Gun Ownership In Itself Is Not A Second Amendment Right

October 2, 2017

I hate to keep posting an updated version of my original post, which was first posted on July 28, 2012 after the horrific shooting at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado that left twelve dead and fifty-eight wounded, however, once again a mass shooting has shaken America to its knees, and those who lost their lives and their families cry out for me to do what little I can actually do about it, that being to put into writing my disgust with the gun culture and industry in this nation.

This time, in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, fifty-nine innocent people lost their lives and five hundred and twenty-seven were wounded Sunday evening during the conclusion of a three-day, outdoor country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. Audio from the massacre sounded like World War III had broken out on the streets of Vegas, however, it appears the carnage was committed by a sixty-four year old, white American man, armed with twenty-three firearms, including at least one automatic and high-capacity magazines. One can only imagine the uproar had this man been a Muslim with Middle East heritage.

Because these mass shootings seem to happen all the time in Second Amendment America, I decided to update the criteria for making the below list of mass murder in this nation since the Columbine High School slaughter, upping the minimum deaths to five in order to greatly limit the size of the post. The really sad thing is that my list includes only a fraction of mass shootings that occur on average every single day in America. Most of these shootings never make the national news and thus go unnoticed, except for the families involved. So far this year, there have been two hundred and seventy-three mass shootings in this nation in which four or more people were either shot or killed in a single event, not including the shooter, which is the criteria the FBI has set in determining a mass shooting. This equates to one per day.

Despite these senseless tragedies occurring quite often, I can already hear gun rights advocates opining that now is not the time to discuss new, effective national gun control laws, as they always do after every horrendous shooting. If not now, in the wake of fifty-nine innocent lives shot dead, and let us not forget five hundred and twenty-seven were wounded, when is the time to properly discuss gun control? Lest anyone dismiss my ramblings as some tree-hugging liberal, take it from a gun manufacturer; William Ruger, Sr., co-founder of Sturm Ruger firearms has been quoted as saying “No honest man needs more than ten rounds in any gun. I never meant for simple civilians to have my twenty or thirty-round mags or my folding stock.”

Proponents of gun ownership and the firearms industry cite the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution as the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms. However, these folks all seem to leave out the extremely significant first four words of the actual amendment. The Second Amendment, as passed by Congress on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill Of Rights states, “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.” If we cannot agree upon what constitutes a well-regulated militia (the word dates back to at least 1590 when it was reference in the book Certain Discourses Military by Sir John Smythe, who gave it the definition of a military force; a body of soldiers and military affairs; and a body of military discipline), there can be no disputing the meaning of well regulated. Yet, these very important first four words of the Second Amendment are never mentioned by gun advocates. It’s as if those four words do not exist.

America’s fascination with firearms has evolved into becoming the most violent nation on Earth, with the possible exception of those countries who are presently engaged in actual warfare, which it seems would include this nation as we have been at war (or wars) for twenty-five of the past thirty years. Even more incredibly, America, which was founded on the mass genocide of its indigenous people, has been engaged in some sort of military conflict two hundred and twenty-four years out of our two hundred and forty-one year existence. We are arguably the most violent nation in our planet’s history. We are currently bombing six nations on a somewhat semi-regular basis (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen), all the while the president seems intent on starting a potential nuclear war with North Korea, while also threatening Iran.

There is no excuse for any person to own a military assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine clip, yet our politicians who dare have the courage to speak up for sensible gun laws quiver in fear of reprisal from the National Rifle Association. Politicians who do speak out in favor of new gun control legislation face the wrath of the NRA come their next election. To believe that arming every citizen is the answer to curbing gun violence, as the NRA espouses is just preposterous. Growing up during the hay-day of Westerns ruling television networks, the image I always remember is that the very first thing the town sheriff did when cowboys came into town after a long, hard cattle drive to visit the local saloons was to take away their guns. However, just the opposite is occurring throughout America as more and more cities and states are allowing the concealed carrying of firearms into drinking establishments. Many feel the need to carry their firearms with them into their houses of worship. One can only wonder how God feels about that. My thought is he must be horrified. The ironic thing is that gun ownership does not make a person safer. Statistics show gun owners are far more likely to die from gun violence than non-owners.

