If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Guns in America

I had planned a different blog for today, but tragic events require that I speak out on one aspect of why I believe the United States needs to rethink its policies toward guns, how we speak of gun violence, what we consider to be acceptable for society.

From a Wikipedia Article the United States in 2014 had a death rate per 100,000 of population of homicides by firearm (excluding suicide) of 3.43. Canada, our neighbor to the north, had a rate of 0.38 (or roughly 11% of ours). Australia’s rate is 0.16 (about 5% of ours). The United Kingdom’s rate is 0.06 (1.7% of ours). Four countries sharing many of the same founding principles, yet we have from nine to fifty-seven times more homicides by firearms.

Why? One clear reason is because we have more guns available to kill people with. According to a Washington Post article, we have approximately 270 million guns in the U.S. or 88.9 guns for every hundred people (including babies and those in nursing homes). Canada has 30.8 guns per hundred people. Australia has 15 per hundred people; England has 6.2 per hundred people.

The number of guns we have per capita perhaps explains some of our “excess” homicides compared to others, but not all of it. In Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun Geoffrey Canada describes growing up in the South Bronx in the 1950s and 1960s. The title proclaims the progression of weapons used growing up. Each trumps the other in its effectiveness – and ultimately in its ability to take life. Canada says of his youth, “The first rules I learned on Union Avenue stayed with me for all of my youth. They were simple and straightforward. Don't cry. Don't act afraid. Don't tell your mother. Take it like a man. Don't let no one take your manhood.”

Over the last fifty years too many people in the United States appear to have accepted this lesson as their own, and the gun has become the final arbiter of disagreement.

Per Wikipedia, in the U.S. in 1969 there were 26.4 deaths per 100,000 of population from automobile accidents. In 2014, the rate had reduced to 10.25, a reduction of over 60%. How did this happen? Largely because we regulate automobile safety. We require people to pass a driver’s test before we grant them the right to drive. We require people to wear safety belts. New vehicles must have air bags, crumple zones to absorb the impact of collision, etc., etc.

It costs us money to invest in these safety measures, but no one has to own a car, and if you choose to own one, you must agree to follow certain rules.

With guns, as long as you meet a minimum age requirement, you can own one. (Yes, there is a required background check, but not if the sale occurs at a gun show or is through a non-dealer transfer.) No test requires you to demonstrate you know how to safely handle the gun. There are no speed limit equivalents (i.e. how rapidly you can fire bullets). There is no registration of guns. There is no insurance required  in case the gun is involved in an “accident.” Owners of guns are not held liable when one that is supposed to be under their control is used improperly. (Concealed carry permits do typically require training.)

Why? Because individual citizens have the right to “keep and bear arms” under the second amendment of the constitution. . . since 2008 when the “individual rights theory” supplanted the 
“collective rights theory.” The second amendment is short and reads:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
In 1939 in The United States vs. Miller, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could regulate the interstate sale of sawed-off shotguns since evidence did not suggest that the shotgun “has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia . . . .” In 2008 in a 5-4 decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller, the Supreme Court used an original intent argument to declare individuals, not collective states, had the right to keep and bear arms. However, they allowed the United States vs. Miller effect to stand because there was no legal reason for a citizen to own a sawed off shotgun.

To wrap up, here is my short list of proposals to begin to curb gun violence in the U.S., while recognizing neither Obama, nor Clinton or Trump is likely to allow me to be the deciding vote to overturn the latest Supreme Court rulings on guns.

1.     Register all guns, just as we do cars.
a.     Require a test bullet for each registered gun
b.     Maintain a database of all test bullets for use by federal, state and local police
2.     License gun owners – they must pass a safety test for the types of weapons they own
a.     Because there will be a cost to this, publically fund the education sessions
b.     Provide the license without fee (pay for it with a small transaction tax on future gun sales – similar to the way Departments of Natural Resources across the country are funded by fishing and hunting licenses).
c.     Licenses must be renewed periodically, and may be revoked based on behavior (anything that would currently reject someone during the background check, plus other reasons governments may determine (such as being included on the no-fly list).
3.     Make all assault rifles illegal
a.     Once they were illegal in the U.S., but they no longer are
b.     Ask Michael Bloomberg to fund the purchase of current weapons at a fair price
4.     Limit magazines for semi-automatic weapons to whatever is needed for hunting purposes
5.     Should a state decide to sponsor a militia (as contemplated under the constitution), require the state to furnish the weapons and ammunition to the militia when they are in training or on duty, and store same when drilling/duty is not active. (That was a requirement in some colonies before the Revolutionary War.)
6.     Hold weapons owners liable for the use of their weapon in an accident or crime. When the weapon is not under the personal control of the owner, it must be locked in a secure safe.

These changes would allow citizens to own guns for hunting, target shooting, personal protection, etc. However, they would hold the individual responsible for the safety of others from unintended gun use.

Criminals will continue to be criminals, but these common sense (at least to me!) changes would help protect all of us from the quick acceleration of angry response from words to gun violence. They would make individuals consider both their rights and their responsibilities for guns. Over time—and it will take time to change our mentality—we can move back to a more civil society.

~ Jim


Grace Topping said...

The situation is so sad--so much of it being driven by fear. People's fear that they need to have a gun to protect themselves, fear that with gun control only criminals will have guns, fear by police officials that someone is going to pull a gun on them resulting in knee-jerk reactions, fear, fear, fear. With so much fear and distrust, I don't know if the problem can ever be solved.

Jim Jackson said...

Grace - Fear is certainly an issue, but so is insanity as defined by Einstein: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Warren Bull said...

Another issue is the type of bullet used. Why do hunters and target shooters need armor-piercing rounds? The sole purpose of that ammunition is to kill people wearing protective gear such as the police.

Jim Jackson said...

Warren, you'll get no disagreement from me about armor-piercing ammunition.

Margaret Turkevich said...

It's all come to a head: racism, economic prejudice, disparity in public education, coupled with the unbelievable ease of buying weapons. I've wondered since last fall if we were headed into another summer like 1968.

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I so agree with you, and Warren. I can not understand why anyone not in the armed services would need an assault rifle. Maybe swat teams with the police force, but they should be totally outlawed. I can't believe after Sandy Hook and the other horrible mass shootings that we can't get a law passed that would go along with what you listed. It has to be both because of politics and the NRA, and the gun industry.

And then there are the children who get a hold of a gun and either shoot themselves or someone else by accident.

I live alone and have never had a gun, nor would I want one. I'd be more afraid of owning one. My son has guns, but he used to be a hunter as is his step-son, but both of them keep their guns locked up. To my knowledge neither one of them carry a gun.

Grace is right, too. A lot of it has to do with fear, and unfortunately that fear is being promoted largely to keep the gun market profitable, in my opinion.

Shari Randall said...

Your plan is reasonable and thoughtful which is why it will never fly. People don't make decisions based on facts anymore. Sorry to sound so jaded but I feel like the world stopped making sense after Sandy Hook happened and our lawmakers failed to make any change in gun laws.

Jim Jackson said...

Margaret - This does have some of the same feelings as the late sixties, but I wonder if it is more similar to the late 1800s with the anarchists, or maybe even the antebellum period.

Gloria - I think the NRA's power is a symptom of larger problems where we have granted corporations all the same rights as citizens except the actual ability to vote (which they don't much need when they can so strongly influence the politicians' votes on legislation).

Shari - Only by not giving up can change be effected. It is prudent to be jaded because past results warrant skepticism. but that does not mean we should not keep fighting for what we believe to be a better way.

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I think you're right about that. Hopefully some day those rights will be reversed.