Thoughts At Large

Passionate thoughts on random topics

Month: July, 2012

Happiness is a Warm Gun

I get it.  I finally understand the NRA and the Second Amendment.  Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  No gun has ever lifted up and fired itself and the only species with an opposable thumb capable of that kind of muscle control is the human.  Damn humans.  Of course, it’s only the crazies that ever cause any problems.  In fact, since there are 100,000 people shot in America every year, that’s a lot of crazies.  There’s clearly a problem with the mental health system in this country. 

The second amendment reads: “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.”  I’m in.  Where’s the militia into which I can enroll? Oh, it’s not that formal anymore?  Cool!  Where’s my musket?  Oh, you have to provide your own?  Fine.  OK, only one problem.  I can’t find any muskets for sale.  Oh, it doesn’t have to be as musket?  Great!  Any “Arm” will do?  Wonderful!

I just bought a Defendthehomestead AR-15 manufactured by Lookatmeimapatriot, Inc.  It’s a newer model.  The old model was banned under that stupid Assault Weapons Ban, you know, the one that was part of that fornicating Clinton’s liberal agenda under H.R.3355, The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.  It stated under Section 110102:

`(30) The term `semiautomatic assault weapon’ means–

`(A) any of the firearms, or copies or duplicates of the firearms in any caliber, known as–

`(i) Norinco, Mitchell, and Poly Technologies Avtomat Kalashnikovs (all models);

`(ii) Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil;

`(iii) Beretta Ar70 (SC-70);

`(iv) Colt AR-15;

`(v) Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, and FNC;

`(vi) SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9, and M-12;

`(vii) Steyr AUG;

`(viii) INTRATEC TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and

`(ix) revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker 12;

`(B) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–

`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

`(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

`(iii) a bayonet mount;

`(iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and

`(v) a grenade launcher;

`(C) a semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–

`(i) an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip;

`(ii) a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer;

`(iii) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the nontrigger hand without being burned;

`(iv) a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded; and

`(v) a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm; and

`(D) a semiautomatic shotgun that has at least 2 of–

`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

`(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;

`(iii) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds; and

`(iv) an ability to accept a detachable magazine.’.

Thankfully, that piece of eastern, intellectual, elitist, liberal, socialism was allowed to expire in 2004.  Who knew laws had expiration dates!  Mine was not on the list because the manufacturer changed the color of my Defendthehomestead from “Black” to “Slightly Darker Black,” thus getting around the law.  I was also able to buy (actually, they were giving it away as part of a sales promotion) a large capacity magazine capable of holding 6 million rounds, a flash suppressor, pistol grip and grenade launcher.  It’s a little heavy, but I dare anyone to break into my house now!  I keep it under my bed (which is now 4 feet off the ground), loaded and with the safety off.  Safeties are for sissies.  The little kids want to play with it, but I grunt and scratch and they run back to playing God of War II and watching Scarface.  “Just hit ‘reset’, Johnny!”

I also recently bought a tank for the front yard and missile defense system for the backyard (which might explain the lack of birds at the birdfeeder. I’ll have to talk with the Audubon society about that.  Clearly there are some birds with mental problems too.)  We have a small lake behind our house and I’ve asked the home owner’s association if it would be alright for me to tie-up my battleship there.  I wanted a submarine, but the deterrent factor wasn’t the same.  I’m sure the Socialist Party (some still call it the Democratic Party) will have a problem with it, but I belong to Republican, Inc., the newly formed conglomeration of the old Republican Party, big business and lobbyists, now acting as the political wing of my beloved NRA, so they’ll have to come pry my battleship from my cold, dead, opposable thumb capable hands. 

I know everything about everything, and I’d like to discuss loosening the python-like grip of constricting gun laws in this country, but I’ve been told to believe by my NRA leadership (who must have much bigger weapons than me), that the “events” in Colorado are still too raw to allow a discussion on gun control.  That’s politics and, God knows, talking can be deadly.  God Bless the U.S. of (NR)A.

 

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Not That We're Keeping Score

Labels

Labels.  We all use them, we all love them.  It’s our way of categorizing our lives, a way of making sense of the plethora of information that floods us every day.  Unfortunately, it’s also our way of imparting our biases and prejudices on every incoming piece of information.  Every label we use carries the metadata we have assigned to it.  We used to call them stereotypes, now we use terms like racial profiling.  Liberals, right-wing, Jews, blacks, Christians, immigrants, politicians, Wall Street, big business, Congress, hero.  They all conjure up images in our minds, whether positive or negative, which have nothing to do with either the piece of information we are receiving or the individual conveying it.  We have, usually without thinking about it, sorted the information by the labels we have assigned them.  We gravitate toward the information we like and dismiss the information relegated to the negative labels we have created.

 

By flushing the information we have assigned negative labels, we simplify our lives, but dismiss the value of discussion and argument, with the availability of our growing, understanding and altering our opinion obliterated.  It also leads to two other destructive results.  First, we harden our position to the point of dogmatic excess.  We don’t allow any discussion of our position.  We don’t allow any subset of our position to be challenged, lest we question our position and allow other tenets of our position to be challenged.  Second, we allow single-minded institutions to speak for us.  In our busy lives, we allow institutions to carry our position for us.  We believe their rhetoric.  We adopt their position as ours.  We believe the notion that an attack on one of our positions within a topic will lead to the “slippery slope” of ultimate defeat.  Pick a topic: gun control, abortion, religion or politics.  Our labels and intractable positions have lead to a stalemate.  There is no longer any discussion, no debate, no discussion.  The “other” side has been labeled “evil” and the conversation is over.  Unfortunately, this stalemate leads to paralysis.  Congress enjoys a 14% approval rating.  A Republican controlled Congress makes a Democratic President impudent.  Likewise, Republican Presidents have been made ineffective by Democratically controlled Congresses.  The game plan seems to be that a President is only in office for four years, so, we in Congress, can just wait him out.  Paralysis.