The following is a partial list of mass murders that have taken place in the United States just since the horrendous tragedy at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 when two students killed twelve fellow students along with one teacher and wounding twenty-one others before committing suicide:

Twelve dead in Atlanta, Georgia in 1999,
Six dead in Fort Worth, Texas in 1999,
Five dead in Wichita, Kansas in 2000,
Seven dead in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 2000,
Five dead in Queens, New York in 2000,
Ten dead in Washington, D.C. in 2002,
Six dead in Chicago, Illinois in 2003,
Six dead in Birchwood, Wisconsin in 2004,
Seven dead in Brookfield, Wisconsin in 2005,
Ten dead in Red Lake, Minnesota in 2005,
Six dead in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania in 2006,
Six dead in Seattle, Washington in 2006,
Six dead in Carnation, Washington in 2007,
Five dead in Crandon, Wisconsin in 2007,
Thirty-two dead at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007,
Nine dead in Omaha, Nebraska in 2007,
Six dead at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois in 2008,
Six dead in Alger, Washington in 2008,
Thirteen dead (thirty-two wounded) at Ft. Hood, Texas in 2009,
Nine dead in Geneva County, Alabama in 2009,
Ten dead in Covina, California in 2009,
Thirteen dead in Binghamton, New York in 2009,
Six dead in Santa Clara, California in 2009,
Eight dead in Carthage, North Carolina in 2009,
Eight dead in Appomattox, Virginia in 2010,
Nine dead in Hartford, Connecticut in 2010,
Eight dead in Seal Beach, California in 2011
Seven dead in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2011,
Six dead (thirteen wounded) in Tucson, Arizona in 2011,
Six dead in Seattle, Washington in 2012,
Five dead in San Francisco, California in 2012,
Seven dead at Oikos University in Oakland, California in 2012,
Seven dead at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012,
Twelve dead (fifty-eight wounded) in Aurora, Colorado in 2012,
Six dead in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2012,
Twenty-six dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, 2012
Five dead in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2013,
Five dead in Federal Way, Washington in 2013,
Five dead in Manchester, Illinois in 2013,
Five dead at Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California in 2013,
Six dead in Hialeah, Florida in 2013,
Thirteen dead at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. in 2013,
Five dead in Spanish Fork, Utah in 2014,
Five dead in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2014,
Six dead in Spring, Texas in 2014,
Eight dead (grandfather/daughter/grandchildren murder/suicide) in Bell, Florida in 2014
Five dead at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Marysville, Washington in 2014,
Five dead in Morgantown, West Virginia in 2014,
Six dead in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2014,
Eight dead in Tyrone, Missouri in 2015,
Nine dead in Waco, Texas in 2015,
Nine dead in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015,
Six dead in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2015,
Eight dead (six children) in Houston, Texas in 2015,
Six dead (single-family murder/suicide) in Platte, South Dakota in 2015,
Ten dead (nine wounded) at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon in 2015,
Fourteen dead (21 wounded) in San Bernardino, California in 2015,
Six dead in Chesapeake, Virginia (family murder/suicide) in 2016,
Six dead in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2016,
Five dead in Glendale, Arizona in 2016,
Five dead in Belfair, Washington (family murder/suicide) in 2016,
Six dead in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania in 2016,
Eight dead in Piketon, Ohio in 2016,
Six dead (murder/suicide domestic dispute) in Appling, Georgia in 2016,
Five dead in Green Cove Springs, Florida in 2016,
Five dead in Moultrie, Georgia in 2016,
Five dead in Ravenel, South Carolina in 2016
Five dead in Roswell, New Mexico in 2016.
Forty-nine dead (fifty-three wounded) in Orlando, Florida in 2016,
Five dead (nine wounded in a sniper ambush against police officers) in Dallas, Texas in 2016,
Five dead (family murder/suicide) in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania in 2016,
Five dead in Citronelle, Alabama in 2016,
Five dead in Burlington, Washington in 2016,
Five dead (eight wounded) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2017,
Eight dead (domestic murder including sheriff’s deputy) in Brookhaven, Mississippi in 2017,
Six dead (workplace murder/suicide) in Orlando, Florida in 2017,
Five dead in La Madera, New Mexico in 2017,
And nine dead in Plano, Texas in 2017.

This is a staggering list of senseless murders and family lives shattered, and does not detail the total number of incidents along with the considerable number of wounded in the carnage, except in cases of large numbers of wounded. What is alarming is that the percentage of Americans who believe we need stricter gun control laws is decreasing. What does it take a nation to realize that something is desperately wrong with our culture of guns and violence?

The NRA convinced a good number of Americans that former President Obama’s hidden agenda was to take away all their guns. As a result, the number of firearms sold skyrocketed during his eight years in office. Yet, the only two firearm bills signed into law during his presidency reduced restrictions on gun control, contrary to popular opinion.

If a person wants to own a firearm, fine, join a well regulated militia as required by the Second Amendment. We, as a country always seem to be at war, so there will always be a need for someone who aspires to shoot something. I see nothing wrong with a hunter owning a few rifles, and have many friends who hunt, but as a general rule, hunters do not shoot their prey with assault rifles capable of firing hundreds of rounds semi- automatically or automatically without having to reload. For anyone to have the ability to purchase military assault weapons capable of creating the type of massacre seen in this country time and again over the past eighteen years is asinine.

Be it this latest, senseless mass shooting, tens of thousands of murders committed every year in America’s inner cities or our seemingly endless wars, this is a violent nation. Our founding fathers must be rolling over in their graves.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

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Where Is The Outrage?

September 27, 2017

As the list of Americans, which grows longer every day, that are outraged by NFL players kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, allegedly showing disrespect to our military, our flag and the country itself, I wonder how many are patriotic enough to have actually served their country? America’s two longest wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which are still ongoing, with no end in sight, and yet only one percent of Americans serve in the military, resulting in those who serve being sent into harm’s way over and over and over again. Some soldiers have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan more than a dozen times. Where is the outrage?

In addition to these two wars, America is also bombing on a somewhat semi-regular basis four other countries: Pakistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Where is the outrage? Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every single day. Where is the outrage? We have a president who appears hell-bent on instigating a nuclear war with North Korea. Where is the outrage over a potential nuclear war that could destroy planet Earth as we know it? The president also appears more than willing to get into a war with Iran. Where is the outrage?

It appears that Russia hi-jacked our 2016 presidential election, as more and more evidence comes forth seeming every single day, yet half the country, including nearly the entire Republican Party are in denial. Where is the outrage? We have a president who seems to be more interested in tweeting all day long than running the government, a man who apparently cannot tell the truth. Where is the outrage?

I find there are far too many more important issues facing Americans and humanity world-wide to be outraged because football players are kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, in protest of social injustice. There is so much pain and suffering in this world for anyone to be outraged by players protesting the all too common murder of black men by police.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

America v. North Korea

August 10, 2017

Tuesday morning, I awoke to news that America is about to become militarily engaged in the Philippines, chasing ISIL rebels throughout the jungle nation. I spent a lot of time in the PI (that’s what sailors called it) while in the Navy during the late ‘70s. Even back then, we were warned to avoid certain areas of the archipelago because of guerilla rebels fighting back against the tyrannical rule of Ferdinand Marcos, whom we helped remain in power and very wealthy, all the while his countrymen lived in extreme poverty.

Great, I thought, just what we need, yet one more military endeavor to go along with all the others. Since the horrific attack on September 11, 2001, the U.S. has invaded or are conducting drone missile attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. This does not include smaller, ongoing operations such as sending “advisors” and aircraft into Uganda in 2011 in search of Joseph Kony, or the three hundred troops sent to Cameroon in 2015 to help that nation combat its own rebels. Not to mention the occasional talk of taking aggressive action against Iran. Now, the president wants to add the Philippines to this ever-growing list?

When I turned on the television later that evening to catch up on the day’s news, I was shocked to hear potential war in the PI was no longer news, and that in response to Pentagon intelligence reports indicating that North Korea now has a miniature nuclear warhead capable of being launched atop an ICBM missile, the president boasted that country would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Before nuclear war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, we must remember that the Pentagon said the very same thing four years ago.

With a nuclear triad consisting of sixty-eight hundred missiles capable of striking anywhere on Earth, why are we so worried because one more country might have the ability to so do with one nuke? I am as much a pacifist as Edwin Starr, and despise nukes even as a means of electrical power, let alone weapons of mass destruction, but what gives us the right to possess nuclear weapons, yet no other country, or just a select few has the right to do the same? Kim Jong-un might appear hell-bent on waging war on America, but is he really crazy enough to face annihilation of his country by launching a single nuke at America?

With an annual defense budget of nearly $900 billion, we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. When combined with our intelligence agencies, we spend nearly $1.5 trillion on defense and intelligence related expenditures every year. Moreover, this does not include America’s ultra secret intelligence budget. Since September 11th, our government has built up such a top-secret network of intelligence agencies that no one knows how much it cost, how many it employs or how many agencies it runs. The defense budget itself has nearly doubled since 2000, yet where has all this spending gotten us? As a nation, we live in fear of another September 11th attack; all the while, our country is falling apart. America is bankrupting itself and it is not from our spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is from our imperialistic attitude and our attempt to dominate the world we call planet Earth.

