Humane as line in the sand: First try at a principles statement for a Humane Campaign

Right now there seems to be no common line of demarcation between good and bad, no universal and non-negotiable principle by which people can make judgements regarding policy, their own and those they endorse by participating in the decision making processes of their society.

While it may not be possible to apply always, any violation of a principle based in humanity is an act against humanity or, at least, a particular human being.  Using humanity as a line in the sand makes for a very good starting point for any discussion of what should be allowed, what should be done, what can be allowed and what can be.

War, throughout my life, has been justified by reference to some necessity or other and, as happens all too often after lives have been taken, human beings have suffered, and places destroyed, there is discussion over whether the war was worth the cost.  The default answer should be no because lives have been lost and people have suffered and the earth has been violated making that piece of earth a place lost for human beings and all of the creatures who, too, deserve humane treatment and who are essentials to the ecosystems that sustain all life on the planet.

War is always inhumane.  War should be eradicated.  When war is being discussed, the automatic response by a humane society should be no and an extremely high burden of proof demanded of advocates for going to war.  As discussions occur, they must include honest and empathetic consideration of who will suffer, what that suffering will and might be like, and whether or not those participating in the discussion would be willing to sacrifice themselves or their loved ones to such a cause.

Economics policy needs to be considered in a similar way.  So often those who suffer pain as a result of economic decisions are gladly sacrificed by others, those others too often deriving personal benefits from such decisions.  Again, those involved in the decision making have to be made to at least face those who will be sacrificed and explain to them why it is that it is good that such decision be made.  While it probably will not happen ever that those who decide to harm others first feel the kind of pain those sacrificed will endure, they should be forced to consider the decision from the perspective of those to whom they will do harm.

International relations have for a very long time been about strong nations taking advantage of the weaker and, in many cases the result has been inhumane treatment of the peoples of those weaker countries.  The humane doctrine would force decision makers to turn the treatment upon themselves and their loved ones, if not in the real world, at least through some kind of simulation.  Yes, this is about that “do onto others” idea, a very good one that has ever so much to do with the cause of humanity.

One cannot do onto others what they would not allow to have done to themselves and be considered humane.  If not humane, than inhumane and there are penalties for being such that need to be made considerably stronger.



Maybe one cannot talk sensibly to some people but it is, maybe, worth a try?

……………..And the beat goes on and I am trying not to feel completely beaten.

An exchange with fellow citizens.

Original post sent me:

Francis Wright

BREAKING NEWS: Seventy-Two Killed Resisting Gun Confiscation In Maryland.

National Guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed by elements of a Para-military extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.

Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals,” issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law and order.

The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons.

Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.

One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily.”

Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.

During a tense standoff in the Lexington town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists.

Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.

Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces over matched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.

Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops.

Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.

And this fellow Americans, is how the American Revolution began, April 20, 1775.

History. Study it, or repeat it.


Me:  So, you think that Adams, Revere, and Hancock would support public having AK 15s and similar weapons if they could voice their opinions today? Restriction on the kind of guns one can own and who can own a gun should be taken as a government assault on people and that people should be allowed to be armed with military style weapons so that, if they wish to, they can fight the established military? Interesting! Should there be allowed any kind of restriction on weapons citizens may possess. For instance, the government owns fighter planes and nuclear missiles that even AK15s are no defense against. Should people be allowed to possess weapons that would allow them to overcome these kinds of weapons?

John’s reply to above: At the time of the constitution’s penning, Americans owned the dominate rifle of the era: The Kentucky long rifle. Compared to a smooth bore British musket, it was a definitively dominate assault weapon, accurate at over twice the distance of standard infantry arms of other militaries. And the Founders saw no issue in the citizens keeping such a powerful rifle, in fact they were probably wanting it since it made their raised militias far better (since the Fed had to rely on state militia mobilizing to fight when called).

As for the classic straw man of civilians owning nukes and fighter jets and the such, heavy munitions were usually never part of a militia man’s arsenal. He was expected to muster upon the call, with rifle in hand, ready to defend against whatever threat posed with his platoon or company. If the modern platoon man carries an AR-15, then that be the weapon a civilian should be permitted to bear.

Indeed, the SCOTUS in the 1930’s said as much, when deciding whether the ban on short barreled shotguns could be regulated. The Miller decision held that because short barreled shotguns were not in common use by the military, they were dangerous and unusual and thus enjoyed no constitutional protections. If guns outside of military use are dangerous and unusual, then it stands to reason that only guns used by the military are acceptable for ownership.

And before you go down the whole “well we don’t form militias anymore” argument, then you need to go amend the constitution. SCOTUS has also affirmed the individual right in that regard as well. Yes, the constitution is a living document, but that merely means it can be as time goes on, not just simply meant to mean what you choose. It says what it says, and doesn’t say what it doesn’t. Good luck.

My reply to John: “If guns outside of military use are dangerous and unusual, then it stands to reason that only guns used by the military are acceptable for ownership.” I see this as terribly illogical, that because at one time weapons not used by the military were understood to be too dangerous for citizens to possess, then those they use should all be legal! Tell me this John, should there be any limitation on ownership of weapons that are used by the military. This may be in your mind a “straw man” argument but maybe it comes up regularly because good numbers of very sane people are fearful of their fellow citizens possessing the kind of weapons that can kill a very lot of people in very little time. I am not arguing with particulars here, I am dealing with a principle one that has to do with the kind of destructive force a citizen should be allowed to possess. Howitzers and mortars? Or the even more deadly types of weapons. If no limits, I would have to say that we are dealing with crazy talk. If reasonable limits, what would you and others who agree with you be willing to agree to? The Constitution says nowhere that we should behave stupidly but it does talk about creating a “more perfect union.” A nation in which every citizen has to arm him herself against every other citizen and the government that by the Constitution should be the people’s government should have no obligation to do what is not in the best interests of the people, the more perfect union one in which the government can be trusted to do the people’s bidding and the people are wise enough to demand that it do what is necessary for them to live a good and decent life.

……………..And the beat goes on and I am trying not to feel completely beaten.


To Gina with thanks for her response to my earlier posting

(Paragraph breaks missing because this was originally a posting to Gina’s Facebook response to a posting of mine.  I will provide her statement if she will give me permission to do so).

To put my thinking at this time and this place in the history of things, I am in a very uncomfortable state of mind because I am wondering a lot as to whether human beings can be humane enough to build a truly humane society, one that does focus on the welfare of human beings, that decides what it decides according to what information acquired and dealt with sensibly, rationally considered, points to being what is in the best interests of all human beings. Plans that are based in making some miserable for the sake of the many have to be considered what they are, disrespectful to those who will be sacrificed, that disrespect somehow explained for what it allows to be achieved and how it justifies the necessity of the some making or being made to make the sacrifice they will be asked or forced to make. Such respectful discussion would, I think, if humans are truly capable of humanity, keep to the absolute minimum causes that justify such sacrifices. Any policy or act that serves a few at the expense of many would automatically be discarded, the onus on the beneficiaries to clearly show how such decisions and the actions they would lead to really are somehow for the good of the whole. The conundrum that needs to be faced, one that has been used as an excuse for some being done harm to better the lives of others, is that in the long term, eventually, all or most will be served even if initially some suffer more than others, some suffer while others enjoy, the enjoyment predicated on that suffering. Trickle down economics is such a scheme and so is war, particularly of the kind the has been most often fought by this country, soldiers from the ranks of those who do not have so much dying to make possible or protect the interests of those who have much more. The promise of more later if you abide by the rules is a provenly untrustworthy predicate for accepting the conditions of life under any system and to trust that a better day is coming to you if you will only do what you are told is stupid in a world where so many times over the promises have not been kept. Yes, capitalism might, in some form, be able to tolerate humanity but the forms we know, have, and have experienced have never been humane, producing good numbers of losers who lose so others can gain. Capitalism, elements of it probably should be kept, for instance, individuals maintaining the right to do the kind of work they want to do to earn the ability to purchase the goods and services they desire to have. But, when the many work for others in order to have enough to survive and when the many cannot do what they want because they do not have the capital to do so, do not have the education they need to do so, have to work for others who benefit from their labor than they do, to put it bluntly, the system is fucked. And the system remains fucked because, as the case in our society, wealth buys power and the powerful use their power to maintain the system that serves THEM, you have destroyed democracy and you have created an underclass that is the majority, the individuals who make up that majority not wealthy enough and/or mot so well educated as to be able to do what capitalism in a free society promises them. What is so insidious about our current form of capitalism is that it not only sponsors inhumanity but celebrates it. Consider the bragging that goes on when the successful are able to “pull of the deal,” that deal so often “good” because of how bad it is for people on the wrong end of it! Add to this atmosphere of screw the other to get what I want the trick of making really good education available to a relative few and educating the relative few to become ever better at making deals! Again, there are books that have and should be written about why we are who we are today even though a whole lot of people do not like where they are. Suffice it to say that the decently good society can only happen if good people, the truly humane, do what is necessary to deal with what is bad about the present system. This would mean a great amount of sacrifice, participating in large scale economic boycotts, for example so the greedy are hurt where they very much do not want to be hurt, their styles of life severely affected by the actions of those who do so much to pay for their big ticket pleasures. Taking money away from those who buy power with wealth is essential to restoring governance by the people and not just by some. Destroying the wealth buys power equation is also something that must happen but it will not happen if the wealthy have the power to override the people. This is what I understand must be done and this is what I have reason to believe at this point in my life will not happen. My best hope is that I am wrong about the condition of our public will and our public intelligence. Proving me wrong on this would allow me to experience the greatest pleasure in my life.

