Let’s Repeal Newer Gun Legislation, Not the 2nd Amendment

Unfortunately, I could not make it down to DC for the March last Saturday. I did, however, watch a lot of the events on News Channel 8 which is a sister station of WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Washington D.C. I do not know these students, but they made me proud. Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with their positions, I think these young people should be praised and not chastised or in some cases vilified. Yes, they had assistance with organizing. Who doesn’t need help with an operation of that size or one in a distant community?

On the local news, I saw a group of Moms from my area who helped find lodging with volunteer families for many students. Local vendors provided items and services at discounted rates and many donated their goods and services. I know that some airlines allowed groups to charter jets. Robert Kraft provided a Patriot aircraft for transportation. I have not seen any reports, but I suspect that teachers helped prepare speeches.

At the very least give credit to the young people who delivered remarks on stage. Public speaking has always been fear for many people, and how many of us have stood before so many people to speak into a microphone. I even agree with Rick Santorum because I hope these young people are learning CPR back in their communities.

I’ll disagree with Mr. Santorum because I believe that the young people participating in the various marches were engaged in active learning. More importantly, they were demonstrating what it means to be human. They care. It’s sad to me that many critics under the veil of our Constitution belittle these young individuals. Somehow the critics must have forgotten the idea that we are all supposed to have the same rights.

Let us all think back to the times when we were kids or teens in school. If you’re anything like me, I imagine that at least once you have thought or remarked that “THIS IS CRAZY” upon hearing the latest episode of school violence, violence in your or any community for that matter, or some shooting be it an individual, a mass shooting, or even some unintentional discharge resulting in the loss of life. For these young people, FOR OUR KIDS, this is their NORMAL not in a foreign land but here in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. These “crazy” events happen in urban areas, in rural communities, suburbia, exurbia, and the sticks. It’s nuts. Regardless of where one stands on the “gun control” / “gun rights” debate, we should all agree that what’s happening in our country today in terms of violence needs to stop.

How to stop the violence. How to stop the bullying. Those are questions that we need to talk about together. We need to communicate with one another and stop shouting without listening. From my observations, that’s what these young people are really advocating. They don’t have all the answers just like my generation doesn’t have all the answers. They’re just the ones who have spent their entire lives with this “NEW NORMAL.” Folks, Enough is Enough.

I see these 15 minutes of fame pundits (well it’s more like 15 hours thanks to all the social media) asserting that these young people have no real plans of action or are too focused on what are just artificial scapegoats in guns and the NRA. They say the students neglect the root causes of society.

I call BS.

Look, I don’t think firearms are the sole reason for the violence and discord.

I’ve seen all these social media memes, listened to pundits, and read some well-researched arguments about how guns aren’t the issue. All relevant points and I do believe that the core of the gun violence problems/school discipline problems / poor worker attitude / poor supervisor or management attitude / seemingly fewer manners / seemingly less common courtesy / just a general lack of respect / etc., etc., etc., is society in general.

That said, take your pick as to what aspects of society. It could be bad parenting, being too lenient or soft, pushing people beyond a breaking point, television, video games, social media, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I don’t know, and I don’t have a solution.

Well, I do have a means to a solution which is everyone putting aside their egos and biases for real discussions and then working together on what is practically an infinite number of problems. Many of these problems are unique to that location so a single answer isn’t the right answer everywhere. I just know that nothing will change if we insist on talking at one another instead of with one another. I can’t be alone in my repetition of that belief.

Yesterday I heard the argument that these students and people like me should care more about abortion because more lives are lost there.

Perhaps.

Here, I’m not typing about abortion. I’m not typing about repression or an individual’s right of control over their own body. I’m not typing about “pro-life” being equated with “pro-birth.” I’m not typing about the unborn.

I’m most certainly not SHAMING any woman. I’m most certainly not disparaging the March For Life.

I asked the critic. What besides overturning Roe v. Wade and defunding Planned Parenthood do you propose to stop abortions?

I didn’t hear anything about the complex societal or social problems that might contribute to abortions. What about the cost of health care or other issues of poverty for example? Aside from being more “pro-life,” SCOTUS, Planned Parenthood and intimidating or demeaning young girls and women, I honestly feel challenged to think about what else this critic felt could or should be done. This exchange was like so many others of which I’ve heard or been a part.

Support adoption?

I’m obviously pro-adoption. If I wasn’t then I would not be an adoptive father. I can also talk your ear off about how difficult it is to adopt a child. If a biological parent had to complete all the paperwork, undergo all the background checks, provide details about one’s life in every state where one has lived since the age of 18, various safety inspections of one’s home, all the references, and then take a financial hit from closing retirement benefits accrued at a previous job in another state, I truly believe that the number of unwanted or unintentionally pregnancies would drop significantly which might in turn reduce the number of abortions.

I got off topic and repetitive, but can people just agree that many of the issues that lead to abortions are the same as issues that lead to violence?

Back to the point:

As a Professor of US Political and Southern History, I can argue about interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. Admittedly I believe that the legal interpretation during 217 years of precedent from ratification in the year 1791 until the SCOTUS decision in Heller is more accurate than the new legal interpretation we have had for about the past 10 years. Your opinion may differ.

I’m certainly not anti-gun. As a rural farm boy in South Louisiana, I often had my .22 rifle in my truck when I drove to school. Most friends had shotguns or rifles in their trucks as well. Unlike them, I did not hunt, but I encountered my fair share of cottonmouths and copperheads out on the water fishing or running my lines. None of us ever thought about using a firearm on campus. A gun is a tool. Too much power is just as dangerous as too little power. For example, it would have been asinine for me to use that .22 or my Glock if for some reason I went deer hunting or knew that I might encounter a large nuisance gator. Likewise, if I used my 30/06 to take out a field mouse running toward the berry fields instead of the woods while I was bush hogging or baling hay that would have been stupid as well.

I agree that criminals do not obey laws.

I’ll also argue that laws are necessary in a free society. It’s true that to have freedom one must sacrifice freedom. Discipline isn’t an enemy. It’s the extremes that we need to fear, and a proper balance that we must strive to obtain. That’s what our Founding Fathers accomplished with the drafting and ratification of our Constitution. We aren’t a monarchy. We aren’t a democracy. We are a Republic.

I do think certain laws are needed. Old ones need to be enforced and in some cases, new ones need to be written and adopted. I get frustrated if I must wait for a red light, but I wouldn’t want to drive where every intersection is a 4-way stop or involves a round-a-bout. It’s scary to think of an America today without traffic signals. When it comes to guns, however, any mention of a law seems to lead to nothing but arguments.

I have my ideas about reforms, but I’m going to pitch a hanging curveball for either side to hit out of the park. For gun control, how about if we REPEAL specific restrictions about guns.

No, I’m not advocating a repeal or any changes to the 2nd Amendment. I lack both the eloquence and knowledge of retired Justice John Paul Stevens.

For those criticizing Justice Stevens, he did not suggest the confiscation of guns. He understands, better than most of us, that the repeal of an amendment requires a new amendment to be ratified. Unlike most of us walking the planet today, he witnessed the only time in US history when such an action happened. I do not know his intent, but I read his Op-Ed as another attempt to facilitate rational discussion based upon the facts today and historical precedent.

YES, I said REPEAL some restrictions, and restrictions that only became enacted since I became an adult.

With this proposal, guns would be considered just like other tools. Guns are powerful and can be deadly, but so can several tools or “modern” conveniences/tools such as automobiles.

If I recall my statistics accurately, the National Center for Health found that the likelihood of death due to an incident with any motor vehicle is approximately 1 in 100. For comparison sake, the chance of death from cancer or heart disease is something like 1 in 6. The chance of death from a foreign-born terrorist is in the ballpark of 1 in 45,000 while suicide or poisoning (including overdoses) is in the 1 in 100 range.

The chance of death due to an assault with a gun is about 1 in 300+.

In other words, there are certainly things more likely to result in death or injury than firearms and things less likely such as being dying as a victim of a cataclysmic storm which is about 1 in 66,000. I knew people who died because of all the conditions or events typed above, and I mourned those who passed regardless of how. A life is still a life, and a death is still a death. Whether one (1) or ten thousand (10,000), humankind is affected and thus am I and you because we are part of humankind.

Keeping those general statistics in mind, let’s repeal 3 statutes that our system codified in “modern” times.

These happened after I turned 18, and I had graduated from high school where my friends and I kept firearms in our vehicles parked on school grounds. It seems like everyone argues in favor of the “olden” days when things apparently weren’t “Crazy.”

Obviously, violence is not new, but I’m just asking if your or my 2nd Amendment rights were being violated prior to these statutes that I suggest we repeal to at the very least start over from those “olden” days when my generation walked the schools as students?

  1. The Dickey Amendment that is part of Public Law 104–208 which passed in 1996.

Yes, repeal a law that has only been on the books for 22 years. I know that the recently passed Omnibus funding bill makes alterations to Dickey, so please spare me that argument.

