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.

Vigilant_magnifying glass

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.

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.”

Letter to VP Biden upon release of gun/public safety recommendations

January 15, 2013
Dear Vice President Biden – I am overjoyed that you were charged with heading up the task force on gun control reform recommendations.

There are millions of us who are now “soldiers” for this cause, since the Sandy Hook devastation. We are grassroots lobbyists -more powerful than the NRA, if we continue to mobilize and put the full force of our power upon Capitol Hill.

This is why I’m so distressed at the news of Senator Harry Reid and Congresssman Mike Thompson publicly talking politics and pre-emptively striking down the possibility of an assaults weapon ban passing.  Correction – I’m am disgusted!!!

I have already left messages at both their offices to tell them that not only do they diminish the work of people like me, but they continue to hurt the Democratic Party when their messages appear to put politics above people.

They need to get out of their D.C. bubble if they think we give a rat’s ass about whether the ban will pass the first time vs. the importance of putting it forth. They have been playing this kind of wimpy politics for years and it needs to end.

We need serious and sweeping reforms on many critical issues that the majority of Americans support:  climate change, election and campaign finance laws, to name just a couple.  But, time and time again, the Dems bow to pressure of funders and lobbyists, leaving us voters who keep putting them in office in the dust.

Let those who would oppose an assaults weapons ban so soon after Sandy Hook stand up and be counted!!!  Why does the Democratic leadership continue to cover for these cowards?  Put their names on the front of every news publication across the country on the sad day they would dare to vote against banning the weapons that killed everyone at Sandy Hook and kill thousands more every year in our country.

I would revel in that day and I hope it’s soon.  You see, VP Biden – the rest of us in this country are not as wimpy as the Democratic senators and congresspeople.  But, I think you knew that already.

So, I urge you to do what you can to give Reid & Pelosi some marching orders for how they need to keep themselves and their people in line.

We are in the majority on this issue and we’re not going to stand for anything less than serious gun reforms.

I leave you with Elizabeth Edwards’ words:  “Those who need a champion cannot afford compromise, in the face of forces that are powerful, persistent and greedy.”