Guns are in America’s DNA


After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard said, “We have an opportunity in this country not to go down the American path.” And they took that opportunity: Australia banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns – weapons that can kill many people quickly – and implemented a 28-day waiting period, thorough background checks, and a requirement to present a “justifiable reason” to own a gun.

Guns were not banned outright, and while gun violence did not end in Australia, it was cut by roughly half since 1996 – and there has never been another Port Arthur since.

United Kingdom

In 1987, a single gunman killed 16 people in what came to be known as the Hungerford Massacre. As a result, made registration mandatory for owning shotguns and banning semi-automatic and pump-action weapons.

Despite this action, in 1996 an unspeakable, cowardly bastard burst into the gymnasium of a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, and killed 15 children aged five and six along with their teacher before turning one of his handguns on himself. By 18 months later, UK lawmakers had passed a ban on the private ownership of all handguns in mainland Britain, resulting in some of the toughest anti-gun legislation in the world.

The United States

In the first month and a half of 2018, there had been 17 shooting incidents at schools in our country. Some were accidental, some were intentional, one was suicide, and some resulted in no injury or death – but 22 people died, and many more were injured. As of this writing, there have been 290 school shootings since 2013.

Even one is too many.

But the odds that the United States will ever ban firearms outright approach my odds of winning the lottery – that is to say, virtually nonexistent.

From where I sit, there are two dominant reasons for this, reasons which have the weight of history behind them.

1. The right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to our Constitution:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The interpretation of the scope of that statement, in the absence of the people who framed it, is being examined in courts on a continual basis. More about this in a bit.

2. Firearms are an integral part of our nation’s history

For better or for worse, our nation’s history depended on firearms. The expanding frontier and the uncertainties of life in a lawless country made owning a firearm (or an armory) often meant the difference between survival and becoming a nameless skeleton on the prairie.


“Why don’t she write?”

But after surviving the hostile elements, there was still the matter of putting food on the table. Hunting in American has morphed from a matter of daily bread to a wildly popular sport; in Utah, for example, teachers expect classrooms to be oddly empty during the deer hunt.

When I was growing up, guns were everywhere. It may be why “A Christmas Story” is such a popular movie with a certain generation:

Image result for Red Ryder BB Gun

Ads for air rifles and BB guns were seen in just about every comic book:


At summer camp, we had a BB range and a rifle range. I loved riflery, and in 1964 I attained the Junior NRA rank of “Sharpshooter 2nd Bar.” I would have certainly gone farther had I been able to attend camp more frequently – target shooting was a lot of fun, and I was proud to have earned these.


I owned many toy guns and weapons of mass destruction when I was a kid – and playing “cops and robbers” and “cowboys and Indians” was just what was done.



In our games, when you got shot dead you always just got up again… even if they got you right behind the davenport. While our riflery instructor was impeccably serious about safety on the range, there was never any training given on how to handle a gun safely in the real world, or education around the fact that guns were designed to kill things instead of hit targets at 50 feet, or that when you’re dead, that’s it – there’s no coming back for a second chance.

The fact that guns are written into America’s DNA has allowed the NRA to morph from an organization for sports enthusiasts into a powerful political entity – one which seems determined to preserve and expand its influence at all costs. And their “cold dead hands,” any weapon, any time, any caliber, any size, any magazine, any bump-stock philosophy has been adopted by a significant portion of our citizenry, including a significant number of our legislators who take obscene amounts of money from the NRA, all the while sending their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims without being willing to do anything about the carnage.

The recent shooting at Parkland left 17 people dead. I haven’t even mentioned other gun-related deaths, such as the one in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured 851.

It’s time for a change.

Yes, the 2nd Amendment still guarantees our citizenry the right to bear arms, but I do not believe – I will not believe – that the writers of that amendment  ever meant for a single individual to own something like this, unless the zombie apocalypse were a real possibility:


Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative voice on the Supreme Court, wrote:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited…”. It is “…not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

I personally believe that the writers of the 2nd Amendment would be shocked if they saw how that little bit of the Constitution was being interpreted and argued and implemented today, especially if they viewed the daily carnage in a nation with between 270 million to 310 million firearms, depending on whose estimate you believe.

As long as the 2nd Amendment remains in force, we as citizens of this country must balance a right to bear arms with an end to the daily death toll which has reached untenable proportions – indeed, has been unbearable for decades.

