Thursday, April 17, 2014

Little Lent

Well, Lent "officially" ends today. However, I consider the next two days (Good Friday and Holy Saturday) to be a "Little Lent" because though it is a short period of time, they are the darkest days of the liturgical year.

This year Lent has been a rather dry experience for me. I mean that spiritually, not literally. I let the world get in the way of my prayer life and my prayer life suffered for it. I've had worse Lents, and better Lents, so I'm not complaining, just observing.

But it got me thinking about slippery slopes. At the beginning of Lent I had intended to read "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St. Francis de Sales. I began in earnest, but soon found myself reading other things. I intended to use the time I spent playing computer games to devote more time to prayer. That time evaporated - I still don't know to where.

One thing I did read was "Come Rack, Come Rope" by Robert Hugh Benson. It is a historical novel about a Catholic living in England under Elizabeth I. The book got me thinking about martyrdom. There's a quote form Flannery O'Connor “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.” It's one thing to face death for the faith, but another to be constantly pecked at. Some of the characters in the book experience this.

We're seeing the same thing in the persecution of Christians in the world and in our country today. "Oh just pay for the contraception. It's only a few dollars." Then why is it a $30,000 fine not to pay? "Oh just bake the cake. It's only a bit of flour and frosting." Then why is it a $500,000 lawsuit not to bake it? We are not being martyred per se, but are forced to violate our conscience in tiny ways more and more.

And where does that slippery slope end? Like in Breaking Bad, will there be a time when we find we can no longer refuse to comply? God grant me the strength to pick up my cross again and continue.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Felons

New York will have 1 million more felons tomorrow than it had yesterday.

What happened? Did busloads of criminals arrive from all over the country? There are "only" 2.5 million felons in the entire country! Where did they come from?

Well, they didn't "come from" anywhere - they committed a felony right there in New York.

Oh my! What kind of crime did they commit? Was there a complete breakdown of law in the state? blood running in the gutters? Businesses and whole cities destroyed by looting? Do tell!

No, the crime they committed was owning a small metal and plastic box. A box that is sooooo scary, New York lawmakers have said that people who have such a box must go to prison for years and years to keep the "good" citizens safe.

Well then, what does this box contain? It must be something horrible! Um, the box contains a spring. That is the thing that is so horrible that society must protect itself from it.

And New York is not alone. Earlier this year, some 350,000 Connecticut citizens become felons for owning the same boxes. And if New Jersey lawmakers have their way, about 750,000 New Jersians will become felons later this year.

That's almost doubling the number of felons in the United States, in one year, for owning a metal box.

The reasoning behind banning this metal box is the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. The idea is that if we ban magazines (a magazine is a metal box with a spring that holds ammunition) that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, our schools will be safe. That's because the next time a madman opens fire on children, if he has to switch magazines more often it'll slow him down so that perhaps a child or two can run away.

Seriously? That's the best way to stop a madman with a gun? To slow him down so that after the first 10 children are shot one might be able to get away? More on that later, but let's go into why this won't work.

First off, let's look at how much time a bad guy loses in changing magazines.


I'm going to consider the bad guy an expert, because it seems the mass murders we know about have all spent lots of time rehearsing for their big event.

In the video above a shooter is timed firing 30 aimed shots at multiple targets using the following:

  • 2 standard capacity (15 round) magazines
  • 3 low capacity (10 round) magazines
  • 5 low capacity 6 round magazines

results?

Magazines x RoundsTime (seconds)
2 x 1520.64
3 x 1018.05
5 x 621.45

Well, maybe the overall time wasn't that different, but could someone tackle the shooter? No. Not only is the magazine change too fast, but it you notice, the shooter does what Adam Lanza did in the Sandy Hook shooting - uses what's called a "tactical reload." In a tactical reload, you don't wait until you have fired all your rounds before changing magazines, you save at least one, which is loaded in the gun during the magazine change. So if someone tries to rush you during the magazine change you still have a loaded gun to fire at them.

So if you are a prepared shooter, carrying extra magazines, the size of those magazines is not a big impediment. What about a home defender, who wakes up in the middle of the night to an intruder breaking into his home and threatening his family?

Well, he is likely not carrying multiple magazines around with him, nor does he have a tactical vest with pockets to carry multiple magazines, so he is limited to whatever he has in the gun. In the case of these laws, 10 rounds (7 for New York). Isn't that enough to stop a home invader? If we listen to fiction author Stephen King it is. He wrote:

"If you can't kill a home invader... with 10 shots you need to go back to the local shooting range."
First of all, if you can't kill a home invader with 10 shots you can't go back to the local shooting range, you go to the morgue, so it's a little more serious an issue than King makes it out to be.

Secondly, as stated in the video above:
Nationally 75-80% of rounds fired by trained police officers in lethal force encounters miss their intended target entirely.
and
Numerous law enforcement post-shooting studies have shown that multiple good hits may be required to stop an attack.
Remember, these are trained police officers who are getting 2-2.5 hits out of a 10 round magazine, and that may not be enough to stop an attacker. Add to that the fact that in most of the home invasion stories I have seen there were more than one invader involved (usually 2 or 3).

So if trained police officers could not on average stop a home invasion with 10 rounds, what right does King (or our legislators) have to tell citizens that 10 rounds is enough for them? In fact these same lawmakers exempted police officers (and themselves) from the 10 round limit, so clearly they recognize the need for more than 10 rounds.

And citizens realize it as well, which explains the number of people who have refused to comply. As the saying goes, they would rather be "tried by 12 than carried by 6." They would rather run the risk of jail than death.

Oh, and for those of you who say these limitations are legitimate limits on the second amendment because  "the founding fathers didn't have to face issues like 'high capacity' (sic) magazines," the image at the top of this post is the Giradoni rifle, in use since 1780, which had a 20 round magazine.

Now, let's get back to the issue of stopping a madman with a gun at a school. Our lawmakers have said this is a big problem that they intend to solve. Well, what stops a bad guy with a gun? A police officer? Why is that? Oh, he is a good guy with a gun? Yes, you are correct. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. So why have we banned good guys with guns from our schools? For that matter, why don't we allow school staff to be trained and armed? After all, they have already gone through background checks, and we already trust our children with these people.

I think it would be a more effective way to stop a bad guy than to tell our children to let him shoot their classmates until they guess he might possibly be out of ammunition and then hope he fumbles and forgot to save a bullet so they can run away while he switches magazines.

What do you think?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Joke

Apropos tax day...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Joke

Pat and Mike get jobs at the local sawmill. The foreman warns them to be careful of the blade, because it's easy to get too close.

They are careful, until one day, Mike slips and his arm gets severed by the big saw. Pat quickly puts the limb in a plastic bag and rushes it and Mike to the local hospital.

Next day, Pat goes to the sawmill for work, and there's Mike waiting for him! Pat couldn't believe it, but there's Mike out the back using his now re-attached arm. "Why aren't you in the hospital?" he asks.

"Oh, my family's always been fast healers - nothing stops us" replies Mike.

A couple of days go by, and then Mike slips again and severs his leg on another big saw. Pat puts the limb in a plastic bag and rushes it and Mike off to the Hospital. And again, the next day Mike is back at work. "How do you do it?" Pat asks.

"Oh when you have a good constitution you heal quick" says Mike. "My family's never missed a day of work for sickness or accidents"

But, as usual, within a couple of days he has another accident and severs his head. Once again Paddy puts the head in a plastic bag and transports it and Mike to the hospital.

Next day he goes to the sawmill, but Mike isn't there. All day Pat looks for him, and after work heads over to the hospital.

"Where's Mike?" he asks the nurse.

"Oh, poor Mike died" she says.

Paddy is shocked, but not surprised. "I suppose the saw finally did him in."

"No", says the nurse, "Some idiot put his head in a plastic bag and he suffocated.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lonesome Lent

So I haven't blogged much in a while. For this  I apologize. Yes, I'm very busy, but so are we all. I have a million tiny things I could blog about, but I never find the time to do so because they don't seem, well, big enough. I'm going to try to change that.

I've been having a very spiritually dry Lent once again. In fact, the only Lent in recent years that was fruitful was the one when I was in the middle of a Bible study. Perhaps that's a clue as to what I should be doing. But the study on Matthew just ended and we're all taking a break.

Today at mass we heard the story of Lazarus. I thought about blogging on that but there are so many things to talk about that it would be a book! So I'm blogging about the songs instead. I am a hymn snob. By that I mean I want to be able to sing the hymn, not have it performed for me, and I want the hymn to have some sort of meaning that's Christian, Catholic Christian.

Today I got to hear "Lonesome Valley." Perhaps I'm missing something but to me this song is not Catholic at all, and not Biblical at all. I'm OK with Jesus walking the lonesome valley, but us? First off, Jesus told us He would be with us always, until the end of the age. Now I know Protestants don't take that literally, but Catholics sure do. Then there are our guardian angels, who walk with us. Plus we have the Communion of Saints - we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

The third verse is problematic too. For although we do stand alone in the judgement in the sense that we are responsible for our own actions, we are not totally along again. Jesus intercedes for us, as do Mary and the Saints, once again. I guess the words could be taken multiple ways.

I realize we are entering the Passiontide, but "Lonesome Valley," except for the first verse, doesn't fit with the season or with the readings for the day. We'll see what comes up next week. My vote (which I don't get a vote) would be one of my favorite hymns, "O Sacred Head Now Wounded." Here are a couple of versions for reflection.



Friday, April 4, 2014

A Year of Insanity

So about a year ago I started bookmarking stories that I happened to notice about "weapons" and schools. This is not something where I went out and looked for them, so I'm sure this is not an exhaustive list, but it's long enough (well, actually any one of these stories would be one too many). I did it not out of some vendetta, but because I read a story about a small child being suspended for a toy gun and recalled having read all too many similar stories. Turns out I just happened across 29 stories in less than a year, all across the US. This is insane. In none of these cases was any crime committed, or even intended. In fact, in most of these cases the "weapon" was fictional. In fact, the picture above is of one of the "weapons."

So without further ado, here's the list:
A 16-year-old high school student and two others who wrestled a gun away from another teenager threatening to shoot are being treated as anything but heroes — in fact, they were suspended by their high school for the potential life-saving actions.
A sophomore at Cypress Lake High School in Florida led the two others in taking the gun away from a 15-year-old who was threatening to shoot on the bus ride home on Tuesday. Witnesses told Fox 4 Now that the student aimed the weapon point blank at another student and threatened to pull the trigger.
The spat allegedly took place between the gun-wielding student, identified by WVZN-TV as Quadryle Davis, and another teen who had been arguing with his friend.
The student who was targeted said he saw Davis with a gun in his lap. They then began to fight, and Davis pointed the gun at him and threatened to shoot.
“I think he was really going to shoot him right then and there,” said the student who wrestled the .22 caliber RG-14 Revolver away. “Not taking no pity.”
He added: “No doubt. He was going to shoot him point blank.”
Authorities confirmed that the gun was loaded.
The 16-year-old tackled the potential shooter, a football player, and two others joined to help get the gun away.
The next day, all three students who wrestled the gun away were suspended for three days.

