#684 – Dick Bernard: Towards a rational conversation about guns and need for their regulation….

UPDATE February 11, 2013: February 8 I posted a very brief survey to 46 persons on my long standing peace and justice mailing list. The survey was about Guns. Ultimately, 23 responded to the questions, and the entire compilation can be read here: Gun Survey Feb 82013R1. I was surprised both by the number of responses, and the kinds of responses received. This may help the reader clarify his or her own mind about the issue of Guns in our Society, and the survey certainly hi-lites the complexity of the issue needing affirmative resolution. This is an issue that needs both speaking and very active listening with an eye to resolving the issue.
Here is how I summarized my feelings on the issue to my Government representatives: Gun Issue Position Feb 2013
Today is the holiest of holy days in the United States: Super Bowl XLVII Sunday, where gladiators from Baltimore and San Francisco meet on the field of battle in New Orleans to determine the Champion of the World, at least for today. Then there is the Super Bowl of Super Bowl Ads. Now there’s clamoring for a National Day Off for the day following the Super Bowl….
But then we’re also in the real world: Yesterday’s paper front page lede was about a gang member being convicted for a random act of violence: shooting up the house of a rival, killing a 5 year old in the process. It was the second family member killed in that house. Later in the day, on-line, the same paper had a picture story about President Obama shooting skeet at Camp David…which the NRA mostly ridiculed.
I wish the President hadn’t felt the need to prove he’d actually shot a gun, even in skeet, but, hey, this is America in the year of irrational talk about the need for rational gun regulation.
Additional Post on this specific Topic: here and here.
It happened that the same day a cousin (her Mom and my Mom were first cousins, their parents brothers and sisters) sent a photograph of her Dad, Don Thimmesch, who was among the first 53 highway patrolmen in Iowa (1935). (More here.) And it reminded me of another photo she had sent me some years earlier, of her Mom, Cecilia Thimmesch, who was a national champion marksman with the Rifle.
Best I know, Cecilia is the only National Champion on either side of my family. Hers was a well-earned accomplishment.
Their photos are below:

Don Thimmesch, ca 1935, first class of highway patrol in Iowa

(click on photo to enlarge)

Cecilia Thimmesch, Champion with the Rifle, 1939

Daughter, Carol, is rightly proud of her parents, as she has a right to be.
They were responsible gun users.
If we could go back to those olden days.
But not likely.
As I write, a radical government hater in Alabama is holed up in his survival cellar with a young school child as hostage after shooting the school bus driver last week. In his mind he had some point to make. [Note February 5, 2013: the kidnapper is dead, the child was rescued, yesterday.]
There is no good end to this gun story, as there are seldom good ends to gun stories, unless the gunman comes out of his cave with hands-up before the youngster and the gunman both die.
I suppose the guy thought he could beat the government by being armed and dangerous, having a hostage, and going into his underground shelter.
The moment he took action, he’d lost. And so had his innocent victim.
Yes, we do need to talk about rationale and new gun policies everywhere in this land. A suburban police chief from this area described the problem well, very recently: According to my friend, Greg, who knows the chief personally, here’s what he said: “He told of the progression of weapons his police officers carry. First it was a shotgun in the squad car. Then it became an MP-5. Now his officers carry an AR-15. The reason for the progression to greater and greater firepower? As Scott testified, the changes were necessary to keep pace with what the bad guys are carrying.”
In my opinion the NRA spokespeople can go to hell, at least in their current role as shill for the gun industry.
Where does one start on a “rational conversation”? Maybe how guns were viewed when Donald and Cecilia became noteworthy in Iowa, in the 1930s.

Here’s a commentary I received from a great friend who’s a school bus driver and lives on rural property in Vermont:
From Peter, February 1, 2013
The Samurai Always Left Their Long Knives at the Door
For some reason it has been slow going, looking at this crazy, bloody couple of months. My school has been locked down for a week now. Some jerk said something scary.
As a school bus driver it kind of struck a nerve when somebody shot a driver in Alabama and (at this writing) is holed up in a bunker with a kidnapped five-year-old. I guess the NRA would say all school bus drivers should be packing now. Among the drivers I know, every one of them would get between a shooter and a student without thinking about it first, and still would not carry a gun on the bus.
Among all the people I know, I can’t think of more than one or two I’d want to be around if they were “carrying.” For myself, if I ever find out somebody’s packing heat, I will explain that this is a problem that precludes whatever purpose brought us into the building, and leave.
Around here people check with the parents of their children’s playmates to see if they have guns in the house, and whether they are safely locked away. Half the kids around here, at a guess, are crack shots with a deer rifle.
As for hunters, almost every hunter I’ve met on my property has been drunk, and has pointed the gun carelessly at me or at their friends or their own feet, heads, whatever. I have zero faith in hunters to be “responsible gun owners.” We lose two or three a year, here, including kids, to accidental shootings. A farmer was shot while driving his tractor, mistaken for a deer. A blueberry-picker was shot, mistaken for a bear. Two died last year when one mistook the other for the deer, and then, seeing his mistake, shot himself. Best friends and long-standing hunting club members. This is in a county it takes about half an hour to cross on dirt roads.
I thought the police were supposed to be the ones with the guns and the training about when to shoot people. Imagine whipping out a Glock 9 in a shopping mall, for any reason. Whom would the cops point their guns at?
I like one idea I’ve heard: gun-owners’ insurance, similar to car insurance. Mandatory and expensive and track-record based. This sort of solution functions like a check-dam, changing the course of change rather than trying to plug the system. We used to call this “trim tabbing.”
The NRA is simply out of control, and should be investigated and drowned in lawsuits and put out of its misery, like the KKK.

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