The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 3

The Right to Bear Arm = Politics = Money

Money and Politics are not so strange bedfellows. In fact, money is the lifeblood of politics going back to the time of the Caesars and before.

You have, of course, heard of the term “bread and circuses.” In ancient Rome the votes of the plebeians were openly purchased by offering food, drink and entertainment. Julius Caesar was a “man of the people” and spent lavishly on purchasing their votes.

Want to run for Congress today? Prepare to have to raise and spend more than one and a half million dollars. For the Senate? More than ten million dollars.

Why is it so costly? Competition.

Each candidate wants to accomplish something and runs against others who want to do the same thing, the opposite thing or something in between. And thinks that he, or she, is the best person for the job.

And, of course, they want the benefits, power and prestige that go with the job.

But how does one get the money that running for office entails? Why you ask people and organizations, including corporate entities, to donate to your campaign.

Why would these people and organizations donate to your campaign? They would donate to you because they believe that you support their agendas or that you will at least listen to their concerns and possibly change your current views to something more in keeping with what they desire.

They are not going to contribute to you if you oppose their agenda and show no signs of being persuadable.

You aren’t going to spend money in a market for food that tastes bad to you.

People and organizations are not going to donate money to candidates who tend to speak and vote contrary to what the organization wants.

You expect your investment banker to listen to your desires and accomplish your goals. If he doesn’t, you stop paying him and find someone else.

If a candidate, or officeholder, does not listen to or vote for the items on the agendas of the people who donate to him, he loses their support and donations.

The people and organizations that donate to political candidates and officeholders believe, or, at least to me, seem to believe that they have purchased the candidate or officeholder — or, at least, their votes.

Do you donate to political candidates or to their parties? Do you continue to donate to them if they vote against, or refuse to vote in favor of, the things you believe in?

How much do you donate? A dollar or two on your federal tax return? Ten dollars? A hundred dollars? A thousand dollars? Enough money so that the candidate you donate to actually knows who you are and what your beliefs are?

Hmmmm . . .

Well, maybe I’ve got news for you.

The National Rifle Association contributes millions of dollars to candidates running for the United States Congress and Senate.

Do you think the NRA spends this kind of money on candidates who favor gun control?

Do you think the NRA fails to make its position clear to those on whom it spends its money?

Do you think that the candidates who accept money from the NRA, and like minded organizations, are unaware that if they vote for gun control legislation that the NRA will withdraw their monetary support from that candidate (or officeholder) and will instead spend that money on a rival candidate?

U S Commentary Flag Casualty List
Thoughts and Prayers are NOT Enough

Purchasing Power of the NRA — the spending of money to buy the support and votes of candidates and officeholders who oppose gun control legislation and their attempts to defeat and vilify those who seek stricter gun control laws.



Now, you may believe me to be a cynic (which I am) and you may believe that my beliefs as expressed above are nonsense, or at least carried too far.

I, however, believe myself to be a realist. Human nature has not changed in the two millennia since Julius Caesar rose to dominance in the plutocracy that was ancient Rome.

Rome was never a democracy or republic as we were raised to understand the terms. It was a plutocracy, and a militarized one at that, dominated by wealthy families of the patrician class; the plebeians had almost no political say and what they had was virtually limited to lip service.

Today, except in name, we live in a related type of plutocracy. We elect to office professional politicians who, once elected, may never again hold what most of us think to be a real job. (When they retire, they get jobs with the industries they regulated while in office. Think they voted against industry wishes?) They also vote on their own salaries, medical benefits and retirement packages and often exempt themselves from regulations and laws that apply to the rest of us.

Hmmmm . . . maybe we should call them politricians? But, I digress . . .

The NRA is spending, and has spent, millions of dollars on politicians who support its views:

In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump—and another $19,756,346 to oppose Hillary Clinton. That’s over $31 million spent on one presidential race.

Lifetime donations

The following numbers come from the New York Times:

John McCain — $7,740,521

Richard Burr — $6,986,620

Roy Blount — $4,551,146

Thom Tillis — $4,418,012

Gary Gardner — $3,879,064

Marco Rubio — $3,303,355

Joni Ernst — $3,124,273

Rob Portman — $3,061,941

Todd Young — $2,896,732

Bill Cassidy — $2,861,047

French Hill — $1,089,477

Ken Buck — $800,544

David Young — $707,662

Mike Simpson — $385,731

Greg Gianforte — $344,630

Don Young — $245,720

Lloyd Smucker — $221,736

Bruce Poliquin — $201,389

Pete Sessions — $158,111

Barbara Comstock — $137,232

Bought and Sold

If you believe that these people, and others supported by the NRA and like organizations and individuals, are going to enact meaningful reform related to firearms, you have a great deal more faith in the goodness of human nature than my sixty-eight years have given me.

Politicians are bought and sold. They vote in the interests of the money that bought and paid for them — maybe, with the exception of short-lived politicians like Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith. But that was fiction wasn’t it?

We aren’t going to get meaningful reform related to firearms until we elect politicians who will support that reform and that takes money. Those of you who want reform are going to have to reach into your pocketbooks and wallets and write checks to buy, er . . . elect, politicians who will vote to enact that reform.

Otherwise, we’ll just keep on moaning and whining as mass shootings keep occurring and our children keep dying.

Do It!

Contribute to the campaigns of those who will vote for reform.

Vote for reform candidates.

Make your views known to those who hold political office.

Remember, you are the instrument of change. Someone else is not going to do it for you.

