written by reader WORKING TOWARD MORE EFFECTIVE GUN REGULATIONS WITH #NEVERAGAIN

By hipockets, March 5, 2018

#NeverAgain is a new American student-led organization that advocates for tighter regulations to prevent gun violence. It was started in February, 2018, by 20 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after 17 people were murdered by a shooter armed with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, and now has tens of thousands of followers on Facebook. I will to tell you now – these teenagers are going to change our world!

You can learn just about everything about them at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_Again_MSD .

I’ve been promoting their cause as a member of EVERYTOWN for about 4 years. #NeverAgain will greatly augment the work of EVERYTOWN. But more likely, EVERYTOWN will augment the work of #NeverAgain! They are that intelligent, passionate, and driven !

Now let me tell you about EVERYTOWN .

The NRA’s and other gun associations’ most often stated argument is that any minor change made to improve gun safety would be a slippery slope that would open the door to more severe changes, which would lead to everybody’s guns being taken away. Since there are millions more guns than people in the U.S., that simply cannot happen.

I see a much more horrible slippery slope, one that is coated by the blood spilled by the deaths of the 300,000 people killed by guns since 9/11. The coating is refreshed each and every day with the needless slaughter of more than 80 people. Some of those could have been prevented.

More than 80% of the U.S. believes that more effective gun safety laws are needed. If you belong to this group, and you see the same slippery slope that I do, please
• Follow and promote #NeverAgain on Facebook or your favorite social media.
• Contribute to #NeverAgain at https://www.gofundme.com/j83vt-neveragain . You can contribute to the victims fund at https://www.gofundme.com/stonemandouglasvictimsfund .
VERY IMPORTANT: Other organizations are using the word “NeverAgain” to raise money. Make certain you are contributing to the hashtag NeverAgain .
• Attend their rallies whenever and wherever possible.
• Boycott companies that support the NRA and similar gun associations;
• If you are a member of a gun association that is fighting to prevent improving gun safety, resign. You can rejoin if / when they start acting like sane people.
• Join EVERYTOWN ( see below ).
• Tell all of your friends, verbally and through email, about http://www.EVERYTOWN.org .

Those 7 bullet points are what I hope you will take away from this. The rest of it will tell you why I became involved with EVERYTOWN , and present quite a bit of information about the issues surrounding guns. I hope it will convince you to work with us, if you are not already.

Many of the links are a year or more old (I’ve been collecting them for many months), but updating them and adding new ones would show the statistics are getting worse. [ See the STATISTICS section below. ]

BACKGROUND

About four years ago I became involved in a discussion on an early clubhouse thread about gun control. The discussion was primarily with a member who saw humor in beating baby seals to death with automatic weapons instead of shooting them, and whose biggest concern was about the inconvenience of the paperwork needed to sell a relative a gun.

I did not want to be in the same room, even a virtual room, with such a despicable mindset. I was so disgusted that I quit following the thread, decided to work actively for better laws, and found and joined EVERYTOWN .

EVERYTOWN

EVERYTOWN is a grass roots movement of Americans working to minimize gun violence. It was founded in 2006 as ”Mayors Against Illegal Guns” by New York Mayor Bloomberg and joined with ”Moms Demand Action” in 2013.

Our goal is to reduce violence, not to ban all guns.

We know we will never be able to prevent all gun violence, but thousands of lives can be saved and an immeasurable amount of suffering can be prevented by preventing straw sales and implementing and enforcing federal thorough background checks. The number of people killed or injured during future mass slayings can be reduced by limiting the sale of certain types of firearms, bullets, and large capacity magazines to well-qualified individuals.

We know we won’t be able to prevent all mass slayings, but we will be able to prevent some, perhaps most, of them; and minimize the carnage of the ones we cannot prevent.

We have over 4 million supporters and a donor base of over 85,000. We show up at statehouses, make calls, and send emails to let legislators know that they are expected to stand on the side of public safety and will be held accountable for that at the ballot box.

19 states and Washington D.C. have background check requirements beyond federal law; nine states require universal background checks at the point of sale for all transfers, including purchases from unlicensed sellers. We made significant progress during the November 2016 elections when voters in four states (Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and California) approved more stringent checks.

