With 300 million guns in circulation, how can we change the culture?

guns with history

This video is a good example of how the gun culture can be changed by people believing their own observations, rather than their perceptions.

We’re a gun culture and nothing will change that. I used to think otherwise until there was yet another mass shooting by another American, killing 26 churchgoers and wounding another 20 in the middle of nowhere Texas.

I don’t know about you, but I’m growing tired of all this.

I suppose the positive is the out pouring of care – random people wanting to donate blood, heroic acts by strangers, prayer vigils, flowers left at the scene, public officials decrying the action, social media memes.

Before Texas, was 59 dead and 500 wounded in Vegas, before that it was Congressman Scalise shot while playing baseball this summer.

Before that, it was the June 2016 Orlando Massacre – 49 dead and 53 wounded.

Before that was in October 2015 at Umqua Community College in Oregon that was shot up by another twisted buy with 14 weapons in his apartment.

Rather than more laws, how can the culture change?

There’s an excellent scenario that played out in Manhattan with huge impact. Prospective first-time gun buyers get their wake up calls about gun ownership. Watch it here.

Buffalo Operation Rescue 1992

The gun control lobby should take a page out of the anti-abortion lobby playbook and start publicly shaming gun shop patrons.

The anti-gun lobby should take a page out of the anti-abortion playbook.

The anti-abortion lobby works hard to change the culture through grassroots efforts. It can’t pass laws that ban abortions, but put up roadblocks like strategic public shaming.

The pro-gun lobby says that more laws won’t keep guns out of the hands of anybody, let alone crazy people.

I acquired my hunting rifle from a friend. When I gave up the sport, I traded it to a guy who did some tile work.  I had a box of shot gun shells that I used for a movie prop and sold those at a garage sale. Guns are easy to come by.

I have to agree with that, particularly with 300 million civilian guns in circulation. One size does not fit all.

The crazies and bad guys get guns regardless of laws. The United States government is the largest consumer of firearms in the world, so it’s not backing off guns anytime soon.

newtown parents testifying

Newtown parents testifying before elected officials has fallen on deaf ears.

The politicos think that keeping guns out of the hands of crazy people is the answer. All crazy people have access to guns, but not all crazy people have access to mental health services.

That makes sense from a rhetorical standpoint, but I don’t know how politicians decide who’s the craziest, though.

Who’s crazier, McConnell or me? It’s a toss up.

It may be a personal choice to access mental health care services, but part of creating a new culture includes a social environment that makes seeking mental health services socially acceptable. Depression and other mental diseases are coming out of the shadows.

The POTUS 2018 budget slashes funding for mental health services which doesn’t exactly encourage people to seek services which are scarce. When a guy like the Vegas shooter knowingly goes up into a hotel with two dozen fire arms, that’s a public health issue.

While I’m sure that everyone personally deals with events like this differently, there doesn’t seem to be very many who are interested in creating the social and cultural change necessary to end gun violence.

I, for one,  haven’t followed the most recent Texas shooting much and end up watching the fake violence switching back and forth between Law & Order SVU and Criminal Minds.

Compared to anti-abortion groups zealots, the anti-gun group members don’t show the same long-term passion.

Before buying a gun, maybe prospective purchasers have to watch a video with bloodied up shooting victims. How about public shaming and protests in the rights-of-way of gun stores or on the public sidewalks in front of the Walton family homes.

Like the anti-abortion lobby, the anti-gun people should be grooming like-minded people to put in for appointed and run for elected public offices.

caleb keeter vegas

After the Vegas massacre, Kyle Abbott band guitarist Caleb Keeter posted this tweet after he was shot at during the show in Vegas.

I’m thinking that in the final analysis, the only people who get involved in trying to change the gun culture are those families and friends directly affected by the death or injury to a friend or loved one.

That’s a pretty small number of people and they can’t do it alone. The anti-gun lobby needs to come up with a higher purpose for their end game.

After Vegas, there was a country music guitarist, Caleb Keeter who had a wake up call after playing at the concert that night. He tweeted “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment all my life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was.”

