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Posts Tagged ‘Gun Violence’

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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Good Morning from Mexico, where the sun is shining and the construction noise can be deafening. Bob and I are on stage one of the never-ending search for a beach house. Our grandchild magnet doesn’t have to actually be ON a beach, just close enough to count.

The last time we were in Mexico was for Great Grandma Ada’s 90th birthday bash. We traveled as a large family group and stayed at a luxury resort in Cabo San Lucas. There was whale watching and celebrating galore but it seemed like we were inside a cocoon made for Americans.

This time we rented a car in Cancun and drove 75 miles to Tulum. I found a beautiful new penthouse condo on AirBnB, and we don’t need a gym. Our stair master is the 3 flights of stairs we climb multiple times a day. We’ve been living la vida local.

When a streetlight turns red, a man steps into the square and serenades us with a trumpet!

We can ride our bikes to the Caribbean Sea through trails on the edge of a rain forest. The people here are genuine and kind. I’m surprised that most don’t speak English, but that is my bias showing. Mea Culpa. I love the greenery and the wildlife, agouti and pelicans and more. But most of all I loved visiting the Mayan ruins yesterday.

This archaeological site sits on the edge of a windswept cliff. It was first inhabited around 1500 years ago and was abandoned after the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Once a walled city that was used for religious and economic purposes – the “common people” lived outside the walls – it is now a tourist Mecca. Like Stonehenge, its design helped the people keep track of the sun and the stars.

We were early and surrounded by a few tour groups of different languages. Still, there were moments when I felt I was  walking on sacred ground; you could touch the ancient stone, you could smell the sea. Iguanas poked their ancient heads out of the their temple nests.

We returned to our rooftop deck, to the WiFi of horrific news from the states. I am afraid we have become habituated to school shootings, to allowing our children to be sacrificed to the god of money and power for the NRA. If so, like the Mayan culture, America is on a path to extinction.

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I’ve heard people say, the day after #HumanRightsDay, that they will lose their faith in people if Alabama elects a pedophile like Moore tomorrow. Granted, seeing pastors and some southern Republicans stick by him is confusing and contradictory if you happen to be a practicing Christian. Listening to Mr T’s robo-call of support is yet another nonsensical stunt from our Groper-in-Chief.

But it’s Moore’s racist point of view, and his willingness to endorse the agenda of the NRA that is truly frightening.

After all, it’s not just what he did as a middle-aged man with a teenager – it’s how he will vote as another old white guy in the Senate that is truly frightening! How can you say you believe the woman who was 14 when Roy Moore sexually assaulted her and simultaneously want the man in office. Easy, Trumpsters write this off as another “boys will be boys” moment. Locker room talk? It never happened. Denial is a powerful thing.

Maybe, but it’s a ‘bless his heart’ kinda Southern thing too, this Fundamentalist/Baptist faith in a God who is all powerful and therefore can take the rap for anything bad that ever happens; this is on the other side of a religious spectrum of ‘it’s a bad idea for one’s religion to guide policy in the US…’ ya know, cause the founders were trying to SEPARATE church and state.

“Moore suggested that a lack of faith in God may have played a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as he quoted a passage from the book of Isaiah in a February speech at the Open Door Baptist Church. The passage suggests that because God’s message was rejected, sin will come like a high wall that suddenly collapses.”

Then he compares that high wall to the Pentagon. He indicated that God may be upset because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.” Families were closer during slavery! He has even blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on Americans who have, “…forgotten the law of God.” He believes we are a sinful people. I believe he is insane! https://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/27/roy-moore-outrageous-things-he-said-243207

Remember when Congress failed to pass a universal background check after the Sandy Hook massacre? That’s about when I lost my faith completely. Our legislators showed their true colors back then, and as my brother Eric likes to say, “We have the best democracy money can buy.”

They are willing to sacrifice 90+ lives a day to gun violence, and would now like concealed carry gun owners to be able to carry their weapons across state lines with impunity. So if a woman flees to a neighboring state, her abuser can easily bring his weapon of choice along for the chase. Republicans really respect women and girls, right? Women who lost their children in a classroom, girls who are being strangled by their gun-toting boyfriends.

Being an old school feminist, I’m really glad the #MeToo movement has started a revolution of sorts, but I wonder how we can bring about the kind of common sense gun reform our country so desperately needs. How about making it easier to vote, instead of harder? That could be a start, along with throwing the money/lobbyist class off the Hill.

Tis the season for sharing. Who cares whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?” Not me. While you decorate your trees and light your candles, while you go to the church or synagogue or nature trail of your choice, while you make your end of year charitable donations, think about ways we can make our country more equitable and just for all our citizens. I’d like to keep my faith in humanity.

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