Tag Archives: gun violence

This near-tragedy hits where it hurts

I was a bit slow on the uptake to get the details quickly, but when some of them rolled in, I shuddered to the bone.

A security guard at Parkrose (Ore.) High School tackled an armed student and prevented a tragedy at a place I now quite well.

I attended and graduated from high school at Parkrose, which is now part of the Portland Public School District. Fifty-two years ago, when I obtained my diploma, it was a suburban community with a school system run by its own elected board.

Oh, man. This story shakes me to my core.

A heroic security guard named Keanon Lowe prevented the tragedy. He tackled the student after getting a tip from other students who reportedly had noticed some “concerning activity” involving the youngster with the gun.

Lowe is a former wide receiver for the University of Oregon who now serves as head football and track coach at Parkrose High School.

According to ESPN.com: Parkrose was evacuated and a nearby middle school was on lockdown for several hours as the investigation unfolded. The high school students were bused to a nearby parking lot where they were reunited with their parents.

Parents and students called Lowe a “hero.” Do ya think?

I didn’t walk the halls of the current Parkrose campus. The school building from which I graduated was torn down and replaced with the new campus some years back. But . . . one still remains tied forever to the school system that provided one’s education. When stories like this make news, well, you feel it just a little more deeply.

Wow! I am so happy this story has turned out the all right. So, too, are the loved ones of the students who saw it unfold in real time.

Keanon Lowe deserves a raise in pay. A big raise at that!

How does the NRA defend this?

Here’s a statistic that makes me quake.

The United States of America experienced 288 school shootings since 2009. The punchline? That number is 57 times greater than six other industrialized nations combined.

The other nations measured were the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Canada.

Fifty-seven times greater!

Jaw-dropping, yes?

And yet . . .

Gun-rights groups led by the National Rifle Association continue to tell us that we cannot enact constitutional legislation that would somehow stem that terrible tide. How in the name of good government does the NRA defend this view?

I don’t have a legislative cure in mind. Congress cannot muster up the guts to enact universal background checks for every individual who purchases a firearm. Why? Well, I have concluded that the NRA has bullied members into cowering away from taking any measures that would make it harder to buy a gun.

I will not accept the notion that any legislation would violate the Second Amendment guarantee citizens’ right to “keep and bear arms.”

Yet the demagogues keep yammering about how politicians are intent on “destroying” the Second Amendment, how they are dedicated to “taking your guns away.”

They are wrong.

The statistic about the number of school shootings tells me that we have to stop the bloodbath. I mean, Donald Trump pledged during inaugural speech to stop “this American carnage.”

Yes. It needs to stop. Now!

Courage shows itself in Colorado shooting

A young man stepped up and saved a lot of lives this week when he rushed one of the shooters who opened fire in his suburban Denver, Colo., school. His name was Kendrick Castillo.

Kendrick drew a statement of praise from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who posted this message on Facebook today:

Kendrick Castillo was killed yesterday when he tried to protect his fellow students during another school shooting. Castillo charged the gunman who entered his literature class, saving countless lives. He was just days away from graduating.

It is hard to imagine such bravery and selflessness from a teenager, especially when our leaders in Congress are so useless to stop the bloodshed in our schools. My heart is broken for Kendrick’s friends and family. We must recommit ourselves to making sure no more families have to live through such tragedy.

I believe Reich is being overly harsh when referencing teens. I trust he isn’t suggesting that today’s younger citizens are less brave or selfless than previous generations.

However, he is spot on when referencing the cowardice that our lawmakers exhibit by refusing to enact stronger sensible and constitutional efforts to “stop the bloodshed in our schools.”

Two suspects are in custody. One of them is a juvenile. The argument has begun about whether this individual should be tried as an adult. If I were King of the World, I would declare “Yes, by all means!”

As for Congress and whether there is a scintilla of courage in that body, I have given up hope.

Texas seeks comprehensive solution to school gun violence

Texas state Sen. Larry Taylor was hurting nearly a year ago, along with many of the rest of this state, not to mention the rest of America. A gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High School in his Senate district, killing 10 people and wounding 13 others.

Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, sought to do something to at least mitigate such tragic events in the future. He has produced a bill that isn’t perfect, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to protest it here.

Senate Bill 11 — which the Senate approved 29-2 and heads for the House of Representatives — seeks to strengthen mental health initiatives in Texas. According to the Texas Tribune, it gives teachers access to telephones and other electronic communications, and establishes threat assessment teams to help identify potentially dangerous students while determining the best ways to intervene before they erupt.

The bill also “requires school districts to appoint school safety committees that meet once a semester to provide their boards of trustees with recommendations for updates to their districts’ multihazard emergency operations plans,” the Tribune reports.

Does the legislation deal with the purchase of firearms, or the access that bad folks have to obtain them? No, but to my way of thinking it seeks a comprehensive approach to seeking out and identifying those who might be prone to producing the kind of insanity that has shown itself too often.

“We cannot afford to do nothing,” Taylor said, adding that too often legislators let “perfect become the enemy of the good.” So, the bill isn’t perfect. It is, however, a good start.

“Multiple young people’s funerals back to back in a few short days is very difficult,” Taylor said. “That’s why we have to get this done.”

Indeed. We mustn’t have to endure such heartache.

Bump stocks gone! May they never return!

The Donald Trump administration has banned bump stocks.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of the administration’s decision.

On that small but important score, we’ve made our society a little safer from extreme gun violence.

Bump stocks were thrust into our national conscience when a gunman opened fire in Las Vegas, Nev., killing 59 country music festival attendees. The moron used a weapon that had been turned into a fully automatic machine gun with a bump stock, a device one can attach to these weapons.

There can be only one reason to attack a bump stock on a weapon such as the one used by lunatic who opened fire in Las Vegas: it is to turn that weapon into a killing machine.

The Supreme Court had received an appeal from gun-owner rights groups that wanted the court to overturn the ban that took effect this week. The court said “no” to their appeal.

This is a good thing for Americans who are concerned about the spasm of gun violence that has become all too commonplace in our society.

Does this ban prohibit hunters, target shooters or those who just collect firearms from pursuing their right to “keep and bear arms” in accordance with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Not in the least.

Instead, it allows law enforcement authorities and the courts to sentence individuals to prison terms of as long as 10 years while paying fines of as much as $100,000. No one’s rights are compromised.

It goes to show you that, yes, we can impose reasonable restrictions on these weapons without endangering the Second Amendment.

New Zealand PM acts swiftly, decisively and with passion

National sovereignty is a wonderful thing. It gives nations the ability to enact laws on their own without regard to how other nations handle crises.

Such is the case in New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just announced a nationwide ban on all assault weapons and a stiffening of penalties for those who break the law regarding firearms possession. The country’s parliament needs to sign off.

Can you hear the grumbling now from here? From the United States of America? Where this kind of swift governmental action regarding firearms is unthinkable?

Ardern’s action is in response to the massacre of 50 people who were gunned down in two Christchurch mosques. A suspect is in custody; he purports to be a white nationalist who detests immigrants.

How does this apply to the discussion of gun violence in this country? Well, we have this Constitution here that guarantees in its Second Amendment the right of citizens to “keep and bear arms.” Our system of government precludes the kind of ultra-rapid response that Prime Minister Ardern has demonstrated.

For the record — once again! — I want to stipulate that I do not want the Second Amendment repealed in this country. I favor it in principle. I believe in the concept of firearm ownership. I have a couple of weapons myself.

That all said, I also believe there are ways to legislate improvements to the Second Amendment that protect the rights of citizens to own guns while increasing the standards for those who want to purchase them. In other words, I favor universal background checks.

I also believe we need to regulate gun shows to ensure that firearms purchased at these events are channeled into the hands of those who deserve to own them.

Our Constitution and our form of government are vastly different from much — if not most — of the rest of the world. Thus, I have no intention of seeking to foist a New Zealand-style response to this tragedy on the United States.

We just need in this country to seek some common ground on this most knotty issue of gun ownership, gun violence and the carnage that keeps erupting.

The slaughter of those worshipers in New Zealand has gotten the world’s attention. It also grabbed that country’s leaders by the throat and created a climate that seeks an immediate remedy.

If only we could get that kind of swift action in the United States of America.

Yes, keep the gunman ‘nameless’

Jacinda Ardern is a woman after my own heart.

The prime minister of New Zealand, a nation reeling from the slaughter of 50 worshipers at two Christchurch mosques, has pledged never to mention the name of the suspect arrested in the tragedy.

Why? Because, according to Prime Minister Ardern, he wants notoriety. She doesn’t intend to give it to him.

I am following her lead. Indeed, this blog hasn’t published the names of several mass murderers over several years for precisely the reason that Ardern has laid out. I don’t want to give these individuals any more publicity than they are getting already.

Keep their names out of print

Indeed, merely writing about the events they perpetrate does serve some nefarious purpose for them. They get publicity merely with the mention of the act.

As for publishing their names, I won’t do it.

Yes, I know that we all remember the names of noted assassins: Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, James Earl Ray all come to mind. And . . . yes,  I have posted the name of the guy who blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995, killing 168 people.

That was then. I have turned the name ID corner as it regards these monsters.

To that extent I totally endorse Prime Minister Ardern’s decision to keep the name of the mass murderer to herself.

That’s why they’re called ‘terrorists’

To be terrorized means that acts of blind hatred can strike anyone, anywhere and in any context.

Such horror has erupted again in what I consider to be a most terribly ironic location.

Gunmen believed to be white supremacists opened fire in two mosques, killing 49 Muslims, in — get ready for it! — Christchurch, New Zealand.

Forty-nine people are dead. Why? Because the people who killed them hate immigrants. They despise non-Christians. They took their vengeance out on people in their houses of worship. Three suspects — two men and a woman — are in custody.

What in the world does one make of this latest spasm of utterly senseless violence? I am shaking my head in mourning and grief this morning as I seek to make sense of something that makes no sense at all.

Expressions of sorrow are pouring into the country from around the world. Donald Trump extended his sympathy and support for New Zealand as it seeks answers to what its leaders call the worst such event in the nation’s history.

The president spoke for his country. Indeed, it is impossible to grasp fully the mayhem that has exploded in a country long believed to among the most peaceful places on Earth.

Terrorists and the acts they commit against unsuspecting victims are, by definition, cowards of the first order.

The world’s heart is broken today.

Almost forgot about this guy’s bad manners!

D’oh!

I almost forgot this item. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who tweeted a threat to Michael Cohen on the eve of Donald Trump’s former friend’s expected blockbuster testimony before Congress, has acted boorishly before.

He tweeted a threat of exposing alleged affairs Cohen had with women who aren’t his wife. Bad form, dude. That kind of witness intimidation can get you in serious trouble.

But then there’s the tirade he launched during a House committee hearing with survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre. He threatened to boot them out of the committee hearing because he didn’t like the tone they were using while giving testimony about gun violence.

I just hate it when members of Congress act like horses’ asses.

You may spare me the “both sides do it” crap. I get that already. I’m talking about this clown.

A member of Congress, a guy who writes federal laws that affect all Americans, needs to act with some measure of decorum and dignity. Matt Gaetz is sorely lacking in both qualities.

Comedian steps into it

Louis C.K., a discredited and disgraced comedian, had this to say about the survivors of the Parkland, Fla., that occurred this past Valentine’s Day.

“You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you?” C.K. said as audience members are heard laughing along.

“How does that make you interesting?” he continued. “You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way and now I got to listen to you talking.”

This doesn’t rise to the level of radio blowhard Alex Jones contending on the air that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a fantasy, that the kids who died were actors. It’s still pretty damn hideous.

Louis C.K. has some baggage, you see. He was accused of pleasuring himself in front of women — and has joined the list of powerful men accused by those during this “Me Too” era. So for this idiot to make cheap fun of the 17 victims who died and those who had the good fortune to survive the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is, shall we say, beyond disgusting.

The response has been furious.

There’s this from Aalayah Eastmon, one of the survivors: “Hey Louis CK — since you like making fun of me and other Parkland survivors behind closed doors, I’m right here if you want to talk. Just try to keep it in your pants, OK?” 

Disgraceful.