Archive for the The Gun Problem Category

The Wild, Wild West in Washington, DC

Posted in The Gun Problem on March 6, 2010 by lylede

When I was a senior in high school in 1984 my parents took me to Washington, DC to visit some colleges. A university guide was giving us a tour of a campus adjoining a residential neighborhood when she stopped talking about the school and pointed down the street.

“You really don’t want to head that way, especially at night. It can be a little dangerous and that’s a rough part of town.”

I was shocked at what I heard. Here we were, in America’s capital, and a representative from a major college was warning us about the area’s crime.

You’d think our government would want to do everything it could to keep its citizens safe, especially in the country’s capital. Wrong.

Twenty-six years after I heard that shocking comment the grossly misguided conservative Supreme Court has made it easier than ever to carry guns in Washington, DC (see Justices May Extend Gun Owner Rights Nationwide, AP/NY Times, 3-2-10.)

And if you think the capital’s safety has improved since 1984, or that people will be safer with more guns on the street, think again. Washington, DC has consistently had a high crime rate for decades and this problem existed well before my high school visit.

As for more recent problems, two days ago an armed assailant shot two Pentagon officers when the triggerman tried to get into the building without proper credentials. Fortunately neither officer was seriously injured (see 2 Pentagon officers shot near Metro station, AP/msnbc.com, 3-5-10.)

So if “guns don’t kill people, people do” we should make it easier, thanks to the Supreme Court, for people to kill each other?

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Legislators Make The Gun Problem Worse

Posted in The Gun Problem on February 26, 2010 by lylede

Here are two scary, pathetic headlines from the same day:

Fearing Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws, NY Times 2-23-10 and 2 Teens Injured in Colorado Middle School Shooting, The AP/NY Times 2-23-10.

One doesn’t need to read either story to hopefully understand we have a serious gun problem in this country and it’s certainly not because there are some restrictions on weapons ownership.

America leads the world in public shootings and the slaughter that accompanies these acts. Where else are there shootings in schools (middle and high schools, and colleges), work places and various offices with such regularity?

It’s absolutely pathetic, ignorant and irresponsible that it’s legal to buy and sell assault rifles in America. These deadly weapons can be turned into machine guns in a matter of minutes.

And please don’t give the incredibly lame, outdated Second Amendment “right to bear arms” argument. American gun shops are arming the murderous Mexican drug cartels. Is this what our country’s founders meant with the Second Amendment? (For more on this see “The right to bear arms” While Arming Mexican Drug Cartels.)

The gun laws are such a joke in this country Islamic terrorists wanted to set up a training camp in Oregon – that’s right, Oregon! – and “Prosecutors in the (Oussama) Kassir case portrayed him as a follower of militant clerics who wanted to take advantage of more relaxed gun laws to arrange training in the United States for European recruits to Islamic militancy.” (emphasis added) See Oussama Kassir convicted of trying to start terror camp; 5 convicted in Miami for Sears Tower plot, AP/NY Daily News, 5-12-09.

And if they ever do succeed in building a training camp here in the “relaxed gun laws” land and produce killers and terror, maybe, just maybe, the politicians who take millions of campaign contribution dollars annually from the gun lobby and its tool, the NRA, will wake up and do something for the good of the country, as opposed to acting simply for the good of their own bottom line.

ADDITIONAL READING:

A mere two days after the above-mentioned headlines appeared, along came this one:

Detective killed, officer critical in Calif. Shooting, msnbc.com, 2-25-10

As for one of the above-mentioned articles (Fearing Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws, NY Times 2-23-10) the ignorant, corrupt lawmakers in Virginia obviously didn’t learn anything after the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre when a student there, Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed 32 people with two high-powered, semi-automatic handguns before killing himself.

The Virginia General Assembly “approved a bill last week that allows people to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, and the House of Delegates voted to repeal a 17-year-old ban on buying more than one handgun a month.”

So when a drunken idiot in a bar pulls out two handguns he bought that morning and starts blasting away will the lawmakers simply shrug and say “guns don’t kill people, people do”?

And for a great argument against the above, moronic pro-gun statement see:

Myth: Guns don’t kill people, people do.

Fact: Both guns and people kill; guns make it easier.

The Sad List Continues

Posted in The Gun Problem on August 8, 2009 by lylede

High schools. College campuses. Office buildings. Churches. Post Offices. Factories. Civic Associations. Printing plants. Law offices. Fast food restaurants. Refinery inspection stations. Firehouses. Hotels. Car washes. Internet consulting companies. Real estate firms.

