Archive for November, 2013

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  • November 15th, 2013

Presidential Dogs

By Joel M. Vance

Barack Obama is taking plenty of heat over the fumbling implementation of his health care law.  The buck, as Harry Truman famously said, stops with him.  When things look darkest, though, he can do what beleaguered men have done for eons—go pet his dog.

The Obamas got plenty of good publicity (some of the last for quite a while) when they milked the choice of a First Dog for all the good will they could before settling on an Portuguse water dog for which, predictably, they were criticized.  The right wing claimed the President chartered a jet at taxpayer expense to fly the dog to the family’s vacation site.  To compound the insult, according to this nutty story, the dog was a gift from one of those God damned Communist Kennedys (the late Ted).

Ellie & cat2

Tomorrow’s First Dog?

At that point, I would suspect Mr. Obama wished for a Rottweiler with a taste for right wing nutcases.  Oddly the weirdoes didn’t  make anything of the fact that the breed was alien, from some non-English speaking country, probably Communist or something.  Why didn’t the President, whom they all know, is an African, not an Amurrican, get those girls a Rhodesian ridgeback or some other African dog?

Presidential dogs have been a source mostly of feel-good publicity for Presidents for decades and the choice of one has at times superseded inconsequential stuff like the Mideast, education, Social Security and  health care.  George W. Bush had two dogs, a Scotty (shades of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous Fala) and Spot, son of Millie, the White House dog when the first George Bush was President, but you almost never heard anything about them—Little Georgie was too busy screwing up on his own to allow for news about his First Dogs pooping on the White House carpet.

Few White Houses have been without a First Dog.  Bill Clinton had a cat named Socks which got entirely too much publicity until the press tired of writing about a cat, but his dog, Buddy, a Labrador retriever, rarely was mentioned.  Buddy, a tremendously handsome chocolate Lab, was killed by a car in 2000

The first First Dog belonged to Maria Monroe, daughter of President James (1817-1825) who also was the first child in the White House and the first to be married there (at 17).  The dog was a spaniel of some sort, but she probably did not hunt behind it, presidential daughters not being noted for upland hunting enthusiasm.

Not all presidents have had dogs.  Benjamin Harrison had a goat named His Whiskers, which tells you quite a bit about Benjamin Harrison.  Once the goat ran away, down Pennsylvania Avenue, pulling a cart containing the President’s grandson, Benny.   Mr. Harrison chased the cart and the press had fun with it.  Obviously something is missing from politics today, at least at the presidential  level.   When was the last time you saw a president chasing a goat cart down Pennsylvania Avenue?

Another example of how things have changed is the story, possibly true, of a small boy who sneaked onto the White House grounds and was fishing for goldfish in a pond when King Tut, a German shepherd belonging to Herbert Hoover, grabbed the kid by the seat of his pants and held him until the gardener showed up.  Today you’d have a dozen Secret Service agents, a hovering gunship, a SWAT team and a detachment of Green Berets all over any little kid who even looked through the fence at the goldfish pond.

As you might expect, Theodore Roosevelt, the first and greatest of the conservation-minded, outdoor-loving presidents, had a virtual zoo in the White House, including six children.  All the kids, by accounts as wild as Mr. Roosevelt’s legendary charge up San Juan Hill, had ponies and lizards and rats and squirrels and even bears (a garter snake was named Emily Spinach because it was green and they had a friend named Emily).

For all Mr. Roosevelt’s hunting proclivities, apparently none of his menagerie was a hunting dog.  He probably had so many that they weren’t worth mentioning.   He did have a bull terrier, Pete, who was banished from the White House after he ripped the britches of the French ambassador.

Barbara  Bush,  wife of the first Bush president, actually ghost-wrote Millie’s Book, their springer spaniel’s autobiography,  which  earned more than one million dollars in royalties which Mrs. Bush donated to a foundation to endorse literacy (in people, not dogs).   Mr. Bush Sr., in a moment of election year pique, was reported to have said of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, “My dog Millie knows more about foreign policy than these two bozos.”

Caroline Kennedy’s dog, Pushinka, was a gift from Nikita Khrushchev and no doubt had the most thorough vet exam in history to make sure the dog was not implanted with listening devices.  I can imagine the dog whispering into a paw-implanted transmitter, “Boss, the guy really does mean get those missiles the hell out of Cuba!”

George Washington started the tradition of presidential pooches.  He raised and hunted foxhounds.  Mr. Washington kept his dogs in a kennel, not in the presidential home.  Not so the Reagans who invited Lucky, an 85-pound sheepdog, given to Mr. Reagan by a March of Dimes poster child, into the White House.  But Lucky, belying his name, used to drag Mrs. Reagan around as if she were a chew toy and he also misbehaved on the White House carpets.

Mrs. Reagan was less tolerant of such misbehavior than Mrs. Bush would be with Millie, so Lucky soon found himself far from the hustle and bustle of Washington, banished to the Reagan ranch in California.  His successor was a King Charles spaniel who, presumably, scratched at the door when necessary, and heeled properly on leash.

Franklin Roosevelt’s black Scottie Fala was photographed almost as much as was the president.  Fala was a shameless camera hound and once tried to crash an inaugural parade by jumping in the car seat that Sam Rayburn, the longtime Speaker of the House, was supposed to occupy.

Mr. Roosevelt,  who loved his little dog (he once sent a destroyer back  for  Fala  after the pup had  been  left behind on the Aleutian Islands),  no doubt  would have  preferred Fala to the dour Speaker, but politics is politics and Mr. Rayburn got his seat back.

Another Scottie was Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s shared gift to his alleged mistress, Kay Sommersby, during World War Two.  The dog’s name was Telek, a combination of Telegraph Cottage, an English retreat for the future president, and the name Kay.

The most scandalous event involving a presidential dog was when Lyndon  Johnson  picked one of his two beagles up by the ears, igniting the outrage of dog lovers everywhere (his choice of names was somewhat less  than inspirational: he  called them Him and Her).  Presidents, being politicians, know the value of being considered dog lovers and Mr.  Johnson was a consummate politician, but he stumbled badly with the ear-pulling incident.   “Those Republicans are really bashing me about picking those darned dogs up by the ears,” he grumbled to his vice-president Hubert Humphrey.

There possibly were other issues involved in Mr. Johnson’s decision not to run for a second term, but Beaglegate certainly didn’t gain him any swing votes.  At least he didn’t send them on trips on a destroyer or a private jet.

Mr. Johnson also had a mutt, found at a Texas gas station, who would howl duets with the President in the Oval Office. There are photos of the two of them with their mouths open, heads lifted in song.  That must have been almost as inspiring as watching Benjamin Harrison chase his goat.  Harry Truman defended his fellow Democrat over the ear-lift incident:  “What the hell are the critics complaining about.  That’s how you handle hounds.”

Mr. Truman also said, “If you want a friend in politics, get a dog.”   But Mr. Truman did not follow his own advice (or maybe did not want a friend in politics).  He didn’t have a dog (he was given a cocker spaniel as First Dog, but decided not to keep it).  Neither did Calvin Coolidge, who nevertheless said, “Any man who doesn’t like dogs and doesn’t want them around shouldn’t be in the White House.”

Only once has a dog  become intimately involved in presidential politics,  other than as an attractive accessory and that was when vice-presidential  candidate Richard  Nixon,  hounded  (sorry for the dog pun) by allegations  that  rich backers were supporting him a luxurious lifestyle,  made  what became known as the Checkers speech in which he cried poor, using as an example his wife’s plain Republican cloth coat and  emotionally defended  accepting the gift of a cocker spaniel, which his daughter Tricia named Checkers.  “Regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it,” Mr. Nixon declared.  And Mr. Nixon remained on the ticket and Checkers became a presidential dog.

Jimmy Carter was a longtime quail hunter, but his presidential dog was only part bird dog–a springer spaniel, mixed with genuine alley mutt.   Gerald Ford, a golfer, not a hunter, did own a hunting dog, a golden retriever named Liberty, who whelped in the White House (one puppy later became a Guide Dog for the blind).

So, presidential dogs have abounded (and bounded) and Mr. Obama and  his  successors should realize  there is great publicity value in fondling the soft ears of a loving dog while evading pointed questions from nosy reporters (just don’t use the dog’s ears as a handle and keep it off Air Force One, especially if it’s alone except for the pilot).

Any new president needs a nice little Brittany and a double-barreled shotgun.  It so happens I have three of the latter that I can’t hit anything with and which I would be willing to part with for a reasonable profit…and we occasionally have a litter of pups.

