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May 23, 2011

Man Who Lost Son to Gun Violence Responds to Cruelty with Grace and Dignity

Recently, The Bay Citizen featured a wonderful article about gun violence survivor Griffin Dix. Tragically, Griffin lost his 15-year-old son Kenzo to gun violence in 1994 when his 14-year-old friend accidentally shot him. The boy invited Kenzo over to his house and was trying to show off his father's Beretta 92 Compact L handgun. He had removed the ammunition magazine, but wasn't aware a round was still in the chamber of the handgun. When he pulled the trigger a round fired and penetrated Kenzo's heart, killing him.

The article was upbeat, noting that, "Griffin has helped transform the dialogue about guns in California from being centered on Second Amendment rights, as it was 20 years ago, to one focused on personal tragedies and consequences."

Sadly, however, pro-gun activists have used the Comments area on the web version of the article to post unbelievably crude personal attacks against Griffin.

A pro-gun activist using the screen name "Tom P" initiated the attacks, telling Griffin:

I know it is not desirable in our society to attack victims, but I see so many things wrong with this situation that I have to do just that. As a parent, you have a responsibility to teach your children how to deal with dangerous situations, all of them. I'm guessing you're probably not a gun owner and never have been. Because your child was not around firearms in your household, you probably felt it was not neccessary to teach your son what to do should he ever encounter a firearm. That is pure and simple stupidity on your part ... It's your kind of simple minded thinking that causes these tragedies to occur. You cannot go through life ignoring facts just because you don't agree with them ... It saddens me to know that someone with your lack of depth of thought has been responsible for educating our young people. I'm thinking it's more likely than not that you're just another one of the thousands of 'educators' who pursued that career for the long vacations, decent pay and guaranteed pensions.

Tom P wasn't done though. He added, in a superfluous comment seemed designed to purely injure, this thought: "I see no sign that you take any responsibility for preparing your son for the dangers of this world. You need to get past your grief, own up to your own responsibility of not teaching your son and move on."

Next up was a pro-gun activist going by the screen name "W W." About Griffin, he commented, "He needs psychiatric help..He has become hoplophobic and concentric ... So Griffin Dix you failed as a father seek help and get over your grief...I feel for you...SEEK HELP."

Griffin's response to this, however, is what stands out the most. In the face of these vile attacks on himself and his son, he was both gracious and dignified, writing:

Thanks for the comments. In answer to a few who assumed that my son was playing with a gun, he was not. The friend he was visiting—without telling my son—went and got the gun which his father kept loaded and unlocked next to his bed for "protection." The boy thought he had unloaded the gun when he took out the loaded magazine. Then he walked back upstairs to the room where my son was, walked in and, as a childish joke, pulled the trigger. My son’s friend made a bad mistake; kids sometimes do that. They shouldn’t; but they do. If the gun had a prominent chamber-loaded indicator, the boy, when he had shot this gun with his father at the shooting range, would have seen the indicator pop up red right in front of his face whenever a bullet was put into the chamber and disappear when the round was fired. The boy would have been able to tell easily when a bullet still remained in the chamber. It is up to parents and the entire community of adults to see to it that the foreseeable mistakes of a kid do not result in a death. I am interested in preventing this kind of thing from happening ... The father of my son’s friend believed he had to store the gun loaded and unlocked because there was no other way to have the gun instantly available for use. But guns could be designed so that they can be stored safely and be available very quickly. However the gun industry resists these designs and keeps trying to put all of the blame on the gun owner (their customer) over and over and over every time. Of course the gun owner is at fault. But under the product liability laws of most states if there is foreseeable misuse of a product, the product must be designed to minimize the harm. Firearms sold to consumers could be more safely designed and still be available. This is not a "battle against guns" so much as a battle for better guns—more safely designed guns.

There's not a day that goes by that we at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) fail to be inspired by the courage and decency of gun violence survivors.

Griffin Dix is certainly one of them.

May 18, 2011

Meet a Pro-Gun Activist: Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann is a pro-gun activist who loves to keep in touch with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). A former paratrooper, Hofmann became active in the gun rights movement after being paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. He is the author of the blog "Armed and Safe" and also the "St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner" with Examiner.com.

