This was not supposed to happen when the conceal and carry laws passed in all but one state in our country. We were told that only law abiding citizens would get permits and that people with guns on our streets would know what they were doing with those guns. We were sold a lie. But the NRA keeps going with their lies because they can. The latest example of their over reach is in Florida where, after the two recent high profile mass shootings, the NRA wants to loosen the carry laws even more to allow for openly carried guns in public. Really? Yes, it's true:More than 600 concealed-carry licenses issued to gun owners in Franklin and surrounding counties are invalid because three men issued falsified training certificates to the applicants, Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott said yesterday.An investigation that began in the spring has resulted in felony charges against the men and letters to 613 people who obtained the certificates, which are needed to apply for the licenses. More licenses could be affected as the investigation continues, Scott said.Deputies recently arrested Adam Chaykin, 41, of 2270 Medford Place on the East Side; Ken Fouch, 48, of 2410 Redrock Blvd. on the South Side; and John M. Marshall, 62, of 4988 Attica Dr. in Madison Township. Each is charged with one count of complicity to falsification to obtain a concealed-carry permit, though Scott said the men could face multiple counts when their cases go to a grand jury. A conviction on the fifth-degree felony could mean up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
And more from this article:The National Rifle Association will seek to pass a bill legalizing the open carrying of firearms in Florida during the 2013 session of the state Legislature, renewing a crusade for expanded gun rights that faltered last year, according to a longtime lobbyist for the group.The envisioned legislation would make it legal for holders of concealed-weapons permits to carry exposed guns in public.The lobbyist said the bill is necessary to protect such gun owners from harassment by police when they accidentally reveal concealed weapons in public.A 2011 compromise that tweaked existing regulations to remove penalties for those who unintentionally expose a gun has not been sufficient protection, she said. As a result, the NRA has reverted to its original goal of open carry for concealed-weapons permit holders.
Eric Friday is a Jacksonville lawyer who's also Florida Carry's lead attorney.
"This is Florida, people aren't always wearing clothes. It's hard to conceal a firearm. You have to wear a suit coat or a jacket to conceal a firearm in the summer," Friday said.
The announcement comes at a time when the subject of firearm restrictions is even more emotionally freighted than usual. In the past three weeks, troubled gunmen have carried out two of the worst shooting massacres in recent U.S. history, leaving a total of 18 people dead and 61 wounded at a movie theater in a Denver suburb and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
"I think it re-emphasizes our position. Our position is guns save more lives than take lives. Our position is it's better to have a gun in the hands of a law abiding carrier than in the hands of a criminal," Friday said.
But I digress. Also please remember that the U.S. House has passed a bill that will force states with strict gun permit carry requirements to have to accept those from states with much looser carry laws. That is the NRA's vision for America. If you don't like the laws in one state, force that state to follow the laws you want anyway. It's one thing if the laws are good laws but when we have laws that allow potentially dangerous people to carry loaded guns in public, that law affects public safety. That is just plain irresponsible.
The far right and gun rights extremists love to talk about personal responsibility and freedoms. What is someone's responsibility when they know someone could be dangerous with a gun? What is your responsibility when you see someone with problems and you don't report it to anyone or do something about it? Check out what some friends of the Sikh temple shooter noticed about him and their regrets about not reporting it. Way too often, people do nothing. They shrug and believe there is nothing they can do. It's time for that to change. We can do something to prevent shootings.