I look forward to hearing from the White House and am willing to cut the president a deal on a good pup.  But he (or she if Mrs. Clinton prevails) can’t have pick-of-the-litter through.  My son asked first.

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  • Blog
  • November 10th, 2013

Memories for Sale

By Joel M. Vance

The family farm is an American legend, like the imaginary Paul Bunyan or the sanitized Babe Ruth.  It exists in memory and in those few eddies of life’s mainstream where Wal-Mart hasn’t taken root.

Aside from the fact that families anywhere all too often are a fiction, the family farm is dying from a combination of ills: rising costs (and no commensurate rise of income), competition from sleek modern farmers and, most important, migration of farm kids to the cities.

This is no sociology treatise.  I saw it happen.  They sold a piece of me at public auction on a bitterly cold October day.  The northwest wind nipped leaves off the old maples in the front yard and threw them on the ground for winter to digest.

They sold the old home place.  My father and his brother bought the farm in 1933 to give their father and mother a piece of land on which to anchor the rest of their lives.

Grandpa Vance and me at the home place

Grandpa Vance and me at the home place

I spent summers on the gullied hill farm when I was a little kid.  It’s where I first fell in love, learned about fleas and how horses mate, learned to ride a bicycle and play a guitar.  I shot my first quail there and listened to Aunt Sade’s screeching voice as she told of hearing the guns during the war.

She was more than 90, deaf and loudly boring and the war she remembered was the Civil War.

My first girl friend lived a quarter mile south, down a bumpy gravel road.  My buddy Maurice Young lived where he still does, a quarter mile north.

Maurice, his bristly mustache gone gray, tried to buy the place on that cold day, bidding against a stranger in a cowboy hat.  Maurice wanted the farm for his son.  Maurice is related to me somehow.  There are Youngs ‘way back in the Vance family and almost everyone in those old hills is related somehow.

“Your folks used to come up to my place and borrow my cradle when you was a baby,” said an elderly man, one of the Meyers, as we wiped at our drizzling noses.  “You’d sleep there when you was visitin’.”  I didn’t remember.

We watched like spectators at a tennis match as Maurice and the cowboy lobbed bids back and forth.  At the end, even though Maurice had deeper roots in the thin hill soil, the stranger had deeper pockets.

Maurice is family.  The guy in the cowboy hat?  Who the hell knows.  Just a cowboy with mean eyes and enough money to buy someone else’s life.

Couldn’t be helped.  “We’re all getting old, Joel!” said one cousin.  She was 80.  The youngest was nearly 70.  None of their kids wanted the place, at least not enough to plunk down $104,000 for sentiment.  But no one in the family really wanted it sold either.  They were raised there.  They saw each other get courted, get married, go off to war.  The cousins were bent not so much by the years as by the weight of what they were doing.           It didn’t take long to erase 60 years of family history.  A few minutes and the place went to the stranger in the cowboy hat.

The L-shaped house is ramshackle, probably fated for destruction.  People I loved lived and died there.

My grandfather was a carpenter named Joseph, but when I knew him, his woodworking was limited to making exquisite and illegal fish traps.  In his seventies and eighties he was a fulltime hunter and angler.  He often left for the distant CharitonRiver early in the morning, always by himself, to tend his traps.  He wasn’t fishing for commerce, just helping feed the family.

He was a deadly shot with a .22 and any squirrel incautious enough to give him a target was stew meat.

“One time some men came to the farm to quail hunt,” Maurice says.  “They asked your Grandpa Joe to go with them.  He got out an old long-barreled single-shot shotgun.  Probably had to knock the mud daubers out of it.  They felt sorry for him.  He only had one eye and that ratty old gun.  So they told him he’d get the first shot when the quail got up.

“Well, he not only got the first shot; he got the last one, too.” Maurice says.  “Covey got up and, boom! he powdered one, reloaded and shot another one before they got out of range.  They’d never seen anyone shoot quail like that.”

When he wasn’t hunting or fishing, my grandfather read books and magazines (by the yellow light of a kerosene lantern for years, then by low-wattage electricity after the Rural Electrification Association discovered southern CharitonCounty.

Grandpa Joe had only one eye after a billet of firewood he was splitting jumped up and hit him in the face, but he worked his remaining eye overtime.  That eye was as strong as the rest of him.  It never failed until he failed, victim of a stroke in his eighties.

