and corporate gun lobby) world, small concealable guns should look like cell phones because….. why not? Imagine searching through a pocket or purse for your phone and coming up with the gun/cell phone instead. What could possibly go wrong?

In the gun lobby’s world, God gave people their rights to own guns because…….why not use religion to get people to arm themselves?  Let’s look at the above linked article from The Trace:

The bottom line for Wagner, and many gun-carrying Christians, is that it is in fact okay for Christians have guns, and to use them — so long as they do so for the right reasons. Guns should be not be used for vengeance, he says, but for love. “There is a time when the most loving thing you can do is restrain evil.”

“The Bible does say in Matthew 5:9, blessed are the peace makers,” Wagner adds, “and we actually call guys who carry weapons ‘peace officers’ — right? — because they are there to help enforce that which is going to suppress evil and protect the innocent.”

Such talk of blessed peacemaking from the barrel of a sidearm fits perfectly with today’s “good guy with a gun” fantasies. But it likely has another, older parent as well: the aggressively masculine “muscular Christianity” popularized through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, whose shadow still lingers over much of the evangelical world.

Rationalizing and fictionalizing religious teachings as a reason for carrying guns is absurd and just fiction. We all know that firearms were nowhere in the picture when these teachings were put to print.

But never mind. The article starts with the the Mississippi legislature considering a bill to extend “Stand Your Ground” provisions to houses of worship. You never know when that “big bad wolf” will come walking in with a gun- like at the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston last summer. And in the gun lobby’s fairy tale world, that “bad guy” with a gun could have been stopped if only those 9 people had been carrying in their church.

And last, but certainly not least, the NRA has a Board member who lives in some sort of twisted fairy tale world. The latest from Ted Nugent through Media Matters:

National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent shared a sexist chain letter on social media, which claimed that “men prefer guns over women” because “guns function normally every day of the month.”

Nugent’s post is the latest example of a phenomenon where the NRA increasingly tries to attract women to the organization even as the organization’s leadership engages in sexist and degrading commentary.

Women, of course, are more likely to die in America in gun owning homes than in non gun owning homes.

In the real world,  the majority of gun deaths are due to suicide. In the fictional world of the gun lobby, that doesn’t appear to be a part of their tale.

In the real world 90 Americans a day die from gunshot injuries. Wouldn’t it be nice if the NRA would write a fairy tale about how to prevent some of those gun deaths instead of arming fairy tale figures with guns?

There are two worlds when it comes to guns. The majority of Americans live in the world of common sense and support reasonable laws and measures to keep guns away from those who could be dangerous with them. That is the real world. The minority live in the world of fear, paranoia, deception and fiction when it comes to guns. Many in our Congress and legislatures seem afraid of the wrong world. It’s time for them to step into the real world and not believe in fairy tales. Real lives depend on it.

 

 

Time to talk about domestic abusers and guns

domestic abuseYesterday, something happened in the Supreme Court chambers that had not happened in 10 years. Justice Clarence Thomas spoke. The case before the Court involved 2 men who had been charged with domestic violence misdemeanors and their gun rights. From the article:

“Can you give me another area [of law] where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?” Thomas asked Eisenstein, who was arguing that a federal ban on gun ownership for people who are convicted of low-level domestic violence offenses at the state level should apply if the offense was committed “recklessly.”

A strange silence fell over the courtroom. For what seemed like five minutes straight, and in the course of no less than 10 questions, Thomas really wanted to get to the bottom of whether the federal gun prohibition for domestic violence violators — known as the Lautenberg Amendment — infringed on a fundamental right.

He wanted to know “how long” the suspension of Second Amendment rights was for people prohibited under federal law to possess firearms, and he pressed Eisenstein to name any other legal analog where the federal government could permanently curtail constitutional rights following a conviction for an unrelated offense.

In this case, the idea of whether someone who is prohibited from having a gun because prior domestic abuse charges, can get their gun rights back. Let’s take a look:

If the court sides with the two men, it’s possible that only some types of domestic violence convictions would result in abusers losing their gun rights.

