Archive for the ‘guns’ Tag

Two Men Save Many Lives   Leave a comment

Two men dining at a restaurant in Oklahoma City shot and killed an armed attacker last week, ending what police called “a very tragic situation.”

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bo Matthews said Juan Carlos Nazario, 35, and Bryan Whittle, 39, shot and killed 28-year-old Alexander C. Tilghman soon after he opened fire from the parking lot of Louie’s restaurant, striking a woman and two young girls eating dinner inside Thursday evening.

“You can say they’re heroes, which is a good thing to say … but I think they stopped a very tragic situation from going any further,” Matthews told reporters during a Friday news conference.

The two men retrieved their handguns from their cars during the attack, Matthews said. It’s unclear if either man had a license to carry, though Matthews said it doesn’t matter. He doubts either man will face charges as a result of the shooting.

“They were protecting somebody else’s life,” he said. “I can tell you historically … these guys were protecting somebody else’s life, I would think more than likely they would not be filed on.”

Gerald Konkler of the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training told NBC News both Nazario and Tilghman had armed security guard licenses.

“I was just there enjoying the lake scenery and heard shots,” Nazario told NBC News. “At that point I zoned out and had to take action. Just glad no innocent bystanders’ lives were taken, and unfortunately a life was lost, but he had a choice to drop the weapon and chose otherwise.”

Whittle, during an interview with USA Today, said he “just did what needed to be done to stop the threat. Nothing special.”

A motive remains unclear, investigators said, noting Tilghman lacked any connection to the restaurant prior to Thursday’s shooting. Police last made contact with him 15 years ago while responding to a domestic assault and battery call.

“It looks to me like a random event,” Matthews said. “I mean, in an act like this, you would have to assume that he probably had a little bit of a mental illness.”

Three shooting victims, as well as a man who broke his arm fleeing the scene, were in good condition as of Friday, police said.

The incident comes two weeks after Republican Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a permitless carry bill, describing the state’s existing gun  laws as “effective, appropriate and minimal.”

“I am thankful that under the concealed-carry and open-carry laws that I have signed as governor, two armed citizens had the ability to protect and save the lives of our fellow Oklahomans,”  she said Friday. “This is not the time to debate the NRA’s efforts to repeal Oklahoma’s regulations assuring safety and training for those who carry guns. This is a time to offer up prayers to the victims of this tragedy.”

#crime #defensivegunuse #gunlaws #selfdefense #neveragain

 

Misleading for Gun Control   Leave a comment

Within minutes of the Wednesday news that another young man with another semi-automatic rifle had rampaged through a school a stunning figure was broadcast. The bodies at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in South Florida weren’t even cold when Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, announced, via tweet at 4:22 pm, “this is the 18th school shooting in the US in 2018.”

Image result for image of gun safetyEverybody loves the bandwagon at a parade, so Sen. Bernie Sanders’ tweet including the claim has been liked more than 45,000 times, and one from political analyst Jeff Greenfield has cracked 116,000. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted it, too, as did musicians Cher and Alexander William and actors Misha Collins and Albert Brooks. News organizations – including MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, TIME, MSN, the BBC, the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post – also used the number in their coverage. By Wednesday night, the top suggested search after typing “18” into Google was “18 school shootings in 2018.”

It is a horrifying statistic. It’s also absolutely erroneous.

For the unfamiliar, Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. They list the following as the first “school shooting” of 2018:

On the afternoon of January 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers and no students.

 

Okay. Maybe they just misinterpreted that one. Or maybe not.

Also listed on the organization’s site is an incident from Jan. 20:

At 1 a.m, a man was shot at a sorority event on the campus of Wake Forest University. No one else was shot, that’s a pretty nebulous connection to a school, and it followed an argument in which alcohol was involved. Not quite the same thing as a mass shooting.

Related imageA week later, as a basketball game was being played at a Michigan high school, someone fired several rounds from a gun in the parking lot. The incident appeared to be gang-related, connected to an earlier altercation inside the building. It was well after classes had ended for the day (past 8 p.m.), but Everytown still labels it a school shooting.

Everytown explains on its website that it defines a school shooting as “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”

Everytown’s research director Sarah Tofte calls the definition “crystal clear,” noting that “every time a gun is discharged on school grounds it shatters the sense of safety” for students, parents and the community.

