Public Notice: Chill Out, America!

Too many stupid shootings; TGI 4/20

Mistakes happen; best intentions don't always lead to best results. But if the baseline is, you're ready to use deadly force at any time to protect yourself from the bad guys out there, then bam!, those mistakes become deadly. That's been the case in a string of high-profile gun tragedies this week: Ralph Yarl, the 16-year-old Black kid in Kansas City who was shot Thursday after ringing the wrong doorbell; Kaylin Gillis, the 20-year-old girl in New York who was shot and killed Monday after pulling into the wrong driveway; and right here in Central Texas, the two high school cheerleaders who were shot Tuesday night after opening the wrong car door in an H-E-B parking lot in Elgin.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, I can believe that each of those shooters believed in the moment that there was a legitimate reason to pull the trigger. But again, if a large number of people are primed to be ready to use deadly force "when needed," some fraction of them are going to mistakenly see such a need every once in a while. Oops. And that's not even counting people with actual bad intent.

Part of the problem is that there are just too many guns out there, and just about any lunatic can get one, in most cases perfectly legally. (No word yet on the Elgin shooter.) The Gun Violence Archive, whom we've featured many times before, keeps among other things a tally of accidental shootings, and there are so many that I couldn't find the cases I was looking for. There were nine on Monday: "thought the gun was unloaded," "showing how to disassemble; shot self in hand, friend in head, killing her," "child picked up gun, shot self; child died in hospital," "conducting safety training," "accidentally shot friend while clearing gun" ...

But a big part of the problem as well is attitude – the expectation that a kid knocking on your door is going to harm you, the feeling that your community is under siege by people who are not like you, and that just about half of the people in the country are either idiots, or plain evil. I blame right-wing media for a lot of that, especially the more violent side, though the left is to blame as well. The sad thing is, hate and fear are easy things to sell, and easy flames to fan. And it's created a country that's just way too stressed out.

So thank god it's 4/20 today.

Everyone needs to chill out. Just sit down and smoke pot together, and talk about things, like humans do. You don't shoot people after you talk to them for a while and get to know them, and share a bong. Every time I drive through a rural Texas county, I'm struck with complete wonderment that 80% of these people actually voted for Donald Trump, and likely would again. And then I smoke another joint, and stop for some barbecue, and everything's cool. People are surprisingly friendly and helpful. So that's my plan, and I'm gonna go get ready now. Meanwhile, here's a smattering of 4/20-themed news.


Photo via Getty Images

Registration is now open for HIACON 2023, the Hemp Industries Association's annual general meeting, which is in Austin this year: Aug. 28-30 at the DoubleTree hotel, presented by Hometown Heroes. It's "an exciting opportunity to come together with industry leaders, hemp farmers and entrepreneurs who are blazing a brilliant path toward creating a prosperous future for U.S.-based hemp industries." Early bird registration is $350, $265 for members, through April 30. More info at hiacon.org.


Today's Austin City Council meeting includes a notable item, timely for Earth Day, "directing the City Manager to create a plan and implementation schedule to transition the City to sustainable low-embodied-carbon concrete," seeing as concrete, and specifically the cement used in it, is a huge contributor to climate change, and city planners are spraying it around all over the place these days (especially in parks, it seems). But if we really wanted to get serious about the issue, we'd start using hempcrete, which the University of British Columbia chose as its primary building material for a new 2,400-square-foot building called Third Space Commons. It was built "with a goal to reach near-zero 'embodied carbon' – the total amount of CO2 emissions associated with the production, transportation, and disposal of a material or product," according to an article this week in Hemp Today. The project has already won an award for its work in carbon accounting, and will be entered in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Build Challenge.


A recent article in Forbes called the hemp industry's prospects "truly exciting," especially in view of recent court rulings legalizing compounds like Delta-8 THC and elements of the new farm bill currently being developed in Congress, which could bump the legal THC limit to 1%, and liberalize other current restrictions. (See more about the farm bill here.)


UK-based capital transition firm Martello has developed the first global standard for hemp carbon credits and has "announced its entry into the global voluntary carbon markets (VCM) with the issuance of its first round of carbon credits," according to the Carbon Herald.


Regular readers of this column may have noticed my predilection for lists – in particular those oddities titled "Best City to ..." In the past, I've written about Austin's rankings in everything from Best Place to Rent (not great, due to the cost of living) to Best Place to Be a Vampire (also not great, due to all the sunshine and the general lack of basements). So imagine my excitement, as 4/20 neared, to find in my inbox a missive list from the distinguished research firm Lawnstarter, promising 2023's Best Cities to Get Stoned. Okay, then imagine my disappointment at finding that the rankings included only cities "where adult recreational marijuana use is legal." Come on, now. I want a recount. Austin, Texas, is a better place to get stoned than Bridgeport, Conn. (No. 104; pot's legal, but no dispensaries have opened at press time) or even Washington, D.C. (No. 11; dispensaries can't sell pot, but if you know how to ask for it, they can "gift" it to you if you buy certain merchandise in their store). Oh, Lawnstarter, I'm starting to lose confidence in you.


For more about 4/20, see the listings section and "Mr. Smarty Pants."


In other drug-related news, next Saturday, April 22, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Travis County Constable offices will collect your unwanted or expired prescription drugs from 10am to 2pm, to divert them from landfills and water and waste systems.Constable Pct. 1: 4717 Heflin Ln. #127Constable Pct. 2: 10409 Burnet Rd. #150Constable Pct. 3: 8656-B Hwy. 71 W. #132Constable Pct. 4: 4011 McKinney Falls Pkwy. #1100Constable Pct. 5: 1003 Guadalupe


Preservation Austin holds their 30th annual Homes Tour this Sat.-Sun., April 22-23, showcasing 11 homes, "from 19th-century treasures to a mid-century modern gem." Tickets are $50, $40 for members, at preservationaustin.org, or on tour days, 10am-5pm at any of the featured homes.

Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful grist to nbarbaro at austinchronicle.com.

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