Never Forget–Never Let It Happen Again

Today, January 27, 2017, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day was established on November 1, 2005, to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. It is also the day in 1945 when the Auschwitz-Birkenau death/concentration camp was liberated. Over 6 million Jewish, 2 million Romani, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled, and 9,000 homosexual men (Wikipedia) died as the result of the Holocaust.

Some of you may be saying, “Gee, thanks for the history lesson. What does this have to do with me here in the 21st Century?”

It has everything to do with you.

The common phrase associated with the Holocaust is Never Forget. That phrase is more than just some catchy advertising campaign. Never Forget is what those who survived the Holocaust tell us because they not only want us to never forget what happened to the millions of people under the savage reign of the Nazis, but they want us to make certain it never happens again. Unfortunately, it has in places like Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

It happens when groups of people are set apart as being the cause of problems from loss of jobs to terrorism. We hear it today from the current incumbent of the White House who calls Mexican people “criminals” and “rapists” and “killers”. He blames violent crimes on Blacks and Hispanics. He’s called for a ban on Muslims. He’s signed executive orders to ban Muslims from immigrating and to build a wall to keep Mexicans out. He has also taken action that would be detrimental to the LGBTQIA community. His words are reflected in the actions of his supporters who go on the attack against these groups of people and some of whom, frighteningly enough, also fly the flag of the Nazis or engage in the salute of that same group.

Never Forget also means to never let it happen again. If we never let it happen again to the Jewish people or to any other group that is discriminated against, that honors the victims of the Holocaust. No group of people should face those horrors again.

The numbers of Holocaust survivors are dwindling as that population ages. Their call to us should never cease, even when the last survivor dies.

We must act against prejudice and violence against marginalized people!

We must STAND UP to those who bully, threaten, or attack marginalized people!

We must act against laws that discriminate against other people!

Now is not the time to simply Never Forget, but it is a time to ACT against future atrocities!

Even if it doesn’t personally affect you now, there’s nothing to say it will not affect you or someone you love in the future. Therefore, STAND UP and ACT UP against prejudice and violence wherever you encounter it. Whether it is contacting your elected officials or marching in the streets, it is up to US to Never Forget and NEVER let it happen again.

Open Carry or Open Bully

A group of people walks into a restaurant and everyone in the restaurant freezes as they see the group carrying rifles. Is it a robbery? Is it a hostage-taking situation? No, it’s a demonstration by people who believe that the Second Amendment means they can go anywhere they wish while carrying the love of their life—their guns.

This is not a scene from some futuristic dystopian society, but one that occurs with greater frequency in the United States. For some reason, there are now groups of gun owners who believe that the Constitution grants them to the right to intimidate others by openly carrying their rifles in public. Most recently, in the state of Texas, a group calling themselves Open Carry Tarrant County-which is part of a larger national organization called simply Open Carry, chose to rally at restaurants and other public places to show they can carry their weapons in the open wherever they please. So far two places, Chili’s and Chipotle restaurants, have taken the responsibility to tell these gun-toting individuals not to enter their establishments. Yet, a Home Depot in Fort Worth, Texas, has chosen, at the moment, to welcome these alleged freedom loving individuals on May 31 for what is being billed as “’the largest open carry to date’ in an area that has lately been a focal point for gun rights campaigners” with “Raffle prizes on offer include a black powder revolver and an AR 15 rifle” (Forbes).

Yes, you read that right, the event is to have gun-wielding individuals descend upon a Home Depot to show how strong they are and how freedom living they are to the world. Yet, it certainly will not stop there. A visit to the Open Carry website (OpenCarry.org) takes you into the world of these “patriots”. The website and the movement started after an incident in 2004 when restaurant patrons at a Reston, Virginia restaurant called police about an individual dining there while openly carrying a firearm. At the time, Virginia law allowed this; however, due in part to concerned citizens, the law was repealed. The website blames “a series of very critical articles and scathing editorials attacking the practice of open carry” for its creation as well as the movement’s creation (OpenCarry.org). It goes on to quote an anthropologist who defends the openly carrying of firearms who states the idea is to “’naturalize the presence of guns, which means that guns become ordinary, omnipresent, and expected. Over time, the gun becomes a symbol of ordinary personhood’” (OpenCarry.org).

