Mikes Sand Box

Where opinions matter.

Gun Rights vs Gun Control — December 5, 2015

Gun Rights vs Gun Control

Now here is a hot button topic, for sure. Every week you see the subject pop up in the news, mostly for the most obvious reason in the world. Someone died at the wrong end of a gun! Lately it has escalated to “a lot” of someones died, or were seriously injured. Historically, that is the only time the gun topic ever shows up in the news, unless it is election time and a political wannabe chooses to put it on their campaign agenda. That doesn’t happen as often as you might think really. Politicians want to get elected into a powerful and prestigious office and Gun Control is like drinking poison to a “seeker”. Politicians have to be very brave indeed to put Gun Control on their “ticket”, without recent “horrifying incidents” of abuse to support their doing so. But just where is the conflict here? Let us try to look at both sides…

Supporters of Gun Ownership consistently say it is the Constitutional Right of every American to “bear arms”. This is absolutely right, in and of itself. The original Constitution does reference the country having a duty to allow for an “armed militia”, and an amendment further expands it into a “right” to own weapons. That cannot be disputed, even though many critics try to continuously. It’s right there in black and white print, just ask the NRA…unfortunately that is just the beginning of the debate. The real issue is more of how accessible should firearms be. Me personally, I don’t care if you want to own a firearm…as long as you are a genuine enthusiast with no history of mental issues, are stable, have no history of violent behavior or abuse of any kind, and just like guns. Sorry bullies, you are not in my list of acceptable gun owners. I would say that I believe the majority of people fall into the category of “Gun Enthusiast”, including collectors of firearms (who may or may not ever actually fire one or more of their collection). You are the good guys, with no intention of ever shooting someone out of anger. Where I differ with your cause is the idea that firearms should have few restrictions on the purchase.

Don’t deny it! I’ve known people who think it is already too hard to buy a gun. TOO HARD? Come on now, most of the horror stories recently (in the US) have one thing exactly in common. All the weapons used in the act were purchased legallyI have to presume the Terrorists in Paris came by their weapons in a similar manner, since several were French citizens I believe. So the reasoning behind not making access to weapons more restrictive doesn’t quite hold up…now does it…

Some states apparently have fairly restrictive gun laws. I remember doing some work for eight months up in New Jersey for my company once, While there I found out that it was illegal to have a gun AND ammunition in the same vehicle together. Yup, a friend had a federal gun license to “own” a firearm, and had his gun locked in the trunk of his car. He had a box of ammo in the glove compartment, locked up. He was pulled over because of a burnt out taillight, and as police are sometimes moved to do, decided on a random inspection. Thinking himself perfectly in the right, he consented and the two State Troopers began a mildly thorough search. They had him unlock the glove box, and of course saw the box of ammunition. After a five minute question and answer time, they seemed satisfied and asked to peek in the trunk. No problem, right? They saw the gun just lying there, in a box (concealed weapon?), and promptly arrested him. Why? There was a gun and ammunition in the same vehicle. It did not matter that there was no magazine at all in the car (you can still load one round in the chamber), and it didn’t matter that the ammunition was some 8 feet away from the gun and double locked (glove box and trunk), they were in the same vehicle. Now that is one restrictive gun law! Nothing really came of it, other that several hours of inconvenience for my co-worker, the troopers had to follow the letter of the law. They even expressed sympathy at having to take him in, but did confiscate the ammunition.

The point here is that some states take gun control seriously, even if the implementation seems bizarre. Other states simply do not have much interest in the purchase, carrying or use of firearms. That can get frightening fast. Now don’t get your hackles up! In some respects I’m on your side. Remember my statement earlier? I have no problem with you owning weapons, as long as you meet those requirements I told you about. I don’t care if you like going out to the range a couple times a week, or even hunt on occasion (or everyday if you really need to out in the boonies!). I get a little uncomfortable though when you say you need a firearm for “home protection”, even if you live in one of the many “high crime areas”…’nuff said about that.

So, just because I don’t mind you owning weapons does not mean I’m a “gun rights” supporter. I do believe in gun control, on a National level. I believe there should be very strict restrictions, strict background checks (not the piece meal, often outdated “instant” NICS variety), and some “reasonable” waiting periods.

AND I believe you should be agreeing with me here. After all, reducing the number of horror stories in the news is better for you, since it helps justify your recreational ownership, don’t it??? Some inconvenience for you in exchange for good PR seems a pretty good trade. Or do you want to “bully” your way through this discussion…

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The Donald vs The World — November 27, 2015

The Donald vs The World

There is a phenomenon on the horizon. He is often referred to as “The Donald”. Unless you have been in a coma for the last ten years or so you know immediately who I mean.

Me, I call him “the bully”. He does not care what he says to anyone, or about anyone. He isn’t afraid to demean or ridicule any one person, or group of people for that matter. His “campaign” is apparently based upon the simplest solutions for all our problems. “Bomb them, build a huge wall to keep them out, deport them”. Sound familiar? It should, “The Donald” has said all that and more. He has ridiculed and slammed anyone who has the temerity to call him out, or simply disagree. The bottom line here seems to be, if you don’t agree with him or revere him you are “a target”!

Donald Trump is a show man first and foremost. And he is very good at it. Make no mistake, he is intelligent. He knows exactly how to push the buttons of a large number of Americans, a group who is disillusioned, and angry with just about anything in their lives. The real problem surfaces when you look beyond all the rhetoric and simple solutions. Is there any substance to what he says? Not in my mind…all his antics before the camera generates media attention, and it sways the growing numbers of people who just want someone to tell them what they want to hear, that there is an end to all the craziness in the world.

