Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

While I was away...

It was great to get away and enjoy some family fun at Disney World. Our family trip was a wonderful get-away with good weather- not too hot, sometimes cloudy, even a little drizzle and fog- but nothing that kept us from enjoying the rides and the other attractions at the various parks of Disney World. As I looked around I saw people mostly having fun. There were the crying kids, of course. There were people of all ages from all over the world walking or with strollers and wheel chairs and wheeled carts causing "traffic jams". There was lots of waiting in line which is part of the "Disney Experience". Staff were cheerful and efficient as was the Disney resort where we stayed. All in all, very impressive. I saw no guns and I saw no need for guns in the "happiest place on earth."

While I was away, there were the usual number of shooting incidents. This one in Florida was particularly awful, if one can be worse than another:
"There were few answers on Thursday about what led a 12-year-old boy to allegedly shoot his two brothers Wednesday night, killing one and injuring the other, before turning the gun on himself.
Investigators say Kevin Pimentel, remembered as a quiet kid who played with his iPad on the school bus and was in gifted classes, shot and killed his 6-year-old brother, Brady, and injured his 16-year-old brother, Trevor, inside their home. He then shot himself, committing suicide, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference Thursday morning.
Trevor was shot in the leg and remains hospitalized with nonlife-threatening injuries.
Detectives believe the incident was precipitated by an argument while the boys were cooking inside their Sugar Lane park mobile home at 16916 Bachmann Ave. But Nocco said investigators did not yet know what led to the argument or what it was about."
Arguments between children should not end up in a shooting that takes lives. This is insane. And we can do something about it if we get people who buy guns to understand that guns are a risk if owned and certainly need to be stored unloaded and safely away from the hands of children and teens. But our American gun culture has become so cavalier, in large part because the gun lobby has pushed for the "normalization" of guns everywhere, that people actually believe guns will keep them safer. The opposite is true of course.

And while I was away, an Arizona state Senator proposed a mandatory church attendance law to stop gun violence. I'm not kidding. I don't make this stuff up.

Two Miami children were shot and injured in separate incidents with no one yet arrested.

Another road rage incident, this time in Pennsylvania, resulted in the arrest of a man carrying a handgun in his car. Guns in cars- loaded and left out where they can be easily accessed- are a bad idea. Other such incidents have ended in death.

This child shooting happened in Pennsylvania.
 Again, one more toddler who gained access to a gun and shot and injured himself. Where is common sense? All were lucky this did not end in yet another tragic death as we are seeing more and more often in America.

Guns should not be used to randomly shoot innocent people on freeways as they are driving. This latest incident in the Kansas City, Missouri area reminds us that there are way too many people with guns who shouldn't have them and who use them to terrorize the public. Guns are like that. They can be used to terrorize people. From the article:
“In my 18 years as a police officer, I've seen a lot of things and this was absolutely one of the scariest things that I've witnessed,” said Jimenez. “He had no regards for public safety, he definitely was trying to kill police men, and citizens.”
Jimenez said police did not stop traffic because he felt other motorists would be sitting targets.
It's also a reminder that we are doing little to stop people who shouldn't have guns from getting them anyway. America is a country with weak gun laws and an insane gun culture. This is what we get.

Just before I left on my trip, States United to Prevent Gun Violence produced an amazing video of a mock gun shop set up in New York City. You can watch the reaction of prospective gun buyers once they hear the history of the gun they are considering. Guns have a history and we need a history lesson in order to understand the risks of guns. Here's the video:



You can see more at the website, Guns With History. Also you can see the freak-out by the gun rights extremists about this video. One can only imagine that if gun buyers understand what can happen with the gun they are about to bring home, they may just decide not to buy one. What would happen to profits if that were the case? But when profit comes at the expense of human lives, we have a serious problem. It's an epidemic of gun violence that can only be cured by a change to our national conversation about gun safety and ways to make us all safer from devastating gun violence.

Speaking of devastating gun violence, a cartoon on a Cincinatti media site showed the shooting deaths March 20-March 25 and called it March Madness. Indeed it is-14 gun injuries or deaths in 5 days. It's just another average day in America.

