Monday, September 28, 2015

Statistics And Charts: Shootings By Type

A Washington Post article recently summarized, in one graphic, the type of shootings relative to each other in number.

As you'll see, defensive (or "justified") shootings outside of law enforcement are only a tiny fraction.  It is this tiny fraction of shootings, only 1 out of every 115, that the NRA uses to try to justify their "guns everywhere" arguments.

For every fatal justified, defensive shooting, there are 34 homicide deaths using guns, 78 suicides with a gun, and 2 accidental deaths.

But the NRA and other pro-gun supporters don't care about all those other deaths.

From the article:

Also from the article:

There are, of course, plenty of solid arguments for robust 2nd Amendment protections. Millions of people use guns for sport and recreation every day. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible citizens, not criminals. 
But, though some people certainly use guns for self-defense, the data suggest that overall, guns are used far more often for killing then self-defense. As a result, it's may be thinking twice about arguments for more guns in schools, churches and other public places.
HERE is a related post, with a different chart showing similar information.

Friday, September 25, 2015

How Well Do You Know Oregon Gun Laws?

With the passage of Oregon's new universal background check law, requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales and transfers, the pro-gun forces have disseminated a lot of misinformation to confuse and deceive people (even encouraging illegal behavior by gun owners and politicians).

Take the quiz, below, to test your knowledge and get the truth about Oregon's gun laws:

(or click HERE for a direct link)


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pope Francis On Gun Violence

Today, Pope Francis, as part of his visit to the United States, addressed the U.S. Congress.

As part of his address, he decried the "shameful and culpable silence" on arms sales "drenched in innocent blood."

America leads the world in arms sales.  From the full transcript of his address:

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
Though he was addressing primarily international gun sales, I believe his statement could just as easily be applied to domestic gun sales by U.S. gun manufacturers.

It is incredibly clear, from statements made by the NRA and other gun lobbies, and the way the gun manufacturers manipulate our government and gun owners, that money is the bottom line, with no regard at all to the safety of the common people in the wake of continued gun violence and deaths in the U.S.  Gun sales, and the profits and lobbyist money they bring in, reign supreme.

From another article, which also addressed the military-industrial weapons sector:
Those were fighting words, especially given where he spoke them. The U.S. is by far the largest arms supplier in the world, with domestic manufacturers selling more than $23.7 billion in weapons in 2014 to nearly 100 different countries. During the Obama administration, weapons sales have surged to record levels, in large part due to huge shipments to Gulf States, particularly Saudi Arabia. 
The weapons sales to Saudi Arabia include cluster bombs and other munitions being used to hit densely populated areas, schools, and even a camp for displaced people in Yemen. 
And a healthy chunk of those arms sales — especially to Israel and Egypt — are heavily subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer.
Our leaders should take the words of Pope Francis to heart.  The welfare of our people MUST be more important than the profits of gun manufacturers!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Extreme Pro-Gun Sheriff Arrested for Violent Assault And Strangulation

Back last spring, when Oregon legislators were working to pass Senate Bill 941 to require background checks for all gun sales in the state, including private sales (which passed in May and was enacted in August, much to the relief of most law enforcement), a small number of rural sheriffs said that they would refuse to enforce the law (against the oath that they took), and a number of county commissions in rural counties said they would not fund the law (also against the oath they took).

The extremist group, Oregon Firearms Federation, led the charge in encouraging these sheriffs and county commissions.

Sheriff Skrah speaks against keeping
guns out of criminal hands (source)
One of those sheriffs was Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah.  Klamath County commissioners condemned the background check law by passing a resolution.  O.F.F. was happy to report that Sheriff Skrah testified in support of the pro-gun resolution.  From an article:

“I will not be taking away guns from anybody. I will not be going out and confiscating guns,” said Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah. “People have the right to bear arms, and I will not abridge that right to bear arms. Ever. I’ll say it again: ever.”
Just to be clear, Sheriff Skrah is saying he will refuse to uphold his oath and enforce a law that he, personally, doesn't like, and won't be "confiscating guns" -- even if the person purchasing the guns has failed a background check!  Yes, you read that right.  If a person purchases a gun in a private sale, and fails a background check or refuses to have a background check (such as if they were a felon or dangerously mentally ill), Sheriff Skrah would refuse to arrest them or take their gun away.

Just another way that the pro-gun forces were willing to encourage criminal behavior.  Sadly, Oregon is no stranger to pro-gun, insurrectionist rural sheriffs.

Skrah released a statement railing against the background check bill and intrusion by "Big Brother."  Excerpts from his statement:

While I, as Sheriff of Klamath County, support keeping guns out of the hands of “CRIMINALS” this legislation (SB–941) appears to be nothing more than a further infringement upon those who wish to exercise their Second Amendment Rights.  
"Some may disagree with me, but I feel “Big Brother” need not know who owns a firearm. 
"We don’t need new laws to check the background of those who have the legal right to own a gun. We conduct background checks on those who “carry” (Concealed Carry Handgun Permits) and we do a very good job in that endeavor.  
"Upping the ante and requiring more Government Intrusion is not needed and not wanted by the vast majority of good hard working folks.  
"If I sell or give a gun to my neighbor should I or my neighbor be subject to a background check? My answer to that rhetorical question is a very firm NO! 
"Typical of government is to stack another law upon us!   Folks in Salem: ….. We have that little obscure document called the United States Constitution.  
"It might be good for those in the state Legislature (as well as Washington D.C.) to look at that document.   Read down to the Second Amendment: The right (our right) to keep and bear arms! ….. Without bureaucrats trying to make more decisions for us. I, as the Sheriff of Klamath County, will use the laws that are presently on the books to do my job.

Sadly, his love of guns has clouded his judgement.  He says he "supports" keeping guns out of criminal hands, but how is a gun seller to know if the buyer is a criminal without a background check?  And not all buyers have conceal carry permits or are a neighbor of Skrah.  And though he purports to be an expert in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has already stated in the Heller decision that background checks and other regulations are not unconstitutional (and Skrah, as with most pro-gun zealots, seems to forget the "well-regulated" part of the Second Amendment).  It is also not the role of sheriffs or county commissions to determine what is constitutional or not.  That's for the courts to decide.
Well, that was in April.  Flash forward to this month....
Now Sheriff Skrah has been charged with nine counts of violent crime by a grand jury, including assault and strangulation.  From an article:
A Klamath County grand jury charged Skrah with a total of nine counts, including three counts of harassment, three counts of official misconduct in the first degree, one count of attempted assault in the fourth degree, one count of assault in the fourth degree and one count of strangulation. .... 
The charges came after the Oregon Department of Justice launched an investigation in April into allegations Skrah had used excessive force against a suspect. Seven of the department's 30 deputies asked to be placed on paid leave after they were questioned about Skrah by state investigators. ... 
Sheriff Skrah's mugshot (source)
The charges stem from Skrah's dealings with three men, James Johnson, Kenneth Bragg and Jason Charles. In three separate incidents, Skrah allegedly held a flashlight against Johnson's throat on Feb. 11, 2013; he allegedly hit Charles on Jan. 14, 2014; and prosecutors claim he choked Bragg on Feb. 27, 2015. 
The Oregonian first reported the the Skrah investigation involved reports he had used excessive force, including hitting a handcuffed suspect, on Aug. 25.
The indictment also alleges Skrah failed to notify and compensate a local resident after one of his deputies had damaged their property.

Of course, Skrah denies all charges, like criminals often do.  

There is also a concern about him "for workplace harassment and retaliation by the Sheriff."

Should we be surprised?  Based on his pro-gun testimony, I'm guessing that Sheriff Skrah owns a great many guns.  According to a Washington Post report, those who own a large number of guns are significantly more likely to have explosive anger issues.

Well, he may not be able to own his guns anymore, after this.  Will the next Sheriff allow Skrah to purchase guns without a background check, too?

Let's hope that Klamath County has learned its lesson and will replace Skrah with a more reasonable Sheriff who is more peaceful and is willing to uphold the law, including enforcement of background checks for all gun sales.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

His Brother Used His Assault Rifle To Shoot Up A School, Now He Wants The Weapon And Ammo Back

(UPDATED, see at bottom)

Back in June of last year, there was yet another school shooting to horrify the nation, this time in my home state of Oregon, which I blogged about at the time.

A 15-year old boy, Jared Padgett, had gotten his brother's assault rifle, high-capacity ammo
14 year old victim, Emilio Hoffman (source)
magazines, and ballistics vest, and his father's handgun, then went to his school, Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon.  He hid the weapons in a guitar case, calmly rode the school bus to school, then entered the gym building locker room and started shooting, killing an innocent 14-year old boy, Emilio Hoffman, and wounding a PE teacher, Todd Rispler.  A lockdown and police response ensued.  When guards showed up to shoot it out with Padgett, he fled to a bathroom and shot himself to death.

