Nel's New Day

March 16, 2019

DDT: Week 112 – U.S. Become a ‘Banana Republic’

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has given the people of the United States a bad week. He began with a cruel budget for most of the people in the U.S. while he waited days to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8, the same model responsible for killing 157 people on an Ethiopian airline and another 189 people in Indonesia’s Java Sea. Then he promised violence if Democrats continue investigations into his financial and political affairs and moved on to be called the “symbol of renewed white supremacy and common purpose” by the terrorist who killed 49 people and wounded dozens of others in two New Zealand mosques. Despite the defection of 12 GOP senators who voted against his national emergency wall building order, DDT vetoed the bill.

Under DDT, the U.S. has a new policy on human rights. In the introduction to “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018,” State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo wrote:

“The policy of this administration is to engage with other governments, regardless of their record, if doing so will further U.S. interests.”

This official document clarifies any doubt about whether DDT bases his policies on making money. The report ignores women’s rights and refers to the Palestinian land of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” instead of Israeli-occupied.  As a continuation of his opposition to human rights, Pompeo and DDT are revoking or denying visas for all International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. officials or key allies, including Israelis, for potential war crimes tied to U.S. war in Afghanistan.

DDT waited 11 hours to make a brief statement about the Islamophobic killings in New Zealand after eleven hours and failed to mention Muslims, but he had time to send a supportive email about anti-Muslim, racist Breitbart.com. He referred to “sacred places” and said that the U.S. will be there for New Zealand “one hundred percent” before he launched into terrorizing U.S. people about the “invasion” at the southern border of the United States, using the same inflammatory word as the New Zealand killer when he referred to non-European peoples. DDT then announced a March 28 MAGA rally which will undoubtedly spew more hate.

The New Zealand killer was able to stream his horrific acts live on Facebook for 17 minutes until he was finally shut down, and Sky New Zealand was forced to pull Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp from its channel until Sky News Australia stopped broadcasting these scenes. Facebook has more problems after its massive failure last week and streaming of mass shootings as federal prosecutors began a criminal investigation into its proposed deals on top of 150 others, many with huge companies. Deals allowed Microsoft Bing to map friends of all Facebook users without their consent and permitted Amazon to get names and contact information through their friends. The FTC, SEC, and DOJ securities fraud unit are also scrutinizing Facebook owner, Mark Zuckerberg. In addition, two top Facebook executives, the companies #3 and the head of WhatsApp, left because they disagreed with Zuckerberg about a single private platform with FB, Instagram, WhatsApp, and FB Messenger. Other long-time high-level employees started leaving.

DDT’s supporters disagree that he is the “symbol … of white supremacy,” but his statement that white nationalism isn’t a growing problem negates any idea that he might be concerned about reality. Again, he and his officials such as Kellyanne Conway attribute the Islamophobic murders to just “one crazed person,” and DDT said white supremacist actions comes from “a small group of people.” Data supported by the FBI shows that white supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed far more people in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist. White nationalist hate groups grew 50 percent between 2017 and 2018.

Major DDT-era white supremacist terrorist attacks and plots include a white nationalist U.S. Coast Guard officer’s plot to murder hundreds of prominent Democrats, the series of mail bombs from a white supremacist to key Democrats, the slaughter of 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, an older black couple randomly killed in a Kentucky supermarket, and the murder of Heather Heyer at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (VA). The New Zealand killer’s 74-page “The Great Manifesto” follows the white supremacy protesters in Charlottesville. The weaker the gun laws, the more mass shootings; therefore the New Zealand killer had to go from his home in Australia to commit this carnage. New Zealand has promised to pass gun safety laws; the U.S. cries “horrible” after some mass shootings and moves on with no action.

DDT’s stall in grounding the 787 Max 8 and 9 jets caused controversy, partly because of the close relationship between the federal government and Boeing. FAA’s acting director Daniel Elwell, who postponed the grounding, worked for Boeing’s trade association, and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is a former executive for that company. Boeing gave $1 million to DDT’s inaugural committee. Political pressure from Boeing include a lobbying call to DDT the day before the crash. Dozens of other countries took action far sooner than the U.S. George Conway, husband of DDT official Kellyanne Conway, said that DDT’s inaction was a further indication of the U.S. becoming a “banana republic.”

Ethiopian officials have such little trust in the U.S. that they sent the black box to France to get more information about the crash. Boeing failed to sufficiently train pilots on the computer system of the new model by convincing the FAA that the planes were similar to older models. U.S. airlines reported that they still don’t have training flight simulators for this specific model although airlines in other countries have them available.

DDT’s 35-day government shutdown may have played a part in killing the 157 people on the Ethiopian plane. After the October disaster on the same model, Boeing began a software fix for the plane, but the shutdown delayed agreement on how extensive the technical and engineering software enhancement of sensors should be. Thousands of aviation inspectors were furloughed for almost four weeks. FAA has said that the update delay was not a problem because its experts and Boeing saw no imminent safety threat. Rachel Maddow reported on other difficulties with this plane model and others that did not result in crashes but had the same problem with automated systems pulling the nose down when the plane should be ascending after takeoff.

