Looking Up

I always enjoy Clay Jones’ cartoons, but I enjoy his commentary even more. He is an astute observer of the politics of the day and his words are typically as wise as any OpEd writer … though often spicier! His latest is spot-on … Republicans are desperately trying to distract us, to direct our attention anywhere but where it belongs.


I called a goon a “goon” yesterday and it upset him.

I enjoy reading the comments my cartoons get at GoComics but I don’t always interact with the readers there. But sometimes I’ll see a comment that I feel needs addressing. Yesterday, one of the right-wingers suggested a topic that fit his narrative, like that’s what I’m here for. I don’t see these guys telling the Boks, Varvels, and Lesters to draw on gun control, equal rights, Black Lives Matter, or women’s rights. Maybe someone should suggest a cartoon about climate change to Ben Garrison.

But this reader suggested a draw a cartoon that would feed his narrative, something he obviously saw while watching Tucker. I replied that it’s funny he found that to be an important issue while totally ignoring the mass shooting on Monday night that occurred at Michigan State University which resulted in three deaths from the…

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What James Madison Would Think Today …

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

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

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

By Andrew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Data per Gun Violence Archive

DeSantis Is No ‘Golden Boy’

It seems that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is on the path to becoming the Republican Party’s next ‘golden boy’, now that the former guy has perhaps placed the final straw on the camel’s back with multiple losses in the mid-terms and then his meeting with the ignoble white supremacist Nazi, Nick Fuentes.  But make no mistake … DeSantis is not worthy, perhaps no more so than the former guy.  One of my favourite columnists, Frank Bruni, tells us why.

He’ll be sold as a paragon of reason. Don’t buy it.

By Frank Bruni

01 December 2022

Elon Musk is a geyser of gibberish, so it’s important not to make too much of anything he says. But a recent Twitter thread of his deserved the attention it got, if not for the specific detail on which most journalists focused.

They led with Musk’s statement that he would support a Ron DeSantis candidacy for the presidency in 2024. That obviously disses one Donald Trump, though it should come as no surprise: Magnates like Musk typically cling to the moment’s shiniest toys, and DeSantis, fresh off his re-election, is a curiously gleaming action figure.

But how Musk framed his attraction to the Florida governor was revealing — and troubling. He expressed a desire for a candidate who’s “sensible and centrist,” implying that DeSantis is both.

In what universe? He’s “sensible and centrist” only by the warped yardsticks of Trump, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kari Lake and the like. But those yardsticks will be used frequently as various Republicans join the 2024 fray. And therein lies real danger.

Trump’s challengers will be defined in relation to him, casting them in a deceptively flattering light. They’ll be deemed steady because he’s not, on the ball because he’s out to lunch, enlightened because they don’t sup with Holocaust deniers. They’ll be realists to his fantasist, institutionalists to his nihilist, preservationists to his arsonist.

None of those descriptions will be true. Some will be persuasive nonetheless.

That dynamic is already doing wonders for DeSantis as he flies high over a very low bar. “Look!” say Republicans eager to take back the White House. “It’s Superman!” Hardly. But his promoters are hoping that the shadow of Trump produces such an optical illusion.

“Plenty of Americans across the partisan divide would have good reason to root for him,” Jim Geraghty, the senior political correspondent for the conservative journal National Review, wrote in a recent essay in The Washington Post that praised DeSantis. Parts of it made DeSantis sound consensus-minded, conciliatory. That’s some trick.

Geraghty added: “Given the bizarre state of American politics during the Trump era, DeSantis would represent a return to normality.” The “given” in that sentence is working overtime, and “normality” fits DeSantis about as well as “sensible” and “centrist” do.

It is not normal to release a campaign ad, as DeSantis did last month, that explicitly identifies you as someone created and commanded by God to pursue the precise political agenda that you’re pursuing. Better words for that include “messianic,” “megalomaniacal” and “delusional.”

It is not sensible to open a new state office devoted to election crimes when there is scant evidence of any need for it. That is called “pandering.” It is also known as a “stunt.”

