Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: gun control

Guns, Violence and Journalistic Integrity

Sunday night there were a number of watch parties going on in the DFW area. It was the first game of the regular season for the Dallas Cowboys. Zeke Elliott was playing, after weeks of uncertainty. Dak Prescott was starting his second season at quarterback and everyone waited anxiously to see if he could continue the magic of his rookie year. Added to that was the fact the ‘Boys were playing their arch rivals, the New York Giants. Unfortunately, one of those parties exploded in a hail of bullets that left, as of this morning, 9 dead. Cue the media to start yet another round of calls for gun control and cue the local media to forget all about journalistic integrity and identify the shooter even though his name has not yet been released by the authorities.

Let’s start with the latter first. Only one of the victims has been identified so far. She was the owner of the house. Her mother has claimed to the media that the shooter was her estranged husband. That is the only information we have so far and yet the media has been running with it. A local columnist has used this alleged identification as the basis for an op-ed piece calling for more gun control because we can’t let guns get into the hands of folks who might have anger issues.

There was a time when the media wouldn’t identify a victim — or a suspect — until that identification was verified by the authorities. It certainly wouldn’t identify someone killed, whether in an accident or as the result of a crime. It was part taking the time to make sure the facts of the incident were confirmed and part because it was the decent thing to do. They gave time to the authorities to notify the family of the person killed. But I guess that’s no longer a consideration in this day and age of reporters not reporting the news but wanting to shape it and make it. To hell with the emotional toll such actions might take on family members who had nothing to do with what happened.

Well, to hell with these so-called journalists.

Moving on. I start getting concerned when people want to limit the right to own, much less carry, a gun because of the possibility someone might have anger issues. How is this possibility supposed to be judged? More importantly, who is supposed to make this assessment? To limit a right based on something that might happen at some point in the future based on some set of circumstances that might never occur is not only foolish, it’s unreasonable.

But let’s be honest, this is simply another way the anti-gun faction wants to limit gun ownership. At least this particular columnist finally turned her post into the need to address impulse control and anger issues. But all too many will take what happened in Plano to argue that anyone going through a divorce shouldn’t be allowed access to guns or to argue that everyone wanting to buy a gun go through psychological evaluations.

Not only no but hell no.

The media needs to take a step back — maybe several, especially if a tall cliff is involved — and remember what it is there to do. Unless it is an editorial, they are there to report the news. They should pride themselves on presenting the facts in a fair and unbiased way. Reporters should report and not be part of the news. They should help us shape opinions based on facts and not on their own personal biases.

Newspapers and network news wonders why they are losing followers. It’s simple. We are tired of being shown slanted views of events. We are tired of being considered too stupid to know what is happening. With so many new ways to find out what’s happening in the world, the media should be adapting instead of digging its heels in. Of course, considering it is the twin to traditional publishing, their approach doesn’t surprise me. All I can say is that they will continue to lose viewers and readers until they once again put facts above opinion, integrity above attempting to manipulate the issues.

Grow up, news media, or go home.

The derp is strong with this one

Yesterday, my friend Nicki linked to an online “letter of resignation” by Jacob Dorman. You see, Dorman was so very upset and worried and traumatize (my words) by the fact that KU was going to allow concealed carry on campus that he was ending his employment with them. That’s his right. His reasoning, however, had me rolling my eyes and laughing out loud. You see, he’s apparently convinced that allowing concealed carry on campus will cause more problems than it will solve and crime will escalate as a result.

Riiiiight.

First of all, he completely ignores the deterrent factor concealed carry has. Sure, there are instances where it hasn’t worked but there are also instances where it has. Just last week, it worked in Arlington, TX. Okay, not in a classroom but in a restaurant. A man walked in, started causing a commotion and, when the manager tried to get him to calm down, he murdered the manager. A customer, who was carrying concealed, pulled his gun and shot the perp. It was later learned the perp had come armed with two guns and two knives. How many lives did that customer save and all because he was carrying concealed?

There’s another argument Dorman and those like him fail to take into account. When you have signs posted all over saying a school — or church or anywhere else — is a gun-free zone, you are simply telling those who are inclined to cause harm that they can do so in that location without fear of someone having the means to stop them. Take away that safety — safety for them and not for those going to school there — and you have a deterrent in place because the perp won’t know who might pull a gun and defend herself and others present.

