Category: gun violence

Can’t the Subject Be Something Other than Guns?

By Charles Kiker

I am not obsessed with guns. But since the public conversation is so obsessed I feel that I, as a person of faith, should respond. In particular, I am responding to two legislative proposals in two different state legislatures.

First: a legislative proposal right here in the Lone Star State would allow students to carry guns on college campuses and in the classroom. I will be charitable in my characterization of that proposal as seriously misguided.

Widely accepted research into the development of the human brain informs us that the frontal lobe is not fully developed in young males until about age 25. Therefore they are more prone to rash and risky behavior. Insurance companies recognize this in their premium rates for automobile insurance for males under 25. (more…)

Tarantino calls America’s drug war the new slavery

By Alan Bean

Quentin Tarantino has definitely been reading Michelle Alexander.  Last month, while talking up his new movie, Django Unchained on a Canadian talk show, the controversial film director launched into a discourse on the American war on drugs:

Like most celebrities with a limited grasp of the issues, Tarantino garbles his facts a bit.  Most drug war prisoners aren’t held in private prisons and aren’t working for corporations who exploit prison labor.  This happens, to be sure, but it isn’t the typical scenario.   (more…)

Why the NRA opposes gun safety research

Dr. Art Kellermann

By Alan Bean

Art Kellermann, an ER physician and researcher at Emory University, crunched the numbers and discovered that “a gun kept in the home was 43 times more likely to be involved in the death of a member of the household than to be used in self-defense.”  The NRA was so concerned about the thrust of Kellermann’s research that they shut it down.  This isn’t about protecting the Second Amendment, it is about making the world safe for those who manufacture and sell firearms.  If you didn’t catch this piece on NPR this morning, please give it a look, or click on the link below and give it a listen.

Lack Of Up-To-Date Research Complicates Gun Debate

January 14, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden is getting ready to make recommendations on how to reduce gun violence in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. (more…)

Guns don’t kill people . . .

By Alan Bean

“Guns don’t kill people,” David Cole says, “indifference to poverty kills people.”

So long as the consequences of gun violence are born by poor black males, Cole believes, the nation will not pass meaningful gun regulation laws.

There are two obvious responses to Cole’s argument.  It has frequently been noted that most of the cities with high rates of gun-related homicide already have strict gun control laws.  But this only underscores the need for national legislation that discourages people from importing guns into urban neighborhoods.

The second quibble is even more obvious: if poor black males are using guns to kill one another that’s on them.  The only solution, this argument goes, is for young black males to use firearms more responsibly. (more…)

Gun legislation won’t do it; we need a twelve-step program

By Alan Bean

America has a gun problem, but gun control legislation is too weak a fix; we need a 12-step program.

Since the tragic shootings in Newtown CT, we have been buried in a welter of statistics.  Support for gun control is rising, we are told, but the polls vary as to the extent of the shift.  We are reminded that 60% of men but only 39% of women favor gun rights over gun control, and that Republicans (72%) are more likely than Democrats (32%) to place the priority on gun rights.

Those inclined to dig deeper into the figures recently compiled by the Pew Research Center will discover that support for both gun rights and gay marriage has been advancing in recent years, a sign that libertarian arguments are impacting a wide range of issues.

The Pew study also shows that whites are twice as likely as African Americans or Latinos to value gun rights over gun control.   Moreover, white opinion changed radically in the wake of the election of Barack Obama.  In 2007, 37% of white Americans valued gun rights over gun control; the figure is now 57%.  White opinion on the gun issue flip-flopped in the space of four years.

Americans are far more likely to own guns than anyone else on the planet.  Here in the USA, 88.8 out of 100 people own at least one gun, that’s almost one firearm per person.  In Canada, the rate is 30.8, in Germany its 30.3, and in France its 31.2.  But in most of the world, the rate of gun ownership is exceedingly low: (Mexico 15, Australia 15, Denmark 12, Israel, 7.3, England 6.2, Afghanistan 4.6, the Netherlands 3.9, Romania .7).  In North America, Americans own guns at three times the rate of Canadians and six times the rate of Mexicans.

Americans are also far more likely to use firearms to kill people.  In the United States the homicide by firearm rate is 3.2 per 100,000 per year.  In the rest of the developed world, the rate varies between 0.0 in Japan (where only 11 homicides were recorded last year) and Belgium at 0.7.  In Canada, the rate is 0.5, less than one-sixth the American rate. (more…)

Connecticut shooting rampage could be the worst yet

By Alan Bean

A shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school this morning has left 27 people dead, 18 of them children.

What is there to say?  We ask why anyone would want to carry two automatic weapons into a public place and start shooting.  There is no good answer to that question.  But we know that every so often somebody does just that.  The public place might be a theater, or a mall, but schools seem to have a particular attraction for young white men with guns.

The Connecticut outrage may be the worst such event in American history.  Unfortunately, that record won’t stand for long.

According to FOX news personalities it is tacky to argue for gun control in the wake of yet another tragedy.  We shouldn’t make important decisions while we’re still reeling in shock.  If people want to kill they will find a way.  After all, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

But the people intent on killing people make a much better job of it if they can get their hands on an automatic weapon.  I have no problem with the guy next door having a hunting rifle under lock and key, but there is no justification for any American civilian owning a weapon designed for killing lots of people quickly.

That’s all they’re good for.

And that’s why they should be banned.

Immediately.

Who made James Holmes do it?

