Note to Senators and Congressman – please act on our gun death problem

After watching the President Biden’s very good speech last night asking for our support in addressing our gun death problem, I posted the following short statement on the websites for my two Republican Senators (Burr and Tillis) and Senate Minority leader McConnell. I also posted it on my Republican Congressman’s website.

I watched the President’s impassioned speech on doing something at long last to deal with our gun death problem in the US. We have more gun deaths than the next twenty-two wealthiest nations COMBINED. That is not an enviable standing. I am pleading with you to think like a parent and grandparent and do something. There are measures which are supported by the majority of gun owners that we can build from. If you and Congress fail to finally do something, it will be a disservice to Americans. Please act.

I have posted similar messages over the years, but to no avail. Maybe, just maybe, Americans have had enough with their elected officials, and can squeeze out some leadership from these folks beholden to the NRA. Sadly, these folks have not seemed to care that the majority of gun owners are OK with several changes. We need to make them care.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister is a leader on gun control

In a PBS Newshour story produced by Aamer Madhani called “Biden discusses gun control with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern,” it was good to see the success of the New Zealand leader on gun control get more press. Here are a few of the initial paragraphs which give you the gist of the discussion:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden praised New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday for her success in curbing domestic extremism and guns as he tries to persuade a reluctant Congress to tighten gun laws in the aftermath of horrific mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York.

The long-planned talks between Biden and Ardern were to center on trade, climate and security in the Indo-Pacific, but the two leaders’ starkly different experiences in pushing for gun control loomed large in the conversation.

Ardern successfully won passage of gun control measures in her country after a white supremacist gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in 2019. Less than a month later all but one of the country’s 120 lawmakers voted in favor of banning military-style semiautomatic weapons.

Biden told reporters at the start of his meeting with Ardern that he ‘will meet with the Congress on guns, I promise you,’ but the White House has acknowledged that winning new gun legislation will be uphill climb in an evenly divided Congress.

The U.S. president praised Ardern for her ‘galvanizing leadership’ on New Zealand’s efforts to curb the spread of extremism online, and said he wanted to hear more about the conversations in her country about the issue.”

Quite simply, leaders need to lead. Ardern took the bull by the horns and said enough is enough and introduced measures to add gun governance. Her courage should be commended as it is so unusual with our politicians to see such as they are too beholden to their funders and some staked out position which is counter to positive actions.

On gun governance, climate change, civil rights abuses, debt, etc. we need our leaders to act like parents and grandparents. Or, they could do their best to emulate folks like Ardern or Zelenskyy and ignore spineless politicians here in the US who are scared of their own shadow.

The deer must lead the way

I was watching one of those animal documentaries and it set a common belief on its head. Like me, many may have the belief the deer will follow where the stag leads. But, through observations, scientists have noted that is not always the case. The deer will feel threatened and move before the stag knows what happened. The stag will, in essence, follow the does and younger deer out of harm’s way.

That is the way it has to be now that elected officials are too scared to do anything. Of course, a change here and there occurs, but for the most part legislators are less inclined to make substantive changes that go against their funders’ wishes. As a result, collaboration is harder and even positive changes do not get passed, as one tribe cannot let the other take credit for political gain. Helping people is secondary to winning elections. It is that simple.

In the 2018 midterm US elections, the does rallied together in the Women’s March and ousted many stags from politics. It was an election that saw a large number of women get elected. Last week, in Australia, a change averse and industry helping government was swept out of office after nine years and three prime ministers. The does said we need to deal with climate change, child care and Medicare issues. And, by the way, integrity matters they said. It should be noted, not all the folks who got booted out were stags, as even does can be less than helpful as an elected official as we have seen here in the US.

It should be noted in 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, helped push through more restrictive gun laws after the nation was mourning the mass shooting deaths that just occurred. A female leader said acting to address this issue was of major importance. How refreshing. Ardern will be speaking at Harvard on the subject of gun control and will likely visit with the US president. Think of the contrast between her and certain elected officials here that are attending a conference held by the NRA, ironically in Texas, or parroting the usual and stale tripe that goes for debate in our country to prevent what most Americans want from happening.

Leaders look like Ardern. They look like Zelenskyy. They looked like Merkel and Mandela. They are imperfect, but they represent the people, all people of their countries. I mention Mandela as he was being pressured to swing the pendulum even more the way of the native South Africans after Apartheid. He did make sure their rights were promoted, but he also recognized the country as a whole needed to come together.