What the omnibus doesn’t address, however, is that for those adjustments to mean anything then the Tiahrt Amendments need to be addressed so:

  1. The Tiahrt Amendment that became attached permanently to DOJ Appropriations in the fiscal year 2007. It began as a rider to DOJ Appropriations in the fiscal year 2003. One can easily look up DOJ Appropriations for any year which I encourage readers to do.

Here, I’ll just link 2 pieces about Tiahrt from different perspectives, Gifford Law Center and NRA-ILA.

Yes, repeal something that first appeared in 2003 or 15 years ago. It’s true that Congresses since the 110th which made Tiahrt a permanent attachment have passed subsequent legislation altering its original scope. Still, nobody seems to agree about what information can and cannot be obtained because of the quagmire.

Let’s just repeal Tiahrt.

  1. 15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 enacted into law in 2005.

Yes, repeal a law that has been on the books for less than 13 years. I know, the avoidance of lawsuits and burdening our court system is a given. Other industries do have similar, although more limited protections. I’m not denying that fact.

Yet, just compare the industry often used to “prove” the argument that this law is necessary for the firearms industry. Remember this protection only began at the federal level in 2005 or 214 years following the ratification of the 2nd Amendment.

The automobile industry:

Can you imagine today if buyers of cars today were anti-safety instead of anti-regulation? If not for the threat of liability and regulations, seatbelts would not have been mandated and standardized in 68. State’s would not have passed laws requiring usage. Air bags would not have been required for all cars since 1998. Manufacturers would not have experimented with and marketed safety mechanisms such as crumple zones and anti-lock brakes.

Today, people would not seek out additional safety features such as:

  • Automatic emergency braking (AEB):
  • Forward-collision warning (FCW):
  • Blind-spot warning (BSW):
  • Rear cross-traffic warning: Visual, audible, or haptic notification of object or vehicle out of rear camera range, but could be moving into it.
  • Rear automatic emergency braking (Rear AEB): Brakes are automatically applied to prevent backing into something behind the vehicle. This could be triggered by the rear cross-traffic system, or other sensors on the vehicle.
  • Lane-departure warning (LDW):
  • Lane-keeping assist (LKA):
  • Lane-centering assist: Continuous active steering to stay in between lanes (active steer, autosteer, etc.)
  • Adaptive cruise control: Adaptive cruise uses lasers, radar, cameras, or a combination of these systems to keep a constant distance between you and the car ahead, automatically maintaining a safe following distance. If highway traffic slows, some systems will bring the car to a complete stop and automatically come back to speed when traffic gets going again, allowing the driver to do little more than pay attention and steer.

Sure, some of those technologies work far better than others. There’s always room for improvement, but most of that list are things developed after the year 2005. What if firearms saw similar advancement during that same period?

Think about it. The number of deaths due to vehicle accidents is lower today than it was prior to my birth. Does anyone really think the reason for the drop is less cars on the roads or better and less distracted drivers?

Why can’t gun manufacturers do the same as car manufacturers? Again this law providing additional protections for the gun industry passed 214 years after the ratification of the 2nd Amendment.

Remember that I’m not suggesting touching the 2nd Amendment, the modern legal interpretation, or adding any new laws. I’m proposing doing away with changes enacted in 1996, 2003 (became permanent in 2007), and 2005.

Please consider:

The Dickey Amendment technically did not ban gun research, only advocacy. Its real goal and one it easily achieved, was to scare federal agencies into thinking twice about even collecting data that might reflect badly on gun ownership.

Tiahrt prevents the opportunity for the public to experience and demand newer technology. It limits the effectiveness of laws on the books by handcuffing law enforcement. It prevents the release of necessary data to conduct legitimate research upon which to base rational arguments.

15 U.S. Code Chapter 105 affords the gun industry-specific protections that other industries do not have. Others have some protections, but not to the same degree and scope as firearms.

Perhaps you might not care about possible technological advancements in safety, but this law also affects your pocketbook. Sure prices have increased for practically everything except for our paychecks, but seriously look at what the cost difference for essentially the same firearm is today than it was back when we were the age of the students Marching For Our Lives. Now think about the cost of ammo from back in those “good ole days” to now.

Could it be that the gun lobby has too much power?

Is the NRA really protecting 2nd Amendment rights or their financial interests? Prior to the Harlon Carter takeover of the NRA in 1977, I would have said that the NRA sought safe and proper usage of all firearms as its primary mission. Please don’t take my word, research for yourself how the organization has changed since the events that occurred in 1977.

Today, I see the organization as one that limits innovation, research, and in fact, advocated and succeeded in banning more weapons than Barack Obama managed as President. Yes, I know about the state law in Massachusetts, but that is a single state. The Armatix may not have been the right choice for everyone, but it should have at least been a choice.

Please in what type of sanity is a .22 deemed more dangerous and threatening to one’s safety than say a .500 S&W Magnum or an AR-15? Sure all can kill, but which has more force or the ability to fire the greatest number of rounds in the shortest amount of time.

One just cannot cross the NRA without suffering the consequences. Public opinion is to the point where one does not even feel the emptiness in their pocketbook because they want to believe the message at any costs.

Consider the case of Smith & Wesson when the company announced a move to increase gun safety in 2000.

Perhaps you don’t agree with these students marching. That’s your right just as they have the right to march. These children are our future. Agree or disagree at least they are attempting to create dialogue. I think we have many complex issues that need to be addressed. I don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to communicate and at least try to work together. If you feel threatened by these students, perhaps the problem is looking you in the mirror. If you feel it necessary to belittle or ridicule these young people, then what hope to do we have as a country?

Don’t accept what you want to hear as the truth, especially when the information comes from big money. Do some research and learn about the past which is filled with both mistakes and accomplishments.

I’m proud of the young people speaking out and saying that Enough is Enough.

Advertisements

Please God I’m 16 and Didn’t Try to Get Murdered

You didn’t know me, and I never met you. Still, you act like I need to apologize to you because I died.

I don’t think you understand, but I wasn’t ready to die.

I experienced what I once read, seemingly a long time ago, maybe yesterday, perhaps this morning, from a Dear Abby column that Mom or possibly Dad put on the door of the refrigerator. YOU DID NOT!

I think it was like this, but I don’t know for sure. You’re yelling for all to hear, but I can’t hear you. I’M THE ONE WHO GOT MURDERED!

A portion of that column on the refrigerator door:

“It doesn`t matter how the accident happened. I was goofing off–going too fast. Taking crazy chances. But I was enjoying my freedom and having fun. The last thing I remember was passing an old lady who seemed to be going awfully slow. I heard a deafening crash and I felt a terrible jolt. Glass and steel flew everywhere. My whole body seemed to be turning inside out. I heard myself scream.

Suddenly I awakened; it was very quiet. A police officer was standing over me. Then I saw a doctor. My body was mangled. I was saturated with blood. Pieces of jagged glass were sticking out all over. Strange that I couldn`t feel anything.

Hey, don`t pull that sheet over my head! I can`t be dead. I`m only 17. I`ve got a date tonight. I`m supposed to grow up and have a wonderful life. I haven`t lived yet. I can`t be dead.

Later I was placed in a drawer. My folks had to identify me. Why did they have to see me like this? Why did I have to look at Mom`s eyes when she faced the most terrible ordeal of her life? Dad suddenly looked like an old man. He told the man in charge, “Yes, he is my son.“

The funeral was a weird experience. I saw all my relatives and friends walk toward the casket. They passed by, one by one, and looked at me with the saddest eyes I`ve ever seen. Some of my buddies were crying. A few of the girls touched my hand and sobbed as they walked away.

Please–somebody–wake me up! Get me out of here! I can`t bear to see my mom and dad so broken up. My grandparents are so racked with grief they can hardly walk. My brother and sisters are like zombies. They move like robots. In a daze, everybody! No one can believe this. And I can`t believe it, either. Please don`t bury me! I`m not dead! I have a lot of living to do! I want to laugh and run again. I want to sing and dance. Please don`t put me in the ground. I promise if you give me just one more chance, God, I`ll be the most careful driver in the whole world. All I want is one more chance.

Please, God, I`m only 17!”

I wasn’t in a car, on the road. I did not see or feel glass and steel everywhere. I wasn’t goofing off or taking crazy chances. I was sitting in my desk in English class. I was listening to Coach Arnold recite a poem by Emily Dickinson.

“ I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –

The Stillness in the Room

Was like the Stillness in the Air –

Between the Heaves of Storm –

The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –

And Breaths were gathering firm

For that last Onset – when the King

Be witnessed – in the Room –

I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away

What portions of me be

Assignable – and then it was

There interposed a Fly –

With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz –

Between the light – and me –

And then the Windows failed – and then

I could not see to see –

I never had the opportunity. Well maybe I did, but I never thought about willing my keepsakes away.

I did not see a fly or hear it buzz.

I HEARD SCREAMS. I HEARD GUNSHOTS COMING FASTER THAN I COULD COUNT.

The only other thing I recall is Please God, I’m only 16. I won’t be 17 until the summer.