It is not centrist to have a key aide who tweeted that anyone who opposed the “Don’t Say Gay” education law in Florida was “probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.” Those were the words of Christina Pushaw, who was then DeSantis’s press secretary and “transformed the governor’s state messaging office into a hyperpartisan extension of his political efforts,” as Matt Dixon noted in Politico, adding that she “used the position to regularly pick public fights with reporters on social media, amplify right-wing media outlets and conservative personalities and attack individuals who oppose or challenge DeSantis.”

DeSantis’s response to her derisive and divisive antics? He made her the “rapid response director” for his re-election campaign. Because that’s the normal, sensible, centrist thing to do.

DeSantis used his power as governor to punish Disney for daring to dissent from his political views. He used migrants as political pawns and sent two planes full of them to Martha’s Vineyard. He pushed for an extreme gerrymander in Florida that marginalized minority voters. He’s a darling of the National Rifle Association.

And the signature line from his stump speech is that Florida is “where woke goes to die.” I’m with him on the destructiveness of peak wokeness, but base-camp wokeness has some lessons and virtues, which a sensible centrist might acknowledge and reflect on. Can’t Florida be where woke goes to decompress in the sun and surf and re-emerge in more relaxed form?

DeSantis himself might currently reject the labels that Musk gave him: It’s the right-wing-warrior side that promises to propel him most forcefully through the primaries, should he enter them. But he or any nominee not named Trump would likely segue to the general election by flashing shades of moderation.

In DeSantis’s case, there’d be chatter galore about his 19-point re-election victory as proof of his appeal’s breadth. But another Republican, Senator Marco Rubio, won re-election in Florida by sixteen points, suggesting that forces beyond DeSantis’s dubiously pan-partisan magnetism were in play. And Florida is redder than it used to be.

The extremists and conspiracists so prevalent in today’s Republican Party have distorted the frame for everyone else, permitting the peddling of DeSantis as some paragon of reason. Be savvier than Musk. Don’t buy it.

Who Me? Snarky? You Bet!

I’m in a very snarky mood today, so proceed with caution …

A simple formula …

If you live in Florida and you’re still torn about who should be your next governor, you need look no further than the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The incumbent governor, racist Ron DeSantis, has just received an A+ rating from the NRA while his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, earned a D.  Now, in high school, this would make DeSantis a glowing symbol and Crist a dumb jock, but this ain’t high school, although admittedly it is sometimes difficult to tell U.S. politics from high school hijinks.  And in the race for Senate, the incumbent Marco Rubio aka Little Marco, earns a B ranking from the NRA while his Democratic opponent, Val Demings, earned a whopping grade of F.  Thumbs up to Ms. Demings!

So, if you’re in doubt about who is the more worthy candidate in Florida or anywhere else in the nation, just ask the NRA … the person with the lowest grade should be the best choice on the ballot!  Sorry Ron & Marco, but you guys are the definition of what’s wrong in this nation.  Go home now … cry in your pudding for a while, then go get a real job!

A thousand steps backward

Yesterday Italy held national elections – unlike the U.S., most every other nation holds their elections on Saturday or Sunday so that people can more easily vote.  To cut to the chase, Italy has its first ever female Prime Minister.  Now, you might expect me to be doing a happy dance over the election of a woman, but in this case, there is no joy.  Giorgia Meloni, the next Prime Minister, is the closest thing to Benito Mussolini that the right-wing Italians could find.  She looks sweet and innocent but looks can be deceiving.

Ms. Meloni’s role model and inspiration is none other than Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s dictator disguised as a Prime Minister, and the two have met on numerous occasions.  Like Orbán, Meloni’s ideology is largely based on anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ rights, and anti-immigration.  She is a fan of Vladimir Putin, though she has spoken in support of Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

There is much I could say about Ms. Meloni, for many analysts consider her a threat to all of Europe.  But the source of my annoyance today is the response of some of our own politicos here in the U.S. to Ms. Meloni’s election.  While much of the world watched the election with concern, with alarm, here’s what the Republican politicians had to say …

  • “The entire world is beginning to understand that the Woke Left does nothing but destroy. Nov. 8 is coming soon and the USA will fix our House and Senate! Let freedom reign!” – U.S. Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado
  • “It’s interesting to see that Europe is leading the way by throwing out socialists with conservatives—and great bold conservative women like Meloni and Truss. We need to bring that kind of conservatism to the United States.” – U.S. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana
  • “God Speed to Italy’s incredible Prime Minister-elect @GiorgiaMeloni!” – Kari Lake, gubernatorial candidate from Arizona
  • “Congratulations to Giorgia Meloni and the winners of the Italian elections. We look forward to working with her and other Italian leaders to advance our shared interests. America is stronger when Italy is strong, sovereign, prosperous, and free.” – Senator Tom Cotton, of Arkansas

Others, such as Ted Cruz and Marge Greene also praised Ms. Meloni and her racist, extreme far-right ideology.  This, my friends, is what will be on our own ballot in just over a month.  Let’s not go the route of Italy.

And I end with just a few cartoons of the political variety …

A Few Thoughts From My Bouncing Mind

First, I start with a short, passionate and heartfelt clip from Jimmy Kimmel …

Next, a shout-out to singer/songwriter Don McLean of American Pie fame for having a conscience.  He has cancelled his appearance at the upcoming NRA annual meeting this weekend in, of all places, Houston, Texas.  McLean issued a statement saying …

“In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week. I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans.”

Of course, if he truly had a conscience, he would never have agreed to appear at their event in the first place, but … better late than never I suppose.  Others are also pulling out and I will have a good laugh if the venue is only about 2% full all weekend!

Daniel Defense, the company that manufactured the weapon used in Tuesday’s school massacre, has also pulled out of the NRA convention this weekend.  Their reason is not likely any sudden attack of conscience so much as fear of being assaulted by people who are angry and looking for a target for their anger.  And there should be fury toward this company who not so long ago posted this picture …

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. 🙏

I am sickened.

Some, such as the not-so-illustrious Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz, still plan to attend … surprised, aren’t you?  Every single person who attends that convention is a target for my anger, so they should probably be thankful that I won’t be there, eh?  Does anybody else see the irony in that this nation is banning books by the dozens … BOOKS 📕 📚 that open minds, educate, and help us make the world a better place … while at the same time refusing to ban assault weapons such as the one used on Tuesday, the ones that have been used so many times to kill thousands of innocent people?  There is something intrinsically wrong here …

The following chart lists the 50 senators who have taken the most money from the NRA.  Is one or more of your state’s senators on this list?  One of my own state’s senators, Rob Portman, has taken more than $3 million in donations from the NRA and I am more ashamed of him than ever before.  He is retiring this year, but I’m not doing any happy dances because he’s likely to be replaced by someone even worse, J.D. Vance … an unqualified bozo who loves guns, lies, and will do just about anything to get his name in print.  Read those senator’s names and look at the amounts … now do you understand why our lives mean less than nothing to these men and women who we have elected to act in our best interests?

