And lax legislation and elected representatives who run their elections using money from the gun industry make sure there are PLENTY of guns to go around. People who are running for office who have pro NRA positions and/or take gun money should be drummed out of politics.

The rate of gun ownership in a state predicts the rate of gun deaths in that state.

This works across countries as well.

Once again. Politicians who have voted in favor of NRA policies need to go.

Photo above from TIME

Texas has adopted a law that allows students to bring a handgun to class, or to meetings with professors.

As a response to this policy, the president of the Faculty Senate, Jonathan Snow, gathered a group of faculty and gave a powerpoint presentation that included the slide at the top of the post.

Snow’s presentation was not any sort of official university statement, but the slide does a good job of demonstrating the likely effect on faculty student relationships under the conditions where students are more likely to pull out a handgun and plug the professor.

The situation, and the context for this presentation, are written up in this post at the Chronicle of Higher Education. PZ Myers discusses it here. The powerpoint presentation is available here.

A suitable response faculty may consider is 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.
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

The frequency with which shooting events in the US occurs has gone way up in the last few years, according to recent research. Amy Cohen, Deborah Azarael and Mathew Miller have an article at Mother Jones reviewing the research: Rate of Mass Shootings Has Tripled Since 2011, Harvard Research Shows…And: Why claims in the media that mass shootings aren’t increasing are wrong.

I find the graphic they used a bit odd:

shootingsSince2011-mfms11 (1)

The overall form of the graph shows a decrease over time. But it really shows an increase. You just have to know how to read it. The Y axis is the number of days since the last shooting, which as we can see is very high for several shootings before about 2011, but very low after. But, once you do understand the graph it makes the point very clearly. Notice that there are several time periods prior to 2011 which also have low numbers (meaning more shooting events) but those periods are never very long. There seems to be a dramatic and sustained increase in rate of shootings.

The authors explain it this way:

As the chart above shows, a public mass shooting occurred on average every 172 days since 1982. The orange reference line depicts this average; data points below the orange line indicate shorter intervals between incidents, i.e., mass shootings occurring at a faster pace. Since September 6, 2011, there have been 14 public mass shootings at an average interval of less than 172 days. A run of nine points or more below the orange average line is considered a statistical signal that the underlying process has changed. …The standard interpretation of this chart would be that mass shootings, as of September 2011, are now part of a new, accelerated, process.

First, I want to say this to George Zimmerman and his lawyer. Stop whining. You are the one who chose to kill someone, and did so, then got away with it. It is not you who lost or who has had your life torn apart or taken away or anything like that. So stop being the damn victim. No one is going to hunt you down and kill you. That’s you, George. That’s you who hunts down and kills people. Other people, generally, don’t do that. No one is going to hunt you down and kill you or in any other way bother you. Having said that, it is true that much of the part of humanity that is aware of your existence will view you as a dangerous monster for the rest of your life, but I’m thinking that you view this as a good thing because you are the guy who hunts down and kills people. I think that is all I want to say to whiny George Zimmerman and hid Whiny Lawyer.

The big concern now is this: Black will riot in cities across the land and/or mainly whitish vigilantes will flood the streets and shoot anything with a hoodie.

For the most part neither of these things will happen. If there is one thing we’ve learned from the last few decades of changes in gun laws, sudden and dramatic events related to firearm use and abuse, etc. is that a) the brownish people never really go to the streets to kill all the whitish people and b) the gun nuts never really change what they do or the rate at which they do it. And, I’ll add c) criminals and miscreants don’t pay much attention to any of this stuff. Nothing is going to happen.

I’m not saying that there isn’t going to be change. The Zimmerman trial outcome has actually helped to galvanize the anti-gun lobby a little bit, and that lobby was already in action. If anything, this event may bring into the fold a few groups that were not already as engaged. It turns out that the youth are at constant risk of being killed or maimed in this country by older males with firearms, and that this risk applies across levels of privilege, variations in skin tone, regions of the country, urban vs. rural, and all of that.

For young people in the United States, your chance of being killed by a firearm-wielding adult male, in a fire arms accident, or by a self inflicted gunshot, is much higher than the chance of dying of any disease. Guns are the new polio. Guns are the new small pox. Guns are the new plague.

