Entries Tagged as 'Politics'

The Death Wish – Conclusion

The Death Wish – Conclusion

After being so angry and distraught with the state of American culture as it relates to gun violence I’m at a bit of a crossroads. I myself am a gun owner. I’ve always enjoyed shooting and have been doing so for the past 35 years. I own several handguns and rifles. One of the rifles that I own is an AR-15 which is the same type of assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook shootings last week. The AR-15 type rifle is an amazing firearm. It is relatively light, very accurate and you can easily carry more ammunition than the older .30-06 or 7.62mm cartridges used in previous U.S. battle rifles. If I had the choice of only one gun to go into a fight with, it would be this type of weapon. It is my best and most favorite of all my guns.

THE AR-15 AND ALL OTHER ASSAULT RIFLES SHOULD BE BANNED.

I say this because I am making America a little bit less safe by having one. How do I know that I will never permanently or more likely temporarily lose my mind? How can I say with absolute certainty that my rifle will never be used to commit a murder? Three years ago my house was burglarized and two of my handguns were stolen. There is a possibility that they could have been used in the commision of a crime. Even though my guns are stored in a disassembled state or under lock and key that is not enough. If the gun exists there is a chance that it can be used improperly. I know that this is true, I’ve seen it happen. Even good people, normal people, kind people can temporarily go out of their minds with rage.

When I was a teenager I had an older friend. This man was loved by everyone in our family. He was kind, funny and warm. I have fond memories of the two of us driving all over town. Talking and laughing, just getting through the lazy days of summer. He met a girl, who was just beautiful, and I guess he fell for her pretty hard. After having been together for a while something went wrong in the relationship and she started seeing someone else. Eventually my friend found out that she was stepping out on him and he lost his mind. He shot and killed his girlfriend and her lover. Two days later after seeing us one last time the police caught up to him and he took his own life right there in the street. I’m here to tell you, that not everyone who commits murder is evil. I honestly doubt that Lanza was evil, it appears to me that the boy was deranged. The likes of Timothy McVeigh, Hitler and Bin Laden are Evil. But sometimes regular people just snap for some reason. Other times people are sick for some time and become increasingly unstable to the point that they do something like Lanza or Cho did. I honestly don’t know which column to put Klebold and Harris into. Laughner (who shot Gabby Giffords) was completely certifiable. The point is that you cannot predict future mental stability, your own or anyone else’s for that matter.

There is no way to make all of the guns in America disappear. But it is completely within our legal, constitutional and moral capacity to remove the types of guns that make it easier to kill so many people so quickly. We can ban these types of assault rifles. How many times in the past 10 years has someone had to defend their home during a sustained assault from multiple aggressors where an assault rifle was required? Can someone please point me to an example where someone defended themselves in a way that could only have been achieved with an assault rifle as opposed to a deer hunting rifle or a shotgun? Bolt action rifles, shotguns and revolvers all hold from 1 – 8 rounds of ammunition before requiring a reload. Now that I think about it I’m really curious to know what percentage of attacks continued after the victim fired his first shot in self-defense? Just about every time I’ve seen a news or youtube video where the victim shoots back the assailant usually winds up running away or dead. The one exception I can think of is where someone went into a police station and started shooting. That was undoubtedly an outlier since he attacked people he knew were armed. Sustained gun fights that don’t involve the police seem to be very rare. This seems to make sense because criminals are attacking people whom they believe are at a significant disadvantage.

I don’t believe for a second that a general solution to this problem is arming more people. The problem that I’m primarily focused on here is that of the intersection of mental instability and firearms. We cannot legislate away mental deficiencies. What we can do is remove the most devastatingly lethal weapons that can kill so many so quickly when these mental breakdowns occur. Pointing out the fact that people will still go on crazy rampages is not a valid argument against removing the deadliest of weapons. Would you rather deal with a rampaging maniac armed with an AR-15 and four 30 round magazines, or one that has a knife?

The semi-automatic firearm with large capacity magazines is not required for self-defense. They are OVERKILL and put us all at risk when they fall into the wrong hands.

The Death Wish – Continued

The Death Wish – Continued

Realistically there is no way for us to make all of the guns go away. Even if I could snap my fingers and make it so, that would be frowned upon pretty heavily by those of us that actually need firearms for things like hunting. So many people seem to give up and say that the problem is too tough, it is unsolvable. We can’t get rid of the supposedly 300 million guns here in America. That sure sounds like a defeatist attitude to me. The problem is hard so I’m gonna stick my head in the sand and pretend that nothing is wrong? This is a fight to protect ourselves, our families our children, our society.