(Another boy, unrelated to Padgett and the shooting, was found to have a gun on campus, too, after police searched the grounds!  And just to add yet another gun crime to the event, a man showed up looking for his young sister, illegally armed with a concealed handgun).

Once again, the city, state, and nation were horrified, and demanded answers to how Jared had been armed with a high-powered firearm and why he committed this act.

Naturally, the police confiscated the guns, hundreds of rounds of remaining ammo, and other materials as evidence.

Now, the brother of the shooter, Lucas Padgett, wants his assault rifle, ammo, vest, and other materials back!  From an article:
15 year old shooter, Jared Padgett (source)

On Aug. 13, Lucas Padgett filed a motion requesting a judge order the City of Troutdale and State of Oregon to return property that he claims is still being held. 
Lucas Padgett writes in court documents that he is the “lawful owner” of the following property:
  • One (1) Daniel Defense Armament DDM4 Carbine Rifle Serial No. (Redacted);
  • Eight (8) 30 Rounds Magpul Magazines;
  • Several hundred rounds of ammunition;
    The assault rifle used in the shooting
  • One (1) ‘plate carrier’ vest;
  • One (1) United States Army issued ‘laundry bag.”
He writes that “on or about June 10, 2014 my above…property was stolen or otherwise converted by law enforcement.” Lucas Padgett claims that the items seized are no longer needed “for evidentiary purposes.” 
“These items belong to me, I have never been charged with any offense connected herewith,” Lucas Padgett writes. “I am entitled to their return and there is no legal impediment to my possession of said property.”

Now...   if a member of your family had recently shot up a school with an assault rifle, killed another student and wounded a teacher, then killed himself, would you demand the murder weapons back??  
Lucas Padgett, owner of murder weapon (source)

Sick, sick, sick.

He has no shame.

Does Lucas have a claim?  Yes, if the police have no further need for the weapons and other materials for the purpose of evidence, there is no reason to charge him with a crime, and Lucas Padgett is legally allowed to own firearms, then likely he has the right to get them back.  From the same article:

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office in Nov. 2014 announced it would not pursue criminal charges against Lucas Padgett or his father despite the fact that Jared Padgett had taken the weapons and ammunition from the Padgett residence. 
Investigators determined that both Lucas Padgett and his father had taken steps to secure and lock their firearms. In court filings, Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Davidson wrote in 2014 that “the State would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either Michael (father) or Lucas (brother) Padgett were aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious physical injury to another person.” 
Davidson on Thursday said that even though the statue of limitations have not expired, there has been no discussion on re-considering file criminal charges against any member of the Padgett family. 
According to Sali, “at some point, either when the statue runs (out) or when there is no longer a plausible basis to say that the investigation is on-going, they have to give those back.”
And today a Judge agreed, saying that the city has 45 days to prove the items are needed as evidence, or return them as requested.

Legal rights aside, the demand to get the murder weapon and ammo back is a good indicator of the family and its "values."

After the shooting, the family of the shooter released a statement, saying they were "horrified and distraught" and that they had tried to instill good values in Jared, but they didn't take any responsibility for Jared's behavior:

“We are at a loss as to how and why this tragedy unfolded,” he said. 
“The values that we have taught our children are love in Jesus Christ, compassion, forgiveness and patience. These are all natural attributes we observed within Jared daily.”

I question those so-called "values" that they taught Jared and Lucas.  According to Jared's diary, he was on mission to "cleanse the world of sinners" as a fundamentalist Mormon.  The parents had just gone through a messy divorce and were fighting over custody.  Jared was described as "conceited at times" and had angry outbursts.  What's more, he (and I'm guessing the rest of his family) "loved guns," showed off the family guns and ammo to friends,  would "play around with knives more than anything else" and regularly went target shooting, including a couple weeks before the shooting.

Gee, with all that in mind, how could the family be "at a loss as to how and why this tragedy unfolded"?  Hardly a picture of the "family values" from the family statement.

But is the brother in any way responsible for the shooting or the motives or thoughts behind his brother?  I mean, it wasn't him who pulled the trigger, right?

Well, let's take a closer look at how the guns and ammo were stored.  According to an article, "Investigators determined that both Lucas Padgett and his father had taken steps to secure and lock their firearms."  But is that really true?

