Rachel Maddow on the shifting dynamics on gun reform and gun control among Democrats. In particular, she puts Bernie Sanders’ campaign and prior politics in context, and discusses O’Malley’s gun safety provisions.

Rachel also discusses Hillary Clinton’s position on guns. Overall, it looks like the Democrats are starting to get serious about gun reform. Among other things, Clinton suggests specific gun reform policies that Rachel asks if President Obama could just go ahead and do now.

That’s a good idea, because a second term president may be more able to implement some of these gun reform ideas more effectively than whoever is elected next November.

Perhaps President Obama will make such suggestions in Oregon later this week when he visits the site of the mass killing.

The Saturday Night Live skit embedded in the Maddow piece is brilliant.

Note the slip of the tongue on Martin O’Malley being “arrested” instead of “elected.” Or, at least, I think it was a slip of the tongue.

Gun violence

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 In the US, we have an outdated Constitutional amendment that has been interpreted by many, including the courts, in a way that hampers effective legislation to address what is clearly a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:

Continue reading


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.

Richard Venola of "Guns & Ammo" Magazine is accused of putting a large caliber bullet in his friend's chest. It was a fatal wound.

A two year old boy shot his three year old brother in the butt using daddy’s gun, which was left unlocked, with no safety, in the truck while daddy went into the house to get something. For the second time in a few years, a guy shot a bullet through through the walls separating him and his neighbor, didn’t hit anyone but the neighbor was annoyed and the police seem to think it is the shooter’s right to do this. Some guy who got a new gun for his security job was showing off his gun and killed his friend by shooting in her in the face. Another guy who just got a gun shot his brother dead. A mom gave her teenage son a handgun to play with, and he shot her sister with it. A guy at the shooting range shot himself in the gut wiht his assault rifle. He’ll live, maybe. A cop’s daughter shot herself with the officer’s service weapon, which was left loaded and unlocked on his dresser. The 10 year old girl will live, the cop will not be charged.

All these stories and more can be investigated in more detail here.

But the big story has got to be this one.

The editor of a gun magazine was arrested Wednesday in the shooting death of his friend.

Richard Erick Venola, 53, is charged with second-degree murder after authorities said he shot and killed his friend, James Patrick O’Neill, 39…

Venola is listed as a field editor for “Guns & Ammo” magazine and is said to be passionate about firearms.

… O’Neill was shot once in his chest by a large caliber rifle. His body was found outside the home.

The former student …

… walked into the single-story building housing Oikos University on Monday morning, took a receptionist hostage and went looking for a particular female administrator, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told CNN’s “Early Start.”

The man walked into a classroom, lined up students against a wall and shot them one by one, Jordan said.

He then left the classroom, reloaded his semi-automatic, found some more stuents and shot them. He then left the scene in a victim’s car. Soon after, One Goh, the shooter, was arrested at an Alameda grocery store.

According to CNN,

The college, which caters to the Korean-American Christian community, offers degrees in theology, music, nursing and Asian medicine, according to its website.

Some books get turned into movies, some books get turned into ads they put on side of busses.

Gun control: "Know The Facts" bus advertising campaign against idiocy in gun ownership.

Facts and information from the book, “Private Guns, Public Health” will be used as the basis for a public ad campaign in the state of Washtington run by Washington Ceasefire:

There are estimated to be about 6.5 million guns in Washington State alone — about one per resident — and approximately 40% of homes in this state have guns. Many homeowners acquire guns for what they see as a means of protection against intruders, though the facts show that the risks of home gun ownership far outweigh the benefits. One of the Know the Facts ads educates the public that when there is a gun in the home, there is a 22x greater chance of killing a family member or a friend than an intruder.

In one of the largest studies on the topic covering three cities — Galveston, Memphis and Seattle — there were only 13 legally justified acts of self-defense out of a total of 626 fatal and non-fatal shootings in residences. The survey was taken in 1994, and several subsequent studies validate the findings. According to ‘Private Guns, Public Health,” there has never been a study demonstrating that a gun in the home can meaningfully deter or thwart burglaries or home invasion.

A few years ago, Minnesota passed a concealed carry law that was strongly supported by the pro-gun lobby and strongly opposed by the anti-gun lobby. As an aside, I’ll note that this was a stupid law, as in, a law engineered stupidly by people who did not know what they were doing, and here I refer to a newly elected crop of right wing legislators who did not know how to be legislators. The original bill was added to some other bill that needed to be passed, as a “rider.” I’m sure you know what a “rider” is but you may not know unless you are from the Northstar State that we can’t have riders here. They are illegal. A bill must not establish statute related to more than one thing in the State of Minnesota. So, a provision that says “it is illegal to crush baby kittens” and a provision that says “you can carry a concealed weapon if you fill out a certain form” can not be part of the same bill. Since the concealed carry bill was a rider, it was tossed out a few weeks after it passed as a matter of routine by the state courts.

