I hope you will forgive me for reduxing a ‘good people’ post from 2017, but I have literally worn myself out today and have zero energy left to go in search of new good people and write a new post! The three young people in this post are beautiful reminders of the better side of humanity.
Have you ever noticed that for some reason, people seem kinder around this time of year? People just seem more willing to open both their wallets and their hearts during the Christmas season, and I don’t see it as a religious thing, for many of the most generous people are not Christians. There is just a certain magic that comes from the lights, the scents, the sounds, that makes people feel better. This week’s ‘good people’ post begins with a young man who shows us his “Christmas Spirit”.
Jayden Perez – age 8
His name is Jayden Perez and he is 8 years old, living in Woodland Park, New Jersey. Not long ago, Jayden told his mom that he wanted to donate all his Christmas gifts this year to the children in Puerto Rico who lost everything to Hurricane Maria in September. But his mom, Ana Rosado, gave him the idea of taking it a step further and starting a toy drive to collect toys for the children of Puerto Rico, and that is what Jayden, with a little bit of help, did! His mom helped to get the word out by posting about the toy drive on her Facebook account, and the response has been overwhelming!
A man in Pennsylvania donated a trailer-load of toys
NBA manager Brandon Eddy sent 11 large boxes full of toys
And of course people from the neighborhood did their share, too
Jayden was even featured on ABC News’ Good Morning America. Jayden and his mom will be flying to Puerto Rico to distribute the toys to several small cities that were hit hard by Maria, and also to an orphanage that needs help.
There are many good people in this story, but it all started with a little boy who wanted to give away his own Christmas presents to help others in need. Thumbs up, young Jayden … keep up the good work!
Jameshia Attaway – age 14
Jameshia Attaway of Indianola, Mississippi turned 14 years old this month. Since her birthday is so close to Christmas, she has a unique way of celebrating … she gives all her gifts away — and then some! It all started six years ago when Jameshia was eight years old and in third grade. She noticed that a girl in her school wore shoes with holes in them. “Children made fun of her,” said Jameshia. “I told my mother that I wanted to buy her a pair of new shoes.” She then realized that many other kids were in need of help, too, while every year she was “overwhelmed” with birthday gifts. So she decided that she could “put on a smile on my face and theirs” by giving her gifts away.
In the six years since that first philanthropic deed, Jameshia’s project has expanded and she now begins preparing in November for the huge birthday bash she throws for local children in need. She writes letters to local businesses and civic groups to garner donations of toys and food, and contacts agencies that provide services for people in need. She also asks family and friends to make gift boxes, teachers to read to children who attend the party, and her mother’s friend to dress up as a princess.
The hardest part, Jameshia said, used to be finding a place large enough to hold the party, but the mayor of her town now allows her to host the event in a city-owned building. She estimates that about 40 local families benefit from her project every year. In addition to her annual party, Jameshia participates in a wide variety of community service projects with her school’s PTA, the Indianola Youth Council and a mayor’s diversity council.
Two years ago, Jameshia was awarded the Prudential ‘Spirit of Community Award’, at a national award ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Remember, if you will, that this young woman is only 14 years old! She has already accomplished, in the past six years, barely half of her young life, more than many of us accomplish in an entire lifetime! I don’t know about you guys, but I am humbled.
When I began this post this evening, I had a direction in mind … people giving because of the holiday spirit. But, as sometimes happens, the stories had a mind of their own and took me down a different path than I first saw, and I stumbled across so many young people doing good for their communities, that the piece changed focus without my realizing it. So often we despair about the youth of today, wonder what the world will look like when this next generation with their droopy drawers and ‘all about me’ attitude is in charge. But if these young people are any indication, I think we will be just fine. Read on …
Deoshanic Petaway – age 15
Homicides hit a ten-year high in the small town of Lima, Ohio last December, much due to an increase in gun violence. Enter Deoshanic Petaway, age 15, who wasn’t about to sit idle while young people were being killed in her community.
Deoshanic started working with an organization called CeaseFire Lima, hoping to help find a solution to the violence at its root cause, so that violence and conflict could be resolved before becoming a life or death situation. What Deoshanic and the group discovered was the story that we are hearing across much of the U.S. today … many community members felt that individuals were arrested or hassled by police without cause.
To help create communication between the police and community members, Deoshanic created a community dialogue space for youth and police to discuss their perspectives and build understanding of one another. Imagine that, folks … a 15-year-old girl advocates for communication as a solution … darn, why didn’t we adults think of that??? Working together with the Chief of Police, City Council members, and her peers, Deoshanic began raising money for body cams for the police officers and for awareness of the safety issues within the community for both police and community members.
To create safe spaces for youth, Deoshanic hosts events, including a Halloween event. For the holiday season, Deoshanic planned a Christmas party in partnership with the Walmart Foundation, United Healthcare, the Lima Police Department, the Lima Public library, a local church, and other youth groups that provide food and toys to children in need. Under the guidance of the West Ohio Foodbank, Deoshanic and Ceasefire Lima’s youth group created Lima’s first youth-led food pantry, the only pantry that has weekend access.
Deoshanic additionally helped establish the Lima Junior City Council so that youth can have a voice in policies that affect their community. By collaborating with other community groups, Deoshanic has demonstrated that change has a greater impact when everyone comes together.
All three of these young people deserve our respect and a round of applause. They obviously come from families with true values, not the faux values of those whose words do not match their actions. And all three of these kids are going to make this world a better place, mark my words.
Thank you all, and remember, my friends, the majority of people on this planet truly are “Good People” … they just get overshadowed by the other variety. Hugs and Love from my home to yours.
I’ve seen lots of tributes today to those 20 children and 6 teachers who were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School ten years ago. Some of the tributes were touching, brought tears, but the only real tribute that would have meaning would be serious and massive gun regulation. Those who don’t support strict gun control measures don’t need to bother to send “thoughts and prayers” to the families who still mourn the loss of their loved ones, for those “thoughts and prayers” are meaningless and their true intentions, to ensure that there will be more lives cut short, are all too clear. Harsh? Damn straight it is … I’m angry … we should all be angry. We may not be able to cure the mental illness that drives people to commit such heinous crimes against humanity, but we CAN and SHOULD eliminate the tools that enable them to kill 26 people in a matter of minutes!
Since the Sandy Hook massacre 10 years ago …
Below is President Biden’s statement marking this 10th anniversary of that horrendous day …
Ten years ago, a lone gunman killed 20 first-graders and 6 educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Today, those first-graders should be sitting in eleventh-grade classrooms, planning for their high school graduation and all the possibilities ahead. Those educators should be preparing lessons for new groups of students and enjoying full lives surrounded by their loved ones. Instead, their desks are forever empty, their families are left with holes in their hearts, and our Nation is missing a piece of its soul.
As we remember and grieve those victims and their families, we acknowledge the pain that the community of Newtown continues to endure. That horrific day changed the lives of every survivor, many of whom still carry physical and emotional wounds. It forced parents across America to wonder whether the goodbye hug they gave their child before school would be the last they ever have, like it was for the Newtown families. And it has driven all of us to reexamine our core values and whether this can be a country that protects the most innocent.
I believe it can. This summer, I signed into law the first major bipartisan gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years, which helps to keep firearms away from people who are a danger to themselves and others. And I have taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other President by this point in their Administration. We are cracking down on so-called ghost guns, rogue gun dealers, and gun traffickers; helping States implement laws for extreme risk protection orders; and boosting investments in community interventions to stop violence. I am also fighting to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The memories of the Newtown victims — and all victims of gun violence — demand nothing less.
I am optimistic because I have seen the courage and resolve of the Sandy Hook families. They have suffered unimaginable loss but have turned their pain into purpose. For some, that has meant advocating for gun safety laws to protect other families from experiencing the same grief. For others, it has meant starting foundations or programs that honor those they lost. Working alongside other families of gun violence victims across America, they have helped shape a new movement for safety, grounded in love for our children, unwavering resilience in the face of grief, and a deeply held dream for a better future.