Senator NRA Donations Gun Deaths in State per Year
Mitt Romney (UT) $13,647,676 365
Richard Burr (NC) $6,987,380 1,311
Roy Blunt (MO) $4,555,722 1,074
Thom Tillis (NC) $4,421,333 1,311
Cory Gardner (CO) $3,939,199 715
Marco Rubio (FL) $3,303,355 2,568
Joni Ernst (IA) $3,124,773 264
Rob Portman (OH) $3,063,327 1,402
Todd C. Young (IN) $2,897,582 907
Bill Cassidy (LA) $2,867,074 946
David Perdue (GA) $2,002,462 1,459
Tom Cotton (AR) $1,968,714 534
Pat Roberts (KS) $1,581,153 368
Pat Toomey (PA) $1,475,448 1,503
Josh Hawley (MO) $1,391,548 1,074
Marsha Blackburn (TN) $1,306,130 1,103
Ronald Harold “Ron” Johnson (WI) $1,269,486 592
Mitch McConnell (KY) $1,267,139 690
Mike Braun (IN) $1,249,967 907
John Thune (SD) $638,942 95
Shelley Moore Capito (WV) $341,738 305
Martha McSally (AZ) $303,853 1,013
Richard Shelby (AL) $258,514 961
Chuck Grassley (IA) $226,007 264
John Neely Kennedy (LA) $215,788 946
Ted Cruz (TX) $176,274 3,139
Lisa Murkowski (AK) $146,262 165
Johnny Isakson (GA) $131,571 1,459
Steve Daines (MT) $123,711 197
Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS) $109,547 576
Roger Wicker (MS) $106,680 576
Rand Paul (KY) $104,456 690
Mike Rounds (SD) $95,049 95
John Boozman (AR) $82,352 534
John Cornyn (TX) $78,945 3,139
Ben Sasse (NE) $68,623 169
Jim Inhofe (OK) $66,758 679
Lindsey Graham (SC) $55,961 829
Mike Crapo (ID) $55,039 242
Jerry Moran (KS) $34,718 368
John Barrasso (WY) $26,989 104
Lamar Alexander (TN) $25,293 1,103
Mike Enzi (WY) $24,722 104
John Hoeven (ND) $22,050 93
Susan Collins (ME) $19,800 146
Deb Fischer (NE) $19,638 169
James Lankford (OK) $18,955 679
Jim Risch (ID) $18,850 242
Tim Scott (SC) $18,513 829
Kevin Cramer (ND) $13,255 93

I am writing to a number of members of Congress this week with a simple, single question:  89% of people in this nation support stricter gun regulations, and some 67% support a ban on assault weapons – so why don’t you?  How can you claim to represent the people of this nation when you are voting against their will, against their best interests?

Fellow countrymen … now is the time for us to stop the madness, to stop electing and re-electing men and women who have no conscience, whose own lust for power and wealth are their only priority.  Research the candidates in your district and state, make sure the candidate you support does NOT support the NRA, does not support wealthy corporations over the interests of the people.  Look at that list above … if any of them are from your state and are up for re-election this year, vote them out!!!

Bang!!! Bang!!!

A few of yesterday’s headlines …

  • At least 150 people fatally shot in more than 400 shootings over the Fourth of July weekendCNN
  • More than 90 shot in Chicago on Fourth of July weekendChicago Tribune
  • Shootings at two Indianapolis shopping malls over July 4 weekendWTHR News
  • Chicago weekend shootings: 92 shot, 16 fatally in Chicago since Friday nightChicago Sun-Times
  • At least 140 people died in shootings across the US over Fourth of July weekendBusiness Insider
  • At least 150 killed in nationwide shootings this July 4th weekend: dataNew York Post

There are more, but … you get the picture, right?  In case you don’t quite get it, let me paint it for you.  In the

Most of the

Think their right to own a

is greater than our right to

I’M SICK AND DAMN TIRED OF THIS, FOLKS!!!  Give the fucking guns up … throw them in the ocean for all I care but get them out of the hands of ordinary people who tend to be fools and idiots from time to time, and as my mother-in-law used to say, “Ain’t got no sense.”

Take your 2nd Amendment and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine!  For that matter, you can put your guns there too!

{Filosofa takes 10 deep breaths}

Okay, let’s talk about this calmly now that I’ve gotten my fury out of my system.

Fact:  guns outnumber people in the United States

Fact:  humans sometimes get angry and act out of emotion rather than coherent thought

Fact:  guns kill people … or rather, people kill people WITH GUNS

Fact:  the 2nd Amendment does NOT guarantee that every person has the right to own a gun and carry it in public, nor does it address such things as automatic weapons that have the capacity to kill hundreds within minutes

Fact:  gun violence in the United States surpasses that of any other nation on earth

We can no longer feel safe going to the grocery store, much less a shopping mall on a holiday weekend.  We cannot feel safe in a movie theater, restaurant or bar.  We are not safe walking down the street, even in broad daylight.  We are not even safe in our own homes.  Something needs to change and it needs to change NOW!

Republican members of Congress, who are largely owned by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have long resisted even the most moderate legislation that would affect gun ownership, such as expanded background checks.  They have absolutely refused to even discuss a ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15 and AK-47.  I think the family of every single victim of gun violence from this point forward should file a federal suit against every Republican legislator who has naysaid gun legislation.

A favoured talking point of the NRA is that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  Yes, but to the stupid who buy into that phrase, might I remind you that people kill people WITH GUNS!  Rare in the U.S. is the killing with fisticuffs or Swiss army knives.  Almost every damn murder is committed with … a gun!  Just how damn hard is it to understand that people who don’t have guns generally don’t kill?

Yes, I know I’m spitting in the wind, preaching to the choir, and the gun nuts will go on being just that … NUTS.  But I cannot be silent on this issue!  This is one of the three biggest issues that is threatening to destroy this nation from within, the other two being racism and money in politics.  And yes, I know that I’ve already said all of this before, more than a few times.  But PEOPLE!!!  WAKE UP AND SMELL THE GUNPOWDER!!!  It’s right outside your door!  Two of the fatalities this past weekend happened within a few miles of my home, likely a couple happened near you, too.  Our children are not safe in their classrooms, and we are not safe even in our workplaces.  How can the gun nuts even begin to justify this?  More to the point, how can our elected officials, men and women who are supposed to have our best interests at heart, justify taking bribes from the NRA and refusing to even discuss laws that might save lives?  Does anybody have an answer?  Hell no, for there is no logical answer.  It’s all about profit … profit for the gun industry, corporations such as Smith & Wesson, Glock, Beretta, Remington et al, and profit (money + power) for our not-so-illustrious elected officials whose salaries, I might remind you once again, WE PAY!

The right of a person to own a gun is about as far down on the priority list in my mind as anything could ever be.  And yet, it is the defining ‘right’ of far too many fools in this country.  The next holiday weekend will be the three-day Labour Day weekend, September 4th thru 6th.  Anybody want to make any bets how many of us will end up dead by guns at the end of that one?

Caution: VERY Disturbing Video

I hadn’t planned a fourth post today … I generally try to stick to two posts plus a music post, but then I read Nan’s post and … I was so sickened that I couldn’t let this one pass. The head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, is in my book, the lowest scum of the earth … and now this proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Thanks, Nan! The world needs to see this jackass for what he is!

Nan's Notebook

I subscribe to an email newsletter from NPR. In today’s issue was the following blurb:

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre’s carefully cultivated image as a hunter and outdoorsman is taking a hit this week after a leaked video showed his clumsy marksmanship.

Since I have fairly strong negative feelings about LaPierre, I was interested to see what the video showed so I clicked on the link.


The headline on the linked page was: “Video Leaks of NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Missing His Mark on Elephant Hunt.” Sadly … disgustingly …  the headline was correct. He definitely missed the mark. The video shows him taking FOUR shots at the elephant … and it still wasn’t dead. The final –and deadly– shot was made by another member of the hunting party. NOT LaPierre.

What was even more sickening was the “praise” by the individuals accompanying LaPierre on the hunt –

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KILL The 2nd Amendment!

Think about this one for a minute:

More than 2 million guns were sold in January, an 80% jump and the second-highest monthly total on record.

According to The Washington Post, the surge is in line with the record pace set in 2020: Nearly 23 million firearms were bought, representing a 64 percent jump from the previous year.


Said one Florida resident who tried to buy ammunition for his semi-automatic but found the gun stores had sold out …

“With the lockdown and a president who is saying things like ‘gun reform,’ there’s a fear within the gun community and people that are responsible gun owners that they’re going to be made into felons just by nature of law.”


