5/19/16 Thursday

I thought it was time for a lighter toned subject. I will invariably alternate between serious subject matter and more fun topics. As life is about balance. No one can be serious or silly all the time. I’m a big fan of many TV shows and books. And as such, I love to write about my favorite characters. While there is very little chance of being commissioned to write licensed media tie-in fiction, it is probably one of the most fun types of things to write. Fanfiction, for those of you who do not know, is when you write a short story or some other form of work based on the characters and universes created by someone else. These types of stories are also really easy to write, as the characters have already been developed, you already know how they behave, how they speak, you just have to come up with some clever adventure for them to go on.

And when it comes to Sci-Fi and supernatural-based fiction the sky is pretty much the limit. People do write anachronistic crossover fanfiction as well as alternate universe stories. If you don’t like what happened at the end of Lost, then change it. Or if your favorite show was cancelled and ended on a cliffhanger, write the ending yourself. I’ve actually decided that I’m going to do that for one of my favorite shows. I’m confident that I can write a conclusion to wrap things up that will be very satisfying, if not for a wider audience, at least for me and those that read it on FanFiction.net.

Tell me if there’s any show that you’d love to read or write about? Have you or anyone you know done this sort of writing? Let me know either in the comments or by e-mail: gothwriter111@gmail.com.


A Call to Arms!

6/25/16 Saturday

In the wake of so many mass shootings as a result of violent gun users, these irresponsible, terror-inducing, fear mongers, and not law abiding citizens at all, I decided to delve a little deeper into just what is involved when it comes to owning and buying a gun, as well as the statistics on gun violence and accidental shootings. I was raised in WV. A place that is very pro-2nd amendment. My grandfather had a shot gun and my mother had a pistol. While I have only known law-abiding citizens with guns, I have friends who have had the opposite experience, ones for whom the only guns they’ve seen were in the hands of criminals. I think that’s a shame, as much of our experience is what shapes our views on a particular topic and with something as touchy as guns and the right to buy/own one, whether concealed or not, it’s a big debate. My stance is this: I look at guns, collecting, owning, and using them, as a hobby like any other hobby (i.e. fishing, golf, etc.) and to that end believe that everyone has the right to partake in that which interests him/her. However, I do believe, since guns are dangerous and potentially deadly, there should be restrictions and requirements in place to A.) keep guns out of the hands of criminals, violent offenders, and those that wish to or are planning to do harm and B.) ensure that we are knowledgeable, responsible, sane, and safe regarding their use. I’m not a firearm enthusiast by any means, never got into them despite where I grew up.

I can remember going to a local store, it may have been Kmart, honestly I don’t remember, and hanging out in the gun section. I haven’t seen a “gun department” in a long while. But the gun section was right next to the fishing rod section, it was totally normal. Not something that was just for rednecks or survivalist types, just everyday citizens could go up to the counter and see a gun. Many gun enthusiasts heartily quote the 2nd amendment when gun control advocates suggest stricter requirements and restrictions regarding gun purchase and ownership.

The 2nd Amendment’s actual text:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The wording, meaning, and intent of this simple statement has been debated and re-interpreted many times over the last two hundred years. And many have wondered if it’s even relevant in modern times given its original intent. In the years after the War of Independence many of the states began to draft many of their own constitutions individually. They wanted a new nation, a nation that was wholly separate from the tyrannical monarchy of Britain. Many people in that time, before and even after the Revolutionary War, were afraid of tyranny and looked at the right to bear arms by each state, as well as its individuals, as a go-to measure in case they were called upon to stand in as a militia or a makeshift army. It was originally a means of protecting themselves against potential oppression. In that context, and for those times, it is understandable that they would need something that would, not only grant their citizens a new sort of freedom, but ensure that everyone’s liberties were protected. Our founding fathers probably never imagined that their simple words would inspire such passionate debate.

So I was wondering about the gun laws, restrictions, or lack thereof in this day and age, and it occurs to me, not being a firearm enthusiast myself, that I know very little of what is actually required to own a gun anywhere. My mother never took her gun anywhere, it just stayed in its box. But I knew from very early on that it wasn’t a toy. She let me hold it when I was about 12 or so. That’s a rite of passage, for some kids, if they live somewhere remote enough. Some get to even do a bit of target practice. My mom said she’d have let me if we’d lived in a more rural an area, but she was too afraid to allow me to given that we lived in a residential area with many neighbors and too many things could go wrong. A very responsible gun owner decision on her part. She wanted to take me somewhere much more remote where I couldn’t accidentally shoot a person or pet. I was honestly relieved, as I didn’t really feel all that interested in handling it any further. I’ve still never fired a gun to this day. Although I’ve read that it is a thrill and rush to fire one and it releases endorphins. But gun shooting doesn’t work like it does on television. They’re powerful little machines. Yes it is essentially a machine. Something which shouldn’t be played with, mishandled, or handled while under the influence.

