Monday, April 30, 2007

Gun Control, Gun Elimination, and 60 Minutes

On Sunday night I was watching Sixty Minutes when they were doing a report on gun control. This topic has been popular as of late because of the Virginia Tech tragedy. I've read editorials about gun control and letters to the editor about gun elimination. I have also read a few opinions that the Virginia Tech tragedy was more about mental health than gun control. Over at Thinking About the debate about mental health and gun control or gun elimination got quite heated.

For me I could understand both sides. The tragedy did seem to have a lot to do with the status of mental health care in our country. Of course when I heard someone say that "weirdos" should be kicked off campus I did get a little panicked. Only because I reckon on any given day I might be declared a "weirdo" by some!

The gun control side of the debate I could also relate to. Not that I believe that owning guns is a bad thing. I grew up in a hunting family in south Arkansas. That meant deer huntin' -guns, dawgs, dice and whiskey-pretty much in that order. The dice and whiskey came at the end of the hunt when we would stand in a circle throw some dollars in the middle, shoot craps and the men would have a "snort". I must confess in all of my hunting days I saw a wide variety of guns, but never did anyone find the need to use a fully automatic assault weapon!

The gun control that appeals to me is that which seeks to limit hand guns. Hand guns seem to be for killing. Or as some would say protection, which equates to killing before you get killed.

While gun elimination seems like a peaceable thing to do I would have some worries. Without people going out with their shotguns to shoot clay pigeons I am certain that our world would be so overpopulated with clay pigeons that it would somehow throw off the ecology!

I have always thought that the right to bare arms had more to do with making sure that people could "flip the bird" to the government, only if the government got too big for its breeches. Now days our sporting guns have very little power when it comes to this sort of civil liberty. That power has been replaced by our Dells, HP, IBMs, and even Apples.

Sixty Minutes on the other hand seem to be right on target. Apparently the Brady Bill, which is law, contains provisions that prevent the mentally ill from purchasing guns. However, without funding to back it up many states do not report to the federal database used for background checks. Beefing up the Brady Bill to ensure such reporting is opposed by some, but not the NRA. A spokesperson for the NRA said no mentally ill person should be allowed to purchase guns. The opposition comes from a mental health association that seeks to protect the privacy of those who have received treatment for mental illness.

This whole thing lit me up! We have a law that actually does much of what needs to be done to protect us from tragedies like Virginia Tech. The law is ineffective because it does not get fully funded and no penalities are provided for nonreporting. Then factor in that the opposition to such a gun control law is coming from a sector that is not the NRA!

Just goes to show you, living safely in the goodle USA is a crap shoot.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

In God We Trust - The License Plate

Indiana has always offered alternate license plates. They did this long before other states because they held a competition for license plates that often resulted in a "butt ugly" plate. So people always chose something different when given the opportunity. Consider these:
When the "Wander Indiana" plate was issued the environmental plate became popular. Twenty five dollars goes to support the Indiana Heritage Trust dedicated to securing more lands for conservation, recreation and preservation purposes-like state parks and such. Fifteen dollars goes to administrative fees. So for forty bucks you can adorn your vehicle with this beauty instead of one of the "butt uglies".

Soon after, the "Kids First" plate became equally popular. Twenty five dollars goes to the Indiana Kids Trust fund towards programs for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Not only is it a worthy cause, but the plate is cool as can be!

This was followed in popularity by the "Education" plate with a cute picture of Garfield. Jim Davis, the Garfield creator, is a Hoosier. The proceeds of this plate go to school corporations, as us Hoosiers call our school districts. The money is to be used to recognize students. Both the "Kids First" and the "Education" plate carry a fifteen dollar administrative fee.

You can even get a plate to support your college. Of course you must pay the fifteen dollar administrative fee. Here are a few notable ones.

This is our current plate, known as the "regular" plate.

Last year the state came up with an alternate plate, the "In God We Trust" plate. Perhaps it was as a result of the controversy over the prayer said before the General Assembly begins work for the day. Someone sued that it endorsed religion. The Speaker of the House continued to recognize God and "in the name of our Savior" during the debate of the law suit. But they won and I think now the Speaker has to be a little more politically correct. Why I even think he had a rabbi say a prayer this year. Here is the "In God We Trust" plate.
Interesting enough there is no administrative fee for this plate, nor do the proceeds go to any cause. This year because of Rep. Woody Burton of Greenville you may have this plate for free! It is your choice. You can get a sticker for the "regular" green plate or you can have this red, white, and blue beauty for free. Yep! The taxpayers are footing the bill at the cost of $3.89 a plate for a total of $1 million dollars towards road upkeep lost. That's right, free plate and crummy roads!

This is Indiana and if we are going to charge fifteen dollars administrative fees for donating twenty-five dollars to a Hoosier tradition like the one to the right, why would give a break to Francis Scott Key? (The phrase "In God We Trust" started with his last verse of "The Star Spangled Banner" before it was hammered into our coins.)

Of course some people are preferring the plate below this year. The proceeds go to supporting the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority (ISCBA) to help defray the costs of the Lucas Oil Stadium and Convention Center expansion project.
I like the Colts plate myself. But, I would prefer a different look for it. It should be a blue plate with a white Colts helmet. The blue horseshoe should be prominent. Instead of "Go Colts" it should say:
"In Peyton We Trust"