The other thing Dorman and others like him fail to consider is we have no way of knowing how often this is what’s happened. After all, most potential murderers don’t walk into the police station or call a reporter to say, “Gee, you know, I was going to go into John Doe Elementary School and shoot the place up but decided not to because the teachers can carry concealed.”

But, as you read the Dorman’s “resignation”, you see the real issue. He points out that, because Kansas is a small state, it has to recruit from out-of-state and all those wonderful liberal profs who don’t believe in guns won’t want to come to KU because — gasp — someone might actually have one. Gasp!

All I can say is that all my relatives who went to KU and were proud grads are shaking their heads — and in a few cases, rolling in their graves — and saying “good riddance”. The fact that Dorman has already secured employment at an out-of-state college shows he had to have been looking long before he submitted his outraged letter. Frankly, his histrionics reminds me of a few of the professors at the University of Texas last year when our state legislature voted to allow concealed carry on our college campuses. Yes, there are ways for the colleges to opt out — just as there are in Kansas (at least I assume there are in KS). But these poor darlings were so traumatized by the possibility someone might LEGALLY carry a weapon, they had to leave the university.

Hey, guys, here’s a little truth for you. Most of those who decide they want to shoot up a classroom don’t worry about if they have the legal right to carry their weapons. However, how many of them will think twice if they know someone else might also be carrying a weapon, someone willing to use it to keep them from hurting anyone?

See what Nicki had to say about this over at the Liberty Zone. She’s linked to some data that puts the lie to some of Dorman’s allegations. Check it out.

The post where I make folks mad

Reading the paper this morning, I found myself gnashing my teeth together as one of the columnists went on a not-too-sublte attempt to promote tighter gun regulation. To prove her point, she used both anecdotal evidence as well as the column by an anesthesia resident in New York (if I remember correctly) to talk about how no one who has ever been shot ever fully recovers. Her point was that there are always lingering wounds, some physical and some emotional. While she didn’t beat the reader over the head with an anti-gun message, the thrust was there and it started me thinking.

Yes, yes, I know it’s dangerous when I start thinking this early in the morning. It is especially so when it is about a topic I feel passionately about.

So let’s start out with the basic statement that I have no problem with the gun industry, the NRA or anyone who responsibly owns and learns to use any weapon, be it a pistol, rifle or bow or something sharp and pointy. We should have the means at our disposal to protect ourselves. If someone breaks into my house, I should have the right to protect myself if it is not feasible to retreat. If someone is trying to harm my elderly mother, I shouldn’t have to wait for the police to arrive before action is taken. That might be too late.

But let’s face it, this country has already tried the “let’s ban something” route on more than one occasion and has failed miserably. Prohibition is the first example that springs into most people’s minds. The government decided to get into the morality business — or maybe I should say get more into it — and decided liquor wasn’t good for us and banned its production, importation, transportation and sale. What happened was it simply went underground and not that far. Organized crime got into rum running and speakeasies opened. People who would never have thought of breaking the law — hell, of even speeding or jaywalking — started making beer in their bathtubs, etc. The legislation was a failure and a farce and folks gave a wink and a nod to.

In short, it didn’t work. People wanted it and they found a way to get it.

Then there is the so-called war on drugs. The purpose of this was to make it as close to impossible for people to get illegal drugs. What happened was that the user and the low level dealers were prosecuted but the “brains” behind the drug routes and distribution networks were rarely captured, much less prosecuted. Drug use was not curtailed, much less stopped. Again, if someone wants something badly enough, they will find a way to get it.

Do that mean I believe we should sell guns to anyone who wants one? Part of me says hell no and yet another part of me says it doesn’t really matter. If someone wants a gun badly enough, he will get it. However, if I have to say one way or another, I have no problem with running a criminal background check. I do, however, oppose putting someone on some list they don’t know about ala the “no fly” list for nebulous reasons they can’t defend against because, duh, they don’t know about it in the first place.

Nor do I feel it is the business of my doctor or my dentist to ask if I have a gun. It has nothing to do with the strained muscle or yearly check-up I’m there for.

As far as I’m concerned, if you can pass the background check — and that should be limited to have you been convicted of a violent offense — then you should be able to buy a gun. You should then get the training needed to handle it responsibly. Then you, as the resonsible gun owner, should be able to conceal carry.

But this post isn’t about whether we should conceal carry or not. It is about realities and the reality of the situaion is that a ban on guns, any type of gun, won’t work. Human beings are nothing if not adaptive and those who want a gun will find one. All the ban will do is create an even larger black market for guns than already exists. So, instead of trying to take guns out of the hands of those who don’t abuse them, why don’t we look at more effective ways of dealing with those who use guns illegally? How about making it more difficult for them to find a location where they aren’t afraid of being drawn down on by those they want to make victims of? Instead of advertising “this is a gun free zone” — which is nothing more than saying “oh, shoot me now” — note that this location welcomes gun owners? It might not stop every crazy who decides to go out in a blaze of glory but it will make some of them stop and think.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a gun to protect my family with than a cellphone. I guess I could throw the cellphone at the perp and then run like hell but that will, at most, be a temporary distraction. Or I could ask the perp to wait until the police arrived. Yeah, I’m sure that will work. NOT! So, for those of you who have been so loudly advocating a ban on guns, ask yourself these questions:

  • How long does it take for your 911 call to be answered?
  • How long does it take for the police to respond to your call once the 911 operator has taken the information?
  • What are the chances you or your loved ones will have survived unscathed the encounter with the armed burglar or addict looking for money for a fix until the cops arrive?

Now ask yourself one more question: Are you willing to put the lives of your loved ones at risk just because a very small minority of gun owners use their weapons in a manner any sane person would not?

I don’t know about you but I will do whatever it takes to protect my family. I do not want my ability to do so lessened because I can’t get the same weapon legally that the crook can and will get through illegal means.

 

Who or what is to blame?

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked where all the anger was in the wake of the terrorist attack in Orlando. He had seen outrage and disbelief, sorrow and shock, but very little real anger. Part of it, at least in my case, was simply the need to process what had happened. But, with each hour that passed, with more information being released, I became more and more angry. Not just with the shooter but with others who stepped up to use the tragedy to press their pet agendas.

That anger hasn’t lessened any this morning. How can it when we have the President refusing to acknowledge that the shooter professed allegiance to ISIS? How can it when Clinton — and Obama before her — says that this is just another reason why we need more gun control? How can it when ACLU attorneys blame Conservative Christians for what happened?

Let’s face it, folks, no one forced Omar Mateen to buy the guns he took into the club with him in the early hours of yesterday morning. No one forced him to target that particular club. No one forced him to do anything — he chose his path, guided by who knows what? Are there indicators that he became a follower of radical Islam? Yes. But there is still a great deal we don’t know.

There is something else we have to face — tightening up gun control rules won’t stop crimes such as this. Whether we want to admit it or not, whenever there is a demand for a commodity, a black market will pop up if there are not legal ways to get it. Make those legal ways too difficult to navigate and, guess what, a black market will pop up. All you have to do is look at life behind the Iron Curtain for proof.

I’ve mentioned here before that I spent several months behind the Iron Curtain when I was younger. I visited what was then Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and the then Soviet Union. We knew there was a black market in the first three nations but it wasn’t as pervasive as what we found in the Soviet Union. Part of it was a desperation by the people to get items we don’t blink an eye about getting and part was to raise money. The Soviet economy was a joke, failing on all levels except padding the pockets of those in power.

It wasn’t even a hidden black market. Maids working in hotels would listen to conversations — and check luggage — to see if someone might be willing to “trade”. They wanted things like birth control pills, clothes, even my Mickey Mouse watch. Hell, one wanted to buy my St. Christopher medal. Not that I was willing to sell it, not with a transatlantic flight ahead of me.

We learned quickly what to look for. Just as it became a game to see how quickly we could spot which of our tour guides was reporting on our comings and goings, we learned to find the ones who were willing to trade with us for things we thought common place. We talked to people who had survived Stalin and World War II and who talked about how often the black market was the only way they had survived.

