A DISCUSSION ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE
It is tragically ironic that I had a post I had been working on for today, about “Gun Violence.” It is about an on-line conversation I had with a co-commenter on the news blog “Huffington Post. As I was preparing to publish it, came “Breaking News.” “A Shooting At The Empire State Building. ” Multiple victims, the shooter killed by police. So then, I go on-line and see that headline, and then down the page, “Gun Violence Ravages Chicago Overnight.” My thoughts went to why even bother? With this, and the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the shooting at the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado, I wondered, at the rate these incidents are occurring, their might not be anyone left to care. But then I thought, in the meantime, there are many, many reasons to care. There are thousands of victims, and their family members and friends, who care, and should be cared about. Something must be done for them. Something must be done for us. For this reason, this is a discussion we need to have.
One more time, sadly, I say, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy, and their family members and friends.
I’ve posted previously, on this site, about gun violence, as it relates to racial and ethnic violence in our country. In my post “Let’s Ban Guns,” I try to explain, based on my understanding, some of the factors that lead to that “particular” type of gun violence, the how’s, the why’s, as such. But the actual picture is much broader than that. Gun violence and it’s collateral consequences are impacting virtually every aspect of our lives. As it is, there is no safe place, there is no safe time of day. The stress of day-to-day living has become almost impossible to bear. We’ve got to, somehow, find our way back from the edge. I’m not sure when or where the tipping point is, but I fear it’s near.
Here is the post I had planned for today:
Do you remember this line from an old L&M cigarette commercial? “They said it couldn’t be done, they said nobody could do it.” Well, borrowing on that theme, it’s been said that, because of the widely divergent feelings about 2nd amendment rights, gun regulation, gun bans, we cannot have a cogent, civil discussion about gun violence and the collateral consequences of gun violence in America.
Then last Friday happened.
I’ll begin at the beginning. There was an article in the Huffington Post titled: “St. John The Baptist Parish Deputies Killed In Shootout West Of New Orleans.”
“LaPlace, LA. — Two sheriff’s deputies in Louisiana were shot to death and two others were injured in an early morning shootout west of New Orleans, authorities said Thursday. Five people – both male and female – are in custody, and two of them are hospitalized, authorities said. They said both wounded deputies and both wounded suspects are expected to survive.”
After reading the article, and some of the comments posted by readers, I, under my Huffington Post user name,”puffingsomehost,” commented:
puffingsomehost: The fact that so many on this thread don’t see the problem, of gun violence, easy access to guns, and how these things are affecting us, speaks volumes about our maturity as a society. Our society has got to take a hard look at who we are, where we stand, and decide if this is how we want to live our lives. There are so many out there worried about the economy and the rising debt, and how these things are going to affect our children and grandchildren’s futures, but the way things are going right now, there won’t be much of a future [for them], for us to worry about.”
“Assault weapons, not assault weapons, does it matter? Fully automatic, semi-automatic, does anyone think the survivors of this insanity, and their families, really care? That argument is akin to picking “gnat s#!t out of pepper. Does it really matter when so many are needlessly dying?”
“I want to say grow up America, but kids can’t raise themselves. It’s time for the grown-ups in the room to stand up, step up, and put an end to this madness.”
Well, as you might imagine, I came under siege from the 2nd amendment advocates. Here is an example:
(User name not displayed): ( First quoting me), “Assault weapons, not assault weapons, does it matter? Fully automatic, semi-automatic, does anyone think the survivors of this insanity and their families, really care? That argument is akin to picking “gnat s#!t” out of pepper. Does it really matter when so many are needlessly dying? Then saying, “It matters if you intend to take away legitimate instruments of self-defense. If you even dream of disarming lawful citizens, you’d best know what you’re talking about. And until you understand how often guns are used to STOP crimes by ordinary people, then you are in no position to fully appreciate the debate.”
My response was:
puffingsomehost: “Debate? You’re kidding? Are you paying any attention to your own comments? You’re not having a debate, you’re just attempting to lecture people. A debate raises and discusses different points of view. A debate considers points of view different from one’s own. So at which ever time you want to climb down from your soap box and have that discussion, I am more than willing to have it with you. Until then, you can just ramble on.
Then, the unexpected began.
A commenter, user name “jetjocki” came on the thread with this comment:
jetjocki: (Quoting me), “A debate considers points of view different from one’s own.” Jetjocki then says. A point of view about an issue that is not based on fundamental knowledge is of marginal value at best. You cannot even have a valid debate, let alone work to a solution, no matter what your point of view is unless it is founded in fact.”