Last Sunday’s news shows universally ignored DDT’s scandal about his friend Li “Cindy” Yang, former owner of a massage parlor involved in a sex trafficking ring, who has sold DDT access to Chinese business executive and Chinese government officials. Yang has connections with two groups directly tied to the Chinese Communist Party. Mainstream TV failed to report on the issue although their nightly newscasts in 1998 and 199 devoted 2,528 minutes to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky as well as more coverage of his other scandals.

In a court filing, New York’s AG Letitia James asked a judge to order DDT’s Trump Foundation to pay $2.8 million in restitution and a $5.6 million penalty for his making the so-called charity into part of his campaign. DDT has already shut down and distributed its $1.7 million to nonprofits. He would be lucky not to be indicted for these illegal activities. When DDT tells supporters on his campaign trail, “I really need you to vote for me,” his plea has more than one meaning.

Other Bits:

In addition to 12 Republican senators joining Democrats in a resolution to overturn DDT’s wall-building emergency executive order, six GOP senators voted in favor of a War Powers resolution to eliminate U.S. military support for the assault on Yemen in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. More about that in a few days.

In another ongoing war issue, DDT is pulling U.S. diplomats from Venezuela, indicating an escalation on his attacks against the country. The New York Times has exposed U.S. government lies about the country’s president responsibility for burning trucks carrying supplies for humanitarian aid. Any official U.S. reports about the fires disappeared with the revelation that anti-Maduro protesters threw a molotov cocktail that hit one of the trucks.

Paul Manafort got off easy with the first sentencing and moderately with the second—total 7.5 years—but New York has charged him with 16 state felony charges. DDT can’t pardon state convictions.

A New York court is permitting a civil defamation suit against DDT by Summer Zervos, citing a 1997 Supreme Court ruling against Bill Clinton. Right now, the president is not above the law.

Since DDT’s inauguration, fines over $5,000 from the federal consumer agencies have dropped 37 percent. Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency was the worst in not prosecuting crimes. “Tough on crime” doesn’t apply to consumer protection.

In a 23-minute video, Rachel Maddow reports on how DHS tracks the menses of unaccompanied minor immigrant girls under their control to keep them from having abortions. DHS, however, can’t provide numbers about separations, numbers of children in detention, illnesses, or deaths.

After a strong February, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has dipped four percentage points, to 39%, matching his rating from December at the start of the 35-day partial government shutdown.

July 16, 2014

Archie Andrews One of 2014 Gun Statistics

archie diesArchie Andrews, 73, died from a gun shot today because he protected his friend Sen. Kevin Keller from an assassination attempt. Anyone who has read comic books for the past seven decades knows Archie, from DC Comics Life with Archie. In this way, Archie Comics and co-CEO Jon Goldwater brings the issue of senseless gun deaths to entertainment media.

The first gay character in the Archie Comics series, Keller is a married military veteran and newly elected senator. He pushed for more gun control after his husband, Clay, was involved in a shooting while trying to prevent a robbery. Today’s #36 shows the killing; #37 will show Archie’s friends paying tribute to his legacy one year later.

Goldwater said that the comic’s plotline was not a publicity stunt but a way to educate readers about gun violence.

Superheroes such as Marvel’s Spiderman and Captain America have died, but Archie has always been like the person living next door. Goldwater thinks that Archie’s death has more impact because he’s human—“he bleeds.” Archie may bleed only on the pages of a comic book, but he represents the tens of thousands of people who bleed and die each year because of the nation’s lax gun laws and a misguided approach toward patriotism.

Exactly how many people die from gun shots each year in the United States is impossible to know because the NRA and the gun industry have coerced Congress into preventing the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from compiling national statistics on gun-related deaths and injuries. To overcome this ignorance, Jennifer Mascia, assistant editor for the New York Times, has attempted to collect these statistics by gathering the information state by state for Joe Nocera’s The Gun Report.

In examining over 40,000 deaths from guns since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that Mascia could find, she discovered that half the shootings came from arguments, frequently fueled by alcohol, among friends, neighbors, family members, and intimate partners. More and more, people solve their problems with guns, not fists. Loaded guns are easily accessible, many times to children who shoot themselves or each others. Suburbs are the new magnet for gun violence

Mascia also discovered:

  • In Iowa, it’s easier to sell a gun than lemonade.
  • In Arkansas, it takes less time to buy a gun than to qualify for food stamps.
  • In Arizona, you need a permit to cut hair, but not to carry a concealed weapon.
  • In Florida you’re fingerprinted to be a substitute teacher, but not to buy or carry a gun.
  • It’s easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to vote.

guns-and-government different countriesJapan averages four—yes, four!–gun murders per year although its population is 41 percent of that in the United States. If our gun deaths were equal to those in Japan, the United States would have ten each year. Getting a firearm in Japan requires a massive amount or paperwork, 20 hours of lectures, a written test, and a shooting class. The person must pass a criminal background check and a physical and psychological exam as well as submitting to half a dozen police interviews and more police interviews of your friends and family. Before a gun is issued the person must provide a floor map of the home with the location of the firearm’s storage and photos of locks on the gun safe. The process requires about a year. You are asked to produce a floor map of your home and indicate where a firearm will be stored, as well as photos of the locks on your gun safe. Approval usually takes a year. Even the mob in Japan doesn’t bother to get guns.

