I know I write a lot about gun control, but it just seems so obvious and so solvable. Letters like the tragic one below need to become a thing of the past. Please read and take action (see last line).
My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.
He’d just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.
On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School — one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.
It’s been 14 years since that horrible day — 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.
These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them — even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that expanding background checks would help close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people and prevent future violence.
Today, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?
I hope you’ll join in — say you’ll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.
The evening of the shooting at Columbine High was the most hopeless I’ve ever felt.
Since Daniel’s death, I’ve found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I’ve advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws — even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.
In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns — more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.
And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act — expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.
But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.
That’s why this week, we’re asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say “enough”?
You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you’re going to keep asking until they act:
The election is finally over and all the uber-conservative nut-jobs are freaking out. “We’re going off a financial cliff. Obama is a communist alien from Mars. Henny Penney, the sky is falling.”
Since the election, people in all fifty states have signed petitions to secede their individual states from the Union. Again, most of this is coming from the fanatical right crazy-folk but I do believe there is an important message here. The Federal government is unjustly stepping on States’ rights.
Our system of government was setup to allow people in different regions of the country live by majority beliefs appropriate for their corner of the world as long as it did not conflict with the Constitution. This makes sense. Governance that’s good for Alaska may not be good for Florida. In addition, people who live together start to think alike – generally speaking – so they may have values that differ from others that live thousands of miles away.
Here’s my point. The Federal government has been heavily encroaching on States’ rights for the past 40 years. What we see is a country turning more and more divided because we are being forced to act more uniformly when culturally we are very different from state to state. People in Mississippi should not be forced to live like Californians if the majority of them don’t want to. It’s my belief that there would be less anger, less fanatical polarization if people were allowed to govern in a regionally appropriate way when democratically selected.
The next year will be interesting. I’m a liberal and an Obama fan but his big failing is mouthing the belief in State’s rights but then acting completely and thoroughly opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is good for the Feds to offer nationwide services as a competitive option to oligarchical industries, such as energy, banking and insurance since free market choices no longer exist. But it should be a choice. In this election, the people of Washington and Colorado voted to approve the legalization of recreational cannabis. Since 400 or so congressmen thought it was appropriate, in the 1970s, to broadly force their moral beliefs onto the entire nation and outlaw cannabis, it will be interesting to see how the President responds to the people’s choice in these two states.
If not in conflict with the Constitution, the will of the locals should be honored in a democracy. If not, let the secessions begin.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record with my reoccurring posts about the far reaching poisoning caused by industrialized farming. Today, a single mega-farm can have a single quality oversight and people across the country will get ill or die. It happens two or three times a year.
It’s August 2012 and here we go again with two more occurrences of produce poisoning; a lettuce recall due to E.coli and cantaloupe illnesses due to salmonella. These recent events have caused death and sickness across multiple states.
When will we learn that a centralized food system is not only environmentally disastrous but also puts too many people at risk? It’s amazing that we continue to endorse this food system.
Responsible farming has given way to energy intensive factory farms and as a result, there’s been a change in how food animals are raised and crops are grown. Instead of many decentralized mom-and-pop farms feeding the local population, we now have a small quantity of mega-farms supplying the far reaches of the country.
The solution is locally grown food. If an E.coli, listeria or salmonella outbreak does occur, it is locally contained and only a few people are affected. In addition, local production simulates the economy, creates jobs, uses less energy and has a smaller impact on the environment.
We have choices. Save your life, your family and the planet by buying locally produced goods.
It is Time – Relief for Victims of Lone-Wolf Killers such as James Holmes – LLoyd Lofthouse
What happened in that theater outside Denver, Colorado on July 25, 2012 or, for example, the terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murray Federal Building in Downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, were acts of terrorism and/or combat no different from what happened on 9/11 or in America’s foreign wars such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In fact, twelve days after 9/11, the US Congress enacted the September 11th Victim Compensation fund of 2001. This $6 billion program was intended to compensate any individual (or the personal representative of a deceased individual) who was physically injured or killed as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011. Source:Homeland Security: 9/11 Victim Relief Funds
We already know what happens to America’s combat veterans in similar situations—and US troops are trained, armed and ready.
In July 2010,PBS News Hour reported, “Of the more than two million men and women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s estimated one in five will come home with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD,” said health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser.
Bowser quoted U. S. President Barack Obama, who said, “I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to keep notes just in case they need to apply for a claim. And I have met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.”
