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For Whom The Bell Tolls (No Man Is An Island),

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod(*) be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory(*) were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

A poem by, John Donne(1)

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America, here is a list of the “Deadliest U.S. Shootings”(3):

Sept. 6, 1949: Camden, N.J.; 13 dead

Aug. 1, 1966: University of Texas at Austin; 16 dead + shooter

July 18, 1984: McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, Calif.; 21 dead + shooter

Aug. 20, 1986: Post office in Edmond, Okla.; 14 dead + shooter

Oct. 16, 1991: Luby’s Cafeteria, in Killeen, Tex.; 23 dead + shooter

April 20, 1999: Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.; 13 dead + 2 shooters

April 16, 2007: Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg; 32 dead + shooter

April 3, 2009: Immigration services center in Binghamton, N.Y.; 13 dead + shooter

Nov. 5, 2009: Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas; 13 dead

July 20, 2012: Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo.; 12 dead

Dec. 14, 2012:  Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Ct.; 26 dead + shooter

“The Bell” has tolled for all of them.  Did you hear it?

America, just this year we’ve had(4):

February 22: Su Jung Health Sauna in Norcross, GA; 4 dead + shooter

February 27: Chardon High School in Chardon, OH; 3 dead, 3 wounded

March 6: Tulsa Courthouse in Tulsa, OK; 3 wounded, shooter wounded

March 8: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, PA; 1 dead + shooter, 7 wounded

April 2: Oikos University in Oakland, CA; 7 dead, 3 injured

May 30: Cafe Racer in Seattle,WA; 4 dead + shooter, 1 wounded

June 9: Auburn University pool party in Auburn, AL; 3 dead, 3 injured

July 17: Copper Top bar in Tuscaloosa, AL; 18 injured or wounded

August 5: Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, WI; 6 dead + shooter

October 21: Azana Day Spa in Brookfield, WI; 3 dead + shooter, 4 injured

December 11: Clackamas Town Center in  Clackamas, OR; 2 dead + shooter 

Did you hear “The Bell” then?  Can you hear it now?

Then there is this, America:

(6/11/12)  Chicago Shootings: 8 Killed, At Least 46 Wounded By Gun Violence Over Warm Weekend

(6/24/12)  4 Dead, 31 Wounded In Shootings This Weekend

(12/3/12)  Chicago Shootings: 8 Killed, At Least 30 Wounded In Weekend Violence

“The Bell” is tolling for them, also.  Are you listening?

How about the anguished cries of those left. A Dad.  A Mom.  Sisters and Brothers.  Family and Friends.  Do you hear them, America?

How do we stop this insanity?  When will it end?  Is all we have to offer the dead, our thoughts and prayers?  Is all we have to offer the survivors and their family and friends, our deepest sympathy’s and support?  America, I believe that we are so much better than this.  We can not, we must not, allow this to become the new standard, for living here.  It doesn’t matter where you stand on 2nd Amendment Rights, this cannot be acceptable.  There is no reason or rationale that makes this sane.

As for the perpetrators, how have they become so isolated?  So disconnected as to think that it is they alone that matter, nothing or nobody else?  It’s all about them, not the victims, not the survivors, not their families and friends?  The poem begins with “no man is an island, entirely of itself.”  They have to be made to understand, we have to understand, that they are we and we are they.  Not as an eye or an arm that, once ill, can be excised and discarded, but as a genetically joined part of the whole that must be made well or the whole will perish.  We must fix us to ultimately fix them.

There is no shame in admitting that this situation is evolving beyond our ability to manage.  The shame is vainly allowing it to continue in spite of what it is doing to our culture, to our society.  It is argued that guns are not the problem, but if that is so, then that only leaves us.  If we are the problem and we have easy access to guns then they [the guns] become the manifestation of our problems.  Guns become the easy way out.  But there is a finality about there use.  Guns are made to kill!  Those who manage to survive them are fortunate, lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it, but if you are shot by a gun, you are supposed to die.   Life is not a video game that you can reset or reboot.

While researching this post I came across a study on Ernest Hemingway’s book “For Whom The Bell Tolls.”  The question was asked, “What does the novel’s title mean? For whom does the bell toll? What bell?”  Here is how it was answered:

“The phrase “for whom the bell tolls” comes from a short essay by the seventeenth-century British poet and religious writer John Donne. Hemingway excerpts a portion of the essay in the epigraph to his novel. In’Donne’s essay, “For whom does the bell toll?” is the imaginary question of a man who hears a funeral bell and asks about the person who has died. Donne’s answer to this question is that, because none of us stands alone in the world, each human death affects all of us. Every funeral bell, therefore, “tolls for thee.”(2)

The problem is that from perpetrators to victims, from survivors to spectators, when we look around what we see is “Them.”  That “Them,” though, is “Us.”  The “Thee” from the prose is “We,” as in “We the People of the United States.”  From our leaders to our everyday citizens we must stop the divisive rhetoric.  Dr. Drew Pinsky speaking to Wolf Blitzer on Friday stated, “It is time for our government and our culture to act like a healthy family.  Divisiveness is starting to have it’s effect among the most vulnerable amongst us, and it is time to stop.  We have to lead our way out of this, and we need our leaders to behave in a healthy manor.