MY MURDER HAS INCONVENIENCED YOUR LIFE AND YOU TALK ABOUT WHY:

Look, I’m sorry that more people die in car accidents. I lost a close friend because something ran into the road, and he swerved. He would have been OK if it had happened at any other place on that road, but it happened where they were working on the highway. Instead of just being stuck in the ditch, his car hit that big machine and it fell, crushing my friend’s car.

A gun is something that can kill. That’s the purpose of the tool, just like a garden hose is manufactured to transport water some distance away from the spigot. Practically anything can kill. Some can kill more animals or people faster; some requires skill and training to use to kill one or many; some only require a finger, a toe, or anything to pull a trigger.

I admit that I don’t know much about guns. Dad owns several that he keeps locked in his gun safe. He can break each down and put it back together blindfolded, but I can’t.

Last winter, he took me hunting and I shot and killed a deer. He said it was a spike. I only know that it had antlers, and we ate the venison. I’ve shot all of his guns at one time or another. He always supervised and was strict that I do exactly as he told me whenever I handled a gun. No, he wasn’t mean. He spoke with me the same way when he showed me how to use any of his tools. Mom did the same helping me learn how to drive the car. I don’t love guns, but I don’t hate them either. I’d just rather ski in the winter or do anything where I’m running or jumping than just sitting and waiting for some deer to walk by.

People talk about guns for self-defense, but I’ve never carried a gun for that purpose. I have studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for four years now. We focus about how to avoid an attack. If an attack cannot be avoided, we learn how to escape. If we cannot escape, we learn how to control the attacker. Mom has been studying for the last two years with me. She even used what she learned when a thug tried mugging her. Even Dad, who was a Marine for 20 years has started training.

Is it foolproof? I don’t think so, but what is? If I gun was then why do police officers get killed? If it’s gun free zones, why did all those officers and others get murdered in Texas? Whether it’s one person or 1000 people, murder is still murder.

WOULD CARRYING A GUN PROTECT ME? I DON’T KNOW. I DIDN’T EVEN SEE THE PERSON WHO MURDERED ME SO IT PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE MATTERED.

I know that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu requires muscle memory. So does skiing. So does soccer. Your skills fade without practice. Handling a gun can’t be any different.

Dad doesn’t have the same muscle memory or efficiency with a weapon like he had while serving in the military. He doesn’t have the same level of awareness that he had out on the battlefield. My Uncle who is a police officer is required to do a lot of training each year. Maybe you could get lucky with your handgun and avoid 30 rounds while landing one to stop a killer. If my Uncle can’t do it all the time during his training simulations when he knows that he will have to shoot. If Dad could not do it on the battlefield when he knew the enemy was likely in the next building. Don’t claim that I could. If you can, prove it to our military and law enforcement and get a job helping them if you are that good.

I don’t see the relevancy that you do but for your information, I can’t tell anyone anything about Planned Parenthood or the NRA. I can, however, name every member of my state’s congressional delegation thanks to Mrs. Rhodes and Civics class. I made and A in my history class. I can talk about the Constitution because I compete in the oratory contest that the American Legion holds. This year I came close to going to nationals in Indianapolis. I finished second in the entire state. I wasn’t disappointed because this was only my second year to compete in the contest. Thanks Mrs. Rhodes, Coach Arnold for the public speaking help, and of course Mr. Perkins for teaching history and helping me find primary sources for my speeches. Maybe next year…

Wait, there isn’t a next year. Someone walked into my classroom and murdered me.

I appreciate the thoughts and prayers. Really I do.

I just want to know why you seem so put off, so vocal, so demanding that my death somehow hurts your rights?

Why does my death mean less than all these statistics you cite about how other people died?

Why are my friends and classmates being vilified for asking questions and wanting to prevent others and even themselves from being murdered like me?

They don’t have a magical solution that’s 100 percent effective.

You don’t either.

They’re concerned because they experienced this terror.

You’re concerned why?  It’s not because you think you’ll be next.  It’s because my being murdered is a threat to your way of life.

I’M SORRY THAT OTHER PEOPLE DIED BEFORE ME. I’M MEETING SOME OF THOSE PEOPLE WHERE I’M AT RIGHT NOW. SOME WERE MURDERED JUST LIKE ME. WHO DID AND IT AND HOW THEY DID IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER TO US RIGHT NOW. WE’RE ALL DEAD, AND I KNOW THAT I WASN’T READY TO DIE JUST YET.

IF I MEET SOMEONE MURDERED WHO WAS READY TO BE MURDERED, I’LL TRY TO LET YOU KNOW.

For now, I’ll just say that I’m sorry that my being murdered makes you feel like someone will make your life inconvenient. No offense, but I feel more sorry for my family and friends who knew me. I just want to limit the chances of someone else getting murdered. My friends feel the same way. That’s why we’re trying to be heard.

I’M SORRY MY BEING MURDERED INCONVENIENCES YOU!!!!

PLEASE GOD, PLEASE EVERYONE, I WAS ONLY 16.

To Remember: Hashtag WeRemember

Totalitarian Authoritarian:  charismatic leader who promotes an aura of being a bigger than man; a divine savior and thus is not recognized as a tyrannical power; obsessed ruler who impose their will through fear and loyalty by rewarding those that collaborate with them and diminishing, demeaning, discrediting, and eventually silencing the voices of those who oppose the message of the leader.  Uses political parties and mass organizations to make people believe and do whatever is necessary to reach a goal.  Emotionalism unchecked and always in need of an enemy which can be real, perceived, or created when necessary.

Native American Indians, Armenia, Holodomor, Dekulakization, The Holocaust, The “Killing Fields,” Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur…

Marches, Tears, Terrors, Purgings, Repressions, Crimes Against Humanity, Classicide, Democide, Genocide, Politicide…

Blind, Deaf, Ignorance, Naivety, Willing, Unaware…

Lest We Forget……

#WeRemember

Whenever, Wherever, However…

By Any Definition, Classification, Descriptor, Name…

We Need to Care.  We Need to Think.  We Need to be Aware.

Lest We Forget…

#WeRemember

Meryl Streep: The Horror

Let me say that I do not watch award shows.  When a “famous” individual puts forth an opinion outside of their areas of knowledge or “expertise” I honestly don’t give that opinion credibility just because the person stating is well-known.

I just don’t understand the uproar about Meryl Streep.  She did not discuss political parties, policies, and did not call President Elect Trump by name although there were no doubts to whom she referred.  Before addressing the Trump incident she stated:

“An actor’s only job is to enter the lives of people who are different from us and let you feel what that feels like.”

Following a sentence about powerful acting performances, she continued:

“There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

One more thing. Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy. We should all be very proud of the work Hollywood honors here tonight.

As my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once, take your broken heart, make it into art. Thank you.”

What I read is that acting is different from being in real life.

Agree or disagree with Donald Trump, he says some things that people would be offended by if stated directly to them or perceived to be about them.  When those same things are said about another, then the feelings often change.  I’m not suggesting anyone here is a hypocrite, but I’m contending that to some degree we are all like a line from Hoosiers.  To paraphrase, there are 2 kinds of crazy:  1) a feller rips off his clothes and runs out in the street barking at the moon and 2) a feller does the same thing in my house.  The first doesn’t really matter, but the second….

Hopefully everyone agrees that people want and attempt to emulate others, especially those who are popular, have power, or who we want to be regardless of whether that feeling is realistic or wise.  My personal opinion is that we all have responsibilities and to whom much is given much is expected so the more popular, powerful, or better you are at anything means that you have more responsibility.  I may be taking out of context, but Charles Barkley was correct in that athletes should not be role models even though he was mistaken in that by being an athlete he had the responsibility to try and set examples.  It’s the same as me telling my child to do what I say, not what I do.

I read from Meryl Streep’s transcript that if someone powerful tries to bully then it gives others justification to do the same.  “Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence.”

I agree that we need a principled press, and I’ll add a free press.  Even before the US existed, we had the legal precedent on this soil that truth is a defense.

As far as her putting down on the non-elites, those who pay to watch her perform her job, I can see that interpretation if one stops reading after the 2nd paragraph.  Near the conclusion, however, this stands out more to me:

“Once when I was standing around on the set one day whining about something, we were going to work through supper, or the long hours or whatever, Tommy Lee Jones said to me, isn’t it such a privilege, Meryl, just to be an actor. Yeah, it is. And we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy.”

Didn’t she just say that it’s a privilege to just be an actor and those who have privilege sometimes need reminders that they have the responsibility of being empathetic to those without the privileges?  Now some may not believe that empathy is a responsibility, but I think it’s necessary to appreciate any blessings you have been given or have earned.

Personally I don’t any sticks or stones thrown by Meryl Streep from her soapbox, and if those words bruise or pierce the skin I think the person may have health issues.  Most Hollywood elites won’t know working class people, but the same is true for most politicians.  It’s the same with many in upper management or in upper administration in academia.  Even for those who worked their way up through the ranks, it’s too easy to forget where you started.  Often where you ultimately end can be decided from where you start.  We tend to forget that, and that is what should be outrageous to all.

Transcript taken from:

The Louisiana Flood: Press, Politics, and People

Shock, stress, despair, disbelief, fatigue, exhaustion, more stress, perseverance, work at home, work at a neighbor’s, work at family member’s, work at a friend’s, work at a colleague’s, work at a stranger’s, disbelief again, more fatigue, exhaustion taking roots, and knowing that you will repeat this seemingly perpetual cycle.  That’s present-day life in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, for my family, lifelong friends, people who taught me, those who encouraged me, those I’ve battled, those who drive me up a wall, those for whom I would take a bullet, those I’ve yet to meet, and those who I may never meet.

Sheriff Jason Ard yesterday gave a preliminary estimate of 75 percent of the homes in the Parish impacted with between 2 and 8 feet of water, and with rivers in the southern portion yet to crest the numbers will likely increase.

Approximations are that between 15 and 20 thousand rescues took place although that number is surely higher considering the efforts of citizens using their own boats to bring people to dry ground.

With waters receding in areas, the number of shelters for the displaced dropped from 8,500 to 1,244.

According to the Twitter feed of Dr. Mathew Sitkowski of the Weather Channel, the total rainfall from 12 to 14 August over southern Louisiana was the equivalent to more than 4 trillion gallons of water, enough to easily fill 6 million Olympic size swimming pools.  In Watson which is located in the northeastern section of Livingston Parish and home to the Live Oak Eagles who back in school days was one of our district rivals, 31.39 inches of rain fell during this span of time.  Even more rain followed.

Where, What, How, and Why

The Parish is a bit larger than 700 square miles in area with a population of approximately 138,000 residents.  I describe the location as being at the top of the foot, near the ankle, of the boot shaped state.  The population has tripled since I was a kid running barefoot through the fields and doubled since I graduated from the public school system.

Yep the area has changed, and I’m not talking about an additional weight of what?

(1 US Gallon weighs approximately 8.344 pounds – the history prof asked the physics prof)

– a trillion has 12 zeroes following the 1 so the water weight would be approximately the result of this equation:

  • 4,000,000,000,000 X 8.344  =  33,376,000,000,000,000 pounds  (maybe)

– the physics prof has left, so she can’t grade my head figures, but correct or not that’s a heck of a lot of water.

Returning to my comfort zone and professional history hat,

I recall stories as a child and later conducting formal oral history interviews with folks talking about how much changed when portions of Interstate 12 opened in 1967, ten years after its initial planning.  By 1976, the approximately 86-mile span was completed.  I wonder how many interstate overpasses had cattle guards just before entrances, and those cattle guards stayed well into in adulthood.   It’s only in the past 10 or so years that large gas stations and convenience stores with chain restaurants inside appeared off the Albany/Springfield Exit 32.  In many ways that exit seems more like the Walker exit of old, but today Walker is like Denham Springs and getting off on Range at Denham is just like exits in Baton Rouge.  Did I say the area has changed?

It causes one to ponder how a nondescript area to outsiders stood through well-known forces of nature.  Before my time, Hurricanes Betsy and Camille left their marks but came and went.  For me personally, Hurricane Andrew is memorable because of the power outages for weeks and trees downed.  As I discovered recently up here in Maryland, operating a chainsaw and swinging an axe are really like riding a bicycle.  With Andrew I helped cut pathways through toppled trees on many a road for folks to be able to return to their homes.

There were other storms during my time in the Free State, but I wasn’t there when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area.  I sat in my office in Georgia watching live feeds on the computer as students and other faculty saw me with that look of disbelief on my face.  Apart from my stress of not being able to contact family and friends for days and being unable to get to the state because of all the damage in surrounding states, my neck of Livingston Parish stood up well to Katrina’s fury.

Hurricane Rita hit the area a bit harder, Hurricane Isaac brought nearly 2 feet of rain as recorded in Hammond, Louisiana, about 8 miles to the east in Tangipahoa Parish, and Hurricane Gustav delivered the most damage to family and friends until…

Until rain.  No named storm, no high winds, no storm surges, not even a tropical system but just continuous pounding rain.

I know that many people think of Louisiana as flood prone.  It is in many areas, but that’s not the case in Livingston Parish.  Yes, the Parish has areas that flood even beyond the official flood zones.  Residents, however, know those areas.  They prepare, they sandbag, and most will evacuate with time to spare.

August 2016, however, was different.  It was historic.  It was unprecedented.  Rivers crested at more than double flood stage.

Areas that never had standing water saw not inches but feet.  My Dad’s house at the edge of my Grandpa’s old berry farm never saw any water from the little river running north and south about a mile to the east for at least 100 years.  This time, however, one could have floated a bateau over land cleared of pine 100 + years ago and farmed by generations.  Unlike the years before my birth, the property had the additional protection afforded by Hwy 43 running north and south at the eastern property line standing as a ley.  It’s really difficult to see photos of that land after this rain and flooding because the possibility never really crossed my mind.  I shudder to envision years past and the state of the property back then if the backflow flood waters did not have to breach about a 5 foot barrier as they did the other day.

Inside the town limits of Albany, the water reached levels that seemed improbable, no impossible, right up until it rose that high.  Homes and businesses that had never taken water inside the structure from every storm past, had floodwaters lapping over the peaks of their rooftops.  Prior to a few days ago, these businesses may have experienced inches of water standing in the parking lots.  Some even sandbagged “just in case” and for an additional barrier from the wake created by trucks on the highway.  With this “no name” storm, wake came from boats as one unfamiliar with the area might not realize that a road existed underneath the equivalent of being out on Lake Maurepas unless their prop struck the hood of a submerged 4-wheel drive truck.

Earlier I typed “little river” because we do call the Lil Natalbany a river even though the official classification would be as a stream.  A stream that is only navigable by boat a few miles downstream.  One can float a canoe or a pirogue under the Highway 190 bridge, but you would need to walk a bit before floating again near the Old Baton Rouge Highway bridge.  Launching something with a small outboard motor requires going further south to Springfield.  From there on the Natalbany one could eventually make their way into Lake Maurepas and then go to Lake Ponchartrain, Lake Borgne, and then into the Gulf of Mexico.  If I would ever want that adventure, I’d drive just a bit further toward Killian and start out on either the Blood or Tickfaw rivers and even then that would be quite a lengthy boat trip.

My point is that nobody is to blame for this natural disaster.

Nobody started a fire intentionally or allowed one to get out of control and spread.

The vast majority of people were neither negligent nor unprepared with their property.

People did not try to wait knowing that doing so would necessitate others risking their own lives to save the foolish or stubborn who failed to heed to evacuation orders or recommendations.

This devastation happened, and I don’t think any technology could have prevented it from happening.  Historically I know that one must twist, bend, and really break comparables to other areas or eras to make them seem applicable.

I think that Governor John Bel Edwards made the initial disaster declaration and the formal request for a federal declaration in a timely fashion.  I think that President Obama signed the authorization much faster than what has been the norm by both he and the living presidents.  I think that FEMA Director W. Craig Fugate has been responsive from the very beginning.

There is, however, little that the federal or state government can do in the early stages at least that are not better handled by local government.

I don’t recall ever meeting the current Parish President, Layton Ricks, but even though I haven’t seen him in years or spoken to him since becoming Sheriff I do know Jason Ard along with many of the elected officials in the local communities.  These individuals, their teams, and so, so, so, many volunteers worked to the point of exhaustion and then an additional 8 or so hours after exhaustion had set in before collapsing in worn out heaps before starting over again the second they caught their breath.  Nobody could have asked or expected more from these locals and the assistance they rendered to friends, neighbors, and strangers.  Volunteers coming from other areas did the same.

Nobody had time for photo-ops, and honestly using resources to provide for officials when so many were and are in need is a genuine waste in my opinion.  At the federal level it makes far more sense to have Director Fugate or Secretary Jeh Johnson of Homeland Security on the scene versus President Barack Obama or any President or Vice-President at this stage in the process.

I know that many people are creating political arguments by trying to compare reactions and press negativity between President George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina and President Obama today.  I think both men were/are in that proverbial danged if they do and danged if they don’t as they’re caught between a rock and hard place and up “pit creek without a shaddle.” [I try to maintain a family friendly blog].

I’ll suggest another presidential comparison that makes more sense in a moment, but right now I think it’s fair to ask if a visit by President Obama would bring more press coverage to the natural disaster?  Perhaps, but the coverage would be focused more upon the President than the residents affected.

You see this disaster lacks the sensationalism because people acted like human beings with love and kindness to others instead of a selfish manner.

This disaster lacks the political opportunism to capitalize upon talking points.  That’s apparent when the major scandal is the President at Martha’s Vineyard instead of being in photos and distracting those with more pressing concerns than seeing the President or anyone for that matter who is not going to be doing a lot of physical labor.