According to an article:
[Father] Michael Padgett told police that he kept his guns and knives in the closet of his bedroom, and he usually locks the door from the inside and closes it. Anyone seeking access would need a key to open the bedroom door, and he said his son Jared did not have the key. 
"I don't consider it any, umm, anything irresponsible on where they're at, how we store 'em, what the training has been, so on and so forth,'' Michael Padgett told detectives. "He's not a kid that gets into that stuff.'' 
I care to differ.  Clearly he was "a kid that gets into stuff" since he got into it and then killed a boy with it!
The AR-15 rifle that Padgett used in the school shooting, police determined, had been locked in a Pelican-brand gun case in the bedroom that Jared Padgett shared with his older brother, Lucas Padgett.
Okay, but where were the keys to the room and closets?  From that article:
Michael Padgett told investigators that Lucas Padgett had put a key on his father's key ring that was for one of two locks on the Pelican rifle case. ... 
Lucas Padgett told investigators he kept a Master lock on the Pelican case, and kept the case in his closet. He said he kept the key to the Master lock on his house and car key ring, which he sometimes leaves on his desk or hangs in the kitchen, the records show. He said he kept the key to a second lock on the case on his dad's key ring, the records show. 
When detectives asked him how he stored other ammunition in his closet, Lucas Padgett at one point said, "It's irrelevant." 
"It's irrelevant?'' state police detective Patti Rhodes asked in response. 
"Yeah, it's uh ... irrelevant,'' Lucas Padgett replied. 
"It might not be irrelevant,'' Portland police Det. Brett Hawkinson told Lucas Padgett. 
Lucas Padgett told police that he had 24 magazines of ammunition in total, including the two that were missing. 
Asked if his younger brother knew he had the rifle with loaded magazines inside the Pelican case, Lucas Padgett said yes. 
"Has he opened it before?'' the state police detective asked. 
"Yes,'' Lucas Padgett said.
No, it's not irrelevant.  It's completely relevant.  Only a complete moron leaves the ammo with the weapon in a home with an unstable kid.

And the keys were just laying or hanging around?  What good is locking something when you leave the keys out?

The family refused to allow police to enter the house to examine the locks until nearly 5 months (!) after the shooting.  At that time:
[Investigator] Ober found the bedroom door did have a basic lock on it "that could be unlocked from the outside with the use of a rudimentary key.'' The lock was functioning, Ober found. 
Investigators found that although Lucas Padgett failed to prevent his younger brother from gaining access to his rifle, the evidence showed that Lucas Padgett kept his rifle in a "locked container.'' 
Lucas Padgett could not be found to have violated Multnomah County code for endangering a child by preventing access to a loaded or unloaded firearm, because the firearm had been kept in a locked container, the district attorney's office found. 
For similar reasons, prosecutors said they would not bring charges against Jared's father, since they believe the father had his handgun locked in his bedroom.
But even if there had been locks on the father's door or the rifle case, clearly they either failed to engage the locks or they left the keys where the boy could get them.  In either case, it is negligence on the part of the father and brother...

... and they refuse to take responsibility for it.

And now the brother wants his murderous gun and ammo back.  What a sick person.  What a sick gun culture we have, that he's clearly part of.  And what a sick nation we are to allow assault rifles and high-capacity magazines to be in a person's possession at all, especially around children.

UPDATE (10/21/15):  In an agreement with Padgett, the City of Troutdale paid Padgett nearly $4000 to purchase the gun and all other evidence!  I guess it really is about the money to the brother of this murderer.  According to another article:
City officials said they reached out to Lucas Padgett and reached this “compromise that would be acceptable to all involved and help continue the healing process of this terrible tragedy.” 
At some point in the future, city officials said they would request an order for final disposition of Padgett’s property.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

If Only He'd Had A Gun To Defend Himself. Oh, Wait... (Home Defender)

31-year old Jeffre Faust was home at night with his mother when he discovered a prowler in his back yard.  Instead of locking his doors and calling 911, he grabbed his loaded rifle and went outside to confront the man.

The prowler was unarmed and said it was his house.  The suspect then grabbed Faust's gun, turned it around, and then the gun was fired (unclear if intentional), wounding Faust in the leg.

