Why the Shooting of Steve Scalise Says We Need Stricter Gun Control

The tragic mass shooting of Republican members of Congress does indicate the need for stricter control of guns, particularly guns like those so typically used in these attacks. Several pundits and a GOP candidate for office have trotted out the tenet that more armed citizenry would prevent events like his. One Republican House member even said he would carry a gun in his pocket from that day forward. Hogwash.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise had armed security guards with him at the baseball diamond. And not just any security guards…but well trained Capitol Police…who did in fact save a lot of lives that day…but still couldn’t immediately stop the gunman from injuring a number of people. There is no way a well meaning citizen with a gun could have been more effective. As I’ve said here a number of times…none of us are going to be John Wayne or Dirty Harry in these instances…we may well wreak more havoc that we prevent. As we have often witnessed, well trained qualified law enforcement officers have a hard enough time.

And for just a minute, let’s have this sink in. The guns used by this murderer were legally purchased. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since he was a older white man from middle America. The last person in the world anyone on the right side of the aisle on Capitol Hill would fear owning a gun. But truthfully, does any American really need that kind of fire power…even to hunt?

I don’t think that there will be any changes on gun ownership coming out of this. The NRA just has too much sway with the electeds in Washington…even though those electeds became the targets. But it is time that the nation start a rational discussion on preventing future mass murders in America. We’ve long ago reached the point where the carnage was past unacceptable.

P.S. Thank goodness all of the victims have excellent health insurance…most of them government provided health insurance.

Now, About That Gun

On August 13th, after a short foot chase, a young Milwaukee resident turned to face a Milwaukee police officer. The police officer said the suspect was holding a hand gun. The officer shot and killed the suspect. A hand gun was recovered at the scene. This recovered weapon was reportedly stolen from a home in Genesee in Waukesha County.

The Milwaukee Police Department described the weapon as a semi-automatic hand gun and was loaded with 23 rounds.

A semi-automatic hand gun with 23 rounds. I haven’t seen any more recent descriptions of the gun so I don’t know what make or model it is or whether 23 rounds is its maximum or just what it contained when recovered.

But what does a young man in Milwaukee need with a hand gun that holds 23 rounds? What does a home owner in Waukesha County need with a gun that holds 23 rounds. What do you or I need with a gun that holds 23 rounds.

The West was won with six shooters.

Dirty Harry cleaned up San Francisco with six shots…or in all of the confusion was it only five?

Even the United States Army…a place where maximum fire power is imperative…issues Baretta M9 pistols holding 15 rounds.

So why do we allow guns with such large capacities on our streets and in our homes? I would suggest limiting hand guns to 6 or 8 or 10 rounds…limit magazines to those numbers…and just plain get rid of everything else.

Yes, yes, that is an awful idea…I mean there is the 2nd Amendment and all…but I can’t own a rocket propelled grenade, a howitzer, or a nuclear weapon…so there are limits to the 2nd Amendment…I am just suggesting we move the line a bit.

Anyone know why it’s the 2nd Amendment and not the first?? Is freedom of speech and religion more important? And without looking what’s the 3rd? I will admit I had to look it up.

Gun Death Suicides In Large Cities By Ideology

OK…I ‘pulled the trigger’ too soon on the Crowpac graphics. The slide show is worth working through…but this one is a bit scary for the locals…Look over to the right:

waukesha co gunsuicide

Or this one…
WI Gunsuicide

While this data adds further complexity to the debate on guns, it should also shape the debate over mental health in America. And no matter where you stand on these issues, there’s one thing we should all agree on – policy issues are always more complex than they appear on the surface.

Gun Deaths by State Ideology

This was published by Crowpac back in January but I hadn’t seen it before today. Posted without additional comment:

This is the original chart we published detailing gun deaths per capita. Information on gun-related deaths (which encompasses homicides, suicides and accidental deaths resulting from a firearm discharge) is sourced from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. State ideology scores are based on the political donations of each state’s residents, calculated by Crowdpac’s algorithm which analyzes over 100 million campaign contribution records.

gun deaths chart

I’m not afraid of black kids with guns. I’m afraid of white Rambo wannabes with guns.

Or, an open letter to Rep. Bob Gannon

Dear Jerkface,

IScreen Shot 2015-12-21 at 1.49.03 PMn an eerie bit of coincidence, I was at a mall here in the Milwaukee area last Saturday at the same time when, at East Towne Mall in Madison, there was a shooting. In the same way, I was teaching high school in 1999 when Klebold and Harris shot up Columbine High School in Colorado, in the same way I was sitting in an airport in 2006 at the same moment British officials broke up the trans-Atlantic terror plot and forever consigned us to carrying shampoo in 3-oz. bottles. (Note to self: stop going places.)

What I mean is, I don’t walk into my opinion on this randomly; I have given some thought and have some experience to back up what I am about to say, which is this:

Shut up. Just shut your stupid, idiotic, racist pie hole. Staple it closed if you have to, but just. Shut. Up.

Because this is you:

“Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scum bags,” Rep. Bob Gannon, R-Slinger, said in a statement on Monday. “Criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our prisons, so it’s time that the citizens of this fine state stand up and fight back.”

Gannon said a “gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law abiding CCW holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass, as this is how you’re trained to eliminate the threat these creeps pose to you, your family, and all law abiding citizens unwillingly dragged into their public crime spree.”

Look, Rep. Gannon, I don’t know who you’re trying to impress here, but I certainly expect that sitting in your exurban Slinger house-farm home there on Big Cedar Lake, among your WASPy neighbors, you feel like a big man. In your mind, you’ve tied on the headband and you’re ready to be the big defender of freedom, liberty, and white folks everywhere.

And along those lines, why don’t you just go ahead and break out the n-word? “Gang-bangers, thugs, and scum” is so cumbersome, and we all know what you’re thinking. Just go ahead and say it.

But here’s where I’m going with this. If there are any white people out there likely to face a situation where some “gang-banger” pulls a gun on them, it’s not you. It’s not randos at a mall. It’s people like this blog’s proprietor Zach whose job puts his safety on the line every day, and he thinks you’re insane.

Or it’s me, since I go to work every day not in quite the same dangerous situations that Zach does, but to teach a bunch of black and brown teenagers, most of which I’m guessing if you saw them being loud and having fun at the mall, you would probably say are “gang-bangers, thugs, and scum” and you’d wish you had your gun there with you in case something went down.

simpson-gifAs I wrote in that Columbine post linked above, these kids don’t scare me. Even the ones who walk into my class after having been absent for three months straight and tell me they were in jail for battery or assault or whatever, they don’t scare me. When I see them at the mall, as I sometimes do, even the ones who are already felons, they don’t scare me. Despite what you may think and despite what Donald Trump may tweet, you and I and the white folks you pander to are not likely to be shot at by black or brown people we don’t know.

Because here’s the thing, Rep. Gannon: If some kid at my school, or in the mall, has a beef with some other kid–as is apparently true in the shooting that happened last Saturday–any violence will be constrained to that beef.

Does it mean that there are never innocent bystanders hurt? Of course not–that happens too often and it’s one of the reasons why I fight not to have more guns on the street but fewer: how many more Sierra Guitons would there have been if bystanders started shooting, too? How many more funerals would my fellow MPS teachers and I have to go to if the vigilante society you want comes true? Because we go to too many already (and never see you there, by the way).

Your vision of the world is different, though, informed not by reality but by your membership in the gun-makers lobbying group the National Rifle Association and its influence-peddling PAC spending on your fellow GOPers. You buy the line that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, that an armed society is a polite society, that–as you put it to the WSJ–the gang-banger is going to “think twice” if he’s worried someone else with a gun is standing behind him lining up his center mass for a kill shot.

That line, to put it politely, is bullshit.

For one, there are almost never instances when someone without law-enforcement or military training has stopped a mass shooting. Indeed, concealed carry permit holders are much more likely to commit such shootings. The fact is, the profile of your average, median mass shooter in this country is someone who looks like you, Rep. Gannon, not someone who looks like my students. Suburban white kids with rage issues shoot up schools and murder their teachers, not my students.

And in the kind of incident that happened Saturday at East Towne Mall, when apparently two groups of teenagers were beefing, the gun came out even though the perpetrator may well have thought his victim himself was armed. (I have often said that homicide stats from places like Chicago or Milwaukee, where armed men and teenagers shoot and kill other armed men and teenagers, disproves the idea that more guns would reduce the amount of crime and violence.)

The last thing that needed to happen in a situation like Saturday’s is for some pasty-faced Rambo wannabe to start shooting. No one else was targeted by Saturday’s shooter than the one who got shot. But imagine the chaos when that shooter whips around and starts shooting back at Rambo: how many innocents get hit when the number of bullets flying escalates exponentially?

Worst of all, there’s people like you, the ones who think it’s their job to make sure that gun manufacturers keep profiting with no regulation, even though their products kill more people, now, than cars do, even though thousands of children are killed by guns every year, even though gun violence collectively costs American and Wisconsin tax payers hundreds of billions a year. And, when violence does happen, when we should be mourning the dead and plotting how to stop the spread of such violence, your first thoughts are bizarre revenge fantasies and deadly vigilante scenarios–let’s kill all those n-words, you say, maybe not out loud, but that’s sure what it sounds like when you translate the code words from your statements.

So shut up, Rep. Gannon. You don’t have the moral high ground, you don’t have the facts, and you sure as hell don’t have an ounce of real compassion for the people whose lives are actually touched by gun violence. What you do have is the profile of someone much more likely to be a killer than to be killed, and a track record of trying to multiply the number of guns around us any and everywhere. You scare me. You, sir, are the problem, not the answer.

Note: Until the end of the year, I am giving away this song I wrote last summer after the on-camera deaths of a reporter and her cameraman. Pay nothing, or pay something–all proceeds will be donated to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.