Saturday, October 17, 2015

School Lockdown Drills Are This Generation's "Duck And Cover"

Yesterday my 10 year old daughter had another Lockdown Drill at her school.

An email announcement went out to us parents from the Principal, a few days before.  From the email:
During our drill on Friday, an intercom announcement will inform staff and students that the drill will begin. Staff will then be asked to secure their classrooms. Teachers will lock classroom doors, close the blinds, move students away from the windows, turn out the lights, and ask students to remain quiet. The drill will last about three minutes, at which point another announcement will be made that the drill is over.

And when the time came during class, the teacher locked the door and turned off the lights, and the kids had to huddle in the corner, absolutely quiet and still while they imagined an armed madman walking the halls of their school.  The teacher explained to them that, if the windows above them were shot out, it would be a harmless shower of safety glass cubes that could not cut them.  Then, he practiced walking quickly and orderly out the back door of the classroom, across the school grounds, and to a staging area in the neighborhood across the street.

The last time my daughter's school had a lockdown drill, she was in an after-school activity with a mixed-age class of kids, mostly younger than her.  Many of them were confused and started to cry, traumatized by the image in their mind of an armed lunatic coming toward their room.

This is the new normal in America.  It is practiced in my daughter's school at least as many times a year as fire drills, and more even than earthquake drills.  My 11 year old son had a drill in his school the week before.

But as traumatizing as this is, it is an increasingly-necessary precaution taken by schools.  Since our federal politicians continue to do nothing at all to keep guns out of the hands of murderous madmen, schools are left to pick up the difference, preparing their staff and students to fight for their lives or hide in darkened corners, or to follow the NRA's suggestion, highly-opposed, to make an armed camp out of our children's learning environment (which hasn't turned out so well for some schools).

Just this last week in the town of Springfield, Oregon, not far from where I live, Riverbend Elementary had to go into lockdown.  Police had gotten a tip that a convicted felon, high on meth and suicidal, was armed with a gun and headed to his child's school.  The school responded with the lockdown.  Luckily, police intercepted the man.  He was armed with three firearms in his car.

Two days later, in Salem, Oregon, three schools went into lockdown for 45 minutes, including South Salem High, Howard Street Charter Middle School, and Bush Elementary schools, when there was a shooting in the streets nearby.  One man was injured in the shooting.

A few days before that, two schools in Portland, Grant High School and nearby Beverly Cleary School, went on lockdown when two men were openly carrying semi-automatic assault rifles next to the schools.  

And, of course, we can't forget the Umpqua Community College shooting a couple weeks ago.

From Everytown's interactive map of school shootings
since 2013 (HERE).
Remember the "Duck and Cover" movement of the 1950's and '60's?  A whole generation of school children were asked to imagine a nuclear bomb hitting their little American towns and cities.  They were told that, if there was a big flash or a little warning, they were to immediately take cover under their desks and wait for an all-clear signal.  In their minds, they could imagine a nuclear bomb exploding and a massive fireball washing over their schools, burning them alive.  Nowadays, it's not a specter of a giant bomb killing them, but a more personal, and realistic killer walking their halls.  It's happened 150 times since 2013!  See an interactive map of them here.  And school shootings are increasing.

The Trace did a study of lockdowns and found an astonishing 100 school lockdowns (not drills!) in just a two-week period.  From the article:

[A]t least 100 lockdowns made the news during those two weeks. That’s an average of about 10 lockdowns due to a potential threat per school day. Of the 10 school days tracked, only one was incident-free."

And that's just the ones reported by media, that they could find with their searches.
Video capture from the ALICE training video shown to students.

School systems are now making videos and programs to teach students and faculty how to respond in the event of an active shooter incident.  One video, from an Ohio school system, even suggests that the students attack the shooter if they come in the room.  See it HERE.  It teaches the ALICE program (which stands for "Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate"), which is being taught in a number of schools and colleges around the nation.  The video, which is shown to students, shows a man with a handgun enter a classroom and the teen students attacking and swarming over the man, holding him down, all the while stating, "If it is necessary to counter the aggressor's attack, you may be able to distract and disrupt the aggressor's plan by putting him on the defensive and possibly even disarming him by swarming him into submission until police arrive." One student gets shot and goes down before the other students dogpile the shooter.

