On Guns … The Right Thing To Do

Two days ago, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon sent a letter to their employees part of which reads …

Doug-McMillonDear Associates,

We’ve … been listening to a lot of people inside and outside our company as we think about the role we can play in helping to make the country safer. It’s clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable.

We’ve been giving a lot of thought to our sale of firearms and ammunition. We’ve previously made decisions to stop selling handguns or military-style rifles such as the AR-15, to raise the age limit to purchase a firearm or ammunition to 21, to require a “green light” on a background check while federal law only requires the absence of a “red light,” to videotape the point of sale for firearms and to only allow certain trained associates to sell firearms.

Today, we’re sharing the decisions we’ve made that go further:

After selling through our current inventory commitments, we will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons;

We will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition; and

We will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking our complete exit from handguns. [emphasis added]

Finally, we encourage our nation’s leaders to move forward and strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger. We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness. We must also do more, as a country, to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior. Today, I’m sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action on these common sense measures.

As you all know, I am no fan of Wal-Mart, but I applaud this measure with both hands.  It is too little, and too late coming, but at least the CEO of this company has, finally, shown some common sense and more concern for the people of this nation than most of our elected officials.

Within minutes after Wal-Mart making this announcement publicly, the NRA flew into a rage! NRA-tweet

Well, if you think the NRA represents the ‘voice of the people’, if you think that most people in this nation are against any form of gun legislation, as the NRA would have you believe … explain this:

“Shares of the retailer rose more than 1% to a record high on Wednesday. The gains game after Walmart announced Tuesday that it would change its policies around gun-sales in response to two deadly shootings that killed 24 people at Walmart stores in El Paso, Texas and Southaven, Mississippi.” – Business Insider, 04 September 2019

Walmart-stock-graph

Similarly, after Dick’s Sporting Goods announced in February 2017, in response to the devastating Parkland school shooting, that it was raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, and would no longer sell assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks in any of its 730 U.S. stores, their profits increased by 3.2%.

As a result of Wal-Mart’s announcement, some gun nuts took to Twitter, calling for a boycott of Wal-Mart, but you know what, folks?  In a May Quinnipiac poll, 61% overall said they are in favour of stricter gun regulations.  The breakdown here is interesting:  91% of democrats, 59% of independents, and only 32% of republicans.  What a shocker, eh? Quinnipiac-poll

Note that women are more in favour of gun regulation than men (again, no surprise there), and blacks are overwhelmingly more in favour than whites … could be because they are most often on the receiving end of a bullet.  Apparently 5% of the people polled didn’t much care one way or another.  Sigh.

Wal-Mart, with its 1.5 million employees nationwide, is the single largest retailer in the nation.  They may, in a very practical sense, have even more clout than the NRA when they choose to use it.  But, it isn’t enough.  The shooter who killed at least 7 and injured 20+ more in Odessa Texas last Saturday had failed a background check to buy a gun … twice.  Yet, he had an AR-15 assault weapon in his car when police tried to stop him in a traffic stop.  How?  He bought it in a private sale … in Texas, private gun sales do not require a background check.

And, in spite of two mass shootings in Texas last month, the state legislature expanded gun rights … nay, I cannot even call it “rights”, for these rights infringe on others’ rights … by passing the following:

  • Senate Bill 535: allows Texans to carry guns in churches, synagogues and other places of worship, unless otherwise banned by those places with proper signage.
  • Senate Bill 741: prohibits property owners’ associations from banning storage of guns on rental properties.
  • House Bill 121: provides a legal defense for licensed handgun owners who unknowingly enter an establishment that bans firearms as long as they leave when asked.
  • House Bill 302: prohibits landlords from banning renters and their guests from carrying firearms in lease agreements.
  • House Bill 1387: loosens restrictions on the number of school marshals who can carry guns at public and private schools in Texas.
  • House Bill 1177: allows Texans to carry handguns without a license during a state of disaster.
  • House Bill 1143: prohibits school districts from banning licensed gun owners from storing guns and ammunition in their vehicles in parking lots.
  • House Bill 2363: allows certain foster homes to store guns and ammunition in a locked location.

