After every mass shooting, the public discourse immediately turns to gun control. Who should have them, who shouldn't, and what kinds should be restricted. I think there's some room for pragmatic discussion there (see below), but I fear this focus obscures the more serious, underlying cause: America's terrible mental-health systems. Imagining gun control as a solution to these problems is easy, and that's why we fixate on it. But the fact is that mental health in America remains stigmatized, treatments are inaccessible, and often the criminal justice system is the first point of contact for the mentally ill. This is the real, more challenging, issue that America needs to solve. And my belief in this is:
Why I'm keeping my guns
I'm not as concerned about my own personal safety as the author here, but I strongly endorse the underlying point of all his anecdotes: in a crazy world, access to firearms for defense are a totally reasonable right of sane citizens. There's definitely a point to common-sense gun reform: universal background checks, for example. I think part of the challenge is that gun control advocates tend to be so unfamiliar with firearms, they propose absolutely ridiculous methods of reform that are so off-base and offensive to the gun-owning population, they represent ignorance. If you don't understand gun owners, you're perceived as a threat. Witness my challenges buying a firearm in New Jersery, where muzzles must be pinned, telescoping stocks are illegal, bayonet lugs must be removed and magazines are limited to ten rounds. All of these restrictions (like those on "assault weapons") are arbitrary. Let's make America safer, and keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them is part of that. But engage firearm owners in that process — don't try to impose it on them.
Evangelicals shouldn't always vote Republican
Why do evangelicals support Donald Trump? While this op-ed is certainly biased (the author wrote a biography on Jimmy Carter and asserts that his evangelical background makes him a better champion for evangelicals), it raises excellent points about how we blindly support candidates based on party. It truly makes no sense for evangelicals to support not only Donald Trump, but many of the ideological positions they do. I don't believe Carter, or other Democrats, are any more deserving of the evangelical vote, but it's curious how they support candidates without holding them to task on issues that seem counter to the teachings of Jesus.
A look at ISIS' finances
Jihadology has an incredible look at the finances for an ISIS-administered province in Syria. ISIS is not funded as many thought, as it is primarily driven not by oil sales or foreign sources, but rather confiscation and exploitation. These methods make one hopeful ISIS will eventually collapse, but in the short term, the amount of money they are sitting on is terrifying.
So much for Kevin McCarthy
Are there any Americans in Congress? Hard-line GOP'ers want to sideline the government unless they get their way. Democrats rejoice at disfunction so they can win back the chamber. Is it too much to ask for a Congress that is actually interested in making America a powerful nation and beacon of hope for the world? Compromise and negotiation are part of the legislative process. We should certainly vote based on our ideals and our viewpoints, all of which differ. But celebrating strife when it comes at the expense of America, or derailing the chamber over the smallest issues? Not only does it not seem practical, it feels un-American.
I don't miss my TI-83
Here's a little story on why high school students are still buying calculators that cost more than iPhones and have less computing power than a Game Boy. Inertia is a powerful thing.