Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Gun Violence Review of 2015

2015 was another bloody year for America.  And, once again, our federal lawmakers have done nothing at all to staunch the flow of blood.  It is shameful.

On Christmas Day alone, there were at least 27 Americans shot and killed and 63 were wounded, according to the Washington Post:

The number of Americans killed in gun homicides on Christmas Day is comparable to the number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in places like Australia or Britain. The 27 people killed by guns in America on Christmas this year is equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland, combined.
And, as pointed out by my blogging friend over at Common Gunsense, there were at least three murder/suicide shootings.

It's total insanity.  It's unacceptable.

Mass shootings of four or more people continue to increase.  The Reddit Mass Shooting Tracker has tracked at least 372 this year, as of this posting.  That's more than one a day in American!  Is this the America we wish to see??

You can see each and every one of them at the Mass Shootings Tracker page from the Gun Violence Archive site, where you can also find the map I posted here.

And it's no coincidence that gun sales are increasing as well.  I've posted before about how the increase in gun sales mirrors an increase in active shooter events.  As VOX has reported, 2015 promises to be a record year in gun sales.  And I've certainly noticed an uptick in shootings of all types.

One of those horrific mass shootings was, as you know, here in Oregon, at Umpqua Community College, with nine people killed and up to nine injured before the shooter killed himself.

The Trace has posted an article listing the 10 Americans Who Changed the Gun Debate in 2015, including a researcher, a conceal carry permit holder at the Umpqua shooting, a hunter fed up with the NRA, a mother of a shooting victim, a politician, a policy adviser, a lawyer on a landmark case, and others.

The Trace also posted some of the Most Powerful Sentences About Gun Violence published this year.  One of my favorites, by writer Dylan Matthews, regarding how some Conservatives don't want to "count" suicides in gun death data: 
Obviously there's tremendous variation in particular people's ethical frameworks, but where I come from, a death is a death.

Looking back over the year, I have to say that 2015 is the tipping point.  Momentum has built.  The public wants change like never before.  Sandy Hook was a wake-up call, and since then everyone is noticing the increase in mass shootings as, one after another, the horror passes from one location to another as the days pass.  More and more organizations are forming to keep up with the demand of people wanting to help with the change.  More voices are calling for reasonable gun violence prevention laws.

And Oregon is no exception.  This year Ceasefire Oregon and the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety, working with responsible legislators, passed and enacted a universal background check bill in Oregon, SB 941.  Now gun sellers have no excuses for selling guns to prohibited people, and those people are more likely to get caught.  Oregon passed a bill to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, SB 525.  And SB 385 also passed, allowing judges to prohibit guns being carried into courtrooms.  These bills "provided a beacon of hope for gun reform momentum."

Given that 40% of guns used in crimes come from private transfer, I think we should see a real change in the level of shootings here in Oregon in 2016 and beyond.

Pro-gun forces attempted, in a childish and vengeful abuse of the system, to recall four of the state legislators who sponsored SB 941.  All of those efforts failed miserably.  And over and over again, those forces supported pro-criminal efforts to "subvert" the system, and continue to call for their supporters to "defy" the laws on the books.  Clearly, we must continue our efforts to protect Oregonians against these pro-criminal, pro-gun forces and keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Ceasefire Oregon's Central Coast chapter has been very active, too, including a gun turn-in that brought in 138 unwanted but operational guns and 95 high-capacity ammo magazines.

What will 2016 bring?  On a national level, I expect to see a continued increase in grass-roots efforts to pass reasonable gun regulation laws.  If our stubborn and pro-gun lawmakers don't follow, we will vote them out!

As for Ceasefire Oregon, we have a plan to reduce gun violence by 30-50% in the next five years.  But your help is needed.  Together, we can find a new trajectory for our communities away from gun violence.  Let's make it a New Year's resolution!

ADDENDUM (1/1/16): A related article by the Washington Post:  "2015 was a grim year for American gun violence."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays, and Peace on Earth

Thank you, to all of you who work so hard to reduce gun violence, and to those who read this blog.  2015 has been a very successful year for commonsense gun regulation in Oregon, thanks to you, but we still have so much to accomplish.

Let's continue to work together to make a new trajectory for our communities away from gun violence.

Happy Holidays, and may you and your loved ones have a healthy and peaceful new year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

If Only He'd Had A Gun To Defend Himself. Oh, Wait... (Deli Conceal Carry Robbery)

Many, many times I have blogged here with examples of "good guys with guns" who, despite having loaded guns readily available to them, they were nonetheless victims of shootings or even had their own guns turned against them.

And the gun lobbies love to push the idea that, if only a citizen had a loaded gun concealed on them,
The robber, armed with the victim's concealed handgun,
struggles with the victim (in green) (source)
they would be safe against criminals. Worse, even, that they could become heroes, gunning down the bad guys and robbers, vigilante-style (as some extremist lawmakers have suggested).

Well, here's a good example of how that mentality can go wrong.  A patron (in the green shirt) was in a Philadelphia deli when a man came up behind him and tried to rob him.  The robber was unarmed.  A fight ensued.  During the fight, a loaded, holstered handgun fell out of the victim's clothing.  It turns out the victim had a conceal carry permit and was carrying.  

From an article with news video:
Surveillance cameras captured the customer, who was armed and licensed to carry, fight off the robber. As the two men fought, the customer's gun fell from his hip. The two men then struggled over the gun until the robber was able to gain control. Police say he then fired one shot that narrowly missed the customer and struck the ceiling vent. The customer then chased the robber out of the store. The robber managed to escape however. 
The victim is lucky the robber missed.  And that the robber didn't try to shoot at him again after the victim chased the shooter.  But the point is clear.  Carrying the gun didn't stop any crime, and it almost cost him his life.

If Only He'd Had A Gun To Defend Himself. Oh, Wait.... (Friend To The Rescue)

A man in Portland, Oregon, was being attacked and was stabbed by the attackers.

That's when the man's friend showed up with a gun, which he fired to "scare the attackers."

It didn't work.  Instead, the attackers fought the man and took the gun away from him.  As they fled, they fired back at him with the gun they'd just taken.  Luckily they missed.

Now another gun is in the hands of criminals.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

What To Do With Melted-Down And Destroyed Guns

Every year, Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation (COEF) sponsors gun turn-in events in Oregon.  In return for gift certificates for area supermarkets, people who have unwanted guns turn them in to the local police at the event, able to rid their homes of dangerous lethal weapons and walk away with the ability to purchase food and materials to help them live.  It is an event mirrored in more and more cities across the nation as people realize the dangers of guns in the home.  The guns are handed directly to police.

Since the inception of our gun turn-in events in 1994, COEF has eliminated nearly 8500 firearms off the streets and out of the homes of our state!

Guns being melted down into rebar (source)
Why would people turn in guns?  Some of the guns are old and corroded, dangerous to operate.  Some are from homes that have recently given birth to children and the family realizes the danger of having curious small children around firearms.  Some are from widows whose husbands had been gun owners and who have no interest or ability to shoot them.  And some are from homes with suicidal or otherwise dangerous individuals.  Some of these guns are kept out of the hands of criminals, with resulting declines of gun crimes afterward.  Can any reasonable person argue against these very sensible reasons?

But naturally, the gun fetishists picket the turn-in events, unable to accept that the reasons given above are reasonable.  They harass those who come to the event, harass those of us who help with the event, and even harass the police officers.  They even try to buy the guns off of those who come to turn them in, paying cash at the gate, though, thanks to the recently-enacted Senate Bill 941, they can no longer do so unless the seller and buyer go together to a firearms dealer to perform a background check.  Here's an example video, filmed by the gun guys themselves, showing these gun extremists literally waving cash around and harassing gun violence prevention advocates at an Oregon gun turn-in.

