NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT GUN CONTROL … REALLY!? – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m writing this as I watch the news coverage of the most recent mass shooting  in Nevada. 

Mass shootings are almost a daily event in the USA. Think about that. I just read an article from Newsweek that states there is a mass shooting in America almost every day.

This one was the largest and worst mass shooting in American history. And you have to work hard to get that kind of award in this country. The guy had more than 10 guns. At least one or more was an automatic rifle.

Another more accurate word for automatic rifle is A MACHINE GUN!! A machine gun has one purpose.  Kill large numbers of people quickly. It came into use on a large-scale in World War One.

It’s job was to mow down and slaughter hundreds of soldiers in a very short period of time. It worked really well. 50 to 70 THOUSAND soldiers would be killed in one single battle.

It worked really well in Las Vegas too. Over 58 people dead and over 500 wounded.

And of course, the first thing you hear from Republicans and NRA gun nuts is “Now is not the time to talk about gun control! We have to concentrate on the victims!” They said it when dozens of elementary school children were slaughtered in Newtown, CT.

They said it when a crazed right-wing nut job slaughtered nine black people worshiping at their church.

They said it when a nut job shot up a movie audience in Aurora.

And it goes on and on. And they’re doing it again. I have noticed that the NRA nut jobs haven’t trotted out their favorite piece of utter bullshit. “The only thing that can defeat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

That one drives me  bat shit crazy. Maybe they aren’t dragging this one out this time because even if every person at that concert had a gun (and it was a country-music festival so you have to figure more than a few might have been packing) it wouldn’t have been much good against a guy on the 32nd floor in a hotel across the street.

Both Ellin and I took a gun safety course a few years back. It allowed us to buy a gun legally and register it in the state of CT where we live. It also allowed us to go to a target range and shoot our guns legally. Ultimately we decided not to get registered and get a gun. Why? Well, first, we realized we just don’t need a gun. Second, we learned from taking the safety course that guns are REALLY DANGEROUS. People shoot themselves accidentally all the time. The statistics would amaze you.

And third, Ellin was way too good at it. (Do not piss her off).

So, I am going to say it. I am going to commit heresy. THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS FUCKING STUPID. This almost religious obsession with fire arms is FUCKING STUPID.

The second amendment was a concession to the southern states because they were afraid that the federal government wouldn’t come to their aid when they had slave revolts.  It’s not that commonly-known, but one of  the slave states’ biggest problems was slave revolts.

They happened all the time. I can’t imagine why. So, these states wanted to be sure they’d have their own “Well-regulated state militias” to keep their “property” in line.

But here’s the thing. We don’t have slave states anymore, even though a few states still seem to think it would be a good idea. Why, then, do we still have this stupid amendment?

Did you know that it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the idea of the second amendment stopped meaning “A well-regulated state militia” and began to mean that you could buy all the guns you wanted — like hunting rifles, military assault rifles, silencers. Anything, with no regulation whatsoever.

Why? By the 1970’s the gun industry had sold all the handguns and hunting rifles they believed they could possibly sell. The market had been saturated. Sales were starting to drop. What did they do?  They started marketing assault rifles to the public.

After all, nothing takes a deer down better that an AK47 opening up on full automatic. You can pump forty rounds into that big bad buck in about 10 seconds.

That’s American!

The comedian Jim Jefferies does an iconic routine about gun control. He makes a lot of good points.

He mentions how about 10 percent of his audience is furious when he does the routine. One guy screamed at him after one show “You can’t change the second amendment!!”

To which he responds “Yes you can. It’s an amendment!”

He’s right. We had an amendment that made drinking alcohol illegal. Sixteen-years later, we added a new amendment to amend the amendment.

Now, the endless cycle will continue. Again and again. I feel sorry for the next mass murderer. He’s going to have to really step up his game to top this one. But this is America! I know we’re up to it.

Maybe gun control isn’t the solution. Maybe bullet control is. (Technically they are called cartridges. See? I told you I took the course.) Put a 5000% tax on every box of cartridges. If each cartridge cost about $100 dollars or more, it might help. A little.


