Memorial Day Reads: To those who died in Service to our country and democracy

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” – Harry S. Truman

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Today was the day my family picnicked through Kansas and Missouri Cemeteries to decorate the graves of those relatives who died fighting for the Union and also my dad’s Uncle Johnny–his namesake–who died of mustard gas in World War I.  The older I get, the more I miss these old little family rituals.  War may not make much sense but at least we can understand it and have tried to find alternatives to it.  Well, everyone but Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger and Putin and a few other fascists.

Today’s memorial rituals include remembering children slaughtered in schools and grandmothers grocery shopping.  Fighting for democracy here or abroad seems so different from this.  I want to share this fact-checker from The Washington post last week. It debunks all Republican talking points about mental illness, the infamous good guy with a gun, and every other piece of shit lie they take along with their NRA blood money. Presidents should absolutely pay tribute to our war dead.  It’s a damned shame when their other duty is to mourn the loss of someone’s Gramma buying groceries in a store, or an innocent child just going to elementary school, or a group of people at prayer in a church basement or celebrating Shabbat in their synagogue, or people in a movie theatre …

Let me pick some facts for you from the article written by Glenn Kessler.

An upcoming paper for the Justice Department, written by a team led by James Alan Fox of Northeastern UniversityGrant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Michael Rocque of Bates College, attempts to craft a common definition: A mass public shooting is any event in which four or more individuals, not including the assailant(s), were killed by gunfire in a public setting within a 24-hour period. Mass shootings associated with criminal activity are excluded.

Under this definition, there were three or four mass shootings a year through most of the 2010s, but then the number spiked to seven in 2017, 10 in 2018 and eight in 2019, according to the database, provided to the Fact Checker by Duwe.

The team, drawing on the existing databases and supplemental research, found that “the number of mass public shootings has indeed increased over the past four and one-half years, particularly over the past decade. However, even at its peak in 2018, the number of such incidents has not surpassed ten in any year, and often has been much lower.” Moreover, some of the increase can be linked to growth in population. The incident count tripled since the mid-1970s but the rate per 100 million of population increased by a factor of two.

Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, pay their respects to the victims of Saturday’s shooting at a memorial across the street from the Tops Market in Buffalo. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

This is undoubtedly due to the number of men who now have easy access to weapons of war. My state is number one this year for mass shootings and the Republican whackos serving there are also serving up less and less gun control ala Texas.  This is from my university’s national public radio station. “Louisiana leads nation in rate of mass shootings in 2022”.

In the first six months of 2022, Louisiana’s per capita rate of mass shootings has far outpaced any other state and is nearly six times the national average, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

So far this year, Louisiana — which ranks 27th in population size — has experienced 16 mass shootings, trailing only California, 20, and Texas, 21. Louisiana’s mass shooting incidents have left nearly 80 people injured and nine people dead.

The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident “with a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured.” There’s no uniform or official definition of a mass shooting, though many groups use similar parameters as the Gun Violence Archive.

Louisiana’s mass shootings have taken place across the state. In Lafayette, twelve people were injured after a shooting involving multiple suspects and officers. In New Orleans, gunfire directed at a bar on Magazine Street left six injured this past April. Ten people were shot in Bogalusa after a Mardi Gras parade in March. Nearly half of the mass shooting incidents this year have taken place in the state’s major metro areas: Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Both cities have seen a surge in gun violence and homicides this year, following a nationwide trend in spikes of violent crime.

1 dead, 7 injured in a Taft, Oklahoma festival shooting over the Memorial Day Weekend  Creator: Ian Maule | Credit: AP

As you may be aware, I was caught on the edge of two shootings last month by simply crossing the street from my neighbor’s house and walking my dog.  A young woman died in the first one.  She got caught in the crossfire.  This is also from WAPO: “U.S. marks Memorial Day weekend with at least 11 mass shootings. Since the Uvalde, Tex., elementary school tragedy, there have been at least 14 other shootings that had at least four victims”.

At least seven people have been killed and 49 injured in the mass shootings over the holiday weekend, according to GVA and local news sources. Since the Uvalde shooting last Tuesday, at least10 people have been killed and 61 injured in mass shootings.

Brian Stelter, chief media correspondent and news anchor at CNN, interrupted a broadcast Sunday about the response to the mass shooting in Uvalde to tell viewers about another — in Tennessee.

“Mass killings like Buffalo and Uvalde become national news, but many mass shootings do not. They just end up being local stories,” Stelter said, in a clip that has been viewed over 334,000 times on Twitter.

Saturday evening, six teenagers were injured by gunfire in Chattanooga, Tenn., in what Mayor Tim Kelly said was probably “an altercation between other teenagers.”

The victims, in this case, were 13 and 15.

Let’s go back ack to the previous article on gun regulations.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines (LCMs), defined as those that could hold more than 10 rounds. The law — which grandfathered in an estimated 1.5 million assault weapons and 25 million LCMs already owned by Americans — was in place for 10 years until Congress let it lapse.

Even supporters of the law have acknowledged that it was riddled with loopholes, such as allowing copycat weapons to be sold, that limited its effectiveness. Some research, however, suggests the ban became more effective toward the end of the 10-year period because it helped cap and then reduce the supply of assault weapons and LCMs.

Biden claimed that mass shooting deaths tripled after the law expired. He appears to be relying on a study of mass shooting data from 1981 to 2017, published in 2019 in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery by a team led by Charles DiMaggio, a professor of surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. That group found that an assault weapons ban would have prevented 314 out of 448, or 70 percent, of the mass shooting deaths during the years when the ban was not in effect. But the data used in that study has come under attack by some analysts.

Meanwhile, Louis Klarevas, a research professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, studied high-fatality mass shootings (involving six or more people) for his 2016 book “Rampage Nation.” He said that compared with the 10-year period before the ban, the number of gun massacres during the ban period fell by 37 percent and that the number of people dying because of mass shootings fell by 43 percent. But after the ban lapsed in 2004, the numbers in the next 10-year period rose sharply — a 183 percent increase in mass shootings and a 239 percent increase in deaths.

Antonio Basco cries while standing next to the cross for his partner Margie Reckard at the makeshift memorial for the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 5, 2019.

There’s this too from the Kessler article.

Christopher S. Koper, an associate professor of criminology at George Mason University, said in a 2020 study that LCMs enable rapid spray fire that gives shooters the ability to wound higher numbers of victims in public settings. So restrictions on LCMs can have an effect.

“Data on mass shooting incidents suggest these magazine restrictions can potentially reduce mass shooting deaths by 11 percent to 15 percent and total victims shot in these incidents by one quarter, likely as upper bounds,” Koper wrote, adding, “It is reasonable to argue that the federal ban could have prevented some of the recent increase in persons killed and injured in mass shootings had it remained in place.”

Moreover, a number of studies of state-level bans on LCMs, such as by Mark Gius of Quinnipiac University and by Klarevas, indicate that such laws are associated with a significantly lower number of fatalities in mass shootings. Fox co-wrote a 2020 study of state gun laws that concluded that bans on LCMs are associated with 38 percent fewer fatalities and 77 percent fewer nonfatal injuries when a mass shooting occurred.

One final thought from the same article.

That makes it difficult to know when to draw the line, especially because mental illness is not a predictor of violence. “Databases that track gun homicides, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, similarly show that fewer than 5 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness,” noted Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish of Vanderbilt University in a 2016 study. They said that other factors, such as alcohol and drug use, may increase the risk of turning toward violent crime even more. A history of childhood abuse is also considered a predictive risk factor.

Red-flag (“extreme risk”) laws — which generally allow police to take firearms away from people who exhibit concerning behavior — have been passed in 19 states and the District of Columbia, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun-control laws. Between 1999 and 2021, at least 16,857 extreme risk petitions were filed, the group says. Florida, which passed such a law after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, has used it 6,000 times since then.

There are other possibilities like universal background checks discussed.  It’s really a worthwhile read since it basically uses peer-reviewed research by major organizations and universities.

A choir sings to support families in Uvalde.

Here’s some latest news as we find more out about the Robb Elementary school shooting. This is from CNN: “A 9-year-old describes escaping through a window during the Uvalde school massacre as anger mounts over police response.”  Do you remember Uvalde where all the good guys with the guns stood around for nearly an hour or went in to grab their own kids?

As a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and started firing, one student said his wounded teacher texted 911 for help.

Daniel, 9, alongside his mother, Briana Ruiz, told CNN the gunman fired several shots into his classroom after being unable to enter. The door had been locked by his teacher, and the bullets fired struck the teacher as well as a classmate.

The deadly rampage at Robb Elementary marked at least the 30th shooting at a K-12 school in just the first five months of this year. It was the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.Daniel survived by first “hiding under a table next to the wall.” He said he could see the gunman through the door’s window.

“I could still see his face,” the boy said. “I could see him staring at people in front of me.”

The scene at the memorial of the King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado, on April 2, 2021. Ten people died in a mass shooting at the store on March 22, 2021. Courtesy of David Kalish

Why are we like this?  Are we reliving the days of the Wild West and the slaughter of Native Americans as we steal their land?  Are we stuck in the Fugitive Slave Law Days or the Lynchings of Jim Crow?   Are we on some kind of Crusade against everyone who does not worship the select god and manner we’ve been raised with?  All of this is definitely Western History. It’s our history.  Why are we repeating it every time the country makes little progress towards liberty and justice for all?  Well, let me also make this clear.  This royal “we” refers to the men in this country.  It’s rare for a woman to do this.  Remember the NPR article I suggested last week where there are two clusters of men or boys that do this? 

Densley and Peterson said they see two kinds of age clusters of mass shooters: Men in their mid-40s for those who are workplace shooters and school shooters or those involved in other types of mass shootings between the ages of 15 and 24.

Of the 180 instances of mass shootings in the U.S. they’ve studied, they found that there are only two cases where women acted alone.

It’s always men otherwise, Peterson said.

“We know that 18 is this kind of fragile age, this kind of coming of age where people tend to have mental health crises, or they may feel suicidal,” she said.

These shootings are emblematic of that.

The shooters have “the desire to have that pain, and that anger be known to the world, to have us all watch and witness it, to hear their names, to see their pictures, to read what they’ve left behind for us to read. These are public performances meant for us to watch,” she said.

Notably, in many places in the U.S., it’s also the age they can legally buy their weapons of choice.

It’s time to take all these studies seriously and change the gun laws since we obviously can’t change the boys and men.  Europe and Japan know what works.  Most civilized countries know what works.  It’s about not having an Ok Corral atmosphere with a group of testosterone-driven mouth-breathers taking their grievances out on the rest of us.

If they can’t Man Up, then they shouldn’t be able to get to play with grown-up toys.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

12 Comments on “Memorial Day Reads: To those who died in Service to our country and democracy”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Have a nice quiet day! Turn off your TV! Do something that surrounds you, your friends, and the family you love! Be safe! Our community is always here for each other!


    • NW Luna says:

      Yes! I hope everyone can have a calm relaxing day. Stay away from the news for 24 hrs. Cuddle your dog or cat.

    • Enheduanna says:

      Thank you Dak and to BB and JJ, too, for being here for us every day. It’s an enormous comfort.

    • dakinikat says:

      Without a doubt, the Hillary community has all the best people!!!

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank you for the post, Dak. I definitely needed a peaceful day today. I finally found a book that I could lose myself in. It’s a novel about academia–kind of a black comedy–and I don’t want it to end. Such a relief to escape our present day reality.

  2. dakinikat says:

    Prince Charmless is in the news again

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