Irresponsible Gun Owners of America: Special Edition

Normally when I write one of these entries, I highlight multiples cases of reckless, haphazard, and outright dangerous examples of people wielding firearms. From playing with guns while intoxicated to people being irresponsible in their handling of guns in a public setting to instances of recklessness such as leaving a loaded gun in reach of a child, there are innumerable cases that demonstrate the lack of responsibility on the part of many people in this country. People who probably think of themselves as “responsible gun owners”.

Untrained or poorly trained civilians are not the only ones who demonstrate insufficient care in the handling of firearms though.  There are times when law enforcement officials themselves–people who go through ongoing, rigorous training in the handling of firearms–demonstrate their lack of care. One particularly egregious example of this happened yesterday:  a reserve police officer who is also a teacher at Seaside High School in California, recklessly handled a gun, resulting in a student being injured…

During a presentation on gun safety!

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Irresponsible Gun Owners of America: Special Edition

Move over “thoughts & prayers”, there’s a new solution to school shootings in town

In everyday conversation, I’ve almost completely stopped using intelligence referencing ableist slurs. I think I’ve slipped up once or twice here or there, but overall it’s one of those things where I catch myself before I (as an example) refer to someone as stu*id.  It’s important to me to not use such language for two reasons:

  1.  To characterize someone as stu*id, idiot*c, or r*tarded based on their behavior or something they’ve said is to attribute the words or deeds to a lack of intelligence.  Pretty much no one is capable of making snap assessments of the intelligence of others, so right there is reason enough to stop using these slurs as they impugn the intellect of their target. Moreover, using such language is inaccurate.  For example, there’s a YouTube vlogger who records himself eating some of the hottest peppers out there. During a super slow period one day last week, I had a guest show me one of the videos.  Some people look at the dude and think “He’s fucking stu*id for eating those peppers”.  I posit that it has little, if anything to do with his intelligence.  In fact, it looks to me like he’s a dude who knows that there is an audience for outlandish, outrageous, and even potentially dangerous behavior. I suspect he’s doing it for the hits and/or the attention (no idea if he makes money off his videos, but if he does, that fits with my theory). What he’s not doing is eating these ridiculously hot peppers bc he lacks intelligence. “Foolish”, “Outlandish”, “Bizarre”, “Potentially Hazardous”…these are all words that better (and more precisely) describe the actions of hot pepper eating YouTube guy.
  2. Splash damage is a real thing and its worth avoiding the use of language that causes it. In the context of ableist language, splash damage is caused to unintended parties through the use of ableist slurs.  As mentioned in #1, to call POTUS45 an idi*t bc he wants to build a border wall is imprecise (ignorant, laughable, or absurd are terms that more accurately describe him), and of course we can’t assess his intelligence based on his support for that inane wall.  But using an ableist slur to describe him is metaphorically throwing a wide net. To call him an idi*t is draws an implicit connection between his idea (the wall) and the speakers’ assessment of his intelligence.  Basically, it’s saying “you came up with this horribly racist idea bc you’re not smart”.  Chitler is not the only one affected by the slur bc there are people who have lower than average intelligence as a result of cognitive impairments or deficiencies. These are people who are already treated horribly by society and face stigma and discrimination bc of their cognitive disabilities. We shouldn’t compound that by implicitly claiming that harmful or bigoted ideas are the result of cognitive impairment.

Like I said, for the most part, I’ve eliminated such words from my everyday use. There are times, however, when I read something that is just so mind-boggling that

Photo of the gubernatorial hopeful inside a garage, decked out in a black shirt that reads
Someone needs to tell him what a bottom is…

out of sheer reflex, certain terms spring to mind (although that’s where they stay). Maine gubernatorial hopeful Shawn Moody recently uttered some words that had me reflexively grasping for some of those old, abandoned slurs.  He thinks teachers should use fire extinguishers to stop school shooters (yes, you read that right):

Continue reading “Move over “thoughts & prayers”, there’s a new solution to school shootings in town”

Move over “thoughts & prayers”, there’s a new solution to school shootings in town

Mental illness is not the cause of gun violence

The last thing I remember reading about before I went to sleep Sunday night (early Monday, technically) was the headline of a USA Today article about police officers responding to reports of an active shooter in Las Vegas.  I hoped then that the shooter would either kill himself (in the United States, mass shooters are invariably men) or be killed before wounding anyone.  I awoke Monday morning to find that the shooter–Stephen Paddock–had killed over 50 people and injured more than 400 (before killing himself) in the greatest mass shooting in modern United States history.  Throughout the course of my workday, I was able to keep an eye on the news (we had it on one tv and it was slow for a while) and saw the number of casualties rise to 59 dead and 527 injured. Country music artist Jason Aldean had just taken the stage for day 3 of the Route 91 music festival when the shooting began.  An estimated 22,000 concertgoers were in the crowd when the shooting began, which maximized the number of people Paddock could kill.

As with the 272 previous mass shootings this year, there are many questions about the killer and his motives. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, authorities will likely uncover some answers (though not all, since Paddock killed himself). For many people, one of the most important questions–“Why did this happen?”–has an easy answer. One that is apparent even before the dust has settled.   It will surprise few people to learn that once again, mental illness is blamed for gun violence.

Continue reading “Mental illness is not the cause of gun violence”

Mental illness is not the cause of gun violence

Irresponsible Gun Owners of America 2.6.17

On a regular basis, individuals across the U.S. demonstrate that they are not responsible


gun owners. Oh, they may have passed a background check (or not, bc there are flaws in the federal background check requirement) and obtained a license and/or a permit, but have they demonstrated-prior to owning a gun-that they aren’t an aggressive individual with a hair-trigger temper? Have they shown knowledge of how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence? Do they know how to properly clean a gun or that firearms and alcohol are a bad mix? Do they know how to correctly store a gun (especially in a home with children)? Sadly, a great many people don’t (or if they do, they disregard this knowledge). And those that don’t should never be allowed to own firearms bc they are irresponsible. Here are five examples of irresponsible gun owners: Continue reading “Irresponsible Gun Owners of America 2.6.17”

Irresponsible Gun Owners of America 2.6.17

Happy Thanksgiving, here’s another incident of gun violence

Image of a gun covered in various firearm statistics.

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, which means millions of people will carve turkeys and hams, eat mac n cheese and yams, moan and groan that they ate too much while going back for seconds (or thirds–don’t judge me), and spend entirely too long washing dishes (I think we used damn near every pot and pan in the kitchen).

Unfortunately, while many of us are filling our bellies with lavish Thanksgiving Day dinners, some people will never get to celebrate this holiday again, thanks to a horrific incident of gun violence at the Juice Bowl:

Continue reading “Happy Thanksgiving, here’s another incident of gun violence”

Happy Thanksgiving, here’s another incident of gun violence

Irresponsible Gun Owners of America 6.27.16

The United States is saturated with guns. We have a population of more than 300 million and there are nearly enough guns in this country for every child, woman, and man. Thankfully out of that 300 million, only a minority own guns (source). Unfortunately, among

images (1)
that minority exists a number of people who are irresponsible gun owners. Whether its improperly cleaning a gun, carrying a gun into a bar, shooting someone’s pet out of anger, shooting a spouse because they don’t perform housework, or shooting someone because your religious beliefs prohibit the consumption of clamato juice, many gun owners demonstrate a lack of responsible handling of firearms. Here are five recent examples:

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Irresponsible Gun Owners of America 6.27.16

Terrorism in San Bernardino

It hasn’t even been a week.

Five days after a misogynistic, anti-choice terrorist shot and killed 3 people and injured 9 more at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, another mass shooting happened today. In San Bernardino, California. At Inland Regional Center-a center that serves more than 30,000 people with developmental disabilities (as well as their families)-three heavily armed terrorists shot and killed 14 people and injured 18. According to authorities, the gunmen looked to be on a mission.  They came to the center during a banquet on a mission to commit an act of domestic terrorism-one of the deadliest we’ve had in the United States since the Newtown school massacre in 2012 (yes, we have that here in the United States and it’s a significantly greater threat to the citizens of this country than Islamic extremists).

And it has been less than a week. Sigh.

After the initial shooting, the attackers fled, beginning a manhunt that lasted several hours and ending in a firefight with the police. Two of the three suspects were shot and killed. The third suspect is in custody. All of them had assault rifles and handguns and wore ‘assault-style’ clothes. It is too early to know the motives of the terrorists, but I suspect we’ll find out in the days and weeks ahead.

One thing I do know is that incidents like this Just. Keep. Happening. and as of this writing, we’ve had 355 mass shootings this year and it’s only day #336. On average, we’ve had more than one mass shooting per day this year.

Continue reading “Terrorism in San Bernardino”

Terrorism in San Bernardino

Irresponsible Gun Owner Link Round-Up 6.12.15

The United States is saturated with guns. We have a population of more than 300 million and there are nearly enough guns in this country for every child, woman, and man. Thankfully out of that 300 million, only a minority own guns (source). Unfortunately, among that minority exists a number of people who are irresponsible gun owners. Whether its improperly cleaning a gun, carrying a gun into a bar, shooting someone’s pet out of anger, shooting a spouse because they don’t perform housework, or shooting someone because your religious beliefs prohibit the consumption of clamato juice, many gun owners demonstrate a lack of responsible handling of firearms. Here are five recent examples:

Continue reading “Irresponsible Gun Owner Link Round-Up 6.12.15”

Irresponsible Gun Owner Link Round-Up 6.12.15

Irresponsible Gun Owner Link Round-Up 5.14.15

The United States is saturated with guns. We have a population of more than 300 million and there are nearly enough guns in this country for every child, woman, and man. Thankfully out of that 300 million, only a minority own guns (source). Unfortunately, among that minority exists a number of people who are irresponsible gun owners. Whether its improperly cleaning a gun, carrying a gun into a bar, shooting someone’s pet out of anger, shooting a spouse because they don’t perform housework, or shooting someone because your religious beliefs prohibit the consumption of clamato juice, many gun owners demonstrate a lack of responsible handling of firearms. Here are five recent examples:

Here is yet another case of a gun owner handling his firearm irresponsibly and causing the death of another person. This time it is 36-year-old Ronnie Howard of Macon, GA. His gun discharged while he was improperly cleaning it, resulting in the death of a 17-month-old baby:

A Macon man who’s in jail following the shooting death Thursday of a 17-month-old baby boy in west Bibb County is now facing 2nd degree murder.

Ronnie Howard, 36, was originally charged with reckless conduct and second degree cruelty to children. The reckless conduct charge was upgraded to murder Friday afternoon in the shooting death of Victor Carroll, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

Howard is the boyfriend of Brooke Carroll, the baby’s mother. Howard was cleaning a gun when it discharged hitting the baby in the face, a sheriff’s office news release states.

The couple drove the child to the Medical Center, Navicent Health where he was later pronounced dead.

Part of gun ownership should be mandatory classes on the proper way to clean a firearm. You’d think this would be common sense, but apparently some people don’t realize you should ensure the gun is unloaded before cleaning it. I’m not a gun owner (I loathe the damn things), and even I know that.

* * * *

The next story also involves a young victim of gun violence (thankfully the child is still alive)-a 2-year-old boy in Arizona who found his father’s loaded gun and accidentally shot himself in the face:

The firearm “was rolled up like a pillow,” in the master bedroom where the child was playing while his grandmother watched television and his aunt washed dishes, according to police.

The boy fired one round that struck him in the face and exited through his head, said Sergeant Shari Howard, a Peoria Police Department spokeswoman.

“All I can say is that he is very lucky to be alive right now,” said Howard, adding that part of the child’s skull was removed to alleviate swelling caused by the bullet.

The toddler was taken by ambulance to a local children’s hospital late on Thursday, near his home west of Phoenix. Detectives said his 7-year-old brother was also inside the home, and that the father was at work.

In a frantic 911 call released by police on Friday, the aunt told an emergency dispatcher she was in the kitchen when the weapon discharged.

“My baby nephew got shot in the face with a gun,” she said.

I’ve heard of (and read) many stories of parents who buy a gun to protect their family. Sadly, so many of them are unaware that the presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of a firearm homicide (and firearm suicide):

Data from a US mortality follow-back survey were analyzed to determine whether having a firearm in the home increases the risk of a violent death in the home and whether risk varies by storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home. Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6). Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.

* * * *

In yet another story of a child finding a gun, an abandoned and loaded Glock was found by a youngster in Sen. John Boehner’s Capitol suite bathroom:

A child reportedly found a loaded Glock handgun in the bathroom suite of Republican House Speaker John Boehner in what is just the latest of a string of Capitol security missteps, Roll Call’s Hannah Hess reports.

