Nel's New Day

June 15, 2017

Right-Wing Refuses to Accept Blame for Their Rhetoric, Policies

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:00 PM
Tags: ,

Front-page headlines today featured dual news reports: the president of the United States is under criminal investigation for obstruction of justice; and a U.S. representative is in critical condition after being shot at a baseball practice. The second item dominated talk shows as Republicans blame Democrats because of political hate rhetoric from the left. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) blames the media because “they keep inciting, as opposed to informing.”

Almost 63 million people voted for a man who called for violence against people who didn’t support him and bragged about his wanton sexual assaults. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continually made calls against Clinton to “lock her up” and encouraged his supporters when they threatened to kill Clinton. He even told his supporters that he would pay their legal fees for attacking protesters so that they would have to be “carried out on stretchers,” and his supporters cheered when he said that he wouldn’t lose any voters if he shot someone in the “middle of Fifth Avenue.” When his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was arrested for physically attacking a Breitbart reporter, DDT defended him.

The serious escalation of violence developed in the 21st century after George W. Bush attacked Iraq without provocation in a “conflict” that has eaten away at U.S. resources, put millions into poverty, and enriched the wealthiest in the nation. For almost a decade, white male Tea Partiers carried guns, invoked a Thomas Jefferson quote about watering the “tree of liberty” with blood, and threatened President Obama’s life. Former VP candidate Sarah Palin posted online graphics with cross hairs on House districts, including that of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) who was then shot in the head in a massacre that also killed six people. Other GOP candidates, such as Nevada’s Sharron Angle, have promised that they would enact Second Amendment “cures” if they didn’t get their way.

A year ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweeted that the purpose of the Second Amendment is “to shoot at the government when it becomes tyrannical!” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) called for bloodshed if Hillary Clinton were elected, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) joked about shooting reporters at a gun range. The day before his successful election, Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) body-slammed a reporter to the floor and punched him for asking a question before lying about having done it. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) said, “It’s not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it.” Other GOP congressional members covered for Gianforte’s attack on the reporter and laughed about it.

Newt Gringrich joined others about calls to assassinate DDT  but never complained when Republicans publicized materials for eight years to lynch President Obama. People objected to comparing DDT to Adolf Hitler but never spoke up about the narrative and visuals showing Barack Obama as Hitler.

Much of the rhetoric against the GOP is legitimate:

Since the inauguration of a GOP president in January, the senate has confirmed Cabinet members and other officials who failed to submit materials before hearings and then blatantly lied under oath. When the Democrats questioned this process, the GOP senators changed the rules and met without Democrats to confirm nominees. Secretary of Education DeVos clearly stated that she condones discrimination against some students, doesn’t plan to help all students in the nation, and her vouchers will go to religious and/or wealthy schools.  OMB director Mick Mulvaney tries to pass off inexcusable budget cuts against the poor and elderly as “compassionate.” EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt committed criminal acts by concealing emails and taking bribes from members of the fossil fuels industry. HHS Secretary Tom Price introduced and encouraged legislation that raised the price of his personal stocks. Every confirmed agency director is in direct opposition to the agencies’ missions.

Currently, 13 white men are meeting in secret to prepare a draconian version of health care that even DDT calls “mean.” The chamber’s fast-tracked process allows the bill to be available for only two days before a vote with no democratic process of testimony and debate. The sole goal of the bill, affecting one-sixth of the economy and destroying jobs and people’s lives if passed, is to leave people without health insurance by giving billions of dollars to already wealthy people.

Republicans want to put more billions of dollars into the military while leaving the safety net, education, health care, and infrastructure bereft.

Massive gerrymandering and punitive laws have created voter suppression for women, minorities, and low-income people throughout the nation.

GOP senators ignored a nominee for the Supreme Court for almost a year and then rapidly moved to confirm a GOP-nominated justice so far right of the other justices that they unanimously overturned one of his rulings at the same time as his confirmation hearings. Other DDT-nominated justices for lifetime appointments equate the 19th-century Dred Scott case upholding slavery with Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion. Nominees have histories of discrimination against minorities and LGBT people as well as misogynist attitudes exhibited through their court arguments. John Bush, nominee for the 6th Circuit Court, used a blog to posted citations of white supremacist conspiracy theories and other false information, such President Obama not being born in the U.S. Kevin Newsome, nominee for the 11th Circuit Court, wants juveniles executed but doesn’t want to provide legal counsel to death-row prisoners.

