Another Gun Tragedy, Another Twitter Troll Parade

President Obama is right, this is getting too old. Another mass shooting and still no serious debate in the halls of government to examine the problem, analyze the data and develop Evidence Based Practices to reduce the odds of another mass shooting occurring. The statistics just on gun violence itself are staggering, but sadly ignored in many states and Washington DC.

The number of mass shootings (4 or more dead on average)? Since 2013, over 12 a year compared to 5 a year in 2008.

Number of gun violence deaths a year on average? 32,000.

Number of Congressional Hearings to examine the data and come up with solutions since 2010? Zero.

After each shooting Twitter and social media lights up with those clearly and understandably upset and frustrated that another shooting has occurred. They post their anger, their frustration, their facts, their proposed solutions, etc. And of course, they are met with those who oppose anything that interrupts the status quo. Some are thoughtful and reasoned in their responses, but most are simply trolling. They express sarcasm, harassment, hyperbole, insults, and bogus claims only to be blocked. Once blocked they post how the “Gunsense” crowd don’t want to debate the issues. Happens every time.

Each time there’s a shooting the trolls bring up pretty much the same positions, statements, and memes each and every time. Nothing new ever comes from them. They post and claim, as if this is a trial, that they have “proved their point” oblivious to the fact there’s no rule of evidence, no presiding judge and no jury selection. It doesn’t matter because these are trolls. I’ve always advocated to not engage trolls. They are a waste of bandwidth because they’re not there to provide useful knowledge, not there to sway your opinion, not there to respect you, they’re there to harass you. Just block or mute them and keep on tweeting your views.

Now, if you opt to engage with a troll, here are some common sense replies to their arguments:

“We already have enough laws.” “Laws only infringe on law abiding people, criminals won’t abide by any laws.”

Well, there are certainly a large number of diverse laws regarding guns both nationally and locally. However, many of these laws are either weakened when enacted to be ineffective or simply go ignore by elected Sheriffs who refuse to abridge what they see as citizen’s Second Amendment rights. The Sheriff in Oregon is one such official. Further, logically you are not a “criminal” unless you break an enacted and enforced law. If there is no law pertaining to a behavior that disrupts the community, you can’t be legally prosecuted for doing that. We all have the right of due process which means, you have a right to know what law you’re accused of breaking. No law, no crime, no prosecution. To say to protect the rights of “law abiding citizens” by not enacting laws is ludicrous.

We need universal and national standards for gun safety laws to prevent people going from a lax gun control jurisdiction to a strict gun control jurisdiction creating havoc. The only other solution is border walls between the states. This is why Congress needs to discuss this issue and explore what laws work and what don’t then set the standard nationwide. Further, any law enforcement officer not upholding that law without good and valid reason must lose their shield.

“Gun Free Zones must be eliminated because that’s where mass shooters go for easy targets.”

Statistically speaking, no. Nothing bears that statement out. While on the subject, a gun free zone is a place where “unauthorized” possessor of guns are not allowed to bring their guns on site. So guards, local police can have guns there. Examples of gun free zones: Airports, Schools, Government Buildings, Courts, NRA headquarters. Being in a gun free zone doesn’t make you a target. It’s merely an inconvenience to someone who feels the paranoid need to carry wherever they go. Fact is, many are put off by the presence of civilians walking in armed. They have no idea what’s on their minds, what their intentions are. Where are their rights?

“FBI reports show that guns save lives.” “Harvard research is biased against gun owners.” “John Lott has studied this and armed civilians reduce crime.” “Only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

A few things to point out here. FBI crime statistics reports are numbers gathered to give raw data on certain crimes and where they occur. They do not correlate that data into position papers about gun violence itself. It is however data used by researchers to examine crime trends and compare with other variables to determine trends and issues of cause and effect. Statistics isn’t simple math, it’s a study of the numbers, multi-linear regression tables, data samples, standard deviations, etc. etc. None of that are found in FBI Crime reports. Harvard has a large staff of statistical geniuses and years of experience and expertise in analyzing data and including additional data relevant to crime, i.e. social factors to determine cause and effect and risk levels. Their position papers are peer reviewed looking for errors in data collection, model errors, miscalculations etc. John Lott’s work has been reviewed by experts and found to be discredited for using poor sample sizes, relating wrong variables and coming up with unsupported conclusions.

What’s more, there’s more data out there to review that would help Harvard make even better analysis of the issue, but pro-gun representatives in Congress has forbidden the CDC from gathering that data. Wonder why? The research is clear and simple, it’s verified by the numbers, a gun in the house increases the likelihood of someone dying in the house of gun violence 5 times. Most gun violence deaths are between people who know each other, usually as family. Often at work. Armed civilians stopping or preventing mass shootings is statistically zero. In fact, those who have tried usually get shot and are killed. Those are the real facts.

“The Second Amendment” this that or the other thing.

They like to cite the Second, they like to cite Heller as the fact that per the constitution, everyone has a right to a gun (to fightback against a tyrannical government) and Congress can’t restrict that right in any manner or form. First of all, that argument was never even brought up prior to the 1960’s. Prior to that even the NRA agreed that absolute unfettered unrestricted gun ownership was a constitutional right. In those days the NRA support responsible gun ownership and did a great job ensuring that with their membership. Sadly they then became the lobbying arm of gun manufacturers and their mission changed. No, the second was created to ensure we had a well-armed, well trained and well-regulated militia during a time we didn’t have a standing army. Many forget that along with ratifying the second amendment, Congress also passed the Militia Act of 1792 that relied on the Second Amendment. President Washington used it to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Finally, Heller made it clear that “Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” The Heller decision ignored two centuries of legal precedent regarding gun rights, but still stated that even under the Second Amendment, guns and gun rights are subject to regulation. End of story.

“Gunsense is dead, you have no support.” “Gunsense wants to take all the guns away.”

Quite the contrary, latest polling still shows over 80% of the nation supports universal background checks, the core demand of Gunsense. Most members of the NRA support universal background checks. Now as with any movement, there are extremes. True some would like to ban all weapons, but that isn’t the core belief of the movement as a whole. They want Congress to study the problem in an open venue for all to hear and see and develop good plans to stem gun violence. To say that anyone seriously wants to take all the guns away is ridiculous. Over 300 million guns out there, it’s not going to happen. What is being asked for is making it more difficult for people to get a gun to ensure the wrong people aren’t easily getting armed to do harm. Further, some guns simply aren’t needed on our streets and can be banned as per Heller. Majority of the nation want common sense approaches to stem gun violence. That is a fact. As I like to point out, if you are so sure of you position, your data, your facts and your conclusions, you have nothing to fear presenting it to the public in a calm respectful manner to sway others to your position. Yet, the staunch pro-gun activists do all they can to ensure Congress never convenes hearings to discuss “Gunsense.”

I could go on but I’m not saying anything new or anything most of you aren’t already aware of. This debate is ongoing in social media and the streets. The debate goes on everywhere except in the one place it needs to occur, Congress. This is where those who want Gunsense must rise up. We can’t bitch and moan about inaction when we’re only active after a shooting and only on social media. Time to get active and get loud and not to let up one bit until Congress has the hearing this issue and this nation deserves. One way to address this, make Gun Control an issue for the Democratic Primary. Let them debate this. By doing so, the Republicans have to debate it too. Let the nation see who’s on their side and who’s not.