Results of our PollOn Gun Control…

This week showed use record numbers in our poll. Many people have strong opinions about this topic on all sides of the conversation. Some were neutral. Some were steadfast. Some a little, shall we say, spirited. Wherever you stand on this issue, we thank you for taking part and joining the conversation. We’re all in this together!

Do you own a gun?
No                     52.38%
Yes                    42.86%
Other Option       4.76%
“Not yet”

Comments:
“Protection.”

“Home protection. House behind me was victim of a home invasion.”

“Not opposed to owning a gun. I also believe it could have merit as protection in this increasingly violent society. But guns also make me uneasy. I certainly never would have had one all those years when my kids were in the house.”

“Would feel uncomfortable with a gun in my home.”

“Been wanting to get my permit forever. I’m just lazy.”

“No reason to own a gun”

“I would not feel safe with a gun in my home.”

“Protection only”

“I still have my late husband’s rifle.”

“I don’t feel the need currently to own a gun.”

Are you in favor of reforming gun laws in light of increasing gun violence in the country?
Yes                  71.43%
Undecided        9.52%
Other Option     9.52%
“Because if we enforced the laws we have already 85 percent of these and other shootings wouldn’t have happened i.e. Five years for any gun crime”
“Problem is, it’s too late to reform anything. The law abiding gun owners aren’t the problem.”
No 9.52%

Comments:
“Enforcement of existing laws is crucial. Encroaching on individual liberties in the name of reactionary reasons not only will not stop crime but makes law abiding citizens less safe.”

“It’s a tough issue. Sure if there were no guns there would be no shootings. But at the same time, since day one, people have needed protection from the bad guys. Unfortunately bad guys are outnumbering the good guys these days. Can’t protect yourself from an attack with a gun with a baseball bat. You’ll die one hundred percent of the time.”

“Very much. I’d like to see a review of the system in place for background checks, as well as an investigation of the integrity and business practices of the nation’s gun dealers. As for the topic of mental health and guns, that can be hard to address — not everyone battling the disorder seeks treatment, because of the unfortunate stigma — but it’s hard to believe that some of these unstable shooters in recent years haven’t left some kind of paper trail that would show them to be unsuitable for gun ownership.”

“Would want longer grace periods from applying for a gun and buying it, better background checks and mental health history needs to be taken into account. Also laws in place for gun owners responsibly to keep their guns secure or face fines or jail time.”

“It’s easier to get a gun than to get an abortion or to vote.”

“It should be made very difficult to get a gun. And you should have to be inspected, both you and your gun every year.”

“Its about time.”

“Touchy subject. I guess it’s the fight fire with fire notion.”

“48-72 hour waiting period does not seem excessive. Most states that’s the standard for abortion.”

“I think gun dealers at gun shows should have to do a background check before selling guns.”

“it clearly needs to change.”

Why do you think there is such an increase in gun violence today?
People have become desensitized                                                                                          4.76%
Mental health issues (specifically psychosis and violent tendencies) are under treated       14.29%
Too many loopholes in being able to obtain guns                                                                  14.29%
Ability to get guns illegally                                                                                                      23.81%
Other Option                                                                                                                           42.86%
“Lack of individual responsibility.”
“Not enforcing laws on the books already”
“A small number of people are idiots”
“Not sure”
“Mental health and people have become desensitized”
“All of the above”

Comments:
“Its easier to get a gun illegally than it is to get a box of cereal.”

“I think the cause for this increase goes beyond illegal weapons or mental health issues. There are societal issues. The big question is why are people so easily swayed to pull the trigger? Why are people so easily shot these days? I don’t know if it’s a shooter’s lack of a conscience, no respect for life . . . I just don’t know. I often wonder why this epidemic doesn’t exist in other countries.”

“#itstrue”

“Copy cat….People see ,People do.”

“Should at least have waiting period at gun shows.”

What are your thoughts on the second amendment?
Our forefathers would expect government and the people to revise it if it wasn’t working. Weapons have, after all, come a long way since the musket.       50%
It was written for a reason. Leave it alone.          25%
Other Option                                                        20%
“Criminals will always be able to get them if their is money to be
made political thoughts aside if every law abiding citizen gave up his or her guns we would be defenseless our police can’t handle Gun issues now what would happen if we were defenseless”
“Laws change to adapt to the times. The 2nd Amendment should as well.”
“Laws change to adapt to the times”
Get rid of guns all together.                                  5%

Comments:
“Your premiss of changing the 2nd Amendment because weapons have evolved is debunked by your acceptance of the 1st Amendment even though we no longer write with a quill and parchment. Should we ban computers?”

