A New NRA Program On Domestic Abuse Actually Increases The Chances Of Being Abused.

In their endless and uncompromising quest to make sure that all Americans understand the risks of gun ownership (read: there are no risks,) the NRA has just announced a partnership with the gun blog Bearing Arms, to help celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month which takes place every October and even rates a Presidential Proclamation issued by the guy who has finally been granted American citizenship by Donald Trump.

domestic            THE NRA has been tirelessly promoting gun sales to women ever since they discovered that most of the guns that were scooped up since the Kenyan entered the White House were bought by the same old, white men.  And the problem with the white-man market is that as a percentage of people living in the United States, it’s not getting any larger, which means that at a certain point gun sales will begin to lag. In fact, the most recent survey on how many Americans actually own guns revealed that less than one-quarter of U.S. adults are gun owners, which means that Gun-nut Nation’s ‘chicken in every pot’ dream of a gun in every home just isn’t coming true.

Of course the new collaboration between the NRA and Bearing Arms isn’t what people think about when the issue of domestic violence is raised.  For most of us, advocating against domestic violence means making treatment options for abused persons more available, streamlining the process for seeking legal protection against abuse, and toughening sanctions against abusers who are charged and convicted of engaging in a domestic assault.

Last year and the year before that and the year before that, women constituted 20% of all homicide victims of whom roughly half were murdered with guns. Most killings where a gun was used grow out of domestic disputes, and many result in the injuring or killing of other family members as well.  Some states make it relatively easy to disarm people involved in domestics, other states make it more difficult, and still other states have disarming laws and procedures that are so complex and so vague that usually nothing is done at all.

But if there is one consistent area when it comes to domestic abuse and guns, it has been the NRA’s opposition to disarming people involved in such affairs.  On occasion, the NRA has quietly supported legislation that disarms persons accused or convicted of domestic abuse, but generally speaking, until a guy is actually convicted of beating up his wife or girlfriend, and even in some instances after being convicted, he can still hold onto his guns or petition the Court to get them returned.  In some states, the same Judge who issues an Order of Protection has no legal basis for issuing an order that would remove guns from the possession of the person who was told to stay away from his wife.  Which means that if the guy decides to violate the Order, he can show up on her doorstep with a gun.

The NRA and Bearing Arms calls this an effort to strengthen one’s ‘personal protection plan,’ and it involves getting shooting ranges to offer training discounts to individuals who are holding an ‘active’ order of protection, which means, of course, that abuse victims also have to own a gun.  The new NRA-Bearing Arms program is a cynical attempt to pretend that the best response to domestic violence is for an abused spouse or girlfriend to respond with violence as well.

 I am not arguing that anyone facing the threat of physical abuse should necessarily rule out any effective response, even if that response increases risk.  But if a victim of domestic abuse decides to arm themselves, they should be aware that there is no credible study which shows that access to a gun is either effective or safe; to the contrary, the odds they will hurt themselves or some other unintended person is a more probable outcome if they have access to a gun. And that’s not something that Gun-nut Nation will ever understand.

 

To reach an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline call: 1-800-799-SAFE

Website for information and to access chat services: www.thehotline.org and www.loveisrespect.org (the latter is for youth)

Youth can text Loveisrespect services by texting “love is” to 22522

 

Advertisements

Was Colorado Springs The Work Of A Terrorist? According To West Point It Was.

There is simply no getting away from the fact that the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs may mark a turning-point in the debate about gun violence.  And I don’t mean a positive turning-point either.  Because like it or not, the assault by Robert Lewis Dear was a classic example of domestic terrorism, in particular the type of terrorism directed at human targets that has been significantly increasing since a certain you-know-who started living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2008.

murrah              If anyone wants to place the Colorado Springs episode in its proper context, I suggest you read a very detailed study and report on American terrorism that came out of the West Point Combating Terrorism Center in 2012. This report covers nearly 4,000 terrorist attacks on American soil between 1900 and 2012, of which more than 1,600 occurred after 2008.  The report only deals with Far Right terrorism, but that’s because Far left terrorism, which was endemic during the Viet Nam War, particularly after Nixon was elected, fell off and then basically disappeared following the Paris peace accords in 1973.  Far Right terrorism, on the other hand, has a long pedigree beginning with the Ku Klux Klan prior and particularly during Reconstruction, gaining strength again during the Civil Rights era and once again emerging in the recent Obama years.

The authors of this report break terror activities into three basic but related strains: racist terrorism, anti-federalist terrorism, and fundamentalist terrorism, the last often associated with racist ideologies and behaviors, but also aimed at attacking abortion providers and eliminating abortion rights.  The most notorious abortion attacker was the survivalist Eric Rudolph, who bombed two abortion clinics before his deadly assault at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. The other fatal abortion attack took place in Wichita, KS, when a physician who was not a PP provider but ran his own abortion clinic, was shot dead in his church.

A majority of American terrorist acts are not, as it turns out, directed at human targets but at property, which ranges from graffiti on the side of a synagogue to burning down a Black church, although it’s not really clear whether some of those Black churches burned during the Clinton Administration were actually White churches, rather than Black. But even though attacks against property still comes out ahead of attacks against persons in all terrorist activity, there has been an alarming increase in terrorism aimed at individuals since the beginning of the Obama years, with 700 human targeted events between 2008 and 2011, as opposed to 425 human attacks during the administration of George Bush.  The good news, if you can call it good news, is that attacks against mass populations, such as Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 are the rare exceptions, with mass attacks accounting for less than 3% of all terror incidents since 1991.

On the other hand, the report notes that “contentious and conservative political environments as well as the political empowerment are positively associated with the volume of violence; thus, it is not only feelings of deprivation that motivate those involved in far right violence, but also the sense of empowerment that emerges when the political system is perceived to be increasingly permissive to far right ideas.”  And let’s be honest folks.  This report wasn’t written by a bunch of lefty do-gooders sitting at Harvard or Yale.  It came out of West Point which, the last time I looked, promotes a pretty traditional view of things; i.e., left, center or right.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not accusing anyone of fomenting attacks on anyone else.  But the bottom line is that Robert Lewis Dear fits the profile of the American terrorist perfectly: a white male, loner, head filled with fundamentalist ideas and, it goes without saying, access to a gun.  Now if fundamentalism and gun ownership isn’t the sine qua non of Red political rhetoric these days, want to tell me what is?

 

 

Chronic Violence Can Be Reduced If We Understand That It’s Chronic

If you are interested in gun violence, then sooner or later you have to pay some attention to the issue of violence in general, if only because you really can’t have one without the other.  In that respect, it’s worthwhile to read a new article on violence that is based on a two-year study of ER-admitted patients between the ages of 14 and 24 in Flint, Michigan – that’s right – the same Flint made famous by Michael Moore in his Roger and Me 1989 documentary that made both the filmmaker and the city famous.  When Moore made his film the city was in the throes of a virtual collapse given the closing of its GM plant and the collapse of related industries; now the city’s poverty rate is 40% so you can’t say that things have improved very much, right?

On the other hand, what comes out in this study is that poverty and related social ills does not, in and of itself, necessarily account for recurring, violent injuries in the group selected for this study.  In fact, what seems to be the overwhelming factor in promoting recurring violence is the outbreak of violence in the first place.  And this finding is demonstrated brilliantly in this study because the researchers had the good sense to not only look closely at 349 subjects who sought ED medical care for violent injury over a two-year period, but to compare this population to 250 persons in the same age cohort who came in initially for non-violent injury during the same two-year period.

violence                Guess what?  Both groups had a fairly similar public assistance profile (78% and 70%), a very similar racial profile (African-Americans were 63% and 56% respectively),the exact same marijuana use (nearly 100% in both groups) and virtually identical criminal records (13%-12%.)  In other words, being underprivileged, prone to using drugs and having contact with criminal justice doesn’t necessarily lead to violent behavior, at least not of the type that results in continuous visits to an ER for serious injuries, up to and including death.

