|photo from here|
It has been a little over a week since one of my friends, another blogger, who advocates for gun control was harassed by stalker-like behavior while at the legislature during hearings on gun control legislation.
It has been about a week since another blogger friend received the following comments from a pro-gunner, which are representative, not the exception to the rule:
In that interval I have had several conversations and other exchanges with law enforcement. What has become clear to me from those exchanges is that law enforcement takes these people seriously as threats, that their has been a definite increase in people who have guns (presumably mostly legally, but possibly not all their firearms are legal).
"This very conversation is an act of violence, two competing ideas, diametrically opposed trying to influence our peers, I am comitted [sic] to the preservation of our rights, rights that were conceived in violence and rights I am prepared to preserve with violence and I am not alone."
"the gun gives you the right to express your views... This nation is founded on violence, it is a founding priciple, [sic] ignore it to your own demise. Teach your children violence, it may preserve their life"
"there are no innocents, only targets"
There is a clear pattern, from those conversations, and from a perusal of similar comments, that a significant number of these people hold strongly anti-government views, and that a lot of them are paranoid conspiracy theorists, most with strongly far right or extremist views that make them willing to shoot their neighbors, shoot law enforcement, shoot anyone in a position of authority either elected or appointed, and willing to shoot members of our military. They claim to be not just willing, but eager.
And so we have incidents like Jimmy Lee Dykes, who shoots a bus driver and grabs a kid off a school bus. We have someone who didn't get his way in a long-term court case that goes off the rails and starts shooting people in retaliation. There is a strong perception, a correct perception, that too many of the gun guys are only willing to follow the laws that they feel like at any given time, and that they believe themselves above the law when it suits them.
This is wrong. To be a nation of law is to be a nation where you also have to follow the laws you do not like, with the ONLY acceptable exception is peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience where someone willingly accepts whatever penalty they receive for violating the law as their protest, with the caveat that the protest must not harm anyone else, least of all those who have responsibility for enforcing that law.
We do not allow law enforcement to pick and choose what laws they enforce either, and any law enforcement officer who refuses to enforce the law should be treated exactly the same as any law breaker.
Is every person who opposes gun control a danger? No, of course not. - not every opponent of gun control uses threatening language. But we should be taking very seriously the expression of intent from every opponent of gun control who states he (or less frequently, she) is a believer they have a legal or moral right to shoot someone if they don't get their way with government. A perfect example is Sharron Angle's bullet box if the tea party did not get their way at the ballot box statements, or any statement that if the government, including the SCOTUS, does not uphold their personal understanding (usually misinformed and ignorant) of the Constitution, that they will shoot someone if they don't get their way.
The right wing blogosphere has taken their usual whiny 'we're victims' line of bullshit, that they are somehow being treated as bad guys for no good reason. The reason they are treated with suspicion, the reason they are regarded as behaving in a way which is deliberately intimidating is because to often their own words show them to have that intent, that attitude, that conduct.
A recent post on a right wing friend's blog tried to assert that the only gun violence problem we have in Minnesota is in the area of North Minneapolis, and therefore arguing we should have no gun control legislated, except possibly for that limited location. In Minnesota, in the city of Minneapolis (our largest city) this is an urban area with a large number of minority residents, especially black residents and Asian residents.
An analysis of North Minneapolis in 2011, referring to the 2010 census noted:
"In 1980, North was 75 percent White, 16 percent Black, 2 percent Hispanic, 2 percent American Indian, 1 percent Asian, with the remainder of other races or two or more races. In 2010, North was 43 percent Black, 30 percent White, 13 percent Asian, 8 percent Hispanic, 1 percent American Indian, with the remainder of other races or two or more races. Population percentages in the accompanying tables might not appear to total 100, as the Census data notes that Hispanic people can be of any race."
And these graphics depict both the ethnic diversity of North Minneapolis, and the wealth/income disparity from state data, the racism of the right in making the assertions about North Minneapolis become evident. (And the right wonders WHY they are perceived as racist? Ya think?) Demonizing poor urban minority populations is a well-known, long identified right wing dog whistle for racism. And here we have another excellent article on the right wing dog-whistle racist politics.
This is just more whiny boo-hoo crap from the right wing being busted, fairly and objectively for being racist. And while we are at it, the same right wing blogger who thinks the only gun problems we have are those poor, criminal gang-banging black, Hispanic and Asian people in North Minneapolis, one of the right wing nut commenters also opined that women could avoid being victimized if they would just stay out of those 'out of wedlock relationships'.
Could a group of people adhering to a political ideology be more wrong? NO.
The reality is, that after looking at the crime stats for the city of Minneapolis, which breaks down not only deaths and injuries but also gun discharges by precinct and neighborhood, after doing the same for the city of St. Paul, in both cases from their city web sites which do an excellent job of documenting these things, AND after looking at the state statistics, AND after looking at the most recent Femicide reports on violence against women in the state of Minnesota, the right could not - as usual - be more wrong.
There is no population demographic, and no part of the state, which is immune from committing gun violence or from being the victims of gun violence.
The reality is that we have a widespread problem with gun violence, despite consistently being ranked as one of the safest states. We have had two mass shootings in less than ten years; one was the Red Lake School massacre in 2005 in northern Minnesota, and one this past year at a sign company in an affluent suburb west of Minneapolis, not in North Minneapolis. We have had two killings by children of their siblings, one in St. Paul and one in the Cedar Riverside area of Minneapolis, near the University of Minnesota campus and Augsberg College, not North Minneapolis -- in both cases, by guns owned by concealed carry permittees, who we are told are safer than the rest of us with guns (clearly not true). We have had multiple road rage incidents with guns, again by carry permittees, who were not minorities and which were not in North Minneapolis. And we have had a wide range of shootings outside of Minneapolis, notably the most recent in the past couple of days were an elderly couple murder / suicide with a legally owned firearm, in the exurb of Ramsey, Minnesota, not North Minneapolis and the apparently random fatal shooting of a 9 year old boy and the wounding of two adults, which also did not occur in North Minneapolis. The latter occurred in an affluent suburb of St. Paul, where a man was shooting randomly at cars with a hand gun, and had 200 rounds of ammunition with him when he was arrested - so presumably, he was intent on another mass shooting. The reports indicate that this was another LEGALLY owned gun, that the confessed shooter did not have a history of mental illness or a criminal history either.
However much the right wants to try to blame or demonize minorities, they are wrong. There are plenty of examples of right wing angry old white people who share their politics that commit gun violence. They are not more moral, more ethical, or safer with guns than any other group, and they need to be regulated with firearms every bit as much as the rest of the state would clearly benefit by regulation that reduce gun violence.
In fact, I think we can make an excellent argument that in some parts of the state, that is more true of old white guys than other groups. We need to be concerned about ALL the gun violence, not just North Minneapolis, Minnesota or other poor urban minority neighborhoods. We clearly have every bit as much gun violence from the angry old white "gramp-bo's" out there who think that a gun is an 'equalizer' that makes them the same as a strong, young fit fighter (aka 'Rambo'), and that they can heroically then impose their will on anyone of whom they disapprove, distrust, or dislike. We have seen it in the old geezer shooting someone in a rural parking lot in a fit of road rage, we have seen it in the murder-suicides where an angry old white man shoots his wife, their cats, and himself. We have seen it in the crazy boasting by old white guys that they could stop bullet-proofed shooters like James Holmes, in the dark, in a crowded chaotic theater, with tear gas fumes obscuring vision - clearly a situation where if they had a gun and fired, they would be adding to the danger and confusion, not ending it. We have seen it in the (alleged) Thanksgiving day murders of two unarmed teens by an angry old white guy who had previously had them in his home. We see it in the shooting by a Rochester man of his granddaughter as she let herself in with a key they had given her so she could stay with them for a few months. We see it in the jealous stalking by a gun toting extreme right wing state legislator of a woman with whom he was allegedly having an extra-marital affair, who cancelled dinner plans with him.
The problems with gun violence lie with those who think guns are their answer to problems. THEY are the problem; ALL of them. THAT is the epic failure of our gun culture. THAT is the reason we need strong gun regulation. People who think that way should not have guns, because they use them, they rely on them, they shoot people and intimidate people whom they should not. The rest of us are tired of it, and we will continue until we stop them from their dangerous and wrong beliefs and actions.