It didn’t matter if the item was in short supply or if it was outlawed, there was a market for it. All you had to do was know who to ask. Or know someone who knew to ask. Risky? Of course. But in a country where oppression was the rule, people would take risks. They had to. As beaten down as they were, there were still those who refused to bow down.

But let’s look closer to home. How have prohibitions worked here?

Think about that for a moment. The last time we tried a real prohibition of anything — liquor — it failed miserably. At least it did from a governmental point of view — at least from a non-corrupt governmental point of view. What we got were a number of police and politicians who looked the other way in return for money finding its way into their pockets. Organized crime came into its own during that period, running liquor and more.

Prohibition lasted 13 years, if I remember correctly and never really succeeded. Liquor was smuggled in from Canada. Speakeasies took off. Bathtub brew found its way into the homes of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The demand was there and people found a way.

But that’s not the only attempt our government has made to control the supply or distribution of something. Our so-called war on drugs is another example. We’ve seen how that has fared. It has failed. Our jails and prisons are filled with people who are users and low level pushers while the masterminds are, on the whole, untouchable.

Now we get the renewed call for more gun control laws. Do those politicians and others crying out to ban assault weapons — which is a misnomer when it comes to the weapons used by the bastard in Orlando — think that will get all the ARs and other similar weapons off the streets? Do they think it will keep black market trading of those weapons? If they do, they are either badly misinformed or they refuse to look around and see what is happening now.

Oh, but, Amanda, we need to close all the gun show loopholes.

Bullshit. Before we start worrying about that, ask yourself if we shouldn’t instead worry about how the FBI, the agency that investigated the bastard shooter multiple times, interviewing him 3 before determining there wasn’t enough evidence to think him a real threat, didn’t connect the dots when he bought the AR and Glock last week. The FBI is the agency running the background checks. The shooter was, allegedly, on the terrorist watch list. And yet intra-agency communication apparently didn’t trigger anyone to ask why this person they had been looking at might want these two weapons.

More gun control legislation isn’t what will stop tragedies like this. If the shooter truly was a radical, he would have found a way to kill as many people as he could, whether he could legally buy a gun or not. He would have gone to the black market. He would have used a bomb of some sort and that could have resulted in a great many more deaths and injuries that his guns did.

So, am I mad? Hell yes. I’m mad at those still pounding away on what happened to push their political agenda instead of paying attention to what the facts say and putting the blame where it really belongs — with the shooter and, if the allegations that he was a follower of radical Islam, with the tenets of that form of Islam. (and no, I don’t blame every follower of Islam for what happened any more than I blame every Christian for what happened in Waco so long ago.) I’m furious at the shooter. I want answers from the FBI for why it missed the signs.

It will take a long time for me to stop being angry. What happened in Orlando can’t be ignored. Nor can the causes behind it — the real causes, the ones supported by facts.

Knee-jerk reactions aside

This morning, most of us woke to news of the attack that took place inside of Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Oh, wait, that isn’t quite how it was played out in the media, especially in social media. Long before any facts were verified — hint, law enforcement is still working to determine exactly what happened. They know some of it but not all — the media and others were spinning what happened to fit their own narrative. Don’t believe me, look at some of the headlines and ledes and ask yourself this: if thi had taken place in a nightclub that was not one that catered to any particular group, would that have been mentioned? But because it was a “gay” nightclub, that fact has been shouted to the rafters and used as “proof” of motivation, even before the shooter was identified.

Go to Facebook and read some of the posts. There is a meme already making the rounds to the effect that we need saving from those whose first reaction to incident was “how do we protect our guns”. Hmm. The person responsible for the quote and meme could take time to get on a political hobbyhorse for anti-gun legislation instead of waiting to see if the weapon(s) in question had been obtained through legal or illegal means. No sympathy expressed on the meme for the victims or their families. Nope, political agenda all the way.

Not that this is the only type of the political or social agenda being pushed. There are those who instantly assumed it was a Christian extremist, although most used the term “fundamentalist”, responsible. After all, we know all Christians are anti-gay. Again, pushed with no proof.

