Ending the Violence

June 16, 2016

Every time there’s a mass shooting, our government leaders renew the debate over gun control… ignoring the fact that in most cases, additional control of the legal sale of firearms would not have changed the outcome one iota.

The Sandy Hook killings were done using the weapons of a family member. The guns were purchased legally. The Orlando murders were committed by a person who should not have been allowed to buy guns, but was. The existing gun laws were not to blame – the FBI’s process was.

If the government can place a person on the “No Fly List” without due process, they should have been able to do the same when it came to buying guns. If nothing else, there should have been a ‘flag’ to let the FBI know the man had purchased weapons. Had a simple system like that been in place, they could have increased their surveillance and, hopefully, stopped him before he killed even one person.

The debate will go on while the more serious issues continue to be ignored.

Why is there a murder every two hours in the city of Chicago? Why do our government officials ignore that fact. Do those thousands of lives lost every year count less that the 49 killed in one night in Orlando? For that matter, was anyone else murdered in Orlando that night? Did that person’s life not mean anything because he or she died alone?

The way I see it, murder is the result of a number of factors. The simplest one is rage – in all too many cases, rage directed at a family member or a close friend.

Then we have the ‘gang’ related; in many cases caused by ‘turf wars’ in the dealing of illegal drugs. These are the cases where one, two, or three people are killed at a time.

My solution for the gang related mayhem is to legalize drugs. Let government sanctioned outlets sell them so that the purity of the product can be more closely controlled and the tax revenues can be used to treat the addicts. Taking the drug dealers off the streets and out of the prison system will save lots of money and lives.

As for family members killing each other, take away the guns and they’ll use knives or baseball bats. It has happened where a couple closing in on divorce settled the issue when one or the other was accidentally pushed off a cliff or assisted in drowning. In other words, rage is difficult to prevent, although if the rage is a result of mental illness, there is hope.

My first job after college was at a mental hospital for children. It was part of a network in Western Pennsylvania. Within a twenty-five mile radius, there were at least two asylums for adults to go along with the one I worked at. Many of our ‘inmates’ graduated to the adult facilities.

And then came along two factors that totally changed everything. One was President Reagan and his cut-backs. Federal funding for mental institutions dried up at the same time the A.C.L.U. convinced a judge that mentally incompetent people should not be held against their will. Brilliant! Very few crazy people readily admit they need help. One of the biggest problems with mentally ill patients is to have them continue to take the medication to control their behavior.

Thus, we have people who were once safely cared for in mental hospitals (and forget the Hollywood nonsense that says those hospitals were all horror stories) now walking the streets forgetting to take their medicine. Since our government sees no danger, they are permitted to buy fire arms and, when the voice in their heads tell them to go into a movie theater and shoot those enemies of Bat Man, we have another mass murder that could have been prevented. How many times did a psychiatrist think there might be such a possibility, but said nothing due to another Federal law called HIPAA.

So, there are my solutions to two of the root causes of murder; legalize drugs, and get mentally ill people the treatment and care they so desperately need.

And that brings us to the biggest problem we face today – terrorism. We have huge segments of the world population who hate us… thanks to the propaganda distributed by many of the people we (our government) consider to be our friends. These same people, in many cases, are the ones we give millions, if not billions of dollars in foreign aid every year.

We do everything we can in this country to encourage freedom of religion, but some religions use that freedom against us.

In fairness, Christian ministers encouraged people to join the crusades a thousand or so years ago. So, I can’t blame religious leaders in the Middle East for returning the favor (they carry grudges for thousands of years in that part of the world.) What gripes me is the leaders in churches in the U.S. encouraging young folks to either go to the Middle East to help the effort there, or simply buy guns and bomb making materials and do as much damage as possible here at home.

Sadly, there is no easy solution for this problem… any more than there was an easy solution for dealing with Hitler and the Nazis. The free world must come together to stop the terrorist groups. We need to be a part of that effort.

There is a very old adage that says “Those who ignore the past are destined to repeat it.” Our current leaders decided that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were over and our troops needed to be brought home. Those leaders ignored the fact that we still have troops in Germany and Japan. Lasting peace doesn’t happen overnight. It took decades for the peoples of Germany and Japan to realize we were there only to keep the peace – nothing more, nothing less. Any remnants of the groups that did not like losing World War II eventually were won over to the improvements brought about through peace.

We cannot force any nation to become a democratic republic such as ours, but we can help them peacefully establish governments that work for them.

 

 

 

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Stranger Than Fiction

May 21, 2009

I couldn’t come up with an idea to write about today. So I went to my old stand-by – the History Channel’s website – to see what significant events have occurred on May 21st. Here is what I learned about this day in history.

In 1901, Connecticut became the first state to enact a speed limit for horseless carriages. It stated that the speed of all motor vehicles should not exceed twelve miles per hour on country highways and eight miles per hour within city limits. I’m guessing that the ‘highways’ of the time were not as nicely paved as they are today. Thus, twelve miles per hour may well have been seen as ‘breakneck’ speed.

While setting a speed limit doesn’t seem all that strange, one has to wonder why twelve M.P.H. and eight M.P.H. were chosen as the upper limits. One also has to wonder how those speeds were measured by the state troopers and local police. If I’m not mistaken, radar had not yet been invented. For that matter, how many of the motor vehicles were equipped with speedometers?

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An even stranger event took place on May 21, 1924. That’s when fourteen-year-old Bobbie Franks was abducted from a Chicago street and murdered by Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The killers were extremely wealthy and intelligent teenagers; their sole motive for killing Franks was the desire to commit the “perfect crime.”

The two young men had both graduated from college while still in their teens, but their high IQs didn’t stop them from making several mistakes that allowed the police to determine their guilt.

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In 1992, Amy Fisher, the so-called “Long Island Lolita,” was arrested for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Fisher, only seventeen at the time of the shooting, was having an affair with Mary Jo’s husband, thirty-eight-year-old Joey Buttafuoco.

Mary Jo survived the attack but was left with a bullet lodged in her head and a partially paralyzed face. Fisher pleaded guilty to the shooting and was convicted of assault. She received a sentence of 5 to 15 years the following year.

Mary Jo seemed to think her husband was blameless in the affair. The courts felt differently and Joey was convicted of statutory rape. He received a six-month jail sentence.

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In 1996, seventy-six-year-old Richard Keech shot his son-in-law, Nicholas Candy, to death outside his Long Beach, California, home. Candy was in the midst of a divorce and custody battle with Keech’s daughter Nancy and had arrived to pick up his son.

After the first shot, Candy staggered down the street yelling, “Help me, help me,” Keech shot four additional bullets in his back. Candy died on a neighbor’s lawn.

The case captured national attention because Keech had a highly unusual defense. He claimed his actions were due to post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by being a prisoner of war during World War II.

The defense portrayed Candy as a man with a bad temper who began a reign of terror against the family. In December 1995, as the arguments over the son, Martin, intensified, Keech purchased a gun, which he later said was for protection against Candy.

On the day of the murder, Candy was informed by Keech that he couldn’t take Martin because the child was running a fever. He and Keech then got into a shouting match. After Keech shot Candy to death, he purportedly told a neighbor, “It’s over. He won’t be bothering anyone anymore.”

According to his defense, Keech fired the first shot in order to defend himself from Candy’s attack. The four subsequent shots were allegedly the result of a flashback. Keech testified that while he was shooting Candy, he thought he was back in the Japanese prisoner camps and was about to be beaten to death for hurting a guard.

The jury didn’t buy Keech’s defense; he was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997.

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And now, for what I see as the most bizarre thing to occur on this date. In 2000, the bones of President James Garfield’s spine were displayed for the last time as part of the “Out of the Blue Closets” exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C.

The display featuring President Garfield’s spinal column showed exactly where one out of two assassin’s bullets had passed through it on July 2, 1881. Garfield succumbed to complications from his wounds 80 days after being shot.

Garfield’s spine is not the only presidential body part to have been an item of interest at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The museum also owns some of Lincoln’s skull fragments and President Eisenhower’s gallstones. A museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, keeps a tumor removed from President Grover Cleveland. John F. Kennedy’s brain, which was removed during his autopsy after his assassination in 1963, “disappeared” and has never been found.

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I have been told that the altar of every Roman Catholic Church has a ‘relic’ embedded in it. When I asked what sorts of relics were used, I was told, “bones from saints.”

Based on the things they do with saints and dead presidents, I think I’ll try to avoid becoming either one. If you don’t mind, I’ll continue to be a sinner and worry about forgiveness when I get ‘there’.