Tag Archives: guns

HOME OF THE BRAVE

By Edith Morgan

We all have an opinion about weapons: How many, what type, who should have them, where to use them, etc. Our country is awash in guns, assault weapons, and ammunition. Our movies and television programs extol weapon-wielding “heroes” who are presented to our children as the “good guys.” Many of grew up to believe that these brave heroes solve their (and our) problems by shooting the bad guys and thus making us safe. But do we actually feel safer? Do all the motion detectors, alarms, guns under pillows and in drawers, foot patrols, surveillance cameras, deadbolts, and the myriad other defensive devices really make us feel safer?  How much more “protection will we need to feel safe?

Perhaps our problem lies in our definition of “Safe.” Cowards are always afraid. Brave people much less so. The persons who will go down in history as having accomplished great things and influenced millions to do better, have stood up UNARMED , against well-armed enemies, and won. Think of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Moses, Jesus, Buddha – and numerous others like them.

Much closer to home, we all know real ”heroes and heroines” who took risks , and unarmed, convinced others to follow their better selves.

For example: her home never had a weapon in it; but when a young Nazi lieutenant came to her door in the middle  of the night to arrest her husband, she had the courage to demand to see the paperwork, and asked the name of his commanding officer. The young recruit, unaccustomed to being questioned, retreated to get the paperwork, giving the family time to get help and make plans. That same woman, on vacation in Paris, walked up to a group of young American students in the hotel lobby where she and her husband were staying, and asked them to take their feet off the glass-topped table, then proceeded to lecture them on how to behave as representatives of their mutual country, America. Back home, this remarkable lady, while on her daily walk with her husband, found their way obstructed by a group  of teenagers loitering on the corner. She marched up to the group and asked them to make way on the public sidewalk so she and her husband could pass. Miraculously, they did. That woman was my mother – who saved our family many times during the difficult days of WW II.

If we look around our neighborhood, I think we could find people who display that kind of bravery every day: parents, teachers, friends, neighbors – who stand up for what is right, armed only with the courage of their convictions, They should be the real heroes to whom we pay homage. And sometimes, we are smart enough to elect such a person to represent us – a person who speaks truth to power again and again, does not enrich himself at our expense, and bravely forges on despite the odds.

 

 

Celebrating the Prince of Peace in the Land of Guns

By Michael Moore, filmmaker

After watching the deranged, delusional National Rifle Association press conference, it was clear that the Mayan prophecy had come true. Except the only world that was ending was the NRA’s. Their bullying power to set gun policy in this country is over. The nation is repulsed by the massacre in Connecticut, and the signs are everywhere: a basketball coach at a post-game press conference; the Republican Joe Scarborough; a pawn shop owner in Florida; a gun buy-back program in New Jersey; a singing contest show on TV, and the conservative gun-owning judge who sentenced Jared Loughner.

So here’s my little bit of holiday cheer for you:

These gun massacres aren’t going to end any time soon.

I’m sorry to say this. But deep down we both know it’s true. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep pushing forward – after all, the momentum is on our side. I know all of us – including me – would love to see the president and Congress enact stronger gun laws. We need a ban on automatic AND semiautomatic weapons and magazine clips that hold more than 7 bullets. We need better background checks and more mental health services. We need to regulate the ammo, too.

But, friends, I would like to propose that while all of the above will certainly reduce gun deaths (ask Mayor Bloomberg – it is virtually impossible to buy a handgun in New York City and the result is the number of murders per year has gone from 2,200 to under 400), it won’t really bring about an end to these mass slayings and it will not address the core problem we have. Connecticut had one of the strongest gun laws in the country. That did nothing to prevent the murders of 20 small children on December 14th.

In fact, let’s be clear about Newtown: the killer had no criminal record so he would never have shown up on a background check. All of the guns he used were legally purchased. None fit the legal description of an “assault” weapon. The killer seemed to have mental problems and his mother had him seek help, but that was worthless. As for security measures, the Sandy Hook school was locked down and buttoned up BEFORE the killer showed up that morning. Drills had been held for just such an incident. A lot of good that did.

And here’s the dirty little fact none of us liberals want to discuss: The killer only ceased his slaughter when he saw that cops were swarming onto the school grounds – i.e, the men with the guns. When he saw the guns a-coming, he stopped the bloodshed and killed himself. Guns on police officers prevented another 20 or 40 or 100 deaths from happening. Guns sometimes work. (Then again, there was an armed deputy sheriff at Columbine High School the day of that massacre and he couldn’t/didn’t stop it.)

