Monday, March 12, 2018

Guns Explained Using Animated Cats

The whole issue of gun violence and legislative actions can get, shall I say, "heated," and is as complex of an issue as it comes.  So sometimes it's a good idea to simplify things with an analogy.  I once did so with a "play" about "gum control" in the classroom.

But here's a remarkably better analogy... CATS!  More specifically, an animated video using cats instead of guns:

"But my crazy cat-lady neighbor wants everybody to think it's okay to own a cheetah!"

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Victory In Oregon: Closing The "Boyfriend Loophole"

This week marks another great victory for gun regulation in the state of Oregon.  Governor Brown signed into law House Bill 4145.
The crowd as Governor Brown signs HB4145

In Oregon, it was already illegal for someone to own or possess guns if they were convicted of domestic violence against spouses, former spouses, someone they cohabit with, unmarried parents of their child, someone they've had sexual relations with whom they are cohabiting with, or someone they are blood relatives with.  Seems pretty broad, right? 

Unfortunately, it excluded those who were simply intimate partners who didn't cohabit.  In other words, the abusive boyfriend who is convicted of stalking or abusing his girlfriend. Thus, the "boyfriend loophole."

HB 4145 closes this loophole. The bill also now mandates that local law enforcement is notified when a prohibited person attempts to purchase a gun and fails a background check.

According to the Oregon Health Authority:
  • From 2003 to 2012,  256 people were killed in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Oregon.
  • Most homicide victims were women and children.
  • More than 80% of female victims of intimate partner homicide were killed by their current spouses or boyfriends.
  • Most male victims are killed by someone other than an intimate partner.
  • Firearms are a common mechanism of death among IPV-related homicides.
“Today is a huge victory for Oregon families,” said Penny Okamoto, executive director of Ceasefire Oregon. “Convicted stalkers and abusers will no longer be able to purchase or possess guns. In addition, law enforcement now has the tools necessary to help prosecute prohibited purchasers who attempt to buy firearms illegally.”

Extremist pro-gun groups attempted to argue that a disgruntled girlfriend need only accuse her ex of abuse and his gun rights would be wrongly stripped from him. But that's a lie. They still have to be convicted of stalking or domestic abuse first.

HERE is a video of Governor Brown signing the bill into law outside the state Capitol, surrounded by hundreds of supporters including, in largest part, passionate teenagers who took off from their school day to show their support:

Both local and national gun control groups were pleased with the bill’s passage into law. “Today Oregon became a safer place to live,” said former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. “Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix, something that Oregonians know all too well.”

To learn more about this new law, and related statistics, please visit the Ceasefire Oregon page for it, here: 

Our thanks goes out to the Governor, the sponsors and supporters of this bill. Together, we are making a new trajectory for our society away from gun violence.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

A List Of Incidents Caused By Legal Gun Owners On School Grounds


Every time there's a school shooting, the NRA and pro-gun forces come out of the woodwork again to say that schools, as "gun free zones," are targets for shooters, and that arming teachers and school staff is the only way to insure safety.  It's the myth of the "conceal carry hero" made into a school drama.

This lunacy came to a peak after the Sandy Hook shooting, when, after shameless silence, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre stepped up to the microphone and shocked the world by actually suggesting arming all schools, a move that was soundly rejected as insanity by nearly every national organization representing parents, teachers, and law enforcement, as well as the citizens of Newtown, and has no merit with any historical context, including when it failed to stop the Columbine shooting. Since then, the idea has been floated many times, including by various GOP legislators, extremist gun groups, and even President Trump after the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. States like Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi have introduced bills to follow through with this. And a handful of school systems have decided to do it, including here in Oregon. Legislators have even tried to encourage armed vigilantes to prowl school grounds in return for tax credits.

Two different studies (HERE and HERE) have shown that armed guards in schools make students feel less secure, possibly affecting their academic performance. Not that student perceptions really matter to the pro-gun forces trying to make these decisions.

But could they be right? An analysis by Everytown found that there was an average of two school shootings at K-12 schools every month between 2013-2015. A more recent examination for 2018 by Everytown found an average of one school shooting every 63 hours. With all those school shootings, shouldn't there, by now, have been some good examples where armed civilians other than police have stopped a school shooting? 

Well, no, actually. There has never been a school shooting stopped by an armed teacher or a citizen conceal-carry owner. The closest case I ever found was of a school staff member (and Army reservist commander) who went out to their car and got a gun, but the shooting was over by that point, the shooter was out of ammo and was driving out of the parking lot (the only reason he was stopped was that the shooter crashed his car, allowing the staff member to get to him and hold him under arrest).

However, there HAVE been plenty of cases where gun owners, legally carrying guns on school grounds, have CAUSED incidents on campus, including incidents that wound children, other adults, or themselves.

Here is a list of those incidents that I have found, which will be updated as I find more.  So far, it is up to TWENTY TWO incidents, resulting in the wounding of five children and five adults. Fourteen incidents were caused by police officers or security guards.

  • March 13, 2018:  A teacher and reserve police officer was giving a class on gun safety in his high school classroom in Seaside, CA, when he unintentionally fired his gun toward the ceiling. Bullet fragments wounded a 17-year old boy in the neck. Other students were injured by debris falling from the ceiling.
  • March 13, 2018:  A school resource officer unintentionally discharged his handgun inside an Alexandria, VA, middle school. Luckily no one was injured.
  • February 28, 2018: A high school social studies teacher in Dalton, Georgia, barricaded himself in a classroom and fired a shot from a handgun. Luckily, no one was injured, and he was taken into custody. He had a history of mental problems and violent behavior that had led, at one time, of having his guns removed.
  • February 5, 2018: A police officer was at an elementary school in Maplewood, MN, "building relationships" with 3rd and 4th graders when one little boy reached over and pulled the trigger on the officer's holstered handgun. The gun fired into the floor. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • September 13, 2016:  A school teacher at Cumberland Christian School, in Chambersburg, PA, left a loaded, unsecured handgun on a toilet in a bathroom. Four children, ages 6 to 8, went in the bathroom before one of the children reported the gun. Luckily, none of them fired the gun.
  • February 19, 2015:  A school resource officer at Western Wayne School District in Pennsylvania unintentionally fired his handgun in the school.  Luckily, no one was injured.
  • September 11, 2014:  A teacher was in the bathroom of a school in Taylorsville, Utah, when she unintentionally shot herself in the leg with her own handgun.
  • January 18, 2014:  An armed security guard left his weapon unattended in the bathroom, fully accessible to K-8 students, despite being a retired police weapons instructor.
  • January 18, 2014: Two police officers serving as school resource officers decided to clean their guns while on the grounds of an Akron, Ohio, high school. One of them unintentionally discharged his gun. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • October 24, 2013:  A police officer left his loaded AR-15 assault rifle strapped to his motorcycle while visiting an elementary school.  A boy pulled the trigger, firing the weapon and leading to a shrapnel injury of three kids.
  • August 24, 2013:  A SWAT police officer was giving a presentation at an elementary school in Lodi, California, when a 6-8 year old boy fired the officer's holstered gun, hitting the officer in the leg.
  • May 15, 2013:  A Winchester, PA, police officer boarded a special needs school bus to calm a student. After the officer sat next to him, the child reached over and pulled the trigger on the officer's handgun, discharging a round into the bus seat and floor. Luckily, no one was injured.
  • May 14, 2013:  A school staffer with a conceal carry permit was offering a ride to a student, in the parking lot of a high school in Aurora, Colorado, when he unintentionally fired his legally concealed handgun, hitting the student in the leg.
  • April 16, 2013: A Boy Scout troop leader, who was also a retired police officer and conceal carry permit holder, dropped a fanny pack containing his gun while attending a scout meeting inside a Des Plains, Illinois, grade school. The gun discharged, striking him in the leg. No one else was injured.
  • March 6, 2013:  A recently-started armed resource officer program at schools in Highland, New York, was suspended after one of the security guards unintentionally fired his weapon in school Children were present, but luckily no one was injured.
  • March 1, 2013:  During a conceal carry training class, on school grounds, which was part of a new program to arm school staff, a school maintenance worker who was a student in the class unintentionally fired his weapon, wounding himself in the leg.
  • January 17, 2013:  A charter school in Lapeer, Michigan, decided to start having an armed guard on campus.  Three days after hiring a guard, the man left his weapon in a school bathroom where kids could have found it.
  • October 8, 2012:  A man with a concealed handgun visited an elementary school classroom in Moore, Oklahoma, to help the teacher with her computer.  His gun fell out and he left without it, only realizing it was missing after the media reported it.  Small children were present in the room at the time.
  • March 22, 2012:  A volunteer track coach at John Mall High School in Walsenburg, Colorado, unintentionally shot himself in the leg with his new .40 caliber Glock handgun, nearly bleeding to death.  He was in his vehicle in the parking lot of the school sports complex.
  • December 8, 2011:  A janitor with a conceal carry permit was working on ceiling tiles in a preschool classroom in Waterbury, Connecticut, when he took off his gun belt.  He then left the loaded gun in the classroom and forgot about it. Monday morning, teachers came in the room and found the gun, only moments before 3- and 4-year olds entered the room.
  • September 12, 2011:  An armed security guard, patrolling schools at night in Salem, Oregon, unintentionally lost his loaded firearm somewhere during his rounds The gun was never found.
  • May 12, 2011:  A school resource officer was cleaning his gun, while in the school building, and unintentionally fired the gun. The round went through the wall and into the nurse's room where there were two student, the nurse, and another adult. Luckily, no one was injured.

[By the way, this list doesn't include shootings by adults who are simply behaving badly on school grounds, such as arguments in the parking lot, like this one, this one, or this one, or shootings by children who bring guns to school. The list would be FAR longer. Instead, this list just focuses on "law-abiding" school staff, teachers, security, or anyone else who might be expected to protect kids with their guns, as the NRA argues.]

I urge you to save this list. The next time you hear a pro-gun supporter suggest that guns in school is a good idea, whether it is from a legislator, school board, or some gun guy off the street, please show them this list and challenge them to show you a comparable list of incidents that support their side. They'll come up with crickets. 
February 28, 2018, Dalton, GA

And you might also remind them that school shootings have been stopped by school staff... unarmed.  Like this one, who said "If I had had a gun on me, we'd have all been dead." There's also this one and this one. 

The idea of arming school teachers and staff is wrongheaded and flies in the face of the facts and common sense. Instead of turning our classrooms into guardrooms and our schools into fortresses, let's work to keep guns out of the wrong hands in the first place with better, common sense gun regulations.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Stoneman Douglas High School Drama Club Performs "Shine"

On February 21, one week after the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a town hall meeting was held to discuss the issues of gun violence reduction and how they related to the shooting.

It was an emotion-charged event, where students and teachers confronted legislators and the NRA, face to face, on the issues.

At the end of the event, though, was this moving musical tribute, where members of the Stoneman Douglas High Schooll Drama Club, some of whom lost friends during the shooting, performed an original musical performance, entitled "Shine"....

"You're not gonna knock us down / We'll get back up again / You may have hurt us but I promise we are stronger and / We're not gonna let you win / We're putting up a fight / You may have brought the dark / But together we will shine a light," the chorus says.

It is chilling and amazing. If only we didn't have to have events like this, so that memorial songs like this wouldn't be needed anymore.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bump-Fire Stocks And Why They Are Important In The Las Vegas Massacre

In Las Vegas, 59 people died and over 500 were wounded. It's hard to fathom how one man could kill and injure so many people in less than 10 minutes -- until you consider the weapons he had at hand, weapons that are legal to purchase almost anywhere in our nation.

As America continues to reel from the horror unleashed in Las Vegas this week, remembers the victims and all the heroic acts of concert-goers saving each other, the picture of the shooter and his high-powered, military-style weaponry is becoming clearer.

Searching the shooter's 32nd floor hotel room, investigators found 23 firearms, almost all of which were semi-auto assault rifles, along with high-capacity ammo magazines, sniper scopes, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Searching the shooter's home, more firearms were found, as well as more ammunition and signs of explosives.  In all, 47 firearms were discovered that had been in his possession.

On many of the assault rifles, investigators found "bump-fire stocks."  This is a very important point.  What are bump stocks and why are they important?

"Bump-fire" is a technique used by "gun enthusiasts" to fire semi-auto guns far faster, almost like a full-auto machine gun, by using the gun's recoil to cause their finger to hit the trigger in a rapid fashion.  HERE is an example of someone bump firing an AK pistol.

"Bump-fire stocks" are similar, in that they are an accessory rifle stock (the back part of the gun that goes up against your shoulder) that is manufactured in such a way as to create the bump-fire action in an easier fashion.  In the words of Senator Dianne Feinstein“This replacement shoulder stock turns a semi-automatic rifle into a weapon that can fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds per minute." This in essence turns a semi-auto assault rifle, which is already high-powered, into nearly the equivalent of a fully automatic "machine gun." These also help get around strict gun regulations in California which are meant to prevent fully automatic rifle sales. Feinstein had introduced a bill in 2013 to ban bump-fire stocks, but the bill was defeated. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, she is looking to re-introduce the ban.

The Mercury News released a very good article that describes in more detail how bump-fire stocks work.

Here is a video of a gun manufacturer who is selling bump-fire stocks, as advertised during the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, ironically, in 2013. Note how fast the shots are fired with it with both an AR-15 and AK-47:

[UPDATE: shortly after publishing this post, that video was taken down, so here is a different video demonstrating a comparable bump-fire stock in action]  The narrator says "Once we really got the hang of this thing, it was a ton of fun. As you can see here, Brian is just rippin' through rounds here and really enjoying it!" then adds "It's cheap, it's only $100."

Here is another video, this time by a gun nut showing it off with his AK-47, calling the bump-fire stock a "real fun toy" (note that his little child is just off-camera, asking when he can have a turn):

UPDATE: (As with the other videos I originally posted, this one was taken down soon after I published this blog post. -- it seems the gun guys aren't too keen on their ads for these bump fire stocks now that 59 people were killed and hundreds injured by a shooter with one.)

HERE is another video that compares "the world's fastest shooter" to bump fire.

Compare the rate of fire to the horrifying audio from the Las Vegas massacre.  Rapid fire like that belongs on the battleground, not at a concert in Las Vegas. There were military veterans who died at the concert, who suffered from PTSD from their time overseas. Imagine the horror they felt as they heard rapid fire, here at home, which took the life of this Navy veteran, or this Marine who managed to survive and helped save the lives of others. “It was a mini war zone but we couldn’t fight back,” he said.

Now imagine if a silencer (or "sound suppressor") had been used in addition.  Due to the Las Vegas shooting, the House decided to delay a vote on a bill (deceptively called the SHARE Act, supposedly to help hunters) that would deregulate silencers, as well as armor-piercing ammo and other gun regulations.

The shooter's weapons were not suppressed. Because of this, other hotel patrons heard the gunshots, like this guy two stories up, and were alarmed. When the police team searched for the shooter's room, the sound of the gunfire helped them find him (in addition to smoke alarms from the smoke created by the weapons during firing).  One policeman stated“I'm inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor, I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.”  If the guns had had silencers on them, most hotel patrons beyond one room away likely wouldn't have known what was happening, and police would have had a harder time locating the shooter's room.

Don't believe me?  Consider the following video, where a gun enthusiast demonstrates his AR-15 assault rifle, complete with bump-fire stock, outfitted with a sound suppressor.  He describes it as "very very quiet suppressor." Listen carefully and judge for yourself whether you would be able to hear it more than a couple rooms away:

UPDATE: as with the first video in this post, this video was also taken down a day after I posted.  So here is a different video with a bump-fire stock with and without a silencer.  Compare the noise it produces.  He doesn't even need ear protection:

UPDATE: And now that link, too, has been taken off.  YouTube decided that it doesn't meet their guidelines!  Good for YouTube, honestly.  

"Fun, fun!" he exclaims after firing. "Life is really good."  He doesn't even need to wear ear plugs or any ear protection.

And why would anyone need the bump-fire stocks?  For the "Fun, fun!" of it, apparently, unless you're fending off a small army of invaders -- or trying to kill hundreds of concert-goers.

It's time to ban these heinous devices and bring a new trajectory to our societies away from gun violence.

UPDATE (10/5/17): House Republicans are considering voting on a bill to make bump-fire stocks illegal, introduced by Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.  From a CNN article:
The Florida Republican said his proposal would be a straight ban on bump stocks: "no one can have them, no one can make them, no one can transfer them." His approach mirrors a measure introduced by House Democrats on Wednesday.

UPDATE (10/5/17):  Well, now here's a surprise!  It must be the first time in two decades that the NRA is actually willing to support a form of stricter gun regulation!  They are willing to support stricter regulation of bump-fire stocks.

A statement from the NRA, from an article:

The group said: "Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations." ....
The NRA called on Thursday for regulators to "immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law".  ...
"In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented," NRA chiefs Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox wrote in the statement. 

Does this mean that they will also support other means of rapid fire, such as "bullet buttons" or the sale of parts and books intended to make your own full-auto modifications, or 3D printed parts that do the same?  I hope so.  UPDATE (10/12/17): Eh, nevermind, says the NRA, they don't actually support a ban on them, just "further review" by the ATF, who can't regulate firearms *accessories* unless told to do so by a law passed by Congress.  So, in other words, nothing will change if the NRA has it's way.  Gee, what a surprise.

Again, as with the GOP, I suspect that they are throwing the public a bone in the hopes that public outrage over this shooting can be quelled before further gun regulation is proposed.

UPDATE (10/5/17):  President Trump has also signaled that he would be willing to consider a ban on bump-fire stocks.

UPDATE (10/10/17): Not only are the gun nuts ashamed to the point of pulling their YouTube videos, but retailers are now pulling the bump-stocks off the market, even though there is demand.  Good for them!

UPDATE (2/20/18): President Trump today said that he would move to make bump stocks illegal. In his words:  "Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns."  It's just a memo, and the NRA and pro-gun legislators have already, quietly, opposed the measure. So we'll see what comes of it. Also, he said, "ban all devices," so does this include trigger cranks, bullet-buttons, and other devices? What about all the books and accessory parts sold out there that help gun owners retrofit their semi-auto rifles to become full-auto?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ceasefire Oregon Statement On The Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Ceasefire Oregon and Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation are horrified by the mass shooting early this morning in Las Vegas. Recent reports suggest that 58 people were shot to death and more than 500 were injured after a gunman armed with military-style weaponry shot into a crowded concert audience in Las Vegas from a casino hotel balcony before shooting himself to death.

Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation grieve for the fallen and the injured, and for their families and friends. We also grieve for our nation as we suffer from the deadliest mass shooting in our nation's history.

We call on all Americans to respect each other as fellow citizens and as human beings who are valued and cherished.

But respect and prayers are not enough.
Mass shootings of increasingly alarming numbers of killed and wounded continue to happen with no action from our federal legislators to stop the next one. We must have commonsense gun laws put in place to keep guns out of the hands of those who wish to do evil, and we must have a renewed ban against military-style weaponry designed for the battlefield. 

Today, we are asking you to call your legislators to demand a ban on assault rifles, and to reject the SHARE Act which will deregulate silencers and make deadly firearms even easier to access. Find your legislator here. Say that you've had ENOUGH of the carnage. The only ones who are benefitting are the gun lobby and the politicians who are beholden to the NRA. Tell your legislators to ban assault rifles and vote NO on the SHARE Act. 

For more information on how we can reduce gun violence, read Ceasefire Oregon's Plan to Reduce gun violence.
We won't stop, we won't let up. Thank you for speaking out!
Penny, Joanne, and the entire Ceasefire Oregon team

Friday, July 7, 2017

Oregon legislators pass bipartisan bill to reduce suicide and domestic violence deaths

A statement from Ceasefire Oregon:

Today the Oregon legislature passed SB 719, the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) bill, which allows families and law enforcement to prevent tragedies by petitioning a court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms and other dangerous weapons. The bill, cosponsored by Senator Boquist and Senator Burdick, is expected to be signed into law by Governor Kate Brown.

Oregonians now have an important tool to help reduce suicide, domestic violence, and shootings.

“People who are thinking of killing themselves or harming others often often show signs or declare their intentions well before committing the act. The first people to see those signs are often family members,” stated Joanne Skirving, president of Ceasefire Oregon. “An ERPO gives families and law enforcement a chance to intervene and perhaps prevent a tragedy. In Oregon, where suicide is 85% of all gunshot deaths, temporarily removing access to guns is especially important to prevent suicide.”

Washington state voters passed Initiative 14911, an ERPO law, in November 2016 by a 40 point margin (70% to 30%). Indiana and Connecticut2 also have versions of ERPO. In 2014, California passed AB 1014,3 called a Gun Violence Restraining Order, in response to a killing rampage earlier that year in Isla Vista.

Jenna Yuille of Americans for Responsible Solutions noted, “In 1999, Connecticut became the first state to pass a similar law and they've seen life-saving results. In the first 14 years of its implementation, police issued 762 orders, which helped save dozens of lives.4 We thank Senators Boquist and Burdick for their efforts to make ERPO a reality in Oregon.”

Once an ERPO has been filed, a court must find clear and convincing evidence that an individual is threatening harm to self or others, before the court can order the respondent to temporarily surrender any guns to the police. The respondent will not be able to buy, sell, or possess other firearms for a temporary period of time.

Penny Okamoto, executive director of Ceasefire Oregon explained the ERPO due process protections. “To protect the rights of the respondent, the bill establishes procedures for the respondent to request a hearing. The burden of proof is on the petitioner to show clear and convincing evidence.”  Okamoto added, “ERPOs are not to be taken lightly. False applications of ERPO or violation of ERPO is punishable by one year’s imprisonment, $6,250 fine or both.”

Passage of this bill has been a bipartisan effort across Oregon.

“Oregon continues to show that we can move past partisanship to find common ground when it comes to gun safety,” said Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety President Jenn Lynch. “Building on our bipartisan work in 2015 to address the nexus between domestic violence and gun violence, this legislation shows how leaders can move past political posturing to find real solutions to make our communities safer.”

Passing this bill is the culmination of work by many gun violence prevention advocates in Oregon including the family of Laura Magee, Melissa Keyser, Central Coast Ceasefire Oregon, Ceasefire Oregon, Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety, Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership, League of Women Voters of Oregon, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oregon Brady Campaign, Pastor Mark Knutson, Rev. Lynne Smouse Lopez, Rev. Chuck Currie, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Moms Demand Action, and Everytown for Gun Safety and thousands of individual gun violence prevention advocates across Oregon.
  1. Swanson, Jeffrey W. and Norko, Michael and Lin, Hsiu-Ju and Alanis-Hirsch, Kelly and Frisman, Linda and Baranoski, Madelon and Easter, Michele and Gilbert, Allison and Swartz, Marvin and Bonnie, Richard J., Implementation and Effectiveness of Connecticut's Risk-Based Gun Removal Law: Does it Prevent Suicides? (August 24, 2016). Law and Contemporary Problems, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: