Friday, July 28, 2017

SHOOTINGS: NO EASY SOLUTIONS


There are no easy solutions to ending gun violence. The causes are numerous: lack of mental health care, failure to recognize these shootings are a male-related crisis (97% of the mass shootings are done by males), no universal background checks for people buying guns, and politicians who have sold out to gun manufacturers and the National Riffle Association (NRA).

The sharp rise in gun violence can be pinpointed to the states’ cutting back mental health care services and facilities. In many instances people who are a threat to themselves or others have no place to go. In Virginia the mental health care system is so dysfunctional that when state Senator Creigh Deeds tried to get his son committed for treatment, he was told there was no bed available. In fact beds were available. Within 24 hours of being denied treatment, Deed’s son seriously wounded his father and then killed himself.

Despite the promises in Richmond to allocate more resources to mental health following the Virginia Tech rampage, the state spends less on mental health care today than it did on the eve of April 16, 2007. Innocent people are mowed down in places of learning and houses of prayer; we wring our hands, cry, and pray. Our legislators cut funds for mental heath care despite the near unanimous opinion by mental health care experts that we could dramatically cut all crimes if we put a major effort behind broadening the availability and quality of mental health care.

There are no cheap fixes to the problem of gun violence, but one thing is clear, letting a student kill others is an abdication of responsibility and authority.


The slaughter goes on. (To be continued)

Monday, July 24, 2017

SHOOTINGS: WHAT I WANT


What I want is to keep guns out of the hands of people who have been deemed a threat to themselves or others. We can dramatically reduce the numbers of school shootings and incidents of gun violence if we would keep weapons out of the hands of those people.

Misguided Second Amendment proponents come up with an endless list of reasons as to why this or that proposal is bad, why this or that proposal violates individual rights. Second Amendment proponents are people you go to when you want to be told, “This or that idea is no good” or “that violates the Constitution.” They have no ideas or counter proposals, all they have is criticism. The main staple of their vocabulary is “no.” Even Jeb Bush, when asked to comment on the recent spate of school shootings, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Stuff happens.”

We, as a nation, seem paralyzed to take action. Every time legislation is proposed that might help curb the epidemic of gun violence, Second Amendment advocates decry it as a violation of Constitutional rights to bear arms. Nowhere do they mention the Constitutional rights of the dead and wounded victims.


The problem of gun violence in this country has reach epidemic proportions and it is getting worse. From Columbine, to Grundy, to Blacksburg, to Aurora, to Charleston, to Roseburg, to Northern Arizona on it goes. The bodies are piled higher and higher, and we take no action to end the carnage. (To be continued)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

THE SECOND AMENDMENT


        “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Some claim that there should be no restrictions on gun ownership; that to restrict a person’s right to buy and own a gun, in any way, violates the Second Amendment of the Constitution. That is not true. Look at the Second Amendment at the top of the page.

The Second Amendment was written in the late 1700s when this nation was being formed and there was a genuine and real fear the British would attack and try to return us to colonial status. That is why there is a reference to Militia up front in the amendment. I am not diminishing the current interpretation of the Second Amendment emphasizing citizens’ rights. But I am urging the use of common sense when projecting the founding fathers’ words forward two centuries without using common sense.

When the Second Amendment was written, the standard weapon was a musket. It took time to load the musket ball, pour in the powder and fire one shot. I have fired one of those muskets, I know.

When I was a boy, my father and younger brother used to take me to a quarry to fire my brother’s 1862 civil war musket. It takes a long time to load and fire. Mass killings by one person with a musket were impossible in the 1700s.

The founding fathers did not imagine rapid-fire assault weapons. There were no six-chamber pistols, nor were there AK-47s. There were no multi-bullet magazines that mow down or wound large numbers of people in just a few minutes. I find it hard to believe that our founding fathers would sanction allowing those bent on harming others to have unfettered access to weapons capable of killing dozens of people in just a few moments.

No one wants to take away or limit the rights of mentally sound, decent, law-abiding citizens to own a gun for protection, hunting, or target practice. Gun ownership and hunting are part of our heritage. It does give me pause when a person wants to own a rapid fire, repeating weapon. Why someone needs magazines that will hold more than nine bullets is beyond me. Most, if not all of these weapons were developed for the military to kill enemy soldiers. These weapons were not meant for hunting, they were meant for killing people and that is what is being done in our schools, churches, theaters, shopping malls, and offices. (To be continued)


Thursday, July 20, 2017

SHOOTINGS: FRIGHTENING STATISTICS


The statistics are compelling and frightening. According to Mother Jones, “Between 1982 and 2011, a mass shooting occurred in the United States every 200 days. Between 2011 and 2014, a mass shooting occurred every 64 days.” As the magazine points out, “The frequency of mass shootings has tripled since 2011.”

On October 1, 2015 a 26-year-old white male killed eight people and wounded nine others at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Just eight days later, on October 9th, there were two school shootings in one day. One person was killed and three were wounded at Northern Arizona University. Later in the day, one person was killed and one wounded at Texas Southern University. There are so many shootings and killings that many do not even make the evening news crawl on TV screens.

The answer is not more guns. The United States has over 300 million guns in private hands, or nearly one gun for every citizen.

The answer is to find ways to keep guns out of the hands of those who are bent on mass public executions. (To be continued)


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ACTUALLY, GUNS DO KILL


For over fifteen years I have analyzed and written about mass shootings; for over fifteen years I have been hitting my head against a stonewall.

Mass slaughter on school grounds, in theaters, in churches, and in shopping malls may be the most serious and complex problem in this nation’s history. Solving the problem will take careful and deliberate thought, but thinking is hard work and there are no easy solutions. Those few who do propose ways to reduce the epidemic of gun violence are met with a fusillade of emotions on why their ideas won’t work.

The Violence Grows

Since January 16, 2002, when Angela Dales, the mother of my oldest grandchild, was gunned down at the Appalachian School of Law, the number of school shootings has steadily grown. The press reports there have been two school shootings a month in 2015, and there six more school shootings February 2016 alone.

Since January 16, 2002, the bodies have continued to pile up: Virginia Tech, 32 killed and 17 wounded; Isla Vista, California, 6 killed, 13 wounded; Sandy Hook Elementary, 20 children and 6 teachers killed; and Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon, 9 killed, 7 wounded.  The people who were killed and wounded were shot, they were not stabbed; they were not beaten. Guns were used to kill and maim.

The far right of the American political spectrum says, “Guns don’t kill, people kill.” Right, that is a no-brainer play-on-words. Cars don’t kill either, but they can and do in the hands of people. That is why we license cars and their drivers. If a gun did not kill my family member then what did? The answer is a gun killed Angela Dales, a person with a gun.


Perhaps the most sobering statistic is there are, on average, 92 gun deaths a day in the U.S. We claim to be the greatest nation on Earth, but we do next to nothing when children are slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or worshipers are massacred at a prayer service in Charleston, South Carolina, or a TV reporter and cameraman are murdered on live television in Roanoke, Virginia. And on and on it goes. (To be continued)