 

We, as individuals, need to be able to move the bar on our labels.  We need to see them and acknowledge that they exist.  We need to allow for the notion that not all of our positions are infallible.  It is the idiot who claims to know it all.  We need to stop allowing single-minded institutions to speak for us.  We need to encourage discussion and engage in debate.  In our case, the United States is in a state of self-inflicted paralysis.  We are better than that.  Our children deserve better and they are learning from us, while the world watches.

Guns don’t kill people?

Did you know there are 283,000,000 guns in people’s hands in the United States?  With a population of 313,847,465, that works out to 90% of the public having guns.  Of course, that’s not correct because, hopefully, those 0-14 years of age (20.1% of the population) wouldn’t have them.  The United States has the highest concentration of guns in the world, by a large margin.  Using the 90% calculation above, the next highest concentration is found in Serbia with 58%.  Iraq only has 34%, Pakistan 12%, Russia 9%, the U.K. 6% and China 5%.  

Actually, it is estimated that one quarter of U.S. adults own a gun.  It’s highly concentrated with 20% of gun owners owning 65% of the guns.  And ownership is geographical, with the highest concentration in Wyoming (59.7% of the public) and the lowest concentration in Hawaii (8.7%).  Here in Texas, 35.9% own a gun, Rhode Island is at 12.8%.  Every time a gun injures or kills someone in self-defense, it is used 11 times in an attempted or successful suicide, 7 times in criminal assaults and homicides, and 4 times in unintentional shooting deaths or injuries.  Every year 97,820 people are shot in the United States (31,593 die, including 2,966 children).  That’s 268 per day.  It’s 6:30 AM as I write this.  That means that 73 people have already been shot today.  But that’s an average and today is a “special” day.

34.7% of Coloradans own a gun.  One was used to murder 14 people and wound 50 others at a Batman screening last night, one was a six year old girl.  The murderer brought four guns with him.  I’m guessing the little girl didn’t have one.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog.  I hope you enjoy the posts.  You need not agree with them, but I at least hope you think about them.

Awful Events Today

Jessica Redfield was one of the victims killed in the shooting today in Aurora, Colorado.  Below is a blog entry she posted on June 5th.  Awful events today.

Late Night Thoughts on the Eaton Center Shooting

I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.

 

What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life. I was on a mission to eat sushi that day, and when I’m on a mission, nothing will deter me. When I arrived at the Eaton Center mall, I walked down to the food court and spotted a sushi restaurant. Instead of walking in, sitting down and enjoying sushi, I changed my mind, which is very unlike me, and decided that a greasy burger and poutine would do the trick. I rushed through my dinner. I found out after seeing a map of the scene, that minutes later a man was standing in the same spot I just ate at and opened fire in the food court full of people. Had I had sushi, I would’ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found.

 

My receipt shows my purchase was made at 6:20 pm. After that purchase I said I felt funny. It wasn’t the kind of funny you feel after spending money you know you shouldn’t have spent. It was almost a panicky feeling that left my chest feeling like something was missing. A feeling that was overwhelming enough to lead me to head outside in the rain to get fresh air instead of continuing back into the food court to go shopping at SportChek. The gunshots rung out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would’ve been in the midst of gunfire.

 

I walked around the outside of the mall. People started funneling out of every exit. When I got back to the front, I saw a police car, an ambulance, and a fire truck. I initially thought that maybe the street performer that was drumming there earlier had a heart attack or something. But more and more police officers, ambulances, and fire trucks started showing up. Something terrible has happened. I overheard a panicked guy say, “There was a shooting in the food court.” I thought that there was no way, I was just down there. I asked him what happened. He said “Some guy just opened fire. Shot about 8 shots. It sounded like balloons popping. The guy is still on the loose.” I’m not sure what made me stick around at this point instead of running as far away from the mall as possible. Shock? Curiosity? Human nature? Who knows.

 

Standing there in the midst of the chaos all around us, police started yelling to get back and make room. I saw a young shirtless boy, writhing on a stretcher, with his face and head covered by the EMS as they rushed him by us to get him into an ambulance. The moment was surprisingly calm. The EMTs helping the boy weren’t yelling orders and no one was screaming like a night time medical drama. It was as if it was one swift movement to get the boy out of the mall and into the ambulance. That’s when it really hit me. I felt nauseas. Who would go into a mall full of thousands of innocent people and open fire? Is this really the world we live in?

 

Police start yelling again “GET BACK NOW!” Another stretcher came rushing out of the mall. I saw a man on a stretcher, the blanket underneath him spotted with blood. Multiple gunshot holes in his chest, side, and neck were visible. It’s not like in the movies when you see someone shot and they’re bleeding continuously from the wound. There was no blood flowing from the wounds, I could only see the holes. Numerous gaping holes, as if his skin was putty and someone stuck their finger in it. Except these wounds were caused by bullets. Bullets shot out of hatred. His dark skin on his torso was tinted red with what I assume was his own blood. He was rushed into the ambulance and taken away.

 

More people joined the crowd at the scene and asked what happened. “There was a shooting in the food court,” kept being whispered through the crowd like a game of telephone. I was standing near a security guard when I heard him say over his walkie talkie, “One fatality.” At this point I was convinced I was going to throw up. I’m not an EMT or a police officer. I’m not trained to handle crime and murder. Gun crimes are fairly common where I grew up in Texas, but I never imagined I’d experience a violent crime first hand. I’m on vacation and wanted to eat and go shopping. Everyone else at the mall probably wanted the same thing. I doubt anyone left for the mall imagined they witness a shooting.

 

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

 

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

 

I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.