Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gun Control vs. Planned Parenthood

What do you think would happen if we treated those who wanted to purchase guns the way we treat women who want abortions? (See image at the bottom of the page.)

First, I want to preface this with  ---I would be very happy if there were never another abortion. I don't like the idea of abortions.  I wish that everyone would use birth control or common sense so that unwanted pregnancies would not happen.  However, they do happen and I also believe a woman has the right to choose a safe and legal abortion and that belief was confirmed by a Supreme Court ruling decades ago.

The problem is that the same people who are against abortion are also against birth control, condom distribution, and sex education.  Back in the 1970's Elie Smeal, who was the president of N.O.W., tried to set up a dialog with anti-abortionists to come up with a plan to reduce the number of abortions.  They would not even respond to her appeal to meet to discuss common ground.

A few days ago, President Obama gave a speech about another school shooting in Oregon.  The President was visibly upset and frustrated by routine coverage of such incidents by the media and the lack of sensible gun control legislation which has been blocked time and again by a mostly-Republican Congress.

When Jeb Bush was asked to comment on the killings in Oregon, he responded with "Stuff happens."  How callus can one be to such a tragedy?

I know there are Democrats who oppose gun control, so it is not only a Republican issue. I also know that the majority of NRA members are law-abiding citizens who use guns for harmless target practice or to provide food for their families. I also know that most of the perpetrators of gun violence are mentally ill and we need to address mental-health issues in conjunction with gun control.

Yet, poll after poll shows that most Americans, even NRA members, are in favor of sensible gun control laws.

I see the real problem as the leadership of the NRA that makes senseless arguments against gun control.  Why would they do that after seeing students killed in Columbine High School?  They even scheduled their next convention in Colorado, almost throwing those deaths in the face of the Colorado population. Why would they continue such senseless arguments after all the other senseless shootings, including the one where elementary school children were gunned down in Connecticut?

It might be because the NRA receives the majority of its funding from gun manufacturers and I wouldn't doubt that the NRA leaders get a big chunk of that cash.

We can't ignore that gun-manufacture lobbies and the NRA donate billions to campaign funds to those legislators who continue to oppose sensible control laws.

The NRA leadership says that we should have more guns in schools. They claim that if more people carried guns, there would be fewer deaths from mass shootings.  It's crazy talk.

First, there is the possibility that an innocent third party could be caught in the crossfire. 

There are instances where people have been jailed, not for starting a shooting, but because they happened to have a gun and fired back.  

Norman Williamson is still serving time in Sing Sing 25 years after a shooting, for reckless endangerment for firing his gun only after others had fired first. Police couldn't prove that his shot killed a young boy, Tremain Hall, so he's not in prison for murder. He's in prison for firing the gun after others had fired a gun. 

If someone steps up with a gun to kill the perpetrator, s/he could become a victim.  What's to prevent the police from assuming that any person holding a gun is one of the perpetrators? (Read more HERE.)

Compare the number of annual gun deaths in various countries.  I was surprised there were over 100 in Japan.  I thought 300+ in Germany was a high number.  But compare those numbers to over 11,000 in the U.S., as reported in Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" in 2002.

According to the CDC, in 2013, there were a total of 33,636 firearm deaths in the U.S.  Homicides made up 11,208 or 33% of those deaths. There were 505 unintentional discharges, 467 legal interventions, and 281 undetermined. In addition, 21,175 or 63% were suicides. (More CDC information can be found HERE based on the number of deaths per 100,000 population.)

Notice that there are nearly twice the number of suicides as homicides in this country. Most people contemplating suicide want a quick and painless way to kill themselves. Thus, I wonder how many could be prevented if potential victims didn't have access to guns.  I'm sure many would find another means, but still, I think the numbers would go down.

The Israeli army was able to drastically drop the number of suicide deaths among its soldiers by requiring them to leave weapons at the army base when off-duty, a fact that seems to fly in the face of the claim that more guns in people's hands will prevent gun deaths and suggests that lack of a firearm might prevent some suicides.

I understand that the gun control issue is not clear cut.  A good article at FactCheck.org points out the variables. The article can be found HERE.  It compares Barack Obama's claim that states with the most guns laws have fewer gun deaths with Carly Fiorina's claim that areas with stringent gun control laws have higher gun-crime rates. (Note that the wording is different in Obama's claim and Fiorina's.)

