Tag Archives: gun laws

Heller on the Slipface?

angle of reposeLet’s assume for the moment that much of the goings-on at the Residence on Pennsylvania Avenue have less to do with governance, and ever so much more to do with a tender ego, thin skin, and a perfectly illogical, nay irrational, sense of reality.  Further, we might also assume that Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) has calculated a return to his seat in the US Senate predicated on keeping the Trumpian Base happy.  After all, Heller was pleased to support Orange Blossom’s Muslim Ban [RGJ] after expressing some initial “concerns.”  The senior Senator is good at this, i.e. expressing initial concerns prior to caving in faster that a pile of  dry sand with a 35° angle of repose.   So, we shouldn’t be surprised to find he’s caved again.

Thus much for all that opposition to turning Nevada into the nation’s nuclear waste basket (Yucca Mountain), Senator Heller is willing to forgive and forget all that to tell us he has NO reservations about supporting the nomination of Mr. Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. [RGJ]  How convenient for the Orange Occupant of the Oval Office?  To have a Senator support the candidate most likely to declare the decision in US vs. Nixon a mistake. [WaPo]  Indeed, how very helpful!

Once having aligned himself with the Orange Occupant’s selection, Senator Heller may have to explain to his audiences (should he decide to have any with living people in them) how he is serving ALL the good people in the Silver State.

People who don’t necessarily believe the decision in Roe v. Wade should be overturned?  People who don’t necessarily believe that gun dealers have more rights than gun violence victims?  People who don’t necessarily believe that people with pre-existing medical conditions should be priced out of the health insurance markets?  People who don’t believe that ICE agents should be arresting and detaining victims of domestic abuse? People who don’t necessarily believe that the function of immigration enforcement agencies is to rip young children away from their parents, and then to be so incapable or incompetent as to make reuniting them nearly impossible — subsequently resorting to the ruse of declaring the un-reunited children as “ineligible” for a return to their parents.  What a cold and miserable calculation that categorization must be?

But, please, Senator Heller, do run as if this were still primary season.  Do cling to the increasingly disjointed, illogical, and downright cruel rantings of the Oval Office Occupant.  Do revert to the wedge issues of the 1980s and 1990s.  I’m sure your opponent, Rep. Jacky Rosen will be pleased to talk about —  offering affordable health care for all Nevadans, promoting women’s health and family well-being, advocating for employment opportunities and equal pay for all Nevada families.

“President Trump is trying to pull up the ladder behind him, leaving the middle class stranded while his super-wealthy buddies turn the federal government into a source of enrichment for themselves. Trump ridicules women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrant families, and anyone who challenges him.” [Rosen]

So, while Senator Heller is clutching the banners on Trump’s bandwagon, Rosen would rather we take our own ride.  We can’t guarantee that the media will do much more than it did in 2016 — spend more time interviewing Trump and the Trumpians than discussing issues raised by Democratic candidates. Therefore, it will be up to Democrats to tell friends and neighbors about Rosen’s (and other Democratic candidates’) position on issues.  Rosen’s are here.

We know we’re about Health Care, Government Reform,  a Clean and Safe Environment, Education, a sane and humane Immigration Policy,  advancing the interests of Senior Citizens, attending to the Security of our Nation.   However, we can’t count on much help from a mass media which treats Republican candidates and their voters like the audience for Duck Dynasty — interesting, intriguing, anomalies who attract their attention.   If Democrats can’t be shiny objects for press and punditry, perhaps we can be loud and proud.

We don’t disparage the different and the disabled. We don’t find it necessary to call the cops on kids selling lemonade, hot dogs, and candy.  We don’t find it uncomfortable if someone who has a “natural tan” is in the swimming pool, or lives next door.  We The People buy up the candy the young lad was selling when the broad beamed bigot decided to launch her verbal assault.  We The People know how to make life a misery for the intolerant who call the cops to barbecues and college common rooms.  We The People know how to identify and shame the shameless. And, if some members of Congress don’t share our values of common decency, concern for the well being of others, or improving the lives of as many of our fellow citizens as possible, then We The People can always change the members of Congress.

The Trumpians, for all we care, can slide down the slipface of history.

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Think of the Children?

AB 167 The current convention of the Nevada Assembled Wisdom seems to have Guns on the Brain – now it’s a couple in Las Vegas who want to pistol-pack while fostering children.  AB 167, sponsored by our own Baking Soda Solution Pistol Packing Mama (Assemblywoman Fiore, R-NRA), would allow such behavior.

This is wrong on several levels.  First Floorchildren and guns are not a good combination. A nationwide review of statistics suggest that we are seriously under-counting the number of gun fatalities involving children. [NYT]  More specifically,

“In 2007, there were 122 unintentional firearm deaths in children, and an additional 3,060 nonfatal gun and shooting accidents, which resulted in an estimated 1,375 children needing to be hospitalized for their injuries. Unintentional firearm deaths in children have remained at about the same levels since, with 114 deaths in children and teens less than age 18 in 2010.” [Ped]

NRA arguments that swimming pools, poisoning, and falls may also be deadly is fallacious.  Yes, these do present dangers to infants and children.  However, that argument is distractive and beside the point – we have made significant efforts to prevent poisoning (think about the caps you can barely remove from the top of the container); we have made great strides with child safety seats; and, we’ve enacted regulations about pool safety measures in local communities.  We also know that “unintentional injury” is the leading cause of death for youngsters aged 1 to 14. [CDC pdf]  (*See also: Comedy Central Daily Show’s takedown of a Florida law preventing pediatricians from discussing guns with clients.)

Too many of these “unintentional injuries” are related to firearms:

“The United States accounts for nearly 75 percent of all children murdered in the developed world. Children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the United States are 17 times more likely to be murdered by firearms than children in other industrialized nations.

Children from states where firearms are prevalent suffer from significantly higher rates of homicide, even after accounting for poverty, education, and urbanization. A study focusing on youth in North Carolina found that most of these deaths were caused by legally purchased handguns. A recent meta-analysis revealed that easy access to firearms doubled the risk of homicide and tripled the risk for suicide among all household members. Family violence is also much more likely to be lethal in homes where a firearm is present, placing children especially in danger. Murder-suicides are another major risk to children and are most likely to be committed with a gun.” [Slate]

Second FloorNevada lacks gun storage laws which assist in the prevention of incidental access to guns by children, and which encourage gun owners to safely store their firearms. [DB 10/23/13]  IF Nevada had safe storage requirements, and IF Nevada reformed its laws on liability of parents who allow access to firearms by children, or who don’t take common sense measures to restrict such access – then we might re-visit this topic.

Third FloorThere are structural differences with foster children in family dynamics.   By definition, a foster placement is temporary.  The contention that “my child would NEVER mishandle my gun,” doesn’t necessarily apply to a youngster who (1) has not been raised in the family since birth, and (2) may or may not have come from a family in which gun safety was a priority, and (3) may or may not have enough familiarity with firearms to overcome parental attempts at restraint.  If the answer to any of these issues is “I don’t know,” then the obvious answer is not to place a foster child in a situation in which firearms and ammunition are present.

Perhaps it’s time for some people to decide – which is more important, having a gun, or having a foster child?

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AB 2: The Take Your Gun To School Bill on NV Legislature’s Agenda

AB 2 The firearm proliferationists are launching their agenda early in the  Nevada legislative season, with A.B. 2 – the pack your gun around in your vehicle everywhere you want to go bill.  Or, as the Legislative Counsel Bureau puts it more elegantly:

“Legislative Counsel’s Digest: Existing law generally makes it a gross misdemeanor to carry or possess certain weapons while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or a child care facility except in certain circumstances. (NRS 202.265) This bill adds an exception so that a person is not prohibited from possessing such weapons on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility if the weapon remains out of public view and if the weapon is: (1) inside a motor vehicle that is occupied or, if the motor vehicle is unoccupied, the motor vehicle is locked; or (2) stored in a locked container that is affixed securely to the motor vehicle.”

There are precious few places where the proliferationists can’t pack their weapons of choice and pleasure.  School campuses are one such place.  Under the provisions of A.B. 2 that protection is eliminated.  And, of course the gun-proliferationists were out in force for the hearing. [LVRJ]  The supporters, notably Assemblyman Hambrick are quick to point out this isn’t a “campus carry” bill. However, it’s interesting that one individual offering testimony described his trouble clearing up charges after “someone entered his locked car at Reed High School in Sparks where he worked and found his gun. That person reported it.”  And, now someone needs to ask the question:

What if the individual who entered his locked car in the Reed High School parking lot didn’t report it, instead, say, stole it, or worse used it in the commission of a felony?  Are we to believe that if the gun is out of sight, and locked in, that it’s safe on school grounds?  Not necessarily, if the person offering the testimony is to be believed. Someone did, in fact, get into the vehicle, and did, in fact, find the firearm.