Congress makes a sham of hearings, such as confirmations and other in the past few weeks to examine the involvement of Russia in U.S. elections and political activities, by suppressing questioning. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was stopped in Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing for AG and told she could no longer speak, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was blocked in her questioning of Sessions this week when he stonewalled the Senate Intelligence Committee, the second time in a week that she was stopped.

Members of state and federal legislatures are purchased, usually by wealthy conservatives.

The intent of every piece of legislation overturning President Obama’s executive orders is to defraud people, take away salaries, and make life worse for the vast majority. DDT’s entire MO is dismantling anything that President Obama created—no matter its value—in an act of petty revenge after the man inaugurated last January was ridiculed at a White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. The GOP members of Congress are supporting him every inch of the way.

GOP members of Congress consistently enable DDT and his family. DDT consistently flouts the constitution, and 70 percent of his personal real estate deals are to “shell companies,” allowing the purchaser to be hidden. The percentage is up from four percent in the previous two years. He and his daughter are obtaining trademarks in China by meeting with Chinese officials, and he’s made business deals with other world leaders. Now investigated for fraud and embezzlement charges, DDT’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric are following in their father’s footsteps of cheating people. The business affairs of DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are also being examined as part of the Russian investigation.

Calling talk about gun control after shootings as politicizing the tragedy, Republicans are politicizing the Alexandria shooting, referring to the shooter as “anti-GOP” and “pro-Sanders.” They ignore his history of domestic and gun violence while blaming Democrats’ “rhetoric.”Republicans use the excuse of “rhetoric” to avoid talking about the culture of gun violence in the United States and remain indifferent to gun violence in the nation. The same day as the shooting in Alexandria, four people died in a shooting at a UPS facility, but no GOP politicians commented on the tragedy—or the other eight mass shootings in the last ten days. Mass shootings have increased 54 percent since that same period of time in 2014. The first five and a half months of 2017 have seen at least 13,400 gun injuries and almost 7,000 gun deaths. (See map.) Anti-Muslim hate crimes were up 67 percent in 2015, the first year of the presidential campaign, and then tripled last year. The number of white supremacist groups grew to 917 by the beginning of 2017, but DDT has stopped investigation of white domestic terrorism.

David Frum, former speech writer for George W. Bush, tweeted:

Virginia:

  • No background checks

  • No licensing

  • No registration

  • No permit req’d for concealed carry of long guns

  • Open carry long guns & handguns

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) said, “What makes us great is that we are Americans.” Nationality doesn’t bestow greatness. Greatness must be earned by support and respect for all, rapidly disappearing in the United States. Eric Trump summarized the GOP position when he said that Democrats aren’t even people. The United States needs a seismic shift in policy toward transparency, ethics, and a democratic policy that protects all—not just the privileged. Suppressing voting, protests, media, and public opinion is not a solution. Jailing and physically attacking journalists for reporting the news, a practice increased since the GOP took over the country, cannot be a solution.

The GOP is accustomed to attacking everyone except the wealthy, and they are astonished and outraged when a man with a history of violence shoots one of their own, a politician who voted against Martin Luther King Jr. Day and against punishing hate crimes. The right-wing never talked about their rhetoric being responsible for the shooting of Gabby Giffords; now one person from the left has committed violence against a Republican. Abstraction is hard for Republicans; they understand only those issues that affect them personally. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) voted against bipartisan legislation to expand the criminal background checks after a mass shooting in 2014, but now he wants a background check on the shooter of his colleague. It’s a start—background checks for shooters after they are killed.

December 14, 2015

GOP Killing People with Inaction

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Liberty isn’t just about having any gun you want, any time you want it. Liberty has got to also be about the right to be free from indiscriminate violence.”

This statement is part of the first speech that Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) made on that chamber’s floor in April 2013. Three years ago today, Murphy was a newly-elected U.S. senator. Three years today, a young man killed his mother and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he killed 26 more people—20 of them children—before he killed himself. The last thing he did was to kill himself. During that three years, one child has died from gun violence every other day.

Almost 20 years ago, a local scoutmaster in a small Scottish school killed 16 children and their teacher before killing himself. The government took swift action to stop more mass shootings. Since then, there has been one “mass shooting” in which a man killed 12 people in various locations. Since 1996, the UK has had no school shootings; the U.S. has had 142 school shootings in the three years since Sandy Hook.

homicide rate chart

Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote:

“In what has become a tradition in the nation’s capital, the United States Congress on Monday notched the third anniversary of doing nothing in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

“As on the first and second anniversaries of the tragedy, lawmakers took up no new measures to prevent future mass shootings in the United States, and instead chose to mark Newtown’s third anniversary with a day of inaction. In that respect, the third anniversary of Newtown resembles the thousand-plus days that came before it, during which Congress took no action on guns except to periodically vote down expanded background checks.”

Earlier this month, the NRA ordered the GOP senators to vote against an amendment to keep people on the no-fly list from buying guns. According to the FBI, 2,233 background checks for purchasing guns or explosives resulted in 190 denials. Attorney General John Ashcroft had ordered permission for people on the terrorist no-fly list to purchase guns after 9/11, and the order has not been repealed in the past 14 years, despite cries to stop foreign terrorists from killing.

The NRA ordered GOP senators to vote against closing loopholes in the federal background checks allowing unlicensed dealers to sell huge numbers of guns in private sales with no checks. An Al Qaeda video encourages jihadists to exploit these lax laws to attack people in the United States. The GOP senators voted according to the NRA orders, and suspected terrorists may buy as many guns as they wish.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against the bills because people on the no-fly list might not be terrorists. That situation can be fixed; selling guns to terrorists can’t without a congressional vote.

Even with guns leaking over from states with more lax gun laws, states with background checks for all handgun sales have 52 percent fewer mass shootings than other states. There are “63 percent fewer mass shootings committed by people prohibited from possessing firearms in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in those that do not,“ according to a study. In states with these background checks, 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns.

fewer mass shootings

Another “nothing” action from the GOP is their refusal to re-fund research on gun violence. Almost two decades ago, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR) introduced the NRA-authored legislation to ban the Centers for Disease Control from studying gun violence and ways to prevent it. Since then, the United States has seen about 2 million dead and injured people from gun violence. The year before the massacres at Sandy Hook and Aurora (CO), Congress extended the ban to the National Institutes of Health to keep it from researching a serious health issue.

Dickey now regrets what he did, calling it one of the biggest mistakes of his political office that ended in 2000:

“Research could have been continued on gun violence without infringing on the rights of gun owners, in the same fashion that the highway industry continued its research without eliminating the automobile.”

A coalition of over 2,000 physicians recently called on Congress to lift its ban on research, and nine medical associations urged Congress to overturn the Dickey Amendment. Dr. Alice Chen, executive director of Doctors for America, said, “Gun violence is a public health problem that kills 90 Americans a day.” Last month dozens of House Democrats called for renewal of federal research on gun violence, writing:

“We dedicate $240 million a year on traffic safety research, more than $233 million a year on food safety, and $331 million a year on the effects of tobacco, but almost nothing on firearms that kill 33,000 Americans annually.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) has submitted a bill called the Gun Violence Research Act with the express purpose of “helping identify and treat those prone to committing mass shootings.” President Obama asked for $10 million for this research in each of his last two budgets. Both times, the GOP eliminated the request. The GOP Congress is also refusing to fund any research about gun violence that costs the United States a staggering $229 billion every year.

The GOP is actually taking some action regarding gun laws. Republicans have started a process to send more guns into Washington, DC, the only city that Congress completely controls. After the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sped up a bill to repeal gun restrictions in the nation’s capital by skipping over the committee process. Gun violence has increased in the city because lax gun laws in the state of Virginia allow a glut of guns in DC.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced a bill to repeal Washington’s ban on semiautomatic guns, remove criminal penalties for unregistered firearms, repeal a gun-offender registry, revoke the federal ban on interstate handgun transfers, restore the right of self-defense in the home, and require D.C. to issue and honor concealed carry firearms permits for residents and non-residents. In addition, he wants guns allowed in “public, non-sensitive areas of federal property”—in the nation’s capital. Earlier this year, Rubio raised his NRA rating from a B+ to an A with a similar bill.

Concealed carry of guns is allowed in bars in 16 states, in churches in 25 states, and schools in 28 states. States have prohibited authorities from seizing guns during emergencies, moved to ban the use of taxpayer funding for government gun buyback programs, and banned the destruction of firearms seized by law enforcement. Some states have pre-empted local governments’ ability to pass stricter firearms laws. The year following Sandy Hook, 26 states passed 63 laws allowing people to more easily carry guns in public.  For example:

  • Kansas: Gun owners don’t need a licensed for carrying concealed weapons.
  • Texas: Permits will allow open carry in holsters and concealed weapons in college classrooms.
  • Arkansas: People can carry guns into polling places.
  • Georgia: People can carry guns in bars and churches. 
  • Wisconsin: People no longer have a 48-hour waiting period to buy guns.

Every widely-publicized mass shooting brings GOP members to their knees. They pray for the victims and survivors while following the NRA directives. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) wrote:

“Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing–again.”

As NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said about guns, “I have no faith in the Congress of the United States.” The GOP goes farther than doing nothing: they kill people by their lack of action in a crisis of gun violence and proliferation of even more lax gun laws.

December 5, 2015

‘Seasonal’ Facts about Guns in the U.S.

‘Tis the season for more mass shootings although they seem to fit into every season. Although conservatives cut off funding for tracking gun violence several years ago, Mass Tracker is watching the prevalence of mass shootings, defined as a single shooting which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.

The killing spree in San Bernardino was the 353th mass shooting in 2015 on the 336th day of the year. At least 20 days of 2015 had four or more mass shootings in a single day.

shooting calendar

Sixty-two of these 353 shootings were at schools, bringing the total to 161 in the three years since the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre on December 14, 2012.

Overall, 12,223 people have been killed in gun “incidents”—not counting suicides and “accidental shootings”–this year in the U.S. Another 24,722 people have been deliberately injured by guns.

The number of per capita gun murders in the US in 2012–the most recent year for comparable statistics–was almost 30 times that in the UK, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with just 0.1. Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK.

More people died from gunfire in the U.S. since 1968 than in all the wars fought by the U.S. The 1,516,863 gun-related deaths in that time period are nine percent more than the 1,396,733 million U.S. deaths in every conflict between the Revolutionary War and the Iraq war.

The number of deaths in mass shootings is up from last year, currently 447 people compared to the 383 people who died from gun violence in 2014. The number of injured has also gone up from 1,239 to 1,292—and the year isn’t over yet.

This year saw fewer days between mass shootings that killed at least four people. On average these occurred every 200 days between 1982 and 2011, increasing to 64 days.

At least half of the 12 deadliest shootings in the U.S. happened in the last eight years.

Five percent of the global population lives in the United States, but 31 percent of the world’s mass shootings occurs in this nation.

The U.S. has 4.4% of the world’s population, but 42% of civilian-owned guns.

States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence, and areas with more guns have more homicides. States with the lowest death rates from firearms–Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Hawaii—are the same states with the most restrictive laws. Death rate of 2.6 per 100,000 residents in Massachusetts is almost eight times less than the death rate from gun violence in Alaska. Other states without gun restrictions—Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Wyoming—also have the highest number of gun deaths.

The United States spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism which killed an average of 31 people a year between 2002 and 2011. During the same time, an average of 11,385 people died in the U.S. from gun “incidents” not related to suicides and “accidents.”

Australia took steps almost two decades ago to stem gun violence and now takes notice of the growing problem in the United States. Tim Fischer, former prime minister, is calling for travel warnings to the United States because of the increasing gun violence in the U.S. Australia’s firearm mortality rate is one per 100,000, ten times less that the U.S. statistic of 10 per 100,000.

