Tag Archives: gun violence

Isabelle Robinson Takes Us To School

Nag Nag Nag.  The kids at Parents Promise To Kids have picked up 9,725 parents and family members for their contract project as of right now.  We can do a bit better. They should break 10K today.  Take a minute to make a difference.

Reading material:

This isn’t recommended reading — it should be required reading.  Isabelle Robinson, a senior at Stoneman Douglas HS speaks to the ill informed suggestion that students are responsible for “making peers feel better,” and thus less likely to commit atrocities.  She’s right.  The “WalkUpNotOut” proposal is a distraction, and for my money a very dangerous distraction.   Let’s agree, if only for the sake of the argument, that discussions about mental health and adolescent issues are a diversion from the very real problem of access to guns.

In the aftermath of the Columbine massacre, (April 20, 1999) in which two very disturbed youngsters hauled firearms, and propane tanks, into their high school with every intention of either shooting or blowing their cohorts to bits, we discussed “bullying” ad nauseam — to the detriment of closing the gun show loophole.  No, the kids at Columbine almost twenty years ago were no more responsible for the actions of the criminals than the young people in Parkland, FL are responsible for the damage done to their lives.  Robinson puts it succinctly:

“This deeply dangerous sentiment, expressed under the #WalkUpNotOut hashtag, implies that acts of school violence can be prevented if students befriend disturbed and potentially dangerous classmates. The idea that we are to blame, even implicitly, for the murders of our friends and teachers is a slap in the face to all Stoneman Douglas victims and survivors.”

Please don’t misunderstand me, anti-bullying programs and rules are positive and useful.  However, never mistake an exercise in victim-blaming for a substantive suggestion toward solving our gun violence problems. Never mistake assigning “mental illness” as the culprit when it’s access to guns that increases the lethality of the incidents. Surely no one is suggesting that teens acquire the nuanced information in the current literature on the subject of violence and mental illness.

“Taken together with the MacArthur study, these papers have painted a more complex picture about mental illness and violence. They suggest that violence by people with mental illness — like aggression in the general population — stems from multiple overlapping factors interacting in complex ways. These include family history, personal stressors (such as divorce or bereavement), and socioeconomic factors (such as poverty and homelessness). Substance abuse is often tightly woven into this fabric, making it hard to tease apart the influence of other less obvious factors.”  [Harvard Health]

If the experts admit it is difficult to analyze and evaluate the factors — obvious and obscure — involved in mass killings, then certainly it doesn’t do to prescribe such a bromide as ‘if you’d only been nicer to  him…’ in the present instances of gun violence.

Of all the assaults on the Parkland, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles (etc) students who spoke so eloquently on the subject of gun violence during the March for Our Lives rallies, none seems more insidious than to suggest that they could have ‘prevented’ the heinous crimes IF they had been proactive little saints.  They are the victims.

Has anyone suggested that the concert attendees in Las Vegas might have been more involved in the mental illness factors contributing to the slaughter on October 1, 2017?  Were the movie theater goers in any way responsible for the shooting in Aurora in July 2012?  Were the church members responsible in any way for the outrageous shooting in Sunderland Springs, TX November 5, 2017? The answer if obviously a resounding “no.”  However, too many people have expended too much wind re-litigating the diversionary arguments of Columbine.  I’d urge a careful reading of Isabelle Robinson’s essay, it’s definitely an “A” grade example of student writing. And, an “A” grade rebuttal to the distraction tactics of the radical gun lobby.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

FYI: I’ll Just Leave This Here

March 6, 2018  “A South Carolina white supremacist who praised racist mass shooter Dylann Roof and longed to commit violence against Jews, Muslims and people of color has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors that will likely result in a relatively short stint in federal prison.”  [HuffPo]

March 2, 2018   “Nikolas Cruz left at least 180 rounds of ammunition — inside magazines that bore Nazi swastika symbols — at the scene of the Parkland school shooting.Along with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, Cruz abandoned at least six magazines that each contained 30 bullets at the scene of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.” [SunSentinel]

December 16, 2016  “Dylan Storm Roof’s website hinted at why he chose “historic” Charleston to shoot nine people to death at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Along with a long, hate-filled screed, the 21-year-old included photos of himself burning an American flag, taking aim with Ca pistol and posing proudly at sites connected to the Confederacy.” [CNN]

August 6, 2012  “Before he strode into a Sikh temple with a 9 mm handgun and multiple magazines of ammunition, Wade Michael Page played in white supremacist heavy metal bands with names such as Definite Hate and End Apathy.” [CBS]

January 7, 2010   (DC Holocaust Museum shooting) “Prosecutors said that von Brunn, an admitted white supremacist who lived most recently in Annapolis, had been planning the assault for months and that he hoped “to send a message to the Jewish community” that the Holocaust was a hoax. “He wanted to be a martyr for his cause,” a prosecutor said in court.” [WaPo]

July 28, 2008  “Jim David Adkisson told investigators all liberals should be killed and admitted he shot people Sunday morning at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate WBIR.” [CNN]

Generally speaking —

August 22, 2017  “Terrorists murdered 3,342 people on U.S. soil from 1992 through August 12, 2017. Islamist terrorists are responsible for 92% of all those murders. The 9/11 attacks, by themselves, killed about 89% of all the victims during this time. During this time, the chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by an Islamist was about 1 in 2.5 million per year.

Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists are the second deadliest group by ideology, as they account for 6.6% of all terrorist murders during this time. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the second deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, killed 168 people and accounted for 77% of all the murders committed by Nationalist and Right Wing terrorists. The chance of being murdered in a Nationalist or Right Wing terrorist attack was about 1 in 33 million per year.”  [Forbes]

ADL 2017 Report 

“Unlike 2016, a year dominated by the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida, committed by an Islamic extremist, a majority of the 2017 murders were committed by right-wing extremists, primarily white supremacists, as has typically been the case most years.”

I’ll just leave this here.

 

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Filed under Gun Issues, Hate Crimes, Politics, terrorism, White Supremacists

Unspoken: Mass Shootings Fade From Memory

On October 1, 2017 a large crowd gathered at a country-western music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.  At the end of the evening 58 were dead and 851 were injured.  The incident was only 122 days ago.  Since the tragedy has faded from memory, and certainly from the headlines, perhaps it’s time for a reminder of several key factors: (1) the massage casualties were caused by gun fire; (2) the lethality of the weapons used was enhanced by the addition of a bump-stock; and (3) the initial call for the elimination of bump-stock sales has diminished into memory.

Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Fl 26) introduced H.R. 3999 to address the bump stock issue on October 10, 2017.  It has not moved since.  Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Senate version (S 1916) on October 4, 2017.  Her bill got a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 6, 2017.   Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto spoke during the first panel during this hearing.  The ATF spokesman participated in the second panel and told the committee his agency issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on December 4, 2017 and invited public comment as to whether bump stocks should be addressed in the agency’s classification system. [pdf]  The ATF rule-making process has ten steps, and there is the potential for delays and diversions prior to adoption.  Nor was this a complete version of the story.

The agency was unsure as of December 5, 2017 if it had the authority under existing statutes to issue a ban on the manufacture and sale of bump stocks. [USAT]  [HuffPo] And, to make matters a bit more complicated, “The ATF has submitted an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget. The process, which will require public hearings, generally takes eight months to a year to complete.” [OL 12/26/17]

The Federal Register published the following concerning the bump stock review:

“The Department of Justice anticipates issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would interpret the statutory definition of “machinegun” in the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Gun Control Act of 1968 to clarify whether certain devices, commonly known as “bump fire” stocks, fall within that definition. Before doing so, the Department and ATF need to gather information and comments from the public and industry regarding the nature and scope of the market for these devices.”

The Department set a deadline for written comments:

“Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before January 25, 2018. Commenters should be aware that the electronic Federal Docket Management System will not accept comments after Midnight Eastern Standard Time on the last day of the comment period.”

Thus, all written comments were due last Thursday, 116 days after the slaughter.  As for this year’s state of the union address, one Congressman, Dan Kildee (D-MI) invited a guest who is an activist on behalf of gun victims. [Hill] Meanwhile, there have been 22 mass shootings in the United States during the first month of this year, thankfully none using a bump stock, 158 accidental shootings, and 14 shootings since yesterday. [Trace]

Granting that haste makes waste, it does seem ages ago when the rampage ended at the music festival, another age since the testimony concerning the regulation of bump stocks, and another age since the initiation of rulemaking reviews.    122 days and counting.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

The Republican Money Pits

money whirlpool So, how many ways can the House GOP find to waste taxpayer money? Let’s start with the House Oversight Committee which wasn’t pleased with the FBI’s conclusions on their manufactured outrage narrative concerning Secretary Clinton’s emails – now they want to haul the FBI director in for a grilling. [TPM]  However, this is only the latest.

Meanwhile, it’s estimated by the Department of Agriculture that 15.3 million children in the United States under the age of 18 live in homes where they don’t have consist access to enough nutritious food to sustain a health life. [FA.org]

It was reported yesterday that House leadership was meeting to discuss whether to launch a formal investigation into the sit-in staged by House Democrats over the failure of the leadership to bring a gun safety bill to the House floor. [TPM]

Meanwhile,  every day 7 children in the United States die in gun violence, and another 41 survive being shot in assaults (31), suicide attempts (1), and accidental shootings (8). [BC.org]

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) continues to pump for more investigations into … Planned Parenthood. Who would have guessed? Not that the committee hasn’t soaked up some 80% of the supplemental funds for the House Administration Committee, that would be $790,000.  [Esq]

Meanwhile,  the CDC reports that between 2011-2014 the prevalence of children with obesity aged 2-5 yrs. was 8.9%, 17.5% among children between the ages of 6 and 11; and, 20.5% among adolescents aged 12 to 19. [CDC pdf]

The House Republicans racked up approximately $7,000,000 in expenses for its interminable Benghazi hearings.  [BBN]  The State Department spent about $14,000,000 trying to process and present information requested by the Committee, the Pentagon reported about $2 million in expenses associated with the “investigations.”

Meanwhile,  when the FAST Act expires at the end of FY 2020, the Congressional Budget Office projects the average annual shortfall to the federal Highway Trust Fund will grow to $16 billion, [TRIP scrib] and we have a backlog of pavement projects of about $59 billion, and another $30 billion needed to improve and maintain bridges.  This isn’t even county the $100 billion we need for highway system expansion and enhancement. [TRIP scrib]

Is it not reasonable to conclude that the House GOP is far more interested in political scandal mongering than it is in … investigating why 15.3 million children aren’t getting enough nutritious food to eat? Or, why 20% of our teenagers are suffering the health effects of obesity? Or, why we’re losing 7 children every day to gun violence?  Or, why we’re only spending 61% of what we should be allocating to the repair and maintenance of our national highway system?

Is there to be no investigation into why there isn’t adequate affordable housing in one single county in the entire United States? [Fortune]  Why aren’t members of the Congressional leadership interested in hearing why the gender pay gap is the widest for blue collar women? [Detroit News]

Instead, the House GOP seems entangled in the past, engaged in corybantic fits of furor over all but imaginary “threats” while veritably ignoring the very real economic, health, educational, infrastructure, and commercial interests of this country.  A person can reside in the past only so long as the future doesn’t catch up.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Health Care, Infrastructure, Republicans, youth

One Great Distraction: Guns, GOP, and Mental Health

blood money The GOP response to gun violence in America is getting tiresome, and no diversion or distraction more so than when its members cite “mental health” as a topic for discussion.

The Republican Party really shouldn’t get anywhere near this distraction, not with their record on making mental health care available to American citizens. [AmerBlg]   It doesn’t do to blather on about Guns and Mental Health in one breath and then take 50+ votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the next.

Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act about 1/3rd of those who did have health insurance in the individual market had no coverage for substance use disorder to services, and 1/5th had no coverage for mental health services, including outpatient therapy, and inpatient crisis intervention and stabilization.  Additionally, even when a person did have coverage there was no guarantee mental health services would be covered comparably to medical and surgical care.   The situation in the small group market was a bit better, coverage for substance abuse and mental health services was more common, but many states did not have “parity” laws requiring comparable coverage with medical and surgical treatment.  Then, there were those 47.5 million Americans who didn’t have any health insurance, and the 25% of uninsured adults who have a mental health condition, a substance abuse problem, or both. [ASPE]

After the passage of the Affordable Care Act mental health and substance abuse are categories covered as part of the package of Essential Health Benefits.  With the finalization of rules as of January 1, 2014 consumers buying health insurance policies can be confident that the health plan will cover mental health services, and importantly, that there will be parity for mental health and substance abuse treatment coverage. [ASPE]

And what was the Republican reaction?  “Repeal.. Repeal.. Repeal…” at least 50+ times. [WaPo]  

January 8, 2011:  There was a mass shooting in Tucson, AZ  six were killed, eleven others wounded including a member of Congress, Rep. Gabby Giffords.   January 19, 2011: The House votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  On February 19, 2011 the House passed an FY 2011 continuing appropriations bill with several amendments to “severely limit” the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The measure passed with no Democratic support.  Further votes were taken to carve up and diminish the provisions of the Affordable Care Act on March 3, 2011, April 13, 2011, and April 14, 2011.  On April 14, 2011 a House resolution advised the Senate to defund all mandatory and discretionary spending associated with the Affordable Care Act.  April 15, 2011 the Republican controlled House passed its version of the budget repealing and defunding the Affordable Care Act.  During the four months after the Tucson Shooting the Republican controlled Congress spent much of its time trying to defund, limit, or outright repeal the law requiring health insurance companies to include mental health services as an “Essential Benefit” and on par with coverage for medical and surgical treatment.  And, they weren’t finished.  Republicans tried to gut the Affordable Care Act provisions on May 3, 2011; May 4, 2011May 24, 2011; and on August 1, 2011 the Budget Control Act cut some mandatory and discretionary funding tied to the Affordable Care Act.

October 12, 2011:  Eight people were killed and another critically wounded by a shooter in Seal Beach, California.  Ironically, on October 13, 2011 the House passed the “Protect Life Act” preventing any funding from be applied to abortion procedures.  More Congressional incursions were made on the Affordable Care Act on November 16, 2011, December 13, 2011, and December 16, 2011.  On February 1, 2012 Congress voted to repeal a long term care insurance program (CLASS).  February 17, 2012 the House voted to cut funding for Louisiana’s Medicaid program by $2.5 billion, and cut $11.6 billion including $5 billion from the Public Prevention and Health Fund.  The cut to the Medicaid program was significant because Medicaid is the insurance provider for low income people, some of whom might be in need of substance abuse or mental health care treatment.  On March 29, 2012 the House version of the FY 2013 budget called for repealing and defunding the Affordable Care Act.

April 2, 2012:  A former student at Oakland’s Oikos University opened fire in a classroom, seven were killed and three wounded.  The House attacked the Affordable Care Act again on April 27, 2012, and more significantly voted on May 10, 2012 to replace the automatic budget cuts to the Defense Department by defunding and repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act. June 7, 2012 the House voted to repeal the medical device tax, and limit the reimbursements for over the counter medications.  On July 11, 2012 the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

July 20, 2012: 12 people were killed and another 58 were injured in the shooting at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater.  Yet again, opponents of gun safety regulations noted that the shooting was the result of mental illness.

August 8, 2012: A shooter gunned down six people and injured three others at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI.

September 28, 2012: Six were killed and two injured in a workplace shooting in Minneapolis, MN.

October 21, 2012:  Three died and four were injured in a shooting in Brookfield, WI.

December 14, 2012:  Newtown, CT; 27 died including 20 first grade children. On December 20, 2012 the House voted once more to replace discretionary spending cuts enacted as part of sequestration by defunding and repealing several provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  On January 1, 2013 the “fiscal cliff deal” passed the House including the repeal of the CLASS Act and cutting funds for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan. 

On May 16, 2013 the House voted to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act. 

June 7, 2013: Five people were killed in a shooting incident in Santa Monica, CA which ended on the campus of Santa Monica College.  On July 17, 2013 the House voted to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for employers by one year.  Also on July 17, 2013, the House voted to delay the implementation of the individual mandate.  On August 2, 2013 the House voted to prevent the IRS from implementing or enforcing any portion of the Affordable Care Act.

September 16, 2013:  12 were killed and 3 injured in a shooting at the Washington, DC Naval Yard.  On September 20, 2013 the House voted to approve a short term FY 2014 continuing resolution in which the Affordable Care Act was fully defunded, including the prohibition of all discretionary and mandatory spending, and rescinding all of its unobligated balances.  On September 29, 2013 the House voted again to repeal the medical device tax, and to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act by another year.  September 30, 2013, the House voted to delay the individual mandate, an action which would effectively render the law inoperable.

Votes were taken in the House on October 17, 2013; November 15, 2013; January 10, 2014; January 16, 2014, March 5, 2014 to weaken the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act.  More such votes were taken on March 11, 2014; March 12, 2014; and, March 14, 2014. [LAT]

April 2, 2014: Three were killed, sixteen injured in Fort Hood, TX, scene of a previous shooting in 2009.

On January 28, 2015 Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) introduced H.R 596, a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  The measure passed the House on February 3, 2015. [RC 58]*

May 23, 2015: Six dead, seven wounded in Isla Vista, CA. June 18, 2015: Nine dead at the Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC.  October 1, 2015: Nine dead, nine injured in Roseburg, OR.   Meanwhile, the Huffington Post asked Senators what might be done about the carnage:

“If there’s one issue that these senators wanted to talk about when asked about gun violence, it was the mental health component. Nearly all of those who were interviewed said their attention is on that aspect of the problem, instead of on gun laws.

“What I’ve been focused on, and I think it very much relates to, unfortunately, too many of these mass shootings, is improving our early intervention mental health system,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). “Hopefully we can take some immediate action and find common ground.” [HuffPo]

Improving our “early intervention mental health system?”   What appears to be more than slightly inane (if not outright insane)  is to believe that repealing the Affordable Care Act — such that we cannot assure health insurance coverage for substance abuse and mental health problems, on par with coverage for medical and surgical treatment – is going to augment our attempts at “early intervention,” – or for that matter, for intervention at any stage.

Unless, and until, the Republicans are willing to stop trying to repeal the law that requires mental health treatment coverage as part of an Essential Benefit package, and stop attempting to repeal the provisions saying that the coverage must be on par with other medical and surgical treatment benefits, the noise about “doing something about mental health” is just that – a distracting noise.

Unless, and until, the Republicans are willing to put legislation into the hopper (and bring it to the floor for a vote) increasing (1) federal support for mental health care services, and (2)  increasing the number of low income people in the Medicaid program who have access to expanded coverage, then they’ll have to pardon those who say the “mental health” rhetoric is a hollow, shallow, attempt to distract the nation from any serious and substantive discussion of gun violence as a public health issue.

