Accidental Shootings Are So Embarrassing

News that Tennessee leads the nation in fatal accidental shootings has prompted the TN Dept. of Health to “correct” the data, from 105 to… wait for it…. five.

While 105 may indeed be wrong, five defies credibility. Especially when looking at previous years’ numbers:

2010 — 31

2011 — 31

2012– 24

2013 — 19

2014 — five…?

Safe Tennessee says they tracked 13 for 2015 and 12 so far this year. So five fatalities in 2014 is clearly bogus.

I started the Tennessee Gun Report in 2013, never intending to create a data base and research tool, but rather to highlight the public safety costs associated with Tennessee’s pro-gun policies. However, the tool is there. It’s imperfect: links to many news stories are now dead, there’s a lack of follow-up (too many reports of a victim “fighting for their life,” not enough updates on the outcome of that battle), too many weeks where I was too busy to track the local papers.

Still, I spent last night going through the 2014 archive and found 13 accidental gun fatalities. Definitely more in line with the numbers we’ve been seeing. And again, even this is imperfect.

There’s a real story here, and it’s just as embarrassing as the TN Dept. of Health revising a ridiculously off-base number with one equally incredible. It’s that nobody knows what the hell is going on because ignorance is more politically tenable than facts. The state legislature has unleashed a rash of liberal gun laws on the public: anyone wanting to avoid being around firearms is now forced to interact with gun owners in public places like restaurants, parks, the workplace, etc.

Shouldn’t we be interested in knowing what the public health and safety repercussions of that are?

Clearly, the state is unable to accurately track this data. And I can attest that the job is too big for one private citizen to do, too.

We need real data, of the kind funded by the Federal government. It’s long past time for people to grow a pair and stand up to the NRA and TN Firearms Assn. on this issue.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

I Have Questions 

Kudos to law enforcement for their quick apprehension of the Texas bombing suspect.

Wait, Texas? Yup:

Cary Lee Ogborn, 50, was arrested late Friday after retrieving a package he thought contained explosives powerful enough to maim or kill people or destroy buildings.

This is the other terror plot from last weekend, the one cable news ignored, probably because the guy’s name is Cary Lee Ogborn, not something Muslim-y like Ahmed or Mohammed.

I’d like to know where Ogborn was radicalized. Did he act alone? Did he belong to a church or other group which spread anti-U.S. beliefs? Is he part of a larger network, or is he a “lone wolf”? What materials did he read, what radio shows did he listen to, what websites did he visit?

We may never know because this story has gone virtually ignored.

If I find out I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I’m without a computer this week, and am posting this via my iPhone. Please forgive any mistakes or typos.


Filed under eco-terrorism, Housekeeping, terrorism

Bad Advertising Idea, 9/11 Edition

Hawking mattresses with a 9/11 sale is tacky enough, but Miracle Mattress of San Antonio, Texas outdid itself by re-creating the collapse of New York City’s Twin Towers with stacks of mattresses representing the World Trade Center:

In the social media video ad that has since been pulled, Cherise Bonanno appears on screen with two men standing by two stacks of mattresses, one topped by a U.S. flag.

“What better way to remember 9/11 than with a Twin Tower sale?” Bonanno says. “Right now you can get any sized mattress for a twin price.”

The men knock over the towers of bedding. Bonanno then lets out a small scream and says: “We will never forget.”

Jesus. Was there nobody around to knock some sense into these folks?

I’m not the most sentimental person out there, and I’ve come to see some of our annual 9/11 commemorations as over the top. But even I am offended by this particular brand of tackiness.


Filed under advertising

Tennessee Finally #1 At Something

Congratulations, Tennessee!

Tennessee now ranks first in the nation for fatal unintentional shootings according to the most recent data from The Centers for Disease Control. Previously, Tennessee ranked 9th based on statistics from 2013, when 19 Tennesseans died in accidental shootings. In 2014, the number jumped to 105. Unintentional shootings involving adults most often occur when gun owners fail to clear the chamber before cleaning or handling firearms or when loaded guns are dropped. Unintentional shootings involving children most often occur when children gain access to unsecured, loaded guns that have not been safely stored


“We’ve actually been aware of the new numbers for several months, but the increase was so dramatic that we wanted to confirm the numbers before reporting them,” said Beth Joslin Roth, Policy Director for The Safe Tennessee Project. “We reached out to the CDC who explained that the numbers in their national database were uploaded directly from the state health departments. We then reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health who checked their records and verified that the numbers were in fact correct.