That is a bit of a digression and a bit of a distraction, but it is fun to point out because it links ignorance and failure to think things through with the pro-gun lobby and a pro-gun bill. Shortly after the ill fated and illegal bill was chucked by the court system, the legislature consulted the rule books and re-passed the bill. Thereafter we’ve had a concealed carry law. Continue reading

I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have opened an official investigation into the killing of 17 year old Trayvon Martin by a vigilante “Neighborhood Watch” member George Zimmerman. Zimmerman pursued, confronted, then shot to death Trayvon Martin who was on his way home from the convenience store having picked up a bag of Skittles. Local police, apparently caught like deer in the headlights of an idiotic recently enacted Florida Law stating, according to some, that you can kill anyone you want as long as you can later say that they made you feel icky, have refuses to even bring Zimmerman in for questioning.

There have been protests, a lot of noise from the Liberal Blogosphere, and even a write in campaign using the Sanford Police’s own web site (click here to get in on that!), and limited criticism from the press.

(The 911 calls related to this case are very damning of Zimmerman, and you can listen to them here.)

I want you to do a little thought experiment. Don’t worry, if you have had a long day and your brain is tired, it won’t be too hard. If you’re a Teabagger and are not very smart, it won’t be too hard. If you’re a middle class white person with concerns about brown people moving into your sleepy suburb and all your wealth and privilege came to you more or less by accident and your morality, such as it is, comes to you mainly by default, it won’t be … well actually, for you this might be hard but I’m sure you can do it. Continue reading

In recent months, several states have seen the introduction, or at least discussion, of bills that would change the typical “Castle Doctrine” to have a broader scope, overturning the legal expectations of law abiding citizens on the street and elsewhere. In most jurisdictions, if someone forces their way into your house, points a gun at you, and is impolite about it, it is OK to blow them away with your cherished firearm. If, however, someone makes threatening and obnoxious motions out in public and they are not right in your face you are not allowed to pull out your piece and shoot them. You must retreat to safety and call the authorities. There is a line between an armed and aggressive intruder and a threatening person in a public space; on one side of this line you may shoot to kill, on the other side you must not. The various recently considered bills would move that line towards the public square and the less threatening situation. For instance, in most jurisdictions you can’t pull out your gun and shoot someone who threatens you in your car, but the new bills would allow that sort of thing.

In Minnesota we managed, much to our chagrin, to acquire a lot of teabagging Republicans during the last few years, which are now slowly going away as they either melt down, mellow out, or hopefully over the next two years, get unelected. But at the moment we have a mainly right wing legislature. Governor Mark Dayton, in contrast, is a classic Liberal. So, when the legislature passed a Castle Doctrine bill that would allow people to shoot each other from within their cars (among other things), Governor Dayton summarily vetoed it.

From the Star Tribune: Continue reading

We’ve talked before about how what the word “lower” in “lower house” if a bicameral system might mean. Here we have another example. The Minnesota House has passed a bill, almost unanimously, that would allow County Attorneys … that’s our phrase for prosecutors … to carry guns.

Not in the courtroom, though.

There was a recent event in which a County Attorney was shot by a pissed off guy who had just been convicted of some nasty crime. Yesterday or thereabouts, the horrid 911 call of that incident, which recorded much agony and fear and such on tape, was released. Everybody is upset about it again.

That incident happened in a courtroom where the CA would not have been carrying a gun, according to this potential new law.


Did you hear about the death of the high school student? The young man was a friend of my daughter’s; they knew each other since Kindergarten. I use the term “friend” loosely because they did not hang out together a lot over the years, but when someone is a neighbor and a school mate for 12 years, they’re more or less a friend. The other day, he walked out in front of his house, where he lives with his family, said out loud to someone that there was a note inside explaining something, turned a gun he was holding on himself and pulled the trigger. They say in cases like this that “he died instantly” but that is just to make people feel better. There’s a good chance he was alive for a while, during which time he bled out and his organs shut down one by one.

Did you hear about the other kid that died, this morning? It was in Ohio. A young man pulled out a pistol in a waiting area of a school, where four or five kids were sitting at a table, waiting for a bus. He pointed the pistol at them, and to the horror of various onlookers who later described the scene, walked towards the kids at the table, pulling the trigger again and again. One of the children slumped down on the table and started his process of dying. Another tried to hide under the table but he was shot anyway. One kid ran away and called the police, even though a bullet notched his ear. As of this writing, two kids are in the hospital in critical condition, and two in serious condition, and one is in the morgue.

We can ask why these things happen, why these kids did these things, but there is another question that must also be asked, and that is often left unaddressed until long after the shock and horror of the incident wears off for the news junkies, bloggers, and other voyeurs. This question is: Where did the guns come from? It is extremely unlikely that these weapons were legally owned by these children. They got the weapons from somewhere. It is extremely unlikely that anyone who might have owned these weapons legally would have loaned them out to the children. Most likely they got the weapons by taking them from where they were stored, against the wishes of the owners.

It is hard to find information on where the weapons that children use to kill themselves and each other come from. It is generally felt that in the case of suicides, the weapons are from the home, and they were not properly secured. In the case of “school shootings,” there is an old (but still relevant) study1 that tells us where the weapons are generally from. Continue reading

1Yeah, right, I know, I know.

Have you ever noticed that lower level of a bicameral legislature is often populated by out of control yahoos who aren’t very good lawmakers, while the upper level is more often populated by individuals who seem less willing to totally embarass themselves at every turn? A great example of this unfolded recently in New Hampshire, with some gun-related legislation.

The house crafted a number of bills related to guns:

  • A bill allowing people to carry loaded weapons, including crossbows, in their cars, by redefining what “loaded gun” is.
  • A bill that lets people carry guns on campuses, public sports venues, and the state psychiatric hospital
  • A bill that allows people to carry concealed firearms without a permit
  • Two other bills, I don’t know what they were.

All the bills were quickly rejected by the Senate. Of these bills, Senate President Peter Bragdon said, “We spent a grand total of 6 minutes on 5 bills because we want to focus on the issues that are important to the New Hampshire people.”

Live free or else!

I suppose that depends on what we think the process is for. I would have hoped that gun permits serve the very important role of making sure that gun owners are more likely than they otherwise might be to know how to properly handle guns, and that guns are kept out of the hands of people who will do damage with them.

Japete at Commongunsense.com suggests that this is not necessarily the case:

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First of all, how the heck to you have a State Fair in the middle of the winter time????

Second, … in case you needed to know, you can carry your firearms at the fair this year! Yahooo!

Following complaints by a gun rights group, and a law passed by the Florida Legislature last year, you can now carry your gun at the Florida State Fair.

“We have changed the policy to comply with the state law – it allows a person with a concealed weapon permit to come in with a firearm,” said Charles Pesano, executive director of the State Fair Authority. “We’ve changed some signs to reflect that.”

Instead of “No Weapons,” the signs now say, “No Unlawful Weapons.”

Film at 11. Well, actually, film right now (This is about the whole fair, not the gun packing part of the fair):
Continue reading

Since we last discussed this about 17 days ago, Bill Adams and Charles Lake shot themselves while handling their handguns. They weren’t shottin’ intruders or varmints or nuthin’. Just holding or loading. Some guy in florida was “putting his gun away” when the 9mm went off. But bullet passed into his neighbor’s apartment and shot her while she was sleeping. A dood down in Hatchez, Mississippi woke in the middle of the night to a sound he mistook for an intruder. He shot hisself in the damn pinkie toe.

Thoze-all might have been people who knew nohting about guns, hard to say, but Jack Haning of Lubbock has been messing with guns his whole life, but he still managed to shoot himself in the leg after showing off his new handgun to his coworkers. He did not live.

James Crawford of Virginia was playing with a 9mm at a party. He thought the gun was empty so he wuz pretenging like he was shooting himself in the head but then he shot himself in the head for real. He did not live.

Maybe James Crawford was a drunk dumbass teenager with no callin’ to have a handgun, but a security guard in St Petersburg Florida who is licensed to havea gun was hidden in a small closet with two young men in the church explaining to them the safety features of his Ruger 9mm when he pulled the trigger. The bullet went through the wall and hit Hanna Kelly, the 20 year old daughter of the pastor in the head. She is in critical condition and, well, is not really expected to live. Something tells me there is more to that story than meets the eye at this particular moment.

Most of those were in the south, which makes me wonder about the south. But up oi Ohio, Wellington Roemer shot himself through the thigh and gut when his weapon discharged as he exited his vehicle. Previous to that he had posted this on facebook: “I’ll keep my money, freedom & guns, you keep the change.” with a picture of Obama.

Back in the south, in South Carolina in fact, a woman carrying a valid permitted gun in her purse shot her friend in the foot when the gun went off by itself. Though she had a permit, she was in fact not allowed to carry the gun into the mall. No word on if there will be charges, or if anyone is looking into the safety of that particular weapon which appears to, well, not be safe.

While we are on the subject of malls, a woman was shot in Jacksonville, in the arm, by a stray bullet. That may be different from all these other cases because it could have been some sort of violent crime in which an innocent bystander was shot. But I include it here because we might want to have a discussion of the utility of carrying guns around in shopping malls. If only everyone in that mall was packing, that guy who shot the woman by accident would never had pulled that gun out out of fear.

In another case of a person who should know better, a former chief of police of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, shot himself in the hand while cleaning his gun.


…The argument continued after they left the restaurant and went to one of the women’s homes. It was then that the other man jumped into the argument, standing up for his girlfriend. This angered Lloyd and the two men began arguing.
Lloyd pulled out a gun, unintentionally discharging the firearm. The bullet grazed the other man’s head. ..

or this

Police were called to Amy’s home on Thursday were they found she had been shot. According to reports, “D.C.I. determined that Hettinger had been shot by a 10-year-old inside the house who had been handling a loaded handgun. The gun belonged to another family member.”

or this

…As he was standing on the porch his friends were inside “messing around” with handguns. One man decided to practice shooting

what he thought was an empty handgun. When he pulled the trigger the gun fired, sending a bullet through the front door and into the man standing on the porch. The bullet went through the victim’s left shoulder blade. …