21 December 2012

Tell the President, Congress to Stand Up to the NRA

People kill people. 

If we pass the strictest gun laws imaginable, people will still find guns and use them.

If we eradicate all guns from the planet, violent people will find other tools to carry out their violent acts.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't enact common sense gun laws in an effort to reduce the number of gun killings.

The NRA would like you to believe that those of us who support reasonable gun restrictions are unpatriotic or that we want to repeal the Second Amendment or that we all naively believe that gun control is a panacea to end all murders or that we want to take away all your guns.

None of that is true.

The NRA spews lies in order to incite paranoia and hysteria among a radical fringe of its membership.

The NRA is a powerful lobby that pretends to represent gun owners. In reality, it represents the deadly interests of arms dealers and gun manufacturers and has been astonishingly successful at blocking regulations that would make the country safer from gun violence.

Most gun owners are unaware of the organization's extreme stances that have blocked the passage of any significant piece of gun legislation in nearly two decades.

Through lobbying, campaign spending and propaganda, the NRA has helped defeat common sense gun measures that polls show an overwhelming majority of gun owners support, including: 

  • Efforts to limit the availability to purchase military-style semi-automatic assault rifles and high capacity ammunition clips (the kind that were recently used in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT). 
  • Efforts to restrict weapon sales to individuals on the US terrorism watch list. 
  • A United Nations Arms Trade Treaty which would have required countries exporting conventional weapons to certify that they weren't being shipped to a terrorist group or a nation under a UN arms embargo like North Korea or Iran.  
Due to a legal loophole the NRA is determined to keep in place, 40% of all guns are sold through private sellers who are not required to conduct a criminal background check. Over 80% of all gun owners (including 74% of NRA members) support criminal background checks on people buying guns.

In the past four years, a wave of measures across 37 states have made it easier to own, carry and conceal weapons.

America now has 300 million firearms, a barrage of NRA-backed gun laws, and record casualties from mass killers. 

The NRA relies on overly-simplistic rhetoric and bullet-point jargon. Guns don't kill people, they say.

That may be true, but unstable people with unfettered access to guns and an unlimited amount of ammunition kill people (thanks NRA). Guns may not kill people, but people who kill with guns kill a lot more people when they do kill people.

Reasonable, common sense gun control legislation is just one step - but a necessary first step - in addressing perhaps the greatest social issue facing our nation: the senseless deaths - through murder and accidents - of thousands of innocent people, including children, every year by gunfire.  

Did You Know?

  • The gun murder rate in the US is 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populace countries combined. Every one of those countries has stricter gun laws than the US.
  • Add together all the gun deaths in the 23 wealthiest countries in the world and 80% of those are American deaths. Of all the children killed by guns in those countries, 87% were American children.
  • Killings with handguns last year: 48 in Japan, 8 in Great Britain, 34 in Switzerland, 52 in Canada, 42 in Germany... and 10,728 in the US.
  • 32 Americans die from guns every day. 
  • The US loses more people to gun violence in six months than all the casualties of terrorism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
Two common sense gun control measures we all should be able to agree on: 
  • A ban on the manufacture, possession, transfer, and sale of assault weapons, such as AK-47s and AR-15s. These weapons of mass destruction are intended for the military and law enforcement and designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible. They have no place in the general marketplace. Over time, a ban of these weapons will decrease the numbers in circulation and make it more difficult for people with sinister intent to get their hands on them. 
  • Close loopholes to ensure that felons, people with mental illnesses and perpetrators of domestic violence are not able to buy guns at gun shows and over the Internet. 
Please join me in demanding President Obama and Congress stand up to the NRA and do the right thing: pass reasonable gun control legislation in 2013.  

See: Pro Gun Myths Fact Check

Related articles: 
Smoking Gun
An Open Letter to the NRA                                                                                                                                                                                                

15 December 2012

Smoking Gun

Guns don’t kill people. 

But unstable people with unfettered access to guns and unlimited amount of ammunition kill people.

Guns don’t kill people. 

But people who kill with guns kill A LOT more people when they do kill people.

Killings with handguns last year: 48 in Japan, 8 in Great Britain, 34 in Switzerland, 52 in Canada, 42 in Germany.... and 10,728 in the US. Are we that much more morally bankrupt than these other countries? Or mentally unstable?                                                                                               
Mike Huckabee thinks it's because we don't make 3rd graders pray in class any more. Been to Amsterdam lately, Mike? Not exactly the most puritanical place on the planet, yet Holland has exponentially fewer gun murders than we do. 

Guns don't kill people? 

I'm over the overly-simplistic ideological slogans and rhetorical soundbites.

