The Schooler Murder. Where did he get a gun?

Reverend William Schooler was killed by his mentally ill brother, Daniel Schooler in Dayton Ohio on Feb 18, 2016 with a gunGive or take, this is what I wrote on Facebook on Sunday night. I’m still trying to gather my thoughts about this.

I’ve know Reverend Schooler for at least 25 years.
He was gunned down by his mentally ill brother in his church on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016.
I can’t think of a sadder story.
Schooler was one of the more pragmatic and practical of the Black Ministers- and one who cared more about the people in this community- and especially kids- than most of the others.
I don’t know how many high school sporting events I ended up sitting next to him- and he’d put his arm around my shoulder and say, “Now, listen to me David…” as if I had any other choice.
I didn’t always agree with him, and I don’t think that the school board made the right decision picking him over 8 others- including my ex- who would have been awesome on the board- but, I know that his heart was always in the right place.
I can’t fathom what drove his brother to do this.
The hell he’ll have to live through when he realizes what he’s done…
and how this is going to affect his family- forever.
I don’t believe in heaven- or hell, but I know Bill did. And I know he’s happy to meet his maker- and to be free of the earthly constraints of his spirit.
Our community has lost a big heart- and a good man.
And it’s going to take me a long time to stop feeling a sense of loss, due to this needless shooting.

The first reports in the Dayton Daily news had Bill’s name, but, for some reason, it took them until evening to realize he was a former school board member, a teacher, a principal, a decorated Vietnam Veteran. The institutional knowledge base of the local “if it bleeds, it leads” news departments is deplorably thin. But, this was the kind of story that makes the front page. They love a good tragedy.
How many things had Bill done over the years in this community that didn’t make the front page that made a bigger impact? We’ll be reading about this for a while.

Schooler, and when you said “Schooler” everyone knew who you were talking about, was a master people person. He’d share connections, insights, and counsel with almost anyone who sought his help. I first met him in 1993 when I was running for mayor. He was helping Mark Donelson, who was the husband of Sherie McLin then, who was running for commission along with Reverend William Augman. Dean Lovelace was in that race, and pulled out to move into a special election to fill the seat that Mark Henry vacated mid-term. The incumbents were Tony Capizzi and Dick Zimmer.

The West Side was foreign to me then. Between Donelson and Schooler, I got my first hints of how it worked, didn’t work, the ministers, the projects. I remember riding to events with Donelson where he would detour and take me through parts of town that I didn’t feel that safe in. Mark, who was known as “Hollywood” and Schooler knew everyone. I saw Yuma Place, Arlington Courts, Hilltop, The Bass – with the windows open, and rolling slow. That we had a housing project with the nickname “Gangster Courts” almost seemed sickly romantic- as if there was some kind of glamour to it. I was young, dumb, naive, innocent and blind to how rough some parts of town were. They opened my eyes. All these years later, some of these places are gone, and have parks on them. I go there and hang green basketball nets. I don’t fear my city anymore, some of that comes directly from Schooler.

I never met Bill’s brother Daniel. I did meet Mark Donelson’s brother, Ron Ragland (It’s been a long time, I hope I’ve got his name correct) many times. He was murdered in a domestic dispute years ago, still a young man.

There is a common denominator here, black men dying by gun violence. Or as my friend, artist James Pate calls his series on the subject, “Kin Killing Kin”– there is no mistake about the abbreviation KKK for this story- it’s no longer the Klan killing off our black community, it’s the community killing itself.

All this twisted path to come down to this:

Court records show Daniel Schooler has a troubled and violent past. In 2001, he was charged with felonious assault with a firearm specification and carrying a concealed weapon, according to Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records.

Source: Pastor-slaying suspect described as ill, violent

There were other assaults, there were other instances where Daniel Schooler beat people, did time in prison, and the judge even questioned his mental state then:

“Court documents note Schooler “may be mentally ill and in need of treatment.” He was sentenced to five years of probation.

I’ve made my stands on the 2nd Amendment pretty clear over the years. I believe in the whole amendment, not partial interpretations.

