**

Portions of this post were originally posted October 6, 2015 about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. References early in the post refer to this incident. Reposted December 7, 2015, June 15, 2016, October 3, 2017.

It is sad that, nearly two years to the day, little to no action has taken place to stop the slaughter across our nation.

**

This morning on Minnesota Public Radio News, Representative Collin Peterson was asked about the Las Vegas shooting and what Congress should do.

His response was simple.

“Well this is an unbelievable tragedy that happened here. Hard to imagine. But it looks to me like we’re gonna have the same old tired debate we’ve had and I don’t think anything is going to happen, from what I see.”

He was asked if any gun legislation would be brought up in the House.

“Well, the problem that I have with all of this is that the solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem, so we’re having a debate about something that, in one case people want a response to figure out a way to deal with this, and then what’s being talked about wouldn’t have no effect at all and so you get into a debate about well we should do this because we have to do something. So I just don’t see anybody at this point coming up with anything, and I don’t see what anyone could do with an individual like this, who’s never been on the radar, he’s never caused any trouble, he’s never been on the radar screen of the police, he passed all the background checks, you know, so I don’t know what you could do that would intervene on an issue like that. That’s the issue.”

“The solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem”

This is not a dig at Collin Peterson. Representative Peterson has represented Minnesota’s 6th well through the years.

But the statement made today is reflective of far too many who lead.

“The solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem”

These were the excuses after Sandy Hook, where 20 elementary children, and a half dozen teachers died. The shooter was mentally unbalanced, and no one could have seen this coming.

“The solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem”

These were the excuses after Virginia, when 32 college students lives were taken by a fellow student.

“The solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem”

These were the excuses after 49 people were killed on the dancefloor and throughout the nightclub.

“The solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem”

Red Lake Falls, Minnesota. Killeen, Texas. San Bernardino, California. Fort Hood, Texas. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Littleton, Colorado. Roseburg, Oregon. New Orleans, Louisiana.

“The solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem”

The hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel was littered with 23 guns, including fully automatic rifles. Another 19 guns were found at his home.

“The solutions that are being pushed would not have fixed this problem”

There is no one size fits all solution to the problem that, literally, puts guns to the heads of our fellow citizens. There is no single answer to soften callused hearts, and to take blood money out of the pockets of leaders.

There is no good time to talk about this. Because now is a terrible time to have to ask why 59 persons were killed and over 500 injured while attending a concert. There is only time to mourn, and to tear at the air in anger, and curse the evil in the world, and pray for those lost. And to forget about it just as quickly as it started, as the next shiny object flits across our sightline. So, now, at the worst possible time, I repost. Please, please, PLEASE, take thoughts to heart, and spread this post if you see fit. Because change starts somewhere.


(Originally posted October 6, 2015, with some minor adjustments to reflect changes in Administrations.)

Beware, beyond here there be rants-

Three things-

First- I don’t usually repost rants. But I am tired of the non-debate.

I am tired of “our thoughts are with you” and “We’re praying for you”.

I am tired of the deaths of many and injuries of even more American citizens becoming so routine that news media has the tragic, “be afraid” music and the onscreen banners all ready to go.

I’m tired of our President, time after time, stepping up to the podium, denouncing the violence, calling for action to be taken, then being immediately condemned for “politicizing the tragedy” and “planning to take our guns away”.

I am tired of our leadership screaming that ISIS terrorists will be coming to America, when, in a little less than two months, our own citizens have killed more Americans than ISIS has in a year.

I am tired of this being the tragedy caused by one or two, when, in reality, this is a tragedy caused by one or two, but enabled by all of us, because we are too caught up in our own ease and comfort to stop the killing.

I am tired of refugees, men, women, and children who have fled the intolerance and death of their countries, being blamed for the mayhem that our native-born citizens have inflicted upon themselves.

I am tired of the hypocrisy of creating selective religious threats where none really exist.

See, this is not the America that I grew up with. This is the nightmare of what I imagined Russia and the Eastern Block looked like when I young. Lawless, ready to kill their own at a moment’s notices.

Second- talk about this.

If you like the ideas in the post, pass them on. Solutions don’t happen in a vacuum, and our leadership has shown an intense lack of interest in finding a solution for years. Maybe, we are the solution.

If you don’t care for what I’ve said, fine. Fine. Tell me where the problem spots are, but be specific. I have laid out specific ideas. Don’t just criticize. If you disagree, please give specific solutions to the problem.

Third- get off your ass and do something. Here’s a start-

  1. Contact you state and federal leaders.

(Note- when contacting your legislators, be sure to ask for a response if the choice is available. The response will probably be boilerplate and it usually takes a few weeks to get a response, but the response will usually give a better view of the person’s views on the matter.)

For North Dakotans

Governor Doug Burgum- http://governor.nd.gov/contact-us

State Legislature- http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/64-2015

Congressman Kevin Cramer- https://cramer.house.gov/contact

Senator John Hoeven- https://www.hoeven.senate.gov/contact

Senator Heidi Heitkamp- http://www.heitkamp.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

For Minnesota

Governor Mark Dayton- https://www.mn.gov/governor/contact-us/

Minnesota State Legislature- https://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/legdir

Representatives- http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Senator Amy Klobuchar- https://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/contact-amy

Senator Al Franken- https://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=contact

For all others

Governor & State Legislators- Google “Contact (state) Governor” or “Contact (state) Legislature”

Federal Representatives- http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Federal Senators- http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

President Donald J. Trump- https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

1. Vote and don’t be afraid to vote against political instinct. If the person that you have been supporting for years isn’t interested or concerned with the topic of perpetual mass killings in this country, they are not acting in your best interest. It may be time to find someone else.

I am a fan of President Obama and I make no bones about that. I also will say that, more often than not, he has been a positive voice for reflecting the spirit of our nation. On Thursday (October 1, 2015), among the words he said were, “Tally up the number of Americans who have been killed in terrorist attacks in the last decade, and the number of Americans killed by gun violence. Post those side by side. We spend over a trillion dollars, pass countless laws, and promote entire agencies to prevent terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths.”

This isn’t an unsolvable problem, if we want something done. The majority of Americans have expressed the need for some sort of reform (a July 2014 poll by Quinnipiac University shows that a majority of polled Americans support stricter gun control laws (50% for vs. 47% against & 92% in favor of stricter background checks) ( http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/211321-poll-most-gun-owners-support-universal-background-checks )). The demand is out there, so let’s solve this. Here are my thoughts.

2. Research this problem.

This seems simple, but it’s not happening. As I understand things, at present the Center for Disease Control has been given authorization from Congress to research gun violence and its causes. At the same time Congress has failed to fund the C.D.C. at levels needed to fully begin to get to the facts. Congress, get off your collective 535 butts, find the cash and start to research.

Why research? Because, right now we don’t know answers to simple questions, so anything with a trigger and a bullet gets lumped together. We assume that, at least in the case of mass killings, there is a question of mental stability until we find that this isn’t the case. We assume that the weapons were gathered legally, until they aren’t. We assume that more guns, more pubic carrying, less restriction on where weapons can be carried will solve the problem even though that notion makes absolutely no sense in historical context. When discussions of gun violence come up they end up lumped together because we have little to distinguish what has actually happened and end up with either the argument that “People are shot with guns. Guns must be the problem” or “Guns don’t kill, people kill”. We have no hard facts to prove this differently, so every time another shooting happens we must restart the conversation and reargue the same worn points.

 

3. This isn’t about the Second Amendment.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

To hear pro-gun citizenry tell it, the Second Amendment is the only thing keeping tyranny off our shores. I am trying to understand the vision of tyranny that our forefathers envisioned where our children are allowed to be placed in the crosshairs and murdered in classrooms in elementary schools and colleges, where God-fearing men and women are shot to death as they were studying their bibles, and where mothers, fathers, sons and daughters lives are taken at the hands of relatives. All with a well rehearsed wringing of hands and a total commitment to do nothing.

The only ones who can fix this are Republicans and they should take advantage of this. They can’t do it without help from Democrats, but they are in the position to see that their prime concerns, protection of the Second Amendment and the right to firearms, can be protected.

Here’s a numbers reality- To add an amendment to the Constitution, it must be submitted to Congress and receive a yes vote from 2/3 of the members of each House (67 Senators, 290 Representatives). From there it is submitted to each of the 50 state legislatures where 3/4 (38) of these states must approve the amendment. After this it is submitted to the Archivist, who certifies the amendment. The President and Supreme Court have nothing to do with the amendment process.

Another set of numbers (as of October 2017)- At the Federal level, Republicans hold a majority in the Senate (52 seats vs. 48 Democratic seats) and the House of Representatives (241 seats vs. 194 Democratic seats). At the state level, Republicans control both Houses of Legislature in 23 states and at least one house in another 20 states. 31 states also have a Republican Governor.

