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Posts Tagged ‘Taking a Stand on Gun Control’

This morning we woke to the awful news that yet another mass shooting has taken place in America. The Irish Times reported:

“At least 50 people were killed and more than 400 more injured when a 64-year-old gunman with an arsenal of at least 10 rifles fired upon a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday, raining down shots from a 32nd-floor window for several minutes before killing himself.”

Immediately, I turned on the television and reached for my computer to learn more and I was {and still am} angry and saddened by the photos of terrified young people…running…leaping over metal railings…hiding behind cars…and…worst of all, lying on the ground covered with blood…not moving.

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Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

This is the deadliest mass shooting in America and the death toll is not yet final. With 400+ people injured we can only pray that God will spare their precious lives. This atrocity follows, by barely a year, what was previously the largest mass shooting in American history…the attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. And it’s not yet five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed twenty-six people in Newtown, Connecticut.

Today I am left wondering…

* What is happening in America?

* Where is the soul of the legislature?

* How many people have to die before laws are changed?

I have never before blogged about anything like this at In an Irish Home, but I today I feel that I should have. As the mother of two teens, the auntie to many more living in America, an American, and the spouse of an Irish person with multiple siblings living in America, I am terrified to sit quietly and do nothing. I didn’t write when Americans were mass killed in a movie theatre, at school, their local mall, or out for a night of dancing. Why? Because I didn’t see the point. What would my one little voice do to change the landscape?

But, you know what? That’s just it. One little voice…be it within America or outside it…becomes a collective…a wave of outrage that cannot be ignored once it has spoken.

It’s easy to put blame on American lobbyists and groups like the NRA for making America a gun-toting, mass shooting nation. It is far more difficult to place the blame on ourselves.

U.S. groups like Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Violence Policy Center, and the Brady Campaign can’t change the gun laws in America alone.

It is quite possible that America can’t change gun laws on its own…and that is another reason why I’m writing today. This is my protest. I am but a single drop…but when joined with millions of others…I am an ocean. And for the record, the U.S. State Department estimates as many as 3.8 million Americans live abroad…like my own…those voices count too. Let us speak!

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Of course, I can only relate the gun laws of Ireland to the gun laws of America to see the difference. And before you write to tell me I don’t know what I’m writing about, let me just say three things: 1) I’m a Texas girl who learned to shoot handguns and rifles while in college and I enjoyed it; 2) I’m not suggesting Americans should not have guns…just that there should be common sense reforms like background checks, banning sales to those on the federal terror watch, etc.; and 3) I know Ireland isn’t perfect…it has problems…mass gun shootings, thankfully, isn’t one of them. Now, let’s take a look at Ireland’s gun laws as outlined at Gunpolicy.org:

“Ireland has some of the least permissive firearm legislation in Europe. In order to possess a limited range of hunting and sport-shooting firearms,1 gun owners must renew their firearm certificates every three years.2 3 Although small arms-related death, injury and crime remain relatively low, rising rates of gun violence and firearm ownership in the Republic ― in particular the possession and misuse of handguns ― have become sources of national concern.4 In 2009, the private possession of handguns was curtailed. Licensing of all pistols and revolvers using centrefire ammunition was capped through ‘grandfathering,’ with new licences restricted to a limited range of small-calibre .22 rimfire handguns and .177 air pistols.3 5 The possession and use of realistic imitation firearms in a public place is prohibited.6 7 Ireland is an active supporter of the United Nations process to reduce gun injury (UNPoA).8”

The laws surrounding Gun Owner Licensing are thus:

“It is illegal for any civilian to use, carry or possess a firearm or ammunition without a valid firearm certificate which correctly specifies the owner, the weapon, the ammunition and it’s maximum permitted quantity. 48 Certificates are issued by a police Superintendent of the Garda for a maximum of three years. Certificates for restricted firearms are issued by a Chief Superintendent of the Garda and carry the same duration49 50…. Applicants must prove ‘good reason’ for ownership of the firearm applied for, and the Garda must be satisfied that the applicant can be permitted to possess, use and carry the firearms ‘without danger to the public safety of security or the peace.’ If the ‘good reason’ for the firearm possession is target shooting, the owner must belong to a police approved rifle or pistol club. Where application is for a restricted firearm, the applicant must have ‘good and sufficient reason for requiring such a firearm’ and must additionally demonstrate that ‘the firearm is the only type of weapon appropriate for the purpose.’ 53 An applicant must provide proof of identification and age, proof of competence with the firearm concerned, and proof of secure storage for weapons and ammunition while not in use. Potential gun owners must, when making an application for a firearm certificate, give written permission for the police to consult a doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist to confirm the applicant’s good physical and mental health, and must nominate two additional referees to attest to the applicant’s character…Firearm certificates should not be issued to an applicant who: is known to be of ‘intemperate habits’ or of ‘unsound mind’; has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment for certain firearm-related or terrorist offences; is bound to keep the peace or to be of good behaviour. 56 57 …There is no official ‘cooling down’ period between the time of application and any granting of a firearm certificate59….The Criminal Justice Act 2009 states that all certificate applications must be decided upon within 3 months. If 3 months are exceeded, the application must be considered declined. 49”

If you have stayed with me to this point, let’s take a look at the Irish gun death, injury and crime statistics:

Gun Homicide: Of the 84 homicides reported by police in 2007, 18 (21 per cent) involved firearms – eight fewer than the 26 gun homicides in 2006. 29 Although the rate of firearm homicide in Ireland remains comparatively low (0.61 per 100,000 population in 2006, and 0.41 in 2007), 30 31 gun killings have increased markedly since 1991, when the rate was 0.3. from 1995 to 1999 the firearm homicide rate averaged 0.28. 33 34

Gun Suicide: Of the 8,547 suicides recorded in Ireland from 1980-2003, 725 (8.5 per cent) were completed with a firearm. 35  In the years 2001-05, the proportion averaged seven per cent. 36 If the average number of firearm suicides reported in 2001-07 (33 per annum) remained steady during 2008, the annual rate of gun suicide in Ireland that year would be 0.74 per 100,000 population, 36 31 down from 0.94 in 1991. 37 Gun suicide is six times more common in rural areas than in cities, and 94 per cent of victims are male. 38 Although total suicides (all methods) rose in Ireland from 200 per annum in 1980 to nearly 500 in 2003, gun suicides remained relatively static, averaging 31 self-infliced shooting deaths each year over 23 years, with an annual high of 50 and a low of 14. 39

Gun Crime: In the five years from 2001-2005, the Garda reported 1,690 robberies and aggravated burglaries committed with firearms, for an average of 338 per year. A peak year was 2004, with 428 armed robberies and burglaries. 40 In the years 2003-2007, fewer than one in five gun crimes resulted in a conviction. 41 In 2009, the Department of Justice reported a 31 per cent decrease in crime involving discharge of a firearm, while the number of firearm possession cases increased by 8 per cent. 42

And that’s it. The laws in Ireland are stringent. The result is fewer deaths. It’s not rocket science or the luck of the Irish. It is fact.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat, issued a statement today: “Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity. This must stop.” Connecticut was the epicenter of the gun control debate after the Sandy Hook school massacre. Senator Murphy added: “It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

Let’s let today be the day every one of us do something. If you are an American citizen, or an expat with a home in America still, call your representatives in Congress and the Senate and do the following:

  1. Tell them your name and that you’re a constituent.
  2. Tell them you’re outraged at what’s happened today in Las Vegas and you want to see change.
  3. Tell them you will hold them personally accountable for the decisions and actions {or lack thereof} that they make going forward.

Thank you.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* Click here to see how your Senator voted in June 2016 for background checks.

** More things you can do to help END GUN VIOLENCE.

*** Why gun silencers threaten public safety here.

**** 4 Gun Control Arguments We’re Sick of Hearing from Rolling Stones

***** While talking earlier today with my eldest daughter about this issue, she mentioned how using humor to disarm the effective filter of the gun control debate is helpful…especially to young people. Leave it to our amazing kids to find a new way around an adult conversation. Together, we sat down and listened to Australian Jim Jeffries’ routine on gun control, which went viral in 2015. If you’re not easily offended by the F-bomb…watch it here…maybe with the young-ones in your home.

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