According to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) …

It’s common for gun sales to jump when a Democrat takes over the White House. In January 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated for his first term, the total number of firearm background checks registered through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reached 1.2 million. That was a record at the time and a nearly 29 percent jump from January 2008.

In January 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, more than 2 million background checks were recorded, a 20 percent drop from 2016.

Biden pledged during his campaign to reinstate a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He also proposed a buyback program for assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that would require owners to sell them to the federal government or register them under the National Firearms Act.

In three individual weeks in January, there was a record number of background checks, climbing into the top five spots since the FBI began tracking in 1998.

Why … just WHY does the average Joe need an assault weapon that can kill or maim dozens of people within a minute?  Would somebody please explain this to me, for I frankly think it is utterly stupid, and I know for a fact that more innocent people have been killed by lunatics with assault rifles than have been saved by a non-law enforcement individual with an assault rifle.  NOBODY outside of law enforcement or the military needs one.  In 1994, a ten-year ban on assault weapons was judiciously passed by Congress, but at the end of ten years, the damn fools said it ‘violated people’s constitutional rights’, and it has, despite multiple efforts, never been re-implemented.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, firearm stocks spiked in the days leading up to the January 6th domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol and on Congress, inspired by Donald Trump and his witless minions.   I have seen enough pictures of those bozos with their assault weapons storming the Capitol to literally make me ill.

Today is February 4th, and already just this year there have already been 24 mass shootings in the U.S.  But that’s only mass shootings, involving multiple victims.  In total, there have been 3,976 deaths due to guns, and 3,026 injuries.  Take a look at this chart by the Gun Violence Archive


I have a few thoughts on all of this …

  • Personally, I hate guns and would very much like to see a total repeal of the 2nd Amendment.  The Founding Fathers never … NEVER intended every person in the nation to own multiple assault weapons that could shred numerous people within a minute.  No, the intent was to form local militias that would have the right to own guns in case of something akin to a coup or hostile takeover.  The 2nd Amendment, like the 1st Amendment, has been so abused that if any one of the framers of the Constitution were to return to earth and see what is happening, he would be horrified.

  • I think that for the most part, those who feel a need to own a gun and carry it with them to the grocery store, restaurant, bookstore, etc., are cowards. If they think it makes them appear strong or macho, they are very much mistaken. I chuckle and roll my eyes when I see a man with a gun stuck in his belt, and then I leave the store, but not before informing a staff member that there is a man with a gun, that I am leaving because of this, and that I am not purchasing anything at this time.

  • Guns and gun owners are in the top five biggest problems with the United States today. How many parents will go to sleep tonight with a loaded gun somewhere that their child can access? How many school shootings will this year bring?  How many women will be killed by their significant other or husband because dinner was late and he was in a foul temper?  How many crazed people will go into a mall or other public venue with a chip on their shoulder and just start shooting for any or no reason?

  • Anybody who is an advocate of the 2nd Amendment and who is against any reasonable gun legislation is the problem … the biggest problem … in this nation.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy into that old NRA slogan about a ‘good guy with a gun’, for in my mind, if that ‘guy’ is toting a gun, he is NOT a ‘good’ guy.  I have zero tolerance for guns, they are not allowed in my home, and I refuse to occupy the same building as a person who is ‘packing heat’.  The good people of this nation, those who value their children’s and grandchildren’s lives over their ‘right’ to own a weapon, need to make it clear to all — Congress, state legislatures, gun owners, and anyone who has the power to make changes — that we will not continue to live in a nation populated by gun nuts.  Period.

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.

Police in Schools: More Harm Than Good? Part II – Final

In Part I of my post about police in schools, I focused on some of the problems and worst offenses related to having a police presence in schools.  Now I will step back and look at whether the programs are viable and whether the value of such programs outweighs the cost.  Do we need police in our schools?  How much do such programs cost, and who bears the cost?  Does having an ever-present law enforcement help children develop a respect for police, or is it having the opposite effect?  In sum, has  such a program actually made, or can it make schools a safer place for children to learn?

My earlier examples of children being abused by the very people whose job it is to protect them are, I think, the exception to the rule.  Just as police officers who shoot unarmed black males has made headlines far too many times of late, those are the exceptions to the rule, although glaring and unacceptable exceptions.  However, police officers are humans and it is inevitable that there will be some who overstep their bounds, who have personal prejudices and use their positions of power to act on those prejudices.  So, too, is the case with police in schools.

Why do we need, or at least believe we need police in schools today, when we did not need them 50 years ago?  More incidents of children bringing weapons to school, drugs, bullying, and school shootings, are but a few of the justifications.  “The SRO shall develop crime prevention programs and conduct security inspections to deter criminal or delinquent activities,” according to a guideline set for the Johns Hopkins University.  However, it has also been found that in schools where an SRO is present, teachers and administrators may tend to turn disciplinary issues over to the SRO rather than deal with them directly.  It should be noted that there is a difference between criminal activity and disciplinary issues, and teachers are trained specifically to deal with children, whereas police may be less so.  It would seem more prudent for trained educators to deal with issues of discipline, just as they always have.

An article by the Justice Policy Institute notes that a decrease in SROs during the period 2003-2007 did not result in an increase in crime within the affected districts, which begs the question whether a police presence is necessary for crime prevention in the schools.  This leads us to another consideration, which is the increasing number of students who are arrested for small crimes, or even disciplinary infractions that might have otherwise been handled by school administrators.  What is the effect of young people being incarcerated, even if only for a few hours?  The term school-to-prison pipeline is a metaphor used to describe the increasing patterns of contact students have with the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.  We teach our children to respect the police, that the police are their friends, and that they should feel free to go to them if they are ever afraid or in trouble.  Yet, what message does it send when a police officer comes to the school and arrests a child, takes him/her to jail, for something as simple as throwing paper airplanes during class?  I tend to think it is more likely to make the child afraid of police, rather than to reinforce the idea that the police are his friend.

Then there is the cost factor.  The scope of this post does not allow for an in-depth cost-benefit analysis, but let us look at the overall cost. Cost estimates vary widely, based on a number of variables, but most seem to agree that the cost of placing a single SRO in every school in the nation would range between $10 billion and $13 billion annually.  The cost generally falls on the school district, but in some cases may be the responsibility of local law enforcement.  Either way, at the end of the day, the taxpayer bears the cost.  Some would argue that school districts could hire an additional teacher or fund sports programs, buy books, or any number of other academic pursuits and still have money left over.  It comes down, once again, to priorities.  Enter … the NRA!  You knew they had to be behind this somewhere, didn’t you?

The National Rifle Association (NRA), the ongoing lobbying interests of which primarily exist for the promotion of buying more guns under the auspices of “safety,” has apparently concluded once and for all that the way to keep schools safe is to bring more guns on campus.  Enough said about the NRA.

Lest we lose sight of the dilemma in the political argument, the only real question, as I see it, is whether police on campus make schools safer and justify the monetary outlay of cash to the taxpayers .  Are our children safer because of armed police in their schools, or are they subjected to threats and violence from the police themselves?

I suspect there are, as with most serious issues, no easy answers.  My concerns are that: a) police officers are not being properly trained in dealing with young, immature minds that are still in the formative stages; and b) police officers bring their own prejudices into the schools, targeting minority and disabled children more than any others.  I think that, as we have seen in the overall view of police communities around the nation recently, officer training and assessment is crucial to fair police work, as well as community relations. It is even more imperative when dealing with the nation’s youth.  Not ever one to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”, I think the program has merit if and only if we can ensure that training and oversight prevent such tragedies as those which I addressed in Part I of this post.

I realize that I have asked more questions than I have answered.  I have no answers for the rest.  I think the abuses are abominable, however if policing in schools can curb bullying, drugs, and perhaps prevent another Columbine or Sandy Hook, I cannot argue against it.  What do you think?