I remember my grandfather as a tall, spare man with a frieze of white hair (he went bald, then in his old age began to grow his hair back) and a full, white mustache.  He looked, in retrospect, like a long-retired Western sheriff.

My uncle Roy Finnell added a chunk of land to the home place and moved his big family there.  His children are the cousins who were selling the home place.  Uncle Finney bought my dad and uncle out back in the 1950s.  Otherwise, I would be huddled in the doorway with them, watching my life be juggled by strangers.

My father once took me to Guilford’s Ford, which wasn’t a ford at all, but the location of a spindly bridge across the old CharitonRiver.  The river was channelized in the 1950s and the old channel doesn’t exist anymore.

There was a hardware store where my father bought me a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun which became my constant companion.  Once, I pinned Maurice in the family outhouse.  I rattled BBs off the boards while he yelled for help.  Sometimes, I’d shoot through the knotholes.

“Lord, I heard those pellets ricocheting around in there and I was hollering for Mom,” Maurice recalls.  “Finally she came out and took the gun away from you.”

I’d conveniently forgotten the incident.  “You always were an ornery one,” said my cousin Doris Sue.  Memories of orneriness resurface and I had to agree.  I did have a talent for creating disorder where none had existed.  Once I brought fleas from the barn to the house and woke my Aunt Sis in the middle of the night to complain that I was itching and didn’t know why.            She lit a lamp and saw the black specks jumping on the bed.  She’d raised a covey of kids without raising her voice, but she lost it with her dumb city nephew that night.  My butt glows in retrospect.

The auctioneer prattled the terms of the sale, trying to generate interest in people who mostly were cold.  The wind chill was below 20 degrees.  I scuffled through the swirling leaves beneath two huge old maples.  They’d been huge and old when I was a kid; they still were.

My Aunt Sis’s garden had gone to spouts and weeds.  One of the cousins had dug some peonies from the yard.  With any luck they’d grow for another 60 years, patiently sprouting and hanging in there.

The big old tobacco barn didn’t seem as big now.  It showed its age with sagging doors and missing boards.  Maurice, sharecropping the place, had hung sticks of tobacco in the center section.  The broad leaves still were damp and green in spots.

Tobacco was the farm crop when I was a kid.  Lucky Strike Green had gone to war, so we raised tobacco for the Boys Over There.  It was downright patriotic. What was a soldier without his smoke?            Uncle Finney sprayed his home grown with Paris Green, an arsenic-based insecticide long since superseded by supposedly safer chemicals, chewed the cured leaves…and died of stomach cancer.

Anything else grown on that farm was environmentally sound.  No additives to the chicken or pig food.  The pigs ate slops from the kitchen and the chickens ate what they could find in the yard.

It was a quintessential family farm.

We mourn the loss of the family farm as if it were a bucolic Camelot.  Politicians with country constituencies do it routinely, meanwhile getting elected with agribusiness support.  There is no room in today’s world for a subsistence farm where pigs feed on slop and you make your soap from their rendered lard.  No one wants to live that way anyway.  Only poor people use home-made soap and raw milk is dangerous.

We, in our comfortable ignorance, sigh for what was often was a thin, mean life.  People, especially kids, died of diseases that are only historical curiosities today: diphtheria, whooping cough, scarlet fever.

The Finnells and Vances were poor people.  They didn’t think of themselves that way, but they lived ‘way below the poverty line as we define it today.  They worked from, as a friend says, “can’t see to can’t see.”  That’s all they did–work.  They raised pigs to eat and there was no freezer for storage.  They smoked the hams and bacon.  The smell from the smokehouse on a cold winter day was mouth-watering.  Chickens were free to roam until my aunt’s culinary eye settled on a luckless victim and then she planted a substantial foot on its neck and jerked upward on its feet and it was history.

Food was plentiful.  No one ever went hungry, but they made-do with old clothing. New shoes were as rare as an eclipse.  A night out was a pie supper at the nearby AsburyChurch once or twice a year.

The romance of the family farm?  There was nothing romantic in a midnight trek to the outhouse in December because something had caused a digestive Mt.St. Helens.  In summer, they shared the outhouse with ill-tempered stinging insects: wasps, yellowjackets and the occasional sociopathic bumblebee.