Before President Obama, the rules required veterans to document events like firefights or bomb explosions that could have caused PTSD. Such documentation was often time-consuming and difficult, and sometimes was impossible. … Under the new rules a veteran need show only that he or she served in a war and performed a job during which events could have happened that could cause the disorder.
But what about the innocent victims of combat in the United States?
I’m not talking about the homicide rate (which is in decline) or riots (which most people may avoid by staying away from the location of the riot). I’m talking about the victims of lone-wolf mass killings such as what happened recently near Denver, Colorado.
What Motivates “Lone-Wolf” Shooters – there are thousands hiding in public!
According toThe Arizona Republic, “There has been no corresponding decline in mass murder—these sudden, stunning eruptions of violence with multiple victims, often perpetrated by gunmen who researchers refer to as ‘pseudo-commandos.’ Such a killer, clad in body armor and with a small arsenal of firearms, struck Friday in Aurora, Colo., leaving a dozen dead, 58 wounded and a nation horrified. …
“The United States experienced 645 mass-murder events—killings with at least four victims—from 1976 to 2010, according to Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. When graphed, these incidents show no obvious trend. The numbers go up and down and up again. The total body count: 2,949.”
The total number killed in the terrorist attack in New York City on September 11, 2001 was 2,819.
If what happened in that Colorado Theater does not qualify as a homegrown terrorist attack by a ‘pseudo-commando’, what does?
Lone-wolf acts of violence in the United States must be considered the same as any disaster and be included under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988. Under this act, the Federal share of the costs of such efforts is to be no less than 75 percent of the eligible costs. Total assistance under this Act for one emergency is to be limited to no more than $5,000,000, except when the President determines additional funds are needed. If additional funds are needed, the President must report to Congress on the extent of the additional need.
If what happened in Colorado is not covered under the Stafford Act, we need a new law that will. After all, it is the government’s responsibility to safeguard innocent, law abiding US citizens and in acts of lone-wolf violence, the government has failed 645 times since 1976.
It’s time to take care of our own in situations such as a lone-wolf mass-murder events. If the US Federal government can spend $49 billion for foreign aid in 2012, it must help the victims of acts of violence similar to what happened in Colorado in that Century Theater—the victims in such acts of violence should be treated the same as if they were 9/11 victims, wounded in combat or came home with PTSD from Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.
I’m stuck on the topic of arms control. In the massive news coverage that surrounded the tragic shooting rampage in Colorado, I heard one comment repeated at least three times by different reporters and commentators. It went something along the lines of: “No presidential candidate would dare take on the National Rifle Association(NRA) during an election year” with one pundit suggesting that no elected president would either.
I am a great believer in pressure groups to protect our rights and advocate in an orderly and effective fashion. Being relatively new to the US (and I feel it politically when gun control is being discussed more than most other topics), I am not aware of the power of the NRA.
Their website is very impressive. They have launched a campaign to “Go All In’ as they actively push to get their members voting for their people at the polls. Now my stereotype of an NRA member has them firmly committed to heading to the polls in November, but it does look to be a slick campaign.
There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. This is a democracy and there are more than a few nonprofits that I support who could learn a lot from the NRA. Their page on the ‘Right To Carry’ laws looks very professional.
But it seems to be more than that. The NRA succeed by embracing two marketing principles: Their message is simple and it is repeated, repeated, repeated. Craig Montuori, apparently a left coaster himself sums up the messaging:
“The NRA boils issues down to one point–pro- or anti-gun–and takes a stand for the pro-gun side. Sometimes these issues are extremely complex. For example, gun trace data takes ballistic data from criminal cases, matches them to a gun, and matches that gun to a dealer. Then, the dealer can be checked out for whether or not they’re following proper sales procedure–background checks, hold periods, and the like, and oftentimes, the dealers do not. The NRA opposes this to the hilt, and annually, the Tiarht Amendment is proposed and adopted with their heavy lobbying support to restrict gun trace data from being used by police and the ATF to dry up criminals’ gun supply. The issue is boiled down to “restricting gun sales = bad, NRA oppose bad restrictions.”
Mr. Montuori then goes on to explain how the NRA has an effective direct mail campaign (and probably online as well) to swamp legislators with letters from the NRA’s huge membership list, giving the politician the clear message that s/he is going against a large number of his/her constituents. Now what politician doesn’t listen to this sophisticated message?
Members sign and mail prepaid issue cards telling their representatives that they oppose H.R. ____ that will restrict their 2nd Amendment Rights. They invariably warn the representative that they will oppose him/her if s/he doesn’t oppose the bill too.
