Archives for category: Guns

After especially awful massacres, the public expects Congress to take meaningful steps to limit access to guns. Sandy Hook. No action. Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida. No action. The Pulse Nightclub. No action. The Las Vegas music festival massacre. No action. Uvalde. No action. The recent massacres in California? What do you think? Why no action? The Republicans block every attempt to enact meaningful restrictions.

CNN posted a summary of where America stands internationally a day before the killing of 11 people in Monterrey Oark, California.

CNN) – Monterey Park. Atlanta. Orlando. Las Vegas. Newtown. Parkland. San Bernardino. Uvalde.

Ubiquitous gun violence in the United States has left few places unscathed over the decades. Still, many Americans hold their right to bear arms, enshrined in the US Constitution, as sacrosanct. But critics of the Second Amendment say that right threatens another: The right to life.

I insert here that my understanding of the Second Amendment is that it pertains not to the right of every individual to “bear arms,” but to the maintenance and arming of a “well-regulated militia.”

For a time in the 1990s, the Supreme Court agreed, and let stand a decade-long ban on assault weapons.

The 2nd Amendment says:

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

The CNN article continues:

There are 120 guns for every 100 Americans, according to the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey (SAS). No other nation has more civilian guns than people.

More guns than people!

Read the article.

The Republican Party seems to be descending into barbarism. In New Hampshire, one of the first acts of the new Republican-led legislature was a vote to allow weapons in its meeting place.

CONCORD – The House of Representatives debated a rule that would limit deadly weapons in the crowded Representatives Hall chamber of 400 legislators at the State House.

House Rule 64 failed 177-197 on Convening Day Wednesday of the 2023 legislative session at the State House.

A Democratic leader and a father of a young potential visitor to the State House called the vote “irresponsible.”

Supporters of the rule argued that inadvertently, or in the heat of a debate, a weapon could discharge causing tragedy, noting that often children are in the gallery who could be hurt.

It was further argued that New Hampshire does not allow weapons to be carried into courtrooms and prisons and should not be allowed in these situations.

State Rep. Matt Wilhelm, D-Manchester, the minority leader, said the rule would “restore common sense.”
But opponents noted that when law enforcement is minutes away, a gun could be a way to keep the chamber safe.

Rep. Terry Roy, R-Deerfield, asked fellow legislators to imagine if they lived in a country where carrying a weapon was not a right.

“No House rule is going to stop a House member from defending themselves,” Roy said.

For decades until 2010, House Rules prohibited the possession of weapons in the House chamber.

Democrats reinstituted the provision in 2013-14 and again in 2019-20, and Republicans have voted to repeal the restriction in all recent terms that they have held the majority.

After the vote, Wilhelm issued the following statement:

“Prohibiting deadly weapons in the House Chamber is a common-sense policy to keep legislators, staff, and the public safe as we conduct the business of the State of New Hampshire.

“When Republicans have permitted guns in the legislature, there have been numerous incidents of dropped and mishandled firearms on House property. As the parent of a fourth grader, whom I hope will visit the State House on a field trip this spring, the public’s safety is particularly top of my mind,” Wilhelm said.

Ten years ago, a deranged young man blasted his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He killed 20 first-grade children and six staff members, including the principal, who tried to stop him at the school’s door.

The nation was stunned. President Obama wept. There was a widespread sense that this heinous act would lead to decisive action by Congress. It didn’t. The gun violence against children continues.

Why? The Republican Party has sworn allegiance to an extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment in which every person has the unfettered right to own and carry guns. and the Supreme Court, now securely in the hands of hard-right conservatives after Trump added three justices, is overturning long-standing limits on gun ownership. There are more guns than people in the U.S., and so far as conservatives are concerned, there is no need to restrict their availability and use (except in the halls of Congress, the Supreme Court, and other special places.)

Among the weapons used at Sandy Hook were a Bushmaster XM15-E2S and a Glock 20SF handgun. The killer first murdered his mother, who bought the guns and took him to firing ranges. When fist responders arrived, he killed himself.

Not long after the massacre of babies at Sandy Hook, the professional liars entered the scene. They said that there was no massacre. Everything we saw on television was staged, they said. The “parents” who were mourning were actually “crisis actors.” Someone sent me a link to a video purporting to show that Sandy Hook never happened; it was a hoax created to promote gun control legislation.

