Friday, April 27, 2012

Statistics for Crime on College Campuses

Here is a great graphic, showing statistics for crime on U.S. college campuses, via

As you can see, there has been a marked increase, up 35.6%, in on-campus assaults since the 80's.  54% of those attacks have involved guns.  The largest amount of those have been in dormitories or apartments.  All the more reason to limit guns on campus, where they would be stored in peoples rooms and subject to the whims of people who are in the largest age bracket for deaths from gunfire and gun-related crime.

Crime On Campus
Presented By: Online Colleges Blog

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two Great Pieces From The New Yorker

How extreme is the gun lobby agenda to get guns everywhere?  They have a clear scheme for more guns, in more places, for more people, no matter how unpopular or dangerous.

As evidence, consider the following blog post from Susannah Griffee at the New Yorker:  "Guns, Everywhere":

From the blog post:
The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership by civilians in the world. Depending on the state, guns may be allowed in churches, on college campuses, and even in bars. In this week’s New Yorker, Jill Lepore writes about the powerful gun lobby and the consequences of America’s attachment to deadly weapons. Below, a look at some of the more unusual—and, arguably, more dangerous—gun laws passed in recent years, and the states that passed them first:
Go to the post.  There you will see the extreme nature of the gun lobby.  What states currently allow for, and when did they start to allow for:
  • Guns in Bars
  • Guns in Churches
  • Guns on College Campuses
  • Guns at Work
The article gives years, names states, and some "fun facts" about those movements.  Makes me sick.  And now, in my state (Oregon), the gun lobby is pushing for guns in grade schools!

As you see in the excerpt above, Griffee links to an article by Jill Lepore, entitled "The Lost Amendment."

From the article by Lepore:
The debate over the Second Amendment has been fierce and terrible, with bad arguments on both sides, and bad will all around. It began in the nineteen-sixties, when there was a great deal of violence and much concern about it. It took another turn on Friday, when, at the N.R.A.’s annual meeting, in St. Louis, Newt Gingrich said, “The Second Amendment is an amendment for all mankind.”
As I wrote in this week’s New Yorker, no amendment received less attention in the courts in the two centuries following the adoption of the Bill of Rights than the Second, except the Third (which dealt with billeting soldiers in private homes). It used to be known as the “lost amendment,” because hardly anyone ever wrote about it. The assertion that the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to own and carry a gun for self-defense, rather than the people’s right to form militias for the common defense, first became a feature of American political and legal discourse in the wake of the Gun Control Act of 1968, and only gained prominence in the nineteen-seventies. A milestone in its development came when Orrin Hatch, serving on Strom Thurmond’s Senate Judiciary Committee, became chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution. Hatch commissioned a history of the Second Amendment, resulting in a 1982 report, “The Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” which concluded, “What the Subcommittee on the Constitution uncovered was clear—and long lost—proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.”
She then goes on to discuss the rise of the flawed "insurrectionist" interpretation of the 2A and the formation of citizen militias.

Wait...   If the Second Amendment is so crucial to the idea of "protecting our freedom," as Orrin Hatch and the NRA would have us believe, then why was it essentially ignored for the first 192 years of our country??  Somehow our country survived nearly two centuries without widespread home ownership of handguns, assault rifles, or anything beyond hunting rifles (and not really all that widespread even for those, in many areas).  Our leaders, including some really liberal ones (whom the ultracons associate with, gasp!, communist tyrants), did not take advantage of all those weaponless masses and form a tyranny.  So why is now any different?  I'll tell you why.  It's because the gun manufacturers have teamed up with the NRA to make more money by expanding gun ownership.  Never mind all the deaths.  Look the other way.  There's money to be made off of people's fears.

Lepore finishes her article as such:
In his remarks before the N.R.A. last week, Gingrich offered a human-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment. “A Gingrich presidency,” he said, “will submit to the United Nations a treaty that extends the right to bear arms as a human right for every person on the planet.”
The United States has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, twice that of the country with the second highest rate, which is Yemen. The United States also has the highest homicide rate of any affluent democracy, nearly four times higher than France or the United Kingdom, six times higher than Germany. In the United States in 2008, guns were involved in two-thirds of all murders. Of interest to many people concerned about these matters, then, is when the debate over the Second Amendment will yield to a debate about violence.

As she points out, America is far and away the murder capital of the world, for any nation not at war on its territory and, not coincidentally, the undisputed capital of firearms ownership.  If Gingrich and others like him had their way, they would spread that bloodshed worldwide.

