Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 8:48 pm | Fair 57º

Public Safety

Karen Telleen-Lawton: Yes, Guns Do Kill People (Part 1)

Why has it taken so long to get serious about a largely preventable problem causing an average of 36 U.S. deaths daily? School children, domestic violence crime victims and Americans going about their daily lives all succumb to bullets.

I believe this literal death spiral of public health and safety is the direct legacy of actions by the National Rifle Association.

The powerful lobby of the NRA generates myths and misinformation, promulgating these untruths using absurd amounts of cash to abort the will of the majority.

The Joyce Foundation is a Midwest-based nonprofit which analyzes current social problems and informs public policy decisions. They have gathered some of these myths, building a fact base to counter each.

Here are some of the common myths spread by the NRA:

» There is decreasing public support for policy solutions to curb gun violence.

» All we need to do is enforce the laws already on the books.

» Stand-your-ground laws are needed so citizens can defend themselves.

» Guns don’t kill people — people kill people.

» America’s gun laws don’t work.

» Gun ownership is on the rise, and guns are everywhere.

» If someone had a gun at the scene of a mass shooting, tragedy could have been prevented.

» The Second Amendment is a barrier to stronger gun laws.

If you visit the Joyce Foundation website, you’ll find ample evidence to refute each of these myths.

For instance, research shows 85 percent of Americans support expanding required background checks on all potential gun buyers. You’ll find existing gun laws have numerous gaps and loopholes but that federal enforcement action on guns has been shackled by the actions of the gun lobby.

Notwithstanding recent efforts to pass stand-your-ground laws, the right to self defense is a longstanding part of our common law.

In insisting on facts, you’ll find that it is not a hopeless cause to believe we can move beyond the senseless violence. Increasingly, we have the will and we can find the way.

One organization that just found that will is the National Basketball Association.

It’s not often that professional sports organizations lend their stars’ brand and prestige to public service ads, but the NBA has done just that, partnering an advertising campaign with the NRA’s upstart counterpart, Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS).

Although the phrase “gun control” is never mentioned in the ads, EGS, founded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, works at the federal, state and local level to expand background checks for gun buyers, strengthen penalties for gun trafficking and ban gun sales to people convicted of domestic abuse.

Another hopeful sign comes from Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who is challenging the gun lobby in California.

“Their home court is legislative chambers across the country,” says Newsom. “I think they’re very vulnerable in public. They can intimidate the politicians, but I don’t think they can intimidate the public.”

Newsom, who is planning a run for governor in 2018, proposes a statewide ban on possession — not just sales — of high capacity ammunition magazines and wants to require instant background checks for every ammunition purchase.

Maybe, just maybe, San Bernardino may challenge the apathy that has surrounded this issue for too long.

If these hopeful signs or the challenging myths inspire you to action, you’ll want to stay tuned for my next column, where I’ll present some of the solutions that are gaining traction.

— Karen Telleen-Lawton’s column is a mélange of observations spanning sustainability from the environment to finance, economics and justice issues. She is a fee-only financial advisor ( and a freelance writer ( Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of John Sener
John Sener
"I am known for tenacity, diligence, honesty, and sound decision making with the ultimate goal of closing every transaction to the satisfaction of all involved parties."

Full Profile >