The corporate gun lobby is pushing for permitless carrying of guns in states all over the country. It looks like the Kansas legislature will pass such a bill. On the face of it, how does this even make any common sense? No matter what the gun lobby tries to say about this, it means that anyone will be able to carry a gun if the law passes- felon or not; domestic abuser or not. From the article:
“Carrying a gun is a lifestyle,” said Rep. Travis Couture-Lovelady, R-Palco. “The government should trust its citizens.”
Why trust everyone with a gun when you have no idea if that person can pass a background check or should be carrying that gun? Remember that many guns are purchased without background checks from private sellers at gun shows, on the Internet or other venues. That means that a gun bought without a background check, potentially by someone who is a prohibited purchaser, could then be carried around without a permit which would require a more complete background check by law enforcement. What's to stop a felon or domestic abuser or dangerously mentally ill person from carrying a gun in public? Who would know the difference between a "law abiding" carrier with no bad intent or someone with bad intent carrying a gun to inflict injury or death on others? But even those "law abiding" legal gun carriers have been known to shoot others.

Conceal carry permit holders have been responsible for more than a few homicides since the laws have passed in so many states. The Violence Policy Center is keeping track of gun carriers who have killed other people. Take a look and tell me if we should just trust anyone carrying a gun to be responsible with that gun. But I digress.

Oh, and speaking of the American gun culture, the NRA's own Ted Nugent is up to his usual rude and offensive stuff. It will be more than interesting to see what else Nugent has to say at the upcoming NRA convention in Nashville. Remember, the organization most associated with gun rights in America keeps this guy on their Board of Directors meaning they must endorse this kind of talk.

And last, but not least, the gun rights extremists are so paranoid about us gun safety reform folks that they managed to create a Google app that revealed personal information about gun violence prevention advocates. Thankfully it has been taken down. But these folks seem to think anything goes when it comes to their rights. Responsibilities apparently don't come with those rights. A civil debate and discussion can happen about the issue of gun violence prevention. But perhaps that is what these folks are afraid of. If a civil and reasoned debate based on facts and research about the causes and effects of gun violence occurs, it may not come out on the side of guns everywhere for everyone. Is that what this is about? It's past time to find out.

One of my critics who reads this blog wondered why I report shooting incidents here. What good does that do? What it does is to expose the notion that more guns are making us safer. Because if more people understand that shootings like the ones I post here are happening everywhere every day, they may just join the cause of gun safety reform. Because the shootings happen everywhere, they can happen anywhere and to people we all know and love. And that may lead more people to support common sense gun legislation and common sense conversation about gun safety reform. A conversation about gun safety reform that could lead to laws to keep guns away from people who shouldn't have them is not mutually exclusive to protecting gun rights. This is not either/or. It's both and it's about saving lives.

When the gun lobby pushes for no restrictions on guns or who owns them, it makes it hard to keep the discussion civil and based on fact. Restrictions are necessary for a civil society. An armed society is definitely not a polite society. So yes, while I was away, a lot of shooting incidents happened as well as activity by the gun rights extremists to arm everyone and pretend that mandatory church attendance will solve our gun violence epidemic. Let's talk about what will really work to have safer communities.

Speaking of safe communities, I heard no gunshots at Disney World except for the Indiana Jones show at Epcot. The only bangs I heard were at various attractions and shows and most particularly at the light and laser show at Epcot which was, as advertised, spectacular.



You can also read this post at commongunsense@wordpress.com where I am also cross posting what I write here.


UPDATE:

I must add one more shooting incident to my list, though there are many more. In Kentucky, a 5 year old unlocked the gun cabinet, took out a gun and shot his sister. The little girl will live apparently. But kids are curious about all kinds of things. Perhaps people should re-consider whether they should have guns at all at home when children are small or even when they are teens. The risks are great.



