It’s a very rainy night here in New York, but I made it out to vote.  Although we don’t have major elections this year, it has never been more important to fulfill this civic responsibility.  We’ve never had a time in my adult life where the nation has been so polarized, so strident, in our politics.  You would have to go back to the Vietnam/Nixon era for a similar situation, and I was only a kid in those years…aware, but not very.  (I was 13 in 1972.)  I guess this is a reminder that “even this shall pass”, and our worst fears (of nuclear holocaust, as was the case at the height of the cold war…and I do remember elementary school nuclear war drills, hiding under the desks as if that would do any good!) probably won’t happen.  But good people need to make our voices heard.  The majority of Americans are very concerned about the ill-considered if not outright crazy tweets that our President puts out; the reckless saber rattling with a clearly unhinged North Korean leader.  You don’t start taunting a drunk that you know is armed unless you want him to start shooting.  I think you can be just as concerned as a Republican or a Democrat watching these behaviors, and most American are really neither far left or far right.  I have never closely identified with either party, although the hijacking of Republican party by the far right causes me more concern than the hijacking of the Democratic party by the far left.  Neither is presently representing America very well, however.

We’d all like to avoid further gun violence it’s safe to say.  No one wants another Newtown, CT; Aurora, Colorado, Las Vegas, Nevada; Orlando, Florida; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Virginia Tech; or Long Island, NY (recall our own crazed gunman Colin Ferguson on the railroad years ago) to name only a few.  This problem plagues us across the nation, and with the exception of war-torn regions, we are unique on the planet in having such a problem.  Excepting the NRA and their most biased followers, surveys show that most Americans favor reasonable gun restrictions and stricter enforcement of current laws to close such loop holes as private sales and gun shows.  I don’t think it’s an extreme view to say that there is no rational reason anyone needs to have a military grade assault weapon – there is no sporting or self-defense justification – nor for high capacity magazines or so-called bump stocks.  We don’t allow people to buy hand grenades or bazookas, either, and I don’t hear anyone complaining about that!  The lame reason sometimes given is for the defense against a tyrannical government, but really, if the U.S. military is turned against the population we’d have no chance.  That’s a doomsday scenario for the globe, and it’s not worth worrying about, let alone justifying the need for assault weapons in private hands. The “good guy with a gun” in Texas this week most definitely is a hero and risked his own life selflessly to prevent further carnage.  I tip my hat to him.  But imagine if the evil shooter didn’t have an assault weapon in the first place.  Yes, he may have killed some people but there would not have been the carnage inflicted by the assault rifle.  There is simply no justification for supporting our right to own such weapons.

We need to make our voices heard in Washington and in the state houses around the country about gun control.  The first people to step up should be responsible gun enthusiasts.  Make your sport safer by raising standards.  If you are law abiding and responsible, you have nothing to fear (except perhaps for accidents, which take thousands of lives every year.)  And, yes, mental health is a big concern.  Clearly, these mass shooters and many ordinary criminals have mental defects.  But since getting such people to treatment is extremely difficult in may cases, we have to do more to prevent them from loading up on weaponry.

Come on now. It’s just common sense.