Go to Hell Milton Friedman

This might go long so change channels if you do not want to spend the time. I have sent a lot of messages recently concerning the massacre of innocents at the high school in Parkland, Florida and I have tried to do everything I can to support the amazing way in which groups of students have responded, with pushback amidst the sorrow.  I am amazed at how they have turned their righteous anger into action against who and what they understand, correctly in part, to be the cause of their misery. I say “in part” because what they experienced and what caused their moment of agony is really our preference for inhumanity over humanity.  We, the vast majority of us, accept as a necessary part of our world the slaughter of other human beings be it from war or crime or hunger or lack of clean water or adequate sanitation.  We not only tolerate it but pay for it, are entertained by it in the movies we watch to be made happy.  Sorry to have to tell you but Star Wars is about perpetual war, through the eons, brutality and death never ceasing.  We are inured and fascinated but never so much appalled as to reflect on how inhuman we are and how much better we are becoming at just letting it go or saturating ourselves until so full that we cannot be sensitive, least compassionate, for those who are the tragic victims of the violence we now take for granted as a permanent feature of our existence and our children’s.


Most know, I think, that what happened in Parkland, Florida and at Sandy Hook Elementary School, at Columbine not so very long ago, at a theater in Colorado, at a night club in Orlando, on a concert field in Las Vegas, has as much to do with money as anything else.  Yes, and of course, the murderers were in a crazed state when they carried out mass slaughter of human beings and, yes, in some instances, more could have been done to prevent from happening what happened.  But realistically, not much at all could have been done because the craziness of those who killed was hardly possible to detect until the insanity was shown in their actions.  Yes, better gun registration with meaningful background checks might have, for an added day or two or three kept military grade weapons out of the hands of the shooters.  But, as everyone who is half-way sane knows, if one really wants to get such a weapon of destruction, he or she will find a way to get one because they are ever so readily available.


The sane thing for a sane society to do would be to do what is needed to make impossible for one who has the potential for insanity, to go insane, to carry out insane acts to have such weapons.  We do know that there are people who seem sane who are not really sane and we know that people who are truly sane can lapse into moments of insanity without hardly a sign of potential for this before they decide to do something insane.  People who know the shooters, often tell us that they can’t believe that the person they knew could or ever would act in such a way.


Really, the sane and possible to enact solution is to do what is necessary to keep these weapons out of the hands of the insane and the potentially without a moment’s notice turned insane.  And, while it is true that we cannot collect all semi-automatic and automatic weapons that exist, we can reduce the numbers of such weapons available by forbidding their sale, this by law, by laws that are bound to be broken, but, as with other laws, do have an effect on minimizing whatever it is that they exist to outlaw or restrict.  The argument that those who are willing to break laws will do or get what the law is intend keep them from doing or getting is an argument for lawlessness.