That would be a dangerous scenario, according to the many anti-violence organizations that filed friend-of-the-court briefs. Research shows that if an abuser has access to a gun, victims are five times more likely to be killed. A recent Associated Press analysis found that an average of 760 Americans were killed with guns annually by intimate partners, though that is likely an undercount. More than 80 percent of the victims were women.

It also appears to go against the spirit of the Lautenberg Amendment, which was enacted to make sure that all domestic abusers — whether convicted of felonies or misdemeanors — can’t own guns.

In real life, domestic abusers accused of a misdemeanor or felony, can’t buy or own guns. There is a reason for that, as explained above. But more, just last week, one of the 4 mass shootings (Kansas) that happened in our country was due to a domestic abuser who gained access to guns he should not have had and could not legally have.:

The suspect in the Hesston, Kansas, shooting rampage amassed an extensive criminal record that prohibited him from legally owning or purchasing a gun. Cedric Ford, 38, had felony convictions in his home state of Florida for dealing cocaine, as well as burglary, grand theft, and illegal possession of a gun by a felon. Any of these convictions would have blocked him from passing a background check.

We have lax gun laws in our country that make it easy for people like this shooter to get guns from other than licensed dealers where they would be prohibited. So how did this guy manage to get his guns? An order for protection had been filed against him hours before he went on a shooting rampage:

On Thursday, at 3:30 p.m., less than two hours before the killing began, the Harvey County sheriff’s office located Ford at the Excel plant and served him with a temporary protection from abuse order. The petition, first obtained by the Wichita Eagle, had been filed on February 5 by Ford’s girlfriend, with whom he shared a home. On that day, according to her, the two had been “verbally fighting,” before it “became physical.”

And what’s worse, a former girlfriend, who the shooter had threatened ,gave his guns back to him knowing he was a felon who couldn’t own guns. She has been charged as she should be:

It would have proven difficult for Ford to purchase the firearms on his own, given his criminal record.The Post reports that the two firearms Ford used in the attack—a .223-caliber assault rifle and a pistol—had been given to him by a friend named Sarah Hopkins. Hopkins, 28, told authorities that she and Ford had dated and had been living in nearby Newton up until July, when she moved out. She reportedly returned the guns to Ford after he had threatened her.

Prosecutors have since charged Hopkins with one count of knowingly transferring a firearm to a convicted felon. An affidavit has revealed that Hopkins purchased both firearms: The semiautomatic rifle Zastava Serbia, and a Glock semiautomatic handgun, according to The Post.

She was law abiding until suddenly she wasn’t.

3 people are dead and 6 are left wounded because a man who shouldn’t have had guns got them anyway. An order for protection often makes men like this even more angry so sometimes women are reluctant to file that order out of fear of retribution. Gun rights are so sacred and guns are apparently so necessary to these people that the very idea that they can’t have what they want and “need” is enough to send them on a rampage.

And we have regular rampages in our country because of angry men with guns. Take the one that happened in an Ohio church where the brother of a minister came to church with his gun and shot and killed his own brother. There had been a 5 year long dispute over money and inheritance but no one knows why the man decided to shoot his brother now.

And what does it matter? Another innocent American is dead in a domestic dispute involving 2 brothers. Every day 32 American citizens die from gunshot injuries due to homicide. Many more are suicides. Some are “accidental ” deaths. They add up to 90 a day! Most are avoidable.

Women in America are 11 times more at risk for dying from firearms injuries than in other developed countries. And way too often, domestic shootings involve other innocent people like the one of the other recent mass shootings in the state of Washington leaving 5 dead. And in a week of deadly shootings, a young woman police officer was shot and killed in a domestic dispute in Virginia. Responding to domestic disputes is very dangerous for officers.

So if Justice Thomas truly believes that domestic abusers should get their guns and their gun rights back because….. rights, he is espousing the view of a small group of gun rights extremists who think that anyone and everyone should have guns and gun rights. That kind of thinking is why we have more violent gun deaths than any other democratized countries not at war.

It’s a national tragedy.

