Friday, October 9, 2015


            For 13 years I have been analyzing and writing about mass shootings; for 13 years I have been hitting my head against a stonewall.
Mass slaughter on school grounds, in theaters, in churches, and in shopping malls may be the most serious and complex problem in this nation’s history. Solving the problem will take careful and deliberate thought, but thinking is hard work, that is why so few people do it.  Those few who do propose actions are met with a fusillade of reasons why their ideas won’t work.          
Misguided Second Amendment proponents come up with an endless list of reasons as to why this or that proposal is bad, why this or that proposal violates individual rights. Second Amendment proponents are people you go to when you want to be told, “This or that idea is no good” or “that violates the Constitution.” They have no ideas or counter proposals, all they have is criticism. The main staple of their vocabulary is “no.”
We, as a nation, seem paralyzed. Every time legislation is proposed, Second Amendment advocates decry it as a violation of Constitutional rights to bear arms. Nowhere do they mention the Constitutional rights of the dead and wounded victims.
The Constitution was written when mussel-loading muskets were the firearm of the day. The founding fathers did not imagine rapid-fire assault weapons. There were no six-chamber pistols, nor were there AK-47s. There were no multi-bullet magazines that mow down or wound large numbers of people in just a few minutes.
            The problem of gun violence in this country has reach epidemic proportions and it is getting worse. From Columbine, to Grundy, to Blacksburg, to Aurora, to Charleston, to Roseburg, to Northern Arizona on it goes. The bodies are piled higher and higher, and we take no action to end the carnage.
There is no easy solution. The causes are numerous: lack of mental health care, failure to recognize these shootings are a male-related crisis (97% of the mass shootings are done by males), no universal background checks for people buying guns, and politicians who have sold out to gun manufactures and the NRA.
The sharp rise in gun violence can be pinpointed to the states’ cutting back mental health care services and facilities. In many instances people who are a threat to themselves or others have no place to go. In Virginia the mental health care system is so dysfunctional that when state Senator Creigh Deeds tried to get his son committed for treatment, he was told there was no bed available. In fact beds were available. Within 24 hours of being denied treatment, Deed’s son seriously wounded his father and then killed himself.

There are no cheap fixes to the problem of gun violence. It will take time and money—lots of both. It will take mandatory background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those who are a threat to themselves and others as well as terrorists, domestic abusers, and convicted felons. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that any of these groups has a right to own and keep firearms.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


I will give two lectures on Virginia Tech shooting and hold book signings at the Shepard's Center Open University in Richmond, Va. The first is October 29th and the second is November 5th. Both are at the First Presbyterian Church, 4602 Cary Street. Both will be from 11:00 a.m. until noon. You can call for more information at (804) 355-7282.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


            Just when you think the gun manufacturers and National Rifle Association (NRA) have sunk about as low as they can go, they come up with something even more outrageous: Make victims families pay court costs of any legal action.

The gun makers and NRA have long engaged in nefarious lobbying activity that has undercut public safety, now they have persuaded politicians to adopt laws making the victims of gun violence pay the legal fees for challenging their sacrosanct position in society.

In September 2014, the Brady Center announced a lawsuit on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, accusing Web site companies of negligence for selling weapons to the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter, James Holmes. The Phillips daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the shooting. The lawsuit charges the companies with negligence for selling weaponry (including ammunition, body armor, tear gas and other equipment used in this assault) to someone as obviously unstable as Holmes. Holmes ended up killing 12 and wounding 70 others on July 20, 2012.

Senior U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch of the District of Colorado dismissed Sandy and Lonnie Phillips’ suit against four Web sites because Colorado and federal laws shield firearms and ammunition sellers from liability based on a customer’s wrongful acts. Phillips et al. v. Lucky Gunner LLC et al., No. 14–cv–02822, 2015 WL 1499382 (D. Colo. Mar. 27, 2015).

Both federal and Colorado laws protect gun makers and sellers from being held responsible for selling arms to people who are a danger to themselves and others, but Colorado has taken this outrage a step further, requiring plaintiffs to pay the court costs.

