Yet One More: A poem for Parkland et al

Yet One More

Yet one more shooting
Followed by more thoughts and prayers
To be followed by more rhetoric
With no action anywhere.

Blame guns
Blame the politicians
Blame the NRA
Blame the parents
Blame the system
Blame and blame away.

Refuse to speak of it
Refuse to see the cause
Refuse to take an action
Refuse to take a pause.

Say we need more God
Say we need more guns
Say we need more safety
Say we need more done.

Our words, they hold no meaning
Our words fall empty at our feet
Our words are simply worthless
Our words, they have no meat.

More lives lost through inaction
More lives lost whilst we debate
More lives lost through no reaction
How many more must meet that fate?

We must awaken once again
When tomorrow’s sun breaks the plane
We must rise up and do something now
Or be forced to mourn 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 ( 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 ( 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’” (

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. . Ed. John Pierce and Mike Stollenwerk., n.d. Web. 30 May 2014. .

What’s Happening to Our Country?

Events unfolding and having already unfolded in the United States cause me, and I am certain others as well, great concern as to where our country is heading. The horrible racist rants against the recently crowned Miss America. The racist rants against anyone who is not white and sings our national anthem. The recent shootings at the Navy base in Washington, D.C. The proliferation of weapons, particularly guns and automatic rifle.  The lack of funding for social programs such as aid for children and education. The attack on education and classroom curriculum, especially in the area of science. The actions of one political party to hold our country hostage through blocking all efforts to create a budget as well as not allowing for universal healthcare. The attacks on women concerning healthcare that is particular for them. All of these things and more are causes of concern about where our country is heading.

What happened to the United States as a melting pot for all of us to become one? E Pluribus Unum.

Excuses are being made that the rampant racism is due to whites being tired of having to take a backseat to other races. I believe it is due more to some whites, particularly the narrow-minded and socially isolated ones, finally realizing that they are no longer comprise the majority of the people in the United States. This scares some of them, as they have never needed to learn about other cultures. One of the pillars of prejudice is ignorance. It is easier for some people to hate rather than branch out of their comfort zones to embrace cultures different from theirs. Sometimes they go as far to accuse people who do not look like them as being foreigners and even terrorists, even though those people were born in the United States and have been nothing but good citizens.

A case in point is the recently crowned Miss America, Miss Nina Davuluri of New York. She is an American whose parents immigrated, prior to her birth, from India. She is an intelligent and beautiful woman. However, at the announcement of her as Miss America, there were hundreds of racist comments calling her things like “Miss Terrorist”, “Miss 7-11”, “a foreigner”, “Miss Arab”, etcetera. These comments come because she is not Caucasian and she now represents our country for the year to come at pageants, especially the Miss Universe pageant.

Since when did a person’s skin color dictate their nationality? The last I heard anything like this was the idea of the master Aryan race promoted by the Nazis. Is our country coming to this? We have been bombarded for the past five plus years by the political “birthers” who accuse our president of not being an American due to his skin color and that his biological father was from Kenya, yet our president was born in the State of Hawaii and that has been proved countless times including through the release of his birth certificate by that state. Yet, there are those who perpetuate his not being a “real” American.

A funny term, “real” American. What is a real American? For all sake of argument, the closest anyone comes to being a real American are the Native Americans who we have relegated to being second-class citizens through broken treaties and forced moves to reservations. Americans are a mixed bag of different races, cultures, religions, lifestyles, and such. We come from all parts of the world. Our ancestors came from all parts of the world. Over time, the cultures and races started to mix. Therefore, there is no litmus test for who is and who is not a true American, except for being those who were born here and those who immigrated to the United States and have worked for citizenship.

We should be past actions that raise up the ghosts of the era prior to the Civil Rights actions of the 1960s and 1970s. If a closer look is taken, though, it can be seen we have a long way yet to go before we get to where we should be when it comes to how we relate to one another.

The terrible shootings that occurred at the Navy base in Washington, D.C. serve as another cause for concern on two levels. The first is the proliferation of handguns and automatic weapons backed by the politically powerful National Rifle Association and their paid politicians who attempt to wrap themselves up in the second amendment of the Constitution as their reason for that proliferation. The second amendment calls for a “well-regulated militia”, not a well-armed, untrained bunch of gun nuts who own any type of firearm ever made. There is no need for private citizens to own automatic or semi-automatic weapons. If the argument is that they hunt with them, then those people seriously need to consider hunting lessons. If you cannot hit a deer with a regular shotgun, then you are a really bad shot and a hazard to society.

