Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘guns’

My Sister Zina

My Sister Zina

One year ago today, my sister Zina was murdered by her abusive estranged husband. The restraining order she had against him should have prevented him from getting a gun, but he was able to buy one online without a background check.

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I’m going back to Washington, DC to share my sister’s story with leaders in Congress.

I’ll tell them that they can close the loopholes in our laws that allow dangerous people, like my sister’s killer, to get guns — and that simple, common-sense solutions would prevent others from experiencing this kind of tragedy.

Together, we can make sure that more women’s stories don’t end the way that Zina’s did. And one of the most important things you can do to make sure that Congress acts is to share the stories of survivors and women like my sister.

Watch this message today, and add your name to the letter to Congress:

http://act.demandaction.org/sign/Zina

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Help me do this for Zina and for all the women whose lives are at risk when dangerous people get their hands on guns.

Thank you for watching,

Elvin Daniel
Campaign to End Gun Violence
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

More Guns, More Murder

Largest Gun Study Ever: More Guns, More Murder
by Zack Beauchamp
From Think Progress/Nation of Change
14 September 2013

The largest study of gun violence in the United States, released Thursday afternoon, confirms a point that should be obvious: widespread American gun ownership is fueling America’s gun violence epidemic.

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The study, by Professor Michael Siegel at Boston University and two coauthors, has been peer-reviewed and is forthcoming in the American Journal of Public Health. Siegel and his colleagues compiled data on firearm homicides from all 50 states from 1981-2010, the longest stretch of time ever studied in this fashion, and set about seeing whether they could find any relationship between changes in gun ownership and murder using guns over time.

Since we know that violent crime rates overall declined during that period of time, the authors used something called “fixed effect regression” to account for any national trend other than changes in gun ownership. They also employed the largest-ever number of statistical controls for other variables in this kind of gun study: “age, gender, race/ethnicity, urbanization, poverty, unemployment, income, education, income inequality, divorce rate, alcohol use, violent crime rate, nonviolent crime rate, hate crime rate, number of hunting licenses, age-adjusted nonfirearm homicide rate, incarceration rate, and suicide rate” were all accounted for.

No good data on national rates of gun ownership exist (partly because of the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress), so the authors used the percentage of suicides that involve a firearm (FS/S) as a proxy. The theory, backed up by a wealth of data, is that the more guns there are any in any one place, the higher the percentage of people who commit suicide with guns as opposed to other mechanisms will be.

With all this preliminary work in hand, the authors ran a series of regressions to see what effect the overall national decline in firearm ownership from 1981 to 2010 had on gun homicides. The result was staggering: “for each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership,” Siegel et al. found, “firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9″ percent. A one standard deviation change in firearm ownership shifted gun murders by a staggering 12.9 percent.

To put this in perspective, take the state of Mississippi. “All other factors being equal,” the authors write, “our model would predict that if the FS/S in Mississippi were 57.7% (the average for all states) instead of 76.8% (the highest of all states), its firearm homicide rate would be 17% lower.” Since 475 people were murdered with a gun in Mississippi in 2010, that drop in gun ownership would translate to 80 lives saved in that year alone.

Read complete article and more at Nation of Change.

Help Congress Stand Up

Dear Gabriel,

Less than four months ago, the community of Newtown, Conn. suffered an unspeakable tragedy. Their world was shattered – just like the hundreds of other communities who have witnessed the scourge of gun violence. Stand with the clergy of Newtown in speaking out against rising gun violence across the country.

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Nothing any of us do will ever bring back those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a nation, all we can do is make sure we prevent the next tragedy. The religious leaders of Newtown have spoken out to demand that Congress take action immediately, and pass legislation that will stop the slaughter. It is time that we stood with them.

Newtown does not want be remembered as a town of tragedy, but as a bridge to a new and kinder world. Sign the petition today, and send a message to Congress that you stand with the clergy of Newtown.

Thank you for all you do,

Jay C.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

International Arms Trade Treaty

Dear Gabriel,

Huge news coming out of the United Nations today: this morning, delegates from 154 nations voted to adopt the first-ever international Arms Trade Treaty!

