Sunday, December 23, 2012


Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (aka the guns)

Even after what they deemed a politically acceptable "waiting period" concerning the Newtown, CT massacre the NRA again showed themselves to be the shills for the obscenely profitable firearms industry and nothing else. And although it appears that a majority of people polled actually favor opinions regarding gun safety opposite of those of the fanatical NRA "leadership", the "lecture" provided by Mr. LaPierre only proposed the transparently useless idea of providing a solo post for every school. Which of course most small towns can not afford, and we all know that an "Army of One"  armed with one pistol is not going to hold off American psychos armed with modern semi auto rifles. Especially after Columbine. And even Newtown, CT parents are also rejecting this thesis.

"Gabby and I are extremely disappointed by the NRA's defiant and delayed response to the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The NRA could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common sense, reasonable safeguards on deadly firearms, but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions that aren't even popular among the law abiding gun owners it represents. Today, the NRA chose narrow partisan concerns over the safety of our families and communities. The time for this kind of extreme rhetoric is over. We must have a real conversation about preventing gun violence, because when it comes to protecting our children, families, and neighbors, we can't wait any longer."
- Captain Mark Kelley

Some American gun owners are "up in arms" (they have so many) in what they thought in their best "low information" mode as recently demonstrated by our last election were "threats" to their gunmetal collections. Are the same 47% that voted for the internationally dangerous Myth R-money the same as the 47% of Americans that own guns ? Interesting, but I have no idea. All I know is that the type of thinking being displayed by the vocal opponents of ACTUAL gun safety is morally repugnant in the wake of a gun massacre, but it is also factually inaccurate. The recent surge in semi auto gun sales reflects the simple thinkers who want to get the weapons "grandfathered in" before the sea change in opinion favorable to reviving the assault weapons ban affects the legislative process. As was done in the 1994 assault gun ban. Deja Vu all over again.

“Those crazy things kids say these days, lol: "Students at Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx — which has armed security — said adding more guns to schools would only increase the likelihood of kids getting shot.
‘What happens when someone grabs the cop’s gun?’ asked junior Ashley Rogress of the Bronx." And he's right. This is why unfortunately we have to keep weapons from the guards moving around in prison populations. 

The firearms industry really does have the charged "blood on their hands" because their influence as exerted through the NRA has done all sorts of things to railroad over any and all sensible efforts to even keep accurate statistics about our dangerous national shooting hobby. The Center for Disease Control was not allowed to conduct the firearms studies it used to since 1994, and the BATF was also effectively shut down. 

Total firearms murders, 2011:  8,583

% change, 2010-11: -3%

Fire- arms murders as % of all murders: 68%

Of the homicides for which the FBI received weapons data, most (67.5 percent) involved the use of firearms. Handguns comprised 68.5 percent of the firearms used in murders and nonnegligent manslaughters in 2010. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 8.) 

Fire- arms murders rate: 2.75

Fire- arms robberies rate: 2.24

Fire- arms assaults rate: 39.25 





In 2010, in incidents of murder for which the relationships of murder victims and offenders were known, 53.0 percent were killed by someone they knew (acquaintance, neighbor, friend, boyfriend, etc.); 24.8 percent of victims were slain by family members. The relationship of murder victims and offenders was unknown in 44.0 percent of murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents in 2010. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 10.)

Of the female murder victims for whom the relationships to their offenders were known, 37.5 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 2 and 10.)

Of the murders for which the circumstance surrounding the murder was known, 41.8 percent of victims were murdered during arguments (including romantic triangles) in 2010. Felony circumstances (rape, robbery, burglary, etc.) accounted for 23.1 percent of murders. Circumstances were unknown for 35.8 percent of reported homicides. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 12.)


A 3% decline is now a highly suspect number to my thinking, although by news reports one may surmise that while overall firearm murders are slightly down (but not enough for my taste) nationwide, there has now apparently been an uptick in mass shootings. And I'd attribute the tiny decline more to police work than anything else. It is painful to only think in clinical terms when not necessary for medical data, but most gun owners will nitpit over individual stats until the cows come home. And this is of course a result of the NRA propaganda AND information suppression as financed by the firearms industry.