This disaster as it is now will not sell ads.  The people affected directly are working ripping out floors, sheetrock, drywall, insulation, and shoring up frames and don’t have the time or desire to gussy up for TV or have their words taken out of context.  The entertainment and news limited to paragraph level attention spans can find people to criticize the President or anyone else without the inconvenience of seeing real people doing what they need to do.

In my opinion someone like Mike Huckabee with his Facebook post badmouthing the President is in direct contrast to what the people of Livingston Parish are doing which is pulling together.  As a historian, it’s sad to think that on and within this hodgepodge of disconnected islands surrounded by floodwaters the ideas expressed by Abraham Lincoln are being carried out while someone like Huckabee who stands under that GOP banner today relies upon blaming others.

I think the Advocate, the major daily in Baton Rouge, just printed the most ludicrous editorial in quite some time with “Our Views: Vacation or not, a hurting Louisiana needs you now, President Obama.”

Advocate editors, what can President Obama according to the Constitution of the United States of America do to assist the state any more than he has at this stage in the cleanup, rebuilding, and recovery process?

Do you really want him or anyone from outside to ruin all the work being done by the local officials and residents?

Do you want him to replace Director Fugate with Michael Brown so that there can be another FEMA cluster$#%^ like during Katrina?

If the Advocate wanted real assistance, why not use the power of the pen to encourage Congress to cut short their recess.

Yes I know that the House calendar deems the month of August as “District Work Weeks” of 5 days each, but editors you do understand that additional funding beyond what is already allocated to FEMA and the SBA will require Congressional approval.  The US Senate calendar terms recesses as days not in session, but either Mr. Vitter or Mr. Cassidy could show up and take control of the chamber floor during one of the pro forma sessions which SCOTUS declared were in fact actual work sessions.

In 1965 following Hurricane Betsy, US Senator Russell Long did reach out to President Lyndon Johnson to visit and see the damage for himself.

Senator Long did not want LBJ’s “best people,” but the President himself.  In 1965, however, I believe that more people respected the position regardless of who occupied the Oval Office.  People may have disagreed, and I’m typing sarcastically here but there were no differences of opinion about foreign or domestic happenings during the Johnson administration.  Seriously I think some college students today in the survey level courses seem to think of Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s like it was the Olympic games or disagreement about a traffic camera.

Unlike federal politics today, Russell Long had the ability to get things done in the Senate as did Allen Ellender.

Over in the House, the state had F. Edward Hebert, Hale Boggs, Ed Willis, Joe Waggoner, Otto Passman, Gillis Long, T. Ashton Thompson, and Jimmy Morrison of Hammond representing the 6th District.

Before someone tries the political party argument, keep in mind that this was in the age of the Solid South.  Although all members of the Democratic party, these men were part of the de facto two-party system in the state of Long and anti-Long Democrats.  Even mellowed by age, Jimmy Morrison remained a maverick between the factions.  This delegation had seniority.  This delegation played pivotal roles in most legislation going through Congress.  This delegation was visible in the small communities and responded to the poor farmer, shrimper, laborer, and the wealthy and powerful in the same fashion.  They represented their constituents, not special interests.

Today, I see very few members of Congress who command even an iota of the respect and influence of the any member of the Louisiana delegation during Hurricane Betsy.

Regardless, however, listening a recording of that conversation between Russell Long and Lyndon Johnson with Ed Willis listening in on the Long end, it’s about upcoming elections. Senator Long knew that he along with Senator Ellender and the Louisiana House delegation would secure financial assistance from Congress.  Today, I don’t think the Louisiana delegation can be confident of receiving additional assistance from their peers in other states.  In this case by not showing up, President Obama is keeping resources available for those in need and he has provided what is in his power as Commander in Chief as requested by the Governor.

You can listen and follow a transcript to the conversation between Senator Long and President Johnson at the link below:

http://web1.millercenter.org/flashtranscripts/1965_0910_long/index.htm

I will note that Congressman Cedric Richmond penned at letter to Director Fugate and other members of the Louisiana delegation did sign a letter requesting expedited actions from the President.

Political posturing, we don’t need it.

The press, well I am grateful that we have a number of journalists in print and on television who do extraordinary jobs investigating, reporting, and informing the general public.

Their job is made harder by the public relations people and commentators who try to pass themselves off as journalists or are mistaken to be in that field by the general public.

Advocate why not publish a story like that of a lady who has celebrated her 90th birthday for the past 4 or 5 years?  She is sweet and generous as can be and has lived in the same home for 90 years.  In that house she reared I think 3 children, experienced the grief of discovering the body of her husband who passed away while plowing a field, loved many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren along with the children and grandchildren of others from her generation.  She can still bake bread, tend to her flowers, but at the moment doesn’t really understand why she cannot go back to her house.

As she responded to one of the great grandchildren:

Flood you say…sweetie that house hasn’t flooded in 90 years.  The river is way over yonder, and Pappy, that would be my Daddy’s Daddy so your really great and greater Pappy built up the banks years before I was born when he had to build a dam to conserve water. We took down that dam but that river isn’t going to stray anywhere.   This old house and land doesn’t flood, sweetie.

She’s right as always except that old house had about 6 feet of water inside, and when it requires a boat to get within sight of the house what can you say because she has confused the highway with the larger river about 5 miles away.  Honestly, from a photograph I mistook the highway for that river.  That’s how deep the flooding is.

Sorry editors at the Advocate, but your focus should be on the area and providing accurate reports to your readers and to the wire services.  This flooding is a disaster, and it really strikes home for me because that is my hometown.  Those are people that I know, love, and respect.

Even with the flooding back home in my neck of the woods, there is another disaster happening at the same time with those wildfires out in California.

I cannot guestimate the number of communities destroyed by tornadoes.

Not that far from where I live now, over in Ellicot City, MD, they experienced a dramatic flood that for all intents and purposes knocked out the entire downtown area.

It was a few weeks back and only now are business owners being allowed in to see what is left of their establishments.  In 5 days, the area will be closed for a month to repair the damaged infrastructure.  I’ve seen President Obama at some of these disaster areas but not all.  It’s no different with any other president.  The sad fact is that someone, somewhere is suffering at this very moment and at multiple locations quite a number of people are suffering at the same time.

The President is danged if he does and danged if he doesn’t and that will not change for whoever follows him into the Oval Office.  No man or no woman can be everyplace at once.

Editors at the Advocate, you will need to interview real people with real troubles and not pick soundbites from the President or anyone else.  Why not talk to some of the old reporters who used to work at the paper?  They were journalists and not media hogs focused solely upon profit.

So what are the people facing this adversity in Louisiana going to do?

They’re going to try their best, maintain their faith, and carry on.  They’ll be sad, hurt, angry, and frustrated.  They’ll unleash attacks upon others just as a means of coping.  They’ll also do what they can to assist others facing the same problems that they themselves face.

That’s not unique to my hometown, my Parish, or my birth state.  I’ve seen that everywhere that I have lived.  To me that’s the United States of America but to be more exact that’s human beings.

The people of my hometown, Parish, neighboring communities and parishes may be left with flooded homes, tons of building materials, possessions, and keepsakes destined for the trash, and if truly lucky a slab and perhaps part of a frame so that rebuilding does not have to start from scratch.  It’s not politics, partisanship, but it’s a sad fact of life.

All the result of some rain from a storm that never even warranted having a name.

Does anyone care?  Should anyone care? 

The people affected care, and We the People care but apparently that doesn’t sell advertising or provide enough for some in the media to know where to look, what to ask, and most importantly when to listen.

Where Do We Go From Here

These deaths, this disrespect for authority, this hatred are beyond my ability to comprehend in their entirety not to mention my ability to even try and explain.

Yes we do have underlying problems, and no I do not believe that there is a quick, one size fits all solution to this madness.

If you have not read my initial post that is linked here, please do.

Yes both you and I along with those people over yonder and those just around the bend can find a plethora of examples to “prove” our narrative is correct, and relegate anything to the contrary as a statistical outlier.  You know that event you cite is inconsequential, meaningless in this debate, because I’ve seen the evidence through my lens which is not the same as passing judgment like everyone who disagrees with the truth as I know it and can prove through these singular events.

Instead of making excuses, trying to justify, or affixing blame upon some disconnected individual or entity, I would like to see answers to what I would think and hope are obvious questions.

If these or any law enforcement officers perform their jobs with malicious intent do any of us want these individuals to remain in uniform?

People are citing all these stories about how to act properly if one is approached by law enforcement.  For me these stories make sense, but even all the “correct” actions by the civilian mean absolutely nothing if that officer is not following his or her “correct” procedures.

Do law enforcement officers have a reason or right to be suspicious and on edge when engaging with another?

My opinion is yes they do because the definition of their job puts them at risk.  Anyone can have a weapon, and today the popular narrative is that good guys need to carry guns for protection because law enforcement is too far away to be of any assistance.  Hence it becomes even more imperative for that officer to treat everyone as if they have a weapon and intend to inflict harm upon someone.

Who doesn’t respect law enforcement officers (I mean the good and responsible officers)?

