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Monday
May132013

Guns don't kill people, gun owners do

Let us concede that gun rights advocates have won the argument: guns don’t kill people, people do.

However, there is a certain class of people that merit a greater share of the blame for the mass casualty events our communities have endured. For lack of a more accurate term let’s call them, “gun owners”. As well, we must acknowledge that gun owners are largely responsible (by commission and omission) for the constant blood letting since Sandy Hook (as of 8 May 2013 3,947 have perished since the 14 Dec. 2012 Newtown, Conn. massacre). Daily Kos writer, David Waldman has been tracking accidental firearm casualties since Sandy Hook—a log that reads like an almanac of nightmarish negligence.

In spite of the evidence conveying the hazard of firearms ownership, it’s still useless to debate gun control. At best, it has resulted in a stalemate over background checks. Even gun control proponents admit this measure of accountability would not have stopped someone like Adam Lanza from carrying out the slaughter at Sandy Hook. A background check would not have prevented five-year-old Kristian Sparks from the unintentional slaying of his two-year-old sister, Caroline. Again, guns don’t kill people; but it so happens that the relatives of gun owners do.

Since we are fully convinced of the human culpability when a firearm tragedy strikes, it stands to reason that this is where the effort to curb gun violence should focus. Rather than trying to contain or limit weaponry, our attention should fix upon the gun owning community. Did you know that seventy nine per cent of the massacres that have taken place in the U.S. over the last 33 years were committed by someone who had legal access to the firearm used in the crime? So, why not increase gun owner accountability going forward—especially to other gun owners?

As for the constitutionality of this proposal, here is where gun owner accountability intersects with the Second Amendment—specifically, the often ignored “well-regulated militia” phrase. As has been the case in a number of mass shooting tragedies, the perpetrator profiles as a socially isolated, or outcast, male. Putting the “well-regulated militia” phrase to work would mean requiring all registered gun owners to meet with each other periodically (quarterly, semi-annually—it would be left to legislators to hammer out) to discuss gun safety, maintenance and the function of the gun-owning community within this nation.

The conversation could go in any number of directions. The crucial point of this process would be to help gun owners acknowledge their right to bear arms is not an open-ended freedom. Its parameters involve not just individual liberty, but also a concern for public safety, protecting children, and the effort to keep one another accountable about their firearms-related goals. (Everyone should have goals, no?)

Given a proposal such as this, one could imagine squeals of protest coming from every quarter of the firearms community—consumers, retailers, manufacturers and lobbyists. What is the alternative to shifting the debate? Wait for another massacre and then watch the predictable demand for a limit on weapons, or even a call for confiscations?

Gun owners could do worse than to step up to hold one another accountable. At any given day there’s a James Holmes or Jared Loughner waiting to snap, a stranded soul who could use a reality check of sorts—an intervention should it be needed. If the gun owning community believed in the preservation of the Second Amendment, shouldn’t it do its part to protect this freedom from abuse?

The other consequence of mandating a periodical gun owner meet would be to help them grasp that their right to bear arms can be just as vigorously defended by cooperating with other voters in a political action rather than by clutching a rifle. There is no question how much the fear of tyranny prevails among many gun enthusiasts. Who can be sure, however, if they have exhausted the opportunities that political activism offers? At the very least it requires a willingness to build trust with other citizens that can lead to a governing consensus. How else should a republic like ours survive without its citizens continually at work, developing the contours of consent?

Sunday
Apr212013

Apathy is a warm gun

If it was true about Congress's failure to avoid sequester budget cuts, it's especially true about the U.S. Senate's epic miss on the background check amendment to the gun control bill last week.

Again, voters got the septic end of the stick. And who got to hold the clean end? That small, select group of campaign finance contributors--whose 'generosity' wields far greater force than 86% of Americans who support background checks.

What's more stunning than that injustice? Voters (you and I and everyone else we know) have no one to blame but themselves.

How could that be?

By and large, voters are not working together to draft candidates to run for public office. So, when a candidate for particular office emerges, he or she needs to reach the broadest audience of voters to win an election. That calls for mass communications--which requires immense financing. This is where the small, elite campaign finance community has emerged. Someone has to pay for those television and radio ads.

Most people have yet to acknowledge that between voters and wealthy campaign contributors lies a crucial fault line. The Senate's botching the background check amendment illustrates this influence gap. Very few elected officials are willing to talk about this--it would risk burning their own meal ticket.

Voters have surrendered their perogative as the majority interest in this nation; one that should be setting the terms over how much money a candidate can accept as a campaign contribution--that the amount should not wield a corrupting influence.

It goes without saying that very few voters would willingly elect a pederast or convicted felon to public office. The scruple is clearly defined. And though there is a general consensus about how much the current campaign finance system corrupts public policy, acknowledging this agreement is not enough.

It takes but a small, meaningful commitment by a pluralilty of voters to convey to all candidates for public office, challengers and incumbents alike: you're not a candidate worth our consideration if you accept any amount greater than $250 per campaign contribution.

If, ever, that day arrives, you'll observe a people taking responsibility for the republic and its destiny by which they live.

Friday
Feb012013

Nevermind what the NRA has to say about public safety or gun violence

Any sane person would have difficulty taking seriously what the National Rifle Association has to say about public safety and gun owner responsibility. Two months after the massacre of six school teachers and 20 children in Newtown, Conn., all the firearms trade group can offer are 'solutions' that ultimately fatten the bottom line for the companies they represent.

Consider the windfall of increased sales the industry enjoys each time one of our communities suffers yet another slaughter of innocent citizens. The spike in sales owes to the paranoia (no doubt flamed by right-wing talk radio) of ignorant people convinced that the government is just days away from outlawing guns.

Fat chance, as the NRA has bought off almost half the members of Congress. Also, its massive spending on issue ads and millions in independent expenditures for or against specific candidates, makes opposing the gun lobby a Sisyphean task. The scope and depth of NRA's influence over elections is unquestioned--a force that it wields in Congress in the name of 'individual freedom'. The freedom as an individual to avoid being shot, be damned.

The time is long past that we begin to acknowledge the vicious cycle of violence that benefits the NRA's business model. More guns in the hands of more people increases the frequency of bloodshed, whether or not the shooters possessed the firearms legally. A comparative look at gun fatalities between the U.S. and other industrialized nations, illustrates the peril of easy access to firearms.

It's a sweet spot the firearms industry occupies: given relaxed gun laws in a nation saturated with its product, such conditions improve the chances that someone mentally unfit (Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; Oakpark, Wisc.; Tucson, Ariz.; Virginia Tech) will get his hands on a rifle or pistol. A meaningful segment of the population already worked up by talk radio, will do the NRA's bidding and move gun manufactuers further into the black--after victims of firearms violence have hemorrhaged red.

Perhaps it will take additional Sandyhook massacres before national consensus begins to recognize a callous, blood-shedding industry in operation. How many more lives must be snatched before voters see blood money in the hands of candidates for public office taking campaign dollars from the NRA?

Wednesday
Nov282012

The eyes reveal far more

 ... than flesh could ever bare. 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Nov132012

Sore losers strike back?

Special Snowflake Soledad O'Brien, Wasserman Schultz beg for viewers; Twitter users would rather have root canal

Citizens From 18 States Ask Obama to Secede From the Union
(They're asking politely--why can't we oblidge them?)

Democrat-Boycotting Libertarian Eric Dondero on Whether He Would Let a Democrat Drown

To call those who are rubbed raw about President Obama's reelection victory, maladjusted is a polite characterization of their behavior.

Somehow they pretend that the Republicans hadn't tried to outright disenfranchise voters and buy the election to win.

They've been spared a dishonest victory. Who takes sincere pleasure in winning by cheating? Doesn't winning at any cost illustrate the saddest, most pathetic instincts there are in human behavior?