In a rather sad, ironic twist, America is by far the world’s largest arms dealer, again nearly selling as many armaments as the rest of the world combined. Thus, not only are we bankrupting ourselves with our military spending, but we are also heavily arming the rest of the world. One must remember that America armed Saddam Hussein when he was at war with Iran in the 1980s and we armed Osama bin Laden when he fought the Russians in Afghanistan, also during the ‘80s. America has a very extensive history of arming and supporting malevolence dictators and lunatics, in the name of what is best for this country, not necessarily what is best for the rest of the world.

In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the country to beware of the mighty military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower stated “…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Coming from a five-star general, America should have listened.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Senator Lindsey Graham Is A Coward

July 28, 2017

Thursday afternoon, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican, had this to say about the Republican Party’s latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (i.e., ObamaCare), “I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done.”

Graham further called the so-called skinny repeal a “disaster” and “a fraud.” He went on to call it “the dumbest thing in history” and said it would drive up insurance premiums and would destabilize Wall Street markets, which in effect would destabilize world markets. The Republican Party has been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for eight years, and replace it with their own plan. Eight years later, they still do not have a passable alternative. How can that be? How is it that this party now controls the White House and both Houses of Congress, and yet still cannot get a bill passed?

When the Republican Party finally got around to voting on this disaster of a bill at 1:30 Friday morning, how did Graham vote? Of course, he voted for the bill, choosing to put party well ahead of the citizens of both South Carolina and America.

Lindsey Graham should be ashamed of himself. He act of cowardice is an embarrassment to both his state and country. His yes vote on the skinny repeal, despite repeatedly calling it derogatory names all day and night is exactly what is wrong with America’s broken political system, a system controlled by Big Business and Big Money.

Senator Graham was right about one thing. His vote was indeed horrible politics.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

U.S. – Cuban Relations (Or Lack Thereof)

June 23, 2017

The recent announcement by the president that his administration will roll back the normalization of relations with Cuba as enacted by former president Barack Obama, reeks of political pandering to the very small, yet very vocal Cuban-American community in the delegate rich state of Florida. Ironically, when President Obama announced the easement of the embargo, Cuban-Americans were outraged, yet the Cuban people rejoiced.

America’s fifty year embargo against Cuba via commercial, economic and financial sanctions did nothing but hurt the Cuban people and kept the Castro brothers in power all these years as they blamed America for all their hardship. Making matters much more dire, Russia has announced they are planning on opening a military base in the island nation located only ninety miles off the coast of Florida.

Even more ironic, just days after the announcement by the president that he is rolling back Cuban relations to Cold War status, Raul Castro has confirmed his plan to not seek another term as president when his current term expires in 2018.

What could ever possibly go wrong?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Another Massive Tax Cut For Big Business And Billionaires

April 28, 2017

With the president boasting that his one page tax reform plan (i.e., massive tax cuts for both Big Business and the wealthy elite) is the biggest in history, one thing for certain is that this proposed legislation will add to the soaring national debt, as experts are already opining that it will add an additional seven trillion dollars of debt over the next decade. The administration is saying this tax plan will pay for itself via economic growth. However, that was not the case when George W. Bush cut taxes twice during his terms in office.

Politicians, corporate leaders and business pundits all whine how the present corporate tax rate of 35% is the highest in the world, yet they fail to mention the average, effective rate paid by all corporations is only 12.8%, hardly unfair. Many of this nation’s largest corporations pay little, if any federal tax, including Boeing, General Electric, Priceline.com, Verizon, American Electric Power, First Energy, Duke Energy, Con-Ed and FedEx, among many others. These same people say reducing the corporate rate to 15% will create jobs, however, it is demand that creates jobs. U.S. corporations have been sitting on record piles of cash the past few years, which has done nothing to stimulate the economy. The problem is the working man and woman have little, if any discretionary income, as they are barely getting by on minimum wage jobs. Now days, it takes both the husband and wife working full-time jobs to raise a family, whereas a few decades ago all it took was for the husband to be the breadwinner.

Why is it that nearly seventy percent of U.S. corporations are regarded as non-profits? According to the latest available Internal Revenue Service statistics that I could find, the percentage of non-profits has grown from twenty-four percent in 1986 to sixty-nine percent by 2008. Why the sudden surge in the number of corporations that consider themselves not-for-profit? This percentage is far higher when you add in sole proprietors and partnerships.

