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Posts Tagged ‘Gun control’

It’s ironic isn’t it, that my last post was titled “No News?” When we came through customs at Kennedy Airport, we re-emerged in our country, so happy to be home. To sleep in our own bed, to talk with the kids, to pet the pup! Our mountains compare well with the foothills of the Alps after all. Now don’t get me wrong, we thoroughly enjoyed the Viking cruise from Budapest to Passau on the Danube. And surprisingly, my country/farm/boy, who usually hates big cities, loved Prague.

But I couldn’t believe my eyes after we found the departure gate to Dulles. Our journey home started at 3am Czech time. Viking had to reroute us through Amsterdam instead of Paris because of the Air France strike. We flew KLM from Prague to Amsterdam to NYC finally…only a three hour stopover until our connection to DC. Then a two hour drive to central VA. So I thought it was jet lag when I looked up at a TV monitor in Kennedy, the CNN screen had pictures of a Voice contestant that I loved, Christina Grimme, a hometown girl from Southern Jersey. And the scroll said she’d been murdered in Orlando.

She was so young and talented, signing autographs. My heart broke for her family and friends. And then the next day, we awoke to another horrific attack in Orlando, a mass murder at a gay nightclub, Pulse. After ten days in Europe, our return seemed surreal. Was this a trick? The wonderful, magical world of Disney that I knew and loved as a child, with Tinkerbell sprinkling magic dust on our black and white TV screens, must have been a century ago.

I’m so sick of the media deluge, asking victims how they feel, asking Hillary to say “Islamic Terrorism.” When will our country wake up?

Not after a madman shoots up a college or an elementary school, certainly not. Does it really matter if it’s a white, neo-Nazi in Charleston targeting a Black church, or an Arab  Muslim born and bred here targeting a gay nightclub in FL? Terror is terror. Our legislators hands are dripping with the blood of 33,000 gun violence victims every year. Most of them, 64% are suicides; people who may have been saved if a gun wasn’t within reach at a certain point in time.

On an average day, 91 Americans are killed with guns. And our murder rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries. https://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-by-the-numbers/

Twenty-five times. Because in Eastern Europe, where terror reigned supreme during the first half of the last century, it’s not so easy to buy a gun. First of all, there are no hand guns or assault weapons for private citizens, none. Why do we need these? That officer was a “good guy with a gun” inside Pulse, but he couldn’t stop that bad guy with an AR-15 and a pistol.

In Europe, if you want to hunt you must apply for a license to own a hunting rifle, twice! Two separate applications and then have a note from your physician, and THEN actually meet with a psychiatrist! 

Please don’t tell me it’s our mental health system, because I agree it needs some work. And please don’t tell me that if everybody had a gun we’d all be safer because that’s ridiculous nonsense. I won’t bother to read Trump’s narcissistic inane Tweets either, this is not a partisan fight. And my interpretation of the 2nd amendment is the National Guard, not the NRA. If a guy who had a record of abusing his ex-wife, and was interrogated by the FBI TWICE, could legally purchase an assault rifle and a handgun on the same day, any sane person should be asking themselves why?

Bob Iger, Disney CEO released a statement on the shooting: “We are all heartbroken by the tragic and horrific events in Orlando, and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to everyone in our community affected by this senseless act.” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/disney-seaworld-respond-orlando-shooting-901897

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Voting for Hillary might just help, and calling your legislators, to let them know the tide is turning. Let’s start with banning assault weapons, again, and how about a background check, and go from there; it’s time for our legislators to wash their hands or vote them out of office. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/ban-ar-15-civilian-ownership

And let’s all go to Disney World! Can you see the skeleton nodding his head in agreement on Prague’s astronomical clock?IMG_4639

 

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I got my first hater the other day on Twitter, “Captain so and so” I forgot his made up, cowardly name. The problem was, I was just getting out of the shower, so I made the mistake of favoriting him and actually retweeted because I didn’t have my glasses on; and it never would have occurred to me  that someone might hate me?! Little old me? But hate he did, pasting a link to an article where some Kroger clerks got beat up outside their store. Threatening much?