"Last month, I sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in federal prison for his shooting rampage in Tucson. That tragedy left six people dead, more than twice that number injured and a community shaken to its core. (...) Bystanders got to Loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another. Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, chose as his primary weapon a semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines. And we don't even bother to call the 100-rounder that James Holmes is accused of emptying in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater a magazine — it is a drum. How is this not an argument for regulating the number of rounds a gun can fire?"(...) Bring back the assault weapons ban, and bring it back with some teeth this time. Ban the manufacture, importation, sale, transfer and possession of both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Don't let people who already have them keep them. Don't let ones that have already been manufactured stay on the market. I don't care whether it's called gun control or a gun ban. I'm for it." ~ Larry Alan Burns (a federal district judge in San Diego)

We stood up to the Taliban and Al Queda. Now do we will we be able to stand up to the NRA, the prime mover for the firearms industry ? That's really all they are. Not in the beginning when they were reasonable, but now they are one of those self-fulfilling prophecies that perpetuates gun violence.

Assault rifles were scientifically engineered to be cause high velocity, large cavitation type wounds, in other words people killers. If that's your idea of fun, why don't you take your precious collection to an active war zone then you can justify its use 24/7, and stay there. You're lying if you say you need an AR-15 for home defense, and if you can afford a $1,000 dollar weapon it's guaranteed that you don't live in a high crime area or even an area that has any crime at all. As a retired soldier, police radio dispatcher, and a paramedic, I'm tired of hearing the whiny justifications. Oh, the ammo ? That can still be made at home. Get rid of the damn things altogether.

Judge Scalia did add to the mess helping to give the 2nd Amendment some legitimacy it hasn't had since the 18th century (nor any relevancy), and now I’ve seen the two cases that appear to support the right to bear arms with the latest in 2010. But he still left open the regulation of any unusual firearms, and people killers fall under that category. Weapons do not fall into the same fully protected class as human beings either constitutionally or morally. Nor should they. 

If you're so afraid of Gunga Din invading your farm then so be it, get a shotgun. You're covered. Or if you're simply of such slight build that you can only handle a pistol, then use a cell or portable phone in one hand and the pistol in the other and wait for the sheriff. I know how long it takes the sheriffs to get there since I worked with them, so I understand. I KNOW that they put the pedal to the metal and risk their behinds to get help to you when there’s no State Police available in the area who do the same thing and everyone already having weapons only complicates things. The only thing is that there IS no crime to speak of in those nice areas, which mainly consists of spousal abuse and some of them get shot no doubt, since the statistics support that and that’s mostly what I remember the calls being about upstate. Although I do remember more calls made to enhanced 9-1-1 by people vacuuming than anything other then medical calls. Accidental discharges do occur and are a fact of life anywhere but ready access to weapons also encourages suicide. 

During my visits to Panama for instance, I exited the supermarket in Panama City and wondered if I was supposed to feel more secure or less secure by the roving police patrol standing guard in front with their Uzis. They outfit their police in military garb since they're not allowed to have a standing army anymore, only local and national police. In Italy you see the Carbineri always armed with automatic weapons, as I also discovered once finding a group of German Polizei standing around in a room with their H&Ks I thought was the "water closet". Silly me, lol. But these are anti-terrorist personnel (and/or anti mob protection). Are we to now believe that we have met the enemy and he is actually US ? Hey, if we can't outlaw banana clips, then WE must be the "banana republic". 

"The city’s top cop took on the NRA today, shooting down its call for putting armed guards in every school.
NRA exec Wayne Lapierre said that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly seemed taken aback when he learned this today.
“I thought they were going to make meaningful recommendations on gun control,” he said.
Kelly added that he would have to look at the proposal, but said the idea was expensive and didn’t seem fully formed.
Instead, he called for an assault weapon ban, which he described as a “no-brainer,” as well as limits on magazine rounds and prosecution of people who lie on background check forms.
“Hopefully Sandy Hook has been a turning point on what we can seriously do on these issues,” he said.
Kelly also emphasized the Finest’s strong coverage of schools, which are protected by more than 5000 school safety agents and 350 cops.
The NYPD is also cyber-patrolling—monitoring public websites and chat rooms to stop would-be mass murderers.
“I hope we’re ahead of the curve on this,” said Kelly."