Take a close look at these!  They prohibit a landlord from banning guns in his/her rental property!  How utterly stupid!  They loosen gun laws in schools, churches, foster homes.  What could possibly go wrong, eh?  Governor Abbott signed all these bills into law in May & June, and they went into effect the day after the Odessa shooting. Irony?

C’mon people!!!  Let’s get serious and make it damn clear once more that people’s lives, that our safety, the safety of our children, mean more than anybody’s so-called “right” to own and carry a gun.  Get the damn guns out of the hands of civilians!  At the very least, insist on background checks for every single gun sale, and ban the damn assault rifles once and for all!

Note that in his letter to his employees and his public announcement, Doug McMillon encouraged the nation’s lawmakers to act.  I second that motion … time to get back into phone-calling and letter-writing mode, my friends.  This madness cannot continue!

America and Guns

This afternoon’s post comes from Simeon Levine, a young man of 17 years living in Australia. Though he lives 9,500 miles away, in another hemisphere, and has only spent 17 years on this planet, Mr. Levine sees as clearly as any, more than most in this country, the culture of guns in the U.S. Thank you, Simeon Levine, for this post and for your generous permission to re-blog!

Levine Lowdown

On the 3rd and 4th
of August 2019, 32 people were killed and 51 injured in two separate mass
shootings in America. Hundreds of family members and friends left grieving, and
bystanders forever replaying the traumatic circumstance again and again inside
their heads. Communities destroyed by the loss of life, thousands fearful of
the future and millions left shocked and overwhelmed by the situation.

I am Australian. I
feel helpless. I can’t even begin to gain a comprehensive understanding of the
American system and the obsession with guns. In April 1996, the Port Arthur
massacre left 35 people killed and 23 injured, one of Australia’s largest mass
shootings, and one of the last mass shootings. After the massacre, Prime Minister,
John Howard, restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles,
shotguns and tightened recreational shooters guidelines. A “buy-back” scheme
was introduced, costing millions of dollars, but protecting the lives…

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Stupidity And Guns Don’t Mix …

To brighten your Sunday afternoon, I bring you the tale of three stupid people.  Now, I don’t make a habit of calling people stupid … I suffered a beating for using that word when I was about four or five years old and use the word only sparingly ever since.  But, in the case of these three men, the word just fits so well.


Stupid … just plain stupid

AndreychenkoDmitriy Andreychenko of Springfield, Missouri, is a stupid man.  He is a 2nd Amendment supporter and he apparently keeps what little brain he has where the sun doesn’t shine.

On Thursday, less than a week after a mass shooting in an El Paso Wal-Mart that left 22 people dead and injured 26 others, Dmitriy Andreychenko decided to “test” his 2nd Amendment rights.  So, he loaded up for bear, donned his body armour, and walked into a local Wal-Mart store with an assault rifle, a pistol, and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.  He didn’t intend to shoot anybody, he says, but was merely checking to see if his 2nd Amendment rights would be “respected in public”.

His wife tried to talk him out of it, told him it was “not a smart idea”.  He tried to get his sister to go along and record a video of the experiment, but she apparently had more sense than he, and so Mr. Andreychenko was left to use his own cell phone to record what he referred to as a ‘social experiment’.

People, understandably, panicked at the sight of a heavily-armed man in body armour, and the store manager immediately had an employee pull the fire alarm in order to get people out of the store quickly.  Police were called and Mr. Andreychenko was arrested promptly and without incident, unless you count the police officer who was involved in a car crash on his way to the scene.  But Mr. Andreychenko was puzzled by his arrest …

“This is Missouri, I understand if we were somewhere else like New York or California, people would freak out.”

I told you he’s stupid.

