Monday, April 30, 2012

Bullying and a lack of gun control go hand in hand

New Jersey’s Ramsey School District just paid $4.2 million to the family of Sawyer Rosenstein for bullying he experienced with a punch to the stomach while he was in Eric Smith Middle School that left him paralyzed from the waist down.  The bully had struck before and was known by the school.  Three months before the incident Rosenstein warned the school he was being bullied, asking for help.  Sawyer is now a freshman at Syracuse University.

Proactive Behavioral-Management exclaims, “If anyone believes that bullying doesn’t take its toll on families, schools, and society take a look at the statistics below:”
·       60% of middle school students say that they have been bullied, while 16% of staff believe that students are bullied.
·       160,000 students stay home from school everyday due to bullying. (NEA)
·       30% of students who reported they had been bullied said they had at times brought weapons to school.
·       A bully is 6 times more likely to be incarcerated by the age of 24.
·       A bully is 5 times more likely to have a serious criminal record when he grows up.
·       2/3 of students who are targets become bullies.
·       20% of all children say they have been bullied.
·       20% of high school students say they have seriously considered suicide with the last 12 months.
·       25% of students say that teachers intervened in bullying incidents while 71% of teachers say they intervened.
·       The average child has watched 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school.
·       In schools where there are bullying programs bullying is reduced by 50%.

And here’s another fact that should make the public take another look at the National Rifle Assn.’s crusade to loosen or eliminate gun laws.  “Bullying was a factor in 2/3 of the 37 school shootings reviewed by the US Secret Service.”  Fortunately, Arizona’s latest stupid gun law to allow guns in colleges was vetoed by the Governor.  Add to that a loss of employment amounting to $19 billion and a drop in productivity of $3 billion due to workplace bullying.

According to the Bully Free Program, “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior that is intentional, hurtful, (physical and psychological), and/or threatening and persistent (repeated). There is an imbalance of strength (power and dominance).”  Further, the mistreatment must be intentional, hurtful (physical or psychological), threatening, fear of harm and safety, and occur more than once, although some think once is enough.

Bullying by exclusion
There is both physical and verbal bullying and the above site, which I urge you to see if you have a problem or are just interested, explains what each is about.  It shows the social/relational downside that can humiliate, embarrass and destroy reputations.  Boys and girls are both bullies and there is cyber bullying which I will cover at more length later.  Every 7 minutes an elementary child is bullied on the playground but the onset is actually between 3 and 4 years of age.

It is a common theme in school shootings as students retaliate for the bullying; roughly two-thirds of school shooters “felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others. 

Thirty percent of all child suicides can be directly related to bullying, some of which use a gun.  As an example, the worst school shooting ever at Virginia Tech in 2007 resulted in part by bullying of the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, according to students who knew him. 

The Bully Free Program study covers the typical characteristics of the bullied as well as warning signs that your child might bully someone.  Folks, these are startling facts.

And here’s the most onerous fact of all: “Twenty-five percent of teachers see nothing wrong with bullying or put-downs and consequently intervene in only 4 percent of bullying incidents.”

And then there is cyberbullying, which is deliberately using digital media to communicate false, embarrassing, or hostile information about or to another person, according to the Breaking Free Blog.  Luke Gilkerson provides facts and statistics that cover everything from types of online bullying to the warning signs of being bullied. 

He says “38% of online girls report being bullied, compared with 26% of online boys;39% of social network users have been cyberbullied in some way, compared with 22% of online teens who do not use social networks.  “’Hyper-networking’ teens (those who spend more than three hours per school day on online social networks) are 110% more likely to be a victim of cyberbullying, compared to those who don’t spend as much time on social networks.”

Suicides from cyberbullying are prevalent and Gilkerson lists several to make his point including Tyler Clementi in 2010, Alexis Skye Pilkington in 2010, Phoebe Prince in 2010 and Amanda Cummings in 2011.  Tragedies that did not have to happen.

