Two Children Died — They Shouldn’t Have

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[1] 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 [2] and get them out!  Surely the lives of our children matter more than our right to own a killing machine?

[1] Gun Violence Archive 2019

[2] Open Secrets database … searchable by state, party, election cycle, amount

Note to readers:  Saturday Surprise is on hiatus for this week … I felt this was more important.  Apologies, and Saturday Surprise will, hopefully, return next week.

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

One Man’s Take On The Recent School Shootings

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.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

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.school-shootingLet’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 Has Lost Its Way …

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 justices


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.”

Prove that to us, please, Chief Justice.

Speaking of Sandra Parks …

Sandra ParksThe 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.Sandra Parks-houseThe 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

Bernice Parks (mother)

Tatiana Parks

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 …gun violenceAnd 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 …

Our Truth

Sandra Parks-awardSometimes, 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.

No, Folks, This Is NOT Normal …

Yesterday morning we awoke to news of another mass shooting, this one at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, that left 13 dead, including the gunman.  The first headline I saw claimed it was the “First mass shooting in the U.S. in over 10 days”, as if that were a statistic in which we ought to take pride.  First, a mass shooting every eleven days would be nothing to be proud of even if true, but the reality is that it was not the first, but rather the eleventh mass shooting since the shooting at L’Simcha (Tree of Life) synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 27th.  Eleventh.  Think about this one for a moment.  Did you realize there had been, on average, one mass shooting per day for the past ten?  Why did we not know?  How could we have missed it?mass shootings map-2According to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 307 mass shootings in the 312 days of 2018.  It has become a common occurrence in our lives and we are, apparently, no longer shocked.  Five people shot, nobody died … oh well, just another day in paradise, eh?

The words of one parent whose son, Telemachus Orfanos, lost his life yesterday morning tell it all …

“I don’t want prayers.  I don’t want thoughts.  I want gun control.”

Telemachus had survived the Las Vegas massacre last year, only to lose his life in this one.

Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona who was shot in 2011, tweeted …

“307. There have been 307 mass shootings so far this year. Do we really want to raise our children in a country where mass shootings like Thousand Oaks are a weekly occurrence? A country where every single day in America, more than 90 people are killed with guns?  Classrooms. Places of worship. Newsrooms. Movie theaters. Restaurants. Yoga studios. Nightclubs. Playgrounds. No place in America feels safe anymore. No other high-income nation has this level of gun violence. I’m heartbroken, angry, and never going to accept this as normal.”

None of us should ever be willing to accept this as normal … it isn’t.  I’ve quoted statistics in past posts, so I won’t bore you with them again, except to say that every other nation in the industrialized world has stricter gun laws than the U.S., and not a single one has the number of gun deaths … not even close … that the U.S. sees every single year.  Every.  Single.  Year.

Tree of Life synagogue, Parkland, Las Vegas, Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook … how many more?  How many more people in this country have to die before somebody wakes up and says ENOUGH!!!  Small men who rely on guns to make them feel like big men need to find some other outlet for their anger!  We The People are tired of the killing.  The NRA owns most every republican in Congress, as well as the small man sitting in the Oval Office.

Please … don’t sit back and shrug this one off, don’t accept that gun violence in the United States has to be ‘the norm’.  It doesn’t have to be.  Write letters, make your voice heard, or one of these days it might be you who gets that call in the middle of the night.gun-pointing

A Tribute to the Victims …

Wednesday’s tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has left a dark cloud over this nation.  While I will have more to say about how avoidable this could have been, and how sad that we, as a nation, place the value of our steel toys above the lives of our children, for today I find it more appropriate to honour the victims.  I cannot possibly do any better job than ThinkProgress has done with their tribute that includes pictures of 14 of the 17 victims, as well as a brief bio and some comments from friends.  And so with that, I ask you to please click the link below to learn a little bit about each victim in order to make this senseless tragedy a bit more personal, a bit more real.  And please keep the community and the families of these victims, many of them children, in your hearts and thoughts.