There are those who have taken a tweet from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to prove at least some Christians might be capable of committing such a heinous act. The tweet, shown here, may or may not relate to what happened in Orlando. Patrick’s office says it was pre-scheduled and had nothing to do with the tragedy. I would like to think that is the case. However, Patrick is a loose cannon and, frankly, rarely opens his mouth without putting both feet in it. But, whether or not he meant the tweet as a reaction to the events in Orlando, it doesn’t prove the person, or persons, responsible were Christian fanatics.

Then there is the other side of the coin. The side that instantly decided that the perp had to be an Islamic extremist. After all, we all know how they feel about gays. That’s the argument and, at least in the first few hours after the attack, it had as little support as any of the others. The only thing I can say they were hanging their proverbial hats on was the classification of the shooting as “terrorism”. Add in the information that the police said the perp had a “suspicious device” and it isn’t difficult to understand why there were those who jumped to the conclusion that it was someone connected with ISIS or a similar group.

Here’s the thing. Even now, the facts are only beginning to emerge. Was there only one shooter or was there another? What I have seen so far from the officials is that there was just the one, killed during the attempt by police to rescue those still inside the club. However, interviews with at least one person present at the club refers to at least two shooters. Who is right? I don’t know. My gut tells me there very well may have been more than one there.

Slowly, oh so slowly, the police are starting to release information. Several hours ago, the gunman was identified as Omar Mateen. He was 29 and a U. S. citizen. It is believed he was born here and his family was from Afghanistan. He had no criminal record but was “known to police”. Federal officials are investigating to see if he had any ties to terror organizations and his father said he might have had some anti-gay leanings.

Right now, we know very little about the why of what happened. Not that the usual suspects — on all sides — are letting that stop them. They would much rather flog their pet political and social agendas, using this tragedy to try to score points. Shame on them. Shame on each of them for putting an issue ahead of what happened and for clouding the metaphorical water. Once more they prove they are more concerned with showing their social conscience than their humanity.

The ones I really feel for are those who have had family members out them on social media in order for the person making the revelation seem more “in tune” with the tragedy. I have seen several posts this morning from parents who outed their kids– yes, they outed their kids and at least one of them is still in his teens — in order to show they “understand” how those in Orlando feel. I hope they spoke with their kids before making such an announcement. If not, I hope they are ready for the fallout, not only with regard to their relationship with their child but with how others might now deal with that child.

Would stricter gun control laws have prevented this tragedy? We don’t know because, as far as I can tell right now, we don’t know if the shooter obtained his weapons legally. We don’t know, at least not that I have seen, why he decided to shoot anyone, much less why he decided to drive to Orlando and target this particular club and its customers.

Until we start getting answers to the fundamental questions behind what happened, everyone needs to step back, shut up and quit flogging their pet agendas. Such cries of outrage help no one, especially when the facts are still unknown. So shut up, sit down and do something you aren’t used to doing — wait until you know more. Who knows. You might actually learn something in the process.

 

 

Thank God I’m a Texan

I’m a Texan. Have been most of my life, as in all but eighteen months of it. For those who haven’t lived here for an extended period of time, there is a mindset that seems to take over us. We’re proud of our state and, on the whole, proud of our country. That doesn’t mean we always agree with what the administration in Washington DC might be doing. Far from it, in fact. It means we are proud of the United States of America and the foundation it was built upon.

It also means we have no problem voicing our dissent when the pols on Capitol Hill or in the White House do something we see as exceedingly stupid. Of course, we have been known to aim that same voice of dissent toward Austin on many an occasion. But, like most families, where we can beat on our own and call them names, no one else had better or we’ll come after you.

Well, one of the hot button issues for many of us down here in redneck land is gun ownership. Yep, I said it. I said the “g” word. And I’ll keep saying it and, no, I’m not going to be politically correct. Fair warning. Of course, I’m rarely politically correct as most of you know.

What set me off this morning is an image I saw on Facebook. I’m not going to post it here, but I will note the caption on it. “3,542 American soldiers died due to combat during the 8 year Iraq war. 3,775 Americans have been killed by guns just 4 1/2 months since Newtown.”

Now, I’ll admit I had to read the caption twice to figure out what the point was. Was this something being posted by someone pointing out the idiocy of those liberals sitting in their ivory towers complaining about all the “unnecessary” deaths in Iraq and elsewhere as a result of combat? Or was this something posted by someone in favor of stricter gun control? Or maybe, just maybe, it was something posted by someone who believed both.

