Friday, December 28, 2012

Aren't Subway Deaths Preventable?

Reports this morning of another fatality on the New York City subway tracks.

An unknown female, reportedly in her 20's wearing Nike's and a ski jacket was seen running from the scene shortly after a man was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train. The man died from his injuries. This follows the death of Ki-Suck Han under the same circumstances on December the 3rd.

If we agree that these sort of acts must be prevented, what kind of measures would it take?

I think a few common sense changes to current subway operating procedures could make a huge difference.

#1) Slower approach speeds to all stations - Require each train to slow to a speed of 5 mph as they approach every station along the route. Conceivably, someone could still be pushed into the path at the very last moment, but at 5 mph, the required stopping distance for these cars would be far less than what it may be now with higher speeds involved. Even if someone was pushed into the tracks in this situation, with a little luck, they might simply be able to out-run the train until it either stopped or the victim was able to climb to safety.

#2) Keep all boarding passengers away from the edge of the boarding platform - if no one is permitted to be near the edge, then that would also prevent people from getting shoved into the tracks below.

Yes, both ideas will slow travel down, but at this point, its by far the lesser of two evils...


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Guns do kill people...

This isn’t the merriest graphic we’ve ever posted, but it’s important. The Washington Post’s Todd Lindeman picked through the data on the cause of violent deaths by age and illustrated the results. He included a separate category for suicides, which is important because those are more common than homicides. The results are sobering:

Todd Lindeman/Washington Post
You know that line, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people?” It’s true, so far as it goes. But in the United States, when people decide to kill people, or kill themselves, they typically reach for a gun.


Obama's approval rating keeps on climbing...

 The latest from Gallup shows President Barack Obama's approval rating at its highest point since his first six months in office. His rating has climbed five percentage points since his re-election on November 6th, 2012.  His "dis-approval" rating currently at 37%, is at its lowest since October of 2009.

Read the whole article here...

The latest approval rating for Congress taken in the middle of December, shows their rating at just 18%...


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Reasonable Conversation...

Some holiday reflections on an early Christmas morning...

This is the 52nd Christmas morning I've experienced. The first few I was too young to realize what was going on. From about age five or so up until my 16th Christmas, it was pretty mind blowing. I can remember setting the cookies and glass of milk out on the dining room table before me and my sisters went to bed. In the morning, Dad would've pinned up a sheet so we couldn't see down the hall into the living room where the tree and the presents were. My two sisters and I would wake up early and get dressed and wait in our rooms until Mom gave the go ahead to come out. It was quite thrilling and mind blowing. Bikes, games, toys, sports stuff, etc. were usually what I took in those mornings. Some of the presents I remember include skittle bowl, rebound, hot wheels, record players and Beatles albums.

I remember how great a job Mom did decorating our home for the Holidays. It was a big house and had lots of neat nooks and crannies, which she took full advantage of. A gorgeous tree in the living room. Evergreens all around the various ledges within the living and dining rooms. The old-fashioned candle lights in all of the windows.

I contributed to the decorating every year by making my own "Readers Digest Christmas Tree.."

I also remember making these and hanging them all over my room:

I wonder if anyone does either anymore?

Dad was in charge of the outside lights. Every year he would wage a very personal "war" with the neighborhood kids who delighted in stealing some of our red Christmas lights. One year he was so determined to catch the little heathens that he hid in the trees to try and catch one. He never did, which was probably a good thing. Ah, to go back in time.

Dinner was always a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Mom would make her stuffing from scratch which meant all of us tearing apart pieces of bread the night before. TONS of it. A big turkey would go in around 6:00am. Mashed potatoes, gravy, various kinds of freshly baked breads. My Dad's olives. Pumpkin pies and tapioca pudding for desserts. Cool whip. Christmas cookies. No one went to bed hungry that night.

As I grew older, the holidays changed. Once I was married and began to have kids, it was about making it special for our girls. Each one would get so excited in the weeks leading up to the big day. Patty and I would plot on how best to get our shopping done and keep the presents hidden until the 25th. We looked forward to watching the traditional Christmas television programs like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" with them. It was great fun to experience it through their eyes.

