Monthly Archives: June 2016

Gun Week, Part 7: U.S. Gun Deaths

(During our time together The Curmudgeon has written occasionally, but not too often, about guns and the havoc they are wreaking on our society. In light of last weekend’s events in Orlando he is devoting this week to the issue of guns. A few of the pieces are new and others are from the past – in one case, only two weeks ago.)

 *       *       *

While not an advocate of totally banning guns, The Curmudgeon has been pretty clear about his belief that something needs to be done about how easy they are to get and how easy it is for the bad guys get them.

So now he’d like to turn the floor over to another writer: Aaron Sorkin, through his West Wing character Toby Ziegler.

See what he/they have to say here.

 

Advertisements

Gun Week, Part 6: Reverse Gun Control

(During our time together The Curmudgeon has written occasionally, but not too often, about guns and the havoc they are wreaking on our society. In light of last weekend’s events in Orlando he is devoting this week to the issue of guns. A few of the pieces are new and others are from the past – in one case, only two weeks ago.)

 *       *       *

In the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, gun control is on the minds of a lot of people these days.  The Curmudgeon is a bit ambivalent:  he thinks that other than police officers and legitimate, licensed hunters, no one has any reason to own or possess a gun under any circumstances.  While not exactly a constitutional scholar, The Curmudgeon’s reading of the constitution is that it guarantees the right to bear arms for citizens who are members of a government-endorsed militia.

Seen any government militias lately?

Still, The Curmudgeon recognizes that if you make it impossible to buy guns through legal means, the bad guys will still find a way to get them and then it will be the armed bad guys versus the unarmed good guys.  It’s not a problem that lends itself to easy solutions.

But the real gun nuts are not giving the issue nearly as much thought – or perhaps we should say not nearly as much intelligent thought.

The Curmudgeon says this because into the fray rides Pennsylvania state representative Jeff Pyle, who clearly is in the “put guns in the hands of everyone” camp with his new proposal to establish one day every year on which Pennsylvanians not only can buy guns but also can buy them without paying any sales tax.

In other words, make it easier, not harder, for people to get guns.

According to the online publication PA Independent,

Pyle said his legislation could be a way for Pennsylvania to get their attention as a “Second Amendment-friendly” state.  “I’m throwing a flare into the air and telling them we’re open for business,” Pyle said.

Wonderful.  It’s not bad enough that Pennsylvania has its own gun nuts.  Now, Rep. Pyle wants to invite other gun nuts to the state – to throw his flare into the air, whatever that means.

That’s Representative Jeff Pyle of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania – you know, the “Pennsyl-tucky” part of the state.

Seems more like Gomer Pyle to The Curmudgeon.

Gun Week, Part 5: Guns Don’t Kill; People Kill

(During our time together The Curmudgeon has written occasionally, but not too often, about guns and the havoc they are wreaking on our society. In light of last weekend’s events in Orlando he is devoting this week to the issue of guns. A few of the pieces are new and others are from the past – in one case, only two weeks ago.)

 *       *       *

Some interesting facts and figures about Americans and their guns, courtesy of Mother Jones magazine.

Think life is safer in states like yours where it’s easier to get a gun?  Think again:  the gun murder rate is 114 percent higher in states with the highest gun ownership rates.  In other words, the more guns, the more gun murders.  Seems logical, doesn’t it?

Disturbed by aggressive driving?  You shouldn’t be disturbed – you should be scared.  Drivers who carry guns are 44 percent more likely to flip you the bird and 77 percent more likely to follow you aggressively.

Nothing like a Smith & Wesson in the glove compartment to give a guy a little courage.

But the National Rifle Association helps address problems like these through extensive training of gun owners – something it’s long claimed to be one of its most important missions.  Well, if the NRA is so good at what it does and so dedicated to training gun owners to be responsible, how come 43 percent of homes with guns and kids have at least one unlocked gun?

Looks like the NRA needs some remedial gun education itself.

The NRA also points to video games as a cause of gun violence.  If that’s true, how come the Japanese spend more per capita on video games than Americans ($55 to $44) and there were 11,030 gun murders in the U.S. in 2008 and only eleven – that’s ten plus one – in Japan that year?

That’s all fine and good but you’ve got a gun and you know, absolutely, that having it makes you safer.  The thing is, what you think you know and the facts aren’t necessarily related; in fact, it turns out they’re not even kissin’ cousins.  A study in Philadelphia, for example, found that if you’re an assault victim carrying a gun, you’re four to five times more likely to get yourself shot and more than four times more likely to get yourself shot and killed than if you were unarmed.

So much for your gun protecting you.

