Welcome to Episode 74 of the Adventures with Grammy Podcast. I am your host, Carolyn Berry.
Today’s podcast is a different format from the usual guest interview. I, alone, will be speaking, and the topic is my views about gun control, specifically the guns used during school shootings.
If you are a hard-right, gun-toting person who believes high-velocity guns and ammunition designed to inflict mass carnage on people should continue to be legal, this episode is not for you. Sadly, if the riddled bodies of little children don’t change your mind, I know nothing I say will do so either, so don’t listen.
My audience for today’s episode are those grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and the public at-large who are tired of politicians extending their thoughts and prayers to the victims and the families of those killed at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Uvalde, Buffalo, Boulder, Atlanta, Dayton, El Paso, Virginia Beach, Virginia Tech, Thousand Oaks, Pittsburgh, Parkland, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Orlando, Roseburg, Oak Creek, Tulsa and elsewhere.
Thoughts and prayers mean nothing without action.
I know the power of people who join to make things happen. Think soccer moms. Think parents of children with autism.
If you are as enraged as I am that day after day the news is filled with reports of the slaughter of innocent people who should have been safe learning in their schools, praying at their houses of worship, shopping at their neighborhood grocery stores, and performing their duties in their work environments, then you can make a difference.
If you are as irate as I am that Congress has not passed legislation to minimize these killing fields, then you can make a difference.
If you are as furious as I am when you hear politicians say, “Guns are not the problem. Mental health problems are,” then you can make a difference.
Please continue to listen and I will show you how.
There is no doubt the lack of mental health services in the United States is a huge problem, but Guns ARE the issue I am addressing today. In particular, the AR-15, which is designed as a semiautomatic version of the military-grade M16. In fact, the AR-15 first was marketed to the military as a lighter weight version of the M16. It is the AR-15 … gunmen used in the most recent attacks in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa.
During the next few minutes, I will give you nine facts, I will ask you to think about five things, I will ask you to do five things to protect our children and grandchildren, and I will give you four resources. Don’t worry about taking notes. Links to the resources and support of the facts I cite are in the show notes.
Since I will be mentioning lots of numbers, the complete transcript is in the show notes as well.
- The gunman who massacred 19 young children and two teachers and wounded 17 others in Uvalde took more ammunitioninto Robb Elementary School than a US soldier takes into a wartime battle. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said the gunman fired 142 rounds at the children and around the school.
He legally bought two AR-15 rifles and more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition in the days after his 18th birthday at a cost of about $4,000. Some reports say he saved money working at Wendy’s. Other reports say he bought the guns and ammunition on credit
- Since the massacre in Uvalde May 24, 2022, there have been 21 mass shootings throughout the U.S. as if June 3, 2022.
- According to Gun Violence Archive, from January 1, 2022, to June 3, 2022, 18,346 people have died from gun violence, which includes 222 mass shootings and 12 mass murders.
Of the more than 18,000 killed , 695 were children ages 17 years old and younger.
During that same period, 15,389 people were injured from gun violence. 1,724 of those injured were 17 years old and younger.
The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as any incident in which four or more people were shot but not necessarily killed, excluding the shooter.
- Most models of the AR-15 were illegal in 1994 when Bill Clinton was president. That ban lasted until 2004, then it lapsed. The National Rifle Association and other forces thwarted the renewal of the ban.
- Bernie Sanders said during the assault weapons ban from 1994-2004, mass shootings went down 43%. After it expired, mass shootings tripled.
- Experts estimate private Americans own more than 19 million AR-15s, and the high-powered rifle makes up only a fraction of the overall US gun market.
- Texas has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the whole US.
Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott relaxed gun laws even further allowing most Texans to carry handguns openly in public without any training or a permit.
Long guns, such as the weapons used in last week’s attack, already could be carried without a permit.
- Abbott blames the mass shooting in Uvalde on mental health issues.
He said, “We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period. We as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and to do something about it.”
In April, he announced he would be moving nearly $500 million from state agencies to fund Operation Lone Star, a Texas-Mexico border security initiative jointly being conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department.
Of that nearly $500 million, $210.7 million was from Texas Health & Human Services, which oversees public mental health programs.
If Gov. Abbott believes mental health is the root cause of mass shootings, why did he slash funds from that budget?
- According to historian Heather Cox Richardson, a poll shows “huge support” for gun regulations. It showed that 88% of voters support background checks on all gun sales, while 8% oppose such checks.
84% of voters support preventing gun sales to people who have been reported to police as dangerous by a mental health; only 9% oppose it.
77% of voters support requiring guns to be stored in a safe storage unit, while only 15% oppose such a requirement.
A national database for gun sales gets 75% approval and 18% disapproval.
Banning assault style weapons like the AR-15 has an approval rate of 67% of voters while only 25% disapprove.
Republicans appear to be doubling down on their support for expanded gun rights, trying to convince gun owners that the regulations under which we lived until 2004 will somehow end gun ownership altogether.
Here are 5 Things to Think About
- My question is why would someone disapprove? If universal background check and red flag laws create barriers to someone owning a gun, then they must be a person who should not have one.
- I am a retired teacher. I practiced active shooter drills with my students. Even though students and teachers knew the drills were practice only, we still felt afraid.
Active shooter drills hurt children emotionally, especially since mass shootings occur at least once a week in the United States.
Experts recommend talking openly with your children and teaching breathing techniques to calm their fears. Within the next few weeks, a guest on this podcast will address how to help your children and grandchildren.
Here is another statistic to think about, and it is shocking.
- Patrick Sharkey, the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, studied the public’s anger and sadness about mass shootings.
His research shows the public’s anger and sadness fade after four days … FOUR DAYS
He says that “doesn’t mean we forgot about the shooting or no longer cared. It just means that we returned to our lives, that the horror of what had happened had moved away from the forefront of our consciousness even as the sadness and anger lingered in the background.”
FOUR DAYS and the raw emotions fade.
- The fourth point to think about is a 2019 research report from Harvard Business School. It shows gun-related bills increased at the state level following mass shootings. However, and this is what I need you to think about, with few exceptions, the legislation relaxed gun restrictions. I will repeat that: the research shows that In Republican-controlled state legislatures, mass shootings have led to a large increase in legislation designed to loosen gun restrictions.
Because constituents and organizations who want fewer gun restrictions write letters and donate money to politicians. In other words, money talks.
The fifth thing to consider is that 18-year-old adults, especially males, are not mature enough to own guns. The human brain’s prefrontal cortex does not mature until a person is about 25 years old, which often leads to impulsive behavior. Males, especially, do not understand the consequences of their behaviors. Therefore, young adult males are far more reckless and prone to violence than their counterparts in other age groups, and their leading causes of death include fights, accidents, and driving too fast. An expert who will explain brain function and impulsivity more fully will be a guest on an upcoming episode of the Adventures with Grammy Podcast.
What can we do to keep our children and grandchildren safe.
There are five simple steps.
- Call your congressional representative – senate and the house.
- Call attention to your state and local representatives
Tell them to
*Ban high-velocity assault weapons and the ammunition that goes with it
*Strengthen background checks
*Pass red flag laws
*Raise the legal age to purchase guns to at least 21. (I personally think it should be 25.)
- Write letters to editors
- Respond to people on social media with facts.
- Vote during EVERY election. We cannot be complacent.
Here are resources:
!. Wednesday, June 8, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. ET, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, will hold a hearing to examine the gun violence epidemic in the United States.
The link to watch it is in the show notes.
The Committee has been examining gun violence in the United States for several years, and in 2019 launched an investigation into gun dealers that sell guns used in crimes. On April 28, 2022, the Committee released preliminary findings from its investigation, showing that a small number of gun dealers—particularly those in states with lax gun laws—have sold thousands of guns used in violent crimes.
On May 27, 2022, the Committee sent letters to five leading manufacturers of semi-automatic rifles for information related to the manufacture, marketing, and sales of their weapons, to understand how these guns are fueling the gun violence epidemic and to inform gun safety legislation.
The hearing will examine the urgent need for Congress to pass commonsense legislation that most Americans support. This includes legislation to ban assault weapons and bolster background checks on gun purchases, while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Speaking at the hearing will be a pediatrician from Uvalde, Texas, and the parents murdered Uvalde student Lexi Rubio, and a fourth-grade survivor of the Uvalde massacre.
Added June 6, 2022