What James Madison Would Think Today …

Another mass shooting in California yesterday.  Two in three days.  Today is the 24th day of the year 2023 and we have had 38 mass shootings in the United States already this year.  There have been 2,790 gun deaths thus far (as of 12:30 a.m. on January 24th), 21 of them children under the age of 11*.  So naturally, those of us who care, those of us who are not gun worshipers, are distraught.

I’ve often wondered how horrified the Founding Fathers would be if they came back to life today and saw the muckety mess we’ve made of the nation they established.  A year or so ago, our friend Roger introduced me to News Thump, a British satire website that had this very timely post today. I thought it hit the mark.


I meant the ‘right to bear arms that existed in 1791’, clarifies angry James Madison

By Andrew

Following another mass shooting that has left 10 dead in Monterey Park in California, author of the Second Amendment, James Madison, has angrily spoken out from beyond the grave to insist he meant the ‘right to bear arms that existed in 1791’.

The Second Amendment to the US Constitution is one of the most contentious parts of the US Bill of Rights, and Madison has finally seen enough bloodshed to necessitate an intervention in ongoing policy debate.

Speaking through a qualified medium just outside Las Vegas, he said, “Let me be clear about this – the pro-gun lobby really pisses me off.

“And trust me, I’ll tell the pro-gun lawmakers exactly that, right to their faces when they eventually get here – which if they keep misinterpreting my intentions could well be a lot sooner than they think.

“The fact that I wrote the amendment in 1791 should be an absolutely massive hint as to my intentions regarding assault rifles and powerful semi-automatic handguns, don’t you think?

“I was perfectly happy for people to have a muzzle-loaded single-shot musket for home protection – 1791 America was a dangerous place. Not a ‘Disney is too woke for my kids’ dangerous, I mean actually not made up hallucinated dangerous.

“But I was safe in the knowledge no one was ever going to go on a killing spree, as they’d have to be within ten feet of you to be sure of hitting you, and would need a couple of minutes or so reloading their musket before having another go.”

Madison also explained his dismay at the use of his words to promote weaponry he could not even have conceived of back in 1791.

He continued, “A rifle capable of firing dozens of bullets in just a few seconds, which can be reloaded even more quickly, kills reliably from hundreds of yards away and is available in every shopping mall to any unstable moron that wants one? Jesus H Christ, are you people mental?

“I suppose in fifty years’ time you people will be claiming it was my intention all along that every American should have the right to carry a laser capable of slicing you into pieces from a mile away?”

Pro-gun lobbyists have reacted angrily to Madison’s outburst, insisting he clearly doesn’t have the first clue about what he meant when he wrote the Second Amendment all those years ago.

An NRA spokesperson said, “How dare he tell me how to decide what he meant by telling me what he meant?

“What gives him the right to speak out about the intention of the words he wrote down himself, which I have subsequently decided to interpret in support of my pro-gun arguments?

“No, I think I know much better than James Madison what James Madison intended.”


*
  Data per Gun Violence Archive

DAMMIT!!! 🤬

Wednesday, 1:30 a.m.

1:30 this morning, I had just finished my music post and was getting ready to put it on the schedule for the usual time, 11:00 a.m.  Suddenly my phone went mad with a knock-knock here and a knock-knock there.  Being nearly deaf, my notification sound is a sharp knock, which I can hear much better than any tone.  Usually, it is silent at 1:30 in the morning, so I knew something was up.  Sure enough … three notifications from The Guardian, The Washington Post, and the New York Times informing me that a gunman had shot and killed multiple people in a Wal-Mart store in Virginia.

GODDAMMIT PEOPLE!!!!  Two days before Thanksgiving and people cannot even go buy a damned turkey or some sweet potatoes without getting killed???  We the People … our damned lives are less important to the members of Congress we pay to protect us than the profits of the damned gun industry?

As I pound the keyboard, hitting as many wrong keys as right ones, my loving cat Oliver, sensing my distress, hops onto my lap and using his paw, gently pulls my left hand away from the keyboard.  Whoever called them ‘dumb animals’ was dead wrong … they’re a hell of a lot smarter than we humans are.

Having spent a few minutes patting Oliver and chatting with him, my tears have dried and I am now somewhat calmer … at least I’m hitting the right keys now!  By the time I resume this post later today, hopefully there will be some details, but already … barely 3 hours after the massacre, Wal-Mart management is sending useless ‘thoughts and prayers’ just as most of our elected officials who cannot be bothered to take guns out of the hands of lunatics will be doing by this afternoon.  The latest from the BBC is that they think it may have been the store manager who opened fire, but … don’t worry, folks, for a Wal-Mart corporate executive said that the company is “shocked by this tragic event.”