"Today's NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA's extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn't say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense." ~ Mayors Against Illegal Guns

"New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the National Rifle Association's call for armed guards in schools represents a paranoid vision of America. He said the press conference Friday by the nation's largest gun lobby group was "a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country."

"I think the public has finally come to the conclusion that, what the Supreme Court said you can do is have reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms, is something that our society finally has woken up and said, 'We are going to do this whether you like it or not,'" Bloomberg said. The mayor said magazines shouldn't be allowed to contain more than five or six rounds. "If you haven't hit the deer with three shots, you're a pretty lousy shot. The deer deserves to get away," he said.
"[President Obama] signed two pieces of legislation, one which lets you carry guns in national parks where our kids play," Bloomberg said. "And the other one, he signed a bill so that you can carry a gun on Amtrak. I assume that's to stop the rash of train robberies, which I thought stopped in the 1800s."

I tend to agree with Mayor Bloomberg about the hunting public. They have the lowest rates of all gun deaths and injuries of all gun owners and the sanest techniques for dealing with firearms and conservation to boot. But we are seeing the rise of another subculture of shooting enthusiasts and hobbyists which is of great concern. A subculture that has few if any moral signposts and absolutely no remorse or suggestions regarding our new shortened interval of mass shootings. Of people, not paper or iron targets. And filling the classrooms across America with even more guns still will not increase anyone's security, only worsen it. This is a dodge and all the NRA does is support the already obscenely profitable firearms industry, so what do you expect them to say ? The NRA IS AN ANACHRONISM.

“The awful part of what LaPierre just did is until he spoke there was nothing uncontroversial about having security at schools.” ~ John Podhoretz

“NRA response predictable, though breathtaking in its nonsense. Troubling is the silence from GOP leaders, other than @JoeNBC & few others.” ~  John Weaver

The following are reproduced from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center of the Harvard School of Public Health: (with FBI data dispersed directly)

"Guns in the home are used more often to intimidate intimates than to thwart crime. 
Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, we investigated how and when guns are used in the home. We found that guns in the home are used more often to frighten intimates than to thwart crime; other weapons are far more commonly used against intruders than are guns.
Publication: Azrael, Deborah R; Hemenway, David. In the safety of your own home: Results from a national survey of gun use at home. Social Science and Medicine. 2000; 50:285-91." 

“Firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense. 
Using data from a national random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted under the direction of the Harvard Injury Control Center, we examined the extent and nature of offensive gun use.  We found that firearms are used far more often to frighten and intimidate than they are used in self-defense. All reported cases of criminal gun use, as well as many of the so-called self-defense gun uses, appear to be socially undesirable. 
Hemenway, David; Azrael, Deborah. The relative frequency of offensive and defensive gun use: Results of a national survey. Violence and Victims. 2000; 15:257-272.”

“Across states, more guns = more female violent deaths

We analyzed the relationship between firearm availability and unintentional gun death, homicide and suicide for women across the 50 states over a ten year period.  Women in states with many guns have elevated rates of unintentional gun deaths, suicides and homicide, particularly firearm suicides and firearm homicides.
Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths, suicide, and homicide among women. Journal of Urban Health. 2002; 79:26-38.”

 “Across high income countries more guns = more female homicide deaths.
We analyzed the relationship between gun availability and homicides of women with data from 25 high income countries. Across developed nations, where gun are more available, there are more homicides of women.  The United States has the most firearms and U.S. women have far more likely to be homicide victims than women in other developed countries.
Hemenway, David; Shinoda-Tagawa, Tomoko; Miller, Matthew. Firearm availability and female homicide victimization rates across 25 populous high-income countries. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association. 2002; 57:100-04.”