But what really makes the gun guys' heads explode is what becomes of their fetish items after they are turned in to the police.  The guns are cut up and melted down.

The same is true, also, for guns confiscated from criminals, after they have been used as evidence, by law enforcement.

What do you do the resulting metal?

In the majority, most of these cases see the metal go into very utilitarian uses.  This year in Los Angeles, for instance, the metal from  3400 guns that had been confiscated in crimes went into making rebar for construction of freeway bridges (see image to the right).  In 22 years of this event, 180,000 guns have wound up this way!  Another event in Seattle also turned them into rebar.

Other events have the guns turned into manhole covers, such as this one in Boston.  It gives me great pleasure to think that hundreds of guns were melted down to cover sewers!

In a turn-in in Cleveland, hundreds of guns were melted down to be used in the manufacture of cars, household appliances, and other consumer goods.

Guns being melted down in Clevelant (source)
And in the spirit of beating swords into plowshares, a group in Philadelphia has been turning assault rifles into garden tools.  And a Mexican artist has been melting down 1527 guns into 1527 shovel heads to plant trees.

In Virginia beach, guns were melted down and formed into paperweights.

One city in Delaware used to melt the guns and other weapons down and make nails, but now they are used to produce electricity.

But not all of these guns have been turned into utilitarian items.  Some have been turned into artistic statements against gun violence.

Ammo and gun parts melted to form bracelets like on the right (source)
Jewelry is a popular result.  This New York artist turns assault rifles and ammo into bracelets, each one bearing the serial number of one of the guns used to make it, the proceeds from the sales of which are used to fund gun violence prevention efforts.

And these beautiful torc bracelets are also created out of illegal guns and ammo, also helping to fund gun violence prevention efforts, through Armani.

Newark, New Jersey, also had guns melted down into jewelry by a designer, who called it the "Caliber Collection."  An offshoot from that project attracted the rap singer Snoop Dogg to release his own line of melted-gun jewelry.  The city of Chicago also made jewelry.

Sculpture isn't unheard of.  In Colorado, high school students are using gun metal to form inspirational statues dedicated to shooting victims.  From an article:

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office donated surrendered guns, teaching the students how to disarm them and supervising the sawing of the guns so they no longer functioned. Sculptor Jessica Adams is guiding the students as they use the melted gun metal to create a sculpture out of 12,400 rods, one for each gun victim in 2013, with longer rods for younger victims, symbolizing the length of the lives they were not able to live.  
"Peace Angel"
Sheila Dierks, a priest at the Light of Christ Ecumenical Catholic Church who is volunteering with the project said, “By transforming these guns into art, we’re giving less power to the gun and more to the power of change we hope to see.”
In New York City, 946 confiscated guns were turned into a 5 foot tall "peace angel" statue.  Other, larger, "peace angel" statues made out of gun metal will also be placed around New York in the future, including at the 9/11 memorial.

Here are examples from around the world of sculptures made of destroyed guns.  Here are some other sculptures made of destroyed guns by an artist, and here is a Pinterest gallery of many other works of art made from destroyed guns.

Finally, in perhaps the most creative way to use destroyed guns, an artist has turned them into musical instruments of many different kinds, including xylophone, electric guitar, flute, and others.

Here is a video of the artist and his musical instruments:

Whatever the usage, whether an artistic creation or just a paperweight, any of these ends are better than having the gun intact.  The best type of gun is a destroyed gun.

UPDATE (7/27/16):  HERE is another example, where the city of Los Angeles had its 23rd "gun melt" event, this time melting down 7000 guns (nearly 10 tons!) to make rebar to reinforce roads and bridges.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mass Shootings Where Conceal Carry Gun Owners Were Present But Failed To Stop The Carnage

The NRA mantra, famously recited by Wayne LaPierre after the Sandy Hook shooting, is that "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun."  It is the basis by which they push gun ownership and conceal carry in any and all public (and private) places, along with fabricated data by disgraced pro-gun researcher John Lott.  The "conceal carry hero" is a myth oft repeated by pro-gun forces both high and low.  As one pro-gun state representative put it, "When everyone is carrying a firearm, nobody is going to be a victim."

I've posted before on the ridiculous assertion of the "conceal carry hero," such as after the Aurora theater shooting, or after the Sandy Hook shooting.

But there is no basis to this myth.  Not one mass shooting has been stopped by a conceal carry "hero" who wasn't law enforcement or a security guard.  In fact, Mother Jones did a study, and out of 62 mass shootings that they looked at over 30 years, not one of them was stopped by a citizen with a handgun.  Another study by the FBI, of 185 mass shootings over a 13 year period, also failed to find any that were stopped by a citizen with a gun who wasn't police or a security guard.

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, I know of at least five mass shootings where there was an armed citizen with a concealed handgun present who failed to do anything to stop the shooting, and one of them died in the process.  Here they are.....

San Bernardino, California (December, 2015)

Yes, this 355th mass shooting of 2015, which happened only days ago and is still causing the nation to mourn, actually had an armed citizen pulling his gun and aiming at the husband-wife terrorists as the event unfolded!  Did this "good guy with a gun" stop the "bad guy with a gun?"  No.  Why?  Because ... he just didn't feel like walking on the grounds of the Inland Regional Center??  From an article:

The armed citizen at the San Bernardino shooting, Glenn
Willwerth, who didn't change the outcome (source)

Glenn Willwirth owns a paper company across the street from the Inland Regional Center. When a man ran into his business and said a shooting was taking place, Willwirth grabbed his .45 caliber handgun and walked toward the center, taking position behind a water truck that was refilling a fire hydrant. Willwirth told CNN that he was able to draw a bead on the shooters but chose not to fire because of the chaos. In a separate interview with the Boston Herald, he added this about why he held back: 
“I wasn’t going to travel onto their property to get involved — just because it’s not my property — but I went up to the edge of it and that was as close as I really needed to be getting to the whole situation. If they came at me it would have been a different story.”
I haven't heard if the Inland Regional Center is a "gun free zone" or not.

14 victims were killed.  17 were injured.  The shooters were later killed by a police SWAT team ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.

Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon  (October, 2015)

When a deranged gunman came on campus and started shooting up a classroom full of community
The armed student at UCC, John Parker Jr.,
who didn't change the outcome (source)
college students, it wasn't a gun-free zone (which I blogged on before).  Oregon law allows conceal carry on campuses.  And at least one adult student was packing a loaded handgun.  Did he run in to kill the "bad guy with a gun?"  No.  He didn't even go near.  Why?  Because he understood that he might not know all the facts and that he might be mistaken as the shooter by law enforcement.  John Parker, Jr., who is a military veteran, explained why he and some other armed students chose not to confront the shooter:

"When we found out there was an active shooter on campus, we were going to go and see if we could intervene. ... If there was something we could do, we were going to do it." 
"Luckily, we made the choice not to get involved," he told MSNBC. "We were quite a distance away from the actual building where it was happening, which could have opened us up to being potential targets ourselves. And, you know, not knowing where SWAT was on their response time, they wouldn't know who we were, and if we had our guns ready to shoot, they'd think we were the bad guys."
Nine people were killed, and up to ten people were injured.  The shooting ended when the suspect shot himself to death ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.

Walmart/CiCi's Pizza Shooting, Las Vegas, Nevada
(June, 2014)

A man and woman, who had been at the Bundy Ranch, decided to "start a revolution" by shooting two police to death, with no warning, in a CiCi's Pizza restaurant.  The couple then went to a neighboring Walmart store and started shooting at the ceiling, trying to scare out customers.  It is clear that their intended targets were police, not customers.
The armed citizen at the Las Vegas shooting,
Joseph Wilcox,who didn't change the outcome

At this point, a citizen with a concealed handgun, Joseph Wilcox, decided to intervene.  Wilcox, who aspired to be a police officer, pulled his handgun and confronted one of the shooters.  The other shooter, however, came up behind him and shot him to death.  From an article:
Joseph Robert Wilcox, 31, was at Walmart with a friend returning a modem when a gun-toting couple who had just murdered two police officers at a pizza shop came into the store. Instead of running away, Wilcox, told his friend he was going to confront the one gunman he could see. 
Wilcox pulled out the handgun for which he had a concealed weapons permit but that his family says he rarely carried. He approached Jerad Miller, a 31-year-old ex-convict who investigators say walked into Walmart, fired off one round, and told shoppers, "This is a revolution." His wife, Amanda Miller, 22, was trailing behind, authorities said. 
"[Wilcox] immediately and heroically moved towards the position of Jerad Miller," Las Vegas Assistant Sheriff Kevin McMahill said at a briefing Monday. "As soon as he began to confront Jerad Miller with his firearm, Amanda Miller removed her firearm and shot him one time in the ribs area, where he immediately collapsed."
Why did Wilcox decide to arm himself?  From an article:
“He was very protective of other people. The reason he got that gun was because he got tired of people like that,” people who would pick on others, Debra Wilcox said. 
Joseph Wilcox’s uncle John Wilson, during a phone interview, described his nephew as someone who wasn’t political. “But he definitely believed in the right to bear arms and the right to defend yourself and others,” Wilson said.
Wilcox was living out what the NRA and other pro-gun forces have advocated for a long time:  to be the "good guy with a gun" when freedom is endangered, standing his ground instead of retreating and awaiting police.  And now he leaves behind a young wife and a small child who will never know his daddy.

After shooting Wilcox and clearing out the store of other people, the shooters barricaded themselves in the Walmart store, preparing for a long siege and getting additional ammo from the store's display cases.  A 15-minute shootout ensued with police.

Walmart allows concealed weapons and thus is not a "gun free zone."

Three victims were killed, including Wilcox.  The shooting ended when one shooter committed suicide and the other was shot to death by police ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.

Clackamas Town Center Mall, Clackamas, Oregon (December, 2012)

When an aimless, suicidal drifter armed himself with an assault rifle and started shooting up the food court of the Clackamas Town Center, there was an off-duty security guard in the mall who "always carries" a loaded handgun.  Nick Meli took cover when the shooting began and urged those around him, including his girlfriend and a child, to take cover and escape the scene.  He also pulled his gun.  According to police reports, it was only when the shooter's gun had jammed and he was attempting to fix the jam and reload it, that Meli aimed at the suspect.  From a Sheriff's report:

The armed citizen at the Clackamas shooting, Nick Meli,
who didn't change the outcome (screenshot source)

Mr. Meli told me that he had seen the suspect armed with a rifle. ... He said he directed his girlfriend and child to leave the mall as he stood and watched the suspect attempting to either reload or fix the rifle. He said, "He was trying to reload it, however I think it jammed."

And from a police detective's report:   

Mr. Meli told me that he "handed the baby off" and then he heard about eight more rapid fire shots. Mr. Meli told me that he peered around the corner and saw a man wearing a white "Jason ski mask", a black sweater, black pants and he had an AR-15 assault rifle. Mr. Meli told me that the shooter came running towards where Mr. Meli was. Mr. Meli told me that he took cover behind a support pillar. Mr. Meli told me that he was not sure where the shooter was going. Mr. Meli told me that he then noticed that the shooter had stopped because his rifle had malfunctioned and he was pulling the charging handle. Mr. meli told me that that is when he stepped out and drew his own weapon and "placed it on his head." Mr. Meli told me that as he was going to pull the trigger he saw someone move inside the Charlotte Rouge store. Mr. Meli told me that he knew that if he was to shoot and miss he could hit someone in the store, so he decided not to shoot. Mr. Meli told me that that is when the shooter got his rifle clear. Mr. Meli told me that the shooter turned and looked at him, so Mr. Meli backed up inside Macy's Home.

