Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Guns, People, and Laws/Pickles Cartoon/When People Die/Smoking

(P1) Political

Banished for questioning 2nd Amendment gospel

This headline appeared in the January 5, 2014 NY Times and contained a subhead "Fired Guns & Ammo columnist: 'Compromise is a bad word' in debate over U.S. firearms policy."

Here are some excerpts:

In late October, Metcalf wrote a column that the magazine titled "Let's Talk Limits," which debated gun laws.  "The fact is, " wrote Metcalf, who has taught history at Cornell and Yale, "all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be." 

The backlash was swift and fierce.  Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions.  Death threats poured in by email  His television program was pulled from the air....

...I've been vanished, disappeared," Metcalf, 67 said in an interview...fears he has become a pariah in the gun industry, to which, he said, he has devoted nearly his entire adult life.

....His experience sheds light on the close-knit world of gun journalism, where editors and reporters say there is little room for nuance in the debate over gun laws.  Moderate voices that might broaden the discussion from within are silenced....

...Richard Venola, a former editor of Guns & Ammo (said) "The time for ceding some rational points is gone."...

...In 2012, Jerry Tsai, the editor of Recoil magazine wrote that the Heckler & Koch MP7A1 gun, designed for law enforcement, was "unavailable to civilians and for good reason."  He was pressured to step down, and despite apologizing, has not written since.

...Metcalf says his only regret about the column is that it was too short.  "Some topics you should never try and discuss too briefly, because they can't be dealt with like that..."

Therefore, please consider taking a look at the full NYT article now.

Comment or Read Comments Here on any of the above or below. If you do not have a Google account, then log in by checking "Name/URL," (it's easy). Just the name (don't worry about the URL). Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at, and I can post it.


 Gun Laws Actually Have Loosened Since Sandy Hook

This from The Daily Koz of December 12 2013

There were high hopes among gun-control advocates after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, last December that the United States would finally get serious about reducing firearm violence by requiring every would-be buyer of a gun to undergo a criminal and mental health background check and restricting the type of weapon individuals can own as well as the ammunition capacity of those weapons. New organizations were founded, older ones reinvigorated.
The effort failed spectacularly at the federal level. At least in part, that's because of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's doomed-to-failure-from-the-start effort to reinstitute a 1994-2004 ban on certain semi-automatic rifles with big ammunition magazines like the one Adam Lanza used in Newtown that are capable of firing scores of bullets in a few seconds.

Not only did Feinstein's proposal go down in flames, with large numbers of Democrats opposed, the assault weapon ban's introduction as the first new gun proposal after Newtown may well have hurt the chances for enacting a background check law covering private gun sales. A universal background check has overwhelming support among citizens in general, among gun owners and even among members of the National Rifle Association. But the debate over the background-check proposal was tainted with the assault weapons ban by the NRA, the more extreme Gun Owners of America and many NRA favorites in Congress. Ultimately, that proposal also went into oblivion.

There has been more success for advocates of tighter controls at the state level in the past 12 months. As The New York Times pointed out Thursday, 109 new gun laws have been enacted in the wake of Newtown. However, 70 of them have loosened restrictions.

Comment or Read Comments Here on any of the above or below. If you do not have a Google account, then log in by checking "Name/URL," (it's easy). Just the name (don't worry about the URL). Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at, and I can post it.

(P2) Poetical

My Four-Year-Old Asks What Happens 
When People Die And When I Hesitate
     She Answers Her Own Question

First they wake up on the day they're going to die
And they pack up all their clothes
And they say goodbye to their mama and goodbye
To their daddy
They go to a different state and find a nice empty
House that's quiet and a good soft bed
And they lie down. 

- Tina Parker in Rattle Winter 2013 

 Comment or Read Comments Here on any of the above or below. If you do not have a Google account, then log in by checking "Name/URL," (it's easy). Just the name (don't worry about the URL). Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at, and I can post it.