Its impossible for me to over stress the role that music played during the holidays. I remember singing great Christmas songs in high school and college choirs. The days in choir practice at Gateway High School. Mr. Bevan, my choir conductor. Choir concerts. Travelling to downtown Pittsburgh after school to sing by the KDKA Radio window at one of the local department stores, Kaufmann's, Gimbel's and Horne's (all of which are gone.) Farkleberries. The Children's Hospital Telethon. Good memories. This set things in motion for what came later in life when I turned music into a full time job. In the last seventeen years, music has taken on a different meaning for me. I entertain a great deal at regional Nursing Homes and Retirement Communities. The songs I sing get sung but once a year and it always gets to me that for many in my audience, this will be the last time they ever hear these performed live. Some residents sing full blast, which is fun, while others take a less active way of participating. The carols often produce some tears for some of them, and its a challenge for me to observe all that I do, while singing these amazing songs and keep myself under control. Its not easy sometimes. I wonder if I'm this emotional now, what will I be like when I'm their age? I also think back to the folks who aren't there anymore to enjoy them.  Marion. Betty. Jack. Mr. Carson. Etc. I'm also reminded of my Mom, who used to sing solo's on Christmas Eve. She passed a few years ago and I miss her a lot.
The end of a year is always a good time for reflection. Has it been a good year? All in all, I'd say yes, it has. Our health is good, we're comfortable, and our kids are mostly pretty healthy. Each one of our daughters has various challenges before them. Who doesn't? They're getting to the ages where its on them. They will bear  responsibility for what choices they make. Part of getting older, which is difficult for me, is to stand back and watch them do their own thing. We've never been overly controlling, but its still odd to me to see them decide about further education, work, relationships, etc. We do more watching now than we used to, I guess. As we should. We can see each one of our kids stepping further and further away as they get on with their lives. Which I guess is a bit of an affirmation that we succeeded in preparing them to be independent adults. Its a thing that makes us very proud but also sad because there's a yearning to go back in time for a moment and see them as little kids one more time. It won't happen, but you still think about it.

I think of my wife Patty, who's sleeping on the love-seat just across the room. She's coming off a seven-day stretch of 12 hour days and she's beat. But, she won't go up to bed until I do, which I love. She's no saint, but she is tough as nails, a great example for our girls and a great companion for me. I can't imagine being with anyone else. I just can't. We've been through too much, our wounds are too similar and our bond is just unbreakable. Its not always been easy, but I'll tell you its been worth it. She puts up with me and my long-windedness, my over-analysis of too many things, my love of hockey, my crazy performance schedule, and those moments (hopefully rare) when I'm just acting like a jerk. She and I both have our own private demons to battle and its good that we each know the other is on board for the duration, no questions asked. A permanent partner to experience everything, good and bad, with. I think, and she agrees, its what marriage is all about.

As far as Reasonable Conversation goes, its also been a good year. Readership seems solid and the discussions that grow out of pieces I write or share are so often informative to me and others. The blog seems to attract pretty thoughtful people. They don't always agree with one another, and the debates can be at times, pretty fierce. But, at the end of the day, civility prevails and sometimes we learn something we didn't know before. I know I have. I appreciate thoughtful conservatives like my friends Tim, Dave and Karen, who have an ability to express and defend an alternate opinion without personally insulting anyone. That's all you can ask, I guess...

It's late. I'm going to go wake Patty up and head up to bed. We have a big day tomorrow.

Merry Christmas...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why Not Renew the “Assault Weapons” Ban? Well, I’ll Tell You… « Kontradictions

Came across this blog during my morning reading, and I was impressed with the fairly clear-eyed positions the author takes. The writer, who blogs under the pseudonym "Kontra" at their blog "Kontradictions" describes themselves in this way:

"It’s not easy being a leftist who loves guns. It’s like being a Republican who listens to NPR or supports single payer health care. But being a leftist, I get exposed to all the liberal publications and media that invariably call for gun control every time someone does something stupid with one. Being a gun enthusiast, I also get exposed to the political Right’s oversimplification of those liberals as somehow lacking moral fiber or true appreciation of freedom. Rather than agreeing with both, I tend to end up arguing with both. It’s exhausting to always feel like I’m apologizing for the other “side”."

