Nel's New Day

June 14, 2013

Six Months since Newtown Massacre

Twenty-eight people died of gun violence because of one armed young man only six months ago today. The flurry of attempts to reduce further gun violence in the United States gave some people hope that it would happen, but NRA knew that interest would fade if they stood their ground. Yet the people in Newtown (CT) where 20 children and six educators were gunned down in that massacre haven’t quit. Today they held a remembrance that included reading the names of the more than 5,000 people in the country killed with guns which is expected to take 12 hours.

Mayors against Illegal Guns has launched a bus tour through 25 states during the next 100 days to build support for expanded background checks for gun buyers, the legislation that failed in the Senate two months ago. Relatives of victims have gone to Washington, D.C. to lobby for gun control legislation although some of the legislators refuse to meet with them.

NRA has Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in their sights with an ad campaign telling people to phone his office and tell him “to honor his commitment to the 2nd Amendment.”

The gun organization has a strong supporter in convicted felon Gary W. Bornman who wrote from a federal super-maximum security prison in Colorado to his Connecticut hometown newspaper, The Hartford Courant  expressing his gratitude to the pro-gun lawmakers and NRA for giving him the ability to easily get guns when he’s released. As he pointed out in the letter, without the NRA and these legislators he could not easily buy weapons before he reaches Connecticut with its restrictive laws so that he can “resume my criminal activities.” He finishes the letter:

“And so, a heartfelt thank you to the NRA and all those members of Congress voting with them. I, along with tens of thousands of other criminals, couldn’t do what we do without you.”

This isn’t the first time that Bornman has written letters to the public. In a 1999 letter to the LA Times, he wrote:

“In little more than 14 months, in all probability I’ll commit murder, perhaps even mass murder. That’s when I’m due to be released from federal prison where I’m serving a seven-year sentence for bank robbery.”

Bornman’s public defender, Gary Weinberger, thinks that his client is not really that dangerous.

When Bornman is released from the Colorado prison, he can drop into adjacent Nevada, where the state legislature just passed a bill to close the gun-show loophole by requiring background checks on gun purchases, including private transactions. They followed the wishes of 86 percent of people in Nevada. Bornman could get a gun in Nevada, however, because Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed the bill, claiming it would do “little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms.” Another provision of the vetoed bill would require Nevada courts to submit information about mentally ill legal defendants to a national clearinghouse for all new gun purchases within five business days after the finding.

Some gun enthusiasts claiming that the Second Amendment gives everyone the right to own guns and ammunition are trying to stop the U.S. government from having them. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), chair of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, is confused about why IRS law enforcement agents would train with AR-15 rifles. He said, “It’s been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability. Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability?” These are exactly my sentiments for the ordinary U.S. citizen.

The tax agency’s explanation:

“As law enforcement officials, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents are equipped similarly to other federal, state and local law enforcement organizations. Special Agents receive training on the appropriate and safe use of assigned weapons. IRS Criminal Investigation has internal controls and oversight in place to ensure all law enforcement tools, including weapons are used appropriately.”

Fighting potentially violent criminals has been part of IRS agents’ job for 90 years; their jurisdiction includes “tax, money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act laws.”  The IRS guidelines for training its agents on semi-automatic rifles occurred in 2003 under George W. Bush’s watch.

Since the Newtown massacre, the House has passed one piece of gun control legislation.  By a vote of 234-192, the House voted last week to stop DHS from buying any more ammunition until they submit reports on the need for this to Congress. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has proposed a similar measure in Congress’s other chamber.

During the past six months, gun violence has killed an average of 28 people each day, more than the number of U.S. military members killed during the Iraq War. In the last 30 years, 62 mass shootings occurred in thirty different states, making an average of two each year. Twenty-five of them happened since 2006—seven of them last year with 140 victims. Mother Jones has tracked these on an interactive map.

During the past four years, the U.S. averaged over one mass shooting per month. In the last six months, there have been at least 14 mass shootings—over two each month. An interactive map of the nation, pinpointing these shootings, is available here.

