Friday, January 20, 2012

The Ten Most Shocking College Crimes of All Time

You may recall about a month ago how there was another shooting on the grounds of Virginia Tech, where an apparently mentally-unstable student from Radford University, Ross Truet Ashley, age 22, shot and killed a VT police officer for no apparent reason before taking his own life.  I posted on the incident HERE.

One of my readers alerted me to an article that she and her colleagues over at www.onlinecolleges.net put together:  “The 10 Most Shocking College Crimes of All Time.” 

Of those ten crimes, seven of them were mass shootings.

The gun lobby sees no problem with arming law-abiding college students on campus.  How many of these criminals would have been previously law-abiding citizens prior to their shootings, as the most recent VT shooter had been?  As far as I know, all of them were law-abiding citizens able to pass a background check, with the dubious exception of Cho (the first VT shooter, who passed his background check due to poor reporting by the state).  Here in Oregon, if a would-be shooter were to arm himself to the teeth, but had a conceal carry permit, there would be no legal reason to stop them from walking into a classroom or anywhere else on campus – until they pull the trigger.  Then it’s too late. 

It’s also important to note that, despite the horrific nature of these mass shootings, very little has been done to prevent them in the future.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2011 in Review - Part II (what we've done)

In Part I of this two-part posting, I detailed the gun-related crimes from the Eugene area.  Now, let me turn to how our efforts were spent in 2011.

2011 was a very busy year for the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation.  First off, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of this blog, New Trajectory, which has helped us reach additional audiences and understand the pro-gun side better.

We have organized three gun turn-ins in Portland over the past 13 months, cosponsored by Portland Mayor Sam Adams, the City of Portland, and the Portland Police Bureau.  These events removed over 400 more guns from our community.  In the words of Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk, referring to our 16 years of gun turn-ins: "The past successes of the Ceasefire Oregon Gun Turn-in are significant.  Collecting over 7,500 firearms is not only commendable, but clearly marks Ceasefire Oregon as a success."

We hosted a dinner with distinguished guests in Portland, and we participated in the annual Safety Fair at the Portland Zoo.  We also continued to distribute ASK brochures, which encourage parents to ask whether there are guns where their children play.

We've had a busy year ramping up our activities in the Eugene / Springfield area.  Each of the last few years, shootings have been increasing, as I detailed in Part I of this two-part posting.

In May of 2011, Colin Goddard visited our area, giving presentations to local students and the public and showing a documentary about the shooting, entitled "Living for 32."  Young, handsome, charismatic, and humble, Colin proved to be an excellent advocate for sensible gun laws in our country.  Over the course of five days, Colin gave eight presentations to an estimated 877 people, including students at Thurston High School (site of the Kip Kinkel shootings), South Eugene High School, Oregon State University, and the University of Oregon, and in three cities (Portland, Eugene, and Corvallis).  He also gave interviews with two radio stations, three TV stations, and three newspapers.  Colin continues to tour America, speaking mainly at universities, but also giving presentations of the film and addressing Congress.

On Mother's Day, we were represented in the annual Million Mom March awareness walk in downtown Eugene.  With over a hundred attendees, including Mayor Kitty Piercy (a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns), Colin Goddard from the Brady Campaign, and organizations such as Veteran's for Peace, speeches were made in honor of slain officer Chris Kilcullen, and then the marchers walked several miles along the Willamette River.  There was excellent media coverage of this event. 

In June, corresponding with National ASK Day, Ceasefire had a table at the famous Eugene Saturday Market to engage Market-goers. 

In late August, Ceasefire had a "car" in the Peace Train, where a number of local Peace groups form a train of moving plywood "cars" behind a  train "engine", each car decorated with the group's name and support for peace and non-violence, as part of the Eugene Celebration parade.

Finally, toward the end of the year, we had an information table set up at the Bijou Theatre's showing of The Interrupters.

in 2011, our legislative affiliate, Ceasefire Oregon, successfully opposed 25 dangerous bills introduced in the Oregon legislature which would have significantly weakened Oregon gun laws, some substantially.

Among the bills the gun lobby worked hardest to enact were bills that would have (1) permitted anyone with a concealed handgun license (CHL) from any state to carry loaded, concealed handguns in our state even if the person did not meet Oregon’s CHL requirements; (2) removed the Oregon State Police from conducting background checks for gun dealers, sending them directly to the FBI instead, and thus enabling Oregonians with serious mental health problems to nonetheless purchase guns (because their records aren’t in the FBI’s databases); and (3) required sheriffs to keep the names of CHL holders secret, thus ensuring that sheriffs could not be held accountable for their decisions regarding the granting of CHLs, precluding people with legitimate concerns about specific individuals from learning whether those people had CHLs, and preventing the media and other researchers from ascertaining exactly how many CHL holders commit crimes.

All those bills were defeated.  The gun lobby, in fact, saw only one of its proposals enacted, provisions regarding the carrying of firearms on ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.  Sadly, no sooner had that bill taken effect, when there was an accident where a rifle transported loaded and unsecured (as is now legal to do) was unintentionally discharged, wounding a hunter.

Formidable challenges to sensible gun regulation in Oregon in 2011 were also posed by the courts.  Pushed by an extremist firearms group, a case reached the Oregon Court of Appeals, which overturned a long-standing policy by the state university system to prohibit guns on the property of Oregon universities.  Bolstered by that decision, that extremist group is now bullying grade school systems to allow guns on their campuses.  Threatening endless lawsuits if they didn't comply, they persuaded the Newberg school system to allow concealed weapons there, despite an initial resistance by their superintendent and school board.  It is ridiculous that extremists are able to endanger our children in this manner.

In another strike against common sense, the Oregon Supreme Court also ruled that medical marijuana card holders could now be allowed to carry concealed weapons in public.  "Guns for Stoners" makes no sense, given that there is no law in Oregon prohibiting the carrying of loaded weapons if under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  It only becomes illegal when the trigger is pulled, but then it's too late.  Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, so this is how it will stay unless the legislature steps in.

So, as you can see, 2011 was a year of great strides in getting our message out to the public and opposing dangerous legislation, but more needs done to protect us against those who wish to roll back protections for the public.  We welcome any and all help you wish to give.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of my heroes.  I celebrate his legacy every year.  My family has four different races represented in it:  African-American, Caucasian, Native American, and Latino.  So King's message of the peaceful coming together of all Americans is an important one for me, which I live every day.


From King's Nobel Prize acceptance speech (Dec 10, 1964):
Sooner or later, all the peoples of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.  If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation.  The foundation of such a method is love.
For those pro-gun folks who read this, and point out that King had protected his family by requesting a conceal carry permit or having them in his house, I offer you this quote from him:
"How could I serve as one of the leaders of a nonviolent movement and at the same time use weapons of violence for my personal protection? ... I was much more afraid in Montgomery when I had a gun in my house. When I decided that I couldn’t keep a gun, I came face-to-face with the question of death and I dealt with it. From that point on, I no longer needed a gun nor have I been afraid. Had we become distracted by the question of my safety we would have lost the moral offensive and sunk to the level of our oppressors."
I also will add this quote by him:
"By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim, we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes." 
Today's post over at Common Gunsense is an important one which pretty much says it all.  Thank you, japete, for your post:
http://www.commongunsense.com/2012/01/we-remember-dr-martin-luther-kings.html?spref=tw


I urge my readers to pay tribute to King and his legacy of peace and non-violence in some manner this week.  Do something uncharacteristically understandng to help your fellow man, volunteer for an organization that espouses non-violence, or attend an MLK celebration.  Peace be with you.


(updated 1/16/12 with additional quotes)
(image taken from HERE)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The "Too Many Victims" Candlelight Vigils - Eugene

Last Sunday, January 8, 2012, on the first anniversary of the Tucson shooting, there was an event held across the nation:  69 candlelight vigils in 22 states plus Washington, D.C. to memorialize those who have been killed and injured by gunfire. 

One year ago, 6 people were killed, including a 9-year old girl and a federal judge, and 13 injured, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, when a mentally-ill shooter, who had legally purchased his guns, opened fire during an informal "meet your congressman" meeting at a shopping center.  And yet, since then, nothing has been done to keep it from happening again.  If anything, restrictions on guns have decreased, particularly in Arizona, where the shooting took place.  A vigil was held there, too, led by Congresswoman Giffords.

