Thursday, August 25, 2011

Already Matching Last Year for Shootings Here

It’s been a very difficult month so far in my area due to gun-related crimes and shootings. 

So far this month there have been six armed robberies here, bringing the total to 11 this year – all using guns, of course, as most armed robberies do.  Though at least a couple are tied to the same robber, there’s currently no evidence to suggest the others are related.  It’s hard to get good data of robberies that involve guns, using the city’s online statistics, but I watch the newspaper and online news reports carefully for my area.  This is a huge up-tick in armed robberies for this area, given that there were only two that I can find in all of last year (resulting in what was deemed a self-defense shooting but which may have actually been a drug deal gone wrong).  Luckily none of these recent robberies have resulted in injuries or deaths, and none of those who were held up tried to pull a gun of their own (since possessing a gun increases the chance of dying in a gun-related assault, and seeing a gun increases aggression).  And how do these criminals get guns, anyway?  In Oregon, they can buy from any private seller without the need for a background check, paperwork of any kind, or even showing ID.

Also this month, there was a suicide in Coburg, on the northern edge of Eugene, where a man shot himself to death in a car outside his business.  I wonder if the family and friends of this man knew he was suicidal, and if they knew he owned a gun.  Most suicides go unreported unless they are public, like this one.  So far this year there have been four reported suicides (including two that were murder/suicides).  In all of last year there were only two reported here.

And then in Springfield, a man who is a (legal) medical marijuana grower and his friend had been “on the town” when they returned the grower’s apartment.  The friend left, but quickly realized he had left his keys in the grower’s car.  After banging on the door and getting no answer, the friend helped himself inside through a side door or window.  The grower mistook him for someone trying to rob him of his marijuana plants and shot him twice in the leg.  The article didn’t say if either of them was under the influence of anything at the time of the shooting, but I think you know my feelings on the idea of medical marijuana users, or anyone under the influence of mind-altering compounds, possessing guns.  Though, like suicides, accidental shootings are not always reported, but this makes the third accidental shooting reported this year.  There were none reported in all of 2010 and 2009 in my area.  Luckily the friend was not killed.

So far this year there have been 12 shootings, already matching the record set last year , and 9 shooting deaths, also matching last year.  Shootings tend to have a marked increase in the last few months of the year here, so we are certain to break records this year. 

Let’s hope this is the end of this month’s shootings and gun crimes.  It’s time to bring some common sense legislation to Oregon’s lax gun laws.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Finally, Back to Blogging!

You may have noticed I haven't been blogging much in the last few months.  I have finally crawled out from under a very lengthy scholarly article for my job, which turned out to be around thirty-thousand words long -- nearly a small book!  Once a co-author finishes a small section, I'll finally be able to send it off to the publisher (I had been invited to write for).  That, combined with family issues, seriously restricted the amount of time I had for blogging.  Too bad I'm not paid to do the gun control activism!  There have been SO many issues related to gun violence it has been almost painful to keep from spending my time bringing them to you.  Barring unforeseen events, I should be able to get back to it now.

I haven't been idle, though.  A small part of my time has been spent planning an event for this weekend, for Ceasefire Oregon, which will coincide with the Eugene Celebration, a yearly festival in downtown Eugene, Oregon, where I live.  More on that this weekend.

Every once in a while I peruse the pro-gun blogs to see what they're writing about, so I've done a little of that.   It's the usual stuff about how great guns are, how horrible our liberal leaders are, and the usual nonsense about how the government and us "anti-gun cultists" are out to get them.  One blogger posted a racist joke, likening Michelle Obama to Cheeta the chimpanzee from Tarzan.  Of course I called him out on it, and he tried to deny the connection, as obvious as it is. 

Another few bloggers attacked an article about the ASK program (a program which advocates for parents to ask about guns and other dangers where their children play).  They belittled the commentator who had advocated for ASK, suggesting that she wasn't concerned about other dangers, like heroin usage in the home (!?) or sex abuse (!),  that it's unnecessary because kids will avoid guns just because you tell them to, and actually advocating that you lie to the parents and tell them that you don't have a gun in the home if you really do!  I left a comment refuting the ignorance of this blogger.  Within a few hours (at 3:30AM!) I get an email from him trying to lure me into a debate about it and warning me that if I didn't do so he would label me a "troll" and bar me from his site.  When I finally got around to his site a couple days later, he had posted about me, making fun of my name, suggesting I was fat, belittling my family's training in kung fu (which I had commented on at another site), and labeled me a "troll" because I hadn't gotten back to him, then saying he'd barred me from commenting (even though he's the one who's trolling around at all hours).  Well, all I can say is that there's a name for someone who tries to  intimidate people, calls them names, makes fun of their names and weight, and makes arrogant and belittling remarks:  BULLY.  Gee, I wonder why no one posts comments on his site other than his extremist pals?

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Children do have a way of discovering things...."

I just came back from a very nice two-day vacation, camping with friends and family at the Oregon coast.

Upon my return, though, I am once again reminded of the dangers of guns to children.  I found this recent news item of a 10-year old who was visiting the home of his 12-year old friend.  The boys entered the bedroom of the 12-year old's parents where they picked up the loaded and unlocked gun that his parents kept bedside "for security purposes."  After being handed the 9mm handgun, the 10-year old then accidently shot his friend through the chest.  The boy was flown to the hospital, still alive.

“Children do have a way of discovering things and we at the sheriff’s office would encourage all parents with firearms to make their firearms as safe as practical,” Undersheriff Vic Watson said in a written statement.

You don't say?  Apparently other guns were locked in a safe, but the parents neglected the fact that ALL children are curious and impetuous to at least some extent, and even one unlocked and loaded gun in the home is too many when children are around.  In my opinion, these parents should have all of their guns forcefully removed and be prohibited to purchase another.

It's interesting to note the opinion of one commenter to the article linked above.  Says "Mikki":   

"this is just stupid! if you have guns in your house make damn sure your kids know gun safety and that they are not toys! My 7 yr old and 3 yr old BOTH know that they ARE NOT TO TOUCH the guns unless it with mom and dad, but they do know the things guns do to living animals and people... GUN SAFETY PEOPLE!"

My son and daughter are 7 and 6.  If I only had a dollar for all the times they did things that I had lectured them not to do!   I hope "Mikki" doesn't learn the hard way the same lesson learned by the parents of the child in the article.  Don't you think the parents gave that talk to their son?  Don't you think the son had exposure to guns before this point?  I imagine so, on both points.

Among gun-owning parents who reported that their children had never handled their firearms at home, 22% of the children, questioned separately, said that they had.  But even keeping them locked up isn't a solution.  When household guns are kept locked up, youths typically know where the key is kept, the combination, or are able to break into the gun cabinet.

Every day in America at least one child finds a weapon and kills themselves or others.  Accidents, suicides, or murder, leaving a loaded gun in a home with a child is a free pass for tragic consequences.  If only the parents of the 10-year old had ASKED about guns in the home beforehand.  If only the state had Child Access Prevention laws in place, demanding safe storage of guns, which have been shown to reduce fatalities of adults as well as children.  But it's too late, now, for this tragedy.  Hopefully the boy is recovering okay.

Here is a tune I heard a few days ago on this very subject:  "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People.  Catchy tune (click on the video to hear it), but read the lyrics:

And while I'm on the subject, let me also give this comment:  our pro-gun culture glorifies firearms to children, so it's little wonder these boys were drawn to handle the gun.  For a "blast" from the past, check out this TV commercial from the 60's: