The Last Storytime

In Books, Hazelnut, Peanut on May 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm

So it seems quite anti-climactic to follow up my last blog post with anything other than a reaction to the election, but right now I don’t have the time to quite do that topic justice. Suffice to say, a terrible thing happened, and we need to be praying — and working — for the disenfranchised whose suffering has increased, and for the millions of people who don’t seem to care.

In the meantime, though, as hard as it has sometimes been to believe, life goes on. Winter came and went as always. Work continued for Tolkien and I. School proceeded along for Peanut, who’s now finishing the second grade. (Cue shock and awe.) And Hazelnut is now almost three and a half. Over the past few months, it’s been easy to mourn the sometimes disheartening world in which these two will be growing up, so I’ve been making a concerted effort to focus on the positives.

One of those positives is the fact that, since residency ended (which was around the same time we became parents), I have always worked part-time. For almost 8 years, I have had Mondays off, which I spent solely with Peanut until she went to school and which I now spend with Hazelnut. This is a huge blessing for our family, and not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for it. One of my favourite things to do on these Mondays is go to toddler library storytime. (That is, it’s one of MY favourite things to do. The kids, they could take it or leave it.)

I don’t know if I’ve gone into this before, but I love libraries.  Part of it is simply that I love reading, and part of it is that I grew up in a town with an incredible public library. (The first time I took Tolkien there to visit he was openmouthed at the five-floor glass building on top of a hill with a sweeping view of surrounding towns and an in-house coffee bar built long before such things were ubiquitous.) But my love also stems from the fact that I think it’s amazing that society considers it important to provide this service to its citizens. Free books, free classes, free events for children, free computer access … especially now that we’re in a time in this country when everyone seems to want to deny privileges to their neighbours, I realize that even things we’ve always had could be taken away, so I don’t want to take them for granted. Since I was a very young kid, I’ve just been moved by the idea that stepping into a library gives you access to thousands of free books.

So it’s probably no surprise that one of my very favourite things about being a parent has been picking out books for my kids. It’s a huge treat for me to go to the library once every couple of months and spend an hour curating two new stacks of books to enthrall a seven-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy respectively. (Obviously said seven-year-old and three-year-old can’t actually accompany me on this trip or none of this would get done.) I especially love finding books that I read as a child and attempting to brainwash my kids into adoring them too. I’m already sad about the day when both of them are old enough to pick out their own books. Apparently then it’ll creepy if I keep hanging out in the children’s section.

In any case, storytime (which in our system has the politically correct name of “children’s educational programming”) is also part of the library experience for me. I think it’s just lovely that a librarian selects several books to go along with a theme, some titles of which I may not have heard of either. It’s so sweet to see a bunch of babies and toddlers lisping along to the songs that go with that theme. It’s fun to see Hazelnut interact with other kiddos his age, as Peanut did. And I most love snuggling with Hazelnut while he’s still small enough to fit in my lap, as I did with Peanut before she grew like a weed. It’s not like we don’t snuggle at home, but in public he’s maybe 1/8 less rambunctious than he usually is, which if my math is correct translates into 2 more minutes of lap snuggling than I’d get at home, where the temptation to leap off a bed while hollering “To infinity and beyond!” is too great to resist for long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just like every other parent, and the actual listening to books meant for a toddler comprehension level gets boring pretty fast. But the overall idea still makes me warm and fuzzy.


However, I realized recently that Hazelnut is starting preschool this fall. He’ll be gone on Mondays. And Peanut is about to finish school for the summer, which means we won’t be going to toddler storytime (I’m sorry, CHILDREN’S EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING) for the next couple of months because we’ll need to find a Monday activity that engages both of them. So today was my last library storytime. Oh sure, there might be one or two more in the future if there’s a Monday when Hazelnut’s school is cancelled or what have you, but for all intents and purposes, an era is ending here. Eight years of library storytime. Eight years of having a child at home full time. Eight years of raising a baby or toddler. Gone like that.

Someone told me once that every stage of raising kids has its pros and its cons, so Tolkien and I have been trying to enjoy the positives of each stage rather than dread the upcoming negatives or long for the departed good stuff. There are certainly a lot of things that I think will be great about having older and adult children. I will never miss potty training, for example. And if I ever miss being woken up all night long, you can be confident that I’ve suffered a severe head injury. But for today, I’m going to let myself be a little nostalgic about the precious Monday mornings I used to spend listening to picture books and songs with one of my chubby little ones. And I may or may not be making a mental list of story time locations for the grandkids. 🙂

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Running (For President, or Away From It All, Either One)

In Politics on November 4, 2016 at 3:36 pm



Since I’m always long on thoughts but we’re all short on time, I’m going to break this into sections. Feel free to scroll to whichever one applies to you.

If You’re Caucasian

If You’re a Doctor

If You’re a Christian

If You’re Not a Trump Supporter


If You’re Caucasian

If you’re Caucasian and a Trump supporter, you should know that seeing a Trump sign in your yard or a pro-Trump post on your Facebook feed feels like a personal punch in the gut. It hurts, because it means you aren’t bothered by the danger he poses to me and my children of colour. For the first time, I’m frightened of my fellow citizens.

