Nel's New Day

February 27, 2019

U.S. House Keeps Busy Despite Jim Jordan’s Complaints

For people who have been watching the situation with former fixer Michael Cohen for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his testimony today before the House Oversight Committee held few surprises. Points from today:

  • Republican committee members did not try to refute anything he said; they just tried to smear him.
  • The GOP smears against Cohen—that he’s a “pathological liar”—can also be said about DDT, the man who Republicans were defending.
  • Cohen said that he had tried to cover for DDT during the past ten years in the same way that Republicans are doing now.
  • With this comment about protection, he added, “The more people that suffer Donald Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I did.”
  • Reporters following DDT in Vietnam for his meeting with North Korea president Kim Jong-Un were banned from his presence after asking questions about the Cohen testimony.

Pieces of Cohen’s testimony that many people already assumed:

  • DDT is a “racist,” “conman,” and “cheat.”
  • Cohen quoted DDT as saying that black people were “too stupid” to vote for him and during a drive through a poor section of Chicago said that “only black people could live that way.” Cohen added, “The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘shitholes.’ “In private, he is even worse.”
  • Cohen has checks (which he produced), evidence “as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud,” directed by his son and the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg, to quiet a former adult film actor.
  • DDT told Cohen to lie about his affair with the actor to his wife, Melania.
  • Cohen said he presided over “several” “catch-and-kill” arrangements between David Pecker and DDT for the National Enquirer to purchase exclusive rights for stories damaging to DDT and then suppress the stories.
  • DDT inflated his wealth to appear on lists of rich people rich lists and falsely reduce it to avoid paying taxes.
  • To a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cohen said that DDT’s tax returns would be helpful in showing how DDT sharply reduced his tax costs by undervaluing his parents’ real estate holdings.
  • Cohen believes that DDT’s tax returns were not being audited in 2016 although that’s what DDT claimed.
  • DDT told Cohen that he didn’t release his tax returns because he might get audited and face big taxes and penalties.
  • Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks for the release of hacked Democratic party emails during the 2016 presidential election.
  • DDT knew about the June 2017 Trump Tower meeting among members of his campaign with a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
  • DDT used his charity’s money to pay for portrait of himself after driving up the price to impress people.

Cohen finished his testimony by saying:

“Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

Cohen’s described DDT as a mobster-like president, who told Cohen to shortchange suppliers, keep schools from releasing his student grades by threatening them, and deal with negative media about DDT’s Vietnam War draft dodging. Cohen said he had probably threatened a person because of DDT’s instructions at least 500 times. “Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not make his country great,” said Cohen. “He ran to market himself and build his wealth and power.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is under investigation by the Florida Bar because of a tweet that appears to be an attempt to intimidate DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen the day before he started his open testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Gaetz’s tweet:

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), a former DA and federal prosecutor, asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Gaetz’s tweet because it “clearly defines witness tampering and intimidation.” Her request that could lead to an official investigation and possibly a reprimand, censure or fine. An expulsion would require a two-thirds majority of the House. Asked about why he wrote the tweet, Gaeta said, “The tweet speaks for itself.” Later he deleted the tweet and apologized for sending it.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) during the hearing, falsely accusing him of using his first hearing to start removing DDT from office. Cummings ended the session by talking about the committee’s earlier hearings. The first hearing was on January 29, 2019 concerned the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs; Cummings noted that a young man had died because of these escalating costs. He also told Jordan that they had a hearing on H.R. 1, which was about voter suppression and executive branch ethics. That one was on February 6, 2019. “We can do more than one thing,” Cummings said. “And we have got to get back to normal.” The GOP House was notable for not having hearings before votes.

Credibly accused of ignoring sexual abuse of athletes while he was assistant coach at Ohio State University, Jordan’s accusations of Cohen’s lying and lack of remorse rang hollow to many watchers. Jordan claimed that Cummings had “stacked the deck against the truth” and ranted about Hillary Clinton conspiracies, calling Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis a “Clinton operative.” Then he raged about Democrats doing what Tom Steyer tells them and that Steyer had organized a town hall in Cummings’ Maryland district.