The NRA mythology is nothing if not embedded in the minds of those who promote gun ownership and possession.  Does the gun make you “feel safe?” It might, but the statistics show another pattern.  The ‘good guy with a gun’ myth has been pretty thoroughly debunked. [Slate

This won’t be the last proliferation bill before the 2015 session of the legislature, and there are some “model” bills from the NRA and ALEC which ought to be tracked.  Watch for bills similar to the “Campus Personnel Protection Act,” for which ALEC has model legislation.  There is also a model for the outright concealed carry statutes promoted by the NRA and ALEC.  Another variation on this theme is the concealed carry reciprocity model also promoted by those two organizations.  There’s also a model bill to prevent cities and counties from prescribing any local firearms regulations.

We might also want to be aware of ALEC/NRA model resolutions on guns and child safety, which basically says tell your kids guns are dangerous, a little “education” is all that’s needed.  Interesting, since a person in the United States is more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. [Forward]  See also, the NRA resolution on promoting Eddie the Eagle to protect us from toddlers who find firearms.  Then, there’s the resolution decrying waiting periods for gun purchases, or as we might call it the “Suicide Facilitation Act?”

For ceremonial purposes, there’s the ALEC/NRA model resolution on the glories of the 2nd Amendment – as interpreted by the National Rifle Association.  Or as introduced in Nevada,  AB 100, “relating to the Attorney General; requiring the Attorney General, under certain circumstances, to commence an action to protect and secure the rights of residents of this State under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution…” Translation: If the President of the United States issues an executive order “infringing” on 2nd amendment “rights” then the AG’s office will file a suit.   Paranoia reigns supreme?

However, if you’d really like to witness paranoia in action – click over to the NRA’s legislative action page.  Here’s betting we see several items from the NRA wish list, during this session of the Assembled Wisdom.

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Guns Galore? Nevada Legislature to take up more gun law changes

guns pile Here they go again.  The Assembled Wisdom in Carson City will be considering more pro-NRA legislation in the upcoming session. [RGJ]  Judging from what we’ve seen thus far, the Republicans are mostly interested in expanding the privilege of concealed carry, enacting reciprocity statutes, and allowing guns on school campuses.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why any civilian with a valid reason to carry a firearm needs to conceal it. If the idea is to let a potential criminal know that he or she will be putting him or herself in danger if an assault is attempted, then why not strap on the old six-shooter and show the world?  Concealment not only hides the weapon from those who would do evil, it also hides it from police officers and other law enforcement officials.  In a land awash in firearms, the notion that anyone could be armed at any time must be part of the assessment of a situation made by law enforcement officers.  We decry the use of ‘heavy-handed’ tactics by such officers while at the same time creating the circumstances which lead to and often justify the use of force.

The rationale for the expansion of concealed carry seems to channel from the NRA’s position that the only thing stopping a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with one.  Unfortunately, there’s no peer reviewed research to support this. Do more relaxed concealed carry rules prevent crimes? There’s no peer reviewed research to support this conclusion either.  [Donohue, Aneja, Zhang]

While some conservative and gun advocacy groups have made the claim that more concealed carry permits are related to reduced crime rates, some of the arguments fall because of an inadequate logical base.

“The main argument is that two things that happened simultaneously are related: A 22% drop in murder rates and a 103% spike in gun permits during 2007 and 2013. The report concludes that by “using this new state level permit data from 2007 on, our analysis suggests that each one percentage point increase in the percent of the adult population holding permits is roughly associated with a 1.4% drop in the murder rate.” [Mic]

We have some magical thinking going on here.  If this framework is adopted, then one could argue that a 103% increase in concealed carry permits also “suggests” that this is related to the increase in the DJIA from 13,264.82 in December 2007 to 16,576.66 in December 2013.   Sound silly? Because the DJIA and the crime rate aren’t in the same general category?  True, but when authors of any report use terms like “suggest” and “roughly associated” they are telling the reader they can’t justify a statistical relationship between the elements, much less make a causal connection.