From 9th to #1 in just a couple years. It’s almost as if allowing guns in more places and telling everyone they need to get a handgun permit was a stupid idea.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

Brute Strength

We all know conservatives have Daddy Issues, but fer crying out loud, they’ve actually started worshipping dictators and authoritarians? First Hugh Hewitt praises Vladimir Putin for being a “strong leader” compared to our “weak” POTUS, and then this from Republican pollster and political spinmeister Frank Luntz:



He knows that people who don’t profess support for North Korea’s dear leader find themselves before a firing squad, right? Was this supposed to be a joke?

Is this some kind of projection resulting from their own cultural impotence?


Filed under conservatives, Republican Party

Tennessee Gun Report

I’m so far behind on this it ain’t even funny. The problem with tracking gun accidents and gun fail in general is that there’s so much, after a while one gets overwhelmed. So I sorta stopped looking, to be honest. I took August off. So, here are some of the most notable incidents over the past month, but it’s by no means a comprehensive list. According to the Safe Tennessee Project, the number of accidental shootings in TN this year has already surpassed all of 2015.

By the way, this article is in the current issue of Vanity Fair (the one with bikini-clad Margot Robbie on the cover.) I say it’s a definite must-read. It’s a fascinating look at the NRA, now more vulnerable than ever. One thing I hadn’t considered was the impact of 3-D printers on the gun manufacturers; since that is who the NRA really represents, the time is fast coming when they will have to draw a line in the sand on their “guns here, guns there, guns everywhere” stance.

Without further ado, your roundup of Tennessee gunfail.

• September 4, 2016:

1- Stray bullets rain down on a toddler’s birthday party at Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge:

Whitney Smith was hosting the party for her son Ty’s fifth birthday when the celebration was interrupted by a shower of bullets.

Several unidentified people were shooting guns in a field on one side of Melton Hill Lake as stray bullets came across the lake to an area where the party was being held.

No one was hurt during the incident and no one has been charged.

No one charged; duck and cover, kids! You’re in Tennessee!

2- Lower Broadway is Nashville’s tourist district. It’s sorta like Bourbon Street or Beale Street every weekend down there. Bars, honky tonks, and the Bridgestone Arena are all in the vicinity. So it can’t be good for business to learn it’s also a place where someone can get shot by a stray bullet:

Kyle Freeman, 23, of Smyrna says he did not realize he was shot at first.

Freeman was walking with friends near the intersection of 2nd avenue and Broadway when he says he felt pain on the upper left side of his back.

Freeman says he continued walking a block before he realized he was shot and notified police.

He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Despite the large crowd downtown, no one saw anyone with a gun.

Good grief. The only time I go downtown anymore is to go to a hockey game. Guess I’d better wear Kevlar. And by the way, this is not the first time this has happened: see the July 5, 2016 entry from this edition of the Tennessee Gun Report.

• September 1, 2016:

A responsible gun owner responsibly tried to bring their loaded gun through security at the Memphis airport.

• August 31, 2016:

A Nashville toddler accidentally shot himself with dad’s gun. Dad is a licensed security guard with a handgun permit. Safest, most responsible, etc.

• August 29, 2016:

Someone accidentally shot himself in the leg in Greeneville. Or as we call it, Monday:

The victim and his wife both told deputies that Wolfe was in a downstairs bathroom pulling up his pants when a .22 caliber derringer pistol that he kept in a small nylon cellphone case clipped to his waistband discharged.

The case fell from the waistband while still in the case and discharged when it hit the floor, and a bullet hit Wolfe in the leg, the report said.

That gun sure kept him safe, though.

• August 23, 2016:

Four Tennessee firearms executives have been sentenced for illegal gun running.

• August 22, 2016:

Drugs and a BB gun were found in a Gibson County high school student’s car.

• August 18, 2016:

In Franklin, an 11-year-old found a loaded gun in the family’s Hertz Rent-A-Car.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – A man’s child found a loaded gun in the backseat of their rental car, while his two other children were also in the back seat.

In Franklin, a man’s 11-year-old found a loaded gun in the backseat of their Hertz Rent-a-Car:

It happened after Mike Burk’s 11-year-old son Carter found the gun, and Carter said he’s just glad he found it and not his little brother.

“It was out, it was a gun, and it was facing Mason,” said Carter Burk.

Burk dialed 911 and drove to the Franklin police station and waited for officers to come out and expect the weapon.

Officers confiscated the weapon, but said it was not stolen, and no laws appeared to have been broken. Yet, Mike Burk said he will be doing his own thorough inspections from now on.

Ohhh no laws were broken, so we’re all good! Shouldn’t there be a law against leaving your gun lying around like that? By the way, was there ever an update on this story? Not that I saw. Maybe I missed something. I’d sure like to know who left that gun behind and if they were charged with negligence.

Oh, and this is not the first time this has happened, either. See here and here, for starters. Nothing to see … move along.

• August 17, 2016:

1- An employee of the gift shop at the Memphis airport brought their [loaded] gun to work, and the TSA employee who let her through security got fired for it:

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) – A TSA officer at Memphis International Airport resigned after a gift shop employee was accused of bringing a loaded gun inside the airport.

TSA security lines were shut down and passengers were stopped from leaving the airport on Monday afternoon during the incident.

According to the police report, a TSA agent noticed a strange object inside Paradies employee Shwundra Boxiley’s bag. An agent, who did not check the bag, gave it back to Boxiley, who then left the checkpoint area.


2- Two teens at Giles County High School were arrested on weapons charges. This is the part I love:

According to a press release, Orlando Ray Jr. was seen in the car rider line waiving a weapon out the window.

Stupid kids.

• August 13, 2016:

A Rockwood police officer accidentally fired a live round during a drill at a middle school.

• August 9, 2016:

A Hendersonville dad accidentally shot and killed his 11-year-old daughter on the first day of school, then lied to police about it:

He told police that he shot his daughter after being awakened by a sound in the house. He said he got the gun from his dresser and shot it.


Originally, police were told that Timea was shot between the bus stop near their home and their house. Police were told the young girl went into the house and told her dad that she had been shot.

After obtaining a search warrant to enter the home, police discovered that Timea had actually been shot inside the home.

Multiple charges have been filed because dad is a felon who shouldn’t have had a gun and he lied about what happened. Which makes me feel so much safer, considering shit like this happens all the time to non-felons, who aren’t charged at all.

• August 8, 2016:

A Rutherford County sheriff’s deputy had his rifle stolen from his patrol car.

• August 1, 2016:

In Murfreesboro, a kid found his uncle’s gun on the bedroom dresser and accidentally fired it into the apartment downstairs.

• July 14, 2016:

Guns in cars, in Murfreesboro:

Officers were told that the driver of a Nissan Titan pulled in front of another driver traveling southeast near the corner of Northwest Broad Street and Van Cleve Avenue about 5:45 p.m., according to the incident report.

The driver of the other vehicle was forced to stop abruptly when the truck pulled in front of him. When he pulled into the left lane of traffic alongside the truck’s driver, the suspect pointed a semiautomatic compact gun at him and shouted expletives, the report stated.

The suspect, whom the driver described as a white male in his 20s with facial hair and a red cast on his thumb, was last seen on North Thompson Lane, the report stated.

Angry white 20-something males waving guns around to compensate for their sense of powerlessness. Almost like it’s a trend now.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

Mas Tacos!

Hey Democrats! Are you ready to turn Election Day 2016 into Taco Tuesday? I think we are!

Ever since Latinos For Trump founder Marco Gutierrez made his bizarre statement about taco trucks on every corner if we don’t do something, now!, Democrats have had a good time trolling this weird bit of fearmongering. I mean, I’m so old, I remember when Republicans fearmongered about mushroom clouds and duct tape & plastic sheeting. Now it’s taco trucks and lesbian farmers? Guys, you aren’t even trying anymore!

Not long after the taco truck comment, Hillary Clinton Tweeted this photo:


Then came the Denver Democrats, who set up a taco truck outside Trump’s Denver campaign HQ, where they registered voters:


Then the Arizona Democrats hosted a taco truck outside their Phoenix office today and mocked the Republicans with this sign:


And in Detroit, the owners of Tacos el Caballo parked their taco truck outside the church where Donald Trump did his “black outreach” today, where they did brisk business:


Ah, the eternal joy of the Trump Surrogate. The gift that keeps on giving!

I, for one, welcome our taco truck overlords. So if this is the Republican dystopian future, bring it on! There is a taco truck right outside my workplace (yes, on a corner, why do you ask?) and I have enjoyed delicious chicken tacos for a mere $2 and a wonderful, cane sugar Mexican Coke on more than one occasion. But while it’s fine to laugh about this, I must say, I’m very disturbed by Gutierrez’s comment. Because what he said, his entire comment, was this:

My culture is a very dominant culture, and it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”

Let that one sink in for a minute. He’s saying the problem is the Latino culture, and uses food as an example of that. He’s not talking about jobs, or crime, or “free stuff,” any of the other bullshit arguments people like Donald Trump have used to justify their hard-line attitude toward immigrants, documented or otherwise. He says the problem is his culture.

