OK, both extremes of the gun control fight are trying to use the tragedy in Virgina to their advantage. I'm hearing a lot of misinformation tossed arouond, so here is the data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics:


Thumbnail nonfatal firearm-related violent crimes chart, links to full chart Firearm-related crime has plummeted since 1993, then slightly increased in 2005.


Nonfatal firearm-related violent crimes, 1993-2005



Thumbnail Nonfatal firearm-related violent victimization rate chart, links to full chart Nonfatal firearm crime rates have declined since 1994, before increasing in 2005.

Nonfatal firearm-related violent victimization rate, 1993-2005



Thumbnail percent of violent crimes involving firearms chart, links to full chart After 1996, less than 10% of nonfatal violent crimes involved firearm.

Percent of violent crimes involving firearms, 1993-2005




  • According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) in 2005, 477,040 victims of violent crimes stated that they faced an offender with a firearm.

  • Incidents involving a firearm represented 9% of the 4.7 million violent crimes of rape and sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault in 2005.

  • The FBI's Crime in the United States estimated that 66% of the 16,137 murders in 2004 were committed with firearms.

    For more information about weapons used in homicide see:

    - Weapons Section of Homicide Trends in the United States

    - State and Local Homicide Trends and Characteristics in Data Online.

Weapon Use and Violent Crime, 1993-2001, 9/03. Discusses the nature and prevalence of violent crime by armed offenders, and the consequences to the victims, age 12 or older, from 1993 through 2001. NCJ 194820

Firearm Use by Offenders, 11/01. Describes firearm use of State and Federal prison inmates including types of firearms used, characteristics of inmates using firearms, why and where inmates used their firearms, and where they obtained their firearms. NCJ 189369.

Firearm Injury and Death from Crime, 1993-97 10/00 Reports on the incidence of fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries that result from crime. Most of the data presented are from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vital Statistics and the Firearms Injury Surveillance Study which collects data on injuries treated in hospital emergency departments. NCJ 182993

Firearm Injury from Crime: Firearms, Crime, and Criminal Justice, 4/96. Reports available statistical information from a number of sources on fatal and nonfatal firearm injury that results from crime. NCJ 160093

Weapons Offenses and Offenders: Firearms, Crime, and Criminal Justice-- Selected Findings, 11/95. Presents data on how the criminal and juvenile justice systems deal with weapons offenses (violation of statutes or regulations that control deadly weapons) and offenders from arrest through incarceration. NCJ 155284

Guns Used in Crime: Firearms, Crime, and Criminal Justice-- Selected Findings, 7/95. Provides information from several sources about the guns used by criminals. NCJ 148201

Federal Firearms-Related Offenses: Federal Offenses and Offenders, 7/95. Notes the association between firearms involvement and an increased severity of sentence as well as a more extensive criminal history for Federal prisoners. NCJ 148950

Guns and Crime: Handgun Victimization, Firearm Self-Defense, and Firearm Theft, 5/94. Provides estimates of the extent of handgun crime in the United States through 1992, as well as estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey of thefts of firearms and the extent of firearm use for self-defense. NCJ 147003

Firearms and Crimes of Violence, 2/94. This report summarizes selected findings on trends in firearm use in serious violent crime, based on FBI data on homicide, BJS data on victimization and inmate firearm use, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on firearm ownership by high school students. NCJ 146844

Bush Fear-Mongering Reaches Fevered Pitch In Iraq Speech In a speech this morning, President Bush again condemned Congress for failing to give him a blank check for the war in Iraq. Increasingly desperate, and facing broad public opposition, Bush tried his best to stir up fear with repeated references to September 11 and dark visions of “death and destruction…here in America” if U.S. troops were to withdraw:

They know that the enemies who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001 want to bring further destruction to our country.

One of the lessons of September the 11th is what happens overseas matters to the security of the United States of America.

…to fight the extremists and radicals where they live, so we don’t have to face them where we live.

…they won’t leave us alone — they will follow us to the United States of America.

The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America.

We’ll continue to do the hard work necessary to help change the conditions that caused 19 young men to get on airplanes to come and kill thousands of our citizens on September the 11th.

Enemies that could just as easily come here to kill us.

During a press conference today with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), retired Gen. John Johns responded: “You can listen to simplistic statements of the administration, appealing to emotion and fear, or you can take an analytical approach and see the reality of the world. I live in an entirely different world of reality than President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other members of the administration.” AmericaBlog has a video compilation from the speech, and the Carpetbagger has additional analysis.

My humble opinion on the gun law talk after Virgina I don't believe for an instant that someone as nutty as this killer would be hampered by a gun control law. Killing people is already against the law. Been that way for as long as anyone can remember. That doesn't seem to slow down people who want to kill.

Illegal drugs. Illegal porn. Illegal sex. Illegal weapons. Name it: They're all readily available and don't really cost all that much. If you want 'em, you can get 'em.

The attempt to tie the tragedy to a call for new gun laws is -- besides rudely ill-timed, opportunitistic and tasteless -- very much akin to the right wing nuts saying Islam is a violent religion. A few fanatics use Islam as a tool to create hate and violence, and the wingnuts blame the tool. A crazy man uses a gun as a tool to kill people, and we blame the tool. Both are wrong.

The real problem is the human penchant for violence and the frailty of the human psyche. But it's so much easier to blame the tool than to blame ourselves....

And, I'd bet, our focus on gun laws rather than our flaws is a harmful distraction, taking us away from things we might do that will actually help. Sort of the way racial profiling in the "war on terra" makes (some of) us feel better but actually distracts us and diverts resources from things that would actually make us safer.

All the guns laws we could ever dream up would not have stopped this madman or prevented this tragedy. Nor will they stop the next, or the next....

"The Democrats now have a staggering

30 point lead among those under 30.

Rove is getting his realignment."

--Andrew Sullivan Link

Why does WalMart hate America? $2.3 billion: The amount in state taxes that Wal-Mart, now the largest company in the world, appears to have skipped out on using corporate tax shelters.

How likely are you to be shot to death? " Ways to Go" chart based on the National Safety Council's Odds of Dying statistics. You're more likely to die from falling, killing yourself, getting in a car wreck, having a stroke, having cancer and having a heart attack. Heck, when you did into the data, you're even more likely to die from "accidental poisoning or exposure to noxious substances." http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm





(1) Diseases of the heart heart attack (mainly) 28.5% (2) Malignant neoplasms cancer 22.8% (3) Cerebrovascular disease stroke 6.7% (4) Chronic lower respiratory disease emphysema, chronic bronchitis 5.1% (5) Unintentional injuries accidents 4.4% (6) Diabetes mellitus diabetes 3.0% (7) Influenza and pneumonia flu & pneumonia 2.7% (8) Alzheimer's Disease Alzheimer's senility 2.4% (9) Nephritis and Nephrosis kidney disease 1.7% (10) Septicemia systemic infection 1.4% (11) Intentional self-harm suicide 1.3% (12) Chronic Liver/Cirrhosis liver disease 1.1% (13) Essential Hypertension high blood pressure 0.8% (14) Assault homicide 0.7% (15) All other causes other 17.4%

[Source: National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 53, Number 5 (October 2004)]

(Death: Final Data for 2002)

(For breakdowns by age, see Leading Causes of Death in the United States)

(For a National Safety Council chart expressing odds see Odds of Dying Statisitics)

Now he tells us Former CIA director George Tenet apparently is now saying that he never told the Bush administration that the case against Saddam's WMDs was a "slam dunk." One problem, though...

The rich get richer, and you get screwed “The tax burden in the U.S. is shifting away from the rich, to the point where in a few years it could change from being progressive to effectively flat, a new study shows.”

But, it's fall fake, right? The arctic north is experiencing some of the worst impacts of global warming. “Inuit hunters are falling through thinning ice and dying. Dolphins are being spotted for the first time. There’s not enough snow to build igloos for shelter during hunts.”

Stopping just short of saying "you people"... This has got to be one of the most egregious cases of digging yourself deeper that I've ever heard of. Tommy Thompson is speaking to a Jewish group and says:

"I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money," Republican hopeful and former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson said Monday. "You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition."

Okay, bad move. But one could imagine a recovery. But not like this:

After being made aware that his remarks were problematic, Thompson returned to the podium and told the several hundred activists assembled, "I just want to clarify something because I didn't in any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things.

"What I was referring to ladies and gentlemen is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. You have been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that and if anybody took what I said wrong, I apologize. I may have mischaracterized it. You are very successful. I applaud you for that.

But it actually gets worse:

During the speech, Thompson also called himself the governor of the first state to buy "Jewish bonds" -- presumably meaning Israel Bonds -- and said his friend who persuaded him to buy the bonds was also a big supporter of the "Jewish Defense League" -- probably meaning the Anti-Defamation League, not the militant group.

The JDL is something of a terrorist organization, for the record. See also Shmuel Rosner's thoughts. For the record, I'm much more inclined to put Thompson into the "morons" file than the "hates Jews" one, unless there's some kind of longer record out there.

News Items:

BLACKSBURG - A gunman massacred 32 people at Virginia Tech ... The bloodbath ended with the gunman committing suicide, bringing the death toll to 33.

BAGHDAD - In the northern city of Mosul, a university dean, a professor, a policeman's son and 13 soldiers died in attacks ... Nationwide, at least 51 people were killed or found dead.

04/15/07 Reuters: 19 bodies found in Baghdad on Saturday

Police found the bodies of 19 people in various parts of Baghdad in the past 24 hours, police said.

04/15/07 Reuters: 20 Iraqi troops and policemen abducted

A group linked to al Qaeda said it abducted 20 Iraqi troops and policemen and demanded the release of all Sunni women held in Iraq's prisons, according to a Web statement

04/15/07 Reuters: 4 killed by suicide bombers in Mosul

Four people, including two Iraqi soldiers, were killed and 16 wounded when two oil trucks driven by suicide bombers exploded outside a military base in the northern city of Mosul, police said.

04/15/07 AP: Suicide bomber kills 5, wounds 11 in northwest Baghdad

A suicide bomber blew himself up on a minibus in northwest Baghdad, killing at least eight people and wounding 11, police and hospital officials said.

04/15/07 AP: 37 die as car bomb hits near Iraq shrine

A car bomb blasted through a busy bus station near one of Iraq's holiest shrines Saturday, killing at least 37 people, police and hospital officials said.

Let's total the score: at least 65 Iraqis dead in four attacks vs. 22 Americans shot at Virginia Tech. Whoops, forgot the 20 kidnapped policemen. Can you imagine?

The next time you hear Dick Cheney or George Bush blame the public attitude regarding Iraq on the media's failure to report "good news", examine carefully our reaction to the shooting at Viginia Tech. Look at our collective shock. Our horrified reaction. The public sorrow. Yet, in truth, this is an exceptional, unusual day in America. It is not our common experience. But we cannot say the same about Iraq.

The people of Iraq are living in a Marquis de Sade version of Groundhog Day. It is like the Bill Murray movie--the same horrible day repeated with some new, bizarre twists--only not funny. Multiple body counts and explosions and shootings are the daily experience of the people of Iraq. They have been living this hell for four years. Just keep that fact in mind as you mourn the deaths of 22 American students slain in Blacksburg, Viginia.

Lying SOB In today's speech, Bush baselessly asserts that the troops want to stay in Iraq.

Lying SOB Part II I've written this post several times already. But as long as the president keeps fibbing, I'll keep writing it. The president says the Congress is substituting its judgment for that of the uniformed military. Not true. The uniformed military was against the surge. By most measures, it still is. The president disagreed so he fired the senior military leadership on the ground in Iraq and replaced them with people -- and there aren't that many of them -- who agreed with him.

Plain old SOB George W. Bush is like a brilliant limbo dancer: every time you think he's gone as low as any human being could possibly go, he goes still lower. Apparently he planned to delay the announcement of the extension of tours of duty in Iraq until he could blame it on the Congressional Democrats. Amazing! Notice that the delay in informing soldiers and their families which the Administration had planned, until someone in the Pentagon accidentally told the truth, would have had real-world consequences on the plans of real, live soldiers. National Guardsmen, in particular, who planned on going back to work by a particular date to catch up on their delinquent mortgage payments might have found out the truth only when it was too late to make alternative plans to save their homes. But none of them are Bonesmen, so who cares?

Corruption watch Bad news for Rep. Doolittle (R-CA). Former Doolittle staffer and Abramoff associate Kevin Ring abruptly resigns from current law firm gig. If the pattern holds, don't be surprised if you see Mr. Ring coming to an agreement with the government sometime soon. Last year, Neil Volz resigned from the same firm, Barnes & Thornburg, before coming to a plea agreement with prosecutors and helping bag former boss Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH). Here's a rundown at TPMmuckraker for why Doolittle's time seems to have finally come.

That is a very impressive number. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at 53% approval in the WaPo/ABC poll. That's even a decent number for a president. But the Speakership is an inherently partisan position -- a post far easier to villify than to mobilize around. By way of contrast, Newt Gingrich maxed out at 41% approval and spent most of his time in the thirties.

Today's Must Read: getting Alberto Gonzales' story straight.