Along these same lines, what is wrong with having background checks and registration of individuals who purchase firearms? The argument backed by the NRA claims the registration of firearms is a way for the government to know who has what type and how many weapons and will use that to confiscate those weapons from law-abiding gun owners. That argument is egregious at best.

First, the United States Armed Forces are better armed than any gun owner can be. If the government wanted to take your guns, then they could do so quite easily regardless of whether you have registered them or not.

Second, if the gun owners are law abiding, then they should want someone aside from themselves to have a record of what they own in the event of someone stealing their weapon and using it to commit a crime. If the law-abiding gun owner notices his or her weapon is missing, they can report it to protect themselves from being accused of the crime. If they sell it, then they can switch registration to the buyer much like is done when a car is purchased and the registration is switched. It is a way to protect the gun owner rather than a potential way to punish them.

Background checks for all weapons purchases are to protect people, not to harm them. The argument is made that it is an invasion of privacy to check the criminal and mental health background of a person who purchases a weapon. How much sense does that really make? If a person is a criminal or is mentally unstable, then why should they be able legally to purchase any weapon? It would make it a great deal safer if certain people never owned firearms. Might they still be able to obtain them illegally? Yes, but those weapons either likely would be stolen (and have been reported as such through registration) or brought into our country illegally.

The second point the shooting brings up is the lack of care for veterans who suffered emotional and psychological damage while serving our country in the Armed Services. We are willing to send troops to fight, but not to fund the care they need when they return, unless their wounds are physical in nature. That is ludicrous! I covered this a little while ago in another blog post, but it bears mentioning once again. We need to provide psychological assistance for our veterans as well as physical assistance for them. There are thousands of people who are returning to our country who witnessed atrocities that have left them scarred for life psychologically and they need care for those scars. Without that care, some may become a danger to society through no fault of their own. It is shameful that we can allocate money to send our young men and women to war, but we cannot afford to assist them when they come home shattered in more than a physical manner.

Not funding social programs harms our country deeply and creates future problems that arise, but are ignored in the present. Recently, legislation that traditionally allocates funds for food stamps held cuts to that program, including to the SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Food Program) program. This affects primarily those who have children, are elderly, or are disabled. The number of Americans affected by this could be well over 300,000. It is simply wrong to deny the ability to eat to the old, the infirm, and to children. It is a heartless and callous act taken by those who have against those who have nothing. The excuse is that the program needs fixed, as there are people who take advantage of the system. There are corporations and wealthy who take advantage of the tax system, but the politicians who receive money from them do not seem to care about that very much and would rather attack the elderly, the disabled, and children.

Along this same vein is funding education. While most education funding comes from individual states, the federal government supplements that funding though tax dollars as well. However, the funding to education has decreased significantly over the years at both the federal and state levels. There are schools that have outdated textbooks and buildings that are falling apart. The solution that some politicians are advocating is to privatize our schools and run them like businesses. That is a recipe for disaster. Unlike public education that is free and obtainable for all children, private schools are run like a business. Are there protections for students who do not test well or for whom the standard format of school does not work? Doubtful. The United States needs a strong and free public educational system that treats all students equally and affords everyone with a chance to succeed rather than a select few. As citizens, whether we have children in the schools or not, we need to demand that our schools be funded and should be happy to pay our taxes to make it so.

Within education, there is an attack against sound scientific education being waged by those who believe that our schools should teach a curriculum that is based upon the Christian bible, especially when it comes to science. The advocates for this claim that Creationism needs to be taught alongside Evolution. Creationism has no part in a public school as it is based on faith rather than on the logic of science. If parents want their children to learn the story of creation as told by the Christian scriptures, then they should attend a church and have their children enrolled in a Sunday school class to learn it, not in a public classroom where there are children from different backgrounds and religious preferences. That simply falls under the separation of Church and State guaranteed by the Constitution.

Our country has been held hostage for the past few years by a faction within one of the political parties that wants to cut government funding to its bare bones. They want extremely low taxes and fewer regulations in order to save taxpayer money. Sounds great on the surface, but it is not practical in reality. No one wants to pay more taxes. No one likes to pay taxes. Neither of these are arguable statements. However, if we want safe roads and bridges, good schools, to be protected from enemies without and within, fire and police protection, and a myriad of other items provided by our government, then we need to pay taxes for them. Basic high school government and economics dictates this as needed by a government like ours.

The reality of this faction is that they want to create a utopia for the wealthy on the backs of everyone else. They want the wealthiest to pay less and make the argument that this will create jobs. It has not yet, nor will it ever do so. By having the wealthy pay less, all that is being done is making them wealthier while those who are not wealthy get poorer as a result. Yes, I know this is a rather simplistic view and economics are far more complicated, but this is the agenda in a nutshell that is being shoved down the throats of the American public by this radical political faction. We need to stand up to this faction and the elected officials who are being paid off by the select few and demand that the wealthy pay more in taxes. We need to demand a budget be passed that is fair to all while also reducing the deficit in manageable increments that do not cause harm to the most vulnerable in our society.

Another one of the major reasons why this particular political faction wants to cripple the government has to do with the Affordable Care Act sometimes called Obamacare. They make comments that it will cause insurance premiums to cost more and that people will be denied basic medical services. Most of the information I have read, even from independent sources, state that it will actually save money and more people will have access to care. While it may be true that certain procedures may be delayed in being performed, all should have equal access and be cared for even better than is now available. Those against universal healthcare primarily are so due to it leveling the playing field for all Americans and that those who earn more will fund the care of those who earn less. I find it ironic that many of those against universal healthcare claim to be Christians as well since Jesus healed all people and taught that humans were to love and care for one another. For them to be against universal healthcare that would benefit so many people seems rather hypocritical.

Of particular concern in the realm of healthcare is how much a certain faction is bent on limiting the access women have to healthcare. There are Planned Parenthood and other clinics that are geared toward women’s health issues that are closing down for lack of funding all due to this particular factions attitude toward abortion and access to birth control. Seems odd that this faction also wants a smaller government, but they want to regulate a very personal part of a woman’s life. It should not be surprising that the majority of these people calling for limits in birth control and contraceptives are males, as most males want the ability to procreate until the cows come home. If they had to endure the pregnancy and delivery, then they might think otherwise. (In addition, I say this as a male, by the way). If they truly care about women, not to mention potential children, then they should wholeheartedly back these clinics and access to care for women in particular. As far as the issue of abortion, it is the woman’s decision. The government has no right to regulate moral choices for people’s personal lives so long as they do not harm other beings that are able to live outside the womb.

All these things being said, it is a difficult time to be an American who has a conscience and who engages in thought deeper than what is expected by certain news outlets. We need, as a country, to join with one another and reach out across racial, ethnic, gender, and religious barriers and embrace our diversity in a grand fashion to drown out the racist rants of the few. We need, as a country, to demand strong gun laws to include mandatory background checks and possibly even psychological testing before weapons are allowed to be bought and sold. We need, as a country, to adequately fund education and social programs that assist all Americans and not count the cost as a negative, but as a positive as we can rest assured that we are caring for our neighbors and creating a healthier and happier citizenry. We need, as a country, to demand that our elected officials represent us and not special interests. We need, as a county, to demand that our elected officials pass a budget that helps all people and decreases the deficit in a systematic and responsible manner that does no harm to those who are in need of assistance to survive. We need, as a country, to demand that all people be given access to affordable healthcare regardless of their station in life. We need, as a country, to demand that government stop trying to regulate what goes on in a person’s bedroom or with their bodies.

I love my country, but shake my head in disbelief at the actions going on in it. Maybe I should seriously consider running for public office. Hmmm…