So let’s see what I found out about guns and responsible gun ownership. I now reside in the Garden State, New Jersey, which happens to have some of the strictest gun laws in the country. For instance, here, a BB gun is considered a real firearm and you must have a license/permit to have one as well. If one is found in your possession and it is unregistered you will be arrested. Period. And the process by which one must obtain a handgun is pretty intense. One of the things you must provide is a good reason why you need a concealed handgun in the first place. They also require that you can demonstrate that you know how to actually use the gun. That was one of my 2nd biggest questions in my mind, and perhaps should be for others as well, as far as gun ownership goes. Do they know what they’re doing? Can they handle a gun? Do they know about its recoil? Guns on TV don’t recoil because they are firing blanks or aren’t real guns, they’re props for film purposes. Can they clean it without shooting themselves in the foot? I know some gun enthusiasts would argue why would someone who didn’t know how to use a gun want, or even buy one? Lots of people do lots of things out of desperation. You also have to have a mental health background check in the state of NJ. Gun permits from outside NJ are not accepted. They must all be registered here. But there are several states that accept NJ permits and licenses.

I decided to take a look at upcoming gun shows for my state:

Looks like there aren’t any gun shows coming up in my state of residence. Let’s check NY shall we?

There are a lot of gun shows coming up in NY it seems. Now if my finances would allow, I’d go a step further and actually check one out, but as it stands, I’ve got to stick to being a lurker on the internet. I’d be very curious as to the atmosphere and overall energy of a gun show. I’ve been to other types of shows. Most notably the New York International Auto Show held at the Javits Center in NYC. I wonder why none of the gun shows are held there? Maybe people in the city aren’t as into guns as suburban dwellers?

NYC’s process is long, tedious, and a bit expensive. The expense and extremely long wait time could deter people from buying a handgun out of anger or revenge.

I see here many long wait times and tedious forms and background checks, but few people are addressing the issue of gun responsibility. It doesn’t matter whether you want to shoot skeet or protect your home or you just collect guns because you think they’re pretty. You should have lessons, go to a shooting range. I have to have a license that says that I can drive a car. They won’t let me drive an automobile without a license and with a learner’s permit I must be in the presence of a person who has a valid license. A car is a deadly machine, a gun is a deadly machine. Of course this is the conundrum, the criminals that are shooting people are a major part of the problem, as well as the rampage killers who somehow manage to get ahold of weapons and kill a large amount of people all at once.

Connecticut is open carry. CT gun laws. But they urge you to not carry it out in the open in a place where it may alarm people. Can’t imagine why that is…

So in what state is it easiest to buy a gun? According to Newsmax, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, and New Mexico do not require a permit to purchase a gun, only to carry a concealed firearm. What seems to be lacking here is any sort of standard in conditions, restrictions, and or requirements.

Here are the states with the strictest gun laws. The paperwork required is often complicated and tedious to fill out.

Here is a good explanation as to the difference between assault weapons and the semi-automatics. These are the ones that most mass shooters seem to be using. Since this debate is often centered around gun control advocates using the term “assault weapons” interchangeably with the actual machine guns which are capable of rapid fire, whereas semiautomatic rifles are fire per trigger pull. You have to pull the trigger again to make it shoot again. So for the sake of argument I’m refraining from using the term “assault weapon” to describe a semi-automatic rifle as many of my fellow liberals have done. I’m addressing guns in general: owning, purchasing, laws to obtain them, etc. No sensible person is suggesting that anyone needs or could reasonably use a machine gun capable of rapid fire. It is for soldiers with military training, not the general public.

Mother Jones seems to have addressed various loopholes in the legal requirements that we have in place regarding background checks and obtaining a firearm. It’s somewhat surprising and alarming that the BATF doesn’t keep track of online gun sales, as of this article, which was published in 2013. And as of this article many people have managed to skirt the background check requirement by buying a gun online.

So obtaining a gun, as we’ve seen, can be pretty easy in many places. So let’s see how our violence and statistics as a result of those laws plays out throughout the U.S.A. I’ve seen several people suggest, well outright say, that the gun violence is actually worse in the places with the most strict gun laws. Not according to the Brady ranking report. It’s the opposite. Perhaps they’re considering overall crime, as it relates to violence in an urban environment. A place that is densely populated will often be more violent and have more crime in general. But to say that there is more gun violence as a result of gun restrictions is unfair and unfounded. Brady state rankings of gun violence. You can see a big correlation between the states with the strictest gun laws and less gun-related deaths. This is statistical evidence based on a 2013 study.