On that note, I shall switch gears, pat Oliver a bit longer, have a piece of cheese, try for some sleep (it is now 2:45 a.m.), and return to this story later this morning.

Wednesday afternoon

Well, details remain sketchy but apparently it was the night manager who did the shooting.  He was in the break room with a number of employees planning for today’s deluge of last-minute Thanksgiving shoppers, and just as the meeting was about to break up, the manager pulled out a pistol and opened fire.  Six people were killed and either 4 or 5 were taken to nearby hospitals with injuries.  Given that there were some 20+ employees in that break room and the store was crowded with shoppers, it’s a small wonder that there weren’t more killed.  The gunman then turned the gun on himself and was dead when police arrived.  The name of the shooter (murderer) has not been released and the FBI is involved in the investigation.

Mass shootings … as commonplace as syrup on pancakes.  Someday perhaps we will have lawmakers who see it as their duty to craft restrictive gun laws with teeth, but as long as the gun industry is allowed to put lots of money into the pockets of these men and women, essentially buying their votes against ANY gun restrictions, these shootings will continue to escalate.  People claim the biggest reason for gun ownership is self-defense, but it is rare that a gun is used for self-defense.  The night manager at Wal-Mart certainly wasn’t ‘defending’ himself, nor was the murderer at Club Q last weekend, nor was the man who killed three University of Virginia football players ten days ago.  More often than not, guns are used to murder people for any or no reason, but not self-defense.

In some states today, it is as easy to buy a gun as it is to buy a pack of bananas.  When does it stop?  Does it stop when some crazed gunman kills a large number of members of Congress, or perhaps the President?  I know you’re all tired of hearing me rant about guns, and I’m tired of writing about guns, but until something is done, I WILL KEEP WRITING ABOUT IT!!!

Here’s What We Need To Do …

Well, folks, another mass shooting mars the landscape, this one at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, an affluent subdivision of Chicago, Illinois.  No surprise … we could have and did predict it.  Six people dead, a few dozen injured.  Ho hum … just another day here in paradise, eh?  Well, maybe not to the victims and the families of the victims, but hey … the rest of us can just get on with our lives … until it happens to one of our loved ones, eh?  After all, just hours after that gunman opened fire in Highland Park, Illinois state Senator Darren Bailey, a Republican, called for people to “move on and… celebrate.”  Oh, and our illustrious members of Congress will do their part by sending those totally useless ‘thoughts & prayers’.

You all know that I am very much against private gun ownership, that I don’t think the average John Doe has the need nor ‘right’, even under the wording of the 2nd Amendment, to own a gun, and particularly not a military-style assault weapon.  Why?  Because I think that we average people ought to have the right to walk down the street, go to the grocery store, send our children to school, and be safe in doing so.  But, our Congress and Supreme Court think differently because our lives are meaningless to them.  A fetus is far more important to them than a living, breathing human being.

Last month, in the wake of the Buffalo shooting that killed 10, and the Uvalde school shooting that killed 19 children and 2 teachers, one of my favourite journalists, Bill Press, wrote the following column that was published in CNN.  For the record, I am completely in agreement with Mr. Press … 100%!


There’s no way to fix the Second Amendment. Let’s just get rid of it

Who says history doesn’t repeat itself? It sure does when it comes to the aftermath of mass shootings.

After Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Virginia Tech, Margery Stoneman Douglas, El Paso, Buffalo, Uvalde and so many others, it’s always the same.

First, shock. Then, grief. Then, a demand for action. Then, the phony claim: Too bad, but we can’t do anything about guns because of the Second Amendment. And then, nothing is done to prevent the next attack.

This time, could things be different? After the senseless assassination of 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, senators of both parties are actually talking about a compromise on guns.

But don’t hold your breath. No matter what they come up with, chances are still slim that there will be 10 Republicans willing to override the filibuster. (A total of 60 votes are needed to end a filibuster in the evenly-divided US Senate.)

Anything they agree on will probably just nibble around the edges of the gun issue. Sen. John Cornyn, the lead Republican negotiator, has already vetoed one of the most sensible proposals: raising the legal age for buying an assault weapon from 18 to 21 years.

There’s no way, especially in this election year, that Republicans will let anything out of the Senate that would ruffle the feathers of the National Rifle Association.

President Joe Biden’s proposals come close to what’s really needed, with his bold call for universal background checks, eliminating ghost guns and renewing the ban on assault weapons. But even that’s not enough to convince some conservative Americans that the Second Amendment is not an open license to arm themselves, even with weapons that belong on the battlefield.

Let’s face it. The way many judges and conservatives interpret the Second Amendment is a total con job. And, as wildly misinterpreted today, it is, for all intents and purposes, a license to kill as many people as you want with as many guns as you want.

The only effective way to deal with the Second Amendment is to repeal it — and then replace it with something that makes sense in a civilized society.

I’m hardly the first person to say that the Second Amendment has been a disaster for this country. In fact, two Supreme Court justices — justices appointed by Republican presidents — have said as much.

In a March 2018 opinion piece for the New York Times, former Justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed by then-President Gerald Ford, wrote that Americans protesting the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.”

He explained: “A constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the NRA’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”

And decades earlier, in 1991, former Chief Justice Warren Burger, appointed by President Richard Nixon, told the PBS Newshour: “If I were writing the Bill of Rights now, there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Second Amendment.

Burger called the Second Amendment “one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Indeed, you only have to read the Second Amendment to see what a fraud it’s become. Here it is, all 27 words: “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.”

Read it again. There’s no way you can logically leap from those 27 words about the existence of a state militia to the unfettered right of any citizen to buy as many guns — and any kind of gun — that they want, without the government being able to do anything about it.

It’s clear from the wording of the Second Amendment itself that it has nothing to do with individual gun ownership; nothing to do with self-defense; and nothing to do with assault weapons. The amendment speaks, not to the rights of well-armed individual citizens, but only to citizens as members of a group, a “well regulated militia.”

And its history is well-known. The founders saw no need to mention guns in the original Constitution. As many constitutional scholars and American historians have shown, the Second Amendment was added later by James Madison as part of a deal to secure the support of Patrick Henry and other White racist Virginians for confirmation of the Constitution. Noted academic Carol Anderson, for one, describes the “anti-Blackness” that lies at the heart of the Second Amendment in her book “The Second,” as well as its “architecture of repression.”

As such, it was not about self-defense. It was, in the opinion of these historians, about reassuring White plantation owners that the new federal government would not interfere with their practice of forming White militias to patrol the South, ready to put down rebellion by disgruntled Black slaves or chase down slaves who tried to flee.

And again, the amendment has nothing to do with self-defense or allowing ownership of any kind of gun. As Stevens noted in his New York Times op-ed: “For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation.”

Two things changed that. First, a band of gun extremists took over the NRA at its 1977 annual convention in Cincinnati and changed its mission from championing the Second Amendment as the right of hunters to giving every American the right to own a gun for self-defense. The NRA proceeded, successfully, to sell that unfounded idea of self-defense to politicians and the general public.

Second, in 2008, former Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which — again for the first time in over 200 years — established the right of every American under the Second Amendment to own a gun for self-defense. And he rounded up four other votes.

However, it’s important to note that even in Heller, Scalia took pains to argue that as with other rights, those granted under the Second Amendment are not unlimited — and that governments retain the power to regulate what kind of guns, or how many, people may own.

Of course, those provisions of Heller are conveniently ignored by gun worshippers like Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who uphold the Second Amendment as reinterpreted by Scalia. That flawed reasoning allowed a Texas teenager to buy two AR-15’s on his 18th birthday, walk into an elementary school and mow down 19 students and two teachers.

We are a sick nation indeed, if we allow that idiocy to stand.

Of course, it won’t be easy to repeal the Second Amendment. It would require a constitutional amendment, passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-quarter of the states. Or a constitutional convention, called by two-thirds of the states, with any proposed changes approved by three-quarters of the states. But, difficult or not, it’s still the right thing to do.

We are condemned to more and more mass killings until we do the right thing: Stop arguing about the Second Amendment — and just get rid of it.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 6/4

I don’t know how she does it, but our friend TokyoSand over at Political Charge always manages to find the best of the week’s political cartoons.  Not a lot to laugh about these days, folks, but the ‘toons are still awesome and depict our lives with few or no words in a way that lengthy essays cannot do.  Be sure to follow the link at the end to see the many more ‘toons she has chosen this week.  Thank you, TS, for all your hard work!


The same gun debate rages on and on, yet editorial cartoonists find new angles to cover it. I remain, as always, in awe of their talent.