Again Mr. Montuori: “Because the issue is so ‘hot,’ the NRA has an oversized effect on Congressional races, and many Members toe the NRA line to keep their support and avoid their opposition, further enhancing their lobbying chops.”
Mr. Montuori’s final point is that the NRA have such a huge membership and are very efficient at mobilizing and fundraising quickly. Given the emotional sensitivity surrounding the issue … “among certain American sub-cultures, especially in the South, and supposed threats to those rights can whip up a huge frenzy of feeling that is effectively exploited to raise large amounts of cash.”
In truth, I preferred him as Moses
While I have no doubt that this is so true, I am still left with the feeling that Presidential candidates also have a professional network, huge supporters and plenty of money. I am left with the nagging question: Why are even those at the very top scared of taking on the NRA?
I waited to post this one out of respect for the victims though I wrote it over that terrible weekend. My thoughts go out to those who lost loved ones in the theatre shooting in Colorado. I cannot imagine what you are experiencing and I won’t pretend to.
I also feel kind of foolish and guilty, and I am sure that I am not the only one. When do we take on the issue of gun control? After a tragedy. After innocent people doing something that we all do regularly and are horrifically struck down. But once the victims are buried and their survivors have vented, we move on.
Until the next time…
Last time I broached the topic of gun control, I was told by several people that it is fundamentally an American issue and that, try as I do to be as American, it is impossible for an ‘outsider’ to understand how deeply this cuts into Uncle Sam’s psyche.
America is the land of the free. We all agree on this, right? We all want a government that takes care of big issues such as law and order, and defense of the realm. We simply don’t agree where to draw the line and who foots the bill.
Having the right to bear arms is for many the symbol of freedom. For me, the issue is not so clear-cut. I have sympathy with the woman who shot a man who was breaking down her front door and clearly threatening to rape her and kill her baby. So did the 911-dispatcher when she realized no one was going to get to the woman’s aid in time. I imagine that anyone who heard the tapes of the phone call understand this scenario.
To have the ability to defend herself, this woman needed to be able to legally able to buy a gun and ammunition. If this is the mission of the NRA and its supporters, it sounds reasonable.
But this is a long way away from the ability to purchase, in full view of traceable data, stacks of guns, ammunition, and explosives. There is a line that must be drawn not just between who has the right to purchase a gun and who doesn’t, but what they are allowed to possess. It should only be enough to defend yourself and your family against an assailant.
There is a colleague in my writers group who has written a post-apocalyptical novel based in the Bay Area. I am not familiar with the genre, but the story has stuck with me. This is in part because the story is taking place in my backyard, but it is also that my friend has researched his weapons and doesn’t spare us the graphics.
As he lists the various stockpiles that the good and bad guys amass, I realize that this is based upon the premise that there are enough people out there (in our backyards) who are amassing arsenals of weapons.
Would putting limits on how many weapons a person can have really impinge upon our freedom? Would America no longer be free if the bad guys packed less weaponry than our own police?
And what kind of freedom do we really have when we are too scared to go to the movies…and watch a superhero battle crime?
Erik Jensen made a mistake. At the age of 17 years old, he walked in as his best friend, a 16 year old who had been continually abused physically, sexually and emotionally, killed his abusive mother.
Erik had tried to help his friend over the past year and, along with a third young man, helped to clean up the crime scene. After his best friend was caught, Erik was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact.
Erik and his mother
The third friend then made a deal with the prosecution which implicated Erik in the murder and subsequently walked free. Erik was charged with first degree murder alongside the abused young man.
“Erik’s trial was held a few months after the Columbine massacre, where two young men from the same area in Colorado, as well as the same age as Erik, killed several classmates at their school. This act greatly influenced the country, especially Coloradans, view of kids and violent crime. Needless to say, Erik was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole along with Nathan.”
Even if he had been involved more in the murder, the question arises whether a crime committed by a juvenile should be life without parole. Even when extenuating circumstances are involved such as abuse, is it correct to impose no possibility of a second chance?
Erik Jensen has been in prison now for over 10 years. He is described as a “model prisoner” and “a tremendous human being.”
Should he receive a second chance? Isn’t there a better solution than for a young man, not yet an adult, than to spend the rest of his life in jail?
When will we learn that a centralized food system not only is environmentally disastrous but it also kills people? I blogged about an E. coli breakout in June, poisonous strawberry production earlier this month and now in late September, I’m writing about an outbreak of killer cantaloupe.
