Category Archives: Gun Control

This Is Us In The U.S.

Won't Comply

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Reggie Brown.

That’s the guy’s name.

No, I’m not talking about the former Eagles’ receiver who had a couple of decent seasons after the departure of Terrell Owens and before the trio of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant.

I’m am also not talking about the inventor of Snapchat or the children’s illustrator.

Instead, I am referring to the world’s greatest Barack Obama impersonator.

Brown (pictured below) was introduced to a national audience by Bill Maher shortly after your president (not mine) was elected. Brown used the platform of Maher’s nationally televised show on HBO to roll through what were then some of the “greatest missed hits” of your president (not mine).

Reggie Brown

The segment was called “What If Obama Said it?” and, man, it was a textbook case of using comedy to reveal a seriously underlying issues of racial hypocrisy that began bubbling on the surface – like the fires of Centralia – when Obama was first elected.

These simmering feelings turned acceptable when your president (not mine) fanned those flames with birther movement and then successfully ran for president by pushing those same buttons with the large print at rallies that would have made El Duce blush.

Brown’s performance that night – using the verbatim rants of your president (not mine) in Obama’s voice — ranged from the sexist Access Hollywood tapes that seemed to get lost in the shuffle in the election run-up to a multitude of other obnoxious remarks (i.e. about John McCan not being a war hero because he was captured and referring to Frederick Douglass as if her were still alive) that were not  befitting of a president in any civilized time and place.

Perhaps Maher was shortsighted, like many of us “snowflakes” on the left, thinking your president (not mine) would somehow grow into the position and stop uttering such immature nonsense.

After all — wink, wink – there are “good people on both sides.”

Instead, there has been serious shrinkage.

A whole lot of it.

And Brown (check him out on YouTube), as a regular – or semi-regular – would have be able to illuminate this overriding serious issue, whether it be as simple as who plays golf more to who really acts like a dictator with executive orders.

Consider it a lost opportunity, but it can be placed in the gone-but-not-forgotten file.

We still see it every day, this ongoing case of America in black and white – not to mention the tan suit Obama was vilified for wearing while your president (not mine) drags toilet paper on his shoe up the stairway to Air Force One.

We saw it when Michelle Obama was taken to task for “telling our kids what to eat” in her official First Lady cause of battling childhood obesity. Meanwhile, the current wife of your president (not mine) preaches anti-bullying while her own husband preaches from a divisive bully pulpit eight days a week.

I often look at that picture of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem and take inventory of the viewpoints it reveals. To some, he was disrespecting the flag our forefathers died to protect. While I’m not quite sure they gave their lives to protect a piece of cloth as much as the other working class kid next to them in the foxhole, I can get it to the point that I could never personally kneel.

But I can respect that others see it as a form of peaceful protest of some serious issues – serious issues of  an America locked in a cultural tug of war over double standards.

Kaepernick

I have always said that once you have double standards, you have none. I’m sure someone said it first, and more eloquently, but I’m claiming credit for now.

I know, I know … We have bigger fish to fry right now, trying to survive an historic pandemic, than who said what first about hypocrisy.

But this disparity – this sickening Color War – rages on.

And on.

Citizens, largely Caucasian, are storming the Bastille, demanding their little lives return back to normal way before it is safe to do so.

These protestors are stomping their feet, and toting their AK-47s (not sure how that factors into their “argument,” but I suppose anything goes when it’s not founded in logic anyway), all around the country.

But Ground Zero seems to be Lansing, Michigan. That just so happens to be where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sets up shop.

Whitmer was considered a leading candidate for the bottom half of Joe Biden’s presidential ticket, but her brand has been sufficiently damaged to the point that she is now on the “B” list just for doing the prudent thing and trying to keep all her constituents, even those who would shoot her on sight, safe.

Hard to believe the ying-yangs protesting are smart enough to know they were being exploited by some sort of nefarious effort to have a VP candidate tip the scales in a vital swing state.

But it is easy to believe that if the protesters were people of color – African-American, Hispanic, Arab, Asian, etc. – that the same double standards between Obama and the current fool’s fool who calls himself your president (not mine) bubble to the surface.

We are talking about people – you know, our friends from the White Right – waving a flag of treachery (Confederate) that shed American blood in its quest get buzzcuts again.

Protest Flag

We are talking about people getting so much into the faces of police, the same police that took on a new level of rightful respect after 9/11, that their spit is probably going to their faces on their clothes.

Those who are actually carrying American flags, either with or instead of enemy flags, are seen routinely letting them drop to the ground (but Kaepernick can’t a knee in their eyes).

But, well, it’s the First Amendment when they do it, right?

They get a wink and a nod from your president (not mine), just like the “good people” from that side who invaded Charlottesville like termites.

Meanwhile, as Covid-19 is infecting people of color, there are no plaudits from on high for their suffering in silence.

People wonder why the United States is suddenly ranking first in the world in cases and scratch their heads.

Why?

Really?

Easier answer: We are anything but united. And we have a leader who does lead, as he thrives in the vast divide.

That is why.

This is us in the U.S.

And The picture — people who don’t want to be tread upon asking to be tread upon — is not a pretty one.

Image: US-HEALTH-VIRUS-PROTEST

Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police after the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty protest for the reopening of businesses on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on April 30, 2020.

 

 

 

 

Upon Further Review: Gun Control

Ding Dong

The recent shooting in Nova Scotia will likely get the gun nuts all excited, saying it can happen anywhere. Yeah, it can. We know that. What’s the point of your point, though? I shouldn’t happen anywhere, with here topping the list.

Below is a column written in March, 2013. It still hold trust…

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Left of center. That means a lot of things to a lot of people, and not all of them good, but it is also the title of a semi-popular Suzanne Vega song.

It actually came on the CD player while driving Sofia to school Thursday morning, and it caught her increasingly discerning ear, as evidenced by her bobbing her little head and singing along in the backseat.

I was able to enjoy that she and I were on the same musical wavelength because, in a true rarity, we were running ahead of schedule.

Through the rear-view mirrors, I could check her out at stop signs and red lights. While we were waiting behind school buses with their lights flashing and stop signs popping out to temporarily halt traffic, it struck me how these road safety features are, more or less, anti-people devices.

It is human nature, regrettably, that many read a stop sign and interpret it as ‘yield’ while a ‘yield’ sign means ‘keep going.’

That’s why Sofia was in a child safety seat as we rocked and rolled down the road. That’s why I had my seat belt on. That’s why, if the worst happened, the vehicle is equipped with an airbag.

None of these safeguards existed back when the ‘motor vehicle’ first hit the road. They evolved over time, meeting the needs of the society.

These measures can’t be enforced all the time, and they don’t prevent every death or serious injury, but most of us would agree that they help.

It’s why we get our cars inspected once a year. It’s why we change our brakes and our bald tires.

It’s why there is a speed limit. It’s why laws are now in place, or in motion, to crack down on distracted drivers more interested in texting and yammering on their cell phones than being safe drivers.

It’s why they make cars with all-wheel drive and turn signals and high beams.

Realistically, people are still going to speed. They are still going to fall prey to temporary ADD while behind the wheel.

They are going to drink and drive. As long as there are bars and cars, you can bet your recession-depleted bottom dollar than some fool is going to tempt fate and think they have immunity.

To combat it, there are stricter rules for DUI. And there are DUI checkpoints.

As a system of checks and balances, we don’t give up on trying, even though people are still going to act like, well, people.

Yet, when it comes to gun control, the pro-gun types out there are sticking to their guns more than ever in the wake of renewed efforts to deploy the same common sense we have on the road.

Since Newtown, driving Sofia to and from school has been an almost religious experience, as I can’t shake the vision of the parents who said goodbye to their first graders that fateful day and never saw them again.

I have spoken out about gun control, and I’m still doing it because I refuse to consider it old news, and have gotten back a lot of venom.

Personally, I see no real need for guns and don’t get the fascination. In the few hundred years since the Second Amendment, cars have become a little more essential to day-to-day living than a gun.

But these instruments that should be in the hands of the military and law enforcement are ingrained in our culture.

I can respect that law-abiding citizens do the right thing, although I am compelled to point out the ‘tragic accidents’ that occur in homes and on hunting trips each year.

I am, like the Suzanne Vega song, left of center on the issue.

The operative word is “control.”

I never said ‘take away.’ Neither has President Barack Obama.

But people – being people – hear what they want to hear and read what they want to read.

At left of center, there is more fresh air; more realism.

Just like you can’t go around rounding up illegal immigrants and transporting them home, like many pro-gun types would like to do, you can’t go door to door and collect weapons.

But you can start to stop the madness.

If not now, when? The arguments against doing so simply don’t hold up.

‘Guns don’t kill, people do.’ ‘People die in cars each year, and you don’t ban them, do ya?’

The common denominator is ‘people.’

For the car argument, we have the rules of the road, enforced by your local and state police – a necessary arm of the g-g-g-g-overnment – to protect and save as many lives in the face of people being people.

And since people are people, and they are prone to temper tantrums and temporary insanity, we need better gun control as much as we need salt on the roads when it snows.

And if you want to take the defeatist stance, saying that it won’t matter anyway, let’s do away with all those traffic laws.

Let people be people, and drive 100 mph through a school zone. Let them blow through a red light at a busy intersection because they feel like it.

Just exercising their freedom, their liberty, right?

Wrong. I know it is human nature to want it all.

If the statement ‘you can’t have it both ways’ was made the 11th commandment, I’d be OK with hanging it up with the other 10 in public.

Cease resisting the president so much on his left-of-center effort to make the highway of life, circa 2013, a little safer.

Close the gun-show loopholes. Same as applying for a driver’s license.

Ban semi-automatic weapons. Same as not driving while intoxicated.

Immediate results? No. It may take a generation – when my daughter is driving my grandchild to school, in even safer vehicles than today – for tangible change, but it is worth the effort.

People are people, true No matter where we stand – or fall – on this thorny issue, whether we are left of center or far right, we share one commonality.

We only live once. If that’s not worth one step toward the middle, then what is?

Contradictory

 

News Turns To A Snooze

joe-scarborough-trump-journey-groupie-resistance

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — As I attempt to age as gracefully as possible for an otherwise graceless person, I have increasingly become a creature of habit.

One of those habits to turn on the TV every morning – sometime after the weekday alarms screeches at 6:30 — to watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. I don’t even really like the show, or the hosts and regulars (other than brilliant Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson), but I watch anyway.

Much to my disgust, Joe and the crew tend to belabor two issues ad nauseam: The Democratic race for the nomination and the ongoing ineptitude of your president (not mine).

The psychobabble seems like a colossal waste of breath, considering the primary season is in its infancy and your president (not mine) is never ever going to be impeached.

If I hear the words “Mayor Pete,” followed by a long and drawn out discussion by a panel of “experts” about his electability – all while they skirt the obvious issue, unfair or not – I may hurl the remote at Joe Scarborough’s smug mug.

Why, then, do they spend so much time cherry-picking a poll that shows Bernie Sanders up a point and Elizabeth Warren down two – all while doing a poor job of suppressing a clear pro-Joe Biden agenda – or giving too much attention to some late-night Twitter post that would make a middle school grammar teacher wince in pain?

Easy answer. It’s easy. It’s right there, with low hurdles to scale.

Better than anything else on, all things considered, but far from good enough.

The thing is, I’m a news junkie. It’s why I majored in journalism (along with not having to take many math or science classes).

I’m naturally curious, and some would say I’m really just a total gossip. I plead partially guilty, but with an explanation. I’m really just in search of information – even if I’ll do little to nothing with it, like a fisherman tossing his catch back into the water, once I reel it in.

Which brings us back to the facts, or lack thereof.

These days, the whole earth can shake itself out of existence while I’m sleeping. Excuse me if I like to know what happened overnight.

CNN? No better than MSNBC (especially at night). It tries to get both sides of the story so perfunctorily that neither side is satisfied. I know I don’t want to hear another discussion on climate change as if it is open for debate, especially as it ignites forest fires in Australia and California with the verve of a serial arsonist.

The few remaining friends I have on the right don’t want any human interest story, like the border camps, told with any bit of sensitivity.

And don’t even mention Fox News. I’m OK with trying to stomach a little bit of the opposing viewpoint before wanting to vomit, but independent fact checkers have issued reports on the network’s accuracy that make the ones I used to bring home look like those of a Rhodes Scholar.

The sad truth is that I can find out more about what it is really going on with the local news from 6-6:30, followed by the national news from 6:30-7, than all day on any supposedly superior all-news network.

Newspapers have morphed into digital entities, but a second mortgage is needed to get around the pay walls needed to get what you need.

That leaves fly-by-night sights that may or not follow the ye olde rules of actually putting people on the record, as opposed to being anonymous, and having at least two sources.

All the conjecture leaves us, in this advanced day and age, prone to be less informed than we’ve been in the industrial age.

The only option is television, and the flaws are obvious.

Yes, the wall-to-wall coverage of our recent near flirtation with igniting World War III was relatively well-done, but so much more has been going on – locally, nationally and internationally – that much of it falls through the cracks.

And it happens at our own peril.

The more the masses are numbed up with dumbed-down messaging, the easier it is to go on electing sociopaths with the hellish belief they are heaven sent.

While we were looking at polls that really don’t matter until a week or two before voters in Iowa leave the wheat fields and reading too much into unreadable tweets, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning for a frightening tomorrow.

Example: Did you know that, since late December, more than 500 earthquakes have hit Puerto Rico. That’s the same Puerto Rico still waiting on $18 billion in aid from hurricane damage incurred two years ago?

Did you know that, just on New Year’s Day, there were 45 non-suicide gun violence deaths across America? Including suicides by gun, there were 177 deaths.

Speaking of suicides, did you know that there were 228 suicides by police officers in 2019 in what has become a silent epidemic?

Veterans? Try a suicide rate of 17 per day.

Did you know that Philadelphia had 356 homicides last year, just nine short of one per day? You can say you are safe here in the suburbs, but this is the city you border and crime knows no boundaries.

Did you know that hate crimes have increased dramatically since a certain someone who calls himself your president began campaigning in 2015 with divisive rhetoric?

I shouldn’t just dwell on the negative, as there are positive stories every day – from simple acts of human kindness to medical advances to big bad athletes going out of their way for a sick child — that get buried under the if-it-bleeds-it-leads approach that goes a notch underneath the analysis of paralysis of politics and of an orange nitwit that the lack of real journalism left us with.

Rant over.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 12, 2020

A Right Turn Down A Wrong Road

Rally Heads

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s that time of the year again.

Time for New Year’s resolutions.

With five-plus decades on the planet, I have been through them all – losing weight, gaining muscle, not losing my mind (as much) during Eagles games, gaining perspective, etc.

This year, I’m shooting for something a little bit different.

Instead, I’m going to see how the other half lives. I’m going to give it a go as a conservative.

No worries, fellow liberals, I’ll be back in time to vote against their president (not ours) in November.

New Year’s resolutions only last as long as the first whiff of a real Philly cheese steak (not what is passed off as such out here in the suburbs).

But, in the intervening months – or weeks, days or minutes – let’s see how it goes.

It is certainly a simpler lifestyle having this view, one where I can just line up all the talking points in a row and dutifully march in line behind them.

Example: Anything nasty their president (not ours) has done up until this point, before becoming president and since, can easily be explained away.

He was chosen by God.

Who can argue with that, right?

It implies he is not only absolved of all sins – past, present and future – but that all decisions are blessed by the almighty.

Sure, there is no tangible evidence to back this up. Usually, people who claim to be messengers from God are tossed into asylums, not the Oval Office.

And if any lefty wants to get into details about what he has done wrong, the new me can just say it’s all fake news and/or a witch hunt that’s all orchestrated by the same mainstream media that helped invent his campaign in the first place.

What about all the mounting evidence of incompetence, and incoherence, let alone evidence for impeachment?

No worries.

Deflect and distract.

Fight any forms of nuanced thinking.

That’s their job, not mine.

Don’t tread on me? Hell yeah, I’ll even buy that flag and plant it in my turf.

I’m the true patriot here.

Show empathy toward others, I’ll promptly call you a snowflake (while crawling toward my own safe space for being called a “deplorable” or if you recently wished me “happy holidays” instead of a “Merry Christmas”).

If they persist with their elitist check mates, I’ll lob a “What about Obama?” hand grenade.

When they ask for specifics, I’ll just double down and say “all of them.”

And then, when all else fails, there is the old standby: Benghazi, with a side dish of Benghazi and a desert of even more Benghazi.

Top it off with a “lock her up.”

See how easy this is?

See how much fun?

The next mass shooting? I’ll just shrug it off, callously, and say it could not have been stopped – even if there is evidence that it easily could have been with a routine background check, or waiting period, on the assailant.

Greta Thunberg? Ha. Too small to make a difference. Plus, isn’t she autistic or something like that there?

Plus, she’s Swedish, not American.

Plus, there is the old standby of waiting on a deep freeze and cracking wise about Al Gore (even though a cold snap in our little corner of the world is not reflective of all that is happening elsewhere).

Knowing that everybody plays the fool – sometimes – I can just say all the science isn’t in, or go to the slight moderation that there is no proof that the scourge is man-made. After all, there is always a crackpot contrarian at some third-rate unaccredited college still saying that the earth is flat or that there is not proof that tobacco causes lung cancer, right?

If those dogs won’t hunt, I’ll channel the mind of the average conservative who knows, full-well, that climate change is real.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” I’ll say. “By the time the planet is unlivable, I won’t know the difference because I’ll be dead.”

And that’s it, right there, in a nutshell.

I could go into being pro-life while being fine putting babies in cages.

I can just say they are “illegal” (when they are the children of parents seeking asylum in a country where the path to citizenship for brown people is vastly different than it was for white people during the industrial revolution).

Beginning in 2020, for as long as I can take it, I am going to be the synonym of being conservative, despite Bible quotes to the contrary.

I’m going to be selfish.

If all is good for me in my stock portfolio, all is good in the ivory tower.

Can I pull it off?

No, sigh, I can’t.

Upon further review, forget it.

As easy as life would be to trade being kind and sensitive for being blissful and blind, I don’t want to live that way for even a millisecond.

I’m good the way I am.

Happy 2020.

This column ran in The Time Herald on Jan. 1, 2020

Eighteen Years Gone: Here We Are

Sepy 11

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I always resented what seemed like immediate parlor games of everyone sharing – usually on social threads – their boring yarns about how they were in the middle of this, that or the other thing when they heard about what was the worst attack on American soil.

Doing so 2-3 years after Sept. 11, 2001 — especially when the act led to a disingenuous rationale for a war in Iraq that quickly revealed itself as coming from Page 1 of the Vietnam playbook made these personal remembrances seem trivial.

I had what I thought was a more pertinent question: Where are you now?

But some time has since elapsed, and maybe it’s time to flip the script.

This past week, we commemorated 18 years since 9/11.

And Sofia is old enough – and intrigued by events that occurred more than five minutes ago – to share our own experiences, just like my father did with me about the JFK assassination (Oswald didn’t act alone, if at all, but that’s another column for another day) and the Japanese army (they acted alone) bombing Pearl Harbor.

I don’t know what makes me the final arbiter of when it is time to suddenly change lanes on the discussion. I just felt like it was too soon before and not so much now.

Where was I that day? I was just getting out of the shower in the Center City apartment I shared with my future wife (then fiancé). She worked in Wilmington at the time, and called with the news of a plane striking one of the twin towers. I had the TV on, but was pre-conditioned not to get too involved with the trivialities of Good Morning America, when it was clear something else was going on.

First reaction? It was terrorism, clearly, but it could be passed off as some sort of accident from air traffic control to avoid public panic (just like blaming the JFK assassination on a lone nut). But, after the second plane hit, which I watched as it happened, it was clear was going on. The whole nation could be under attack.

As the crime-beat reporter for The Times Herald, I drove into work that day while many others were scrambling to make it home from their jobs.

For all I knew, the nation could have been under total assault and this was only the start of it. But, like many Americans, I defined myself by my job back in those pre-Sofia years.

I was told by the editor at the time that I was a free agent, meaning stops at police stations to comb through blotter were out. The rest of it is a blur. I believe I had four or five bylines in the Sept. 12 edition, although I only recall two – from a bomb scare called into the Plymouth Township Community Center and from talking to congregants who came to pray at one of the historically black churches in Norristown.

I remember the sense of unity between a lot of scared people of all walks of life. While I was not a fan of the president who I thought stole the election, I felt he then had the nation in the palm of his hand.

Who knew how much he would blow it?

Eighteen years later, we are more divided than ever.

A new psychology emerged – a sort of acceptable narcissism — wherein we were inundated with a spate of reality television.

And the ultimate sociopath, who seemed to find a resting spot on reality TV after failing as a mogul, was elected as president.

The real patriotism we all felt in the aftermath of Sept. 11 has been subverted and perverted into a game of who is more patriotic than who, based on superficialities.

Mass shootings are now so commonplace that we aren’t even phased by them anymore.

Children drink water with lead in it, and we shrug it off.

Eighteen years later, that’s where we are.

Maybe that’s why it suddenly seems better to remember where we were, and get back to that place of temporary unity amid fear and chaos.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Sept.  15, 2019.

No Retreat, No Surrender

GunArt2

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – So now your president (not mine) is willing to do something about gun control?

He’ll knock on Mitch McConnell’s turtle shell, see if he pokes that obtuse face out, and will let us know.

Then, maybe if they get a permission slip from the NRA, they’ll consider some background check language to file under “Red Flag” legislation.

While it’s a start, and you can never run down a start, I think we all know it’s not going to be sufficient.

And I think we all know that the next mass shooting after these laws go into effect will meet with a lot of “I told you so” remarks and smirks from the right.

The reality is that so much more would need to happen before the passage of time – five years, 10 years, etc. – shows a marked decrease in gun violence (mass shootings, street shootings, accidental shootings and suicides).

There are many facets to gun violence. It’s not a single-cause crisis, and there is no one magic-wand approach to making it vanish.

It’s a syndrome, with multiple causes.

And solutions.

We would be spraying Raid everywhere, except the hornet’s nest, without addressing the type of assault weapons used in Parkland, Vegas, Orlando, El Paso, Sandy Hook and so many other tragedies.

There was once a ban on these tools of destruction, and gun massacres (six or more deaths) dropped 43 percent. After it lapsed in 2004, under the George W. Bush administration, there has been a staggering 183 percent increase.

They like to say that the key to prevention is to turn every outpost in the country – from elementary schools to beauty schools, from supermarkets to dollar stores, from Little League fields to houses of worship – into armed fortresses.

Not that simple.

“I didn’t do anything because I thought police would think I was the shooter,” said an armed witness to the El Paso massacre.

Still, despite rather hollow willingness and passing-the-buck drills, we need to start someplace.

Those who are quick wrap body armor around the sugar daddy that is the gun lobby don’t want to go there, but any willingness to go somewhere that leads us out of nowhere is promising.

At least we are seemingly working past the “too soon to talk about (gun control)” and hollow “thoughts and prayers” mumbo jumbo.

Most of the country, as has been the case for a while, remains in favor of background checks. Democrats more than Republicans, but not by as much of a margin as you would think.

And there was this, in the wake of the recent shootings, from your president (not mine).

“Mental illness and hatred pulled the trigger. Not the gun.”

Actually, hatred did pull the trigger of the El Paso shooter, who was bent on shooting Mexicans after leaving behind a manifesto that was dipped in the DNA of the rhetoric of your president (not mine).

Your president (not mine) was not a welcomed guest in El Paso, and it showed when all eight hospitalized victims refused to meet with him.

