gun control

#HowManyMore?

We blog.

#WeAreNewtown

We tweet.

#gunsense

We post photos of ourselves holding signs.

#NotOneMore

But there is always one more.

One more… person is killed with a gun.

One more… person kills himself with a gun.

And another, and another, and another…

  • Every hour, someone dies by gunfire.
  • Every day, dozens of people die by gunfire.
  • Every week, hundreds of people die by gunfire.
  • Every month, thousands of people die by gunfire.
  • Every year, tens of thousands of people die by gunfire.
  • Every decade, hundreds of thousands of people die by gunfire.

In the last 50 years, more Americans have been killed with guns than have died in all of the wars in this country’s 238-year history – going back to the Revolution.

When President Obama went to Newtown to grieve with the families and their shattered community, he spoke to a nation that was badly shaken by the horror of what had happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School:

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

But, eighteen months later… We do tolerate it. These tragedies have not ended. We have not changed. And we have not done any better. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook, more than forty thousand Americans have died by gunfire.

Even as I write this, I cannot fathom the scale of the slaughter. It is more than 12 times the number of people that were killed on 9/11 – another unimaginable crime. That comparison doesn’t really help us to understand the loss. But it is impossible to ignore the massive disparity in our responses to these threats. John Oliver nailed it:

sermon_john-oliver

Consider our government’s response to the 9/11 attacks. The Bush Administration, with the blessing of Congress:

(1) completely reorganized our law enforcement and intelligence services into the massive new Department of Homeland Security…

(2) launched not one but two wars…

(3) brought the United States into the company of nations which torture and detain prisoners indefinitely, no criminal charges, no trial by any court – in direct violation of international law, the Geneva Accords and the U.S. Constitution…

(4) added, by most accounts, more than $3 trillion to the national debt…

(5) and we have only recently learned the shocking extent to which Americans’ constitutional rights have been annulled with virtually unchecked domestic spying by NSA.

Now, consider our government’s response to the horrific toll gun violence has taken in this country in the 15 years since the Columbine massacre in 1999:

(1) The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, including the Federal Assault Weapons Ban on semi-automatic firearms and high-capacity magazines, was allowed to expire by Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress in 2004…

(2)

(3)

(4)

So: a sweeping and unprecedented series of government actions initiated by Bush and continued in large part by Obama – including two wars raging over a decade – in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 people. But in the 15 years since Columbine the federal government has allowed one major gun control law to expire and it has enacted no new gun regulations – in spite of overwhelming public support since Newtown. During this time… more than 400,000 Americans have been killed by firearms.

I do not equate 9/11 and our epidemic of gun violence. But I do think it is appropriate and necessary to compare the astonishingly disproportionate responses by the federal government. Gun violence since Columbine has rained down more death on Americans than the 9/11 attacks happening every six weeks! And we have done nothing to protect ourselves or our children.

Are we better than this? So far, no! Why not? The @Mayors and the @Moms and now @Everytown have had the best of intentions but almost zero impact. What can we do? I leave you with this opinion piece by Scott Martelle in the Los Angeles Times. (click on the graphic for link to the LA Times)

scott martelle.latimes

 

The End (so far)

 

What If Our Dead Kids *DO* Trump Your Gun Rights?

In the farce that was the 2008 campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin, one of the main fools was played by Joe the Plumber. Well, his name wasn’t Joe. And he wasn’t a plumber. But that was the stage name of Samuel Wurzelbacher of Ohio. He was the hood ornament on the Fox-sponsored GOP clown car that year.

Last Friday, a deranged man went on a slashing and shooting rampage, killing six young people near the UC Santa Barbara campus. He then committed suicide, leaving behind a video and a 140-page manifesto that expresses a shockingly demented hatred of women.

Just days later, the country is still reeling from the savagery of this crime, the killer’s unhinged misogyny and the soul-numbing reality of yet another mass shooting of young people in America. But today is the day that ‘Joe the Plumber’ published an “open letter to the parents of the victims” of the Santa Barbara spree. And here is what Mr Wurzelbacher wants the parents – and all of us – to know:

“Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”

I was certain this was some kind of inappropriate sick satire.

But no, this is a verbatim quote from his letter published on Barbwire.com – which (naturally) boasts “a decidedly biblical worldview”. As you might imagine, this unconscionable affront to the grieving parents of murdered children has set half of the internet on fire… while the other half pours gasoline.

Wait a minute though. I think there is tremendous power in this twisted slur. Think about it. He declares something to be true: Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights. But I think Mr Not-A-Plumber got it exactly wrong. Our dead kids DO trump your gun rights.

