Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

A national disgrace

Posted: December 14, 2015 by watsonthethird in Current Events, Guns
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It boggles my mind that this nation could do nothing–nothing–about gun violence and mental illness in the wake of the Sandy Hooking shooting, which happened three years ago today and took the lives of six educators and 20 elementary school children. A national disgrace.

This Washington Post story, from six months after the shooting, is still powerful and needs to be shared.

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Guns are not cars

Posted: December 7, 2015 by watsonthethird in Current Events, Guns
Tags: , , ,

I’m always amused when conservatives defend guns by citing the fact that people die in the operation of motor vehicles. The argument goes along these lines: Cars kill and no one is suggesting that cars be banned! Therefore, no one should argue that guns be banned, either.

Why, just the other day our friend Amazona made that very argument:

I do understand that guns are loud, and scary, and that they are very very intimidating. But so are cars and trucks. More people are killed by drunk drivers than by guns, yet there is no demand to take cars off the road, or make them harder to buy or own. In this case, it is understood that the culprit is the driver, not the car. Even when cars are purposely used to inflict harm or death, being driven into crowds or at police officers, there is no cry to restrict car ownership. But we KNOW cars. We are familiar with them, we grew up around them, we handle them on a daily basis, and we know how to handle them. Most people don’t know guns, so they are alien and outside their frames of reference, and all these people think they know is that guns are dangerous. And they are, if used improperly.

Let’s unpack this a bit.

First, her claim that “more people are killed by drunk drivers than by guns” is simply not true, regardless of the certainty in which she states it. It is telling that she rattles off such statistics without bothering to provide a source–telling only in the sense that she would not have found a source. She simply believes it to be so because it fits her narrative.

The facts, according to the Center For Disease Control, are that in 2013, 10,076 people were killed in “alcohol-impaired driving crashes.” In the same year the CDC reported that 33,636 people were killed by guns. It is true that, as of 2013, about the same number of people were killed by motor vehicles—33,804—as were killed by firearms—33,636. But it may well be the case that once the 2015 statistics are available, more people in America are killed by guns than by automobiles. (I wonder if tired will work up the nerve to gently correct her, since no one else is allowed. Be a man, tired! You can do it!)

But aside from telling fibs, the comparison of guns to automobiles comes up short in a few ways. First, automobile manufacturers are subject to regulations that increase the safety of automobiles. Seat belts, airbags and other safety features have evolved and become required features, all in response to injuries and deaths caused by automobile accidents. Cars have become increasingly safe as the years go by. In fact, the number of motor vehicle deaths per mile driven have decreased almost in a straight line ever since records began being kept in 1921. (The number of deaths per mile driven is less than half what it was in 1988.)

Conversely, the gun lobby—namely the NRA—stridently opposes any modifications to firearms that could make them safer. The classic example is what happened to Smith and Wesson a decade or so ago. They proposed a number of new safety measures for their weapons but were nearly put out of business by an NRA boycott. If the gun manufacturers (and owners) were as serious about gun safety as the automobile industry, we would see such safety features evolve and be embraced, if not demanded, by gun owners. Instead, we see an absolute refusal to adopt any such measures.

Second, conservatives who liken cars to guns gloss over the fact that in order to operate an automobile, one must become licensed. One must be trained and must demonstrate that he or she is capable of safely operating a vehicle, and must continuous renew their license over the course of their life. Unsafe drivers lose their ability to drive and can wind up in prison. Guns, on the other hand, can be legally purchased in many cases with no background checks or vetting of any kind, let alone proof that the purchaser is capable of safely handling the gun. As for automobiles themselves, many states require that they be inspected on an annual basis to insure that they are safe to operate.

Third, while the statement that automobiles are familiar to Americans–whereas guns are not–is true (only about 37% of Americans own guns), it ignores the most important point of all, which is that the intrinsic purpose of an automobile is transportation, whereas the sole intrinsic purpose of a handgun or assault rifle is to kill other human beings as efficiently as possible. The statement that guns are dangerous “if used improperly” is true, but it leaves unsaid the case in which they are used properly. The fact is that killing or maiming other human beings is using these weapons exactly as they were intended to be used.

