I love the call of the loons on our lake in the summer. Sometimes we can hear them in the middle of the night while at our cabin, calling to each other. My mother loved anything to do with loons and passed her love along to me and my children. So I am wondering about all of the looney and tragic shootings that have occurred in Minnesota in the past few weeks and months. Surely they are haunting and sad and no one is laughing. And surely the gun culture is becoming crazy and foolish. How else can we explain all of the recent shootings? There has been one shooting after another for week after week. The latest is a domestic shooting in Pine City reported yesterday:
Restraining orders sometimes actually make for more dangerous situations. When spouses/partners are this angry over a marriage or relationship break-up, anything goes. We know that from the recent high profile murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins. And trying to leave a relationship or after leaving can be the most dangerous time for a woman. Guns make it easier to "take charge" of a situation and take care of the person who has angered the perpetrator. Killing someone is the ultimate power and control. From the article:"A shooting in Pine County Wednesday night has left a woman in serious condition at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth. Her ex-husband shot her in the chest before fatally turning the gun on himself.It was 9:15 p.m. Wednesday when Dawn Christen, 55, sent a text to her neighbor reading, "He's here he shot me get help. Please hurry." The neighbor immediately called 9-1-1."There was a history between these two that was familiar to the neighbor who called," said Pine County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Steve Blackwell. "She made that aware to the deputies."Arriving at Christen's home in rural Pine County, police found her barricaded in a bathroom with a gunshot wound to the chest. Her ex-husband, Daniel Shilts, 55, had broken in a rear door before she had arrived home that night. According to authorities, Shilts then confronted Christen, shot her in the chest, and stayed in the house."They encountered him somewhere in the house, we don't know at what point," said Chief Deputy Blackwell. "But he ended up in a living room lying on a couch with a gun to his head."For two hours police negotiated with Shilts in the living room before he pulled the trigger, taking his own life. Chief Deputy Blackwell said Christen had been in the Pine City Sheriff's Office just weeks before the shooting and asked about a restraining order against Shilts."She was very afraid that if she got this restraining order, it would escalate him into further actions," said Chief Deputy Blackwell.The restraining order had not been processed, but according to Christen's neighbor, she had posted "No Trespassing" signs on her driveway dated 11/21/12, in hopes to keep Shilts out.Chief Deputy Blackwell said they don't know if Shilts knew about the pending restraining order."
Domestic violence death review teams meticulously pore over details of dead victims’ relationships with their batterers to determine what factors they have in common. It is no surprise that a batterer’s access to firearms has been found to be one of the greatest predictors that an abusive relationship will turn fatal.Domestic violence plays itself out every day in our country. There are domestic killings all over the world. But in America, more of them are due to gunshot injuries. That is why the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs works with people all over the world showing them ways to diffuse domestic disputes and work together using the Duluth Model as a Community Coordinated Response. That is why family shelters for battered women and justice centers all over the country, like Safe Haven in my home town are so important. They have saved the lives of many women. Some women have not been so lucky.
A two year old boy was shot to death by his own 4 year old brother in Minneapolis. The gun was found tucked under a pillow by the four year old:
From another article about this tragic and avoidable shooting incident:The 4-year-old boy who fatally shot his 2-year-old brother with a pistol in an upstairs bedroom had found the gun tucked under a pillow.Kao Xiong, 33, who appeared to be overcome with grief, said in an interview that he had a permit to carry the semi-automatic handgun, and had wedged it under a pillow next to the bed’s headboard.“My heart is broke,” said Xiong. “I wish I could be a new person.” His wife, Ma Vang, who sat nearby and speaks little English, looked on but had no comment.Xiong said he worked for a St. Paul non-profit that helps the mentally ill and had come home for lunch. His wife was vacuuming so Neegnco Xiong, 2, and his 4-year-old brother went upstairs and were playing in the bed.The couple heard a single gunshot and rushed upstairs to find Neegnco hunched on the bed, face down, Xiong said. He told his wife to call 911, picked up the toddler and then spoke to a dispatcher, while he intermittently gave the the boy CPR.“I can’t imagine this terrible thing would happen to me,” Xiong said. He said he bought the gun a year and a half ago at a sporting goods store and had taken classes and gotten a permit. He said he kept the gun loaded because he sometimes carried it with him, if he went to a store at night or went jogging. Police interviewed Xiong on Wednesday.
"It's preventable," said Sgt. William Palmer with Minneapolis Police. "And if you own a gun or have one in your home you have the responsibility to ensure that another tragedy like this doesn't happen."
The uncle of the two-year-old says the parents usually keep the gun high on a cabinet.
A third brother was home at the time of the shooting, but he wasn't hurt. Neighbors tell us the fourth brother was at school. All of the surviving children were in protective services custody Wednesday night.
When the investigation is complete, prosecutors will decide if the parents should be charged with any crime.
The boy's death is the fourth child under the age of six to be accidentally shot in Minneapolis and St. Paul in just the past year.
Cornelius George, whose five year-old son, Nizzel was struck and killed by a stray bullet as he slept inside his grandmother's North Minneapolis home in June, reacted Wednesday when told of another child's death.
"It's surprising because I lost my son to some gun violence and I'm still grieving, I'm still hurting," George said inside the home where his son grew up. Nizzel's toys were still visible on the living room table, nearly six months to the day after his death.
"I just want to give my condolences out to the family that lost a two year-old," said George, "and I just hope that we can find a better solution."Yes, we do need to find a better solution. When 4 children under the age of 6 are accidentally shot in one state in one year, we have a problem. We have too many grieving parents. And these are not isolated cases. Too many law abiding gun owners leave their loaded guns in places where children can gain access to them. Children are curious. Guns are dangerous. Check the Kids Shooting blog for the many more shootings of and by children.
I wrote a recent post about the two Minnesota teens shot to death execution style by a law abiding gun owner on Thanksgiving day. This bizarre case will be in the news for a while as the details are sorted out and a trial proceeds.
New information about the shooting of a police officer in Cold Spring last week reveals that the man arrested for the shooting has been released. Apparently there is not enough evidence to hold the man first suspected of the shooting. The investigation continues and let's hope the shooter, whoever that may be, will be arrested for the murder of a police officer.
And, of course, Minnesota had a work place mass shooting last fall when an angry worker, just fired from his job, decided to take out his anger on his boss and others at the Accent Signage company in Minneapolis. From an article about the employees trying to get their lives back together after the shooting:
The families and loved ones of victims of shootings never forget. How can they ever forget that someone with a gun senselessly took the life of a person they loved? Seven people, including the shooter, Andrew Engeldinger, died as a result of a mentally ill young man with a gun who had 10,000 rounds of ammunition in his home that he bought on-line. Remember the Aurora, Colorado theater mass shooting? This article shows how easy it is to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition both in stores and on-line:"I will never get over this, and I don't have to. That is exactly how we feel," Shereen Rahamim said.Those words were also spoken at one of six funerals for the people shot to death Sept. 27 at the small, family owned sign company in a neighborhood just west of downtown Minneapolis. The last victim, Eric Rivers, died of his wounds Oct. 10."But while we will never got over this, together we will get through it. We take great comfort in the community support during this troubled time," she said.Shereen Rahamim said the people inside the building are rallying, too, getting back to work and getting the sign business going again. Reuven Rahamim, was shot and killed in the rampage, as was one of his top managers, Rami Cooks. Production manager John Souter was gravely wounded.
There is so much here to be of concern, I hardly know where to begin. But I would suggest that being addicted to ammunition is quite different than being addicted to buying purses or shoes. I'm just saying. And when someone has a lot of ammunition in their home, surely they plan to use it somewhere. Where? Maybe target shooting. Maybe to shoot a whole lot of people at once. Why have so much ammunition? Seems crazy to me and most Americans who don't horde guns and ammunition. But the gun rights extremists also fear their own government and some sort of mythical gun confiscation that isn't going to happen. I wonder where they get that idea?At Gander Mountain, one of the best deals on ammo for a 9mm gun was a box of 350 rounds for $99.99. When asked for 30 boxes -- or 10,500 rounds -- a saleswoman checked with a manager and said that the store would sell the boxes at a discount for $89.99 a piece."As much as you want," a salesman at Metro Pawn and Gun said when asked how much ammunition could be purchased. How about 10,000 rounds?"Are you starting a war?" he joked, then said they could order it."You can buy the whole store if you want," a salesperson at Bill's Gun and Range replied when asked how much ammunition could be bought there.Buying 10,000 rounds of the more expensive "personal defense" bullets -- which, unlike the target rounds, are hollowed and expand upon impact -- would cost $13,975, he said. Most people buying large quantities of ammo get the less-expensive target variety.Bill's Gun and Range owner John Monson said Tuesday he's never seen a private citizen ask for 10,000 rounds -- more common are requests for one or two cases of 1,000 rounds -- but that he would sell it to them if they wanted it.For some gun users, he said, ammo is "what shoes and purses are to women.""We get addicted to them, and we like different ones, and variety. We kind of collect and hoard them."Ten-thousand rounds of 9mm ammunition can cost just a few thousand dollars, and online suppliers offer a quick and inexpensive way to get it.The site www.bulkammo. com advertises 4,000 rounds of .22 ammo by Federal for $189, with a notice that three boxes are ready to ship. The site also allowed a reporter to add 38 1,000-round boxes of 9mm ammo by Federal for $14,250 total to an online shopping cart before displaying a warning that more were not available.The site says it does not ship to Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York City or Chicago, and requires documentation for shipping addresses in Illinois and New Jersey."When the tragedy happened in Aurora, that guy only had 6,000 rounds," U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat who represents Minneapolis, said this week."This guy had 10,000 rounds. Clearly, there should be some sort of system in place to alert law enforcement authorities if somebody has some inordinate amount of ammunition or weaponry."He said that notifying authorities about larger purchases of ammunition would allow police the opportunity to ask questions, even if they didn't lead to arrests."Maybe we would have been able to figure out that this guy is a ticking time bomb. ... Maybe it wouldn't have changed anything, but maybe it would have," said Ellison, who is talking with his staff about legislation for a notification system.In response to the Colorado shooting, House Democrats over the summer also sponsored legislation limiting sales of online ammunition.Andrew Rothman, vice president of the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, said it's not uncommon for people to make bulk purchases to guard against changes in gun laws and increases in ammunition prices in recent years."The shooter probably used 10 or 20 rounds of ammunition [in the attack] -- is it really relevant how many rounds he had at home?" Rothman said.At Joe's Sporting Goods in Little Canada, owner Jim Rauscher said purchases of 10,000 rounds are not uncommon. For example, friends who shoot targets together pool their purchases to receive a discount: Someone might buy 10 1,000-round cases."If it's somebody that you've never seen before, not a regular customer, and it just doesn't seem right or smell right ... we definitely would ask questions," he said.State Rep. Tony Cornish, who heads the House Public Safety Committee, scoffed at the idea of more closely regulating ammunition sales, saying that any such proposal would "fall with a big thud" in the Legislature.He said many people buy thousands of rounds of ammunition at a time and never cause trouble.The Republican from Good Thunder said he has 37 long guns and dozens of handguns."I probably have 10,000 rounds in my house," he said.
But I digress. In October, there was another horrible domestic shooting in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. From the article:
The bottom line here is that there have been and will likely to be too many shootings in Minnesota and all over the country. Domestic shootings, accidental shootings, murder/suicides, mass shootings, shootings by gun permit holders and just plain everyday shootings have been much in the news of late. 32 Americans die every day from gun homicides. 80 a day die from gun suicides, homicides and accidental shootings. That is 80 too many. Most of the shootings are preventable. It's time to demand a plan from our politicians. Common sense tells us that something is going badly when the daily carnage continues. More guns are not making us safer as the NRA has been falsely claiming for years. Unfortunately, the insane American gun culture and fascination with guns results in the deaths of too many people. We can change the culture by getting ourselves together to have a serious national conversation about it. Since the Jovan Belcher shooting, something sensible is happening in America. People have decided it's time, at long last, to go public about the ludicrous gun culture in America and ask questions that need answers. This latest written by Dave Hackenberg of the Toledablade.com adds his voice to the many calling for a conversation about guns:The terrifying final moments of Tensia M. Richard's life -- being ambushed by her husband in a strip mall parking lot in Cottage Grove and gunned down Thursday before he killed himself -- ended several years of a relationship scarred by rage, obsession and abuse."She thought there could be a snapping point with him," said Craig Woolery, Cottage Grove's director of public safety, describing a June 2011 police encounter with Chevel C. Richard, in which it took several officers to subdue him after his arrest for fifth-degree assault.That snapping point came about 3:35 p.m. Thursday when, Woolery said, Chevel Richard lured his wife out of the Anytime Fitness center in the 7700 block of Harkness Av. S. He then began shooting at her with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, chased her through the strip mall parking lot, then killed her as she sought refuge in a Jimmy John's sandwich shop.He then shot himself in the head and died several hours later at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. They were both 22. Their two children, boys 3 years old and 5 months old, are in the care of her parents. (...)The husband's jealous anger had shown itself in the incident last year. Tensia Richard described it in an affidavit seeking a court order for protection. "Chevel has threatened physical harm towards me and has been emotionally abusive," she said in the affidavit. "He has driven into oncoming traffic where I had to grab the wheel to prevent an accident. He has threatened to kill me and take away my child and also threatened to kill himself in front of me. ... I am scared that since I called the police he will be angrier with me."In two earlier incidents, he held a knife to his own throat and sliced his own arm open to the muscle. "I was really scared so I just cleaned up the blood and didn't know what else to do," she wrote.That morning in June 2011, the affidavit said, he found a text message on her phone from a male friend and tore her from her bed. He hurled their son's playpen against the wall, then grabbed the boy while screaming obscenities, threatening to take him away. When she tried to call 911, he grabbed the phone and smashed it.Sgt. Randy McAlister, a detective with the Cottage Grove Police Department, helped Tensia fill out a lethality assessment protocol (LAP) survey, a tool investigators use to determine the level of threat faced by a victim of domestic violence to determine the right course of action. "She was a high risk for homicide," McAlister said. An order for protection, under which Chevel Richard could not come near his wife or have contact with their child, was issued a couple of days later, and the couple separated.But in a scenario all too familiar to police, prosecutors and victim advocates, Tensia went back to her husband two months later, asking the court to rescind the protective order. "I'm not sure what happened there," McAlister said. "When I dealt with her, she was very scared for her safety."Both McAlister and Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said such cases can be frustrating. "We have to balance our responsibility for the victims against letting adults make decisions about their own lives," Orput said. Orders for protection are civil matters, but there is a point where criminal prosecution steps in.