A 1996 mass shooting in Australia that killed 35 people turned around the country’s gun legislation. The conservative-run government ran a mandatory buyback of 700,000 newly illegal guns and passed other laws controlling the purchase and ownership of guns and ammunition. People are prohibited from private sales, and each gun must be registered to its owner for a “genuine reason.” Self-defense is not one of those reasons. A person can be refused a license because of “reliable evidence of a mental or physical condition which would render the applicant unsuitable for owning, possessing or using a firearm.”  Gun license applicants are required to take a safety course before owning a gun. New measures banned the sale and possession of all automatic and semiautomatic rifles and pump shotguns as well as making storage and inspection requirements. Laws created a 28-day waiting period gun purchases and a national gun registry.

Results of change in legislation:

  • Intentional gun deaths dropped by half in the first decade while the population increased by 14 percent.
  • During the following 11 years, gun related homicides dropped 59 percent with no increase in any other homicide related deaths.
  • In 2013, the 200 gun-related deaths, a rate of .87 per 100,000 people, was almost one-third of the 2.71 deaths per 100,000 residents in 1996 before the laws took effect.
  • Suicides fell 65 percent.
  • In the homicide rate of 1.1 per 100,000 in 2012, only ten percent involved a gun—below 50 victims annually during the past decade. Adjusting by population, that would mean about 750 victims in the U.S. instead of the existing 12,223 thus far this year. The U.S. rate of homicides is about four times that of Australia at 4.5 per 100,000.
  • Robberies occur at half the rate of the U.S. (58 compared to our country’s 113.1 per 100,000 in 2012). There has been no increase in home invasion.

Before the new legislation, Australia had 11 mass shootings killing at least five people each in the prior ten years; since the laws were enacted, Australia has had not one mass shooting like those.

People opposing gun restrictions in the U.S. take pride in their rugged individualism. This philosophy, however, is very similar to the Australian culture that also expounds “freedom and liberty.” The conservative man behind the shift in gun laws, then Prime Minister John Howard, was a good friend of George W. Bush, but he spoke up after the mass shooting in Aurora (CO) which left 12 dead and 70 injured:

“The Second Amendment, crafted in the immediate post-revolutionary years, is more than 200 years old and was designed to protect the right of local communities to raise and maintain militia for use against external threats (including the newly formed national government!). It bears no relationship at all to the circumstances of everyday life in America today. Yet there is a near religious fervour about protecting the right of Americans to have their guns—and plenty of them. It remains to be seen … how much carnage a society is willing to take.”

Even President Ronald Reagan supported gun restrictions.

After a mass shooting in the UK killing 18 people, including 16 children, a conservative party member decided that they must “take this as a warning that we are becoming like America and act before it is too late.” Gun-related offenses had surged in the early 2000s, but new laws began seven years of successive drops in gun crimes.

People need guns to be safe, cry the NRA supporters. The victim did not use a gun for defense in 99.2% of violent crimes in a country with 357 million guns in civilian hands, a 50-percent increase in the past two decades. And that’s just a guess because the government is not allowed to keep records.

An Atlanta study of 198 cases of unwanted entry into occupied single-family dwellings found that the invader was twice as likely to obtain the victim’s gun than to have the victim use a firearm in self-defense.

Conservatives claim that they want to control killings by reforming mental illness. In Germany, people under 25 who want to buy a gun must pass a psychiatric evaluation. Conservatives claim that it’s too easy for criminals to get guns—and they are right because many criminals purchase guns. In Italy, people wanting to possess a gun must pass a background check considering both criminal and mental health records. Conservatives reject these laws.

Australia was may have been successful in reducing gun violence not only because of the change in the laws but also because of a shift in culture. When the people acted on their shock of the Port Arthur massacre, they removed the ready availability of guns, and mentally troubled people were not constantly told that guns are the best way to address any grievances, whether against other people, organizations, or the government.

The U.S. culture rewards the man who killed people at Planned Parenthood because of the constant attention to false videos. Even so-called Muslim terrorists are following the U.S. culture that keeps guns in order to overturn the U.S. government. If Christians believe this, why shouldn’t Muslims? People–mostly males and mostly white–parade their guns, not for safety but as a demonstration that their “freedom” is far more important than human lives.

Research shows that gun restrictions save lives. The Constitution places limits on all rights when they threaten others—religion doesn’t allow human sacrifice, and free speech doesn’t permit incitement, conspiracy, and libel. The Supreme Court has declared that government can put reasonable restrictions on gun ownership. In all other areas, people in the U.S. are willing to exchange “pure” freedom for safety; guy ownership should be no different.

