Tag Archives: gun violence

We honor a hero

Richard Houston II went to work Friday expecting fully to return home at the end of his shift and be greeted by his wife and three children.

He didn’t get that opportunity.

Houston was a member of the Mesquite (Texas) Police Department, having served the PD for 21 years. He responded to a disturbance call Friday, where he encountered a man with a firearm. The man shot Houston before turning the weapon on himself; the suspect in the shooting is in the hospital suffering critical wounds.

Enough about that nimrod.

Richard Houston died serving the residents of his community. From what I understand, he is just the second officer to die in the line of duty in all of Mesquite’s history.

I have had a longstanding affection for police officers. There is absolutely nothing “routine” about any task they are called upon to perform. Every single day they suit up, strap on their gear and go to work is filled with potential danger every single moment of the shift they work. They are heroes in every sense of the too-often overused — and misused — term.

I want to pay a brief tribute to all the dedicated police officers who, just like Officer Houston, expect to go home to their loved ones at the end of their day. The Mesquite chief of police asks us all to keep Houston’s family in our prayers.

Absolutely. Now and always.


Parents need to stand trial, too

I had this horrible fear that the search for the parents of the boy who allegedly killed his classmates at Oxford High School in Michigan would be found dead.

They weren’t. Oakland County, Mich., authorities took Mom and Dad into custody and the district attorney has charged them with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of the four students.

In keeping with my policy of not identifying the shooters in these mass slaughter events, I am going to avoid naming the parents, too. I believe they are as culpable in the event as the son who stands accused of murdering his fellow students.

I do want to salute the prosecutor for agreeing to level charges against the parents. They allegedly allowed their son to obtain the weapon he used the other day when he opened fire in the school. They, too, will have blood on their hands if they are convicted of the crimes for which prosecutors have charged them.

Yes, this is another dark episode in the ongoing fight against gun violence in this country. It sickens me beyond measure.

When in the name of all that is decent will this carnage end?


Yes, try the kid as an adult

It boggles my mind at times why officials have to haggle for a long time about whether to try a juvenile as an adult when he allegedly commits the kind of crime that occurred the other day in Oxford, Mich.

Four people are dead after a high school student opened fire. The student is in custody. Three of the fatal victims dies on the day of the shooting; the fourth one died just today. Many more victims were injured.

I get that the suspect is a juvenile, but damn, the boy is charged with committing a grievous act of violence on other students.

Authorities are keeping him segregated from the adults in jail. I am OK with that. I also am OK with keeping underage convicts who are tried as adults away from the grownups in the slammer.

However, the penalty for a conviction on the crime that this individual is alleged to have committed should be the maximum provided to adults, not to minors. He is accused of committing a heinous act and if he is convicted, he needs to do the time required under the law … as an adult.


Curious juxtaposition on guns

A headline in the Texas Tribune had me scratchin’ my noggin.

It asked: Beto O’Rourke went after assault rifles in his run for president. Will that hurt him with gun-loving Texans?

Well, that poses a quandary, don’t you think? Of course it does! But here’s the deal as I see it. I consider myself to be a “gun-loving Texan.” I own a couple of rifles, both of which are keepsakes given to me when I was a boy by my father. One of them is a single-shot .22-caliber rifle; the other is a 30.06 that carries a five-round magazine.

Neither of them is an assault weapon. I love my guns, even though I rarely shoot them.

Back to the Tribune’s question: I fear that O’Rourke’s statement about assault weapons is going to hurt him among many Texans who profess to love their guns, but who in reality love owning — or love the prospect of owning — weapons designed to kill human beings in rapid fashion on a battlefield.

The question came to O’Rourke during a 2020 Democratic primary presidential debate. He had said “hell yes!” he wanted to take people’s assault rifles. I did not in that moment believe he intended to send agents to my home and confiscate my two cherished rifles.

The crazy crowd among us no doubt is going to interpret O’Rourke’s statement in 2020 as a clarion call to disarm us all. You can bet your last bandolier that Gov. Greg Abbott is going to play on that fear as he seeks to paint O’Rourke as a commie sympathizer intent on destroying the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

Will Beto O’Rourke’s stance on guns hurt him in 2022’s Texas governor race? | The Texas Tribune

Let’s get ready for a rough campaign.


