(Depressing) map of the day

Via Vox.  Every school shooting since Sandy Hook:


Shootings at K-12 schools in red, at colleges/universities in purple. Everytown for Gun Safety/Mark Gongloff

The data comes from Everytown for Gun Safety, a recently formed gun control advocacy group. Everytown defines school shooting as “assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings” that take place “inside a school building or on school or campus grounds.” Huffington Post editor Mark Gongloff mapped Everytown’s data and tweeted it out.

I was commenting to my class today that I was surprised by the minimal coverage of the Oregon shooting yesterday.  I was thinking, hopefully, that maybe the media has realized that such extensive coverage of these shootings only encourages more shootings and really does far more harm than good.  On the other hand, I was thinking that these are so sadly commonplace that with just one true victim and no other particularly unusual details, news organizations just did not find this all that newsworthy.  Seeing this map, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

Seriously, only in America are we so dedicated to guns and 2nd amendment “rights” that it’s barely even newsworthy anymore when a teenager decides it’s time to shoot up his high school.

13 minutes to save the internet

This has been viral for a bit, but I finally got around to watching the John Oliver segment on Net Neutrality.  It is, indeed, pretty awesome.  You should probably watch it.

Photo of the day

A cool gallery of best Iphone photos of the year.  This was in 3rd place, but easily the winner in my book:


Photographer Jill Misner. More at IPP Awards.


Read a few interesting takes so far, best, I think, is Ezra’s.  A couple points I really liked:

“Republicans” are not the same as “Republican primary voters.” In 2012, Eric Cantor won the general election with more than 220,000 votes. Tonight, Brat beat him with about 36,000 votes. It’s possible and even likely that the vast majority of Republicans in Virginia’s 7th District liked Cantor just fine. But primaries only count the people who come out to vote…

The power of the Tea Party has never been the number of Republicans it defeated in primaries. The overwhelming majority of Republican incumbents running for reelection win their primaries without trouble. Rather, it’s been the prominence of the Republicans the Tea Party defeated that give the movement its sway. Dick Lugar, Mike Castle, and Bob Bennett. They were institutions. And Eric Cantor’s loss is a nearly anunprecedented event in American politics. These losses mean no Republican is safe. And that means that as rare as successful Tea Party challenges are, every elected Republicans needs to guard against them.

And when every Republican politician has to guard against them, the end-result is that, policy-wise, the Republican Party looks pretty much like the Tea party wants it to.

The dangers of owning a gun

Loved this column in the Guardian:

Academics such as John Lott and Gary Kleck have long claimed that more firearms reduce crime. But is this really the case? Stripped of machismo bluster, this is at heart a testable claim that merely requires sturdy epidemiological analysis. And this was precisely what Prof Charles Branas and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania examined in their 2009 paper investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault. They compared 677 cases in which people were injured in a shooting incident with 684 people living in the same area that had not suffered a gun injury. The researchers matched these “controls” for age, race and gender. They found that those with firearms were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot than those who did not carry, utterly belying this oft repeated mantra.  [emphasis mine]

The reasons for this, the authors suggest, are manifold. “A gun may falsely empower its possessor to overreact, instigating and losing otherwise tractable conflicts with similarly armed persons. Along the same lines, individuals who are in possession of a gun may increase their risk of gun assault by entering dangerous environments that they would have normally avoided. Alternatively, an individual may bring a gun to an otherwise gun-free conflict only to have that gun wrested away and turned on them.” …

The problem goes deeper than this, however. There’s good evidence that the very act of being in possession of a weapon has an unfortunate effect of making us suspect others have one too. This was shown in a 2012 paper by psychologists Prof Jessica Witt and Dr James Brockmole, where subjects were given either a replica gun or a neutral object and asked to identify the objects other people were holding.

Subjects in possession of a replica firearm were much more likely to identify a neutral object as a firearm. The erroneous assumption that someone else is armed can and does often end in tragedy.

Indeed, the evidence suggests the very act of being armed changes one’s perception of others to a decidedly more paranoid one. Other studies have shown an element of racial priming too, where a black subject is more likely to be assumed to be carrying a weapon…

LaPierre’s proclamation bears the hallmarks of a litany of misconceptions. Gun aficionados often frame the debate in terms of protection, but it is vital to realise that the vast majority of rape and murder victims are not harmed by nefarious strangers, but by people they know, and often love – friends, family members, lovers. Far from protecting people and keeping families safe, the sad truth is that firearms are often used in episodes of domestic violence.

Do guns sometimes prevent innocent people from harm?  Absolutely.  Is that benefit grossly outweighed by the harm that comes from easy and widespread gun ownership?  Beyond a reasonable doubt.

We’ve had a rash of shootings lately and I truly fear it is somewhat viral right now.  Every violent whacko wants to be the next violent whacko on the news.  And here in America we make it just crazy easy for violent whackos to get guns.  I’ll take a knife rampage anyday.  I’d like to think this litany of gun violence lately would make a difference, but in a country that seems willing to sacrifice school children with nary a policy change resulting, I’m not exactly getting my hopes up.

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