If convicted, he will serve up to four years in prison and face a fine of up to $10,000.  Although Missouri is one of some 30 states that allows for openly carrying a weapon, Prosecutor Dan Patterson equated Andreychenko’s actions to yelling fire in a crowded theater.

I’m thinking I’m going to move to a country that doesn’t allow guns in the hands of stupid people.


And speaking of stupid …

Timothy-IrelandTimothy James Ireland, Jr. of Toledo, Ohio, has also seemingly left his brain in a dark place.  This one took his hatred of “other” to social media, posting on Facebook about U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez …

“She should be shot. Can’t fire me, my employer would load the gun for me.”

When contacted by police, Mr. Ireland said he was “very proud” of his post and admitted to owning a number of firearms and that he “always carries concealed”, or in other words, never leaves home without his gun.

Sigh.


Too much stupid …

wacholzThis time it’s the owner of a gun store in Murphy, North Carolina, that sat on his brain.  Doc Wacholz, the owner of Cherokee Guns, thought it was a good idea to put up this billboard advertising his wares …billboard

Ol’ Doc was so proud of his work, in fact, that he posted a picture of it on Facebook, and even had bumper stickers made of it, which he sells in his store.  He says he chose the four members of Congress for his billboard because, “their message of turning this country into a socialist country”.  The four, known as ‘The Squad’, have come under fire from republicans of late, and have received threats against their lives because of the hateful rhetoric of none other than Donald Trump.  See, folks … words have consequences … words matter.

The billboard has since been removed, but is not likely to soon be forgotten, since it went viral on social media.


This is the mentality we are dealing with in the U.S.  It is an ugly place to be.  I go out to a store or a restaurant and I find myself looking at everybody I see, wondering … is he packing a pistol somewhere on his person?  Is he one of those fools who would shoot up the place if his food wasn’t to his liking, or if the store was out of his brand of coffee?  You just don’t know any more.  The framers of the Constitution never intended for us to have to live like this.

I will repeat once again what I have said so many times before.  With every right comes a responsibility.  It seems to me that the vast majority of gun-owners in this nation have shirked the responsibility and have assumed their rights to be unlimited.  We can appeal to Congress to enact strict gun laws, but as long as the republican members of Congress are indebted to the NRA, it ain’t gonna happen, folks.  And almost every republican member of Congress has, in fact, accepted donations from the gun lobby.

It is up to us, the people of this nation, to use our brains, to understand what the “right to bear arms” really means, to act with a conscience and a bit of good sense.  In the immortal words of Forrest Gump:  “Stupid is as stupid does.”  And stupid is costing lives … lots of lives.  Maybe mine is next, or yours.  Think about it.

After his death, a second amendment supporter, leaves a message on gun violence

Most of us who call for stricter gun laws are not gun owners, so when a gun owner, supporter of the 2nd Amendment speaks out and calls for stricter gun legislation, it speaks loudly. Please take a moment to read this editorial by the late Larry Swenberg, a gun owner who, prior to his death, called for a ban on assault weapons. Thank you, Keith, for sharing this with us.

musingsofanoldfart

The following posthumous editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer on August 6, 2019. It speaks for itself.

“Larry Swenberg died of ALS this spring, a few months before gunmen killed 29 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Swenberg, a retired doctor of veterinary medicine in Durham, was a gun owner and avid hunter, but he was horrified at mass shootings inflicted by assault-style weapons. His wife, Gwen, sent us this op-ed from her husband last week, before Dayton and El Paso. One of his last wishes, she said, was to leave a message for his fellow Second Amendment supporters — and all of us.:

I am a 73 year-old retired doctor of veterinary medicine and a political independent who is neither a politician nor a Washington insider, but a citizen pleading to stop the carnage of assault weapons. I am a former hunter, recreational shooter, current gun owner…

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A Scrapbook Of Life In America: Excerpts From The Pro-Gun Forums

Just over a week ago, I re-blogged a post by Greg, aka Ohio Realist, over at On the Fence Voters. It was the initial post of their new project on the issue of guns and the tragic gun culture in the U.S. Today, I share with you the second post in the project, a plethora of excuses for the fact that there is almost zero regulation on guns in this country. We have a problem … a huge problem … and the key to solving that problem is awareness. Please take a look at these pictures and read the words. The U.S. doesn’t lead the world in much these days, but we certainly do lead in gun fatalities, and once you see this post, you’ll understand why. Thank you, Greg and Jeff, for keeping this issue in the limelight … great work!

