Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

How the NRA has blocked gun control in the U.S.

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Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2022 at 10:58 am

American gun violence has immense costs beyond the death toll, new studies find

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For decades Republican blocked any government-funded study of the social effects of firearms in the US, presumably because they strongly suspected what such studies would reveal and, in their typical bad-faith attitude, they were determined to prevent the public from knowing what was happening.[

The ukase against studies was recently lifted, and we are now getting an idea of the true toll exacted by widely available firearms. Eric Westervelt reports for NPR:

On one level, it’s almost impossible to put a dollar figure on lives shattered by gun violence or to try to measure the pain of having a loved one killed or seriously injured.

But researchers of two new studies using federal health care and hospital data underscore that the repercussions from firearm deaths and injuries are deeper, wider and far costlier than previously known.

In a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Zirui Song and colleagues found a four-fold increase in health care spending as a direct result of a non-fatal firearm injury.

Dr. Song, an Associate Professor of Health Care Policy and Medicine at Harvard Medical School, also charts a substantial increase in other health disorders that undermine a person’s health and well-being.

“In the first year after a non-fatal firearm injury, survivors experienced a 40% increase in physical pain or other forms of pain syndromes; a 50% increase in psychiatric disorders; and an 85% increase in substance use disorders,” Dr. Song says, while on break from his rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he practices internal medicine. He adds more research is needed as to exactly why those addiction numbers and other disorders go up so dramatically.

“These results are disturbing and we, as a research team, found them quite striking, as well,” he says. “The ripple effects are quite profound and meaningful for both survivors and family members and, I would argue, clinically and economically substantial.”

And those effects aren’t just on those injured by bullets. The study shows family members of survivors, too, can carry massive physical and mental burdens.

“Family members on average, including parents, siblings and children, experienced a 12% increase in psychiatric disorders,” he says.

The study is based largely on healthcare claims data, not hospital survey or discharge data. Dr. Song says that allows for a more detailed look at spending than previous studies based on other types of data.

“There is really an undercurrent of forgotten survivors whose own health and economic conditions are affected quite profoundly, even though they were lucky enough to survive,” he tells NPR.

And the financial burden for this fallout is mostly landing on the shoulders of taxpayers and employees: Dr. Song’s study shows 96% of the increase in health care spending on firearm injuries is shouldered by Medicare and U.S. employers.

“In direct costs alone, it’s $2.5 billion in healthcare spending in the first year after non-fatal firearm injuries,” he says. “This number is much larger if you include indirect costs of lost wages or productivity.”

A study out this week by Everytown for Gun Safety delves into that larger picture and looks at a wide range of direct and indirect costs from all gun violence in America, fatal as well as gun injuries.

“This epidemic is costing our nation $557 billion annually,” says Sarah Burd-Sharps, research director at the gun control advocacy group. “Looking at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 July 2022 at 10:59 am

The Uvalde shooting video: A 30-year law enforcement officer provides a minute-by-minute breakdown of what happened

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In The Grid, Maggie Severna interviews Frank G. Straub, director of the Center for Targeted Violence Prevention at the National Policing Institute, a nonpartisan research nonprofit, about the video of the Uvalde shooting. The article begins:

A video released this week by the Austin American-Statesman gives an unsettling look into the police response to the May mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The footage — from security cameras inside the school — shows an apparently disorganized group of police idling down the hall from the part of the building the shooter was in for nearly an hour after he opened fire inside the school, while children and teachers were dying in nearby classrooms without medical care. Some of the officers appear to be holding ballistic shields capable of blocking the shooter’s gunfire.

The police actions in the video run counter to standard active shooter training that officers across the country — including the Uvalde police force — receive today, said Frank G. Straub, director of the Center for Targeted Violence Prevention at the National Policing Institute, a nonpartisan research nonprofit. And it was a departure from law enforcement response to other recent mass shootings.

“The sad reality that we have learned over the years since Columbine is that we can’t wait,” said Straub, who has reviewed many videos of mass shootings as part of his work. “The first officers on scene have to go in, have to respond to hearing gun shots, and they have to neutralize the shooter or shooters as quickly as possible. And they do that recognizing that there is great risk to themselves of serious injury or death.”

Several mass shootings in recent years, including those at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and in San Bernardino, California, saw rapid police intervention, Straub said, and the carnage in those cases could have been significantly worse if police didn’t work to quickly stop the shooting and get medical care to victims, he said.

Straub agreed to watch the new footage from inside Robb Elementary School and share his minute-by-minute analysis with Grid. Prior to becoming a researcher, Straub spent three decades in law enforcement in roles that included police chief in Spokane, Washington, and public safety commissioner in White Plains, New York. He holds a Ph.D. in criminal justice and has led studies of several mass shootings.

“It almost had the feel to me, looking at the video, that people didn’t understand that this was real,” Straub told Grid. “It was almost like something you would see during an active shooter drill or a training exercise, more than what you would see when you knew that active shots had been fired and there were people in those classrooms.”

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Grid: The first part of the video shows the gunman crashing his car outside the school and firing a gun at two men who approach the crash. We hear a teacher call 911, and we see the gunman enter the school and go to a classroom. He fires an AR-15 in two classrooms for two-and-a-half minutes. Three minutes after the gunman walked in, police officers enter the school. From a police officer’s perspective, what is going on and what needs to be done at this point?

