Carl Shaw lives in the remote woods of Hur and often marches to the beat of a different drummer, from believing in an unpopular view of land ownership and taxation, owning only those things you need and use, opposing war and honoring the environment - to the gist of this article published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail about guns, an issue highly unpopular with West Virginians, even though all those issues could fall under the Epistles of Christ, which appear to be broadly ignored by the nation's evangelicals in favor of political control.

WV Legislators have introduced about a dozen bills each year provided by the NRA to expand gun ownership and carry, most recently to arm WV responders and allow concealed gun carry on the state university's and college. - Bob Weaver


By Carl Shaw

Seventeen people, most of them teenagers, died in a hail of gunfire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day. That is horrifying, and shocking. But it's not surprising.

Pictured are the 17 deceased victims - There are many
others - including the physically wounded, emotionally
wounded families, friends, neighbors, and their local
community. And those of us around the world, who can no
longer tolerate such outrageous and inhumane atrocity [DW]

It's not surprising because the nation's political leaders refuse to do anything about it, other than to offer up meaningless "thoughts and prayers." Those politicians are beholden to the National Rifle Association, the gun industry's trade association. Elected "leaders" quake in fear lest that group and others like it go on the attack against them.

It is unclear what, if anything, would be heinous enough to prompt these politicians to act. You would think that the wholesale slaughter of two dozen grade-school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 would have done it.

That slaughter brought a president to tears, and pushed Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to introduce a measure to strengthen background checks for people who wanted to buy guns. It wasn't much, but it was at least something.

It failed, because so many of Toomey's fellow Republicans, as well as a handful of cowardly Democrats, didn't think it was worth angering the NRA to save some kids' lives.

In the hours after Wednesday's shooting, NRA toadies were obsequiously rushing out to defend their masters. That includes U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who made the rounds on right-wing radio on Thursday morning to forestall any attempt to prevent the next school shooter from getting his hands on a gun.

Others rushed to say — as they do after mass shootings, coal mine disasters or preventable tragedies of any kind — that people shouldn't politicize the issue.

If wanting kids not to die is not a political issue, then we are happy to politicize it.

It's worth remembering that the current interpretation of the Second Amendment as affirming an individual's right to own a gun has only been around for a decade. To get there, the NRA and other pro-gun groups used their lobbying clout to win over a generation of politicians to what was a radical viewpoint.

With regard to those groups, former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger (who was no liberal) famously said the Second Amendment "has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word 'fraud,' on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."

(This is not meant to demonize all NRA members. The group started out as an organization for hunters and sportsmen, and many people joined and remain members for that reason. But this is not your granddad's NRA.

The NRA's leaders have thrown aside their sportsmen's goals in favor of another: To get as many guns, of all kinds, into the hands of as many people as possible, no matter the cost in human lives. They are merchants of death, literally.

Things are getting worse. Of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, seven have happened since 2007. The six most recent shootings on that list, starting with the Sandy Hook slaughter and ending with Wednesday's massacre, involved a killer whose primary weapon was an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

In one of the tiredest clichés around, pro-gun zealots will say, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." But gun deaths are more than 25 times more common in the United States than in other high-income countries. Is it that Americans are that much more violent than people everywhere else in the world? Or is it because in heated moments of conflict, more Americans are carrying guns?

Wednesday's 19-year-old gunman acquired his gun legally, according to authorities. As far as anyone knows, he wasn't motivated by any ideology. He just loved guns. His social media accounts make that obvious, authorities say — although they're not that different, if at all, from numerous Facebook pages of other gun fetishists. And it was just easy, far too easy, for him to get a gun.

Until that changes, there will be more parents like Denise Loughran, whose son and daughter attended Douglas High School. Hours after the shooting, she had found her son, Liam, a senior, but was still looking for her freshman daughter, Cara.

"Her phone must be in her backpack, and they made them drop their backpacks when they ran out," Loughran said to The Washington Post. "They ended up sending [my husband] to the hotel where they said they were taking the kids. But she's not there."

That's because Cara was killed by a young man with a gun inside her high school.

Unless those in power take action, there will be more like her.

It's hard to imagine a worse distinction for a country to hold. A recent study in the journal Health Affairs concluded that the United States has become "the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into."

Perhaps most damning, our country didn't used to hold this status. In the 1960s, the death rate of American children was slightly lower than in other affluent nations. But three factors have changed that:

1. Other countries have had far more success reducing infant mortality. The reasons aren't fully known, but the uneven American social safety net seems to play a role.

2. Other countries have more sharply reduced vehicle deaths, which are a particular scourge for teenagers. (The United States could easily do the same, as I explained in a recent column.)

3. The United States suffers from an epidemic of shooting deaths, which are nearly nonexistent elsewhere. The gun homicide rate in this country is 49 times higher than in other rich countries, according to the Health Affairs study.

By now, you've probably heard about the at least 17 people, mostly high-school students, murdered in South Florida yesterday. You've also probably heard a lot of substance-free condolences. Here's the truth: The teenagers killed in Florida yesterday had the misfortune of growing up — of trying to grow up — in a country that didn't care enough about their lives.

May we honor them with anger that does not cease until the unnecessary deaths of children do.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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