Alex Jones leapt on the story and repeatedly broadcast it to his many followers. Some of them harassed the families who had lost a child or a mother or a sister, even sending them death threats.

Alex Jones has this year been convicted of defamation and ordered to pay fines exceeding $1 billion. He moved his assets and declared bankruptcy.

There have been so many mass murders in the past decade that it’s impossible to remember them all. We remember the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, both because of the numbers and the heroic response of the survivors, who lobbied fiercely for gun control. Uvalde got our attention because of the number of children killed: 19, along with two teachers. And it got our attention because of the sheer incompetence of the law enforcement officers, who arrived on the scene by the hundreds and failed to enter the classrooms where the killer was for over an hour.

Of one thing we can be sure, there will be more mass killings of students. Uvalde will not be last. Schools now practice active shooter drills. Some teachers are armed. School security has been enhanced. Door locks are common.

But when the next killer pulls a gun out of his backpack or blasts through the entry with an assault weapon, children and staff will die. We will mourn them and their teachers as we have before. And then there will be another. And another.

Nothing will change until we enact strong gun control laws that limit access to guns. That won’t happen unless the voters elect people sworn to protect the lives of their children.

Just this past week, there were two mass murders by gun: one at Club Q in Colorado Springs, another at a Walmart in Virginia. There have been more than 600 this year. When will enough be enough? When will our leaders—especially in Congress—stop the carnage? When they are personally affected? Maybe not even then. After all, a mob ransacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and most Republican members of Congress thought it was a group of excited tourists.

But “only” five people died. So the GOP did not mind.

Would they draw the line at carnage? Now, I think that Trump’s grim Inaugural Address, where he spoke of “American carnage,” was a prediction, not a reflection.

When, if ever, will enough be enough?

The Council on Foreign Relations published an important international study of gun ownership and gun deaths. The U.S. is far ahead of its peers in both categories. Thanks to Lloyd Lofthouse for sharing this study.

The study begins:

The debate over gun control in the United States has waxed and waned over the years, stirred by frequent mass shootings in civilian settings. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children and young adults in the United States. In particular, the ready availability of assault weapons and ammunition has provoked national discussion after multiple mass shootings of school children, most recently in Uvalde, Texas. However, Congress has repeatedly been unable to pass meaningful gun legislation in the wake of these tragedies despite broad public support for new restrictions.

Recent years have seen some of the worst gun violence in U.S. history. In 2021, guns killed more than forty-five thousand Americans, the highest toll in decades; and the upward trend is on track to continue.

Many gun control advocates say the United States should look to the experiences of wealthy democratic peers that have instituted tighter restrictions to curb gun violence.

What’s the chance of Congress enacting gun control?

Republicans are adamantly opposed to any limits on access to guns.

Republican governors enact laws to allow anyone to carry a weapon, whether concealed or in open view. Texas passed a law eliminating the need to have a permit to buy a gun.

Two relatives of mine in Texas used a gun to commit suicide. Neither should have had access to a gun.

It seemed that the maniacal slaughter of students and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, did not dampen voters’ enthusiasm for Republican Governor Greg Abbot, who does not believe in gun control. Abbot has pushed through legislation to allow people to carry guns without a permit, whether open or concealed.

I swear I do not understand why voters vote against their best interests.

The Texas Tribune reported:

“The fight goes on”: For several families of the victims killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, the election this year wasn’t like other elections. It was personal.

In May, an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers with a semi-automatic rifle he bought days earlier. The tragedy caused some families to become politically active. They threw their support behind Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, hoping that he would be the catalyst to change gun laws in the state.

But O’Rourke lost badly on Tuesday. And Uvalde County decisively voted for Gov. Greg Abbott.

John Lira, the Democratic candidate who challenged U.S. Rep. Tony Gonazles for the seat that represents Uvalde, joined families at a watch party Tuesday night. He said that while Abbott’s victory was “crushing,” he was proud of the families for becoming politically engaged after experiencing a tragedy.

“It just means the fight goes on,” said Lira, who also lost on Tuesday.

As the night went on, many families said their effort to force change in Texas isn’t close to being done. Jerry Mata, whose daughter Tess was killed in the massacre, consoled his oldest daughter, Faith, after the election results were announced.