Our dead kids. They have names. Cassie, Steve, Corey, Kelly, Matt, Daniel, Rachel, Isaiah, John, Daniel, Lauren, Kyle, Areceli, Kristi, Shawn, Joseph, Cassandra, Susan, Justin, Kayla, Bryan, Randy, Aaron, Seth, James, Bart, Alicia, Thurlene, Chanelle, Chase, Dewayne, Emily, Naomi, Marian, Anna Mae, Lena, Mary Liz, Kirsten, Emily, Ryan, Ross, Brian, Austin, Daniel, Matthew, Caitlin, Rachel, Emily, Matthew, Jarrett, Henry, Lauren, Daniel, Erin, Michael, Julia, Mary Karen, Reema, Leslie, Maxine, Nicole, Catalina, Ryanne, Daniel, Gayle, Ryan, Chavares, Christina, Daniel, Russell, Demetrius, Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, Ana, James, Grace, Emily, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison, Claire, Trayvon, Jordan, Katie, Chris, Veronika… and so many thousands more.

The horrifying fact is that 8 children every day are murdered with a gun in America. In the 15 years since Columbine, more than 43,800 children have been shot to death. In their homes, in their neighborhoods, in their schools, in their churches, in their cinemas and malls. Their short lives, ended, with a bullet.

There is only one way to honor the memory of our kids who have been murdered with guns. There is only one way to give them a voice. There is only one way to save a child – maybe yours – from being murdered with a gun. We must change the laws to more effectively regulate the sale and possession of firearms and ammunition in this country.

What makes this entire situation so galling is that it is a failure of political will. After the massacre of babies at Sandy Hook, various incremental and sensible gun control laws were supported by 70% to 90% of the American people. But the 535 members of the House and Senate were unable to pass anything at all. And the President caved to the political status quo. in the year-and-a-half since Newtown, there has been something on the order of 15,000 gun homicides… 4,000 of the dead are kids under 18.

My friend Peter suggests a simple yet powerful idea: a pledge. Similar to the “Taxpayer Proection Pledge” that Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform have used to successfully bludgeon politicians for 20 years now. It could be implemented immediately and at almost zero cost by an existing gun control advocacy group such as Moms Demand Action. We are in the midst of an election year. Every member of Congress is up for reelection along with 1/3 of the Senate. That is nearly 1,000 candidates for Congress, all drawn to the glare of the tv lights. Take the pledge to each of them, at every campaign stop. Democrats. Republicans. Incumbents. Challengers. Send it to all of their campaigns. Give them a week to return the signed pledge. And then, confront them. Loudly. Publicly. Notify the local media. Ask them to sign the pledge, or to explain why they won’t. It might look something like this:

kids.bulletproof.pledge

When 70% or 80% or 90% of Americans want various gun control measures, they should get done. Notwithstanding the NRA’s threats, bribes and extortion. NRA pretends to represent gun owners, but they are paid lobbyists for the gun manufacturers and sellers. Their job is to make America safe for guns. It is the job of Congress to make America safe for Americans. And we must start by defending our children’s lives.

Should our politicians be held to account on gun control issues through the use of a pledge like this? Is there a better way to do it? I’m only interested in constructive ideas. You can spout off about your 2nd Amendment rights… but you should really go do that somewhere else. It’ll never see the light of day on this page.

kids.bulletproof

The End (so far)

 

White-Hot Anger

I stand in solidarity with Richard Martinez whose 20-year-old son Chris was murdered by the shooter in Santa Barbara:

 

Every candidate running for Congress – incumbents and challengers, of any party – should be met with this same white-hot anger over our political leadership’s complete dereliction of duty in the face of out-of-control gun violence in America. At every campaign stop, every interview, every debate, every public appearance. Will they vote for a bill requiring 100% background checks on gun purchases and/or transfers, no loopholes? It is a yes-or-no question. Demand the answer. Demand action. Demand vastly increased funding for mental health evaluation and treatment. Demand restrictions on magazine capacity and ammunition. Demand the same ban on semi-automatic weapons that we have on fully automatic weapons (machine guns). Demand change. This is your country.


“We don’t have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘Not one more.'”

– Richard Martinez


Update

I received a comment from one of the “gun huggers”. It is morally repugnant, intellectually bankrupt – and soulless. His words reveal an unfathomable lack of empathy. I am including part of his remarks here – as an example of the sort of right-wing indecency I will not tolerate on this blog… and hope we, as a society, will no longer tolerate:

I plan to demand that my representatives protect the 2nd Amendment against bigots and I will need to send some money the NRA-ILA to help them combat the outrageous attack by this man – his grief is no excuse.

NB: Yes, this is censorship. And no one’s 1st Amendment rights have been violated. Why? Because I am not the government.