And now the people of France have taken to the streets with signs saying "Je Suis Charlie" - I am Charlie. We are all Charlie. For freedom and liberty should not have to come at the end of gun barrels. Terror attacks have been killing people for centuries. And often they come with guns and bullets. Can we change that? If so, how?
I have said before, as have many others, all it will take to terrorize cities and countries all over the world is a few terrorists with guns- likely assault type guns. The shooters in Paris appear to be extremists who succeeded in an attack on a group of journalists who had written political and religious satire that they didn't apparently like. I think we can all remember the attack on Mumbai (164 people dead, 308 injured) where a lot of people were killed by terrorists and the city was paralyzed by the attack. Recently there was an attack in Canada by a "lone wolf" who had a gun and terrorized Ottawa ( 2 dead including the shooter) for hours. And we can't forget about the DC sniper case (10 dead, 3 injured) which kept cities on the east coast of our country on high alert as the 2 snipers moved from place to place randomly killing innocent people. This was a case of home grown terrorism and we have had more than a number of these kinds of incidents in our very own country. And in Norway, an extremist with a gun killed 77 innocent Norwegians. The shooter purchased his high capacity magazines in the U.S.
The worst of this is that known terrorists can actually buy guns and ammunition legally in America. Yes. It's true. I have written about this many times before. We have what some call a "terror gap" in our gun laws where the names of those on the terror watch list are not sent to the FBI's list of prohibited purchasers to stop them from buying guns at a licensed gun dealer. And then, of course, anyone can buy a gun from a private seller at a gun show, flea market or through an Internet site. This is the definition of insanity.
Back in 2011, my friend Cliff Schecter who writes for Daily Beast and other media, wrote this piece about guns and terror attacks:
What will we have to do to stop the NRA and radical gun nuts from arming terrorists? Can we overcome the gobs of arms-dealer cash when 70% of the NRA's own members can't even seem to convince their leadership that the latter hold dangerous, anti-law enforcement views?Schecter writes about an issue that gets little attention here until a terrorist attack occurs. Even then, it doesn't get the attention it deserves. After watching the PBS Frontline special on Tuesday night named "Gunned Down" (about the NRA), one would think all is futile. The NRA has won everything and the gun safety groups might just as well pack up and go home to put our heads in a hole. Yes, Wayne LaPierre has pulled off something that is pretty unbelievable and bold. He has managed, along with the corporate gun lobby and its' minions, to convince some Americans and a whole lot of politicians that there is absolutely nothing we can do about terror attacks, domestic shootings, 2 year olds shooting their own family members, suicide by gun, and all of those mass shootings. And this is, according to the gun lobby members who agreed to be interviewed for the show, about freedom. If we pass any common sense gun safety legislation, gun owners will lose their freedoms? Apparently these folks never think about the freedoms lost by those who are killed by guns. Watching the parents of several of the Sandy Hook children on the Frontline special was painful. How can anyone not understand that this is the ultimate loss of freedom?
LaPierre and the gang are meeting with stronger resistance from gun safety reform groups and their message is becoming so ridiculously archaic and irrelevant that even a majority of NRA members are supporting the very common sense measure opposed by this auspicious and mythically powerful group. How have we come to the point of not wanting to stop at least some terrorists from getting guns or preventing some domestic shootings or stopping some teens from suicide by gun? How have we become so numb to the gun culture that a shooting of a young mother by her own 2 year old is excused because the mother lives in a gun culture where people just carry guns to carry guns? Or how have we come to a point where the viewpoint of a man who has been called crazy by many trumps the pleas of parents of 20 slain 6 and 7 year olds?
