From San Diego Free Press – Dec. 17, 2012
Enough of all this talk. We live in the ‘World’s Greatest Country’ and ‘America’s Finest City’ and the best we as citizens can do is, according to our local daily newspaper’s editorial board:
(#1) ** …resist the temptation to see what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as an indictment of America.
What took place in Connecticut is an indictment of weak willed politicians, afraid to stand up to a gun lobby. Our country would be even greater and our city would be even finer without them. If the NRA wants to make gun control an issue, fine. Put up pictures the kids that were killed next to Pro Gun Lobby Senators and Congressmen’s mug shots in the UT-SD and ask why they support baby killers.
All 31 United States Senators that have consistently supported the NRA’s legislative agenda were asked to come on Meet the Press yesterday. All declined.
Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was willing to go on Fox news and propose arming school employees. Talking about the dead principal at Sandy Hook, Gohmert said:
“Having been a judge and reviewed photographs of these horrific scenes and knowing that children have these defensive wounds, gun shots through their arms and hands as they try to protect themselves, and, hearing the heroic stories of the principal, lunging, trying to protect, Chris, I wish to God she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”
Here’s the video:
This brings us to point #2 made in this weekends’ UT-SD editorial pages:
**perhaps we need to have a debate about identifying and helping the mentally ill, or about making schools safer, or about reassuring worried schoolchildren that they are safe.
Let’s start by identifying the gutless wonders that go on TV and advocate more guns in the wake of a tragic shooting as bad for our nation’s mental health.
Let’s take the mental health system out of the hands of the health insurance companies that deny coverage.
Let’s take the mental health system out of the clutches of the big drug companies, who make obscene profits off medications that are historically equivalent to using leeches to cure influenza. (Not all drugs are bad, but the system we have for evaluating their effectiveness is centered on return on investment more than it is good outcomes.)
Let’s take the mental health system out of the court system, wherein it takes the commission of a felony to get professional help through the state. We’re using our prisons as mental hospitals and felonious behavior is the ticket for admission. (See this article.)
And that brings us to point #3 in the conclusions reached by our local daily newspaper:
** This is not the time to take advantage of tragedy. This is not the time for shouting.
This is the time for this nation to come together. We have done it many times before in the wake of horrible news. What we need to do is to cherish our children and our families, to reach out to our loved ones, our neighbors and our community. This is the time for the goodness of the American spirit to shine through, to get us all through these sorrowful days and to a brighter tomorrow.
Excuse my French…
If there ever was a time to change things, it’s now. The NRA is in hiding. Their Facebook page is down. Their Twitter account is dead. Their lobbyists are hiding under a rock.
Most Americans don’t want to ban guns. Neither do I. But imposing some reasonable restrictions on the use of objects than can endanger others is sounding like a pretty good idea right now. After all, we do it for automobiles and drivers. You even have to show ID to buy cold medicines.
As John Oliver said last week, “One failed shoe bomb, and we take off our shoes; 31 school shootings since Columbine, and no change in our regulation of guns.”
The old saw about “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” doesn’t cut it anymore in the face of overwhelming evidence that our heavily armed nation is less safe than countries that place limits on firearms. From Slate:
On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more. It was the worst mass murder in Australia’s history.
Twelve days later, Australia’s government did something remarkable. Led by newly elected conservative Prime Minister John Howard, it announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures. A decade and a half hence, the results of these policy changes are clear: They worked really, really well.
At the heart of the push was a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.) In the wake of the tragedy, polls showed public support for these measures at upwards of 90 percent.
What happened next has been the subject of several academic studies. Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August, homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.
Three Actual Things You Can Do
#1. The President seems like he gets it this time. After dodging the issues surrounding regulating firearms during his first term, his speeches this weekend indicate that he’s willing to expend valuable political capital on this. He’s had to be very miserly with that influence over the past four years in the face of opposition determined to block his every move.
Let’s let Mr. Obama know we’ve got his back on this one. Join with the over 140,000 Americans (as of 6am today) who’ve signed the White House petition to immediately address this issue. Sign it here. Here’s how it reads:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Immediately address the issue of gun control through the introduction of legislation in Congress.
The goal of this petition is to force the Obama Administration to produce legislation that limits access to guns. While a national dialogue is critical, laws are the only means in which we can reduce the number of people murdered in gun related deaths.
Powerful lobbying groups allow the ownership of guns to reach beyond the Constitution’s intended purpose of the right to bear arms. Therefore, Congress must act on what is stated law, and face the reality that access to firearms reaches beyond what the Second Amendment intends to achieve.
The signatures on this petition represent a collective demand for a bipartisan discussion resulting in a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.
Get Guns Off the Streets of San Diego
#2. Support the effort of our city’s Black Clergy to help get the guns off the streets of San Diego. The United African American Ministerial Action Council (UAAMAC) is sponsoring the 5th Annual “Gift Card for Gun Exchange” this Friday, December 21st.
The program offers “Gift Cards for Guns, NO Questions Asked!” They’re partnering with elected officials and law enforcement offices to offer gift cards in exchange for guns. Participants will receive $50 for rifles and shotguns, $100 for hand guns and assault weapons, only one gift card per vehicle no matter how many guns.
This program is supported by: District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego City Councilman Tony Young, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, San Diego Sheriff William Gore and the United African American Ministerial Action Council
The gun exchange program will start at 8:30 a.m. at 415 Euclid Avenue, San Diego, CA 92114. Contact: UAAMAC staff (619) 264-1213 or(619) 964-1064. Donations to purchase weapons will be accepted up to the event. UAAMAC is a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Organization.
Tell Congress We’re Watching. And We Won’t Forget.
#3. One immediate step in the upcoming battle (and trust me, it will be a battle) will be the introduction of legislation to re-impose the banning of assault weapons, which expired during the Bush administration. Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the Meet the Press this weekend:
“I’m going to introduce in the Senate and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons. It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession. Not retroactively but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. So there will be a bill. We’ve been working on it now for a year”.
I know that this bill will be largely symbolic. It isn’t going to take anybody’s guns away, despite what the NRA will say. But it’s time the Gun Lobby learns that there’s a limit on what reasonable people will put up with when it comes to their fear mongering and profiteering. So I say support this law. And tell your Congresscritter that this had better be just the first step.
I know pressuring critters like Darrell Issa is like spitting into the wind. But do it anyway. Let’s publicize their lame excuses. Send ‘em to me and I’ll print them, right next to pictures from Connecticut. Tell us, Darrell (or Duncan), when did you decide killing children was a good idea?