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/553098/students-wrestle-gun-away-from-potential-school-shooter-get-suspended/#qg9ogOSsrrrBfyD2.99
  • A 16-year-old high school student and two others who wrestled a gun away from another teenager threatening to shoot are being treated as anything but heroes — in fact, they were suspended by their high school for the potential life-saving actions. A sophomore at Cypress Lake High School in Florida led the two others in taking the gun away from a 15-year-old on the bus ride home. The student aimed the weapon point blank at another student and threatened to pull the trigger. Authorities confirmed that the gun was loaded. The 16-year-old tackled the potential shooter, a football player, and two others joined to help get the gun away. The next day, all three students who wrestled the gun away were suspended for three days.
  • Jared Marcum, the eighth grade Logan, West Virginia student who was suspended and arrested after refusing to change his NRA t-shirt at school, was met by several supporters Monday morning outside of Logan Middle School.  "He was arrested, he was put into handcuffs, he was removed from the school and brought to the Logan City Police Department," White said.
  • An Illinois father wants a school district to reconsider its dress code after his son was asked to remove a U.S. Marines T-shirt or be suspended. Daniel McIntyre, 44, of Genoa, told FoxNews.com that his 14-year-old son, Michael, was asked to remove the T-shirt by eighth-grade teacher Karen Deverell, who said the garment’s interlocking rifles was problematic and had to be removed from sight.
  • A high school student in Florence, AZ, said he has been suspended because of a picture of a gun. The picture shows an AK-47 on top of a flag. McClaine said the school initially suspended him for three days Friday. "This gun wallpaper does not show anything that's violent. It's not showing anybody getting shot in any way. It's just a picture of a gun. It's nothing -- nobody getting shot, nobody getting it pointed at them, it's nothing," said McClaine. McClaine said the gun is not his. He's interested in joining the military and said he found it on the internet.
  • A mom believes a South Philadelphia elementary school went too far when she says administrators punished her little girl for pulling out a paper gun in class. The paper gun, according to her mom, looks something like a sheet of paper folded over. Her mom says it was made by the girl's grandfather the day before. Her mom said that a school administrator scolded her in front of the entire class and school staff even searched her, with other kids watching the whole time. Valentin says she went to throw it away, but a boy saw it and called the administrators. "He yelled at me and said I shouldn't have brought the gun to school and I kept telling him it was a paper gun but he wouldn't listen," Valentin said.
  • A Madison City School suspended a seven-year old boy today for having a piece of paper with drawings of firearms on it. His father was told he was being suspended for one day for “extensive knowledge of firearms” and for possessing drawings of guns on a piece of paper. His father is a Federal Agent and a firearms instructor for his agency, so naturally his son has knowledge of firearms, what to do if he sees a gun, etc.  When the father got to school, his son began crying because he thought his dad was being arrested. A school resource officer was present, and another police officer had been called to the scene. The child’s bag had been searched for weapons.
  • A 13-year-old girl was suspended from school after she was accused of threatening her teacher.  Taylor was wearing an NYPD shirt at school. She says in the last moments of math class, she and some friends were pretending to be police officers.  "I was shooting the markers at the front of the board," Taylor Trostle said. "It was just like this and I was like 'pow pow' and then she just turned around." Taylor was sent to the principal's office and immediately suspended for three days. Her write up says the finger gun was pointed in the teacher's direction.  "That was considered a terroristic threat because the teacher feared for her life," Kristin Trostle said.
  • Eagle Scout Cole Withrow was just a few weeks from graduating with honors from his North Carolina high school, but now the active church member is facing a felony weapons charge and a precarious future after accidentally leaving a shotgun in his pickup truck in the school parking lot. When he realized his mistake, he went to the front office to call his mother for help.  But when he asked her to come and take the gun, he was overheard in the private conversation. They found the shotgun in Withrow’s locked vehicle. The situation was turned over to law enforcement immediately. He was also expelled for 365 days – meaning that he will not be able to graduate from high school.
  • OWINGS, MD -- The father of a middle schooler in Calvert County, Md. says his 11-year-old son was suspended for 10 days for merely talking about guns on the bus ride home. According to his father, he neither threatened nor bullied anyone. "He said, I wish I had a gun to protect everyone. He wanted to defeat the bad guys. The boy was questioned by the principal and a sheriff's deputy, who also wanted to search the family home without a warrant, Henkelman said.
  • A group of students from Chase Lake Elementary School in Edmonds, Washington, asked their teacher if they could bring Nerf guns to school. The teacher gave permission, but the school punished the children with suspension anyway. The students even had a perfectly legitimate reason to bring the guns to school; they wanted to fire foam darts 100 times as part of a probability experiment. The school stands strong by its convictions. “Again, it’s a matter of safety and it’s of the utmost importance."
  • A 12-year-old boy was suspended from a Coventry middle school after his parents said he brought a small gun keychain to school. Joseph Lyssikatos said the keychain was in his backpack at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School on Thursday when it fell out. The keychain in question is slightly larger than a quarter. Joseph told NBC 10 he bought it for 25 tickets at an arcade.
