Here we are again

Here we are again. Yet another mass shooting in America, this one setting a new record as the deadliest. This time the victims were primarily LGBT and primarily latinx. While geographically distant, it still hits too close to home.

What has changed since the first mass shooting I wrote about here–the murder of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown, CT–in 2012?

Other than a bunch of other shootings happening between then and now, well, nothing.

The same inaction in government. The same bullshit from the NRA and their brain-washed, gun-worshiping minions. The NRA, while spouting meaningless platitudes about their policy being “no guns for terrorists” continues to block any and all attempts to increase gun regulation, while stirring up fear in the masses and pushing the need for guns for self defense.

Despite the obviousness of the fact that having more guns per capita than any other country on Earth has not made us safer, they keep pushing for more and more guns, and people are eating it up.

In 2012, I eviscerated their ridiculous claim that more guns will make us safer and this all still holds true.

And gun nuts, without any evidence, repeatedly claim that gun control won’t work, that bad guys will still get guns and good guys will be defenseless. This claim isn’t based in reality:

Our neighbors to the north, Canada, have much tougher gun laws. According to the CBC, “It takes up to 60 days to obtain a firearm in this country, after registering, taking a course and going through background checks.” Oh, dear! By the NRA’s logic crime in Canada must be out of control! Is it? No. In fact, there were 598 homicides in the entire country in 2011! How about in the USA? According to the FBI that number was 14,612 last year! OK, to be fair let’s adjust for population differences.

Homicides per 100,000 population (2011):

Canada: 1.73

USA: 4.7

As of 2014 those numbers are down slightly:

Canada: 1.45

USA: 4.5

Would-be heroes are most likely deluding themselves. In 2009, ABC News did an experiment based on actual mass shooting in Illinois, testing the theory that an armed student in the lecture hall could have intervened and stopped the shooter. The theory didn’t fare well. Even the volunteer with the most gun experience was “killed” in the mock-shooting. It’s worth a watch here.

Was this a perfect experiment? No, but it should nonetheless be an eye opener for those who think that untrained civilians with guns have a high chance of successfully intervening against a bad guy with a gun. The blog post I linked above has some anecdotes of failed attempts along these lines, for example:

In February, 2005 David Hernandez Arroyo Sr. opened fire (with a MAK-90 semi-automatic rifle) at his ex-wife and child, outside a courthouse! And courthouses, as the NRA correctly pointed out, are already protected by armed security. A civilian, armed with a pistol, attempted to intervene and was shot and killed. Arroyo was able to escape from a gunfight with police, including a trained sniper, and take officers on a car chase before eventually being taken down.

Will something finally change? I wish I could say I thought so. But I’m very skeptical. However, we’re seeing more movement than before. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) led a 15 hour filibuster on the Senate floor yesterday, with support from many of his Democratic colleagues:

Senate Democrats ended a nearly 15-hour filibuster early Thursday after Republican Party leaders reportedly agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said that a compromise had been reached. Votes would be held on whether to ban people on the government’s terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses and whether to expand background checks to gun shows and internet sales, he added.

It’s a sad commentary on the state of our legislative branch that a 15 hour filibuster was needed just to get the point of permitting a vote on legislation.

If passed, will these measures be perfect? Will they fix everything? No, and no. The problem is so large, deeply-ingrained and multifaceted, it will be take a great deal of time and effort to really make a serious dent, but we have to start somewhere.

I won’t hold my breath, but I will keep my fingers crossed.

 

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Reblog: Ryan T. Anderson’s salad of rotten apples and oranges

Ryan T. Anderson is ALL ABOUT the anti-LGBT laws in Mississippi, North Carolina and Missouri, and he has the sads that businesses and major artists are not so enamored with them.

At The Slowly Boiled Frog, Mr.David Cary Hart takes on one Ryan’s recent screeds.

Anderson tries to redefine the controversy. The Mississippi law is anything but narrowly applicable. And those public restrooms in North Carolina include those in public schools (which was the point of the Charlotte ordinance). Also, Mr. Anderson conveniently ignores the fact that the state nullified numerous municipal nondiscrimination ordinances in North Carolina’s largest urban areas. Thus “at issue” are laws that officially make LGBT people second-class citizens. It is a new flavor of Jim Crow.

Check out the full post here: Ryan T. Anderson’s salad of rotten apples and oranges

How Not to Cover Mass Murder

I’m sure by now everyone, even my international followers (hi, guys!) have heard about the horrific mass shooting earlier this week at a South Carolina church. You may even know the name of the shooter. But how many victims can you name? Any at all?

It’s a sad truth that we remember the names of mass murderers, but rarely the names of their victims. This is, in part, a numbers game; by definition, there will always be more victims of mass murderers than there are mass murderers, so that’s fewer names to memorize. But the media also plays a significant part in this. They put orders of magnitude more emphasis on the killers than the victims. And it turns out this may be more than a sad injustice, it may be dangerous.

The video below is from Charlie Brooker–who Wikipedia calls an “English satirist and broadcaster”–while working for the BBC, in response to a mass shooting in Ireland. It was a complaint and a plea about how the media covers these events. Give it a watch (it’s only 2:48) and then join me below. (h/t to someecards, where I first saw this)
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Cleaning House

Sweeping broomIf you’re like me, you can hardly keep up with the deluge of reports of apparent police misconduct, often with fatal results.

The biggest case in the news right now is of course, that of Freddie Gray. Just today, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against 6 officers involved in the Gray incident. Those charges included false imprisonment, because her investigation concluded there was no justification for the arrest in the first place!

Recently a judge in Cook County, Illinois dismissed a case against a Chicago police detective who–while off duty–fired into a small crowd of people and killed an innocent bystander, Rekia Boyd. Of course the cop claimed that someone in the crowd had a gun…but no gun or evidence of a gun was found, and the intended target (who was injured but not killed) had a cell phone in his hand. Interestingly, the judge who tossed the case implied that the officer should have been charged with murder, a more serious crime than that he had been charged with.

Not long ago, most of us probably saw the incredibly disturbing video of North Charleston police officer Slager shooting a fleeing, unarmed Walter Scott in the back several times, then planting his taser next to the body.

I think what we are seeing is the inevitable result of the complete abdication of responsibility of police to police their own. I still believe many if not most police officers are basically good people. But as John Stuart Mill wrote, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” We have seen that police will not keep their own house in order. In fact, those who try may find themselves punished instead of the bad guys! That leaves us–the rest of Society–no choice but to clean their house for them. The time has more than come.

The Fresh Face of Bigotry: A Kinder, Gentler Hate

We have all seen the signs carried by the fire-breathing homophobes of the Westboro Baptist “Church”, who famously declared “God Hates Fags”, which goes against pretty much all Christian teaching. Fortunately, this tactic convinced almost nobody, and made people hate the WBC more than anything else.

Unfortunately, more savvy bigots have caught on to the fact that such tactics don’t win people over to their side. Enter a new breed of bigots, who smile and speak softly while they “politely” try to keep as much discrimination in place against LGBT folks as they can.

The poster boy of this movement is one Ryan T. Anderson. Ryan, allegedly an intellectual (he works for an “Institute” and is associated with right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation), is 32 and never married, and professes to be an expert on marriage. He has even coauthored a book about it!

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Tax Day

Sing it with me:

I am proud to be an American, where it takes me a full day to do my taxes, but at least I know I’m free to marry who I want–in a handful of states!

Speaking of marriage and taxes, it is actually a bit of a blessing at tax time to not be married, as married couples tend to pay more in tax than non-married couples. Some friends who are married in NY had to do a fake federal return as if they were married. Fake, because the federal government doesn’t recognize their marriage. And they had to do it because most states tax forms are dependent on the federal form. Anyway, had they been married their tax burden would have been $6000 higher! Talk about a marriage penalty!

So I’m not in any rush to get a ring on my finger, but I still believe I should have that right, and the ability to choose for myself if the tax penalty is worth it.

Anyway, hope all my fellow Yanks got their taxes done on time. I still have to go mail a couple of mine in (two states–I had to complete 3!). The good news is, thanks to my long period of being unemployed last year, I’m getting a lot back. Might be good to use for a vacation!

Happy Tax Day!