Tag Archives: gun ownership

Rate of mass shootings has tripled in three years

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.

All kinds of stuff about guns and gun control

For starters, I’ve put a bunch of videos including a must see by Jon Steward and another must see by Melissa Harris-Perry HERE. Following is a veritable carnival of topical and timely posts, stories, and sites:

Warning shot: Gun violence lands US lowest life expectancy among rich nations

Widespread gun ownership and lax firearms controls were deemed major reasons for the US topping a list of violent deaths in wealthy nations. The study comes amid a fiery gun control debate, triggered by the fatal school shooting at Sandy Elementary.

The 378-page survey by a panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, listed unintentional injuries, quite often caused by guns, among reasons why people in America die young more often than in other countries.

The Hitler gun control lie: Gun rights activists who cite the dictator as a reason against gun control have their history dangerously wrong

This week, people were shocked when the Drudge Report posted a giant picture of Hitler over a headline speculating that the White House will proceed with executive orders to limit access to firearms. The proposed orders are exceedingly tame, but Drudge’s reaction is actually a common conservative response to any invocation of gun control.

The NRA, Fox News, Fox News (again), Alex Jones, email chains, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, Gun Owners of America, etc., all agree that gun control was critical to Hitler’s rise to power. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (“America’s most aggressive defender of firearms ownership”) is built almost exclusively around this notion, popularizing posters of Hitler giving the Nazi salute next to the text: “All in favor of ‘gun control’ raise your right hand.”

In his 1994 book, NRA head Wayne LaPierre dwelled on the Hitler meme at length, writing: “In Germany, Jewish extermination began with the Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler.”

Nine Media Myths About Proposals To Strengthen Gun Laws

Is any attempt to regulate firearms a violation of the Second Amendment?

Is it true that weaker gun laws lead to lower crime rates?

Does the public support gun violence prevention measures?

Does the NRA have the ability to remove from office politicians who support stronger gun laws?

Have any proposals been put forward which would result in federal gun confiscation?

Are guns that are commonly called assault weapons more dangerous than other firearms?

Are sellers at gun shows required to perform a background check on buyers?

Would closing the private sales loophole prevent private citizens from selling firearms?

Has the Obama administration proposed using an executive order to outlaw certain firearms?

EXCLUSIVE: Unmasking the NRA’s Inner Circle

The resurgent debate over gun control has put a spotlight on the hardline leaders of the National Rifle Association. In the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre delivered a full-throated rejection of gun control and called for more firearms in schools, while David Keene, the group’s president, predicted the failure of any new assault weapons ban introduced in Congress. The two NRA figureheads purported to speak for more than 4 million American gun owners, though the group’s membership may in fact be smaller.

Local Gun Control Advocate Talks About Meeting At White House

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The National Rifle Association and Wal-Mart, the largest gun retailer in the country, are set to meet with Vice President Biden today at the White House; all part of his gun violence task force. This comes a day after the Vice President met with gun control advocates.

Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeasefirePA, along with the others from around the country brought some common ideas and hopes at the White House.

“There was a focus not just on the general idea of background checks on all guns, but making sure all states share their mental health records with the federal database.”

Where Congress Stands on Guns

In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, President Obama on Wednesday announced new national gun control measures. He has already urged members of Congress to do the same. Here is our comprehensive look at where lawmakers stand on guns, as well as political spending and voting history. Explore and share what you think Congress should do about guns in this country.

A message to the Republicans about gun background checks

The message to Republicans and some Democrats who are still walking the walk and talking the talk of the gun rights extremists came from an unlikely source today. Frank Luntz, Republican pollster, wrote in the Washington Post today about how wrong the Republicans have been about their messaging and their extreme language. Here is what Luntz had to say about the language regarding guns and gun policy:

“Beyond fiscal policy, Republicans need to revamp their messaging on other issues. For example, the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., offered Republicans a chance to discuss public safety — a more personal issue than “crime” — on a human level. That hasn’t happened, but it still can. Most people agree that there is a middle ground between gun-control hard-liners, who see every crime as an excuse to enact new laws, and the National Rifle Association, which sees every crime as an excuse to sell more guns. The Second Amendment deserves defending, but do Republicans truly believe that anyone should be able to buy any gun, anywhere, at any time? If yes, they’re on the side of less than 10 percent of America. If not, they need to say so.”

Luntz’s question is an important one and one raised on my blog often….

Letter to Eric Cantor. Gun-Related Deaths in US Children: Government Complicity

Dear Representative Cantor:

I direct this correspondence to you due to your leadership position in the House, your record on ‘gun rights’ legislation that has earned you an A rating by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and because your party this past election cycle received 89% of the political contributions issued by the NRA – this nation’s leading ‘gun rights’ lobbying organization. You are listed as the 4th leading recipient of such contributions in the House.

I write you not only as a concerned citizen and parent regarding the issue of gun violence in America, but as an individual whose career involved responsibility for assessing and reporting product safety in a federally regulated industry (pharmaceuticals). I have held senior executive positions, consulted for corporations, and have been before government regulators on numerous occasions. Unlike most (if not all) consumer products, guns remain unregulated for health and safety. In the industry where I worked, federal law required us to not only assure the safety of our products, but that we take steps to reduce risk, finding an optimal balance between benefit and risk….

Newtown-Based Gun Industry Trade Association Begins Celebration of Guns This Week in Vegas

While America continues to grieve over the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School and begins looking for answers, for Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s multi-million dollar trade association, it’s back to business as usual.

Faced, in its own hometown, with the real-world horror that can be inflicted with the military-style weapons it helps market and has tried to euphemistically “rebrand” as “modern sporting rifles,” NSSF took a page out of the National Rifle Association’s post-tragedy playbook. It issued a short notice of sympathy and then refused to talk to the press, hoping, as has happened all too many times before, that public anguish and anger would fade as time passed.

In Wake of Newtown, It’s Time for America to Meet the NRA

This week, America has been taken aback by the National Rifle Association’s ad politicizing President Obama’s daughters. With this latest episode, it’s become patently obvious that unhinged attacks are the NRA leadership’s calling card. As pundits cover the obstructionism and handwringing of high-profile NRA executives like David Keene, it’s important to take a look at lesser-known NRA leaders and understand just how far to the fringe the organization has moved in recent decades.

New investigative reporting by Frank Smyth in Mother Jones — that complements my organization’s Meet the NRA website — reveals the NRA’s eerie connection to the Newtown tragedy. Smyth discovered that the NRA nominating committee that plays a key role in deciding who is on the NRA’s board is run by Newtown resident Patricia Clark, and also includes George K. Kollitides II, the chief executive of the company that made the AR-15 used in the shooting.

Gun Appreciation Day Isn’t Shared By The Victims Of Around 370 Thousand Gun Crimes A Year

Sunday, our President, Barack Obama, gave the oath of office of President of the United States in the Oval Office, officially beginning his second term in that role, by the will of the American people.

Today, Monday the 21st of January, he gives his inaugural speech, on the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But back on Saturday, when the rest of America was gearing up for this momentous occasion, the gun lobbies had a different agenda. They, instead, chose to make up a new day, which they called “Gun Appreciation Day.” A day made up by a White Supremacist Group. From the article:

23 Steps Toward Reducing Gun Violence

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.

Guns Ownership and Control: Newtown is one more last straw in a series of many

I have been writing about this topic for years. Lately, I have been ignoring it. Last few massacres, I didn’t say or do anything. I think Gabby Gifford’s shooting was a last straw for me; I became too disgusted with our situation and I became too disheartened with the number of people who require that we Americans remain an utterly unique society in that we shoot each other at record rates. Somehow, it seems, that makes us good. Others claim that because there are problems in the world with higher body counts, this problem of guns in the US should not be addressed at all. That is utterly stupid, of course. If a person’s leg was being chewed on by a dog, and that person also happen to have cancer, would we require that the person not complain about the dog? Same logic.

Anyway, I will write something about Newtown. The timing strikes a bit close to home for me, as someone not affected at all, in ways that are true for many others. I’ve got kids in school or going soon enough. My daughter lost a classmate a number of months ago to gun violence, and my wife lost a student this week in the same way; A few years ago, a few blocks away a gun nut killed a teenager in what was essentially an ambush, and a few weeks ago, another gun nut a couple of towns over executed two teenagers in a similar situation. (The former was lauded as a hero, the latter will go on trial for murder.)

But even that amounts to nothing compared to what many people face every day. We are a heavily armed society and we resort to guns too easily.

At this point, I just wanted to point out two sets of prior blog posts on gun ownership and related issues, one here and one on the X Blog:

Scienceblogs posts on firearms

X Blog posts on firearms

My opinion about guns has not changed, but my preferred strategy to deal with the problem has. That’s been coming for a while. Newtown is just one more last straw in a series of many.

Fun with Guns

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.

Dismissed Student Executes Seven in California Christian College

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.

The real impact of gun laws, and what that means

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 The real impact of gun laws, and what that means

Stand Your Ground, Racism, and the Second Amendment

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 Stand Your Ground, Racism, and the Second Amendment