1/21/12….MLK, RFK, the NRA and BHO

This non-market special edition is the result of last Friday’s PBS (the only station that dares to make you think anymore), panel with Mark Shields and David Brooks on the Nightly News which carries on in the tradition of Walter Cronkite, Huntley Brinkley, and  The MacNeil Lehrer Report. It was a truly eyeopening segment. What better time, the coming together (if only we, the people and our Congress could do the same) of Martin Luther King Day and Obama’s second inaugural to have a sane discussion of guns? TB  

…of course you could add to these, JFK, perhaps the list of other presidents who were assassinated while in office, Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley,  the 20 attempts to kill a president – two of whom,  Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were shot but lived, and every president from Hebert Hoover to Obama!!!

In addition, two died while in office who were possibly assassinated: Zachary Taylor and Warren G. Harding. Does that make you think? Does it say that guns have been weapons of death since Andrew Jackson but that our culture and the advent of weapons in the hands of private citizens with power never dreamed of are reason for a change in the law?

Nay, says the NRA, that would be a violation of the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms – but that could be construed to be from a muzzle loader to a grenade launcher, bazooka or anti-tank missile. Is this what they intended – the founding fathers not the NRA? The NRA boasts 1.2 million or more members…less than 1% of the population so don’t let ‘figures lie and liars figure.’ Yesterday, someone said they have added 250,000 members since Sandy Hook while gun sales soar and shops can’t even keep enough weapons to sell on hand. This happens every time the topic of gun regulation (not gun control) comes up. Interestingly, the sales are handguns…which have not even been mentioned since Sandy Hook.

It was anti-federalists who wanted this…opposed to a strong government and standing army but rather one of local militias…do you think we could have won WWII, or even WWI with this? Also, it was not a new idea but part of English Common Law, but like the definition of a native born U.S. citizen being anyone born on U.S. soil is obsolete and a major problem with meaningful immigration reform, times have changed…air travel, ship travel, and the increased number of people doing so has made this an idea that needs to be changed but you don’t hear a peep out of Congress on that?

To TB’s knowledge, the first limitation on weapons was in the Depression due to the invention of the Thompson Submachine Gun (Tommy gun), used by crime fighters but also the big name criminals of that era. It was an unwieldy piece, sold equipped with the 20 shot ‘stick’ clip ($200) or an optional  50-round drum ($5 extra), or 20 round magazine ($3)! Sale was regulated in the National Firearms Act of 1934. No objections from the NRA, founded in 1871 then, apparently.

This brings us to the comments of Mark Shields on PBS. He stated in somber tones that he attended the funeral of Martin Luther King, three months later he was present when RFK was assassinated.  Since King’s assassination on March 4, 1968, there have been 1,620,000 firearm related deaths in this country (or over the 45 year period an average of 36,000 a year). If you count all the deaths in every war since this country’s founding you come up with just 650,000!!! That is 2-1/2 times as many in one-fifth the time! This got TB’s and some friends attention:

Max Fisher prepared the following story and chart: Chart of global gun-related killings

The U.S. has four-times as many gun-related deaths per capita than Turkey and Switzerland which are tied for third (Chile ranks number two), and you are 20-times more likely to be killed by a firearm here. Still the percentage is low and doesn’t warrant the panic buying of firearms that is going on today. Many if most of the guns sold today will never be used for self-defense and a far higher percentage will kill a friend, relative, or the owner themselves. It is this fact, along with two others that were drummed into TB at the L.A. Sheriffs Academy that should be a wake-up call. First, an accidental firearm discharge is more likely to wound or kill than one that is intentionally fired…amazing how those bullets without human intervention seem to find their mark…witness the drive-by shootings where innocent children are killed. Second, never…never draw a weapon unless you plan to use it…you will be forced to do so or possibly have it taken from you if you are unable to do so? No one knows how they will react in a confrontation.

TB will add another fact. Regardless of the NRA’s (by the way that middle initial stands for RIFLE not handgun, and has been stretched to include every weapon available for purchase), there is little or no negotiation with a gun. Do you feel threatened by someone bigger and stronger than you? Even if they are merely screaming at you? Then your own anger takes over and once the weapon is drawn even a reference to your mother could induce you to pull the trigger. Then what? Even if you are in the right you will have to defend yourself in court (we were told that in a split-second we would have to make a decision that would have to be defended five years later in a court of law…are you prepared to do that?), you will have to live with your actions…and relive them in dreams for the rest of your life. Was it worth it?

TB became involved in the case of a cop-killer in Texas awaiting execution, through someone close to him. The man’s name was Ron Howard Jr. and he was as opposite from the one you know that he was the mirror image…literally, he was black. At 17, he and some friends stole a car…joyriding. A Texas Ranger saw them driving too fast and turned and came back after them. When he leaned in the window, Ron picked up a gun lying on the seat and shot him fatally. He said he had no recollection of pulling the trigger. Just reacted. For his part Ron wanted to be spared the death sentence so he could teach kids the danger of pent-up anger. He did not ask for parole. In the end he died.

The Sandy Hook killers mother owned all of the guns legally. She was afraid of the direction the country was headed and bought these insanely powerful weapons. She likely trained at these with her son at Shooting Society of America ranges in Newtown, its headquarters. So afraid was she that she was killed by her own weapon by her own son.

As horrible as these events are they at least briefly focus our attention. Meanwhile, law abiding citizens turn in their weapons. But what about the silent mass murders going on daily in our cities? Who cares? These are hardly newsworthy anymore unless an innocent is shot…usually a child. Long live the NRA and its fools folly.

