Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Ammo for Life"

I haven’t tried to write much on terrorism, guns and violence, at least not as related to current times, for three years—not since Sandy Hook. Mostly doing so is a therapeutic exercise as I try to figure out such events and writing often works better when attempting to organize thoughts rather that talking (which gets forgotten). However, even today's events have an historical thread that leads back to the subjects of this blog and often little known wars and military actions. Writing also produces something I can share if I choose to do so. People can take it or leave it, like it or not, some will, some won't and I will get a handful of positive emails (good), disagreeing emails (good too) and sometimes even a little hate mail that just serves to prove my point in regards to our state of affairs. However, there won't be much as this is after all just a family and Idaho history blog and not the New York Times nor very mainstream.
Tall .50 cal size used to carry fuses. c.Vietnam

At my offices upcoming Holiday party, I have been asked to do my “Ammo for life” gig again and bring one of my camouflage green ammo cans full of various “life” items. It's kind of like my magicians box. I am not sure I am up to it now and certainly don’t want to scare anyone in a public place of business because of a military ammo can, maybe my “Dirty Harry” gun holster as a movie prop or when pulling out my Roy Rogers pistols and holster from when I was a kid. Those were the days, Roy and Dale always saving the day, chasing away the bad guys but never any blood and guts and we always knew no one ever got hurt. These days I would need the orange safety plugs in the gun barrels, might get shot if I waved them at the wrong police officer (vast majority of which are great officers) or more likely by someone shooting me to steal a now collectible toy.

Terrorism is one thing and the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center slaughter seems to be fitting the definition of a planned, well equipped terrorist action by a couple of radicalized Muslims. Yes, we can say it! Of course throughout history we can find endless examples of radicalized segments of any group, religious or otherwise. Even if all guns had been banned in the state of CA it would not have stopped a thing. However, the gun debate always comes up anyway. Some well-intentioned folks live under the illusion that gun control in a planned terror attack would make a difference, and make the mistake of mixing radical politically religiously bred terrorism with old fashion American street violence. My heart aches as I have many Regional Center friends, colleagues and clients with the local agency offices and I know this shook them to the core—that such a place based on assisting, supporting and maximizing the lives of individuals with disabilities could be so brutally attacked.

Certainly having violence of any kind is a tragedy, and never helps, but the far right and far left solutions such as taking away or banning all guns or deporting or killing all Muslims are not solutions at all and only breed greater radicalism and discontent on all fronts. I guess we would also have to ban Olympic shooting, a popular sport since 1896. And no doubt archery will have to go too.

Many of you already know I am a gun owner, as are others in the family, many having owned guns for generations throughout the Pacific and Northwestern U.S. and other locations too, be it for protection, recreational shooting, collecting and/or hunting to keep freezers packed with legal game for consumption. Some served in the military where they learned to use guns or started about the same time they were learning to walk. We may have different views but have no radicals, terrorists and no Cecil the lion or elephant tusk hunters that I am aware of. We all want to keep those rights and aren't going to lose the second amendment but nowhere does it say you can do and have whatever the hell you want! I support reasonable gun controls, do not support the NRA because they won't even talk about anything with any reason and I am sick and tired of pointless self-serving arguments, chest pounding and posturing for political show and profiteering.

Beyond the gun issue, we have a behavioral problem, but I am not even talking about mental health that needs more attention too. I am talking about radicalization (there it is again!) in the halls of government, among current presidential candidates, at the top of many corporations, in the NRA leadership, in our entertainment industry (movies, TV, gaming, etc.), on our streets, in our schools and even in ourselves—all of which serves to perpetuate violence at its very worst. We like to use the label “radicalization” today only when it comes to terrorists and religious zealots (we have plenty of those too) but these days it has much broader applications and implications and we don't have to look very far to find it.

In entertainment, heaven forbid we get a peek of woman’s breast or a man’s penis unless of course they have been shot up, cut up or disfigured so violently we can’t recognize anything. No problem with that! And don’t tell me about parental guidance warnings and that kids aren’t seeing the worst of this stuff—they are! In the instant communication age, a real rape, murder or beheading is but a click away. The entertainment and tech industries need to stand up and where they are able to do so, limit frivolous violence, real or created, for mere news, entertainment purposes and, oh yes, profit. If we want kids and ourselves to learn about the real world, do show what happens to the solider on the battlefield that gets shot up, tortured or steps on an IED. I have not been there, don't claim to know, but can only listen to returning soldiers and some of those that come through my door for rehabilitation, some from my peer group still suffering the impacts of our involvement in Vietnam. Seeing a little more of the true realities of war would not hurt.

Then we have the wack job Neanderthals that measure their manhood by the length and thickness of their guns. Along with an obsessed NRA leadership, that despite being in a position to actually be a leader and broaden their membership rolls to include gun owners like me, have instead done everything they can to stop even the most reasonable and logical gun controls. The NRA actually does some great things (gun safety training, youth programs, historical preservation, etc.). I do belong to some gun groups that get grants from the NRA to support training, safely, etc. Unfortunately, the good work they can do gets lost in the leaderships (and many members) inability to think with any reason amid a sea of blood.

Some folks have this obsession with the government coming to take away your guns! I expect President Obama to personally show up at my door anytime but of course he better bring his birth certificate too (original, no copies accepted) if he wants in. If you act like a crazed nut case or break the law I would hope they do show up at your door. The DOJ, ATF and County Sheriff already have all my personal records and gun information. What do I care if it goes into an instant data base and gets checked every time I purchase another gun? I will probably get my gun faster. Please have at it! They have not knocked on my door yet but are welcomed to call, schedule a time and come check the guns they already know I purchased against what I have and to make sure they are all legal and safely secured.

The problem with all the resistance and refusal to change, is that states like CA often enact minor, useless measures on their own so politicians can say they did something and it is the law abiding, small gun owners and collectors like myself that end up being punished with more fees to the DOJ and more restricted purchasing while not one bit of gun safety is actually realized or enhanced. Under recently enacted CA law, even my own Federal Firearms License (FFL) for Curios & Relics was rendered useless. It must be those old WWII Japanese Arisaka's, German Mauser's or French Lebel's—as we know they are in such great demand by criminals, terrorists and rogue armies! I am, of course, being facetious for those that might not realize it. So we target relics but can’t agree on universal background checks, licensing and training for modern hand guns or limits on assault rifles. What is wrong with this picture? When I purchase more modern firearms, I am happy to ante up and go through the DROS process (Dealer Record of Sale for those not familiar with it) and wait my 10-days—and would have no issue with more training, licensing and demonstrating I know how to use it. However, paying and waiting for an old relic is a bit aggravating and does little or nothing for gun control or to save lives.

With state and federal law enactment not working, a new initiative is beginning to be circulated in CA to qualify for the ballot. In may or may not have merit and I will certainly give it a good read. I don't like ballot initiatives but the ballot box may or may not be the only way to possibly get something accomplished. Congress is certainly not going to do it and we don't seem to have the will to make them do so. Perhaps that is beginning to change.

When are corporate, media and entertainment leaders going to step up to the plate? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other gazillionaires, you have those billions and are doing some great things to improve the world. Some of those efforts in developing countries can actually counter terrorism efforts that feed on poor populations but we need a few billion or so right here to counter the NRA and home based poverty, violence and terrorism too.

Of course we have the never ending mess in the Middle East and need to finish it or get out and come back within our boarders where we have plenty of our own battles to fight that must be won. We all have to look at ourselves, take the responsibility to do more, be reasonable and civil (I didn’t say anything about civil disobedience not being OK) and put pressure on our corporate, religious, entertainment, government, etc., leaders to stop the double talk, put life before votes and profit, and quit putting the resolution or blame for everything on guns and gods. We all have a stake in this and need to move beyond just blaming. A pipe dream—perhaps. We have enough of a blood bath going on in the Middle East and need more focus on slowing down the one in the U.S.A. I don't have all the answers. However, one only need look in the mirror to see who is ultimately responsible for doing something.

We hope, we wish, we meditate, we pray, we demand—but that is not enough. We all want a more peaceful Holiday season, all seasons, but must continue the fight against enemies that directly threaten us, not remain mired in endless proxy wars abroad and, most importantly, begin and/or continue taking steps to heal, relieve anger and minimize all the violence we have right here at home among genuine Americans that too often ends in bloodshed.

Now where did I put that ammo can and my Roy Rogers pistols and holster? "Ammo for life" is about having some fun, some laughs and living. I need a little more of that right now too.

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