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News, discussion and analysis on US gun laws

Gun virus

By Ron Molen, Letter to Editor of The Salt Lake Tribune

It is interesting to observe our nation gear up for the onslaught of the swine flu virus. The medical profession provides leadership, an organization is in place to mount a defense, most people accept recommended precautions, and a responsible U.S. government cooperates with other nations to halt a potential pandemic.

In contrast, we know the gun virus kills 30,000 Americans every year, yet the recommendations of the medical profession are flipped off and leadership is usurped by National Rifle Association gun addicts. There is no bureaucracy to regulate the proliferation of guns, and citizens are expected to survive on their own or buy a gun and be willing to shoot to kill.

Citizens of every other advanced nation, where guns are tightly controlled, are stunned by the spineless politicians of a self-proclaimed superpower who are afraid to confront the NRA and halt the epidemic of gun deaths that strike 82 Americans every day.

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Filed under: Comment on Gun Violence, Letter To Editor

Gun on the street and its havoc

by Junling Hu

Today, a 9-year-old was shot to death where she was playing on the street in York, Pennsylvania. She was a bystander in a drive-by shooting.

When I read the news, “girl, 9, shot to to death in York”, I thought it was York in England. But, wait, you normally don’t hear about shooting in England. Then I read closer: A neighbor said he frequently hears gunshots outside at night.”Frequent gunshots”? This sound even more like America. Only in America, assault-weapon ban was not implemented and limiting gun flow to criminals were considered as controversial.

Whenever drive-by shooting happens, we blame the “gang”, never the “gun”. Without guns, how can gangs wreak such havoc on the street? Gang is a world-wide phenomena among young people in every country. While they are wielding knives in European countries, their counterparts are waiving machine guns on the street of US. Is that our pride or our shame?

How many more 9-year-old have to die before we look at our gun policy? It is time to completely close gun show loophole and to renew assault weapon ban.

Do we really love gun or just a small group of people love gun? Only 25% of people own guns in this country. That means 75% people do not own gun or want to have anything to do with guns. Among these one quarter of people who are gun owners, how many hold the extremist view that we should not ban assault weapon? How many are absolutely against tracking and preventing gun fall into criminal’s hands? Unfortunately these small extremist group is vocal that their drown out rational voices.

We need not watch senseless death happening in front of us every day. Too many 9-year-olds have died on the streets. The gun lobby and gun industry has blood on their hand if they continue this blind pursuit for money and power.

Filed under: Assault weapon, Comment on Gun Violence

Gun violence is more serious plague than swine flu scare

By Cynthia Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The deadly contagion is spreading, striking down young and old, well-heeled and downtrodden, sophisticates and illiterates. Last year alone, the affliction killed thousands in Mexico and even more in the United States.

Not swine flu. Gun violence. While federal and state authorities are preoccupied with preventing a swine flu pandemic from overwhelming the United States, the epidemic of gun violence rages on, unabated and little noted.

Last Saturday, George Zinkhan III, a well-respected University of Georgia professor, took two handguns to a community theater and killed his wife, Marie Bruce, and two of her theater colleagues while wounding two others, police said. Zinkhan left his 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son in his car while he went on his bloody rampage, according to authorities. Then, he dropped the children off at a neighbor’s house —- he explained he had an emergency —- and fled, police said.

Don’t expect that this latest mass killing will arouse any more outrage or prod any more public action than those that preceded it. In March and April, gunmen of curious motive and deranged sentiment opened fire in a nursing home, a community center, their own homes and public spaces, killing family, friends and strangers.

Among the lowlights of this savage spring were the murders of two children of Devan Kalathat, who shot them and three other relatives before he killed himself; the murders of five children of James Harrison, who killed them before committing suicide; and the murders of the daughter and nephew of Kevin Garner, who, similarly, killed his estranged wife, his sister and the children before turning his gun on himself, law enforcement officials said. The shootings produced outpourings of grief and outbursts of anger but few calls for tighter gun laws.

In fact, state legislatures in the South, including the Georgia General Assemly, have recently loosened laws that deal with weapons in public places. In Georgia, gun owners with concealed-carry permits may now take their firearms into state parks, onto public transit and into many bars and restaurants.

Moreover, the sales of firearms and ammunition have soared over the last several months, sparked by the election of President Barack Obama and the belief that Democratic control of the White House and Congress will lead to restrictions on gun ownership. It’s a strange notion with absolutely no basis in fact.

Witness Obama’s tepid response to Mexican authorities who pleaded for help in stopping the flow of deadly firearms from the United States into the hands of drug thugs.

After Attorney General Eric Holder suggested the Obama administration might push to reinstate the ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004, the White House received a letter signed by 65 craven Democrats insisting that the president leave assault weapons alone. Obama agreed to do nothing.

We have an odd way of assessing risks. While swine flu may yet emerge as a full-scale pandemic, it hasn’t proved especially lethal so far. Even in Mexico, where public health facilities are not as well developed as in the United States, the death toll has crept past 150 but hasn’t claimed lives on the scale of drug-related gun violence.

Yet, swine flu has prompted the travel industry to brace for a panic; pharmacies report a run on supples of antivirals such as Tamiflu; and the news media have hurriedly produced new catchphrases for their round-the-clock swine flu reportage. President Obama has dispatched Cabinet-level advisers to assure Americans that his administration is doing everything necessary to prevent the spread of the disease.

If only we could muster half that hysteria over gun deaths.

Cynthia Tucker is editorial page editor. She can be reached at cynthia@ajc.com. See original editorial at ajc.com

Filed under: Comment on Gun Violence, Editorial

A Culture Soaked in Blood

By BOB HERBERT, NY Times Op-Ed —

Philip Markoff, a medical student, supposedly carried his semiautomatic in a hollowed-out volume of “Gray’s Anatomy.” Police believe he used it in a hotel room in Boston last week to murder Julissa Brisman, a 26-year-old woman who had advertised her services as a masseuse on Craigslist.

In Palm Harbor, Fla., a 12-year-old boy named Jacob Larson came across a gun in the family home that, according to police, his parents had forgotten they had. Jacob shot himself in the head and is in a coma, police said. Authorities believe the shooting was accidental.

There is no way to overstate the horror of gun violence in America. Roughly 16,000 to 17,000 Americans are murdered every year, and more than 12,000 of them, on average, are shot to death. This is an insanely violent society, and the worst of that violence is made insanely easy by the widespread availability of guns.

When the music producer Phil Spector decided, for whatever reason, to kill the actress, Lana Clarkson, all he had to do was reach for his gun — one of the 283 million privately owned firearms that are out there. When John Muhammad and his teenage accomplice, Lee Malvo, went on a killing spree that took 10 lives in the Washington area, the absolute least of their worries was how to get a semiautomatic rifle that fit their deadly mission.

We’re confiscating shampoo from carry-on luggage at airports while at the same time handing out high-powered weaponry to criminals and psychotics at gun shows.

There were ceremonies marking the recent 10th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School, but very few people remember a mass murder just five months after Columbine, when a man with a semiautomatic handgun opened fire on congregants praying in a Baptist church in Fort Worth. Eight people died, including the gunman, who shot himself. More on NY Times

Filed under: Comment on Gun Violence, Editorial

Have We Reached the Tipping Point on Guns?

By Cenk Uygur, Host of The Young Turks

How many shootings do there have to be in the news before we wonder about the wisdom of allowing just about anyone to get a gun in America? Our gun culture is completely out of control.

In just the last two days we have had 13 people killed in Binghamton, NY with a 9 mm and a .45-caliber, three police officers shot and killed in Pittsburgh with an assault rifle and two other guns, and a five children killed with a shotgun in Washington at the hands of their own father. How many will it take before we say enough is enough?

How about the eight people killed in a nursing home in North Carolina a couple of days before these shootings? How about the ten killed in Alabama a couple of weeks earlier? Is there any point when gun rights advocates would admit that we have too much gun violence in America? What will it take for them to acknowledge the most obvious thing in the world?

Of course, their answer is that we don’t have enough guns in the country. If we just allowed concealed weapons at schools, nursing homes, work, bars, airports and just about anywhere else you can imagine, then we would have less gun violence. Yes, maybe in bizzaro world, but in this world the more guns we have had in this country the more people have been shot … with guns.

The Washington case is a good example. Would that father really have been able to kill his four young daughters and his young son without a shotgun? Maybe, it’s happened before. But it would have been a hell of a lot harder and hell of a lot less likely. And what would have been the NRA alternative fix here – arm the kids?

I know it’s a political impossibility, but we need to reign in the permissive gun culture in America. I’ve gone to a shooting range several times. I get the allure of it. It’s fun and empowering. Until someone gets their head blown off. It’s madness that almost anyone can stroll into a Wal-Mart and walk out with a deadly weapon. Guns should be the hardest things to get in America, not the easiest.

So, will a sizeable group of politicians have the courage to step up and demand tighter regulations of firearms in this country after all of these shootings? Have we reached the tipping point? And if not, what will it take? How many more mass murders do we have to go through before we realize how crazy this is?

Filed under: Comment on Gun Violence