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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired for two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Conversation with a Gun Owner, Parker's Thoughts on Gun Control and some Nutrition News

Conversation With a Gun Owner

So, Joe, why is it that you need an assault weapon?

For self protection!  That’s what the Second Amendment is all about, Jim.

I agree, but protecting yourself and your family doesn’t require a military type weapon.  

Who says my assault rifle is a military type weapon?  Such weapons have to possess certain characteristics, and my assault rifle doesn’t.  You just don’t know what you’re talking about, Jim.

Joe, how many shots can your weapon get off without reloading?

Thirty, Jim, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing …. But that doesn’t make it a military type assault weapon!

Joe, if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck and that applies to that military type gun of yours!

It isn’t a military type gun and your saying so doesn’t make it one!

Okay, then tell me why you need to be able to fire all of those shots that quickly, anyway.

Joe, let’s say I hear a prowler approaching my house.  I see that he is armed.  Thank heaven the Second Amendment has allowed me to have an assault weapon!  If I miss the first couple of times I shoot at him, I don’t have to stop to reload. Bing, bing, bing, bing … With a single shot weapon, I might be a dead man, but with my assault rifle, I am sure to get him.  And what if there were a bunch of guys approaching my house.  I absolutely need a weapon capable of quickly mowing down all of them.  It is a necessity if I am going to be able to protect myself and my family.

Wouldn’t you be better off locking your door, Jim, and calling 911 when you spot the prowler?

Joe, the cops would take a half an hour to show up, and what’s more, that’s just not the American way!  Yessirree, if they ever pass a law to take my assault rifle away from me, in violation of the United States Constitution, they will have to pry it out of my cold dead hands … and it will be warm to the touch because I will have gotten off all of my thirty rounds.


 A Historical Look at the Right to Bear Arms

The right to bear arms as defined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution goes back to our pre-Constitutional English heritage.  The Founding Fathers didn’t invent it. 

  Englishmen had that right, as did their brethren in the colonies, to prevent the disarming of a minority by an overpowering majority, a situation made salient by the Catholic-Protestant conflict in England centuries ago, finally resolved when the Engish Bill of Rights enshrined that right in 1689.  One needed a gun to protect oneself from danger, even if that danger came from those in power in government.  This was part of the justification for the American Revolution, a military action carried out by Englishmen on this side of the Atlantic, who felt the Crown was treating them badly.

Once we were free, some of the Founding Fathers recognized the danger of maintaining a standing army.  History is filled with military leaders becoming the heads of states because they had control of an army.  Of course, it is always in their interest to attempt to disarm everyone else.  The Second Amendment’s mention of a well regulated militia echoes the individual’s right to bear arms in some sort of organized manner to avert such a danger from none other than one’s own government.  Possession of weapons for protecting oneself and one’s family was incidental to this.  The guarantees of the Second Amendment had a political intent in line with the thoughts of Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and Elbridge Gerry.

In the United Kingdom, from whence our Second Amendment guarantees have descended, citizens still have the right to possess weapons today.  They are strictly regulated, however, and military style assault weapons are not permitted.  The original political purpose of guaranteeing the right to bear arms has faded into the background and laws in the United Kingdom have adapted to dealing with weapons for personal self protection, hunting and sport activities ...  and not for  overthrowing an oppressive government.

These are the same rights which our Second Amendment should be protecting, and not the right to bear arms in the event of a government acting in such a manner that those arms must be used to defend oneself from it, and ultimately, to overthrow it.  In the twenty-first century, armaments have so evolved that realistically, such action no longer would be possible.  The halls of Congress and the Supreme Court bench are where the limits of governmental power should be challenged, and not the counter of your local gun store. 


Talk Radio Personality Laura Ingraham and scene at local gun shop

There are many Americans, unfortunately, who do not understand this, and covet their assault weapons for fancied use to fulfill unspoken political dreams, fueled by some of the constitutional extremists who can be heard on talk radio.  These dreams will never be realized, but they do reinforce opposition to gun control laws, and make assault weapons available for the unbalanced individuals who have created so much bloodshed in this country.
Jack Lippman


The other morning, the crew of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show was ruminating about the future of the Republican Party.  Although, MSNBC is sometimes as far to the left as Fox is to the right, they do feature irrefutably conservative former G.O.P. Congressman Joe Scarborough leading the daily discussions on this program.
Joe Scarborough 

The discussion that day leaned in the direction of making it clear that so long as the tune in the G.O.P. is being called by those who passionately and uncompromisingly oppose many of the programs the President and the Democrats espouse, and most importantly, who do so with an almost paranoid zealotry, that party will continue to lose any appeal to mainstream America and shortly become an irrelevancy insofar as Presidential politics are concerned.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell 

And commenting further on that zealotry, you find retired General and Secretary of State Colin Powell, back on January 12 on “Meet the Press,” chastising the Republican Party for the thinly veiled racism which is identifiable in the comments of the some of the leadership of the party and its supporters in the media, in which they wordlessly but unmistakenly, challenge the legitimacy of the country’s first non-white President.

