Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21 Is National ASK Day

Today is National ASK Day, when parents are urged to ask about guns and other dangers where their children play.  Is there a gun where your children play, in their friends' homes, in the purse of your babysitter, in your relative's home?  Are you certain?  Have you asked? 

And if there is a gun there, is it properly stored, locked and unloaded?

Have you talked to your children about avoiding guns without proper supervision, or what to do when they find a gun?

Here is an excellent article on National ASK Day put out today by womenshealth.gov:  http://www.womenshealth.gov/news/english/654092.htm

Here is a previous post I have written on ASK:  http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2011/02/asking-saves-kids.html  

And here is an article I recently published on the topic, in Metro-Parent Magazine (see page 28):  http://www.metro-parent.com/issues/june11/june11.pdf

Nearly 40% of homes with children possess firearms, and as many as 14% keep them unlocked and loaded.  As a result, accidental shootings by children happen all the time in America.  HERE is one example of a recent one (in a home where the father was a shooting instructor, no less).

Can you really afford not to ask?  Your child's life may depend on it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Table At The Eugene Saturday Market

I spent most of today at one of my favorite places here in Eugene, Oregon: the Eugene Saturday Market. A landmark for our town, this market covers about a block and has handmade art and crafts ranging from fine pottery to crochet hats, professional photos to tie-dye tutus, jewelry made of precious metals to jewelry made out of woven hemp. There's music, food, and an excellent farmer's market with organic produce, bread, and deserts.

Yesterday was gorgeous, with clear blue skies and warm weather. This morning, as I set out the door, it was cloudy, drizzling, and cold enough that I needed my jacket. My family in Arkansas and Texas are roasting in a heat wave with temperatures around 100. Here in western Oregon, I still contemplate making a fire in the woodstove each night. Go figure. Anyhow, I didn't let it get me down.

I sat at an information table at the Saturday market today for Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation. I set up around 10AM and stayed until around 2:30. I love sharing my story and my mission to reduce gun violence, but the unpleasant weather kept most people away from the market today. Normally the market is so packed that you can't walk past five stalls without bumping into someone. Today, sometimes five minutes would go by at a time without someone walking by. In fact, I think it wasn't until after noon before the patrons of the market actually outnumbered the people in the stalls.  Darned rain and cold!  I was thankful that the stall I got was covered.

But I didn't let the unseasonable weather get me down. I was right behind the main stage, and heard some great folk and blues music. I also met some very interesting people and had some good conversations. I love people-watching. The market is a great cross-section of the diversity of our community. In a quick scan of the crowd you can pick out hippies and yuppies, homeless and rich people, young kids and old seniors, runaway teens and close-knit families.

One person selling decorative nightlights shared her story with me about her and her husband being attacked by a drugged out intruder at their home. Despite the trauma of the attack, in which they were both injured, she hadn't in any way let insecurity sink into her. Though she is more careful than before, she hadn't felt the need to go pro-gun and arm herself as a result. If she had pulled out a gun, someone likely would have died that day, quite possibly her or her husband. She is thankful the attacker wasn't armed. She signed our email list and told me how supportive she was (and snapped this picture of me).

And then there is the guy in the stall next to me. He was even more to the left of me, politically. But I guess that's to be expected, given he sells far-left postcards and lapel buttons with political messages. We had a good discussion about guns in America compared to the impressions he had heard while in other countries. Foreigners he had talked to think America is awash in gun violence and that we are insane not to regulate guns as they do. I agree. One need only consider the comparative death rates.

I spoke with several dozen people during the day, including a quick visit by Mayor Kitty Piercy and her husband, as well as a homeless guy named "Frog" who sells homemade joke books (he's a regular at the Market, and known by everyone). Like I said, visitors to the Market are a true cross-section!

One other person who stuck out was the lone pro-gun guy who paid me a visit. A 60-something white guy with a Cabella's hat, it wasn't hard to guess his stance before he spoke. He asked what Ceasefire Oregon stood for, and when I told him we work to reduce gun violence in Oregon, he said, voice dripping with condescension, "Sounds an awful lot like you mean gun control."

"Yes," I said, "if by gun control you mean stricter regulation of guns, that is something we support, as well as education about the dangers of guns in the wrong hands."

He scrunched up his face and said, "So you want to ameliorate our second amendment rights, huh?" (He said ameliorate, which is a word that means "improve", but from his tone it was clear that didn't know the meaning of the word and he really meant "remove", or did he mean to say "attenuate"?).

"No," I said, "our goal isn't to remove peoples' second amendment rights, unless they are criminals or mentally ill."

