Tag Archives: guns

Upon the Latest Shooting in America

People kill with guns they’ve stolen. People kill with guns they legally bought at a show with no background check. People kill with their parent’s legally purchased gun. People kill with guns after they went through a background check. People kill with guns given to them as presents. People kill with guns they’ve modified to shoot more and faster. People kill with guns using illegally large ammo clips. People kill with guns whether they are mentally ill or not, whether they have predetermined targets or not, whether they are familiar with the terrain or not, whether they have planned it for years or are shooting out of a temporary rage of emotion. People kill mothers with guns, they kill children in school, they kill elected officials, they kill people attending the movies, they kill people they believe have slighted them, they kill their classmates and their former workmates and they kill old women in their church basement. We pretend that policy can’t save us, but the truth is that policy has saved lives in other countries, and it would here, too.

There is no one safe from the muzzle of a gun in America, there is no good time to talk about the dead, because as soon as the NRA holds its mourning period for one shooting, another is just beginning. There are fifty-two weeks in a year on Earth, and we have just hosted our forty-fifth mass school shooting of 2015 (and 294th if you count all shootings involving four or more people). Please. If you want to see gun control, call your Congressperson today. And tomorrow. And Monday. Call them more than once. Call your Senators, both of them. Tell them: enough.

Here’s how to call your representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Here’s how to call your senators: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Remember, to own a dog you have to register the animal, telling the public health department where the dog resides, and ensuring you give your pet an annual rabies vaccination (there are no personal belief exemptions with this one). When we think about cars, which also account for more than 30,000 deaths a year in the US, we have collectively taken steps to reduce those deaths:

  • We regulate how cars are built, especially regarding safety design (seat belts, crash cages, placement of the gas tank, etc.)
  • We regulate how cars are driven (speed limits, road curve design, right of way laws, traffic lights, etc.)
  • We regulate how cars are maintained (inspection stations, emissions rules)
  • We regulate liability and insurance in case of an accident
  • We regulate who can drive cars (vision exams, age limits, license point systems, etc.)
  • We register every car to an owner and an address. The DMV databases are commonly used in police investigations and by crediting agencies.

And consider that deaths are something that sometimes happens with vehicle use. Killing is not the primary purpose of a car. Killing is the primary purpose of a gun. Do guns seem over-regulated with regard to other human activity that the government is compelled to oversee? Your answer should be “no.” Guns are not regulated as much as driving is, or educating our children is, or how our food is grown, or how our health care system is managed/delivered, or how our corporations’s finances are managed. All of these regulations are put in place in order to minimize harm to people and the world we live in, but for some reason the NRA would have us believe that regulating guns—and only guns—is a danger to America itself.

I dream of a day when we don’t buy that lie anymore. Please, give your elected officials a call and tell them to stand up to the NRA.

An Open Letter to America

IMG_5181I don’t understand us humans. No really, I don’t get it. Maybe I’m getting dumber in my middle age, but it could be that we really have stopped making sense. If Emile texted me while I was in a movie theater, I would totally text him back. And I would expect not to get shot just because I told my kid “hi” while I was away. Why can’t we have a respectful conversation about guns and gun control? Why don’t the rank and file NRA members stand up and say, enough is enough, there has to be a way to balance our Second Amendment rights and public safety? And why are we so unwilling to admit our mistakes and where our public policies have gone wrong? We agreed to make legal opiates available to the general public (in the form of Oxycontin and Percoset, etc.) knowing that some percentage of people would become addicted to them, and disabuse ourselves of a comprehensive program to help them out of addiction?

