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Gun Control and John Oliver

If you’ve been living under a rock, you probably don’t know that there is a massive debate happening in the United States right now surrounding gun control following yet another mass shooting, this time at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December.

The Daily Show, a US TV show hosted by Jon Stewart, has recently shown a three part series on how Australia has dealt with gun control since then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard introduced a ban on automatic and semi automatic weapons after the Port Arthur tragedy in Tasmania in 1996.

By cleverly using satire to get his point cross, John Oliver makes a pretty convincing argument in favour of gun control.

Take a look at the three video’s (click on the links) and tell me if you agree or disagree with gun control reform in the United States.  If you disagree, you better have a pretty good argument and waving the US 2nd Amendment in my face is not it.

The Time Is Now, America

Throughout history, there have been moments in time which have shaped a nation. Think JFK’s speech about sending a man to the moon or Dr King’s speech about race and equality and more recently think the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001.

Well, now there is a time to make history in the United States and today, Friday, December 14, 2012, is that day.

Today, 26 innocent victims, 20 of which were children aged just 5 to 10 years of age, paid the ultimate price for that nations lack of gun control when a gunman, at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, opened fire and shot them.

I know that the US constitution, written over 200 years ago, allows the right to bear arms, but at what cost? How many more children must die due to a lack of gun control?  Die, due to a lack of empathy?  Die, due to a lack of action?

President Obama is about to commence his final term as US President.  Under American law, he cannot go for a third term anyway.  His presidency has been dogged by financial issues due to the ever worsening economy.  He needs to lead his country into a new era of gun control and this must be his legacy.  It won’t be a popular decision and he alone cannot make the law and amend the constitution.  That will be up to the lawmakers to do so but it must be lead by Obama himself.

It will be a hard sell.

Many of the pro guns crowd, led by the NRA, will argue that they have a right to protect themselves.  Well guess what?  It’s not working? It’s never worked.  It will never work.

I’ve never seen this headline:

 “Armed Citizen Saves The Day At Public School By Killing Heavily Armed Gunman”

or

“Hero Civilian With The Right To Bear Arms Kills Gunman At School Before He Tried to Kill Everyone”

The reason we don’t see these headlines is because it doesn’t happen. The headlines we do see are like these:

“Madman Kills 28 in School Rampage”

or

“Horrific”

or

“Another Mass Shooting”

And if the politicians can’t or won’t do it, then it is up to the people of the United States.  If you are a member of the NRA or are pro gun, show some true leadership and set an example that enough is enough and lay down your arms and encourage everyone to do so as well.  People power can be so powerful.

For those who say guns don’t kill people. People kill people. I agree, but why make it so easy to get access the guns?  Make it as hard as possible.

We did it in Australia.  After the Port Arthur Massacre of 1996, then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard changed our gun laws and it wasn’t an easy process.   There were a lot of people who didn’t want to give up their guns, mainly farmers and people from the bush.  But the law was changed and guess what?  Not one mass shooting since in almost 20 years.

This can be the future for the United States.  If enough people are finally outraged by today’s horrific events.

President Obama, it is time to make history.  This is the time when future generations will look back and see that someone was courageous enough to make a change.  That someone was influential enough to make a change.  That someone put their own self interests aside and just made that change.  This is your legacy.  It is your time to make a difference.

A Senseless Death

It’s a tragedy.  The loss of a young life from a terrible, horrible accident.  I’m referring to the death last night of 17 year old, Isabelle Colman.  She was on Queensland’s, Gold Coast, celebrating the end of school in the annual “Schoolies” pilgrimage that thousands of school leavers do each year at this time.

Isabelle Colman – Image Source news.com.au

Isabelle died last night when she fell from the 26th floor of the Chevron Renaissance Hotel.  The details surrounding the fall are not yet known, though it is believed she was alone at the time.

Earlier in the week, another ‘schoolie’ was photographed sleeping on an 11th floor ledge on the Gold Coast.  Cameron Cox, 18, was also celebrating the end of school on the glitter strip.  He was lucky that he didn’t fall as he attempted to sleep off a drunken night of partying.

 

Cameron Cox sleeps on a high rise ledge – Image Source news.com.au

In October, there were three more deaths from balcony falls from Gold Coast high rises and another two deaths since May this year bringing the total deaths to six this year.

Not good news for the owners of the high rise hotels and apartments with a renewed push for balconies to be locked off, especially during schoolies week.

Hundreds of thousands of people holiday on the Gold Coast each year with no incident at all.  They rent the apartments and leave safely at the end of their holiday.  But now because of these incidents it is possible that you will not be able to open your balcony door if holidaying there.

While all of these deaths are tragic, the responsibility ultimately for their deaths, belongs to the person who has fallen.  They are the ones who have gone too close to the edge, or climbed over or whatever other reason.  Sure, some of them may have been dared (and shame on their friends for doing so) and some of them may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but that is a personal decision that that person has chosen to undertake.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am very, very sad about these deaths, particularly of last night’s with a beautiful girl whose life has ended so prematurely, but people need to understand that we are not bullet proof and we are able to be hurt and hurt easily and it can happen to anyone.  We are made of tissue and muscles and bones, all of which can be easily damaged.  If you lean too far over or are sky larking or whatever the reason which caused you to fall, it is your fault.  Don’t go changing laws because a very, very small number of people, push the boundaries too far.  And yes, Isabelle was only 17, which is still old enough to know better.

I hope her family and friends can move on with their lives quickly. I do not want to know such pain as they are feeling now.  It’s just so sad and a needless death.

It Was The Worst Of Times….

…but it was also the best of times.  The Great Flood of Queensland 2011.

How can anyone possibly say that anything to do with the flooding of Queensland during last summer can be described as being the best of times?  There was so much tragedy.  So much death.  So much destruction.  So many sad stories.

Yet there was also stories of inspiration.  Tales of heroism.  Examples of courage and resilience and bravery.  But most of all there was the famous Queensland spirit which was on show for all the world to see, and see it they did.

The news was dominated by the flooding of regional Queensland in towns such as Emerald, Dalby and Gympie. Unfortunately over the years, the flooding of regional Queensland towns was not a new experience. Weeks of solid rain and a torrential downpour unleashed a flash flood in the elevated town of Toowoomba which ultimately cost 21 people their lives when it went down stream and destroyed the small town of Grantham and others along the way.  The images of this flash flood, caught on the screens of amateur photographers were beamed around the world.  For all the wrong reasons, Queensland was the top news story on the planet.

Who can forget the story and heroism of 13 year old Jordan Rice? Caught in the flash flood with his mother and brother, this young boy, not able to swim, demanded his 10 year old brother be rescued first from the rapidly rising water surge coursing through the centre of Toowoomba.  A few seconds later, he and his mother were both dead after the car they were trapped in was inundated and flipped in the raging waters.  His brother was saved and will grow old knowing his brother gave his life for him.

Jordan became the human face of this tragedy caused by Mother Nature’s fury.

The night before the Grantham tragedy and with the rain continuing to fall, a call went out across the media and social networks for volunteers to help make sandbags at Brisbane City Council sites across the city.  People pulled on their gum boots and headed out in the pouring rain to assist.  Twitter was alive and active and there were people tweeting and retweeting vital information.  The community was in full swing and answering the call.

I was transfixed in front of the TV throughout this disaster which went on for days.  All of the networks had 24 hour coverage of the unfolding tragedy.  It was must watch TV.  Seeing how Queenslanders were reacting to the crisis made it even more the best of times.  The Wally Lewis statue at Suncorp Stadium now equipped with floaties, goggles and a snorkle.  People playing cricket on Coronation Drive, one of Brisbane’s busiest roads, in the middle of the day. Yes the Queensland humour and spirit was on show and it was badly needed.  Australian’s have a great way of laughing at ourselves and not taking life too seriously and it was light entertainment in a dark time.

I was inspired and proud of our rescue services.  They risked their own lives to save strangers.  Time and time again rescue helicopters flew over the fast moving waters in the Lockyer Valley, plucking stranded residents from the roofs of homes and cars.  Swift water rescue teams from the police, fire brigade and SES saved countless lives from raging torrents.  Their actions and selflessness and bravery and humility made me very proud of them.

As Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh delivered a speech capable of bringing a tear to a glass eye it brought us closer as a community.  No matter what your political persuasion was, it was hard not to be moved by her speech.

“As we weep for what we have lost, and as we grieve for family and friends and we confront the challenge that is before us, I want us to remember who we are. We are Queenslanders. We’re the people that they breed tough, north of the border. We’re the ones that they knock down, and we get up again.” Anna Bligh.

