The GOP Response To San Bernardino: Nearer My God To Thee.

Want to know what the pro-gun crowd thinks about gun violence?  Or I should say, what the pro-gun crowd wants everyone else to think about gun violence?  All you gotta do is wait for a mass shooting to occur, then check the Twitter accounts of the so-called GOP Presidential candidates. I say ‘so-called’ because the idea that any of this bunch has demonstrated even a sliver of leadership, never mind the slightest attention to facts, makes me wonder how we could remotely imagine one of these clowns sitting in Oval Office after January 20, 2017. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

san bernardinoI knew we were in for a know-nothing treatment of gun violence when, in putting together a game plan for 2016, the GOP decided that the 2nd Amendment would be the ‘values’ niche issue this time around. They used to have abortion and then gay marriage to gin up the base, but when Donald Trump started boasting about defending himself by carrying a gun, I knew the NRA’s wildest dream about defining the social agenda for America was finally coming true.

Then we had the shooting of two television journalists in Virginia, and while killing only 2 people is hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as dispatching ten victims in Oregon, nine in Charleston, never mind fourteen in San Bernardino, what was impressive in a bizarre way about the Virginia shooting was that the entire thing was caught on tape.  And the very next day, there was Trump telling us that the problem had nothing to do with guns, it was caused by the lack of mental hospital space which was needed to lock all the crazies away.

Once Trump defined the issue in accordance with the standard NRA lexicon that it’s not guns that kill people, etc., everyone else fell into line.  The next opportunity for the GOP pretenders came a month later in Oregon when the killing of ten faculty and students at Umpqua Community College unleashed a torrent of pro-gun commentary from the GOP Presidential field.  Once again Trump knew the nuts were “coming out of the woodwork;” Ben Carson called for better detection of “early warning signs,” and in case there was any doubt about why the shooting occurred, we had self-appointed gun fantasists like John Lott telling us that we couldn’t expect anything else to happen in a gun-free zone.

This time around, however, the Republicans might have overshot their mark. Because when Hillary spoke out about the Umpqua massacre, she made a point of tying it to enacting “sensible gun-control measures,” and promised to lead the effort after she took over the Oval office in 2017.  This was the first time that the Democrats made gun ownership a campaign issue, and it caught the GOP entirely off guard.  Let’s remember it was Hillary’s husband who decided that Democrats lost the White House in 2000 due to the power of the NRA. So I knew that, going forward, the GOP would have to come up with a revised game plan to avoid having to appear condoning gun violence while still keeping the gun-nut vote on their side.

And to the credit of their campaign PR teams, it seems to me that the Republican Presidential wannabes have indeed come up with an approach to gun violence which gets them all off the hook; namely, that gun violence is an act of God, so what can mere mortals do?  Here’s a selection of Twitter feeds from last night: Trump – “Good luck to law enforcement and God bless.” Cruz – “Our prayers are with the victims.” Bush – “Praying for the victims.” Paul – “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”

Any mention of guns?  Here’s Hillary: “We must take action to stop gun violence now.”  And what Hillary knows is what the pro-gun gang and its new crop of Presidential pretenders don’t want to imagine; that maybe most Americans are sick of the shootings, sick of guns, and fed up with the NRA.

 

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Time To End Gun Violence Whatever It Takes.

Last week the NRA unleashed its attack dog John Lott to explain to the American people why more gun laws don’t do anything to curb gun violence.  And what was his proof?  The fact that Dylann Roof killed all those folks in a Charleston, SC church with a legally-purchased Glock.  And since background checks can’t predict whether someone who passes a check will then go on a rampage, and since everyone knows that criminals don’t obey laws, what’s the point of burdening all those law-abiding gun owners with more laws and regulations that keep them from enjoying their guns?

I’ll tell you the point.  Laws work.  And the reason they work is that every, single gun that gets into civilian hands first got there because of a legal, regulated sale.  And if every transfer of a gun thereafter had to go through some kind of regulated exchange, don’t ask me how, don’t ask me why, but fewer guns would get into the ‘wrong hands.’ And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the cogent and well-articulated piece in The Trace by Evan DeFilipis and Devin Hughes which explains, how gun laws reduce gun crimes.