Today and always, we honor the bright lives lost 10 years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School: Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel D’Avino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, Madeleine Hsu, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Márquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison Wyatt.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 14, 2022, a Day of Remembrance: 10 Years After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. Let us recognize the courage of survivors and families of victims, who continue working to rebuild their lives, and let us commit to eradicating gun violence and helping rebuild communities that have suffered so much.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.
My music posts are almost always just for fun, songs that I like or once liked, music that brings back memories, mostly fond, and that we can all remember from … way back when … a time we still had our teeth, our hair, and our eyesight! Every now and then, though, a song crosses my radar that just begs to be played, that has a message too strong to be ignored, whether I actually like the song or not. Today’s is one such song.
Our friend Clive from ‘cross the pond sent me this a few weeks ago, saying he thought this might be right up my alley. He’s right … it is. One of my pet peeves … probably my strongest pet peeve … is the gun culture in the U.S. There are more guns in the hands of civilians in this country than there are … civilians! It’s crazy, it’s insane, and every day … EVERY DAMN DAY … people die because some fool had a gun. I hate guns, hate the gun culture, and were it in my power, I would erase the 2nd Amendment from the U.S. Constitution. Were it in my power, I would take every gun in this country and place it on Elon Musk’s next flight into nowhere!
This song is about Brenda Spencer, a 16-year-old high school student who lived across the street from Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California. On Monday, January 29, 1979, she opened fire on the school with a rifle her father had given her for Christmas, killing two adults (including the principal) and injuring nine children before going back to her home. Police surrounded her home and waited for seven hours until she gave herself up. In that time, she spoke with a reporter on the phone. When asked why she did it, she replied …
“I just started shooting, that’s it. I just did it for the fun of it. I just don’t like Mondays. I just did it because it’s a way to cheer the day up. Nobody likes Mondays.”
This was a #1 hit in 32 different countries, but it flopped in the U.S., probably because the subject matter hit too close to home. Gun violence is a big problem in America.
Bob Geldof, the leader of the Boomtown Rats, was in Atlanta touring when he heard the news story about Brenda Spencer. Geldof composed the song on the spot, originally as a reggae number. Back in Los Angeles after the tour, a studio demo was recorded with grand piano and vocals. By the time I Don’t Like Mondays was introduced onstage in Loch Lomond, Scotland, the song had been transformed dramatically. Brenda Spencer’s parents tried to have the single banned in the US, without success. Says Geldof …
“I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta with Johnnie Fingers and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said ‘silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload’. I wrote that down. And the journalists interviewing her said, ‘Tell me why?’ It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn’t an attempt to exploit tragedy.”
In 2019 Bob Geldof and Johnnie Fingers reached an agreement in their dispute over who wrote the song, until then credited solely to Geldof. Fingers received a financial settlement and co-credit.
Now, on a personal note, the song itself, the tune, the singing, does not appeal to me. I do love the piano, but the rest … I could easily leave it. But … there is something bigger here … the United States has a gun problem. The Founding Fathers never intended the 2nd Amendment to mean that we could all carry a gun and shoot people at random. Think Brenda Spencer, think Sandy Hook, think Trayvon Martin and so many more just in the past few years. This song … it speaks volumes about what is wrong with America.
My thanks to Clive for turning me onto this song, the story which, if I ever knew it I had long since forgotten. See, that’s part of the problem … we in the U.S. have become so inured to gun violence that … we forget. We forget.
I Don’t Like Mondays The Boomtown Rats
The silicon chip inside her head Gets switched to overload And nobody’s gonna go to school today She’s gonna make them stay at home And daddy doesn’t understand it He always said she was good as gold And he can see no reasons ‘Cause there are no reasons What reason do you need to be shown?
I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays I wanna shoot the whole day down
The Telex machine is kept so clean And it types to a waiting world Her mother feels so shocked, father’s world is rocked And their thoughts turn to their own little girl Sweet sixteen, ain’t that peachy keen Now it ain’t so neat to admit defeat They can see no reasons ‘Cause there are no reasons What reasons do you need, oh oh oh oh?
