Thursday, May 5, 2016

Guns Don’t Kill People, Babies & Toddlers Kill People

Every few months, I revisit the ever-growing penetration of guns (including military-grade assault rifles) into American society. Whenever there is a serial killing, and there is strong call for gun control, guns sales skyrocket. Guns, lots and lots of them, purchased at virtually unregulated gun shows have flowed south across our Mexican border at such a rate – arming cartel soldiers to the teeth – that I wonder why Mexico hasn’t proposed a building a wall and requiring that the U.S. pay for it. While this is a bit longer than most of my blogs, there’s a lot of new material here that really matters to all of us, no matter which side of the political aisle you embrace.
Still the National Rifle Association, coffers brimming with cash from the gun-manufacturers who love them, continues to misread the Second Amendment – convincing its followers that this constitutional provision conveys an absolute and unqualified right for Americans to bear arms. That “well regulated militia” opening phrase of the Amendment is simply ignored. But that 300 million guns projected to be in our nation today continues to grow, and statutes are constantly being passed in Republican stronghold states to allow these guns to be used, legally, with increasing frequency.
“Stand your ground,” “your home is your castle” statutes provide “shoot first and ask questions later” justifications against criminal homicide prosecutions. And where guns can be carried has also expanded significantly of late: “In 2013, at least 19 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry on campus in some regard and in the 2014 legislative session, at least 14 states introduced similar legislation. In 2013, two bills passed, one in Kansas that allows concealed carry generally and one in Arkansas that allows faculty to carry. The Kansas legislation creates a provision that colleges and universities cannot prohibit concealed carry unless a building has ‘adequate security measures.’ Governing boards of the institutions, however, may still request an exemption to prohibit for up to 4 years. Arkansas' bill allows faculty to carry, unless the governing board adopts a policy that expressly disallows faculty to carry. In 2015, Texas became the most recent state to allow concealed carry weapons on college campuses. 
“On the other hand, recent shootings also have encouraged some legislators to strengthen existing firearm regulations. In 2013, five states introduced legislation to prohibit concealed carry weapons on campus. None of these bills passed…
“All 50 states allow citizens to carry concealed weapons if they meet certain state requirements. Currently, there are 19 states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wyoming.
“In 23 states the decision to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on campuses is made by each college or university individually: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
“Because of recent state legislation and court rulings, eight states now have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses. These states are Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. During the 2015 legislative session, Texas' legislature passed a bill permitting concealed weapons on campus and making it the eighth state to permit guns on campus. The legislation will take effect in August 2016.” National Conference of State Legislatures, October 5, 2015.
You can add Tennessee to the list now. “Full-time employees at Tennessee’s public colleges and universities can now carry handguns on campus under a bill that became law [May 2nd], although without the governor’s signature.
“Gov. Bill Haslam (R) returned the bill to the state’s General Assembly on Monday, and in a letter to the speakers of the House and Senate, he explained why he was allowing SB 2376 to become law without his signature.
“‘I have long stated a preference for systems and institutions to be able to make their own decisions regarding security issues on campus, and I again expressed this concern throughout the legislative process this year,’ he said, according to the Tennessean 
“The law, which allows full-time employees to carry concealed handguns, protects higher education institutions from monetary liability for handgun use. Those who want to carry guns on campus have to notify law enforcement and have a valid conceal carry permit. According to the Tennessean, handguns can’t be brought into stadiums or gymnasiums, and the law doesn’t allow students to carry handguns on campus… Faculty and staff also can’t carry concealed handguns in meetings for discussing disciplinary or tenure issues, or into hospitals, according to the Associated Press.” Washington Post, May, 2nd.
Think conservative-favorites, the local police, are happy at this trend? Think again: “In more than a dozen states with traditions of robust support for gun ownership rights, and where legislatures have moved to relax gun laws during the past year, the local police have become increasingly vocal in denouncing the measures. They say the new laws expose officers to greater danger and prevent them from doing their jobs effectively.
“‘We are a gun society and we recognize that, but we should be writing gun laws that make us safer,’ said Leonard Papania, the police chief in Gulfport [Mississippi], who opposes part of a new state law that creates exceptions to the rules for concealed-carry permits. “Do you want every incident on your street to escalate to acts of gun violence?...
“Despite the current conflicts, police officers and gun rights advocates have long been largely on the same side of the national debate over guns. But police departments have insisted that gun owners be required to receive training, as their officers do, and that people with violent histories, who are more likely to clash with the police, be blocked from obtaining weapons. The recent legislation, including ‘constitutional carry laws’ — which typically eliminate the police’s role in issuing permits or questioning people who are openly armed — has frayed the alliance.
“‘What is alarming to the police is that they have no power to ascertain the potential criminal background of an armed individual until a crime is committed, and by then it is too late,’ said Ladd Everitt, the spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, an advocacy group.
“The objections to these laws are not only about officer safety. Law enforcement officials also argue that creating more exceptions to gun regulations will impede investigations. The discovery of an unpermitted weapon typically gives officers probable cause to conduct searches, but some of the new laws could take away that option. In some cases, this has upended longstanding political dynamics, with traditional law-and-order conservatives, who are championing the new gun laws, questioning the tactics of police officers as overly aggressive.” New York Times, May 3rd.
And then there are the kids, particularly the younger ones, who are gaining ground these days in homicide and shooting statistics. “Last year, a Washington Post analysis found that toddlers were finding guns and shooting people at a rate of about one a week. This year, that pace has accelerated. There have been at least 23 toddler-involved shootings since Jan. 1, compared with 18 over the same period last year.
“In the vast majority of cases, the children accidentally shoot themselves. That's happened 18 times this year, and in nine of those cases the children died of their wounds… Toddlers have shot other people five times this year. Two of those cases were fatal: [an] incident in Milwaukee [late April – By the way, between April 20 and May 1, there have been at least seven instances in which a 1- , 2- or 3-year-old shot themselves or somebody else in the United States], and that of a 3-year-old Alabama boy who fatally shot his 9-year-old brother in February… [Guns are now killing as many people as cars in the U.S.]
“These numbers represent only a small fraction of gun violence involving children. For instance, the pro-gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety has found at least 77 instances this year in which a child younger than 18 has accidentally shot someone. And there is a whole different universe of gun violence in which toddlers are shot, intentionally or not, by adults.” The Washington Post, May 1st. Damn, we love guns! Damn, we love guns more than children! Damn! Damn, we can’t even read the plain language of the Second Amendment.
I’m Peter Dekom, and then there’s this really big problem we have when a minority of rural traditionalists create gun laws for a nation where over 80% of its population lives in cities.

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