Monday, December 17, 2012

Some thoughts on firearms

I have some disjointed thoughts of my own on the subject of firearms. As a former gun owner who learned to shoot a .22 rifle at Boy Scout camp, I see the sporting attraction to guns. BUT, America is a violent country. Always has been. And this violence is magnified by firearms.

Firearms deaths are equal to auto accident deaths. But the majority are suicides, 19,000 annually. Second is homicide, about 11,000 annually. There are both accidental deaths of children with firearms, and homicides. I wonder how many of these are just someone who snapped in a difficult domestic moment.

There is no justification at all for assault weapons in the hands of civilians. None. There is some difficulty in the definition, but that is not the point. Those weapons exist merely to kill human beings, in quantity, as rapidly as possible. Purchase, manufacture, and importing of such weapons should be banned, and the purchase of ammunition for the ones in existence taxed to the highest degree. 

A significant number of home burglaries have firearms among the property stolen. It is impossible to know if firearms owners are targeted (how would the burglar know?) or if guns are valuable because they can be bought and sold illegally with some ease, and therefore are good to steal. One suspects that many stolen guns end up being used in crimes. 

ON the other hand, if someone broke into my home, threatened me or my loved ones with violence, I would have no issue with shooting them and sending them to the Great Beyond. And I have sufficient skills to do it. But I also keep a baseball bat in the bedroom, which also could be lethal. 

I have no problem with licensing, requiring safety classes, mandatory insurance, and other reasonable measures. I am NOT in favor of a total ban on personal firearms, and the American public would not stand for it anyway. But there must be reasonable ways to limit gun violence.

And no, arming everyone would not solve the problem, the fantasy beliefs of the open-carry crowd notwithstanding. That would just end up with more corpses.

But... we have to do SOMETHING!!! The souls of twenty dead babies cry out for it. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thoughts on the 2012 election

I have given myself some time to digest the 2012 election, especially how it impacted Hamilton County.  In no particular order, I have the following thoughts:

1.  Two Democrats got over 50,000 votes each in Hamilton County.  This a previously-unmatched threshold for Democrats in this Republican stronghold. U.S. Senator-elect Joe Donnelly got 52,925 votes in Hamilton County, or 39.43% of votes cast.   Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Glenda Ritz (a Carmel resident) got 52,777, or 39.71% of the votes cast in that race.  No other Democrat approached either those raw numbers or percentages.  By contrast, President Obama got 43,796 votes, or 31.95% of the votes cast.      

2.  The above results reflect a fairly standard base for Democratic votes (typically in the 30-35% range) in this county, except for the Donnelly and Ritz races, where some Republicans chose to vote for a Democrat, presumably because they thought the candidate of their own party was not acceptable.  However, as I have noted in prior blog posts, many Republicans would not vote for a Democrat here under any circumstances, even when the GOP candidate is under criminal investigation.  

3.  One of the hopes for Democrats to have an impact in local events showed up in Fishers after years of struggle.  A non-partisan group (CityYes) worked together for years to move Fishers to City status, over the sustained opposition of the majority of the Town Council and other political insiders.  Democrats, dissident Republicans, independents, and even those identifying with the Tea Party combined together for common purpose and in a vastly-outspent grassroots effort, not only succeeded in passing the "city-town" referendum by a 55.35% to 44.64% margin, but also soundly defeating a "reorganization" referendum that would have blocked the change to a real city with a mayor elected by the people by a 62.49% to 37.51% margin.   The "reorganization" was backed by 6 of the 7 Town Council members and funded by many insiders with business and other connections to the Council majority.  

The lesson here for Hamilton County Democrats?  Find issues or candidates with which you can have common purpose with non-Democrats.  Party labels mean less when there are real issues with a real impact in people's lives.  Showing that you want to make a difference in local events and that you are not just a blind partisan will lead some with a different party ID to take you more seriously.  And that coalition-building can have a real and lasting effect on local events.