I agree with Dr. Drew, and I would like to add that, we need leadership on all levels.  This is not just a problem for our President or our legislators.  We need leaders on all levels to step up and lead.  Governors, Mayors, School Administrators.  Fathers, Mothers, Aunts and Uncles, we all have a responsibility to take ownership of this problem and deal with it.  Gun control may help, but “self-control” is the ultimate answer.  In lieu of that control of self, action to reduce or eliminate the easy access to guns is our only remaining hope.

As for all of those defenders of 2nd Amendment Rights who blindly serve the interest of the NRA over their own and those of our nation, well, they should be forced to “toll the bell,” one peel each for each person that dies as a result of their commitment.  Perhaps if they can’t see what their intransigence brings about, then they can hear it up close and personal.

Hear it and know, that, “The Bell Tolls For Thee!”

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These famous words by John Donne were not originally written as a poem – the passage is taken from the 1624 Meditation 17, from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and is prose. The words of the original passage are as follows(2):

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

“No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friendsor of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee….” 

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Please visit and support “Mayors Against Illegal Guns,”


(*)DEFINITIONS  (Bing Dictionary):

Clod (n);  lump of earth: a large lump of soil

Promontory (n);  projecting point of land: a point of land that juts out into the sea







Publishers note:  This is an e-mail sent to me by Jetjocki, a contributor, who has been a part of this discussion from the beginning.  Because of his seriousness, and concern for this topic, I want to share his e-mail as an article.  This is the first of what I hope will be a continuing part of this very important dialogue.



In beginning the discussion on how data clearly gives us the answers.  I’ll start with the most common type of shooting incident: Criminal Homicide.  To get to the heart of the discussion I will use publicly accessible data compiled over the last 50 years by the Department of Justice, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I’ll start with a “fictional” headline from this morning’s newspaper:  Two killed and one wounded in a shooting at the corner of …

Without reading the headline any further or reading the following story I already “know” a lot about the tragic incident that happened last night. Let’s begin with the perpetrator and what existing data tells us:

Age & Gender 

  • There is an 82% probability that the perpetrator is a male between the ages of 16 and 24.

Criminal History 

  • There is an 85% probability that the perpetrator has a prior criminal record.
  • There is an 80% probability that the perpetrator has been convicted of at least one felony and is prohibited from possession of any firearm.
  • There is a 76% probability that the perpetrator has been arrested 4 or more times for felony offences.
  • There is an 81% probability that the perpetrator has a prior arrest for one or more violent offences.
  • There is a 52% probability that the perpetrator has a prior arrest for illegal possession of a firearm or for illegal possession of a firearm during [the] commission of a crime.
  • There is a 60% probability that the perpetrator is already on court ordered supervision.  The court ordered supervision includes:  out on bail awaiting trial for a prior arrest, diversionary probation based on a plea bargain, or early release parole.

Now let’s take a look at the firearm used to commit the crime:

Type of Weapon 

  • There is a 93% probability that the weapon was a handgun.
  • There is ONLY a 1% to 5% probability that the weapon used is an “assault weapon” of any type as defined by the 1994 ban.
  • There is 0.25% to 1.25% probability that the weapon used is an “assault weapon” rifle with a high capacity magazine prohibited by the 1994 ban.
  • There is less than a 1% probability that the firearm used was an “assault weapon” rifle.
  • There is less than a 0.25% probability that the firearm used was an “assault weapon” rifle equipped with a high capacity magazine.

Source of the Weapon 

  • There is a 40% probability that the weapon used was unlawfully provided to the perpetrator by a family member or close associate that had full knowledge that the perpetrator is prohibited from possession of a firearm.  These weapons are typically purchased with intent or already owned legally by the family member or close associate prior to the transfer to the perpetrator.
  • There is a 40% probability that the weapon used was obtained from the illegal “street” market.  This illegal market is divided into two major segments; 75% consisting of legally owned weapons that have been stolen from lawful owners; and approximately 25% by intentional trafficking in firearms to the criminal element.
  • There is an 11% probability that the firearm used had at one time been legally acquired by the perpetrator and unlawfully retained after prohibition against possession became effective.
  • There is a less than 7% probability that the weapon has been acquired by the perpetrator from the avoidance of a background check via private sale where the private seller currently has no lawful means to run a “background check.”  This includes sales by private sellers at “gun shows.”

Now let’s take a look at the victims of the crime:

Age & Gender 

  • There is an 81% probability that the victim is a male between the ages of 16 and 24.

Criminal History 

  • There is a 75% probability that the victim has a criminal record as extensive as the perpetrator.

Ok, I know that was a lot of numbers related to probabilities and it will take time and thought for it to all soak in, but in overview it is obvious that the fictional incident was indeed the result of a long chain of events beginning long before the “shooting.”  Let’s now pick two of the links that have the most potential for breaking the chain.  The two that pop out the most in my opinion are the 52% probability that the perpetrator already had a prior arrest for illegal firearm possession, and that there is a 40% probability that a family member or close associate is the one that provided the weapon to the perpetrator.  I believe that effectively addressing these two links has the potential of reducing criminal homicides by 30% to 50% and maybe even more.

My next installment will examine these two links in far greater detail.


I’m looking forward to more contributions from Jetjocki, and from others who believe this is a discussion worth having.  Your opinions matter.  Share your comments to this article, and any [other] thoughts you may have on this topic, in the comment section below, or e-mail me at: