This is also cross posted at my other blogging site. Please check it out.
I'll get to the Armadillo in a minute. But first....
A man walking a hiking trail in Arizona was hit by a bullet from somewhere in the distance. The bullet is still lodged in one of his wounded legs and now he is wondering if the bullet came from a nearby shooting range. From the article:
Sawyer said he was hiking the Max Delta Loop Trail around 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, he didn't immediately realize he was shot."I was like I don't know what's wrong; something's wrong with my legs," said Sawyer.The bullet went all the way through his right leg and lodged in his left leg. He manages to make his way down the mountain and to a ranger station where he called for help.There are two gun ranges north of the trail at the base of South Mountain. One belongs to the Phoenix Police Academy; the other is a private gun club called the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club.Investigators say no one was shooting at the Police Academy at the time.According to a police report, detectives believe the bullet that hit Sawyer came from the gun club, as does Sawyer's attorney Garvey Biggers."We know for a fact there were three competitions going on, all ages were shooting that day, from children to adults... so if you have an inexperienced shooter, you could easily lose control of your weapon," said attorney Garvey Biggers.Sawyer's legal team says the range is exactly 540 meters from where Sawyer says he was on the trail.Is it possible for a bullet to travel 540 meters?"Yes, no doubt about it," said Biggers.
Of course, the owners of the gun range are disputing the hiker's story. They wouldn't want to be held responsible for flying bullets that travel far enough to hit innocent hikers on walking trails.
In my neck of the woods, we often hear gun fire at our cabin and at the cabins of good friends. There are more than a few shooting ranges in our area. People love to shoot their guns at targets or practice their shooting skills before hunting season or just for sport. And they are mostly safe. But guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill. Bullets travel far and often stop when they hit an innocent person at a distance. There need to be very strict regulations and safety practices for those who shoot guns at shooting ranges or those who choose to fire off their guns for fun on private property.
Remember this one? Florida law comes down on the side of allowing gun owners to shoot off their guns in residential neighborhoods close to families and children. Where is common sense? From the article:
That changed in 2011 when Gov. Rick Scott signed a measure putting teeth into the state restriction. Now local officials could be fined, removed from office and held responsible for their own legal bills if they're sued over local gun ordinances.In January, Volusia County municipal managers began communicating by email about the issue of the firing of guns on private property. Ponce Inlet Town Manager Jeaneen Witt wrote in a Jan. 10 email to South Daytona City Manager Joe Yarbrough that a resident in her city was setting up a shooting range on his property. Witt expressed her concern over the powerlessness of local governments to control the use of firearms and suggested lobbying legislators to set a criteria such as lot sizes and buffers.
This is the gun lobby at work "protecting" us all and it's state legislators failure to stand up to the gun lobby.
Where is the right of people to feel safe in their neighborhoods from potential flying bullets?
It happens. This Kentucky woman was lucky she didn't get hit by a stray bullet while using the bathroom:
A Lexington woman says a neighbor target practicing in his yard shot a bullet into her home over the weekend.Fairshinda McLaughlin said she and her family were outside enjoying the spring weather at their home on Lexington's outskirts Sunday afternoon when they heard a loud noise."I thought it was a bomb. I thought a propane tank or something exploded, It was that loud," she said.That sound was a stray bullet crashing through her bathroom window.McLaughlin called the police, and officers discovered the source of the bullet - a neighbor about a mile away firing at targets in his yard.McLaughlin said she was just about to go use that bathroom.
Seriously folks. Can we talk about this dangerous culture of anything goes with guns anywhere? I could provide many more such inane and dangerous examples.
And then, of course, this one went around on social media because it was so stupid and ridiculous:
A Georgia woman was accidentally shot by her son-in-law on Sunday while he was attempting to shoot an armadillo.According to WALB, 54-year-old Larry McElroy was outside when he fired his 9 mm pistol at the armadillo. The bullet killed the animal and ricocheted off of its shell.The bullet then struck a nearby fence, went through the back door of his mother-in-law’s home, through the recliner she was sitting in and struck her in the back.
Fortunately for all, she was not badly hurt. Bullets don't know where to stop. Can we talk about gun safety reform?
Recently in Vermont, a 6 year old boy was doing some target shooting with his family when he was accidentally shot:
The boy, his father and two other children were taking turns shooting at a target with a .22 caliber pistol, under the supervision of the father.While the boy was shooting, the handgun failed to discharge. The child subsequently lowered the still-loaded firearm, but before his father could intervene, the gun discharged. The bullet hit the boy in the lower leg, White said.
Some of my critics would tell me that it's OK for 6 year olds to be out shooting at targets. I would argue otherwise. Supervised or not, 6 year olds don't seem old enough to handle the responsibility of holding a deadly weapon. Guns and kids just don't go together well. Numerous incidents of "accidental" shootings by children are reported every day in media sources. I write about them. I also write about how these can be avoided.
