One man’s opinion

We don’t have a firearm problem, we have a people problem

by Rick. 0 Comments

I strongly believe in not wasting other people’s time, so if you are stridently anti-firearm, you may choose to quit reading here. If, on the other hand, you’d like to hear a reasoned, but differing opinion on firearms, please read on. I’d like to talk about a people problem we have here in the United States. It’s a people problem in that it relates to the nation’s perception that guns kill people when, in reality, like it or not, it is a person using the gun who does the killing. I’m ... read more

Breakfast in the bathroom

by Rick. 0 Comments

Not long ago my wife and I went out to breakfast at a nice little mom & pop restaurant, a luxury we sometimes afford ourselves. After a nice breakfast, a couple cups of tea, a glass of water and a bit of orange juice nature signals to my wife that it’s time to recycle the liquids – if you get my drift.

My wife returns to the table with her mouth agape because a woman in the next stall was obviously breastfeeding her baby – in the BATHROOM! My wife wasn’t irked because the woman was feeding her baby in there, she was irked because the woman felt forced to feed her baby in there. Seriously folks, without going into the gory details, is there even one of us, if given the choice, would choose to eat in the bathroom? Could we possibly find a dirtier, smellier or more disgusting place for anyone to eat, much less a baby?

As a man, I completely don’t get the American aversion to breastfeeding in public. I was told that I was breast fed and, although I don’t remember it, I’m sure it was a pleasurable experience – at least being on the receiving end of it. Thanks Mom!

I find it strange, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that once we go beyond the breastfeeding issue, America seems to be more than enamored with breasts. And, because guys are shallow and obviously infatuated with breasts, many, some, a few women choose to help us out by giving us a better view of them. Showing off their wares to thankful admirers, who are window shopping, if you will. Think not? Picture 25 thousand women on the beach at Ocean City in August. Are they trying to cover them up? Not in my world.

Further, while I’m sure many men are still wistful of the “ban the bra” era, we still have plenty of scoop and V-neck tops replete with padded push-up bras leading to more cleavage than a butcher shop. Personally, I’m okay with it and not in any way complaining.

Now before you go heaving all kinds of accusations of misogyny on me, hear me out. As Americans, we love boobs! There, I said it. Because we love them, we have all kinds of cute names for them, the twins, the girls, twin peaks, the pointer sisters and it only goes down-hill from there, so let’s just move on.

What exactly is it that we don’t want to see in public? In all cases, save one, of public breastfeeding I’ve ever seen, they went way overboard being discreet, inconveniencing themselves in the process. I applaud them!

We would be hard pressed to name anything more natural than breastfeeding, except the baby-making process – which, by the way, I don’t suggest we do in public. The breast is the first place a baby wants to go after being born and, dare I say, where most men want to go (admit it or not) for the rest of their lives.

In the case of this restaurant, I can’t imagine why anyone should have complained if this mother would have breast fed at her table, or as a temporary gesture of comprise, in a corner table or booth.

In our history there have been many wrongs which were a long time in being righted. However, once righted, we found out that it’s okay to have black people ride the bus, it’s a good thing that women vote, gays in the military haven’t caused the demise of our national security and same sex marriage won’t be the demise of our nation either.

The time has come for us to not only allow, but to encourage, discreet breastfeeding in public. I really don’t think the discreet part will be an issue because of all of the women I know, I can’t think of one that would just pull up her shirt and attach the baby. And, if she did, so what? We’re adults, we don’t tee-hee like kindergartners when someone says “underwear”, and we certainly shouldn’t be offended by something as natural as breast feeding. I’m sorry, but if the sight of a mother breastfeeding a baby offends you – then just don’t look!

My mother-in-law, a nurse, apparently used to tout all of the benefits of a mother’s breast milk, but the best part, according to her was that it came in such cute containers. I couldn’t agree more.

Ta-ta

A reasoned approach to the gun debate

by Rick. 0 Comments

Let’s start this discussion with something on which I hope we can all agree. We would all like to reduce the number of firearm-related deaths in our country. Unfortunately, from all I’ve read and heard, this idea appears to be where the agreement ends and the partisan rhetoric begins.

Unfortunately, like so many other things in our country now, there appears to be little interest in compromise. In the case of firearms you either love them or hate them. A “Keep your hands off our guns” or a “confiscate all the guns, we don’t need or want them” scenario. Neither of these positions is very helpful, and not surprisingly, I feel the solution lies between the two.

One big mistake I’ve observed when hearing discussions regarding this issue is the noticeable lack of, or acknowledgement of the facts, regarding firearm fatalities. Neither side wishes to give an inch.

