Archive for May, 2018

Now that I’ve had time to put together some coherent thoughts on this…

I had really begun to hope that Parkland would become a turning point, a moment that finally made the nation stand up and listen. Those kids – Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, David Hogg and others – stood up, a collective David against the Goliath of American gun culture, and refused to back down. They made great progress. But after a while, we all stopped listening again. There was Russia. There was Stormy Daniels. There were juicier stories.

And so we come to Houston, and another community torn apart, another set of families grieving the sudden gaping hole in their lives. A hole which can never be filled, certainly not with the empty thoughts and prayers of public figures too gutless to give more than that.

I’m sure some of you quit reading after that last sentence. I don’t care. If you did, you might just be part of the problem.

In the coming days, we’re going to hear the usual litany of bullshit. Guns are just tools, much like hammers and spoons and also the people who try to use that argument. Guns don’t kill people, people who perpetuate that argument so they don’t have to give up their guns kill people.

Tell me something, America: when did your right to own a gun become more important than the right of those ten kids to live the next seventy years of their lives?

Tell me something, America: how many dead children will it take for you to decide that enough is enough?

America has by far the highest rate of gun ownership of any country in the world. It also has by far the highest rate of gun-related death of any country in the world that is not a literal war zone. This is not a coincidence.

Mr. President, I have a son, just a little younger than Barron. What are you doing to ensure that Barron isn’t going to be shot and killed at his school, and why should that be available to your child and not to mine?

Mr. Adam Putnam – you tried to advance legislation in Florida, just a few days after Parkland, which would loosen restrictions and make guns even more widely available. Were those lives truly less important than your pandering?

To the CEOs of Publix and other companies who have come out in support of figures such as Mr. Putnam and their stances on guns, don’t think for one second that the blood of innocents will not also be on your hands. But know that not another nickel of my money will be.

As of this weekend, more American schoolchildren have died in their places of learning in 2018 than American military personnel in their places of combat. That statistic should sicken us all. What the hell is our military even defending at that point?

Tell me something, America: what will you do about this? why do you allow elected officials to get away with tweeting ‘thoughts and prayers’ and doing nothing? how can I possibly feel safe that my child is not going to be the next sad statistic, one more name piled atop the ongoing monument to our national idiocy?

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I’ve read through a lot of arguments on Facebook about gun control, both in the wake of this latest tragedy and others, and here’s my take on it: we can blame mental illness, we can blame a culture of violence, we can blame video games or the media or anything else…

But the mentally ill person who has grown up in a culture of violence playing violent video games still can’t commit a mass shooting if he doesn’t have access to a gun.

There have been a number of good points made, so here’s what I’m thinking in terms of a (partial) solution:

1. Tax guns and ammunition. Massively. Outrageously. And require purchases of both to be registered in a national database. This doesn’t infringe on anyone’s right to own them, but it makes them less attractive.

2. Mandate that when not in use, guns are unloaded and locked away, and the ammunition stored separately. This does not infringe on anyone’s right to own guns, but it makes it far less likely that a loaded gun will be left lying around for a child to find and use.

3. Require a degree of mastery in order to become licensed, just as we do with driving. Written and practical test at a certified gun range, requirement of liability insurance, and heavy penalties for use while intoxicated. This does not infringe on anyone’s right to own guns, but makes it more likely that a person owning one will be conversant with safety procedures and less likely to use one recklessly.

4. Remove from the market all firearms capable of firing more than 15 rounds a minute. This does not infringe on anyone’s right to own guns, but ensures that someone using one cannot simply mow down dozens of people in rapid succession.

5. Remove from the market all bump stocks or other devices which enhance the capabilities of a weapon beyond the legal parameters already set. This does not infringe on anyone’s right to own guns, but ensures that the laws cannot be circumvented with a quick stop at the hardware store.

6. Empower mental health professionals, school staff, social media companies and emergency response personnel to file reports with local authorities in the event that they believe a person intends to commit an act of violence, and allow those authorities to place a 21-day restraining order on that person during which their guns are temporarily removed from their possession. This does not infringe on anyone’s right to own guns, but it allows for a cooling-off period for someone who might otherwise commit such an act in a moment of anger or episode of mental instability.

7. Allow for the permanent confiscation of any firearms brought into a school, or into any place of business which posts a clear notice that firearms are not welcome in that establishment. This does not infringe on anyone’s right to own guns, but it makes clear that you can’t just take one anywhere you want.

8. Mandate that any person with a documented history of domestic violence or mental instability be required to present a signed statement from a certified mental health professional in order to obtain a gun. This does not infringe on anyone’s right to own guns, so long as they can be trusted with them, but it makes their families, friends and neighbors a hell of a lot safer.

9. Implement a national three-strikes policy such that any person in violation of any of the above three times be barred from owning or using a gun for a period of five years. This does in fact infringe on a few people’s right to own guns, but after three strikes, that would surely fall within the category of ‘reasonable restrictions’.

10. If anyone complains about the above, offer them thoughts and prayers. If it’s good enough for a family who has lost a child, it’s good enough for a dude who has lost his favorite gun.

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