Friday, January 4, 2013

Am I Safer Knowing About Guns in the 'hood?

Do I feel any safer knowing one of my neighbors has a permit to own a handgun? Not really.

Even if I knew for sure he, or she, actually possessed a revolver or pistol, I wouldn’t feel any more secure. 

Nor do I feel any less secure. Here’s an interesting fact—over the near 30 years in our current neighborhood, the only two homes burglarized were ostensibly protected by alarm systems. And by dogs. So much for high tech and man’s-best-friend protection systems. I’m always amazed people don’t employ the simplest and most effective security system—lights that automatically turn on and off. Don’t people realize a completely dark house any time from sunset to at least 11 pm is an open-for-business invitation to house burglars?  

Since the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., there’s been lots of talk for and against tightening gun control laws, everything from doing nothing to restricting the sale of semi-automatic military-style weapons to placing limits on the size of ammunition magazines. Some schools have added armed security guards (about one-third of all public schools already had armed security). 

Our local paper, the Westchester Journal News, published a map pinpointing all holders of handgun permits in the county. The map does not reveal addresses where long guns (rifles or shotguns) may be present. Curiosity finally got the better of me, so I checked out our subdivision. I counted three homes certified to pack heat, with another two on a nearby street. 

In a recent Op-Ed piece in The NY Times, David Cole, a professor of constitutional law and criminal justice at the Georgetown University Law Center, wrote, “The right to bear arms typically invokes the romantic image of a cowboy toting a rifle on the plains.” True enough. But I seem to remember in Westerns featuring Wyatt Earp, Marshal Dillon or some other sheriff the rule of the lawman in charge was everyone had to surrender their firearms if they wanted to walk around town. When did we adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward gun possession in public, so much so that states seem to be falling over each other in their rush to permit open and even concealed weapons in public spaces including bars, schools and houses of government? 

It’s really rather depressing that so many care more about the right to bear arms than providing our fellow citizens with quality medical care, education and enough food so they and their children don’t go to bed hungry.

Pillow Talk: Speaking of going to bed, after reading my post on sleep habits, a representative from Anna’s Linens filled in more details about the company’s survey. 

Seems I’m not the only person who sleeps with three pillows—35% said they sleep with three or more, though they did not elaborate if they configured them to their body as I do. Another 45% sleep with two pillows; 20% rest their heads on just one.

The survey also found 18% sleep in their underwear to go along with the 8% who sleep in the buff and the 74% who wear pajamas.

Debt Service: Maureen Dowd in The Times wrote about Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo) the other day. Bennet was one of eight senators to vote against the bill to prevent the country from slipping over the fiscal cliff. Like many who want to curb spending and lower the national debt, Bennet argued against saddling the next generation. He told Dowd, “I think if we can get people focused to do what we need to do to keep our kids from being stuck with this debt that they didn’t accrue, you might be surprised at how far we can move this conversation. Washington politics no longer follows the example of our parents and our grandparents who saw as their first job creating more opportunity, not less, for the people who came after.”

I wonder, what do Bennet and those like-minded mean when they say “kids (are being ) stuck with debt that they didn’t accrue”? Of course children didn’t vote when they were young. Their parents did. They voted for presidents and congressmen who passed on to us such benefits as Social Security. Medicare. Medicaid. The interstate highway system. NASA. Food and drug safety programs. OSHA. FEMA. A national park service second to none in the world. 

Creating opportunity for the next generation doesn’t just means the chance to make lots of money. It means being able to enjoy life, to be safe in your place of employment, to not worry about the surety of your food and water supply. Are there too many regulations? Probably, in some areas. Should we remove all regulations. Absolutely not. Let’s stop with the rhetoric and start and real discussion about what we expect from government and how to pay for it. Tax rates are at an all-time low. Let’s be grown up and realize if we want protections and services we need to pay for them.