Saturday, May 18, 2013

Universal Background Checks Prevent Criminals From Getting Guns

Oregon Senate Bill 700 requires a background check before a gun is sold or transferred between private parties, except transfers to immediate family members and domestic partners.  Enacting SB 700 will make it more difficult for criminals and other dangerous people to obtain firearms.

Unlike most states, under current Oregon law, licensed dealers and sellers at gun shows must run a background check on the prospective buyer before selling a fierarm.  Background checks, conducted by the Oregon State Police, reveal whether the potential buyer is a felon or a fugitive, has been adjudicated mentally ill, has been convicted of domestic violence, or can't lawfully own a gun for other reasons.  But private sellers (everyone other than licensed dealers) who are not at gun shows may sell or give guns to anyone without first running a background check.  Does that make any sense?  No.

Oregon Senate Bill 700 will change Oregon law by requiring that most gun sales between private parties be preceded by a background check, and it will therefore establish universal background checks in Oregon.  Ceasefire Oregon supports SB 700 because:

  • Universal background checks are the easiest, most efficient way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, people who are dangerously mentally ill, and others who should not have guns.
  • Universal background checks will not prevent law-abiding citizens from buying or owning firearms.
  • Universal background checks have overwhelming public support.  A January 2013 poll found that 81% of Oregonians support universal background checks on all gun sales.

Background checks work.  From 1994 through 2008, background checks prevented 1.8 million prohibited people in the United States, including felons and the mentally ill, from buying guns (according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics).

If you live in Oregon, tell your legislators to support SB 700.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Successful Mother’s Day Weekend for Ceasefire Oregon

Baldr Odinson (at right) speaking, for Ceasefire Oregon, at the
2013 Million Mom March rally and march for peace in Eugene
(photo by Jasmine Rose Penter)

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, a day when children everywhere show their love for the woman who raised them, and that mothers return that love.  Here in my home it was special, with my wife showered with homemade gifts from our two small children, in a safe and loving home, and a gift and call to my own mom, whom I will be visiting in another state later this year.

But Mother’s Day is different this year.  Still fresh in our nation’s collective experience is the horror that was Newtown.  Since that horrifying day, when 20 little children were gunned down, along with 7 adults, at least another 71 kids *under the age of 12* have been killed by gunfire in homicides and accidents, according to Mother Jones magazine.  From the article:
An average of 197 children ages 12 and younger died from gun shots each year from 1999 through 2010, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dozens are killed annually in accidents—often with other young kids firing the gun—although the majority die in homicides. 
Among the 71 shooting deaths we analyzed from the past five months: 
  • 40 killings were unintentional and 31 were alleged homicides.
  • The most common scenario was kid-on-kid: At least 29 of the accidental deaths occurred when a kid under 17 pulled the trigger.
  • The average age of the victims was just under six years old.
  • 20 victims were girls and 51 were boys.
  • The problem was worst in the South: Florida had the most kids killed (four accidents, five alleged homicides), followed by Ohio and Tennessee (four accidents and two alleged homicides in each state), followed by Alabama (two accidents, two alleged homicides) and South Carolina (four accidents).

I see it every day, in dozens of email Google alerts, which I try to post whenever I can to the Kid Shootings blog.  But there is no way to keep up with them all, without taking away time from my own parenting and work responsibilities.  As we say at the Kid Shooting blog, over and over again: “Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.”  Children and guns don’t mix, and it is the gun owners, usually the parents, who are typically responsible for allowing access to guns in these tragedies.

Many accidental shootings happen in or around a family home, often involving kids playing with guns. Others involve parents accidentally shooting their kids. These incidents don't exactly shore up the gun lobby's claim that Americans need to secure their homes with handguns or even AR-15 assault rifles. Public health researchers have found that having a gun in the home puts gun owners and their families at higher risk of being shot intentionally or accidentally. Forty-three percent of homes with guns and kids contain at least one unlocked firearm. And one study found that a third of 8- to 12-year-old boys who came across an unlocked handgun picked it up and pulled the trigger.