 

 Andy & Allison Parker

Andy & Allison Parker

Asking our lawmakers for proper and effective responses to gun violence will be the centerpiece of a national, community-based effort led by Everytown on July 10.  They have created a series of public events in communities around the country with the most appropriate theme – Whatever It Takes.  Some of the events will be fashioned around the general issue of gun violence; others will be remembrances of specific events; others will focus on convincing public officials that work remains to be done.

In Asheville, NC, there will be a meeting to remember the horrendous Virginia Tech massacre that killed 32 people in 2007, including a student named Julia Pryde, whose father will speak at the event.  Raleigh, NC will be the site of a gathering to honor Kim Yaman, a survivor of the 1991 University of Iowa shooting , and at Hilton Head, SC, a group will remember 17-year old Dominique Xavier Milton-Williams, who was killed at Coligny Beach on July 19. A contingent will be in DC, of course, to present the case on Capitol Hill, and a group will visit the Nashua, NH office of Senator Kelly Ayotte who voted against expanding background checks after Sandy Hook but then pretended she voted for background checks when, in fact, she voted for a Republican-backed substitute bill that didn’t expand NICS checks at all.

September 11 will mark the 14th anniversary of the Twin Towers attacks, a day which, between the Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, America lost 2,996 souls.  A moment none will ever forget. Know how many Americans have been killed by gunfire in the last fourteen years?  Try 470,000 and I’m undercounting by more than a bit. Know how many combat deaths we suffered in both World Wars, Korea and Viet Nam?  About 50,000 less.

So there’s every good reason to mark these gun deaths tomorrow or any other day. In fact, perhaps Everytown should get some like-minded Senator or Congressman to introduce a bill that would officially mark Gun Violence Day every single year. And if the NRA, the gun industry and simple fools like John Lott want to tell you that none of these killings would have occurred if everyone was walking around with a gun, they can all lay brick.  It’s time for honest people who put human life above childish self-defense fantasies, come together and do whatever it takes to get the job done.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should say Everytown didn’t coin the phrase ‘whatever it takes.’  It was actually first said by the father of slain TV journalist Allison Parker, who now knows first-hand the pain which comes from losing a loved one to this terrible state of affairs.  Let’s help him and everyone else who somehow go on living even though their lives have been shattered by a gun.  Time to get it done.

Just Because People Are Upset About Charleston, It Doesn’t Mean That They’ll Give Up Their Guns.

It’s now 5 days since the Charleston shooting at Emanuel AME, and the NRA still hasn’t uttered a single, public peep.  It’s  a tough one for them, in some ways tougher than Sandy Hook, because the debate about how and why Dylann Roof drove down to Charleston from Columbia has now morphed into a discussion about racism and hate, with the issue of public displays of the Confederate flag not far behind.  Which means that America’s “oldest civil rights movement,” as the NRA likes to call itself, has an interesting balancing-act to figure out.  The bottom line is that the NRA isn’t going to say something that might make it difficult for any of the Republican presidential hopefuls to experience any difficulties appealing to the pro-gun vote.  At the same time, the not-surprising calls for more concealed-carry from John Lott and other armed-citizen fantasists have not grabbed much media space from what has been an overwhelming outpouring of concern in response to this tragic event.

The problem, of course, is that the moment an event like the Charleston shooting occurs and gun-control activists start beating the drums for more laws that will keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands,’ gun owners begin to feel that they are being attacked.  Why should the average, law-abiding citizen who happens to like or own guns have to jump through yet more legal hoops just because some crazy kid with a white-supremacist fixation got his hands on a Glock 21? And it turns out that he bought the gun legally, even passed a background check, which only goes to show that passing more gun-control laws won’t prevent the next crazy person from shooting up a church, right?

             Glock 21

Glock 21

Sometimes I think that the whole pro-gun, anti-gun argument is misplaced, particularly when an emotion-driven event like the shooting in Charleston takes place.  Unfortunately, the only time we do think about the place of guns in American society is when someone uses a gun in a terribly-destructive way.  But for many people who own guns, events like the Charleston shooting have nothing to do with them.  In fact, such events, as terrible as they are, only serve to provoke more interest in buying and using guns, not the other way around.

