Column - Published on 3/13/2013
in the News-Herald
Why is gun violence so political?
By Sean Colarossi
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, it is baffling to see how political the issue of gun violence has become.
Instead of striking a tone of unity and civility, many Americans have shown more concern for their guns than the safety of our fellow citizens.
Others have gone so far as to question whether or not the shooting even took place.
Why does it seem impossible to have an adult conversation about preventing these massacres without some fool accusing the government of a wild conspiracy?
Perhaps the existence of the National Rifle Association could explain a lot of it.
Ever since the Connecticut massacre, the NRA has tried to convince Americans that any measure to stop gun violence translates to a government takeaway of guns.
The NRA does this not because they truly believe guns are going to be taken, but because they receive financial support from gun manufacturers. Generating fear will scare people into buying (more) guns, "before someone comes to take them away."
Gun manufacturers taking in more profits means the NRA has more money to fund its perpetual campaign of fear and deception, all while paying off politicians and muddying the discussion about reducing gun violence.
All of this happens as our fellow citizens, by the thousands, die every year at the end of a gun, from our schools and shopping malls to our movie theaters and street corners.
It's time for us to shelve our love of guns and begin a real discussion about common sense things we can do to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States.
What can we do?
-Universal background checks: How common sense is this? Currently, 40 percent of gun buyers aren't subject to a background check. Everyone buying a gun should have a background check, period. If you're so afraid of getting one, chances are you shouldn't have a gun in the first place.
-Access to mental health services: In many cases, guns end up in the hands of people with mental problems. That's why Americans need better access to mental health services (these services have been on the decline recently) so we can identify when someone is troubled and make sure they cannot get their hands on a weapon.
-A ban on assault weapons: I'll defer to that crazy liberal, Ronald Reagan. In 1994, he and three other former presidents wrote, "While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons."
-A ban on high-capacity magazines: There is no place, other than a war zone, where somebody needs a clip that can shoot a hundred rounds per minute. That capacity is not necessary for either self-defense or hunting. The least we can do is force a potential shooter to reload his weapon.
-Increase school security: A schoolteacher's job description should not include the use of a firearm. Instead, school districts that wish to have a security officer should be given the funds to hire one.
Fortunately, these measures enjoy the widespread support of most Americans. Unfortunately, advancing them through Congress will be an uphill battle as one party is wholly owned by the gun lobby.
This should be about saving lives, not politics.
When will we start protecting our people instead of our guns? Will we wait until the next massacre? Will we wait until one of our own family members is gunned down?
Now is the time to set aside our politics, put down our guns and begin the work of building a safer America.
Column - Published on 2/6/2012
in the News-Herald
No truth to assertion of Obama record
By Sean Colarossi
On Jan. 27, a letter from Nancy Mihalick of Euclid was published in The News-Herald. The letter spoke of President Barack Obama and his State of the Union address that was delivered before Congress recently.
Let's fact check one of the more ludicrous things she wrote about the president in her letter: "He has always said the exact opposite of what he plans to do."
The president promised not to raise taxes by a dime on any American making less than $200,000 a year; promise kept.
In fact, he hasn't raised taxes on a single American -- he's lowered them.
He promised to end the Bush experiment in Iraq; another promise kept as our troops are completely out of Iraq. We're all thankful for their return and they all deserve our respect and gratitude.
He promised to kill Osama bin Laden and refocus our attention on those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001; promise kept. Oh, and more than 20 top al-Qaida operatives have been pursued and killed at the order of this commander-in-chief.
In his 2010 State of the Union address, the president set a goal of doubling American exports by 2015. We are on track to surpass that goal; promise kept. (And these exports have accounted for about half of our country's economic growth since the recession ended.)
He promised to pass a health care overhaul, eventually providing access to health care for over 30 million Americans who don't have it, and making it illegal for insurance companies to turn someone away who has a pre-existing condition or kick them off their coverage because they get sick. It allows college-age students to remain on their parents' health care plan until they turn 26 (that's a big help to someone like me who goes to college and works three jobs that don't provide health care coverage), closes the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug plans, which saves seniors hundreds of dollars (that puts a smile on my grandmother's face!), and lowers costs by getting everybody to take personal responsibility for their own health care by purchasing a minimum coverage plan (instead of forcing us to pick up the bill for folks who don't have coverage and just go to the emergency room when they get sick); promise kept. Oh, and repealing the law would cost about $210 billion, if you were wondering.
He promised to pass Wall Street reforms, putting in place regulations that will prevent the same practices that caused the economic collapse of 2008-2009; promise kept – and American taxpayers will never have to bail out Wall Street again.
Other promises kept by the president: Expand loan programs for small businesses, increase Veterans Administration funding, end the use of torture, expand Pell grants for low-income students, repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that discriminated against gay men and women serving in the military, reform and streamline the patent system, require 10 percent of energy to come from renewable energy by 2012, raise fuel economy standards, sign equal pay for equal work for women and other minorities into law, and reverse restrictions on stem cell research.
Of course, these are just a few among the 162 promises the president made during his campaign that he has kept as president, according to the independent fact-checking organization, PolitiFact.
All of this goes without even mentioning the 23 months of private sector job growth that saw our economy create 3.5 million jobs, the success of the auto bailout, which saved more than a million jobs and the put the American auto industry back on top, and the fact that -- despite what anyone might say -- American oil production is the highest it's been in eight years.
These are facts.
They don't take a lot of effort and time to research; it only took me a couple hours to fact check what I just shared with you.
What is bad for our country and our politics is when we decide our political ideology is better-suited retaining talking points from Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or literally anyone else on the Fox News payroll.
At that point, we decide that numbers and statistics don't matter, and the only thing that's real is this notion of a declining America that is perpetuated by right wing media.
As the president said in his State of the Union, "America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise – anyone who tells you America is in decline or that our influence has waned – doesn’t know what they're talking about."
And that's just it: A lot of people simply don't know what they're talking about.