In a sense, as pertains to guns, we currently live in a state of lawlessness because there are not adequate laws to make for conditions that allow sensible people to live in a sensible society.  And sensible people in this society have given into, have come to accept a as sensible that which, rationally speaking, is insane and this insanity that has become acceptable is broader in scope than being solely about guns or poverty or war.  It is acceptance of basic premises that are made irrefutable by reference to their prevalence, by their presence over so long a span of time that they seem to be correct because they are all that can, realistically be or be possible.


We have learned to accept that we are bound in by certain parameters and, even if life within these bounds is ridiculous in ways or altogether, it is the life we will live because it is understood to be the only life we possibly can live.


To know that these parameters are artificial and of our own making is devastating to conceive even though we may know that this is ultimately the truth.  The comfort of a good many is secured by being ignorant of such truth, ignorant by choice quite often because one wishes to be comfortable and too, secure in knowing that he or she acts righteously, even though it is righteousness that only can stand as such within the absurd parameters accepted as the actual and only possible reality available.  Such limited thinking—to think otherwise would be to think outside the bounds of the accepted rationality—in some instances, reason to be considered insane.  To even suggest as a goal, a world without war, for instance, is to risk being thought not right in one’s thinking, in one’s perception of reality.


So, I will say what I know too many will consider ideas of a person unbalanced, out of sync with reality, that the true and real cause for the inhumane acts that we are made uncomfortable with on occasion, that we find ways to work through our around to recover our balance, is an economic system that people need to realize is an, if not the, dominant factor affecting in all facets of life, the health of the planet included, is an economic system that is not only tolerated but touted by most citizens of our society as the best and best possible, an economic system that by its very nature necessitates inhumanity and makes allowable and even good the degradation of mass numbers of human beings and the Earth upon which they live.


If we, the people of this Earth will not be so brave as to look the monster in the eye and define it properly for what it is, then to hell with us all for we will have accepted for ourselves this hell of our own making.  We will have accepted that for the good of some it is right to sacrifice others, be it by war, by starvation, by lack of proper health care, by crime, by corruption, by whatever it is that comes with the necessity of bettering ourselves by being better at it than them.  If this sounds like a condemnation of competition, you hear right for it is.  Competition is healthy, it drives us to greatness, it pushes us to strive, to work harder, to persist.  Truth be told, there exist healthy competitions but, truth be told, capitalism does not sponsor such.  It sponsors a kind of completion by which those who lose are made miserable made to suffer miserable deaths.  Such has been made widely acceptable, our consciences made unconscionable by our acceptance of the lie that capitalism is a force of good (to hell with you Milton Friedman) when it is horrible to so many people.  Remember that, that it has been horrible to many, very many people, and accepted by so many who have been the beneficiaries of their misery.


This is not to say that capitalism is inherently or necessarily evil, though I am still uncertain as to whether such may be true.  It is to say that in its present form, in the form it was shaped into at inception, capitalism is based in predation, to exist there must be prey and predator and more, and more than ever now, are prey and, within systems of government, the predator made not only insanely powerful, but by states’ decree honorable.  Consider those held up in our modern day societies as successful, lauded in our schools and every other venue where deeds are discussed and value asserted.  Are these most often humanitarians, people who are ultimately guided in their humanity?  Or are those of them who are considered humanitarians ultimately guided by their greed, successful enough in their predatory endeavors to give up a little to pay for a good name?