When factors like improved policing methods and higher levels of incarceration are tossed into the mix the ‘suggested’ causal relationship between concealed carry permitting and the reduction of general crime rates becomes even more opaque.  One Alabama newspaper tried its hand at research and concluded:

“AL.com gathered the number of active pistol permits for 63 out of 67 counties. (Four didn’t respond despite repeated requests). But a statistical examination of Alabama’s county-by-county permit rates does not turn up any correlation with rates of serious crime. These offenses consist of homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.”

What might be left then are bits of anecdotal evidence, real and imagined. “I showed the car-jackers my gun and they ran off.”  Good. Not so good, “If I had had a gun I would not have been raped.”  That’s one possible outcome, another might have been “he grabbed the gun away and shot me.”   At present we don’t have any peer reviewed research that can adequately reconcile variations in the results of defensive gun use, primarily because we haven’t carefully defined what we mean by defensive gun use.  The 2013 report from the CDC suggested five high-priority areas for additional research, unfortunately without making much progress on a research definition of DGU.  [NAS]  The House of Representatives still has no intention of funding further gun use and violence related research. [IBT]  We are thus left with a situation in which, given the lack of scientific evidence, the emotional or ideological ‘evidence’ is cited with the same authority as those few scientific studies that are available.

For example, we know that an earlier study indicated that in general the rate of victim injuries were less where a gun was used for self defense. However, what we don’t know is if the firearm was concealed at the outset? Shown at the outset? Was the firearm used to threaten, intimidate, or actually shoot the criminal? Better data collection, and better analytical compilations, depend on better recording and reporting than is now available.

What the 2015 session of the Nevada Legislature could do before launching into ideological legislation is to fund scientific research on defensive gun use in the state of Nevada. In short – get the facts BEFORE the fun starts.

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When Will It Be Enough?

The Washington Post printed this chart of gun deaths in developed nations in December 2012:

Gun Death Chart by countryUSA Today has an interactive chart for those wishing to review the violence we’ve perpetrated on one another in 2013.  Suffice it to say there are entirely too many entries in this database.

When will the numbers be too staggering?  The incidents too horrific?  The arguments of the rabid radicals too specious?

It’s taken 30+ years for the National Rifle Association to convince the public that the Second Amendment is to be interpreted by their lights only.   The neo-Confederates, and related “militia” members are even willing to carry the NRA argument to its obvious extension — any person should be able to acquire any weapon necessary to take on the Evil Government — missile launchers anyone?

It’s taken 30+ years for the NRA and associated gun manufacturers to disseminate their message that the only answer to gun violence is more people armed with more guns willing to do more violence.

It’s taken 30+ years for people to think of school security not in terms of open and easy exits in case of fire, but in terms of sealed exits and magnetometers to prevent gun violence in our schools.

A cowardly Congress had the opportunity to take the least restrictive measures imaginable in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.  They passed.  Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bill, the House of Representatives didn’t even address the issue.

A Washington, D.C. punditry — the Beltway Babblers — pontificated that the President must have failed because the opposition Party in the Cocktail Party Circuit Court of Opinion refused to cooperate.  He should have “cooperated more?”  The Senate bill which died as a result of the filibuster didn’t even contain the assault weapons ban, didn’t have a limit on ammunition capacity, didn’t prevent straw purchases, didn’t require comprehensive background checks… How much more were the Democrats supposed to compromise?  Perhaps, “compromise” means giving the Republicans everything they want?

However, it’s easy to imagine that had the President not offered even the soft provisions of the Manchin Amendment, the Beltway Babblers would have noted the President had “caved” to pressure.  Nowhere in the prolixity did anyone consider that it is a strange standard indeed to hold a President responsible for the behavior of the opposition party.

We don’t need a proliferation of guns.  We have enough.  We have a situation in which fewer people are buying more weapons.  And, we have more than enough instances of babysitters leaving weapons unattended with tragic consequences, children playing with firearms with deadly effect, toddlers setting off firearms accidentally.

There are NO rights which do not come with responsibilities.  A responsible gun owner locks and stores guns properly.  A responsible gun owner doesn’t encourage gun violence.   A responsible gun owner supports closing the gun show loophole, and shutting down the straw purchases of guns which all too often fall conveniently into the hands of gangs and criminals.

I am frankly very tired of the antiquated arguments of gun enthusiasts.  I am even more exhausted by their circumlocution and specious contentions.  However, one has to admire their focus.  They are single issue voters of the first water.  Their enthusiasm is boundless.  And…they are rapidly turning me into a single issue voter as well, just on the other side of their issue.

I am not willing to accept a vision of America as a violent nation, a country willing to sacrifice its children on the altar of Gun Rights.   One youngster in a Denver hospital, in a coma, is one too many.

Enough is Enough.

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Four Steps to a Safer Society

Assault RifleDon’t talk to me about “mass shootings are just rare manifestations of mental illness,” unless you intend to offer suggestions concerning how we cope with those suffering from mental illness, emotional problems, or behavioral issues.   I have in mind some notions which seem like sound judgment,  not necessarily founded in any specialized knowledge of the subject.

#1. Adequately fund mental health care services at the state and national level.

Nevada, currently being sued by San Francisco for its dubious practice of “transporting” mentally ill individuals beyond its jurisdiction, [NBC]  has been warned — this from a mental health professional back in April 2013:

“Dr. Dale Carrison, the chief of staff and head of emergency medicine at University Medical Center, is more blunt.  “The mental health system has been broken since I got to Las Vegas 22 years ago,” Carrison said. “There aren’t a lot of options for people. Every time they cut the budget they cut the mental health budget first. We do a very poor job of evaluating them and treating them. At some point, you’ve got to say the state just doesn’t care.” [LVRJ]

Nevada wasn’t (isn’t) alone in its refusal to enact budgets which competently address the problems associated with mental illness and substance abuse.  NAMI issued its 2011 Report (pdf)  citing cuts in California’s mental health services totaled $587.4 million, New York cut its budget by $132 million, Illinois cut $113.7 million, and Arizona cut its mental health care budget by $108.4 million.  Nevada made the list of the largest cuts as a percentage of its total mental health care budget:  (1) Alaska by 35%, (2) South Carolina by 23%, (3) Arizona 23%, (4) Washington, D.C. 19%, (5) Nevada 17%, (6) Kansas 16%, (7) California 16%, (8) Illinois 15%, (9) Mississippi 15%, (10) Hawaii 12.1%.   We ought not take pride in being on this “Top Ten List.”

The situation at the national level isn’t much better.  Already at a parsimonious level, the sequestration of federal funds for non-defense discretionary categories further stretches already strained mental health research and service budgets.  Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association, issued this warning about further cuts to mental health care funding:

“These cuts will be disastrous to communities and individuals living with mental health and substance use conditions. States have already cut mental health budgets by a combined $4 billion over the past three years-the largest single combined reduction to mental health spending since de-institutionalization in the 1970s. Cuts enacted by sequestration are estimated to reduce non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding anywhere from 7.5 to 12 percent across-the-board. Given one in every four Americans lives with a mental health or substance use condition, and more than 67 percent of adults and 80 percent of children who need services do not receive treatment, maintaining discretionary federal funding for mental health and substance abuse services is pivotal to ensure citizens have access to behavioral health care.”  (emphasis added)

What efficacy do we expect from a system in which we have reduced the allocation of resources by the largest amount in the past 3 decades?  There are about 316,000,000 Americans, and if approximately 25% need mental health care or substance abuse assistance then that’s nearly 79 million people in need of help and care.  If at present 67% of adults and 80% of children who need help aren’t getting it now, what makes us think that sequestering funds for services and further limiting the funds available for mental, behavioral, and substance abuse assistance will make the situation any better?

#2.  Improve the record keeping and coordination between mental health entities and law enforcement services.   SB 221 enacted by the Nevada state legislature would have helped, but the NRA beholden Governor vetoed it.   It’s going to take personnel to get this done.  People are going to have to be hired to do data entry, to coordinate information sharing, and to maintain the integrity of the records.  Again, if we’re serious about resolving the problems associated with mentally ill persons securing deadly weapons then this is an expenditure which makes sense.

#3. Implement the provisions of the Affordable Care Act which deal with health insurance coverage of mental health care services.    If we are serious about providing adequate mental health care services to individuals who might hurt themselves or others, then it’s fulsomely obvious that 41 votes to repeal, delay, or defund the provisions of the Affordable Care are patently silly.

The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance corporations to issue policies which cover depression screening for adults and behavioral assessments for children at no extra cost.  Further, coverage for mental health and substance abuse is expanded and given the federal parity protections.  Going a step further, an insurance corporation may not decline coverage for pre-existing conditions, including mental illness.

#4. Enact common sense restrictions on the possession of firearms.   (a) Require background checks for all gun sales.  Legitimate, honest gun dealers already do this. The illegitimate, and dishonest ones need to be put out of business.  There is nothing “onerous” about a background check — it takes a matter of minutes, and if our record keeping systems are functional, then some people who should not possess firearms can be weeded out before they cause injury to themselves or others.  (b) Enact limits on the ammunition capacity.   If I haven’t shot “the burglar” after 15 rounds, the chances are I’m not going to.  The only thing I’m going to accomplish is to do more damage to my property than the erstwhile hypothetical burglar ever dreamed of doing.  (c) Crack down on gun trafficking.  There’s an unhealthy level of profit for people who traffic in stolen guns, and who transport guns both stolen and purchased in states with lax gun sale requirements.  New York City police recently arrested two gun smugglers from North and South Carolina who tried to offload 254 guns into the NYC market. [CNN] (d) Ban the sale of “assault weapons.”  Yes, a person can be killed by a bullet from a single shot .22 caliber gun; BUT weapons which are designed to, or can be easily modified for, rapid fire merely serve to increase the carnage.

A few common sense steps might reverse the trends in this chart from GunPolicy.Org.

Gun Death Chart 2*Alpers, Philip and Marcus Wilson. 2013. Guns in the United States: Facts, Figures and Firearm Law. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney. GunPolicy.org, 27 August. Accessed 18 September 2013.

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Two Women who are worth more than 40 Senators

GunsApril 16, 2007:  A young man diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder went on a rampage at Virginia Tech University, killing 32 people and wounding 17 more.

July 20, 2012:  A mentally ill young man entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado armed for combat — with innocent movie-goers.  He left 12 individuals dead, and 70 others wounded.

December 14, 2012: A young man with a personal history of emotional problems entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 20 children and 6 staff members.

In each of these three deadly incidents the person initiating the horror had a history of mental problems.  NRS 202.360 seems to be clear about those who have serious psychiatric problems being among those classified as prohibited from the ownership of firearms, as in someone who “Has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility.” But wait? What is adjudication?

Adjudication is: “The giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree in a cause; also the judgment given.”  Who pronouns a judgment or decree? — a judge.  The commitment, we can assume, might be either voluntary or involuntary, and if involuntary comes with a requirement for the respect of individual civil rights. [NRS 433.471-472]  In short, the loophole in Nevada law is that a seriously ill individual may retain his or her “right” to the possession of a firearm unless there is a court order on record.

This is tricky territory.  Nearly all mentally ill individuals are NOT violent.  However, we probably need to thank Jill Schaller of Reno, Nevada for preventing a tragedy when she found out her son, who had once been committed for mental health treatment, purchased a gun from a Reno police officer.  Remember this part of the story?

“The young man told his parents about the gun purchase while on a vacation in Southern California last week. He promised to give the gun to his parents when they returned to Reno on Sunday night.But on the flight home, he texted Conklin, saying his mother was upset. Driving home, Schaller said, Conklin called and said she was sorry and that she was “not aware that you did not want a gun in your house.” Conklin offered to buy it back, but when they arrived home, Schaller said her son grabbed the gun and ran out the back door, so she called 911.” [RGJ]

The sale was “private” therefore under Nevada statutes no background check was required.  However, the sale was still impermissible under the provisions of the Nevada Revised Statutes — the young man had been committed for mental health treatment.  The terror Mrs. Schaller experienced when making that 911 call  might have been prevented if Governor Sandoval had not vetoed SB 221 on June 13, 2013. (pdf)  A background check could have discovered, should have discovered, that the young man in question was not one who should be in possession of a firearm.

Governor Sandoval, citing 2nd Amendment protections, and “undue burdens” on gun sellers, sided with the National Rifle Association and put his veto stamp on SB 221 which would have made a background check mandatory.  Jill Schaller prevented a tragedy, nothing Governor Sandoval did served to prevent any negative outcome.