Sadly it’s not isolated to a singular race or group.  Postulate about the threat of tyranny and government and the right to bear arms to protect oneself and nation from such threats and thus you justify at best disrespecting a law enforcement officer who writes you a ticket, who directs you in a manner that you dislike, or who merely represents authority.

In March 1995, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA sent a fundraising letter to 3.5 million NRA members calling federal law enforcement agents “jack-booted government thugs” and arguing that “in Clinton’s administration, if you have a badge, you have the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.” He later apologized and stated that he was referring specifically to specific actions by enforcement agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, but hadn’t damage already occurred?  President George H.W. Bush even resigned his lifetime membership because of the remarks.

How many times have we heard that the United States government is planning to confiscate private weapons or that We the People in the United States will have weapons taken by the United Nations?

Yes there is too much black-on-black crime.  There is too much crime in economically depressed areas.  There’s also crime and murder in rural America and white-on-white as well.  I’m not citing here, but I believe that I’m more likely to be murdered by a member of my family or by someone I know than I will be by a stranger.

Think about it, all of those armed individuals could not stop a single sniper who callously gunned down innocent people in Dallas and specifically targeted individuals who willingly took an oath to put their lives on the line every day.  He had more firepower.

The solution, however, is not to put more firepower into the population.  The solution, however, is not to confiscate all weapons in existence.  The solution, however, is not to target a single group or race.

We need to learn why certain groups are statistically more likely to become victims of violence.  We need to address mental health issues and how they can become a danger to both the sufferer and the population at large. We need to educate about the proper safe and responsible usage of firearms and any tools for that matter.

We cannot, however, because of things like the Dickey Amendment and the Tiahrt Riders. (Counter by the NRA-ILA to some aspect of Tiahrt here ).

Here’s something to think about that I find incredulous.  Ever since I got my first driver’s license I wore seat belts.  In fact, I really don’t recall a time in my childhood when my parents or whomever was driving did not remind me to buckle up.

Seatbelts, however, may date back to 1885 with the first patent for vehicular use, but it wasn’t until 1949 that Nash automobiles began offering factory installed lap belts as an option.   Ford started offering lap belts in 1955, and the first car to have the 3 point belts installed were Volvos back in 1959.  In 1968 the National Highway Safety Bureau, the prerunner to the NHTSA required lap belts in passenger cars.  In 1976 the NHTSA began tracking seat belt usage and observed that occupant usage of seat belts was 19 percent.  Individual states beginning with New York in 1984 began passing mandatory seat belt laws.  By 1994 the observed usage of seat belts by occupants reached 58 percent.  Last year, 2015, the observed seat belt usage climbed to 88.5 percent.

Think about all the little reminder slogans you have heard.

Why can’t we do the same to promote gun safety?

I know the legal reasons and how the Constitutional interpretation accepted from 1791 to 2008, 277 years, changed.  For the typical person like you and I, however, is it because we don’t care?  Is it because we do not recognize the links between disrespect of our government and President Obama being a part of the disrespect for law enforcement as they are symbols of authority?

It’s just too easy to scapegoat; to blame BLM today or Black Panthers of a few decades ago. We also have so-called sovereign citizens and militia groups consisting of many or even just one who feels that he or she is fighting a tyrannical government and has both legal and Divine right to do so.

One final question:

How to we combat the paranoia and those who spread it for either financial gain or to compensate for their own personal insecurities by bringing as many others as possible down to their level?

With thoughts and prayers for safety to all the men and women who willingly put their lives on the line for the safety of others, and thoughts and prayers to all who have suffered as a result of violence regardless of the individual or motive.

The Hypocrisy of Respect, Why and What Can We Do?

For a number of reasons, I have not had opportunities to be active on WordPress but I’m sitting at my desk this morning, and while I’m trying to think from an historical perspective I cannot shake the thoughts of the more recent.

First it goes without saying that the deaths in recent days are all tragedies.  For once I’ll refrain from my references to John Donne and citations of his words, but any untimely death brings not only grief for the surviving loved ones but questions.  I’m more familiar with Baton Rouge than Minnesota because I grew up maybe 45 minutes away (as the crow flies) from where Alton Sterling lost his life and know which media outlets will have reports from journalists versus sensationalists.

Regardless of what happened or what one thinks happened in either Baton Rouge with Alton Sterling or Philando Castile in Minnesota, neither justifies the events which took place in Dallas.  Family and loved ones of both Sterling and Castile have asserted the same in video interviews, mourn for the victims of that sniper in Dallas, and grieve for the surviving family and loved ones of those individuals.

I’ve written before that I believe that all professions have individuals who have no business being in that profession.  One of my graduate school mentors told me that in teaching you might find 10 percent who are excellent at what they do and 10 percent who are abysmal and perhaps total failures.  The remainder of college professors like me and you will be somewhere in the remaining 80 percent.  Personally I think that ole corn farmer was among the best of the best and many others more qualified and experienced than me will assert the same, but I think his generalization is more or less true and not limited to a single occupation, skill, career, talent, or any other category.

There are bad law enforcement officers,   and the individuals who want to see those officers gone the most are the law enforcement officers who try to do their jobs to the best of their ability.  The reason is simple.  The bad action by one impacts their ability to perform their duties in the expected manner.

None of us who are sincere about our respective duties want anyone who by their insincerity, lack of credentials, or utter incompetence to be the lens that others use to see you.  We certainly don’t want someone to view us as a criminal because another person in our field engaged in criminal acts.

That stated, my current thoughts are about “what is the freakin’ difference.” 

I read this from CNN, “Sarah Palin: Black Lives Matter is a ‘farce’.”  The piece concludes:

“So if we’re to take sides, I side with the Thin Blue Line. To side with our public servants trying to keep law and order amidst political agendas that clearly oppose that virtue is how the good guys win again,”.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick gave this interview on FOX where he remarked:

“I grew up in a world, I’ve been around long enough, that we’ve always had bad people, we’ve always had dangerous people, but the general republic respected the police. Too many in the general public who aren’t criminals but have a big mouth are creating situations like we saw last night.”

That’s fine and dandy, but how exactly is what Palin and Patrick view as a disrespect of law enforcement any different from today’s 2nd Amendment interpretation from the past 8 years as opposed to the prior 277 years ?  

Thinking from the historical perspective, I recall a group of farmers living on the frontier of Western Pennsylvania during the administration of George Washington.  Those farmers felt that the federal government was abusing its authority by targeting a specific demographic and took action that they would not be subjected to such government tyranny.  President George Washington personally led a militia force of nearly 13,000 strong to demonstrate government authority>

Or how about Sarah Palin’s reaction to these remarks from President Barack Obama concerning gun violence?  Seriously, his words were shallow or offensive?

She even believes that Jesus Christ would fight for the Second Amendment.

Well some will try to clear my confused thoughts by saying that I’m conflating the 2nd Amendment with the murder of the officers in Dallas.

They have told me that it’s simply about a lack of respect for the police

It’s true that Texas has its open carry laws.

Honestly I don’t know how an officer or any person is able to determine who is a patriot exercising their rights from a low-life scum of the Earth murderer.

It has to be more difficult when that officer cannot even question an individual until that individual does something that might appear to be in violation of the law.

How much respect did this individual demonstrate to law enforcement?  This example is not an isolated one, but people who condemned the actions by the officers here are defending the actions by those officers in Baton Rouge and that officer in Minnesota.  How does that make sense?

Despite what some want to argue, there is a difference between how races view law enforcement.

I’m not arguing here if that perception is justified or actually happens.  I’m asserting that we are different and view things from different perspectives.

Folks it just isn’t as simple as respect, and that respect cannot have a double standard attached.

It’s not about so-called “soft targets” because these officers were armed.

I’m only assuming but there must have been a lot of “good guys” with guns in the crowd.  I have no way of knowing if he is a good guy or not, but the police department tweeted a photo of a person of interest who openly carried a long rifle.

Many, if not all officers, wore protective vests, but the rounds from the rifle still penetrated with killing force.  The sniper had more firepower than the officers along with the higher position and the element of surprise.

It’s not my intent here, but we need to have real conversations about a plethora of topics because we’ve already had enough tragedy and untimely loss of innocent life. 

We have to realize that the loved ones of that police officer and the loved ones of that person with black, brown, and yes depending upon area a white person leaving home for their day at work or school are thinking that today could be the last time I see my loved one alive.

That’s something We the People should not accept, and We is made up of every race, gender, preference, and creed.

We have to talk with one another and work together and not be hypocrites.

Sandy Hook Ruling Uproar

So many people I know are upset about a ruling handed down yesterday by Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis concerning the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings back in 2012.

“Lawyers for Remington Arms sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the federal law shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products. They said Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act after determining such lawsuits were an abuse of the legal system.

Judge Bellis ruled Thursday that argument would be best made in a motion later in the process and is not grounds to dismiss the lawsuit.”

The ruling by Judge Bellis only allows for the plaintiffs to begin a “discovery” process which means that they can request company documents and subpoena company officials for testimony.  Remington can still have the case dismissed if plaintiffs have not shown cause exists with these preliminary documents.

