By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Evil people, not guns, are the big problem in America's crime spike

It the risk of sounding like a broken record: “Guns don’t kill, people do.”

Even though they claim it’s not the case, those on the political left wish they could take away every gun from Americans’ hands. It’s obvious when they use such terms as “gun violence.” It’s just as ridiculous to use the term “rope violence” in the case of a killer using a rope to asphyxiate a victim. Or to use the term “car violence” in instances like the mass murder in which Darrell Brooks ran over folks at the 2021 Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six and injuring 62 others.

While President Biden just grew the federal bureaucracy by last week’s creation of a White House “Office of Gun Violence Prevention,” we haven’t seen his “Office of Knife Violence Prevention” yet.

Politicians always talk a good game of wanting to reduce violence but will never get a handle on the problem while they take away constitutional rights of the law-abiding. Democrats often resort to jacking up taxes on guns and ammo but it doesn’t stop the problem of people misusing them to kill others. Why?  There is no legislation that can change the human heart which is where the problem lies. Passing laws won’t extract hatred out of a human heart.

The truth is that many of the guns used in the commission of crimes are guns stolen from those who would never use them for anything other than protecting family and home. More than one million guns were stolen from private citizens from 2017 to 2021. That number could be much higher given that federal law doesn’t require individual gun owners to report the loss or theft of their firearm to police.

Over 80 percent of mass shooters at K-12 schools stole guns from family members, according to research into mass shootings taking place from 1966 to 2019. So it’s apparent that some gun owners are negligent in how they store their weapons. 

So what about the human heart? Why is it so desperately wicked? Why has – and further will – the love of many “grow cold” as the Bible foretells in Matthew 24:12? It’s simple, folks: When you severe yourself from God, and can’t experience his standards for living or understand His deep love despite our depravity, you won’t be able to emulate that love for others. In short, you can be quickly dragged to your own unhappiness and your own destruction.

There is a very telling correlation between the spike in violent crimes, drug use, folks feeling depressed and lonely and surveys indicating how Americans, now more than ever, don’t believe in God nor attend church.

If you were to ask me what the answer is to violence that plaques our nation, I’d say folks must turn to Jesus Christ and get to know Him. As a standard rule, true Christians have purpose in life that is positive and serve others and enrich others’ lives, not take them. Yet, the world does a fair job of dismissing faith as irrelevant despite its potential to cure what ails this world.

* * * * *

I often hear folks tell me that the worst decision ever made by Ronald Reagan in his career was eliminating state mental hospitals after he was elected governor of California in 1967. Because the number of patients in the state mental hospitals had dropped to 22,000, then Governor Reagan made cuts to the Department of Mental Hygiene. Despite those facilities already understaffed, Reagan’s cuts eliminated 2,600 jobs.

Reagan signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act which ended the practice of institutionalizing patients against their will, or for indefinite amounts of time. This law was regarded by some as a “patient’s bill of rights.” But because the mental health care outside of the state hospital walls was inadequate, and California mistakenly relied on community treatment facilities which were never built, the next year, the number of mentally ill people entering the criminal justice system doubled in some counties.

With voters and the state blatantly accepting marijuana shops as some medical miracle, cannabis is inducing psychosis among some young people who can no longer function in life and become homeless.

It’s time California lawmakers recognize that deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill is one of the primary causes of the rise of homelessness. We should not deny that jails and prisons have become surrogate psychiatric hospitals for many suffering from severe mental illnesses, and we need to do something about that.

* * * * *

Two Fridays ago at around 4 p.m., I went to Smyrna Park and saw three homeless people – a couple pulling or pushing possessions in purloined carts belonging to stores  – as well as one individual who was fast asleep on the grass a stone’s throw from Fowler Road. He had a pile of belongings north of where he was plopped down on the grass.

This sight was weeks after the Ceres City Council was given a glowing report about how well the city and the county CARE team was making a dent in the homeless problem.

The Monday prior to my visit Councilwoman Rosalinda Vierra mentioned the numbers of homeless persons who are now occupying Independence Park.

I am not disputing that the CARE team has some success stories but they are few.

Parks are not intended to be a person’s living room. The presence of the homeless – some who are cursing aloud and acting demented – makes a normal taxpaying citizen feel very uncomfortable and unsafe.

Nor are commercial shopping centers meant to serve as Motel 6 for the strung-out-on-drugs variety of homeless persons.

Ceres Police recently told the council about the progress being made to tackle homeless. Take care of one problem and another pops up. To quote former City Manager Toby Wells, it’s like a game of Whack-A-Mole.

About a month ago before the council presentation on homeless, I saw homeless dude sprawled out on the sidewalk next to the vacant commercial building on the other side of the Habit Burger drive-thru lane on Whitmore Avenue.

Last Thursday – at 12:30 p.m., mind you – there were two of them asleep in sleeping bags in the same spot. Next to them was a stolen Dollar General shopping cart filled with their belongings. When you’re strung out on meth, intoxicated, stoned or mentally ill, your priorities are not to go out and find work or seek treatment.

The situation is far worse in Sacramento, where 9,278 homeless persons were counted in January. This number has surged from 5,570 in 2019, and 3,665 in 2017. That prompted Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho to sue the city of Sacramento for not consistently enforcing its own ordinances in regard to homelessness “to keep our streets clean and safe.” Specifically, Ho says the city and police department is failing to enforce ordinances on homelessness.

