A DISCUSSION ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE V: TWO MONTHS AFTER SANDY HOOK

It has been two months to the day since “Sandy Hook” went from being a noun, to a descriptive verb, to a rallying cry.  America has been forever changed by the massacre of 20 children and 7 adults that morning in Newtown, Ct.  The evidence of that change is found in the fact that people everywhere are sharing their experiences, their concerns, their fears and more importantly their wishes and desires about gun regulations and about the consequences of gun violence in their communities.

So, it seems we can have a discussion about guns after all.  Truth be told, though, this is a discussion that has been going on all along.  What is sad is that it has taken the tragic events of the last few months to raise the volume.  I’ve been tracking the comments on the various sites across the internet and it is absolutely amazing what is being revealed.  People do care about the violence in their cities and towns, in their neighborhoods, in their schools, churches, and movie theaters.

In August of last year, when I began writing about gun violence, the loudest voices in the room were those who claimed to be defenders of the 2nd Amendment.  I say claimed to be, because, as it has become quite obvious, it is not the constitution that they are defending, it is their right to be paranoid and afraid.  The 2nd Amendment is not under attack, what is, though, is the sensibilities and security of the American people.

That is why it is so important that we, the no longer silent majority, continue to make feelings known.  The more we discuss guns and the consequences of gun ownership, the more we see and hear that Americans are concerned about those consequences.

Let’s take a look back over the last two months and see where the discussion has led, and is leading, us.

“It has scarred the soul of America.”

That was Joe Scarborough speaking about the horrors of the massacre that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Ct., on December 14 of last year:

“This week, after the most horrific act, I think, in recent American history other than 9/11 — I can’t think of anything that has scarred the soul of Americans more than what happened at Sandy Hook — you have had complete, utter silence from Republican leaders on some of these key issues. And, so, there are Americans out there who are thinking, “Wait a second. Is this the party of lower taxes or is this the party of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips?”

You could tell by listening to him and watching his face on television how deeply he was affected by that tragedy. But that was nothing compared to what was to come.

It was during the second hour of the three-hour Morning Joe program that former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough hosts along with Mika Brzezinski that Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp came on to discuss the breakdown in negotiations between Republicans over the looming “fiscal cliff,” that aired on December 21, 2012.

As the segment appeared to be coming to an end, Mika asked the congressman if it was time to reconsider his position on the assault weapon ban that had expired in 2004?

Rep. Huelskamp said that, as a congressman, he was bothered by how individuals politicized the tragedy so quickly.  He said that the country has a cultural problem, and added, it’s not a gun problem, it’s a people problem.

Moments later, Joe Scarborough laid into Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, after the congressman accused the MSNBC host and other gun control advocates of pushing “a political agenda” in wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Here’s how the discussion went:

“There’s been a lot of misleading statements including those that have been said right here … that’s the reality here. It’s not a gun problem. There’s a person doing that,” Huelskamp pressed.

“Oh really?” Scarborough said. “Do you think I have a constitutional right to have an assault weapon?”

Huelskamp said it was a constitutional issue and added, “Let’s step back. Let’s not build on the tragedy in Connecticut and use that to actually push a political agenda.”

Scarborough seemed to grow incensed. “Use that? To push a political agenda?” Scarborough asked.

“Oh, absolutely,” Huelskamp said. “This president and his folks are using this to push—”

Scarborough interrupted the Kansas congressman and said, “Let’s talk about September 11th, congressman. Were there some changes made in this country because of the tragedy of September 11th? Was that just using a tragedy — 3,000 deaths — to try to make americans safer? Do you dare come on my show and say I am using the slaughter of 20 little 6 and 7-year-old children; I’m using that for political purposes, Tim?”

“Joe, how many children do you have?” Huelskamp asked.

“I’ve got four children, Tim. Answer my question,” Scarborough said.

“So do I. And I refuse to let you say that because you have children, or anybody else, that we need to actually politicize this. But I see folks in Washington — I don’t know about you. I don’t watch your show. You’re trying to politicize this,” Hueslkamp charged.

