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Gun Culture USA

The senseless American culture of gun violence: I wrote the below post a few years ago and a quick check of the stats today shows the acceleration as I expected.

The statistics:

Mass shootings:

There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.

Source: Mass Shooting Tracker


School shootings: 

There were 64 school shootings in 2015, according to a dedicated campaign group set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut in 2012. Those figures include occasions when a gun was fired but no-one was hurt.

Source: Everytown for Gun SafetyResearch


All shootings: 

Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured [those figures exclude suicide]. Those figures are likely to rise by several hundred, once incidents in the final week of the year are counted.

Source: Gun Violence Archive


How the US compares: The number of gun murders per capita in the US in 2012 – the most recent year for comparable statistics – was nearly 30 times that in the UK, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with just 0.1.

Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK.

Source: UNODC.


The recent tragedy in New Orleans with a beloved Saints player being killed is a perfect example for people to wake up but they won’t.  Road rage between two huge men, one a professional football player and the other semi-professional. Exactly the kind of people who do not need to carry guns around. If they had no guns then there might have been a fist fight or brawl but no one would be dead. A father would still be there to see his children grow up. I don’t care who was right or wrong in the minor fender bender that supposedly precipitated the event. No one needed to lose their life and no one needed guns in those circumstances. The coach of the Saints said it best in his heartfelt plea. He said “I hate guns”.  Me too, Mr. Payton.


Here is my post from 2012: Little change and still heart broken….


Newtown, CN s

School shooting commentary and stats on guns in USA.

I can’t stop thinking about the little souls in Newtown. From what I read I am not alone. Hopefully this is a good thing because these tragedies have happened a lot in the last few years and we always seem to mourn for a few days then mostly move on as the horror fades.
This time I hope for a real dialogue, a short one because what I truly want is real and meaningful action to address the problem of guns and also mental illness.
It seems we just survived a very divisive election and now we are confronted with this. I feel the same vitriol in this divide. It is political and should not be and yet it must be at the same time. Here is what I think and feel free to defriend me, I won’t be hurt.
Perhaps it is a paradox but I, myself, would never own a gun and never hunt, I admit to being repulsed by it but on the other hand, I have many family and friends who do and I have reconciled that with the fact that I do believe in the right to defend oneself and I also think if a person wants to hunt and they are responsible and eat what they kill then I have no problem with it. Since I go buy my meat at the butcher I can’t really complain and I won’t.
But I have absolutely no concept of how or why we would ever need assault rifles in anything other than the military. Or hollow point bullets. If there is some logical reason please tell me.
And why would this Mother have these guns and take her son to the shooting range when she surely knew his mental health issues?
I am so sick of hearing the one liners and clichés like ‘guns don’t kill, crazies do’ and ‘if we take away guns only the crazies will have guns’ and all the other ridiculous variations and bumper sticker blasts. People who use the word ‘crazy’ in that format tell me all I need to know about them and obviously have no understanding or compassion for mental illness.
I have my own stats and I think they are better than clichés, they speak louder and are harder to argue with.
Here are just a few:

A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populous nations combined.
Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids killed by guns are American kids.

Number of Murders, United States, 2010: 12,996 Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775

Number of Murders, Britain, 2011*: 638
(Since Britain’s population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 3,095 US murders) Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2011*: 58 (equivalent to 290 US murders)

Between 1955 and 1975, the Vietnam War killed over 58,000 American soldiers – less than the number of civilians killed with guns in the U.S. in an average two-year period.

In the first seven years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the U.S., however, every seven weeks.

Guns were used in 11,078 homicides in the U.S. in 2010, comprising almost 35% of all gun deaths, and over 68% of all homicides. The risk of suicide increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked.

People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when they live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns. On average, states with the highest gun levels had nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun levels.

The percentage of people killed with their own guns or guns of someone they knew– When I worked in Battered Women’s Services it was around 80%. I couldn’t find a stat on this today. But to illustrate, if I am angry I might get in my car and head for the back roads, and SCREAM!! But a person with anger management or other mental health issues will grab a gun if they know where one is. Oftentimes it is just to threaten or scare someone but just as often it goes horribly wrong.

Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.