But we needn’t just shake our heads and despair.  We have to take action to limit the violence.  Ceasefire Oregon has been active in trying to get the word out about the dangers of gun violence.

Last Saturday, Ceasefire Oregon held its annual gun turn-in in Portland, and hundreds of people showed up.  485 firearms were turned in, in exchange for gift certificates to Fred Meyer and Safeway stores.  Among those guns were four assault weapons.  These are weapons, in working condition, which are now out of the hands of those who feel unsafe having them in their homes, who have inherited them from deceased relatives, or who have come to the realization that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to harm you than to be used to protect you.  From an article:
“Given the recent events at Clackamas Town Center, Newtown, Connecticut, and elsewhere, people are obviously thinking twice about having weapons in their homes,” said Penny Okamoto, Ceasefire Oregon’s executive director. “The huge turnout we had today is clear evidence of that.” 
The number of weapons turned in was the highest since 2001, when 504 guns were turned in. Nearly 8,290 guns have been turned in since the annual event began in 1994.Participants who turned in working guns received gift certificates from Safeway or Fred Meyer. Handguns merited a $100 gift certificate, with rifles and shotguns getting $75, assault weapons $150, magazines with 50-round capacities or more $25 and pellet and BB guns $10.
And then, on Sunday, Ceasefire Oregon joined with Million Mom March for the 14th annual march for
Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy addressing the
audience at the 14th annual Million Mom March
rally and walk for peace
(photo by Jasmine Rose Penter)
peace in Eugene, Oregon.  Around 100 people showed up to hear live music, speeches from Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, MMM organizer Betsy Steffensen, and myself, and then march 2-3 miles along the river trail in solidarity to reduce gun violence. 


About 100 people met at the Eugene Water & Electric Board Plaza along the Willamette River and listened to statements from Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and others who chose Mother’s Day to advocate for gun legislation reform. 
Several speakers echoed the words of the Dalai Lama, spoken during his sold-out presentation Friday at the University of Oregon, during their remarks at the plaza before embarking on a one-mile walk along the river to the Owen Memorial Rose Garden. 
Piercy said she is disillusioned by the absence of change in state or federal gun laws, even in the wake of the massacre shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December. She paraphrased the Dalai Lama when she said “never give up” and encouraged everyone to work together to put pressure on politicians to enact more thorough background checks for gun purchases. 
“We have to care about each other’s well-being,” Piercy said, again citing the Dalai Lama in saying the “core of peace” is caring about others.
I spoke mainly on the false assumptions that the pro-gun crowd make regarding “rights” granted by the Second Amendment, versus the historical truth of the amendment according to the Supreme Court and Constitutional scholars, and the difference between *having a right* and what *is* right to do.  My speech was well-received.  As I've said before, I greatly enjoy speaking in public on this issue, and will have other chances soon.

Mothers, hug your children tightly.  According to one study, around 3000 teens and children die every year in America to gunfire, and another 14,000 are injured.  I've seen it myself, when one teen shot another to death just a few feet from me, and in the death of a young friend in a suicide.

We have to work hard as responsible parents and citizens to limit those numbers, through child access protection laws and other sensible gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and youths, and create a new trajectory for our communities away from gun violence.


ADDENDUM (5/15/13):  A related article, written by the mother of a Sandy Hook victim, about the poignancy of losing a child to gun violence as a mother, particularly when Mother's Day comes around, by Rebecca Bond, who started the organization EVOLVE:

When I started Evolve, after the horrific tragedy of Sandy Hook, it was because I could not contemplate anything more unimaginable than taking away the life of a child. My child or another mother's child. One of our human miracles. It wasn't about guns to me. It was about a mother's conscience and the unfathomable idea that 20 children could be massacred and what if? What if nothing happened and we continue to look away from the truth about gun violence and gun behaviors in this country? As a mother, it was too unimaginable to consider. 
What drove me to start Evolve is knowing that we have to do better. That as mothers we must do better to make saving a life our priority. We know that human life is fragile because we know first-hand the miracle of creating one. We also know once that life is created, we must do everything within our power -- within our society's power -- to ensure that life does not go to waste. 
Guns are powerful, but human choice is more powerful. More powerful than a gun, more powerful than legislation, more powerful than the Second Amendment.