But this is not an isolated incident. In January, a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s security detail left a loaded gun wedged into the seat-cover dispenser in a Capitol Visitor Center bathroom. And in April, a janitor found a loaded Glock in plain sight while cleaning the Capitol Police headquarters.

Lieutenant Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, told Roll Call in an email that “[t]he Department takes very seriously all breaches of Department rules and has established policies that address such matters…Depending on the nature and seriousness of the violation, an employee’s record, and other ‎required considerations, an appropriate penalty is applied, up to and including termination of employment.”

However, it is impossible to know how often such incidents have occurred, or how many security personnel have been punished for them, since the Capitol Police are not required to disclose such incidents to the public. Also unknown is how much Rep. Boehner or Sen. McConnell knew about these incidents, as spokespeople for both Republican leaders did not comment.

* * * *

Sometimes irresponsible gun owners harm themselves, rather than others. That doesn’t make them any less responsible, as this story out of South Bend, IN makes clear:

Police said an Elkhart man shot himself through the groin while trying to put a handgun in his waistband Tuesday afternoon in South Bend.

The 36-year-old man was visiting a home in the 300 block of Ewing Street about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday. As he stood up and tried to put the gun in his waistband, it accidentally discharged, said Capt. Phil Trent, a South Bend police spokesman.

The bullet entered the man’s abdomen, exited through his groin and entered again in the left knee, Trent said. When police arrived, the man was conscious but bleeding heavily. He was taken to an area hospital and underwent surgery.

Trent said carrying a pistol in the waistband without a holster is always a risky move.

“That’s a really good way to lose your gun and have an accidental discharge and shoot yourself,” he said. “We really always recommend using a holster.”

Here is yet another gun owner who does not know how to properly carry a gun (or worse, he doesn’t care to carry his gun properly). I wonder-do prospective gun owners have to take any tests to ensure they have basic gun safety knowledge?

* * * *

In the intro to this post, I mentioned shooting someone bc your religious beliefs prohibit the consumption of clamato juice. You might be thinking I made that one up.  If so, you’d be wrong:

Family and friends of a Hamilton man shot Saturday morning are hoping to raise enough money to replace the dog killed in his arms and to help with upcoming living expenses.

They all know that Joe Lewis may well owe his life to a pit bull he called Jackson.

“Anyone that knew Jackson knew that he was literally Joe’s best friend,” said Lewis’ brother, Mike.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, the 29-year-old Joe Lewis had just come home after a night working at the Rainbow Bar. Shortly after he arrived at the apartment house on Hamilton’s Second Street, he picked up his dog and carried it outside.

After having a toe removed, Jackson had a cast on one leg and wasn’t getting around very well on his own.

Earlier that night, Lewis had an odd altercation with his neighbor, Monte Hanson, at the Rainbow Bar. Court records said Hanson ordered a “red beer” and became angry after Lewis used Clamato juice instead of tomato juice in the drink.

Hanson was apparently upset over the change because it was contrary to his religion, Judaism, to drink Clamato juice. Court records said he told a neighbor later that he was going to retaliate and kill Lewis.

Your religion prohibits drinking Clamato juice, but apparently it says nothing about attempted murder. You really ought to reexamine your stupid ass beliefs.

Lewis’ brother said Jackson was still in Joe’s arms when bullets began to fly behind the apartment house.

Jackson was hit in the head by the first shot, Mike Lewis said. If the dog had not been there, the bullet likely would have struck Joe Lewis in the head.

Mike Lewis is certain that Jackson saved his brother’s life.

The second shot hit Joe Lewis in the ribs and exited out his back. Fortunately, it didn’t hit any vital organs.

“He’s doing all right now,” Mike Lewis said. “He’s just in a lot of pain is all. He’s staying strong. He’s out of the hospital.”

Lewis said his brother is really missing his best friend.

“He’s pretty broken up about his dog,” Lewis said. “Anyone who knows him knows he’s not your average animal guy. He takes his animals very, very seriously.”


With the help of family and friends, Mike Lewis has started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise enough money to buy his brother a new dog and help meet some of the living expenses coming his way.

Joe Lewis cuts wood and tends bar for a living.

Once again, a gun in the hands of an irresponsible individual has brought tragedy to the life of another. Joe Lewis presented no threat to Monte Hanson. He wasn’t endangering the life of anyone. Yet Hanson felt it was within his rights to attempt to end Lewis’ life over religious beliefs. This is an example of one the many problems in the U.S. People feel that others need to respect and honor their religious beliefs. Moreover, many of these people feel that their religious beliefs are more important than the rights of others. While discussions in the media tend to center around marriage equality and the false notion that same-sex marriage affects the religious beliefs of others, this story is a reminder that people use their religion to justify other awful actions. Religious beliefs have been elevated to such an absurd degree that they’ve become more important than actual human persons. When that happens, the result is so often human suffering. I don’t have an issue with people holding beliefs that stem from a religion. I might (and do) think such beliefs are silly and contradict reality, but if you keep those beliefs to yourself, then hey, no harm no foul. But when you try to craft legislation around your beliefs, or you expect others to follow the tenets of your religion, or when you act in some way that harms others and use your religion as justification- then I have a problem.

Irresponsible Gun Owner Link Round-Up 5.14.15

The perfect illustration of an irresponsible gun owner

Washington woman says she was ‘well within her rights’ to shoot at her husband for not doing chores

KOMO reported that the husband told 911 dispatchers on Saturday night that his wife, Starlene Roth, had fired a shot at him.

When police contacted the man, he told them that he had recently been discharged from the hospital for hepatitis, and his wife became angry because “he hadn’t been able to do anything around the house.”

According to the man’s story, the wife threw a vase at him on Saturday night, and then pushed over their barbeque as he was cleaning up the glass. When he picked up the barbeque, she pushed it over again, he said.

The man told police that he was inside the home when his wife retrieved a Smith & Wesson 9 MM pistol from the bedroom.

“Get the (expletive) out of the house,” the man recalled Roth saying.

Roth then fired a single shot at her husband, police said.

Police spoke to Roth and she admitted that she “blew up” at her husband, and that her anger was “too far gone to resist” using the gun. She said that she “wanted him to pay.”

Court documents said that Roth “doesn’t think she did anything wrong and she was well within her rights because of how (her husband) was reacting and she was so pissed off.”

This is the perfect example of an irresponsible gun owner. She appears to lack the maturity to handle a deadly weapon responsibly if she thinks it is fine to terrorize her husband for not doing housework. In my opinion, firearms ought to be utilized in a very limited number of situations. In self-defense, obviously. In direct defense of the lives of others (including during wartime). I do not think people should face the prospect of losing their life or incurring serious injury over property, so I’m not a fan of using a gun to protect one’s property. Property can be replaced, but a human life cannot. I also do not think firearms are necessary in today’s world for putting dinner on the table, and I’m opposed to the needless slaughter of animals for sport. Basically, I think guns should only be used to save one’s life or the lives of others. So no, they shouldn’t be used to threaten and intimidate one’s spouse bc they didn’t do housework.

This story also highlights another problem in the U.S.-the tendency of many to resort to violence as a means of conflict resolution (which is itself part of the larger problem of USAmerica’s culture of violence). Personally, I deplore violence and I would like to see a significant reduction in all forms of violence across the world (I don’t believe violence will ever be eliminated, sadly). This is because I value my life and wish it to continue. Sounds selfish I know, but bear with me. In the wake of World War II, a set of universal human rights was codified by the United Nations. Among those rights is the right to life:

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

For this right to have any meaning, it must apply to all human beings (though ‘human beings‘ implies all biological humans, it likely refers to all autonomous human persons, rather than say, fetuses). If only some humans enjoy this right, then it either isn’t universal, or some people aren’t humans (and we know what happens when people aren’t considered human beings).  So it has to be all or nothing. I value my life, and want to continue having the right to life. To continue enjoying this right, I must support the right to life for all other human beings (and I do). Given the life-threatening nature of violence against humans, it stands to reason that I should oppose violence-and I do (with the understanding that there are circumstances where the use of violence is justified).

Obviously, Starlene Roth doesn’t share my views on violence (or my respect for the lives of others). Her actions point to an inability on her part to resolve a conflict without the use of violence. She has also demonstrated that she cannot wield a firearm responsibly. I think she should be prohibited from owning or possessing a gun until she develops sufficient skill at non-violent conflict resolution, takes anger management classes, and is taught the appropriate use of a firearm. And all of that after she is released from jail.

The perfect illustration of an irresponsible gun owner