Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Gun Control? What about Blog Control!

Second Amendment? Yes. Gun Anarchy? No.
But How About A Blog Amendment?

What we really need is Blog Control. This national scourge is evidenced by the following confessions:
"Even though I have been married for over 40 years to the least critical man you can imagine who wouldn't care if I spent 15 hours a day blogging, I try to hide the fact that I spend so much time at the computer. ...When I hear the garage door going up, I get up from the computer and go to meet him from a different room of the house to look as if I have been washing clothes or dishes or someother useful chore. Anybody observing this guilty-looking ritual would assume I had been surfing porn sites or something instead of reading and/or writing blogs..."
- from Daddy's Roses

Blogging! I don't have time to blog. I am not doing other things I need to be doing and blogging instead. I wasn't gonna blog, but my sister said, 'Start a blog.' and I did and now I can't stop.
- from Blue Star Chronicles

Every morning I tell myself that I will spend only a few minutes checking email and blogging and then I'll get dressed and started on whatever I need to do. Almost invariably, those few minutes stretch to unbelievably long amounts of time. On school days (I'm a teacher) I barely make it to school on time sometimes because I push my computer/blogging time to the limit.
- from The Median Sib

It sounds to me as if my sisters and I need to organize Bloggers Anonymous. "Hello, my name is Terrell and I'm a Blogger." I've got to cut down on my blog time! I've got a more-than-full-time job and I'm committed to participating in two plays in January and I have a wife and two daughters who seem to think I should spend some time doing things instead of just writing about things.

But before I reform, just a little more blogging: ;-)

The Median Sib has asked for comments on gun control. She was spurred by Blue Star Chronicles' homage to the strap-a-gun-to-your-belt-or-leave-town cowboys in Kennesaw, Georgia. These two sources say the areas of the country with stricter controls actually have greater gun violence. I'd like to see some scientific studies of how gun violence is affected by various regulations. Perhaps we live in a society that needs a more universal policy. I doubt that islands of regulation would work well. President Carter's references (below) to the relative incidence of gun deaths in America compared to other countries is very disturbing.

I've just finished reading Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter. The part of his book that deals with the issue of gun violence happens to be part of the excerpt available online, so I thought I'd let President Carter speak for me on this issue for now:
"Concerning gun control, an overwhelming majority believe in the right to own weapons, but four of five Americans prefer modest restraints on handguns, including a background check, mandatory registration, and a brief waiting period before one is purchased.

A disturbing change in government policy has involved the firearms industry. Supported by succeeding Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, legislation was passed by Congress in 1994 that for ten years prohibited the manufacture, transfer, and possession of nineteen specific semiautomatic assault weapons, including AK-47s, AR-15s, and UZIs. None of these are used for hunting -- only for killing other humans. More than eleven hundred police chiefs and sheriffs from around the nation called on Congress and President Bush to renew and strengthen the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, but with a wink from the White House, the gun lobby prevailed and the ban expired.

This is not a controversy that involves homeowners, hunters, or outdoorsmen. I have owned and used weapons since I was big enough to carry one, and now own a handgun, four shotguns, and two rifles. I use them carefully, for harvesting game from our woods and fields and during an occasional foray to hunt with my family and friends in other places. We cherish these rights, and some of my companions like to collect rare weapons.

But many of us who participate in outdoor sports are dismayed by some of the more extreme policies of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and by the timidity of public officials who yield to their unreasonable demands. Heavily influenced and supported by the firearms industry, their primary client, the NRA, has been able to mislead many gullible people into believing that our weapons are going to be taken away from us, and that homeowners will be deprived of the right to protect ourselves and our families. There are no real threats to our "right to bear arms," as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. If so, the NRA efforts would certainly be justified.

In addition to assault weapons, the gun lobby protects the ability of criminals and gang members to use ammunition that can penetrate protective clothing worn by police officers on duty, and assures that a known or suspected terrorist is not barred from buying or owning a firearm -- including an assault weapon. The only criteria that the NRA has reluctantly accepted are proof of a previous felony, mental derangement, or being an illegal immigrant. Deeply concerned when thirty-five out of forty-four men on the terrorist watch list were able to buy guns during a recent five-month period, the director of the FBI began to reexamine the existing law and asked some U.S. senators to consider amendments. The response of top officials in the NRA was to criticize the watch lists -- not the terrorists -- and to announce support for legislation that protects gun manufacturers and dealers from liability if a buyer uses an AK-47 in a terrorist attack. They also insist that background information on gun buyers be discarded within twenty-four hours, precluding the long-term retention of data that might reveal those who are plotting against our nation's security.

What are the results of this profligate ownership and use of guns designed to kill people? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American children are sixteen times more likely than children in other industrialized nations to be murdered with a gun, eleven times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from firearms accidents.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research reports that the rate of firearm homicide in the United States is nineteen times higher than that of 35 other high-income countries combined. In the most recent year for which data are available, handguns killed 334 people in Australia, 197 in Great Britain, 183 in Sweden, 83 in Japan, 54 in Ireland, 1,034 in Canada, and 30,419 in the United States. The National Rifle Association, the firearms industry, and compliant politicians should reassess their policies concerning safety and accountability."

excerpted from Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter

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