.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 3D Printed Gun, And The Shameful Extremist Behind it

The world's first functional 3D printed gun
(UPDATED -- see below)

What would you think of a person who hands a gun, free of charge, no questions asked, to every complete stranger they came across?  Is this insanity, or an example of “freedom?” 

What if the person giving away the guns knew that some of the recipients were felons, domestic abusers, or even terrorists?  Is he a hero of “liberty,” or does this make him an accomplice to murder?

Now, what if the person giving away the guns did so for purely ideological, insurrectionist reasons, advocating for the downfall of all governments?  Is this some sort of honorable libertarian ideal, or the act of a terrorist?

Finally, what if, instead of giving away free guns, he instead gave away plans on how to make them cheaply and secretly? 

Let me introduce you to Cody Wilson and his organization of volunteers, called Defense Distributed.  Wilson has done something not publically done before:  he has used a 3D printer to make plastic assault weapon parts, high-capacity magazines, and, now, a fully-functional gun in its entirety, and distributed the plans for printing them to the entire world, free of charge.

And the plans have been downloaded to the tune of 50,000 downloads on its first day.

The gun he made, which he calls the “Liberator” (designed after a gun dropped behind enemy lines in WWII Europe, China, and the Philippines to aid resistance fighters), is entirely made out of plastic except for a nail for the firing pin and a tiny lump of metal to skirt the law against plastic firearms (the Undetectable Firearms Act, due to expire at the end of 2013).  Of course, the lump of metal is completely unnecessary to the workings of the gun, and anyone printing their own from his plans can omit the lump completely.  Being made of plastic, it is invisible to metal detectors.

And it works.  See below for a video of a test-firing with a .380 handgun round:



No doubt the gun manufacturers, themselves, have been making 3D prints of gun components for years, as part of their R&D, just as engineers and designers do in a wide range of fields.  The difference is that the printed gun parts aren’t intended as the final product, and, more importantly, they don’t share the plans with the rest of the world and whatever nefarious purposes people may have for them. 

It'll be interesting to see if the NRA says anything about this. Will they applaud this invention, given their "more guns in more hands is good" philosophy?  Or will they denounce it, since it would be taking away sales from the chief benefactor of the NRA: gun manufacturers?

Mr. Wilson doesn’t give a damn that his designs could fall into the wrong hands.  He has said so publically.  HERE in an interview with anti-government extremist Alex Jones, Wilson takes pride in the fact that his designs are “on the web forever” and completely unregulated, able to be accessed by anyone, from terrorists to anarchists like himself (another thing he takes pride in).  And he funds 99% of his efforts using Bitcoin, increasingly the currency of drug dealers and illegal arms sellers around the world.

In some interviews, Mr. Wilson has said that this isn’t a “second amendment thing,” but instead plays up the anarchist viewpoint, basically saying that he does it to remove governmental control over some aspect of society.  In one Popular Science Magazine interview, he even suggested he did it as some sort of test of the technology:
I tell people sometimes “we’re not making a Second Amendment argument.” The basic idea is to take a technology, play futurist, and surprise people. What can you do?

But don’t be fooled.  Mr. Wilson is a hardcore gun nut and insurrectionist.  Consider this quote from him, when asked in that interview if his invention is “the right thing to do”:

I heard Joe Scarborough say this, and this is a flagrant example. He said “I was a Second Amendment supporter but this has made me change my mind.” Well, then you never really were serious about it.

Apparently, to be “serious” about the Second Amendment, according to Wilson, you have to be willing to subvert the government.

Wilson even calls himself a “virtue-terrorist”.  And has expressed his insurrectionist philosophy thusly:

Beck, in his January interview, asked Wilson an obvious question: Does he have any concerns over the ends to which this kind of technology can be put?  “We’re doing this project and using this tech as a form of resistance,” the virtue-terrorist replied. “Of course we have concerns at the end of the day, but we see liberty under threat; we see sovereignty under threat. We must respond.”

