1. Friday's shooting in NYC wasn't a mass shooting. Yes,it was. By any definition, when 3 or more people are shot in a single shooting incident, it is a mass shooting. Sometimes it is when 2 or more are shot. Who cares, really? Quibbling over the definition of a mass shooting is just childish. Dead is dead. Injured is injured. One of my commenters tried to tell me that this shooting was just an "ordinary murder." There are no ordinary murders. 32 people a day die from gun murders in the U.S. That is extraordinary. That is unacceptable. When many are shot at once, it makes big news. When just one or two at a time are shot, it makes smaller news. And not only was it a mass shooting, according to the linked article, above, it is a trend in America:
Indeed, these kind of shootings indicate a trend. This blogger listed 13 mass shootings since the beginning of 2012. That is more than one a month. And yes, we need to feel more connected. We need to deal with mental illness in general. We need to keep people who are mentally ill from getting guns. Guns are clearly the common theme in mass shootings. We just don't have mass knifings or mass beatings.Without exception, all of these incidents were carried out by men, the vast majority of them had financial and emotional problems. While calls for increased gun controls have been issued, there has to be another problem associated with this.This blogger thinks the society has institutionalized anti-social behavior to a point that people are disconnected from each other. The person who would have others to talk to in the past, now finds themselves alone more often. We don't know our neighbors, and we don't talk to them. People are not complicated – we need to feel a connection with each other. When that feeling is gone, what we have seen today occurs.America needs to institutionalize ways for people to connect: block parties, and not just for National Night Out, will help us at least know our neighbors. Tax credits for people who hold large neighborhood events. The USA must take steps to fuse a culture that's become split apart due to digital communications and a move toward incivility.
2. Officers shouldn't have shot those innocent people in the melee of the shooting. It is true that officers shot all of the injured after an "ordinary law abiding gun owner" took out his revenge on a work colleague by executing him at close range outside of his place of business. Officers were doing their job on Friday which involved the use of guns in chaotic situations. We should be happy that police officers responded as quickly as they did or more damage could surely have been done. In the linked article, above, by Sanjay Sanghoee, we must think about the idea that armed citizens wouldn't have done the same thing or worse given the situation:
3. Gun permit holders wouldn't have shot any of the injured because they are better shots and better trained than police officers. To even think or say that is ludicrous and strains the bounds of credulity. According to the above article, police had a split second decision to make when Johnson aimed his gun at them. There are so many shootings and shootings of officers that their reaction is to not natural in order to protect the public from more bullets but also to protect themselves. Officers lives are on the line every day. Armed citizens do not face the same kind of every day life threatening situations faced by our law enforcement officers. Though we all know that police officers are not immune from over reacting or using force when not needed, those are rare cases. Officers are trained in tactical techniques and are also in better physical condition than ordinary citizens to handle situations such as that presented to them in New York City.Now consider what would have happened in that situation if all New Yorkers were armed. With more guns in the mix and more citizens deciding to take matters into their own hands, many more shots would have been fired, and if the professionals themselves could miss their target and shoot innocent bystanders instead, you can imagine how ordinary citizens, most of them with only amateur shooting experience, would have done a hell of a lot more damage. In the madness that would have erupted, a simple take-down of a suspect by police would have turned into a modern day shootout at the OK Corral. Anyone who believes that a scenario like that would have resulted in fewer casualties is patently insane.The other important thing to recognize is why our police need to carry guns in the first place. It is because we have a proliferation of guns in America in private hands. As I have said earlier, the cowboy culture and the spread of heavy duty weapons like the AR-15 semi-automatic rifles make our society a dangerous place, which then necessitates a strong armed response by law enforcement.
Let's talk some about training requirements for gun permit holders. Here is an article about the differences between states for training to carry a loaded gun around in public. From that article:
Not all states require training, or hands-on training. For example, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Washington have no training/safety certification requirement. Mississippi has a basic permit that requires no training but greatly restricts where a firearm may be carried, and an enhanced permit as of July 1, 2011, that allows concealed carry in all but a very few places.Wisconsin requires no training or hands-on experience with a gun. In Virginia, one can get a permit over the computer without ever handling a gun. You can watch for yourself as Virginia Tech shooting victim Lilly Habtu applies for her permit:
So don't believe the gun rights extremists who claim they could have done a better job than the police in a volatile situation and that they are better trained than police officers. They are lying. And we should all be very nervous about the lack of training requirements for ordinary "law abiding" citizens. These folks are carrying loaded guns in public places and arrogantly assume they can do the job of a police officer and do it better. Jared Loughner, in case you forgot, was a "law abiding" concealed carrier in Arizona where no permit is even required to carry a loaded gun in public. So was George Zimmerman. Raise your hand if you think this method of "training" citizens to carry loaded lethal weapons around in public is a good idea.
4. How could this have happened in New York? There are strict gun laws there. Yes, New York City, in particular, has strict gun laws but that doesn't mean there are no shootings in New York. Most of the crime guns found at crime scenes are traced to guns purchased from states with looser gun laws. You can see on the map in this report that though a good number of traced guns come from New York itself, the majority of crime guns traced in New York City came from other states. This report from the Brady Center highlights how the NRA has made it more difficult to trace crime guns to their sources. The ATF and law enforcement have their hands tied by unreasonable laws passed by Congress under the spell of the NRA's mythical power. This is more evidence that we shouldn't listen to the paranoia and hyperbole from the gun rights extremists. As it turns out, Virginia was one of the states responsible for a large number of traced crime guns in New York. Recall how easy it is to get a permit to carry in Virginia from the above video.