Two things are starting to dawn on the American population. First, we are realizing that the possession of handguns as a constitutionally protected right to stave off an oppressive government is a failed fantasy. Imagine having the right to free speech but everyone’s larynx is removed routinely at birth. Imagine having the right to free assembly and due process but we are locked in separate cages at the age of ten forever. Absurd ideas, aren’t they? We are guaranteed the right to stave off an oppressive government by having a right to own firearms. That worked great with the Patriot Act. The NSA … they never considered spying on American citizens because HANDGUNS. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies will never use Drones on US soil because …. hey, wait a minute …

The second thing we’ve come to realize is that guns are actually very very dangerous. For a couple of generations we’ve grown up with “bang bang you’re dead” style entertainment on TV and in movies, and I think a lot of people don’t realize what really happens when someone pulls the trigger. People don’t experience the temporary (or not) loss of hearing from the sound (especially in a closed space), the smell of the explosion that happens inside the gun, the smell of the blood that spills of the floor. When you ears start to hear again after the shots, there is the sound of the screaming or moaning or incredulous ranting (“You shot me, you shot me, I can’t believe you shot me”) followed by some sort of silence, the silence of a severely wounded person, the silence of a brooding son or daughter with a minor injury to the flesh but a permanent injury to their psyche having just been shot at by daddy, or the silence a person makes when they lie unconscious and bleeding out, or the silence of a corpse.

But now we have soldiers, many more soldiers, among us who know that guns are real and “bang band you’re dead” is not. We have an increasing awareness of an increasing number of incidents in which all the people in a school or all the people who went to see a movie or all the people who visited their candidate for Congress or some other thing suddenly experience the terror of the blasting, the smells, the screaming, the different kinds of deathly silence, and in many cases, personally experience the tearing and exploding flesh, with the lucky ones perhaps being those who are killed quickly by some guy who has expressed his constitutional right to bear arms by firing as many bullets as possible into a crowd.

The Zimmerman verdict moves us measurably closer to effective gun control. This is not the way we should be moving away from the Middle Ages and towards a Civilized World, but it is in fact the only way we seem to be moving. There will be more stand-your-ground shootings, more archaic laws, more unjust verdicts, more mass shootings, all against the background of something close to 3,000 firearm assisted youth suicides and a somewhat larger number of deadly gunshot wounds during crime and street fighting, and no effect on what the government or big corporations do to repress or exploit the average person and no invasions from Canada or Mexico that could only be stopped by a “well regulated militia.” And every now and then some truly good guy will shoot a truly bad guy, stopping the bad guy from doing something truly bad, and people will notice that a handful of such cases against thousands and thousands of gun related deaths a year is not worth it.

Above all, and please never lose sight of this, guns are toys. We are talking about the preservation of the right to play with specific toys, and the right to extend that play into the street and to involve people who did not want to play with these toys to begin with. Stand your ground is a game, it is boys with their toys playing cops and robbers. Boys with their toys build forts in their homes and protect them from invasion. Boys with their toys get together in groups and go out on the street to play army. Boys with their toys collect toys and take them apart and put them together and clean them until they are shiny. Boys with their toys go to big meetings with other boys and trade and sell and exchange and show off. Boys with their toys go to galleries where they can practice and raise their scores.

George Zimmerman was a boy with his toy, and he played cops and robbers, and Treyvon Martin died because he did not follow Zimmerman’s instructions to stand down. Half this country thinks it is OK for a boy like George to take his toy into the street and make other people play and kill them when they do not. The other half is appalled. That second half, it’s growing.

As you know, I often mention reports from the Ohh Shoot blog, which chronicles the virtually daily instances of someone doing something accidental with a gun and the associated serious wounding or killing of one or more other individuals. These events are not part of the large number of suicides using guns that happen every year, and they are not part of the large number of shootings related to felonies carried out with the aid of a gun and they are not part of the number of times a person shoots a truly armed and dangerous intruder truly intruding the home (as opposed to a grandchild hanging out on the porch mistaken for an intruder by a trigger happy grandpa). In other words, the steady drumbeat of accidental serious wounding and killing that counts as pure gun-related accident is a small component of the overall problem of gun violence.

Nonetheless it is important.