California’s homeless problem will only worsen. Officials need to get serious to find solutions.

* * * * *

When John Fetterman ran for U.S. Senate, I was shocked at his appearance. The guy reminded me of Uncle Fester or some othercharacter out of the 1960s comedy TV show. But I didn’t understand why he always looked as if he just got back from a run or the gym in his hoodie, sweatpants or shorts.

Now apparently the Senate has changed its dress code so Fetterman can show up on the floor looking like a slob.

We’ve slid downhill quite a ways in my lifetime and since before with dress codes and even language. If you’ve ever seen photos of Great Depression bums in Modesto, even they had a standard of dress that often included suit and hat and slacks. Take a look at pictures of the 1950s and 1960s crowds at Disneyland and everyone was dressed like they were for church. Of course, I think Disneyland is a much better experience if you wear comfortable clothing but excusing the lone freak Democrat from wearing a suit and tie is a regretful thing to see happen in our highest legislative body.

And to be fair, the actions of Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who was seen groping her date’s crotch, vaping and acting a bit wild in her seat at a performance of Beetlejuice in Denver was also very unbecoming of a member of Congress, too.

* * * * *

A friend of mine who lives in Ceres had posted a comment on social media about how fast-food workers routinely screw up her food order and yet they keep getting rewarded with minimum-wage hikes.

She has a good point. Before government started jacking up food prices via the minimum-wage hikes, workers agreed to work for what the companies were paying, and that pay was based on market conditions for those lacking job skills other than just showing up for work. Nobody expects a fast-food worker to “make it” in life. The fast-food industry was populated with kids who needed to make extra money while they were in school – not to support the single mom with three kids. Along came the “equity” advocates who didn’t think it was fair to the unskilled. The result is higher prices, less business and workers being replaced by kiosk stations to order your Big Mac.

Well, lo and before, on Thursday I went to Ceres’ Habit Burger still thinking about what my friend said about her orders being perpetually goofed up. I ordered a Combo #1, which is a “Char burger,” fries and a medium sofa drink, totaling $11.99 plus tax. As I fumbled for my debit card she mumbled back my order and said, “That’ll be $17.” I thought I was hearing things and I said, “Seventeen dollars?” She replied, “You ordered an asiago sandwich?” “No, I said what I wanted a number one. How did you get asiago out of number one?”

Out of the whole large dining room, two folks were dining. Little wonder. Who can afford burgers when they are prepare by workers who get paid pretty good for failing to obtain skills in life to carry them farther. If you ask me, minimum-wage is nothing but a wealth redistribution scheme. Scratch that: it’s an anti-business, job-killing thing.

* * * * *

America has a significant housing shortage. So tell, where are all these illegal immigrants going to bunking down once Joe Biden ushers them into American cities?

Rolando Salinas Jr., the mayor of Eagle Pass, Texas – who is a Democrat – has had it with the illegal immigrants flooding his city.

The border city of about 30,000 has become one of the most heavily-crossed areas along the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years. Salinas said one reason is because there is less cartel activity on the Mexican side of the border. Reports of 10,000 crossing illegally each day have been widely reported. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tried to stop the flow of illegal aliens at the Rio Grande River but Biden directed the Border Patrol to cut some of the razor wire installed there. The Republican governor said he “immediately deployed more Texas National Guard to the area to repel illegal crossings and install more razor wire.”

Some are in denial for political reasons. Maverick County Democratic Party chair Juanita Martinez said Republicans are “spreading this propaganda, painting a picture of our community that is absolutely false.”

No, it’s reality. Since Biden became president, the USA has released at least 2,020,522 illegal migrants encountered at the Southwest — more people than reside in 13 U.S. states. That figure doesn’t include the 1,373,155 illegal migrants who were detected entering illegally but who successfully evaded agents at the Southwest border under Biden, known as “got-aways.”

Of course, Democrats are hoping to turn Texas from red to purple to blue in hopes of forever sealing the electoral fate of a Republican from ever occupying the White House. 

Our when I asked our own Congressman John Duarte at the Sept. 11 memorial service in Ceres what the biggest security threat to the USA is now, he didn’t bat an eye, saying the border crisis: “We have people coming across the border right now every day from all over the world. These aren’t aspiring farmworkers. These are anybody and everybody who wants to pay the cartels $5,000 to come to America. They’ve actually had some on the terrorist watch list coming across the southern border so the southern border is the prime risk to Americans today.”

* * * * *

I’ve taken notice of how many problems we are having with teenagers lately. I’ve seen numerous reports of inconsiderate clusters of bike riders shutting down the streets of Modesto and not getting out of the way or riding in legal ways. We all hear about sideshows in which the inconsiderate take over streets and block peaceful motorists.

On Saturday the Lakewood Center Mall had to close because an estimated 300 rowdy juveniles gathered to cause disturbances, jump on cars, light fireworks and looted. The gathering was organized on a social media post.

If parents are so negligent in controlling their children, perhaps it’s time the schools spent some time explaining how to be civil and how disruptions cost their parents more in the way of extra costs – and really tick off the general populace.

* * * * *

To the two racist buffoons who tainted Monday’s council meeting with their childish remarks during Zoom calls, please seek some professional counseling. Normal people don’t engage in patently offensive stunts like you two did. 

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation.  How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at