In my last post, I wrote about meeting with Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly and having a good discussion about how we can work together for the common good and for common sense to save lives. We can. But we haven’t. I also wrote about the latest series of mass shootings affecting communities all over America. There have been more since.

Last Sunday my community came together in an inspirational and educational afternoon of faith communities and the response of the faith communities to gun violence. We heard the poignant and sad stories of victims- one whose sister was shot 3 times in the back of the head as she was literally trying to go out the door of her marriage. Another, a son who was having some mental problems and “solved” them by buying a gun and shooting himself. A third- a father who spoke of the kidnapping, rape and murder of his (then) 19 year old daughter. I also told my story of a sister shot and killed in an argument during a contentious and protracted divorce.

Faith leaders spoke of why their congregations should be involved from a moral and values perspective. Saving lives and preventing gun violence is about our values as a country. We may have a second amendment and laws, which we also discussed, but we do also have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness which is taken from too many.

Deciding what we are going to do about our nation’s public health and safety gun violence epidemic is key to what kind of country we are. We are in the midst of ugly political elections where offensive and ugly remarks are being hurled around like footballs. Some of the hateful rhetoric is downright frightening. Racist and misogynistic comments, anti-immigrant remarks and sentiment, Obama derangement syndrome, name calling and fomenting fear and paranoia with lies is just not who we are. One candidate, namely Donald Trump, is flirting with white supremacist groups and other extremist groups.It promotes the idea of fear of others and the fact that we need to protect ourselves from our friends and neighbors and people who are not “like” them.

I had an opportunity to meet with Chelsea Clinton yesterday. I thanked her mother for raising the issue of gun violence in this Presidential election. It is the first time there has been serious discussion about an important unaddressed issue. Candidates have been afraid to raise it for fear of the opposition. What kind of democracy is it when we are afraid of the single issue lobby corporate gun lobby who bully and threaten candidates with ugly ads and lies about gun confiscation and taking away rights?

There is no reason why Americans should live with violent domestic abuse. It’s time for a change. It’s time to demand that change. It’s past time to do something about the victims and survivors of gun violence. Putting rights before saving lives is inexcusable and shameful.

We are better than this.

America, Presidential debates, the fact free political system and bogus gun arguments

What would president do?Let’s ask our politicians to answer some serious questions about gun violence prevention. Then we can find out who is on the side of public health and safety and who is spouting the bogus arguments of the corporate gun lobby. Avoiding this serious epidemic should not be allowed by the media or the public. It’s time to stand up and ask the questions and get the answers the families of the many gun violence victims deserve.

It’s past time to look at ourselves in the mirror to see the insanity of our American gun culture. Looking carefully reveals all of the hypocrisy and misleading arguments presented to us by the corporate gun lobby and the gun rights extremists. How did this happen? Good question. We are experiencing an interesting time in our country. Take the Donald Trump phenomenon. The linked article likens Trump to a wrestler while everyone else is boxing. Interesting. As we know, professional wrestling has a lot of drama and fakiness to it compared to boxing. I can only be reminded of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura  and what that conjures up for this Minnesotan who lived through his term in office. In the linked article Ventura actually thinks about running again and maybe with Donald Trump. You just can’t make this stuff up.

It’s the fear and paranoia of government that is fueling the political system right now. The fact that Donald Trump, who has never held public office, has no experience with foreign policy or governing anything is surging in the polls should bring us up short. Do we really want someone running for President whose only platform is that he is the greatest and everyone else is stupid?

And what does this have to do with our gun culture? The extreme view of the second amendment that espouses the need for guns to protect oneself from the government and being ready to fight the government has been fueled by the gun lobby for decades. We now have Americans who are heavily armed and ready to fight against their own government. These people believe that their rights extend to allowing them and just about anyone for that matter, to carry their guns openly displayed and loaded, in public. They believe that they should be able to own as many guns as they want and any kind they want, including military style assault rifles.