He won’t own that, but he seems willing to move – after which he will likely shove it in the face of his 2020 presidential opponent.

It might be worth the tradeoff.

What are being called “Red Flag” laws could just be a trap serving as sort of a political flypaper. It should, by no means, lead to waving the white flag on legislation – the type that would have to come after a powerful left hook in 2020 – really needed for substantive change.

Taking ancillary causes (mental health, video games, Hollywood, etc.) and making them the core issue could be as dangerous, long-term, as doing nothing.

There are people called epidemiologists who are experts in studying, well, the science of epidemics in all forms based on statistics.

And that’s where we have been for far too long with gun violence.

How do you explain, for example, that women also have mental illness but 98 percent of those pulling the trigger in gun violence are men?

There are varied definitions of who is or isn’t mentally ill, although it is generally accepted that as much as five percent of the population have a condition that would require a psychiatrist (as opposed to a psychologist, counselor or member of the clergy).

Research shows that only 43 percent get help, and it is also noteworthy than an estimated 60 percent of American counties do not even have a psychiatrist.

The epidemiologists point out that people with mental conditions are, in fact, 3.6 percent more likely to exhibit some sort of violent behavior but are 23 times more likely to be victims of violence.

The FBI did a study in 2018, and it pointed more toward factors beyond being insane.

This is more about those who go temporarily insane, as the study pointed to financial stress and disputes/bullying at school and/or the workplace with co-workers. Substance abuse was also cited.

What happens when someone is infuriated?

They might go home and punch a wall. They might get their drink on at the local tavern. They might go the gym and pump a battleship’s worth of iron.

But, in the land of the gun, there are other realities.

Even though our mental health issues are not different than that seen in other countries, the difference is access to guns.

We have 400 million civilian-owned firearms, which breaks down to 120.5 per 100 residents (i.e. more than one per person).

That puts us first, with lovely Yemen (just under 53 percent per 100) a distant second.

This is what we call a real red flag.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Aug. 18, 2019.

Playing ‘Taps’ for a New Generation

AAguns

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Another Memorial Day has come and gone.

Some used the long weekend to invite skin cancer at the beach, attend picnics or parties to celebrate the unofficial start of summer, and/or shop for bargains at stores being priced out of existence by online retailers.

In between, there was the normal pomp and circumstance – heightened this year on the 75th anniversary of Normandy — to honor those who died in service to our country.

Still, the sound of “Taps,” which used to give us goose bumps, is background noise to too many.

As much as that seems unfair, there is a stark recent statistic, and it tells us that we need to create a second day to remember those who have fallen on a different type of battlefield – the streets, schoolyards, and schools on the home front.

Despite an 11-year head start, more children have died since the horror of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. than all U.S. soldiers lost in combat overseas since 9/11.

According to a report from the Department of Defense, the military operations since 9/11 have left 6,929 soldiers dead (6,950, counting Department of Defense civilians).

Since the death of 20 first-graders – and six adults – at Sandy Hook, the number of children killed by guns has crossed the 7,000 mark.

And still counting.

While there was some fleeting 24-hours news cycle attention paid to a workplace shooting that left a dozen dead in Virginia Beach, the subsequent weekend saw another bloodbath on the streets of Chicago.

And I can hear it now.

“There goes Gordon again,” you say, with a snort. “That ‘Snowflake’ just loves to write about gun control.”

Actually, I hate it.

With a passion.

The day I don’t have to write about it anymore – and can replace with a list of my favorite songs by Three Dog Night or lessons learned from watching “Seinfeld” — will be cause for a Memorial Day beach barbecue.

What can we do to get on top of this magical place?

It’s so simple that, in fact, maybe we have been missing it all along. Maybe, no matter which side of the issue we are on, we just need to be realistic and keep open minds.

If you are in favor of some extreme form of gun control – like going door to door and collecting them – it’s just not going to happen.

It’s sounds nice, but so does kissing a frog who turns into a prince.

If you are one of those who don’t want the laws touched at all – based on some major misinterpretation of the Second Amendment or, more than likely, “just because” – you are setting yourself up for disappointment as well.

It can’t – and won’t – go on the way it is.

The ebb and flow of the political tide simply won’t let it.

At some point, whether it’s all in 2020 or in two-year increments beyond, mindsets are going to turn more toward change on the issue, if only because people have a “change” fetish.

It’s the only way to explain how someone who says they would have voted for Bernie Sanders for president went for the polar opposite, in terms of political viewpoint, by voting for your president (not mine).

It’s the only way to explain the historic vote of 2018 that put so many women, from so many different backgrounds and viewpoints, in Congress.

And it’s what put these same children – your kids, who wake up each day and go to school with at least passing thoughts that they may not make it home – on the streets in protest after a massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla. to demand change.

National firearm- and nonfirearm-related homicides by youths_0

Like it or not, here they come.

These are your next generation of voters, and they have this issue at, or the near the top, of their “change” list.

What they push for, and may get, could be more than any of us bargained for – including someone like myself, who isn’t looking for some radical attempt at change that it will leave people who want to defend their homes unarmed.

It will, pardon the pun, backfire on all of us.

So, maybe the so-called adults in the room need to have an adult conversation about it.

If I were someone who considers myself a responsible gun owner, I would not be angry with those who are seeking gun control. Once my knee de-jerks itself, my angst would be directed toward those who abuse the privilege of responsible gun ownership, which is one of the main untapped sources of ongoing problems with gun deaths — whether through accidental shootings, suicides, domestic disputes, hunting accidents, etc.

There was a time in this country when cars were on the streets without much policing. Eventually, there became a need for traffic laws – stop signs, red lights, speed limits, etc. – to mitigate the damage of an increasing number of cars, built to go faster, on the road.

These laws, which continue to be put in place to this day – while car manufacturers, foreign and domestic, strive to outdo one another with safety features – are there to save every life possible.

People still die in car crashes, yes, but the sheer number of lives saved with seat belts and airbags and DUI checkpoints is unknown.

Stricter gun control laws won’t stop every tragedy, either.

But it would be a step in the right direction.

And that’s a whole lot better than shrugging it off, saying that we are apples and oranges from other countries (Australia, Japan, etc.) who have succeeded in stemming the tide of gun violence.

And it’s a whole lot better than having a second Memorial Day to play “Taps” to remember children who have been gunned down on domestic battlefields.

This column initially appeared in The Times Herald on June 9, 2019.

Peace with a piece

The Worth of Words

Words Matter

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — A lot has happened in the wake of the mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

That nation’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – yes, one of 25 elected female leaders around the world — said “our gun laws will change.”

“Our” means “theirs,” not “ours.”

Despite way more mass shootings – defined as four casualties (fatalities or injuries) – our leaders mislead us toward generic thoughts and prayers and said it’s “too soon” to talk about gun control.

Then they wait us out, until emotions are quelled and they can double down on an arcane interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, New Zealand – which already has strong gun laws in place — used one incident, with 51 fatalities, to vow to do more about gun control than we have with all those thoughts and prayers put together.

The Australian mass murderer, a sworn white nationalist so devoid of remorse that he flashed a white power symbol through shackled paws, had a manifesto praising – among others – your president (not mine).

That is not insignificant.

And it is not new.

In 2017, in Quebec City, Alexander Bissonette killed six in a mosque in Quebec City. The follow-up investigation revealed a fascination with your president (not mine).

When they say the POTUS – no matter who is in the chair — takes on the role of leader of the free world, this is why.

It is an awesome responsibility, and words matter more than, say, the leader of Uzbekistan or Albania.

Your president (not mine) insists upon all the absolute power that he thinks comes with the position, but none of the responsibility riding shotgun with words mattering to the point that it can be a matter of life and death.

And not just in New Jersey or New Mexico, but in New Zealand or Newfoundland.

Whether it is inciting violence abroad or at home – or issuing thinly veiled threats about who will be on his side in an armed domestic struggle — it is conduct unworthy of the office to act like a drunkard on a bar stool looking for a fight before last call.

Take it from someone who watches “The Sopranos” on a continual loop. Tony Soprano has 10 times more tact as a mob boss than your president (not mine) as King Pompous on his throne.

Scoff if you must, but consider the response when asked to comment on the tragedy – in a country that he probably couldn’t find on a map — your president (not mine) sent in the punt team and flew by the seat of his hindquarters.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess,” he said.

Other than that, this response was … very, very … huh … pathetic.

Not to mention hypocritical.

How so?

This is the same misleader of the free world who raises the vigilance level against all Muslims when statistics not only show a small percentage (roughly 6-8 percent, depending on the source) are radicalized to some extent.

And nothing legitimizes it better than when he fans the flames, making himself the radical Muslims best recruiting tool.

Think about the “logic” your president (not mine) uses for his babyish insistence on building a wall at the Mexican border and for putting separating children from the parents and putting them in cages.

He says it is all about crime, but undocumented workers commit crimes at a much lower rate than current citizens (56 percent fewer criminal convictions, according a study published in the Washington Post).

He cites drugs, when the vast amount of drugs come in from ports of entry (i.e., 25 kilos seized the other day at Port of Philadelphia).

For these pet projects/peeves, he twists stats for his own use when preaching to his unknowing choir.

When it comes to backing a car into a crowd of counter protesters on the streets of Charlottesville, shooting worshipers inside a black church in South Carolina or a synagogue in Pittsburgh — or mosques around the world — it is all conveniently dismissed as random.

car_attack_photograph

Since his followers like his plain and simple talk, let’s keep in that tongue.

Plain and simple: We have a white man in the White House who, by Making America White Again, made some with “serious problems” feel empowered enough to act out.

Your president (not mine) may not want to own it – he rarely does – but the deed is in his name.

The FBI reported last year that hate crimes rose for the third straight year, with white nationalists leading the way.

All the while he referred to himself as a “nationalist.”

Say what?

In a job with enormous consequences, one where words matter, it is just another glaring example of poor usage of language that will inevitably have consequences down the line.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald  on March 25, 2019.

Meet Me In The Town Square

Ex presidents

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Got something to say?

I’m not a hard guy to find.

I’ll be in the town square.

That’s where people gather, maybe have some coffee (decaf for me, lest a migraine will make my head erupt like Mount St. Helens), and respectively share opinions without fear of being blacklisted (or blocked on Facebook) for eternity.

They – whoever “they” are — say don’t discuss religion or politics. I ask why not?

So when a reader wanted to know why I refer to the current person who calls himself your president (not mine) as “your president (not mine),” I took the opportunity to engage.

I’m sure his question is one many of you are also asking, so I’ll lay it on the line.

Your president (not mine) has, to put it metaphorically, put tears in the eyes of the Statue of Liberty.

You just don’t make that lady cry and get away with it, period.

Obviously, beyond that, we need context.

The reader wanted to know which other presidents in my lifetime I did not consider to be “my president,” and my answer was “until now, none.”

I was born in 1965, so the list isn’t long.

It consists of Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Although he ramped up Vietnam for reasons that still are not clear, LBJ carried the ball across the goal line on vital Civil Rights legislation (even though those goal posts now continue to be moved).

Nixon disgraced the White House, perhaps beyond repair, but I remember my mother crying in front of the television the night he resigned saying he was a good friend to Israel (and, despite being virulently anti-Semitic behind closed doors, it’s true). Nixon also created the same EPA that your president (not mine) is trying to put on life support.

Ford? Eh. Everyone was wise to the game when he pardoned Nixon. He paid for it when he lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Carter? Eh. He was a bit spineless, but he did create a tepid peace between Israel and Egypt and is cool in the role of ex-president.

Reagan? I find the idol worship of his long shadow especially ironic, as he was not as far to the right as conservatives make it seem when genuflecting at his altar. At the end of the day, though, I see him for what he was – a “B” actor playing a part for writers, producers and directors behind the scenes who are more worthy of my wrath.

George H.W. Bush? He was Reagan’s VP, meaning it was four years of the same trickle-down nonsense.