An analysis of the 62 mass shootings shows the following:

Weapons: The killers possessed 143 weapons, more than three quarters obtained legally, including dozens of assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines.

Locations:  More than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 20, respectively); the other 30 cases took place in locations such as shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings.

Killers: Forty four were white males; only one was a woman. The average age of the killers was 35, with the youngest 11 years old. A majority had demonstrated being mentally troubled before they killed.

Not once was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. In other recent rampages, civilians who tried to intervene not only failed but also were seriously wounded or killed. Even the police don’t have a good record: New York City police officers trained in counterterrorism wounded nine innocent bystanders when confronting a gunman at the Empire State Building.

Without registration, no one knows exactly how many guns are in private hands, but estimates indicate about 200 million privately-owned guns in 1995, a number that has increased 50 percent in the past 18 years to 300 million. During the same time, the U.S. population grew by only 20 percent. Yet fewer households have guns: 40 percent of them had weapons in the past decade compared to 50 percent in the 1980s.

During the last four years, the NRA and its political allies have pushed through 99 laws in 37 states making guns easier to own, carry, and conceal from the government. Eight states permit guns in bars, even when the carrier is intoxicated. Five states allow concealed weapons on college campuses. Kansas permit holders can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools, and Louisiana permits guns in houses of worship. Eighty percent of states now recognize handgun permits from at least some other states.

At least one educator is making a different in the gun control issue. Believing that children who play with toy guns become desensitized, making it easier for them to use real guns later, Strobridge Elementary School (CA) Principal Charles Hill organized a toy gun exchange. Gun rights enthusiasts claim that toy guns are painted in “bright colors,” making it impossible for them to be mistaken for a real gun, but “real guns” are also painted in such colors as bright pink and blue. About 75 children traded their guns for books and a chance on four bicycles.

Until 1996, Australia had the same lax attitude toward gun ownership that the United States does. After 35 people were killed in a massacre on April 28 of that year, Australia passed restrictive gun controls, requiring a “genuine reason” for permits and prohibiting gun ownership for convicted felons and those with mental illness. The rate of homicides involving firearms per 100,000 population in 2009 was 0.1 in Australia, as compared with 3.3 in the United States.The rate of unintentional deaths involving firearms in 2001 was 0.09, compared with 0.27 in the United States. Only Latin America has a higher death rate from guns than the United States.

December 14, 2012

Today Is the Day to Begin Gun Control

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:05 PM
Tags: , , ,

A few months ago, 12 people died when one man took several weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle, into a movie theater and fired off 50 shots a minute. The AR-15 is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) favorite gun “because you can be so accurate with it.” A few days ago, three people died in a popular Portland (OR) shopping mall when a man shot into the crowd with an AR-15.

Earlier this week, a federal appeals court struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed firearms in public. Illinois is 43rd out of 50 states in the number of gun deaths per capita, fewer than half the rate as in Mississippi. Yesterday the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature passed a bill that would allow people to bring guns into schools.

Today, at least 28 people, most of them children in an elementary school, died in Newton (CT), just 60 miles northeast of New York City, when a man opened fire on them.

Politicians join the rest of the country in mourning these disasters. Flags are  lowered. There is an outcry for a few days. Soon, however, conservatives in Congress and state legislatures will go back to business as usual, working to move money to the wealthiest and make the United States less safe for people while most of the Democrats trying to prevent his. Stalemate.

I have questions. And spare me the mantra that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Once again, I say, “People who don’t have guns can’t shoot people.”

Why do we allow such websites as KSL.com, owned and operated by the Mormons, to sell firearms, no questions asked?

Why do we think that the Founding Fathers meant people to have arsenals of assault weapons in the 21st century? The Second Amendment cites “a well-regulated militia.” We’re not fighting the British any more, yet people can own an unlimited number of weapons only because of a grammatical misunderstanding.