If you want to own a gun, this is how it should go:

  1. You take “Firearm Education,” a government-approved class on firearm operation and safety. (Note that many states mandate a driver’s ed class of at least 30 hours.)
  2. You take a written and practical test on the type of firearm for which you wish an endorsement.
  3. You submit to a background check. The current Brady Law mandates use of the NICS, but as we have seen with the Florida and Las Vegas shootings, past actions are not always an indicator of future ones. Too many red flags were missed in the case of the perpetrators; more needs to be done to keep weapons out of the hands of unstable individuals.
  4. Your guns are registered, licensed, and taxed, just like your cars are. Nobody tells you how many cars you can own, or of what kind, as long as you’re licensed to drive them and pay all relevant taxes and fees.
  5. You have liability insurance on each weapon.
  6. Your weapons are inspected and re-registered at yearly intervals, just like your car. Aside from the die-hard sovereign-nation groups, nobody complains about having to re-register cars, or pay excise taxes, or have them inspected for safety, or maintain current insurance. It’s for everyone’s safety, owner and public alike.

In addition to this, I call for a total ban on semiautomatic weapons in the hands of private individuals. They are weapons of war; nobody needs one of these killing machines for hunting, or for any other purpose short of the above-mentioned zombie apocalypse. Bump stocks are a no-brainer – they make no sense.

I have many gun-toting, sharpshooting, hunting, and reloading friends who will disagree with my opinions, but that’s how America works. This is such a highly-charged issue that I debated about disabling comments on this post, but I have always supported civil discourse on difficult issues. Ignorant and trollish comments will be ignored and deleted without ceremony.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Drug Pricing Maze

I’m grateful to have health insurance. Many, many people don’t, and that’s an ongoing debate in our society right now. That said, I absolutely don’t understand what’s going on with drug prices.

I get my long-term scripts filled by Magellan, a mail-order pharmacy. When my last batch of prescriptions was delivered, the printed circulars that came with them had some interesting information that got me thinking.

These are all very common drugs, not rare ones. Actual drug names have been replaced with ℞ A, ℞ B, and ℞ C.

℞ A: The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of ℞ A is around $4.00, 90% off the average retail price of $43.29 (30-day supply)

OTC versions, for comparison:

Amazon: $27.96
Walmart: $8.00
Kroger: $17.06
Costco: $19.26

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $187.20
With Insurance: $10.00
Cash discount: $10.00
Net price: 0

So I ended up getting this one for free.

℞ B: (GoodRx) The cost for ℞ B is around $13 for a supply of 90 capsules, depending on the pharmacy you visit. Prices are for cash paying customers only and are not valid with insurance plans.

This drug is not available over the counter.

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $397.22
With Insurance: $10.00

℞ C: The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of ℞ C is around $10.54, 92% off the average retail price of $134.99 (30-day supply)

Not available OTC.

Magellan states that the ℞ price for a 90-day supply is $450.00
With Insurance: $10.00

So I’ve paid $20.00 for scripts that should have cost me $1034.42

These numbers from Magellan just don’t add up. Are these “self-pay” prices, or just randomly inflated numbers to make me think I’m getting a killer deal? What is the “average retail price” anyway, if nobody pays that?

I found this article at Lifehacker, and it addresses the issue that I mention here – but even after reading the article, to me it is still a mass of confusion. And I realize that in terms of the complexity of the entire situation, what I’ve outlined is just the frost on the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The situation is untenable, and I can clearly not choose the drugs in front of me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Don’t fall for spam solicitations

Typical scam hook letter, looking for easy marks. They don’t ask for money up front, just offer to give their “wealth” away. People who respond will be asked for “fees” and “taxes” and “bribes.”

Just don’t.

Mary James <
1:47 PM (2 hours ago)
to Recipients

My name is Mary James. am 75 yrs old of age and I stay in New York City, New York USA. I am a good merchant, I have several industrial companies and good share in various banks in the world.

I spend all my life on investment and corporate business. Along the way I lost my husband and two beautiful kids in a fatal accident that occurred in November 2003. Ever since I lost my family, its been difficult to sleep or get enough rest. Later in the year 2004 February I was sent a diagnosis letter after a medical check up, confirming from my personal doctor that I have lung cancer, which can easily end my life at anytime.

I found it uneasy to survive myself, because a lot of investment cannot be run and manage by me again. I quickly call up a pastor/prophet to give me positive thinking on this solution as my adviser. He minister to me to share my properties ,wealth, to motherless baby/orphanage homes/people that need money for survivor both student that need money for schooling, business woman and man for their investment and for future rising.So therefore I am writing this letter to people who are really in need of help from me both student in college to contact me urgently, so that I can make an available preparation on that.

I also have a good loan master agent that I have discuss with to release free loan offer to you which you don’t need to pay the loan back,cos it’s a free loan master offer. Especially women of the day, who are divorced by their husband, who cannot survive the mist of feeding their self, please contact me and stop weeping.

Probably let me know what you really need the money for and if you can still help me to distribute money to nearest orphanage homes near your town. May the lord bless you as you reach me, please to remind you, don’t belongs to scammers or any act of fraudulent on Internet.

Best Regards,
Mrs. Mary James.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Domain Listings: Another Scam

For a while now, people have been receiving deceptive solicitations from a company called “Domain LIstings, PO Box 19607, Las Vegas, NV 89132-0607.” I got one just last week.

You can see the letter they send out below:


The letter is designed to think that you have to pay to re-register your domain, but this outfit is nothing more than an American version of the “World Business List” – offering worthless services for an outrageous fee.

Please note that these bottom-feeders offer you virtually nothing that Google doesn’t do for free. Their “directory” will not give you a whit of exposure. They offer 24/7/365 exposure, which is exactly what you get when Google and the other search engines crawl your site.

Customer reviews at Yelp, just as an example.

If you get one of these letters, it’s not an invoice. Just throw it away, and stay away from these scum-eaters.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Jenny Holzer: Truisms

According to Wikipedia:

Jenny Holzer (born July 29, 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio) is an American neo-conceptual artist, based in Hoosick Falls, New York. The main focus of her work is the delivery of words and ideas in public spaces.

Holzer belongs to the feminist branch of a generation of artists that emerged around 1980, looking for new ways to make narrative or commentary an implicit part of visual objects. Her contemporaries include Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Charlesworth, and Louise Lawler.

Holzer’s initial public works, Truisms (1977–79), are among her best-known. They first appeared as anonymous broadsheets that she printed in black italic script on white paper and wheat-pasted to buildings, walls and fences in and around Manhattan. These one-liners are a distillation of an erudite reading list from the Whitney Independent Study Program, where she was a student. She printed other Truisms on posters, T-shirts and stickers, and carved them into stone benches. In late 1980, Holzer’s mail art and street leaflets were included in the exhibition Social Strategies by Women Artists at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, curated by Lucy Lippard.

Her list of truisms follows below. While I don’t agree with all of her thoughts, cut from whole cloth, I find value in many of them. Your mileage may vary.

A little knowledge can go a long way.
A lot of professionals are crackpots.
A man can’t know what it is to be a mother.
A name means a lot just by itself.
A positive attitude means all the difference in the world.
A relaxed man is not necessarily a better man.
A sense of timing is the mark of genius.
A sincere effort is all you can ask.
A single event can have infinitely many interpretations.
A solid home base builds a sense of self.
A strong sense of duty imprisons you.
Absolute submission can be a form of freedom.
Abstraction is a type of decadence.
Abuse of power comes as no surprise.
Action causes more trouble than thought.
Alienation produces eccentrics or revolutionaries.
All things are delicately interconnected.
Ambition is just as dangerous as complacency.
Ambivalence can ruin your life.
An elite is inevitable.
Anger or hate can be a useful motivating force.
Animalism is perfectly healthy.
Any surplus is immoral.
Anything is a legitimate area of investigation.
Artificial desires are despoiling the earth.
At times inactivity is preferable to mindless functioning.
At times your unconsciousness is truer than your conscious mind.
Automation is deadly.
Awful punishment awaits really bad people.
Bad intentions can yield good results.
Being alone with yourself is increasingly unpopular.
Being happy is more important than anything else.
Being judgmental is a sign of life.
Being sure of yourself means you’re a fool.
Believing in rebirth is the same as admitting defeat.
Boredom makes you do crazy things.
Calm is more conductive to creativity than is anxiety.
Categorizing fear is calming.
Change is valuable when the oppressed become tyrants.
Chasing the new is dangerous to society.
Children are the most cruel of all.
Children are the hope of the future.
Class action is a nice idea with no substance.
Class structure is as artificial as plastic.
Confusing yourself is a way to stay honest.
Crime against property is relatively unimportant.
Decadence can be an end in itself.
Decency is a relative thing.
Dependence can be a meal ticket.
Description is more important than metaphor.
Deviants are sacrificed to increase group solidarity.
Disgust is the appropriate response to most situations.
Disorganization is a kind of anesthesia.
Don’t place to much trust in experts.
Drama often obscures the real issues.
Dreaming while awake is a frightening contradiction.
Dying and coming back gives you considerable perspective.
Dying should be as easy as falling off a log.
Eating too much is criminal.
Elaboration is a form of pollution.
Emotional responses ar as valuable as intellectual responses.
Enjoy yourself because you can’t change anything anyway.
Ensure that your life stays in flux.
Even your family can betray you.
Every achievement requires a sacrifice.
Everyone’s work is equally important.
Everything that’s interesting is new.
Exceptional people deserve special concessions.
Expiring for love is beautiful but stupid.
Expressing anger is necessary.
Extreme behavior has its basis in pathological psychology.
Extreme self-consciousness leads to perversion.
Faithfulness is a social not a biological law.
Fake or real indifference is a powerful personal weapon.
Fathers often use too much force.
Fear is the greatest incapacitator.
Freedom is a luxury not a necessity.
Giving free rein to your emotions is an honest way to live.
Go all out in romance and let the chips fall where they may.
Going with the flow is soothing but risky.
Good deeds eventually are rewarded.
Government is a burden on the people.
Grass roots agitation is the only hope.
Guilt and self-laceration are indulgences.
Habitual contempt doesn’t reflect a finer sensibility.
Hiding your emotions is despicable.
Holding back protects your vital energies.
Humanism is obsolete.
Humor is a release.
Ideals are replaced by conventional goals at a certain age.
If you aren’t political your personal life should be exemplary.
If you can’t leave your mark give up.
If you have many desires your life will be interesting.
If you live simply there is nothing to worry about.
Ignoring enemies is the best way to fight.
Illness is a state of mind.
Imposing order is man’s vocation for chaos is hell.
In some instances it’s better to die than to continue.
Inheritance must be abolished.
It can be helpful to keep going no matter what.
It is heroic to try to stop time.
It is man’s fate to outsmart himself.
It is a gift to the world not to have babies.
It’s better to be a good person than a famous person.
It’s better to be lonely than to be with inferior people.
It’s better to be naive than jaded.
It’s better to study the living fact than to analyze history.
It’s crucial to have an active fantasy life.
It’s good to give extra money to charity.
It’s important to stay clean on all levels.
It’s just an accident that your parents are your parents.
It’s not good to hold too many absolutes.
It’s not good to operate on credit.
It’s vital to live in harmony with nature.
Just believing something can make it happen.
Keep something in reserve for emergencies.
Killing is unavoidable but nothing to be proud of.
Knowing yourself lets you understand others.
Knowledge should be advanced at all costs.
Labor is a life-destroying activity.
Lack of charisma can be fatal.
Leisure time is a gigantic smoke screen.
Listen when your body talks.
Looking back is the first sign of aging and decay.
Loving animals is a substitute activity.
Low expectations are good protection.
Manual labor can be refreshing and wholesome.
Men are not monogamous by nature.
Moderation kills the spirit.
Money creates taste.
Monomania is a prerequisite of success.
Morals are for little people.
Most people are not fit to rule themselves.
Mostly you should mind your own business.
Mothers shouldn’t make too many sacrifices.
Much was decided before you were born.
Murder has its sexual side.
Myth can make reality more intelligible.
Noise can be hostile.
Nothing upsets the balance of good and evil.
Occasionally principles are more valuable than people.
Offer very little information about yourself.
Often you should act like you are sexless.
Old friends are better left in the past.
Opacity is an irresistible challenge.
Pain can be a very positive thing.
People are boring unless they are extremists.
People are nuts if they think they are important.
People are responsible for what they do unless they are insane.
People who don’t work with their hands are parasites.
People who go crazy are too sensitive.
People won’t behave if they have nothing to lose.
Physical culture is second best.
Planning for the future is escapism.
Playing it safe can cause a lot of damage in the long run.
Politics is used for personal gain.
Potential counts for nothing until it’s realized.
Private property created crime.
Pursuing pleasure for the sake of pleasure will ruin you.
Push yourself to the limit as often as possible.
Raise boys and girls the same way.
Random mating is good for debunking sex myths.
Rechanneling destructive impulses is a sign of maturity.
Recluses always get weak.
Redistributing wealth is imperative.
Relativity is no boon to mankind.
Religion causes as many problems as it solves.
Remember you always have freedom of choice.
Repetition is the best way to learn.
Resolutions serve to ease our conscience.
Revolution begins with changes in the individual.
Romantic love was invented to manipulate women.
Routine is a link with the past.
Routine small excesses are worse than then the occasional debauch.
Sacrificing yourself for a bad cause is not a moral act.
Salvation can’t be bought and sold.
Self-awareness can be crippling.
Self-contempt can do more harm than good.
Selfishness is the most basic motivation.
Selflessness is the highest achievement.
Separatism is the way to a new beginning.
Sex differences are here to stay.
Sin is a means of social control.
Slipping into madness is good for the sake of comparison.
Sloppy thinking gets worse over time.
Solitude is enriching.
Sometimes science advances faster than it should.
Sometimes things seem to happen of their own accord.
Spending too much time on self-improvement is antisocial.
Starvation is nature’s way.
Stasis is a dream state.
Sterilization is a weapon of the rulers.
Strong emotional attachment stems from basic insecurity.
Stupid people shouldn’t breed.
Survival of the fittest applies to men and animals.
Symbols are more meaningful than things themselves.
Taking a strong stand publicizes the opposite position.
Talking is used to hide one’s inability to act.
Teasing people sexually can have ugly consequences.
Technology will make or break us.
The cruelest disappointment is when you let yourself down.
The desire to reproduce is a death wish.
The family is living on borrowed time.
The idea of revolution is an adolescent fantasy.
The idea of transcendence is used to obscure oppression.
The idiosyncratic has lost its authority.
The most profound things are inexpressible.
The mundane is to be cherished.
The new is nothing but a restatement of the old.
The only way to be pure is to stay by yourself.
The sum of your actions determines what you are.
The unattainable is invariable attractive.
The world operates according to discoverable laws.
There are too few immutable truths today.
There’s nothing except what you sense.
There’s nothing redeeming in toil.
Thinking too much can only cause problems.
Threatening someone sexually is a horrible act.
Timidity is laughable.
To disagree presupposes moral integrity.
To volunteer is reactionary.
Torture is barbaric.
Trading a life for a life is fair enough.
True freedom is frightful.
Unique things must be the most valuable.
Unquestioning love demonstrates largesse of spirit.
Using force to stop force is absurd.
Violence is permissible even desirable occasionally.
War is a purification rite.
We must make sacrifices to maintain our quality of life.
When something terrible happens people wake up.
Wishing things away is not effective.
With perseverance you can discover any truth.
Words tend to be inadequate.
Worrying can help you prepare.
You are a victim of the rules you live by.
You are guileless in your dreams.
You are responsible for constituting the meaning of things.
You are the past present and future.
You can live on through your descendants.
You can’t expect people to be something they’re not.
You can’t fool others if you’re fooling yourself.
You don’t know what’s what until you support yourself.
You have to hurt others to be extraordinary.
You must be intimate with a token few.
You must disagree with authority figures.
You must have one grand passion.
You must know where you stop and the world begins.
You can understand someone of your sex only.
You owe the world not the other way around.
You should study as much as possible.
Your actions are pointless if no one notices.
Your oldest fears are the worst ones.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Alan Alda: Prognosticator