If you’ve already taken a hard stance, one way or the other, I would suggest that you research and confirm the information you assume to be factual. For example, one of the proposals is to ban “assault weapons.” If you are in this camp, you should be able to define (exactly) what it is about a rifle that turns it from an ordinary rifle into an assault weapon. In other words, what is it that you want banned and how, directly, do you feel it will reduce the number of deaths by these particular rifles?

If you are in the camp which believes that not every firearm purchase should have a background check, then you should research the number of times those restricted from owning a firearm have tried to purchase them. (It’s a lot more than you may think.) Why don’t you think background checks would make us safer?

There are two well known groups whose statistics should at the very least be verified before throwing them around in defense of your position. The NRA, and the Brady Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence. Both of these organizations, while well intentioned, “have a dog in the fight” and tend to omit, or at least obfuscate, the information which doesn’t further their cause.

However, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and the Department of Justice Crime reports have no such bias.

The following information is from the FBI’s and/or DOJ’s crime reports.

Murder victims by firearms dropped every year from 2007 to 2011 (10,129 – 8,583).

Murders with all types of rifles remained constant at about 3.5 percent of the total murders by firearm. In 2011 it was 323.

Over two times as many people were killed by fists/feet as by rifle.

Five times as many were killed by knives as by rifle.

I bring up these points because the AWB (assault weapons ban), in my opinion, is “feel good” legislation which allows us to do something, and then move on. Additionally, “A 2004 critical review of research on firearms by a National Research Council panel also noted that academic studies of the assault weapon ban 'did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence' and noted due to the fact that the relative rarity with which the banned guns were used in crime before the ban ... the maximum potential effect of the ban on gun violence outcomes would be very small...."(Wikipedia)”

Another area I believe should be looked at is who is actually committing these murders with firearms, and who are they murdering. I don’t know, but I suspect the vast majority of both categories (especially the shooters) already have a criminal record and/or are already in the process of committing a crime (drug deal, robbery, home invasion) when they pull the trigger. If so, why do you think they will follow the next set of laws we enact? Additionally, these criminal acts happen multiple times every day of the year and honestly, we don’t seem to care. If criminals kill other criminals, why should we?

We only care when it’s a movie theater, a mall, a church or a school, where “people like us” get killed. The shooters in these types of incidents have all, undoubtedly, had mental issues – they were not career criminals and most had no record at all. These cases shouldn’t be used to judge the preponderance of legal firearm owners.

Let me state clearly, I will support any proposed legislation regarding firearms which I believe will further the cause of reducing the number and severity of mass shooting incidents. This is really what we’re discussing here. I don’t support “quick fix,” gun legislation which, as stated above, does little to help solve the actual problem.

I would support thorough mandatory background checks for purchasing a firearm. I would support a waiting period prior to receiving your firearm, and also a one-gun-per-30 day-period limitation in order to curb trafficking.

Other areas which need serious consideration are mental stability evaluations of purchasers, a solid review of the violent gaming industry, and mostly, enforcing our plethora of current laws without creating new ones.

We cannot, even as much as we’d like to, legislate away crime. Whether it’s rape, robbery, murder or speeding, it’s all against the law. Yet, in spite of the law, they all happen every single day, and criminals, by their very definition, don’t obey the laws. Again, one more useless law won’t deter them in the least, but I’m sure we’ll feel good about having done something.

I’m a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a firefighter. I’m a veteran, a Democrat and an NRA member. I’ve never had a single encounter with law enforcement and am, hence, legally allowed to own and carry firearms (with a permit). I am your average firearm owner.

If you’d like to get the facts on crime data, check out fbi.gov.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

———

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Preppers – Nut jobs or ahead of the curve?

by Rick. 0 Comments

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I spent plenty of my school time huddled on the floor of school hallways or under my desk in preparation for an “air raid” or nuclear attack. Was an attack actually likely, or maybe just a possibility? I don’t know, but the thing is, if it happened we were prepared.

I also was raised by Depression-era parents who truly knew the meaning of having “to do without.” We had a fair-sized pantry in our basement – “just in case.”

In case of what? Nuclear attack, severe power outage, or another Great Depression. I’m not sure, but we were prepared, as if inspired by the Ant in Aesop’s Fables, “The Ant and the Grasshopper.”

The Boy Scouts of America influenced me, too. Their motto? “Be prepared.”

It is with this none-to-subtle introduction that I admit I’ve become a Prepper. No, you won’t see me on an episode of Doomsday Preppers and I swear, I don’t have a single thing buried under ground - yet. It was not a single event that changed my direction, but a series of events and warnings. Events like hurricanes, tornados, severe (blizzard-like) snow storms, and yes, terrorists attack. It appears to me, for whatever reason, natural disasters seem to be more frequent and more severe than I remember, and hence, the victims of these events spend more and more time without food, water, power, shelter and very limited (if any) sanitary facilities. Mull that last one over for awhile. It has already happened for weeks on end.