  • Cody Chitwood, 17, went fishing several days before and left his two fishing poles and tackle box in his car. Little did he know that Lassiter administrators would order a K-9 search of the parking lot on Sept. 17 and a dog would hit on his car. That was enough for police to order a thorough search of his 1998 BMW 328i. They found four knives, all of them with blades of at least 2.5 inches, according to the arrest warrant. Three of them, including a fillet knife and a spring-assisted knife, were inside his tackle box in the trunk. “I enjoy fishing. I go fishing probably once a week, sometimes twice a week,” said Chitwood, who has been suspended for 10 days by Lassiter Principal Chris Richie. “I just forgot that it was in there. I had my fishing poles in the car, too.” He was charged with carrying a weapon in a school safety zone, which is a felony in Georgia.
  • Andrew Williams never thought when he pulled into the student parking lot that he would leave school as an accused felon. Campus police got an anonymous tip of smoke rising from Williams’ car in the student parking lot that smelled like marijuana “We just walked out there and I watched him search my car,” Williams said Sanford opened the center console of the car and found a pocket knife. The blade measured 3 inches, long enough to place Williams in violation of Section 16-11-127.1 of the Georgia state penal code: “Carrying weapons within a school safety zone.” Among the forbidden weapons is any knife with a blade longer than 2 inches.
  • A Canadian father was arrested and strip-searched Wednesday after his 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun in her kindergarten class. Ontario dad Jesse Sansone told the Toronto Sun his little girl’s drawing was supposed to be him, getting monsters and bad guys. Her teacher apparently thought differently, and the school contacted child protective services. When Sansone arrived to pick his daughter up, three police officers were waiting to take him into custody. When Sansone got to the school, he was told only that he was being arrested for possession of a firearm and given no additional details. At the police station, he was forced to remove his clothes for a full strip search. While he sat in a jail cell, police even brought his pregnant wife to the station for more questioning. The “gun” his children told police about? A toy pistol that shoots foam darts, which police discovered during a search of his house.
  • A South Carolina mother says her son was suspended for drawing a picture of a cartoon bomb at home and bringing it to school. "They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent," Parham told the station. "They knew he was not actually having a bomb, creating or making a bomb. But that they could not go with out making an example of him." Rhett, who has autism, was suspended indefinitely by school administrators.
  • School officials are no fans of gun ban signs.  “The intent of the stickers is to inform those with a concealed-carry license that they are not allowed to bring a gun into this location.” “It is not necessarily something you’d want on a school building,” District 123 Supt. Paul Enderle said. “But it correlates with the law, and I think if it ultimately helps to keep schools safe, that’s the objective.” The image can be frightening, Byrne said, “but if it keeps the world safer, that’s OK. The No. 1 thing we do for kids in general is keep their school safe.”
  • Dwayne Ferguson spent more than a decade advocating for nonviolence and peace in the streets of Buffalo. He was a well-known face in the movement for the SAFE Act, the state law that made carrying a gun on school property a felony. He was also a familiar presence in the hallways of the city’s Harvey Austin Elementary School, where he worked in the after-school program and mentored students. No one imagined that on Thursday he would show up at the school in possession of a gun, touching off an hours-long lockdown, search and ultimately his arrest on two felony charges.
  • On Thursday, Duren-Sanner, a senior at Northeast High School drove his father's car to school. During a random lockdown, his car was chosen to be searched. Duren-Sanner gave permission because he said he had nothing to hide. His father is a commercial fisherman and apparently left a fishing knife in the car. Duren-Sanner's father said it might have been wedged between one of the seats. School officials suspended him for 10 days, the maximum allowed under school policy, and then he was reprimanded to attend 90 days at an alternative school. Duren-Sanner will not be able to attend prom, his JROTC ball or walk at graduation. It's unclear whether he'll be able to graduate at all. He also faces weapons charges with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department.
  • Wiser was taking Firefighter 2 and EMT courses. He completed the law enforcement course, received several certifications, including the National Terror Defense certification from FEMA, the Terror Recognition certification and (certification as an) Emergency Vehicle Operator.  He joined the Army, enrolling the Future Soldiers program.  What did they find inside Wiser’s vehicle? “My stun gun was locked in the glove box,  a pocket knife was in my EMT medical vest for cutting seatbelts. I was in jail for almost 13 days.” The Army discharged him. “If I am convicted of a felony, I’m never going to be a police officer. I’m never going to be a fireman. I’m never going to be in the military,” he added. “I won’t even be able to be a janitor. I’m 18 years old, and this is going to ruin my entire life.”
[UPDATE] Rounding it to an even 31, these just in:
  • A central Ohio principal says she suspended a 10-year-old boy from school for three days for pretending his finger was a gun and pointing it at another student's head. The boy's father says it's the adults who are acting childish for suspending the boy from Devonshire Alternative Elementary School in Columbus last week.
  • Seventh-grader Ethan Chaplin has been home from school for two days after getting in trouble in math class. He says he was just twisting around a pencil with a pen cap on it when a student behind him yelled, "He's making gun motions, send him to juvie."


