Our Rights and Lives are Under Assault

I wasn’t going to rant so soon after July 4th, but there’s a lot going on, a lot we can celebrate and quite frankly, a lot that deserves to be examined and corrected. And what the heck, I wrote something for Independence Day and things were happening on our big national holiday.

The first thing that pissed me off Tuesday morning was my Twitter feed, naturally. In it was this right wing nut bar by the name of Steve Ferguson who joyfully slammed WNBA player Brittney Griner who is currently sitting in a Russian jail for allegedly having cannabis vaping supplies.

Griner wrote on her Twitter account, “As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever.”

Ferguson reacted to her post by saying “Karma is delicious” and calling Griner an “Anthem kneeler” and an “America Hater.” He hopes Griner is convicted and gets the maximum term in a gulag.

Steve Ferguson is a despicable punk, a right wing worm who likes to see the dictator of Russia choke the life out his nation.

And then there was this: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that requires every college and university faculty member and all students to register their political affiliations, beliefs and viewpoints.

Seriously? Is this 1933 Germany? DeSantis and Ferguson act like it is. And not just them. Every Trump Cult member serving in government — at the federal, state and local level — are pushing the U.S. into a fascist theocracy, aided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has now ripped away the fundamental right of women for self-determination, i.e. overturning the landmark decision, Roe v. Wade that gave women the fundamental right to make decisions about their bodies without government interference.

Then there is the attack on our 5th and 6th Amendments. The Supreme Court has decided law enforcement agencies no longer have to read us our Miranda rights, you know, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

You would think that after nearly 60 years people would know these things, but we don’t. It’s my inadequately educated opinion when we get arrested our first instinct is to freak out and then try to talk our way out of it, when actually the first thing we should say is, “Lawyer.”

The Miranda Warning came to us in 1965 when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a conviction because the defendant, Ernesto Miranda, wasn’t told of his constitutional rights in regards to not bearing witness against himself and his being allowed to consult an attorney before, or instead of, speaking to law enforcement officers.

Miranda was retried — without the written confession — and found guilty of the charges: robbery, kidnapping and rape. The case was based on evidence, not the defendant’s words.

Well, the current Supreme Court flipped that decision and now you might not hear the Miranda warning the next time you get arrested. Okay, so most of us white folks don’t get arrested — hell, most folks of all ethnic groups don’t get arrested — but the deal is the Supreme Court is chipping away at our rights. Today it’s the 5th and 6th Amendment, the next time it’s the 4th … oh wait, they crapped on that one too with the Patriot Act.

As that landmark assault on our civil liberties was being voted on and signed into law by former President George W. Bush, I asked several friends, all of whom are military veterans, if that law bothered them. I figured they felt the same way as me because we all took the oath to defend the Constitution. But I was wrong.

All of them said they didn’t mind having their civil liberties taken away because only guilty people would be affected. As long as their ability to watch Survivor isn’t interrupted, no harm, no foul.

It is that attitude that allows our government to secretly take away our rights, especially our right to privacy. They are collecting data on every person that uses a smart phone or otherwise connects to the World Wide Web.

Is privacy a right? It isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. In 1965 the Supreme Court found, in Griswold v. Connecticut, the court used the personal protections found in the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth implied a right to privacy.

Later the court used the 14th Amendment to provide a privacy  protection for women seeking abortions. Later the right to privacy extended by the 14thAmendment to give adults of the same gender the right to engage in sexual conduct with each other.

This latest case that overturned Roe v. Wade could be the precedent to overturn every other decision that hinges on our privacy. That is the beginning of a police state.

Of course no one wants to strip away our Second Amendment rights, real or imagined. Guns are so easily accessible an 18-year-old can purchase an AR-15-style weapon — or more if they want — along with as many high capacity magazines as he can afford and all the ammo to fill up those magazines. This is no lie: The civilian population in this country now has more firearms than the entire U.S. military. Wrap your head around that.

Aw man! I can almost feel and smell a brand new Smith & Wesson M&P 15 — or their M&P 12! Or maybe you’re getting that American Tactical AR-15-style rifle, with all the cool attachments that really make it look dangerous.

Well, with or without all the cool attachments any AR-15-style rifle that uses NATO 5.56 caliber rounds is dangerous. But still, if you have a SIG Romeo MSR Red Dot Sight for that bad boy, damn! Now you’re stylin’! You could join your somewhat friendly right wing, rogue militia. Or maybe your AR-15-style weapon is tricked out with a Millett DMS-1 with an illuminated donut dot reticle …

You know, you get the latest tactical belt so you can hold your extra magazines and other stuff you might need, like that effin KA-BAR and a vintage Colt 1911 .45 automatic … Man —  or the Smith & Wesson model 29 .44 magnum revolver, with the 6.5 -inch barrel …

Dirty Harry Callahan to a thief: “I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

I gotta stop thinking about this stuff. I’m getting a boner.

Guns are intriguing and fun. I get it. I was paid to carry and use an M-16 and a Colt model 1911 .45 pistol. There’s a certain thrill when, for the first time, you put all your rounds in that little circle in the middle — bullseye! Then every time you step to the line of the rifle range and shoot expert with both weapons, you get some respect.

During one M-16 qualification I shot a 247 out of a possible 250. The range officer thought I should get into Recon and become a sniper. No Thanks. They train day and night, with little or no sleep, very little to eat, all to become the elite of the elite. The very sharp and accurate tip of the spear.

If a Marine does good there they might go into MARSOC, Marine Corps Special Operations Command. That is the real tip of the spear and we can find men and women from every branch of the military in Special Operations.

Anyway, as civilians going about our day-to-day, we don’t need any of the rifles they carry, and possibly some of the sidearms. What are you going to do carrying an AR-15-style weapon, tricked out to the nth degree (from Amazon no less), going down the street to get a couple of Twinkies from the corner convenience store? And let’s be clear: if you are a fat ass — like me — you got no business wearing that tactical gear because your rolls of fat bulge out like wet clay between your fingers. And then you have an AR-15-style weapon hanging over your shoulder? Please!

Here’s another thing. The tough guy with the AR-15-style assault weapon draped over his shoulder is now a great first target for any would-be mass shooter. How long will it take the so-called good guy with a gun to drop his Twinkies and Big Gulp soft drink, get the weapon into shooting position and then pop off a few rounds? And remember to switch the safety off?

Speaking from personal experience, an assault happens too fast for the so-called good guy to react and get rounds off, let alone on time and on target. If a mass shooter walks into a situation ready to fire while the so-called good guy with a gun is still trying to figure out if he has enough Twinkies or not — Say Bye. Keep your weapons at home.

Or maybe the shooter disguises himself as a woman in order to hide some of his ridiculous tattoos as he climbs to the roof of a building that is overlooking the route of a 4th of July parade.

Why are people like him able to purchase guns, especially an M&P 15, legally? Seven people dead, their families decimated by it. The community crushed with grief. Two-year-old Aiden McCarthy survived the shooting, but his parents, Irina and Kevin McCarthy, did not. An eight-year-old is left paralyzed.

Highland Park, Illinois is where movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Risky Business were filmed. It’s a nice, affluent North Shore suburb of Chicago. It would be no stretch of the imagination to think that most Highland Park residents, like the people in Parkland, Florida, or Newtown, Connecticut, or Uvalde, Texas, or [pick a mass shooting location] thought such a shocking and terrible event could happen there. We all feel that way about our communities.

I wasn’t going to rant so soon after the 4th of July, but the reality is none of us are safe from gun violence. All we can say to one another is, “Stay safe, stay vigilant.” A mass shooting can happen anywhere. San Diego just had a shooting at Mission Beach, one of the most popular spots for tourists and locals alike.

There were over 400 shootings during the 4th of July weekend. It can happen anywhere. None of us are safe.