This is a man with a long history of racism. Starting in 1973, he has faced housing lawsuits for openly discriminating against people of colour. He claimed an American judge was unable to perform his job because of his Mexican heritage (because that Mexican heritage would mean the judge would be against Trump. Because of Trump’s racism.) The children of Trump supporters have begun taunting children of colour in schools. (This actually happened to the young son of a friend of mine, whose schoolmates jeered that he’d be deported once Trump became president. He and his parents are U.S. citizens.) Trump did not immediately denounce the endorsement of David Duke. He has been endorsed by the KKK. The white supremacist movement sees him as their saviour. No matter how much you might not want to believe it, all this doesn’t happen unless Trump is doing something racist.

His supporters claim that his 1990s lawsuit against the town of Palm Beach to allow his club Mar-a-Lago to accept blacks and Jews is evidence that he is not racist. Except … that’s not exactly what happened. Unsurprisingly, he benefited financially from their membership. Please, don’t just believe whatever Donald Trump tells you. You know he doesn’t always tell the truth. And he tells you it’s the media’s fault, and incites violence against the press even when they report the truth, so the blame can be shifted from him.

Donald Trump is running on the slogan “Make America Great Again.” Which clearly means he doesn’t think America is all that great at the moment. But when Colin Kaepernick takes a knee to protest America’s current condition, Trump supporters issue death threats. Where is the justice there? Also, when his supporters say “Make America Great Again,” we hear, “Go back to a time when racial discrimination and gender inequality was legal.” Do you see how that sounds? What if we said we wanted to go back to a time or place when whites were oppressed? How would your feelings change then? The idea that Trump should be celebrated because he’s “not politically correct” is dangerous. Political correctness is not bad; it’s kindness and decency. It’s saying that we shouldn’t mock the disabled or make fun of a person’s appearance because as human beings we should have compassion and empathy for others. Why would you want a world where that isn’t valued? Being against political correctness is the first step in going back to normalizing hate.

I’m an independent, not a liberal, and I very much believe in the liberal bias of the mainstream media. (I talk more about this later in this post if you’re interested.) But I have a journalism degree, and I have to tell you: the left has been more honest in their reporting than the right during this election cycle. If you refuse to consume news from any source you consider liberal, you are not being told the whole truth. 

Knowing all this, if you are OK voting for Trump because the prejudice he would usher in against others would not affect you, that is kind of the definition of white supremacy. At least you should know that.


If You’re a Doctor

This is what Trump thinks of us.

Trump doctor quote.PNG

So let me get this straight. Doctors, who have devoted themselves to helping people, who save countless lives, and who have sacrificed years if not decades of time with their own families to care for patients on weekends and holidays and in the middle of the night, don’t deserve to walk on a “very expensive and chic” avenue – but Donald Trump, who has never cared about anything but himself, does? (I don’t actually believe doctors should be zillionaires, but I’m pointing out the hypocrisy here.) Let me also note the absurdity of Donald Trump, who has zero medical training, claiming that he believes his friend’s foot injury should have healed naturally. Oh, so of course the board-certified, residency-trained doctor who operated was wrong, if Donald Trump, MD thought it would have healed on its own. Silly me.


If You’re a Christian

If you’re a Christian and a Trump supporter: I’m astounded that any Christians are supporting Trump. But that being said, I do understand one particular train of reasoning: that Christians no longer have religious freedom (eg. pharmacists are being punished for refusing to stock the morning-after pill, CEOs are being ousted for supporting Christian groups) and that the only way to protect people who are just trying to obey God is to make sure there are more conservative judges on the Supreme Court. The people who follow this line of logic say they will have to hold their noses to vote for Trump, but they will do so because there is a better chance of him nominating a conservative justice than of Clinton doing so. I at least understand this viewpoint, though I don’t agree. (My pet issue is gun control, for which Hillary Clinton and more liberal Supreme Court justices are the only solution. I do agree that that there is no sociolegal protection for Christians, but I don’t think such protection is ever coming our way. That’s kind of what God has always told us, isn’t it? “They will hate you because of me“?) So I can at least see this perspective. What I cannot abide are the Christians who are actively trying to convince themselves and others that Trump is actually a decent choice.

The fact that Wayne Grudem initially wrote an article explaining why Donald Trump was a “moral” choice made me ill, not least because I knew many Christians would take it as gospel. He claimed voting for Trump is the moral choice because Trump is more likely to be tough on abortion. First of all, Trump is not pro-life. He’s an opportunist who’s claiming to be pro-life now to get Christians to vote for him, and they’re falling for it. Secondly, how on earth can fellow Christians determine that abortion is a more pressing issue than racism? We care about the unborn, but not about the suffering of the post-born? How dare a Christian leader imply that the lives of us non-white folk are less important than trying to get Roe vs. Wade overturned? I so appreciate this rebuttal and the fact that Grudem ended up coming to his senses and renouncing Trump. Personally, I feel there is no way I can stand before Jesus one day and tell Him that I voted for a man so evil, no matter to what end.