That's right, they are recommending that child students attack the shooter if cornered.

It's not enough now that school kids have to worry about grades, homework, tests, relationships, sports, and all the usual things that kids have to think about.  Now we are asking them to think about cold-blooded killers stalking their halls, and potentially having to fight them to the death!

This has to end.  The answer isn't to arm every teacher, faculty, or even students, as the gun lobby has suggested, or to turn our schools into fortresses.  The answer is to keep from arming the lunatics in the first place.  And the only way to do that is to pass sensible gun laws, such as universal background checks (like the one enacted this year in Oregon), better mental health reporting to the background check system, child access prevention (CAP) laws to keep guns out of the hands of school kids, and a renewed ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammo magazines.

Perhaps, if we pass such laws, lockdown drills at our schools will become a nightmare of the past, like "Duck and Cover" became, and we will find a new trajectory for our schools and communities away from gun violence.

ADDENDUM (10/21/15):  One pre-K school teacher from Virginia describes what it is like during a lockdown drill with her small students, trying to convey urgency without inciting fear or alarm, and the mental considerations that she has to endure as part of the process.  From the article "Rehearsing for death: A pre-K teacher on the trouble with lockdown drills":
Instead of controlling guns and inconveniencing those who would use them, we are rounding up and silencing a generation of schoolchildren, and terrifying those who care for them. We are giving away precious time to teach and learn while we cower in fear.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pro-Gun Responses To The Umpqua Shooting: Part II -- Politicians Weigh In, Democrats vs. Repubicans

(This is Part II of a two-part series.  Part I focused on the response by local pro-gun Oregonians)

UPDATED (10/13/15): The Democratic candidates debated the issue of gun violence prevention.  Watch it HERE.

It's been 12 days since the horrible mass shooting at Umpqua Community College.

The wounded are healing.  Some have been released from the hospital.  And those who died are being remembered in various memorial services, vigils, and special events. (Examples HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

As of today, UCC has resumed classes.  There is a high police presence today to help reassure students, and there is increased mental counselling and comfort dogs present.

As I said in Part I of the series, it's no surprise to anyone that there are polar differences between the two sides of the gun debate.  Nothing displays that difference more than the responses after a large mass shooting.

There is certainly a stark difference between the responses of Democrats and Republicans.  Beyond the standard and utterly-repetitive "They are in our hearts and prayers" statement, many high-profile politicians weighed in with more substantive comments.


For Democratic politicians, they firmly placed themselves in the gun violence prevention camp, calling upon new gun laws to help keep guns out of the hands of madmen like the one who attacked UCC.  These statements are growing in number and becoming less wishy-washy with every new mass shooting that happens (we now have more than one a day in America, by the way!).

President Obama set the tone with his address to the nation later that day, the 15th time he has addressed the nation after mass shootings [see this interactive map to see each of those speeches].  In his speech, he minced no words in his call to pass new legislation to help prevent another of what has become "routine" mass shootings in America, and chastised Conservatives for not taking action.  He then came to Roseburg, personally, last Friday, to pay his respects to the victim families and survivors.  At least one family member, a father of a deceased victim, felt comforted by the visit.

Oregonian legislators also weighed in.  Representative Earl Blumenauer gave a passionate speech on the House floor.  He also rolled out a comprehensive plan to combat gun violence.  Senator Jeff Merkley lost an extended family member in the shooting, the great-granddaughter of a cousin of his [the extremist Oregon Firearms Federation mocked Merkley as part of their response to the UCC shooting, suggesting that Merkley had to do "hours of geneology" to find a connection and that he did this to "roll around in the blood of the victims at pressers and photo ops"].  Later, both Merkley and fellow Oregon senator Ron Wyden joined together in calling for stricter gun reforms, including background checks for all gun sales, strengthening the NICS background check system, and better prosecution of "straw purchase" sales.  

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has always been an advocate for tighter gun laws, but after the UCC shooting, she stepped up her emphasis on this need by affirming that she would stand up to the NRA and call for universal background checks.  [Update: She has also signaled that she would consider a gun buyback programsimilar to the one Australia enacted.]

