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“These Things Happen From Time To Time”: At Least 43 Instances This Year Of Somebody Being Shot By A Toddler 3 Or Younger

I don’t want to sound like some kind of weeny liberal nag, but I’m having trouble understanding how we’re supposed to use our guns in these cases to act like the good guys who are getting the bad guys with the guns.

This week a 2-year-old in South Carolina found a gun in the back seat of the car he was riding in and accidentally shot his grandmother, who was sitting in the passenger seat. This type of thing happens from time to time: A little kid finds a gun, fires it, and hurts or kills himself or someone else. These cases rarely bubble up to the national level except when someone, like a parent, ends up dead.

But cases like this happen a lot more frequently than you might think. After spending a few hours sifting through news reports, I’ve found at least 43 instances this year of somebody being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself.

I know, I know. I’m a moron.

Because only a moron believes that a two year old can pull the trigger on a gun, right?

You might as well tell me that we put a man on the moon or that real men eat arugula.

I’m sure you’ve had enough of pantywaist protesters, but I haven’t forgotten how the NRA reacted to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

After a weeklong silence, the National Rifle Association announced Friday that it wants to arm security officers at every school in the country. It pointed the finger at violent video games, the news media and lax law enforcement — not guns — as culprits in the recent rash of mass shootings.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A. vice president, said at a media event that was interrupted by protesters. One held up a banner saying, “N.R.A. Killing Our Kids.”

It’s hard to say that it’s the NRA killing our kids when it’s clearly our kids killing each other and themselves and their grandmothers. And this wouldn’t happen if we just put a good guy with a gun in the backseat of all of our cars to keep a watch on our toddlers and put a quick stop to any gang-related activity.

I’m sure you can go talk to the families who have been impacted by these tragedies and find them suffering from no regrets and no second thoughts about how safe their guns were keeping their families.

Oh, yes, I know the solution. Those stupid parents shouldn’t just leave their loaded guns lying around where any Tommy, Richie or Harry can pick them up and pop off a few quicks shots.

And girls shouldn’t have sex.

And boys shouldn’t horse around.

And say ‘no’ to drugs.

And no one gets hurt.

 

By: Martin Longman, Ten Miles Square, The Washington Monthly, October 16, 2015

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Gun Deaths, Gun Lobby, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Gun Industry Must Not Be Shielded From Liability”: Bloodshed Is Moving The Needle On The Question Of Liability For The Gun Industry

Hillary Clinton pounded Sen. Bernie Sanders for his gun rights record during the first Democratic presidential debate, all but calling him a BFF of the NRA.

Clinton’s argument was that Sanders’ support for the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which prohibited lawsuits against gun sellers and manufacturers for the unlawful misuse of a firearm, means that he isn’t serious about stemming gun violence in America.

With his vote, Clinton charged, Sanders supplied immunity from liability to the only industry in America that has it. “Everybody else has to be accountable but not the gun manufacturers,” she said. As a senator, Clinton had voted against the bill.

She might not have been aware that within hours of her comments, that law — long considered nearly insurmountable — had taken a major hit. A Milwaukee jury awarded two police officers more than $5 million in damages, holding the owners of a gun store negligent for selling a semi-automatic pistol purchased through a straw buyer.

One of the officers, Graham Kunisch, now retired, was said to not show any emotion when the civil verdict was reached, according to the New York Times. He couldn’t, his lawyer said, because of the brain injury he suffered after being shot in the head by the gun.

Staff at Badger Guns, the defendant, should have been more suspicious that the pistol was being bought for an 18-year-old who stood alongside the straw buyer, attorneys argued. The younger man, now serving 80 years for shooting the policemen, strode into the store with the buyer, helped pick out the gun, left the store to get more cash together for the purchase, and watched as the straw buyer fumbled filling out the paperwork. On the form, the buyer admitted that he wasn’t the intended owner but then changed his answer.

Red flags had been everywhere, the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued. The jury agreed. That almost never happens in America. One of the reasons it doesn’t is a 2005 law that Clinton says she intends to repeal (and that Sanders agrees needs to be revisited).

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed after major lobbying by the National Rifle Association. George W. Bush signed it. To the gun lobby, the bill was seen as necessary to protect the gun dealers and manufacturers from being bankrupted by a slew of cases being filed nationwide at the time.

Gun safety advocates had a strategy to move manufacturers toward devoting more attention to safety features on firearms and for sellers to improve ways to ensure that they were selling to legal buyers.

The idea was to treat gun safety as a matter of public health. Car manufacturers, after all, hadn’t eagerly added seatbelts and other safety devices to vehicles. They did so under public pressure and after being held accountable by the courts.

Passage of the immunity law circumvented that approach to the manufacture and sale of firearms.

But times have changed in the decade since the law was passed. The public is all too aware of the toll of firearm violence: dead children slaughtered in mass shootings, women murdered because men with records of domestic violence aren’t stopped from buying guns, a yearly toll of 19,000 gun suicides. Bloodshed is moving the needle on the question of liability for the gun industry. But only a smidgen.

The NRA has filled people’s heads with the nonsense that it is unfair to expect a seller to know whether a gun he sells will be used later in a crime. Really? Even if the gun is sold to a known criminal, someone under age or a person with a record of domestic violence?

What’s missing are the other pieces of smart gun safety. Gun shows should no longer be places where guns are bought and sold without any scrutiny. The tracking of guns that wind up at crime scenes must improve. Records of who should be barred from ownership need to be readily accessible and comprehensive. And the public needs to come to grips with the fact that there are no magic formulas to predict who might act out violently with a gun due to a mental health condition. Most people with mental illness are not violent.

A great sense of responsibility ought to come with being licensed to sell a product designed to take human life. It’s far past time that gun manufacturers and sellers come to grips with that moral and civic duty.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, October 16, 2015

October 17, 2015 Posted by | Gun Lobby, Gun Manufacturers, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sensible Gun Owners Should Abhor The NRA”: The NRA Has Elevated Firearms Ownership To A Religion

My father loved hunting game in the woods of rural Alabama. His idea of a good time involved getting up in the wee hours of a chilly fall morning and going out to sit for hours in a tree stand, waiting for a buck to come within range.

As a gun owner, he was not at all unusual among his friends and family members, many of whom kept pistols, rifles and shotguns. A veteran of Korea, he saw firearms as an essential tool.

But my father would not recognize today’s National Rifle Association or its many counterparts — a gun lobby that insists Americans ought to be free to carry their firearms into churches, schools, and bars. He would have thought that was a crazy idea that would make the world more dangerous, not safer.

He would have been horrified by the plague of mass shootings, the latest of which claimed nine innocent victims at Umpqua Community College in southern Oregon earlier this month. And he certainly would not have believed that the massacre could have been prevented if more of the faculty and students had been armed.

What has happened to responsible gun owners like my father? Where did the sane hunters go? Why aren’t they standing up to protest the outrageous politics of the NRA?

My father died in 1984, before the gun lobby became completely unhinged. Indeed, its political transformation into a network of firearms extremists has been so complete that many Americans don’t know that the NRA started out as an organization of sportsmen who taught marksmanship and gun safety skills.

In 1934, Karl Frederick, then NRA president, told Congress, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

Needless to say, the NRA has all but erased, Soviet-style, that part of its history from official records. By the late 1970s, the organization had started along a path of strident advocacy that has elevated firearms ownership to a religion. The organization and its several counterparts have formed a vast political network that threatens any politician who pleads for modest regulation, that insists on arming every man, woman and child, that feeds its supporters propaganda to fuel their paranoia. Its leaders have brainwashed their followers into believing that the government wishes to confiscate all guns and subjugate citizens, a proposition too crazy to tackle rationally (so I won’t).

But responsible gun owners certainly ought to be fighting back against that nonsense and demanding sensible politics from the gun lobby that purports to represent them. Why don’t they?

By 1982, the gun lobby had become so powerful that it was able to pass legislation that prevents the federal government from keeping a database linking firearms to their owners. In other words, the sort of information readily available about vehicles or houses is not available about guns. That makes tracing firearms used in crimes much more difficult.

The gun lobby has also managed to prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence as a public health hazard. As President Obama noted after the Umpqua massacre,

“We spend over a trillion dollars and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil. … And, yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”

My dad never carried a pistol on his person. He certainly didn’t think he should have one at church or at the school where he served as principal.

He didn’t want me to own a gun, either; he thought I’d be better off with a good burglar alarm and a big dog. He knew better than to think that more firearms equal enhanced safety.

What happened to sensible gun owners like him?

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, October 10, 2015

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Gun Lobby, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Byproduct Of A Tragic Myth”: You Don’t Need That Gun For Self-Defense

One of the most important pieces ever posted at Politico Magazine was written on January 14 by Evan DeFilippis and Devan Hughes. Titled The Myth Behind Defensive Gun Ownership, it’s worth revisiting again:

What do these and so many other cases have in common? They are the byproduct of a tragic myth: that millions of gun owners successfully use their firearms to defend themselves and their families from criminals. Despite having nearly no academic support in public health literature, this myth is the single largest motivation behind gun ownership. It traces its origin to a two-decade-old series of surveys that, despite being thoroughly repudiated at the time, persists in influencing personal safety decisions and public policy throughout the United States.