But ladies, surely you’re safe if the man in your life has a gun, right?  Actually, that would be wrong:  you’re six times more likely to be shot by that same gun-totin’ husband, boyfriend, or ex than you are by a total stranger.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

The NRA spends a lot of time and a lot of money telling us – and telling us and telling us and telling us – how things should be, so maybe it just ran out of energy when it came to giving us the complete picture:  like how 74 percent of gun owners support background checks for all gun buyers; like how 67 percent support background checks for ammunition buyers; like how 55 percent support a ban on high-capacity clips; like how 45 percent support a ban on assault weapons; and like how 30 percent take a dim view of the NRA.

And finally, for you gun owners out there who are worried about the government coming to take your guns – you know, the latest NRA/Fox News-fueled craze – worry not:  you’ve got the government seriously, seriously outgunned.   The government – including all four branches of the military and all police departments – has about four million guns; youse guys – you god-fearing, flag-waving, gun-toting, second amendment-defending civilians – have 310 million.

Yeah, guns’ll keep you safe.

Or maybe not.

Gun Week, Part 4: If Not Now, When?

(During our time together The Curmudgeon has written occasionally, but not too often, about guns and the havoc they are wreaking on our society. In light of last weekend’s events in Orlando he is devoting this week to the issue of guns. A few of the pieces are new and others are from the past – in one case, only two weeks ago.)

 *       *       *

Across the country, people – okay, let’s be more specific, conservative people – are protesting the politicization of last week’s act of domestic terrorism at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

The Tea Party did it.

Fox News did it.

Various conservative web sites did it.

The publisher of the Roseburg (Oregon) Beacon went so far as to declare that President Obama isn’t welcome in his town because he’s politicizing the shooting.

And Ben Carson, a doctor who lacked the courage of his convictions to state simply on national television that childhood vaccinations are safe and a good thing, had the audacity to criticize President Obama for politicizing the shooting.

To all these criticisms The Curmudgeon simply offers this:

“Yeah, so?”

If not now, when? If a man opening fire on a Planned Parenthood clinic, killing three and wounding nine others, doesn’t make this an appropriate time to launch a discussion about the easy availability of guns then when, please tell us, is a more appropriate time?

When it happens again?

And again?

And again?

How many times must it happen before some people will concede that it’s finally an appropriate time to talk about it?

And in this particular situation, wasn’t this politicization of the gun issue the direct – direct – result of the politicization of the fabricated controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood?

You know, Planned Parenthood: the organization that hasn’t done anything illegal?

The organization that helps women obtain a service that many oppose on understandable moral grounds but that is nonetheless entirely legal in this country?

The organization that has been attacked based on skillfully edited and misleading videotapes that, even at their worst, don’t even remotely suggest anything approaching illegality or wrongdoing?

And hasn’t the emergence of this matter as a major political issue constituted the politicization of women’s access to health care, including access to a service that, while many oppose it on understandable moral grounds, is nonetheless entirely legal in this country?

And wasn’t this shooting also the result of the politicization of the Planned Parenthood issue in states that have threatened to prohibit Planned Parenthood from providing any Medicaid-covered services – states like Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio?

Abortion is legal in this country as the result of a series of political processes over the years and as a result of judicial actions that are the product of political processes. Those who disagree with what those political processes and judicial actions have produced have every right to seek to reverse them. To do so, they must politicize the issue – as they have been doing for many, many years. This is their right.

Possessing a gun is legal in this country as the result of political processes over the years and as a result of judicial actions that are the product of those political processes. Those who disagree with what those political processes and judicial actions have produced have every right to seek to reverse them. To do so, they must politicize the issue – as they have been doing for many, many years. This is their right, too.

So it is certainly within the rights of those appalled by yet another mass shooting in this country to point to yet another mass shooting as further proof that something must be done to curtails easy access to guns. That is part of the political and governmental processes in this country.

And no one – no one – has the right to tell them that now, or any time, isn’t the right time to attempt to address this or any other issue.

In this particular situation, moreover, there’s no better time, and no more appropriate time, to call this to the attention of our fellow citizens than when one of those fellow citizens picks up a gun, regardless of the reason, and decides that he’s going to shoot and kill people and when we are still grieving over the senselessness of this unconscionably violent act.

Politicize the recent events in Colorado Springs?

Damn right.

If not now, then when?

How many times do we have to go through this before it becomes the right time to talk about it and consider doing something about it?

 

Gun Week, Part 3: Getting an Assault Rifle is as Easy as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7

(During our time together The Curmudgeon has written occasionally, but not too often, about guns and the havoc they are wreaking on our society. In light of last weekend’s events in Orlando he is devoting this week to the issue of guns. A few of the pieces are new and others are from the past – in one case, only two weeks ago.)

 *       *       *

That’s “seven” as in “seven minutes.”

