Yesterday I did a little Googling about using drones to get up and over border walls and I didn’t have to dig too far to learn that the technology exists to inexpensively smuggle large amounts of drugs into America via an air force of drones.
Drones vary widely in both price and payload. A few thousand dollars on Amazon will buy one a drone capable of carrying a payload of 12 kg. At an average street price of $200 a gram in the US a 12 kg cargo could be valued at as much as $2.4 million. For several thousand more one could buy a drone with a cargo capacity of 660 pounds. You do the math and don’t forget such a drone may be able to smuggle a couple of people over a wall.
I’m old enough to remember when Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos ruled the Philippines until the people finally rose up and ran them out. Of all they stole from the nation’s treasury the attention focused on Imelda’s love of shoes and the 2,700 pairs of high-end shoes found in her closet.
Imelda and her shoes
Jim & Tammy Faye before the fall
Jim and Tammy Bakker were another couple whose fall from grace made the news in the 1980s. Their ill-gotten wealth came from bilking the vulnerable through their evangelical television programs. When the hammer fell it wasn’t just a closet full of shoes the investigators found. It was millions in collectible cars, jewels, furs, homes, planes, luxury air-conditioned houses for their pets, and high-end mascara for Tammy’s eyes.
ONLY ONE GUN STORE: There’s only one place to officially buy guns in Mexico, and it’s on a military base. Yet gun violence is on the rise in the country. So where are the guns coming from? Mexico’s northern neighbor. An estimated 580 weapons illegally move from the U.S. to Mexico every day. Compare that to the 38 guns that the country’s sole gun store sells every day.
When I started college in the mid 1960s I decided I’d give accounting a try. After a couple of courses I discovered I had no propensity for the subject. I test drove a couple of other business courses before deciding I might be better suited for art and politics.
With this in mind you can imagine how stupefied I was in learning last evening that the US Department of Defense can’t account for $21 trillion dollars. Yeah, that’s trillion with a “T”.
Putting some perspective on this number just let me say that the entire federal government budget for 2017 was just a little over $4 trillion. The entire national debt is $19 trillion. It is estimated that the gross national product for the United States in 2018 will amount to $20 trillion. So, the DOD is missing more than the value of all goods and services produced in America during the current year.
By whatever name they’re called there are 3,142 counties in the United States. Every single county in the U.S. registered an increase in drug-related mortality between 1980 and 2014. And that rise was statistically significant in 99.8 percent of counties.
The tragedy of these facts and figures is that the obvious failure of what has become known as the War on Drugs can be traced at least back to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The war got heated in 1971 under Nixon and again in the 1980s with Reagan.
On last night’s news there was a story about a convicted felon, a black woman, who mistakenly thought she was permitted to vote in last year’s election. She found out later that Texas felons lose their right to vote and she had unwittingly broken a law. This past week a Texas court sentenced her to five years in prison. As a follow-up NBC cited several examples in which the felon was a man and got off with probation and/or a small fine.
This story reminded me of something that took place around Greenfield back in the 1960s. I was living in California at the time so I only knew what was in the local papers my parents sent me on occasion. It’s also been so long ago I don’t remember all the details.
That said, the story basically involved an area farmer who got involved in a check kiting scheme and before it was over the total dollar amount exceeded a million dollars and several area bank officials got more than a knuckle cracking.
When it was finally settled my parents sent me the local paper and the lead story stated that the farmer ended up walking out the door a free man. The irony was, immediately following this story was a short story about a local woman who was found guilty of writing a bad check and she sentenced to jail.
These are just a couple more examples of American justice not being totally blind. Too often justice turns its blind eye away from women and minorities.
Remember when Volkswagen got caught cheating on the pollution numbers about its diesel cars? Well, they had to recall about 350,000 cars, most of which are sitting on giant parking lots all across America waiting for some decision on what to do with them. In the meantime they are being fully maintained to keep them sellable. Could there be some great car deals in the months ahead?
There is some debate about the total number of guns in America with the consensus being above 300 million. The number of guns isn’t too different from the number of people, including children.
Adding to that is the millions of guns that continue to be manufactured in America every year. The chart below shows the numbers from 1986 through 2013 and one can easily see that the gun makers are on good times. In fact, the times are even better. Last week I heard the most recent report stating total manufacture in 2017 was in excess of fourteen million.
Midnight Express was a powerful film released in 1978. The story was about an American being arrested in Turkey where the onus was on him to prove his innocence. The exposure of the Turkish legal and prison systems was so great it almost destroyed that nation’s tourist industry.
Most Americans strongly support the idea that the burden of proof lies with the government. That a person is innocent until proven guilty. Turkey is one of several nations where the opposite exists.
