The straw man, with crossed arms, hung out in the background of most Facebook and Twitter rants. Although I never saw anyone actually post those words, many of my digital friends were ready to bury the first person that did. All of us had opinions about gun control this weekend, and when you are talking about arming every man, woman, and, unfortunately, child with deadly force, all of us should have an opinion.
What may have been a better wall to bounce our rage against would be "Reactionary government makes for bad policy." The PATRIOT Act. Homeland Security. Moratoriums. Regulation. Laws made in the shadow of tragedy normally look odd to the healed mind.
One of my Facebook friends, who many of you know, Josh Tzuker, posted a compelling "argument" (to the extent such can be made in the box that Facebook allows), that he told me I could share:
After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, my boss was asked by Speaker Pelosi to write and pass the legislation that created the National Instant Check System (we did, proudest thing I ever did). I was in charge of finding a way for the NRA and the Brady Campaign to endorse the final product (they did). Since so many are posting about more gun control, here are my observations about what is possible:
1) The NRA isn't successful because they are evil geniuses, they are successful because they have
20 7 million members and almost one-third of 46% of Americans household have a gun;
2) NRA members commit crimes at a much lower rate than most Americans;
3) There are more privately owned guns in America than there are people, we can't ban them...ever;
4) The rate of gun crime today is lower than it has been in 50 years;
5) Making sure people who need mental health care receive it, is all of our responsibilities. Ensuring that they never come into contact with guns is incredibly challenging;
6) During our negotiations, it wasn't the NRA that was opposed to putting the names of people receiving anti-psychotic medication into the Instant Check database...it was advocates for the mentally ill;
7) Reasonable gun owners would agree to a ban on high capacity bullet clips;
8) There probably should be a system where individual gun sales by individual owners be tracked nationally, but that wouldn't have made a difference in any mass shooting since Columbine;
9) The weapons yesterday were legally bought, registered, locked, and owned by the first victim;
10) Yesterday in China, a man walked into a school and stabbed 22 children. It was the fourth mass stabbing at a school in China this year. Private gun ownership is illegal in China.;
11) We are all our brother's keeper and are ultimately only as safe as our mental health system is good. Don't be afraid to speak to someone who might need a friendly word or seek help for someone who does not know to ask.
I understand that many of you will want to respond to some of these without appreciating the whole. I know that gun violence is down because of advances in medicine. I know that 22 children were "hurt" in China's stabbing, while 20 were killed in our shooting. But Josh's commentary is all context. What are you trying to accomplish? Is it possible? It is right?
As the President said last night, when children are killed in their schools, there is no response that is too great. The idea that burying 20 children is the "cost of freedom" is unacceptable. We need to do something, but that something should be grounded in the base truths of those things Josh shared and the understanding that our policy should not seek retribution from law-abiding citizens in the absence of a live enemy to jail and scorn. Our mental health system should not be reformed to put more people in medicated slumbers or padded cells. We need a reasonable, slow, and, in turn, permanent address to the horrors from Friday.
I am thankful that the President chose not to make any announcements regarding his solution last night, but it is very clear that he has been deeply affected by this. His speech framed a future focus of his Presidency: gun violence, or more specifically, mass shootings. As I recall one person saying on Friday, we shouldn't have a category of tragedies alongside hurricanes and earthquakes called "school shootings."
Whatever we do, Newtown, Connecticut deserves our heartfelt and sincere grief that it took their sacrifice for us to act.
"I am Adam Lanza's Mother" - a post to help consider the mental health component of Sandy Hook.
The Howard County Planning Board has approved final plans for a reworking of the Columbia Mall's "open-air plaza", which I imagine will be very similar to The Avenue at White Marsh. It may be too soon to say that Columbia Redevelopment has arrived, but not by much.
Last Thursday, Ken Ulman vetoed the County Council's growth tier bill as expected. Despite my earlier comments about Ken's "math", it looks like I forgot to carry the 3...as in District 3...and D2, and D1. Everything I'm hearing says that the veto will be sustained 3-2 with Mary Kay and Greg Fox dissenting (possible 4-1 if Ken can come up with a map that meets MK's concerns). What will be more interesting is if in finding a "third way", Ken runs afoul of 1,000 Friends and other environmental groups that previously endorsed his first map. Either way, things are going to get very messy over the next few months as the rural West mobilizes and Allan Kittleman gets an early Christmas present in free news coverage.
That's all for today. Have a great Monday doing what you love. Don't worry too much about the Ravens. If it's not their year, we will be able to say for the first time without sarcasm in nearly two decades "Two months until pitchers and catchers report."