Gun control does not violate our rights

As I watch the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse unfold in Kenosha, Wisc., I am pulled back toward an argument I have sought to make.

Which is that there must be a legislative remedy to the violence that erupted when Rittenhouse allegedly shot two people to death while packing an AR-15 assault weapon.

Rittenhouse faces a potential life sentence if a jury convicts him of the crime for which he has been charged. The young man sat in the witness chair today and told the court how the rifle he purchased “looked cool.” He had no intention of using to hunt animals or to protect his home. It “looked cool.”

That’s it.

Rittenhouse was packing the rifle while strolling down a Kenosha street during a protest against the Black Lives Matter protesters who marched to object to the shooting of an African-American by white police officers.

I cannot get past the notion that there must be some sort of legislation to be written that does not infringe on our Second Amendment guarantee that allows us to “keep and bear arms.” I am all for the amendment’s provision. I also believe there must be a way to craft some sort of control mechanism that does not prohibit law-abiding, rational American citizens from owning firearms.

I just do not see the Second Amendment as an “all or nothing” guarantee.


Nervous about this new law

Texans are going to welcome a lot of new laws at the stroke of midnight.

I want to deal briefly with one of them. It’s a law they call “constitutional carry” of firearms. The new law allows anyone to carry a gun openly without ever having to take a test to prove they are qualified to operate this weapon.

To be clear, it does have some restrictions. A convicted felon cannot carry a gun; nor can anyone dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.

Everyone else? No sweat. Strap on the six-gun and pack it anywhere you wish.

This law makes me nervous. It’s a product of the state’s Republican-heavy Legislature and was signed by our Republican governor, Greg Abbott.

OK, I’ll stipulate that I disliked the state’s concealed carry law when it took effect more than 20 years ago. I feared shootouts at intersections. They didn’t happen with the kind of regularity that I feared.

So, over time I came to accept the concealed carry law even though I never have endorsed it.

I am not sure I’ll be able to accept this “constitutional carry” law. I always have  though that the state’s concealed carry law was sufficient. It worked. Yes, we have too many guns out there. To be honest, the existence of the concealed carry law in Texas has deterred me from getting verbally abusive of drivers who cut me off, or tailgate me, or otherwise drive in a manner that makes me angry.

This idea of allowing anyone to pack heat without having to take a test and get a license, though, does cause me some anxiety.

Good luck, everyone. Be sure to behave yourself.



Hoping for the best

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

OK. I shall remain opposed the legislation that will become law effective Sept. 1.

However, I am going to enter a new phase of opposition. I want to give “permit-less carry of handguns” a chance to work until – or if – my worst fears become a reality.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law the other day. It is the “constitutional carry” legislation that became a favorite of legislative Republicans. It allows anyone to pack a gun without even requiring them to take a mandatory gun safety course and passing a mandatory test. The state has had a concealed carry law on the books for decades. This new law renders the concealed carry law moot.

The Legislature did tweak the bill before sending it to Abbott’s desk.

According to the Texas Tribune: Before approving the bill, the Senate tacked on several amendments to address concerns by law enforcement groups that opposed permitless carry, worried it would endanger officers and make it easier for criminals to get guns.

The compromise lawmakers reached behind closed doors kept intact a number of changes the Senate made to the House bill, including striking a provision that would have barred officers from questioning people based only on their possession of a handgun.

The deal also preserves a Senate amendment enhancing the criminal penalties for felons and family violence offenders caught carrying. Among other Senate changes that made it into the law was a requirement that the Texas Department of Public Safety offer a free online course on gun safety.

Big-city cops opposed the law along with most Texans. So I don’t feel like the proverbial Lone Ranger in fearing what this law could produce, which could be a spasm of violence created by those who are packing heat under the new law.

To be fair, I had much the same fear about concealed carry legislation. To my pleasant surprise, the concealed carry law has not produced a huge tick in gunfights on the streets, or in the grocery store parking lot – or anywhere else, for that matter!

I am going to hold out hope that this new law can produce the same sort of reasonable reaction.

Will it turn me into an avid supporter of this law? Probably not. I am willing to honor the role as someone who accepts the law if not embracing it.

I will simply hope for the best.

Note: This blog was published initially on KETR.org.

POTUS makes another run at gun violence

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden well might beat himself senseless with this initiative but he deserves credit for bringing needed attention to a national scourge.

That would be gun violence.

Biden says clearly that “it has to end.” To be sure, the president is getting push back from — get ready for it — the Republican caucus in Congress. GOP lawmakers blame the progressive movement and its “defund the police” mantra for the spike in gun violence. I guess that means Republicans won’t do anything about it. They’ll continue to sit on their hands, continue to obstruct any effort to legislate a remedy to what has become an all-too-common event: mass shootings.

USA Today reports: “Folks, this shouldn’t be a red or blue issue,” Biden said in the White House State Room. “It’s an American issue. We’re not changing the Constitution. We’re enforcing it, being reasonable. We’re taking on the bad actors doing bad and dangerous things in our communities.”

In a speech from the White House, Biden announced a “zero-tolerance policy” for rogue gun dealers and a new focus by the Justice Department to try to stop the illegal sale of firearms.

Biden also emphasized that cities and states can use their portions of $350 billion in direct aid from Biden’s COVID-19 rescue plan, approved by Congress in March, on public safety efforts, including hiring more police officers.

So, the resistance will come from those in Congress who believe liberals are to blame, which gives them a pretext to oppose legislation that seeks to target bad actors out there who contribute to the carnage.

‘It has to end’: Biden targets illegal gun sales, rogue dealers in strategy to combat rising crime (msn.com)

It’s hard to say how much of an impact President Biden’s initiative will have on the plague of gun violence. But my goodness. Why in the world must this resistance continue to obstruct good-faith efforts to deal forthrightly with what every sensible American must believe is occurring on our streets?

I have no intention of giving up this fight and I will continue to stand with those in power who see gun violence against innocent Americans as the existential threat it has been for far too long.

Stop the demagoguery on guns!

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am on the verge of pulling my hair out!

The hysteria mounted by those who oppose legislative solutions to the national gun violence epidemic is driving me to the edge of insanity.

The gun lobby keeps yammering about how those of us who want to make it even more difficult for nut jobs to obtain firearms are actually intent on “taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.”

I can think of fewer contemporary discussion topics that are farther from the truth than that one. I know what the Second Amendment says about the right to “keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I also know that it would be political folly for any reasonable politician to suggest that the amendment be stricken from the U.S. Constitution.

To say, though, that our intent is to disarm Americans is flat out wrong. It is frightening. It also is dangerous.

The danger comes in the form of those who believe such bullsh** and who react by storming government buildings, fully armed, threatening to do bodily harm to elected officials who are trying their level best to make us safer from the nut jobs among us.

We have witnessed such incidents in Oregon, Michigan, Texas (where my family and I live) and throughout the nation. The gun lobby has latched onto people’s fears and is exploiting it to the maximum degree. The whole lot of them are being led by the immediate past POTUS who foments the nonsense by declaring that “Democrats want to destroy the Second Amendment.”

I will not tolerate such utter trash. I remain committed to the notion that there remains a sensible legislative answer to the gun violence plague that retains the integrity of the Second Amendment. Anyone who suggests it’s all an effort to “disarm law-abiding citizens” is flat-out crazy.

A curious exception to open-carry law

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The Texas Legislature has approved a bill that allows any yahoo in Texas who wants to carry a gun to do so.

Yep. No need to take a test to prove competence with a firearm. No requirement for a license. Texas legislators say the U.S. Constitution is all the requirement anyone needs to pack heat.

Get this, though: The Legislature said you cannot carry a gun into the State Capitol Building, where legislators work! Hmm. Why is that?

I am reminded of the time back in the 1990s when a publisher with whom I worked in Amarillo questioned a state senator about a similar exception the Legislature sought when it considered its concealed-carry legislation. My boss, Garet von Netzer, quizzed the late Teel Bivins, an Amarillo Republican, why he and his colleagues won’t allow someone to “carry a six-shooter on their hip” when they walk into the Capitol. I don’t recall what Bivins said at the time, but von Netzer made a good point then … which is that if you’re going to allow Texans to arm themselves, then open it up to any venue in the state.

I only can presume that legislators have a secret fear of potential mayhem in the halls of state government when Gov. Greg Abbott signs this abomination into law.