Gun Control is Complicated

Depending on where you live and the gun culture you live in, gun control is more complicated than you may think.  The idea that we need to get guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them is one of  the most important issues we face as a country.

Banning assault rifles makes perfect sense for those who believe that there is no place for them in our society.  There is also those Americans that believe the opposite.

Where it gets complicated is determining who should be banned from acquiring and owning any gun or lethal weapon.

People that suffer certain mental issues and display behavior that could cause them to take another human’s life is very key to the gun violence in our communities. There are also those individuals who have fabricated their own reality to justify their actions, sometimes even just to garner attention by surrealistic means.  If you stop and think about it, killers including terrorists were not born killers or terrorists.  Some times these people are easily persuaded to be part of evil activities as a result of letting themselves be influenced by others.

Along with sensible gun control, we need to strengthen the policies, procedures and communication among those groups that can identify a high risk person before they can cause harm to others.  If it is a matter of resources at the local, state and federal levels, we need to provide it.  If it is a matter of oversite and accountability, we need to provide and enforce it.  There are tens of thousands of gun related incidents each year in our country and we need to stop learning from each of them and take whatever action that is necessary to stop them.

Politics has no place in the debate, partisan or not.  Civil, thoughtful and law-abiding citizens need to be heard, no matter what their position and beliefs are.  Personally, I don’t think that special interest groups such as the NRA should have any influence even if that sounds unrealistic and nieve.

For hundreds of years, the entire constitution has been the documented representation of our laws.  This includes the second amendment and all other articles, amendments and subsections of the amendments.  Our solid and enduring bill of rights and the constitution as a whole is what separates us from any other country in the world.

It is just plain and simply not true that the rights provided for in the second amendment are at risk.  The constitution is designed to allow for certain controls which are designed to protect all citizens, not just those who draw lines of opposition. These controls are prevalent throughout the constitution, not just the second amendment.   Regulations such as not allowing for automatic weapons, military weapons, shortened shotgun barrels and so on are in place to provide solid protections for everyone.

I recently watched a story on one of the news networks that reported on the views of Army Lieutenant General Hertling regarding the acquisition and possession of assault rifles by gun collectors and enthusiasts.  It makes some sense and it’s easy to support his position.  It is also worth noting that hunters don’t select an AR-15 out of their collection to take with them when they go hunting, not if they want to eat the game they catch.  The majority of assault rifle owners only fire them at gun ranges and in controlled shooting environments.

All that being said, assault rifles are the reason that we have mass shootings that result in record numbers of casualties.  When an innocent person is shot by an assault rifle, they have little chance for survival given the grotesque damage that it’s bullets cause.  As for me, I am of the belief that we need to stop the murderers from ever being able to buy one, even if that affects those who are not planning on killing.  Therefore there is a strong, fact supported argument that justifies the regulation of such rifles.

Gun control effecting those with mental disorders and criminals such as drug dealers, gangs, religious fanatics and so on is where it gets complicated.

The media speaks of banning the possession of guns by those individuals who have been adjudicated as suffering from a mental illness and deemed dangerous. The truth is that the vast majority of those who suffer from mental illness will never be discovered by a court or even a hospital.  Generally, this group will isolate and only contemplate harm to themselves.  This is however, the most dangerous group of people because there is no way of identifying them before they go off the reservation.

If you live in or near a medium or large city you will hear of deadly, gun related incidents every day, and I mean every day.  In most cases a conflict within these groups is what triggers the violence.  One of the problems we face is that a gang member is not going to walk into Cabella’s and legally purchase their weapon.  No…they can easily acquire their guns and weapons on the street illegally without any registration or background check.  incidentally, the structure of these groups is typically organized and more often than not, deadly.

In the not to distant past, the supreme court has made a provision in the constitution that allows for a person to use a gun to protect themselves and their families.  This to me is very important for those who know how to use a lethal weapon for protection.

I believe that arming teachers in our schools is not a good idea.  There is an unreasonable risk of something going wrong resulting in their death or the deaths of more people.  There is however the argument that members or former members of law enforcement or the military should be considered as an exception.  I think that could make sense.  I don’t think that these individuals are going to whip out their gun every time a fight breaks out among the students.  Overall, I still think it is a bad idea to equip teachers with guns and an expectation that they be the solution for the broader problem.

The efforts of young adult students who are hell-bent on forcing change needs to be taken seriously by all Americans.  Not only are they organized and credible, they have been able to keep their cause in the minds of all of us as a result of their persistence.  I seriously hope that they can endure over time.  As a group, they have also been able to influence those in government who would otherwise just plod along furthering their agenda without regard for the wishes of their constituents and the American people as a whole.  Because of social media, these groups have been able to further their agenda unlike any time in the past.  If you are old enough, remember the draft and peace protests of the sixties.  These opposition groups were made up of young Americans, just as we have now.

