Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Safety First

Safest and Most Dangerous States, 2012

The second annual edition of the United States Peace Index, produced by Institute for Economics and Peace, measures peacefulness according to five indicators: the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, number of police employees and the availability of small arms.

Rank State
1. Maine
2. Vermont
3. New Hampshire
4. Minnesota
5. Utah
6. North Dakota
7. Washington
8. Hawaii, c
9. Rhode Island
10. Iowa
11. Nebraska
12. Massachusetts
13. Oregon
14. Connecticut
15. West Virginia
16. Idaho
17. Wyoming
18. Montana
19. Wisconsin
20. South Dakota
21. Kentucky
22. Ohio
23. Indiana
24. Pennsylvania
25. Virginia
26. Colorado
27. Kansas
28. New Jersey
29. Michigan
30. North Carolina
31. New York
32. California
33. Alaska
34. New Mexico
35. Illinois
36. Georgia
37. Oklahoma
38. Maryland
39. Delaware
40. Mississippi
41. Alabama
42. South Carolina
43. Arkansas
44. Texas
45. Missouri
46. Arizona
47. Florida
48. Nevada
49. Tennessee
50. Louisiana
Source: 2012 United States Peace Index.

Read more: Safest and Most Dangerous States, 2012 — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/us/states/most-dangerous-states.html#ixzz2K8dgXrg1

Here’s what I find interesting about the above list:  Vermont, which is the second safest state in the country, has the United States’ most liberal gun laws, summarized here by Wikipedia:

Vermont has very few gun control laws. Gun dealers are required to keep a record of all handgun sales. It is illegal to carry a gun on school property or in a courthouse. State law preempts local governments from regulating the possession, ownership, transfer, carrying, registration or licensing of firearms.[1]

The term “Vermont Carry” is widely used by gun rights advocates to refer to allowing citizens to carry a firearm concealed or openly without any sort of permit requirement, however this term is being replaced by the term “Constitutional Carry”. Vermont law does not distinguish between residents and non-residents of the state; both have the same right to carry while in Vermont.

The Vermont Constitution of 1777, dating well before the Bill of Rights to a time when Vermont was an independent republic, guarantees certain freedoms and rights to the citizens: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State – and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”[2]

In Maine (we’re #1!) and New Hampshire, the other safest states, access to firearms and getting a concealed carry permit is pretty straightforward.  So, you might surmise, perhaps the answer to controlling violence and crime is more liberal gun laws?  Well, not so fast.  As you see on the list, states like Texas (#44), Arizona (#46) and Florida (#47) are among the most dangerous of States, yet they have similarly liberal gun control laws and “shall issue” CCW (concealed carry) gun permits.  Could it be that gun laws (restrictive OR liberal) have NOTHING TO DO with cause-and-effect in determining a State’s level of safety and violence?

If guns – their prevalence, accessibility, or lack thereof – – are not a catalyst for the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, etc., what other factors might be more reliable in determining the positive reason for an individual State’s safety and quality of life?  Is it not interesting that the 10 most dangerous States are Southern and/or are on the Mexican border?  Could specific regional, cultural, economic, racial, religious, health care (i.e. how a State addresses and guides treatment for mental illness), education level, substance abuse levels, or population density factors be primarily responsible?  I don’t have the answers, but I do think problems and rates of violence may be about a lot more than guns . . . and worth studying.

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Girl Scout Wannabe

My husband was supposed to return tonight, but that’s out of the question now.  We’re being socked with a heavy snowstorm.  It’s simply not safe to travel the 3 hours from the Manchester NH airport to our house in Maine (even if his flight is not canceled, which it probably will be).  Assuming the roads will be passable, it would in any case take much longer than the three hours’ travel time due to the necessity of driving extra slowly and cautiously.

It started snowing at 9 a.m. and isn’t supposed to stop until 5 a.m. tomorrow morning.  Right now the snow is coming down at a rate of 1″ per hour, and it’s supposed to get especially heavy this afternoon.

It’s just me and my dog, in my house in the woods, in the middle of nowhere, in a blizzard.

Last night, in preparation for the storm,  I drove 30 miles to the nearest market.  It was cold as heck outside (-8 F) but it was clear and the roads were dry, so I figured it was now or never.  As I passed Shawnee Peak, I couldn’t believe the amount of people night-skiing under the lights.  More than thirty years ago I skied in Colorado in +7 degree weather, and I still remember how cold that felt!  That was 15 degrees warmer than last night.  Mainers are certainly hardy souls!

The moon shone so brightly, I wouldn’t have needed headlights.

I also stopped to fill up the car with gas.  In such cold weather, it would have been an impossible task without gloves to grip the frozen metal nozzle – I had one of those annoying broken ones that wouldn’t lock into place and you had to keep it pressed down in order to fill up the car.  Ditto for grasping the steel shopping carts at the market – they were all parked outside.

As soon as I got back home I put away my mittens, and put on suede and shearling work gloves.  I went out to the shed and brought in several armloads of wood – about 6 trips’ worth that weighed a few hundred pounds.  Now even if it snows for 2 days, I can avoid going outside to refuel.

This morning, just as the snow began, I drove to the post office to pick up the mail.  I’m glad I didn’t tarry, since shortly after I got back home the snow started falling in earnest, and the roads are now dangerous.

I’m not scared to be up here alone (okay, I have my limits – I won’t be watching the movie “Deliverance” anytime soon).  The key seems to be advance preparation, enjoying simple pursuits such as reading, and a sense of adventure.  But it is a little extreme, I must admit; there is certainly more to this story.  I mean, normal people my age, especially most Orthodox Jewish women, just don’t do crazy stuff like this.  (And few have husbands who are so tolerant.)

I admit it, a certain part of me wants to “prove” my independence (to myself, not others) on a grand and heroic scale.  Which is ridiculous, because in general  I am an independent person  and manage just fine on a typical day, thank you.  I think this need of mine is a knee-jerk reaction to the fallout from taking care of our elderly parents for the few years before they passed away.  Is there anything more traumatic, terrifying, and demeaning than losing one’s independence, and being dependent on others for one’s most basic needs?  Is there anything sadder than to see one’s parent, someone who throughout one’s childhood was one’s rock and personification of strength and power,  so diminished?  Being surrounded by frailty only heightened my awareness of how tenuous life is, and how speedily time is marching on.  I have an exaggerated need to live independently because I am on a race against time, and the inevitability of dependence and loss of personal freedoms.  I’m pushing myself to new limits, trying and experiencing new things, no matter how out of character it might seem.  Spiritually speaking, it’s a ridiculous attempt.  Because who are we without HaShem? While we might have a psychological need to feel we have control over our own lives, who are we kidding?  The minute we forget Who is really in control is the moment that He will remind us, and it isn’t always a pretty picture.  It’s a conundrum, filled with not just a little ego:  I want to live life at its fullest on my own terms in a way that HaShem will allow . . . before I’m robbed of that choice.

The snow continues to fall . . .

Food?   . . . Check!

Fuel?  . . . Check!

Shelter?   . . . Check!

Emergency supplies?  . . . Check!

Margarita mix and tequila?  . . . Check!