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The anti-gun crusaders lay blame for “gun violence” and “gun crime” on gun owners who fight Gun Control. Although I take issue with their terms, I am extremely concerned with crime, violence and senseless tragedies. Every innocent person who is killed, regardless of the instrument, through crime or negligence is a loss to all of us. I care about dead children, despite what the president says.

I believe that issues of violence are deeply rooted in our society. There is no easy answer to the lack of respect for life that has become all too common. I believe these things bear examination and some effort to reach solutions.  I believe the increase in murder-suicide is a disturbing trend that merits serious study. Why is it that so many suicidal people feel the need to take others along? 

But, it is easier to blame something. The something many have chosen to blame is the gun. I do not deny that guns are used in crimes or in suicides. I do not deny that negligence with firearms can be deadly. I would approve of measures that promote safe storage and use of guns. I approve of laws that treat violent criminals harshly. Unfortunately

,  I really believe that the motivation behind gun control is actually banning guns. The politicians understand full well that an armed citizenry is the enemy of tyranny. Some politicians and most of the general public have made a moral judgment: guns are bad. They do not approve of them, so, nobody should be allowed to have them. Just as they don’t think others should have sugary drinks or smoke cigarettes, they believe they can impose their values on others when it comes to guns.They compare our laws to those of other countries, while ignoring the fact that most of our ancestors came to America to get away from those countries and have freedom. They willfully ignore the fact that the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. We have other rights that aren’t always convenient for everyone. The First Amendment protects pornography, which many believe ti be immoral. The rights given to criminals make life stressful for prosecutors and do sometimes allow criminals to go free. Rights, like free will, are a double edged sword. But, this system is the best anyone has devised. It is only imperfect in that people are imperfect.

 

 

Some laws are certainly necessary for people to live together in anything resembling harmony. As our population has grown and people live closer together, more laws have been necessary. The trick is to have enough laws to prevent anarchy and not so many as to curtail all freedom. Well intentioned though they may be, Liberals have been moving closer and closerto regulating every aspect of our lives, “for our own good”.

 

 

When

it comes to gun control, they have overstepped the boundaries of the Constitution. If they would concentrate their efforts on crime prevention and safety, there could very well be room for compromise on new laws. As long as they make clear their goal of an outright ban, gun owners must look at each proposal they make in that light. When they boldly announce with each proposal  “This is only a first step”, how can they then say we are paranoid for thinking it’s only a first step? 

 

There are many gun laws I don’t find objectionable. For example, training requirements as part of a “Shall Issue” permit system. I don’t object to Safe Storage Laws, as long as they don’t involve compliance inspections. I don’t object to background checks if designed so as to not burden buyers or sellers, not require involving third parties in private transactions and allow the records to be kept only by the buyer and seller as in other transactions. I believe a lot of gun owners would be willing to support similar measures. But, as long as the anti-gun zealots strive to completely ban guns by incrementally eroding our rights, I will not support a single proposed law. They have caused many responsible,  concerned Americans to do the same. We will have no reasonable discussion in this country until the anti-gun crowd learns to respect the rights of others which are guaranteed by our Constitution. 

 

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I have been very disturbed by the many references to keeping guns out of the hands of “the mentally ill” by those on all sides of the gun control debate. While I absolutely agree that people who are dangerous to themselves or others should not have guns, this is a very difficult thing to legislate. Present federal law prohibits possession of guns by those who have been committed to psychiatric hospitals by a court. Laws also require mental health professionals to report to authorities if a patient is demonstrating signs that they are homicidal or suicidal. Such a person is then taken for a full psychiatric evaluation to determine if they are, indeed, a danger and to determine a course of treatment. If further treatment is recommended and refused, the individual has the right to a hearing in front of a judge before he can be involuntarily committed. In this way, the right to due process is preserved. 

What many are advocating now goes far beyond the standard we have. Some would have everyone who takes apsychiatric medication barred from owning a gun. Others would include those who have been taken for evaluation, regardless of outcome, along with thosd committed for treatment.  Still others would exclude those who voluntarily seek help for a mental health issue at a hospital. New York state is using supposedly confidential medical records to confiscate guns from those taking certain medicines. Connecticut is requiring doctors to report patients seeking voluntary admission to hospitals to the state so they can be placed in a prohibited persons database. California is confiscating guns from family members of those whi have been hospitalized. A recent federal proposal would have allowed doctors to place names in the NICS system at their discretion.