It seems to me that some of the baby boomers and the few WWII era citizens who are still alive, come across like these groups are made up of kids who just want to make noise.  Remember, that the next couple of generations are already becoming the ones who are the gatekeepers of the future of our country.  Our experience and wisdom is important, however we won’t be around for ever.

As for the millennials, they will only grow, mature and gain the experience that they will need to succeed in this world.  We can’t take them lightly.

At the end of the day, I personally have not met or associated with people who look at our country as the place in the world becoming full of doom and gloom.  For a majority of Americans, we live our lives without fear and with a sense of security unlike anywhere else.  We face our challenges and we help those who can’t help themselves. We are incredibly generous and supportive of others.

For me, today, my biggest challenge is figuring out what I want for dinner and when Street Outlaws is on Television.  This weekend, the weather is supposed to be nice so I will probably work on my truck then head to Costco to sample myself to a free lunch.  Many Americans will be out volunteering to help those who could use their help or they will participate in being involved in groups that are dear to them.  As for me, next week I will have to figure out how I am going to pay some bills…You get the idea.  It doesn’t change the fact that there are some very serious issues, sacrifices and tragedies that some of us have or will face at some point in our lives. Whether is seems cliché or not, we do live in the greatest country in the world, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

This article purely reflects my personal opinions…There is a couple of hundred million other American’s whose views and beliefs are just as important as anything I can come up with.




Train Derailment Tragedy and Infrastructure

train derailment photo

The train derailment in Washington State, regardless of the cause is a terrible tragedy.   In simple terms, those whose lives were taken as well as the numerous number of passengers that were seriously injured should give us pause to think about how fragile life is.

Soon, the story and the broad discussion will disappear from the headlines and only those effected will continue to live the effects of this disaster.

There will be the investigations, there will be the lawsuits, there will be the reality for many of those who were injured that they will be facing ongoing physical and emotional challenges.

Incidentally, myself and members of my family live within a few miles of the accident site and if not daily, frequently drive under the overpass where the accident happened.  As with everyone else, I never, in my wildest dreams would have thought this would happen there.  For me, over the last forty years, whenever I see a train crossing over the freeway, it is barely moving.

Hopefully, we will learn from this incident and implement remedies that will ensure that this doesn’t happen again.  As a result of the lack our federal government’s timely enforcement of a regulation that should have already been put in place to protect the passengers, they will have to assume their role as being complicit in this particular event.

I really do appreciate the President’s comments yesterday regarding this tragedy and his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.

Instead of adding  self serving political remarks including disparaging comments about the terrible shape of our infrastructure, he unknowingly passed up an opportunity to point out the positive and ongoing infrastructure work that is being done in Washington State (including the local and statewide railroads).

As of right now, Interstate Five is undergoing several major improvement projects.  Interestingly, the most current construction basically starts in the Nisqually Valley where the train derailment happened and stretches all the way north to Seattle.  It seems like the largest freeway improvement project is on a stretch of the highway that runs through the city of Tacoma which is the largest metropolitan city In the state behind Seattle.  There are new bridges, overpasses, on ramps, off ramps, collector distributor lanes etc. that are being constructed.  Some of these projects are nearing completion and are having a major positive impact on the traffic needs brought on by the massive growth in and around the city.

The Seattle area is also undergoing major development and highway improvements. They would in part reflect an investment in the future to alleviate the effects of an almost certain catastrophe caused by a likely, massive earthquake.  A couple of these improvements include the replacement of a floating bridge that spans a large lake connecting Seattle to the communities located east of the city.  There is also a major project happening to remove and replace a very old and seriously deteriorated and crumbling elevated highway that runs through the heart of the city.

These and many other highway improvements are heavily funded by the tax payers of the state along with modest federal financial support.

As I see it, Washington state, as with the rest of the country needs to prioritize and fund the replacement of old substandard and dangerous bridges and roadways.  Also, there are so many infrastructure issues we are now facing from utilities to roads to airports to maritime and many more that will require massive dollars to complete.  Personally, I don’t understand why we waited until now to do anything about it.  Rather than investing in these projects over time, most of the country has to face a significant crisis before the appropriate attention rises to the surface forcing action.

At the end of the day, the train wreck in Nisqually is not reflective of a deteriorating infrastructure.  Although the specific cause has not been determined, it would seem that one human’s actions and negligence changed the lives of all those who were involved.  As far as the companies that own and operate this railroad, why would they put business before the safety of the public when it comes to applying safeguards to avoid these situations?  Since this particular train is just one of many constantly in operation around the country that rely on individuals to be at the controls, I think quick and effective changes need to be put in place immediately.