The first question I want to ask is if adults really think children can handle guns? The second question I would ask is why we want young children near guns? The third question I would ask is why children aren't participating in the activities more suitable to young children like just playing, riding bikes, going to the playground, playing soccer or softball or swimming, etc.?
And one important question to ask is if there are guns in the homes where your children play and hang-out? The Brady Center's ASK campaign is encouraging parents to ask this very important question. It's not a frivolous question nor should it be controversial. Here's why. Yesterday charges were filed against an Idaho couple who left unsecured loaded guns around in their home which resulted in one child shooting and killing a friend:
Prosecutors are charging Rusty and Ashlee Lish with one count each of misdemeanor injury to a child for the accidental shooting death of Noelle Shawver that happened nine months ago.Shawver died on July 30th after being accidentally shot in the chest by another five year old at Lish’s Chubbuck home.According to police reports Noelle Shawver was playing with another 5-year-old in the master bedroom of the Lish’s Chubbuck home.Court records say people in the home heard the gun go off and when they went into the room, they found Shawver with gunshot wound to the chest.Shawver was taken to Portneuf Medical Center where she died from the wound.Investigators say inside the master bedroom they found the .22 caliber rifle involved in the shooting, a loaded 12 gauge shotgun with a round in the chamber, a loaded 7 millimeter rifle and a loaded Glock handgun, all unsecured and within reach of the children. (...)"Even though the adults weren't actors they provided the setting that allowed this young boy to go in and point the gun and pull the trigger," said Herzog.According to police reports multiple officers at the scene located several loaded and unsecured guns in the master bedroom area of the home, where Shawver and the other child were playing."It's a horrible tragedy," says Herzog.Police say of the four guns found in the room the children were playing all were within reach, and no locks or other security measures were located on any of the weapons. Herzog says he hopes this case brings awareness to gun safety."The Lish’s are going to be in a position where hopefully they can do some good and increase public awareness about firearms in the home and overall the community can get some benefit from it," said Herzog.
Will these parents get involved in public awareness about the risks of loaded, unsecured guns in homes? We can only hope. They are poster parents for the reason parents ought to use common sense and ask about guns in other parents' homes. No one ever believes something like this can happen. But happen it does- too frequently.
We need to have a serious national discussion about the public health and safety problems presented by the over 300 million guns owned by Americans. In no other country is this a problem. Why are we not having the discussion? One answer is pretty clear. The corporate gun lobby doesn't want that discussion because if the risks of guns in homes is revealed and discussed, perhaps parents will think twice about buying guns for whatever reason they do. Yes, some people believe they need guns for self protection. They must believe the horror stories of home invasions, the need for guns to protect themselves from national disasters, from some invisible enemy or whatever the gun lobby is telling them.
The NRA's own Wayne LaPierre has been busy warning Americans about all of the dangers out there that should remind people they must have guns to defend themselves. And he's not afraid to mention the beheadings and murders committed by terrorists, or other such awful things that could actually befall us if we don't have our guns for protection. See it for yourself below in his words at the 2015 CPAC conference:
I wonder if the parents ( above) now charged with recklessness and negligence with their guns believed that the nightmare the gun lobby warned them about was actually one that happened because of their own guns not because of something for which they thought they needed those guns? I wonder if that father who allowed his 6 year old to shoot at targets because, well because....... thought his own gun would injure his own child instead of some invisible enemy lurking dangerously outside of his home.
Aren't we better than this? We need this discussion about the risks of guns. It is beginning in spite of gun lobby efforts to stop it. Here's a great article by Harvard public health researcher David Hemenway about the public health risks of guns:
So I decided to determine objectively, through polling, whether there was scientific consensus on firearms. What I found won’t please the National Rifle Association. (...)I also found widespread confidence that a gun in the home increases the risk that a woman living in the home will be a victim of homicide (72 percent agree, 11 percent disagree) and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be (64 percent) rather than a safer place (5 percent). There is consensus that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime (73 percent vs. 8 percent) and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates (62 percent vs. 9 percent). Finally, there is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide (71 percent vs. 12 percent).Of course, it’s possible to find researchers who side with the NRA in believing that guns make our society safer, rather than more dangerous. As I’ve shown, however, they’re in the minority.Scientific consensus isn’t always right, but it’s our best guide to understanding the world. Can reporters please stop pretending that scientists, like politicians, are evenly divided on guns? We’re not.
OK. The evidence from researchers and professionals in many fields agree. Guns in the home are a risk to those in the home. Duh. There is evidence. What are we doing about it? So far, ignoring it but it can't be ignored for much longer. It's time for a change in the conversation that can lead to a change in both policy and our nation's fascination with guns.