After this point Meli fled and took cover.  He never fired.

Pro-gun advocates and Conservative websites (example) starting lauding Meli as having "stopped" the gunman by scaring him into submission with his concealed handgun, saving "untold number of lives," but there's no reason to believe this is the case.  All they did was look at each other.  PolitiFact investigated by calling the Clackamas Sheriff's Office and asking if they felt Meli had made a difference in the shooter's actions:

"It’s inconclusive on our end," said Lt. Robert Wurpes, office spokesman. "We can’t say either way whether he did or did not make a difference. It would only be speculation."
Clackamas Town Center is a "gun free zone," so Meli was going against the mall's policy.

Two people were killed and a third was wounded.  The shooting ended when the suspect shot himself to death ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.

Gabby Giffords Public Meeting In Tucson, Arizona (January, 2011)

U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords was holding a constituent meeting in the parking lot of a supermarket when a lone, deranged gunman opened fire.  Giffords was shot point-blank in the head.  The shooter then turned his gun on others at the meeting, including a federal district judge and a 9-year old girl, both of whom died.  It was only when he was re-loading his weapon that members of the audience were able to subdue the shooter.

The armed citizen in Tucson, Joe Zamudio,
who didn't change the outcome (screenshot source)

When the shooting started, there was a man with a loaded, concealed handgun, named Joe Zamudio, in the supermarket adjacent to the stage.  He reacted immediately, moving toward the scene, gun ready.  Did he save the day?  No.  In fact, he almost killed an innocent man whom he, at first, thought was the shooter.  From an article:

"I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready," he explained on Fox and Friends. "I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this." Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. "And that's who I at first thought was the shooter," Zamudio recalled. "I told him to 'Drop it, drop it!' " 
But the man with the gun wasn't the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. "Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess," the interviewer pointed out. 
Zamudio agreed:
I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.
The Arizona Daily Star, based on its interview with Zamudio, adds two details to the story. First, upon seeing the man with the gun, Zamudio "grabbed his arm and shoved him into a wall" before realizing he wasn't the shooter. And second, one reason why Zamudio didn't pull out his own weapon was that "he didn't want to be confused as a second gunman."
This was not a "gun free zone."

Six people died and thirteen were injured.  The shooter was stopped and held by unarmed citizens ... not at the hands of an armed citizen.

In each of the above examples, the armed citizen was hailed by pro-gun forces as "heroes" even though it is clear that none of them made any bit of a difference in stopping the crimes they witnessed or tried to intervene in.  In some of these, the armed citizen understood, at the last moment, that they did not have the training necessary to engage.  

And that's the real point of this posting.  The vast majority of everyday citizens who get conceal carry licenses are simply not trained to engage shooters like this (such as this person).  They are not police, after all.  None of these people were trained in police tactics, legal intervention, negotiation skills, or live fire evaluations to make sure they can stay cool-headed during a shootout.  They could be mistaken for the shooters themselves.  And, as Wilcox discovered, they might insert themselves into a life-threatening situation without being fully prepared for the consequences.  Here in Oregon, to get a conceal carry license, you don't even need to fire a single shot or even hold a gun.  You can get the license online and take a very simple test, pay a fee, and get a background check, and it's yours.  There are some states, such as Arizona, which don't even require that.

Little wonder, then, that day in and day out, I see reports of conceal carry owners having accidents with their weapons in public places, like this one, shooting people for minor crimes like shoplifting, like this one, or even getting involved in a criminal incident and shooting the wrong guy, like this one.  And let's not forget that conceal carry owners have been convicted of their own homicidal shootings, like the hundreds of examples you can find HERE.

Tactical training experts understand that a conceal carry vigilante is not even close to comparable to trained law enforcement.  From an article:

Tactical officers typically receive training in “judgmental shooting,” which includes knowing when it’s prudent to hold their fire, and “blue-on-blue awareness,” which drills into them the importance of considering whether other cops are present, including officers who aren’t in uniform. They’re trained to overcome tunnel vision by looking not only at their target but also maintaining an awareness of who or what is behind it. 
“The notion that you have a seal of approval just because you’re not a criminal—that you walk into a gun store and you’re ready for game-day—is ridiculous,” says [former ATF agent] Chipman.

The NRA's gunslinger mentality is wrongheaded and dangerous.  The dangers of vigilante justice are real.  It's time they stopped feeding this fantasy into the minds of their followers.  

ADDENDUM (12/11/15):  HERE is an opinion piece, where a seasoned combat veteran, who has been in live firefights and been wounded, calls into question the myth that a typical citizen with a concealed handgun will be able to make correct judgement calls in the heat of the moment.

ADDENDUM (6/15/16): HERE is a great piece about the absurdity of the "good guy with a gun" myth, with input from a forensic scientist on the issue.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Message From Ceasefire Oregon Regarding The San Bernardino Massacre

Ceasefire Oregon and the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation are filled with sorrow by the rampage in San Bernardino today. Along with our sorrow, however, is outrage that legislators throughout the United States have allowed mass shootings to become commonplace in our country.

Current reports indicate that fourteen people were shot to death and seventeen people were injured. At this time, if you live in southern California, please do what you can to help the victims and their families. They will need blood donations, someone to help with their children, hot meals to eat, rides to the hospital, loving ears to listen to their cries and strong arms to comfort them.

Wherever you live, help the victims and their families by calling your legislators NOW to demand an end to this national nightmare. Find your legislator here.

We know what to expect: kneejerk requests for thoughts and prayers from impotent legislators who are owned by the gun lobby and dead silence from the National Rifle Association. But let them hear your voice this time. Let them know that you are demanding an end to gun violence and you will hold them accountable at the ballot box and when you stop donating to their campaigns and political parties.

Let’s be honest: if more guns meant less crime, America would be the safest nation on earth.

Tell your legislators that you demand an end to gun violence. Tell them:
  • Stop allowing the gun lobbies like the NRA to dictate our gun laws with their campaign donations.
  • Reinstate the assault weapons ban.
  • Implement much higher standards for gun ownership including firearm training, safe storage and no guns for violent misdemeanants.
  • Hold federally licensed firearms dealers accountable if they sell guns illegally.
  • Find more details at Ceasefire Oregon at http://www.ceasefireoregon.org/advocacy.

Think it’s too soon to call for change? For the victims who died in San Bernardino, it’s too late. But it's not for the rest of us. Take action now to stop the next mass shooting.

Oregon Firearms Federation Attempts To Slander A Legislator's Family And It Backfires

Screenpic from the OFF Facebook page.
The most outspoken "gun rights" organization in Oregon is the Oregon Firearms Federation, which bills itself as "Oregon's only no compromise gun rights organization" and considers the NRA to be too weak and compromising!  This is the same organization that is responsible for allowing concealed guns on university grounds and has, among other things, pushed to legislatively mandate that school kids get hands-on training with guns as young as kindergarten, allow felons to get their guns back, and trying to abolish background checks being performed by the state police.  The organization and its Executive Director, Kevin Starrett, have routinely harassed legislators and gun violence prevention advocates.

But they tried to push the personal harassment up a notch by posting on their Facebook page what they felt was a scandalous picture.  In what could only be called a juvenile attempt worthy of some schoolyard bully, they posted a photo of a relative of a legislator (Chuck Schumer), whom they oppose, in the hopes of embarrassing that legislator and his family.

See the screenpic to the right.   The caption that OFF posted (most likely by Starrett) with the picture reads:
I bring you... Amy Schumer. Foul mouthed, anti-gun militant and cousin to gun grabber Chucky Schumer. Of course, she is a vocal feminist and opposed to the degrading of women. But here she is in a tire calendar. Sorry I know it's hard on the eyes, but you cannot make this stuff up.

See their posting HERE before they take it down in shame.

Some OFF Supporters, cued by OFF's caption, responded in kind with even worse comments:

So, the Michelin Man(Schumer) finally put out a calendar? 
Soooo, she oposes degradation of women, and poses semi nude? Her hypocrisy knows no bounds. 
I wouldn't take her to a shit fight as a shield 
What a tramp 
I think she has a dam sexy body, I would love to try to FiretrUCK the liberal out of her. 
She looks like a spare tire... 
Skank hoe 
Jeez ...well there goes dinner. Some things you just can't unsee

My first thought upon seeing the image was one of skepticism.  It's the standard practice of OFF to distort the truth or outright lie to get their way.  Did they Photoshop her face on another picture?  Or is this a photo taken out of context?  So I did a reverse Google image search of the picture.  What it led to were a number of art and photography blogs celebrating the picture.  When I followed the links back to the original image, I was floored by what I found...

The image is indeed of Amy Schumer...  by renowned artistic photographer Annie Leibovitz!  You may know her best for her celebrity pictures, such as the ones of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken in 1980 that landed the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  HERE is a photo gallery of a sampling of other celebrity photos she has taken.  

The photo of Amy Schumer is one of a series taken for the 2016 Pirelli Tire Company Calendar.  According to CNN, the calendar focuses on female celebrities who are breaking down sexist barriers.  Other celebrities in the project include Serena Williams, Yoko Ono, and director Ava DuVernay.

Amy Schumer, by the way, is a well-known comedian, writer, actress, and producer.  Wikipedia states that "her father is second cousin to U.S. senator Chuck Schumer."

Here is a link to the official Pirelli Calendar homepage and behind-the-scenes video, which includes a quick statement by Schumer, saying, "I felt I looked more beautiful than I've ever looked in my life." -- http://pirellicalendar.pirelli.com/en/the-cal-2016/home

Wow.  So this isn't some "skank" pin-up photo, as implied by OFF... This is an honor and a statement on realistic feminine beauty taken by a renowned photographer!

The true meaning of the image seems totally lost to OFF, naturally, who can't seem to see past their own sexism and their hatred of a legislator who has supported commonsense gun reforms.

And the image is backfiring.  Quite a lot of OFF Facebook visitors are calling them out on their childish attempt at slander, particularly women.  Here are some of their comments on that posting:

When you degrade and insult her for her physical appearance you lose the credibility and integrity of your argument. Point out her hypocrisy or make a case against her views that oppose yours. Don't roll in the mud with everybody else who resorts to personal attacks 
Somebody didn't get the point of the photo. She posed for this to show people that you don't have to be "perfect" to be comfortable with who you are and how you look 
Wow, what a bunch of a-holes some of you are! Take on her politics not her appearance. Jerks! 
Quit posting childish bullshit like this if you want to keep getting my money. 
Wow. As a 5th generation Oregonian, commercial fisherman, country girl who loves her guns and everyone else's right to own them - you lost me here. To you "grown men" calling her fat and gross: let's see your abs. Fucking ridiculous. I'm out. 
She is a beautiful Mature Woman and you guys are ignorant of true beauty if you cant see that!!!! 
Apologize and remove or I will never support OFF again. Screen shot taken to shame you if this is not removed. 
Poor taste, OFF, you're better than this. 
I will no longer be supporting OFF. Shame on you. 
what a bunch of asses...i'm deleting this page now...no longer following..
 I know and have worked for a few businesses that promote OFF. I'm getting the feeling that a lot of fliers, stickers, and pamphlets are going to be coming off the counters today. 
I guess you could say that OFF really dropped their pants on this one.  Or rather, Amy Schumer did it for them!

Leave it to OFF to make a fool of themselves in their ever-present push to harass and intimidate those who want to protect our society from gun violence.  Just another reason to stop supporting them, and another reason for our legislators to turn their back on such a horrible organization.