Guns are the problem

Guns are the problem.

You can deny it all you want, but that’s the truth. Guns kill people. Sure they have to be in the hands of someone, but you can’t have mass shootings without guns.

Take the guns out of the hands of these angry white racist misogynists and the carnage will stop. It really is that simple.

Someone commented to me yesterday that cars kill people too. The difference here is that guns are manufactured expressly for the purpose of killing, I told him. Cars are made for transportation and accidents happen. People drown in bathtubs, too. Big deal.

He tried to tell me guns have purposes other than killing people. What about hunting, he asked.

I told him my father always brought home dead animals from hunting, and if that’s doing it wrong, perhaps I’d better talk to other people in my family who hunt.

Also, hunters who want to eat what they hunt don’t use assault-style weapons because you can’t eat an animal that’s been shot with one.

The problem is guns.

If these angry white men couldn’t get their hands on guns, we wouldn’t have mass shootings.

We need to regulate guns to keep them out of the hands of men who have been convicted of domestic violence, men who threaten people who disagree with them on social media, men who are members of “incel” (involuntarily celibate) groups, men who strut about in public with their assault-style weapons slung from their shoulders, thrilled that others “respect” (really, fear) them and believing it somehow will make their penises bigger.

Because guns are the problem.

It is not mental illness, either. The VAST majority of people with mental illnesses don’t shoot anyone. In fact, they tend to commit fewer violent crimes. Women have mental illnesses, too, and at the same rate as men, if not higher, but we don’t shoot up Walmarts, theaters or anything else. And the rest of the world has pretty much the same level of psychiatric illness as we do, but they don’t have the mass shootings because they don’t have unfettered access to guns.

Every now and then you’ll read about a person with a knife who manages to kill a couple of people and injure a few more before being stopped, and the gun lovers will say, “See? Knives kill people too!”

But had the knife wielder had an assault-style rifle, the death toll would have been a whole lot higher.

The problem is guns in the hands of angry, racist white men who think they should own and control everything and everyone.

The problem is the racist pig squatting in the Oval Office, egging them on so that he can watch with unconcealed glee as people he wants us to see as enemies are slaughtered.

The problem is Republicans who won’t do anything about gun violence because peddling fear is what gets them elected again and again. Well, that and cheating.

The problem is that right-leaning judges have been pushed by the NRA to interpret the Second Amendment as unfettered access to high-powered military-grade weapons.

The Second Amendment actually says, ” A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Do you want to join a well regulated militia? You know, attend meetings and take gun-safety classes? Do military drills? Have supervision?

Probably not. These gun enthusiasts want unfettered access to guns they see as toys.

The problem is that guns are everywhere and angry white men love to use them in place of the giant penises they wish they had.

No more prayers, no more promises. Act now on guns

I took this off of Facebook this morning because it is so powerful.

I took this off of Facebook this morning because it is so powerful.

Ten more people.

Ten human beings.

Ten more corpses.

Ten more bereaved families.

When does it end?

When do we as Americans rise up and tell our legislators that we have had enough?

Something was supposed to happen after Sandy Hook, but nothing did. And the members of Congress who did nothing weren’t fired in 2014. We let them get away with it.

Instead, we blame mental illness.

Well, we’re not doing anything about mental illnesses, either.

Here in North Carolina, our legislature just cut another $310 million out of the mental health budget over the next two years.

So, people who need treatment are getting nothing. But they can get guns.

And not just guns that are good for hunting, either; they’re getting assault weapons, weapons that can kill a dozen people in a few seconds.

The meaning of the Second Amendment has been twisted beyond recognition, thanks to the NRA and gun manufacturers and their purchase of our members of Congress, and we have allowed it to happen.

I say that because I’ll bet not 5 percent of constituents have written to their members of Congress to demand something be done. I say this because these accessories to murder keep being returned to office.

If you’re fed up with hearing the lists of the dead, if you’re fed up with footage of funerals and memorials, if you’re fed up with having to teach your children how to try to stay alive during a shooting, stop voting for people with blood on their hands.

Stop voting for candidates who try to place the stigma on people with mental illnesses when the stigma belongs on them — the people who refuse to outlaw assault weapons, the people who refuse to require universal background checks.

The day of the shooting, I was in a store talking to a woman behind the counter, who believed nothing can be done.

“Regulating guns worked in Australia,” I said.

“That’s not the United States,” she replied. “It can’t work here.”

“So, you’re saying we should do nothing?” I asked.

“No, I think we all should arm ourselves.”

I politely disagreed with her and left the store.

I don’t want to live without hope that we can manage to do anything.

Something needs to be done and we have to stop being distracted by talk of mental illness, because that’s not the cause of mass murders.

The cause of shooting sprees is guns. It is the nearly unfettered access to guns, all kinds of guns — handguns, shotguns, semi-automatic guns — by anyone who wants them. It is the expansion of open-carry rights to the point that we can’t even feel safe in restaurants, stores and parks in our own communities.

Legislators are in the pockets of gun lobbyists, and they’re making our country more dangerous every year.

Now we have mass shootings almost every week, and the response is always the same: The victims and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.

Well, here’s what’s in my thoughts and prayers: We must get rid of the murdering thugs who have done this to our country. We must all wake up and let our legislators know we’re done allowing this perversion of the Constitution and that we will vote against them, no matter what their stands are on anything else.

We want an assault weapon ban now. We want universal background checks now.

No more posturing, no more pandering to the gun lobby.

We are done. If this crop of legislators won’t do anything about it, we will send men and women who will to Washington and to our state capitols.

No more shootings. No more bodies. Do something or go home.

Let’s stop pretending we’re a civilized nation

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I’m trying to wrap my heart around the terrorist act in Charleston, SC, that left nine innocent people dead. It isn’t easy.

In the aftermath of this horrific act, I have seen apologists for the young terrorist say he’s been withdrawn and lonely in recent years.

Others have said it was an attack on the Christian faith.

The NRA says the availability of guns had nothing to do with it.

And the flag of hate still flies at the Capitol Building in Columbia.

Nine human beings are dead, their lives snuffed out by a hate-filled young man whose father gave him the gift of a weapon for his 21st birthday.

When the terrorist is apprehended, we see him being led off wearing a bulletproof vest, just in case someone wants to hurt this poor misguided white boy.

As I looked at that image, a flood of images depicting the rough treatment and the murders of young black men came to mind. And some still have the nerve to say we are “post-racist.” I think we’re more “post-civilized.”

When President Obama said people in “other advanced nations” don’t have this kind carnage on a regular basis, I wanted to remove the word “other” from his speech.

How can we call ourselves civilized when we make excuses for white terrorists while we condone killing blacks who carry no weapons?

We have the nerve to call these victims of our racism “thugs,” while calling a blatant act of racist terror an attack on Christianity.

How can we call ourselves civilized when we allow people to die from lack of access to health care?

How can we say we’re an advanced nation when we restrict voting rights, pay workers slave wages, take reproductive decisions away from women, cut funding to education, take food out of the mouths of children by cutting food stamps, send poor children to prison for missing school and advocate indiscriminate use of guns (but only among white people)?

We are quick to blame the victims of our institutional violence — an NRA board member actually blamed the death of the pastor, a state senator, on his vote to ban guns from churches.

Want to know what’s really sad? A 5-year-old girl knew enough to play dead when she saw a white man with a gun.

I don’t care if this man has a mental illness; he got a gun and killed nine human beings because of the color of their skin. I am an advocate for people with mental illnesses —  I sit on the board of our local NAMI affiliate — but I can’t advocate for a society that shrugs off this kind of violence again and again and again …

I seriously doubt anything will be done to stem the violence in this country; I seriously doubt we as a society will move to restrict guns in any way. In fact, as this terrorist was executing black churchgoers, the general assembly here in North Carolina was debating loosening what few restrictions exist here.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how to protect my black friends or my biracial great-granddaughter, who will cheerfully tell you she’s black.

I would pray for peace, but it’s not God who will bring it. We have free will and we use it to perpetuate institutional and individual violence. It is up to us to stand up and call out people who think we need more guns and more excuses.

There is no more time for silence on these issues. Every one of us needs to work to make us a truly civilized society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tired of the hate toward poor people

I just saw a meme on Facebook asking people to “like” it of they get pissed off at seeing food stamp recipients smoking cigarettes, watching cable TV or talking on a cell phone. One of the people who shared it was the daughter of a friend, a woman I’ve known since she was born.

It broke my heart just a little to see it.

Earlier I saw a post asking if the insanity at 7 a.m. at Home Depot involved (epithet for Latinos) standing in line waiting for day labor.

I work with people every day who qualify for food stamps. They do not live in the lap of luxury.

Did you know that food stamps provide less than $5 a day? Could you eat on that?

As for the people in line for day labor, plenty of them are not Latino, and they can’t find work elsewhere. In addition, undocumented immigrants do not qualify for any government benefits. Look it up.

As for what people deserve, did you know that people with certain mental illnesses almost always smoke cigarettes? No one seems to know what the connection is, but it is there.

Cell phones are a necessity for people who can’t afford a land line. Most of the people I serve have cheap WalMart cell phones and they buy a couple hundred minutes a month. When their minutes run out, they go without a phone for the rest of the month. I have yet to see a homeless person with an iPhone.

Most people who live on disability get less than $800 a month. Try to live on that.

How’s this for a story? One woman replied to the Facebook meme saying she is home all day because of a disability, and she smokes cigarettes. The government has decided she is too disabled to try to rehabilitate, in her words. She watches cable TV because there is nothing else for her to do. Even if she could get out, she couldn’t afford to do anything.

For every poor person I’ve ever known there is a story. The people I serve are NOT lazy; they are not bums and they don’t want to be on government assistance.

But if you start out poor in this country, despite the “American dream” myth, you likely will remain poor.

Nowadays, if you start out middle class, you’re likely to sink into debt and even into poverty.

Let’s say you have a good job as an art teacher. With the funding cuts to schools these days, art is one of the first programs to go. If you get laid off, what other skills do you have? Will you be able to find another job at the pay you’re making now? Not likely. Will you be able to maintain your lifestyle on half the pay you were making — or even less?

Since you can’t go out to dinner or the movies, does that mean you don’t deserve ANY means of entertainment, even basic cable? Does it mean you don’t deserve a telephone?

Very few of us are more than six months away from financial disaster. When you see someone  who is poor and talking on a cell phone, remember you could be in that same situation very easily.

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