“Tim, I’m not going to let you say that I am, quote, politicizing the slaughter of 26 or 27 children. But you said anybody that’s talking about this … Maybe some of us just believe that we have to do whatever we can — whether it’s looking at mental health, whether it’s looking at violent culture of video games and Hollywood movies, whether it’s looking at the proliferation of these weapons, whether it’s looking at what happened in Oregon, what happened in Colorado, what happened in Virginia, what happened in Connecticut, what continues happening, congressman.”

He added, “So we can’t at least talk about guns without you questioning my integrity and saying that I’m using the death of 20 children to try to make life for my children a little bit safer? We can’t even talk about it without you coming on this show and insulting me personally?”

It seemed to me watching this back and forth, that Joe, a staunch 2nd Amendment supporter, and let me say a constitutional and fiscal conservative had, or has, come to grips with the hard reality of what life is like outside of the bubble.  The tragic deaths of those 27 people on that otherwise quiet and ordinary Friday morning struck home to him much in the same way it strikes home for so many Americans each and every day.  You can watch the interview at:   http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/ns/msnbc_tv-morning_joe/#50268883

N.R.A. Response to Sandy Hook

That same day, a few hours later, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre appeared at what was called a press conference, but was really more of a speech.  When most of America was expecting some form of acknowledgement of the problems brought on by this insane proliferation of “Weapons of Mass Murder,” what we were given was a doubling down on their stance that this is not a gun problem.  He called it a “cultural problem,” a “mental health problem,” he blamed movies and video games.  In fact, what he stated was that we need to arm teachers, place armed guards in our schools.

Mr. LaPierre’s words:

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”

And later in his “speech”:

“Before Congress reconvenes, before we engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation or anything else, as soon as our kids return to school after the holiday break, we need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work —and by that I mean armed security.”

 Well, Mr. LaPierre, there were good guys with guns at Fort Hood, there were good guys with guns at Virginia Tech, there were good guys with guns at Columbine High School and at the Tulsa Courthouse.  Still, people were killed!

And what about the psychological and sociological effects of having our children studying and trying to learn in “armed camps?”  Think for a moment just what type of learning environment that might be.

President Obama’s Response

On the 19th of December President Obama announced the establishment of the “Gun Violence Task Force.”

“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”

“The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence.”

These were the President’s words as he tasked Vice-President Biden with the responsibility of overseeing the development of policy’s that will address causes and consequences of gun violence in America.  President Obama also promised to speak about gun violence in his upcoming inaugural address.  (Which he did.)

Meanwhile More Madness

As of Friday January 11, at 4:00 pm, four weeks after the tragedy, http://www.Slate.com and @GunDeaths was reporting that 734 people, Americans, had been killed since the start of the massacre at Sandy Hook.  That’s more than 28 people, Americans, per day.

During that same time, we had several “gun advocates” appear on various media outlets, to defend guns and the right to own them.  Their lack of sensitivity to what is happening all around them, indeed, all around America was absolutely amazing.

This was Alex Jones, radio host, on the Piers Morgan program on CNN, January 7th:

“I’m here to tell you, 1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms! Doesn’t matter how many lemmings you get out there on the street, begging for ’em to have their guns taken. We will not relinquish them. Do you understand?! That’s why you’re going to fail, and the establishment knows, no matter how much propaganda, the republic will rise again!”

Then there was James Yeager, CEO of a company called Tactical Response who, on January 9th, posted a video on YouTube.  This is from the site “LiveLeak.com” :

In the original video, he started by admitting that he’s “kind of mad.” Then, he launched into a diatribe about Vice President Joe Biden’s recent claim that President Barack Obama may rely upon executive orders to tackle the issue.

“Vice President Biden is asking the president to bypass Congress and use executive privilege, executive order to ban assault rifles and to impose stricter gun control,” said Yeager. “F**k that.”

And he wasn’t done there. The Tactical Response leader said that such actions on behalf of the Obama administration would “spark a civil war” and that he would be “glad to fire the first shot.”

“I’m not putting up with it. You shouldn’t put up with it,” he continued. “And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you’re going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle’s clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight.”

From there, his comments only intensified. After pledging that he wouldn’t put up with increased gun control initiatives being advocated by the federal government of late, Yeager pledged — to the extreme – to defend his right to firearms.

“I’m not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I’m not letting anybody take my guns!,” he added. “If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.”

