Heather Whaley

U.S.A.

Tag: Newtown

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

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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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The Vote.

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I went to Hartford yesterday to watch as the CT gun violence and school safety bill was voted on in the legislature.  I arrived at 11:30 and the galleries in the Senate were already full.  I waited outside to see what would happen, and when I might be allowed inside.  The CCDL was there in full effect, and I guess they all decided on the bus ride over that yesterday they were going to try to TALK with us.  There is a stereotype of an NRA member, orange neon hat, work boots, OATH KEEPER sweatshirt, beer belly, mustache, you get the picture.  But that’s not the whole story.  There were also families there – not many, actually I saw only one, but they had two little girls.  It is hard for me to understand the culture of guns, because I was not brought up in it.   I was, however, brought up skiing, and spent many happy days skiing with my family.  People die or get hurt skiing all the time, but it’s usually people who are skiing a trail that is too difficult for them, or in a dangerous manner – usually.  There are, of course, tragic accidents, too.  Maybe that’s how these people feel about guns.  To them guns are sport, family, tradition, and a way to enjoy the outdoors.  If someone told me they were going to ban skiing I’d be pretty upset about it, and sad that I wouldn’t be able to create memories with my own children the way my parents did.  It is extremely hard for me to make the correlation between skiing and shooting animals, or blasting away at targets, but I think I’m right.

The first guy who approached me yesterday said, “I don’t agree with you guys, but I admire you.  You fought for what you believe in, even though I think you’re wrong.”  This turned out to be a tactic because he turned right around and asked me how I felt about ruining our Second Amendment.  The thing these guys all forget is that the Second Amendment does not begin with the words, “the right to bear arms.”  It begins with “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.”  So I asked this guy if he was part of a militia.  He looked confused.  I said, “If you believe whole heartedly in the Second Amendment, as it was written, and you own guns, it must be for the purpose of forming a well-regulated militia, right?  Did you muster?”  Now I really didn’t want to get into it with this guy, I promise.  He tried to tell me about the need to overthrow a tyrannical government, and that’s when I said, “Look, I know you’re upset, and I don’t really want to have this conversation.”  Then he asked me, “How would you feel if a family member had purchased these firearms as an investment?”  I answered honestly, “I would feel they had made a bad investment.”  That’s the truth.  Invest in something else, like Apple or education.  He seemed very irritated, grabbed his jacket and walked off.

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Woman tells off NRA member. You go girrrl!

I was soon joined by another man, this one older.  He wanted to have a little chat about self-defense.  He told me that he’s not going to feel safe with only ten rounds.  I told him that I felt sorry he lived with such fear.  He said that he’s always got a firearm so he’s not afraid.  Now, I lived in the East Village of Manhattan for about ten years in a rickety old building with an even more rickety old fire escape that led right up to my window.  Never did I feel a gun would make me safer.  What I did was close the curtains – thick velvet curtains from Pottery Barn that were a gift.  You could not see through them, and my logic was that if someone wanted to break in, they would probably pick an apartment where they could see what was going on inside.  So when this man told me that he needs all those bullets at the grocery store, I couldn’t really relate to that.  He admitted he’d never had to use his gun in self-defense.  Nobody had broken in to his house, or attacked him.  I asked if he took his guns into the shower, because they won’t help you in a home invasion if they’re in the other room.  He said, not the shower, but the toilet.  He brings his gun when he’s on the toilet.  He told me he hopes that nobody ever attacks me, because I will be unable to defend myself.  I told him I hope he doesn’t shoot his foot off and we left it at that.

There were some very tense moments.  One guy tried to talk to a mother from Newtown.  She told him to back off, which he did not.  She let him have it.  This issue is so fraught with emotion on both sides, but really, when kids are dead – especially if you knew and loved those kids, that grief and anger is the strongest emotion on earth.  The anger of not being able to buy another assault rifle is no match for that grief.

After about an hour I got inside.  Each State Senator gave a speech saying how they were going to vote, expressing how shocked and horrified they were on December 14th.  Most said the bill didn’t go far enough – either far enough toward addressing mental health issues, and so they were going to vote “no,” or not far enough in the ban on high-capacity magazines, so they were going to vote “yes” with the understanding that this is not the end of the road.  Some proposed amendments to the bill, none of which passed.  There was a moment of levity when one Senator said his daughter suggested that all guns be made by Nerf.  He voted against the bill.

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My State Senator Toni Boucher. She speaks very quickly and looks just like my mother-in-law. She was a “yes” vote.

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Not sure if you can tell, but on the top is Senator Cathy Osten. She is checking her Facebook. She voted against the bill.

The opposite gallery.

The opposite gallery.

The guy in front of me.  My daughter was texting from home and asking for pictures.

The guy in front of me. My daughter was texting from home and asking for pictures.

After more than six hours, the television cameras started being set up, and Blumenthal and Murphy were there, so I knew it was almost over.

After more than six hours, the television cameras were set up, and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy were there, so I knew it was almost over.

The bill passed.  I went home, tired and famished, and watched the rest of the proceedings on television with a cocktail in my hand like a civilized person.  I was very surprised that my representative John Shaban, of whom I have been critical for his lack of candor, voted in favor of the bill, while Dan Carter, who has been very accessible, voted “no.”  Dan Carter represents part of Newtown.  He said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned the over-reaching nature of the bill and the constitutional implications will continue to promote the growing rift between those that own guns and those that do not, especially in the Newtown community.”  I don’t support his rationale at all.

The final tally.

The final tally.

It is done.  For now.  I’ve been very emotional today.  Of course, I’m happy this bill passed.  I’m also heartbroken for the families in Newtown.  Completely devastated and achingly sad, especially today.  The real problem, and what I did not realize before I got into all this, is just how many guns are out there.  Guns take what might be a fist fight and turn it to murder.  The reason the UK has a higher rate of “violent crime” is that in the UK guns are tightly regulated.  Here in the US, what might otherwise be a “violent crime” is often murder.  It’s not just mental health.  It’s our culture.  We have to change the culture.  It’s a much harder job, because you can’t pass a bill that makes it uncool to fire guns.  But once upon a time smoking was cool, and people once refused to wear seat belts.  It will happen.  I’m hoping that the Connecticut Effect does just that, and that it is contagious.

To that end, a group of us here in town have organized an awareness campaign aptly called Connecticut Effect.  Our goal is education, discussion, and the promotion of common sense, progressive ideas.  Our first order of business is a screening of the film Living for 32, a documentary about Colin Goddard, survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting.  The film portrays the inspiring story of how Goddard’s life was forever changed on that day, and his determination to make a difference through his work with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  There are two screenings, one on THURSDAY, APRIL 25  at 7:00 PM at the BETHEL CINEMA.  The other is at JOEL BARLOW HIGH SCHOOL on SUNDAY, APRIL 28 at 4:00 PM.  If you live in CT or feel like a road trip I hope you will make it to one of the screenings.  If not, come find us on Facebook, or email ConnecticutEffect@gmail.com for more information.

NRA, Defenders of Mothers’ Rights, and Other Bullshit

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I was in Newtown on Wednesday night as the Connecticut Legislature’s Task Force heard testimony from parents, first responders, and other Newtown residents.  It was riveting, heartbreaking, and at times infuriating.  The shock and grief of parents who lost their children that day is still unimaginable.  The courage it took for them to stand before this legislative body is profound.  Unlike the Monday hearing in Hartford, most of the testimony was strongly and unequivocably in favor of stronger gun laws, including a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault rifles.  The NRA and the CCDL will tell you that assault weapons are already banned in Connecticut.  But that’s not really the whole story.  When they banned assault weapons, the gun manufacturers just altered them to get around the ban by not allowing them to spray bullets.  The NRA says that the rest of the features are just to make it look cool. The reality is that every feature of that gun has a purpose, to make it more accurate and efficient.  If they wanted it to look cool it would come in different colors.

There were a lot of good ideas mentioned in the testimony.  In my town there is a budget hearing next week to allocate over $300,000 toward new security measures for our schools, including the hiring of two full-time police officers to be stationed in the school buildings.  There are about 9,000 people in my town.  There are about 5,000 guns in my town, too.  On Wednesday in Newtown a father stood before the task force and said, “The Right to Bear Arms is the best marketing slogan of all time.”  Then he went on to say that increased security measures should be paid by the gun manufacturers.  This is just about the best idea I have heard.  Increased security is the price we pay for living in a society teeming with guns.  Alternately, just as the NRA gets a dollar each time a gun is purchased, schools could get a dollar.  Or tax the permits, so that the money is staying in the community where the guns are held.

One woman on Wednesday night said, in a very soft voice, “A mother bear has claws to protect her young.  A mother tiger has teeth.  Please don’t take away the one means of defense I have to protect my children.”  During her testimony people near where I was sitting were visibly disgusted, and many of them left.  This is an argument we have begun to hear over and over.  For example, from “independent woman” Gayle Trotter at the Senate hearing, we heard this:

On Monday in Hartford I heard so many stories of home invasion and rape that I lost count.  I’m not sure where those people were from, but according to them there are places in Connecticut where each night your home is more likely to be invaded than not.  These stories are meant to do one thing – frighten us into buying more guns.  Specifically, to frighten women into buying more guns.  It is your DUTY as a mother to buy a gun.  And because you are small, and fragile, and unable to shoot properly, you’d best get yourself a nice Bushmaster because you’re going to be shooting all over the place, and you’ll need a high-capacity magazine of at least thirty rounds so that hopefully one of them will hit your target.  Don’t worry your pretty little head about where all those other bullets are going.  Just make sure your kids are behind you.