Mayor Kitty Piercy, at left, holds a candle before speaking.
By the latest estimate, over 110,000 people in America are shot each year in homicides, suicides, and accidents.  Around 30,000 of them are killedAs I blogged about recently, there have been 14 shootings in 2011 that I know of here in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon, not counting suicides, with 9 dead and 6 injured.  There are TOO MANY VICTIMS.  This isn't just a question of gun rights.  It's an urgent public health crisis.

Visiting the homepage for the event, at www.toomanyvictims.org, you can read dozens of touching tributes to those who have been lost, and read the accounts of many of the vigils that were held.  Each vigil was different.  Some had marches.  Others rang bells.  Some were outdoors.  Some were in churches.  Different organizations took part in coordinating the events.  But they all had one goal in common:  advertising the fact that too many people die in American from gunfire and that attention needs to be given to commonsense solutions.  It is not a coincidence that America leads the world in non-military civilian shooting deaths among industrialized nations, and that America also has the highest gun ownership per capita in the world (with 90 guns per 100 people, we far surpass the next highest, Yemen, which had 61 per 100).

Baldr Odinson describing the need for better background checks.
Even though temperatures were in the mid-30's, here in Eugene, Oregon, around 50 people attended our vigil on the steps of the old Federal Building.  Betsy Steffenson, representing Million Mom March and the Peace Caucus of the Democratic Party of Lane County, spoke of the slaying of Officer Chris Kilcullin at the hands of a dangerously mentally ill shooter who bought her gun legally (just as the shooter in Tucson had) and the recent shooting of the Ranier ranger, Margaret Anderson.  Denise Baker spoke next, representing Lane County Suicide Prevention Program.  She described the suicide of her teenage daughter, Jennifer, who had been trained from a young age to respect and shoot guns, and about the need for safe storage of firearms in homes with children.  I spoke next, representing Ceasefire Oregon, talking about the number of victims in Lane County and the nation and the need for better background checks, including for all private sales and for mental health reporting.  Finally, Eugene mayor Kitty Piercy, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (along with about 600 other mayors), spoke of the need for civility in our public discourse and the disturbing availability of guns to those who would abuse them.

A moment of silence and candlelight in Eugene.
After the speeches, there was a moment of silence.  This was followed by a somber reading of names of those who have been killed an injured in the Eugene area.  Members of the audience were invited to add names of others who had not been included on the list.  One came up and dedicated her candle to those who, though not shot, had been threatened by guns and raped or assaulted.  Another name was for Stephen Ogg, a 20-year old who, just the week before, was killed in an accidental shooting by his juvenile brother, even though they had grown up with guns, lived on the grounds of the Emerald Empire Gun Club, and were custodians of the gun club.  Family and friends of Stephen were in attendance at the ceremony, and had passed out orange ribbons with his name on them, which everyone wore.  It was a very emotional moment when his name was read.

Finally, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace to close the ceremony.  It is a poignant moment which will stay with me forever.

HERE is a link to a local news article and video, from KVAL news, which aired just after the ceremony concluded.

And what did the pro-gun extremists do to commemorate the Tucson shooting and shooting victims?  Nothing at all.  Instead, they made juvenile and insulting videos, like THIS one, and had a gun show, in Tucson, on the same day as the anniversary.  Pitiful.

There are too many victims of gun violence every year in America.  It's time to take steps to reduce these numbers.  Together, we can make a new trajectory for our communities away from gun violence.


Images are courtesy of Jasmine Rose Penter, photographer and volunteer for Ceasefire Oregon.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Blog: Kid Shootings

I am pleased to announce the creation of a new blog, called "Kid Shootings" :


http://kidshootings.blogspot.com


I am one of the co-authors on this new blog, which focuses on the widespread problem of children killed and injured by gunfire or getting their hands on guns without permission or adequate supervision.


Somewhere around 3,184 minors are killed each year, according to the most recent data available (2006), and another 17,451 or so are injured.

This means one young life lost every two hours and 45 minutes, almost nine every day, 61 every week. 
Of these deaths, 2,225 were homicides, 763 were suicides and 196 were due to an accident or undetermined circumstances. Boys accounted for 2,815 of the deaths; girls for 369 deaths. More than five times as many children and teens,17,451, suffered non-fatal gun injuries.


But statistics hardly do justice for the victims.  "Kid Shootings" was created to give a human face to the tragedies, to illustrate the widespread nature of the problem, and to dispel myths about children and guns which are perpetuated by the pro-gun side.
Peace, and Happy New Year's.