“Guns protect.”

“It is well-known that the amendment was intended to arm state militias, and it’s true — it’s an 18th-century provision that is being manipulated in the craziness of 21st-century America. I get so impatient and pissed with gun advocates who wrongly insist that revision would be an attempt to strip their gun rights. So paranoid and misinformed . . . .”

“It is one of our rights to bear arms but I would want laws in place to make sure someone is cleared to own a gun of mental issues and a waiting period.”

“Although that’s not possible …so we should just forget about it and let people kill people its OK the gun didn’t do it.”

“When the government takes away that right….I am afraid that there will be kaos.”

“In original document it refers to militia. They didn’t have cell phones to call Police.”

“I don’t believe in changing the constitution it could become a slippery slope. We can add rights but not take them away.”

“while I would never support banning guns, it is too easy to get automatic weapons”

Have you ever…
Had to use a gun to protect yourself or a loved one?    6.67%
Been involved in a crime involving a gun?                    13.33%
Known someone involved in a gun crime?                    33.33%
Other Option                                                                  42.86%
“Been threatened with a gun”
“I have not but I’m ready”
“No”
“No”
“N/A”
“As a police officer”

Comments:
“Walked out my door in broad daylight was assaulted by a six foot four adult male God only knows what would have happened if I wasn’t armed”

“I was robbed at gun point.”

“None of the above”

“Because I stay away from anyone who carries or owns guns”

“I have been threatened with a gun in my face…not a good feeling…”

“A friend robbed at gunpoint. Frightening.”

Gun Control…One Mans Point of View

image

Our topic this week will is gun control and there’s no shortage of opinions this topic. You know a few people whose lives were taken by guns. Can you tell me the circumstances of those events?
“One kid (I don’t remember his name) I remember… we went to Viso (Visitation Catholic Elementary School) together…shortly after 8th grade, prob 9th or 10th.
He was running from the cops. I believe he stole something from a store. With the cops on foot chasing him, he ran into a factory parking lot and hid in a doorway. Partially hidden, the cop saw him. Ordered to come out, the kid started to come out, reached in his back pocket. The cop shot him dead. The cop testified he thought he was going for a weapon. He went for his wallet.
Factory workers corroborated the officers story, they watched from the windows above & the parking lot. Determination – JUSTIFIED SHOOTING

The second kid was a good friend of mine from Viso & the neighborhood. Bobby. Cops were called to an altercation on the 15th & Market Streets platform. I believe that Bobby was a peace maker in an altercation. For whatever reason, the cop focused on Bobby, and he argued with the cop. The cop tried to cuff him, he resisted. When the cop started to hold him (unbeknownst to the cop) Bobby went into an epileptic fit. The cop thought his life was in danger & shot him dead on the spot. Determination – JUSTIFIED SHOOTING.

Then my neighbor, when I was younger, lost two sons to neighborhood violence. They had two boys and two girls.
Their younger son, was stabbed to death around the corner from his/my house. It was also the corner my brother & I had hung out.
Their oldest son, and I believe their first born, was shot to death around the corner from his/my house, but the opposite corner.
The story, as I remember, was as follows: their oldest son had a dispute with another kid. What precipitated the dispute is gone from my memory. On the day of his death, he was chasing this kid down our street and around the corner. The other kid ran into his house. My neighbor’s son tried to break into his house, but couldn’t get in, so he pulled a gun and started shooting out the windows & thru the door. When he ran out of bullets, the other kid either shot out from the window or opened the door and shot George in the head. If I remember correctly, he died at the scene.”

That’s incredibly sad! Do you believe stricter gun laws would have changed anything in the cases not involving the police?
“Stricter guns laws may have prevented my neighbor’s son and the other kid from obtaining the guns. We’ll never know. I believe that they both were 18-20 years old.”

Where do you stand, personally, on the issue of gun control?
“I am in favor of stricter gun laws. We NEED better background checks; mandatory gun safety & usage classes; limits on the number & types of weapons. I strongly believe that the average Joe or Jane doesn’t need an AK47 or M16 to hunt or for self-protection. If they want those types of weapons, we as Americans have a right to obtain them, BUT, we as a society need to limit and restrict ownership.”

Why do you think there are more instances of mass shootings?
“I strongly believe the increase in mass shootings are the results of multiple factors: breakdown in the family structure (lack of a male role model in the home & many dysfunctional homes); lack of discipline & respect; epidemic of violence in our media, from movies-TV-video games-etc.”