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

To me, this means, as part of an organization, that meets regularly, and has been fully trained in the proper and safe use of arms, may keep them- in an armory, that is guarded and manned, 24-7 by members of said militia. Being a “strict constructionist,” (thank you Judge Scalia for that esteemed BS)  I also believe that the ownership of arms is limited to the type of firepower that was available at the time of the writing- which means slow to load, single shot, limited accuracy. The right of the people to keep and bear arms- does not include TOW missiles, Claymore mines or nuclear arms- which means, that the right to own a semi-automatic pistol isn’t legitimized anymore by this insane idea that owning weapons makes us some kind of special.

The only thing special about arms ownership in America, is that you are much more likely to die by a gun than in any other civilized, industrialized country in the world. Need proof? Look no further than Bill Schooler, a man of the cloth, a teacher, a decorated veteran.

There will be a trial, unless Dan Schooler either kills himself in jail, or someone else does it for him. We’ll find out thatmentally unstable. He may get sent off to a forensic psych ward, or to prison for the rest of his miserable life. None of this will bring back his brother. We’ll be throwing a lot of good money after bad, trying to make an example out of Daniel, trying to get our ounce of flesh, to do the eye-for-an-eye thing- where everyone will end up blind.

None of that matters.

The only thing that matters is how did he get the gun? Where did he get the gun? Who’s gun was it? And, that’s the person who should be standing trial.

But, sadly, that too is just smoke and mirrors. We’ve done this to ourselves. One gun, one bullet, one fucked up interpretation of twenty seven words, written long ago, by people who we’ve somehow deified, who had no clue of the carnage that would become our county in the name of  “security of a free State” in which there is no true protection from these acts of senseless violence that have taken a good man away from us for no good reason.

Schooler, if you can hear me, I will not forget you.

What a right to bear arms means- really.

For years, I’ve tried to argue about the 2nd Amendment by bringing up the part most skip- “a well regulated militia” and gotten nowhere. Today, Aloysius Schneider from Centerville made the argument absolutely clear in his letter to the editor- I’m reposting:

A lesson in gun ownership

Re: “Reader: Militia ‘is every able-bodied man’,” Jan. 13: For those who think that the Second Amendment is a God-given right to universal unrestricted gun ownership, it is instructive to read the Articles of Confederation. The letter writer interprets “A well-regulated militia” as every able-bodied man. What about able-bodied women?

One can get a better feel for what the founding fathers had in mind by reading Article Six of the Articles of Confederation: “No vessels of war shall be kept in time of peace by any State, except such number only as shall be deemed necessary by the United States in Congress assembled, for the defense of such State or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State, in time of peace, except such number only as in the judgment of the United States in Congress assembled shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defense of such State; but every State shall always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutred, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field-pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition, and camp equipage.”

It is obvious that what the founders meant by “militia” is equivalent to our National Guard, not every able-bodied man.

And none of the rights enumerated in the Constitution are God-given. God is never mentioned in the Constitution beyond the requirement that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” and “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The rights were granted by citizens assembled, not by God.



If you want to own a gun, first qualification should be military service. Once returned from service, you can continue to train at the local armory, where your weapons are stored and guarded, around the clock. Regular qualification is required, as is annual training.

Hunters in rural areas would be allowed to have a shotgun (non-automatic) a rifle (bolt action) in the home, provided they have a safe. Any additional weapons, would be kept in the County armory. Qualification would be required annually.

Go ahead- let me have it.


Republicans making sense…

If you listen to the “debates” of those who want to be our president, you hear a lot of banter. You hear a lot of he said/she said. You hear things that are pulled out of their rear ends for shock and awe and front-page headlines. Very rarely, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, do you hear a case being presented for solutions that challenge the way we think or should think about issues.

I had a hard time accepting Arnold Schwarzenegger as a serious candidate for governor of California for all the wrong reasons. Just having a high Q-score should not a candidate make, but read this post he had on Facebook- and see if it makes sense to you. He reframes the discussion of renewable energy, dependence on fossil fuels in a way that even a moron should understand, and for that, he deserves a gold star.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change.

December 7 · Public I see your questions. Each and every time I post on my Facebook page or tweet about my crusade for a clean energy future, I see them. There are always a few of you, asking why we should care about the temperature rising, or questioning the science of climate change. I want you to know that I hear you. Even those of you who say renewable energy is a conspiracy. Even those who say climate change is a hoax.