FactCheck.org examines the claims. The causation of gun crime and gun deaths cannot be proved because there are many factors that might contribute to gun violence/deaths including poverty, lower educational attainment, more rural areas that might make getting to a hospital in time to save one's life difficult.

However, overall, the report seems to confirm Obama's claim rather than Fiorina's.

Compare the lack of response to the gun-control issue in Congress to the relentless outcry against Planned Parenthood, based on an edited video created by an anti-abortion group, that contained false information and implications.

The outcry comes mostly from Republican men. They ignore most of the services provided by Planned Parenthood ---breast, ovarian and other cancer screenings, birth control, menstruation problems, infertility, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, STDs, menopause (to list only some of the serves provided.) Those who oppose Planned Parenthood even ignore sexual health services for men, including vasectomies.

In addition, they act as if the money the federal government pays to Planned Parenthood is a giveaway, whereas it is actually reimbursement for health services provided. No federal funds are used for abortions.

At a Congressional hearing, one hapless Congressman put up a totally misleading chart that he claimed came from Planned Parenthood.  In reality it was created by an anti-abortion group. At the bottom of the chart it clearly states "Source: Americans United for Life." Among other things, its figures were incorrect and the chart made 327,000 look like it was a higher number than 935,573. (See the chart and a correction to make it accurate at the link above beginning with "totally misleading.")

So I direct you to "How about we treat every man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants an abortion."

Addendum 3/14/16: CBS's Sunday Morning on 3/13/16 the entire program was about guns. I didn't see the entire program, but It can be watched online. 

 They interviewed people in Colorado (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/guns-a-family-affair/) who use guns for hunting and need them for protection on large ranches where they might run into bears or wolves. I have no problem with that. However, I did question the wisdom of teaching children to shoot, some beginning as young as 5. I don't believe a 5-year-old is mature enough to determine if and when the use of a gun is warranted. 

 I do have problems with gun owners who think they need assault rifles and those who don't lock their guns to keep them from children. About 100 children die each year in the U.S. at the hands of other children when playing with guns. I read a news report a few days ago about a woman in Florida who was shot in the back through her driver's seat by her 4 year old who found her gun in the car. The woman was not seriously injured, but she was a big gun advocate who wasn't responsible enough to keep her loaded gun away from a 4-year-old. (Poetic justice, perhaps?) 

 A study was done, putting 2 or 3 12-year-old boys in a room and leaving them alone for a while. If they were curious enough to open a drawer, they would find a gun. Video showed the boys aiming it at themselves or each other. Sensors on the gun showed that 1/3 of the boys who found the gun (unloaded, of course) pulled the trigger enough to discharge it. Half later said they couldn't tell the difference between a real gun and a toy. Those who have shot and killed another child are also victims, some dropping out of school and becoming involved in drug use. (See more here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-other-victim-of-an-accidental-shooting/

 The most interesting report (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-australia-dealt-with-mass-shootings/) was about a mass shooting in Australia that killed 35 people in 1996. Within 12 days, the new Prime Minister John Howard convinced the legislature to pass strict gun laws. Excerpts from the CBS report: 

The tough new laws banned the sale and importation of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns; forced people to present a legitimate reason, and wait 28 days to buy a firearm; and perhaps most significantly, called for a massive, mandatory gun-buyback. Australia's government confiscated and destroyed nearly 700,000 firearms, reducing the number of gun-owning households by half.
"People used to say to me, 'You violated my human rights by taking away my gun,'" Howard said. "And I'd [respond], 'I understand that. Will you please understand the argument, the greatest human right of all is to live a safe life without fear of random murder.'" 
 In the 15 years before the laws were passed, there were 13 mass shootings in Australia. In the two decades since, there has not been one.  Plus, gun homicides decreased by nearly 60 percent. 
 Locking up your guns and ammunition in separate safes is another regulation, as are surprise inspections by police. 
American lawyer and wine-maker Greg Melick had to part with some of his prized guns in the buy-back. He still owns about two dozen weapons, which he uses for sport, hunting, and shooting pests on his vineyard. 
Melick sees gun ownership not as a right, but a privilege. "I'd be very uncomfortable going back to the way it was before, when anybody could go in and buy a firearm," he said. "It's just bizarre, the number of people getting killed in the United States. And you have these ridiculous arguments: 'Well, people carry guns so they can defend themselves.' 
From Tasmania, to Sydney... we kept asking if there were lessons for the U.S. in all of this. 
 "I am loath to comment," said Loughton [whose 15-year-old daughter was killed in the 1996 mass shooting]. "But my question is, 'How is it going for you over there?' But I can't answer that for you. My heart goes out to all of you over there in America."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer of Color 2015 - Week 6: Orange, Orange, Blue

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the "Summer of Color" text link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 6, we are supposed to choose two shades of orange and one blue. This is the final week of this event for this year.