Canada requires third-party character references for gun ownership, and officials conduct interviews with an applicant’s spouse, partner, or next of kin before issuing a license. That’s before the person is required to pass a firearm safety and law class and take a practical training course. Gun-owners are required to re-apply and re-quality for their licenses every five years.

Tightened legislation in Australia after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre banned semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns. Owners of firearms must provide a reason to obtain these. The country has had no mass shooting since the legislation went into effect. Most important, suicides by guns, which cause 60 percent of adult firearm deaths, declined in Australia after the legislation.

By contrast, mass shootings have become so much “business as usual” in the U.S. that they receive less and less attention in the media. A week ago, four children as young as age four and two adults were killed in Houston’s suburb, Spring. The one survivor, a 15-year-old girl, was able to tell police where the gunman was going to kill more relatives and save their lives. Archie’s fictional death received much more press than this mass shooting.

Even ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia believes in limits on gun ownership. In District of Columbia v. Heller, he wrote, “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

The theory of a good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun has been debunked many times. At the mass shooting surrounding Gabby Giffords, a good guy almost shot the people who had already disarmed the killer. A good guy pulled his gun in Las Vegas after a man killed two police officers, but the killer’s partner shot and killed the good guy. Bad guys get their guns by grabbing them from the good guys, especially in home invasions. Many police officers, who have supposedly been highly trained, shoot themselves and others around them.

As the NRA and gun industry fight to make gun regulations more lax, people who fight any regulations such as universal background checks claim that the entire solution could come from enforcing existing laws. Cross-referencing gun checks with mental health records is required, but Montana and South Dakota submitted only three mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 2012. North Dakota and Massachusetts turned in one; Rhode Island submitted none. A year ago, only four states had laws requiring that mental health records be sent to the system, and the federal government cannot require it. NRA and the gun industry have made sure that conservatives will not support this reporting.

Other common-sense solutions have been rejected by gun enthusiasts. Smart guns activated only by the owners could stop children or intruders from discharging firearms, but gunners are so frightened by the smart guns that they threatened to kill the two vendors who tried to sell them in the U.S.

Lax laws in conservative states across the nation are creating a culture of killing others for little or no reason. People—usually men—pull guns because they don’t like a type of music or get into an argument while waiting in a line at the local pizza place. Or they accidentally shoot through walls and ceilings because of their carelessness.

Many state gun laws don’t even make the gun owners liable. Most states don’t have requirements for securing guns. In many cases, gun owners aren’t made responsible when their carelessness causes a death. For example, bad guys in early July broke into a Pennsylvania home, tied him up, and took at least 31 guns from his weapons’ stockpile. Most likely, the bad guys, who now have an additional 31 firearms, targeted the person because of the weapons. In some states, they don’t even have to report that their firearms have been stolen, allowing the bad guys an unlimited method of acquiring guns.

In a speech to the Howard County chapter of Open Carry Texas, Michael Brian Vanderboegh proposed killing voters who opposed unfettered ownership of guns. On a Fox & Friends Facebook page, Kathy Perkins, founder of Moms with Guns, posted a photo of President Obama with the statement, “Where is an assasin (sic) when you need one?” A responses suggested a way to contact a hitman.

Although they ignore other parts of the U.S. Constitution, ammosexuals consider the Second Amendment to be sacred. Their ignorance keeps them from understanding that the document has evolved during time. The original constitution allowed slavery, considered blacks to be only three-fifths of white people, and restricted voting to only white property-owning men. Their behavior is calling for changes in the Second Amendment, to return it to the original meaning of a militia.

To all the people who strut around with guns: if you’re strong enough to do this, you’re strong enough to decrease the violence from guns.

June 21, 2014

ASK, A Start to Gun Sense

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:08 PM
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In late May, a woman visited her 78-year-old neighbor in Payson (AZ) with her two small children. They wandered off into another room where the three-year-old shot and killed his 18-month-old brother.  This is just one of thousands of reasons for the national ASK campaign that kicks off today. It urges parents to ask if there is a gun where their children play. In the United States, where almost eight children are killed with guns every day, one-third of the children live in homes with guns. About 1.7 million children live in homes where firearms are kept loaded and unlocked.

Trying to ensure that the environment where children play has enraged many people, usually men, who say that it’s none of anyone else’s business if they have unlocked and loaded guns around children. This is just one piece of evidence demonstrating the extreme culture of violence throughout the United States.

Here’s more:

A man reported that an 8-year-old was firing an assault rifle in the street over the head of pedestrians. The mother explained that she had a 13-year-old babysitter and that the gun belonged to a convicted felon. No one was charged.

In Montana a man set a trap for burglars in his garage and killed a teenager after firing blindly into the building. Germany might be able to prosecute the man because the murdered teenager was a German foreign-exchange student.

Gun activists walk around Texas with loaded assault rifles, including a Target store where a loaded Glock was found among children’s toys.