So what have we learned so far?  One disturbing fact is that loose guns contribute to the bullying problem in both victims’ retaliation and from those who commit suicide.  It seems that guns play a part of most everything that is bad and contribute little to the protection of those who carry them.  Also, schools do not understand nor do they take this issue seriously enough.  Parents are aware but need to counsel their children more.  It is a problem that will not go away.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Warren Buffett for President? Read on

Buffett/Secretary taxes
I received one of those forwarded emails recently that I usually delete without reading but when I noticed Warren Buffett’s name in the headline I took notice.  I am a big admirer of Mr. Buffett because he is one of us; the simple folk who try to keep this insane country headed in the right direction.  When Buffett said he shouldn’t pay less taxes than his secretary, I thought there would be a major rush to sign him up for the nation’s number one job.

The "Big Guys" discuss money
But the cagey investor knew, as most of us progressives do, that we have a great President in Barack Obama and all he needs is some support.  Hence, the “Buffett Rule” was born and the man told the President he could run with it and he did.  It is well known by most that this tax on millionaires would make only a small dent in the deficit, but it is the nature of the inequity between what the wealthy pay in taxes and what the simple folk like you and I do.

Mitch McConnell
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, poop pooped the idea when it was introduced and even some Democrats were soft in their support.  But the American public was solidly behind the concept.  A Gallup poll in April found that 60 percent of Americans supported the proposal, including 63 percent of political independents.  Chuck Schumer, a Democratic Sen. from New York said it’s “proof positive” the GOP is on the defensive over taxes.

So it’s agreed that Barack Obama is the one for November.  So what else could Warren Buffett do to help the President in his re-election?  In a recent CNBC interview he claimed, “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes.  You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.”

How the Buffett Rule works by Warren Buffett:
In another Gallup poll taken in February, Congress was at a record-low of 10 percent, down from 13 percent in January alongside another previous low of 11 percent.  Congressional approval averaged only 17 percent in 2011.  With all of these facts in the books, it was only natural that the financier would come up with some proposed legislation of his own.  His idea is the “Congressional Reform Act of 2012.”  Here are the sections of his bill.

1.    No  Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no
pay when they're out of office.

2.    Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the
Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into                 
the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the
American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3.    Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
Americans do.

4.    Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5.    Congress loses their current health care system and
participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6.    Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
American people.

7.    All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void
effective 1/1/12. The American people did not  make this contract with

Warren Buffett comments that “Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.  Right now there is 90 percent of the country that would agree.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gun owners need “rigorous training” according to the experts

Ariz. Wis. gun bubba
Don’t know about your state but in Arizona you can buy a handgun and carry it around anywhere you want to, even concealed, and you don’t have to have 1 second of training.  You can imagine the danger running around the streets of this state, gun worshippers with a gun in their pocket who don’t have the slightest idea how to use it.  Concealed carry advocate, Todd Nehls, wants the gun population better trained, no doubt recognizing the stupidity of Arizona gun laws.

Nehls is the Sheriff of Dodge County, Wisconsin, and although I disagree with his support of concealed carry, he has made some good points that should be considered seriously by the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) and its membership.  Nehls asks all gun owners, “Are you ready?” meaning have you had sufficient training that would allow you in an emergency in your home to act responsibly.  I replace his reference to a “store” because I believe guns belong at home.

Nehls offers that “In Wisconsin, the state Department of Justice has received more than 108,000 applications for concealed carry permits…” since the state made it legal in December of 2011.  And I thought Arizona was gun crazy.  But the training these people will end up with is nothing compared to what law enforcement officers will receive.  Here’s the difference according to Nehls:

“…law enforcement officers go through several hours of incident simulation training a year to prepare them for pulling the trigger on another person. They face off with instructors or other officers, firing high-speed paintball shells at each other. Military personnel also go through rigorous training so they know the ramifications of pulling the trigger.  {The cops} can be put through any of 350 different scenarios that they might encounter on the street.”

Is this a joke?

OK.  Let’s stop right here for a bit of debate on whether or not these cowboys who claim that they need a gun in their possession to protect themselves in case of an emergency are ready for the challenge.  Unless you are a former cop or were trained in the military, you are not!  One of your own has just made my point and you can quote all of the NRA garbage you want, even bring Wayne LaPierre to my house to argue, but your premise is still pure crap.

Wisconsin’s Trayvon Martin was an innocent 20-year-old black man by the name of Bo Morrison who was killed by Adam Kind.  Morrison had fled from a party being raided by police and hid on a fully enclosed porch at the back of Kind’s home.  In this instance the intruder was in someone’s home, but the question is to what extent was Kind in danger to make him shoot in supposed self defense.  Nehls said a trained cop would have yelled a challenge.  Did Kind?

Brian Dorow, associate dean in the department of criminal justice, homeland security and counterterrorism said, “Generally, deadly force - intentional use of a firearm that could result in a death - is justified only when someone reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm.

Stand Your Ground Law
 Did either Adam Kind or George Zimmerman believe this?  It’s doubtful based on the information we have in both scenarios.  But it would be most interesting to know how much training each had in the handling of a handgun.  My gut tells me again that a sufficient amount is doubtful.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

America’s toughest Sheriff Arizona’s Joe Arpaio…not so tough anymore?

Joe Arpaio: The people elected me
For two decades one of the biggest foes of illegal immigrants in the Grand Canyon State may be ending his law enforcement career with a whimper.  Along with his best buddy, former State Sen. Russell Pearce, he could also be voted out of office in November.  Pearce was dumped due to his radical views on immigration, and the same issue could be Arpaio’s undoing.  But the Sheriff is taking his regular arrogant stand indicating the people put him in office.

That arrogance could easily be shoved down his throat in the 2012 election if the “people” decide they are fed up with him too.  But Randy Parraz, the community activist responsible for getting rid of Pearce says, “The groundswell of people coming out protesting, we haven’t seen.  Anywhere else with this kind of stuff, he wouldn’t survive.  So true!  In Arizona they love their conservatives who, for the most part can do no harm.  But they did finally get fed up with Russell Pearce.

Arpaio will do anything for publicity.  Along with his immigration sweeps, he recently appointed a special volunteer cold-case posse to investigate Barack Obama’s birth certificate…AGAIN.  The Sheriff then reported that they had found probable cause to believe that the long-form birth certificate released by the White House last April was a computer-generated forgery.  Randy Parraz commented, “He retaliates against his critics.”

Sheriff Arpaio's Tent city

The group Citizens for a Better Arizona has been working against Sheriff Joe for some time now and recently asked former high-ranking officials from the state and local level about their impressions of Arpaio.  They are former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon.  They came up with the following assessment:

“The men say their goal was to remove the politics and talk facts. They see those facts as years of the sheriff's abuse of power that have caused the state and city of Phoenix time and money and hurt its reputation.”  The $ figure is $300 million.  The damage to Arizona’s reputation is well known from the ridicule it has taken nation-wide.

Arpaio’s supporters have continued toppling since Russell Pearce. 

The latest is former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas who was disbarred April 10, “…for engaging in unethical conduct to intimidate and smear his and Arpaio’s political adversaries.”  A salon article reports that “…a three-member Arizona state Supreme Court disciplinary panel supporting the disbarment ruling also concluded there was ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Thomas had violated federal civil rights laws.”

Arpaio and Andrew Thomas

The Salon piece continues, “While Thomas, a Republican, has not been criminally charged, the opinion made it crystal clear that his unethical and allegedly illegal conduct was the result of his ‘unholy collaboration’ with Arpaio, also a Republican, to use their law enforcement powers to retaliate against critics.” This is powerful stuff for the Sheriff’s November opponents to take to the election but still may not convince some of his fanatical followers
However, there’s more.  Salon continues, “The Supreme Court panel’s opinion stated that evidence indicated Arpaio had conspired with Thomas and Aubuchon to file the charges against the judge and two supervisors.”  Lisa Aubuchon is a former assistant prosecutor for Thomas who was also disbarred.  Still not enough?  Well, former Governor and current Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has also withdrawn her support.

