A very happy Independence Day to all of my fellow Americans. May today serve as a reminder of the glory and sacrifice of those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today, and of those still in bondage, seeking freedom of their own. ... See MoreSee Less
It was my intent to keep a personal three day moratorium on commenting on the Orlando shooting, but seeing as no one else gave it the courtesy of keeping politics out of it, two days will have to do.
First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out (as they have been) to the lives impacted by the latest episode in a saga of hatred and senseless violence. As someone whose closest friends are all members of the LGBT community, I still cannot fathom the mindset of someone who would want them dead due to their sexual orientation. As someone who will always put peaceful resolution over violent means, I still cannot fathom the mindset of someone who wishes innocent lives destroyed.
And yet, this sort of thing occurs far too often, it seems. And each time there is a (tad premature for my tastes) call to action that never fails to bring out a myriad of political views, many of which in turn cause me to hold my tongue at the misinformation or lack of information presented. That ends today.
First of all, to those calling for an assault rifle ban: I'm going to assume that you mean assault weapon ban, since assault (automatic) rifles have been, and will continue to be, illegal for purchase or transfer by anyone not holding a Class 3 weapons license. Next to no one is permitted to own an automatic weapon, so when you speak of assault weapons, you are talking about semi-automatic rifles that have been cosmetically changed -- such as a folding stock or pistol grip. Now, when I say 'cosmetically', I mean cosmetically: the presence of these components has ZERO impact on the lethality of the weapon, and simply LOOK more dangerous. It is important to note that the attacker at Columbine used a Hi-Point 995 9mm carbine, which was specifically developed in accordance with the 1994 ban on "assault weapons". As far as I'm concerned, attempting to crack down on the existence of a weapon based strictly on its looks is ridiculous.
Now, for those seeking an all-out ban on firearms: going beyond the fundamental concept of our right to bear arms, I would point out the role of firearms as one of the great social equalizers. One of the main reason why criminals would think twice about robbing an elderly woman -- assuming their conscience stopped talking to them years ago -- is the possibility that granny might be packing. Given the various social and cultural norms that inhabit our country, it stands to reason that the absence of firearms altogether would not eradicate violent crime; merely make it easier for bigger, stronger people to overpower those who are smaller and weaker. Furthermore, in a technological age where people can 3D print a gun, provided that the printer has metal sintering capabilities, the idea of complete eradication of firearms is ridiculous.
Next, for those saying that this all could have been prevented, or at least lessened, by the presence of a "good guy with a gun": shame on you. Instances where a law-abiding citizen prevented catastrophe by using their own firearm are few and far between. Furthermore, no club owner in their right mind would permit firearms to be carried on the premises. Finally, I must express that the sort of mindset that causes us to always be carrying a weapon in fear of attack is precisely what terrorists - domestic and foreign - want to instill in us. Those individuals must be destroyed, but so must our fear of them.
Of course, it's not like me to highlight issues without accompanying them with solutions. Allow me to take a crack at it:
We must acknowledge and respect our 2nd Amendment rights, which I will present in their full text: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Many focus on the second part, while many have no idea that the first exists. With the full text in mind, I propose an amendment to 10 U.S. Code § 311 to define the unorganized militia as any US citizen (or those intending to become citizens) over the age of 18. After its passage, I suggest that we make that militia "well regulated" by requiring the following of our nation's militia: -Universal background checks that connect to one server that stores all information and provides ease of access to vendors. Someone who has been monitored by the FBI should not have been able to purchase a firearm. -Mental health requirements that must be met by any member of the militia seeking to arm him or herself. Mental health has been at the core of this senseless violence, and given my work in that field I cannot emphasize enough the importance of addressing the behavioral health needs of our citizens.
Of course, this is not to say that these solutions will completely eradicate gun violence, but they should make enough of a difference and hopefully have educated some of you as to how complicated this all can be. ... See MoreSee Less
Today marks the first day that California's new law -- one that raises the age limit for smoking to 21 and classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products -- goes into effect.
Having been tasked with the goal of reducing and (one can dream) eliminating the use of tobacco products, I will reiterate the harm that consuming tobacco products brings. I supported the classification of e-cigarettes as tobacco products, and am glad that we will be able to bring in necessary regulation to a product that has had similar impacts to cigarettes but did not share similar regulation.
Now for the second part of the law: there are lots of things that occur once an adolescent becomes an adult at the age of 18 -- in most cases, they are at the age of consent, can serve in the armed forces, can purchase pornography, can vote, and can be tried as an adult. While I continue to support the drinking age of 21 (which, studies show, really should be about 24) and a set age of 21 (which, studies also show, really should be 24) for the recreational consumption of marijuana, the effects of tobacco products is fairly uniform across the board and as such I see no reason why an individual who is, by nearly every account, an adult should not be given the choice of whether or not to consume tobacco products. Are they harmful? Yes. Should they be avoided? Yes. But consuming them is a choice to be made by individual adults, not me or any governing entity. ... See MoreSee Less