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8/3 & 4/2019

(After the El Paso & Dayton mass shootings and the flags are at half-mast…again)

I have already posted some thoughts about the atrocities that continue to be perpetuated on the innocent citizens of our country, so what has changed? Unfortunately, nothing…we are not listening and certainly not acting so there needs to be another approach to protect future losses of our brainpower and the suffering of so many families because of these senseless killings.

The museum profession has long known and put into practice the education of our children, based on the belief that if we miss a single generation of teaching future leaders within our democracy about our various heritages and national probity we will have lost the security necessary to advance society in a positive direction. The famous quote, attributed to many is, “If you don’t know where you have come from, you don’t know where you are going” and if, “the past is prologue” then children of our current world, which is fraught with admonitions and fearful forecasts, will be no better prepared to meet the same challenges they will face as adults.

We, today, must pass on what we have processed and are learning about the “shooters”, their mantra, their hatred, their instability and the influences that take over sensibilities to the point of slaughtering fellow human beings. Maybe it is because of their race, a language we do not understand, a religion that seems threatening to us, celebrations and/or customs that we cannot comprehend but mostly a combination of personal attributes that are offensive to our center of the universe.

We have tried to make the proverbial square peg fit the round hole and vice versa and create some/any system that might be acceptable to all stake holders, politicos, anti and pro-gun enthusiasts, lobbyists and those young people who have actually experienced the decimation up close and personal. MAYBE this last weekend is the last straw, but nothing yet has altered the status quo thus far and the numbness continues.

What if, we look at the museological model, we start with the children, not like we did in the 1950’s when nuclear annihilation was imminent and the programs taught us how to scurry under our desks to be safe. However, a long-range introspective approach that could be presented at the appropriate grade levels would begin to educate the students as to what the causes and consequences are of hating someone without walking in their moccasins. The fact that it does not help the killer’s “cause”, that the pain and suffering by all those involved is life changing, that the lineages of those lives taken are forever lost and affects civilization far into the future.

Identifying the shooters before they take action, background checks for all sales, red flag and other laws controlling bump-stocks and extra-large clips and even taking military armament off the market are vital as we go forward. However, at the moment, as a matter of record, we are still trying to close Pandora’s box. Criminals with intent will continue to have access to weapons of mass destruction, but if our children are taught/know/understand, the outcome of determined ignorance and hate and the effects of the resulting actions then there may be a glimmer of hope. As long as they are not being influenced by the rhetoric of mad men but by teachers, parents, social workers and organizations created to bring civility and enlightenment back to the table. Then, they may become cognizant, if not committed, to make sure these attitudes/motives do not continue or at the very least be more aware of those who intend harm to their families, friends, classmates and neighbors.

IF we start now through the educational systems/processes we will have the next generation that will comprehend how and why we can and must change and make a difference by taking on the responsibility of continuing to educate their children. While at the same time, not taking away their rights to personal protection, hunting, sporting clays and skeet, competition and recreational shooting, collecting firearms, etc.

Therefore, it has to be a multi-faceted approach, doing everything humanly possible to close the loopholes, deploy sensible parameters around mental health issues, sales and purchases of assault weaponry, potential overreach of the First Amendment to the point of threatening the stability of the country and eliminating the hate mongering and promotion of Neo-Nazism on social media. Yes, admittedly, it will take a generation to begin to turn the situation around, but what do we have to lose at this rate except many more blameless lives?

I feel we are enveloped in a second Civil War, certainly not a war of millions of projectiles being shot at one another and the resulting hundreds of thousands of casualties, but a new conflict of words of discretion and demonization being bulleted across social, racial, religious and maybe especially, political lines in the sand, all in various names of morality, justice, honor and truth.

These are silent weapons, casting doubt, fear and miscreancy without any regard to the history, background and/or the progress and contributions made by the entities or personages involved. Lifetimes of achievement and benefits to society are meaningless and without merit as the assailants ignore the qualities or qualifications and respect deserved. Participants pummel one another with memorable, catchy slogans and sound bites without compromising ears.

These battles encourage character assassinations and challenge one another's independence of thought and freedom as granted by the Constitution to interact peaceably with a fellow citizen regardless of ethnic or geographic origin. We cringe at the atrocities and depth of carnage recounted by the images and reality of the first Civil War. Ol' Abe Lincoln in all his wisdom in the two minutes it took to present the Gettysburg Address provided a stability that has endured for over 150 years that today is being compromised by a lack of knowledge and gratitude for all those who have sacrificed all to endow us with the privilege to continue to have the right to say what we will.

However, with all of the liberties inherited comes an immense responsibility to honor those who have preceded us and kept civil disobedience within the parameters of a democracy that can give the other side of the line the opportunity to be heard without retaliation and oppression...physical or mental. We must use all of our technological advances and historical consciousness for the betterment and benefit of the future generations.

We need to look for ways not to annihilate one another, perpetuate our differences or encourage animosities. We should heed the lessons of the past and begin to listen AND hear AND seek common ground and understanding. We need to begin to rebuild our foundation granted us by the Founding Fathers. Each of our heritages are of lasting importance to the Nation we all occupy, and we need to sit at the same table and look each other in the eye and hear the other's heartbeat. It is vital for all of us to prepare for the discourse in a much more open, less hostile, antagonistic, judgmental and condescending manner.