I agree that while we obviously want to reduce the chances of another Sandy Hook or another Aurora, Colorado from happening again, there is a "bigger picture" that merits the most attention. If there is a certain amount of support in the populace for some "changes" with regard to gun laws, gun safety and/or mental health services, we would be wise to spend that receptiveness for "change" wisely. 

Read the whole piece by clicking on the link immediately below:

Why Not Renew the “Assault Weapons” Ban? Well, I’ll Tell You… « Kontradictions:


Saturday, December 22, 2012

President George H. W. Bush's Resignation Letter to the NRA...

As NRA President Wayne LaPierre's comments about what we should do about the gun violence issue, a letter from former President George H. W. Bush has surfaced from the mid 1990's. This seventeen year old letter is very interesting to review...

Letter of Resignation Sent By Bush to Rifle Association...

May 3, 1995
I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, 
Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack 
on federal agents as "jack-booted thugs." To attack Secret Service agents or 
A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as "wearing Nazi bucket 
helmets and black storm trooper uniforms" wanting to "attack law abiding citizens" 
is a vicious slander on good people.
Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was 
Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was 
a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country -- and serve it 
well he did.
In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer 
who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, 
was no Nazi.
John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the 
most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the 
kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.'s able 
Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and 
honor are beyond question.
Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both 
now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would 
ever give the government's "go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens." 
(Your words) 
I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of 
N.R.A.'s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental 
stance in favor of owning guns.
However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency 
and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the 
line for all of us.
You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre's unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life 
Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please 
remove my name from your membership list. 
Sincerely, [ signed ] 

George Bush
This letter was written in response to a fundraising letter sent out by the NRA in the weeks 
that followed the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19th, 1995. 
The letter, written by Wayne LaPierre, who was the NRA Executive Vice President. LaPierre 
writes, "It doesn't matter to them that the semi-auto ban gives jack-booted 
government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in 
our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us." And 
continues, "It goes on: "Not too long ago, it was unthinkable for federal agents 
wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding 

At the heart of the NRA's discontent had been the (then) recent signing into law of a ten year 
ban on assault weapons. Senator Robert Dole commented after LaPierre's letter was released 
that "the NRA needs a little image repair job." 

Which sounds vaguely familiar in current times, eh?


We get the point...

Interesting headline over at the Huffpo:


3 Shot And Killed In Mich... 18-Year-Old Shot Multiple Times, Dies... Man Kills Wife, Teen, Himself... Man Shoots, Kills Own Son... Cops Shoot Teen Dead...Man Gunned Down In Parking Lot... 5 Dead In Spate Of Shootings... 2 Murdered In Philly... 2 Kansas Cops Shot Dead... Shooter Killed... 4 Die In Apparent Murder-Suicide... Ga. Cop Dies From Gunshot... Argument Leads Teen To Shoot Friend... Man Shot To Death... Teen Dies After Being Tied Up, Shot... Man Shot Dead In Street... Drug Deal Leads To Shooting Death... Mother Of 2 Killed In Road Rage Shooting... Man Shoots, Kills Intruder... 1 Killed In Coney Island...Man Dies From Gunshot Wounds... Cops Investigate Gun Death... Shooting Victim's Body Found On Bike Trail... Man Charged With Shooting Own Brother Dead... Man Dies After Being Shot In Chest... Body Of Shooting Victim Found In Pickup... Teen Arrested For Robbery Shooting Death... Man Carrying 2-Year-Old Son Shot Dead... Man Fatally Shot Near Home... Parolee Dies In Shooting... 1 Killed In Buffalo Shooting... Man Shot Dead In Apartment Complex... Street Gun Battle Kills Grandma Bystander... Man, Woman Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide... Woman Shot Dead By Intruder... 14-Year-Old Arrested Over Fatal Gun Attack... Man Found Shot Dead In Parking Lot... Woman Shot In Face By Ex-Boyfriend... 1 Woman, 3 Men Shot Dead... 2 Die In Attempted Robbery... Army Reservist Shot To Death In Alley... Man Shot To Death In Bodega... 2 Shot Dead In Burned House... Man Shot During Break-In... Man Fatally Shot... 20-Year-Old Gunned Down... Man Shoots Self During Police Pursuit... 1 Killed In Baltimore Shooting... Cops ID Shooting Victim... 60-Year-Old Man Shot Dead... Shot Man's Body Found In Vacant House.... Woman Shot And Killed Outside Her Home...Shooting Victim Was 'Trying To Turn Life Around'... Slain Shooting Victim Found In Street.... Driving Altercation Leads To Shooting, 1 Dies... 3-Year-Old Dies In Accidental Shooting... Man Turns Self In After Allegedly Shooting Wife... Man Shot Dead Outside Home... 3 Slain In Separate New Orleans Shootings... Cops Investigate Shooting Death... Man Shot Dead In Ohio... Teen Shot To Death... Man Dies After Being Shot Multiple Times... Man Charged Over Son's Shooting Death... Cops Find 2 Men Shot Dead... 1 Dies In Shooting... Man Charged Over Gun Killing... 1 Shot Dead In Confrontation... Man Charged With Murder Over Shooting... Motel-Owner Shot And Killed... Husband Shoots Estranged Wife Dead... Suspect Arrested Over Deputy's Shooting Death... Police Probe Fatal Shooting... Cops Kill 2 Suspects In 3 Shooting Deaths... Man Killed Fighting Back Against Robber... Man Killed In Home Invasion.... Nightclub Shooting Kills 1... Child Brain Dead After Drive By Shooting... Man Charged Over Shooting Of Ex-Wife... Body Found In Vacant House... Teen Fatally Shot...

