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Tag Archives: Gun Control

I’m a pretty well-informed person.  I read news stories, blogs, op-eds, and get friends’ thoughts on the issues in America (and the world) in 2013 and beyond.  So I’m pretty well able to form my own opinions and articulate them relatively clearly.

What I don’t know is what the hell to do about them that will actually make a difference.

You know the problems as well as I do.  Here’s a partial list:

  • We have 25 people –including 20 young school children — killed by gun violence while in school and we still can’t do anything about it, because the NRA owns Congress.  So now the NRA, feeling its oats, is proposing placing armed guards in schools, and arming teachers.  The city council in Nelson, Georgia — and I swear I’m not making this up — voted 5-0 to make gun ownership mandatory.  Unless the members of the family opt out.  The level of idiocy in this is simply breathtaking.  How does any of this remotely make sense?
  • The manufactured deficit crisis, leading to the sequester:  This is directly related to the fact that most of our leaders (and I blame both Democrats and Republicans on this, but the Republicans are much, much worse on this) take really good care of the rich in this country.  After all, that’s where the campaign cash comes from, and those are the people who can afford the lobbyists.  Meanwhile, the little guy keeps getting the shaft.  The Republicans claim victory on the sequester, too, which is absolutely crazy.  At the same time they’re saying that the cuts are bad, bad, bad.  No wonder they’re so out of touch.  The latest news on this: Cancer clinics are turning away Medicare patients because of the sequester.  Can someone explain to me how this is good policy, or how it’s even humane?  Because I don’t see how it could be.  I can’t see how it’s moral or right, either, but that’s another story.
  • Women’s health and the right to choose: States continue to pare back a woman’s right to control her body.  I wrote a post on this last August.  I don’t want to re-litigate it here.
  • Republicans in North Carolina wants to declare a state religion.  Obviously, this is unconstitutional, but that people would actually try this in 2013 just boggles my mind.
  • The Obama Administration is considering a trade agreement with the European Union that would give corporations just what they need — more power (yes, I’m being sarcastic).  This is another one of those policy ideas that I just can’t understand.  Corporations have too much power in this world; they certainly don’t need more.
  • The heartbreaking struggle (If you haven’t seen the film that I’m linking to here, you should; it’s a documentary that aired on HBO … I was in tears watching it) that so many people are going through in  this country with long-term unemployment (while corporations sit on an unprecedented amount of cash, don’t hire enough people, and only manage to the bottom line).  The only mobility in this country is downward, unless you’re incredibly rich.  The middle class is being decimated.  It’s pretty plain that a strong middle class, and the poor actually being able to improve their situation, is vital to a strong economy.  All the growth is being concentrated with the rich.  None of it is “trickling down.”  Did we learn nothing from the last 30 years?  Did we learn nothing from the last Gilded Age?
  • The gerrymandered to death congressional districts that pretty well rigged elections for the next decade.
  • The voting rights act that is under review in the Supreme Court that could turn back the gains made there over the past 45 or 50 years.
  • Taxpayer-subsidized banks and oil companies.

I’ve left out all kinds of things in this list, I know — everything from gay rights, to protection for women against being raped and mandating that rape kits are actually processed, to equal pay for equal work, to the crumbling infrastructure, to the crippling student debt that so many are buried under … the list could go on and on.  America is in sorry shape.  (And I want to blast Republicans in general for their general wing-nuttery, but that’s another post.)

So my question is this:  What the hell do we do about it?  What would actually make a difference?  Because I really don’t know.

We saw the Occupy movement fall apart and fade away after some serious police brutality and the weather changing.  Newspapers are failing and being consolidated.  (I can’t find a citation right now, but I read that there’s something like four or five corporations that control nearly all of the media in this country.)

I’m really concerned about my son’s future.  How is he going to get ahead in this country when it’s on this path?

So can someone tell me something to do that will actually make a difference?

Update 4/12/13 — I had dinner with a friend last night.  She said that to change it, you have to run for office.  I pretty much dismissed that out of hand; I don’t really have much interest in running for office.  I don’t want to join to politician class and become part of the problem.  Smarter people than I am have tried and got sucked in.  I’m watching people like Elizabeth Warren pretty closely.  I hope she and others like her can make a difference.

How many more times is this going to happen?  How many more times are we going to allow this to happen?  How many more times are we going to pick up a newspaper or turn on a television and see images like we saw today?  Or in Denver?  Or in Portland last weekend?  Or Columbine?  Or Tuscon?  Or any of the other examples of our too violent society with much too easy access to guns?

We lost 20 kids and 7 adults today in Connecticut.  Their lives ended before they even began.  It’s absolutely heartbreaking.  A man wearing body armor and armed to the teeth with an assault rifle and semi-automatic pistols walked into an elementary school and shot 26 people (he killed his mother as well as himself).  Not only did he kill all those people, he traumatized so many more, like in the picture on the right.  It is a terrible tragedy on so many levels.