And this view of the gun culture presents us with many fallacies and false arguments about the second amendment. I have written a lot about Mr. Wayne LaPierre’s lies about the right to bear arms:

For starters, the motto for this year’s convention was: “If they can ban one, they can ban them all.” So fear was the very slogan. Then, the NRA’s Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre upped the fear factor by telling the attendees:“There’s no telling how far President Obama will go to dismantle our freedoms and reshape America into an America that you and I will not even recognize.” Now even assuming Obama wanted to somehow “dismantle our freedoms,” as LaPierre claims, how could Obama do that in the final 18 months of his presidency when the Republicans control the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court?

He can’t, and the NRA knows that. But facts don’t matter when you are trying to scare people (and get their money). In fact, they often get in the way.

Now scaring people (aka lying) about Obama is nothing new for the NRA. It started even before he took office. While Obama was campaigning for president in 2008 he stated that the Second Amendment bestowed a personal right to own guns and that he “will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns.”

Pretty clear, right?  But the NRA publicly claimed that Obama wanted to “ban use of firearms for home self defense” and “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” That was simply and utterly a fabrication by the NRA.

But no matter. Lies seem to be OK with certain Americans.

I came across an article about one of the gun rights extremists’ latest lies that I want to write about. Their claim that the Swiss can carry guns and own a lot of guns and yet, their gun death rate is low is bogus. An article in Salon exposes the false claims about guns in Switzerland.

Let’s take a look at what’s actually likely to be going on in that picture. Switzerland’s high rate of gun ownership is tied to the fact that it does not have a standing army so virtually every male citizen is conscripted into the militia where they receive comprehensive weapons training. Since they are a militia, they keep their government issued weapons (without ammunition) at home. Therefore, many of the guns in Swiss homes were issued to them by the government and most Swiss gun owners are highly trained in gun safety. This is in contrast to many untrained American yahoos who hang around Starbucks with loaded AR-15s leaning dangerously against the table top while they sip their mocha frappucino.

When Swiss militia members complete their service they are allowed to keep their weapon once they’ve been approved for an acquisition permit and can prove they have justification for having it. Private ownership of guns, along with ammunition, is also allowed under an acquisition permit with certain restrictions, including against those with criminal records and history of addiction and psychiatric problems. And with a law worthy of Orwell’s worst nightmare, every gun in Switzerland is registered by the government.

The rate of gun deaths in the US doesn’t come anywhere close by comparison to that of Switzerland  where the gun death rate is .77 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. at 2.97 even though there is a large gun ownership percentage.

And what’s more, the Swiss are having some interesting debates about “gun control” and new restrictions after some shootings there. They are not immune to the American gun culture apparently and since there is high gun ownership, they do have some conundrums presented by that fact.

One of the many other bogus arguments concerns women and guns. Again, Mike the Gun Guy gets this analogy right:

If you’re a die-hard, red-meat internet trawler of course you’ve heard of Dana Loesch.  She’s been a helpmate of Glenn Beck, hosts her own radio show and tweets away to a responsive and raucous crew.  Of course she has all the right credentials to promote guns: makes sure you see that little Christian icon that she wears around her neck (stole the idea I suspect from Laura Ingraham), never lets you forget that she’s a good ol’ Southern gal and, in case you thought there was any chance she would let the slightest, liberal influence into her home life, she home-schooled her kids.  It’s a masterful image, made expressly for red-meat consumption, and it figures that sooner or later she’d wind up pimping for the NRA. (…) As for Dana’s comments that she needs a gun to protect her family and her home, a bit of research reveals some facts that negate everything she says.  A survey of 14,000 crime victims reveals that in less than 1% of the criminal attacks did the victim protect themselves with a gun.  And when they did defend themselves, the number of victims who were injured was the same whether or not they had a gun.  Want to know the real reason the ‘media’ doesn’t report all those home invasions where a woman defends her life and sacred honor with a gun?  Because they account for less than 2% of all home invasions, that’s why.

In fact, American women are much more likely to be killed by a gun in homes where a gun is present. I happen to know that one from personal experience after my sister was shot and killed in a domestic dispute. Women in other countries are safer from gun violence ( at least in countries not at war) than women in the U.S. What a sad and tragic reality. And it is reality.

