Coming Back from Self-Imposed Exile and…Things Are Still the Same

OrlandoClub

Yes, it’s been quite some time since I stepped to the writer’s dais here on my site. Let’s call it a self-imposed exile, one that was required due to the factor that my personal well of outrage over certain circumstances in our nation had reached its dry point. There are times that, when you’ve railed about things long enough, that you have to stop and recharge – I personally used that recharge time to reexamine some issues, some thoughts, and perhaps find some new insight that had previously eluded my vision.

Then Sunday happened…

In Orlando on Sunday morning, a man stepped into a nightclub (everyone wants to say “gay nightclub,” like it matters) armed to the teeth with an AR-15, and handgun and some other weaponry that hasn’t been disclosed. He also must have had a shitload of ammunition because, by the time the Orlando police forced their way into the club at around 5AM, there were 49 people dead, 53 more injured and untold numbers that may have been injured but were able to escape the club before it became a hostage situation and find medical attention. The shooting at Pride nightclub in Orlando took over the dark banner of the biggest mass killing in United States history.

While it should have been the utter idiocy of someone taking the lives of 50 people and injuring a similar number, what was mind-numbing was the speed of politicization of the shooting. The GOP and the National Rifle Association supporters must have hot-keyed their responses to the “next” mass shooting, because they were at the ready with the well-worn dismissals of any such occurrence: “it wasn’t the gun’s fault,” “it was (insert your barely hidden religious or racial screed here),” or, because of the fucking Orangutan Mutant that continue to fire shit out of his mouth, “the Muslims have to go!” While they did this, they didn’t have something that a normal person, being of a halfway evidentiary mindset, had:  the ability to let evidence come in to make a more informed decision.

From all apparent evidence, the shooter was a U. S. citizen, born and raised, who self-radicalized himself. According to his ex-wife and co-workers, he had anger issues that bordered on bipolar disorder. He had been investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for some statements he had made to co-workers regarding other people, but the FBI found no crimes to be able to charge the shooter. Finally, his own father said that he had always been anti-gay, particularly outraged two weeks earlier because he saw two men kissing in public.

That last one is particularly important. Evidence has shown that the shooter bought the weapons he used, including an AR-15, within the last two weeks, AFTER the incident that his father reports the shooter was upset over. It is also of interest that the shooter had a profile on a gay dating site and had visited Pulse nightclub; because he was gunned down in the club, it will never be known if the shooter was ashamed of his sexual proclivities or was simply using all tools at his disposal to research his hideous crime.

But let’s get back to the politicization…

None other than the Orangutan Mutant, Drumpf himself, crowed about how “he was right.” He actually accepted CONGRATULATIONS following the attack, letting a couple hours lapse before he even put out his condolences to the families. Then the asshole went a step further, saying that only he could protect the LGBT community, despite the decades that the GOP has spent trying to deny every right to these people across the board.

Furthermore, the GOP as a whole stood up more for the NRA rather than the LGBT community that was mowed down Sunday morning. The Republicans couldn’t even bring themselves to say the acronym “LGBT,” instead just offering that maddeningly pandering “thoughts and prayers” instead of actually doing something about the issue.

Now, in the last 48 hours or so of the discussion, the usual battle lines are drawn. The GOP and conservatives state that there’s “nothing that can be done” to stop such attacks. The Democrats and liberals are once again saying that there should be more controls on weapons (and, let’s add for emphasis here, NOT LOOKING TO ABOLISH THE SECOND AMENDMENT). The extremists on the right want to follow Mr. Oompah Loompah with his ban on “any immigration from a country with terrorist activities” (news flash, asshole:  that’s virtually every other country in the world…you’re going to stop ALL immigration or just the brown people?), while the extremists on the left ARE looking for that ban on all guns.

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As usual with this situation, the answer lies in the middle.

I’m all for the Second Amendment and responsible ownership of weapons. This would entail a license for every weapon owned, no sale of weapon without a properly transferred license, medical and psychological evaluation of gun owner BEFORE obtaining said weapon, a nationwide system of checks against those who shouldn’t have weapons, having insurance on weapon should they be used in an inappropriate way…I can go on, if you like. There is a litany of regulations that could be instituted to ensure responsible gun ownership.

We do more to ensure someone can operate a 3500-pound weapon on the roads of the U. S. than we do a device that can spit hundreds of rounds per minute indiscriminately. If you reach a certain age, you have to either surrender your driver’s license or PROVE EVERY YEAR that you’re not a hazard on the roadways. If you get too many drunk driving convictions, your license can be revoked. If you have certain health issues like seizures, you’re driving privileges can be taken. You also have to have insurance on every vehicle owned, otherwise in many states you can’t even get plates for the vehicle. With guns? Little to none of this is true.

Yes, more laws are sometimes necessary. Did we have laws mandating wearing seat belts? No, but we passed them and auto deaths were reduced. Did we have laws on pasteurizing milk? No, but we passed them and made it to where contaminated milk didn’t kill you. Just saying “you can’t do it” isn’t good enough. You have to be willing to look at situations and say “You know, this isn’t right.” And if you disagree with this, I do believe that you don’t value life (or you find the children of Sandy Hook, the clubgoers of Orlando and the theatergoers in Aurora to be an “acceptable loss”), otherwise you might actually say that some controls are necessary.

AR15

Furthermore, we are not talking the abolishment of the Second Amendment.We are talking taking a military-style weapon off the table in the AR-15. The AR-15, the weapon of choice in several mass killings, is the civilian equivalent of the military’s M-16. Its sole purpose is to fire as many rounds as possible and kill as many people as possible. With some modifications – some legal, many illegal – the weapon can fire hundreds of rounds per minute. There’s absolutely no “hunting” or “sport” involved with this weapon.

We’re not talking about handguns, shotguns, ammunition, none of that. ONE WEAPON whose sole existence is to kill, rapidly and as many targets as possible. That’s a pretty easy elimination. If we enact some common sense legislation, will it stop ALL shooting crimes? No, there’s always going to be gun-related homicides and suicides. But if we can cut the numbers down, it’s a start. And sometimes that is necessary in a civilized society.

Is The “American” Too Stupid To Handle The Responsibility of Guns?

HeyCongress

The United States, in its creation and its development, is one of the most brilliant experiments that has occurred in human history. Instead of a homogenous society such as many Asian nations or one of tribal dominance such as those that are found in Africa, the United States of America was a true attempt at something that many would feel is impossible:  incorporating different people, different ideologies and different cultures into a “melting pot” where the end goal is an amalgam of the world’s best into a new creature…an “American” (I must say at this point I’ve never liked the term “American” – when that term is used, I immediately wonder “North, South or Central?” How about “citizen of the United States?”). While the list of success stories from the 200-plus years of the existence of the United States of America – and another 150 years or so of settlement into this earthen laboratory – are some of the greatest in mankind’s history, there are some areas where the nation has fallen short.

One of those areas has become painfully evident as details have come out over the past few days. Last Thursday a white male walked into a community college in Oregon and, with no provocation or apparent motive, gunned down nine classmates and instructors and wounded another seven people. In the more than 72 hours since the last echo of gunshots filtered across the Oregon landscape, we’ve dredged up the old tapes of the previous arguments over past mass shooting situations rather than advancing any significant solutions for changing the climate.

The “Usual Suspects” have divided along their prescribed lines, with one side stating that further laws on guns are a necessity to prevent this from happening again. The other side states that it is their “God given right” to have weapons, as many as they want, and any move to take them away is roughly akin to an attack against the very fabric of life itself. The potential reality, however, is that this new creature we’ve created – the “American” – is too fucking stupid to handle the responsibility of guns.

In looking at it from the “law of the land” – the U. S. Constitution – there would appear to be nothing that could be done, but that would be inaccurate. 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.” – was put into the Bill of Rights for the essential purpose of having each state providing its own Army – its “Militia” – for the defense of the individual State and for the purpose of providing a standing Army for the federal government. The people who would make up that “Militia” would be the citizens of the state, who would need weaponry to be able to fight in battle (not to mention that they already had these weapons for providing food for their families).

Fast forward to the 21st century and the theory of the state-run “Militia” has run its course. The federal government has the responsibility for the national defense, accepting volunteers from its citizenry, thus the theory that a person may have to join a “Militia” to defend their state or country is an antiquated one (no more so than blacks and women don’t have the right to vote, for example…that was also in the Constitution at one time). Since hunting has now also become a leisure activity for virtually everybody rather than a survival one, sane people would naturally examine the point of weapons in today’s society.

Secondly, let’s look at the situation from the evolution of weapons. In the 18th century, the weapon of choice for many in the Colonies was a musket, which took anywhere from two to five minutes to load up with a single shot. The weapon’s effective range was about 50 meters (roughly 164 feet), meaning you had to virtually be right beside your target before you squeezed the trigger (in those days, ammunition was expensive and not to be wasted). It was also fairly easy to see when you had your musket with you; at 60 inches (five feet), there wasn’t anywhere on your body to conceal the weapon.