The following words were offered by Alan Alda in 2001, at the graduation of a friend’s daughter. Alda was referring to a piece written by a Chicago newspaper columnist named Mary Schmich, which was virally circulated on the Internet but erroneously attributed to Kurt Vonnegut.

And that’s what makes this Internet event a great image for the age in which we live. There are probably just as many lies going around now as ever before, but these days they’re traveling at the speed of light. There are just as many people who want to fool you into thinking they’ve got it all figured out for you, but now you don’t have nearly as much time to think it over.

And with the help of an engine for repetition that works on a scale unheard of in the past, the lies stick. People are still sending around the talk, thinking it was written by Vonnegut. I was sent a copy just last week.

It’s a delightful piece of writing. But if it’s presented as if it were by someone other than the person who wrote it, it steals that person’s good name and gives itself a certain credibility before it has a chance to earn it honestly. So, as good as it is, it’s a cheat. At least in the way it’s offered to us.

So, you may be thinking, big deal. It’s just a few good jokes. But think about it… It could be selling you anything. It could be a cult religion that could separate you from friends and family, or a quack medicine that could lead you paralyzed, or bogus political information that cause you to elect a numbskull to the presidency.

God forbid.¹

These are great words with regards to the internet and its impact on the dissemination of information – both genuine and bogus – but eerily prescient in view of the political developments of recent years. For what it’s worth, the entire book is a wonderful, human, and relevant read.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

¹ Alan Alda, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself (New York: Random House, 2007), 121.