“Five years from now, the media may leave, everybody may leave, but we’re not going to leave. We’re going to continue the fight and get what we deserve for our kids.”

If you visit Texas, be sure to bring or buy a gun for self-protection.

On October 24, a 19-year-old entered the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis with an AR-15 style weapon and 600 rounds of ammunition. He killed a 15-year-old girl and a 61-year-old teacher. Many students were injured. The police arrived within minutes and killed the shooter, Orlando Harris. Orlando had graduated from the school last year.

ABC News in St. Louis reported:

Harris, who had no criminal history, left a handwritten document in his car speaking about his desire to “conduct this school shooting,” St. Louis Police Commissioner Michael Sack said at a news conference Tuesday.

Sack said Harris wrote: “I don’t have any friends, I don’t have any family, I’ve never had a girlfriend, I’ve never had a social life.” Sack said Harris called himself an “isolated loner,” which was [the police chief said] a “perfect storm for a mass shooter.”

Josie Johnston knew Orlando Harris when he was in middle school. He wasn’t always a monster, she writes. He was a sweet kid. She wonders if there was anything she could have done to save him. She wonders why it was so easy for such a troubled young man to buy a deadly weapon.

How can the Republican Party claim to be opposed to crime when they are making it easy for troubled people of all ages to buy weapons of death?

Josie Johnston writes:

After Monday’s tragic events, I know it’s hard for some people to imagine, but when I met Orlando on his very first day of sixth grade, he was a super sweet boy who wanted to please people. What factors led to his transformation?

He was a great drummer. He loved the drumline, and his face lit up when he played. Yes, he was quiet, but he was also shy. He didn’t have many friends, but he had a couple of good friends in middle school. I do know that as he got older he was bullied and that continued into his high school career.

I am not saying that is what made him act out, but I know it was a factor. I am sure there is so much more that we will never fully understand that contributed to Orlando feeling like he had no other option than to do what he did. According to the police reports, he tried to commit suicide multiple times. He must have been hurting so badly and he clearly felt as if he had no one.

In a few short years, I went from teaching middle school to high school. There was the coronavirus, virtual teaching, and then moving from one building to another. When Collegiate School of Medicine & Bioscience moved into the same building as Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, I had the pleasure of seeing many of my former middle school students at different events shared by both schools. These were always happy meetings, and I was always on the lookout for more of my former middle school babies. I never imagined the scenario of events that happened on Oct. 24 would occur.

Even though I am a logical person, when I replay that morning in my mind, I keep thinking: What if, when Orlando was my student, I had said just one more kind word to him? What if I had asked him how he was doing one more time? What if I had checked on him more in seventh and eighth grade? What if I had found out he was down the hall from me attending CVPA and made a point to go talk to him? What if, what if, what if?

Could all of this have been avoided if someone like me had just done one nicer thing or reached out one more time? I won’t ever get the answer to those questions because the only person who could tell me is gone.

My heart is breaking for Orlando’s mom. I only met her once at parent-teacher conferences, and I am sure she doesn’t remember me, but I remember she wanted the very best for her son. From the reports, it sounds like she did everything she could think of to help Orlando and, unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to save him.

She tried to do the right thing by asking the police to take his gun away. But because of Missouri’s current laws, police felt they couldn’t. That gun would be used a few short weeks later to change my life and the life of my students forever.

I do not blame Orlando. I do not blame his mom. I do not blame the police. I blame those making the laws that think it okay for a 19-year-old to own an AR-15-style rifle and a trove of 30-clip magazines. Please come tell my students, who had to see the lifeless body of an innocent teenage girl lying on the ground covered in blood as they fled the school building fearing for their lives, why anyone should own a weapon that can only be used to kill people.

And before anyone says I don’t know anything about guns, I grew up hunting. I grew up on a farm. I grew up respecting guns. They were a daily part of my life. But I never needed an AR-15 to kill a deer, a duck, a goose or a turkey. I do believe in a person’s right to own a gun, but if you aren’t a police officer or in the military, you have no reason to own an assault rifle at age 19.

Missouri needs a red-flag law, otherwise known as an “extreme-risk protection order” law. It prevents individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing any kind of firearm. It would provide safeguards and procedures to ensure that no firearm is removed without due process while helping to prevent tragedies like the school shooting that happened here in St. Louis.