A review of the Frontline special addresses some of these concerns:
So back to what happened in France and the connection to the American gun culture. The corporate gun lobby has long stood in the way of an International Arms Treaty. But finally the treaty has passed. From this article:Given its time frame, the PBS documentary does not cover a tectonic shift in the gun-control landscape that has occurred over the past 18 months. I am referring to energetic and sustained grass-roots efforts by groups like Everytown and Colorado Ceasefire, the latter playing a formative role in the expansion of Colorado background checks in 2013. Everytown now claims more than 2.5 million supporters, not bad for an organization that started operating the day after Sandy Hook. The NRA makes headlines when the focus is on Washington, D.C., but they have never garnered the kind of media attention that Shannon Watts and her group received when they got Target to ask its customers not to bring guns into their stores.It won't be easy for the gun lobby to paint this production as just another example of how the liberal media scorn the value of guns. But the media may soon realize that what was once a good story may now need a different end.
Yup. We will continue to export arms to people all over the world and add to the problem of terrorism and human rights abuses- all because of the gun lobby. Where is common sense?"It's a big victory for the human rights community," Frank Jannuzi, a deputy executive director with Amnesty International USA, told Mother Jones. "It shows that it can fight back against the gun lobby." Amnesty has spent nearly two decades working with Oxfam International and other human rights organizations to get international arms trade regulations in place.The NRA and other gun groups strongly opposed the treaty, capitalizing on conservative myths that it would infringe on Second Amendment rights by undermining the country's sovereignty. But the gun lobby's real opposition to the treaty is probably economics. The US is the world's leading arms exporter, and gun dealers aren't eager to be required to report weapons exports that may wind up in the hands of warlords or terrorists overseas.GOP senators like Rand Paul (Ky.) are still repeating the false claim that abiding by the treaty would lead to an international registry of American gun owners and "full-scale gun CONFISCATION." Conservatives have also argued that the treaty violates the Second Amendment by recognizing the rights of governments, but not their citizens, to self-defense, even though it has no international policing mechanism and explicitly recognizes the "inherent right of all States to individual or collective self-defence."Although the Obama administration supports the Arms Trade Treaty, US law stipulates that international treaties must be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. There's no chance that will happen. In March, the Senate approved a budget amendment to "uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty."
I am going to share a quote from a friend whose daughter was shot in a mass shooting:
While the world is rightfully outraged over Paris, we will have 80 + citizens killed and wounded TODAY in America. Thanks to the NRA and our craven politicians we allow easy access to guns to felons, domestic abusers and mentally ill without background checks. Do you really believe what happened in Paris can't happen here? Oh wait, #Aurora #VTech #Newtown #Columbine. We just don't call it terrorism because it's not "political"And access to guns by terrorists. The Paris shooting was about terror. It was about killing. It was about guns. It was about intolerance. It was about revenge. It may have been about religion. We have experienced our own terror in America many times over and what have they been about? Some have been about religious intolerance. See the Sikh Temple shooting. Many have been about revenge- like the numerous school shootings. Many have been about mental illness -Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson, etc. etc.. Many have been about domestic abuse- 56% of mass shootings have been related to domestic abuse. And these, too, have instilled terror into the country at least during the news cycles about the incidents. And then we move on and we have another one without doing one thing about the previous one.
Perhaps the discussion about the Paris shooting will turn to the guns and the access to guns for that is surely part of this that should not be ignored. Meanwhile, we mourn with France for the senseless and tragic loss of life and we continue to hope for peace and non-violent solutions to problems. Weapons are the ultimate power and control and the ultimate revenge and have been used for centuries to terrorize human beings. That doesn't mean we should sit back and accept this violence. It is for the victims that I do this work and will continue to do this work.
And I can't stop writing until I mention that today is the 4th anniversary of the shooting that badly injured Rep. Gabby Giffords and killed 6 innocent people at a shopping mall parking lot. Gabby Giffords remains courageous in the fight for common sense regarding guns and gun violence. She understands that this is all about the victims and knows that we must do something to make change happen.