TB will now add a personal story (not an anecdote as it was anything but funny), and a few items from recent news articles:

One night while a sheriff, TB’s wife had gone out of town with friends for the weekend. He awakened to see the front door wide open and a shadow entering quietly. He got out of bed, took his .357 and aimed it at the target, yelling ‘freeze’ as loud as he could and as he had been trained. The shadow kept moving. Just as he was about to fire, he recognized the intruder as his wife, returning early as the trip went bust…only due to recognizing what she was wearing. No harm, no foul. But how differently the story might have ended.

In Minnesota, a man’s granddaughter was staying at the opposite end of the house when he was awakened to a noise on the front porch. He got up and fired two shots at it through the window. It was his granddaughter who had snuck out for a cigarette. He didn’t kill her but did hit her in the neck. He is now going to be prosecuted…he had no idea who was on the porch…could have been a policeman…a neighbor come to tell him of a problem…his granddaughter, who he thought he was protecting was the farthest thing from his mind. Think of the ‘wannabe’ cop in Florida who killed a young man for being black in a white neighborhood who was no threat to him and who he was told by the 911 operator to leave alone as police were on the way. Had he done so the boy would be alive

and he would not have to tell his story to a jury.

A man with three children kept a gun under his pillow. His six-year old and two-year old were playing on the bed and found it. The older boy shot and killed his younger brother, the father is on trial, and the family is heartbroken.

In New York, the mother of 7-year-old who took a gun to an elementary school in Queens, admitted she put the gun and ammunition in his Bat Man backpack and forgot to take it out when she sent him off to school. She was 53, old enough to know better, and is being held on several counts from criminal possession of a weapon to endangering the welfare of a child…this in a state with the toughest gun control laws in the country.

In Minnesota, a man who was convicted of murdering his mother with a gun in 1995 while a minor, posted on his facebook page a picture of him with his guns and sympathy for the Sandy Hook and Columbine killers. A detective who worked on the original case happened to see his name under persons certified as gun buyers. Only due to that were they able to apprehend him. He bought every weapon legally (although he transposed his first and middle name but last name was not a common one), since he was tried as a juvenile – and this is the scary part – he fell through the cracks…along with thousands of others most likely. What say you NRA? Budgets, incomplete information, etc. will make cases like these more likely. It only takes a few to continue the tradition of mass murders.

What does the NRA say to these? Nothing. Instead they seek out ludicrous examples. David Keene of the NRA said if you only have five shot clip and four or five men enter your home you will be unable to ‘take them all down.’ Good one, idiot! How many times have you heard of anything like this happening? None, zero, zip. The only one TB can imagine is a criminal sought out by his gang…and most are smart enough to not do it that way. TB does recall one case: the Manson family. Sharon Tate and others plus the LoBianco’s. In neither case would anything have saved them, it happened too fast!

The NRA also screams for controlling the ‘crazies’ access to guns, placing armed guards on every school. Do they have any idea of how many there are in this country? Would we place a policeman at every intersection to catch those who run red lights? A far more likely event. TB believes those standing around schools waiting for something to happen would be so bored that they would not be ready when an event actually occurred. Teachers armed? An even scarier thought. Imagine the mental anguish if they had to kill someone, even if it saved lives.

Then on Face the Nation, newly elected first-term Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) used this ridiculous example: there is a woman I know who lives alone in a house next door to a halfway house for crack addicts. She needs a gun to stop any of these people from coming in to rob her. Is that the best the first Latino senator from Texas can offer? This is a halfway house not a ‘crack house.’ It is more likely that IF they were to break in it would be when the knew she was away…then if they found her gun and she came home unexpectedly she would be the one shot.

How can the NRA use these examples with a straight face and refuse to act responsibly? Worse, how can someone be proud to be a member of an organization like this? Yesterday, George Will, while mocking gun control said that since Sandy Hook the NRA may have had as many as 250,000 new members…still not more than 1% and a doubtful statistic (?) that Mr. Will should be ashamed to quote without validation.

TB will leave you with this: the front page of the Minnesota Star-Tribune on Saturday had a picture of a man standing holding a Glock. He was a married man with a child who had been trying to convince his wife to let him buy a gun. She finally gave in and is now proud of his actions. He bought a small gun-safe with a combination lock. Will he be able to get it in time IF in the faintest of possibilities someone enters his home? Will he start keeping it under his pillow so he can get to it faster? Will the weapon be accidentally discharged and possibly cause injury or worse? But what really upset TB was the paper placing this picture on the front page as if endorsing these actions. “I’m just a normal guy  who wants chance to protect his family and fears is rights might get taken away.” There has been  no mention of further regulating handguns yet that is what is primarily being purchased. Give the media an ‘F’ on this one. As for the NRA claim that it is Hollywood, video games, etc. that is the cause, it may be a factor, and not a good one but it is more likely making it attractive to own a firearm.

Speaking of ‘F’s, is that the reason that members of both sides of the aisle are whining about Obama’s executive orders? These the same people who complain he won’t lead? Will lead he is doing over a Congress that has even ignored Reagan and seems more concerned with getting an ‘A’ rating from their benefactors the NRA. Kudos to him for taking a stand even while the NRA blast him over protection for his two girls. We have become one very sick country.

Hopefully you will reflect on this while you enjoy your day away from work.

TB

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