The other major Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has had a mixed history when it comes to gun reform, and has voted against some major gun reforms in the past.  He was against the Brady Background Check bill or waiting periods.  After the UCC shooting, he reversed some of his previous philosophies and released a statement that "consensus" is needed to prevent mass shootings.  He now wants to enforce instant background checks on all gun purchases, ban semi-auto assault rifle sales, make "straw purchases" a federal crime, and enhance mental health screening.  He has also said he would soon release a position statement on gun legislation, but to my knowledge has not yet done so.  On "Meet the Press," when pressed about his vote for the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," (PLCAA)—which gave gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers unprecedented broad immunity from civil litigation—Sanders softened his position significantly, stating, "That was a complicated vote and I’m willing to see changes in that provision ... So can we take another look at that liability issue? Yes.”

A lesser-known Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O'Malley, has come out the strongest for gun reform and says he has a plan that includes a ban on assault weapons, "fingerprinting and licensing for every person who purchases a gun and for changing the laws so that trafficking illegal guns is a federal crime. He also urged the federal government to refuse to buy guns from manufacturers that do not use all safety technology available, such as micro-stamping."


It comes as no surprise that no Republican politician or candidate has suggested any plan whatsoever to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  They basically repeat the NRA propaganda talk, calling for more guns in more hands, blaming the mentally ill, or shrugging the issue off completely.  Since the UCC shooting, they've truly tooted the NRA horn.

Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush was by far the most flippant.  When asked about what he would do in the wake of the UCC shooting, he callously responded "Stuff happens."  He went on to say that government wasn't the answer we should "connect ourselves" and that it may not be the "right thing to do" to respond to a crisis of this sort in any way.

Another presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, responded to the UCC shooting by saying that the teachers and students should have been armed, then puffed himself up by saying he owns a gun and would shoot anyone who attacks him.  How very macho of him.  He then doubled down on his callousness and called mass shooters "geniuses in a certain way" and shrugged off any attempts to keep guns out of their hands, simply saying "That's the way the world goes."  He had previously come out against any new gun laws and blamed the mentally ill.  Trump has come out with a position statement on guns, which basically echoes the NRA by reinforcing the idea of self-defense, expanding conceal carry, opposing universal background checks, and again blaming the mentally ill.  

Another Presidential hopeful, Bobby Jindal, long an advocate for expanded gun rights, suggested that the UCC shooting was the fault of the shooter's father, cultural decay, and video games, even though the shooter had hardly been in contact with his father for years, and all other advanced nations share much of our culture and all of our video games.  Funny how he doesn't blame the shooter's mother at all, given that she armed her son, trained him in firearms, and turned a blind eye to his violent behavior and unhealthy interest in other mass shootings.  Jindal's philosophy seems to be a failed one, though, given that Louisiana is the second highest in the nation for per-capita shooting deaths.

A fourth presidential candidate, John Kasich, blamed the shooting on "loneliness" and "alienation" and completely shrugged off the role of guns.  He again blamed the mentally ill, too.

A final presidential candidate, Ben Carson, blamed the victims of the UCC shooting by saying that they were too compliant and let the shooter kill them, stating that if only he had been in that classroom, he "would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, 'Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me but he can't get us all.'"  He also doubled down on his pro-gun rhetoric by saying "but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away."  Wow.  Apparently this doctor has forgotten his Hippocratic oath to prevent harm to patients and that, according to the oath, he has "special obligations to all my fellow human beings".  The heartless nature of Carson astounds even me!  Naturally, a great many people were incensed by his statements, including the daughter of a Sandy Hook victim.  Well, it turns out that Carson had been in a robbery at a restaurant years before, and when the gunman aimed his gun at him, Carson didn't attack him, but rather mildly said, "I believe that you want the guy behind the counter."  What a "hero."

Well, gun violence isn't a "Democrat" or "Republican" issue, as I see it.  Bullets don't care what your political affiliation is, and neither do most gunmen when they pull the trigger.  Gun violence is an urgent public health crisis, with 33,000 killed and 70,000 injured per year in the U.S. in gun homicides, suicides, and accidents.  Sadly, Republicans roundly refuse to consider ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands, preferring instead to proliferate guns in our society and blame boogeymen like the mentally ill, loneliness, or video games, or not caring about the issue at all.  So we need to vote for the candidates, whatever their party, who will do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands and have a plan to do so.

