Posts Tagged ‘Gun control’

Perth woman survives US shooting

Recovering: Amy Matthews. Picture: Facebook

As a father whose daughter just trailed round the world doing the gap year thing, this story made my blood run cold.

As the West Australian reports, a 21-year-old University of WA graduate from Mt Hawthorn has survived being shot in the face during a New Orleans shooting on Sunday. Amy Matthews was celebrating the end of her studies with her best friend from Stirling when she was caught in the middle of a firefight that injured 10 bystanders. After completing a bachelor of arts in March with majors in political science and economics, Ms Matthews and a friend had flown to the US for a gap-year holiday. They had made their way down the east coast from New York City to Nashville, Tennessee, where they hired a car and drove to New Orleans. Warning: Graphic Content Footage of the shooting

It was their third night in the historic French Quarter of the city and by 2.45am, it had stretched into their fourth morning. They were walking to the next neon-lit bar on Bourbon Street, barely halfway through their US road trip, when the crack of gunshots sent people running for their lives.

At some point in the chaos a partial or whole bullet entered Ms Matthews’ mouth through her right cheek and exited through her top lip, causing extensive injuries to her gums, teeth and palate.

At the time, she assumed a flailing hand had struck her in the face but when she stopped running, she realised her mouth was full of blood and teeth.

Speaking from her hospital bed at Interim LSU Hospital, Ms Matthews told  The West Australian that she felt lucky to be alive. “I have about 10 teeth left,” she said. “It shattered the top of my palate in four places and ripped my tongue in several places. “Because the bullet was so hot, it just ripped through my teeth and burnt a lot of my gums. They had to remove a lot of dead gum.

“I think I’m very lucky because I wasn’t the only person who got shot that night. There were two people who were critical and they think one of them is going to die. I can replace my teeth and my mouth will heal but if it had have been a few centimetres towards my brain or my jugular, who knows?”

The young male suspects in the shooting fled the scene, leaving two people fighting for their lives on a panic-stricken street.

Sitting together on the pavement, their dream holiday now a nightmare, the desperate Perth women found help from an unexpected source.

Two US marines kept Ms Matthews relatively calm for the 20 minutes until paramedics drove her to hospital. “One of the marines took his shirt off and used it for my mouth,” Ms Matthews said. “I was trying not to freak out too much and the marines were trained in that so they were keeping my mind off those thoughts. “They were making jokes and telling me how I was handling it better than most of their marine friends would have. They definitely helped.”

Over several hours in the emergency department, Ms Matthews had about 30 stitches put in her tongue and a metal support fixed to the roof of her mouth.

She has since had a visit from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and her mother Amanda has flown in from Perth to be by her side.

Ms Matthews lives with her parents in Mt Hawthorn and she hopes to fly home this weekend.

“I have to be on a liquid diet for six weeks until I get implants in my teeth,” she said. “Until the bone and the gum heal, they can’t do anything aesthetically about my mouth, so I’ll have no teeth for about six to eight weeks.”

Sunday’s shooting was the third major shooting in Bourbon Street in the past three years.

Gun Culture of the USA

Amy in happier times. We wish her a full and speedy recovery.

Amy in happier times. We wish her a full and speedy recovery.

Ironically, Ms Matthews wrote a thesis paper at UWA examining gun use in the US. But she said her traumatic experience would not stop her returning to the country.

“Because of last year and all the little kids who were shot, I thought something would definitely be done but it just shows you how embedded the whole gun culture is in the US,” she said.

“This won’t deter me from coming back but it makes me angry that the Government can’t be strong enough to say, ‘No, something needs to be done’.”

We can only agree, and wish Ms Matthews well. A very brave – and lucky – young lady.

Perhaps authorities could at least make it illegal to carry guns in places that serve alcohol, at least? This was the third such gun battle in Bourbon Street in recent times.

There was 2011 – when a 25-year-old was killed in a Bourbon Street shooting-spree that injured eight on Halloween night, including a tourist from France. Or the 2013 Mother’s Day Shooting, whose grainy video mirrors video captured Sunday morning: a celebrating crowd breaking up, sprinting away from the sudden shock of gunfire that left 20 injured. New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas described the shooting in a Sunday press conference as the act of “two cowardly young men trying to hurt one another,” who settled a dispute with “no regard to others.”

That disregard of others has marked a spate of New Orleans crimes, when passersby have been caught in the crossfire. Goyeneche, of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, cited a number of New Orleans incidents when young children were hit by stray bullets.

The shooters “get so caught up in their mission, which is to retaliate and send a message,” Goyeneche said. “That they don’t care who gets in the way.” Or maybe they actually seek to get others caught in the crossfire to amplify the effect. The disregard of human life, as a message, is a strategy used by terrorists, said criminologist John Penny, of Southern University at New Orleans. “That’s a terrifying and a terrorizing message.”

As we keep saying, only a “war on guns” will reduce the number circulating in the America community, and in a community where 200,000 guns a year enter the illegal marketplace stolen from law abiding homes.

To pretend, as some do, that nothing can be done about this problem, or that any restriction on gun ownership is an assault on Second Amendment rights,  is simply not good enough. Just ask Amy.

A sign near Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

We are on record as saying that we think there are far too many guns in circulation in America, and that the very prevalence of them both encourages and creates the appalling gun death and injury statistics that the country endures on a daily basis.

To us, the logical conclusion of the pro-gun National Rifle Associations’s position is very simple: it is that every American should carry a firearm, in almost every conceivable situation.

And to us, that’s as sensible as arguing that every state in the world should have nuclear weapons, on the basis that Mutual Assured Destruction appears to have kept the USA and Russia from going to war. (Which is an arguable issue in itself, but one for another day.)

Or to put it another way, in our opinion, “The right to bear arms is about as sensible as the right to arm bears.”

But we do welcome those on all sides of the debate who believe it should be conducted with civility, with deep thought, and with respect.

Which is why we find this article so encouraging. It questions the current pro-gun environment in America, but in a gentle, thoughtful way, and from the perspective of a pro-gun individual.

We recommend it. Do yourself a favour, and click the link.

Joseph Wilcox, with his mother, who died attempt to stop Jared Miller in the recent shooting in the USA. He was shot in the back by Amanda Miller. A hero? Very possibly. But what is also certain is that he is dead.

Joseph Wilcox, with his mother, who died attempt to stop Jared Miller in the recent shooting in the USA. He was shot in the back by Amanda Miller. A hero? Very possibly. But what is also certain is that he is dead.

http://gawker.com/its-really-hard-to-be-a-good-guy-with-a-gun-1588660306

There. aren’t you glad you did?

Whatever the solution to the situation with guns in America, one thing that should enrage us all is that facts so rarely seem to get produced in the debate.

And whatever the solution might be, the facts in the infographic below need dealing with.

Urgently.

gun related deaths

Why care? Why care about what happens in Georgia or Illinois or California from our neat suburban homes in Australia? Why get involved? Why stick our noses in, uninvited?

Well that’d be because we have many great friends in America, many of whom have had a close shave with gun-related violence.

And because national borders should not stop us from providing advice to friends. Especially when the price of the situation not being dealt with is the same ghastly roll call of dead innocents, and so many of them innocent women and children gunned down in family violence, or in what seems to be the uniquely bizarre and tragic “school shootings” that plague the country. Should we care less about a kid shot down in Sandy Hook that we would if it were down the road from us in Australia, France, Russia, Britain, Korea, Japan or anywhere else? No, we should not. A kid is a kid.

JohnDonneAs John Donne wrote in 1624:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Two quite different stories making news today reveal how the descent of political debate into hatred and abusive propaganda can have an awful effect on innocent lives.

At the Wellthisiswhatithink desk we are often in discussion with friends, colleagues and commentators who essentially believe in unfettered free speech. We often hear an argument which runs something like this: “The correct response to this nonsense is ridicule: given the oxygen of publicity, these people condemn themselves out of their own mouths. It is more important to preserve the liberty of all at the price of allowing nutters to say what they like, rather than curtail freedom of speech.” This argument is advanced regularly by the right in America, but is by no means limited to there. It occurs in all corners of the blogosphere, it is evidenced by recent moves by the Australian Government, just as one example, and it is a favoured line by libertarians worldwide.

Disgusting "humour" like this is freely available all over the internet. Should concepts of "free speech" protect those who produce it from sanction? In our opinion: No.

Disgusting “humour” like this is freely available all over the internet. Should concepts of “free speech” protect those who produce it from sanction? In our opinion: No.

We respect the passion of those who advance this argument against, for example, anti race-hate legislation, but over many years we have come, reluctantly, to disagree with it.

Yes, we recognise that the “elephant in the room” is “Where do you draw the line once you start to censor free speech?” but we nevertheless also believe that a line must be drawn.

And the reason for that line being drawn is the encouragement given to those who would take extreme ideals and translate them into real-world violence, whether because they take the comments to their logical conclusion, seeing no moral distinction between holding a violent thought and acting on it, or merely because they are mentally unhinged.

We see no desperate need to be able to advocate ridicule and violence that justifies the fact that it leads, as night follows day, to real injury and death for innocent people.

For example, in recent days we have seen yet another shooting perpetrated by members of the far-right in America.

A day before going on a shooting rampage that left two Las Vegas police officers and a bystander dead, Jerad Miller, one of the killers, posted this on Facebook:

“The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it.”

Amanda Miller created and posted this Bitstrip comic to her Facebook six months ago.

Amanda Miller created and posted this Bitstrip comic to her Facebook six months ago.

Witnesses reportedly said Miller, 31, and his wife, Amanda, shouted, “This is a revolution” and “We’re freedom fighters” when they ambushed the officers who were on their lunch break at a pizza restaurant.

If their social media accounts are any indication, rants about attacks and disgust with authority were a common thread in their lives.

“To the people in the world…your lucky i can’t kill you now but remember one day one day i will get you because one day all hell will break lose and i’ll be standing in the middle of it with a shot gun in one hand and a pistol in the other,” Amanda Miller posted on Facebook on May 23, 2011.

 After killing Police Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, who were having lunch having clocked off, and taking their weapons, police said the Millers fled across the street to a Walmart store, where they shot and killed customer Joseph Wilcox, 31, who apparently confronted the shooters with his own weapon, before apparently taking their own lives in a suicide pact.

SurvivalistThe couple, who married in September 2012, moved from Lafayette, Indiana, to Las Vegas, Nevada, in January of this year. Photos on 22-year-old Amanda Miller’s Facebook page shows the couple celebrating Christmas with family two weeks before departing for Nevada. In one photo, she poses with copies of the “Shooter’s Bible” and “Extreme Survival.” “My new books that my Grandma Paula got me!” she wrote on Facebook. The merging of influences between the “survivalist” community, gun aficionados and extreme militia-style groups, laced with racist and white supremacist groups, is a key concern for both community organisations and law enforcement in America.

It is not the lawful promotion of legal activities or legitimate opinion that causes concern, rather it is the ability of those on the fringe of those movements to hijack the genre and spread concepts of ‘legitimate’ violence to the soft-minded.

According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Jerad Miller had a long history of arrests and convictions for drug offences while in Indiana.

In a July 8, 2013, video he posted to YouTube, he vents about the government making a profit from an ankle monitor he has to pay for and wear while under house arrest. He also rants about the local courthouse and questions why citizens need permits.

“You have to go down to that big stone structure, monument to tyranny, and submit, crawling, groveling on your hands and knees,” he says on the video. “Sounds a little like Nazi Germany to me or maybe communist Russia.”

On Monday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a neighbour said the Millers might have been planning a larger attack on an unidentified court building. According to the story, the couple’s next-door neighbour and friend was holding documents for the couple that included detailed plans to take over a courthouse and execute public officials. Other reports link the couple of the recent Cliven Bundy ranch saga when armed militia lined up against government officials to protect the ranchowner’s right to continue to illegally graze his cattle on public land, although hard evidence has yet to be produced that they were there. UPDATE 12 June, video has now emerged of Jared Miller speaking at the Bundy ranch, from which he and his wife were asked to leave because of their extreme views.

JokerJared Miller used the handle “USATruePatriot” on another YouTube account where video titles included “second amendment logic,” “Would George Washington use an AK?,” and “Police confiscate guns and threatened to kill me.”

In two videos, he stands in front of an American flag dressed as the Joker and rambles about what it would be like to be president of the United States.

“A new world order under the Joker,” he shouts while belting out an evil laugh.

Jerad Miller’s profile picture on Facebook is of two knives behind a mask and the word “PATRIOT” in stars and stripes. Much of his social activity was centered on Second Amendment gun laws, government spying and drug laws. Six days before Sunday’s rampage, he posted on Facebook that, “to stop this oppression, I fear, can only be accomplished with bloodshed.”

“We can hope for peace. We must, however, prepare for war. We face an enemy that is not only well funded, but who believe they fight for freedom and justice. … We, cannot with good conscience leave this fight to our children, because the longer we wait, our enemies become better equipped and recruit more mercenaries of death, willing to do a tyrants bidding without question. I know you are fearful, as am I. We certainly stand before a great and powerful enemy. I, however would rather die fighting for freedom, than live on my knees as a slave.”

Investigators with the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center aid the Millers’ web writings were typical of right-wing, militia-type thinking. But the SPLC’s intelligence files don’t show the couple to be members of an organized group.

“It’s just the two of them doing this crazy thing that the two of them decided to do,” the director of the SPLC’s intelligence project commented.

The ADL says in the past five years, there have been 43 separate incidences of violence between domestic extremists and U.S. law enforcement. All but four of the attacks were perpetrated by right-wing extremists, according to the ADL.

“The two police officers who lost their lives are only the latest in a series of casualties in a de facto war being waged against police by right-wing extremists, including both anti-government extremists and white supremacists,” Mark Pitcavage, ADL director of investigative research, said in a written statement. “Some extremists have deliberately targeted police, while others have responded violently when meeting police in unplanned encounters. The killings are not the effort of a concerted campaign, but rather a series of independent attacks and clashes stemming from right-wing ideologies.”

It is the propagation of these ludicrously extreme ideologies – of left and right, which is where strands of political thinking actually merge, in our opinion – that needs to be carefully examined. The capacity for unhinged individuals to create mayhem is simply too obvious to allow their mental furies to be whipped up. Indeed, anti-terrorism experts now say that the ability of propaganda materials to provoke murderous behaviour by previously unobserved and not-formally-aligned individuals is actually their biggest headache. As “spectacular” attacks on a more alert West have declined, so the capacity to use words to enrage and empower lunatics becomes a more ever-present threat. One madman with a “dirty” low-blast nuclear weapon (which apparently is not that difficult to create if you can access the right materials) could take out the population of a small city. Anywhere.

pakistan attackMeanwhile, the other end of the scale was also on tragic display. Thirty people – ten of them insurgents – were killed as Pakistan’s military fought an all-night battle Monday with Taliban gunmen who besieged Karachi airport.

The assault has left Pakistan’s nascent peace process with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in tatters and officials in the northwest reported that some 25,000 people had fled a restive tribal district in the past 48 hours, fearing a long-awaited ground offensive.

The assault on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport was just the latest spectacular offensive to be launched by the TTP in an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since 2007.

Authorities were checking reports that seven airport workers were trapped in cold-storage facilities after apparently shutting themselves inside to escape the carnage.

“We are looking into this and according to the families some seven people were trapped inside the cold storage and were in contact with the families on cell phone,” said Abid Qaimkhani, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority.

bodiesThe attack began just before midnight Sunday. Some of the gunmen were dressed in army uniform, as authorities put their mangled bodies, assault rifles, grenades and rocket launchers on show for the press. At least three detonated their suicide vests, witnesses said, and one severed head formed part of the grisly display.

“The main objective of the terrorists was to destroy the aircraft on the ground but there was only minor damage to two to three aircraft,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference at the airport late Monday. “Pakistan’s national assets are safe and secure.”

The administration in Washington condemned the attack and offered to assist with the investigation. UN chief Ban Ki-moon also condemned the airport siege and a separate attack in the southwest targeting Shiite Muslims which a local official said killed at least 24 pilgrims.

Ban was “deeply concerned by this upsurge of violence across Pakistan” and urged the government to increase its efforts to address terrorism and religious extremism, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

The bodies of the 18 victims – including 11 airport security guards and four workers from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) – were taken to a Karachi hospital where another 26 wounded people were being treated, a hospital official said.

The charred remains of two cargo terminal employees were later recovered on Monday night, to bring the total dead to 30, Qaimkhani said.

PIA spokesman Mashud Tajwar said no airline passengers were caught up in the incident.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office issued a statement “commending the bravery” of security forces and saying normal flight operations would resume in the afternoon, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai – who is battling his own Taliban insurgency – condemned the attack in a statement.

The attack took place just three kilometres (two miles) from the Mehran naval base, which the Taliban laid siege to three years ago, destroying two US-made Orion aircraft and killing 10 personnel in a 17-hour operation.

The group also carried out a raid on Pakistan’s military headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009, leaving 23 dead including 11 troops and three hostages.

Latest revenge

The TTP said the brazen attack on the airport was its latest revenge for the killing of its leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike in November. TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the government had used peace talks as a ruse, and promised more attacks to come in retaliation against recent air strikes in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Talks to end the TTP’s bloody seven-year insurgency have been under way since February, after Sharif returned to power last year, but little clear progress has resulted and more than 300 people have been killed in militant strikes since then. Analysts say Sharif is under pressure to act and risks angering the army if he does not authorise a swift retaliation.

Thousands flee tribal district

In restive North Waziristan tribal district some 1,000 kilometres north of Karachi, residents and officials told AFP 58,000 people, mainly women and children had fled the area for different parts of the northwest, fearing a long-awaited offensive was imminent.

The exodus has increased rapidly in recent days, with more than 25,000 fleeing their homes in the last 48 hours alone, a government official in Peshawar said.

“I am taking my family to a safer location,” said one resident who did not wish to be named.

The latest rumours of an operation began after government talks with the TTP broke down in April, and were further stoked by the air strikes and the widespread distribution of a leaflet from a local warlord last week warning residents they should leave their homes by June 10. An offensive in North Waziristan has been rumoured for years but analysts remain cautious about whether the military has the capacity to attempt such a move without assistance from the Afghan side of the border where militants are likely to flee in the event of an attack.

What do we think?

Well, this new survey revealing that 92% of Pakistanis report having seen hate speech online is sobering indeed. We cannot imagine it is much different elsewhere. It may well be that we are crucially under-estimating the role of hate speech online in creating real-world violence.

Whether it is three dead in a shopping mall, thirty dead in Pakistan, or tens of thousands maimed, made homeless, or killed in conflicts all over the world, it is surely the power of words to justify the unthinkable that should concern us.

A challenging question that demands an answer.

A challenging question that demands an answer.

Whatever the root causes of societal tensions, and the world is full of injustice, to be sure, both minor and major, the casualacceptance that “violence is the answer” is a cancer that grew up in the relativist 1960s and has been growing and spreading ever since.

It must be said that the instinctive resort to violence is, unquestionably, exacerbated by the wanton use of government force, official and unofficial, whether it is foolhardy killings of people by gung-ho police officers, (a trend which seems to be increasing), the assassination of leaders such as Salvador Allende and Patrice Lumumba, drone strikes, dis-proportionate attacks on the Palestinian community by the IDF, the fuelling of the contras and others slaughtering hundreds of thousands in Central and South America in the 1970s and 80s, the massacres of Chechen civilians, the slaughter of Tamil civilians, and so many more examples the list could be virtually endless.

 

We are concerned here with the knee-jerk resort to violence, with the assumption that such violence is warranted in all cases by national interest, rather than the admittedly more complex discussion of when and if violence could be justified. Governments everywhere seem, to our eyes, to be becoming far too wedded to the idea of “shoot first and ask questions later”, both domestically and internationally. It is a slippery slope, and we seem to be sliding down it, willy nilly.

And while government continues to behave as if life and liberty are irrelevant to their own interests, so individuals will consider they are similarly exempt from moral restraint, as we saw with Baader-Meinhoff and the Red Brigades.

Hate speech does not equal free speech. In our opinion.

Hate speech does not equal free speech. In our opinion.

And yet, none of us are exempt from moral restraint. When we all cry, in bewilderment, “How could someone do such a thing?” it is because we are from the sane majority, those who would no more shoot a fellow citizen on the streets over a political or religious principle than we would try to fly to the moon by flapping our arms.

And yet, that same sane majority cowers silently behind the free speech argument while others pour mental filth into our communities unchallenged and unrestrained.

In our view, it is not enough to outlaw someone actively arguing and presumably planning for armed revolution, it is also necessary to curb the enthusiasm of those who “wink” at the concept of it, who pat elements on society on the head and murmur “There, there, settle down children”, when they should actually be as outraged as us that anyone can actually voice the type of vile propaganda that leads individuals to gun down women’s health practitioners, attendees at a Holocaust museum, or a Jewish school.

We do not pretend to know where or how the line should be drawn in each and every case. We simply feel we know hate speech when we hear it, and we don’t want to hear it. So as a starting point for the debate:

Killing people is wrong. Always wrong. Under any circumstances. It is an inadequate, tragic and awful way for us to resolve our differences, whether with a neighbour over a wall or a neighbouring country over a border.

Killing people is just plain wrong. And saying it’s sometimes OK to kill people is wrong, too.

Let’s just start there, and work on?

blackLarge numbers of African Americans
gathered together with handguns, shotguns
or maybe semi-black2automatic weapons on your street corner.

How about a bunch of Muslims, say in full Arabic cultural dress and regalia, outside your local Church?

At your local kids’ football game?

Perhaps your favourite local restaurant?

Is that something all you pro-gun people would feel comfortable about?

Or is the right to bear arms limited to whites? This is the question the NRA and pro-gun people consistently duck, and should be called to task over. Only takes five minutes to read this article: click it now.

 http://www.forwardprogressives.com/racism-ignorance-hypocrisy-confrontation-open-carry-activist/

Strongly recommended. Debate welcome.

stabbingIt is deeply distressing that an American student brandishing two knives stabbed 20 teenagers and a security guard in a bloody rampage in the classrooms and hallways of a Pennsylvania high school Wednesday.

At least four fellow students were critically injured in the assault at Franklin Regional High School, said Thomas Seefeld, chief of police in Murrysville, an outer suburb of Pittsburgh.

Stabbing is a hideous, violent, destructive act, causing terrible trauma and it is often deadly. The casual carrying of knives by “street kids” is a modern plague.

But it has to be asked: how many of those 20 would now definitely be dead if the assailant had been carrying guns, and especially a semi-automatic weapon. And how many more children might have been shot?

As Alfred Hitchcock once goulishly remarked, it is actually quite difficult to stab someone to death. You have to be next to your victim, the would is generally cleaner and more compact, and the blade needs to access a major organ or artery.

The pro-gun lobby often remarks “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. This event – tragic as it is –  nevertheless shows how hollow and disingenuous those remarks are. The nature of guns make them more deadly, and more in need of control.

The 16-year-old boy who has been charged with the attack was identified as Alex Hribal. He had allegedly made a threatening phone call to a fellow student the night before.

AFP incident report follows:

Hribal arrested.

Hribal arrested.

(Hribal) walked down a hallway wielding two knives eight to 10 inches (up to 25 centimeters) long, stabbing fellow pupils and the guard as they began arriving for the school day, police said.

Panicked students rushed for the exit and one reportedly set off the fire alarm, but 20 pupils and one male security guard were injured, mostly in the chest and stomach, officials confirmed.

The school principal and another member of staff overpowered the suspect, who was arrested within five minutes of police officers being alerted by radio, police said.

The motive of the attack was not immediately clear.

One student described the suspect as “shy” and told CNN that he was “very quiet” while carrying out the assault.

“He just was kind of doing it and he had this look on his face that he was just crazy and he was just running around just stabbing everyone who was in his way,” she told CNN.

She spoke of seeing at least two students gushing blood, one from his chest and a girl from the arm.

“I started hearing like a stampede of students coming down from the other end of the hall screaming, ‘Get out, we need to leave, go, there is a kid with a knife,'” she said.

The assailant, who sustained an injured hand, has not been named although Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said he would in all likelihood be charged as an adult.

FBI and state police have been drafted in to assist with what is now expected to be a lengthy investigation.

Peck outlined the possible charges as aggravated assault and, in cases of serious injury, possible criminal attempt to commit homicide.

Doctor Mark Rubino at Forbes Regional Hospital, which is treating eight of the victims, said he expected everyone to survive, despite what he called “deep penetrating” stab wounds.

The knife wounds caused significant injuries to internal organs, Rubino said.

“Three of the patients had severe injuries and are still in the operating room right now. And two of them are in critical condition, but they have stabilized,” Rubino said.

“The other five that we had are still being evaluated, of whom one or two may require further surgery.”

Praise for teachers

Dan Stevens, a spokesman for Westmoreland County emergency management, told AFP that the teenage victims were aged 14 to 17.

The incident lasted from 7:13 am to 7:45 am, he said.

They were attacked in “numerous classrooms and hallways” of the school, Stevens added.

Wednesday’s attack comes after a long and frequent line of US school shootings that have inflamed a nationwide debate over gun control in the United States.

But even the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 young children and six adults were shot dead, ultimately failed to tighten gun ownership rules.

The police chief Seefeld praised school staff, who worked in close coordination with police and who were well versed in emergency procedure.

“It is my opinion that today, as unfortunate as it is… I think that it could have been a lot worse if there was not immediate interaction that occurred,” he told reporters.

Franklin Regional High will be closed for several days.

I have long railed against the gun culture of the United States – or rather, the culture of casual violence that is made so much simpler to create because of the free availability of guns.

Hundreds of thousands of legal guns are stolen from homeowners every year, and filter into the illegal community. If the total number of guns in circulation in the USA is not reduced through effective controls, then the slaughter of innocents will continue unabated. This is the point the gun lobby fails to address: this is the cowardice of America’s politicians on all sides.

People say that, as an Australian, this is none of my business. But I have friends in Chicago. Good friends. And all over the USA. I dont want to hear of them randomly killed, and unless they lock themselves in their homes and bolt the doors and never go out, there is always a real chance they will be.

The dead kid, Damani Henard, often made the 15-minute bike ride to his friend’s home to play computer games, frequently sleeping over if it got too late. Relatives say the boy called his mother to assure her he arrived at his friend’s home safely and promised to see her back home.

Henard’s aunt told the paper the last words the boy said to his mother were “OK, I love you.”

This article is from one of the finest writer/bloggers I have come across, Emily Hauser. Read every word. Please.

Killed, halfway home.

Damani Henard - photo source* Damani Henard (image source: DNAinfo Chicago)

I live in a lovely, upper-middle-class suburb of Chicago known for its trees, its schools, and its diversity.

We’re also known for the safety of our streets, but we live at the edge of chaos, on the literal border of one of the city’s poorest, roughest neighborhoods. Literally: On one side of my town’s eastern border you’ll find our tiny little arugula enclave; on the other, abandoned buildings and schools with no libraries.

We are safe here, but occasionally the chaos leaks out and across the street.

Over the course of 15 years, I can think of five murders that took place within a few blocks of my home or my regular haunts, all of them Chicago’s violence spread west. These events don’t frighten me, because they don’t belong to me. Someone ran, someone followed. They’re not my story, however heartbreaking they may be.

But last night the chaos leaked out and took the life of a 14 year old boy.

Damani Henard’s family had moved from that rougher, tougher neighborhood to my town, so that he could go to high school here. He had ridden his bike into the city to visit friends and was, according to the Chicago Tribune, “about halfway home” when he was shot in the head and killed, apparently instantly.

That family lives blocks from my home. That boy was enrolled in our high school, would have ridden his bike down the same streets that my boy will walk come fall. His family had done what they could to make him safe, and they probably figured that a 15 minute bike ride down a well-lit, major thoroughfare was safe, too.

But they were wrong. Someone else — also a teenager, a 19 year old young woman named Ashley Hardmon — was shot and killed less than an hour earlier, not far from where Damani was killed.*

His mom figures her boy was collateral damage. “He coincidentally had on black,” she told reporters — as if, in a functional world, that would in any way consign a boy to death. But the world we live in is not functional.

This is not my story. This was Chicago’s violence. It spilled over again, through the tiny hole of a woman and a family trying to get away. Damani Henard was not my son.

But this is my story. This is my violence. That woman ran to my town to keep her boy alive, and the world in which we both live reached out and snatched him from her. Damani was my boy, just as much as every child in the streets of Chicago and across this grieving nation are my children, the children of all the adults who fail them again and again, unto death. This is what a nation awash with guns looks like: Dead children.

I’ve written before that white privilege is sending your son out into the world without the fear that he will not return — at the time I was referring to state-mandated violence, but race lies deep within the heart of this story, too. Who are Chicago’s poor? What neighborhoods go under-protected by Chicago’s police? What color are the families doing the fleeing? My black neighbors — the upper middle class ones, the professional ones, the ones who dress like me and talk like me and who send their boys to private schools because our high school, the school to which Damani was coming for shelter, doesn’t always serve its black boys well — they know far better than me that class and geography don’t always suffice. Their boys don’t have to be poor, don’t have to be surrounded by gangs, to be in danger. They just have to live inside their skins.

I made my son a cheese sandwich for lunch today. I held him as tight as I could without making him suspicious, without weeping. Damani’s mother will never hold him again.

* In the first shooting, a gunman fired into a crowd of young people, striking Ashley Hardmon, 19, in the head in the 4800-block of West Potomac Tuesday night. Hardmon died at Stroger Hospital. Friends say Hardmon was standing with friends when someone starting shooting into the group.“At this stage in my life, I never thought I would bury one of my kids. I just can’t imagine… I still don’t believe it’s real,” Ashley’s mother Tiffany Hardmon said tearfully. “When we got here, she was face down, and she was lifeless, and I knew she wasn’t going make it.”“I am very angry. My love for God won’t let me hate them, but they need to pay for what they did,” said Tiffany Hardmon.

Chicago police say Hardmon was hit after several shooters approached a home and opened fire just after 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Hardmon was a graduate of Austin Business Academy and was training to work at a pharmacy through the Job Corps program. She was supposed to finish that program next month. She was back home in her Austin neighborhood for summer break.

Brandon Holt. Dead. Never coming back. Aged, 6.

Brandon Holt. Dead. Never coming back. Aged, 6.

I do not pretend or propose to know what to do about gun control in America, and ultimately it is up to the citizens of that country, of course, but something needs to be done to stop tragedies like this happening.

New Jersey gun owners who know minors could have access to them are required by law to properly secure the guns. Securing methods could include using a container box or a trigger lock. Failing to do so could lead to disorderly persons offence, a misdemeanor.

It would be easy to yell “stronger penalties” for people who don’t keep guns safely under lock and key but then again, a family has lost their child. Another family has to live with the knowledge that a gun stored under their bed has killed another child. They must all be utterly devastated. I can’t see that punishing them further is going to serve any purpose.

So what is the answer? Education? Stronger controls? You tell me. I just know the current situation is not working. The sheer numbers of guns in that society means such tragedies are inevitable. At what stage does the “return” on having guns in society get outweighed by the negatives. I really don’t know. I just mourn.

Story begins:

A 6-year-old boy who was accidentally shot in the head by a 4-year-old playmate has died from his wounds, authorities said Tuesday night.

Ocean County prosecutor’s office spokesman Al Della Fave confirmed Brandon Holt had died but said he couldn’t provide further details. Toms River police Chief Michael Mastronardy said Holt was pronounced dead at 5 p.m. Tuesday, nearly 24 hours after the shooting occurred in a neighborhood that residents described as “very quiet.”

The 4-year-old, whose name was withheld, was not injured.

Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, speaking earlier Tuesday at a news conference, said the boy got the .22-caliber rifle from his home and it discharged accidently Monday evening. The children, whose families live in the neighborhood, were about 15 yards apart.

The younger boy’s mother called 911 to report the shooting, Coronato said.

Coronato said it was too early in the investigation to know whether anyone would be charged. He would not say who owned the gun or speculate on how the 4-year-old got it.

Mastronardy called the shooting tragic and said it affected the whole community, a sentiment shared by those who live there.

One resident said the two families had not lived in the neighborhood for long and she did not know them well.

“I’m sad for the children involved and their families, but I’m angry with whoever owns that gun and allowed a little child to get hold of it. A 4-year-old can’t load a gun,” said Debi Coto, who lives a few doors down. “I had just been telling my sister how nice it is to see kids playing together and enjoying themselves, and then this happens.”

Coto said the 4-year-old’s mother seemed very upset in the minutes after the shooting and appeared to be trying to comprehend what had happened.

The shooting came just days after a 4-year-old boy in Tennessee grabbed a loaded gun at a family cookout and accidentally shot to death the wife of a sheriff’s deputy and amid debate over gun control laws in the wake of December’s Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Wot he said.

Wot he said.

Click the link below. This fascinating interactive graphic shows you were Americans have died of gun violence SINCE Sandy Hook on December 14th.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Dead victims. More than one and a half thousand of them. One and a half thousand families. One and a half thousand broken individuals, many of them full of potential and life and goodness. Horrendous emotional and financial costs, one and a half thousand police cases, chases, arrests, prosecutions, trials, jail terms, and executions to be planned and implemented. In less than two months.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html

Just ponder that. It’s more than 1,600, actually. In 55 days.

That averages out to 29 people a day. On Christmas, 30 Americans were killed by guns. On New Year’s Day, it was 58. On Martin Luther King Day, 28. Last Thursday was a good day — only 13 Americans were shot to death that day.

If you are an American and you want to speak to someone in the United States Government about these statistics – if you want to express your opinion that changes need to happen, then -

  • Call Congress: 202-224-3121
  • Call the White House: 202-456-1111
  • Find your Senators by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).
  • Find your US Representative by clicking here (if you’d rather send an email, you’ll find that information here, too).

Meanwhile, politicians bicker, opinion-makers waffle and bluster and cajole and obscure, the facts get twisted and used partially, and as time passes and nothing changes the ordinary folk watch on, appalled. And people die. Men, women, and children. And dead is forever.

Sample script:

Hi, I’m calling from [location], and I just wanted to make sure that President Obama/Senator XXXXX/Representative XXXXX knows that I support the White House gun control initiative. I think that things like background checks, limits on magazine capacity, and a ban on assault weapons are common sense, and I think it’s so important to also work with inner city communities to address their particular needs — less than 1% of urban populations are responsible for about 70% of all shootings in cities, and it’s tragic that so many people are held hostage to that violence.

As gun victim and advocate for responsible gun ownership Gabby Giffords told Congress: “We must do something. It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous.”

I am grateful to Emily Hauser for alerting me to these facts, to Slate for doing their work, and I encourage all my American friends and colleagues to think hard, and to make sure their voices are heard.

And if you disagree with the changes proposed, just send a different message.

But whatever you believe, don’t do nothing. or nothing is exactly what will happen.

Except for the body count.

That will continue to tick over. You can be sure of that.

The Omaha courthouse lynching - story below.

Will Brown, hanged, shot and burned. The Omaha courthouse lynching – story below.*

I respect the fact that many Americans defend the Second Amendment right to “bear arms” with great sincerity.

However, it is an indisputable fact that throughout the history of the United States, and until very recently, it has been a very mixed blessing, as it has also resulted in mobs of roaming racists taking the law into their own hands.

As Americans debate their gun laws, they would do well to also consider this important historical perspective. An armed citizenry – the “militia’ of the founding fathers – could well be considered a mixed blessing. Especially if you happen to be black.

I would urge you to read this article: http://www.examiner.com/article/armed-and-dangerous-right-wing-vigilantism-american-history

Wellthisiswhatithink says: Whatever gun laws are or are not put in place, the American people surely need to face their history unflinchingly, to understand this dynamic, and guard against it. The law-abiding, responsible gun-owning citizen is not the issue here. It is what guns can do in the hands of the wrong people, or where they are prevalent in the wrong situation.

*Although not specifically about guns – although they played their role – this infamous incident was part of the wave of racial and labor violence that swept the U.S. during the “Red Summer” of 1919 and is very relevant to an understanding of mob violence and vigilantism.

As in the nation at large, it was a turning point in the history of Omaha’s black community.

Following a national pattern, the local daily newspaper carried lurid, sensational accounts of attacks by African American males on white women, without similar coverage of assaults on African American women, by either black or white males.

After one particularly provocative story in September of 1919, Will Brown, an African American man, was arrested and held in the Douglas County Courthouse.  Largely due to the newspaper story, a mob gathered.  Omaha Mayor Edward P. Smith was nearly lynched himself when he unsuccessfully attempted to disperse the crowd.  Then the mob broke into the recently constructed building, tearing off Brown’s clothing as he was being dragged out.

He was hanged on a nearby lamppost and then his body was riddled with bullets.

Finally the body was burned.

Members of the mob tied what remained of his charred body to an automobile, and dragged it around the streets of downtown Omaha.  Pieces of the rope used to lynch Brown were sold as souvenirs for 10 cents apiece.

Henry Fonda

Popular American actor Henry Fonda, who witnessed the lynching.

Although some of the leaders of the lynching were placed on trial, most received suspended sentences, or were convicted of minor offenses such as destruction of public property.

Some of the causes of the “Courthouse Lynching of 1919” were linked to Omaha city politics.

The mayor, who was a recently-elected reformer, was at odds with the machine-controlled police department, whose members were conspicuously absent during the height of the riot.

One of the thousands of witnesses to the lynching was a young man named Henry Fonda, who later remembered, “It was the most horrendous sight I’d ever seen.

My hands were wet and there were tears in my eyes.  All I could think of was that young black man dangling at the end of a rope.”

(From blackpast.org)

74% of all pyschiatric illness occurs before the age of 24, and 50% before the age of 14, and between 20-25% of people will suffer depression requiring treatment at some point in their life. How come a quarter of the population isn't out blasting away at anything that moves?

74% of all pyschiatric illness occurs before the age of 24, and 50% before the age of 14, and between 20-25% of people will suffer depression requiring treatment at some point in their life. How come a quarter of the population isn’t out blasting away at anything that moves?

In America, (in particular, but in chardonnay-sipping middle-class households everywhere), it has become very faddish to spout the nonsense “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. And to tortuously link that to a reassuring argument that if only we could keep guns out of the hands of the homicidally insane or depressed, then all would magically be well and our children can skip down the street in the sunshine, free from fear.

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I call “Bullshit”.

The fact is, 99.99 (recurring) % of mentally ill people (including many, many people you know personally) never pick up a gun and kill anyone. If a gun is available nearby they are very likely to pick it up and kill themselves, sometimes on a tragic whim, but that’s not what is being debated here.

Indeed, mentally ill people are much more likely to be the victims of gun violence than the perpetrators.

Discuss. Please. Before this meme becomes generally accepted, and a soothing (but mythological) salve for our communal consciences.

The fact that murderers are often found to have committed their crimes while the balance of their mind was disturbed is irrelevant. The vast – vast – majority of homicides enacted using guns (or any other weapon) are enacted by people the courts subsequently judge to be perfectly sane. Or imperfectly sane, but not quite insane, either.

In the opinion of this writer, the availability of guns is, of course, the primary cause of gun violence.

No guns, no gun violence.

Fewer guns, fewer violent gun episodes.

Lots and lots of guns, married to a gung-ho macho culture where people are de-sensitised almost from birth to violence, and gun violence specifically, and where police and armed forces frequently use guns in a manner that at best is careless, and at worst is culpable homicide, and you have you entirely predictable result: lots and lots of gun violence.

If you’re going to do something about tackling gun control, in America or anywhere else, do it nationally, do it with wide popular support, do it married to a massive public education campaign, and know that you will probably have to do it consistently for decades before you see any measurable result.

Anything else is just playing with the memories of the dead, and the understanding of the living, in the most monstrous and despicable manner.

If you agree with me that mental illness is more serious than a convenient excuse to cover up the need for action, and/or if you agree that the mentally ill are being unreasonably pilloried in this debate, I urge you to share this blog, either by re-blogging it, or mention it and link to it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumble Upon etc. Thank you.

Can we research the gun control issue with a minimum of opinion?

Can we look into the gun control issue with a minimum of opinion?

I am often being asked, particularly by United States residents, if I can help to elucidate the effects of the much-discussed Howard Government’s gun buy back (which removed about 650,000 weapons from Australian society, for which compensation was paid) following the Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people were killed.

It is difficult to be precise, as studies are still on-going, but in a bi-partisan spirit I post the following links for people to investigate for themselves if they so wish.

Results confused

This joint Canadian-Australia research study finds a drop in gun suicide rates of 80%. Suicide rates are often the forgotten element in the gun control discussion – a 2010 study found that the gun buyback scheme cut firearm suicides 74%, thus saving 200 lives a year. The Canadian-Australian study, by Christine Neill and Andrew Leigh also found that states such as Tasmania, which withdrew guns quickly, had a bigger decline in firearm suicides than states such as New South Wales, which withdrew more slowly. The authors found no evidence of substitution of method of suicide in any state, although other studies have argued that this has happened. The study finds other violent deaths unaffected in the main, although it believes that overall gun violence diminished.

http://andrewleigh.org/pdf/GunBuyback_Panel.pdf

Effect on massacre killings

The Wikipedia page on Gun Politics in Australia is helpfully unbiased and full of data. It shows, in effect, that the effect of the gun buy back is disputed (hardly surprising with strong opinions on both sides) but that one area where it is likely there will be agreement is that guns have almost disappeared from massacre-style killings.

Hypothetically, I would argue that this is because the nature of the weapons restricted are those that typically allow considerable damage to be done in a short space of time, as in the recent school killings in the USA. This may be helpful in considering, for example, whether the USA should ban semi-automatic weapons or large magazine weapons.

Cultural change

This study into an Argentine gun buy back programme notes the effects of the buy back in Australia, and particularly emphasises that any changes that have taken place as a result of it are because it was not just about removing weapons from the community but also about a wider range of restrictions, as in a similar scheme in Brazil, and also a concomitant cultural change, brought about by a generalised revulsion at the Port Arthur massacre. Interestingly, though, despite not finding much impact on the overall problem of gun violence, this study finds a significant reduction in deaths from gun accidents in the Argentine.

Gun suicide and gun accidents

The effect on the reduction in gun suicide and accidental gun deaths in the USA needs to be considered as a part of any overall gun control discussion there.

23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States occurred during 2000. Annually, about 600 people are accidentally killed. You either consider this a lot, thinking about 600 families losing someone, or a little, compared to the overall gun population. Or you can hold both thoughts simultaneously, as I do.

Just over half of all gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, and firearms remain the most common method of suicide, accounting for 50.7% of all suicides committed in 2006with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths a year later in 2007 being decided to be suicide. It is worth noting that some of these suicides also occurred after one or more murders, such as in a family murder-suicide situation. In this respect, there would seem to be some advantage to reducing the number of households in a society with firearms.

National may work, local doesn’t

My reading seems to imply that the success or otherwise, in any sphere, of a gun buy back programme is critically determined by whether or not the activity is national, rather than state based or city based. This seems to be because if one can simply travel across a border to buy a weapon or type of weapon that is restricted in a particular community then the effect of the buy back is reduced or negated. Also, small-scale gun buy backs (such as a city within the United States) do not have a large enough impact on the overall gun population to make a serious statistical impact.

gun deaths v traffic deaths

The role of guns in death and injury in the USA would seem urgent, and not just because of the recent sad mass murders. As this graphic and article from Bloomberg reveals, gun deaths will out-number traffic deaths within a couple of years.  As we work to make driving a car safer and safer in so many ways, it surely makes sense to make the same effort for weapon ownership.

“We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we are powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such carnage visited on our children, year after year after year, is somehow the price of freedom?”

Amen, Mr President. It is time to begin to change.

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Rachel Davino, 29

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Dawn Hochsprung, 47

Madeleine Hsu, 6

Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Lauren Rousseau, 30

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison Wyatt, 6

hope love

The authors of the American Constitution never imagined semi-automatic weapons that can spew out hundreds of bullets at defenceless young children in minutes. When the American Constitution was written they were using muskets and rudimentary rifles.

Just ban these types of weapons. Just do it. I will not be debating this matter here – with anyone – out of respect for the families concerned. No doubt the debate will rage elsewhere, but not here. This blog is for my opinion, and you will not shake it. I seek neither agreement not contradiction. I simply ask you all to consider.

And I reproduce simply one sentence from the media coverage to make my point. “There were almost no non-fatal injuries, indicating that once targeted, there was rarely any chance of escape.”

I very nearly didn’t say anything at all. But to say nothing – to stay silent in the face of an event of such enormity – simply compounds our communal guilt at not having successfully tackled this problem before now.

So, just get rid of them. Do it now. Just get on with it. BAN. THESE. WEAPONS. PERIOD.

With love and prayers
The Parents of the World

Later: In support of my position

Many of the young elementary school victims killed Friday during a shooting spree were fired upon multiple times at close range by an assault rifle, the state’s chief medical examiner says.

Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, Connecticut’s long-time chief medical examiner, said most of the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School early Friday morning were first-graders. Among seven he personally examined, all had three to 11 bullet wounds.

Just some of those shot repeatedly in the Newtown massacre.

Just some of those shot repeatedly in the Newtown massacre. They relied on us to keep them safe. We failed them.

For Americans: here is a petition for stronger gun control, if you would like to sign it.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/immediately-address-issue-gun-control-through-introduction-legislation-congress/2tgcXzQC

Please – people – don’t troll this posting if you disagree. Start your own petition to leave gun laws in the US exactly as they are, or to loosen them. Because I will not be changing my mind. These weapons have no place in a sane society.

Meanwhile, more details of the event emerge which support my point of view.

Lanza’s main weapon was the Bushmaster, a civilian version of the US military’s M4 – legally registered to his mother. Police said he had three other weapons with him, two pistols and a shotgun found in a car.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy revealed that Lanza blasted his way into the school, which had just installed a new security door where visitors could be viewed by video camera and buzzed in.

“He shot his way into the building. He penetrated the building by literally shooting an entrance into the building. That’s what an assault weapon can do for you,” Malloy said on CNN.

Many states, including Connecticut, already have strict laws on the purchase of firearms, but with no federal statutes, there is little to stop the traffic of guns from other states where fewer restrictions apply.

An assault weapon ban was passed in 1994 under president Bill Clinton but it expired in 2004 and was never resurrected.

Obama supported restoring the law while running for president in 2008 but did not make it a priority during his first term. He failed to deliver on a 2008 election promise to reinstate an assault weapons ban, and is now under mounting pressure from within his own party to throw his political weight behind new laws.

Despite the outpouring of national grief, any such Bill is likely to be highly divisive; Congress has not passed significant gun legislation for almost 20 years, amid partisan gridlock.

A poll in August found that 57 per cent of Americans favour a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, while 60 per cent favour outlawing high-capacity ammunition clips.

“Survivalist link”

Also, here is further emerging evidence that the more lunatic endless doom-laden analyses of the extreme libertartian AND conservative right in America play directly into the behaviour of local gun buyers, and in this case, the availability of these incredibly powerful weapons to their mentally troubled children. Although frankly, anyone thinking that society is going to “collapse”  is pretty mentally troubled as well in my view …

From Business Insider:

The mother of the gunman who killed 20 children and seven adults in America’s worst school massacre, was a gun-proud “survivalist” preparing for economic collapse, it has emerged.

Nancy Lanza, whose gun collection was raided by her son Adam for Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook school, was part of the “prepper” movement, which urges readiness for social chaos by hoarding supplies and training with weapons.

“She prepared for the worst,” her sister-in-law Marsha Lanza told reporters. “Last time we visited her in person, we talked about prepping – are you ready for what could happen down the line, when the economy collapses?”

It also emerged that Mrs Lanza had spoken of her fears less than a week before the attack that she was “losing” her son. “She said it was getting worse. She was having trouble reaching him,” said a friend of Mrs Lanza who did not want to be named.

Police disclosed that the 52-year-old had five legally registered guns – at least three of which her 20-year-old son carried with him. Most victims were shot with an assault rifle, while Lanza also carried two handguns and left a shotgun in his car.

A 3-year-old Ohio boy, Lucas Hedgren, who shot himself in the head, has died from his injuries. The boy was pronounced dead Tuesday morning after being airlifted to Akron Children’s Hospital the night before. Family members say a .45-caliber handgun was sitting on top of a television in the living room.

Eight children will die from gunfire in America today. And tomorrow. And the day after. And …

 

In my opinion, this is an important article from “Mother Jones”, edited slightly here for clarity and ease and speed of reading, and with a few comments of my own (in italics). The full article is linked to at the bottom, with other resources. As the debate rages, the article begins:

It is worth noting that here have been at least 56 mass shootings in the last 30 years—and most of the killers got their guns legally.

It’s perhaps too easy to forget how many times this has happened. The horrific mass murder at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado last Friday is the latest in an epidemic of such gun violence over the last three decades. Since 1982, there have been at least 56 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. MJ has mapped them below, including details on the shooters’ identities, the types of weapons they used, and the number of victims they injured and killed.

One of the commonest arguments against gun control in the USA is that it will mean only crazies and nut cases will get weapons, while ordinary folk cannot protect themselves. But the facts seem to suggest otherwise.

Of the 132 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and high-powered handguns. Just as Jeffrey Weise used a .40-caliber Glock to massacre students in Red Lake, Minnesota, in 2005, so too did James Holmes when blasting away at his victims in a darkened movie theater.

Half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (11 and 17, respectively); the other 28 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, government buildings, and military bases.

Only one of the killers was a woman.

This is surely significant? Men and women have equal access to guns – how come women are almost unheard of in these situations? As I argue elsewhere, it must surely be cultural. And women, note, form a higher than average proportion of gun victims, in the USA and elsewhere. Gun control, in my opinion, is a feminist issue.

Mother Jones believe they have produced one of the most comprehensive rundowns available on this particular type of traumatic violence. (Mass murders represent only a sliver of America’s overall gun violence of course.)

*Mother Jones used the following criteria to identify cases of mass murder:

  • The killings were carried out by a lone shooter. (Except in the case of the Columbine massacre and the Westside Middle School killings, both of which involved two shooters.)
  • The shootings happened during a single incident and in a public place. (Public, except in the case of a party at an apartment complex in Crandon, Wisconsin.) Crimes primarily related to armed robbery or gang activity are not included.
  • The shooter took the lives of at least four people. An FBI crime classification report identifies an individual as a mass murderer—as opposed to a spree killer or a serial killer—if he kills four or more people in a single incident (not including himself), and typically in a single location.
  • If the shooter died or was hurt from injuries sustained during the incident, he is included in the total victim count. (But MJ excluded cases in which there were three fatalities and the shooter also died, per the previous criterion.)
  • They included six so-called “spree killings—prominent cases that fit closely with our above criteria for mass murder, but in which the killings occurred in multiple locations over a short period of time.

For the full story, head to http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

weapons

This is a deadly weapon ……….. and so is this …………… and so is this.

There is a lot of discussion in the world currently about guns. The recent events in Colorado make that inevitable. And the arguments on both sides in favour of the Second Ammendment to the Constitution in America, and in every other country in the world, will rage on. We do ourselves a dis-service if we do not concede that there is sincerity on both sides, although not in the case of everyone doing to the arguing.

Try to pick this issue apart, I have always said that in my opinion it is the attitude – the desire to carry a weapon, and the acceptability of that – that determines the likely outcome, and the question of an innate a preparedness to engage in violence. Even if that preparedness is momentary, fleeting, instinctive. The effects can last forever.

There is little doubt in my mind that some countries are inherently more violent than others, with less concern about the potential for human injury or death. I have opined many times that the real problem with guns in America, for example, is their casual acceptance of violence – not to mention poverty, disconnectedness, crime and lack of social justice – that leads that nevertheless great country to suffer even more gun violence than even its vast number of weapons in circulation would assumptively lead to.

It’s not just the number of guns in America that matters. It is people’s preparedness to use them.

But guns are only part of the story. We have seen recent high-profile cases in Victoria and New South Wales – but they occur regularly – where a single punch has killed a young man.

I have thrown punches in my life. The thought now horrifies me. A single punch can kill. When will we learn?

So it is surely the duty of all parents, all teachers, and all law enforcement officers, all social workers, all churchmen, all imams, all politicians, to promote one simple fact.

Violence – other than, PERHAPS – in self-defence (a matter for another article) – is unacceptable, under any circumstances, because violence, even minimal violence, even violence without serious intent, can maim or kill.

Another tragic case today

Today, the Victorian Supreme Court has heard the story of a 15-year-old boy, who fatally stabbed a mother of three after “egging” her home, and that he would be considered just “a naughty little boy” had he not been carrying a knife.

However, he was. And the teenager has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, after he killed a 43-year-old woman with a single stab wound to the chest. She died of severe blood loss.

Prosecutor Mark Rochford told the court the teenager targeted the house with his friends, after he told them the woman’s son was bullying him after school.

The court heard that the woman, her husband and 11-year-old daughter gave chase after eggs were thrown at the roof of their house, carport and cars in July last year.

The boy, who was 14 at the time, ran away and was hiding in a nearby driveway when the woman confronted him.

He was armed with a knife that he had been given by his friend. It was described as being “no bigger than a pen.”

Mr Rochford said the woman said “we’ve got you” before running at the boy, who then stabbed her.

The teenager asked his brother to get rid of the knife. It was found by police divers in a lake.

Friends gave him up

The prosecution said the boy shaved his head to try and avoid detection, but he was arrested at his home after his friends went to police.

The boy’s lawyer said causing the death of a person was hard for a 14-year-old to digest and his client was deeply remorseful.

“He is not a child who was off the rails at the time,” he said. “He is no rat-bag.”

Indeed, the court heard he is a very timid, quiet and withdrawn boy with no history of violence. The defence submitted the boy should be sentenced to three years in youth detention.

Justice Paul Coghlan questioned whether it was enough, given that he was armed with a knife. “Apart from the knife, they were just naughty little boys,” the judge said. However, he said, the boy had chosen to take a knife to what was a childish prank. The boy will be assessed by youth justice and will be sentenced at a later date.

“Why would anyone think it necessary to have a knife?” the judge asked.

Why, indeed?