Friday, March 20, 2015

Gun laws in Florida- and guns at Disney World


I think we all know that Florida's gun laws leave something to be desired. I will be traveling there with my grandchildren to visit Disney World and I'm looking forward to it. Like everyone else, we understand Disney World to be a happy place where people are safe from a lot of things that happen in the outside world. It is, as is intimated by the title, a world of its' own. But just in case, Disney has issued some common sense safety advise so your experience will be a good one. Here's a list of incidents and "altercations" at Disney World. See if you can find a reason for carrying a gun in the parks.


The Brady Campaign has issued its' new state report card along with a video and website called CrimAdvisor. You can watch the video here:



According to CrimAdvisor, Florida is one of the best states in the country for felons to buy, carry and traffic guns. No surprises here really. According to the Brady Campaign's rating system, Florida gets a score of -20.5 out of a possible 100 points. You read that right. It's a minus 20.5. You can see a more detailed explanation of the report in the link above. Also Florida's rate of gun deaths per 100,000 at 12.49 ranks the state as 20/50. Since the nation's first Stand Your Ground law was passed in 2005, according to this article, gun deaths have increased in Florida. Here is one more article among quite a few about Florida's recent increase in the gun death rate. States that have high gun ownership rates and weak gun laws also have higher rates of gun deaths.

I noticed a post somewhere a while ago with a comment from a gun rights extremist saying that he carries his gun at Disney World in spite of Disney World warning on its' website that guns are permitted inside. Never mind. These guys know better than anyone else that they can and will carry wherever they want. And if they can't they will pass laws to make sure they do. It's an insane view of the world and is not making us safer. Disney World can prohibit guns in their parks.  In 2013 a grandmother on an Animal Kingdom ride found a loaded gun. She was with her grandchild. This is not the experience I want to have with my grandchildren. From the article:
The discovery of a gun aboard a ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom has raised questions about what park security does to keep firearms from slipping inside and whether its no-weapons policy for visitors is clear.
A grandmother handed a Cobra .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol to a park attendant Sunday after getting off the Dinosaur ride. "My grandma found it in her seat," her young grandson told park security. 
Minutes later, an apologetic Angelo Lista returned to claim the firearm, which was loaded with five hollow-point bullets — but none was in the chamber. He told the Sentinel it had fallen out of his buttoned back pocket during the bumpy ride. He was escorted out of the theme park.
He returned to the parks the next day without the gun.
Lista, 44 of Royal Palm Beach said he had no idea Disney prohibited guns on its property, raising questions about whether the company's restrictions on firearms are explicit enough.
Disney spokeswoman Kathleen Prihoda said in a statement Wednesday that the company's policy is no guns are permitted. The company's website says "weapons of any kind" are not allowed on Disney property.
Disney officials would not say whether there are posted signs on property spelling out their restrictions. Prihoda would not say how often security intercepts a firearm brought into the parks or what happens when a gun owner is found to have one on property. She wouldn't discuss any security measures.
The incident may not indicate a broader safety gap, said Dr. Abraham Pizam, dean of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.
"Does it happen? Yes, it does. Does it happen frequently? Absolutely not," Pizam said. "Security is one of the issues that if it works, everyone takes it for granted. But it if doesn't work, everyone is a critic."
Thousands of people are free to walk through the parks' front turnstiles uninhibited unless they are carrying bags. Disney employees inspect and feel the bags for anything on the restricted list. There are no metal detectors at the entrances, and guests are rarely searched.
This bears repeating: "He returned to the parks the next day without the gun." So the obvious question here is why this man NEEDED a gun while at Disney World. After stupidly leaving his loaded gun on a ride and getting caught, he evidently decided that gun wasn't so important after all. Isn't Disney the happiest place on earth? What's the fear? What's going to happen at Disney World that would require a gun? Most likely nothing. But this is the world of the gun rights extremists. They have been led to falsely believe that there is danger around every corner. The corporate gun lobby is masterful at deceiving people into this view of the world. Why? It drives up gun sales. Follow the money.

Let's take a look at some pretty well known shootings in Florida:

There are many others. After the Stand Your Ground law passed, a long list of victims whose shooters have claimed self defense is available for our perusal. Take a look at this compilation of photos and information about shooting victims provided by the Tampa Times. I think we can safely say that blood is running in the streets. The gun lobby denies this of course. But facts matter. Real people are being shot every day. They have names, families, and most were contributing members of society whose potential will never be reached. 