That last sentence is chilling. Imagine that, in order to be considered an ordinary person, an individual would need to carry a firearm openly. Does this mean that those who choose not to carry a firearm are no longer considered as a person? The ramifications of this are downright frightening. A firearm is a weapon. A weapon is used to kill. It is not stretching too much to say then that the group’s ultimate goal may be to arm citizens to be able to kill. Holy shit! It’s the Wild West come back to haunt the United States.

Now, before I am accused like the former Marine who was harassed by Open Carry Tarrant County recently, I will admit that I am—at least according to their definition—a more liberally minded person. I also know how to fire a rifle as I learned as a child to do so. However, unlike so many of these gun-toting individuals, I also have the common sense not to go brandishing a weapon in public. I do not own a firearm, nor do I intend to do so. I own a primitive bow, but not a gun. There is much less of a risk for my bow to go off accidentally or for someone to pick it up and run off to rob or murder someone with it.

I have nothing against other people owning a firearm so long as it is registered, the person has been through an extensive background check (criminal and psychological), and the owner is trained in gun safety. The idea of going into a store or a restaurant or another public place and having people walking around openly carrying firearms without their being law enforcement, scares me.

The proponents of open carry claim it will reduce the chances of robbery or other criminal mischief if everyone carries a firearm openly. They like to bring up recent incidents of gun violence as examples of where innocent lives could have been saved if only a ‘good guy’ was around with a firearm. They fail to mention that more innocent lives also could have been lost due to a mass exchange of gunfire between the ‘bad guys’ and the ‘good guys’. That’s why we have police and military who are trained to know when to fire and when not to fire their weapon. They are trained to know how to do this in situations that are intense, unlike the average citizen who rarely faces such a situation.

The proponents for open carry also claim that our Founding Fathers wanted Americans to have unbridled access to firearms. Somehow I doubt that they could foresee when this amounted to people owning military style weapons and ammunition. They lived in a time of single shot, muzzleloaders, not high magazine weapons that were capable of the rapid-firing of multiple rounds without reloading. That is a huge difference. They also lived in a time when the country they were legally under was forcing the quartering of troops in civilian homes.

Unfortunately, while this is all true, the proponents of open carry and gun rights always want to bring up that our government could change and decide to outlaw and confiscate all firearms, even from law-abiding gun owners. In a sense, they are right. Our government could attempt to make that decision. Has it ever happened? Nope. Is it likely that it will happen? Nope. There is no reason why the United States government should be concerned about law-abiding individuals responsibly owning firearms to hunt or for sports like trap shooting and target shooting. Aside from this, why should a government like ours that has a standing military that has enough firepower to decimate countries be concerned with individuals owning legal firearms? Seriously, what chance does a person with a firearm have against a missile or tank? None.

The federal government does not want to take away firearms from law-abiding citizens. I’m certain it does want to maintain the peace and not have people cavorting around with firearms in public places intimidating and scaring people who choose to live their lives without exercising any rights to the Second Amendment.

What the idea of open carry amounts to is open bullying. Those who are walking around with their assault rifles and other openly carried firearms are basically telling others that they have the power to shoot them and are not afraid to use it. Perhaps, they are calling attention to themselves to make up for other inadequacies they may have. A person openly carrying a firearm does not make a situation safer as it could also incite those with criminal intent to carry out their plan just to see if they can get away with it. It also brings up the problem of that ‘law-abiding’ gun-toting individual to possibly lose his or her temper and have easy access to the means to vent their frustration by more than flipping someone the bird or uttering random profanities. Crimes of passion are more likely if a person has the means at their disposal when their head is not thinking straight.

It would be in the best interest of our nation to consider more strict gun controls, including mandatory background checks (criminal and psychological), mandatory registration of all firearms, mandatory safety training for all potential gun owners, reducing the number of rounds that can be purchased by anyone as well as reducing the amount of rounds that magazines can carry, and rescinding the right to openly carry or concealed carry of firearms except for those in law enforcement and those whose lives are deemed to be in danger due to their profession. Our country does not need to return to the problems of the past. We do not need to return to the days of the Wild West. We do not need to be seen as a violent nation. We are better than that, I hope.

References used:
O’Connor, Claire. Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 29 May 2014. Web. 30 May 2014. .
OpenCarry.org. Ed. John Pierce and Mike Stollenwerk. OpenCarry.org, n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. .