FREE SOCIETY IS GUN-FREE
Our plague of semi-automatic gun massacres shows us that America faces a crucial conflict in how we have always interpreted the freedoms of assembly and personal expression with what a newer interpretation of “freedom to bear arms” means in today’s culture. They can totally oppose each other. We must find a way to honor both without destroying either. The increasingly individualized movement to bear assault-style arms, a central encouragement in some publications of the National Rifle Association, can easily cause the former two freedoms to lose their power. The NRA says the more individuals are armed with lethal power the freer we are as a people. Nothing could be further from truth.
Armed civilians on the town square, or in a living room of acquaintances, has a very direct intention ... to use intimidating power to “make us behave.” That means that free speech must find more than normal courage to speak up. Where the public is openly armed, everyone, as the president of the NRA has said, “has to be polite,” the implied threat being, “or else.” This is not the atmosphere of a civil society.
An ever more openly armed public, which is what the NRA unabashedly has wished America into becoming, does not promote a free democracy but an intimidated and cowering citizenry.
GUNS NOT THE REAL ISSUE
A federal court recently struck down Illinois’ ban on concealed carry, potentially ending our run as the last state to still forbid the practice outright. A peer noted that it will be fun to watch the Democratic-controlled, veto-proof majority and the governor fight to rewrite a law that most of the downstate constituency doesn’t want. Years of gun-rights battles across the state seem to be coming to a head in the next few months. It will do little to address violent crime. But it will do little to reduce gun deaths, and it will do little to make society safer.
Both sides frame the discussion around violent crime, with advocates of concealed carry arguing that it will allow citizens to protect themselves and opponents arguing that vigilantism will not solve the problem. More guns is not a solution to violent crime but neither is taking away gun owners’ weapons.
There is no discussion of the root causes of and solutions to violent crime. We hear no discussion of poverty, structural inequality or our violence-obsessed culture. There is no attempt to understand what factors increase the likelihood of violent crime. There are no proposals to attempt to alleviate the conditions that drive people to commit violent crimes or to provide additional opportunities to at-risk individuals.
The gun lobby has polarized the populace. No matter what the result of the next 180 days, concealed carry seems to be a distraction from what we need as a society, a real discussion about solutions to violent crime.
PARK TOWERS PROUD
Park Towers, at the intersection of Williams and Pasfield streets in Springfield, has been my home for almost 18 years. There’s a Russian saying, “every snipe likes its swamp,” so maybe I am a little biased, but I think Park Towers is an exceptionally well-run, and cozy place!
Since I’ve lived here, there have been a lot of changes but they have made the life of the tenants only more comfortable. The lobby has soft chairs, a piano, green plants and pictures. We have a large patio that residents love to use when it is warm out. There is plenty of room for parking, a nice laundry on-site, and the carpets and windows are always kept clean.
The residents don’t just exist here, they live a full-blooded life. They socialize and have the wish to spread joy to others. For example, for the holiday, residents Perry and Sharon Williams opened their door to visitors as part of the Christmas tour in the building. The Williams’ have been collecting festive decorations for 30 years and their apartment looked like a wonderful Santa Claus land.
I would like to applaud the work of Pacific Management and three current staff members at Park Towers: manager Shyla Lyons, assistant manager Misty Marucco and maintenance man J.P. Walker.
I am always eager to come home to my apartment on the fourth floor of Park Towers. I want to thank everyone who is responsible for the work of this foundling home for senior people.