Today's Must Read II: Kyle Sampson's private testimony to congressional investigators is bad news for the White House and Alberto Gonzales.

Lunatics on the air Conservatives are worried about the Don Imus firing because it's a "short leap from firing Imus to going after Rush Limbaugh." Dick Morris helpfully clarifies things by saying that:

I think there's a vast difference between humor that seeks to demean, or rhetoric that seeks to demean and issue positions that happen to be against the views of a certain community.

So racist jokes are bad but racist policies are A-OK? If the Right is going to do some soul searching about racism, conservative talk radio, and community standards, perhaps they might want to look at whether their policies make them sound like racist asses rather than brainstorming Newspeak replacements for the term "Fairness Doctrine".

Human Rights Groups: Defending Human Rights In today's New York Times alone you can find researchers with Human Rights Watch noted as important sources for articles on election fraud in Nigeria, and on Taliban War crimes in Afghanistan. Yesterday, we had HRW getting media play in an article on the violent suppression of a peaceful protest in Russia. And, of course, back on April 1 HRW was cited in a story about Guantanamo Bay.

In short, Human Rights Watch is, for better or for worse, fighting the good fight for human rights consistently and around the world. Nevertheless, the right has consistently tried to foster the impression that the human rights community's criticisms of US policies in Guantanamo and regarded detentions more generally are fostered by hostility to the United States. Such groups also stand accused of "ignoring" human rights violations in whatever country happens to be the right-wing's designated Enemy of the Month. In fact, however, both these strains of argumentation would only appear credible to people who didn't have any actual concern for human rights and therefore remained studiously ignorant of what actually goes on in the world and who does what to bring attention to it. People like, well, conservative hectorers whose interest in the subject extends precisely as far as it's useful to generate support for starting wars.

Bush's mouth The Washington Post says 58% of Americans trust congressional Democrats to do a better job than George Bush of handling the situation in Iraq:

The president has taken advantage of the congressional spring recess to pound Democrats over their legislation, which would impose benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, set strict rules for resting, equipping and training combat troops, and set a 2008 date for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops. Despite those efforts, Bush has actually lost a little ground to Democrats, who were trusted by 54 percent to set Iraq policy in February.

....Bush continued today to say victory in Iraq is pivotal to the larger war on terrorism, but Americans are increasingly siding with the Democratic view that the issues are separate. Some 57 percent now say the United States can succeed in the war on terrorism without winning the war in Iraq, a 10-percentage point increase since January, when Americans were almost evenly divided on the question.

This reminds me of the Social Security fiasco: every time Bush opened his mouth on the subject, polls moved in the opposite direction. Now the same thing is happening with Iraq. If he had any brains, he'd just shut up and try to ride it out. His mouth is his own worst enemy.

Not a good person... Via Scott McLemee, Phil Nugent delivers the first Don Imus rant that actually kept me semi-riveted all the way to the end. Here's a key bit:

The talk radio world, one that Imus worked hard to shape, is one where overpaid white guys who did well in the voting for the title of "Class Clown" at their respective high schools sneer at blacks, women, gays, what have you, in a dismayingly self-congratulatory tone.....I remember that when Howard Stern began a short-lived tenure of having his show broadcast in New Orleans, he held a press conderence, and one of the local reporters asked him how he would compete with the hilarious, daring wild man talk guy who was already doing a New Orleans morning show, and whose name escapes me. Stern, who'd clearly never heard the local guy's name, said something like, what's he do, like a Southern guy and a black guy and a gay guy, all the while doing high-school level impersonations of a drawling hick, a Stepin Fetchit type, and a nelly dude, which did indeed sound exactly like the local guy's repertoire of funny voices. I remember that the New Orleans reporter was stunned by this, and seemed genuinely unaware that there was some yokel doing the same basic act at some radio station in every city in America.

The whole thing is well worth reading, and deserves a spot in the New York Times, not an obscure blog. Nugent captures that revolting phenomenon, and the wider cesspool it comes from, better than anyone else I've read.

Anti-immigration cultural warriors: get a grip on reality Latinos in the U.S., including Latino immigrants, are secularizing as they assimilate, and are now as likely to report "no religion" as Americans with other ethnic backgrounds. That's eating into the political power of the Catholic church. The Speaker of the California Assembly, Fabian Núñez of Los Angeles, just told Cardinal Mahony to go fry ice (politely, but firmly) after Mahoney linked Nunez to "the culture of death" for supporting a "death with dignity" bill. As the Los Angeles Times story points out, the Church was all-powerful in the Latino community when prelates were the only high-profile Latino spokesmen. Now there are Latino Speakers and Mayors. Add this to the statistics on intermarriage, and it's very hard to see any rational basis for the fear that Latino immigration is going to give the U.S. the sort of bicultural headaches Canada or Belgium have. That's not the way this place works.