What bothers me the most about all of this is that so many of us are actually on the same side. Like politics, I have never understood why so many people vote against their own self-interests. The only conclusion I can draw is that they fall for the scare tactics and one- liners and dare I say it –don’t bother to take the time to read and educate themselves. The dumbing down of our society is appalling.
Let me be clear, most people who are for gun control, like myself, do not want to take away your guns or stop you from hunting. We want to take away assault weapons and those clips with multiple bullets and have better checks on people who are allowed to purchase guns. Responsible gun ownership. Jane Smiley wrote a great commentary on Huffington Post that was full of new ideas (to me) about how this might be accomplished.
And along the same lines, it greatly distresses me that the same people who do not want gun control are the ones who vote against more funding to address mental health issues.
Yesterday I saw the news that some stores pulled assault weapons off their shelves and then even more heartening I saw that CA Teacher’s Union was reconsidering their investment portfolio in order to make sure they did not have stock in any company that did business with gun manufacturers. Personally I have done this for years but was happy to see it even if a little sad to realize that money talks the loudest as usual. Segue to the NRA and I definitely think they perpetuated this whole gun culture in many ways but I will leave that issue for another day. I thought maybe they had grown a conscience when I heard they went dark but I guess they were just out buying more assault weapons.
Just when I was lifted yesterday by this news I then see the headline that ‘assault weapons are flying off the shelves’.
Most horrific and terrifying thing for me is how to put the genie back in the bottle. Even if we banned assault weapons how do we get back the ones already out there? I have no solution, only more tears.
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The Constitution is Alive!

What is the proper amount of time to mourn someone you actively disliked? Of course I am talking about Justice Scalia but my grandma always said say something nice so I will start with not one but two things– 1. He was Italian! 2. He was a brilliant writer, his style and wit were clever, sharp and on point.
Yesterday someone asked me why I disliked Scalia so much and they assumed it was his term ‘homosexual agenda’. They guessed wrong.
I disagreed with his view that the constitution is static, dead. Textualism–only the words matter, not the legislative history. It is a subject that fascinates me. It was Scalia’s tendency to claim intimate knowledge of the “Founders’ intent” when such knowledge is impossible. Context is everything in terms of the Constitution, which makes it a living document by nature. I just can’t see how it could be any other way and I don’t understand how we can pretend we knew their intent when they could not possibly have imagined assault weapons, computers, stem cell research and where that would/could lead– just to name a few.
If I can’t imagine something how can I have an opinion on it? Haven’t your opinions evolved and changed based on your increased knowledge of something? On a personal level, the first one that comes to mind for me is tattoos. I would shudder at the sight of them, the sorts of people who got them, they certainly were not my chums! Now my nieces think they are de rigueur, badges of angst, like my Birkenstocks and bad poetry in the day.
On a larger scale, we as a people have changed and grown throughout our history, for example when the constitution was written we had slavery. There were actually some decent people who owned slaves and yes I know how that sounds. But their opinions changed, evolved and hence we have the 13th amendment that abolished slavery.
The Constitution—the document itself is beautiful and should always be the beginning but elasticity of interpretation and room for growth is essential for the document and the government to function.
We must understand the philosophy behind the words. The right to bear arms is a good example — since the people were the armed forces, there was no issue in having them armed with the technology of the day– pistol, rifle, or cannon. Citizens were the soldiers. However, once we had professional, government-run armed forces, the issue of who should be armed arose.
If we take the strict constructionist point of view on the right to bear arms, under the terms of the 2nd Amendment, should muskets be the only legal firearms today as they were when it was written? Or to the other extreme, should tanks and machine guns be available for public purchase because it only says “arms” and we should interpret that strictly? An argument for another day but I bring it up to illustrate how arbitrary the argument of an originalist is—much like the Bible and those who love to pick and choose what they deem relevant. I have no problem if they want to apply it to themselves, just keep such unyielding hypocrisy away from me. I hate hypocrites so much that anyone who brings it up quickly regrets it when they can’t get me to shut up!
And following my complaint of cherry picking for relevancy, originalists have no answer to Thomas Jefferson’s famous question: why should we allow people who lived a long time ago, in a very different world, to decide fundamental questions about our government and society today? Originalists do not draw on the accumulated wisdom of previous generations. That strikes me as unequivocally ignorant and serves again to validate their subjective, preconceived notions.
And what about women and blacks? Women were not even mentioned in the constitution and blacks would remain slaves for nearly a century more before the 13th amendment was ratified. They had the same status as criminals. If a slave escaped he was to be returned to his owner whereas a criminal returned to jail.
How does an originalist square that? Oh that damn cherry picking again.
Bottom line to me is, Scalia’s opinions and those of all ‘originalists’ that are based on this strict interpretation are just an excuse for their arch- conservative views to fly forward into law and consequently giving legitimacy to their enforcement.
So yes, my views were fundamentally opposite of Justice Scalia’s but that’s ok, let’s go with that for a minute— you had to admire that Scalia was consistent in his rulings until Bush vs. Gore 2000 presidential race. Scalia stopped the recount. Aside from the fact of that being such a divisive and polarizing event for our country, he made a U-turn on his previous reluctance of advocating federal intrusion into state’s rights. I believe that was the end of a smattering of respect I had for him.
I wonder who Clarence Thomas will copy from now? Too soon?