UPDATE (11/9/15):  Hillary Clinton has now unveiled her full gun violence prevention plan.

Music Video: "Among The Nine" by Caeli Barnhart

Caeli Barnhart, a singer/songwriter, was in a classroom at Umpqua Community College during the shooting there and experienced the terror of the lockdown and subsequent evacuation.

Caeli has now written a song and performed it on piano, entitled "Among The Nine," in memory of the victims of the UCC shooting.

HERE is an article about her song and her thoughts.  From the article:

Barnhart wrote the song in a half hour. 
“I was sitting there and just trying to think of what to do,” she recalled. “I just couldn't get their faces out of my mind.” 
Barnhart titled the song, “Among the Nine,” in memory of the nine people shot and killed at UCC. 
“The last lyrics in the chorus are, Bring me home, that I may rest among the nine,” she said. “When I'm singing it, I look to them for strength.”
Below is the YouTube video of her performing "Among the Nine" and the lyrics are printed below that.

(Caeli had also written and performed a song on guitar, in 2012, entitled "You Are Safe" in memory of the Sandy Hook shooting victims.)

"Among the Nine" by Caeli Barnhart (YouTube Link):


Thursday morning, just an every day
Not yet knowing, we'd be forever changed
Sit in the classroom, full of innocent eyes
This world that's been so cruel, had evil in mind

Bring me home, take me where love wins every time
Bring me home, where all of this darkness has no place to hide
Bring me home, I'm so tired
Bring me home, that I may rest among the nine

Tears and candles, filled the park with light
While broken families, wondered how to make this right
All of the faces, forever burned in our memory
Remind of changes, and the love we need desperately

Bring me home, take me where love wins every time
Bring me home, where all of this darkness has no place to hide
Bring me home, I'm so tired
Bring me home, that I may rest among the nine

It was their first year
It was their time for change
They chased their dreams here
And they stood for faith

Bring me home, take me where love wins every time
Bring me home, where all of this darkness has no place to hide
Bring me home, I'm so tired
Bring me home, that I may rest among the nine

Tell me why, tell me
Tell me why, just tell me

Addendum:  You can follow Caeli at:


Friday, October 9, 2015

Pro-Gun Responses To The Umpqua Shooting: Part I -- Roseburg Pro-Gun Locals And President Obama

(This is Part I of a two-part series. Part II focuses on the political responses).

It's no surprise to anyone that there are polar differences between the two sides of the gun debate.  Nothing displays that difference more than the responses after a large mass shooting.

I speak, of course, about the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College, where a lone gunman with a disturbing history armed himself to the teeth, killed nine people and wounded nine more, before killing himself.  Today, one of the survivors, who was spared by the gunman, gave details about the shooting.

And yet today there were two more shootings a schools (yes, in a single day).  One was at Northern Arizona
President Obama embraces Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich as
Oregon Governor Kate Brown stands by (source)
University, where a freshman (who has been arrested) shot four people, one of whom died, during an argument in a dormitory parking lot.  The other was at Texas Southern University, where a assailant (who is still on the loose) shot and killed a freshman and wounded another student in a campus housing complex.  [By a twist of karma, Texas just passed a bill allowing the legal carry of guns on campuses, much to the disapproval of most students, faculty and staff, just like everywhere else in the nation where such bill have passed.]

Today, President Obama visited Roseburg to offer his support and condolences to the victims of the UCC shooting, flying through my city of Eugene on the way.  To the lower right is a picture of Air Force One taking off as he left, taken by my wife.  He said in a brief news conference:
"I just had a chance to talk to them. Obviously, in moments like this, words aren't going to bring their loved ones back. 
"One thing they shared is how much they appreciate the entire UCC community coming together, how much they appreciate all their neighbors, all their friends and people all across the country who offered to help - sent their thoughts and their prayers. 
"What I just told the mayor, if there's anything we can do at the federal level to help the community heal from this loss, we're going to do that. I know that flying out here with some of the members of the Oregon delegation, they feel the same way.
Air Force 1 taking off from Eugene
The President's visit with family members was brief but poignant.  From another article:

“We’re going to have to come together as a country to see how we can prevent these issues from taking place” so regularly, Obama told reporters following the approximately hourlong, private meeting with grieving relatives of those who were killed and injured. “But today, it’s about the families, their grief and the love we feel for them.” The White House did not say how many people Obama met with.