You can read the entire article and view the YouTube video at:   http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=a73_1357945092

On January 11th on CNN, there was Larry Ward, national chairman for “Gun Appreciation Day,” speaking about the event scheduled for January 19th, two days before the national holiday designated to celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King.  There is no small irony in the fact that this “first-ever” event was announced on January 8th, 25 days after Sandy Hook, and scheduled for the Saturday preceding Rev. King’s birthday holiday.  But what is really disgusting is his assertion that Rev. King would co-sign on this idiocy.

This is from a January 11, article published in the Huffington Post by writer Cavan Sieczkowski:

Larry Ward, chairman of Gun Appreciation Day, appeared on CNN Friday to defend the nationwide gun rally, which is scheduled for Jan. 19 — just two days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Talking Points Memo notes.

Ward insists that Gun Appreciation Day, which calls on gun activists across the nation to rally in support of the right to bear arms and against President Barack Obama’s “post-Sandy Hook assault on gun rights,” actually “honors the legacy of Dr. King.”

“We are looking for a peaceful protest,” Ward said. Continuing, “I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”

Maria Roach, founder of United for Change USA, an organization dedicated to prison reform and gun violence prevention, called Ward’s comments simply “ridiculous.”

“Slavery means that you are a possession,” she said on CNN. “Slaves were a possession, just like a gun.” She continued to criticize Ward for celebrating weapons just two days before celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated in 1968 by a single shot.

Think Progress’ Aviva Shen notes the caveats in Ward’s armed-slaves argument:

Ward also neglects to mention that in fact there were many armed uprisings by slaves, as early as 1526. Armed revolts almost always failed, and often led to retribution by the slave owners, who had the justice system on their side. Most famously, Nat Turner led a rebellion that resulted in 60 white deaths and 100 black deaths. The state later executed 56 blacks accused of being involved in the insurrection, and white mobs beat and killed at least 200 others in revenge.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/larry-ward-guns-african-americans-prevented-slavery-_n_2457479.html

You can watch the entire CNN interview at:

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2013/01/11/exp-costello-gun-appreciation-day.cnn

And finally there is Ted Nugent.  Ted’s a man of many quotes, but the only truly relevant one is this, spoken at the NRA convention in April 2012:

”If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

All of these people have “moon-walked” back from their statements, saying they were either miss-quoted or miss-construed, except Ted (April’s coming, though), but this speaks to the insanity that we are dealing with, as this discussion goes forward.

The People Speak

When President Obama charged VP Biden and the task force with bringing to him a list of proposals that he, and the American people, might consider as potential solutions to the gun violence problem in our country he asked that it be completed within 2 months.  Mr Biden’s efforts took half of that time.

Here is what the Vice President’s task force presented:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Upon reading this list, you will notice that none of the proposals in any way limits the legal acquiring, possession, or use of guns.  You can’t tell that by listening to many of the so-called 2nd amendment advocates, though.  Nowhere is there any discussion about gun confiscation.

Here are excerpts from the Presidents speech in Newtown, before signing the executive order for these proposals:

“And so what we should be thinking about, is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up, and do everything that they’re capable of doing. Not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country. This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.

And that’s why last month, I asked Joe to lead an effort, along with members of my cabinet, to come up with some concrete steps we can take right now to keep our children safe, to help prevent mass shootings, to reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.

And we can’t put this off any longer.

Just last Thursday, as TV networks were covering one of Joe’s meetings on this topic, news broke of another school shooting, this one in California.

In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun — 900 in the past month.

And every day we wait the number will keep growing.

So I’m putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe’s task force. And in the days ahead I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.

Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”

Read the entire speech at:   http://www.defensivecarry.com/forum/second-amendment-gun-legislation-discussion/157317-transcript-obamas-speech1-16-13-a.html

They Were “For It Before They Were Against It”

Nothing, in the Newtown speech, was said about taking away a person’s guns, either.  As the discussion continued we began to learn more about those who are arguing against change.  Some of them, particularly in the conservative leadership, and the NRA, have supported gun restrictions in the past.

