Guns for Teachers?

This morning’s newspaper described how our NC legislators might be considering arming teachers as a method of preventing or at least discouraging school shootings. An NC School Safety Committee is being formed and requested to produce recommendations to the Legislature.

One NC legislator was quoted as referring to the reactions of people in favor of better methods of gun control as “useless hysteria” that “we have to get over.” One can only hope he won’t get up in front of a group of grieving parents and classmates of murdered fellow students and tell them they have to get over their useless hysteria.

Heard another NC legislator on NPR state that she didn’t think there would be much action on school safety in NC unless and until we experienced a school shooting in NC. Reminds me of a comment from a long-time Wake Forest resident who once told me NC wouldn’t install a traffic light “until 2 or 3 people were killed at the intersection.” Good grief.

Never mind that roughly 7 of every 10 Americans think there should be more strict background investigations and a ban on privately owned automatic, semi-automatic weapons, and the “bumpstocks” that make semi-automatics fully automatic (all hereinafter referred to as “military-grade weapons”).i   As a certified geezer with experience as a teacher, coach, FBI Agent, legal administrator, and real estate instructor, I can think of more reasons than I’ll have the time and patience to include here about why arming teachers is not a good idea, but here are a few:

  1. Arming teachers means there will be guns in our schools, lots of guns, every day, available for misguided people to figure out ways to get at and use them.

  2. Shooting at targets, no matter how much one does that, is not the same as shooting at someone who is trying to shoot others, especially if that someone is shooting at you. Odds are that an armed teacher would be sending rounds into unintended people and other targets; e.g., the classroom across the hall.

  3. A teacher with a handgun has no chance against someone with a military-grade weapon.

  4. Teachers are not law enforcement officers, and no amount of training will transform them into law enforcement officers.

Consider these questions. Would teachers be required to arm themselves? Would teachers have a right not to bear arms? And suppose a disgruntled teacher decides to open fire at school? More “useless hysteria” to follow? And more “thoughts and prayers?”

It has become quite a distasteful burden to listen to our leaders offer “their thoughts and prayers” to the families of murdered school children and teachers, who have lost everything they were and everything they were yet to be. My thoughts and prayers are that our government officials at all levels will ban private ownership of military-grade weapons and not allow sale of any kind of gun to anyone under the age of 21, require extensive background checks and waiting periods and licenses for all purchasers of any gun of any type, require regular of issued firearms licenses, and that the NC School Safety Committee will consider the above and much more, and will produce better ideas than arming teachers.

Some say it’s too late, that too many military-grade weapons are already out there, privately owned.. Others say under the 2nd Amendment we have the right to own those weapons. I say it’s not too late to attempt action that will rid this country of mass shootings of all kinds. I also say that the authors of the 2nd Amendment could not have predicted the killing power of the weapons that would be available to anyone 200 years later.

In the meantime we need much better security at our schools, security provided by trained police officers. I would allow only two entrances that provide access to any school facility; lots of exits, but only two entrances, each of which would be staffed by trained police officers and equipped with metal detectors.

If I’m engaging in “useless hysteria,” so be it. I don’t want any more students, teachers, or anyone else murdered with military-grade weapons.

i People, including the media, often confuse the different types of military-grade weapons. To clarify, with a semi-automatic the trigger must be pulled for each shot; with an automatic (or with a bumpstock on a semi-automatic) the weapon continues to fire as long as the trigger is held in the firing position and there are live rounds in the weapon’s magazine. Both automatic and semi-automatic weapons use magazines loaded with bullets, called “rounds,” although as a general rule the magazines for automatics hold more rounds because they can fire more of them in a brief time. As either type is fired, the round in the chamber is on its way, the empty shell is ejected from the weapon, and a new round is slipped from the magazine and inserted in the chamber for the next shot. To fire 12 rounds from a semi-automatic, the trigger would have to be pulled 12 times; from a fully automatic the trigger need only be held in the firing position until the magazine is empty. There are automatic weapons that are capable of firing upwards of 100 rounds in a matter of seconds.


Nobody Asked Me, But…..Volume 3, No. 6

Nobody Asked Me, But…..Volume 3, No. 6

Some friends asked me why I write these blog articles. By the way, is “blog” an acronym, and if so, for what? Anyway, I write because I like to write, I’m interested (if not anxious these days) in current events, and I enjoy trying to come up with interesting and informative articles to send to family and friends.  In the “Nobody Asked Me, But…..” articles I try to point out a few of the zany if not crazy stupid news articles that appear on social media, my newspaper, and other outlets; e.g., my daily quote calendar. Here are some examples:

First, I saw a post on Facebook the other day that claimed Ben Carson, our HUD Secretary, said: “I think illegal immigrants who commit crimes should have their citizenship revoked.” Probably generated by some Russian hacker, so I’ll ignore that one. Besides, nobody with a high school diploma would make that mistake.