The Young Turks on Sheriff Arpaio:
One of the worst accusations against Arpaio is his department’s handling of more than 400 sex-crimes cases.  The New York Times reports, “His deputies failed to investigate or conducted only the sketchiest of inquiries into hundreds of sex crimes between 2005 and 2007, investigations by Arizona law enforcement agencies have shown. Many of those cases involved molested children.”  Arpaio responded, “If there were any victims, I apologize to those victims.”  “If”???  

Also important and certainly not forgotten is the demise and ultimate firing of the Sheriff’s longtime chief deputy David Hendershott who was a part of Arpaio’s campaign finance scandal which is yet another federal criminal investigation.  Arpaio is also being investigated by the feds for civil rights violations.  According to the Overthrow Arpaio movement, “Hundreds of current sheriff's office employees have expressed a vote of no confidence in Sheriff Arpaio.”

But there is one thing sheriff Joe Arpaio should be commended for and that is his devotion to helping animals through his no-kill shelter MASH, the old Maricopa County First Avenue Jail converted to an animal shelter which is air conditioned.  It has been confirmed that the deputies’ care of these misplaced pets is great.  But is that enough to get America’s toughest Sheriff reelected?  The “people” will decide in November.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NRA member’s “Obama assassination joke” shows the insanity of this organization

Pres. Lincoln's assassination
At the recent NRA meeting in St. Louis, a reporter had the luxury of witnessing first-hand just what a bunch of morons make up at least a portion of the membership of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).  Alexander Zaitchik, writing for Media Maters for America, was on an airport shuttle bus when this idiot, who is an attorney by the way, dropped the bomb:

“What do Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama have in common?"  The answer, "Nothing. Yet."

Gun wacko Wayne LaPierre

According to Zaitchik, the quote came from a professional Second Amendment extremist named Stephen Burke, who is a buddy of Wayne LaPierre, Exec. V.P. and CEO of the NRA.  In his day job “Burke specializes in getting guns into the hands of ex-cons whose licenses have been revoked or downgraded for criminal activity.”  A shining example of the NRA’s mission to put guns in the hands of everyone, no matter their background, allowing them to carry them anywhere.

What is chilling about this group of gun worshippers is the fact that most of the shuttle bus erupted in laughter, except for the “soft-spoken” father from Long Island who was going to the convention with his teenage daughter; he just looked out the window, “embarrassed.”  Yes, there are NRA members who believe in moderation and don’t wish to participate in the lunacy of these double-digit red necks.  They are apparently few, however.  Pathetic!

Zaitchik cautioned, though, that parents who want to shield their children from this kind of low class humor should keep them away from NRA conventions.  He added, “The group's leadership has in recent years expertly cultivated a very profitable hatred and paranoia among its membership.”  We all know that the use of hate and fear-mongering has a distinct appeal to conservatives.  And it keeps the NRA coffers full from the dull-witted among its members.

NRA 2012 convention

At the convention, NRA members and their leaders described President Obama as an “enemy of freedom,” with the same old tired phrase that he wants to take away all their guns.  This bunch of deadbeats will be after the President in November, but it’s not clear if his GOP rival, probably Mitt Romney, will be their saving grace.  Romney has vacillated on his support of gun control since he was the Massachusetts Gov., and wasn’t a surefire at the NRA convention.

But did you know that the NRA was almost bankrupt in the mid-1990s?  Considering the donations of only two gun manufacturers at this year’s convention, Ruger and MidWayUSA, who gave up $8 million, that’s hard to understand.   And in 2007, one of its former lobbyists, Richard Feldman, “…described the organization as a "cynical, mercenary political cult."  Zaitchik is more conciliatory of the group today, but I say it hasn’t changed.  Nada.

