Category Archives: Politics of Guns

The Sandy Hook Shooting Legacy – Six Months Later

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There have been 182 days since America woke up to the mind-numbing violence that erupted on Newtown, Connecticut. Six months have passed since politicians fell all over themselves trying to find the nearest camera, the nearest microphone to extend their deepest, heartfelt sympathies to the families of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School and to promise that they would do whatever possible to make sure that the senseless tragedy never occurred again. In that six months many things have happened, most showing the worst side of Americans, our unwillingness to work together to actually do something to reduce the senseless deaths, our willingness to write-off the lives of 10,000 Americans each and every year.

In that six months – just 182 days – we have over 5,000 more dead to add to the Butcher’s Bill, over 5,000 people whose future stopped cold because of gun violence. And this past six months were not exceptionally violent, not a spike in the “normal” course of murder, manslaughter, accidents and suicides. And it is that “normal” that is so appalling. We have, as a society allowed, each year over 10,000 people to die from gun violence and another 20,000 suicides with firearms to become an acceptable reality. And more important, it is the WHY we have allowed it that is so reprehensible.

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When any discussion of deaths, and ways to slow it down bubble to the top of the national zeitgeist Americans tend to step up with great support to do everything in our power to stop, or at least slow down the number of deaths. You cannot begin to count the number of organizations and grassroots groups who fight cancer, to stop its relentless killing. When a disease like Muscular Dystrophy cuts down children, society does everything it can to just make it stop. Since 1952 Jerry Lewis helped raise over $2,000,000,000 [that’s TWO BILLION] for research in MD cures.

When deaths from automobile accidents exceeded 50,000 per year in 1966, the public, government, and industry began to work on solving that deadly problem. They enacted legislation to require seat belts, to install collapsible steering columns, remove steel dashboards, make interiors of cars safer, redesign frames and bodies of cars to burn off the energy from a crash, rather than push all that energy to the occupants. As a result, with a population that has added 120 million, we have reduced deaths to under 33,000 per year and dropping. That success occurs as Americans now drive over 3,000,000,000,000 [THREE TRILLION] miles per year…three times what was driven in 1966. Further, because of the actions of MADD, deaths from drunk driving have fallen from over 60% to just over 35% in a 30 year period, due to a determined legislative and public perception campaign to stop drunks from killing on the highways.

MADD Drunk Driving Deaths crop

But the attitude about deaths from gun violence is strikingly different. Many Americans don’t react the same way to these thousands of deaths per year. They quickly respond “it happens” or “it is the price for freedom” or “guns don’t kill people, people do” or “gun owners are responsible”…all an attempt to rationalize that they care more about their hobby than they do about 30,000 lives a year being lost to gun violence. Now, they will scream Second Amendment to the top of their lungs but it boils down, by the end of each debate that they just don’t want changes to the status quo, don’t want to be inconvenienced by that additional 10 minutes required to do a background check on ALL weapon sales. They argue that gun owners are responsible, never mind that responsible gun owners have over 240,000 guns stolen from their homes and cars each year which end up in the black market; that hundreds of children a year are killed or wounded by guns that they fail to properly stow. And more irrationally they argue that their guns are to defend against a tyrannical government, and that the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, though they would be really happy if you would kindly ignore that whole “well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” part of the Second because it really, REALLY throws a curve ball into their argument.

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It has been a hard six month as we look at gun violence. Included in the over 5,000 killed by gun violence are attacks at 10 schools including Lone Star State and the University of Central Florida, and we have had spree killings throughout the country including Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Nevada.

Besides the two headline grabbing types of gun violence, 2013 has seen multiple deaths from multiple instances of domestic violence and family shootings. But the ones that seemed to hit the public hardest, those that were easily the most preventable involved kids picking up guns that their parents failed to stow. In April a six year old was shot and killed by a four year old in New Jersey – just two days after a four year old in Tennessee finds a deputy sheriff’s “unloaded” gun and kills the deputy’s wife. On May first, in Kentucky a two year old died from his brother’s “first gun”. One month later, tragedy was in Rusk, Texas. And in between a 15 year old is killed in Oklahoma when her little sister dropped her mother’s pistol on the kitchen counter top.

Those are seven instances of children dying from gun violence in the past six months. If I wanted to be thorough I would provide links to the 268 teens who have been killed or the 94 children under 12 who have died since Sandy Hook.

The response from those who support the intractable National Rifle Association’s position on guns are always the same…”It happens”, “Guns don’t kill people…” and the most appalling…”It is the price of freedom”. It is embarrassing that, in a 21st Century society we still have people who have such a disregard for life, that prefer a selfish, narcissistic approach that THEIR hobby is more important than the lives of 10,000 cut down by gun violence each year.

We as a society are better than this. We are better than the callous folks who just blow off unnecessary deaths because of their inconvenience and in reality an endless propaganda machine that is the NRA. The NRA has so brainwashed many of these folks with their constant “they are coming to get our guns” that the supporters simply kneejerk and parrot their responses rather than realize that the NRA is winding them up to get more and more money from them, to support their lobbying efforts for the gun industry.

NRA-Grip-on-Congress

In six months, Congress has done nothing. That’s not exactly true. Congresspersons have taken in millions of dollars from the NRA and its PAC the NRA/ILA for their re-election campaigns, monies supplied by the gun industry and members.

What they have not done, however is provide comprehensive, bipartisan solutions to begin to reduce the number of deaths from gun violence. As supporters of the NRA will tell you, gun deaths are down, and they are. What they won’t tell you is the drop began as the Brady Bill and later NICS were implemented. But, much like that annoying “well regulated Militia…” clause in the Second Amendment, facts get in the way of a good dose of fear and paranoia.

The Rise of Grassroots Action

And one last thing that seems to be very important in this past six months. While our Congresspersons have failed America, failed to build consensus solutions to save lives from gun violence, the public has shown that they have had enough. Grassroots campaigns and social media groups have banded together to push for solutions. When folks who support sensible gun laws lost one battle in April, where Congress could not even pass a simple bill to strengthen background checks so felons and the mentally ill can’t buy guns a funny thing happened.  They didn’t fold…in fact they strengthened and grew. From groups like Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns to Jim Brady’s Brady Campaign to Gabby Gifford’s Americans for Responsible Solutions to the very grassroots Occupy the NRA and It Can Happen Here and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the voices are getting louder, more organized, more united.

The voice is clear…We as a society are better than this. We will not stop until solutions are in place.

Previously Published 6/14 on LiberalAmerica.Org and ItCanHappenHere on Facebook.

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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


UPDATE: Santa Monica Shooting Spree – Four Dead, 1,300 Rounds of Ammo

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Yesterday we covered the breaking news story of a gunman loose in Santa Monica California, moving from scene to scene wreaking havoc and chaos with an assault rifle. More details of yesterday’s Santa Monica spree killings came at today’s 2:00 news conference. The best news was that the number of those killed by the shooter has been downgraded to four [plus the shooter], though the Santa Monica coroner has said he believe the number will rise do to severity of wounds of at least one other victim.

The Santa Monica shooter had 1300 rounds of ammunition…most of them .223 rounds loaded in 30-round magazines and were enough to start a small war, or at least kill dozens if not hundreds of people had he not been stopped just 13 minutes into his killing rampage by responding Santa Monica College and Santa Monica police officers.

Santa Monica 1300

He came prepared…rifles, at least one pistol and a couple of dozen of the loaded 30-round magazines. And it wasn’t cheap. 33 magazines cost about $1,000.00, the rifles $600-1200.00 and the ammo was another $780 for the PMC Bronze 55gr. Full Metal Jacket rounds shown at the Santa Monica Police Department press conference. In other words, he brought to bear over $3,000 worth of guns and ammo to the fight.
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He also brought to the fight years of stress and mental illness. Neighbors defined him as a “useless human” who was abusive toward his mother. Others said his family was torn apart by a divorce many years ago.

A law enforcement source told CNN on Saturday that the gunman had suffered mental health issues. He was hospitalized for treatment after talking about harming someone.

So now we have to start reviewing this from a view point, not of the tragedy that was unfolding but of how we can reduce the number of instances of senseless murder.

The most glaring issue is that this man, who would have turned 24 today had a history of mental illness. He had been committed at least once, though the details of by whom and for how long are not clear. In any circumstance, his name and condition should have been on a database that defined him as someone who should not be allowed weapons – or at least get a second look.

That brings us to three issues. First, we have continued to reduce the amount of money spent on mental health issues every year since Reagan. We can’t expect those with mental health issues to respond positively to more and more limited options.

Second, the question of universal background checks comes into play. Would a comprehensive safety net, one that included mental health data have stopped this shooter? If he had been required to undergo a check for the purchase of his weapons, would he have passed? If he had been required to go through the five minute check before buying 1,300 rounds of 223 assault rifle ammunition, would he have passed?

Third, if a flag had been raised based on both his mental health issues AND his intent to buy, would he have been able to prepare and execute this murderous rampage?

He may have run through the tests without a hitch, able to buy as much has his credit card would allow…but, on the other hand, he may have been stopped. Today he might have been sharing birthday cake with friends rather than laying in a morgue.

Opponents of universal background checks tend to kneejerk the answer “it wouldn’t help.” But they do that without knowing that it wouldn’t help, they do so because they don’t like regulations, not because of the rational requirements of providing a safer society. Those victims of mass murder, of spree killings, of domestic violence might just have a different answer than “it wouldn’t help.”

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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.


Spree Killing In Santa Monica…Four Reported Killed, Shooter Also Dead

Santa Monica shooting

Spree killing…it is the rolling, disorganized cousin of mass murders. It is usually a single shooter who moves from place to place shooting both intended victims and those just in the way as he works through the mission in his head, usually ended when he and a superior law enforcement presence end the spree.

Today it is in Santa Monica and an event that, as we type this spree killing has spread from a home to the streets to a bus to the library at Santa Monica College. Two hours into this spree the shooter, a white, male wearing a ballistic vest and carrying multiple weapons including an AR-15.

The shooter began at what is reported to be his father’s home and killed both his father and brother then setting the house on fire. He continued on the street, carjacking a car after shooting into several of them. From there he left the car, opened fire on a municipal bus and then headed to campus where he was met by SMC and Santa Monica police and was killed in the library.

It is, at this time unknown how many people have died. The count is known to be four but the Santa Monica police chief said “as many as half a dozen” plus the shooter.

In February, just 25 miles southeast of Santa Monica in Orange County another spree killing occurred, killing four and injuring three before the shooter turned the gun on himself.

The week before the Orange County event Chris Dorner, fired LAPD cop committed a spree killing over a week’s time.

On May 26th…less than two weeks ago Marine Esteban J. Smith, 23, stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina carried his murder spree from a hotel outside the camp by killing his wife and ended it in Texas by killing two and wounding five others with an assault rifle before being killed by a Texas State Trooper and a Texas Game Warden.

This article will update as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: From the 8:30pm PDT Santa Monica Police press conference, the number killed now stands at four plus the shooter rather than six plus the shooter.

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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.


Child Killed Every Other Day By Negligent Gun Owner’s Gun

Child shot Channel 18

The headline on Thursday said “Two year-old child finds gun, shoots himself in the face, is dead.” He was staying at his Rusk, Texas great-grandparents’ home because he had been taken away from his own parents for neglect and abuse. His great-grandparents were given the children by the Texas Child Protective Services so they would be safer. It did not work. His great-grandfather’s inanimate 9mm handgun got in the way.

Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell says “it was an accident.” Aren’t they all?

An extremely weak, but prevalent argument when discussing victims of gun violence is that they must have been in a gang, it must be drug connected, it is “those people”, but that really is not the case. It is not always criminals who are the participants in these murders – and that is what they are. The family says “we kept the guns locked up and today was no different” – well, yes it was – a two year old managed to break their cunning security plan, managed to get into the “locked bedroom” with an open door and to find the 9mm handgun sitting on the nightstand. These are the responsible gun owners who say again and again that they are not responsible for the gun violence that kills 10,000 and injures 10-20X that each and every year. But they are.

In researching this article I went to the database provided by Slate to see just how many children have been killed this year…and the number is 81 children from age 12 and under from January 1 – May 29, 2013. To put that in perspective, there were 112 “accidental” deaths by firearms from age 18 down in 2012.

If this year’s trend continues, the number of UNDER 12 will out pace last year’s UNDER 18 by 44%.

And that brings me to the point…with all the media attention that began after 20 kids were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School less than six months ago, with the media highlighting gun violence more than they previously have, with stories of kids being killed by their daddy’s gun on the media every other day – why has the message not been clear? Why have gun owners simply ignored the daily drum beat of examples of poor gun ownership and continued to leave their guns unlocked? Why have gun owners decided by  their actions that they have no need to be responsible, that “they” aren’t the problem.

Put more simply – why have gun owners answered the call to be the responsible gun owners that they say they are with case after case after case of negligent ownership that results in kids being killed at a rate of one every other day. Are these gun owners really that stupid or just so arrogant that they think that they could never, ever have this problem?

So, let’s take a look at the children under 12 years-old who have died this year, died from negligence by the gun owner in the home to properly stow their weapons or died by the hand of a parent to “protect them” from the future.

Children 12 and under killed in 2013 by gun violence

Date Name Gender Age City State
1/4/2013 Jonah Mendoza M 0 Ocala FL
1/4/2013 Kevin Hannah M 10 Tollhouse CA
1/8/2013 William Parris M 12 Pleasant Valley AL
1/9/2013 Jacob Ball M 5 Cambridge OH
1/12/2013 Steven Curtis M 12 Breckenridge MO
1/14/2013 Alexandra Brown F 10 Henry County OH
1/16/2013 Taylor Jade Cornett F 12 Hazard KY
1/19/2013 Angelina Griego F 2 South Valley NM
1/19/2013 Jael Griego F 5 South Valley NM
1/19/2013 Nevaeh Benson F 6 Cleveland OH
1/19/2013 Zephania Griego M 9 South Valley NM
1/21/2013 Travin Varise M 2 Baton Rouge LA
1/21/2013 Maximillian Walters M 5 Boulder City NV
1/22/2013 Trinity Ross F 4 Kansas City MO
1/23/2013 Jamarcus Allen M 4 Akron OH
2/1/2013 Tmorej Smith M 3 Greenville SC
2/2/2013 Mario Zavala M 11 Boynton Beach FL
2/2/2013 Austin Hughes M 11 Erwin TN
2/2/2013 Eduardo Zavala M 12 Boynton Beach FL
2/2/2013 Whitney Hughes F 12 Erwin TN
2/6/2013 Erick Perez M 2 Denver CO
2/6/2013 Nevaeh Morales F 6 Denver CO
2/9/2013 Braydion Scott Matlock M 3 Paducah KY
2/11/2013 Joshua Johnson M 4 Memphis TN
2/11/2013 Devin Aryal M 9 Oakdale MN
2/15/2013 Courie Cox F 12 Bazine KS
2/18/2013 Sebastian Swartz M 9 Decatur OH
2/20/2013 John O’Brien M 3 Garland TX
2/20/2013 Stefan Zuniga M 11 Miami FL
2/24/2013 Jaiden Pratt M 4 Houston TX
2/26/2013 Ashton Perry M 0 Preston CT
2/26/2013 Alton Perry M 2 Preston CT
2/27/2013 Tacari Danielle Briggs F 1 Newport AR
3/2/2013 Michael Richard Leland Easter M 3 Liberty MI
3/6/2013 Sharlea King F 11 Saginaw MI
3/11/2013 Jonylah Watkins F 0 Chicago IL
3/14/2013 Adam Bass M 0 Nashville TN
3/20/2013 Gabrielle Menefee F 3 Jefferson County AL
3/20/2013 Skyler Richardson M 10 Frostproof FL
3/21/2013 Antonio Santiago M 1 Brunswick GA
3/22/2013 Christian Velez M 12 Lake Nona FL
3/23/2013 Nazario Boykins M 2 Birmingham AL
3/23/2013 Michael Ayers M 2 Barree PA
3/24/2013 Christopher Stanlane Jr. M 10 Lumberton NC
3/26/2013 Scarlett Porter F 3 Tallahassee FL
3/28/2013 Joan Plumb F 11 Pinal County AZ
3/30/2013 Rahquell Carr F 4 Miami-Dade FL
3/31/2013 Roderick Paige M 4 Prichard AL
4/5/2013 Ryker Petersen M 0 American Fork UT
4/8/2013 Brandon Holt M 6 Toms River NJ
4/9/2013 Qui’ontrez Moss M 3 Sumter SC
4/12/2013 Gavin Brummett M 7 Salina KS
4/14/2013 Shayla May Shonneker F 9 Oregon City OR
4/15/2013 Dylan Samuel Peters M 1 Brooklyn NY
4/17/2013 Michael Bisbee M 8 Lapwai ID
4/20/2013 Cody R. Hall M 4 Donald OR
4/24/2013 Bradley Ralston M 1 Manchester IL
4/24/2013 Nolan Ralston M 5 Manchester IL
4/25/2013 Dalton Taylor M 10 Marengo OH
4/30/2013 Caroline Starks F 2 Burkesville KY
5/1/2013 Darrien Nez M 3 Yuma AZ
5/7/2013 Jadarrius Speights M 3 Tampa FL
5/7/2013 Shasta Miller F 4 Shingletown CA
5/7/2013 Shelby Miller F 8 Shingletown CA
5/8/2013 Kinsler Allen Davis M 2 Corsicana TX
5/11/2013 Jason Haley M 5 Denton TX
5/12/2013 Jarvan Jackson M 11 Lake City FL
5/13/2013 Brandon Vu M 10 Houston TX
5/14/2013 Sawyer Simpson M 5 Dacusville SC
5/14/2013 Carly Simpson F 7 Dacusville SC
5/17/2013 Gywan Levine, Jr. M 12 Jersey City NJ
5/18/2013 Elvira Campos F 10 Sacramento CA
5/18/2013 Gwyan Elijah Levine M 12 Jersey City NJ
5/19/2013 Gage Wilkinson M 12 Dayton NV
5/21/2013 Marcus White, Jr. M 1 Pittsburgh PA
5/21/2013 Maggie Hollifield F 10 Crozet VA
5/24/2013 Carter Scott M 1 Baltimore MD
5/24/2013 Keshawn Carter Davis M 12 Greenville TX
5/29/2013 Trenton Mathis M 2 Rusk TX
5/29/2013 Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan M 9 Stagecoach CO

Data by Slate and ShootFromTheLeftHip

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.