This is sobering information for visitors to Florida like myself. Let's hope that all will be safe in the parks of Disney World. It will be interesting to see if anyone is noticeably carrying a gun around where my family and I will be enjoying the sun and the fun. I think most people believe in common sense when it comes to guns at Disney World. There is no need for loaded guns in a place where so many families from all over the world are gathered for enjoyment. Even gun rights extremists must believe this.

And I do like this image, courtesy of the Brady Campaign's CrimAdvisor site.




Cross posted at commongunsense.wordpress.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The affects of Minnesota's worst school shooting, Red Lake, 10 years later

(This has been cross posted at my commongunsense blog on Word Press. Comments will be moderated there.)


Broken hearts. Broken dreams. Broken spirits. A broken community. It's been 10 years since the worst school shooting in Minnesota- the Red Lake shooting. Ten years ago the teen shooter went to the home of his grandfather, stole his service weapons, killed his grandfather and his girlfriend and proceeded to his school. There he shot and killed 7 more and himself at the school. 5 were left injured.

This morning I heard a story on Minnesota Public Radio about the continued after effects of the March 21, 2005 Red Lake school shooting. The title of the article is what caught my attention- "Feeling scars at Red Lake, 10 years later". From the interview ( which you can listen to as well as read):
The day has rippled across the Red Lake Indian Reservation since then. Today, about 6,000 tribe members live on the reservation, and just about every resident in those miles of stark landscape lost a friend or a family member, a loss that continues to sting.
At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting since Columbine, and it remains the largest mass homicide in Minnesota history. Including Weise, 10 people died. More, like May, were wounded, and many more saw things they can't forget. (...) 
Ten years ago, May was tall and strong and just getting to the age when people take you seriously in the Red Lake Nation. He played football and basketball, and he lifted weights in his free time.
By 18, he figured he'd have a real shot at a football scholarship, and a ticket off the reservation.
And he was in love. He planned to marry Alicia White, a girl in his class.
On the third Monday of March, his life shifted. Jeff Weise came into his classroom and shot five students and a teacher. May saw Alicia die. He saw his friend Dewayne Michael Lewis drop and then he charged Weise with a pencil, and was himself shot in the face. The bullet cut downward, ripping through nerves and lodging by his spine.
The last thing he remembers, he was on the floor with blood in his mouth.
Later in the story, one of the FBI agents, first on the awful scene said this as he reflected back on the day ten years ago:
"I learned that kids are capable of anything," he said, "that they're capable of planning." 
The fact that kids can get their hands on guns and cause this much tragedy and affect the lives of so many is an American tragedy.

Others are interviewed for this first part of a poignant series on the devastation left after a shooting that  took the lives of 10, including the shooter. It's hard to read how the physical and emotional scars still remain- how the lives of so many were affected and how victims and survivors live with the trauma. Even law enforcement officers are traumatized and suffer life long problems after a mass shooting such as the one at Red Lake. Scenes like this are horrific and sometimes I wonder if the gun rights extremists recognize this. At some level they must. But their answer is so often that another gun would have solved the problem- particularly a "good guy with a gun".

I am always puzzled and dismayed by this response to national mass shooting tragedies. Is there empathy for the victims? Do some on the side of gun rights believe this could never happen to them so why get upset and try to prevent more similar shootings? Since the Red Lake shooting in 2005 there have been dozens more deadly school shootings and many other gun incidents in our schools. Yet, we have been unable as a country to come together to have a civil national conversation about how we can prevent more of them. Surely passing some common sense gun laws such as requiring background checks on all gun sales would prevent some of the crime guns from getting into the hands of those who shouldn't have them. We do know that the majority of the public supports this idea and understands that a measure like this won't interfere with their own rights to own a gun for self defense and hunting. And the benefit is that it could prevent at least some shootings. But the corporate gun lobby has instilled fear into our public leaders who then become complicit in lack of action.

