Friday, December 28, 2012

We are, and must continue to be - the "well regulated militia" or life as we know it will cease to exist

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Running neck and neck for the top of news story controversy as we ring out 2012 are the budgetary “fiscal cliff” and gun laws in our country.

Since the only thing that I know for certain about our national budget is that we are getting nowhere on the issue due to the fact that a bunch of egomaniac congressmen and our president are more worried about themselves and their personal projects than about the overall good of America, I will talk about something I do know something about — guns.

There has never been a greater push to violate our Second Amendment rights than is going on right now.

There has always been a faction of citizens who are against the ownership of guns. By and large they are liberals who believe that the government owes a living to every person who would rather sit back and draw welfare than have a job.

I will say that this latest attempt at violating the Constitution of the United States is being done in true American fashion. The American way for the last half-century has been, if a person is guilty of committing a crime, the true blame for their actions must lie somewhere else.

If someone spills hot coffee on themselves at a McDonald’s, it must be the fault of the restaurant that actually had the gall to make the coffee hot.

If someone shoots someone with a gun, it must be the fault of the weapon. I mean, after all, how could a mere human being do something so cruel? It must be the fault of the gun.

Our founding fathers gave us an unalienable right to keep and bear arms. At that point in time, it was deemed necessary for citizens to have access to arms.

This right was not only to protect ones’ family and property, but also considered necessary to citizens to protect themselves from the evils of tyranny.

I do not mean to sound paranoid, but I do not find it inconceivable that Americans should be forced to pick up arms against our government in the future. Our system of government is not only broken, it is corrupt. That corruption runs so deep that I fear it cannot be overcome.

The words used, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” were as relevant then as today.

Those who would choose to allow our government to confiscate firearms are the same people who would roll over for a socialist or communist dictatorship without putting up a fight.

I will be the first to say that many horrific tragedies in recent history have had guns involved. This is truly a shame.

However, one has only to look at suicide bombings across the Middle East or the attacks on September 11, 2001 to know that, if someone is willing to die to accomplish their crime, lack of access to a gun, legally or otherwise, will not stop them. Let me say that again, it Will. Not. Stop. Them.

Taking guns out of the hands of honest Americans is not the answer. It never will be the answer.

Increasingly, a small group of armed Americans — legally armed Americans — have been responsible for stopping armed criminals before he/she could perpetrate their crime in a number of cases. The liberal “mainstream” media likes to keep those instances under wraps. Heaven forbid Americans would know the truth.

Another stereotypical American way is that if we are afraid of, or don’t like something, we want it banned from everyone else. Just because some Americans are afraid of guns, they seem to think that guns are bad and should, therefore, be banned.

We may not like the violence in our world, but it is what we live with today. Our police are outnumbered and, in many cased outgunned.

Legally armed citizens, who are properly trained, let me repeat that with emphasis — who are properly trained — can potentially make a difference in whether the good guys prevail, or whether we someday end up as puppets at the end of strings being pulled a communist dictator, like the one we currently have in Washington.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas - the good, the bad and the ugly

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Another Christmas holiday season is upon us.

In spite of the recent tragedy in Connecticut and the "fiscal cliff" that our president seems determined to drive us over, we do have much to be thankful for.

This time of year has a way of showcasing the good in our fellow men and women.

Area school children were regular visitors to nursing homes and assisted living centers over this past month. At each stop, the smiling faces of residents reflected the joy brought into their facility by their caroling young visitors.

This past week,  a story was relayed to me from a local resident, a long-time area educator. She was visiting a local laundromat due to water issues at her home, when a gentleman entered and began to pass out envelopes to folks doing their laundry.

The stranger handed each an envelope then, unceremoniously, left the establishment. The baffled customers opened their envelopes to find a $100 bill inside. It seems the anonymous good Samaritan was out spreading Christmas cheer, taking to heart the saying, "Goodwill toward men."

There have been several reported instances from around the area of anonymous folks going into the layaway department of stores and paying off the accounts of people they never met.

I have been using up some vacation days this past week. Since I was not working, I decided to do some Christmas shopping the old fashioned way .... actually going to a store to shop, as opposed to ordering online.

The chaos was amazing.

Most of the employees of the retail establishments that I visited seemed to be taking the purchasing blitz in stride. I must say that I was pleased at the smiles on the faces of most workers. What did not surprise me was the shopping-with-blinders attitude of many out looking for gifts less than a week before Christmas.

People were scurrying about in every store, many oblivious that they were sharing the world with others. I saw people stepping in front of others and cutting people off as if their own shopping mission was far more important.

Driving was an even bigger adventure. Of course, far too many people had their cell phone growing out of their ear, one hand on the steering wheel and a glazed look in their eye as they concentrated on what they believed the most important task at hand ... getting to the next stop on their shopping trip, when they should have been worrying about driving safely.

I have mentioned before that I believe that many of us put far too much emphasis on purchasing gifts for Christmas. Sure, we have good intentions and the thought of giving to others certainly cannot be faulted. But, we have been brainwashed by retailers and given in to peer pressure that we need to buy bigger and better each year.

As we head down the home stretch to Christmas 2012, I hope that you will all take the time to sit back, take a deep breath and relax.

Think about what are really the important things in life.

Let us remember the real reason for Christmas. Also, remember that it is a time to spend with family.

I know of several area families who have family members, a couple of them children, dealing with serious health concerns this Christmas season.

I hope that all of you will take a few minutes to pray for those families in need of some extra help, maybe even a miracle, this Christmas.

Many times, the best things we can give others, aren't things we can actually see and touch.

I wish all of you are very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Latest school shootings leave many questions to be answered

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

In the face of another school shooting tragedy, it is hard to find words.

This week's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut leaves most Americans speechless as we attempt to come to terms with the deaths of these innocent victims, many of them children.

I realize as I write these words that, by the time many of you read this column, information regarding the shootings will have changed, added to and altered as more facts become available.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims. I cannot begin to imagine the horror and pain that must be weighing on not only family members but also friends and relatives in and around Newtown.

The city of Newtown is very close in size to Piqua and Troy. A CBS News correspondent described the town yesterday as "a place you go to buy apples and pumpkins."

In other words, Newtown, Connecticut is like so many other small cities across our country ... a town just like ours.

Every time a tragedy of this sort strikes, we like to say, "It won't happen here." Once again, we are seeing that "it" can happen anywhere.

Like every tragedy that occurs, there will undoubtedly be blame and finger-pointing as details come to light.

Of course, one of the most likely culprits in this situation will be the firearms themselves. People will cry long and loud that the availability of guns is to blame.

Those of us who have common sense know that nothing could be further from the truth. A gun is an inanimate object — a tool. Period. But, as was mentioned yesterday, there is a time and place for that 

discussion and this is not the time.

Another of my initial reactions to the shootings is the action taken by law enforcement investigators. I was very impressed at the way that law enforcement officials took control of the scene, worked the scene and kept journalists as up-to-date as was humanly possible, given the circumstances.

All of this was done under what must be the most trying and difficult circumstances a law enforcement officer could ever face. Many people seem to think that police officers are robots, immune from emotion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most law enforcement officers are, themselves, husbands or wives and parents to their own children.

I grieve today, not only for the victims and their families, but also for the law enforcement personnel and their families. I cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude of what they are going through.
My hat is off to all law enforcement officers who are participating in this investigation.

Members of the media are also not immune from the sorrow from a story like this. One cannot be in the vicinity of this type of tragedy without become emotionally effected.

That leaves us with, where do we go from here?

Obviously, there are many things still needing to be done regarding the investigation. There are families that are going to need support from all of us.

People will undoubtedly ask how a repeat of this tragedy can be avoided.

There will be knee-jerk reactions about more restricted access to schools, armed guards and, of course, banning guns.

As with most situations, making instant judgements are never wise.

There is no way to give a 100 percent guarantee for anyone's safety, that includes our children.

We may not want to hear it, but keeping our children behind locked doors and attempting to protect them to the nth degree also prevents them from living life as it was meant to be lived.

All we can really do is to protect them as best we can and remain vigilant to keep danger at bey.

Maybe the most important lesson is to tell those close to you, especially your children, that you love them. Life is short. You never know when you tell someone goodbye, it could be the last time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Social media posters need to engage their brain before their fingers

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

This past week has been a relatively busy one for Piqua police.

A bank robbery and an aggravated assault with a box cutter topped the list of crimes on this week’s police docket.

These situations, along with other news items were covered by our Piqua Daily Call staff, the stories appeared in our newspaper as well as being posted on our website and Facebook page.

One of the advantages — and disadvantages — of posting stories to a social media site is that readers can provide comments and feedback.

I have touched on this topic in previous columns but it seems that the time is right to mention again that some folks just don’t appreciate where they live and seem to live their lives for one reason … to complain about everything they see and hear.

Let me first address the two crimes mentioned above. Several people on Facebook chose our page to make derogatory remarks regarding the Piqua Police Department. One person was even complaining about an allegedly unsolved Piqua robbery — from 1994.

First, let me point out that both of these major crimes that occurred this week have been solved. Arrests were made in both cases. The “bad guys” are off the street.

Too many people just don’t understand reality. Life is not a one-hour cop show. Solving crimes does not happen magically, and rarely in one hour. In reality, it sometimes does not happen at all. In the real world, sometimes the bad guys win.

We are fortunate in our area to be blessed with great officers on dedicated and professional law enforcement agencies.

These men and women work every day to, as the Los Angeles Police Department motto says, “Protect and Serve.”

And let us not forget that their line of work carries with it a set of dangers that most of us never have to face .

The next time that you feel like making disparaging remarks about our local law enforcement officers, think about Suzanne Hopper in nearby Clark County, who died less than two years ago in the line of duty. Or, stop by the Miami County Law Enforcement memorial at the courthouse in Troy, where the names of law enforcement officers from our hometowns are etched in granite after they made the ultimate sacrifice … for you and for me.

Along with those few who were complaining about law enforcement were the number of people who look for excuses to say horrible things about our city. Yes, our city. I live in Troy but have been made to feel welcome working in Piqua and have grown to consider it my home away from home.

I see much good in Piqua. It is there. All one has to do is to open their eyes.

Sure there are criminals in Piqua. Stuff happens everywhere and Piqua is no more, or less, prone to violence than any other local community.

Possibly, it is just human nature, but when we post stories full of good news and progress for our city, few people take notice. Let someone break the law, however; and there are hundreds of people lying in wait to talk about how that person represents the way that Piqua is as a community. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Piqua is a great community with great schools and great people.

My thoughts are that if you live in Piqua and don’t like it … leave. If you live elsewhere, don’t presume to make judgements against our city.

None of us is perfect. No community is perfect. But all one has to do is to open their eyes and look around them to see that the good far outweighs the bad in our little neck of the woods.

I don’t know about you, but I think that I will stick around.