We know that Trump is not a decent man. He talks about sexually assaulting women, he makes fun of women’s bodies, he criticizes the looks of Carly Fiorina and Heidi Cruz. Why would we reward a person who behaves this way by handing him the Presidency? Philippians 4:8 tells us to focus our thoughts on things that are pure, noble, right, and admirable. By no stretch of the imagination does Trump do this. And it’s not intellectually honest to convince yourselves that “Hillary probably does worse.” No one has ever heard her say things like this, and we have all heard them from him. It’s as simple as that.

We know he is not a Christian. By their fruit we will recognize them. He’s a proud adulterer, he’s had three wives, he cheats those less powerful than him, he repeatedly attacks those around him. More than that, he’s never asked God for forgiveness. I love Max Lucado’s response to a self-proclaimed Christian never having asked for forgiveness: “Can a swimmer say ‘I’ve never gotten wet’?” Compare the version of masculinity displayed by Trump to that displayed by Tim Kaine. Which one of them is the true Christian?

The hypocrisy is astounding. To paraphrase a Daily Kos meme, imagine how Trump’s supporters would bellow if Hillary Clinton showed up on stage with her five children by three different men, was a serial adulterer, had filed for bankruptcy multiple times, rooted for the housing crisis that caused untold suffering for thousands, wouldn’t release her tax returns, admitted to tax evasion, and had no political experience. And was a reality TV performer! Why is all that disgusting history suddenly OK when it comes to Donald Trump? I’ve heard that Donald Trump’s children being relatively normal should reflect well on him. Except he left them, and it was their mother who raised them, so she should get the credit. And by that standard, Chelsea Clinton should reflect well on Hillary. (And I don’t think DJT’s kids ARE all that great. Donald Jr.’s repulsive Tweet comparing refugees to Skittles should give any Christian pause, given what the Bible says about how we are to treat foreigners.)

And how, I ask you, can anyone justify this incredibly disturbing story?

Then there’s the utter cruelty and hypocrisy of blaming Hillary Clinton for her husband’s infidelity, but not holding Donald Trump accountable for his own. Trump supporters, once called out on this, then pivoted to say that Hillary Clinton denigrated the women who accused her husband, so she should be blamed for that. Except that, at the time of the Lewinsky scandal, Hillary believed Bill. Would you expect a wife to embrace people she thought were telling lies about her husband? If that’s the case, why don’t you demand that Melania Trump embrace the exhaustive list of women who have accused her husband of assault? Then there are the people who blame Hillary for staying with Bill. Is that not Biblical Christianity, to stay in a marriage? Yet, if she had left, those very same people would have vilified her for divorcing him.

In the era of Bill Clinton, we Christians argued that character matters. We risk losing all our credibility with non-believers (if it isn’t lost already) when we don’t apply that same standard to Donald Trump. Believe me, you won’t find a Hillary voter who is more appalled by Bill’s behaviour than me. When I was in college, I was a White House intern during the Lewinsky scandal, and I was assigned to the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic investigation. It was very uncomfortable to be a teenage Christian and likely the sole person on that team who believed that Bill Clinton was in the wrong. But I did, and I still do. And because of that, I hold Donald Trump responsible for his actions. I also would not vote for Bill Clinton. But I don’t for a second believe that any wife should be punished for her husband’s behaviour.

Speaking of non-believers: they see us as craven opportunists, aligning ourselves with Donald Trump, someone they can clearly see does not live a Christian life, because he promises us something in return (conservative judges.) So what that tells them is that when it benefits us, character apparently doesn’t matter. Christian support of Donald Trump is doing more damage to American Christianity than a liberal Supreme Court justice ever, ever could.

The same people who believe the Republicans’ constant harping about HRC’s e-mails as evidence of “if there’s smoke there’s fire” should apply that same axiom to this: a list of all the women, including a 13-year-old girl, that Donald Trump is accused of assaulting in one way or another. It is our responsibility as voters to read this and think about it. At the very best, this man has not behaved honorably. At the very worst, he is an unrepentant criminal.

And if you think Hillary Clinton is a criminal because she deleted e-mails and because four people died in Benghazi, you must also be outraged by the fact that George W. Bush lost 22 million e-mails and that thousands died because of his fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Because if you’re not, I’ll know not to take you seriously.

I am voting for Hillary Clinton in this election because I consider it my moral duty to stop Donald Trump, I believe voting for her will be more effective to that end than voting for a third party (but I have no problem with people who choose to do that), and I think she is an intelligent, experienced, hard-working woman who has been totally smeared by the right — but I will never identify as a Democrat. The Democratic Party certainly is not Christian-friendly and it strongly supports abortion. However, the Republican Party, with its pro-gun stance, anti-poverty measures, and white American nationalism, does not at all represent true Christian ideals either. So I’ll always be an independent. However, it’s important to remember that being pro-life is not a reason to vote for Trump. There is so much more to being pro-life than believing abortion is wrong. Being against gun violence; being against cruelty towards minorities; supporting programs for the poor; these are all aspects of being pro-life. Otherwise, we’re not pro-life, we’re just pro-birth. And on these counts, HRC clearly wins. That’s why this article is titled I’m Pro-Life and I’m Voting for Hillary.