Regarding the potential for terrorist attack, I offer this for you to ponder. Don’t think of it in terms of a 9/11 type event. There are many knowledgeable people who believe the next attack might be against our computer networks and/or the electrical grid. If they’re correct, and we suffer a major “event,” we could be off our feet for some time. Seriously, how many days or weeks could you and your family, completely fend for yourself for the bare necessities of life? My bet is, for the majority, not very long.

It is with this background that I have begun preparing. Nothing outlandish, just getting prepared, and you can too.

I’ll tell you the incremental steps I’m taking but, rest assured, there is no shortage of information available on the Internet. Look, study, form opinions and then proceed slowly and methodically.

My plan is to store enough food and water to last us for several weeks to a month or so. You may decide differently. The food will be in cans, jars and freeze dried. There’s a need for pots and utensils for the food as well as a way to cook it – a cook stove, and don’t forget the fuel for it.

Here are a few additional items to consider, a tent (your home could be uninhabitable), first aid kit, flashlights, portable radios, extra batteries, hand cleanser, and sleeping bags. If you have pets, you have to consider their needs also.

While we may not want to discuss it, we have to account for our sanitary needs. Think not? Imagine going without a toilet for just a week, now imagine several. Items such as toilet paper, baby wipes and feminine necessities could mean the difference between a tolerable and intolerable situation. Not to mention the possibility for diseases caused by lack of sanitation.

There are also those who say that you should keep an amount of cash (small bills and silver coins) available in case the banks are not functioning, and also a way to protect yourself, your family and your possessions. While in the beginning of an emergency everyone wants to help everyone else, that may not continue to be the case for the duration of the event. It’s not a dire prediction, just something to consider.

While I could continue to beat the proverbial dead horse, it’s not necessary. There are many ways in which I was already prepared in my life, and this is just an extension of those areas. I have fire extinguishers in key locations, smoke detectors, CO detectors, a life insurance policy and I generally keep at least a half a tank of gas in the cars. I may not ever need any of them (and I hope I don’t) but if I do, I’ll be very glad I have them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to work on stocking the bunker, er, pantry.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

———

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Reinventing the fire service wheel

by Rick. 0 Comments

If you were to ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you there’s no shortage of things of which I know little. However, the fire service is not one of them.

I have been associated with the fire service in one fashion or another since 1965. A long time by most standards, and hence, have seen and experienced many of the requisite volunteer-to-career changes during this period of time.

Although the majority of my time was spent as a career firefighter, like so many others, I started out as a volunteer. Sometimes I was only a volunteer, sometimes only a career firefighter and sometimes both at once. This gave me the opportunity to see the fire service from all sides of the fence. Additionally, I was fortunate to be able to achieve a degree in Fire Service Management which might lend a bit more credence to my opinions.

The Frederick County fire service is currently going through a period of growing pains, specifically regarding the official title of the top position in paid (career) service. From a regional perspective, this position also oversees the volunteer departments to varying degrees, and therein lies the rub.

As I understand it, the main thrust of this particular flap is whether the top spot should have the official title of “Chief.” This title makes sense to me, since if you were to ask the average citizen on the street the title of the top position in the fire department, they are very likely to say it’s the Fire Chief.

I’m sure a case could also be made for the title to be Director or Administrator, or for that matter, the Grand Poobah, since through the years, other jurisdictions have used these titles. Okay, maybe not the Grand Poobah.

It doesn’t matter which one is chosen, since the title is not the real issue – it’s a red herring. My guess is, the real issue with the volunteers who are against the title of Chief, is that they don’t want anyone telling them what they can and can’t do. They currently enjoy a kind of corporate autonomy.

While I can understand the frustration, we all have bosses and the buck has to stop somewhere. Normally, in the fire service, it’s with the Chief. To be clear, volunteer firefighters/EMS personnel provide a necessary and useful service to the community, and in many cases, do it very well. The same can, of course, be said of the career service.

One of the sticking points between the two groups has always been the level of training that each has, or is required, to maintain. Unfortunately, the number of hours required to certify, or recertify on fire, rescue, and EMS courses continues to rise.

From a career perspective, this essentially means logistical and monetary concerns. From a volunteer perspective, it’s more time away from home in addition to the ever increasing response volume, and even as dedicated as they are, one can only volunteer so many hours. So, where does this leave them?

Honestly, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of citizens in Frederick County neither know, nor care, whether the personnel arriving at their emergency are paid, volunteer or a combination of both.

What they want, expect and deserve are polite, professional, well trained individuals, acting cooperatively who will arrive in a timely fashion and mitigate their problem. On that, I believe we would all agree.

Sounds simple enough, so what’s the problem?

The transition from volunteer to career fire department is as predictable as the plot of a Gothic novel. No one particular group is responsible for the change. The diminution of the volunteer service has nothing to do with a sinister plot by either the career service or the government in general. It’s simply mathematics. In a nutshell, it’s essentially all related to call volume and training requirements.

Volunteer fire departments almost always started in small rural communities. They had a lot of members, very low call volume and little in the way of mandatory training requirements. All of this worked well for decades and then the population started to increase and with it, the call volume. Population and call volume are naturally and inextricably linked. Fire stations that used to respond to hundreds of calls are now responding to thousands of them, and nationally recognized training requirements in all aspects of the fire service have increased exponentially.

These two areas put an unsustainable strain on the volunteers and before long, the department is either late responding to calls, or fails to respond to them at all. In order to provide the expected services to the citizens, they decide to hire a couple of career personnel and the rest is history.

Today, in many of the volunteer fire departments, the question is not if you will have career personnel, but how many. As an example, when I was hired, in another jurisdiction, as a career firefighter, there were a total of 29 of us, and today that number is approaching 500 personnel. I guess it could occur, but I’ve never seen the number of career personnel decreased, at least for any extended period of time.

The population of Frederick County is going to continue to increase, the call volume for service will increase, the number of hours required for training will increase, and the number of career personnel will increase. On this there is no doubt.

If the volunteer fire departments want to provide the best service for the citizens of Frederick County, I suggest they stop bickering over titles, and work at staying current with national training standards, and responding to as many calls as possible, for as long as possible. Actually, it’s the only option.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

———

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

What’s done is done

by Rick. 0 Comments

As I write this, the Presidential election has been decided and the party which I supported was victorious. So, while it seems like there should be dancing in the streets, I won’t be me dancing. Why? I’ll try to explain.

The most obvious reason is none of the politicians, from the President on down, were given a clear mandate on anything. In addition to having the same President, we will also have essentially the same Congress, with the House and Senate just as politically divided as they are presently. There will be a couple of name changes here and there, but the balance of power in each chamber will remain the same.

While digesting this unfortunate set of circumstances, three sayings came to mind and I believe all provide about the same sage admonishment:

Insanity: Doing the Same Old Things and Expecting Different Results

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”

If you doubt I’m on to something here, consider this from CNN: “Shortly after multiple networks projected that Republicans would retain control of the House, Speaker John Boehner took to the stage with a message that looked ahead to the battle over the fiscal cliff - the GOP isn't budging on taxes.”

"With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates," Boehner said. Regrettably, I suspect the Majority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, will likely be making statements of the same ilk.

Of course, one can always hope this “for public consumption” rhetoric is just political grandstanding, but that some meaningful compromise will take place behind closed doors.

Look folks, I’ve said all along that the economy (and everything that entails) will improve, in the long run, and I still believe it will. I also happen to believe this will occur before my actuarial day of demise, or at least I hope so. What do I believe is the key to either a continuance of the present recovery or else going over this pending “fiscal cliff”? Cooperation and compromise on the difficult issues.

Anyone who actually knows me, or who has followed my columns, knows that while I’m a Democrat, I support more than a couple of Republican ideals. While I’ve expressed this agreement of ideals to both friends and legislators, I seldom get any warm and fuzzy reciprocal expressions of cooperation. Too bad!

Unless, of course, your definition of compromise is that I should agree with you, but you’re under no obligation to agree with my point of view.

Like it or not, for the next four years, we are either fortunate to have, or are “stuck with,” the same government we’ve had for the last four years. We have a choice to set a new course or let the ship sink. Amazingly and regrettably, I’ve had people tell me “let the ship sink.” I’m sorry, I can’t and won’t vote for that option.

I’ll recap (in the absurd) the ideals of both parties:

Republican – no government, no taxes, no regulation, and a hand gun in every pot.

Democrat – big government, big taxes, spend, spend, spend and a Daisy in every gun barrel.

While neither of these extremes are actually true, I’m sure you can see they are both true at some level. We need to move forward from there.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things. . .” Smart guy, the Walrus. The time for partisan bickering is long over, and the time for compromise and appropriate action is upon us.

While there are many issues which need addressing, I believe the most perilous is the pending “fiscal cliff.” Our government needs to hear from us that we won’t accept gridlock on this issue and they need to act cooperatively to avoid a huge economic setback and they need to do it now.

During the long campaign, Ronald Reagan’s ideology was frequently lauded as something we should strive for. Interestingly, those pushing this agenda forgot to mention Tip O’Neil, then Speaker of the House. There have probably never been two more opposite political opinions. They both completely believed they were totally right and yet, they found a way to agree (through compromise) to move the country forward. If we as a nation are to move forward now, compromise on the issues is what we need today.

Don’t just sit there and complain, let your legislator know how you feel .I’ve provided the links for you to do so:

house.gov/representatives/find/

senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

I’ll start dancing when they start compromising.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

———

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

Pretty plus – puleeze!

by Rick. 0 Comments

I’ve compiled a list of things in life that just bug me, and I felt a need to get them off my chest. Since you can never tell when you might make a positive difference in someone’s life, I chose them as the topic of this month’s column.

We all know too well that a large portion (pun intended) of our population is overweight to the point of either outright obesity, or rapidly approaching it. Knowing this, I was stunned, and more than a little discouraged, to learn one of the nation’s large retailers is now hawking a line of clothes called Pretty Plus. These clothes are marketed directly to “plus size” girls from young teens, to as low as three years old.

The clothes are, as I understand it, two inches wider, and two inches longer. I guess the retailers could give a hoot if these kids are overweight, as long as corporate profits are in line with projections. Astonishingly, the parents must not care either since, apparently, it would be easier and less stressful for all concerned to buy the kid “fat” clothes, as opposed to wresting away the corn dog and cheese doodles from them and sending them outside to play.

The clothes might as well come with a discount card for a cardiac, or diabetes, monitor.

Along the same lines, my wife and I were at a local buffet recently and were seated next to a family of four - a mom, dad, and two kids about ten years old. Mom and Dad were on the portly side but not yet morbidly obese, and the kids were showing signs of taking after their parents. I expected, and was not disappointed, that the parents had heaping plates of the “good stuff” – it was mostly fried, or a starch. One of the kids both started and finished with desert, and the other had a plate full of yellow things, with not a green vegetable in sight.

The parents have to know they themselves are overweight, and yet they allow their kids to eat in this fashion. I wish decorum would have allowed me to speak freely to them. “Fine, you’re already fat and obviously don’t care, but how about saving your kids?”

Staying on the subject of kids, we were at the beach recently and had the distinct misfortune of sitting next to a set of parents who smoked – a lot. Their child was about four years old and, one at a time, the parents took turns playing with him in the sand and waves and everyone appeared to be having a good time.

The trouble was, that while one played with the child, the other hustled off to puff a cigarette. The furtive glances, and head nods, between the parents indicating they needed a “fix” was amusing.

I appreciate that these parents realize they’re addicts and were trying to shield the child from the smoke, but how long can this ruse last? Given the amount they were smoking, I calculate they’re spending about four hundred and fifty dollars per month. Might that money not be better spent on their child’s college fund?

I have to be careful what I suggest they do with their money because I was already publicly admonished for suggesting how Romney might better spend his multi-millions instead of sending it the Cayman Islands. So, hey, spend it anyway you want, just don’t ask me for scholarship money later because you’re broke.

In a previous column I stated that my wife and I had agreed not to talk/text and drive. We just don’t do it, because it is literally, as they say, “an accident waiting to happen.” Well, here we are, approximately two years later, and we still don’t do it, and I don’t know of a single thing that we’ve missed (except maybe an accident) or any negative consequence for not taking or making a call. Unfortunately, the general public has not followed suit.

My job allows me a significant amount of time driving a truck where I get a “quick glance” inside the vehicles passing me as they wiz by. Of course I get to see all kinds of things, but the thing I see more than any other is the use of a handheld phone. Since Maryland’s new law, people now hold their phone on their laps so the police can’t see them using the phones. This is actually worse, because they now have to look down to type. Even if I couldn’t see in the vehicle, it’s easy to tell when someone is driving distracted – they’re either crossing the lane lines or going forty miles per hour in the middle of the Interstate.

Get a grip folks!

None of your phone calls are that important. If you insist on continuing with this vice, I request you please notify me when you have your accident – strictly for statistical purposes, of course.

My last rant is about personal responsibility. You may not have heard about it, since it appears to be a dying art. The short version is this: You are responsible for the consequence of your actions, or lack of actions. Own up to them, accept them, and be proud of having the character to do so.

When some calamity happens, it is often not the fault of “someone else.” If you spill hot coffee in your lap, you are responsible.

If you allow your kids to eat a boxcar load of “Happy Fries,” don’t sue the buffet when the kids need Plus sized clothes. It’s your fault.

If, after all of the warnings and medical evidence, you still smoke like a Pittsburgh chimney or chew like a cow, and end up with cancer, don’t even think about filing a law suit - it’s likely you did it.

Finally, if you decide to talk/text and drive and severely injure, or kill someone, don’t blame the phone or the car manufacturer, it’s your fault – own up to it.

Not to worry, next month’s column will be much more cheery as it will be my take on the upcoming election. I’ll be back from my treasure hunt in the Cayman’s by then.

That’s my opinion, what’s yours?

———

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

No one leaves here alive

by Rick. 0 Comments

The victims of the recent shooting incidents in Colorado and Wisconsin, and their families, have my sincerest sympathies and prayers. Tragedies like this leave us shaken, thinking that could have been me or my family. An understandable reaction.

Im sure many of us would like to stick around for a very long time, yet we all have to go at some point, and none of us knows when. Theres a country song titled Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven (but nobody wants to go now). This not wanting to go might be at least partially responsible for the national outcry for gun control every time there is a mass shooting incident. I believe the suddenness, and sheer violence, of gun fire is also causing part of the reaction. A sort of recoil, if you will.

I say this because, from a strictly statistical point of view, the numbers of firearm-related injuries and fatalities pale in comparison to most every other category where lives are lost. The actual numbers arent as important here as just a common sense approach to considering them. For example, the number of people injured or killed in all manner of transportation accidents far out-number gun related deaths. Then there are the multitudes of disease-related deaths and medical malpractice deaths. Also, using Colorado as an example shows, it is not just the number (12) of people killed, but the way they were killed that starts the gun restriction ball rolling.

Interestingly, some of the same folks who normally abhor Federal regulations of any type, now suddenly, want Federal regulation. And, if guns are to be more tightly regulated, shouldnt the states be doing it?

Besides, Federal regulation has only had limited success in cases such as Prohibition, seat belt usage, impaired driving (alcohol and drugs), and cell phone usage while driving. The fact is you can regulate all you want, but there will always be plenty of people willing to ignore the laws including overly restrictive firearm laws.

Lets look at the crime aspect of this subject. The statistics regarding homicides show the preponderance of them are committed with a firearm (no surprise there) and then knives, blunt objects and other, respectively. Im assuming explosives and poisons, as well as vehicular homicide, would be in the last category.

The point is, a certain element of persons in our society will be intent on killing either an individual or multiple people, and no regulation is going to stand in their way. On top of being a mass murderer, the perpetrator will also be violating Section 3.14159 of a fictitious penal code, which clearly forbids carrying a firearm, knife, bomb or poison. Its not likely they care.

My guess is that if you were to deduct all homicides by firearms which were drug or other crime related, the numbers would look much different. Why does that matter? Most of us havent shed a tear over the loss of a person who was either buying or selling drugs or committing a robbery or some other criminal act. If one innocent person gets shot and killed in the process, there may be a little local news coverage, but it doesnt illicit the outcry for major gun control like a mass shooting does.

Let me be clear, Im not saying we shouldnt discuss the reasonable regulation of our firearms we should. However, you dont have to be a Rhodes Scholar to know the definition of reasonable varies greatly depending on your particular side of the fence. With one side wanting essentially a complete gun ban, and the other wanting no restrictions at all, there is a huge divide which will be difficult to cross.

I understand the gun owners not wanting to discuss regulation, because they suspect, and are probably correct, once the armor is chinked, the dam is cracked, or the camel gets its nose under the tent, theres no stopping it. If you doubt that to be true, take a look at legalized abortions. Roe v. Wade was decided by SCOTUS in 1973 and has been gutted by increasing regulation by inches ever since, with the express intent of doing away with them entirely. Gun owners are not ignorant of that fact. Again, as an interesting side note, Id be willing to bet the vast majority of gun owners are also anti-abortion. If so, they want Federal regulation on one hand and not on the other. A bit of a dichotomy, no?

For decades I supported gun control and voted for legislators who felt the same way. Less than a year ago, and after much deliberation, I changed my opinion. In the last year, I purchased a couple of guns, have taken numerous classes, practiced endlessly, and obtained my concealed carry permit from a state other than Maryland. I am a responsible firearm owner and, where allowed, carrier.

It was not a single incident which finally pushed me across the line, but merely watching, reading and listening to the everyday news. Crime has changed in America and is now, not only rampant, but extremely violent. It seems the people committing these crimes will stop at nothing to get what they want, and they put no value on human life.

I also realized there was far too much crime and too few police officers to adequately protect the public in a timely manner. The closet police officers in Aurora Colorado were two blocks away!

It became obvious, in most cases, if we are to be protected from a personal attack, we will have to be prepared to do it ourselves. The police are simply outnumbered.

The most enlightening and pleasant surprise to me about entering the gun community, was the people. Yes, of course there are zealots, but for the most part, the people in the gun community are everyday citizens like you and me. In fact, if you didn't personally know someone was involved with guns, you're not likely to suspect it through their actions. Additionally, I have never seen a group so concerned about safety. Every day, all the time, with no let up - it's very comforting.

In my opinion, the facts will support the claim that where guns are allowed to be carried, serious crime goes down. It makes sense if you think about it. If you were going to rob a convenience store, would you rob the one with the police car outside? Not likely. Its the same philosophy with citizens carrying guns. If you think the clerk, or the customer next to you, might be armed, you might choose to go elsewhere. Without belaboring the point, most everything I previously thought about the gun community was wrong.

