Another day, another mass shooting

I see all the calls for prayers, the outrage that it was Christians targeted, the pointing of finger at the shooter’s mental status, the calls for greater number of guns needed and that would have stopped him… wait, what? Umpqua CC campus had virtually no restrictions on guns on campus as allowed by state law, it was open carry and concealed carry (on a shall-issue permit basis, meaning you ask and you shall not be denied unless you are a felon) campus. A ‘good guy’ with a gun was nearby. Still, death and mayhem were not prevented.

Things I note:

  • Those of you tearing at your clothes in righteous prayer, yet feeling that guns should not be touched, I’m pretty sure you worship guns above your god-thingy. This thoughtful and caring Christian man gets it right: Why Gun Lovers Don’t Get To Grieve Another Massacre With Me.
  • There will be another mass shooting within the next 24 to 48 hours, as defined as 4 or more shot as documented by Shooting Tracker and another major mass shooting (which I define as 9 or more persons shot) will happen within about 45 days.
  • For those who claim we need more guns because then the shooter would be confronted by a ‘good guy with a gun’, that’s just crazy-talk. Here’s the story of the good guy with a gun on the campus of the school knowing that he couldn’t intervene unless the shooter was literally right in front of him: Raw Story on Army Vet at Umpqua. 
  • There are those who claim the cat is out of the bag on this issue, with about one gun for every person in the US. What can be done with so many guns? But, that erroneously describes the distribution of guns. Only about 1/3 of Americans own a gun or live with someone who owns one, effectively the household rate of gun ownership. So, guns are concentrated among a sizable minority of Americans.
  • What can be done with so many guns is this: Declare the most dangerous guns illegal and buy them back as was done in Australia in 1996 after a huge mass shooting there. Do the same with ammunition magazines, to limit them to no larger than 10 rounds, buy back all that are larger. This can be done, Australia bought back over 600,000 guns. We have the resources, do we have the will? Australians get it. 

As President Obama says, we have made a political decision in this country that we will live with mass murders on a regular basis as the price we pay for easy availability of high powered guns. It is a political decision meaning we can change it.

When we decided that the design of automobiles and highways contributed to accidents and deaths, we made laws to mandate better design and laws for usage of safety features such as seat belts. The rate of deaths in automobile accidents is now about 1/3 of the rate of the highest levels (1930s) and as low as it was 100 years ago when cars were just emerging as affordable to the masses.

Alcohol was known as a huge factor in automobile accidents and deaths. The study of alcohol’s effects and implementation of laws to increase penalties for use of alcohol while driving started in the early 1980s has resulted in a dramatic decrease in the proportion of deaths in accidents that were alcohol-related. The drop is from 60% of accidents were alcohol-related in 1982 to now a bit more than 30%.

We had the political will to implement stronger controls, to decide that our freedom to enjoy alcohol was not worth the cost in destroyed lives. Alcohol culture was rampant in the decades preceding this shift in political will. Just witness the use of alcohol in Mad Men, which was NOT an exaggeration of the times. 

So, don’t say we can’t change. We just need to decide that the price in lives is a cost we are no longer willing to pay, just like we did with alcohol.


Justice Us, Maybe?

Using a unique mechanism in Ohio law, citizens groups presented evidence to a judge requesting charges and arrest against the police officers involved in killing 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November, 2014. The judge ordered that the prosecutor investigate and bring charges, but did not order the arrest of the police officers involved.

When we say Black Lives Matter, we are not saying that other’s lives don’t matter. We are just reminding people that Black Lives Matter as much as anyone else’s. Will justice prevail, hard to tell. A prosecutor can bring charges, but present the case weakly such that the jury has no choice but to say not-guilt because the charges were unproven. This is a long ways from done, we are a long ways from justice.