Posts Tagged Guns
Sure, the mass murders get our attention! There have been so many, in fact, that we can’t keep track—Columbine, Virginia Tech, of course Sandy Hook when 20 First Graders and six adults were massacred, last year’s Pulse in Orlando, and this week’s 59 deaths in Las Vegas. But above and beyond all that, the everyday (unfortunately) shootings take the lives of many, many more Americans, some 8,121 in 2014. Yes, these murders have become so obscenely common that they are only reported in the local newspapers.
Some Americans have breathed a sigh of relief recently, since Donald Trump, the GOP Majority in Congress and even the National Rifle Association—the face of the Guns and Ammo Industry—have agreed that something must be done about “Bump Stock” devices, which convert semi-automatic riffles into automatic. That means they can spew their deadly cartridges at the rate of nine per second, rather than only one. In essence, the death dealers and enablers might be throwing us a bone; but, let’s read the fine print!
Most people in America are killed by handguns, rather than rifles. Consider: the seven year old girl playing on her front porch who was caught in a drive-by; the 18 month old who reached into his grandmother’s purse for candy; suicides; the boy walking to his high school graduation who was killed in a cross-fire; domestic abuse; neighborhood arguments; armed robbery; drug gang shout-outs; and so many, many more. When will this madness end?
In 2014, a mass murderer drove around Santa Barbara California, near the University of California-Santa Barbra, shooting people at random—just after he had earlier stabbed a family to death. Richard Martinez, the father of slain Christopher Martinez, posed a very important question.
As the pro-gun lobby, namely the NRA, led the call to preserve our Right to Bear Arms, Mr. Martinez asked: “They talk bout Gun Right…What about Chris’ Right to Live?” Toward the beginning of our Declaration of Independence, which states the premise for America’s Independence, the “Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are clearly presented.
So, before we get too euphoric about the potential “Bump-Stock” legislation, let’s keep our focus on the need to control all guns—from purchase, to use, to possession to training. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are inalienable rights, which are more basic than the questionable interpretation of the Second Amendment, demand it!
NOTE: Earlier today, I outlined my basic ideas for acceptable Gun Legislation, enabling law-abiding citizens access to firearms, while also protecting the rights of all Americans to live in peace and safety. If you wish to plow through it, the outline is as follows:
In the beginning of The Declaration of Independence, which lays the groundwork for who we are, as a People, it states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…” Life is a given, without context and wouldn’t change, throughout the years.
Now, Amendment II of the Constitution–“A well-regulated militia, being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This right was added, as part of The Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments, on December 15, 1791, in response to the British Quartering Act, among other unjust laws of England.
Placing this in context, the Right to Bear Arms was intended to enable the Colonies to defend themselves against external forces. Additionally, at that time, all men and boys of a certain age, owned muskets to hunt game for the family table. This was just before “rifling”–the curved groove within the barrel, which enhanced accuracy by spinning the bullet–became common.
I believe that, in that context, universal ownership of guns–especially semi-automatic and automatic assault rifles, high capacity magazines, silencers, bump-stock rifles, and other “Toys of War”, would have required new legislation. Additionally, safeguard–a 72 hour waiting period to purchase, registration of gun shops and shooting ranges, background checks, a National serial number registry, required courses for the proper use, maintenance and storage should be included. Background checks should be required periodically.
trumpAnyone with TV or broadband access, undoubtedly saw videos of the dead and wounded, following a poison gas attack, in Syria on Tuesday. The U. S. responded with a massive 59 Tomahawk Missile attack on the Shayrat Airfield, the base which the U. S. believes that the planes, loaded with the Sarin-laden bombs, took-off from. Russia helicopters also uses that base, however! It is unclear as to whether the Syrians, or the Russians, heeded the advanced-warning of the attack; however, there did not appear to be any aircraft debris on the field, in photos that I saw on the following day.
It is commonly believed that, since the War began six years ago, President Bashar Assad’s forces have killed 500,000 of his own people. The photos of dead and wounded, after the Sarin air strike, were horrible to watch; but still, I remember the lifeless body of a three year-old boy, a couple of years ago, who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean, with his mother and brother. That still photo reminded me of just about any small child, just curled-up sleeping; but, that small boy was dead! Why hasn’t anyone acted before—the U. S., Russia, the U. N., the Arab League, etc? How approaching this problem like the seven nation Nuclear Agreement with Iran?
Why didn’t Donald Trump delay the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, iust a day or two, so that he could devote his full attention to the missile attack? Or, he could have changed the venue to the White House, rather than to his Mar-a-Lago estate. How much time did the two presidents, and their various advisors waste, in flying down to Palm Beach? And that faux “situation room”, with flags a-flutter, truly looked just like a group of businessmen waiting for their dinner reservation. The flags were a photo-op give-away, in a room where tough decisions were charaded to be made? And, no jackets off. sleeves rolled-up?
In a recent post, I had suggested that Congress needs to reaffirm its sole authority to Declare War! Whether we like it or not, Syria is a sovereign state. Also, as a signatory to the United Nations Charter, we can only use military force on another country’s soil, either with its consent, in cases of self-defense or with the approval of the U. N.
As morally warranted as last Thursday’s attacks might have been, what the Trump Regime did was unconstitutional, and also against International Law. The U. S. Department of Defense justified the attack as being: “intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again,” That is clearly NONSENSE!.
An initial use of force against an enemy, by the way, would generally be the first of several, or ,many, narrowly-focused actions, designed to progress toward a long-range, strategic mission. So far, however, since no end-game has been revealed, it certainly appears that the Trump Regime is just making this up as it goes along!
During the Administration of President (and former General) Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Defense Department formulated its “First Offset Strategy”, which has always been expected to be an on-going blueprint, for keeping militarily our superiority over the Soviet Union. Ike’s Plan was to take advantage of on-going advanced technological applications within our weapons arsenal. Currently, that top tier of adversaries is composed of Russia and China, with lesser adversaries grouped accordingly. Two years ago, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, described the newest version of that blueprint, the “Third Offset Strategy”, to a group of U. S. partners and allies. In his presentation, Mr. Work said:
“While the United States and our closest allies fought two lengthy wars over the past 13 years, the rest of our — the rest of the world and our potential adversaries were seeing how we operated. They looked at our advantages. They studied them. They analyzed them. They looked for weaknesses. And then they set about devising ways to counter our technological over-match.”
Donald Trump boasts about his unpredictability. After the Election in November, when he received the full Presidential Briefing, he allegedly asked: “Since we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?” So here we are, just three days after the (conventional) attack on Syria, and he’s already talking about installing nuclear weapons in South Korea. He had also suggested sending a (presumed) special ops team to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, the Supreme Leader of nuclear-armed North Korea.
Donald Trump boasts about being unpredictable and, with his lack of any clearly defined strategic objectives, as well as his total disregard for the Rule of Law, I am deeply concerned about the potential outcome. He does;t seem to realize that Power Kills, and that means real people’s lives! Under his misguided “Leadership”, Donald Trump could transform America into just another irrational state, but with a vast nuclear arsenal!
Given Mr. Trump’s unprecedented conceit, he doesn’t realize how ignorant he is about: knowing where the Syrian attack might lead America to militarily; the disapproval that the recent action might bring from the International Community; the ramifications from ignoring the U. S. Constitution and the International Rule of Law…and, now he wants to “Do it again”–in North Korea. The GOP seems enamored with him; but, only so they can push through their Draconian laws. But, when will the American People put a stop to this Megalomaniac?
Over the past couple of years, the political environment among many Americans has become heated. Friend against friend, neighbor on neighbor, they are now embattled; but, they often know little more than the political slogans or the soundbites, and there is little focus, if any, on understanding, either the underlying causes, or finding possible solutions.
Over the next several weeks, I intend to describe some of these issues—how they appear on the surface, and what, I believe, the underlying problems might be. If Americans wish to work together, we can possibly find workable solutions. But first, we need to take the political boxing gloves off, and discard our biased emotions.
For some of these problems, I have already posted blogs: the Infrastructure Scam; the impact of Immigration Policy on our economy; Institutionalized Racism in our Public Schools, etc. But, only when we consider these issues, as part of a greater, and even more important, problem—Preventing the Destruction of America—might we possibly find solutions!
I don’t claim to have all of he answers or, perhaps, even know all of the questions. But, if America keeps festering from within, What Will We Become?
It seems that America has continued to have many instances of police officers killing black men. Surely, there are occasional run-ins with other minorities, even women, but it is mostly black men who are shot and killed. And in some cases, the police officer, doing the shooting, is also black. I have known many police officers and federal agents over the years, and they are all good men? So, why are there all of these fatal black-white confrontations?
The law enforcement officers that I have known come mostly from the upper- working class, and are generally well-educated. Sociologists have suggested that some members of the middle-income group, especially from families who have worked their way up, tend to be more resentful of upward-mobile members of lower-income groups. And thus, they might carry subconscious characterizations of various minorities, even though they are not personally aware of, or perhaps ignore, that fact.
Additionally, over the past few years, the Justice Department has been investigating certain police departments—such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland—to determine whether there might be some systemic reasons why blacks are treated more harshly than whites, and perhaps denied their Constitutional Rights. But, something apparently does happen, at least when some officers put on that badge and uniform.
The recent shooting death of a black father-of-four, in Tulsa, Oklahoma is a good case in point. Several police officers, responding to a call, came across Terrance Crutchfield, age 40, whose vehicle had stopped running in the middle of a one-lane roadway. Several of the officers had their guns drawn, when a white female police officer fatally shot Mr. Crutchfield. Police body cameras, from various angles, indicate that the motorist was standing in the middle of the road, and was clearly holding his empty hands high in the air.
Obviously, there are always details which are generally unknown, except to the police at this time. Media reports, however, cited such police radio comments as: he looks like a bad dude; he might have a gun; and he looks like he’s (high?) on something. After the officer shot Mr. Crutchfield, she said that he didn’t get down on the ground when she told him to. A motorist with a stalled vehicle?
