What is the difference between a dozen dead second graders and a dozen dead high school students?
The high school students’ best friends will be able to vote next year.
And no, I will not apologize for the strong words and horrifying imagery. It is time for strong words and horrifying imagery.
I am facing a number of different poltical choices this year. Some of them come in two weeks at the Minnesota DFL (Democratic Party) Convention in Rochester. I’m a delegate, and I will be casting my vote to endorse two US Senate candidates, the State Auditor, the State Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Governor. Recently, I was engaged in the endorsement decision for my US House District, and my local state House Representative is up for election.
Filtering out races that are fait accompli, there are three people running that I am firmly committed to NOT vote for, and to work against in any way possible, because of their contribution to America’s gun-hungry, gun-happy, gun-crazy culture.
They are, in order of geographical zone covered by their potential purview as an elected official:
Tim Walz, currently in the US House representing Minnesota’s first district, now running for the endorsement for Governor of Minnesota; Erik Paulsen, running for re-election to the US House, and Sarah Anderson, running for re-election to the Minnesota House.
I can not vote in early June for Tim Walz’s endorsement because for the last 12 years he maintained an A rating form the NRA, took their money, voted mostly as they told him to vote, and made numerous public statements in support of this gun culture.
After yet another mass shooting, is it finally OK to talk about the guns? We talk about the motive. We talk about mental illness. We can talk about crime or poverty or racism or religious fundamentalism, but not the guns. This is even though, whatever the shooter’s motive, he (pretty much always a “he”, which likely does tell us something) couldn’t have shot his victims without being able to get the gun. Whatever the shooter’s mental illness, and I accept the fact of committing a mass shooting as evidence in itself of serious mental illness, he couldn’t have shot anyone without getting the gun. The United States is unique in the western world in its massive amount of gun crime. In fact, there are few countries of any sort with gun death rates like ours who aren’t literally in some level of civil war. Our crime rates are roughly the same as other western countries, meaning US crime is much more lethal — and we’re the only country with so many guns. Other countries have racism, but only we have so many guns. Other countries have mental illness, but only we have so many guns. Other countries have poverty, discrimination, religious extremism, every social ill ever suggested as the explanation for crime, but only we have lots of guns and roughly 30,000 gun deaths annually, about one third of those being homicides and two-thirds suicides. Yet, somehow, we can’t talk about how the problem is the sheer quantity of guns. Yes, some people have guns who shouldn’t have them, but that’s actually the point. Loads of people who shouldn’t have guns have them, and our political leaders are more interested in the right of a violent person to get a gun than the right of the victim to not be shot.
Which shooting am I referring to by “yet another mass shooting”? Here’s the arguably saddest part. I could write that just about any day. I started on this post some time ago, and when I didn’t get it done in time to be timely to a specific event, I realized it didn’t matter. It’s OK if I don’t get it done this week, because there will be another shooting next week. Literally. It was safe to assume a post about a recent shooting could be posted any time and there would be a recent shooting to refer to. I think actually started at least collecting some of the links I’m using around the time of the Charleston massacre. I didn’t get it done, but there was Chattanooga. Lafayette just happened a couple days ago. And these are just the ones where the most people were shot. I could have picked this one or this one where only one or two victims died after a shooting of multiple people by someone who clearly should not have been allowed to have a gun.
After George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, we heard multiple anecdotes from Florida’s bizarre “Stand Your Ground” law in which armed people acted aggressively towards unarmed people, killed them, and got away with it by claiming they felt threatened. If you suspected “Stand Your Ground” would mean more killings rather than fewer, if phrases like “an armed society is a polite society” sounded like nonsense, there’s no longer need to rely on anecdotes. Now we know why the gun lobby wants to prevent the collection of gun data — because there’s actual data that show “Stand Your Ground” means more killing, not less.
State House minority leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, took his sweet time talking to the press about his weird adventure with the gun and the Bronco (the SUV sort, not a horse or football player) and even then, seemed to be reluctant to say much. I can’t tell if one screamingly obvious question was asked, but it sure wasn’t answered: why did Daudt bring a loaded gun to go car shopping?
I don’t care that Daudt has a hobby restoring old vehicles. That’s common, and driving to other states to acquire desired vehicles, a 1966 Ford Bronco in this case, is something such hobbyists do. That he brought someone with him makes sense since somebody needs to drive his car back. I’m not even that concerned about the particulars of the argument with the seller because accounts of the participants will conflict and memories are pretty fungible sometimes. In other words, I’m offering no comment on who said what or who was right. If you want to look at court documents, they’re here, but whether the seller misrepresented the vehicle as Daudt says or there was something else they argued over, isn’t really the question.
Here’s the question: why did Daudt bring a gun just to go look at a vehicle? Actually, that begs a couple more questions. Why was he carrying the gun loaded? Why was he bringing a loaded gun in easy reach of a traveling companion who has had multiple problems with the law?
While I was writing an article about Juror B37, apparently a whole flood of tweets targeted the publisher of Juror B37’s book. Shortly after the announcement of the book, there was an announcement of retreat.
Juror B37 did accomplish one great thing. She firmly established the importance of Stand-Your-Ground as a reason that Zimmerman went free. It was also clear that Juror B37 bought Zimmerman’s point of view entirely, even to the point of inventing reasons not in evidence. There is no evidence for Martin throwing the first blow, yet Juror B37 believes that happened.
