Lunaya Pravda

28 March 2006

Gun culture on trial

The bodies of six partygoers up on Seattle's Capitol Hill had not yet been taken to the morgue, the blood not yet dry on the porch, and the predictable calls for more gun control were off and running.

In today's Seattle P-I, columnist Robert Jamieson has taken an all-too-familiar position - blaming the gun culture. He writes:

Don't blame the rave scene for the Seattle's worst mass murder in more than two decades.

Blame the guns -- and a culture that celebrates firepower.

Blame the murdering madness on a country that has seen Columbine, Kip Kinkel and bullets at the Tacoma Mall, but lacks the common sense to clamp down on weapons of mass carnage.

Blame the gun lobby on the other Capitol Hill -- not the rave crowd on Seattle's Capitol Hill.

I can't begin to express how detestable this position is to me, especially after an incident such as this.

First, it smacks of an outrage that has bothered me since my school-age years: the idea that everyone should pay for one person's sins. It suggests we all should give up something - our right to self defense - because Kyle Huff was an irresponsible, immature criminal. Excuse me, but I didn't run amok, killing indiscriminately, so stay the hell out of my life.

Second, it's condescending as hell. I'm sorry, but you can't be trusted with a gun. You can't be trusted with more ammunition than we believe is acceptable. Here, we'll protect you. Pardon me, but who the fuck are you, Mr. Jamieson, to determine who can and can't be trusted with a gun?

And if your justification for de-arming the public is solely that quandary - the fact that you can't tell who is trustworthy - then perhaps you have no place in this discussion. Those who've chosen to arm and protect themselves don't worry about making that distinction; to them, it's irrelevant who can and cannot be trusted. The defensive playing field is equal for them, and people like you want to upend it, giving home advantage to the thugs and making criminals out of otherwise peaceful citizens.

Lastly, Mr. Jamieson, what do you think might have happened if just one person in that house had reached for their own firearm rather than a phone? Comparatively, what might the body count have been if the policeman who confronted Huff hadn't happened by? It was sheer luck that the death toll stopped at seven, and overwhelming tragedy that it wasn't stopped sooner by those with the potential to respond the quickest - the people still in the house.

Contrary to what you propose, Mr. Jamieson, I don't love guns. I'm not a member of the Rambo shoot-'em-up culture you suggest is dominating and plaguing America. Most gun owners I know pray they are never forced into the cusp of deciding to fire. But they are also the most pragmatic, realistic side of this debate, valuing and protecting their own lives and correct in their assessment that criminals will always have guns, no matter how many laws people like you pass. You can bury your head in the sand all you want, but the gun-related crime rates in cities such as San Francisco and Washington D.C. don't support your claims.

While you're welcome to devalue your own life, Mr. Jamieson, it's insulting to insist that everyone else devalue theirs. Because really what you're trying to force-feed us is the idea that our lives aren't worth defending, that your fear of guns is more important. Sorry, but I suspect even Linda Lovelace would have a hard time swallowing a lie that big.

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27 March 2006

What's in a name?

So today I received a sorority alumnae newsletter for my local collegiate chapter here in Seattle.

Okay, okay, wait - let's get the sorority thing out of the way, because whenever I bring this up, the reaction is usually something like this: "YOU were in a sorority?!?!" (accompanied by skeptical and shocked looks). Yes, I joined. Yes, I stayed in all four years, and yes, I enjoyed it. But in my defense, I attended a university where the only majors are engineering and science and only a quarter of its undergraduate population was female. Our dues were low, we didn't have chaparones at events, we didn't have a house mother, and there was no requirement to live in the house because when I was there, our house held only 10 people. Women at my college were just different, and I don't think most of them would have even considered joining on another campus.

Anyway, as I was saying, I received the local chapter's newsletter today, and two of their new members' first names stood out at me. "L'Oreal" and "Winkie". What kind of sadistic parents would name their kids after a cosmetics line and a euphamism for penis?

I realize parents want to give their children interesting, unique, creative names. But sometimes they've gone too far.


24 March 2006

Why calling 911 shouldn't be the only option

911 calls in Chattanooga go unanswered

Thousands of calls to Chattanooga's 911 call center have been going unanswered, according to records examined after a caller was unable to report a kitchen fire because three of four dispatchers were taking breaks at the same time.

Stacey Hunter and her family members called 911 from her home phone and cellular phones Monday afternoon when the fire broke out, but the calls went unanswered. Finally, Artterius Bonds, and 14-year-old nephew, Quayshaune Fountain, ended up running a half mile to get help from the fire station. No one was hurt.

This is one of many reasons I don't buy gun control advocates' continued insistance that calling 911, or any emergency service, is a decent solution to an emergency. In fact, it's often the only solution they offer.

Imagine this scenario: you're a single woman, living alone, and someone is breaking into your home in the middle of the night. Do you reach for the phone, or did you wise up and purchase a firearm and train to use it? Now, even if you call 911 and they actually answer, it still takes precious minutes for them to report the crime and officers to respond. And keep in mind that police are not legally obligated to protect you.

But there's a chance a 911 operator won't pick up your call or, even worse, will answer your call and send no one.

Hoyt Branham, who lives in northern Hamilton County, said that in October 2004 he severed an artery in his arm while working in his shop. He called 911 in Chattanooga, told them he was bleeding profusely and provided his location. But no one showed up.

Branham, 70, said he was alone and getting weak, so he called neighbors and his daughter ended up taking him to the hospital. He said 911 operators later denied that he called, but a review of their recording equipment showed he did.

Yet another reason gun control advocates need to take a good, long pause and rethink recommending calling 911 as a first response.

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The Ceremonial First Pitch

I suppose it's time I began this blog. I'm a terrible procrastinator - sloth would probably my most serious deadly sin, were I to keep score - and my procrastination hits its peak whenever it involves starting something. I'm a closer, not a starting pitcher... always have been.

As some of you may know, Lunaya Pravda refers to the name of the lunar newspaper in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. I'm an avid reader - I have much time to waste on my daily bus commute to work, and I belong to a local book club. Okay, "club" might be stretching it a bit. There's three of us at the moment, but we do read one book a month and convene to discuss it afterwards. Now, one book a month isn't nearly enough for me, so I might read two or three books between book club installations.

As for the purpose of this blog - I don't really have one other than publishing my own musings on various social, political, and economic issues du jour along with a smattering of items I find humorous or interesting. Living free is of paramount significance to me, especially in these trying times when the gates of choice and freedom are slamming in our faces every day.

For my political leanings, I'm near to becoming a non-voter, I identify most as an minarchist with government's sole purpose being a framework for dispute resolution, and I always believe in erring on the side of freedom. I certainly don't have all my views solidified, but I think the above explanation is a good place to start.

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