Asked if he believed Cohen, Cummings referenced his history with the law when he said he found him “credible” and that it “appears” that DDT committed a crime. Cummings added, “I think that there are still a number of shoes to drop.”

The House has been far busier than Republicans might like. This week, representatives passed a resolution to overturn DDT’s emergency declaration that takes money for various sources to build his wall without congressional approval. Thirteen Republicans voted with Democrats in the 245-182 vote. According to law, the Senate will be required to vote on the House resolution within 18 days, a March 18 deadline. Three GOP senators—Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Thom Tillis (NC)— have indicated they will vote for the House bill, and others are questioning the sensibility of the national emergency, especially if a future president is a Democrat. Two more GOP votes are needed for a simple majority if all Democrats and independents vote in favor of it. A veto from DDT for any bill passed requires two-thirds support in each congressional chamber.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), ranking member of the Committee on Rules, read a complaint about the lack of time for representatives to review the 70-word bill although Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion, 1,097-page tax bill a few hours after it was completed.

The House also passed a bipartisan bill requiring all gun sellers to conduct background checks on firearm sales by a 240-190. With five GOP co-sponsors, the bill received eight GOP votes and lost two Democrat votes. It expands background checks on private sales, including those at gun shows, on the internet, and through classified ads. The bill is the first significant gun control vote since the Senate failed to pass similar bipartisan legislation in 2013. Another bill is due for a vote that would extend the review period on gun sales.

Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee voted to subpoena the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services for documents about the separation of families at the southern border. Cummings said that the documents submitted to the committee were not sufficient and failed to answer committee questions. Two Republicans, Justin Amash (MI) and Chip Roy (TX), voted with Democrats for the subpoenas. Again Jordan attacked Cummings, saying: “You just wanted to be first.” Cummings pointed out that the request was the same as the bipartisan request from eight months ago.

Other House actions:

The House is doing a lot to make Jim Jordan angry.

March 13, 2015

Dueling Gun Bills in Congress

Proposed gun laws have been mostly flying under the radar with the wild debacles of the new GOP-controlled Congress, but congressional members on both sides of the issue are proposing gun laws. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), whose career took a radical shift after she was seriously wounded by a shooter four years ago, went Capital Hill to support reintroduction of legislation in the House to strengthen background checks for gun buyers.  Co-sponsor Peter King of New York has been joined by three other Republicans.

The federal bill would require background checks on private sales at gun shows, over the Internet, and through classified ads, transactions during which a check is not usually run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It would also strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by providing states with incentives to improve reporting of criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to be included in the system’s database. Giving exceptions to transfers between family and friends, the bill would make misuse of gun-sale records a felony.

The NRA hit a new low when it tweeted its ridicule of the disabled woman, “Gabby Giffords: Everyone Should Have to Pass Background Check My Attacker Passed.” The gunman who massacred Giffords and others in Arizona had passed a background check, but Giffords was not supporting the law because it would have stopped that shooter. Law enforcement and criminal justice experts think background checks would reduce gun violence. Congress couldn’t pass sensible gun laws with a majority of Democrats, and it certainly won’t do it with a GOP majority. The NRA stupidity was a meaningless cheap shot.

Meanwhile Giffords’ home state has passed a bill removing bans on sawed-off shotguns and gun silencers. The new governor has not signed the bill yet but is expected to do so. Because of the state’s loose laws, Guns & Ammo magazine has awarded Arizona “best state for gun owners” during the last two years. Arizona plans to get the award for the coming year with pending laws such as preventing cities and towns from enforcing federal gun laws and allowing guns into such public buildings such as libraries so that people can protect themselves.

On the other side, GOP members in Congress, some of them the same people who thought that it was a good idea to undermine the president by communicating directly with the Iranian ayatollah, have again brought up the gun reciprocity bill allowing concealed carry in any state of the nation with a permit from just one state. Co-sponsor Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) compared gun permits to driver’s licenses. He is a strong states-rights legislator—until a federal law gives him what he wants.

After Cornyn justified the law with a comparison between driver’s licenses and gun permits, columnist Gail Collins pointed out the difference. She wrote that people can probably exhibit “a certain level of accomplishment when it comes to the basics of stopping, starting and steering.” On the other hand, those in Mississippi with gun permits have exhibited only proof that they can fill out applications. Virginia has only an online course, and Florida gives permits to people who live anywhere in the U.S. if they contribute $112 to the Florida economy. In 2007, the Sun Sentinel discovered that over 1,400 of these contributors had pled guilty or no contest to felonies and still received permits. In the same six-month period, Florida gun permits were given to 216 people with outstanding warrants, 28 people with active domestic violence injunctions against them, and six registered sex offenders. States with lax gun laws have given the NRA almost everything they want. The NRA will use a potential federal law to raise more money.

open carry

Even staunch NRA member Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is opposing a NRA-backed bill in his state that would eliminate any permits or training for carrying concealed guns. The bill passed both the state House and Senate. These are the people who would be carrying guns in any state if the reciprocity law passes.

In Ann Arbor (MI), 22-year-old Joshua Wade thought it was a good idea to open carry his revolver and ammunition to his younger sister’s choir performance. Although a teacher called the police, they couldn’t do anything because Michigan permits open carry everywhere. Ann Arbor Public Schools reviewed their gun policies and issued a state of concern about what had happened. At the next meeting, Wade and 25 of his friends came to openly display their loaded guns. Most of the 200 teachers, parents, and other residents, didn’t want guns in their schools, and 40 of them spoke out against open carry in schools. Wade told the crowd that carrying guns in schools “just makes sense.” They laughed at him. After he quit spouting nonsense, Ann Arbor’s school board passed a resolution demanding that Michigan’s legislature let them to ban guns in schools.

Wade’s cause isn’t helped by another incident in Michigan when Shawn Nixon of the Hell’s Saints Open Carry Group carried his gun around a school in Madison Heights and started a confrontation with police. Terrified teachers, students, and administrators went on lockdown. Proud of his behavior, Nixon posted a YouTube of his actions. One of his statements was “I don’t have to answer your questions, I’m not under arrest, but you do have to answer my questions, you’re public servants and my tax dollars pay you.” Mom’s Demand Action For Gun Sense In America and Everytown For Gun Safety are using clips from Nixon’s YouTube to show the need for stronger and common sense gun laws.

The far-right NRA is now being attacked by farther-right group Glenn Beck who demanded that anti-tax Grover Norquist not be allowed on the NRA board. According to Beck, Norquist is a front man for the Muslim Brotherhood and is therefore “a very bad man.” NRA’s Wayne LaPierre said that thousands of members are threatening to cancel, causing LaPierre to investigate Norquist and publish the results on the NRA website.

U.S. Air Force Sharpshooter Michael Wimberly has a message for the people who want unlimited rights to carry a gun anywhere with no training. As a child in Texas, he was trained that the only reason for a gun is to kill.

“The mentality of many gun owners today is a far cry from what I knew growing up. What is heard from open-carry fans seems to be a fascination with guns — a swagger-inspired fascination that possessing a pistol in a public forum will make everyone safe. The chutzpah of open-carry advocates: We will be the protectors against the bad guy!

“But I wonder: When the bullets fly, will police know who is the good guy? Maybe one will be a hero and then again maybe not when others pull their guns and begin to fire. Hero-seekers are a danger to themselves and others.”

If the reciprocity law passes Congress with a veto-proof vote, more and more people like George Zimmerman will wander the country causing millions of dollars in protecting those who don’t know if it’s the “good guy” or the “bad guy with a gun.”

Wimberly described his concern when he sees someone with a firearm in public: “Something tells me you fail to appreciate the wisdom of the 1890 Texas Legislature, which passed the no-carry law that served us well for 125 years. Lawmakers of the day had the keen understanding about what they were doing and why.” Texas wasn’t the only place with gun sense. During the 19th century, Dodge City, Wichita, Tombstone–indeed all of Wyoming–had gun ordinances that prohibited carrying guns in town.

The Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The meaning of the Second Amendment: you can bear your arms, but you need to be trained, and carrying those arms is to be regulated by the government.

March 6, 2014

Change the Culture of Guns

Smoking was really cool, a half century ago, until people found out that the tobacco industry was lying and that tobacco was a horrifying public health issue. As the 21st century started, guns were cool. How did the people in the United States break the stranglehold that corporations held over lawmakers despite the favoritism that courts show the gun industry? They changed the culture. As more and more people learned that tobacco use kills, they pushed legislators into laws protecting people. In the same way, people can loosen the gun industry’s draconian hold on today’s lawmakers.

A tiny chink in the gun culture came yesterday with the announcement that Facebook will no longer post sales of weapons without background checks. The company’s spokesman, Matt Steinfeld, announced that Facebook had been working on curtailing illegal gun trafficking “for quite a while,” but the recent petitions on the Internet from Moms Demand Action and a coalition of other groups may have pushed them.

The social network will no longer allow posts for sales with “no background check required” or promises to send firearms across state lines without a licensed dealer. Another guideline is limiting minors’ access to pages and posts selling guns.

The National Rifle Association threatened retaliation for Facebook’s mandating legal gun sales. The executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, said, “The NRA enjoys 150 times more support on Facebook than Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns.” He added, “NRA members and our supporters will continue to have a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of their Second Amendment rights.”

Members of Facebook’s “Guns for Sale” described the rules as unconstitutional and unnecessary although children and people without IDs can locate sales of assault rifles, handguns, shotguns, etc. in as little as 15 minutes on Facebook. The administrator of “Guns for Sale” did “support the idea of keeping guns out of the hands of children and dangerous people (i.e. criminals who aren’t allowed to own them).”

The same rules will be implemented on Instagram, owned by Facebook. Steinfeld said that monitoring will rely on complaints and send messages telling people who post “to comply with relevant laws and regulations.” A weak start, but a start.

Other facts to help change the culture of “cool” guns:

Having guns in the house make women less safe. A new study shows that higher rates of gun availability are correlated with higher rates of female homicide, especially notable because women in the United States account for 84 percent of all female firearm victims in the world. Men with guns claim that women need firepower to keep the weaker sex safe, but more than twice as many women are killed by husbands or partners than are murdered by strangers who use guns, knives, or other means of killing.

In one study, two-thirds of battered women were threatened with death by an intimate partner with a gun. Even if women use guns to protect themselves from abusive husbands, they are likely to end up in prison for many years as shown by the case of Marissa Alexander in Florida. She only fired a warning shot to protect herself, but she may have a 60-year sentence after fighting the 20-year prison term awarded her. At the same time, George Zimmerman walks free while he threatens the women in his life.

A 2005 study found that men killed themselves after shooting and killing their partners in two-thirds of the cases. Just one example is a Texas police officer who shot and killed his 42-year-old wife last week before he killed himself with the shotgun he had bought her. Sgt. Nick Pitofsky had posted an online video days earlier about buying a shotgun so that Vanessa, his wife of only three years, could protect himself.

Texas cop

Children are more likely to be killed by guns in the United States. In the U.S., children and teenagers are four times more likely to die by gunfire than in Canada, seven times more likely than young people in Israel, and 65 times more likely than children and teenagers in the United Kingdom. Children from 5 to 14 years old are also more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries, suicides, and homicides if they live in states or regions with more rather than fewer guns.

Gun injuries are increasing. Some people argue that the number of deaths from guns is not increasing. No one can know if this is accurate because the NRA has blocked the keeping of accurate statistics. Even if this statement is true (which is unknown), injuries have increased 25 percent within the last decade.

Tough state laws are negatively impacted by other states with lax laws. In Massachusetts, where gun laws are among the most strict in the country, more than half the guns seized and traced in 2012 came from out of state. Federal agent Dale Armstrong compared the problem to barnacles:  “You know, one barnacle on the bottom of your boat’s not a problem. But the collective of a thousand barnacles on the bottom of your boat are a real big problem. They’re hard work to scrape off, nobody wants to help you do it.”

