Don’t believe everything you hear or read

I received an email tip about this and it sounded just a little too bad to be true. The incident supposedly happened June 2, so I went looking for more recent information and found this:

A story that’s circulating on social media and anti-Muslim and conspiracy-oriented websites is falsely claiming that three young Syrian refugees raped a young girl at knifepoint at an apartment complex in Twin Falls that supposedly is the site where about 50 Syrian refugees had been resettled – when in fact, no Syrian refugees have been resettled to Twin Falls. The story also charges that police failed to respond to the alleged incident in a timely fashion, which local authorities also say is false.

“There was no gang rape, there was no Syrian involvement, there were no Syrian refugees involved, there was no knife used, there was no inactivity by the police,” said Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs. “I’m looking at the Drudge Report headline: ‘Syrian Refugees Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho’ – all false.”

I’ve fallen for this sort of thing before too. It was some outrageous gun related thing.

If something is an extremely close match to your belief system or worst fears you should examine it very carefully. Your mind “wants” to believe it and will easily ignore the warning signs that it is fabricated or exaggerated.

Sometime or another everyone will find, for a short time, they had crap for brains. Clean it out, learn from the experience, and don’t get fooled the next time.

Irony meter, meet peg

A journalist tries to buy a gun. Gets denied. Hilarity ensues.

Short version: He’s doing a story of how easy it is to buy guns (complete with overwrought hyperbole), but he’s got a history of alcohol abuse and a domestic violence charge. Then he’s got the cluelessness to say “didn’t see that coming.”

D’oh! (h/t to Vox)

LGBT-friendly gun trainers

Operation Blazing Sword makes for an impressive display:


It’s a lot more productive than huddling in a group holding candles or something. This is the difference between those who demand people be forcibly disarmed to “make us safe” versus those who offer to teach proven techniques and tools to actually protect innocent life.

The Seattle Times called

About 2:20 this afternoon a reporter from The Seattle Times called me. They explained they found my name on the Pink Pistols website as someone who is LGBTQ friendly and offering firearms training in the Seattle area. I suspect it was this Pink Pistols post which linked to Erin’s Operation Blazing Sword.

Lots of gun people will tell you, with good reason, to NOT talk to the media unless you know they are a known friendly. The debate between talking to him and saying I wasn’t interested in talking bounced around in my mind as I listened further. The Seattle Times has never treated me unfairly. They have been very anti-gun in general, but they have never misrepresented me. I decided to listen and make up my mind after I got an idea of what their angle was.

They wanted to know if I have had an increase in interest in instruction from people in the LBGTQ community since the Orlando shooting. Okay. Probably friendly, I decided.

As I left my cubicle to find an empty conference room and get some quiet I told him, “That’s an interesting question.” And that if he dug into the Seattle Times archive deep enough he could find an article on the topic which mentioned me and Ray Carter (there is also a closely related Lewiston Morning Tribune article).

Once I had settled into a comfortable chair I told him my story. I jumped around some but I gave him a very brief history of Cease Fear, Ray Carter who approached Joe Waldron of CCRKBA with the idea of firearms instruction for people at risk in the LGBTQ community, the involvement of CCRBKA, SAF, and Washington Arms Collectors in the Cease Fear projects, and the creation of the Pink Pistols a few years later. I told him about distributing flyers for firearms self-defense classes to bath houses and gay bars on Capital Hill in the late 1990s. I told him about Erin Palette earlier this week creating the Google map of LGBT friendly firearm instructors. I told him that although 15+ years ago I was very active on the topic he was researching, until I added my name to the map and sent an email to the Yahoo Cease Fear list earlier this week I seen any interest in years but that I was pretty much disconnected from that side of things for a long time until this week. This week I had a couple of people contact me.

He seemed very interested and perhaps was taking notes. I told him to send me an email (over two hours later and I still haven’t received it) and I would send him a bunch of links. He said, “That would be great!” This blog post is probably going to be the collection of links I send him.