Few Americans are as passionate about "Second Amendment remedies" as Hoffman. He is the quintessential spokesman for the National Rifle Association's radical view that the amendment guarantees individuals the right to shoot and kill government officials when they deem our government has become "tyrannical." This "insurrectionist idea" has become the foundation of the modern pro-gun movement.

Hofmann does not beat around the bush, getting to the point immediately in his Twitter header:

The quote from libertarian author Claire Wolfe that Hofmann is referring to is: "America is at that awkward stage; it's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."

Recently, Hofmann has been agitated and fearful of 2010 data from the General Social Survey that shows that gun ownership in the United States is continuing to decline. In 1977, 54% of American households had a gun. Last year, that number was down to 32%. In a blog on April 29, 2011, Hofmann told our elected officials what would happen if they tried to enact new gun violence prevention laws:

If gun owners are indeed a minority in the U.S., so what? Does being in the minority make one's rights less worthy of defending? ... Promoting the notion that we live in a society where the majority rules, meaning that 51% can legitimately vote away the fundamental human rights of the other 49%, fits right into CSGV's agenda... Here's a hint, though: there are still enough of us to defend our rights, and forgetting that would be bad news for everyone involved--but worse news for those who forget than for those who are forced to remind them.

In the last line above, Hofmann links to a blog authored by Mike Vanderboegh, the former Alabama militia leader who famously ordered his readers to "Break their windows. Break them NOW" in response to health care reform legislation in March 2010:

Sadly, many responded to this call for vandalism and violence, and offices of Democratic Members of Congress across the country were attacked. One of those offices was that of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), presaging a greater act of violence to come in Tucson.

The blog that Hofmann linked to was an essay by Vanderboegh entitled, "What is a Three Percenter?" It reads as follows:

During the American Revolution, the active forces in the field against the King's tyranny never amounted to more than 3% of the colonists ... The Three Percent today are gun owners who will not disarm, will not compromise and will no longer back up at the passage of the next gun control act. Three Percenters say quite explicitly that we will not obey any further circumscription of our traditional liberties and will defend ourselves if attacked. We intend to maintain our God-given natural rights to liberty and property, and that means most especially the right to keep and bear arms. Thus, we are committed to the restoration of the Founders' Republic, and are willing to fight, die and, if forced by any would-be oppressor, to kill in the defense of ourselves and the Constitution that we all took an oath to uphold against enemies foreign and domestic ... We will not disarm. You cannot convince us. You cannot intimidate us. You can try to kill us, if you think you can. But remember, we'll shoot back. And we are not going away. Your move.

One would think that Hofmann and Vanderboegh would appreciate the fact that our system of government allows them to threaten elected officials repeatedly with relative impunity (right up until that critical threshold of calling for specific acts of violence against individuals). But then again, what Hofmann and Vanderboegh are doing has absolutely nothing to do with freedom or patriotism. By institutionalizing treason and making it a point of pride, the pro-gun movement has demonstrated how completely out of touch it is with both our Founders and modern-day America.

"The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government .. Your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and...the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other."

- George Washington, from his Farewell Address

May 17, 2011

Pro-Gunners Fantasize About Rape of Wisconsin Woman and Daughter

Today, we share a disturbing story about two Wisconsin pro-gun activists: Sean Hobena, who goes by the sophomoric alias "Harrold Nutczak," and Madison dentist Jay Brendemuehl. Hobena is the owner/chef of The Rib Guy in Minocqua, Wisconsin.

Posting on a Facebook page entitled "Wisconsin Anti Violence Effort LIES," Hobena shared an article about a serial rapist in Milwaukee and then speculated with Brendemuehl about the potential rape of WAVE Executive Director Jeri Bonavia and her college-age daughter. The Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) "is Wisconsin's only statewide grassroots organization solely dedicated to reducing gun violence, injuries and deaths."

First, Brendemuehl commented about the story regarding the serial rapist by writing, "Jeri might change her mind [about advocating for tougher gun laws] if she were to get victimized..."

Hobena then responded, "Even though I hate to hear of anyone being a victim of violent crime, as much as I despise Jeri, I still would not wish that upon her or her daughter. Maybe a close-call will open their eyes to reality without either of them getting injured?"

Why pro-gun activists would possibly think it appropriate to make such comments about a mother and her daughter is beyond imagination.