I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays I wanna shoot the whole day down Down, down, shoot it all down
And all the playing’s stopped in the playground now She wants to play with the toys a while And school’s out early and soon we be learning And the lesson today is how to die And then the bullhorn crackles and the captain tackles With the problems and the hows and whys And he can see no reasons ‘Cause there are no reasons What reason do you need to die, die, oh oh oh?
The silicon chip inside her head Gets switched to overload And nobody’s gonna go to school today She’s gonna make them stay at home And daddy doesn’t understand it He always said she was good as gold And he can see no reasons ‘Cause there are no reasons What reason do you need to be shown?
I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like I don’t like (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like I don’t like (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays (Tell me why) I don’t like Mondays I wanna shoot the whole day down
Back in 1787, the Founding Fathers drafted a brilliant document that would become known as the Constitution of the United States. Unfortunately, they also made some mistakes, one that has cost hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of lives, unnecessarily. You see, the nation was a fledgling, only a few years past gaining their independence from England after a bloody war that they damn near lost, so the framers of the document were leery that a foreign power might see the nation as vulnerable and try to take it while it was still learning to stand on its own. So, after ratifying the original document, they added a “Bill of Rights”, the 2nd Amendment of which gave citizens the “right to bear arms”. This, my friends, was a lethal mistake, one that every one of us have paid for in one way or another.
Now, the Founders figured the best way to protect the nation from foreign interference was to maintain a militia … everyday men … farmers, shopkeepers, etc., who could grab their rifle or musket and march off to defend and protect the nation if the need arose. Thus they wrote the Second Amendment:
“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.”
That’s it, folks, the entire text, all 27 words of it. Sadly, though, the Founders only familiarity with ‘arms’ were muskets and such … never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined AR-15s and AK-47s, weapons that can mow down hundreds of people in less time than it took me to write this sentence. And because of that lack of foresight, the U.S. Supreme Court has been trying ever since to define just what ‘arms’ are to be protected and to what extent.
Unfortunately, long ago common sense flew out the door of the Supreme Court and Congress when the word ‘gun’ is mentioned, and the elements that have determined the ‘law’, such as it is, are those with a vested interest in the weapons industry. Public safety is entirely overlooked in the debate over guns. The only consideration is … $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. I won’t bore you with the lengthy list of cases that have first teetered, then tottered, back and forth, regarding what, if any, regulations should be placed on who can own a gun, how many, what type, etc., but suffice it to say that the U.S. is the only nation on the globe where a person’s right to own a gun is more protected than his right to drive a car.
And as a result …
One week ago yesterday, on May 9th, a sunny afternoon in the small town of Griffin, Georgia, a 12-year-old boy was killed … shot dead by his 5-year-old brother who found a gun that had been tossed into the bushes the day before by three men eluding the police during a chase. According to neighbor Tom Whitehead …
“The little one found a gun, had to be right here… somewhere in these bushes he walked over here, found a gun. Turns around. Thinks he’s playing, says ‘bang bang’. It was loaded and killed him. Think about that mother. The next day, Mother’s Day, and one boy is dead by the hand of his younger brother.”
And as a result …
The total number of deaths by gun violence in the U.S. as of May 16th is 14,815 … a number that is sure to have already increased by the time you read this. 84 of that number were children under the age of 11, and 322 teens under the age of 18 are also included in the number.
And as a result …
In March 2017, a mother and her two-year-old toddler were sitting on the bed, while the nine-year-old was sitting on the floor, playing a video game. The mother had a loaded gun in her hand, but couldn’t find her holster, so she placed the gun (loaded with a round chambered) on the bed next to the two-year-old while she got up to look for her holster. The two-year-old then picked up the gun, pulled the trigger, shot and killed his nine-year-old brother. The mother had, in the past, allowed the toddler to pull the trigger on the gun when it was unloaded.
