Saturday, May 31, 2014


We see once again with more dead students, this time at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that gun violence in America is an epidemic.
This is a fact of life seen everywhere except the National Rifle Association, the most dangerous lobby in this country or any country, and by the elected officials who regularly pimp themselves out to it.

We are talking here about all those in the Senate and in the Congress who represent gun companies even more fiercely than they do their states or their districts, those who hide behind the Second Amendment, something conceived and written for a world of muskets, the way cockroaches hide in similar dark places.

These are people who do not only fight what they call “gun grabbers.” They also fight any legitimate research into the whole complicated subject of gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is only allowed to spend around $100,000 a year because the NRA and its tame politicians act as if education is some kind of threat to our basic freedoms, instead of a way to understand the connection between the insane number of guns in this country and the people who keep dying as a result of them.

Nobody is saying that the NRA, or legitimate gun owners — you must differentiate between them and the gun nuts who act as if the government is about to roll into their driveways with tanks and take their rifles — are responsible for what happened this weekend in Isla Vista, Calif., or at Fort Hood last month, or Virginia Tech, or Newtown. But to ignore the growing problem of gun violence, to resist thoughtful and scientific — and nonpolitical — research into its causes, is no better than looking away when more innocent people are gunned down.

It reminds you of the old story, told by Jimmy Breslin, about when F. Lee Bailey was defending a New Jersey doctor named Carl Coppolino, accused of murdering his wife. At some point in the runup to the trial, Coppolino told Bailey one day that he hadn’t killed his wife.
And Bailey said, “Well, yeah, Carl, but it’s not like you did very much to keep her alive.”

Now Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York are introducing legislation that would give the CDC $10 million a year “for the purpose of conducting support or research on firearms safety or gun violence protection.”

They will be fought, certainly, by the NRA and those in Washington who provide cover for the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists. We will once again be told they are just preserving and protecting the Second Amendment, even as these people constantly shame the Second Amendment, as if they’re all knuckle-draggers like Joe the Plumber. But it is Markey and Maloney who are fighting an honorable fight here, in the shadow of another mass shooting in America.

“In America,” Maloney said in a statement the other day, “gun violence kills twice as many children as cancer, and yet political grandstanding has halted funding for public research to understand this crisis.”

She is already being called a grandstander by the NRA and the bullhorn media that too often genuflects in front of it. So is Markey. But maybe this will be a time when they can actually get something done on responsible research into this subject for the first time in 20 years.

Reasonable people know enough to be afraid of a gun in the wrong hands in America. But ask yourself a question: Why is the NRA so afraid of research on gun violence unless it is afraid of what that research might tell us? Even since Newtown, any kind of gun control has been fought in Washington by gutless politicians, so many of them from the right. Now they act as if they have to go get a gun to protect themselves from research, in what is supposed to be the most enlightened country on Earth.

Just not when it comes to guns. Those who scream about gun grabbers aren’t protecting the Second Amendment, they are protecting gun money. They act like Americans who look in horror at the number of gun deaths in America are like tree huggers, or those who want to save the whales, or members of the Flat Earth Society.

We are constantly told by the people who think the current gun laws and gun culture are just fine the way they are that they need their guns to protect themselves. But more and more you wonder who protects the rest of us from them?

The Centers for Disease Control sponsors all sorts of programs to prevent injuries and diseases, spends money on cancer and HIV, on brittle bones for the elderly. Then they get shamefully nickel-and-dimed on studying an epidemic like gun violence. We know we’re afraid of guns. What are the gun lovers afraid of?

Read more:

Keep Handguns Away From Teenagers
By TERESA TRITCH MAY 30, 2014 4:23 PM 
In response to the Isla Vista rampage, legislators in California are introducing a bill that would let the police and private individuals ask a court for a restraining order to deny guns to those who pose a threat to themselves or others.

The bill would be an advance in gun-control legislation. Before now, the notion of gun restraining orders had mainly captured the attention of mental health experts and academic researchers, but not legislators.

Still, there is another step California has already taken to keep guns out of the wrong hands that should be emulated elsewhere: setting the age to buy and to own a handgun at 21.

Currently, federal law and most states  let 18-year-olds purchase and own handguns. That flies in the face of research and common sense.  Studies have documented the prevalence of heightened risk-taking among teenagers.  Statistics show  that homicide rates risein the late teens and peak at age 20. A Justice Department studyfrom 2012 found that many young gun offenders incarcerated in states with the weakest gun control laws would have faced bans on gun ownership in states with the strongest controls.

Raising the handgun ownership age would not apply to rifles and shotguns, and would not prohibit parents and children from going hunting together with a long gun. (Most of the states that limit handgun sales to those 21 and older allow 18-year-olds to buy and possess long guns.) Handguns, however, are the weapon most often used in gun shootings and deaths.

Pro-gun lobbyists will invariably point out that rampages like the one in Isla Vista have been committed by people over the age of 21. That is willfully off-point: The idea that gun control shouldn’t respond to obvious gun dangers because they didn’t play a central role in a particular crime amounts to fatal abdication of adult responsibility.

They also say that setting the age at 21 for handguns, as California, New York, New Jersey, and 10 other states have done, punishes law-abiding 18- to 20-year-olds for the transgressions of the few. But all 50 states have set the drinking age at 21 out of concern for increased risk-taking by teens and the threat that poses to them and the public. The same concern applies to gun ownership, and the solution is the same. Raise the legal age for handguns to 21 in every state.

To the Editor:

In “Why Can’t Doctors Identify Killers?” (Op-Ed, May 28), Richard A. Friedman argues that it’s extremely difficult for prospective mass murderers to be identified and stopped before they kill.

Although Dr. Friedman presents a convincing case, the regular occurrence of horrific killings cries out for drastic changes in the way the psychiatric community and the public treat even the slightest oddity in behavior that they observe that might signal a proclivity toward violence.

Virtually every mass killing has been carried out by angry young men, thus significantly limiting in scope the population of people who need to be identified.

The nightmares of Columbine, Aurora, Newtown and now Isla Vista require a nationwide effort to train thousands of people in ways to identify these angry young men and report them to local authorities before they kill more innocent people.

Nothing less is needed if this spate of murders is to be stopped before these mentally ill men kill again.

Woodcliff Lake, N.J., May 28, 2014

To the Editor:

Re “Campus Killings Set Off Anguished Conversation” (front page, May 27): Counteracting misogyny is a very worthy goal, but it is not likely to have a direct impact on mass shootings and gun-related violence in the United States — nor will the intense focus on one individual’s psychopathology.

The best predictor of violence is a history of violence, and a recent study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns finds a strong correlation between mass shootings and domestic violence. Of the 93 mass shootings between 2009 and 2013 in the United States, 57 percent involved the killing of a spouse, family member or intimate partner, and in at least 17 instances, the shooter had a prior domestic violence charge.

Closing loopholes in current laws prohibiting gun sales to people convicted of domestic violence, as proposed in a bill by Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, would be one small but useful step in reducing gun-related killings.

Cazenovia, N.Y., May 27, 2014

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