Category Archives: gun violence

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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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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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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Oh, Snap

I know nobody says “Oh, snap” anymore but it seemed an appropriate retort to The Economist’s take on America’s latest mass shooting:

Those who live in America, or visit it, might do best to regard them the way one regards air pollution in China: an endemic local health hazard which, for deep-rooted cultural, social, economic and political reasons, the country is incapable of addressing. This may, however, be a bit unfair. China seems to be making progress on pollution.

Cold, but true. The rest of the world no longer feels sorry for us, and can you blame them?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: unless and until there are economic repercussions for our gun lunacy, things are unlikely to change.

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NOW Is It Time To Have A Conversation About Gun Control?

Horrible news out of Charleston, S.C.:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A white gunman opened fire Wednesday night at a historic black church in this city’s downtown, killing nine people before fleeing and setting off an overnight manhunt, the police said.

South Carolina has the most liberal gun laws in the country, thanks to “reform” recently passed by wingnut Gov. Nikki Haley. And this is the result. The Boston Globe’s Michael Cohen sums up the laws thusly:

globe gun

Gov. Haley and South Carolina politicians who endorse the NRA’s agenda have blood on their hands today. Yes, there is a causal relationship between easy access to firearms and gun violence.

The idea that simple gun control measures wouldn’t have prevented this and thousands of other tragedies across the country every year is ludicrous. The idea that there’s absolutely nothing we can do about this bloodbath is insane. The idea that we have to live with this violence in our communities because Freedom and the Constitution is pure bullshit.

Enough. We do not have to put up with this. This is not how a free people live. This is how free people die.

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When Two Gun Nuts Love Each Other Very, Very Much

This story just went into irony overdrive:

Man Who Shot At George Zimmerman Will Use Stand Your Ground Defense

Matthew Apperson, the man on trial for shooting at George Zimmerman (the man who got acquitted for shooting Trayvon Martin), will argue he acted in self-defense by standing his ground against George Zimmerman (the man who argued he acted in self-defense, essentially by standing his ground against Trayvon Martin.)

According to the AP, Apperson plans to request a Stand Your Ground hearing before his trial begins—a step Zimmerman skipped during his 2012 murder trial.

As I posted last month when this whole incident first happened, Apperson and Zimmerman have a long, tortured history with each other. Both are concealed-carry permit holders. And how exactly is this not the Wild Wild West scenario we’ve always warned about?

Near as I can tell, both of these “responsible citizens” are a public menace.

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The Last Time Science Looked At Gun Violence

Harvard studies. They’re old. This is the kind of stuff that was coming out when the NRA got its minions in the Republican Party to put the kabosh on research into guns, gun crimes and gun safety. Hopefully we’ll be getting some new data now that Obama signed an executive order lifting that ban. But Congress still holds the purse strings, and we all know who’s in charge over there. Plus, after a 20-year funding drought, there just isn’t anyone doing that kind of research anymore. And there’s been a concerted effort to quash any research outside the CDC, too.

Here’s what they don’t want you to know:

We use epidemiological theory to explain why the “false positive” problem for rare events can lead to large overestimates of the incidence of rare diseases or rare phenomena such as self-defense gun use. We then try to validate the claims of many millions of annual self-defense uses against available evidence. We find that the claim of many millions of annual self-defense gun uses by American citizens is invalid.

And …

Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Center, we examined the extent and nature of offensive gun use. We found that firearms are used far more often to frighten and intimidate than they are used in self-defense. All reported cases of criminal gun use, as well as many of the so-called self-defense gun uses, appear to be socially undesirable.

And ….

Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, we investigated how and when guns are used in the home. We found that guns in the home are used more often to frighten intimates than to thwart crime; other weapons are far more commonly used against intruders than are guns.

And ….

Using data from surveys of detainees in six jails from around the nation, we worked with a prison physician to determine whether criminals seek hospital medical care when they are shot. Criminals almost always go to the hospital when they are shot. To believe fully the claims of millions of self-defense gun uses each year would mean believing that decent law-abiding citizens shot hundreds of thousands of criminals. But the data from emergency departments belie this claim, unless hundreds of thousands of wounded criminals are afraid to seek medical care. But virtually all criminals who have been shot went to the hospital, and can describe in detail what happened there.

The lead author on these Harvard studies is David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health. He was interviewed by ABC New about his work in 2013 and the news was grim. He said:

The act of inserting a single gun question into a survey has become increasingly difficult for Hemenway over the years, he said. For instance, when he asked to include whether families owned guns in a survey that had questions about how many alcoholic beverages people drank and how many cigarettes they smoked, he was turned down.

“If you want to know the simplest things, we don’t know,” he said. “We’re not sure even what percent of houses have guns.”

Sure. Because what we don’t know won’t hurt us. And allowing the NRA to control the debate means they can flood the narrative with their own cooked books:

[Dr. Arthur] Kellermann said he’s watched as bumper stickers and slogans replaced statistics and facts over the past two decades. In the last week, a YouTube video of a 15-year-old Maryland girl’s pro-gun speech attracted more than 2.3 million views. She cited statistics, but it’s not clear where they came from.

Oh, I think we know where they came from.

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