She insists she and her colleagues work to reiterate those parameters in their public messaging, but their tweets and Facebook posts almost never include that nuance. On February 2, 2018 was the only time the organization clearly explained its definition on Twitter. Interestingly, Everytown doesn’t bring up its jarring totals on social media immediately after the more questionable shootings, probably because if anyone investigated, they’d come to the conclusion that Everytown’s administration are skewing the facts. It’s only following the high-profile and undeniable tragedies, such as the Florida massacre or one from last month in Kentucky that left two students dead and at least 18 people injured. Then, when everyone is really emotional, Everyday trusts that no one will check their facts and figures.

Yes, the figures matter. Gun-control activists use them as evidence in their fight for bans on assault weapons, stricter background checks and other legislation. Gun-rights groups seize on the faults in the data to undermine those arguments and, similarly, present skewed figures of their own.

Gun violence is a crisis in America, especially for children, and a huge number – one that needs no exaggeration – have been affected by school shootings. An ongoing Washington Post analysis has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. That figure, which comes from a review of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures and news stories, is a conservative calculation and does not include dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed kids to gunfire.

 

Just five of Everytown’s 18 school shootings listed for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury. Three others appeared to be intentional shootings but did not hurt anyone. Two more involved guns – one carried by a school police officer and the other by a licensed peace officer who ran a college club – that were unintentionally fired and, again, led to no injuries … although we ought to be asking why we’re not more up in arms about “professionals” who have “unintended” discharges. Any concealed carry citizen will tell you “There is no such thing as an accidental discharge.” They’re all negligent unless they’re deliberate.

At least seven of Everytown’s 18 shootings took place outside normal school hours.

Shootings of any kind, of course, can be traumatic, regardless of whether they cause physical harm.

A month ago, for example, a group of college students were in a criminal justice club in Texas when a student accidentally fired a real gun, rather than a training weapon. The bullet went through a wall, then a window. Though no one was hurt, it left the student distraught … as well it should because the student showed himself to be an idiot who should never be allowed to handle a gun again.

 

But is that a school shooting? Everytown says “yes”. I would certainly say “no” as would the vast majority of the 200 million gun owners in this country who have never had a negligent discharge of one of their weapons.

 

“Since 2013,” the organization proclaims on its site, “there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America – an average of about one a week.”

But since Everytown began its tracking, it has included dubious examples:

  • In August 2013, a man fired a shot on a Tennessee high school’s property, but it was at 2 a.m when the building was empty
  • In December 2014, a man shot himself in his car late one night and was discovered the next day in a Pennsylvania elementary school parking lot
  • In August 2015, a man climbed atop the roof of an empty Texas school on a Sunday morning and sporadically fired a gun
  • In January 2016, a man in an Indiana high school parking lot had a gun negligently discharge in his glove compartment before any students had arrived on campus.
  • In December 2017, two teens in Washington State shot up a high school just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, when the building was empty.

By the way, I’m not the only one who questions Everytown’s figures. In 2015, The Washington Post’s fact checkers awarded the group’s figures four Pinocchios for misleading methodology, after those figures were lauded by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Another database, the Gun Violence Archive, defines school shootings in much narrower terms, considering only those that take place during school hours or extra-curricular activities, so it’s not like saner figures aren’t available, but many journalists rely on Everytown’s data. Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple included the 18 figure in a column Wednesday night, and Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times’s popular podcast “The Daily,” used the number to punctuate the end of his Thursday show.

Deciding what is or is not a school shooting or trying to define a mass shooting can be difficult. Some obviously fit the common-sense definition: Last month, a teen in Texas opened fire in a school cafeteria, injuring a 15-year-old girl. That’s definitely a school schooling. What happened in Florida on Wednesday was definitely a school shooting. Others that Everytown includes on its list are trickier to categorize:

On January 10, at about 6 p.m., a bullet likely fired from off-campus hit the window of a building on a college campus in southern California. No one was hurt, though I’m sure it, rightfully, scared the snot out of some students. Classes were cancelled, rooms were locked down and police searched campus for the gunman, who was never found.

On February 5, a police officer was sitting on a bench in a Minnesota school gym when a third-grader “accidentally” pulled the trigger of his holstered pistol, firing a round into the floor. None of the four students in the gym were injured. What makes this incident so frightening to me is that a cop was so negligent with his weapon that a third-grader was able to fire it, but I also have concerns with the negligence of this child’s parents for not teaching a 9-year-old that guns are never to be touched without express permission by a sober adult.