On The Fence Voters

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untitled-23untitled-24untitled-25untitled-56.jpguntitled-6untitled-33untitled-50Price Of Freedom 2

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Again …

It happened again, my friends.  Twelve lives … snuffed out with a pull of a trigger.  We just keep killing each other … for no reason or any reason … it’s so easy, isn’t it?  Go to Wal-Mart, buy a gun.  Mad at the boss?  Hey, let’s go shoot a few co-workers … that’ll show ‘im!  Mad at the wife?  Hell, just shoot ‘er!  Bet she’ll never burn the rice at supper again!

In 1787, the Founding Fathers as we’ve come to refer to them, made a couple of big mistakes.  The first was that they believed that humans had consciences and would use them.  The second, they failed to foresee how the citizens of this country would develop a love, an obsession really, of guns and all things that go ‘boom’.

Did you know that there were 47 multiple victim shootings in May, according to the Gun Violence Archive? Just last weekend, nine people were hurt, and one was killed in the neighboring city of Chesapeake, Virginia when gunfire broke out at a party.

For those who may be tempted to send meaningless ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the families of the victims in Virginia Beach, let me suggest that instead you send apologies.  Yes, apologies. We have had opportunity after opportunity to elect people to office who were committed to implementing stricter gun regulations, but time after time we have failed to do so.  Instead, we send people to Congress who are in the pockets of the National Rifle Association, people who place the value of the right to own a gun above the value of the right to life, so the blame lies squarely on our shoulders.

Our apologies to the victims and their families …

  • Christopher Kelly Rapp
  • Ryan Keith Cox
  • Laquita C. Brown
  • Tara Welch Gallagher
  • Mary Louise Gayle
  • Alexander Mikhail Gusev
  • Katherine A. Nixon
  • Richard H. Nettleton
  • Joshua A. Hardy
  • Michelle “Missy” Langer
  • Robert “Bobby” Williams
  • Herbert “Bert” Snelling

victims

Just Two Snarky Snippets …

Wouldn’t you think we could have just one day where I am not stomping my feet and growling like an angry leopard?  Noooooo … that’s too much to ask, isn’t it?  Sigh.  Hold onto your hats, folks, for I’m on a tear tonight!


Still more evidence that …

The only people who matter in the current administration are those who love Trump … a distinct minority, yet a loud, obnoxious one.  The evidence of this lies in the debate in the Oval Office on Monday whereby Trump’s staff convinced him to support a decision to eliminate healthcare for no less than 20 million people in this nation. health-care-1As most of you know, a lawsuit filed by 18 state’s attorney-generals and 2 governors came before Texas District Court Judge Reed O’Connor last year.  The judge was tasked with determining whether the ACA individual mandate that requires everyone to have health insurance was lawful.  However, Judge O’Connor took it a step further and declared the entire Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.  Appeals, of course were immediately filed.  At that time, the Department of Justice, while supporting overturning the individual mandate, did not support overturning ACA in its entirety.  Then came Monday.

On Monday, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Domestic Chief of Policy (whatever the heck that is) Joe Grogan convinced Trump that if he, via the Department of Justice, supported the complete repeal of the act through the courts, his base (a minority) would “love it”.  They told him that the move would be seen as ‘fulfilling a campaign promise’ and that it would help secure his re-election next year.  Thus, even though Attorney General William Barr expressed concerns about the move, it was announced later that day that the U.S. Department of Justice will support the move to have ACA declared unconstitutional and thereby sign death warrants for some 20 million people or more.Trump-health-careAlthough Trump has claimed he would make republicans “the party of health care”, there is no plan on the republican side of the aisle with which to replace ACA.  Just … do away with it … let poor people die … who needs ‘em anyway?

Even Mike Pence argued against the move, not because he cares a whit about we common people, but because he felt it might have political ramifications down the line.  You think?  Under ordinary circumstances, I would say that in making this move, Trump just signed away his re-election, but we have not had normal circumstances in this nation since 20 January 2017.  This is just one more in the growing pile of signs that We the People really do not matter.  The only ones who count are the bloomin’ fools who wear red caps and chant “Lock ‘er up!”


A step too far … way too far!

Last night, a friend posted this to my Facebook page …Jerry post

Now, this particular friend sometimes gets a kick out of ruffling my feathers, in a good-natured way, so I thought this might be a … joke?  But no, I looked into it, and steam began coming from my ears, my teeth gnashing, and lightning bolts emitted from my eyes.

The so-called constitutional carry bill would permit anyone age 21 or over, who is not disqualified by federal law due to a felony conviction or other offense from obtaining a weapon, to carry a hidden gun — without obtaining a concealed-carry permit.  Currently, Ohioans can only carry a concealed weapon after obtaining a $67 permit from a county sheriff upon passing a criminal background check and completing eight hours of training by a certified instructor, including two hours of range time and live-fire training.  The legislation would not be restricted to handguns — it also would allow Ohioans to conceal and carry long guns, such as rifles and shotguns (though I’m not sure how one conceals a long gun … seems it would be a might noticeable sticking out of their waistband). Ohioans already are allowed to openly carry firearms without a permit.  The bill also would repeal a current requirement that concealed-carry owners notify police officers they are carrying a gun when stopped.  The police are going to love this one, yes?

Do any of these fools remember Parkland in February 2018?  Do they remember Las Vegas?  Do they remember their own damn names?  Fools.  Idiots.  Then, while I was still frothing at the mouth, the same friend informs me that Kentucky just passed a similar law.  Back to searching … yep …

rednecks-1

Bright looking bunch, eh?

From the March 28th Cincinnati Enquirer …

“Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin just signed a law allowing residents to carry a concealed gun without a permit and the prerequisite training.”

And then … I find out that this is not a new thing, not an anomaly, but that there are sixteen … yes, SIXTEEN states where residents can carry guns with no permit, no training, and in some cases, no background checks.

Those states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

rednecks-2

More ‘Einsteins’

The law is called “Constitutional Carry” because it reflects the view that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not abide restrictions on gun rights, including the right to carry or “bear” arms.  This is utterly ludicrous.  This is the absolute stupidest thing I have heard of!

But back to the proposed Ohio law …

At least one Ohio legislator, David Leland, had a bit of sense (hint:  he’s a democrat)

“It’s going the exact opposite direction of what most people want. If more guns make more people safer, we would be the safest country in the world. Yet, our gun violence exceeds most every other country on this planet.”

Correction, Mr. Leland … not ‘most’ every other country on the planet … EVERY other country on the planet!

Chris Dorr, director of Ohio Gun Owners, sent an email to supporters …

“We already know there will be efforts by anti-gun Democrats and Rino-Republicans to block, stop and KILL Constitutional Carry. And as we saw last General Assembly, there’s always a lily-white coward willing to cut a deal and water down these pro-gun bills.”

Scumbucket.

2nd amendmentIt appears that the only thing that is going to wake these people up is if next time it’s their own child who is killed in a school shooting, or a drive-by.


nightmareAnd that’s it for tonight, folks … I must stop the steam coming from my ears, brush what I haven’t gnashed away of my teeth and go to bed for another fun night of night terrors.  Gee, I can’t imagine what’s causing them, can you?