In an article “Don’t Blame Liberals for Gun Control” in FrontPageMagazine.com,  Monday, January 8, 2001, Richard Poe writes:

“ANTI-GUN CRUSADERS seem worried about the advent of a Republican administration. Heaven knows why. Republicans, in recent years, have managed to do nearly as much damage to the Second Amendment as Democrats.In 1969, journalist William Safire asked Richard Nixon what he thought about gun control. “Guns are an abomination,” Nixon replied. According to Safire, Nixon went on to confess that, “Free from fear of gun owners’ retaliation at the polls, he favored making handguns illegal and requiring licenses for hunting rifles.”

It was President George Bush, Sr. who banned the import of “assault weapons” in 1989, and promoted the view that Americans should only be allowed to own weapons suitable for “sporting purposes.”

It was Governor Ronald Reagan of California who signed the Mulford Act in 1967, “prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street.” The law was aimed at stopping the Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners.

Twenty-four years later, Reagan was still pushing gun control. “I support the Brady Bill,” he said in a March 28, 1991 speech, “and I urge the Congress to enact it without further delay.”

One of the most aggressive gun control advocates today is Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City, whose administration sued 26 gun manufacturers in June 2000, and whose police commissioner, Howard Safir, proposed a nationwide plan for gun licensing, complete with yearly “safety” inspections.

Another Republican, New York State Governor George Pataki, on August 10, 2000, signed into law what The New York Times called “the nation’s strictest gun controls,” a radical program mandating trigger locks, background checks at gun shows and “ballistic fingerprinting” of guns sold in the state. It also raised the legal age to buy a handgun to 21 and banned “assault weapons,” the sale or possession of which would now be punishable by seven years in prison.

Gun control crusaders argue that the Republicans are simply yielding to grassroots pressure, to gain political advantage. But polls show little evidence of such pressure.”

http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=22064

The NRA once had a far more moderate opinion on gun restrictions, evidenced in the article “The NRA vs. The NRA” by , posted on the LA Progressive site:

“The NRA was generally silent on the issue of gun control as a national issue until the National Firearms Act of 1934 was being debated in Congress. The legislation imposed a steep tax, along with registration requirements, on what was termed “gangster guns”: machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. Aside from exempting handguns from the act, arguing that people needed them for home protection, the NRA supported the legislation as “reasonable, sensible, and fair.”

In the 1960s, in the wake of the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, the NRA once again supported the push for new federal gun laws. When the final version of the Gun Control Act was adopted in 1968, NRA President Franklin Orth said the “measure as a whole appears to be one that the sportsmen of America can live with.”

But during this same period, fewer people were buying guns for hunting, and more for protection. Ironically, this attitude was held both by whites, and by newly forming black militant groups like the Black Panthers (originally the Black Panther Party for Self Defense).

It was during this time that then-Governor Ronald Reagan voiced his support for gun control.

Supporting legislation by Alameda County Assemblyman Don Mulford to control armed black militants like Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, Reagan said he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” calling guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said the Mulford Act “would work no hardship on the honest citizen.”

It was during this time, also that the NRA suffered its version of a palace coup, when hard-liner factions led by Harlon Carter transformed the NRA into a lobbying powerhouse, committed to a more aggressive view of what the Second Amendment promised.

Soon after this, the NRA began demonizing any Federal law enforcement agencies, particularly the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) as “jack-booted government thugs.” Current NRA president Wayne LaPierre warned members that anyone who wears a badge has “the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.”

In an effort to exert further influence on national electoral politics, the NRA endorsed its first presidential candidate in 1980. Ironically, their choice was Ronald Reagan, the governor who gave California one of the strictest gun control regimes in the United States.”

http://www.laprogressive.com/national-rifle-association/

Wayne LaPierre’s warning about people with badges, at that time, sounds eerily  like the same warning coming from the Black Panther Party, just a few short years before.

A few years later, Mr. LaPierre and the NRA’s positions shifted once again.  Speaking before the Congress in May of 1999, in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy, Mr. LaPierre had this to say:

“We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.

This isn ‘t new, or a change of position, or a concession. I’ve been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to
news interviews and press appearances. But I ‘ve repeatedly emphasized that this Administration must stop illegally keeping records of lawful gun buyers.

In fact, it ‘s the media ‘s well-kept secret that the NRA was an early architect and supporter of the National Instant Check System now in place. Congressman McCollum knows we worked with him on instant checks more than a decade ago.

