Profiles in cowardice

cowardiceIt all started when President Trump was elected- actually during the 2016 campaign. It seemed that some of our own leaders had no courage in challenging a man who was obviously and clearly not fit to lead our country. Is it too late for us to correct our terrible mistake after just one year? We will see who has courage and who does not.

The past week has brought us to a new low in American democracy. Our beliefs are being challenged. Our moral courage is being challenged by a man who is unfit to lead us.

I want to talk about how lies and misinformation are leading us to a dangerous and unsafe place.

It turns out that science is actually important to the well being of the world. So is research based evidence about just about everything. In my neck of the woods, the flu epidemic is ramping up and people are getting sick. Unfortunately influenza can cause death. It has and it does. In 1918 it took the lives of millions of people around the world. Warnings are being issued that we would not be prepared for such an epidemic now if it occurred. Are we not a country and a world that sent people to the moon, built a space station, has made huge advances in cures for diseases and in technology and other such forward moving ideas?

I found this article about the influenza season and in general about what it might take to keep us safer from a possible pandemic. Note this from the article:

Washington, at the moment, is not particularly interested in science. Research budgets have been slashed, and more cuts are coming. The government spent only $75 million last year on flu vaccine research. The White House is not interested in developing a universal vaccine, the best solution if an animal flu virus infects humans and then goes viral.

Many are worried. Michael Osterholm, professor and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and Mark Olshaker, a documentary filmmaker who with Osterholm wrote “Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs,” recently sounded a full-throated alarm in the New York Times.

“We are not prepared,” they said. “Our current vaccines are based on 1940s research. Deploying them against a severe global pandemic would be equivalent to trying to stop an advancing battle tank with a single rifle.”

Sigh.

We live in a modern world and country where our very own President and his minions have dumbed down vital government agencies by appointing those who know nothing about the departments they lead. Worse yet, they want to destroy the very departments they lead. (See Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others).

Cutting funding to departments is a trick of those who hate the government. That is the case today. Anti-science sentiment could kill us- and it does.

I am currently reading Dan Brown’s latest book, Origin. One of the main characters reveals some evidence to the world that would shake up the religious leaders and espouse supposed science over religion.

It’s a fascinating read and makes one have to think about what is possible ( or impossible) based on real science and research. Edmond Kirsch, the main protagonist,  revealed his research (posthumously) and his supposed evidence that the world as we know it would end in 50 years.

It’s science based on one person’s tenuous research. It challenges what we know and what we don’t know. But in the end, facts win out. It’s fictional, thank goodness.

So where am I going with this?  Simple. What we need is common sense which is sadly and tragically lacking in the current state of an administration bent on using its’ own #fakenews to attack what they believe is #fakenews. We have a President who lies with every word he says. We have a cover-up by otherwise supposedly intelligent leaders who are supposed to protect us by acting with integrity if something goes awry.

Instead, they are making us less safe by aiding and abetting an administration that will surely implode over its’ own insanity and constant lying and offensive behavior.

Research is important. Facts are important. Science is important. Facts matter.

Since the beginning of this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, 436 Americans have died from gun homicides or “accidents” including 72 children and teens shot and killed or injured. Those are facts. Denying those facts are the corporate gun lobby and some conspiracy theorists, supported by an unstable “genius” sitting in the White House, paid for in part by the corporate gun lobby.

That same corporate gun lobby is making sure that the ATF is underfunded and understaffed so that it can’t do a proper job of monitoring gun stores, gun sales and gun shows in order to make sure there are not bad apple gun dealers selling guns to those who can’t own them. That same corporate gun lobby has made sure that the Centers for Disease Control does not get funding for research about gun violence.

As I have written about previously, there are conspiracy theorists ( one Alex Jones, friend of our President) who claim that mass shootings have not actually happened. And to make matters worse, the NRA foments fear and paranoia in order to encourage loosening gun laws, keep their own power and influence and make sure profits are good for the gun industry. According to the above linked article:

“We’re seeing the rise of a new NRA,” says Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor whose latest book, Gunfight, chronicles the battle over gun rights. “It’s long been committed to a die-hard approach to gun policy; they focused like a laser beam on Second Amendment issues. Now it’s focused on immigration, race, health care. We’re seeing the NRA become an extreme right-wing media outlet, not just a protector of guns.”

Immigration and race are the President’s new focus for his lunatic tweeting now causing a big stir all over the country ( except from the Republicans in Congress and leadership).

Denying real facts and underfunding agencies who are in place because one of governments’ most important work is to protect us from harm of any sort. It should be alarming to us all ( but isn’t to far too many) that this is the way we are going– backwards instead of foreword. It’s downright frightening.

This week has unmasked and revealed the truths that the majority of Americans have known since before our current President was elected. He is not interested in protecting us. He is actually interested in himself. With his unwitting or perhaps cynical lack of the truth and information, he is taking us to a place from which I hope we can dig out.

Lying about everything is taking us backwards and dumbing down the office of the most powerful person in the world. The circling of the wagons in order to win elections is an act of cowardice and cynicism that we haven’t seen ever in America. The list of offenses and behavior by our President is endless but here are just a few:

Attacks on immigrants of color;  outright lying about the outcomes of “tax reform”;  FISA kerfuffle; loosening gun laws and refusing to pass gun policy that is vital to public health and safety; health care debacle; attacking the intelligence and security community; nominating totally unqualified judicial nominees for political gain; attacks on current federal judges for ruling against him; firing the FBI director out of fear of the Russia probe; calling opponents demeaning names; depleting important departments that need to be staffed and funded; proposing off-shore oil drilling ( except in the state that hosts the “winter White House”; outright racism; firing scientists in agencies that rely on scientific research; bating a lunatic North Korean leader; unfounded attacks on the media; proclaiming that his “button” is bigger than the other guy’s “button”; lying about President Obama’s citizenship; claiming that White Supremacists were nice people during Charlottesville racist protests; blaming President Obama as reason for canceling London trip; fomenting about Hillary Clinton more than a year after the 2017 election; obsessing about “collusion” and potentially refusing to meet with the Special Prosecutor; denying that Russian influence in our election may have led to a flawed election and then doing nothing about it to protect the integrity of our democracy.

In a meeting with a few leaders working on a compromise on immigration and DACA, our President demeaned and attacked citizens of Africa and Haiti by using the word “shitholes” to describe where they live and said that he didn’t want Haitians here. Did he remember that today is the 8th anniversary of the earthquake there that killed 300,000 people and left others to leave for a better place to live?

What I have heard today about the President’s words are the following adjectives:

abhorrent….despicable…disgusting…vile…offensive…undignified…unPresidential…repugnant…appalling…outrageous…vulgar…racist…paranoid…lying…profane…deplorable…(Speaker Paul Ryan used the weak word- unhelpful)…lunatic…ridiculous…and many more.

Where are the voices of common sense? Where are the Republicans? They are making apologies for an unhinged President whose tweets are making us less safe and calling attention to his lack of decorum, curiosity, morality, intellectual reasoning, filters, social skills, and understanding of consequences to name just a few.

And the worst of all of this is that he is getting away with it, thanks to the acts of cowardice exhibited by those in his own party, cowering in front of the Emperor who is actually wearing clothes that they can’t see.

Yes, he is an unusual President. That is the least of our worries.

And because this is a blog about the issue of gun violence I will end with just one more of the many incidents that point to the reason we need to educate the public about how easy it is for kids and teens to access guns they should not have and use them either on intentionally or not to harm others.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, some teens were riding around in a car when one of them was shot. They lied about what happened but they didn’t get away with it. The bullet was shot from the back seat of the car by one of the teens who injured another.

Teens should not have access to guns. But they do because we have failed our own children about how risky gun ownership can be. Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult. We are failing to keep our children safe from senseless injury and death.

This is not normal or inevitable. This is insanity itself. Because we are ignoring science, research and common sense, innocent Americans are dying and being wounded by bullets every day in numbers that are epidemic. Ignore it at our peril.

We must insist on research and science if we care about our children and grandchildren. The fact that some are preventing us from understanding and knowing the truth is an American tragedy.

We can hide but we can’t escape the consequences of purposeful and cynical lying and obsequious behavior by our very own elected leaders. This must change for the future of our country. We are now dangerously close to living in a country described in the novel 1984

Intolerance of “others” and hatred and racism has caused enough trouble in America. The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of hate groups and the numbers are not reassuring given the current atmosphere. Unfortunately for us, our own President is fomenting this and more to others who feel the same way. The most frightening thing about this is that many in his base are the gun rights extremists who may just act out their own fear and paranoia if it’s continuation by our nation’s leader and the gun extremists amongst us is allowed.

Guns and hate never go together. Guns and anger never go together. Guns and intolerance of others never go together. Guns and fear and paranoia never go together.

Stand up and show some courage Republicans. Where are you? You are a profile in cowardice.

We are better than this.

UPDATE:

Because this editorial in the Star Tribune is so relevant to what I wrote, I am including it in my post:

Trump’s latest “hate-filled things” have already reverberated internationally. In just a few examples, a spokesperson for the African Union told the Associated Press, “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.” Botswana’s government called Trump’s comments “reprehensible and racist.” And South Africa’s opposition leader added that “the hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.”

The slight against Africans comes at a time when China, America’s chief geopolitical rival, is making great inroads by investing in — and respecting — numerous nations on the continent. Trump’s comments only make the job harder for America’s already beleaguered diplomats.

How much longer can our democracy withstand the leadership of a man unfit to be in the office of leader of the free world?

Real people die every day

GVA
From the Gun Violence Archive

So every day people die of something. Opioid addiction is now killing about as many Americans as do guns. Sometimes the two go together. I have heard from some Police Chiefs that guns also come along with the drugs. Why? Good question. Intimidation? Potential vindictiveness if a drug deal goes wrong? What we do know is that guns and drugs do not go together- they are a dangerous combination.

And please take note of the linked article above as it comes from research by the Centers for Disease Control which is allowed by Congress for the drug/opioid epidemic. Not so for gun deaths and injuries. Why? The NRA and corporate gun lobby of course. Thanks guys.

Apparently it would interfere with the national narrative about gun rights and the money and influence that come to lapdog politicians doing the bidding of the corporate gun lobby if we knew the truth about gun deaths and injuries. And maybe we would see more photos, stories from families, and get into the causes so we could prevent at least some of the deaths. For that is what public health epidemic research is all about.

I am thankful that the Gun Violence Archive is keeping track of gun homicides ( they do not include suicides in their numbers) so we know what is happening around the country.

When I wrote on New Year’s,  there were zero Americans killed by gun violence in 2018 at that point.  Not so now. It didn’t take long, according to the Gun Violence Archive, to report on the numbers. So far in 2018 ( it’s Jan. 5th) 144 Americans have died from gun homicides. That’s about 30 a day. That’s an epidemic.

The thing is, these numbers represent real people with real families who loved them and will miss them terribly.

For the life of me, I don’t get how gun rights extremists don’t get that about gun violence. Is it really true that a certain number of gun deaths should be tolerated so they can have unfettered gun rights? If so, shame on all of us for letting that be the narrative being allowed to fester.

The narrative is and should be that gun violence is a public health epidemic, period. The numbers are increasing, in fact, of gun incidents, gun deaths and injuries. Did you look at the image at the top of this post? These are not fabricated or #fakenews. They are real.

From 2014 to 2017, looking at the chart above, there was a pretty significant increase in all categories of records kept by the Gun Violence Archive. Why are we not alarmed by this? And if we add the number of suicides, we are looking at a large number of Americans dead because of firearms and access to them by so many people. More guns=more gun deaths.

I say we go for common sense in 2018 and not allow ourselves to be silenced by those who want to confuse the public health epidemic of gun violence with the second amendment. We already know that the public is with us on the issue so our job is to get them to become louder and more committed to the gun issue in 2018. It is an election issue and should be raised wherever there are candidates running. Don’t let anyone run away from the issue just because they are afraid of the minority opinion. Tell them the truth but first learn the truth and become familiar with the facts.

Contribute your time, energy, talents and money. The NRA raised a record amount of money in 2016 to get Trump and their lapdogs elected and look what we got:

Trump made fears about gun violence a central part of his campaign, but as president he has done little to curb that violence. At the same time, he has methodically, if quietly, taken steps to relax gun control policies. The Justice Department tightened the definition of who qualifies as a “fugitive from justice” when it comes to gun ownership, in effect making it easier for certain people with arrest warrants to possess firearms. The Interior Department removed a ban on hunting with lead ammunition on federal lands. And a bill signed last February prohibited the Social Security Administration from reporting recipients with mental impairments to a national background-check database. The NRA applauded the latter two actions.

Sigh.

We got politicians beholden to the dangerous agenda of a corporate and influential lobby that must be paid back with loyalty and laws that will make us all less safe.

And then use real stories and talk about the victims. If we don’t do that, we haven’t done enough. They are all around us every day. The Brady Campaign has posted many of these real stories in videos and narratives. Other organizations are doing the same thing. The gun lobby does not like these victim stories and they don’t like it when the narrative moves towards ways to prevent gun violence right after a mass shooting or an “everyday” shooting. Why not? If we waited until there were no shootings we would never talk about it. That is what they want.

People like me are telling our stories. Our stories are of real family members who we loved and who we miss dearly. My sister’s family and friends will never forget her vivacious personality, her beautiful face, her adventuresome nature, her artistic ability, her love of sports and exercise and her love for her family.

Real people are shot every day. Don’t ever forget that.

“Celebrating” our unique American gun culture

Today we celebrate Independence Day. And since I write about guns and gun violence, I am suggesting that we could also celebrate saving lives through common sense gun measures that won’t take away the freedom to lawfully own a gun. This freedom should be extended to those who are responsible and can prove they can be safe with their guns. And we can do this, much like other advanced countries have done. The fact that we haven’t is unique to America- and not in a good way. Reasonable people can put their heads together to reduce the daily carnage due to reckless and irresponsible gun use and ownership. So on this national holiday, consider common sense and common ground.

I have included a meme in this post with some “language” but it gets to a point that needs to be made.

The image at the end of this post been posted on social media sites. The language is not mine. It is a quote from gun owner and author Stephen King who supports common sense gun measures and is not afraid to say so. His quotes get to the inanity of our gun culture:

“How paranoid do you want to be? How many guns does it take to make you feel safe? And how do you simultaneously keep them loaded and close at hand, but still out of reach of your inquisitive children or grandchildren? Are you sure you wouldn’t do better with a really good burglar alarm? It’s true you have to remember to set the darn thing before you go to bed, but think of this — if you happened to mistake your wife or live-in partner for a crazed drug addict, you couldn’t shoot her with a burglar alarm.”

Inanity with guns kills people. Some days you could almost laugh if you didn’t cry about the stupidity of some people with their guns. For example, in what possible way could a loaded gun be in any way similar to a cup of coffee? Check out what this Florida man said when arrested for carrying his loaded gun around at Daytona Beach:

Ray was charged with misdemeanor open carrying of weapons, the arrest affidavit said.

Ray also did not have a concealed weapons permit, police said. The weapon had a 30-round magazine with a round in the chamber, police said.

Police said Ray was trying to “push the envelope as to what is lawful under Florida law, and to gain a reaction from the public and law enforcement.”

Ray said he was not trying to hurt anyone and is a big proponent of Second Amendment rights.

He said if guns were everywhere, people would be more comfortable being around them.
“It’s like a cup of coffee,” he said. “People are not afraid of a cup of coffee. They know what it is. It’s everywhere. If guns were everywhere criminals will think twice about taking people’s lives.”

When a patron at the Burger King on North Atlantic Avenue asked Ray why he was carrying the gun, he replied that it was “to guard against all the crazies out there,” records show.

Just when you thought you’d heard everything. I guess the gun lobby has succeeded in so dumbing down the arguments about gun owning and carrying that even this seems to make sense to some. I don’t have to get into why a loaded gun with a 30 round magazine carried on one’s person is different from carrying a cup of coffee around do I? But this craziness is what gives some of the gun extremists their excuse for what they are doing. There is no excuse. Anyone with common sense understands that the average American is just not going to get used to people carrying assault rifles around where they live, play, work, learn, shop and worship. Why? Because in the real world, there are people carrying these things into the places where we are with our families who have shot and killed people. I don’t know about you but if I see someone carrying a cup of coffee around, I know for sure I won’t be killed by that person with the coffee in his/her hands. It is simply not normal for people to be carrying loaded assault rifles around in public.

This July 4th holiday there are warnings out about possible ISIS attacks in America. Why wouldn’t a member of a terrorist or hate group also walk around on our streets with a loaded assault rifle in public places with evil intent? How will we know the difference?  We also have our own “home grown” terrorists ready to commit heinous acts and hate crimes. Our country just experienced one of the most awful hate crimes in recent history in Charleston, South Carolina. It was one young man, loaded with hate, intolerance, racism and anger and also a loaded gun.

For more American gun inanity check out the comments made by House Speaker John Boehner after the House voted to block any funding for the CDC to do research into the causes and effects of gun violence:

Listen, the CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect the public health. I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. And guns don’t kill people; people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual, not blame the action on some weapon. Listen, there are hundreds of millions of weapons in America. They’re there. And they’re going to be there. They’re protected under the Second Amendment. But people who use weapons in an inappropriate or illegal way ought to be dealt with severely.

“I’m sorry but a gun is not a disease….” Really? Can we dumb down the conversation any more than this? You can almost see the strings attached to Boehner’s arms with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre behind the curtain moving Boehner’s mouth. This is so ridiculous as to be unbelievable. But this is the unique American gun culture that we celebrate along with other American “freedoms” and ways of like.

A gun is not a disease. It’s also not a cup of coffee. Or a spoon.

But the mayhem and tragedy caused by people with guns is surely a disease in America. It is a public health epidemic that we are ignoring at our peril. What we can’t do is let elected officials get away with their nonsensical statements about guns and gun violence that belie the facts. And we can’t let people who are carrying loaded assault rifles around in public get away with their swaggering attempts to “normalize” what they are doing. They are a distinct minority who have been led to believe that they have a right to do this because… second amendment. This nonsensical reasoning is an insane interpretation of the amendment and does a disservice to the founding fathers who wrote our Constitution.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, whose confirmation to become our Surgeon General was held up by the gun lobby because he dared to state the obvious- that gun violence is a public health issue, said it again at a recent conference:

“I said that gun violence is a public health issue, and I’ll say it again today.”

Dr. Murthy is right. He is about changing the conversation in American. Gun violence and the toll it takes on our communities is very real. It’s not going away but we can at the least try to reduce and prevent some of it. Not to do so is unpatriotic.

The thing is,we can have a gun culture and we can have guns. We have more of them than any other advanced country not at war. But we can also have common sense when it comes to regulating guns and their owners. Most gun owners are safe and use their guns for recreation and sport. But enough of them are not that we owe it to our American values to prevent them from shooting their own family members, or black people in a church, or movie goers, or young school children, or people who practice a different religion, or college students or people shopping in malls, or themselves….. And that would also be an American thing to do.

This week-end we will be celebrating our country’s independence. It’s obvious that freedom and liberty mean different things to different people. I think we can all agree though that none of us want to be shot. Passing sensible legislation to keep guns away from people who should’t have them does nothing to take away the freedoms of those who do not have bad intent. But when the conversation is dumbed down and the research is blocked so that we can’t, as a country, deal with our public health epidemic of shootings, that takes away the ability to be free from devastating gun violence.

Let’s get this straight. The NRA/corporate gun lobby has foisted a huge deception on Americans and most especially on our elected leaders. Please read this Washington Post article about the difference between what they say and what is actually happening in the real world of gun violence.It was written by a woman who took an NRA self defense class:

The NRA’s approach to personal safety assumes crime can be prevented by ever-present fear. The instruction suggests that threats are everywhere beyond our front door, making the advice impractical for anyone interested in leaving her home. Rather than refusing to be a victim, the seminar can make one feel as though they’re always a victim.

An entire section of the course manual is devoted to telling people never to open their home’s doors to strangers, even a UPS driver who needs a signature. And yet, a subsequent chapter advises people who are being followed to “go to the nearest lighted building or home for help.” What if the nearest home is occupied by a person who follows NRA advice and doesn’t open the door for strangers? We were advised to have a hotel employee accompany us to our rooms, yet beware of someone who may be posing as a hotel employee as a ploy to gain access to our rooms. (…)

The impracticality of the NRA’s advice aside, its rules aren’t an effective way of preventing most interpersonal crime. The course suggests that, to avoid becoming a victim, you should fear strangers. But most violent crimes are committed by a relative, friend or acquaintance of the victim. Every piece of safety advice the NRA gave would be relevant only if the assailant was a stranger, and yet nearly two out of three violent crimes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.

Further, what epidemic of violence in public restrooms and hotel rooms justifies always employing a buddy system? Certainly, you can find news stories about crimes committed in these places, but generally, crime statistics show that public areas are safe. Just 12 percent of violent crimes are committed in commercial areas – including bars, gas stations and banks – and just 0.1 percent occur in hotel or motel rooms, according to federal data. Meanwhile, 43 percent of violent crime occurs in or near a familiar private residence, whether your own, a friend’s or a relative’s.

The gun lobby is purposely hiding the facts or blocking ways to find them. I know for a fact that the gun violence that affected my family was committed in a home and committed by someone who knew and once loved my sister who was also a “law abiding” gun owner until suddenly he wasn’t. Should my sister have been more afraid of all of those monsters, zombies, felons or whoever is lurking in public bathrooms and hotel corridors than she was of her estranged husband?

Mike the Gun Guy also takes issue with the NRA’s notion of gun safety. He wonders about the ASK campaign and the BeSmart program, both programs encouraging safe storage of guns. The reason? The NRA’s safety program wants people to have their loaded guns at the ready at all times. This just does not work when locking guns securely away from kids and teens. It’s a unique American conundrum but one that does not have to totally befuddle us and stop us from acting in the interest of public health and safety like virtually all other countries have done.

What is the answer here? More guns are not making us safer. The gun lobby promotes more guns and in many cases, more loaded guns around wherever gun owners determine there is fear for their personal safety (everywhere).

Where is the common ground? Clearly the conversation has to change in order to change our unique gun culture. On this July 4th holiday, let’s think about how that can happen.

The incidents below are incidents involving “law abiding” gun owners. In no other country would these incidents be allowed or the people involved in them to have guns in the first place.

A 90 year old Florida man was arrested for threatening someone with his gun. He was a “legal” gun permit holder who did not have his right to carry taken from him 5 years ago when he threatened someone else. He shouldn’t have had a permit or a gun. Was he in any kind of state to handle his responsibility with that gun and that permit? Luckily no one got hurt but is that the point? In America …rights trump public safety.

A Vermont firearms instructor was seriously injured when one of his students shot him. The article does not mention if he was armed at the time. The woman was adjudicated mentally ill so couldn’t legally own firearms. But she could use a gun at a gun range because no background checks are required to shoot guns at a range in Vermont. This article is the “poster child ” for all that can go wrong in our unique American culture of guns.

Or this Iowa gun owner- Didn’t we determine just recently ( and for decades before that)that the display of Confederate flags can be incendiary and racist? And when guys with guns worship that flag, it could mean all sorts of bad things. Come on. We all understand why he was doing this. The fact that our laws allow for this kind of offensive behavior should be a wake-up call to us all. But here is his excuse:

He tells Siouxland News he’s is doing this to show support for the first and second amendment.

He says he’s been walking at least once a week since 2011, mainly in Le Mars, but he has walked in Sioux City and Iowa City.

Cornish adds that all he sees in the media is negative stories and not much support for the first and second amendment, so this is a way for him to show support for the open carry law.

America is better than this. Our founding fathers did not anticipate their words being twisted to support the kind of behavior exhibited by stupid people with guns and the corporate gun lobby whose main mission has little to do with keeping America safe from senseless violence and everything to do with protecting the gun industry. From the linked article:

It is time for opponents of gun control to stop mindlessly shouting “The Second Amendment!!” as if that ends the discussion. It does not. Just as there is no First Amendment right to falsely yell fire in a crowded theatre, there is no Second Amendment right to carry an AK-47 there.

And that is only the beginning of what the Second Amendment does not guarantee.

Extreme behavior like the one in the article above, using the excuse that the second amendment gives him the right, should not be tolerated by an America dealing with the epidemic of gun violence and racism that should be of great concern to us all.

So on this Fourth of July, I urge you to think about how the world has changed since our Constitution was written and why we need to look at the enduring words written by the authors in the context of current reality.

Stay safe out there. Beware of people carrying spoons and cups of coffee. You never know what might happen. And don’t catch the gun disease.

Stephen King quote

As if by providence, I just came across this article about the “social gun culture” in America showing who the average gun owner is in America and where the guns are found for the most part. This researcher is thinking as I am:

Kalesan’s study defined “social gun culture” as a phenomenon in which friends or family would think less of you if you didn’t own a gun, and if your social life with friends and family involved guns. Any survey participant who answered “yes” to any of these statements was categorized as being part of social gun culture.

Figuring out the dynamics at play in social gun culture, according to Kalesan, will be key to sparking social change about the attitudes and practices that inform gun ownership in the first place. She said educating Americans about the health dangers of having a firearm in their homes will change the way people feel about gun ownership, which in turn could drive laws that make guns more difficult to obtain.

“A public health approach, much like the anti-tobacco effort, is necessary, first to facilitate a social change and then political will to form effective policies,” Kalesan told HuffPost. “We also need research to understand the public health consequences in different communities and to identify effective social interventions in different populations.”

And the bottom line for the writer of the article is this:

“In 2013 alone, 33,636 persons were killed using a gun, while 84,258 were shot non-fatally,” said Kalesan. “Those who are injured have a difficult journey during recovery, some remaining paraplegic and injured often with PTSD for the rest of their lives.”

Nothing more needs to be said.