 

Six Days …

Six days.  It only took six days after a gunman opened fire on two mosques in New Zealand, killing at least 50 people, before the government took action and banned assault-type weapons that were never meant for civilian use to begin with.  Yesterday, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced a national ban on military-style semiautomatic weapons, on parts that allow guns to be modified into such weapons, and on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

This, my friends, is how a true leader responds to a crisis.  This is the action of a leader who actually cares what happens to the people in the country she is tasked with leading.  This is a leader who puts people ahead of corporate greed and politics.  Every nation deserves such a leader.

Now, you might say, well, New Zealand doesn’t have the National Rifle Association (NRA) to contend with.  Well, yes and no.  New Zealand actually does have a National Rifle Association, but their function is entirely different than the one in the U.S.  The New Zealand NRA is the country’s governing body for the sport of long-range target shooting. It does not engage in political lobbying.  When Prime Minister Ardern announced the ban on semiautomatic weapons yesterday, the NRA-NZ responded positively and even noted that they are considering a name change to avoid being associated with the U.S. NRA.

In New Zealand, gun owners are subjected to rigorous background checks and requirements, and even after acquiring a license, gun owners in New Zealand continue to be subjected to scrutiny from the authorities.

“If your name comes up with a police or traffic complaint, that list gets looked at by the police firearms division. If it looks like your name is coming up more often, they’ll come and have a word with you.” – Ross Mason, Chairman NRA-NZ

Can you imagine the outrage among gun owners if this happened in the U.S.?  Or, can you imagine the reaction if it was suggested that gun owners voluntarily give up their firearms?  Within the first four days after the shootings, a number of gun owners had turned in their semiautomatic weapons.  One man, a farmer named John Hart, turned his rifle over to police, then tweeted …John Hart

Did you read that, folks?  “My convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse.”  That should be a bumper sticker and we should hand them out with every gun purchase, every box of ammo …

I don’t know about you folks, but to me, this reaction all the way from the head of government down to the citizens, is a breath of fresh air.  This is the way it should be.  Consider this.  If a roller coaster at an amusement park derails and 30-40 people are killed or injured, all hell breaks loose.  The ride, or likely the entire park is shut down indefinitely.  The manufacturers of the ride are called in.  Safety experts and mechanics are called in to determine the cause.  If there is fault, fines are levied. And lawsuits are filed against the park and the ride’s manufacturer.  That ride will never operate again in all likelihood.  Why?  Because we place a high priority on human life.

But if a gunman goes on a spree in Las Vegas or a high school in Parkland, Florida, the nutters immediately come out ranting “don’t try to take our guns!” The NRA issues a statement before the dust even settles warning the sensible among us that this is “not the time” to mention gun regulation or gun safety.  A few days pass, the media move on to other things, and life returns to normal … until the next time.

Apparently, the NRA in the U.S. is not content to interfere and subvert any attempts at sensible gun safety legislation in the U.S., but have also stuck their nose into New Zealand’s business this week.  Former police minister and New Zealand National Party MP Judith Collins says that both she and the current police minister, Stuart Nash had begun receiving propaganda material from the U.S. NRA.  In the past, she said, when she sought to introduce gun law reforms during her two stints as police minister, she was inundated by material from the NRA in the U.S.

“They talked about how we were trying to take away their Second Amendment rights to own guns. We don’t have a right to bear arms. To own a gun in New Zealand is absolutely a privilege and not a right.”

Say WHAT???  By what right does the NRA here in the U.S. get off trying to change gun laws in a nation on the other side of the globe?  The NRA has gone beyond what is acceptable so many times in the past, but this one takes the cake.  Fortunately, New Zealanders have better sense that the average gun-lovin’ American, and Ms. Collins told them to …bugger off

I’ve said it all before, but it bears repeating.  The U.S. has the most lax gun laws, the most guns per capita (more guns than people, at approximately 400 million guns and only 330 million people), and the highest rate of deaths by guns than any other nation on earth.  It is past time for us to re-consider the 2nd Amendment that has cost the lives of more citizens of this nation than every war we’ve ever been involved in.  New Zealand certainly has the right idea, as do Australia and every other nation on the globe.  Yesterday I saw a New York Times’ OpEd piece titled, “America Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern”.  I second that!