Many of the gun enthusiasts argue that a so-called CDC1 study dealing with gun violence didn’t find any such correlation, but it could be argued that that study was incomplete and they were treading carefully politically speaking as there has been much debate for the CDC even being allowed to do any studies related to this matter. You can read more about that here. The argument is that the CDC is there to research diseases, while that is true, why ban them from doing it at all? Why not have another entity do the research? While the ban has been lifted, it is still a controversial subject and one of seemingly political motivation. It seems that even the CDC is not immune (pardon the pun) to having to tiptoe around politics.

They don’t have the funds to undertake such a study according to The Washington Post. Then if more study is needed, find someone else who can and will do the study to the satisfaction of both sides of the argument. Statistics can be, and often are, skewed at times to give us the perceived results that the person writing wishes to convey. So the more a subject is studied, by impartial parties, the more we can understand said subject, as well as the correlations and causations therein.

There seems to be a reluctance on the part of the gun enthusiasts to allow any funding for the research to gather more data regarding gun violence, and a push from the liberal, gun-control constituency for transparency regarding gun violence and safety. What there needs to be is a sit-down agreed upon resolution to this problem. No one is arguing that the 2nd amendment is there. No one has said that the government should take away anyone’s legally owned guns. There has never been any suggestion of taking away everyone’s guns. The background checks and other restrictive safety measures are meant to keep all of us safe, gun enthusiasts and non-gun enthusiasts, not to impede your ability to legally own a gun as a law abiding citizen.

With the added stress and worry about accidental shootings, a woman who intended to make a safer gun, was threatened and intimidated by other gun enthusiasts. You can disagree with her or dislike her product and/or idea, but to publicly humiliate her is uncalled for. They’re not gun enthusiasts, they’re just bullies, plain and simple. Treating a fellow American who is just looking out for the safety of others like herself as well as them is egregious behavior. Her interests were to come up with a solution that would protect all of us, not just those that would do us harm but those who could take our gun away. It would make it so only the owner could fire the gun. Even though I’m not a gun enthusiast, that sounds like a pretty cool gun.

It turns out the smart gun wasn’t successful being sold here in the US, there were too many concerns as to the technology’s reliability. If it fails when you need it, then you’d be in big trouble. They need to greatly improve on this technology to make it comfortable, reliable, as well as convenient for the gun owners. Remember conservatives, it isn’t all gun rights that most gun control advocates want to remove, but the ability to harm ourselves and each other, whether accidentally or intentionally. This sounds like a good remedy for accidental shootings, if for no other reason. No kids getting a hold of it and even if they did they wouldn’t be able to fire. How many accidental shootings occur because no matter how much gun safety people have knowledge of, we are all human and make mistakes? This could put a stop to those sorts of mistakes and injuries. If you don’t believe Daily Kos, then here’s a fact sheet with some more statistics involving accidental gun shootings and fatalities. And more recent info from the Gun Violence Archive.

This venture has been very illuminating. In researching for this article, I found a lot of interesting facts and information, as well as statistics. I’m probably most stricken by the lack of regularity, as well as the countless stories of accidental shootings as a result of gun recklessness and negligence. In the end I found that the laws regarding guns and/or their control or restrictions to be very diverse and scattered. The rules regarding the requirements for gun ownership are so varied that it isn’t any wonder that people are confused, confounded, as well as even angered over them. Simply having a constitutional right to something isn’t enough, when it comes to something that is dangerous, one must be accountable for the use, handling, and responsibility that comes with an interest like firearms. I’m not anti-gun, nor am I anti-individual rights, very much pro-rights as it happens. I believe that we need intelligent, fair-minded, reasonable, and rational discourse between entities like the NRA and gun control advocates to truly resolve matters like this. As well as to find a solution that is best for everyone, both gun enthusiasts and non-gun owners alike.

Friends, fellow Americans, both liberal and conservative, as well as in between, I’ve attempted to address this issue from a place of reason and balance, while still informing you of my stance. Let me know how I did. For more information about gun ownership, please see the following for the rules of your state regarding handgun laws: If you choose to own a gun, be a responsible gun owner, be a law abiding citizen:

  • · Hand Gun Law
  • · NRA – Offers a pretty clear & concise drop down menu of states & the type of gun carry laws for each
  • · Gun Safety Rules – Thanks once again to the NRA for this sound advice. Always follow these safety rules! Always!
  • · Instructions & Courses – Learn before you own
  • · Gun Laws General, first section
  • · 10 Pro-Gun Myths – A fun little fact-filled list of things that a lot of gun-enthusiasts mistakenly believe, for some reason

OK tell me what you think about gun laws. Should they be federalized? Should each state be more responsible in their efforts to control who gets to purchase a gun? And let me know if I got a fact or statistic wrong, I’ll happily edit and update, as I want this to be as factual and helpful as possible. Hit me up in the comments with some noise. Please be civil, not just to me, but to one another as well.

CDC Gun Violence “Study”1

*Personal attacks will not be tolerated. All comments are moderated.