We cannot make this problem go away overnight. But we can start making changes today in order to make America safer for tomorrow. We just need to put a little brain power into it, maybe be a bit less paranoid, less selfish and begin taking the small steps forward toward making our country a safer place to be. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda killed around 3000 of us 11 years ago. We murdered something like 3 times as many of ourselves that same year. Here are a few of my ideas on what can be done to reduce the number of firearms and their little death wish projectiles.

  1. When you think about it guns don’t kill people, bullets do. I don’t know how many people were pistol whipped to death last year but I’m guessing that the number was pretty small. I propose making bullets very difficult to come by. Outlawing all bullets probably would violate the 2nd Amendment. So can we tax them, or tax the components required to make a bullet? How about putting a $100 tax on the brass casing required for every bullet? 10 bullets would cost over $1000. In order to make this reasonable for hunters we could maybe limit these taxes to the types of bullets used in semi-auto type rifles and handguns.
  2. Declare it illegal to have bullets of any type on school property. While we’re at it make it so that they are illegal in places where people gather, movie theaters (Aurora), hospitals (Alabama), shopping malls (Oregon), Universities (Virgina) etc. In order to enforce this we should be able to require by law that bullets are made with an easy to detect substance (maybe some kind of uncommon low grade radioactive material). Allowing us to install bullet detectors in our protected spaces. Alarms would go off when people crossed the boundary with the contrabanded munitions. Schools could immediately go on lockdown and the police could be notified to roll out immediately. There would be mandatory jail time for violating these laws.
  3. The constitution says we have a right to bear arms. Changing the constitution is really really hard to do. Many of those who are pro gun are also of the same ilk that go on about being literal constitutionalists. Ok fine, lets get literal here. The second amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. It doesn’t say anything about how many arms one needs to bear and it doesn’t say what type of arms shall not be infringed. Why can’t we limit the number of guns a person can own to 1. Somehow it is constitutional to declare fully automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades as being illegal. Why can’t the same ban be put in place for assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns? While I’m being literal why don’t we make it so that the only legal guns, are the ones that were legal at the time that the constitution was written. Flintlocks and black powder only! Revolutionary Americans fought off the British with flintlocks. Lewis & Clark walked all the way to the Pacific Ocean and back with flintlocks and they had to go through territory much more dangerous than we deal with in todays world.

If there are fewer guns there are going to be fewer murders. The measures I’ve outlined above don’t make any attempt at taking guns that people already own. Passing legislation requiring people to relinquish the guns that they already have would be very difficult and enforcing it would probably result in even more violence. I haven’t come up with a reasonable way of removing guns that already exist. Maybe the best we can hope for is a campaign shaming/guilting people into giving up their guns. Regardless, reducing the growth rate of these death wish enablers would be a positive in my opinion.

How about some sort of public service campaign similar to what we’ve seen with anti-smoking, anti-drug, anti-drunk driving ads over the past several decades. If we can raise the collective consciousness and make everyone aware of the dangers that so many firearms present, people would eventually get the picture. The anti-smoking campaigns were very successful. Smoking was so much more common when I was a kid than it is now.

Yesterday I had to have a discussion with my kids about what to do should they ever find themselves in a situation like we saw at Sandy Hook Elementary. It is absurd that I felt it necessary to tell my kids, “that no matter what, you can’t just lay on the floor and let some man shoot you to death. If there is a shooter in the room and there is nowhere to run, that you must fight”! Yesterday I showed my 13 year old and my 15 year old how to mortally wound someone with a pencil. I explained that they must remain un-panicked and aware of their surroundings. I taught them how to form a barricade at a classroom door with all tables and desks in the room. As I was explaining these things I was thinking in the back of my head, what has this world come to?

My thoughts on school safety.

  1. All classroom doors should open inwards toward the classroom. This would allow for more effective barricades.
  2. All classroom doors should have deadbolt locks on them, operated by keys. There should be only one master key held with in a safe. It should be required by law that the teacher and assistant in each room carries the key to the inner deadbolt on their person throughout the day. The outer deadbolt should only be opened by the key in the safe. A shooter wouldn’t be able to take the key from one teacher and use it to open a door to any other locked classroom since the teachers keys would only operate the deadbolt from the inside.
  3. All windows in classrooms would need the safety wire and have blinds or curtains on the inside.
  4. Teachers should be trained in how to hide, barricade and protect their students.

It’s late and time for bed again. I will finish up with my conclusion tomorrow.