The owner of the corporation that makes the AR 15 probably gives something to charity.  The owner of the United Fruit Company that in a very real way made slaves of the people of numerous Latin American countries, I have read, gave enough to be applauded for his charity and humanity.  Didn’t John D. Rockefeller play a role in the degradation of foreign peoples in foreign lands.  Didn’t too many an American soldier, often drawn from the ranks of the poor and ‘disadvantaged’ fight die in wars they for the sake of wealthy people responsible for the low wages they received for the hard work they were forced to do to stay alive?  Yes, these are but a few examples.  But there are more and you and I have to decided how many it takes to show that the balance is weighted against the goodness of capitalism and for the misery it causes.  THE PEOPLE WHO DIED IN AND IN AND FROM SLAVERY IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND BY EUROPEANS WHO TRADED IN PEOPLE IN AFRICA AND AROUND THE WORLD.  THE PEOPLE WHO DIED FIGHTING IN VIETNAM DIED BECAUSE OF CAPITALISM.  THE PEOPLE WHO DIED TRYING TO SAVE DEMOCRACY IN IRAN DIED BECAUSE OF CAPITALISM.  THE PEOPLE WHO DIED FIGHTING FOR TO GIVE THEMSELVES A DECENT LIFE IN GUATAMALA AND CHILE AND EQUADOR AND BOLIVIA AND ARGENTINA AND, YES, IN CUBA AND VENEZUELA, DIED FIGHTING AGAINST THE U.S. AND THE SAME FORM OF CAPITALISM THAT PRODUCED THE GUNS THAT KILLED THE PEOPLE WHO DIED AT THE PULSE AND AT THE COLORADO THEATER AND AT COLUMBINE AND ON THE LAS VEGAS STRIP AND AT SANDY HOOK AND IN A HIGH SCHOOL IN PARKLAND, FLORIDA.


We do not necessarily have to abolish capitalism but we certainly do need to think an awful lot about what it has wrought and what we can do to insure that whatever is bad in it and about it be gotten rid of, as soon as possible, if not for any other reason as to do what is right by our children.

Invitation for Conversation



The site has a long list of sister marches.


I will be in DC from March 22 until the 25th. If anyone would like to meet up for good conversation, let me know. If there are a few (or many) of us, I will make arrangements for a place to chat. Do support the students! They are now expecting 500,000 in DC alone and have raised close to $2,000,000. I will be staying at Crystal City in Arlington so if you are nearby, let me know and we can chat over coffee, wine, or beer.

Wow! A conversation.

Response on FB to comments in my last post:
Stephen, I agree with almost all your observations with one exception. There are answers and ways forward if we choose to live the life we strive for. We must turn our ideas into practice. It’s no longer sufficient to discuss what’s wrong. Each one of us that see a better way to organize a society, has to do something to move our country and world in that direction during the short time we are on this planet and not in it. I think it starts with thinking and acting with the collective good as the goal. With our cultural lean toward individualism, we are seeing the commons diminished and degraded. We, as a people, have lost the ability to recognize our connection to all life on this planet. The spiritual oneness is lacking and hard to find.
My Response:
Stephen Lafer
Stephen Lafer I do say by the end that when things are/seem impossible that is not reason to stop looking for ways to make the impossible the new possible. The task ahead is not about guns and school murders in mass. It is about a society in which the political system has come to be fashioned so that such things are allowable, even regularized as have been other forms of violence and bad behavior-war, fraud, incredible wealth for some and very little for some others and the resulting forms of poverty, use of wealth to gain political power over others in a nation that is supposed to be a democratic one, jobs that pay too little, rip-off advertising, rip-off leaders, and so on and a population not so well educated as to know what is wrong and even less about what to do to make things better. The solutions to underlying problems, the means for bringing about meaningful change have much, I think, to do with building educational programs dedicated to helping Americans to know how to think for themselves, to desire to study well enough what is going around them and what is affecting them directly so they know what to do something about and so they know what to do about it. That is a most difficult task, seemingly impossible but doable if there is the will to really shake things up. In that shake-up, of course, all will have to give up something but, if they do, it is very possible they will get something better, a smart country dedicated to the humane treatment of all.

Why read so much? It may help us get somewhere!

A guy I know through Facebook now (we were classmates in elementary school) offered the following post on Facebook.  My reply follows.

David Posted this:

A sobering view on guns and such by Marc Cooper :

“Good for the kids. Better to see them speaking out on this than, say., Matt Damon. My followers know I have been very critical of the “gun safety” movement but not because I am a second amendment die hard ( I am not) nor because shooting is a hobby of mine. I am critical because it is politically unhinged and until now has failed miserably.

So, you might ask, what am I FOR when it comes to this issue. I will answer in descending order of political viability.

Best remedies: An urban Marshall Plan that provides education, jobs and safety to urban cores that have been abandoned and where most gun homicides take place. This also requires a bolstering and tripling of the so called safety net. NONE of this is going to happen because nobody gives a shit about poor people or kids who become violent gangbangers.

