Posted on March 09 2019
Dear NRA & Trump & GOP...
MORE GUNS ARE NOT THE ANSWER
Full Disclosure, shocker I’m a parent and like millions of other American parents nearly every week when I see my phone push a local alert, I have to take a deep breath and my inner thought bubble says:
Oh. Dear. God...please do not let today be the day my child’s school is added to the growing list of mass school shootings.
Please do not let my community join the endless list of American Communities touched by gun violence..
And then I look down at my phone breathing a selfish sigh of relief because I realize it’s just a public safety announcement and/or road conditions and/or severe weather alert. Unfortunately the actual reality is, I’m probably not the only parent, who puts their kids on the bus and as I watch the bus pull away I say a prayer for my children and their classmates to be safe. Again if you are like me and have school aged children, I can pretty much guarantee that your children have participated in the same “lock down drills”.
Yet somehow the NRA’s predicable response to the constant mass shootings is:
Guns. God. And more guns.
We need more guns.
We need to arm ALL teachers.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
With the one year anniversary of the horrific February 14, 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Which is now often referred to as the Parkland mass shooting. Sadly Parkland is now enshrined in our Country’s disheartening and shameful historical list of school shootings.
If you are like me and have school aged children, I can almost guarantee that your children have participated in lock-down drills. And maybe your child’s PTO has pushed for more donations so the children can have bulletproof backpacks and/or white boards in their classrooms. Again maybe I’m in the minority but investing in bulletproof backpacks or white board seems reactive versus being proactive. As in until we have an intellectually honest conversation about the mental health component and easy access to guns and ammunition, we will continue to see more mass shootings. In honor and remembrance of those killed last year, remember their names:
Alyssa Alhadeff, 15 Martin Duque, 14 Nicholas Dworet, 17 Jaime Guttenburg, 14 Luke Hoyer, 15 Cara Loughran, 14 Gina Montalto, 14 Joaquin Oliver, 17Alaina Petty, 14 Meadow Pollack, 18 Helena Ramsey, 17 Alex Schachter, 14 Carmen Schentrup, 16 Peter Wang,
Parkland Teachers, Coaches...
15 Scott Beigel, 35 Aaron Feis, 37 Chris Hixon, 49
As a parent and (occasionally) a quasi-decent human being, I realized after the fact that my tweet (before my account was fratted), that the list of Parkland FL names was so long that it could not fit in a singular tweet. Death and grieving does not come with a handbook, everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. While some may use the colloquium “time heals all wounds”...I can assure you that is a terrible thing to say to someone who’s grieving. I learned that lesson the hard way. Even though the intent is to comfort a person who’s lost a loved one...it just comes across as callus.
Time does NOT heal this kind of soul crushing pain. I don’t know any of these victims, therefore their story is not mine to tell. The only words of advice I can give is: those who are grieving given them the room they need to grieve. With respect to the Parland families, many years ago a friend of mind sent me the following Emerson quote on a wall placard...it gave me comfort:
“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thoughts & Prayers
By way of context, shortly after Parkland our esteemed President offered these delightful words (note my extreme sarcasm) of: the newest NRA talking points/propaganda. Trump’s lack of situational awareness continues to offend the more sensible sections of our populace. Most days I just want him to go play golf or merely STFU. He has the compassion of a cockroach. Period
Again I should reiterate I worked (note the past tense) foe the NRA, I was in their grassroots division. This division’s sole responsibility was to call NRA members and to alert them to any legislation (Local, State and/or Federal) that would “restrict their second Amendment Rights”...I just couldn’t look myself in the mirror knowing that I was actively part of the NRA’s distortion and disinformation campaign, so I resigned.
I am not anti-gun. I actually enjoy skeet shooting and target practice. Furthermore I believe there needs to be a legislative compromise, like common sense background checks, red flag alerts and mandatory reporting and any person buying large amounts of ammunition and firearms.
In the mid Spring of 2018, I decided to start digging for facts, unbeknownst to me, the FBI had recently released their 2016-2017 Active Shooter report. You can read my previous entry here. You can read the FBI 2016/2017 report, here.
And with every new mass shooting, I quitely say to myself:
I thought after Columbine 💔 I thought after Virginia Tech 💔I thought after Sandy Hook 💔 I thought after Aurora 💔I thought after Naval Yard 💔 I thought after Las Vegas 💔I thought after Sulpher Springs, TX 💔I thought after Parkland...
And no sooner then the headlines of the Parkland shooting dissipated from nearly every news outlets segments. The NRA’s darling, Donald Trump started pushing the NRA’s fringe latest and recycled talking points: more guns. arm teachers...this was NRA’s Wayne LaPierre one week after Parkland, using the enormous CPAC platform to aggressively lobby “conservatives” to “arm teachers”, I want you to listen to how he positions the NRA’s argument...simply put these types of public policy pushes by the NRA is why I canceled my membership. The NRA consistently traffics in fear tactics, they rarely put forth any reasonable compromise, the NRA’s only argument is more guns...
It seems to me that the radical NRA forgets the actual language in our Constitution, as in the Second Amendment:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
I do not understand why common sense gun safety is a straight out war with the NRA and conservatives at large. Why would you need a weapon that was specifically designed for mass murder, or why would you need a bump stock that allows for an AR to spray hundreds of bullets in the least amount of time possible. The after action report of the horrific Las Vegas shooting, it was difficult to read, but I’ve previously written about that mass shooting and others...which you can find here.
Exhibit A - Las Vegas:
How do you run for cover when a mad man is armed to the teeth with multiple ARs, and thousands of rounds of Ammunition. Simple you can’t. The Las Vegas shooter meticulously planned out this mass shooting, the DOJ after action report aggregates the data. It’s mind blowing:
Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 600 physically injured when a man opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, an open-air music venue, from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip. When officers located the gunman and entered the room, he was found dead with self-inflicted wounds.
Trump traveled to Dallas, TX as the NRA’s keynote speaker. And while you may not agree with me, I offer zero excuse when I say the NRA is now squarely a fringe organization...and dare I say, that the NRA is in fact a terrorist organization.
I understand that this Terrorist Organization “label” offends the NRA. Let me tell you want offends a lot of us, our children are NOT your political pawns. Our children’s constitutional right to life and liberty does not nor should not supersede your right to own a weapon of war. If you understand the history of the AR, then you would understand that even it’s inventor Eugene Stoner and his family, see this 2016 NBC News Report:
Our father, Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47,” the Stoner family told NBC News late Wednesday. "He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events.
Yes that’s me saying that I agree with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Order the Court largely used the late Justice Scalia opinion in Heller v DC. What the NRA and their fervent supporters will not tell you...in 2008 Justice Scalia made a logical argument essentially carving out that the second Amendment is “not unlimited” but this is the position the NRA wants you to believe. In simpler terms one’s second amendment rights can be protected while striking a reasonable and common sense balance of a “well regulated militia”
The term was applied, then as now, to “weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity...”
And then not even a week after the Parkland mass shooting, he then goes on twitter to amplify the NRA’s propaganda. All while gas lighting us, seriously you are caught on TAPE advocating arming teachers irrespective of what your bullshit CYA tweet says. This is just another example of why no one should believe you, you lie on a pathological level like we’ve never experienced.
Liar mcLiar Face...Lordy there be tapes:
I never said “give teachers guns” like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving “concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
January 1, 2019 to Present, by the Numbers
According to the -almost- real time aggregate data compiled by Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is an amazing research organization and the numbers they track daily are sadly jaw dropping. They have been consistent with providing facts and analysis to ordinary Americans. I would bookmark their website. GVA’s mission statement better explains why I find their organization immensely helpful:
GunViolenceArchive (GVA) is a not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. GVA will collect and check for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then post and disseminate it online, primarily if not exclusively on this website and summary ledgers at www.facebook.com/gunviolencearchive
As GVA’s Twitter account regularly pushed updated numbers, I would also recommend you follow their twitter account for timely updates and data.
The First Two Months of 2019 (real-time U.S. data, as of 3/1):— Gun Violence Archive (@GunDeaths) March 1, 2019
•2,248 gun deaths
•3,854 gun injuries
•85 children shot
•361 teenagers shot
•311 armed home invasions
•200 defensive gun use incidents
•239 unintentional shootings
•48 mass shootingshttps://t.co/Fh7bVy3cBo pic.twitter.com/chmeZTaaly
Since January 1, 2019 GVA has identified the following data, I’ve embedded each link to the actual data on GVA’s website, as they link to various law enforcement reports and other databases. Hence you can read and understand that sources and methodology of GVA’s tracking. The data is then synthesized by GVA in various categories and subcategories:
- Gun Incidents - 9,073 itemized incidents found here.
- Gun Deaths - 2,479 aggregate data found here.
- Gun related injuries - 4,251 data found here.
- Mass Shootings - 51 data found here.
National Education Association (NEA):
In March of 2018 the NEA sent a survey to its members >3.2+ million members. The data makes for a compelling argument of arming teachers, by a plurality the NEA Members rejected the “let’s arm teachers”.
You can read the whole survey report here. I’ve pulled out a few interesting datapoints from the March 2018 NEA survey:
Favorability Ratings: Trump, DeVos and NRA upside down:
I'd like to rate your feelings toward a few organizations and people, with one hundred meaning a VERY WARM, FAVORABLE feeling; zero meaning a VERY COLD, UNFAVORABLE feeling; and fifty meaning not particularly warm or cold. You can use any number from zero to one hundred, the higher the number the more favorable your feelings are toward that person or organization
The survey asked NEA members their thoughts on the ease of purchasing a firearm and if gun violence in America is a problem, crisis etc...again the plurality of Members surveyed is striking:
When members were asked about their concern about their school being the next for a mass shooting. The members response was 60% were/are worried versus 39% not worried.
Other keypoints: NEA Members surveyed, they overwhelmingly rejected the arming educators, conversely they widely support various gun violence prevention measures:
Educators see gun violence as a huge problem. Half (51 percent) believe gun violence is a crisis for the country and 36 percent see it as a very serious problem.
Educators say they would not carry a gun to school. If allowed to receive training and carry a gun to school, 82 percent of NEA members say they would not carry a gun to school.
99% of NEA Members surveyed favor universal background checks.
91% favor preventing people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns.
90% are in favor of prohibiting those with a history of domestic violence from purchasing guns
85% banning assault weapons, 84% banning bump stocks, 80% banning high capacity magazines, 78% raising the age of gun ownership to 21...
American Federation of Teachers (AFT):
Just a few weeks before the NEA’s March 2018 Survey, the AFT passed a sweeping resolution the AFT’s executive council issued a statement, which reads in part:
“Today, our union rededicated ourselves to doing everything we can to protect kids and educators and prevent gun violence in our schools. We support every action being organized. We will be with you in the streets, in our statehouses, in Washington and at the ballot box. We are joining with teachers, students, parents and communities for a national day of action on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, to stop gun violence in our schools. We are coming together with those who learn in, teach in, send their kids to and care about public schools, to take a stand.”
You can read the AFT’s February 2018 Press Release in its entirety, here. AFT’s resolution is largely similar to the questions asked in the NEA Survey but it’s a worthwhile read, especially this particular section, the numbers are staggering:
WHEREAS, in the wake of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., we said, “never again,” yet there have been 239 school shootings since Newtown, with 438 people shot and 138 murdered—most recently the 17 students, teachers and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.; and
WHEREAS, the mass murder of students, teachers and staff at Stoneman Douglas High School was committed using a legally purchased AR-15—the same weapon used in mass murders in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; Orlando, Fla.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Las Vegas, Nev.; and more;
WHEREAS, the National Rifle Association has stood in our way, using money and threats and influence to fight every commonsense reform of gun laws as an assault on the Second Amendment rather than a means to ensure the safety of Americans, while also shielding gun manufacturers from all legal liability related to the sale or use of their products... (emphasis added)
You can read AFT’s entire 2018 Resolution here.
With the aforementioned NEA survey and AFT Resolution in mind, here are few questions and likely scenarios, albeit these are hypocritical in nature that should be contemplated. Although the likelihood is high that any one of these scenarios could become real life/world scenarios. If we are really going down the path of let’s arm educators. Then we should be discussed this “solution” and it must be properly vetted by ALL stakeholders (law enforcement, educators, parents etc) before we decide this is a viable solution to the ever growing problem of school shootings:
Scenario A: hypothetically speaking, let’s say that your local school becomes the newest name to be added to the incredibly long list of an Active Shooter situation. Your school board, local and/or state government authorized the ability for educators to bring a gun into the school. An assailant opens fire on a classroom, the educator pulls their gun out but misses neutralizing the shooter. They exchange gun fire and then Law Enforcement (LEO) arrives:
How can the LEOs quickly assertain that the educator isn’t the active shooter?
What is the training and certification process for allowing an educator to bring their “personal” firearm in to their classroom?
What happens if the Educator isn’t a decent shot and accidentally shoots students in the crossfire with the actual assailant?
Scenario B: (assumption that the educator’s firearm isn’t in the educator’s holster or otherwise on the the educator’s person) let’s say a student or students locate the educators firearm in the classroom and then decides to open fire on his/her classmates.
How does arming an educator address that possible scenario?
What happens when the educator is shot by the assailant and is now unable to neutralize the actual shooter?
Who holds the liability of an educator’s private gun being used to kill or injury students?
Scenario C: Student Resource Officers (SROs) are meant to keep students and educators safe. These LEOs are specifically trained and have a unique skill set to accertain and de-escalate techniques when dealing with adolescents. What happens when an educator becomes an SRO? Who pays for the extra training? How often does this SRO/Educator have to re-certify their firearms skills?
American Bar Association (ABA):
In January of 2019, the ABA passed multiple concurrent Resolutions. Granted I am inherently biased and have almost always supported the ABA. In my opinion they have an important voice and are the de facto subject matter experts as it relates to laws and impacts of said laws. Notwithstanding the ABA’s multi-prong approach sets forth a more fulsome practical solution, for all parties involved. The ABA’s resolutions focus on three important issues: addressing the notion of “arming educators”, addressing the mental health component and advocating for what’s colloquially known as the “cooling off period”. The ABA House opposes arming teachers and supports suicide-prevention measure. Monte Frank, an ABA delegate from Connecticut stated the following:
“I’d like to make something perfectly clear,’” Frank recounted. “‘If teachers had been armed, it would not have helped, In fact, it may very well have made things even worse.’”
Passed the following resolutions, I’ve taken the liberty of embedding the adopted resolutions below:
106A: opposes laws that would authorize teachers and other nonsecurity school employees to carry guns at pre-K through grade 12 schools. It also opposes the use of public funds to arm and train those people.
106B: Urges federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments to reduce potential harm that individuals may inflict on themselves or others by enacting statutes, rules, or regulations allowing individuals to temporarily prevent themselves from purchasing firearms.
106C: Urges that the possession of firearms in and around courthouses be limited to persons with an official role in security and that such persons be required to complete annual training in firearm safety.
Trump Administration & Arming Educators
It is not like the Trump administration is the bastion of truth or their refusal to adhere to transparency, particularly as it relates to the Legislative Branch who’s job it is to be the check and balance towards the Executive Branch. Late in the Summer of 2018, Education Secretary Beaty DeVos issued the following letter, to be frank I find DeVos to be the less credible of the compromised Cabinet officials. Given how many Cabinet officials that were forced to resign under a deepening cloud of corruption.
During DeVos’ confirmation hearing, Senator Chris Murphy asked a very simple question: “do you believe guns should be in schools”
.@BetsyDeVosED "Let me be clear: I have no intention of taking any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff under the ESEA...Congress did not authorize me or the Department to make those decisions." pic.twitter.com/xbH8UTtZLZ— ED Press Secretary (@EDPressSec) August 31, 2018
North Carolina Senate Bill 192:
Even in the face of commonsense that wasn’t enough for the North Carolina General Assembly. On March 7, 2019, SENATE BILL 192, entitled:
School Security Act of 2019
This proposed bill offers a 5% pay increase for Educators who volunteer to become School Resource Offices, not only are tax payers paying the two weeks worth of pay for the teachers to attend training, you are also paying for the training of up to 3,000 teachers, while obligating some $4,700,000.00 from the general education fund as set forth in the following sections:
Upon completion of said Student Resource Officer Training these teachers then qualify for a 5% increase in their monthly pay, hence the North Carolina General Assembly obligates an additional $4,500,000.00 in reoccurring budget obligations through fiscal year 2021.
SECTION 5.(f) There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Public Instruction the sum of four million seven hundred seventy thousand dollars ($4,770,000) in nonrecurring funds for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to fund the Candidate Teacher Resource Officer Grant Program for up to 3,000 candidate teacher resource officers.
PART VI. PROVIDE SUPPLEMENTAL PAY TO TEACHER RESOURCE OFFICERS
SECTION 6.(a) For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the funded ratio of teacher resource officers teacher, upon meeting the criteria to become a teacher resource officer, as defined in G.S. 115C-105.50(b)(8), shall submit to the Department of Public Instruction a one-time application to receive a salary supplement each month of five percent (5%) of his or her monthly salary on the "A" salary schedule.
If you are keeping track that means the North Carolina School Security Act of 2019 obligates >$9,200,000.00 in funding for this initiative. Thus taking away almost $10M from the States General Education fund to train and arm teachers. To put the 5% pay increase into context, see the April of 2018 the NEA Annual Report:
Rankings of the States 2017 and Estimates of School Statistics 201
See Page 5 Teacher Salary:
The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2016–17 was $59,660. State average teacher salaries ranged from those in New York ($81,902), California ($79,128), and Massachusetts ($78,100) at the high end to Mississippi ($42,925), Oklahoma ($45,292) and West Virginia ($45,555) at the low end.
Moreover in the past decade the North Carolina General Assembly (NC GA) has robbed Peter to pay Paul and by “Peter” I mean the NCGA has tapped in to the funds set aside for public education. Resulting in a -9.4%, the average teacher’s salary in N.C. is well below the National Average. In 2017 N.C. teachers earned an average salary of $49,990 and only saw a 1.95% increase for 2018, see page 50 of the NEA’s report. One could infer a 5% increase to become a Student Resource Officer might be economically aattractive.
Granted none of this should suprise you, the NRA and NRA-ILA are heavily invested in North Carolina, for example in 2016 the NRA-ILA poured some $4 million in to this Political Ad campaign. Not that this matters but during the year I’m a part time resident (full time tax payer) of North Carolina and I remember this ad playing back to back in 2016. As affirmed by the NRA-ILA October 2016 Press Release, which reads in part:
The ad, “Hometown,” brings NRA’s spending in North Carolina's U.S. Senate race to nearly $4 million and will run on both broadcast and cable television in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro and Wilmington as well as digitally statewide.
At the end of the day, set aside feelings and just focus on the data. The numbers do not lie and this data compiled by Everytown USA provides facts as in more guns do NOT make us safer. I’d argue that more guns result in more deaths. Full Stop.
Can we all agree that arming teachers isn’t the most effective way to keep our children safe? What we should talk is how to better identify and early intervention (heavily weighted towards mental health) to prevent future mass shooters. In June of 2018 the FBI published the following report. They attempted to extrapolate key findings such as triggers and demographics as it relates to pre-attack behaviors. Interestingly the notion of “they just snapped” is in fact a fallacy. The FBI’s report shows not only the demographics but also the various warning signs. The one commonality is, the mental health component.
As detailed on pages 9 thru 13 of the FBI report:
The sample comprised individuals who varied widely along a range of demographic factors making it impossible to create a demographic profile of an active shooter. Indeed, the findings and conclusions of this study should be considered in light of the reality that these 63 active shooters did not appear to be uniform in any way such that they could be readily identified prior to attacking based on demographics alone.
On page 10 the FBI presents some sobering demographic information about Active Shooters. I’m certain this is not a suprise but of the 93+ active shooter incidents the FBI investigated >63% the shooter was a White Male. The debate is still ongoing about the radicalization and if that pushes a shooter. The reality is a majority of the time the shooter is neutralized and it’s difficult to assertain what was going through their head and what was the trigger for them to arm themselves and then carry out a mass shooting.
All I know is I do not see how more guns solves the deadly mass shootings. I suppose if we did have universal background checks, early mental health intervention and/or mandatory alerts if a person alll of a sudden buys hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition that might be a decent start. I’m just tired of the NRA and mostly Conservatives cow-towing to the NRA. What part of common sense gun safety is lost on them? If you have a better solution I’m all ears because I m not okay with our New Normal. -Spicy Out
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