On another note, the similarities between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler are so clear to me that it’s terrifying. People who point this out are often accused of making “lazy” arguments. What a convenient way to denigrate an argument that is true! Every time I’ve been in a Holocaust museum, I’ve overheard people wondering aloud if Hitler’s rise could happen here, and smugly concluding that no, it never could. Every time I’ve thought to myself, “Oh yes it could.” After this election season, no American can deny it. This can absolutely happen here. It is happening here. If Donald Trump were Hitler himself, his supporters would not renounce him. What do you think will happen by giving ultimate power to someone with these, and these,  and these similarities to Hitler? No doubt Hitler had some good policy ideas too. Should it not give us the slightest pause that people are turning a blind eye to this?

I always find it funny (in a really sad and depressing way) to imagine what would happen if Donald Trump was running as a Democrat. All of a sudden, the very people who are currently adoring him would be screaming that his lying, cheating, bullying, tax-evading self was totally unsuitable to be president. As an independent, I will tell you that I do not think that the Democratic Party would twist themselves into pretzels to support Trump’s nomination like this. In that way, they have found themselves in the position of having more integrity than Republicans.

Finally, the fact that every living president is against Trump, multiple prominent Republicans are against Trump, and multiple historically Republican newspapers have refused to endorse Trump, does not mean “Trump is his own man who can’t be controlled” or “the establishment doesn’t like an outsider coming in.” How is Trump an outsider? He is a white, wealthy, New York male who is the very essence of an American insider. Think about this: if every one of these people was trying to warn you of impending disaster, how would you prefer they tell you?


If You’re Not a Trump Supporter

One of the most disturbing aspects of the world we live in is the disappearance of truth. There is no longer any truth. People simply choose not to believe whatever facts you present before them. Trump is not a person who stiffs small businesses. He’ll fight for the little guy! Trump didn’t lose the debate. Republican polls say he won! Trump may be unpleasant, but Hillary is just as bad!

For this elimination of truth, I actually place the original blame on the liberal media. My bachelor’s degree is in broadcast journalism, and the liberal bias of the mainstream media has been well-known in the communications field for decades. As a non-liberal, it’s been painful to witness day in and day out. Here’s an example: when the New York Times published an article last month about the Christianization of the Berenstain Bears books, I could predict just by the fact that it was the New York Times that the piece would be negative. I read it, and I was right. Liberal sources never like Christianity. If the source was truly objective, I should not have been able to know that before reading the article.

But when mainstream journalism decided to allow this bias to go unchecked, it was only natural that conservative forces would eventually decide to create their own media. When FOX News came about, Truth was on its deathbed. Now, people simply tune in to the news that fits their worldview, rather than allowing themselves to be educated on what the world actually is. Which means there is no way to get the truth to everyone. I know people, Christians no less, who refuse to believe anything they hear about Trump if it’s reported by a “liberal” source. Even if it’s true! Because truth no longer matters. If the mainstream media had held firm to the cherished journalistic principle of objectivity all along, we would not have needed a right-wing media counterpart, and we would not have Donald Trump, buoyed by millions of deluded supporters, where he is today.

There are many Republicans who have shown true integrity, though – the Bushes, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and many more – and history will treat them kindly. I also want to point out that there are many Christians who have spoken out against Trump from the beginning: Max Lucado, Russell Moore, Joshua Harris, Beth Moore, Jim Wallis, Jimmy Carter, and many more.

In closing, you know how people want Muslims to apologize for ISIS? I feel that exact responsibility as a Christian. So here it is: To non-Christians everywhere, I am so very, very sorry that some of my fellow Christians are supporting Donald Trump.


Here are some additional articles I think are worth a read before the election:

  • Texas Newspaper Destroys Myth that HRC is Lesser of Two Evils

  • Mark Amore’s FB Post on Each of the Lies About Trump and HRC

  • Atlantic Endorsing HRC

  • Theologian Miroslav Volf on Who Christians Should Vote For (mentions that American Christians have been brainwashed)

  • This Election is Challenging My Faith

  • 10 Reasons Why You Can’t be a Christian and Vote for Donald Trump

  • Democrats Raise Money To Rebuild Firebombed GOP Office

  • Mormons Have Put White Evangelicals to Shame

  • HRC is the Best Choice for Voters Against Abortion

  • Pro-Lifers Who Support Donald Trump Are Kidding Themselves

  • This Billionaire Governor Taxed the Rich and His State’s Economy is One of the Best

  • Trump Booted a Black Man From His Rally and He Was a Supporter

  • Trump: Tribune of Poor White People

  • 23 Things Donald Trump Has Said That Would Have Doomed Another Candidate

  • Have We Forgotten the Point of Christianity?

  • How the Heck Can Voters Think Donald Trump is More Honest Than Hillary Clinton?

Gun Rights, Updated

In Politics on June 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm



Five days ago the Orlando massacre occurred. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history (and you know every one of us is thinking, “until the next one.”) There have been over 1,200 mass shootings in the United States since Newtown (which was just in December 2012) alone. Every time this happens, I feel sick and heartbroken. I’m frightened for my loved ones. And although the vast majority of my friends and family are reasonable, intelligent people who recognize the desperate need for gun control in this country, I am still confronted with callous, heartless ignorance spewed forth by gun owners on the Internet in the aftermath of each of these tragedies.