 The NRA’s official battle cry for November is “All In.”  Zaitchik says it works when you consider the group’s extreme, even “insane” interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.  The organization has gone on the offense in recent years which is plainly obvious in the states of Arizona and Florida.  Arizona has the loosest gun laws in the country allowing guns in bars by owners who had no background checks.  And Florida passed the original “Stand Your Ground” law.

The NRA has as its steadfast partner the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in passing its absurd gun laws.  ALEC is a pro-business, anti-consumer group composed of U.S. corporations and state legislators that pass legislation designed for the profits of American companies while leaving consumers to fend for themselves.  In many cases the legislation is passed by states verbatim of what ALEC proposes. 

"Shoot-em-up Charlie" cartoon of the NRA and ALEC

But currently the NRA is focused on a federal bill to allow gun owners to carry nationwide, according to their state’s laws.  As an example, under this proposed law, a gun totin’ cowboy from Arizona with no background check, nor any training in firearms whatever, could carry his or her handgun to any U.S. state, no matter what the state’s gun laws say.  It’s another of the NRA’s licenses to kill. 

Thirty years ago there were discussions of a national handgun ban.  Today we’re talking about universal right to carry, brags the NRA’s Chris Cox.  Will this conglomeration of misfits still be bragging when some of their own are killed by the guns they want everywhere?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Largest auto and home insurer STATE FARM refuses to dump ALEC

Think State Farm Insurance is “Like a Good Neighbor,” as the slogan brags in their advertising?  Think again.  They are a part of the largest anti-consumer group in the country and even after numerous requests from its customers and pro-consumer groups State Farm says it will not budge in its support of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  They continue to maintain both their membership and leadership in the organization.

SF VP Louise Perrin said, "(O)ur work with ALEC is limited to research projects for use by public officials considering matters that impact the affordability and accessibility of insurance," according to the Center for Media and Democracy who has been bird dogging ALEC for some time now.  My interpretation of Perrin’s remark is that SF works with ALEC to wring every dollar out of their policyholders with limited coverage in return.

CMD states that Corporations like State Farm pay a hefty amount to participate in ALEC’s business-favored programs, somewhere around $50,000—plus additional money to serve on specific task forces—some of which is spent to promote NRA causes like the “stand your ground” law that has been deemed responsible for the killing of teen ager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. 

ALEC was also involved in the creation of and passing of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, SB-1070.  They have been active in passing voter ID legislation that confuses and discourages the poor and ethnic groups to vote.  ALEC wants to privatize the prison system and education across the country when it has been proven that the public system is just as sufficient and less-expensive.

So just remember, every time you pay your premiums for auto and/or homeowner insurance to State Farm, a portion is going to ALEC to support pro-corporate legislation that puts the consumer at the bottom of the priority list.  And some of these may be bills that reflect just the opposite of what you believe on the issue.  ALEC’s control over conservative Republican state legislators is now legend; in many cases they pass ALEC legislation word for word.

A U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, (D) Wisconsin, comments on ALEC:
CMD says, “State Farm's participation on ALEC's insurance committee has put the insurer in a position to benefit from several major pieces of insurance industry model legislation.”  This includes the Consumer Choice Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.  The Act, “lowers the minimum amount that insurance companies typically must insure motorists for under state law in auto accidents.”  Further, “the law can mean lower payouts for insurance companies, yielding higher profits.”

BINGO!  State Farm is interested in its profitability over the quality of coverage it provides for its policyholders.

CMD adds, “The lower minimum coverage can also mean that consumers who thought they had insurance for serious accidents do not have enough to cover the injured parties.”  It happened in Wisconsin where ALEC worshipper Governor Scott Walker signed legislation that “…reduced the state's minimum coverage for auto liability insurance by half.”  This is a secret collusion between corporations and state legislators led by ALEC with the consumer always on the losing end.

CMD reports on other ALEC-sponsored auto insurance bills that leave consumers holding the bag:

  • The After Market Crash Parts Act, which leads to lower costs for insurers transferring “…the risk to policy holders that after-market replacement parts might be inferior to the manufacturer's part.”