While I don’t always agree with the Administration’s policies on Iraq — or any other scene of battle — I recognize that there were reasons for us to be there. But, like the reasons or not, the reality of the situation is, any time you send troops into a war zone — or anywhere else where there are opposing factions — there will be casualties and deaths. War is not and never will be something that can be fought without collateral damage, much less harm to the men and women in uniform. Of course, the problem with today’s vocal idiocy is they think war should be fought like that episode from the original Star Trek: some dispassionate computer picks who dies and you calmly go to the death chamber and meet your fate. No muss and no fuss and no one gets caught in the cross-fire. Then there are those who believe that there should be no wars at all — happy thought that, but the only way that will happen is if there is no life on the planet. Sorry, humans will always take umbrage at something someone else says or does and violence will, on occasion, result.

As for the numbers of soldiers killed, I mourn each of them. I also honor their memory and pray that no one else has to die. However, I’m a realist so I know people die in war. Like it or not, that’s the way of life — and death. Frankly, I wish those raising a row over the number would revisit history and look at how many soldiers died on D-Day or at Gettysburg. Or at any number of other battles throughout history. The fact that so few soldiers have died as a result of combat is something we should all be thankful for.

We should also remember that those soldiers were volunteers who knew there was a very good chance they’d one day have to go into battle and they accepted that possibility. They were serving their country and gladly. So quit using them as political tools and honor them as the heroes they were and are.

Now, assuming the folks perpetuating the image on Facebook are those who advocate stricter gun laws. I understand the knee-jerk reaction after Newtown and other mass shootings to do whatever possible to limit the number of guns on the street. But there’s a problem with making it more difficult to pass background checks: it won’t stop gun violence. What those who advocate stricter gun laws oh-so-conveniently forget is that those who want to commit a crime using a gun won’t go down to the nearest gun shop and submit to a background check before robbing the neighborhood store, etc. They will, instead, buy their gun off the black market or will get it from one of their buddies, etc.

Now, I can see those advocating stricter gun laws — and those who think we should take away guns from the common citizen — puffing up and pointing out the crimes of passion that are committed with guns legally obtained. Or the few crimes where the defendant is actually dumb enough to go buy a gun days or weeks before shooting the cheating spouse or slimeball business partner. But those are the exceptions, not the rule.

What I want to know is how these same gun control advocates would react if someone happened to be breaking into their house with the intention of raping their daughter or wife or killing their son, etc. Wouldn’t they want to do whatever is possible to protect their family? And before they say they would round the family up and run out the back door, let me ask you this: how many of you can actually run outside your back door and to a neighbor’s house without having to jump a fence at the very least? In our neighborhood, it is code that you must have at least a six foot tall wooden fence between houses. Now, I might be able to make it over such a fence but my 81 year old mother wouldn’t be able to.

For me, I want the ability to legally obtain a gun, get trained in the proper care and use of it. I want to be able to protect my family should the need arise. Why? Because I know that the bad guys don’t give a flying rat’s ass about obeying gun laws. They will find a gun if they want one and will use it. All I want is to make sure I have a level playing field.

Fortunately, our state legislators here in Texas understand that. They also know that criminals are less likely to try something stupid if there’s a chance someone — or a number of someones — might be armed. Criminals might be stupid — okay, a lot of them are — but unless they are out there trying to commit suicide by cop, they want to live. Which means the higher the risk of running into a store to rob it where not only the store clerk but the customers may be armed, the higher the likelihood of the crook not going into that store. Same thing applies to college campuses if we allow those with CCH permits to carry there as well.

But let me ask you this, those of you who feel guns should be banned, or made so difficult to obtain they might as well be banned. When this Eden you think will occur with the tighter laws doesn’t come about, what are you going to do? Will you then push to make it easier to obtain guns for the common man or will you push for further regulation of things like knives and anything that can be used to make explosives?

That echoing silence you hear is the sound of their brains shutting down because there is no right answer in their lexicon. After all, guns are the source of all violence just as money is the root of all evil. And I so will not get started on that particular argument today.

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