Tag Archives: gun violence

Radio jock: D’oh! It happened after all!

It took the parents of two slain boys to extract a long-awaited — albeit partial — admission from a notorious radio talk-show host and conspiracy theorist.

Alex Jones has been yapping and yammering since 2012 that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of 20 children and six teachers didn’t happen. It was a hoax, he said, and the parents of the children have been portrayed by “actors.”

He’s now been sued for at least $1 million by the parents of Jesse Heslin and Noah Pozner, two of the children slaughtered. They are suing for defamation relating to Jones’s continual idiocy. According to WHSU Public Radio: The lawsuit alleges Jones’s misinformation led conspiracy theorists to make death threats against the families of shooting victims.

Now we hear that Jones has gone on YouTube to say the shooting did occur. But here’s another kicker: Jones contends the plaintiffs are being used by the Democratic Party and the news media and he has invited them to appear on his show to discuss guns.

Sure thing, Goofball. That’ll happen.

I cannot know how this lawsuit will play out. Jones might settle for a lot of money before it ever goes to court. That would be OK with me.

The parents of those precious children and the loved ones of the heroes who died trying to protect them from the madman who opened fire in Newtown, Conn., deserve significant remuneration from the source of those moronic rants.

To my way of thinking, Jones had better get ready to dig deeply into his pockets. He is going to owe those parents a lot of money.

Ingraham vs. Hogg: A foolish fight

David Hogg is one of those teenagers who has risen to the top of the public’s awareness in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school massacre.

He is an articulate young man who’s become a leading spokesman for the survivors of the shooting that killed 17 students and staff members on Valentine’s Day. He has spoken eloquently about the need to end gun violence. The media have glommed onto Hogg and a few other of the leading student spokesmen and women who have emerged from this horrific tragedy.

He also has gotten involved in a silly dispute with a noted conservative columnist and commentator who had the bad taste to tweet something disparaging about Hogg.

Ingraham has since apologized “in the spirit of the Holy Week.” Hogg isn’t accepting here apology and is now mounting a boycott against her show, encouraging more advertisers to drop their sponsorship of her radio show.

Let’s hold on for a second.

This tears at my sensibilities. For starters, Hogg didn’t deserve to be called a “whiner” in Ingraham’s tweet, which was in response to something Hogg had said about being rejected by several universities despite his stellar 4.2 GPA at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He also has been accused falsely of being a “crisis actor,” someone hired to play the part of someone involved in a school massacre.

Then again, Ingraham’s apology was full-blown. She said she is sorry for any hurt she has caused among the “Parkland victims.”

If it had been me, I would have accepted her apology and then moved on. Hogg doesn’t see it that way. He said Ingraham apologized only because the advertisers were bailing on her.

Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill newspaper, says Hogg’s anger may be setting a potentially dangerous precedent if he persists on trying to end the career of someone who has said she is sorry and has admitted to making a mistake.

Read his analysis in The Hill here.

I have to concur with Concha’s analysis.

Hey, no one’s perfect, young man.

Nothing from POTUS

Linda Beigel Schulman is a better person that I am.

She and Michael Beigel lost their son in the Parkland, Fla., massacre of 17 students and teachers on Valentine’s Day. Their son, Scott, was a teacher who died while protecting students from the gunman who opened fire.

Schulman told The Hill that she has received a “beautiful letter” from U.S. Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and from former President Obama. The former president wrote, in part: “We can only imagine the hardship you are going through; hopefully all the wonderful memories can help ease the pain. We’ll get the details about your fund in his honor. In the meantime, you are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Has she heard from Donald Trump, the current president? No.

Schulman said, “I received no correspondence whatsoever. I received nothing from the White House.” She has demonstrated, though, a bit of a magnanimous spirit that I likely wouldn’t exhibit.

Although she believes the president should have reached out, she isn’t disappointed. “Because I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I have realistic expectations.”

I cannot pretend to know how she feels about the loss of her son. I do get that she is angry about the gun violence that has erupted yet again in this country, this time striking her straight in the heart, shattering it.

This is a national tragedy, one that has enveloped an entire nation. It has spawned deeply impassioned debate about gun policy and violence. It requires — in my view — the leader of this great country to reach out, to speak directly to the victims of this scourge.

He didn’t do what is expected of him. I am left to sit on the sidelines and look on with awe at those who are stricken and who have it within them to soldier on with their “realistic expectations.”

