January 31, 2023

As for the untold debate about when to stop saying “Happy New Year” in the New Year, we may finally have a solution here in good ol’ USA: when the number of people killed in mass shootings in January , surpasses the 60 mark, yes, maybe flee.

In just over three weeks, at least 70 of us have already died from this peculiarly American method of predictable carnage.

The Lunar New Year came with a hail of bullets at a dance hall in California, where 11 people died in the second of the state’s third mass shooting in eight days. The New Year in Alabama brought a significant change to that state’s gun laws — you no longer need a license to carry a concealed gun.

The New Year in Pennsylvania saw Altoona school principals vote unanimously to allow school security officials access to semi-automatic weapons in the event of an extreme emergency and be treated.

Talk about a mass shooting.

Of course no one would dare say that couldn’t happen, not in a country that isn’t content until everyone who can lift a gun has a gun, the deadlier the better. The New Year brought a weapons industry show to Las Vegas that featured an offering from WEE1 Tactical, namely the JR-15, a kid’s version of the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle favored by mass murderers coast to coast.

I just wish I would make that up.

“The JR-15 is a .22 Long Rifle that performs like a modern sporting rifle, but primarily its small size, lightweight, durable polymer construction, and ergonomics are geared towards smaller enthusiasts,” the company says on its website. “Our goal was to build a truly unique shooting platform that a parent or trainer could safely use to teach a younger enthusiast.”

I think it’s safer if parents and coaches are capitalized.

A previous note on the website said that the JR-15 brand was “supposed to be out of action. We think it’s (sic) exciting and will build brand awareness and loyalty.” Better yet, the company said, the kids’ assault weapon “looks, feels and works just like Mom and Dad’s.”

But if that horrifies you, please be advised that things could be worse – at least WEE1 Tactical doesn’t give children’s books! Fortunately, the new year brought new book laws to Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis has begun boxing classroom libraries until books are properly “audited.”

“My heart is broken for the Florida students today as I am forced to pack up my classroom library,” a Manatee County teacher wrote on Facebook this week, while another called the DeSantis initiative “a farce for education,” which disrupted the long-standing strategy of “connecting with books and developing a love for lifelong learning.”

Author Stephen King immediately took to Twitter with some timely advice. “Hey kids! It’s your old pal Steve King telling you that if they ban a book in your school, drag your ass to the nearest library or bookstore asap and find out what you’re not reading must.

Most notably, what DeSantis doesn’t want them to read are books by and about black people, especially when those books are history books that make white people uncomfortable. The higher the learning, the less he likes it, and no one is surprised.

Florida’s DeSantis Department of Education rejected an advanced African-American studies course in the state’s high schools on the dubious basis that it would indoctrinate students to a political agenda.

“As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow,” said Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary.

Oh no. Ambiguous Gaps. Additional ideological material.

The good news is that Florida, with nearly 600 titles already withdrawn, is only behind Texas when it comes to textbook bans, and it has most of the year to catch up.

That’s what we say to schoolchildren at the beginning of the New Year. guns good. books bad.

We tried to give them the safest country in the world because guns make us safe and we have more guns than people. Did not work. Maybe we can give them the dumbest country in the world.


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