This is when I was becoming politically aware, and legal to vote (thanks to Nixon lowering the voting age), but my votes against Reagan and Bush didn’t mean it even crossed my mind to not consider either my presidents.

They were just presidents I didn’t like, not ones who belittled the FBI or threw hissy fits if made fun of Saturday Night Live.

Clinton, despite his dalliance with an intern (pales in comparison to affair with porn stars), brought enough peace and prosperity that I would rank him first in my lifetime.

For the same reasons I don’t do caffeine, I don’t do alcohol. If I did, George W. Bush might be the ex-president I would tilt a few with until last call. He could tell me about his drawings, and I could tell him about my songs. And I’m sure we could talk a lot of sports.

The reality, though, is that I made my bones as a political columnist being pretty hard on W. The way he squandered a chance to unite the country, instead dividing it with a war of folly in Iraq, is something we are still dealing with today.

With Obama, I saw that the antipathy toward him was skin deep, and that made me a watchdog on instinct.

Obama brought class, grace and eloquence (especially on the topic of gun control) to the White House.

But he was probably too decent of a guy. He made a fatal mistake by trying work across the aisle, when he technically didn’t need to, in his first two years. After the 2010 midterms, when legislative balance of power changed, forget it. He couldn’t get much done with a well-meaning social agenda.

International affairs? Other than supporting the rest of the world on climate change, not high marks.

However, it was he – not your president (not mine) — who turned the economy around (after W. left it in shambles) and also brought about a baby step in the ongoing healthcare mess.

Going from that to waking up to daily Twitter rants (with babyish ALL CAPS and cringe-worthy grammar errors) is a daily pill too bitter to put down.

Bottom line, not only does your president (not mine) fail to represent my core liberal values, but he seeks to stomp all over the whole nation’s core values – calling the press the “enemy of the people,” and wanting to squash other forms of free speech guaranteed to all under the First Amendment.

And, to be technical, it looks increasingly likely your president (not mine) was not legally elected anyway, as there is mounting evidence of outside interference of a hostile foreign government aiding his barely legal election (by way of the arcane electoral college).

Although this reader and I clearly disagree – he dropped the Kenya bomb, which I let slide – I invited him to engage again.

Same goes for the rest of you.

I won’t be hard to find.

I’ll be in the town square.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Feb. 24.

For Those About To Rock

Gun Control

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Welcome all to the return of the infamous “What Is and What Should Never Be” format.

For those who don’t know, or who may have forgotten (shame on you), it is named for the Led Zeppelin song and rolls through several current events and issue (What Is) followed by the opinion (And What Should Never Be).

Ready? Go …

What Is: Rep. Ihan Omar (D-Minn.) shook up the Beltway when she suggested – via Twitter, the way we govern these days — that US support for Israel is the direct result of the lobby group AIPAC.

And What Should Never Be: Random slaps on the wrist without deeper all-around understanding. Omar, one of two nationally elected Muslim women, met with swift rebukes from both sides of the aisle – up to and including the nation’s most powerful person, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.Cal.), and your president (not mine), who said (anti-Semitism) “has no place in the US Congress.”

You know what? Even a broken clock is right twice a day (even though detractors of Barack Obama would never admit that). Your president (not mine) is right. Prejudice, if that’s even what it is, has no place in the U.S. Congress.

Then again, it also had no place in Charlottesville and his non-reaction reaction to that American tragedy still dwarfs any prepared statement now.

Omar is actually not wrong, either. IAPAC – like the NRA, Big Pharma and many others – is a powerful lobby, but the root cause here is that the birth of Israel was the net result of the horrors of the Holocaust. Jews and Gentiles (particularly evangelicals) who support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state (there are plenty of Muslim-only and Christian-only states, too) are willing to write checks to help keep it that way.

Omar should not answer calls to resign or step down from any committees, but she needs to follow up with what she said she would do in her apology, which is to live in the real world and rid herself of tunnel vision.

What Is: “Bruce On Broadway” has been available on Netflix since mid-December.

What Should Never Be: Giving up on something too soon.

Despite being a longtime Springsteen fan, I had a hard time getting into its much-anticipated showing for those of us who couldn’t afford the $700-plus ticket price (not to mention the train fare to New York).

His stories behind the songs, at least early on in the show, were either too similar to those I’ve already heard in past concerts (been to 33 of them) or almost verbatim from his recent autobiography.

Even though my better half gave up on it, I plodded on – first at a pace of about 15 minutes at a time, and then straight through. I’m thrilled I made the commitment.

Right on cue, I was reduced to those kind of tears that only Bruce can make stream down my face by the time the credits rolled.

What Is: Former NASA astronaut (and Navy pilot and engineer) Mark Kelly has accepted his next mission, which will be to attempt to become a US Senator in Arizona.

And What Should Never Be: The status quo. This astronaut/politician pedigree is nothing new to politics (i.e. John Glenn), but Kelly – if he wins the Democratic primary (likely against Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Iraq War veteran) – would bring a marquee name from the Democratic ticket, put his state in play as a vital swing state in 2020 and beyond (this is the seat vacated by the death of longtime Republican John McCain and currently held by the vulnerable former Rep. Martha McSally).

The 54-year-old Kelly, if you recall, is the husband of former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, the survivor of a high-profile 2011 mass shooting.

Since that time, the couple has become strong advocates for gun control legislation.

What Is: Speaking of the need for gun control legislation, there was a recent double shooting that hit close to home – well, sort of – at my former hangout of the Roosevelt Mall in Northeast Philadelphia.

And What Should Never Be: Shrugging it off because it was my former teen hangout in the 1980s, and not yours.

Twentysomething shots were thrown around the parking lot, with one going through the window of a 60-year-woman in her home a quarter-mile away, and leaving two males in the hospital in critical condition.

These incidents — like the teen-on-teen shooting in Havertown this week and the shots thrown like tennis balls into the Lombard-South subway stop downtown — are all too common and random.

Citizens of Norristown’s meanest streets can testify to this harsh reality.