  • Create an industry-controlled registry of insured motorists for states to identify motorists who flout mandatory insurance laws (a model law which effectively creates the same kind of public-private partnership in mandated auto insurance that many ALEC members would oppose when it comes to health insurance).

  • Restrict or prohibit non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering) if an individual in a car accident did not have insurance* -- an industry effort to ratchet up the sale of policies.

  • Prohibit state governments from being involved in the private insurance market (a theoretical proposition that may be a preemptive strike against policy makers who have considered taxing gas to cover uninsured motorists).

Other companies on the Fortune 500 list with State Farm have dumped ALEC.  They are McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Kraft.  Currently a total of 10 consumer-oriented companies have cut the cord with ALEC, and CMD forecasts more will follow.

Now I am not suggesting that you drop your State Farm insurance and switch to another company because casualty insurance today is such a tediously technical issue and you need a company track record.  And also, if you have the kind of agent I do, you wouldn’t part with him or her for anything.  Just call Bob Lapinski at State Farm (309) 735-8621, and tell him to get out of ALEC now.

You can see a series of my posts on ALEC here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

There is no excuse for behavior unbefitting a U.S. military soldier or…a human being

Abu Ghraib Prison
 We just learned of an incident from 2010 where soldiers took photos of themselves posing with bodies of suspected Afghan insurgents.  In one they are holding two disembodied legs for the camera.  It’s happened in the past—the most famous was the Abu Ghraib Prison incident in Iraq where prisoners were physically and psychologically abused, and there was also sexual abuse including torture.  That was 2004.  But we didn’t learn our lesson.

Even when 11 soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to military prison with dishonorable discharges.  Two others were sentenced later, and Brigadier General Janis Karpinski was reprimanded for dereliction of duty and then demoted to the rank of Colonel.  It’s hard to understand how the Abu Ghraib thing went on for so long but it did and with the media notoriety you would think that an even half intelligent person would understand the dangers involved.

Troops urinating on dead Taliban bodies
Fast-forward to January of 2012 where the gung-ho U.S. Marines are caught in a video showing them urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban members.  The video shows the marines laughing, with one commenting, “Have a nice day buddy,” another saying “Golden, like a shower.”  These guys are supposed to be a part of Scout Sniper Team 4 with the 3rd battalion 2nd marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where you would expect more discipline.

With the learning curve still at zero, a group of guys at a Bagram U.S. Air Force base in Afghanistan apparently didn’t understand the importance of, or just didn’t care, about the Muslim bible and burned several copies of the Quran.  Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense, said it was done “unknowingly and improperly.”  He stated further, “…all 140,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan are being retrained in the handling of religious materials.  There’s more.

U.S. Soldiers urinating on dead Taliban:

Army Staff SGT. Robert Bales left his outpost in Kandahar province's Panjwai district in March going house to house allegedly killing 17 villagers.  He’s described as a “gregarious” family man with five boys from Norwood, OH, close to Cincinnati.  In the Kandahar massacre, the 17 villagers were shot and killed, some burned, with five others injured.  Although it is not known for sure, it is believed that Bales did not know any of his victims.  

Now we know this select few are not indicative of the U.S. military as a whole.  The balance are courageous beyond the call duty and have served with honor in both Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  And I am sure they have plenty of judgment since it takes a lot of that to just stay alive.  But bad acuity doesn’t just occur in the armed forces.  Look at President Obama’s Secret Service team’s fiasco in Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast.

Secret Service agents placed on
administrative leave
Eleven agents “were implicated in a prostitution scandal in Colombia that also involved about 10 military service members and as many as 20 women. All the Secret Service employees who were involved had their security clearances revoked.”  A supervisor will be allowed to retire, another fired, and a third non-supervisor resigned.  The Service has said that the President was never in danger but, still, is this a good example of judgment?

