Saturday, February 16, 2008

The system failed this young man and us

This week, a gunman left six people dead at Northern Illinois University.

DEKALB, Ill. - Steven Kazmierczak's quiet, dependable and fun-loving exterior masked troubling details from his past that emerged as a stunned community struggled to understand what caused the 27-year-old to open fire on a class at Northern Illinois University, leaving six people dead.

A former employee at a Chicago psychiatric treatment center said Kazmierczak was placed there after high school by his parents. She said he used to cut himself, and had resisted taking his medications.

He also had a short-lived stint as a prison guard that ended abruptly when he didn't show up for work. He was in the Army for about six months in 2001-02, but he told a friend he'd gotten a psychological discharge.

The article goes on to indicate that Kazmierczak had a medical discharge from the Army based upon his psychological condition. Reading on we discover the he was still legally permitted to purchase and own firearms. They only did a criminal background check on him and his state-issued firearms permit background check probably didn't uncover any anomalies with his mental history.

My question on that is simply why not?

When I applied for my firearms permit, they did exhaustive checks on me and then called all of my references. I was at my best friend's house when the sheriff's office called to ask him if he felt safe in the knowledge that I might be carrying a gun. That experience made me confident that the Pennsylvania system was at least making the attempt to ensure that guns aren't being carried by complete lunatics.

My beef here is three-fold:

First, a person with a known history of mental problems was still able to purchase and own firearms. I'm a Second Amendment and firearm supporter but I do acknowledge that there are segments of society that should probably not be allowed to possess guns, the mentally infirmed being among them.

Second, incidents like this tend to give the law-abiding gun enthusiasts a black eye, one which we generally seem powerless to prevent. Sure, we have the NRA on our side, but they're already tainted with the perception that they're the front group for a bunch of gun-toting extremists. The end result of this shooting and others like it is that the media will concentrate only on the guns and by extension the rest of us who keep ours in a peaceful and law-abiding manner.

Finally, institutions like this university tend to prohibit firearms anywhere on their campus, and if just one person in the classroom had been lawfully carrying a concealed weapon, there may not be six people dead in Illinois right now. It's the liberal anti-gun establishment that should be required to shoulder at least some of the responsibility for the lack of protection these six young people received.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I work with some strange people

I opened a package of Smarties at work today, and I offered one to a coworker. "Can I have two?" she asked. "Um, sure," I said, being that I was caught totally off guard by the request.

So curiosity gets the best of me and I asked her why she wanted two. Her response was that she always likes to eat two of something that small so that she can chew them on both sides of her mouth and wear her teeth out evenly.

I just don't know what else to say about that. It's funny on multiple levels, and most of them aren't fit to print here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

More lunacy from The Land of Fruits and Nuts

The city of Berkeley is trying to kick the U.S. Marine recruiters out of their city.

(CNN) -- Berkeley, the famously liberal college town in California, has taken aim at Marine recruiters, saying they are "not welcome in our city."

Republican lawmakers in Washington fired back this week, threatening to take back more than $2 million of federal funding to the city as well as money designated for the University of California-Berkeley, the campus that became a haven of protests during the Vietnam War.

The battle erupted after the Berkeley City Council approved a measure last week urging the Marine recruiters to leave their downtown office.

"If recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders," the item says.

These folks are exercising their First Amendment rights to say whatever foolish thing they want to, and that's okay. It's amazing that the very people they're protesting against have been dying on foreign soil for over two hundred years to guarantee their right to sound like complete morons.

Now don't get me wrong. I understand the anti-war movement. Nobody likes war, and if they do, they need to be sent to fight in one immediately so they can see what fun it is. Robert E. Lee said famously that "it is well that war is so terrible - lest we should grow too fond of it." My only point is that beyond the combat that may occur while you're in the service, there's an awful lot of good that will come from military training if you apply yourself. Things like discipline, self respect and leadership skills come to mind.

I think the government should proceed with their plan to deprive Berkeley of every dollar of federal funding that they're currently receiving. And let's make sure every government-sponsored research project at U.C. Berkeley gets reassigned to some other institution.

Miracles do happen, whether you believe they're divine or not

A baby in Tennessee was found alive a hundred yards from the remains of his house after a tornado destroyed it earlier this week.

His mother did not survive the tornado. Nor did fifty five other people who lived in the path of these dangerous storms.

Whether you believe in God or not, you still have to be in awe of whatever circumstances spared the life of this little boy.