Next comes a statement from today’s newspaper about a poor guy who lost several toes and part of his foot due to an infection. He has diabetes and is on disability, and is worried that a federal heating assistance program is about to be wiped out by our Leader and other leaders in Washington. He lost his job and is struggling to heat his home for himself and his fiance and their five children. Never mind that, the important part of the article states that he won’t vote for Trump again if this heating assistance program is eliminated. Wait – fiance and five children? Somebody call a pastor, priest, or civil servant who is allowed to perform marriage ceremonies.

And finally, there is the NC State Legislator that is trying to figure out a way out of his comments about “communist democrats.” He says he didn’t mean all Democrats, just the Communist ones. Comparing himself with General George S. Patton, who once apologized for slapping a soldier, noticed that regular Democrats might have felt somewhat miffed. He went on to recall how “Nikita Cruchev” had long ago predicted that “…Communists would conquer America without firing a shot,” and that a major part of that strategy would be disarming “our people.”

Can’t help being astonished about these little stories…..good grief.

Call the FBI With Tips

The FBI website instructs us to just dial 1-800-CALLFBI. I just did that and the call was answered by a long recitation of which keys to press based on which major case you are calling about. The number got me to the FBI’s Major Case Call Center, probably not a number to call to report a kid who might be planning a school shooting. The message is too long and the subject matter is not presented as a choice. Takes way too long to speak to a human being.

I’m pretty good at using the Internet, and I still could not find a phone number to call anything resembling a tip center in West Virginia referred to in some of the news stories about the 2018 Valentine’s Day Florida school shooting. I did find a few references advising me to call the nearest field office – not much help if you don’t have time to figure out which office is nearest and what’s the phone number…..

I recall sitting on phone duty several times while an agent in Seattle and Washington, DC back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In both instances as far as I knew I was the only agent in the building. In both instances we were given a “nut box” or access to a “nut file cabinet” so we could check on callers who insisted they were receiving communist radio signals on their tooth fillings or bridges, or who had seen a Soviet submarine in Lake Washington. For the latter, which was pulled on practically every new agent in Seattle, the supervisor insisted that you interview the manager of the Ballard Locks, which connected Puget Sound to Lake Washington, to determine whether any Soviet submarines had been spotted going through the locks. When yours truly, a young and anxious to be of service new guy, approached the manager at the locks, he smiled and, before I could ask, told me he had not sent any Soviet submarines through the locks.

These days my involvement with the Bu is limited to ex-agent luncheons and reading the X-Gboys emails, many of which I’d volunteer to edit for such things as misspelling judgment (there’s only one “e”) and “insuring” that something would or wouldn’t happen (should be “ensuring,” as the Bu isn’t selling insurance).

In yesterday’s emails there were some alarming statistics having to do with the FBI tip center, wherever it is and however you reach it. Examples: 1) roughly 2,100 calls a day in 2017, 2) 150 employees, and 3) 766.888 total calls for 2017. Talk about an assault of numbers. It’s a wonder a few hundred (thousand?) calls weren’t mishandled. On my busiest day as the agent on phone duty I don’t think I received more than 10 calls, even in DC, where the ratio of crazies to sane people is fairly high.

My most exciting call was in DC of course. A fellow called to report that he had seen a message on a whiteboard in a classroom at American University; something on the order of a plan to assassinate President Nixon. I reported the call to the Secret Service and notified my supervisor.

I don’t recall all the details, but do recall that the Secret Service sent two agents out to American University to investigate. Never heard any more.

Here’s a shout-out to the retired agent whose email repeated what was on our credentials; that as agents we were charged with the duty of investigating violations of the laws of the U.S., collecting evidence in cases in which the U.S. is or may be a party of interest, or perform other duties imposed by law. He wrote that he didn’t recall a duty to chase “…kids around who had a mental disorder…..”

I confess to being an unapologetic fan of the Bu; always have been and always will be. I’m not convinced that after more than two dozen referrals of the shooter to local authorities in Florida a visit from a couple of agents would have made any difference. To me the problem is our allowing military weapons to be in the hands of anyone other than the military. Mass shootings, by far more in the U.S. than everywhere else on the planet, are not likely to be eliminated in my lifetime.

