Armed Volunteers in Schools

Since the Sandy Hook school shooting there has been a great deal of talk about putting armed volunteers in those schools which do not already have an armed School Resource Officer.

What can possibly go wrong with this idea?  After all, they’d be volunteers and not cost already financially strapped school districts money they cannot afford.  Win-win for everyone, right?  Our children would be protected from another Sandy Hook and everyone would be happy and safe.


First of all, SROs are highly trained police officers.  In addition to the additional training they receive in areas such as bullying and abuse, they regularly participate in firearms training and “active shooter” scenarios.  How many volunteers have the time and money to devote to this training?

In addition, police officers have undergone psychological screening and background investigation prior to becoming police officers.  True, there are those who slip through the testing and checks prior to becoming police officers, but the majority of the “bad apples” never become police officers.  Are volunteers willing to submit to the same screening and checks?  And who pays for this?

Well, you say, there is Joe Jones – he has lots of free time (he’s always hanging around the Legion or neighborhood bars) and he was a SEAL/Ranger when he was in the military.  So he’s already undergone all those tests and he’s very highly trained.  Is he?  As of January 2007, there have been about 10,400 SEALS (including currently active, so what are the chances?  (See:  So, maybe he says he was an Army Ranger.  Same sort of thing:

So, he says he’s former FBI, CIA, or maybe Mossad.  Then it must be very difficult for them to find gainful employment or he wouldn’t have all that free time to devote to being an armed guard in a school.  So, he’s retired?  Easy enough to find this out during a background check.

Same for any felony record.  Or domestic violence record.  Or road rage.  Or any number of things that should automatically disqualify a person from being armed in the first place, let alone armed and in a school.

So, he’s the guy who works the night shift so he’s home all day.  Do you really want someone who, if he is there at the school all day every day, is more than likely to be sleep-deprived running around your child’s school with a loaded gun in an active shooter situation?

Okay, you think that just the general knowledge that there is an armed guard at the school will keep shooters from trying anything.  Ask the parents of those killed and injured during the Columbine shootings in April 1999 how well that worked for them.  (See:  And how well did that work at Fort Hood in November 2009?  (See:

Arm the teachers and the rest of the school personnel, you suggest.  First of all, do you want to pay everyone at your school for the time and expense of training and purchase of firearms?  Then, there is placing additional demands on those who are entrusted with educating your children to prepare themselves for a successful future.  And, last, but certainly not least, is it really a good idea to have guns all over the school.  Should the teachers and others wear them at all times?  You think a couple of kids can’t ever, ever manage to disarm a person if they are of a mind to do so?  And if guns are not being carried at all times, where and how should they be stored?  Storing guns securely and safely at home doesn’t seem to have worked all that well so far.

Placing armed volunteers in schools may seem like a good idea; the consequences, not so much.

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Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, went into a gun store and purchased an AR-15. Now, Mr. Kelly is already a gun owner, so it was highly unlikely that he was not going to pass the required background check. During the 20 days Mr. Kelly had to wait before picking up his gun the owner of the gun store realized just who Mr. Kelly was and cancelled the sale and refunded Mr. Kelly’s money.

The owner had the following to say: “While I support and respect Mark Kelly’s 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible manner, his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm rifle from us was for reasons other then [sic] for his personal use,” Douglas MacKinlay, owner of Diamondback Police Supply, said in the post.

Sooo, Mr. MacKinlay gets to decide who can buy a gun from his store. There is really nothing wrong with this – a shop owner, feeling that a customer is buying a gun for the purpose of, say, shooting up his neighbor’s barn shouldn’t sell the weapon. On the other hand, I wasn’t aware that the ability to read minds was a requirement for owning a gun store.

Perhaps, in lieu of the ability to read minds, universal background checks for ALL gun sales and transfers of ownership, whether in a gun store, at a gun show, or private sales should be mandatory. No sane person wants to find out that the gun he sold to the okay-looking guy from across town was actually sold to a felon who used it to shoot the police officer who’d arrested him a year or two ago or the wife he’d been arrested for beating so badly she ended up in the hospital or to commit another felony or to be successful in the purchaser’s next suicide attempt.