Would Mr. Crutchfield, looking at several police pistols directed at him, really want to get into a gun fight—at point blank range? What does it mean that he looks like a bad dude? Police departments have roadside checks for DUI; but that shouldn’t result in being shot! Also, Mr. Crutchfield does have a police record, dating back to his teenage years, and he did serve four years in prison, ending in 2001. But, that is not justification for the use of lethal force. Isn’t there something in the “Spirit” of our laws about: “…having paid his debt to Society?”
Consider the comment by the police officer who killed Mr. Crutchfield, after she shot him: “He didn’t get down on the ground when I told him to!” This is truly a case of Racial Profiling gone awfully, awfully bad. Personally, I surely wouldn’t have gotten down on the ground either, even if ordered by a police officer, when they were responding to my stalled automobile. But, I wouldn’t be dead; because, I am white!
Surely. there are other, more capable people who are trying to get their arms around this problem—both in Tulsa and numerous other cities around the nation. But, there also needs to be better screening of police officer applicants, to include: psychological screening for temperament; establish some acceptable minimum of racial and ethnic intolerance; the ability to think rationally under stress; investigate why an officer was fired from a prior police department; and adequately understand an applicant’s over-enthusiasm about our Second Amendment Rights.
NOTE: Perhaps even veteran officers need to go through such screens, say every ten years or so, to prevent burn-out and the negative results of job stress.
Now, don’t laugh. This is one of those “You just can’t make this stuff up” blog posts. The combination of the words, Donald Trump and Law-and-Order, is somewhat of an oxymoron. If you’ve watched any of his rallies, Trump just spews hate speech, and incites violence. Whenever there has been police-on-civilian violence, he has stressed his unquestioned support for the police; but, he has never suggested that the black man, or woman, might have been the victim.
Last week, Trump promised that he would be the Law-and-Order President, when he spoke in Wisconsin. I was surprised, because he had just been there for a rally recently. Also, between his two trips, there had been another black man killed in Milwaukee, by a black police officer. As Trump spoke, however, his motivation became apparent. And the following day, staunch Trump supporter, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani further convinced me.
In the Law-and-Order speech that evening, Trump also promised that he would win 95% of the Black vote. Now, there’s just 80 days until the Election, and with him currently polling at just one percent of the demographic, that boast surely borders on lunacy! Giuliani said that Trump went to a dangerous area to give that speech. Well, Donald Trump actually gave his Law-and-Order speech, in which he also extended a desperate appeal to the Black Community, in a town that is 95% White, and is 40 miles away from Milwaukee. Was he really speaking to the Black Community?
I believe that Donald Trump was primarily speaking to the Republican Party Establishment, and to the White Community. He was demonstrating to the GOP, which is leery about controlling him, that he can truly act “Presidential”. At the same time, Whites recognized the absurdity of a Trumpian epiphany, and his befriending Blacks, or any of the other groups that he has previously denigrated on a regular basis. But, in the end, Donald will be Donald!
By now, virtually anyone who can read or watch television is aware of GOP Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump’s comments, yesterday in Wilmington, N. C. As noted in the linked story, from The New Yorker, he said: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” while considering the horror of a Hillary Clinton Presidency. But, he continued, “Although, the Second Amendment People—maybe there is, I don’t know.” That article is linked, as follows: http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-gun-owners-should-reject-trumps-call-to-second-amendment-people?intcid=mod-latest.
“Second Amendment People” appears to be a new “dog whistle,” or code, for the fringe gun-owners who seem to believe that it is their right to own and carry arms, regardless of the time and place, or any infringement on other people’s rights of “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The danger of such comments—such assertions—is far beyond what the speaker might have meant. And, maybe not! The result of those words, however, is what truly matters—in the end.
Yesterday, Trump Surrogate and former NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, tried to explain the comments as Trump invoking some mythical “Power of Unification,” the combined voting power of SAP. And last night, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that it was probably “…just a joke gone bad.” Really, I’m not making this up! Are they really suggesting that Trump was calling for his loyalists to vote? When in 2020? A bad joke, just like the recent sarcasm in exhorting Putin? Or maybe, just Donald being Donald?
Cheri Shalev, a Correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, provided some excellent perspective regarding his interpretation of the recent RNC Convention, linked as follows: http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/u-s-election-2016/1.732387. Mr. Shalev compares the political tone of that convention with events, which actually played-out, in Israel, in 1995, in which he wrote: “…words can kill.”
Shalev cites the hateful rhetoric that was hurled at Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in the wake of the Oslo Accords. Mr. Shalev went on to say that there are enough people, who are inclined to violence, and cannot separate political diatribes from practical exhortations. And after it was reported that Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, acted on what he (thought he) had heard, the inciters washed their hands and denied responsibility.
The Republican Leadership—if there is, indeed, any such thing—needs to find a way out of this mess. They have created their Monster, and only they can pull the plug on Donald Trump. T hey should rightfully not shed any tears on what they will become after 2016. As the preponderance of rational Americans view it: the Ship pf Fools has already sailed. But at least, clean-up your mess—for the Good of the Country!