Heather Whaley


Tag: Gun Violence Prevention

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.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 5.19.18 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 5.18.49 PM


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



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.


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.



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:




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

All Gave Some. Some Gave All.


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.”


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

This Actually Happens.

Just in case anyone tries to tell you that mentally ill people aren’t allowed to buy guns, or that background checks are required for all gun sales.  Some people assume you’re as stupid as they are.

What I Learned This Week


It’s been a long week.  On Thursday night we hosted a screening of Living for 32, a documentary about Colin Goddard, who survived the shooting at Virginia Tech. You’ve probably seen Colin on television.  He’s the one who had Anderson Cooper all a-titter.  Yes, he’s very good looking.  The film tells the story of his reaction to the shooting, and his subsequent work with the Brady campaign.  In the documentary he goes to a gun show, where you see people walking around with assault rifles on their backs and signs which say $475.  He buys several guns with no official paperwork, not even a drivers license.  In fact he shows the seller a “paper license” he made on his computer.  The seller says no problem, and he walks out with the guns.  What’s shocking is that nobody broke any laws.  I think that most people in America have no idea that this goes on.  It illustrates what a complete travesty our gun laws are.  When I adopted my puppy I had to give two character references, which were checked, have a home visit from the shelter, and only then could I bring home my puppy who had been found abandoned on the side of a road in Tennessee.  There is a more extensive background check required for a puppy that nobody wanted than for an assault weapon.  In my mind, the main task at hand is to let as many people know about this gun show business as possible.  Before I got involved with this movement I assumed that mentally ill people were screened, or had their names in a data base, or at least that something was being done to keep dangerous people from having guns.  But there’s not.  In fact, the background check to see if you are mentally ill consists of you answering one question.  Have you been hospitalized for mental illness in the past year?  And it’s an honor system.  I don’t think most people know that, and if they did, they wouldn’t like it any more than I do.  Honestly I can’t understand why ANYONE would be okay with that.  Unless you are one of the aforementioned people and you want guns and can’t pass that simple test.  Pathologically honest psychopaths maybe?

The screening went well, and more people were made aware of what has been going on, which is the point.  There were a few NRA guys who showed up early, but they didn’t say anything.  You can’t really argue with plain fact.  It’s really easy to buy guns in America, no matter who you are, or what your intent.

If you didn’t read the article in The New Yorker, What if the Tsarnaevs Had Been the “Boston Shooters” pause here and do so.  But come right back!  The point is that those guys could have easily bought guns and done a lot more damage with less effort.  Even if they were Chechen rebels, or escaped prisoners, or members of Al-Qaeda, they could have just waltzed into a hotel ballroom where  a gun show was going on and armed themselves with whatever they needed to wage their jihad.  Likewise a man convicted of stalking can buy guns.  Or a depressed housewife.  The door is wide open.  No questions asked.  Cash and carry.

I learned that even though the number of people advocating for background checks on all gun sales is enormous, it’s growing.  Local moms, dads, shop owners, gun owners, carpenters, everyday guys and gals went into that screening, and a whole bunch of activists came out.

Also I learned that if you’re at home one day and decide to make a video of yourself calling senators, fix your hair first because you never know who is going to see it.

Here’s the trailer for Living for 32.  It’s on Netflix, so you can watch it at home.

Senator Corker Gets a Call

Here’s a little fun I had yesterday.  Notice how the woman on the phone admits Senator Corker seems to want mentally ill people to buy guns.  And that she does not agree with him.  Hmmm.

Someone is waiting to hear from you.

What a shameful day in America.  Today we saw a disgraceful display of cowardice by our US Senators.  Here are the office phone numbers of the Senators who voted no on background checks.   This is a big blow to our freedom, to our public welfare, and to America.  Give them a call, and tell them we will not give up, we demand change, we will not forget this vote and their days in the Senate are numbered.  You will enjoy this.


Lamar Alexander, TN

Phone: (202) 224-4944


Kelly Ayotte, NH



John Barrasso, WY



Max Baucus, MT

(202) 224-2651


Mark Begich, AK

(202) 224 – 3004


Roy Blunt, MO

(202) 224-5721


John Boozman, AR

(202) 224-4843


Richard Burr, NC

(202) 224-3154


Saxby Chambliss, GA



Dan Coats, IN

(202) 224-5623


Tom Coburn, OK



Thad Cochran, MS



Bob Corker, TN



John Cornyn, TX



Mike Crapo, ID

(202) 224-6142


Ted Cruz, TX

(202) 224-5922


Mike Enzi, WY

(202) 224-3424


Deb Fisher, NB

(202) 224-6551


Jeff Flake, AZ



Lindsey Graham, SC

(202) 224-5972


Chuck Grassley, IA

(202) 224-3744


Orin Hatch, UT

(202) 224-5251


Heidi Heitkamp

(202) 224-2043


Dean Heller, NV



John Hoeven, ND



James Inhofe, OK

(202) 224-4721


Johnny Isakson,  GA

(202) 224-3643


Mike Johanns, NB

(202) 224-4224


Ron Johnson, WI

(202) 224-5323


Mike Lee, UT



Mitch McConnell, KY

(202) 224-2541


Jerry Moran, KS

(202) 224-6521


Lisa Murkowski, AK



Rand Paul, KY



Rob Portman, OH



Mark Pryor, AR

(202) 224-2353


James Risch, ID



Pat Roberts, KS

(202) 224-4774


Marco Rubio, FL


Tim Scott, SC

(202) 224-6121


Jeff Sessions, AL

(202) 224-4124


Richard Shelby, AL

(202) 224-5744


John Thune, SD

(202) 224-2321



David Vitter,  LA

(202) 224-4623


Roger Wicker, MS

(202) 224-6253