In my opinion, these are all outrageousinfringements on multiple rights. There is no due process, no judicial oversight, before depriving Americans of fundamental rights. The violations of privacy and confidentiality are egregious. The potential for misuse is incredible. To penalize a person who has committed no crime is unConstitutional.  To put names and identifying information about innocent people into criminal databases is simply unfair.

The factis, mental health is a spectrum. There are those who have hallucinations and delusions, who can’t function in society. Although they are clearly mentally ill, in most cases it is not so clear cut. Normal emotions, such as grief or anxiety, may interfere with a person’s life to a point they seek counseling, medication or even hospitalization. Some have an ongoing mental illness, such as PTSD, that requires medication or treatment,  but, does not necessarily make them a risk for violence.  Those with OCD often need lifelong treatment, but rarely pose a risk to themselves or others.

On the other hand, those who are most likely to be violent are least likely to get treatment. The most dangerous individuals are sociopaths, also referred to as psychopaths. I suppose that psychiatry must have a name for every deviation from normal behavior. But, sociopaths aren’t mentally ill in the sense that they are bothered by their problems or that they can be treated. They are individuals who lack any morality, conscience,  compassion or empathy. They are also usually smart enough to keep their secrets close, to blend with other when they need to and ti fake being real human beings. They don’t come to the attention of the mental health system until after they commit crimes. 

Punishing every non-criminal, non-dangerous person who has a mental health issue or takes a medication isn’t go to stop violent crime. I doubt it would even reduce suicides. What it will do is discourage people from seeking help when they need it. It will discourage people from taking medicine that keeps their symptoms under control. Particularly for conditions like PTSD and chronic depression, early intervention and ingoing treatment prevent the worst symptoms of the disease from ever presenting. People with these illnesses can usually live normal lives, not endangering anyone, if they get the treatment they need. Why would we want to discourage that?

If those who need psychiatric care can continue to seek and receive treatment,including medications, with their confidentiality and privacy protected, that will do the most to “protect” everyone. If something changes that makes them a risk, the laws and procedures are in place to deal with that. If those systems fail, as happened in the case of the Aurora killer, it is a failure of those sho did not follow the procedure. If someone is kept out of the system, as with the Newtown killer, the new laws will be no more effective than the old.

I find it extremely ironic that anti-gun zealots continually refer to gun owners as paranoid. While within any group there will be individuals who are more or less fearful or paranoid than others, gun owners, overall, do not seem especially paranoid to me. Most enjoy shooting and/or hunting as a hobby. Carrying a gun seems to me as sensible as having a spare tire in the car. You don’t need it every day, but, when you do, you will be glad you did. Those who don’t choose to carry a gun are free to choose what they believe works for them – pepper spray, knife, rape whistle or nothing. That’s fine by me. I certainly do not feel the need to point out to those who are not concerned with self defense hoe naive and dangerous that may be.

But, it appears to me that those who are truly paranoid are the anti-gun zealots. They ascribe magical evil powers to an inanimate object. In the 21st Century, I wonder how any rational person can believe that an object has a will of its own and the ability to influence people. There is just no way to reason with such people.

In a conversation with a Liberal friend, I told her that it is my business what I choose to do for self-defense. Her response was that it becomes her business when my gun walks out of my house and kills someone. Really? I’ve never heard of a gun doing such a thing. If it can be proved to me that my gun has this power, I will definitely get rid of it. Something possessed of such evil capabilities is not something I want around. So, off it goes with those voodoo dolls and shrunken heads I thought were so cool until people around me started dropping dead.

Seriously, I can’t think of a single reason why it is anybody’s business at all what I choose to own or if I choose to carry something I own around with me. I have never hurt anyone in my life. I have never committed any crimes. In fact, I have spent my entire life helping others professionally and personally. Picking up a gun is not going to change who I am or what my values are. It doesn’t have that power.

The gun grabbers say that gun owners fear the world around them and see bad guys lurking everywhere. I don’t see any truth to that. What does one have to fear if he is prepared for whatever might happen?

The gun grabbers, on the other hand, are so fearful of their neighbors, friends and coworkers that they can’t “allow’ us to have weapons. They fear that they are surrounded by crazies who have them ‘outgunned”. They fear the evil influence of a picture or a pastry that “looks like a gun” will have on young minds. They see guns everywhere, in finger-paintings, in food, in clouds and they panic. Even the imaginary finger-gun is too dangerous for children to play with now.

