Friday, October 16, 2015

The Second

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

Above paragraph is from Wikipedia.

I am not a firearms person. Yes, I have shot guns. No, I do not own them. We have a situation in this country. It is guns. We are the most heavily armed nation in the world not including our military. We also have one of the highest, if not the highest murder rate in the world, civilized or not, and I use the term civilized loosely. These are the facts, not an opinion.

So here's my question. What the hell do we need all these guns for? I hear the argument, protection. Okay, protection from what? What are truly the odds that someone is going to barge into your home? Who are you trying to protect yourself from? If you are that afraid, are you wearing your weapons 24/7 inside your home? Why not? In most areas of America, the average person could walk outside their home at any hour of the day or night, look up and down the street and not see a place where there was a crime committed, likely in more than a year. So I ask again, protection from what?

If you want to have a gun for protection, go ahead. Does anyone in this country need a so-called assault rifle? Do you expect to be holding off the Russians or the British? How about the Iranians? Any group out there roaming around your neighborhood? Not likely. How about a random person? Okay, that's a possibility. The Second Amendment gives the authority of the government to regulate those firearms. It's time they do so.

There is no need for the citizenry to possess any type of weapon that is military or para-military grade. If you want to own a pistol, rifle, shotgun, that's fine. Automatic weapons have no place in this country. The cry of if I give up my gun only the criminals will have guns is not a valid argument. Let the police handle the criminals. Most people that come into harms way from criminals are there because they choose to be. They have put themselves in a situation they shouldn't be. Sure, there are neighborhoods where violence is a fact of life. This isn't a perfect society. There isn't one and never will be one.

The spate of school and public shootings in recent years points to how this is a failed system. In the past, killers were secretive. Few that I can remember in my lifetime before the recent decade put themselves out there for public consumption. Why the change? Society and how we communicate has changed. It is a look at me society from the news cycle to the phone in your pocket. We can no longer permit anyone to have their fifteen minutes of fame for this type of crime, a crime caused by weapons no citizen needs to possess.

Do we need more regulation? Probably not much. Likely all we need to do is enforce the laws already on the books. Is the system bogged down? Sure, but issuing a permit and weapon to someone because four days is too long for the system to work properly is turning a blind eye to the problem. If the person is not properly vetted, they don't get the weapon, period. Background checks need to be finished, not stalled.

We have a problem in this country and the status quo is no longer acceptable. As is often quoted, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. We can no longer wait for a different result. Do I have all the answers? No, I don't. But it's time for those who govern this country to pull up their bootstraps and face the situation. It's time our leaders stare down the barrel and do what needs to be done.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Take away the picture ...

... and what do you get?

As a writer, one needs a support group of sorts to gather information, learn about trends in the writing world and find out what works for other authors. Who better to gather this info from than other authors?

From that, as I have mentioned a time or two before, I am a member of an online writing group. But what are we really? As I was thinking about them the other day, it occurred to me how different and far-flung this group is.

If you took each of the author's self photos off, all you would have is a group of names. What can you distinguish just from that? Not much really. One can tell gender mostly, but not much other than that. Even if you think, 'that is an Irish, or German, or Russian name', that means nothing. Any of those names could fall anywhere within the United States or anywhere across the globe. We are a mobile society.

As it is the group numbers near ninety members. We range in age from early twenties to those in their seventies (perhaps older). We are men, women, sexually straight, gay and bi-oriented. We are truly a global collection as we live in places as diverse as Japan, Ireland, Spain, France, South Africa, Mexico and many others. We have names that would be recognized in the public outside of the group, and others few would recognize. The one thing we have in common is the writing and publishing world.

So what does that mean? What it means to me is we can learn from each other no matter what our background or nationality. We are a couple years old as an 'organization' and I have learned a tremendous amount from being associated with them. I do not place any of the members in a preconceived pocket. I don't read a comment and say, oh, that's from one of the gay guys, or the Canadian, or the Texan (of course there are a lot of Texans in the group. Maybe they just need more help than the rest of us).

If you were to put all of us in a room, I think it would be a magical place. We've grown to know each other because we share a love of writing, of authorship, of striving to become successful in the same vein. We celebrate each others success. No one disparages another because they are more successful. We are different yet we all share a common bond.

Unfortunately too many in the real world close themselves off from others because they are different from themselves. When that's the case, they have failed in the world at large. It's time to look for what brings us together instead of the differences we have. If all you can do is label, you will never be able to open the door. I challenge everyone who reads this to open the door to the world. I think you'll be surprised at what you'll find.