Montana Politics US Politics

This Week in Gundamentalism

Just a collection of the this week’s reminders about the impact of our insane gun culture in the United States:

Louisiana: A 5-year-old girl died Sunday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head while playing with a gun inside her New Orleans home.

Maryland: A man shot a passing cyclist Saturday night in Herndon when the gun he was loading accidentally fired, police said.

California: A California woman suspected in the shooting death of her longtime girlfriend was fatally shot by police over the weekend after she pulled a gun on the officers as they were on routine patrol in an alley in Santa Ana.

California: A San Diego man has been arrested on three felony charges in connection with the accidental shooting death of a 10-year-old boy, officials said. Eric Klyaz was killed June 4 when he and a 9-year-old neighbor were playing with a gun they found in the girl’s garage and the weapon discharged, according to the county medical examiner.

Idaho: An off-duty Jerome County sheriff’s deputy got a scare last week when a friend’s gun accidentally discharged. Jerome County Sheriff Doug McFall said deputy Anthony Gratzer did not need hospital treatment when shrapnel hit him.

Indiana: A 12-year-old Scipio boy has died from head injuries sustained during an accidental shooting.

Tennessee: A Kingsport Highway man who accidentally shot himself in the chest about 10:30 p.m. Saturday was listed this morning in critical condition in Johnson City Medical Center.

Ohio: A 9-year-old northeastern Ohio boy was looking at a gun with his teenage cousin when the firearm went off and killed him in an apparent accident.

And Michigan with the worst example. A self-proclaimed defender of the Second Amendment, the type who parades around town with his shotgun trying to get attention, murdered his wife before killing himself:

The latter point was emphatically made in a YouTube video posted in October by Pratt, which shows him being stopped by Plainwell police while carrying a shotgun down a sidewalk.

“Just exercising my rights,” Pratt tells the officers, who include Cassie’s father.

“You’re right you can do it, but common sense says you don’t do it,” an officer retorts.

In a chilling premonition of Monday’s murder-suicide, one of the officers warns Pratt that an argument involving guns “could end up as a double homicide.”

Professors Lucinda Finley and John Culhane offer one step we can take to at least mitigate the harm of guns in our society, given our apparent unwillingness to regulate them. Make gun owners and manufacturers pay:

But there is a simple and direct way to make them accountable for the harm their products cause. For every gun sold, those who manufacture or import it should pay a tax. The money should then be used to create a compensation fund for innocent victims of gun violence.

This proposal is based on a fundamentally conservative principle — that those who cause injury should be made to “internalize” the cost of their activity by paying for it. Now, gun manufacturers and sellers are mostly protected from lawsuits by federal law.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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  • There is already established precedent for what Finlay and Culhane propose, an excise tax to cover damage from firearms. The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 imposes a federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition that is distributed among the 50 states (and the US territories) to promote wildlife habitat and recovery. The obvious difference is between Pittman-Robertson and what Finley-Culhane propose is that what the latter want is punitive, as opposed to generally supportive of culture and society. Such a tax would actually do little to curb accidental gun violence or crime of passion gun violence, unless the money were to be spent on education and marketing to increase owner responsibility … or pay for background checks maybe? The NRA will never allow such because that would hurt their real masters, the American Arms Dealers.

    I have written often, softly, politely, loudly and rudely, that the 2nd Amendment defends the right of firearm ownership. It does not defend the right to manufacture or trade without regulation. Regulation of commerce is solely up to the auspices of Congress. And as long as key members of Congress are owned by the NRA, no tax will or can curb firearm violence.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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