End of the Year Wrap-Up

This is my usual view of the events of the past year.

GUN CONTROL

The past few weeks has been trying for many people in light of the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut. The loss of so many young ones at this time of year is especially heart-wrenching.

However…

Many people (especially the politicians) are taking a simplistic approach of how this horrific act could have been prevented. Take away or legislate away all firearms. Wrong thought…

Crime has been made illegal. That hasn’t stopped robbery, rape, & murder, has it?  In fact, there are parts of our major cities that the police don’t visit either because it’s too dangerous even for them.

Gun free zones haven’t made those places any safer either.  In fact, I think they are more dangerous for the wackos that want to spill blood in a bid for fun, glory, and/or whatever other sick thoughts they have.

And speaking of wackos & guns, I’m reminded of these statements made in my 2nd Amendment post:

Owning a weapon carries responsibilities. Quite frankly, there are people who should not even be near one because they are not responsible or mentally mature enough. Owning a weapon does not mean you should be able to strap one on & go out and play policeman. This is where careful licensing through education and the demonstration of qualifications is necessary.

Remember, guns don’t kill people. It’s the people who use guns that kill people. A gun is an inanimate object just like a knife, hammer, or screwdriver. It’s how it’s used and the person using it that makes the difference. And that is called personal responsibility.

I’ll make the politicians a deal – If the United States will go without one year of killings, robberies, and other crimes, I’ll give up my guns, no questions asked.

FISCAL CLIFF

Another manufactured “crisis” from our politicians that has an effect on everyone in the United States and beyond.  Our elected leaders kicked this can down the road for another year so everyone could say they did something without doing anything & still had time to hit the campaign trail.  Of course, the committees that were supposed to meet and resolve the “problem” didn’t, so now the last minute negotiations, arm-twisting, and posturing is in high form.  I’m not impressed…

David Limbaugh had this to say:

The budget debates essentially boil down to the Republicans’ desire to return the nation to financial health vs. Obama’s desire to use the government’s taxing and spending powers as tools to remake America in his image rather than to facilitate economic growth or balance the budget.

Before you write off my comments as unfairly partisan, I ask you to ponder Obama’s major negotiating demands. He is insistent, is he not, on increasing tax rates and reducing deductions for higher-income earners, even though it’s an objective fact that Obama’s plan to raise taxes on just a small percentage of Americans would not generate enough revenue to make a significant dent in our nation’s deficits or debt. He has to be demanding this change, then, for other reasons. I can think of none, other than his idea of fairness, by which he means punishing the rich, even if it won’t improve the economy or our fiscal picture.

Further, he has stubbornly resisted meaningful spending cuts and has absolutely continued to dig his heels in over GOP efforts to reform entitlements to avoid our nation’s impending financial meltdown.

I see the following possibilities for “resolving” this “crisis” –

  • A deal will be struck that largely involves kicking the can further down the road, and the politicians will be slapping each other on the back & shaking hands like their old buddies.
  • No deal, and the politicians will blame each other for the deadlock.

At no time do I expect that a full resolution to the “crisis” will be reached.  And if, by some miracle, there is any kind of resolution, you and I will pay for it in one way or another.

OBAMACARE

Part of the reason for the Fiscal Cliff will be how ObamaCare will be implemented.  The 2700 pages of legislation only provides a framework for how the Health Care is to be enacted.  That’s right – the details still need to be worked out by Congress, the Department of Health & Human Services, and the Internal Revenue Service (among others).

Some aspects of ObamaCare are known – things such as penalties, fees, and such – but for the most part, no one really seems to know what services are to be provided.  That appears to be a moving target, and that leads to a degree of uncertainty.  Which brings us to…

THE ECONOMY

Quite frankly, the economy is dismal.  With the implementation of ObamaCare (both known and unknown factors), companies are rethinking their entire hiring and retention strategies.  We are already seeing companies laying off or cutting back hours that their employees can work.  And the Unions are starting to pay attention, although not in the way you would think…

UNIONS

As many of you know, I used to belong to the UAW.  It was both good and bad, but the mindset of the Unions is that the companies that employ them exist solely to provide the Union Membership benefits and pay no matter how detrimental the terms of the contract are to the company.  They often see a company as a bottomless pit of money and benefits.  For instance –

Hostess declared bankruptcy earlier this year, citing (in part) the unwillingness of the many Unions to renegotiate contracts that would allow the company to continue business.  The Unions responded that mismanagement of the Company put them in a financial bind, and that one Union refused to any further concessions.  So now 18,500 Union members are out of work.

Way to go…

WRAP UP

That’s it for now.  What were your top issues of the year?

Newtown, Connecticut

Tom’s Place extends our condolences and sympathies to the families and victims of this tragedy.  No words can express our grief and sadness that so many young lives were cut short by such a senseless act.


From NBCNews.com:

“How can we be protected from people like this?” Jack DeFumeri wondered out loud, saying he moved to Newtown – founded in 1711 – years ago from much-larger Danbury because he wanted to raise his three daughters in a safe environment.

“I don’t know anymore,” he said before entering a vigil Friday night at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, as the church’s bell’s tolled from above. “You take precautions, but how can you see this coming? I can’t imagine what the parents are going through, especially this time of year.”

Yes, indeed – How can we be protected from people like this?  A better question would be – How can we protect ourselves from people like this?  Do you understand the difference?

The first question puts the responsibility of our family’s safety upon someone else, presumably the government via the police department.  But in the majority of instances, it’s not like the TV or movies where the police swoop in and nab the bad guy just in the nick of time.  More often than not, the police come in after the fact and clean up the mess.

The second (or better question) squarely puts the responsibility upon the individual for the protection of family and self.  It also implies that if you designate that safety to some other person, then you are responsible for vetting that person as a responsible citizen that shares your sense of worth.  And this is something that we, as a population, seem to forget – we are to bear that responsibility, not anyone else, and especially for our children.

From the sounds of it, the school allowed the gunman into a closed building – mistake number one.  The school also did not have any security or other means available for dealing with such a problem – mistake number two.  The result is a lot of carnage, and I hate to say it, but I will be very surprised if lawsuits do not result from the above mistakes made by the school administrators.

I receive email bulletins from Front Sight, a firearms training facility.  The following are excerpts from an email that I received this morning from Front Sight’s founder, Dr. Ignatius Piazza:

As Front Sight’s Founder and Director, I understand my offer to train armed school teachers may offend some school administrators and parents who do not see arming and training selected school staff members as a positive solution to violent attacks. However, historically, my approach has worked while gun control has actually increased violent crime by shifting the balance of power to favor the criminals and lunatics.

My offer is not a new idea. In the early 70’s, Israel was faced with much greater problems of armed terrorist attacks on schools. The cry for more gun control was heard then too, but Israel very carefully analyzed all possible options before adopting the proactive position of arming and training their teachers. School shootings stopped and terrorists looked for easier targets. Gun control never has and never will stop criminals and madmen from carrying out acts of gun violence.

In our country, every time a misguided individual on psychiatric drugs goes on a killing spree, anti self-defense legislators, watch the polls and exploit the dead victims in order to fool the public into accepting more gun control. It is time our country finds some resolve and the will to tackle the real problem, which is rooting out the actual influences in the lives people hat predispose them to commit atrocities. The problem is not guns. Guns don’t cause these incidents to occur any more than cameras cause child pornography or automobiles cause traffic fatalities.

An obstacle to training and arming teachers is the current law in many states prohibiting the possession of firearms on school grounds even when the possessor is qualified and has a concealed weapons license.

Understand that those laws did not prevent or stop the gun violence at numerous schools over the last ten years. The brazen attacks in school after school during the last decade indicate criminals have concluded that ‘Gun-Free-School-Zone’ actually means ‘Government Certified, Helpless and Unarmed Victim Zone.’

Most school districts cannot afford to have even one full time police officer in every school, but they can easily afford to train three or more of their selected staff members to a higher level of firearms training than offered in police academies because Front Sight will provide the training at no cost.

There is also scientific research that supports Front Sight’s stance on concealed weapon training from John Lott, Jr. at University of Chicago School of Law who published Crime, Deterrence and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns in July 1996. Mr. Lott’s research of cross-sectional time-series data from all 3054 U.S. counties from 1977 to 1992 found that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crime and appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths. If those states which did not have right-to-carry concealed handgun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, and over 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided yearly.

Now I realize that Dr. Piazza is running a firearms training facility, but he does make some valid points.  Gun-free zones only mean that law-abiding people will not carry weapons in those areas, leaving criminals and wackos free to carry out their dreams of carnage & chaos.  Gun control legislation leaves the criminals armed while the law-abiding citizenry helpless.

I hear this statement from our President, and I can only shake my head in bewilderment:

“…we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” – President Barack Obama, Dec. 14, 2012

To me, these are code words for more gun control legislation that will only restrict the law-abiding citizen’s right to protect themselves with a firearm.

But even if the politicians ban all guns, and miraculously make all guns evaporate, here’s this story from the People’s Republic of China, a country which bans ownership of guns by the citizens that should cause a pause for thought:

BEIJING — A knife-wielding man injured 22 children and one adult outside a primary school in central China as students were arriving for classes Friday, police said, the latest in a series of periodic rampage attacks at Chinese schools and kindergartens.

The attack in the Henan province village of Chengping happened shortly before 8 a.m., said a police officer from Guangshan county, where the village is located.

The attacker, 36-year-old villager Min Yingjun, is now in police custody, said the officer, who declined to give her name, as is customary among Chinese civil servants.

A Guangshan county hospital administrator said the man first attacked an elderly woman, then students, before being subdued by security guards who have been posted across China following a spate of school attacks in recent years. He said there were no deaths among the nine students admitted, although two badly injured children had been transferred to better-equipped hospitals outside the county.

No motive was given for the stabbings, which echo a string of similar assaults against schoolchildren in 2010 that killed nearly 20 and wounded more than 50. The most recent such attack took place in August, when a knife-wielding man broke into a middle school in the southern city of Nanchang and stabbed two students before fleeing.

Most of the attackers have been mentally disturbed men involved in personal disputes or unable to adjust to the rapid pace of social change in China, underscoring grave weaknesses in the antiquated Chinese medical system’s ability to diagnose and treat psychiatric illness.

In one of the worst incidents, a man described as an unemployed, middle-aged doctor killed eight children with a knife in March 2010 to vent his anger over a thwarted romantic relationship.

So folks, guns are not the problem.  People are the problem.  People are sick, lost, and not in control of themselves for whatever reason.  The sense of right and wrong is no longer a priority in their minds – only what is important to them and no one else is now the new morality.

And that is the cause that should be addressed, not whether or not a person has the right to own and use a firearm.

Goodbye, Mom.

My mother passed away this morning.  She was 81 years old.

My mom was always a fighter & strong willed.  I often thought that once she put her mind to something, no one short of God could change her mind.  There was a reason for her toughness.

In 1949, she had not one but two operations that removed the lower lobes of both lungs.  Lung operations in that day & age were often not survivable, but she beat the odds for both operations.  It’s my impression that these operations were of last resort, anything but routine, and less that 10% survivable rate.  And she was operated on twice!

Thus, she went through life with one-half of the breathing capacity of the rest of us.  But that certainly didn’t slow her down.  My father related to me that the doctors were absolutely against her becoming pregnant because of the risk to not only her, but to the baby as well.  Once again, she defied the odds (and the doctors, I suspect), and here I am.

This does not mean that she was a strict, joyless person.  Well, she was strict…but I also remember her enjoying going to garage sales looking for deals on Fenton Glass & other items for the house.  She sewed & crafted, painted & created, taking justifiable pride in her house that she kept decorated with her treasures & creations.

And I remember Mom, Dad, and I sitting around the dining room table playing games.  Sorry, Trouble, Rack-o, and Canasta were just a few of the games we played for hours on end.  And yes, she was a cheerleader for her son’s Little League games, and supporter for the high-school band in which her son played.  She loved her husband, her son, and her grandson with all her heart.

Like all families, we had our spats & disagreements, but she always stood on her principles of right and wrong, and she was more often right on just about anything.  Perhaps that was maddening for some, but she was often a source of strength for others.  I know she was for my Dad, and admittedly, for me as well.

It was hard to think of Mom as not being a strong person.  Perhaps we, as children, always think of our parents as always being there for us even after we have moved out & started families of our own.  It’s a severe mental adjustment for us to realize that our parents are mortal, people just like anyone else.

Mom had health issues most of her life, especially within the last five or six years.  Her lungs were failing, and multiple infections with hospital visits over the past three months took their toll.

I visited with her this past Monday afternoon, and got her to smile once despite the obvious discomfort that she was having breathing.  That afternoon, she was taken to the hospital where her condition steadily worsened.  She was transferred to the hospice after my father and I talked to the doctor who confirmed there was nothing more that could be done except to make her comfortable.  She reportedly passed peacefully this morning.

No matter what happens in my life, I will always remember that last little smile my Mother gave me, and the feeling of love that accompanied that smile.

Goodbye, Mom.  I will always love you.