Congress needs to investigate why, in 1959 the IRS changed the wording of the actual law regarding the qualifications for tax-exemption status, when they had no legal authority to do so. I am not an attorney, nor a tax expert (who is?); however, the law as written by Congress in Section 501(C) of the tax code requires any entity not organized for profit, applying for tax-exempt status as a social welfare organization to be operated “exclusively” for the promotion of social welfare. Some non-profit corporations that do not seemingly meet the requirement of exclusively promoting social welfare are the NCAA, PGA, LPGA and the NHL. The NFL just this month announced they are giving up their tax-free status, as Major League Baseball did in 2007.

Or, how about Wall Street bankers, earning millions of dollars a year, pay a federal rate of only 15% because their income is counted as capital gains. I guess that “golden rule” is true, isn’t it? Our tax code desperately needs overhauled, but once again slashing taxes paid by Big Business, millionaires and billionaires is not the answer. Nor will it simulate the economy. President Clinton raised taxes and the economy roared. George W. Bush cut taxes twice and he left office with the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Do I feel sorry for U.S. corporations or the wealthy elite who earn billions of dollars, yet pay little or no federal tax? Hardly.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Veterans Are Dying Left And Right, Or Are They?

April 26, 2017

If one were only to get their information about the Veterans Administration’s treatment of America’s military veterans solely via television, one would think the VA is performing a terrible disservice to those who served this nation, that veterans are dying at an alarming rate due to lack of adequate, or timely treatment. However, relying solely on the VA the past ten years for all my medical issues, I have been treated with the utmost care by the Dayton Medical Center, located in Dayton, Ohio.

A couple of months ago, I had a panic attack episode, however this one was much different from most because I blacked out. Two sisters (they are sisters, though not to me, but are like family) stopped by to help pick out some mats for a picture I was putting together for one of my Navy brothers, as I am colorblind. I was talking to one about the fish in one of my aquariums while logging online to my framing store with the other when the next thing I knew they kept asking if I were alright. I thought they were teasing me, as both like to do, but when I noticed my next door neighbor was standing beside them I knew something was wrong.

The sisters are aware of my panic attacks, but one went for my neighbor because she had not seen me black out before, which I had done, I believe only one other time, that being twenty years ago. After somewhat gaining my senses, I then went into one of my more “typical” panic attacks. I have been experiencing these attacks for the past twenty years due to a very serious mid-life crisis in which I lost everything of importance, including my health. When I lost my job as an audit supervisor with the Auditor of State of Ohio, I was taking 400mg of Zoloft daily, an amount entirely too excessive. Losing my benefits, I was forced to withdrawal cold-turkey from the anti-depressants, which caused several serious side effects that still linger with me to this day.

Ten years ago, I was kicked off of Medicaid because my state retirement, of which I have yet to receive any benefits, now counts as an asset because I can cash it in at any time, and my retirement account puts me over their income eligibility threshold. Thankfully, my four years of duty as a weatherman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-61) has provided all my medical coverage via the VA. Without this coverage, I do not know where I would be this day.

When I had the blackout episode, I sent an email to my prime care doctor to let him know what happened, as I was not scheduled to see him for another six months. I sent my doctor (whom I consider the best doctor I have ever had) my message on a Friday. The following Monday morning, I received a reply telling me he wants to see me right away.

The next week, I was at the Dayton Medical Center for my appointment, at which time they did an EKG test. Within three months, I had the following tests performed; ZIO Patch (monitoring my heart for two weeks), Echo-cardiogram and a CT scan of my brain. After each test, I met with the appropriate doctors to discuss the results, all of which indicated no problem signs.

I could have had an even shorter time frame to have had all of these procedures and follow-up appointments performed, however I ride with my local Veterans Service Commission as I have no transportation (my truck did not survive my mid-life crisis, it was either my truck or I, and thankfully the truck lost). Riding with the Veterans Service Commission, I always ask for an early afternoon appointment, which does not guarantee the quickest available appointment, so that my fellow riders will not have to wait for me for our long ride home.

Granted, one veteran dying from lack of proper medical treatment is a travesty. However, the VA system is this country’s largest medical system, and as such there are bound to be some problems. My guess is that the VA has become swamped by the enormous number of veterans it treats. In addition to all the aging vets it cares for, as a country currently involved in three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan & Syria), plus another four countries we are bombing on a semi-regular basis (Libya, Pakistan, Somalia & Yemen), the system has become overloaded with vets injured in battle facing serious, life-long injuries.

The Dayton Medical Center and my local Veterans Service Commission have been a life saver for me. I could not be more happier with the medical services they provide. My only complaint is that I wish the VA provided dental service.

Steven H. Spring
Earth