“The public does not understand the importance of method availability.
Over 2,700 respondents to a national random-digit-dial telephone survey were asked to estimate how many of the more than 1,000 people who had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge would have gone on to commit suicide some other way if an effective suicide barrier had been installed.  Over 1/3 of respondents estimated that none of the suicides could have been prevented.  Respondents most likely to believe that no one could have been saved were cigarette smokers and gun owners.
Miller, Matthew; Azrael, Deborah; Hemenway, David. Belief in the inevitability of suicide: Results from a national survey. Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. 2006; 36:1-11.”

“Veterans have high rates of firearm suicide
There are no differences in suicide risk among middle-aged and older male veterans and non-veterans.  Suicide by firearm is higher, suicide by non-firearm is lower.  It is probable that lower baseline risk of active duty soldiers (healthy worker effect) tend to be counterbalanced by the accessibility of firearms to these veterans. 
Miller, Matthew; Barber, Catherine; Azrael, Deborah, Calle, Eugenia E; Lawler, Elizabeth; Mukamal, Kenneth J. Suicide among US veterans: a prospective study of 500,000 middle-aged and elderly men.  American Journal of Epidemiology. 2009; 170:494-500.”

“Gun availability is a risk factor for suicide (literature reviews).
We performed reviews of the academic literature on the effects of gun availability on suicide rates. The preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States.  The evidence that gun availability increases the suicide rates of adults is credible, but is currently less compelling.  Most of the disaggregate findings of particular studies (e.g. handguns are more of a risk factor than long guns, guns stored unlocked pose a greater risk than guns stored locked) are suggestive but not yet well established.
Miller, Matthew; Hemenway, David. The relationship between firearms and suicide: A review of the literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal. 1999; 4:59-75.
Miller, Matthew; Hemenway, David. Gun prevalence and the risk of suicide: A review. Harvard Health Policy Review. 2001; 2:29-37.”

“Across U.S. regions, more guns = more suicide (cross sectional analysis)
We analyzed the relationship of gun availability and suicide among differing age groups across the 9 US regions. After controlling for divorce, education, unemployment, poverty and urbanization, the statistically significant relationship holds for 15 to 24 year olds and 45 to 84 year olds, but not for 25 to 44 year olds.
Birckmayer, Johanna; Hemenway, David. Suicide and gun prevalence: Are youth disproportionately affected? Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. 2001; 31:303-310.”

“Reducing access to lethal means can begin to reduce suicide rates today.
This editorial in an issue of the flagship public health journal devoted entirely to veteran suicide emphasizes the importance of the availability of firearms in determining whether suicide attempts prove fatal.
Miller, Matthew. Preventing suicide by preventing lethal injury: the need to act on what we already know. American Journal of Public Health 2012; 102(S1):e1-3.”


“The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says violent behavior should not be dismissed as "just a phase they're going through."
“In a guidelines for families, the academy lists several risk factors for violence, including:
—Previous violent or aggressive behavior
—Being a victim of physical or sexual abuse
—Guns in the home
—Use of drugs or alcohol
—Brain damage from a head injury”

Debunking a couple of FAQs:

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people.
Maybe, but people with guns kill many, many more people than they would if they didn't have guns, and guns designed to kill as many people as possible. We don't know if the murderer in Newtown was suffering from a suicidal depression, but many mass shooters in the past were. And guess what? People suffer from suicidal depression everywhere in the world. People get angry and upset everywhere in the world. But there aren't mass shootings every few weeks in England or Costa Rica or Japan, and the reason is that people in those places who have these impulses don't have an easy way to access lethal weapons and unlimited ammunition. But if you want to kill large numbers of people and you happen to be an American, you'll find it easy to do."

"Criminals will always find a way to get guns no matter what measures we take, so what's the point?
The question isn't whether we could snap our fingers and make every gun disappear. It's whether we can make it harder for criminals to get guns, and harder for an unbalanced person with murderous intent to kill so many people. The goal is to reduce violence as much as possible. There's no other problem for which we'd say if we can't solve it completely and forever we shouldn't even try."


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