The Victims of the Parkland Shooting

Parkland 2

It’s Not The Rhetoric, It’s The Guns – Bill Press, 16 June 2017

I almost never do this, copy an article in its entirety, but this one stands out and I think deserves to be heard.  Bill Press is a political analyst/commentator, author, and talk show host.  He is among my favourites because, though liberal leaning, he is always fair and respectful.  The column you are about to read was actually deleted by Opinionated, a weekly op-ed aggregator to which I subscribe.  My curiosity was piqued when I saw that this column had been deleted last Sunday morning, so I went in search of the column to find out why it was the victim of censorship.  After reading the column, I am still not certain why, but I believe these words should be shared.  

bill-press

Bill Press

It’s not the rhetoric, it’s the guns – Bill Press, 16 June 2017

No words can adequately describe the tragedy we experienced this week when a lone gunman opened fire on a group of congressmen doing nothing more than playing baseball — getting in one last practice in Alexandria, Virginia, before this year’s version of the last occasion left in Washington where members of both parties actually have a good time together: the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

Within minutes, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA.) was down and one staffer and one former staffer were wounded, as were two brave Capitol Police officers who rushed the shooter and returned fire. Without a doubt, had those two officers not been present, the ballfield would have turned into a slaughterhouse.

In the wake of the shooting, there were those who seized the moment to unite the country in the right mix of outrage and sorrow, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, who told House Members: “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” One image of that day he’ll never forget, said Ryan: “And that is a photo I saw of our Democratic colleagues gathered in prayer this morning after hearing the news.”

Sadly, there were also dunderheads who seized the moment to divide the country by scoring political points, led by former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who called the shooting “part of a pattern” and told Fox News: “You’ve had an increasing intensity of hostility on the left.” While Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) rushed to blame Democrats: “I can only hope that the Democrats do tone down the rhetoric.”

Turning an attempted assassination into cheap partisan sniping is not only disgusting, it’s dead wrong. Just because the gunman happened to be a Bernie Sanders supporter who hated Republicans doesn’t mean he represents all Democrats, any more than a mass murderer who happens to be a Christian represents Jesus Christ.

Moreover, while it’s true there’s too much hate-filled language in today’s politics and everybody needs to tone down the rhetoric, the most inflammatory language is not coming from the left. It’s from the right. And nobody’s guiltier of it than Donald Trump, who has called James Comey a “nut job,” Barack Obama a “sick man,” Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman,” and journalists “the enemy of the American people.”

Or consider this tweet from Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) campaign, just one year ago, on June 23, 2016, quoting Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano: “Why do we have a Second Amendment? It’s not to shoot deer. It’s to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical.” One can only hope the good Senator had second thoughts about that kind of incendiary rhetoric when he himself was one of those shot at on the Alexandria ballfield.

More importantly, the whole discussion about political rhetoric misses the point. It doesn’t matter whether the gunman was a Democrat, Republican, independent, socialist, communist, or Green Party member. The point is: He had no business being able to buy, own, and tote around an assault rifle and an automatic pistol.

Where’s the outrage about gun violence? In 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 384 mass shootings — defined as four or more killed or wounded by gunfire — in the United States. More than one a day! So far in 2017, there have been 154. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, between 2001 and 2013, 406,496 people died by firearms on U.S. soil. An average 31 Americans are murdered by guns every day.

What happened in Alexandria, in fact, wasn’t the only shooting on June 14. Three people were also gunned down at a UPS facility in San Francisco. Six people were killed and 37 wounded by gunfire on the streets of Chicago last weekend. And, as shocking as it was to see a U.S. congressman struck by gunfire, let’s not forget this: the life of every one of those victims in San Francisco and Chicago is worth every bit as much as the life of any Member of Congress.

What will it take for Congress to act? What will it take before Congress stops protecting the gun manufacturers and starts protecting the American people?

Even though they failed to act after Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Charleston, or Orlando, you might think they’d consider some common-sense gun safety measures after one of their own is struck.

Think again. Six years ago, Congress did nothing after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot. They’ll do nothing this year after Congressman Steve Scalise was shot. The NRA still rules the U.S. Congress. Shame!

A Brilliant Idea??? Hardly …

On Thursday, June 1st, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin provided the solution to one of America’s biggest problems:  gun violence.  Why is gun violence one of our biggest problems, you ask?  Well, consider briefly just a few statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • From 2011-2015, the annual average of gun deaths in the U.S. was 33,880; the daily average was 93.
  • For every one person killed with guns, two more are injured.
  • America’s gun homicide rate is more than 25 times the average of other high-income countries.
  • Black men are 14 times more likely than non-Hispanic white men to be shot and killed with guns.
  • When a gun is present in a situation of domestic violence, it increases the risk the woman will be killed fivefold.

bevin-2So now that we are all in agreement that something needs to be done to reverse this trend, let us consider Governor Bevin’s proposed solution.  Bevin announced that his anti-violence plan will involve encouraging prayer-groups to patrol certain blocks in the West End area of Louisville  several days a week, every week for a year. The groups will consist of three to 10 people, and will commence nightly at 7 p.m., according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. The groups will make their way through the city streets, praying as they walk.