Knowing his market, he may well go the route of the Dixie Chicks.

After the most recent Texas massacre, I doubt any legislators will put forth much effort beyond strong emotional responses, particularly since nothing happened after the 59 dead were sniped in Vegas, 49 were gunned down in Orlando, 27 school kids and teachers murdered in their school, nine South Carolina church goers shot in the back, another nine gunned down in a community college classroom.

Here are three ideas to help change the culture without having to take anyone’s guns away since that’s not happening any time soon:

Short Term: Go to the shooting range and take a hunter safety class – The United States is a gun culture. If you don’t want to fire a gun, at least go to a gun shop and handle one – they have a distinct smell, they are heavier than the ones Detective Benson slings around. I used to be a hunter, but that experience gave me an appreciation for the power of guns and a realization that animals don’t stand much of a chance against them. I felled an antelope, shot at a few deer which was enough for me – it was a right of passage for a Wyoming guy. The country was founded on violence and the Constitution was written with that in mind – preserving and protecting citizen rights over that of the government – not storming into people’s houses, innocent until proven guilty by the government, right to privacy.

The last thing the government is going to do is take away people’s guns. That’s a scare tactic, but a successful one since the gun lobby continues to grow and the sale of guns is out of sight, despite nobody taking away any guns.

Medium Term: *Civil Rights Laws – Unless authorities uncover some hidden agenda behind the Vegas massacre shooter, this isn’t applicable, but after Orlando, I heard Matt Lauer talking about this on the Today Show. He asked a Homeland Security guy about what it would take to “asterisk” civil rights laws so that anyone like the Orlando terrorist could continue to be watched and monitored even if there is no probable cause determined. I think the only time limited martial law was approved was by the antebellum Congress at the time of Abraham Lincoln.

Long Term: Reapportionment – the US Census will be completed in 2020 and new US congressional districts will be drawn as well as state legislative districts. The SCOTUS ruled in favor of independent redistricting commissions taking gerrymandering out of the political process. This is an opportune time to create competitive state and national districts and balance when considering potentially divisive legislation.

If you didn’t read this story last time or this time, I’ll re-write the lead after the next massacre.

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Anti-gun groups should take a page from the anti-abortion playbook

 

abortion like guns

My friend Barbara May posted this meme shortly after the Umqua Community College in Oregon was shot up by a guy with 14 weapons in his apartment. Click on the image for a video about changing the gun culture.

The Orlando Massacre that left 49 dead and 53 wounded reminded me of a conversation some of my classmates and I had at our Hastings College homecoming reunion with Denny Storer, one of our political science professors.

That was in October 2015 – a week after an Oregon community college was shot up by another twisted buy with 14 weapons in his apartment.

Rather than more laws, how can the culture change? There’s an excellent scenario that played out in Manhattan with huge impact. Watch it here.

After our reunion reminiscence about a poli-sci class we took on the road in Washington DC during January 1973, I had an ‘aha’ moment about the nexus between the 2nd and 14th amendments.

The anti-gun crowd should take a page out of the anti-abortion playbook.

The latter is pretty good about dancing around the constitution while the former doesn’t have a clue about how to create cultural restrictions around curbing gun sales.

The above meme is tongue-in-cheek, but tells the practical truth. There are 300,000,000 firearms circulating. I agree that laws won’t help much.

Changing the culture is the most practical and the anti-abortion crowd proves that.

Hastings College operates on a 3-1-3 class schedule that, in 1973, included a one month Interim trip on a long bus ride to Washington DC for a month-long “Legislators and Lobbyist” field trip class.

The advertised highlight of the class and trip to DC was the inauguration of President Nixon. An unadvertised highlight was the death of President Johnson. We stood in line and viewe his casket laying in state under the capitol rotunda.

What’s the upshot of this story?

Less heralded at the time, Denny reminded us about the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade decision handed down on January 22, 1973. The ruling held that women have a right to privacy and protected from unwarranted searches and seizures.
The anti-abortion lobby figured out that passing restrictive laws do stand up to constitutional scrutiny. They work hard to change the culture through grassroots efforts and pass laws that don’t ban abortions, but put roadblocks in the way coupled with strategic public shaming.