If a plane crashed and 365 people died in the crash and it turned out that the plane crashed because there were two commercial airline pilots playing chicken, people would notice, people would get mad, people would go to prison, new laws would be passed and new rules would be made, and no one would be saying it isn’t important. No one.

Well, those ca 365 deaths that happen every year in the US because two idiots are playing chicken or because some cop left his private handgun loaded and unlocked on the night stand or because some buzzed dudes decided to practice shooting in the living room of their apartment are the same thing.

So it is important, which is a point I wanted to make here, but not the main focus of this post. Instead, I want to try something a bit fast and loose and dangerous but that might be interesting.

You know that on National Gun Appreciation Day a gazillion responsible gun owners got together to fork over their hard earned money to gun dealers and otherwise play around with their hardware. During this process, a certain number of people have taken bullets or fragments of bullets as various firearms were accidentally discharged. As of this writing, 8 people have been shot. John McKay is documenting this here.

But they all lived, and in fact, I think none of the incidents were serious enough to have made it into Ohh Shoot blog were it not for the connection to the Gun Appreciation Day events. (Even then, I’m not sure if they’ll be covered there or not).

What does this mean? Well, there may be a number, a factor, that we can multiply by the number of near deadly or deadly incidents of the type that seem to happen at a rate of about one per day, to estimate the total number of dumb-ass accidental woundings that happen every day above and beyond the more spectacular ones, when people merely get nicked and don’t bother getting medical attention, or the incident is otherwise not reported.

So far, that number could be around 8, based on John’s data. But really, are we sure that every single event happening at the Gun Appreciation Day is being reported? Maybe we should round up to 10. In any event, we should wait a few days for the dust and smoke to settle, and see what John’s final count is, and consider which cases were serious enough to have been widely reported and to make it into a blog like Ohh Shoot.

At present, it would not be entirely absurd to suggest that between 3,000 and 4,000 events occur in the US each year in which someone does something dumb with a gun, the gun goes off, and someone gets nicked. How many times does something like this happen, the gun goes off, but no one is nicked? I’ll guess ten times that. About 35,000 times a year, somebody does something dumb with a gun and it fires unexpectedly. About 3500 times someone is nicked with the bullet or shrapnel but not seriously injured. About 350 times there is a serious wounding or death. Mostly, we hear about that last category.

Don’t like my numbers, assumptions, or calculations? Fine! Provide your own in the comments.

Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Let’s spend a little time to appreciate guns. Because this is the very first Gun Appreciation Day! I’m not sure why we’ve never had a Gun Appreciation Day before, but now that we have one let’s celebrate with a review of the last month’s interesting stories about guns! Yay!

For completeness, because I’m sure Gun Appreciation Day was generated in response to the massacre of 20 six year olds and their teachers and other school personnel in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, we’ll go back to the day before that event, to something sort of local to me, and review events over the last month or so.

An old man in Rochester, Minnesota heard someone on his patio, so he grabbed his 9 mm and pumped a couple of rounds through the door. It was his granddaughter sneaking around outside. She was shot in the throat, lived, but was in serious condition for a while. Yesterday, the local officials charged him.

On December 14th, as you know, 26 people at an elementary school, mostly six or seven year olds, were executed by a guy who borrowed his mom’s guns. He killed himself.

Ryder Rozier shot himself in the head with a loaded pistol he found in the night stand. This was in Oklahoma, so it's OK, no laws were violated.
Three days later, in Columbia, South Carolina, 62-year-old Jerry Marsh killed himself while dismantling his Glock. This was done at the Shooter’s Choice gun store and range. In Guthrie Oklahoma, the very next day, Ryder Rozier, three years old, got a hold of his uncle’s handgun, loaded and unlocked in a bedroom nightstand. The little boy shot himself in the head and died. That is legal in Oklahoma, apparently. You can leave the gun around loaded and unlocked, it’s OK, so nobody did anything wrong.

On the 19th, two 20-something year olds went to a gun show in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. One of them bought a 9mm handgun, loaded it, and the gun went off. He shot himself through the hand, and shot his friend in the ass, all with one bullet! Apparently, that’s OK, no charges were filed. You can do that in Kentucky.