We need to listen to leaders like this. They are refreshing in contrast to our elected officials here who will actually go against the majority of people’s wishes to garner votes from a vocal minority. It is truly sad to see that occur. And, it should be noted how I sparingly use the word leader here in the US.

The majority of people want better gun governance (a redundant plea)

Another week, another mass shooting in America. Ho-hum. Another day, more suicides by impetuous acts and more homicides by uncivil arguers. Boring. And, of course, we have the inevitable accidental shooting by a curious child and discovered weapon. This does not seem to bother anyone, either.

The following is a repeat of post from three years ago. It is a variation of a post I have written countless times. Yet, we do not seem to care. I am glad the president is going after ghost guns, but that is only part of the problem. When the leading US gun death cause is suicide, by far, you would think legislators, especially Republican ones, will stop counting the NRA donations and do something about this obvious problem.

From an article called “Polls find Americans mostly are supportive of stricter laws on guns” by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughn of the Raleigh News and Observer, please note the following cited survey results. Note these results have been fact checked by the paper’s Fact Checking Project.

– Gallup’s poll from August, 2019 noted “61% would support a ban on semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles.”

– The Civitas Institute (a conservative policy group) poll from September, 2019 showed “58% of respondents saying gun laws were not strict enough.” Note of the Civitas poll respondents, “48% either owned a gun or had someone in their home who owned a gun.”

– A Quinnipac University poll from May, 2019 showed “61% of Americans support stricter gun laws. The same poll showed 94% of Americans support required background checks for gun buyers. And, 77% of those polled support ‘requiring individuals to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.’”

– In 2017, Politifact Wisconsin “found multiple previous polls citing support for background checks ranging from 84% to 94%.”

The numbers 58% and 61% are meaningful, but let’s focus on the 94% (or even 84% to 94%) of respondents who want required background checks and the 77% who want a license before hand.

These are consequential majorities. Earlier this week, the Houston Chief of Police challenged his two Texas Senators (Ted Cruz and John Cornyn) and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell to act after yet another police officer was killed.

The NRA has spoken. Now, we need to set their ardent, sales focused rhetoric aside and act sensibly. Just the two items highlighted above will help – background checks and pre-buy licensing. No loopholes. Cars require ownership and driving licenses to operate. Yet, they are not designed to kill.

I am long-ago tired of the standard “thoughts and prayers” line offered by legislators followed by “now is not the time to discuss changes.” Since people are dying everyday by suicide and other reasons, waiting for a time with no deaths will not happen. Further, the mass shootings of more than a few victims are happening with alarming frequency.

To be brutally frank, Democrats should push this issue to the nth degree. Maybe, the Senate and president will act. It matters not who pats themselves on the back – JUST DO SOMETHING! And, these legislators are in my “thoughts and prayers” to actually act like the parents and grandparents we hope they would be.

Truisms of not great importance, mixed in with few that are

A few miscellaneous truisms:

  • a character killed off a soap opera is really not dead; they do come back in new permutations.
  • suicides are more prevalent in homes that have a gun on the premises; all it takes is one impulsive act.
  • the soap actor who played said deceased character is not married to the dead person role, so they may come back in a new role
  • the most prominent reason for gun deaths in America is suicide, not terrorism, not violent crime related.
  • a horror movie bad guy never dies, even when he does; the code word is “sequel.”
  • accidental shootings are one thing we should be able to avoid, yet a sad search to do is to Google “Four-year old kills six-year old” and read the related stories.
  • per Black comedian Chris Rock, a Black crew member on “Star Trek” should not beam down with Captain Kirk, as he is not coming back. Rock is heard to say in his routine, “Brother, don’t go.”
  • allowing guns on college campuses is a horrible idea, as college campuses have a higher rate of depression than in general society – again all it takes is one impulsive act.
  • when the bad guy is shot in a crime show, the police don’t remove his weapon; so someone else tends to get shot.
  • the surveys I have read convey most gun owners want better gun governance laws; yet the gun making lobby is too overwhelming to allow things to get done.
  • if a hospital, police or federal agent team includes a male and female, there will be future episodes of mutual attraction.
  • my own survey tells me I have heard too many “thoughts and prayers” or “it is a slippery slope” comments from legislators who want to stall to let the temperature for change abate. To me, our country needs more political courage to do needed things to make us safer.
  • if you watch Hallmark movies, no lead character is ever divorced; he or she is widowed, often with a child. I guess there are no greeting cards for divorces.
  • one of the things that scares more than me about the increased civil unrest in our country is we have more guns than people.
  • movies on channels with commercials will start immediately following the end of the previous movie’s credits finish – and you wonder why we binge watch.
  • there are changes we can make that people from the two parties can agree, if we can just get them to forget who put the money in their pocket.
  • finally, Chris Rock has a good solution for gun deaths – make the bullets cost $5,000 a piece. Shooters will become more judicious in shooting someone.