This hysteria is being fed by mass media propagandists who sensationalize any story involving a gun to fit the agenda. Robbery, domestic abuse and gang killings are all “gun violence”. Mass murder is no longer about insanity or terrorism, it’s the guns’ fault. I want to see this hold up in court, just once. “I am not guilty, the gun did it. I was just there.” Maybe they can give reduced sentences to those who agree to testify against the gun, so the real danger is removed from society – the gun.

I can’t imagine the convoluted and paranoid thinking that brings them to the conclusion that evil is perpetrated by guns. Maybe it’s the next step up from the “mitigating circumstances” that are already so well accepted among liberals. Now, besides the bad environment and poor role models excusing criminals, we have the “under the evil power of a gun” defense. Because we all know that, without guns, gang-bangers, abusers, robbers, terrorists and homicidal crazies would never hurt anyone. Right?

So, no, I don’t believe it is paranoid to take a realistic view of our society and be ready to deal with it. I do believe it is paranoid to imagine that all of the ills of this society are the fault of an evil object. I believe it is far more normal to live peacefully with your neighbors, ready to help if your family or community is threatened than it is to be so fearful of what your neighbors have that you are trying to turn good people into criminals with a maze of burdensome and intrusive laws.

On this Memorial Day, I have been more disappointed than usual in the general lack of concern for the history and reasons behind this holiday.

Memorial Day started during and after the American Civil War. Latest estimates put the death toll of the Civil War at approximately 750,000. Virtually everyone was affected by loss of life of family or friends. Decorating graves and paying tribute to the fallen helped many with the overwhelming grief.

The tradition took hold in cities and towns all over the country on different dates. On May 30, 1868, the first national Memorial Day was held at Arlington National Cemetery which had been built on the former estate of Confederate General Lee. President (and former Union General) Grant presided over the ceremy along with General Garfield who would later become president. The celebration in those early days was quite somber, a day of mourning. It was not a “legal” holiday in the sense it is now. However, it was a federal holiday, meaning federal workers, many of whom were Civil War veterans, could take the day off with pay.

State by state, laws were passed making May 30 a Memorial Day to Civil War fallen. The former Confederate states were slow to join in the national holiday. This was because in the early days most of the focus was on the sacrifices of Union soldiers to triumph over their enemy, the Confederacy. As time went on, the old enmity faded and the Confederate dead were also honored.

After World War I, the day was changed to a memorial and remembrance of Americans killed in all wars. The somber, mournful nature continued. Parades, speeches and decoration of graves were the usual way of memorializing the fallen.

As a child in a small town, we had the traditional sort of Memorial Day celebration. A parade was held, winding its way through town to each of the cemeteries. Taps was played and a salute fired in each cemetery. It wasn’t much of a parade by some standards. Veterans marched or were driven in open convertibles. The high school band played. The final ceremony was on a bridge where children of fallen soldiers tossed wreaths and lilac bouquets to be carried out to sea. My siblings and I were part of this ceremony as representatives of our great uncle who was killed in World War I before he had the chance to marry. These traditions held great importance for all of us. I hate seeing such a proud tradition of remembrance displaced by drunken parties.

Probably the worst thing to happen to Memorial Day was its designation as a “Monday holiday” in 1971. The long weekend has become the unofficial start of summer. Many communities still hold parades and ceremonies. But, for many Americans today, it’s all about beaches and barbecues. The fallen heroes are not remembered.

I was particularly offended this year by Chris Hayes of MSNBC who said he was uncomfortable with calling all fallen soldiers “heroes”. This was completely outrageous and disrespectful. My already low expectations of the media have taken a nosedive. I was also deeply disturbed by many comments I saw online which were focused on the “elitists”, politicians and profiteers who create agenda driven wars rather than those who have died in service to our country. While, I do believe hope and prayer for peace in our future is appropriate, I also believe that editorializing about political agendas is disrespectful. This is a day to remember and respect those who gave their lives not to judge politicians. And, while I believe that all service members and veterans should have our gratitude every day, this is not the holiday for celebrating them. This day is for those who went and never returned.

For those who think that brave men dying for the foolishness of those in authority over them is a modern phenomenon:

           The Charge Of The Light Brigade
               by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

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