I find this amazing. On nearly every other controversial issue, there are legitimate arguments for the other side. I believe abortion is wrong, but I can understand why people argue for it. I believe everyone is entitled to health care, but I can understand the reasons why barriers exist. In my heart, I don’t believe in capital punishment, but I certainly understand the arguments for the death penalty. But when it comes to gun control, I have never once been presented with a convincing argument for guns. Not once. In my experience, gun owners know this. Therefore, they resort to non sequiturs (“We should just do away with doctors and nurses then, since people die from medical errors”), insults (referring to Moms Demand Action as “Bloomberg’s minions”), self-determined absolutes (“Keeping guns away from the mentally ill might be OK, but further regulation and confiscation is too much.” Says who?) and death threats. Therefore, I’m reposting and updating my post from December 2012 with answers to nearly every anti-gun control argument I’ve encountered, in the effort to compile a comprehensive list to which we can all refer. When it comes to logic, proponents of gun control are clearly in the right. If you have additional arguments and rebuttals to add to this list, please send them to me.

  • Owning firearms is my right. It’s in the Constitution.

Perhaps it is, if you are an American. As a Canadian living in the United States, I can tell you that the idea that any person is entitled to own a lethal weapon seems patently absurd. I mean, you have the specified right to own a gun but not, say, health insurance or a refrigerator, things which are actually useful and much less likely to harm someone? That the government would even comment on this one object is bizarre. So why did they? Because the Founding Fathers intended to allow citizens to protect themselves from tyranny. Nothing else. If you are a gun-rights activist, do you imagine that the government today, in 2016, is coming after you? And if it is, do you actually believe that your personal store of firearms will stop them? It won’t and you know it, so your gun stash is not there to protect you from tyranny. I read somewhere that in the 1700s, it took a full 30 seconds to reload your gun after firing one shot. A mass killing using guns back then was virtually impossible. Do you think for one second that, if the Founding Fathers were alive today, they would stand for the 2nd Amendment being used for massacres — school massacres, at that? If so, you are, frankly, delusional. Because did you know that those same Founding Fathers banned guns at the University of Virginia, the school they founded, and my alma mater?

If you need further evidence, check this out. The Second Amendment clearly states that it is applicable to a militia, not to every Tom Dick and Harry. How convenient that it became twisted to say otherwise once the NRA became involved. And don’t even get me started on assault rifles. Where on earth do we find justification for every random member of the public to own one of those? Why not nuclear bombs or RPGs for everyone then?

We also know that the Founding Fathers were regular human beings who could no more know what society would be like today than we can know what the world will be like in 2350, if we haven’t destroyed ourselves by then. To stubbornly hold to everything they said without considering how they have also been wrong is what children would do, not intelligent adults. We know they got some things wrong, because THERE HAVE BEEN 27 AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION SO FAR. If the Founding Fathers had written in the right to own slaves and the 13th amendment hadn’t passed, would gun owners honestly be fighting for the right to slaves in 2016 just because the Constitution allowed it?

As it is said, “Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” The fact that guns are legal increases the chance that I will be shot while buying groceries. (You can’t argue this. These mass shootings happen far more frequently in this country than in any other. The idea that the media is making this up and getting away with it is a new level of delusion and it costs people their lives.) Therefore my right to life and liberty is less important than your right to pack heat. If you are a gun-rights activist, at least be man enough to admit that.

  • Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer to kill people. I guess we should ban fertilizer, knives and cars too.

Except that fertilizer, knives, cars and anything else you can think of have other, legitimate, useful purposes. The only purpose of a gun is to maim or kill. Guns are far more effective at killing than any other weapon. Admit it, gun owners: that’s why you want them. Additionally, a gun makes it possible to kill many more people, in much less time, than anything else. How many people do you think you could kill with a candlestick before being overpowered? One? A perfect example is the tragic school attack in China just hours before the Newtown massacre. The perpetrator used a knife and had 23 victims. Guess how many died? None.

  • Guns don’t kill, people do.

I love this one. Stop letting people have guns then.

  • Banning guns won’t stop criminals from having them.

Since when is the difficulty in enforcing a law an excuse not to write the law in the first place? Last I noticed, murder is still illegal in the U.S., but it keeps happening. Why don’t we legalize murder then, since people keep committing it? As a pain management physician, I can tell you how incredibly difficult it is to keep people from misusing their medication. Yet we don’t just throw up our hands and say, “You know what? Writing these prescriptions and drug-testing you is a real pain. From now on, you take as much Percocet as you want!”

We create laws because a) they act as a deterrent for, not an eliminator of, criminal behaviour, and b) they give us recourse to punish people when they break them. The fact that marijuana use has skyrocketed in areas where marijuana is legal is proof that when something is legal, it is more common. If guns were illegal except for law enforcement officers, police would be able to confiscate any firearm they came across. Gun producers would be shut down. Any intelligent person can see that simply in terms of sheer numbers, gun prevalence would decrease. With fewer guns, you have fewer shootings. I’m not saying no shootings. I’m saying fewer shootings.

