Why you have to do something about guns
This message is primarily for those living in the United States. In the US, we have an outdated Constitutional amendment that has been interpreted by many, including the courts, in a way that hampers effective legislation to address what is clearly a major problem with the proliferation and use of firearms in inappropriate ways. We are frequently reminded of this by the regular occurrence of mass killings such as the recent event in Oregon. But really, that is a small part of the problem, numerically. I lay out some of the numbers below, and address some of the arguments that regulation of guns should be absent or minimal. We have another problem as well, one that is paralleled in many other areas of policy. Special interest groups such as the National Rifle Association, through pressure and campaign financing, control much of the Congress.
Other countries have addressed their gun violence problem effectively. We can too. But in order for that to happen, this has to happen:
A few days ago some dood shot George Zimmerman. Funny how people who play around so much with firearm-based personal defense systems are the most likely to get shot in an act of violence or by accident. Anyway, the guy who shot “Stand Your Ground George” will be using the “Stand Your Ground” defense. LOL.
Huffpo has the story:
An attorney for a Florida man charged with shooting at George Zimmerman said Friday that he planned to use a “Stand Your Ground” defense…
Such a defense would entitle Matthew Apperson to a hearing, ahead of his trial, during which a judge would decide if he deserves immunity from prosecution because he feared imminent death or bodily injury. …
Above image from here.
Last night, in the Minneapolis suburb of New Hope, two police officers were shot by a long-gun wielding man, who was immediately killed by other police officers. Here’s the story as we know it:
Two New Hope police recruits were at the City Council meeting being sworn in. They left the City Council room, and in the lobby outside the room, police in the lobby fired on by a man wielding a rifle or other sort of long gun. Police officers returned fire and killed that man. Two police officers were hit, are in hospital, no one else was killed.
There are a number of unknowns at this point such as were the recruits the cops that were hit? Who was the perp and why did he do that? These questions will be cleared up in due course, I’m sure.
But there are two other questions that I have. First, why was city council member John Elder packing a handgun? In this photograph from the scene, he is seen holding his pistol:
New Hope City Council Member John Elder draws his pistol at a City Council Meeting in response to hearing gunshots outside. He is also heard telling technicians to turn off the security cameras that were operating i the room at the time.
So, my first question is, why is a New Hope City Council member packing a gun at the meeting? Continue reading
A handful of media items on guns and gun control: Continue reading
Floyd Lee Corkins, armed with a gun, spare ammo, and 15 uneaten Chick-Fil-A sandwiches attacked the Family Research Council wounding an unarmed guard. Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, blamed the Southern Poverty Law Center for giving Corkins “license” to shoot at them. Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog discusses the question of assigning blame, suggesting that Perkins got that wrong.
Here’s the thing. One could say that Corkins was acting under some sort of inspiration created by organizations like the SPLC and other leftish or progressive organizations or groups who have spoken out against anti-gay rhetoric and policies. Similarly, one could say that when Jared Loughner killed and wounded a bunch of people at a Democratic Congresswoman’s public event people could have assigned blame to right wing rhetoric which is plenty enough laced with references to violence.
Is either of these assignations of blame valid? Yes. One is, one isn’t. Generally speaking these days, progressive movements and for the most part the “left” in America speaks out against violence, is more or less either anti-gun or pro gun regulation, mostly anti-war, and mostly pacifist, while the right wing tends to form heavily armed paramilitary militias, is totally against almost any kind of gun related regulations, is pro war, and bellicose. So when someone from the right shoots someone on the left, it really is a natural extension of what they talk about. When someone on the left shoots someone on the right, that’s a crazy person.
The last time I was in Oak Creek Wisconsin, it consisted mainly of field after field after field of corn. The soil was clay-rich, most likely representing a modified Pleistocene lake-bed. Although there are surely some interesting prehistoric sites in the area, the excavation of a few hundred test pits by a crew of us failed to yield anything of interest. Now, when I look at Google Map I can see that the development for which that archaeology was being done has happened and Oak Creek is no longer fields, and is now pretty much connected directly to Milwaukee by suburban sprawl.
White guys with guns seem to be a real problem. Isn’t there something we can do about that?
At least six people were killed Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, authorities said. The suspected shooter was later killed in exchange of gunfire with police.
Police were called to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the suburb of Oak Creek on Sunday morning, when witnesses said several dozen people were gathering for a service.
Police in Wisconsin say one suspect has been “put down” outside a Sikh temple and they do not know if other shooters are inside the building Authorities were called to the temple Sunday morning with a report of shots fired.
Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said the first officer to arrive encountered a man police believe was the shooter. The two exchanged gunfire, and the suspect was killed, he said.
For the last shooting, in Colorado, a lot of people took the effort to tell other people what to not say after it happened. They were not disagreeing with the comments being made, they were just saying that they knew a Magic Number that no one else seemed to know, a magic number of days after which it would be OK to speak your mind after a heart-numbing tragedy like this one.
The problem with telling people shut up until the right time has arrived (aside from the fact that the “right time” is made up and the “proper” delay is arbitrary) is that the next shooting by some white guy with guns may well happen before the Magic Number of days has passed. What do we do then?
This happened around midnight or 12:30 in Aurora, Colorado, which is near Denver. There is someone in custody. The mall theater was showing “The Dark Knight Rises.” The shooter fired from the front of the theater, shooting into the audience, after releasing a canister of some sort of gas.
10 people died at the theater, including some very young kids; four died at the hospital; 10 or so are being treated at the hospital; presumably the others said to be injured were treated at the scene. Some are being treated for chemical exposure.
The FBI has claimed that this does not appear to be terrorism. Yeah, I know, I’m heading for the dictionary just now.
Most of the injuries are not gunshot wounds, but from “shrapnel” caused by gunshot wounds, according to an Aurora police spokesperson. That makes sense. We wouldn’t want to blame guns for anything they didn’t actually do.
The police are looking everywhere for explosives: the theater, the parking lot where the gunman was arrested, and the gunman’s apartment.
I woke up to an icky world this morning. After painfully clearing my lungs and scarfing down some medication, I scanned the TV channels for news. and the blogosphere for inspiration. The TV was giving me mainly god, while the blogosphere was giving me measles, pandemics, murdered sea lions, and this poor eagle with its beak snapped off. Continue reading
In 1998, 13 year old Mitchell Johnson and his 11 year old buddy Andrew Golden gunned down four students aged 11 and 12 and English Teacher Shannon Wright, and wounded 10 other people, at Jonesboro Westside Middle School. They had pulled the fire alarm to bring their victims into this trap. Continue reading