Federal airport screeners have found 892 guns in carry-on bags, a 19-percent increase from last year. And 2013’s total was 1,813. About 80 percent of the guns are loaded. And all the gun owners claimed they “just forgot.”

A 15-year-old student took his older brother’s gun to school, killed another student and himself, and injured a teacher. Although the Troutdale (OR) police chief said that the gun was “secured,” it was left in the boy’s bedroom and several other guns unsecured in the home.

Two men at a surprise party in central Pennsylvania on Father’s Day were playing with a gun; the guest of honor shot another man when he tried to hand him the gun.

Justin Ayers, 33, and his wife were celebrating the birth of their three-day-old baby when a 62-year-old neighbor shot off his gun through the wall and into the back of Ayers’ head, killing him. The neighbor had a previous felony conviction.

Two of Cliven Bundy’s followers on the Nevada ranch went to Las Vegas and shot and killed two armed police officers. A third man who pulled a gun on one of them was shot and killed by the other killer.

Since the Sandy Hook massacre 19 months ago, there have been 74 shootings at school. Conservatives, backed up by CNN, even claim that some of these are not “real” school shootings because they involve drugs—sort of like their need for a “pure definition” of “real rape.” The justification is that “it’s not a school shooting when someone goes and shoots a specific person on campus. It’s a shooting that happens to take place at school.”

These stories are such the tiny tip of the iceberg. People kill other people when they hug them, when they traing them in proper usage of guns, when they try to scare them—the list goes on and on. DailyKos GunFail keeps track of disasters by week, if you have the stomach for reading them.

States with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest overall gun death rates in the nation, according to this week’s study from Violence Policy Center (VPC) using new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The inverse is true: states with the lowest overall gun death rates have lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation.

States with the Five Highest Gun Death Rates 
(Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate Per 100,000)

1 Louisiana: 45.6 percent ownership, 18.91 deaths
2 Mississippi: 54.3 percent ownership, 17.80 deaths
3 Alaska: 60.6 percent ownership, 17.41 deaths
4 Wyoming: 62.8 percent ownership, 16.92 deaths
5 Montana: 61.4 percent ownership, 16.74 deaths

 States with the Five Lowest Gun Death Rates
(Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate Per 100,000)

50 Rhode Island: 13.3 percent ownership, 3.14 deaths
49 Hawaii: 9.7 percent ownership,  3.56 deaths
48 Massachusetts: 12.8 percent ownership, 3.84 deaths
47 New York: 18.1 percent ownership, 5.11 deaths
46 New Jersey: 11.3 percent ownership, 5.46 deaths

The number of deaths even in these states, however, is intolerably high and far greater than in most Western industrialized nations. The data come from 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. You can find your state ranking here.

  • Nationwide gun death rate: 10.38 per 100,000.
  • Number of people in U.S. killed by gunfire: 32,351 in 2011 increased from 31,672 in 2010.
  • Death rates in other countries: United Kingdom, 0.23 per 100,000; Australia, 0.86 per 100,000.

Gunners now claim that they are feeling threatened, that this is the reason that they carry assault rifles into family restaurants and the baby section of Target. Others are frustrated that gun nuts give such a bad impression of gunners. BearingArms.com editor Bob Owens wrote, “If someone has an idea of how to break through to them that they are not only hurting their alleged cause but gun owners as well, I’d love to hear your advice.”

Several comments to Owens agreed. Larry Nutter  wrote, “A person with a long gun is actually carrying a, ‘shoot me first sign’ but don’t realize it.” David Deering added, “Can any sensible person really think a bunch of guys who look like they just escaped from their parent’s basement carrying long guns is a good way to convince anyone to have a positive outlook toward gun owners?”

People in the United States are slowly—very slowly—beginning to protest the overt display of violence. Chains such as Starbucks, Chipotle, Chili’s, Sonic and Jack in the Box have stated that open-carry customers aren’t welcome in their business as have Costco, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Food Lion, Whole Foods, and IKEA. One woman who made a video of the Open Carry men so shamed them that they erased the video of the event on their website. Fortunately, Mother Jones had saved it for posterity.

The backlash after Sandy Hook caused the introduction of over 1,500 bills with the lax ones initially gaining more ground. Georgia passed a law allowing guns almost everywhere in the state, and Indiana legalized shooting police officers.

Gun sense prevailed elsewhere: New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Colorado, California, and Rhode Island all require background checks for all gun sales. Four states also require gun owners to report lost and stolen weapons. Wisconsin added four other states that prevent domestic abusers from owning or possessing guns.

In a reversal of previous anti-gun sense decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the buyer of guns have to actually be the buyer of guns, not a person who will turn around and pass it off to another person. In 2009, former police officer Bruce James Abramski, Jr. of Collinsville (VA) lied on his federal form about buying a gun for himself because it was actually for his uncle. As usual in controversial cases, the Abramski v. United States vote was 5-4 with Justice Anthony Kennedy the swing vote between the two court factions.

The Supreme Court is avoiding the constitutionality of gun laws. Justices rejected a New Jersey case about discretionary permission for concealed carry, the Texas’ ban on concealed carry for people under 21, and a federal law for selling handguns to those under 21.

Meanwhile those NRA-identified “good guys” continue to be stupid with their guns. A Georgia man was trying to put away his .45 caliber pistol at a gas station in Macon shot off the end of his penis. The bullet exited through his buttocks, and his pants stopped it. When he dropped his pants, the spent round dropped on the floor. At least five other men in the United States have done the same thing since 2010.

ordinary gun

The biggest tragedy is that shootings happen every day resulting in the main-stream press ignoring them. We just move along, hoping that we’re not going to be one of those who gets shot by those “good guys.” As Jon Stewart reported on The Daily Show, Fox network suffered from shock and awe on the day after the school shooting in Troutdale (OR), but it was from Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) primary loss. As for the shooting, another day another shooting was their response.

 

 

February 26, 2013

10th Circuit Court Clarifies the Second Amendment

For decades, conservatives in legislatures and on courts have made gun regulations so loose that those who claim Second Amendment rights are going into my state capitol waving guns. Last Friday may have been the turning point for the freedom of people to kill and main others, sometimes without any retribution.

“We conclude that the carrying of concealed firearms is not protected by the Second Amendment . . .” wrote Justice Carlos Lucero on behalf of a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In its ruling, the three-judge panel cited a Supreme Court ruling that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons.”

In Peterson v. Martinez, a Washington State resident challenged Colorado’s concealed carry law, which restricts Concealed Handgun Licenses (CHL) to residents of Colorado. The state’s law allows people to have firearms in their homes, places of business, and vehicles, but to carry a concealed firearm in public places, residents of the state must apply with their local sheriff for a permit; the law allows “each sheriff to implement and administer.”

The court began with Peterson’s narrow point and then expanded into far-reaching national precedent against carrying a loaded handgun outside the home. “In light of our nation’s extensive practice of restricting citizens’ freedom to carry firearms in a concealed manner, we hold that this activity does not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment’s protections,” the court stated. The federal court also rejected arguments that Colorado’s CHL law infringed on the Equal Protection Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

To avert an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Tenth Circuit recounted several court rulings and state laws dating back to 1813 and, in addition, based its ruling on prior U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Peterson also used the argument that the ban on concealed carry permits for non-residents infringed on his right to travel, using an example from New York in which state residents paid less to cross a bridge than non-residents. The 10th Circuit explained that the right to travel was economic in nature. “The concealed carrying of a firearm does not impact his ability to pursue common calling or other employment,” the court said, adding that it didn’t limit his joining the National Guard or the military either.

“We conclude that carrying a concealed weapon is not a privilege or immunity protected under Article IV [of the constitution],” the court ruled. “Given that the concealed carrying of firearms has not been recognized as a right … we cannot declare this activity sufficiently basic to the livelihood of the Nation.”

Although gun lovers are fond of quoting the Second Amendment, they may not realize that the version ratified by the states is not the same as the one passed by Congress. Although the differences are slight, they can also change the meaning.

Congress: 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.

States: 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.

Congressional capitalization of Militia and the comma after “State” could radically change the meaning of the amendment.

In addition, the term “regulated” means “to bring under the control of law or constituted authority.” Regulation means “an authoritarian rule dealing with details or procedure (safety regulations); a rule or order issued by an executive authority or regulatory agency of a government having the force of law.” When referring to “not be infringed,” infringe means “to encroach upon in a way that violates law or the rights of another.” Thus the Constitution allows the government to regulate gun ownership and use.

Although the GOP doesn’t provide government tracking of gun deaths in the United States, informal reports show almost 2300 deaths by guns since the Newtown (CT) massacre on December 14, 2012.

Thanks for reading the above blog. Posts will resume in a week.

February 12, 2013

‘Manly’ Gun Owners

How dumb are the people who want to establish and maintain an arsenal of high-powered weapons that they claim are for hunting? Oregon gun owners have joined the insanity. At this time, the state has no law preventing anyone from carrying as many firearms into the capitol. There is no check to see if people are bringing guns into the building where the legislature makes laws, and there is no way to prevent them from doing so if they choose to do so.

How do gun owners reward this privilege? Last Friday they marched on the capitol with guns to wander the halls with semi-automatic weapons. I understand that protesters also went to the Washington capitol for the same purpose.

Two days after these people paraded around the Oregon capitol, a man shot and killed two women in the lobby of a Delaware courthouse. He killed himself after he wounded two police officers.

We can assume that carrying guns prove how “manly” they are. That’s what the ads for Bushmaster rifle declared. Have your “man card”: carry a big gun.

Bushmaster rifle

Gun owners also marched on the Portland city hall with some people—and dogs—opposing unlimited gun ownership. Ann Hubard took the following photos.

gun man

gun dog

gun kid 1

gun kid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How safe are we with current gun laws? The day before the march on the Oregon capitol, Barbara Annett Masters, 48, shot her husband, 47-year-old Richard Lee Cooper, in a Bend (OR) McDonalds. She leaned forward, the gun fell, and he went to the hospital where his condition has been upgraded to “fair.” That’s what our gun laws allow.

Mcdonalds

Tim Denny, a gun carrier at the Oregon capitol, justified his action by saying, “I think there’s a certain section of America that does misunderstand.” I disagree. I understand, but I don’t agree.

Two letters to Oregon newspapers today make points about the people wandering around with assault rifles:

Doug Hintz of Eugene wrote to The Register-Guard:

The photos of recent pro-gun rallies indicated that the crowds are mostly male, overwhelmingly white, with camouflage a common clothing choice. In the 1960s Black Panther members openly carried guns to public meetings. The reaction was quite different. Then, California Gov. Ronald Reagan declared, “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying a loaded weapon.”

Suppose the pro-gun rallies consisted of predominantly African-American males wearing hoodies and openly carrying assault rifles. Would we reading the same uncompromising pro-gun letters to the editor? If Trayvon Martin had been carrying an AR-15 he might be alive today.

Let’s try another thought experiment: imagine if the pro-gun rallies consisted predominantly of men dressed in tunics and keffiyehs carrying assault rifles in one hand and a Quran in the other. Would so many people still be advocting for unrestricted access to military-style weapons, banana clips and copy-kill ammunition?

Remember, the Second Amendment doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race or religion.

Hintz’s letter reminds me of the dither that Fox and Friends got into when one Black Panther stood outside a Philadelphia polling place last November 6, and the network accused the man of voter intimidation. He wasn’t even carrying a gun.

n_blackpanthers

Bill Whipple of Cornelius wrote to The Oregonian:

What red-blooded American patriot would not be put at ease with the thought of thousands or more young 20-something boys/men, armed with their assault weapons and several high-capacity magazines on the street corner, at the mall, the library, the supermarket, at their favorite game store, bar, rock concert, Cascades, visiting their grandma at the nursing home–all with that smug “it’s all perfectly legal, do you want to make something of it” look on their faces?

Although the GOP doesn’t provide government tracking of gun deaths in the United States, informal reports show over 1775 deaths because of guns since the Newtown (CT) massacre.

January 31, 2013

Gun Deaths – The Culture of Violence, Part 1

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The NRA would deprive you of the first and third, by redefining the second.”—Douglas Anthony Cooper

Nine days after she led her classmates in the King College Prep School Marching Band for the inauguration parade, Hadiya Pendleton was gunned down a few blocks from her school. Last year, gun-related murders in Chicago were 58 percent higher than the number of U.S. soldiers shot and killed in Afghanistan.

Three days earlier, seven people were killed and six wounded because of gun violence in Chicago. One of them was 34-year-old Ronnie Chambers whose mother had already lost her other three children to shootings.

Two days ago in Midland City (AL) Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65, killed a school bus driver, and kidnapped a six-year-old boy.  Witnesses reported that Dykes boarded the school bus filled with grade school children when it stopped at one of its regular drop-off points and brandished a gun, telling the bus driver, “I need two kids between the ages of 6 and 8.” The bus driver replied, “I can’t do that” and attempted to get away. That’s when Dykes shot and killed him.  The shooter then holed up in a bunker keeping law officers at bay. Three days later, he is still holding the boy in the bunker. Negotiators are trying to communicate with Dykes through a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe. 

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), strong supporter of budget cuts to decrease funds for more police officers on the streets, said he wants high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons because budget cuts mean inadequate police forces.  This is the same senator who told Fox News that “Hillary Clinton got away with murder” when he talked about the four deaths in Benghazi.

The Missouri state senate is considering a law requiring all first-graders to take a gun safety training course. This is in a state that has no sexual education requirement to help students protect themselves from STIs or unintended pregnancies.

Fontana Unified School District superintendent authorized the purchase of 14 high-caliber rifles at $1,000 each to be stored on campuses around the district for use in attacks like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary. Two years ago the district closed its counseling program; the purchase of guns does not address students’ mental issues.

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police collaborated with New Hampshire gun makers Sig Sauer and Sturm, Ruger & Company in a fundraising program. They will auction off a Ruger SR-556C assault rifle and 30 other guns, one each day of the month, to the highest bidder.

In St. Paul, Kirill Bartashevitch, 51, pointed his recently-purchased assault rifle at his teenage daughter and wife because his daughter got two B’s in school instead of straight A’s. He also threw his wife to the floor. He told the police that it wasn’t a problem because the gun wasn’t loaded and he had checked the chamber earlier.

These tragedies are only a few of the daily occurrences in the United States. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate held a hearing in an introduction to legislating gun laws. At the same time as the hearing, a man shot three people in a north-central Phoenix (AZ) office complex after the shooter did not do well in a civil mediation meeting. One of them has died, another is expected to die, and the man who did the shooting was found dead of a self-inflicted gun shot.

The Senate hearing got off to a violent start when NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and his bodyguards walked off the elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building yesterday. Finding TV cameras waiting for them, one of the men “bumped and body-checked journalists out of the way so they couldn’t film LaPierre or question him as he walked,” according to columnist Dana Milbank. After a journalist was pushed against a wall, congressional officials told the NRA officials that congressional procedures prevented manhandling.

Two years ago, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head while addressing her constituents in a Tucson Safeway parking lot. Six other people were killed by the shooter who had a semi-automatic weapon with a high-capacity magazine. Yesterday she read the following statement at a Senate hearing on gun violence. Everyone should hear her statement.

