Thoughts on gun control
In my efforts to become informed about the issue of gun control, I have found myself trying to resolve a conundrum that perhaps those more familiar with the issue can help with. As we all know, the reason this is such a controversial issue is that gun ownership is not just a law but a fundamental right granted by the Second Amendment as part of the Bill of Rights. As I understand it, the purpose of this Amendment is to allow the people to defend themselves against an invading army, something that we actually did during the American Revolution. The Founding Fathers gave us this right to ensure that this country would always remain a free land run by the people and for the people. It has so far worked for nearly 225 years.
However, if we were to really put this purpose into perspective in today’s world of advanced technological armaments, in all honesty, if I were to be truly prepared to defend my country against a foreign invasion, then I should be permitted to own an RPG, install a surface-to-air missile battery in my backyard and keep an F-16 at the local airport with a bunker for my personal stash of nuclear warheads. A drawer full of pistols, a rack full of rifles, even an M-16 with a roomful of ammunition is simply not enough to save me and my fellow Americans from a nation with enough juice to attempt an invasion of this country.
This scenario is right now being proven in the Arab world. The Libyans and now the Syrians did not make significant progress in their own civil wars until they succeeded in capturing a military base where they were able to get tanks, missiles and other assorted heavy weaponry into their own hands. Because it is certain that the American people are not going to engage in another civil war, and because our military has weapons of mass destruction that far surpass what I can buy at Walmart, I do not know how to resolve this conundrum. Does the right granted to me by the Second Amendment enable me to guarantee the security of this free state?
I do believe firmly in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents were the first and still are the foremost documents that grant and guarantee enduring freedom to the people of any country in the history of mankind. To challenge, much less repeal, one of their most basic tenets is somewhat frightening. Once the Second Amendment is down, then it seems the rest of them may be suddenly no longer infallible. Or maybe they are already under attack, giving us even more reason to take a reactionary position to protect what is left. Specifically, it seems the Patriot Act has done an end run around the Bill of Rights by suspending one or more of them without ratification, particularly the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments. Not that this hasn’t happened before in times of war, but not only has no war of ours ever lasted for 12 years but, technically, we are not at war so any kind of “martial law” or “war powers” action should revert to the people.
Most curious is the fact that, although gun control has been an issue from time to time, the incidents of gun violence that have brought this to the forefront of today’s politics were unheard of 25 years ago, yet we had the same right to own guns then as now. Perhaps guns are not the issue. Nevertheless, removing guns from the public arena will certainly cut down on gun crime, just as passenger screening at airports has had the unpredicted consequence of eliminating virtually all commercial jet airline crashes within the United States for the past 11 years, even if it does border on unreasonable search. This also begs the question, what would passenger screening have found that would have prevented these fatal incidents that occurred so regularly in years before 9/11? Or is this because of another security action put in place? Do we really need passenger screening?
If there’s anything we need to defend ourselves against, it’s the deconstruction of our Constitution and the freedoms it gives us. It may have taken guns to achieve our independence, but once that was done the enemy of an enduring republic was ignorance. The framers of the Constitution defeated that enemy but it is back now and more relevant than ever, given the unprecedented erosion of civil liberties that has been sanctioned by Congress and the President. The Patriot Act should be repealed or put up for ratification as a Constitutional Amendment. And not just the issue of gun control, but the issues that have made this an issue as well, must be addressed without ignorance.
The war’s over …
While Mr. Neder (“The new minority: white conservative Republicans,” letters, 3/7), in bemoaning the demise of white conservative Republicans, suggests he now understands the plight of African Americans in the post-Civil War South, he might be more comfortable as a white slave owner during the same era. He would, in fact, share the same fate: irrelevance.
And it is irrelevance that has put the white conservative Republican in his (and I do mean his) minority place. The Cold War ended long ago, and the much-feared Communist invasion of our shores has been replaced by capitalist enterprises in both the former USSR and the current People’s Republic of China. As the last two presidential elections have shown, the race-baiting, quasi-clubby politics of exclusion is also quickly becoming a thing of the past. While Mr. Neder and his ilk cling stubbornly to the economic ideas of the antebellum South and the paranoia of the 1950s and 1960s, what are really needed are political leaders who can step out of the past.
These new leaders, from President Obama to our elected members of the Assembly and State Senate, need to embrace the ever-present but now more politically active diverse members of our community, provide measures so that everyone who needs a hand gets one, and allow all members of society to enjoy the benefits of our labor, our taxes and our sense of community. The war’s over. Stop fighting it.
Ventura’s water problem
On March 4 the Ventura City Council received the draft of 2013 Water Resources Report. This draft raised important questions regarding Ventura’s water supply/demand.
A sobering reality (from page 5-1 of the draft) states: “The City’s average annual water demand for 2005 to 2009 was 19,300 Acre Feet Year ,which is uncomfortably close to our current available water supply (19,600 AFY).”
Translation: Ventura’s current water usage is perilously close to our current available supply.
To further punctuate the urgency, the Ventura Water Manager clearly stated: “The General Plan doesn’t reflect what the actual water supply is. We have a finite supply of water. It’s going to come down to policy decisions you make of how you are going to use that water.”
On this information alone, the Council needs to issue an immediate emergency moratorium on new development approvals. It is the City Council’s fiduciary responsibility to protect Ventura Water ratepayers and to make informed policy decisions. It is irresponsible to allow more development approvals to stream through the Housing Approval Program pipeline while water supply issues are this dire.
The reality is that if we grow beyond our ability to be sustained on local water resources, it will be financially burdensome to obtain a new water source/infrastructure.
The wallet of every single water-user within the Ventura Water system will be affected by the Council’s decisions. If untethered growth forces us into expensive state water or desal, then this also becomes a major social justice issue — with those least able to afford it (like many of our fixed-income seniors or hard-working-yet-low-income citizens) hardest-hit by extreme water-rate increases.
The situation is urgent. The Council needs to issue an immediate temporary moratorium on new development approvals until the draft 2013 Water Resources Report is finished and a stakeholder conversation about how to proceed can take place.
St. Francis, the animal lover
I was delighted to learn that the newly elected pope chose for himself the name of St. Francis of Assisi, generally known as patron saint of the animals. Indeed, Catholic and Anglican churches hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of Oct. 4.
On one of his nature walks, Francis reportedly preached to the birds and is often portrayed with a bird in his hand. On another occasion, Francis concluded a pact with a ferocious wolf that was terrorizing local townsfolk, whereby the wolf would quit preying on the town’s sheep in exchange for being fed regularly. He even persuaded local dogs to stop harassing the wolf. He freed a rabbit from a trap, returned caught fish to their stream, and fed half-frozen bees in winter-time.
I hope that Pope Francis will inspire Catholics and all persons of goodwill to show nonhuman animals the respect and compassion they so richly deserve, particularly when it comes to subsidizing their abuse and slaughter for food at the checkout counter. Joining the Meatless Mondays trend may be a good start.
Feet above the ground
In a room without women, the prelates convene to pick a new head man. He will set policy for all about family, sex and reproduction, about women’s place in the Church.
Not present are nuns, who teach, clean, care for others. Though ordination’s denied them, still sainthood is possible, bestowed post mortem.
The gentlemen’s seats rest on raised platforms so as not to damage the Sistine Chapel’s tiles. Their feet literally do not touch the ground.