I could go on, but you get the picture … this is happening every day in the United States. Look at the chart above … already this year, not even five months into the year, we are on track to tie or beat previous years.
The gun culture in the U.S. is beyond crazy. This is not in any way, shape, or form what James Madison meant in 1791 when he proposed the Second Amendment as a way to empower state militias. Today, there are no state militias. None. There are juveniles in grown men’s bodies who believe that they must own a firearm in order to feel like a ‘man’, but these men do not belong to militias and they are doing not one damn thing to keep this country safe, but instead are making it the most dangerous nation in the industrialized world. People in other nations are aghast … “What are you Americans thinking???”, they ask. What are we thinking, indeed?
The wealthy arms manufacturers fund the National Rifle Association who in turn *buys our legislators, thereby ensuring that guns will continue to be a part of what they call “The American Way of Life”. What a joke! “The American Way of Death” would be more apt. And thus it happened that in March, while people were beginning to die by the thousands from the coronavirus, it was the single biggest month for gun sales. WHY??? WTF are people thinking? In April, gun lobbyists convinced the federal government to list gun shops as “essential services” so that while people in some states could not purchase a bottle of wine, or a pack of toilet paper, they could go out and buy a gun. Five states’ governors had the cojones to order gun shops closed anyway, but April’s total was still the fourth highest ever. In three of the five states where gun stores were supposed to be closed, the numbers were higher than they were in April of 2019.
The United States is facing more problems of a greater magnitude today than since the end of World War II, the coronavirus pandemic obviously being at the top of the immediate list. I would rank numbers two and three as racism and gun violence … problems that far outweigh even the sinking economy. And yet, Donald Trump wastes every waking minute ranting, calling out his imagined enemies, denigrating the press, dreaming up conspiracy theories, and patting himself on the back for successes that exist only in his own mind. We’re in trouble, people, and guns are not going to solve the problem, for they ARE a big part of the problem.
* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken NRA donations of $1,267,139 during his congressional career, but the leader of the pack is Mitt Romney, who has taken $13,647,676 during his time in Congress. Interestingly, the 2nd highest in NRA donations is Senator Richard Burr, who is currently under investigation for insider trading violations. Senator Burr has collected a handy $6,987,380 in his twenty-five years in Congress. Source: Brady United Organization
Well, folks, there has been another school shooting. This time, the shooter, Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow, was a sixteen-year-old student at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. His mother dropped him off at school, he went into the school, pulled a gun from his backpack, fired all but one of the rounds in the gun, then turned it on himself and shot himself in the head.
Now, according to the New York Times, investigators are trying to understand why he took the gun out of his backpack and shot his fellow students. I think the more basic question becomes, “Why did this sixteen-year-old boy have access to a gun to begin with?” Police say there is no indication that his mother knew he had the gun in his backpack, but police also say they found six other guns, some not even registered, in his home. It seems to me that the mother (his father is dead) should be under investigation for a) having what qualifies as an illegal arsenal in her home, b) leaving guns unsecured and able to be accessed by children, and c) child neglect/endangerment.
Of the five students he shot, two died from their wounds, three others are hospitalized. The shooter did not immediately die but was rushed to the hospital where he died a day later, Friday afternoon. The two students who were killed are Gracie Anne Muehlberger, a 15-year-old girl, and Dominic Blackwell, a 14-year-old boy. One of the three injured students has been released from the hospital, the other two are expected to be released sometime this weekend. All three are expected to survive … thankfully.
Police say they have no motive … the shooter did not leave behind any manifesto or letter, though it was obviously a planned attack. The FBI are combing social media, looking for some clue as to what may have caused the boy to commit this horrendous crime.
Those are the facts, as they are known today. The story made the news, but it seemingly paled in comparison to the impeachment news, Donald Trump’s hate-filled tweets, Roger Stone’s trial, and Rudy Giuliani’s stupidity. Perhaps it was because this time, only 2 students died? Perhaps the people in this nation are becoming inured to gun violence? Perhaps there is a new feeling of hopelessness, in light of the fact that the National Rifle Association (NRA) appear to control enough of our legislators to keep any gun regulations from passing into law.