(P3) Philosophical

Cigarette smoking is a fast track to an early deathAn excellent column and a very interesting read follows.  Perhaps it can save a life or two.

by Richard Cohen, Washington Post (January 20, 2014)

On Jan. 1, Colorado began permitting the legal sale of marijuana. Even before that, the nation’s news media had swung into action, arguing just about everything — marijuana is dangerous or not dangerous, a gateway drug or just a lot of smoke. Nothing I saw mentioned why I, for one, will not smoke marijuana. I’m afraid it would lead me back to cigarettes.

Once I was addicted to cigarettes. (I suppose I still am.) I tried to quit numerous times — hypnotism, acupuncture, hypnotism again, willpower and shame and mortal shame — but for the longest time, nothing worked. I felt enslaved — sucking this poison into my body, soiling my lungs — and enraged at an industry that encouraged me as a youth to smoke and, despite all the health findings, continued to give me that encouraging wink: Smoke. Go ahead. Such sweet pleasure!

Now the latest surgeon general’s report shows that cigarette smoking is even worse for us than we once thought. To all the usual diseases — lung cancer and heart disease — can be added diabetes, colorectal and liver cancers and, irony of ironies, erectile dysfunction. The Marlboro Man needs some help.
Boris D. Lushniak, the acting surgeon general, tacked on some more horrors: vision loss, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, impaired immune function and cleft palates in children of pregnant women who smoke. Did I mention bladder cancer? How about cervical cancer? They, too, can be caused by smoking. Can you imagine anything more economical? Almost any disease you can name is in a single package.

The managers and directors of tobacco companies must wonder at their good fortune. The nation is engaged in a great debate about marijuana — is it dangerous, addictive? — while tobacco is not only legal but widely available and not discussed. Smoking, the surgeon general says, is responsible for 480,000 premature deaths a year. That’s a bit more than the population of Kansas City, Mo. — dead, dead and very dead every single year.

About 18 percent of Americans smoke, down from 42 percent in 1965. The decline has leveled off, but with it has come an appreciation of just how unhealthy smoking is. Tobacco is about the only product you can think of that, when used as directed, can kill you.

To my knowledge, Karl Marx never considered tobacco companies in his criticism of capitalism. Yet almost 150 years after he published “Das Kapital,” these companies are selling a carcinogenic delivery system to what are, after all, nicotine junkies. How’s that for exploitation, Karl baby? What other industry can claim so many lives and so much misery? Beginning with its early efforts to suppress medical findings, what other industry has such a splendid history of lying to the public?

Yet the people who run these companies are not shunned, denied membership at the country club and appropriately reviled. Instead, they are welcomed and respected and, of course, well compensated. If you read the Web sites of the various tobacco companies, you would think that they are in the business of fighting smoking and that new smokers somehow materialize out of thin air. The word “responsibility” is a leitmotif. This is an outrageous restraint of trade; these companies leave little hypocrisy for anyone else.

I started smoking as a kid, 13 or 14 years old. After some years, I tried pipes and cigars as a cigarette substitute. No good. Pipes were impractical when I was in the Army — I couldn’t light them up or put them out fast enough to suit the average sergeant — and cigars were no improvement since I tended to inhale.
The truth is I loved to smoke. But now I can hardly bear to watch Bogie light up in some film-noir classic without seeing it as foreshadowing his death from esophageal cancer at the age of 57. And when I see kids on the street smoking, flipping off health concerns with the arrogance of youth, I want to slap them silly or, at the least, delay their walk with a lecture on what the surgeon general has found. But mostly I want them and everyone else to ask how we can have a national debate on marijuana and ignore the annual mountain of cadavers from smoking cigarettes. It, for sure, is a gateway drug — to an early grave.

Comment or Read Comments Here on any of the above or below. If you do not have a Google account, then log in by checking "Name/URL," (it's easy). Just the name (don't worry about the URL). Actual name is best, but use what you like. Or email me at, and I can post it.


P. Antonaccio said...

ban all guns, i say

David Beckman said...

Thanks for including this important piece on gun ownership. We must stop
using the phrase "gun control." It's an NRA wet dream, because they win when
we use it (commentators and pundits on CNN and even PBS use it, and it
assures defeat for our side). No, we're talking about "gun safety." We can
win with this phrase. Just as we demand safety, accountability and
registration with cars, we want the same with guns. No one wants to control
anyone's choice of cars; but insisting on safety -- of course. Ditto with

Duncan said...

I can't discuss this subject here because it takes too much time, although to me it is not complicated. David's analogy of gun safety and car safety makes me comment. If a you have a child of age 2 or 20, and you don't want it to drive your car what do you do? Hide or lock up the keys perhaps?
My suggestion, anyone interested in really addressing the mass killing by firearm problem take a course in problem solving. The first thing you will learn is to identify the problem. Lizzie Borden used an ax, al qaeda used airplanes and the Boston Marathon kids and Timothy McVeigh used homemade bombs. Again, the problem must be identified before it can be solved. Sorry if this pisses some people off, but until everyone calms down and starts to think logically, the problem will not be identified or solved.

Lucille said...

Ed, Americans are strange "that way" because they think they can defend themselves and guns are part of that. Guns are part of being independent, protecting YOURSELF. Yes, it is the people who want guns, who want to be safe not only from intruders but from anyone they disagree with. How to change a deep rooted opinion. Seeing the towers fall didn't do it, soldiers with trama didn't do it, dead children didn't do it. It is only the violence in oneself that one need fear. Americans are fearful, thus the bravado over owning a gun. Lunacy as we can clearly see from the evidence. A cure, take out of the culture the things that support this opinion, P

ossible? I don't know. and please, I need yr regular email address, my list of contacts was hacked and destroyed by Yahoo.

Anonymous said...

Beckman - I would argue your post is an NRA wet dream. What you are arguing is the basic idea does not work as "gun control" so let's change the name to something that polls better?! It's not working well for "climate change" either. Shakespeare was right, " A Rose by any other name..." - B. Pragmatic

T. Partington said...

Here's what I'm reminded of:

Back when I was involved in Rape Crisis work, we talked a lot about how to frame the argument. We had several points that helped folks understand the devastating impact of rape, the shame and guilt that forms after the event, and the long and painful journey to healing. One day I was having a conversation with a male friend who said to me, "women can present all of the information and reasons why rape is so horrible, why we need better laws and a philosophical shift to move the culture away from over sexualized attacks that are not about sex, but about power, but you won't see anything change until men are willing to tell other men that this behavior is not acceptable. No more rape jokes, no more exploitation of women, no more degrading remarks just because we're all men here and we can." This was a wake up call for me and for the many women who'd worked so hard to change these perceptions.

So, maybe it's time for gun owners who understand the difference between responsible gun ownership and use, and the ease of obtaining a firearm for use against other people, to stand up and say that this behavior is not acceptable, that we need another way to protect rights by protecting all human beings.

I don't know, simplistic maybe???????

joyce said...

Re Pebbles cartoon: Well, this is certainly the case in our house!

Anonymous said...

I question whether A--L--L Constitutional rights are regulated. For, of course any right described in writing is in itself a regulation (in the books). And if a right, spelled out in full in writing is modified, there is a particular constitutional way to change it. At that point, the original right no longer exists, and the new right takes its place.
So, on the one hand I see a circular reasoning in the choice of wording. And second, if by regulation you mean amending it, there is a bona fide process for it (even for cancelling that right altogether). So, if a certain right is INTERPRETED for enforcement, that interpretation can be made null and void by the next person in line doing the "interpretation". By changing a right, it is substituted by another; so I am not surprised by the great vocal resistance regarding it.

Heated discussion said...

People do get quite irrational when it comes to certain topics.

Smoking said...

18 percent is a lot.