Sign of the Times

Sign in front of what I affectionately call the Wingnut Bible Church located near my house:

WingnutBibleChurch

The Wingnut Bible Church appears in this space about once a year. Last year they were (illegally) advertising a fringe U.S. State Senate candidate. Every Memorial Day and July Fourth they put dozens of American flags out on their lawn, too. Because Jesus was totally all about America, you guys.

Wonder if they’ll go all in with the American flag display this Independence Day or if they’re so disgusted with SCOTUS that they’ll take a pass.

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Filed under gay equality, GLBT, Nashville, Tennessee

Congratulations, Unidentified Texas Man Joseph Austin of Kansas! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

[UPDATE]:

He was trying to unload the gun when it fired and another man was nicked in the leg.

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Dude, seriously? At the airport?

HOUSTON (KTRK) — A gun was accidentally fired at the ticket counter inside Bush Airport today.

According to airport officials, a passenger at the Delta ticket counter in Terminal A had a gun in his carry-on baggage and was taking it out to check it in. That’s when it reportedly fired inside the bag.

The man was detained and questioned at the airport. He’s facing a deadly conduct charge, which is a Class A misdemeanor.

Safest, most responsible ever? How about safest, most responsible NEVER!

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TN Legislature Grandstanding Over Nonexistent Threat

Apparently Tennessee legislators are unfamiliar with the First Amendment of our Constitution because they have been crafting a “Pastor Protection Act” to make sure no pastors are forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies:

A new bill in Tennessee seeks to “protect” churches and clergy from performing same-sex marriages. But is it necessary?

The move comes after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage on Friday. State Reps. Bryan Terry and Andy Holt anticipated the Supreme Court ruling and have been working on the bill for several months, reports Nashville’s CBS affiliate.

Both representatives reject the validity of yesterday’s decision. “God is the ultimate Supreme Court and he has spoken. Marriage is between one man, and one woman,” Representative Holt said in a press release.

The proposed law would reiterate protections already in place. As Representative Terry noted, “The First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.” He also cited Article 1 Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution and said “personal freedom of religion is protected and no human authority can interfere in the rights of conscience.”

Oh. So they know this law is unncessary but they want to “reiterate” protections already in place because Tennessee politicians can never pass up an opportunity to grandstand on the culture wars. Which they are always losing, I might add.

Hey, if you guys want to write in stone how you’re yet again on the wrong side of history, be my guest.

What this really comes down to, of course, is religious conservatives wanting to be protected from criticism for being on the wrong side of history. Sure as day follows night, there will be a case where a same-sex couple wants to use a pavilion or building owned by a religious non-profit and they will be denied — legally. And it will hit social media, and they will be mocked for their recidivist stance, and there will be pearls to be clutched and couches on which to faint, and once again conservatives will confuse free speech with the free hand.

This will happen because this always happens. Hell, churches around the South still have a problem with interracial couples.

So why don’t we dispense with the bullshit and remind everyone that nobody is forcing anyone to perform a ceremony they don’t want to perform — hell, religious groups have been refusing to officiate ceremonies between divorced couples, interfaith couples, etc. since forever. None of that is changing. Lots of churches already refuse to rent out their buildings for weddings to couples who are not church members. Why? Because weddings are a huge pain in the ass for church staff.

So nothing is going to change. And every time you idiots grandstand about how God doesn’t wants gays to get married and God Hates Fags and all that crap we’re going to mock you and tell you you’re wrong and call you names. And that noise is just going to get louder and louder.

[ALSO, let me repeat: Tennessee Republicans are really off the mark when they grandstand on the homophobic crap but can’t be bothered to grandstand with a vote of disapproval when the goddamn Ku Klux Klan holds their annual meeting at one our state parks.]

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Filed under culture wars, gay equality, GLBT, religious right, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

Congratulations, Unidentified HI Man! You’re Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour!

In Maui, Hawaii, a man accidentally shot his brother while cleaning his handgun:

Police said the victim’s 25-year-old brother had finished cleaning his .40-caliber handgun and was racking a round in the chamber when he accidentally pressed the trigger to discharge the bullet. It went through a bedroom closet door and through an adjacent bathroom wall to strike the victim, who was standing in front of a shower stall, police said.

Police said that the man who discharged the firearm had a strong odor of liquor on his breath.

Cleaning your gun while drunk. What could be safer or more responsible?

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Filed under gun control, Guns

Summer In Tennessee: An Abbreviated Gun Report

I’m sorry I don’t have time to keep the gun report going but we did have two accidental shootings (at least) reported this week.

First, I want to call everyone’s attention to the excellent HBO documentary, Requiem For The Dead: American Spring 2014. I hadn’t heard anything about this documentary at all, and just stumbled across it while channel surfing last night. I found it riveting and tragic and enlightening — even for me, who considers herself rather well-informed on the issue of gun violence.

The first thing you notice is how young the victims are. Many of them young teens — people with their entire futures ahead of them. The second thing you notice is how random and how senseless it all is. Gun victims are of all colors and ethnicities, it’s not something that happens “in that neighborhood” or “to those people.”

Give it a look-see, maybe consider having a viewing party. These peoples’ stories deserve to be shared.

Without further ado:

• June 25, 2015:

1- A 13-year-old Roan Mountain boy accidentally shot himself in the leg:

Lacy said her son had been in his brother’s bedroom at 246 Ingram Branch Roan on Tuesday. She said her son noticed a .38-caliber revolver and thought it was a toy gun. The boy pulled the trigger on the gun, shooting himself in the right calf.

2- Guns and ammo stolen from a home in Greenville. I guess locking this shit in a safe is too hard for y’all to manage. FAIL.

• June 24, 2015:

This kind of incident normally wouldn’t make the Gun Report but it happened literally one block from my house, at a time when I’m ordinarily walking the dog while Mr. Beale does the dinner dishes:

At about 7 p.m., the woman was walking to her vehicle in the 1600 block of Woodmont Boulevard when a suspect approached her with a handgun, took her purse off her shoulder and ran away, said Metro police Capt. Michael Alexander.

So here’s a question: I know the pro-gun crowd thinks everyone should be carrying to prevent such a thing from happening, but if the victim had a gun in her purse, what good would it have done? In fact, it just would have given the thief a second gun! Unless we’re all supposed to be walking around with guns in our hands, like cops on TV or something. Stupid.

• June 23, 2015:

An East Knoxville woman was accidentally shot in the hand and leg at a barbecue when another guest was showing a friend his gun.

• June 19, 2015:

1- Clarksville police say they are seeing more guns and more fights turning deadly due to guns. Gee, I wonder why. Thinking ….

More people are now carrying loaded guns in their vehicles, and legally. Despite what many people believe, a law passed in Tennessee last year allows anyone who can legally own a gun to carry loaded weapons in their vehicles.

That can be in a seat, glove box or under a seat. So long as the person is not a felon or otherwise restricted from owning firearms, there’s nothing to stop someone from having a loaded handgun, shotgun or rifle within reach, said Capt. Craig Gipson, who oversees the Clarksville Police Department’s Special Operations Unit.

Before the state legislature changed the law last year, only people with state-issued handgun carry permits could legally keep loaded guns in their vehicles. Anyone without a permit could keep guns only if unloaded with the ammunition stored separately.

“We just see more on the street than ever before,” said Clarksville Police Chief Al Ansley.

And it’s not just in cars. Police are seeing more guns being drawn and fired during fights.

Ansley said the presence of more guns can quickly escalate an argument or scuffle into something far more dangerous.

“We have seen a lot of guns and weapons,” he said. “Especially compared to 10 or 15 years ago.”

Wow, I thought more guns was supposed to make us safer? Guess not!

2- In Memphis, a woman says her next-door neighbor pulled a gun on her and her 7-year-old daughter over a parking space. Armed/polite, yada yada.

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

What We Don’t Know Is Hurting Us

So, this just happened today:

A GOP-led panel blocked a proposal Wednesday that would have reversed a nearly 20-year-old ban on funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research on gun violence.

The House Appropriations Committee voted 32-19 against ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey’s (D-N.Y.) amendment to a bill that would fund health, education and labor programs in the next fiscal year.

Wonder what they’re afraid of. The truth, perhaps? That they’ve been spreading bullshit NRA propaganda? Probably. See my May 27 post, The Last Time Science Looked At Gun Violence. I think it’s pretty crystal clear what they’re afraid of.

Well, we all know who owns the Republican Party now.

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Filed under Congress, gun control, gun violence, Guns, Republicans

How Other Countries Do It

Australia responded to the brutal Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were mowed down by enacting strict gun control laws accompanied by a mandatory buyback program. That was in 1996.

Australians still have guns — they hunt, and yes they have hunting accidents and they have gun cleaning accidents. And they have gun smuggling — and let me note without irony that a lot of those illegal weapons come from right here in the USA and right here in Nashville, even.

What they don’t have are mass shootings. There hasn’t been one in 20 years. During that same time America has had dozens of mass shootings.

Here’s what’s interesting about Australia’s gun control legislation and buyback program: it not only led to a decrease in the gun homicide rate, it led to a huge drop in firearm suicides:

So what have the Australian laws actually done for homicide and suicide rates? Howard cited a study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University finding that the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides. That provided strong circumstantial evidence for the law’s effectiveness.

The paper also estimated that buying back 3,500 guns per 100,000 people resulted in a 35 to 50 percent decline in the homicide rate, but because of the low number of homicides in Australia normally, this finding wasn’t statistically significant.

What is significant is the decline the laws caused in the firearm suicide rate, which Leigh and Neill estimate at a 74 percent reduction for a buyback of that size. This is even higher than the overall decline in the suicide rate, because the gun buybacks’ speed varied from state to state. In states with quick buybacks, the fall in the suicide rate far exceeded the fall in states with slower buybacks.

The experience of other countries proves that gun control, not more guns, makes us safer. We can look at the facts, or we can continue to froth and foam at the mouth and repeat NRA bumper sticker slogans. I’m not a robot, and all the trolls repeating “universal background checks wouldn’t have prevented this universal background checks wouldn’t have prevented this universal background checks wouldn’t have prevented this” ad nauseum are simply making the argument that we need much stronger gun control laws than the weak compromises our side keeps offering. And as Australia proves, no law will stop every gun tragedy but I’ll take zero gun massacres over three dozen any day. Finally, with the USA being a source of the world’s illegal guns, stricter gun control wouldn’t just make Americans safer, it would make the world safer.

Which makes gun manufacturers very, very scared. That is the absolute last thing they want. But when your profit margin depends on global murder and mayhem, you’ve lost the moral argument.

I’ll close with this video, which I’ve posted several times before, but I can never see it too often. Australian comedian Jim Jeffries’ take on gun control is a classic that should be mandatory viewing. Lots of F-bombs so if you’re at work, maybe pop in the earbuds:

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Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns