The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 4, 2014: Yes, Virginia, There Have Been More Mass Shootings

Yahoo! News has obtained an FBI study scheduled for release next week that shows what many of us have suspected has been happening: mass shootings are on the rise. The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, for purposes of this report, define mass shootings “as incidents where a gunman opens fire in a public place with the motivation of killing many, at least one of whom is ‘unrelated’ to the gunman.” They did not include bank robberies, drug deals, gang violence, or any crimes where shooting is a byproduct. The information will be used to shape police response to reports of an active shooting. Of course, if guns weren’t so easily available, there would be fewer mass shootings to which to respond.

Since 2008, mass shootings have tripled from about five per year to about sixteen. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. It means that about every three weeks, someone, somewhere in the US, for some reason, is going to take a gun and open fire on a bunch of strangers who did nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Have you ever known a mass shooter? Probably not, which means the next one is also likely to be a stranger to you, and you to him. So if we don’t do something about the prevalence of mass shootings, you could be one of the next victims.

“According to the new study, patrol officers, who are usually the first on the scene, had to use force to stop the gunman in nearly a third of the attacks.” This may seem wrong, at first blush, if you are familiar with the Mother Jones report that showed that no “good guy with a gun stopped the bad guy with a gun.” But there is no inconsistency. The standards for which shootings got chosen for the two studies were different.

There is no reason we have to put up with this. Every time one of these events occurs, the NRA is quick to say that it would be disrespectful to the victims to “politicize” their deaths to discuss the subject, and so we don’t. This is hypocrisy, of course, because politicizing the shootings is exactly what they’re doing when they say we shouldn’t discuss it. And since the next shooting is usually less than a month away, and the calls for silencing the debate once again being spewed from pro-gun media, the discussion ends up never taking place. And more people die needlessly. The Second Amendment needs to be repealed or completely re-written to be clearer. Nobody would deny that you have no constitutional right to own a thermonuclear weapon, so we must all agree that the 2nd Amendment, like all other constitutional rights, has limits. The discussion on what those limits are can wait no longer. Don’t you agree? Or do you enjoy watching small children die?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss mass shootings, brain dead NRA officials, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 22, 2012: No, Wayne, We Don’t Need More Guns

In the aftermath of one of the most horrific mass shootings in our nation’s long history of mass shootings (see partial list of recent mass shootings here), David Keene, President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) the began an announcement to the press “for the purposes of beginning our discussion of the topic that’s been on the mind of American parents across this country, and that is, what do we do about the tragedies of the sort that struck in Newtown, Connecticut — to avoid such events in the future?” He then introduced Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who proceeded to lie.

Wayne said, “Out of respect for the families and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment.” Except if that were true, he would not have been making those comments, because the facts are not yet known and won’t be for some time. But after promising on Tuesday that the NRA would have a “meaningful contribution,” their solution to prevent more mass shootings in schools was – yes, you guessed it – more guns in schools. Really, Wayne? Do you honestly think that if we put armed security guards in every school, that fewer children would die from guns? Maybe you really do believe that, because among many stupid things you said was this gem, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is the mind set we must face if we are to do anything about the prevalence of guns in our society. A mind set that believes that the only thing wrong with the guns in our society is that there just aren’t enough of them, not that there are too many in the hands of people who have no business holding one let alone owning it. A mind set that thinks guns provide a level of safety their absence can’t match, despite the clear evidence that guns provide a level of danger their presence can’t eliminate. A mind set that believes you have every right in the world to kill someone for no other reason than that you believe, some how, some way, that he posed some kind of danger, possibly imaginary, to you or someone in your care.

They will try to make this about anything but guns. They will try to make it about mental health. They will try to make this about public health. They will try to make this about school safety. They will try to make this about ANYTHING but guns. But there is one, and only one, thing that all mass shootings have had in common – guns. People have committed mass murder without using guns, but those incidents are few and far between, and they certainly aren’t happening at the rate of about one per month, as is true with mass killings using guns. But until we talk about the issue, we won;t come to any meaningful solutions. And since the discussion will revolve around the Second Amendment, the very first question we should ask and answer is a simple one: What year is it right now? Because it isn’t 1791, and we don’t rely on out militias for law enforcement, only law assistance. And since militias were the clearly obvious reason for allowing people to own guns, shouldn’t we discuss them, too? The “right to keep and bear arms” is not without context, and a discussion on how to reduce the number of mass shootings in our society must address that context.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss guns or any other topic you wish.

The Watering Hole: Monday, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading