Ambidextrous Thoughts

This site is intended to offer research and commentary on current events covering a wide scope of topics. Over and over again, I see social media offering quick access to the latest news or trend, but often with very little thought or fact-checking put into it, which lends itself to misleading half-truths. The intent here is not to take a political side, but to discuss the differences expressed by many who use social media as their source of news and information. My aim is to look at both extremes of a topic, and try to find a way to come together. I welcome input and suggestions on subjects that you’d like to know more about. Some conversations may have a political theme, but I hope to discuss issues that affect our everyday life, whether it be what kind of education our children are really getting, why are medication prices spiraling out of control, are unions a help or a hindrance to our workers today, or what “entitlement” really means. Bookmark this spot and see how we do as we try to make a fair place to open discussions on the subjects that interest you most. By – JRBecker


Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 | 1 comment



By Bob Schneider

I own a gun and the NRA doesn’t represent me Glock, Pixabay Images

I own a gun. I own a Glock G30S, and I own it for personal protection. I receive many threats because I’m frank in stating my political opinions. Some say I’m more than frank. They would characterize me as harsh and abrasive.

Whether my style is frank, or harsh, I’ve collected my fair share of haters. Some have threatened me with harm. Are they just keyboard warriors shoot off their mouths? I don’t know if they are or not. I do know they give every appearance of being unbalanced mentally and I’m not taking any risks.

Before anyone says, “Bob has rediscovered his GOP,” save your breath. I’m a proud gun-toting Democrat. If the threats didn’t exist, would I own a gun? I might. Target shooting is a lot of fun. I doubt I would be shooting targets with a .45 caliber handgun. I would go with something smaller. God willing, I hope I never have to use it. I hope the threats I get are just keyboard warriors full of themselves.

How big is the gun industry in the USA?

According to NBC News, in 2015, the latest year we have industry figures for, the gun business earned 16.6 billion dollars. Of that number, 13.5 billion went to gun manufacturers. Gun stores and the ammunition business earned 3.1 billion dollars. That is big business.

In 2013, 10,847,792 pistols, shotguns, and rifles were built in the USA. Of those weapons built, only 4% were exported. That means 10.4 million of those firearms stayed in the USA. Pew Research estimates there are 270 to 310 million firearms in The United States. That is nearly one firearm for every person in the country. The figures represent legal gun sales in the USA. There is no way to track the illegal street sales.

The Pew research found a minority of people own all those guns. Collecting guns is a popular hobby in the USA. Sport shooting is also popular as is hunting. Not one Democratic proposal on gun control will affect any of those activities by law-abiding citizens.

I don’t need the NRA to protect my 2nd Amendment rights and neither do you

The National Rifle Association used to be a wonderful organization. Their focus used to be gun safety. They still offer gun safety courses. That is no longer their primary focus. The NRA of today are shills for gun manufacturers and have little to do with protecting the rights of gun owners. The great irony is that through fear and propaganda, the NRA has convinced gun owners to pay for the lobbying for gun manufacturers.

The NRA is one of the biggest, and best propaganda organizations on the planet. Anytime a common-sense gun law is discussed, the NRA starts the fear mongering. How many remember Actor Charlton Heston’s performance at an NRA gathering when he uttered the words, “My cold, dead fingers,” to the delight of the audience? There was a standing ovation.

The NRA is fond of fairy tales. The NRA loves to tell their membership the Democrats want to ban guns. It is a flat-out lie. I looked at their Twitter feed the day of the Las Vegas shooting. They went silent but in reading early tweets, they are still harping on President Obama taking guns away. Not a single gun ban was proposed, or a gun taken away by President Obama during his two terms. Deeper background checks and closing any loopholes in checking who is buying guns is not “banning” guns. That’s being smart.

Outlawing the kits people can buy to make a semi-automatic rifle like the AR-15 fully automatic is not banning guns. That is being smart. Selling machine guns to civilians is illegal as it should be. Making the sales of kits to convert rifles into machine guns should also be illegal. Will it stop the practice? Maybe, maybe not. I do know it will slow it down.