I find this so outrageously offensive.  Does the NRA really think women are so stupid and weak?  I can just imagine the meeting where they came up with this crap.  A bunch of men sitting around a table, saying, “Okay, we’re looking like the bad guys here.  How can we make us the good guys?  I know!  Women.  They’re so naive and impressionable – we’ll just tell them a whole bunch of stories about scary bad guys busting down the door, and how women were able to defend themselves.  We will turn this from a debate about how to prevent a classroom full of children being slaughtered, to a quest for women’s rights – mother’s rights!”  It makes me sick.

You know another mother who had guns in her house?  Nancy Lanza.  Her face was blown off.  You know the rest.

What are you going to do about it?

 

Here is a video I made with some local kids from Connecticut.  Please share everywhere, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, email.  I appreciate it.  Really.

Alex Jones and the Great Divide

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On Friday I attended a meeting for the March for Change which is advocating for common sense gun laws in Connecticut.  In a world with common sense, it would be harder to buy an assault rifle than to adopt a dog.  In a world with common sense, the main goal of teachers would be to educate, not to defend.  In a world with common sense, the safety of many would take precedent over the paranoid fantasies of the few.  Speaking of those paranoid fantasies….

I’ve been reading a lot about the fight for gun control.  The one argument I keep hearing over and over is that people are afraid the U.S. government is going to burst into their homes and kill everyone.  I have a lot of irrational fears.  I’m convinced that if I’m at the beach and decide to go for a swim, there will be a shark lurking in the exact place I choose to dive under the water.  I swim anyway, and do not carry a harpoon, or giant fishing pole, or whatever it is that you use to hunt sharks.  However, I have absolutely no fear that the government is going to come into my home and attack myself or my family.  I would really like to understand why people have this fear.

I have read a little about Ruby Ridge.  Not a lot, I will give you that.  It’s hard to find information online that does not include the tagline, “We are a community of White Nationalists.”  But even reading the Wikipedia entry, in spite of the fact that I also believe the government was wrong to attack those people, I’m still not afraid that the government is going to shoot at me.  Do the people who have that fear– to the extent they are stock piling weapons and ammunition– all live on compounds?  I’m genuinely asking that question.  For real.  Because why would you think it’s going to happen to YOU?  I live a few miles from Newtown, and if I thought that was going to happen in my town, my kids wouldn’t be in school right now.  I kind of wish they weren’t, but that’s another story.

I watched, open-mouthed, with a combination of delight and horror, this interview.

What struck me as absurd, aside from Alex’s British accent, references to Jaws paranoia (to which I take offense!), the proliferation of suicide/ mass murder pills, was the implication that the U.S. government was responsible for 9/11.  But not George Bush– he had nothing to do with it.  What is so strange to me is that if we attacked ourselves on 9/11, then do Alex Jones and his followers feel we owe an apology to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan?  Since after all, they had nothing to do with 9/11 and their people are simply more victims of the U.S. killing machine, like Vicki Weaver.  Do they offer an apology to Muslim people in general after the horrible way many Americans have treated them these past eleven years?  Or are Alex Jones and his followers the same people who think Obama is an unlawful president because they believe he’s Muslim (disregarding that it would not be illegal in any case)?

Which brings me to education.  According to his Wikipedia page, Alex Jones– and honestly I had never heard of him before about an hour ago, so I only use him as an example– “briefly attended Austin Community College.”  Now, I am NOT saying, in any way shape or form, that a good education cannot be found at community college, and many people simply can not afford college today, and often community colleges are an affordable choice.  But to only “briefly attend” to me says that Alex Jones was not motivated to learn.  He didn’t care about his education.  Which brings me to this:

My ten-year-old and I say this all the time.  “Jeremy Lin went to Harvard?  What a snob!”  But to us it’s a joke.  An obvious joke.  First, Santorum has two graduate degrees, so what’s he talking about?  I’ll tell you.   He’s preaching to the choir.  He’s not trying to lift people up, educate, and inform.  Neither is Alex Jones.  His goal is to keep people afraid and ignorant, and the choir keeps on singing, or shouting, as the case may be.  Are they worried that if people went to school, took an interest in finding the truth about the world, understood and respected cultural differences, they would be harder to manipulate?  Is an uneducated population easier to control?

Is the real thing dividing America today education?  I’m not talking about liberals and conservatives.  I’m talking pistol-packing conspiracy theorists who want to replace science with prayer, and the rest of us.  I realize I sound like the liberal college snob that I am, unless Theater majors don’t count, which is entirely possible.  (Just kidding.  I was also an English major.)  I’m just trying to understand the other side of the argument, and it’s really hard to hear what people actually think and feel over all the screaming.

http://www.Ctmomsonline.com/marchforchange