The day after the mass murder in Orlando, a Philadelphia Daily News columnist set out to buy an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle – the mini-weapon of mass destruction that killed 50 people near Disney World.

ubinasShe went into a gun store, pointed out the gun she wanted (it was in the window and on display as the “gun of the week” – you’d think the shop owner might’ve changed his mind about that), filled out a form, handed over her money, and walked out of the store with an approved license and a weapon that could easily mow down your neighborhood or your office or your family and friends’ fourth of July barbecue in a matter of seconds.

And she did it all in seven minutes.

Seven minutes.

Read her account here – and worry that for every one of us who is appalled by this, there’s someone else thinking “Hey, now that I know it’s that easy, I should get me one a them thar things, too.”

 

Gun Week, Part 2: The Blood of Orlando – and Others – Is On Their Hands

congress

republican

democrats

nra

If…

If guns, including semi-automatic and automatic weapons, are to be available to anyone who passes a background check…

And…

If the current background check is unable to screen out someone capable of killing 50 people and wounding more than 50 more (and this is in no way intended to be critical of the manner in which background checks are currently being performed)…

Then…

What’s the point of performing background checks on people who want to buy these guns…

And more important…

Why are we still permitting people to purchase to purchase and possess such automatic and semi-automatic weapons of mass destruction in this country?

_____________________________________________________

(During our time together The Curmudgeon has written occasionally, but not too often, about guns and the havoc they are wreaking on our society. He has always done so cautiously, not only because he recognizes this as an issue on which reasonable people may differ but also because his own view on guns is probably unsatisfactory to both extremes in the argument.

In light of last weekend’s events in Orlando, he is devoting this week to the issue of guns. Today’s piece is original and the rest of the week will feature what he believes to be relevant encores – okay, reruns – of past pieces, including one that only appeared less than two weeks ago.  If you have something to say on the subject he would love to hear from you. If you have more than a little something to say he would be pleased to publish it as a free-standing piece rather than a comment at the bottom of the screen.)

Update on New Jersey Congressional Race

Earlier this week The Curmudgeon complained that his choice in the Democratic congressional primary was between Jim Keady, a bartender who doesn’t even live in the district, and Fred LaVergne, a banker currently in bankruptcy who appears to share some very un-Democratic views with Ted Cruz.

So now, two updates.

Schlemiel, schlimazel, vote for me I need the job…

Schlemiel, schlimazel, vote for me I need the job…

First, LaVergne beat Shirley, so he gets to run for the seat in November.

And second, that’s probably a good thing for LaVergne, who apparently needs the work: according to documents he filed with the state’s Superior Court two weeks ago, he’s an unemployed banker.

And has been.

For six years.

Well, THAT certainly makes The Curmudgeon feel better.

An Open Message to Aretha Franklin

Dear Dumbass,

Contrary to your preliminary diagnosis, based on your extensive training and years of medical practice, Prince did not die of the Zika virus.

No, Prince killed himself with drugs.

In the future, kindly leave determining the cause of death to a qualified medical professional.

Unless you decide to go to medical school. In that case, you’ll be qualified to make such judgments.

In eight years. After four years of college and then four of medical school.

When you are 82 years old.

Until then, why don’t you just focus on doing what you do: sing us pretty songs.

Sincerely yours,

The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon

And They Say Americans are Prudes

Well, maybe we are, or maybe we are just compared to the French, because we all (think we) know about those French, but certainly not in comparison to the Germans.

What else can we think after Germany’s highest court threw out a challenge to the country’s anti-bestiality law?

That’s right: two people who said they were attracted to animals sued to have the law overturned based on what they said was their right to “sexual self-determination.”

Well, in The Curmudgeon’s world “sexual self-determination” involves Salma Hayek, chocolate ganache, and non-dairy whipped topping, but that’s a subject for another day.

The German version of the Supreme Court said nein to all of that, maintaining that protecting animals is a legitimate aim of the state.

As strange as it may seem, it’s not as if the court was upholding a long-standing law. Having sex with animals was legalized in Germany in 1969 except in cases in which it could be proven that the animals suffered significant harm.

We’ll have to assume that means physical harm because we’re not aware of any ways animals can express diminished self-esteem because of their poor judgment when it comes to sex partners.

After all, is there even a shred of proof that any animal – even one – has ever taken the walk of shame?

Germany only banned sex with animals in 2013. At the time there were reports that “bestiality brothels,” where people could court and spark with the critter of their choice, were opening all around the country. Opponents of the ban – good lord, they have a name, they’re known as “zoophiles,” and an advocacy group, called Zoophile Engagement for Tolerance and Information – protested that sex between humans and animals should be allowed if there is mutual consent.

Do they have talking animals in Germany, capable of expressing mutual consent, that the rest of us are in the dark about?

Or are we just supposed to be able to tell by the twinkle in their eyes and that “come hither” look?