Killer Cantaloupe…it sounds like a bad title for a 1950’s era B-horror movie. Unfortunately, this Listeria-laced deadly fruit is scary and real. To date, up to 16 people have died and close to 100 are seriously ill. The incubation period for Listeria can take as long as 70 days so it is forecasted that many more people will become sick and potentially die. So far, 18 states are affected by the cantaloupe that came from one farm in Colorado.
It’s amazing that we continue to endorse a food system where one farm can make so many people sick across the country. We have choices. We can buy food from locally grown sources.
Let’s briefly review the benefits of local food:
1) It is healthier because it tends to be organic and free of fuel-based fertilizers and pesticide.
2) It is harvested when rip and sold within 24 hours so it’s more flavorful and has more nutrients. Factory farmed produce is picked weeks in advance and then ripened with ethylene gas before being sold.
3) Locally grown food (as with all locally manufactured products) employs more people and improves local economies.
4) It is environmentally friendlier than factory produced food. Factory farms are energy intensive, use chemicals and goods are transported up to 1500 miles creating a large carbon footprint. The run-off from factory farms acidifies waterways and negatively impacts the eco-system. In addition, these big farms inefficiently use water and create soil erosion.
I sound like a broken record because this subject comes up a lot in my posts. But it is important, especially now that the frequency of food borne illness is increasing. This doesn’t need to happen. We have choices and all we need to do is think before we buy.
Save your life, your family, the planet and neighborhood jobs by buying locally produced goods.
Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.
The average amount of books sold at a book signing is eight! When you take into account the luminaries such as Stephen King, John Grisham, J.K. Rowlings et al, then there are some very sad and frustrated bookstore staff and authors. When Christopher Moore launched his novel Fool in the heart of San Francisco, people lined up around the store and outside waiting for him to sign a copy of this or any other of his hilarious novels. There were a few hundred easily. It was a good night for Books Inc.
But many stores are getting tired of the publicity, room preparation, staff time etc. all for a handful of people. According to the New York Times, some independent bookstores have decided to charge admission (often a gift card that can be redeemed for the author’s or another book). Julie Bosman and Matt Richtel highlighted this in a recent article after the Boulder Book Store in Colorado announced in April that it planned to charge $5 a person to attend store events. In the same month, local Menlo Park bookstore, Kepler’s Books, began to charge a $10 gift card as admission for two people. if the customer bought the book at the store prior to entering the event, the fee was waived.
Alon Shalev speaking in a Barnes & Noble
One of the few advantages that the brick-and-mortar bookstores have over their online competitors is the ability to bring authors and readers face-to-face.
Here are some reactions from the field (taken from the aforementioned NYT article):
“There’s no one right now who’s not considering it,” said Sarah McNally, the owner of McNally Jackson Books in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. “The entire independent bookstore model is based on selling books, but that model is changing because so many book sales are going online.”
Is there still magic in meeting an author?
“We don’t like to have events where people can’t come for free,” Anne Holman, the general manager of The King’s English Bookshop, an independent store in Salt Lake City, said. “But we also can’t host big free events that cost us a lot money and everyone is buying books everywhere else.”
Bookstore owners say they are doing so because too many people regularly come to events having already bought a book online or planning to do so later. Consumers now see the bookstore merely as another library — a place to browse, do informal research and pick up staff recommendations.
“They type titles into their iPhones and go home,” said Nancy Salmon, the floor manager at Kepler’s. “We know what they’re doing, and it has tested my patience.”
Heather Gain, the marketing manager of the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., said “We’re a business. We’re not just an Amazon showroom.”
Ann Patchett was interviewed while on her three-week book tour for her new book, “State of Wonder.” She was appearing at such an event at Kepler’s. She understood the bookstores’ problem, but worried that this wold exclude those who can’t pay for a hardcover book such as students or the elderly. “I wouldn’t want the people who have no idea who I am and have nothing else to do on a Wednesday night shut out,” she said. “Those are your readers.”
Alon Shalev speaking in Oakland
Publishers aren’t happy either since they often pay for the author to travel to the bookstore. If the bookstore is charging entrance, shouldn’t it at that point pay the author or publisher for the appearance?
Customers seem willing to pay when they know the author (and are probably going to buy his/her book) and some are willing to pay to support the independent bookstores.
“You get a real sense of community …” one said. “You get an intellectual community that gathers around books, and that can only happen at a bookstore.”
Others however have questioned this: “Who would the money go to? Not to the author?” he asked. “That’s terrible.”
What do you think? Are the independent bookstores just cutting off one of the only advantages they hold over the online stores? But if most of us do move over to Ebooks, will that spell the end of our local independent bookstores? And then, what else are we missing out on?