At the Roosevelt Mall — my Roosevelt Mall of fond memories of buying cassettes tapes and waiting in line for concert tickets and kissing girls from the mysterious other side of Roosevelt Boulevard — two men and a woman were arrested at the scene.

Our national common enemy, an assault rifle, was promptly recovered.

Close your eyes and picture anyplace that you once considered a safe haven, and now picture it being a potential combat zone.

The way people act with guns is at the top of the list of real – not manufactured – national emergencies.

We just passed the one-year anniversary of Parkland (an incident and subsequent protest that Springsteen spoke eloquently about in the aforementioned Broadway show). The hard fact is that 1,200 minors have died as the result of gunshot wounds since then.

Right after the Parkland Shooting, 71 percent of Americans told pollsters from NPR/Marist that stricter gun laws were needed. In just one year, that number has plummeted to 51 percent while just 41 percent said it should be a higher priority for Congress (as compared to 51 percent a year ago). The poll revealed a tragic me-first mentality, as higher numbers were worried about a school shooting in their own community. Overall, at 63 percent, women were more concerned than men about the issue.

Maybe, even with some needing gentle rebukes, we are the right track with more women rocking the boat inside the Beltway.

Welcome all to the return of the infamous “What Is and What Should Never Be” format.

For those who don’t know, or who may have forgotten (shame on you), it is named for the Led Zeppelin song and rolls through several current events and issue (What Is) followed by the opinion (And What Should Never Be).

Ready? Go …

What Is: Rep. Ihan Omar (D-Minn.) shook up the Beltway when she suggested – via Twitter, the way we govern these days — that US support for Israel is the direct result of the lobby group AIPAC.

And What Should Never Be: Random slaps on the wrist without deeper all-around understanding. Omar, one of two nationally elected Muslim women, met with swift rebukes from both sides of the aisle – up to and including the nation’s most powerful person, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.Cal.), and your president (not mine), who said (anti-Semitism) “has no place in the US Congress.”

You know what? Even a broken clock is right twice a day (even though detractors of Barack Obama would never admit that). Your president (not mine) is right. Prejudice, if that’s even what it is, has no place in the U.S. Congress.

Then again, it also had no place in Charlottesville and his non-reaction reaction to that American tragedy still dwarfs any prepared statement now.

Omar is actually not wrong, either. IAPAC – like the NRA, Big Pharma and many others – is a powerful lobby, but the root cause here is that the birth of Israel was the net result of the horrors of the Holocaust. Jews and Gentiles (particularly evangelicals) who support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state (there are plenty of Muslim-only and Christian-only states, too) are willing to write checks to help keep it that way.

Omar should not answer calls to resign or step down from any committees, but she needs to follow up with what she said she would do in her apology, which is to live in the real world and rid herself of tunnel vision.

What Is: “Bruce On Broadway” has been available on Netflix since mid-December.

What Should Never Be: Giving up on something too soon.

Despite being a longtime Springsteen fan, I had a hard time getting into its much-anticipated showing for those of us who couldn’t afford the $700-plus ticket price (not to mention the train fare to New York).

His stories behind the songs, at least early on in the show, were either too similar to those I’ve already heard in past concerts (been to 33 of them) or almost verbatim from his recent autobiography.

Even though my better half gave up on it, I plodded on – first at a pace of about 15 minutes at a time, and then straight through. I’m thrilled I made the commitment.

Right on cue, I was reduced to those kind of tears that only Bruce can make stream down my face by the time the credits rolled.

What Is: Former NASA astronaut (and Navy pilot and engineer) Mark Kelly has accepted his next mission, which will be to attempt to become a US Senator in Arizona.

And What Should Never Be: The status quo. This astronaut/politician pedigree is nothing new to politics (i.e. John Glenn), but Kelly – if he wins the Democratic primary (likely against Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Iraq War veteran) – would bring a marquee name from the Democratic ticket, put his state in play as a vital swing state in 2020 and beyond (this is the seat vacated by the death of longtime Republican John McCain and currently held by the vulnerable former Rep. Martha McSally).

The 54-year-old Kelly, if you recall, is the husband of former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, the survivor of a high-profile 2011 mass shooting.

Since that time, the couple has become strong advocates for gun control legislation.

What Is: Speaking of the need for gun control legislation, there was a recent double shooting that hit close to home – well, sort of – at my former hangout of the Roosevelt Mall in Northeast Philadelphia.

And What Should Never Be: Shrugging it off because it was my former teen hangout in the 1980s, and not yours.

Twentysomething shots were thrown around the parking lot, with one going through the window of a 60-year-woman in her home a quarter-mile away, and leaving two males in the hospital in critical condition.

These incidents — like the teen-on-teen shooting in Havertown this week and the shots thrown like tennis balls into the Lombard-South subway stop downtown — are all too common and random.

Citizens of Norristown’s meanest streets can testify to this harsh reality.

At the Roosevelt Mall — my Roosevelt Mall of fond memories of buying cassettes tapes and waiting in line for concert tickets and kissing girls from the mysterious other side of Roosevelt Boulevard — two men and a woman were arrested at the scene.

Our national common enemy, an assault rifle, was promptly recovered.

Close your eyes and picture anyplace that you once considered a safe haven, and now picture it being a potential combat zone.

The way people act with guns is at the top of the list of real – not manufactured – national emergencies.

We just passed the one-year anniversary of Parkland (an incident and subsequent protest that Springsteen spoke eloquently about in the aforementioned Broadway show). The hard fact is that 1,200 minors have died as the result of gunshot wounds since then.

Right after the Parkland Shooting, 71 percent of Americans told pollsters from NPR/Marist that stricter gun laws were needed. In just one year, that number has plummeted to 51 percent while just 41 percent said it should be a higher priority for Congress (as compared to 51 percent a year ago). The poll revealed a tragic me-first mentality, as higher numbers were worried about a school shooting in their own community. Overall, at 63 percent, women were more concerned than men about the issue.

Maybe, even with some needing gentle rebukes, we are the right track with more women rocking the boat inside the Beltway.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on Feb. 17.