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 May 20, 2018 | 1 comment



Friday, May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas, once again our nation watched the horror of a school shooting as the ambulances carried away the wounded, and the police checked teenagers’ backpacks after the fact. The dead lay inside the building, unseen and now forever unheard. Ten killed, ten more injured; among them, a substitute teacher killed and a school resource officer critically injured. There was a slight twist to this attack today. There were homemade bombs involved. The police haven’t said any went off, but they found several different types, including pipe bombs and at least one pressure cooker bomb.

The killer was arrested. Some reports say he was injured, but he had his initial court appearance today and we watched him stand, handcuffed, at the court window and sign the papers. He didn’t look injured. He didn’t look like a killer, either. He looked like a seventeen year old boy who wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.

Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not trying to drum up sympathy for the killer. I’m simply describing him to make a point. Social media went crazy all day, describing him as a Nazi lover using an AR-15, an introvert, a loner, an experienced gun user, and a person who wore black trench coats daily, even in the heat, and carried a duffel bag. Some of these things appear to be true, but according to police, they found no evidence of his association with any Nazi group, or any particular fascination with terrorist organizations at all, for that matter. He has a few different patches sown on his coat and a picture or two on Face Book showing the coat, the symbols it bore, and a tee shirt that was lettered with “BORN TO KILL” in bold letters. The rest of his pictures were pretty basic, normal looking stuff you would expect to see on a teen’s page.


So far in 2018, more children in school have been murdered than soldiers in our military.

We might find out what caused this shooter to flip out, or we might not. He didn’t use the weapon of choice that most shooters use these days. He didn’t have an AR-15. He had an old-fashioned Revolver (six-shooter) and a shotgun. And bombs. The guns belonged to his dad. So this isn’t about banning assault weapons – at least not this particular case – but it is about the need to stop this irrational behavior in our young people.

Was this killer mentally ill? I kind of think that being a teenager is a form of mental illness, with all the insecurities, uncertainties, and confusing emotions, hormonal and otherwise. It’s definitely a time of strife hitting people who often aren’t mature enough to know how to deal with it. And I think that anyone who thinks there’s some kind of solution to their problems, or some kind of worthy revenge in killing others is not mentally stable. But I’m not a doctor or a psychologist. I don’t know if this killer would fit the label of clinically mentally ill. No matter what people said on social media today, this kid played football, was fairly good at it, had been on the honor roll a couple of years earlier, and wasn’t known to be antisocial in any particular way. The trench coat thing was weird, but hey… kids do weird things.


My concern is how do you stop someone who shows no outward signs of being hostile or violent? How would teachers know, or friends know, or even his parents know? Often there are signals that we disregard, but sometimes there really isn’t a strong forewarning. So how do we fight that?

Here’s an idea: Maybe his parents could have made it next to impossible for anything like this to happen. What would have happened if the guns in his house were locked up in a safe, and only his parents had the key?

SentrySafe Quick Access 1-Gun Biometric Gun Safe Stack-On 8-Gun Keyed Gun Safe Locking Gun Rack, 3 gun - By Allen

Why should they do that? Because it’s the responsible thing to do. It’s not because they don’t trust him, or that they have reason to think he might be emotionally unstable. It’s for the same reason we don’t give the car keys to a 14 yr. old, even if he knows how to drive. The maturity level to use good judgment just isn’t there, yet. Sure, some kids mature sooner than others. Some are more responsible. But why take the chance? Why lay out the temptation? Just set a rule and stick by it. Guns belong in a safe. Kids without a driver’s license don’t get keys to the car, and kids without a license to carry a gun don’t get access to the safe. Oh wait… there are no gun user licensing requirements. There are no safety classes required. The guns don’t even have to be registered, in most cases. And what about the bombs?


Let’s step back for a minute. Many people say that somehow when we were all younger, things just weren’t like this. There’s some truth in that. But what was different?

When I was a teen, my parents were in and out of my room so often that I couldn’t have accumulated enough materials to make a single pipe bomb. – Mom: “What’s the piece of pipe doing on your closet floor? Me: “Oh, it’s just for a science project…” Mom: “Oh, what’s it going to be? How does it work? What else do we need to gather up for it?” Me: “Never mind, I think I’m just going to do a litmus test on something.” Now parents are either too busy to keep track, or they’re afraid of “invading the space” of the child. More on that in a minute.

So this kid, it seems, had access to an empty trailer, and was maybe even living there – at 17 years old. This is where he built his bombs, albeit not very expertly, according to police. I don’t know if this trailer was on his family’s property, or just sitting vacant somewhere, but he had easy access and no one was questioning why a teenager was going in and out of it. Was it even legal for him to be there? Did his parents know he was hanging out there?

The definition of being a parent is “invading space.” You no longer have to change their diapers, dress them, or feed them, and you probably shouldn’t be doing their laundry. But you should be invading their space. You don’t have to be the warden, but you do need to know what’s going on. You should know their friends, know where they hang out, and have some idea of their interests and their feelings about things. There should be rules, and consequences for breaking them.


I’m not blaming the parents, but I am suggesting that parents may want to step up and do something immediately, to ensure their child doesn’t face a life in prison with no hope of parole, or even a worse fate.

Now, back to the guns. This is no longer a political issue, but a moral one. We know right from wrong by about the age of 7 years old. That doesn’t stop most of us from doing something we shouldn’t, now and then. I stole a candy bar when I was about 10 and got marched back to the store, where I had to admit what I’d done, apologize, and hand the manager the money to pay for what I’d taken. Then I had to do special chores to “earn” that money. I don’t remember what I had to do anymore, but I’ll never forget having to admit my theft and having to apologize. I don’t believe I’ve stolen a thing since that day. My point is, our kids know they aren’t supposed to mess with guns. They know that just shooting someone because they feel like it, is wrong. But they need parental guidance, at times, to overcome problems, to keep temptations out of reach, and to learn to make good judgments until they mature.


We all need the help of the law. The law isn’t there just to punish. It’s there to protect and guide, as well. I’ve talked to both Democrats and Republicans who agree that safety classes and usage licensing make sense in gun ownership. Some disagree on licensing firearms, but in reality, it helps them, too. If a gun is stolen, we can report that to the authorities, and with the use of a decent database, that gun could very well be returned to us in short order. Should that gun be used in a crime, the authorities can see that it was reported stolen, and maybe track down the criminal, thereby securing and returning our property. Coordinating that database with sales and ownership of guns is no more invasive than having a database of vehicle VIN numbers and licensed drivers.

Part of the problem could be addressed by a regulation requiring some kind of safe or locking device for firearms if there is anyone under the age of 21 living in the same home. In the event of a minor committing a crime with a gun that wasn’t locked up, the owner would be held responsible, according to the severity of the crime. That would mean that if a teenager took a gun to school and shot someone, the parent could be found guilty of some charge such as felony negligence or felony contempt of a law agreed upon when purchasing that firearm. This obviously doesn’t address all shooters, or all circumstances, but it may be a solution for impulsive actions, or to keep guns from being stolen. At least it’s a step we can take within our own rights. Whatever we come up with, it needs to be backed by law. But you don’t need a law to make this happen in your home today. I found prices ranging from under $25 to about $200 that would fit most people’s needs. Of course, you can certainly spend more on higher quality, or for display purposes. Whatever the case, I think we must all do something until we can get our representatives in Congress to recognize the pain our children are going through, or until we vote in representatives that understand that some regulations have value.

I’m open to other ideas, if anyone would care to propose something. -THE END

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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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