What do you think changed since you were growing up in the 60’s?
“Much has changed since I grew up in the 60’s. Much of the changes I listed above in relation to mass shootings. I also feel that the 60’s, with many causative factors (John F & Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King assassinations, Vietnam War etc.) caused many Americans to lose hope. We lost hope in general, but lost hope in America and its’ ideals.”

Gun Violence in Schools… The Results Are In. The Kids Have Spoken.

We’ve been talking about gun violence this week. Yesterday we tackled the sensitive topic of school shootings. We polled 33 (mostly) 7th graders, and asked them about violence in school. The results surprised us. Will they surprise you? Check out the results here.

If you missed our interview with the teacher behind the students, you can check it out here.

Gun Violence and School Shootings: A Teacher (and Parent) Perspective

What grade do you teach?
Currently a 7th grade teacher

How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching since 1998. 5 years in the bad school, central east, and the rest in the good one.

When you decided to become a teacher had you ever heard any stories about or given any thought to gun violence, specifically shootings in schools?
When I was in school, I don’t recall really hearing about school shootings. Once I got graduated and got hired, Columbine happened.

Did that make you tentative at all? Or was it more of a ‘that can’t happen here’ mentality?
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I was young and naïve, and working in quite a tough school. There were many fights, several 14-year-old girls that were pregnant, skills were very low, staff members being assaulted, parental support was practically non-existent. I tried to have a tough exterior to show those kids I was all business. I had high expectations. My only concern was how I was going to survive each day. I saw many teachers around me that came in everyday and were just so miserable. And believe me when I tell you they had every right to be. The shooting at Columbine for me, was something that was far away and out of the realm possibility. In the meantime, I was more worried about the most recent riot that happened at dismissal outside of school, and the roof of my red grand am, which had been all dented in from kids that were standing and jumping on it while innocently being parked on the corner.
It’s important that I add, this car was eventually stolen from the school parking lot while I was at work. I got a call 2 days later that it was found. My dad went to claim it from a police impoundment lot and walked right by it as it was unrecognizable. Turns out a cop saw a 13-year-old child driving, ran the plates, and it came up as reported missing. A chase ensued and the kid ended up wrapping it around a pole and totaled it.
That was my reality. A school nowhere near Philadelphia, where a white kid wearing a long trench coat, who was bullied and then shot up and murdered [students at] his school was not going to happen on Wyoming Avenue.

Do you think Columbine or had there been other shootings that you’d been aware of at the time, deterred you at all or make you second guess your decision to teach? 
I don’t think Columbine would have changed my mind in becoming a teacher. Teaching was the only thing I felt I was meant to do. Fast forward 1.5 years later and 9-11 is really what changed everything. While this was not a school shooting, this introduced the idea that just about anything is possible anymore. No one was safe from anything.
At Central East, there were many days after 9-11 that we spent outside our school yard waiting for police to sweep through our building because of daily bomb threats being called in. They first took these incidents very seriously, especially because our school was located in a neighborhood with a very high Muslim population. A specialist in race relations from the district was sent in to give us training on how to handle being in a neighborhood where news coverage was showing celebrations occurring in the streets after 9-11. The tension was so high you could cut it with a knife.

Have you ever had to do “shelter in place” or similar lock down type situations with your class?
We have had to do shelter in place a few times at Masterman. It was for a stranger entering the building. I think our prime location makes us an easy target for homeless people and other various sordid folk.
The first time I did not have a key because I was a floating teacher. So I was not able to lock the door and I was losing my shit as were a few other teachers. New locks on the doors and master keys were issued to everyone shortly after. Along with a threat that if we lost the key it would be $700 to replace.

How do the kids typically respond to such things?
Kids were very upset about the door not locking as well as being squeezed into a corner where anyone could see that we were all squeezed into a corner. This was a day or two after Sandy Hook which had us on high alert already.
Having to tell my students about Sandy Hook was just awful, however, not nearly as awful as telling them about our 8th grader that committed suicide.

What happened with that?
Each grade class has 198 students. Mostly everyone knows each other. This incident had our school shaken to the core. Even the homeroom teacher of the boy retired at the end of the year because it was too much. He happened to have an older brother in the high school so we were a mess on all ends.The boy did shoot himself in the head because of the pressure of getting into the high school. That was a funeral that a person finds themselves weeping at.

Do you think there’s a way to decrease the number of school shootings (or any mass shooting) in this country? Has your school done anything in response to events like this?
Last year we had a metal detector installed. We were the last high school to get one. We also got closed circuit monitors and a buzzer on the door. All these new plans, and gadgets and gizmos have created a ” police state” which does help me feel safe. Fortunately, Masterman is a school where kids want to come to and they are very bright. If I were in a different school , I don’t know if I would feel that way.  Last year was another lockdown because of a man with a gun at CCP (Community College of Philadelphia). We were told to stay away from the windows. The younger kids were freaked out. I was also freaking out. The lockdown we had last week was almost like no big deal anymore. How freaking sad is that?

And on the larger scale?
I don’t know what can help decrease school shootings. Even at Masterman we have kids with a lot of issues that are not getting the help they need. I would imagine that would be the place to start. I hear a lot of people calling in lawmakers to make changes on how easily guns are accessed. To me that’s common sense, but people start losing their shit about their constitutional rights to carry a gun. They are extremists and no one that is extreme about anything can be reasoned with.

Overall do you feel safe from gun violence in your school?
I feel safeish in MY school. I can’t say yes I feel safe or no I do not. It’s just not that cut and dry. I feel sick people are out there and they are going to do bad things.

Do you think your own children do?
My kids are probably still too young to feel otherwise.

In talking about this topic, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask the students themselves. So, please follow us on our Facebook page where we’ll be posting the results of a brief survey we did with a classroom of 7th graders about the issue.

Can Sandy Hook’s Legacy Change the World?

I’m a self-described news junkie. I watch the evening news on television like so many others. I have a news app on my phone, and I check my Facebook and Twitter feeds throughout the day to see what might be going on out in the great big world. When a big story breaks, I am the first one glued to CNN, or refreshing my Twitter feed every 2 minutes. This is not new. I have always been a little ahead of the curve with a passion for current events. While other kids were outside playing hide and seek, I was inside watching interviews with the families of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. When some kids were at the mall shopping, or outside playing sports, I was inside watching the Berlin Wall come down with bated breath. While other kids asked to stay up late to watch their favorite comedy show or movie, I wanted to stay up late to watch the Presidential debates, and the State of the Union address and of course the opposing parties rebuttal that followed. I have seen all sorts of news stories unfold. I have watched them closely from the first whispers of the media to the waning interest that happened inevitably when the next big story came along. I have seen some happy stories, but more often than not, I have seen tragedy. Sadness sells.
I’ve seen shootings and bombings and torture and mayhem and I have followed it from start to end. And I have cried. I cried like I’d never cried before as I followed the news in the days after 9/11. I cried every time there was a news story that involved a child. But I’m not sure that a news story ever, ever impacted me the way the Sandy Hook school shooting did.

sandyhook3I don’t know if it was because I had unusually missed the news that morning, and so by the time I tuned in, I had already heard there was a gunman in a school, but the magnitude of it hit me hard and caught me off guard. I don’t know if it was because anything involving the death of children is difficult to process, especially if you are a parent. Or perhaps, and I think most accurately, if it was because my son, my child, my baby was also a 6-year-old first grade boy the day that it all happened. A boy sitting in his classroom. A boy reading. A boy surrounded by his friends. A boy looking at his teacher, put there to teach him and to keep him from harm’s way. A boy just like the 20 other boys and girls who did the same that day, until their beautiful precious lives were cut short in an instant, in a flash of senseless gunfire. When I heard the details finally, I learned that it wasn’t “just a school”, that it was an elementary school, a classroom full of first graders- babies. I learned that it wasn’t just a situation where there were “injuries” or even “casualties” but that 20 children (and 6 adults) had been murdered in cold blood. Every time I close my eyes, I could see them. I could see my son. And I just knew that this couldn’t continue. That there could not be more Sandy Hooks. But in the nearly 3 years since Sandy Hook, there have been nearly a hundred more shootings at schools around this country. And I just do not know if there is an end in sight.

sandyhook2The shooting prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States, including proposals for making the background-check system universal, and for new federal and state legislation banning the sale and manufacture of certain types of semi-automatic firearms and magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition (1). But the battle goes on. And no one can even pinpoint what they are fighting for. What will make the shooting stop? Banning guns? Making it more difficult to get a firearm? Limiting the sale of semi-automatic weapons? Attacking the NRA and it’s mission? Revamping the mental health institutions in this country? Going after big pharma in the belief that the over medicating of young people at risk for suicidal and homicidal tendencies are a side effect of certain drugs? Or the belief that people are wandering around unmedicated and mentally ill? Will any of this work?