Wholesale legalization and regulation of drugs that provide support and safe haven for addicts thereby reducing much of the lethal gang violence over turf. NONE of this will happen.

Serious educational and community mental health intervention. In case you have not noticed this is a highly neurotic and tense society where depression and alienation are commonplace and wherein 2/3 of the population are quietly or loudly dependent on psychoactive drugs. NOT going to happen.

To accomplish the above we would need to recognize that we are in an Empire in decline and even declining empires are propped up by military might and spending to the continuing degradation of civil society. In case you have not noticed our community, civil, family and political institutions are in a continuing downward slide thereby generating an unknown number of very depressed, violent and dangerous people by the hour. NO sign this is about to be reversed as we have believe we are indispensable and exceptional.

Well, we are… in the wrong way. That is why comparing us to Japan, Australia or even the UK (that has mostly abandoned its empire) is absurd, The levels of social tension, alienation, everyday violence and overall decline are much sharper than in those more peaceful countries.

Second-best remedies: a national gun registry. NOT gonna happen in your lifetime. Confiscation of weapons from anybody who has been convicted of any violent crime including misdemeanors. That means a very invasive measure by law enforcement that would follow all courtroom convictions. I’ not very comfortable giving the state that much power, but in any case, NOT going to happen in our lifetime.

Reversal of current restrictions to properly audit licensed gun dealers who currently have lax supervision. This is NOT going to happen except, perhaps, on a very reduced scale.

Serious research by the CDC on the CAUSES and effects of gun violence. There is minimal funding for this already but there has been no political will by CDC mgmt to go forward. Probably with good reason as the Republican congress would most likely cut all funding if suck work began.

Third best remedies: The feds must get their act together on making criminal background checks watertight. Currently it is more or less a joke. Maybe this will happen. Real universal background checks on EVERY gun sale. Some states are closer than this than others. In California, for example, private gun sales must go through a licensed dealer and the buyer must pass the background check. In most states this is not the case. I would argue that even transfer from one family member to another would require the same check. Tighter background checks are probably coming but not on most private sales and not at all on family transfers, Even if that were to magically occur it would be replaced by a black market. Sorry but true. Still, tougher background checks please.

Concealed carry which is now under jurisdiction of state and county governments is far too lax. Background checks and much more training for CCW’s should be in place. Currently, the trend is the opposite.

Worst remedies. Indeed what I would call jacking off: any call to repeal to the 2nd amendment. Politically, absolutely impossible whatever your view. Forty percent of American households and 60 percent of rural households have guns. Get real. Moaning about Japan and Australia. Pointless and in the case of Australia not really true. Banning “assault weapons” or any other equipment as all of it is already in circulation in the millions and, in any case, account for a tiny percentage of killings. A sei experienced shooter with a run of the mill .45 or 9mm handgun can crank out 50-80 shots per minute just as easily as from an AR. I have no particular love for AR’s but they are a distraction and a bogeyman. The PRIMARY problem arising from gun violence are small, cheap handguns. If you start banning semi auto handguns you have essentially abolished the second amendment and you will turn millions virulently against you.

That brings to me to my final point: the absolute worst thing you can do to promote any sort of gun control is to continue to stigmatize and ostracize current gun owners. Most of them know how to safely handle weapons much better than non owners and while some are nutty, that is the case also among every political faction in America. The NRA has only 4 million members among maybe 100 million or more people in gun owning families. Assuming that anybody who owns guns is an NRA nut job is equivalent to saying that anybody who pulls the lever for Democrats is responsible for the corruption and Big Money that dominates the party leadership. THERE WILL BE NO SIGNIFICANT REFORMS WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT BUY IN FROM THE TENS OF MILLIONS WHO OWN GUNS. The NRA and gun extremists best thrive is an us versus them environment and, sorry, most urban liberals are as guilty of that stigmitization as are the board members of the NRA. No common ground means NO forward movement.

