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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/30/21

Good morning, THE COLORADO SHOOTING How many more people must die? Here is a two week period in America (as related by Meet the Press:

  • March 16, 8 killed, 1 wounded in Atlanta

  • March 17, 5 wounded in Stockton

  • March 18, 8 wounded in in Gresham Oregon and New Orleans

  • March 20, 2 killed, 17 wounded in Philadelphia, Dallas and Houseton

  • Monday 22, 13 killed, 5 wounded in Boulder, CO, Detroit and Cleveland

  • Tuesday 23, 2 killed, 6 wounded in Aliceville, AL and Atlanta

  • Friday, 26 killed, 25 wounded in Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia and Virginia Beach

  • Saturday 27, 1 killed, 13 wounded in River Grove, IL, Chicago and Yazoo City, MS

All that since over the two weeks after the spa killings in Atlanta. This was compiled by Gun Violence Archive, defining a mass shooting as 4 or more people being shot, not including the perpetrator. And yet, little happens. “Our hopes and prayers are with you,” while more guns and ammo are piled-up each day. Overwhelming numbers of Americans support expanded background checks, red-flag laws, and other reasonable limits on gun sales. Yet Congress doesn’t act. Why are we so unable to respond to the repeated acts of carnage, with guns far beyond what could be necessary for personal defensive protection, purchased shortly before the violence, often by people who wouldn’t pass a reasonable test for sanity, much less gun ownership? And when does someone hit ownership of “enough” guns or ammunition? Do we lack the political will? Are we incapable of finding a compromise that suggests reasonable requirements for ownership? What is the basis for “open carry” or the carrying of concealed weapons, absent extenuating circumstances? I am concerned about two things I saw this week. One was a Facebook post that said “Everyone should buy and carry a gun. America is becoming a dangerous place.” I hope this isn’t so. I suspect it may be. Certainly, the carnage continues, with over 40,000 people dead of gun violence each year. Over 20,000 of these are suicides. And while I accept that some would happen regardless, I have to believe that there is more pause when grabbing a razor or pills than the quick gun to the temple. I worry that America is more dangerous—but don’t think I’ll be signing up for that gun. The other thing is far more interesting. Guns may actually be responsible for abridging our first amendment rights to free speech and assembly. The juxtaposition of gun rights against other first amendment rights suggests that the presence of guns is, by definition, intimidating and forces people with legitimate points of view or grievances to stand down, for fear of bodily harm. An Atlantic article makes the case that the increase in gun rights actually can act to impinge on our first amendment rights: The article provides: “Over the past 10 years, advocates have sought, with some success, to normalize open carry of firearms in public spaces as they participate in market and political activities. The result is not just lone individuals carrying guns while buying coffee at Starbucks or shopping at Walmart. Open-carry advocates in militia dress amass at right-wing political protests, including in Charlottesville in 2017, at “gun sanctuary” rallies, at anti-lockdown demonstrations, and at Black Lives Matter counterprotests.” It continues with the frightening note: “These gun owners are not wielding guns against home invaders—they are bringing their guns to public spaces, seeking to dominate those spaces.” We see these public displays of force more and more every day—including at counter-protests, at the Michigan state capital, and within the U.S. Capitol. If people seeking to conduct legislative business or appear in public to share a point of view fear for their physical safety, doesn’t this rampant gun ownership pose a serious threat to serious exchange of ideas in the public space? These guns are not to provide for defense, but to exercise dominance. Perhaps now is the time to recharacterize the gun debate to focus on the challenge to basic liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment. Guns can restrict and control speech and assembly in public spaces and control those spaces. Guns create a totalitarianism of the armed over the unarmed. PASSOVER AND FOOD Those of us who are Jewish are in the midst of Passover, the week-long celebration of the coming out of Egypt. This holiday celebrating freedom has particular resonance in our time, when we want to believe that slavery is an historic anomaly viewed through the rear view mirror. Yet there exists in the world today human slavery, sex slavery, appalling working conditions for below-subsistence wages, and repressive regimes that control the minds and bodies of their citizens. Even in the developed world, there continue to exist working conditions that are only a step or two better than slavery. But the most pervasive of slavery in the United States today is how people have willingly allowed the enslavement of their minds. We need to become a nation of FREE THINKERS, people who assimilate information from multiple sources and perspectives and are able to think critically. Too many of our fellow citizens have become lemmings, fed fact-challenged news by algorithms seeking to keep them watching, while not upsetting any preconceived notions. PASSOVER FOOD This week, Jews around the world don’t eat leavened bread in all its incarnations. It’s really pretty hilarious the ends to which chefs are able to reproduce cakes without bread, sweets without yeast. And then there are the great Passover foods, including Matzo Brie (not the cheese…this is pronounced “Bry”). Matzo mixed in with scrambled eggs, with cinnamon sugar on top, perhaps served with apple sauce. Okay, I have to sign off now and head to Nate ‘N Al’s…” Have a great day, Glenn PS: Then there is “chocolate covered matzah.” Thank you, Dana, for making us some with dark chocolate!

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