If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you post to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account. Sometimes I can see your images, but I can't comment.) 

This design was started with one of my old abstract drawings done in pencil, which I scanned mainly for the textures, but it is so different from what I started with it might as well have been done completely in digital. Although I often begin with a photo, there were no photos involved in this image.

"Playing with Cool and Warm Textures"
digital art

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer of Color 2015, Week 5: Green, Green, Pink

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the "Summer of Color" text link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 5, we are supposed to choose two shades of green and one pink.
If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you posted to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account.)

I was playing around with a design a few days ago and knew I wanted to use it this week., but I didn't know what colors would be chosen. So I just used two random colors and figured I could easily change them digitally once the colors were announced. Amazingly, I chose two greens and one pink! I must be clairvoyant.

"The Squares Within"
This design was created from several photos I took at the Portland, Maine art museum. There were 

large openings in the second floor walls that looked down onto the lobby area of the first floor.  
Designs made from varied colored squares were painted on the lobby walls so I positioned myself
so that the painted squares would be framed by the openings upstairs. I knew when 
I took the photos that I would eventually use them to create an abstract design. I overlapped and   
rotated parts of my images until I had a composition I liked. Although the colors were originally
quite different, I changed them to greens and pinks even before I knew this week's colors.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Summer of Color 2015 - Week 4

Summer of Color is back.  Click on the "Summer of Color" text link to the left to view entries or to participate yourself.

See my image and others on the Summer of Color 5 Flicker page:

This year, instead of giving us three specific colors, Kristin is giving us two basic colors and we are supposed to choose our own shades of those.

For Week 4, we are supposed to choose two shades of red and one metallic.
If you post your images to a blog or to Flickr I can see them. (If you posted to Facebook, sorry, but I don't have a Facebook account.)
"Angles 6"
(Artist Trading Card, 3.5" X 2.5" without the border)
I created this with a collage of various papers, red & silver paint, and metallic silver markers.

One paper is a glittery craft paper made by Crayola ---which can be put through a printer to add color, but is a silverly sparkly paper without added color. It is no longer available, but I still have several full sheets and a lot of small scraps which are perfect for ATCs. 

 When I scanned my image, that paper turned blue on my scans, so I added a color layer over it in Photoshop using my first red shade . It now looks white with pink and red outlines of the glitter. The actual piece would appear to be different from this scan ---with the silver paper, paint, and markers more apparent.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love vs. Hate - Love Won!

My thoughts about gay rights have not changed in nearly 50 years. Too bad those who oppose gay marriage haven't changed their minds either.

In 1968, I had just completed one of two years in the Peace Corps in Brazil. I was using my vacation time to take a bus trip from the northeast of Brazil, south as far as Buenos Aires.  Along the way south and back, I stopped to visit a Peace Corps friend in São Paulo. He was a lawyer and had set up a free legal-aide service for the poor in that ever-growing city.

I don't know how we got onto the subject of gay lifestyles, but I remember saying, "I wish people would worry more about who hates each other than who loves each other.  Lovers are not a problem. Haters are."

To me, gay rights should have been a non-issue, but of course, it wasn't in Brazil and certainly not in the U.S. despite our claiming to be the one country in the world that awards freedom to all.

At that time, I never thought it would take 47 years for marriage equality to become a reality. Yet, over the years, there were times when I thought it would never happen.

The Civil Rights Bill had recently passed. I never would have thought we'd still be dealing with deadly racial issues in 2015 either.  When 9 black members of a Charleston church were killed by a young man full of hate, who turned out to be the better people? Every family member I saw on TV said they forgave the killer. It must have been extremely difficult to say that, but they knew it was the right thing to do. So much for the racial war the killer expected.

