Preventing Shooting Massacres Down Under: A Lesson For America

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Port Arthur, Tasmania

This article is written by Derek Wood, my friend, who is a resident of Sydney Australia. His plea to our country is based on the following: In 1996, Australia experienced a horrible mass casualty shooting at Port Arthur, Tasmania. Afterwards, Prime Minister John Howard’s government moved quickly to tighten Australia’s gun laws and instituted a mandatory federal buy-back program designed to remove banned guns from private ownership. In the years prior to Port Arthur, Australia experienced several mass casualty shootings. There have been none since.
(An awful coincidence, the killer, currently serving 35 life sentences, is from a suburb of a Hobart called New Town, Tasmania)

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Sydney way back on 28th April 1996. I was making my way to the local gym as, in those days, I was a regular gym junkie. Just before I left my home, I heard on the radio that a gunman had been on a killing spree in Tasmania. At that stage only a small number of people had lost their lives. When I got to the gym, the number of deaths had risen to 23. I mentioned this to my gym instructor. His response was that it was the gunman’s form “of self-expression”. The instructor was reading the Celestine Prophecy at the time, which probably explained his comments. I personally preferred the term “madman”.

The gunman was named Martin Bryant and the final death toll was 35. The whole of Australia was in shock. How could anyone kill 35 innocent people? There was an outpouring of disbelief and anger. How could we stop this from happening again?

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A grief-stricken community unites and takes action

Before, I go any further, I need to give some background information. Australia is very similar to the United States. Both are large countries, both were built from migrants, both have large agricultural areas and culturally we are very similar. Naturally, we speak the same language – well sort of! Guns in Australia are typically kept in the large rural areas. Farmers need to be on alert for scavengers of the animal kind, especially foxes. Although in parts of the country snakes and crocodiles can also be a problem.
John Howard had to act, and act fast. He introduced strict gun laws into Parliament. This had bi-partisan support of the opposition Labor Party led by Kim Beasley. The new gun controls had to also be made law via the State and Territory Parliaments. Initially Queensland and Tasmania were against tightened gun control. A number of citizens were outraged at the new laws. This outrage was fueled by the support of the Christian Coalition and the US National Rifle Association! Finally, the new gun controls were made law Australia wide after a lot of intense debate. In addition, the Federal Government implemented a 12 month amnesty/buyback scheme to allow people to hand in any illegal firearm without running the risk of prosecution. Amazingly, 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350M.

Since that fateful day in 1996, Australia has not had any gun related massacres.Since the laws were established, it is now extremely hard to buy a rifle or indeed any gun. A number of valid reasons and references need to be supplied before a gun can be sold. Naturally, if there is a genuine reason to have a gun, and the person appears mentally stable, then they will be able to purchase one, subject to State and Territory requirements. It is safe to say that John Howard’s tough stance has paid dividends. Since that fateful day in 1996, Australia has not had any gun related massacres.

I mention the above purely to give any reader from the United States an idea of how gun control can be implemented. Naturally, all Australians were shocked at the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown. I have two daughters aged 9 and 10 and I certainly felt shock and sadness, especially as it happened so close to Christmas, the time of family gatherings. I feel for the parents who lost their children and the families of all those that were killed in the shooting.

To outsiders, the United States has way too many shootings. For pro-gun lobbyists to claim the second amendment as a right to bear arms in today’s modern society, is a bad joke at best! The question, a very simple one, how many more people have to lose their lives before action is taken? Yes the GOP and NRA are bed partners, and yes there are lunatics high up in both organisations. But do ordinary citizens really require a semi-automatic weapon to protect their property? The answer has to be a resounding ‘No’. (the mental faculty of anyone who wants a military-style assault rifle should be considered dubious, at best)

The US has to tighten up its gun laws immediately. It is the only way to go, and also to restore faith with the public. Not only does Barack Obama need to act decisively, it also requires the GOP and others to support any proposed law changes. The good old days of “gun toting” are over. Let’s logically move on and ensure that our children and innocent bystanders are not used as “shooting practice” by a madman.

Finally, do not underestimate the rest of the world’s opinion towards the US and its lax gun laws. I can virtually guarantee you that the feeling of most people is that the US gun laws are a complete joke. It is now up to the United States to ensure that the joke comes to an end.