How fucked up is that? Every wave of immigrants to these shores has brought their native culture with them and in the process of assimilation, enriched American life. We have Christmas trees because of German and Scandinavian immigrants. We have spaghetti suppers and St. Patrick’s Day because of the Italians and Irish. We have salsa dancing because of the South Americans and Cubans. We have the blues and jazz and Creole food and quilting and a hundred other wonderful things because of African culture. Chinese and Japanese food are incredibly popular in the U.S. Etc. etc. etc. And that’s just the obvious stuff.

The idea that someone would be so self-hating as to say the problem is their culture just boggles the mind.


Filed under 2016 Election

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

It takes a special kind of genius to be sitting on the john with your .357 and fire it by accident, sending the bullet into your neighbors’ house. But that’s just what this one fellow did:

Police: Man accidently fires gun while on toilet

Police say a 22-year-old man was sitting on his toilet Saturday afternoon on the 1000 block of Bonnie Court when he accidentally discharged a .357 Magnum pistol and fired a bullet into his neighbor’s home.

Moscow Police Capt. Paul Kwiatkowski said the bullet went through a wall, television and window before traveling through the door of a home on Rodeo Drive.

No one was injured.

Police cited the man for suspicion of discharging a weapon inside city limits.

Especially distressing is that he was cited for “discharging a weapon inside city limits,” not, you know, negligent handling of a firearm. Extra points for hitting a house on “Rodeo Drive.” Wild, Wild West, y’all.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns

Ruining Nashville For Fun And Profit

Nashville is a progressive city, in many regards a liberal city. But all of that is window dressing for the kind of city Nashville truly is: a developer’s city. Always has been, always will be. Developers own this town (always have, always will) and each successive liberal, progressive Democratic mayoral administration seems perfectly happy to turn our quality of life, livability, sustainability and affordability over to the leeches who have sucked this city dry of all that made it special in the first place.

A perfect example of this is our policy regarding short-term rental properties, aka AirBnB, VRBO, etc. Last year Nashville’s Metro Council passed a law regulating (and taxing) these rentals, the logic being not doing so would push this activity underground and cause the city to miss out on a revenue source. Ever since it’s been a nightmare for neighbors and overwhelmed our zoning department:

Enforcing these regulations has forced Nashville inspectors and zoning enforcement employees to devote a large part of their time just to check on short-term renters. What the city thought would be permitting for 200 individuals and investors turned into more than 1,000 applications.

“Since we set our first date for permitting, it has absolutely inundated our department,” Herbert said in an interview with The Courier-Journal.

We’re actually closer to 2,000 now. The ordinance as passed is completely unenforceable, and therefore useless. It has also enriched developers mightily, while making Nashville’s housing crisis worse. That’s because in Music City we allow both kinds of STRs — those operated by actual homeowners, and those operated by LLCs.

The image rental platforms like AirBnB present is of a carriage house or extra room rented out on weekends by a nice family living in the main house; the owners are people who are on-site and available to monitor their renters and able to make a little extra cash to pay their mortgage. Indeed, that is the very image that is pushed by right-wing think tanks like the Beacon Center, an ALEC-spinoff which has sued Metro Nashville over its ordinance (no doubt at the behest of AirBnB lobbyists). Those rental situations may indeed exist but in Nashville, they are not typical. The typical short-term rental in Nashville, at a whopping 80%, are investor-operated businesses, condos and apartments.

And herein lies the problem: years ago, Metro Nashville’s Planning Department (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the private, for-profit development community) commissioned a study about population growth trends. This study found — shocker! — that the region was expected to grow by a whopping 1 million residents, prompting headlines like this one in our developer-friendly news media:


Thus launched the long-range plan for Nashville’s growth known as “NashvilleNext,” which included the usual dog and pony shows known as “community input meetings.” I went to a few of these meetings. Attendees were given tasks like putting colored stickers on a map to indicate where they want to accommodate these newcomers; I know of one such meeting in which attendees crammed their stickers into the city cemeteries. Not exactly a useful exercise, but I digress.

