Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Some Ideas For The NRA

The NRA's response to the deaths of 26 innocent people in Newtown, CT and elsewhere is to double down on guns.   More guns.  We need more instruments of death.   Since the NRA is incapable of truly doing any real thought on the issue, here are some ideas I'd love to have them consider?  

  1. Every gun purchased and accesory must be registered with a national database.   This would include the legal purchaser's name, address, and vital information.
  2. Gun owners will be responsible for updating registration information anytime they sell, giveaway, or transfer a gun.   They also will be responsible for reporting any weapon that is stolen.
  3. Gun owners who do not do this will be held liable for any crimes committed with their gun.  
  4. All medical and information pertaining to a shooting will be recorded, including all details of injuries, deaths, property destroyed, gun owner, gun used, clips used, ammo used, legality of a weapon, where all items were purchased, and more.  This will ensure that we have accurate data to use when discussing gun crimes.  
  5. All sales must now be reported and background checks be completed.
  6. Every gun owner must have a background check pulled and report guns owned once  a year. 
  7. Gun manufacturer and gun sellers will have all liability protections repealed.  Let the courts decide if gun manufacturers are liable for damages done with their product.   

Friday, December 21, 2012

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.

Quick Quiz.

Which politician, political figure, or pundit said the following?

The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have to have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.
 If you answered Oklahoma City Bomber, Timothy McVeigh, you win an AR-15.   Just go to Walmart and pay for one.   

Does the quote above sound familiar?  Perhaps like the rhetoric of the far right that is convinced that Obama is a socialist who is coming for your guns and wants to control your life?   How about the view McVeigh had  that the UN was going to take over the US Government?   Wasn't it kind of like the argument used against supporting worldwide rights for people with disabilities.

The reality is that these are paranoid fantasies by people who are disillusioned with government, life, authority, and perhaps many other things.  Most of them have never encountered any real threat to their safety, but act as though their life is always one step away from imploding.  These people believe they understand history because the past two or three decades they've been fed a continual line of crap about guns and government by special interest groups who are simply interested in pumping up the sales figures for weapons, survivalist gear, and more.  

If you want to rant and rave about the Constitution, then you have to accept that the success of the document is not in the Second Amendment, but the ENTIRE DAMNED DOCUMENT.   The President can't become a dictator or infringe on our rights because of the entire document, not just the Second Amendment.    Every day is not some sort of homegrown Red Dawn where the US invades itself and takes our liberty.      Instead it's another day in which the system of checks and balances on government and our laws actually work both in accordance with the needs of today and the intent of the Founding Fathers.    By holding the Second Amendment up above all others, you're saying that none of the document REALLY works, and you've always got to have one eye looking over your shoulder for Big Brother.   

I'm constantly told that people own guns because they don't want to live in fear.  Let me suggest that if you're to the point that you've bought multiple guns with a high capacity for ammo to defend yourself against the Government, or even intruders, you ARE living in fear.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mike Huckabee -- God showed those public school students, parents, and teachers

So Mike Huckabee thinks the Newtown shooting happened because we've respected the first amendment call for the separation of church in state.   In his mind, God wasn't there because we rely on our parents to teach religion to public school students, not teachers. His statements are incredibly insensitive and horrific things to say in the wake of a tragedy with so many dead, including children. Its a heinous comment because it ignores that the parents who are grieving undoubtedly are people of faith. It also portrays God as not one who loves, but an egomaniac who lets evil happen to kids simply to send a message. Perhaps most importantly, it absolves people like Mike Huckabee from addressing their own role in the matter, placing second amendment rights above all others, including the reason most people came to America, the freedom to worship as you choose. Huckabee openly supported unfettered access to guns and has helped shape the notion that we need to arm ourselves to the teeth to protect ourselves from the government (you, know, people like the teachers, fire, ems, and police who had to deal with yesterday's horror). Nowhere in the New Testament can I find any reference to Jesus saying you should stockpile semi automatic weapons. Jesus would be appalled at stockpiling guns in his name. Mike Huckabee gives both politicians and those of us who are Christians a bad name.

As someone on Twitter so eloquently put it, "this shooting didn't happen because we took religion out of schools, Mike Huckabee happened because we took education out of schools."

My Thoughts on the Newtown Shootings

Over 11 years ago my daughter was a month away from being born on a beautiful September day when four planes were crashed by men with nothing but evil on their minds.  I remember being stunned, horrified, sad, and scared.    What kind of world was my daughter entering? 

Those feelings faded, and I can honestly say that nothing's really approached them since.  Even as the anniversaries of 9/11 came and went, it seemed more and more impersonal, like something that happened to someone else.  

Today was another normal day.  I went to work and as I was checking twitter for a laugh, I saw the reports of a school shooting.  An elementary school.   The morbid curiosity that such an event used to bring for a news junkie like me was replaced by immediate dread.   I found myself horribly hoping that it was at worst a domestic situation or perhaps just some misguided kid who brought a gun to school. 

And the early reports gave me hope.  "Gunman dead."   But the continual reports made it clear it was much worse.  

Twenty children, all younger than my own baby.   Twenty lives snuffed out in no time at all by a man with a gun.   I cried many times.   I had trouble focusing on work all day.   I got angry and I spoke out.  

