How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

The Democratic debates were civil but short on solutions

Two issues that got considerable attention in the Democratic debates were gun safety and what to do about migrant children held at the border. In both cases, the candidates were too cautious and didn’t break any new ground.

Gun Control:

In the first debate Moderator Chuck Todd posed a question to Elizabeth Warren on gun control: “What do you do about the hundreds of millions of guns already out there, and does the federal government have to play a role in dealing with them?” Guns claimed nearly forty thousand lives last year. Studies have found that there are three hundred and ninety-three million civil-owned guns in the US (120.5 guns for every hundred residents).

Elizabeth Warren, who has been getting plaudits left and right, even on Fox, for having a plan for everything, didn’t break any new ground in her answer to the question. According to Michael Luo in The New Yorker, Warren “was unwilling, even after Todd probed her a second time to raise the possibility of policies like the mandatory gun-buyback program that Australia under took two decades ago.” Warren’s response was according Luo tepid —“’Gun violence is a national health emergency in this country, and we need to treat it like that”— and talked about the need to “double down on research,” an allusion to how the N.R.A. succeeded, during the mid-nineteen-nineties, in effectively cutting off federal funding for gun violence research.”’

Various other candidates offered responses ranging from gun registration, gun buy back, ban the sale of assault weapons, educate about the mental health impact on children who have to partake in school safety drills and research on gun violence etc. The cautious answers suggest that gun control is seen as a political fraught issue.

Not surprisingly, none of the candidates advocated for the confiscation of legally purchased guns, be it hand guns, hunting rifles or even military- type assault weapons. Clearly, having law enforcement knocking on doors to confiscate legally held semi-automatic rifles would be considered a violation of the 2nd amendment, but also it would be highly impractical to carry out.

However, banning the sale of semi-automatic style rifles and bump stocks is necessary in order to reduce the number of these weapons which have caused us harm. These weapons only belong in the hands of the military and law enforcement. There is absolutely no reason at all why one’s neighbor should have an assault rifle.

Even better would be a ban on the manufacture and sale to the public of the bullets used in semi-automatic rifles. This would severely hinder the use of these rifles and reduce the deaths from mass shooting. Sure, there will be criminals, people motivated by hate or mentally unhinged who will find a way to obtain whatever bullets are still out there, but the stockpile will be slowly reduced and death and injuries caused by semi-auto rifles dramatically lessened.

This is common sense gun control. Keep your semi-automatic rifle. Too bad it cannot be loaded. The fact that none of the candidates took this position is very surprising.

Children held at the border:

The devastating photo of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his two year old daughter, Valeria, who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande and the sorrowful story and facts that led up to their deaths was another reminder of the failed strategies (and I am being too generous here even to suggest there is a strategy) employed by Trump to stem the flow of people wanting to come to the United State.

Compounding the tragedy of this family was the equally appalling reporting on how children taken from their families were being treated at border facilities - little access to basic hygiene, food shortages, sleeping on concrete floors, lack of medical attention, etc. This would be considered inappropriate treatment for even the most hardened criminals convicted of crimes. Yet, border patrol thought it was acceptable treatment for children whose parents were seeking asylum in the US.

President Trump caused this calamity by imposing this policy to separate families and giving no thought to its implementation, i.e. who and how would the children be cared for in an appropriate and humane manner.

So an ill-prepared and ill-equipped border patrol did the least and worst they could.

Fortunately, we have well-regarded organizations in this country that are highly skilled at taking care of people when disasters occur and this crisis regarding these isolated children is a disaster. So, why did Trump not call in the American Red Cross? This is what they do: provide temporary safe shelter, food, and clothing and make sure those in their care are able to wash, bath, attend to personal hygiene and they have plenty of diapers on hand.

Or Trump could have turned to FEMA for assistance, but given their poor performance in Puerto Rico, maybe not such a good idea. On the other hand, this could have given Trump a photo opportunity that made him look compassionate. Just think of him randomly throwing rolls of toilet paper toward a crowd of children.

Was it his ego, ignorance, ineptitude, or lack of empathy that made him not seek help? I cannot say. He may blame everyone but himself for the atrocious treatment of the children in his custody, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with him. The Democratic candidates should have nailed him on this humanitarian issue.