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Posts Tagged ‘Gun Violence’

Remember when the Dowager Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey asked her grand daughter, “What’s a weekend?” Well, this past weekend was jam-packed between our new niece’s getaway with girlfriends, to birthday parties. Bob and I took a deep breath and dove right in! You see the Bride was working in the ER and the Groom was in the Medical ICU, so we were prepared to have some super grandparenting Fun.

But first, we went out to dinner with friends. The City House is just around the corner and it’s famous for its pork belly pizza with an egg on top. I know how that sounds, but believe me it tastes divine. This particular stretch of our neighborhood is one of Ms Bean’s favorite spots; and it became our go-to morning walk once I discovered the fig tree behind the restaurant!

Turkish food was next up on Friday when our newly discovered niece rolled into town with her friends. Tamara has a joie de vivre, her smile is infectious. She told me her youngest son is playing the guitar and he can’t wait to meet the Rocker. I told her I’d meet her in the morning at the Mother Church of Country Music for a backstage tour.

Honky Tonk Row was bustling; New Englanders were in town for a game against the Titans. Veteran’s Day became almost an after thought… since I was thinking about the latest mass shooting in California at a country western bar in Thousand Oaks.

The young white man, the killer, was a Marine Vet, and one of the men he shot was also a Marine Vet.

Our newly elected (R) senator from TN responds by saying we “must” protect the 2nd Amendment…

12 people dead, and the NRA tells physicians to “…stay in their lane?” And that became the rallying cry on social media for trauma surgeons and ER docs: #ThisisMyLane.

My lane is a pregnant woman shot in a moment of rage by her partner. She survived because the baby stopped the bullet. Have you ever had to deliver a shattered baby? . What’s yours?

Gun violence is our own personal hell, our beautiful American patriotic duty to defend –  while guns send an average of 8,300 children to hospitals each and every year! https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46186510

I thanked my brothers and my Father-in-Law for their service in Vietnam and during WWII on Facebook after picking up the Love Bug from Hebrew School. I had to pass an armed guard to enter the Temple, I had to go through a metal detector to enter the Ryman the day before. Someone searched my bag. I wonder when my grandchildren will start practicing “active shooter” drills.

The Pumpkin told me he loved the weekend. But he’s conflicted because on the one hand you get to play, but also you have to clean the house! I know what you mean little guy.

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The circle of life was evident on Sunday when our Reform Jewish congregation wrapped the Torah around the sanctuary. We were there to welcome the latest students of Torah, over twenty First Graders are beginning their path toward Tikkun Olam – the tradition of repairing the world through acts of loving kindness. When I was studying Judaism, preparing to convert in 1978, I embraced this codified concept; it would become my “raison d’etre,” although I didn’t know it at the time.

” (Hebrew for “world repair”) has come to connote social action and the pursuit of social justice. The phrase has origins in classical rabbinic literature and in Lurianic kabbalah, a major strand of Jewish mysticism originating with the work of the 16th-century kabbalist Isaac Luria. The term “mipnei tikkun ha-olam” (perhaps best translated in this context as “in the interest of public policy”) is used in the Mishnah (the body of classical rabbinic teachings codified circa 200 C.E.). There, it refers to social policy legislation providing extra protection to those potentially at a disadvantage — governing, for example, just conditions for the writing of divorce decrees and for the freeing of slaves.

This was why my Temple’s committee was exchanging stuffed animals for toy guns at a peace fair.

Why I would find myself writing more and more to persuade politically in a newspaper column.

Why I dragged the Bride and my niece Lucia to a Planned Parenthood rally in DC.

We arrived early on Sunday when one of the older congregants opened the Temple door asking, “Are you here for the Consecration?

“Yes, as a matter of fact!” And as we unloaded Great Grandma Ada’s fire-engine red rollator and settled  Great Grandpa Hudson into his wheelchair, I noted there was only one policeman inside; no patrol cars outside, no armed guards, not even somebody directing traffic.

The day before, our country witnessed one of the cruelest acts of evil at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. A deranged gunman, shouting Anti-Semitic slurs, killed eleven elderly people and injured more, before being arrested. Yet again, media will ask why and how could this happen? And yet again I propose an answer – because of our beloved 2nd Amendment. There are more guns in our society than any other developed nation.

We don’t have more mental illness! We don’t have anymore Anti-Semitism either! Although if incidents of Anti-Semitism have increased by nearly 50% last year in the US, one could argue that our social climate has changed, that what was once whispered can now find a megaphone in platforms online and in the hate speech of certain politicians. If Mr T tells us there is evil on both sides, if he must be persuaded to speak out against Anti-Semitism by his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, and if his followers believe in fake news unless it’s on FOX, where can we turn?

