More guns, more guns, more guns.

image of assualt riflesThere’s no room for disagreement in the gun debate these days, no dissent is tolerated. It somehow makes you unpatriotic to worry about public safety or even express concern about the trend to eliminate virtually every regulation of firearms.

Read more about how North Carolina law makers would further loosen gun restrictions:

via More guns, more guns, more guns. | NC Policy Watch.

Advertisements

Law enforcement and the “dangerous person”

Most police officers have frequent contact with people with mental illness, but have minimal training in recognizing the symptoms and assessing when they should be taken to a clinic or emergency room for further evaluation. Perhaps the most useful intervention … is to provide police officers with some good, basic mental health knowledge.

When guns are present, officers might use de-escalation skills to temporarily remove weapons from individuals at-risk of violence or suicide.  If one happens to be in a state such as Indiana that has a preemptive “dangerous person” gun seizure law, police can remove firearms without a warrant, pending a judicial hearing, even if the person with mental illness is not imminently dangerous at the time and wouldn’t meet criteria for involuntary commitment.

We also might examine the minimum age at which people can easily purchase guns. FBI data indicate that 45 percent of identified murderers are younger than age 25.  Many young adults are experiencing (often for the first time) serious mental health or social difficulties, and thus pose special risks to themselves and others. Rental car companies apply extra scrutiny to drivers under the age of 25. Perhaps there’s a lesson there for gun policy.

via Why law enforcement missed Elliot Rodger’s warnings signs – The Washington Post.

Pistol-Whipped

. . . A common refrain from gun proponents after a deadly mass shooting is that if only somebody at the scene had been armed, lives would have been saved. This idea, which underpins most gun marketing efforts, overlooks two important points: that guns in the home are more likely to be used against their owners than against invaders; and that without sufficient training and practice, citizens should not expect to be able to defend themselves with a gun.

In many states, the requirements for a concealed carry permit do not go far enough to establish whether the applicant knows how to operate a firearm in a high-pressure situation. Combined with gun-industry-backed statutes like “stand your ground” laws, it’s a recipe for more gun violence.

The battle over guns should not be between gun owners and nonowners; it should be between a gun industry that wants to promote gun sales at all costs, and an American public that acknowledges that there are legitimate, public-health reasons to regulate the purchase and use of firearms.

A balance can be struck between protecting the individual right to bear arms and the individual need to be safe. Part of that work involves determining what policies are in the public interest, rather than in the gun industry’s interest.

via Diana Wueger for Democracy Journal: Pistol-Whipped.

An Epidemic of Shootings by Toddlers

Toddlers should be playing with flowers and other harmless objects, but recently, at least six picked up guns instead, with tragic consequences. Unsecured firearms are a significant health and safety risk, and young children account for the majority of such accidents at home because they often don’t understand what they are playing with. As the nation ignites with debate over gun control, these cases illustrate the critical need for a rational discussion on how to manage guns responsibly while ensuring public safety.

In Tennessee, Josephine G. Fanning died after being shot by a four-year-old child when he gained access to a gun that was set down just for a moment: by a law enforcement officer, no less. Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Fanning unlocked a gun case to show a rifle to a guest at a cookout, removing a handgun in the process, and the child picked it up, firing a single fatal round. While the death is being treated as an accident, it’s a stark reminder that even law enforcement officers with extensive training can make unwise decisions when it comes to handling firearms.

In South Carolina, a three-year-old is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot would. Few details about the case are available, but the child apparently found the gun and pulled the trigger, suggesting that it was lying in an area accessible to children, and had been left both loaded and unlocked.

In Alabama, another four-year-old shot himself after finding an unsecured and unlocked handgun. The revolver was in a household belonging to someone who cannot legally own firearms due to previous violent criminal convictions.

In New Jersey, a four-year-old boy shot and killed a six-year-old playmate with a rifle that “accidentally discharged.” The specifics of where the rifle was and why it was left unsecured are not clear.

In Tennessee, a mother survived an abdominal wound after her two-year-old shot her with a handgun found under her pillow. She was asleep with her new baby at the time, making it remarkable that this case didn’t turn into a double tragedy.

In Georgia, another thankfully non-fatal tale, of a toddler who found an unsecured gun under a bed and shot himself in the thumb.

These cases are being used as a compelling argument for more extensive gun control in the United States, on the ground that we shouldn’t have to fear an epidemic of armed toddlers. But they’re also an argument for cracking down on responsible gun ownership.

They all involved situations in which potentially lethal weapons were left loaded, unlocked and unsecured in an area where they could be reached by a young child. In at least one case, the gun owner had sufficient training and experience to know better when it comes to appropriate gun handling and storage, yet thought it would be okay “just for a minute” to go against protocol.

In a nation with a deeply-embedded gun culture, it’s critical not just to discuss ways to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands, but also to talk about how to foster responsible, mature gun ownership. Unfortunately, the people most likely to pursue legal avenues including licensing, safety classes and refresher courses on gun safety are also those most likely to use guns responsibly, while criminals will continue to accrue weapons via illegal means, and store them unsafely.

Can the United States reform, and balance, its gun culture to protect the safety of children and members of the general public, or will extreme conservatives dominate the discussion about what nature these reforms will take?

via An Epidemic of Shootings by Toddlers | Care2 Causes.