I like the balance in this piece.  The NRA didn’t turn James Holmes into a killer.  The Tea Party is not to blame.  Batman didn’t make it happen and neither did the ACLU or the liberal churches of America.  When tragedy strikes, we want to make sense of things, we want to blame somebody.  But as the Joker explained to Batman in an earlier Dark Knight film: “some men just want to watch the world burn.”  AGB

Did Liberals Make James Holmes a Mass-Murderer?

Any suggestion that a cold-blooded killer is God’s agent to punish a wicked land is simply wicked.

By Greg Garrett, July 25, 2012

When tragedy strikes, we always, always, want to know why. If there’s a reason, some one to blame, then tragedy is not mindless.

It fits into a pattern.

It makes some kind of senseless sense.

Why did James Holmes shoot 70 people last Friday?

I don’t know why, and neither do you. The words of Alfred (Michael Caine) in The Dark Knight (2008) in relation to the Joker (Heath Ledger) have been bouncing around the Interwebs as we wrestle with the question: “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” (more…)

Time to ban assault weapons

Miguel De La Torre is professor of social ethics and Latino/a studies at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver and an ordained Baptist minister.  When I first read this piece a couple of days ago, I was shocked by its emotional tone and wondered why the horrific events in Aurora CO were affecting this guy so much more deeply than they affected me.  Was he a bit thin-skinned, or was I emotionally retarded?

When I realized that Dr. De La Torre’s children lost friends in the Aurora shooting everything snapped into focus.  This opinion piece originally was originally published by the Associated Baptist Press.  AGB

Time to ban assault weapons

By Miguel De La Torre

It has been a horrific day, and as I type these words the day is not yet over. I have shed tears. I have hugged my daughter closer. I have yelled and cursed God. I am emotionally spent. Still, I must capture this moment in words. Where the hell was God while innocent lambs were being slaughtered?

I don’t know, and, honestly, no response is satisfactory. Rhetorical Christian clichés and unexamined romanticized eschatological hope fall short. Maybe God simply was occupying the same space while God’s only begotten Son hung from a cross. (more…)

Is the Trayvon Martin case about race or guns?

IN an interview with CNN, Bill Cosby argues that the Trayvon Martin case is more about guns than race.  If George Zimmerman was scared and carried a gun to ease his fear, Cosby says, it doesn’t matter if he wasn’t a racist.  The question is, who taught him to be afraid, and who taught him that carrying a gun would solve his problem?   You can find a video of CNN’s interview with Cosby clicking here and scrolling down.

Mark Osler and Jeanne Bishop begin their CNN opinion piece by seconding Cosby’s motion.  They aren’t saying that racial profiling wasn’t involved in the Martin case; but Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is the big issue:  “This law is grounded in a factual error and a deeply flawed principle,” Osler and Bishop believe. “The factual error is that a proliferation of handguns makes us safer. The flawed principle is that somehow the right to bear arms needs to be enlarged to a right to resolve disputes with guns.”

Trayvon Martin case also about guns

Jeanne Bishop and Mark Osler

(CNN) — As criminal attorneys, we know that tragic cases very often bring festering social issues into public view. Bill Cosby was right: The Trayvon Martin case brings to the surface troubling questions not only about race but also about the role of handguns in our society. (more…)

Were the Tulsa shootings racially motivated?

By Melanie Wilmoth Navarro

As of yesterday, two suspects have confessed to the Tulsa, Oklahoma shootings that left two injured and three dead over the Easter weekend.  The two suspects — Jacob England, 19, and Alvin Watts, 32 — were arrested Sunday morning and confessed shortly after their arrest.

Late Thursday, According to the New York Times, England wrote an angry post on his Facebook page about the deaths of his father and fiancée:

Mr. England’s father, Carl, was shot on April 5, 2010, at an apartment complex…and the man who was a person of interest in the case, Pernell Jefferson, is serving time at an Oklahoma state prison.

Mr. England is a Native American who has also described himself as white.  Mr. Jefferson is black.

“Today is two years that my dad has been gone,” Mr. England wrote, and then used a racial epithet to describe Mr. Jefferson. “It’s hard not to go off between that and sheran I’m gone in the head,” he added, referring to the recent suicide of his 24-year-old fiancée, Sheran Hart Wilde. “RIP. Dad and sheran I Love and miss u I think about both of u every second of the day.”

Hours later, England and his roommate, Watts, drove a pickup through a predominately black neighborhood in Tulsa and started to randomly shoot pedestrians.  Mr. England admitted to shooting three of the victims and Mr. Watts admitted to shooting the other two.

Many within the Tulsa community believe the actions of England and Watts were racially motivated.

The city of Tulsa has a history of racial tension.  In 1921, the city was the site of one of the deadliest race riots in U.S. history.  The riots began when a young black man was arrested after he was accused of sexually harassing a white woman.  His arrest sparked a violent confrontation between the black and white communities.  According to documents from the Tulsa Historical Society:

In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters.  Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa.  Guardsmen assisted firemen in putting out fires, took imprisoned blacks out of the hands of vigilantes and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned.  Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased.  In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins.

Historians estimate that over 300 people were killed in the riot and more than 8,000 were left homeless.

Now, 91 years after the deadly riot, race relations in Tulsa remain rocky.  Many, including the Tulsa NAACP chapter and Tulsa City Council member Jack Henderson, want the gunmen to be prosecuted for a hate crime.

“Somebody that committed these crimes were very upset with black people,” said Jack Henderson, “That person happened to be a white person. The people that they happened to kill and shoot were black people — that fits the bill for me.”

Police officials and prosecutors, however, say it is still too early in the investigation to call the shooting rampage a hate crime.