Sandy Hook: Too many women, not enough men?

I saw this this morning: 

From National

"Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza."

According to the stats from the Department of Education as recently as 2007-2008, females comprised 76% and males 24% of all public school teachers. I found this from an article in the Huffington Post:
Why the downward trend in male teaching? According to Bryan Nelson, founder of MenTeach, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recruiting male teachers, research suggests three key reasons for the shortage of male teachers: low status and pay, the perception that teaching is "women's work," and the fear of accusation of child abuse.
Many men once in the profession say they quit because of worries that innocuous contact with students could be misconstrued, reports the NEA.
"There's a lack of support for male teachers, a lack of respect, and a lack of being able to be involved in decision-making," says Reg Weaver, president of the NEA. "And I can't say it's getting better."
Low salary levels have also proved to be a deterrent, especially for those men who value being the breadwinners of the family. The average U.S. public school teacher salary for 2005-2006 was $49,026, according to the NEA. "There's a long-entrenched idea that males are supposed to make lots of money and be a big-time breadwinner," Brown says. "But teaching won't make anyone rich."
Historically, a majority of teachers were male until the 1880s, when women pushed for their own education and the opportunity to teach. In the 1930s, after the stock market crashed, a big surge of men returned to education, as they did after World War II, says Nelson. "In tough economic times, men looking for work returned to education," since there were always teaching jobs available, he says.
Of the men who currently choose to pursue a career in education, many are promoted to administrative positions, often quicker than their female colleagues, says Steve Peha, president of Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc., an education consulting company. "Even if men start out in the classroom, they often don't stay there for long," says Peha.
And then there are gender stereotypes to contend with. "Particularly in the younger grades, women are seen as nurturers," says Brown. "Men, not so much."
What can be done to stem the tide and attract male teachers?
Increase recruitment efforts, for starters, say experts. "We've seen efforts to recruit minorities into teaching," says Peha, "and efforts to recruit adults looking for alternative careers, but we've never seen a coordinated effort to recruit men."
To be effective, recruiting must begin while men are still in school, he says. "We won't see more male teachers if we don't see more young men pursuing teaching degrees," says Peha.
Its an interesting observation that the writer in the National Review makes but there were male teachers in Columbine and a majority of males at the Ft. Hood shooting. Might it have made a difference at Sandy Hook Elementary? Its possible, but plenty of other things could've "possibly" made a difference as well...