I asked the question on other social media sites:  "Can we talk about guns now?" 

The responses from the most rabid gun lovers in my "social" circles made it clear the answer was no.   How dare I politicize this event while the tragedy was still unfolding. 

How dare I not? 

Spare me the "if they didn't have guns, they'd just find something else," argument.  That includes the 22 kids who were injured today (not killed as many kept saying) in China by a knife wielding maniac.   

No, I don't think you should ban knives, cars, drinking, or other items that you ridiculously equate with guns. 

I didn't even say you should ban guns.   

But those who chastised me didn't care about the discussion, they cared about the mention of the role of guns in this mass murder. 

"Guns don't kill people, people do," I was told. 
Here's the truth.   Guns help the people who do kill people do it quickly, easily, and in large numbers without any time for reflection or to get away.       

So spare me your NRA talking points.   Spare me the idea that discussion of guns and what we can do about gun violence equates to an evil government coming to collect all your guns.   Spare me your paranoia.

And hey, Mike Huckabee and AFA mouthpiece Bryan J. Fischer, spare me your belief that this is because of the separation of church and state and God decided he didn't want to be where he wasn't wanted.   It's not clear at this point what separates you and people like you from people like Westboro Baptist Church. 

If gun defenders are as brave as your rhetoric, back bumperstickers and Facebook posts, then be prepared to sit down and talk like adults about what we can do.  Nobody's going to kill you with their words, thoughts, ideas, or questions.  

Perhaps we might all make the world a better place.  

And figure out how we keep future generations from knowing what a mass shooting is. 

We owe it to my daughter, her friends, and all of the innocent children and grieving parents who were victims of today's senseless violence.  

Think about it.   And pray about it.   But know we can no longer do nothing about it.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Letter To My Senator on Newtown Shootings

Senator McConnell,

Several times today I wiped tears away hearing the story of children being killed by a gunman with a gun that made it very easy for him to do so.   We will hear from your colleagues and GOP pundits that we "shouldn't politicize" this tragedy by talking about guns and gun laws.  

My question is this.  If the deaths of twenty little kids isn't the time to talk about it, when is?  

Your record on guns indicates that you don't believe that the gun industry should be held liable for any violence on innocent people that results from use of their product and that support the bare minimum of restrictions on sales of firearms.  

I would love for you for once to step away from the protection of sympathetic radio and TV hosts and form letters that don't address what your constituents express to you and explain WHY you're beholden to the NRA, and why you don't think there needs to be a national discussion on gun violence.   I'd love to see you do this in an open exchange where you and others discuss the issue, and not simply make speeches.  

But really what I'd like you to do is think about my 11 year old daughter and the millions of children out there who could have been victims today or any day of people with legally obtained weapons that can do such horrific violence in such a short period of time. 

Yes, guns don't kill people.   But easy access to powerful and quickly fired guns makes sure the job can be done easily and quickly.

I implore you to put politics aside and become a leader on this issue.  Do it for my daughter.  Do it for the sons and daughters of your friends, family, and future generations. 

Thank you.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lock The Gate -- WTF With Marc Maron

When I began to look for podcasts to listen to, I remember iTunes recommending WTF with Marc Maron.   I assumed that the W stood for "who" because I couldn't place Marc Maron's name anywhere.  And that picture?  It looked like Robert Crumb suddenly got into police sketches and was assigned the Unibomber.

But I downloaded it. And listened.  What was this mess?  Multiple f-bombs before we'd even gotten one minute in?   Clearly this guy wasn't even clever.  How in the hell was he interviewing these big comics?   How did anyone even get past that first five minutes where he talks about crapping his pants and rambles on about nothing?   I don't know you, Marc, so why should I care about your self indulgent ramblings about your music collection?   

So I stopped listening.   And later, I returned.  And I got it.   

See, Marc Maron IS juvenile and self-indulgent.  But he's also mature and caring. And he also has a genuine love and affection for his art form (comedy) and the people within it.  In almost every interview you can see him looking to connect with the people that have influenced him, the peers he's come up with, the new guys he's helped mentor, and even the people he has nothing in common with.  

And what's amazing is that for a guy who brings so much of himself to the table, he manages to use his own connections to the guests (either careerwise or in the parallels in his life to their life) to illuminate the guest, not simply reflect back on himself.   While Marc is a comedian and is very funny, WTF gives him the freedom to not be funny, but simply to talk about life, art, happiness, sadness, hatred, and the human condition with a group of people who either come from dark places or spend their lives searching them.    Marc's guests are mostly from the world of comedy and music, and Marc brings a true fan's appreciation of both.  His freewheeling conversations and the freedom from the conventions of talk shows have allowed Marc to get all sorts of revelations about his guests, from Todd Hanson talking about his suicide attempt to Todd Glass coming out.  And even with revelations like these,  WTF never feels exploitive because you know Marc Maron genuinely cares about his guests.   

In the end, I come back to WTF with Marc Maron because it's human.  I learn about an artform I love.  I get to hear about famous people who have the same stupid neurotic hang ups I have.   I get to know that there's another guy out there with a love/hate relationship with cats.   And most importantly, I get to laugh.    

And it's free.  So as Marc would say, "DO IT!"   

And Marc, I apologize for my first impressions.  Are we good?