He had one final question for me. “How do you identify?”. “I’m heterosexual”, I told him. I continued with, “I’m very straight. But I have a nephew who is gay and a close blood relative, who values her privacy, who is trans.”

He thanked me and told me he probably wouldn’t be doing much more work on the story until Monday.

We’ll see if I misjudged whether they were a friendly or not. There weren’t any strangely worded, leading, questions which hinted an a hostile narrative. So, I think, it will either turn out okay or will be dropped.

A question about NEED

A former high school classmate asked a question on Facebook the other day (please ignore the typos and incorrect wording):

Former Classmate: Our second amendment states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Somebody. (Terry or Dale or Joe R) PLEASE tell me how outlawing guns that are for nothing other than shooting as many people as fast possible as fast as possible is infringing on you?? Keep your hunting gunS, keep your concealed pistonS, (you can still hunt and shoot and wave them around right??) but the type used in FLA?? Why ?

It resulted in an online discussion with several former classmates then into private messages between her and I. I present it here because I think it is instructive that principles and court decisions are sometimes useless in changing peoples minds. But that if you can find the correct pathway into their mind you do have a chance. Or at least you can avoid being thought of as avoiding their questions.

What follows is not the entire conversation. There were other things said including talk about our grandkids and being invited to visit them next week and responses to/from other people that would be somewhat distracting and irrelevant to my point:

Joe: Read the Heller decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The important part relevant to this discussion is that guns “in common use” are protected. The AR-15 style rifle is the most popular rifle in the country with many million in circulation and certainly qualifies as “in common use”.

Also, this style of rifle is not “for nothing other than shooting as many people as fast possible”. It is used for hunting, self-defense, competition, recreation. Occasionally someone uses it illegally with tragic results but this is very rare. It is so rare that statistically you are much more likely to be murdered but someone using their feet than a rifle (of ANY type).

FC: Can I ask a question. Do you REALLY use it for hunting? does it not desiccate what you shoot with it??

Joe: I only went hunting one year and I used a much more powerful gun. A .300 Winchester magnum. Which fires a MUCH more powerful round. The AR-15 shoots what is considered a medium power cartridge which is so weak that in some states it is not allowed for use on deer. It is typically used to hunt coyotes, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and other “varmints”. The smaller cartridge in this picture is a cartridge for an AR-15. The .300 Win Mag is the larger one.

If you want to see for yourself l would be glad to let you fire both types of guns (or many others for that matter) at pieces of wood, pop cans, milk jugs filled with water, whatever, and see for yourself.


FC: [High school boyfriend] took me rifle hunting back in 1972. We did target shooting (and kissing) but then I spotted a grouse and shot it. There was nothing left but a raft of feathers. I cried and promised God I’d never shoot again.

Joe: I had a somewhat similar emotional experience (without any kissing of [her former boyfriend]). I was probably in about 7th grade and shot a small bird with my BB gun. It didn’t die. It was wounded. I had to shoot it probably five or ten times before it finally died. It was awful.

The next animal I shot was a rattlesnake on a trail near Dworshak Dam when I was hiking with my kids who were about 8->12 years old. That one I didn’t feel any guild over.

The last animal I shot was a deer in 2005. I had been unemployed for several months and money was a bit tight and the deer eating the crops on the farm were plentiful. No guilt that time either.

FC: Just you and me Joe cuz I REALLY want to understand. Knowing what these types of auto or semi guns are used for in purely evil forms, am I totally cracked to think that responsible gun owners would give them up if it meant one less Orlando, one less Sandy Hook??

Joe: I wouldn’t say, “cracked”. Naïve, yes. Just a law requiring REGISTRATION of them in Connecticut resulted in less than 10% compliance. Banning of the magazines (erroneously called “clips” by many) for them and requiring they be turned into the police in Los Angles resulted in ZERO of them being turned in. I know of no occasion in the last 10 years of bans of this nature resulting in more than an estimated 10% compliance.

And your question has an incorrect assumption. It wouldn’t mean there would be “one less Orlando or one less Sandy Hook”. The second largest mass shooting body count in this country, Virginia Tech, was done with two handguns. France and Belgium have total bans on guns like this and they recently had terrible mass shootings anyway.

FC: Soooo aside from sharpshooters like that guy in the movie, do gun enthusiasts NEED those guns?

Joe: “Need”? It’s a “Bill of Rights”, not a “Bill of Needs”. That’s a bit of a snarky answer but do we really “need” all the different religions? Or how about trial by jury?

Gun owners don’t “need” to justify each gun that exists on the market. The government must justify, with a standard of no other means being available to accomplish the stated benefit (in legal terms it’s called “strict scrutiny”), any restriction upon constitutionally protected rights.

But that is likely to have you thinking I’m avoiding your question some, so I’ll try to explain it terms that perhaps will make it less abstract.

Handguns are the most common firearm used for self-defense. But they are more difficult to shoot accurately than a rifle. And the recoil from an effective self-defense handgun round is far more than many people, particularly women of slight build, can handle. The AR-15 rifle is very easy to shoot and practice with. And getting solid hits for self-defense applications are almost trivial compared to doing it with a handgun. For at home self-defense many trainers will recommend an AR-15 over a handgun.

“Need”? Do you “need” seat belts and fire extinguishers? Most of the time no. But there are times when some people unexpectedly need the best tool they can get. If the owners of the Pulse night club had a couple AR-15s and staff who knew how to use them, there would have been a lot fewer innocent people murdered last weekend. Did they “need” them?

FC: ThumbsUpSign

I think she understands our position better. Or maybe she just gave up on me. In any case I’m pretty sure she doesn’t think of our position as totally ignorant and/or evil. Maybe I’ll find out more if Barb and I visit her next week.

Calling all firearms instructors for new LGBTQ shooters

If you are a firearms instructor or just willing to take a new shooter of LGBTQ persuasion to the range for the first time sign up here. If that isn’t really your thing but you know someone in the LGBTQ community who wants to learn to shoot sent them there.

The creator if this site, Erin Palette, is being interviewed about it by the BBC and was linked to by PJ Media.

This could be big.

Pink Pistols media release

From here:

Pink Pistols Saddened by Attack on Orlando Club

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Philadelphia, PA) June 12, 2016: Early Sunday, around 2AM Eastern Time, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was attacked by an armed individual. Approximately 20 persons were killed and over double that wounded when the attacker, whom police have identified as Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, FL, pushed his way into the club and opened fire on patrons. Weapons carried by Mateen are reported as an “assault-type” rifle, a handgun, and a suspected explosive device. UPDATE: Reports are that the death toll is around 50, with over 50 more wounded.

“It appears he was organized and well-prepared,” said Orlando Police Chief John Mina at a news conference on Sunday. Additionally, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said “This is an incident … that we certainly classify as a domestic terror incident.” Authorities say the FBI is involved. Preliminary information reveals that Omar Mateen’s family is from Afghanistan, though Omar may have been born in the United States. His family is reported to be distraught at the actions and loss of their son.

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of the Pink Pistols, an international GLBT self-defense organization, warns people not to jump immediately to the assailant’s guns as the object of blame, but to concentrate instead on Mateen’s violent acts. “The Pink Pistols gives condolences to all family and friends of those killed and injured at Pulse,” began Patton. “This is exactly the kind of heinous act that justifies our existence. At such a time of tragedy, let us not reach for the low-hanging fruit of blaming the killer’s guns. Let us stay focused on the fact that someone hated gay people so much they were ready to kill or injure so many. A human being did this. The human being’s tools are unimportant when compared to the bleakness of that person’s soul. I say again, GUNS did not do this. A human being did this, a dead human being. Our job now is not to demonize the man’s tools, but to condemn his acts and work to prevent such acts in the future.”

Patton’s concerns are that knee-jerk gun-control efforts may make preventing future events harder rather than easier, as only the law-abiding potential victims will be affected by such laws. “It is difficult, if not impossible, to foresee such an event,” continues Patton, “But if they cannot be prevented, then they must be stopped as fast as someone tries to start them.”