Sadly, requiring the GOP to acquiesce to reasonable gun legislation is a pipe dream. Nothing like these irrational Teaparty antics occur anywhere else in the civilized world. I hope this changes in 2014. Get everyone you know to vote them out in the midterms! (VegasJessie)

Follow Derek on Twitter @Main_Man

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Please No Loaded Guns At Gun Shows, Only In Our Schools

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The last weekend of 2012 my very own city, Las Vegas, will be the next stop on the national tour of death merchants, the Crossroads Gunshow. As a concerned citizen, I surmised I should know more about an event where one can purchase high capacity clips and other killing accoutrements. I suppose what I learned should really not surprise anyone.

I pulled this ironic tidbit from the Crossroads Gunshow Website frequently asked questions section: Q: Can I carry a loaded gun in the gun show? I have a Concealed Carry Permit.
A: We respectfully request that you do not bring any loaded firearm into the gun show. Safety is our Number One Priority, and a safe environment in the show can only be maintained if there are no loaded guns in the show. There is no need for any commentary on this statement. It is the very definition of Q.E.D.

In previous articles, I’ve discussed how the folks in Utah, namely those of the Latter Day Saints persuasion, are obsessed with arming themselves for the imminent apocalypse. I was not surprised to see “America’s largest producer of gun shows, Crossroads,” has its headquarters located in Kaysville, Utah. The family in charge: the Templetons, are shameless gun show promoters. They were the very folks who, just one week after the Gaby Giffords mass shooting at a Tucson supermarket, hosted a gun show just blocks away from the tragedy.

The Templeton family is not exactly what one might consider a paragon of virtue. In 2002, Crossroads Gunshow VP Jeffrey Templeton called the police after hearing a suspicious noise outside his house. The police found more than just a suspected prowler, as this report states. The indictment lists 57 firearms confiscated at the home by agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Kaysville police on Dec. 11. The discovery was made after someone at the Templetons’ home in Kaysville called police to report something suspicious, possibly a burglar or prowler. But when Kaysville police arrived, they spotted a slew of weapons with illegal drugs nearby, said Kaysville Police Chief Dave Helquist. He said the drugs appeared to be methamphetamine and are being tested. I suppose they are just the type of criminals 2nd Amendment enthusiasts want to arm themselves against.

The 2nd Amendment has been perverted by the Right. They redefine a well-regulated militia as every gun-crazed, paranoid lunatic should have all the weaponry and ammo of a Colombian drug cartel. So, the Second Amendment read: “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.” Contrary to some current right-wing fantasies about the Framers wanting to encourage popular uprisings over grievances, the language of the amendment is clearly aimed at maintaining order within the country. The Founding Fathers wanted to maintain a civilized society where armed insurrections like Shay’s Rebellion could be easily quashed, not the other way around.

Folks blame President Obama for not being “tougher on guns”. President Bush let the assault weapons ban of 1994 expire in 2004, as it was common knowledge the NRA ran the show in the Bush 43 White House. In fact, The National Rifle Association’s second-ranking officer boasted at a closed meeting of NRA members in May of 2000 that if Republican nominee George W. Bush wins in November, “we’ll have . . . a president where we work out of their office.”

President Obama tried in March, 2009 to reinstate the ban, but with sixty-five House Democrats opposing the ban, he and Attorney General Eric Holder could not get this through Congress. Too many are beholden to Wayne Lapierre and his terrorist organization, the National Rifle Association.

LaPierre is a seemingly unstable leader who claims criminals hear voices and demons to encourage their heinous acts. On Meet the Press last week he proclaimed:

“The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them”

When one truly believes in demonic possession, it’s not wise for this person to hold so much influence over so many insane people, like those who read his NRA publication.

In order to gin up fear and gun sales, he regularly and erroneously claims the Obama Administration is coming for your guns. Here is a recent excerpt from NRA Publications Inc.
Over the past three years, the Obama administration and its anti-gun allies have been engaged in a silent but sophisticated long-term conspiracy to:
1. Neutralize gun owners and NRA voters as a political force in national elections, and thereby:
2. Win re-election to a second term in the White House, where they then will be immune to the will of voters and free to continue consolidating and misusing their ever-increasing power to:
3. Prosecute a full-scale, sustained, all-out campaign to excise the Second Amendment from our Bill of Rights through legislation, litigation, regulation, executive orders, judicial fiat, international treaties—in short, all the levers of power of all three branches of government.
And the key to their success lies in keeping gun owners like you in the dark.

