Archive - Dec 19, 2012

Date

An Open Letter to State Rep. Themis Klarides Concerning Gun Control

Rep. Klarides,

I don't recall the issue of gun control having come up during our debates in the last election cycle. There were many other issues that seemed much more important at the time, but with the recent shootings in Sandy Hook, I feel it is important for us to talk about this issue.

My father is a member of the NRA. I grew up shooting guns. My father was a black powder enthusiast. He had beautiful hand made black powder pistols. We made our own bullets and laboriously loaded the pistols. We would shoot in our backyard at tin cans not that far from where we stood. Most of these black powder pistols don't have great accuracy. These were the sort of arms that our founding fathers were acquainted with. Yet even with this, my father had a special license to purchase black powder.

We've come a long way since those days, and today's 'modern sporting rifles' are capable of firing hundreds of shots per minute from large magazine clips with considerable accuracy. These weapons are being used too often against our own people and we need to find better ways to control this.

My friends and relatives were among first responders who have had to deal with the horror in Sandy Hook. Others have lost loved ones, and many of my coworkers are helping people cope with the trauma. We need to make the most dangerous guns and their high capacity magazine clips harder for criminals to obtain.

Some will say that criminals will always have access to guns and making guns illegal will not prevent criminals from using them. To a certain extent this is true. However, thieves also break into locked houses, but that does not prevent people from locking their doors. We are unlikely to completely prevent criminals from getting guns, but we can, and should, make it harder for them.

Others point out to Israel as a country that allows gun ownership without having the same sort of gun violence that the United States has. However, I don't think the United States is ready for gun control on the level that Israel has.

Nonetheless, we do need better gun control, like was proposed in Sen. Gary LeBeau's bill SB-1094 in 2011 which would have prohibited the possession of certain ammunition feeding devices that accept more than ten rounds which did not make it out of the Judiciary Committee which you serve on.

In addition, I strongly encourage you to resign from the American Legislative Exchange Council and their Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which has pushed model legislation, like "Stand Your Ground" and the "Gun Owners' Privacy and Access to Health Care Act".

For our families, friends and neighbors, for those who are first responders, friends of victims, and who care for the traumatized, I urge you to take a strong stance in strengthening gun control in our state and to resign from the American Legislative Exchange Council.

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Sandy Hook Zettel

It has been a long week, with lots of thoughts, feelings, and ideas waiting to be written down. Many should be blog posts of their own, but I just don't have time, so I'm writing Sandy Hook Zettel. I take the word Zettel from Ludwig Wittengenstien.

Last night, I had another dream about being lost. This time, I was in visiting China, I think it was. I couldn't find my password, or any guidebooks. I set out from my hotel to explore and soon was lost. It was all the more difficult because I didn't speak Chinese. Eventually, I ended up on an elevated train platform with some Christian Bible Study group, with whom I could establish rudimentary communications.

I woke up, and the chant from Sunday's litany at Church went through my mind, "Oh Lord, hear my prayer…"

Last Thursday, I got home from work to find a "Dammit Doll" that had been sent to me. It came from a blogging friend that lives near Sandy Hook. She wanted me to review it on my blog. I had to rescue it from the dog who thought it was a chew toy for him. I brought it to work to show my co-workers and I've thought about Dammit Doll on the bar as a response to Elf on a Shelf.

In the evening, I sat up and watched the Geminids. I think I managed to get a picture of one. I need to get it off the camera and post it.

At work, I read the first reports of the shooting at Sandy Hook. As the horror started to become apparent, I wrote this:

"It's the most wonderful time of the year" blares from the loudspeaker outside my office. On my computer screen is a picture of some old guy with a vest, ten gallon hat and grey mustache with the caption, "You actually think that criminals will obey gun control laws? You're a special kind of stupid, aren't you?"

I had been thinking of posting a response, something to the effect, that even though burglars break into houses with locked doors, I still lock my doors in an effort to prevent crime.

I've been getting into lots of discussions about gun control and mental health online. Gun advocates have argued for arming more people, and suggested that we should follow Israel's gun control laws, but as I read things, Israel appears to have very strict gun control laws.

I've always been opposed to regulation of video games. On the other hand, most of the video games I've played have been pretty benign. I have played some first person shooter games, and didn't really like the way I felt afterwards. I have been focused on my media diet and these days watch almost no television. I even avoid good science fiction that has too much violence in it for me.

One meme that has been getting a lot of play online has been Mr. Rogers' "Look for the helpers". I think that is a great meme and one that I'm interested in expending. Be a helper. Spread the word about helpers.

On Saturday, I stopped at the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Department for Santa's Visit. I spoke with Santa. He was very sad. He said his heart wasn't into it and he couldn't be jolly. He wanted to cancel, but his wife reminded him of the children that were counting on him. It felt like it came right out of a 1960's Hallmark Holiday Special. The Children were asking that Santa do something special for the children of Newtown. We talked about the first responders. Then ones in Sandy Hook need special prayers.

I work with some great helpers. Yet they are struggling too. Half the building I work in was out sick yesterday. Mostly respiratory illnesses. I don't think they were somatic, but I do believe that everyone is so run down that colds can easily spread. Take care of yourself.

Dicks' sporting goods is changing its policies on the guns it sells. A hedge fund is divesting its investment in the manufacturer of the gun used in the shooting. Both seem to be small positive steps. The question remains, is the NRA the association of regular moms and dads that happen to like guns, or are they the association of the gun sellers, people whipping up fear to sell their drug of choice.

And now, we are approaching the Mayan Apocalypse. It will start with a moment of silence for the victim of the shooting. The NRA will hold a press conference, and it is the longest night of the year. In Middletown, there will be a memorial service for homeless people that have died.

The next day, there will be a re-birthday party at the Buttonwood Tree. This fits nicely with the old story of what the caterpillar views as the end of the world, the butterfly sees as the beginning, and I believe it is closer to Mayan thought about human kind not coming to an end, but taking a quantum leap. Let us pray that it will be a leap to greater compassion.

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