Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Save The Children: 2013


Newtown CT is the epicenter of a radiating pain. All across the nation people are clutching their children or their guns to themselves, depending on which they fear for most.

I’m ambivalent about the Second Amendment, but I do know that a nation awash in junk food is going to fatten up, and a nation swimming in guns is going to suffer some casualties. I have many friends who are fond of their guns and have become persuaded that they are on the verge of having to hand them over, usually to some malevolent force called “the government.” The government, in this land, of course, is us, and sure enough, although few politicians will tilt against the NRA, there are a whole lot of plain citizens who would like to thin out the arms inventory. So I guess we are the malevolent force. I rarely chime in on this issue. I don’t warm up to guns, but I am willing to accept that other good people feel strongly that they should have some.

It’s the infamous “slippery slope” arguments that irk me: the notion that gay weddings will eventually cause people to bang their own dogs; the idea that giving people some control over their own deaths will lead to the establishment of gas chambers for grandma. There’s precious little possibility that Americans are ever going to be stripped of the arms they need or want, but that’s the bottom of the slippery slope the NRA has sold its adherents on, certain that we will be helpless to halt our skid. The slope goes both ways, of course. If we the people decide it’s okay to arm ourselves with assault rifles, why not multiple-grenade launchers? Why not nukes? Where do we draw the line? Can we talk about it without being hysterical?

There’s never a good massacre, but the ones that claim our children hurt us the worst. Once we’ve gotten a little age on us, we’re barnacled up with everything from annoying quirks to outright evil, or mental illness, which sometimes looks the same. So we care the most for our children. We presume them innocent. That’s an arbitrary distinction we make on the spectrum of life, a spectrum that some believe even includes the aspiring souls of sperms, but most of us make it. And we might just as well. We’re liable to make better decisions if we make them on behalf of the children. Especially if we include everyone’s children. There are families in Africa and Syria and Iraq that are suffering the same pain and terror as the families in Connecticut, but magnified, and endlessly. Bombs fall from the sky and the streets are flooded with personal weapons of mass destruction. We know because we provided them, for a price, and the only voices in our heads were those of the arms merchants and the fear merchants and the oil profiteers, operating under cover of our apathy.

So what do we do for our children? Do we start to stem the saturation of arms? Do we devote more resources to mental health? Do we finally get up the gumption to say hell no to the depleters of the earth who are so willing to trade our very survival for money? If we think only of what’s good for our kids, we’ll be on the right track.

60 comments:

  1. Wow, Murr. All I can think to say is "Wow." So much logical common sense. I wonder if we could make this required reading for members of Congress.

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  2. I think I shall print this out and SEND it to my members of Congress. If they fail to read it with their brains engaged, shame on them.

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  3. You have put my own thoughts into words much better than I ever could. I don't know what to say, or to add. You have said it all.

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  4. I love you, Murr. In a good, bloggerly way, of course, but still.

    Love.

    Can we discuss it without getting hysterical? The cynical part of me -- the part becoming more and more barnacled with time -- says "no".

    But I'm wrong a lot.

    Pearl

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    1. I love you too.

      You know, things change very slowly, but I've seen changes over time I would never have believed--like nobody smoking indoors, and people picking up dog poop. My biggest fear is over our fossil fuel dependence, and that will change too because it has to, but by then it will be too late.

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  5. I am copying your post. I would like to put it on my Facebook page ... I won't until I have your permission.

    I agree with the above comments ... Your assessment of the slippery slope stuff is right on... drives me insane.

    This past election and gun control issues have ended some relationships. Not because I say so but because this mindset can not fathom a liberal.

    I will fight for your right to disagree ... to own guns .... to go to church. Just keep your religious beliefs in your church and home and outta my body ... AND please read the 2nd Amendment --- assault weapons weren't around in the first POTUS's time... seriously.

    One former relationship person said she keeps AN ASSAULT WEAPON to fend off a despotic ... government.

    If the Russians or Iraqi's are coming on over? They will have missiles which will make the average American gun hoarder's (which we went to war over --- WMD) stash just really not sufficient.

    FURTHER, if the current POTUS is going to come to yore house to make you surrender to whatever it is you're afraid they will make you surrender to? .... they'll have tear gas and grenades and all manner of kill you stuff.

    This were actual words written to several -no longer- relationships.

    It is amazing to me that these issues can not be discussed ... the ones who are the church goers are the ones who shout! NO NO NO ! More God and guns... Obama is a traitor and evil and and and .... oh, on and on ... then the name calling spewing hate ...

    I'm not a Christian and don't own a gun.

    Therefore...

    I don't hate or kill. I maim with my motor mouth... but no one dies... well, not literally

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    1. Heavens! You never need permission to share my stuff! We loves that. You go ahead on.

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  6. oh... the Facebook posting would be to reference your blog ...

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  7. How do we have a rational conversation with those who claim to be thinking of what's best for the children while proposing to fill the schools with guns in the name of "protecting the children"?

    How do you have a rational conversation with those who want no restrictions on their right to possess assault weapons and will argue with you dawn to dusk if you cannot sufficiently define to their satisfaction "assault weapons". If you point out that we have restrictions on our constitutional rights to freedom of speech (no yelling FIRE in a crowded theater) and no right to possess RPGs or tactical nukes they just fly off the handle even more.

    I just despair, I really do. You have a reasoned argument and I hope people are listening.

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    1. Well, those people really do think filling the schools with guns is protecting them. I disagree. There are a lot of things contributing to this mess, and one of them is all the publicity we give the murderers, such that the next one fantasizes about a bigger impact yet. But I don't know how we keep this OUT of the news. Things used to be unthinkable only because no one thought of them.

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  8. Yes, the slippery slope drives me crazy. I just can't tolerate irrational arguments. I do actually have hope that there will be an assault weapons ban, and maybe even some other restrictions on the things that make it much too easy to slaughter innocents in the irrational blink of an eye. I often start the new year thinking "this time things will change" and I have almost always been wrong. But I do hold out hope that those 20 bodies in a first grade classroom will help persuade people to make a change. If not now, when?

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    1. "Later" and "never" come to mind, I'm sorry to say...

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    2. I often do need a good dose of reality, Murr. Dang. You're probably right.

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    3. No, no. The loss of those 20 children and their valiant teachers DID cause a shift in this nation. Its repercussions remain to be manifested in law, but this terrible event has shaken us in a way that previous horrors have not. Enough minds have changed-- I believe it. Change is gonna come... Maybe it won't be enough--"Crazy always seems to find a way," said Jon Stewart after the AZ shootings. But the coming changes will make differences we'll never know/be able to recognize--lives that are not taken, horror prevented because it will get (at least somewhat) more difficult for crazy to find a way.

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    4. There WAS a ban on assault rifles. For 10 years, from 1994 (under Clinton) until 2004 (under Baby Bush), production and distribution were banned in the US. Then Congress let the ban expire and, well, here we are.

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    5. Pat - you are right! I see a shift toward more sensible attitudes too. We are fed up with the gun culture and we're not going to take it anymore. Change happens slowly...but it does happen.

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  9. As a Canadian, it actually took my breath away to watch an otherwise innocuous American program, where an assault weapon was purchased for resale, "tricked out" with all the bells and whistles, and sold again - with no registration required. Up here, a lot of us don't even realize that is how things are in some states of the US of A.

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    1. Tightening up penalties for losing track of or not securing one's weapons is at least a beginning. I love Canadians. See what you can do about them tar sands, though...

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  10. Australia's then government responded swiftly, with enormous support across the board after a lone gunman went crazy in Port Arthur.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Arthur_massacre_(Australia)
    Yes, we do still have "armed incidents" and (obviously!) it is still possible to get unregulated weapons. But it's a hell of a lot harder than in USofA.
    And we don't arm teachers.

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    1. And this was (the only good thing). Done by a conservative government, much lobbied by the Shooter's Party but then we don't have a massive trade in arms to the rest of the world.

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    2. You wouldn't get that kind of support in this country. You just wouldn't.

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    3. dinahmow, thank you for this link. This story is cause for deep sorrow - but also hope because of the steps that were taken.

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  11. Deeeeeeep breath here. Okay, here I go.
    "All across the nation people are clutching their children or their guns to themselves, depending on which they fear for most."
    But Murr, I'm clutching both. The gun in my right hand is protecting my daughter grasped in my left hand.
    Secondly, gun owners and NRA supporters are not one and the same. I despise the NRA. They do not speak for me, nor for MANY/MOST other gun owners I know.
    Thirdly, if you don't think arming responsible adults in schools will increase protection, examine the response times of police to calls, and how many people can be killed during that wait. The horrific mall shooting near you, had they waited for police, would have been so much worse if an armed member of the general public hadn't pulled his gun and aimed it at the criminal who then turned his gun on himself.
    Fourthly, people who kill other people are already breaking laws. You can't stop their actions by more law. Congress et.al cannot stop the violence.
    Finally, isn't it ironic that The Journal News, the paper that put together an online interactive map with the names and addresses of all the handgun permits in their area (EXCEPT the author, who didn't include himself in the dataset), after having the names and addresses of the 50 employees who worked on the project similarly published, hired ARMED guards for their office? Sweet, sweet irony.
    I'm going to keep this anonymous, but Murr, I think you'll know who I am, and perhaps even be surprised by the fact that the rainy day we spent together was not a day I was unarmed.

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    1. Appreciate your comment. To which I will only put out a few observations:

      I'm surprised and pleased that the NRA does not speak for you or most gun owners you know. I thought there was more monolithic support for the NRA, which can be almost cult-like. So good.

      I do not have a specific proposal at all, and I don't think I suggested one here. If anything, I think I would l like to see registration of weapons tightened up so that we have more of an idea their particular provenance, and I would like to see more teeth in laws (if there are any) to keep guns secure in their lawful homes. I don't want to see Johnny bringing Mom's gun to school. For instance.

      I'm very aware that many people believe I am safer for there being more guns around, in the custody of people like you, and believe that these mass shootings are likely to be less deadly for that, and that I would be more secure with guns in my house, but my gut does not believe it. We'll have to disagree on that. That said, feel free to pop a cap in anyone you see threatening me with a gun.

      I don't think it was a good idea for the Journal News to publish that information, but I don't think it was necessarily ironic that they felt the need to hire armed guards when they did. Let's just say that they probably wouldn't have done that if they'd done something to piss off stamp collectors.

      I agree that we probably cannot stop the violence, and certainly not with any one piece of legislation. But the Port Arthur Massacre referenced above, and the response, is worth studying.

      This entire issue of guns in America is very balled-up and emotional and that is why you needed to take a deep breath. Understand that it is not my primary issue, or even close. Climate change is going to take us out a lot more thoroughly. But I thought I'd step into the fray just a little bit anyway, even if it upsets my friends.

      Finally, at the moment I can't think who you are, because spending a rainy day with someone in Oregon is kind of an everyday event, but I'm not surprised: all my friends write well!



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  12. Newtown CT caused people the world over to stop and hug the ones we love, and to hurt for those people who were so cruelly robbed. The pain of those families is felt everyday world wide as guns, bombs, mines, grenades kill and maim. I wish I had an answer, but firmly believe that more guns is NOT it.
    Wonderful post Murr. Thank you.

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  13. Brava, Murr! You nailed it again! I see no reason why people need semi-automatic or automatic guns. My son sees it differently... the one area in which we have agreed to disagree. (Although, mother does know best!)

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    1. Only ONE area? He must be well past the teenage years.

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  14. http://www.gocomics.com/jerryholbert
    See the Dec 21 cartoon. Goes right along.

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  15. Oh wow, Murr, so beautifully said. And without hysteria, which seems sadly lacking in this particular debate recently. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel. Like Carolyn, I'm posting the link to your blog on my FB page in the hopes that your calm logic will reach others and provide some balance to that slippery slope argument.

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    1. I'm trying to think of slippery-slope arguments I use myself, but I really don't. It would be about environmental stuff though, I guess. You can't let that industry pollute a little bit or pretty soon they'll be dumping sludge in the Grand Canyon. Well, that's what I THINK, but it's not what I say, at least.

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  16. Murr, I myself have avoided this topic like the plague. I'm not ambivalent at all about it.But my opinion is also not at all like that of my most liberal friends or like that of my most libertian ones. It lies somewhere in what I consider the "fair and balanced" middle and sounds almost identical to yours. I do indeed own arms. Not many. But they are what I would refer to as "civilian arms". Leaving aside rocket launchers, bazookas, etc. which is military ordenance that has no place in any civilian's hands, you have to narrow down the field. In my days in the US Army, I was an expert marksman with an M-16 assault rifle. In fact, I was the most expert in my brigade at Fort Bragg. I am also a highly responsible gun owner. But none of that makes me believe for a second that I should have an M-16, an AK-47 or any other military-grade weapon in my home, nor would I believe my rights were being infringed on if I were told I wasn't allowed to own one, because those are arms that were designed and invented for only one thing: massive-fire anti-personnel missions. Unless you're expecting a visit from the Red Army, you don't need them. Your logical way of looking at this issue is stunningly clear. And I'm in total agreement with it. Thanks for speaking up.

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    1. The "highly responsible gun owner" phrase has got to be part of this. These things should be locked up or under someone's control and there should be major penalties for letting them get away somehow. And I'm all for everyone having all the muskets they desire.

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  17. How about if we let people have any guns they want, but for anything other than a hunting rifle, require a huge yearly permit fee that goes entirely to mental health programs?

