Archive for gun laws

"I was a person": Time to reform our broken mental health system.

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Flan post I was a person mental health post

Please take a minute to read this very heartfelt, very important post written by one of our longtime readers. Our mental health system is indeed broken. Ilene is doing everything she can to help rectify that:

Bipartisan Support is Needed to Pass Important Reforms to our Broken Mental Health System

Many people are crying out for stronger gun laws to address the increasing gun violence. The shooting of former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, by a man in a state of psychosis, is often mentioned as a reason for these reforms. I urge those who support stronger gun laws to also support important reforms to our extremely dysfunctional mental healthcare system.

This is not an either/or situation. We need stronger gun control laws and a complete overhaul of our broken mental healthcare system, but I fear this is becoming a partisan issue. I am a flaming liberal, and I support the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR3717) which is sponsored by – gasp – a Republican.

HR3717, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy, contains a very comprehensive set of long needed reforms. The competing bill, the Strengthening Mental Health in our Communities Act (HR 4574), is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, who was shot alongside of Giffords. There are some overlaps, but HR4574 lacks several essential reforms contained in HR3717.

The Barber bill doesn’t reform the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which thwarts the efforts of family members to help their loved ones with serious mental illness and who lack insight (Anosognosia). It also doesn’t include the need for a nationwide set of Assisted Outpatient Treatment laws, which would help people with serious mental illness, who have cycled in and out of the ER and jails, get into much needed, sustained, outpatient treatment.

Finally, it fails to address the Medicaid Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion, a discriminatory law which bans federal funds to IMDs, which provide the majority of services to people with a mental illness or drug addiction. This includes hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and group housing that provide on-site services and supervision. The Murphy bill includes these needed reforms.

Many people share the misconception that everyone can seek help on their own, manage their own treatment, and live on their own with occasional support. This is unfortunately not possible for a minority (about 25%) of people with serious mental illness. My twin brother Paul had schizophrenia, was treatment resistant, had significant cognitive impairments, and was in that minority.

Paul was treated like a fully functioning adult when released from the state hospital, which led to a roller coaster ride to hell and back and his early death. The “Pauls of today” will continue to become incarcerated, homeless, and die young, and their families will continue to suffer, without the essential reforms in Rep. Murphy’s bill.

Mental Health advocacy groups are calling for efforts to resolve the differences between the two bills, and to create a version which can pass the U.S. House of Representatives. Without true bipartisan support, we could lose those essential reforms contained in the Murphy bill. Please do not let that happen.

Ilene Flannery Wells

Paul's Legacy Project www.paulslegacyproject.org

To learn more about Paul, please read the book about his life; Shot In The Head, a sister’s memoir, a brother’s struggle, by our sister Katherine Flannery Dering. www.shotintheheadbook.com

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Universal background check supporters boycott Hallmark

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hallmark life is a special occasion

Dear Hallmark: Universal background checks for gun sales could have prevented mass killings. Massacres can also be cut short when a shooter runs out of bullets and has to reload. That's why there's a call for a ban on large capacity magazines in favor of those that hold fewer bullets. Of course, for some unfathomable reason, there is resistance to forcing shooters to stop and reload more often. However, most Americans do agree on mandatory background checks. They can weed out potential gun owners who have a history of violence and mental instability, criminal pasts, or a history of domestic violence. People with obviously severe problems like those should not be able to acquire a gun.

You would think "pro-lifers" would be in favor of saving lives, now wouldn't you? You'd think anyone would. Background checks would be the simplest way to achieve that. In fact, 90% of the American public favors them.

Via DigitalJournal.com:

"But, incredibly, Hallmark does not support Universal Background Checks-- or any background checks-- for gun sales. That is why a complete Hallmark boycott is being called for by the National Gun Victims Action Council (NGVAC) and the Newtown Victims and Clergy for Corporate Responsibility (NVCCR)," said Elliot Fineman, CEO of (NGVAC). [...]

"Until Hallmark gets off the sideline and supports Universal Background Checks (which NGVAC studies show will minimally save 2,000 lives per year) and commits to work for their passage our boycott will continue," said Fineman.

If protecting the Stay family and America's families is not reason enough for Hallmark to act, then it is reason enough for the over 90% of Americans that want Universal Background Checks to not buy any Hallmark products or to support any of the Hallmark Channel sponsors.

Here's what Hallmark's Chairman Donald Hall, Jr. said in response: "We do not get involved in divisive issues."

Psst! Mr. Hall, Jr... mowing down groups of people, murdering children, slaughtering teachers and theater-goers, destroying families, that's pretty divisive, don'tcha think? Death divides family members. Preventing death, maiming, and more devastation should be our goal.

Sadly, death also bring people together, but for the wrong reason. Just ask America, post-Sandy Hook:

More at the link.

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"Gun advocates think they know how any scenario involving guns will play out. They don't."

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cliff schecter on last word guns gun advocates

In one of the following letters, the author refers to "gun advocates." I prefer the terms gun fondlers, gun zealots, and gun fetishists, but what do I know, right? She makes a great point, as do the others in today's Los Angles Times letters to the editor.

Take a look at these and at the video below, because our voices matter:

Near the end of your article on the Las Vegas shootings, you mention Joseph Robert Wilcox, who pulled out a concealed weapon and confronted Jerad Miller at the Wal-Mart.

As I read this part of the article, I wondered what gun advocates who promote the fallacy that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun would say about that. Wilcox may have believed this idea and might have wanted to be a hero, but now he is dead after having been shot by a bad guy.

Gun advocates think they know how any scenario involving guns will play out. They don't.

Unfortunately, this part of the story will not even be part of the conversation. It is to our country's detriment that it won't be.

Nancy Zaman, Los Angeles

***

The politicians' angry cries against the release of five Guantanamo Bay detainees are loud. What of the American terrorists who routinely slaughter children, police officers and innocent civilians?

Those politicians refuse to defy their sponsor, the National Rifle Assn., and show little care for American lives.

Ruth Palanker, Los Angeles

***

Isn't it about time that we just stand up to the defenders of an amendment written more than 200 years ago and say it just doesn't apply anymore? Isn't it time for the cowards in Washington to quit protecting the NRA and start protecting the rest of us?

It's time we closed the gun shops and the gun shows and started restricting and shutting down the manufacturers of these weapons.

And yes, it is a mental health issue. It's about the absolute insanity of the people who think that owning a gun somehow makes you more of an American.

Collect the guns and get these nuts off the street before more of our children die.

Lee Cohen, Glendale

Now take a look at our own Cliff Schecter making the case against violence on The Last Word. As always, he knocked it out of the park:

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Student killed. Just "another week in the United States of the NRA."

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oregon shooting student killed v CNN gunsPhoto via CNN

While I was on air with Nicole Sandler today, this terrible news broke: Student killed, shooter also dead, at Oregon high school. Shortly after that, I received a press release from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in part (emphasis mine):

"We hear our representatives calling for prayers, but today, we call on responsible gun owners, mothers, fathers, and all concerned citizens to call on our elected officials to pass reasonable reforms that will prevent gun violence. Will we have to wait until there is an active shooter at every school in America before our lawmakers act?" said Sarah Finger McDonald, Oregon Chapter Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "Today’s shooting was the 74th since Newtown. Our children and teachers should be learning and teaching in schools—not on lock down, cowering under desks, and evacuated from school with their hands raised in the air.”

Here at TPC, we can barely keep up with the epidemic of NRA-sponsored carnage, but we've tried:

These stories make a few things very clear. For example, in one case, no gun was needed to tackle a shooter and disarm him. In another case, a "good guy with a gun" was killed by "a bad guy with a gun." So much for that right wing gun-fondler talking point.

Referring to Second Amendmenters as "good guys," framing it in such unrealistic, black-and-white terms, is misleading at best. This isn't a 1950s Roy Rogers movie, it's real life. And right now, reality sucks.

Our own Cliff Schecter was on the Ronan Farrow show today recapping the series of horrific events. He spoke with his usual brilliantly blunt eloquence:

Cliff was asked on because of the latest "student killed" headline. And because that "student killed" headline has become so damned commonplace. What has this country become? As Cliff said, it's not the same place in which he grew up. Ditto.

And with that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

With more states allowing citizens to openly carry weapons into stores, libraries and churches; with the National Rifle Assn. convincing others that the best antidote to gun violence is more guns; and with people entertaining themselves watching movies and TV shows full of gratuitous violence, do we really need to ask, "What precipitated this event?"

Just look in the mirror.

Matt Giorgi

Brea

***

Dateline, Mission Viejo: A son kills his father, mother, sister and himself with a gun.

Dateline, Atlanta: A gunman trying to charge into a courthouse with an assault rifle and grenades is subdued after a gun battle with police.

Dateline, Seattle: A gunman kills one person before being subdued.

Dateline, Las Vegas: Two police officers are assassinated by two shooters who also kill a shopper and themselves.

Another week in the United States of the NRA, where that phrase "not one more" is just another bumper sticker.

So, folks, enjoy your next trip to the mall or sending your kids off to school. What could possibly go wrong?

Frank Ferrone

El Cajon

***

Two armed individuals walk into a restaurant carrying loaded weapons because they are exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.

Two armed individuals walk into a restaurant and kill two police officers.

Question: How does anyone know which two individuals just walked in until they start firing?

Terry Sternberg

Woodland Hills

And to drive home a few very serious points, here is a tongue-in-cheek video courtesy of CollegeHumor's Favorite Funny Videos:

H/t: The wonderful Gaius Publius of AMERICAblog

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Cliff Notes: "This is a disease, one that the NRA’s leadership is helping to spread"

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gun nut disease

My dear friend and mentor, Cliff Schecter, has a new post up; Cliff has given me permission to share his work with you, so I’ll give you the latest edition of what I call Cliff Notes. Here are a few excerpts from his latest at The Daily Beast, with permission. Please read the whole thing, because he has way more than I’ve included here. It's about the utter insanity and carnage attributed to the NRA and their gun-fondling devotees who are blissfully spreading a deadly Gun Disease all over America.

These bits and pieces don't do it justice. Please, link over for the entire post titled "From Las Vegas to Georgia, the NRA Has Created a Monster":

It’s been quite a month for the National Rifle Association: Massacres at universities, in restaurants, and at retail stores from South Carolina to Las Vegas. Gun nuts porting assault weapons to dinner from Chili’s to Chipotle. The leaders of the take-no-prisoners gun-rights organization have been witness to the logical outgrowth of its policies and rhetoric. Much as the GOP helped create the lunatic-fringe Tea Party within its midst, the NRA chieftains have helped birth a beast whose black heart now beats strongly among its most radical adherents. [...]

The result: They’ve watched impotently as this witch’s brew of mental illness, far-right politics, propaganda, and heavy weaponry has led to one shocking—yet wholly predictable—massacre after another, with the most recent targets including the execution-style murders of two lunching police officers in Las Vegas. [Laffy Note: See Sher's White Supremacy and the Bundy Tea Party Terrorize the Vegas Strip] [...]

Just over the past few weeks, we’ve seen mass murders in Isla Vista, Seattle, Myrtle Beach, and Las Vegas. A catastrophe was barely averted at a courthouse in Georgia—you know, the place that in its infinite wisdom chose to pass its “guns anywhere” bill, because clearly if there was something daycare centers and airports were lacking, it was guns.

Somehow this didn’t stop this self-styled “sovereign citizen.”  [...]

But this is America, the NRA leadership’s version, where a man in this mental state was a gun seller and trader (remember how Timothy McVeigh was a gun seller at gun shows?), who got mad because he had—what else?—outstanding firearms charges against him. So yeah, why not kill the authorities and everyone else you can in a blaze of glory? We make it so easy, after all. [...]

In Las Vegas, two shooters, a man and a woman... left a swastika and “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on one of the murdered cops’ bodies... Did I mention the man had lived on Cliven Bundy’s ranch for a bit (and was kicked off… one wonders what it took for that to happen)? [...]

This is a disease, one that the NRA’s leadership is helping to spread. [...]

Put simply, the NRA’s leaders have demonized anyone whose job it is to enforce our laws and protect the United States in its pamphlets, emails, speeches, TV ads, Web shows, radio programming, and anywhere else they can unleash this cancer on the American public. So is it then shocking when their more unstable allies and adherents use the same language when planning or executing the mass killing of policemen, judges or other government officials?

If Wayne LaPierre were instead named Wayne Mohammed, do you think we’d still be hearing from him? Or would he be in a black site in Romania somewhere? [...]

If we want to change things, it starts with not sugar-coating or ignoring the treasonous and murderous role played by the leaders of the NRA, but by acknowledging it and taking them on every day.

Cliff Schecter is a bestselling author, syndicated columnist, and political strategist. He consults for the gun-safety group the National Gun Victims Action Council. 

Follow him on Twitter: @CliffSchecter

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Good guy without a gun stops bad guy with a gun... again.

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good guy bad guy animated gif

Sorry to break it to you, NRA, but this is becoming nearly as commonplace as your gun lobby-sponsored mass shootings are: At Seattle Pacific University, a good guy without a gun stopped a bad guy with a shotgun and a knife.

The Los Angeles Times:

"He began to reload his shotgun, and a student confronted him and was able to subdue the individual," Seattle Police Captain Chris Fowler said, adding that at some point the suspect was hit with pepper spray. Others joined in and "pinned him to the ground until the police arrived." [...]

Police did not identify the victims, nor did they give the name of the student security guard who was sitting at the building's reception desk when the gunman burst in. That student's actions probably kept the rampage from worsening, police said.

Keyword: reload. When Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head, her assailant was stopped because he took time away from massacring his victims to reload his killing machine. Those precious seconds counted, which is why so many Americans support laws that ban large capacity gun magazines.

And the time it takes for the bad guys to take a moment to replenish their gundamentalist-revered bullets, the good guys without guns can jump them, pin them down, or otherwise prevent them from continuing their killing sprees.

Another memorable instance of a good guy without a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun was when the remarkable shero Antoinette Tuff talked him down. Her kindness was more powerful than his compulsion to murder.

Who would you prefer to run into at Chipotle, these two....?

guns open carry chipotle

Or her...

guns antoinette tuff school shooting

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Mass murder 101 #NotOneMore

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guns not one more Richard Martinez mass murder

This thoughtful commentary about gun violence, mass murder, and possible reasons for the uptick in gun massacres comes to us by way of an email exchange I had with my dear friend and mentor, the source of our Cliff Notes series, Cliff Schecter:

I came to my work on guns from studying Criminology in college. I was almost a Crim major. I had no agenda, no hatred for guns (still don't). Hell, for my 40th Birthday my wife surprised me with, among other things, the NRA medals I still had from my days spending summers in New Hampshire doing competitive shooting at a camp.

The fact is what I learned in Criminology made it quite obvious that while there were a number of factors here--but guns were the main culprit. As Michael Moore pointed out we all play these video games, we all watch violent movies. We all have mental illness. [A friend] brought up the virality of certain behavior. I think there is something to that. We are unique, among high income nations, in our willingness to allow hate speech to be broadcast far and wide all day every day on talk radio and Fox, filled with half truths and outright lies, without anyone having equal time to respond. So I have no doubt that these are factors. Look, Richard Poplawski-- the guy who shot and killed three police officers in Pittsburgh-- did it because he thought they were sent by President Obama to "take my guns away."

Ditto the shooter who was headed to the Tides Foundation because Glenn Beck said they were evil and anti-capitalist, etc. He got into a shootout with cops on the freeway. Even when it is not political, it is sociological, and Fox and hate talk play into the worst fears of economically downscale white males.

But again, even with that, there are guns.

What has changed since the 1980s? Most people don't' know this, but concealed carry largely didn't exist before the 1980s. It was only in a handful of states. The NRA's' big project was to normalize the carrying of guns so they could sell more of them. And they have been very successful.

Also, military weaponry--like assault weapons--were not available to most pre-1980s. So, add in the availability of more lethal weaponry and the ability to carry outside your house without anyone blinking an eye, add in President Reagan destroying mental health services with cuts--which has been destroyed many more times since then by more cuts-- and add in that unhinged person, with no institution to go to sitting at home watching Sean Hannity saying Cliven Bundy is a hero. We should stand up to the government! The tyrants! etc. etc.

There are other factors, but to me it is:

1) Gun availability

2) Untreated mental health issues

3) Making hate and fear viral via Fox/Rush, etc.

You combine those 3, with other nations similar to us not possessing any of them on the scale we do, and that gets us there...

Put it all together, you have today's climate.

Thank you, Cliff. Now here's a little Twitter snark to wrap things up:

gun bingoLink

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