On Saturday in Colorado Springs, a man armed with an AR-15 assault rifle shot and killed three people, apparently at random. The police surrounded and killed him minutes later. Of course, before he opened fire there wasn’t much to do about a guy walking around with an assault rifle because, hey, it’s perfectly normal in Colorado. Naomi Bettis, a neighbor who witnessed the killings, saw the gunman beforehand and thought something might be amiss.

Bettis said she recognized the gunman as her neighbor — whom she didn’t know by name — and that before the initial slaying she saw him roaming outside with a rifle. She called 911 to report the man, but a dispatcher explained that Colorado has an open carry law that allows public handling of firearms.

In other words: Nothing to see here, move along. Oh, wait…

Coming on the heels of a “Sovereign Citizen” shooting up a Georgia courthouse, we have two people in Las Vegas who murdered two police officers in cold blood, then went to Wal-Mart, killing another person before they ended their spree in a murder-suicide pact. These two incidents are not isolated, but are the direct result of the hate-filled rhetoric that the rabid right wing has directed toward the government and President Obama in particular.

It turns out that the Las Vegas killers were ardent believers in positions espoused by the most extreme people on the right; the “Patriot” movement. They yelled, “This is the start of the revolution” and draped a Gadsden Flag (a symbol appropriated by extremist groups in recent years) over the body of one of the police officers. The couple’s Facebook page railed against anyone not 100% supportive of unrestricted 2nd Amendment rights and demonizes the federal government. Here’s an example of one of their statements on the 2nd Amendment:

“This is a declaration to all Americans. If you don’t agree with and hold dear the second amendment of the united states constitution (sic), then you ,need to self-deport yourself to someplace where people like you can congregate,” he wrote on Jan. 1, 2013. “We are already on our way to tyranny, and your corrupt evil ass needs to leave this country before you incite another civil war.”

“Your (sic) a traitor to this nation and its people who hold their rights dear to them and deserve to die a traitors death.”

And here’s one on the threat of the federal government:

“We can hope for peace. We must, however, prepare for war,” Miller wrote on June 2. “To stop this oppression, I fear, can only be accomplished through bloodshed.”

The rampage in Las Vegas is what happens when violent rhetoric is taken to the extreme. Right wing politicians have increasingly embraced this rhetoric in order to compete for the votes of the Tea Party and extremist conservatives who dominate Republican primaries without regard to how they are aiding and abetting attacks like the two that occurred in the past week. Joni Ernst talks about cutting off the testicles of big spending politicians and literally shooting Obamacare, other candidates shooting Obamacare, and even one candidate shooting a drone.

Since 2008, we have also seen the right attempt to delegitimize the President, and by extension any action he has ever taken and his entire party, by calling into question his citizenship and his religion. Their reasoning is that if can cast enough doubt on his legitimacy, nothing he does can be considered legitimate. The ones who are out there doing this in the public square are doing it for partisan political reasons (because angry people vote), but they aren’t giving any thought to how they are stirring up the masses.

Extremists use the rhetoric they hear from Tea Party candidates and take it to heart, not realizing they are being agitated. They, unlike the political candidates, actually believe what they are hearing. This gives rise to groups like Oath Keepers, who flocked to the Bundy Ranch in anticipation of being able to stand on the front lines of the coming civil war. Some of those people were salivating at the chance to put a bullet into a government employee and, in their view, start the campaign to free America from the tyranny of the left.

You would be hard pressed to put comments by the Las Vegas murderers, Tea Party candidates, and right wing bloggers and commenters side-by-side and determine who said what. Bloggers joyfully anticipate a Second American Revolution, but will deny that they mean anything that has to do with violence. Right wing commenters will talk about how they must prepare for the day when the left takes one step too far and they are forced to defend themselves and their property. They will talk about the jack-booted thugs oppressing Cliven Bundy and make comparisons between Democratic policies and Nazi Germany, then express shock and dismay when the Las Vegas murderers equate police officers with Nazis.

I’m sure we are all familiar with comments like this one from the Las Vegas killers:

There is no greater cause to die for than liberty. To die for that cause is easy, to live for it is another matter. I will willingly die for liberty. Death, in a sense is freedom from tyranny. Death, is the easy way out. Most notably is the “suicide by cop” routine. Yes, standing before despots is dangerous and most likely does not end well for you. I know this, my wife knows this. Soon they will come for us, because they don’t like what we think, and what we say. They don’t like the fact that we, simply will not submit to fascist rule. We don’t have much, but we are willing to sacrifice everything…….for you, for your freedoms. Even if you wouldn’t let us have ours. We know who we are and what we stand for, do you?”