After the water receded came the best part of all.  The mud army mobilised.  Volunteers from around the state kicked into action.  Armed with shovels, mops, buckets and a cheery attitude, they got to work and drove into the carnage and began to clean up the mess and sludge and rubbish.

It made me proud to be a Queenslander.

It made us all proud to be a Queenslander.  I suspect that even non Queenslanders, watching from a far wished they were Queenslanders.

Then TC Yasi came to town.  Well not Brisbane town, but our cousins up in North Queensland.  Tropical Cyclone Yasi was a mean bitch.  A category 5 system with winds able to inflict major damage and cause damage she did.

The media that had set up camp in Brisbane for the floods had packed up and headed north to cover the imminent disaster there.  Some brave journalists locked down with locals in community halls as the giant storm powered over head.  They were the first on the scene as a new day dawned, broadcasting images of widespread damage to homes and buildings and crops.

But yet that Queensland spirit wasn’t broken.  Who can forget this sign outside a NQ Hogs Breath Cafe.  This is the Queensland spirit which saw us through this terrible period.

And here we are 12 months later.  The clean up continues.  Homes are still being rebuilt.  We remember those who died and pause and reflect on the sad and tragic loss of life. For those taken before their time.

I hope that people drew inspiration from the Great Flood of 2011.  I hope that when times get tough, that they look back at this time and see the courage of many.  They recall the heroism of people young and old, friends and strangers. That they remember that Queenslanders never give up and no matter the odds, no matter the trials and tribulations before them, that there is a spirit within this state and of course this great country of Australia, which is unbreakable, even in the face of adversity and struggle.

I hope, that like me, others are also remembering how Queensland united 12 months ago.  I hope they also remember that in the midst of disaster, that the worst of times was also the best of times, when that famous Queensland spirit was on display and it is that spirit which is still with us today.

For my post about the Floods as it happened last year, click here.

Mosman Bomb Threat

Australia witnessed live on TV and the internet via Twitter a very unique crime which unfortunately starred a Sydney teenager earlier this week.

A device, originally thought to be a bomb with a ransom letter, was allegedly placed around the neck of an 18 year old school girl, Madeleine Pulver, by a balaclava clad man.  She was told she could call the police but was limited to what she could say to them.

Eventually, some 10 hours later, with the girl’s parents waiting patiently outside while the world looked on, the drama finished in the early hours of the morning when the device was removed from around her neck and the girl was taken to hospital for a check up.  Luckily she was fine, albeit with a bit of a sore neck, and was released the following morning.

During the 10 hour ordeal the girl was reported to be fine and co-operative and was superbly looked after by members of the NSW Police Service.

All’s well that ends well.

Well not quite.  As at time of writing, the perpetrator was still at large with no solid leads and no arrest imminent, according to police.

Whoever he is, I bet right now he must be getting a little bit of cabin fever.

How are those four walls looking?  I just bet they are closing in on you, inch by inch, day by day.  You can’t hide inside forever.

If you are venturing out, when someone looks at you do you think they know who you are?  Can you trust your accomplices if you have any? Are you sure they aren’t right now dobbing you in to police.

Is there anyone you can trust?

You went to a lot of work to carry out this crime.  Surely you had help.  By the sounds of it the device was very well made and made to look like the real thing.  Who helped you?  Can you trust them to keep your identity a secret?

The area of Sydney you committed this crime in is very affluent with many homes boasting CCTV systems.  How many of these homes captured you entering and leaving the street.  Has your type of car been identified and police are now going through records of ownership?  Or was the car stolen and ditched?  How long until the car is found with crucial DNA evidence contained within.

Yet as the days go by and you are not captured, do you start to get a little careless. Do you start boasting about the crime of the century?  After all a lot of criminals commit crimes to be famous.  Do you want to be famous? Do you want to be known as the bloke who picked on a helpless teenager and had the world watching?

You may think you have committed the crime of the century but when you get a whole nation drawn into it and hoping for the best for this young woman, it also means the police are going to throw plenty of resources into finding you, and you will be found.  You’ll let your guard down and pretty soon you’ll see a SWAT team smash down your front door and take you down.

Maybe that is what you want.  After all this isn’t the movies.  We don’t know whether the ransom note asked for money or not but you must realise you were never going to get it, if that is what you were trying to do.

