Here's a thing on guns!
In 2011, 323 people in America were killed with rifles (assault or otherwise, the FBI doesn't specify) while 1,694 were killed by knives and 728 were beaten to death with fists and feets. Handguns were responsible for 49% of all US murders in 2011. I'm beginning to think we'd be safer if we only had assault rifles. Handguns killed around 6,200 people in the US in 2011.
Gun murders are down 50% in 20 years, another 20% in just the last 8 years, and lower than at any point in the last 40 years.
On the down side, nearly two-thirds of gun-related deaths are suicides. Having a gun in the home significantly raises the suicide risk, because shooting yourself is a lot easier than slitting your wrists. Instant, and no looking back or changing your mind once it's done.
A Harvard study of firearm suicides looked at the 15 states with the most guns (39 million people, 47% gun ownership) Vs the 6 states with the fewest guns (40 million people, 15% gun ownership) - the states with the most guns had 9,749 gun suicides as opposed to 2,606 in the states with the fewest guns.
In total, 14,809 suicides in the states with the most guns and 8,056 suicides in the states with the fewest guns.
To see guns as a problem isn't totally wrong, but it may be short-sighted and a failure to see the bigger picture.
To see assault rifles as a problem is...utterly unfounded.
Not viewing guns as a symptom of a greater problem is as foolish and short-sighted as thinking guns are the entirety of the problem.
The problem is obvious. It's staring us in the face and it afflicts everyone in one way or another. Be it directly or indirectly, you've seen it, faced it, and most likely ignored it completely because it's so very difficult to understand.
Mental illness is the problem. Mental illness is the entirety of the problem. Guns are a symptom of that. So are scars on kids' arms, diaries they leave behind, things they say, things they write, the way they act. Guns are a final symptom of a problem that has been ignored because it's happening right in front of plenty of people who choose to ignore it rather than face the reality that a friend or a loved one is mentally ill. Parents don't want to admit their children are mentally ill. Wives don't want to admit their husbands are mentally ill. We ignore the coworker who seems a little bit "unbalanced" or "off-kilter" or "just not quite himself lately."
It's a lack of humanity that leads to this. There are symptoms before anyone picks up a gun, either to turn it on himself or to harm others. Those symptoms are evident at some point to someone - but no one did anything about it.
You can look at mass shootings in history. Adam Lanza showed symptoms to the people close to him. So did James Holmes. Charles Whitman sought medical help before murdering his wife, mother, and 15 other people while injuring another 32 at the University of Texas in 1966. His own doctor thought nothing of his headaches and violent mood swings. His suicide note requested they examine his brain to see what was wrong with him. They found a tumor compromising a part of the brain involved in emotional regulation.
There's a discussion we should be having, but we aren't. We're busy arguing extremes with opposite extremes.
On one side, you have people who make money off the firearms industry. On the other side, you have people who've been deeply, personally victimized by crimes involving guns. I mean Gabrielle Giffords and the parents of the Newtown children. Clearly, the people who stand to make the money from the guns are not the ones to listen to. Neither are the people who've been directly and permanently scarred by gun violence. Neither of these parties can view the debate objectively. One side has a very large monetary stake while the other side has an even larger emotional stake.
It's right now that the 90% of us in the middle need to stop watching politicians play this game in the senate and the house and eventually the supreme court. We need to hold accountable our senators and congressmen. We need to force them into have the discussion we need to have and address the state of mental health in America.
Not only that, we need to hold accountable every political commentator trying to treat this like sports. If it's somebody on Fox News acting like Jim Rome or somebody on MSNBC acting like Skip Bayless, or some talk radio host putting on a Smith & Wesson hat and perpetuating the problem every day of his life - this is something we can easily impact. We can hold these people accountable. We can call bulls&*t on their bulls&*t and tell them this isn't Around the Horn. This is high-stakes real-life and it even outweighs football.
We can strong-arm them into not treating this like a football game where one team wears red and the other wears blue. It wouldn't be hard to do. Just start asking the question. Instead of picking a side on Facebook, ask the question. Instead of regurgitating what pundits say on TV, ask the question. Call them, write them, tweet them, facebook them. Just ask the question. They'll be forced to answer it because we'll just keep asking us.
