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.

Advertisements

How affordable cohousing can unite a divided America

nashville_cohousing_conference_logo

The National Cohousing Conference is happening in Nashville May 19-21. Sign up for my intensive workshop and the conference by clicking on the logo above.

I’m presenting a seminar at the National Cohousing Conference May 19th in Nashville. I’ve been struggling with the content.

It was initially going to be a redux of the “diverse personalities” retreat I led in Arcosanti in the fall, but after being a part of the Women’s March on January 21st, it came together for me as a workshop melding cultural competency, diversity and community activism around intentional communities and affordable housing development.

The workshop I’m presenting is a little jargony, “How Cohousing Can Bridge Socio-Economic Divides through Personal Change and Understanding the Untapped Affordable Housing Market“. It’s scheduled for Friday May 19th from 830am to 4pm and the cost is nominal $25.

VA: Protesters gather at Dulles airport over immigration action

Watch a short video about the intensive workshop about how cohousing can bridge social and cultural divides.

There’s been quite a bit of chatter among the TV talking heads, regular conservatives and liberals ranting internally on social media about the travel ban, Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Rex Tillerson, Neil Gorsuch, alternative/actual facts and fake/real news.

America has always been a country divided. It’s just that the canyons are more apparent now.

Are changing the way each of looks at the world and how we can better accept people different from ourselves we going to everyone together?

I’d say, people are generally uncomfortable about discussing personal issues and views around the American Dream, money, race, class, gender identity, sexual preference. But those discussions are key to forming strong and cohesive communities – intentional or not.

My hope is that my workshop attendees understand that while the bricks and mortar of cohousing are the buildings where residents live, the people who form a community are the most important aspect.

alan-shoveling

Cohousing members chip in their time and effort to keep the community operating 24-7-365.

I live in cohousing and while, at least in my experience, it’s far from perfect, the intentionality brings neighbors together to work through tough issues – even though they may, in some cases, be on the petty side, they might as well be matters of life and death.

The upshot is, if there’s a community configuration that is suited to forcing conversations among divergent opinions it’s cohousing.

We’ll discuss why American social/dultural norms restrain the cohousing movement and then provide potential solutions for this problem.

My workshops are always hands-on and include a balance of simulation games, interactive exercises, video clips, discussion. We’ll work through the following:

  • The American Dream we learn about is bigger being better, we are driven to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, make a lot of money and be on top. We’ll talk about why cultural norms create roadblocks for the advancement of caring and interactive communities beyond what is familiar.
  • Cohousing communities, by definition, bring diverse people together. But the typical cohouser is, white, educated, high income, high perceived social class. We’ll learn and practice some ways that individuals can look at their personal histories and make changes so as to become more inclusive as opposed to just believing it’s a good idea and how to outreach to diverse communities.
  • There are institutional barriers such as city councils and planning boards enforcing dated rules and regulations. We’ll learn techniques that can help cohousing advocates create and maintain high-quality conversations and relationships personally, in community, and with city and county planners.
  • American culture of rugged individualism precludes cohousing from entering the mainstream as it has in other countries. We’ll look at the untapped numbers of people who are not the typical cohousing demographic and learn ways to approach that market.

The cohousing movement can become a catalyst for positive change including development of low income and diverse cohousing communities and bridging the gap between the left and right, the haves and have nots in the U.S. today.

Remember to bring a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer for a couple of the exercises. Sign up today for the national cohousing conference. There’s a little something for everyone.

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.