A Gun Owner on the Subject of Guns

It is said all the time here in the US that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  In light of the latest horrible episode depicting the horror wrought by one human on another, the saying should be changed.

“Guns may not kill people, but people carrying guns kill people.”
More people carrying guns will only lead to more dead, not less.  

People legally carrying guns into schools, parks, and theaters will not deter the senseless, horrific killings of innocents.  By all means, if you chose to own guns, do so, but do so at home, or on the gun range. Do so after receiving training. Do so with the knowledge that only nutcases talk about killing others.  Spouting off that you are prepared to kill another, even in self-defense, does not make you sound brave. It makes you sound foolish.

Many men and women train to protect the nation and its citizens with deadly force if needed, but I doubt they brag about the actual idea of killing another human being.  It is one thing to own a gun in honor of your Freedom to do so, it is completely different to own a gun with the intent to kill someone.  If you doubt this, ask a cop or a soldier.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have lost their lives or their loved ones this week.  My heart aches for your sorrow.

Censorship or Good Neighbor

Is it censorship or a violation to constitutional rights when a privately owned company providing a service chooses to set decency policies?  In a recent Facebook debate, I read a multitude of criticism over Facebook deleting a photo some deemed objectionable and others deemed humorous.   The following are some questions that came to my mind.

  1. When does a privately owned company providing a service become so big that it is perceived as “public” space rather than a service?
  2. Why is an attempt to protect civility or decency perceived as a civil rights infringement to so many?
  3. When did the public come to conclusion it is a smart idea to save original data, photos or conversations on a server they do not personally own?

I have become a huge fan of using technology and social media to communicate with distant acquaintances and friends.  I have found social media to be an enjoyable way to connect, but I always utilize the advice of my mother, my journalism instructors and my own common sense.

Accountability

I have already written about the problem of entitlement and how society tends misplace the blame for this societal ill.  This is not the only area in which society is misplacing blame and avoiding individual accountability.

While reading an article today on the recession, and perusing the comments made in response, I once again was amazed at how accountability is sorely lacking in our society.  For the record, I believe that the role of the government is to safeguard the people, and understand that while regulations sometimes restrict economic progress, they can also aid in safeguarding the people.  With that being said, when I hear assertions that the recession is the fault of our most recent presidents, or Wall Street, I get a bit miffed.  Yes, Wall Street should be held accountable for their greedy actions and our government should have been more diligent in its oversight, but when are we the individuals going to accept the unpopular accountability for our own choices and actions?

When I read about how more young people need to live at home because they can’t afford their own place, or of the difficulties associated with buying or keeping a home, I wonder why we blame the government.  How is it that we can argue over government enforced healthcare, claim the government is interfering in our lives, yet at the same time cry foul that the government hasn’t helped us find a job or buy a home?

Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the people of our nation. This recession has hit us all in ways we did not foresee, but foreseen or not, we should have been better prepared.  Like any good Boy Scout will tell you, there is wisdom in the motto “Be Prepared”.  This can mean creating a plan if you live in a hurricane or flood zone, because the 100 year disaster may coincide with your lifespan.  It can mean having food storage or a generator if you live in an area that gets heavy snow.  It should definitely mean  becoming informed before you buy a home.   Owning a house is expensive and there are costs besides the mortgage you will pay.  Get informed before you buy, and if it will sap your budget, buy smaller or buy later.  A house can be a great blessing and investment, but don’t purchase the dream, invest in the reality.

Understandably it is hard to prepare for unemployment.  Often we live month-to-month barely getting by, and building a nest egg feels difficult to achieve.  However, young or old it is the responsibility of the able-bodied to be prepared and to be informed.  If this means having a back-up plan to sell your house and move in with relatives, or take on roommates, then be prepared to do so.

One report on housing states that we must go back to the 50’s to find so many multigenerational households.  I find this claim to be interesting.  Isn’t that the era in which our entitlement nature really sprouted?  New houses, new cars and new gadgets for the home; college educations a middleclass norm; and dreams of retirement at age 65 were the dreams of that generation.  Now the youth of the 50’s have grandkids and those grandkids are struggling to live up to, and pay for the dream.

Dreaming big is not a bad thing, but the recession was a reality check for everyone.  For dreams to become reality, hard work is required. This hard work does not follow an employer’s time-clock.  It does not retire.  It does not grow up and move out.  It does not get paid off.  The American Dream is bigger than a house, or a two car garage, or a retirement account.  It has more value than a vacation home, or a boat.  It is not measured by the size of your income or your bank account.

The American Dream for a secure tomorrow is not the responsibility of the President; it is the responsibility of the individual.  Our elected officials work for us, and if we are asking for all the wrong things, then that is what they will provide us.  The Preamble of the Constitution states:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It doesn’t promise a house, or a college education, or a car.  It promises justice, civil order and defense.  It promotes general welfare but does not promise it. Finally, it secures liberty.

