Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Orlando and the assault weapon ban

“Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets.” Gabrielle Giffords, former US Representative from Arizona and survivor of a mass shooting

I'VE BEEN what must seem uncharacteristically silent since (and about) the bloodbath in Orlando.

In addition to expressing heartfelt condolences, I don't know what to say that I haven't already said about the insane availability of guns, especially assault weapons, in the United States. I've blogged about it 37 times.

I was watching national news (as we all were, I'm sure), and the newscaster mentioned that when the BBC covered the Santa Barbara mass shooting in May of 2014, the BBC caster said, "Just another day in the USA."

I had already headlined a Hey Look post (click on the link to read it) with exactly that title four months prior to that.

Paul and I attended a gathering June 14 sponsored by One Iowa and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America called ’Love is Love is Love’: A Gathering to Remember, to mourn the victims and rally for stricter gun laws. Afterwards Paul said, "I'm tired of hearing about peace, love, and unity. I want to know what people are going to DO. I bet if every single person here today called and wrote their senator and congressperson twice a week, every week, we'd get their attention."

One of the speakers was a minister. The sound system was insufficient, so I didn't hear her name, but she identified herself as a lesbian (Lutheran or Methodist) minister. I  applauded her . . . literally . . . for having the courage to say that churches and religious organizations of many faiths and denominations need to accept some degree of culpability for inciting hatred. When someone who is viewed as having moral authority proselytizes about the sinfulness of a particular group of people, painting them as evil and the nature of their love as an abomination, of course it ramps up animus and contempt. How could it do otherwise? That can be the last impetus needed to push an already-angry, unstable individual over the edge to unthinkable acts.

Most of all, though, I blame Congress

Above is a meme that's been making the rounds. (
Actually the Assault Weapon Ban expired September 13, 2004, not 2005.)

Here's a quick overview from Wikipedia. "The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (officially, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act) was a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a United States federal law that included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms it defined as assault weapons, as well as certain ammunition magazines it defined as 'large capacity.'

The ten-year ban was passed by the U.S. Congress on September 13, 1994, and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton the same day. The ban only applied to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment, and it expired on September 13, 2004, in accordance with its sunset provision."

Below is a list I've compiled from Mother Jones and Wikipedia of all the mass killings since the assault weapon ban expired.

December 8, 2004    Damageplan show shooting    Columbus, OH

Nathan Gale, 25, possibly upset about the breakup of Pantera, gunned down former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell and three others at a Damageplan show before a police officer fatally shot Gale.  Racial category: White    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun    5 killed    7 wounded

March 12, 2005     Living Church of God shooting    Brookfield, WI  

Living Church of God member Terry Michael Ratzmann, 44, opened fire at a church meeting at a Sheraton hotel before committing suicide.  Racial category: White    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun       7 killed    4 wounded    

March 21, 2005    Red Lake massacre    Red Lake, MN

Jeffrey Weise, 16, murdered his grandfather, who was a police officer, and his grandfather's girlfriend. Weise then drove his grandfather's squad car to Red Lake Senior High School and opened fire on the reservation campus, killing seven more people before committing suicide.  Racial category: White    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun        10 killed             5 wounded killed

January 30, 2006    Goleta postal shootings    Goleta, CA

Former postal worker Jennifer Sanmarco, 44, shot dead a former neighbor then drove to the mail processing plant where she used to work. Inside, she opened fire, killing seven employees before committing suicide.  Racial category: White  Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun    8 killed    0 wounded

March 25, 2006    Capitol Hill massacre    Seattle, WA

Kyle Aaron Huff, 28, opened fire at a rave afterparty in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle before committing suicide. Racial category: White    Weapons: Two semiautomatic handguns, one rifle (assault), one shotgun     7 killed     2 wounded

October, 2, 2006    Amish school shooting    Lancaster County, PA

Charles Carl Roberts, 32, shot 10 young girls in a one-room schoolhouse in Bart Township, killing 5, before taking his own life.  Racial category: White    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun    6 killed    5 wounded

February 12, 2007    Trolley Square shooting    Salt Lake City, UT 

Sulejman Talović‡, 18, rampaged through the shopping center until he was shot dead by police.  Racial category: White   Weapons: One revolver, one shotgun    6 killed    4 wounded

April 16, 2007    Virginia Tech massacre    Blacksburg, VA 

Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho, 23, opened fire on his school's campus before committing suicide.  Racial category: Asian    Weapons: Two semiautomatic handguns     33 killed    23 wounded

October 7, 2007    Crandon shooting    Crandon, WI 

Off-duty sheriff's deputy Tyler Peterson, 20, opened fire inside an apartment after an argument at a homecoming party. He fled the scene and later committed suicide.  Racial category: White    WeaponsOne rifle (assault)    6 killed       1 wounded

December 5, 2007    Westroads Mall shooting    Omaha, NE

Robert A. Hawkins, 19, opened fire inside Westroads Mall before committing suicide.  Racial category: White   WeaponsOne rifle (assault)    9 killed    4 wounded

February 7, 2008    Kirkwood City Council shooting    Kirkwood, MO

Charles "Cookie" Lee Thornton, 52, went on a rampage at the city hall before being shot and killed by police.  Racial category: Black  WeaponsOne semiautomatic handgun, one revolver    6 killed    2 wounded

February 14, 2008    Northern Illinois University shooting    DeKalb, IL

Steven Kazmierczak, 27, opened fire in a lecture hall, then shot and killed himself before police arrived.  Racial category: White     WeaponsThree semiautomatic handguns, one shotgun    6 killed    21 wounded

June 25, 2008    Atlantis Plastics shooting    Henderson, KY

Disgruntled employee Wesley Higdon, 25, shot up an Atlantis Plastics factory after he was escorted out of his workplace for an argument with a supervisor. Higdon shot the supervisor outside the factory before opening fire on coworkers inside. He then committed suicide.  Racial category: White    WeaponsOne semiautomatic handgun       6 killed             1 wounded 

March 29, 2009    Carthage nursing home shooting    Carthage, NC Robert Stewart, 45, opened fire at a nursing home where his estranged wife worked 

before he was shot and arrested by a police officer.  Racial category: White    WeaponsOne revolver, one shotgun   8 killed    3 wounded

April 3, 2009    Binghamton shootings    Binghamton, NY

Jiverly Wong, 41, opened fire at an American Civic Association center for immigrants before committing suicide. Racial category: Asian    WeaponsTwo semiautomatic handguns    14 killed    4 wounded

November 5, 2009    Fort Hood massacre    Fort Hood, TX

Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, opened fire on an Army base in an attack linked to Islamist extremism. Hasan was injured during the attack and later arrested.  Racial category: Other    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun   13 killed    30 wounded

November 29, 2009    Coffee shop police killings    Parkland, WA

Maurice Clemmons, 37, a felon who was out on bail for child-rape charges, entered a coffee shop on a Sunday morning and shot four police officers who had gone there to use their laptops before their shifts. Clemmons, who was wounded fleeing the scene, was later shot dead by a police officer in Seattle after a two-day manhunt.  Racial category: Black   WeaponsOne semiautomatic handgun     4 killed    1 wounded

August 3, 2010    Hartford Beer Distributor shooting    Manchester, CT

Omar S. Thornton, 34, shot up his Hartford Beer Distributor workplace after facing disciplinary issues, then committed suicide.  Racial category: Black    WeaponsTwo semiautomatic handguns    9 killed    2 wounded

January 8, 2011    Tucson shooting    Tucson, AZ

Jared Loughner, 22, opened fire outside a Safeway during a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) before he was subdued by bystanders and arrested.  Racial category: White    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun    6 killed    13 wounded

September 6, 2011    IHOP shooting    Carson City, NV

Eduardo Sencion, 32, opened fire at an International House of Pancakes restaurant and later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Racial category: Latino    Weapons: Two rifles (both assault), one revolver      5 killed             7 wounded

October 14, 2011    Seal Beach shooting    Seal Beach, CA

Scott Evans Dekraai, 42, opened fire inside a hair salon and was later arrested.  Racial category: White   Weapons: Two semiautomatic handguns, one revolver    8 killed    1 wounded

February 22, 2012    Su Jung Health Sauna shooting    Norcross, GA

Jeong Soo Paek, 59, returned to a Korean spa from which he'd been kicked out after an altercation. He gunned down two of his sisters and their husbands before committing suicide.  Racial category: Asian    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun    5 killed    0 wounded

April 2, 2012    Oikos University killings    Oakland, CA

One L. Goh, 43, a former student, opened fire in a nursing classroom. He fled the scene by car and was arrested nearby a few hours later. Racial category: Asian    Weapons: One semiautomatic handgun    7 killed    3 wounded

May 20, 2012    Seattle cafe shooting    Seattle, WA

Ian Stawicki, 40, gunned down four patrons at a cafe, and another person during a carjacking nearby, then shot himself as police closed in. He died later that day in a Seattle hospital.  Racial category: White    WeaponsTwo semiautomatic handguns    6 killed    1 wounded

July 20, 2012    Aurora theater shooting    Aurora, CO

James Holmes, 24, opened fire in a movie theater during the opening night of "The Dark Night Rises" and was later arrested outside.  Racial category: White    WeaponsTwo semiautomatic handguns, one rifle (assault), one shotgun           12 killed    58 wounded

August 5, 2012    Sikh temple shooting    Oak Creek, WI

U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page, 40, opened fire in a Sikh gurdwara before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot would during a shootout with police.  Racial category: White    WeaponsOne semiautomatic handgun    7 killed         3 wounded

September 27, 2012    Accent Signage Systems shooting    Minneapolis, MN Andrew Engeldinger, 36, upon learning he was being fired, went on a shooting rampage, killing the business owner, three fellow employees, and a UPS driver. He then killed himself.  Racial category: White  WeaponsOne semiautomatic handgun    7 killed     1 wounded

December 14, 2012    Newtown school shooting    Newtown, CT

Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother dead at their home then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary school. He forced his way inside and opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults before committing suicide.  Racial category: White   WeaponsTwo semiautomatic handguns, one rifle (assault), one shotgun (assault)    28 killed    2 wounded

March 13, 2013    Mohawk Valley shootings    Herkimer County, NY 

Kurt Myers, 64, shot six people in neighboring towns, killing two in a barbershop and two at a car care business, before being killed by officers in a shootout after a nearly 19-hour standoff.  Racial category: White   Weapons: Shotgun     5 killed    2 wounded

April 21, 2013    Pinewood Village Apartment shooting    Federal Way, WA 

Dennis Clark III, 27, shot and killed his girlfriend in their shared apartment, and then shot two witnesses in the building's parking lot and a third victim in another apartment, before being killed by police.  Racial category: Black  WeaponsSemiautomatic handgun, shotgun    5 killed    0 wounded

June 7, 2013    Santa Monica rampage    Santa Monica, CA

John Zawahri, 23, armed with a homemade assault rifle and high-capacity magazines, killed his brother and father at home and then headed to Santa Monica College, where he was eventually killed by police.  Racial category: White   WeaponsAssault rifle, high capacity magazines, antique handgun    6 killed    3 wounded

July 26, 2013    Hialeah apartment shooting    Hialeah, FL

Pedro Vargas, 42, set fire to his apartment, killed six people in the complex, and held another two hostages at gunpoint before a SWAT team stormed the building and fatally shot him.  Racial category: Latino    Weapons9mm semi-automatic handgun    7 killed   0 wounded

September, 16, 2013    Washington Navy Yard shooting    Washington, D.C.

Aaron Alexis, 34, a military veteran and contractor from Texas, opened fire in the Navy installation, killing 12 people and wounding 8 before being shot dead by police.  Racial category: Latino    WeaponsSawed-off shotgun, 2 boxes of shells; also a .45-caliber handgun taken from a security guard he shot at the scene    12 killed   8 wounded

February 20, 2014    Alturas tribal shooting    Alturas, CA

Cherie Lash Rhoades, 44, opened fire at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center, killing four and wounding two. After running out of ammunition, Rhoades grabbed a butcher knife and stabbed another person.  Racial category: Native American    WeaponsTwo handguns and a butcher knife    4 killed   2 wounded

April 3, 2014    Fort Hood shooting 2    Fort Hood, TX

Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, 34, opened fire at the Fort Hood Army Post in Texas, killing three and wounding at least 12 others before shooting himself in the head after engaging with military police. Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley told reporters that Lopez "had behavioral health and mental health" issues.  Racial category: Latino    WeaponsHandgun   3 killed 12 wounded

May 23, 2014    Isla Vista mass murder    Santa Barbara, CA

Elliot Rodger, 22, shot three people to death in the college town of Isla Vista near the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also shot others as he drove around town, and injured others by striking them with is vehicle. He committed suicide by shooting himself in his car as police closed in. Prior to the rampage, Rodger stabbed three people to death at his apartment.  Racial category: White    WeaponsThree semi-automatic handguns and two hunting knives   6 killed 13 wounded

October 24, 2015    Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting    Marysville, WA

Jaylen Fryberg, 15, using a .40-caliber Berretta, shot five students at Marysville High School, including two of his cousins and three friends, killing all but one. Fryberg arranged to meet them for lunch in the school cafeteria by text. Fryberg was reportedly well-liked at the school and there was not believed to be any ill-will between him and his victims. He committed suicide at the scene.  Racial category: Native American    WeaponsHandgun   5 killed   1 wounded 

June 11, 2015    Trestle Trail bridge shooting    Menasha, WI

Sergio Valencia del Toro, 27, in what officials say was a random act, shot and killed three people including an 11-year-old girl before turning the gun on himself.  Racial category: Latino    WeaponsTwo handguns     3 killed               1 wounded 

June 17, 2015    Charleston Church Shooting    Charleston, SC

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, shot and killed 9 people after opening fire at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. According to a roommate, he had allegedly been “planning something like that for six months."  Racial category: White    WeaponsHandgun   9 killed    1 wounded

July 16, 2015    Chattanooga military recruitment center    Chattanooga, TN

Kuwaiti-born Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, a naturalized US citizen, opened fire at a Naval reserve center, and then drove to a military recruitment office where he shot and killed four Marines and a Navy service member, and wounded a police officer and another military service member. He was then fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers responding to the attack.  Racial category: Other    WeaponsTwo assault rifles; semiautomatic handgun 5 killed    2 wounded

October 1, 2015    Umpqua Community College shooting    Roseburg, OR

26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer opened fire at Umpqua Community College in southwest Oregon. The gunman shot himself to death after being wounded in a shootout with police.  Racial category: Other    WeaponsFive pistols, one rifle, five magazines of ammunition   9 killed    9 wounded

October 31, 2015    Colorado Springs rampage    Colorado Springs, CO

Noah Harpham, 33, shot three people before dead in Colorado Springs before police killed him in a shootout.  Racial category: White    WeaponsTwo handguns and a rifle   3 killed    0 wounded

November 27, 2015    Planned Parenthood clinic    Colorado Springs, CO

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, shot and killed a police officer and two citizens when he opened fire at a Planned Parenthood health clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Nine others were wounded. Dear was arrested after an hours-long standoff with police. Racial category: White    WeaponsLong gun   3 killed    9 wounded

December 2, 2015    San Bernardino mass shooting    San Bernardino, CA

Syed Rizwan Farook left a Christmas party held at Inland Regional Center, later returning with Tashfeen Malik and the two opened fire, killing 14 and wounding 21, ten critically. The two were later killed by police as they fled in an SUV.  Racial category: Other    WeaponsTwo assault rifles and two semi-automatic pistols were used in the attack. Police found a remote controlled explosive device at the scene of the crime. At the home were 12 pipe bombs, 2,500 rounds for the AR-15 variants, 2,000 rounds for the pistols, and several hundred for a .22 calibre rifle. In the suspects' car were an additional 1,400 rounds for the rifles and 200 for the handguns.   14 killed    21 wounded

February 20, 2016    Kalamazoo shooting spree    Kalamazoo County, MI

Jason B. Dalton, a driver for Uber, apparently selected his victims randomly as he went on a rampage over several hours in three different locations, including five people he shot in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. He was "arrested without incident" at a downtown Kalamazoo bar about six hours after the rampage began.  Racial category: White   WeaponsSemiautomatic handgun   6 killed    2 wounded

February 25, 2016    Excel Industries mass shooting    Hesston, KS

Cedric L. Ford, who worked as a painter at a manufacturing company, shot victims from his car and at his workplace before being killed by police at the scene. Shortly before the rampage he had been served with a restraining order.  Racial category: Black    WeaponsSemiautomatic rifle, semiautomatic handgun   3 killed    14 wounded

June 12, 2016    Orlando nightclub massacre    Orlando, FL

Omar Mateen, 29, attacked the Pulse nighclub in Orlando in the early morning hours of June 12.  Racial category: Other WeaponsSemiautomatic rifle, semiautomatic handgun   49 killed    53 wounded 

Long list, is it not?

So what do these numbers tell us?

Since the The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 expired on September 13, 2004, there have been 411 people killed and 361 wounded in mass shootings, many, if not most, killed by assault weapons — 772 human beings dead or maimed. When you consider the parents, children, husbands, wives, extended families and friends of those 772 individuals, thousands of people's lives have been forever altered and traumatized.

In case you think the ban didn't make a difference, while it was in place there were 96 people killed and 101 wounded for a total of 197.

Ah, but wait. The length of time since the ban expired is longer by two years than the ban, so it's not apples to apples. 

Well then, let's make it apples to apples: In ten years since the ban expired there were 289 people killed in mass shootings and 221 wounded three times the number as there were while the ban was in place and a little more than twice as many wounded.

So yes, the ban made a difference.

Next time: Who is doing the killing and where. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully said. We need to counter the NRA lies and fear with actual facts. This does that perfectly.