And when asked about whether he is concerned that kids and other prohibited people could now print a gun using this technology and his designs, Mr. Wilson completely shrugs it off:

This is what so many people say--“well, the mentally ill, felons, and children will all have printable guns.” Well, yeah, sorry, but this is one of the negative dimensions when you lower the barriers to entry for certain things. It just is. So you must have a culture that is prepared to accept and adapt to these kind of realities, instead of pretending with these regulationist ideas that we’re still stuck in. We still just pretend that things are going to keep going the way they’re going--that somehow we’re going to have the resources and the state power to watch everyone’s 3-D printer. That’s absurd. So let’s accommodate.

Yes, that’s right.  Sure, the mentally ill, children or felons can now print their own gun, but, oh well, let’s just accommodate them.

Otherwise known as aiding and abetting.

Currently, the cost of a 3D printer like the one Wilson used runs many thousands of dollars.  Given that anyone (felon, mentally ill, whatever) can purchase a gun from a private seller, no questions asked, just about anywhere in the nation, printing a gun is far more inconvenient and costly.  But the cost becomes worthwhile if you are a prohibited person who is plotting to take a gun through metal detectors (say, in a courthouse, state building, or the U.S. Capitol) and commit an assassination, or if you are an international terrorist organization plotting an attack.  Wilson just saved the terrorists a lot of development time.  I’m sure he’s proud of that and justifies it behind talk of “liberty.”  I wonder what he will think when people start dying as a result.


Beyond a doubt, calmer heads will want to regulate these things. I'm not a lawyer, but I suspect this is one example in which technology may have raced ahead of the law. Is Defense Distributed selling guns or information? Is this a gun control issue or a First Amendment issue? Can the printers be regulated to refuse to print weapons, or could new designs simply circumvent existing prohibited products? 
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has expressed interest in legislation to block printable guns, so we'll see where it leads. As he puts it, "We're facing a situation where anyone -- a felon, a terrorist -- can open a gun factory in their garage and the weapons they make will be undetectable. It's stomach-churning." It seems that way. 
Don't get me wrong. I'm probably about as neutral as anyone can be on the issue of gun control. I believe law abiding citizens have constitutional rights to own weapons. But at the same time I believe in reasonable safeguards to make sure access to firearms is limited from criminals and those with chronic mental illnesses. 
In this sense, to me, printable guns are a step in the wrong direction. Granted, the actual impact of printable guns on societal violence is obviously unknown. Perhaps they'll remain so unreliable or difficult to assemble from the individual pieces that the impact will be negligible. Or perhaps not. 
Some have described Defense Distributed's efforts as a kind of political performance art. Very funny, Defense Distributed. We get it. I just hope we don't regret it.

And let's not forget that if someone out there does try to replicate Wilson's design, there's a pretty serious chance that they'll use too weak of plastic and wind up blowing off some fingers upon trying to fire the thing.  Of course, Wilson cares not at all for such concerns.  Public safety isn't a concern of his.

Believe it or not, a relative of mine (who is a teacher now) actually went to high school with Cody Wilson.  She describes him as being “nice and funny”, but “He was a fringe person. Part of the group in school that weren't quite Goths, but looking back as a teacher, one I would have had my eye on.”  Seems to me that Cody Wilson hasn’t changed much.  He might have lost his “not quite Goth” appearance, but I would say he still fits the “fringe” label, and seems to love the attention his morbid and lethal invention has brought him and his terrorist buddies who help him.

All in all, Wilson has shown himself to be full of philosophical babble in describing himself and his “accomplishment,” and has no qualms at all for arming any and all who wish it, but I can’t help but think he is na├»ve and foolish, and will eventually bear the shame of going down in history as one of the greatest illegal arms enablers in the world.

UPDATE (5/10/13):  The U.S. Defense Department has now forced the free online files for this gun and other gun component, from Cody Wilson, to be taken down from the DefCad website.  According to Wilson, there have been around 100,000 downloads of the plans.