The same goes for silencers. Silencers have one purpose and that is to try and muffle the sound of a shooter so they won’t be detected. If the NRA tries to sell the idea it is to protect the hearing of the shooters then they should get out of the gun racket and go into comedy writing.

supreme The people who protect your rights as a gun owner work in the building in the picture. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution exists and by that fact alone, our guns will not be banned. Chicago and Washington, DC banned all guns a few years back. In the DC case, The District of Columbia vs Heller, and MacDonald vs Chicago, the US Supreme Court struck down the laws banning guns. It is the law of the land and unless there is a new Amendment to the Constitution nullifying the 2nd Amendment, that is not changing.

What the NRA does is dangerous for America. They aren’t protecting Second Amendment rights. They stop common sense gun laws that will protect us. The NRA likes to say all we are doing is inconveniencing legal gun owners. As a legal gun owner, just let me say, feel free to inconvenience me. It is for the greater public good.

What the NRA is right about

Gun owners are fond of saying we don’t do enough about the poor mental health in America. Know what, they’re right. We do need to do more for those afflicted with severe mental health issues. One thing we can do for them is to help them, and ourselves, by making sure people who are psychotic can’t buy a firearm. The NRA opposes this idea. If someone has epilepsy they can’t have a driver’s license. I don’t see a major lobbying organization holding meetings saying, “Pry my car keys from my cold, dead fingers.”

The gun control isn’t a debate; it’s a shouting match

Have you noticed there never seems to be the right time to discuss gun control in the USA? The NRA accuses the left of dancing on the graves of the dead. The left accuses the NRA and gun owners of putting people in their graves. Neither case is entirely accurate. The NRA does block laws that may save lives. The left is correct about that. I emphasize “may” because there are no guarantees. The NRA didn’t pull the trigger in any of the shooting sprees in recent years. They argue new laws would not have made the outcome any different. That is an assumption they are making that is subject to debate.

I’m tired of reading the words “Prayers for the victims” on social media. I want a safer America. I don’t want to ban guns but I sure want us to use some sense about who gets them and who doesn’t.

The NRA is abusing the Second Amendment, and gun owners are being used as their patsies. If the NRA wants to really be useful, host a summit between the two sides of the debate and instead of shouting at each other, figure out what we can do to head off the next tragedy.

I realize the NRA will only advocate for the gun and ammunition manufacturers. That is what they do. As representatives of a large business sector, their voice should be heard too. It shouldn’t be the only voice.


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Posted by on Oct 1, 2017 | 2 comments



I saw this comment online recently and decided to talk with my daughter, who worked in special needs education for a time. Through her insight, it occurred to me that I should post this on my blog.




I can’t fairly evaluate or comment directly about the events that took place with these two children. I don’t have enough information. Special needs kids do not have a one-size-fits-all solution.

Let’s look at some possibilities with the first incident; the exclusion of an autistic child from participating in a school trip. How old was the child? Was he taking a special needs class, and being integrated into the mainstream school population? [More about this later.] Did they even have a special needs class at that school? Was there anyone at the school trained in supervising autistic children on outings? Was at least one of his parents able to go along? As explained to me, autistic children are particularly sensitive to lights and sounds. Something most of us take for granted could send an autistic child into a panic where he could lash out, or run, or simply withdraw inside himself. It could be the bleat of a goat at the zoo, or a loud bang from the assembly line at a manufacturing plant. Would there be flashing colored lights at exhibits? These questions need to be asked, answered and evaluated based on the level of his autism, his general aptitude, and past behavior. Remember that there is a safety factor here. The safety of the other students, and also his own safety could be in jeopardy.

