18 February 2018


  Just the facts… believe it or not  

Year-to-Date 2018’s 49 Days
the price of conscience
49 ⇧
YTD days since 01 January 2018
18 ⇧
YTD school shootings
8 ⇧
YTD school shootings ending in death
26 ⇧
YTD school shooting fatalities
~1643 ⇧
YTD shooting deaths nationwide
~2862 ⇧
YTD suicide by firearm
~4966 ⇧
YTD shooting deaths + injuries

YTD gun lobbying expenditures
YTD NRA lobbying expenditures
YTD NRA industry contributions
YTD NRA membership dues, fees

US population: people
US population: adults
US population: firearms
military-owned arms worldwide
police-owned arms worldwide
firearms owned by author

legislative efforts to weaken gun laws

¹ including legalize silencers and

² allowing mentally ill gun ownership
bills to restrict firearms

registered Washington lobbyists
unregistered Washington lobbyists
state governors
vice president


  1. I live in New Zealand. I've never owned a gun, but when I was 14, I won a small trophy for rifle shooting marksmanship (.22, indoor range). Back in the day, my father owned probably 15+ guns of all descriptions (he was the president of a rifle club). Guns were a solemn thing in our house, and under no circumstances did you fuck about with them. Gun ownership in NZ has always been strict and controlled, but there are lots of them around: farmers, hunters, rifle clubs. Nobody here owns a gun "for protection" (unless maybe you're a criminal, and you've probably stolen it). Our police have ready access to guns, but they don't walk around bearing sidearms (there's ongoing debate about whether they maybe should). Commit a crime in NZ using a gun and you'll get a much stiffer penalty, or shot dead by the police. According to Wikipedia, there have been 9 gun massacres in NZ since 1900 (with only 2 in this century, with a total of 5 deaths). No massacre (or even a single shooting) has ever taken place in a school. NZ's population is somewhere between 4-5 million. I mention all of this purely for reference; another person's/country's perspective on gun ownership. It breaks my heart to read of the shootings that have taken place in the US.

  2. Stephen, I live here and I don’t get it. There’s kind of a national sickness about it.

    Raised in the country, I learned to shoot, dress, cook, and use a reloader. A rifle was a tool, nothing more. Good use required practice and consideration. I still have mine.

    Somehow a perfect storm has gathered over the decades. A romantic attachment developed– “Happiness is a warm gun.” Next, as the manufacturers took over the NRA, emphasis shifted from rifles for ranchers to assault weapons for city folk. Assault weapons are made for the sole purpose of killing human beings. Sadly, that’s what they’re used for.

    Children are taught guns aren’t toys– why can’t adults? They often pay the price. If we misbehaved as children, our toys were taken away. Grown-ups who misuse their ‘toys’ simply buy more.

  3. Poet Brian Bilston posted this to the public on facebook a few months ago:

    England is a cup of tea.
    France, a wheel of ripened brie.
    Greece, a short, squat olive tree.
    America is a gun.

    Brazil is football on the sand.
    Argentina, Maradona's hand.
    Germany, an oompah band.
    America is a gun.

    Holland is a wooden shoe.
    Hungary, a goulash stew.
    Australia, a kangaroo.
    America is a gun.

    Japan is a thermal spring.
    Scotland is a highland fling.
    Oh, better to be anything
    than America as a gun.

    He calls this poem AMERICA IS A GUN

  4. I think a lot of our gun obsession is based on a well cultivated fear of "others". Sad to say we are no longer the "home of the brave"

  5. Yeeps, O'Neil! That's chilling. It would be nice to think we're thought of as something else, but we keep killing ourselves.

  6. Janice, that's a good point. An essay I read after writing this piece suggested guns are tied into our sense of masculinity. Guns as phallic symbols… maybe.

    By the way, Friday NPR carried a thoughtful commentary from a Florida student. He vowed his generation won't be beholden to the gun lobby.

  7. I still remember, in 2014, Joe the Plumber (Joseph Wurzelbacher), saying in response to the 2014 shooting at UC Santa Barbara (6 dead, 14 injured), "As harsh as this sounds—your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights ... We still have the Right to Bear Arms ... Any feelings you have toward my rights being taken away from me, lose those." And people swallowed it. Certain groups argued in FAVOR of it, and saw him as a hero of "Constitutional Rights".

    I posted this on FB day before yesterday:
    Marco Rubio: "Hello. Senator Marco Rubio here."
    NRA: "Hi, there! Do you accept thoughts and prayers instead of money?"
    Marco Rubio: "No. Thoughts and prayers aren't worth anything."
    NRA: "Okay. Just checking. Here's $3,300,000 for you and your campaigns."
    Marco Rubio: "Let me know what you want me to say!"
    NRA: "You know, the usual."
    Marco Rubio: "Gun control doesn't work. Thoughts and prayers. These issues are very complex. Thoughts and prayers. None of the gun laws that have been proposed here in Washington would have prevented any of these attacks. Thoughts and prayers. We need to reserve judgment... Thoughts and prayers."

    I am so angry, so fed up that any further comment I would have is a Symphony in F Major. Other than that I will do everything I can to make this madness stop.

  8. Eve, I heard the blathering of our Senator Rubio right after the shooting, how these things couldn't be helped. If I ever had doubts, he didn't deserve to be President.

    Besides mental health checks for owing a gun, we should have maturity checks too. That might solve half the problem.

    I may have mentioned this on Criminal Brief. When I consulted in USM in Massachusetts, I'm pretty sure one of the weird security guards was playing with himself in the restroom at the same time he was playing with his gun. It's not just guys either– a Florida cop arrested a woman in a motel parking lot for– how do I put this delicately– having relations with a loaded pistol. Not sure if the arrestee was loaded as well.

    In a broader sense, I get nervous when someone has too much of a fondness for guns. RT and I chatted about this once… it's only a tool, only a tool. If it's more than that, get help.

  9. In November 1993, one of my students was shot as he entered the school after a two-week suspension. He lay twenty feet below my classroom window and I didn't have a shade or blind (the custodian had ignored four requests), so the security guards suggested I "keep kids away from your window so they don't see the blood on the pavement."

    The student was president of the Latin Kings, who were involved in a gang war over drug turf with two other gangs. Over the next two years, I lost two more students in gang shootings.

    No, they weren't "good kids," and they didn't die in mass shootings, but we seem to get dumber and more callous instead of smarter and more compassionate. I taught several tough classes, and on the continuum of students I worked with over thirty-three years, none of these boys came close to "bad." They weren't great students, but none of them ever gave me any real problems.

    Over twenty years later, I can still see all three kids' faces. And I still can't read about other school shootings without tearing up.

    These dead kids aren't people Congress and the NRA know, so they aren't "real" to them. I hope to God Congress does something before they also lose someone who IS "real."

  10. I imagine everyone here has seen & heard this mind-blowing speech by Emma Gonzalez, who is a student at the high school where the most recent shooting occurred. If not, go watch it right this red-hot minute:


    Yesterday evening I sent a link to this video to my two sisters, who live in Reston, Va. They'd already seen it & sent me a pic of themselves picketing at the NRA office in Fairfax the day before!

    Anybody still want to say AmeriKKKa is the greatest country in the world?

  11. Sad but true! I take heart in the kids who survived the latest massacre who are standing up and demanding action!

  12. Steve, that’s shocking. Just reading your words choked me up. You can’t unlearn something like that.

    As you could tell, the article was 90% research and 10% formatting. As I worked in sorrow and anger, I kept hearing fragments of an old Steppenwolf song tweaked for the tragedy:

    God damn the gun pusher man.
    The gun pusher is a monster,
    Good God, he's not a natural man.
    Total war, total war on the pusher man.

    Sorry if I have to explain ‘damn’ in the original Latin sense, damno, damnare, damnavi, damnatus, meaning ‘condemn’. I’d like to see smug political enablers, backroom manipulators who twisted the intent of the Second Amendment beyond recognition, the lobbyists, and the money-soaked politicians condemned to their own little circle of hell. They care so little for children, they cut education funding while putting their lives in danger. I pray Dante reserved a special place for those politicians.

    Steve, the majority of my friends are teachers. Two live in supposedly violent South Africa, but they’re never seen anything like school violence here.

    Your comment made me think of reader and lovely friend Debbie Bannister, who taught at a Charleston inner city school. I’m not aware of any student shootings on her campus, but she witnessed more than her share of death and destruction.

    Nobody, Steve, no parent, no teacher, no student should have to experience what you and your charges did. May God damn the gun pusher man.

  13. Elizabeth, excellent speech. Her pain and anger vividly come through. Thanks for the link. Here's one back for you:

    On Friday, I heard a short NPR segment featuring another articulate student, Cameron Kasky, who wrote an essay picked up by CNN, “My Generation Won't Stand For This.” As he points out, Senator Rubio and our corrupt governor Rick Scott have blood on their hands. He says students don’t need thoughts and prayers, they need action: It's never soon to discuss it, it’s too late.

    Cameron Kasky transcript (click blue dot at upper left for audio)

  14. Can you please share where you found these statistics?

  15. Jeff, the Florida kids have started a facebook page called Never Again. I'm proud of them, so much sharper than the crowd in Tallahassee and compassionate than those in Washington.

    It's been brought to my attention the number of shootings should be 17, not 18, because one school was closed and no children were present. Fair enough, but the number manipulators suggest another three should be dropped from the list because technically, two shootings happened after school hours, although children were present. A third shooting was accidental, a student who brought a gun hadn't intended to hurt the girl when it went off. Those all sound like school shootings to me.

    If shootings happen 1cm over the school property line, it's not classified as a school shooting. I suppose we have to draw the line somewhere. While I demand accuracy, this feels a bit like chipping away at the numbers should reduce the horror of the happening. E.g, only 58 deaths should be credited to the Las Vegas shooter because one died long after and it's not a concert shooting since no shooter was at the festival and it's not a hotel shooting because no one was murdered in the hotel…

    During research, it became obvious NRA membership numbers may be incorrect or inflated for a number of reasons, e.g, the NRA gives away free memberships and it doesn't remove lifetime members after death. Several years ago, the NRA gave out two wildly divergent membership numbers (3m and 4.5m) within months of each other. Further, their revenue from membership fees doesn't multiply out correctly, suggesting either one figure or the other is wrong, or NRA contributions came from another source entirely. The NRA doesn't allow public review or independent audits, so it's not possible to tell. However, I took the NRA at its word and used its own figures.

  16. Well, some of that NRA membership money may have come from Russia. (I mentioned this in my 2/1/18 SleuthSayers piece, "Just Another January in South Dakota.) FBI counterintelligence investigators are looking into the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA. The NRA contributed $30 million to the Trump campaign. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

  17. Sylvia, most of the sources are included in the first block and one in the lower block. To arrive at YTD figures, I extrapolated or interpolated the most recent statistics or estimates and used a multiplier of 49÷365.25 (0.13415469).

    The incarceration figure requires a footnote. Technically the Seychelles has a higher incarceration rate than the US, partly because they have a UN-funded international prison for housing terrorists, pirates, and the like.

    The office of Rep. Val Demings provided the information about gun laws proposals and bills. The Florida State House was considerably more vague, although the effort to expand the Shoot First / Stand Your Ground law is well known.

    Beyond this, a number of studies are available, some behind paywalls. Originally I turned to Wikipedia for general information, but found their figures much lower than most sources. As so often happens with them, it's possible a group of gun minions or fan-boys are controlling those articles.

    I hope this helps, Sylvia. Good luck with your research!

  18. Excellent point, Eve. What better way to manipulate the American political system than to funnel millions to enemies of your enemy.

  19. Too easy to point and shoot. Also, I think we can all agree that the nature of our entertainment is violent. Yes, good vs evil, but they may not translate for different generations. Video games as a whole are shoot'em up based. Our government itself trains our young people to protect our country with various weaponry! Maybe our culture is to blame as much as anything else.

  20. You’re right, Steve. I am as guilty as anyone for creating violent entertainment, i.e, murder mysteries. Perhaps some games and entertainments allow us to work out our darker natures, to exorcise our demons. Maybe…

    {As a side note, it’s been argued many sports are a form of combat, some more obvious than others. Team sports, particularly those with goals (hockey, football, basketball), are considered a form of war, but one where we don’t have to kill to win. If only we could work out all aggression so readily.}


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