My kinfolk spent much of the summer cutting firewood by hand–there were no chain saws then–and the house, insulated about one-fourth as well as today’s houses, lost heat as soon as the fire in the stove burned low.  It wouldn’t get warm until someone got up well before dawn and built a fire.

Stereo-in-cab tractors may be overkill, but they beat a team of indifferent horses and a walking plow.  Even a riding mower was no picnic.  The iron wheels felt as if they were square.  No one had a sunshade.  You endured heat and bugs and dust and sweat.  There were no balers for hay.  You pitched it with a fork atop a horse drawn wagon.  It smelled good, but stuck to your sweaty body.

Some opted to leave for the city, as my father and his brother did in the 1920s.  They didn’t know if Chicago would be easier than CharitonCounty, but they figured it couldn’t be tougher.

My Uncle Sam once was asleep in his Chicago apartment when a bullet came through the window and lodged in the wall just above his head.  Bullets often flew in Chicago’s streets, but they did back on the farm, too.  Uncle Sam accidentally shot my father in the lip with a .22 caliber rifle when they were kids.  My father carried the bullet all his life.  Sis and Finney’s kids also chose different paths.  None farmed or ever wanted to.  Roy Joe, the only son and heir apparent, parachuted into Normandy on June 6, 1944, broke his back on landing and fought for five days behind enemy lines.  He married an English war bride and became an urbanite.

Fifty years later, he was stooped and gray-haired, more than 70, a kindly person, bitten by the harsh wind.  He had become an Episcopal priest, remarried after his war bride died, and would die himself at 85.  In one of life’s tiny ironies, Roy Joe’s war bride is buried at AsburyChurch, a half-mile from his home, but he’s buried 200 miles away.

The guy in the green athletic jacket and the cowboy hat wanted the place.  He topped Maurice’s bids without hesitation.  Maurice chewed on his bids like tough meat, being coerced into yet another $500 raise by the impatient auctioneer (who had another farm to sell as soon as he settled this one).

Finally the auctioneer knocked the place down to the cowboy and Maurice shrugged his shoulders philosophically in the cold wind and said, “I gotta spend this afternoon on a tractor and I’m not looking forward to it.”

I looked at the cowboy who glowered at the crowd as if afraid they’d deny him his hard-won prize.

“Come see us,” said the cousins.  “If you’re ever in town, come see us.”

And I promised I would and maybe I will, but I only know one thing for certain.  I never again will stand beneath the maples, knowing that my tap roots grow deep on this old ridge.

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The old house is gone, replaced by a new cabin

The old house is gone, replaced by a new cabin

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  • Blog
  • November 1st, 2013

To Gun or Not to Gun

By Joel M. Vance

If there is an enemy of gun control in this country, it is not the liberals but the extreme right wing whose intransigent opposition to any hint of gun control turns off the vast majority of uncommitted citizens.  Case in point: A nut job named Joel Gilbert suggests that President Obama was behind the massacre shooting at a theater in Colorado to strengthen his perceived campaign to ban guns.

This is so patently insane that most will snicker and turn to the comic strips, but it’s an uncomfortably common mindset among the far right.  Every time there is a mass shooting, the right looks for a conspiracy, usually that the left will use it as an excuse to ban guns.  The old bumper sticker “I’ll give up my guns when they pry them from my cold, dead hands” is the mantra of these folks and there even is a program on, of all places, the National Geographic Channel, about survivalists who believe deeply that they’ll go down in a hail of government-fired bullets.

I’m a gun owner with two deer rifles, a .22 and a bunch of shotguns.  I’ve been a hunter almost since I was big enough to squeeze the trigger.  I am strongly opposed to gun regulations that interfere with hunting and even with target shooting.   But there have been restrictions on gun ownership and use for decades.  You can’t own a fully-automatic weapon without complying with many regulations.  You are restricted on caliber and ammo for many hunting uses (steel shot, three shells only, etc.).

But the horrific massacre of tiny children in a Connecticut elementary school should trump politics and should quiet the conspiracy nuts.   The bottom line question is whether there is a way to prevent such insanity.  I doubt it.  Not until there is a way to predict human behavior and identify the potential mass murderers before their addled minds snap.

How do you do that without a widening net that snares the mildly disturbed along with the dangerously deranged?  The Connecticut shooter has been described as “mildly autistic.”  There are enough folks in the country in that category to make it not only impractical but immoral to cram them into institutions or medicate them to zombies on the proposition that they might go berserk some day.