At some point we really need to have a discussion with parents about why gun safety training is essential for every child, even when their parents don’t own guns. Gun-owning parents definitely need to have that training with their children, but non-gunowners need to as well. To not have that discussion is negligent parenting.

Public Carry   3 comments

This is normally Writing Wednesday for me and I will probably post the last of the Taste Treats from Mirklin Wood, but this being the day after Super Tuesday and my suffering from some serious writing break distraction, I decided to skip it one more time this week.

I fully intend to return to Writing Wednesday next week.

I happened to be at the grocery store last night after the surreal experience of voting in the Alaska Republican Presidential Preference Poll. I’ll get back to that later.

I happened to see this woman. She was with a fella I assume was her husband, who did not appear similarly armed, though he might, as I was, been carrying concealed. Yes, I carried into the ARPPP. Why? Because I couldn’t think of a place in Fairbanks more likely to attract a mass shooter than a place that was processing 600 voters per hour for six hours. I suspect I wasn’t the only one there as it was warm in that crowd and there were a lot of people who weren’t taking off their coats. Maybe they just didn’t want to carry their coats under their arms or maybe they were avoiding showing their sweat stains, but I suspect at least a few of them were like me — wanting to have the capacity to defend myself if necessary while also not wanting to freak anyone out with that capacity (or make myself an immediate target if a mass shooter did enter the civic center).

There are two things I wanted to point out:

This woman was carrying openly in the grocery store and nobody was panicking. No children were being shot. No store managers were asking her to leave. The police weren’t called. We happened to be on one of those reverse courses where you keep passing each other in every aisle. She wasn’t acting jack-booted or aggressive. It seemed as if it was something she did normally. She smiled pleasantly to me and her husband reached down a box of crackers for me that were on an inexplicably high shelf. We didn’t talk about our guns. It was just an ordinary day in the grocery store in a town where people are not, by and large, afraid of guns.

This woman and I were both carrying correctly. We were both in complete control of our weapons because they were on our bodies. They weren’t in our purses (the photo shows she had one; I don’t personally carry a purse if I’ve got a coat to put my wallet in). I chose to conceal mine because I don’t like to make people uncomfortable. She chose to carry openly — well, I didn’t ask her, but I think she probably was making a statement that this is okay and we need to get used to it again. It used to be considered pretty normal and people didn’t used to be so afraid of guns, so convinced that an inanimate object strapped to a nice person was somehow just going to mow down a crowd. A lot of fear is a function of unfamiliarity.

Simplistic Thinking about Mass Shootings   4 comments

Perhaps it is human nature to blame something other than ourselves for the events we see in the world. The South Carolina church shooting shows that tendency in full view.

  • Guns caused the shooting. Their very existence demands that they be used for the mass killing of folks.

Do we really believe that? Certainly our president and some pundits say they believe that, but isn’t that the equivalent of saying “the devil made me do it?” I’ve been around guns my whole life. It’s stupid to go into the woods where there are bears, wolves and moose without a firearm. I shot a 22 when I was 7. I first handled my mom’s 357 when I was in junior high right after three soon-to-be rapists tried to break into our house and Mom (all 95 pounds of her) scared them away.

My guns have never whispered to me that I should go out and shoot up a church, a movie theater, a shopping center. Guns are inanimate objects. If there’s any whispering going on, it’s coming from the mind of the shooter, not the guns. Guns are simply a tool for keeping users safe. Make them illegal and it leaves law-abiding citizens at the mercy of law-breakers, because law-breakers won’t be obeying the gun laws.

  • Racism caused the shooting.

There may be some validity to this argument in the case of this particular church. It was a historically black church and the shooter seems to have had some racist beliefs. He was also high on drugs and may have been mentally ill. So is that racism or mental illness or some other problem not yet identified. The shooter spent an hour in that church during Bible study before he opened fire. If it were my church, I’d be asking “What happened during that hour that escalated rather than de-escalated his violence?” Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was just bent on killing people and it took him an hour to get the courage, but … as I said, if it were MY church …. Is it possible they weren’t very welcoming to the weird white guy in their haven for the dark-skinned? If you think that’s a racist question, note the number of fingers pointing back at yourself before you pop off.

  • Mental illness caused the shooting. Lock up all mentally ill or make it illegal for them to have guns and all will be better.

I worked in the mental health field for 15 years. I’ve met some mentally ill people who would mow down a church group because the voices in their heads told them to do it. Not the gun, not racism — mental illness. But I’ve also met mentally ill folks who would never hurt anyone (except maybe themselves) and others who stay on their meds because they don’t want to ever hurt anyone else. Delusional disorders are not all the same and it’s wrong to treat some folks like criminals because they are ill.

  • Churches are at fault.

I actually heard this from an atheist neighbor this weekend. If churches weren’t these monolithic structures that judge people, he said, they wouldn’t become targets for crazy people. Do away with all churches and people would be free to love one another and violence would be reduced immeasurably. Wow, you just can’t make that up.

All of those simple causes are probably partially at fault. Churches ought to be more welcoming to those who are odd. Yes, that puts them more at risk. Jesus never said being His followers would be safe. There is a lovely man who occasionally comes through our church. We call him John the Baptist and I can’t say his real name because I signed agreements years ago. He is a Christian who is also bat-crazy with schizophrenia. Often when you talk to him, it’s like reading Alice in Wonderland on acid, but he also cuts right to the truth of the gospel in a way that sane people rarely do. He knows his Bible and his application is spot on. And (some people find this creepy), he seems to know things about you that he shouldn’t know, but he uses that knowledge to help the Christians he meets. I wonder if he’s not talking to angels, who are the demons who chose to obey God. Yeah, I worked in the mental health field for 15 years and I believe in demons. That’s another topic. Churches should be more welcoming to people who are not stereotypically “church” people.

Mental illness is a tough nut to crack. Europe and other nations handle it by doing what we used to do — locking folks up and forcing them to take their meds. There is a growing movement in this country by mental health advocates to never force anyone to take medication against their will. Did you know that? Yeah! So maybe there’s more to these mass shootings than just undiagnosed mental illness. But maybe in a country that prides itself on individual liberty, we really don’t have a right to force others to be medicated against their will. There are some folks who think we should treat mental illness like a crime. I don’t, but I also acknowledge that some people won’t stay on their meds and they aren’t John the Baptist motivated by God’s spirit to share the gospel. Some of them are scary scary people and we need to have a discussion about what to do with that. Currently, if you call for help because you think someone might be developing schizophrenia and about to harm someone, you have to show that they really are an imminent risk to themselves or others. In essence, they have to mow down a church group before the police will act.

Notice that I’m sitting on the fence with this because I’m an individualist who has experience with both good people who are mentally ill and scary people who are mentally ill. I’m not sure what the answer is here and I suspect there is no “good” solution.

Racism is a swinging door. The first time I ever saw racism directed at me was not because I’m an American Indian and white folks don’t like Indians. It was a black man who had decided I was white and he didn’t want me in his shop. Racism doesn’t have a color. A traditionally ethnic church of any stripe might think its meeting separately because that’s how white folks want it, but in reality, in this day and age, they are meeting separately because they feel most comfortable with that. Guaranteed, if a group of any ethnicity showed up at 90% of traditionally white churches, nobody would turn them away and most might not even notice the color of your skin. Racism and reverse racism are not excuses for mowing down a church group, but it is certainly something churches need to consider. And, not just churches. Society as a whole exhibits this problem. When you’re pointing a finger at someone else as a racist, pay attention to how many fingers are pointing back at you.

Guns do not kill anyone by themselves. They are simply a tool. If we didn’t have guns, mentally ill people and racists would find other ways to kill people. Knives, gasoline bombs, cars, baseball bats, bow-and-arrow, hammers …. As a small woman, I’m not going to go mana a mana with a man swinging a baseball bat or wielding a knife. With a gun, I become his equal and therefore, equally able to protect myself and those around me. If you disarm me, you relegate me to the role of victim, leading to my death.

I know we don’t want to hear this. We want simple causes and simple solutions, but we don’t have those and until we accept that the issues are more complicated than we want to believe, we can’t hope to solve the problems.

When A Post Just Keeps Going   Leave a comment

I wrote this https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/when-seconds-count-cops-are-hours-away/ over a year ago and from time to time, I log in and see a bunch of people have visited it that day. I don’t know what triggers that, but it’s cool. A lot of the stuff I write here is an attempt to get people to think. I am not always sold on everything I write. I reserve the right to change my mind based on new experience.

But I won’t change my mind about guns. When I was in junior high school my 95-pound mother scares three large aggressive men away from our house by brandishing her 357. They went down the road and raped a classmate.

A woman was stabbed but not beheaded last week because a coworker had a gun. An armed society is a polite society. And if I can contribute to that understanding, that’s great.

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