Some bars and other establishments that serve alcohol are difficult to protect because many states forbid the carrying of weapons where alcohol is served, but that just as one might have a designated driver who stays sober, one might have a designated carrier with a concealed-carry permit who goes armed and does not drink. “It’s sad that we must consider such things, but when there are persons out there who mean us harm, we must find ways to protect ourselves within the law.” Patton concludes.

The Pink Pistols is an international organization dedicated to the legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community. Chapters may be found across the United States and Canada. Though the Pink Pistols is for the GLBTQ community, it is not solely composed of the GLBTQ community, and all are welcome to join.

Gwendolyn S. Patton
First Speaker, Pink Pistols International
Ph: (610) 879-2364

Quote of the day—Sean Davis

When Soechtig and her team plea to federal charges for violating the nation’s commonsense gun laws, we’ll know they’re serious about cutting down on gun crime. Until then, we’ll know they’re just a bunch of ignorant, gun-trafficking profiteers who want to take away our rights while they violate the very laws they demand with absolute impunity.

Sean Davis
June 3, 2016
Katie Couric’s Anti-Gun Producers Repeatedly Violated Federal Gun Laws

[The laws Soechtig and team committed should not stand up to scrutiny by the courts but other people are still going to jail for them. And as long as other people are going to jail over them it should doubly apply to Soechtig and her gang. Since she wants us to go to jail for violation of nonsensical laws then she needs to understand, first hand, the significance of what she demands.

Update: Image supplied, copyright free and no permission required, by Stephanie.—Joe]

Ray Carter

I was reading my RSS feed this morning and Tam informed me Ray Carter died. Last Monday I had read Ray’s Facebook post saying he was in the early stages of liver failure and had at best three to four weeks left. It was the cancer that was discovered in, I think, 2013. He had said Boomershoot was on his list of things he always wanted to do so Ry and I made it happen in 2014. By that time the cancer was in remission and I hoped Ray would attend more Boomershoots but that didn’t happen. Ray was working for the Second Amendment Foundation at the time and I asked if he would be the dinner speaker and he readily agreed.

Oleg Volk attended Boomershoot that year, had a photo session with Ray, and shared his raw images with me. Here are a few of them:


I’ve written about Ray numerous times as has the more well known Seattle Times. Once we were even in the same Seattle Times editorial.

As I explained here I first met Ray when working with Cease Fear which lead to my creation of the Jews In The Attic Test. It was Ray who came up with the name Cease Fear as a play on the name of the main anti-gun group in the state, Washington Cease Fire. You should have seen the looks on their faces when we showed up in Olympia with our signs and shirts to counter their lobbying efforts. It was wonderful.

I still have the shirt someplace. Here is a picture of me wearing it (click on it for a larger version):


Ray did a lot of work to further gun rights. And being gay he could say things and converse with authority to both gun and LGBT people on how we could work together for mutual benefit. He was a huge benefit to the gun rights movement in Seattle, Washington State, and the nation.

His more visible work in the last decade involved a number of fronts. In 2008 Ray went to work for The Second Amendment Foundation. In 2009 Ray was a plaintiff in a successful lawsuit against the city of Seattle for banning guns in city parks. He was also active in the leadership of the Washington Arms Collectors.

I featured him once for my quote of the day:

The police (and paramedics) are dandy when they arrive. But in the immediate moment of attempted felonious or otherwise violent action being committed upon ones self, persons one is responsible for or the imminent threat thereof a more immediate tool is both appropriate and desirable even in this day and age. It is my observation that a .45acp JHP placed center of mass at approximately 900fps will, more often than not, bring such unpleasantry to a swift halt, though on occasion repeated application of the lesson is required.

Ray Carter
November 21, 2014

He will be greatly missed.

Deliberate deception or crap for brains?

I know mainstream media reporters get a lot of things wrong through ignorance and laziness. But this seems like a tough one to mess up on without being deliberate. The Washington Post headline is After the Pacific Ocean swallows villages and five Solomon Islands, a study blames climate change:

In a recent paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the scientists link the destructive sea level rise to anthropogenic — that is, human-caused — climate change. The study marks the first time anyone has concretely analyzed the loss of Solomon Island shoreline in the context of global warming, they say.

the sea-level rise observed in this study — at about a fourth to two-fifths of an inch a year — is triple the global average.

Really? So they believe the water just got piled up in the South Pacific? Do they have crap for brains? Or do they just believe their readers do?

So… I read the original paper, Interactions between sea-level rise and wave exposure on reef island dynamics in the Solomon Islands. Abstract:

Low-lying reef islands in the Solomon Islands provide a valuable window into the future impacts of global sea-level rise. Sea-level rise has been predicted to cause widespread erosion and inundation of low-lying atolls in the central Pacific. However, the limited research on reef islands in the western Pacific indicates the majority of shoreline changes and inundation to date result from extreme events, seawalls and inappropriate development rather than sea-level rise alone. Here, we present the first analysis of coastal dynamics from a sea-level rise hotspot in the Solomon Islands. Using time series aerial and satellite imagery from 1947 to 2014 of 33 islands, along with historical insight from local knowledge, we have identified five vegetated reef islands that have vanished over this time period and a further six islands experiencing severe shoreline recession. Shoreline recession at two sites has destroyed villages that have existed since at least 1935, leading to community relocations. Rates of shoreline recession are substantially higher in areas exposed to high wave energy, indicating a synergistic interaction between sea-level rise and waves. Understanding these local factors that increase the susceptibility of islands to coastal erosion is critical to guide adaptation responses for these remote Pacific communities.

Nothing about climate change.

Here is the conclusion of the paper:

This study represents the first assessment of shoreline change from the Solomon Islands, a global sea-level rise hotspot. We have documented five vegetated reef islands (1–5 ha in size) that have recently vanished and a further six islands experiencing severe shoreline recession. Shoreline recession at two sites has destroyed villages that have existed since at least 1935, leading to community relocations. The large range of erosion severity on the islands in this study highlights the critical need to understand the complex interplay between the projected accelerating sea-level rise, other changes in global climate such as winds and waves, and local tectonics, to guide future adaptation planning and minimise social impacts.

The paper mentions concerns about changes in climate which may affect the islands, but they do not attribute the changes they have seen to climate change. And, in fact, the paper mentions something the Washington Post conveniently doesn’t mention (emphasis added):

Change in the twelve islands in Roviana was mixed with six islands growing slightly (<20%) and six islands declining slightly (<20%).

Some islands are growing in size. Apparently that doesn’t fit the narrative so the general public doesn’t need to see it.

My conclusion: The Washington Post is deliberately deceiving the general public and has crap for brains for believing their readers are too stupid or lazy to read the original paper when they even give us a link to the original paper.

Heterogeneous cultures

Reading through the comments on this post, which has a reference to a Fred blurb, I came across a very astute summary of the problem.

Reading Fred, I see by the very questions the culture shock.

Cargo culture shock. They want the cargo only produced by high-trust, long time preference, but not change their culture or virtue. DNA might deal them a bad hand, but human beings can bluff. Simply think a moment. So they build totem towers.

Both liberals and libertarians don’t realize the experiments in law will fail. The 55 page iPhone ToS isn’t read, and at some point Tim will be Cooked because law and force are the opposite of trust. The libertarians too design elaborate replacements – DROs, arbitration, etc. not realizing in a trust/posterity/K society they aren’t needed, and in a suspicion/me-now/r society they won’t work.

And that is the crux of the problem when trying to mix heterogeneous cultures. Cargo Cult culture cannot contribute to creation-of-cargo culture anything other than consumers. What is the term in biology for an organism that only consumes of its host and contributes nothing back?

Minor errors in defensive gun use

In the Seattle area where self defense use of guns is still legal:

The drama unfolded at about 2:50 a.m. when the 44-year-old husband, his wife and two daughters, age 19 and 11, were awakened by the noises of someone yelling and kicking at the front door of their home in the 100 block of NE 174th Street, according to Shoreline police.

The homeowner grabbed his 9-mm handgun as his oldest daughter called 911 and the family locked themselves in a back bedroom of the house, said Sgt. Jason Houck of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

The husband, hearing the breaking glass, left the bedroom with his gun. He went to the front of the home, where he saw the suspect standing just outside the front window and door, which were broken out by lawn furniture that the suspect had thrown through.

As the suspect began advancing toward the homeowner from just outside the smashed-out door and windows, the homeowner fired two rounds, hitting the suspect once in the upper right thigh, Houck said.

Police say the homeowner and his family were shaken up by the ordeal. No charges of any kind are expected to be filed against the homeowner.

While things turned out okay, unless there is more to the store, I would tend to say the husband should not have left the bedroom. He put himself at greater and unnecessary risk by advancing toward the bad guy. Let them come to you through the “funnel” of the door. This give the cops more time to arrive and deal with the situation as a team and possibly end the situation without shots being fired. Also, it might be said, his accuracy could use some improvement.

They did do some things really well. They moved, as a group, to a back bedroom. One person called 911 while another deployed the gun. Most importantly, they had a gun and it was accessible.

Think through possible scenarios ahead of time. If you do this you are more likely to have a plan that only needs minor changes should the real thing come down.

Quote of the day—Jay Caruso

Harriet Tubman was an American hero. A gun-toting, no nonsense, devout Christian spy who fought during her retirement to obtain better treatment for African-American soldiers. She was a remarkable woman and totally deserves a place on our currency.

Jay Caruso
April 22, 2016
What You Might Not Know About Harriet Tubman, Gun-Toting Slave Liberator
[I’m good with Tubman replacing Jackson on the $20. I would have rather it been Ayn Rand and dumping Hamilton, but Rand isn’t going to get serious consideration anytime soon. And I’m not a huge fan of Jackson either.—Joe]

What’s the real reason?

Today President Obama said:

As I said in January, these commonsense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one?

This is incredibly simple minded thinking. There are tradeoffs involved in nearly everything. In this case the tradeoffs include:

  • How many people will be unable to save innocent lives because the gun failed to fire when it was required?
  • How many people will be unable to purchase a gun to save innocent lives because of the increased cost?
  • How many lives could be saved if the resources put into “smart gun” technology were instead spent on safety training?

I think it is very telling President Obama and his anti-freedom cohorts haven’t proposed increased gun safety instruction. This demonstrates this isn’t about safety. This is about increasing the price of guns and making firearms less user friendly.

Constitutional Sheriffs in the news

Via Drudge, we get this piece from Progressive Rag, The Washington Post.

The elitist, fear-mongering editorializing in the piece only makes it better, kind of like John Boehner calling Ted Cruz the living embodiment of Lucifer– It’s something of a ringing endorsement, considering who’s saying it. So much so in fact that you’d think he should understand that and keep his mouth shut.

Continue reading

Consolation prize

This is very, very cool:

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner plans to spend $100 million over the next few years to begin developing the technology needed to build a giant laser array to propel swarms of postage stamp-size spacecraft off on 20-year-long interstellar flights to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to the sun, the internet investor announced Tuesday.

The tiny 1-gram nanocraft, or “StarChips,” would be equipped with small, ultra-thin light sails and accelerated, one at a time, to 20 percent the speed of light by a powerful half-mile-wide array of ground-based lasers, boosting them to a cruise velocity of some 37,200 miles per second in a few minutes.

From that point on, the tiny spacecraft would sail on their own across the immense 4.3-light-year — 25-trillion-mile — gulf, flying through the Alpha Centauri system about 20 years after launch. Each surviving “spacecraft on a chip” would snap pictures and beam the data back to Earth using tiny on-board lasers, the faint signals arriving four years later.