“Thank for inviting me here today. This an important conversation for our children, for our community, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”

At the hearing, James Johnson, Baltimore County chief of police and chair of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, said “the best way to stop a bad guy from getting a gun in the first place is a good background check.” But LaPierre said the NRA opposes closing the gun show loophole, claiming that background checks are pointless, as are other gun laws, because criminals and the mentally ill don’t abide by them. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) responded, “Mr. LaPierre, that’s the point. The criminals won’t go to purchase the guns because there will be a background check.”

Although–thanks to Congress–there is no formal process for tabulating the number of gun deaths in the U.S., an informal count shows that at least 1478 people have died because of guns in the United States since the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown (CT).

January 20, 2013

Good News for Separation of Church & State

During the last decade, the fundamentalist Christian religion has tried to control the entire legal process of the United States. Here is some hope that this process may have started failing.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias has ruled that names of church leaders who mishandled child sex abuse allegations will be made public in 30,000 pages of internal Archdiocese of Los Angeles records. The private mediator asked that the names be blacked out to save further embarrassment to the church and “guilt by association.” The judge disagreed, saying that parishioners who learn from the files of a priest accused of abuse in their local church “may want to talk to their adult children” about their own experiences. Lawyers for the church were upset because they had already blacked out the names and didn’t want to pay for redoing the work, a job that could take months.

Supporters of stem-cell research were pleased over a week ago when the Supreme Court failed to review a challenge to federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research. Abortion-rights opponents, who equate research involving embryonic stem cells with murder, criticized the court’s decision. Appellate judges had acknowledged ambiguity in laws governing stem-cell research but ultimately deferred to the National Institutes of Health, which supports the studies. Scientists believe that stem-cell research, who believe it will yield treatments and cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Christian fundamentalists in Florida, pleased with a new law to allow prayer in school, may not be pleased with the outcome. The Inspirational Messages law allows students to write and read these messages. Overlord Lucien Graves, a spokesperson for the Satanic Temple, has said that they promote many of the same ideas as major religions and should be included in the “inspirational messages.”  The bill dictates that school officials are not permitted to mediate, approve, or participate in these “inspirational messages,” which expand upon the two minutes of silence for quiet prayer or mediation previously observed in Florida public schools.

This coming Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal across the United States. Despite the huge spate of anti-abortion laws passed by states in the last two years on religious grounds, some religious people support the right of women to control their bodies.

Before the Supreme Court legalized abortion, clergy were among the staunchest supporters of women seeking an abortion. The Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, an underground network that counseled women and led them to compassionate, competent doctors who provided abortion care, grew to about 1,400 clergy operating on the East Coast during the 1960s to serve women from across the nation. Rev. Howard Moody—who was born in Texas, lived in New York, and died in 2012 at age 91—created the network and considered it one of his most important ministries.

Five years after the Roe decision, a number of religious organizations voiced support for the decision in a 1978 ecumenical study document. American Baptist Churches wrote, “Abortion should be a matter of personal decision.” The American Lutheran Church agreed, recognizing the “freedom and responsibility of individuals to make their own choices in light of the best information available to them and their understanding of God’s will for their lives.” The Church of the Brethren voiced support in the document for women who, “after prayer and counseling, believe abortion is the least destructive alternative available to them.”

The 1978 ecumenical study document articulated the inherent value of the fetus and the importance of reducing the need for abortion. It also held up values of humility, freedom, justice, balance, compassion, and responsibility. Since that time, a different translation of the Bible by pro-life advocates now determines that God is opposed to any abortion, wanting people to protect fertilized eggs from the time of conception. In fact, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is sponsoring a bill to that effect, the third of his career. (He has evidently abandoned the need to improve the economy and job market.)

Candidates who want to keep raising money from the issue of abortion need to move the “pro-life” movement to the fertilized egg. With advanced technology, over 60 percent of abortions are now completed before the ninth week and 90 percent before the 12th. Increased use of contraception has drastically decreased abortion rates because prevention of pregnancy is more accessible. The rate in 2008 was 19.6 per 1,000 women, two-thirds of the rate in 1981. In the past, women who would afford the cost of contraceptives rarely needed abortions; with its free contraceptives, Obamacare will shrink the rate of abortions for the poor.

Religious acceptance of reproductive rights for women is important. As the Southern Baptist Convention reasoned when it supported Roe v. Wade, if the government could tell a woman what to do with her body, it could also tell Baptists what they could—or couldn’t—do with their religion. That’s an important reason for separation of church and state.

An update on yesterday and GAD: There were actually five people injured at gun shows yesterday. In Indiana a 54-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the hand outside the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Shot while loading his .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in the parking lot. In Medina (OH) a vendor at the Medina County gun show had to be transported to the hospital by EMS after accidentally shooting himself. In Raleigh (NC), site of the other three injuries, the Dixie Gun and Knife Show  closed down yesterday after the injuries and no longer allow people to bring personal guns to the show.

Today in Albuquerque (NM) 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego killed both his parents and three of his nine siblings with an assault rifle. All victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The father, Greg Griego, spent 13 years as volunteer pastor at the Metropolitan Detention Center. The killer did not have a criminal record.

