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Friday, February 23, 2018

ON ARMED GUARDIANS IN SCHOOLS - A FACEBOOK COMMENT

JC Leahy

The following reply to a comment was rejected by Facebook, so I publish it here to link back to Facebook.  

Hi Alicia. Sorry to be tardy in responding. I was celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary (Yay!! 40 years!!!), then dealing with a health issue, and then dealing with a bit of a family tragedy. Life! There is good and there is bad!

Now, where were we? Oh, yes, we were focused on the bad. Thank you for joining the conversation. It is wonderful to hear from you! Ellen had just asserted that there were 19 school massacres thus far in 2018. I had responded by pointing out, among other things, that statement was grossly bogus – which is to say inaccurate and misleading. You came to Ellen’s defense on that point and gave your perspective on the school massacre problem as a teacher.

On the 19 massacres statistic, I am reluctant to spend many words on this. There simply have NOT been anywhere near 19 school massacres in 2018. The statistic that Ellen referred to came from an organization called Everytown for Gun Safety, and was popularized by tweets from Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, a guy named Jeff Greenfield, and several actors and musicians. Unfortunately – or fortunately – the statistic is bogus. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave some sort of Pinocchio award for Everytown for Gun Safety’s figures, meaning that the figures are a lie.. For example, on January 3, a 31 year old man in his car parked in a school lot phoned police and said he was armed and suicidal. He then killed himself. There were no teachers or students in the elementary school. In fact, the school had been closed for 7 months. In late January, someone reportedly fired a gun in the parking lot at a high school basketball game. No one was hurt, it was 8pm, and classes had long before ended for the day. Another incident involved a police officer. Apparently a 3rd grader crept up on him and pulled the trigger of his holstered handgun. Naturally, everyone was startled, but no on was hurt. Another involved a licensed peace officer who ran a college justice club of some sort. A club member accidentally pulled the trigger of a real gun rather than a training gun. Again, everyone was startled by no one hurt. These are NOT the kinds of incidents that qualify as “school massacres.” Indeed, all in all, it is my understanding that only 5 of the 18 (not 19) incidents occurred during school hours and resulted in any physical injury.

It makes me sad to see statistics like that so distorted because it draws us into focusing on (arguing about) the terms of the debate rather than actually solving the problem, which is school massacres. Criminal violence in schools is a big enough problem that it requires no dishonest exaggeration.

You also recounted emotionally how you have hidden in dark closets with children during active shooter drills. I agree that this is not good for the emotional well being of children. I, myself, remember participating in such drills when I was in elementary school. We were hiding from a nuclear attack, crouched down in the hallways in neat little rows of children, kneeling with our hands clasped over the backs of our necks. I doubt that this would have helped us in the event of a nuclear attack. I heartily agree with you that such drills may not be helpful, and probably are not good for the happiness of the children involved.

I also agree that children should have more support, food, and lots of other things at home. I myself grew up in a ramshackle, rodent infested old house with only-sometimes running well water, in a dangerous neighborhood, a long walk on a dusty road away from the nearest food store. That’s life. I was happy anyway. The lack of things didn't, however, make me go out and shoot kill anyone. It would, however, have been nicer to have more support, food, and lots of other things. So we agree.

I agree also that it is distasteful to see armed guards everywhere. My wife and I visited her native Philippines in 2006. The main thing I didn’t like about the Philippines was that there were armed guards EVERYWHERE. Every little shopping center had a uniformed guard with a machine gun. The bank had neatly uniformed guards armed with shotguns, inside and outside the bank, and to get into the bank you had to talk to the guard outside, who talked to the guard inside, who opened a big security gate to let you and only you in. At the grocery store, similar to a Giant Food or Safeway, I counted no fewer than five armed guards posted near the checkout counters. We went to a hotel at one point, and the porter who carried our luggage carried a shotgun in his other hand. There were armed guards everywhere, and it made me uneasy. So, I agree with you again.

Now that we agree on so many things, let’s focus on the problem at hand: which is, school massacres. Columbine was the first, and since Columbine we have made absolutely no changes in the way schools are patrolled and guarded!!! We know that virtually all school shooters are under 25 years old. We know that the perps use a variety of weapons, including handguns and military-looking semiautomatic rifles. In the Florida instance, the 19-year-old perp actually bought the weapon legally himself. Your proposal is that what we need is more counselors, nurses, psychologists, etc. in schools. You also want to ban military-looking semiautomatic weapons. I simply think that so many counselors, nurses, psychologists, etc for every school in America would cost so much that it is very unlikely to happen at all. If it DID happen, it is doubtful that the extra resources would solve the problem, although they might help. The main consideration is that this solution is SO expensive that it is very unlikely to happen. The other part of what you want, banning military-looking semiautomatic weapons is unlikely to solve the problem. Other weapons are available to killers. For example, the Benton, Kentucky shooting which you cited, in which 20 people were shot and 2 killed, was carried out with an ordinary handgun. Banning certain “mean looking” rifles will simply not solve this problem.. Which leaves the terrible problem unsolved.

So, what to do? We do know that most of these young perps come from dysfunctional (fatherless) homes. There is no easy solution for that. We also know that all or nearly all of the school massacre perps are under the age of 25. It seems obvious that it would be helpful to keep firearms out of the hands of persons under the age of 25. I know from experience that there are just too many hormones powerfully at work prior to that age to make gun unsupervised gun possession safe. The Florida perp had no criminal record and purchased his gun legally at the age of 18, for crying out loud! We also know that a number of these perps were taking psychiatric drugs. Some psychiatric drugs have documented behavioral side effects, including “homicidal ideation.” I think that bears serious looking into.

For, for do-able actual solutions, I say (1) ban the sale and possession of firearms for persons under the age of 25 and make parents or guardians responsible if they get a gun from home, and (2) have some sort of armed guardian presence in schools. I THINK THAT WOULD GO A LONG WAY TOWARDS SOLVING THE PROBLEM. I hate seeing armed guards everywhere. I even hated it when the Alexandria high schools hired “bouncers” in the early 1970's to control unruly students after racial integration, but the situation was dire and required bouncers. They do arm some teachers in Israel, and that seems to work for them. In America, it might have to be police officers because a lot of teachers would be uncomfortable with the guardian role. I understand that perfectly. I’m a registered nurse. I have been asked by hospitals more than once to eject unruly visitors, and my response has always been that dealing with violent persons is not my job; that is for hospital security to handle. So I can understand a teacher not wanting to take on the role of protecting children. However, the situation is dire, and SOMEONE has to do it. Police are expensive, but police may be the way to go. Some teachers might be willing to be trained to carry concealed weapons. I have a concealed carry permit, myself, and it’s not that big a deal. A few armed teachers could save the day in a situation like the Florida massacre, and their presence would probably be a deterrent. If not teachers, then we need to assign police. Also, the psychiatric drug angle needs serious looking into. We have to do SOMETHING, and it must be something that will likely solve the problem of school killings, rather than something that just makes us feel good or accomplishes some pre-existing aim

Friday, February 16, 2018

ON THE FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE

JC Leahy

My own humble opinion goes like this: Donald J. Trump did not cause the Florida school massacre. The Florida shooting is very upsetting, heartbreaking. I am eager to learn more about the shooter so I can form more of an opinion about what caused this. I do agree with those who suggest that posting a reasonable number of armed personnel, police, in schools is, at this point, a no-brainer, and would go a long way towards solving this terrible problem. The Israelis have armed personnel (teachers in the Israeli case) in each school and there are no school killings. Police would be more do-able in America. However, I think that there must be deeper social issues at work in America. When I was in high school, many of us young men had guns (at home mostly) but there were no problems with school shootings. There were even shooting clubs at some schools, but not at my particular high school. We need to understand what has changed to truly solve this problem. My money is on the lack of a stable mother-and-father family, especially when bringing up boys is involved. The NRA? It's been around for a long time, is an absolute expert on safety matters, has wholesome intentions, pretty decent members as far as I can see, and is not the problem. The National Rifle Association actually offered to train school security personnel nationwide. Also, let's be too focused on the type of weapon. Without going into excessive detail, the AR-15 is not a military grade rifle, and the difference between it and many standard hunting rifles is PURELY cosmetic. In point of fact, Nikolas de Jesus Cruz could have done equal damage with a standard pump-action shotgun loaded with standard 00 buckshot and a pocketful of extra shells. (Just feed shells from your pocket a few at a time as you go, and your gun is NEVER empty.) I say (1) place a reasonable number of armed police in each school, and (2) do not allow anyone younger than 25 years old to buy any gun or possess any gun except possession with direct and immediate parental supervision. Hormones are running too high and maturity too low before the age of 25. THOSE 2 MEASURES WOULD HAVE PREVENTED VIRTUALLY ALL PAST SCHOOL KILLINGS!!! STOP with all the acrimony and foul language!! Those 2 measures could be accomplished more easily and with less political anguish and foul language than draconian gun control measures! But you still have to take a hard look at underlying social issues. Just a constructive suggestion.

ON ASSAULT RIFLES -- THE LEAHY SOLUTION

JC Leahy

 "Assault rifles" that are legal to buy are not military grade rifles, and the difference between them and many standard hunting rifles is PURELY cosmetic. In point of fact, Nikolas de Jesus Cruz could have done equal damage with a plain, old-fashioned pump-action shotgun loaded with standard 00 buckshot and a pocketful of extra shells. (Just feed shells from your pocket a few at a time as you go, and your gun is NEVER empty.) The problem, or one of the problems, is that Nikolas de Jesus Cruz had ANY gun at all!! 