There are roughly 5,000 annual gun shows nationwide and 40% of gun-owners purchase their firearms either at a gun show or through classified ads and private exchanges, with little or no regulation. Perhaps just eliminating gun shows is a fine way to start cutting down on violence via assault weapons. It will certainly not eliminate all mass shootings, but taking the profitability out of human carnage might just be a great way to start.

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With Friends Like Cantor and the Young Guns, Who Needs Republicans?

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Boehner (Left) and Eric Cantor

In 2010, Paul Ryan (R Wi), Eric Cantor (R-Va) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca) released the book “Young Guns” on Sept. 14, timed for the closing two months of the midterm election campaign. Essentially this book was a road map of their agenda to essentially privatize Social Security and pass other very unpopular legislation that could prove to be the undoing of the party. They were banking on Americans being uninformed, which is generally the case, as they would never vote for them if they really knew their true intentions. 2010 was the year the Teaparty launched their reign of terror, making the 112th Congress the least effective legislative body in recent history, headed by John Boehner. Boehner has the impossible task of trying to maintain a balance between traditional Republicans and this new batch of fringe lunatics. If you recall, 2010 also brought this country a rash of horrific governors, like Michigan’s Snyder and Wisconsin’s Walker that make Attila the Hun seem compassionate. Little did folks know by 2012, these representatives and governors would be highly unpopular, yet popularity is not their primary concern.

This generation of far right extremist Republicans have put their party in peril by taking a stand so extreme, 53% of Americans believe them to be far too ultra-conservative and reactionary. The results of the November 2012 election notwithstanding, they are going to legislate from the far right no matter what the country wants. This GOP Speaker Boehner still holds the third highest office in the land, but for how long? In a press conference on Friday, December 21st, a reporter asked Boehner, “If you’re not worried about losing your speakership, shouldn’t you be?”

With Mr. “Bitchface” himself, Eric Cantor, salivating behind Speaker Boehner, this question seemed particularly poignant. McCarthy and Ryan are obvious TeaParty vermin with a very corporate agenda. But the Virginia Congressman is especially treacherous. He always seems to be there, lurking in the background, especially when Mr. Boehner fails at his endeavors with his caucus. It was hard to miss the devilish smirk Majority Leader Cantor was unable to contain after Speaker Boehner announced House Republicans rejected his “Plan B” proposal to counter the President’s offer. This brazen display of gloating and defiance has become more common as the Speaker and Cantor seem to be at odds with each other more and more. Last summer during the debt ceiling debacle, he forced Boehner’s hand into placing the United States in a treacherous position that lowered our credit rating for the first time in history. A former congressional staffer said this:

Cantor is the Republican leadership Brutus. Cantor is willing to risk, and Republicans would be blamed for, a global economic crash because Cantor is a poodle for millionaires and conglomerates that pay no taxes and will risk the economic future of the nation to pursue his ambition as he plunges the knife into the back of John Boehner.

One would think after the overwhelming support President Obama earned this past election, the GOP might be humbled to legislate more towards the middle. Not these “Young Guns,” as they insist on pushing the party so far to the right, Mussolini would be excommunicated from their caucus for being too liberal. The most extreme of all challengers has to be Eric Cantor, a man who vetoed the Violence Against Women Act (December 7) because of a key provision which protects Native American Women. Cantor also has an A+Rating from the NRA, in case anyone thought he was concerned with the safety of children over the profits of gun manufacturers. During his reelection campaign this October, Cantor supporters spray-painted baby killer and N-Word Lover on his opponent Wayne Powell’s offices. Cantor had no problem defeating Mr. Powell with $5 million from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. It seems Mr. Cantor is very much on the radar of folks like Adelson because of his zero taxes on business stance and his partiality to Adelson’s Zionist causes.