5. We'd be safer if more people carried guns. No, our streets are not safer because of armed citizens walking around with loaded guns. I provide ample evidence of gun permit holders involved in shootings in public places in almost every blog post. There are too many on which to report. No other country has laws allowing people to legally carry guns around in public. We don't see other developed countries not at war with rates of gun deaths and injuries as high as those in the U.S. There has been blood running in our streets on a daily basis. That has not only not changed since almost every state in the country has passed a form of conceal and carry, but the gun rights extremists said it would get better. It has not. On average, over the last 10 years or so, about 30,000 Americans lose their lives to bullets. Of these, about 10.000-12,000 ( give or take) are gun murders. And many of these are due to law abiding citizens shooting innocent citizens and some in high profile shootings such as Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora theater shooting, Sikh temple shooting, the recent New York City shooting and others. The shooters were not listed as prohibited purchasers which made them legal purchasers of guns. They shouldn't have been but they were. That is the direct result of our loose gun laws.
6. We should just not bother to work towards better gun laws because gun control doesn't work. No, we are better than this. If we aren't, we will just continue to let innocent people be gunned down in shooting after shooting after shooting, as has actually happened in recent weeks. There have been 4 high profile mass shootings in the space of about 4 weeks.
7. The NRA doesn't much like Mayor Bloomberg and his coalition of Mayors. That is because he actually has money to spend on advocating for better gun laws, monitoring what goes on at gun shows and getting involved in legal matters concerning guns. But the NRA is vastly out spending organizations that are working to prevent gun deaths and injuries. They may not be spending on federal elections though. It looks like they would rather pay their executive salaries than use the money to seek influence:
8. Organizations like the ones I belong to don't have any members or money so don't have influence on politicians. Organizations working to prevent gun deaths and injuries represent the majority of Americans, including gun owners, who want to prevent Americans from being gunned down in public places. They are not ideologues and don't vote on one issue but see that something must be done. From the latest CNN polling data (above and quoted below) that is similar to recent polling by Republican pollster Frank Luntz:Tax returns show the NRA spends far more on staff than on federal races. In 2010, for example, it spent $51.6 million on salaries and benefits for its employees, including more than $1 million for Kayne B. Robinson, the executive director for general operations, and nearly $1 million for Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre.That election cycle, it reported spending less than $8.4 million on independent campaigns for congressional candidates, according to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The NRA handed out $1.28 million directly to federal candidates, 70% of it to Republicans.Nowadays, the NRA's political activity is dwarfed by that of GOP-allied advocacy groups such as Crossroads GPS that pump tens of millions of dollars into races around the country. As those groups help elect conservatives, who are almost uniformly pro-gun rights, they also further the NRA's agenda.As one of its major victories this year, the NRA bragged about taking out Sen. Richard G. Lugar(R-Ind.), who received an F rating from the group after he voted to confirm President Obama's Supreme Court nominees. But it contributed just one-fifth of the $3.3 million in outside money spent against Lugar in the GOP primary, which was won by a tea party-backed challenger.Robert Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York at Cortland and author of "The Politics of Gun Control," said that the NRA's electoral influence has been exaggerated, adding that the group's "bark is a lot more annoying than their bite."But the NRA's reputation as a political behemoth has been enough to freeze the gun control debate on Capitol Hill.
Luntz's poll found similar results:The poll indicates that two meet with almost unanimous approval: Ninety-six percent are in favor of background checks and 91% support laws to prevent convicted felons or people with mental health problems from owning guns.Three-quarters of people questioned favor gun registration with local governments, and roughly six in ten favor bans on the sale or possession of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. But 54% oppose a limit on the number of guns an individual can own, and only one in ten think that all Americans should be prevented from owning guns.
The poll, which sampled 945 gun owners around the country and had a margin of error of +/- 3, also found broad support gun-owners for the principle that “support for 2nd Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.” In fact, more NRA members (87 percent) supported the statement than non-NRA members (83 percent). One wonders if the views of its supporters will be heard at NRA headquarters, as the organization opposes laws that attempt to implement several of the positions that Luntz’ poll established gun-owners support.9. Law abiding citizens with permits ( or without) don't shoot people.Yes, law abiding gun permit holders shoot and kill people on our streets and in our homes. They also carelessly discharge their weapons in public places killing or injuring others or themselves. These incidents are too numerous to list here but I have written about them often. On average, so say the gun guys, permit holders commit crimes at a somewhat lower rate than non permit holders. But that is a straw man argument. The very premise of issuing a permit to someone to carry a loaded lethal weapon around in public is that they are and will remain law abiding. Otherwise, why allow anyone to carry loaded guns in public? They must be law abiding. Carrying loaded weapons is an awesome responsibility that should not be left to just anyone. The Violence Policy Center is keeping track of Conceal Carry Killers on it's website. They list real live ( or should I say real dead) incidents of actual shootings by legal gun permit holders. The gun lobby takes issue with this report. They have no standing to do so. Facts are facts. Denying them is a favorite trick of the gun lobby. When facts are inconvenient, they try to claim the facts are not the facts. This comment from one of my readers highlights efforts to discredit the above report:"VPC published a cherry picked list of information that fits their agenda - and yours. " No, they didn't.
These facts or lack thereof add up to a major public health and safety problem in the U.S. Our politicians are trying to ignore it. The NRA is trying to ignore it or make lame excuses that don't hold water. The public should be demanding a plan from our elected leaders. ( According to the demandaplan website 48,000 Americans will be murdered by guns in the next President's 4 year term). If you think that is unacceptable, sign on to wearebetterthanthis.org. Our politicians should be listening to the people with the facts instead of the paranoid bullies who use fear to get their way. The public knows that common sense gun laws will lead to a safer America. They are way ahead of the elected leaders. Let's lead the way and show them some courage. They can learn a lot from us but they need our help. Enough is enough. Use the clout of what is right and in the best interest of families and communities to influence elected leaders. We can take our country back from the extremists and big money exhibited by the NRA.