What’s Changed?

Today I was asked:



Hi Tim, Today is the 10th Anniversary of Sandy Hook. Please address how little has changed since those 20 angels came to be.

It only took me a minute to realize that a proper answer required starting at a different point in history.

Yes, it’s been a decade.

Sadly, little has changed except things have become worse. Uvalde is far more recent.

Yet neither is the starting point of this era of gun violence or school campus shootings that began in April of 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado.

We’re averaging one mass shooting in America every 13 hours this year alone. There have been 628 such events — with at least 4 victims not including the shooter injured or killed by gunfire in a single incident — in the 348 days since January 1, 2022. Thirty-six of those events have been mass murders with at least 4 fatalities not including the shooter.

Guns have taken the lives of 1,584 American kids under the age of 18 so far this year, and injured another 4,293.

Another 17 days remain until the end of the year.

What has changed after each of these events, in the last two decades or so, is that most Republican led states have made guns easier to obtain both legally and illegally while also lowering requirements for licensure and training required for legal ownership; increasing the rates of gun violence at steadily alarming rates.

What has changed is that every damn day is the anniversary of another mass shooting event in this country.

If you want to help put an end to these injuries and deaths, support background checks even for private transfer of gun ownership, support licensing and proficiency training requirements, support red-flag laws, support mandatory state, local, national, and military law enforcement participation in a national database of domestic violence offenders and violent criminals who should not be permitted to own firearms, support mandatory charges for gun owners whose guns are left unsecured and unattended so others can use them in such attacks, support mandatory charges for gun owners whose firearms are used by children (even if deemed an accidental discharge).

No other course of action is going to alter the inertia of our culture of gun violence.

50 Days

In 50 days the members of the 2022 to 2024 congress will be determined.

As a result of Trump’s efforts with the 2020 census to undercount minority and immigrant communities, Republican states have greatly increased their gerrymandering efforts, and the Trump tainted Supreme Court bench has allowed those efforts to remain in place for this midterm election cycle, even while declaring many of them unconstitutional.

This means the House is likely to flip back to a Republican majority led by Kevin McCarthy as speaker, if the Republicans don’t go completely nuts and give it to someone like Marjorie Taylor Green or Matt Gaetz.

The Senate is a different story.

Democrats currently hold a tie breaking majority, on paper. But that majority is greatly hindered by Senators Manchin and Sinema. Both of whom will remain in place until after the 2024 elections.

This means they actually need to win at least 2 seats to hold a real, effective majority.

Meanwhile, the Republicans only need to gain a single seat to reinstate Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader. I guarantee that one of his first steps as leader will be to eliminate the ability for Democrats to filibuster any bill he wants to pass.

If Republicans, due to that gerrymandering that will likely secure the House for them, also gain a supermajority then they will be able to override any veto Biden attempts

There are also more than 35 gubernatorial seats up for election this cycle, along with an equally staggering number of Lt. Governorship, states’ Attorneys General, and Secretaries of State, and school board seats.  The importance of these offices cannot be overstated with the recent Supreme Court rulings on “States’ Rights” to religious oppression, election gerrymandering, denial of womens’ rights, and limiting/restricting health care access.

Do not let any of the hype about a “Blue Wave,” or “Roevember,” or insurrection backlash creating an enhanced turnout lull you into a sense of overconfident complacency.

Make a plan now.

Make sure you are registered. Make sure you cast and submit your ballot properly, whether in person or absentee. Make sure to help at least one other person do the same.

The Republicans have made it clear that the future of our democracy, all of our rights, all of our health, all of our education, many of our marriages, and quite a few of our lives are actually on the ballot this year.

Act accordingly.

You have 50 days.

This Is Our Fault.

When I was in Jr. High School in Gaithersburg, MD a classmate walked up behind me and held a knife to my throat during a multi-class science lab experiment.

He said he was going to kill me because of something one of his friends told him I had said about him. I had not said it.

Three teachers pretended not to see this happening because they didn’t want to get involved in an altercation with this known troublemaker.

I managed to survive the encounter.

When we were brought before the school principal, this kid was told to dispose of his illegal switchblade knife and was suspended for two days.

My parents were not informed by the school, they did not find out until I told them.

That’s when we got the police involved for aggravated assault charges.