Speaking up is what could change the conversation. Passing sensible gun laws can prevent senseless shootings. Keeping guns away from children and others who should not be able to access them will save lives. Taking a new look at conceal and carry laws in light of all of the shootings by and because of gun permit holders seems like a good idea. If the gun rights extremists are not willing to consider that we have a problem that guns are not solving, then I wonder where we will go from here? It is truly tragic that we can't be adults and talk about this issue without all of the hyperbole and fear. Apparently the gun guys have a true fear that their guns or their rights will be taken from them. The rest of us have a real fear that lives will be taken. Killing another person over a domestic dispute, a gun left carelessly out for a child to find, over "stuff", when mentally incompetent to have a gun, when using alcohol and drugs, when music is too loud, when walking in a neighborhood looking suspicious, etc. is not acceptable. It never has been and it never will be. It is "mind- numbing insanity" and it's clear that the what we're doing now is not working. We are better than this.But I certainly don’t have the guts to seriously delve into that. The Second Amendment seems sacrosanct. So, too, should be the Ten Commandments, one of which deals with killing. It’s wrong, and The Guy who authored those commandments didn’t include any asterisks.Thou shall not kill … with a gun, a knife, a rope, bare hands, a needle, or anything you’d find under the kitchen sink.Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs, however, used a gun. He murdered his girlfriend, the mother of his 3-month-old child, then he murdered himself.In our country, something similar and no less tragic happens dozens of times a day, hundreds of times a week, thousands of times a year. This mind-numbing insanity ensnares people of all races, of both genders, in central-city neighborhoods, in affluent suburbs, and in idyllic rural communities that long ago might have been depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting.But a Jovan Belcher makes headlines, and when his NFL team plays a game 36 hours later in a stadium mere yards from where he killed himself, it connects the news cycles and intrudes into our consciousness.If one doesn’t speak up then, well, then when?
You just can't make this stuff up. Now the NRA's Wayne LaPierre appears to be blaming the victim, Kasandra Perkins, for not having a gun to protect herself when Jovan Belcher surprised her early in the morning while attending to her child. This habit of blaming victims is sleazy, insensitive and offensive. Having a gun is always the answer for the NRA. From the article:
Since guns for self defense rarely actually work to save the lives of those attacked when compared to how often it goes the other way, this is another of the specious and ludicrous claims made by the NRA when they can't think of what else to say. They can't explain why so many law abiding gun owners are killing innocent people so their simple explanation is that we should all just have guns on our persons wherever we go so we can save lives. Facts matter. It just isn't working the way Wayne LaPierre wants it to.Before speaking with USA Today, LaPierre addressed the Kansas City tragedy and ensuing Costas controversy during an episode of NRA News on Monday. Speaking with Cam Edwards and Ginny Simone, LaPierre railed against Costas for "trying to piggy-back his agenda on the back of this national tragedy and spew it all over America." LaPierre also contended that Costas "wouldn't have said a thing last night if this woman had saved her life, by having a firearm available, from Jovan Belcher." After those comments by LaPierre, Simone of NRA News went on to voice a view of Perkins' need for a weapon similar to the one that LaPierre would later share with USA Today."She was totally defenseless against this 6-foot guy that weighs 240 pounds," Simone said. "What if she had a firearm?"
Sadly, I must add another shooting incident in Minnesota. This Rochester man thought his granddaughter was an intruder and shot her through the door:
A gun in the home is more likely to be used against you or someone you love than to be used in self defense.A 61-year-old Rochester man shot his granddaughter at the patio door of his home late Monday night, apparently mistaking her for an intruder, police said.Authorities are still investigating the incident involving the 16-year-old girl, who lives at the house with her grandparents. Shot in the upper torso, she was taken to the hospital in critical condition but was expected to survive, Police Capt. Brian Winters said.When the couple went to bed Monday night, the girl was still at home, Winters said. When they woke to a noise outside around 11 p.m., the man armed himself with a 9 mm pistol and went to investigate while the grandmother called police.The man saw a figure at the patio door and fired two rounds, striking his granddaughter once, Winters said, declining to give the family's name."This is a tragic event and both the grandfather and grandmother were distraught and emotionally upset," he said.There was no evidence of any dispute or disagreement between the girl and her grandparents, Winters added. Police haven't been able to speak to the girl yet, who was responsive but not verbal."Preliminary indications are she perhaps left the residence to go outside and get some air and have a cigarette," Winters said.The grandfather was not arrested, but authorities will continue to investigate and, if appropriate, will forward the case to prosecutors for potential criminal charges, Winters said.