The Las Vegas Shooting. A Tragedy That Frustrates Me On A Different Level

 

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Anger, sadness, and frustration are all understandable responses to the shootings that occurred in Las Vegas, NV last night. My heartfelt sympathies do go out to all of the family and friends effected by those lost or wounded as a result of this latest tragedy.

It did not take long for my facebook feed to fill up with messages of prayer and sorrow for the victims. The warmth and coming together that social media enables sometimes gets lost in the criticism of the form. And it is worth mentioning and encouraging.

However, not too many beats after the authentic sympathies were expressed, the usual gun control/ 2nd amendment disagreements ensued.

And while I understand it and I sympathize with it, I also get frustrated by it. I agree that we can and we should do more to prevent any shooting deaths let alone mass shootings. However in proportion to other threats. To things that all of us, today, can start doing something about, too many of us do not.

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(From 2015)

On average 11.8 people die per minute from cancer. More people will die from cancer in the time it takes someone to wake up and drink their morning coffee than in Las Vegas last night. Currently about 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in America will get diagnosed with cancer. Further, one in four deaths in America come from heart disease.

While the NRA is a huge obstacle to gun control, reform/ legislation, they do not force anyone to smoke cigarettes, which according to the CDC is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year. And while smokers may choose to smoke, the 41,000 people the CDC estimates that die due to second-hand smoke, do not. I wonder how many parents who worry about gun safety for their children smoke in their homes?

Politicians who do not enact changes to gun laws do not force you to eat processed and fast food, drink to excess, not eat vegetables, and fruits, not get enough exercise, or sleep, and so on. Cancer and heart disease combined kill well over a million people a year. Dwarfing death caused from war, terrorism, and shootings combined. But I don’t see anywhere close to the same outrage. The same calls for change to positively impact exponentially significantly higher causes of death.

Sometimes I think about if there was evidence that cancer was actually a bio weapon of terrorists, we would care more and do more to find a cure. But I digress.

Is a preventative lifestyle a guarantee? While collectively deaths could come dramatically down.  Individually, no. There is no guarantee.  But the same things that give you a better chance to avoid cancer and heart disease, also assist with diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and a host of other ailments. Aside from increasing your chances of avoiding the number 1 and number 2 killer, you can also feel better, look younger, be more productive, potentially save huge amounts of money in medical bills, and perhaps happier.

You want to change gun law? Make it harder for someone to get automatic weapons? I’m all for that. (And exploring the mental health component.) As we know this has been and will unfortunately continue to be an ongoing struggle rife with partisanship, politicization, and too much influence in the debate afforded to a powerful lobby. It doesn’t mean we do not engage it, but it is what it is.

However, for yourself, for your family, the people you love, and that love you, please take a more active role in your health and preventing these plagues from affecting you.

Cancer and heart diseases are far more likely to effect you than a shooting and they are something you can do something about right now.

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What Would You Do? A Question About Guns

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Fox NewsBill O’Reilly asked NBC’s Bob Costas if he was in that movie theater in Aurora Colorado when the mass shooting occurred, on the night of the last Batman premiere, would he prefer to have had a gun to protect himself or be defenseless hiding on the floor, hoping not to be killed?

Before I go on, here is the back-story:

In the wake of the murder suicide perpetuated by Kansas City Chiefs football play Jovan Belcher on December 1st, comments were made by NBC analyst Bob Costas during the broadcast of Sunday night football that has since sparked more debate and controversy than the heinous crime itself.  Costas was paraphrasing parts of an article written by FOXSports.com writer Jason Whitlock in which he talks about the culture of guns and that if Belcher didn’t have a gun, two more people would be alive.

Without taking sides on gun control, I can say that I do think it was inappropriate for Costas to comment when and how he did.  He was in fact “politicizing” an issue in a moment of mourning when the wounds of the tragedy were still open and sensitive to the touch.  Regardless of how you feel about the gun issue, in grand moments, when an issue captures national attention, and is of emotional concern, to borrow a sports term, it is time for a timeout, from where we disagree.

It should be a moment of coming together.  With the right sensitivity, the togetherness of the moment could then possibly be used as a means of having that serious conversation of how we can learn and improve things.  In this case, not only as it pertains to guns, but also mental illness and domestic violence.

If you’re reading this and are anti-gun or in favor of repealing the second amendment, imagine how you would have felt if instead of stating that Belcher and his girlfriend would still be alive if he didn’t have a gun, Costas spent a minute stating that Kasandra Perkins might still be alive if only she had a gun to protect herself?  Those comments would not have been appropriate either.

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I applaud Costas’ intentions.  The criticism he has faced is overstated but that is a byproduct of the sheer volume of the transmedia we have today.  It is just the way it is anytime someone veers off the politically correct course.

This criticism landed Costas in a chair opposite Bill O’Reilly and the question O’Reilly posed at the beginning of this blog.  Costas said he wouldn’t want a gun.  O’Reilly said he would.

Now that the proverbial can of worms is open, I will dive in.

My comment is this, the question posed by O’Reilly is incomplete and I would like to add another scenario.  Your choice is: to not have a gun, or for everyone in the theater to have a gun.

In this scenario maybe James Holmes never attacks that night.  But for the moment since he had body armor and superior weaponry lets assume he did.  My next question for the gun carrying audience is how well trained are they with their guns?  How accurate a shot are they?  How do they respond under this type of pressure?  Do they have an itchy trigger finger?   How will each individual respond to the shock of initial gunfire?  Will they know, immediately, who the attacker is, or might they mistake a fellow theatergoer as the attacker and shoot at them?  Or maybe they know who the attacker is but a stray bullet finds an unintended target.

The pro gun crowd likes to talk about personal responsibility and remove blame from guns.  Okay Bill O’Reilly.  If you’re in that theater and you’re carrying a gun and stand up and shoot me instead of James Holmes, you should go to jail for involuntary manslaughter and my family is suing you for wrongful death.  While I do respect your right to bear arms, you do also bear the responsibility of your actions.

Like many issues, spanning from dependency on foreign oil, social security, and immigration, gun control and its myriad of issues keeps getting kicked down the road.

And while Costas’ timing was admittedly off, he and Whitlock raise valid points about the gun culture, so rather then let that timing obscure the issue, can we have that conversation now?  Can we take action now?  Not to repeal the 2nd amendment, (I support it) but to evaluate and update its regulation, education, and enforcement?

Last question.  If you were in a movie theater.  One that was going to be attacked by a man in bulletproof body armor and assault weapons.  Would you rather everyone in that theater had a gun or that everyone did not?

What Do Guns And Marijuana Have In Common?

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora Colorado, at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, early Friday July 20th, I couldn’t help but notice the back and forth twitter and facebook chatter regarding gun control. Good, passionate people on both sides using the events of the shooting to prove their point. On the one side, “if guns were illegal or harder to get, this wouldn’t happen”. On the other side, “if you make guns illegal, criminals and nuts will still get their hands on them leaving innocent people unable to defend themselves”.

Generally speaking, it is my friends on the left that support gun control, and it is my friends on the right that support the full expression of the 2nd amendment to the constitution.

This is where marijuana comes in, and where we see a reversal of logic used to argue in favor for or against.

With marijuana, it is my friends on the left that point out that:

  • The war on drugs has failed.
  • That we cannot stop those who want to use marijuana from using it.
  • That by legalizing it, we can greatly reduce the influence of drug dealers.

Further, we can tax it, regulate it, make it safer to consume, and so on. However, my friends on the right point out the ills of marijuana and how it hurts people, contributes to the moral bankrupting of America and on and on.

So, if prohibition didn’t work. If according to the right, gun control wouldn’t work. And if according to the left (and most others) the war on drugs is not working, why do we have this inconsistency in applied reasoning?

Perhaps those that support easy access to guns would argue that there are valid legal uses for guns such as hunting and defense. However, marijuana does have medicinal uses and is capable of being used in moderation.

The point here is if regulation, taxation, and legalization are good for one, because it makes it safer, more controllable and produces revenue, while a ban is impractical, because those who want it would get it anyway, how is it not so for the other?

I’m not saying you can’t argue for or against marijuana or guns for other reasons. Nor have I expressed my opinion on either in this blog. I just felt it necessary to point out this glaring hypocrisy of reasoning.

In the absence of, or while in pursuit of stricter gun control, and in light of the failing war on marijuana, perhaps some of the energy put forth to criminalize the behavior and demonize those with whom you disagree would be better spent looking for warning signs of abuse, disengagement or aberrant behavior. Or to put it more simply, guns and marijuana aren’t going anywhere, so the question is, what is the best way to deal with it, regulate it and keep everybody safe?

Doesn’t that seem more prudent than slinging arrows or pointing out extreme nonsensical statements hyper partisans posted on their twitter and facebook pages?