  • I grew up with guns. It’s part of my culture.

That may well be the case. But sometimes cultures need to change. Slavery was once a financially critical part of America’s culture. Open discrimination against the disabled was once a part of our culture. Cannibalism was part of some cultures. But as society evolved, we recognized that these things were wrong and that we had to work to get rid of them. The disgusted reactions of the rest of the world to America’s “gun culture” is both telling and embarrassing.

  • We need guns to protect ourselves.

This conjures up the image of the nice, law-abiding citizen confronting an intruder in their home and thankfully having their trusty gun to protect their sleeping family. Except that’s not how it usually works. Most “self-defense” gun violence is between people who know each other, where the reality of who is defending and who is offending is not at all clear. Of all self-defense handgun homicides in 1997 for example, according to the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report, only 2.3% were ruled justifiable homicides by civilians. Which means the other 97.7% turned out to be just plain homicides. (And that’s not taking into account how often guns in the home are used in suicides or accidental injuries/deaths.) A tragic case earlier this week is a perfect example. This mom spewed the usual party line on Facebook about Democrats wanting to take away her guns and her ability to defend herself. She then used those guns to murder her two daughters in cold blood. She did this on her residential street. Who thinks that if she had used a bat or a knife that she would have been successful at killing both before being stopped?

And if you truly believe that you live in such a dangerous area as to need something with which to defend yourself, why not a Taser? That would incapacitate an intruder but not kill, and therefore could not be intentionally used to kill anyone else either. (And in case anyone is actually about to argue that occasionally people do die from Taser use, I will state the obvious – that the intention of the Taser, unlike a gun, is not to kill.)

  • Banning guns won’t stop violent crime. Crazy people don’t obey laws. 

It’s exactly because crazy people don’t obey laws that we shouldn’t give them the tools to break them. If a murderous person wants to be murderous, why would we not do everything in our power to prevent them from accessing a lethal weapon when it has no other possible use? Yes, they could kill with a car, but they can also drive to and from work in a car. The only thing they can do with a firearm is injure or kill. There is a serious moral failing in being lukewarm about preventing gun sales to the insane because it might infringe on your own gun rights. You are therefore saying it is fine with you that the rest of us are at risk every day.

  • We need better mental health care, not fewer guns.

As a physician, I totally agree with those who are calling for an overhaul of this nation’s mental health system. They are absolutely right. But this is yet another foil that gun-rights activists hide behind. First of all, it’s great to pay lip service to improving mental health care, but those same Congresspeople then vote against increasing mental health funding. In addition, this contributes to the stigma that the mentally ill are violent. Most are not. In fact a mentally ill person is far more likely to be the victim of violence than the instigator. Thirdly,  the United States does not have a higher proportion of mental illness than other developed countries. So mental illness alone cannot account for the nightmare we’re currently living in. Finally,why are the vast majority of mass murderers men? If mental health was the only contributor, the number of female killers should be almost equal.

We certainly do need better mental health care. But it makes no sense to do nothing in the thirty or forty years until that happens (if ever.) And what about all the perfectly sane people who kill using guns? How do we stop them from accessing guns when we have no way of figuring out who they are?

  • Guns are a fun hobby. There’s nothing wrong with hunting.

For those of us who are meat-eaters, we don’t have a problem with hunting. In a more moderate mood, I might be willing to concede that guns, when genuinely used for humane hunting with the goal of obtaining food for consumption or sale, might have a place in modern society. But if the gun lobby is so unwilling to be moderate, then I am too. Your hobby is not more important than human beings’ lives. There’s no way to adequately police whether people are using their guns only for hunting food. I enjoy knitting, but if knitting needles were being used in multiple mass killings of innocent bystanders, then I would gladly give up my hobby if there was a chance that just one fewer person would be killed. Because I’m, you know, a compassionate human being.

  • The solution to gun violence is more guns. If the victims had been armed, this wouldn’t have happened.

If anyone is actually saying this in regards to Newtown, we are not having a discussion with intellectual equals. Do you really think we should put lethal weapons into the hands of kindergartners? And to suggest that teachers should be armed is just laughable. The NRA has shown its simultaneously sociopathic and infantile worldview on this one. What happens when the school bully, or even the class clown, pinches his gym teacher’s pistol(s)? After the Virginia Tech killings (an event that hit close to home for our family, since my father-in-law has worked there for 30 years and my brother- and sister-in-law were freshmen in lockdown on campus that day) many sick gun activists have fought for open carry on college campuses. Why do the people who put forth this argument never acknowledge that human beings are volatile? Especially on a college campus where youth and alcohol use intersect? All it takes is one disagreement, one bad day, one bad grade, one person cutting in front of you in traffic, and your self-control can be weakened. We know that kids have been killed in road rage incidents. Why is this acceptable? For some people, it might take a lot to get them to actually brandish their gun. For others, it might not take much. How the heck would we know who is who? Why should my life depend on 100% self-control from every single person around me (which we all know is impossible to achieve)?

In the case of more recent mass shootings, how on earth do we know the victims weren’t armed? Who honestly thinks that in this gun-loving country, not one single person in the Pulse club that night in Orlando had a firearm? I have no doubt that someone did! But in the dark when there’s shooting, what are you going to do? Shoot back blindly and hope that of all the people you kill, one of them is the gunman?

(Updated to add: We know that the “good guys with guns,” as if there is such a thing, complicate law and order or turn tail and run when faced with gunfire. That’s exactly what happened at the Dallas Black Lives Matter protest when police officers were killed in July 2016. It was impossible to tell who was an attacker and who wasn’t when lots of random people were carrying assault rifles. And by the way, it wasn’t an open-carry proponent who brought down the killer. It was a robot. So the presence of gun owners did not make that situation one bit better. It is so clear, as the police are saying, that more people with guns just creates more confusion and more opportunity for death. I love the quote from the gun lover in this article, though. He claims it’s really simple to tell a good guy from a bad guy, because when the police ask a good guy to put down their gun, they do, but a bad guy will start shooting. OH, SO WE SHOULD GO UP TO A GUN-WIELDING LUNATIC AND ASK HIM HIS INTENTIONS. If we end up dead, he was bad. Simple indeed! How do these people sleep at night, knowing how they’re putting us all at such risk? How intellectually stunted do you have to be to believe these insane rationalizations?)

  • Places with gun control still have shootings. 

But they have fewer of them. Howard Stern said gun control on planes didn’t stop the 9/11 attackers (I have no desire to link to this statement and give him more traffic.) People have said that France’s gun control didn’t stop the Paris attacks. Gun advocates always say such nonsense, conveniently forgetting that the ATTACKS WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH WORSE WITH GUNS. The existence of gun control means that there are countless attacks that have never occurred. How many hijackings of American planes have occurred since 9/11? Zero. How many gun deaths are there in France? 0.06 per 100,000 people, compared to 3.2 per 100,000 in the United States (and that’s an old statistic.) We can thank gun control for both of these.

  • We need guns to protect us from Islamic terrorists. All this gun violence is because of them.

So many things wrong with this statement. First of all, gun advocates are cravenly using the ISIS connections of the San Bernardino and Orlando tragedies for their own purposes again: to obscure the real issue of gun control. Islamic terrorists are on a suicide mission. THEY DO NOT CARE IF THEY DIE. What difference would anyone else’s gun make to them?

Secondly, what about all the other mass shootings we’ve endured? Columbine, Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Oregon. None of those shooters had anything to do with ISIS. What excuse do you have there, gun lovers?

Thirdly, if you believe this, why on earth wouldn’t you want to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons? Yet one of the reasons the Democrats filibustered this week was to force a vote on preventing terror suspects from legally buying guns – something Republicans have actually opposed.

  • In the same way banning all Muslims would hurt law-abiding Muslims, banning all guns would hurt law-abiding gun owners.

In my opinion, it’s pretty insulting to equate the “hurt” of giving up a possession to the same hurt a Muslim feels when they’re the target of a hate crime or deportation. Not being willing to give up an object in pursuit of the greater good – saving countless lives – is indefensible. To see gun control as punishing gun owners, instead of as protecting innocent lives, is a truly self-centred worldview.

  • I don’t like government regulation. 

Then why do we regulate Sudafed sales? Why are Kinder eggs illegal? Why do we all take our shoes off at the airport and limit our on-board fluids to 3 ounces? In a civilized society that values the safety of its members, regulation is imperative. What does it say about this country that guns are legal and Kinder eggs are not?

  • Requiring all guns to be registered will give Donald Trump or another future dictator an easy way to identify and disarm citizens who could oppose them.

When I first heard this argument, I was dumbfounded. Then I realized that being a gun advocate must actually be more terrifying on a day-to-day basis than being a gun opponent. I’m frightened that my loved ones or I will be the victims of gun violence in a public place. But they are frightened that, at any moment, criminals will storm their houses and kill their families, or that the government will be taking them hostage any day now. It must be truly exhausting. Here’s the thing, though: this scenario is a remote possibility. The massacre of thousands of people, some of them kindergartners, is our current reality. It is fundamentally selfish and delusional to refuse to do what we can to change our bad reality because of the fear of an unlikely possibility. In addition, it doesn’t make sense. Don’t we currently register our cars? Aren’t the deeds to our homes public record? Couldn’t the government just as easily seize those? If the American government really became a dictatorship, does anyone believe their personal weapons would outmatch the government’s?

  • We don’t know if changing gun laws will actually do anything.

And that’s a reason to not even try? But the truth is, we actually do know. There was another New Town mass shooting once, in New Town, Australia in 1996. 12 days later, gun control laws were put into place. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since. By now we have all seen the statistics: every other industrialized country in the world has strict gun laws and nowhere near the gun violence the U.S. does. This New York Times article takes a succinct look.

  • The NRA isn’t evil.