And yet one more crop of statistics. The President challenged the media to compare gun homicides with terrorist deaths in the United States. The challenge has been accepted on the Web and the results are chilling. Since 2001, we have seen more than 10,000 persons killed each year by firearms.  During the same period we saw nearly 2,700 citizens killed by terrorist actions in 2001, then 25 the following year.

( http://www.vox.com/2015/10/1/9437187/obama-guns-terrorism-deaths )

Some of the major arguments for avoiding some sort of real gun reform through the years have been-

  1. Obama wants to get rid of the Second Amendment (which he can’t, since the President has absolutely no part in the amendment process. Anyone who continues to say this is misinformed and is misinforming others).
  2. The Democrats want to get rid of the Second Amendment (which they can’t, because they don’t have anywhere near enough control at any level of Government. Again, misinformed and misinforming).
  3. The Second Amendment is sacrosanct and no law may be written to stifle our rights to own guns (which isn’t true, since we do have laws on the books that regulate who can and can’t have certain kinds of weapons. The laws just aren’t terribly effective).
  4. Guns keep us free. (Probably so, since no country with gun laws is as safe and free as the United States. Well, except for maybe Sweden. Or England. Or France. Or Norway. Or Iceland. Or Canada. Or Australia. Or Finland. Or Italy. Or Japan. Or Austria. Or Germany…)
  5. In April 2013, about four months after 20 elementary school children and 6 teachers were killed in their classrooms, a bill to strengthen background checks failed to pass the Senate, not because of a failure of gathering a majority of Senators, but, rather, because it didn’t gather enough votes beyond the majority. 54% of the Senate voted in favor of the measure, but couldn’t meet the 60% vote hurdle to clear cloture. This, despite having the popular support of 92% of the American public. ( http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/211321-poll-most-gun-owners-support-universal-background-checks ) The bill lost primarily because of NRA distortions of what the bill would do and also because of NRA promises to become a burden to any lawmaker in upcoming elections if they voted for the bill ( http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/294571-senate-rejects-tougher-background-checks-on-gun-purchases ).
  6. The National Rifle Association has a Republican driven membership. The NRA has provided election funding to around 88% of Republican candidates to Congress in 2012 (vs. about 11% of Democrats). (http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2012/12/18/nra-and-congress/ ). The Tea Party and NRA, at least symbolically, seem to be strongly associated as compatriots in rallies and meetings.

The bottom line? At this time the Republicans hold every single card that could change the murderous cycle that we have been trapped in. If the Republican Party had the will, and the inkling to compromise even a little, we could make laws that would protect both the Second Amendment and the Citizens of These United States in one fell swoop. No bad guys/good guys language, no make everyone carry a gun mentality. The GOP, with Liberal help, also has the votes and the power to amend the Constitution in a way that would preserve the primary intent of the Second Amendment while finally doing what their candidates were elected to do- work for their constituencies.

So here is my challenge to our political leaders in general and to the Republican majorities specifically- Before the November 2018 elections-

1. Clear the way to allow the CDC to effectively research gun deaths. This means passing effective authorization legislation and providing full funding for the research and publishing that information. If you don’t think that the CDC is the effective research source, then name an unbiased source that could be used in their place. This needs to be done now so that we can actually stop working in the dark when it comes to the causes of gun violence.

2. Develop and pass stopgap legislation that will reduce shooting deaths by 25% (approximately 3,000 persons) within 3 years. Back this up by signing a pledge that states that, if deaths are not reduced by 25% within 3 years, you will not run for reelection. If every Republican has the political courage to sign a no new tax pledge to a private organization, I think that asking this simple promise to your constituency is the least that you can do.

3. Develop, pass, and implement legislation that will continue to reduce gun violence deaths by 25% of the remaining total every 3 years for the next 12 years. This will not eliminate gun violence deaths (that is just not a realistic expectation) but will be a viable goal. Impossible? Maybe, but how many more innocent lives do we need to lose before we decide that this is important?

After the events of 2001 we saw the very fabric of our nation changed. We have seen entire new Federal departments created. We have seen Congress having a field day with setting up bureaucracies to better protect ourselves. After terrorist activity in Benghazi, and the deaths of four Americans, we have seen hearing after hearing after hearing after hearing on what people knew and when Hilary Clinton knew it. Maybe, with a little incentive, our leaders could actually do right for the 10,000 plus persons who will die in the next year because of our lack of attention.

Thus endeth the rant.

Advertisements