Let’s look at student number two, a Down’s syndrome child; removed from a dance class when she wasn’t able to keep up with the other students. Some of the first set of questions still apply. What was her age? Was she being integrated into the mainstream, or was she a full-time student on the regular agenda? Down’s syndrome children are known to be some of the kindest, most loving kids you can ever meet. They often do well in a regular, age appropriate classroom setting. That doesn’t mean they’re up to all the challenges that other students their age can cope with. Some studies show that children with Down’s syndrome require more practice with motor movements, whether in dance, exercise, or sports, and may have a learning delay due to physical ability with the central nervous system. Were her needs such that other students were being held back in a way that could impact their learning and performance? Possibly she should be moved into a less advanced dance class, where she could learn at a slower pace.

There are a number of other children that fall into the category of special needs. Kids with Asperger’s ( a variation of autism), ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), ADD (Attention deficit disorder), vision impairment including dyslexia, hearing impairment, Tourette syndrome and multiple other conditions can fall into the category of special needs. Each of these children need to be placed where they can benefit most from the experience with the least disruption to the mainstream students’ learning processes. Many of these students recognize that they aren’t like the other students, but they still want and need friends and social activities. Go to this site to see famous celebrities who have battled dyslexia and other learning disorders.

In larger communities, most public schools have classrooms with teachers and teaching assistants who are trained in working with special needs kids. As these kids develop, each at their own pace, most schools try to integrate them into standard classrooms, which works to the benefit of both the individual child and the other students in the school. Let me explain. When children are separated because of a condition, the other students consider them “different” and therefore not as sociably desirable. Meanwhile, the child from the special needs class begins to feel left out, unwanted, and so on. By moving the students with disabilities or learning problems into some of the standardized classrooms, they become “less weird” to the other children, and often assimilate quite well into the new structure. Of course, some children will adapt easier than others, but overall, it’s been proven that as abilities develop, integration benefits the child and stimulates learning. That said, sometimes events arise where special considerations must be made. Each case is going to be different, but the main thing is to maintain the safety of all children at all times. Sometimes a child can only be moved into one or two classes. For instance, some children with autism can actually do advanced math, while still not ready to try out social skills in the gymnasium. Conversely, a child suffering with ADHD might well benefit from a good workout in the gym.

Unfortunately, all schools do not have the facilities to separate the students, especially in smaller communities. Surprisingly, Down’s syndrome children can often do quite well in generalized study. Many others can too, but some children end up being home-schooled or even sent to a school specific to their needs, such as a school for the deaf and blind. Often, these schools provide boarding during the school year, since the kids come from several towns.

So the important thing here is to realize that each child will have different abilities and needs. I’m not just talking about special needs kids. If you think back to your childhood days, you’ll probably remember a kid or two that got teased a lot because they were smart, and another who was teased for being “dumb.” Maybe one of them was you. This idea of integrating the special needs students into as much standardized education as they can handle can actually help solve some of the teasing from happening as the students learn that even kids you thought were less capable can indeed learn and be funny and interesting and smart in their own ways.

Next time you get a chance, take a look at your child’s school. Find out what classes are offered for special needs students. If there are none, ask why not. Talk to your kids and find out if they know any special needs kids, and ask how they interact together. Explain to your children how all people have problems… some are just more obvious than others.

Of course all kids want to be included in outings and fun activities. Many times that’s possible and encouraged. Just remember that there are other students, too. Everyone’s safety must come first. Without knowing the special circumstances of the individual child, forming an opinion and making a judgement call can cause more stress and more harm than good. And if “winning” is the only goal, then yes, these children are being left behind. But remember that in a competition, tryouts leave out everyone who isn’t qualified to be on the team. Possibly pointing this out to special needs children would help them understand the difference between competition and general play. Also, show film/video of special Olympic events, to encourage their efforts.

And finally, parents must rise to the challenge too, of teaching their own children – whether special needs or not – that getting to know people that are different than they are can be a wonderful and inspiring experience. If there are special needs kids in your child’s class, encourage them to include that person in on things like birthday parties, or games, or just joining them for lunch. — END

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