Several folks who read this post made comments not published. They were arrogant and demeaning. They didn't believe anything I wrote and don't believe the tragic terror attack in Paris had anything to do with access to guns. One wondered what the "gun control" community would think about this. What I wrote is pretty much what most of us are thinking. And here is a post from the National Gun Victims Action Council expressing the same thoughts that I wrote. From the article:
People who are on the U.S.’s “no-fly” list but are still allowed to legally buy guns in the U.S. is why, at NGVAC, we do not ask for common sense laws–we ask for sane laws. U.S. gun laws are not lacking in common sense–they are insane. (...) The gun lobby also defends sales to civilians of TrackingPoint’s “can’t miss” sniper rifle which has no defensive use and is ready-made for terrorists, insurgents and hate groups. Its ads show a 12-year-old girl hitting a target 1000 yards away–ten football fields–every time.
As international terrorism increases, we in the U.S. should not feel exempt or safe. Certainly there are cells in the United States ready to commit the type of barbarism that happened his week in France. And, even if such terrorists make the government’s “no-fly” list, thanks to the gun lobby they can still legally buy guns. Allowing this situation is not a lack of “common sense”–it’s insanity.Indeed. Insanity reigns around the world. Guns make it all so easy.
I would like to call attention to this article since a comment was made on my blog that someone with a concealed carry license could surely have saved the day at Charlie Hebdo. The offices had 3 armed guards at the time of the shooting. From the article:
Gun trafficking. What did I say? It just makes common sense.Like many European Union nations, France has strict gun-control laws that make it hard for anyone, including law-abiding citizens, to own firearms. And it's unlikely that will change after three gunmen opened fire at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's office in Paris on Wednesday, killing 12 people, including two police officers.Gary Mauser, a professor at the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, who has written extensively on European gun control, said any proposals to change France's gun laws after the massacre probably wouldn't get very far. “The Europeans are unlikely to change legislation in order to encourage civilians to arm themselves for protection,” he said. “The armed guards at Charlie Hebdo were professionals and they were killed by the terrorists -- and without wounding their attackers.”Mark Barnes, director of the International Association for the Protection of Civil Arms Rights in Washington, D.C., said the gun-control debate is long over for Europe. “It's certainly a logical question to ask, because it is so engrained in Europe that the state is responsible for protecting its citizens,” said Barnes. “What you have to recognize is that the right to self-defense is shaped much differently in Europe … It will be interesting to see if this does lead to a legitimate discussion.” (...)Before European gun-rights advocates can even think about repealing strict gun laws in their countries, they have to make the case for having a debate in the first place, he said. “[Those groups] are dealing with being able to just own firearms and trying to make self-defense a legitimate issue,” Gottlieb said. “You don’t just have the laws of individual countries, you have EU laws, too. … Part of the debate is ‘Should the EU get to dictate to countries or should member states be able to decide for themselves?’”The EU requires member states to have a set of minimum gun-control laws, including stringent background-check laws, to ensure that a gun buyer is “not likely to be a danger to themselves, to public order or to public safety.” The EU considers a conviction for a past violent intentional crime as “indicative of such danger.” Member states are free to enact stricter gun-control laws.There are an average of 31 guns per 100 people in France, making it the 11th highest in global gun ownership per capita, according to Deseret News. As a general rule, “firearms which have no legitimate sporting or recreational use are not permitted entry into France,” according to the French Embassy in Washington, D.C.Despite strong gun-control laws across the EU, there is still some appetite for even stricter laws. A 2013 poll found 53 percent of Europeans wanted stricter laws on who can own, buy or sell guns. Roughly 58 percent wanted laws to be more uniform across the bloc. In an op-ed in late 2013, Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet called for more cooperation between EU nations to reduce smuggling by sharing information and closing down smuggling routes.The gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices used AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles, which are some of the cheapest and most ubiquitous assault rifles in the world. An AK-47 typically sells for around $1,100 to $1,800 in France on the black market, according to Bloomberg.If there arises a debate in France following the Charlie Hebdo attack, said Barnes, it will be over national security and gun trafficking, not gun rights.