“What appears that you do not realize, is that lawful gun owners in general do know the facts, they know the weapons and their capabilities, they know the law, and they know how to solve the problem. Yes sometimes we do get a little ‘preachy,’ but understand we are tired of blatant distortion of facts, insults to our intelligence, and people that have absolutely no knowledge pontificating what should be done.”
“So the bottom line is ‘do your homework first’ and then a great many of us will be quite happy to sit down and civilly work to a solution. Fail to do that and the result should be expected.”
puffingsomehost: “Jetjocki, the only fact I can discern from your statement, is ‘Yes sometimes we get a little preachy,’ and I take that as your fact because ‘you’ wrote it. The rest is pure supposition. I’ve never stated that there are not responsible gun owners, out there.”
“There is not distortion of the fact that, within the last few months, there has been multiple occasions of mass murder and individual murder, using guns. These events occur in cities and rural areas, they involve people of all races and classes.”
“I’ll offer this for the sake of discussion, when is enough, enough? How many people have to die before we even begin to rethink this thing?”
You have a solution, let’s discuss that. I know nothing of your intelligence (nor you mine) so I cannot insult it. I am a military veteran, who has lived around the world, I have owned weapons, so I do know something of what I speak. Asking a question is not ‘pontification.’ I’m living my homework, and I’m happily ready ‘to sit down and civilly work to a solution.'”
From there, we actually began a conversation.
jetjocki: (quoting me), “These events occur in cities and rural areas, they involve people of all races and classes.” Jetjocki continues, “Factually true, but are you truely willing to openly discuss who the killers really are?
- 50% of them come from a very clearly defined 2.3% segment of the population, another 20% come from another equally well-defined 1.7%.
- 80% of them are previously convicted felons. 60% of them are on court ordered supervision at the time of the killing; out on bail, on probation, or on early release parole.
- 40% of the guns they used were provided to them by family members and close friends that knew they are prohibited from gun ownership.
“My point is that the very first thing that must go is ‘political correctness’ and deal with the facts as they really are. If we cannot do that we have no chance in solving the problem.”
puffingsomehost: “I agree that ‘political correctness’ has got to go. You can’t truly solve a problem without the truth. Here’s hoping we can, one day soon, find a common place, where we can find some common ground. We’re limited hereby space, but there should not be any limits on our desire to find solutions (and I’m sure it will take more than one) to this problem. Thanks for the discussion. Peace.
I thought our discussion was over, but jetjocki continued:
jetjocki: “If you want to begin with what will be effective start with:
- Make illegal possession a summary offense with mandatory sentencing. No bail, no plea bargains, no probation – guilty you do the time.
- Make a “straw” purchase or provide a known felon a gun and you suffer the same penalties as illegal possession.
- Require all medical practitioners and educators to report suspected mental conditions that should disqualify one from gun ownership just as they are currently required by law to report suspected physical or sexual child abuse without regard to privacy issues. It must then be investigated and if warranted, brought before the courts for a temporary restraining order barring possession or ownership of guns. Then after an appropriate hearing that must be held within 30 days the courts would have the authority to issue a permanent restraining order. This simple process dies not involve detention of forced treatment, it merely denies the right to possess or purchase guns, just like a domestic restraining order or child protection order do.
puffingsomehost: “Jetjocki, you make good points and provide an excellent place to begin this discussion. This is what I’ll do. With your permission, I’ll post your initial 3 points (verbatim), as a starting point for this discussion, on my blog. It would be improper for me to promote the site here, but give me a week (I’m knee-deep in politics for the next few days), and I’ll have this topic up. Your user name is unique, so by doing a web search, you should be able to find it, and my site. We can meet there. My profile will contain my contact information.
This discussion is very important, and I appreciate your willingness to have it. I’ll wait for your permission.
jetjocki: “I will grant permission, however I would like to point out the 3 points I started with are described very briefly based on the limitations of this site. I would also suggest that in time there are at least two other users on this site that would be exceptional contributors. One is a specialist in constitutional law that has argued cases before the SCOTUS and the other is a well-respected law enforcement firearms expert.”
puffingsomehost: “Outstanding! I’ll meet you next weekend.”
So, it appears that we can, at least, begin a conversation, a discussion about gun violence, so let’s try. Let’s begin by assuming that we can’t ban all gun’s and we can’t arm everyone. The solutions are somewhere in the middle.
Let’s not get completely caught up in statistics, urban vs. rural, ethnic and hate vs. crimes of passion, premeditated vs. crimes of opportunity. The truth is, that, all of America suffers when gun violence is present. We are all less secure when gun violence is present.