References: Congressional Research Service, “Legislative Actions to Repeal, Defund, or Delay the Affordable Care Act, July 8, 2015. (pdf) Los Angeles Times, Deadliest Shooting Rampages, October 1, 2015.  Washington Post, House has voted 54 times in four years on Obamacare,” March 21, 2014.  AmericaBlog, “Republicans are using mental health as an excuse to do nothing about gun violence.” October 6, 2015.  International Business Times, “Republicans’ Mass Shooting Response Focuses Not On Gun Control But On Mental Health Reform,: October 5, 2015.  Huffington Post, “Despite Mass shootings, Republicans won’t touch gun laws,” October 6, 2015.

*Nevada Representatives Amodei, Hardy, and Heck, voted in favor of H.R. 596.  Representative Titus voted no.

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Filed under H.R. 1591, Mental Health, Nevada politics, Politics, public health

Blood Money and Nevada Politicians

blood money Indeed, it’s time to “politicize” the gun violence issue in this nation; and, it should be done in this election cycle.   The top “gun rights” advocacy groups in terms of money spent on candidates are: (1) The National Rifle Association, which spent $952,252 during the 2013-14 season; (2) Safari Club International, which spent $694,640 during the same period; (3) Gun Owners of America, $270,157; (4) National Shooting Sports Foundation, $169,250; (5) The Ohio Gun Collectors Association, $35,500; and, (6) The Dallas Safari Club, $9,250.  [OpenSecrets]  And now – Who has been collecting some of this money in Nevada?

Contributions from all cycles to date as reported by the Center for Responsive Politics show:

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) $101,565

Representative Joe Heck (R-NV) $31,415

Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV) $25,765

Representative Cresent Hardy (R-NV) $1,000*

During his 2012 election campaign Senator Heller was presumably pleased to have five contributions from the Safari Club International totaling $6,000. [FEC]   FEC records show more recent money coming into the Cresent Hardy* (R-NV4) campaign from pro-gun sources: there was a $1,000 contribution from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund on June 19, 2015, and a $2,000 contribution from Safari Club International on June 30, 2015. [FEC]

Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) collected $2,000 from the Safari Club International (6/22/15) thus far in the 2016-2016 season; he collected $2,500 from the National Rifle Association on 9/15/14, $1,000 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (9/22/14), and $1,000 from Safari Club International on 6/21/13.  The gun lobby was generous to Representative Amodei in the 2011-2012 season as well, with three contributions (8/1/2011) (12/20/2011) (7/27/2012) totaling $4,000 from the National Rifle Association.  Then, he received four more contributions from Safari Club International for $1,000 (8/9/2011) another $1,000 (3/19/2012), a boost of $2,000 (2/4/2012) and yet another $1,000 late in the season (9/8/2012).

Counting

While the politicians were collecting contributions from the pro-gun organizations, the CDC reported 16,121 homicides in the US in 2013 of which 11,208 were attributable to firearms. [CDC] As of 2011, the CDC reported, there were 41,149 suicides in this country, of which 21,175 were attributable to firearms. [CDC]  Worse still, we’re not even sure exactly how many children we’re losing every year to gun violence. [WaPo] [NYT] As close as we can infer is that between 2007 and 2011 an average of 62 children under the age of 14 were accidentally shot and killed each year. This is probably, as the Post pointed out, an undercount. [ERorg.]  The politicians collect more contributions, and the count rises.

Counting is important because the gun violence argument is becoming entangled in the differentiation between causation and correlation.  Gun fetishists will be delighted to find that FactCheck is criticizing one of the President’s recent comments about gun regulation and death rates as not being one of causation. No one appears to be disputing the correlations.  What’s interesting is that the original comment, “states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths” doesn’t seem to imply a causal relationship (or even a near perfect positive correlation of .98)  Perhaps for the purists, he might have expressed it as: “There appears to be a correlation between the efforts of a state to enact and enforce gun safety legislation and a lower overall gun violence death rate.”

Additionally, as the FactChecker points out counting suicides and accidental gun deaths is problematic because we lack a standard reporting system, an issue which muddies the clarity of statistics on accidents involving children as described in the links above.  Accurate information (data collection as in “counting” as accurately as possible) would also allow us to treat gun violence as a public health issue.  [Gupta CNN]

Counting and Will Power

If we go by the numbers, none of us can avoid the No. 1 cause of death until we reach 44 years of age – the heart disease and cancer causation kicks in. Unintentional injury is the leading cause for those aged 1-44.  However, when we look at the second leading cause of death in those between the ages of 15-35 it’s suicide, and the third leading cause is homicide.  [CDC]  Surely, if we have these kinds of statistics before us we can observe a public health issue of the first water.

Consider for a moment: Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, and Gastrointestinal infections were leading causes of death in 1900; in 2010 the leading causes were heart disease and cancer. [I09]  We treated TB, Pneumonia, and gastrointestinal infections as public health problems, studied causes, promoted research to find preventative measures and cures, and made a political decision that we would address these three killers with the funding and resources to defeat them.  However, as long as the merchants of lethal weapons continue to pay off politicians, and dispute even the most common sense elements of a potential solution, and won’t even consider funding basic research … our public health problem will persist as a matter of ill-advised political policy.

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I’m Tired: Of Defeatist Gun Glorifiers.

Blood splatter Another week another mass shooting, and yet another round of the old tired clichéd talking points from the defeatist – demoralized – ammosexuals. 

#1.  “Oregon has strict gun safety laws and the incident happened in Oregon, therefore gun laws don’t work.” No matter how many times another state or municipality is inserted into this framework it’s still the southbound product of a northbound bull.    Not sure? Go to this report of a study of the subject.

#2.The shooter was a ___________”  Another dropping of “product.”  I don’t care if the shooter was a bright green aubergine striped believer in the Great Pumpkin.  The shooter was able to secure lethal firepower all too easily and the entities which allowed him to do so are not held accountable in any meaningful way.

#3.It’s the parent’s responsibility to instruct and acculturate their children.”  Yes, and too many have decided on instructing children in the use of firearms without teaching the elements of responsibility thereof and  have begat another generation, some members of which think using a firearm is a way to vent, rage, and settle domestic disputes.  Again – more bull “product.”

#4.  “Banning guns leaves citizens unprotected.”  More male bovine “product.”  Really? Unprotected from what? Criminals? A gun in the home is more likely to be used in a crime, an accident, or a suicide than it will be to protect the Castle.  Need some real information? Try here.

#5.The shooter was mentally ill.”  This piece of “product” usually comes up when the shooter is a white male.  (Other shooters are Black (thugs), Muslim (terrorists) or if brownish (Un-American.)  So, I ask, what was a mentally ill individual doing with a lethal weapon?  Did a parent allow access? Did a store fail to run a background check? Did a private seller not perform due diligence?  Did the state legislature decide that only those who have been adjudicated mentally ill would be precluded from obtaining lethal weapons?

Ok, enough of the NRA publicity points, enough southbound product of northbound bulls.  We can, and should, make every effort to make our country safer.  We will never achieve perfection, but if we listen to the demoralizing, defeatist ammosexuals we’ll never even try.  We can do something:

  • Require universal background checks for firearm purchases. All firearm purchases.
  • Legislate to limit the practice of straw purchases of firearms.
  • Legislate to limit the amount of purchases.  One gun per month seems reasonable.  A person would have every right to purchase guns, just not all at once.
  • Limit the magazine capacity. 
  • Ban the sale of assault rifles.  Soldiers need them, civilians don’t.
  • Keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.
  • Fund and assist scientific studies into the causation and effects of gun violence.
  • Repeal liability immunity for gun manufacturers, in short make them as responsible for their product and any other manufacturers.
  • Enact safe storage laws.
  • Pledge to vote against any politician supported by the NRA, the Shooting Sports Foundation, Gun Owners of America, or any other manufacturing lobby promoting the sales of lethal weapons in this country.

If the defeatist, demoralizing, gun enthusiasts want to keep spouting their talking points, want to keep making excuses for doing nothing – fine, however I’m tired of their defeatism, their demoralization, their ranting, and their irrationality.  We cannot achieve perfection, but we can certainly do something to make this country and its citizens safer.

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Silver Bullets and Straw Man Arguments: Gun Legislation in Nevada (Updated)

OK Corral Here we go again.  Another spate of gun violence yields another editorial assault on common sense gun regulation from conservative sources, this time the editors of the Las Vegas Review Journal.  The title says it all, “Expanded gun background checks not a cure all.”  There are at least a couple of things wrong with this argument.  First, it’s a straw man argument. No one is claiming that universal background checks will cure the American violence problem.  The claim is that closing the gun-show loophole and requiring background checks for sales to non-family members will reduce the probability of gun violence.  Secondly, as the editorial itself acknowledges, background checks can prevent gun sales to domestic abusers.

Even this legislation, SB 175, didn’t really go far enough, and in some respects represents a step backward in terms of controlling access to firearms.  Those guilty of domestic violence, who are subject to an extended order of protection, are forbidden from purchasing or otherwise acquiring a firearm during the period the order of protection is in effect. To get this small attempt at controlling firearm access by domestic abusers, meant the NRA won state control of all gun related issues, county concealed carry permits in Clark County went by the wayside, and expanded language was added to liability in instances in which a “reasonable person might be afraid” for his or her life.

The second logical issue with the editorial is good old fashioned circular reasoning.  The authors logic appears to be that (1) effective background checks require efficient offender databases; (2) Nevada has an inefficient offender data base system; therefore (3) Nevada cannot have effective background checks.  This logic works IF one is prepared to skip blithely over the question of how to make the Nevada offender data base more efficient – and is perilously close to the old Undistributed Middle.

And then comes the perfectly predictable: “Regardless, as has been shown countless times, criminals are not going to follow any gun control law.”  So, if we extrapolate this to its obvious, and much referenced conclusion, there is no reason to enact sanctions against bank robbery and bear baiting because criminals are not going to follow the law?

Now back to the Domestic Violence issue.  What was gained by victims of domestic abuse in SB 175? Answer: Precious Little. [DB April 2015]  Under Section 5 of the bill a domestic abuser (the Adverse Party) was forbidden to purchase firearms for the duration of an extended order of protection.  Please recall that Nevada has two types of restraining orders, temporary and extended, and it can take up to 45 days to get an extended order. [NRS 33.031]   Meanwhile, the statistics are available for the period from April to June 2015. (pdf)

Between April and June 2015, there were 16,245 “contacts” made by authorities concerning domestic violence, and 10,637 were “first time,” another 3,537 were “repeats,” and there were 2,071 “follow up contacts.” Of the 10,637 victims 9,938 were women (93.4%), 699 were men (4.27%).  The age of the victim was not reported in 4,316 instances.  There were 1,479 female victims between the ages of 18-29; 2,577 female victims between the ages of 30-44; and, 1,193 female victims between the ages of 45-64.  Arrests were made in 1,490 cases, no arrest was made in 1,648 cases, and 135 cases are pending.  During the period between April and June 2015 there were 3,327 temporary orders of protection prepared.  2,402 temporary orders of protection/restraining orders were provided.

Assuming that law enforcement and the judicial system were functioning effectively, we had 2,402 cases in a three month period in which it was determined that the victim – most likely a woman – was deserving of a temporary order of protection.  However, the “adverse party” would be free to retain possession of firearms during the length of the temporary order, and for 45 days until an extended order of protection could be issued.

These numbers take on some urgency when put in the context of domestic violence in Nevada.  Back in 2012 25 of the 84 homicides within Las Vegas police jurisdiction were related to domestic violence, the numbers were worse in 2013 when 33 of 105 homicides were related to domestic disputes. [LVRJ]

More alarming still, the national report published by USA Today, on mass killings and family problems.  We have a “mass killing” about every two weeks (since 2006);  the FBI counted 172 between 2006 and 2011.  These numbers may be an undercount because of erroneous and excluded cases, leaving the FBI with a 57% accuracy rate.  And here comes the disturbing part:  Of those mass killings, in 53% the victims were family members. (Other 21%, Public 15%, Robbery/Burglary related 11%) A break up of some kind is the tipping point in 1 out of every 4 mass killings that aren’t connected to strangers, gang violence, or a robbery gone wrong. One in four victims were close family members, children, siblings, spouses, etc. In 77% of the mass killings the weapon used was a gun.  One-third of the victims were under the age of 18; and, 75% of the guns involved were handguns.

The USA Today report drilled down further: semi-automatic hand guns were involved in 49.6% of the shootings; handgun/revolver in 22.4%; and automatic pistols in 0.9%.  Single shot rifles were used in 9.5%; semi-automatic rifles in 8.6%; and automatic rifles in 0.4% of the cases. A shotgun was used in 8.6% of the deadly events.  One third of the perpetrators will be dead at the scene.

It’s certainly true, a domestic abuser will resort to whatever weapon may be at hand from guns to kitchen knives to baseball bats and to manual strangulation… however, as these statistics suggest the outcome is more likely to be deadly if a firearm is involved.

So, should the “little woman” be armed, does the gun in the home constitute an “equalizer?” The answer is no.

“A recent meta-analysis concluded what many people already knew: the availability of firearms is a strong risk factor for both homicide and suicide. But the study came to another conclusion that is rarely mentioned in the gun control debate: females are uniquely impacted by the availability of a firearm. Indeed, the study found that women with access to firearms become homicide victims at significantly higher rates than men.

It has long been recognized that higher rates of gun availability correlate with higher rates of female homicide. Women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the developed world, even though they make up only a third of the developed world’s female population. And within American borders, women die at higher rates from suicide, homicide, and accidental firearm deaths in states where guns are more widely available This is true even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates.” [LATimes]

In another study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers interviewed 417 women across 67 battered women’s shelters. Nearly a third of these women had lived in a household with a firearm. In two-thirds of the homes, their intimate partners had used the gun against them, usually threatening to kill (71.4 percent) them. A very small percentage of these women (7 percent) had used a gun successfully in self-defense, and primarily just to scare the attacking male partner away. Indeed, gun threats in the home against women by their intimate partners appear to be more common across the United States than self-defense uses of guns by women. [LATimes]

Another large case-control study compared women who were murdered by their intimate partner with a control group of battered women. Only 16 percent of the women who had been abused, but not murdered, had guns in their homes, whereas 51 percent of the murder victims did. In fact, not a single study to date has shown that the risk of any crime including burglary, robbery, home invasion, or spousal abuse against a female is decreased through gun ownership. Though there are examples of women using a gun to defend themselves, they are few and far between, and not statistically significant. [LATimes]

Thus much for the advocacy of yet more guns, and yet more permits to be able to conceal those guns?  And yet more reason to take note of the statistics on domestic violence, the presence of guns in unstable households, and the need to remove firearms from volatile domestic situations.

Questions Remain

  • When do the NRA talking points asserting there is no magic single solution to gun violence become stale and hackneyed?  When does the public come to understand that this is a straw man argument which does little good for the safety of the state and the families residing in this state?
  • When does the profoundly illogical argument that because something might be difficult, or even require more effort, that the desired outcome (less gun violence) is therefore impossible, become a clear example of circular reasoning and unfounded assertion?
  • When do we act on the statistics which strongly suggest that the presence of a firearm in a home increases the probability of lethal domestic violence and suicide? Not to mention tragic incidents involving children.
  • When do we take into consideration the fact that there are some 45 days under Nevada law during which a domestic abuser is free to retain firearms, indeed, free to obtain more “firepower” during that period?
  • What additional arguments must be made before those who advocate for zero restrictions on firearm ownership/possession understand that in a civilized society the temporary removal of firearms from a volatile domestic situation doesn’t mean there is a violation of a Constitutional right?

Update: The Violence Policy Center released its national report today. Nevada is 5th in the nation in female homicide rate.

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Armed and Dangerous or Unarmed and Disingenuous?

Guns If only the advocates of gun proliferation were as well armed logically as they are with cop-killer ammunition and magazines with 30 rounds?  Some of the arguments have become tiresome, others tedious, and most specious or spurious.

There are altogether too many categories of gun violence incidents in this country to make any definitive pronouncement about the specific nature or that violence or to state with any assurance that one type of legislation will address the incidents in their totality.  And, the proliferation advocates have used this concept as a platform for renouncing all responsibility for controlling the violence.  “This” would not have prevented “that,” they say, countering that universal background checks would not have prevented Incident X.  Or safe storage laws will not prevent work place gun attacks. Or mental health checks would not have prevented a specific hate crime. And, so it goes.   What is disarming our discussion and make our civic discourse disingenuous is the lack of a larger framework.

Is gun violence a function of (1) social displacement or discomfort; (2) poorly developed social skills, including conflict resolution; and/or (3) a combination thereof?

What is it about the “gun culture” which makes the manufacturer oriented message of the NRA so attractive to some people?  Here’s one explanation:

“The gun rights platform is not just about guns. It’s also about a crisis of confidence in the American dream. And this is one reason gun control efforts ignite such intense backlashes: Restrictions are received as a personal affront to men who find in guns a sense of duty, relevance and even dignity.” [LATimes]

Let’s separate the crisis of confidence from the American dream portion for a moment.  It certainly makes sense that those who feel their economic security slipping away, or who feel a disquieting sense of futility about making their lives better, would feel an attachment to a powerful weapon that makes them feel more masculine, relevant, and empowered. However, this seems a highly personal matter.  For all those in the Rust Belt portions of the country who’ve watched manufacturing jobs disappear, and those who are subsequently trapped in the morass of low paying part time employment, who use the gun as an emotional crutch, there are others who don’t.  In fact, the statistics tell us that in 1977 54% of American households contained a gun, while in 2014 that percentage dropped to 32%. [WaPo] There are more guns being sold, but to those who seem to be stockpiling them. [CNN]

These statistics don’t refute the argument that guns make the insecure feel better, however they might indicate that those who do use the guns as social/emotional support are procuring more of them.

Too Close To Home?

However, gun ownership isn’t necessarily an index of the levels of gun violence.   It does inform studies of fatal incidents of domestic violence.  The Wintemute Study in 2003 found that “females living with a gun in the home were nearly 3 times more likely to victimized at home than in any other place.”  The Grassel Study (2003) also found that “women who were murdered were more likely, not less likely, to have purchased a handgun in the three years prior to their deaths, again invalidating the idea that a handgun has a protective effect against homicide.” [VPC]

That “protective effect” is asserted by handgun purchasers who have bought guns to feel more secure in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities.  But once again we are missing some crucial information?  While our attention is directed at stranger perpetrated violence in movie theaters and other public spaces, most mass shootings are domestic.

“We found that in 57 percent of mass shootings, the shooter targeted either a family member or an intimate partner. According to HuffPost’s analysis, 64 percent of mass shooting victims were women and children. That’s startling, since women typically make up only 15 percent of total gun violence homicide victims, and children only 7 percent.” [HuffPo]

And the statistics go a step further toward explaining why the “protective effect” is illusory in domestic situations: “If a domestic abuser has a gun the victim is 8 times more likely to be killed.” [HuffPo/NCBI]  If a gun purchaser believes that the ownership of a firearm will make his family more secure, as do about 60% of Americans, then that 6 out of 10 hasn’t been paying attention to other numbers.

“For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.” [MJ]

What self-respecting person would want to protect his family by making the members more statistically likely to suffer homicide, suicide, or accidental death?  Total gun ownership doesn’t necessarily mean that the people who are supposed to be protected by the guns actually will be.  It may mean that there are a declining number of households in this country which are now at a statistically greater risk of fatal violence?

There’s good and bad news in terms of workplace violence as well. The good news is that from 2002 to 2009 the rate of nonfatal workplace violence declined by 35%, and that after a 62% decline in the rate from 1993 to 2002. The bad part is that between 2005 and 2009 while firearms were used in only 5% of the nonfatal workplace violence incidents, shootings accounted for 80% of workplace homicides. [BJS pdf] If nothing more, the numbers support the assertion that guns do, in fact, kill people. 

Who’s taking it personally?

Duty, relevance, and dignity may be the rationale for some gun owners, but their cohort may have other ideas?

“A June 2015 study found that “310 million firearms estimated to be in private hands in the United States are disproportionately owned by people who are prone to angry, impulsive behavior and have a potentially dangerous habit of keeping their guns close at hand.” There is a “co-occurrence of impulsive angry behavior and possessing or carrying a gun among adults with and without certain mental disorders and demographic characteristics.”

Almost 9% of people who “self-report patterns of impulsive angry behavior” also have a firearm at home, and 1.5% (or nearly 85 people out of 5,653 surveyed for this study) carry their guns in places other than their home. The authors found that, when studying violence and anger, it is more effective to look at the arrest history of individuals rather than seeing if they have a mental illness. Arrests could show “a history of impulsive or angry behavior (for example, criminal records of misdemeanor violence, DWIs and domestic violence restraining orders),” which “would likely serve as a more feasible and less discriminatory indicator of an individual’s gun violence risk.”  [CSGV]

We might also conclude that some of those who express a wish to be more dutiful in protecting their families – by firearms, more relevant, and more “dignified,” may also be some of the people who are more angry, impulsive, and potentially dangerous?

And then there’s the racism angle…

This is the uncomfortable topic in modern American life, but it is no less a function of gun sales, gun ownership, and gun culture – we ignore it at our peril:

“Those with racist views are more likely to oppose gun reform. In an October 2013 study, Kerry O’Brien, Walter Forrest, Dermot Lynott and Michael Daly concluded that “Symbolic racism [is] related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in U.S. whites.” The study defined symbolic racism as “racial resentment…an explicit but subtle form and measure of racism.” While the reasons for owning guns and being opposed to gun violence prevention legislation vary and are complex, “it has been suggested that sociocultural factors such as fear of black violence may be associated with gun ownership, and with opposition to gun controls.”

Professors Benforado and Young also supported this statement in their respective works. In his 2010 study, Benforado writes, “Advances in implicit social cognition reveal that most people carry biases against racial minorities beyond their conscious awareness. These biases affect critical behavior, including the actions of individuals performing shooting tasks. In simulations, Americans are faster and more accurate when firing on armed blacks than when firing on armed whites, and faster and more accurate in electing to hold their fire when confronting unarmed whites than when confronting unarmed blacks.”

Similarly, in his 1985 study, Young writes, “The ownership of firearms for protection is influenced by the interaction of racial prejudice and perceptions of crime and crime fighters. Moreover, the impact of prejudice is sufficiently strong that the mere physical proximity of a relatively large black population is enough to increase gun ownership among highly prejudiced men, even in the absence of concerns about crime.”

Discomforting as this may be, the “average” gun owner in America is white, married or divorced, relatively high income, and over 55. [CSGV]  Those armed with sufficient information from scientific studies can conclude that gun regulation efforts will be opposed by mostly white males over 55 years of age who promote a gun culture agenda which actually makes this country (and its women and children) less safe than if guns were not proliferating.

The facts have been out since forever – and facts aren’t going to move the debate in radical segments such as those who believe that any restriction on guns is a violation of their Constitutional rights, that any regulation of gun purchases is an act of Fascism, that any diminution of gun ownership is an indication of a loss of personal freedom.  Combine prejudice, bias, insecurity, and anger and we get the most vocal of the anti-regulation voices.  Unfortunately, these voices are getting equal face time in the media for their essentially minority view of common sense gun regulation in a society that has yet to acknowledge that guns are NOT a device for conflict resolution.

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Domestic Violence: When do the excuses stop?

Domestic Violence

This weekend a domestic violence issue in Texas transitioned into an assault on the Dallas Police Department. Early reports give every impression of a man, out of control in every way imaginable, extending his personal sense of outrage to his local law enforcement authorities.  “After the shootout at police headquarters, the suspect called 911 and gave a four- to five-minute rant, accusing of police of being to blame for him losing custody of a child,…” [CNN]

There was an incident in Montana last week that barely attracted much attention at all.  Augustine Bournes killed his wife and three children, June 11, 2015.  The children were all under the age of 6.  He set fire to their home, and then took his own life. [NYDN]   He was “anti-government and unhappy with his life.”  There’s a term for this pathology: Family Annihilators.  Pehaps the most tragic comment about the incident came from a relative: “People tried to tell him he needed to get help,” 35-year-old Starla Shannon said Wednesday. “He said he’d rather go to a vet than a doctor.”

There’s no question the Family Annihilators and the Public Attack Perpetrators are a distinct minority subset of those who commit or are involved in domestic violence.  However, they do set the peg for the extreme end of the spectrum.

The Excuses

Unfortunately for any rational discussion, the peg is inserted in swampy terrain, territory in which men are supposedly victimized by a culture that no longer provides Hollywood staple John Wayne-esque characters as role models (as if that were a model to be emulated), or fears of the expressions of male sexuality (as if ‘a little groping just happens naturally’ down at the garage), or Big Government obscures the origins of the “true source of oppression, (whatever in the world that might mean), or men’s natural expression of free speech is truncated by feminine criticism of those who don’t understand that ‘privilege’ begets a perspective which doesn’t necessarily include the lives of women or minorities.   There are other supposedly “pro male” excuses for male disaffection, such as the “lie” about equal pay; because it is said men work at more dangerous jobs? (Missing the point that the call is for equal pay for equal work, the last portion being conveniently omitted.

And then we get to the domestic arrangements – wherein women falsely accused men of rape, and women get the benefit of the doubt in court in terms of child custody and alimony or child support payments.

The Delusions

“There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past, which in fact, never existed.” [Robert Kennedy, Chicago, 1963]

Okay, in 763 BC the Romans adopted the Law of Chastisement, allowing husbands to beat their wives, and in the 14th century the Church advised a little spousal abuse for her “spiritual improvement.”  However,  we also know that by 1600 there were shelters for women – they called them convents.  In 1871 both Alabama and Massachusetts declared wife beating a crime. [StM]   Thus, if a wife abuser is seeking a “comfortable past” be advised it hasn’t exists in the last 144 years.

Another useless excuse is that “they – meaning women – do it too!” The misogynists among us are fond of providing statistics which “prove” women are also engaged in spousal and domestic abuse.  The stuffing comes out of this straw man quickly.  No one is saying all spousal abuse is done by men – but a sizable proportion of it certainly is.

A study of the reports of intimate partner violence between 1994 and 2010 found that 4 out of 5 victims were female. [NDVH]  The American Bar Association’s study of domestic violence found that:

(1) “Access to firearms yields a more than five-fold increase in risk of intimate partner homicide when considering other factors of abuse, according to a recent study, suggesting that abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.”

(2) “Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002.”

Therefore, we should rid ourselves of the delusions that (1) slapping the little lady around is good for them because the Romans did it; (2) it’s just as bad for men; and (3) a gun in the home will make things safer.

Home Not So Sweet Home

Nevada could do a much better job of preventing the instances of domestic and intimate partner violence, and violence against women and families in general. Our current statistics could use some improvement. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reported that for 2014 there were 65,026 contacts; 40,927 were for the first time; 15,534 were repeats; and 8,565 were follow ups. 1,091 adults needed shelter for 22,040 ‘bednights.’ 1,178 children were sheltered for 26,390 bednights. Most of the adults sheltered were between the ages of 30 and 44. Among those sheltered 12,096 were Caucasian, 3,396 were African American, and 7,725 were Hispanic.  Those numbers provide some context for the trauma.  Other numbers illustrate the strain on the system

Law enforcement was contacted 12,999 times, arrests were made 6,830 times. In 5,589 incidents arrests were not made. Police reports were made 481 times, temporary orders of protection were issued 11,354 times.  There were 4,520 court appointments, and 18,540 individual counseling sessions.

Looking for Solutions

First, and foremost, let’s make an attempt to alleviate the problem of escalating domestic violence by enacting common sense gun laws.

Local law enforcement authorities should have the power to immediately remove firearms from any home in which they have been called to deal with an incident of domestic violence – for their own safety if nothing else. [TCJ] [KMGH]  And, for the safety of the spouses and children the firearms should be locked up in police custody during the period covered by an order of protection.

Background checks should be expanded to private and gun show sales, and should include any records of domestic violence, stalking, or harassment.  No firearms should be sold to any person who is currently under a restraining order – temporary or extended.

Funds should be appropriated to adequately staff those agencies which keep records of criminal behavior, including incidents of domestic violence, the adjudication of mental health status, and the approval of temporary and extended orders of protection.

The state should require that all firearms in a home be kept locked when not in the immediate process of being maintained.

If we can take some small steps to create a safer environment for women and children, then we can better consider how to develop strategies for improving our society.  It would be helpful if we’d think beyond the extreme forms of firearm violence (Columbine, Va Tech, etc. or Montana and Dallas) and improve the way we deliver the message about violence and its results in general terms.  For example, behaviors like bullying are unacceptable, whether it’s bullying members of minority groups, women, or children.  Period.  Every school, public and private alike, should be required to update and upgrade their anti-bullying policies.

Getting a better grip on history wouldn’t be a bad idea either.  Yes, 14th century Europeans were encouraged to “beat the women” but those aren’t the best role models.  Edward I of England was a fearsome warrior with a sound reputation on the battlefield, and a person known for being troublesome if not downright petulant.  However, when it came to his domestic life things were quite different.  His marriage in 1254 to Eleanor of Castile was by all accounts a genuine life-long romance. Her death at Harby in November 1290 left him devastated.  Some of the visible reminders of his love and loss can still be seen in that country – as in Charing Cross (Chere Reine, or Beloved Queen).  There are far better role models available throughout history, even European medieval,  than the thuggish peasant “improving his wife.”

At the extreme, the Montana family annihilator would rather have gone to a veterinarian than a psychiatrist – and that’s a sad tale in itself.  We’ve done a relatively poor job of diminishing the stigma attached to mental illnesses in this country. We could and should do better.  No one would sit around contemplating whether to get treatment for a broken arm – why would or should anyone not seek treatment for a broken mind?  We’d not let a person with a dangerously high fever stay away from a hospital – so why do we not have services immediately available for family members who are coping with a person who is experiencing mental instability?  And, those services should be provided in a setting which isn’t the county jail!

Stop letting the perfect become the enemy of the possible or even the pragmatic.  Opponents of common sense gun regulation, those who don’t wish to make the investment in mental health care services, and even those who have mistakenly analogized boorishness for masculinity, repeat the mantra that “it (whatever solution is proposed) won’t prevent tragedies from happening.  True. However, that doesn’t negate the improvements which could be made if we’d try.  Laws against bank robbery don’t prevent the criminals among us from trying, but they do provide for a place to put them when they are caught.  Increasing the number of mental health care facilities and programs will not provide 100% security – but it would be better than what we have at the moment. And, providing anti-bullying and anger management programs and projects at an early age won’t mean that some erratic person won’t engage in violent behavior – but the incidents prevented before they ever happen will reduce the strain on our educational, police, and health care services.

A productive perspective will do more to accomplish the reduction in domestic violence and related homicides than sitting stone silent wrapped in the fear a solution might not produce 100% success.  Franklin Roosevelt had two sentences for that:

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

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