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Guns, Drugs, Violence, and Blame

by on June 9, 2014

Problems are never solved by recrimination and finger pointing. An educator writing about education reminds of us this fundamental fact of life and – maybe I say it – politics. They, the problems, “are solved through hard work and honest compromise. All of us: parents and teachers, unions and politicians, administrators and business owners, have failed our students who are continuing to fail themselves. It is time to quit playing the blame game, because it is a game where everyone loses.”  This does not only apply to education.

To say that politics doesn’t contain finger pointing would be a massive understatement and an untruth.  That doesn’t make pointing fingers a cure-all, it makes it an easy and temporary ‘cure’ which solves nothing except kicking the can down the road.

 

Guns and Weapons

Fast and Furious is a complicated subject to say the least.  As Forbes reports:

By 2009 the Sinaloa drug cartel out of Mexico had made Phoenix its gun supermarket and recruited young Americans as its designated shoppers.  Dave Voth, of the ATF and his agents began investigating a group of buyers, some not even old enough to buy beer, whose members were putting down as much as $20,000 in cash to purchase up to 20 semiautomatics at a time, and then delivering the weapons to others.

On Dec. 14, 2010, in a remote stretch of Peck Canyon, Ariz., Mexican bandits attacked an elite U.S. Border Patrol unit and killed an agent named Brian Terry. The attackers fled, leaving behind two semiautomatic rifles. A trace of the guns’ serial numbers revealed that the weapons had been purchased 11 months earlier at a Phoenix-area gun store by a Fast and Furious suspect.

Ten weeks later, an ATF agent named John Dodson, whom Voth had supervised, made startling allegations on the CBS Evening News. He charged that his supervisors had intentionally allowed American firearms to be trafficked—a tactic known as “walking guns”—to Mexican drug cartels. Dodson claimed that supervisors repeatedly ordered him not to seize weapons because they wanted to track the guns into the hands of criminal ringleaders. The program showed internal e-mails from Voth, which purportedly revealed agents locked in a dispute over the deadly strategy.

Conservatives pummeled the Obama administration, and especially Holder, for more than a year. “Who authorized this program that was so felony stupid that it got people killed?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanded to know in a hearing in June 2011. He has charged the Justice Department, which oversees the ATF, with having “blood on their hands.” Issa and more than 100 other Republican members of Congress demanded Holder’s resignation over this incident.

As political pressure has mounted, ATF and Justice Department officials have reversed themselves. After initially supporting Group VII agents and denying the allegations, they have since agreed that the ATF purposefully chose not to interdict guns it lawfully could have seized. Holder testified in December that “the use of this misguided tactic is inexcusable, and it must never happen again.”

Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.

A six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.

“Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with these reports that are patently false,” says Linda Wallace, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit who was assigned to the Fast and Furious team (and recently retired from the IRS). A self-described gun-rights supporter, Wallace has not been criticized by Issa’s committee.

Here’s the long conclusion about the subject, and it’s a quote from Forbes.  ” How Fast and Furious reached the headlines is a strange and unsettling saga, one that reveals a lot about politics and media today. It’s a story that starts with a grudge, specifically Dodson’s anger at Voth. After the terrible murder of agent Terry, Dodson made complaints that were then amplified, first by right-wing bloggers, then by CBS. Rep. Issa and other politicians then seized those elements to score points against the Obama administration, which, for its part, has capitulated in an apparent effort to avoid a rhetorical battle over gun control in the run-up to the presidential election.”  The article was published in the end of June, 2012, just as campaign season started.

This itself is just one incident involving guns which gets the media and therefore the politicians mighty excited.  If Fast and Furious was the only gun issue that has massive effects on national politics it would be more memorable and more important.  Instead it’s just part of the story.

As said earlier in relation to education “it is time to quit playing the blame game, because it is a game where everyone loses.”

 

Then there are other issues involving guns and weapons, such as Cliven Bundy, who sounds like he belongs on a TV show, though not a terrible reputable one.  Frankly, when the issue first started I was confused about what was happening, or, indeed, whether it was happening at all, because my source was something far from what I would consider mainstream news.  The issue is not over, it’s quite fresh, and it seems to be starting again – or continuing.  It’s both complicated and simple.  Clive – is it Clive or Cliven?  Who names their son Cliven? – has said he doesn’t recognize the existence of the federal government, and he will continue using the government land to graze his livestock.  The government started taking his livestock as payment for money owed for grazing fees at which point militia – that is, armed people looking for a fight with the government – started to show up in support of Cliven.

At this point the Bundy issue became very simple.  Should the government fight wingnuts?

 

As this article is being written – which is taking much longer than desired – more shootings, indeed more mass shooting have occurred.  I need hardly mention Elliot Rodger, and you might recognize his name as the person who killed seven and wounded thirteen more in Isla Vista last month.  It would be nice to be able to ask him why – beyond his written declaration – he was led to do such as a  thing, but he is one of those who died – indeed, he killed himself – in this shooting.

There are so many shootings that some pass by hardly noticed.  A shooting in Las Vegas in which five people died is beginning to catch the attention of the news.  It was not depression, or the realization that life is hard, that caused this shooting.  It was, however, like so many homicides and mass shooting, it was anger and disgruntlement at something.  The something, in this case was the government.  The unnamed killer, a woman, along with her husband (or significant other) shot a policeman at point-blank range and another officer moments later, then went to Wal-Mart and killed another stranger; then she killed her significant other finally herself.

Five dead seems hardly newsworthy these days; it happens so often that it hits the twenty-four hour news cycle and moves on, but in this case it might gain attention.  The woman and her accomplice had been inspired by Cliven Bundy and came west to follow his ideology of being anti-government (which, of course, includes police).

The Second Amendment, often cited by people as the document that allows them to carry guns in all sorts of places (depending on what state you’re in) says “[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.”

The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances (emphasis mine).”

Which comes first, the First Amendment or the Second Amendment?  The right to redress grievances or the right to use Arms?

 

Drugs and Violence

Events such as Fast and Furious (see above) have shown that drugs are an international issue and problem, and lead to violence (and to the political repercussions of such violence).

There are some organizations that keep track of death caused by drugs, particularly legally prescribed drugs.  The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) has written a damning article for many or all of the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years.  Most of those shootings, perhaps all of them, where done by a person prescribed legal drugs for mental problems, such as depression.

There’s no doubt that people are violent, and, unfortunately for any hope of world peace or the arrival of the messiah, will continue to be violent.  Altering peoples’ brain chemistry may lead to violence or docility.  Both are contrary to what we should be.  It’s time to stop blaming without reason and to start showing some empathy and to provide some method in which people who are depressed, feel threatened,  angry, or belong in a mental facility (there are such people), in which these people are cared for and cared about.

 

 

 

 

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From → Politics

One Comment
  1. Great blog, Bill

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