We think it ‘s reasonable to provide for instant checks at gun shows just like at gun stores and
pawn shops. But what ‘s unreasonable is how the proposed Lautenberg legislation ignores the 250,000 prohibited people like felons who ‘ve walked away from gun stores –instead of being prosecuted for a federal felony for trying to buy a gun.”

http://judiciary.house.gov/legacy/lapierre.htm

The “Lautenberg” legislation referred to in the quote is the “Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban” sponsored by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) as an amendment to “Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, that was enacted in 1996.  The act bans shipment, transport, ownership and use of guns or ammunition by individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or who are under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse in all 50 states. The act also makes it unlawful to knowingly sell or give a firearm or ammunition to such persons.

Many Faces, One Voice, for Change!

There were a number of other actions and some restrictions that Mr. LaPierre and the NRA found reasonable, all having the same of similar caveats, but virtually all are considered non-reasonable deal breakers now.  But there is now another group in the game offering the American people a different deal, a better deal.  This is no longer just a “my thoughts and prayers” or “my heart goes out to” group, these people are asking the question, “what can we do help solve this problem, now?”

The just mentioned “other group” is not just one concerned entity but several, previously non-connected, but now united in their efforts to bring about change.  Included are these organizations:

There are others, local and national, that need your face, your voice, your support.  If you search “gun control advocacy groups” on the internet, you will find them.

Many of us have joined one or more of these groups, and others like them, for reasons not related to gun violence and it’s effects on our society, and for many of these groups their priorities  have been adjusted to include this fight.

What we now have is many faces but one voice speaking out for change.  We are fighting this battle on all fronts, from municipalities to the federal government and this time is different.  Where a company stands on this issue is now becoming a determinant as to where we spend our time and resources, and it is having a real effect.

A significant percentage of Americans support changes in our gun policies as evidenced by a Fox News Poll conducted by Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). (Jan. 15-17, 2013. 1,008 registered voters nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.)

“Do you favor or oppose each of the following proposals to reduce gun violence? . . .” Each asked of half the sample, margin of error ± 4

 
    Favor Oppose Unsure    
    % % %    
 
 

“Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buying at gun shows and private sales”

 

1/15-17/13

91 8 1    
 

“Providing services for mentally ill people who show violent tendencies”

 

1/15-17/13

89 9 2    
 

“Improving enforcement of existing gun laws”

 

1/15-17/13

86 12 3    
 

“Requiring mental health checks on all gun buyers”

 

1/15-17/13

83 15 2    
 

“Requiring criminal background checks on anyone buying bullets and ammunition”

 

1/15-17/13

80 19 1    
 

“Putting armed guards in schools for protection”

 

1/15-17/13

60 36 4    
 

“Banning high-capacity ammunition clips that can shoot dozens of bullets without stopping to reload”

 

1/15-17/13

56 38 6    
 

“Banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons”

 

1/15-17/13

54 42 3    
 

“Reducing access to violent movies and video games”

 

1/15-17/13

52 43 5    
 

“Allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns on school grounds”

 

1/15-17/13

42 52 6

http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm

President Obama has used both his inaugural and the state of the union addresses to speak to this problem and rally the support of responsible thinking Americans.  The problems we face extend far beyond gun violence, but the solutions to many of our problems begin with reducing it and the impact that it is having throughout our nation.

Where companies build or expand their businesses is determined by how safe an area is.  Where people chose to invest in home ownership is determined by how safe and secure an area is.  Where we send our children to school, where we shop, where we play, all of these are areas where people want to feel safe and secure.  We can and must do everything in our power to make this change.

The President, Vice-President and their task-force have spoken.  Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly have spoken.  The citizens of the cities of Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and so many more are bravely speaking up.

The polls say “now is the time.”  It’s time to add your face, your voice, to this call for action.  It’s time for a change!

A DISCUSSION ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE, PART III: JETJOCKI

Publishers note:  This is an e-mail sent to me by Jetjocki, a contributor, who has been a part of this discussion from the beginning.  Because of his seriousness, and concern for this topic, I want to share his e-mail as an article.  This is the first of what I hope will be a continuing part of this very important dialogue.

————————————————————————————————-

FROM JETJOCKI:

In beginning the discussion on how data clearly gives us the answers.  I’ll start with the most common type of shooting incident: Criminal Homicide.  To get to the heart of the discussion I will use publicly accessible data compiled over the last 50 years by the Department of Justice, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I’ll start with a “fictional” headline from this morning’s newspaper:  Two killed and one wounded in a shooting at the corner of …

Without reading the headline any further or reading the following story I already “know” a lot about the tragic incident that happened last night. Let’s begin with the perpetrator and what existing data tells us:

Age & Gender 

  • There is an 82% probability that the perpetrator is a male between the ages of 16 and 24.

Criminal History 

  • There is an 85% probability that the perpetrator has a prior criminal record.
  • There is an 80% probability that the perpetrator has been convicted of at least one felony and is prohibited from possession of any firearm.
  • There is a 76% probability that the perpetrator has been arrested 4 or more times for felony offences.
  • There is an 81% probability that the perpetrator has a prior arrest for one or more violent offences.
  • There is a 52% probability that the perpetrator has a prior arrest for illegal possession of a firearm or for illegal possession of a firearm during [the] commission of a crime.
  • There is a 60% probability that the perpetrator is already on court ordered supervision.  The court ordered supervision includes:  out on bail awaiting trial for a prior arrest, diversionary probation based on a plea bargain, or early release parole.

Now let’s take a look at the firearm used to commit the crime:

Type of Weapon 

  • There is a 93% probability that the weapon was a handgun.
  • There is ONLY a 1% to 5% probability that the weapon used is an “assault weapon” of any type as defined by the 1994 ban.
  • There is 0.25% to 1.25% probability that the weapon used is an “assault weapon” rifle with a high capacity magazine prohibited by the 1994 ban.
  • There is less than a 1% probability that the firearm used was an “assault weapon” rifle.
  • There is less than a 0.25% probability that the firearm used was an “assault weapon” rifle equipped with a high capacity magazine.

Source of the Weapon 

  • There is a 40% probability that the weapon used was unlawfully provided to the perpetrator by a family member or close associate that had full knowledge that the perpetrator is prohibited from possession of a firearm.  These weapons are typically purchased with intent or already owned legally by the family member or close associate prior to the transfer to the perpetrator.
  • There is a 40% probability that the weapon used was obtained from the illegal “street” market.  This illegal market is divided into two major segments; 75% consisting of legally owned weapons that have been stolen from lawful owners; and approximately 25% by intentional trafficking in firearms to the criminal element.
  • There is an 11% probability that the firearm used had at one time been legally acquired by the perpetrator and unlawfully retained after prohibition against possession became effective.
  • There is a less than 7% probability that the weapon has been acquired by the perpetrator from the avoidance of a background check via private sale where the private seller currently has no lawful means to run a “background check.”  This includes sales by private sellers at “gun shows.”

Now let’s take a look at the victims of the crime:

Age & Gender 

  • There is an 81% probability that the victim is a male between the ages of 16 and 24.

Criminal History 

  • There is a 75% probability that the victim has a criminal record as extensive as the perpetrator.

Ok, I know that was a lot of numbers related to probabilities and it will take time and thought for it to all soak in, but in overview it is obvious that the fictional incident was indeed the result of a long chain of events beginning long before the “shooting.”  Let’s now pick two of the links that have the most potential for breaking the chain.  The two that pop out the most in my opinion are the 52% probability that the perpetrator already had a prior arrest for illegal firearm possession, and that there is a 40% probability that a family member or close associate is the one that provided the weapon to the perpetrator.  I believe that effectively addressing these two links has the potential of reducing criminal homicides by 30% to 50% and maybe even more.

My next installment will examine these two links in far greater detail.

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I’m looking forward to more contributions from Jetjocki, and from others who believe this is a discussion worth having.  Your opinions matter.  Share your comments to this article, and any [other] thoughts you may have on this topic, in the comment section below, or e-mail me at:  ilittsey@gmail.com.

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.”

My response:

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:

  1. Make illegal possession a summary offense with mandatory sentencing.  No bail, no plea bargains, no probation – guilty you do the time.
  2. Make a “straw” purchase or provide a known felon a gun and you suffer the same penalties as illegal possession.
  3. 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?

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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)

Isaac,

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.

Jetjocki

From:  Isaac Littsey  (Aug 27)

Jetjocki,

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.

Isaac

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)

Jetjocki,

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.

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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.

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