If anyone tries to convince you that we don’t need gun laws because law-abiding gun owners are responsible, ask them to watch this video.

January 5, 2013

Gun Deaths – The Loss of Life and Happiness, Part 1

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The NRA would deprive you of the first and third, by redefining the second.”—Douglas Anthony Cooper

This morning four people, including the shooter, were killed in Aurora, Colorado where another 12 people were killed in a movie theater on July 20 last year. The deaths of these people add to the almost five hundred gun deaths in the United States since 28 people died in Newtown, Connecticut less than a month ago.

Since the death of these 28 people, the media has turned to other areas of concern. The NRA leadership is sure to breathe a sigh of relief as the public worries about the next “cliff” because the fractious Republicans hold the United States hostage. Forget the gun deaths, the media says, covering the dissension caused by those who want to  make the poor and middle class pay for the advantages of the wealthy.

The first response to the Newtown killings was to find reasons for this tragedy. Because people could not face the fact that people need guns to kill people with guns, they created irrational justifications. Feminism, abortion, and other ways that white men are oppressed were very popular  as were the lack of God in our schools and the acceptance of marriage equality, ala Mike Huckabee.  In a Tennessee Baptist church, Pastor Sam Morris blamed mass shootings on schools that teach “evolution” and “how to be a homo.”

Women in Sandy Hook Elementary School saved the lives of several children, but National Review published Charlotte Allen’s article in which she said,  “A feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel.” In other words, the women were to blame because of their passivity.

The head of Tea Party Nation accused the “sex in movies, television, on the internet” because young people’s “passions are eternally inflamed, and they wander the Earth with no outlet for their overstimulated glands.” Author Timothy Birdnow told parents to “make sure [their children] dress modestly.” Parents should have open talks with their children, he wrote. “If black thugs kidnap and rape a woman, ask if there is something in the black culture that fostered that. If an evil white kid murders a bunch of children at the school, ask the same question of the white community … We have to stop hiding from our respective national sins.” Other writers pitied the “angry white man” because they are no longer superior to everyone else.

After the NRA took down its Facebook page and hid out for a few days following Sandy Hook, Wayne LaPierre had a press conference to explain the NRA spin on this disaster:  schools are “gun free zones”; they just need armed guards for everyone to be safe.  These shootings are the fault of the mentally ill running around society, according to the NRA, as well as the copycats (who might also be mentally ill). LaPierre wants a national database of the mentally ill but strenuously objects to a national database of gun sales.

LaPierre also blamed President Obama because he’s soft on crime. In fact, the president is soft on gun control. Video games, too few lawful gun owners, and lack of gun safety training were also at fault, according to LaPierre, despite his bragging about the NRA gun education and safety training programs.

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, just blamed everyone for not carrying guns at all times. It is his belief that the shooting at Sandy Hook would have been prevented if teachers had firearms. He also wants all the people in the country to have guns “in order to control the government” and use their weapons when the government steals elections or “after a long trail of abuses.”

With the crazy reasons came crazy solutions, the most prevalent being lots more guns as Pratt suggested. As LaPierre said, “Call me crazy.”   And he is if he thinks that armed guards at schools will protect everyone. The Sandy Hook shooter got into the school by breaking a window; there was an armed guard at Columbine High School in 1999 when two boys killed 13 people and at Virginia Tech in 2007 when a student killed 32 other people. Yet conservatives, who want to shrink the government to nothing, want the government to pay for armed guards at all the schools.

The most terrifying solution, however, comes from Megan McArdle in Newsweek. “I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.” Imagine a group of six- and seven-year-olds running toward a man with a Bushmaster rifle with a magazine that holds 30 rounds.

Once all the media has died down about shootings, NRA, in connection with Koch Brothers-backed and corporate funded ALEC, will push for more gun laws favorable to their leadership:

Guns on Campus that limits regulations by college and university governing boards.

Immediate Firearm Purchases that prohibits waiting periods.

More “Stand Your Ground” Laws like the one which allowed one man to shoot another because of an argument over a pizza.

No Borders to Firearm Movement that requires states to recognize concealed-carry permits or licenses from other states.

Annulling Local Regulations on Guns removing authority of local jurisdictions.

Defending an Unregulated Gun Market.

Guns for Emergencies prohibiting states from confiscating firearms because of a declared “state of emergency.”

Semi-Automatics for Everyone to eliminate regulations that would curb the use and sale of semi-automatic rifles.

Bolstering the NRA Reading of the Second Amendment to stop “restrictive firearms laws that only serve to limit law abiding citizens in the exercise of their Constitutionally guaranteed rights while having no effect on the activities of the criminal element in our society,” according to ALEC’s resolution.

Despite the number of gun deaths, the NRA works with corporations and spends millions of dollars to promote looser and looser gun laws. Their goal is to protect gun sales because they get their money from arms dealing. NRA lobbyists will go to any lengths to keep the money rolling in. Only four percent of the people in the United States belong to the NRA. That’s not where the money is. Through the power of this organization, the NRA has made the United States into the most lucrative personal arms market in the world.

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