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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


NRA Goes Racin’ And Forgets To Check Rear View Mirror

Kyle Busch

NASCAR racing is a pretty closed sport…you either love it or hate it, follow it or not. This weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway it was different. In early March, the NRA, following two months of being pummeled by the press and public for a tone-deaf response to the massacre at Sandy Hook decided to sponsor itself a race. So, this weekend we had the NRA 500.

But it was different in two ways. First, an argument broke out in the infield of the race and a man decided to kill himself with a handgun. Second, and more significant [except to the family and friends of the dead man] was that Fox Sports seemed to bend over backwards to NOT use the name of the race. In every instance of the pre-race show and the race they referred to it as the Texas 500 or the Texas Motor Speedway 500.

First, to the death in the infield. At this time there are not many details but the basics are that Kirk Franklin, 42, of Saginaw, Texas got in to an altercation at the speedway during the race. He ended the altercation by shooting himself to death. Alcohol may have been involved.

Normally, and by that I mean over the past 30 years or so a hallmark of NASCAR races is the way that announcers and drivers do everything they can to repeat the names of the sponsors as many times as possible. It is not “fill up with gas”, rather “fill up with Sunoco Racing Fuel”. It is not “I want to thank my team”, rather “I want to thank the crew for setting up the awesome Dupont, Pepsi MAX, Quaker State, AARP Drive to End Hunger, Rick Hendricks Motorsport Chevrolet SS today for the Subway 500.”

The announcers have been particularly guilty as they work in any and all references to race sponsors, from the Sharpie 500 to the Kobalt 400 to the Budweiser Shootout. But it didn’t happen that way this weekend. This weekend the title – NRA 500 was not mentioned a single time. That extended to the pre-race, showing of logos and photo-ops.

At least two of the drivers were told not to mention the sponsor and to not be shown by the logos.

NRA 500 - Practice

To be fair, they also did not mention, or show up close video of the [takes a deep breath] Michael Waltrip Racing Number Fifteen Clint Bowyer Gander Mountain With Rights Comes Responsibility Secure Your Firearms Camry; and Michael Waltrip and his NASCAR champion brother Daryl were both part of the Fox Sports announcing team. This change in sponsor name dropping seems to have started with the broadcasters last week, when they didn’t readily promote the STP Gas Booster 500 by name, though they did promote the STP 500 next week in Kansas by name.

NASCAR itself has spent a month distancing itself from the NRA500 and the controversy that it created. Facing backlash in the sponsorship agreement NASCAR spokesman David Higdon spoke to ESPN where he said “in light of this weeks race, NASCAR will be examining its rules moving forward as to who can be allowed to sponsor races.”

The controversy took a national turn when Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asking that Fox network not broadcast Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race sponsored by the National Rifle Association. If the broadcast was any indication, it seems that Fox Sports did make a conscious decision to minimize NRA promotion.

In early December, 2012 Bob Costas jumped into the politics of gun violence with an extended comment during halftime of Sunday night football in the wake of the murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend and other shootings that had occurred. Conservatives jumped all over Costas and NBC for his introduction of the politics of gun violence into the world of sports…Four months later those same conservatives are jumping all over Fox Sports because they did not introduce politics into the world of sports.

That insular world of NASCAR opened up a bit this week, the outside world spilled into their lives as the bigger middle of America, that large group that is neither pro-gun nor anti-gun violence found their actions…well, tacky. The outside world questioned that they should have known better, that they should have been more sensitive to the zeitgeist of the nation rather than bring partisanship into the NASCAR world. But most of the outside world would be even more appalled to know that it was as late as 2004 when the Southern 500 finally caved to end its Rebel Flag waving showcase race.

Darlington-Southern-500-Confederate-Program

In the end, the controversy is on what was not said, what was not shown rather than what was. Oh, and Kyle Busch in the Number 18 Interstate Battery, M&Ms, Joe Gibbs Racing Camry took a bow with the Sunoco Checkered Flag™ for the first, umm NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch

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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.