Once again, let’s rocket through history to today. Weapons such as the AR-15 – which was the predecessor to the military usage M-16 – have become popular for ownership by civilians for their ease of use as well as their power. That weapon can be converted to be able to fire fully automatic, meaning it can spew rounds out at the rate of hundreds per minute (remember the musket was a shot every two to five minutes) and has an effective target range of 500 meters or more (in the hands of a military person or someone well trained on the weapon). Even a .45 automatic handgun can pop out rounds at around one per second (60) and has an effective range of about 100 meters, if the shooter is quick with the trigger and reloading the weapon. And this isn’t even introducing a weapon such as the M-60, a weapon with the range of 1200 meters and up to 2000 meters in a trained sniper’s hands. When comparing the two situations, any logically minded person might entertain the option, at the minimum, that the Second Amendment WASN’T written with today’s sophisticated weaponry in mind.

US Stupidity

Finally, let’s take a look at the general stupidity of those that own weapons today. In September the state of Georgia, who for some unexplainable reason allow for weapons to be carried in bars, was greeted with a shootout in a bar when several people whipped out their weapons just before 3AM in the morning. Three people were found shot there and seven others, looking to avoid police, took themselves to the hospital. Only the stupidity of not being able to aim a weapon properly prevented a significant loss of life in this instance.

Typing the search phrase “child finds gun and shoots” into Google returns over five MILLION results on the subject. Looking up “person cleaning gun shoots” returns over EIGHT MILLION hits, including a North Carolina father who shot his 10-year old son to death while wiping down his shotgun in 2013. Last year a Las Vegas gun instructor handed an Uzi to a nine-year old girl on a gun range. The girl, unable to properly control the weapon, killed the instructor immediately as she struggled with its power. These and other stories continually demonstrate the stupidity of the “American” to simply maintain their weapons safely, keep them out of the hands of those who might not know what to do with them or even momentarily pause to think if something this dangerous should be done at all.

The gun fanatics can be shot down quickly. “The only counter for a bad guy…” yeah…yeah…yeah. How many times has that “good guy” taken down the baddie? On the grounds of that community college in Oregon were several people with concealed/carry permits and at least one person who was actively carrying. What did they do to stop the situation? In such a situation, the objective is to head for cover, not open up like it’s the fucking Wild West and escalate a situation beyond what it is. The Virginia Tech shooting was done on campus in the midst of plenty of University police and security…the shooter stopped his rampage when he committed suicide. I don’t see these “good guys” civilians jumping up and, even if they could, their own personal logic and training would probably prevent them from taking action and making a situation worse.

“It’s a right…”yeah…yeah…yeah. It was previously a “right” for women not to vote, that slaves were 3/5 of a person (so much for that “all created equal” stuff), that you couldn’t drink, etc. Rights are critical to keeping society free, sure. Rights aren’t set in stone, however; recognize the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights and the end of Prohibition. Besides, if Donald Trump can debate the legality of the 14th Amendment, maybe it’s time we started to take a look at all of them in our current society.

“I’m protecting against the tyrant Obama and the New World Order…” yeah…yeah…yeah. You’re part of the problem, bub, and shouldn’t be holding a weapon if you believe in a conspiracy theory like that (the “New World Order” or Illuminati is pretty lame if it has been in existence for well over 600-700 years and hasn’t TAKEN OVER ANYTHING). Put down the weapon, step away from it slowly and pick up your tinfoil hat and binky to suck to help keep you calm. (Funny how we never heard about these armed “Militias” wanting to take down President Bush, isn’t it? Perhaps that’s a question for another time…)

The stupidity of “Americans” regarding weapons will continue until there is some change to the mentality. There are fewer restrictions on guns than there are on an automobiles; while admittedly not a right, driving an auto requires an age requirement, insurance, licensing, training on the vehicle (we just don’t allow anyone to jump into a gasoline tanker truck without the proper training) and, if they don’t abide by the rules, then people are punished both financially and with their very freedom. Why can’t the same thing be done regarding our love affair with guns? If your too stupid to be able to handle them responsibly, then you don’t need to have them at all.

I won’t go through the litany of civilized nations that have come up with the answer to the questions we United States citizens face regarding the gun issue. If we continue to let the stupid rule the issue, however, we are doomed to continual tragedy. If we cannot get this system under control, then we will continue to see (to paraphrase a Jimmy Buffett song about ignoring problems around you) “a river of blood pouring out from a wound that will not heal.”