Friday, April 19, 2013

To the News Outlets: Don't Cry Wolf

ABC News is reporting that the government has caught the second suspect in the Boston terrorist attack. The first, his brother, is now dead.

I quite badly want this to be true. What the people of Boston and its suburbs have been experiencing is terrorism at its very worst: they are gripped in fear, the area on lockdown, the streets empty and the people told to stay indoors. I so badly want this nightmare to be over. For Boston, and for America.

However, we've heard this story before, so I will wait to hear from the authorities before I believe it.

I think the news media has, with a few exceptions, behaved badly in this tragedy. Constant misinformation and false reports. It reminds me of when President Reagan was shot, and no one seemed to know anything. He was fine, having been saved by the Secret Service; he had a heart attack; he was being taken in to the hospital as a precaution; is he shot or isn't he?

At least back then, they had the excuse of poor telecommunications.

That is no longer a valid excuse.

In the effort to be "The First" or "The Exclusive," they've caused false hope, panic, confusion, irritation and disillusionment.

I believe that when this this is all well and truly over, the media needs to seriously consider where they went wrong and how it can be avoided in the future. What they have accomplished here is to make people trust news outlets less...and that's a big problem in an emergency.

We all learned not to cry wolf when we were kids. It is a lesson, I feel, some need to revisit...and learn again.

Putting away my soapbox now...

Update: the FBI has confirmed that the second suspect has been taken alive.

Let's all continue to keep Boston in our hearts & prayers. The search is over. Now the healing must begin.

Keep their families in your thoughts & prayers.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No One's Taking Away Your Guns!!!

Many people seem to be celebrating the defeat of two bills in Congress today. They seem to think that if either passed, it would invalidate the Second Amendment and "take all our guns away."

This is NOT TRUE. On any level.

First of all, the only thing that could obliterate the Second Amendment is a Constitutional amendment. That's how it works. And amendments are extraordinarily difficult to pass. Ask anyone who worked on the ERA.

Secondly, the first bill--the one that just failed--would not have taken anyone's guns away. It was not about outlawing any sort of guns or ammo. It would tighten background checks so that people who shouldn't have a gun by law are not able to buy one. Unless you are a felon, a stalker or insane...your rights were never in jeopardy.

Who is in jeopardy now that this bill failed? Anyone who has ever had to file a restraining order or lives next door to a guy who thinks the voices in his head are ordering him to shoot the next person he sees.

Tightening background checks is a GOOD thing. I am a former stalking victim. Believe me, I get it.

The second bill was about banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines. Not ALL guns. Just assault weapons. And frankly, I agree with it. These weapons are not necessary outside of the military.

You might disagree with that one, hell, you might be an assault weapons collector for all I know. It's your right to disagree with that bill. But the background checks? Why is that a bad thing? And please don't include in your answer the words "Second Amendment" or "taking all our guns away." I've already established the fallacy of that argument.

I am not anti-gun. I grew up in the Smokies, in Appalachia. As such, I understand the necessity of gun ownership. Many, many people in this country need to hunt or they will starve. They need to be able to protect themselves from rabid or injured animals. And yes, people need to be able to protect their family and property.

Tightening background checks would HELP you do that.

The Brady Act never took our guns away, nor did in ruin the Second Amendment. And that law, which established national background checks, was signed into law more than TWENTY YEARS AGO.

The bill that just died would have tightened those background checks, to close holes that 20+ years of the Brady Act have failed to do. That's it. It would not have outlawed guns any more than the Brady Act itself did.

I think it's only natural for us to say, "Ok, the Brady Act has been a good thing. We've now had it for two decades. Where can improvements be made? Are there loopholes that need to be closed? What have we learned about background checks in the last 20 years that we can apply here, making the law better and the American people safer?"

Sounds rational, right? Sadly, those voices were drowned out by those who chose to manipulate citizens into being afraid that the bill would confiscate the guns they need for food, sport and protection. Even worse, people were convinced that this bill would destroy the Bill of Rights, the foundation of our Constitution and our government...of our very way of life!

None of those accusations are true. Unfortunately, many people prefer spin to truth. They will believe what they hear from pundits and read through social media. They won't take the time to actually READ the bill itself, to do the research to make an informed decision.

