Heather Whaley

U.S.A.

Dumb-asses

Very funny video from Evolve, a gun safety advocacy group.

The Wrong Questions

 

“Is there any law which would have prevented Sandy Hook?” This oft-repeated question is just a narrow-minded effort to rebuke gun laws which were strengthened last year here in Connecticut. Of course there isn’t ONE law to prevent all gun crimes. In the case of Sandy Hook, there was a woman who provided firearms to her son. Many gun owners give guns to their kids and teach them gun safety, as did Nancy Lanza. She apparently didn’t know what he was planning. Did not foresee the horror and tragedy he would inflict on an entire nation, but especially on their town. So when someone says what law would prevent Sandy Hook, the answer is, in America, no law. Because the only law to prevent that particular tragedy, is one that would remove the right of morbidly stupid and irresponsible, but otherwise law-abiding citizens, like Nancy Lanza to own guns, and our right to own guns is protected by the Constitution, regardless of stupidity, ignorance or irresponsibility. But Sandy Hook is not the only incidence of gun violence in America.

Another common refrain is that gun laws only affect responsible gun-owners, because criminals don’t obey the law anyway. Unfortunately not every gun death is at the hand of a criminal. 100,000 people are shot in America every year. Eight children are killed by guns in America every day – often by people who probably consider themselves responsible gun owners, leaving a loaded gun where they didn’t think a child could get to it. That’s not an accident, and we should stop treating irresponsible gun ownership that results in the death of a child as anything less than murder. Imagine if we learned that Iran was murdering eight American children every day. We would be collectively outraged, and immediately declare war to protect our children. But it’s not Iran. And it’s not always a criminal. It’s just us.

Some people seem to want to head in the direction of lawlessness and vigilante justice. Maybe they’ve watched too many episodes of The Walking Dead. I don’t know. I do know that when Americans threaten to cause “State-provoked chaos and violence” because they disagree with the way America works (laws are passed, courts determine if they are constitutional) they are guilty of the one crime actually defined in the Constitution – treason, the act of taking up arms against the State. Maybe they haven’t gotten to that part yet.

While there is no one law that would magically prevent the scourge of gun violence gripping our nation, there does exist a series of laws that would drastically reduce gun deaths in America. And yes, on that list are the very laws enacted by the state of Connecticut last year. I have written about this before, and I will do it again.  So while it’s not ONE law, it is most definitely a step in the right direction. For most of us, anyway.

 

The Best Plan to Reduce Gun Violence in America

The following is from Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick. It came about through a symposium at the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

One month—to the hour—after the harrowing and unfathomable massacre of 20 children and 6 adults in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, Johns Hopkins University convened a summit that brought together preeminent researchers on gun violence from across the country and around the world. This was a moment when advocates, lobbyists, and politicians on both sides of the gun-control debate were beginning to mobilize and spar. In this unruly mix, Johns Hopkins seized the opportunity to discharge a critical role of research universities and provided principled scaffolding for the debate. We wanted to use the opportunity to cut through the din of the shrill and the incendiary, the rancorous and the baseless, and provide rigorous, research-based considerations of the most effective gun regulations and the appropriate balance between individual rights and civic obligation.

 

Background Checks
Fix the background check system by doing the following:

  • Establish a universal background check system, which would require a background check for all persons purchasing a firearm (with an exception for inheritance transfers).
  • Facilitate all sales through a federally licensed gun dealer. This would have the effect of mandating the same record keeping for all firearm transfers.
  • Increase the maximum amount of time for the FBI to complete a background check from 3 to 10 business days.
  • Require all firearm own ers to report the theft or loss of their firearm within 72 hours of becoming aware of its loss.
  • Subject even those persons who have a license to carry a firearm, permit to purchase, or other firearm permit to a background check when purchasing a firearm.

Prohibiting High-Risk Individuals from Purchasing Guns
Expand the conditions for firearm purchase:

  • Persons convicted of a violent misdemeanor would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 15 years.
  • Persons who committed a violent crime as a juvenile would be prohibited from firearm purchase until 30 years of age.
  • Persons convicted of two or more crimes involving drugs or alcohol within a three-year period would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 10 years.
  • Persons convicted of a single drug-trafficking offense would be prohibited from gun purchase.
  • Persons determined by a judge to be a gang member would be prohibited from gun purchase.
  • Establish a minimum of 21 years of age for handgun purchase or possession.
  • Persons who have violated a restraining order issued due to the threat of violence (including permanent, temporary and emergency) would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Persons with temporary restraining orders filed against them for violence or threats of violence would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Persons who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.