I have been a firefighter and EMT for decades. I'm a husband, father and grandfather, and I'm a responsible, law-abiding citizen. Allowing me to carry a firearm not only allows me, should it be needed, to protect myself, but my family and the community at large. Finally, I believe firearm ownership, and particularly concealed carry, actually makes you a better, more responsible citizen we cant afford to be otherwise.

Thats my opinion, whats yours?

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

A couple of political rants

by Rick. 0 Comments

Im on vacation again, and, just like last year, Im going to offer my opinion on several topics which either dont justify a full column, or I just havent had the inclination to write about them yet.

SCOTUS and the ACA: Thanks to the deciding vote of Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Courts affirmative landmark decision of the Affordable Care Act will likely change health care in America forever.

Since I suspect none of us have actually read the law and therefore are only repeating what weve ingested via our own left/right leaning news sources, we cant speak authoritatively on the subject. However, this is my take on it.

When this decision was announced, the speed and vehemence with which the Republicans threatened to repeal, not amend, the entire bill was sickening. Is there not one Republican with cojones enough to say There must be something worth saving in a two thousand page document.?

This is especially true for Mitt Romney, considering his RomneyCare in Massachusetts has all of the benefits of the national ACA, it has already proved itself worthy in that state, and he pushed it through the legislature. Let me get this straight, Massachusetts absolutely had to have RomneyCare, and now the nation doesnt need the ACA? Hypocritical does not even begin to cover his temerity.

As if the response by the politicians wasnt bad enough in its own right, Romneys campaign took in an estimated 4.6 million dollars in ONE day! Wait-a-minute. Are these the same people who are suffering through a horrible economy, no doubt unemployed (maybe for years), cant buy food or health insurance, cant pay the bills, lost their house, and yet, they got on their computers and donated this kind of dough via a credit card? Something doesnt smell right to me. Health care legislation alone cannot muster the lemmings this quickly.

Im beginning to sense there may be another, more sinister, reason the Red States want Obama out of the White House, but who would dare say it? After all, a hundred and fifty years really isnt all that long, is it?

The economy: Before Chief Justice Roberts opened the bomb bay doors and dispatched his traitorous (according to many) opinion, everything political was about the economy. Now? Except for the extremely worn out jobs mantra, the economy (per se) gets barely a sound bite. Lets discuss it anyway.

I visualize our economy as on oil tanker (approximately a thousand feet long) and consequently, once its headed in the wrong direction, it takes a long time to turn it around. I believe the public has been misled into believing that the economy went down the drain overnight, instead of the several years it actually took. Now everyone expects it to make a u-turn like a VW Beetle. You can wish all you want, like that pony for Christmas, but its not going to happen. The economy is improving, albeit slowly, and continually asking are we there yet is in no way helpful.

And, while it wont stop the drum beat of jobs, I will, none-the-less, address the issue. When President Obama took office in 2009 the unemployment rate was 6.8%, and with the failed economy, rose to a high of 10 percent in October of that year. However, since then, it has been trending down and has stood at about 8.2 percent for the last six months.

Could the rate be lower? Absolutely, but it could have also remained much higher without his intervention. Lets face it, the economy is going to improve eventually (because its cyclical) whether Obama, or Romney, is the President. I bet you a potatoe even Dan Quayle could do it in time.

Speaking of jobs, remember when I said thered be a price to pay for running off the immigrant farm hands? It happened, as reported in Eatocracy/CNN.com:

The farmers commissioned a study from the University of Georgias Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development to determine the extent of damage the shortage had done.

The study examined seven staple Georgia crops, Vidalia onions included. The findings were shocking: 18 Vidalia-producing farms lost an estimated $16,312,345 and 835 jobs. In total, the seven crops studied lost almost $75 million and more than 5,200 jobs because of the labor shortage.

Keep in mind this study is based on only seven crops, and its just one study. I wonder what the total loss across the entire agricultural industry might be, what those immigrants might have purchased with those wages, and how many small businesses might have hired workers because of those purchases? Its not a sermon, just a thought.

A final note on the economy: Has anyone noticed the stock market is up about 45% over the last 3 years? Coincidence, I think not. If you get the blame, shouldnt you also get the credit?

The Election: In November well decide whos going to be steering the ship for the next four years. It likely wont come as a surprise to you that I plan to vote for the current President. Its not because hes a Democrat, but because (to paraphrase) I like my money, guns and freedom and [I will gladly] keep the CHANGE.