Lucky Gunner and Sportsman Guide (two of the companies selling to Holmes) have already filed motions for $220,000 in legal costs. According to press reports, another arms dealer, BTP Arms, wants another $33,000. BTP Arms request will probably fail because the law does not cover the two tear gas grenades Holmes bought from BTP Arms or the four pieces of body armor from

The Phillips lawsuit underscores not only this country’s lax gun laws, but the fact that U.S. laws protect gun makers and sellers, the average citizen has virtually no recourse against weapons manufacturers or the gun lobby.  



            I thought the news reports of Bastrop, Texas’ paranoia concerning the Obama Administration and the U.S. military coming to take their weapons was some sort of sick joke, but apparently it is not.

            The Bastrop Republican Party warned Texans to prepare for the U.S. government to take their weapons in connection with military exercises.  The U.S. military is preparing to conduct the largest multi-state exercises in its history. The exercises are taking place from July 15 to September 15.

The press quotes Albert Ellison, chairman of the Bastrop Republican Party, as saying the U.S. military’s exercise is part of an Obama Administration “plan to spy on them, confiscate their guns and ultimately establish martial law.”

            Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape has tried to reassure the county’s approximately 78,000 citizens that was not the case, telling them the exercise is routine. But his efforts were met with placards reading, “No Gestapo in Bastropo.”

            Has anyone told Albert Ellison and his friends that the U.S. government has heavy artillery, drones, and nuclear weapons? Really, they are coming after Bastrop, Texas? You are going to take rifles and pistols to a drone fight? And then there is the question of why would anyone, especially the U.S. government, care about Bastrop, Texas in the first place? The President and Washington politicians have to worry about al Qa’ida, ISIL, the Greek financial crisis, drug trafficking, growing strains with Russia, closing the earnings gap in this country, and a truck load of other major economic and political problems. Is Ellison telling people that President Obama and politicians in Washington have put all those problems on the back burner so they can concentrate on Bastrop, Texas?  

            Just how paranoid are you Albert Ellison? How many enemies do you have that you and your friends have to arm yourself to the teeth? It is not Washington you should be afraid of; it is your neighbors who appear to be hell-bent on living in an armed world of self-aggrandizing paranoia. The Bastrop Republican party appears to be powered by a bunch of 40-watt appliance bulbs—that is the real threat to public safety and individual citizen’s rights.

            Ellison and his Texas friends are walking advertisements for the importance of spending on better education and mental health care.

Friday, June 19, 2015


 Since the shooting at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, approximately 142 have been killed or wounded on school grounds in the U.S. And those figures only scratch the surface of the total number of gun-related deaths in this country. Now, nine people have been gunned down at a prayer meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. The slaughter goes on.

Innocent people are mowed down in places of learning and houses of prayer; we wring our hands, cry, and pray. And, we do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of people who are a threat to themselves and others, terrorists, convicted felons, and domestic abusers. Our legislators cut funds for mental heath care despite the near unanimous opinion by mental health care experts that we could dramatically cut all crimes if we put a major effort behind improving mental health care.

No one ever speaks of the rights of people who have been murdered. Instead, the dialogue turns into a feeding frenzy of emotions hindering and not helping tackle the root causes of this violence. Sadly, in the case of the Charleston slaughter the root cause was racist hatred. I am at a complete and utter loss for words. I thought, as a nation, we had come so far, but I was wrong, so terribly wrong. We have so far to go.

The greatest nation in the world does not sit still while students are used for target practice by those who are threat to society; nor do the citizens of a great nation remain silent while people are murdered at a prayer meeting. Charleston has shown that demanding action on the part of our elected officials to help stop these massacres is an imperative.

Friday, May 29, 2015


I was interviewed by the American Military University Blog. If you would like to read the resulting article, here is the site:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Here is a link to Monday's interview on the Neal Steele show. Many thanks to Dave Carr for recording it and sending this to me.