If you feel our efforts have merit, and want to help save lives and prevent the anguish of people losing loved ones, please join EVERYTOWN. Membership is free, but donations are welcome and needed. If you join us, we will be one person closer to reaching the critical mass of public opinion needed to get the attention of national politicians.

MY FRUSTRATION

We have made, and will continue to make, progress on local and state levels. But I became frustrated a few months ago. The state I live in has some of the best gun laws in the country, but I can drive 75 miles in two different directions into two different states and purchase a handgun, a rifle, or a semi-automatic without any background check. Effective gun safety at the Federal level in non-existent, because the NRA and other gun associations have been so successful in buying the loyalty of our Congressmen, Senators, and the President.

Do you know that
• President I-Will-Say-Something-Positive-In-A-Televised-Meeting-But-Do-The-Opposite-To-Please-My-Base-a-la-DACA recently made it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns?
• Thanks to the Dickey amendment to a spending bill of 1966, the CDC was banned from out-sourcing funding research about gun safety? Since then, Congress has consistently refused to fund in-house research.
• Federal agencies are prohibited against using computers to store gun safety data?
• Under current laws The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is prohibited from creating a federal registry of gun transactions?

EVERYTOWN has not been effective at the national level, but I am starting to feel VERY optimistic that this is about to change. Sadly it took the deaths of 14 students and 3 teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to make me start feeling this optimism, because the survivors started #NEVERAGAIN

OPTIMISM

I’m feeling optimistic because #NEVERAGAIN might be able to accomplish what EVERYTOWN tried to do but so far has been unable to do – get the attention of our national politicians and vote them out of office if they do not enact sane gun safety laws. These students are intelligent, passionate, adept at social media, articulate, and determined. Many of them are too young to vote in the next election, but as a group they are capable of changing our world.

I believe they will. The young have been at the forefront of almost all large social changes, two recent examples are racial equality [ still working on it 🙁 ] and the Arab Spring.

I have proposed to EVERYTOWN that we make the students, parents, and teachers at Marjory Stoneman life-long “Gold Star Students for Gun Safety” members. The idea is based on the Gold Star Parents of our deceased veterans, of course.

One reason that there has been so much inertia in improving gun safety is that so few people have been personally exposed to the violence. Now we have about 3,000 students [ per Wikipedia ] at Marjory Stoneman that have been exposed to it, up close and personal. If each student has 10 close friends and family members, we have 30,000 people exposed to it. Many of them will want to work for better gun safety.

But why stop there? I will be resubmitting my proposal, suggesting that we actively visit schools where there has been a shooting, and make all their students “Gold Star Students for Gun Safety”, along with their family members and teachers.

Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week. (NY Times 2/15/18)

Assuming 1,000 students per school on average, with each student having 10 close friends and family members, we now have over 3,000,000 people personally involved. If each of these has 10 friends, we are up to 30,000,000 people, and so on. In the near future almost every citizen in the U.S. will be separated from gun violence by 3 degrees or less of separation.

With voting numbers like that, politicians will be forced to pay attention, or will be forced out of office.

I am further encouraged to feel optimistic because:
• The nation’s largest privately-owned bank, The First National Bank Of Omaha will stop producing credit cards for the National Rifle Association in response to customer feedback. The card offers to NRA members 5 percent back on gas and sporting goods purchases.
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz, Alamo Rent a Car, National Car Rental, Wyndham hotels, at least two major airlines, and more, are following suite. Why? Because they want to keep their customers, and they realize the most of their customers are turning against the NRA.
• Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines, and will no longer sell to customers under the age of 21.
• WalMart will no longer sell to customers under the age of 21.
• Oregon’s House of Representatives passed a bill 37-23 banning anyone with a domestic violence conviction from owning a firearm — on 2/21/18, one day after the mass shooting in Florida. The state Senate approved it 16-13 on Thursday and the Governor signed it into law. Two questions – Why did it take a school massacre to do this? Who are the 36 people who voted against it?
• Since the federal government has failed to act on gun safety, the northeast states of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have formed a new ”States for Gun Safety” coalition. It will advance a multi-state effort in sharing information and stop the flow of out-of-state guns. Other states will be invited to join.

