4 Firefighters Shot Responding To A Fire; AMA on Gun Research Silence

Will Wayne LaPierre take to the Sunday chat shows calling for every fire truck in America to have an armed guard to protect our firfighters from being shot when responding to a fire?

On Christmas Eve. In Webster, NY:

A 62-year-old Webster man suspected of setting a trap that killed two firefighters and injured two others was previously in prison for beating his grandmother to death, according to law enforcement sources.

The dead are Lt. Mike Chiapperini, 43, a volunteer firefighter and the Webster Police Department’s public information officer, and Tomasz Kaczowka. Chiapperini led the fire department’s explorer program for high schoolers. Both men died at the scene. Kaczowka, in his early 20s, is also a 911 dispatcher.

William H. Spengler Jr., the man believed to be the shooter, was found dead outside the home where the shootings occurred, killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

@GunDeaths, partnering in a crowdsourced tally of the toll firearms have taken since Dec. 14, shows a dozen other gun deaths in America today.

Crowdsourced?

Slate says that the most recent years for which statistics are available for gun injuries and deaths from the CDC is 2008 and 2009.

Really?

Angry Bear highlights a report from The Journal of the American Medical Association, Silencing the Science on Gun Research, finding:

…in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.

To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

If the conversation shifts to mental health, I’m all for it. LaPiere on MTP:

We have a mental health system in this country that has completely and totally collapsed. We have no national database of these lunatics, the records are not even in the system.

I talked to a police officer the other day. He said, “Wayne,” he said, “let me tell you this. Every police officer walking the street knows s lunatic that’s out there, some mentally disturbed person that ought to be in an institution, is out walking the street because they dealt with the institutional side. They didn’t want mentally ill in institutions. So they put them all back on the streets. And then nobody thought what happens when you put all these mentally ill people back on the streets, and what happens when they start taking their medicine.”

We have a completely cracked mentally ill system that’s got these monsters walking the streets.

Law enforcement frustration around the lack of an effective mental health system is absolutely understandable. Today our prisons are our de facto mental health treatment facilities.

Institutions as they existed in the past — wherein we locked up and warehoused our fellow citizens with mental disabilities — were not the answer then and they are not the answer now. We must learn from the past and move forward.

The reality is that addressing our mental health problems will cost real money and require a real commitment. I wish we were as ready to make that commitment as we are to have gun-toting guards in every grade school.

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  • Willwright

    Well if schools need guards maybe they should be added to fire stations as well if you follow the NRA reasoning. Of course this could get expensive and the list of things needing guarding could grow. I guess we could just arm everybody and declare the USA a free fire zone. If anybody gives you a funny look just blast them, no questions asked or needed, sort of a Somalia that’s just more developed. The alternatives would require us to do something responsible in dealing with mental illness and guns. We certainly shouldn’t expect that as an outcome, the gun lobby has spend millions to put politicians in their pockets to prevent this from ever happening.

  • dduck

    Waiting to hear details and the how he acquired the weapon(s) used in this latest.

  • Jim Satterfield

    I would have to disagree that an institution is never the answer, Joe. There are those extremely disturbed individuals that we just do not know how to cure. There are also those who just refuse to stay on the medications that could prevent them from being a danger to themselves or others. I think a system where an institution would be available while someone becomes acclimated to their medications or might have to be “sentenced” to if they repeatedly quit taking their meds and did something criminal might be appropriate. The most important thing when coming up with a system, though, is to learn from what went wrong in the past and make the necessary funds available for them to be run properly.

  • http://wiredpen.com KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst

    Thanks, Joe – I was hoping someone would do something like this:
    crowdsource shooting data at Slate.

    Edited to add:
    I truly cannot fathom the action or the pain the families are going through.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    This, beyond tragic. Ever the majority of muni firefighters and volunteer firefighters are exceptional people dedicated to service, often far beyond fighting fires also. Often the men and women are the pride of their community. I am … there’s a word maybe but I cant find it, I have to make it up… sadgrim-hardenedinresolve.

    Wayne la Pierre. I dont even know what to say about a person so out of touch.

    Jim Satterfield, I’d agree with. A system of containment that is not prison, is needed. The past warehousing of human beings was done, and predators hired in institutions because of several factors. After Christmas, having long memory of these ‘institutions’ from study in my profession, I’ll try to detail what went wrong, what can go right, so people are treated with decency within holding, and people who are free can live unmolested.

    Again, peace and comfort, may these be given to the families of the firefighters who were killed, and to those injured, which also includes an off duty police officer who was injured by flying shrapnel

  • sheknows

    The really insane aspect of all this is that the politicians CAN be bought by a gun promoting organization of paranoids. What does that say about us, the voters?

    Which is the greater sin…to be bribed and accept blood money, or to look the other way while our elected officials do it?

  • dduck

    Yes Virginia there are crazy New Yorkers with easy access to guns and this is not the time to make it any easier for them.

  • ShannonLeee

    It is too bad that Oprah is no longer on…

    “you get a gun and you get a gun and YOU get a gun!!! Everyone gets a gun!”