It's much easier to rile people up than it is to tell them the truth. And if you succeed in riling them up...they will be too afraid, too outraged, to learn the truth. They'll even refuse to listen to truth, or believe it when they hear it. Emotion trumps information yet again.

And a good bill, which would have accomplished good things, goes nowhere.

The next time an estranged husband with a valid restraining order against him buys a gun and kills his family, the news outlets and social media will lament, asking "How did this happen? How did he even get a gun?"

He got it because good-hearted, well-meaning people got enraged via misinformation. They then made sure a bill tightening background checks died on the Senate floor, because they erroneously believed that if that bill passed, they'll take away our guns and destroy the Second Amendment. They never read the actual bill. They never inquired into exactly what the bill would do...or the consequences if it failed.

At least have the decency to send flowers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

FB Adventures: Hands Off My Guns!!!

This appeared on my feed today:

"Dear Mr President you and your puppets are trying to take our rights to guns away look what happened yesterday to that 8 yr old kid and the others that died a gun could have killed the terrorist think about what you and your puppets are doing Thank you"

My response:

No one's going to make all guns illegal. It would require a Constitutional Amendment, and those are very, very difficult to achieve. In this case, impossible. On one hand, you have the Congressmen who are shills for the NRA. On the other, you have Congressmen who represent states that rely heavily on hunting for either tourism or survival. There are still many places in this country where if you do not hunt, you do not eat. I grew up in the Smokies, in Appalachia, and taking away their guns would leave them to starve to death. Not to mention that you do need protection from the occasional rabid animal. There's no reasoning with a sick or injured bear!

The only guns in jeopardy of being banned are assault weapons. People have been trying to get them banned for decades, long before Obama became President. And they have failed, for decades.

Every time a move is made to ban assault weapons or guns/ammo in any form, the media whips the public into a frenzy about how the government is going to take away everybody's guns. It's never true, but people continue to believe it, ensuring that no sensible law concerning guns can pass.

A good example is the law known as the Brady Act. It's named after James Brady, who got shot by John Hinkley, Jr during the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981. For over a decade, gun proponents and media (fueled by the NRA) tried to convince people that the Brady Act would take away all our guns and destroy the Second Amendment.

Do you know what the Brady Act actually did? Required background checks. That's it.

Again: no one is going to take your guns. We can't even get assault weapons banned, much less handguns. And I am one of many people who would gladly welcome a ban on assault weapons but would fight like hell if they tried to outlaw guns all together. I know what it's like to need to hunt to survive. I know what it's like to participate in Tribal hunts. And as a former stalking victim, I know how important it is to be able to protect yourself AND how important it is that background checks are national, quick and effective.

Finally, no gun could have saved any of the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing. People who set those kinds of bombs usually don't stick around where they could get hurt by their own terrorism (suicide bombers are the exception, and rare). Most of these cowardly animals want to revel in the carnage they've caused, want to be upheld as a "hero" to the people who share their cause (think abortion clinic bombers and environmental terrorists). They make bombs, and they make them in such a way as to ensure their cowardly behinds are safe when it explodes as others suffer and die.

No one knows who did this yet. They planted the bombs and got out of there. The victims never saw the face(s) of the despicable lowlifes who caused this carnage, and even if they did...they had no way of knowing which person in the crowd detonated the bomb. I doubt he wore an "I am about to bomb your ass" t-shirt. No gun could have killed the terrorist because there was no way of knowing WHO the terrorist was. We still don't know who did this; how could an armed racer know who to shoot? You would also have to own a crystal ball and be able to predict who the terrorist was BEFORE the bomb detonated. Once it did, the deaths were going to occur whether the terrorist was shot or not. It was too late.

What happened yesterday was a tragedy for Boston and a tragedy for America. Please don't compound the tragedy by using it to justify unfounded gun-stealing fears about a President and his "puppets." Focus instead on the victims of this crime and pray the perpetrators are apprehended before they can kill anymore 8-year-olds.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Missing You, Scott Smith

Today was Scott's memorial. Rest in peace, my friend.

Friday, April 12, 2013

RIP, Scott Smith

Tomorrow is the memorial for my dear late friend, Scott Smith. I wish I could be there. Rest in peace, Scott.

Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes it feels so bad
Sometimes I wish
life was never-ending
But all good things, they say,
Never last.