So I’ll come back to my original question.  How many more times is this going to happen?  How many more times is this going to happen before either we enact some sensible gun control in this country?  Or take Chris Rock’s idea of making each bullet cost $5,000.  Either one is fine with me.

President Obama tentatively stuck his toe in the water today as he reacted to this tragedy.  He is being much too timid.  We need immediate, comprehensive action to control guns.

Our leaders in Washington and in the state houses have an obligation to protect the people from this kind of harm.  Kids shouldn’t go to school and not come home because some idiot walks onto the campus and starts shooting.  What the hell is wrong with this country, that this can keep happening?  That’s a rhetorical question.  Everyone is afraid of the NRA.

Well, it’s time to get over that.  We have the power to do something about this.    It is way, way past time to stand up to the gun lobby in America.  The Second Amendment was not meant to give people the means to kill other people like this.  We’re not living in the frontier time, when guns were genuinely needed for protection.  This is a modern, supposedly civilized society.  There is no way ordinary citizens should be able to access an arsenal like so many have lately.

I’ve only scratched the surface of gun control here.  I haven’t talked about the mental health component, and the fact that Reagan gutted the mental health system in this country when he was president.  Or how offended I am that Mike Huckabee blames the removal of the lord from the schools for the massacres.  Please spare us.

America needs to grow up and join the civilized world.  It’s time to disarm our citizens.

The Susan G. Komen foundation has been under fire the past few days.  That pressure is well deserved; it’s coming after Komen — an organization that professes to care about women’s health — pulled its funding for Planned Parenthood.  (Komen has since reversed that decision because of a furious outcry online.  Maybe.)

Komen said over and over that their decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood was not about politics.  That simply can’t be true.  It was a pathetic attempt to pander to right-wing, anti-abortion groups who have had knives out for Planned Parenthood for years.  More evidence that the decision was about abortion: Mother Jones is reporting on another of Komen’s grants that appears to violate its new policy.

The Planned Parenthood decision has put Komen under a good deal of scrutiny.  The more we find out about them, the more questions arise about their activities.  A look at their financials (2010 is available on their website in a PDF) is educational.

  • For their fiscal year 2009-10, Komen brought in $310 million in revenue, goods, and services.  They had an additional $80 million in other income (interest, investment income, restricted funds becoming unrestricted.  That’s about $390 million in revenue.  Not bad.
  • They spent about $360 million.  This is how that breaks down: Research – $75 million (about 21%).  Public Awareness (advertising and other public outreach, in other words) – $141 million (39%).  Health Screenings $41 million (11%).  Treatment – $20 million (0.5%).  Fundraising – $36 million (10%).  Administrative costs – $41 million (11%).
  • Let me spell this out (this was pointed out by Chris Broom on Facebook, who adapted it from a post on DailyKos).  They spent $77 million in overhead costs.  Compare that to the $76 million they spent on research, which probably has its own grant overhead costs.

So their priorities don’t really seem to be curing breast cancer, just by looking at the numbers.  The DailyKos post says that this makes sense because there really isn’t any economic benefit to curing breast cancer.  But there certainly is great economic benefit in treating breast cancer and working to find a cure.  There’s a human benefit to both.

Pink Walther P22

File photo of the Walther P-22 Hope Edition 3.4″ to be sold for breast cancer awareness. (Credit: Discount Gun Sales, LLC)

Then there are some other activities that are questionable.  They created a partnership with a Seattle gun distributor to sell pink handguns.  Apparently this fits in with the pink spatulas and pink ribbons for awareness that Komen is so well known for.  What’s the next deadly promotional item to be made pink?

Can someone explain to me exactly how selling handguns contributes to women’s health?  It seems to me that it does exactly the opposite.  Guns kill people, you see.  Is the new Komen motto “Save a life by taking a life”?  It seems apt, although it’s intellectually dishonest when taken in light with the Planned Parenthood decision (about abortion no matter what Komen says).  It’s a common disease in the Republican Party these days.  But that’s another post.

I’m not going to soft-pedal how I feel about the handgun thing.  It’s disgusting.  It’s another sop to the right wing, just the same way the Planned Parenthood decision was.  It’s wrong.

I think the Komen foundation needs to remember what its true mission is.  It’s supposed to be about women’s health and finding a cure for breast cancer, which is a worthy cause.  That’s what all those people giving all that money expect.  Somehow, it seems to me, Komen has lost its way.  Until it finds its way back, I won’t be supporting them (I was thinking about walking in 2013).  Any donation dollars I was going to give them will be going to Planned Parenthood (and maybe anti-gun causes too) instead.