I do agree with those who suggest that posting a reasonable number of armed personnel, police, in schools is, at this point, a no-brainer.  It would go a long way towards solving the terrible problem of school massacres. The Israelis have armed personnel (teachers in the Israeli case) in each school and there are no school killings. Police would be more do-able in America. However, I think that there must be deeper social issues at work in America. When I was in high school, many of us young men had guns (at home mostly) but there were no problems with school shootings. There were even shooting clubs at some schools, but not at my particular high school. We need to understand what has changed to truly solve this problem. My money is on the lack of a stable mother-and-father family, especially when bringing up boys is involved. 

The NRA? It's been around for a long time, is an absolute expert on safety matters, has wholesome intentions, pretty decent members as far as I can see, and is not the school massacre problem. 

My own humble  solution: (1) place a reasonable number of armed police in each school, and (2) do not allow anyone younger than 25 years old to buy any gun or possess any gun except possession with direct and immediate parental supervision. Hormones are running too high and maturity too low before the age of 25. THOSE 2 MEASURES WOULD HAVE PREVENTED VIRTUALLY ALL PAST SCHOOL KILLINGS!!! 

I have been told that restricting gun purchases for those under the age of 25 would unfairly discriminatory.  First of all, the school killings situation calls for some do-able solutions and personal-liberty/discrimination argument seems to call for inaction. After all, if states can forbid the sale of alcohol to adults under the age of 21, SURELY they can restrict the sale of guns to adults under the age of 25. This wouldn't discriminate against anyone because everyone who is under 25 will be 25 in due time. If the actual situation is that a 19 year old cannot buy a bottle of whiskey because of his lack of maturity, but he can  buy a firearm, there's something wrong with that  picture.  In the spirit of being serious about a do-able solution , I advocate to not allow anyone younger than 25 years old to buy any gun or possess any gun except possession with direct and immediate parental supervision.

 The NRA actually offered to train school security personnel nationwide, and was rejected. It seems to me that the NRA could be part of the do-able solution! Just my opinion, of course, but it does seem like a no-brainer, given the gravity of the situation and the need for an ACTUAL SOLUTION.  Time to get serious!

RESPONSE TO BERNIE SANDERS ON CANADIAN HEALTH CARE:

JC Leahy

Bernie Sanders has apparently been asserting that Canadians do not wait long times for needed health care.  I can only say that my wife's relatives in Canada are very pleased with their Canadian health care system. In fact, a certain E.C. and his wife visited us here in Silver Spring, Maryland a while back and mentioned that he had recently had cardiac bypass surgery. He said he only had to wait 7 days and his total cost was only $7. Wow! I was impressed, and I told him so. I said that I had read that there was a BIG business in the US providing cardiac surgery for Canadians who couldn't get timely surgery in Canada. So I was really impressed to hear about E's short wait time.
E said, "Well, I went standby."
"Standby?? What do you mean 'stand
by'?" I asked.
"You have to know the system,” said E with a sly look. “ I was lucky that my doctor knew the system well. It's like flying standby on an airline. You sign up to take a surgical slot in case someone else cancels."
I was amazed, and asked, "Sooo....somebody else cancelled, and you got to take his spot, and you only had to wait 7 days for this to happen?"
"Yes."
"Well, why did he cancel?"
"Oh, he died."
"How long was he waiting?"
"Oh, he was waiting for a long time."
 "So he died waiting for a long time for cardiac surgery, and you snapped up his spot in line, and you only had to wait 7 days?  Do you see anything wrong with that picture, E ?"
 "No. I only had to wait 7 days. It worked out for me."

 Footnote: to get medical treatment on a "standby" basis, you pretty much have to be in the immediate vicinity of Toronto or one of the other big cities. If you live elsewhere, this administrative trick won't work for you because you have to be at the hospital STAT when your standby slot “opens.”. Although I’m happy that my relative E got his cardiac surgery so quickly in Toronto, the system strikes me as unfair to the guy who had to die waiting, as well as for those who don’t live in Toronto or some other big city.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

POLITICAL QUIZ

If you want a tough question here's one: Let's just say for the sake of consideration that some American presidential candidate went through his or her lawyer to hire a firm to hire a British ex-spy to collect fake dirty facts from a hostile foreign power, say Russia, and other nefarious sources, and disguised those fake facts as intelligence reports, combined the fake reports into a dossier, leaked the fake dossier to the press, and fed it to the FBI and Justice Department. who in turn KNOWINGLY used the fake dossier, along with news reports about the fake dossier, to defraud the FISA courts 4 times to obtain 360 days of wiretapping and surveillance of the opposing presidential candidate at the height of a close presidential election, then hatched a plan to fix that US presidential election and undermine the dis-favored candidate if he should win. I mean, I know it sounds like unlikely fiction, but let's just say....In that case would you agree that the responsible folks in the Justice Department, FBI, and the offending presidential campaign would NEED to be prosecuted for the sake of the integrity democracy in America? Leave a comment to let me know your opinion.  --  JC Leahy