There is a shift in the fabric of the universe.

Brazil has elected Jair Bolsonaro as President, an extreme Right Trump-like politician “His reckless plans to industrialize the Amazon in concert with Brazilian and international agribusiness and mining sectors will bring untold destruction to the planet’s largest rainforest and the communities who call it home, and spell disaster for the global climate,” Amazon Watch program director Christian Poirier said to CNN.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not run again for office in 2021, and speculation is that she may step down sooner. Saint Angela is paying the political price of keeping Germany’s borders open to migrants, stirring that nationalistic fervor, that spark that lead millions of Jews to their death in the last century. A cold chill went down my spine when I heard this news. Will Germany follow in the steps of Brazil, and the recent autocratic elections in Hungary? Will Germany elect a Trump?

While we were gathered in prayer this past Sunday, Mr T was playing the song “Happy” at a campaign rally in Indiana. He joked about his hair. There was one true thing he said, “We just don’t seem to learn from the past.” 

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I love seeing the flood of Back-to-School pictures on my Facebook feed. First graders and first year in high school, they all look so fresh-faced and eager; but I guess if your child has been dreading the start of school, well, the first day might be different. Maybe she/he has experienced bullying? Or maybe, the sheer number of school shootings has them worried, do they really feel safe at school?

Not to worry, Betsy DeVos is considering using our tax dollars to fund arming our teachers and training them to carry guns… against all sane advice to the contrary from law enforcement, pediatricians and teachers’ unions. Our children are now practicing “active shooter drills” the way we had fire drills.

Our government has also approved a 1.8 million dollar grant for “School-Age Trauma Training,” ie to teach kids what to do to help their wounded friends. First Aid for First Grade. And now, bless our hearts, the Department of Education is considering using federal money set aside for “Student Enrichment” to fund gun-toting teachers.

I thought student enrichment meant field trips or maybe a special gifted and talented program? Maybe some band instruments? How about after-school-programs???

I was student teaching when Columbine happened. I’d gone back to graduate school and was placed in a middle school for a year. I remember the shock in the teacher’s lounge, a place I rarely visited. I remember the way the disaffected loner students retreated further. That feeling of helplessness, foreboding. Columbine happened nearly two decades ago, and here we are.

Those of us who do NOT watch Fox News on a feedback loop day after day may be wondering how we can continue, as a nation, to allow school tragedies like Newtown and Parkland to continue unabated. I was surprised to read that the DOE has already allowed teachers to carry guns in 14 states! The stranglehold of NRA money fuels a corrupt system that is uniquely American. Out of 23 countries with the highest-income in the world, the USA stands near the top of a deplorable list: 82% of all gun deaths – 90% of all women killed by guns – and 92% of all children killed either accidentally or on purpose by a gun.

Media reports of school shootings capture headlines, the way a lone suicide with a handgun never will. And yet, suicide is the most prevalent reason young people die in this country. But the heck with universal background checks and banning assault weapons or stopping loopholes in the law that allow spousal abusers to purchase firearms. Let’s just put more handguns in school, shall we? https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45288773

Betsy, Betsy, Betsy please reconsider your boss’ insane idea.

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This Earth Day weekend was spectacular. The rain stopped for our neighborhood’s Third Annual Community Cleanup and people fanned out around our twenty square blocks with garbage bags, claw grabbers and gloves to clean the streets and storm gutters from debris. I found a jury-rigged clothes hanger for breaking into cars, an empty bottle of cinnamon whiskey along with lots of beer bottles, and a discarded sippy cup filled with milk! But the worst culprit by far was cigarette butts.

It’s hard to believe people still smoke, or vape, or whatever. It’s a dirty business, smoking, and I’ve always hated it. As a kid I was stuck in a small house with two chain smokers, and occasionally in a small Corvair with the windows closed. I felt trapped in a cloud of noxious fumes and vowed then and there to never smoke.

I’ve seen the culture change around smoking, and I can only hope to see our culture change around guns. Suicides by gun, “accidental” handgun and hunting accidents, mass murders like our recent Waffle House massacre in TN (our 2nd in a few months), and even the occasional crime of passion are all a national public health emergency.

When the white supremacists in Cville outgunned the local police, well maybe that should have been a good clue – if not Sandy Hook or Parkland.

Maybe we should call out the National Guard? After all they were all stationed in DC for the Women’s March. I waved to them sitting in their buses waiting to be deployed in case things got nasty. They already know how to handle a gun, you wouldn’t have to educate teachers and arm them.

Just put a few National Guardspeople in every school, shopping center, cinema, music concert, sports arena, oh and restaurant…maybe even every workplace? We already have an armed militia, so why not use them to fight our gun nuts?

It would seem the only newsworthy part of the latest mass murder was the killer’s state of undress when a semi nude guy strolled into the Waffle House just a few miles south of here with an AR-15. At least we knew he didn’t have a bomb strapped on his chest. And because he was white, a reporter asked the sheriff if he thought the suspect was “mentally ill!”

Wearing only a jacket, the accused gunman, 29-year-old Travis Reinking, allegedly fatally shot two people outside the Antioch restaurant, police said.
He continued his rampage inside the restaurant, killing two more. Reinking fled the scene completely naked after a customer intervened.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/24/us/tennessee-waffle-house-shooting/index.html

Never mind that he kept an arsenal in his house, that he had waltzed onto the White House lawn before, that his father returned all his guns to him after the FBI had confiscated them…we all need to know WHY?

A white supremacist is a terrorist. A brown jihadist is a terrorist. Anyone with an AR-15 wants to terrorize someone. They ALL may even be mentally ill, so….

You know the definition of crazy right? “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

When we as a country allow these mass murders to happen over and over and over again, we are the very definition of an insane society. When our legislators listen to TV personalities and NRA lobbyists, we the people suffer. The first thing we need to do is get all those weapons of war off our streets, to reinstate the assault weapon ban of 1994.

Or maybe Macron can get Mr T to sign the Paris Climate Agreement? It’s a toss-up, the American people or Mother Earth? Either way, we’ll have to get down and dirty.

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Reddit bans guns sales. YouTube kicks gun fanatics off its site. Florida legislators have raised the age to 21 for buying your first gun, and on and on. Why is this different in our country’s national debate over common sense gun reform? It’s the messengers.

Teenagers have reframed the question; it’s not some esoteric debate about Second Amendment rights, they are simply asking not to be shot in their 5th period Chem class. And if you remember what it felt like to be 16, they actually think they can change the world!

I was 15 when JFK was shot. I was playing field hockey on a grassy high school lot when the milk man stopped to tell our gym teacher what happened; it’s forever embedded in my memory, even though there’s a Walgreens on that site today. We were all in shock, our parents and teachers were grieving. We didn’t see his brother Bobby and MLK’s assassinations in our future.

We didn’t know our generation was about to change the entire American culture with the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation Movements. We didn’t even know about Vietnam, yet.

We walked out of high school over a dress code.

Today teens are digital natives. And Parkland students are leading the charge on Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram to point out hypocrisy in all its many nuanced layers. The latest Associated Press poll tells us 7 out of 10 Americans want stricter gun controls. And look what happened just a few days ago, right after the Bride and her colleagues wrote a certain letter to the editor! http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/379563-republicans-agree-to-clarify-that-cdc-can-research-gun-violence

Republicans agree to clarify that CDC can research gun violence

And so it begins, your grand daddy’s rifle is NOT the same as an AR-15. #ENOUGH is enough and after tomorrow’s March For Our Lives in DC, I believe the momentum will continue. Country music fans and elementary students didn’t stand a chance. But high school students around the country are weaponizing social media, for the good of us all. If Facebook fueled the Arab Spring, imagine what this will do.

Maybe we should put these kids in charge of the Russian hacking problem? I have no doubt they would tell Putin a thing or two!   image

 

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It’s been a very busy first day of Spring. I took my first Nashville Yoga class after breakfast, and joined a T’ai Chi bunch before lunch! I learned quite a bit, about tuning into my body and tuning out the noise of the city. And this city can be pretty noisy; Great Grandma Ada told me even the NYTimes was writing about the Demolition Blues here in the Music City. Right down the block we’ve had intermittent blasting through limestone that shakes the house, makes me jump, and has Ms Bean running around in terror.

It’s like a war zone, I feel a bad case of PTSD coming on. Between Mr T’s morning rambling via Twitter, and the Federal Trade Commission investigating Facebook (ps here’s how to clean up your account https://www.slashgear.com/facebook-personal-audit-privacy-app-sharing-19523634/) – the random, bomb-like explosions have thrown me over the edge. The whole existential crisis of a possible nuclear showdown pales before the everyday reality of our current climate.

Hence my plan for Zen Tuesdays.

Now for the other six days of the week… While I was saying “Namaste” today, we learned of another school shooting today, this time in Maryland. The 17 year old gunboy is dead, and the girl he targeted is in critical condition. There’s another teen boy who was targeted. Enough is enough. It certainly feels like we’ve reached a tipping point towards gun reform, although I’ve felt that way in the past too. But somehow, this time feels different.

The Tennessean published an opinion piece on Sunday that was co-authored by the Bride and her friend, another Emergency Physician. They are calling on state legislators to repeal the Dickey Amendment which curtails research and funding of gun violence. Oh yes, NRA, we’re coming for you!

It is time to treat gun violence like the public health emergency that it is, and to let the scientific community conduct the necessary work to find solutions.

Unbiased medical research has led to the eradication of smallpox, the dramatic reduction of injuries and death due to motor vehicle collisions, and lifesaving advances in the care of those injured in combat.  

 We can – and should – add the prevention of unnecessary gun-related deaths to this list.     

   

It was signed by 128 TN physicians!! Mostly ER docs who see the results of unfettered access to guns. https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2018/03/15/opinion-gun-violence-national-public-health-emergency/426997002/

Let’s face it y’all, grandpa’s rifle is NOT the same as an AR-15, and even here in the South minds are being changed. The massacre in Las Vegas shook the music industry to its core, and now teenagers are planning a March on Washington to bring their message home. Our children deserve to feel safe in school, freedom from fear is our God-given, Rockwellian right in this country. The police don’t want these guns on the street, and we the people don’t want them either. It’s about time our legislators listened…

I think the explosions have stopped. Our neighborhood has been strangely quiet for a few days now. We managed to plant our lilacs yesterday, and now they are predicting snow. Happy first day of Spring to everyone from our little Irish Star Wars colleen!

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No more Margaritas for, oops *with* lunch. No more hiking to the beach, our first excursion was a success! At first, all we could do was compare Mexico with our other Caribbean piece of paradise, but that’s just being sophomoric. And as we settled into the week, island fever took hold of my psyche. The sand there is the softest, finest pale beige, almost powdery. The people are the kindest, most helpful, hard-working. We loved being able to walk to two restaurants, and a small store.

And just in case we forgot bread, El Panaderia would ring his bicycle bell around twilight, offering freshly baked goodies! I felt like a child again, anticipating the ice cream truck in Victory Gardens.

And then I’d feel guilty, because there are parents in Parkland, Florida who will never see their children graduate. They won’t walk them down an aisle or touch their hair again. They will never be grandparents. But on the plane yesterday, coming back to real life, I started to hope again. After Mr T’s election, and the do-nothing Congress after Sandy Hook, and Las Vegas, I caught a glimpse of a student-led revolution in this country.

Fueled by Snapchat and Twitter. Facebook is so yesterday to these kids.

I wondered about all the gun-loving Americans who hate undocumented workers from Mexico, when they really don’t know anyone from Mexico. They worry about crime in Mexico, when they should really worry about their neighbor’s kid who may just go out and buy an AR-15 as easy as he might buy a candy bar. Parkland’s shooter bought 10 guns, legally; according to CNN:

A law enforcement source briefed on the investigation told CNN that Cruz had obtained at least 10 firearms, all of them rifles. Investigators are trying to track the purchases, which Cruz appears to have made in the past year or so, the source said.
Cruz bought two weapons from Gun World of South Florida in Deerfield Beach, said Kim Waltuch, the store’s CEO. She would not provide details on the types of guns he purchased or on the time frame, but said the sales followed normal protocol for Florida firearms purchases.
What if administrators and teachers and board members also walked out of their schools? What if education came to a halt in this country because enough people want their children to have the right NOT to live in fear of going to school, to learn. We could all just walk around Betsy deVos. The answer isn’t better active shooter drills or locks or no bump stocks or help for the mentally ill or whatever else the NRA would have us believe.
The answer, or at least imho the first step, is to reinstate the 1994 assault weapon ban that happened after Reagan was nearly killed (remember the Brady Bill?). Bill Clinton signed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, and George Bush allowed it to expire in 2004. I’m sure if you asked both Bush presidents today, father and son, if they would like to resurrect this ban without a goddamn time limit attached, they’d probably say “YES.” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/when-bill-clinton-passed-gun-reform/488045/
Or maybe a child’s life is not quite as important as one presidential life?
So my piece of wisdom on this rainy, cold Nashville Wednesday is a bit of old fashioned Biblical verse: “From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength, Because of your adversaries, that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.”
And I’ll drink to that.
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