Mental Health

  • Focus federal restrictions on gun purchases by persons with serious mental illness on the dangerousness of the individual.
  • Fully fund federal incentives for states to provide information about disqualifying mental health conditions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun buyers.

Trafficking and Dealer Licensing

  • A permanent director for ATF should be appointed and confirmed.
  • ATF should be required to provide adequate resources to inspect and otherwise engage in oversight of federally licensed gun dealers.
  • Restrictions imposed under the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act limiting ATF to one routine inspection of gun dealers per year should be repealed.
  • The provisions of the Firearm Own ers’ Protection Act which raise the evidentiary standard for prosecuting dealers who make unlawful sales should be repealed.
  • ATF should be granted authority to develop a range of sanctions for gun dealers who violate gun sales or other laws.
  • The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, providing gun dealers and manufacturers protection from tort liability, should be repealed.
  • Federal restrictions on access to firearms trace data, other than those associated with ongoing criminal investigations, should be repealed.
  • Federal law mandating reporting of multiple sales of handguns should be expanded to include long guns.
  • Adequate penalties are needed for violations of the above provisions.

Personalized Guns

  • Congress should provide financial incentives to states to mandate childproof or personalized guns.
  • The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission should be granted authority to regulate the safety of firearms and ammunition as consumer products.

Assault Weapons

  • Ban the future sale of assault weapons, incorporating a more carefully crafted definition to reduce the risk—compared with the 1994 ban—that the law would be easily evaded.

High-Capacity Magazines

  • Ban the future sale and possession of large-capacity (greater than 10 rounds) ammunition magazines.

Research Funding

  • The federal government should provide funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Justice adequate to understand the causes and solutions of gun violence, commensurate with its impact on the public’s health and safety.
  • The Surgeon General of the United States should produce a regular report on the state of the problem of gun violence in America and progress toward solutions.

Kids! Make Sure that Stranger Handing You Candy Has a Gun, Otherwise He Might Be a Psycho.

In what I can only assume is an effort to show the world that gun owners are just regular folks, a group called Gun Rights Across America is planning a big protest for October 19 in which they will strap on their weapons, come to your town, and PASS OUT CANDY.  No, I have not been hacked.  This is a real thing.

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So these guys think kids should take candy from ARMED strangers?  And they say I’m a bad mom?  In a way, this is kind of awesome because it’s just about the STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD.  I need a drink.

 

 

Quick Question

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You know how gun enthusiasts get all upset when we talk about universal background checks for all gun sales, and they say that the real problem is fixing our mental health system?  Do they mean that we need to cure mental illness, and only that will lead to reduced gun violence?  What about the neighbor who has been a responsible gun owner for years, but is experiencing the first signs of Alzheimer’s, or depression? If we could cure Alzheimer’s we would.  Do we have to just keep our fingers crossed and wait for science to provide the answer?  Do they advocate yearly mental health screenings for all citizens – including gun owners – as part of the sensible mental health system?  Because I knew a man who was sharp as a tack one year, and the next couldn’t recognize his own wife and thought she was an intruder.  What if he’d had a gun?  Would love an honest answer to my honest question.

A lot of the gun conversation in our country is actually detrimental to solving the real problem that we have, which is a lot of people dying, particularly children, by guns.  It’s a really shameful aspect of our nation, and one which we should be able to solve, but we are not going to do it with an us vs. them debate.  Don’t gun owners also want to reduce the number of people who die by gun violence?  I think so.  And don’t gun violence prevention activists enjoy the personal freedoms that come with being an American?  Yes.

Personally I don’t really care if you own guns or not, although I’d rather my neighbors didn’t own weapons that could shoot through their walls and mine.  I just care that you keep your guns safely locked up, and that they are not allowed into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.  Which is actually what most people feel, too.

