Published: Thursday, 01 August 2019 00:00
Written by Carmine Vacirca
This month I'm presenting a three part investigative report, called “To Protect and Slur,” on individual police officers who have joined and participate in various Facebook extremist hate groups, Islamophobia groups and militia groups such as The White Privilege Club, Ban The NAACP, DEATH TO ISLAM UNDERCOVER, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters to name a few. This exposé, written by Will Carless and Michael Corey, staff reporters at Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, was published in June at www.revealnews.org, their official website. Below are the links to the three parts of the report:
Part one: Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia
Part two: The American militia movement, a breeding ground for hate, is pulling in cops on Facebook
Part three: American cops have openly engaged in Islamophobia on Facebook, with no penalties
The overwhelming point I took from these reports is; “How can these police officers, hired to protect and serve their communities regardless of race, ethnicity or religious beliefs, do their jobs without bias?” Where is their allegiance? Obviously these police officers reflect the mood and views of many Americans in this country today. What's most concerning to me is, these police officers have deadly force training and will not hesitate to use it, if called upon. Will they use it to protect all individuals or just the ones that have beliefs similar to their own? I'm also very concerned that these groups are setting the stage for another bloody civil war in this country. We especially need to voice our concerns to this possibility and find a way to stop this self-destructive course.
Most of our elected politicians are failing us. They are too caught up in their own self-righteous rhetoric. It is up to us as individuals to begin talking with each other, not past each other. We must look beyond our differences and work together on ideas that improve everyone’s well-being and provide opportunities for growth and happiness. I believe this will force our elected officials to work together and implement what their constituents "all of us" want.
Published: Monday, 01 July 2019 08:00
Written by Carmine Vacirca
When will we say enough is enough? When will we wake up and realize that guns are not a right but a menace? Why are our lawmakers failing us? Have we become numb to all this gun violence?
The Gun Law Navigator, an online tool created by Everytown for Gun Safety, reflects their state-by-state surveys of modern gun laws since 1991. Everytown’sOverview of State Gun Laws (click on this link) presents an interactive chart of different types of key gun laws, and shows which have been adopted by which states. In all there are 67 key gun laws that all states could put in place. As you review and interact with the chart you will be shocked to see how few of these laws some states have adopted. For example, there are nine (9) states with ten (10) or fewer key gun laws on the books in their state. These are: South Dakota (4 key laws), Kentucky, Mississippi, and Wyoming (5 key laws), Idaho, New Hampshire (6 key laws), Alaska (7 key laws), Missouri (8 key laws) and Montana (10 key laws). Eight (8) states have implemented between 11 and 20 of the 67 laws. Seventeen (17) states have implemented between 21 and 30. The remaining states have more than 30 of them in place, including two (2) states (Hawaii and Illinois) that have 59 of the 67 laws implemented.
As a New Yorker I am glad that our lawmakers have passed a high number of the key gun laws (55 key gun laws). I think, however, New York can still do better. As an example, why haven’t we passed a law that requires law enforcement to remove firearms from a domestic violence scene? It seems to me such a law would eliminate a potential escalation of violence that could lead to someone getting shot and killed. This law is on the books in 12 states. I hope New York becomes the 13th state to pass such a law.
Of course, having all 67 key gun laws adopted by every state will not likely eliminate all gun violence, but I believe they can and will dramatically reduce gun violence. Also, I am sure our lawmakers can adopt additional laws to further reduce gun violence in our country. It is a matter of having the will to get it done! Needless to say, we need change NOW. The power that the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyists have over our lawmakers to prevent change is appalling! This too must change NOW.
The Brady group (named for gunshot victim Jim Brady), offers us frightening gun violence statistics at Key Gun Violence Statistics. I am horrified, sad, and disgusted when I see and hear news reports about another mass killing. I often say to myself, will this ever end? I am sure everyone feels as I do when they hear about these tragic events. Sadly, these feelings are fleeting and short lived. We all fall back into our daily lives. Also, I’m certain we don’t want to hear about all of the daily gun violence that is not widely reported. If everyone realized the toll that gun violence is wreaking on American lives, we would be further driven back. This Brady web site link presents horrific statistics about what is occurring in our country on a daily basis. How can we accept that in this country 310 people on average are shot every day, of which a hundred die? And how can we accept that these shootings include 27 children on average daily, of which eight are instances of ‘family fire’ – i.e., shootings that involve an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home. Why do we keep fooling ourselves that guns are not the issue? If guns were harder to get, I am sure these statistics would be much different.
How are we faring relative to other so-called developed countries? At Everytown for Gun Safety’s web page on A Nation of Survivors: The Toll of Gun Violence in America, we find the answer in this chart:
The U.S. Gun Death Rate is 10 Times That of Other High-Income Countries.
To me, this is a sign that, as a society, we’ve become numb to gun violence and accept it as normal. Until and unless we realize that we have the power to change it, all will remain the same. Unacceptable numbers of people will get shot daily; many will die; mass shootings will occur regularly; etc., etc. Nothing will change. We will continue to hear about gun violence, feel horrible and be disgusted, and then immediately turn and go about our daily lives in this numb state.