The day after the shooting, the Charleston Post & Courier newspaper ran a headline which read: “Church attack kills 9.”  The Courier happens to be the oldest daily newspaper in the South, and this year won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of domestic violence, so we’re not here talking about a weekly shopper or some other kind of journalistic rag.  But the same day that the paper’s headline was all about the church attack, the headline was actually somewhat obscured by a stick ‘em ad announcing a thirty- dollar “Ladies Night” at a local gun shop and range, the cost covering gun rental, a free t-shirt, 50 rounds of ammo and let’s not forget the requisite safety gear to protect eyes and ears.

When someone finally caught up with the Courier’s editor, he issued the usual half-assed disclaimer about how the paper “regretted” the coincidence and blah, blah, blah.  But it turns out that another newspaper, the Florida Times Union, ran exactly the same kind of ad on the front page along with a headline about the previous day’s shooting on a Jacksonville school bus which left two kids only wounded, at least nobody was dead.  Of course the Times Union immediately issued a statement about the “incredibly regrettable coincidence.”  They issued a statement.

The day after Gabby Giffords was shot in a Tucson mall parking lot, sales of Glock 19 pistols, the gun used by her assailant Jared Loughner, went sky high.  Over the next week or so, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Glock 21 sales go the same way. It’s Marketing 101 to take advantage of what’s uppermost in the public’s mind, and I’m not being cynical or sarcastic by making the connection between advertising that promotes gun sales and headlines that proclaim yet another horrific shooting event.

Hot Off The Ticker: The AME Church Is To Blame For The Shooting Because It’s A Gun-FreeZone

I really don’t want to write this piece, not just because it’s about the unspeakable tragedy that took place yesterday at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, but because I knew that by today, the usual pro-gun sycophants would be lecturing us all on the dangers of gun-free zones.  Actually, they couldn’t even wait until today, although by this morning, the gun ‘experts’ on Fox & Friends were already advising their audience that if someone in the church had been carrying a gun, “they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take him out.”

But one of the real experts on gun-free zones didn’t even wait until the shooter was captured to tell us not only why the shooter, Dylann Roof, chose the historic Black church to practice target-shooting with live targets, but also why the now-dead parishioners were really to blame for their self-massacre because they weren’t all sitting there armed.  I am referring, of course, to Maestro John Lott, who regularly orchestrates a chorus about the dangers of gun-free zones whenever a particularly nasty shooting takes place.

pat                Lott announced the shooting on his website with a headline which read: “Another Shooting in a Gun-free Zone.”  He then went on to insist that virtually every mass public shooting since 1950 has taken place in a gun-free zone, and then finished up by letting it be known that the Charleston church was a strong supporter of gun control and regularly opposed concealed-carry and stand your ground laws.

Remember the loony statement by Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell who blamed the World Trade Center attack on America’s moral decay?  Now I’m not saying that Lott has become that crazy, but that he couldn’t even wait 24 hours after the unspeakable event to begin peddling a shabby version of ‘they got what they probably deserved,’ speaks volumes about the motives and agenda of this self-proclaimed academic researcher on guns. And for that matter, it also says something about the way in which pro-gun mouthpieces like Lott and others respond every time that a shooting takes place which provokes horror and dread.

Because the simple fact of the matter is that mass shootings aren’t supposed to happen in churches or schools.  These places are sanctuaries in every sense of the word, and when we send our children off to school or we ourselves go off to a house of prayer, there’s simply no good reason on God’s Earth why we should stop and consider, even for a second, about whether there’s any chance at all that we or our children will face the horrific trauma of a gun barrel being pushed into our face.

John Lott

John Lott

But of course John Lott knows that we wouldn’t have to give it a moment’s thought because he also knows something that nobody else knows, namely, that shooters who go into gun-free schools or churches or movie theaters do so because they know that nobody is carrying a gun. After the 2012 shooting at the Aurora, CO theater which left 12 dead and 70 wounded , Lott stated that the reason James Holmes chose the Cinemark theater, even though it was neither the closest theater to his apartment, nor did it have the largest audience, was because it was the “only one where guns were banned.”  The trial of Holmes is actually going on right now, but from the time of the shooting until today, Holmes has never once said to anyone that he chose the Cinemark theater because nobody in the audience would be carrying a gun.

If the parishioners at Emanuel AME had just talked to John Lott, they would have realized the error of their ways and would have been carrying guns.  And of course Dylaan Roof would have attacked another church. And of course he’s already told John Lott that he walked into Emanuel AME because he knew it was a gun-free zone.