“I’m going to ask you to walk that block, do it at the same time every single week,” Bevin said. “I’m going to ask you to stick with your block all year.”

GASP!  What brilliance!  Give this man a gold star!  Why didn’t the rest of us think of that?  Why hasn’t Congress mandated prayer groups in every city?  And the Brady Campaign … why, they have been seeking solutions to gun violence since 1974! Here I have been advocating for stricter gun laws, for a ban on assault-type weapons, for an end to the NRA … and all along, I missed the simple solution that was right under my nose!

The reason Congress, President Obama, President Bush, the Brady Campaign and others, as well as myself never considered Bevin’s idea is because … it is without a doubt the stupidest, most asinine idea anybody has ever proposed for reducing and preventing gun violence!

First … we have a tenet built into our Constitution that calls for ‘separation of church and state’.  Ours is a secular government and for any government official to recommend religion as a government-backed solution to a national problem is wrong.

Second … dozens of major religions are followed in the U.S.  Which religion should these wandering groups be?  Jain?  Rastafarian?  Sikh?  Christian?  Jewish?  Which?  Not to mention that there are a number of agnostics and atheists, as well as secularists who are equal citizens.

Third … and most important … what the Sam Heck good is that going to do???  The man who gets mad at his wife for cooking his steak too well done and in a moment of rage pulls a gun … is he going to run out the front door and try to find one of those roving cults to talk him out of it?  The drug addict that needs money for a fix and decides to rob a convenience store … is he likely to be swayed by a group of people spouting religion?  No, no and no.

Even people who are very religious are shaking their heads over this one.  As one commenter put it, it is akin to teaching abstinence to reduce teen pregnancy.  Citizens and religious leaders alike walked out of the governor’s meeting early and in disgust.  One attendee, Reverend Clay Calloway, left saying, “The only thing I wish was present was a barf bag in front of my seat so I could throw up.”  Another, Joe Phelps, called it a ‘political ploy’, and said, “I believe in prayer. That’s not the answer here and for him to reduce the problems of violence to getting people to go pray for a block is an embarrassment to Christianity.”

Since Governor Bevin said he did not necessarily intend this ‘project’ to receive state funding, it appears to me that it is, indeed, a mere political ploy.  Kentucky is a part of ‘Bible belt’ America, and perhaps Bevin hoped to win brownie points among all those white evangelicals, but the bottom line is that his proposal belongs in the trash and they should actually dock his pay for wasting his time on such rubbish.

Let us be perfectly clear about something.  People walking the streets chanting their prayers will not likely stop even one single murder.  The only thing that is going to reduce gun violence significantly is to reduce the number of guns in the hands of citizens.  PERIOD. The United States has the highest per capita gun fatality rate in the western world for one reason only:  it has virtually no gun regulation.  Mentally ill people can legally carry concealed weapons.  Almost anybody over the age of 18 can purchase a firearm.  Even a convicted felon can purchase a gun in certain venues.  This is madness!

An interesting, unrelated story about Bevin … in 2014 he ran against Mitch McConnell for U.S. Senate.  During that campaign, he attended and spoke at a pro-cockfighting rally in Corbin, Kentucky. When criticized for it, he claimed that he did not realize what the event was.  Tell you something about the man?

And for the record, Bevin is not the only one in a state government who is delusional.  In Pennsylvania, for example, a bill is under consideration to make gun owners a protected class of citizens!  The bill, if passed, would no longer allow employers to forbid gun owners from having their guns with them while at work, although it may be limited to outdoor areas. And a new law in Georgia will make it legal to carry concealed firearms to university-sponsored tailgating events.

I must ask, as I have asked so many times in the past … what is this bizarre fascination with a piece of steel that people are willing to sacrifice human life, even the lives of their families, to keep a cold piece of steel under their shirt.  I will not ever understand … I do not wish to understand.