But look at Chris Christie, who just vetoed a ban on .50 caliber long-range rifles, that are capable of taking out a vehicle, and “will penetrate most commercial concrete and brick walls,” according to McMillan’s website.  How is that good for anyone?  If you keep a firearm at home to protect yourself and your family, how are you going to protect yourself against a guy with one of those, which are legal to own in every state but California?  Chris Christie was compelled to veto that ban because the NRA has dug in their heels against any gun reform whatsoever, and advocated a sort of “any gun for anyone” stance, and he’s not strong enough to stand up to the NRA.  If you do a search for this kind of ammo, you see a lot of “Zombie Apocalypse” references.  Seriously.   Where’s the sense in that?  Other countries with sensible gun laws have sport shooters, so it’s not a matter of “athletes” not being able to practice their sport.  Full disclosure: I don’t think golfers are “athletes” either.

What’s the answer?  Investing in Kevlar?  Living in an underground bunker?  I don’t know.  And of course any sort of sensible debate is predicated by the idea that both sides actually use sense.  Are we just too far apart in ideology to even recognize what sense is anymore?  Anyway, I’m confident that I will be able to outrun the Zombie horde.  Maybe these guys should buy some running shoes.

What the fuck is going on?

When we lived in New York City I worried about my kids’ safety.  A lot.  The windows of our apartment used to frame the World Trade Center.  And then it was gone.  One minute there, the next, gone.  I was pregnant with my son on September 11th, 2001 and when he was born it was hard for me not to feel that something or someone could come and take him away at any moment. When he went to nursery school I would periodically look out my windows in the direction of his school to make sure I didn’t see a plume of smoke, ready to run and get him if needed.  I wrote about it here.  When my children went to elementary school, a public school in lower Manhattan, I worried about their safety more.  There was one security guard stationed at the front door, but she didn’t do anything aside from smile when you came in.  There was nobody checking identification, no need to prove you had business in the school, and I had seen delivery guys coming and going without being stopped.  It would be so easy for a terrorist to enter that school, I thought.  But like everyone else who lives in a big city that has been the target of terror, I hoped for the best and tried not to think about it too much.

When we visited the school where my children would enroll once we moved to Connecticut, my first thought was, “They’ll never find them here.”  The threat of terrorism was not at all a motivation to leave the city, but the germ of paranoia had embedded itself so deeply in my subconscious, the thought popped into my head totally involuntarily, just for a second, and was immediately replaced with wonder at how pretty the school was.   Surrounded by rolling fields, forsythia, and distant views, the little school is perfect.  And perfectly safe.  Of course seven months later twenty six people were murdered in a similar school the next town over.  There’s really no safe place.

At our former school in New York, the big one with no security, my son’s fourth grade class was studying the Civil Rights movement when Trayvon Martin was shot.  The teacher talked to the class about the case, and used it to enhance their Civil Rights curriculum.  They could all relate to Trayvon, even if it was just because they liked Skittles, too.  And then we moved.  We took the kids by the pretty school, we drove down rambling twisting country roads, past dairy farms and enormous yards where people kept alpacas and sheep, past fields of wildflowers, we took them to what would be our new home.  My son was quiet in the back of the car.  He had seen something that frightened him.  It was this.

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I explained that just because there was a neighborhood watch, it didn’t mean we had bought a house in a dangerous neighborhood.  But I didn’t get it.  He was afraid of the neighborhood watch.  He was afraid of George Zimmerman.  I explained Zimmerman was an angry man who unfairly targeted Trayvon Martin because of his own ignorance, and he had been arrested.  Now I’ve got to somehow explain to my son that the man who shot and killed a kid who was out buying Skittles, got away with it, that a jury found what he did wasn’t even against the law, and I don’t know how to do that, because I don’t understand it myself.

Stand-Your-Ground laws don’t make any kind of sense.  Nothing about George Zimmerman going free makes any kind of sense.  If he was worried about his own safety, why did he get out of his car?  Why did he stalk Trayvon?  If I saw someone in my neighborhood that frightened me, I wouldn’t get out of my car and chase them down to shoot at them.  Only a delusional madman would do such a thing.  Why was he allowed to carry a loaded weapon to begin with, given his prior arrest for assaulting a police officer, and the restraining order against him for domestic battery?  What the fuck is going on here?

We can all post support for Trayvon’s family on Facebook, sign petitions online, and take pictures of our kids wearing hoodies, but I don’t think that is going to make one bit of real difference. That’s not going to change laws.  The only thing that can fix the myriad problems we face as a nation is the one thing that matters most to most Americans.  Money.  I’m not talking about spending money to fix this.  I’m talking about NOT spending money, specifically in Florida, Texas, and all other states that continue to violate the rights of minorities, children, and women.  Other than that I’m at a loss.  Now I’ve got to go talk to my son.

Treason.

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A constant theme of the gun goons is that we don’t understand the Constitution.  They maintain that the Second Amendment was written so that the people could rise up and overthrow a tyrannical government.  That’s just simply not true.  Not true at all.  Not even a little bit.  The problem with the Constitution is that it is longer than the phrase “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  In fact, the Second Amendment itself is longer than that.  Seriously!  Sorry, but you have to read a little more than what is printed on your NRA bumper sticker, or Oath Keeper t-shirt.  I know, what a drag!  Let’s take a look at Article 3, Section 3 of our Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Now let’s define treason just to make sure everyone is on the same page:

trea·son

/ˈtrēzən/

Noun:

1. The crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.

2. The action of betraying someone or something.

Okay, so if the founders intended for you to be able to overthrow the government, WHY IS THE ONLY CRIME DEFINED IN THE CONSTITUTION THE ACT OF OVERTHROWING THE GOVERNMENT?

On a fifth grade field trip last week, I listened as a Colonial soldier (not a real one, naturally, but a man dressed as a Colonial soldier) explained that the soldiers had to have two teeth, one on top and one on the bottom, and also had to REGISTER THEIR GUNS.  In case Josiah Tanner, the boot maker, didn’t have a gun, and Samuel Smith, the blacksmith had two, he could loan one to Josiah.  These fifth graders know more about the origins of guns in America than most of today’s NRA leadership.

Colonial Soldier prepares for battle!

Colonial Soldier

These “Oath Keepers” screaming about “shall not be infringed” should spend a little more time doing their research.  It’s not lost on anyone that these people never wanted to overthrow the government which unjustly started two wars, who squandered our nation’s wealth and ran up our debt, who committed vast breeches of our civil liberties in the name of patriotism, who even tried to rename French fries, for crying out loud.  But when the man in office is a black man, they first try to dismiss his citizenship, and then prepare for war.  By the way guys, Ted Cruz wasn’t born in America.  That’s a fact.

Speaking of Mr. Cruz, if you are in NYC right now, you can pay him a visit. Show him some of that NYC hospitality.  He probably has no idea that we like our cowboys to sing in their underpants.  If you need some motivation, have a look at this clip where Cruz insults the intelligence and motivation of parents in Newtown.

Here are the details:

DATE: Wednesday, May 29th

TIME: Protest starts at 5:30 pm and continues until 9 pm – feel free to come anytime during that time frame, and stay as long as you can

LOCATION: 122 East 42nd Street (across the street from the Grand Central Hyatt)

CONTACT: nyforgunsense@gmail.com

Not Your Grandma’s Gun Control

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Since becoming involved in the movement for gun violence prevention, I’ve been called a liar, an ignorant young mother, a stupid bitch, and mostly, a cunt.  I’m not really sure what the people who say these things are trying to accomplish.  Maybe their mommy used to cry when their daddy called her a cunt, but I don’t.  On the first day of eighth grade I walked into my metal shop class, one of only two girls who had opted for metal shop rather than sewing.  I took a seat in the front row, and a kid named Mark came up behind me, called me a cunt and sat in the seat opposite me.  That word hasn’t bothered me since.  In fact, one of my best friends in high school had so little patience for girls who couldn’t tolerate that word that she used it every chance she had, sometimes three or four times in a sentence. This was not some tough urban school, either.  My school was about as WASPy as they come.  And my friend with the potty mouth was a social register Laura Ashley-wearing good girl, now raising two girls of her own.  I’ve also been told that my kids should be taken away from me, and that I should kill myself.  A girl in fifth grade told me that she would make me so miserable that I would want to kill myself, and let me tell you, she was relentless.  This girl was a bully with manipulation skills that would be the envy of evil dictators the world over.  I spent a solid four months under a constant barrage of name calling and humiliation.  But I’m still here.  If that little psychopath couldn’t make a dent, some yahoo I’ve never met leaving nasty comments on this blog, or on their blog, or writing letters to my hometown paper about me, won’t make a dent either.