From an article and news video:
Faust told deputies that he armed himself with a rifle and went outside after hearing noises and his dogs barking around 3 a.m. Thursday. He confronted a man in his backyard and they struggled over the weapon. 
"He jumped at me and we were fighting over the gun," Faust said. "The gun went off and got me right in the leg." 
The bullet shattered Faust's femur and narrowly missed the femoral artery. 
"He was ranting and raving how this was his house ... what are you doing here?" Faust said. "Then he started walking toward me and I lifted the rifle toward him but there was no way I could pull the trigger."
Then the shot was fired, hitting the victim.  The suspect then fled and hasn't been caught.

So his own gun was used against him.  So much for defending himself.  You don't brandish a gun unless you intend to shoot to kill.  But is simply being in someone's back yard a reason to kill that person?  As the article states at the end:
Faust spent the last four days in the hospital. He said if he had it to do again he would stay inside and call 911.

[this post is part of an ongoing series of people being shot to death or attacked despite being armed (and sometimes because they are armed)]


Saturday, September 12, 2015

All Four Vengeful Recall Efforts By Pro-Gun Forces Fail In Oregon

In May of this year, after at least a couple years of work by concerned legislators, gun violence prevention organizations, public health organizations, faith organizations, and members of the public, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 941, providing for background checks for nearly every gun sale in the state of Oregon, including private sales.  It was a tremendous victory for public safety, and one that had the support of up to 90% of my fellow Oregonians.  The bill went into full effect on August 9.

Unwilling to be bothered by a 5-minute, $10 background check at one of the many hundreds of licensed dealers around the state, the sort of which was already required for any gun purchased at gun shops or gun shows, the gun guys howled in anger, led by the extremist Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF).  They responded with openly-criminal responses.  OFF sent out angry email alerts to its followers, urging them to "defy" the law and spreading disinformation about the law (get the true facts, HERE).  Pro-gun county commissioners (including the sister of OFF's executive director) and a rural sheriff or two penned angry statements saying that they would not fund or enforce any background check efforts.  In their usual, treasonous way, local militia groups even vowed "armed civil disobedience."

And then, in an act that could only be called a political tantrum, OFF and its followers decided they would try to recall four of the state legislators who co-sponsored the bill:  Senator Floyd Prozanski, Representative Val Hoyle (House Majority Leader), Senator Chuck Riley, and Representative Susan McLain.  (Hoyle had previously received "A" and "B" ratings from OFF.  Now, suddenly, it was an "F").

I say it was a political tantrum because the entire purpose of a recall is to remove politicians who have demonstrated some form of malfeasance or scandalous conduct while in office.  SB941 went through all of the official committees and channels, with amendments and votes as befits any bill.  It was voted through committees, through votes in both the Senate and the House, and ultimately signed into law by the Governor.  There were no scandals involved in its passage, nor are any of the legislators involved in any political scandals.  In short, the entire process was normal and acceptable.

So why do the recalls?  Vengeance, plain and simple, with no regard for the democratic process.  Staging a recall attempt simply because they disagree with a dutifully-passed bill is an abuse of the process.  But when have gun nuts ever cared for democracy?

Well, the first recall attempt, against Riley and McLain, fizzled in July.  The petitioners had failed miserably to get anywhere near the number of signatures they needed, and no financial or volunteer support from any organizations other than OFF.  These legislators were relieved:

Riley and McLain both expressed their relief at not having to face a recall election.
"I think that's great," said Riley, reached while hiking on Steens Mountain in eastern Oregon.  "I've always said that recalls are really only for people who didn't do what they said they would do, and I wasn't one of those people."
Riley said he campaigned in favor of the expanded background checks and won election last year.
McLain said she was "pretty excited" she doesn't have to spend the next several months fighting a recall election.
"I'd like to be working in the interim on projects that I started during the session," she added.

Imagine that:  having our legislators work on improving our state instead of expending their energy fighting useless recall efforts!

Meanwhile, Val Hoyle prepared to fight the recall.  She started an  "I Stand With Val" campaign, complete with yard signs -- I had one in my yard, too -- and began asking for volunteers and donations.

And then the recall effort against Val Hoyle started to unravel.  A complaint was filed against the recall, demonstrating that the petitioners, which were mainly gun shops (the chief petitioner was a gun shop owner, no less), were using gun shop paid employees to get signatures without registering them as paid petitioners, and were leaving the petitions unsupervised with customers.  It was basically racketeering.  The effort was failing to get enough signatures, and then the recall was dropped entirely when Representative Hoyle announced that she is leaving her post as House Majority Leader to explore running for Secretary of State.

But the gun guys continued to harass Rep. Hoyle with angry and threatening phone calls and messages after the director of OFF shared her personal cell phone number.  Hoyle responded with a campaign to ask her supporters to respond to each threat with a $25 donation, to be used to pay off the cost of fighting the recall.  Her supporters responded overwhelmingly in support.

And then the Prozanski effort started to crumble, too.  Just as with the Val Hoyle recall, a complaint was filed against the Prozanski recall effort, alleging the same sort of mistakes by the gun shops who were collecting signatures.  But this time the gun guys were able to get around it by throwing out those petition sheets, and the Secretary of State ruled, just yesterday, that the other petition sheets could be used.

When the recall against Floyd Prozanski was announced, the supporters of this popular senator immediately jumped to his defense, soon forming a campaign of their own called "Stop Reckless Recalls."  Senator Prozanski later wrote an opinion piece in the local newspaper, stating his case:

The purpose of recall is to hold accountable an elected official who has committed an ethical violation, committed a crime or breached the public trust. According to the Secretary of State’s office, this recall will cost taxpayers $100,000 to $134,000 if it goes forward.
Do taxpayers really want to spend that amount of money because someone disagrees with my legislative votes?
Michaelson-Duffy is upset with my support for Senate Bill 941. The bill closed the last remaining loophole in Oregon’s successful 25-year-old background check law. But people’s rights to own and purchase a gun remain intact under SB 941 unless they are a felon or suffering a mental health crisis.

But the gun guys didn't care, of course.  Just over 10,000 unverified signatures were turned in, well-above the 8,415 that were needed.  It seemed that the $51,000 spent on the recall campaign, $45,000 of which came directly from OFF, was well-spent.

And then, later in the day, the Secretary of State announced that nearly 2,000 of those signatures were invalid.  Yes, 2,000!  Says a lot about these people.  They were either repeat signatures, or they could not be validated as registered voters in Prozanski's district. The last of the recall campaigns was officially dismissed. From an article:

Needing 8,415 valid signatures, the recall campaign submitted a total of 10,027 unverified signatures last week. Two separate statistical samplings done Friday by the state Elections Division found the recall failed to meet the required 84 percent verification rate, however. One sampling estimated there were 8,208 valid signatures, the other 8,062, the Elections Division said. ....

In a prepared statement, Prozanski said Friday that he was “grateful” for his constituents’ continued support.
“Despite their attempts to distort my record and their personal attacks on me, the political extremists who tried to force a recall vote have been rejected by the voters,” he said.
And so, once again, common sense prevails in Oregon.  If the gun guys had succeeded, not only
would good legislators lose their positions, but it would set a dangerous precedent that anyone who simply disagrees with a lawfully-passed bill of any type could punish lawmakers with a recall vote.  If that were the case, no politician would willingly take a stand on any hot-button topic.

Instead, the democratic process in Oregon remains secure, the gun guys don't get results from their political tantrum, and we retain commonsense background checks to help keep guns out of dangerous hands.

Thank you, Floyd, Val, Chuck, and Susan, and all those other legislators who sponsored or voted for SB941, for standing up for public safety and for continuing to face down the pro-gun forces.  You have protected the welfare of your people.

Addendum (9/13/15):  Oregon Firearms Federation released an alert wherein they blame their failure to recall Prozanski on interference by "Bloomberg lackeys" and "Bloomberg flunkies," a "Prozanski and Bloomberg cabal," and a conspiracy by the Secretary of State (with no evidence to back up their statement, of course).  I'm shaking my head at their utter refusal to accept the facts, and their conspiratorial, paranoid thinking, so typical of OFF and the gun nuts.
From the OFF webpage (red underlining added)

OFF posted the letter that was sent to the chief petitioner for the Prozanski recall, along with the statistical results, HERE.

In their typical, pro-criminal and violent fashion, OFF has told their followers to "Be prepared to resist and defy" (see screenshot from their homepage).

Friday, September 11, 2015

How The NRA Observes 9/11

I remember when the Twin Towers fell on that awful day, September 11, 2001.  3000 people died at the hands of terrorists, and the nation fell into mourning, super-nationalistic thought, and political moves that lead to two wars, the Patriot Act, and many other downstream national changes.

But, primarily, we stop this time each year to think and reflect on the loss of life -- the innocents in those buildings and planes, the valiant emergency responders who died in the destruction, and those who helped with rescues and cleanup.