Let’s discuss how the people caught in the middle can be made more safe, more secure. Once again, the only thing these victims did, was, to get up, leave out, and set about taking care of their “own” business. They didn’t deserve this morning, or this “mourning.”
It’s time for the people in the middle to speak up and have their say. Use the comment section below to post your comments and possible solutions. The most relevant, to this discussion, will be posted as articles for further discussion.
Remember, the topic is gun violence and it’s consequences.
We can have this discussion, the question is, will we?
UPDATE (posted 8-29-12):
This is the e-mail conversation I had with Jetjocki, between August 26 and August 28.
From: Isaac Littsey (Aug 26)
Jetjocki, how are you. My name is Isaac Littsey (puffingsomehost). Here is the URL for the blogsite.
Check it out and let me know what you think. You can comment directly to the post or, if you rather, e-mail your post and I’ll post it as an article, with your by-line. The same for other contributors, that you trust to stay on topic, and be civil. We’re talking about the impact of gun violence and the possible solutions, for it.
E-mail me and let me know that you received this. Then we’ll plan, going forward, what we want to do and how we want to present it.
From: Jetjocki (Aug 27)
I believe the best way to have the discussion is to have a series of articles that address specific issues rather than generic discussions.
I would suggest the first topic should be what control measures should not be even open to discussion as they are already prohibited by constitutional law and court precedents. For example, total bans, bans based on class, bullet taxes, insurance, excessive fees, contingent liability after lawful transfer, means testing (proof of a valid need), etc. The point being that discussion non any of these topics is moot and does nothing but obstruct the process and can accomplish nothing.
In my opinion the second topic should address the “who” that use guns to kill and the circumstances when it takes place. There are really only five generic circumstances ranked by rate of occurrence: criminal activity, murder/suicide, accidental/unintentional, hate crime and rampage. Note that I left out suicide on it’s own. agreed it is the cause of over 60% of annual deaths by firearms, but it is it’s own topic that has nothing to do with gun control.
Once the invalid control measures have been removed from the discussin and the major problems clearly identified the topics should address potential solutions.
Let me know what you think.
From: Isaac Littsey (Aug 27)
Great to finally be in touch. I agree we should not get into bans on guns or the codifying of gun ownership. My intent, with this discussion, is to call attention to the consequences of gun violence. Perhaps working from there we can search for solutions relative to that. Many times the discussions end when the perp’s are caught or killed. Afterwards, the situation is mined for the relative data, date and time, ethnic identities of victims and/or perp’s, collaborators or supporters, and the number and identies of the victims. But the victims and survivors have a stake in this discussion. Them, their families, their neighbor’s and friends, they all [now] have to live with the real life consequences of these acts, and the emotional consequences, perhaps, for the rest of their lives. Who speaks for them?
Again, great to be in touch.
From: Jetjocki (Aug 27)
I fully understand the perspective of concern for the victims and survivors and do not wish to be viewed as callused to their suffering and needs, but I truly believe the issue must remain dispassionately focused on how we can reduce the numbers of victims for tomorrow and next week and so on.
I know it sounds harsh, but there nis nothing beyond compassion and support for the victims that can be done about tragic events that have already occured. The victims of the past must not be ignored, but if we are to solve the problem we must stay focused on the issues that can change the future. The point being that the suffering of past victims must not be in vain, but used as a driving force to modify the future so there are fewer victims tomorrow. I believe that in almost every case the victims would find substantial comfort in knowing that others will not have to go through what they have because we have taken steps today to modify the future.
To put it bluntly, I do not want anyone to have to explain to a victim of a violent incident occurring two years from now why did not take action today to prevent it.
You are absolutely correct that mountains of data have been dispassionately compiled from decades pf past events. The problem is that as a society we have failed to learn what the data can teach us. What truly angers me to no end is that the data provides the answers to radically reducing the carnage and yet they are ignored on the basis of political posturing. Both “sides” of the issue pontificate useless talking points and ignore the fact that a violent act is always the result of a finite chain of events. Break just one link in the chain and it is very unlikely that the event will happen. Further, most violent acts have common links that can be clearly identified from the data. It is on these links in the chain of events that we must focus our efforts without political bias if we are to solve the problem.
From: Isaac Littsey (Aug 27)
I’m going to set up a page for this discussion and post where we are, currently. I’m going to e-mail to you my response before I post it. I’m also going to open the discussion for other’s ato participate. I’m curious to see what data you have and then we can see if indeed there are possible solutions, there.
Thanks for being involved.
The special page on this topic is being developed. We’re going to continue to use this page for the time being. Add your thought’s in the comment section below.
We need to have this discussion.