From an article from PCMag.com:

According to a note atop the Defcad website: "Defcad files are being removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information." 
Defcad was announced at this year's SXSW. Its goal was to provide unfettered access to 3D printable firearms, as well as other designs that can be used to print anything from household tools to pharmaceuticals. 
According to a letter from the State Department obtained by Forbes, distribution of the files might be in violation of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). 
Specifically, the agency is concerned about the blueprint for the "Liberator" handgun, which had its first successful test fire this week, as well as nine other 3D-printed gun files. 
"Until the Department provides Defense Distributed with final [commodity jurisdiction] determinations, Defense Distributed should treat [those files] as ITAR-controlled," the letter said. "This means that all data should be removed from public access immediately."
UPDATE (8/13/13): As I had warned, others are now trying to follow Wilson's lead and optimize his 3D gun design.  Now another gun nut, this time in Canada, has made a working rifle that can fire at least 14 shots.  This isn't an issue that's going away, and presents a dangerous future.  From the article:
The gun maker, a tinkerer who would only reveal his first name, Matthew, told The Verge he felt confident enough about the weapon to fire it by hand, rather than attaching a string to the trigger as he had in earlier tests. 
"I was completely confident to hand fire, and will be taking it out again with a friend with a new barrel this week," he said in an email. 
Matthew had access to a Stratasys Dimension 1200ES industrial 3D printer at his job, where he makes parts for the construction industry. The printers cost $10,000 or more, but low-cost consumer models sell for far less and have ushered a revolution in 3D printing.
UPDATE (7/1/15):  Two felons in Oregon have been caught 3D printing the receivers for AR-15 assault rifles in their home, in order to circumvent the law.  Cody Wilson must be so proud that he is enabling felons to have lethal weapons....

UPDATE (11/25/15):  A man has now figured out how to 3D print a working revolver that fires .22 bullets.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Turning Points: A Local Eugene Man Discusses His Mission to Stop Gun Violence

I was recently interviewed by University of Oregon Journalism student Olivia Brand.  Olivia had an assignment to pick a topic of public impact and interview people related to it, and chose Gun Control as her topic.  I applaud her taking on such an important and sometimes divisive topic. 

We met at the university library for the interview, then had a short photo shoot at the location of where a rally would be staged the following weekend (so, unfortunately, there weren't any people at the plaza during the photo shoot, though I was able to display some signs to passing traffic and talk to a few people walking by).

You can read the interview and see the photos, HERE.  There are also links there to her interaction with the pro-gun community.

Here is an excerpt from her write-up and blog post:

Although Odinson volunteered for other community programs, it was not until his first child was born that he became active with gun regulation organizations. Odinson wants no child to Badlr Odinson explains Ceasefire to a curious man. be exposed to the gun violence that he saw as a teenager. He now works to stop gun violence because he, “…want[s] a better world for my kids, than the one I grew up in.” Through his volunteering, Odinson leads marches, conducts vigils, and blogs in order to make people aware of the issues of gun violence.  His motivation to stop gun violence stems from his experiences and his feeling that, “… pro gun activists tend to think of guns as often as a symbol of justice, […] protecting the American way, but it ceases to become that when you’re at the wrong end of the barrel and you’re holding a dead teen’s head in your arms, and it becomes exactly what it [a gun] was designed to be, a lethal weapon, that unfortunately once again wound up in the wrong hands.”

.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Survivor Story: Vicki G.

Shooting survivor Vicki G.
Today we have a survivor story from guest blogger Vicki G..  As she describes below, in 1991 she was shot three times in the back by a bank robber.  22 years later, she still suffers daily from debilitating pain which threatens her livelihood in Emergency Medicine, as a result of the wounds she received.  Now living in Ohio, Vicki supports gun violence prevention organizations in an effort to keep fewer people from suffering as she does.  Here is her survivor story....



I’m a Paramedic and ECG Technician, but I’m in the process of losing my job again. As a direct result of the damage my gunshot wound caused me, I haven’t been able to work full time since it happened. I miss too many days due to excessive pain.