But no sane national policy allows individuals to own weapons intended for use in wars.

And no tip operation will have a perfect record in identifying persons with mental illness who intend to use military weapons at schools or anywhere else.


Need a Little Help – Again

From the Raleigh News & Observer, November 15, 2017: eliminating the mandate in the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, ACA) for obtaining health insurance will save the Federal Government $300 billion.

If the taxpayer must pay a penalty for being uninsured, isn’t that payment revenue? If that revenue is eliminated, how does that save $300 billion?

I did a cost comparison on the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) website for a family of four (husband and wife both 45; children 10 and 14) living in Wake Forest, NC, with no health insurance from their jobs and annual income of $50K. No health insurance: penalty estimate, $2,045/year. Health insurance premium estimate: $17,534/year.

And the explanation on the KFF site indicated that the family’s cost might wind up at $0 with the standard deduction. I’m no accountant, but I do know that you can’t get insurance companies to charge you $0.  Wouldn’t that family would have to fork over $1,461 a month?  And when and how do they wind up at $0?

If I’m wrong thinking this is yet another form of voodoo economics, please set me straight.

The only prize for the correct answers will be my gratitude. Thanks!


Walk in Another’s Shoes

Pretty sure the first time I heard “Walk in another’s shoes” it was mocassins, not shoes, and the words were attributed to an American Indian. As I recall the quote suggested one person has little or no hope of comprehending what another person must do to get through life without some equivalent life experience.

And so when I come across a particular written exposition of another’s experience, even though the piece comes from a work of fiction, I’m compelled to stop and think that experience through, try to imagine what I might have done, how I might have reacted, had it been me in those shoes.

And don’t stop here because what follows is fiction. After all, French Philosopher Albert Camus observed that; “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”

Here’s a recent example, from “The Assassin,” by Andrew Britton, pp. 51-52, Kensington Books, 2007.

The character quoted is Rashid al-Umari, son of a wealthy Sunni Iraqi power broker. Here is what he thinks of the war against terrorism in Iraq. Walk in his shoes for a moment:

“It was so typical, Rashid thought bitterly. History always repeated itself; the greatest of empires were also the greediest. After all, what separated the current American government from the British imperialists of the twentieth century? The answer was simple: nothing. In the end, the only real objective was to enrich the invading country, and no matter what the Americans said, their intent was not benevolent. One only had to look at the Western contractors pouring into the region to see that.”

And he walked in those shoes some time around 2005, just 2 years or so after the start of the war in Iraq. And that was 14 years ago…..


Social Media and the Wit and Wisdom on Facebook

Sometimes Facebook serves as something to occupy me while I’m on hold with my doctor’s office or waiting for a voicemail prompt that actually has something to do with why I’m calling.

And then there are those times when a Facebook post smacks me right in the area that is rumored to contain something capable of rational thought.  Two such posts just got me:

1)  Paraphrased: Those folks worried about destroying history by tearing down Confederate statues will be thrilled to learn about books, and 

2)  Also paraphrased: In July of 1776 a bunch of New Yorkers tore down a statue of George III, thereby making it impossible to learn who won the Revolutionary War.

This social media thing just might have a future……


Attention All Hackers!

We now have a distinguished (“very distinguished”), appointed Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity.

I can’t help being surprised, very surprised, that our President is still claiming massive, very massive, voter fraud.  There are dozens of excellent, very excellent, studies and research papers on the subject.  A simple, very simple, search using the phrase “voter fraud” produced a large, very large, number of hits (6,080,000), among which are various, very various, conclusions that voter fraud is statistically insignificant, very insignificant.

But insignificance is not my main, very main, concern today.  I can only wonder what a group of appointed members of an advisory committee might do with the records of (200 million?) voters.  Send them a postcard asking for proof of life?  Ask the ones who chose to register as Democrats or Independents whether they might want to make a switch?  Make those records available to already drooling, very drooling, cyber crooks making plans to grab all that information for their new, very new, credit cards, bank accounts, etc.?

Can’t help being concerned, very concerned.  (And yes, I’m imitating the style of the almost daily, very almost daily, barrage of tweets from, well, you know…..)  Puts me in mind of “Rain Man,” who said such things as: “I’m a good driver. I’m a very good driver.”  Or Demi Moore in “A Few Good Men,” who, upon hearing the judge deny her objection, said: “But your Honor, I strenuously object,” which of course didn’t persuade the judge to reconsider his ruling.

Still, I strenuously object to creating a new and massive pile of personal, very personal, information in the office of a newly appointed advisory commission.  Do they even have an office?