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Barack Obama: TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year 2012"

 TIME magazine has chosen President Barack Obama as its 2012 "person of the year." Managing Editor Richard Stengel said, "There has been much talk of the coalition of the ascendant — young people, minorities, Hispanics, college-educated women — and in winning re-election, Obama showed that these fast-growing groups are not only the future but also the present." In the final field of three were Apple CEO Tim Cook and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani blogger killed by a Taliban militant. President Obama won a second term after defeating Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the November election. 

You can read Mr. Stengel's explanation of why President Obama won the award here...and additional coverage from Michael Scherer here...


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Second Amendment: Guns Then and Guns Now...

The issue of guns and our rights as citizens of the United States is a hotly contested one. On one side of the issue is the pro gun group, which believes the Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment guarantees us the right to bear arms. In spite of the Amendment's language, which included the phrase "well regulated," some in that camp feel that regulations/limitations on citizens owning guns is a repression of our fundamental rights as Americans. On the other side is the gun control group who believes in varying degrees of restrictions up to in some cases, an outright ban of guns in our society, except for law enforcement and military personnel.

As our Country debates and argues about where the line, if any, should be drawn, I wanted to look back at the weapons of the day when James Madison wrote the 2nd Amendment.

Here's a short video on what appears to be a pretty proficient man shooting, reloading and shooting a musket from that era (1700-1800's):

 About 46 seconds to load and discharge the weapon three times.

 Three times.

 Compare that with today's semi automatic handguns which can shoot upwards of 9-10 shots in just a few seconds...

Or, compare it with this military grade rifle, a Bushmaster XM-15, which can shoot upwards of a hundred shots in a very short time:

These were the weapons reported to have been used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings last Friday.


I don't pretend to be able to speak for Madison or what he really meant when he wrote the second amendment back in the late 1700's. But I can't imagine he could've conceived of the advances in gun technology we have today. Madison and his peers were intelligent, thoughtful and reasonable men. I don't think their words were meant to be applied literally in all cases. For those who say otherwise, the one document that is generally considered even more sacred than the Constitution, the Bible, has much of its content either modified or disregarded in many cases. Only the most extreme Christians embrace a literal application of the Bible words.

If we can handle some adjustments to the Holy Bible, shouldn't we also be able to handle a less than literal interpretation of something written over two hundred years ago? What evidence can be produced that could convince the average citizen that this "right to bear arms" should know no limits and that the difference between "well regulated" and "regulated at all" isn't supposed to be meaningful? Too often, any discussion that would see further limits applied to the availability of these military grade weapons is met by emotional reactions and protests by the pro-guns rights crowd.

Can't we all agree that eliminating these high-power weapons from general public use wouldn't in and of itself  violate Madison's meaning? Keep traditional hunting, sport and self protection weapons available with proper background checks, which may need to be beefed up in some cases. Allow the hunters, sportsmen and people who wish to own guns to defend their loved ones and property to do so. Remove the high capacity technology from the average American citizen and save it for trained law enforcement and military personnel.

Wouldn't a reasonable man like Madison, or reasonable men like his peers, find it, well, reasonable?


I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was an American poet, writer and translator. One of his works, the 1863 poem "Christmas Bells" was later turned into a Christmas carol called "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day."

Its one of the more thought-provoking carols I've found and given the events of last Friday in Connecticut, it seems timely to share it here and now:

I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,

and wild and sweet, The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along, The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime, A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound, The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn, The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;

"For hate is strong, And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

(H/T to R. Starnes)


Friday, December 7, 2012

How We Got To Mars...

This has been around awhile but its very interesting to see how it all came together. In less than seven minutes, we see everything form the launch to the landing on Mars as well as the transmission of a signal and then some fascinating pictures from the surface of the planet.

(H/T to Mr. Dave Elkin)

Watch the video:

In advance of the "Obama hates Pearl Harbor Vets" stuff..