We are just so different than any other country about our guns, our gun culture and our gun laws. We can do better. Other countries have done something. We have not. Check out the information in this chart. You will have to move the chart with your cursor and bar on the bottom of your screen to see the whole chart:
The NRA, because of the passage of loose gun laws, has managed to change the culture from one of people using guns mostly for hunting into one where people think they need guns for self defense and in public places. And speaking of the American gun culture, who needs NRA Board members like Ted Nugent out spouting dangerous rhetoric like this?:
If you get "youthful energy" from "killing shit", is that a problem? Words matter. We can prevent shootings but we need people like Ted Nugent to stop his poisonous and dangerous talk and just sing. He should not be invited to concerts if we want to be serious about doing something about preventing gun deaths and injuries. When someone like him says what he says, all it takes is for one mentally ill person or one neo-Nazi or one militia group member to decide to act on the words with a gun. These words were anemic compared to what Nugent said at the annual NRA meeting recently. "Any questions?" If you are a member of the NRA, you had better think twice about wanting Nugent on your Board. Nugent has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Any questions?Nugent is insanely confident and infectiously joyful. He has tons to be proud of, even besides the "ton of venison jerky he personally killed for the troops in Afghanistan." His guitars were crying the sweetest tones, and the crowd agreed with everything he thought. The band is tightly rehearsed; they hit the road for months straight, and "the rest of the year, I just kill shit," Nuge said. He attributes his youthful energy to that.He gave shoutouts to the godfathers of rock 'n' roll: Bo Diddly, Chuck Berry, Howling Wolf, and Wilson Pickett. After giving praise to the guitar heroes, he gave a giant salute to the American heroes in the crowd: the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Right after that, he said, "I wanna get rid of the dirty cocksuckers in the White House! If there's justice, Barack Obama will end up being a communal worker in Cuba!" Everybody joyously hugged and high-fived.
Just the opposite of Nugent's rhetoric is this article about a public health approach to prevention of gun injuries and deaths. Medical professionals understand that treating gun violence as other diseases or accidents are treated could result in prevention. From the article:
One of the doctors who treated the injured and saw the dead after the shooting at the Wisconsin Sikh temple has been thinking about the issue from the public health approach. When you see actual bodies and actual injuries caused by bullets, your perspective just has to be different and more personal. When you see the blood, when you try to repair the damage done to internal organs and extremities, knowing that there could be life altering injuries, you just do understand gun violence differently than the pro gun extremists. Here is what this doctor had to say after seeing all of this last week:It wasn't enough back then to curb deaths just by trying to make people better drivers, and it isn't enough now to tackle gun violence by focusing solely on the people doing the shooting, he and other doctors say.They want a science-based, pragmatic approach based on the reality that we live in a society saturated with guns and need better ways of preventing harm from them.
"What I'm struggling with is, is this the new social norm? This is what we're going to have to live with if we have more personal access to firearms," said Hargarten, emergency medicine chief at Froedtert Hospital and director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "We have a public health issue to discuss. Do we wait for the next outbreak or is there something we can do to prevent it?"Do we have to live with this? What a sad state of affairs. We have collateral damage from the bullet wars going on every day in our country because the NRA refuses to consider prevention. So for their individual rights, they are willing to allow a certain number of gun deaths. What is wrong with this picture? Plenty. As Americans we should have some responsibilities to our fellow human beings. If we can't do better than this, what kind of country are we? If we can't make an effort at preventing shootings, what kind of country are we? It's not that we can't, it's that we won't. This is wrong.
So let's take a look at what can be done from a public health approach. From the linked article above again:
You will remember, of course, that the NRA tried to stop doctors in Florida from talking to families about the dangers of guns in the home. The case was taken to court and the law was thrown out by a judge who understood what this meant; namely, silencing a group of professionals charged with keeping us healthy and protecting us from disease and accidents. Never mind. Florida Governor Rick Scott is sure he knows better. But then, he is a bought and paid for NRA politician. Here is the latest on this issue:Dr. David Satcher tried to make gun violence a public health issue when he became CDC director in 1993. Four years later, laws that allow the carrying of concealed weapons drew attention when two women were shot at an Indianapolis restaurant after a patron's gun fell out of his pocket and accidentally fired. Ironically, the victims were health educators in town for an American Public Health Association convention.That same year, Hargarten won a federal grant to establish the nation's first Firearm Injury Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin."Unlike almost all other consumer products, there is no national product safety oversight of firearms," he wrote in the Wisconsin Medical Journal.That's just one aspect of a public health approach. Other elements:—"Host" factors: What makes someone more likely to shoot, or someone more likely to be a victim. One recent study found firearm owners were more likely than those with no firearms at home to binge drink or to drink and drive, and other research has tied alcohol and gun violence. That suggests that people with driving under the influence convictions should be barred from buying a gun, Wintemute said.—Product features: Which firearms are most dangerous and why. Manufacturers could be pressured to fix design defects that let guns go off accidentally, and to add technology that allows only the owner of the gun to fire it (many police officers and others are shot with their own weapons). Bans on assault weapons and multiple magazines that allow rapid and repeat firing are other possible steps.—"Environmental" risk factors: What conditions allow or contribute to shootings. Gun shops must do background checks and refuse to sell firearms to people convicted of felonies or domestic violence misdemeanors, but those convicted of other violent misdemeanors can buy whatever they want. The rules also don't apply to private sales, which one study estimates as 40 percent of the market.—Disease patterns, observing how a problem spreads. Gun ownership — a precursor to gun violence — can spread "much like an infectious disease circulates," said Daniel Webster, a health policy expert and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore."There's sort of a contagion phenomenon" after a shooting, where people feel they need to have a gun for protection or retaliation, he said.That's already evident in the wake of the Colorado movie-theater shootings. Last week, reports popped up around the nation of people bringing guns to "Batman" movies. Some of them said they did so for protection.
Indeed. The NRA's political agenda must be stopped before thousands more Americans die. The NRA doesn't care about public health and safety but rather only about their extreme agenda and protecting the sales of guns. There is something inherently wrong with that. The public does not agree with this approach. That's because it is wrong, wrong headed and dangerous for our families and our communities. Let's do the right thing and start the conversation. Let's listen to the people who know better and are not motivated by an extreme ideological agenda. Let's have some common sense.How far is Scott willing to go to protect the law? Far enough to spend a big chunk of public money on legal challenges. A report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel shows that the same tea party governor who trumpets fiscal conservatism has spent north of $880,000 in taxpayer money so far to wage mostly unsuccessful court battles for the conservative agenda—including Docs vs. Glocks, voter suppression measures, drug tests for welfare recipients, prison privatization plans, and the Supreme Court challenge to Obamacare.That approach defies sense, Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, a Miami doctor fighting the Docs vs. Glocks law, told McClatchy last month. "My fear is the state will appeal and keeping wasting money to fight windmills," he said. "This is an ideologically driven, politically motivated vendetta by the NRA that has to stop."
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett agrees with health care professionals and with advocates for prevention of gun deaths and injuries. Many people agree with common sense and know that the way we are dealing with the gun issue in America is just not working. We are seeing it newspapers and articles in other media every day. On what do we agree? That we can do something to prevent shootings. That we can agree on common sense measures to prevent shootings in America. Here is what Mayor Barrett had to say:
Remember that even a majority of NRA members agree with these measures. I wrote about that in my last post and in many other previous posts. So, let's get started. We can do this. We are better than this and we can do better.Ensuring background checks on all gun sales would close one of the major loopholes in our current gun laws and make it harder for criminals and those with mental illness to gain access to guns.We should make it a felony to purchase guns for those who can't legally buy guns themselves. We need stricter penalties for those who refuse to abide by the provisions of the concealed-carry law. We should deny a firearm permit for habitual offenders who have three misdemeanors in a five-year period. We should strengthen criminal penalties for crimes committed with guns.We should reinstate the national ban on assault weapons and have a serious review of Internet sales of large amounts of ammunition.Obviously, our families, our neighbors and our law enforcement officers deserve and expect more than talk. Sooner, rather than later - not after the next mass shooting, not after the next fallen officer, not after the next neighborhood gunbattle - we must act.