Gunipulation: Kids, Patriotism and Profits

Kid with Gun

Not sure how many people were able to watch HBO’s Real Sports last night, but there was an eye opening segment regarding kids and guns that was truly shocking.  The main focus was on how the gun industry has placed its focus on marketing guns to children.  This is not a typo or a misprint but, reality, and that reality is a result of the fact that we have become a nation of greedy corporations and their leaders.

I want to start out by saying I am a 5 year Veteran of the US Army and about two years of that was spent as an armorer handling weapons on nearly a daily basis.  And, trust me; I felt leery of handing out machine guns to many of the adults in my unit let alone to kids.  Also, I am not trying to say that no one should own a gun.  What I am saying is many people in this nation have been wrapped up into believing in something that is little more than hype, and in the process have become blind to reality.  Trust me the gestapo is not coming for your guns…maybe your porn…but not your guns.

The main purpose of this Real Sports segment shows how the gun industry and its lobbyists are affecting laws in our states by lowering the age for hunting in many states, so more and younger children can hunt and justify owning a gun.  I think the big picture may be even more frightening though. After all, those gun makers and lobbyist sure are great supporters of our rights aren’t they?

In reality, they are nothing but marketing machines that have many Americans blindly following them.  The marketing genius is actually two fold!  They get parents to buy their kids cute little target style guns, and then, if the kids like it, they have customers for life.  The gun industry also uses the Second Amendment and phrases about “my cold dead hands” to get us to believe, they are on our side in some sinister plot by the government and other assorted boogiemen to confiscate weapons.  The reality is they are just like any other corporate entity in the world these days.  They are after profits and shareholder approval. At the end of the day, they are only interested in their bank accounts, actually, your bank account and extracting as much out of it as possible.

In making this move to arm the youth of the Unites States, are our children safer in their schools?  Are we safer as a nation?  Have public shootings gone down?  The gun industry will claim that the kids with these guns are trained and responsible.  Children usually are pretty responsible when they are being watched, but what about when they are not?  As we have seen too many times recently, much like an unsupervised gun industry, an unsupervised, armed child or teenager is going to do whatever the hell he wants.

Sleep well tonight…I know I won’t.

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Killer Coupons

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It has been going on since we were little kids. The Sunday paper comes with a wide array of coupons that are gathered and taken to the store to purchase all the things we need. Those manufacturers are so nice to discount their products, and the grocery stores even nicer to double and at times even triple the “value” of those coupons. There are coupon flyers, coupon websites and even coupon clubs, where you can meet other couponistas. In these coupon clubs, coupons are traded and strategies are devised to get the best deals by using the right coupon at the right store. It seems like a lot, and many people want nothing to do with it. But, there are people that are out there saving hundreds of dollars a week by couponing!

But to what end? Sure there are some good coupons for toilet paper and paper towels, but the majority is for the processed foods that are found in those middle aisles of your grocery store! Not on the outside walls where the meats and veggies and milk are. Most of the savings found on those coupons are for the foods many doctors and scientists are telling us to quit or cut back on. These items are filled with preservatives and chemicals you cannot pronounce without a PhD! Yet, these are the items that we can get with coupons. What a great thing these manufacturers are doing by discounting the worst foods for us in the store!

Then, we look at the grocery store itself doubling and tripling the coupons. How much are we getting over charged to begin with if a product can suddenly be discounted by 3? And, again, we are getting a great deal on the worst foods for our health. Where are the triple coupons on the organic greens or the natural products? Nowhere to be seen!

We all want to save a buck, but at what cost to our health? Frozen dinners are fast, but take a look at the amount of sodium in even the “Healthy” choice. If these coupons only listed the chemicals that are in the foods, would you still use that coupon?

Locker Room Love? Highly Doubtful!

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We keep hearing from the Sports media that there are already gay men in pro football that just have not come out. But, now that Michael Sam has come out prior to the draft, teams may not be accepting of him and his “baggage”. This just does not make any sense to me. How would a teammate feel any different if he suspects or if he knows for certain? We hear that they will be uncomfortable in the shower, yet aren’t these “suspects” in the shower now? Perhaps, the mystery just makes it a bit more exciting?

People often throw around the similarities between the military and pro football. Players say they are going to battle and call themselves soldiers. Often, resulting in media backlash, because there really is a big difference between the game of football and the life of a soldier. I spent five years in the U.S Army. Before getting married, about three of those years were spent living in close proximity to lots of other male soldiers. In using the term “close proximity”, I mean living together in barracks and in tents; and in woods and on trucks and even in airplanes that you would shortly jump out of at very low altitude. I was lucky due to timing, but most that I served with spent time on the battlefields of Iraq in even closer and worse conditions.

Maybe it is just me, but this seems like a bit more of a drastic embedding than any pro football player will ever feel as part of his team. In every Army unit I was assigned, there were gay men and women. These were not medical units. These were Communication units and Airborne Communication units. These were units that spent 45 days in the woods training several times a year and could be deployed overseas at a moment’s notice. These were units filled with people of every walk of life, and I do not remember once in five years hearing about issues between the gay and straight soldiers. This was the “Don’t ask don’t tell” era. So, no one was actually coming out, but living in close quarters like this, there was not a lot of hiding it either. I am not stupid or blind, and I am certain there was and still is plenty of discrimination in the military. I can only speak from my experiences. When you realize your life may be put on the line, you care a lot less about what someone does in the privacy of their own room or home.

I truly hope that once the media is done beating this dead horse of a story that it just blows over and Michael Sam gets drafted, at the same slot he would have before coming out. And, his NFL teammates accept him as his college teammates did. Even better yet, maybe his partner will end up being in the military! And, this would be the last time we have to talk about this “baggage”. ‘Cause like some old blue eyed crooner once said regarding gays in the military “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere!” that is what he was talking about, right?

Good Luck, Sam!