August 20, 2013: The unspeakable almost happened in Atlanta, Georgia. There but for the calm courage of Antoinette Tuff, the McNair Discovery Learning Academy could have ranked with Sandy Hook Elementary in the sad litany of school shootings.  Instead, a mentally ill young man was calmed and mollified by a quick thinking, compassionate school employee.

September 16, 2013: Washington, D.C.

“A gunman killed a dozen people as the workday began at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, creating an improbable moment of horror at a military facility with armed guards at every gate and leaving investigators seeking clues about what spurred the attack.

The FBI identified the shooter as Aaron Alexis, 34, of Fort Worth, who in 2011 received a general discharge from the Navy Reserve, a designation that usually signals a problem in his record. Alexis was arrested but not charged in a gun incident in Seattle in 2004 but still had a security clearance with a military contractor that allowed him access to the Navy Yard, officials said.”  [WaPo]

We don’t know why Mr. Alexis went on this latest workplace rampage.  What we can say is that a disturbed individual brought firearms into a workplace, and used them, on 12 innocent people to deadly effect.

And, now we’ll hear it all again.

The old bromide: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Yes, and armed people do kill other people.  In fact, guns have killed 8,236 people have died by gunshot since the Sandy Hook tragedy. [Slate]

The old excuses: “It’s violent video games.”  Interesting, but young people in Japan, the United Kingdom, Sweden, etc. play video games, but we’re the one country with the singularly highest death by gun fire on this planet.

The older excuses: “It’s mentally ill people!” No, actually it’s not most mentally ill individuals.  Most mentally ill people aren’t violent — either to themselves or to others.  But what happens when mentally ill people have easy access to firearms — and don’t have a concerned parent in the immediate vicinity to prevent the acquisition of a gun?

The latest excuse:  “The Constitution preserves everyone’s right to bear arms.”   Extrapolated to the extreme, and some folks are perfectly willing to take it there, “we” have a right to the armaments of war.  Do we wait until there is a mass market for shoulder fired missile launchers before we draw the line?  At what point does good old fashioned common sense limits on the acquisition and possession of firearms kick in?

The old distraction dodge: “But, but look…there are more murders in Chicago…”  Yes, and we could be helping to prevent those, too, by enacting gun trafficking laws helping the cities like Chicago and New York rein in the importation of stolen and purchased guns from states with few if any common sense regulations.

There are answers for these excuses.

The American Public Health Association published a peer reviewed study with some not-surprising results:

“Gun ownership was a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates (incidence rate ratio = 1.009; 95% confidence interval = 1.004, 1.014). This model indicated that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%.

We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”

When a scientific piece of research says things like “robust correlation” we should be taking the findings seriously.  Seriously enough, that we ought to be taking the antics of the radical  gun-enthusiast crowd who’d like to recall State Senator Justin Jones [NYT] because of his efforts in SB 221.

Nevada doesn’t need any replication of Virginia Tech, nor is a repeat performance of the Aurora movie theater disaster desirable,  no one wants to see another Sandy Hook Slaughter.  We can’t depend on the compassion and eloquence of a school clerk, or upon the determination of a concerned mother for the safety of her son and her community, to resolve our problem.  Especially in light of the fact that we might have taken action to make their lives much easier, less frightening, by enacting common sense limits on the acquisition and possession of firearms.

We certainly don’t need our own version of the horrendous workplace shooting in the Naval Yard.   We could have seen SB 221 enacted.  But Governor Sandoval was more concerned with his rating from the NRA than with the safety of all Nevadans?  We might have seen universal background checks enacted at the federal level, but then Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and his GOP cohorts successfully blocked the bill.  [HuffPo]

We might have applied some common sense to the issue of gun and weapon purchases — universal background checks, limits on ammunition capacity, limits on the types of rapid fire guns for sale to the general public,  putting the skids to the gun traffickers — but so far we haven’t.   And, we may not until we can summon up the quiet courage of the Atlanta school clerk who discouraged violence armed only with heartfelt empathy, and the unconditional love of a mother who didn’t want her son to hurt himself or anyone else.

We’ll be a better nation when we learn to emulate Antoinette Tuff and Jill Schaller, rather than glorifying the verbal excesses of Wayne LaPierre or the blustering proponents of the Yosemite Sam School of Inter-Personal Relations.

Now have we Had Enough?

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