The Orlando Massacre that left 49 dead and 53 wounded reminded me of a conversation some of my classmates and I had at our Hastings College homecoming reunion with Denny Storer, one of our political science professors.
That was in October 2015 – a week after an Oregon community college was shot up by another twisted buy with 14 weapons in his apartment.
Rather than more laws, how can the culture change? There’s an excellent scenario that played out in Manhattan with huge impact. Watch it here.
After our reunion reminiscence about a poli-sci class we took on the road in Washington DC during January 1973, I had an ‘aha’ moment about the nexus between the 2nd and 14th amendments.
The anti-gun crowd should take a page out of the anti-abortion playbook.
The latter is pretty good about dancing around the constitution while the former doesn’t have a clue about how to create cultural restrictions around curbing gun sales.
The above meme is tongue-in-cheek, but tells the practical truth. There are 300,000,000 firearms circulating. I agree that laws won’t help much.
Changing the culture is the most practical and the anti-abortion crowd proves that.
Hastings College operates on a 3-1-3 class schedule that, in 1973, included a one month Interim trip on a long bus ride to Washington DC for a month-long “Legislators and Lobbyist” field trip class.
The advertised highlight of the class and trip to DC was the inauguration of President Nixon. An unadvertised highlight was the death of President Johnson. We stood in line and viewe his casket laying in state under the capitol rotunda.
What’s the upshot of this story?
Less heralded at the time, Denny reminded us about the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade decision handed down on January 22, 1973. The ruling held that women have a right to privacy and protected from unwarranted searches and seizures.
The anti-abortion lobby figured out that passing restrictive laws do stand up to constitutional scrutiny. They work hard to change the culture through grassroots efforts and pass laws that don’t ban abortions, but put roadblocks in the way coupled with strategic public shaming.
The pro-gun lobby says that more laws won’t keep guns out of the hands of anybody, let alone crazy people. I have to agree with that.
All crazy people have access to guns, but not all crazy people have access to mental health services. I don’t know how politicians decide who’s the craziest, though.
After the killing spree in Orlando, I had to quit watching TV because it was all about blood, guts (interviews with wounded people in their hospital beds) and superficial grieving (candles, flowers and facebook posts).
While I’m sure that everyone personally deals with events like this differently, there doesn’t seem to be very many who are interested in creating the social and cultural change necessary to end gun violence.
Compared to anti-abortion groups, the anti-gun groups don’t show the same long-term passion that would include protesting in the rights-of-way of gun stores or on the public sidewalks in front of the Walton family homes; grooming like-minded people to appointed and elected public offices.
I’m thinking that in the final analysis, the only people who get involved in trying to change things are those families and friends directly affected by the death or injury to a friend or loved one. That’s a pretty small number of people and they can’t do it alone.
If 27 school kids murdered in their school, nine South Carolina church goers shot in the back, another nine gunned down in a community college classroom, don’t move legislators into action, I’m not very optimistic that 49 more people killed in a night club will provide much impetus for legislative action.
Here are three ideas to help change the culture without having to take anyone’s guns away since that’s not happening any time soon:
Short Term: Feel the Bern and Get Out The Vote – The biggest thing Bernie Sanders can keep doing is get more of his supporters to keep registering more voters. The disgruntled Bernie supporters – of which I am one – need to get on with life and not support any kind of third party or write in candidate for president. If that’s too difficult, at least vote for Democrats down the ticket.
Medium Term: Limited Martial Law (for lack of another term) – I heard Matt Lauer talking about this on the Today Show this morning. He asked a Homeland Security guy about what it would take to “asterisk” civil rights laws so that anyone like the Orlando terrorist could continue to be watched and monitored even if there is no probable cause determined. I think the only time limited martial law was approved was by the antebellum Congress at the time of Abraham Lincoln.
Long Term: Reapportionment – the US Census will be completed in 2020 and new US congressional districts will be drawn as well as state legislative districts. The SCOTUS ruled in favor of independent redistricting commissions taking gerrymandering out of the political process. This is an opportune time to create competitive state and national districts.
I’m willing to participate in the short and long term ideas i’ve proposed. It will be interesting to see if there’s the political will to limit civil liberties, but I would think Donald Trump would be all over that one.
The black ops probably have the authority to do this, in any event.
Bison have been in the news lately.
President Obama signed legislation designating the American Bison as the national animal. (See, Congress can get stuff done when it wants).
One of the more bizarre bison stories made the rounds this week which explains why the Northern Arapaho community in Wyoming has had a tough time getting any bison for its tribal ceremonies.
Seems a couple international tourists visiting Yellowstone National Park was quite concerned about the health and safety of a newborn bison calf that had wandered away from its herd.
The well intended park visitors scooped up the maverick and placed it in the back of their SUV and proceeded to notify the park rangers of their concern.
Turns out their unlawful act of kindness resulted in a ticket and fine.
The story has a not-so-happy ending because after repeated attempts to reunite the calf with its mother and herd, it was rejected and park wildlife officials had to put the young animal down.
Some of my friends were aghast wondering why there isn’t a bison rescue organization, that could have taken the orphaned calf and nurtured it.
That makes a lot of sense but unfortunately, bison are among the most political animals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which includes parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
This bison calf would have a big identity crisis had it wandered into Wyoming because it could be treated as livestock or wildlife or both.
There’s a political skirmish between cattle ranchers and wildlife managers as to the proper jurisdiction – in fact, the state vet and wikdlife managers both have jurisdiction.
What complicates the matter is a contagious disease called brucellosis which isn’t harmful to people, in most cases, but when the bacteria gets into a cattle herd, all animals generally have to be destroyed and the state quarantined.
You’ll recall there was a big furor a few years back about mad cow’s disease. Most recently, there were many chickens destroyed because of avian flu which is why poutry is still expensive.
How does all this happen?
The disease epidemiology is very complex biologically, but causes huge economic impacts that not only include the domestic livestock industry and wildlife management, but also the tourism industry.
Over the years, due to US National Park Service herd management, certain elk populations outgrow their environments. Bison contracted the disease from the over populated elk herds in this case, the GYE.
Bison wander out of the park, elk migrate to and from and the conflict originated when cattle ranchers began to develop infected herds and the blame fell primarily on the bison because they are more sedentary, as opposed to migratory.
Montana treats bison mire like wildlife and through the state veterinarian’s and wildlifr offices there and the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has a brucellosis quarantine facility set up just ourside the park. (Fun Fact – APHIS is the agency that oversees the safety of airports so the chance that birds smack into airplanes is minimized).
Bison that leave the park are given a blood test and checked for brucellosis. if they are positive, they are slaughtered, if they are negative, they are put into quarantine and eventually released back to the park.
The bison calf in question could have been tested. If it tested positive, it would have been put down. If it was negative, it would have been quarantined and someone, would have had to stick with it for 30 days or more.
Even if that care taking did happen, my druthers would have been to give it to the Northern Arapaho Tribe to help them reestablish a bison herd on the Wind River Indian Reservation in a highly managed pasture – as opposed to free-roaming.
The fact is, Wyoming is currently NOT a brucellosis free state. In the Cliff Notes version of the process, this means the bison calf, if it was tested and found to be brucellosis-free, as well as others could be culled from the Yellowstone herd, quarantined on Northern Arapaho land and allowed to propagate for tribal ceremonial purposes.
There’s currently a prototype already operating at the National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins with Yellowstone brucellosis-free bison. There’s a small herd now on the Soap Stone open space park by Livermore.
Take away the politics and this isn’t rocket science.