Why? Because I had the audacity to take a picture of my lox and bagel lunch and post it with the hashtag,

#Groceries Not Guns.

I was thanking Panera Bread for their delish bagel and for instituting a sane gun policy in their stores, ie no open carry please. Leave your ammo at home! Then later I took a picture of my grocery cart at Whole Foods, filled with produce and such and said:IMG_1084

Love @WholeFoods #GroceriesNotGuns too bad @HarrisTeeter n Kroeger     

That’s Twitterspeak for let’s all boycott Kroger and Harris Teeter because they allow open-carry-gun-toting-zealots into their stores and I don’t want to bear witness to such foolishness.  This campaign by Moms Demand Action recently resulted in Target changing its gun policy, and I must admit I feel a little thrill each time I post something; like a revolutionary, I’m proud to join the ranks of Shannon Watts and these moms.

At home in an Indianapolis suburb the morning following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Shannon Watts, a 41-year-old former public relations executive and mother of five, created a Facebook page calling for a march on the nation’s capital: “Change will require action by angry Americans outside of Washington, D.C. Join us—we will need strength in numbers against a resourceful, powerful and intransigent gun lobby.” The seed for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America—today a national organization backed by nearly 200,000 members and millions of dollars—had been planted. “I started this page because, as a mom, I can no longer sit on the sidelines. I am too sad and too angry,” Watts wrote. “Don’t let anyone tell you we can’t talk about this tragedy now—they said the same after Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords, and Aurora. The time is now.” http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/moms-demand-action-guns-madd-shannon-watts-nra

Using social media in a way that MADD could never have dreamed – which one doesn’t belong? –10635909_879992738677881_2827510542402008695_nto change the culture of drunk driving, this movement is winning hearts and minds of people who own guns, and have permits, and store them securely, and would never in a million years carry an AK47 into a grocery store! Pointing out the absurdity of the NRA’s policy is one goal, changing our wild west culture and getting the NRA out of the pockets of lobbyists is another.

It’s about time we women fought back. The Violence Against Women Act celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday. If you’d like to learn more, this article is for you: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/50-actual-facts-about-dom_b_2193904.html

“Number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq: 6,614:
Number of women, in the same period, killed as the result of domestic violence in the US: 11,766”

I blocked my hater on Twitter, haters gonna hate. I refuse to be intimidated. Three women a day are killed in this country by an intimate partner. It’s not just the NFL that has a problem. Teach your children well.

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Continuing in the Throwback Thursday vein, I’ve come up with a “selfie” from 1975. CLR Hippie Chick 20131120 WebOf course I didn’t take the photo, and don’t remember who did. Except that it was a photographer who stopped me on Madison Avenue near my sister’s NYC apartment with that age-old ruse about making me a star.  I told him he could take my picture, but gave him the Flapper’s address because I didn’t buy into his nonsense. Not wanting to be the next Ms Goodbar, I forgot about it until the picture appeared in my Mother’s inbox mailbox.

At the time I was putting my Psychology degree to good use.                                                                                            http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/05/willowbrook_survivors_recollec_1.html

Because of my future employer’s investigative reporting, most of the psychiatric hospitals, previously known as “State Lunatic Asylums” were closing down. The overcrowded, inhuman conditions, coupled with advances in drugs like Thorazine marked the 70s trend toward de-institutionalization. The question remained, what should we do with these patients who were returning to society, sometimes after decades of neglect? The answer was a different type of warehousing, “day treatment facilities.”

I was hired to drive a bus and pick up patients from their group homes, delivering them to a bevy of activities in the state of NJ. I also got to run a few of the group therapy sessions, and since I enjoyed gardening, my supervisor encouraged me to plant a garden of vegetables around the back patio with like-minded patients. Passivity was a continuing problem, either due to the psychotropic drugs they were taking or the years spent behind hospital bars, or both. So actually digging in the dirt was considered a milestone.