Juror B37 wants to write a book about the Zimmerman trial. There would have been no demand for a book if justice had been done. Only a shockingly unbelievable verdict would generate book sales. Just one day after the trial, Juror B37 signed with Sharlene Martin, president of Martin Literary Management. Juror B37 already had an interview with CNN. Could this greed have been the tipping point in the trial?
My reaction upon reading juror B37 words is that I was glad she was writing a book because she would probably have book signings and speaking engagements. I would show up at a book signing in a black hoodie, with Skittles and an Arizona drink, covered in fake blood. I would ask her to sign the book, ” Dear Trayvon, I let your killer go free because…”
I think that there must have been overwhelming similar reaction because
But hours later, the agent released a statement from Juror B37 saying she would no longer write one.
She might change her mind again. Let’s look at what she said for motives.
I know gun owners hate the term “gun nuts”, but this is exactly the sort of thing that makes the term a fair description of some gun owners. Minneapolis and St. Paul have events called “Open Streets”, where the streets are closed to motorized traffic, so the streets are safe for kids games and pedestrians and bicycles and so on in a nice family-friendly atmosphere. So some of the local gun nuts have expressed an intent to show up for the purpose of showing the world that they have guns, inflicting their strange psychological needs on everyone else.
No, this isn’t concealed carry. They intend to carry openly, so everyone else gets to enjoy the presence of utter strangers able to pull out their loaded weapons whenever they take a whim. Yes I know, the people planning to do this will plead that they’re responsible gun owners, except the responsible gun owners will have left their weapons locked up at home. Showing them off at a neighborhood event as if it was a gun show or NRA rally is pretty much the opposite of “responsible”.
The Facebook page promoting Open Streets-Open Carry says gun owners will add “their own twist” to the neighborhood events by “encouraging ‘open carry’ for pro-active, positive visibility of law abiding gun owners participating in normal social activity … Like normal people!”
You already know this if you’ve been hanging out in the liberal blogosphere or lefty social circles, but for everyone else, a recent topic of discussion is how the issue of marriage equality reversed so fast, and so certainly. Or was it so fast and certain? The context is wondering how it happened so we can copy it with other issues. Gun sanity seemed to have sudden momentum after the Newtown massacre, but then faded. Not entirely of course, but enough that opponents have been able to protect the cruel jokes we call gun laws. Climate change is an urgent issue yet, despite being high on the national agenda for a generation, progress is incremental. It’s there, but not close to what we need. Yet marriage equality moved, in what feels like a blink, from a wedge issue for Republicans to a wedge issue for Democrats; from a long string of lopsided defeats at the ballot box to four wins last election day, and several states legalizing it this year, with the opinion polls steadily in our favor. Why? And could correctly understanding why help us on other issues?
I have three theories, which I call “good news”, “bad news”, and “no news”. That last one isn’t a great descriptor, but seems to fit the naming pattern. The first two though … great naming on my part IMHO, even if readers decide the naming was the only part I got right. Let’s start with the good news.
I saw this photo on facebook this morning. It appears to be factually accurate. We’ve had a lot of toddlers killing people with guns recently, while terrorist deaths (as distinct from injuries) have been relatively low.
At the same time, I saw a link to this piece from RawStory, where at the NRA convention, one of the speaker advised keeping guns in the bedrooms of their children. To the credit of this speaker, he at least advised keeping them in a gun safe, but as we have seen from too numerous news stories to count, many gun owners, I’d venture MOST gun owners, do not keep their guns in even one gun safe, much less have multiple gun safes in their home.
The raw story also reminded me that Nancy Lanza kept HER gun safe in her son Adam Lanza’s bedroom, where he used access to those guns to shoot her, and then go on the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary school. And it reminded me of the statement made by the new president of the NRA about how the civil war was really the “war of northern aggression”, and how he and gun owners were going to ‘rise again’ and take up arms “agin the guvemint”.
We need to end the bullets, bunkers, and babies mentality of the far right wing nuts; it represents a failure of the gun culture. In the meantime we have too many kids killing kids, kids killing adults, adults killing kids and adults. Guns and our current level of gun regulation are not making us safer. It’s past time to stop indulging conservative crazies. Gun control works; to the extent that states enact gun control, fewer people are killed and injured by guns. It is also time to repudiate conservative ‘family values’ that puts more value on guns than on our children – on THEIR children. It’s not just a crazy way of thinking, it’s a DANGEROUSLY crazy way of thinking.
“So Mom, what were you and that one guy talking about?” “He was telling me that he was carrying a concealed gun and a woman gets raped every two minutes.” Those aren’t exact quotes, but that’s the gist of a conversation I had with my mom following the annual Tartan Day commemoration at the state capitol on Saturday, of which I was a participant and she was a spectator. Tartan Day is a non-political event — that part will be quite important in subsequent paragraphs — where Scots celebrate Scottish culture on the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. It’s equivalent to the American Declaration of Independence, but still, in America anyway, not a political event. It’s a day to say that kilts are manly, bagpipes sound great, and our favorite color is plaid. Nothing to do with bragging about your concealed gun to my mom, OK?
So over the course of the event, other Tartan Day events and gatherings get announced, and some strange person, who I won’t identify because I’m only 95% sure I know who he is and I don’t want to disparage the innocent, somehow talked his way into getting a bit of microphone time. He started out saying he was very disappointed with the results of the last election. This is a bad way to start a speech at a non-political event. Participants hold lots of differing opinions, which are normally kept out of conversation, being utterly irrelevant. Let’s just say I’m not the only one who thinks the NRA is vile, while others might well have Wayne LaPierre posters in their bedrooms.