Another story about a child finding a gun, shooting (and killing) others

In a never ending story, yet another child has shot someone after discovering a gun in the house. I had been pulling together another post, when the following news article caught my eye in yesterday’s newspaper, “4-year-old accidentally shot by juvenile with unsecured weapon in Charlotte, police say” by Jonathan Limehouse of The Charlotte Observer. The full story follows, but I did provide a link below.

“A 4-year-old is in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries after being accidentally shot by another juvenile in a northwest Charlotte home Monday morning, police said.

Around 11:30 a.m., Charlotte-Mecklenburg police responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call in the 2100 block of Long Ridge Lane. Upon arrival, officers found the 4-year-old victim with a gunshot wound.

Based on initial evidence, police said another juvenile found an unsecured firearm inside the home and accidentally shot the victim.

Detectives are currently speaking with the adults who were inside the home at the time of the shooting, police said.

Police did not specify the relationship between the victim and the juvenile who fired the gun.

RECENT SHOOTINGS INVOLVING YOUTH, UNSECURED FIREARMS

▪ On Aug. 8, a 2-year-old boy in Gastonia shot and killed his father, Markovia LaShawn Durham, at his grandmother’s home.

“He thought it was a toy,” the child’s grandmother told Observer news partner WBTV.

The .40-caliber Glock handgun “was not properly secured at the time,” the Gaston Gazette reported.

Durham, 29, was feeding his son when the incident happened, the grandmother told WBTV.

▪ On the morning of July 24, a 14-year-old accidentally shot his 12-year-old brother in west Charlotte.

The 12-year-old was seriously injured, police said.

The 14-year-old was charged with possession of a handgun, which he found walking to a store near his house, the boy’s mother told WSOC-TV.

Police ruled this shooting an accident.

▪ A mother of five was accidentally killed in Cornelius on Feb. 15 when her children found a gun in her purse, according to Cornelius police.

Police found Gabriel Alexis Henderson, 25, in a back bedroom of her apartment. Medic pronounced her dead on the scene.

Investigators determined that the only people in the home at the time of the shooting was Henderson and her five children. The oldest child was in the living room, while the other four were in the bedroom playing with a small semi automatic handgun they found in Henderson’s purse, police said.

The mother’s youngest child also was shot but suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

YOUTH, HANDGUN SHOOTING STATISTICS

An estimated 4.6 million American children live in homes with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked, according to Everytown Research.

▪ There have been at least 239 unintentional shootings by children this year, resulting in 94 deaths and 157 injuries nationally.

▪ In North Carolina this year, there have been at least 12 unintentional shootings by children, resulting in seven deaths and six injuries.

▪ Last year, there were 15 unintentional shootings in the state, which resulted in six deaths and nine injuries.

▪ In 2019, there were at least seven unintentional shootings by children, resulting in just eight injuries in North Carolina.

▪ In 2018, there were at least eight unintentional shootings by children, resulting in two deaths and six injuries in North Carolina.”

I actually called the reporter and thanked him for his well-done article, including citing other recent shootings and child gun deaths over the last few years. To be brutally frank, this story could have been written at any time in any major city in America.

I blame cowardly politicians who are funded by the gun manufacturing industry who routinely tell us “now is the not the time” to address better gun governance. Well, right now, this is not about a mass shooting, although they are fairly routine in America. This is about what happens on a daily basis.

Guns need not be taken away, but we as a country need to have more accountability to owning a weapon designed to kill people. We govern driving a car better than we do owning a gun. It truly saddens me that someone dies at the hands of a child who stumbles onto a gun. It is especially painful when it is a child who is the victim. Plus the shooter has to live with the trauma of causing the death of another.

