Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Parents, Secure Your Guns

(Update: I do include a correction about the Simpson murders; they were stabbed, not shot.  My attempt was to link the uptick in shooting with the Simpson murders simply because going after a murder criminally is NOT the only way to go.  Apparently this linkage was lost on some readers.  My apology for anyone have their whole world view explode over this single point.)

There was a shooting today at a Portland high school just after 8 am.  The shooter and a student are dead. 

Clearly, something is in the air.  Whether it's extreme right-wing paranoia of our government or narcissism or mental illness or teen unhappiness, their one link is guns.

So far we can't do much about adults who get guns.  (But we can work to close those gunshow loopholes.  Yes on 594.)  The Daily Show had a hilarious skit that pointed out how Second Amendment supporters like Bill O'Reilly said that there will "always be mass murders."  Except, as the Daily Show points out, in countries where gun laws have been enacted and have virtually no mass murders.
BUT, parents YOU do have control over your guns.  And whether it's a 2-year old or a 16-year old in your house, YOU have a responsibility to secure your guns.

Kids are smart.  They are curious.  And they know how to find things.  Your bedside drawer? Not such a good hiding place.

Have a gun - I really don't care.  But have the civic responsibility to secure it against any access by a minor in your home. 

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the (CORRECTION: stabbings) of O.J Simpson's wife and her friend.  It was truly a bizarre time for the American criminal justice system.

But one thing to keep in mind if you commit murder, here is what we learned from the Simpson trial.

If you cannot get someone on criminal charges, there's always civil court.  And the families of Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, brought him nearly to his financial knees. It's probably the reason Simpson is in prison today (not for the murders but for an armed robbery).

If you do not secure your guns, not only could your child hurt himself or others, you may find yourself losing everything you own if victims or their families choose to go after you in civil court.

Something to consider.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hate hate hate that I have to fear for my kids (and myself) at school, at the mall, and the movies, everywhere really because apparently (according to Joe the Plumber) " your dead kids don't trump my 2nd amendment rights".
That makes me sick to the stomach. We need to change this world we live in so that 2nd amendment rights are not the be all and end all. Our voices need to be louder than the NRA, the Joe the Plumbers, the right-wingers who think "guvmints gonna take away my guns".
I still can't believe nothing changed after Sandy Hook. I find myself doubting that it ever will- if that doesn't do it, what on earth will.
But there are organizations out there that are getting more traction, Michael bloom bergs millions are behind Everytown for Gun safety, Moms demand Action etc. I'm heartened by this and I think we need to really get behind these and push for sane gun laws and a safer future for our kids.

eNRAged

Anonymous said...

Another thing is suicide.
Gun-owning families please consider this- you can look up the exact statistics.
A suicidal person with a gun almost always succeeds in killing themselves (and often others).
However, the majority of people who attempt suicide (unsuccessfully) NEVER make another suicide attempt.
In other words the act is an impulsive desperate action- but the feeling of wanting to end it all is transient.
You have a gun at home - statistically your family members are much more likely to die as result of suicide, accidental shooting, or domestic violence homicide. A gun in the home does not make you or your family safer.

Access to a gun offers a young person a permanent solution to a transient problem.


eNRAged

Anonymous said...

Why do you continue to hurt your credibility by not fact-checking your own statements?

When a Ballard High School student shot a man for his cellphone you quoted someone who said it was easier to get a gun than have a home, when the student had on his own volition left his family home.

You must be the only American who thankfully escaped the nonstop media coverage enough to misremember it was a knife, not a gun, the murderer used in Brentwood in 1994. So many shootings to reference, and you misremember a stabbing? How does that help your credibility?

I am not a big fan of allowing psychotics and children to access weapons, so I'm not adversarial to the position of protecting children. I just have no time anymore for mass media disinformation and "false memory" narratives: they don't help me and are not constructive.

--FactsPlease

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post Melissa.

There are lots of myths out there about guns that might get posted here. They are just myths, and folks can read the facts here:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check

Today we are watching another tragedy unfold. It is the 74th (yes 74th) SCHOOL shooting since Sandy Hook.

Our children are literally getting gunned down at school. We need to do better. We need to take action to protect our kids.

Learn about an incredibly reasonable initiative that will be on the ballot in November:

http://wagunresponsibility.org/

It is actually harder for someone to volunteer in the classroom than it is to get a gun. That doesn't make sense, and ALL gun purchases should require background checks, at a minimum.

Thank you,
Eden

Anonymous said...

As a lawful gun owner, I say bring on the restrictions.

Too many A**holes are armed today, and every responsible gun owner knows it.

Drug addicts should avoid pills. Alcoholics should avoid drinks.
And mentally unstable people should not be allowed to possess guns.

The "oh, they'll just steal them" argument is a fallacy at best. Under that rationale, no law should exist.

We need to address this as a culture, and start by rejecting violence as "no big deal," whether in movies, on TV, in video games, or even in the news. We glorify it 10 different ways, resulting in copycat shootings and shootings just to be famous.

The gun problem needs to be treated like the public health disease it really is.

WSDWG

Eric B said...

I've been kicking around a "just like cars" initiative about guns. Require all guns to be licensed, insured, and identified. Require all gun owners to be licensed. allow cops to impound unlicensed guns.

If I-594 passes easily, I'll probably approach WA Cease Fire about it.

Anonymous said...

Eric, there are other organizations working on this issue that you might want to approach with that idea too.

Check out:

Everytown for Gun Safety at
http://everytown.org/

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence at http://csgv.org/

Moms Demand Action at http://www.momsdemandaction.org/

Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility at http://wagunresponsibility.org/

Wanna make a change? Add your name to support, donate money or time, or simply like and share posts on facebook.

WSDWG: Thank you for your perspective as a gun owner.

Eden

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I hate hate hate that I have to fear for my kids (and myself) at school, at the mall, and the movies, everywhere really...

Add the Seattle Public Library and all its branches to your list.

-districtWatcher

Anonymous said...

Folks in other countries joke about and stereotype gun-crazy Americans, but it's no joke. We need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask why are there greater rates of gun-related death and injury here than any other western country? Why are mass shootings a weekly, if not daily occurrence here but not in other comparable countries? We have a problem so how do we fix it?
If it were any other public health issue we would do something about it just like we have with cigarette smoking, seat belts, bike helmets, 'back to sleep' campaigns for SIDs, drink-driving, lead paint etc etc. When are we going to actually do something about this.

People in other countries (Australia, NZ, UK, other EU countries) don't feel the need to go about their daily business packing heat.
This is not because the US is inherently more dangerous than these countries (although the NRA certainly tries to instill fear into everyone - because, guess what, it sells guns).
The reason these countries have much much lower rates of gun-related death and injury is because people don't routinely have guns in their homes for so-called 'self defense' and routinely carry guns everywhere. Fewer guns = fewer shootings. No matter how hard the gun industry lobbyists, NRA and their political cronies try to spin it, no matter that they have long suppressed legitimate public health research into it, and no matter how much fear mongering they do, the fact remains - we are at greater risk of gun violence in our homes and in public here in the US than in almost any other western country.

That it not why we need more guns and less regulation- that is BECAUSE we have more guns and less regulation.

Eden has listed some great websites- donate, write to your representatives, spread the word. Do something to address one of the greatest public health issues of our time.

pro gun control

Melissa Westbrook said...

"When a Ballard High School student shot a man for his cellphone you quoted someone who said it was easier to get a gun than have a home, when the student had on his own volition left his family home."

I don't know if you are speaking to me, Melissa, and I don't even know what it means.

I didn't say the victims in Brentwood were killed with a gun. My linkage was that if you commit a crime that victims can also come after you civilly. And, this applies to murders of all types.

cs said...

RE: 20th anniversaries, it was also 20 years ago when the first (and only?) student was shot and killed on a Seattle public school campus (Ballard High).

Remembering Missy Fernandez.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, CS. It is very much worth remembering.

Anonymous said...

If you have guns secure them. If you have a mentally unstable person living in your house you should remove all the guns not just secure them.

All the recent violent attacks have been planned out by documented mentally ill people. In most cases the family asked for help or law enforcement knew of possible dangers, but failed to act. Christ they even posted their intentions in advance on the internet and still no one steped in and stopped them.

These people would use some other type of weapon if they didn't have guns.

There's not much we can do until we realize these people can not walk the streets unattended.

-- It's mental health issue

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that taking away the guns of the mentally ill would go a long ways towards make their psychotic delusions ad desires less damaging to the world at large. Why not start with that, before demanding that we take away their liberty, too?

And, make no mistake, there have been hundreds of children killed, since Sandy Hook, many of them by accidental use of unsecured guns owned by non-mentally ill family members. Gun homicides and accidents are only marginally a mental health issue.

Suicidal gun deaths, though, are a mental health issue, and the easier access to guns in this country, compared, to say opiates a primary factor.

zb

Anonymous said...

Just be be clear anyone who would perpetrate these type of horrific
events can only be mentally ill.

It's insane when they were all documented as mentally ill and allowed to purchase and own guns!

There are two side of this issue being thrown together just causing confusing.

Keeping guns away from Kids is the first start, if you could be jailed for having unsecured firearms that would be a good law.

The second is to get these psychopaths identified and into treatment ASAP.

-- I hate psychopaths

Ragweed said...

The problem with addressing the mental health issues is that while many of the rampage killings recently appear to have been done by people with significant mental illnesses, diagnosing which of the millions of people with mental illnesses are likely to go on a rampage is much, much harder. We don't really have the diagnostic tools that would be able to tell that. So it is harder than it sounds.

Anonymous said...

Ragweed,

It's not even just an issue if diagnostic tools, there are also currently strict limits on what can be done when someone is found to be unstable.

The parents of the recent CA shooter tried and tried to get their son help but they were unable to. Adults, mental issues or no, have freedom. It is a high bar to institutionalize an adult without their consent.

Yes, we need to improve mental health services, but we must also make it hard to get guns.

It should be very hard to get a gun. Why is it easier to get a gun than a driver's license? Gun owners should be tested on use and they should have to learn statistics on killings, especially they need to learn who is really likely to be killed when a gun is kept in their home. It isn't an intruder.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

When a Ballard High School student shot a man for his cellphone you quoted someone who said it was easier to get a gun than have a home, when the student had on his own volition left his family home."

"I don't know if you are speaking to me, Melissa, and I don't even know what it means."

"I didn't say the victims in Brentwood were killed with a gun. "
These are your words: This week marks the 20th anniversary of the shootings of O.J Simpson's wife and her friend. It was truly a bizarre time for the American criminal justice system.

I reference Wikipedia article on the OJ Simpson Murder Case:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._J._Simpson_murder_case
Location: Brentwood
Murder Victims: Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman
Weapon: KNIFE

I reference the Monday March 3 2014 blog posting "Ballard High Student Charged in Greenwood Murder"

Are these words, borrowed from The Stranger's SLOG, not posted? "The Mother: "How the hell can a kid get a gun, when he doesn't even have a home?"
The son: "A gun is easy to get. A home is very hard to get."


It turns out that the Reynolds High School shooter was a freshman who brought to school from his parents' home an AR-15 rifle, a handgun, nine clips, and a knife. The guns were supposedly secured.

The Padgett parent who bought these likely passed a background check. Although stored in the home, a firearm was used to murder a child who was at school where he should have been. It's apparently NOT ENOUGH for children to avoid malls where gangs hang out, parks (Othello Park, May 15) where gang shootings erupt, cinemas, coffee shops (I was ten minutes away from being a Cafe Racer casualty May 30), or houses where guns may be stored. That is extraordinarily tragic and scary in my humble resident alien opinion.

Keeping firearms secure didn't thwart this killing. Keeping loaded firearms out in the open is irresponsible. I'm not sure why people in suburban homes need AR-15s, but I did not originate in a gun-fetishing culture.

It occurs to me that there are trends toxic to a functional societal culture that Americans are not willing to do without lest their "freedoms and liberties" are impeded. One can't have a straightforward, factual conversation online without shills or zealots attempting to derail.

I think it's worthwhile destigmatizing depression and making counseling and treatment more readily available (that means "affordable" too) than firearms currently are for the youth who desperately need it. This may be dismissed as an outside opinion, as too, the supposition that well-adjusted young urban and suburban males, thankfully the majority even in the United States, should be able to get along without guns: it's not like they need to hunt raccoons in the city parks for food to and from their way to school. If the teens are that worried about self-defense (a Reynolds student after the shooting was found to have a gun on him), learning Krav Maga or martial arts, transferring to another school, or getting out of the area entirely are preferable alternatives.

It frightens me that people cannot abide the idea that the psychotic should not have access to high-powered weapons, that the Second Amendment's "well-regulated militia" must include isolated, sociopathic, violent, paranoid loners.

"My linkage was that if you commit a crime that victims can also come after you civilly. And, this applies to murders of all types."

Then the gerund shooting shouldn't be in the blog post. It should be stabbing, if you meant to reference the 1994 murders of Brown Simpson and Goldman that happened in Brentwood,

--FactsPlease

Anonymous said...

Eric B,

" Require all guns to be licensed, insured, and identified. Require all gun owners to be licensed. allow cops to impound unlicensed guns"

You may like this idea, but you'll have to deal with this pesky thing called the Constitution. Requiring all guns to be licensed will obviously violate the 2nd Amendment. It would be analogous to requiring a government license to practice religion or free speech.

Good luck with that.

Molon Labe

Texas TopCat said...

I am always amazed that people think that more gun control will "make things better" when the facts consistently show that a major part of the reason children and adults are being killed as an unintended effect of the existing gun control.
Consider these two facts:
1) Almost all mass killing (gun or otherwise) happen in areas where victims are unarmed and can not fight back (NGZ or severe gun control like Chicago)
2) Police have no duty or responsibility to provide protection to any individual. So, you are responsible for your own protection, so why would any sane person want to handicap the good citizens and give criminals another advantage with gun control.
There are things that we can do to make gun usage safer hers are some:
1) Have gun safety and usage classes part of every school requirement
2) Encourage NRA membership and NRA safety classes as part of good citizenship
3) Have local police departments provide low cost and high quality gun training and practice classes to local citizens
4) Review existing gun laws and revoke any that can not be shown with actual facts as effective and do not have unintended negative effects
5) stop making heroes out of mass killers, stop using their names, stop listing them with the victims

BHirsh said...

Securing guns that are not in immediate use is a practice subject to the "Duh." factor.

The sad fact is, irresponsible people act irresponsibly, or fail to act responsibly.

Unfortunately, guns aren't immune from their failures.

That does NOT mean that the humongous majority of the rest of us can legitimately be burdened by restrictive laws intended to preempt irresponsible behavior. Prior Restraint violates due process. Due process is guaranteed. The linear logic of this fact is irrefutable.

So, let's nip the anti-gun-rights people in the bud, before their emotionalism "protects" our liberty out from under us.