Thursday, January 24, 2013

If Beyonce Lip Syncing Is A National Crisis - We’re Doomed

Whether a singer performed live or used a recorded voice track at the Presidential inauguration has taken over the news for days and it illustrates how easily we are distracted by shiny objects while other things go to hell in a hand basket. Think of latest hot news items, Lance Armstrong’s doping, Manti Te'o’s fake girlfriend and Beyonce.

With all of the things going on in the world such as many hostages dying in a raid to free them in Africa, shootouts on college campuses and the upcoming debt ceiling fight, lip-sync gate took over the news cycle. What this shows more than anything is the erosion that has occurred inside news organizations over the years. What passes as hot news today would have been left off the list of items to pass across the lips of a hard news anchor in years past.

As we get carpet bombed with Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian stories some pliable minds actually start to believe that knowing every move these individuals make is really what matters and why shouldn’t they given the amount of precious airtime devoted to covering them. The current news coverage exposes how network news divisions have just become extensions of the entertainment side of media companies.

Even coverage of politics has become slanted towards an entertainment and sensationalism angle. Over the last four years much of the political coverage focused on the outrageous and outlandish and politicians took notice. Some borderline competent politicians became media stars because of their looks, over the top statements and offbeat behavior. We only really seem to focus on hard news during a crisis such as an outbreak of war, a national tragedy or a natural disaster.

Our culture has created a population of distracted individuals that on the surface does not seem to be a problem, but not everyone is distracted by shiny object. Some individuals are very focused on their tasks. One of the clues to being a good pickpocket is to distract your intended target and that has been accomplished on a massive scale. A few are focused and becoming very wealthy from the pockets of those engrossed in lip sync gate and whatever the next shiny object that will be thrust upon us as a crisis. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Second Amendment Pimps

The Second Amendment has become a marketing slogan for the gun industry and gun lobby to continue to rake in huge profits by using it as a shield to escape accepting any responsibility for their product’s role in escalating violence in America. This pimping of the Second Amendment to pump up gun sales is perverse and borderline immoral.

Any amount of reflection will reveal the response after almost every mass shooting from gun advocates and the gun lobby to any mention of improved gun controls is a sharp 2nd Amendment knee jerk reference to weakening the Second Amendment. Guns are a unique product in that they are designed to cause great damage to any object it is fired at. The reference often cited for automobile deaths is invalid because cars are designed for transportation and not penetration injury by a projectile. Outside of war, the primary legal uses of guns in civil society are for protection, sport and collection. Criminals have long used guns in commission of crimes such as robbery and unfortunately some conflicts often involve guns with deadly consequences. The one area that guns seem to be used in an increasing manner is mass shootings such as in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado when heavily armed assailants burst onto the scenes with semiautomatic weapons equipped with high capacity ammunition magazines and slaughtered innocent Americans. Any mention of lowering the kill capacity by even limiting ammunition magazine capacity are met with cries of weakening the 2nd Amendment and gun sales increase. This automatic response to avoid the gun industry taking responsibility amounts to a pimping of the 2nd Amendment for profit over pain.

Is asking some to “suffer” by only being able to only fire 10 rounds at their targets instead of 30 or 100 before reloading in the name of giving people that may come under attack a better chance of surviving such a huge hardship? Why hasn’t a firearm manufacturer come out after a mass shooting and announced that they are embarking on at least making their guns more secure from use by someone that takes an owner’s gun without authorization or incorporating technology that makes a gun easier to track if stolen. The gun lobby protects firearm manufacturers and they keep producing the equivalent of 1929 automobiles in the 21st century. Suppose automobile manufacturers operated that way, modern cars would not have airbags, antilock brakes or ignition keys so that anyone could drive you car away by pushing a button. We would not tolerate an automobile that anyone could drive away without needing a key or at least have to break into and hotwire the ignition, yet we have guns that anyone can take and fire at will by flipping a switch or pulling the trigger hard to fire the first round.

The pimping of the Second Amendment for profit is the cause of the laziness of gun manufacturers and all they have to do is put big fins on their old jalopy version products by making it look like the versions sold to the military. Maybe it’s time to face the reality that some in society have placed their love of this product with an attached false measure of freedom, defined as having unregulated access to a dangerous product, over any other public safety concerns. If that is the case they we are headed back to the Wild West where shootouts could break out at any moment as it did on a college campus near Houston, Texas on January 23, 2013 when an argument between two men erupted in gunfire and sent 3 people to the hospital.
Let’s get real and stop allowing an industry to continue to fatten its pockets without making any proactive efforts to improve even the basic safety of its offerings. If it were any other industry it would be shut down for gross negligence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Bodies Fell And More Guns Sell

Twenty 6 and 7 year old children are killed by a madman wielding an assault style semiautomatic rifle and one of the results is an increase in gun sales, gun makers’ stock prices and membership in the NRA. It seems that longer funeral procession lines from mass shootings generate even longer lines to buy more guns. We may have a problem.

Many say that the spike in guns sale and National Rifle Membership was spurred by the prospect of a looming potential ban on certain guns and a weakening of the second amendment, but that is a smokescreen. The real driving forces behind the perverse relationship between the almost cause effect relationship between mass shooting events and gun sales increase are greed, selfishness and opportunism. The 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution has become nothing more than a marketing slogan for those wanting to continue buying their favorite hobby guns and the gun lobby working to keep the sales of guns at a bubble level. The truth is that the current gun sales environment is like the real estate bubble that took the economy down when it burst.