This is a historic moment – for the first time, the world has a treaty to help monitor and control the flow of arms and ammunition across borders. It’s a strong, effective treaty that will save lives and protect human rights around the world. And it’s the result of the actions of tens of thousands of Oxfam supporters like you – people who raised their voices in support of an Arms Trade Treaty, donated to fuel this work, and spread the word about this crucial issue. Thank you for everything you did to make this victory possible.

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President Obama and his Administration played an important leadership role to ensure the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. Will you join us in thanking them? Send a message to President Obama now >>

For families in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Mali and other countries wracked with armed conflict, the Arms Trade Treaty means a safer, brighter future. Ending armed conflict in poor communities is vital to righting the wrong of poverty, and that’s why Oxfam has been working to pass this treaty for more than a decade – we couldn’t have done this without you.

History was made at the United Nations today, and you were part of it. Thank you so much for standing with us in this fight.

Sincerely,

Raymond C. Offenheiser
Board of Directors
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

Our Son’s Take On Guns

Our son wrote this for an English Class at college and turned it in yesterday morning. He titled it Locking Up the Guns. Coincidentally, two police officers were shot and killed (as was the assailant) later that day during a domestic violence situation, just blocks from where we live in Santa Cruz. It is the first time a police officer has been killed in the line of duty in this cities history.

Shona Blumeneau
English 2
2/27/13

Locking Up the Guns

BANG! A large crack pierced through the morning fog. Chaos erupted in the swamp, as I pulled the trigger on the Ruger semi-automatic .22 long rifle. A flock of birds flew through the sky but one remained, the one I had mercilessly gunned down just moments before. My cousin and I ran over to the bird and examined the stagnant creature. I stood there, thinking about how easy it had just been to kill something, while my cousin congratulated me on my first shot. He was the gun enthusiast, not me. This was my first time hunting, and after this experience, probably the last. Guns do more damage than they do good.

I have never lived in a dangerous neighborhood, but even if I did I would not resort to buying a gun for protection. Yes, they can defend you from attackers, burglars, etc., but I am not ready to kill someone with the blink of an eye, and I don’t think many other people are either. Possessing a gun causes much more problems than it does solutions.

If we were to take away guns people would still find ways to kill each other, but the number of deaths would decrease significantly. In 2008 there were roughly 16,272 murders committed in the United States. Sixty-seven percent of those were committed with a firearm. A 1993 nationwide survey of 4,977 households found that over the previous five years, 0.5% of households had members who had used a gun for defense during a situation in which they thought someone “almost certainly would have been killed” if they “had not used a gun for protection.” Zero point 5 is a pretty insignificant number stacked against the amount of people who die from a firearm each year.

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Having a gun does not protect you. Having a gun gives an intruder a reason to shoot you, because they’re worried that you’re going to shoot them. If you’re unarmed, why would someone want to hurt you? Criminals may be stupid, but they’re usually not completely insane. They may take your computer, or whatever criminals take these days, and then go away. If it’s just a plain burglary, the police will file a report and forget about it, and the criminal gets away. If they shoot someone, there’s a murder investigation and the criminal goes to prison. The way gun advocates characterize society as a violent conflict between criminals and innocent people simply does not reflect reality. Theoretically, someone might break into your house just to attack you or your family, but the odds of that happening are less than being struck by lightning.

Only two countries in the world consider owning a gun a basic human right, the United States and Yemen, and even Yemen is starting to have second thoughts. From the UN’s Small Arms Survey: “Only two—the United States and Yemen—is ownership of firearms a citizen’s basic right. Figures published in the Small Arms Survey 2007 show that the USA and Yemen also have the highest rates of firearms per civilian, with an estimated 90 guns per 100 people in the US, and 55 in Yemen.” Why does America have this crazy obsession with guns? No, I’m not blaming video games or rap music. Let’s take a look at the second amendment.

