Guns Don’t Kill People, the National Rifle Association Does
A Dude Abikes does not live in a vacuum. That would be weird, dark and gross and would literally suck. OK, that’s a bad pun about a literal vacuum. I don’t watch much TV news, but the heartbreaking information that 15 kids and two teachers were shot to death on Valentine’s Day by a former student at a high school in southern Florida still made it to me. There’s not alot I can add to the debate over guns. So I will do my thing and write about my day using a bike trainer. But I do so with a heavy heart and deep awareness that perspective is key and believe that attention must be paid to this national disgrace. There’s an epidemic of car violence that kills cyclists and pedestrians, too. But it’s not as sexy when only one person dies at a time.
Someone recently advised me to not write about politics, I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t like mine or what. But I say that’s BS, because the gun issue is important. While “you may not care about politics, politics cares about you,” to paraphrase the French philosopher Voltaire.
If you’re wondering why this is relevant, well, the first mass school shooting in the United States of America happened right here in Austin, Texas. On August 1, 1966, a guy with a tumor in his brain climbed to the top of the University of Texas tower and for 96 minutes of terror, rained death down on the campus with a rifle. Guess how many Charles Whitman killed? Coincidentally, 17.
Guns Take Lives, But You Can Die on Your Bike, Too
The last few days I have been reminded that guns do exist in the country, mostly for predatory animals, sport and hunting. That does nothing to change my opinion that semi-automatic assault rifles have no place in this or any country, and are not protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. That’s because the clause everyone forgets, “…in a well-regulated militia.” We don’t have those, so no guns. Yes, the first thing Nazis did was outlaw guns. Somewhere between daily mass murder and fascism, we should be able to figure something out. Or just get used to your kids maybe being killed every time they go to school.
Other people closer to the story have much more to offer on this: One is The Militant Negro, a new follower to my blog (thanks!) and a really smart writer about social justice. He has posted a bunch of things about the shooting, and re-blogged a post I thought made many good points by Secular Jurist called “Yesterday’s School Massacre in Florida Raises the Question of America’s National Sanity.” I am moved to show the faces and list the names of victims according to CNN:
- Alyssa Alhadeff, aged 14
- Scott Beigel, aged 35
- Martin Duque, aged 14
- Nicholas Dworet, aged 17
- Aaron Feis, aged 37
- Jaime Guttenberg, aged 14
- Chris Hixon, aged 49
- Luke Hoyer, aged 15
- Cara Loughran, aged 14
- Gina Montalto, aged 14
- Joaquin Oliver, aged 17
- Alaina Petty, aged 14
- Meadow Pollack, aged 18
- Helena Ramsay, aged 17
- Alex Schachter, aged 14
- Carmen Schentrup, aged 16
- Peter Wang, aged 15
As I read this list, I see something: Jewish names. European names. An Asian name. An Arabic name. A Latino name. The point is that death comes as the end for us all. None of us get out alive. But for any person to be killed at so young an age, well, this is so common an occurrence in the US now that we are all numb to it. Maybe this time something will change, parents, teachers, administrators, students will stand up and speak truth to power. One teacher called for all teachers to do a national walk-out or strike on May 1, aka May Day, which is International Workers Day in every country except the US. But don’t count on that happening or changing anything. The National Rifle Association and its defenders are very well-funded, not to mention well-armed.
My First Hour-Long Bike Ride on the Home Trainer
The reason I rode on the trainer is because the road nearby is very hilly, has a lot of hairpin turns, and has no shoulder. People ride bikes on it fairly regularly, but I’m pretty concerned about being run over by cars or motorcycles. A very fast rider who lives nearby won’t do it by herself. There’s no comparison to a school shooting in terms of an epidemic, but bicyclists do die because of cars every day. So a home trainer is very safe in that regard. The worst that might happen is it comes out of the stand or the front wheel falls off the books you put there, and you could fall over.
I previously rode the trainer for half an hour, but today, after four days of only walks and yoga, I decided I was sick of my excuse of being too tired to ride. So I set up the heavy metal red inverted v-shaped rack and went for it. A big help was watching an episode of Once Upon a Time, the ABC TV show about fairy tale characters living both in their time and in the modern world. Like the idea of outlawing or at least registering and having background checks for every assault rifle, the show is a fantasy. There aren’t any school shootings or bikes on it. But whatever it takes to motivate me to exercise.
Trainers Have Their Place, Murderers Do Too (Prison)
The lesson for you if you bike is that a home trainer is a good option sometimes, especially if you’re in a place where riding is not safe, you’re not feeling up to it, or the weather is too cold, windy or wet. If you’re like me, you’re probably going to need a distraction, just like a stationary bike at the gym. Music, a TV show, and maybe even a book if you can set it up will work. There are newer, internet compatible trainers, and some are very expensive. As a supplement to riding on the road, they are a great thing to have around.
Have you used a home trainer? What has your experience been?
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