Well, it’s a blessing that all Republicans aren’t that way.  Chris Christie and John Huntsman, and perhaps Bobby Jindal aren’t.  While right-leaning columnists Cal Thomas and Charles Krauthammer are among those who don’t seem to recognize what century we are in, the words of David Brooks (see the January 7 posting on this blog) and Kathleen Parker signify that all hope is not yet lost for the G,O.P. 
Kathleen Parker

Here is Ms. Parker’s recent Washington Post column on Ronald Reagan and gun control.  Parker is not a Democrat, but she is the kind of Republican who, it appears to me, is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with some of the ideas dominating her party.
Jack Lippman

Gun Control Proposals Hardly Draconian

Kathleen Parker
Washington Post Writers’ Group
January 11, 2013

Unlike many who recently have joined the debate about gun rights, I have a long history with guns, which I proffer only in the interest of pre-empting the "elitist, liberal, swine, prostitute, blahblahblah" charge.
I grew up in a home with guns, lots of them, and was taught early how to shoot, care for firearms and treat them respectfully. My father's rules were simple: Never point a gun at someone unless you intend to shoot them; if you intend to shoot, aim to kill.
Dear ol' dad was a law-and-order guy -- a lawyer, judge and World War II veteran who did everything by the book -- except when it came to guns. Most memorable among his many lectures was a confidence: "There is only one law in the land that I would break," he told me. "I will never register my guns."
I suppose if he hadn't also opposed bumper stickers, he might have attached the one about "cold dead fingers" to his fender. He also might have liked a slogan I read recently: "With guns, we are citizens; without them, we are subjects."
By today's standards my father would be considered a gun nut, but his sentiments were understandable in the context of his time. Like others of his generation, he had witnessed Germany's disarming of its citizenry and the consequences thereafter. Thus, the slippery slope of which gun rights advocates speak is not without precedent or reason.
But the history of gun control laws is not without contradictions and ironies that belie the current insistence that guns-without-controls is the ipso facto of originalist America. In fact, the federal government of our Founders made gun ownership mandatory for white males, while denying others -- slaves and later freedmen -- the privilege.
Today, the most vociferous defenders of gun rights tend to be white, rural males who oppose any regulation. But theirs was once the ardently held position of radical African-Americans. Notably, in the 1960s, Black Panthers Bobby Seale and Huey Newton toted guns wherever they went to make a point: Blacks needed guns to protect themselves in a country that wasn't quite ready to enforce civil rights.

Seale and Newton, armed, back in 1966
In one remarkable incident in May 1967, as recounted in The Atlantic by UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, 24 men and six women, all armed, ascended the California capitol steps, read a proclamation about gun rights and proceeded inside -- with their guns, which was legal at the time.
Needless to say, conservatives, including then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, were suddenly very, very interested in gun control.  That afternoon, Reagan told reporters there was "no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons." 
Ronald Reagan, then Governor of California
The degree of one's allegiance to principle apparently depends mainly on who is holding the gun.
While black activists were adamant about their right to protect themselves, the National Rifle Association wasn't much interested in the constitutional question until the mid-'70s when an organizational split produced a new leader, Harlon Carter, who was dedicated to advocacy and determined to dig a deep line in the Beltway sand.
The Second Amendment debate about what the Founders intended was clarified in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller determined that the right of the people to keep and bear arms included individuals, not just a "well-regulated militia." However, as Winkler pointed out, Justice Antonin Scalia's  opinion left wiggle room for exceptions, including prohibitions related to felons and the mentally ill. Scalia was not casting doubt, the justice wrote, on "laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."
This still leaves open the loophole of private sales that do not require background checks, which President Obama wants to close. We will hear more about this in coming weeks, but the call meanwhile to ban assault weapons or limit magazines in the wake of the horrific mass murder of children and others at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut is hardly draconian. It won't solve the problem of mentally disturbed people exacting weird justice from innocents, but it might limit the toll. Having to stop one's rampage to reload rather breaks the spell, or so one would imagine.
One also imagines that the old Reagan would say there's no reason a citizen needs an assault weapon or a magazine that can destroy dozens of people in minutes. He would certainly be correct and, in a sane world, possibly even electable.
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My comment:  Sooner or later the Supreme Court will have to decide whether the Second Amendment does or does not allow there to be military type weapons that can fire many rounds of ammunition in a very short time in the hands of civilians.  Whatever reforms in this direction are instituted, litigation challenging them is certain to occur.  The National Rifle Association as well as individual gun owners certainly deserve their day in court just as members of Al Qaeda, the Black Panthers and the Communist Party do.


 Eat Healthy

The AARP magazine recently published an article on “eating healthy,” which contained the following “Eat this Instead of Eating that” chart, reproduced below.  Bon Appetit!

Really Healthy Snacking

Eat Figs instead of cookies,
Brown rice instead of white rice,
Oil and vinegar instead of prepared salad dressing,
Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes,
Whole wheat bread instead of white bread,
Unbuttered popcorn instead of potato chips,
Whole wheat pretzels instead of regular pretzels,
Grilled or roasted chicken instead of fried chicken,
Piece of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate candy bar,
Handful of blueberries instead of cereal bar,
Whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta,
High-fiber cereal instead of sugary cereal,
Broiled salmon instead of fish sticks,
Steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal,

Nuts or seeds instead of chips or crackers,
Greek yogurt instead of ice cream,
Olive oil instead of butter.




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Jack Lippman

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