The people who generate this type of rhetoric, whether they are politicians, pundit, bloggers, or anonymous commenters, need to own these violent acts. Their words are directly responsible. The only difference between the talkers and the doers is that one group actually means what they say, and I don’t know how to tell them apart anymore.

FSM forbid anyone’s feeling should be hurt by calling people what they are.

Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said the shooter, Dennis Marx, walked into Forsyth County Administration Building on East Main Street at about 10:30 a.m. and opened fire. He was armed with an assault rifle, according to authorities. Piper said Marx threw stop sticks on the road so that cars could not approach.

The station reports that Marx has identified himself as a sovereign citizen, part of an anti-government group that has been tied to violent attacks on law enforcement around the country. He was due in court today to plead out on drug and weapons charges.

How many of these “Sovereign Citizens” were setting up sniper positions at the Bundy ranch?

If you’re like me, many of your friends took to Facebook to express themselves regarding last week’s tragedy at Isla Vista, California. Some posts expressed outrage, but none expressed surprise. There was a pervading sense of resignation, that this is just the way things are in America. It’s as though we feel powerless to do anything to prevent future occurrences.

Like virtually every other mass killing in the United States, this one involved guns. I realize that the first victims at Isla Vista were stabbed to death, but after that, Elliot Rodgers used his arsenal of semi-automatic weapons to kill, injure and inflict terror in his community.

Let’s be clear: Semi-automatic weapons are designed and manufactured for a single purpose, to kill human beings as efficiently as possible. The primary reason this country can’t impose reason controls on such devices is the National Rifle Association. The NRA is generally considered to be the most effective lobbying organization in America.

According to a 2012 article, the NRA spends ten times more money to lobby Congress than all of the anti-gun violence organizations combined. As a consequence, Congress does the bidding of the NRA rather than Americans as a whole. Nine of every ten Americans support expanding background checks on all firearms sales–something that even the majority of NRA members support. And yet, because the NRA as a lobbying organization opposes such efforts, Congress fails to act.

So, what to do? Those of us in favor of sensible and reasonable gun laws need to put our money where our mouths are. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, I began making a monthly donation to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. There are other similar organizations, but the Brady Campaign is one of the older ones. It’s unfortunate that these organizations are not united because we need them all working in concert in order to effectively countering the NRA.

The NRA claims that the way to counter gun violence is with more guns, but the United States already has more guns per capita than any other country, and far more shootings per capita than any other country. Why should we think that even more guns will produce a different result?

The NRA perpetuates the culture of gun violence that Rodgers found so intoxicating. After he brought home his first handgun, he wrote:

After I picked up the handgun, I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who’s the alpha male now, bitches? I thought to myself, regarding all of the girls who’ve looked down on me in the past.

The NRA stands for this kind of gun culture. It represents the gun manufacturers who profit from it. We need to counter the NRA in the only way Congress understands: with money and power. We need to honor the victims of these shootings.

We need to start now.

Tweet Of The Day

Posted: May 27, 2014 by watsonthethird in Current Events, Guns, Tweet Of The Day
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Most of us call guys like these “assholes.” Certainly not “men.”

Besides, what could go wrong? Oh, right. Someone could get shot.

A woman suffered a minor injury to her arm after a holstered handgun fell from a man’s pants, causing the weapon to discharge inside a business on the west side of Columbus.

At 8:03 p.m. Saturday, Columbus Police Chief Jon Rohde was inside Walmart, 2025 Merchants Mile, when he heard a gunshot inside the store. He located the man and woman involved and called for additional patrol units to assist, said Lt. Matt Myers, spokesman for Columbus Police Department.

Tony E. Ward, 56, of Columbus, told police that a .22-caliber handgun, for which he has a permit and was in a holster, fell from his waistband while he was shopping and discharged, Myers said.

More sub-human brilliance from a teaist.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/27/joe-the-plumber-guns_n_5397981.html?utm_hp_ref=politics