The pro-gun lobby says that more laws won’t keep guns out of the hands of anybody, let alone crazy people. I have to agree with that.

All crazy people have access to guns, but not all crazy people have access to mental health services. I don’t know how politicians decide who’s the craziest, though.

After the killing spree in Orlando, I had to quit watching TV because it was all about blood, guts (interviews with wounded people in their hospital beds) and superficial grieving (candles, flowers and facebook posts).

While I’m sure that everyone personally deals with events like this differently, there doesn’t seem to be very many who are interested in creating the social and cultural change necessary to end gun violence.

Compared to anti-abortion groups, the anti-gun groups don’t show the same long-term passion that would include protesting in the rights-of-way of gun stores or on the public sidewalks in front of the Walton family homes; grooming like-minded people to appointed and elected public offices.

I’m thinking that in the final analysis, the only people who get involved in trying to change things are those families and friends directly affected by the death or injury to a friend or loved one. That’s a pretty small number of people and they can’t do it alone.

If 27 school kids murdered in their school, nine South Carolina church goers shot in the back, another nine gunned down in a community college classroom, don’t move legislators into action, I’m not very optimistic that 49 more people killed in a night club will provide much impetus for legislative action.

Here are three ideas to help change the culture without having to take anyone’s guns away since that’s not happening any time soon:

Short Term: Feel the Bern and Get Out The Vote – The biggest thing Bernie Sanders can keep doing is get more of his supporters to keep registering more voters. The disgruntled Bernie supporters – of which I am one – need to get on with life and not support any kind of third party or write in candidate for president. If that’s too difficult, at least vote for Democrats down the ticket.

Medium Term: Limited Martial Law (for lack of another term) – I heard Matt Lauer talking about this on the Today Show this morning. He asked a Homeland Security guy about what it would take to “asterisk” civil rights laws so that anyone like the Orlando terrorist could continue to be watched and monitored even if there is no probable cause determined. I think the only time limited martial law was approved was by the antebellum Congress at the time of Abraham Lincoln.

Long Term: Reapportionment – the US Census will be completed in 2020 and new US congressional districts will be drawn as well as state legislative districts. The SCOTUS ruled in favor of independent redistricting commissions taking gerrymandering out of the political process. This is an opportune time to create competitive state and national districts.

I’m willing to participate in the short and long term ideas i’ve proposed. It will be interesting to see if there’s the political will to limit civil liberties, but I would think Donald Trump would be all over that one.

The black ops probably have the authority to do this, in any event.

Environmental politics and the euthanized bison calf

bison yellowstone

Waiting for a bison in the road – Yellowstone National Park a couple years ago.

Bison have been in the news lately.

President Obama signed legislation designating the American Bison as the national animal. (See, Congress can get stuff done when it wants).

One of the more bizarre bison stories made the rounds this week which explains why the Northern Arapaho community in Wyoming has had a tough time getting any bison for its tribal ceremonies.

Seems a couple international tourists visiting Yellowstone National Park was quite concerned about the health and safety of a newborn bison calf that had wandered away from its herd.

bison_calf

This now famous bison calf was collected by a couple tourists in Yellowstone recently. They thought the young animal was cold and in danger.

The well intended park visitors scooped up the maverick and placed it in the back of their SUV and proceeded to notify the park rangers of their concern.

Turns out their unlawful act of kindness resulted in a ticket and fine.

The story has a not-so-happy ending because after repeated attempts to reunite the calf with its mother and herd, it was rejected and park wildlife officials had to put the young animal down.

Some of my friends were aghast wondering why there isn’t a bison rescue organization,  that could have taken the orphaned calf and nurtured it.

That makes a lot of sense but unfortunately, bison are among the most political animals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which includes parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

gye map

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has been the home for conflicts between wildlife and livestock interests.

This bison calf would have a big identity crisis had it wandered into Wyoming because it could be treated as livestock or wildlife or both.

There’s a political skirmish between cattle ranchers and wildlife managers as to the proper jurisdiction – in fact, the state vet and wikdlife managers both have jurisdiction.

What complicates the matter is a contagious disease called brucellosis which isn’t harmful to people, in most cases, but when the bacteria gets into a cattle herd, all animals generally have to be destroyed and the state quarantined.

You’ll recall there was a big furor a few years back about mad cow’s disease. Most recently, there were many chickens destroyed because of avian flu which is why poutry is still expensive.

How does all this happen?

The disease epidemiology is very complex biologically, but causes huge economic impacts that not only include the domestic livestock industry and wildlife management, but also the tourism industry.

Over the years, due to US National Park Service herd management, certain elk populations outgrow their environments. Bison contracted the disease from the over populated elk herds in this case, the GYE.

Bison wander out of the park, elk migrate to and from and the conflict originated when cattle ranchers began to develop infected herds and the blame fell primarily on the bison because they are more sedentary, as opposed to migratory.

Montana treats bison mire like wildlife and through the state veterinarian’s and wildlifr offices there and the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has a brucellosis quarantine facility set up just ourside the park. (Fun Fact – APHIS is the agency that oversees the safety of airports so the chance that birds smack into airplanes is minimized).

Bison that leave the park are given a blood test and checked for brucellosis. if they are positive, they are slaughtered, if they are negative, they are put into quarantine and eventually released back to the park.

kids bison

This bison was part of a Northern Arapaho tribal ceremony in November. There are community members who want to reestablish bison on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The bison calf in question could have been tested. If it tested positive, it would have been put down. If it was negative, it would have been quarantined and someone, would have had to stick with it for 30 days or more.

Even if that care taking did happen, my druthers would have been to give it to the Northern Arapaho Tribe to help them reestablish a bison herd on the Wind River Indian Reservation in a highly managed pasture – as opposed to free-roaming.

The fact is, Wyoming is currently NOT a brucellosis free state. In the Cliff Notes version of the process, this means the bison calf, if it was tested and found to be brucellosis-free, as well as others could be culled from the Yellowstone herd, quarantined on Northern Arapaho land and allowed to propagate for tribal ceremonial purposes.

There’s currently a prototype already operating at the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins with Yellowstone brucellosis-free bison. There’s a small herd now on the Soap Stone open space park by Livermore.

Take away the politics and this isn’t rocket science.

 

 

 

Forget Trump, Hillary is the big GOP unifier

donald-hillary-billThe three men in Hillary’s life right now will be nothing but trouble until she can get them in line. I, like Noam Chomsky and Robert Reich, am Feeling the Bern until I can no longer.

Bernie can’t win. Why doesn’t he quit?

The better question is why doesn’t Hillary adopt some of Bernie’s tenets before the convention?

As long as Hillary keeps wearing the blinders, her path doesn’t get any straighter.

Bernie is sticking around to nurture his populist movement. So far, do good, but I thought Occupy would get traction, but turns out Occupy morphed into Bernie.

Hillary, likely, is betting Bernie, like Occupy, will be irrelevant. His followers have zero chance of changing Wall Street.

Trump is showing his campaign hand. He’s going after Bill. I’m pretty sure, he’s dis-entombing Monica Lewinsky, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones and others we might not have known were hidden in the crypt.

It’s gonna get ugly.

Hearsay, innuendo, made up stuff, the whole shebang.

The political pundits are dancing around the issue, bracing for the onslaught. Hillary is ignoring it.

Then there’s the email thing. I don’t agree the latest reports are a rehash. She’s tried joking it off, ignoring it, sending Claire McCaskill to run interference, even apologizing.

She can’t shake it. It keeps popping up in the tabloid and ‘legit’ news cycles with click bait headlines of all kinds. She isn’t helping her cause.

gennifer-flowers-monica-lewinsky1It’s gonna be uglier than any campaign I’ve seen before, which isn’t saying much since none of them have been this gossipy and personal.

This seems different than Nixon’s lying, cheating, and stealing, but campaign 2016 is being treated as if it’s the same as politics as usual though.

In fact, many of the Hillary supporters I know, at least who I read on facebook, say something to the effect, “Well, the Clintons have baggage and have had their clocks cleaned for 25 years or more, and have emerged relatively unscathed – so, blah blah blah?

I don’t think the election season will play out like typical politics.

Hillary just said that Bill is in charge of job creation. He’s officially fair game assuming Hillary finally gets enough delegates and she’ll have to accept not only his successes but his less successful actions.

Trump may have a 70 percent disapproval rating among women voters but he’ll prove his detractors wrong by being one of the biggest supporters of women when he continues to pile on an abusive Bill Clinton.

Hillary needs to own the violence against women narrative and along with it, solidify the electorate behind her story. So far, she doesn’t really have many stories. She’s campaigning on her political savvy – which is diverse at the state and federal levels and in the community. There’s no doubt she’s smart and experienced.

Without a good narrative, her political experience and knowledge will go the way of Mike Dukakis, Al Gore and John Kerry. These three also campaigned as highly experienced statistics-spewing policy wonks and ignored the simple Republican story lines against them.

dukakis-hortonDukakis didn’t respond to attacks about being weak on crime and Willie Horton. Al Gore couldn’t shake Bill Clinton nor did he have any answer to the “fuzzy math” comments by Bush 43 about his Medicare lock box  that couldn’t get any traction a month before the election. Kerry ignored the “Swift Boat” smear campaign and allowed George W. to paint himself as an “ah, shucks rancher” when he and Kerry both shared the same upper crust pedigrees.

What if Hillary said something like, “You know, it’s no secret that my marriage has had it’s share if problems, maybe like yours. There were times I thought my husband was a big SOB there were other times when things were great. I’m not proud about how my personal life went down like an episode of “Scandal.” Bill was impeached, he’s had a tough hill to climb. I have to tell you our entire family paid for his screw ups, and we moved forward.”

Victim blamers ask, “Why did Hillary stay?” as opposed to “Why didn’t Bill change?”

Well, Bill got a loud wake up call from the public-humiliation perpetrator treatment program almost lost his job and that was that. Hillary is putting him in charge of job creation. I did think his welfare to work program was a good one. The same could happen with a new look for incentive-based Medicaid.

Trump’s misstep about his “Bill strategy” is blaming Hillary because she “enabled” hom to philander – he leaves a lot of subtext there without having to explain. That will back fire except among the men and women who believe that women should be subservient.

So far, Bill has been brushing Trump off like lint, but his message should be the same. Something like, “Well, Anderson, we had some rough patches. They were all caused by my stupidity and it really messed up our family, in fact, I don’t know if it will totally heal up.

“We’ve gotten through it. Chelsea has a family of her own now and being a grand father has really put things into perspective. Hillary could have sent me packing, but instead we decided to work things out and I can’t say that’s been easy, but we support each other 100 percent now and want to get down to being responsive to the American people.”

What about Bernie.

He’s not going away anytime soon. He has a pretty good chance to win the rest of the states, including California. Lucky for Hillary, she has the super delegates mostly in the bag come June 7th.

If Hillary wants Bernie to go away, her campaign needs to start capitulating a bit. If it’s viewed as a zero – sum game (we won, so go home) there will be a bunch of disgruntled Bernie supporters, myself included.

Here’s how I would mansplain her strategy.

What if Hillary called up Bernie and said, “You know Bernie, you’ve raised a lot of good points over the past year and figured out how to harness that grassroots energy particularly among young people. To tell you the truth, I’m not so good at that.

Buffett Gates“You’re right, I agree with you about figuring out how to keep money out of politics and I’ve been a little to complacent on that and it’s going to be a little uncomfortable for me to deal with the big banks and Wall Street after the PAC that’s been supporting me has accepted all that money. I didn’t think it was that big a deal, but apparently it is.

“But you know what? They’re going to have to cry in their beer when I’m not with them. I’m also okay with raising taxes on the upper one percent and they better get on board with that like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and others have about spreading out the wealth.

“So are we going to do this together? That means you’ll have to reign in your young horses and let them know we’re all in this together!”

It will take some doing, but she can win this thing. It’s not going to be politics as usual.