Not only does the sad list of places where people have opened fire with guns continue to grow monthly, it is equally pathetic how long these shootings have been taking place in America.

One of the earliest 20th century mass, public shootings occurred in 1949. A deranged war veteran named Howard Unruh, armed with a Luger pistol, shot and killed 13 people in about 13 minutes on the streets of Camden, New Jersey.

A more infamous shooting occurred on August 1, 1966 when a student at the University of Texas, Austin, named Charles Whitman perched himself atop a 27-story tower and opened fire with a high-powered rifle. He killed 14 people and wounded 31 others before police officers shot and killed him.

The article Rise in mass shootings linked to societal changes (The Salt Lake City Desert News/LA Times, 4-22-07) points out how the Whitman shooting marked a turning point and such massacres started to increase after that deadly day in Texas. Now there are “about 20 mass shootings that occur each year in the United States (a subset of the two dozen or so mass murders). A mass murder is defined as an event in which four or more people are killed in the same episode.”

Twenty mass shootings each year is a horrifying, pathetic statistic. It’s close to two mass shootings every month. The article cites five main factors responsible for the increase of these violent acts. The shooters have shown a “diminished ability to cope with life’s disappointments.” They’ve also complained that other people never gave them a fair chance and the shooters didn’t have any emotional support from friends or family members.

Another major factor the article points out is that since 1966 weapons have become more powerful and that “today, semiautomatics are all too easily accessible.”

That was sadly demonstrated back on July 18, 1984. On that terrifying day James Huberty walked into a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California ready to go to war. He brought a long-barreled Uzi, a pump-action shotgun and a handgun. After 77 minutes of carnage 21 people, including grandmothers, children, teenage restaurant employees and an infant, lay dead. A police sniper finally picked off Huberty with a shot through his heart (see Slaughter at McDonald’s changed how police operate – cnn.com, 7-24-09)

So what have we learned in the 25 years since this horrible act of extreme violence? Obviously not much. Congress did act semi-wisely once (and amazingly not for the benefit of their campaign contributors in the NRA) and banned assault rifles in 1994. Unfortunately though it was a pathetically weak law and only lasted for ten years. In a stroke of Rovian double-speak President George W. Bush said he would extend the law if it came across his desk – while being fully aware, oops I mean being told by Karl Rove, that the then GOP-led Congress would never send it to him. Unfortunately this ban is no longer in effect.

And speaking of the NRA and campaign contributions, I want a legislator to show me where in the Constitution it says that special interest groups can buy legislation, or prevent laws from being passed. In an attempted show of muscle during the recent confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor the NRA, which saw the now-confirmed Judge as “hostile” to gun ownership, threatened to knock down its favorable ratings of politicians who voted for Sotomayor (see NRA threatens Sotomayor backers – The Associated Press/NorthJersey News, 8-2-09).

And regarding the Constitution, please don’t give me the lame Second Amendment / right to bear arms argument. For more on that see: “The right to bear arms” While Arming Mexican Drug Cartels (scroll down past the newer posts until you get to this one.)

As for more recent shootings in public places, on June 10 an evil man full of hatred walked into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC intent on slaughter. James von Brunn fatally shot security guard Stephen T. Johns and was looking to kill more people before other guards shot him. Mr. Johns was only 39 and nicknamed “Big John” for his tall height. According to Grief, Shock After a ‘Gentle Giant’ Loses His Life in the Line of Duty – The Washington Post, 6-11-09, “friends recalled the security guard’s constant courtesy and friendliness.” A museum statement said he was “an outstanding colleague who greeted us every day with a smile.” Mr. Johns left behind a wife and young son.

Unfortunately we can now add another public place to the list of these heinous shootings: fitness center. Two months after Mr. Johns’ tragic death, on August 4, loser George Sodini walked into an aerobics class in a gym outside of Pittsburgh, switched off the lights and opened fire. He had four guns with him. He pulled two out of his duffle bag and fired 35 times. Sodini killed three women and wounded nine others before shooting and killing himself. One of the wounded women, 26-year old Mary Primis, was 10-weeks pregnant. She was shot twice but doctors said her unborn baby was not harmed.

Shootings like the several pointed out in this post don’t happen in other countries simply because it’s so much harder to buy guns elsewhere. And please don’t tell me all of those people all over the world are living in police states as a result of strict civilian gun ownership laws because it’s simply not true. We have a lot of problems in this country. And the fact that there are so many guns out there is definitely near the top of the list.