I am pretty tired of fact free arguments and the sad fact that so many people are gullible enough to believe them. Either that, or they are paranoid and fearful enough to believe bogus arguments. We are being dumbed down. The fact that Donald Trump is so far ahead of his opponents is frightening and of great concern.

Donald Trump happens to believe in the bogus corporate gun lobby arguments. Trump waa asked about our gun culture after the horrific shooting of 2 Virginia journalists on live TV. He deflected the question by answering that we have to deal with our mental health system. He’s right about that one. But he offered no solutions nor do those who make this claim want to pony up the funding to actually do something about our broken mental health system. But in the end, that is the bogus argument to get people like Trump and other gun rights extremists off the hook when it comes to actually talking about the gun problem in the U.S. And Trump is singing the same tune as all of the Presidential candidates.

Bogus and shameful.

Trump makes up other stuff or just ignores the facts and spends his time attacking and complaining about an America we once had and can get back again. How will we “get America back” if we are ignoring one of our most serious public health and safety epidemics? Health care professionals are offering us the facts and the research but the bogus arguments from the right are drowning out the facts.

Bogus and shameful.

At least the Democratic candidates are not afraid to talk about the issue. Hillary Clinton is strong on the gun issue as is Martin O’Malley. Bernie Sanders’ position is more complicated and more nuanced for which he has taken some heat.

All I know is that common sense is seriously lacking in today’s world of politics in America. The facts are that 88 Americans a day are dying from gunshot injuries and we’re talking about sending Mexicans back to Mexico and keeping America great. What’s so great about a country that is allowing 32,000 plus Americans die from gun injuries?

I want an America where we talk openly and honestly about our problems and then try to solve them in a reasonable manner with research to back up the problems and the solutions. We don’t have that now, thanks to the far right and gun lobby resistance to dealing with the facts. In fact, attempts to do serious research on important issues of our time like the environment, health care, gun violence and others, is going backwards thanks to the far right according to this article. That really does have to change. I hope you will join with me and join one of the many organizations working on gun violence prevention and gun safety reform and make the changes we all deserve to be safe in our homes and our communities.

There is a Republican presidential primary debate tonight. Any bets on whether the issue of guns and what to do about all of the shootings comes up? If it does, take notes.

Million Mom March, moms and guns

nra mothersDid you get your mother a gun for Mother’s Day? If not you can enter a gun give-away contest at the NRA website to make sure someone special to you has a gun for self defense on this special day. Perhaps someone is lurking outside of the restaurant where you will take your mother for brunch. Or maybe at church? Or at the park where you go for a picnic? Or maybe a mother in your life needs her gun while shopping? Remember this young mother who lost her life senselessly when her 2 year old sone found a loaded gun in her purse and “accidentally” discharged the gun? She died.

Would your mother really prefer a gun to flowers on Mother’s Day?

This is a wrong headed idea but the corporate gun lobby has no common sense when it comes to profits over safety. Women are more at risk for their lives in homes where there are guns than in homes without guns. Domestic disputes too often turn deadly when a gun is available. As a result, too many children are without their mothers on this day and too many mothers are also without their children as a result of deadly and avoidable gun violence. From the linked article:

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, has argued that firearms are a great equalizer between the sexes. In a speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee last year, he declared, “The one thing a violent rapist deserves to face is a good woman with a gun.” But the empirical reality of firearm ownership reflects anything but equality, particularly when it comes to intimate partner violence. Such fights become much more frequent and lethal when firearms are involved, and the violence is nearly unidirectional, inflicted by males upon females. This relationship holds true not only across the United States, but around the world.

Don’t buy your mother a gun today.

The gun lobby needs to promote gun ownership among women, and even children, because fewer homes report owning guns and gun ownership is mostly among older white males living in rural America. But I digress.