I never considered guns and ammunition as anything other than something my brother, who has 20 rifles, used for catching game that he brought home and my mom cooked for dinner. He knew how to handle a gun and treated it with more respect than the guy who shot me did. To my brother, hunting was a sport for which you need to buy rifles and crossbow. He wasn’t obsessed with firearms, as the guy who shot me demonstrated was the case with him.

When I was in 9th grade there was a shooting at my school, one student shot another in the back for reasons I still don’t understand. After the shooting, a metal detector was placed at the front door of our school and that simple solution ended most of my concerns about gun violence.

I became reluctantly re-acquainted with the issue of gun safety on a December day in 1991, in West Hollywood, California. I went into my bank to cash a check from my second job, and three guys entered a few minutes behind me dressed in trench coats, which they dropped in unison; one started shooting out security cameras while the other two barred all the exits with something they declared was explosive if you stretch the wire it was attached to and “would kill anybody DUMB enough to try breaking out."

The one I came to view as their leader shot out the cameras with a sawed-off shotgun and another guy, with a gun that looked like it came straight off a military base, told us to gather together and don’t talk or do anything stupid. He informed us that his gun could shoot more than 150 bullets in 5 minutes, which I didn’t believe then, but the idea of ONE bullet entering my body daunted ME so I was prepared to do ANYthing they asked.

“All right you losers, “ he shouted, “this is a HOLDUP. Everyone get together in front of the counter but DON’T try anything stupid or the rest of these people will watch me blow your freakin’ brains out.”

One of the tellers didn’t move fast enough, and the lead robber shot him for it, surprising the guy who’d just threatened to blow out our brains with all the bullets his weapon could release; the leader would be the only robber who did any shooting of people.

The teller lay wounded for the next 5 hours, while the leader held us hostage for what the teller had done: pressed some silent alarm and alerted police.

While they were tying us together, one of the customers asked me who they were, as if I’d know. But the leader answered for me: “Who AM I? I’m your new Messiah, honey. Death angel with a gun.” Then he grinned in a way that reminded me of skeletons and graveyards.

I thought ‘Great. A REAL nut ball.’ Then wondered how the hell someone that imbalanced could get one gun, much less the arsenal that HE brought with him that day, including 3 other weapons besides the shotgun, a knife and several handmade explosives.

Little did I know they had no gun checks for people like him back then, that he could buy a gun without question by going to a gun show or making a private sale, avoiding the background check that would have proved he was on probation for a felony involving gun violence. They still have that loophole now, but I’ll return to it later.

For five hours he threatened the other hostages and me with his weapon, doing everything from holding it against my head and making me wonder if I’d ever see another sunrise to forcing me to stare down the barrel of his shotgun and demanding I tell him what I see.

It was pitch black all the way down the barrel. I had no idea what answer he was expecting, but I ventured a guess anyway since he obviously had the upper hand. “I don’t see ANYthing down there.”

“WRONG ANSWER!” he yelled, making me jump almost out of my skin.

“Bullets?” I managed.

He gave that death grin and said “You’re getting smarter by the minute. Now tell me where you think you’re going as soon as pull the trigger and blow out your brains.”

Up until that very moment in time, I’d always thought that I had a strong belief as to where I thought I was going after shedding the burden of this world for the ease of the next. But staring down the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun changed my mind; In less than a few seconds I went from positive to completely unsure of where I would go.

I told him I have no clue where I’m going, then started begging him not to shoot me. I felt like an idiot for displaying what he would have perceived as a weakness, but I no longer cared about anything other than living and couldn’t stop myself from doing it.

My life was saved because the phone rang. The Hostage Negotiator wanting to talk to the lead robber, who said no. Then the officer wanted to talk to a hostage to see if they were all right and for some reason the robber relented. He looked at all of us and picked the person who was closest to him, which was me. He dragged me over to the phone and said, “TALK to this cop. But don’t you dare say one wrong thing, or I’ll blow your head off and slit your throat, then THROW you out in the street for those fuckin’ pigs to stare at.”

Then: “Are you gonna say somethin’ wrong?”

