Cop Shootings Prove The Need For Gun Control.

One of the claims made by the NRA (National Rifle Assh*les) when pushing for expansion of open carry laws is that guns are safe in the hands of individuals who have been properly trained in the use of firearms. Well, either that is false or most of our gun-wielding cops have been poorly trained. In just the past few weeks, cops have gunned down the unarmed, the mentally ill, a TV cameraman and a toy gun-toting shopper at Wal-Mart.

If cops can be so careless and clueless, it’s no wonder there are so many gun deaths each year caused by armed civilians.

If we can’t weed out dangerous cops in the hiring process, what chance do we have of keeping the criminally insane from buying and carrying guns without universal background checks? And, if the problem is caused by police expectations that everyone they confront (even in a routine traffic stop) is armed, then it’s clear that we have too many guns on the streets for our own safety. The obvious solution is to end the sale of handguns and conduct a nationwide buyback program as Australia has successfully done. While we’re at it, we should also ban military-style weaponry such as semi-automatic assault rifles and 50 calibre sniper rifles. There is no conceivable need for these weapons in the hands of civilians. Even if you’re paranoid enough to think a tyrannical government is coming to enslave you, these guns won’t help. The government has bigger and more lethal weaponry as already proven by the police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Only when we reduce the number of firearms on the streets can we expect police to rely on batons and tasers before turning to lethal force as a last resort.

As for the NRA claim that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” keep in mind that the firing range instructor killed when a 9-year-old girl lost control of an Uzi set on full automatic was killed by the gun. Not by the girl. So, too, are most of the more than 3,000 kids killed by guns each year.

There is no arguable reason for this nonsense to continue. We’ve already established that the Second Amendment has limits. We have drawn the line at allowing citizens to obtain fully-automatic firearms, bombs and nuclear weapons. We can re-draw the line to ban semi-automatics and to prevent the carrying of firearms unless there is a legal, demonstrable need.

That is, unless you actually enjoy watching reports of the daily gun battles on our streets and mass shootings in our schools.

Horrified By Yet Another Mass Shooting? Get Used To It.

In the history of our nation, our individual citizens have never possessed such lethality. Guns are available to anyone, even children. At the same time, our federal, state and local governments have cut back on social programs, including mental health programs. The combination of the two is certain to ensure that more mentally ill people will be able to act on their inner demons with extreme violence and force.

The young man in Santa Barbara is a prime example. His parents knew he was mentally disturbed. They desperately sought help from law enforcement. But, under the  circumstances, there was little anyone could do to stop him. He was able to convince police that he was not a danger. And anyone who is mentally ill can buy a gun as long as they have not been previously confined. So he was able to legally purchase three semi-automatic handguns and more than 400 rounds of ammunition.

As a result, a number of promising young lives were snuffed out. Even those who survived or witnessed the event will be forever changed.

Responsibility for these deaths falls directly on the gun industry, the National Rifle Association, other gun groups and their members. (To be clear, I have owned guns most of my life, but I’ve never carried one and I’ve never embraced the anti-government paranoia of some gun owners.) Because of the NRA, we have been unable to reduce the lethality of available guns; unable to conduct universal background checks; unable to track the transfer of guns between individuals; unable to keep records of the number of shootings and deaths from guns. Thanks to the NRA, in some states pediatricians are even banned from discussing the potential problems of guns in the home with parents.

Had it not been for the greed and paranoia of NRA leaders, the parents of Elliot Rodgers might have been able to deny the shooter’s ability to obtain guns by notifying authorities of the potential danger and entering that information into a database to prevent him from purchasing a weapon. Had it not been for government cutbacks on mental health programs, his parents might have been able to force the young man to get help.

Where has the money for mental health programs gone? Most states have put the money into prisons. Indeed, prisons have become the American substitute for many social programs. By allowing people to commit crimes, we can house them in cells where they receive no treatment and no counseling. They are a danger to no one but the detention officers and themselves. And they contribute to the economy by generating profits for private prison corporations.

Sure, this system is inhumane. Sure, it results in more crimes and more deaths of innocent people. Sure, the system causes unimaginable pain to the families and friends of the mentally ill. Sure, the rest of the world is puzzled by such callousness. But this is the USA. We’re the world’s only super power. We can be as stupid and as mean as we want!

So get used to mass shootings. Get used to the sensationalized news stories. Get used to the deaths and the severe wounds. Get used to the anguish of families and communities. Get used to the mourning. Cover your eyes and ears to the horror. Close your minds to the obvious solutions. This isn’t about right and wrong. This is about maximizing the profits of the gun industry. It’s about business, power and politics.

What Good Are Smart Guns With So Many Dumb Gun Owners?

The National Rifle Association is apoplectic over attempts to market so-called smart guns by one of their own. They have threatened violence against the guns’ inventor and every retailer who has attempted to sell them. And they have shouted down those who support the guns by calling them just another attempt by the left to “take away their guns.”

Ordinarily, the fact that the NRA opposes something would automatically make me support it. But, on this issue, I have mixed emotions. On one hand, smart guns that can only be used by their owners wearing a watch-like device would likely prevent the deaths of children who innocently believe guns are playthings. On the other hand, the sale of these guns may give us a false sense of security. Don’t forget. Most of the guns would still be in the hands of the paranoid and mentally ill – the vast majority of those who purchase handguns today.

Smart guns wouldn’t have prevented the murder of Trayvon Martin or the movie-goer who was killed for sending a text to his young daughter. They wouldn’t have prevented a man from setting a trap and laying in wait to cruelly murder two unarmed teens who broke into his basement. They wouldn’t have prevented the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary, at the Aurora movie theater, at Fort Hood, or at Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ Congress on the Corner meeting.

Certainly preventing the use of a firearm by someone other than its owner is an admirable goal. But it is only a beginning. Those who favor responsible gun reforms should view smart guns as only a first step. The bigger issue is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and those with a history of violence; to stop the marketing of candy-colored guns to children; to stop the sale of semi-automatics to gun nuts for use against law enforcement and the government; to stop the sale of sniper rifles and silencers; to stop the development and sale of plastic guns intended to escape detection; and to undo the so-called “carry everywhere” laws that make it legal to carry guns to bars, schools, events – anywhere that doesn’t have full security including metal detectors and gun storage lockers.

The Cliven Bundy armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management gives us a glimpse of the future of our nation with the current gun laws. Smart guns won’t stop the militia, domestic terrorists and the criminally insane from bullying and killing. The only way to do that is through stricter gun laws, gun buybacks and the end of our nation’s insane love affair with guns.

Pennsylvania School Attack Highlights The Need For Gun Control.

Following the school stabbing incident in Pennsylvania, the nation’s gun lobby is almost certain to draw comparisons to school shootings. They’ll likely claim that guns are no more dangerous than knives or clubs. They’ll point to the number of stabbings and beatings in the US. They’ll likely say that a crazed person with a weapon – any weapon – is dangerous.

There’s only one flaw with those arguments. In the Pennsylvania attack, no one has died. Yes, 21 children and a security guard were cut or stabbed. But only three are still hospitalized, and they are expected to recover. Contrast that with Columbine, Sandy Hook Elementary School and dozens of other school attacks in which attackers armed with semi-automatic guns quickly and efficiently killed numerous victims. Guns, especially semi-automatic guns with extended clips, make killing quicker and easier. That’s why they are the weapons of choice for law enforcement and our military.

Imagine if the Pennsylvania teen had brought a semi-automatic assault weapon to school instead of two knives. How many parents would be planning funerals? How many young lives would have been lost?

Weapons such as knives are up close and personal. The person wielding a knife relies on surprise. The victims have to be within reach. So, unlike guns, they give victims an opportunity to run away. Moreover, it’s much more difficult to attack multiple victims with a knife. Attackers with knives are easier to disarm. And, if first aid is immediately available, the wounds are seldom lethal.

To prevent more Columbines and Sandy Hooks, we need to make access to guns more difficult. We need universal background checks for gun purchases. We need gun registration so we can hold gun owners responsible if the weapons fall into the wrong hands. We need to ban semi-automatics and extended clips. We need to track gun serial numbers. All of this can be done. Following a mass shooting, Australia’s conservative government placed severe restrictions on guns. It bought back millions of guns and destroyed them. As a result, gun deaths in Australia are exceedingly rare.

What makes the US so different that we’re willing to accept the gun deaths of 3,000 children per year?

More Guns = More Homicides.

Without the heavily-financed propaganda from the NRA, it’s doubtful that anyone would ever question the relationship. But since the gun industry has spent hundreds of millions to convince us otherwise, it has become the job of academia to bring us back to reality.  That’s just what Professor Michael Siegel from Boston University and his two coauthors have done in an exhaustive study to be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

The study looked at other academic literature which had concluded that where there are more guns there is more homicide. It compared gun availability and homicides using data from 26 developed nations. It analyzed the relationship between gun ownership and homicides using data from 50 states over a 10-year period.  The study even took into account many other factors including race, poverty and overall levels of violence.

The study’s inescapable conclusion is that more guns equal more homicides.

The plain fact is that guns make it easier to kill others and yourself. When someone snaps, guns become the weapon of choice. And thanks to the NRA, guns are readily available in every US city and every state.