But it's more than lack of strong background checks. It's a gun culture where those who have them often don't take safety measures to prevent those who shouldn't have them from getting them anyway. This gun culture is one of often cavalier attitudes towards guns as if they are not actually deadly weapons that can kill other human beings. Some say they are just "tools". Tools for what? It turns out that they are tools for killing innocent people. Guns are deadly weapons designed to kill other human beings and pose a risk to those who own them.

The Red Lake shooter knew his grandfather had service weapons that were apparently unlocked so provided easy access. Way too often the gun used in a mass shooting or other shooting comes from the home of the shooter or a close relative. The other notorious 2003 school shooting in Minnesota at Rocori High School was also a case of the young shooter accessing the gun of his law enforcement father.

Both of these shooters were diagnosed at some point with mental illness by health care professionals. Mental illness, teens and guns have been a theme in American school and other shootings. What should we, as a country do to help prevent people like this from gaining access to guns? One simple measure is storing guns safely- locked securely, unloaded.

Obviously improving our mental health services to teens and adults would go a long ways towards stopping some tragedies before they happen. But the easy access of guns just has to be in the conversation. The fact that it is often shoved to the bottom of the list is the measure of how insidious is our gun culture.

Mass shootings haunt the victims, survivors and the communities in which they occur. Shootings cost Americans greatly, not only financially, but some suffer life long disabilities as a result, or PTSD and other emotional problems. In this story, addiction to drugs and alcohol and mental illness also have plagued some of the victims. Life goes on- but for some it is not at all the life they hoped for or were planning.

It is important to listen to and read about these poignant stories of survival. Gun violence is insidious and affects more than just the primary victims and their survivors. There is a huge cost to our gun violence epidemic. How many more will pay before we demand action and changes that can make a difference? We are better than this.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why the guns for self defense argument just doesn't work or "This shot's for you"

(This post is cross-posted at commongunsense.wordpress.com.)