A sobering sign of today’s era

I was talking with the mother of one of the March For Our Lives organizers in Amarillo, Texas, when the thought recurred to me.

“You know something?” I said Saturday. “I never once — ever — had this conversation with my parents when I was in school. Not in grade school, junior high or high school. My mother never told me to to ‘stay safe’ when she sent me off to school.”

Indeed, Mom and Dad always assumed I would return home at the end of the school day. There never was a single thought that I ever remember that someone would open fire with a weapon in school.

Oh, how we have entered a new era.

The March For Our Lives event in Amarillo was just one of hundreds of other community events called to demand remedies to the gun violence that has killed so many children, teachers and others.

Violeta Prieto, the mother of Carla Prieto — an Amarillo march organizer — responded to me that neither did she have that discussion with her parents. And she graduated from Palo Duro High School just 21 years ago, in 1997. I reminded her with a chuckle that “I am a whole lot older than you are.”

We would take part in fire drills and those once-quaint “duck and cover” drills to prepare us to respond to a possible nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. It was the “cold war” back then. Those drills don’t seem quite so quaint these days in light of recent international developments … but, I digress; more on that another time.

Today’s students and their loved ones are facing a potential “hot war” in the fight to eradicate gun violence in our schools and other public places.

And while I’m on this topic, I must share with you that we have members of our family who likely are having — or will have — discussions with young children that we never dreamed of having. I don’t recall talking with our now 40-something sons about gun violence when they were in school; they graduated from high school in 1991 and 1992.

So … this is new to us. It is chilling in the extreme to wrap our heads around the potential danger facing our children in communities throughout the country.

I join them in their fright.

‘We are not anti-gun!’

Of all the public pronouncements I heard today at the start of the March For Our Lives, one of them stands out foursquare in front of the rest of them.

“We are not anti-gun!” came the proclamation from an elevated stage calling the crowd to order as the march was about to commence.

It came from one of the student organizers who had rallied hundreds of Texas Panhandle residents, summoned them to Ellwood Park, where they would take their march through downtown Amarillo, Texas, to the Potter County Courthouse grounds.

The March For Our Lives took places in communities throughout the United States. It was spawned by the Parkland, Fla., high school slaughter of 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The “We are not anti-gun!” proclamation reveals a certain sophistication among the students who organized this march. The Texas Panhandle students clearly know the audience to whom they are preaching. They want an end to gun violence. They do not intend to argue for the confiscation of firearms. They know better than that.

They know they live in a community that supports the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s always fascinated me that the nation’s founders sought to codify certain civil liberties; they started with guaranteeing the right to worship, protest the government and a free press in the First Amendment; then came the Second Amendment, which establishes the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Texas Panhandle residents take their Second Amendment rights seriously. Well, at least a lot of them do.

Thus, the March For Our Lives organizers sought to tell the marchers — and some onlookers who had come to Ellwood Park — about their intentions in staging this march.

They want “common sense” legislative remedies that assure that the Second Amendment remains viable. They say they have no intention of lobbying for repeal of the amendment. They want to assure the right to own firearms remains written in our nation’s government framework.

I haven’t yet heard of any proposed solutions that deny Americans the right to possess firearms. I also applaud the organizers of our local event for making clear that they intend to retain that right.

They simply have seen too many young people — just like themselves — gunned down while they are studying in school, a place where one can presume they would be safe.

They aren’t. The students who marched today want our politicians to do what they to ensure safety and to end the national scourge of gun violence.

Responsible for deaths? Nope!

I have to share with you a comment that came to me today after I posted a blog on today’s March For Our Lives in Amarillo, Texas.

I don’t like doing this, but I feel the need to share with you a point of view that is highly critical of yours truly, and it also accuses me of something I’ve never before heard.

Here it is, in part:

The writer of this article, with his slant, is partially responsible to the moral decline that has lead to children being killed and rights having been eroded.

You are accountable as a public writer, and I hold you responsible for lying to our youth and ultimately getting them killed.

I do not know the author of this comment. That is, if I do know who it is, the writer didn’t reveal his or her identity to me.

The item I posted on High Plains Blogger offered a word of encouragement to the several hundred marchers who trudged from Ellwood Park to the Potter County Courthouse in downtown Amarillo. They gathered and marched to protest the gun violence that has taken too many young lives in our country; the marchers want change and they want it sooner rather than later.

I don’t mind criticism of the items I post. I welcome it if it is constructive and well-reasoned. Most of it is. This item, though, isn’t. It ascribes some really nefarious consequences to my little ol’ blog.

As for who is responsible for causing the deaths of young people, my inclination is to lay that blame at the feet of those who support unrestricted gun ownership, believing that the Second Amendment guarantees it. These weapons do have a way of ending up in the wrong hands … you know?

Maybe I should feel somewhat — more or less — flattered that the individual who responded to this blog thinks I have that kind of influence on our society.

I’ve never seen myself as having such stroke. I like to think High Plains Blogger is able to have some impact on elements of the human condition. But to suggest that it is partly responsible for the deaths of young Americans, well … that’s going a bit far. Don’t you think?

I have no real ulterior motive in sharing these thoughts with you. Perhaps you can read them in their entirety when you click on highplainsblogger. com — which I invite you to do.

They marched for a cause that could make history

With that, I believe I’ll go about the business of coming up with other topics on which to pontificate.

They marched for a cause that could make history

They came. They marched. Perhaps they have added even more sizzle to a growing movement among young Americans.

I’m guessing a crowd of about 300 or so Texas Panhandle residents gathered today at Ellwood Park in Amarillo. From the park they marched toward the Potter County Courthouse, where they would bring a message of fear, anger and perhaps a healthy dose of hope to those in power who are willing to listen to their message.

It is this: We are tired of gun violence and we are tired of being afraid in our public schools.

It was a March For Our Lives, carried out by the Texas Panhandle “chapter” of a movement spawned in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School slaughter of 17 students and staffers in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day. Parkland is the latest in a growing list of American communities scarred by gun violence on a mass-murder scale.

The students there went to Washington today to protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building. They want legislative change. They want stricter gun regulations.

But as the organizers in Amarillo noted today while commencing their march to the County Courthouse, “We are not ‘anti-gun.'” They do not intend to confiscate guns from responsible owners of firearms. They simply want what they call “common sense change” in the nation’s gun laws.

Violeta Prieto was one of the marchers who came to Ellwood Park. She is showing support for her daughter, Carla, one of the Caprock High School honor students who organized the Amarillo march. One of her sons, a middle-school student, said he came to the march “because my mom made me.” He’ll get the message that’s being delivered; of that I am quite sure.

“I am afraid to take my kids to school,” Prieto said. “I cannot know what will happen” any day here children are in school, she said.

“I want more control and I want to end this easy access to guns,” she said.

Prieto is a 1997 graduate of Palo Duro High School, an institution with some gun-violence history of its own. A student at PDHS opened fire in 1992, injuring six fellow students before he was arrested. Prieto said her older sister, who was attending PD, remembers the incident “very well.” The shooting occurred a couple of years before Prieto entered the high school, “but I remember it, too.”

“I support my daughter all the way,” Prieto said. “She is our future. All those kids are our future.”

To be sure, not everyone at the Ellwood Park gathering was singing off the same page in the proverbial hymnal. I chatted briefly with a couple of young men, one of whom was carrying a Confederate flag, the other a “Don’t Tread on Me” banner.

I asked if they were there to “counter protest.” One of the young men, whose name I didn’t get, said: “Oh, no. We’re here for the same reason. We want to end gun violence, too. We just believe there’s another way to do it.”

He said the emphasis should be on ending the bullying, making schools more secure, safer and “enforcing the laws we have already.”

The young men didn’t march with the rest of the crowd. When the marchers started walking away, they went to their vehicles and drove off, presumably to the courthouse — perhaps to listen and make their own statements heard.

My wife and I didn’t stay for the march. I wanted to get a feel for the Ellwood Park crowd’s mood and its sense of hope. I saw a lot of smiles and expressions of guarded optimism that we well might be seeing the dawn of a new era.

Even here. In Amarillo, a community not known as a hotbed for community activism. However, times — and communities — can change.

Bump stocks banned: it’s a start

The U.S. Justice Department has acted — finally! — on a measure that well could start us down a more rational, sane world regarding firearm regulation.

DOJ announced it is going to implement a ban on bump stocks, those devices that turn semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic killing machines.

While the nation has been fixated since Valentine’s Day on the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre, let us remember an earlier slaughter.

A lunatic opened fire in Las Vegas with a semi-auto rifle he had converted into a machine gun, killing 59 people attending a music festival at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. He eventually killed himself.

The debate over bump stocks was joined immediately.

Is this measure going to strip legitimate firearm owners of their right to “keep and bear arms”? Not in the least. It is going to potentially deter future madmen from doing what the Las Vegas shooter did, which is turn a semi-automatic rifle into a virtual weapon of war.

In announcing the Justice Department directive, though, we had to leave it to Donald Trump to lay blame on his made-up nemesis, Barack Obama, for “approving” bump stocks.

Trump’s tweet is sort of correct, at a certain level. The decision to allow bump stocks was done at an administrative mid-level at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The president or the attorney general, Eric Holder, had no direct input on the deliberations being undertaken.

Leave it to Obama’s successor, though, to forgo a forward-looking statement and to assess blame on someone else on a problem that needed to be fixed.

So, the Justice Department has acted. It will ban bump stocks. It will seek to prevent gun owners from creating machine guns.

This is by no stretch of anyone’s imagination a decision that launches us down any sort of slippery slope. It makes sense.

A new day might bring a new era

As I write these few words, we’re about 15 hours or so from sunrise on a new day in the Texas Panhandle.

We intend to mark the day in a way I never thought would occur. We’re going to Ellwood Park sometime Saturday morning, look for a place to park our car and we’re going to visit with what I hope is a large crowd of marchers.

I’m not sure I intend to actually join the March For Our Lives. I do intend to bring my notebook, a pen and that trusty camera on my cell phone. I intend to talk to young people, some of their parents and perhaps an onlooker or two (or three) to get a sense of what they hope to accomplish.

The March For Our Lives is a national event that has washed over Amarillo. Caprock High School students are taking the lead on organizing the local event; they have the support of their teachers and, I’ll presume, their parents.

It’s not too much of a stretch to wonder if this march portends a new era, whether it signals an awakening among young students who feel endangered by the threat of gun violence.

By now you know that the March For Our Lives was spurred by the slaughter of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The students are outraged, enraged and, yes, frightened. To their huge credit, they aren’t letting their fear overcome them. Many of these Douglas High School students are going to march on Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, their high school-age brethren are marching in streets throughout the country. I saw a map on TV showing communities where March For Our Lives is staging demonstrations; the map was covered with dots denoting such activity.

The students here who’ve taken up this cudgel deserve high praise. I intend to offer it to those I meet.

Amarillo will join the nationwide march. We’ll need to get there early enough to find some parking near Ellwood Park.

I’m looking forward to the new day. May it signal an awakening.

Is history about to repeat itself?

The comedian Bill Murray is old enough to remember the Vietnam War and the extreme tumult it created at home.

He writes that today’s uprising among young Americans reminds him of that earlier time, when young Americans marched in protest against a war that had become the classic quagmire.

According to CNN.com: “It was the students who made all the news, and that noise started, and then the movement wouldn’t stop,” he said. “I think, maybe, this noise that those students in Florida are making — here, today — will do something of the same nature.”

“Those students in Florida” have lit a spark among young people from coast to coast and all the areas in the middle of the country. A gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla. He killed 17 people, most of them students. Young Americans across the land are frightened about the prospect of gun violence erupting again and again.

They are going on a collective march Saturday. They’re calling it the “March For Our Lives.” It will be sweep across the nation. Amarillo will be one of the locations where young Americans will speak their mind, they will honor the victims who have fallen not just in Parkland, but in other venues for too long.

The Amarillo event will begin at noon Saturday at Ellwood Park and will wind its way to the Potter County Courthouse grounds. Students will call — they will demand — for action to be taken in Congress and in state legislatures. They want laws enacted that could deter future slaughters from occurring.

Prior mass murders — Columbine, Sandy Hook, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Orlando, Aurora — brought forth anger and misery. Presidents wept in public at the tragedy. Legislators introduced bills to be considered. But nothing happened.

Parkland appears to have been a more effective catalyst, or so it seems. It has produced a number of eloquent spokesmen and women, who happen to be among the younger generation of Americans. They are coming of age. Many of them already are eligible to vote and are pledging to use that power to bring the kind of change they seek in the halls of power.

Does that sound familiar? Sure it does. Bill Murray remembers how it was back in The Day, when young people marched along streets, demanding change in U.S. policy. That change came about largely because of those young Americans’ persistence.

The “March For Our Lives” can bring equally dramatic results. It will require an equal amount of persistence among those young people. It also will require that the rest of us pay attention.