All over the nation, including in my town, people are taking moments of silence, holding vigils, and generally taking some time to think about what happened.

But how does the NRA respond?  By celebrating a gun that "survived" the falling of the Twin Towers.

No, really, that's how they responded.  They trotted out a donated, burned-out revolver that was
Officer Weaver's gun
carried by a New York police officer who died at the scene.  From their article:

Weaver’s revolver holds a place of honor today and serves as a somber reminder of the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line daily. It’s an ordinary firearm that stands as a symbol of extraordinary bravery.  
There's nothing wrong with remembering a fallen officer.  He was, indeed, a hero.  But to hold up a lethal weapon as some sort of patriotic symbol is, simply put, sick.  But it illustrates quite nicely the real motives and thought processes of the NRA.  The same super-nationalism that fueled those two wars and the Patriot Act is the same super-nationalism that they try to appeal to, wrapping a flag around the ugly act of killing and lethal weapons to appeal to their followers (and sell more guns for the manufacturers who bankroll them).

The NRA's sick fascination with their weapons needs to be put aside today.

Instead, in our thoughts about the event, let's take a moment to put 9/11 in the correct perspective, when it comes to the issue of guns and gun violence.  I blogged on this once before back on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.  As I stated in that post:

But while we are today mourning the loss of the 3000 who died in 9/11, I ask that you please keep another thought in mind.  The United States loses the same number of people to gun violence every 35 days or so.  That's around 31,224 people a year -- ten times the number who died in 9/11.  Another 66,768 a year are wounded but survive.  In the 10 years since 9/11, that equates to around 300,000 killed and 670,000 injured to gunfire on our streets and in our homes (compare that to the 5800 American soldierswho have died in that time in Iraq and Afghanistan wars).  Imagine, a million people shot in ten years!  But unlike the dramatic results that came after 9/11 -- the wars, the Patriot Act and other legislation, the trillions of dollars spent -- practically nothing has changed to slow the rate of civilian shootings in the U.S.  In fact, with cuts to the ATF, the lapse of the assault weapons ban, and numerous state-level legislative changes around the nation to relax gun laws, our nation has only become more dangerous.  To the NRA, these alarming numbers are collateral, insignificant compared to a warped sense of Second Amendment freedom.

In fact, if anything, the NRA has done more to arm terrorists on our soil than the terrorist organizations themselves.  The NRA has staunchly opposed adding those on the Terrorist Watch List to the NICS background check system.  The NRA has opposed any and all regulation of guns, such as background checks for private sales, making it insanely easy for terrorists to get guns.  And the NRA has pushed hard to reduce any restrictions to overseas sales of guns, meaning that the gun manufacturers are profiting from sales to the very groups that the U.S. and its allies are fighting.

Terrorist groups know this, and they have publicly encouraged their followers to take advantage of our weak gun laws to arm themselves here.

There have been very few deaths in America at the hands of foreign terrorists.  Let's focus were the real problem lies, with the tens of thousands killed each year in America by guns, and make a new trajectory for our nation away from gun violence.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Homicides Are Up Across The Board. "More Guns" Isn't Working

(UPDATED -- See below)

According to all measures, homicides are increasing in America, and easy access to firearms is the common factor.

This week, the BBC reported that the "U.S. murder rate sees sharp increase in 2015."  From the article:

The latest figures obtained by the New York Times show Milwaukee has seen the biggest rise, with a 76% increase.
It is followed by St Louis, Missouri, which has seen a 60% increase, and Baltimore, Maryland, with a 56% rise. ....
The latest figures show the number of murders in Milwaukee increased from 59 last year to 104 so far in 2015.
In St Louis, it rose from 85 last year to 136 so far this year, and in Baltimore shot up from 138 last year to 215 by the summer of 2015.
In Washington, there have been 105 murders - a 44% increase from last year.
The numbers have also jumped in other cities, including New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, New York and Philadelphia, though to a lesser extent.
The article only speculated on the cause, wondering about increases in gun ownership, gang warfare, youth violence, or race relations.