Many US citizens still believe strongly in the amendment that states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” First of all, what states need protecting at the moment? The third amendment, that said the military could stay in private homes was thrown out, as it did not pertain to what was going on anymore. So why not the second amendment? There’s no intruders in the states that citizens are going to go hunt down, and the government has not become tyrannical (part of the reason for the second amendment, if the government ever became a dictatorship the people could rebel). The only people this right should belong to are those of the militia, as stated in the amendment. Just like the right to free speech, the government can limit people’s right to bear arms.

Only the most extreme pro-gun advocate would argue that a paroled violent offender with a standing restraining order to keep away from his ex-wife has the right to carry a fully-automatic machine gun. But similarly, only the most extreme anti-gun advocates believe that people should not be allowed to carry single-shot rifles when hunting deer on their own land.

If someone claims that the 2nd amendment gives them the right to carry a concealed weapon, they are full of it. You should ask them to point to the language in the 2nd amendment that specifically allows for concealed carry but prohibits violent felons owning machine guns. We have to keep in mind that people who wrote the second amendment owned slaves and oppressed women. Times were much different when the constitution was written, and things have changed since then. We no longer have slaves. Women have equal rights. There’s no longer a need to carry a weapon.

There is especially no need to carry a thirty-clip weapon. Incidents like Columbine or Sandy Hook could have been much less catastrophic if the men had to take time to stop to reload. This is what happened with the Gabby Gifford’s shooting. The assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, shot down nine people, injuring eighteen total, and was only stopped when he had to take a moment to reload his weapon and was tackled to the ground by a bystander, who was injured in doing so. This attack could have been much, much worse if he had had a larger clip. I cannot see a reason why someone would need a clip larger than ten for hunting or protection. Lowering the amount of rounds a gun can hold could easily lower the amount of deaths in the US.

Let me paint you a picture: Chris, a five year old boy living in a small suburban neighborhood, gets off the school bus after a fun day in class. He goes into his house where his mom stands. She asks how his day was, he says “fine”, she asks what he did, he says “nothing” and he goes to his room to play. After a while he gets bored and decides to explore his house a little. He goes into his parents’ bedroom, a place he’s been a hundred times early in the morning to snuggle up with his mom and dad, and starts looking around. Eventually he finds his way to the closet, and inside he finds a box. He opens the box, curious, and finds a handgun. He’s never seen one before and wonders what it does, so he fiddles around with it. All of the sudden, BAM, the gun goes off. Chris’ mother runs to the room only to see a pool of blood coming from the closet, and comes to the horrible realization that her only child is dead.

This may seem drastic, but it happens more often then you’d think. In the New England Journal of Medicine a study was put out that found 18 children die from gun related incidents every day. This makes guns the second leading cause of death in young people – twice the number of deaths from cancer. I find that to be a staggering number coming from a well developed first world country. I read an article the other day about a doctor, who were haunted by the death of one of her patients, a twelve year old boy who went on an errand for his mother and was caught in the cross-fire of a gun battle. The boy had shortly before written a letter to his mother expressing his desire to become a doctor.

Gun Violence & Child Soldiers

Dear Gabriel,

The United States is not the only country where children are facing an epidemic of gun violence. While in the U.S., we continue to grapple with the tragic reality of children who routinely face gun violence in their communities and children who increasingly are the targets of mass shootings, in other places around the world, we see the heartbreaking consequences of children who also face the daily horrors of armed conflict, many forced to become soldiers.

During Monday’s inaugural address, President Obama said:

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”

However, the President could have — and should have — broadened his statement to include children from the war-torn neighborhoods of Aleppo, Syria to valleys of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo, because if protecting all children is our shared destination, then we can’t afford to let our concern be confined by U.S. borders.

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We must call on the President to lead efforts to establish a strong Arms Trade Treaty, one that will help stop irresponsible and illegal arms transfers around the world that directly contribute to the recruitment of child soldiers.

You have probably heard about Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda — the group responsible for widespread murder, rape, maiming and amassing throngs of child soldiers. Fewer people know about the recruitment of child soldiers by Bosco Ntaganda, a commander of the FPLC armed group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fewer still realize that the armed groups who have taken control of the northern part of Mali, as well as the Malian army, are also using child soldiers.

Why do children in Uganda, the DRC and Mali continue to have a target on their back?

Because a global free-for-all lets weapons flow into the hands of armed groups and governments who, in turn, recruit children and commit other grave abuses. By failing to make the establishment of a global Arms Trade Treaty a priority, President Obama is letting them get away with it.

Protect all children from violence — please call for a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

It’s simple; no child should be forced to stand on either side of a weapon.

But the gun lobby in the U.S. is still trying to make you believe that this is about taking guns away from law-abiding Americans. It’s not.

The Arms Trade Treaty would put in place common-sense measures, like background checks on international arms sales, to stop or at least slow the sale of weapons between countries that fuel conflict, atrocities and instability as well as lead to the displacement and deaths of millions of civilians and the continued use of child soldiers.

More than 43,000 of you have helped set the record straight for the NRA’s leadership. Thanks for supporting children everywhere who are trapped by armed conflict. Your voice is so important as we prepare for the UN to hold its conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in March.

Every child deserves that same right no matter where they live. With your help, we can make this Arms Trade Treaty “bullet-proof”.

Michelle Ringuette
Chief of Campaigns & Programs
Amnesty International USA

A Little Common Sense

From Nation of Change
26 July 2012

U.S. Gun Laws: Guilty by Reason of Insanity
by Amy Goodman

James Holmes, the alleged shooter in the massacre in Aurora, Colo., reportedly amassed his huge arsenal with relative ease. Some of these weapons were illegal as recently as eight years ago. Legislation now before Congress would once again make illegal, if not the guns themselves, at least the high-capacity magazines that allow bullets to be fired rapidly without stopping to reload. Holmes bought most of his weaponry within recent months, we are told. Perhaps, if sane laws on gun control, including the ban on high- capacity magazines, were in place, many in Aurora who are now dead or seriously injured would be alive and well today.

The facts of the assault are generally well-known. Holmes allegedly burst into the packed theater during the 12:30 am premier of the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight Rises,” threw one or two canisters of some gas or irritant, which exploded, then began to methodically shoot people, killing 12 and wounding 58.

“Everybody sort of started screaming, and that’s when the gunman opened fire on the crowd, and pandemonium just broke out,” Omar Esparza told me. He was in the third row, with five friends out for a birthday celebration: “He started opening fire on the audience pretty freely, just started shooting in every direction, that’s when everybody started screaming, started panicking. A lot of people had been hit at that point at those initial few rounds, and that’s when everybody sort of hit the floor and started to exit.”

Esparza continued: “It sounded like the bullets had stopped, and it sounded like he was either switching guns or reloading his rifle. At that very second when we sort of heard the silence, we realized that that was our only opportunity of getting out or of dying. So, at that split second, we had to react and had to exit as quickly as possible. And we barely made it, too, because approximately a second after we had exited, we heard him starting to shoot again.”

That moment of silence may have been when one of the weapons jammed. CNN reported that “the semiautomatic rifle used in the Colorado theater killings jammed during the rampage … a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation said Sunday.”

Holmes allegedly had an AR-15, equipped with a 100-round drum magazine, as well as one or two Glock pistols with 40-round extended magazines and a Remington 870 shotgun that can fire up to seven shells without reloading. The AR-15 can fire from 50 to 60 rounds per minute. Holmes had a massive arsenal, easily acquired at retail stores and online.

Carolyn McCarthy is a member of Congress from Long Island, N.Y. Her husband was shot in the head and among the six killed in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road massacre. Her son also was shot in the head, but survived and remains partially paralyzed. She was a nurse back then, but when her congressman voted against the assault-weapons ban, she ran against him. She won and has been in Congress ever since.

McCarthy has introduced H.R. 308, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act. It would ban the sale or transfer of these large-capacity clips that enabled the massive casualties in Aurora, and in Tucson, Ariz., in January 2011 when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot and six were killed. McCarthy told me: “The problem is, politicians, legislators across this country are intimidated by the NRA and the gun manufacturers who put so much money out there to say that ‘we will take you down in an election if you go against us.’ Common sense will say we can take prudent gun-safety legislation and try to save people’s lives. That is the bottom line.”

Read entire story at Nation of Change.

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