Fixing gun laws won’t solve everything. It wouldn’t give back the lives of those lost on Oct. 24. It wouldn’t take away the trauma my colleagues, my students or I will have to live with for the rest of our lives. But it might prevent anyone else from experiencing these same events. It might prevent another teenager or teacher from dying. And that alone is worth changing the laws.

Do you think the Missouri legislature will change the law? Do you think they will act to prevent future shootings?

The Republicans have made a big campaign issue of crime. They claim that Democrats are “soft on crime,” while they are “tough on crime.”

Don’t believe it. It’s a bald-faced lie!

Republicans oppose any legislation to limit access to guns. They vote against “red flag” laws, that seek to keep guns away from people who pose a danger to others. They oppose background checks. They oppose raising the minimum age for buying a gun from 18 to 21. They oppose laws that are commonplace in civilized nations.

The United States has the highest murder rate in the world. Could it be because we have so many guns and so few limits on guns?

Texas, for example, now allows anyone to carry a gun without a permit. Let that sink in: anyone can carry a gun without a permit.

Consider this recent story:

Texas Goes Permitless on Guns, and Police Face an Armed Public

A new law allowing people to carry handguns without a license has led to more spontaneous shootings, many in law enforcement say.

HOUSTON — Tony Earls hung his head before a row of television cameras, staring down, his life upended. Days before, Mr. Earls had pulled out his handgun and opened fire, hoping to strike a man who had just robbed him and his wife at an A.T.M. in Houston.

Instead, he struck Arlene Alvarez, a 9-year-old girl seated in a passing pickup, killing her.

“Is Mr. Earls licensed to carry?” a reporter asked during the February news conference, in which his lawyer spoke for him.

He didn’t need one, the lawyer replied. “Everything about that situation, we believe and contend, was justified under Texas law.” A grand jury later agreed, declining to indict Mr. Earls for any crime.

The shooting was part of what many sheriffs, police leaders and district attorneys in urban areas of Texas say has been an increase in people carrying weapons and in spur-of-the-moment gunfire in the year since the state began allowing most adults 21 or over to carry a handgun without a license.

Far from an outlier, Texas, with its new law, joined what has been an expanding effort to remove nearly all restrictions on carrying handguns. When Alabama’s “permitless carry” law goes into effect in January, half of the states in the nation, from Maine to Arizona, will not require a license to carry a handgun.

The state-by-state legislative push has coincided with a federal judiciary that has increasingly ruled in favor of carrying guns and against state efforts to regulate them.

But Texas is the most populous state to do away with handgun permit requirements. Five of the nation’s 15 biggest cities are in Texas, making the permitless approach to handguns a new fact of life in urban areas to an extent not seen in other states.

In the border town of Eagle Pass, drunken arguments have flared into shootings. In El Paso, revelers who legally bring their guns to parties have opened fire to stop fights. In and around Houston, prosecutors have received a growing stream of cases involving guns brandished or fired over parking spots, bad driving, loud music and love triangles.

“Tough on crime?” Hardly.

Pastors for Children has never made a political endorsement before. But the stakes are so high for children, families, communities, and public schools that they could not sit on the sidelines. The Lt. Governor is a very important political position in Texas. The Pastors for Children is endorsing Mike Collier. Pastors for Children is the 501c4 arm of Pastors for Texas Children.

Collier’s opponent Dan Patrick is the current Lt. Governor. He is a strong supporter of vouchers. He was a rightwing talk show host before he ran for office.

Pastors For Children Endorses Mike Collier For Texas Lieutenant Governor

Current Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has defunded public education and allowed Texas homeowners’ property taxes to skyrocket.

Fort Worth, TX – Pastors for Children, an independent 501(C)4 organization, announced today their endorsement of Mike Collier in the race for Texas Lieutenant Governor. Along with their endorsement, they have launched a 30-second television spot focused on Tarrant County.

“Mike Collier has a proven track record as a successful Certified Public Accountant, businessman, and consultant in the Oil and Gas industry,” said Pastor Charles Foster Johnson, Executive Director of Pastors For Children. “We believe the combination of these analytical and professional skills, intelligence, and high moral character make Mike Collier the far superior choice for Lieutenant Governor.”