Even those of you who use four letter words.
I’ve heard all of your questions, and now I have three questions for you.
Let’s put climate change aside for a minute. In fact, let’s assume you’re right.
First – do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution? That’s more than murders, suicides, and car accidents – combined.
Every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from fossil fuels. Do you accept those deaths? Do you accept that children all over the world have to grow up breathing with inhalers?
Now, my second question: do you believe coal and oil will be the fuels of the future?
Besides the fact that fossil fuels destroy our lungs, everyone agrees that eventually they will run out. What’s your plan then?
I, personally, want a plan. I don’t want to be like the last horse and buggy salesman who was holding out as cars took over the roads. I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged. That’s exactly what is going to happen to fossil fuels.
A clean energy future is a wise investment, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either wrong, or lying. Either way, I wouldn’t take their investment advice.
Renewable energy is great for the economy, and you don’t have to take my word for it. California has some of the most revolutionary environmental laws in the United States, we get 40% of our power from renewables, and we are 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the country. We were an early-adopter of a clean energy future.
Our economy has not suffered. In fact, our economy in California is growing faster than the U.S. economy. We lead the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech.
I have a final question, and it will take some imagination.
There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.
I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.
I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice – who would ever want to breathe those fumes?
This is the choice the world is making right now.
To use one of the four-letter words all of you commenters love, I don’t give a damn if you believe in climate change. I couldn’t care less if you’re concerned about temperatures rising or melting glaciers. It doesn’t matter to me which of us is right about the science.
I just hope that you’ll join me in opening Door Number Two, to a smarter, cleaner, healthier, more profitable energy future.

Source: I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change.

I got the lead on this from subscribing to Seth Godin’s blog. I find it a nice daily reminder that there are other intelligent people out there questioning the status quo.

Now, does my “Walk to work tax credit” sound sensible to you?


Shoot first, answer questions later?

There used to be cops who spent their entire life on the streets and never drew their service weapon. Those days are gone.

The very idea of unholstering a firearm- and pointing it at someone only means one thing- you are prepared to shoot someone. That person, has to be an immediate threat to someone’s life- an imminent danger- and then, and only then, would you be OK to shoot. At least that used to be the equation.

Guns on the streets weren’t an everyday occurrence- unless of course, you were a criminal. And despite all these people going out and getting CCW licenses- those guns aren’t out on display- they’re concealed. And since Ohio is an “Open Carry” state- it’s actually legal to walk around with your hand cannon strapped to your side- even if it does make people uncomfortable.

But lately- toy guns in black men’s hands are an instant death sentence- whether in Walmart in Beavercreek or in Cleveland on a playground.

In Dayton on Christmas eve, a 20-year-old black male was arrested for “waving a toy gun around.”

Bennie Coleman, 20, was arrested on Tuesday morning and booked in Montgomery County Jail. Police observed him in a firing stance, pointing the gun at passing motorists and waving the gun back and forth from left to right, according to a Dayton police report.

via Man arrested for pointing fake gun at drivers| Dayton, OH Crime |

He was in jail on Christmas day- for “inducing panic” with a $2,500 bail and awaiting arraignment on a parole violation. Now on the 27th- it’s up to $5K. Apparently- toy guns are now weapons, because, well, any criminal could just paint the tip of a real gun orange to “fool police.”

Fooling police? Really?

The riot cops in Ferguson were shown in photos acquiring targets with military grade weaponry. This began a debate on military “technology” transfer to local police departments, not the fact that they were lining up their sights on targets- without an imminent threat.

Let’s talk about the imminent threat to a civil society- the breakdown of law and order. When the rules become so fluid, and get applied haphazardly- they begin to have no meaning. How does Bennie Coleman end up in jail for more than 48 hours for a toy gun- while my neighbor, Brandon, Demolition Derby, Crouch- is out in 48 hours when caught with a real gun? Is that one is black and the other white? Is it that our laws aren’t really laws anymore? We already assume the wealthy don’t get the same treatment from the courts that the poor do- hence people like Mike Peppel who stole millions- got 7 days in jail while a poor grocery clerk- threatened with 40 years.