I’ve spoken to parents, I’ve spoken to kids, and I’ve spoken to teachers (one of whom shared with us in an interview that will be up later today), everyone agrees that gun violence is scary. Everyone agrees that schools should be safe places, a haven, and not a place to fear being victimized or killed. I wish I had the answer. I wish anyone had the answer. I wish that people could stop bickering over semantics and politics long enough to realize that finding a solution, a way to at the very least minimize these events, isn’t an option, it is a necessity. An absolute, no questions asked, no more dead children, necessity. Just ask the families of:

Charlotte Bacon (DOB 2/22/06)
Daniel Barden (9/25/05)
Rachel Davino (7/17/83)
Olivia Engel (7/18/06)
Josephine Gay (12/11/05)
Ana M. Marquez-Greene (4/4/06)
Dylan Hockley (3/8/06)
Dawn Hocksprung (6/28/65)
Madeleine F. Hsu (7/10/06)
Catherine V. Hubbard (6/8/06)
Chase Kowalski (10/31/05)
Jesse Lewis (6/30/06)
James Mattioli (3/22/06)
Grace McDonnell (11/04/05)
AnneMarie Murphy (07/25/60)
Emilie Parker (5/12/06)
Jack Pinto (5/6/06)
Noah Pozner (11/20/06)
Caroline Previdi (9/7/06)
Jessica Rekos (5/10/06)
Avielle Richman (10/17/06)
Lauren Russeau (6/1982)
Mary Sherlach (2/11/56)
Victoria Soto (11/4/85)
Benjamin Wheeler (9/12/06)
Allison N. Wyatt (7/3/06)

Caroline Previdi was born on September 7, 2006 just one day after I had my son, and the day he was due to be born. What allows me to hold my son to this day, to have celebrated his 7th, 8th, and 9th birthdays while her parents do not, is nothing more than geography.

  1. Steinhauer, Jennifer (January 24, 2013). “Senator Unveils Bill to Limit Semiautomatic Arms”. The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  2. Sandy Hook memorial photgraph By Bbjeter (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Gun Control…A Poll

In light of the most recent mass shootings, we’d love the opinions of our readers on where they stand on gun control. Please take a moment to answer our five questions. Thank you.

Gun Violence in America. Is There a Solution in Sight?

gunsWithout question one of the most controversial and divisive issues in our country today is gun control. Conversations, debates, and arguments on the back of gun violence in this country seem to be an all to frequent occurrence anymore. The blame is laid at the feet of everyone from gun owners, to the NRA, to the government, to the state of heath care for the mentally ill, all depending on who you ask. So, just how prevalent is gun violence in America? Let’s take a look at some recent statistics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, firearms (excluding BB and pellet guns) were used in 84,258 nonfatal injuries, 11,208 deaths by homicide, 21,175 by suicide with a firearm, 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm, and 281 deaths due to firearms-use with “undetermined intent” for a total of 33,169 deaths related to firearms (excluding firearm deaths due to legal intervention). 1.3% of all deaths in the country were related to firearms. Are these problematic numbers? Some may say 1.3% is a drop in the bucket. Others may say that that 1.3% or 33,169 deaths could have been scaled down dramatically with tougher legislation, and with laws and provisions in place to help keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and those with criminal intent.

Some say that even one preventable death by gun is unacceptable, while others will argue that if not by gun, then those with intent to kill themselves or others will simply find another means to so. And so we play the blame game. And we go round and round, and back again with the same fight. Do guns kill people? Or do people kill people? Or do guns just make it easier for those people who might not kill otherwise be able to kill, to get the job done?

But, who is really to blame?

What do people think about the gun control laws we have now?

As one person we spoke to said, “the gun control laws that we have now, really don’t prevent gun violence. All it does is lengthen the time it takes for honest law-abiding citizens who wish to own a firearm to get one. People who wants guns, are going to get guns. If they are honest and do it the right way, they’ll get a gun. And if they are a criminal and do it illegally, they’ll get a gun too.”

And another had this to say, “in other countries, countries with much tougher gun legislation, you simply do not see the kind of gun violence, school shootings, and violent crimes that you see here in the U.S. And something has to be done about it!”

So, where do you stand? This week we’ll be talking to people about gun violence, gun control, and what they think the real problems and solutions are. Voice your opinion. We want to hear from you! With yet another mass casualty school shooting barely in our rear view mirror, it’s a good time for suggestions and for action. It’s pretty evident that there is a problem. The question now is, is there a solution? And what is it?
Tell us in the comments where you stand, stop by our Facebook page to join the discussion, or private message us if you’re a little too shy to share.