Monthly Archives: May 2013

15 Year Old Killed With Unsupervised Handgun

There have been 146 days this year, New Year’s Day to Memorial Day. And in that time there have been at least 295 children and teens killed by gun violence in this country. Two a day…every day. And when we look at gun violence, whether it is gang violence, domestic violence or someone just having a really bad day with a gun, the very worst comes when we look at children killed by gun accidents in the home. Guns that should have been properly stowed, guns that have no place in the hands of children.

This Memorial Day weekend, in the small town of Tucker in far eastern Oklahoma, between Tulsa and Fort Smith a young girl was killed in her home. Everything known suggests that she died due to a horrible accident. One that involved a gun.

Saylor Martine

Her name was Saylor Slone Martine and she was 15.

LeFlore County Sheriff Rob Seale said Saylor Slone Martine and her 12-year-old sister were handling a Ruger 380LCP, 380-caliber semi-automatic handgun when one of the girls placed the gun on a counter. It went off. The hows and the whys that happened are still being investigated but it is thought that the two girls had their mother’s gun which had the magazine taken out as a safety precaution. What many unfamiliar with semi-automatic handguns don’t realize is that, even with the magazine out the gun can be fired if a round had been chambered. So a simple act of pulling the trigger on a gun that is “thought” to be unloaded will, in reality fire that last round already loaded. And that is all it takes. All it takes to change the lives of everyone involved.

What can we learn from this senseless death?

First, handguns are the responsibility of adults, should not be out, should not be lying around, and should not be played with by the kids.

Second, guns in the home should be properly stowed so that only the adults can retrieve them, keeping them from playing hands, keeping them from the untrained, keeping them from criminals that might take an opportunity to steal a gun.

And third, all too often the comments from the local sheriff or police are that “the parent stepped out of the room for just a minute.” People in this country have a right to own firearms, a right to protect themselves and their family. But with that right comes responsibility. And part of that responsibility is always knowing where your gun is, its firing condition and who could be around it. Not “most” of the time or away for “just a minute”…all the time.

Only then will we be able to reduce the number of children killed by that “tragic accident” that occurred because someone was not paying attention. It is hard, it is harsh but it is a rule that must be followed all the time. Be responsible for your gun. Too many children pay the price of gun owners who fail to follow that simple rule.

____________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Who Arms America’s Gangs? – “Responsible” Gun Owners

168294.ME.1006.Vagos.IK

When we talk about death by gun violence, it is very easy to fall into one of two traps, either cover all gun violence deaths under the same blanket or to only look at the results of gun violence from those types that are media friendly. Gun violence comes from a myriad of sources, from kids finding daddy’s gun to spree killing to mass murder to domestic violence to gang violence. Solutions cannot be found under one blanket, where one size fits all…the solutions, and the causes of the problems are disparate, and from that we look at the different types of gun violence that results in death.

Gang violence has been a part of this country’s history since the early 1800s, from the early Irish gangs of New York, where it was estimated that 55,000 immigrants held allegiance to gangs in 1855 [out of a total population of 550,000] to the Italian gangs that began in the early 20th Century and the rise of small gangs during Prohibition. American history, both academic and popular is riddled with the famous and their Hollywood counterparts, intertwined…Capone, Gambino, Bonny and Clyde, Lucky Luciano, Godfather, Goodfellas, Sopranos.

And they have splintered further, Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, Devil’s Disciples, Vice Lords, Triads and they cross every ethnic line, from Irish to Italian to Mexican to Russian; white, black, Latino, Asian.

And that brings us to the 21st Century, gangs represented by nearly all ethnic groups, by drug cartels, by the disenfranchised, the mean. It is reported that gang violence accounts for over 50% of ALL violent crime in this country. The FBI reports that 800 murders are committed by gangs, both “gangland” and juvenile gangs each year and that another 800 murders are committed by drug interactions.  All in all, gang murders account for about 15% of the 10,000 murders committed with guns in this country. [FBI Uniform Crime Report]

So, where do gang members get their guns? With many having some criminal record and their names flagged on NICS background check systems, how do the estimated 1.400,000 gang members in this country get armed up?

Turns out, the legal, responsible gun owner is mainly responsible for arming up the gangs of America. How? Several ways, including, but not limited to leaving guns unlocked that get stolen [about 240,000 each year] to selling them at gun shows and on the internet to those who have cash in hand and where no questions are asked.

Earlier this month WTVF, Nashville completed an investigative report of gang members in jail and how they got their weapons. Jonathan Gutierrez, serving a life sentence for murder in Tennessee when asked where he got his guns told reporters “Most of the weapons that were used were coming from the gun show.” Further he said that, at age 15, he and other gang members went to local gun shows with cash and were easily able to buy four to six guns each visit.

“Anybody will sell you a gun,” Gutierrez said. “I mean no matter what, if you want a gun and you show them the money, and tell them you want to buy it, he’s going to definitely sell it to you.”

Now, does this mean we blame the gun owners for the violence that those guns in the hands of criminals do? Not directly…but gun owners do hand a lot of weapons to gang members.

Put another way, if, every year you handed 240,000 guns to five-year olds and left them unsupervised, THEY would be responsible for pulling the trigger but it would be that person that made the gun available who would hold ultimate responsibility. The same goes for those who sell guns without background checks; who sell them to straw purchasers; who don’t lock up their weapons and have them stolen. With every right comes responsibility. And, like it or not, it is our responsibility as gun owners to make sure OUR weapons do not end up in the hands of criminals.

We have to face the facts that criminals don’t buy retail. They steal guns, they buy stolen guns, they buy perfectly legal guns from “responsible” gun owners at gun shows, they use straw purchasers to buy guns, and they buy from federally licensed dealers who know that the chance of the ATF inspecting them is near zero because of ATF budgets. They know the weaknesses in the system and they exploit them. And we as a nation pay dearly for that in loss of life, in costs for Emergency Rooms, in law enforcement costs associated with the thousands of deaths and injuries each and every year because of illegal guns.

But the saddest part of this, gun owners blow it off, ignore the responsibility that they hold refuse to tighten the filters, making it harder for criminals to get guns. Gun owners have said they don’t want to be bothered with the 10 minute background check that would be helpful and they don’t feel it is their responsibility to lock up their weapons away from criminals, away from kids. So the deaths will continue as long as “responsible” gun owners prove yet again that they really are not.

____________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip


Nevada Spree Killing Leaves Five Dead On Mother’s Day Weekend

Nevada spree killing

Sometimes murders are big, media events…lots of bodies, photo opportunities, a chance for network folks to go “in the field” to cover the tragedy. Other times they are single murders, on the streets of Chicago or Louisville or San Francisco and they don’t even make a blip on the national radar.

Then there is this one…a spree killing with five victims, spread out over four days that made no news anywhere. Today they found and arrested the suspect and the details of the spree is coming to light.

On May 10, the Friday before Mothers Day Robert and Dorothy Pape, both 84 were killed in their home in Fernley, Nevada. They were not found until Monday.

On Monday, May 13, the suspect took the Papes’ truck that he had stolen, along with jewelry and headed to the Mustang Ranch brothel. The truck broke down and as a passerby came up, the suspect killed him as well, stealing his car. 52 year old Eliazar Graham was delivering newspapers when he was gunned down and left on the side of the road.

The suspect then went back to Fernley and killed 69 year old Lester Leiber and his 67 year old friend Angie Duff, less than 100 yards from the first two killings.

The suspect, 25 year old Jeremiah Bean is facing charges of open murder with a deadly weapon, arson, burglary, robbery, ex-felon in possession with a firearm, and grand larceny.

So, five people killed in four days and the national news…nothing. That speaks volumes about the state of gun violence in this country that this story would not scream headlines.

_______________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at his blog Shoot From the Left Hip or his Facebook page Shoot From the Left Hip.


The NRA, Kids, Paranoia and Maginot Line Home Defense

National Rifle Association Annual Meeting in St. Louis
The juxtaposition of the killing of a two year old in Kentucky this week with the NRA Convention in Houston provided the NRA the opportunity to strongly get behind the concept of child safety when it comes to firearms. It gave them the opportunity to show that they had a mature, reasoned, thoughtful idea of what to do to protect children from gun violence.

I know it will come as a surprise to many of you but apparently the NRA chose the “Hold my beer and watch this” approach, with marketing to kids in the forefront and seminars that continue to foster the paranoia of marauding hordes of home invaders.

Think Progress managed to snag a video of one of the vendors at the NRA Convention as he gave a home defense seminar. Again, I know it is a surprise but he has a shaved head, goatee and dressed in black…official uniform of the gun enthusiast.

From Think Progress we have a transcript of much of his position that it is just an awesome idea to keep a weapon in a safe in your children’s room.

Rob Pincus lg

PINCUS: How about putting a quick-access safe in your kids’ room? […] Good idea or bad idea? We have an emotional pushback to that. Here’s my position on this. If you’re worried that your kid is going to try to break into the safe that is in their bedroom with a gun in it, you have bigger problems than home defense. [Laughter] If you think that the kid who’s going to try to break into the safe because it’s in their room isn’t sneaking into your room to try to break into stuff, you’re naive and you have bigger problems than this. So let’s settle that issue and think about it. In the middle of the night, if I’m in the bathroom or getting a glass of water or in the bedroom or watching TV in the living room, if that alarm goes off and the glass breaks and the dog starts barking, what’s the instinct that most people are going to have, in regards to, “am I going to run across the house to get the gun, or am I going to run over here to help the screaming kid?” And if I’m going to go to the kid anyway, and I have an extra gun and an extra safe, why not put it in their closet?

You can hear all the words in this video. [link]

Now, about those quick action safes and kids – you know where the speaker says “If you’re worried that your kid is going to try to break into the safe that is in their bedroom with a gun in it, you have bigger problems than home defense.” Yeah…about that.

If you want to see a three year old kid pop the most popular “quick-access safes”…here you go [link]. What do you think a curious eight year old will do? Or a 12 year old?

But this brings up questions, philosophically, practically and tactically.

