cold dead hands

The Madness

Ed. note: Due to the Moms Demand Action – Advocacy Day ’23 yesterday, “What It’s Really About – Part Two” has been moved to this Sunday, May 21.

It’s been ten and a half months since the brutal July 4th mass shooting in Highland Park, IL that killed seven innocent people and wounded 48 other parade attendees. The wounded list includes 8-year-old Cooper Roberts, the kid who is now paralyzed for the rest of his life from the killer’s bullet that ripped into his back. Emotional injuries from that day were in the tens of  thousands. Many of those will never heal.

Click me

The blood stains on the pavement are gone now, as is the mountain of flowers and candles at the makeshift memorial that was created that week. Attendees long ago picked up their lawn chairs, picnic baskets, bikes and child-sized flags that were supposed to be waved at people on the floats. The ocean of tears has been rinsed away by the rain and the snow. The intersection of Central Avenue and Second Street looks normal now and you might not guess that it was a war zone last year.

A permanent memorial will replace the temporary one next to the Library on Laurel Avenue. Right now it’s just seven posts, each with an etched placard on top bearing a picture and a few words to remember each of those killed.

The memorial is alongside a small rose garden and a rock garden. About a third of the rocks in that garden have been painted by children and they are very much like those at the bases of the seven posts – you can see them in the picture – many with heart piercing words of love and loss. The children’s offerings seem to speak for all of us, saying “We will always remember you.”

Sadly, we have two such mass shootings every 3 days in America, so it’s easy to imagine many thousands of piles of rocks painted by children all across the nation.

That vision brought me to the Moms Demand Action – Advocacy Day ’23 in the state capitol yesterday to help make a statement that We The People want sensible gun safety laws to keep these killing machines out of the hands of the angry, the crazy, the self-deluded, the falsely patriotic, the narcissisticly aggrieved, the mentally ill and the compulsively belligerent, like the  Highland Park murderer.

Hundreds of people of all ages showed up to make a statement about the need for better gun safety legislation, both in mass and in small group meetings with legislators.

Hundreds of Illinoisans showed up to demand better, even in this state with better than average gun safety legislation. The speeches were inspiring, delivering the clear and insistent message that the progress that has already been made is just the start of what needs to be done. A couple of younger people spoke to the crowd, letting us know that the people of their generation are always wondering, “Am I next?” Imagine going to school with that knot in your belly every day.

An artist turned her hand to making clear the truth of what we as a society have done. Her display has over 30,000 orange flags, each representing a child murdered by guns just since Sandy Hook. Look at the picture – what you can see is a fraction of the total display. Now imagine if each flag were instead a healthy kid.

Over 30,000 orange flags should instead be over 30,000 healthy kids living their lives.

The misled guys and the tough guys believe that the Second Amendment means everybody can own any murder weapons they want. But read that Amendment – it doesn’t say anything about a right of private citizens to own AR-15s or extended capacity magazines. In fact, it doesn’t say that anyone can own a gun for any reason other than so that we have a well-regulated militia.

And we have that. It’s called the National Guard. We don’t need private citizens to amass arsenals of weaponry in their basements. Those gun owners aren’t part of a well regulated militia. They’re just guys with guns.

There is no Second Amendment reason for anyone to do concealed carry, much less to do it without a background check and safety training. Most of our state governments, though, seem to say, “Just strap one on, Bubba, and head to the bar for some beers. What could possibly go wrong?”

Oh wait: Buffalo could go wrong and a bunch of grannies shopping for eggs and bread could be murdered. Sandy Hook could happen and the bodies of 20 little kids and seven teachers could be splattered onto the school room floor.

And Highland Park could happen, making a horror so terrible, so awful, that brave, tough cops and FBI personnel had to bury their faces in their hands.

So, I went to Springfield yesterday to tell our legislators the obvious facts of what has happened and what will continue to happen if we fail to take proper action. I went to tell them that the misled guys and the tough guys are wrong and that they themselves are a clear and present danger to our country..

I went to tell them that We The People want the madness to stop.

Charlton, can we have your gun now that there are over 31,000 cold, dead hands so far just this year?

If you weren’t at the Illinois state capitol yesterday, no worries. This battle for peace and safety isn’t over and there will be many more opportunities for you to stand up for all those people who can no longer stand up for themselves and for all of us who don’t want to be shot.

The children in Highland Park left notes on those rocks to say that we will continue to stand for our fallen. They and we will speak for them and for all those who are being gunned down right now, even as you read this.

  • Today is a good day to be the light.


  • Our governance and electoral corruption and dysfunction and our ongoing mass murders are all of a piece, all the same problem with the same solution:
  • Fire the bastards!
  • The days are dwindling for us to take action. Get up! Do something to make things better.

    Did someone forward this post to you? Welcome! Please subscribe – use the simple form above on the right. And pass this along to three others, encouraging them to subscribe, too. (IT’S A FREEBIE!) It’s going to take a lot of us to get the job done.

    And add your comments below to help us all to be better informed.


    The Fine Print:

    1. Writings quoted or linked from my posts reflect a point I want to make, at least in part. That does not mean that I endorse or agree with everything in such writings.
    2. There are lots of smart, well-informed people. Sometimes we agree; sometimes we don’t. Search for others’ views and decide for yourself.
    3. Errors in fact, grammar, spelling and punctuation are all embarrassingly mine. Glad to have your corrections.
    4. Responsibility for the content of these posts is unequivocally, totally, unavoidably mine.
    5. Book links to Amazon are provided for reference only. Please purchase your books through your local mom & pop bookstore. Keep them and your town or neighborhood vibrant.

    Click me


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

We’re Perfectly Positioned

Reading time – 4:05; Viewing time – 5:41  .  .  .

Her husband was killed by a street shooter. Later, one of her sons was shot and killed. Relating this to the small audience brought her to tears – again. The mother’s pain she bears will never go away.

When she was able to function again she started a support group for mothers who have lost family members to street violence. There are currently about 75 members of “Sisterhood.” There could be 750,000 members because we shoot someone’s son or daughter or husband or daddy over 100 times per day, every day.

Some of the violence is due to random drive-by shootings; some is done by warring gangs; some is done by angry young people or disgruntled workers. All of it is due to something way beyond wrong.

Another presenter spoke to the audience about his family of origin. Seven kids, Mom and an abusive step-father who hit with chairs, a vacuum cleaner, whatever was handy. The presenter grew up thinking that’s just the way things were – until the night his little sister went into the bathroom to avoid their step-father’s violence and quietly hung herself with the cord of a hair dryer. That’s what random violence can do to people. The presenter now works with at risk kids, people who grew up as he did, assuming that violence was just the way people deal with their anger. Most of it isn’t done by an electrical cord. Most is by gun.

As always, the grassroots efforts are driven by people who have lived the pain and they’re doing wonderful, critically needed work to help others, holding hands and hugging to soothe the sufferers and to counsel people away from violence before they commit it and that’s good. It’s one piece of the horrific puzzle and it isn’t enough.

The cover picture of this puzzle of over 30,000 gun killings per year shows:

The lack of proper education of our kids for a successful life

Lack of employment opportunities where they are most needed

Our refusal to enact meaningful, national gun safety legislation

Our cultural idealizing and reverence for tough, macho guys (think: Charlton Heston’s “cold, dead hands” speech)

Our slavish belief in the Second Amendment as a holy thing and meaning something other than what was intended by the Founders

A political system that rewards the biggest donors instead of We the People

Our limp-wristed way of dealing with mental health

The ease with which we are distracted by the next bright, shiny object

You can likely add to this list. The point is that there are many contributing factors to our gun violence problem and no one thing is going to cure our addiction to pointless death. Still, some useful things are obvious.

Guns are the perfect tool to kill lots of people quickly. Knives kill, but imagine the killer at Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School last year with knives instead of guns. He could have killed some kids, but there’s no way he could have killed 17 of them with knives or an axe or any other hand weapon. Getting guns out of the hands of those who should never have one will be a major step toward solving our problem. Refusing to do that enables our truly angry, hate-filled people to carry out their horrible plans.

Three years ago the FBI arrested two men who were planning a race war, expecting to bomb Black churches and Jewish synagogues. Last week they arrested a white nationalist who proclaimed, “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth,” and he was prepared to attack using his armory of assault weapons if President Trump is impeached. He planned to pump himself up with steroids and opioids so he would be ready to unleash continuing carnage. The authorities managed to stop these two nut cases.

But we’ll never run out of angry men who want to do violence and stopping all of them is unlikely to happen. The question we must answer is whether we are willing to do what is necessary to stop them before they start. If we continue to make it easy to assemble an arsenal of weapons of war, if we continue to make it easy for nearly anyone with a few bucks in their pocket to buy a handgun and some ammunition, we will continue to kill the likes of the little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, high school kids at Columbine and Douglass, movie goers in Aurora, CO, factory workers in Aurora, IL, people at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, concert attendees in Las Vegas and thousands on the streets.

By February 17 there were already 43 mass shootings in the US this year. There were 5 last weekend alone. That can feel dreadful and even horrifying but might not be motivating because most it happens at a distance. That’s just how it was for that mom until her husband and son were killed. It’s up close and real personal for her now. That’s the way it always is for victims and their loved ones.

We’re perfectly positioned to get exactly the horrific results we’re getting right now. The only way to get different, better results is to do something about it.


Ed. Note: I don’t want money (DON’T donate) or your signature on a petition. I want you to spread the word so that we make a critical difference. So,


  1. Pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe (IT’S A FREEBIE!).
  2. Engage in the Comments section below to help us all be better informed.


Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

 Scroll to top