Ah, I beg to differ. I truly believe these people should be prosecuted for mass homicide. Much like the tobacco industry in the 1960s, they have brainwashed the American public into thinking that what they’re peddling is great. And why do they do it? For profits. As ill as it makes me to type this, mass shootings mean mass profits. The deaths of human beings makes money for gun manufacturers, and naturally we can expect that kickbacks go to their tireless supporter, the NRA. Any group that is against background checks, that is against closing the gun show loophole, that would try to hold a rally in Newtown, Connecticut on the anniversary of that tragedy, is evil. Many people don’t know that the NRA also fights to prevent the CDC from conducting research into gun violence, and they fight to prevent doctors from discussing gun safety with their patients. What utter hypocrites! They believe in the Second Amendment, but not the First Amendment (the right to free speech)?

What unique kind of evil is required to behave in this way? If they’re so sure that guns don’t kill, why are they afraid of research into it? Why do they want to stop physicians from preventing the deaths of their patients? Because they want to continue brainwashing Americans into thinking guns are wonderful, and because they want to continue profiting from the deaths of those same Americans. Their desire for death is the only explanation for mind-boggling bills like the one in Iowa allowing children of all ages to own guns. Because the amount of tragedy we have already isn’t enough??? We should all be outraged. Non-insane gun owners should stand up and renounce this organization. Because if they don’t, they are morally culpable too. We’ll all have to account for our actions before God one day, and supporting the NRA will have no excuse.

  • It’s hopeless to stop gun sales, because America has so many guns out there already.

First of all, nothing is hopeless. The gun lobby wants reasonable citizens to believe exactly that — that it’s hopeless — so that we’ll shut up. But it’s not true. First of all, popular culture can change. Eliminating slavery and beating Hitler probably seemed hopeless too, at the time, but they both happened. In this case, one possible solution would be a widespread government buyback program, something that has been used successfully in other countries. I have no doubt that there are many people whose supposedly undying devotion to their Constitution (despite the fact that they probably can’t tell you anything else about it) will evaporate in the face of easy cash. In addition, if law enforcement was given authority to seize weapons, that would eliminate many of them as well. There are many gun lovers who claim that people will engage in shootouts with the police rather than give up their guns. That only bolsters my concern that gun advocates must be selfish, amoral individuals who believe their possessions are more important than others’ lives.

  • I believe in guns because I’m a Christian.

It is alternately fascinating and sickening to see how American Christianity has gotten mixed up with guns. That some people could consider guns justifiable from a Christian perspective is hideous. What does it say when a “Christian” belief exists only in your country? Why is it that this “Christian” perspective is not the same for Christians of any other nationality? Do any of us honestly believe that the loving God who knit every one of us together in our mothers’ wombs is pro-gun? In addition, how on earth can you be anti-abortion but pro-2nd Amendment? You care about an unborn child but not the children we already have with us? I am anti-gun because I am pro-life. The pre-born are important, but the post-born must be at least equally so. Who could possibly think that fetuses are worth fighting for but toddlers who accidentally shoot themselves are not? I’m glad that Pope Francis has spoken out about guns and Christianity, and I pray that other church leaders will wake up and do the same.

I appreciate this Christian author’s perspective, and I want to quote him because he gets it exactly right: “Would I be willing to give up my guns in northern Wisconsin if it would save a life in downtown Chicago? Yes. If it came to it. A thousand times over.” If there is any chance that limiting guns would decrease deaths — and there is no way you can claim that it wouldn’t save at least some lives — then any human being with a shred of decency should be supporting gun control. What it comes down to is, do you love your neighbour more than you love your rights? Your possessions? Did Christ not say that loving your neighbour was second only to loving God as the most important commandment? Cheering for guns that will only injure or kill your fellow man is the very opposite of love.

The simple fact of the matter is that America’s gun culture puts all of us at risk. I am at risk, you are at risk, our precious children are at risk of being slaughtered every single day because anyone around us may have a gun and could snap. Gun activists, how long will you put your heads in the sand? Does this not matter to you? Will it only matter to you if your own child is murdered by a madman? Will it even change your mind then? Understand this — if you support guns, you are saying you are OK with the murder of others. Gun ownership is unequivocally selfish. If there is ANY chance that eliminating guns could decrease the number of homicides in this country, you should be supporting gun control. And if your reaction to every gun tragedy is not wondering how to stop this from continuing to happen, but wondering how to make sure your gun rights aren’t affected, you are, quite frankly, a bad person. There’s no other way to say it. You are a bad person and you will have to answer to God for it. This New Yorker article says it well: that people who argue against gun control have made a clear moral choice, that the comfort they derive from carrying a weapon is more important than the safety of innocent children.

I feel like I live in a society that couldn’t care less about the safety of my children or theirs, because if they did, they would act on the one thing they could control: guns. We can’t control the prevalence of hate. We can’t control the prevalence of mental illness (although we could improve our care for those people, not that that’s happening either.) We can’t control the absence of self-control. These things have existed in every society since the beginning of time. But widely available guns don’t exist in every society. They don’t exist in any other society like they do in this one, actually. And that tells me that our lives are worthless to this society’s gun advocates, my fellow citizens. It makes me sick to my stomach. Many gun supporters (eg. the NRA) benefit financially from pushing guns. But gun control proponents gain no monetary profit from limiting guns, and instead endure incredible abuse from the other side. The reason we still feel so strongly about this because we feel so strongly about our fellow humans’ lives. Isn’t that how anyone would feel … that is, if they were a decent human being?