The public is beginning to pay attention but not in the way the gun rights extremists would like. There were two letters in my local paper today referencing the craziness of those who believe they need their arsenals of weapons to fight against a mythical tyrannical government. This is an idea supported by a very small majority of Americans who are so frightened and paranoid that they have been convinced that guns are the only way out for them. It's a stupid and dangerous view of the world. Some of my readers believe this stuff. You can see comments on some of my posts that reveal this paranoid world view. In America, as this letter writer pointed out, changes in government come at the ballot box. Not in an armed insurrection as happens in other less developed and democratic countries. And in my part of the country, driving this morning was much more hazardous to my health and well being than any burglar lurking around my house. No gun needed to protect me from spinning out on icy roads.
Anyway, in my last post I raised the idea of insuring gun owners for very good reasons and also highlighted yet some more stupid and dangerous incidents by otherwise "law abiding" gun owners. Some resulted in death, some in injury.
Apparently I am not the only one who has "smelled" that there are more "accidental" shootings of late. David Frum, conservative columnist, thinks we ought to do something about this. He is wondering if these "accidents" are rare? Let's take a look, from his article:
Frum is right. We have a serious problem and the solution is right in front of our faces. But we don't solve it because the gun lobby has weakened some laws and managed to get amendments on to other laws that have kept us from passing common sense gun violence prevention measures. So Frum wants us to do more research and start talking about the risks of guns in the home. And then he wonders about the firearms industry, as well he should. More from the article:How rare is "very rare"? In 2007, the United States suffered some 15,000-19,000 accidental shootings. More than 600 of these shootings proved fatal. Is that "very rare"?The total number of Americans killed and wounded by gun accidents exceeds the total number killed or injured in fires.The number killed in gun accidents is 20% higher than the total number killed in all U.S. civil aviation accidents.In 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to ban drop-side baby cribs because these cribs have been blamed for "dozens" of infant deaths over the entire previous decade. The 600+ accidental gun deaths in any single year amount to 50 dozen.Back when the Centers for Disease Control were allowed to do gun research, they found that American children under age 15 were nine times more likely to die of a gun accident than children in other advanced wealthy countries.The Centers for Disease Control reserve the term "very rare" for accidental deaths from vaccines, the number of which is zero, or close to it. If more than 600 people a year were dying from vaccines, we'd have a national uproar, if not a revolution. (...) Of course, guns in the home are also associated with higher rates of suicides and suicide attempts, not to mention homicides and assaults as well. About 200 Americans go to emergency rooms every day with gunshot wounds. On present trends, by 2015 more Americans will die from firearms - homicide, suicide, and accident - than from automobile accidents.
And then Frum mentioned the Tiarht Amendment, passed into law, which keeps information about trace data for crime guns from those who need the information. Why? The corporate gun lobby, of course. So to end, Frum says this:Yet when it comes to the most lethal of all consumer products, suddenly Congress becomes super-indulgent of industry fallibility. It would be a bold pharmaceutical executive who said that we didn't need child-proof bottles because it was a parent's responsibility to teach her 7 year old to stay away from the medicine chest. Yet that's just the answer we hear after incidents like yesterday's tragedy in Decatur, Ohio, when a 9 year old boy was shot in the head by his 13 year old sister.Nobody would suggest that better product design could prevent all gun accidents. I'm certainly not suggesting it. But it's true that the most popular range of handguns in the United States, Glock, is sold without a usable visual indicator of a bullet in the chamber.
Who pushes for laws like these? How do they justify themselves? It would be a public service to investigate such questions under oath in the open sunlight.So why not? In light of the increase in accidental shootings as increasing numbers of incidents have shown us, kids shooting themselves and others, suicides, homicides, why not? Why not figure this out? Lives depend on it. As long as incidents like those below are common occurrences, there will be plenty of attention paid to them and it won't look good for those who try to claim that these incidents don't matter. They do matter, in fact.
Perhaps if the insurance industry woke up to the potential of lawsuits when people with guns in public shoot someone on their property, things would change. In Kansas, the gun lobby, with the help of the legislature, is forcing public places to allow guns. Most places don't want the guns, knowing the potential for accidents or intentional shootings. The public doesn't want guns where they go to shop, take out books, do public business, etc. but that doesn't matter to the corporate gun lobby and its' bought and paid for legislators and Governors. It's too expensive to put security systems in place and so the only alternative is to allow the guns in? This is what the corporate gun lobby is up now. They work their wily ways into local and government policy decisions, claiming second amendment rights. The blatant disregard for public safety is there for all to see if they so choose. We are going in the opposite direction concerning smoking in public places because we understand the risk to public health when people are exposed to second hand smoke. That's because we have enough research to prove it. But the gun lobby doesn't allow research into the public health and safety affects of guns in the home and in public. Why not? Because the conclusions don't usually come out in their favor.