The G-forces are very high and that would make scaling it up to be a manned starship a huge challenge:

The collimated beam hitting the sail of a nanocraft would accelerate it to cruise velocity in about two minutes, he said, briefly subjecting the craft to 60,000 times the force of Earth’s gravity

When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969 I expected I would be alive to see colonies on the moon and perhaps even visit the moon myself. That seems very unlikely at this point. But it’s plausible that I will be alive to see the pictures taken from within a million miles from Alpha Centauri. That’s something I didn’t imagine and is a certain amount of consolation.

Attention coin collectors!

I don’t collect coins but maybe someone else would be interested in this. It’s definitely not something you are going to be finding in the change you get at the grocery store:

Million_Dollar_Coin_MountiesThe coins were minted by the world renowned Royal Canadian Mint, which operates world-class refineries, as well as minting Canadian bullion coin products including the popular Canadian Maple Leaf gold and silver bullion coins (0.9999 pure or 24 karat).

Coin Specifications

  • Face Value: $1,000,000
  • Composition: 99999 fine gold
  • Weight (troy oz): 3,215
  • Weight (kg): 100
  • Coins in Existence Worldwide: 5
  • Coins Currently for Sale Worldwide: 1

Suicide and guns

Washington State just passed a law regarding suicide by gun. As I started read the first article on the topic I was highly skeptical:

My husband died by suicide. Here’s what happened during my awkward call with the NRA.

It wasn’t the hardest phone call I’ve ever made, but it was certainly awkward. I was cold-calling the National Rifle Association. Because the NRA is well-known for offering gun safety training, I wanted to know whether the organization had ideas on how to reduce the number of firearm suicides.

But I learned a couple of surprising things from that call and the many follow-up meetings with a local NRA lobbyist and the executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation.

First, they were not just willing to talk but also willing to listen.

The details of the law are here. The voting is telling:

Passed by the House March 8, 2016  Yeas 94  Nays 2

Passed by the Senate March 1, 2016  Yeas 47  Nays

Basically the law requires a task force, in part, to:

(a) Develop and prepare to disseminate online trainings on suicide awareness and prevention for firearms dealers and their employees and firearm range owners and their employees;
(b) In consultation with the department of fish and wildlife, review the firearm safety pamphlet produced by the department of fish and wildlife under RCW 9.41.310 and, by January 1, 2017, recommend changes to the pamphlet to incorporate information on suicide awareness and prevention;
(c) Develop suicide awareness and prevention messages for posters and brochures that are tailored to be effective for firearms owners for distribution to firearms dealers and firearm ranges;
(d) Develop suicide awareness and prevention messages for posters and brochures for distribution to pharmacies;
(e) In consultation with the department of fish and wildlife, develop strategies for creating and disseminating suicide awareness and prevention information for hunting safety classes, including messages to parents that can be shared during online registration, in either follow up electronic mail communications, or in writing, or both;

Yes. It addresses pharmacies as well as firearms owners, dealers, and ranges. It looks like it has the potential to be a good program that truly tries to address the problem of suicide in a fair handed manner and not just something to demonize gun ownership. Others think so as well:

A couple of years ago, Stuber began reaching out to firearms retailers and asking them if they worried about the possibility of selling a gun to someone who might be suicidal. Virtually every employee she spoke with, she said, answered yes. With some trepidation, Stuber called the National Rifle Association and Gottlieb’s group to enlist their help in reducing firearm suicides. To her surprise, they were willing to talk, and also listen.

“There’s real hurt,” she said. “Everybody showed up at the table willing to share their pain. This is an issue that impacts all of us.”

Forefront, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation met with groups including the Seattle Police Department and the Department of Fish and Wildlife over about six months to draft the language for the initiative. Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, the bill’s main sponsor, was instrumental in getting the legislation passed, Stuber said.

About 20 other states have taken steps to bring together suicide prevention advocates and gun owners, Stuber said, but none of those efforts are as broad as the Washington bill. Gottlieb thinks the initiative could become a successful model that can be replicated in other states.

“Lots of us in the firearms rights community have been concerned that a significant percentage of suicides involve lethal force,” he said. “If there’s a way to lower those numbers, it’s in gun owners’ interest to do that. To me, this is a no-brainer, but it took someone like Jenn to put it together.”