A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mass Murders In 2013

I can understand the feelings of Gabby Giffords. Not only was she seriously wounded in a mass murder, but the Newtown massacre of tiny school children and their teachers at the end of 2012 gave this country the perfect opportunity to do something about the out of control gun violence in the United States. The American people wanted action -- at the very least the closing of the loopholes in the background check law for gun purchases (where at least 40% of purchasers are able to duck having a background check because they buy from a private individual, at a gun show, or off the internet).

But Congress did absolutely nothing. They knuckled under to the NRA, and their lies that any new gun laws would be a violation of the Second Amendment. They ran scared by the right-wing lies that government wanted to take guns away from Americans -- afraid they wouldn't be re-elected if they passed a reasonable gun law. It was a classic display of political cowardice.

So the killing went on, including a ridiculous number of mass murders (defined by the FBI as a shooting that takes the life of at least four people, not counting the shooter). And even though there were far too many mass murders with firearms, that is only the tip of the iceberg of gun violence in America. When we include murders of less than four people, accidental deaths by firearms, and suicides with a gun, the total climbs up above 30,000 deaths (which is about the yearly average).

Gawker has compiled an eye-opening list of the mass murders in 2013 by firearms (using the stringent FBI definition). Here is their list:

January

7 - Tulsa, Oklahoma: Four women ranging in ages from 23 to 55 were found in their apartment shot dead with their hands tied behind their backs. A pair of brothers was arrested for allegedly robbing and killing them.
19 - Albuquerque, New Mexico: 15-year-old Nehemiah Gringo allegedly used an AR-15 to kill his entire family—his gang-member-turned-preacher father, his mother, a 9-year-old brother, and two sisters, ages 5 and 2. He also reportedly had plans to shoot up a Walmart.

March

13 - Herkimer, New York: A 64-year-old "loner" died in a gun-battle with police after he killed four at a barbershop and oil-lube shop. He also killed a 2-year-old police dog, Ape, before succumbing.

April

18 - Akron, Ohio: Two men and two women ranging in ages from 19 to 23 were lined up in their basement and shot in the head point-blank. Two men have been arrested in connection with the murders.
22 - Federal Way, Washington: A man with a carry license killed his girlfriend, then shot three other neighbors in her apartment complex to death before himself being killed by shots from eight police officers.
24 - Manchester, Illinois: A man angered over a custody dispute killed five of his daughter's mother's family members in their home, then led police on a high-speed chase. He later died in officers' custody.
28 - Ottawa, Kansas: A man allegedly murdered his best friend and a roommate before raping the best friend's girlfriend, then shooting her and her 18-month-old daughter to death. The shooter, who awaits trial, says he "ain't never hurt no man that didn't have it coming."

May

11 - Waynesville, Indiana: Four people were shot in their rural home. After a search of the home turned up meth, police concluded the killings were drug-related. The following month, a suspect who was already in jail was arrested for the murders.
13 - Fernley, Nevada: A man killed two couples in their homes over Mother's Day weekend, burning their houses. He also slew a newspaper deliveryman and stole his truck.

June

7 - Santa Monica, California: An emotionally troubled 23-year-old with 1,300 rounds of ammunition killed his father and brother before going on a rampage that killed three more at Santa Monica College. The gunman was killed on campus by police.

July

26 - Hialeah, Florida: A workout enthusiast under scrutiny for sending abusive emails to an ex-employer killed the husband-and-wife managers of his apartment, then murdered four more neighbors before taking hostages. He was killed by police; the hostages were unharmed.
26 - Clarksburg, West Virginia: A gunman killed two in a suspected drug house, then while fleeing shot and killed a 70-year-old man and his 47-year-old son who were in the neighborhood to deliver the local paper.

August

7 - Dallas, Texas: A former teacher and football coach killed his girlfriend, estranged wife, and two of their children before police arrested him.
14 - Oklahoma City: A "weird" 40-year-old man killed his mother, sister, niece, and a 7-month-old nephew with a .380 pistol. He currently awaits trial.

September

11 - Crab Orchard, Tennessee: A man and a woman were arrested for killing four people, ages 16 to 22, in their car during a robbery that followed a botched marijuana deal.
16 - Washington, D.C.: A military contractor who claimed to hear voices murdered 12 ex-coworkers with a sawed-off shotgun at the federal Navy Yard before he was killed by police.
20 - Rice, Texas: A woman killed her husband, their three sons, and herself in their apartment. The husband had been arrested for a domestic violence charge two weeks before.

October

9 - Paris, Texas: Four people were found dead in a home; it's not yet clear what transpired or who killed them.
26 - Phoenix, Arizona: A man who was allegedly thrown into a rage over the neighbors' two barking dogs killed the animals, then his four neighbors, then himself with a pump-action shotgun.
28 - Terrell, Texas: A man who "appeared to be intoxicated" killed five people, including a convenience store clerk, at four locations before police caught him.
29 - Callison, South Carolina: A man killed his ex-girlfriend, her parents, and two of her children before taking his own life.

November

7 - Jacksonville, Florida: Two men and their girlfriends were killed in what appeared to be a planned drive-by shooting. The suspects are at large.
23 - Tulsa, Oklahoma: Four people were killed in a suspected meth house. No suspects have been arrested.

December

1 - Topeka, Kansas: Four people were killed at a house in the town's southwest section. No suspects have been named.
3 - Alma, Arkansas: After arriving home with them, a man killed his daughter's boyfriend in the car, then killed his 4-month-old grandson while he lay in his car seat. He pursued his daughter and four-year-old granddaughter into the backyard, killing the granddaughter before turning the gun on himself.
3 - Erwin, Tennessee: A man with a record of domestic unrest killed his wife, son, and daughter before committing suicide.
8 - Manchester, Connecticut: A man killed his ex-girlfriend and two friends, then fled with the couple's 13-month-old child. When confronted outside by police, he set the child down on the ground and fatally shot himself.
Isn't it time we did something about the gun violence in the United States? No one, not even liberals like myself, wants to violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution or try to take guns away from law-abiding Americans. But the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the Second Amendment right to own a firearm is not an absolute one -- that there are people the state has a compelling interest in denying the right to own a firearm (like convicted criminals and the dangerously mentally ill). The very least we could do is make sure anyone trying to buy a gun (from  any source) must clear a background check.

4 comments:

  1. If more people surrounding Ms. Giffords had been carrying concealed weapons the gunman would have been shot dead much quicker and more people would have been spared.

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    Replies
    1. False. Another one of those stories that sounds good, but doesn't work i reality. It turns out that several people in the crowd did have guns, but were not able to react quickly enough to be of any use. The gunmen was stopped by unarmed people. Gun lovers like to think they would be heroes in such a situation, but that has almost never been the case. In the few situations where the gunmen was stopped by someone with a gun, they turned out to be police (off-duty or on) who had been trained for that.

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  2. I grew up in a very violent household. My father had been a pilot in the USAF with a top secret clearance. He abused all of his five children. He seemed to be an unhappy man. All those hours spent in an airplane at 35,000 ft obviously did something to his brain too. He was hospitalized when he had massive heart attack number one and subsequent seizures. Surgery revealed 4 large blood clots in 4 different parts of his brain. They say the heart attack saved his life because the blood clots were growing and bleeding into other parts of his brain. Anyway, he had a 'gun case' that my mother had made to house his many guns. He had an elephant gun, a German Luger, several shotguns including an antique Blunderbuss, a few more handguns, and a rifle left over from WWII. He had ammunition for all these guns and all these guns worked! Every night was a sleepless one for me each time I came home from college (University of TX) to spend the weekend. My father couldn't sleep well and would get up at 3AM to wander the house and frequently he would go to the gun cabinet to look at or clean his guns. In 1971 he had a massive second heart attack (myocardial infarction) and died. Who knows what would have happened if he had lived longer? I'm not sure we can ever enact laws that would prevent someone like my dad from owning/collecting guns and, because of an illness/condition, murder his family and commit suicide like a lot of men do. Another observation I have made is that most of these shootings are committed by men or boys. Does that say something about our culture or about the male psyche? I don't know the answer to that question but I wanted to share my story which does have a less murderous outcome but still damaged me and my siblings through the sheer terror of uncertainty about our safety in our own home.

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