Changing Up -> The Death Wish

I haven’t done anything with this blog I setup for a few years now. This is a pretty big change going from a photography blog to posts discussing political issues. Last night I wrote a pretty long essay on Facebook and I guess people without Facebook access can’t easily get to it. So I’ll be posting the essay and its follow-ups here also. Here are my thoughts on guns and modern society:

The Death Wish

There is so much wrong with the state of American society today. Fiscal turmoil is threatening us all. The broken political system is paralyzed and barely able to act on any issue of significant importance. Beating the other team is so much more important than coming up with a way for us all to succeed together. And now the gun problem is brought front and center. Made impossible t

o ignore (for the moment at least) by the age of most of its helpless and innocent victims. We cannot allow this to continue to happen. Ever since Klebold and Harris attacked their school there has been a somewhat constant underpinning fear and knowledge that this type of tragedy would happen again.

The problem is guns.

Yes I know most of America probably doesn’t agree with me here. But there it is, the plain truth laid bare. So many people don’t want to put in the effort to think this through, however it’s almost 3:30 AM, I can’t sleep, so I’m gonna do my thinking out loud here.

Ok, the problem isn’t guns by themselves. I think we can all agree that a gun doesn’t move, aim or go off by itself. People kill people, yes there is a true statement. But when people commit murder most of the time they do so with a gun. I’m going to break this up into 3 primary kinds of homicide. There are crimes of passion, truly premeditated murder (for some type of gain whether money, anger or revenge) and suicide. But then there is this other weird classification that we’re all reeling from now. That of a deranged person, going out of their mind and deciding to kill everyone around them for some often inexplicable reason. I would put the likes of McVeigh into the premeditated murder column, but the Kleibolds, Harris’, Chos and now Lanzas belong in the latter. How do we stop someone that has a time bomb ticking in their heads? The simple fact of the matter is that we can’t. If you really want to take the life of another, you can find a way. The question I’m asking is why can’t we make finding that way much much harder?

The prevalence of guns in America makes the ability to carry out homicidal thoughts much too easy. Some of you are no doubt saying, well the killers could have used a knife or a club. Yes they could have, but the fact remains that they didn’t. Why? Because knives, clubs, poisons, fists, swords etc are much harder to use. They require physical strength, martial know how, and extremely close proximity. When was the last time you heard of someone hacking 28 people to death with any of those weapons?

The problem with easy access to guns is that killing someone with a gun is only just a few small steps away from having the ability to simply wish someone dead. Just think about this hypothetical for a moment. What if some researcher discovered a way to make it possible to kill other people simply by thinking that you wished them dead? Would it make sense to have that technology freely available to everyone? Think hard before you answer. I would expect by a large margin most people would think the advent of such a technology unwise. Our brains move fast and think unreasonable thoughts sometimes. I have to admit that there have been a couple of times in my life where I wished someone else dead. I consider myself to a be a pretty well regulated individual and could never envision actually killing someone simply because I was angry. If such a technology existed it would wreak havoc on humanity because of the fact that our emotions run strong and wild.

Guns are closer to this phenomenon than you realize. They make the act of homicide too easy. You can be angry, or suffer from some real or imagined threat and escalate the situation beyond reason and then if you have a gun nearby its just a matter of raising the weapon and squeezing the trigger. Especially when the person you wish dead is completely unarmed and unable to escape. Guns allow sick, damaged, angry and evil people to kill too easily. Modern technology has taken this to such an extreme it is mind boggling. It is said that Lanza fired over 100 bullets. Assuming 30 round magazines that is 3 reloads. Any idea how long it takes to squeeze off 100 rounds in an AR-15 type weapon? Including the magazine changes a determined shooter could do so in around a minute. 100 outgoing death wishes, in about a minute.

Are guns really making things safer? Ask yourself, how many times have you heard a story in the past year where someone actually used a gun to defend themselves? Now compare that to the number of murders you’ve heard about. There are something like 9000 homicides by firearm per year in America. The most common case I can think of where guns are successfully used in self defense are when small shops/stores are robbed and the owner fights back. These guys are out there alone and exposed with dollar sign targets on their backs. It probably makes sense for them to be armed. How many of those success stories did you hear of?

Technology is great, it makes so many things in our lives so much easier. Guns make the taking of someone else’s life (or even your own) far too much easier also. More guns aren’t the solution. More prepacked, preloaded little brass colored death wishes waiting for the next Zimmerman or other stand your ground nut job to instigate an altercation won’t make things better.

The human psyche is complex, sometimes irrational and occasionally flawed. It can’t always be trusted with the power of the death wish.

It’s after 4 AM now and I’m supposed to wake up in less than 2 hours, ugh. I’ll continue with ideas on how to address these problems later today.