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By now, many of you have probably already heard of the unfortunate Wisconsin shooting at the Sikh temple. The gunman Wade Page, who lost his military career due to a history with alcohol, has ties to North Carolina and held White supremacist views.

It’s difficult when these things happen and we learn from his friends that Page was “a very kind, very smart individual — loved his friends. One of those guys with a soft spot,” who had problems dealing with alcohol, was a loner, lost multiple jobs, and had his home in Fayetteville foreclosed on. And while that all paints him to be almost a sympathetic figure, a lot of people, including myself, are really just filled with frustration and anger both towards him and for him. Why would he see taking lives of others as a solution to any of his problems (if that was what it was)? And why do we perpetuate a racist and xenophobic society, one equally unkind to the socioeconomically distressed, that would drive him to such hateful actions?

And it’s in thinking about all these strong emotions that I find it amazing to see such a calm, peaceful, friendly, welcoming response from the Sikh community:

And it gives me hope.

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Even before the tragedy in Colorado last week, significant majorities of American gun owners (and even National Rifle Association members) supported tougher gun laws in the U.S.

As reported by the folks at Think Progress, both groups strongly support tougher laws, including requiring people to notify police when their firearms are stolen and placing modest regulations on “concealed carry” permit holders. The findings come on top of other broader surveys that show Americans generally support tougher laws even as they support a general right to bear arms.

Of course, all of this is very modest. No one is suggesting or proposing any kind of significant effort to fundamentally alter the American landscape when it comes to firearms. What it does show, however, is that most Americans (gun owners and non-gun owners alike) still harbor a lot of common sense on this issue.

They realize that there must be some limits on weapons ownership. Even the most ardent gun advocate must concede, for example, that the public has a right to place limits on private ownership of artillery guns, bazookas, and bombs if our society is to remain free. And they realize that it is possible to protect gun rights and reduce the carnage on our streets. Let’s hope this simple truth sinks into the heads of our political leaders sooner rather than later.  

 

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This is from a solid editorial in the Boston Globe that appeared today in the aftermath of last night’s tragedy in Colorado:

“It’s possible to view these episodes as a tragic but unavoidable consequence of Americans’ right to bear arms, just as auto accidents are a price of our freedom of movement. Yet carmakers and regulators work constantly, deploying new technologies and new laws, to limit the latter danger. If tighter gun laws aren’t the answer to mass shootings by deranged individuals, Americans have to take a hard look at the other possibilities. Frisking everyone who enters a movie theater, or an office park, or anywhere else large numbers of people might gather? Deploying, on domestic soil, the kind of ingenious tactics used against Al Qaeda terrorists? Surely the answer isn’t to simply tolerate these shootings.”

In other words, to those who oppose stricter gun laws: Please show us a plan that doesn’t involve arming every American up to their eyeballs. There must be an alternative.  We cannot continue to accept these kinds of disasters as unavoidable or inevitable.

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Call me old-fashioned, but I find both of the following stories sobering and depressing.

#1 – Protesters at the national political conventions this summer may well be armed to the teeth with concealed weapons.

#2- A Wake County School Board member running for State Auditor (that appears to be her on the left — the photo is from the Facebook page promoting the event)  thinks it’s a good idea to have a “shooting range fundraiser.”