I’ve written extensively on gun violence, spoken on international TV and radio on the subject, and even pursued a gun license in the strictest city of one of the strictest states in the country. Despite my first-hand experience, the most ardent defenders of the Second Amendment — like those who marched on Richmond, Virginia this weekend to protest "Jim Crow" gun laws — will still tell me things like, “We don’t need more laws! We need to enforce the laws on the books!” or “We can’t stop every shooting because that’s just the price of freedom.” Those same #2A Avengers will of course acknowledge that yeah, okay, maybe NICS has some problems, or maybe those Parkland cops should have done something earlier, and then swiftly retreat back into the same tribalistic mindsets that always prevent human progress.
So I wrote this essay, hoping to have a rational conversation. It was originally published on Medium in 2018, but it remains frustratingly relevant, so I'm posting it here.
Naming something gives you power over it.
That’s the basic idea behind all the magic in every folktale dating back for centuries, from “Rumpelstiltskin” to the Rolling Stones’ “Hope you guessed my name.” Ancient shamans didn’t practice “magic”; they just had knowledge, and names for things like “eye of newt” that no one else could understand. To name something is to know it, and knowledge is power.Think about the relationship between “spelling” and “spells” and you won’t be so surprised that Harry Potter has been all over the gun violence conversations lately, on both the Left and the Right—which makes sense, considering that they have a word you memorize and practice reciting in order to kill people. Read the rest
After two shootings in their El Paso, Texas and Southaven, Mississippi stores, the CEO of Walmart has announced major changes to the chain's gun sale policies, including no longer selling ammunition for assault-style weapons and discontinuing the sale of handgun ammunition. Read the rest
At least 10 people were killed after a gunman opened fire in a Dayton nightclub early Sunday, targeting revelers in the Ohio city's Oregon Historic District. 26 more victims were reportedly injured. The shooter was shot dead by police within a minute.
Read the rest
The incident came only hours after a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas which left at least 20 people dead.
It also took place less than a week after three people were killed and 15 injured at a food festival in California.
Mayor Whaley ... said it was the 250th mass shooting in the US this year. But the Gun Violence Archive, which categorises mass shootings as four or more people shot or killed (excluding the shooter), said there have in fact been 251.
At least 19 people were killed after a gunman opened fire in an El Paso Walmart on Saturday, targeting back-to-school shoppers. Forty more victims were reportedly injured. The shooter was taken into custody, unharmed.
The first reports of a shooting emerged at about 11:00 local time (18:00 GMT).
Police said the Walmart was "at capacity" with shoppers buying back-to-school supplies at the time of the attack.
He said the suspect was a white male in his 20s. No officers had fired their weapons in apprehending him, he added.
Twitter's summary of events:
Read the rest
- The Associated Press says hospitals are treating 22 victims
- Texas AG Ken Paxton says there are "between probably 15 and 20 deaths"
- El Paso police say a white male in his 20s is in custody
- Situation is no longer active and is transitioning to a crime scene
How messed up is America? This messed up. Schoolteachers are being encouraged to use an app to alert police and school employees about an active shooting incident in real time, as the mass shooting happens. Read the rest
At least three people are reported dead after a gunman opened fire in a California bowling alley late Friday night.
The Torrance Police Department says in a tweet there were "reports of shots fired with multiple victims down" at Gable House Bowl.
The police department later confirmed there are 3 dead and 4 injured following the shooting which reportedly sprung from an argument in the bowling alley.
Police are urging people to "stay away from the area" near the bowling alley.
CNN has more details.
Read the rest
Police responded to the scene at 11:54 p.m. local time, the Torrance Police Department said.
"Upon arrival, officers discovered multiple subjects with gunshot wounds inside the location," it said. "Officers began life-saving measures which included CPR and the use of a defibrillator. The Torrance Fire Department also treated individuals at the scene."
The identities of the victims have not been released pending notification of next-of-kin. Detectives are investigating the shooting and working to identify the suspects.
The New York Times has published an investigation into infamous American mass shootings and found that a significant proportion of mass shooters go on credit-card fueled spending sprees prior to their acts of terror, and that these shooters worry (needlessly, as it turns out) that their unusual credit-card spending will be flagged by financial institutions, resulting in their cards being frozen.
Read the rest
The record on "active shooter" fatalities is fragmented; as a result, the AMA researchers who published
Lethality of Civilian Active Shooter Incidents With and Without Semiautomatic Rifles in the United States
in JAMA (Sci-Hub Mirror) had to piece together their own data from disparate sources.
Read the rest
Back in July, MGM Resorts -- owner of the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas -- sued more than 1,000 survivors of the mass-shooting that took place in October, 2017, trying to secure a judgment that would prevent any of the survivors from suing the company.
Read the rest
None of the mass shootings in America have been committed by shooters using 3-D Guns, but that's not stopping Donald Trump and a bunch of NRA-backed lawmakers from freaking out about the threat DIY weapons pose, before doing anything about how readily available regular old guns are to regular old bad guys. Read the rest
5 are reportedly dead and at least 20 more injured after a gunman opened fire at the Capital-Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, this afternoon. A suspect is in custody, but police have yet to release any details and reports from the scene offer no clues as to motive or the shooter's identity.
Update: The shooter was named as Jarrod Ramos. From a Twitter feed widely identifed as his, it seems apparent Ramos had long nursed a grudge against the newspaper following a 2012 lawsuit he'd filed and lost over a story it published.
From The Baltimore Sun, the Capital-Gazette's parent newspaper:
Phil Davis, a Capital Gazette crime reporter who was in the building at the time of the shooting, said multiple people were shot, as others — himself included — hid under their desks. He said there was a lone male gunman.
“Gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can’t say much more and don’t want to declare anyone dead, but it’s bad,” Davis wrote on Twitter as he waited to be interviewed by police.
“There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”
In a subsequent interview, Davis said it “was like a war zone” inside the newspaper’s offices — a situation that would be “hard to describe for a while.”
Just yesterday, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos called for vigilantes to "gun down" journalists "on sight"; two days ago, President Donald Trump described American media as "the enemy of the American people." Read the rest
Due to apparent proximity to Jesus, Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt feels church is the best place to be shot. No wonder I never go there.
Read the rest
Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt asserted on Monday that the dozens of people killed at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas had gone to the right place to be shot because they were close to Jesus at the time of their death.
“We’ve been reporting this shouldn’t happen in a church,” Earhardt said during an interview with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). “But I was downstairs talking with some people that work here that we all talk about our faith and we share the same beliefs. We were saying there’s no other place we would want to go other than church.”
“Because I’m there asking for forgiveness,” she continued. “I feel very close to Christ when I’m there. So, I’m trying to look at some positives here and know that those people are with the Lord now and experiencing eternity and no more suffering, no more sadness anymore.”
Abbott agreed that there was a “necessity for us to come together under one God to purge evil and to rely upon the love that God provides.”
Landscape architects are increasingly in the business of designing spaces that are resistant to mass shootings, terrorists driving their cars into crowds and other forms of murderous, technology-assisted rampages. Read the rest
A jury in South Carolina today convicted Dylann S. Roof in the racially motivated killings of 9 black people in a church in Charleston. He faces the possibility of a death sentence. Read the rest
Two students and a teacher were injured in a shooting today at Townville Elementary School in Anderson County, South Carolina. A teenager identified as the shooting suspect is now in police custody.
“A bad man came to our school today,” 4-year-old Townville student Amber Jolly told a television news reporter. Read the rest
Reports of yet another mass shooting, this one at a shopping center in Germany. In Munich late Friday afternoon, a man with a gun shot people at mall in Munich. Local news reports that several people were killed, and several more wounded. Read the rest
On the Media's classic "Breaking News Consumer's Handbook" is a timeless, concise, and essential guide to the way that the media reports on events like last night's shooting in Dallas, and how you can get at something like the truth through cautious, critical thinking. Read the rest