I shook my head and he handed me the phone. The hostage negotiator provided me with a link to my sanity. His voice was so calm and controlled I was able to manage my emotions a teeny bit, and I started feeling gratitude for the SWAT Team right from that moment. I thought they were concerned about me, and I still think they cared about me.

The guy shot me while he was releasing me as the last hostage he set free. He said he had to and that it was “those cops’ fault ‘cause they didn’t leave when I told them to." One of his demands was that he wanted them to go back to headquarters, so he could do his heist and run free without their interference.

He shot me in the back three times with a .32 semi-automatic handgun. One of the bullets hit an area that contains a huge nerve network and damaged the one nerve along with causing radiating pain throughout the whole network. My doctor said that’s why the pain never diminishes.

They’ve tried everything to manage it. From leg braces and crutches to back injections and Physical Therapy. Most recently they added a T.E.N.S unit. That’s a box that comes with electrodes that are attached to patches I wear on my back so that a constant low wattage of electricity is sent through my back to manage the pain. So far it’s the only thing that’s worked but it works only 85 to 90% of the time. The other 10 to 15% is still really bad pain that prevents me from going to work consistently and thereafter losing my job. I lost my health care because I’m too high a risk and now have to use the only choice of insurance left, which isn’t a good insurance, but better than nothing.

Because of all these issues I have, I decided I would never wish on anyone else what I suffer on a daily basis.  The only way I can prove I’m serious is to care just what type of person can so easily get a gun that, even to this day, he STILL wouldn’t even have had to steal it. Criminals always choose the path of least resistance. They’re not going to steal a gun when they can buy one legally and not even have to worry about possible police involvement by way of tracing a stolen gun. They all have serial numbers on them these days, or some type of number, which makes them harder to steal. But having someone get one right under my nose “legally,” then shooting me and ruining the former life I had so that I can never do what I used to do, is way more than I’m willing to handle.

But I’m not the only one who needs to care about this issue. One of the doctors who works at the Trauma Center I used to work at summed the issue up best when he said, “A gunshot wound is totally preventable. We don’t HAVE to have gunshot wounds.”

Everyone, including responsible gun owners, needs to get angry enough about the senseless shootings that occur every day in this country and feel compelled to enact reasonable gun laws. There are ways to keep the wrong people from having easy access to a firearm without taking guns way from sensible gun owners. One of those ways is a Universal Background check, one done on everyone no matter who they are. No gun show exceptions, no personal sales exceptions.

Unfortunately, if respectable gun owners never feel the urge to do something, enacting reasonable gun laws will always be an uphill battle.

There are gun owners who already support this idea. You can find them on a Facebook page called Gun Owners for Gun Laws. I assume the people who started the page own their own firearms. Otherwise the title ‘Gun Owners for Gun Laws’ would make no sense.

I’ll always support sane alternatives to gun violence. It’s the one thing I can do that won’t cost me my job. Besides, doing something feels better than ignoring the problem. It’s obviously not going away until enough people get sick and tired of being sick and tired of gun violence.


ADDENDUM, from Vicki G.:  

I forgot to mention what their sentences were. 

One of them got 7 years for being an accomplice to robbery and two shootings. It was his first offense and he got out 5 years later, but he's never committed any other crimes since then.

The second got probation violation, which meant he had to serve out the rest of that sentence and then had felony robbery charges, weapons infractions charges and accomplice to two shootings. He ended up spending 15 years in prison and was released because his time was up. As far as I know, he hasn't committed any further crimes either, but he never did any of the shootings himself.

The third guy was guilty of Probation violation, weapons violations, felony robbery, hostage-taking, using a hostage as a shield (to stop police from following him) and shooting two people. He ended up being sentenced to 30 years in prison and he's only served 21 of them, but he wants out of prison as an Early Release prisoner even though he has no regrets for anything he's done. 

He's actually said he has no regrets. 

Anyway. That's their sentences as best I can remember them. It was a lot of information and back then I had mild traumatic brain injury from a near-death experience. I had great difficulty retaining memories.

I remember the shooter's sentence so well because right after it was given to him, he threatened to kill both the people he shot for putting him in prison.

That's why I don't want my last name given on my story.