This gun control issue is, effectively, like going to the emergency room after being shot. You're bleeding to death. The doctor is concerned your blood pressure is low. It's low because...you're bleeding to death. Rather than stop the bleeding, he gives you something for the blood pressure. You're still going to bleed to death.
I like to think you'd call your doctor out on that one. Someone standing there would. One of the nurses. Your family. An EMT. Someone with some sense.
That's what they're doing to us, and we just nod along because who are we to question our doctor? We're the ones who will bleed to death if we don't ask that question.
You're being lied to and you know it. You're being misled and you know it. Do you want to pick a side to fight on when no one is right, or do you want to stand in the middle, with 90% of your fellow Americans, and steer this ship in the right direction? All you have to do is ask that question. I'm going to. Every chance I get. Anybody who bothers to listen.
This goes for people on either side of the argument. There is a clear problem. It's obvious what it is. If you're pro-gun, your side of things refuses to acknowledge that problem. By doing so, the NRA is doing you a disservice and failing to be basically socially responsible.
If you oppose guns, you can hopefully see they are a symptom of a much larger problem we should deal with before we continue this debate. Failing to address a problem as large as the mental health crisis in America is also a complete lack of basic social responsibility.
Clearly guns are not the whole problem. Susan Smith didn't have a gun. Neither did Andrea Yates. That video of the lady in Texas running over her husband, then backing up over him, then running over him, then repeating that a few more times? She was not driving a gun.
Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Dennis Rader, even Lizzie Borden - none of them were known for using firearms, but you know them all for brutally murdering people.
The Manson Family used guns, but they preferred to stab, cut, bludgeon, beat, and brutalize people in a far more personally physical manner.
Chris Benoit didn't have a gun. He strangled his wife to death with an electrical cord and killed his son with a wrestling hold before hanging himself with the cables on his Bowflex.
The Unabomber never shot anybody.
No one at the Boston Marathon was shot.
Mental illness will find a way. A gun is a highly effective tool. Modern-day pistols and rifles and shotguns are all real genuine marvels of engineering and design. They're highly functional, incredibly reliable tools. They're an unfortunately easily accessed, easily accessed tool that can be dangerous in any hands. But even without guns, mental illness has always found a way and it always will.
The gun conversation needs to continue. It needs to be a conversation, though. This shouting match will get us nowhere. No one will be happy. We'll all just hate each other a little bit more.
Joining together, though, and addressing mental health in America is the kind of thing that shows us how much we have in common with the people we disagree with. It gets us talking rather than arguing and that's the key to it all.
Start with, "Why aren't we doing anything about this?" "What about mental illness?" "Isn't mental health the real issue we're facing?"
Once those questions can't be ignored, we move on to the next round. "Why do these people feel like outcasts?" "Why are these people so deeply depressed and disconnected?" "How can we help these people?"
Before you know it...progress! Let's just try it and see. I guarantee it won't be any worse than what we've been doing.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a lawyer. I have no authority in the realm of constitutional law. I come to you only with common sense and a general ability to read English and interpret the words presented to me. On the bright side, the 2nd amendment is only 27 words. If it were to come along today, it'd be attached to 40,000 pages of miscellaneous whatnots. Luckily, 27 words! This, I can handle. Maybe.
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
There's the complete text of the amendment. What does that tell you? Does it appear vague in any way? Many ways? It kinda is, I suppose.
One thing people seem to agree upon today in America is: My right to bear arms shall not be infringed.
Always a but.
In this case, what constitutes that well-regulated militia? Who regulates this militia? I have questions not being answered by anyone. The reason no one has answers to these questions is because this was never addressed at any point in the history of America as far as I can tell. So, it's up to us to ask ourselves what constitues a well-regulated militia. Now, me and my buddies carrying AR-15's through the woods - we would be responsible gun owners and I bet no one would get hurt. But in what way would we constitute a well-regulated militia? Take them out of it. Let's say I have a personal arsenal. Am I a well-regulated militia? I'm not being regulated by much of anything. I'm not a militia, am I? I'm just one dude. For that matter, where does it say anything about assault rifles or semi-automatic handguns or high-capacity magazines, or pump-action shotguns or...any specific type of firearm? When it was written, they had black powder. Muskets. I don't believe they even had flintlock pistols, but maybe! So, who's to say this applies to an assault rifle more than one lone gun? It could be that I, not belonging to any well-regulated militia, have no right to bear arms...right? It could also be interpreted that same way to say very few people have any right to bear any arms as very few of us are members of any type of well-regulated militia. We're just dudes who own guns. So you tell me how much you know about that, based solely on the text of the amendment. Not on what anybody told you. Not on how you want it to be, but how it is. Please, lemme know what you come up with.
It's Friday evening in Spartanburg, if you hadn't already figured that out. After freezing rain and sleet all day, the roads are pretty bad in a lot of places and everyone is home trying to keep warm on the coldest day we've had all winter. It is what it is.
I left a bottle of Jack Daniels in the toolbox on my truck. I don't have much use for tools at the moment, but I have some ideas in mind for that bottle of whiskey.
There's only one thing that could get me out of this house right now and she ain't calling. Here's to the night, the ice and the smile on my face I can't quite explain. Y'all be careful. Stay safe. And Rob Ianuario has your back if it ever gets too hairy. He's good at that.
We are really, really dumb. It seems to me that America's primary forum for political discourse is now Facebook. It makes sense because dumb people are way more into politics than smart ones. The only smart people into politics are the politicians. Everybody with yard signs, car stickers and tooooo much time devoted to the cause...they just need a hobby. Especially the other 3 years of the cycle. Or maybe they just enjoy misery. I'm sure some of them just enjoy misery, but most of them need a hobby.
Facebook is where gun control is playing out! The argument! The argument where no one listens to the other side. Or responds to the other side. Or talks to the other side.
In case you're one of these people, I'll give an example of how a discussion goes.
You: Look, I feel this way about this.
Me: Well it is too bad you feel this way about this. Hopefully we can ease your fears and find some middle ground because I disagree with the way you feel about this.
You: I kinda think we should do this.
Me: I don't agree with that. I think we should do this.
You: Well I don't agree with that, but how about this?
Me: At least we're making progress. Not quite. How about this?
Eventually, you get a result out of that. Eventually you get results out of discussing anything. As long as you're an adult discussing something with an adult. Facebook gives us the opportunity to be mean and hateful and really lose the argument. So does Twitter. TV news. The internet in general.
Meanwhile, we are allowing politicians to do exactly as they wish because, as usual, they are smarter than the people they're playing like puppets.
I guess what I am getting at is pretty simple. Stop being childish and ignorant. If you see someone doing it, stop them from doing it too. Negativity only breeds more negativity. Remember that next time you're being a jerk just because he can't punch you over the internet.
Death pools are a pretty morbid concept. We brought ours back to the show this year and I enjoy it, but at the same time I realize what it is we are doing and I have some internal questions about it. Then I thought about the texts people send us wishing death upon us when they've disagreed with us. Its a regular occurance at 72341 when we discuss certain things. The only thing I can gather from this is that we are living in a negative time and place. Not really a mystery there if you ask most people. Our death pool is just a reflection. Most anything we've ever done to offend anyone has been a reflection of the world in one way or another. It may be getting under some skin because the truth, or a vague reflection of it, can sometimes suck. So we root for old people to die?
I saw yesterday where a friend made a Facebook post about having a mean old snake in her living room. I told her I was unimpressed by her snake-handling skills because I figured she wouldn't be the type to be afraid of a snake.
I am not afraid of snakes. Cautious for sure, but not afraid of them. I dig them. They interest me. So I armed myself with a bucket and a broom and a machete and went calling to see if I could remove the reptile.
The monster in question was approximately 18 inches long and about as big around as a dime at the fattest part. Also, it was already dead from an attack by the family cats. So I scooped a dead snake into a bucket with a broom and left that house a hero! I felt like St. Patrick, but less Irish and totally sober at the time.
If you've listened to our show for a while, you know I draw a college team from a hat each season as my official team to root for. I have a bit more fondness for the Gamecocks than for the Tigers, but I never swore allegiance to either because warring family (house divided, brother!) tugged at me to go both ways till I finally went neither way as a kid. That brings me to drawing it out of a hat!
Last year, Purdue. This year, Florida State. Years past, Presbyterian, UNC and a team or two I don't really recall.
With Purdue last year, I had a mediocre team struggling to go for .500. With FSU this year, I have almost a sure thing now that they've beaten Clemson. Looks like nobody else in the ACC is going to have much for them. Sadly. I like when it's interesting, like last year with Purdue. This year, it's just beating people up and it takes all the drama out of the wager between Maffew and myself.
I haven't heard much from FSU fans this year. I know they're out there. I know some of them, but man they don't socialize much with football fans as best I can tell.
The Purdue fans last year were super friendly. They'd go to Bailey's to watch all the games and they invited me out to watch with them. When I saw them out in public, they were friendly and excited and super nice. This year, FSU fans have been silent while they watched the Noles run up the polls and dominate everybody, including Clemson. I think a tradition of winning will do that to you. A tradition of mediocrity and struggle builds character. Winning too much robs you of it.
I've been thinking about this because I think about things in my spare time and I have more spare time than most people can ever dream of. If you have the spare time to read this, I'm shocked. I have the spare time to read the complete works of Shakespeare once a week. And go fishing twice.
I have a very minor young guy who isn't flat broke problem on my hands. It concerns my free time.
I have a vacation coming up in a few weeks. Once again, I can't figure out where I want to go or what I want to do with myself for that week I don't have to work. I have a truck, myself, and I can go anywhere. I can do anything I want that week.
So, naturally, I struggle to figure it out given the infinite number of possibilities for my leisure week.
I see the girls I know on Facebook. They take vacations together when they are single. Men operate a little differently. We'll go off for a weekend, but we know better than to spend a week straight with our buddies because we wind up temporarily hating them when we do that. You ladies, though. Y'all can go to the beach for a week, on a cruise together. Pretty much anywhere you wanna go, and you always have friends who want to do it with you.
For a single man, what is a vacation? You're gonna go try to meet women, and you might get lucky one or two nights, which is still pretty lame since you've been on the prowl for the better part of a solid week. You're gonna drink. Probably a lot. You're gonna sleep a lot. You're gonna eat by yourself at bars. It's what we do as men.
Last time I had a week off, I never decided where to go, so I spent the week in Greenville doing pretty much the same thing I would've done had I gone somewhere else. I guess Hedonism is the answer, but the nudist colony in Chesnee is more in my price range.
Tony Stewart in the Coke Zero 400
First, Saturday night. NASCAR was in Daytona for the Coke Zero 400. Formerly the Pepsi 400. If you grew up listening to the race on the radio, you call it the Firecracker 400.
For most of the 167 laps around Daytona, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle seemed dominant. So how did Smoke come out on top?
Simple strategy. At one point, he was in 42nd place. He hung out toward the back of the pack for the majority of the race. He trusted himself to know the race and the track well enough to get where he needed to go when he needed to go there. He stayed out of all the wrecks and cautions. By the time they started, he had already moved to the front of the pack. Once he got up front, he never looked back. If he did, he'd have only seen smoke and carnage on his way to the checkers.
Anderson Silva at UFC 148
Later on Saturday night into Sunday morning, Anderson Silva defended the UFC Middleweight Championship for the 10th time. When you look at title reigns across all weight classes and across all of combat sports, 10 consecutive successful title defenses is a feat achieved by very few men since we started keeping records.
He did it again, this time coming out, taking a whooping in the first round, and making the statement he wanted to make in round 2. He TKO'd Chael Sonnen, finally buried that long-standing feud, and added another incredibly entertaining chapter to possibly the most storied career in MMA.
Roger Federer at Wimbledon
Early Sunday afternoon, or nearing prime time in England, Roger Federer sunk the host nation's dreams when he locked up his 7th Wimbledon championship. Seventeen grand slams since his first Wimbledon win 10 years ago. Seven Wimbledon wins in the last 10 tournaments. A career every bit as accomplished and prestigious as Tiger Woods, if not moreso. Possibly the greatest of his era, across all sports. The greatest to ever step on the court anywhere in the world. Except France.
Now, this is all just my opinion. I am most certainly the little man in this scheme we have here in America. I fall into that category. I don't control any wealth to speak of. I don't have anyone depending on me. Little man.
I see a lot of other people in my boat and some in dingys and paddle boats and row boats and even floating on headboards - who seem all too content with throwing their money at passing cruise ships without getting so much as a tow, let alone an actual ride.
No buffets and 24 hour cheeseburger service. No casino and no waterslides. No swimming pools and no comedy shows. No concerts, no shopping, no ports of call. Just throwing money at passing cruise liners for a chance to ride their wake and hope you don't tip over from it.