The Audacity of the Tea Party and Affiliated Groups

The audacity of the Tea Party is amazing. I cannot believe they, along with the NRA, can stoop as low as they have in the past 5 years. Last week, while traveling in Michigan, I happened across a couple who set up a table alongside the road in front of a post office. They had a picture of President Obama with a square moustache in the form of the one worn by Hitler. Their sole purpose of being there was to advocate the removal of our president and state that he is like Hitler as well as cover the standard NRA rhetoric about the government wanting to take away guns; that the government knew about the Boston tragedy, and other typical propaganda spewed forth by the politically far right. I chose not to stop, as I needed to get my errands taken care of and back home. However, I should have stopped, as it is bothersome to me and likely to many others who passed.
For one reason, it is comparing our president to one of the worst dictator/genocidal maniacs ever to live. President Obama is not a dictator. He is the president. He has not illegally invaded a sovereign nation. He has not established martial law. He has not banned trade unions. He has not forced people into concentration camps. He has not established a gang of henchmen to do his bidding. He was legally elected and did not come to power in a coup or court-ordered fashion. Besides, if he were a dictator, then the people spewing forth this nonsense would be either dead or jailed.
Next is the rhetoric that the government knew about the Boston tragedy before it happened or somehow allowed someone involved in it to escape. Why in the heck would they do that? While another president allowed the family of a known terrorist to travel back to their native country during the air stoppage after 9-11, President Obama was as much shocked by the tragedy as everyone in the United States. Possibly more as he is the leader of our nation. The President reacted as a leader and allowed the law enforcement agencies to do their job and go after the perpetrators. He added the services of the F.B.I. as well to assist.
Finally, the government does not want to take away all the guns. They want to make certain that when guns are purchased that those buying them are trained in both how to use them as well as how to keep them safe. They want to make certain that those buying guns are not mentally unstable. They want owners to register their guns so that if the guns are stolen, then reported as such that the owner is not blamed if a criminal uses their gun to kill or hurt someone else. This is common sense. It makes so much sense that one cannot understand how someone translates this into taking the guns away from law- abiding citizens. Yes, in history, there likely were dictators who required registration of weapons so that they could then use it against gun owners in a negative fashion. This is highly unlikely here in the United States as a dictatorship is almost impossible to imagine given our governing system as well as the fact that Americans cannot band together in that large of numbers to agree on anything in the first place.

American Phallic Envy Needs Stopped

I never thought I would find myself agreeing with Sigmund Freud, but I think I know what the problem is for some Americans when it comes to firearms. The reason why the National Rifle Association exists and why some Americans cling to their need for bigger guns, larger ammunition clips, and are so adamant in their wanting enough firepower to handle a small war comes down to what Freud would call penis envy. Those gun fanatics have penis envy. They want it a larger gun than anyone else. They want to be able to fire more rounds than anyone else. They want to have more and more weapons than anyone else. This is like some teenager standing in a locker room shower wondering if his is substantial enough to please a woman.
Much like little boys, according to Freud, want to take their father’s place, but fear him cutting off their manhood; the gun fanatics are so afraid that they will lose their high-caliber phallic symbols to another male, in this case Uncle Sam. It does not matter to them that those same weapons are meant for nothing but to kill other people. It does not matter to them that the research is there that says firearms are more dangerous than any other weapon aside from nuclear weapons. It does not matter to them that their guns could be stolen and either used against them or against someone else. They feel that the Second Amendment gives them the right to own any weapon made to the point that some even feel it is a God-given right to own as many weapons as possible. There is no place in any Bible or other holy book that says people have the right given to them by the Creator to harm anyone else, except for in time of war and even that is to be avoided if someone is able to do so. That being the case, there is also no commandment saying that ‘Thou Shalt Own an Assault Rifle.’
I digress. What needs to happen is some serious therapy for these phallic envying people. They need to be educated that it is okay to have a smaller or fewer guns. They need to be educated that it is okay to have less number of bullets in the magazine. They need to be educated that it is okay to register their weapons as that is a safety measure that will protect them if their weapon is stolen and used by the criminal.
That brings me to another point with this. The NRA has long used the phrase that “Guns do not kill people. People do.”They fail to mention that it is far easier for people to kill other people when they have a gun. It is impersonal. It is not like a knife or a sword where you have to get up close and possibly use it multiple times to kill. It is not like using bare hands where you also have to get close to your victim. It is not like even a bow and arrow where you have to actually pull back to release it. You load a gun and it stays loaded until emptied or shot. There are no accidental shootings, only weapons improperly used, handled, or kept out loaded and accessible when they should be empty and locked away.
What should be done? We, as citizens of the United States, need to press our Congressmen and Congresswomen for meaningful gun laws. We need to stop allowing the NRA to dictate policy. Will criminals still be able to get weapons illegally? Probably, you cannot stop every one. However, will access to weapons be easy? No, but it should not be easy to have access to as many weapons as one may want nor to the number of bullets they may want. With gun ownership, should come responsibility. It is a huge responsibility to allow anyone to have anything that can kill with such accuracy or in such numbers as firearms can. None of us should need reminded of Columbine, the theater in Colorado, or Sandy Hook to understand that. Nor should we need reminded of the countless people killed every year through the irresponsible use of firearms. However, our elected officials need reminded of all of this as graphically as possible. Gabby Giffords is talking more and more about the need for it, especially after her near fatal attack by a gunman. The parents of the slain children at Sandy Hook are speaking more about it through their pain of loss. It is time for meaningful gun reform and an end to the worship of the phallic symbol—the gun.