Why isn’t there a hue and cry to support Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in her work on legislation to ban assault weapons?

Why doesn’t the public hold responsible the Congressional elected officials who are beholden to assault weapons manufacturers and the NRA from their donations?

When will the media concentrate on how these killings can be stopped instead of analyzing what kinds of people commit these crimes?

Why do people always fight any gun control with the excuse that they need their guns to hunt for food? Do they use automatic assault weapons for hunting? (That’s a rhetorical question. Of course, they don’t.)

Why aren’t there more class-action lawsuits against the people responsible for the proliferation of high-powered weaponry in our society? Lax gun laws and inadequate security checks in Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky and 7 other states mean that they supplied nearly half the 43,000 guns traced to crime scenes in other states in just one year.

Why do we glorify gun ownership? Firearms are used in 300,000 crimes a year in the United States.

Why do people keep saying stupid things?

After Aurora, Mike Huckabee said, “We don’t have a crime problem or a gun problem – or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem.” Today, his script read the same, that there is violence in schools because “we have systematically removed God from our schools.”

Bryan Fischer said that God could have protected the victims of this massacre, but didn’t because “God is not going to go where he is not wanted.”

People in the United States have a love for killing. In 2010, 31,513 people died in the United States from guns; another 200,000 were injured. The United States is responsible for over 80 percent of all the gun deaths in the 23 richest countries combined. The movies and video games in Japan are more violent than ours, yet fewer than an average of 20 people a year are killed there with guns. In 2006 the number was two. Great Britain has fewer than an average of 40 gun murders a year.

Canada’s culture is similar to ours, but that country averages fewer than 200 deaths. Switzerland has the third-highest number of guns per capita on earth but a low murder rate. Three-quarters of the states execute criminals, but the states with no death penalty have lower murder rates.

On the morning of 9/11/01, 2,996 people died. Every year, ten times that number of people die of gun-related deaths. Although the death of 2,996 people caused the United States to declare preemptive war on two countries, wars that resulted in additional hundreds of thousands of people dying, nothing has been done about the 300,000+ people who died from guns during the past decade.

Gun-related deaths are more likely in states with a high percentage of working class jobs, rates of high school students carrying weapons on school property, and a majority vote for John McCain.

Gun-related deaths are less likely in states with higher levels of college graduates and creative class jobs, higher levels of economic development, higher levels of happiness and well-being, and more immigrants.

Gun-related deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation such as banning assault weapons, requiring trigger locks, and mandating safe storage for guns.

When I think about all the people who fight a federal registration list of gun owners, I think about the same people who bitterly fight to mandate a government-issued photo ID before people can vote. I also think about the mandatory registration for both driving and owning cars. No one has said that these registrations are a “slippery slope” toward the seizure of all private vehicles by a totalitarian government.

The NRA incessantly lobbies for looser and looser gun laws, but their members don’t agree with its leadership. In over 30 states anyone can purchase a firearm from a “private seller” without any background check, including a .50 caliber sniper rifle that can take down a helicopter. Sixty-nine percent of NRA members want this loophole closed.

People on the U.S. terror watch list cannot fly commercially, but they can buy guns and explosives. Eighty-two percent of NRA members want this loophole closed.

Laws limit the ability of law enforcement to access, use, and share data so that they can enforce federal, state, and local gun laws. Sixty-nine percent of NRA members want this loophole closed.

Some cities and townships have passed laws that lost and stolen guns must be reported, but the NRA threatens to overturn these laws. Seventy-eight percent of NRA members approve of laws that mandate the reporting of lost and stolen guns.

Last August, six Sikhs were killed in their temple. A month later, a man killed five people at his former workplace after he was laid off. Politicians paid little attention to these events. The image of 20 dead children under ten years old would hopefully shock them into thinking that there is no marker identifying a mass murderer, that the deaths are caused because of easy access to firearms.

Today is the time that the people in this country should rise up and demand accountability. It might save their own lives.

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: