I Have a Gripe

February 17, 2018

The Continued Gun Debate

Here we are again. Another horrible mass shooting. It kicks up all kinds of feelings; sadness, anger, confusion, and more. It also, brings up the gun debate to the front of the news headlines again. People debate and argue and try to come up with solutions. Some make sense. Some are extreme. I did a blog post about the gun debate back in 2016 after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Like many, I’ve continued to think about this issue and I’d like to add a few more items to my original list.

  1. Armed guards at schools: Announcing to the world that places like schools are “gun free zones” just make them easy targets. Some think arming teachers might be a good idea. I have an even better one. Schools should hire retired police or military personnel as armed guards. These individuals have already received specialized training in how to handle active shooter situations. We use armed guards at banks, federal buildings, and even to protect celebrities. Our children deserve no less.
  2. Threat assessment team: Maybe this is already in place and the public isn’t aware, but there should be “threat assessment teams” at the state and federal levels that focus on just school threats. This requires knowledge sharing across multiple agencies at the local, state, and national levels. The FBI really botched this one, as someone did contact them about this nutcase and they didn’t follow up. That’s why I feel there needs to be a more formal process in place to specifically handle just threats to schools.
  3. Raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21: In New Jersey you need to be 21 to purchase cigarettes. Nationally, you need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. I think purchasing a firearm is a far more serious purchase than either of those items. The age to purchase any type of firearm should be raised nationally to 21.
  4. Education – for everyone: In my last blog post, I said in order to make a weapon purchase I feel someone should need to show proof of completion of a gun safety course. I also feel the public needs to understand exactly what the different types of weapons are in order to have an intelligent debate. For example, “AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” It stands for the ArmaLite rifle, named after the company that developed the weapon. AR-15-style rifles may look like military rifles, such as the M-16, however, they function like other semi-automatic civilian firearms. A semi-automatic firearm means it fires only one round with each pull of the trigger. An assault rifle is fully automatic, meaning multiple rounds are fired with each pull of the trigger. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934. If we are going to have an intelligent discussion about how to handle gun ownership in this country, we all need to understand the terminology, what is legally available, what is illegal, and then we can know where to begin.
  5. Go after “auto kit” sellers: I also mentioned this in my last blog post, but I want to repeat it. The individuals who create kits and directions to change a semi-auto weapon to a full-auto weapon should be prosecuted and loopholes in current laws should be closed.

I know there are people who would like to eliminate the second amendment. It isn’t going to happen. I’m not a gun owner, but I believe in the right to bear arms – responsibly. For example, the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter was NOT a responsible gun owner. She knew she had a child with a severe mental disorder. She did not keep her weapons secure. She encouraged his weapon use. In my opinion, that entire tragedy should fall squarely on her shoulders. If you have someone in your home that has a severe mental problem, maybe you shouldn’t own a weapon.

I am sure some will agree with me and there are others who will disagree with me. What’s important is that we finally come up with a serious plan. Otherwise, time will fade, people will move on. And then it will happen again. Don’t let it.


September 11, 2015

Fourteen Years Later – Do We Really Remember?

So here it is. The night before the world changed. I’ve been watching my Facebook feed fill up with photos of New York, Washington DC, and Shanksville. Photos of the World Trade Center, New York firefighters and police officers. Comments that say “we will never forget.”

This year, I ask one question – do we really remember?

I get very melancholy as “the day” approaches. I usually ask myself why. Do I have a right to feel this way? I didn’t know anyone who died. I know “people of people.” I wasn’t even in New York. I was in my office in Jersey.

I left work almost immediately. As I drove back to Belleville, and came closer to the smoke – and that smell – it really started to hit me. I felt numb, like thousands of others did, I am sure. I drove directly to the school where my friend’s mother worked. Her husband worked in the Twin Towers and I was worried for him. I had no idea what I could do, but I felt like that’s where I needed to be. I tried to get her to come back to my house, but she wanted to stay put. Thankfully, he was found alive.

I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night, but I remember every minute of that day. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

But by next week, with September 11th in the rear view mirror for another year, I wonder if people really remember or if it is just one day out of each year and that’s it.

I remember a country truly united. I remember standing in line to buy desk flags for every person in my department. I remember seeing flags absolutely everywhere. I remember people bringing food to their emergency responders and saying “thank you.” I remember people being proud to be American.

Now? Not so much.

I feel like we are a country more divided than ever. That this horrific day is nothing more than a political football to push forward whatever the “agenda of the day” is. That there are people who have tried to take advantage of this tragedy for personal gain.

This year I am bouncing between sickened, depressed, and angry. Each emotion for a different thought. A different memory. A different feeling. Even as I write this I know this post is more of a ramble and far less organized than posts in the past.

This year, I’ve seen this graphic going around Facebook:

AtThisMomentMaybe this is part of what got me really thinking. I always think about “that day,” but not really what was going on the night before – all the normal things people do on any given evening. Everyone was worried about their day-to-day crap. The next day none of it mattered.

This morning I had some jerk try to run me off the road because he didn’t like how I merged. I was angry and shaken. You know what? As I sit here writing this, it doesn’t matter at all. I was able to come home at the end of the day, kiss my husband, and say hello to my bird.

The people who were killed by the men (and I don’t even like to call them “men”) who represented pure evil prevented those innocent souls from getting home, kissing their loved ones and having a normal day.

Maybe that’s what it is all about when people say “never forget.”

Never forget what happened that terrible day. Pray for those families who wake up every morning without their loved ones. Remember those who knowingly gave their lives so a plane would go down in a field in Pennsylvania instead of the Capitol Building or the White House. Pray for those who lost their lives due to their service on “the pile.” But also remember to live a good life. That our being here is a gift that should not be squandered, because you never know it will all be over. Live a life your family would be proud of. Try to do something good every day and expect nothing in return. Be a good American.

I think that’s the best way to “never forget.”

October 6, 2013

The Capitol Shooting & Deadly Force

This week there was an incident with a woman who was shot and killed by law enforcement after ramming the White House gates with her car and hitting a Secret Service officer.

After the fact of course, all the second guessing began. Did law enforcement need to fire on the vehicle? Did they know there was an infant in the car? If they did feel the need to fire, why didn’t they shoot out the tires?

The family of the woman came out and said that she was suffering from postpartum psychosis and they felt law enforcement didn’t have to shoot.

As always, there are three sides to every story; one side, the other side, and the truth.

While I am sorry this woman had mental and emotional issues, I must stand  behind law enforcement. These men and women put their lives on the line every day. Law enforcement in DC have an even more difficult job as they not only have to protect civilians, but Capitol landmarks, politicians, and more. They need to make split second decisions. This woman had already crashed a White House gate and rammed into a Secret Service officer, sending him onto her windshield. Another police officer was injured during a chase down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. While she did not have a firearm, her car at that point was a deadly weapon. Did they know there was an infant in the vehicle? I don’t know. But she put her child in that vehicle and drove from Connecticut to DC that day.

I have never had a child and never suffered from postpartum psychosis. I am obviously not a doctor, so I really don’t understand all that encompasses this condition. I understand the woman’s family defending her situation and feeling the police should’ve done more to preserve her life. And I am sorry this woman lost her life.

I have many friends and family members in law enforcement and I can say with confidence that police do not use their weapons lightly. It is not something they look forward to doing and understand the ramifications of using their weapon. Did they know she didn’t have a weapon? No idea, but I doubt it. Again, the moment she sent a Secret Service officer flying, she used her car as a deadly weapon.

I will always give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt. Period.

I ask the questions to those second-guessing law enforcement, did you know if that woman had firearms in that vehicle? Did you know if her car was loaded with explosives and could’ve been a terrorist attempting to take advantage of the government shutdown? What would you have done if you had a weapon and had a car coming towards you at full speed?

It is important that law enforcement review every situation and determine if anything could be learned from the response. However, when an officer is put in that situation, all their training kicks in and they will do what they feel is the right thing to keep the area safe and protected.

Just like no one knew what was going through that woman’s mind, no one knew what was going through the minds of law enforcement on a second-by-second basis in a fluid situation in one of the toughest places to protect in the country.

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