The more questions about how to proceed, the more there are.  We got a taste of armed insanity in 1966when Charles Whitman climbed the bell tower at the University of Texas and picked off 14 people after having killed his mother and wife.  An autopsy revealed a lethal brain tumor.   Would we have to monitor all people with brain tumors, both malignant and benign, to make sure they aren’t going to derail?

Since Whitman we have had Columbine (12 students and a teacher) and Aurora (12 dead, 58 wounded) and the Virginia Tech rampage that saw 32 dead, 17 wounded.  That incident sparked new calls for strict gun laws and President Bush signed a bill strengthening the federal gun laws.  The gun lobby argued that had teachers and presumably every student been armed they would have cut Seung-Hui Cho down before he killed anyone.

I once got into an argument with a fellow who maintained that allowing airline passengers to carry guns would lessen the chances of a 911-type hijacking.  The armed passengers would, he maintained, shoot the hijackers and all would be well.  This kind of warped logic also encourages the arming of teachers, a prospect that appalls our high school English-teaching daughter.

Gunslinging arguments are why we have concealed carry laws in a majority of the states, with varying regulations and restrictions, including my home state Missouri, and why we have Florida’s infamous Stand Your Ground law which has resulted  in white guys shooting two unarmed black teenagers.  Gun advocates argue that such laws have lessened gun-related crime but the evidence is murky.  However such laws have not increased gun crime either, so take your pick.  If anything the issue demonstrates the peril of enacting rigid gun laws without evidence to back them up.

There will be more gun massacres as long as there are mentally deranged people who have access to guns.  The fact that in Connecticut the guns used apparently were legally bought dramatically illustrates the problem—that regulation is no guarantee against the unthinkable.

I just finished a wonderful book One Summer, America 1927 by Bill Bryson which includes anecdotees about a number of bomb attacks in the  title year that make the United States sound like Iraq at its worst.  There was one that slaughtered a number of school children.  It also was a year when an uncomfortable number of citizens were calling for the sterilization of “undesirable” people so they couldn’t breed more undesirables.   Some of the advocates for forced sterilization were prominent educators and other sterling citizens and some of the “undesirables they wanted cut were basically not them.

The point is that irrational acts are always possible and are always impossible to prevent.  Strict gun laws won’t do it, but those who oppose any reasonable restrictions or who advocate a shoot ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out mentality are no friends of reasonable gun ownership and use.

A current gun-related incident involves a cop who shot an eight year old boy who was carrying a toy assault weapon.   Whether the cop acted appropriately or not is still being investigated, but it’s reported that the time between noticing the kid and shooting him was about 10 seconds.  If you remember,  Deputy Sherriff Barney Fife was limited to an unloaded gun with one bullet buttoned in a shirt pocket—forced him to think before he loaded up and squeezed the trigger.

Gun owners operate with the philosophy that the armed citizen is the best defense against lawlessness while gun control advocates lobby for a complete ban on guns, forgetting the all-too-true argument that “when guns are banned only criminals will have guns.”  Prohibition certainly didn’t stop folks from drinking up, and drug users today have no problem finding something to snort.  Likewise the criminally-inclined never will lack for shooting irons.

And what’s to prevent a deranged legal gun owner (military or police) from opening fire?  Remember Nadal Malik, an Army major who killed 13 and wounded 29 in a shooting spree at Ft. Hood.   He is, of all things, a psychiatrist.  And if you are tempted to say, “Yeah, but he’s Muslim,” that plays into another set of prejudices.  The very next day after the Connecticut shooting, a certified security guard, who was trustworthy enough to have gotten a registered gun 10 years ago shot up a mall without hitting anyone.

Gun control is, like any other contentious aspect of human life, controversial and ultimately unsolvable.  Just as pro-life and freedom of choice advocates will butt heads forever, so will those who hate guns and those who love guns disagree.  Just as long as they don’t try to solve their problem with a Trampas Walk, we’ll live with the situation (for those who didn’t grow up thrilling to classic Western movies, the Trampas Walk was when Gary Cooper or a similar hero walked up the middle of Main Street to face the bad guys in a climactic shootout which the good guy always won).

But the difference between High Noon and reality is that sometimes the bad guys win.

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