Liberal Gun Toter Talking Points

First off, I don’t really tote my gun much. And I do have more than one. In fact I have three: two rifles and a pistol. They rest quietly in the closet, disassembled, no good to anyone but me. I don’t fear for my life and have no plans to keep a firearm beside my bed, ready to shoot intruders. I detest the National Rifle Association. They are everything the media says about them and worse. They are a shill for the gun and ammo manufacturers and appear to have no real regard for citizens. But none of that is why I am writing this post. I am writing this for liberals and progressives and moderates and conservatives who don’t own guns or have never been around guns much and don’t understand them, and certainly don’t understand the broad range of reasons for gun ownership. I am writing this as a liberal gun toter who hopes to help his “side” make better arguments for restricting gun ownership.  Even more to the point, I want to get my liberal friends to stop making arguments that are so incorrect that the NRA loves you to say them.

Those of us who argue for greater restrictions on guns are on the right side of common sense, history, practical application of reason, and civilized society. We have the better case and the better argument. Yet we are losing, still. And not just because the NRA pumps millions and millions of dollars into the reelection campaigns of gutless and greedy politicians. The real reason why the reasonable opposition to unrestricted gun ownership is losing the war is because so many people who want to restrict gun ownership simply don’t know what they are talking about. And why should they? By definition they don’t own guns. Never have and never will. So they continue to build arguments that, in the eyes of the gun owners, makes the good, intelligent, enlightened side look like it has no clue. Now, if that offends you, I apologize. But it is true. And it’s time we started making better arguments and got rid of the really uninformed statements we have been bandying about. So let’s look at some arguments that are simply and factually incorrect.

“Guns only have one purpose–to kill.” Do you think Wayne LaPierre hears that charge and trembles at the mighty weight of its accusation? Hardly. He laughs because that statement plays right into his hands. That kind of statement benefits the NRA because the NRA knows what most gun owners know, and most non-gun owners don’t seem to know, and that is this–guns are most often used for target shooting. The kind of target shooting that gets a family out of the house together and up into the forests and hills. The kind of outing that gets the kids off the video games and away from the TV and off the phone and off the couch. I know because I went shooting with my son yesterday. This may not be your cup of tea but it is the cup of tea for a lot of Americans. Good, honest, educated, informed Americans. Americans who have a long tradition of responsible gun ownership and gun related recreation that harms nobody and no thing.  The point is that gun owners have many, many reasons for owning guns. When anti-gun fanatics–yes there are fanatics on both sides–righteously and passionately claim that “guns only have one reason…to kill”–we demonstrate a serious ignorance of the many other reasons to own them. At the same time we insult every law abiding gun owner. Whenever that claim is made the NRA aims their marketing railroad directly at the moderate gun owner who thinks background checks just might be a good idea and they repeat the question for you: “Is that what your gun is for? To kill? People?” And since the answer is a resounding “No” they then take the opportunity to remind that moderate gun owner that the real fanatics and the real extremists and the real ignorance is coming from the anti-gun folks. So quit using this argument. It makes you look like you’ve never owned a gun before, because you haven’t, but you don’t have to be ignorant. Ignorance insults the very gun owners you need on your side to shut the NRA up.

“We have to get rid of automatic weapons!” If you have said this or accepted someone else saying this because you don’t know the difference between an automatic weapon and a semi-automatic weapon, do some reading. (This diary is a good start.) Automatic weapons are weapons that fire continuously when the trigger is held down one time. When you let off the trigger the shooting stops. Semi-automatic weapons fire once every time the trigger is pulled. To fire more than one bullet, one must release the trigger and pull it again. This can make for rapid shooting but not nearly as rapid as an automatic weapon. In general, and in most locales, automatic weapons are highly restricted, even illegal. Every time the uninitiated refers to a semi-auto weapon as an automatic weapon, the very gun owners we need on our side, those very gun owners who really don’t care much for the NRA, simply stop listening to us and turn their collective attention back to…the NRA. To them it is more proof that the ”anti-gun nuts” have no idea what they are talking about. Gun fanatics and extremists use this anti-gun ignorance as proof (and yes it is proof) that we don’t know what we are talking about. We may be entirely right in our moral points. We may be entirely right in our desire to restrict gun ownership to responsible persons. We may be entirely right about everything else we say. But when we mis-identify auto- and semi-automatic weapons, we lose the argument in the eyes of every gun owner we might have swung over to our side. Get it right.

Stop arguing with gun owners who say, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” because it is true. Partly. Guns and bullets and the people who use them kill people. And since people are in the equation, as admitted by the gun folks, let’s start using their own argument that in nearly every case (yes, there are rare cases of freak accidents) a person was irresponsible, or stupid, or mentally ill, or angry, or drunk, or committing a crime, or whatever…but a person had a finger on the trigger. That is the very reason for restricting gun ownership. Yes, gun fanatics, you got this one right. And incredibly wrong at the same time.

Anyway, I got to thinking about this because yesterday I shot up a couple of boxes of .17′s, and .22′s with my son. We set up some empty water bottles in the snow at the end of a mountain road with a good hill as a backdrop for safety. We made sure nobody was anywhere around us. We had a great time. I got to hang out with my son and we talked about his job and mine. We solved half of the world’s problems and left the other half for later. When we finished, we picked up the bottles and our brass and headed home.

Next up, assault weapons and extended clips…

Small Town Hate-Sign Guy Strikes Again

I live in one of the most beautiful small towns in America. However, just about every visitor to our town has to drive by this sign just as they enter. The owner of the sign puts up a new angry message every few weeks. Here is the latest.

The shame of it is that we are a great town with great people. Everyone I know in town–conservatives, liberals and the non-political–all are a bit embarrassed by this sign. We have amazing natural beauty, a great school, wonderful arts festivals, and a summer small town fair that most communities wish they had.

Drive through town and you see this idyllic creek. I get to drive over this bridge a couple of times every day.

Look to the north and get a close up of Mt. Adams. As the crow flies, the summit is about 10 miles from town.

We have stunning mountain lakes right outside of town…

with great fishing opportunities…

Plenty of snow for the winter enthusiasts…

At any rate, I have decided that every time this guy puts up a hate-filled message I will post it and juxtapose it with some photos that should give him reasons to count his blessings rather than just complain. He lives in this town, after all, and we all have nothing to complain about!

Another Example of the Oxymoronic (or just Moronic) Economy

Sequestration begins, cuts have already begun, and the Dow closes at its highest level this year. Hmmm…

Finally a Republican Plan that Inspires Me!

Once the Conservatives finally discovered that the country is not moving to the right as they claimed; and once they discovered that their position on guns and gays were far out of step with the majority of Americans; and once they discovered that their positions on not raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans were opposed by the vast majority of voters; and once they discovered that their position on climate change, intelligent design and prayer in schools was not so well received by the electorate; and once they discovered that Mitt Romney did actually lose the election…they finally decided they needed to make a few dramatic changes. The new strategy is, of course, to simply change the way the votes are counted. Forget the very basic premise of the nation’s democratic foundation: one man one vote because the Neo-Conservative leadership in America truly believe that every conservative vote is worth more than any liberal, progressive or independent vote.

If you listen closely to the arguments by the Republican vote riggers, you can hear rationalizations, yes, but also a real idea: Rural Americans deserve disproportionate political representation. Charles W. Carrico, a small-town Republican state senator from Virginia who sponsored his state’s Electoral College–alteration bill, said, “People in my district—they feel discouraged by coming out because their votes don’t mean anything if they’re outvoted in metropolitan districts.” Jase Bolger, speaker of the state House of Representatives in Michigan, likewise fretted over the voting power of the urban hordes: “I hear that more and more from our citizens in various parts of the State of Michigan, that they don’t feel like their vote for president counts, because another area of the state may dominate that or could sway their vote.”

Seriously, the new plan to retake the White House and Congress  is to take the losing side and simply find a way to call it the winning side. Is there anything more Orwellian than that?

With control over so many state legislatures, Republicans have already done some of the most creative gerrymandering imaginable. And now that the legislative districts are all screwed up in favor of their party they want the electoral college to reflect the skewed representation. It apparently wasn’t enough in the last election to close polling places in Florida where minorities–read democrats–vote, creating long lines. It wasn’t enough to purge legal voters from the rolls, place robocalls deceiving voters about polling places and times, the sudden need without any justification for voter ID cards, electronic voting machines changing votes, and Billboards in Ohio intimidating minority voters–all of these were not quite enough to steal an election. (And I haven’t even mentioned hanging chads and the Supreme Court of 2000.) Since none of those strategies worked, Conservative leaders will only be satisfied when they can lose and still win.

So, this story has inspired me. It really has. Among other responsibilities I have, I am the Athletic Director at a school that has struggled in recent years in basketball. Since one team in our league dominates year in and year out, I have decided to propose a few rules changes. From now on, the best team has to do all the travelling while the worst teams get to play at home all the time. That means the best team has to ride on a school bus for 1-2 hours while the less competitive teams get to sleep in on Saturdays. I’m also changing the scoring rules. Every time THEY make a basket it only counts for one point. All of OUR baskets will count as three-pointers. (Because after all, it isn’t how many baskets you make, it’s how many points you have.) WE will no longer have to follow rules of “travelling” and “double-dribble” and from now on officials can only call three fouls on each of OUR players. THEY will have to play with four players on the floor while WE get to play with six. At the end of the game there will be a score that was arrived at, based on the new rules and the winner will be declared. Seems reasonable to me. I’m calling it the Republican Plan.


One Prediction for President Obama’s Second Term

Obama will fix ObamaCare. It needs fixing mainly because it was never really the best idea. And why on earth would someone select  national health care plan that was anything other than the plan that came in first place? Why indeed? Seems like a reasonable question. But the whole thing got all tangled up in politics, compromise, deception.  Those are the nice words that describe how we got to ObamaCare.

Sidebar: I realize that the Affordable Care Act will make it so that tens of million more Americans will have health insurance. I understand about the expanded coverage for college students. I have read about the free prenatal care and cancer screenings. I understand about the emotional and financial relief for so any families with some  member who has been denied coverage simply because they really need coverage. I believe that it will be good for the economy and for society in general. And I also know that for the first time in decades my health insurance costs stayed exactly the same as the previous year while I received greater benefits. That hit me immediately. In my wallet and in my life. Just being honest.

One thing for certain, ObamaCare is much better than what we have been living with, or dieing without: the ever expanding cost of health care and health care insurance, coupled to the ever increasing list of medicines and procedures and pre-existing conditions that swell the NOT COVERED list. But I read  a blog today on the Huffington Post that led to some comments that eventually got to this response about ObamaCare exchanges from a RubyMontana. She had a bit of criticism for ObamaCare that I think has some merit.

In October the exchanges will be open for business. Governments will staff this highly trained bunch to navigate you through ObamaCare.
When you are finished with that, more government staff will look at your tax return (yes, you will need one if you want that subsidy) and tell you how much you get towards your required coverage.
Should be fun!
For those of us who have been doing our own work, this is a no-brainer. For those that want it all done for them, you will learn a difficult and expensive lesson. RubyMontana.

I’m not totally convinced that life will be as dire as Ruby says, but she did get me thinking about how much I appreciate ObamaCare and the work that went into it–but here’s the thing, it’s not the final answer.  So for now, in spite of, or because of, the awful experience RubyMontana says I should expect from the exchanges, I’ll continue to visit my friendly Nurse Practitioner and follow her advice as she is the one who monitors my health much more than I ever will. Then I will continue to push for single-payer, government managed health care to replace this good first intermediate step that got fashioned in this form to appease the republicans who then stabbed a president in the back by turning their own backs on the deals they made. It was the Conservative Corporate Congressional demand for appeasement that makes Obamacare something far below the ideal. But its also all we could get–for now.  Anyway…

This president doesn’t strike me as one who likes to settle for less than what he knows is the best. He makes deals, yes. But I believe he yet strives for some high ideals.

Sidebar: Consider the range of high ideals this last term, from endorsing gay marriage, gays in the military and women in combat roles, to his supreme court appointments, to supporting an investment in the auto industry, to doubling auto efficiency standards, to ObamaCare, his “signature” accomplishment.

With all that said, my big prediction for the next four years is that before this term is over, President Obama will get health care right. Hey, it’s got his name on it.

More Disgusting Hate Filled Signs



Driving up I-5 from Portland to Seattle/Tacoma this is what greets you about half-way. This is the new message–front and back–put up just for the MLK three-day weekend traffic. Besides being simplistic and overly disgusting, isn’t it just what America needs to have shoved in our faces on a day we are trying to remember a man of peace?

Add to this signage the fact that the Portland progressive radio station and the Seattle progressive radio station both changed to all day sports formats, and I felt like I was back in Eastern Washington driving a lonely stretch of conservative hell. Scanning through channels I kept getting pieces of Michael Medved, some Lars Larson and way too much Sean Hannity.  Lucky for me I like ESPN.

Seriously, that billboard is huge and spews more hatred than Limbaugh. What kind of signs are the haters putting up on your highways?


Yes, They Did Boo Paul Ryan at the Inauguration. Duh!

To all apologists for Paul Ryan and the booing he received. Booing is pretty tame when you consider that people view Ryan as the Anti-Robin Hood. Ryan wants to take from the working classes and give to the wealthy and that makes him a modern day Sherriff of Nottingham. A lackey for the truly rich, doing their bidding, worming his way into every old boys network of old money. So folks boo him. Duh!

Neo-conservative Rifle Association

Like many of you I have been watching and listening to the Great Gun Debate in America. I would like to say I am fascinated by the discussion, but I’m not. To be fascinated I would have to be somewhat surprised. But who can be surprised by what has transpired over the last few weeks? In the wake of multiple shootings and horrific tragedies, the President has responded to the demands of a large majority of the population by proposing reasonable firearm regulations. The NRA has responded as they always do by drawing a line in the concrete and demanding that the only solution to gun violence is…more gun violence.

So I compiled my own personal list of things the Neo-conservative Rifle Association is for and against, based on the statements of Wayne LaPierre, Paul Ryan and numerous other voices who want only to scare you so that they may profit.

For: Guns for everyone.

Against: Health care for everyone who gets shot.

For: Large ammunition magazines that can slaughter a lot of sparrows, squirrels, deer and …people.

Against: Taking the time to actually reload.

For: Absolute access to firearms and ammunition instantly.

Against: Stopping criminals and the mentally unstable from instant and absolute access to firearms and ammunition.

For: Violent resolutions.

Against: Peaceful resolutions.

For: Old Testament and an eye for an eye.

Against: New Testament and turn the other cheek.

For: Keeping and bearing arms.

Against: A well regulated Militia. (Whatever that means.)

For: Shoot first and ask questions later.

Against: Preventing shootings from happening because nobody stopped to ask questions.

For: Stand your ground law.

Against: Civility.

For: Minority rule.

Against: Democracy.

For: Yelling and bullying.

Against: Listening.

For: Our way or the highway.

Against: Any reasonable compromise.

For: Buying politicans’ votes.

Against: Anyone who votes against their demands.

For: More guns equal less gun violence.

Against: Logic and common sense.



Today everything changed at school.

Staff meeting first thing in the morning. The superintendent addressed the staff with some new changes. First, every classroom will be locked and the doors will be closed during instructional time. Second, nobody leaves the classroom without a hall pass. Third, A security consultant arrived at 11:00 to advise us on how to install a buzzer at the front door with an intercom system and a closed circuit camera monitoring the entrance. Fourth, all visitors that enter the building must have a visitors badge. Fifth, we ordered stanchions for the front, the kind of posts and barriers that will direct all traffic to the office door.

If these precautions seem to be the kinds of things that should have been in place all along, let me explain a bit about my town and my school. I am the assistant principal and a teacher at a very small K-12 school with 200 total students in the district. We are all in one beautiful building.  The outside grounds are litter free and the interior misleads people into believing our building is quite new when it is actually over 20 years old. My town has a permanent, year-round population of about 800 people. We are high up in the mountains and this time of year we are basically at the end of the road. (15 inches of new snow on the ground and snowing hard as I write this.) We have small class sizes and students call teachers by their first names. We all know each other and parents and teachers socialize a lot. We don’t lock our houses and we leave our keys in the car. But after Sandy Hook our parents are scared. After Sandy Hook I am still somewhat in shock.

As of today, Mrs. Smith will not be allowed to bring the lunch sack her son left on the kitchen counter and drop it off in his classroom. No more will those three responsible high school girls be allowed to work their group projects in the hallway. No more will Mike and Sammi be trusted to leave class to get a drink or to use the restroom without carrying a “passport.” No more will parents just walk into the building and drop in on their son or daughter’s first grade classroom. And I am very saddened by this. Gun violence on the other side of the continent has forced us into being something we have resisted for a long time.

Yes, Socialized Canadian Health Care has waiting lists. In the U.S. capitalist system we have what we call appointments… and wait even longer.

and pay more…

and get less…

and die younger…

and our babies die more often…