Guns Need to Go

American culture has a disgusting and harmful love affair with guns, and once again the news is flooded with reports of not one, but two shootings less than a day apart from each other.  One took the life of a young girl just beginning an amazing career in music, the other took the lives of 50 innocent people on their own paths, injuring over 50 more.  

Of course we have the usual; outpourings of support from various places, calls for prayer, etc… Which are all well and good, but it’s sad that we even have a usual when it comes to shootings.  What sickens me though (besides the shootings themselves of course) are government officials who have voted time and time again, against common-sense gun regulations who still chime in with their “condolences” and calls for a “moment of silence”, as if they care even a bit.  As others have stated, the blood of the victims is on their hands, just as much as those of the men that held the guns.  

A Huffington Post article written by Nicole Silverberg calls for those tired of gun violence to petition their Congressmen and women to fight for tougher gun regulations, but I disagree.  My views line up more with another Huffington Post article written by Anjali Sareen.  Guns need to go!  Of course whenever anyone says something like that, you get the typical arguments from people who would rather cling to their weapons than see an end to large numbers of innocent people being slaughtered in cold blood in an instant.  Arguments such as:

  • Guns don’t kill people! People kill people!: Which of course is just a load of crap, plain and simple.  A gun’s sole purpose is to kill things.  Sure, some are used for hunting, but handguns and assault rifles are designed specifically to kill people in the most quick and efficient way possible, and as we’ve seen too many times to count, they are serving that purpose perfectly.  Studies confirm that states with higher levels of gun ownership have higher rates of gun homicides (go figure!)   

Besides that, Conservatives who cling to their guns like security blankets, frequently argue for bans on other things that don’t actually harm people; such as gay marriage or transgender people using the public restroom of the gender they identify with.  Because those things will supposedly harm our society, right? (In case you can’t tell, I’m totally rolling my eyes right now.)   

Here’s a note to Conservative gun apologists: When you ignore the actual threat that easy access to guns poses to American lives, you lose the right to comment about the imaginary threat that LGBT people will never actually pose.  No one believes for a second that you actually give a damn about the “safety of our society.”

  • But we need guns to protect our homes!:  Really? Does having a gun in your home really make your home safer?  The answer? Not according to study, after study, after study.  In reality, those studies find that gun ownership leads to an increase in gun homicide, with no decrease in homicides committed by other weapons.  Gun ownership also leads to a marked increase in successful suicides.  Not to mention the fact that you’re more likely to accidentally shoot yourself or a loved one than you are to shoot an intruder.

But what if someone actually does break into my home!? You might ask… But even should such a rare event actually occur, it’s unlikely you’ll even use the gun.  According to an LA Times article:

More than 42% of the time, the victim took some action — maced the offender, yelled at the offender, struggled, ran away, or called the police. Victims used a gun in less than 1% of the incidents (127/14,145). In other words, actual self-defense gun use, even in our gun-rich country, is rare.”  

If a robbery or home invasion actually did occur, it’s extremely unlikely that you’d use a gun to stop the intruder, even if you have one in your home.

So let me reiterate… The “It’ll keep my home safe” argument has been effectively debunked multiple times.  In fact, according to the same LA Times article:

“Almost two-thirds of the people in the U.S. population live in homes without guns, and there is no evidence that the inhabitants of these homes are at greater risk of being robbed, injured or killed by criminals compared with citizens in homes with guns. Instead, the evidence is overwhelming that a gun in the home increases the likelihood not only that a household member will be shot accidentally, but also that someone in the home will die in a suicide or homicide.”  

  • Criminals won’t follow gun laws!: Of course they won’t! Breaking laws is what makes a criminal a criminal.  But then again… It’s not your typical criminal marching into a movie theater, a school, or a nightclub to open fire on countless innocent people.  

James Holmes, the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooter, had no known criminal record.   He bought his guns legally because they were affordable, and easily available for purchase.  He had them delivered to his home!

Syid Rizwan Farook, murderer of 14 innocent people in California, bought his guns legally.

Christopher Harper-Mercer, murderer of 9 innocent people in Oregon, bought his guns legally.  

Vest Lee-Flanagan, murderer of 2 innocent people in Virginia, purchased his guns legally.  

Dylan Roof, murderer of 9 innocent people in South Carolina, purchased his guns legally.  

Jaylen Ray Fryberg, murderer of 4 innocent people in Washington, used his father’s legally purchased gun.  

Adam Lanza, murder of 26 innocent people (a majority of them children) in Connecticut, used his mother’s arsenal of legally purchased guns.  

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murderers of 15 innocent people in Colorado, easily and affordably purchased their weapons from Mark Manes who obtained them legally.  

Time and time again we see these mass shootings on the news, and in a majority of them, the weapons were obtained easily, affordably, and legally by people with no prior criminal record.  Would these murderers have been able to purchase them on the blackmarket if guns were banned? Possibly… Possibly not… But as I’ve said; in nearly all instances, the weapons used were purchased easily, affordably, and legally.

If guns were banned and the murderers were forced to purchase them illegally on the blackmarket, at the very least they would have been much harder to obtain and they would be much more expensive; possibly even too expensive for the murderers to purchase.  (Source: New York Times: “How They Got Their Guns”)

  •  But the 2nd Amendment guarantees my right to own a gun!:  Does it though?  There are a few arguments against this.  Here is the actual text of the 2nd amendment:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

On the surface, it seems like it’s stating that Americans have the right to have guns, which it does… Sort of…  But what gun apologists ignore is the “well regulated Militia” part.  I’ll ignore the “militia” part and focus just on the phrase “well regulated.”  Inevitably, whenever you hear a gun-nut quoting the 2nd amendment they will almost always leave out the part that says “A well Regulated Militiaand jump right to the “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  Because it fits their agenda.  In reality yes, Americans are guaranteed the right to own guns, but… And this is a big one…  According to the actual amendment it is well within the boundaries of the government’s authority to regulate the hell out of them.

Based on the reading of the amendment itself (and not on some Conservatives selective interpretation of it) they could even say “sure, you can own a gun, but it can only hold one bullet, it can’t be more powerful than a pellet gun, and it has to be stored in a government facility and fitted with a tracking device.”  After all, it says you “have the right to bear arms”  but it doesn’t say that you have “the right to bear any and all the arms you want, with no limits and no regulations.”  Which is what gun apologists have turned it into.  No matter how much those apologists dislike it, REGULATION is just as much a part of the amendment as gun ownership itself.   

Occasionally you get those super gun-nuts who use the “necessary to the security of a free state” part and claim that they have to have guns in case the government tries to set up a dictatorship or something… But come on! The government has access to drones that can shoot a missile from hundreds of feet in the air, with no need to get anywhere near you, much less in range of your gun.  They have armored tanks, nuclear bombs, trained snipers.  I find it hard to believe that anyone is really dumb enough to think that their guns will be able to stop the government if they actually wanted to take over.  If they do, they’re probably not mentally fit enough to have a gun anyway.  Plus, I have to believe that our military men and women… men and women who just so happen to be our friends and family… would never agree to carry out such actions against the people they enlisted to protect (or in other words, their loved ones.)

Besides all of that… The constitution is meant to be a living document that changes with the times.  That’s why the founding fathers wrote in a process to amend it.  The 18th amendment, passed in 1920, banned alcohol.  Then, just 13 years later in 1933, the 21st amendment repealed that ban.  That’s the glory of the process that was established, and yes, even the 2nd amendment can be repealed.  

I’m not delusional enough to think that a constitutional amendment to repeal the 2nd amendment would ever pass, but it’s far passed the time to put in place bans on assault rifles, weapons that are capable of holding / firing large amounts of ammunition, and also weapons that are quickly and easily reloaded.  There are no valid reasons why a civilian needs those types of weapons… Not one… They aren’t used for sport or for hunting and they don’t protect people’s homes… They’re primary purpose is killing people. Period.

There are also no valid reasons, not even the 2nd amendment nonsense thrown around by gun-nuts, that bans such as those I’ve mentioned can’t be put in place.  

So what can I do?:  Whether you agree with Anjali Sareen and myself and believe guns should be banned, or if you agree with Nicole Silverberg and think regulations need to be more strict; if you care and you’re tired of mass shootings, you have to contact your Representatives and tell them how you feel.  Both Sareen and Silverberg provide good sources for finding your representatives, finding out their views on the issues, and also ways to contact them:

Find out who represents your state and how to contact them here:

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/cgi-bin/newseek.cgi

Find out your representatives views on the issues here:

http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm

If you’re not tired of seeing these horrors and you make pathetic excuses about gun ownership, then you’re heartless and I have no patience for you.

No more Orlandos…  No more San Bernardinos…  No more Auroras…  No more Newtowns…  No more…

Guns need to go!

Enough is Enough!
James Garcia: June 13, 2016

Still Proud

To those people that would carry / have carried out violence against the LGBT community I have this to say:

Chances are good that if your religion teaches you to hate other people, so much that you’d murder them in cold blood, simply because they’re a little different than you, then the problem is with your religion, not the other people.  

If your “god” tells you to hate people simply because they love a little differently than you, then you don’t worship a god at all, you worship a monster.  No all-intelligent being, supposedly capable of creating the universe we live in, would ever sanction the kind of atrocity that happened in Orlando today.   

Your actions, and the actions of those like you, only make me more proud of who I am. They make me more proud to be a part of the LGBT community. You see, the LGBT community, in spite of petty government employees refusing them marriage licenses, in spite of hateful business owners refusing to sell them cakes, in spite of discriminatory “religious freedom” bills, in spite of ridiculous bathroom laws that seek to dehumanize them, and yes, even in spite of all the physical violence that has been carried out against them, they keep on fighting.  Why?  Because the LGBT community is built up of people from all different races, religions, cultures, and backgrounds. It’s built up of people that are brave, caring, and accepting; while you and those like you, are nothing more than sick, pathetic, cowards.  You’ll never win.  In fact… You’ve already lost.
#StillProud #Pride2016 #Orlando

 

James Garcia:  June 12, 2016

Disenfranchised… Disenchanted… Disgusted…

Angry… Upset… Saddened… Fearful about our country’s future…  Absolutely disgusted…

These are just a few ways to describe how I’m feeling after the remaining primary elections.   Bernie Sanders fought a great fight, he packed arenas around the nation, he mobilized young and Independent voters like no one before… But let’s get real here. The Democratic nominee was decided long before the Primary even began.  The Democratic establishment had Hillary Clinton crowned since President Obama was chosen the last time and they’ve been running this faux-election that way ever since.  It didn’t matter who ran against her… it could have been Elizabeth Warren… and it didn’t matter how many Independents or how many votes her opponent won; Hillary was going to be the nominee no matter what.

Under that premise, Hillary and the DNC that she bought, played the game in the most underhanded way possible to ensure there wouldn’t be another “upset” like there was in 2008.  They’ve used voter fraud, they’ve disrespected and disenfranchised Independent voters, they’ve used ad-hominem attacks like calling Bernie supporters sexist and misogynistic for not supporting her and spinning false claims of violence, they’ve used an unscrupulous, easily bought media to slander and downplay Bernie’s movement while praising Hillary and downplaying her corruption every chance they got, and they’ve continuously added Superdelegates to the counts all along (even though they don’t vote until the end of July) to make it seem like any real challenger didn’t stand a chance.  The reality though, is that after the first week or so of the contest, everyone expected it from Hillary and the DNC.  As we seen with her contest against Obama, she fights dirty, morality be damned, and everyone knew it.  Do I like it? Of course not…

Since the Supreme Court ruled on the disastrous Citizens United case, Democrats have railed against it, and rightfully so. Yet the second it benefited their establishment candidate Wall Street and Super Pac money was perfectly fine, even though they had a truly Progressive candidate promising to fight the fight they’ve claimed to want.  

Democrats have stated they want to break up the “Big Banks” since they crashed our economy, yet they ignore the fact that their chosen candidate has taken millions in “donations” from those banks for private speeches, pretending that there is no conflict of interest, pretending like it won’t affect her decision making process.  All the while a candidate promising to get money out of politics, like Democrats claimed to want, was ignored and insulted by them.

Universal Health Care has been a token Progressive wish for almost as long as the Progressive party has existed, but because their candidate doesn’t want to fight for it suddenly it’s a “pie in the sky” dream that’s “not possible”, even though a perfectly good Progressive candidate has been saying he’d fight for it with everything he’s got.

Free / affordable college tuition? Raising the minimum wage to $15?  Strengthening Labor Unions? Expanding Social Security? Ending the use of fracking (which Hillary doesn’t seem to have any issue with)? The list goes on and on… All of these things are foundational Progressive causes that Hillary and the DNC are now claiming aren’t big deals or are impossible to achieve (they wouldn’t want to make their donors angry after all!)

So to me, the Democratic party has proven, without a doubt, that they are an establishment party just as much as the Republicans and that they will go where “Big Money” tells them to go.  To Hell with struggling poor and middle class Americans.  I don’t like it, but as I said, it’s expected.  The thing that really makes me sick though, is that we had a truly Progressive candidate in the running, and supposed “Progressives” picked the Neo-Liberal, nearly Republican candidate as their nominee, all with a smug, self-centered, arrogant attitude (for the most part… There are exceptions of course).  If anything, the Democrats have shown me that they are nothing more than sham-Progressives with claimed values that are all a lie.  They had a chance to really push Progressive values forward with this Primary and instead they turned a blind eye and did what they were told to do by the Oligarchy.   They bought the lie that their candidate cares about Progressive causes and turned their backs on a real Progressive who has been fighting for Progressive causes his entire career, not just when it became politically expedient to do so.    

So what will I do now?  

First off, I’m changing my party affiliation to either Independent or No-Party-Preference.  Going forward, after this year’s presidential election, I will no longer support a party who only claims to be Progressive.  I will try and get involved in as many Progressive causes as I can feasibly get involved in, and I will vote for truly Progressive candidates regardless of party affiliation, and I urge all true Progressives who are pissed off with this Primary election to do the same.   

Secondly, for this election, which has so much on the line, I will most likely bite the horrible bullet and vote for Hillary in the general (supposing Bernie doesn’t run as an Independent…), regardless of how sick to my stomach it makes me.  Some will say I’m just solidifying the establishment stranglehold on our democracy by voting for Hillary and ask why I would vote for her if I feel the way that I do, and the answer is simply “Supreme Court Nominees.”  In my view, the next four to eight years (hopefully only four) will be a disaster either way… We will most likely be stuck in more long, drawn out wars regardless of whether Trump or Hillary wins, because they are both unapologetic warhawks (although there is a big chance Trump just puts on a show for his voter base… Here’s hoping…)  But at the very least, with Hillary, we won’t lose any Progressive gains that have been made.  In all probability, with a Hillary presidency, things will likely just stay the same.  She is establishment by the very definition after all.  She doesn’t want things to change.  LGBT rights won’t be rolled back, environmental protections won’t be dismantled (except for the fracking issue of course…) we won’t see millions of Latino families broken apart, she might even fight to close the gender pay gap,  and she most likely won’t nominate Conservatives to the Supreme Court (of course we might get moderates like Merrick Garland, which is still far better than any truly Conservative nominees…)  That is the most important thing in my view.

Progressive Supreme Court nominees are the only silver lining I can see to a Hillary Presidency, but I honestly hope I’m wrong.  As for a Trump presidency, there are absolutely no positives. Not even one.  

So it once again boils down to voting for the “lesser of two evils.”  It comes down to considering which candidate will turn my stomach the least, and in all honesty, I can never… Ever… See myself voting for a blatantly homophobic, misogynistic, greedy, racist, fraud.  At least Hillary will pretend to be Progressive. Heck, maybe we’ll even get lucky and some minor Progressive gains will be made.  At this point all I can hope for is that we won’t lose any ground with Hillary Clinton, and that if we do, America will finally wake up and realize that establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton don’t care about the American people; that they are in it for their own power, their own wealth, and nothing more.

Here’s hoping this nomination is just the dying gasp of the establishment and that the Political Revolution Bernie Sanders started will just be the beginning of a real Progressive movement that will sweep future elections.  For better or worse, it looks like we’re going to find out.

 
James Garcia 6/8/2016