clip_art_beer_can
As my readers know, I write often about stupid and dangerous things that happen with guns- and often by "law abiding" gun owners. So here are just a few for your entertainment.
First- this article lists 5 incidents since 2010 where male gun carriers have shot their private parts. Seriously- I don't make this stuff up. From the article:
The Internet is abuzz this week with the unfortunate mishap of one security guard in Trinidad who accidentally shot his dick off with a .38 firearm. That sucks, but this isn’t the first time that a potential Darwin Award nominee robbed himself of manhood. At least five similar incidents have been reported in the United States within the last three years.
If these cases don’t sway macho man constitutionalists to support gun control, then I don’t know what.
The language is not mine but that of the writer of the article. But it's graphic enough. You can read the 5 incidents for yourself. There are quite a few others out there of guns falling out of pants pockets or being left in men's washrooms by "accident" because having a gun in a holster when "doing your business" just must be pretty inconvenient. Anyway, these things happen. Why do they happen? Are there just too many irresponsible gun owners carrying guns around who shouldn't be? Are we not letting people know how risky it is to carry a loaded gun around? The gun lobby makes it seem as if having that gun with you will save you or someone from certain death or being robbed, or whatever they can scare up. This is what happens when fear and paranoia drive the discussion about a serious national public health epidemic. For surely, these guys have had major health costs, physical disabilities and long term emotional difficulties after their shooting incidents.
Second, I want to illustrate how when a gun is at the ready, simple arguments between friends or relatives can turn ugly quickly. Guns and alcohol don't go together well as we have already discussed a lot on this blog. But when these 2 friends argued about whether a "Bud" or a Busch would be the beer of choice, one of them got shot. Seriously. I don't make this stuff up. From the article:
An argument between a 64-year-old man who wanted a Budweiser beer and his friend who handed him a can of Busch instead ended when the disgruntled recipient shot the other man in the arm, wounding him in a Louisiana parking lot, police said on Friday.
Budweiser, you may remember, put up that much loved and sort of sensitive "lost dog" commercial for the recent Super Bowl that seemed to be a pitch for fatherhood. The Busch website appeals more to those who "earn it" - a bit more of a macho appeal. Women, of course, also enjoy drinking beer, me among them. We live in a city with an emerging micro brewery industry so trying out new locally brewed beers on occasion is something we do with friends. I have yet to argue with anyone who gave me a beer I didn't like. And even if I did, I wouldn't end the argument with a gun because I don't carry one.  But I digress.
There has been a discussion on a Facebook page to which I belong about the beer shooting incident. Lots of great quips about the irony of the choice between a Budweiser or a Busch beer- "This shot's for you" was one. Here are a few others: "Stand your ground against bad beer." " Busch Beer. Head for the mountains. Just don't get ambushed by your Bud." You get the picture. How insane is this? It's so typically American to read a story about 2 guys in an argument over a beer getting out their guns to solve the dispute. And need I remind you that these are the "good guys with guns." You might appreciate this cartoon:
Your fly is open
From Mike Thompson ( http://www.freep.com/opinion/mike-thompson/)
Swaggering around with holstered guns in public is a pretty macho thing to do for some. Many say that carrying a gun is an extension of manhood. For most people it's just plain crazy as the cartoon above reflects.  As much as these guys want to make women feel a need for guns for self defense, the gun world is still a mostly male place. Deceiving women into believing they will be safer from rape and domestic abuse is dangerous but it is one way to get women to purchase guns. Owning a gun is an awesome responsibility that comes with major risks, especially for women.
And speaking of guys with guns , there is an attempt by the gun lobby to use women to promote their agenda of guns everywhere passed. But not so fast. Women who are in the process of being raped are just not going to be able to use that gun in the manner pushed by the gun lobby. Most recently the discussion about women and guns has turned to the problem of date rape on college campuses. Here's why this is a problem, according to this article:
We’re glad to see that people in legislature around the country are beginning to take this issue seriously and try to institute some reforms. Unfortunately the concept of introducing guns into this equation — the people who are suggesting that just don’t understand the issue. First of all, most of these assaults take place when they’re incapacitated. There’s no way they could use a gun. But even if they’re not completely incapacitated, they’re often drunk or have drank a lot. When you introduce a gun into that situation it becomes extremely dangerous. And the people being assaulted are often being assaulted by friends or acquaintances. It’s very unlikely someone is going to pull a gun in this situation. The end result will not address the problem, but it will result in substantially more injuries and death.
Check out what the NRA's own Wayne LaPierre has to say about rape and the need for guns on campus for women in the video below from the Tonightly Show on Comedy Central: ( the clip about guns on campus begins at 2:47 in the video. Fear, fear, fear and the shameless promotion of it to drive women to gun stores is just plain wrong.
This cynical and misogynistic view of guns and self defense is recognized as such by people with common sense such as this writer for Harvard University Institute of Politics:
Isn’t it refreshing to see a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s annual convention espousing female empowerment to loud applause?
In the case of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s speech last Friday, no, it is not. LaPierre, who said, “the one thing a violent rapist deserves to face is a good woman with a gun,” delivered an argument for women’s armed self defense that made a mockery not only of women’s rights, but also of conservative principles.
