“Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite complexity of nature.” (fractalfoundation.org)
James A. Yorke, Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Maryland at College Park, is the man who coined “chaos” as a mathematical term along with T.Y. Li in their 1975 paper, Period Three Implies Chaos. He’s no fan of The Donald’s but says his behavior is not chaos. “It might be better to call it hyperchaos. Alluding to the classic billiard ball analogy used to describe chaos theory he says, “Chaos is bounded in some sense. You know the billiard balls are going to stay on the table, but they careen around on the table,” he said, adding that it seems different with Trump. With Trump, the chaos is in many different directions. Seriously.”
Here’s how the billiard balls have rolled around the White House recently: porn star Stormy Daniels sues DJT on Wednesday, Gary Cohn resigns on Tuesday, Sam Nunnberg spills his guts in a media blitz on Monday, steel and aluminum tariffs announced on Friday, Carl Icahn’s sells steel stocks just before the tariff announcement, DJT imagines himself President for life, Hope Hicks resigns, General McMaster’s on the verge, Chief of Staff lies, Jared Kushner uses his position to finance 666 and retaliate against Qatar, Rob Porter beats his wives but isn’t fired until the pictures arrive, DJT meets with the NRA after the AR-15 slaughter of 17 high school students and teachers at Margory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and suggests that arming teachers will solve the problem of gun violence in schools.
C’mon folks… Focus. School children are being killed and the chaos and disruption in Washington is destroying our democracy while we’re all glued to our TV’s waiting to hear the porn star’s creepy revelations about the President’s junk. I can’t do anything about the President’s smarmy behavior or Rob Porter’s spousal abuse, but we can all do something to prevent fellow Americans from killing each other. It’s criminal to wait for more school children, churchgoers, nightclub patrons, and office workers to be gunned down when we can actually do something to slow the epidemic of mass murders. Last year, more Americans died gun-related deaths than all the military combat deaths since the end of the Vietnam War. So, let’s do something about it.
If we’re worried about terrorism we should start looking at the NRA. It would be hard to find a more exemplary case of domestic terrorism. For decades the National Rifle Association has stonewalled all attempts to regulate the manufacture, sale, storage, transfer, or purchase of firearms in America.
In 1996, after a number of public health studies showed that having a gun in the house increased the risk of homicide or suicide the CDC suggested guns be treated as a public health problem, like cigarettes, and proposed an informational public campaign be mounted to inform the public of the risks. The NRA stepped in and convinced Congress to pass a law prohibiting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control” and keep it from gathering data on gun related deaths.
In 2005 the NRA flexed its muscle again and Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a law preventing firearms purchasers from bringing lawsuits against manufacturers and dealers when crimes are committed with their products. Then, in of January 2016, again at the urging of the NRA, President Trump rescinded an Executive Order that kept mentally ill persons from purchasing guns but failed to prohibit those on the US government’s “No Fly” list from doing so. It looks like the Second Amendment protects crazies and terrorists while the rest of us are living in a Code Red world.
When will our elected officials find the courage to address the deaths of the 17 innocent young people gunned down with a military-style semi-automatic weapon in an Florida school? Or the 26 kids at Sandy Hook, the 49 club patrons in Orlando, the 14 co-workers in San Bernardino, the 58 concert goers in Las Vegas, and the 26 parishoners in a Sutherland Springs Texas church? The common denominator is guns and federal, state, and local officials need to act. Yes, all of the shooters were mentally ill, but stop the bullshit. If the mentally ill have assault rifles they can kill a lot more people quickly than if they have a knife, a handgun or a bolt-action hunting rifle. Elected officials need to stop drinking the NRA Kool Aid and taking their money. The NRA is an unindicted co-conspirator in every mass shooting in the US until background checks are universal and assault weapons are unavailable to civilians.
There are 30,000 gun-related deaths in America EVERY year. Only a small percentage involve an AR-15 or related military style weapon, but civilians don’t need military weapons to protect themselves. These are killing machines and have no place in a civilian home. The Supreme Court has made it clear that the Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment, is subject to reasonable regulation and restraint. I can’t drive a car without a taking a written test and demonstrating competence behind the wheel. I also need to show ownership evidence of a liability insurance policy before I am licensed. Let’s make it at least that hard to buy a gun. Let’s have minimum age and require all purchasers – whether in a gun shop, at a gun show, on the internet, or a private sale – to undergo a complete background check with a reasonable waiting period.
In the Supreme Court case of Schenck vs. United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. famously said, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” There are no “absolute” rights in the Bill of Rights. The Court has recognized that “reasonable regulation” of the guaranteed freedoms is permissible, and that includes the 2nd Amendment as well as the other enumerated freedoms.
The students of Margory Stoneman Douglas High School are doing something we adults have been unable to do – bringing the debate over gun control into the sunlight. They are outspoken and apolitical. They want action and on March 24th they plan to march in Washington DC to show the White House and Congress that it’s time to take on the terrorists at the NRA and enact sensible regulations. Congress and the state legislatures need to step up to protect us from needless gun-related deaths – accidents, homicides, suicides, and mass shootings. There are an estimated 300,000,000 guns in circulation in America today. We aren’t going to confiscate them as the NRA tells the paranoids in its membership, but we could, like the Australians, start with a few sensible restrictions and a modest buy-back program for assault weapons.
On May 21st the Alliance for Gun Responsibility will hold its 6th annual fundraising luncheon in Seattle. M and I, as founding members of the Alliance, encourage you to attend and add your weight to the rising tide of those demanding reasonable, responsible legislation to protect our kids and ourselves from needless gun violence. We’re in it for the long haul. We’re not discouraged. The tobacco industry fought the overwhelming evidence of smoking danger for years, but eventually the truth and public health concerns prevailed. Guns are just as much a public health problem as cigarettes and there is ample evidence to support that despite the NRA’s efforts to suppress it. It’s my hope that good policy and common sense will prevail so that we and our children and grandchildren can feel safer as we make our way in the schools, in our churches, at concerts, on the streets, or wherever we find ourselves.
Peace be with you.
Bar graph from http://everytownresearch.org