Tag Archives: guns

Hero of the Week: January 11, Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly, and Americans for Responsible Solutions

11 Jan
Heroes of the Week

Heroes of the Week

This week someone who knows something about gun violence weighed in on the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D – AZ) was shot two years ago in an attack that left six dead. America grieved and raged for a couple of weeks and then got distracted as the NRA staved off any real action in Congress. Since that time, gun violence has only grown worse, with two of the worst attacks in American history (both at schools) occurred amidst a dozen other mass shootings.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, went to Sandy Hook to offer their condolences. She also spent time behind closed doors with survivors to share her advice and experience in dealing with the fallout from such a horrifying experience. The couple also put their money where their passion is, launching a new organization to fight for stronger, smarter control of guns in America. The mission of the organization clearly targets elected officials and their timidity in the face of gun lobby money.

Americans for Responsible Solutions will encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them.

Giffords also wrote a passionate op-ed for USA Today which spells out the problem clearly.

Special interests purporting to represent gun owners but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission. Rather than working to find the balance between our rights and the regulation of a dangerous product, these groups have cast simple protections for our communities as existential threats to individual liberties. Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction.

We can’t be naive about what it will take to achieve the most common-sense solutions. We can’t just hope that the last shooting tragedy will prevent the next. Achieving reforms to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources.

Thank you, Rep. Giffords for expending your political capital on this important issue. Let us hope that your passion, commitment, and personal experience can help keep the dialogue moving forward and begin a real diminishment of the pointless tragedy that is gun violence in our country.

Bigot of the Week Award: December 21, The National Review with a Shot of NRA

21 Dec
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

Yes, this is the first time in TSM history we actually have a tie for BWA, but WOW! we got some dirt and hate that just won’t wash clean.  In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, the response from The National Review (also known as the “He Man Women Haters Club”) and the behavior of the NRA have just about pushed me over the edge of civility.  Yes, there are some folk I would just love to slap bald, in my best pacifist way of course.

The National Review published the most toxic misogyny as an opinion piece about the shootings. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel — the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist” — were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers. […]

[An elementary school is] in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel.

I don’t know where to start. How about saying that male aggression is a good thing when all 28 dead are the victims of that very thing? How about maintaining that women are weak and defenseless and must have men around to protect them? How about ignoring the bravery and sacrifice of the women who ran that school, some of whom died facing male aggression? This writer automatically gets a nomination for Bigot of the Year. (As an added bonus, many of the basic facts of the article were simply wrong, including the fact that one of the staff — the janitor in fact — was male. Facts don’t matter when there’s hate to spew!)

Meanwhile, the NRA spent most of the week in its camo fatigues. Trying to ignore the fact that its lobbyists made it possible for Adam Lanza to get his hands on the weapons he used to butcher children, the usually loud gun group was suspiciously silent. They took down their Facebook page and their usual fusillade of tweets was stilled. When they finally had something to say, it was tepid.

Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

Followed by a defensive statement by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.

I think an unprecedented attack on the Second Amendment is going to come hard, I think it is going to come fast, and I think it is going to come soon.

Yeah, that sure sounds like a “meaningful contribution” to changing the status quo. The NRA is almost solely responsible for the fact that most Americans can buy automatic weapons whose only conceivable purpose is to maim and kill other human beings. Once those weapons have been purchased, they can easily fall into anyone’s hands. In what world does that make any conceivable sense? Massacres like Sandy Hook are impossible without this kind of firepower. Let the NRA feel like the victim here; it’s about time they understood how the thousands of families that suffer gun violence every year feel.

Don’t forget, TSM is still taking nominations for Bigot of the Year Award.

UPDATE: By now everyone is probably aware that since they won the BWA this week, the NRA has jumped the shark. LaPierre — looking like a tired and seedy televangelist — presented the organization’s “meaningful contribution.” After this stereotypical representative of the aging white male power structure blamed Hollywood, the media, and video games for the violence, he offered a two-pronged solution. First, stigmatize the suffering by creating a mental health registry; the weapons don’t matter, after all, it’s just those crazy people! (Pot, meet kettle.) Second, put an armed guard in every school and eliminate gun-free zones around schools so potential killers won’t know where to find lots of easy victims. The NRA used to be an organization for gun owners; it has fully transformed into a lobby for weapons manufacturers and a haven for extremist white paranoia. How sad.

God, Guns, and Gays…

17 Dec

palin-gun-100309National tragedies provide us with many kinds of opportunities. As the country joins the people of Newtown, CT in mourning, we also celebrate the quiet heroism of the teachers and staff who helped keep the carnage from being any worse. Some paid for their bravery with their lives; others survived to help with the healing.

Sadly, too many of the usual suspects are clamoring to appropriate the suffering for their own nefarious purposes. Displaying his ususal KKKristian charity, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer blamed our constitutionally decreed religion-neutral society. Saying — without a hint of irony — that God is a gentleman who “will not go where he is not wanted,” Fischer claims that public school prayer and religious instruction would have resulted in the almighty stopping this tragedy in its tracks. Nor is he alone. Failed Presidential candidate, false compassionate conservative, and rightwing radio blowhard Mike Huckabee jumped on the same bandwagon.

We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?

Perhaps more to the point, why would we expect a narrowminded, violent Old Testament version of god to protect anyone? To wit, the loathsome legion from Westboro Baptist. Always willing to blame the LGBT community for, well, everything, they plan to picket around Sandy Hook Elementary, labelling the senseless slaughter of 26 innocent women and children as the “glory of God’s work in executing his judgment.” Nice choice of words, as always.

As those on the right rattle their sabers for God, the gun lobby tells everyone that now is not the time for politics, wanting to let the memory of this tragedy fade before we try to engage in a rational discussion about what kinds of weapons belong in the hands of everyday citizens. Over the past 15 years America has suffered far too many of these kinds of incidents — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, now Sandy Hook — and each time there’s a brief flare of “somebody ought to do something” followed by silence and inaction. Let us not forget about Gabrielle Giffords and the shootings in Arizona–Sarah Palin and her hungry gun culture ilk certainly have blood on their hands.

When a mentally ill man can grab legally purchased guns from his mother’s home and fire multiple rounds into the bodies of six- and seven-year-old children, there is something seriously wrong. USA Today published a powerful editorial that pointed out three things we need to look at quickly and carefully.

  • How do we enforce the laws that already exist to minimize the risks and damage?
  • What commonsense restrictions on automatic weapons and military style ammunition do we need to put in place?
  • How can we strengthen the safety net for the mentallly ill to provide them the support they need to minimize the risk of this kind of break?

We cannot let these deaths, adding to the tragic and rapidly mounting toll, be in vain. We must have hard conversations and take decisive action.

UPDATE: As the details roll in and the country continues to mourn the devastating and horrifically violent deaths, the call for sensible revision of gun laws is heating up in the nation’s capital. President Obama wisely noted

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

The NRA and other guns and ammo groups, meanwhile, remain silent, at best offering tepid sympathy for the families.

Staunch gun supporter Sen. Joe Manchin (D – WV), a lifetime member of the NRA, is also pushing for change.

I just came with my family from deer hunting. I’ve never had more than three shells in a clip. Sometimes you don’t get more than one shot anyway at a deer. It’s common sense. It’s time to move beyond rhetoric. We need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way.

Incoming Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D – ND) and Joe Donnelly (D – IN), also supporters of gun rights, are vowing to help change laws to protect the innocent when they are sworn in in January. They’ll join longstanding advocates of gun control like Charles Schumer (D – NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D – CA). Let’s hope they can build the momentum to transform tragedy into action.

A Country in Mourning…

21 Jul

Today our nation awakes in confusion and sadness as we mourn the loss of 12 of our brothers and sisters in Colorado, with dozens more injured and in pain. Our hearts are  heavy with grief and we all wear a veil of bewilderment.  At moments like this, I wonder when we — as a nation — will finally have a candid conversation around gun control, masculinity, sexism, and racism.

This latest shooting by a white man also stirred up anger, frustration, and disappointment in the unbalanced conversation about violence in our country. Media blowhards and misguided authorities regularly vilify Muslims and disproportionately police African-American men when we seem to ignore the pattern of white male terrorists. I think about Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Scott Roeder of Operation Rescue, just to name a few. I also look at the case building against George ZImmerman and have to say that I’m much more fearful of young white heterosexual men than any other population.

Our obsession with guns is more than just a little disturbing, as many hide behind the false cloak of the 2nd Amendment. The number of online references to the potential to save life by walking armed in the wake of Aurora truly baffles and saddnes me. I have to wonder how many lives we could save if we made a real effort to manage what kinds of weapons really belong in the hands of the average citizen. We control drugs, alcohol, medicine, and access to health care but not devices of destruction that can, in minutes, change hundreds of lives?

My heart goes out to all of the families impacted by the tragedy in Aurora and I can only hope we evolve as a nation and work together to stop this pattern.

Performing on the World Stage: Presidential or Pratfall?

7 Jan

Not Again!

As the United States has been absorbed in the absurd circus that is the Republican Presidential hopefuls, the media have taken a very American focus on the candidates: What does it mean for us? There is plenty of talk about taxes, budgets, abortion, and the GOP big three (God, guns, and gays). What gets largely overlooked, other than the occasional reference to Iraq and Afghanistan, is our role as a major nation on the world stage. We know that Mitt Romney is a Mormon flip-flop robot, Newt Gingrich is a serial adulterer with a temper, Ron Paul is a faux Libertarian who can’t be bothered to read a newsletter published under his own name, and Rick Santorum is obsessed with men having sex with men. What we don’t know is how any of these candidates would deal with international politics.

As Americans,  shouldn’t we be also asking how will the President of the United States (leader of the “free” world) interact with other major players and show both diplomacy and leadership?  The US took a colossal hit in our world reputation during the George W. years.  The world took a collective sigh of relief when President Obama took office.

I’m asking people to think about how any of the GOP candidates will work with  Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani, or Prime Minister Wen Jiabao?  We also need to look at the very delicate balance of power and influence of  Erdoğan on the world stage.  The world does not look kindly upon bullies and the GOP have proven through the ad nauseam debates that they are nothing but a bigoted bunch of bullies.  What worries me even more is how many of the GOP candidates even know who the world players are. Can they point them out on a map?

When we look at issues of healthcare and how we treat human beings, we need to be willing to learn from our world neighbors.  Currently, the United States comes in at 12th place on issues such as: Life Expectancy, Adult Literacy, School Enrollment, GDP per capita.  Might we need to look to  Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for ideas around health care?

While I certainly want our President to be a leader for civil rights here in the United States (pro-reproductive rights for women, pro-marriage equality, work to change the distribution of wealth and power) I also want a President that can show true leadership with a calm and clear head, such as President Obama.  We must avoid the shackles of ignorance and isolationism.

Sarah Palin’s Street Gang:Gabrielle Giffords Revisited

15 Nov

Welcome Back Rep. Giffords

I am absolutely elated to see that Rep. Giffords is recuperating and visible.  I’m amazed and grateful that she is alive and able to move her life forward–talk about resiliency.  While I am grateful that we still have Gabrielle Giffords, I am profoundly disturbed that we have yet to address the culture of violence promoted by Sarah Palin and her ilk that helped to create the environment in which Giffords and others were shot down at a grocery store.

I’m also glad Rep. Giffords had access to adequate healthcare, something many Americans do not have access to because it is linked to employment.  Yes, I don’t believe it is a coincidence that the US Supreme Court has decided to weigh in on the issue of Health Care Reform during the middle of an election year.  The Fecal Five have been quite transparent in wanting to oust President Obama–gee, no racism there!

Back to the culture of violence which has not changed since the shooting in Arizona.  What has changed? Have Palin, Brewer, or Angle “taken personal responsibility” as they are so fond of saying? Do we remain a Gun Crazy Nation?

Jessica Valenti’s articleThe Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords highlights the “Man-up” culture in US politics: In a country that sees violent masculinity as the ideal, it’s no wonder this rhetoric resonates, does a remarkable job of looking at Tea Party women that have promoted a culture of violence.  Sheriff Dupnikacknowledged this disgrace in his press conference.