See all the ‘toons at Political Charge!!!

Wear Orange Day

I would almost certainly have forgotten about this very important day and this post I wrote last year commemorating the day had it not been for our friend Larry over at Just Drive, Will You who reminded me earlier this week with his own post (follow link above).  Today, I think this post, this National Day, is more relevant than ever, given the events of the past few weeks.


I typically make fun of all the ‘national days’ … I mean, there are some thoroughly ridiculous ones like National Lima Bean Respect Day, National Rat Catcher’s Day, and National Talk In An Elevator Day.  However, there are a few of the national days that are worthy of being honoured, and today is one such day:  National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as Wear Orange Day.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate guns and would happily see every last one of them destroyed, so it should come as no surprise that I’m writing about this day.

Until a few days ago when a dear friend emailed me about this day, I was not even aware of it … which likely means that most people are unaware.  Raising awareness is the goal of this day, and I aim to do my part to help raise that awareness.

On January 21, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a high school student from the south side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after this tragedy, Hadiya’s childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. Now, it is observed nationally on the first Friday in June and the following weekend each year. In the years since, participation in Wear Orange has increased tenfold.

In 2020, #WearOrange trended nationally on Twitter with over 150,000 Americans taking part along with more than 300 corporate and nonprofit partners such as Viacom, Levi Strauss & Co., Postmates, Amalgamated Bank, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AFT, and HRC, and some of the most impactful thought and culture leaders in the country—including President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Julianne Moore, Laura Dern, Jason George, Pearl Jam, and 25 individual sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Bruins, and the Washington Mystics. More than 100 buildings and landmarks lit the skyline orange across 40 states + DC, including a record 11 stadiums and arenas, while grassroots volunteers hosted more than 270 virtual events in all 50 states plus DC.

According to the Everytown website:

“In 2021, the 7th National Gun Violence Awareness Day will fall on June 4, the first Friday of the month. That will kick off Wear Orange Weekend on June 5-6, which will feature virtual events across the nation.  From the south side of Chicago, to community organizers in Queens, to students around the country, we will come together to wear orange and demand a change.”

Miss Goose and I were talking and we thought that neither of us owned a piece of orange clothing, but then … I remembered that we both have Hallowe’en t-shirts that are orange with jack-o-lantern pattern on the front, so if you see someone wearing a Hallowe’en shirt this weekend, don’t be surprised!

In case you don’t think that guns are a serious problem in the U.S., here are a few facts to make you stop and think …

  • The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times higher than that of other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm homicide rate is 24.9 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm suicide rate was 9.8 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • 7% of all firearm deaths occurred in the US.
  • 7% of women and 98.1% of all children killed by firearms were in the US.
  • Firearm homicide rates in low-gun states were 13.5 times higher than other countries.
  • On average, eight youth are killed by gun violence in the U.S. every day. Another 32 are shot and injured. Mass shootings are on the rise, averaging 11 each week in 2021.

Oh yeah, my friends, this country has a serious gun problem.  Some who love their killing toys have misinterpreted what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution … NEVER did they intend for people to own weapons not even heard of back in their day that can kill hundreds of people within a minute or two.  NEVER did they intend for every person to carry a gun everywhere they go, even to the grocery store or to church.  And NEVER did the Founders intend us to use those weapons to simply randomly kill people because we did not like the colour of their skin, what they wear on their head, where they came from, or because we were having a bad day.

The United States is literally the laughingstock of the world for our gun policies, or should I say lack of gun policies.  No, wearing an orange shirt today will not change that, but it is one step in raising awareness that guns in America are one of the biggest problems we have, one of the biggest hurdles to our safety, our lives.

To the gun nuts, I say this:  NO, the Constitution does NOT give you the right to own an AR-15 or AK-47, it does NOT give you the right to own an arsenal, and it does NOT give you the right to intimidate innocent people by carrying your gun into schools, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc.  You do NOT have a right to leave that gun unsecured where your child may get it and cause heartbreak.  You do NOT have a right to be in my presence with that damn blasted piece of machinery.  Period.  My right to safety and life in this case supersedes your right to have that gun attached at the hip.

No one is immune to gun violence, as proven by the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School last month that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.   So far this year 18,228 people have lost their lives to guns, and last year a total of 45,012 people were killed by guns in the U.S.  So far, I have yet to hear of that “good guy with a gun” that the National Rifle Association claim exists, but every single day I hear of a lot of bad guys with guns … people who should never have been allowed to own a gun.