Why are we so willing to throw away people after they’ve made mistakes, imprisoning heroin and pot users, or devaluing individuals, like telling poor people we won’t give them food stamps, telling poor kids they should have to work for that free breakfast at school? Why didn’t we pass a background check law last year when 90 percent of Americans wanted it? Why are we okay when a natural gas company contaminates the drinking water for 300,000 people in West Virginia? Why are we not talking about the shooting of schoolchildren in Sandy Hook after Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, asked us to have a one-year moratorium which is now over? Why did we even have to entertain the notion of armed guards at every school in America? Read More…

The Persistence of Unreality

assault riflesNot only do we have vapid debates in America about which beer is better, which sports team is more fearsome than which other sports team, and the like, but in the wake of our nation’s latest mass shooting, in which 20 children under age 7 perished, now we debate about whether it’s appropriate to debate. Now is not the time, many people attested this weekend, to talk about gun control. Some folks threatened to “unfriend” others on Facebook if those people persisted in posting about mental health support or gun laws, saying that they were obviously making it about “political issues.” Never mind the idiom about the personal being political that’s been around for 40 years, perhaps there is a time for mourning and a time for reflection about what’s led us to these moments. I say moments because a 6-year-old died in the Aurora, CO shooting, a 9-year-old in the Tuscon, AZ shooting  of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and of course there are hundreds of kids under 14 killed by guns every year in the US that get next to no media coverage. But even when the guns in an incident were purchased legally, even when there is no long history of mental health instability, and even when the majority of victims are defenseless kids, some among us insist on sticking to the same talking points to defend the status quo. Let’s look at these talking points, and hopefully it’s okay, four days later, to start some kind of dialogue about gun violence and gun rights. If I get defriended on Facebook, so be it.

If we don’t have assault rifles, we won’t be able to prevent the government from becoming a fascist state–Let’s see . . . the Department of Defense carries a budget of more than $680 billion. Read More…

Hunting without a license

It’s funny what comes to mind when one says they used to live in Washington, DC, to someone who has never lived there. They tell me, almost like a reflex, that it’s the murder capitol of the country. I think the PR folks for Mayor Fenty need to get off their asses and come up with something, anything, else to replace this perception. Possible new mottos could be:

DC: 50,000 Lawyers Couldn’t Be Wrong — except, I guess, most folks don’t know that there are 50,000 lawyers working in the city. So maybe that one is out.

City of Monuments

Come for the Cherry Blossoms, Stay for the Slowly Flooding Metro

Okay, okay, so maybe “murder capitol” rolls off the tongue better than any of those. But hey, there was that recent Supreme Court decision to overturn the city’s ban on handguns, so perhaps a new campaign could focus on the pro-gun tourist. 

“Show the Murder Capitol Who’s Who!”

Or maybe not.

So I’ve started trying to figure out how to respond to these accusations that DC would have eventually killed me, either by terrorist attack, nuclear bomb, random violence, shock of the cost of living, or terrible traffic. And while many of those things could happen, that’s like chastising someone who lives in Florida as waiting around to die in a hurricane. Instead I think most initial responses are something like, “wow, do you miss the sun?”

Florida people, correct me if I’m wrong.

I’ve tried to tell people that the violence isn’t that bad, all told, that it’s pretty, has a lot of free museums and other cultural attractions, etc. And then they lean in, lower their voice so as to avoid Big Brother’s invisible gaze, and say, “and there are a lot of POLITICAL people out there.”

This is where I gasp and looked shocked.

“Political people, are you sure?” I’ve sometimes put my hand over my heart in an ironic pledge position, but really to suggest that my pulse may quit at any second. And then they of course realize I’m kidding.

This conversation, had about half a dozen times since moving, has been interesting and mildly amusing. But I didn’t expect to have it while trying to buy two new cell phones from my carrier this morning. I even got to see a permit to carry a concealed weapon (which frankly, I could have made myself with some plastic laminating sheets and my old Royal typewriter that I used to bang out bad short stories when I was a kid.

“Bet you won’t see this in DC, mister.”

He had me there. His point was that there would be many fewer violent attacks there if you weren’t sure if your intended victim was packing or not. I did not care to debate this with him, wanting only the nice shiny LG phones that would make it easier to text, and bring Susanne finally into the 21st century. Or even 1995, for that matter, since the woman has eschewed mobile devices until now. I just told him that I took care to stay in safe neighborhoods and not do anything stupid. Like pull a gun out of my pants to thwart some would-be mugger, only to have him wrest it from me and shoot me in the face. Because that would be my life if I had a gun. Or rather, the end of my life.

Nice to know, though, that certain people are carrying out here. They’re indebted to this Wild West thing. All I really want is a job.

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