Massachusetts law requires that sales be reported to the state within seven days and a license to carry from local police that requires a background check. In surrounding states such as New Hampshire and Maine, private sales, even at a gun show, require neither background check nor record of the transaction. Not even identification. The law makes it illegal for a prohibited person, such as a felon, to buy a gun, the the seller doesn’t have any responsibility for selling to the person. In 2012, only three states, including Massachusetts, had the majority of seized guns traced to out of state sales.

Market forces could control gun industry. In Miami-Dade County, law enforcement may affect gun manufacturers by requiring them to show how they keep guns from those who are ineligible or “straw buyers” who buy guns to sell them illegally. Organizations such as Arms with Ethics are hoping that this practice catches on across the country in which law enforcement agencies spend over $1 billion for firearms.

At this time, lawmakers give more rights to guns than people, especially women and children. A common phrase is “Children are our future,” but legislators follow the mantra, “Guns are our future.” The people who promote open purchases of weapons with no background checks or registrations care more about a piece of metal that is designed only to destroy and kill than they do for the people who are devastated by shootings. Instead of strengthening protections from guns, most states have made their laws more lax, allowing more guns into the hands of felons and the mentally ill.

The NRA opposes even laws requiring trigger locks and safes for their guns. An example of NRA control is the removal of a provision requiring gun owners to report stolen weapons from a Missouri bill. Instead, Missouri is again considering a law that would remove any laws that would stop anyone from owning guns.

Those who cry Second Amendment rights want unlimited ownership and refuse to believe statistics about the dangers of gun ownership. They need to follow their own advice and not accept the statistics that they use to justify their positions that promote the injuries and deaths of innocent people.

As Tom Diaz wrote in The Last Gun:

“Like the tobacco industry before it, the American gun industry and its lobby have successfully employed political intimidation, the crassest form of flag-waving propaganda, and mass-marketing techniques appealing to fear and loathing to prevent being called to account for the public health disaster it has inflicted on America and to avoid meaningful regulation.”

The next chink in the culture war against unlimited gun ownership might be the protests against Visa’s business partnership with the NRA. Members of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence argue that the purchases made with the NRA Visa card help fund the campaign to block stronger gun protections, including expanded federal background checks for firearm purchases. NRA’s website states that it has raised over $20 million from its affiliation with Visa. It underlines NRA’s sole purpose for existing: money.

February 9, 2013

Desperate McConnell Lies about Background Checks

American Crossroads has fired the opening salvo in Kentucky over a possibility of Ashley Judd running for the Senate in 2014 when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s term is up. Judd hasn’t declared, but Karl Rove’s conservative super PAC has dropped $10,000 into a Web-only ad pointing out she lives in Tennessee, works as an actress, and—horrors—campaigned for President Obama.

McConnell is trying to look as if his campaign is separate from the attack ads. His campaign manager Jesse Benton said, “We’re just focused on building an elite campaign and talking to Kentucky voters about Senator McConnell’s tremendous leadership.” Yet the two are connected through the Crossroads’ president, Steven Law, who has also served as McConnell’s chief of staff. Law also managed McConnell’s first re-election campaign in 1990 and later served as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose purpose is to get GOP senators elected and re-elected.

McConnell’s desperation shows up in his campaign’s fundraising email:

“There are almost too many schemes to list. But President Obama’s worst center around:… a thinly-veiled national gun registration scheme hidden under the guise of ‘background checks’ to ensure federal government minders gain every bureaucratic tool they need for full-scale confiscation…. It is almost hard to believe the sheer breadth and brazenness of this attempt to gut our Constitution.”

One can expect the NRA to make a statement like this. But coming from McConnell, it brought out the fact checkers who make the senator look pretty bad. Washington Post wrote that nothing in the president’s plan creates a national gun registration scheme; it simply extends the current Brady law rule on background checks to all firearm sales. In fact, current law specifically prohibits using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to create a federal firearms registry and requires that all records be destroyed within 24 hours.