The Roman Senate has nothing on these guys. John Boehner is in the unenviable position of damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Once he makes a move contrary to the capricious nature of the Teaparty, he’s going to end up a lot like Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Someone ought to tell Boehner to beware the Ides of March. Perhaps his demise will occur even sooner, when Congress reconvenes (January 3).

Your Doomsday Preparations Are Killing Us

She uttered the words, “Lord The Day Is At Hand! We Are In The Last Days! You Are Jehovah God!” You might think this is a fringe cult leader uttering these extreme words of admonishment. Nope, it’s just Teaparty darling Michele Bachmann (R), a now four term Representative from Minnesota’s sixth district, revealing her religious fanaticism as if we all share these beliefs. These words spoken by powerful leaders can have disastrous effects on people by playing to their fear of the unknown. What better way to combine god and guns than preparing people for some prophesied apocalypse.

The idea that we are in the end times or “latter days” seems to be popular among not just fringe groups, but mainstream religions. It is true that, for many decades, the LDS cult followers have been admonished to accumulate, and then use on a rotating basis (to keep it fresh), a minimum one-year supply but ideally a TWO-YEAR supply of food. The whole idea was that some catastrophe was imminent (a nuclear holocaust?), and that each and every LDS household would need that storage to survive. The prevalent attitude was that when the apocalypse came, the non- and jack-mormon neighbors would try to raid the homes of the obedient, righteous LDS to get their 2-year supplies, and thus it was also necessary to have firearms to protect themselves and their families, a.k.a. the chosen good guys against the evil mobs. It was coming! Be prepared! One of the largest unregulated Internet gun sites is Mormon-owned, further contributing to our firearm-obsessed society. We can’t forget the most famous Mormon doomsday preacher, Glenn Beck and his fearmongering, which does little to comfort anyone with paranoid psychoses.

Tragedy-stricken Newtown, CT is a heavily Republican stronghold. The mother of the shooter was a Conservative, “NRA guns & god enthusiast”. Nancy Lanza, murdered by her son Adam was a so called “doomsday prepper/survivalist” worried about the imminent economic implosion that will inevitably accompany President Obama’s second term. Certainly, she did not deserve her fate, but was it wise to instill this paranoia in an already unstable person? How did a so-called responsible gun owner allow her mentally handicapped son to get a hold of her guns and ammo? Perhaps we will never know. But we do know this mindset can have tragic consequences.

This week, a Utah sixth grader came to school with a gun in his backpack citing the recent shooting as the reason for carrying a lethal firearm around defenseless children. Utah happens to be the second most heavily armed state in America, as it is over 70% LDS, which ardently supports the NRA. The potential disaster was averted when authorities intervened and put the boy in custody. Why do so many children and mentally unstable individuals have access to so many guns? Because we are the most heavily armed nation on earth with 90 guns per 100 people. Guns are far more readily available here than they are in other countries, even a volatile nation like Yemen has fewer firearms per capita.

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The number of hate groups continues to rise since 2000, even more so now that President Obama has been re-elected. I am not just referencing extremist groups like the online white nationalist forum Stormfront. I’m talking about the prevalence of joint NRA-ALEC legislation that allows for semi-automatics to legally terrorize our streets. The NRA is closely aligned with the most extreme elements in the Republican Party and has brought a number of the GOP’s most influential operatives into positions of power within the organization. The GOP and NRA are now locked in a symbiotic relationship where Republican legislators advance the NRA’s extreme agenda while the NRA musters its hardcore supporters to serve as attack dogs for a wide range of conservative causes. In recent years, they’ve sought to spread laws that would prevent cities from banning machine guns—”…guns whose rapid repeating rounds have nothing to do with hunting deer or other game and everything to do with maximizing the death toll when fired at human beings,” according to PRWatch.org.

God and guns seem to go together which brings to mind when then Candidate Obama mentioned how some people cling to their religion and their guns. This caused an outrage not seen until Mitt Romney uttered his 47% remark at a private fundraiser. People are very defensive about both matters, as if they are one in the same. Mike Huckabee attributed this recent tragedy not to our insane violent gun culture, but the absence of “god” from our classrooms. Fortunately, there are sane people teaching our children that know much better than the Fox News crowd.

It’s not just in America that firearms and the clergy have symbiotically coexisted. One of the world’s wealthiest institutions, the Catholic Church, is also laden with a history of turning a blind eye to the real cause of violence. Perhaps not as egregious as the Crusades or the Inquisition, recent church history is also pretty shameful. The refusal of Pope Pius XII to excommunicate Hitler and Mussolini during World War II forever marred his pontificate with a historically unpopular position of neutrality. When the Nazis invaded Poland, Pius XII refused to condemn the invasion; reason was because one of the biggest advantages the Vatican enjoyed was the lucrative agreement he had with Hitler. In 1998, the Pope apologized for the church’s tacit cooperation with the Nazis, but the relationship with fascists is still evident today.

The modern opulence and security the Vatican enjoys is in part courtesy of the generosity of Benito Mussolini. Thanks to the signing of the Lateran Treaty between his government and the Vatican the Catholic Church enjoyed a number of safeguards and protection. Interestingly enough, the Vatican itself is the largest shareholder in Beretta Arms Company today, even though publicly it supports a UN ban on private gun ownership.

In this country, people like Mike Huckabee and the faith-based coalition will never assign culpability to the NRA. The GOP is entwined with fringe hate groups (see the Teaparty) and will continue to preach violence from the pulpit and/or Fox News, which is, at times, indistinguishable. Preaching about the second coming of Christ, the End of Days scenarios or a complete economic apocalypse can only make a culture steeped in violence more unstable and paranoid. Doomsday is a notion promulgated by superstition, folklore and religion. Imposing these fears on a society at large is both immoral and dangerous.

Is Religion Leading America to the Dark Ages (or have we never left)?

“Religion is the opiate of the masses,” Karl Marx said, and how right he was. Studies have shown as income inequality increases, so does the frequency of prayer. The more religious a society, the more accepting of fictional justifications commonly espoused by a particular faith that allow a population to accept unacceptable socioeconomic disparities. The United States, contrary to its status as the pioneers of science, is disproportionately preoccupied with an imaginary friend than its European or Australian colleagues. We are also living with income disparity levels not seen in America since 1774! There is significant evidence this has been detrimental to our development as a nation, our pursuit of happiness as well as perpetuating the culture of constant war and foreign occupation that has irreversibly scarred the USA. We are far too religious for our own good.

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As prayer becomes more prevalent so does income inequality

I intend to elucidate my hypothesis using three separate spheres of influence of religion on society:
1. Physical and logical brain functions

2. Emotional development and happiness

3. The culture of war fostered by religion and the military.

Physical Impact of Prayer on the Brain
Medical science has shown the hippocampus is the part of the brain involved in memory forming, organizing, and storing. The more one learns about the world, the less mysterious it becomes and one is less likely to accept oversimplified “god did it” type answers. My ability to differentiate between a creationist tale of my world versus the scientific facts of its real age (the biblical 10,000 years over the actual age of 4.6 billion years) may have stifled my scientific potential. I refer to a study of hippocampus atrophy in adults over fifty-eight with a focus on Life Changing Religious Experiences as a variable. With increased religiosity one observes a decrease in the function of the hippocampus. It seems watching the 700 Club can be hazardous to your health.

I am guilty of perpetuating this mythology on my own children, as it is inescapable in our society. My youngest goes to preschool where they learn about Christmas and Santa, which doesn’t bother me one bit. Sadly, I have resorted to using the ‘Santa Claus is watching you’ threat on my toddler to keep him in line, and this is probably not much different than telling a child god or big brother is watching you. It’s as if you are selecting which myths your child should believe and for how long, which is no different than cherry-picking which parts of the bible you feel are veracious. The victims of childhood indoctrination have a hard time knowing which parts of the Bible they should accept as literally true and which are merely allegorical and not to be taken literally. For example, if one rejects the account in Genesis of a six-day creation, and the account of the lives of the descendants of Adam and Eve to Noah and beyond, upon which the claimed young age of earth is based, why does one not also reject the account of original sin, the fall of Man and of the need for forgiveness and redemption upon which the entire Christian faith depends and upon which the entire rationale for Jesus’s sacrifice is supposedly based? What in these stories distinguishes one from the other with sufficient reason to reject one and accept the other? It’s nice to believe in fantasy and to encourage imagination, but living life with the lack of true rationality may just make us less happy. The available rankings of the world’s happiest nations actually strengthens this correlation between a more rational society and a more satisfied populace.

Happiness and Emotional Well-being

If you take a look at the top ten happiest countries you’d notice a disproportionate percentage of the top ten happiest are Scandinavian countries. Also noteworthy is the very same countries which appear on that list are also the least religious. Is there an absolute correlation? No, of course not. But we can learn from the greatest example of historical suffering and stagnation since the Roman Empire, which was known as the Dark Ages. This was an era where superstition reigned supreme and it clearly demonstrated the negative impacts religion can have on a society dominated by its stern enforcement and absolute power over men. The modern day examples of societies becoming more humane, compassionate and progressive are extremely obvious, where the most secular nations enjoy the highest standards of living. I posed the question, ‘do less religious societies have a higher level of morality?’ to author Phil Zuckerman, researcher and professor. He replied:

“Yes, I would argue that most of the least religious nations on earth today are the most moral in terms of having the best health care, elder care, child care, maternity/paternity leave, most humane prisons, no death penalty, lowest murder rates, lowest levels of corruption, lowest levels of police brutality, best care for the physically disabled, most sane environmental policies, women’s rights, gay rights, good educational systems, etc. However, I can’t say with 100% surety that is is because they are strongly secular. Correlation is not causation. But I can say this: many countries have become more humane and moral in the wake of religion weakening. Perfect examples include Japan and Scandinavia.”

When you have a nation who believes that the only way to salvation is for the country to revert back to the teachings of the Old Testament and this must be added to the Constitution, we are indeed in trouble. Too much fear and hate is perpetuated by many of these groups claiming to represent Christ and promoting this kind of nonsense is only detrimental to a society’s progress. Our government’s dominance by the Moral Majority and the Faith Based Initiative have kept our civil rights at levels far less evolved than many other western democracies.

The Culture of Perpetual War Fostered by Religious Fundamentalism

The United States military, the most expensive and largest on earth has an unusually anti-secular attitude. Mikey Weinstein, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says “mandated religion has no place within the technologically most lethal creation of the US government.” A survey commissioned by the Air Force Academy in 2010 showed some improvements in the climate of religious tolerance on campus, but also found that many cadets still felt pressured to take part in religious activities. Nearly half of the non-Christian cadets surveyed, for example, said their fellow students have a “low tolerance” for atheists, a 20 percent jump from a similar 2008 survey. This came on the heels of reports that Air Force missileers were receiving Bible-centered ethics training, with the aim of helping them shake off lingering doubts about firing nuclear weapons. The training – which had been in place for almost two decades and was known jokingly among the airmen as “Jesus loves nukes” – was halted in 2011. God and country is a big part of the military culture, as anytime there’s a ceremony of any type, there’s always prayer.

The most fundamentalist chaplains are often selected to lead prayer with military groups. A motivational pastor from the Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, Raymond Giunta, 47 led a prayer breakfast at the Pentagon in early December. Turns out this is the same Pastor Giunta who was found to have taken more than $10,200 in cemetery trust funds intended for graveyard upkeep while he worked as the director of the California Cemetery Board in the mid-1990’s. Fundamentalist “Pentacostal” religion seems to dominate the military, and it went up all the way to General Petraeus.

General David Petraeus, recently disgraced, is a very “spiritual” military leader. He heavily pushed the concept of Spiritual Fitness Tests, Spiritual Fitness Concerts and Spiritual Fitness Centers and spared no expense attracting Christian Fundamentalist performers. Funny how that whole holier than thou thing worked out for him, isn’t it? I find it rather interesting how the military has perverted the message of Christ to mean we should take over any part of the world we desire, especially those parts that believe in a different god than Jesus. Without the fallacy of this religiosity, the military would probably not be able to sell its barbaric message to so many in the Military Industrial Complex, namely the United States Congress who funds it so very generously.

It’s a personal decision to believe what one chooses to believe. However when that belief is forced upon a society in one way or another, it seems it can only create a culture that mirrors the devolution of Medieval Europe, replete with all the inequality, brutality and intolerance that comes with the mandated belief in the unproven. Constitutionally, we’re a society which allows for religion, not a religion that allows for society. In 1988, America was #1 in “where to be born” list. Now it is joint 16th. It would be nice if religion could be considered a factor in our diminished status.

Guns Don’t Kill People, GOP Laws Kill People

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Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, has been the big selling point for the defense of the antiquated Second Amendment. Would there be cybercrime without the Internet? Do you ever hear drugs don’t kill people, people doing drugs kills people? Would there be homophobic bullying if it weren’t for religion preaching its alleged immorality through indoctrinated hate? Why is it the preponderance of guns is NEVER the reason for gun violence? With less than 5% of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35–50 per cent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, heavily skewing the global geography of firearms and any relative comparison. Our culture of guns has armed our citizens with roughly 88 guns per 100 people.

The main reason is because the NRA, with the help of ALEC and the Heritage Foundation rule America through the Republican Party (and a few Democrats as well). Most of the nation’s most lax gun laws are passed by Governors with GOP administrations, such as Rick Scott in Florida. The GOP has an alleged “family values” message, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Republican Party is a criminal conspiracy to betray the well-being of the American people in favor of oligarchical and corporate interests, and insane fundamentalist religious groups. Gun rights, not human rights, are far more important. This is only befitting of a party who takes the wrong side of every single issue since the New Deal.

The attack on anyone who comments on the easy acquisition of firearms is generally brutal. Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock candidly voiced their opinion on our gun culture after the tragic murder suicide of Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher. This was met with disbelief by those who, let’s face it, cling to their religion and their guns. I found it to be an absolutely honest and heartfelt observation where they admit handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. If Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would both be alive today. Our current gun culture ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy. More convenience store confrontations over loud music will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. The outrage was not directed at the actual murders or the easily accessible guns, but at those who criticize our gun laws!

The gun-rights zealots’ criticism can be aimed at politicians or any public figure who dares challenge their insane logic. So our culture, enhanced by strong-arm tactics by powerful lobbies and hate groups, is obsessed with guns. I can easily understand someone’s right to defend themselves or hunt, but why the need for large capacity ammo clips or assault rifles? When is it going to end? Can I get my own personal surface to air missile just in case I want to shoot down a potential enemy drone or if I’m paranoid about my “Socialist-Marxist government?” Why is it President Obama has done absolutely nothing to restrict gun owners’ rights yet the number of hate groups who advocate the most lenient gun laws is at an all time high? Largely because they have managed to appeal to the American psyche by invoking Jesus Christ, the most popular deity in America, to their cause.

These hate groups masquerade as religious organizations promoting their version of family values. MVP American Family Association Executive Director and radio host Bryan Fischer was discussing the NRA’s latest conspiracy theory, about how the United Nations is supposedly plotting to take away guns and destroy American’s Second Amendment rights though the Arms Trade Treaty. During the discussion, Fischer claimed that Jesus preached the right to self-defense and therefore his teaching is “virtually the foundation of the Second Amendment.”

This psychosis fostered by hard-right wingers creates a culture where any organization trying to promote peace and minimize destruction is looked upon suspiciously. The TeaPartiers in the Senate recently voted to reject a UN treaty essentially promoting the world’s adoption of OUR very own ADA which intends to treat the handicapped in other countries with greater dignity and equality. Led by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and SenatorJim DeMint (R-SC) (who recently announced his retirement to head the Heritage Foundation), they convinced enough of their sympathizers to humiliate the handicapped in their very own chamber, especially esteemed GOP Senator Bob Dole. The Teaparty is still trying to convince its NRA-obsessed sympathizers that we are truly turning into a Marxist-Socialist nation. It’s no coincidence the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council, a huge supporter of DeMint, as a hate group.

So what recourse do sane, thinking Americans who love this country and the Constitution have? Based on the most recent elections we have already begun by sending a few of these hard line crazies back home. Hopefully, the NRA and its Religious Right organizations will be emasculated to the point of impotence. Firearms must be more closely regulated than they currently are. If the TeaParty could lose its grip on our government, perhaps there will be more regulations placed on gun show sales and will discourage the emotionally volatile from arming themselves to the teeth. Our Constitution was designed to protect our citizens not just from tyrannical government, but from general anarchy and violence. Stand Your Ground and other such flawed laws must be amended to do what they should do: protect ALL Americans.