While I’ve always supported this basic premise I may be changing. Frequently TV cops and lawyers justify incarcerating someone by arguing, “well they may not have done this crime but they’ve done enough other things.” I so believe that Donald J. Trump and members of his family are so guilty of plural crimes I find myself increasingly willing to turn away from this innocent crap. There seems to be so many stinking turds in the Trump closets that somehow one had to be placed there by someone named Trump.
For several weeks now I’ve taken a serious look at the AR-15, trying to separate truth from fiction. The only truth I’ve found is that there is great disagreement. While the AR-15 is America’s favorite rifle there seems to be a wide diversity of opinion about its standard ammo, the .223 cartridge. I Googled the title of this post and saw lots of people claiming the .223 is not what our military should be taking into combat.
I read a statement from an Army sharpshooter about how many bullets it took to finally take an enemy soldier out. You’ll find lots of disagreement about the .223 being an effective bullet for deer hunting. You’ll also find some articles by ER and trauma doctors who have seen the damage up close and personal.
One trauma doctor said the damage done by a .223 looks like a bomb went off inside the victim’s body while being hit by a 9mm can seem to be not much more than a knife cut. What the .223 does to the body is caused by its velocity. As it travels through the body the bullet is traveling at such a high rate of speed it sends out a shock wave that compounds its effectiveness.
So while I don’t see any mechanical difference between a hundred year old semi-automatic rifle and the latest version of the AR, I do see a great difference in their respective ammunitions. I’ve said in other posts that while I’m not opposed to the AR I am opposed to any device that increases the number of rounds and the rate of fire. Maybe it’s time to consider the permitted velocity of civilian .223 ammo.
Click HERE for an informative article about the damage done by the .223 cartridge.
Ever see Chris Rock’s take on violence in the schools and gun control?
Many of you are familiar with Trae Crowder, The Liberal Redneck. He’s kind of a liberal version of Jeff Foxworthy except that he says “fuck” a lot. I find him funny and often dead on in his social and political rants. Here’s Trae’s most recent take on what happened in Florida and some of the solutions offered.
I just read an article in the Lexington Herald Leader about Pike County, KY’s school board authorizing qualified teachers with concealed carry permits. As a retired teacher I am very opposed to teachers taking on the added responsibility of armed guards. There are many things that I find abhorrent about this but nothing bothers me as much as the level of training, skill, and fitness needed for the task.
We’ve all seen enough TV news about our infantry troops training for urban warfare. These professionals spend months and years honing the tactical skills needed. They are also required to maintain the highest level of physical fitness. They have to be strong, agile, and fast of foot. They also have to make instant life and death decisions. These are things not often found in America’s army of mild-mannered schoolmarms. Before teaching I worked jobs that demanded physical strength and endurance. Once I entered the classroom, however, I spent the next thirty years lifting sticks of chalk and passing out textbooks.
Think about the teachers you had in school and then go to YouTube and look at some videos about police and military tactical firearms training. Looking back over my career I can’t think of a single teacher, including myself, who should have been permitted to carry a weapon in the classroom.
When I was a kid my uncle Homer owned a single shot, bolt-action, J.C. Penny .22 rifle. I would often borrow it and go “plinking” at a trash dump on Wolf Rd. Firing the weapon required opening the chamber with the bolt lever, inserting a cartridge, closing the chamber, and cocking the rifle by pulling back a firing pin mechanism. Very simple, very reliable, very accurate, and very very slow.
Some years ago I traded for a Remington semi-automatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine that held maybe 10 rounds of long-rifle ammo. The rifle required one trigger pull per round but you could very rapidly empty the magazine. Reloading was pretty slow, nothing like ripping out an empty clip and slamming a full one in.
I’m not sure I ever fired this weapon and later gave it to my grandson along with a .22 nine round revolving target pistol.
When I was in the Navy, and later the Air Force Reserves, I got to fire a variety of weapons and became “qualified” with a couple of pistols. I fired a Garand M1 rifle, a Browning BAR, a Thompson sub-machine gun, a 38 pistol along with a .45 semi-automatic pistol. In boot camp I carried a Springfield 1903 five shot bolt-action rifle. The only one I ever actually fired was a rental I used for my one and only deer hunting experience. My boot camp 1903 didn’t even have a firing pin and the barrel may have been plugged.
I currently own a single shot .16 gauge shotgun and two revolver pistols and though I know how to use them I am not practiced.
I say all this to demonstrate that I’m not firearms ignorant and I’m not opposed to owning guns, hunting, and shooting sports. I basically support the 2nd Amendment but strongly believe, as does the Supreme Court, that it comes with limits. Government has the right to restrict many aspects of gun use and ownership. This said, however, the NRA and other groups deny the Founding Fathers meant there should be limits. They radically oppose any limits on all things gun related.