The President had, a few days ago, addressed the nation in a very poignant speech which underscored his commitment to change our gun laws and calling upon legislators to change the continuing "routine" and cycle of gun violence and mass shootings.

Naturally, the pro-gun forces flipped out.  Not only have they been fluttering about "gun free zones" which UCC wasn't, and insisting that there should be more guns available (two myths that I blogged about the other day), but they have responded with very public statements and displays of armed force.

The owner of the gun shop in Roseburg couldn't be happier about the mass shooting in her town.  She told a reporter from The Guardian:
Candi Kinney, giddy about gun sales
with one of her lethal weapons in hand

“I’ve just ordered some more ARs,” said the owner, Candi Kinney, referring to assault rifles. “There’s always a rush on them after a big shooting. We can’t keep the stuff on the shelves.”
A shameless profiteer, Kinney also shows absolutely no remorse that some of the guns used in the mass shooting might have been sold to the killer and his mother by her store.

Yet, even if it’s revealed later that one or more guns involved in the shooting were purchased at the Roseburg Gun Shop, Kinney said she would feel no guilt.  
“Any of our firearms can end up in a crime,” Kinney said. “And they have. We have found out in the past that our firearms [were used] in different crimes. It is not our fault. We didn’t tell that person to go do such and such. We didn’t tell that person to go sell it to some druggie — it’ not our fault. We legally sold the firearm.”
What kind of person wouldn't feel at least some feeling of remorse if they had had a role in selling a lethal weapon to a mass shooter, legal or not??  Sick!

She was also quite happy about the President's response.  She is seen in an article smiling with her lethal weapons, and states:

“Gun sales have gone through the roof since he started talking,” said gun dealer Candi Kinney. “(The President) is our best salesman.”
Pro-gun protesters in Roseburg (source)

Today, the gun guys staged a public rally on street corners in Roseburg to "unwelcome" Obama, guns on hip, with anti-Obama signs waving. There were only around 150 of them, but they got quite a bit of media coverage.  They waved their Confederate flags and Gadsden "Don't Tread On Me" flags and shouted the typical pro-gun bumpersticker slogans.  One protester with a gun on his chest, is quoted as saying "Everybody should carry a gun."  Typical.

Well, it turns out, the organizer of the rallies is a guy named Casey Runyan, a member of the III%ers militia group, and a convicted felon.  Boom!  He has a prior record of felony assault.  What else would you expect?  As an activist, he has also attended legislative hearings for gun bills.  In one case, he rudely interrupted testimony by Captain Mark Kelly, husband to shooting victim and legislator Gabby Gifford.  He is also a failed GOP political candidate, too extreme even for the libertarian Tea Party lunatic, Art Robinson, to even support.  I guess serving eight months in jail for felony assault will do that.  I would assume that a felony assault record would prevent Mr. Runyan from owning guns, right?  Someone should look into that, given how openly pro-gun and activist he is.  Just another example of how the pro-gun movement is also pro-criminal.

And though the press has given a lot of text in their articles to the pro-gun antagonists and profiteers like Runyan and Kinney, there are certainly plenty of supporters in Roseburg, like this woman, or like the mayor and city council of Roseburg, who put out a statement in support of his visit.

Umpqua Community College students have been returning to campus, and classes start again on Monday.  I wonder how they feel about these shameless, pro-gun lunatics?

And, though southern Oregon is a bastion for pro-gun and conservative beliefs, I firmly believe that the majority of people there are not so jaded, rude, or overtly extreme as the people I mentioned above.  Let's hope they will speak up and refuse to be overshadowed by the vocal fringe.

Gun seller and shooter-sympathizer
Carolyn Kellim with one of her
lethal weapons (source)

Addendum (10/11/15):  One Roseburg gun seller, an elder lady with the ironic name of Carolyn Kellim, wants the world to know that she sympathizes with the UCC killer, stating "He was just a child ... He probably had his ups and downs, mostly downs. How are you going to come out of that if someone doesn't care."  And "bristles" at the idea of gun law reform, opposing any and all new gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of killers like the one she sympathizes with, suggesting that the only change needs to be "we need to love people a heck of a lot more."  She also calls the President the "executive anus."  So classy.  Oh, and even though she sells lethal weapons, some of which inevitably wind up being used to rob, kill, or injure innocent people, she wants the world to know that she a humanitarian because she donates proceeds of her gun sales to charity.  Sorry, grandma, but that won't make you a good person.