Mother’s Day has become a profit maker for greeting card companies, florists, retailers and others. But the annual commemoration is not about that:

The earliest iterations of Mother’s Day in the U.S. were organized for several reasons, but celebrating mothers wasn’t among them. U.S. women’s groups in the late 1800s came together in West Virginia to tackle everything from infant mortality to disease and milk contamination. In 1870, a composer by the name of Julia Ward Howe issued a “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” urging women to become politically active and to promote peace following the U.S. Civil War, according toNational Geographic.

And that is what mothers have been doing ever since- promoting peace, promoting safety for children, promoting public health and safety. Women are politically active but their voices are too often drowned out by a power structure that has not included women in leadership roles where they can make a difference. That is changing but not enough. Women in politics will be key to getting policy changes in the best interest of women, children and families.

15 years ago on Mother’s Day of 2000, which fell on May 14th that year, 750,000 mothers and others marched for sanity and common sense concerning gun violence. I was one of those who attended the Million Mom March and came away a changed person. I found my voice. Eight years after my sister was shot and killed in a domestic shooting, I found a way to talk about it and a way to tell my story. I also found that I was not alone. Unforgettable at the March were the many people carrying posters or wearing tee shirts or hats with photos of a MMM photoloved one lost to a bullet.

Over the years, as I got involved with the issue of gun violence prevention, I became acquainted with many victims and survivors nation-wide who are my friends to this day. We are in a club that we didn’t want to join. Some of them are moms who have lost children so Mother’s Day is difficult and a sad reminder that our nation is awash in guns and gun violence. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Moms are a force. Don’t mess with a mom who has lost someone to a violent and sudden death. 15 years after the first march against gun violence mothers are still marching. Yesterday hundreds marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, including many gun violence prevention groups, to show support for common sense. There were marchers from the Million Mom March and Brady Campaign chapters, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and others in a show of unity to demand that our elected leaders stand up for the victims and survivors instead of the gun lobby.

My sister experienced the tragic loss of a young toddler in a drowning death at the lake behind their home. She never really got over the loss of her only daughter, who was a year older than my own. My daughter had a special relationship with my sister because of this loss. And yes, I also know that drownings are the cause of more deaths than shootings in very young children. But with the increase in the number of young children “accidentally” shooting themselves or others, that may change. As more data hopefully becomes available, we will know more about what causes death in young children. Mothers should not lose their children no matter to what cause. My mother, of course, lost her oldest daughter to a domestic shooting.

Today, I know that a gun did not make my sister safer from a domestic shooting. My sister never got to see her oldest son get married or to hold her grandchildren. She wasn’t in attendance at the weddings of my own children but was remembered lovingly at these occasions. I do what I do because of her and because of the many women who have lost their lives to a bullet.

The thing is, my sister is your sister. Just because this hasn’t happened in your family doesn’t mean it won’t. That is why it is so important to be involved in the movement to change the conversation about guns and the role they play in so much devastation to families all over America. Gun deaths and injuries happen in every neighborhood, to any age group, to any economic category, to any gender, to any and all races and usually in unexpected ways. Every one of us can be affected.

So what do we mothers who continue to march want?

We want people to know that if they choose to own guns, they should also choose to understand that those guns are a risk to themselves and others in the home.

We want mothers ( and others) to practice responsible gun ownership. Guns should be locked securely unloaded and separate from ammunition.

We want mothers ( and fathers) to ASK if there are guns in the homes where their children play and hang out.

We want mothers ( and others) to continue to advocate for background checks for all gun sales. In states where that has happened, women (and others) are safer from shootings.

We want domestic abusers to have fewer guns, not more guns. Some states , including my own state of Minnesota, have passed laws to make sure the guns of domestic abusers are required to be removed from them before they are used to kill a domestic partner.

We want mothers and women to run for political office and raise the issue of gun safety reform and then get the job done to make our communities safer.

We want mothers ( and others) to get involved and stay involved to change the conversation about the role of guns and gun violence. We can make safer communities for our families if we continue to march and continue to advocate for common sense.

We want mothers ( and others) to be loud and clear with elected leaders that the majority of Americans want stronger gun laws, not looser laws.

Happy Mother’s Day. Keep marching.