I have no opinion, due to lack of information, as to whether or not this lawsuit should go to trial.  My opinion is that I believe allowing discovery is in the best interests of the common working individual.

Whether you agree or disagree with my opinion, the background which I’ll provide about my opinion may even save someone’s life if they happen to own one of the defective Remington rifles.

I know some will stop reading and dismiss the rest.  Even those who know me might stop and say this boy has lost his mind up in DC.  I do have an agenda.  It is to illustrate how media and pundits slant for their audiences and for dollars by spinning or over simplifying.  I just prefer some context and to look at what the actual costs, precedent, or documentation is from primary sources.

Now I understand the arguments of not fair, cost, and cans of worms with the ruling, but look at the recent history of Remington.  In 2014 Remington agreed to replace the trigger on approximately 7.5 million guns.  Among those were the Model 700 bolt-action rifle, the Seven, Sportsman 78, 673, 710, 715, 770, 600, 660, XP-100, 721, 722, and 725 rifles.

I suggest you use your own search engines and preferred sources of information to learn about why Remington made this decision.  No matter your preferred source, I encourage everyone to view the 10 or so minute clip from CNBC linked below concerning their investigation.

http://www.cnbc.com/remington-under-fire/

There seems little discrepancy in these facts regardless of source consulted.

Debris could get inside the “trigger connector” and cause other parts of the trigger to become misaligned, rendering the gun unsafe.  According to documents obtained through discovery, Remington had been aware since at least 1971 that the Walker Fire Control System can cause the weapons to fire without a trigger pull. Per the claims, the Model 700 can fire upon release of the safety, when the main bolt is moved, or when the gun is jarred or bumped.  The same potential problem existed with the X-Mark Pro triggers.

In 1989 Remington engineers and lawyers met to discuss the problem, but they did not make any design changes out of fear that doing so would be an admission of guilt in various lawsuits filed in the 1970s and 80s.

It was a sad truth that a Remington with a defective Walker Fire Control System just lying on table could unintentionally fire a round.  Even so in the year 2010 Remington issued an official statement that these triggers were free from defects even after their own internal testing duplicated the unintentional firings that had been alleged.

It was not until 11 April 2014 that Remington issued a recall of rifles with X-Mark Pro triggers manufactured between 2006 and 2014.  That happened following the investigation by CNBC.

Now some will argue that this past history has nothing to do with the present case referenced in the FOX article many of my friends are sharing.  Perhaps it doesn’t but I still think that the plaintiffs should be allowed discovery before a dismissal.

We all know that frivolous lawsuits are much too common, and hopefully y’all are different but I can only name 1 attorney who I truly respect as both a person and professional.  Still I think all manufacturers regardless of product should be treated more or less equally.

They were until 2005 when Congress passed PLCAA or what became 15 U.S. Code § 7901 which protects firearms dealers and manufacturers in ways that no other manufacturer or dealer is protected.

Consider that if automobile manufacturers had the same protections afforded to gun manufacturers then devices such as airbags, crumple zones, and other passive or active safety options such as traction control would not exist today in all likelihood.  That’s speculation, but the NRA and gun lobby attack which devalued Smith and Wesson and almost ruined the company in 2000 is proof that a single company cannot take on the power lobbies.

Some I know argue that it is unfair because the manufacturer will waste money in court.  I’ve seen figures which range significantly, so I’m hesitant to guestimate the monetary costs passed along to consumers when certain companies are covered by Confidential Discovery Protective Orders.

If you’ve read this far, are wondering, or have never read anything else I have written about firearms, I think most gun fears are unreasonable on both extremes.  A gun is just a tool.  Used correctly it is good, but when used carelessly or for a wrongful purpose the consequences can be devastating.  Too much gun is just as dangerous as too little gun, and it takes different skillsets to handle different guns.  It’s a similar difference from driving a little car, a truck pulling a trailer, and an 18 wheeler.

Still nobody is confiscating personal weapons.  Statistically it is impossible and if you doubt me, consider how long it would take to hand deliver a $1 bill to 500 households.  How much longer would it take you to collect a $1 bill from those 500 households?  Now imagine that the dollar is hidden, or the people there do not want to give up that dollar.

In terms of protection from our government, the fact is that if our government truly wanted your weapons or my weapons, we do not have enough firepower combined to stop them.  Our military could turn us into dust or vapor within seconds.

When one listens to the arguments about guns, it sounds like we have a paranoia issue of Twilight Zone proportions.  Does anyone really believe that no private usage and ownership of personal firearms existed prior to the year 2008?  That’s what Wayne LaPierre, Chris Cox, and the gun lobby claims.

The NRA-ILA has lobbied Congress and successfully banned more types of guns than the Obama White House via Executive Orders, Actions, or Memoranda.  Seriously, you cannot buy a .22 Armatix, and Good Lord protect you if you even think of trying to carry that gun in stock as a gun dealer just down the road from me in Rockville, MD, discovered.  You cannot manufacture firearms using new technology or newly developed materials.  3D technology and printing works and is advancing, but it is not in the financial interest of the gun lobby for consumers to have alternatives.

Things are so ridiculous today that if someone as a parent confiscates a rifle or shotgun from their 16-year-old child because that child was doing something unsafe, the parent may be prosecuted and most certainly labeled as anti Bill of Rights.  To me that’s just as ridiculous as arguing that the same 16 year old is not capable of handling a rifle, shotgun, hacksaw, or even a basic chainsaw safely and responsibly.

I do not support denying discovery before any complaint is made.  FOX News has discredited itself once more with such shoddy appealing to the lowest common denominator reporting.

I just fail to understand the arguments to treat gun manufacturers and dealers less stringently than others.

If you watched that short clip, what did little Gus Barber, his Dad, or his Mom do wrong?  In that case give me any reason not to blame the gun manufacturer, Remington, for continuing to sell a firearm when their own tests confirmed earlier allegations of a dangerous design.

Correct nothing can restore that lost life, but shouldn’t we want to limit the possibility of other lives being lost?

Are we that blasted callous?

I admit that I think you’re right if your argument is that Sandy Hook happened because some sick, deranged, SOB, wanted to murder a bunch of innocent people and most likely had nothing at all to do with Remington.  Many other weapons would have resulted in the same tragic outcome.

Even without Remington’s background in terms of safety, I think the survivors of the victims should have the right to see communications within the company about the incident.

Why, because if a drunken idiot drove a car into a group of people killing several, we have the right to review safety records of that car.   That drunken idiot is to blame, but we may discover that some alteration or safety device in the vehicle may be able to at minimum limit the amount of people killed in another situation.  That’s why many people my age never learned to “pump the brakes” on the first new cars or trucks we bought because everything had anti-lock brakes by that time.

Why are gun manufacturers and dealers alone placed upon this protective little pedestal?  I don’t know but sadly I think that many I know are grateful that gun manufacturers and dealers have more protections than say they themselves do selling a strawberry at the farmers’ market, doing some plumbing or electrical work in a home, or building a piece of furniture.

Why?  I really haven’t a clue, but I reckon the Good Lord knows that none of us survived past the year 2005 when this protection went into force.  Good Lord knows that none of us could own or carry a firearm before the year 2008.

Folks, it is the year 2016, and if you’re reading this or currently speaking with me then you or in some cases because of your age then your Mom and Dad survived after 2005 and 2008 just like me.

Police Officer escorted from GA college classroom: Hogwash and Soap Aftermath

Another example of molehills into mountains, danged if you do and danged if you don’t, sensationalized “media,” clickbait, and as I might say “impatience will find one wallowing in hogwash or being pelted by nutria nuts.”

FOX News Headline:  “Cop in uniform tossed from college classroom by ‘uncomfortable’ teacher”

The Blaze Headline:  “Care to Guess Why a Cop Who’s Also a College Student Was Escorted From Class? (Hint: He Was in Full Uniform)”

Breitbart Headline:  “Uniformed Officer ‘Escorted’ From Classroom: Teacher ‘Uncomfortable’ With Gun”

IJReview Headline:  “College Student Gets Kicked Out of Class After Professor Sees His Gun. There’s Just One Problem…”

Freedom Daily Conservative News Headline:  “Georgia: Leftist Teacher tosses Police officer out of his college classroom — for being in full uniform”

It’s obvious that these “media” outlets relied upon the information supplied by local news affiliate WALB TV.

WALB TV Headline:  “Police officer escorted out of Darton College classroom”

NOTE:  I once worked at this institution.

As for the local TV news I appeared on WALB dozens of times either being interviewed or providing comments about various stories or events.  It’s both the ABC and NBC television affiliate for the area.  The dual affiliation from my limited knowledge seems common in smaller markets.  They operate with limited resources.  For example while being interviewed in my office for the news telecast, the reporter often operated the camera instead of having a separate camera person.  The other major affiliate, WFXL, for the area had similar procedures.

