Heather Whaley

U.S.A.

Tag: Heather Whaley

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.

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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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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

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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.

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.

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Lamar Alexander, TN

Phone: (202) 224-4944

 

Kelly Ayotte, NH

202-224-3324

 

John Barrasso, WY

202-224-6441

 

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

202-224-3521

 

Dan Coats, IN

(202) 224-5623

 

Tom Coburn, OK

202-224-5754

 

Thad Cochran, MS

202-224-5054

 

Bob Corker, TN

202-224-3344

 

John Cornyn, TX

202-224-2934

 

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

202-224-4521

 

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

202-224-6244

 

John Hoeven, ND

202-224-2551

 

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

202-224-5444

 

Mitch McConnell, KY

(202) 224-2541

 

Jerry Moran, KS

(202) 224-6521

 

Lisa Murkowski, AK

202-224-6665

 

Rand Paul, KY

202-224-4343

 

Rob Portman, OH

202-224-3353

 

Mark Pryor, AR

(202) 224-2353

 

James Risch, ID

202-224-2752

 

Pat Roberts, KS

(202) 224-4774

 

Marco Rubio, FL
202-224-3041

 

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

Common Sense

I am fed up with the stunted, obstinate, greed which defines the tea party and its affiliated conspiracy groups who spout offensive rhetoric and lies, who would rather see America fail than to shut up and listen for a minute.  God did not give you the Constitution, but he did give you a brain.  I could here list a number of these offensive conspiracies, beginning with the shooting in Newtown being a hoax, and ending with Obama’s plan to invade your home and take away your weapons.  But I won’t.  Rather I will use this forum for something positive.

 

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We need a new movement in America. A new party. The party of Common Sense. Here’s what I think it should look like.

Common Sense dictates when two people disagree about something very important, requiring action, such as the financial welfare of our country and it’s citizens, they each must bend a little to reach a positive solution.

Common Sense dictates that all people should pay a similar percentage of their wages to support our military, our schools, our infrastructure.

Common Sense dictates that more money should be spent researching how to harness wind and solar power than on trying to extract every last drop of fossil fuel from the earth, when the fossil fuel is going to run out anyway, probably sooner than we think.

Common Sense dictates that our greatest priority should be our children. The people entrusted with the immense task of educating our children, caring for them when they are not in the presence of their parents, and sadly sometimes giving their lives in protecting them, should be financially rewarded in an appropriate manner. Only by offering competitive salaries, can we expect to lure top graduates into the teaching profession. After all, this is America. That’s Common Sense.

Common Sense dictates that when our people are hurting, have suffered great loss due to natural disaster, we act swiftly to repair the damage.

Common Sense dictates that as our climate is changing, incentives should be given to people who are living in areas now more prone to natural disaster, to rebuild elsewhere, and for our infrastructure to include flood prevention measures.

Common Sense dictates that decisions affecting the whole should not be based on the religious ideology of some.

Common Sense dictates that scientific fact should not be ignored or invalidated without reason. The earth was not made in seven days, it is, in fact, over four and a half billion years old and more awesome and inspiring and humbling than any book could even allude to.

Common Sense dictates that morality does not come from a book. It is the responsibility of parents, schools, and communities, to shape character.

Common Sense dictates that a clear path to citizenship must be available to those living and working in our country.

Common Sense dictates that we help those living in poverty, we have a responsibility to feed the hungry.

Common Sense dictates that all people have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including the right to marry whomever you choose.

Common Sense dictates that as our weapons have evolved, so must our laws pertaining to them.

Common Sense dictates that art is important.  Art is the means by which we represent ourselves as a civilized society.

Common Sense dictates that women are deserving of rights equal to those of men.

Common Sense dictates that in our nation medical care should not be governed by the law of supply and demand, but by compassion and necessity.

Common Sense dictates that we do not inherit the earth from our parents, rather we borrow it from our children.  We must take care of it- not later, NOW.

 

 

Maybe, just maybe, if enough people agree with me, we could turn the tide of conservatism, greed, and obstinacy that has hijacked our nation, and build something truly great.