Valenti looks at several key culprits, including Sharron Angle, who suggested that if Congress “keeps going the way it is”, people would turn toward “second amendment remedies”. (The second amendment of the US constitution outlines the right of Americans to bear arms.) And in an interview with a local Nevada paper, Angle said: “The nation is arming … If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”

I love how Valenti articulates how these right wing women buy into a masculine model of violence for political expediency: “Stephen Ducat, author of The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity, says that masculine and violent language is often used in elections and campaigns – especially by men on the right – because of a fear of being perceived as feminine. In a sexist society, what could be worse than being called a girl? So it doesn’t seem unlikely that conservative female politicians feel the need to peddle their ideas in gendered and violent language in order to fit in with the masculinised right.”  Republican Christine O’Donnell said that her opponent was “unmanly”; Angle told Harry Reid to “man up”; and Palin praised Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer as having “the cojones that our president does not have” to enforce immigration laws–all embarrassing examples of the promotion of violence.  Did these women not believe there words would have consequences?  I hope you will take the time to read the article in full.

Doesn’t Everyone Need a Gun at College?

9 Apr

Don't All College Students Need A Gun

Yes, Audience, we are back to Arizona and that madcap Jan Brewer. What better environment to carry a gun than a college campus? We all know how dangerous those institutions of higher learning are.  Reading Walt Whitman, Jane Austen, Alice Walker, and Plato’s Symposium is just an invitation to mayhem.  I am certain that Whitman would have made the guns for Ms. Celie and Elizabeth Bennett to have had their duel.  Why bother talking existentialism and the power of words and persuasion when you can simply take your gun out? In fact, we don’t need colleges and universities, when we simply subscribe to the age old maxim: Might is Right, thus proving there is nothing to separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. In fact, we owe a debt of gratitude to the gun slinging Brewer and her gang, for proving that devolution does exist. On Thursday night, Arizona lawmakers gave their final approval for Senate Bill 1467, which allows guns on college campuses; it now awaits the Governor’s signature. Is anyone else as terrified as I am about this?  Is anyone paying attention?  Click here to see the full story.

Gunning for a good search…

20 Feb

This is not a Gun "site"

I am truly enjoying this whole blogging experience and hope that in my small way I am contributing to society–that I am making people think, or reflect, or take action. A strange learning experience for me along this journey of blogging is how the internet works, or does not work. I have to say  I love that my blog reaches people all over the world. I love that I get comments from people in India, Bulgaria, and Australia. I love that I get messages from parents trying to understand their gay or lesbian child. I love that people come to my blog for stories on civil rights, Women’s History, Black History, and LGBT issues. With that being said, I have been bemused by the mind-boggling number of search engine terms that bring people to my blog. For those of you that are regular followers, it does not come as a surprise that I am a pacifist, and social activist for civil rights. How ironic then that one of the largest search engine terms that brings people to my blog is “guns.”  Yes, over 13% of all of my search engine terms that direct people to The Solipsistic Me (TSM) is the word gun or guns. I can only imagine how sad the reader must be when they see the story it brings them to, usually Gun Crazy Nation. Of course, I am sad that more people search the word gun than Coretta Scott King, or women’s rights, or Marriage Equality. Now I am left to ponder the implications of a gun obsessed culture–a culture that privileges violence over peace, violence over equality, violence over political party. Who are these angry violent voices? Sadly, they are usually the voices of “christians.

Beck Benefits by Bellicose Bombast

23 Jan

The Face of an American Terrorist

The new Republican Chair of New Hampshire, Jack Kimball, said that his hero was Glenn Beck.  This gives me great worry and should also worry the rest of the country that Kimball’s hero is, by all accounts, a terrorist!  Yes, Beck and those promoting violence are nothing less than terrorists. I think we see concrete evidence of this in the tragedy that is Tucson–thank you Beck, Palin, Brewer, and Angle. I received a great comment from a fellow blogger yesterday and now I would like to share this link to his blog.  He does a great job of exposing Beck for the terrorist he is. So how do we stop these American Terrorist?  Well, we take their voice away.  We stop watching Fox News. We stop listening to functioning illiterates like Sarah Palin. We stop listening to the lies and the anti-woman, anti-gay, and anti-poor rhetoric.  This Klan of white angry folk breed fear and earn a great fortune from instilling fear.  Here is a link to the definition of terrorist: click here.

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