So, if you own an orange shirt, wear it this weekend to show your support for human life, to demand change in gun laws, to demand action.

Wear Orange Day

I typically make fun of all the ‘national days’ … I mean, there are some thoroughly ridiculous ones like National Lima Bean Respect Day, National Rat Catcher’s Day, and National Talk In An Elevator Day.  However, there are a few of the national days that are worthy of being honoured, and today is one such day:  National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as Wear Orange Day.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate guns and would happily see every last one of them destroyed, so it should come as no surprise that I’m writing about this day.

Until a few days ago when a dear friend emailed me about this day, I was not even aware of it … which likely means that most people are unaware.  Raising awareness is the goal of this day, and I aim to do my part to help raise that awareness.

On January 21, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a high school student from the south side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after this tragedy, Hadiya’s childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. Now, it is observed nationally on the first Friday in June and the following weekend each year. In the years since, participation in Wear Orange has increased tenfold.

In 2020, #WearOrange trended nationally on Twitter with over 150,000 Americans taking part along with more than 300 corporate and nonprofit partners such as Viacom, Levi Strauss & Co., Postmates, Amalgamated Bank, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AFT, and HRC, and some of the most impactful thought and culture leaders in the country—including President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Julianne Moore, Laura Dern, Jason George, Pearl Jam, and 25 individual sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Bruins, and the Washington Mystics. More than 100 buildings and landmarks lit the skyline orange across 40 states + DC, including a record 11 stadiums and arenas, while grassroots volunteers hosted more than 270 virtual events in all 50 states plus DC.

According to the Everytown website:

“In 2021, the 7th National Gun Violence Awareness Day will fall on June 4, the first Friday of the month. That will kick off Wear Orange Weekend on June 5-6, which will feature virtual events across the nation.  From the south side of Chicago, to community organizers in Queens, to students around the country, we will come together to wear orange and demand a change.”

Miss Goose and I were talking and we thought that neither of us owned a piece of orange clothing, but then … I remembered that we both have Hallowe’en t-shirts that are orange with jack-o-lantern pattern on the front, so if you see someone wearing a Hallowe’en shirt this weekend, don’t be surprised!

In case you don’t think that guns are a serious problem in the U.S., here are a few facts to make you stop and think …

  • The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times higher than that of other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm homicide rate is 24.9 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm suicide rate was 9.8 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • 7% of all firearm deaths occurred in the US.
  • 7% of women and 98.1% of all children killed by firearms were in the US.
  • Firearm homicide rates in low-gun states were 13.5 times higher than other countries.
  • On average, eight youth are killed by gun violence in the U.S. every day. Another 32 are shot and injured. Mass shootings are on the rise, averaging 11 each week in 2021.

Oh yeah, my friends, this country has a serious gun problem.  Some who love their killing toys have misinterpreted what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution … NEVER did they intend for people to own weapons not even heard of back in their day that can kill hundreds of people within a minute or two.  NEVER did they intend for every person to carry a gun everywhere they go, even to the grocery store or to church.  And NEVER did the Founders intend us to use those weapons to simply randomly kill people because we did not like the colour of their skin, what they wear on their head, where they came from, or because we were having a bad day.

The United States is literally the laughingstock of the world for our gun policies, or should I say lack of gun policies.  No, wearing an orange shirt today will not change that, but it is one step in raising awareness that guns in America are one of the biggest problems we have, one of the biggest hurdles to our safety, our lives.

To the gun nuts, I say this:  NO, the Constitution does NOT give you the right to own an AR-15 or AK-47, it does NOT give you the right to own an arsenal, and it does NOT give you the right to intimidate innocent people by carrying your gun into schools, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc.  You do NOT have a right to leave that gun unsecured where your child may get it and cause heartbreak.  You do NOT have a right to be in my presence with that damn blasted piece of machinery.  Period.  My right to safety and life in this case supersedes your right to have that gun attached at the hip.

No one is immune to gun violence, as proven by the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six educators.   So far this year 18,429 people have lost their lives to guns, and last year a total of 43,558 people were killed by guns in the U.S.  So far, I have yet to hear of that “good guy with a gun” that the National Rifle Association claim exists, but every single day I hear of a lot of bad guys with guns … people who should never have been allowed to own a gun.

So, if you own an orange shirt, wear it this weekend to show your support for human life, to demand change in gun laws, to demand action.