Frank G. Staub: The officers theoretically know that they got a 911 call from a teacher saying there’s been shots fired and kids are running. I believe 911 calls went out after he crashed the car, so the police are going into this situation knowing there have been shots fired inside and outside of this school when they’re arriving. That’s an important piece of context to this. They probably have no idea how many shots have been fired in the school, but clearly you can see the arriving officers know there’s shooting going on.

I think they do the right thing: The first group of officers who get there immediately advance down the hallway. From what I can see, one of them had a rifle, the other three look like they had handguns. Nobody has vests other than their duty vests, and duty vests typically don’t stop rifle rounds.

Then we see, at four minutes [after the shooter entered the school], there’s gunfire directed at the officers in the hallway. What I don’t know is, what provoked that? Did the shooter hear noises in the hallway and fire out the door? It looks like one of the officers took some type of shrapnel in the face, and they retreat.

What I don’t know is, when they first went down there, did they just stand outside the classroom, or did they try to enter the classroom? We can’t tell. They should’ve made an effort to enter the classroom where they heard gunfire. Why they didn’t, I don’t know. But in theory, they should’ve tried to enter the room. They know the person is in there, they know he’s shooting, so their job is to stop that individual from firing additional shots.

G: How might this situation have looked to those officers? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 July 2022 at 11:27 am

The dystopia in which US school-age children live

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Atoms vs Bits has an interesting post that begins:

You rise before dawn to make it on time to your government-mandated job. Despite having a medical condition that means you need significantly more sleep than average, compulsory work starts early and it’s still dark out when you catch the commuter bus.

In the hallway to your office, you see that a subordinate has displeased his boss; something about his uniform not being to spec. He’s violently shoved through the wall of a cubicle with a laugh while others hurry past, hoping to escape notice. The victim dusts himself off and scurries away, for that exchange counted as getting off relatively easy. Once, after transferring departments, you’d gotten beaten up by nearly the entire C-suite.

Your day consists of boredom punctuated by intense dread, the only real relief being lunch. On the way there you remember to take the long way around to avoid the accounting department, which is always a likely place to get jumped.

After lunch, as you sit browsing excel sheets, a passing colleague stops by to call you a sand n*****. You briefly remember HR’s suggested reply of “I know you are, but what am I?”, but alas, this colleague is not in fact a sand n*****, so you sit silent, defeated.

It will be several more years before you’re allowed to resign.

That’s not a dystopian future, it’s just an office-worker version of what many kids go through daily. Adults take for granted how much being a kid can suck, so let’s count the ways:

1. You might have to fight Shaq

The story illustrates the level of violence we accept amongst children in otherwise non-violent societies, but it gets even worse: differing speeds of development lead to huge differences in size and strength, meaning bullying is often like getting picked on by a Shaq-like giant. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 July 2022 at 11:27 am

‘They are preparing for war’: An expert on civil wars discusses where political extremists are taking this country

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I came across the Washington Post interview below (gift link, no paywall) via a Facebook post by Rebecca Solnit, who extracted some of the article:

The CIA also has a manual on insurgency. You can Google it and find it online.

[See “Guide to the Analysis of Insurgency” (PDF), which seems to be the manual she has in mind. See also:  “Estimating State Instability” (PDF). See also this page on the Wilson Center website: “Political Instability Task Force: New Findings” (2004) – LG]

Most of it is not redacted. And it’s absolutely fascinating to read. It’s not a big manual. And it was written, I’m sure, to help the U.S. government identify very, very early stages of insurgency. So if something’s happening in the Philippines, or something’s happening in Indonesia. You know, what are signs that we should be looking out for?

And the manual talks about three stages. And the first stage is . . .

The Washinton Post interview is from March 8, 2022, and was done by KK Ottesen (and again: that’s a gift link). The quoted passage above is taken from the interview, which begins:

Barbara F. Walter, 57, is a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego and the author of “How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them,” which was released in January. She lives in San Diego with her husband.

Having studied civil wars all over the world, and the conditions that give rise to them, you argue in your book, somewhat chillingly, that the United States is coming dangerously close to those conditions. Can you explain that?

So we actually know a lot about civil wars — how they start, how long they last, why they’re so hard to resolve, how you end them. And we know a lot because since 1946, there have been over 200 major armed conflicts. And for the last 30 years, people have been collecting a lot of data, analyzing the data, looking at patterns. I’ve been one of those people.

We went from thinking, even as late as the 1980s, that every one of these was unique. And the way people studied it is they would be a Somalia expert, a Yugoslavia expert, a Tajikistan expert. And everybody thought their case was unique and that you could draw no parallels. Then methods and computers got better, and people like me came and could collect data and analyze it. And what we saw is that there are lots of patterns at the macro level.

In 1994, the U.S. government put together this Political Instability Task Force. They were interested in trying to predict what countries around the world were going to become unstable, potentially fall apart, experience political violence and civil war.

Was that out of the State Department?

That was done through the CIA. And the task force was a mix of academics, experts on conflict, and data analysts. And basically what they wanted was: In all of your research, tell us what you think seems to be important. What should we be considering when we’re thinking about the lead-up to civil wars?

Originally the model included over 30 different factors, like poverty, income inequality, how diverse religiously or ethnically a country was. But only two factors came out again and again as highly predictive. And it wasn’t what people were expecting, even on the task force. We were surprised. The first was this variable called anocracy. There’s this nonprofit based in Virginia called the Center for Systemic Peace. And every year it measures all sorts of things related to the quality of the governments around the world. How autocratic or how democratic a country is. And it has this scale that goes from negative 10 to positive 10. Negative 10 is the most authoritarian, so think about North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. Positive 10 are the most democratic. This, of course, is where you want to be. This would be Denmark, Switzerland, Canada. The U.S. was a positive 10 for many, many years. It’s no longer a positive 10. And then it has this middle zone between positive 5 and negative 5, which was you had features of both. If you’re a positive 5, you have more democratic features, but definitely have a few authoritarian elements. And, of course, if you’re negative 5, you have more authoritarian features and a few democratic elements. The U.S. was briefly downgraded to a 5 and is now an 8.

And what scholars found was that this anocracy variable was really predictive of a risk for civil war. That full democracies almost never have civil wars. Full autocracies rarely have civil wars. All of the instability and violence is happening in this middle zone. And there’s all sorts of theories why this middle zone is unstable, but one of the big ones is that these governments tend to be weaker. They’re transitioning to either actually becoming more democratic, and so some of the authoritarian features are loosening up. The military is giving up control. And so it’s easier to organize a challenge. Or, these are democracies that are backsliding, and there’s a sense that these governments are not that legitimate, people are unhappy with these governments. There’s infighting. There’s jockeying for power. And so they’re weak in their own ways. Anyway, that turned out to be highly predictive.

And then the second factor was whether populations in these partial democracies began to organize politically, not around ideology — so, not based on whether you’re a communist or not a communist, or you’re a liberal or a conservative — but where the parties themselves were based almost exclusively around identity: ethnic, religious or racial identity. The quintessential example of this is what happened in the former Yugoslavia.

So for you, personally, what was the moment the ideas began to connect, and you thought: Wait a minute, I see these patterns in my country right now?

My dad is from Germany. He was born in 1932 and lived through the war there, and he emigrated here in 1958. He had been a Republican his whole life, you know; we had the Reagan calendar in the kitchen every year.

And starting in early 2016, I would go home to visit, and my dad — he doesn’t agitate easily, but he was so agitated. All he wanted to do was talk about Trump and what he was seeing happening. He was really nervous. It was almost visceral — like, he was reliving the past. Every time I’d go home, he was just, like, “Please tell me Trump’s not going to win.” And I would tell him, “Dad, Trump is not going to win.” And he’s just, like, “I don’t believe you; I saw this once before. And I’m seeing it again, and the Republicans, they’re just falling in lockstep behind him.” He was so nervous.

I remember saying: “Dad, what’s really different about America today from Germany in the 1930s is that our democracy is really strong. Our institutions are strong. So, even if you had a Trump come into power, the institutions would hold strong.” Of course, then Trump won. We would have these conversations where my dad would draw all these parallels. The brownshirts and the attacks on the media and the attacks on education and on books. And he’s just, like, I’m seeing it. I’m seeing it all again here. And that’s really what shook me out of my complacency, that here was this man who is very well educated and astute, and he was shaking with fear. And I was like, Am I being naive to think that we’re different?

That’s when I started to follow the data. And then, watching what happened to the Republican Party really was the bigger surprise — that, wow, they’re doubling down on this almost white supremacist strategy. That’s a losing strategy in a democracy. So why would they do that? Okay, it’s worked for them since the ’60s and ’70s, but you can’t turn back demographics. And then I was like, Oh my gosh. The only way this is a winning strategy is if you begin to weaken the institutions; this is the pattern we see in other countries. And, as an American citizen I’m like, These two factors are emerging here, and people don’t know.

So I gave a talk at UCSD about this — and it was a complete bomb. Not . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2022 at 9:11 pm

The New Gun Reform Law Is the Biggest Expansion of Medicaid Since Obamacare

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Abdul El-Sayed reports in The New Republic:

. . .  Though the new law has been touted as the most expansive gun law passed in 30 years, the bar for gun reform is admittedly low. And while any progress on gun reform is laudable—and the law is likely to have some impact on gun access—the most important effects of the law will be felt elsewhere.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act has been framed as a gun reform, but perhaps a more fitting frame for the law is as the biggest single expansion of mental health care in American history—and the biggest expansion of Medicaid—with a few gun provisions.

To be sure, packaging the two together makes both gun reform and mental health advocates uncomfortable. The overwhelming majority of people with mental illness will never commit a violent act, though statistics show that they’re more likely to be victims. Tying mental illness with gun violence only stigmatizes it, reducing the likelihood that people who need care will get it. But gun rights activists see mental illness as a convenient distraction from the fundamental issue driving gun violence—the guns themselves.

Getting Republican participation on any gun reform, though, required that the two be linked. And any investment in our anemic mental health care system—whatever the pretext—should be welcomed. So the new law leverages Medicaid to vastly expand America’s mental health infrastructure through a system of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, or CCBHCs, and school mental health investments.

I spoke with Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, the program’s architect, about how it happened. “The Republicans wanted to do something big on mental health. At the beginning, they wanted to do it at the exclusion of gun safety. We all said no. I mean, this is the issue of guns. But yes, of course, if you want to do something along with it on mental health,” Stabenow told me.

The law’s massive investment in mental health care didn’t just happen over the course of a few weeks. It was the product of nearly a decade of slow, methodical planning. Stabenow and GOP Missouri Senator Roy Blunt had been co-sponsors of the bill reauthorizing community health center funding—consistent federal dollars to support community clinics—when Stabenow proposed a similar approach to funding mental health care. Until that point, mental health clinics were forced to operate on grants that they simply couldn’t rely on. “On the behavioral health side of things, it [was] all stop and start. It [was] all grants that go away,” Stabenow told me.