Yes, I have many reasons to feel optimistic !

BACK TO THE BABY SEAL CLUBBER

One of my long time interests is the Meyers Bridges Personality Assessment, which defines 16 personality types. Trying to understand the Baby Seal clubber, I started thinking about groups of people and their attitudes toward gun regulation. I came up with five groups.
• The first group recognizes the need for better gun regulations and is doing something to achieve them.
• The second group recognizes the need but has done nothing.
Until the episode with the Baby Seal Clubber I was a member of this group. It took a feeling of revulsion toward a human being to move me into the first group. I’m ashamed to say that.

I am very thankful that, thanks purely to the luck of me receiving my genes, my family’s nurturing, and my life experiences, my life did not carry me down a path similar to that of the Baby Seal Clubber. I’ve done things that I am not proud of, but I have never stooped so low that I found humor in the pain of baby animals.

If you are a member of this group, don’t be as oblivious to the need as I was. PLEASE, PLEASE join EVERYTOWN.
• The third group is ambivalent about the need for better regulations and for the moment is neither for nor against improving them. If you belong to this group, please read the sections below and decide for yourself what makes sense.
• The people in the fourth group feel it is too late to do anything – there are already too many guns; criminals will always have guns, etc. I ask these people to at least read the sections Recent Accomplishments of the Advocacy Groups and Irrational Arguments Against Gun Regulations below.
• The fifth group opposes any and all gun regulations. They have encased their brain with a cocoon made of layer upon layer of thick bundles of totally self-centered neurons. The layers are so tightly woven that not one smidgen of caring about needlessly lost lives can get in; they care nothing about the pain or the possibly life-long physical limitations of the needlessly injured. They care nothing about the emotional pain and anguish of the mothers-fathers-sons-daughters-loved-ones-friends left behind.

In a cocooned brain, the pain and anguish of others does not matter. None of the lives that could have been or might be saved have any value.

I believe the Baby Seal Clubber belongs in this group.

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE ADVOCACY GROUPS

There are frequent news stories about the NRA’s backlash against gun control efforts, but we don’t see much about the progress of the advocacy groups. Here’s a few of the accomplishments in 2015:
…..Oregon became the 18th state to require background checks on all handgun sales – the sixth such state since Sandy Hook.
…..Legislatures in nine states (AL, DE, LA, ME, NV, OR, SC, VT and WA) enacted legislation to protect victims of domestic violence by keeping guns out of the hands of abusers.
…..At least 64 NRA backed gun bills were defeated or failed to advance.
…..Bills that would have dismantled state concealed carry systems and let people carry concealed, loaded handguns in public with no permit and no training were defeated in at least 16 states. States included: CO, GA, IN, IA, MN, MO, MT, NV, NC, NH, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT and WV. Governors in NH, MT and WV vetoed such bills that were passed in their legislatures.
…..Bills that would have forced colleges and universities to allow people to carry guns on campus were defeated in 15 states. States included: AR, CO, FL, GA, IN, MT, NC, NV, OK, SC, SD, TN, VA, WV and WY.
…..Bills that would have allowed people to carry guns in public schools were defeated in 16 states, including: AR, CO, IL, FL, IA, MO, MT, NC, NV, ND, OK, TN, TX, VA, WA and WY.
…..In 2015. EVERYTOWN grew from 2.4 million supporters to more than 3.5 million supporters nationwide..
….. EVERYTOWN launched the Everytown Survivor Network, which “brings together Americans who have been personally affected by gun violence to work together to fight for solutions to reduce gun violence. The Survivor Network…..pledged to do ‘Whatever It Takes’ to prevent gun violence in America. With nearly 1,000 survivors of gun violence as members, CNN called this network of powerful new advocates ‘The Other Gun Lobby.’”
…..Moms Demand Action launched a national public education campaign in 2015 asking gun owners and non-gun owners to work together to reduce the number of unintentional child shootings. [ See http://besmartforkids.org/ ]
….. EVERYTOWN launched the Everytown Creative Council, http://everytown.org/creative-council/ , where nearly 100 cultural influencers, such as the NBA and the NFL, have joined forces to help the gun safety movement grow.
…..The National Gun Violence Awareness Day was started in June, 2014. The #WearingOrange hashtag trended worldwide on Twitter and reached more than 220 million people worldwide in a single day. More than 200 organizations and cultural influences including President Obama, Motown Records, the New York Mets, MTV, and many more all wore orange that day to show their support.

IRRATIONAL ARGUMENTS AGAINST GUN REGULATIONS

I have yet to see any rational reason for opposing common sense gun regulations.

Most opposing arguments are, to coin a phrase, “archly argumentum absurdum”. They often have the underlying thought of “If you can’t prevent the all the killings, why prevent any of them?”
…..”Any effort to limit gun ownership is a slippery slope that will lead to doing away with the 2nd amendment.” As stated at the beginning, not trying to develop common sense but effective regulations is also a slippery slope. It is coated with real blood, not irrational fear.
….. “We already have gun control. Go to your local gun store and see what you have to go through to make a purchase. The criminals will obtain guns no matter what the laws are.” and ”Bad guys will always get guns”. Common sense says that by preventing SOME criminals from getting guns, we prevent SOME gun violence.

The effectiveness of existing regulations varies from state to state. There are large loopholes in background checks and straw purchases in many states that make it easy for anyone to acquire a gun. And, as stated earlier, the very best laws in any state are much less effective when a neighboring state has ineffective laws.

I pointed out on the clubhouse thread that I was able to go on the internet and purchase a handgun (for only $99 !) and there was no background check.

…..”Most gun deaths are suicides. Regulating guns will not solve the problem.” According to http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/09/upshot/gun-deaths-are-mostly-suicides.html, “More than 60 percent of people in this country who die from guns die by suicide.” But that means about 40 percent (or more than 32 on an average day) are homicides. Some number of these can be prevented by common sense, more effective, regulations.
…..” We need to concentrate on mental health issues” . Why concentrate exclusively on mental health issues when hundreds of people are being murdered or injured while we are concentrating? It is possible to address both issues at the same time !!!.
…….From https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-give-up-the-fight-to-reduce-us-gun-violence/2015/07/30/5c7b375e-36e8-11e5-9739-170df8af8eb9_story.html : “The United States has a gun homicide rate that is at least a dozen times higher than those of most other industrialized countries. It is 50 times higher than Germany’s, for instance. We don’t have 50 times as many mentally disturbed people as Germany does — but we do have many, many more guns.”
…..”Background checks [or any other regulatory measure being discussed] would not have prevented {insert tragedy description here} ……” All too often true, but SOME of the killings and their associated anguish can be prevented.
…..”States with open carry laws are safer than other states”. False! See OPEN CARRY AND CONCEALED CARRY AND STATE LAWS below.
….. ”The NRA is too powerful.” Not so. The NRA is being defeated in many states. Please read Recent Accomplishments of the Advocacy Groups below. Your membership in EVERYTOWN will help weaken the NRA and it’s defeats will come more often.

COMPARE THE GUN VIOLENCE IN OUR SOCIETY TO OTHERS

From http://www.forwardprogressives.com/so-we-dont-rank-first-in-gun-violence-after-all-or-do-we/ , dated 3/19/13 , ”Because the U.S. is so big, it’s better to compare the frequency of firearm homicides per capita, usually expressed as firearm homicides per 100,000 in national population……..According to the U.N., the U.S. had 3.0 firearm homicides per 100,000 in population in 2009. But there were 14 other nations that had higher rates in 2009, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean: Honduras (57.6), Jamaica (47.2), St. Kitts and Nevis (44.4), Venezuela (39.0), Guatemala (38.5), Colombia (28.1), Trinidad & Tobago (27.3), Panama (19.3), Dominican Republic (16.9), Bahamas (15.4), Belize (15.4), Mexico (7.9), Paraguay (7.3) and Nicaragua (5.9). Three other nations had higher rates in 2008: El Salvador (39.9), Brazil (18.1) and Ecuador (12.7)….. Almost every country on that list is a poor, developing country with a weak social structure. [Emphasis mine] But there they are, just above the United States in gun violence. This is the right wing’s big “fact checking argument.” …..It’s just asinine. ……. advanced countries, such as Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, European nations — even former eastern bloc countries –— typically have rates [still using the U.N. data] far less than one-third the frequency seen in the U.S. .

From http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/14/america-mass-murder-australia-gun-control-saves-lives “….[The Australian society] didn’t ban guns. Hunting and shooting are still thriving. But by adopting laws that give priority to public safety, we have saved thousands of lives.

OPEN CARRY AND CONCEALED CARRY AND STATE LAWS

I was not advocating on the clubhouse thread that we do away with the Second Amendment and take everybody’s gun away. I actually thought for a time that there could be some merit to “open carry” laws, providing detailed in-depth background checks are used to authorize people wanting to carry.
But I found two reports from Stanford University that changed my mind.

The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy points out there is a lack of uniformity between the design of statistical studies, as well as between different statistical techniques. It also pointed out that, while the number of murders had not decreased, there is some evidence that the number of aggravated assault crimes has gone up in states with open carry. The report can be downloaded from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2443681 .

Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis ” can be downloaded from http://www.nber.org/papers/w9336 . From the summary page: “……certain property crimes rise with passage of shall- issue laws [ shall-issue laws give citizens an unimpeded right to secure permits for concealed weapons ] , although the absence of any clear theory as to why this would be the case tends to undercut any strong conclusions…… we show that in most states shall- issue laws have been associated with more crime and that the apparent stimulus to crime tends to be especially strong for those states that adopted in the last decade. While there are substantial concerns about model reliability and robustness, we present estimates based on disaggregated county data models that on net the passage of the law in 24 jurisdictions has increased the annual cost of crime slightly — somewhere on the order of half a billion dollars……”

The laws concerning open carry vary by state and sometimes by municipality. A chart on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_carry_in_the_United_States lists state policies for openly carrying a loaded handgun in public.

Regulations differ widely by state, with most states currently maintaining a ”Shall-Issue”. A chart on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_States lists state policies for concealed carrying a loaded handgun in public.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_laws_in_the_United_States_by_state has a very detailed review of the regulations in all of the states.
Only nine states have any restrictions on large capacity magazines. http://smartgunlaws.org/large-capacity-ammunition-magazines-policy-summary/

STATISTICS

Deciding which statistics about gun violence to use was not easy. Most reports are for short time frames, e.g., “…since Sandy Hook”. There is lack of uniformity between the design of studies — some sites include suicides, some do not. For some sites the number of people killed in a mass shooting was four or more; other sites only two. There are also different data sources and / or statistical techniques that can be used.

The best data is at http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls . Gun violence and crime incidents are collected/validated from 1,500 sources daily ; incidents and their source data are found at their website.
Gun Violence Statistics for year 2015 2016 2017
Total Number of Incidents 53,733 58,853 61,517
Number of Deaths [1] 13,516 15,095 15.595
Number of [1] 27,044 30,625 31,184
Number of Children (age 0-11) Killed/Injured [1] 696 673 732
Number of Teens (age 12-17) Killed/Injured [1] 2,696 3,132 3,234
Mass Shooting [2] 333 383 346
Officer Involved Incident [2]
Officer Shot or Killed 318 326 316
Officer Involved Incident [2]
Suspect Shot or Killed 1,914 1908 2079
Home Invasion [2] 2,392 2,570 2,524
Defensive Use [2] 1,372 1,979 2,041
Unintentional Shooting [2] 1,964 2,203 2,021
Data Validated 2/24/18 2/24/18 2/24/18
[1]: Actual number of deaths and injuries
[2]: Number of INCIDENTS reported and verified
2018 Year-to-date data: http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/
Numbers on this table reflect a subset of all information collected and will not add to 100% of incidents.

FURTHER READING

…..You can follow EVERYTOWN at https://twitter.com/@EVERYTOWN .

…..You can read more about Moms Demand Action at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/moms-demand-action/ and