The point of this was to give the process the veneer of “community input,” while the Planning Department went ahead and did what it (and the developers) wanted. Thus our new long-range plan calls for infill in our wealthy and desirable neighborhoods. The large lots and green space we once enjoyed are now filled with the dreaded “tall-skinnies,” detached properties which in defiance of all logic are still called “duplexes” under Nashville’s weird definition of a duplex. They loom over their neighbors and sit on concrete pads where one house with a yard and trees used to be.

We have been told by our city leaders that we need to accommodate this infill, that “everyone needs to do their part,” and take that loss of our neighborhood character and history on the chin because “ZOMG a million people are coming!”. And yet, after five years of a building boom and with thousands of new homes being built all over town, we’re still seeing headlines like this one:

Nashville struggling to meet demand for new homes

With all of this building going on, why are so many new houses showing up on AirBnB, VRBO, etc., as short-term rentals for bachelorette parties? Nashville, why are you doing this? If we truly have a housing shortage, why are you letting developers and real estate companies clear away lots that contain perfectly good homes — many times, even, the affordable “workforce” housing we so desperately need — only to build luxurious new homes that are then used by tourists? Why?

Why allow properties like this one, in the so-hot-I-gotta-wear-gloves 12South Neighborhood:


Or these in the (once historic, now transformed) Germantown neighborhood:


Or this in the East Nashville neighborhood, one of four adjacent tall-skinnies, all rented out to tourists and therefore off the market to be used as actual housing:


And it’s not just new houses. Old houses are off the market, reserved for tourists. Entire apartment complexes are being built, not for the housing we desperately need, but so developers can make money on the short-term rental market. This has made developers very rich, but it hasn’t helped Nashville’s housing crunch, and it’s also removed any free-market controls on overbuilding. Great for developers, not so great for us residents.

I have a few AirBnBs in my neighborhood. So far, most are in condo complexes on my street. These are condos that could be rented out to someone who needs housing, but instead profits some real estate company. I didn’t even know they were there, though I did wonder at the strangers I suddenly saw walking down my street, people I’d never seen before. One couple in particular I thought were homeless and living in the neighborhood park. (Sorry, dred-locked and tattooed tourists: hipster or homeless is a real thing.) When I saw them walking through a neighbor’s yard, I grew alarmed … then saw they were just taking a short-cut to an apartment. Never saw them again after that weekend, and so I’m guessing they were guests at the AirBnB I saw listed on the platform. Thanks for letting us all know, guys.

Telling us we have to build build build to accommodate projected growth and then not putting those houses and apartments on the market for actual residents is the kind of move that makes me call bullshit on Nashville’s planning agenda. It’s one of those glorious moves you can expect from a developer-owned town. Tell everyone we need to build like crazy, then let those houses sit empty most of the time. If Nashville’s city leaders really gave a crap about housing, they wouldn’t have allowed LLCs to operate short-term rentals in the first place.

Our Metro Council is currently weighing in on some tweaks to the STR ordinance, while our state legislature is looking at House and Senate bills that would prohibit municipalities from regulating or taxing short-term rentals at all (of course they are!). It’s all fun and games until someone gets a party house next door.


Filed under Nashville

Orlando Has PTSD

That’s the best explanation I have for this:

About 3:20 p.m., mall patrons began reporting on social media that an alleged shooting had occurred in the food court after hearing sharp popping sounds and a fire alarm. The unsettling sounds sent fearful patrons running from the mall.

Orange County Fire Medical and Orange County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the scene, but there was no gunman, OCSO spokeswoman Deputy Rose Silva said.

Instead, the scare was caused by an industry-standard test as part of the inspection for the grand opening of former ‘NSync singer Joey Fatone’s new restaurant, Silva said. An announcement was made over the mall’s public announcement system prior to the test preparing customers for the noise.

“The test consisted of six large balloons popping consecutively, followed by a fire alarm,” Silva said. “This caused people to go into panic mode and run.”

At least 10 people were injured in the ensuing panic, “mostly falls, scrapes and twisted knees.” I guess when your city is home to the nation’s deadliest mass shooting, fears of an active shooter are understamndably prevalent. Indeed, an Apple Store employee said,

“I lost two friends at Pulse, so of course that was my first thought,” he said.

Levane said he ran to the farthest corner of the parking lot, something he learned last week when the store held active shooter training. He called his mother while running and told her he loved her.

Welcome to the NRA’s America. We are truly a nation which has lost its innocence.


Filed under gun control, gun violence, Guns