We as a country already labor under 110,000 shootings a year.  With increasing gun ownership has come increasing shootings, and the more lax the gun laws in a state, the higher the number of fatal shootings.  These are undisputed facts from the statistics.  The world watches us in horror, wondering when our citizens will stop drinking the Kool-Aid given to us by the NRA, as the NRA pushes for ever more extreme laws (or removal of laws) to expand those horrors.  At some point, American legislators will wake up to the danger.  Already there is vast support (around 80%) for stronger gun regulation, in every poll I've seen.  Soon we will reach a tipping point when people tire of the bloodshed, speak out, and  demand that we return to sane gun regulation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Remember the Victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre

Today we note the fifth anniversary of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, where gunman Seung-Hui Cho, despite being diagnosed as dangerously mentally ill, was able to legally purchase his firearms and ammo without being caught by a background check, then went on a killing spree at Virginia Tech University.

When the gunpowder has settled, 32 people were shot dead, 25 were injured, and the gunman committed suicide.

HERE is a list of the victims from that day.

HERE is an interactive gallery of the victims, or see below:

One of those who survived the shooting is Colin Goddard, who has become a strong advocate for sensible gun regulation and is the focus of a documentary on the shooting, "Living for 32", which is still showing around the country and which showed in my area last year, with Colin giving a presentation.  It is very moving, and I strongly urge you to attend a viewing if you haven't yet.

Colin and the Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence are having a couple days of activity in Washington, D.C., to convince lawmakers to pass sensible reform to reduce gun violence.

Here is a statement from their website:
As a survivor of the VA Tech shooting, the Brady Campaign’s Colin Goddard will lead other victims on April 16 and 17 to ask Congress: "Since 32 people are murdered with guns EVERY DAY in America, which day would be ‘appropriate’ for you to start talking about it and doing something about it?" 
On the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, which claimed the lives of 32 people, 32 victims from around the country will converge on Capitol Hill to hold our elected leaders accountable for policies that led to the worst mass shooting in American history and that keep the death toll rising daily. 
Following news conferences on Capitol Hill, The 32 will visit members to tell their stories and demand they defy the NRA and its deadly "guns everywhere" agenda. 
The 32 include: Columbine Families, Virginia Tech Families,Tucson Families, Police Officers, Parents who have buried their children, Children who have lost their parents, and others who have lost loved ones.
Link to media press release and schedule of activities:

Please join me in remembering this sad anniversary, and in helping to advocate for sensible reforms to keep such tragedies from happening again.  I urge you to contact your lawmakers and let them know you want reform now!

Since the 2007 VTU shooting, there have been at least 17 other shootings at colleges, universities, and community colleges in the United States, and that doesn't even touch shootings in high schools or lower grades.

To honor the Virginia Tech victims, please sign our petition to prohibit guns in Oregon schools and universities: go to Sign today and speak out for an education free from the fear of violence. We do not want loaded handguns in our children's classrooms.

I also urge you to go to the following website petition, sponsored by The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, to sign your name and call for action:

HERE is a video from Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed in the shooting.  In it he endorses stronger background checks, particularly for adding to the list those who are dangerously mentally ill, like the shooter.

(source for VTU candlelight vigil image HERE)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Videos on the Second Amendment by Teens

The winners have been announced for the 2012 C-SPAN StudentCam Competition.  In this annual competition, teenagers from around the nation and territories enter self-made videos wherein they explore some aspect of the Constitution.

From the competition's website:
C-SPAN is pleased to announce the 75 winning videos in the 2012 StudentCam competition! Congratulations to each of the winning filmmakers, whose documentaries competed among the record-setting 1,203 films that were received in this year's competition. Over 2,000 students from 43 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico competed, and we would like to acknowledge and thank all of the students and faculty advisors that participated. We hope the experience of creating your documentary was rewarding and, that those students eligible, will consider entering once again in the 2013 StudentCam competition. The film makers of the 75 winning documentaries will share in a total of $50,000 in cash prizes
( I couldn't figure out how to embed the videos directly or link the pictures, so you'll have to click on the text links to view them)

Here's one third prize winner in the middle school division:
 Wilson Ekern and Chris Moran
8th Grade
Farragut Middle School
Knoxville, TN
Charter Communications

Here is one honorable mention from the high school division:
Laura Munoz, Tahiez Toro, and Nicole Richardson
12th Grade
Sacred Heart High School
Los Angeles, CA
Time Warner Cable

One of the entries that didn't make the final 75 was one by two Oregonian boys, the Reese brothers, Oliver and Aleczander Reese, from Bend, Oregon. Last year, Oliver had been assaulted by another boy, then that boy had gotten hold of his father's gun and ammunition and made a hit list which included the Reese brothers.  They are in 7th and 10th grades.

I was happy to advise them on their video, and even make a brief appearance.

I applaud these bright boys and girls for their efforts, whether they won or not.  Understanding the Constitution is so important, and the Second Amendment in particular is one which brings out so much passion in Americans.  Clearly it is an amendment which is outdated, too ambiguous in its language, and clearly controversial. 

I look forward to next year's entries.