Tag Archives: mass shootings

The Tapestry of Our Lives

The thunder and lightning have passed, and it’s time to get back to the blog.  Not that the thunder and lightning in the country have abated in any significant way.  Senator Dean Heller seems to have attracted one strike:

The National Rifle Association has endorsed Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller and three other Republican candidates for Congress ahead of the June 12 primary elections.  Heller received an “A” rating from the NRA, which is given to pro-gun candidates who support the organization’s positions on key votes or who have a record of supporting Second Amendment.  The gun-rights group also endorsed Republican Rep. Rep. Mark Amodei who is seeking re-election in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District. [NVIndy/News4]

May 18, 2018 10 people were killed and 13 injured in a mass shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.  Another month, another mass shooting in a school.  Once more the NRA wants to talk about anything except the guns.  It’s violent video games. It’s mental health. It’s Ritalin. It’s anything anything anything except the easy access to guns.  Sometimes we tend to express regret for the loss of talent as the tally of gun violence victims increases, but we might be missing an important point.  It’s the details that matter.  Perhaps there were or were not individuals who would have gone on to do great and notable things, that’s debatable. However, we do know that there were losses represented by the victim counts.

We may have lost an electrician?  A barber? A receptionist.  Someone who would have gotten up every morning to put in a days work, and come home every evening to be incorporated into the life of their family.

April 22, 2018, 4 people died and 3 others injured in a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee.  We lost a musician, we lost college students, we lost more threads in the fabric of our lives. We found a hero, an unarmed young man who stopped the shooter at great peril to his own life, and then went on to donate donations to his social media account to the families of victims.  We didn’t find a fantasy hero “good guy with a gun,” rather we found a good guy with courage, compassion, and the ultimate in civic responsibility.  We found James Shaw Jr.

April 18, 2018 a mother and her children died in a hail of gun fire from an ex-boyfriend in Asheville, North Carolina. The children loved to run track and to dance. We’ll never know if we lost a future Olympic medalist that day, we do know that we lost a family.  We lost a mother who was so scrupulous about housekeeping friends and family said, “You could eat off her floors.”  A mother who took her children to church every Sunday.  [ATC] We lost a family.

February 14, 2018, we lost 17 lives, with another 17 injured at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They’ve Marched for their Lives. They’ve organized voter registration drives, they’ve appealed to the better angels of our nature.  They’ve warned politicians like Heller and Amodei that NRA endorsements aren’t what they used to be. We’ve lost and shattered too many families.

Every day the death toll mounts from mass and individual shootings, from suicides and accidents, we continue to lose plumbers, secretaries, mechanics, cooks, and soldiers.

February 10, 2018 a family of four was massacred in a murder-suicide in Johnson County, Kentucky. [lex18]  We continue to lose parents and grandparents.

Each time more victims are added to the lists we’ve lost more firefighters, carpenters, solar panel installers, roofers, landscapers, bookkeepers, and bus drivers.

November 5, 2017 27 people died, another 20 were injured in a church in Sunderland Springs, Texas.  Each time we add victims to the list we lose more truck drivers, reporters, day care providers, steelworkers, pilots, housekeepers, and file clerks.

October 1, 2017, a mass killing cost us 58 victims and 441 injured at a music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Each time we add victims to the list we extinguish the lives of more people who matter. We lost a man shielding his wife on their wedding anniversary.  We lost a health care management major, a commercial fisherman, a kindergarten teacher, a police department records technician, a registered nurse, a member of the US Navy, a waitress, a soldier, a teacher, a secretary, a family law attorney, a contractor, an office manager, a financial adviser, a home contractor, a librarian, a make up artist, a corrections officer, … girlfriends, wives, mothers, grandmothers, boyfriends, husbands, fathers, grandfathers…

Our economic fabric is in the details.  We are a composite of the electrician, barber, receptionist, plumbers, secretaries, mechanics, cooks, soldiers, firefighters, carpenters, solar panel installers, roofers, landscapers, bookkeepers, bus drivers,  truck drivers, reporters, day care providers, steelworkers, pilots, housekeepers,  file clerks,  health care management personnel, commercial fisherman,  kindergarten teacher,  police department records technician,  registered nurse,  member of the US Navy,  waitress,  soldier,  teacher,  secretary,  family law attorney,  contractor,  office manager,  financial adviser,  home contractor,  librarian,  make up artist,  corrections officer…

Reduce the numbers of the people who make our economy run, eliminate the waitress at the small diner who brings that first cup of coffee with a smile to start the day, make the auto mechanic who figures out why there’s a persistent problem with the fuel injection system vanish, and we are all reduced as the power in our multiplicity of economic gears is reduced by one.

Our social fabric is in the details, in the relationships between boy friends and girl friends, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, grandchildren, neighbors, friends, and co-workers.  Eliminate any of these relationships in our communities, and we are all reduced by the unraveling of all those tiny threads which combined together form the incredibly complex and beautiful tapestry of our social lives in this nation.

No “endorsement,” no pandering for a few votes, is worth the grains of sand in our economic gears as grain by grain we add problems by reducing our numbers.  No “endorsement,” no pandering for a few votes is worth the unraveling of the tapestry of our lives, the loss of each loved one pulling at loose threads until we fray from the edges.

Politicians Heller and Amodei may take pleasure in their A ratings from the NRA, I am only sorry they cannot take as much pleasure in the defense of the lives of our children, our boyfriends and girl friends, our wives and husbands, our parents and grandparents; in the wonderfully interwoven tapestry of American life.

 

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Filed under Amodei, Gun Issues, Heller, Nevada politics, 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

Trump’s Next Stupid Idea: Arms Adept Teachers

The flow continues. One idiotic idea after another. Flowing freely from the Oval Office, billowing forth from the West Wing. The next evermore moronic than its predecessor.  And now — armed teachers. Yes, we’re back to the old NRA recipe for carnage:  Expand the number of guns in public spaces.  Churches, concerts, schools, streets…

Bring In The Cavalry?

The occupant of the Oval Office appears to believe that the teaching ranks are filled with military veterans, and further that these veterans want to have guns in their classrooms.  First off, there aren’t that many.  In a 2013 USA Today article we find that Teach for America, which prioritized recruiting teachers from the ranks of military veterans had a “cadre of 100” veterans.  The number may now be approximately 320. [Vox]  Thus far it’s been difficult to find statistics tracking the number of military veterans who are currently teaching in our public and private schools.  The US has about 14,000 school districts. [Census]

Secondly, the argument assumes that veterans advocate having firearms in their classrooms.  This premise is also questionable.  Three veterans spoke to this issue in this Esquire article.  None seemed to see the proposal in a positive light, and their insights into situations, training, and human reactions are enlightening. Veterans interviewed by Buzzfeed described the idea as a tactical disaster.  The “tactical disaster” argument is further buttressed by the combat veteran who spoke with Charlotte 5.   There seems to be a vast gap between the advocates of the armaments escalation and the veterans with actual combat experience.  I’m betting the combat veterans can provide more practical guidance on this issue.

Comic Book Characters

The notion that some Hero-Teacher armed with a Glock will leap from the shadows of a chaotic hall way and mow down an intruder firing an AR-15 is straight out of some comic book/Hollywood rendition of fantasy fiction.  As the veterans cited above remark, there is no way to predict with 100% certainty how anyone will react under fire, and this is with 52 week per year training.  At this point our Comic Book Hero has to embody the Hollywood concept that the hero always hits the target, and the villain always misses.

Even the US military doesn’t require that standard.   We should remember that in Phase One of military weapons training the trainee doesn’t even fire the weapon, it’s all understanding the mechanical and operational characteristics of the gun.  It isn’t until Phase Two that the trainee pulls the trigger.  Qualification is another matter:  “In order to qualify, you must hit at least 23 out of 40 pop-up targets at ranges varying from 5 meters to 300 meters (approximately 80 to 327 yards).”  That calculates to a 57.5% accuracy rate.

Speed and accuracy are not a good mix.  The speed of firing reduces the accuracy.  The classic study done by the RAND Corporation in 2008 for the New York City Police Department should be consulted for additional information and for the conclusions it drew which remain valid.

“The NYPD reports hit-rate statistics both for officers involved in a gunfight and for officers who shoot at subjects who do not return fire. Between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate was 18 percent for gunfights. Between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate in situations in which fire was not returned was 30 percent. 

Accuracy improves at close range, with officers hitting their targets 37 percent of the time at distances of seven yards or less; at longer ranges, hit rates fall off sharply, to 23 percent.  [AJC]

Only by assuming the Comic Book Hero with a Hollywood Level of Fictional Accuracy, can a person argue that arming civilians is a viable option for protecting children.

What Should Be The Last Word

From a combat veteran:

My goal here is to bring the reality of the situation to the forefront. Politicians who are blasé about the complexity and rigorous training required for these types of engagements and who underestimate the physical, physiological and psychological toll a combat environment brings to those involved, should be forced to place themselves in these types of simulations.

Ultimately, I’m saddened by the fact that we’ve reached a point where people in this country want teachers to arm themselves as moonlight deputies. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m confident that arming teachers isn’t the answer—now or ever.

Finis

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A Simple Message

I put this on Twitter yesterday, but just for reference I’ll repeat it here in a slightly longer form:

Dear Candidate,

I intend to vote in the 2018 elections.  Please know that if you accept money from the NRA, the Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club, Gun Owners of America, etc. I will vote for your opponent, even if you are running against a Muppet.

Me

 

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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

He Worked Very Hard and We Wish Him Well…

I’d really hoped not to hear this kind of phrasing coming from the White House today, but… He did it, the President of the United State said of domestic abuser Rob Porter, “He worked very hard and we wish him well.”  (MSNBC) No, that really doesn’t indicate that this Oval Office takes violence against women all that seriously.  I truly don’t care if he was the best paper pusher in the entire Milky Way Galaxy.  He’s a serial domestic abuser.  I really don’t care if he was the best filter of paper and proposals in the Universe. He’s a serial domestic abuser.   And, the President* didn’t take the opportunity to even mention violence against women.  What he said about a serial domestic abuser was that (a) he was gone and (b) the White House wished him well.

Domestic violence is a serious issue in Nevada.  The Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence issued a report of 2016 statistics (pdf) on the subject, and it’s discouraging to see that there were a total of 64,457 contacts made to authorities/agencies about domestic and sexual violence during that calendar year.  11,197 were repeated contacts.  There were 24,567 “bednights” or overnight shelter provided to adults, and 1,411 provided to children.  There were 13,589 incidents reported to police, resulting in 6,433 arrests.  There were 5,128 cases in which the police were not contacted. There were 23,777 cases in which it is unknown if law enforcement was contacted.  Additionally, there were 18,164 cases in which the referral for possible action is unknown.

It’s not like domestic abuse and sexual violence are issues we can separate from other criminal acts or address with fast/quick solutions. The problem is cyclical:’

“Abuse tends to occur in cycles. It does not just go away and tends to get worse over time. Domestic violence and intimate partner violence typically, but not always, follows a pattern. There is a period of tension building; there is an episode of violence; and there is a time calm, or a “honeymoon” (Hancock, 2012). Research suggests the more severe the violence, the more chronic it is and the more likely it is to worsen over time (Lipsky et al., 2012).”

There is a direct link between domestic abuse and mass shootings:

“…mass shooters killed a partner or family member in 54% of shootings—which are defined as incidents in which four or more people are killed by guns. Between January 2009 and December 2016, 422 people were killed in domestic violence disputes; more than 40% of these people were children.” [Fortune]

And women are the most likely victims:

 “Over half of all homicides (55.3%) were IPV-related; 11.2% of victims of IPV-related homicide experienced some form of violence in the month preceding their deaths, and argument and jealousy were common precipitating circumstances. Targeted IPV prevention programs for populations at disproportionate risk and enhanced access to intervention services for persons experiencing IPV are needed to reduce homicides among women.”  (IPV = Intimate Partner Violence) [CDC]

Yes, to that last point because the 5th leading cause of death for women between the ages of 18-44 is homicide.  So, we should be taking the issue of domestic and sexual violence seriously because it’s a leading cause of death among women in the prime of their lives, because it’s part of an escalating cycle of violence, one that too often leads to the kinds of mass shooting which shock the senses.  And, no, I do not wish the perpetrators “well.” I wish for police intervention, legal consequences, the collection of comprehensive statistics, the development and implementation of prevention programs, and the closing of the “boyfriend loophole” for the procurement of firearms.

No more — no more excuses, no more attempts at amelioration, no more minimizing the problem, no more … Time’s Up.

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Filed under Politics, Women's Issues

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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#Enough Thoughts and Prayers, rights aren’t necessarily conveniences

Mass Shooting Victims

The photos of the victims of mass killings in this country show the faces of America. White, black, brown, gay, straight, men, and women. From the very young to the elderly.  And they all died too soon at the hands of those who could arm themselves with lethal weapons without any inconvenience.

The 2nd Amendment says we all have the right to keep and bear arms … there is NO mention in the Amendment that purchasing firearms has to be “convenient.”

The gun fetishists among us cry that their “rights are infringed” if they are to be inconvenienced in any way when purchasing or procuring lethal weapons. They cite their imaginary well greased slippery slope to full tilt gun control.

And, lo! cry the fetishists and their allies, any imposition of a burden of responsibility is a denial of our civil liberties.  But, wait a minute. It is inconvenient to register to vote – however, that’s the inconvenience we accept to prevent voter impersonation.  It’s inconvenient to edit and fact check news articles – but that’s the inconvenience we accept as part of the freedom of the press to avoid charges of libel.

It is inconvenient for government officials to get search warrants, but that’s the balance we have to prevent unlawful searches and seizures.  It’s inconvenient for the judicial system that a person may not be compelled to testify against himself – but that’s the inconvenience we accept to make the system work under constitutional principles.

How easy it appears to be to have advocates of the implementation of the Patriot Act speaking of national surveillance, and justifying those National Security Letters, while bemoaning the restrictions on those included on the terrorist watch list who seek to purchase lethal weapons.

If we didn’t infer “convenience” in the 2nd Amendment, then might we have fewer suicides, fewer murders, fewer mass shootings and killings.  Fewer funerals, fewer remembrances, fewer tragedies, and a much safer society?

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Filed under Congress, conservatism, gay issues, Gun Issues, Hate Crimes, Senate, terrorism

#Enough #Enough #Enough

Gun Congress

I am truly tired of writing about gun safety issues.  I am even more tired of the National Rifle Association’s band of manufacturers and back yard bunker people determining the shape, scope, and depth of the discourse on gun safety in Washington, D.C.

The Democratic filibuster yesterday did achieve one thing:

“The Senate will vote on at least three gun control-related measures in the wake of the terrorist attack in Orlando, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.  The Nevada Democrat said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave him assurances overnight that Democrats would get votes on two amendments they are asking for — one that would enhance background checks on gun purchases and one that would “close the terror loophole, preventing terrorists from walking into a gun stores and buying all the firearms.” [MorningConsult]

But there has to be a hitch somewhere? Right? Indeed, the GOP is ready with the NRA approved Cornyn Amendment – but let’s digress a moment.  The Feinstein amendment is pretty clear.

The “loophole legislation,” offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would ban gun sales from a suspected terrorist or someone who has been suspected of terrorism in the past 5 years. It would also provide an avenue for appeal if someone were erroneously denied a gun purchase.” [MorningConsult]

Now, back to the essence of the Cornyn Amendment — “The NRA-approved Cornyn amendment allows for just a 72-hour delay for investigation, and then the gun sale can go through even if the investigation isn’t done.” [DK] (emphasis added)

There’s a reason for underlining that segment of the Cornyn Amendment – Dylann Roof – the young White Supremacist who massacred church members in Charlestown, South Carolina.  Here’s a reminder from the New York Times about the loophole Roof exploited to obtain the weapon he wanted for his assault:

“Mr. Roof first tried to buy the gun on April 11 from a dealer in West Columbia, S.C. The F.B.I., which operates theNational Instant Criminal Background Check System, received a call from the dealer, seeking approval to sell Mr. Roof the weapon. The F.B.I. did not give the dealer the authority to proceed with the purchase because the bureau said it needed to do more investigating of Mr. Roof’s criminal history, which showed he had recently been arrested.

Under federal law, the F.B.I. has three business days to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to deny a purchase. If the bureau cannot come up with an answer, the purchaser can return to the dealer on the fourth day and buy the gun.”

The investigation was delayed by questions regarding whether the young assassin had been convicted of a felony, and during that delay the clock ran out on the 3 day investigation timer.  He got the gun and the rest is unfortunate, tragic, and sorrowful history.

NOW, Senator Cornyn would like to place the same 72 hour limit on a background check for a real or potential terrorist.   In short, sayeth Senator Cornyn and the NRA – if a person can muddle through a three day ‘waiting period’ he or she can legally purchase a high powered firearm with a high capacity magazine – and if the result is an unfortunate, tragic and sorrowful event – well, according to Senator Charles Grassley, we can’t let a bureaucratic  mistake be the reason we pass tougher gun safety laws. [NYT]   And, note, in the Cornyn Amendment there’s that same 72 hour limit after which the gun purchase must be allowed.

Even if the investigation into the person’s background isn’t complete.

#Enough already. #Enough delaying, #Enough loopholes, #Enough pseudo-solutions.  When will we achieve the “Right Number” necessary to ban military weapons from civilian hands, to ban high capacity magazines, to require universal background checks?

12 people in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 weren’t #enough? 13 in Fort Hood, Texas, and Binghamton, New York in 2009 weren’t #enough? 14 in San Bernardino, California weren’t #enough? 27 in Newtown, Connecticut weren’t enough? 32 in Blacksburg, Virginia weren’t enough? and now 49 in Orlando, Florida weren’t #enough?

#Enough Is #Enough

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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

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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Filed under Gun Issues