Monday, July 21, 2008

Make It Stop!

I'm as keen as the next person to have intelligence and sanity restored to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next January, so I look forward to Barack Obama taking the oath of office of President. (It would be doubly great if John Edwards also was to be sworn in as VP.)

However, our money-driven campaign finance "system" has one immediate effect--nudging me ever more closely to not watching television, so as to get away from the omnipresent political commercials, which pop up multiple times during every commercial break!

Can you say, campaign finance reform with teeth?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bang, Bang?

On one hand, it's gratifying that some gun shops near DC (as there are none in the city proper, nor has there been for decades) are finally verifying whether potential handgun customers are from the District, at least until the DC City Council passes legislation specifying the conditions under DC residents can lawfully own the weapons.

However, why the heightened sense of responsiblity now? The DC handgun ban was in effect for thirty years, as everyone is well aware. Why didn't suburban gunshop owners feel a civic duty to verify customers' residence while the ban was effect, before it was struck down by the Supreme Court? This conscience-come-lately stance is hypocritical, at the very least, if not downright disgusting.

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It's hard to figure out which is more worrisome--the manner in which the DC handgun ban was overturned (the fact that it was DC's law which made it to the Supreme Court suggests that DC is being made an experiment, yet again), or the reasoning underlying much of the public support for overturning the ban. The fact that some of the many groups which filed amici briefs in the case (District of Columbia v. Heller) believe that a person holding a handgun would be able dial 911 with the opposite hand, means that like much of the general public, ostensibly educated people place too much faith in the ability of handguns alone for self defense.

While it is true that under the right circumstances, you can defend yourself adequately with a handgun, there are too many caveats with gun possession to make it a first line of self defense.

For instance, late last year, a gun store in the region was robbed. Sadly and shockingly, such a situation is not that unusual, as many of the guns used in crimes are stolen; however, before that robbery, I was previously unaware that many guns are stolen from gun stores as well as from homes. Such a state of affairs would seem to suggest that if you sense a need to acquire a gun to protect yourself at home, you should take other measures first, such as having an alarm system installed, and using that alarm system; unfortunately, only half of homeowners having such systems actually turn them on, negating the purpose! Of course, other preventive security measures should be used as well, with any thought of acquiring a handgun as a last resort.

In the words of Ice-T's song, the best lethal weapon is your mind.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Get the Lead Out...

If you need another reason to convince you to slow down while driving, how about so that you don't end up driving into someone's house?

A man's car hit a house at the corner of Wheeler and Alabama Ave., SE, finally perching in the living room, after also hitting a pedestrian. The driver had to be cut out of his vehicle, the pedestrian also was rushed to the hospital, and one of the home's resident's was trapped in the living room by the errant auto for a while.

Just how fast must you be driving to go airborne and land in someone's home? You can bet the driver was zipping along faster than the typical 30 mile per hour speed limit for urban residential areas! In recent years, with increasingly depressing regularity, there seems to be a spate of drivers slamming into buildings, residential and commercial, at least once a month somewhere in the US. I wouldn't doubt that distracted drivers play a large part in this dubious uptick of a trend, but excessive speed would be the main culprit. After all, if you're driving the speed limit, it's hard for your vehicle to go much past the curb, much less fly like the General Lee of the Dukes of Hazzard. Just saying...

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Back to the Future?

According to WUSA9, Virginia Senator John Warner (Republican) has recently written to the Department of Energy (DOE) to ask the Bush administration to support possible congressional efforts to re-establish a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour.

Warner noted that the potential petroleum savings would be greater now than back in 1974, when a national speed limit was first enacted (and remained in effect until 1995).

Sadly but unsurprisingly, a DOE spokeswoman repeated the administration's position that Congress should expand domestic oil production.

W--the American Nero.