CVIndependent

Sun02252018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

On this week's stable, genius weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson ponders the meaning of the word "complicit"; The K Chronicles has a disconcerting experience at a sports bar; This Modern World dismisses poverty; Apoca Clips listens in as O.J. threatens to sue; and Red Meat finds something in a storm drain.

Published in Comics

As the West’s elected officials wrestle with how to protect us from gun violence in the aftermath of the Las Vegas nightmare and the Texas church shooting, a truth comes to mind: These leaders are not actually wrestling with the issue of how to protect us from gun violence. If they were, the solution would be as clear as a mountain stream: Treat people more like fish.

Here in the West, fish get far more protection than people. If you’re an adult, you need a license to fish. In Colorado and other states, that license limits you to two fishing rods at a time. Keeping fish is often forbidden, and barbless hooks are often required to boost the odds that your catch-and-release gem lives to see another day.

Live bait is frequently illegal, and hook size and the fishing season itself are often limited. There are restrictions on the size of kept fish and “bag limits” on how many a caster can keep. All of these rules are in place for one true-West reason: “Fish deserve a fighting chance.”

The safeguards don’t stop there. Heard of the zebra mussel? Our states spend a fortune to fight the threat a tiny invasive mollusk presents to the safety of our finned friends. In California, you can’t possess a gaffe, a spear or even a long-handled net within 100 yards of a body of water

To prove they’re serious about enforcing piscine protections, hard-working government employees walk shores to make sure you and I are giving brookies and bluegills their fair shot. Good things, these measures. They’re very reasonable and welcomed by sportsmen and women across the West. Even our political leaders praise these common-sense policies that “protect a valuable resource” and wisely maintain a treasured part of life.

Better still, any U.S. senators who give a crap about crappies are unlikely to face a political backlash or high-dollar effort to drive them from office. No politicians have lost their seats for being pro-Power Bait or anti-nightcrawler. We don’t rant on Twitter about jackboots and slippery slopes caused by fishing licenses. No well-funded politically charged campaign declares: “Spinning Rods Don’t Kill Fish. People Do.”

More astounding: Westerners don’t fear these restrictions, even when their right to bear fishing poles isn’t secured for eternity in the Constitution. But when it comes to the right to bear arms, the reasonable limitations of fishing are swept downstream with sanity. Uncle Sam doesn't require a license to buy a deadly weapon. At some gun stores, he’s fine with you buying a 500-rounds-a-minute semi-automatic weapon.

In the West, you can possess a militia-sized arsenal well within 100 yards of a body of people, along with the deadliest ammunition, in any size and amount. Many politicians refuse to limit this dangerous status quo “in any fashion” … while holding anglers to just two rods and artificial bait.

Meanwhile, it’s open season on humans, and there’s no effort to reduce the bag limit or limit places where our loved ones get taken out. We stop large-caliper hooks, but do nothing about large-caliber weapons. Schools of fish get hearty government backup. Schools of children and teachers do not.

Come on, folks: Let’s act rationally and fix this. Please, no more talk of prying guns out of people’s “cold, dead hands.” There were 58 pairs of those hands in Las Vegas. They belonged to brave cops, EMTs, security guards and everyday heroes who risked their lives to help bleeding strangers. They belonged to fathers, mothers, siblings, sons, daughters and friends who paid the worst price for simply going out to have a good time.

Those people; their families; the 500-plus others who were injured; and the thousands of others who escaped physical injury but live with terrible memories of the trauma deserved way more protection than we provided. In a real game of war, on people, the odds were stacked against them.

Isn’t a human life as valuable as that of a trout?

Marty Jones is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. He writes in Denver.

Published in Community Voices

On this week's fall-tinged weekly Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson looks behind the conspiracy theories; The K Chronicles takes a survey; This Modern World talks to a gun nut; Apoca Clips listens in as Trumpy and Pence talk strategy; and Red Meat gets ready for bed.

Published in Comics

On this week's high-powered weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World talks gun control with a glib sociopath; Jen Sorenson touts the "predator pass" given to white guys; The K Chronicles gets high and talks to God about guns; and Red Meat celebrates a birthday.

Published in Comics

Gun safety is, and has always been, an LGBT-rights issue.

Granted, some of the most prominent cases of anti-LGBT hate crimes have not involved guns; the deaths of Matthew Shepard and Sakia Gunn were not due to firearms. Even so, the LGBT community is plagued by gun violence.

On May 13, 1988, Rebecca Wight and Claudia Brenner were shot while hiking the Appalachian Trail, because their murderer was enraged by their lesbianism. Wight died from her wounds.

On Oct. 15, 1999, Sissy “Charles” Boden was shot dead in Savannah, Ga., for being gay.

On July 23, 2003, Nireah Johnson and Brandie Coleman were shot to death in Indianapolis after their assailant learned Nireah was transgender.

On Feb. 12, 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King was shot twice by a classmate in Oxnard because of his sexual orientation. He later died.

Gun safety has always been an issue with the LGBT community. According to FBI data, nearly 21 percent of all hate crimes reported in the U.S. have been due to the victims’ real or perceived sexual orientation. However, our major LGBT organizations historically have not taken a significant stand on the controversial issue of gun violence.

But on June 12, 2016, 49 individuals died because of their sexual orientation, or because of their support of the LGBT community, at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. This was a pivotal moment: A community has had enough—a community that is well-organized due to decades of fighting for civil and human rights. Our right to live without fear of dying at the hands of gun violence is now being fully embraced and is considered of paramount importance. Make no mistake: These are not special rights. These are not gay rights. These are human rights—and now this is our fight.

On Saturday, June 18, Equality California (EQCA) launched its new #SafeAndEqual campaign, not only to raise awareness that gun violence is an LGBT issue, but to declare that gun safety is an LGBT right and now a major policy priority. EQCA has signed on to numerous statewide bills and is proud to join other organizations, like the Human Rights Campaign, on federal efforts that will prohibit military-style assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines; close gun-show and Internet-sales loopholes on background checks; and strengthen background checks and waiting periods to keep guns out of dangerous hands. EQCA will bring the full force of our lobbying efforts to pass them.

This is deeply personal. Pulse nightclub could easily have been Hunters or Chill Bar on Arenas, or Micky’s in West Hollywood. Those 49 people are sons and daughters, siblings, parents and young people with what should have been very bright futures. Most of them were LGBT people. They could have been me and you and 47 people we know here in the Coachella Valley. It’s difficult to remember in such an affirming community as Palm Springs, but the more visible we are as an LGBT community, the more vulnerable to violence and hatred we become.

As EQCA’s executive director, Rick Zbur, said: “Ending gun violence is also an LGBT issue, because LGBT people are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. Transgender women face epidemic rates of murder and violent crime. Hate crimes are on the rise throughout the United States, and members of communities of color suffer the highest rates of gun violence. In the weeks and months ahead, Equality California will relentlessly work in Washington, D.C., and in Sacramento, and mobilize our 800,000 members and the LGBT community to support legislation to keep our community—and everyone—safe.”

We all cope with tragedies differently. After the Orlando shooting, some of us attended vigils that doubled as rallies. Many of us were angry or sad. Many of us cried … a lot. I am a person of faith, and I’ve prayed for those who have passed and hold them in my thoughts every day. However, my tears and prayers alone will not change the culture in which we live. They will not bring 49 dear souls back to us. They will not remove killing machines from the hands of dangerous people.

However, 800,000 Californians, organized in lockstep with millions of others across this country pushing for real reform, will make a difference. It will require all of us to do our part and work together, but we can and will become #SafeAndEqual. I encourage you to start by adding your name at eqca.org/safe.

Darrell L. Tucci is a Palm Springs resident and a board member of Equality California.

Published in Community Voices

On this week's mournful Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson watches as pundits spew; The K Chronicles ponders a proposed gun ban; This Modern World considers when America was great back in ... 2000?; and Red Meat celebrates Milkman Dan's new uniform.

Published in Comics

On this week's unseasonably chilly weekly Independent comics page: The K Chronicles talks about North Carolina's creatures; Jen Sorenson shakes her head at more toddler shootings; This Modern World watches as The Incredible Trump runs amok; and Red Meat extends an offer of a coat.

Published in Comics

On this week's more-somber-than-normal Independent comics page: In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, This Modern World and Jen Sorenson sigh at the endless cycle of gun violence and inaction, while The K Chronicles celebrates some of life's little holiday-time victories, and Red Meat deals with frustration over the scourge of man boobs.

Published in Comics

On this week's time-change-weary Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson examines an Arizona law limiting people to 12 months of welfare benefits in their lives; The K Chronicles enjoys more of life's little victories; This Modern World listens to wingnuts discuss the right to bear arms; and Red Meat takes action when the landlord sprays for termites.

Published in Comics

I grew up with guns. I never had one as a toy—I did not have the BB or pellet guns that the other boys got for Christmas or birthdays. I had deadly, violent and powerful guns, for hunting. We were taught that there’s no such thing as an empty gun, and that you never, ever point a gun at anything you don’t intend to kill.

My first rifle was a 20-gauge shotgun, single-shot, break-open, and its barrel was a cold swirl of metal. I carried it proudly through the deep sagebrush of the Wyoming prairie, following my stepfather and his black Lab, hunting grouse; or through the willows of the river bottoms, hunting ducks. We hunted to eat, and sometimes at dinner, you’d bite on a chunk of birdshot still lodged in the breast of some fowl.

My stepfather had seen plenty of violence in Vietnam, and he loved guns. To him, a well-crafted gun, which he defined as one that could fire repeatedly without jamming, was maybe the most beautiful thing in the world. He had a collection of guns, including an old-fashioned muzzle-loader.

Once a year, he would grow a beard and dress in buckskin as a mountain man for a local pageant, where he would enter the shooting contest. He once brought home a card he had shot in half—the ace of spades. I envied his skill and his confidence with these machines, with their dark oil and smoke.

In my family, everyone got a hunting license, and everybody hunted big game. It was the best way to keep the deepfreeze stocked over the winter. Elk, deer, antelope—whatever you could get, and as much as you could get.

When I was 14, my grandfather, a banjo-playing hunter, trapper and outfitter, among many other things, gave me one of his old rifles. It was a .264 Winchester Magnum with a long barrel and a polished scope. It had been my uncle’s, and its stock carried a crosshatch pattern he’d carved himself. I was small for my age and struggled to haul the rifle through the cold woods of autumn when hunting season came.

One day, it was my turn to sit in the aspens and wait. Somewhere down the mountain, my mother and stepfather walked through the timber, driving the deer. I sat on a cold, shaded hillside, trying not to fidget, knowing my foot was falling asleep. Then a branch snapped—and a buck deer appeared, maybe 50 yards below me, breathing heavy from running uphill, but slowing to a trot, then a walk.

I set my rifle across a fallen tree and peered through the scope. The buck was beautiful, his silver coat shimmering with each breath, ears cocked, black eyes dark, like obsidian. I placed the dot of the scope on his neck. Inhaled. Exhaled. Squeezed the trigger.

Killed instantly, he dropped to the ground, and my heart heaved. There was a certain thrill with having made the shot, and a sudden dread of what that implied, of what I’d so easily taken.

I’ve been thinking about that deer these past days. I think of the weight I felt in killing it, of the debt it left me with. That old rifle is in my closet, thrumming with power, as I write this.

I know we as a nation must do more to control the violence guns bring into the world. I know, too, that many people like me think that gun ownership is a part of our American tradition, especially here in the West. That may be true, but guns have also become part of something terrible that happens again and again in a cycle of senseless murder. I am beginning to think that as a society, we are not responsible enough to be trusted with them. Their power has come to outstrip our collective moral capabilities. Something has to change.

Of course, some families like mine prided themselves on using guns responsibly. But there’s no guarantee. Not even my grandfather, who lived with guns his whole life, was in full control over his weapons. On a day in November, a few years ago, newly divorced and hurting, my grandfather sat on the porch with his favorite pistol. Then he shot and killed himself. Another life, so easily taken.

Brian Calvert is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a column service of High Country News.

Published in Community Voices

Page 1 of 2