Since the “war on drugs” began, we’ve taken a draconian puritanical approach- criminalizing mind-altering substances as if they are a threat to the health and welfare of every person in this country. Our heavy-handed approach to this “problem” has put record numbers of people in a very expensive prison system- at an alarmingly racially disparate rate. Yet after forty plus years, no one has stopped to ask if this program is working? Is it making us safer? Is it solving the problem? The answer to both is no.

Stand back and think about what it means to live in a country that puts incarceration over education, incarceration over health care, and ask if the fundamental problems we face aren’t our own doing?

We’re creating a permanent underclass of perpetually under-employable people with our system of mass incarceration. We’re taking away all hopes and dreams of an equitable and just future for an alarmingly large percentage of our population. If the number 1 in 32 doesn’t make you wonder- that’s the number of people who are either incarcerated, on parole or probation.

We’ve created more police apparatus to “keep us safe” since 9/11- with the entire department of Homeland Security- a multibillion-dollar operation that ostensibly is here to protect us from outside threats. Our local threats- well, we don’t really want to talk about those.

We’ve been shooting first for a long time- at a self-defined target, chosen by a politician to create mass hysteria and a revision of our social engineering. While every other civilized country treats drug addiction as a mental illness- we treat is as a crime. While every other industrialized nation believes that health care is a universal right- we create a system that criminalizes not-buying insurance from a private company that’s allowed to make billions. While the costs of our “justice system” and “health care systems” exceed every other country in the world- we still continue on the same path.

We’ve been shooting first for a long time- and no one is asking if it’s the right thing to do.

Suppose we emptied our prisons, except for those who are a physically dangerous threat to others, and spent all that money we’ve spent warehousing poor people- and instead spent it on education, health care and jobs. Suppose we eliminated the health insurance companies and went to a single payer system that paid for universal care. Suppose we treated drug addiction as a mental health problem instead of a criminal one?

Would we still need so many guns pointed at people?

Isn’t the point of a civilized society to be one where you don’t have to live in the Wild West- with a six gun on your hip? Isn’t a civilized society one where we can settle our differences without killing each other? Are we really still civilized in America today? Or have we just stopped asking questions?

I think you know the answer.


Time to change the national anthem and chuck the constitution: Police militarization

Photo by Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

Ferguson MO militarized police photo- Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

It’s this photo that makes my stomach turn. This is not a police force to “Serve and protect”- but a police force to deny free speech, the right to peaceably assemble and to protest.

We are no longer the home of the brave and land of the free.

When gun nuts talk about needing to own an assault rifle, because they are afraid of the government overstepping its bounds, they now have the poster photo to prove the crazies are right.

Let me count the ways that this is wrong. The idiot on the top of the “Urban Assault Vehicle” is actively sighting a target. If he had a legitimate reason to do this, all those “riot police” should be on the deck- with their weapons pointed at an imminent threat. If anyone else held a fully automatic assault rifle like that, they would be shot by the police with the excuse that they were inciting panic. In Beavercreek Ohio, you can get killed for talking on a cell phone with a BB gun in a Walmart- this is an order of magnitude worse.

The mismatched uniforms- with desert boots and woodland camouflage also make these “police officers” look more like extras on a low-budget Hollywood war movie. Why wear BDU’s at all? Are they police- or soldiers? Police officers work for us- have pride in their community, and represent us- soldiers are here to repress us. The moment you don a military uniform, you are no longer serving and protecting me, at least that’s the way this former soldier sees it.

No matter how much police forces train to use this gear, it’s not suited for police work. Good cops know their first and most effective tool, is talking to people, trying to establish rapport and common ground. Note to cops: the moment you don your GI Joe gear you throw all that “one of us rapport” out the window. If we really need an MRAP on the scene, you’d do better to let it be the National Guard in it, because after the shit storm is over, they go home outside the community- and you, well, you’ve permanently distanced yourself by actively taking arms against our citizenry.

SWAT was a bad TV show- that forever changed the idea of what cops should and shouldn’t do. It probably did as much or more damage to the idea of “community based policing” than Jack Bauer on 24 did to interrogation techniques. No, physical torture doesn’t get you good intel or accurate intel- it just makes you guilty of war crimes. Want a lesson in the Geneva Convention- ask Senator John McCain, don’t ask “John McClane”- the cop character in the Die Hard movies which also distorted the reality of what happens when most people shoot other people- even highly trained people shooting other people. The reality is, most cops don’t shoot very often, and this kind of BS isn’t why they got into policing. Any chief who orders his officers to go out with automatic weapons and point them as if to shoot- should be relieved of command.

For those who need a refresher- the United States is probably the only country that glorifies a war battle in its national anthem, and not even the revolutionary war, but the war of 1812. We seem to still be confused as to what a “land of the free and the home of the brave” means. Are we now brave, to walk in protest, facing our fellow countrymen armed to the teeth, to protect our freedoms which have been slipping away from us since September 11, 2001?

The Constitution, starts with this preamble. Read it. Then look at the photo above. Do the two go together?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Habeas Corpus- the right not to be be unlawfully detained, and to have a judge and jury determine your fate:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

When police show up with the firepower to go to war, our collective rights are being stripped from us. Those which are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution).

They read in brief (from this post)

  1. Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
  2. Right to bear arms.
  3. Right not to quarter soldiers.
  4. Freedom from unnecessary search or seizure.
  5. Due process of laws.
  6. The right to a speedy trial.
  7. The right to a trial by jury.
  8. No cruel or unusual punishment.
  9. Constitutional rights do not deny other rights.
  10. States rights

Look again at the photo above. The Third amendment specifically applies to this-

“the Third Amendment subordinates military authority to civilian control and safeguards against abuses that can be perpetrated by standing armies and professional soldiers.” via The legal dictionary/free dictionary.

Do those cops look like cops, or professional soldiers to you? They do to me.

We have a constitutional law expert as our president. Now is not the time for him to be on vacation. What is happening in Ferguson MO is a danger to the state of our union, and demands his attention. It’s time for a come-to-Jesus meeting about police militarization, because if this is how my police serve and protect, I say they are doing neither.

Right after I posted this- Butler Township Trustee Nick Brusky tweeted the following:

Why we should shoot in Syria

I don’t believe that the U.S. Military would ever turn on our citizens, although Kent State is a glaring example to the contrary, and the case of the drones’ use in far away places to kill “Americans” who had pledged to wage war on their mother country. However, when a country uses air power against its own citizens, it would be nice if someone stepped in to stop what amounts to mass murder. That time came long ago in Syria and passed. It also passed in Darfur, Liberia, and countless other countries.

The U.S. was quick to react in Libya, because of course, they had resources that were important to the petrochemical giants who make huge donations to the U.S. Congress. Syria on the other hand, only exports some oil to Europe and hasn’t exported any since 2011.

The tools of war are taken for granted globally these days, with the U.S. one of the largest exporters of killing machines on the planet. Some war is good for our economy unfortunately, and therefore, we tend to look the other way when these tools are used for oppression and suppression. No matter how much money the sales of weapons systems bring to our economy, and to the military industrial complex, these always end up having a negative overall impact on our economy when you figure in the true costs of wars. They are always a negative- from the deaths of our troops, to the increase in costs to take care of our disabled veterans, all the way down the line to where you realize the lost opportunity costs of perfecting killing, instead of forwarding the human race toward a peaceful and bountiful planet for all.

In other words, for every bomb, bullet or soldier we “invest” in- the return is negative compared to creating food, health care, education, shelter for all. For all the money wasted in the Iraq/Afghanistan war, we could have obliterated poverty globally, through humanitarian initiatives and focusing on the good in the world instead of the several thousand who were represented by 20 odd jerks who hijacked a few planes and crashed them.

Syrians don’t deserve to have their government turn on them. We should obliterate anything that can fly against the people of Syria, and possibly, if we can locate them, neutralize any chemical weapons or their delivery systems. As to threats from any other nations of retaliation against Israel for our leveling the playing field in Syria- we should unequivocally state that any excuse for an attack on Israel will be met with hell being rained on any country’s military that launches an attack. That’s how owning the biggest, baddest military is supposed to thwart aggression by others. Fear is one of the most powerful motivators.