I am sorry to offer this reality check on our much-needed march toward a bunch of well-intended, necessary – but ultimately, mostly cosmetic – changes to our gun laws. The sad facts are these: Other countries that have guns (like Canada, which has 7 million guns – mostly hunting guns – in their 12 million households) have a low murder rate. Kids in Japan watch the same violent movies and kids in Australia play the same violent video games (Grand Theft Auto was created by a British company; the UK had 58 gun murders last year in a nation of 63 million people). They simply don’t kill each other at the rate that we do. Why is that? THAT is the question we should be exploring while we are banning and restricting guns: Who are we?

I’d like to try to answer that question.

We are a country whose leaders officially sanction and carry out acts of violence as a means to often an immoral end. We invade countries who didn’t attack us. We’re currently using drones in a half-dozen countries, often killing civilians.

This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to us as we are a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves. We slaughtered 600,000 of each other in a civil war. We “tamed the Wild West with a six-shooter,” and we rape and beat and kill our women without mercy and at a staggering rate: every three hours a women is murdered in the USA (half the time by an ex or a current); every three minutes a woman is raped in the USA; and every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in the USA.

We belong to an illustrious group of nations that still have the death penalty (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran). We think nothing of letting tens of thousands of our own citizens die each year because they are uninsured and thus don’t see a doctor until it’s too late.

Why do we do this? One theory is simply “because we can.” There is a level of arrogance in the otherwise friendly American spirit, conning ourselves into believing there’s something exceptional about us that separates us from all those “other” countries (there are indeed many good things about us; the same could also be said of Belgium, New Zealand, France, Germany, etc.). We think we’re #1 in everything when the truth is our students are 17th in science and 25th in math, and we’re 35th in life expectancy. We believe we have the greatest democracy but we have the lowest voting turnout of any western democracy. We’re biggest and the bestest at everything and we demand and take what we want.

And sometimes we have to be violent m*****f*****s to get it. But if one of us goes off-message and shows the utterly psychotic nature and brutal results of violence in a Newtown or an Aurora or a Virginia Tech, then we get all “sad” and “our hearts go out to the families” and presidents promise to take “meaningful action.” Well, maybe this president means it this time. He’d better. An angry mob of millions is not going to let this drop.

While we are discussing and demanding what to do, may I respectfully ask that we stop and take a look at what I believe are the three extenuating factors that may answer the question of why we Americans have more violence than most anyone else:

1. POVERTY. If there’s one thing that separates us from the rest of the developed world, it’s this. 50 million of our people live in poverty. One in five Americans goes hungry at some point during the year. The majority of those who aren’t poor are living from paycheck to paycheck. There’s no doubt this creates more crime. Middle class jobs prevent crime and violence. (If you don’t believe that, ask yourself this: If your neighbor has a job and is making $50,000/year, what are the chances he’s going to break into your home, shoot you and take your TV? Nil.)

2. FEAR/RACISM. We’re an awfully fearful country considering that, unlike most nations, we’ve never been invaded. (No, 1812 wasn’t an invasion. We started it.) Why on earth would we need 300 million guns in our homes? I get why the Russians might be a little spooked (over 20 million of them died in World War II). But what’s our excuse? Worried that the Indians from the casino may go on the warpath? Concerned that the Canadians seem to be amassing too many Tim Horton’s donut shops on both sides of the border?

No. It’s because too many white people are afraid of black people. Period. The vast majority of the guns in the U.S. are sold to white people who live in the suburbs or the country. When we fantasize about being mugged or home invaded, what’s the image of the perpetrator in our heads? Is it the freckled-face kid from down the street – or is it someone who is, if not black, at least poor?

I think it would be worth it to a) do our best to eradicate poverty and re-create the middle class we used to have, and b) stop promoting the image of the black man as the boogeyman out to hurt you. Calm down, white people, and put away your guns.

3. THE “ME” SOCIETY. I think it’s the every-man-for-himself ethos of this country that has put us in this mess and I believe it’s been our undoing. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps! You’re not my problem! This is mine!

Clearly, we are no longer our brother’s and sister’s keeper. You get sick and can’t afford the operation? Not my problem. The bank has foreclosed on your home? Not my problem. Can’t afford to go to college? Not my problem.

And yet, it all sooner or later becomes our problem, doesn’t it? Take away too many safety nets and everyone starts to feel the impact. Do you want to live in that kind of society, one where you will then have a legitimate reason to be in fear? I don’t.

I’m not saying it’s perfect anywhere else, but I have noticed, in my travels, that other civilized countries see a national benefit to taking care of each other. Free medical care, free or low-cost college, mental health help. And I wonder – why can’t we do that? I think it’s because in many other countries people see each other not as separate and alone but rather together, on the path of life, with each person existing as an integral part of the whole. And you help them when they’re in need, not punish them because they’ve had some misfortune or bad break. I have to believe one of the reasons gun murders in other countries are so rare is because there’s less of the lone wolf mentality amongst their citizens. Most are raised with a sense of connection, if not outright solidarity. And that makes it harder to kill one another.

Well, there’s some food for thought as we head home for the holidays. Don’t forget to say hi to your conservative brother-in-law for me. Even he will tell you that, if you can’t nail a deer in three shots – and claim you need a clip of 30 rounds – you’re not a hunter my friend, and you have no business owning a gun.

Trayvon Martin: Hoodies, Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea

By Parlee Jones

By now we have all heard the terrible injustice that has happened in Sanford, Florida. A 17-year-old young man named Trayvon Martin going to the store for snacks during half time of the NBA All-Star Game. Returning back to his dad’s girlfriend’s house in a gated community. Assaulted and shot by 28 year old self appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Trayvon was wearing his hoodie, this is what made Zimmerman see him as “suspicious”, the hoodie and the color of his skin. I’m not going to go into all the details, but one of the things that hit’s me hardest is the fact that Trayvon’s parents were not notified for three days, even though, the Sanford police had his cell phone.

My heart and soul weep with Trayvon’s parents, and all parents who have lost children to violence, perpetrated by whomever!

The one positive thing to take away from this terrible situation is how the WORLD COMMUNITY came together to voice their objection to Zimmerman not being arrested. How incredible to see all this support! Change.org is up to 2 and a quarter million signatures. It humbles me. It gives me hope. Hope for a brighter future.

Leaving us open for a real dialog ~ a dialog of truth.

No judgment ~ fact.

No shame ~ Acceptance.

Some people have suggested that we “teach” our kids how to react to “these types of situations”. What is the situation? Walking home from the store or walking while Black?

I feel what our children need is to know the Afrikan experience from the time we hit the shores of America. Not the text book version, which they are trying to water down even more, through curriculum renewal, but the real deal. As an old African Proverb states, “Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter”. Knowledge of self to better yourself.

Middle Passage ~ Willie Lynch ~ Jim Crow ~ Tuskegee Study ~ Labor Camps ~ Cointelpro ~ Fred Hampton ~ Emmet Till ~ Rosewood ~ Amadou Diallo ~ Rodney King ~ Abner Louima ~ Sean Bell ~ Jermaine Carter ~ Burning of Black Wall Street ~ James Anderson ~ James Byrd ~ I could go on and on!

We need to acknowledge these histories! Only then will our children know the ills that they are up against. Only then will they know how to react to the “situations” they find themselves in. Hmmm.

I stand here as a mother, sister, auntie, cousin to Black boys and Men. I stand here for the grandmothers of Black boys and men. I write this for our girl children too. You know why, because we came to these shores together in the bowels of the slave ships and have suffered through the same trials and tribulations. I am a strong believer of Sankofa ~ and adrinka symbol which means go back and fetch it ~ knowing your past to move on in the present and prepare for the future. Yes, people, it is that deep!

It’s that deep that our children must be awakened from this mental slavery.
From what they put in their minds and what they put in their bodies, we have to show them our glory and our pain. Maybe we can put it in a hip hop video. Maybe we can design a new line of clothing, but I digress!

Some friends and I are putting together a homage for Trayvon and our Boys and Men of Color. We will have living testimonies of experiences here in Worcester living as a Black man or boy. We will show a history of what has transpired since Plymouth Rock landed on us, as El Hajj Malik El Shabazz has said. We will talk about supporting our young people of color by being there to listen to and believe them. More details to follow soon!

I leave you with the words to Redemption Song by Robert Nesta Marley who pretty much sums up the experiences I refer to!

Old pirates, yes, they rob I. Sold I to the merchant ships. Minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit. But my hands were made strong, by the hands of the Almighty. We forward in this generation, triumphantly. Won’t you help to sing these songs of Freedom, for all I ever have is a Redemption Song. Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind. Have no fear for atomic energy, for none of them can stop the time. How long shall they kill our CHILDREN (prophets) while we stand aside and look? Some say it’s just a part of it, we’ve got to fulfill the book. Won’t you help to say, these songs of freedom, is all I ever had ~ Redemption Song!

These are my thoughts. No disrespect to anyone intended.

Drivers, beware: Deer-car collisions increase during hunting season

By Paula Moore

November is the peak month for collisions between cars and deer, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Insurance groups estimate that about one in every 100 drivers will be involved in a deer-vehicle collision at some point in his or her life. A fatal crash late last month in Indiana illustrates how heartbreaking such encounters can be. Seven people—including four children—were killed after their minivan hit a deer and was subsequently struck by a semi-trailer.

While hunters invariably point to such tragedies as justification for killing even more deer, the blame for deer-vehicle collisions falls at least partly on their own shoulders.

Pennsylvania-based Erie Insurance, which has analyzed deer-vehicle collision data in the state for more than a decade, found that the opening day and opening Saturday of deer hunting season are “[t]wo of the most dangerous days to drive.” According to the Missouri Insurance Information Service, increased deer activity associated with hunting is a “major factor” in the rise in deer-vehicle collisions in the last three months of the year. With more people (hunters) in the woods, deer are spooked out of wooded areas—often out onto the road.

Hunting also increases deer populations—which increases the likelihood that deer-car collisions will occur. While several studies have suggested that sterilization programs may provide an effective, long-term solution to controlling deer populations, hunting just makes the problem worse. It’s been shown, for example, that in hunted populations, does are more likely to have twins rather than single fawns and are more likely to reproduce at a younger age. Immediately following a hunt, there’s less competition for food. The surviving deer are better nourished, which can lead to a higher reproductive rate and lower neonatal mortality.

The state agencies responsible for wildlife “management” know this, of course, but they’re primarily run by hunters, who hardly have the animals’ best interests in mind. So, instead of setting up sterilization programs, they destroy the deer’s homes by clear-cutting to increase the amount of vegetation for the deer to eat—further increasing their population. Such programs help to ensure that there are plenty of animals for hunters to kill (not to mention plenty of revenue from the sale of hunting licenses).

Simple, nonlethal methods can reduce the risk of deer-vehicle collisions. A team of scientists from the University of Alberta found that simply placing warning signs in hotspots where deer are known to cross roads can reduce collisions by 34 percent. Other communities are experimenting with roadside sensors that trigger lights and whistles as cars approach to scare deer away and with laser beams that sound alarms to alert motorists to the presence of deer.

Drivers should also slow down and watch the road carefully—especially during hunting season. Scan the side of the road for wildlife and use high-beam headlights at night when there is no oncoming traffic. Also be aware that deer tend to travel in groups, so if you see one deer, slow down and watch for more. In many deer-vehicle accidents, the driver slowed down for one deer, then sped up and hit another one.

Hunters like to say that killing deer is the only way to prevent traffic collisions with them, but it’s not. When hunting season turns deer territories into a war zone, it’s no wonder that the animals panic and run—often right out onto our roadways.


Paula Moore is a senior writer for The PETA Foundation.

On the Arizona shootings

By Jack Hoffman

As soon as Jared Lee Loughner was captured, the media began its blame game: What was the motive? But as the smoke began to clear, a picture began to evolve of a madman gone wild.

The evidence so far has shown that Loughner takes on the description of a paranoid schizophrenic. Studies have shown less than 1% of paranoid schizophrenic will become violent. What we do know is that Jared Loughner listed on his own website some of his favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, Through the Looking Glass, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Communist Manifesto. David Brooks of The New York Times writes “that many of these books take on a common theme: individuals trying to control their own thoughts and governments, or some other force trying to take that control away.”

Certainly Jared’s behavior and tirades in his classroom, while brandishing the same gun used in his murderous nightmare, seem to lend lots of credence to mental instability. Behavior that many of his students, acquaintances and neighbors all knew and did nothing about. So where were the parents in all of this? Continue reading On the Arizona shootings

Crime and violence in our city

By Sue Moynagh

Recently, there has been increased gun violence in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Worcester, especially this past summer. Two shots were fired at a car on Harrison Street early in July. Soon after this, shots were fired at the Coral and Waverly Street intersection. There was a shooting on Mendon Street on August 24, and within a week, approximately six shots were fired at a house near the corner of Providence and Harrison Streets.

A woman was shot and killed on Fairfax Road.

I have also heard two gun shots on Saturday, October 9, at 10:40 p.m., and four shots the following Friday at approximately the same time. A small local market had the door window smashed and was robbed at gun point soon afterwards. Most or all of these incidents are tied in with drug activity in the area. Two long-time residents have had bullets shot through their windows.

Recently a man was attacked and hit over the head with a hammer on Mott Street. Continue reading Crime and violence in our city

The Gong Show! (aka: last night’s Worcester City Council meeting!)

By Rosalie Tirella

Last night I sat before a little TV set mesmerized – absolutely mesmerized! – by all the whackiness that was flying around the august City Council chambers. You should have been their, folks! OR: You should have at least watched last night’s Worcester City Council meeting on your TV set! You could have sliced the rancor and the nuttiness with a meat cleaver! It was “Reno 911” Worcester style! What a gas, gas, gas!!!!

Here we go: Nutty Scene #1: Sam Rosario. Rosario, a duplicitous blowhard whom everyone in Worcester thinks is a duplicitous blowhard, is representing the liveries in their quest to become taxis. Sammy is a guy who once told political opponent Joe Cassella to step out of a three-way city council primary race because he (Cassella) had no chance of winning – it was really a race between him (Rosario) and the incumbent (dope Joff Smith). That was before Cassella trounced him and then went on to run against Smith in November and do fairly well – and seemingly (thank God!) put an end to Rosario’s political aspirations. Well, last night Sammy went bonkers. Continue reading The Gong Show! (aka: last night’s Worcester City Council meeting!)