Responsible gun owners have stated publicly that they support better measures. Yet, the lobbyists from the gun industry keep stating the broken record of that is a “slippery slope.” Mr. Politician, I do not want to hear more platitudes of “thoughts and prayers” and I especially do not want to hear from gun industry sycophants giving me the party line of second amendment rights. Measures can be taken to make us safer and if won’t do it for adults, let’s at least do it for the children.

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article253525709.html

Help ask leadership a few questions that need answers

I do not have a crystal ball, but I do read and have read for more than a few years. I am not prescient, but I do recognize we have issues that are just not getting talked about enough or at all. Please help me ask a few simple questions of leadership – state and federal representatives, senators, governors, council member and county commissioners, etc.

  • since there is a global and US water crisis that will only be made worse by climate change – what do you plan to do about it now, not as it becomes even worse a problem?
  • since climate change is a huge problem by itself and shows up in utility, reinsurance, NGO, and governmental models with catastrophic impact, how do you plan to leverage further what others are already doing to combat it?
  • since America has fallen woefully behind other countries in infrastructure and we are just one expected train wreck or bridge collapse away from someone crying how could you let this happen, why is it so hard to figure out an infrastructure bill?
  • since any newspaper in any reasonably sized city will report daily local shooting deaths and with the every other day occurrence of mass shootings around the country, what do you plan to do about at least stemming the tide?
  • since a group of state governors and legislators are hell bent on restricting the rights of Americans to vote, why is it so hard to make sure federally that this sacred right is protected (and please do not cite the fallacy of election fraud the losing candidate in the last presidential election is touting still)?
  • since all Americans do not have practical access to civil rights protection, what do you plan to do about that to make sure they do?

These are just a few questions I have. Help me ask them and get answers.

Friday foibles

We are an imperfect lot, replete with various flaws and foibles. So, on this Friday, let me speak of a few foibles.

If patience is a virtue, does that make impatience a vice? Due diligence is predicated on taking the time to review candidates, agreements, deals, plans, research, etc. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. A reporter just got his hat handed to him by the White House press secretary for the second time in two weeks for failing to be prepared when he asked what he thought were zingers.

Ignoring the truth does not make it less true. It just means you are ignoring the truth. The Arkansas state legislature just passed a law allowing creationism to be taught as science in public schools, by a vote of 72 to 21. Really? Is next up teaching kids that dragons are dinosaurs that walked the earth the same time as humans?

Gun deaths in America annually exceed the number of gun deaths in the next twenty-three wealthiest nations combined. Since Congress is failing to act, as we hear yet again now is not the time to do anything to improve gun governance, President Biden is making some executive actions to do something. There are certain measures that the significant majority of Americans and gun owners think are reasonable. Congress, please get up off your hind end and do them. You are in my thoughts and prayers to act like parents and grandparents and not like a well-funded politicians.

Finally, we have yet one more male politician who has decided to think with a lower organ than his brain. And, what is funny is he thought he would not be discovered. Quite simply, men and women both do dumb things in the name of sexual satisfaction. Yet, male politicians seem to think they are immune to discovery like they have anti-Kryptonite suits. It should be noted that both mainstream political parties are not immune from the lower organ thinkers in their party. The question must always be – has the person’s actions damaged the integrity of the office he holds?

To sum up avoiding these foibles this Friday – be patient, be diligent, be truthful, act prudently and use that organ three feet above the other one to think with.

,

Welcome to America, I hope you are packing heat – a reprise of a still relevant post

The following post was written almost eight years ago, but as you read it, the events seem to come right out of today’s headlines. This is one topic I am truly tired of writing about, as lobbyists have hobbled the ability for legislators to act like parents and spouses and do something. Americans have said in surveys they want, yet nothing gets done. It reveals who butters the bread for these politicians. At this moment, one more shooting has occurred in Virginia. After Colorado. After Atlanta….