I should mention one brief corrective, namely, the authors’ comments about the cost of such behavior.  They quote a study published by the Urban Institute in 2013 which found that firearm injuries alone cost $630 million, most of which has to absorbed by the publicly-funded medical system.  On the other hand, Jarone Lee and others recently published an article in Surgery which might place those costs much higher, although they defined the problem in a somewhat different context than what was used by the authors who wrote for the urban Institute.  But this is a minor squabble and shouldn’t take away from the remarkable study on recurrent injury that needs to be read and circulated for the following reason.

What the researchers on recurrent violence found was not only that multiple ER visits for violent injury was segmented between the two groups whereas both groups shared demographic and social conditions in common, but the most frequent rate of recurrence was in the first six months following discharge from the initial visit for violent injury.  This clearly indicates that recurring violence is, as the research team says, a chronic disease and should be treated as such.  But, in contrast to other chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes, there is no management plan for recurring violence that could be used to cut ED costs, never mind reduce the social impact of the disease on its victims.

If a consensus ever emerged on how to deal with tis chronic illness called recurring violence, it would have to include a sub-plan for dealing with guns.  The FBI tells us that more than 80% of all homicides involve people who knew each other before the murder took place.  Take a chronic perpetrator or victim of violent injury, put a gun in his hand and it will go off.  This study strongly suggests that immediate, post-discharge intervention might cut down the rate of violent injury.  Which means that such interventions must include keeping this population away from guns.

It’s Time To End Gun Violence Against Kids

Final_cover__08585.1377691165.220.290

Buy our new book on Amazon.

 

For a country as wealthy as we are, the failure to do something about violent gun deaths suffered by children is really shameful. And it’s particularly shameful when we consider the disparities in between white and minority kids.  Let’s look at the numbers.

From 2005 to 2009, there was an average of 3,500 fatal deaths per year, or nearly 10 deaths every day.  About one in five of these victims was between ages 5 and 14, and the death rate for African-American children in this age bracket was three times higher than the rate for white children of the same age.

The problem with gun violence is that everyone wants it to end, but we can’t seem to get everyone on the same page.  Today Wayne LaPierre from the NRA will be interviewed on television and whatever he says, you can be sure that the anti-gun folks will find every word he utters to be wrong.  And at the end of the day, another 10 children will have been killed with guns.

So I have an idea.  For once let’s all get together around some common-sense ideas that will unite instead of divide us.  Let’s agree that if we all act responsibly around guns, they won’t get into the wrong hands.  After all, every single gun that will be used today to kill those ten children was first sold legally to someone who passed a background check.  But then the gun was lost, or it was stolen, or it wasn’t locked up or locked away.  Let’s get everyone: manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, gun owners and non-gun owners to do the responsible thing.

If we can agree to be responsible, we can do something about this terrible violence against kids.  And if we work at it, hopefully next year there won’t be ten kids killed each day but only eight, and the next year six, or four, or none!  We’ll give everyone a little badge or a little pin for being part of the solution instead of the problem.  LaPierre and Bloomberg can be the first recipients of our annual ‘responsibility’ award.

lapierrebloom

Now just to make sure that I’ve got my facts straight, I’m going to check the data on gun deaths one more time.  It’s from the CDC.   Oops.  There’s a little problem.  The overall numbers are correct as is the disparity between white and minority deaths.  But somehow, don’t ask me how, what I thought were the alarming numbers about child gun violence turn out to be annual child deaths from – unintentional drownings!  Boy, talk about misreading the data. Man, I really blew that one.

No biggee, we’ve already got things going and we’re gaining momentum every day.  Need to change our logo a bit and re-print our mission statement. Now let’s find a nice, little backyard pool to substitute for the AR-15 and don’t forget to re-do our Facebook page.  I’m sure the same people who are upset about children being shot by guns will be just as concerned about kids who fall into pools.  And the good news is that safe swimming is just like safe shooting – it’s all about responsible ownership and doing the right thing.