On the one side you have the Geneva conventions that dictate that the dead in war “shall be respected.”  On the other side are troops that have watched buddies murdered by snipers and roadside bombs and who might see revenge in these kinds of episodic events.  But this is still absolutely no excuse for behavior unbefitting a U.S. military soldier, or…a human being. 

If, however, there is a breaking point in these kinds of occurrences that are happening to American servicemen and women, and this could be defined with more research, then the military should study this immediately.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Has the NRA provided a ‘license to murder’ in “stand your ground law?”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks so, claiming the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) promotes a gun culture at the expense of public safety in its creation of and promotion of the “stand your ground” laws.  This legislation that allows gun owners to claim self defense in shooting someone, even killing them, if they feel threatened, has been passed or is under consideration in 35 states.  Florida, where it originally passed in 2005, is where Trayvon Martin was killed.

Bloomberg claims it advocates vigilantism saying, “You just cannot have a civilized society where everybody can have a gun and make their own decisions as to whether someone is threatening or not."  Further, "This has nothing to do with gun owners' rights, nothing to do with the second amendment. Plain and simple, this is just trying to give people a license to murder."  The twisted minds of the NRA and some of its members will no doubt try to refute all of this.

And this fanaticism is not limited to the gun worshippers.  Immediately following the Trayvon Martin shooting, U.S. senators introduced NRA-backed legislation that would require all states to honor any permit for the concealed carry of weapons that has been issued by any other state.  Considering the fact that just about anyone in the state of Arizona can buy a gun and carry it anywhere they choose, you could be putting gun freaks on the street throughout the country.

It is almost as if the NRA looks at a tragedy like Trayvon Martin’s killing and suddenly realizes the promotability of the incident to assure its dues-paying membership that, no matter how horrific a situation is we can overcome the negativity by passing another law to loosen gun control.  And then they promptly take it to the gun nuts in Congress who are afraid to oppose the NRA.  Pathetic! 

Geo. Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin

If you are a Bill Cosby fan, or even if you aren't, this is a must-see video on his view of gun control below:

And something that could become a national public safety issue is the confusion that has been planted in the minds of police officers of whether or not to bring charges against someone like a George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin in supposed self defense.  The Sanford, Florida police did not, yet a special prosecutor brought 2nd degree murder charges against Zimmerman.  This kind of mentality could potentially release a maniac to do even more killing.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, “Most Americans support the right to use deadly force to protect themselves -- even in public places -- and have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association…”  OK, I can live with number one, confined to the home, but two and three completely baffle me considering the evidence of so many guns on the street and the shootings that take place daily.  There were 48 deaths from shootings alone in just last March. 

The poll concluded that "Americans do hold to this idea that people should be allowed to defend themselves and using deadly force is fine, in those circumstances," said pollster Chris Jackson. "In the theoretical ... there's a certain tolerance of vigilantism."  But did the poll mention to its respondents that many of these cowboys have absolutely no training in the use of firearms, like in Arizona where it isn’t required.  Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to stop Gun Violence.

I asked him the amount of training the average gun owner was required to have?  His reply: 

“If they're simply purchasing firearms, none whatsoever.  If they are  going to be carrying that gun in public, they MIGHT be required to have training.  In 28 states you can now openly carry a loaded gun in public with no permitting, screening or training.  Four states now require no permitting, screening or training to carry a concealed firearm in public.  And even in "Shall Issue" states that require one to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public, several have no training requirement.”

“According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, nearly 100,000 people are shot every year in the United States in murders, suicides, accidents or police intervention.”  A whopping 91 percent want every gun owner to have a background check, including those in the gun show loophole, a move that the NRA and its members will probably fight to the death.  A measly 6 percent were in favor of no or minimum restrictions.

There is so much mixed reaction in this poll that I recommend that some independent pollster conduct a current study to determine just how often a gun-carrier has been successful in stopping an individual confrontation or has been instrumental in assisting someone in need.  The NRA crusades for guns for everyone everywhere in the name of protection and self defense.  It is time that we know just how effective this is, particularly re. carrying of concealed weapons.

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