Category Archives: Gun safety

The times they are a-changin’

University and high school students march along Amsterdam Avenue at Lincoln Center.

Is Dylan right?

Has the NRA met its match?

Is a Democratic wave coming to wash a majority of gun-loving Republicans out of office?

The answer to these questions may be yes.

On March 14, 2018, two things happened to raise the spirits and the hopes of the majority of Americans. Republicans, who have refused to challenge the Trump administration’s corruption, dishonesty and xenophobia, are beginning to lose ground. They are losing to Democrats in special elections in deep red Trump country. The early morning hours saw a Democrat eking out a victory over his Republican opponent in rural Pennsylvania, in districts that Trump won by 20 points.

Police block traffic, allowing students to return to school

In another upset of the status quo, students across the country marked the one-month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting by walking out of their classrooms. Crying #Enough! and #NeverAgain! they are determined to hold politicians to account. The students are resolved to elect candidates who will enact sensible gun laws that will curb the massacre of innocents by wild men with assault rifles. They are committed to use their spending power to support businesses that have ended their financial relationships with the NRA and penalize the ones that haven’t.

Women, emboldened by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, are joining their peers in ripping off the gag that has silenced them throughout history. They are demanding a reckoning from the men who took advantage of their power to demand sexual favors with impunity. Institutions in every field are responding by exacting retribution for sexual abuse.

Suddenly, 2018 is shaping up to be as disruptive as 1968. The 21st century is waking from the torpor that allowed American democratic ideals to be perverted by autocrats who value lucre and disdain the needs of the vast majority of Americans.

The times, finally they are a-changing.




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Filed under American Society, Gun safety, Politics, Resistance, Shooting, Women

Dem debate #1: impressions


Hillary Clinton showing her appreciation to Bernie Sanders after he exclaimed that the American people are “sick and tired of your damned emails! Enough!” Let’s talk about the real issues, he said.

What a difference! In this first Democratic debate, the candidates were polite, even warm, and always civil to each other. So used to Republicans’ bad-mouthing Hillary and Obama, ripping into each other and telling outright falsehoods (Carly Fiorina and Planned Parenthood doctored video). By contrast, last night’s Dem debate was for the most part optimistic and forward-looking.

The candidates were focused mostly on the issues, each trying to show how (s)he parted ways from the others. Yet they were not hesitant to agree with and even support each other. There was only one antagonist in the room, and that was the Republican obstructionist party. Yes, they attempted to score points, most notably Clinton remonstrating Sanders for not being strong enough against guns. (Do you agree with Sanders’ position on guns, the moderator asked her. “No. I don’t,” she rejoined.) The disagreements were sometimes direct, sometimes implied, but always cordial, not offensive. They were in agreement about the issues — guns, climate change, income inequality, the toxic effect of Citizens United — but they differed in their approaches.

I liked Martin O’Malley. He came across as well-informed and experienced, serious but easygoing and optimistic, especially in contrast to Bernie Sanders. The senator from Vermont was gruff, angry and exasperated. He is authentic and clearly cares deeply about problems of the middle class, income inequality, corporate greed and climate change, but I think he will antagonize voters who don’t already back him. Hillary Clinton was polished and well-prepared, articulate and perfectly at ease. When asked if she wanted to respond to a criticism from Lincoln Chafee, she simply said, “No.”

There were, however, two sour notes.

Chafee’s excuse for voting to repeal the Glass Steagall Act in 1999: “It was my first vote. I’d just arrived in the Senate, and my father had just died.” Challenged by moderator Anderson Cooper, he whined again. It was pathetic. He was looking for sympathy and garnered scorn.

Jim Webb complained at every opportunity that he wasn’t being given as much time as everyone else, that he had to wait 10 minutes before being given a chance to speak and was cut off too soon. When he was in the spotlight, he conveyed his discomfort at being on that stage with his rivals, all of whom were more progressive and relaxed than he was.

Chafee and Webb will surely drop out before long. They came in with poll numbers that scraped the bottom and didn’t do themselves any good. I’d like to see O’Malley keep going, but Hillary’s performance surely secured her place as the favorite with Bernie close behind to keep it interesting.


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Filed under Gun safety, Income and Wealth Inequality, Politics

A License To Kill: the “Stand Your Ground” Law

MurderRatesSYGYou know it intuitively. A “Stand Your Ground” law is simply a license to kill. When George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old , the law protected Zimmerman. He claimed he shot in self-defense, and with no evidence to support or refute his contention, the police were prohibited by law to arrest him. Under the “Stand Your Ground” law, someone who reasonably believes (s)he is in imminent danger may protect him- or herself by any means, including deadly force.

Not surprisingly, Florida, the first state to adopt the law, saw its gun homicide rate spike above the national average and stay there. Twenty-one more states adopted the law within a year. A 2012 study showed that far from deterring crime, the laws resulted in an increase of murder and manslaughter (500-700 cases per year) in the states that adopted the laws. Moreover, another study by the Tampa Bay Times shows that defendants who took cover under the “Stand Your Ground” law were “significantly” more likely to avoid criminal liability for a homicide if the victim was black.

As Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush worked with the National Rifle Association to pass the law the NRA had written. In April, 2015, Bush attended the NRA’s annual convention and claimed he was second to none in his support of the Second Amendment. He still supports “Stand Your Ground,” describing it as “a sensible law that other states have adopted.”

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Filed under Gun safety, Politics, Race, Shooting

How many more mass shootings?


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When violence is invisible

Bursting into a back room gambling session, a man wearing body armor opened fire with an assault rifle, killing three people and injuring six. It happened yesterday. Haven’t you heard?

Probably not. That’s probably because the incident took place in Detroit, where murder is commonplace, and because most people in Detroit are black, as was the shooter and his victims, so the media don’t pay much attention.

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Filed under American Society, Gun safety

We once walked on the moon . . .

I rarely read Tom Friedman any more, but he’s got this right:

Whenever you’d visit China or Singapore, it was always the people there who used to be on the defensive when discussing democracy. Now, as an American, you’re the one who wants to steer away from that subject. After all, how much should we be bragging about a system where it takes $20 million to be elected to the Senate; or where a majority of our members of Congress choose their voters through gerrymandering rather than voters choosing them; or where voting rights laws are being weakened; or where lawmakers spend most of their free time raising money, not studying issues; or where our Congress has become a forum for legalized bribery; or where we just had a minority of a minority threaten to undermine America’s credit rating if we didn’t overturn an enacted law on health care; or where we can’t pass even the most common sense gun law banning assault weapons after the mass murder of schoolchildren?

All societies rise, peak and decay, usually over a period of centuries. They accomplish great things, then stumble and begin to fade.  Continue reading

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Filed under American Society, Gun safety, Musings, Politics

Kids with guns

Community Reels After 5-Year-Old Kills Little Sister With His New Rifle

Talking Points Memo leads with that story at noon today:

In rural southern Kentucky, some children get their first guns even before they start first grade. In this case, the rifle was made by a company that sells guns specifically for children, in colors ranging from plain brown to hot pink to royal blue to multi-color swirls.

(emphasis mine)

This gun story blew me away. A five-year-old wielding a deadly weapon is bad enough. That he kills his little sister with it is breath-takingly shocking. But I’m still reeling over the marketing of guns specifically to children and increasing their appeal with bright colors.    Continue reading

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