Further, the act of concealing and carrying a gun doesn’t make us safer. It endangers us. That should be clear to everyone following the mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. The shooter, who had a history of gun violence and mental illness, was able to easily purchase a shotgun because all charges had been dropped and thus were not in the national database.

Although he entered the Navy Yard armed with only a double-barreled shotgun, he was able to acquire a semi-automatic pistol and an AR-15 assault weapon. How? The bad guy with a gun shot the good guys with guns and took their weapons.

So much for Wayne LaPierre’s post-Newtown argument.

And, in that regard, the Navy Yard shooting was not unusual. Data shows that most people who carry guns are more likely to be shot with their own guns than to use their guns to shoot an attacker. This is simply common sense. A gun is not a defensive weapon. It’s an offensive weapon. It cannot stop bullets. It can only stop another shooter if you see the shooter first, recognize the threat first and shoot first.

If we are to ever stop mass shootings and reduce gun homicides, we must reduce the number and lethality of guns. There is no justifiable reason why a private citizen should have more firepower and higher capacity magazines than law enforcement.  And there is no reason why we can’t have universal background checks for all gun purchases. Neither of these actions are a breach of the Second Amendment.

At the same time we have to look in the mirror and change our culture. Perhaps our movies and video games would not be so violent if we weren’t at war all the time. Maybe we would have less mental illness if we weren’t sending our citizens off to war zones, traumatizing them and returning them to our streets without careful examination. And maybe we’d have fewer of the criminally ill if we treated mental illness for what it really is…illness. There should be no shame or repercussions for a troubled individual seeking therapy anymore than there is for someone seeking treatment for cancer.

We shouldn’t stigmatize them. But we shouldn’t make it easy for them to purchase guns, either.

How Many Mass Shootings Will It Take?

Recent polls have shown that, after being mired in continuous conflicts for the past 12 years, Americans seem to have lost their appetite for war. Various polls found that more than 6 in 10 Americans were against any form of military action in Syria.

But we’re in the midst of our own war right here at home.

Monday’s shooting at the Washington, DC Navy Yard is just the latest in a long line of mass shootings in America. There has been an average of one a month since early in 2009! The victims have included theater-goers, citizens visiting with their congressional representative, elementary school children…even dozens of military and military contractors. In addition, there are many individual gun homicides – more than 11,000 per year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reaction from the NRA and other ideologues is to fight any form of common-sense measures such as universal background checks and bans on high-capacity magazines which allow mass shooters to fire up to 100 rounds as fast as they can pull the trigger without the need to reload. In order to intimidate anyone contemplating such measures, the NRA and other gun nuts targeted two of the Colorado legislators who actually had the intestinal fortitude to help pass such legislation. That may intimidate politicians, but it shouldn’t intimidate the majority of Americans who favor universal background checks.

After all, we’re the ones who elect these people.

Of course, the NRA responds to each shooting by first saying, “This is not the time to discuss gun legislation.” Then, after the shock from each event dies down, they come out with another lame statement such as that following the Sandy Hook massacre. “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Obviously, that is utter nonsense.

At both the Navy Yard and Fort Hood, there were dozens, if not hundreds, of armed and trained guards in the immediate area.  At Fort Hood, 13 were killed and 32 were wounded before the armed good guys could stop the shooter. At the Navy Yard, at least 12 were killed before the shooter was stopped.  Those numbers are not significantly different from the mass shootings in which victims were unarmed.

By comparison there were 13 fatalities at the Columbine High School, 6 at the Tucson “Congress on Your Corner” event, 12 at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, and 26 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. (The number of deaths at Sandy Hook likely had more to do with the size of magazines used by the shooter and the ages of the victims.)

Moreover, the most thorough study to date on the availability and presence of firearms by Professor Michael Siegel and two coauthors at Boston University clearly shows that more guns equal more gun deaths, either by suicide or homicide.

In other words, good guys with guns do not diminish gun homicides.

As for the NRA’s fear that universal background checks will lead to a national gun registry, there is already a gun registry. Not by the government. By the NRA!

Another specious argument by the NRA and its cowboy wannabes is that gun ownership is the only deterrent for a tyrannical government. That presumes that hunting rifles, shotguns, handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons could deter a government military with tanks, fighter jets, bombers, attack helicopters and drones. Besides, if you’re so fearful of our democratically-elected government that you’re watching the skies for the black helicopters, you should just go ahead and join the Sovereign Citizens movement, renounce your US citizenship and move abroad. You’re too paranoid and too dumb to remain in the US!

It only took 17 mass shootings in Australia before the Australian government banned semi-automatic weapons and most other guns. We have nearly that many mass shootings a year and we can’t even pass universal background checks. Are we that much different than our Aussie friends?