Today’s generation of moms are perfectly suited to take on the massive challenge of overhauling our nation’s gun laws.  It has to be moms.  For one thing, we have always had to fight harder to get what we want, that’s genetically wired into women at this point.  We recognize injustice when we see it, and are not too intimidated to fight against it – in fact for many of us it is a compulsion. We were raised by women who fought hard for equal rights, we were educated in colleges with Women’s Studies departments, we play football, kick box, kick ass and still make a killer cake for the bake sale.  The men I have encountered who are opposed to progress of any kind are no different from men fifty years ago. Look at the way Ted Cruz tried to dismiss Diane Feinstein, with his smug assertion that she didn’t understand the Constitution.  These are men who think nothing of verbally assaulting grieving mothers and traumatized emergency room workers.  I’ve seen it happen.  Again, Ted Cruz called the parents of Newtown “props” being used by the Obama administration.  As if they can’t make up their own minds about whether the weapons used to destroy their children should be in the hands of civilians, or in their community.

It’s archaic. It’s simple-minded. It’s bullying.  Moms today, because of the strong women who fought for us and who raised us, are not so easily intimidated.  Name calling?  We’re over it.  Our children should be taken away to a place where they are at greater risk of a violent death?  Get your head out of your ass.  We’re not as stupid as they would like to believe.  We do not ask politely for gun sense.  We demand it.  And we’re not going to stop until we get it.  You know how girls are.

All Gave Some. Some Gave All.

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Every year, recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor award selfless acts of bravery by everyday citizens.  My father Paul Bucha, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, was one of the creators of this citizen’s award. Past recipients of the award, called the Citizen Service Before Self Honors, have included Dr. Jordy Cox of Arizona, who performed surgeries that saved lives in Haiti and the Ivory Coast, Jeffry Michael Ross of California, who pulled a woman from a sinking vehicle, and Jeremy Hernandez a part-time youth worker, who saved the lives of 50 children when their school bus was about to plunge into the Mississippi River following the I-35W Bridge Collapse. This year, the living recipients of the Congressional Medal Honor chose to bestow the nation’s highest medal for civilian valor to the the six educators who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The award is usually presented in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, but this year, four Medal of Honor recipients, including my father, Jack Jacobs, Bruce Crandall, Thomas Kelley, and Medal of Honor Society Foundation President Thomas Wilkerson travelled to Newtown for the presentation.  I imagine that these ceremonies are emotionally confusing for the recipient, especially when, as was the case this year, the award is presented posthumously. I’m sure their families would rather they never had to be there. I know my father would rather never have been in the firefight that led him to acts of courage resulting in a Medal of Honor. It was easy to see this struggle on the faces of the family members of slain teachers in Newtown yesterday.

There was another award presented.  This one from the Fire Department in Winlock, Washington.  Fire Commissioner Randy Pennington and his wife Carrie, an elementary school teacher who is also an EMT and has been with the Winlock volunteer fire department for thirty years, watched the news unfold on December 14th with the same horror felt by all of us.  They could not believe how much Newtown looked like their own small town. Pennington described Winlock as, “The kind of place where men meet at the diner every morning and talk about everything from soup to nuts, and the women meet at the beauty parlor and talk about the men.” The Penningtons felt connected to Newtown, and wanted to do something to help.  They discussed sending toys or money.  Then Pennington  had an idea. He knew that if any one of the firefighters in his firehouse acted as bravely and selflessly as the Sandy Hook teachers, they would qualify for the Firefighter’s Medal of Honor.  At a January 8th meeting of the fire department, commissioner Pennington made a motion to recognize each of the six fallen teachers as firefighters in the Winlock Fire Department.  The motion was unanimously approved.  Then he made a motion to promote the teachers to the rank of captain, and awarded each a Medal of Honor for their actions.  They did not want to send the medals, which are given out very rarely, by UPS.  At a local basketball game, their efforts were announced, and Pennington stood at the door holding a fireman’s boot collecting donations to award the medals in person.  The people of Winlock emptied their wallets into that boot, including one four-year old who added the entire contents of her purse.  Their second fundraiser was a spaghetti dinner, which was unfortunately scheduled on a night when the basketball team was playing a championship game in another town.  Only fourteen people came to the spaghetti dinner, eight of them children.  When they tallied up the money at the end of the night, those six adults had donated over eight hundred dollars.

The Penningtons brought seven medals. Six for the teachers who gave their lives in trying to save students, and one for the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.  Her voice breaking, Carrie Pennington said, “All gave some.  Some gave all.”

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More from the funny and sad at the same time dept.

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