Gun laws around the world


The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 2

Arms — AR-15

In response to a Facebook post by a friend of mine involving the AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle I looked up the price of such a weapon.

The closest place I know of to purchase firearms and ammunition is a Turner’s Outdoorsman store about a mile and a half from my house. I looked at their online site and found this: ATI Milsport AR-15 5.56MM Keymod / 16″ Barrel Burnt Bronze w/10 round mag = $549.99.

Including local sales tax that brings the price of the weapon to $598.11 — without ammunition — so let’s say $600 for the rifle.

A 20 round box of ammunition could cost as little as $9.99 + tax or about 50¢ per bullet.

So, for about $710 you could get a semi-automatic AR-15 and 200 rounds of ammunition.

Additional 10 round magazines sell for $14.99.

By my calculations that gives a person an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, 200 rounds of ammunition, and a sufficient number of ammunition clips to hold said ammunition for under $1,100.

And that person only needs to be 18 years old.

To own and drive an automobile a person needs to:

  • Have a driver’s license, having first passed both written and practical tests;
  • The car must be registered;
  • The car must be insured.

To own and shoot a rifle a person needs to:

  • Pass a written and practical test to have and use a rifle?
  • Register the rifle?
  • Have insurance for the rifle?

Remember the statement: guns don’t kill people; people kill people?

If this is true, why do we equip our soldiers with guns? Why don’t we, and other nations, just send the soldiers? Why equip soldiers with expensive weapons when people kill people not guns?

Could it be that nations and soldiers are not blinded by political rhetoric; that they realize the reality of the situation — that guns kill people, lots and lots of people.

Final thought: after the initial cost, what is a life worth? About 50¢ — now that’s purchasing power.

The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 1


When this nation was founded in the late Eighteenth Century the predominant weapon used by an infantryman was a flintlock musket. A proficient musketeer could load and fire his weapon two or, maybe, three times in a minute. The weapon had an effective range of about 100 yards.

The American Long Rifle (Kentucky rifle, Pennsylvania rifle) was accurate — could hit a man-sized target — at a range of 200-250 yards, but was slower to reload than the musket. The slower reloading times were due to tighter tolerances required for the bullet to make use of the rifling — spiral grooves which caused the bullet/ball to spin and thus increasing its accuracy.

Pistols were also single-shot weapons requiring similar load times of the era’s muskets and rifles — the six-shooter weapons of our Western movies had not yet made an appearance on the scene.

These were the weapons in use when our “founding fathers” wrote and adopted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (including the 2nd Amendment).

There were no semi-automatic or automatic pistols and rifles capable of firing several rounds a second or hundreds of rounds a minute. And yet, deaths in battles and wars still reached into the hundreds and thousands.

These were still the basic weapons used during the American Civil War of the 1860s. The opposing armies were each made up of tens of thousands of men and boys — and casualties in a single day “often” exceeded 10,000.

It seems to me that most of the mass-shootings in the US over the last several years have occurred at close ranges; i.e., at distances of less than 50-100 yards. The shootings at schools such as Sandy Hook Elementary and Douglas High School occurred at ranges of less than 50 yards. Thus, it is not the weapon’s accuracy but its rate of fire that is important.


A large infantry platoon might contain 50 men. In the late 1700s such a group of soldiers might fire their muskets a combined 100 to 150 times in a single minute. Today, a single individual, using an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle can fire a like number times per minute — limited only by the strength of his trigger finger and the time it takes him to reload (change ammunition clips).

How might Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton and Madison and other “founding fathers” have written the 2nd Amendment to the U. S. Constitution had the weapons of today been in existence in the 1790s?


Perhaps, just perhaps, we should visit that question again.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the 2nd Amendment should be repealed and another, better suited to the weapons of today, adopted in its place.

And perhaps, just perhaps, Mr. Trump is more right than he realizes; perhaps we need to examine the mental health of our entire society. A society which places the “right to bear arms” above the lives of its children.



Gifts for the Teacher

Teachers occasionally receive gifts from students and/or their parents. Some are useful; some are just bizarre. A coffee cup (of which I received several dozen over the decades) is useful; a scented candle — just bizarre (at least, for me).

I still have a number of unused Starbucks cards — which I keep in my car, just in case.

A friend of mine teaches elementary school in a nearby district and receives many such gifts each year.

This last Christmas one of her young ladies, Sara, brought her a basket of organic fruit — her father manages the produce section of a local market.

Timmy’s father owns a florist shop and he brought a marvelous bouquet of white roses and red carnations.

Sean, whose father and mother own and operate a wine bar frequented by my friend and her colleagues on “in-service” days, brought her a rather large and heavy box.

My friend lifted it up and noticed that it was leaking a little bit. She touched a drop of the liquid with her finger and tasted it. “Is it wine?” she guessed.

“No,” Sean replied.

She tasted another drop and asked, “Champagne?”

“No,” said Sean . . .



“It’s a puppy!”




Yesterday I was at Costco buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Donald-John, the Wonder Dog. I was stuck in a rather slow check-out line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had an elephant?

The Purina Diet

Now, I’m retired with a lot of time on my hands and few outlets for my sense of humor. A sense of humor my students thought was rather “wicked,” especially when an administrator walked into my classroom while I was telling stories. I was a History teacher, after all.

So, on impulse, I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn’t, because I ended up in the hospital last time. On the positive side, however, I’d lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and the way that it works is, to load your pants pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete, certified, so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care, because the dog food poisoned me. “No,” I said. “I stopped to pee on a fire hydrant and a car hit me.”

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Costco won’t let me shop there anymore. Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

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Sun Bath