Today, many people with severe disabilities are able to live a normal life. Modern pharmaceuticals allow them to work, to drive, to love, and to make a home for themselves. But sometimes psychotic patients stop taking their meds, for various reasons and when that happens, when they become a threat, “to themselves or others,” it’s time for a reboot which includes a short hospital stay. And when those psych beds, which may be on a floor of any hospital in your neighborhood, are full, when a doctor can’t find one bed for his or her patient, well then sometimes that patient falls through a crack. Over the years, Bob has had to discharge too many severely ill psych patients because there were no beds available.

964831-creigh-deeds-and-familyMy prayers go out to VA Sen Creigh Deeds who was stabbed by his own son, Gus, on Tuesday after being released from a hospital in Bath County on Monday. Gus Deeds later turned a gun on himself in a continuation of this Shakespearian tragedy now called a “murder suicide.” And we can’t blame the lack of will to pass gun control legislation after VA Tech, or the shortage of mental health beds in the state alone, because blame can be shared by a tightening of budgets over the past few years that was reported by the  National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Virginia’s overall state mental-health budget decreased $37.7 million dollars from $424.3 million to $386.6 million between fiscal years 2009 and 2012.”  The wheels on this bus cannot continue going round and round. If a state senator’s son could not access help, what does that mean for the rest of us?

 In 2011, Virginia inspector general G. Douglas Bevelacqua released a report chastising the state for turning away in a month an estimated 200 patients determined to be a threat to themselves or others who met the criteria for a temporary detention, only because state facilities lacked the room to hold them. Twenty-three of Virginia’s 40 community-services boards acknowledged that “streeting” occurred at their facilities.

Read more: Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds’ Son Evaluated and Released Before Stabbing | TIME.com http://nation.time.com/2013/11/19/before-senators-stabbing-a-shortage-of-psychiatric-beds/#ixzz2lI6Mmsqu

 

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This morning it’s overcast and calm. Only the first ridge of mountain is poking up between the clouds. Not like yesterday, when we woke to a clear day and another mass shooting, this time closer to home at the DC Naval Yard.  And if you happened to miss the physician, Janis Orlowski, who treated some of the survivors make her heartfelt plea to end gun violence, here it is:

“There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate,” she said, adding that “I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots.” She added: “Let’s get rid of this. This is not America.” http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/09/watch-dr-janis-orlowskis-moving-plea-against-gun-violence-after-navy-yard-shootings/69471/

If you don’t work in  a trauma center, if you’re not an ER doctor or nurse, you may have watched or listened to the incident unfold with a cynical eye. It’s just another crazy person; didn’t they have to go through a metal detector?; how did the shooter obtain clearance to enter a secure DOD facility? But if you’ve actually seen what a bullet can do to a body, if you’ve had to race against time to save a life, if you’ve had the heartbreaking job of telling someone’s family that your patient, their loved one, has died, well then you understand the problem.

And the problem is GUNS. The epidemic is gun violence. Because that is what’s evil in our society, it isn’t the mentally ill person who believes that a voice is telling him to shoot up a school or a movie theatre. Mental illness affects many of our families and friends, that is inevitable, it’s been around since time began, or Cain and Abel if you prefer. People who suffer from mood disorders through those with paranoid schizophrenia can seek treatment, they can live a normal life. We are the Prozac nation after all.

What we cannot escape is guns – they are sold in parking lots, and online, as if they are candy. They are glorified in film and on TV. I’ve said this before, I don’t need to know why some one entered a Naval facility with a rifle and picked off his victims from an upper landing in a beautiful atrium – the motive really does not matter. Let’s ask ourselves why our legislators could not get a simple background check law passed. Because as we saw yesterday, having more guns inside a facility isn’t the answer.

Yesterday we were a nation in shock again. When I walked out to my car I saw this. photoHow could this happen? Was it another angry bird that flew into my car’s window, a hunter’s gun shot, a deer antler? I live in the woods, nothing was taken, so Bob and I picked up thousands of pieces of shattered green glass. And I thought about the survivors of the Naval Yard shooting, the people who saw the carnage up close and personal.

Today I’ll have my window replaced, but I wonder how long it will take the survivors to put the pieces of their lives back together. And when our nation will stop electing puppets of the gun lobby. Or are we immune now to this, even after small children are massacred in their classrooms, have we become habituated to shock?