Two thumbs up to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the good people of New Zealand for putting human lives ahead of corporate greed.

A Letter From Parkland …

Today, February 14th 2019, marks one year since 17 people were killed, 14 of them students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  I would like to share with you a letter written by Jaclyn Corin, a senior at the school and the founder of March For Our Lives.  The letter was published yesterday in the New York Times.

Corin.jpgWhen I arrived at school on Feb. 14, 2018, like any junior, I was mostly caught up in Valentine’s Day chatter and events. But that all changed in the space of a few minutes that afternoon when a gunman opened fire on my classmates and my teachers, killing 17 of them and injuring just as many.

Despite the countless tragedies you see on TV, nothing prepares you for the day it happens to your community.

The familiar images of students fleeing their school as SWAT teams entered, of parents waiting by the perimeter desperately praying to get their kids back, were now my reality. They were my classmates and friends, too many of whom never came home.

After the shooting, my friends at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and I decided we couldn’t sit by as school shootings and gun violence became a normal part of life in America. We were determined to turn an act of violence into a movement, to do everything we could to send a powerful message to the country and to Washington.Parkland-2.jpg

There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of the shooting. When I hear the sound of sirens or fireworks, I’m taken back to that horrific afternoon. For me, Valentine’s Day will now forever be a reminder of loss.

Yet our community isn’t alone in its tragedy. In 2017, nearly 40,000 Americans died as a result of guns, an average of 109 people a day. And according to a tally from Education Week, there were 24 school shootings that resulted in gun-related deaths or injuries in 2018 alone.

While several states have taken positive legislative measures in response, there have been zero bipartisan investigations or new laws from Congress.

Not a single federal law has been passed since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 to address the crisis of school shootings. This year could be different — but only if we organize and insist on it.

Last week, Congress held its first hearing on gun violence prevention since 2011. This week, the House Judiciary Committee is poised to approve a bipartisan bill to requiring background checks for all gun purchases, a proposal that represents one important step toward keeping deadly firearms out of the wrong hands. However, it’s also likely this bill won’t get a hearing, let alone a vote, in the Senate.

That chamber’s majority leader, Mitch McConnell, needs to explain to all of us who have survived a shooting or lost someone to gun violence why the Senate won’t even vote on such a bill even though there’s been over half a million gun deaths since 2000, the year I was born.

And Americans should truly reckon with why this epidemic of gun deaths is treated so differently from any other health crisis in our country.

Imagine for a moment that all these gun deaths were caused by something else widely feared: airplane crashes. There’s no universe in which we wouldn’t see it as a national emergency worthy of our undivided attention.

In fact, 2017 was a remarkable year in aviation. No one died in a commercial airplane crash, meaning it was safer for me to fly than it was for me to go to high school. It would take hundreds of completely full Boeing 737 flights crashing without survivors to total the number of people who died by guns in America in just 2017.

If even a handful of such crashes occurred, the government would declare a national emergency. All 737s would be grounded, there would be an independent commission created to investigate the crisis, and Boeing would be called before Congress to answer for its failures.

So why then don’t more than 30,000 gun deaths in a year rise to the level of a national crisis for America’s conservative leaders?

The past year has been one with the deepest of lows and, at times, the highest of highs — moments when the hope that springs from fighting for a better world makes anything feel possible. On Thursday, the anniversary of the shooting, I will be in the only place that matters, nestled in my community and with my family.

And for the next four days, the organization I helped found, March For Our Lives, will go dark to honor those we lost and their memory.

I am deeply proud of all that my friends and I have accomplished in the last year. Still, I can’t help but wonder why so many lawmakers are ignoring — and, at their worst, enabling — the horrific gun deaths that occur in our country each day.

Parkland-1.jpgIn the year since the Parkland tragedy, nearly 1,200 more children have lost their lives to guns in this country.   When do we say, “Enough!!!”?  When do we put the lives of our children ahead of politics and corporate greed?  The sign above says it all … “Choose Me, Not Guns”.

Newsworthy …

The news of the day is predominantly predictions and warnings about Hurricane Florence, expected to hit the Carolinas tomorrow.  Our friend Keith is in Charlotte, North Carolina, so I’ll be thinking of him and hoping he and his family are safe.  And, Trump is running his mouth & thumbs again, falsely claiming what a “great job” he did in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico, and slamming San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.  I will have more to say about that tomorrow. But a couple of other things crossed my path this morning …

And we thought the NRA was bad? 

In yesterday’s New Hampshire republican primary, a man named Eddie Edwards won over Andy Sanborn by just over 3,000 votes, or 6.8%.  Eddie, endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, is a big Trump fan …

“The president’s doing one hell of a job in Washington. It’s about time we had a president who understood the values of our country and stood up for our country.”

eddie edwardsThat in itself is enough to make one want to head for the nearest bathroom, but that is far from the worst of it.  Edwards is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, the likes of which we have never seen, not even in the most ardent gun supporters such as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.  Hold on to your hats for this one, folks.  Eddie fully supports a total repeal of the background check system.  A TOTAL repeal … no background checks … ever … for anyone.  But wait … there’s even more.

He says he would vote to shrink or eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF). He would oppose any legislative or regulatory prohibition on “bump stocks.” He also vows to repeal the 1996 federal law that prohibits bringing guns within 1000 feet of schools, to end limits on gun imports that are not for “sporting purposes,” and to even repeal the 1996 Lautenberg amendment that prevents people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. In other words, not only would he eliminate the background checks, but would also arm more domestic abusers.  Listen to Eddie …

A 2013 poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that even in pro-gun New Hampshire, 89 percent of likely voters supported universal mandatory background checks for gun purchases.  Now, aside from the fact that I don’t foresee Congress, even if Mr. Eddie Edwards were to attain a seat in the House, passing laws to make any of Eddie’s dreams come true, I find it extremely disturbing that a man with these ideas could make it as far as he has in politics.  At least 21,767 people  in new Hampshire support this insanity.


Free speech runs amok … again

It’s called the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).  Sounds innocuous enough, yes?  But no.  It is an anti-Semitic hate group whose main ‘claim to fame’ is in denying that the Holocaust happened, even claiming that the Anne Frank’s diary was a hoax and the gas chambers never existed.  This month, IHR has been allowed to place advertisements on San Francisco’s mass transit system, BART (Bay Area Regional Transit). BARTWhy?  Why would BART allow a blatantly, unapologetic anti-Semitic organization to advertise on its trains?  Because …

“You have to look at it for exactly what words are used and what images are used … There is plenty of case law and court rulings that show if you deny the ad, you can be taken to court, and you’ll lose, and that’s obviously costly.”

Anti-Semitism is on the rise … hate crimes and discrimination against Jews rose by 57% in the U.S. in 2017.  To be fair, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe also, but at least there, they have laws that curtail such abomination as hate groups advertising in public venues.  But here … anything goes under the guise of free speech.  This is not free speech … this robs people of their right to peace of mind!

In 2015, a judge ruled that New York’s MTA (Mass Transit Authority) could not stop an ad from being run that read “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” The ad was created by a pro-Israel organization whose president, Pamela Geller, is a well-known Islamophobe.  And just last August, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to court for refusing a number of ads, including one by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I am a staunch supporter of free speech, for I believe that it is the only thing keeping this nation free from a dictatorship.  Even when I don’t particularly like or agree with what is said, I support the person’s right to say it.  However, in my mind there is a line, and advertising anti-Semitism or any other form of hate on public transit crosses that line.  The divisiveness in this country today, and Donald Trump’s support of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups has contributed to this madness.  What’s more, I see no end in sight, but predict an escalation to these types of hate speech.

It is quite possible to support freedom of speech without supporting speech that denigrates others and invites violence.  Think about  it.