What is the problem here? Why are so many so resistant to universal background checks?

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Plan B and Teenage Girls

Heads are exploding all over the country because a Federal judge ruled that the Plan B pill (an emergency contraceptive for use within 5 days after having unprotected sex) be made available to all women, regardless of age and without parental consent.

The reason that so many heads are exploding is that a young girl may just go to the drug store and purchase this medication without telling anyone she needs it, except, of course, the pharmacist.

None of the exploding heads seem to be addressing the point that if she could have gotten pregnant and then doesn’t have an abortion, in nine months she will have a baby.  Unless there is legal intervention, she will then have custody and control of a minor, which she may believe (and rightly so) she is neither ready or able to care for herself.  If there are legal proceedings and her parents gain custody of the child, haven’t they more or less just used her, against her will if she wanted to use Plan B and then was prevented in doing so, as a means of producing a child for them?  Same argument if the state sues for and gains custody of the child and then puts it up for adoption or places it in foster care (which may be quite expensive).  Again, same argument if the father sues for and gains custody.  She and she alone can make the decision NOT to have her body used for breeding against her will.  She is a human being, not a farm animal to be bred at the whim and will of others.

If a girl, no matter her age, is mature enough to know that she has had unprotected sex and that pregnancy may result, knows she is not ready for whatever reason to raise a child, gets herself to the drug store and obtains the Plan B pill without waiting until she knows if she actually got pregnant or not and will need to have an abortion, then she is mature enough to do just that.  If she is too young or unable to make this decision because of intellectual disability, then whoever had sex with her needs to go to jail AND someone should make sure she has access to Plan B.

If she can’t tell her parents about her need for Plan B, then the parents should be seriously reevaluating their parenting skills.  If their religion colors their attitudes and they have made this so clear to their daughter that she can’t talk to them about her need for Plan B, they should read their Bible.  No where in the Bibles sacred to both Christians and Jews does it say anywhere that life begins at any other time than when God breaths life into a body.  If they taught their daughter that abstinence until marriage is the only sex education she needs, then they have failed on two counts.

Let the heads explode.




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Big Rigs

Just the other day I read that a witness blamed the 95 vehicle pile up on I-77  Easter Sunday morning on a tractor trailer.  That may or may not be true.  Police investigating at the scene said that there had been as many as 17 or more separate accidents.  Sadly, at least 3 people lost their lives.

There is a huge amount of public outcry blaming big trucks for all sorts of things: air pollution, accidents, damage to public roads, and so on.

Next time you go shopping, whether to your favorite supermarket or your nearest mall, drive all around it.  Do you see a rail siding anywhere?  No?  Then EVERYTHING in the store(s) traveled on a tractor trailer at least part of its journey to get to where you could purchase it.  Even locally produced items are highly likely to have spent part of their existence on a big truck – seeds, fertilizer, etc.

How much thought have you given to your life if there were no tractor-trailers?

What about the men and women who drive them?  An over-the-road driver may spend as long as two months living in what amounts to a closet driving all over the country before he or she has the chance to spend a week at home.  Team drivers give a whole new meaning to ‘togetherness.’  Imagine spending that amount of time, 24/7 and for weeks on end, with even someone you love dearly.

Drivers are responsible for not only their own safety and the safety of the load they are responsible for but also for all those using the roads with them.  There is a perception among many that OTR drivers are speeding merrily along the road, hopped up on drugs and ignoring anyone else on the road in their haste to get where they are going.  Wrong!  All fleet and most owner-operated tractors are governed and simply can not go any faster than between 62 mph and 66 mph.  There are two reasons for this:  1.  Diesel is more than $4 a gallon all over the country and keeping speed down saves the companies and owner-operators real money and 2.  Drivers don’t want to pay the fines for speeding, which can be more than $1000 and may cost them their jobs.  And drivers are subject to random drugs testing and yearly mandatory drug testing.

Next time you pull in front of a semi and then immediately slow down (usually because you had to speed up a lot to pass it) consider that the truck you just slowed down in front of may weigh close to 80,000 lbs.  It’s a lot harder to slow down something that weighs that much.  Pulling onto an interstate in front of a semi and then slowing down is just as dangerous.

You may have seen signs on trailers saying that if you can’t see the driver in his or her mirrors, he or she can’t see you, either.  This isn’t just something entertaining trucking companies put on the back of their trailers to amuse you.  This is for YOUR safety.  You can’t expect a driver to make a (split-second, sometimes) decision that takes your safety into consideration if the driver is unaware you are 10 feet from the trailer doors.  Drivers can’t reasonably be expected to keep track of a car they may have seen 10 miles ago behind them and know that the same car is now hidden behind a trailer 53′ long.

Drivers are under a lot of pressure in addition to trying to keep track of people operating cars who have no idea how dangerous their actions may be.  Their load may consist of hazardous materials.  This doesn’t mean just things like nuclear waste or dynamite.  How about something probably in your own kitchen like vanilla extract?  The list of hazmat cargoes may be surprising to most of us.  Drivers have to know how to deal with possible spills of ALL of them.

Then there are time sensitive loads.  This includes UPS loads, US Mail loads, FedEx loads, materials for a factory that practices ‘just in time’ manufacturing, refrigerated loads including produce, and many more.  The driver is expected to deliver the load at the time specified, regardless of accidents, construction, bad weather, and unthinking drivers he or she may encounter along the way.   A company driver or team that is consistently late will sooner or later be looking for another company to drive for.  An owner-operator may find that his or her pay may be reduced or declined because the load wasn’t on time.

And adding to the pressure drivers are under are high value loads.  Imagine being responsible for a couple of million dollars worth of cell phones or computer servers or even Victoria’s Secret goods.  Hijacking is a constant problem for drivers and being involved in a hijacking can be dangerous or even fatal to the driver(s).  Not just another day at work.

Next time you are encounter a truck idling at a truck stop consider that the truck may be keeping your food safe while it’s on its way to you and not just burning diesel for the sake of wasting money and polluting the air.  What the driver is burning is money that would otherwise go into his or her own pocket or the pockets of his or her employer.  Idling a truck when it is stopped is always a considered decision.  Semis empty average perhaps 7.2 miles per gallon and pulling a load they may average closer to 6 mpg.  At more than $4 per gallon burning diesel for no compelling reason just isn’t done.

Annoyed at being stuck behind a semi struggling its way up hill as its speed drops lower and lower?  There may be 60,000 or more pounds on that rig and the driver may have a cushion of only an hour or two to make the delivery on time.  Honking your horn (which the driver probably can’t hear) and flashing your lights (which if you are far enough behind the rig) the driver most likely is very well aware of will NOT increase the horsepower of his engine one bit.  Be patient.  Everyone will be safer.

Accidents happen.  There are big rig drivers who make mistakes and are even careless about their driving.  Any company driver or driver who leases his or her own rig to a company who is caught overloaded, speeding, or is at fault in an accident will not be driving for the company any longer.  There is no tolerance for such behavior.  The vast majority of drivers have driven hundreds of thousands or even millions of miles safely and average more than 2,000 miles a week.  Can you say that?

Give a break to the men and women, often at considerable personal inconvenience to their private lives, who make the life you live possible.






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Gun Control

Let’s talk about gun control.

Say your purpose for owning a gun or guns is is self-protection. Everyone is entitled to protect themselves. So…

The group most at risk of death or injury from guns (3 to 4 times the general population) is black males between 16 and 30. years of age. Shouldn’t there be a concerted effort to provide that group with as many guns as possible so that they can protect themselves?  And then there are victims of domestic violence. They are more likely to die at the hands of their abuser if there are guns in the house. Shouldn’t these victims have their own guns and be well trained to use them? Self-protection should be available to everyone, particularly those at the most risk.