A 16-year-old high school student and two others who wrestled a gun away from another teenager threatening to shoot are being treated as anything but heroes — in fact, they were suspended by their high school for the potential life-saving actions.
A sophomore at Cypress Lake High School in Florida led the two others in taking the gun away from a 15-year-old who was threatening to shoot on the bus ride home on Tuesday. Witnesses told Fox 4 Now that the student aimed the weapon point blank at another student and threatened to pull the trigger.
The spat allegedly took place between the gun-wielding student, identified by WVZN-TV as Quadryle Davis, and another teen who had been arguing with his friend.
The student who was targeted said he saw Davis with a gun in his lap. They then began to fight, and Davis pointed the gun at him and threatened to shoot.
“I think he was really going to shoot him right then and there,” said the student who wrestled the .22 caliber RG-14 Revolver away. “Not taking no pity.”
He added: “No doubt. He was going to shoot him point blank.”
Authorities confirmed that the gun was loaded.
The 16-year-old tackled the potential shooter, a football player, and two others joined to help get the gun away.
The next day, all three students who wrestled the gun away were suspended for three days.

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/553098/students-wrestle-gun-away-from-potential-school-shooter-get-suspended/#qg9ogOSsrrrBfyD2.99
A 16-year-old high school student and two others who wrestled a gun away from another teenager threatening to shoot are being treated as anything but heroes — in fact, they were suspended by their high school for the potential life-saving actions.
A sophomore at Cypress Lake High School in Florida led the two others in taking the gun away from a 15-year-old who was threatening to shoot on the bus ride home on Tuesday. Witnesses told Fox 4 Now that the student aimed the weapon point blank at another student and threatened to pull the trigger.
The spat allegedly took place between the gun-wielding student, identified by WVZN-TV as Quadryle Davis, and another teen who had been arguing with his friend.
The student who was targeted said he saw Davis with a gun in his lap. They then began to fight, and Davis pointed the gun at him and threatened to shoot.
“I think he was really going to shoot him right then and there,” said the student who wrestled the .22 caliber RG-14 Revolver away. “Not taking no pity.”
He added: “No doubt. He was going to shoot him point blank.”
Authorities confirmed that the gun was loaded.
The 16-year-old tackled the potential shooter, a football player, and two others joined to help get the gun away.
The next day, all three students who wrestled the gun away were suspended for three days.

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/553098/students-wrestle-gun-away-from-potential-school-shooter-get-suspended/#qg9ogOSsrrrBfyD2.99