"Uh, huh.  You just want common sense regulation of guns," he said with sarcasm.

"That's right," I replied.

With a sly smile he started walking away, as if he had made some point to me. But I got his attention again by mentioning our ASK campaign, where we encourage parents to ask about guns where their children play and how they are stored, to decrease the chance for deadly accidents, as an example of our educational goals. "And who do you ask?" he asked.

"The parents," I replied, then invited him to read a copy of the article I recently published on the topic. I think he was trying to bait me into a discussion about talking to kids about gun control instead of their parents.

"Uh, huh," he said again, as if I were lying about something, then he left without another word, smirking. He didn't take a copy of the article, by the way. ;)

Despite the weather, I would like to thank the organizers of the Saturday Market for allowing us to have the non-profit booth (they allow any given non-profits to have the booth only one time during the summer), and I look forward to sitting there again next year.

And speaking of the ASK campaign, please note that June 21 is National ASK Day. If you have children in their teen years or younger, I urge you to ask about guns wherever they visit, including the homes of their friends and your own relatives, and insure that if there are any guns there that they are kept locked and unloaded during their visit.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sarah Palin and "Takin' Away Our Arms"

Leave it to Sarah Palin to turn Paul Revere's ride into a statement about "gun-grabbing."  In a wonder of historical revisionism, she stated about Paul Revere, in one of her famous off-the-cuff blunders,
"He who warned the British that they weren't gonna be takin' away our arms by ringing those bells, and makin' sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed."  
(See the video of her statement HERE). (Another SOURCE).

Later, in trying to defend her earlier comment, she explained,
"Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there. That, hey, you're not going to succeed. You're not going to take American arms. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual, private militia that we have."
Yes, according to Palin, Paul Revere made his ride not to warn his comrades about the advancing British, but to tell the British they couldn't take away our arms.  And, heck, why not throw in a random reference to a "private militia" (Not that private militias were recognized by the nation, the British, or Paul Revere.  "Militias" as they were defined at the time were state-organized armies).  Ms. Palin, please unload your half-cocked mind and stop seeing the world as if through rifle sights.

HERE is a description of the true events of that night and Revere's real, more patriotic motivations.

I can't claim to be surprised by Palin's revisionism, nor the attempts of her fans to re-write Wikipedia's entry on Paul Revere to match her new history.  It's just another predictable pro-gun statement by a public figure who is known for such extremist views.  And it makes for yet another semi-entertaining media circus for her to wallow in.

I wonder, if left to her devices, how would Palin further revise history?  Hmm....  HERE is one interpretation:

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Article On The ASK Campaign Was Published

Yesterday was a day of highs and lows.

It started out great.  I found out an op-ed article of mine was published in this month's issue of Metro-Parent Magazine, a Portland, Oregon family magazine.  The article features the ASK Campaign, the need for safe storage of guns around children, and a quick introduction for the need for Child Access Prevention laws.  Here is a link to the issue; see page 28 for my article:  http://www.metro-parent.com/issues/june11/june11.pdf

June 18 is National ASK Day.  The ASK campaign advocates that parents ask about guns and their storage wherever their children play, such as at a friend's house.  For more on the ASK campaign, please see my PREVIOUS POST, or visit the originator of the program, PAX (www.paxusa.org).

It is all too common, I'm sorry to say, that tragedies happen due to ready access of unlocked and loaded weapons by children.  Just last week, for instance, a 2-yo boy shot and killed his 6-yo sister after finding a loaded semi-automatic handgun in his father's bedroom.  When police responded and searched the home, they found an amazing 53 guns in the home.  Five children, between the ages of 2 and 15, lived in the home.  What would the father have said before the shooting, I wonder?  Would he have claimed his children knew not to touch the guns without his supervision?  That they were stored safe enough?

I spent the day outside, enjoying the (finally!) warm weather here in Oregon and watching my 5- and 6-yo kids play on their Slip-N-Slide and ride bikes.  I'm glad I don't have to worry about them accessing guns in our home, or the homes of the friends we visit.

Yesterday ended on a sad note, though.  Around 6:30, a 19-yo young man was shot twice outside a local indoor putting range and arcade, called Putters.  He was shot by another young man, thought to be 18 years old.  The victim was out in the parking lot listening to music with relatives when the assailant approached and started shooting.  The victim was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive.  Though it is legal in Oregon for someone 18 or older to possess a handgun or to purchase a handgun privately, it is illegal for them to be sold a handgun from a licensed seller (until they are 21).  So where did the youth get his weapon?  Currently he is on the run.  This is the age demographic most at risk for gun violence.

Remember, every gun in the hands of a child first passed through the hands of an adult.