You should not have a gun

I heard about the shoot­ing in New­town, Con­necti­cut, hours after it hap­pened. I was fly­ing East that day, and had­n’t checked in with the news. I don’t know any­one involved, but I have two boys in ele­men­tary school, one a six-year-old first grad­er. I have been sad, con­fused, and angry in turns, some­times all at once.

It has been sev­er­al days, and I think I’ve come to some… con­clu­sions about what I think. Buck­le up.

First off, men­tal ill­ness is a ter­ri­ble prob­lem. Unlike with guns, it is an almost unfath­omably com­pli­cat­ed top­ic, of enor­mous impor­tance, that I am com­plete­ly unqual­i­fied to speak to. I do think that, as a coun­try, we should be able to tack­le both guns and men­tal ill­ness. Both clear­ly need the atten­tion.

But, on guns, I think this:

  • I believe that peo­ple should only have access to guns if their pro­fes­sion requires it. Yeah, I’m a lit­tle left of Lib­er­al on this. But there is no rea­son, in a civ­i­lized soci­ety, for indi­vid­u­als to own guns for any sort of recre­ation­al pur­pose. None. Try your best to give me a rea­son. I like them does­n’t count. I grew up with guns does­n’t count. I need to defend myself (from oth­er peo­ple with guns) does­n’t count. I’m part of a well-reg­u­lat­ed mili­tia and I need them to defend myself from a future totalitarian/socialist gov­ern­ment. Real­ly? Guns kill, and you can’t tell me that killing is an accept­able end goal. Pun­to final.

  • If you own a gun for recre­ation­al pur­pos­es, I will be civ­il to you (lest you, you know, shoot me), but I will not be your friend. My chil­dren will not play at your house. You had bet­ter tell me now, and get it over with. You can unfriend me and we can go our sep­a­rate ways. My chil­dren and I will be safer.

Sure, a full-on firearms ban will nev­er fly in this coun­try. I under­stand the prac­ti­cal prob­lems with my stance. A ban on assault weapons, or on high-capac­i­ty mag­a­zines, or on bul­lets, is like­ly to be much more suc­cess­ful. But I remain con­vinced that you do not need a gun. You should not have a gun. You are not safer with a gun. I am not safer if you have a gun.

Gun-relat­ed deaths in 2010 in the Unit­ed States, from the CDC:

  • unin­ten­tion­al firearm deaths: 606
  • homi­cide firearm deaths: 11,078
  • sui­cide firearm deaths: 19,392
  • total firearm deaths: 31,672

Gun relat­ed non-sui­cide deaths per 100,000 peo­ple:

  • Unit­ed States, 2008–2010: 3.97
  • France, 2009: 0.68 (17.1% of US total)
  • Italy, 2009: 0.47 (11.8%)
  • Aus­tralia, 2008: 0.26 (6.5%)
  • Ger­many, 2010: 0.16 (4%)
  • Unit­ed King­dom, 2011: 0.07 (1.7%)
  • Nor­way, 2010: 0.06 (1.5%)

Yes, in the US, you are 56 times more like­ly to die from a gun than in the UK. That does not include sui­cides.

Once they come out of hid­ing, the NRA will trot out all their usu­al tropes: guns don’t kill peo­ple, gun safe­ty train­ing is very impor­tant, every­one should have gun locks, or gun safes, or unloaded guns, or some­thing that makes your gun safer.

You know what is more effec­tive than gun safe­ty train­ing? Not hav­ing a gun. You know what is more effec­tive than gun locks? Not hav­ing a gun. You know what is more effec­tive than gun safes? Not hav­ing a gun.

You know what is safer than hav­ing a gun? Not hav­ing a gun.

The best elections links of the day (if you’re happy right now)

Here we go:

My thoughts on the election

So, the elec­tion is over. And I am pret­ty pleased with the results. I don’t have any­thing real­ly grandiose to say about it, no procla­ma­tions or pre­dic­tions, but through­out the night (I was up until 1 am local) and this morn­ing I have had some ran­dom thoughts.

There may be pro­fan­i­ty below. There will def­i­nite­ly be Lib­er­al bias, so you have been warned.

  • Dur­ing his con­ces­sion speech, I real­ized that I have no ani­mos­i­ty towards Mitt Rom­ney. I think he is an ambi­tious man used to suc­cess, and he real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want­ed to be Pres­i­dent. I think he real­ly is a mod­er­ate, and I don’t think he believes half of what he “stood for” in this cam­paign. And while it dis­turbs me that he would be so glib with his val­ues, I don’t hate him for it.
  • But Mitch McConnell can take a fly­ing leap onto the near­est free­way. Here is what he said this morn­ing, “Now it’s time for the pres­i­dent to pro­pose solu­tions that actu­al­ly have a chance of pass­ing the Repub­li­can-con­trolled House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and a close­ly divid­ed Sen­ate, step up to the plate on the chal­lenges of the moment, and deliv­er in a way that he did not in his first four years in office. To the extent he wants to move to the polit­i­cal cen­ter, which is where the work gets done in a divid­ed gov­ern­ment, we’ll be there to meet him half way.” (Source). That is such bull­shit, com­ing from a Repub­li­can Par­ty that delib­er­ate­ly, explic­it­ly, and ulti­mate­ly unsuc­cess­ful­ly stonewalled the Pres­i­dent on every­thing he tried to do, even when he moved to the right of the polit­i­cal cen­ter. I call bull­shit, Sen­a­tor.
  • I con­fess that lis­ten­ing to Oba­ma last night, I felt a lit­tle of the hopey, changey thing from four years ago. And it felt good.
  • I may have gloat­ed a bit on Twit­ter last night. But seri­ous­ly, the GOP spent the last four years active­ly deny­ing Oba­ma, try­ing to cast him as a failed Pres­i­dent, and last night they got their ass hand­ed back to them by the Peo­ple. Fuck yeah.
  • Where has Boehn­er been? Isn’t he from Ohio? Rob Port­man was pop­ping up every­where like an eager gopher, but not John Boehn­er. Curi­ous.
  • Last night, only one per­son I vot­ed for was actu­al­ly elect­ed, even all the way down to the local school board. Not the worst bal­lot expe­ri­ence I have had (that was 2004 in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka, when nobody I vot­ed for was elect­ed). I may be liv­ing in the wrong place.
  • The next gen­er­a­tion has arrived. Gay mar­riage passed in two states (after los­ing 33 times in pre­vi­ous elec­tions). Pot is (or will be) legal in Col­orado. (Source). And the youth vote car­ried Oba­ma again, just like it did four years ago (Source). So fas­ten your seat belts, Boomers, your young tat­tooed Lati­na barista is about to take the wheel.
  • Fox News, et al., was not only wrong, but dis­hon­est with their view­ers, all sea­son long. This arti­cle in the Atlantic is (lib­er­al and) very inter­est­ing. And they call us sheeple. (The Atlantic)
  • And final­ly, this. “I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re will­ing to work hard, it does­n’t mat­ter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It does­n’t mat­ter whether you’re black or white or His­pan­ic or Asian or Native Amer­i­can or young or old or rich or poor, able, dis­abled, gay or straight, you can make it here in Amer­i­ca if you’re will­ing to try.” (Tran­script source)
    See the video

I voted. Also, donuts.

Last night we got togeth­er with some like-mind­ed neigh­bors to kvetch about the elec­tion. It was tons of fun, and we are eter­nal­ly grate­ful to the host for track­ing us down (she showed up at our door with an invi­ta­tion, based on our yard signs). Then this morn­ing we got up before the crack of dawn to bun­dle the kids into the car and go vote. We actu­al­ly got there before the polling place opened (6 am!) and there was already a line of forty or fifty peo­ple. We vot­ed, I dropped every­one off at home to get dressed, and I went and got cel­e­bra­to­ry donuts.

It has been a good day so far.

Please, exer­cise your right to vote.

Take your kids to show them how impor­tant it is.

And then get donuts.

The Legacy of Nine Eleven?

Dri­ving to work today, I drove by a home in our neigh­bor­hood where they had mount­ed a huge Amer­i­can flag on a flag­pole attached to a tree. I thought of all the peo­ple who had their lives tak­en from them on 9/11/2001, and all the peo­ple who had some­one ripped from their hearts on that day.

I have vis­cer­al mem­o­ries of watch­ing the tow­ers go down. I was stu­pe­fied, hor­ri­fied, and angered. But above all, I was sad. I felt hol­low to my core.

I also gave thought, this morn­ing, to all the peo­ple who have died in the after­math of the events of that day. I am a Lib­er­al, and so I am pre­dis­posed to dis­like war, but I think every­one can find room in their hearts to decry the end results of the sec­ond war on Iraq, entered into on the pre­text of security/revenge for 9/11, but against a coun­try that was ulti­mate­ly deter­mined to have had noth­ing to do with those attacks.

Let me repeat that.

The Peo­ple of these Unit­ed States went to war with Iraq because we were told Iraq was respon­si­ble for 9/11, except that it turns out they were not. Sad­dam Hus­sein was a ruth­less dic­ta­tor, yes, killing with aban­don and with no fear of ret­ri­bu­tion. But Syr­i­a’s Assad is the same, and our coun­try has no will to fight that fight. We were told we went to war with Iraq to avenge, and pre­vent, any fur­ther 9/11s.

This is part of the lega­cy of 9/11:

  • Vic­tims killed on 9/11 itself: 2,977 (source)
  • US Mil­i­tary killed in the Iraq War since 2003: 4,409 (source)
  • Iraqi cit­i­zens killed in the Iraq War since 2003: over 100,000 (source)
    (These num­bers are from var­i­ous Wikipedia arti­cles, fwiw, and that last num­ber is the low­est of esti­mates)

Here’s what I take away from this.

Ter­ror­ists attacked our coun­try, killing inno­cent peo­ple in num­bers stag­ger­ing to behold. Almost three-thou­sand peo­ple died on that sin­gle day. In reac­tion, and for no good rea­son, we sac­ri­ficed almost four-thou­sand five-hun­dred of our bravest men and women, and had a hand in killing or pro­vok­ing the deaths of over one-hun­dred-thou­sand peo­ple, most of them as inno­cent as the orig­i­nal 3,000 who died eleven years ago.

I think today is a day to hang our heads in shame, and in anger. That we were attacked. That inno­cents have died. That we react­ed so child­ish­ly, so vio­lent­ly, with such patri­ot­ic fear. We did the work of Evil for them. We killed thou­sands of our own, and a hun­dred thou­sand inno­cents died because of us.

I am sor­ry.

And I still find myself, on this day eleven years lat­er, inef­fa­bly sad.

Good TV tonight

I absolute­ly love it when my wife claps at the tele­vi­sion. It express­es a kind of deep-felt pas­sion that my… what, my per­son­al­i­ty, won’t let me deliv­er. I fall instead at the snarky end of the spec­trum.

Tonight, she was in fine form as William Jef­fer­son Clin­ton deliv­ered (what might have been) the best speech of his career. He made all the argu­ments we have des­per­ate­ly want­ed some­one to make against the Repub­li­can plan, and in a very pub­lic forum. He crushed, as the kids put it these days.

Let me just say, I’m glad Bub­ba is on our side.

20120905-225427.jpg

Shopping at jcp this week end

I think I might need to shop at jcpen­ney more now (and we’re going clothes-hunt­ing this week end). It used to be the place we went last, usu­al­ly for a win­ter coat, if we’d bombed out else­where, but I’ve been try­ing to think more favor­ably about them recent­ly, giv­en their Apple-alum CEO. This may just have clinched it for them.

JC Pen­ney Launch­es Father’s Day Ad Fea­tur­ing Gay Dads And Their Kids

Gay Dads whoopin it up for low prices
Gay Dads whoopin it up for low prices

Pic­ture (and sto­ry) found at Joe.My.God.

This is not the religious freedom you are looking for

Atten­tion, reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tives decry­ing the gov­ern­men­t’s crack­down on your reli­gious free­dom: you’ve got it all wrong. See, you think reli­gious free­dom means you have the right to prac­tice your reli­gion wher­ev­er, and when­ev­er, you like. Not true.

Reli­gious free­dom actu­al­ly means “free­dom from reli­gion.”

Let me explain.

Clear­ly, you are free to prac­tice what­ev­er reli­gion you like. We agree on that. I can­not force you to prac­tice my reli­gion. Like­wise, you can’t make me prac­tice your reli­gion. Nobody is drag­ging any­body into a church here. Your reli­gious free­dom is actu­al­ly the free­dom to not be dragged into my church.

In oth­er words, you (or your daugh­ter) are free to not wear a hijab. Not your reli­gion, so nobody’s going to make you do it. Awe­some. That also means that my kids are free to not pray in pub­lic school. Not their reli­gion, nobody’s going to make them do it. Dou­ble-rain­bow awe­some.

So nobody impos­es their reli­gion on any­one else. Reli­gious free­dom in Amer­i­ca, as the found­ing fathers envi­sioned it. Huz­zah! Don’t you think we should all be able to agree on that?

Please apply this to your own life. And get your reli­gion out of mine. Thanks.

Go Vote

If there was one, sin­gle thing we could do to make our coun­try bet­ter, this would be it: ensure that every eli­gi­ble vot­er has the right, and under­stands the duty, to vote. Every vot­er, every vote. Can you imag­ine the upheaval if our rep­re­sen­ta­tive gov­ern­ment was actu­al­ly elect­ed by every­one it rep­re­sent­ed, not just the ones with the edu­ca­tion, the means, and the empow­er­ment to get out and vote?

Wow.

In the mean­time, won’t you be sure to vote tomor­row? Even your vote counts for some­thing.

Thanks.

One of the reasons I hate the conservatives

I was bitch­ing this morn­ing to my wife about the recent O’Donnell/Coons debate where she insist­ed the Con­sti­tu­tion did not pre­clude the gov­ern­ment from influ­enc­ing reli­gious pref­er­ence, and about the con­ser­v­a­tive reac­tion to what she said (She’s right! It does­n’t actu­al­ly say “sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State” in the Con­sti­tu­tion!), and my sev­en year-old could­n’t real­ly fol­low me, so I came up with an anal­o­gy. I para­phrase it here for an old­er audi­ence, with Ms. O’Don­nell and Mr. Coons stand­ing in for the con­ser­v­a­tive response to our ridicule of her, and san­i­ty, respec­tive­ly:

O’Don­nell: Is the sky blue?

Coons: Well, sure, but some­times it is pink, and orange, some­times it is black, or a real­ly dark blue, and when it is cloudy, it’s gray, or white…

O’Don­nell: So you’re say­ing the sky is not blue?

Coons: Well, it looks blue, but that’s actu­al­ly the light reflect­ing off par­ti­cles in the atmos…

O’Don­nell: Is this the kind of per­son you want as your Sen­a­tor? A man who says the sky is not blue?

Coons: Um…

O’Don­nell: These are the basic truths that the Democ­rats deny! The hard­work­ing work­ers of work­ing Amer­i­ca know the sky is blue. Yet you and your Gov­ern­ment impose your views on what we know is unde­ni­able. The sky, it is blue!

Coons: Fuck you.

The pre­vi­ous state­ments are not actu­al­ly by Ms. O’Don­nell or Mr. Coons, as I think she came off bet­ter in the above than in the actu­al debate.