Addendum (10/20/15):  At least some Roseburg locals, including a physician and UCC board member, speak up in support of stricter gun legislation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer On Gun Violence

Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer responded to the Umpqua Community College with a floor speech at the nation's capitol, shaming his fellow lawmakers for accepting the status quo on our nation's gun violence record and making a call to action for us to institute changes like other, comparable nations have done.

I would quote some of his speech, but every sentence was significant and equal to such a point that I couldn't choose.  Please listen to the whole speech, which isn't long.

Video of his speech, via C-SPAN:

Thank you, Representative Blumenauer, for your wise words.  Let us hope that your colleagues listen to your advice and we create a new trajectory for our society away from gun violence.

ADDENDUM: Rep. Blumenauer has a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, which you can find on his homepage, here:

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Umpqua Community College Shooting Exposes Two Pro-Gun Myths

The last four days have been sickening.  Once again, a young loner with a history of deviant behavior came, heavily armed with handguns and an assault rifle, to a public place, and committed yet another heinous mass murder.

This time, as most of our nation knows by now, it was only an hour's drive south of where I live, at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.  It feels like it was next door.

The shooter entered a classroom and opened fire.  When the smoke cleared, nine people were dead and nine were injured.  The shooter, too, was dead, after having a shootout with sheriff's deputies and then killed himself.

Here is an article with a short biography and photo of each of the victims who died in the shooting:

What followed was a flurry of activity, repeated every time we have a mass shooting (which is more than once a day in America now -- yes, you read that correctly!).  There was initial shock, followed by varying news reports and chaotic flood of information -- some incorrect. Then there was outrage from the community and those of us who fight gun violence.  Next came the slow release of factual information, and statements from politicians.  This time some called for change, like President Obama.  Each mass shooting brings more public voices like his.  This was the 15th time he has had to come on to national TV and address another mass shooting.

And then came the usual parade of pro-gun comments about how the faculty and students should have armed themselves, and fluttering about "gun free zones."
The armed student at UCC, John Parker Jr.,
who didn't change the outcome (source)

Well, it turns out that there was at least one student who had a concealed handgun and permit, a vet named John Parker, Jr.  After considering whether to engage the shooter with others who may have been armed as well, he decided it would be wisest not to, for fear the deputies would mistake him for the shooter.  See a news interview with him, HERE.  I don't approve of having guns on campus other than in the hands of well-trained law enforcement or security, but he was in his state rights to do so.  I'm glad he chose not to play a vigilante hero and get himself killed.

And, surprise, Umpqua Community College wasn't a "gun free zone," either!  Umpqua Community College has a policy that firearms and ammo are forbidden unless expressly authorized by law, which would allow conceal carry with a valid permit since state law allows conceal carry on state campuses unless the institution disallows that, too (such as the University of Oregon, which can prohibit them in buildings or possessed by students, staff, faculty, or game ticket purchasers).

It should also be pointed out that the pro-gun myth that gunmen target places specifically because they are "gun free zones" has been debunked many times.  From a Mother Jones article:
Among the 62 mass shootings over the last 30 years that we studied, not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns. To the contrary, in many of the cases there was clearly another motive for the choice of location. ... 
No less a fantasy is the idea that gun-free zones prevent armed civilians from saving the day. Not one of the 62 mass shootings we documented was stopped this way.
A number of things kept the massacre from being worse: deputies arrived within just six minutes of the first 911 calls to shoot out with the shooter; the school had practiced active-shooter emergency response just a week before; faculty followed the rules and locked doors and took shelter; and a real hero stepped in to confront the shooter.  Chris Mintz was shot multiple times, but he will survive, and he bought a lot of time for others to escape and for law enforcement to arrive.

But having a student with a gun didn't solve any problems in this shooting.  Having a conceal carry vigilante shoot it out with the assailant very well might have led to bystanders getting killed or confusion by law enforcement.  Remember, in Oregon there's no requirement to even fire or own a gun in order to get a conceal carry permit, much less get training in how to remain calm in a shootout, negotiation skills, or a thorough understanding of the law -- unlike police. 

