Are Guns Essentials To Being Safe?

It’s no secret by now that ever since most of us are being sheltered in place there has been a run on gun stores throughout the country. A couple a miles from my home, for instance, the line in front of a gun store went around the block. Gun right activists and lobbying groups explain it as part of the essential services which attend to survival. If I understand their argument, it is not enough to have groceries one must also have a gun in order to feel safe. In fact some of these groups have petitioned the White House and other parts of the federal government to declare gun stores essential businesses not subject to closure during the current shutdowns. Different states have applied different standards, Pennsylvania has upheld the right to bear arms, so has New Mexico. In California the governor has delegated the power to local sheriffs and in several counties gun shops have been closed.

It ought to be predictable that gun rights groups would link guns with being essential and with safety, it is nevertheless disturbing. The issue of safety is of course moot, because to someone like me safety means less guns, gun stores closure, and it certainly entails not equating guns to groceries as a means of survival. The argument linking guns to safety may underlines our divide, still illustrating how far the gun lobbies are willing to go is a necessity.

Please Note: The Corona virus crisis is changing so much of our lives, we need certain things to continue as they are, and so we are.

The Rights of the Terminally Ill

NOTE: The Corona virus crisis is forcing us to make many changes making the familiar all that much more important. We shall therefore continue posting as we normally do.

One in 6 hospital patients are now being cared for in a Catholic hospital.  For people who believe in assisted end of life, that has huge consequences. Catholic hospital see assisting end of life as intrinsically evil, and insist their physicians abide by their principles, which means that should a doctor sympathize with a patient as happened between Neil Mahoney and   Dr, Barbara Morris in Colorado, the doctor gets fired.

Eight states currently have assisted dying laws (Oregon, California, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Vermont, Maine and New Jersey) and they are being considered in some 20 additional states. That’s a lot of people who wish for a say so as to how they die, when and how much pain they can endure.

I believe in assisted end of life. My own understanding says that to lie in a bed under palliative care sedated to deal with pain impedes and not eases the process of dying. That is not what I want, and neither do I want the principles of another religion to be imposed upon me.  What happened in the case of Neil Mahoney was that without a doctor’s prescription the medication he needed to end his life could not be filled. He eventually did find a pharmacist who believes in dying with dignity and who was able to help him.  But the issue remains, should the religious beliefs of a hospital dictate how I or anyone with another spiritual view should die?

The Return of Landmines

The Trump administration is reviving the use of landmines.  The state department’s cable announcing it said that it would only consider landmines with “technologically advanced safeguards” meaning mines which could self-destruct or mines which can be detonated by remote control. With the exception of Afghanistan in 2002, the US has not used landmines since 1991 and has not produced any since 1997. The treaty banning landmines was signed by 164 nations including all of the US NATO allies. The US however did not sign the treaty wanting to reserve the right to use them in the Korean peninsula. Nevertheless since 1997much progress was made towards destroying the stockpile.  Rob Berschinski who worked on landmine policy in the Obama administration and who is now with Human Rights First says that “…they’re not only massively harmful to civilians after war’s end, but they’re also of very negligible military utility.” Landmine Monitor, an organization which monitors landmines, estimates that between 1999 and 2018 there has been 130,000 casualties, mainly civilians.

This may be another instance of the administration rolling back the policies of its predecessor, but it is also a way to erase progress that was made toward creating a more harmless more humane world.

Remembering Those Who Suffer

 In Maduro’s Venezuela one out of every three is malnourished and hungry, among those who may be considered more middle class it’s one in five. In Northern Syria, there are over 900,000 people caught in the war there, and 13 million Syrians have already been displaced. The near one million refugees have no place to go, no one to turn to. It’s been so cold, several children have frozen to death. In Kashmir, the government continues its limited Internet access and other restrictions against the mainly Muslim state, not to speak of the recent riots in New Delhi which is causing many to flee because Muslims are no longer wanted in those areas. In China the  Muslim Uighurs are being put in so called reeducation camps for the slightest action, such as growing a beard. In Yemen war rages, in Libya, anarchy continues, in several countries, refugees keep coming and find no refuge, no let up to their angst and difficulties, no escape from poverty, sometimes no way to survive.  I could go on about the suffering of the world, and yes these are man-made problems, and because they are man-made they are even harder to resolve, because the human imperfections that caused them still exist. There may be very little we can do, but we can remember these lives, learn from their courage, their fortitude, be inspired by how they endure and handle their suffering, be humbled by their strength and bravery and most of all remember them because their problems dwarf ours no matter how serious ours may be.