Monday, July 27, 2015

The Bullets that Killed Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill both wanted to drive up a hill. 
Jill drove a car, Jack drove a gun. Jill was successful, Jack couldn’t drive his gun. 
Jack and Jill were mad at each other. 
Jill took her car and aimed it all Jack, but he saw her coming, so he hid in the wood. 
She jumped out, grabbed her gun, and ran quickly after.
I wrote this nursery rhyme after a debate with a gun rights enthusiast that compared deaths by vehicular crashes to deaths by guns. His reasoning was that cars kill more people than guns, are more prevalent than guns, and therefore, controlling guns doesn't make sense.

Unfortunately, the statistics and the logic don't line up with his reasoning, either.

The most accurate accounting of vehicular deaths are from 2010. The number of people that died from the result of crashes in vehicle crashes in 2010 is approximately 33,000. A conservative estimate of annual gun deaths from the CDC is over 33,000 dead a year. This is a conservative estimate as not all deaths by guns are reported to the CDC or even reported to the police.

As we all know, cars are used much more frequently than guns are. People who drive cars often drive those cars on daily basis. Guns, on the other hand, are not used in daily life by the vast majority of those who own them. These guns are either used for personal protection, hunting or for recreation use. Guns are used to fire bullets in each of these uses. The only use that guns don't fire bullets are historical artifacts or family heirlooms.

Currently, there is much more involved in obtaining and maintaining a driver's license in the vast majority of United States than it takes to purchase and keep a gun. For a vehicle to be legal to drive, it needs to have a valid registration and insurance, not to mention a driver with a valid driver's license.

A gun does not require any of these things, not even insurance.

A vehicle you can see coming at you. Most often, a vehicle is driven on a road.

In a growing number of states, concealed weapons permits are being issued to gun owners. In some states that initially required permits and courses before obtaining these permits, even these minimal requirements are being rolled back.

So, even before these concealed weapons made it legal to carry weapons everywhere, a gun could be hidden from sight until right before it was used to fire those bullets, it's primary purpose.

You tell me. Can you see a gun coming at you better than you can a car? Can you ride a gun to work?

I'm certainly not against gun ownership. However, sensible legislation and sensible gun ownership has been taken off the table. The bodies continue to pile up . . . the limited background checks do we have aren't even universal. The patchwork quilt of state by state system we have between federal, state and local governments and institutions is not working either. 

Yet, you have presidential candidates pontificating on the stump calling for absolutely no gun-sense legislation, saying we should focus efforts on the mentally ill. These are these same candidates that have done nothing for their own state populations of mentally ill. In fact, in many cases, these candidates have cut services or denied services to the mentally ill.

If that isn't irony, it's certainly an iron nail in someone's coffin. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Focus on Veterans, Not Trump

Well, I'm not a Donald Trump defender, but his comments about John McCain’s war hero status are all so over combed. 

He did say McCain was a war hero, just not in the usual way a person would state that fact. 

I think this exposes that Republicans are desperate to get him to stop by any means necessary, and I believe they'll pay for it on the front end and the back end regardless of the present repercussions from his comments. 

The GOP has the WORST track record for supporting veterans. 

Trump has that much right. 

Democrats’ track record isn’t that much better. 

Project ARCH (, the pilot program to help veterans access care quicker and closer to their homes, is great on paper but when you ask actual veterans that have tried to use this and other recently enacted programs, the results are not all positive and multiple issues abound, including the VA not making timely payments for services rendered at non-VA facilities.

Those that didn't become prisoners are just as much heroes. Trump is right about that. 

Trump might be inarticulate about everything he says, but there's this ‘holier than thou’ approach to some veterans, and it hasn't helped other vets receive benefits after they served our country in good faith, now has it?

I have a friend today that is driving three hours just to get blood work drawn at the closest VA to her. That’s as ridiculous as it is ineffective and inefficient. A colossal waste of her time and resources. 

People want to slam Trump for his comments. I really think it's far too easy to slam someone for an inarticulate criticism of one person by applying it to everyone else that has a similar background.

Truth is that McCain is a war hero. It is true about his service during the war and while he was in captivity, that much should be undeniable. Does that mean people cannot criticize him or the outcomes of his efforts for veterans? 

Then, there are people that I have constantly heard over the last decade that declare if you are not a veteran that you can have no say against the opinion of a veteran or about war or about foreign policy or about a whole host of issues. 

Others take this declaration a step further with Trump since he had three student deferments and one medical deferment during the same Vietnam War that McCain became a POW.

Isn't saying someone doesn't have the right to disparage or criticize someone or some idea because of actions or inactions they took decades ago run perpendicular against their right to freedom of speech and expression? 

Again, for me, this isn't about defending Trump. This is actually about veterans. Trump is a great distraction, and, everyone wants to pile on Trump because of the way he chose to criticize McCain. 

Meanwhile, actual veterans aren't receiving actual benefits in a timely manner. Actual veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate. 

Actual veterans are being left behind by politicians who would rather quibble about a few disparaging words as opposed to pay for services for those who gave service to our country at great cost to not only themselves, but to their families and to their communities. 

Focus on the veterans, not on Trump. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Massacre: A Come Together Moment on Guns?

In the wake of the most recent massacre and deaths of a Navy Petty Officer and four Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee, many are concerned, perhaps rightly so, that our military bases and other domestic military installations are soft targets due to a decades long military directive instituted during the H W Bush presidency back in February of 1992 (DoD Directive 5210.56, February 25, 1992) . We should re-examine those directives and rethink how we defend our men and women that serve here in America.

However, some gun rights activists are using this incident to stoke fear that the government is going to take away Americans' guns and their Second Amendment rights to bear arms.

No one is talking about banning guns. 

Having people continuously say that the government or anyone reasonable within the government is talking about 'banning guns' or is going to take away people's guns as the first line in any discussion about gun violence in America is really ridiculous. 

Do we need access to assault weapons as Americans to be safe?

Does it make us safer for the gun manufacturing pipelines of automatic and semi-automatic weapons to be wide open? 

Would universal background checks make it easier or less easy for criminals to have access to new or used guns? 

Aren't those reasonable, debatable questions? 

This doesn't have to be some existential threat to Second Amendment rights of American citizens. But, let's at least have a rational, sensible discussion and not one that starts out with what will never happen and that is not even a remote possibility nor a potential reality.

Fear is not our friend. Fear is the fuel of our collective enemy.