    I grew up in the country. If you get a pack of dogs after your calves, you want to be able to discourage them. If you see a rattlesnake in the hen yard, you want to eradicate it. No one in their right mind would turn a gun on a harmless human being. Shooting kids? that's insane!

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    1. You're right. I was a city girl, but I'm here to tell you I got plenty nervous about packs of dogs going after my calves.

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    2. O my gosh, as a postal deliverer, you must have been under constant assault!

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    3. Five bites in 31 years, all in the first five years.

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  18. Good read.
    Like you said " The slope goes both ways" and there is a thin line to to take a decision.

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    1. Yeah, why is it we only hear about the one direction the slope can go in?

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  19. Murr...always so eloquent and almost effortlessly you get to the heart and soul of something so difficult to define. I straddle the two worlds...my husband and family have always owned guns, hunted, target shooting...the like. They are responsible, educate themselves, practice safety and keep things locked up. Nothing they own could realistically be used in self-defense..these are huge shotguns, not personal protection handguns. Regardless, I have banished them from my home, as I feel LESS safe (as you mentioned above) with a firearm in my home, and less safe for my children.
    On the other side of my family is my brother in law, who has a 6 figure income, drives a Porsche, wears a 3 piece suit to work each day and is a raging alcoholic. He owns over 30 guns. He has been known to "play" with his Glock after having a few bottles of wine, or after a hard week of work or travel...yeah, hey, lets' go clean the guns.
    Who is going to take HIS gun away? Why on Earth does he need 30 of them? Is MY sister safer because her husband has 30 guns??? People can plead personal responsibility all they want, but there are THOUSANDS of people just like my bro-in-law who, IMHO, should not have guns.
    I do not think that when I argue for gun control, or gun reform that I am advocating for ALL guns to be taken away from ALL people, but this is just ridiculous. This country has a problem...an addiction to firearms, an irrational fear of each other and the media perpetuates it.
    I don't know the answer either, but here in CT, we are still reeling, still weeping, still shaking our heads and counting our blessings as we drive through Newtown, where you can almost audibly hear the collective sadness weeping from the treetops...
    Thanks Murr....

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    1. One thing that does trouble me is the intensity of the attachment people feel to their firearms. I guess it's like worrying about gambling addicts when you're not afflicted with it, but it just seems unhealthy to me. I mean, it goes to people's very core, and it just seems like it shouldn't. Then again, I'm that way about beer.

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  20. To believe its necessary to carry a concealed weapon or own assault weapons for protection is warped. To do so because you distrust, even fear, other people is some sort of paranoia. We live in a relatively safe country but we're awash in ignorance and foul myths about ourselves. Children are slaughtered and what happens? People are buying more guns because of knee-jerky delusional fears.

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    1. For a country that hardly EVER gets invaded, we certainly spook easily.

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  21. Beautifully put. I've missed this blog.

    The idea that we have every right to own lots of guns and buy them just about anywhere is monstrous. I don't think we should ban all guns, but we should make it very hard for people to buy them, and we should carefully monitor what kind of people buy them, and what kinds. Also, ammunition should be more strictly controlled. None of that limits our self-expression in any way. 'A well-regulated militia' is what the constitution stipulates. We've lost sight of that first part.

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    1. I recommend this bit from my friend the littleorangeguy.

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  22. I'm really glad that I don't think I have to own a gun so that I can feel safe. In fact, that way of thinking puts my brain into cramps trying to follow it. I do understand country folk wanting to have a rifle to protect their livestock. I do understand people who hunt to put food on their tables for their families. But carrying a weapon as you go about your daily life so that you can "protect" yourself must take up so much brain space with paranoia and fear; that just stumps me. Good post, Murr.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean. It's a completely different mindset. And yours and mine would be considered very naive.

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    2. Exactly how many people in this country are protecting their livestock with a trusty Winchester? And how many people are there hunting and shooting their dinners? Statistics tell us the population numbers are in urban areas so, are the livestock and dinner vittles park pigeons and squirrels?

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  23. yes, yes, yes and yes! great to see the link to the weapons we supply without controversy that are doing untold damage to children and families outside our borders.

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    1. Yeah, no one else mentioned that! The very horror of losing 3000 people in a terrorist act and then going into a country and killing 100,000 people--holy shit. Of course, they're not REGULAR people.

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  24. I try very hard to be an informed elder, but I'm not real good at getting my feelings across, here is someone that explains it much better than I...
    http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/an-opinion-on-gun-control/

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  25. It seems so simple.

    Guns kill kids.

    Of any age.

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