Guns and News

The New York Times has a heartbreaking story about the police officers who responded to the Newtown, Massachusetts Connecticut school shooting. Some of the officers are suffering from PTSD, and at least one hasn’t been able to return to work.

The stories also reveal the deep stress that lingers for officers who, until Dec. 14, had focused their energies on maintaining order in a low-crime corner of suburbia. Some can barely sleep. Little things can set off tears: a television show, a child’s laughter, even the piles of gifts the Police Department received from across the country.

One detective, who was driving with his wife and two sons, passed a roadside memorial on Route 25 two weeks after the shooting, and began sobbing uncontrollably. “I just lost it right there, I couldn’t even drive,” the detective, Jason Frank, said.

Some government hoax, huh? And Joe Nocera has compiled highlights of last week’s gun news, including a teenager who accidentally shot his two-year-old brother, an eleven-year-old girl shot (deliberately) in the face by her father, and a drunken man who shot and killed his own dog.

But that was just last week. If we google for news stories going back to the beginning of January, we find the South Carolina man who accidentally shot and killed his eight-year-old son while cleaning his gun; the Pennsylvania man who shot and killed his seven-year-old son when the gun in his car accidentally discharged; the Virginia man accidentally shot and killed by a juvenile relative who found a loaded gun on a table; the Kansas four-year-old who was shot and killed by a gun left on a table by a babysitter. It’s not clear if the toddler shot himself or if one of the other small children left unsupervised in the room set the gun off.

And I could go on and on; start to google for this stuff and there seems to be no end to it. Slate is keeping a running tally of gun deaths they can verify, but of course that’s not all of them. Most of these stories were covered only by local media and don’t pop up in national news coverage, so Slate asks people to send them links to the local stories to confirm that they happened.

If you google for recent news stories of citizens defending themselves with guns, you get a lot of hits, too. But many are of the same story that got covered a lot. Here’s the New York Daily News (turn sound off if you’re at work) covering the story of a Georgia mother with twin children who shot a home invader. That story got reported copiously all over the country. The Washington Post even seems to have snipped at the New York Times because the Times decided not to run a story about it.

There are other “citizen shoots burglar/home invader” stories from this January, many of which were widely reported. In some cases, though, it turned out the “invader” was not necessarily an invader. But the pattern appears to be that every time a citizen defends himself or herself with a gun, it gets on Fox News and is repeated in news outlets around the country. When the babysitter leaves a loaded gun on a table and a four-year-old dies, it’s local news.

BTW, there’s been another accidental shooting at a gun show. An Iowa gun dealer shot himself in the hand while testing a gun he didn’t think was loaded. Well, better his hand than a child’s head.

31 thoughts on “Guns and News

  1. I don’t get too upset when they just cull themselves from the herd, but when they kill others, it ought to be part of a national reporting system. Hard to believe there is no national register of the deaths of citizens. Of course, if a gun is involved, the NRA will no doubt object, saying that a person did the killing, not the gun. Lizzie Borden was an anomaly, or there would be lots of concern about axes. So why is it not legitimate to have an open discussion about guns?

  2. I think it ought to be a felony for anyone to ever leave a loaded gun where a child can reach it. One of the things I’ve noticed in looking at the accidental shooting of children is that in some states it doesn’t count as a crime, because the gun was legal and the shooting was an accident. I don’t know what the law is in Kansas, but leaving a loaded gun on a table in a room with unsupervised four- to six-year-olds ought to be a crime.

  3. Fetus sacred, child expendable? What the hell, America?

    HuffPo has an article today about one of the little Newtown victims’ dads, speaking at a public meeting in favor of an assault-rifle ban. While he spoke, pro-gun people kept shouting “Second Amendment! Second Amendment!” Under the circumstances, it’s as meaningless a phrase as “Right to Life.”

    And I’m still trying to fathom the 11-year-old girl intentionally shot in the face by her dad.

    • I’m still trying to fathom the 11-year-old girl intentionally shot in the face by her dad.

      Dad apparently has anger issues. My understanding is the child’s mother had been trying to get a court to keep him away from the daughter. Dad showed up at the mother’s house, and when he was asked to leave he got angry, pulled out a gun and shot the daughter in the face. I don’t know if she died. But it kind of proves the mother was right about Dad.

      Those jerks in the Huffington Post article are no better than the Westboro Baptist Church crew. Disgusting.

  4. People do sometimes successfully defend themselves using guns. And sometimes not wearing a seat belt saves your life because you “get thrown clear”. It’s a fool’s bet.

    I like the idea of trigger locks/ locked cabinets/ unloaded (REALLY UNLOADED) storage.

  5. And here are some people who are lucky that they weren’t eligible for a recent Darwin Award – at least I don’t THINK any of them died, though I’m not sure about that.

    Some of this is stomach-turning, so don’t watch more than a minute of it. When you see the guy with the “bullet-proof” vest, you may want to stop it, because, needless to say, it wasn’t bullet-proof:

    However, I’m not sure if everyone in that learned their lesson, so, we may be looking at future Darwin Award winners.

    Oh, and in case you haven’t heard of “The Darwin Awards,” here’s the link for that:

    Some people are stupid.
    And some of those stupid people die in some remarkably stupid ways.

    • Sven — the video doesn’t show the part where the state senate majority leader threatened to clear the room if the crowd didn’t settle down.

  6. Really? You are saying that these are two different events depicted in the original link and the one I posted? They are the same event.

    As far as the Majority Leader threatening to clear the room-if you have a link that shows the entire hearing including that part, please post it. The news reports I’ve read indicate that that was in response to audience members answering Mr. Heslin’s question.

    • Really? You are saying that these are two different events depicted in the original link and the one I posted? They are the same event.

      Yes, and the event went on for at least a couple of hours, and the video shows only a tiny bit of that. So we don’t know exactly what happened.

      I have been present at events that were captured on video, and the videos that eventually popped up on YouTube were at all not representative of what happened. So a short video doesn’t prove anything, one way or another. I’d rather hear from someone who was actually there.

  7. I own a couple of guns.

    I have always been suspicious of claims of guns firing when “cleaning” them – usually my experience is that this is a way of softening the public exposure of suicided family members.

    Anyone who does not take out any chambered cartridges as the first step of preparing to clean a firearm should not be allowed to own a firearm, period. Anyone stupid enough to have a firearm in his/her possession that does not already know whether a cartridge is chambered (or, as the first step in picking up said firearm, checking to see whether a round is chambered) should not be allowed to own a firearm. I will just barely stop short of absolute condemnation of anyone knowingly transporting a firearm with a chambered round, but the extenuating circumstances are pretty severe and include having the safety on or the gun uncocked.

    • I have always been suspicious of claims of guns firing when “cleaning” them – usually my experience is that this is a way of softening the public exposure of suicided family members.

      Could be, but in the examples I’m finding it’s a matter of people shooting their own children, or the gun dealer working a gun show in Iowa who shot himself in the hand while checking the merchandise. So it appears there are a lot of really careless, stupid people out there.

  8. Pingback: The Mahablog » Update to Guns and News

  9. There’s video posted of the entire hearing here:

    Unfortunately, there’s not a time bar on the video, but Mr. Heslin’s comments, the audience response to his question, and the threat to clear the room occur about a third of the way in.

    If you watch the video, particularly the part where Mr. Heslin is speaking, you’ll see that the audience is respectful throughout. The only audience interruption to his testimony is when Mr. Heslin directs his question directly to the audience-and that prompts the ‘threat’ to clear the room.

    There is no heckling or badgering of Mr. Heslin.

  10. The iowa show was so crowded people had to park up to a mile away. Traffic was snarled to the point some heading to the show turned back.

    Yesterday I read a store about a guy who went to the kroger with a AR on his shoulder in plain sight to prove his 2nd rights. Silly me I just bring my fabric sacks.

    Here in Des Moines a 12 yr old is learning to walk again after being shot by another 12 yr old. His mother and her live in boyfriend were charged with a misdemeanor for leaving a gun where “someone under 14” had access. The state has declined to return the child to the home.

    On Monday , Neil Heslin , a father of one of the Newtown children was heckled by pro gun activists at a hearing held by the gun violence prevention working group as he held a photo of him and his now dead son.

    We have the douche bag who pointed an AK-47 at his kid for getting “b’s” instead of “a’s”, ted nugent who threatened the president , again, this time at the SHOT show, and also see this nut job , from a Jan 25th story at The Raw Story; “Ex -Marine with ‘right wing manifesto builds bombs for cocaine, hoards assult weapons” .It is a lovely story about a Colorado man who is the typical gun nut next door type. I heard on tv last night that since Newtown, over 1300 people have died from being shot. If a person were to start a blog dedicated to just this issue one wouldn’t have time to do anything else. Sad.

  11. While [Heslin] spoke, pro-gun people kept shouting “Second Amendment! Second Amendment!” Under the circumstances, it’s as meaningless a phrase as “Right to Life.”

    I cannot view videos while at work, so I rely on multiple news accounts in print. I stand by my depiction as accurate. Shouting an empty catchphrase at someone who is asking a carefully worded question, to my way of thinking does not constitute any kind of intelligent “answer.” And the callousness of that shouted empty catchphrase is multiplied many times over when one considers that the person asking the question, had to ask it out of profound loss and grief.

    Perhaps in future Mr. Heslin will be forced to stand at the doorway of these meetings and hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution, so the audience can see exactly what the Second Amendment does and does not say. Not that this is his job, educating the un-thinkers.

  12. The Republicans added a rider that prohibits the CDC from compiling gunshot statistics. Perhaps someone can sponsor (read, supply cash) someone to do this from the public record as a civilian?

  13. Sven,
    I’m sorry, but sitting and watching, and rewatching, the hearing from CT like it was the Zabruder film, means that you clearly need a hobby, because you have too much time on your hands.

    The reporters and people who were there say he was heckled, then I believe he was heckled.
    Or, have you spent some other of your free time from the CT tapes, watching “The Seven Samurai?”

  14. [Heslin] asked a question and he got a brief response from the audience.

    Wow, is that ever slanted, now that I’m home from work past the firewall, and had a chance to view Sven’s link.

    Mr. Heslin was giving testimony, and he made a statement about the law and assault weapsons that the pro-gun part of the audience disagreed with, so they interrupted him. He was not asking for their input, and it was not appropriate that his statement was interrupted. I will note, most in the audience were not so much shouting as muttering. And yes, it was disrespectful on the face, never mind the deep BS-ery of the “Second Amendment” answer.

    • Yes, they just showed an extended clip of the incident on MSNBC, and the audience “response” was much more pronounced than on Sven’s link. That’s why I don’t automatically believe videos.

      Sorry, Sven, but it’s no sale.

  15. The microphones at events are set up to collect sound from the speaker near the mike but are not tuned so sensitively as to record sound originating from a distance from the mike. It is possible for considerable noise to exist in the meeting but not be recorded at all or be only very faintly heard. I have been to enough meetings that I later heard audio from to know this from personal experience.

  16. If you don’t think it is heckling to throw the second amendment in someones face who has just put his child in the ground you are one sick puppy. I pray you never know the horror this man has a lifetime sentence to ..When people go to a hearing to defend their right to an object over the life of a child its time to do some self reflection in a serious way. Since you are such a video freak how about you watch it again and this time ONLY watch that fathers face, watch the pain and torment in his face as those people “answer his question” ..How can you ever justify being such a pussy you need a gun to someone who has lost their child as a result of your gutlessness?

  17. Let us remember – and remind those in need of remembering – that according to the 2nd Amendment, a well-regulated militia is _justification_ for the right to bear arms. Therefore the 2nd amendment is as much a gun-control amendment as it is a gun rights amendment.

    The horrors that you mention are manifestly the result of poor regulation of the militia; therefore the People have the right to improve those regulations; and this in accord with the 2nd Amendment.

    You see what I just did? I have reframed the 2nd Amendment as “ours”!

  18. Let’s look to cars. Quite as lethal as guns, I know. Most of us would agree, there’s a lot of fools behind the wheel. How is that there is not more carnage on the road? There’s a bunch of reasons, from engineering the cars and the roads, traffic signs and lights, training and licensing, laws, and law enforcement.

    I once read a libertarian who was sure we don’t need traffic lights or stop signs or drivers, licenses, laws or enforcement. Left to their own devices, drivers would work these things out- or so he said. (Some libertarians belong in a padded cell.) But the complete lack of regulation is what the 2nd amendment crowd believes in regardless of the opinion of the SCOTUS. That puts them in the same padded cell category.

    Safety on the road is a science. Reflective dots, lines, the shape of signs, interior ergonomics for drivers. We look at every accident and try to learn how it could be avoided. As this post infers, the first thing we need to do is gather information at the national level. That’s way better than knee-jerk absolutism from either side. Then we need to craft legislation that will work.

    I can drive anywhere I want to go. Regulation and licensing have not turned into a prohibition of driving. Well designed legislation does NOT need to infringe on gun rights.

  19. I’m surprised that the insurance lobby hasn’t jumped on pushing for legislation for mandatory firearms insurance…With over 300,000,000 guns in circulation at a $50.00 a year liability/theft policy — there’s a lot of money to be made. They could reduce the yearly premium if you join it to an umbrella home/auto policy..Even if they paid out a million dollars per claim for the 30,000 gun deaths a year it wouldn’t begin dent the profit to be made.

  20. Good point, swami.
    The tipping point will come (strangely) via the “free market”,when the lawyers and the insurance lobby realize the potential profit.
    I can just imagine hearing John Morgan on the tee vee saying “injured by a firearm?
    Call Morgan and Morgan and Morgan and Morgan TODAY. FOR THE PEOPLE!!!”
    The day will come when it becomes just too expensive to insure a personal arsenal or controversial weapons.

  21. A good point also, Doug.
    Safety on the road is indeed a science, and it continues to evolve.
    We don’t allow guys with dragsters to race on our interstates.
    Cars are REQUIRED to have safety features.
    Insurance is REQUIRED.
    If you screw up too many times, your insurance goes up in price and you may loose your license.
    If you screw up really bad or often , you may have the license taken away or you may go to jail.
    BTW, I have to use traffic control frequently in my job. One that REALLY gets drivers to slow down is a cop or two with the cruisers flashing blue strobes.Part fear of the cost of a ticket, part fear of insurance policy cost increase.

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