A few days after Christmas, Robert Furey, of North Carolina, told the cops that he shot his teenage neighbor with a high powered rifle. He had heard someone coming in the house so he started shooting. 15 year old Nick Exley was killed on the spot. Furey later changed his story to “it went off by accident when I was showing him the gun.” But don’t get the wrong impression. It isn’t necessarily the case that everyone who is a killer is also a liar! Maybe just this one guy.

On December 31st, Attorney Guy Dotson of Tennessee shot himself while cleaning his handgun. It was a through and trough. Dotson specializes in weapons related law:

Guy R. Dotson Jr. and M. Andy Brunelle have more than two decades of combined experience with a broad range of gun charge cases. From arrest to outcome, you can count on them for thorough research and investigation, and preparation of your case as if it is going to trial. We skillfully negotiate with prosecutors and persuasively present your story to a judge and jury if necessary.

I have not heard if he survived. Anybody know?

Happy New Year! On January 2, two people were killed in Vermont while appreciating guns. Louis Miller was holding his handgun when it went off. He wasn’t drunk, but may have been buzzed. Buzzed gunplay is drunk gunplay, people! Anyway, he’s dead. Also, Jacob Lehouillier of Vermont was killed by his brother while he was cleaning a shotgun. The very next day, in neighboring Massachusetts, two guys were playing “quick draw” to see which was quicker, a knife and a gun. One of them (the one with the gun) proceeded to shoot the other, who was hospitalized in serious condition. That apparently is not legal in Massachusetts, so charges were filed. The very next day, on January 4th, 8 year old Easton Brueger was killed by his daddy who was cleaning his gun when it went off. Easton did not die quickly.

On January 7th, 10 year old Aaliyah Boyer, of Pennsylvania, died. The was struck in the head by a bullet discharged for celebratory reasons. No one knows who shot the gun randomly into the air. The very next day, Al Dastmalchi, of North Carolina blasted his brother, George, thinking him to be an intruder. In an unrelated event, police had been called to the home earlier that night to deal with a domestic disturbance, at which time George was taken to the hospital to sober up, and later released. This shooting was totally legal in North Carolina so no charges will be filed. Stand your ground! Kill your drunk brother! The very next day, a four year old boy was shot by Brian Bruno, of Kansas, while playing around with a handgun. The boy was not killed. Bruno had pulled the trigger thinking the handgun to be unloaded. He is being charged. The very next day one 12 year old in Alabama killed another 12 year old boy with a 20 gauge he had gotten for Christmas.

On January 14th, Alex Shaw, of St. Petersburg, Florida, thought it would be a good idea to give his friends a gun safety lesson. He had bought the gun to protect himself after his father was shot dead by armed intruders last June, the same month Alex’s mother died of cancer. Anyway, Alex was telling his friends about how to keep the active chamber empty for safety. In demonstrating this, he put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger. The chamber was not empty, Alex killed himself.

On the 15th, Antonion Brown of Illinois killed his girlfriend, Sydni Blackwell while messing around with a gun. She did not die quickly. Brown was a convicted felon and thus should not have had a gun. The very next day, in Virginia, Casper Jones, 58 was shot in the head by his 4 year old nephew, one of the many children he apparently cared for many days. He died. So much for that day care option!

On January 17th, an FBI agent was accidentally shot on the range during a training session. He’ll live. The next day, Mark Bornino and Daniel Volpone, of Ohio, were target practicing in their back yard without a backstop. Mary Kuruc, who lives about a third of a mile away, got her microwave shot. They were using an AK-47 with high capacity magazines, some other guns, had hundreds of rounds of ammo, and they were drunk.

So, I hope you enjoy the rest of Gun Appreciation Day!

All of the stories above came from a blog that you should put in your RSS reader in order to appreciate guns every day: OHH SHOOT].

UPDATE: Gun Appreciation Day itself is not just a day to appreciate guns, but also, to play with guns, and when we play with guns what do we do? We shoot each other and ourselves by accident! John McKay has a post on the current situation with Gun Appreciation Day Caused Gunshot Wounds, which he says he’ll keep updated over the next few days if more information comes in. Check it out: Happy Gun Appreciation Day!

Sometimes, a person shows up at a gun range, checks out a gun ostensibly to use in target practice on the range, but instead uses the gun to commit suicide. In one case not long ago, a woman brought her teenage son to the range, and checked out two pistols. They took turn shooting for a while, then, while he was aiming his firearm at the target, she shot him in the back of the head and then shot herself. So that was murder-suicide. Now and then a person goes to the shooting range, and while shooting end up shooting themselves dead but it is not clear if it was an accident or suicide.