In the past few years I have wrestled with my feelings about the most controversial of all guns, the AR-15 and I’ve finally arrived at a conclusion. These “assault style” weapons are no different from the simple .22 semi-automatic I gave my grandson. You could go to a gun shop and buy the gun I gave my grandson and fewer critics would complain. But you buy that same weapon made to look like a military rifle it immediately gets labeled an assault rifle and the critics go nuts. The real difference between the civilian and the military weapons is the rate of fire. The military version has a firing option the civilian doesn’t; it can fire (depending on the model) in full-automatic or burst-automatic. Burst function lets the rifle fire three rounds with each pull of the trigger. Full-automatic will fire as long as you hold the trigger in or until you shot all the bullets. The civilian versions are legal to buy, own, and use. The military versions are mostly illegal.
These are some of the basic facts we all need to be aware of. But, in the words of Paul Harvey there is a “rest of the story.” The truth is that any semi-automatic weapon, pistol or rifle, is deadlier than single-shots because they have a much higher rate of fire. In the time it took me to shoot my uncles J.C. Higgins and reload, a ten-round semi-automatic could easily have ten bullets in the air. They could also be reloaded in less time than with my uncle’s gun.
I’m going to make a major compromise with the gun crowd and publicly state that I won’t support a ban on any gun that is currently legal. I won’t support the government coming to your door and defrocking you of your manhood unless there is reason to think you’ve broken a law. But, here’s what I won’t do:
I won’t support the NRA in any way as long as they remain the radical organization they have become. When the ammosexuals decide they are ready to give up protecting the sale of cop-killer ammo and arming the insane, maybe we can begin talking.
I won’t support the current loopholes in gun registration and sales. I demand that thorough background checks take place on each and every gun sale in the nation, even private sales. Private sales would have to go through a licensed broker who would perform the background check.
I won’t support the current manufacturer and sale of any device that increases a weapon’s rate of fire. Example the bump stock that was used by the Las Vegas shooter to turn his AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon.
I know it is controversial but I won’t support any legislation that bars the registration of all firearms.
I won’t support any legislation that bans waiting periods before buying a gun.
I will not support the continued ownership of any clip or magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition. All such devices should be totally outlawed and all violations should carry a heavy penalty. General George Patton called the Garand M1 the best weapon of war ever invented. It was the rifle that won WWII, it was a semi-automatic, and it only held eight rounds. With a ten round clip a person can target shoot, hunt, protect their families, and partly get their testosterone fueled rocks off. And unfortunately, they can still wipe out a school hallway.
I won’t support the sale of any firearm or ammunition via the mail or the Internet.
I won’t oppose reasonable legislation that limits the amount of ammunition one can purchase.
I won’t support the increase of age to buy a gun. I will always believe that if being eighteen is enough for voting and military service it should be enough to buy a beer or a gun. Turning eighteen should come with all the rights of an adult.
I won’t support any decision to permit people with mental issues, a history of violence, a history of serious crime, and other issues that may threaten the public safety to purchase or possess a firearm.
I won’t support the arming of teachers. These people want to be educators and mentors to the young, not armed guards. As a retired teacher I’ve tried to imagine myself as a fit thirty year old with a weapon. Regardless of training I can’t help but think of all the things that would make that a bad idea. I doubt I could pull the trigger on a student without some delay or hesitation that would only worsen the situation. After all, if four trained sheriff deputies in Parkland, FL couldn’t do it, what makes me think the caring and loving English teacher, Ms. Jones, could do it?
This is my list at time of writing. It is subject to be added to and/or amended. I believe, however, that this is a list of sensible and reasonable gun laws. It doesn’t take away a “good person’s” gun but together it does relieve what I believe the worst truths about guns in America…there are simply too many guns and they are far too easy to acquire.
Oh, one more item for the list…I won’t vote for any politician, regardless of party, who disagrees with me and/or accepts money from the firearms industry or the NRA!
I’ve been trying to make sense out of the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting and while none of these mass shootings make sense this one has a special element about it. The law seems to have allowed the shooter to have his gun near by.
With all the regulations regarding air travel that came out of 9/11 I’m shocked that you can travel with any form of firearm in any form of manner. Remember when you couldn’t even board a plane with a toenail clipper in your pants pocket?
As I understand it, the law permits one to travel with a firearm if you lock it and the ammo in a solid case and store that inside your checked luggage. You can’t carry it on to the plane with you and store it overhead, it must be secured in the cargo belly of the plane.
TRUMP TO COURT: I wonder how many Trump supporters realize their man has two upcoming court dates. One regarding the fraudulent behavior of Trump University and the other, charges of raping a thirteen year old girl in the 1990s.