Let this serve as a preemptive strike against the manufactured criticism from some that the current President shows no respect to our veterans, especially on historical anniversaries like today's remembrance of the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Follows is the full text of the Presidential Proclamation for today's anniversary:

On December 7, 1941, our Nation suffered one of the most devastating attacks ever to befall the American people. In less than 2 hours, the bombs that rained on Pearl Harbor robbed thousands of men, women, and children of their lives; in little more than a day, our country was thrust into the greatest conflict the world had ever known. We mark this anniversary by honoring the patriots who perished more than seven decades ago, extending our thoughts and prayers to the loved ones they left behind, and showing our gratitude to a generation of service members who carried our Nation through some of the 20th century's darkest moments.
In his address to the Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt affirmed that "with confidence in our Armed Forces -- with the unbounding determination of our people -- we will gain the inevitable triumph." Millions stood up and shipped out to meet that call to service, fighting heroically on Europe's distant shores and pressing island by island across the Pacific. Millions more carried out the fight in factories and shipyards here at home, building the arsenal of democracy that propelled America to the victory President Roosevelt foresaw. On every front, we faced down impossible odds -- and out of the ashes of conflict, America rose more prepared than ever to meet the challenges of the day, sure that there was no trial we could not overcome.
Today, we pay solemn tribute to America's sons and daughters who made the ultimate sacrifice at Oahu. As we do, let us also reaffirm that their legacy will always burn bright -- whether in the memory of those who knew them, the spirit of service that guides our men and women in uniform today, or the heart of the country they kept strong and free.
The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2012, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Murder Suicide...Some Thoughts...

KC Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher is dead. So is his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, who Belcher shot before he took his own life. Murder-suicide. No matter how you come at this, its bad. Bad for everyone involved, especially their young daughter.

We've seen the typical reactions across the internet and in media circles. We need more gun laws, we need more domestic violence prevention, we need more this, we need more that. Yes we do, no we don't. There is no evidence that Belcher obtained his gun illegally. Since we already have laws on the books against shooting other people, what do we gain? As far as the domestic violence prevention, well-who would be against that? The reports I've seen so far suggest the couple had been fighting through the weekend about Perkins coming home late from a concert. I haven't seen any reports of long standing issues of this nature. Not surprisingly team mates, coaches and even neighbors have stepped up and said Jovan Belcher was a great guy. The last guy on earth you'd figure for something like this.

A reasonable person can want there to be fewer guns in society. I do. But as soon as those words leave someone's lips an opposing viewpoint steps up and says "hold on, we're guaranteed the right to have a gun. It says so right in the Constitution. The Second Amendment." That's not going away anytime soon. Politicians are scared shitless to even bring it up. Every time someone loses it and shoots a wife, a boss, a co-worker or a bunch of movie goers, the arguments are always the same. The gun didn't kill those people, the person did. No more than a fork or a spoon is responsible for someone being obese. Besides, if you toughen the gun laws, then the law abiding folks will follow the tougher restrictions, fewer good guys will have guns, while the bad guys will continue to be bad guys and use the tougher laws to their advantage.

Belcher snapped. Went bad crazy. I can't conceive of a solution for that. Maybe better mental health programs but probably not. This may just be one of those messed up things that we need to accept and live with. At least until we can have an adult conversation about doing something different with guns in this country. Which we're not real good at. ANY concessions asked for regarding gun laws ignites a firestorm. People lose their minds. I read earlier this evening that Belcher was "evil for doing such a thing." I disagree. This wasn't a criminal. This wasn't a gang member. This was, according to those who knew him, "a good guy." This doesn't sound like it was pre-meditated. To write this tragedy off as an act of an evil person is to take the easy road. This was, it seems, a horrific act committed by a good guy who had every reason to live. One can make the argument that he took the easy way out by killing himself. I say you can make an alternate argument, just as easily that he was so appalled, so sickened by his shooting of his girlfriend...the mother of his daughter...that in his mind the only honorable solution was to terminate his own life. Who knows?

 If I were King, I'd snap my fingers and try to improve the education we provide our young people about coping skills. About how things don't always work out and how to handle conflict in a health way. We do some of this already but maybe we should do more. It wouldn't hurt. Would it have stopped the murder/suicide? I have no idea.

This is America. We love our guns. Guns aren't going anywhere. Ever. So buckle up, keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Please don't lose your mind, especially if you're going to be around me or my family. With all due respect to the Constitution, I say this is one hell of a way to run things. This is a helluva low bar to set for ourselves.