Sanity First: Yes to responsible gun control

Fanatics must refrain from engaging in a relationship with objective reality in order to hold onto their beliefs. That said, anyone who does not think changes in gun regulations are part of what must happen in order to address my country’s addiction to and obsession with violence is a fanatic, utterly delusional, breathtakingly gullible, or an out and out liar.

Since the Newtown shootings I’ve seen far too many look to protect what they think is their right to own any firearm under the sun first, and, as a result, place the safety of their fellow human beings second, if at all.

The gun show loophole is essentially this. There are about 5,000 gun shows a year in this country. In 33 states people can go in and buy weapons without background checks, a fact which everyone knows (except the aforementioned fanatics’n friends) provides a feeding trough for criminals to get weapons. You can’t say you are against closing this loophole and say you want to reduce violence in the same sentence and be telling the truth.

The facts are clear. There are something like 600 deaths every month in this country from guns, more than 30,000 a year. Every reputable study documents (documents!) that the more guns there are the more death and injury by guns there are.

Not long after the Newtown shootings some argued knives are more dangerous than guns. Wrong. But here’s what I’ll say. If people start committing mass murder by knife, then I’m all for talking about responsible knife control. But that is not what’s happening. People are choosing guns to kill.

And then, of course, there was this bit of asinine foolishness from, not surprisingly, fools. I can think of no better representative for this group than Glenn Beck who pounced on those calling the Bushmaster AR-15 an assault rifle (by definition it’s not).  The AR-15 is one of the weapons Adam Lanza used to kill the 20 children and six adults. beck said, “Make a promise to yourself that you will stop calling rifles ‘assault weapons.’” This sick twisted twit is getting all ants-in-the-pants because someone didn’t use precisely the right terms to describe the semi-automatic weapon that, according to Bushmaster is used by more than 100 police departments and the military in 50 nations? Like I said, guns before people in the minds of some, like Beck.

Universal background checks, a ban an assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15, lower capacity magazines, will help save lives. President Obama and others have set the right tone.

Lastly (for now), it is utterly mind-blowing that the president had to lift a ban on federal research into gun violence. The ban itself is beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence that many are invested in maintaining the violence because it means more gun sales and for these creatures, it is profit before people.

As for those who think they need to stockpile weapons because some day the government is going to attack them, all I can say is this, move to another country, though God knows who would be willing to accept you.

NRA admits to country’s gun problem

By proposing a program of armed guards for the nation’s schools, the National Rifle Association’s executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre today acknowledged there is a problem with the proliferation of guns in today’s society. After all, you can’t proclaim a need for armed guards in the nation’s schools and deny there’s a gun problem in the same breath.

In proposing the National School Shield Program, LaPierre, who would not take questions from the press, said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Not surprisingly, LaPierre did not address how easy it is for the “bad guys” to get guns. He uttered not a syllable about the country’s lax gun law’s nor did he say a word about the gun show loophole, itself a major resource for the “bad guys” when it comes to buying weaponry. There are an estimated  5,000 gun shows a year; in 33 states private gun owners can sell guns and buyers are not required to undergo federal background checks.

Now why, given that gun shows are an easy way for the “bad guys” to get guns, did LaPierre not say anything? Because, for the NRA leadership (and the gun manufacturers they worship), access to guns for anyone and everyone, “good guy” or “bad guy,” is more important than the safety of our citizens, including our most precious citizens, our children.

How LaPierre remained straight-faced when he said, “The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters, people that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them,” while at the same time knowing the NRA is perhaps the leading perpetrator in blocking any reasonable effort to make it harder for the so-called evil people to get guns is beyond me.

Bill Moyer’s was right when he said, “The NRA is a killer instinct’s best friend.” Let’s not forget that the NRA opposed a bill that sought to block the sale of Teflon (cop-killing) piercing bullets to the general public.

There is no question a tapestry response is needed to address the underlying causes (violent video games and movies) for mass murders like the one in Newtown, Connecticut. But to do so without addressing the need for responsible gun control measures is like trying to address the challenge of lung cancer without addressing (or mentioning) smoking.

The NRA does not seem to care about facts, only posturing, and any excuse under the sun to add more guns to an already gun-drenched society.

If our leaders show a tenth of the courage the staff of the Sandy Hook Elementary School did in protecting the children with their lives, then perhaps responsible gun control measures, like a real assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole, and limiting the number of rounds a magazine can hold, to name three, might come to pass. If not, there will be many more Newtowns.

