Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gun talk for troubled times

by digby

I wrote about yesterday's mass shootings for Salon this morning:

On Wednesday we had two mass shootings, one on each coast. A gunman opened fire with an automatic rifle on a group of Republican lawmakers who were practicing for a baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, injuring six people. The shooter was shot and killed by Capitol Police. Later the same day in San Francisco, an angry employee went into a UPS facility and opened fire, killing three co-workers and himself.

I had wondered about the lack of high-profile mass shooting events recently and had thought that maybe the recent spate of killing had peaked at this time last year with the horrifying Orlando terrorist attack and the targeting of police in Dallas. But the truth is that they have been happening all along. We just stopped paying attention.

Mother Jones gathers data on mass shootings and has pretty strict criteria for inclusion: The shooting must happen in a public place and result in three or more deaths. This leaves out many incidents in which people are only injured, such as the shooting of 10 people in Philadelphia last month, or those that take place on on private property, such as the recent killing of eight people in Mississippi during a domestic violence shooting spree. (The Gun Violence Archive collects incidents that involve the shooting of two or more victims. It is voluminous.)

According to the Mother Jones criteria, yesterday’s Virginia shooting doesn’t even count since it didn’t meet the death threshold. The San Francisco UPS shooting does, bring the total of such mass shootings to six so far this year.

Let’s recap, in reverse chronological order: On June 7, a 24-year-old grocery worker in Pennsylvania fatally shot three co-workers with a shotgun, then turned the gun on himself. On June 5, a 45-year-old man in Orlando, Florida, fatally shot five of his former co-workers, and then killed himself. On May 12, a 43-year-old man in rural Ohio killed two employees in a nursing home, shot and killed the chief of police who responded to the scene and then shot himself. On April 18, a 39-year-old man opened fire on a downtown street in Fresno, California, killing three people at random. On Jan. 6, a 26-year-old man fired into the baggage claim area at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport, killing five people and wounding six more.

Meanwhile, 93 people on average are shot and killed every day in America, many of them in incidents involving multiple victims. More than 100,000 people are struck by bullets every year. President Donald Trump was right to speak about “carnage” in America in his inaugural address. He just didn’t acknowledge that the carnage is from gun violence. According to the gun safety website The Trace:
Using data from the the World Health Organization, researchers found that America accounted for 82 percent of all firearm deaths among 23 comparable nations in 2010. Ninety percent of women killed by guns in the study were in the U.S., as were 91 percent of children under 15.
Wednesday’s shooting in Alexandria was particularly troubling because it appears to have been politically motivated. The accused shooter was an active left-winger who apparently had come to the conclusion that the Republicans had to be “destroyed” and he targeted GOP officials. We don’t know the whole story yet, but he had previously been charged with domestic violence and shooting his guns in a residential area.

We are in a volatile period in this country and people’s emotions are running high. But if politics is war by other means, those other means must not include deadly violence. With all the anti-government rhetoric out there and easy access to firearms, it was probably inevitable that some violent man would decide to make a statement, punish his perceived political enemies and go out in a blaze of glory. We certainly make that easy with lax gun laws and our illogical insistence that military-style semiautomatic weapons are constitutionally protected.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the Republican congressman who was shot and badly injured on Wednesday, is a high-profile gun-proliferation proponent. Luckily, he was accompanied by the security detail that goes along with his office because it did the best one could hope for to prevent a massacre. Still, five people were shot, including one of the U.S. Capitol Police officers. Unless we all hire trained security for protection, the rest of us will not be that lucky in a similar situation. Had any of the Republican officials at that game been armed, as the president usually insists is the answer to this problem, the outcome would have probably been even worse.

Some Republicans who were there feel the fear that others have felt in these situations:

According to The New York Times, Republicans are responding to that fear with their usual call for even more guns. That’s not surprising. If a madman shooting up a first-grade classroom full of small children didn’t make them reassess their approach to this issue, it’s unlikely anything will.

It doesn’t change the fact that there are ways to address this problem. In the wake of a horrific mass shooting in 1996, Australia banned semiautomatic weapons and required everyone to sell those they already owned to the government. There have been no mass shootings in the country since then. This simply required the political will to tackle the problem in the most practical way. There are still privately owned guns in Australia and sometimes they are still used to kill people. But the body count has gone way, way down since Australia got rid of weapons whose only purpose is to kill and injure many people in a short period of time.

On the occasion of yet another workplace shooting in 2015, I wrote about the story of Dr. John Snow one of the first epidemiologists back in the 1850s who observed through careful data collection and observation that the source of a disease in a given area was the common well from which everyone was pumping out their drinking water. It was many years before science discovered the bacteriological basis for cholera and found treatments for it. But Snow’s central insight — to shut down the pump — saved many lives: The same solution is to be found with the epidemic of gun violence in America. Of course a ban on semiautomatic weapons would not prevent all murders or address the human propensity for violence. But we would greatly lower the death toll.