It seems that the gun lobby may have won as more school districts are deciding to arm some teachers and even janitors. A huge new market is opening for gun manufacturers based upon the utterances from the executive vice president of the NRA, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Those words and atmosphere of fear even have senior citizens that have never owned a gun before going to their local gun dealer to purchase a gun for the first time.

Think about the responses that the gun industry have when a mass shooting takes place anywhere in the country. Oh wait, what response have you heard from the manufacturers directly? What if products from other manufacturers were used to kill 20 children, would there not be a response directly from the manufacturers? Consider the NRA response to be the manufacturers’ response, buy more of our product to protect yourself from someone using our product. Isn’t that like someone arming both sides in a war that they are helping to prolong?

I have a gun that I have owned for over 30 years and it still works fine. Sanity is the real fear of the gun industry. We have well over 270 million guns in the United States and there are just fewer than 114 million households in the country. That means there are over 2.3 guns for every household in the country and not every household has a gun. If every household had one gun for protection and kept their gun as long as I have then there would be a far smaller firearms industry. Guns have undergone a transformation from useful tool to hobby item and now a campaign fueled by fear has created a new market of schools and senior citizens wanting to strap themselves with firearms because they fear a gun wielding madman may knock down their doors. The truth may be closer to what happened in New Mexico on January 20, 2013 when the teenage son in a family used two of the guns in the family home and killed the rest of his family. So are we protecting ourselves against the bad guy from without or arming the bad guy within our own midst.      

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Second Amendment Misused By Gun Rights Advocates

Gun rights advocates have long distorted the meaning of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution to justify their version of guns rights. The 2nd Amendment is clear, “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.” There is no mention of the type of gun that could be owned.

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted in 1791 when a skilled user could manage to shoot and reload a musket 2 to 3 times per minute. Now the 2nd Amendment is being used to justify the need for civilians to own semiautomatic guns that can hold 100 rounds of ammunition and fire 45 to 60 times per minute or as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger. The 2nd Amendment says nothing about the of gun anyone can own, it just says you have the right to own guns. As for the word “infringed” that some gun advocates become unhinged over anytime gun regulation is brought up, it simply means “act so as to limit or undermine.”

The second Amendment deals with the right to own guns and no one has acted to limit our undermine the right of law abiding citizens eligible to own guns from obtaining them or limit how many they can own. When the word infringed is extended to mean that it also includes no regulations on the types of guns available for people to own, that’s where the misuse of the 2nd Amendment occurs. Guns are commercial products produced by companies that design, manufacture and sell them to the public. Guns are designed to launch a projectile into an object and cause damage, if that object happens to be a living being like a deer or person it causes injury or death. If government authorities tasked with maintaining public safety determine that a certain type of gun or ammunition feeding device is involved in excessive human injury or death, they have the duty to address the issue with legislation to protect the public. None of the current gun legislation or proposed changes “infringes” upon anyone’s right to go to their local Walmart, Gander Mountain or Cabellas and buy the available gun of their choice. Please don’t bring up how many people die in automobile accidents compared to firearm deaths because it’s a false comparison, cars are designed for transportation and those deaths result from accidents and bad decision making, not from intention. These shooting spree killers did so with a gun, not a car.

The 2nd amendment is a clear statement in what it means in regards to gun ownership, you have the right to keep and bear arms, period. The 2nd Amendment does not outline the type of guns you have the right to own. Guns are a product just like automobiles, food and drugs. Automobiles, food and drugs are all regulated to ensure that safe products are available on the market. Occasionally regulating agencies will require products that have proved to be a danger to the public to be removed from the marketplace by their manufacturers or move from off the shelf access to prescription required in the case of drugs. Guns are no different than any other product when it comes to public safety. There is nothing magical, mystical or sacred about any one gun type or ammunition magazine that makes it essential for a gun owner to possess.

Jared Lee Loughner was taken down during his shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona when he was trying to reload his semiautomic handgun after his 33 round magazine was empty, but he dropped the second magazine and others on the scene took him down. What if Loughner had a 10 round magazine instead of a 33 round unit, that’s 23 fewer shots before he had to reload, could someone that is gone still be alive? Colin Ferguson methodically shot passengers on a Long Island, New York commuter train with a semiautomatic pistol in December 1993, he emptied and reloaded two 15 round magazines, when Ferguson tried to load a third magazine other passengers took the opportunity to tackle him. If Ferguson was limited to 10 rounds per magazine, would someone that was killed be alive because of 10 fewer shots fired? The 10 round magazine limit proposed is just common sense. Why does any recreational gun owner need a 100 round drum magazine on a civilian semiautomatic rifle like what was used by the Aurora, Colorado theater shooter. If 10 shots can’t handle what is coming at you in a defensive mode then it is likely that more rounds won’t be of much help either.

All of the noise against gun legislation is a smoke screen for the makers and takers. The manufacturers and gun lobby make money and politicians take money. Some gun owners just want to keep getting their favorite grown up toys that resembles the guns used by our brave troops on the battlefield. The sad truth is that we kill over twice as many of each other in the United States than the number of brave troops we have lost to enemy combatants during 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Something has to change.