Posts Tagged ‘Giffords’

People With Mental Illness Buying Guns? The NRA is Okay with It

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

It is no secret that many mass shooters have severe psychiatric illnesses at the time of their crimes. From Virginia Tech, Aurora and Tucson, to the Navy Yard, Umpqua, Roanoke and Orlando shootings, most shooters exhibited clear mental illness before their deeds.

 

What is a secret is that while the gun lobby says the “real problem” behind gun violence is mental illness, it actually works–stealthily- behind the scenes to restore the “gun rights” of people with severe mental illness.

 

 

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After the Virginia Tech murders, NRA lobbyists were successful in pushing through a provision in the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] 2007 amendments that allows the restoration of gun rights of mentally ill people if they “will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety” and if “the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.”

 

The NRA, in a newsletter to its followers, did not hide the fact that the maneuver was a con job that looked like tightened gun access but actually did the opposite–improved access to guns for people with mental illness.

 

“In several ways this bill is better for gun owners than current law,” read the NRA website. “Under H.R. 2640, certain types of mental health orders will no longer prohibit a person from possessing or receiving a firearm. Examples are adjudications that have expired or been removed, or commitments from which a person has been completely released with no further supervision required. Also excluded are federal decisions about a person’s mental health that consist only of a medical diagnosis, without a specific finding that the person is dangerous or mentally incompetent.”

 

Thanks to the gun lobby maneuver, Sam French, a Virginian who was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility and told authorities he heard voices, had his right to possess firearms reinstated and his gun returned after a short court hearing in 2009. Why should hearing voices intrude on his “gun rights”?

 

Another man who was involuntarily hospitalized in a psychiatric facility because of a meth addiction also had his “gun rights” restored, reported the Oregonian. He soon had a “new XDM Springfield handgun at his side,” wrote the paper. Nice.

 

Reject These Gun Lobby Lies

 

The U.S. gun violence epidemic which takes 90 lives a day, 31 from homicides, is predicated on key gun lobby lies. “Criminals don’t follow laws,” says the lobby despite the fact that 85 percent of mass shooters since 1981 have been legal gun owners not criminals.

 

“It takes a good guy to stop a bad guy” says the lobby despite the fact that 18 law enforcement officers were shot by legal gun owners (not “criminals”) in one week this summer.

 

And finally, “the real problem is mental illness” says the lobby even as it helps people with mental illness own guns. But of course every country in the world has mental illness–rich and poor, industrialized and developing. What they do not have are massacres like Virginia Tech, Aurora, Umpqua or Orlando because they don’t have the gun lobby arming their mentally ill population.

 

Ten Years Ago Today in Gun Violence

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

 

Do you know what you were doing ten years ago? The families of these victims do. Ten years ago in Chicago, Starkesia Reed, 14 was killed when a stray bullet from an AK-47 assault rifle went through the window of her family’s house. She was eating an orange and getting ready for school. Eleven days later and a few blocks away, Siretha White, 10, was killed when a stray bullet went through the window of her aunt’s home. She was attending a surprise birthday party for her cousin.

 

The Chicago innocent bystanders were just the start, ten years ago. The same month, Seattle had its second worst massacre in 20 years when Aaron Kyle Huff, draped in bandoliers of shotgun shells, killed six at a Seattle party. Police later found an assault rifle and several large-capacity ammunition magazines in his vehicle as well. Huff’s two weapons–a 12-gauge Winchester Defender shotgun with an extended magazine and a pistol grip and a .40-caliber Ruger semiautomatic handgun–with which some victims were shot twice, were legal. So legal, they were returned to him by police after a prior shooting arrest in 2000! He had “rights”!

 

Days earlier, Jennifer San Marco, a person with psychosis who passed her background check, killed six at a postal facility and a neighbor in Goleta, California with a gun she bought at a pawn shop. She was known for shouting furiously to herself, peeling off her clothes in random parking lots, kneeling in prayer by the roadside and ordering food at restaurants and bolted out the door before eating it—but she was a legal gun owner.

 

Why has nothing changed for ten years? Because there is no gun violence, no massacre that will move the 34 senators from pro-gun states to allow gun safety legislation. After the Sandy Hook massacre, federal lawmakers would not even elevate gun trafficking to a felony. After the San Bernardino massacre, federal lawmakers refused to close the Terror Watch List loophole—placing the “gun rights” of possible terrorists above the right of citizens to not be shot at an office party! And of course, no gun legislation was passed after the shooting of Rep. Giffords.

 

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Money, however, talks. It took about a week for Indiana lawmakers to change their mind about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when Apple, American Airlines, the NCAA college sports league and others threatened to pull their convention business. Now companies like PayPal and Wells Fargo, sport associations like the NBA and entertainers are exerting a similar effect on states with “bathroom” laws.

 

There is no question the pro-gun movement is on the wrong side of history. Only 18 percent of millennials even own guns. But at 30,000 gun deaths in the US a year—10,000 homicides—can we afford to wait for the pro-gun movement to fade away? Learn what you can do now on our website http://gunvictimsaction.org

 

 

 

 

Do you remember this 1988 school shooting? The NRA hopes not.

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

 

 

Chicago

 

“Laws Failing To Keep Guns Out Of Hands Of Disturbed” wrote the Chicago Tribune. “Suspect Had History Of Bizarre Acts.”

 

It is a headline that could have run after the Virginia Tech, Aurora, Santa Barbara, Fort Hood, Navy Yard, Tucson, Charleston, Chattanooga, Lafayette, Chapel Hill and Roanoke shootings–but it ran in Chicago in May of 1988. Then, like now, a clearly violent and mentally disturbed person bought a gun legally and unleashed a mass shooting. Then, like now (except in states with gun orders of protection) police could not confiscate a would-murderer’s guns because she had “rights.”

 

In May, 1988, a 30- year-old former babysitter named Laurie Dann who everyone knew was mentally ill shot six students at Hubbard Woods Elementary School, one of whom died, and another man before killing herself. Not only did Dann buy a gun legally, it was obvious to everyone around her what he intentions were.

 

Dann had a “thing” for raw meat, putting it under her mattress at college and stealing it from families she babysat for. She rode elevators for hours wearing rubber gloves to avoid touching the metal, appeared naked and started fires. Two days before the school shootings, Dann mailed arsenic laced snacks to former acquaintances and her psychiatrist and hand delivered others to fraternities at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

 

After the Dann shootings, the community was outraged and fought the gun lobby which quickly descended (as it always does) to make sure no laws were passed just because a few kids got shot. At a town meeting, a gun advocate who yelled that a “handgun ban will hurt people” and criminals will get guns anyway was actually booed off the stage. Years later, Hubbard Woods School officials disinvited First Lady Laura Bush from a visit because of the Bush Administration’s inaction on guns.

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But by 2008, the Illinois gun lobby was king again. It killed a universal background check bill and bills to limit handgun purchases to one a month and to toughen child gun safety laws. Then as now, the bloodshed was cast as the “price of freedom” and not reason to take away the “right” to buy numerous handguns a month or the “right” to background check-free weapons sales at gun shows. The NRA not only helps traffickers and criminals by blocking such laws, it works for people under orders of protection or just released from mental institutions to keep their guns. 

 

There have been hundreds of shootings since Dann’s and no federal gun safety laws passed since 1993. Even after the murder of 20 six-year-olds, federal lawmakers thought universal background checks were too extreme. That is why, NGVAC recommends economic leverage and novel legal strategies that can stop gun violence now.

 

National Gun Victims Action Council (NGVAC) is a non-profit network of 14 million gun victims, survivors, the faith community and ordinary people leveraging their buying power to change America’s gun laws. NGVAC initiated the successful action that caused Starbucks to change its gun policy. NGVAC pursues novel legal strategies to reduce gun violence and encourages corporate involvement. NGVAC can be found at www.gunvictimsaction.org.

 

 

 

Will On Camera Assassinations Be a Tipping Point? Or Is More Gun Bloodshed Necessary?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

 

Reporter and cameraman gunned down during live newscast? Beloved professor killed by another professor in his campus office? Another day of gun bloodshed in the US.

 

After mass shootings the media “play by play” is always the same. First the nation is horrified, then the suspect’s “mental illness” is examined, then memorial services are held and then, after self-muting for three days, gun advocates surface to say “no laws” could have prevented the carnage because the “real problem” is mental illness.

 

Wrong on all counts. First, the Charleston, Chattanooga and Roanoke suspects were legal gun owners despite clear mental problems. The gun lobby loves to say criminals don’t follow gun laws but the Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood, Navy Yard, NIU and Santa Barbara shooters–and most other mass gun murderers– followed the letter of the law.

 

Secondly, other countries have as many mentally ill people as we do—but they have gun laws. After the Dunblane school massacre in the United Kingdom in 1996 and the Port Arthur massacre in Australia the same year, laws were passed that prevented future shootings. They learned their lesson. By way of contrast, after the US’s Red Lake massacre in 2005, laws were passed in the US to make it illegal to sue the gun industry.

 

In response to the gun lovers who like to argue “should knives, hammers and cars be outlawed too,” no one has ever wounded 82 people in seconds with a knife as the Aurora killer did with a gun. On the same day as the Sandy Hook murders, a man in China stabbed the same number of school children and none died. It’s the guns, stupid.

 

Many do not realize or can’t believe that the NRA works for the “gun rights” of convicted felons, domestic abusers and people under orders of protection because they have gun rights too. Most people under orders of protection are men, of course and eight women were shot by their husbands in the last week of August—six died.

 

Right after the Aurora movie theater shootings we, at NGVAC, were alerted by an ex-wife to a convicted domestic abuser who was collecting guns and military weapons, which he was legally banned from doing, and donning body armor. We were told by two police departments the possible mass-shooter-in-the-making had the “right” to his arsenal and society would just have to wait until he killed before they could do anything. What?

 

August’s on camera murders, July’s movie and military murders or June’s church murders may not have been a tipping point–but the whole nation knows one is coming. One of these days, one too many gun victim families will ask why their loved one was killed and why their lawmakers are serving the NRA not them.

 

 

 

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