But the gun lobby, gun sellers, and their minions are happy to keep feeding us the myths of the conceal carry hero and "gun free zones" to stoke the fears of those who care more about emotional responses than the facts.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Op-Ed From The Guardian: Guns kill people in the US because we pervert the Second Amendment

Below is an op-ed article published in The Guardian, contributed by the Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon, Penny Okamoto. 

I urge everyone to read it.  In this moment of crisis for our state, in the wake of yet another massacre at the hands of another lunatic who was easily able to get his hands on high-powered weaponry, we need to re-focus on the real issues facing us.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

America’s gun violence, like our grief in Oregon, seems to know no bounds, no limits, no end. The reason is deadly simple: our very lives are chained to a constitutional amendment that is willfully misinterpreted by many and perverted by gun rights advocates for political ends.

That sullied amendment is the United States constitution’s Second Amendment which 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.” The gun industry and its supporters have turned that simple statement into a clever marketing tool, and Americans are paying the price in blood.

On Thursday, Roseburg, Oregon – a three-hour drive south of the Oregon’s largest city, Portland – was rocked by a deadly mass shooting that wounded seven people and took the lives of 10 others, including the gunman. Students were in classes at Umpqua Community College when a 26-year-old gunman shattered their world when he opened fire on them. They are, sadly, not unique: hardly a week has passed in the last three years without a mass shooting.
She goes on by pointing out that opponents, like the extremist pro-gun sheriff in Douglas county, attempt to scapegoat the mentally ill and push guns on the public as a solution.  Nonetheless, a concerted effort by Ceasefire Oregon and other organizations succeeded in passing universal background checks.

Okamoto then makes suggestions on how we can institute change:

But gun violence is a cancer in our nation and, just as no single drug will cure all cancers, no single gun law will cure all gun violence. Rather, we need comprehensive, effective legislation and caring, courageous leadership to change both America’s laws and Americans’ views on guns and gun violence. Too often, gun control advocates hear that nothing can be done to change things in this country, but that’s just not true.

Gun violence prevention researchers and advocates know that we can reduce gun violence by passing effective, common-sense laws, like background checks for all gun sales to stop criminals and those with demonstrated mental health issues and histories of violence from buying guns. Waiting periods between the time of gun purchase and possession can provide purchasers with a cooling-off period to help deter homicide and suicide. Instituting gun violence restraining orders can reduce violence by allowing family members and law enforcement to remove a gun from a loved one who is exhibiting warning signs of violence.

We can require – or at least heavily incentivize through liability statutes – that firearms be kept secured at all times with trigger locks or in a safe. We can reduce gun trafficking by allowing people to purchase only one gun per month. We can reinstate the federal assault weapons ban to ban the purchase and possession of high-capacity magazines and assault rifles, which are not necessary for the most dedicated home-defender or hunter.

And Americans can refuse to support lawmakers of any party who do not support “gun-sense” laws – like background checks, higher standards for gun ownership and funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – at the ballot box. We can challenge all 2016 presidential candidates to issue a plan to cut gun violence by 50% before 2020 (the final year of the next president’s first term in office), and Ceasefire has done so.
Then she summarizes with a message of hope:
We are citizens of a great nation, but our children, our mothers, our fathers and our friends are being mowed down, fed to the gun industry’s insatiable appetite for profit. Our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment to protect our country. Now we must protect our country from those who pervert the Second Amendment.
We know this can be done. We know this must be done. Our national nightmare of paying into the gun lobby’s profit machine must be brought to an end.

[Full article here:]


Thursday, October 1, 2015

An Initial Statement On The Umpqua Community College Shooting From Ceasefire Oregon

A statement released by Ceasefire Oregon:

Gun violence has ripped through our community, state and country once again. At this time, we understand from news reports that a lone gunman, a 20-year old male, has killed at least thirteen people and injured at least twenty more at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

No family should ever have to go through what the Umpqua Community College families are experiencing right now. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families and the entire Roseburg community. 

You can follow @CeasefireOregon and #UCCShooting for the latest information and responses to this horrifying shooting.

Our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims.