Writings and observations

carlson
Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

Former Governor Cecil D. Andrus said it best: I never met a deer armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

He’s well known as a sportsman who gets his elk and deer annually for the family larder, and fills the edges of the freezer with pheasants, ducks, geese, wild turkeys and chukars, all of which he hunts annually. This past fall he nailed his six-point bull elk with one shot at 340 yards.

He fundamentally supports the Second Amendment right of a citizen to keep and bear arms. He does not believe, as some interpreters of the Constitution do, that the right is meant just for a militia. That said he also believes common sense has to be applied. That means society can through Congress sanction reasonable curbs such as banning cop-killer bullets and imposing waiting periods before purchase.

The tragedy and the carnage at Sandy Hill Elementary demands at a minimum re-opening the debate on whether there should be a restoration of an outright ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles and their incredibly lethal magazines (up to a hundred rounds in some cases.).

AR-15’s and other semi-automatic rifles are built for one purpose: to kill human beings. They are neither a hunting rifle, nor usually a sporting or target shooting rifle. They are a lethal weapon meant to kill. Only police agencies and the military should have them. One can defend his castle from any home invader with a Glock 21 semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol, or a shotgun.

The problem of course is when the Brady Bill ban on the sale of these weapons and their magazines was allowed by Congress to expire, people could legally buy them and many gun collectors as well as individuals have. Common sense says we’re not going to confiscate these legally acquired weapons.

Rather than focus first on the irresolvable debate over whether stricter controls on the sale of these weapons could make elementary schools safer, there ought to be a focus on establishing ways of identifying and intervening with individuals who have mental issues and almost always are heard by someone saying they are going to exit this world and take a bunch of innocent people with them.

Meaningful intervention means society is going to have to cough up a lot more funding to address mental health issues and fund campaigns on television and radio urging people to report on “rats.” Set up toll free lines that can be directed to agencies who can legally engage in preventative detention and also direct concerned parents to services that will help them deal with a troubled son or daughter.

We also have to make part of the debate some way of discouraging these awful video games young people are consumed with playing which glorify action heroes who gun down their enemies by the hundreds. Bottom line is in our culture we glorify violence and encourage people to think they can be Lone Rangers taking the law into their own hand to wreak vengeance.

In the debate over possible restoration of the ban on automatic weapons, if not a ban then we should insist on examining better registration requirements as well as longer waiting periods before sanctioning a sale. Additionally, we should consider prohibiting gifting these weapons as well as an outright ban on their sale at gun shows across the nation.

There is no single simple answer to trying to minimize the circumstances that lead to these tragedies. Placing more restrictions on the millions of legitimate owners is simply feel good legislation that harasses the law abiding.

A combination though of both ways to identify and intervene with these deranged individuals, while making it tougher for them to acquire the kind of lethal fire power an AR-15 has to create absolute carnage seems to be a good starting point.

Let’s not fool ourselves either. It will take more money to fund properly mental health intervention programs as well as monitor the stricter controls on sales of automatic weapons and place more police “resource officers” in public schools.

We all pay lip service though to the belief that children are the future. As a society we just have no choice but to step up to the responsibility to ensure they are truly protected in their schools, their homes and on the streets. We best walk the talk.

President Obama can get the debate going by unilaterally announcing in six months he will sign executive orders placing more funding through ObamaCare into mental health prevention programs and the reinstating tighter controls on the sale of assault weapons.

Let the debate begin.

Share on Facebook

Carlson

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

“…and a little child shall lead them”
Isaiah 11: 6

The Friday of the Newtown, CT massacre, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) was having dinner with his family. Warner has been a consistent supporter of 2nd Amendment rights and has an “A” rating from the NRA. He wasn’t prepared for the question from one of his three daughters.

“Dad, what are you going to do about this?”

That’s a moment none of us – even a U.S. Senator – is prepared to deal with. The moment one of our children cuts through all the garbage – all the B.S. – and goes straight to our gut.

Here, several days after the killing, the images of faces and the descriptions of the horrible wounds that wiped away all the childish smiles are haunting. They are – at least so it seems at the moment – unforgettable. I pray that will continue to be so. That no one forgets.

I long ago learned to never ask “why” when dealing with unexpected death. Because “why” directs attention to the past. The only acceptable questions at that moment are “What now” – “What is our next step” – “How do we continue?”

“What are you going to do about this?”

Most of us are mindful of the dozens of our brothers and sisters who’re killed by guns every week in this country. We’ve become inured to the news even as more Americans are being cut down. We hear the news without hearing and file it away in some mental drawer which we only reopen to insert more of the same when it happens again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.

But my sense is things are different this time. The question from Sen. Warner’s daughter is in nearly all our minds – though still without good answers. Americans of good sense and reasonable thought are still stunned. We’re off mental balance these days later and many of us are admitting to ourselves that we don’t have the usual ready answer to a child’s question.

Even the NRA – the twisted bastion that has contorted the 2nd Amendment into a catch-all of imagined “liberties” unintended by the authors – even the NRA has kept it’s belligerent mouth shut. No angry press releases. No TV appearances. Corporate refusal of all ill-conceived requests for interviews. Removal of the NRA Facebook page and the usual incendiary rhetoric it contains. Nearly a week out and nothing. But LaPierre can’t shut up. He’ll talk shortly. And when he does, what he says will not erase the decades of hate and lies he has spewed at every opportunity. He can’t.

His 30 years of verbal garbage have helped create some of the crazies. To our Oregon backwoods shame, we have a demented voice – tragically in legislative office. He has loudly – and most ignorantly – intoned we should arm teachers. Good idea, idiot. Then our kids can cower under their desks while a historic re-enactment of the shootout at the O.K. Corral takes place over their heads. With live ammunition. He’s been joined by that intellectually ever-vacant Texan, Louis Gohmert, taking to the floor of the House of Representatives with the same crap for national TV consumption. And the other demented.

Still, for the rest of us, I get a different feel following Newtown. There seems to be a quiet determination building to tackle this shameful history of murder-of-the-innocents. More than just the usual “ban the guns” rhetoric. We’re hearing intelligent talk of legally getting rid of semi-automatics and other tools of heavy armament belonging only in the hands of the military and law enforcement. Same for the extended magazines for bullets.

More than that, prominent voices – voices of people who can make it happen – are adding thoughtful proposals for better mental health services to try to spot disaster before it happens. Those voices are louder and coming from new and different places than before Newtown.

There’s even talk of challenges to the mass entertainment and video industries by saner heads who want to stop the desensitizing of young minds to violence in the name of “fun.” We’ve heard that before. But not in the chambers and hallways where we’re hearing it today.

So far, most of this is still talk. Still just words. The TV satellite trucks are still overwhelming Newtown and the talking heads are still providing verbal “overkill.” We aren’t being spared any detail as they pry day-after-day into grief that should be private. Residents want the media out. Even some of the media want to end the siege of excess. That’s different, too.

But they’ll leave in a few days. Just as they left Aurora, Clackamas, Denver, Chicago, the Sikh Temple and the sites of all the other violent deaths. When they go – when Newtown residents return to a routine wrapped in grief, guilt and a terrible sense of loneliness – we’ll see if the words we hear today are followed through with actions tomorrow. And tomorrow.

“What are you going to do about this?”

The Senator had no ready answer for his daughter. We’ll soon see if any of us do.

Share on Facebook

Rainey