After all guns, don’t kill people. The bullets coming out of the guns at 3,900 feet per second kill people.

Now is not the time to talk about gun control? Really? Bullshit. Now is exactly the time. And the next time it happens. And the next time after that.

Oh, and if anything I’ve said here has offended any NRA gun-toting “Merican”, or for that matter, anybody else? Fuck you. I don’t care. The first amendment gives me the right to say the second one sucks.

RETHINKING GUNS

So, I finally have to ask this question. If your own or a loved ones life is the price you pay for supporting “everyone’s” right to have and use a gun … is it worth it? Really worth it? Is your career, supported by money from the National Rifle Association really and truly worth your own life? The life of a friend? Of a colleague?

I am sorry when anyone gets shot. Anyone, anywhere, at any time. This was yet one more meaningless shooting which could easily have been prevented. I’m sorry Steve Scalise is back in intensive care. Horrified that this crime apparently has not even given gun advocates some pause to consider that maybe there is a way to control guns without eliminating them. To at least keep them out of the hands of those patently unable to control their use … including children, toddlers, and mental patients who’ve slipped off medications and are wandering the streets, looking for targets.

Guys, maybe you could consider rethinking your position? Even a small movement in the direction of simple commonsense might stop at least some of the killing.


A little more from Garry Armstrong:


There’s always been a nonsensical reaction to the issue of gun regulation in the United States. I did myriad stories during my career about illegal weapons used in gang wars, drive by shootings and mentally deranged people killing and or seriously injuring innocent bystanders. Gun lobbyists always said “It’s unfortunate but you can’t legislate because of isolated incidents”. Isolated, my rear end!! If you tally the number of “collateral damage” victims — just in the past 50 years — the numbers are staggering. It was popular to say the gun violence occurred mostly in the inner cities and “Those people were just killing each other off”.

Check again and note the shootings in upscale, predominantly white communities — just in the last calendar year. Few of “those people” were involved.

It’s a national nightmare that behooves people of all political persuasion to realize that “ALL lives matter!”.

NO FLY? NO BUY!

Vis-a-vis the horror in Orlando, I’ve listened to all the explanations by the FBI. How it isn’t their fault, there was nothing they could do. It was too difficult to keep track of this guy.

orlando-flag

I don’t believe it. Sorry, just don’t. Between the FBI, Homeland, and ATF … and I’m sure there are more agencies I’m forgetting … there should be more than sufficient resources to keep track of obviously suspicious and potentially dangerous people. They seem eager to harass completely harmless citizens, so maybe they need to redirect their attention to actual threats. Just saying.

Moving to the endlessly debated yet never implemented subject of gun control: I understand making sensible gun laws is far too complex for our elected representatives (that is to say, politicians), to address. All the money they get from gun lobbies is muddling their brains.

So … how about this?

no fly no buy shooting


No fly? No buy.

Every registered gun dealer, and any other place licensed to sell guns in this country, gets the list and timely updates. Just like the airlines.

If your name is on the list, you cannot legally buy a gun. Period.


If you are too dangerous to be a passenger on an airplane, you are too dangerous to buy guns.

Surely we have sufficient technology to make this work? All you need is the mailing list and some kind of computer. A printer would help, too.

It won’t solve every gun-related problem, but it could prevent a few tragedies here and there. That’s better than the nothing we seem intent on doing.

DEAR LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD

A Citizen’s Open Letter, Richard Paschall

Dear Leader,

There are a number of problems in the world I would like to call to your attention in case you have not yet had time to notice them.  First, there is this whole thing about poverty.  The world is full of wealth and wealthy people and yet there are those without food, shelter and medicine.  Worse yet, successful corporations and wealthy businessmen get additional tax breaks that in no way benefit the poor.  Isn’t the government for all the people?  How about a little protection for the “little people?”  There seems to be no reason for people to starve.  Wouldn’t a “more perfect union” seek to help more than the top one percent?

Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

Photo Credit: CC0 Public Domain from pixabay

We seem to struggle with the issue of providing health care to the populace.  I know you have tried to get medical insurance to everyone, but the costs are still rather high.  Other top-tier countries do not force their citizens to choose between food and health care.  Costs are controlled to a greater extent.  Also, prescription drug costs at the retail level are affordable elsewhere.  Here many people must choose if they can afford life saving medicine or pay other bills.  Does that seem right? The same prescriptions that are reasonably priced in other countries are sometimes astronomical in price here.  Can you even this out?  That would seem to “promote the general welfare.”

In a nation built on immigration, as most countries were actually, we seem to have a total lack of understanding of immigration issues.  Some politicians, barely removed from their immigrant roots, block meaningful immigration reform.  Can you speak to them about that?  Maybe they do not realize that their roots are actually somewhere else, not  here.  In fact, it seems that the native population is really rather small.  We need to “establish justice.”

If children are our future and education is the most valuable component of that, can we do something to promote higher education?  Many countries provide free education as they realize the value of it.  Surely we will fall behind in the world if we do not have an educated population.  At present, the cost discourages participation or throws many students into debt for decades after graduation.  Would this not be one of the best ways to “secure the Blessings of our Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  If our posterity is to be driven into ignorance and/or severe debt, then they are not blessed at all.

There seems to be a lot of mistrust of government, police departments and authority in general.  Can you speak to various leaders about justice and equality?  I fear we have taken steps backwards in the relationships between men and women, people of color, people of various religious backgrounds and people of different sexual orientations.  Worse yet is the use of so-called religious freedoms to justify hate.  Surely you can do something to get the dialogue back on track.  People are people.  There must be a better way to “insure domestic tranquility.”

I know you must “provide for the common defence,” but we seem to be going about it the wrong way.  Can you explain to the citizens that the second amendment was not actually handed down by god?  Since we are not living in the 1780’s and there really is no reason for all citizens to bear arms in case the states need to raise a well-regulated militia to defend themselves, we should be able to add in some sort of control.  After all, the Red Coats are not coming.  Background checks will not infringe upon my rights, I promise you.

Finally, I think programs and policies need better explanations.  Can you do a better job of that?  President Theodore Roosevelt believed that he had a “bully pulpit” and that he should use it, and use it he did.  He was not shy about going out to the people to explain himself and his policies.  Why not try to do more of that?  On the other hand, that will only mean opponents will spin the truth out of control and get more air time.  Maybe you should forget this last part.

Sincerely,
Public Citizen Richard

REGULATE GUNS — LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE

I’ve been listening to arguments against gun control since I was a kid. As a child, I didn’t understand why anyone would object to sensible gun regulations.

I mean, Wyatt Earp did it in Tombstone. Should we be doing less in Boston or Austin?

ColtSAA04

YOU NEED A LICENSE FOR THAT

Virtually every aspect of our lives are regulated.

Without a license, you can’t cut hair or sell insurance. Drive a car. Most places, you need a license to build an extension on your house, change the wiring, remodel your kitchen, or replace your roof. You need a license for your dog. A permit to hold a parade. Or sell booze.

So what’s the big deal? Why are guns different? We control and limit more or less everything, so why are guns off-limit? The answer is obvious. They aren’t, not really. What makes guns off limit isn’t the Constitution. It’s a powerful lobby group that has caused generations of politicians to fear for their congressional seats.

To me, it’s simple obvious. If you can’t hold a scissors in a barber shop without a license, you should not be allowed to carry a loaded rifle in Walmart without requiring at least as much accountability.

The arguments against sensible gun control are specious. Stupid. If can’t drive drunk, how come you can walk around drunk — with a gun? I would never limit anyone’s right to own a car without good reason. Like bad eyesight. Driving under the influence. Lack of insurance. A flunked driving test. Surely we should require at least this much oversight for guns.

A COMMONSENSE GUN CONTROL PLAN

If you want to own guns, you have to pass a licensing test which makes sure you know how to shoot and care for weapons. You are obligated to keep it out of the wrong hands. Your eyesight should be good enough to hit a target. You need to pass a background check to show you aren’t a felon. Or nuts.

You have to register your guns. All of them. You are obligated to keep track of your guns, to know where each of them is. You may not lend them to anyone who is unlicensed any more than you can loan your car to an unlicensed and/or uninsured driver.

If your gun is lost or stolen, you absolutely must report it to the cops. None of that “Gee, I guess it must have been stolen” crap. You will carry liability insurance on every weapon. Should a weapon registered to you be used in an illegal act — with or without your consent — you are responsible for damages. If you don’t go to jail, you will still pay. As you should.

The nation, as well as individual states and counties can tax your weapons and refuse to license weapons deemed inappropriate for private owners. If you want a weapon deemed unsuitable, you will have to get a different license, not to mention explain why you need it.

Simple, isn’t it?

auto inspection sticker texas

LICENSE AND REGISTRATION, PLEASE

We license cars because cars are potentially dangerous. Which doesn’t mean we don’t own cars. Obviously we own millions of them. We try to control who drives while maintaining reasonably accurate records of who owns what. We can’t keep every drunk off the road, stop cars from being stolen, or prevent accidents.

We do the best we can. For the most part, the system works. It would work for guns, too. Equally well, equally badly. Imperfect, but a lot better than the nothing we have in place now.

I have yet to hear a coherent argument against such a plan — probably because there isn’t any. Any reasonable person can understand we need to regulate guns. Like everything else.

GUNS PROTECTING GUNS

Red Ryder BB gun

Our family weapon. It’s a classic.

When I see a story about folks who’ve gotten busted for having an arsenal and because, as my husband puts it, “they have toys in the attic,” I notice most of them are poor. Living in squalor.

They live in trailer parts, rural shacks or crumbling buildings in cities. Or in a perfectly regular house in some suburb, maybe right next door. They don’t have much, but by golly they have guns. Lots of guns. Maybe if they didn’t spend all their money on guns, they might be able afford furniture and some food in the fridge.

There was a time when Garry and I talked (briefly) about acquiring hand guns. He was working all kinds of hours in dangerous places. I was coming home from work alone, in the dark. So we checked out what a decent handgun — one that won’t blow up in your hand and will hit a target when aimed — costs.

More than 20 years ago, a reasonably good handgun from a legitimate manufacturer cost a thousand dollars or more. Maybe you could do better at a gun show or pawn shop, but we don’t know enough about guns to buy that way. How do the gun hoarders accumulate all those weapons? We couldn’t afford them even when both of us were working and earning good money.

I suppose it’s a matter of priorities and what’s important to you.

 

It seems to me — correct me if I’m wrong — these people are passionate about their right to protect their stuff and feel they need an arsenal with which to do it. But the only thing they have that’s worth protecting are guns. So they need guns to protect themselves from people might steal their guns. Have I gotten that right?

Guns to protect guns.

These whack jobs abound in every area of the country. You can find them in mountain hideaways, rural villages, big cities, and suburbs. They are hoarders, obsessed with owning more and more weapons, the bigger and more lethal, the better.

Too much fire power for my comfort and too many weirdos owning them. Their presence in my neighborhood does not make me feel safer. They are not protecting me or mine.

I want them to go far away and take their guns with them.

THE WHOLE GUN THING – I DON’T GET IT

I don’t get it. I’ve been listening to arguments against gun control since I was a child. When I was six, I didn’t understand why anyone would not want guns regulated. I do not understand it today when I am 66.

Our family has a Red Ryder Daisy BB rifle with which we shoot paper targets. My son inherited his father’s target 22. It’s a pretty thing. Holds a single shell and is intended for competition target shooting. My son keeps it clean, oiled, and unloaded. I assume it works, though no one has used it in a long time.

Red Ryder BB gun

I like target shooting and I’m a good shot. I’ve never killed anything, not counting bugs … and you won’t get any apologies from me on that score. If insects stay outside, that’s okay with me. In my domain? Bugs get as dead as I can squash them.

But the whole gun thing. The fascination with guns, the passion for them. The belief that we need to have them because if not, “they” will take away our freedom? Who are “they” and what exactly do they want? I don’t know about you, but I don’t have anything much that anyone would want. Frankly, if you want it that badly, geez, just take it. I’m not going to die for anything I own. They’re just things.

WHAT FREEDOMS DO YOU WANT?

At the risk of asking a stupid question, what freedom are “they” coming to take away? My right to have a blog? Is this blog so important that someone is going to bring the swat-mobile to stop me from posting? How about my right to take photographs? Does anyone care that much? The right to pay my bills? You can have that freedom. Please, take it. No guns required. My right to own a car? That’s pretty well-regulated already. Watch TV? Charter Communications owns me. Feel free to take Charter Communications, however. Just leave me WiFi.

How about phone calls? I’m in thrall to the cable company and AT&T already. Could the government be worse? I tend to doubt it. My calls — and yours — are already monitored by the NSA. Seriously, exactly what freedoms are “they” going to take and why would “they” bother?

Virtually every aspect of life is regulated. You can’t cut hair or sell insurance without a license. You can’t own or drive a car without a license, registration and insurance. Most places, you need to get a license to build an extension on your house, change the wiring, remodel your kitchen or put up a new roof. You need a license for your dogs and cats.

We aren’t connected to town water or sewage, so we pay whatever it costs to keep our well healthy and our septic functional. If they ever put in city water and sewer, I’m sure we’ll be required to hook up and pay some ridiculous amount of money to do it.  With all the perils, I prefer my own water. As of this writing, the air is free. If someone figures out how to regulate it, I’m sure they will. And sin. That’s free, but there’s always (heh) syntax.

traffic-jam

So what is such a big deal about requiring gun licensing and registration? We control and limit citizens’ access to pretty much everything. Why are guns sacred? Don’t talk to me about the Constitution. We have reinterpreted the constitution to align with the realities of modern life over and over again. There is no reason guns can’t be treated the same way as anything else.

The arguments against sensible gun control are stupid. If we control who can drive a car and how that car can be driven and there are a staggering number of traffic regulations enforced with considerable vigor, why can’t we exert at least as much control over weapons? You can’t drive drunk, how come you can walk around drunk with a gun? To whom does this make sense? Not me. I’m flummoxed by the illogic.

I would never want to limit my right — or yours —  to own a car, unless there’s good reason. Such as eyesight so poor you are not able to safely operate a vehicle. Or your having been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or being unable to pay for at least minimal insurance and registration. Or you can’t pass the driver’s test. It would be irresponsible to give licenses to blind, drunk, or incapable drivers, wouldn’t it? How could equivalent oversight not be appropriate for guns? Seriously?

Butch Cassidy’s gun sold for $175,000.

MY “SO SIMPLE IT’S ALMOST STUPID” GUN CONTROL PLAN

To own a gun, you have to pass a test to make sure you know how to shoot and care for a weapon. You become obligated to keep it out of the wrong hands. You need to be able to see well enough to properly aim a gun and be able to hit a target. You need pass a background check so we know you aren’t a felon or a dangerous wacko.

You have to register your guns. All of them. You must know where they are and you may not lend them to anyone. If a gun is lost or stolen, you must report it. You need gun liability insurance on every weapon you own that contains a firing pin. If a weapon registered to you gets used in an illegal act, causes harm to others — with or without your consent — you are responsible for damages. If you don’t go to jail, you can still wind up in court.

OldJail-300-72

The nation, as well as individual states and counties can tax your weapons and refuse to license weapons deemed inappropriate for private owners. If you want a weapon that is considered unsuitable, you will have to get a different license, not to mention provide an explanation.

Simple, isn’t it? We license cars because cars are potentially dangerous; you can kill someone with a car. All this regulation doesn’t mean we don’t own cars. Obviously we own a lot of cars. We simply try to control who is allowed to drive and keep track of who owns what. It doesn’t mean we can keep every drunk off the road, prevent all accidents or stop joy-riding kids, but we do the best we can.

I have yet to hear a coherent argument against this plan — probably because there isn’t any. Guns should be regulated like every other dangerous thing.