Be Vigilant without Resorting to Vigilantism

During Governor Deval Patrick‘s press conference the day after the Boston Marathon bombing, one of the law enforcement officials said that is it up to average people to be aware of their environment and report any suspicious activities or behavior.  I wholeheartedly concur.

A year ago, I spotted a pristine Apple bag bag sitting on a train platform.  As I approached, thinking “ooh, wonder if there’s an iPad inside?”  my thought quickly changed to “if I was going to leave a weapon in the hopes of getting someone to pick it up, putting it in an Apple bag would be a good idea.”  I immediately went downstairs and told the transit authority attendant and she acted on it right away.

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Photo by Rafael Anderson Gonzales Mendoza

Maybe you don’t want to spend your time while in public thinking like a criminal, but I’ll bet you would find this preferable to continuing to endure the violence we experience every day, much less the rarer acts like what occurred at the Boston Marathon this week.

Some doubt their instincts and don’t say anything because they might be embarrassed about being wrong.  I prefer being wrong 100 times for every one time I’m right, rather than ignoring potentially dangerous people and situations.

Be vigilant. Watch people and what they’re doing and their behavior.  If you have even an ounce of suspicion, call the police.  This includes abuse toward children and animals.

There are not enough police or FBI agents to handle the violence in our country.  It is up to us to help prevent violence in all its forms.

And, this is not a call to arms or becoming a vigilante – simply about increasing your awareness and taking action by calling authorities who are prepared to investigate and handle criminal acts.

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March 19, 2003 and 2013: The Days Democracy Died

Politicians – especially conservative ones  – love to pontificate about our [the poorer classes – you know – the 99%] lack of sanctity for life…how there would be so many fewer deaths if only those from single-mother households could learn how to value their community members and at the very least, obey laws.

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On March 19, 2003, Bush blasted right through our Constitution, preemptively starting a war based on lies, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths.
On March 19, 2013, Senator Harry Reid – aided by what I now believe is a president who does not understand the power his office holds – squashed Democracy once again.  Reid removed the assault weapons ban from gun regulation legislation that his Democratic Party put forth.  Legislation that American people called for and the majority of citizens stand behind.  Because, he said, he “didn’t have the votes.”

I’ve learned – if I want to stay off the “no fly” list, to not send letters to public officials when as angry as I was yesterday.  I waited until today to send Senator Reid my most sincere criticism.  I urge everyone who feels as I do to write to him, and make it crystal clear that we are in the majority on sensible gun regulation:

“Senator Reid – I left you a message a few weeks ago when you said that you didn’t have the votes for an assault weapons ban – telling you how much you are undermining the efforts of citizens like me who are trying to use the last shreds of Democracy in our country to make our voices heard to get some common sense gun regulations passed.
Even if your voice shakes...

Yesterday, when you put politics before people, and denied citizens the ability to see lawmakers  stand up and be counted on this issue, when you let lawmakers instead retreat to their offices, where they could accept the calls from the NRA, promising these public officials more money for your victory, you just squashed Democracy.

You let a very small minority of loud people – who are being used by the NRA every bit as much as you are – to decide the fate of legislation that would have saved lives.

You sir, are responsible – not only for more gun deaths, but for the death of what those of us who have been voting and participating in civic life our entire lives – understand Democracy to be.

While you may have sought to kill Democracy yesterday, understand that it is ours – not yours.

You will find this out when you lose your next election. You should retire now and spare all of us more of this sham of a government. I’m sure the NRA has a well-paying position waiting for you.”

More Dangerous Than Weapons: Denial

The biggest problem in our country right now is not lack of jobs, violence, education or climate chaos. It’s the inability to look in the mirror, the false sense of control, and extreme insecurity – that breeds dangerous denial.

We witness this denial most with a minority of citizens – yes, let’s be clear – they are a minority – who cling to their guns and think that the mere ownership of a gun – easier to get than a kitten at most adoption agencies – makes them superior not only to felons, but average citizens. They call themselves “law-abiding” when they aren’t even subject to background checks and when they break laws without being caught or reported.

Dr. Deidra Blackmon

Veterinarian Dr. Deidra Blackmon was killed by a 24-year old “law-abiding” gun owner, because her friend was vomiting on his car in a bar parking lot.  The gunman’s life was in no way being threatened.

Gun owners who have impulse control and anger issues to where they abuse their spouses and children are breaking laws, but if they’re not arrested and convicted or if they got their guns without background checks, they feel entitled to be considered “law abiding.” Parents who habitually and recklessly leave their loaded guns unlocked are considered “law-abiding” too…all because our public safety laws have been written so that virtually anyone with a pulse and a few bucks can own guns.

If the only qualification for owning a gun is waking up in the morning, here’s a news flash: Owning a gun does not make you morally, intellectually or in any other way superior to the majority of citizens who avoid guns and believe in reasonable regulation of life-ending weapons.  

Discussing this issue upsets me, so I am posting a great comment from my friend Martin Hunter – He says exactly what I believe, and says it most eloquently:

“We are all human. In the heat of a dispute, dark thoughts, even the idea of pulling the trigger, may come to mind. So many folks that seek security with a gun strapped to their leg or in their purse think that they are immune to acting on such an impulse. They only fear that others would act on that kind of impulse. It is a common fallacy that most all have, that they are stronger but others are weak.

But when you hear the hateful and violent curse filled verbal assaults delivered by the NRA gun nuts you just have to scratch your head and wonder why their self perceptions is so distorted. They are all obviously capable of pulling the trigger without a second thought. Instead of retreating from confrontations, the gun gives these folks a dangerous level of bravado and they end up making some very poor decisions.

Zimmerman comes to mind. He would not have followed Travon were it not for the fact that he had a sense of security with his gun. Now a teen, armed with Skittles, is dead. I think anyone easy to anger or prone to violent outburst should be judged unsuitable for conceal-carry. As it is, only the insane will be denied a permit based on mental health issues. That is setting the bar too low from my point of view.”