So, let's worry about the people who hate, not the ones who love ---and that includes a lot of people who say they are Christians, yet are intolerant, hateful, and have no empathy for anyone who is not like them.

My hat is off to those religious people who have remembered to "judge not."
From the last page of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilizations’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

written by Justice Kennedy

This comment was found on The Daily Kos in response to an article: "Revolution and the right to discriminate: Republicans respond to marriage equality" by Laura Clawson

Can someone explain to me just exactly what right or rights we Christians lost today? We didn't. We still don't have to marry a gay person. We can still choose to marry another heterosexual. We can still go to the church of our choice. We can still live by the ideals of Christ. We just can't FORCE it on others. Because we choose to follow Jesus doesn't permit us to require everyone to. The Constitution is our governing document, not the Bible. If you really believe that "God's law" comes before Constitutional law, then you really never learned the basics of American History.

I might add that Jesus never said a word about homosexuality.  The law everyone refers to is from the Old Testament. That, of course, gives reason enough for many people to agree with the Bible that it is an abomination.  But that same Bible gives hundreds of other laws (I believe more than 600) and most people break many of them all the time. If you eat pork, lobster or crab, if you wear clothing made of two or more different fibers, or have ever cheated or lied, you have committed abominations. If you are proud, scheming, have a hard heart or have ever stolen something ---those are abominations. It's an abomination to wear clothes of the opposite sex. I stopped wearing dresses long ago simply because I hate wearing stockings and dress shoes, so I guess I'm in deep trouble. 

If you do not stone a disobedient child, you are breaking an Old Testament law.  If your daughter is raped, according to O.T. laws she has to marry her rapist and never divorce. If you use the same knife to cut both cheese and meat, you are breaking a Biblical law. Other O.T. rules and laws give you permission to own slaves and even to sell your daughter into slavery. If your brother dies without heirs, it is your duty to have sex with his widow to give your brother an heir.
It is interesting that there are no Biblical laws against lesbian activity. And because lesbians have the lowest rate of HIV, many have claimed they are God's chosen people.

Why have we rejected many of the O.T. laws, but cling onto the one about homosexuality?  According to the O.T. the main reason homosexuality was frowned upon was that gay couple do not reproduce.  At that time, teens were encouraged to marry and have as many children as possible. Why? First, the infant mortality rate was high, so even if one had 10 children, a couple was lucky if 5 survived. And since the life expectancy was around 40 for men and lower for women (due to childbirth complications) one had to reproduce at a young age and often.  But today, with world population exploding, there is no need for everyone to reproduce.  And even many heterosexual couples choose not to. My husband and I consciously chose not to have children.

If you want to site an O.T. law that you feel everyone should obey, then you better follow every one of the laws in the O.T. yourself.  Unfortunately, you would probably be going against civil laws and be in jail if you sold your daughter into slavery or killed your adulterous neighbor by stoning him or her. If the death penalty as described in the O.T. was applied to every abomination in the Bible, few would be spared.

We have evolved beyond many of the rules and laws of Biblical times, because we no longer think they are humane and/or they don't make sense in our time.  To keep people who love each other apart is also inhumane.

The reason everyone needs marriage rights is because there are benefits. Spouses can be on each other's healthcare plans, when one spouse dies the other won't have to pay inheritance taxes, they can save money by filing joint tax returns, they can visit each other in hospitals and receive medical information for a spouse who is unable to speak for him/herself. They can also make a public commitment to each other.  In other words, they can have the benefits open to heterosexual married couples that are not open to live-in partners.

I lived in Brazil for several years. There, church marriages are not legal marriages. Couples must be married by the equivalent of a justice of the peace for their marriage to be legal.  Then, if they wish, they can also have a religious wedding.  Therefore, all legal marriages are civil unions. They provide legal benefits to married couples.  Many European countries' laws are similar.

I think that would be a good solution here, too. All marriages would be civil unions --then if the church of one's choice chooses to marry a couple, be they heterosexual or homosexual or transexual, then the couple can marry in that venue, too. If the church does not respect the right to marry, then a couple will still be married in a civil union, which has to be recognized by local, state, and federal governments. They can, of course, choose a church that is more tolerant to marry them in a religious ceremony.
If you are still not convinced, I suggest you read this (written by a minister):