Obviously the WALB or WFXL coverage and reporting in my personal opinion is not at the level of say a WBRZ or WAFB in BR, WWL or WDSU in NOLA, and especially WRC, WUSA, or WJLA here in the DC region, but it is comparable to similar small markets.  Many reporters are just starting out in the profession and like all careers some improve and advance while others leave for other professions.  Some of your more experienced reporters and anchors have ties to the area and have chosen to remain for that reason.  It’s not because they lack in quality.

Back to this “fully armed officer and liberal professor” WALB updated their original story:

The local newspaper, the Albany Herald, reported this update:

Please consider:

Now if you are an employee, patron, or merely a passerby and see something suspicious are you trained to or encouraged to ignore it?

At one of the GOP debates, the issue of people failing to report activity because they feared our supposed “PC” environment became a topic of discussion.

On the other side of the aisle individuals calling 911 to report seeing people walking with long guns became the targets of harassment and threats by open carry proponents in Texas.

How can you distinguish between a “good guy with a gun” and a “bad guy with a gun?”  Does the same formula apply to a “woman with a gun?”

Here it appears that the student in question was not dressed in the “typical” police uniform.  I have no personal experience, but I would think that one could purchase a “typical” police uniform for legal activities such as a Halloween costume so even the uniform isn’t always a 100 percent identifier.

As for polo shirts, I’ve never been in law enforcement but at various times in my life I have owned shirts given to me for belonging to local sheriff’s organizations which had insignia.  Honestly I have no idea if the insignia differed from those same shirts given to members who were actual law enforcement personnel from the insignia on the shirts given to civilian supporters such as me.  I can only say that I never pretended nor was I ever mistaken for being a law enforcement officer when someone happened to see me wearing the shirt or ball cap.

My point is that we are all sliding in the direction of believing what we want to believe and discrediting challenges.  Regardless of what we might think, an echo chamber rests at our fingertips thanks to technology.  We also have an industry profiting from emotions, gullibility, and in some cases the lack of time to ask for or to demand proof.

Will any of the national or partisan media outlets who ran with the story have updated headlines with updates about how the story is less exciting?

If by some chance akin to those of winning Powerball they do will those who caste quick conclusive judgements care?

We still do not know if the student presented campus security, which by the way did not exist when I worked for the institution as city and county law enforcement served in that capacity, with identification proving that he or she was a law enforcement officer.

If anyone misinterpreted existing law in any manner, in this specific situation that failure did not cause anyone harm.  If anything the additional minutes spent reviewing the events will reinforce the applicable laws.

Yes I expect to hear the “what if,” “this is a start,” and all these other dire predictions of both present and future.  My response is that when common sense and rudimentary precautions are deemed “evil,” “oppressive,” or “politically motivated” then we are less of a society.

If you really think about it, it doesn’t matter how fancy, how nice the cover, how pretty it’s packaged because BS is still BS, hogwash, pig puddles, cow cookies, nutria nuts, and so on are still the same.  We can wallow in it; we can choose to take the high road over the top or path around.  We can find some soap to help clear away any muck.  The choice is ours.

Why Does the NRA want to Hurt Honest Gun Dealers?

Yes I have heard about all the attempts to confiscate and to ban all firearms. I know that criminals do not follow laws so laws only affect those who are already law abiding.  I also know that the law abiding can make mistakes.  Sometimes negligence is the catalyst; sometimes ignorance; at other times the potential benefit seemed to be greater than the risk.  Every action or inaction has potential rewards and consequences.

Can we agree, however, that some laws are necessary?  Does it make sense to get rid of every stop sign?  Do we even want to imagine what things would be like if no building codes or standards for bridges existed?  What if there were no legal statutes regarding assault, robbery, burglary, rape, murder?

Sure some stop signs are unnecessary.  Some of the codes are outdated and others are just nitpicky and have no bearing at all upon quality and safety.  Hopefully most believe that those who commit crimes like those I listed should face legal repercussions.

The above is not intended to begin an apples and oranges style of comparisons or to confuse from the original question in the title.  It’s to consider the truth that some requirements go too far and others do not go far enough.  The key in my opinion is developing and implementing that balance which protects the law abiding, discourages those from disregarding the laws, and punishes those who break those laws.

Here in the US there were approximately 54,026 federally licensed firearms dealers operating out of gun stores in the year 2014.  In addition to these dealers approximately 7,810 pawnbrokers in 2014 had a Federal Firearms License to buy and sell firearms.  While I could not find a recent figure, the DOJ estimated in 2007 that the number of gun shows in the United States ranges between 2,000 and 5,200 per year.  They cited no definitive source, but the numbers in my opinion are more or less reasonable especially when counting smaller local exhibitions.

https://www.atf.gov/file/3336/download

https://oig.justice.gov/reports/ATF/e0707/final.pdf

The process in which to receive a Federal Firearms license is multifaceted.  If you’re interested in the steps involved, you can begin reading at the following link.

https://www.atf.gov/firearms/apply-license

To purchase from an FFL dealer or broker, the buyer must complete ATF Form 4473 and be cleared by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  Both the form and a portal for NICS information are linked below.

https://www.atf.gov/file/61446/download

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics

Will any of the above required of holders of an FFL stop 100 percent of would be criminals from purchasing a firearm from that dealer or broker?  Of course it would not.  Even if consistency existed amongst the states as to how and what information is submitted to the system, it would not be flawless.

Even if a flawless system could be constructed, it’s true that someone could obtain a weapon illegally.  The gun lobby and “conservative” media mocked President Obama for this statement even though they use the same rhetorical argument for why laws cannot stop criminals.   “As long as you can go in some neighborhoods and it is easier for you to buy a firearm than it is for you to buy a book, there are neighborhoods where it is easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable, as long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue to see unnecessary violence.”

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/03/06/obama-complains-its-easier-to-buy-a-gun-than-a-book-or-fresh-vegetable/

My question is not about whether NICS or other requirements of FFL holders are sufficient, good, or bad.  My question is why do the NRA, gun lobby, and Congress continue to make an expensive and targeted effort to allow unlicensed sellers to take business from the law abiding businesses?

Per 18 U.S. Code § 921

Firearms dealers engaged in the business definition:

[A] person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms, but such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.

By contrast, a so-called “private seller” (one who is not “engaged in the business”) is exempt from federal licensing requirements.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/921

The so-called “gun show loophole” does exist, because private sellers can and do conduct transactions at many gun shows.  Yes, an FFL holder still has the same requirements whether at a gun show or in a place of business, but these private sellers who at times advertise their merchandise do not.

Whether or not “gun show loophole” is an appropriate term, the difference for private sellers exists so why not hold them to the same standards?

It won’t save lives you say?

Perhaps not from a mass shooter; perhaps not from a criminal; but the few minutes completing that paperwork just may help someone realize the potential power of a firearm. Some words about safe storage could be exchanged nonchalantly which may prevent an accident from negligence.  It may stop that person who should not buy a firearm from an immediate purchase.

Even if one is callous enough to believe that it doesn’t matter or believes that my wishful thinking is not related to this “loophole,” treating private sellers the same only helps those dealers who went through the time and effort to obtain and FFL.

Because they followed the law and have additional overhead why should we encourage them to be undersold by “private” sellers?  If buyer and seller are from the same state, a “private collector” has few restrictions as a seller.

That’s a fact even though many argue otherwise.  Some, however, do argue the more reasonable and factual worry that if we held private sellers to the same standards of FFL holders, it would prevent someone from gifting their son or daughter or selling to a neighbor or friend.

The Manchin-Toomey Amendment proposal of 2013, however, took those worries into account and discussions regarding such took place on the Floor of the Senate.

https://www.congress.gov/amendment/113th-congress/senate-amendment/715

https://www.congress.gov/crec/2013/04/15/CREC-2013-04-15-pt1-PgS2637-2.pdf

The basic truth is that expanding the background checks only brings equal treatment to FFL holders and those who sell legally without obtaining a license.

Personally, I would like a clear definition whether it’s number, gross receipts, or if things such as focused advertising are involved to differentiate between a business and a private seller.

I think showing respect to the responsible business owners benefits all.  Expansion does that and honestly does not prevent anyone who is currently able to purchase a firearm legally from making that purchase.

Of course it won’t prevent criminals from getting guns or murders from taking place, but cite any regulation that is 100 percent effective?  Cite any safety precaution that is 100 percent effective?

If expansion saves only a single life; the life of a toddler perhaps because Joe the collector who is a good guy simply saw the cash on the table and unbeknown to Joe because he did not have to conduct that little NICS check, his buyer had a previous conviction for trying to eliminate his or her child.  Are those few minutes you or I lost so terrible?

If you think so or your retort is that they don’t need a gun to kill their child, I really feel sorry for you.  One because of the selfish attitude and second because of the hypocrisy.  If you do not understand, realize that you are using the logic that if one doesn’t need a gun to kill then one doesn’t need a gun to keep from being killed.

That’s the simplistic double talk being delivered by the NRA and gun lobby making such a big deal that an expansion of checks is infringing upon rights.