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Friday, December 21, 2012

"...and it brings us to tonight's..."

            I just watched the CEO of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, make his address to the nation.  After a week of heart wrenching coverage of a most heinous act, there was much speculation of what the NRA statement would be.  He was very careful in his choice of words.  Now, I don’t agree with everything he said, nor I did not find everything he said to be outlandish or insulting to the families or victims of this tragedy.  What I was more concerned with was the coverage afterwards.  Let me start by saying, I am pretty liberal.  I have some conservative notions, but on the whole, I live a very liberal life and I don’t like to assign arbitrary rules to ever changing and evolving situations.  There may always be new solutions to the same problem.  With that said, it will be tough to appear objective, but (excuse the wordplay) that is the objective.  I think it is fairly understood that FOX “news” is biased and often lives in a world of fantasy.  Many people accuse MSNBC of the same infractions, just for the other side.  Now, I do think there is some truth to that, but on the whole, I believe they are trying to discuss issues and not attempt to enforce a personal paradigm.  That is, until the coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  It feels like much of the rhetoric and talking points are on the arbitrary rules and definitions that, I believe, will not make much of a difference at all.  Instead of solutions, it is a level of semantics that assumes what the audience wants to hear, and the bounds of the argument are made on those assumptions.  The only one that has merit, and has not been given its rightful shot, is the care we give to the mentally ill, but we’ll come back to that one. 
            Most of the back and forth is about the varying definitions of what is an “Assault Weapon”.  There’s talk of military style, high capacity clips, flash suppressors, and a whole range of rifle accessories in an attempt to do something.  Now, many people have been fighting this battle for years and decades even, and I don’t want to get caught up in a personal preference argument.  I just want to deal with logistics for the moment.  I personally don’t believe that any future regulations will vastly differentiate consumers’ guns with those of the military or law enforcement.  Ultimately, that is the heart of the second amendment.  It does not exist so anyone can own whatever crazy weapon they choose to own.  It exists to make sure there is no huge separation between a potentially oppressive government and the militias that people in the community must be forced to build.  So, I don’t see a gun ban getting to that point.  The next elective on the table is the High Capacity Magazines.  Right now, there are standard magazines that hold up to 30 rounds and others that can hold 100.  In California, for instance, the state max is 10.  But when we are talking about a civilian community where there is no equal opposition, like the case in Newtown, the time a person would need to change 10 round magazines would be negligible.  We’re talking a 2 second delay.  However, in a warzone or a shoot out with police (like the ones that happen in California) that 2 seconds may make a difference in the apprehension or suppression of said madman.  But in the case that is being discussed at great length, it would have made no difference.  It is talking points like this one that confuse and muddle the argument.  There is so much time spent talking about these minute details and not enough weight given to actual solutions. 
            Going back, one of those solutions is how we as a society deal with our fellow human beings, more specifically the mentally ill.  There are children growing up in communities all over America with no access to proper care.  These children have the potential to grow up and become one of these deranged adults that we all look at after a tragedy like this and say, “if we had only…”  But here we are living in a country that cannot make decisions.  For the past two years, we have watched our government argue over spending money on our people or giving tax cuts to the rich.  My entire life has been filled with the observation that schools, local governments, public institutions, medical facilities, police and fire departments have all had shrinking budgets every year.  Each organization has to do more with less.  This is something we are all watching happen.  We are not funding any of the institutions adequately enough to do their jobs.  And when each of these does their job well, America can grow stronger and better and more efficient.  But that is not what is happening.  Each of them is struggling just to get by.  Much of the work is swept under the cracks despite all the hard work and dedication by the people involved.  Since the Republicans at the moment do not want to spend any money on the people of America (how ever it may be defined), where do we as a country think it’s going to come from? 
            So the CEO of the NRA gives his speech and the people at MSNBC react like FOX “news” does when creating their narrative.  There were several things that Wayne LaPierre stated in his address.  One was the fact that we do protect our money, our investments, and other things we deem to have value, with armed guards.  I am not suggesting we arm the teachers or even fill schools with firearms.  But that is an interesting point.  He was talking about trained professionals.  My only question would be, do we fund those professionals from the underfunded police departments or the underfunded schools?  Because, after watching this congress for so long, it is clear we are not going to fund either of those institutions any more than they have.  In all likelihood, we will probably cut funding in future years.  Another was a suggestion about violent video games, a subject that I have done a lot of work on and will have to address that at a later date.  In short, the entertainment that kids are exposed to is a product of their household.  If the mind in question is not stable enough for such exposure, I believe it is the parents’ responsibility to monitor such activities.  If it becomes a serious concern for that individual and/or beyond the capacity of his parents, I again fall back on the lack concern for social workers and mental facilities and education in our society.  Sometimes people need help and it’s just that simple.  Unfortunately, MSNBC heard him say we should “arm the teachers”.  I have heard that argument on the 24-hour news cycles for days now, but Mr. LaPierre did not mention that at all.  The News coverage from the left seemed to work in their talking point just as easily and as falsely as FOX does with it’s regular programming.  This was concerning, due to the fact that we all do want a solution to this menacing problem and rhetoric like that is more aimed at a high horse rather than a solution. 
            After all that, I began to wonder why the NRA is affiliated so much with the right wing.  It seems the NRA should be a huge Democratic sponsor.  It seems that they are invested in the same interests.  For the last two years, the Republican Party has been fighting in every way possible to cut social programs to preserve the tax rate for the super rich.  History has shown that the right wing is willing and consistently chooses to cut the budget for the Department of Education to supplement any other program, many of which do not need that extra money.  So why isn’t the NRA supporting Democratic initiatives to raise the taxes and preserve our spending on institutions?  They should be doing one better and proposing even more spending for the future well being of our country.  They have been billed as the most powerful lobby organization in the country.  There is no actual threat of the second amendment disappearing, yet rhetoric from Wayne LaPierre, himself accuses high ranking members of this administration as “trying to destroy the Second Amendment”.  Much of that debate just boils down to fear, ego, and assumptions.  More to the point it has to do with protecting people’s interests, i.e. Money.  Guns and the gun lobby business are quite lucrative, and to paraphrase LaPierre’s speech, shouldn’t we protect our children like we protect our money?  The first step to protecting our children, unfortunately, is a long road.  I know we all want answers now and to fix things now, but much like the rest of our country, it is an investment.  It is an investment that we never have to cash in.  It grows and matures and manifests its return as a better, more productive society.  It is a prescription that we must fill regularly in anticipation of the future.  We have to decide as a country if we are going to continue to spend ridiculous sums on war and never devote a fraction of that to our children’s futures.  We have to decide if we are going to teach fact or what’s popular. The children of the future are an investment, one that must come from somewhere.  And if we aren’t willing to sacrifice the profits from our businesses, we must be willing to sacrifice our children. 
“…And that’s the Word”

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