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A Proposal – Gun Legislation

Greetings Representative Polis,
 

A few associates and I are having a gun conversation; as the entire nation is at this time.  I think there are some valid ideas the might be flushed out in policy creation. The content of this letter is a longer read, so I would like to start with a summary of the main thoughts-

  • Take the Big Government argument out of the equation and provide a competing lobby to the NRA.
  • Set some standards and requirements in gun ownership,
  • Identify ways to have peers take the keys away from the “drunk drivers” (mentally unfit),
  • Include a base cost lf gun ownership and incrementally increase the Expense Vs. Risk equation.

An obvious comparison of guns to other objects of danger often arises, and I think automobile analogies are best in this conversation, where it is a dangerous object causing many deaths each year. Additionally it is a good comparator because as a nation we have constructive conversations about auto policy and public duty in an atmosphere largely devoid of partisan positioning, as opposed to any discussion of guns.

I also think it is fair to complain that it is not the object that kills but the operator, and that mental fitness is the core element of responsible operation of either guns or vehicles.

The debate is most certainly about mental health, the cause is not the gun, but it is also about population density and in a sense… opportunity. We live in a world that is so connected virtually and so disconnected emotionally/physically. One example of school tragedies in China is a fine example of a similar terror, certainly effective horror in that school children are defenseless against insanity… but the analogy stops there as this could not happen in a movie theatre.  After 911 I think our entire nation is willing to jump on top of one man with a knife to save the rest. In any case, what we have a nation of Monday morning DB’s and those with guns saying the equivalent of “I wish that happened to me” (see http://www.jokebuddha.com/joke/Southern_Justice).

So let’s not be so black and white and hyperbolic in our argument- we don’t need to say yes/no to guns.  Management however is not easy- mental health is not clear, it is not even really understood, more over it requires continuous contact and feedback to monitor.  When associated with potential mass violence it is simply not feasible given the number of guns and owners… mental health is not as discrete and manageable as objects with serial numbers and manufacturing dates.

There is an expense our society is paying by allowing a virtually unregulated gun trade and it should not be paid by all of the citizens of the country; it should not be paid in the terms of unaccountability to those who loose loved ones; it should not be paid at the stress and expense of our protection officers. We have evidence that the weapons industry is not self regulating, that the nation has disparate systems undermined by a myriad of policy, enforcement, and funding… obstructions and it is time to make some cohesion in the way we manage all of these issues.

The 2nd amendment is an argument that comes up. There is always interpretation and how that interpretation is set depends upon the conditions and time for which you live. Our forefathers created a document with as much divine influence as they could muster.  In a contentious argumentative environment they came up with a work to be admired 200+ years later (Not Bad!). How could they conceive that neighbors would not physically talk to each other? How could they conceive that the publicly available musket could be modified to fire 1000 rounds a minute of armor piercing, projectile tumbling/flesh exploding- bullets?

2nd amendment- Well regulated militias: If a group of enthusiasts want to get together, practice defense against tyrants and blow stuff-up ROCK-ON! Can I come for a weekend?

·         How else can we get people to understand and respect the equipment they are using but by having a group of serious and experienced people inculcate a proper weapons mystique to the newbie’s (insert respect + favorite child hunting story here!  But lets not confuse this with the need to take an AR-15 deer hunting this weapon is not designed to preserve the maximum edible flesh). Socialization is a critical aspect of developing moral bearings in life and it is a powerful on the ground perspective when individuals are getting out of line.

·         The public at large is not well regulated sets of militias!

·         There needs to be a PR effort that gets individuals to recognize that no militia group is going to resist the tyranny of the government in any practical way that does not include defection of the army or support of a foreign power (ex. Egypt, Libya Vs. Syria). . The system of militias cannot be allowed to support armed subversive groups of HATE!. Not prejudism, secession, anti-tax (Whiskey Rebellion), wacko Waco Texas stuff. Sure that is impossible to prevent stuff like that from starting, just like it is impossible for people with strong opinions from building coalitions in churches and mosques, but there may be a need to “disband” such a militia (ex. in Michigan). Also there are environmental and safety concerns which need to be addressed- what is done on private property (blowing up tanks of fuel etc.) causes damage to the water air and wildlife, which others enjoy. We are one nation under god and as such we have a duty to all citizens.

-2nd amendment- Keep and Bare arms: To Keep- means to own. I keep my car in a garage; I keep my family heirloom diamond in bank safety deposit box. Keep does not mean that a citizen must have to have immediate access to a weapon capable of “taking-out” multiple targets at distance.

o       Also, I really don’t care about the definition or type of weapon if, we are managing “opportunity” for damage in the right way. There is nothing in the text that says citizens do not need to have licenses for different types of ammunition or “Arms”… we restrict explosives based on such a system we could do the same with ammunition. There is nothing in the text that says weapons cannot be securely stored in a way that would prevent you from access when in an unfit frame of mind. i.e. at your militia headquarters or gun range.  I contrary to many “Old West” stories many municipalities required cowboys to check their guns at the edge of town. Rural environments need secure storage as well maybe not a gun bank but building up a cache is not really protecting stock from coyotes and wolves.

·         To Bare- To use in a functional way, to use against a threat or enemy- Join a militia as noted above! This does not mean that a citizen has the right to bare arms at any and all times to keep said “Arms” under their pillow. In the army are your weapons with you in the barracks? Weapons must be secure and accounted for at all times!

In general there is a now and then aspect to any policy, some ideas discussed:

  1. Insurance on each gun- insuring that the weapon would not be used in ways that endanger the public. This pays punitive damage claims and weapon related legal fees minimum deductible 1,000- gun owners still need to have some responsibility in the bad judgment game.(Some might call this a tax regulated through private industry- but at least there is a clear service provided)
    1. It prices risk considering potential damage against experience security of and access to guns- go ahead, get a concealed weapons permit, own an AR-15 or something bigger. (more guns more expense, more public risk, more expense, no insurance no gun)
    2. Such a requirement provides not only a motivation for a duty of care but;
    3. funds for restitution and improved psych services, and
    4. includes lapses in insurance such and/or loss of weapon in such cases there is a funding mechanism for collection. (perhaps another private industry opportunity, or reward for guns that go missing, reducing the number available to criminals).
    5. This also solves the technical issues of registration and database maintenance, (Again something that all citizens need not pay, but a duty on those who take pleasure in gun ownership).

The government is not in the micro factor risk analysis game, and it should not be their duty.

  1. Reduced home storage of weapons socially encourage local militias gun clubs and ranges to get into the security and warehousing business.  Set limits on the types and number of weapons, amount of ammo allowed in unsecured areas.  Some weapons are only allowed to be kept and used in designated areas (race cars are not allowed on the streets, racing fuel is dispensed in restricted areas or to authorized users). (this idea is probably the most problematic but when tied to insurance cost of home storage it might be plausible)
    1. I don’t trust all citizens’ mental states, at all times, so those weapons and ammunition do not need to be immediately accessible.
    2. Militias, Ranges and Gun Clubs can get into the business of Gun Banking. A nongovernment set of eyes to appraise mental state of owners, hopefully in a personal and friendship level of connection
  2. Attendance in gun events… not lame safety demonstrations… Live fire hands on use of weapons with colleagues and professionals, building comradery, appreciation, professionalism and a sharing of best management practices. You are required to attend a number of gun events per year

So summary repeated-

  1. Take the Big Government argument out of the equation and provide a competing lobby to the NRA.
  2. Set some standards and requirements in gun ownership, identify ways to have peers take the keys away from the “drunk drivers” (mentally unfit)
  3. Include a base cost lf gun ownership and incrementally increase the expense Vs. risk equation.

Gun collection is a cool hobby but it carries and much heavier responsibility than stamp collecting this has not been priced into the market. Personally I think insurance is the ruin of our nation but it is a mechanism which can induce logical regulation of behavior without more police.

In closing, the nation has disparate systems undermined by a myriad of policy, enforcement, and funding obstructions and it is time to make some cohesion in the way we manage all of these issues.  We need you to put forward ideas that take tangents away from the vitriolic cannons repeated by entrenched constituents.  It is time to set a clear strategy rather than tactical solutions.

It is time to disarm the anger consuming our national conversation (guns, taxes, religion) and feel safe having a discussion about the issues facing our people.

At home I can set the tone and tenor of a chat but I look to you in creating a similar environment where we can make the best policy for all and our future as a nation.

With respect,

AM

Things America should adopt from foreign cultures

Today I was reminiscing on the things I really missed in foreign countries that I just cannot find in America.  There were things I really missed about America when I was abroad, but I have been back awhile and am now taking them for granted.  So, my mind longs for these things and in case there are any who can bring them about let me list them here.  Please feel free to add comments if you can think of any others.

I.  From Japan

1. Techno Toilets

-  The toilets in Japan are far superior to those in the USA which basically have not changed in the past 100 years.

These toilets have:

a.  Heated seats
b. Bidet – Water to wash and can control the stream – Why don’t we have this!!!  This is so civilized!!
c. Running water sound when you sit- This is so people cannot hear you do your business!
d.  Half flush/Full flush – Water conservation

2. Take shoes OFF!!! (genkan)

- In Japan everyone takes their shoes off when entering a home.  I have never understood why we do not do this in America.  We walk around all day long outside but then walk on our beautiful carpets with our shoes that have stepped on who knows what outside.  Ever since I came back from Japan I simply cannot wear my shoes inside the house.

3. Public Transportation

- In Tokyo, for the most part, I simply needed my green Suica Card nestled inside my wallet and I would tap my wallet on the sensor to enter the metro (or bus) and again on the way out.  I didn’t need any complex agreements with any bank or financing agency either.  To recharge I simply stuck it in the machine, added money and the transaction was finished!

Contrast that with my first experience in San Francisco.  The Muni requires exact change and bus operators do not give change.  Therefore, you need to have exactly $1.50 to ride the bus!!  This was very frustrating as from my time abroad I had it built up in my mind that the USA was the most technologically superior country on the planet.  The muni experience crushed that fantasy pretty quick.

4. CoCo Ichibanya

- This is the best curry restaurant in the world.  Someone please start a franchise here in the USA and I will be your biggest patron.

II. Spain

1.) Siesta

- In America we do not have a siesta.  This is one aspect we really should have borrowed from southern Europe in that one gets to take a nap in the middle of the day!  We start out as kids in Kindergarten with nap time but unfortunately this privilege is soon ripped away from us.

I once had a debate with some business people (late 90′s) and they were telling me that Europe was falling behind because they weren’t working hard enough.  My argument was “falling behind on what??”  From our puritan English roots the American life has always been to work harder.  I have nothing against working hard but I have to admit I’m partial to working smarter, not necessarily “harder.”

Anyway, we work hard to get money to buy stuff.  Until recently the plan was simply to buy as much “stuff” as possible then retire.  I thoroughly believe that the path to happiness is not in how much stuff is acquired but rather how enjoyable life is through experiences, friends and family.  I’m also pretty certain that many people like sleep and what better way to refresh yourself and take care of your health than by taking a nice stress-free nap in the middle of the day!

If we think about “stuff” vs. sleep let us also consider the enjoyment we obtain from spending our time doing these activities.  If we accumulate a massive amount of stuff, we have to devote time to using the items we have purchased.  Now, if we ask ourselves if doing these activities are more enjoyable than sleep I think we might not be able to come to an easy conclusion.

2.) Neighborhood Cafés

- By this, I do not mean a sterile Starbucks.  Starbucks sells a cup of sugary syrup and everyone is a stranger in Starbucks.  I’m talking about a European style café where you can order a wonderful, plain espresso and actually meet with your neighbors to discuss the issues of the day.  Starbucks is killing this tradition even in Europe and I find that a shame.

III. Vietnam

1.) Company Outings

- I highly doubt we would be able to replicate this in America.  Not that we cannot replicate a company outing mind you, but rather the sheer enthusiasm and joy I found among the young workforce during their outings.  These young people were so happy to be able to go on a vacation on the company dime that I saw nothing but smiles from just about all of them.

At least once a year Vietnamese companies organize an outing to fun places like the beach.  They all pile in a bus, wear the same caps and shirts and even sing songs on the way there!  I had the privilege to participate in one of these and they asked us to get up in front of the bus and sing a song.  Unfortunately, not being used to these things I couldn’t think of a single song I knew by heart!!  I guess I was just a bit stunned at the request because surely I could have pulled out “Puff the Magic Dragon” or at least some other kid’s song but my mind was a blank.  Even if I had mangled the lyrics I’m sure nobody would have noticed but I had nothing.

These young people were just so happy to be going with their company on a trip it really warmed my heart.  Back here in America I just really think this could not be replicated.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

2.) Joy of life

- This may sound a bit corny but I have to say that I visited some VERY MEAGER homes in small villages during my time there.  In every case, the inhabitants always welcomed me with a smile and offered me something to drink.  These people have been through SO MUCH in the past couple decades and I could not understand what made them so cheerful!

- In the USA I think our focus has been too much on obtaining money.  We get the money, buy a new toy and then realize there are others who have more money and more toys.  So we obtain more money and more toys but then look up again and see we still do not have enough.  It’s an endless cycle.

Perhaps we should all take a lesson from these people in their villages and ask them why they smile so much?  Again, I don’t mean to sound cheesy about all this but this is something that really impressed me and is what I took away from my visits to their villages and that is that.

IV. Mexico

1. Family

- I found in Mexico that extended family is still very important.  In the USA we have our small nuclear families, many of which remain close.  However, in Mexico I found that the family bond is much greater and still a source of security.  There are hugs, kisses and a general sense of closeness I really admired.  Even outsiders really feel welcome when visiting a Mexican family if they understand the culture well enough.

The following is a bit of an exaggeration but gets the point across well enough (And yes, this family is Greek, not Mexican but it is close enough)

To further illustrate the point, there is a quote in this movie in which the Greek father uses an analogy to describe the American grooms parents.

“There like toast. My daughter is engagged to a person with parents that are toast. No honey No jam just toast, dry toast.”

This is a cultural aspect one can find in Greece, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Philippines and now that I think about it, just about every hot country near the equator.  I guess we are just a bit more formal in the USA.

*As a side note, on the other end of the spectrum we would find Japan.  I asked my wife what she would do when her mother comes out from the airport after not seeing her for a year.  The dialogue went like this:

Me: So are you going to give your mother a hug?
Wife: No
Me:  Really, that is sooooo weird!!!
Wife:  *shrugs*
Me:  But you’re excited right?
Wife:  Oh yes!
Me: So are you just going to bow a lot with a big smile??
Wife:  *Realizes the cultural difference and laughs until tears come out.

V. Britain

1. Tea Time

- In the USA we have breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Where I ask, in the history of the USA did we drop TEA TIME?

To be honest, I was never a fan of tea until I dropped into a Chinese tea shop in SF Chinatown.  I had more than a few samples and when I came out I was FLYING HIGH!!  I honestly didn’t know tea could do that and have switched from a morning coffee to a morning tea.

I remember there was a scene in The Lord of the Rings which alluded to this cultural difference in that Aragon (Viggo Mortensen) must not be an Englishman as he doesn’t know what “second breakfast is.”

Again, an exaggeration but I ask you in all seriousness, would we not all be better off with a second breakfast or at least Tea Time?

VI.  France

1. One month of vacation

- Yes, I understand we in the USA are hyper-capitaliste but would it not benefit us all to take one month of vacation?  Last time I checked, I had one week.

Well, that is all I can think of for now.  Be sure to add your comments if there is anything you may miss from your experiences abroad.

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