A quick search of google reveals a number of cases like this reported in the news. I’ve put links to and excerpts from a handful of them below. Did you know this was a thing? Apparently it is.

2009 August

CASSELBERRY, Fla. — A central Florida woman who fatally shot her son then killed herself at a shooting range wrote in suicide notes to her boyfriend that she was trying to save her son.
“I’m so sorry,” Marie Moore wrote several times. “I had to send my son to heaven and myself to Hell.” … She signed two of the notes “Failed Queen.”

2010 October

A Weston man shot and killed himself Friday morning at the Arizona Shooting Range in Lauderdale Lakes, leaving behind a suicide note, authorities said.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as a 47-year-old Weston man, but did not release his name.

The suicide occurred at about 10:45 a.m. at 4325 North State Road 7, said Veda Coleman, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

“He shot himself there at the gun range,” Coleman said. “He did leave behind a note.”

2010 November

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A photocopy of a magazine cover about the Columbine school shooting was found among the belongings of Australian twin sisters who shot themselves in a suicide pact at a Colorado shooting range, authorities said Friday.

However, it remained unclear why Kristin and Candice Hermeler, both 29, had the cover of Time headlined “The Monsters Next Door/What Made Them Do It?” and why the sisters made the plan to kill themselves, authorities said. One of the women survived.

2012 February

A 52-year-old Tamarac man killed himself Saturday morning at a Broward shooting range, according to a Broward’s Sheriff’s Office release. When police went to notify his wife at home, they found her dead in a possible murder-suicide.

Police report that the man rented a gun at the Arizona Shooting Range & Emporium in Lauderdale Lakes at 10:18 a.m. He then went into the target-shooting area and shot himself in the head at 10:33 a.m., according to the release.

2012 July

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR)–The owner of The Smoking Gun pistol range didn’t want to appear on TV, but he did want to set the record straight about the suicide inside his business five days ago.

It began with the sound of gunshots inside a shooting range. It’s safe to say it’s common to hear that sound there, but a shot last week still haunts the range owner. “I yelled, ‘Lieutenant!” he said. “’You have five minutes,’ but he didn’t acknowledge me.”… Second Lieutenant James Cho, an Army Reserve officer was dead. The gunshot wound to the head was later determined to be a suicide. The Smoking Gun’s owner says Cho was in a position that he’ll never forget

2012 November

KENT COUNTY, MI – As family of Mark Sobie grieve his death after a self-inflicted gunshot wound last week at a Wyoming shooting range, they question why no laws prevented him from renting a firearm.

A background check, they say, would have shown the 43-year-old’s felony bank robbery conviction, an offense that led him to serve 30 months in federal prison. The criminal record prevents him from purchasing or possessing a gun.

President Barack Obama has signed 23 Executive Orders intended to reduce gun violence in the United States. This alone will not be sufficient–Congress must pass new laws to address this problem as well, and the citizens of the united states have to make some cultural adjustments–but it is a start.

Republican Tea Party Congressman Steve Stockman of, where else, Texas, plans to file articles of impeachment against the president in an effort to maintain our current level of gun violence because, I suppose, he likes it when six year old children are gunned down in cold blood. The people of Stockman’s Congressional District should hang their collective heads in shame for what they have done.

The Executive Orders are summarized in the following list:

  1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant
    data available to the federal background check system.

  2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance
    Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making
    information available to the background check system.

  3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check
    system.

  4. Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from
    having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

  5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background
    check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

  6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on
    how to run background checks for private sellers.

  7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

  8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety
    Commission).

  9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns
    recovered in criminal investigations.

  10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it
    widely available to law enforcement.

  11. Nominate an ATF director.

  12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper
    training for active shooter situations.

  13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

  14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to
    research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

  15. Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective
    use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop
    innovative technologies.

  16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients
    about guns in their homes.

  17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits
    them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

  18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

  19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and
    institutions of higher education.

  20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health
    services that Medicaid plans must cover.

  21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements
    within ACA exchanges.

  22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

  23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental
    health.