The government of the United States does play a huge role in the nation’s prosperity, but the individual plays a greater role.  Citizenship is not like high school, where you get credit for showing up, doing the work and then going home.  Citizenship requires accountability for one’s own choices and actions.  Blaming others, especially the government, may seem easier, but in the long run, individual accountability will provide prosperity.

A Dilemma to Ponder

A recent media blitz has centered on whether men or women have been more adversely affected by the current U.S. recession. It is just the latest in a long line of discussions about unemployment and the slow economy. Democrats have pointed to the fact that the bad economy began during the Bush years.  Republicans have pointed to the fact that Obama hasn’t “fixed” the economy during his three years. It seems everyone has an opinion about rich people’s taxes, rising gas prices, and the ineffectiveness of government.  

With all of these opinions, is it strange that there is confusion on what the candidates believe? 

So when a candidate actually speaks about what they plan to do if they are elected, I like to take notice.

 “I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Romney said. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I’m not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we’ve got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.” Mitt Romney 15Apr2012

It is important to remember that for every “bureaucrat” who works in D.C., there are dozens of regular support staff who are simply trying to earn a wage. It won’t be easy for them to find replacement jobs, even if jobs get sent “back to the states”.

While I agree that the federal government is too big and could use some serious pruning, I wonder if a recession is the right time to be talking about large scale downsizing.  

It does make for a dilemma…

Common Sense??? – A Cry for War?

Is a cry for war an acceptable political slogan? It has been used as one often, and it does make a good rallying point for the fearful masses.

It makes me think back to the days prior to the American Revolution. I can imagine the debate between two cousins. Samuel Adams would have been accusing John Adams of being too rational and pointing out that there was no negotiating with a crazy king.  John would have been arguing for the use of diplomatic relations, and going to war only as a last resort.

The cry for war is not a new tactic, the speed of the cry reaching the world has accelerated and the scope has amplified. Crazy or not, I am sure that no king likes to be called names or given demands and ultimatums.  I doubt that leaders of the 1700’s would have heard the words of every rhetoric shouting hot head with an agenda.   Today it is easy to hear, record, and catalog all the rhetoric.  It is also easy for leaders to use the rhetoric as an excuse for aggressive behavior under the pretense of defensive international policy.

While I believe most international leaders recognize the current rhetoric spewing coming from the mouths of presidential wannabes as nothing more than campaign politics, I suspect there are a great many civilians who hear real threats to their nations and their safety when US candidates call for tougher US foreign policies.

At some point the politicians and citizens of the United States need to recognize that while we may not always like or get along with our neighbors, we don’t have to go to war with them over it.  There very well may reach a time when physical conflict cannot be avoided. First strike capability is a good tool in our defense arsenal, but flexing our muscles too often makes us a bully and not a world leader.

Common Sense ??? – The Palin Election Strategy

In my second installment on Common Sense???, I would like to highlight an amusing, yet spot-on article about a sad trend in US politics. Washington Post contributor, Richard Cohen begins his article, Sarah Palin’s foolishness ruined U.S. politics, in the form of a movie critique.  While I for one do not plan to watch the HBO movie Game Change, having watched the debacle unfold in real time was more than enough, Cohen’s critique seems to follow the same gist as other reporters, claiming the movie makers have based their script on insider interviews.

Cohen’s article diverges from standard media coverage of the film as he moves away from a movie critique and begins to discuss a tragic result of the 2008 campaign; something I have called the Palin Election Strategy (PES)*.  Cohen defines this strategy with the election slogan, “Vote for me, I know nothing and hate the same things you do.” 

With this strategy in mind, Cohen proceeds to evaluate the 2012 Republican candidate lineup based upon the candidate’s similarities with Palin, and what he fears has become the new GOP’s platform. He finds that most of the candidates have been infected – I mean affected in some way.

More worrisome for our nation is the apparent effectiveness of this type of strategy and contagious spread of the acceptance of uninformed national candidates. I concur with Cohen when he warns the Democrats that PES might also be contagious to those outside the GOP field and voting pool.

While I enjoyed reading the article, I hate to say it, but Sara Palin is not the creator of this political strategy.  Anyone who has ever witnessed a middle-school student body election should recognize the familiarity of PES.  Hopefully planning, plenty of homework, and a real fear of embarrassment, will set our nation up for a more mature 2016 election cycle.

* I was tickled to read, “Vote for me, I know nothing and hate the same things you do.”  To me this slogan defines a great deal of the campaign rhetoric of 2012.  Palin Campaign Strategy (PES) is a title of my own making.  Hopefully PES will not become a worldwide epidemic, and it will be eradicated by 2016.  If not eradicated, I can at least hope that it will be relegated back to the world of secondary education.