Friday, July 08, 2016

This Isn't Working

This has been building for some time now. It seems that some of us are much more aware of the existence of the problem than others. This of course causes me to wonder first of all, why? Second, it makes me wonder what it will take for these people that  cannot see or do not want to accept the problem we have has reached a crisis point.

There are all kinds of statics that should be screaming at us.  The fact that every day 90 some persons die as a result of firearms. Some of these in the commission of crimes. An increasing number are mass shootings of innocent persons. Sadly, a growing number are youngsters dying at their own hands or because of someone else's negligence. We should not have to simply accept the number of  children who gain access to a gun and shoot themselves, there little sister, or their mother in the back as she drives down the road because mom kept a loaded handgun in her purse in the back seat of the car.

Yesterday, 5 Dallas police officers were killed by  a person or persons using high capacity weapons and another seven were wounded. The two previous days, officers discharged their  weapons in two other cities striking  and killing  black males in tragic shootings. In both instances it said that the two victims were carrying guns. One was pulled by police from the victims pocket after  he was shot and killed. The other is said to have advised the officer that  he had a permit  and had a gun in the glove box. These two incidents will be investigated by the Department of Justice, and I'm certain they the events will be subject to much scrutiny, as well they should be. The one thing  that is certain is that they will not be the last.

America has a death rate by guns far and above other civilized societies. It actually  exceeds some third world countries that are racked with violence. Our nation has a gun problem. It is made worse because we have become culturally dependent upon guns.Yes, there is really no more accurate way to put it than we as a nation have a fetish for and an addiction to guns.

For the time being let's set aside hunters.  For the most part, hunters have a real respect for their firearms. It may sound like a generalization, but  hunters are often among the most responsible firearm owners. But things get a little more dicey after that. For  years,  man gun owners  kept  guns at home basically  for  protection in the home setting.  While gun ownership has become prolific over the years, there also became growing  movement to carry weapons in public. We saw the emergence of concealed carry laws in various states with permits required. This changed to include "open carry" and state after state the legislatures ripe with  members whose campaign coffers were filled by the NRA and other  gun lobbies were only  so happy to oblige and began even kicking  away required permits and required training  classes.

I could go on  with a lengthy  account of  public shootings just this year, that were not  a part of any criminal action but simply a product of  irresponsibility, unfortunate accident, negligence or  just plain stupidity.  I will spare you  a complete list,  but these are a few off the examples that have actually  happened and have been reported on this year:

  • Several instances of  children from three to six years of age that  found a firearm loaded in the floor under the seat  of their parents car or in a purse.  I a least  three incidents that  I recall since the first of the year, these children in the process of handling the loaded weapon discharged it and in each instance manager to strike the driver in the back.  The makes me wonder how may were discharged that  missed hitting someone? It also begs to ask where the loaded guns were in their reach, and why the hell weren't the buckled in car seats?  
  • A teacher  carrying  dropped her gun while sitting on a toilet, ricocheting and striking herself in the ankle. 
  • A Woman who dropped her purse while checking out at the doctor's office and her handgun discharged, bullet traveling  through wall and striking another person in an exam room. 
  • A kid reaching in his dad's jacket pocket and discharging a gun at McDonald's in line striking anther patron.
  • Child reaching in mom's purse at Walmart and discharging a loaded handgun killing  the mother. 
There kinds of things are happening  daily. They are a part of that  90 plus gun deaths a year and even more wounded. How safe are you in a public eating establishment with people (well meaning as they may be) all around you with  guns? 

There are few statics related to gun ownership that do not paint a disparaging picture for gun ownership.   Death of women by domestic abusers skyrocket when guns are in the home. An intruder is more likely to use the gun on the homeowner. The incidence of successful defense with a gun in a situation where you are confronted with another armed person is almost a myth. 

For the most part, we all seem to be aware of these these things.  But our gun culture has a strange historical twist. In the olden days, people strapped their gun on their hip and went about  doing their business in public. Have you ever wondered why that stopped?  Why instead of that simply  being an American continuum, we stopped that practice and states and municipalities enacted laws that put an end to that practice? 

In the 1950's the NRA was largely an organization with a membership of mostly hunters.  In those days the NRA was actually out  front  in opposing high power weapons and on record of supporting  gun education. But that changed...   From those days we saw increased gun ownership and a trend to buying  hand guns for protection in the home.  Perhaps if that were still the primary use of guns, we would not be in this period of  gun death epidemic. The NRA changed and was radicalized and became less an organization for the hunter membership and a lobby to for the gun industry. A significant  number of our public officials were willing  to sell themselves like whores to the NRA to do their bidding. They have chipped away at  most of the laws aimed at  making sure that  criminals do not have easy  access. That  most anyone, even persons with mental health histories have easy access to guns. They stripped away  regulations about carrying them in public and they have taken us back to the days of the old west. 

The gun industry is a $13.5 Billion industry and that industry is all too happy to buy  votes in Congress and state general assemblies. 

The biggest fear propagated by the NRA is that  the government is going to come and confiscate your guns from you. They have been saying President Obama was going t do this for 7 and a half years now. He doesn't have much time left. 

Let's be honest. That was never going to happen. But  there are serious "responsible laws" that  can be enacted to make America safer from Gun violence. Universal Background checks -  closing loopholes for gun shows and private sales. Everyone - gets a background check. Persons on Terrorist Watch lists should be restricted. And yes, it is time to role back the massive amount of guns on persons out in public. We don't need millions of guns in the public sector on a daily  basis. Of of  persons with proper training and registration are going to carry they should be required to carry special liability insurance to cover  against loss of  life of  quality of  life in an accident.  You and your  family . should not  be at rick by someone who accidentally discharges a gun and kills or seriously injurers to the point that the victim and his/her family  has enormous medical bills and loss of  income and the person responsible has no viable means on their own to be held liable. 

We also need to say no to military style weapons in civil society as well as large capacity ammo drums or  clips. 

I've heard people say that  owning guns is a God given right - and say it with a straight face. I don't recall anything about it in the bible. I have had people tell me that  the U.S. Constitution was the word of  god. I believe that is a stretch. But to the point of the 2nd Amendment, the federal courts have clearly  indicated that this does not  preclude the state from making exceptions to ownership rights. Clearly  there was a day  when governments - federal, state, and local took the position that less guns strapped on a persons waist  in  public was prudent. We've had a taste of the opposite now and it is a bitter poison. 

Monday, July 04, 2016

We Are America....

Sometimes I think about the difference between being American by birth and American by choice. Being American by birth I can only imagine what it is like to come to this place in life by choice.  The closest example i can identify with would maybe to be a convert to a religion that was not your of your family and upbringing. It must mean seeing something  that may not be obvious to those who reached this point by birth.

However we have come to be American, it's important to realize we are all equal in our American Nationality. One way or the other, unless we are American Indians, we have roots to somewhere else. Maybe by way of our parents, grandparents, their  parents or even further back, but we are a nation of great diversity and I believe that is one of the great strengths of this country. The American experience is multi-cultural, and that  can only  enrich us all.

Happy & Safe 4th of July!