There was a movie produced back in 1995 titled The American President. I loved it! One of the characters reminds me of Donald Trump. In fact, the Richard Dreyfuss portrayal of President Shepherds nemesis, Senator Bob Rumson, is eerily similar to what we now expect out of The Donalds mouth. Frankly it frightens me…writing such a character into a movie is entertaining, but seeing that character in real time is just too much. Can you really see Donald Trump leading our country?

God, I hope not…

Terrorism and You/Us — November 15, 2015

Terrorism and You/Us

In case you were hiding under a rock, Friday night saw the most seriously coordinated terrorist attack in some time. Paris France was targeted by six “teams” intent on causing as much mayhem as possible, generating anger and fear throughout the world. IT WORKED! But was it unique, isolated? No. Is it a desperate act by some tiny group of dissidents, looking for notoriety? Most definitely not! They already have a world wide name, ISIS/ISIL, The short version is Islamic State, an all too well known group. And their ranks are growing. Let’s look at some of the obvious evidence of this groups intentions…

The reports seem to agree that all of the terrorists in the Paris attack had no doubt that they would not escape, as apparently all were wearing suicide vests, with a popular chemical explosive inside. In other words, their intent was to die, taking as many bystanders with them as possible. It looks like that plan worked pretty well. But I see a not so subtle message in there as well. The message seems to be the same as always, “You cannot escape us, we will win this war”…

War? Who declared war…well, obviously Islamic extremists declared war, many years ago, on anyone and everyone who did not submit to their ideology. Remember Lockerbie (PanAm Flight 103). How about the US Marine barracks in Beirut? Certainly every person in the world knows about 9/11. These are but a few examples of many such campaigns in a war that most countries either ignored or wanted no part of. The point is that Al Qaeda existed well over 20 years ago, and no one took much notice of them until the attacks became more numerous and larger in scale. “Hey, we are here!” they shouted loudly, and finally the world took notice.

The extremists are targeting YOU/US people. The “splinter groups” that have spawned from the original Al Qaeda group are even more frightening than the original parent. Heck, even Al Qaeda has tried to distance themselves from the “new fanatics”, with not a lot of success. Many people still see the group as the root cause of all the death and destruction. In one way they are right, since Al Qaeda did start it all. But when the parent says they want nothing to do with their children, you know something is very very wrong!

How do you “fight” them? They happily die to produce the atrocities. They literally believe they are right. And their numbers are growing each day. So, what do we do to counter this threat? The opinions are as numerous as there are people. I’m going to focus on a few of the more well known options and why they all can ultimately have only limited success…

All out war- this is problematic right from the start. If you were unaware of it, we are already engaged in World War 3. Not in the conventional sense certainly. There is no single country bent on world domination, nor countries grouped in a bond of similar desires. This world war is one of perceived religious ideology. This time the entire world is the battlefield, every square inch of it, where ever there are humans trying to live their lives in ignorance of the rest of the world around them. Yes my friends, I said ignorance. We all try to separate ourselves from the harsh realities around us, and that is why an all out war is not practical. The terrorists are not grouped conveniently in just one place, where you can mount large complicated invasions. They are mixed in with all the innocent populations throughout the world, so you simply cannot go set up a bunch of artillery pieces and start shooting. The same goes for aerial bombing on any large scale, it just creates too much collateral damage. You get the picture, full on warfare is out as an option.

Surgical Air Strikes- I include this option simply because it is what The Coalition is doing right now. While there has been some success in eliminating high level terrorist leaders, that success has had a price. Collateral damage, both to infrastructure and innocent lives. There have been several incidents where hospitals and schools have been hit hard in the effort to “get that ISIL guy”. This problem makes surgical strikes less than the best option.

Covert Operations- Now we have something, right? Perhaps, but there’s a problem with that option too. Covert means exactly this…Under Cover! Secret people, not broadcast over all the media just because some idiot wants to push “Transparency” over the nearest cliff! Get my meaning? There are way too many clowns out there who think secrecy isn’t important. To those people I say, GET A GRIP! This is not a video game where you get super duper weapons to squash your opponents, and you don’t get resurrected if things go wrong. You just get dead! The only covert operations sofar that were successful is where total secrecy was maintained. Then you can have your transparency, AFTER the operation is over. This option has the best chance of at least reducing the terrorist activity throughout the world, but requires the very best intelligence gathering and analysis, as well as the cooperation of the local governments involved. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it can work, and has in the past.

Infiltration and extermination- Spies people. This would be a nice solution except for the fact that it needs some very brave people, and a lot of them. They are out there, of course, with some profound motivation no doubt. That is not the reason it is not the best solution. The reason is more that this should be a supplemental activity, in support of other means.

Ok, there is my rant of the week. I haven’t gone into religion much at all, that is for another day. If there is a message I want to deliver here, it is that we are not fighting against Islam, but rather we are fighting against some very sick interpretations of the Islamic teachings. No where in the Quran does it say that it is alright to kill innocent people. Some say that it is “implied”, but that requires an interpretation, doesn’t it…I don’t have an ultimate solution for this , no one really does. It isn’t going to be easy, which ever way we choose. Just remember please, it is not the religion we have to fight. The teachings within the Quran seem to parallel the ones in the Bible really, at least in some ways. They even mention the same principle characters!

As always, feel free to comment, change my mind, or just say it’s rubbish. Your opinion is just as valid as anyone elses. Just be nice, ok?