At different points during their investigation this kid tried to kill his mother, himself, and at least one cop. He would spend several years receiving mandatory inpatient psychiatric care.

Meanwhile, his friends decided to jump me one day after school for “ratting on him.”

I did not win that fight.

I also did not lose it.

As a result, the school administration thought my own use of extreme violence in self defense — thanks to martial arts training — against multiple attackers who were close friends with someone who had already tried to kill me warranted the necessity of me receiving psychiatric counseling in order to be allowed to stay in school.

To this day, 4 decades later, I still cannot sit comfortably with my back to a room and ever vigilant threat assessment is automatic.

Thankfully, this — and extreme discomfort wearing a tie with the knot pressing on my throat — is the extent of my PTSD from these attacks which I endured in the 7th grade.

Today, we train preschool kids to look for their emergency exits on playground areas and to not only know, but practice, what to do when bullets start flying on campus.

There is no point in their public lives from that moment on that they are not dealing with the same situational combat awareness stress that makes it difficult for war-time vets to readjust to normal day-to-day life when returning home.

This is our fault.

Because we refuse to reasonably regulate the right to bear arms.

If that boy had a gun instead of a knife, I would have died in a 7th grade science class.

And now we also add the trauma of complete strangers attempting to harm them through anti-public safety protocols — refusing vaccines, social distancing, and masks — during a pandemic health crisis as they cough and sneeze on grocery produce and in small spaces with recycled air. They assault retail and food service workers and flight attendants for trying to enforce the rules. They stand outside elementary schools and scream profanities and threats at educators and kids who are just trying to survive the day.

It’s a miracle any of these kids remain functional.

Some days, I think it’s a miracle I do, and I had it much easier than these kids today.

300 Day Tally

As we begin today, Wednesday, October 26, we are starting the 300th day of 2016.  Due to the leap year, there will be a total of 366 days this year.  So with 299 days behind us, and 67 left to complete, it seems a perfect time to evaluate some numbers.

Readers that follow my page on Facebook already know about the work being done by the good people at  Gun Violence Archive.   For those that unfamiliar with it, they are attempting to collect the information on gun violence in the United States that our Congress has forbidden any government organization to track.

Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. GVA will collect and check for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then post and disseminate it online, primarily if not exclusively on this website and summary ledgers at www.facebook.com/gunviolencearchive. It is hoped that this information will inform and assist those engaged in discussions and activities concerning gun violence, including analysis of proposed regulations or legislation relating to gun safety usage. All we ask is to please provide proper credit for use of Gun Violence Archive data and advise us of its use.

GVA is not, by design an advocacy group. The mission of GVA is to document incidents of gun violence and gun crime nationally to provide independent, verified data to those who need to use it in their research, advocacy or writing.

 

As of 12:01 AM Central Time this morning, they had the following tally of this years gun violence incidents:

gva300

 

At this point, we need to break those numbers down to add some perspective:

 

  • On average, there has been over 155 gun related incidents every single day this year in the United States.
  • An average of 40 people die every day as a result of these incidents, while 83 more are injured.
  • Each day, over 10 of those injured or killed are under the age of 17, two of them, every day, are aged 11 or under.
  • There is a mass shooting, on average, at least once a day, at our current rate, by the time this year is over there will have been roughly 380 such events.   For tracking purposes Gun Violence Archive classifies any shooting in which 4 or more victims, not including the shooter, have been injured or killed.
  • Almost once per day, an law enforcement officer will be injured or killed in a shooting somewhere in the United States, while 5 suspects will be injured or killed by police officers firing upon them.
  • Over 6 home invasion related shootings occur on a daily basis along with 5 defensive use of a weapon shooting incidents.
  • More than 5 accidental weapons discharge incidents occur every single day.

There are things you can do to help.   Get involved with organizations like Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America; get out and vote for candidates and ballot initiatives that will enable universal background checks, elimination of straw-man loopholes for purchases, owner responsibility for crimes committed with their weapons, and requirements for guns to be properly secured in homes where children would have access  to them.

 

Finally, remember, two things, if a responsible gun owner is following the simple safety guidelines outlined by the National Rifle Association itself then there are no accidental shootings or unsupervised toddlers gaining access to unsecured weapons in their homes.   And if we accept that premise then each and every irresponsible gun owner should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.