There is nothing beyond anecdotal evidence and one very flawed study suggesting that defensive use of firearms has benefits that outweigh the obvious societal drawbacks. The conclusion to the article needs to be ingrained into the DNA of the gun control debate:

The myth of widespread defensive gun use is at the heart of the push to weaken already near catatonic laws controlling the use of guns and expand where good guys can carry guns to bars, houses of worship and college campuses—all in the mistaken belief that more “good guys with guns” will help stop the “bad guys.” As Wayne LaPierre of the NRA railed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

But the evidence clearly shows that our lax gun laws and increased gun ownership, spurred on by this myth, do not help “good guys with guns” defend themselves, their families or our society. Instead, they are aiding and abetting criminals by providing them with more guns, with 200,000 already stolen on an annual basis. And more guns means more homicides. More suicides. More dead men, women and children. Not fewer.

In the latest mass shooting in Oregon, of course, the “good guy with a gun” hypothesis fell on its face. Just as the potential “good guy with a gun” in the Gaby Giffords shooting came very close to firing on the wrong man and thankfully kept his weapon in check, an armed veteran in Oregon also wisely chose not to fire his gun lest he cause greater danger to himself and others.

There is no reason to believe that guns serve much if any social benefit beyond a few news stories now and again that are massively promoted by the gun lobby to further entrench the myth of effective self-defense.

Comedian Jim Jefferies also exploded the “self-defense” myth in a blisteringly funny and effective 3-minute bit:

But sadly, the same false arguments will continue to be used by gun proponents, in the same way that false arguments about climate change, taxes and abortion are consistently used no matter how often they’re debunked. The American right has gone so far off the rails that reality is no longer a relevant boundary on discussion. As with supply-side economics, the benefits of gun culture are taken not on evidence but on almost cultic faith by the right wing and its adherents.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Wasington Monthly, October 4, 2015

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Lobby, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Watching The Second Amendment In Action”: Setting Gun Violence Apart From Other Public Health Risks

Like many of you, no doubt, I watched the studio-produced live video of two local television journalists being murdered in Virginia yesterday pretty soon after it happened. I might have also looked at the vastly more graphic killer-generated cellphone video of the event, but chose not to. Most media outlets soon stopped posting or linking to either video before long. At TNR, Jeet Heer explains why: there was no doubt who the perp was, and thus no real reason to distribute the video.

But also at TNR, Brian Beutler thinks otherwise:

The line between informing the public and macabre gratuitousness is murky, and staying on the right side of it requires great discretion and judgment. But rather than cleanse newscasts and websites of the on-air killing, producers and editors should make it easily available to their viewers and readers, because our society unfortunately needs vivid reminders of the awesome, life-stopping power of firearms.

In an abstract sense, everyone knows guns are deadly, in the same way everyone knows cigarettes are deadly. But our political culture—the conservative faction of it, at least—sanitizes the way guns end life in a way that sets gun violence apart from other public health risks….

When a bullet pierces human flesh, that body becomes extremely ill right away, no less than when a body flies through a windshield or experiences a severe electric shock. But where government actively regulates cars and construction sites—indeed is applauded for doing so—it simultaneously takes steps to abstract guns from the harm they cause, and silence public officials who refuse to play along. Last year, dozens of senators opposed President Barack Obama’s Surgeon General nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, on the grounds that he described gun violence as a public health issue and, in his private capacity, had supported efforts to further regulate firearms.

Murthy was eventually confirmed, but barely, and only because Democrats had disarmed the filibuster as a means of blocking executive branch nominees.

What Beutler doesn’t mention here is that he was a gunshot victim not long ago; his was the body that became “extremely ill right away,” and he might well have died. He wrote about the incident at Salon back in 2013, mainly to rebut the idea that gun violence justified racial profiling. But his descriptions of the shock he went into and his gradual horrifying realization after surgery of the damage wrought by three bullets was unforgettable.

So this is one person who has experienced the downside of the Second Amendment rights that make America a uniquely gun-toting country and wants the rest of us to get at least a small glimpse of it as well, instead of treating the shooting of human beings with guns as an abstraction or glorifying it as the essence of liberty.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 27, 2015

August 28, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Deaths, Gun Violence | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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