Talk about paying for cheap thrills. Why are we throwing money at the cruise liners so they can constantly threaten to tip our little vessels over and dump us out in shark-infested waters? Why in the hell do we encourage them? Not that we allow them. We actively encourage them.
We're the people who wind up in prison, march straight to the showers, bend over, and ring the damn dinner bell for all the boys in cell block C who haven't seen a woman since Clinton was president. We aren't about to resist. We're begging for it. We're handing out numbers and welcoming all comers. We allow them to illegally immigrate all up in our stuff, if you will. Given the option to resist or do something about it, what do we say? We say, "No way, man, I don't want to change a thing. You know, I'm getting screwed here, but at least they throw me their leftovers as long as I let them have their way with me. Sure, sometimes it seems like I might starve, but every time I think I'm about out of the game, a bread crust or a broccoli stem appears like manna from heaven and all is well."
That's how I view healthcare in America. Not many people would be so extreme in their views, but let's look at how it is. Big business has been winning forever. You have private hospitals who make tons of money because they only see people who are insured. On the other hand, you have public hospitals, like Spartanburg Regional or AnMed or GHS - places that don't turn people away from the ER. Places that save lives. Doctors and nurses who administer life-saving healthcare all the time - and never get paid for it. Sure, the doctors and nurses collect their salaries, but the facilities themselves fall into disrepair and always lack the needed equipment to get by. Because people simply can't pay the outrageous bills being sent to them every month.
I certainly don't blame anyone who doesn't have a quarter million dollars set aside for a long-term illness. I've never even made that amount of money in my life. If you totaled every dollar I've ever made, it's less than that. I'm sure some other people can identify with that.
So, an opportunity comes along to do something good for yourself, but because it's also good for your neighbor, you don't want to do it? A chance comes along to do something good for your neighbor, even if you already have insurance...But you don't take it, because why in hell would you help out anyone else? That certainly isn't what America was built on. We talk about what it was built on, but a bunch of bickering idiots certainly didn't revolt against England's crown and win a nation of their own. If we were in that situation today, we'd be throwing what money we have left at the redcoats hoping they'd like us enough to shoot us first.
Railing against healthcare is railing against yourself. It's saying you want big business to continue taking advantage of you, the people providing healthcare in your community, your friends, your neighbors, your family, and everyone in your community. It isn't even about being selfish. It's simply a matter of doing what's right by someone else or acting like a dick because you're greedy.
You aren't being told what to do. You're being given the easiest possible avenue for achieving something you should be able to achieve. You're doing something about America's lagging healthcare statistics. You're ultimately taking a step towards returning America to where it was 20 years ago, and where you still think it is in your mind.
Years ago, we were tops in education. Tops in healthcare. Tops in everything. Do you know why? Because all of Europe had been destroyed by two world wars and the rest of the world was a bit slower developing. Where are we now?
Now that infrastructure has developed globally, we lag in education. We've fallen behind in healthcare. We've sold out all our manufacturing for pennies on the dollar. We're slowly beginning to lag in technology. What's next? Do we keep up the downward slope while pretending things are as good as they were when we were kids, or do we stand like adults and try to fix what's gone wrong?
If you have pride in America rather than fear of the unknown, you'll do what your grandparents did and stand up for America. You'll do what they did and stand up for someone besides yourself.
What do you think World War 2 was even about? No one was attacking us (except Japan) but we still went into that European theater because someone else was being done wrong, and we did what was right.
We stood strong against Japan when they attacked us, but we stood just as strong against the Nazis when they attacked our friends and neighbors.
And like a Biblical parable, we have now so taken for granted the luxuries afforded us by our grandparents that we dont even want what's best for us - unless we can screw someone else over in the process.
In my own personal opinion, if you're against the thought of healthcare for everyone, you'd best think twice the next time you call America a Christian nation. Unless being Christian has changed. Does it mean you're greedy, you don't help others, and you put yourself ahead of the rest of the class? Does it mean you are unwilling to sacrifice for someone in need? If you want to dictate policy and morality, don't do it in the name of Jesus and think no one is going to call you out for your hypocricy. Don't think no one is going to notice. Spend less time reading the drudge report and more time reading your bible and maybe you'll understand that Rush Limbaugh doesn't necessarily speak for Jesus.