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I admit it. I love Bonnie Raitt, she of the slide guitar and flaming red hair. Last summer we saw her at the Pavillion on the Historic Downtown Mall. Her voice is just as good, if not better and her lyrics always hit the right heart string. I’ll share with you the song that’s been stuck in my head all morning.

http://www.artistdirect.com/video/bonnie-raitt-have-a-heart/46413

And the reason I’ve been humming “Have a heart please, why don’t you have a heart…” is because I caught a snippet of the interview my guy Anderson Cooper is broadcasting tonight on CNN with the first juror to talk about George Zimmerman. I’ve been telling Bob all weekend that the judge didn’t answer the jury’s question about manslaughter, that’s why they voted to acquit. Judge Debra Nelson  asked them for specific questions, but the jury never followed up on the manslaughter questions with specifics. This juror, who prefers to remain in the shadows, said that they found the evidence and the legal charges “confusing.” Now this Judge is questioning whether the charges should have been filed at all.

And we find out that the first vote in the jury room had 3 jurors in the manslaughter slot. A verdict of manslaughter, which I think was probably the right call if all the facts had been presented (like Zimmerman’s pattern of calling the police about “suspicious” looking black men more than 40 times in the past year). The murder charge was overreaching maybe, since that presumes Zimmerman intended to kill – he set off that evening with a loaded gun hunting young black men. A manslaughter conviction would have meant that he didn’t intend to kill Trayvon…this actually seems to have been the more likely scenario. I think he wanted to stop him, but I realize I don’t really know.

Let’s think about this, in Florida if someone looks “suspicious” you can hunt them down and kill them if THEY stand their ground and try to fight back! Is suspicious a gay kid, is it a Latino or a mentally disabled homeless person? What about a woman in a short skirt, hanging out on a street corner? I’ve had 2 separate instances recently when I thought someone looked “suspicious” – they were white guys in a pickup truck, both times they had parked under a tree in the shade, in the middle of the day where they could watch kids at a 1)park and 2)sports club but were looking at maps or a newspaper when they saw me approach my car. In both instances I was close enough for them to say something to me like, “Hey.” I thought about calling the police BUT they were not committing a crime. I did jot down a license plate number! Check out this video from Howard University: http://boingboing.net/2013/07/15/howard-university-students-v.html#.UeRx1MJ-hgI.facebook Do they look suspicious?

Back to The Anonymous Juror, and what got me humming. She said she didn’t think that killing was what was in Zimmerman’s heart; That his heart was “…in the right place.”

” JUROR: I think George Zimmerman is a man whose heart was in the right place, but just got displaced by the vandalism in the neighborhoods, and wanting to catch these people so badly, that he went above and beyond what he really should have done. But I think his heart was in the right place. It just went terribly wrong.” http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/15/3502047_p3/zimmerman-juror-speaks-out-transcript.html#storylink=cpy

In other words, she gave this murderer a pass because she didn’t think he intended to kill Trayvon – which is like saying he’s guilty of manslaughter since he actually DID kill him! In my mind, once Zimmerman disobeyed the police and got out of his car, he set into motion the tragedy that unfolded. Is there a sliver lining? Will gun laws and stand your ground laws be reformed? After Newtown, I’m not hopeful. Let the jurors begin the talk show rounds, it will only get curiouser and curiouser. Because they presume Zimmerman has a heart, and just from watching his affect in court, and listening to his 911 call, I wonder.

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20130411-180541.jpg20130411-180504.jpg20130411-180610.jpgLast night Bob met President George Washington. Then we were seranaded at a tavern by a bawdy minstrel, who kept chastising me for showing my elbows. Where are we? Why Williamsburg VA of course!

Yes ladies. We can show as much décolletage as we like, just keep our arms covered thank you.

I am simultaneously happy and sad today. Because while learning all about our founding fathers and their heroic idea that our little colony could break away from Mother England, our current legislators are debating the benefits of a universal background check for gun purchasers. No assault weapon ban. No limits on gun clips like the kind used in Aurora and Sandy Hook.

The Brits now have no handguns, let alone assault weapons on their streets. Australia bought back all their guns years ago. I want to ask George, Mr President, was this your intent?

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