Philosophically and practically, the question revolves around just how prepared a person needs to be to protect his home and family from the extremely rare home invasion. There are no official statistics that define what a home invasion is or how many occur, but it is common for robbery and domestic violence to be included in home invasion discussions, more likely if the writer is trying to show just how many there are, usually for his profit.

I have spoken with police commanders and other government folks about this and the overriding opinion is that “if you really think you are going to get your home invaded, you are likely doing something else to make that happen, selling drugs, receiving stolen property, and stuff like that”. In other words, your likelihood of being a victim of home invasion is based on the likelihood that you do things that draw bad people to your home.

Now, that is a generalization based on the observations of some cops in urban and rural areas and having read news stories about reported events. There are genuine home invasions, unprompted by environmental conditions and they deserve attention, the victims deserve the right to protect themselves and their family.

That brings us to responsibility…how do you SAFELY and RESPONSIBLY protect your family and home without stepping over that edge into paranoia? How do you keep your family safe without also endangering them with guns strewn all over the house – “just in case”?

Now, tactically, and this is the one that bothers me – stowing a gun in the children’s room to be quicker at getting to a weapon. The question becomes – does the gun owner risk bringing the potential gun battle into the children’s room where they are in Harm’s way?

Or does John McClane believe he will be able to get to the kid’s room, make safe the kid, extract the weapon from its safe and then move to his more battle hardened Maginot Line?
2582187_9a81a1e2-7ae7-11e2-beb1-00151780182c

What we have in this seminar, and in many gun discussions around the country is the concept that the homeowner should never be over a few seconds from his gun. Many gun owners acknowledge carrying a weapon in their home during normal family time. Many acknowledge stuffing guns in out of the way places like between couch cushions to have one ready. At what point does this level of fear, rationalized as “being prepared”, that chaos is only moments away override reason and make a home less safe rather than more safe?

I want to be clear; I have ZERO problems with folks protecting their home and family, whether with alarm systems which light up the place and blare until turned off, a family dog or a firearm [or a combination]. Most cops say that if you have an alarm system that cranks up bad guys will find a different place to be stupid.

But I have big problems with the current gun culture that says that you should keep guns everywhere, carry them all the time, be hyper-vigilant for the extremely rare instance when chaos comes calling. The problem is shown in incidences just this past six months. Cop showing guns to neighbors at parties…kid grabs it and shoots, kid finding gun in granny’s backpacksix year old kid “playing” with his own rifle…kids playing in the yard, one goes in, gets a gun and shoots his friend. In the gun culture mind it is not necessary to properly stow your weapons because that might be the five seconds you need to stop that marauding horde.

If only as much thought was put into safety as is into the planning for that horde, that coming apocalypse. But it is not, because that doesn’t sell more guns, doesn’t drive the addictive urges that the gun culture fosters.

________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Just Another Child Killed…Move On, Nothing To See Here

boy with rifle

Another child shot and killed another child yesterday. She was at least the 220th child or teen killed by gunfire this year. 60 of them under 12. Her name was Caroline Starks and she was TWO and lived in the sleepy little rural community of Burkesville, Kentucky. Her five year old brother took his new gift, a $100 youth model Crickett 22 caliber rifle and shot her. Her mother, who was home at the time said that the gun was “kept in the corner”.

Crickett my first rifle

There is obvious sadness in that home right now, the death of a child is horrific. The Cumberland County Sheriff says it was “Just one of those crazy accidents.” No, no it wasn’t. It was negligence and stupidity.

One law that is on the books now, and has been since 2005 regards locking mechanisms for guns, sometimes trigger locks, sometimes cable locks which are shipped from the manufacturer with each new gun. The folks at Crickett built in a mechanical lock for the gun [see video].

I have written about this before…six times just this year, just 10% of the deaths from gun violence. If you need reminded, there was the boy in New Jersey who killed his friend [link], the boy who grabbed a deputy sheriff’s gun and killed the deputy’s wife [link], the Tennessee kid who killed himself in March [link], and the list goes on [link].

The constant is that this shooting will be thrown aside just like the rest. The 60 kids under 12, from 29 states will be ignored because they are not multi-day media circuses. There is not a convenient way for the national media to bump up their ratings by focusing on these little deaths. Anderson Cooper will not jet to Burkesville Kentucky, Fox will not have it the subject of their talking heads, NBC will give it 30 seconds. Even the local newspapers and television stations will not speak of it within a week.

So they will continue to just die. Gun enthusiasts, who believe their right to own firearms is more important than the right for someone to continue to live will say “It happens” or “It is the price of freedom” or that “we have enough common sense regulations right now”. Sure they will say they are sorry it happened. But what they won’t say is that they will step up and actively work on a solution to make sure it happens less and less and less. And so the kids will just continue to be killed.

Gun enthusiasts will continue to blame everyone but the gun, politicians will continue to bury their head in the sand, hoping they don’t have to answer yet another question about gun violence and society will just turn their head away, hold their breath and say a prayer, glad that it was not their child killed…this time.

We used to be better than this.

_________________________________________________________

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.