Mike Collier has the endorsements of well-respected members of both parties, including Republicans Sen. Kel Seliger, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, State Rep. Lyle Larson, former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, former State Rep. Byron Cook, former State Rep. Bennett Ratliff, and former Dallas Mayor and US Congressman Steve Bartlett. He also has the endorsement of Pastors For Children’s close allies in education, the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the Friends of Texas Public Schools, the Texas State Teachers Association, and the Texas AFT.

“The bipartisan support for Collier is evidence of his appeal as a candidate to folks in urban and rural counties, who want to see the polarization of the Texas Legislature stop and return to getting things done for the people of Texas,” said Pastor Johnson. “Mike Collier is the best candidate to make that happen. It is time for the voters of Texas – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, to send Dan Patrick into retirement.”

Mike Collier will focus on keeping our Texas school-children safe, providing adequate funding for our public schools, and returning good policy and competence to the office of Lt. Governor. For these reasons, Pastors for Children is proud to endorse Mike Collier for Lt. Governor.

Pastors for Children is a nationwide network of faith leaders and community partners dedicated to school service and fair and equitable public school funding

Texas is distributing DNA kits to students, which will be used to identify them in case of a mass shooting in their school.

At the same time, Governor Greg Abbot is determined to remove all gun controls so that anyone can buy and carry an assault weapon or handgun.

Rex Huppke writes in USA Today:

Hey, Texas! Instead of scary school DNA kits for ‘safety,’ how about some gun safety laws?

Since the horrific Uvalde school shooting in May, Texas officials have done everything they can to protect the state’s guns and comfort the people who own them while doing little to help fearful parents.

In that vein, Texas schools are handing out “safety” kits that encourage parents to collect their children’s DNA and fingerprints in case of an “emergency.” These kits are labeled, without a hint of irony, “A gift of safety, from our family to yours,” right under a giant seal of the state of Texas….

Remind me: Loyal to families or guns?

It would be entirely reasonable for Texas parents – or anyone who sees a link between school shootings and easy access to high-powered firearms – to stand in the Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas and scream to the creosote bushes: “Could we please do something about guns instead of planning for how to identify our kid’s bodies, you sellouts?!?”

But we all know how that’ll go. You might scare a couple passing javelinas, but extracting Texas politicians’ heads from the tuchuses of BIG GUN is like trying to teach common sense to a dude who keeps 37 handguns and five AR-15s in his home for “protection…”

Heck, why don’t we just start issuing dog tags to school kids? If our response to school shootings is to treat children the way we treat soldiers, maybe the DNA kit should come with a weapon and a flak jacket.

Would it be easier to enact reasonable gun laws that require universal background checks, ban the sale of assault weapons, limit magazine capacities and raise the minimum age for gun ownership to 21? Sure, but that might ruffle the feathers of those who think everyone needs to live in a house made of guns and then own more guns to protect themselves from everyone else’s gun-houses and all the other guns. Or something like that. I can’t quite follow the logic, if I’m being honest, but I’m sure if I buy a couple dozen guns it’ll make sense.

America’s love of guns is “absolutely nuts.”

The next time you hear a Republican claim he or she is “pro-life,” ask them why they oppose gun control?

After the murder of a recreation worker at a city center, Mayor Jim Kenney issued an executive order banning guns at playgrounds and recreation centers. A local judge overturned Mayor Kennedy’s order, because it violates state law.

This is madness. People will die. Are guns in schools okay too?

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge on Monday blocked the city from enforcing an executive order Mayor Jim Kenney signed last week banning guns at recreation centers and playgrounds following the fatal shooting of a Parks and Recreation employee last month.

The Gun Owners of America, on behalf of several state residents, filed a lawsuit last Tuesday, the day Kenney signed his order. After hearing arguments Friday, Judge Joshua H. Roberts issued his ruling siding with the plaintiffs and ordering Philadelphia to be “permanently enjoined” from enforcing Kenney’s ban.

The lawsuit cited Pennsylvania state law that prohibits any city or county from passing gun-control measures. The preemption law, which the city has repeatedly sought to overturn, bans local government from passing gun-control measures that are stricter than state gun laws.

Andrew B. Austin, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in an emailed statement: “For my part, I am gratified that the Court of Common Pleas was able to so quickly resolve this suit, but that was in large part because the law is so explicit: The City is not allowed to regulate possession of firearms in any manner.”