McConnell knows this because he first served on the committee that wrote the law and then was one of only 17 GOP senators to vote for the law. More than that, he signed a letter about the firearms database prohibition, saying it should be made permanent rather than lasting for just one year as most language in appropriations bills does.  Thus The Washington Post gives McConnell four Pinocchios, the award for biggest lie regarding gun background checks.

pinocchio_4

Republicans are fond of using Ronald Reagan as an example for good government in the 21st century. They should heed his op-ed piece from March 29, 1991, explaining the importance of the Brady Bill:

“While there has been a Federal law on the books for more than 20 years that prohibits the sale of firearms to felons, fugitives, drug addicts and the mentally ill, it has no enforcement mechanism and basically works on the honor system, with the purchaser filling out a statement that the gun dealer sticks in a drawer.

“The Brady bill would require the handgun dealer to provide a copy of the prospective purchaser’s sworn statement to local law enforcement authorities so that background checks could be made. Based upon the evidence in states that already have handgun purchase waiting periods, this bill–on a nationwide scale–can’t help but stop thousands of illegal handgun purchases.

“And, since many handguns are acquired in the heat of passion (to settle a quarrel, for example) or at times of depression brought on by potential suicide, the Brady bill would provide a cooling-off period that would certainly have the effect of reducing the number of handgun deaths.

“Critics claim that “waiting period” legislation in the states that have it doesn’t work, that criminals just go to nearby states that lack such laws to buy their weapons. True enough, and all the more reason to have a Federal law that fills the gaps. While the Brady bill would not apply to states that already have waiting periods of at least seven days or that already require background checks, it would automatically cover the states that don’t. The effect would be a uniform standard across the country.

“Even with the current gaps among states, those that have waiting periods report some success. California, which has a 15-day waiting period that I supported and signed into law while Governor, stopped nearly 1,800 prohibited handgun sales in 1989. New Jersey has had a permit-to-purchase system for more than two decades. During that time, according to the state police, more than 10,000 convicted felons have been caught trying to buy handguns.”

The NRA leaders and the “no gun laws” proponents repeat, ad nauseum, that all the government needs to do is enforce current laws. Yet our laws allow websites, the largest being Armslist, to advertise guns for sale with no checks. Investigators discovered that 54 percent of these sellers were openly willing to sell firearms to people who admitted that they couldn’t pass a background check.

New York City’s 2011 investigation found more than 25,000 weapons for sale on just 10 websites.  Jon Lowy, director of the legal action project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said, “The last figure we have is 40 percent of gun sales take place without a background check. That figure is probably low, because it dates from before the advent of the thriving internet market.”

According to John Feinblatt, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chief policy adviser, the number of guns offered on these ten websites sites grew 68 percent from 2011 to 2012. “Just as gun shows have been a problem because criminals know they can buy guns without detection, the internet is a place where criminals, felons, and other prohibited purchasers can find a weapon,” he noted.

Feinblatt said that states without the private sale loophole and with background checks for private gun sales have 38 percent fewer women killed with guns by intimate partners than states without these safeguards. Without universal background checks even for internet sales, “we’re basically giving a free pass to criminals,” he said.

Even people at gun shows think that mandatory background checks are a good idea. An NRA volunteer from Colorado Springs summed it up: “It tends to keep the bad guys away

If Mitch McConnell wants to get re-elected, he might want to take note of the following statistics. At the end of January, 92 percent of people in the United States—and 97 percent of all women—supported universal background checks for gun purchases, according to a CBS News poll. Quinnipiac found that 92 to 95 percent of voters in Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania backed expanded background checks, including those on people purchasing their weapons at gun shows. A poll from Women’s Donor Network shows that 90 percent of women are very concerned about gun violence.

In early December, Public Policy Polling, the group that most accurately predicted the presidential election last November, found that only 37 percent of Kentucky voters approved of McConnell, the lowest approval rating among all the U.S. Senators. He was so upset about the PPP survey showing him just a few points above Ashley Judd that he paid for his own survey—and found the same percentage.

Although the GOP doesn’t provide government tracking of gun deaths in the United States, informal reports show over 1686 deaths by guns since the Newtown (CT) massacre.

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