It is time to hit the "Refresh" button for civility.




Let me be upfront from the beginning... I believe in and support the creation and intent of the 2nd Amendment as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. I became a proud member of the NRA about 1955 because I was a hunter and their magazine at the time had numerous stories of successful ventures into the wilds of North America, encouraged gun safety and gave pertinent information about the capability of different firearms for hunting purposes.

However, about a decade later, after becoming a police officer I did not renew my membership because I felt the organization had let us down by not supporting the proposed ban on AK - 47's, a weapon developed for war with its only purpose being to kill the enemy, thus allowing them to enter the public domain. Numerous peace keeping forces throughout the country opposed their reluctance to allow individuals to "out gun" us as we had nothing comparable to protect the citizens of our communities or ourselves.

The NRA was organized in 1871 with the primary goal of improving civilians' marksmanship in preparation for any future wars. It was not until 1927 that Congress passed its first modern legislation, the banning of mailing concealable weapons. In 1934, The National Firearms Act regulated the manufacture, sale and possession of fully automatic firearms and sawed-off shotguns. 1938 saw The Federal Firearms Act which imposed a federal license requirement on gun manufacturers, importers, and persons selling firearms. It also required licensees to maintain customer records and made it illegal to sell to convicted felons. It was not until 1968 after the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy that The Gun Control Act was passed which regulated mail order and interstate shipment of firearms or ammunition except among licensed manufactures, dealers and importers. It also prohibited the sale of firearms or ammunition to felons, drug users and people found to be mentally incompetent and defined "Prohibited Persons". President Kennedy was killed by a rifle purchased from a mail order ad in the American Rifleman, published by the NRA.

1984 saw the Armed Career Criminal Act passed that increased the penalties from 10 to 15 years imprisonment for felons who commit crimes with firearms if they are convicted of certain crimes three or more times. This Act provides for an implied maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

In January, 1989, Patrick Purdy returned to the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, CA, where he had attended as a child, with a legally purchased version of the AK-47 and shot 106 rounds in three minutes killing five students and wounding 34 others. In February of the same year former President Ronald Reagan, only a few weeks out of office stated, "I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting or for home defense, but I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for home defense".

The 1990 Crime Control Act banned the manufacturing and importing of semiautomatic assault weapons and created, "Gun free school zones", establishing specific penalties for violations of the Act.

In 1994 former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan wrote to members of the House of Representatives, "We urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons as a matter of public safety. Although they account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to a crime. In 1993 a Gallup Poll found that 77% of Americans support a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of semi-automatic assault guns such as the AK-47. The 1989 import ban resulted in an impressive 40% drop in imported assault weapons traced to a crime between 1989 and 1991. While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on further manufacture of these weapons".

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was enacted in 1994 that prohibited the manufacture, transfer or possession, for civilian use, certain semi-automatic firearms defined as "assault weapons" and certain "large capacity" ammunition magazines or "clips". This bill expired on September 13, 2004 in accordance with its 10 year sunset provision.

Also in 1994 two bills were passed, The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed that imposed a 5 day waiting period on the purchase of a handgun and requires local law enforcement agencies conduct background checks on purchasers of handguns and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act prohibiting the sale, manufacture, importation or possession of specific assault type weapons for a 10 year period. Both bills expired on September 13, 2004 after Congress failed to reauthorize them.

However, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was launched by the FBI in 1998 which requires Federal Firearms Licensees to instantly determine whether a purchaser is eligible to buy firearms. More than 250 million checks have been made leading to 1.3 million denials through 2016.

In 1999 a bill is passed 51 - 50 with Vice President Al Gore casting the deciding vote requiring trigger locks on all newly manufactured handguns and extended the waiting period and background check requirements for sale of firearms at gun shows.

2004 sees Congress failing to continue funding for President George W. Bush's 2001 Project Safe Neighborhoods, to reduce gun and gang crime by networking with local programs promoting community outreach.

In 2008 The National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Act was signed by President Bush requiring background checks for legally declared mentally ill individuals who are ineligible to purchase firearms.

The rest is not history yet...many bills have been introduced but not passed or acted on which leaves a lot in limbo and at peril if we are to see supplemental legislation that can make a difference in the current morass we find ourselves experiencing on a regular basis and facing in the future. As is evident by this brief timeline of Congressional action related to firearms regulation there have been notable legislative accomplishments in the past but we appear to be mired in the swamp without a guide to get us out at this point. While the very important considerations of "bump stocks" and the "ghost guns" should be illegal by previously enacted laws they have not been brought before Congress for a vote. Many of the existing laws would cover a multitude of our concerns but there needs to be either a.) better coordination between the various agencies who can enforce the associated legalities and/or 2.) introduce new or in some cases reintroduce those Acts that can and have made a difference that were allowed to "sunset".

We need leaders that are representing a vast majority of Americans who are grieving over the 96 mass "shootings" since 1997 that have been indiscriminate as to race, age, gender, sexual orientation or religious preference. If those currently in office can not take action then those students like David Hogg will make the necessary changes in the near future in spite of the 600 pound gorilla in the corner of the room.

A final a gun owner and hunter I have no fear of, "lawful duty of disclosure", as I have nothing to hide (even at gun shows) and welcome any change that might, hopefully, prevent even one more child from reaching their potential for the sake of our country.

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