So, you are probably asking yourselves why I am even writing about this one, given that I have said it all before, time and time again, and that there is not much that can be added at this point. Well, I’ve asked myself that, as well. Why bother? I’ve said it all before, I’m preaching to the choir because my readers are 99% in agreement with me on this, my words won’t reach the ears of those who need to hear them, and even if they did, they wouldn’t heed my words.
But, it seems to me that if we allow ourselves to fall into that trap, if we throw our hands up in the air and say, “Why bother?”, then we have lost the battle … the good guys will have given up and turned the nation, the lives of our children and grandchildren, over to the thugs. At the very least … the very least … Gracie Anne Muehlberger and Dominic Blackwell deserve to be recognized, to be remembered, to be honoured. But, I believe we owe them more than that.
I believe we owe Gracie Anne and Dominic and the other 842 children under age 18 killed by guns so far in 2019, and the other 2,447 children injured by guns thus far this year, to make our voices heard, to keep on shouting loud and clear, to work to bring about an end to the corruption of our politicians and the NRA. WE OWE IT TO THE CHILDREN!!!
Only in the United States is there free and unfettered access to guns by every man, woman and child, bar almost none. Only in the United States do we send our children to school, never knowing whether they will return at the end of the day. The people who could stop the madness, won’t. Their children haven’t been affected … yet.
Please, friends, vote out the bastards in Congress who take donations from the NRA. Let’s start using some good sense. Find out who in your state is taking NRA money and get them out! Surely the lives of our children matter more than our right to own a killing machine?
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.
As you already know, Tuesday’s school shooting in Colorado hit me like a ton of bricks, was rather the straw that broke the camel’s back. Resources already teetering on the ‘empty’ line, this was my undoing. I tried yesterday to write about it and couldn’t … simply could not do the heroes of this and the previous school shootings justice … my words were cold and flat. Then yesterday, waiting in my inbox, was Nicholas Kristoff’s piece about the shooting and his related opinion. I passed it over, bookmarked it for ‘later’. And then, in an email chat with our friend Ellen, she mentioned that I should read it. So, at 2:00 a.m., hot (our a/c is on the fritz), and unable to sleep, I read the piece … and it said just what I had wanted to say on Tuesday night.
I try to minimize the number of editorial pieces I share verbatim, but sometimes they simply must be shared, and this is one such.
We Have 2 Dead Young Heroes. It’s Time to Stand Up to Guns.
It’s too late to save Kendrick Castillo and Riley Howell, but we can honor them by taking on gun violence.
By Nicholas Kristof
May 8, 2019
Politicians fearful of the National Rifle Association have allowed the gun lobby to run amok so that America now has more guns than people, but there is still true heroism out there in the face of gun violence: students who rush shooters at the risk of their own lives.Let’s celebrate, and mourn, a student named Kendrick Castillo, 18, just days away from graduating in Highlands Ranch, Colo., who on Tuesday helped save his classmates in English literature class from a gunman.
“Kendrick lunged at him, and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape,” Nui Giasolli, a student in the classroom, told the “Today” show. Kendrick was killed, and eight other students were injured.
At least three boys in the class — one of them Brendan Bialy, who hopes to become a Marine — tackled and disarmed the gunman. “They were very heroic,” Nui said. Bravo as well to the police officers who arrived within two minutes of the shooting and seized the two attackers.
The courage of those students in Colorado echoes last week’s bravery of Riley Howell, a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Riley, 21, charged a gunman there and continued even as he was shot twice. As he tackled the gunman he was shot a third time, in the head, and killed, but he ended the shooting.
Riley was deservedly given a hero’s funeral, and presumably the same will happen with Kendrick. But their parents didn’t want martyrs; they wanted children and grandchildren. And it is appalling that we as a society have abandoned American kids so that they must die to save their classmates.
When New Zealand experienced a mass shooting in March, it took the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just 26 days to tighten gun laws and ban assault rifles. In contrast, America has had 53 years of inaction since the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966 claimed 17 lives. Sandy Hook … Las Vegas … Parkland — so many dead; so little done.
Since 1970, 1.45 million Americans have died from guns — suicides, murders and accidents. That’s more than the 1.4 million Americans estimated to have died in all the wars in American history going back to the American Revolution.
This should also make us all cringe: In a typical year, more American children ages 4 and younger die from firearms (110 in 2016) than police officers do in the line of duty (65 in 2016).
So let’s send thoughts and prayers to the families of victims in Colorado and North Carolina, but let’s also push for a sensible gun policy that would make such heroics less necessary.
Granted, this is complicated. America has so many guns out there that new restrictions may not be as effective as we would hope. The 10-year ban on assault rifles from 1994 to 2004 had trouble defining assault weapons and had an uncertain impact.
Still, there are obvious steps worth taking. A starting point would be to require universal background checks before all firearms sales. Some 22 percent of guns are still acquired in the U.S. without a background check; a person wanting to adopt a rescue dog often undergoes a more thorough check than a person buying an assault rifle.
Safe storage of guns — in gun safes or with trigger locks — prevents children and others from accessing firearms. Voluntary gun buybacks would reduce the pool of firearms out there. We should also invest in “smart gun” technologies that require a code or fingerprint to fire. We need more “red-flag laws” that make it more difficult for people to obtain guns when they present a threat to themselves or others.
And tell me: Why do we bar people on the terrorism watch list from boarding planes while still allowing them to purchase guns?
In 2011, a spokesman for Al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn, urged would-be terrorists in America to pick up an assault rifle at a gun show, where there might not be a background check. He emphasized how easy this is and added, “What are you waiting for?”
Other steps to lower gun deaths don’t even directly involve firearms. Programs like Cure Violence and Becoming a Man have been shown effective in reducing violence among at-risk young people. The military has conducted experiments showing that counseling can reduce suicides (a majority of gun deaths in America are suicides).
Every day in 2017, the last year for which we have figures, an average of 107 people died in America from guns. We’re not able to avert every shooting, but we can save some lives. We need not have the courage of the students who charged gunmen; we just need to demand action from our members of Congress and state legislators.
That’s the best way to honor heroes like Kendrick Castillo and Riley Howell, by making such heroics less necessary in classrooms around America.
The Supreme Court, the branch of the federal government that is supposed to be most independent, that is intended to hold the executive and legislative branches accountable, has made two major decisions today that indicate they have fallen and landed squarely in the camp of Donald Trump. I am beyond disappointed … I am incensed, and I see our rights as citizens of this plutocracy going down the drain.
Supreme Court revives Trump’s transgender military ban
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender people while court challenges continue. The court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have.
Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. That changed under President Barack Obama. The military announced in 2016 that transgender individuals already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017 as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.
Trump, of course, had to undo that, for two reasons: a) it was a decision made during the Obama administration, and Trump has a goal to undo every single thing Obama did, and b) because Donald Trump and his supporters are homophobic bigots. There is no viable reason to ban transgender people from the military, and this decision does not reflect the feelings of the majority in this nation!
Supreme Court returns to gun rights for 1st time in 9 years
The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits. The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.
New York’s ordinance allows people licensed to have handguns to carry them outside the home to gun ranges in the city. The guns must be locked and unloaded. The city residents who filed suit want to practice shooting at target ranges outside the city or take their guns to second homes elsewhere in New York state. The city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter, urged the court to reject the case, arguing that the restrictions allowed New York police to reduce the number of guns carried in public.
Just about the last … the very last … thing we need in this country is an expansion of 2nd Amendment ‘rights’! The NRA has already nearly ensured that gun deaths in the U.S. will continue to be the highest per capita on the globe. What do we want … are we shooting for some sort of record here … “let’s see if we can top last year’s gun deaths”?
Both of these issues are beyond merely concerning on their own merit, but the even greater concern is the trend that is appearing. It is a trend we all feared when first, Neil Gorsuch, then Brett Kavanaugh were seated on the Supreme Court. It is deeply disturbing that the Supreme Court appears to be making decisions strictly along partisan lines rather than considering issues on Constitutional merit. The real concern, however, lies on the path ahead. There are two prior Supreme Court rulings that ultra-conservative republicans, evangelicals, Trump’s base, want to see overturned: Roe v Wade, and Obergefell v Hodges. The first guarantees a woman the right to make decisions about her own body, her own life. The second guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry. Both were long, hard-fought battles and are, in short, about human rights … civil rights.
In addition to those, it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will soon be asked to hear cases involving gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement. Our constitutional rights … all of them … may be in jeopardy if the Court cannot manage to overcome it’s partisanship. After Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation, Chief Justice John Roberts, in an effort to quell growing concerns of partisanship on the Court, made the following statement:
“… We do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest. We serve one nation. And I want to assure all of you that we will continue to do that to the best of our abilities, whether times are calm or contentious.”
The day might have come when I would have written about a young lady named Sandra Parks in one of my Wednesday ‘good people’ posts. She was only 13-years-old, but she had already shown that her heart was good. Two years ago, in sixth grade, young Sandra wrote an award-winning essay about gun violence and crime in her hometown of Milwaukee for the Martin Luther King, Jr. annual essay contest. In her essay, she called for more empathy and less negativity, and emphasized the importance of getting an education to make the world a better place.
But I will not be able to see what Sandra might have done to help improve the world, and I will not be able to write about her efforts to help people, for Sandra was shot and killed on Monday as she sat in her bedroom watching television.The bullet that hit Sandra in the chest was not meant for her … it was a stray bullet from gunfire on the street in front of her home. Milwaukee Public Schools, in a statement mourning her loss, said Sandra is the 7th child attending a district school to die by homicide in 2018. Let that one sink in for a minute … SEVEN children have died by homicide in less than eleven months in a single school district!
Tell me again, Mr. NRA member, how more guns is making us safer? Or, perhaps you would like to explain this concept to Sandra Parks’ mother, Bernice? Or her sister, Tatiana?
Bernice Parks (mother)
Tatiana Parks (sister)
I saw something in passing a few days ago that posed the question: “If, as the NRA claims, more guns make us safer, shouldn’t the U.S. be the safest nation in the world with the lowest incidence of crimes?” But instead we have this …And we have yet another dead child because an angry person fired a gun on the street in front of what should have been the safest place in the world for young Sandra Parks. Who knows what wonderful things Sandra Parks might have done with her life … if only she had been allowed to live. What a shame … what a damn shame! Please take a moment to read Sandra’s award-winning essay …
Sometimes, I sit back and I have to escape from what I see and hear every day. I put my headphones on and let the music take me away. I move to the beat and try to think about life and what everything means. When I do, I come to the same conclusion. . . we are in a state of chaos. In the city in which I live, I hear and see examples of chaos almost every day. Little children are victims of senseless gun violence. There is too much black on black crime. As an African-American, that makes me feel depressed. Many people have lost faith in America and its ability to be a living example of Dr. King’s dream!
The truth is faith and hope in what people can do, has been lost in the poor choices we make. We shall overcome has been lost in the lie of who we have become! So now, the real truth is, we need to rewrite our story so that faith and hope for a better tomorrow, is not only within us, but we believe it and we put into actions.
Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other. We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. We shall overcome when we begin to understand and accept each other. We shall overcome when we eliminate the negative and nasty comments people make about each other. We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brother’s keeper.
Our second truth is that we need to have purpose. We are the future generation, therefore we must have an education to make a positive difference in the world. We are the future leaders, but if we don’t have an education, we will accomplish nothing. We will overcome, when we use our education to make the world a better place. We will become the next President, law enforcement officers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and law makers. We cannot continue to put the responsibility on other people. It is our responsibility as future leaders!
We must not allow the lies of violence, racism, and prejudice to be our truth. The truth begins with us. Instead of passing each other like ships in the night, we must fight until our truths stretch to the ends of the world.