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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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.

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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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Just … Hugs

This morning, I posted about the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas.  Just an hour before that post was published, there was another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, just about 20 miles from my own home.  Anything I would write today would not be not be pretty.  And so, I leave you with just one two huggy thoughts …

snoopy

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Time For ‘Toons!!!

Ever have one of those days where nothing goes right?  It started with getting up late, finding that the kitties had knocked over my flowers and water was everywhere, then trying to quickly get a beef roast into the crock pot for supper took me nearly an hour for some reason.  So, long story short, I am in a time crunch today and thought … what a perfect opportunity to showcase some cartoons!  Political cartoons sometimes make us laugh, sometimes shake our heads, and sometimes make us want to cry, but they say so much with a simple drawing.  So, let’s see how the cartoonists have viewed the past week or two …


Trump does love tariffs.  Too bad he doesn’t understand them.  

tariffs-1tariffs-2tariffs-3toon-2tariffs-4


One of the biggest issues dividing this nation … one of the few hundred, that is … is guns.  Every time there is a multiple-death shooting as there was in Virginia Beach on May 31st, the debate becomes more vocal, with the gun nuts saying “this isn’t the time to discuss it”, and the rest of us positing that this is exactly the time to discuss it. 

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Of course, regardless of political party, the “I-word” is on everybody’s mind these days …

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Who can resist poking fun at ol’ 2-faced Lindsey Graham?

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And just for kicks …

democracyTom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c190609.tiftoon-1.jpg


Have a great week, folks … remember, humour helps us maintain perspective in these troubled times!

Not a damn thing

As you all know by now, I am a proponent of strict gun laws at the federal level … the sort of gun laws that gives the NRA and weapons manufacturers nightmares. We have just had another mass shooting in this country, and I was debating about whether and how to write about it, when I came across Keith’s excellent post. Why re-invent the wheel, right? Thank you, Keith, for this post. Someday, perhaps, people will clean out their ears and listen to us, eh?

musingsofanoldfart

What a surprise, yet another shooting in America. This one occurred in my home town at a place where I have visited. That disappoints me, but is irrelevant. It can happen anywhere in a America and the legislators will do what they tend to do – not a damn thing.

As I was learning of the Jacksonville Landing shooting, I saw three more stories about shootings where I live now. To witness the magnitude of the problem, just count the gun death stories in the news for a month. Gun deaths happen everyday and you know what will be done about them – not a damn thing.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. It could be said about continuing to do not a damn thing and expecting a different outcome. It is apparent doing little to nothing is not…

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When Does It End??? 😞

milo-yiannopolousFar-right activist, white supremacist, bigot extraordinaire Milo Yiannopoulos:

“I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.”

Well, yesterday Mr. Y got his wish, and I hold him at least partly responsible for the five deaths of journalists at the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.

Donald Trump, by the way, sent his insincere, meaningless ‘thoughts and prayers’, just like he always does, despite the fact that he is also partly to blame for calling the media “the enemy of the people”.

And guess what, folks?  The shooter, the murderer, was not a Muslim, not a Mexican, not an immigrant.  He was a homegrown white male in his 30s.

Details are still vague or unreleased, but it is not too early to point some fingers, and two of mine to to the ‘gentlemen’ aforementioned, for they gave license for this heinous act. One Twitter user, I thought, said everything that needed to be said:

“Don’t even bother pretending to care about the victims of gun violence or violence against members of the press until you get your hands out of the NRA’s pocket and stop referring to the media as the “enemy of the people”.gun-pointingMass shootings, attacks on media … when and where does it end?

If You Give A Man An Amendment …

If you give a man an amendment …

He’s going to want a gun.

When you give him the gun, he’ll probably ask you for some gunpowder.

And once he has the gunpowder all loaded, it’s a cinch he will want to shoot the gun.

And once he has shot the gun, he will need to re-load it.  Since this will become tedious, he will want a better gun.

When you give him a pistol, he will no doubt want bullets.

When he has bullets, he will load the gun and once again want to shoot something.

But once he has shot the paper full of holes, he will be bored and he will want an even bigger gun.

Now, he has the biggest and best, so you can guess what’s next … he’s going to want to shoot something.

And once he has shot his gun and has killed many people, he will want justice, though he gave none to his victims.

But even though you give him justice …

There will be more men …

more guns …

more murders …

until all that is left …

are the men with guns.


Apologies to Laura Joffe Numeroff, author of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, the inspiration for this post.

A Recipe … For Disaster!

It is that time of year when young people are packing up their gear to head back to college.  Making a list and checking it twice, so to speak:

Sheets, towels, pillowcases?  Check.

Coffee pot, hot plate, microwave?  Check

Radio, television, laptop computer?  Check

Deodorant, shampoo, gun, hairbrush?  Check

WAIT A MINUTE!!!  Did you just say “gun”? Take a gun to school? Sure … it’s fine … if your school is in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah or Wisconsin, that is.  Each of these eight states have recently passed laws making it permissible for students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. The most recent, and most controversial of these is Texas, who’s law just went into effect this week.

There are, predictably, two schools of thought here.  Simply put, some believe that more guns will make campuses safer and cut down on the number of violent crimes on campus. Others believe that more guns, especially in the hands of students who have not yet reached full emotional maturity, will only lead to more violence, and ultimately deaths.  I have read both sides of the issue, and I tend to find a number of holes in the “pro-gun” side.  But my opinion is not the one that counts.  The ones that count are those of the students, staff and professors who have to spend their days surrounded by gun-toting, hormonal students! Overwhelmingly, professors and students alike are against the idea!

The opinions that count are those who will be affected by such a law, and   Let us look at some of the arguments on both sides:

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Pro:

  • Students for Concealed Carry, claims that “campus carry” will deter sexual assault on college campuses by allowing women to arm themselves.
    • A study based on FBI Uniform Crime Reports and Clery Act data from 2004-2013 found that, contrary to the pro-gun lobby’s claims, the presence of guns on campus did not deter sexual assault. In fact, campuses in Colorado and Utah that were forced to introduce “campus carry” over this 10-year period have shown a marked increase in reports of sexual assault.
  • Advocates for allowing students and faculty members with appropriate permits to carry guns on college campuses often argue that the presence of concealed weapons will deter acts of violence. Because the weapons are required by law to be kept concealed, the logic goes, would-be perpetrators of violence will think twice before initiating their violent plans, possibly abandoning them entirely.
    • Repeated college campus shootings have shown that attackers often do not expect to survive their rampages. They seem in many cases to anticipate taking their own lives or inflicting as much damage as possible until brought down by law enforcement.
  • Advocates of on-campus concealed carry also argue that when a shooting does commence, law-abiding concealed-weapon carriers will be able to intervene and therefore cut short the time and scope of the attacker’s rampage.
    • Concealed carry permit holders are not trained in these types of situations and are more likely to hit the innocent than to actually be able to take down the shooter.

The arguments in favour of allowing guns on campus sound good on paper, but the reality is that there are fatal flaws in that line of thinking. More than 300,000 Texas students signed a letter asking state legislators to reject the bill allowing guns in college cafeterias, dorms and classrooms.  The majority of professors and staff are against the law, and three professors at the University of Texas have filed lawsuits to overturn the law.  So, what are the concerns?

gun-college-3Con:

  • When there are more guns around, there is more risk.
  • It has been suggested professors consider changing their curricula to avoid controversial subjects, which restricts the ability to have a free and open intellectual discourse, candid even with brazen emotions—that shouldn’t be at the cost of the professor having to think in the back of his mind, ‘Alright, where is this going? Is there somebody in my classroom who is carrying a tool whose purpose is to end human life?’
  • According to the F.B.I., mass shootings account for less than 2 percent of gun-related deaths, while suicide accounts for roughly 61 percent of gun-related deaths. College students are more likely to use a gun on themselves than to protect themselves during a mass shooting.

I am certain there are more arguments on each side of this coin, but these are the main ones.  With the large majority opposed to the law, I ask myself: how and why did this even become a law?  The answer, I believe, is the same as the answer to so many other questions:  follow the money.

The measure is being hailed as a victory by gun rights advocates and criticized by many students and professors as irresponsible and unnecessary. Those backing it include local and national gun rights groups, including Students for Concealed Carry and the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association (NRA); Tea Party activists; and Sheriff Parnell McNamara of McLennan County, which includes Waco. Need I say more?

gun-pointing“An armed society is a safe society, so any time you have gun control, there is far more opportunity to become victims,” said State Representative Jonathan Stickland, a Republican and Tea Party favorite who often does his legislative work at the Capitol wearing his concealed .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol. “The criminals aren’t going to obey the laws. It’s the responsible folks who we should be encouraging to protect themselves in the community they live in.”  How often do we have to hear this tired, old argument?  Granted, most concealed-carry permit holders are probably responsible and law-abiding, however it will only take a fraction of irresponsible owners for additional fatalities.  And remember that we are talking about a group, the majority of whose population falls in the 17-22 age group.  Legally adults, but emotionally still very immature.

It seems to me that if a state is going to pass a law that affects a specific group of people, in this case students, professors and staff, then they should consider whether or not the majority of that specific group even wants or sees benefit in the law.  Unless, of course, the NRA is giving money to the legislators and governor to get the law passed, in which case, the people affected by the law do not matter, do not have a voice.

College is often referred to as an “institution of higher learning”.  Higher learning.  In high school, you learned the “what, when, how, where”, but college is where you learn the all-important “why”.  You learn to question,  to reason, to develop your own ideas and concepts, to test those concepts and, most importantly of all, to think for yourself.  That, above all else, is what college is about, and if having a classroom full of students toting guns is going to stifle that, then by the next generation, we will have a generation of lemmings, or “sheeple” as my friend H likes to call them.  Think about it.