Speaking out

More than a dozen ministers and other religious leaders pressured the Legislature on Tuesday to expand the state's civil rights laws to offer new protections for gays and lesbians.

"Civil rights laws are designed to protect groups of people who have faced blatant and historic discrimination," said Carol Ryan Terrell, head of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa and Action Fund. "Civil rights laws do not give special protection to any person. They simply create a level playing field and guarantee the provision of tools necessary to fight and end discrimination."

A measure expanding the state's civil rights laws has already cleared the Senate but is stuck in the House with time running out in this year's session. The measure adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the law, banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The Rev. Michael Pater, senior minister at the Urbandale United Church of Christ, said much of the opposition to gay rights comes from conservative religious groups, and lawmakers need to know there is more than one point of view in the religious community.

"The only motivation to withhold civil protection from discrimination and harassment of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is religious bias," said Pater. "This bias does not serve the public good."

The measure probably won't pass the Iowa House; it's too difficult to find rural legislators willing to back it.

Can you believe these comments made by Family Resource Council Chairman Tony Perkins at the recent "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference.?He addressed the "problem" of Muslim immigrants to the US in a speech:

But Perkins’ invitation to rage was no mere commiseration of resentment; it was a call to action. He did, however, qualify his call.

“I am not here to call the church to partisan action,” Perkins explained. “I am not here advocating for a political party. I am here advocating for Christian citizenship.”

Lest any of the assembled miss the point, Perkins offered up the story of Phineas, grandson of Moses’ brother Aaron, from Numbers 25. Phineas was rewarded by God with an “everlasting priesthood” for killing an Israelite and his Midian lover because God had forbidden the mixing of the men of Israel with the women of that tribe.

The story is, essentially, the vindication of the criminalization of “miscegenation” — a sentiment consistent with Perkins’ past courting of such racist groups as the Ku Klux Klan and the Council of Conservative Citizens, America’s largest white supremacist organization, according to journalist Max Blumenthal. (Perkins bought, on behalf of political client Senator Woody Jenkins, a phone-bank list from former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.)...

“We read that Phineas arose and he took action…,” Perkins said.

“Not only is prayer required…I warn you that if you begin to pray for our nation that, at some point in time, you’re gonna be prayin’ and you’re gonna feel a tap on your shoulder and hear, ‘Son, daughter, I’ve heard your prayer; now I want you to do something about it.’”

Just in case his message should be misconstrued, however, Perkins offered this caveat: “Now, let me be clear, in case the media’s here,” he said, “I’m not advocating you go home and get a pitchfork out of your storage shed and run into your neighbor’s house.” Phineas, the Bible tells us, used a javelin.

Oh, and our favorite blonde hate machine was there too, inciting violence yet again.

As scary as this rhetoric is, it isn't as disturbing as the connections it makes between various groups. Ezra Klein notes that

Perkins isn't some lone nut who somehow wrested a microphone. The Family Research Council is a multimillion lobbying organization stated by James Dobson, and Perkins has turned it, and himself, into serious players. They were the primary sponsors behind Justice Sunday, which reached 61 million homes, and Perkins was the behind-the-scenes advisor to Tom DeLay and Bill Frist during the Schiavo saga.

Mainstreaming of hate, anyone? And in case you're not convinced, this is hate. Says the General to Perkins:

Sure there were others who preached the gospel of Phineas before you--good Confederate-Americans and heroes of the Heartland like Joseph Paul Franklin, Eric Rudolph, Byron De La Beckwith, Buford Furrow, and Paul Hill--but none of them had the kind of standing you have. You're the only person who has the ability and the will to take the Phineas Priesthood into the mainstream.

And just to underscore the point, the General gets a dissenting opinion from the Army of God's Donald Spitz in the comments. You can read more about him at the Southern Poverty Law Center site.

It is shocking and disgusting that a figure like Perkins would use rhetoric like this in a sanctuary. The God of Jesus Christ knows neither Jew nor Greek, nor does he sanction violence in the name of "family values". I'm not surprised, given Perkins' association with white supremacists. What's more of surprise is that mainstream conservatives are willing to seek the support of people like him.

Oh, wait. I'm no longer surprised by that, either.

Submitted by RKing on