The gun murder rate in the US is 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populace countries combined. Every one of those countries has stricter gun laws than we do. Add together all the gun deaths in the 23 wealthiest countries in the world and 80% of those are American deaths. Of all the children killed by guns in those countries, 87% were American children.

The gun lobby has one agenda: sell more guns to make more money. They buy politicians and dupe the naïve into believing it’s about the Constitution then laugh all the way to the bank with blood on their hands. Every one of its members is an accomplice to murder, in my opinion. One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and now we all take our shoes off at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine but not a single change in our regulation of guns. That's the power of the gun lobby.

Ultimately, everything that's wrong with the US comes down to one thing: greed. And that includes the senseless death of 20 innocent children and six innocent adults and one fragile gunman, hardly more than a child himself, at an elementary school in Connecticut on December 14, 2012.


12 December 2012

My Christmas Story

“You know Santa Claus isn’t real, don’t you?” my older brother asked me, somewhat exasperated at my naiveté.

“Yes,” I replied matter-of-factly, with my eyes rolling slightly.

In actuality, it was the first time I’d even considered the possibility. Now, I just felt stupid. Like I was the oldest kid in the world who still believed in Santa.

I asked my mama.

“Tommy said Santa Claus isn’t real. Is that true?”

“He’s real if you want him to be, son,” Mama said.

Maybe deep down I’d known for some time, but I wasn’t ready to let it go. Maybe I knew that, if I did, Christmas would never feel the same again and in the deep recesses of my mind I wanted to hold onto this little piece of childhood just a little while longer.

But things started to make better sense. Like when Mama told me not to expect too much for Christmas this year, times were tough. I knew times were tough but that didn’t really seem to matter when it came to being naughty or nice. Now I get it.

To say times were tough is an understatement.

The coal mine closed down and Daddy hadn’t worked in almost a year. We had food on the table but not much else. Daddy was gone a lot, I remember. It wasn’t until many years later that I came to learn that he spent most nights coon hunting and most days drinking moonshine from a still he had hidden in the woods behind the house. It’s hard on a man when he loses the only work he's ever known. I remember my mama crying a lot and being awakened in the middle of the night to the sounds of the two of them fighting.

Besides, it didn’t much feel like Christmas anyway. Most winters are mild in the deep south, but this year was even warmer than usual. All the trees were still covered with leaves until a vicious thunderstorm roared through and blew them all to the ground, just a couple days before Christmas. It hadn’t snowed in three or four years. I'd never experienced a white Christmas before and wanted one more than just about anything. Every night I prayed for snow. 

I fell asleep early on Christmas Eve, but was jolted awake just after midnight when I heard loud clanking and banging coming from somewhere. I was thinking that maybe another storm had come through and blown tree limbs onto the tin roof. I got up to investigate and that’s when I saw him, standing in front of the Christmas tree beside the fireplace. A man with a flowing white beard and red coat and black boots. It was Santa Claus.

Santa glanced at me and smiled a smile that danced across his entire face and called me over to him to give me a big hug.

“You are real, Santa,” I said.

“Of course I am,” he said. “Now where are my cookies, boy? Every year you leave me oatmeal cookies and a tall glass of milk.”

I ran as fast as I could to the kitchen and came back with cookies and milk for Santa and some for me too. His crystal blue eyes lit up when he saw them.

“I’m sorry for all the commotion. The reindeer got a little reckless landing on your roof tonight.” We both laughed.

Santa asked me if I could hold the bag open for him while he got out the presents, which were many more than I could have ever dreamed of – a bicycle for me, a basketball for my brother, a radio for my sister, a coat for Daddy and gloves for Mama... and so much more. The presents just kept coming until they were spilling out from under the tree and into the dining room.

Finally, after all the presents were put out and all the cookies eaten, Santa told me it was time for me to go back to bed and time for him to head to the next house, as he caressed my face with his gloved hand.

“But I have one more present for you,” he said. “Go look out the window.”

From the window, I watched Santa and his sleigh disappear into the black Winter sky then noticed the first flakes of snow begin to fall. It snowed the rest of the night and all of Christmas Day and most of the days leading up to New Years Eve. There’s no telling how many snowmen my brothers and sisters and I built or how many snowball fights we had in our back yard. We’d never laughed so hard in our entire lives.

The next Spring my daddy got a job in another town and we moved away. Mama and Daddy quit fighting and life got back to being normal. Many Christmas’s have come and gone since then, but that's the one I remember the most. I guess you can say it’s the best Christmas I ever had. It’s the one and only time I ever saw Santa Claus, but I’ve never since questioned his existence.

Now, when my children ask me if Santa Claus is really real, I always say “Yes, he is.”

He’s real if you want him to be.