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James Michael Brodie On February - 1 - 2013
Pära-3 Submachine Gun

Pära-3 Submachine Gun (Photo credit: Pära)

This issue of guns and gun rights has always fascinated me.

You have people who live in areas where gun violence is rare — so rare that incidents become the lead story on the news.

Columbine. Aurora. Connecticut. Virginia Tech. The list goes on. Communities where violence comes once in a glaring blue moon. Still tragic. Not every day.

These are the folks who moved to those areas in the first place out of some fear of a phantom “other,” only to learn that the phantom is among them and not outside. These are the folks who desire to arm themselves to the teeth in fear of something dark and sinister lurking in the shadows, while dreaming up Revere-esque fantasies of modern-day “redcoats.” These are the “real Americans,” who want to have more guns than the police — who are at the ready to wage war on…

Then you have people who live in communities where guns and the havoc they can bring have are very real, where the dead and the dying are real people. Baltimore. Chicago. DC. Detroit. St. Louis. The list goes on.

They don’t make the News – mentioned as nothing but body counts  at 6 and 11 p.m. Their names don’t become national rallying cries.

Unknown. Faceless.  Statistics.


None in those communities are clamoring for more guns in the neighborhood. None in those neighborhoods are declaring war on their government. None in those neighborhoods are preparing for war against their fellow citizens. None are saying “if only I had an assault weapon.”

When you see what guns can do in the wrong hands each and every day — not just once in a blue moon — there is no time for fantasy…

Written by James Michael Brodie

Writer/author -- I am a journalist who has written about education and other issues. I am also a former teacher in Baltimore City School System, grew up in Colorado. Have written a few books on Black history, and have 20 years experience as a journalist. As for politics, I guess I am a liberal-leaning Independent. I prefer conversation over shouting matches -- and feel free to call me on that when I fall out of line.

55 Responses so far.

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  1. MurphTheSurf3 says:

    Hell JM…I do not think we have met yet but I am glad to make your acquaintance.

    I live in rural Missouri in the midst of a thriving gun culture. That culture is both traditional and mythic.

    The tradition pieces is where I live. I have a handgun (in a safe in my bedroom), a rifle and a shotgun (both in gun racks with key parts separated from the bodies). The handgun is for immediate protection of life and property. If need be I could recruit the shotgun. Why? I live in an area where hundreds of miles are patrolled by a handful of sheriff’s deputies. Response times can be considerable. I also live in an area where Meth labs dot the landscape. There is a culture of lawlessness among a number of residents BUT almost everyone knows that almost anyone could be armed. And if they are armed they will be practiced in the use of their firearm. So, there are very few crimes out here.

    My rifle and shotgun are for hunting and target shooting. As I get older I do less of each.

    I have no need for any other weapons, or high capacity mags, or specialty bullets, or personal armor.

    Sadly, I have neighbors who live in the realm of the mythical. They believe that support for and reliance on the 2nd amendment is the first test of the true patriot. Having many weapons of as high a caliber as possible, with the largest magazines available, capable of semi-auto (and even auto operation thanks to the kits available) and outfitted in battle fatigues with body armor- marks them as loyal sons and daughters of liberty ready to stand up to bands of marauders, or a tyrannical government.

    Of course, they aren’t. If civil order were to break down, they would discover how dependent we all are on a social order- most of which we are barely aware of. If the government were to come for them….well think of the Branch Davidians.

    You present the position of those living in communities where guns are everywhere and they are in the wrong hands. In those communities guns are a blight, a plague upon the land.

    It is a world that most of those who live in mine do not have a chance of understanding without a lot of awareness building. Those in the historic world tend to be open to new info (which is why most of us support complete background checks, limitations on the kinds of arms and mags available, and good training). Those who dwell in the mythic world are much harder to reach.

    I appreciate your insights here very much.


    • JMBrodie says:

      Thank you, my friend. You are most kind. I meant no disrespect. Only meant to tell a different side and add a humantiy to those impacted deeply by gun violence.

  2. foodchain says:

    Here’s some infor that might not have been made public enough:

    Here are some excerpts from the NYT about what this town did prior to the killing of 20 children by massive bullet penetration

    Yet recent efforts by the police chief and other town leaders to gain some control over the shooting and the weaponry turned into a tumultuous civic fight, with traditional hunters and discreet gun owners opposed by assault weapon enthusiasts, and a modest tolerance for bearing arms competing with the staunch views of a gun industry trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which has made Newtown its home……

    The police department logged more than 50 gunfire complaints this year through July, double the number for all of 2011, records show. Some of the complaints raised another issue. Gun enthusiasts here, as elsewhere in the country, have taken to loading their targets with an explosive called Tannerite, which detonates when bullets strike it, sending shock waves afield. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, Tannerite is legal in Connecticut, but safety concerns led Maryla-nd this year to ban it…..

    “I’ve hunted for many years, but the police department was getting complaints of shooting in the morning, in the evening, and of people shooting at propane gas tanks just to see them explode,” Mr. Faxon said.

  3. Hey JM, good to see you here again. Good article, not enough can be said about how wrong these gun nuts are. They must be the most frightened people in America. I truly believe these assault weapon nut sacks are suffering from some sort of mental illness. Very paranoid, without good reason to be paranoid.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. Some people are just too good for this wicked world of ours.

    • JMBrodie says:

      Hey, Killgore. Thanks for the kind words. I am really hoping Congress does something this time, that they ignore the crazy and the paranoid.

  4. foodchain says:

    JMBrodie, as a Chicagoan for most of my life—suburban I’ll admit--I understand what your saying. Guns are not saviors. People are. When they say guns don’t kill people, people kill people, they are wrong. The ease and annonymity make it simple to kill people when you’re angry or in turf wars. When it becomes more difficult to kill, when you have to be up close and personal the killings will drop immediately.

    If everyone carried a knife--how many are going to kill? A knife is a weapon of defense and a weapon against weak people. Only guns can kill easily and without any contact.

  5. Kalima says:

    JMBrodie, firstly I was so very sorry to hear about your sister, please accept my sincere condolences for your tragic loss.

    I’m not a person who will jump in about another country’s laws unless it’s about oppression, genocide or an unjust war, so I will just say as I always have said here and on other blogs over the years, that your gun control laws are mind boggling to any foreigner.

    I have had the good fortune to live in 3 different countries for many years in my life, and have always felt safe. The country I have called home for three decades now, has a death by gun average of one person yearly, with most being either a hunting mishap, or more often than not a yakuza/mafia shoot out. The mafia smuggle in their guns mainly from the Philippines, and are arrested if they are found to have any firearms. No private citizen can own a hand gun.

    Just to show you why I feel so safe here, an article I posted a few days ago about how difficult it is just to get a rifle to hunt here.


    In Japan, gun control is the norm and discipline is rigid


    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Hey Kalima….great article. There are similar stories to be told from other countries that decided to tame the best. I have friends in Australia who tell the story of a gun wild culture turned on its head after the Port Arthur massacre.

      • Kalima says:

        Hi Murph, I just can’t get my head around so many people having guns. I wasn’t scared of being shot in Germany, in the U.K. or now here in Japan. Going out shopping or in my own home, I don’t worry that someone will come to my door with the intention of shooting me. I feel safe or as safe as one can be where the one thing that could one day kill me is an earthquake happening almost every week, and there is nothing I can do to protect myself from the big one coming to our region one of these days.

        • foodchain says:

          Kalima, if you have a chance:

          I find it profound that Newtown’s many assault weapon enthusiasts--that blow up propane tanks with assault weapons, put explosives in their ammo and is anti gun control.

    • cyrano1 says:

      Kalima: Great article! It’s always great being able to view ourselves from the lens of those who don’t live here, and we have easy access to international gun violence statistics which support the reality that lots of guns lying around result in the deaths of lots of people.

      The jingoistic attitude of so many of us here is so frustrating! And input from those who live safer lives in other countries (meddling outsiders) is met with such outrage and hostility.

      As you know, the NRA used incredible speed in reacting to Piers Morgan’s comparison of the UK and the US in gun violence rates, immediately creating a firestorm of anger from the NRA which resulted in their posting a petition on the White House “We the People” website. Purpose: Deport him! It garnered over 100,000 signatures before Obama finally responded -- sadly having to respond to “stupid” simply for the purpose of shutting it down.

      Our first amendment??? Reasoned arguments??? Absolutely not!!

      • Kalima says:

        Hi Cyrano 1. I will always continue to give my view from the other side where it’s appropriate because sometimes being too close to an issue can cloud our vision. As I said below to JMBrodie, that the gun control regulations have been allowed to be so lax because of profit for both the manufacturers and disgustingly many members of Congress, is unforgivable. There is no reasoning or logical explanation for the need of assault weapons outside of armed conflict somewhere by your military. I dislike guns, always have, and would feel less safe if I had one in my home, but that’s just me.

        If Congress folds on this, then the American people need to take to the streets in peaceful protest. In Europe many things have changed because people had reached their limits, and weren’t afraid to show it in public. When the issue is about guns that kill another human, I don’t think that compromise and folding should be on the table. The gun nuts are insane with their chants of having their guns taken away, let just one of them go public with a good reason why anyone should be able to buy an assault rifle, I don’t believe anyone can, because it has nothing to do with your 2nd amendment.

        About the petition to deport Piers Morgan I don’t know if you were aware of it when a week later in the U.K. they started a petition saying, “We don’t want him. You can keep him”. It was a lot of fun while it lasted.

        I’m watching this very closely as I do with all issues around the world and hope for a change in your gun control laws. It should be so much more than just someone worrying about their re-election, and if it isn’t, vote them out the next time. If Congress doesn’t grow a conscience to embrace this, then the President should do what he can without them, and I think he will.

        • cyrano1 says:

          I hope “something” happens this time. I’m old, have been active on this issue for decades, and want to see a break-through before I die.

          I agree with you completely about taking to the streets. It worked for us in getting civil rights legislation/getting out of Vietnam. Just hope enough of us care about gun violence here to do it again.

          • Kalima says:

            I hope so too and have a feeling something will this time with President Obama at the helm. If not now, when?

            Since the Sandy Hook massacre, over a thousand people have died, it’s just too much, and in 1989 in Stockton CA, there was the school shooting which claimed the lives of five children between the ages of 6 and 9; Pappy Bush enacted the ban on semi-automatic rifles. The weapon of choice then was a semi-automatic rifle so this is not new and has been going on for decades. After what happened in CT, there are no more excuses not to get things done, and anyone standing in the way are enabling the mass shootings of the future, they might want to think about that in betwwen their screeching and calls for impeachment of the president. In fact much of what he is proposing is already a law, the problem is that it hasn’t been enforced as it should have been in too many states.

            If NY can do it, why can;t everyone else?

    • JMBrodie says:

      Thank you, Kalima; and thank you for that fascinating article on Japan’s gun laws. I would welcome it if our country moved closer to that kind of regulation. There are too many guns — and too many attack-type guns — on our streets in in rural communities. Something must be done to address this gun culture of ours.

      And you are correct: Americans would lose their minds over laws like these.

      • Kalima says:

        Hi JMBrodie, that gun control regulation has been allowed to get this bad just for profit is really sickening, and that many in Congress were the ones who profited, even more so.

        I hope something positive gets done for all of you, and for the many friends I’ve made over the decades there, that they, their children and their grandchildren will hopefully be that much safer from the carnage that is now so shamefully familiar in the U.S.

        That a private citizen needs an assault weapon is one of the most ridiculous arguments I think that I’ve ever heard. There is no one who could reasonably explain the need for these weapons of war in your streets. No one.

        • choicelady says:

          Hi Kalima-

          One category of citizen MAY need guns: those who are in the cross hairs of the rightwing extremists. Doctors who offer women reproductive health care are packing. I believe (though I don’t know for sure) that at least at one time Morris Deese of Southern Poverty Law Center kept a rifle at home. I have several friends who have riled the Right who have hand guns.

          I don’t blame them at all.

          And there is not one among them who does not wish it were not so. But there is not one among them who is unaware of their own risk and wanting SOME kind of protection for themselves and the people around them.

          That is what our lax laws have gotten us -- some people who would NOT have guns now feel they have no other option. How stupid is that.

          • Kalima says:

            Hi cl, yes I have read your comments here about friends you have lost and also the threats to yourself, and I understand why people who face a real threat would want to protect themselves and have nothing against that, but it seems so sad to me to have to live your lives that way.

            I watched the documentary on Dr. Tiller in 2010, and was horrified that people have to live in constant fear of the extremist nuts. As far as I’m concerned there is no difference between these people and foreign terrorist, they are domestic terrorist, and that is very scary. Still, owning a gun for protection is different from being able to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle either with or without the proper background check is ludicrous in my opinion because the average citizen doesn’t need them for hunting. If they want to feel like “big guys”, maybe they should only be available to use at practice ranges as property of the business and provided there to use. When they leave, they leave their rifles there too.

          • SallyT says:

            CL, no problem with anyone thinking they are sneaking up on me! My guys are very alert and the barks alone will back you up. People are always wanting to pet them and they do love attention. When someone asks me if they are friendly, my answer is: “Yes, unless I scream.”
            And, the answer I get back is: “Please don’t scream.”
            Sorry that the Funnies haven’t been published. I guess they are to involved with the Super Bowl. Maybe they will get to them later or they might have to be the Monday Funnies…….? They are there when they get to them. I’ll be watching for you comment!

            • Kalima says:

              You are welcome Sally.

            • SallyT says:

              No problem, Kalima, I’m sure everything is fine. Thank you for posting!!

            • Kalima says:

              Sally, so sorry about that, I’ve just published it for you without really checking. If there is something you wanted to change, please let me know.

              Sorry to have kept everyone waiting 😳 I was busy this morning.

          • SallyT says:

            CL, I understand the need for a gun for the people in the situations you named. They are targets for the irrationals. But, I don’t think even they think they need military style weapons for protection. It does make you stop and think, with all the guns out there, do I need one, too? Right now I will stick with two very large dogs but I do wonder if I should consider the other type of protection.

            • choicelady says:

              Sigh. Is it not bizarre we’re even HAVING this conversation?

              I think the dogs are the best protection. Obviously not in all situations, but in most. Despite my “little followers” over the years, I’ve opted NOT to have guns. Even one.

              My parents had a wonderful dog, a Belgian shepherd, who was their best defense, not that they really needed it. Outside of the fact he needed constant companionship, he was so careful with them that when he lost his hearing, he lay in front of the door watching the side window light for shadows so he’d always be prepared. Of course anyone walking BEHIND him cast a shadow, too, so he spent a long time protecting us from us. But his heart was in the right place.

              I cannot bring myself to get a gun. I am totally with my friends who have them under these circumstances, but I’m not there.


  6. SallyT says:

    JMBrodie, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this serious issue of gun control. Another matter that does not get any highlight news coverage is the suicides by guns. If someone takes out their whole family and themselves, that will get coverage. But, the lone, lonesome, misunderstood, with no way out in their mind but to put a gun to it, that is not covered.
    Suicide is still the leading cause of firearm death in the U.S. More than half of all suicides in the U.S. are committed with firearms. In 2009, a total of 800 young Americans ages 10-19 committed suicide with firearms. Unlike suicide attempts using other methods, suicide attempts with guns are nearly always fatal, meaning a temporarily depressed teenager will never get a second chance at life. Nearly two-thirds of all teenage suicides involve a firearm. Homes with guns are 5 times more likely to experience the suicide of a household member than homes without guns. 48% of gun-owning households with children do NOT regularly make sure that guns are equipped with child safety locks or other trigger locks.
    If you have had a family member take their life with a gun, you don’t see them thinking more guns is the answer.
    Thank you again, JMBrodie, for your article.

    • AdLib says:

      Sally, add to that the epidemic of suicides our returning soldiers are committing.

      I get so upset over the murder suicides, almost all that I’ve ever heard of are by the use of a gun.

      And the mental health issue is just as connected to suicides as it is murderers. Mental health does need to be addressed, we’ve gone decades after Reagan sent the mentally ill out of clinics and onto the streets, it’s high time to focus on that again…and the ACA should help on that count if the will is there.

    • JMBrodie says:

      Thank you, Sally.

      I, too, understand, and feel, the issue of gun suicide. Feb. 10 will mark the one-year anniversary of my sister’s death by suicide. She shot herself at sunrise on her birthday.

      I find that I can no longer look at guns without shuddering…

  7. kesmarn says:

    Well said, J M Brodie! My hope is that we’re now approaching the sort of “critical mass” level that was achieved by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. They managed to move drunk driving out of the “boys will be boys” semi-humorous category and into the realm of serious crime where it belongs.

    I think that one of the things that makes gun fanatics so crazy at the prospect of regulation is that they see this as a part of the larger trend of taking away their “freedoms.” Unfortunately for too many of them the list of “freedoms” they’re actually seeing slipping away include things like the “freedom” to slap their wives, beat their children, skip out on child support, and intimidate minority people. Even 20 years ago it was easier to get away with those things. But technology to track people and rising levels of public awareness have changed a lot — even for good ole boys who have connections in the sheriff’s department.

    For them freedom means doing as they please regardless of who is hurt by it. If they think that’s what the founding fathers intended they’re even dumber than the Tea Party photos would lead people to think.

    • cyrano1 says:

      Well put! And those same idiots who are out there shrieking at their legislators about protecting their “freedoms” under the umbrella of the NRA and Ruger. We need to outshout, out reason, and outlast them.

      • kesmarn says:

        Thank you, cyrano. I like your last sentence especially. The “out reasoning” part should be the easiest of the three, don’t you think?

        • cyrano1 says:

          “out reason” is a piece of cake when trying to talk to those who have “reason”. Not so sure about some of those GOP/NRA bought off legislators though. Some of them are firmly lodged in the loony category themselves, yes?

    • AdLib says:

      Agreed, Kes. This childlike mantra of “My freedom!” has run its course. People buying military assault weapons is not “freedom”, it’s “insanity”.

      One could extrapolate this “freedom” argument to justify all kinds of horrible things inflicted on other people, just so one person can have that “freedom”.

      Freedom is given to a population, not particular individuals whose freedoms come first over others. When one’s desires conflict with another’s to the point of endangering them, that is oppression, not freedom.

    • JMBrodie says:

      Well said. We are witnessing a changing of the guard. And the old guard is not happy.

  8. agrippa says:

    I doubt if Congress is going to pass very much of anything; perhaos something about ‘assault weapons’ or background checks will be passed.

    There is a lot of fear based rhetoric being put out by the NRA and other organizations. Most of it makes very little sense. I expect that it is not supposed to make sense.

    • AdLib says:

      Agrippa, as it was with fighting the tobacco industry, it’s one small step after another…until things really turn around. If we can get assault weapons banned, magazines limited and universal background checks as a first step (and with a Repub House!), it will be a good start.

  9. cyrano1 says:

    To my knowledge, the last real mass effort to enact sensible regulations to reduce the level of gun violence in this country was during the summer of 2000. I joined with so many others in the “Million Mom March”. Without support from the media, we failed to keep the momentum going.

    Since that time, taking the average of 30,000 deaths due to gun violence per year, another 360,000 people have died due to gun related deaths. As you say, “Unknown. Faceless. Statistics.”

    The “spectaculars” have again re-awakened us, and we’re again looking at our own entire shameful history as a gun-violent nation -- and instead of the momentum dying, most of us now see the wind at our backs.

    Main Street Media is finally, to a greater extent, doing its job by entering the debate and reporting developments instead of following the usual corporate decisions to bury it and sidetrack us with other “issues”. Even Fox keeps it alive by daily “informing” its audience that the whole gun control effort is a socialist plot hatched by the scary black guy who somehow got control of the oval office.

    Our real battle will be in the Senate. Since public opinion in our entire country is now almost 100% in favor of reforms (universal background checks, finding the means to stop illegal sales/transfers, and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable), those who live in the RED states need to get off their butts and demand reform. We can’t do it without a unified front and sustained pressure from everyone who cares.

    We’ve recently watched the “Million Mom March” people merge with the “Brady Campaign” which is merging with the Mark Kelly/Gabby Giffords “Americans for Responsible Solutions” which merges with “Mayors Against Illegal Guns”, etc … Good signs for the unified front we will need to achieve federal level legislation.

    Our long overdue civil rights legislation was brought about by our finally joining together behind Martin Luther King in a massive sustained movement. As a result we ended up with federal level civil rights/voting rights legislation which has continued to be built upon and made stronger.

    • AdLib says:

      Cyrano, well said and I think you’re right. The injustice of the gun lobby supporting the ongoing murders of innocent Americans just to bolster their profits has become quite visible and offensive to most Americans.

      This is a civil rights issue, our Declaration of Independence states that Americans have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that right is infringed upon by the abuse of the 2nd Amendment.

      I haven’t heard anyone saying that all guns should be outlawed, no one is calling for tearing up the 2nd Amendment but the gun nuts who insist that it means they can own any military weapons they want are dead wrong.

      SCOTUS rulings basically say that people have the right to a handgun for self-protection but that the government has every right to regulate guns…as the 2nd Amendment states.

      Funny how these gun nuts howl about the need to respect the 2nd Amendment but piss all over its preface and true meaning:

      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.

      It flat out explains that the right to keep and bear arms flows from having a well regulated militia. Not to fight the government, not to protect oneself from all the phantom killers we fear may attack us but to support and protect the US as a militia.

      How these loons were ever allowed to use the Jedi mind trick on America and convince them not to see and comprehend the whole sentence, just the last 14 words of it, is beyond me.

      • cyrano1 says:

        So true! But watching a few minutes of Fox “News” or eavesdropping on the flaming comments in their gun-rights blogs reminds us that their crowd mentality permits them free rein in collectively buying into their own dim-witted self-delusional “interpretations” in what our founding fathers intended -- and fired up enough to threaten to take us all out when (not if) there’s a “showdown”. These people are nuts!

  10. AdLib says:

    One need look no farther than EVERY argument the gun nut lobby and their politicians are making to block this current gun control push…every single argument is fear-based.

    Our government could become totalitarian so we need guns! Women need to protect themselves and their families from swarms of intruders breaking into their homes so they need guns!

    A mass killer may show up at a school, a movie theater, even a church so we teachers, moviegoers and churchgoers need to carry guns!

    A natural disaster could overwhelm police and authorities while havoc takes place, madmen could be running through the streets with no one to protect us so we need to carry guns!

    Not one rational or realistic argument for why we need assault weapons and 100 round clips in the hands of citizens.

    And 90% of Americans want more sensible gun control laws including universal background checks.

    The manipulation and dishonesty of the gun nuts is so obvious, how they only have the irrationality of fear to support their attempts to block laws that would protect the public and maybe reduce the profits of their true backers, the gun manufacturers.

    There are only 4 million NRA members and most of them support sensible gun laws. So how can we let this phony lobby group of greedy corporate sociopaths who fight for more deaths of innocent Americans in order to give them greater profits, win?

    We can’t.

    • JMBrodie says:

      Well said, my friend. It is part of some Old West/Cowboy mentality — one that, frankly, seems quite un American to me. We want guns so we can fight… who? Each other?

      • AdLib says:

        JMBrodie, the Republicans and their corporate bosses use such fantasies to delude the less educated to manipulate them into doing their dirty work for them.

        The whole Romney campaign was surrounded by this myth of going back to the 1950’s and everyone in America living simple, happy lives…as if that’s how the 1950’s were.

        And the Confederate and Cowboy mentalities, taking pride in violent, hateful bloodthirsty eras and seeing them as romantic times in America.

        These people never think for a moment that instead of times being better back then because if there was a bad guy in your town, you could just shoot him…that they may be seen by someone as the bad guy in town and someone might want to shoot them.

        I do think that the NRA has jumped the shark with their response to Sandy Hook, they look like sociopaths. They can be broken just as the cigarette lobby was and now sure looks like the time.

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