Guns “on the street.”  Where are they coming from?  OK, many of them are stolen. Shouldn’t gun owners be responsible for securing their guns against theft?  By the way, keeping a gun under your pillow, on your night stand, in the hall closet, or hung on the wall or over a door probably isn’t the most secure way to store your guns.  Speaking of securing your guns, it’s your responsibility to be sure that your child, the one who spends a whole lot of time in his or her room (maybe with a like minded friend) drawing pictures featuring gun violence and making lists of people he or she doesn’t like can’t get access to your guns. Same for your slightly daffy granny, the one who doesn’t like the neighbor kids trampling all over the flower beds and tells them that she’s going to fix them good some day.  And the crazy uncle who is always talking about ‘taking out the sons of bitches who are ruining his life.’  He shouldn’t know the combination to your gun safe, either.  Most of all, your young kids who may pick up a gun thinking mommy and daddy are always talking about how good guns are and tries to find out for themselves shouldn’t ever, ever be able to pick up a gun you’ve been cleaning and just left it there for a second while you answered the phone or went to the bathroom.

Another source of guns is the ‘black market.’  Where do these guns come from? Again, many have been stolen, but that can be addressed to a significant degree by ensuring that gun owners have secured their guns against theft.  Then there are guns that have never been legally owned by individuals.  The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, approved overwhelmingly by the UN in April 2013, aims to regulate global trade in conventional weapons.  This treaty is unlikely to be ratified by the United States as it will need 67 Senators to vote for it and not going to happen at the present time.  Some of these guns are smuggled into the United States, are sold on the black market, and end up on the street.  So why not ratify the treaty and make a effort to limit the number of guns coming into the US?  Don’t like this idea?  Buy American made guns, which are not subject to the treaty.

Why the resistance to universal background checks for ALL gun sales?  Do you really want just anyone to buy a gun advertised in the local paper without knowing if he or she has been threatening their neighbors or the local sheriff?  Afraid that you won’t pass a background check?  Well, then…

And speaking about universal regulations for guns, how about submitting the ballistics of all guns to a national registry?  That would make tracing a gun used in a crime a whole lot easier.  Don’t like that?  Why?  Don’t want the government to know that a gun you own or owned was used in a crime?  I’d sure like to know why.

Why do you own guns? Hunting? OK, do you have a hunting license?  No?  Then why do you have guns?  You like to target shoot?  Where do you do your target shooting?  So you belong to a club that has a range where you shoot.  No, you don’t belong to a club but you shoot on your own land?  Show us how safe it is. You are a responsible gun owner, aren’t you?  You are a collector?  OK, show us how you store your collection.

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Second Amendment

“…A well regulated Militia…”  A Militia is an armed force.  The President of the United States in the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.  By what stretch of the imagination is the Second Amendment designed to allow citizens to protect themselves from their OWN government?  Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it say that the “well regulated Militia,” the REASON for the Amendment in the first place, will be under the command of Joe “I have the most assault weapons so I am in charge” Wingnut, or anyone other than the Commander in Chief.  Anyone supposing that the Second Amendment was written to provide citizens with the means for armed insurrection is delusional, at best.  The ballot box is where those who don’t like the current government have their opportunity to voice their opinion.


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Politics and Willful Ignorance

What is wrong with the seemingly otherwise intelligent and educated people who blindly accept the (at best) distorted claims and often outright and deliberate lies promulgated by the far-right screamers? President Obama can’t both be a Nazi and a Commie – anyone who didn’t sleep through 20th Century history would know that they are mutually exclusive. Are so many of these people so bigoted that they are willing to believe anything at all about a man just because he is (half) black? How do they manage to believe that all the problems facing the United States are caused by a man who has been in office for a little over 18 months? Can’t they count? How have they so conveniently managed to forget who started the illegal war that is costing so many lives and so much money. Why is it so impossible for them to LOOK THINGS UP?  Instead they swallow whole lies, distortions and misleading stories from a so-called news outlet whose slogan is “Fair and Balanced” and is in truth neither.

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