Gun violence, facts & a prayer

Damned if I understand why some seemingly decent people are about as responsive to facts as a cluster of tree stumps.  On top of that, there is a disturbing instinct in some to protect guns before children. On top of that, there are some who seem to think knives are as much if not more dangerous than  guns (that must be why so many of today’s modern armies are throwing away their firearms and replacing them with steak knives).

I do understand that we are a culture addicted to violence. We are a culture that has come to believe that an accurate measure of one’s strength is one’s capacity to inflict violence. We are also a culture that has taken the Second Amendment and morphed it into meaning something it doesn’t mean. The Second Amendment does not mean the founding fathers, had they known, would think it would be just peachy for citizens to own assault weapons, that it would be okay to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition at a time. They would no doubt be troubled by the fact it is easier in some areas of the country to buy an assault weapon and thousands of rounds of ammunition than it is to get a driver’s license.

As Bill Moyer’s said, and I quoted in a recent commentary for Independence Today, the NRA is “a killer instinct’s best friend.”

The penchant for some to blame the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School solely on mental illness, or medication (anything but guns),  is disheartening. Yes, without question, the issue is more than simply guns and the desperate need for responsible  gun control measures, but the other elements of the issue must not be used as a reason  to turn our attention away from the need for gun control.

For those who cling to the utterly misguided belief that knives are just as dangerous as guns (assault weapons), consider this: knives are not want these mass murderers of our innocents are choosing, they are choosing assault weapons. (Note to reader: I do not expect this fact to make one iota of difference to those clinging to the knife-worse-than-gun myth. Nor do I expect the following facts to make a difference to those who seek to protect guns before people, but, perhaps in some cases, I’ll be wrong. Let’s hope.).

  • More Americans suffer gun deaths by homicide and suicide in a six-month span than have died by terrorist attacks in the last 25 years and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
  • In one year, 31,224 people died from gun violence and 66,769 people survived gun injuries (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)). That includes:
    o 12,632 people murdered and 44,466 people shot in an attack.
    o 17,352 people who killed themselves and 3,031 people who survived a suicide attempt
    with a gun.
    o 613 people who were killed unintentionally and 18,610 who were shot unintentionally
    but survived.
  • Over a million people have been killed with guns in the United States since 1968, when Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated (Childrens’ Defense Fund, p.20).
  • U.S. homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high-income
    countries combined, despite similar non-lethal crime and violence rates. The firearm homicide rate in the U.S. is 19.5 times higher (Richardson, p.1).
  • Among 23 populous, high-income countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States (Richardson, p. 1).
  • The estimated  cost of gun violence U.S. citizens $100 billion annually
    (Cook, 2000).
  • An estimated 41% of gun-related homicides and 94% of gun-related suicides would not
    occur under the same circumstances had no guns been present (Wiebe, p. 780).
  • Higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides, and
    unintentional shootings (Harvard Injury Control Center).
  • Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 3 to 5 and increases the risk of suicide with a firearm by a factor of 17 (Kellermann, 1992, p. 467; Wiebe, p. 771).
  • Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of homicide by a factor of 3 (Kellermann, 1993, p. 1084)

For those who care about facts, you’re in my prayers. For those who don’t care about them or believe them, you’re in my prayers too, and that’s a fact.

With Love for Newtown, Ct – Children First

Four times I’ve faced a gun at close range.  In 1984 the trigger was pulled. I was shot in the head. The bullet is lodged in my brain. I do all I can not to remember the terror before the trigger was pulled and before, in the other instances, I escaped.

I’ve tried with all my heart and soul not to think (feel) about what those last moments were like for those innocent  people (20 children!) in Newtown, Connecticut.  I’ve tried and I failed. It dawned on me, as I was writing to a close friend this morning, that this may be a healthy thing. If we as people, people!, don’t really digest this horror, and decide that first and foremost we must do all we can to protect our children, nothing will happen, nothing will change, and we will all be accomplices in maintaining the heartbeat of this gun-soaked addicted-to-violence society we live in.

The lack of responsible gun control in this country plays a lead role in the 30,000 deaths a year by gun. As Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times recently pointed out, “More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides in six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.”

One of the tragedies in all this is the instinct of some to protect guns before protecting children. As some have already pointed out,  if members of congress and community leaders and every citizen displayed a fraction of the courage the teachers and principal and school psychologist in Newtown displayed trying to protect the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School, what a difference we could make.

Connecticut Medical Examiner Dr. Wayne Carver said every one of the seven children he examined was shot from three to 11 times, some were shot while clinging to each other!  We must put children before guns. We must do something,  now. If we don’t, more children will die.