She approached the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, to design quality standards for the proposed mental health centers that would eventually become CCBHCs. These included 24-hour psychiatric crisis services and integration with physical health services. Stabenow and Blunt eventually co-sponsored a 2013 bill that was signed into law the next year by President Obama. The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act initially allocated $1 billion to fund a demonstration project across 10 states. The program offers enhanced Medicaid reimbursements to cover 80 to 90 percent of the start-up and operating costs for CCBHCs meeting SAMHSA standards.

The results were impressive. According to Stabenow, there was a 60 percent reduction in jail bookings stemming from mental health crises, a 63 percent reduction in mental health emergency room visits, and a 41 percent decline in homelessness.

The act was reauthorized in 2021 as the need for community mental health service boomed with the Covid-19 pandemic. The program grew to have a footprint across 41 states with additional support in each of the Covid funding packages. And that was when the shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, created the space for a full national expansion through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

When I asked Stabenow if this was the biggest expansion of Medicaid since the Affordable Care Act, she said, “Yes, no question, and … it’s the biggest investment in mental health and addiction services ever.”

The irony of this moment is that Republicans have been working at the state and federal levels to restrict Medicaid, if not gut it entirely, since it was created as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. And yet mental illness and substance use have devastated low-income white communities, Republican strongholds, over the past several decades. The need to actually invest in solutions in these communities coupled with the need to be seen to be responding to America’s growing gun violence epidemic is what ultimately spurred Republicans to invest in and expand a program they claim to hate.

But it’s also the fact that Democrats like Stabenow made it easier. “I didn’t lean in the beginning on emphasizing Medicaid,” she said. “I know it’s Medicaid. He knew it was Medicaid. But we just talked about what should be funding this.… I was trying to get them to see, look, we have this system that works, and everybody loves community health centers.”

The victory for mental health care, on its own, is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2022 at 11:14 am

How right-wing Republicans will take over the US in 2024

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The following scenario seems not at all unlikely, given what we have seen in the past few years.

Click the link and read the thread.

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2022 at 9:15 pm

Two Professors Found What Creates a Mass Shooter. Will Politicians Pay Attention?

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I think we can safely assume that Republican politicians will not pay attention. Melanie Warner interviews two research scholars in Politico Magazine:

Each time a high-profile mass shooting happens in America, a grieving and incredulous nation scrambles for answers. Who was this criminal and how could he (usually) have committed such a horrendous and inhumane act? A few details emerge about the individual’s troubled life and then everyone moves on.

Three years ago, Jillian Peterson, an associate professor of criminology at Hamline University, and James Densley, a professor of criminal justice at Metro State University, decided to take a different approach. In their view, the failure to gain a more meaningful and evidence-based understanding of why mass shooters do what they do seemed a lost opportunity to stop the next one from happening. Funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, their research constructed a database of every mass shooter since 1966 who shot and killed four or more people in a public place, and every shooting incident at schools, workplaces and places of worship since 1999.

Peterson and Densley also compiled detailed life histories on 180 shooters, speaking to their spouses, parents, siblings, childhood friends, work colleagues and teachers. As for the gunmen themselves, most don’t survive their carnage, but five who did talked to Peterson and Densely from prison, where they were serving life sentences. The researchers also found several people who planned a mass shooting but changed their mind.

Their findings, also published in the 2021 book, The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic, reveal striking commonalities among the perpetrators of mass shootings and suggest a data-backed, mental health-based approach could identify and address the next mass shooter before he pulls the trigger — if only politicians are willing to actually engage in finding and funding targeted solutions. POLITICO talked to Peterson and Densely from their offices in St. Paul, Minn., about how our national understanding about mass shooters has to evolve, why using terms like “monster” is counterproductive, and why political talking points about mental health need to be followed up with concrete action.

POLITICO: Since you both spend much of your time studying mass shootings, I wonder if you had the same stunned and horrified reaction as the rest of us to the Uvalde elementary school shooting. Or were you somehow expecting this?

Jillian Peterson: On some level, we were waiting because mass shootings are socially contagious and when one really big one happens and gets a lot of media attention, we tend to see others follow. But this one was particularly gutting. I have three elementary school kids, one of which is in 4th grade.

James Densley: I’m also a parent of two boys, a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old. My 12-year-old knows what I do for a living and he’s looking to me for reassurance and I didn’t have the words for him. How do I say, “This happened at a school, but now it’s OK for you to go to your school and live your life.” It’s heartbreaking.

POLITICO: Are you saying there’s a link between the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings?

Peterson: We don’t know for sure at this point, but our research would say that it’s likely. You had an 18-year-old commit a horrific mass shooting. His name is everywhere and we all spend days talking about “replacement theory.” That shooter was able to get our attention. So, if you have another 18-year-old who is on the edge and watching everything, that could be enough to embolden him to follow. We have seen this happen before.

Densley: Mass shooters study other mass shooters. They often find a way of relating to them, like, “There are other people out there who feel like me.”

POLITICO: Can you take us through the profile of mass shooters that emerged from your research?

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 June 2022 at 1:03 pm

When Your God Is a Gun

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The image above is from John Pavlovitz’s thoughtful post, which begins:


To paraphrase a wise man, “They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.”

Every day my timeline is filled with God and Gun Christians.

The two words are frequently given the same place of adoration.

They are spoken of with kindred reverence.

They are allotted equal fervor.

God. Gun.

Those two words are used with such similar frequency on their social media bios, and often so tethered together in their conversations and in their sermons that they are inextricable. 

And what you realize if you pay attention, is that the God and the gun have been conflated: that they really only worship one of those; that only one has their hearts.

Whenever I see these posturing professed disciples of a heat-packin’ deity, whether friends, strangers, influencers, or politicians, I don’t need to know anything about them to be certain of one thing about them: they have no idea who Jesus is.

They may have an image on their wall or in their heads that they worship; one burned into their psyches by brimstone-breathing preachers and angry older relatives and NRA ad campaigns—but it sure as heck ain’t Jesus of Nazareth.

It is not the gentle, compassionate, open-hearted, non-violent rabbi Jesus who shunned retributive violence, who warned against eye-for-an-eye myopia, who preached the blessing of peace toward the world—and who allowed himself to be unfairly arrested and beaten and murdered, to show that love is the last, loudest word.

I feel deep sorrow for these people, because I see the scalding fear that they mistake for spiritual passion; the perverted narrative that plays in their heads that tells them danger lurks around every corner; the paradox of a God who protects them and yet compels them to strap a weapon to themselves because that God likely won’t.

What does it say about your faith or about the character of the God you profess that faith in, that you must be armed at all times: at the grocery store or picking up your child at day care—or the halls of Congress?

How do you reconcile a supreme and loving Creator you supposedly trust enough to go maskless in a deadly pandemic, but not enough to leave a weapon at home when you go to your son’s little league game?

What kind of exhausting theological gymnastics do you need to do, to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 June 2022 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Daily life, Guns, Religion

State Laws Most Effective at Stopping Mass Shootings

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In Bloomberg, Linda Poon has an interview with Michael Siegel, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine who has studied the impact of gun laws on firearm violence. The entire interview is worth reading, but here are some extracts from the article and interview (emphasis added):

. . . “To be very honest, we have enough information right now to pass meaningful policy,” says Michael Siegel, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine who has studied the impact of gun laws on firearm violence. “To me, the main [barrier] is the political will, and why policymakers are not willing to stand up to the NRA.”

In 2020, while he was at Boston University, Siegel led a study looking specifically at the link between various types of local gun control laws that were in effect between 1976 and 2018,and the frequency and severity of mass public shootings (those that resulted in at least four victims and in which perpetrators killed indiscriminately in a public space). His team identified eight specific types of gun policies among the 89 laws, including assault weapon bans, large-capacity magazine bans, permit requirements, red-flag laws, universal background checks and laws prohibiting gun possession by people with a history of a violent misdemeanor crime.

Controlling for variables like socioeconomic factors and gun-ownership rates, the team concluded that two types laws have been most effective: State laws that require a permit to buy a firearm were linked to 60% lower odds of a mass public shooting happening, while a ban on large-capacity magazines could lower fatalities by 38% and nonfatal injuries by 77% when a mass shooting does take place. Siegel says these laws would be most effective when passed together, and ideally as part of a broader set of five basic gun policies.

. . . the first thing we looked at was what type laws are effective in preventing mass shootings from occurring in the first place. And the second aspect we looked at is, if an event does occur, are there laws that can be effective at reducing the number of casualties, specifically deaths? And we found that there were two laws that were effective, but they weren’t effective for the same thing.

Laws that require that people have a permit in order to own or purchase a gun were effective in reducing the occurrence of a mass shooting in the first place. The second law that was effective were limits on the magazine capacity — specifically laws that limit magazine capacity to fewer than 10 rounds in detachable magazines. Those were not effective in preventing mass shootings, but they were effective in reducing the number of casualties when a mass shooting occurs.

From previous research, we found that two of the most effective types of laws to prevent firearm homicide generally, [not just mass public shootings] were permit laws and universal background checks. It is not surprising the same set of policies that make it much more difficult for criminals, essentially, to get weapons are, are laws that are going to be effective both in reducing firearm homicide and mass shootings in particular.

So in a sense, there really isn’t a difference. The only difference really was specifically related to the number-of-casualty piece of mass shootings, the magazine limits do come into play. Because, you know, if you walk in with a 30-round magazine, you can shoot 30 rounds before you have to reload.

. . . What we really need is what I would call a suite of basic policies. In other words, not one policy, but a set of policies that all work together to cover different aspects of the problem. And my conclusion from what we have available now is that there are five baseline policies that every state should have.

Those are basically the three that we’ve talked about: a permitting mechanism, universal background check, and a limit on the magazine capacity. Number four is a law that basically says that anyone who has committed a violent crime — we don’t care what level it is — cannot access a gun. Not just a felony crime, but also a misdemeanor crime because federal law already prohibits people who committed a felony from possessing a gun. The problem is that there are a lot of violent crimes that just don’t rise to the felony level. For example, a lot of domestic violence crimes are just prosecuted as misdemeanors. [Interestingly, policed departments strongly oppose this law because many police officers are prone to domestic violence. – LG] A lot of crimes — somebody threatened to kill someone, or cyber harassment or stalking — are misdemeanors.

Then the fifth law that every state should have is a red flag law, or an extreme risk protection order law. That is so important because in most mass shootings, there is some warning sign that the perpetrator has given. It’s almost always the case that there was some history of threatened violence or planned violence. The red flag law allows law enforcement to take action when there is credible evidence that somebody does pose risk, and that may or may not be taking their gun away, but at the very least there’s an investigation and a court hearing that bring this to the attention of the authority so that it doesn’t sneak under the radar.

Interestingly, one law turns out to be not effective:

It may seem kind of counterintuitive or surprising, but laws that ban assault weapons don’t seem to have any impact. I think what we learned from our research is, it’s not the what, or the type of weapon; it’s the who — who has the weapons. The most important aspect of firearm policy based on our researching is having the most sensitive and specific criteria for what types of people are the most at risk, and keeping guns out of their hands. The bottom line is that there’s nothing special about an assault weapon that allows it to be more lethal in, for example, a school shooting situation. What does have an effect is the magazine capacity.

The other problem with assault weapon bans is that they’re not supported by most gun owners. Gun owners are concerned about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals or potential criminals. So the beauty of our findings is that the types of laws that we’re finding as most effective are precisely the kind of laws that gun owners support. I mean, most gun owners view gun ownership as a responsibility.

There’s really only one barrier, and that’s that a lot these lawmakers are afraid of the NRA.

Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2022 at 10:52 am

The Science Is Clear: Gun Control Saves Lives

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Very interesting article, though it is painfully clear that those who oppose gun control readily accept the cost in (others’) lives lost as simply the price of readily available firearms. The goal is gun ownership and use, and those who support unrestricted ownership and carry are comfortable with the loss of life.

The editors of Scientific American write:

Some editorials simply hurt to write. This is one.

At least 19 elementary school children and two teachers are dead, many more are injured, and a grandmother is fighting for her life in Uvalde, Tex., all because a young man, armed with an AR-15-style rifle, decided to fire in a school.

By now, you know these facts: This killing spree was the largest school shooting since Sandy Hook. Law enforcement couldn’t immediately subdue the killer. In Texas, it’s alarmingly easy to buy and openly carry a gun. In the immediate hours after the shooting, President Biden demanded reform, again. Legislators demanded reform, again. And progun politicians turned to weathered talking points: arm teachers and build safer schools.

But rather than arm our teachers (who have enough to do without keeping that gun away from students and having to train like law enforcement to confront an armed attacker), rather than spend much-needed school dollars on more metal detectors instead of education, we need to make it harder to buy a gun. Especially the kind of weapons used by this killer and the white supremacist who killed 10 people grocery shopping in Buffalo. And we need to put a lasting stop to the political obstruction of taxpayer-funded research into gun-related injuries and deaths.

The science is abundantly clear: More guns do not stop crime. Guns kill more children each year than auto accidents. More children die by gunfire in a year than on-duty police officers and active military members. Guns are a public health crisis, just like COVID, and in this, we are failing our children, over and over again.

In the U.S., we have existing infrastructure that we could easily emulate to make gun use safer: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Created by Congress in 1970, this federal agency is tasked, among other things, with helping us drive a car safely. It gathers data on automobile deaths. It’s the agency that monitors and studies seat belt usage. While we track firearm-related deaths, no such safety-driven agency exists for gun use.

During the early 1990s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began to explore gun violence as a public health issue. After studies tied having a firearm to increased homicide risk, the National Rifle Association took action, spearheading the infamous Dickey Amendment, diverting gun research dollars and preventing federal funding from being used to promote gun control. For more than 20 years, research on gun violence in this country has been hard to do.

What research we have is clear and grim. For example, in 2017, guns overtook 60 years of cars as the biggest injury-based killer of children and young adults (ages one to 24) in the U.S. By 2020, about eight in every 100,000 people died of car crashes. About 10 in every 100,000 people died of gun injuries.

While cars have become increasingly safer (it’s one of the auto industry’s main talking points in marketing these days), the gun lobby has thwarted nearly all attempts to  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

31 May 2022 at 5:43 pm

Abbott calls Texas school shooting a mental health issue but cut state spending for mental health

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Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that the Uvalde school shooter had a “mental health challenge” and the state needed to “do a better job with mental health” — yet in April he slashed $211 million from the department that oversees mental health programs.

In addition, Texas ranked last out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia for overall access to mental health care, according to the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report.

“We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health,” Abbott said during a news conference at Robb Elementary School, where a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday.

His remarks came just a day after an outraged Connecticut senator called out lawmakers opposed to gun control who seek to blame mental illness for the most recent school shooting and others before it.

In rejecting suggestions that stronger gun control laws could have prevented the tragedy, Abbott conceded the slain 18-year-old suspect had no known mental health issues or criminal history but said, “Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge.”

His assertions drew rebukes from public health experts and scholars who study mass murderers, as well as from his Democratic gubernatorial rival Beto O’Rourke, who was ejected from the news conference after storming the stage and accusing the pro-gun Republican of “doing nothing” to stop gun violence.

“There is no evidence the shooter is mentally ill, just angry and hateful,” said Lori Post, director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at the Northwestern University School of Medicine. “While it is understandable that most people cannot fathom slaughtering small children and want to attribute it to mental health, it is very rare for a mass shooter to have a diagnosed mental health condition.”

David Riedman, founder of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s K-12 School Shooting Database, said, “Overall, mass shooters are rational. They have a plan. It’s something that develops over months or years, and there’s a clear pathway to violence.”

The much bigger problem, they said, is Texas and many other states are awash in weapons.

“Texas has more guns per capita than any other state,” Post said. “After the tragic 2019 mass shooting in El Paso, the governor signed several bills to curb mass shootings; unfortunately, most of those bills involved arming the public to stop mass shooters.”

Post pointed out that police officers trained in active shootings were injured Tuesday. She and others said . . .

Continue reading. Video at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2022 at 1:33 pm

Religious faith as an antidote to gun violence

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Republican politicians are united in saying that gun restrictions will have no effect on gun violence. Michael A. Cohen writes in his Truth and Consequences column:

. . . “We have to harden these targets,” says Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick. Station armed guards at schools, says Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Meanwhile, an armed security guard was at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. There was an armed guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. He hid for cover as a mass shooter killed 17 students and teachers.

In the Dayton shooting I mentioned above, the gunman was shot dead by police just 32 seconds after he opened fire. By then, he had already killed nine people and wounded seventeen. Are we supposed to take solace in that he didn’t kill more?

Patrick also went on Fox News to declare that the scourge of gun violence results from declining religious faith and “you just cannot change character without changing a heart, and you can’t do that without turning to God.”

Cohen than provides two interesting charts. The first is from the Pew Research Center. The chart at the link is interactive and by hovering the mouse over a state you get more detailed information.

The second is from the Centers for Disease Control. The chart is for 2020 (most recent year available), and at the site you can select other years and also click a state to get more detailed information.

Cohen’s column is worth reading, but it is evident that Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick is full of shit. “Harden the targets”? Really. Armed police are clearly not enough. Is he suggesting a Special Forces squad assigned to each school?

And if the community is religious it need not fear gun violence? Look at the charts. 

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick is some combination of ignorant, deceptive, stupid, and scared.

And, for what it’s worth, Republicans in the Senate killed a bill to combat domestic terrorism (gift link, no paywall). Apparently Senate Republicans support domestic terrorism. 

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2022 at 12:43 pm

Capitalism and democracy are not synonyms

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Heather Cox Richardson:

All day, I have been coming back to this: How have we arrived at a place where 90% of Americans want to protect our children from gun violence, and yet those who are supposed to represent us in government are unable, or unwilling, to do so?

This is a central problem not just for the issue of gun control, but for our democracy itself.

It seems that during the Cold War, American leaders came to treat democracy and capitalism as if they were interchangeable. So long as the United States embraced capitalism, by which they meant an economic system in which individuals, rather than the state, owned the means of production, liberal democracy would automatically follow.

That theory seemed justified by the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The crumbling of that communist system convinced democratic nations that they had won, they had defeated communism, their system of government would dominate the future. Famously, in 1992, political philosopher Francis Fukuyama wrote that humanity had reached “the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” In the 1990s, America’s leaders believed that the spread of capitalism would turn the world democratic as it delivered to them global dominance, but they talked a lot less about democracy than they did about so-called free markets.

In fact, the apparent success of capitalism actually undercut democracy in the U.S. The end of the Cold War was a gift to those determined to destroy the popular liberal state that had regulated business, provided a basic social safety net, and invested in infrastructure since the New Deal. They turned their animosity from the Soviet Union to the majority at home, those they claimed were bringing communism to America. “​​For 40 years conservatives fought a two-front battle against statism, against the Soviet empire abroad and the American left at home,” right-wing operative Grover Norquist said in 1994. “Now the Soviet Union is gone and conservatives can redeploy. And this time, the other team doesn’t have nuclear weapons.”

Republicans cracked down on Democrats trying to preserve the active government that had been in place since the 1930s. Aided by talk radio hosts, they increasingly demonized their domestic political opponents. In the 1990 midterm elections, a political action committee associated with House Republican whip Newt Gingrich gave to Republican candidates a document called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” It urged candidates to label Democrats with words like “decay,” “failure,” “crisis,” “pathetic,” “liberal,” “radical,” “corrupt,” and “taxes,” while defining Republicans with words like “opportunity,” “moral,” “courage,” “flag,” “children,” “common sense,” “hard work,” and “freedom.” Gingrich later told the New York Times his goal was “reshaping the entire nation through the news media.”

Their focus on capitalism undermined American democracy. They objected when the Democrats in 1993 made it easier to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2022 at 12:03 am

“90% of all firearm deaths for children 0-14 years of age in high-income countries occur in the US.”

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That, of course, is because of a choice the US has made, to make gun ownership a higher priority than children’s lives. In other countries, when terrible gun massacres occur, laws are passed. Not in the US.

Source for that statistic.

From a column in the NY Times:

After the Dunblane Massacre in Scotland in 1996, in which a gunman killed 16 primary-school pupils and a teacher, the British government banned handguns. After the Port Arthur Massacre in Australia that same year, the Australian government introduced stringent gun laws, including a ban on most semiautomatic and automatic weapons as well as licensing and purchasing restrictions. After the Utoya massacre in Norway in 2011, the government banned semiautomatic firearms, persevering with the legislation despite years of opposition from a well-organized hunters’ lobby. After the Christchurch shootings in 2019, New Zealand’s government passed stringent new restrictions on gun ownership and announced a buyback program.

A list of the gun bills stalled in Congress.

Written by Leisureguy

25 May 2022 at 7:28 pm

Comparing causes of deaths worldwide

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Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2022 at 11:52 am

Ukrainian Adaptation of PKTs to Infantry Use

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Reuters has an interesting article “Kyiv auto repair shop adapts captured Russian weapons for local forces.” It begins:

A Kyiv auto mechanics workshop has jumped from car repairs and maintenance to adapting captured Russian weapons for use by Ukrainian troops defending the capital.

Oleksandr Fedchenko said he had been throwing around ideas with staff at his car repair shop after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last month, wondering how they could help outgunned local forces.

“It turned out that there are people working at our shop who know how weapons work,” he said.

Ukrainian forces have stripped large quantities of Russian heavy machine guns and other weapons from armoured vehicles they have destroyed in the three weeks since the Kremlin launched what it called a special military operation in Ukraine.

But removing their mountings and adapting them for use by troops fighting on foot requires the expertise of specialist mechanics.

“We collected a . . .

Read the whole thing.

And the video below discusses the idea and provides some historical and technical context.

Written by Leisureguy

15 March 2022 at 5:31 pm

If you want to give aid directly to Ukraine…

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In the YouTube description of the video below are these links:

National Bank of Ukraine armed forces account:…

National Bank of Ukraine humanitarian account:…

Come Back Alive:

At the beginning of the video Ian discusses the differences among the three accounts.

Written by Leisureguy

12 March 2022 at 11:37 am

Russian commanders who go to the front of the stalled column to get it going are killed by snipers. Read this detailed analysis.

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This twitter thread was written Trent Telenko, “Married father of four great kids, Retired US DoD Civil Servant, Section 22 Special Interest Group list admin, Chicagoboyz-dot-net history blogger.”

Read that thread. It is stunning.

And note this: “As war loomed, U.S. armed Ukraine to hit Russian aircraft, tanks and prep for urban combat, declassified shipment list shows.” That’s the headline of a report in the Washington Post by Karoun Demirjian and Alex Horton, and that’s a gift link (no paywall).

That report begins:

The United States drastically enhanced its shipments of lethal military aid and protective equipment to Ukraine as the prospect of a Russian invasion became more apparent and then a reality, according to a declassified accounting of transfers and sales reviewed by The Washington Post.

The list indicates that as early as December, the Pentagon was equipping Ukrainian fighters with arms and equipment useful for fighting inurban areas, including shotguns and specialized suits to safeguard soldiers handling unexploded ordnance. Over the last week, the Biden administration has increased such shipments, sending Stinger antiaircraft missile systems for the first time and further augmenting Kyiv’s supply of antitank Javelin missiles and other ammunition.

Taken together, thevariety, volume and potency of firepower being rushed into the war zone illustrate the extent to which the United States sought to prepare the Ukrainian military to wage a hybrid war against Russia,evenas President Biden has expressly ruled out inserting American troops into the conflict.

Western allies tightlipped about how they move military aid into Ukraine

“This is a continuous process. We are always, always looking at what Ukraine needs, and we’ve been doing this for years now,” a senior defense official told reporters Friday on the condition of anonymity under ground rules establishedby the Pentagon. “We have just accelerated our process of identifying requirements and accelerated our consultations as well with the Ukrainians, talking to them daily, as opposed to periodic meetings that we did before this crisis.”

John Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, declined to comment. The list of materiel reviewed by The Post generally tracks with the administration’s broad public statements about the transfers. It does not contain any information designated classified. . .

Continue reading (and no paywall).

You may recall President Trump halted military aid to Ukraine to try to force Ukraine President Zelensky to say that he was investigating the Bidens. Zelensky wouldn’t do that (because there was no investigation and no reason to investigate), so Trump held up the military aid (which helped his buddy Putin).

Written by Leisureguy

4 March 2022 at 10:25 pm

‘Traitors Get Shot’: Son Testifies Against Father in Jan. 6 Trial

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Alan Feuer has an interesting report in the NY Times. (Gift link; no paywall) The report begins:

When an oil-field worker named Guy Wesley Reffitt returned to Texas after taking part in the attack on the Capitol last year, his welcome home was not entirely warm.

He bragged to his family about confronting the police outside the building and promised that the violence there was only “the beginning,” according to federal prosecutors. His 18-year-old son pushed back, accusing him of having broken the law.

A few days later, Mr. Reffitt realized his son might be right and that the F.B.I. might in fact be on to him. In a burst of anger, he threatened his son and daughter, telling them that they would face his wrath if they sold him out to the authorities.

On Thursday, the son, Jackson Reffitt, faced his father from the witness stand in Federal District Court in Washington, testifying against him in a remarkable tableau that captured the painful rupture in one family — and in some ways the nation — caused by the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,’” Jackson Reffitt told the jury as his father watched him intently from across the courtroom and then looked down. “‘And traitors get shot.’”

The older Mr. Reffitt, 41, is the first defendant out of more than 700 to go on trial in connection with the Capitol attack, and in the past two days the prosecution has documented how he drove to Washington with a fellow member of a Texas militia and, armed with a pistol, led a pro-Trump mob in an advance on the police outside the building.

But with the appearance of his son on the witness stand, the trial took an unusually personal — and emotional — turn.

Testifying for more than three hours, Jackson Reffitt, now 19, told the jury how his father had become more distant and severe in his beliefs in 2016, the same year Donald J. Trump was elected president. Father and son, he said, did not see eye-to-eye on politics.

“I was moderately left and my father was moderately right,” the younger Mr. Reffitt said, adding that during that election year, “we both went further in our own direction.”

Jackson Reffitt also said his father was a member of the Texas Three Percenters, a state militia group closely linked to the gun rights movement. Guy Reffitt flew a flag outside the family’s home in Wylie, Texas, emblazoned with a Three Percenters’ logo. His son told the jury that he often went about his business with a .40-caliber pistol on his hip.

Things became more tense between the father and son in December 2020, Jackson Reffitt said, as Mr. Trump was undertaking multiple, overlapping schemes to reverse his election defeat. Much of the conflict played out on a family group chat, several messages of which were shown to the jury Thursday.

“Congress has made fatal mistakes this time,” Guy Reffitt wrote on Dec. 21 that year. “This isn’t about Trump, it’s much much bigger. It’s about OUR country.” . . .

Continue reading. (Gift link; no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

4 March 2022 at 4:01 pm

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