Here in Oregon, too, shootings are on the rise, as chronicled daily on the Oregon Shootings Facebook and Twitter pages.  Portland, in particular, has seen an increase, especially for gang shootings, breaking all previous records.  From an article:
On Wednesday, Sgt. Pete Simpson announced the Gang Enforcement Team responded to 121 incidents of gang violence so far this year.
“It’s the highest that we’ve had since we’ve been keeping records,” Gang Enforcement Team Lt. Mike Krantz said.
The overwhelming majority of these incidents involved gunfire, police said. ....
The Tactical Operations Division – which houses the gang unit, Gun Task Force and Metro Gang Task Force – has seized 137 firearms as evidence in criminal cases from 2015.
But it's not just the large cities.  Here in my home town of Eugene, and the neighboring city of Springfield, homicides, most involving shootings, has drastically increased this summer, with 12 dead in just three months.  From an article:
By whatever name, it’s been a season of violent crime in the Eugene-Springfield area — murders, suicides and shootings that have resulted in the deaths of 12 people, including three since Friday.
Eugene averages about three murders in an entire year; Springfield averages about two.

Nine of the deaths to occur this summer season have involved firearms; two involved a knife; Jeremy Ringquist hanged himself.
Five of the homicide victims have been women; four have been males. Three of the 12 dead are killers — all men — who then committed suicide, police said.
The homicide victims range in age from Gardner, the only juvenile victim at age 17, to 59-year-old Kathy Kay Braun, who was stabbed at her home on Berntzen Road in west Eugene in late July. Two accused killers — one who committed suicide and one who didn’t — are in their 70s.
And while the details on the latest killing are not yet known, most of the crimes are related to domestic violence involving either family members, roommates or partners.
The above figures don’t include other serious crimes, including shootings and stabbings, that have occurred over the summer but in which the victim survived.
As with the BBC article, this article can only speculate on the trends that have led to this.

It's enough to lead nine different health organizations to declare that gun injuries are a public health crisis in America.

But I'm not surprised at all.  

One overwhelming commonality to most of these is the weapon used.  According to FBI data from 2011, around 68% of all homicides involve firearms, with around 75% of those using handguns -- far and away exceeding any other weapons in lethality.

It's not a coincidence that shootings are increasing while gun sales are increasing

The NRA narrative is that more guns make us safer.  The NRA's Wayne LaPierre is infamous for stating that "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," and they have been working overtime to remove any and all gun restrictions that keep guns out of the wrong hands, trying to increase concealed and open carry of guns, and trying to get guns into more places and more hands, including in bars, churches, schools, and government buildings -- all the places where sane people know guns shouldn't be.  And the NRA is succeeding in many places.  And the gun manufacturers who bankroll the organization couldn't be happier.

And yet, despite more guns in more places, the criminals aren't running scared.  Instead, shootings are increasing.  Could it be, possibly, that having more guns around is making it easier for unstable people to access them??  Shocking, I know. 

Last year, I showed comparative graphs illustrating the trends.  As gun sales and gun production increase, along with conceal carry permits granted, so, too, do the number of mass shootings and the number of victims of mass shootings.  

We can now add homicides to that list, too.

We've tried things the "NRA way," and it isn't working.  It's time to form a new trajectory for our nation away from gun violence. 

Addendum (9/4/15): An article from The Trace details how gun deaths have increased this summer compared to last summer:

The total numbers, the numbers that matter, are these. Between the start of Memorial Day Weekend and August 28 (the date when the most recent statistics were pulled), an estimated 3,702 people were killed by guns in America. Another 8,153 were wounded. That’s according to preliminary data from the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks incidents of gun violence through media reports and police blotters. And it amounts to 81 more shooting deaths and 959 more gun injuries than during the same period in 2014.  ... 
It was in America’s cities that the spike in gun violence was foreshadowed in late spring, as crime statistics from the first months of the year trickled in. By early June, Chicago, St. Louis and Baltimore had reported a double-digit uptick in firearm injuries and deaths. By July, several more cities had joined their ranks, one by one surpassing the previous year’s violence in half the time. When compared with Los Angeles and New York, which are home to millions, a few dozen more murders may not seem like an epidemic. For cities like Milwaukee and Omaha, with populations under half a million, the toll can be overwhelming.  
In some urban centers, news outlets tracked shootings by the hour, not the day. 
UPDATE (9/16/15):  The number of homicides and shootings continues to break records in my home town of Eugene and neighboring Springfield.  From an article:

Police have responded to 11 homicides in Eugene and Springfield since June.  The death toll is even higher when you factor in the four suspects who took their own lives in apparent murder-suicides. 

Over the past decade, Eugene has averaged about 3 homicides per year; Springfield averaged about 2. Once in the past decade, Springfield Police investigated 4 homicides in a single calendar year.