Additional reading:

For frightening compilations/summaries of school, places of worship, workplace and other shootings click on Emergency & Disaster Management, Inc.

How the NRA helps terrorists – in America

Posted in The Gun Problem on June 13, 2009 by lylede

The NRA, pro-gun people and legislators everywhere need to do some research about Oussama Kassir. This past May Kassir was convicted of aiding al-Qaida with recruiting by trying to establish a weapons-training facility in Bly, Oregon. That’s right, Oregon. Right here in the good old U.S. of A.

And why Oregon, on American soil? According to Oussama Kassir convicted of trying to start terror camp; 5 convicted in Miami for Sears Tower plot, NY Daily News, 5-12-09, “Prosecutors in the Kassir case portrayed him as a follower of militant clerics who wanted to take advantage of more relaxed gun laws to arrange training in the United States (emphasis added) for European recruits to Islamic militancy.”

Kassir and his heinous friends did their homework in choosing Oregon. According to a Department of Justice press release:

“The Bly jihad training camp was established as a site where Muslims could receive various types of training, including military-style jihad training, in preparation to fight jihad in Afghanistan or to continue with additional jihad training in Afghanistan. In a letter faxed from one of the co-conspirators to ABU HAMZA (a Kassir cohort), the property in Bly was described as located in a “pro-militia and fire-arms state” (emphasis added) that “looks just like Afghanistan,” and the author stated that the group was “stock-piling weapons and ammunition.”

Note to the NRA, pro-gun nuts and all those who actually believe “god, guts and guns made America great” – Please wake the f____ up! When terrorists want to take advantage of lax gun laws in this country to set up training camps here THERE’S OBVIOUSLY A MAJOR PROBLEM HERE!

Notice how Kassir didn’t try to set up his terrorist training camp in England, Spain, Singapore or about 125 or so other countries simply because it’s harder to purchase guns elsewhere!

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or brain surgeon to figure out assault weapons should be outlawed. It doesn’t take a genius to realize there are too many guns, easily available, in every American city and town. And now terrorists want to use the pathetic gun laws here to actually set up training camps in America! Did “god, guns and guts” also make terrorists great? Unfortunately, actually, in many radical Islamists’ minds it did.

And please don’t give me the Second Amendment / “right to bear arms” nonsensical argument. And don’t tell me if there were serious limitations on civilians owning firearms here that we’d be living in a police state. For more on my arguments regarding these topics see The Gun Problem and “The right to bear arms” While Arming Mexican Drug Cartels and Kids and Guns – Again.

Kids and Guns – Again

Posted in The Gun Problem on May 10, 2009 by lylede

Let’s just consider for a moment how asinine and pathetic this headline is:

“Conn. Senate OKs machine gun ban for kids” (msnbc.com – 4/30/09).

The bill bans children in Connecticut under the age of 16 from handling or firing machine guns. It was passed after an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself while firing an Uzi submachine gun at a Massachusetts gun show (see Boy, 8, accidentally kills self at gun show – msnbc.com – 10/27/08).

The child, from Ashford, CT, was firing the weapon under the supervision of an uncertified 15-year-old boy, according to Police Chief, club indicted in boy’s Uzi death (msnbc.com – 12/4/08). Unfortunately the boy lost control of the weapon when it recoiled and shot himself in the head. The gun show he was at was called the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo. Organizers promised shooters would have certified instructors.

Pelham, Massachusetts police chief Edward Fleury owns COPS Firearms & Training, the sponsor of the show, and according to Hampden County (MA) District Attorney William Bennett Fleury wrongly told the two men who brought the Uzi to the Westfield Sportsman’s Club (site of the show) that it was legal for children to use under Massachusetts law. 

The boy’s father, who claimed his son had fired handguns and rifles but never an automatic weapon, chose the Uzi because he thought its small size made it safer. Bennett said the weapon’s size makes it deceiving and its “rapid rate of fire made it more likely that an 8-year-old would lose control and the muzzle of the weapon would come close to his face, which is what happened here.” (Again see Police Chief, club indicted in boy’s Uzi death). The boy’s father was standing about ten feet behind him and reaching for his camera when the child fired the weapon.

The gun laws in this country are a joke and need to be stricter. You would never see a headline like the one cited above in countries like England and Singapore, both of which have strict gun control laws. And contrary to claims made by pro-gun advocates England and Singapore are not police states as a result of serious limitations on civilians owning weapons. Singapore is actually a very prosperous country and you’d be hard-pressed to find any instances of some lunatic walking into a school or office building there and opening fire with a handgun or automatic weapon.

According to the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, states with high gun-related death rates have “lax gun laws and higher gun ownership rates. The report defined states with “weak” gun laws as those that add little or nothing to federal restrictions and have permissive laws allowing civilians to carry concealed handguns.”

So much for the NRA’s “responsible gun ownership” argument.

“The right to bear arms” While Arming Mexican Drug Cartels

Posted in The Gun Problem on April 23, 2009 by lylede

I find the Second Amendment / “right to bear arms” argument incredibly weak when it comes to the issue of gun ownership in America. Contrary to misguided belief the Constitution is not set in stone and has been changed several times since it was written.

There are too many guns, including assault rifles (that can easily be converted into machine guns), on the streets of our cities. In 1994 Congress banned assault rifles – hunters don’t use them and note the word “assault” in what they’re called – but it was a pathetically weak law that only lasted for ten years. And once the GOP took over Congress and the great “Decider” was pretending to actually be a president the last thing they were going to do was anger their NRA / gun-nut campaign contributors by extending this law. Unfortunately it’s no longer in effect (and I’m certainly aware that plenty of Democrats also take money from the NRA – for more on the problem of campaign contributions see AIG – Always Into Giving).

When the Constitution was written assault rifles didn’t exist. The Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, Yakuza, Islamic militants and White Supremacists didn’t exist (and while I loathe political correctness how’s that for covering violent gangs based on race!) Fourteen-year old boys weren’t turning their schools into shooting galleries. Disgruntled employees weren’t walking into offices and slaughtering coworkers. Unhinged college students weren’t – I think you get the picture. If all of this did exist in Colonial America I think you’d see a drastically different Second Amendment.

As for those assault rifles, many are winding up in the hands of the incredibly violent, murderous Mexican drug cartels. According to U.S. Stymied as Guns Flow to Mexican Cartels – N.Y. Times 4-14-09 the drug thugs send straw buyers into American shops who purchase “semiautomatic AK-47 and AR-15 rifles, converting some to machine guns, investigators in both countries say. They have also bought .50 caliber rifles capable of stopping a car and Belgian pistols able to fire rifle rounds that will penetrate body armor.

Federal agents say about 90 percent of the 12,000 pistols and rifles the Mexican authorities recovered from drug dealers last year and asked to be traced came from dealers in the United States, most of them in Texas and Arizona.”

The article notes how Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, and gun dealers argue the Mexican drug cartels have the money to “easily obtain weapons on the black market in other countries” if they couldn’t buy them here. 

This is another lame, weak argument. Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. I’m a thug in a Mexican drug cartel and need twenty assault rifles. I can go to Houston, which isn’t far at all from my home base in Mexico, or say to a country across the ocean we’ll call Redneckistan that allows the sale of such weapons. Let’s say Texas and / or the U.S. do something intelligent and ban the sale of assault rifles. They’re still readily available in Redneckistan, but that’s an ocean away. What do you think I would rather do, take a quick jaunt across the border or a long, laborious trip across an ocean?

We unfortunately recently marked the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School (Littleton, CO) massacre. Two mentally unstable students shot to death twelve fellow students and one teacher. One of their accomplices, acting as a straw buyer but with the two killers at her side, bought two shotguns and a 9-mm semiautomatic carbine from three private, unlicensed dealers at a gun show.

These unlicensed “private sellers” are allowed to sell weapons at gun shows and also don’t have to run background checks on customers. According to Gun Dealers Rejected Columbine Killers – The Rocky Mountain News, the two high school murderers were turned away by dealers at a show so they returned the next day with a friend, Robyn Anderson.

“It was too easy,” Anderson told the newspaper. “I wish it would have been more difficult. I wouldn’t have helped them buy the guns if I had faced a criminal background check.”

She’s then quoted as saying: “I think it was clear to the sellers that the guns were for Eric and Dylan (the two killers). They were the only ones asking all the questions and handling the guns.”

Anderson, by the way, was 18 at the time and three days prior to the massacre attended the prom with one of the killers. She was also a student at Columbine.

It is pathetic and grossly socially irresponsible to allow unlicensed dealers to sell murderous weapons at gun shows and, on top of that, they don’t even have to run background checks on customers.

Congress needs to act sensibly for once, and not for the benefit of their NRA / gun-nut campaign contributors, and ban the sale of assault rifles. Congress also needs to stop allowing unlicensed “private sellers” from operating and background checks should be conducted on everyone who wants to buy a gun in this country.