guns

#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)

 

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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. 

Tweet of the Day 05.24.14

 

For the overseas crowd:

This tweet is in response to yet another horrific gun massacre, this time in Santa Barbara, California. The tweeter’s use of the word “militia” points to the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Our Constitution was drafted in the 1780s, a decade after the American Colonies had won their war for independence from the British. Each colony maintained a militia composed of regular citizens who kept their weapons at home. (Not unlike our present-day National Guard which is organized in each state – because the federal military is forbidden from operating in country).

It is easy to understand why the new federal authorities would have wanted to insure the continued functionality of a well regulated militia. That comes in handy when you’re a brand new country which could be attacked by powerful enemies. (In fact, our friends the Brits did attack us again, about 20 years later. Even burned down the White House! So yeah, militia = good.)

But that was more than two hundred years ago. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms” has become uncoupled from its antecedent, “A well regulated Militia”… with the most tragic results. Eventually, we will learn to cope with gun violence the way other countries have, notably the U.K. and Australia. It will require the election of members of Congress who refuse to be bribed or extorted by the NRA. And it will very likely also require several new justices on the Supreme Court. Both of those requirements could be satisfied within a few short years. But I think it will take longer than that.

In the meantime, 12,000+ gun homicides and 18,000+ gun suicides will plague the United States. Year after year after year. No, the militia is not well regulated.

The End (so far)

 

Tweet of the Day 04.24.14

 

For more info: Georgia. Why Risk It?

Georgia. Why Risk It?

GA.WhyRiskIt

If you’re planning your family’s summer vacation, or your company’s next meeting, then you’ll want to avoid the area of the country that is conveniently labeled on maps as “GEORGIA”.

The Republican governor of Georgia has signed the “Guns Everywhere” law.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation today that would vastly expand where Georgians can legally carry firearms, a proposal that has drawn heaps of praise and scorn from outside groups.

‘People who follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from people who don’t follow the rules,” said Deal, adding: “The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should reside at the forefronts of our minds.’

House Bill 60, which passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, allows Georgians to legally carry firearms in a wide range of new places, including schools, bars, churches and government buildings. A recent analysis also said it could let felons use the state’s “stand your ground” rules to claim self-defense if they feel threatened. click here for full story at ajc.com

You’ll want to avoid even changing planes in Atlanta. The Guns Everywhere law now permits people to carry guns in airports. That’s right. You can’t take your gun onto a plane. (Yet.) But if you’re caught going through security at ATL with a gun in your bag or your waistband you’ll be stopped. And sent on your way. With your gun. That’s right. Because NRA.

 


The End (so far)

Act Up! Fight Back!

It would be difficult impossible to overstate the peril faced by gay folks as the 80s dawned in America. Harvey Milk had been assassinated just two years earlier. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. Gay men in New York and California were suddenly getting rare cancers and dying, no one knew why. And it is fair to say that no one much cared. Jerry Falwell and his Christianist hatemongers called the epidemic “God’s wrath”. Reagan would not even say the word “AIDS” until seven years into his presidency – while tens of thousands of Americans died. There was talk of quarantining – or even tattooing – people with AIDS.

Sorry for the gloom, but it’s important to set the context for what happened next. (After all, this is ancient history for some who will read this.)

I referenced “gay folks” above; not the “gay community” or the now-ubiquitous (necessary and dreadful) “LGBT”. That’s because we hadn’t yet coalesced into a single community; and the all-purpose acronym was still years away. The Ls and the Gs were off doing their own things in their own zip codes. The Bs were busy doing, well, everyone. The Ts had Renée Richards going for them, but not much else. Though much had changed in the decade since Stonewall, queer life was still Balkanized.

So, when gay men started getting terrible infections, diseases, cancers and dying in rapidly increasing numbers… When governments and gods showed themselves to be untroubled by our immense human suffering and the horrifying death toll… a community was born.

WeWereHere film posterWe Were Here is a powerful, heartbreaking, uplifting testament to the response of the nascent gay community (and its allies) to the public health crisis of AIDS in San Francisco. The history is told through on-camera interviews with five people who recall the love, the loss, the victories – and the irresistible force of a community that is fighting for its life. This film is available via Netflix and Amazon. Click on this image to link to the We Were Here website where you can stream a rental for $3.99.

Who should see this film (which was released in 2011)? Everyone. But especially all the good people who want to stop the gun insanity death toll in this country. All those “Moms” and “Mayors” who give tv interviews… who fill our inboxes with petitions to sign and emails asking for money so they can do… more petitions? There have been 30+ school shootings since Newtown. Another 10,000+ gun homicides. Do you think you’re working hard enough? You haven’t even started.

If that makes you angry, good! You should be angry. You can’t even send your kids off to school in the morning, or to the mall in the afternoon, or to a movie in the evening, without wondering if they’ll be next. So get angry! And channel that anger into real, direct action. You say “there are 80 million Moms in America!” Really? I don’t think I’ve seen 80 women (or men) gathered anywhere, doing anything, since Newtown. Have you?

1.lighting candles

Begin…

As the first anniversary of the Newtown massacre came and went, I heard a tv discussion about our failure to achieve gun control in this country. Someone suggested that if you want gun control, then look at how the gays fought for marriage equality and equal rights. It’s not a bad idea.

Gun control is (still) way more popular than gay rights. But we have marched in the streets, raised money, campaigned for like-minded politicians and relentlessly lobbied lawmakers, filed lawsuits, rallied voters, discussed it in polite (and not so polite) company.  We have done this for years, without losing our nerve or our hope. We have kept up the pressure, we have fought ignorance with intellect, cowardice with courage. And we are finally turning the tide. It’s been some time since we lost a battle, and we’re well on our way to winning the war.

2.candlelight march

Fan the flame…

I don’t mean to single out the Moms Against Guns. Every liberal/ progressive political goal would be more quickly achieved if leaders stopped the absurd flood of online petitions and solicitations… and challenged their millions of supporters to take direct action. Sometimes, I wonder if the Koch brothers aren’t secretly funding Credo and Move On – to sap any real initiative by giving people a false sense of having done something every time they click the “Sign the Petition” button. That is not participatory democracy. Make some noise! Hit the streets! Act up! Fight back! Not in dribs and drabs, but by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the millions.

If I received an email from the “Moms” asking me to join a gun control march in my city next weekend, I’d drop everything to be there.  But more than a year after Newtown, I still haven’t got that email. And that’s my point.

3.candlelight march

Ignite a movement…

Whether you want to raise the minimum wage, or guarantee voting rights, or protect a woman’s right to control her own body, or reform immigration, or tax the rich and the corporations, etc… Nothing succeeds like excess. Remember ACT-UP? When FDA was taking forever to approve new AIDS drugs, these creative and in-your-face protests drew lavish media attention and focused political pressure like a laser beam. They weren’t afraid to be angry. People were dying. The “die-ins” stopped traffic. The barricade crashing made people uncomfortable. But new drugs and treatments went from a trickle to a fire silencedeathbuttonhose, and many lives were saved.

We gays had to fight for our lives in this country. And as a community of activists, we won. But 650,000 people have lost their lives to AIDS in America since 1980. That is eerily similar to the number of gun deaths during that time. And always, always:  silence = death.

After you’ve had to fight for survival, it’s relatively easy to move on to battle bigotry and ignorance (DADT, DOMA, ENDA, the GOP, the teabaggers and the faith-hurling wackos)… You just have to be alive to do it.

Here we are in 2014, an election year. The entire House and 1/3 of the Senate are up for grabs. Plus many governorships and legislatures and ballot measures. The media will declare the elections ‘over’ before they even begin. Gerrymandering! Voter apathy! The parties are all the same! Voter suppression! Oh look – it’s Justin Bieber!

4.candlelight march sf

Set the world on fire!

It doesn’t have to be that way. Get yourself registered and then help someone else register. (Click on Blog the Vote below.) Think of it as multiplying your vote. Volunteer to GOTV (Get Out The Vote) during early voting and on Election Day in November. Drive someone to the polls. Or offer to babysit. Have a mail-in ballot party. Because the fact is, without an enormous and sustained effort, less than half of the eligible voters in this “great democracy” will bother to cast a vote in November. But that sad fact presents an opportunity. We flip 20 House seats, we take back control of Congress and… a lot of life-saving laws and policies get done in Obama’s last two years in office. If not, we keep fighting like hell. Until we win.

Unless there is something more important you have to do?

BLOG THE VOTE 2

Ten More Kids Will Be Shot Dead By Christmas

www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocrats

Occupy Democrats

If you want gun control in this country, then show the crime scene photographs of the children who are blown to bits by semi-automatic gunfire. “That’s insensitive to the familes!” Really? Their children have been murdered. They’re dead. They’re not coming back. They’re not growing up. And why? Because the will of the vast majority of Americans is nullified by a handful of lobbyists who bribe/extort a few dozen members of Congress.
    Like so many, I assumed the unprecedented HORROR at Sandy Hook Elementary would – finally – be enough to break the NRA’s hold on Congress. The country was convulsed in shock and grief. Public opinion was almost unanimous for new, effective, federal gun control laws. The president’s resolve, along with that of many in Congress, seemed unshakeable.
    And like so many, I was stunned and disgusted by the total capitulation of our national political “leadership” to the gun lobby – within mere months of Newtown.
    I also have to say this – as unpopular as it will be: I am so frustrated with all the well-meaning groups who raise money, put up websites, release videos, collect signatures on endless petitions… to what end?! I do appreciate that this activity can be extremely therapeutic for some concerned people, especially the families of the dead. I get that. But… are they just lulling the country to sleep with the illusion of doing something?
    As the first anniversary approaches, some of the families of Newtown have made an appeal for people to do an act of kindness in remembrance of the dead. An act of kindness? OK. But what about an Act of Congress?! The fact is, gun sales broke records in the year since Newtown. And 200 more kids have been murdered with guns. TWO. HUNDRED. MORE. KIDS. SHOT DEAD. The average age of these kids? Six years old. Can you even wrap your head around these statistics? I cannot. This carnage is the equivalent of about one “Newtown” every month. (click on the graphic for more details and a link to the source page)
    So, if you want gun control in this country, show the photos. Speaking truth to the NRA’s power requires our most powerful truth: the horrific, gruesome, soul-shattering photographs of dead kids in their classrooms. Or wherever they are killed by bullets fired from guns. In their living rooms. On street corners. In cinemas and malls. Wherever, whenever.The last photo taken of them is the only voice these kids can still raise against the guns that ended their lives, so young, so brutally. And for no other reason than our collective, cowardly inability to save them. Show the photos.

Love the Constitution! Hate Democracy! Wait…

John Boehner - Caricature

John Boehner – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

A video anthology of #GOPcruelty and obstruction :: The Political Carnival.

Unprecedented majorities of Americans support:

  • background checks on gun purchases
  • employment protection for LGBT folks
  • immigration reform
  • raising the minimum wage

There are enough votes in Congress to pass legislation in these areas with broad bipartisan majorities.

John Boehner – knowing such legislation would pass – refuses to let the House of Representatives vote. The country wants it. The Congress wants it. John Boehner stands in the way of this. He is a ‘majority’ of one. Who is he working for?

When Do You Suppose They’ll Start Shooting?

Four Moms Demand Action Members In Texas Draw Swarm Of Gunmen –.

If you pulled into the parking lot of your local shopping center and saw this… what would you think? What would you do? What is happening in this country?

Maniacs vs. Moms