Another writer from New Jersey has also noticed the stench of deception coming from the corporate gun lobby. Here are some of his observations:
The bottom line is public health and safety- not gun industry profits. Until our leaders are bold enough to actually acknowledge what they already know, we will continue to have incidents and laws like those I will highlight, below.The challenge of balancing individual rights with the right to live demands uniform measures based on accurate data, objective research and national solutions that respect freedoms. Congress saved untold lives without infringing on freedom of travel by linking highway funds to a uniform minimum drinking age. State gun laws are piecemeal substitutes for effective national policy only Congress can set.States failed to curtail auto deaths until Congress created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Vehicles killed 54,000 annually then; now it’s 34,000. Because Americans drive three times as many miles today as in 1972, fatalities could number 150,000 if Congress hadn’t forced automakers to build safer cars.Congress spends billions to study and render products less dangerous than firearms — vehicles, airplanes, toys, aspirin — but nothing to research gun carnage. In 1996, it approved an NRA-written measure stripping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget of the exact amount it spent on gun research.The firearms industry blames shooters (or their parents) for gun deaths similar to how the auto industry blamed drivers. And gunmakers oppose cost-increasing safety add-ons the way automakers opposed seat belts. Thus, they oppose owner-recognition systems using grip sensors to render harmless stolen guns and guns with which children play. They oppose skin pore-emission sensors that could render armed inebriates harmless, technology similar to what Toyota and Nissan developed to render cars inoperable by the legally drunk.Gun lobbyists use Congress to block gun safety research, then disingenuously claim the technology is unproven. By bludgeoning scientists into research impotency, Congress thwarts unbiased study that could save millions of lives in four decades — tragedy masquerading as public policy.The moral imperative that transcends politics is as clear now as it was in 1970. Only a formidable cabinet agency can stop manipulation of the gun playing field on which innocents perish for the sake of industry bottom lines.
I have found that the only way to keep getting people to look at the bottom line is to show examples of the daily gun carnage. It's not a pretty picture and it's a dirty job but if some of us don't do it, the corporate gun lobby will pretend it's not happening and thus try to convince elected leaders that we really don't have a problem with gun violence. So let's continue where I left off in my last post:
A blind Florida man was granted immunity under the state's Stand Your Ground law, for killing a friend. He had previous problems with the law and with guns, but never mind. He got away with murder.
Speaking of Florida, firing warning shots will now be legal if a proposed bill makes it into law. Horray. I know I will be thinking twice about visiting the "gunshine" state. What goes up must come down. Firing warning shots is a stupid and dangerous proposition. It's just a matter of time before we see the consequences of such stupidity. Interestingly, some legislators are weakly "concerned" about the bill. Good grief. They will be a whole lot more concerned if people start getting injured or killed by the bullets fired in incidents of warning shots. We all know what happened after the Florida Stand Your Ground law passed. Have no lessons been learned? When the NRA lobbyists are involved in writing the laws, not much good comes of them.
Well, there's been another road rage shooting incident. A man died. From the article:
Wow- really? Let's hope that the shooter was not involved in two road rage incidents. That would be frightening.In multiple 911 calls shortly before he was killed, a man said he was being chased by an enraged motorist -- right up to when he was apparently run off the road in Pennsylvania and then shot to death, police said Friday.Timothy Davison, 28, was driving home to Maine along Interstate 81 early last Saturday when he was shot multiple times and killed in Antrim Township.So far, there is no indication that Davison initiated the incident or provoked the shooter, Pennsylvania State Police Capt. Steven Junkin told reporters Friday.Davison may have first encountered the shooter on Interstate 70 in Maryland and traveled between 13 and 15 miles, with the gunman in pursuit, before being forced off the road just beyond the Pennsylvania state line, authorities said. (...) Investigators initially believed the same motorist may have been behind another road rage shooting eight hours earlier and 56 miles northeast, but Junkin said Friday that the two crimes do not appear to be related.
And speaking of shootings and cars, a 9 year old North Carolina child was shot and later died from injuries when someone walking on a street fired at the car where the child was sitting. Senseless.
So, to summarize: Some conservatives and many not so conservative folks are writing in support of common sense gun violence prevention measures. Will it matter? Florida law allows for blind people to have guns and then let them get away with murder when they shoot someone. Florida law will likely allow people to fire warning shots into the air or wherever the stray bullets will go if someone "feels a threat." Kansas law is literally forcing public buildings to allow loaded guns inside. Accidental shootings are reported in the news with an increasing frequency. Either that or more of us are now paying attention which is not good news for the corporate gun lobby. See the Ohh Shoot blog. Road rage incidents seem to be happening with increasing frequency as more and more people now carry loaded guns in their cars thanks to the loosening of state laws allowing for this to happen. Children are being shot with increasing frequency. See the Kid Shootings blog. Gun rights extremists are strutting around in public places with openly carried assault rifles and pistols thinking they are making a point that will go in their favor. The point is lost on most of us. The corporate gun lobby is more interested in profit than saving lives and have managed to squelch research into the causes and effects of gun violence.
Is this the country we want? I don't think so. But it's what we have now thanks to the lack of courage of our elected leaders to prevent the daily carnage. We can change things if we have the will and the American people speak with louder voices, as David Frum now has. Others are joining him. Let's get to work and make change happen in the interest of saving lives.