Good News Friday

Here’s some good news to start the weekend off right. Enjoy!

• Post-Newtown gun control efforts have been more successful than it appears. Despite the failure to pass a national law, state-level efforts have yielded results:

An untold story of the post-Newtown debate over gun control is how much happened at the state level: while the national media deemed gun control impossible after Congress failed to act, eight states made significant or sweeping changes to gun laws, while only four states significantly weakened them, according to analysis by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Mark Follman at Mother Jones crunched the numbers and found that more than half of all Americans now live in a state with stronger gun control laws than existed before Newtown.

• The United Nations’ annual report on hunger says there are now 100 million fewer chronically hungry people compared to 10 years ago.

• Colorado’s county jailers have become the first in the country to reject ICE holds.

• The 260-year-old St. Andrews golf club (officially, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews) has voted to admit women members, effective immediately.

• An International Monetary Fund working paper has concluded that addressing climate change with carbon pricing would have no negative effects on growth and would, in fact, stimulate economic growth.

• Effective immediately, the Air Force has announced that enlistees are no longer required to say “so help me God” as part of their enlistment oath.

Interesting: Scientists discovered two new species of animal back in the 1980s that, after years of research, still defy zoological classification. The discoveries could,

…completely reshape the tree of life, and even our understanding of how animals evolved, how neurosystems evolved, how different tissues evolved … It can rewrite whole textbooks in zoology.

• Vermont’s largest city is now powered completely by renewables.

• Another crack in the glass ceiling: Meet the Mississippi homecoming queen who is also the first female to make her high school’s varsity football team. This is Mississippi, where football is like a second religion, I might add.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• It looks like Tennessee Republicans aren’t total monsters after all: low-income working women in this state will soon get help with child care. Personally, I don’t understand why we don’t have government-sponsored free childcare for everyone. It’s just a no-brainer, especially now while the “job-creators” are sitting around with their thumbs up their asses counting their money and not doing much else. We have a lot of recent college grads who could use some job experience. When I lived in Copenhagen, working in day-care was pretty much everybody’s first job after college.

This week’s video: PUPPEHS! You cannot be unhappy watching this video. It’s just not possible.


Filed under Housekeeping

Tennessee Gun Report


Meanwhile, in Nashville, this happened.

I live three blocks from here. Our cowardly state legislators refuse to do anything. They are completely useless.


Forgot to post this yesterday. One accidental shooting this week, a toddler. Brilliant.

• September 17, 2014:

1- high school football player in Memphis pulled a gun on an assistant coach after an argument. Thankfully, it was a toy gun.

2- Knoxville, Tennessee-based Lucky Gunner is one of four online retailers being sued by the parents of a victim of the Colorado theater shooting for providing ammo and weapons to shooter James Holmes:

The lawsuit says Holmes bought at least 4,300 rounds of ammunition from Lucky Gunner’s website,, and 700 rounds of ammunition and a 100-round magazine from the Sportsman’s Guide website.


Dave Kopel, research director for the Independence Institute, a conservative-leaning Colorado think tank, said the suit will have a difficult time overcoming a federal law that protects the legal manufacture and sale of weapons and ammunition.

Previous lawsuits have attempted but failed to overturn the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, said Kopel, an attorney who represents 53 Colorado sheriffs trying to overturn Colorado’s 2013 gun laws. They are appealing a federal judge’s ruling against them.

I just don’t understand why buying 4,300 rounds of ammo from a website is considered a legal sale of ammunition. The lawsuit also claims the website had no safeguards in place to prevent sales to “persons with criminal intent.”

• Septemeber 15, 2014:

1- A Murfreesboro mom accidentally shot her 11-month old baby when she pulled a 9mm out during a domestic dispute with her boyfriend.

2- A 15-year-old student at a Nashville high school brought a gun to school. She was attempting to sell it to another student.

3- A retired Chattanooga police officer shot his stepson in the leg:

Eidson said he told Ingle that he didn’t want to shoot him. But Ingle then rushed Eidson with his hand over his head in a fist. Eidson said the two bumped and the gun went off, shooting Ingle in the right leg, just above the knee.


Filed under gun control

Lamar Advertising: Hate Profiteers

Notoriously despicable billboard company Lamar Advertising is profiting from homophobia by accepting this billboard north of Nashville. It was apparently paid for and purchased by “concerned Christians.”

Yeah, this is why people are leaving the church in droves. Just stop the crap, already, religious people. Apparently the tone and message has prompted complaints:

Mayor Wilber said he’s well-aware of the discussions surrounding the sign; one resident called him to complain.

“Thought it was not fit for the time that we’re in, just thought it was out of place, just sent a bad message,” he explained.

Good for the people of Portland, Tennessee. And really, Lamar Advertising is profiting from this? What a horrible company. I’m reminded of this story from just a few years ago in which they refused to run ads from Georgia Equality, saying,

…”We just didn’t feel the copy was right for those markets” …

The offending copy?

The billboards proposed by Georgia Equality feature images of professionals, such as a male firefighter and a female doctor, and include tag lines that read, “I protect you. And … I am gay. We Are Your Neighbors.”

Yeah, so not right.

What a bunch of assholes. Profiting from hate never works, Lamar Advertising.


Filed under GLBT, religious right, Tennessee

Congratulations, FL Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour!

From the annals of responsible gun ownership, Florida-style:

A stunt from a 90s Western movie went horribly wrong when a Florida man tried to reenact elaborate gunplay — and shot and killed his sister during her birthday party.

Eric Stayton took a cue from the 1993 flick “Tombstone,” in which actor Michael Biehn, as Johnny Ringo, twirls his pistol during a barroom showdown with Val Kilmer, playing Doc Holliday.

Stayton turned the birthday celebration into a crime scene Saturday night when he accidentally shot his sister, 39-year-old Renee, Chaires, while she was standing next to her 23-year-old daughter and surrounded by about a dozen friends and relatives, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Both Chaires, a hair stylist, and her daughter were celebrating their birthdays.

Stayton was twirling his gun in the air, and as he attempted to put the weapon in his holster, it slipped from his hand, struck the concrete floor and fired.

I guess this time they can blame Hollywood movies and they’d be partially correct.


Filed under gun control

AL Study: More Guns Do Not Equal Less Crime

The idea that more guns = less crime is one of those deeply-held wingnut beliefs which any sensible person knows defies logic and common sense. After all, America has more guns per capita than any other country in the world but we also have one of the highest crime rates.

It’s notoriously hard to detach right-wingers from their cherished myths; remember, these are the same people who remain convinced that lowering taxes increases tax revenues, and “trickle down” is a real thing.

But the main newspaper in Alabama decided to take a look at that state’s number of gun carry permits and compared it to state and country crime statistics, looking to see if any conclusions could be drawn.

It’s an interesting piece. It seems Alabama has the largest number of concealed-carry permits in the country, once all of the out-of-state permits Utah issues are accounted for. Does this correlate with lower crime? Well, not so much: gathered the number of active pistol permits for 63 out of 67 counties. (Four didn’t respond despite repeated requests). But a statistical examination of Alabama’s county-by-county permit rates does not turn up any correlation with rates of serious crime. These offenses consist of homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Higher rates of concealed carry don’t seem to make one Alabama county safer than another, nor do they make a county less safe.

On the pro-gun side, they interviewed the controversial John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center, dutifully noting that Lott is widely regarded as a crank among serious researchers (and if you want to know why, this is a good place to start). They also interviewed Alabama citizens with carry permits, some of whom had personal stories to share about that one time their gun saved them from being a crime victim. Mostly, though, it seems most Alabama CCWers simply repeated the NRA talking points they’ve been fed for years: good guys with guns vs bad guys with guns, criminals won’t mess with people they think are armed, etc.

That last bit is another one of those conservative beliefs taken on faith, absent any proof in reality. Stanford Law’s John Donohue, whose own research joins the increasing pile of data debunking the more guns = less crime theory, says you could just as easily make the opposite argument:

One of the central premises of the deterrence argument is that criminals are reluctant to take on victims they believe are armed. He said the opposite is just as plausible. Perhaps criminals are more likely to arm themselves – or pull the trigger – when they think the victims have guns.

“Probably, the criminal will shoot you quicker in Alabama than in New York City, where they’re not expecting you to have a gun,” he said. “The NRA tends to think of things in terms of checkers, but criminal will think in terms of chess.”

The issue, of course, is much bigger than, “do more guns equal less crime”? Clearly they do not. But they do mean more illegal guns — and the large number of Alabama guns which end up being used in crimes in Illinois, New York, Tennessee, Florida, Connecticut and California highlights something I’ve been saying forever, which is that our hodge-podge of state gun laws have national repercussions. To think guns aren’t being trafficked from easy-access states across state lines by criminal elements is an especially nefarious form of willful ignorance.

There’s also the issue of gun accidents, which this study doesn’t address. I’ve long maintained that we will see an exponential escalation in accidental gun injuries and deaths, what with the post-Obama era of inexperienced, irresponsible people running out to get guns. We shall see.

The American Journal of Medicine did look at the issue of gun ownership and all gun deaths and found a very clear connection:

The team looked at the fraction of people who owned guns across 27 developed nations, including the United States, Switzerland, Finland, Australia and Japan.

Gun ownership was lowest in Japan and highest, by far, in the United States.

Gun ownership rates were strongly correlated with higher death rates from firearms.

In contrast, the incidence of major depression was only weakly linked to firearms-related deaths. (Data on other conditions such as schizophrenia were not widely available.)

And crime didn’t seem to be correlated at all with gun ownership rates. That suggests purchasing a gun doesn’t have an effect on overall crime rates, which include both violent and non-violent crimes.

“We can show that guns don’t make a nation safer,” Bangalore told LiveScience.

The study “provides some very convincing evidence that firearms-related deaths are very strongly correlated with prevalence of guns,” said Dr. Eric Fleegler, a health services researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in the study.

There’s still a lot more research to be done. Now that the CDC and NIH are no longer barred from funding gun violence research, maybe we’ll be getting some answers.

I don’t expect any right-wingers to change their mind. These are the same people who still deny climate change is real, all evidence to the contrary. They’re not operating from an evidence-based worldview, they’re operating from an emotional one. But for those who do use evidence, not emotions, in crafting policy and making important decisions? It’s the death of yet another cherished wingnut myth.


Filed under CCW, gun control

Congratulations, Unidentified OH Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

One of our safest, most responsible gun owners EVAH is, well, not. The headline says it all:

Concealed carry holder misses attacker in Cleveland road rage incident; shoots another man

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland man legally carrying a concealed weapon missed his intended target and struck another man when he opened fire during a road rage incident, police said.

Oh, my. And it just gets worse when you read the story:

The Focus stopped and the three people inside — a 19-year-old man, a 22-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman behind the wheel — argued with the offending driver, a CCW permit holder.

The trio in the Focus left after the argument, but soon returned.

The 22-year-old passenger got out of the Focus and hurled a bottle at the permit holder’s car, cracking the windshield. The permit holder shot at the man as he sprinted away. The shooter missed his target and struck the 19-year-old man sitting in the Focus’ passenger seat.

First of all, firing a gun at someone who threw a bottle at your car is not an appropriate response. Give this idiot extra points for missing the bottle-thrower and hitting the innocent passenger, instead.

Once again, people with guns are dangerous, irresponsible buffoons.

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Filed under gun control

Jim Summerville’s Very Bad No Good Year

So, this just happened:

Tennessee State Sen. Arrested For Public Intoxication In Dickson

DICKSON, Tenn. – Tennessee State Sen. Jim Summerville has been arrested in Dickson County on a charge of public intoxication.

Officials with the Dickson Police Department said Sen. Summerville was arrested Friday night in Dickson after he was seen walking down the street while drinking an alcoholic beverage from a glass mug.

Police said Summerville was spotted walking down the street while carrying a lawn chair in the McCreary Heights area.

Hmm. Okie dokie. Summerville is yet another of Tennessee’s crackpot racist Republicans known for “controversial” legislation like banning affirmative action. Oh, and there was that time where he said he “didn’t give a rat’s ass” what the black caucus thought. However, in August he was primaried, and lost to someone who could possibly be even crazier than he. In response, Summerville resigned from Tennessee’s Republican caucus and said he was henceforth an independent. In his concession speech, Summerville quoted Lord Byron.

I shit you not.

In the irony department, when Summerville’s anti-affirmative action effort failed, this happened:

Last year, he proposed a measure to eliminate affirmative action initiatives from higher education institutions in Tennessee. After the legislation failed, Summerville threatened GOP lawmakers who voted against it, saying they would face repercussions in this year’s election.

Right. So the guy who said there will be repercussions for not doing what he wanted lost his primary and just got arrested for public intoxication. Brilliant.

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Filed under Tennessee, TNGOP