I have written several posts about our excessive gun violence in America. We lead the world by far in gun deaths and children gun deaths. Yet, we continue to do nothing about it. We have a parade of children led shootings at schools the past few weeks, yet we continue to do nothing about it. Pick up any US newspaper anywhere in the country and count the number of gun death or violence stories. I wrote a post about Googling a “six-year-old kills four-year-old” and counting the number of stories that pop up. Yet, we still do nothing about it. We have mass shootings, which are horrific tragedies, but dwarfed by the daily killings of kids, yet we still do nothing about it. And, Americans by virtue of reputable surveys, clearly want better background checks and more elongated waiting periods, yet we still do nothing about it.

Here are a few links to these previous posts.

I am thinking of the person who finally asked Senator Joe McCarthy during his communist witch hunt trials, “Senator, have you no shame?” That was actually the beginning of the end for McCarthy. I fully recognize the complexity of what is causing gun deaths, but the NRA and strident gun amassers would like you to believe that guns have little to do with gun deaths. Responsible gun owners know this not to be the case, which is why they take great pains to teach their use and put them away for safekeeping. So, using the McCarthy line above, “NRA, have you no shame?”

We are well past the time to act on these issues. It is a poverty issue, it is mental health issue, it is a lack of civil discourse issue, it is a violence in entertainment issue, but make no mistake about it, it is an access to guns issue. Without access to a weapon, the child does not kill his sibling or cousin. Without access to a weapon, the depressed teenager, college student or adult does not act on an impulse and end a life. Without access to a weapon a drunken patron at a bar or ball game does not go to his car and come back guns a blazing because they were offended.

NRA, have you no shame? You could have acted responsibly like the majority of gun owners, yet you decided to fan the flames of a fervent crowd and crow about Second Amendment rights, which I still have not seen anyone threaten. You have also usurped the leadership of the GOP and taken them down a darker path along with some other fervent misconceptions. As a result, we cannot have the long overdue civil, appropriate debate about this topic looking at all issues, including what Americans, even Republicans want by far – better background checks and elongated waiting periods. We should do more than that, but those two issues are no brainers and largely popular.

It is past time. NRA, have you no shame? NRA, stand down. We need to have a better conversation without your involvement, as you violated the trust of Americans and responsible gun owners, whom you no longer represent.

A few odds and ends with an eccentric twist

Since I was struggling for a topic, I thought I would throw in the mixing bowl a few odds and ends for your reading digestion. And, for the fun of it, I will mix in some some eccentric flavors for seasoning.

Sidney Powell, the former attorney for the former president, is being sued for defamation by her false claims of wide-spread voter fraud by Dominion Voting Systems. Her attorney’s defense is interesting – he notes that her claims were so outlandish, they should not be taken seriously. But, sir was she not parroting the same schtick the former president was saying about the election? It should be noted her defense will get her disbarred as attorneys are not supposed to bring frivolous law suits to court as she did for her deceitful and demanding client.

When a Senator or Representative says things that are obviously untrue or racist, they should be called out on it. Senator Ron Johnson has said he was not afraid of the Trump fueled insurrection, as the people who stormed the Capitol loved their country, but if it had been people from the Black Lives Matter group he would have been afraid. Mr. Johnson (dropping the Senator title as he does not deserve its use), these folks breached the Capitol building and seven people have died. Then, there is likes of Hitler historian Representative Madison Cawthorn who noted there is no funding for Veterans, when there obviously is.

Doing nothing to improve gun governance is obviously not working. We have two mass shootings in ten days, but we lose sight of what happens every day. We lose sight that the number one gun death, by far, is suicide. There are measures that even gun owners support. These “thoughts and prayers” ointment or “now is not the time” salve or “this change would not have stopped this occurrence” lotion are very tiresome. My strong advice to Senators and Representatives now that the NRA is in a state of disarray after the leadership was forced out for embezzling funds, is to get off your hind end and do something. There is one thing for damn sure – doing nothing “ain’t working.”

As an independent, when incumbents dishonor the position they hold, action must be taken ranging from admonishment, censure, stripping of duties, or removal. It matters not what party they belong to. It matters not how much clout they have. If the entity or party does not do this, it means what they did is acceptable behavior. The Catholic Church, Volkswagen, Toyota, Penn State University, Michigan State University, US Women’s Gymnastics Team, Ohio State University, et al did not heed the lessons needed to police illegal behavior and harmed their reputations as well as people’s lives. People must be held to account for deceitful, corrupt, seditious or assaulting behavior. It is wrong.

That is all I have for now. Let me know your thoughts.