I do not believe that action against Syria should be prolonged or ongoing, nor should it lead to an invasion or occupation. It’s just about taking the howitzers away from the guys in war against people with slingshots.

If our country would only help the underdogs at home as much as it’s willing to go to bat for underdogs in other countries, we might have a better moral authority on the world stage, but for now at least, we should do everything in our power to stop a deluded dictator the use of chemical weapons and air power against his own people.


Is Dayton a city of peace? A beacon to welcome all?

I have no respect for terrorists. To me, there is nothing better than a dead one. And while one man’s zero can be another’s hero, the dead aren’t coming back no matter how many episodes you watch of “The Walking Dead.”

Dayton could put itself on the international stage as the city of peace, of welcoming all, by one simple act- allowing Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers to be buried here. It seems, the thought of burial in Boston is a non-starter:

Nineteen days after Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gunbattle with police, cemeteries still refused to take his remains and government officials deflected questions about where he could be buried.

On Wednesday, police in Worcester, west of Boston, pleaded for a resolution, saying they were spending tens of thousands of dollars to protect the funeral home where his body is being kept amid protests.

“We are not barbarians,” police Chief Gary Gemme said. “We bury the dead.”…

via Still no resting spot for Tamerlan Tsarnaev – Print View.

I am not suggesting the city pay for it, or for there to be some sort of monumental tombstone, but that we rise above the pettiness and show the world that it is possible to look past the sins.

The story also points out:

An expert in U.S. burial law said the resistance to Tsarnaev’s burial is unprecedented in a country that has always found a way to put to rest its notorious killers, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 children and six educators at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school last year.

I believe we still have a potter’s field by the old workhouse. It’s time to stop letting Mr. Tsarnaev’s body continue to make news. As a country, we have more important things to think and talk about. Peace and human kindness being something worthy of discussion, even if it involves the remains of someone who never quite understood the grace of those qualities.

Boobs vs. Bullets

In the wake of the shootings, while politicians tip-toe around their positions on gun control for fear of losing their payola from the gun lobby, it seems Hollywood actors are ready to step up and say no to guns. They released a video “demand a plan” asking that we stop mass shootings.

Of course, the only problem is, most have them have been shot on film, backed by millions of dollars, shooting people with the very same guns they have a problem with in their “demand a plan.”

It hasn’t taken the gun lobby long to intercut the video a million ways from Sunday with scenes of the same stars, with their simulated violence. Hypocrite is the term that comes up next on the search as the next word to go with the search.

We’ve also heard that first-person shooter video games are to blame. The violence in video games somehow turns us into wild-eyed killers.  Yep, we’re being programmed- not even subliminally, to turn into whack job murderers. By the same reasoning, porn makes people into rapists, watching Fox news turns you into a right wing nut and watching cspan turns you into a politician.

I’ve been tiring of the screaming going on amongst my friends on Facebook with every slightest provocation for responsible gun ownership in this country. I believe in requiring training, testing, licensing and bonding (insurance) as part of gun ownership. I don’t think the founding fathers foresaw the future when guns would be so easy to use and as deadly as they are today. They didn’t foresee lots of things, and left them out of the Constitution, no mention of the Internet, airplanes, nuclear arms, etc. And they most certainly didn’t have an opinion on porn- maybe we should go back and ask them?

When I think back about violent movies that disturbed me, a few come to mind: Scarface, Natural Born Killers, Reservoir Dogs, Blue Velvet, American History X, Silence of the Lambs- and realize that all of these, have been “successful” by Hollywood standards. The same standards that give us “Ratings” that supposedly stop children from seeing films – PG-13, R, NC-17 and the former X. For some filmmakers, the NC-17 rating is actually a marketing ploy- they want it, to get more attention.

I’m currently watching the Showtime series “Dexter” where the “star” of the show is a serial killer. Yes, we’re glorifying a psychopath over seven seasons, with more to come. And, the reason he’s a killer- his mother was horrifically killed with a chainsaw in front of his eyes when he was a toddler. Yet, we’ve not banned chainsaws. No, I’m not a fan of a plan to ban assault rifles, large clips because as the saying went in my Army unit- if it takes you that many rounds to kill someone, they deserve to live. What I am a fan of is ending hypocrisy.

Why is it that we fear boobs on TV more than bloodbaths? Maybe, we need to relax the “high moral standards” on TV that show bloodbaths readily and breasts never. Potheads always say that alcoholics are a bigger threat to public safety, while potheads are a threat to cheetos. What would happen if we banned showing shooting on prime time the way we’ve banned boobs? Sales of “Fifty shades of gray” would go up?

To this day, the movie “Natural Born Killers” still makes me sick, just as much as the Newtown and Aurora shootings, maybe even a bit more. Maybe it’s time to create a killing tax- where Hollywood has to pay a percentage of revenue for every shooting in their films and television shows to help fund a victims fund? Because we demand a plan.

A responsible state

In prisons, the guards inside don’t have guns. Yet, the response of the NRA to the Sandy Hook massacre is to turn our teachers into armed guards. For a country that already doesn’t fund its schools well, and local police forces are having to cut staff to stay in budget, we’re not in a position to pay to secure every last public place just in case someone goes wacko and starts shooting up the place.

As to the wackos- we pretty much shut down all our state sponsored mental institutions under Reagan and began our problem with homelessness. It seems to be beyond our grasp that some people are not capable of functioning normally within society due to challenges in life, but, on the other hand – totally acceptable to pour trillions into places like Iraq and Afghanistan to try to make them “safe for democracy.”

A truly responsible State, would never allow its own veterans to be homeless, while building schools and roads in far away places, and funding public security forces there, while its own citizens are getting murdered by the boatload here.

So, of course, I’m instantly a gun hater, gun banner and have no respect for the Second Amendment. I want to ban guns, or take away your firepower- which protect you just in case, you happen to be watching a movie at midnight and a whack job shows up in full body armor shooting with an assault rifle. Nancy Lanza had a whole arsenal of weaponry “to protect her”- and as the saying goes, those who live by the gun, die by the gun. She was the first, but the only one who wasn’t innocent that died in Connecticut.

We live in a state where you can’t cut hair for money without a license and an exam. Last I heard, a bad haircut never put anyone in the hospital. To sell another persons home, you need a license, to drive a car, to fly a plane, to sell insurance, to practice law, medicine and to be an architect. Whom are we protecting with all these licenses, permits, tests and insurance? We even have F&I insurance for corporate boards so they won’t get sued after they rob their shareholders of their life’s savings.

Yet, to buy something designed to kill people, no license, no test, no insurance. By their nature, guns are an offensive weapon, meant to do harm to someone or something living. But, the argument is, if you take away the good guys guns, only the bad guys will have them. And to me, that’s the last straw. Live by the gun, die by the gun.

I am not afraid of a government of the people, by the people, that expects me not to have to deal with the risk of getting shot every time I leave the house. This is not the wild west, and I don’t want to live there. If I wanted to live somewhere where I run risks of that- I can go to Afghanistan and even there, I’m afraid I might actually be safer. All I’m asking for is well regulated gun ownership, responsible gun ownership. If you want to own a gun, you must pass a real training course, you must certify at least annually, you carry insurance for your gun (or guns) and take full responsibility if they are used in a crime.

As to the “bad guys” who want to have a gun and use it in a crime, or have it out in public without license, insurance and registration (unavailable to those with a felony record), it’s really quite simple- we shoot you on the spot with your own gun and destroy it. What gun loving member of the NRA wouldn’t love that? Because, they are all the good guys- who are going to save us from shooters like the one in Aurora.

And while I fully understand posse comitatus and don’t want the military to deploy here, I ask is it much different if we did put armed guards all over? I’d rather have our soldiers here than in Afghanistan, but, then again, why should we need armed guards in our midst. Even prisoners don’t have to live like that.

And one last thing, I’m pretty sure our Congressmen aren’t allowed to pack heat at work, but, I bet budget debates would be settled a lot quicker if they were. It’s time we stopped dancing around this issue and take some responsibility for our death rate from guns in this country. We banned jarts didn’t we?

Our culture of death

Dead children always make people more upset. Dead embryos, dead babies, dead kindergarteners, dead teenagers- because they had their whole life ahead of them. Tears came to the presidents eyes as he made a statement about the killings in Connecticut. All over Facebook discussions are going on about our pistol packing society. Assertions are being made that this guy had to be mentally ill to go on a rampage, that he shouldn’t have had access to the guns in the first place, and on and on.

We put these senseless killing sprees on a scale. This was the second “most successful” gun spree after the one at Virginia Tech. Of course, if we took away all the guns, he could have been even more deadly- like Timothy McVeigh and his truck full of fertilizer bomb which also killed kids and a whole lot of other people and was almost 6x more effective. Or Bin Ladens minions who killed 10x more, but that was the work of 19 people, so on a death ratio they actually didn’t do quite as well as McVeigh who would be the current kill ratio winner with the kill score keepers.

All of this pales to war. When the true professionals do it, the scoreboards have commas. Syria has managed to kill 40,000 people in their little “civil war.” I put that in quotes, because it may be the biggest oxymoron to call any war civil. There is nothing civil about putting a hole in someone- ever. When we look at the numbers of people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, we tend to only look at our casualties, not the enemies. We spend trillions of dollars perfecting and supporting systems that turn death tolls into pinball scores. We’re expected to win, and win big we do. But in the process, all we are ultimately doing is hastening our own demise.

Everyone of us has or had a mother. It’s a common denominator to being human. When was the last time you heard a mother of a convicted killer say, “thank you Mr. Executioner, for taking my child off the face of the planet”? It doesn’t happen. With every death, victim or martyr or child, justified or not, someone is deeply changed- and not for the better.

We’ve been at war for over a decade, in a place half way around the world. In Afghanistan, the way of the gun is the way of life. It’s been a playground of war for generations. You don’t need a concealed carry permit and guns are available as easily as bananas are here- even though we don’t grow bananas in our country. People don’t aspire to go to Afghanistan, unless they are going there to kill. It astounds me that people still want to come to America, where we kill each other off and imprison people at higher rates than any other “industrialized” country. Those of you reading this can rant that “we’re still the greatest country in the world” but, the problem is, one of our metrics shouldn’t be a kill ratio, ever.

I own a gun, much like the pistols used in Connecticut. I’ve always told myself my reason is that because I won’t go peacefully if my neighbors and the State decide that they have a right to round “my kind” up and send them to death camps like what happened to my paternal great grandparents in Germany. As a veteran, I know that I have no chance in hell of stopping the military from doing the dirty work, and even those of us with arsenals are delusional if you think you’ve got a chance against an infantry squad.

But a few months ago, my eyes were opened by a 9 year old in my own home, who had the idea to “see my gun” and had somehow located the place I stored it, climbed to get it’s innocuous hiding kit down, and take it out to…

The keys to the trigger lock were secure in my pocket, but heaven knows, I don’t check my keyring daily to see what’s still on it, and the next time, that minor obstacle could have been easily removed and I would have had a little girl packing 17 rounds of death in her hands and I, her sister, her mother or that innocent child might not be here today. Guns are never a good answer to problems, just an easy one.

And still, despite that experience, and all my rational thought about the subject, I still wrestle with the idea of giving up my gun. My justification these days is the tribe of misfits two doors away, who think nothing of running my block like an Ultimate Fighting ring on occasion. Just last week, the father of the brood was pounding on my parents door begging them to call the police on his own spawns. The number of calls to police are off the charts, but it seems the “no blood, no foul” rule is being applied and the penalties so far are like gnat bites. We’ve acquiesced to incivility as a baseline and set the tolerance bar too close to death for comfort.

The question is, when will each of us say it’s time to aspire to live in Mayberry RFD instead of Mayhem USA?

Did enough children die yesterday to turn our moral compass? In the 40 years since I was in elementary school, our schools have changed from places with open doors and playgrounds, to controlled access buildings with a Sallyport for an entrance?

Think about it, if this is where we’ve come in two generations, where are we headed? To the Thunderdome?

It shouldn’t take dead children to see that we’ve got a culture of death. Commas don’t belong in a death toll, But, keep counting, maybe we’ll get a bonus round before the year is up.