Lets not forget, Romney is a gazillionaire. Its true, he got there the American way hard work and sometimes on the backs of others. In other years, we would be screaming corporate executive, he makes more in a year than Ill see in a lifetime, he closed businesses, he shipped jobs overseas, he has off shore bank accounts. Were not hearing it this year because hes all the Republicans have to offer. Except while governor, (where, did I mention, he implemented a health care plan?) his entire career has been based on greed. Its not a trait I value in a President, and while those certainly are reasons enough to not cast a vote for Romney, the main reason I wont vote for him is he tied his dog to the roof of his car and went on vacation. And, as they say in the courtroom, this speaks to character. Its a fatal flaw in my opinion.

Thats my opinion, whats yours?

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.

The ultimate Tug of War game

by Rick. 0 Comments

Recently my wife and I had the pleasure of attending a Scottish Games festival at a North Georgia park. These athletes perform feats which are an amazing demonstration of strength, agility and technique. In one event they heave a 56 pound block of steel 9 feet in the air, using only one arm! No wonder few in history have been interested in tangling with a Scot.

It must have been these games that made me think of tug of war. Im sure you remember, its the game which pits one team of players (say red and blue) against the other in a test of strength unity, and endurance. Each team tries their best to pull the other into the mud (think media) with a rope. Generally, there is a rag, or ribbon, which denotes the middle of the rope. We could, for the sake of argument, call this marker legislation.

Was all of that too obvious?

I could go on all or nothing, team captains, line in the sand (mud), the games not over until the entire other team falls down but I think you get the idea.

Tug of war is a fun game, on the athletic field. In my opinion, its a divisive, non-productive, and shameful game in the halls of Congress.

I find it unfathomable that we, the American people, actually want, and would vote for, hard-line-caused, Congressional gridlock. Weve had it before, and were reliving it now. It appears were destined to keep living it, suffering the result that essentially nothing meaningful ever gets accomplished. Unfortunately, we have obviously moved away from whats best for the people, to whats best for the party. I must sound like a broken record, but compromise is still not a dirty word, and there is a reason for the color grey not everything is black and white.

The apparent leader of this hard line stance is the Tea Party. Its not that I generally disagree with their principles, I dont, but I vehemently disagree with their hard-line methods. Incidentally, the Tea Party is not a non-affiliated third political party. They are the extreme right, my way or the highway, arm of the Republican Party. Yes, I know there are a couple of Democrats in the wood pile, but that doesnt change the facts. Let the membership roll speak for itself.

It is, these very Tea Party-supported, candidates, and those like them, who are at the heart of our present problem. However, let me be clear, the candidates do not, even as much as theyd like to, elect themselves. We the people have to vote for them in order for them to be elected. Consequently, voting for a no-compromise hard-liner is like voting to support gridlock. You may as well vote to support pollution.

I am not against belonging to a group of like-minded people. Let me mention several groups while you do a gut check as to your opinion of a person who might be a member of one of these groups.

The ACLU, NRA, AFL-CIO, PETA, PLFLAG, NAACP, Greenpeace, Pro-life Action League.

All of these organizations have good intentions, as well as some valid points. Unfortunately, it seems they each always take their positions to the extreme, thereby alienating many folks (including me) along the way. Can someone please say moderation?

Another very unfortunate consequence of this hard-line political thinking is the roller coaster of laws which get enacted because of it. For example, this year we have health care laws and next year we dont. This year we have Second Amendment rights and next year we dont.

If we were to enact legislation as a result of compromise, instead of plain old partisan politics, its likely we could tweak a law instead of calling for its repeal, or worse, sending it to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

I say worse because I once had the utmost confidence and trust in SCOTUS. I believed they would fairly and impartially judge a case based solely on its merits as it related to the Constitution. Apparently, this was a misplaced trust.

While my opinion of SCOTUS had been shifting of its own accord, two recent occurrences cemented the deal for me. The first was their decision saying, essentially, that corporations have rights under the constitution thereby allowing hundreds of millions of dollars to flow into our elections. That decision (purely political and likely to be reversed) now assures us that we will have the best government money can buy. This is surely what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution, they must be so pleased.

The second occurrence was a book I read called Scorpions by Noah Feldman. While the book mainly addresses the career path of only four justices during FDRs tenure, it sheds a clear light on the behind-the-scenes politics of the court and their loyalties to the President who appointed them. It opened my eyes to the true political nature of the court and particularly how split decisions are rendered. I have no doubt that the allegiances to party and President today are at least as strong as they were then, if not more so.

There are a massive amount of Senators and Congressmen up for reelection this year. We have five months to pay close attention to who they are, what they think, and where they are on the political spectrum. I suggest we use the time wisely and choose carefully.

While a hard-liner may look good today, we will be stuck with their no- compromise, gridlock-causing position for years to come.

Thats my opinion, whats yours?

Rick Godfrey writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.