Nope.  Your days are numbered and while you will soon be going to prison, you’re living in a virtual prison now.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.  That’s the sound of your last minutes as a free man.  They’re coming for you and we’ll have a front row seat when it happens.

Where’s the popcorn?

 

Maddie Pulver

Planking

Planking is the new craze sweeping across Australia which sees people lying flat on their stomachs with their arms by their sides pointing their hands and feet.  Usually someone takes a photo and posts it on the social networking sites, such as this Facebook Page which at the time of writing has over 102,000 people who have ‘Liked’ the page.

I gotta admit it when I first saw a story on planking on the Channel 10 news I was laughing out loud at some of the pics they were showing.  The creativity of some of the plankers was great and very inventive. 

Later that day I took a couple of photos of my kids in planking positions.  Here they are.

The Single Plank

 
 

The Double Plank

As you can see, both planks are very safe.

Then someone had to take it to the next level and he fell from a 7th floor balcony and died.  This happened yesterday.  What a tragic way to die.  Apparantly there was alcohol involved.  Planking or not, heights and alcohol and stupidity are never a good mix, let alone trying to lie flat on the narrow ledge of a balcony railing.

There has been outrage since with even the Aussie Prime Minister speaking out against the new ‘sport’. 

Just hang on a second.  There are always going to be a small amount of people who will take activities like this to the extreme but for the vast majority they are going to be safe while doing it.  Let natural selection take care of the others.  If they are that stupid to go to the extreme and put their lives in danger all for a photo then that is their choice.

My kids and I had a laugh on Friday when we took the planking pictures but since the accident yesterday, I have explained that they need to be safe if they decide to do more planking.  

So my advice is plank away but do it safely.  It should be some harmless fun and hopefully the fun police will let it remain that way.

So how about you?  Is planking some harmless fun or do you think it is stupid?  What is the best planking photos you have seen?

 

 

 

An Open Letter to the Australian Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister

This letter is not debating whether there should be a carbon tax or not.  For the record, I don’t think there should be, well not when it will costs Australian tax payers anyway.

What this letter is about, Ms Gillard, is the fact that you have lied to the Australian public.  You made an election promise prior to the 2010 federal election.  You said on August 16 and I quote you, Ms Gillard, “There will be no carbon tax, under a government I lead”.

As history shows, you retained your position as the Prime Minister of Australia.  Note I didn’t say win the election as you didn’t really. I’ve blogged about that previously and you can read that post by clicking on this link.

The deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swann said this during the last election campaign. “No it’s not possible that we are bringing in a carbon tax. That is a hysterically inaccurate claim being made by the coalition”.

Then on February 24, 2011, you announce to the nation that we will indeed have a carbon tax.  You made the announcement with the leader of the Greens by your shoulder.

In the media since yesterday, you have been trying to spin your words and tell Australian’s that it is something that we need. No it’s not a tax it’s now a carbon pricing mechanism.  Whatever the hell that is. Oh yeah, it’s a fancy way of saying “tax”.

What worries me, Ms Gillard is that as a parent, how can I teach my children to be honest and tell the truth when my country’s Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister tell blatant lies?

How dare you, Ms Gillard?  You have proven once again that ordinary Australian’s cannot trust our politicians when they make promises.  You are not the first to lie and unfortunately I am sure you will not be the last politician to lie.  You can spin it as much as you want but you cannot deny you said what you said.  You cannot deny that Mr Swann said what he said.  You have reneged on your election promise and I am sure you gained crucial votes from people who voted for you based on the fact that you said there would be no carbon tax.  What do you have to say to these people, Ms Gillard?

You are a disgrace. You are a liar and you are a fraud. You are not fit to hold the office of the Prime Minister of Australia.  You have brought dishonour to your position and tainted the position of Australian Prime Minister which current and future generations will now be wary of.  How can we ever trust an Australian Prime Minister again?

If you have any morals at all, you will resign immediately and fade away into obscurity. By doing so, perhaps my children will see that when you tell deliberate lies that there are consequences by doing so.  Without you resigning, you are effectively saying that it is ok to lie and be dishonest.

If you don’t resign, the Australian public will remove you from your position at the next election.  Have some honour and go now.

Shame on you, Ms Gillard.  Shame on you indeed.

 

Regards

 

Jack McClane

Father of 2

Australian born and bred citizen.