Those are my proposals. The most important ones being the ones I listed first and that will never happen. Indeed, I do not believe that any other reforms will have any real impact on gun violence. That does not mean I am not willing to give them a chance — so long as there is some buy in. I am pessimistic about lowering gun violence not because I secretly worry that somebody is going to seize any of my guns. I am skeptical and pessimistic because I see gun violence not as a cause of social decay but rather as a symptom of what has always been a violent society currently in the throes of aggravated and deepening disruption. When half the country is doped up, when two jobs won’t pay the mortgage, when black youth see no future, when society has stopped caring about the bottom 2/3 of the population and with 350 million guns in circulation, you gotta be dreaming that much of the above is going to make much difference. There are more than enough head cases out there and more than enough weaponry out there for decades to come that only a fool would expect an end to mass killings. And as ghastly and horrifying as school and church shootings are, and they are, they UNFORTUNATELY only the spectacular punctuation of a daily grind of of anonymous smaller scale homicides that should be seen for what they are: the social fabric and the body politic is running a 104 degree temperature and band aids are not gonna work. The underlying illness is a a great republic that has been decimated by the glories and cost of empire.

Liberals play a special role in this mess because better than anybody they should know the value of seeking out root causes of disease and not just dance around the symptoms. Look no further than Mexico where even Jesus Christ can’t legally buy a gun. Yet somehow some 100,000 people have been shot to death in the last handful of years. The problem isn’t gun control in Mexico… it’s rather a dysfunctional society. You get it? Adios.”

Me to Cooper through David

I appreciate the thoughtfulness here and the willingness to explain yourself at length on this matter. I see much sense here and do not like it much that such good sense produces the kind of viable alternatives you have listed. Indeed, this is a very sad and sick society and the real fixes are to be found in major adjustments to the way we live and the way we think and, as you say, the likelihood of a meaningful shift toward enlightenment is highly unlikely in our lifetimes. On the other hand, the nurturing of a more thoughtful citizenry should not be a goal that we abandon. The beginning of the Constitution recognizes that democracy is always a work in progress, the always present goal of a real democracy, a more perfect union. We haven’t spent much time or money on bettering ourselves on fronts other than the economic and technological because we all about an economic system that is all about individuals making money . It seems that there is not enough money to be made from helping people grow smarter and more able to govern themselves sensibly (there is some, obviously, or there wouldn’t be the move to privatize education) and, sensible self-government would probably cause some who benefit from the current way we live to lose some of their wealth and the power they buy with it. I could say much about each of the specifics you mention but I will do that over time in my space. Suffice to say here that the gun situation is a crisis of major proportions because, as you say, there are too many guns circulating and still being pumped into the society to hope to get control over who possesses them. It is beyond comprehension but, yet, a truth we live by, that powerful assault weapons are going to be in circulation for a long time to come, if not forever unless we allow for a police state of sorts that would make possible mass confiscation. I still believe there should be extremely strict rules governing who may possess such artillery. My preference would be that no civilian be allowed, under law, to possess such firearms, that, despite the fact that they are “out there” everything possible within the bounds of what is democratically right and proper, be done to collect the ones that are out there and, too, that no more be commercially available. I would also really like it to happen that gun violence in entertainment be sensibly curtailed so that violent death is not treated as a treat but as something (duh) destructive, ugly, and intolerable. We have inured people to the pain and suffering that goes along with people, whoever they are, being blown up and blown away. This should not happen by force, by force of law, but by the fucking idiots in the film and television industries who are willing to put the stuff out there to earn dollars without taking responsibility–or being made responsible by a public of decent people (can we hope for such) for their role in the promotion of debauchery as glorious fun. In regard to David Frieland, I agree that there is no solution to be found in Sacks’ analysis and this is a virtue as the point with which we have to wrestle, as hard as it is to recognize the validity of such, is that there is no solution or, more to the point, no solution that is viable. What we really need to get to where we should be as a decent society is impossible to do because of who we now are in relation to where we should and need to be. That said, because something appears to most sensible people to be impossible is no good reason not to try and do it, making it possible by changing the rules by which we think and by which we act and by which we behave. By the way, THIS IS THE KIND OF TALK WE NEED TO BE TALKING IF THERE IS ANY POSSIBILITY OF MOVING EVEN THE SLIGHTEST INCREMENT TOWARD A STATE OF SANITY. THANKS DAVID!