LaPierre was repeating a common trope among gun rights activists that easy gun access allows women to defend themselves against domestic violence. Never mind the various studies debunking this myth, including one showing states with higher gun ownership see more violence against women than states with lower gun ownership, even after accounting for confounding factors like urbanization and income. Even if it were true that guns kept women safer – or any of us, for that matter – his recommendation is offensively flawed on multiple levels.
First is the implication that it is the responsibility of the woman, not, say, the police, to defend herself from sexual assault. Interestingly, conservatives, the NRA included, used to oppose this kind of gun-toting vigilante justice. In the late 1960s, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the founders of the California-based Black Panthers, advocated individual gun ownership to allow blacks to defend themselves in a nation where police were reliably racist and racists were reliably violent. In response, California conservatives proposed a law banning loaded weapons from city streets. Then-governor Ronald Reagan supported the law, calling guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will,” and claiming that the law “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.” The NRA also supported this measure, as well as the gun-control measures passed at the national level in the ’60s.
Things have changed since the 1960s. Domestic shootings are a leading cause of death for women in the work place. Women are more likely to be killed by a gun by an intimate partner than to use a gun for legitimate self defense. In America, women are more likely to die from gunshot injuries than in any other democratized country and many mass shootings are the result of domestic disputes gone very wrongThis article from Slate explores the myth that women should have guns to prevent rapes: ( the article mentions a statement by a Nevada Assemblywoman, Michele Fiore about the need for guns to stop campus rape)
There is an odd kind of disconnect in the argument that allowing guns on college campuses will reduce rates of sexual violence. As the New York Times reported on Wednesday, several states have introduced measures to legalize firearms on campus. And many conservative lawmakers, perhaps spotting an opportunity in current debates about college sexual assault, have claimed that such a policy amounts to rape prevention.
Lawmakers in 10 states have introduced so-called campus carry bills, though some have made their claims about sexual assault and safety more explicit than others. As a sponsor of a Nevada bill allowing students to carry firearms, Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore told the Times, “If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.” (...)
It remains unclear how much data, or, frankly, how many dead women, will be required before gun advocates accept this basic fact. In domestic violence incidents, a gun increases the risk of homicide by a staggering 500 percent. A 1998 study on women and self-defense found that for every time a woman used a handgun to kill an intimate partner in self-defense, 83 women were murdered with a handgun by their intimate partners. And data has consistently shown that the presence of a gun in the home is associated with a higher risk of homicide, suicide and accidental injury and death.
Fiore’s rhetoric in support of the measure also invokes the danger of stranger rape, despite the fact that most campus assaults don’t fit this scenario. But even if we narrow our focus to incidents of sexual violence that involve strangers in the night, given the data on how infrequently women successfully use a gun in self-defense, such a measure still offers very little in the way of safety for victims. Instead, by introducing guns into an ostensibly gun-free zone, Fiore is arming the very men she claims would be frightened by such a measure.
“If my rapist had a gun at school, I have no doubt I would be dead,” Lauren Gambill, one of the activists working with Know Your IX, wrote in a recent petition aimed at the politicians currently debating proposed campus carry bills. “That’s why I started this petition asking legislators in these states not to allow guns on campuses and put survivors like me in even more danger.”
A different petition from the two groups asks supporters to “tell lawmakers to apologize for blaming victims of sexual assault, and to stop exploiting campus sexual assault to push the gun lobby’s agenda.”
From what we know about the way sexual assault operates on college campuses, adding guns to the mix doesn’t make much sense. Most sexual violence between students takes place under the influence of alcohol among people who already know each other. It’s not clear that college women will actually feel comfortable wielding a firearm against one of their friends.
When the "guys with the guns" get to make the rules about guns and gun safety reform in America, the facts about women and children being killed by guns get lost or are denied. Let's look at the video, again, of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre making his claim about the Founding Fathers and guys with guns:
Most of the gun owners in America are guysMost of our politicians are guys. We need to take a new look at the role of guns and gun violence in our country from a different perspective than that of the corporate gun lobby. The Board of Directors of the NRA, for example, consists of these guys. Is there a coincidence between these glaring facts and the disdain exhibited by the mostly male dominated gun rights community towards organizations like Moms Demand Action for Gunsense, the Million Mom March/Brady Campaign Chapters and other organizations whose volunteers and leaders are mostly women? I think not. Rude, offensive and threatening comments are made daily towards the women in these groups. I have been on the receiving end of many of them. When we testify at hearings on gun bills, for example, we are called hysterical and fear mongering. We don't know what we are saying. Of course, it is often women who testify for common sense. And the mostly men on the other side presume that they know a lot more than we do and love to tell us so.
I am only reporting the facts and making some conclusions based on the facts and observations of reality. You can make your own but the evidence shows that arguments between 2 guys more often end in shootings. Domestic arguments most often end with a woman being injured or killed by men with guns. Women are typically not "accidentally" shooting themselves in the numbers that men do. Women are most often raped by men. But women are also, as I've pointed out, less safe with guns.
Arguments over a Bud or a Busch should not end with a gunshot. Carrying guns should not end with private parts being shot.