Facebook Induced Insanity

HOW FB STOLE MY BRAIN:  the plain unvarnished truth as revealed through private diary excerpts:

A Friday in AUGUST:   I love FB, it is filled with such fun and loving activities from my large family. We live all over the country and it pulls us into a close circle. Almost like a group hug.

11:00 pm: who can understand kids? One of the main reasons I joined FB was to keep up with my nieces and nephews.  Blue Niece put something on FB that scared the bejusus out of me, I thought that she was suicidal and I panicked, I didn’t have time to care if I embarrassed her in front of her friends. Then I found out that her post was simply some song lyrics that she liked. Well who would like such morbid downer crap?  Now she is calling me a creeper. I don’t know what that is but I don’t think it is good.

Saturday: Morning coffee, opening FB and Red nephew has posted an old photo of the two of us. Sweet!  I am sure he is trying to make me feel better after the family panic and ripple effect I caused last night. But why don’t kids call their Aunts Aunt anymore?

I love FB, my brother in law grows the most gorgeous flowers that he shares with us all!

Afternoon:   FB is so irritating, the spelling is atrocious and the grammar is offensive.

I am annoyed.  Ms. Obsequious likes everything within 2 seconds of posting. And why is she ‘liking’ something from 4 years ago? It brings the old photo back to the top of the feed. This is not scrapbooking!

Purple Niece thinks a ‘party line’ is where you line up for shots at a party. I need to get Lily Tomlin’s record, “This Is a Recording”, for her but I doubt she has a record player.

I am trying to see if my sister has posted photos of her bike trip and I have to scroll though endless baby and animal posts. Does anyone remember when we actually went weeks without taking a photo?

And Sally Stupinda is a fatuous dunderhead. I cannot believe she does not check her facts before posting. Does she not know she is voting against her own self interests?

And the spelling and grammar, I am disgusted, going to stay off here the rest of the day.

Saturday 5:30: I am only going on to check on my Mom since she has not returned my phone call. I see she is on FB talking about all the genealogy research she did today. That is quite the positive, her finding all those connections. Even if they can’t spell.

Late night: How the hell did my chat get turned ON? I turned it OFF. It is like having to keep a constant vigilance over a naughty child that you have sent to their room and they keep coming back out. FB has no manners.

Sunday:  Last night I happen to know that Ms. Mary Maudlin spent the evening looking at old yearbook photos, glory shots of her youth and yet she posted all kinds of excitement. On FB she lives the life she wants to have instead of the one she has. What bunk.

How can dead people ‘like’ things? And post things? Is FB available in heaven and hell?

Lugubrious Lori has posted 30 depressive MEME’s in a row, blowing up my feed, I am seriously getting off of here.

And supercilious Sally is a dry drunk. Weekends are her worst and TMI, this is not group therapy, people! Mispelled and bad grammar TMI to boot!! Have they no shame?

Monday: Lots of posts today from Paula Poser and Bill Bumptious. It is that old adage of familiarity breeds contempt.

I hate that people I thought I liked are now running around buck naked. They like weird music, they hunt, they watch reality TV, they eat bacon chocolate donuts. I feel like I am watching bad porn.

I think I am getting FB Tourette syndrome, I am itching to make snide comments.

Tuesday: I have made many friends from all over the world that I would like to keep up with.  FB is an easy, auto pilot vehicle for that endeavor. Minimal effort and yet maximum rewards. 6 degrees of separation is now 4 or 3. I am sure FB had a big hand in shrinking our world and this is a positive. Their spelling and grammar mistakes are quite understandable but the rest of you, please, you are driving me crazy.

Tuesday 8:00 PM I googled my brother’s favorite fishing magazine, Honey Hole, to buy him a subscription and now I am getting porn ads on the side of my page. I am hopping mad.

Wednesday: Jeez I have an email from my real life best friend who wants me to give ‘thumbs up’ to his posts. I think he has an abacus for each of his friends.  After a few days he will repost it under his Mother’s FB and I will have to ‘like’ it again. I think his mother would be amazed at her presence on FB.  I told him this is how Norman Bates got started.

I hate FB, they changed my privacy settings again and now my group called “redneck relatives” knows that I came to town and did not call them. And my group called ‘”hanging by a thread” saw my snarky posts that were ‘sorta-kinda’ directed at them. I got defriended by 17 people, maybe that is a Guinness record.

I must escape this Church of FB.  I developed an algorithm to correlate time spent on FB with lost intelligence and I think I could file criminal charges or maybe win a civil suit.

Time stealing is probably only a misdemeanor but I am thinking more like one of those Robin Cook novels where your body parts have been harvested and you are either a walking zombie or in suspended animation. I tried to find a lawyer to take the case but so far can’t find one that is not an addict, a Facebook User, pun intended.

Thursday: I was probably over reacting yesterday. Today’s posts are very uplifting and intelligent, lots of food for thought from my very intellectual friends. Maybe a few MEME’s that I have seen 100 times before but no biggie.

Noon: My Mother wrote on the WALL a blow by blow depiction of my sister’s hysterectomy. She said her uterus was bigger than a baby head.

When questioned she said she thought that she had put it on the PRIVATE Wall which is what she calls messaging we think. Although she thinks her cellphone is FB so I am not certain.

I just had a long conference call with my sisters trying to set up a schedule to take turns monitoring Mom’s Facebook activity. 3 sisters, so the list of complaints is long: TMI, religion and politics are NO-NO’s, why does she share (steal) our photos and add her own braggadocious narratives?  How do we stop her revisionist history posts, why does she not understand that the WALL is public domain? The list is exhausting and the task of monitoring daunting.

Friday: Mom is on FB having a ‘private’ argument with my sister-in-law on the WALL about her Yoga addiction. She said her grandson is in danger of having pretzel shaped bones by his exposure. Not sure what that means but it is not my turn to monitor her. Smiley face.

Pink niece posted, her day is ruined, her 5th hair color this month did not come out right. When I was young a ruined day was when you tried to swim faster than the water moccasin next to you in the creek and didn’t make it.

Saturday morning: Need to get moving, have a weekend at the lake planned. Slightly annoyed, I must check FB first because I will have no service at the lake and need to make sure I don’t miss anyone’s birthday.

Saturday afternoon, feeling FOMO. Not liking my ‘no service at the lake’ and need to walk up the hill to get a signal and make sure I’m not missing anything. I think people secretly like it when I take the time to point out their spelling errors and correct their grammar.

Sunday morning: Volunteered to drive to get ice since I knew I would have a signal and could check up on some simmering sagas on FB. Annoyed as I had to scroll through so many PP’s (prolific posters who think they are so profound). READ: Bumptious Buffoons who can’t even spell. Back to boat with half melted ice, what a time slaughterhouse!

Sunday afternoon: I am happy that dark clouds are rolling in as it gives us an excuse to leave the lake early.  Once we get into a service area my FB alert chime seems to be blowing up so I know something must have happened.

OMG, I am annoyed . I did not ‘like’ a family member’s status and drama is flying. In fariness I did not see it but when I went back to look I see it is just the 23rd photo this week of her kid winning the MVP on his Tee Ball team. I spent 20 minutes pulled over on the side of the road searching for it so I could like it and call off the family heat but just as I was about to write an obsequious comment I got a phone call. After I hung up I went back to it only to find that I am ‘defriended’. Well good riddance, she was the worst spelling and grammar offender anyway.

2 weeks later I had a friend request from same said family member who defriended me. She says she has no idea how we could have been ‘knocked off’ each other’s FB. I’m going to make her wait a bit before I accept the refriend.

I refriended Ms. Touchy Tammy and tried to set up a special alert so that I will not miss any of her posts. I tried to pay my 10 year old Green niece who can make apps to make me one that will ‘like’ her stuff automatically without my having to look at it but I could not afford her.

SEPTEMBER: I am learning how to make ‘apps’ myself so haven’t had much time for this diary. I am trying make the app that will automatically ‘like’ the things I like plus all family members. So far the glitches are numerous and people might be getting suspicious since I ‘liked’a photo of Cheney and Rove hunting.  I have to work on the parameters.

OCTOBER: I live to ‘like’.  Likewise I am sustained by ‘likes’.  I think I have a pretty good system of never missing any ‘likes’– the giving or getting. And to think I once signed a petition to put a ‘dislike’ button on FB. How silly of me. I am not going to reveal my system  here until I have secured the patent. Which I will do as soon as I winnow the daily application hours to under 18.

NOVEMBER: I have not had any time for this diary, the ‘Never Miss a Like’ patent is going full steam ahead and now I am working on the ‘sub likes’.  Or some way to ‘like’ that someone liked your like.  It is so much easier just to ‘like’.  Whiners are as unattractive as bad spellers.

DECEMBER 26th How I spent Christmas: it was truly divine, my secret diary! An Italian pick plate, wassail, jammies, African hair oil treatment, Perry Mason marathon– but I can’t put that, instead I post that we woke up with a roaring fire (started by elves I presume), mistletoe and perfect kisses, then a huge perfectly cooked dinner with family, joyous caroling and hot toddies, and in between I fed the homeless, rang the salvation army bell, and ended the evening contemplating Angelina Jolie goodness over a game of monopoly with similarly minded friends.

My New Year’s resolution is going to be making an app that corrects all spelling and grammar.