October 16, 2015

House Gets Worse–Who Knew It Was Possible?!

 

Congress is still on “recess” (aka vacation), the debt crisis has moved up to November 3 (two weeks after they return), and the rudderless House will concentrate on two “select” committees that have nothing to do with the economy or joblessness. The first, started 17 months ago; the new one continues the House’s attack on women’s reproductive rights.

Three years ago, four men were killed at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi (Libya). Since that time, the GOP House members created eight committees, the most recent a “select” committee, to skewer Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. Clinton was exonerated by the first seven, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) proposed the most recent one on May 2, 2014 that has cost taxpayers over $4.5 million already.

Many people already assumed that the purpose of the committee had nothing to do with justice before House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) admitted it on a Fox network show. (Maybe he thought only conservatives would notice.) The committee continues to unravel as another GOP representative, Richard Hanna (R-NY), said on the Keeler in the Morning radio show:

“I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.”

Senior Republican officials had already said that Boehner was using Clinton’s emails on a private server as a way to keep Benghazi alive and create political problems for the presidential candidate.

Committee members face more problems since Bradley F. Podliska, major in the Air Force Reserve, was fired as a former investigator.  Podliska claims that he was fired because he was trying to do his job and plans to sue. The self-described lifelong conservative Republican supported GOP claims that the committee wanted to concentrate on Clinton herself, instead of Benghazi. Podliska also said that Benghazi Committee staffers used their time to surf the web and drink alcohol. They had formed a “gun-buying club” and spent work hours designing monogrammed weapons. This from a committee that is supposedly investigating killing.

Committee chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), said he had never met with Podliska, but the Wall Street Journal wrote that Gowdy “handpicked” the committee’s staff. Just last week, however, the committee re-posted a Wall Street Journal piece noting that Gowdy “handpicked” the committee’s staff.

Thus far, the committee has had only one of a dozen scheduled interviews and absolutely no hearings of the intended nine. All the hearings except for those with Clinton, including ones with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary Leon Panetta, were cancelled after the New York Times broke its story on March 2 about her emails. Interviews with CIA Director David Petraeus, General Martin Dempsey, General Carter Ham, and former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen were also cancelled. The committee has had no public hearings with anyone from the Department of Defense, but by the end of October, the GOP will have interviewed or deposed eight current or former Clinton campaign staffers.

One person subpoenaed is Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal although Gowdy admitted that he “never expected Witness Blumenthal to be able to answer questions about the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.” Over 160 questions directed to Blumenthal were about his relationship with Clinton with fewer than 20 questions about the Benghazi attacks. Over 50 questions concerned the Clinton Foundation, but only four addressed security in Benghazi.

During the past nine months, Gowdy’s 27 press releases have concentrated on Clinton with only five on any other topic, perhaps because the few interviews he attended were only about Clinton. Three were about the State Department’s compliance with document production, one was about the anniversary of 9/11, and the last was Gowdy’s interim progress report. Since the committee’s inception, Gowdy has publicly released only emails and did so without debate or vote by the Select Committee. Yet he blocked the release of Blumenthal’s deposition transcript.

Part of the GOP smear campaign comes from committee leaks of inaccurate information without full transcripts. Gowdy also hid information from Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills testimony that during the Benghazi attack, Secretary Clinton urged several agencies, including the Pentagon, to do everything they possibly could to save and protect the Americans at the Consulate.

Clinton’s hearing is currently scheduled for October 22, conveniently in the midst of the presidential campaign. Gowdy has said that he won’t release his findings until “just months before the 2016 presidential election.” Meanwhile, the GOP is using the committee and Gowdy’s name to raise donations for Stop Hillary PAC with its sole purpose of attacking Clinton. The conservative PAC America Rising described the attacks as a taxpayer-funded political activity.

Benghazi is so prevalent in the minds of the GOP, that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) focused on it during the House Judiciary Committee Planned Parenthood hearing. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “the contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions….”  Yet Gohmert connected the Benghazi deaths and PP while questioning former clinic manager Susan Thayer in this tirade:

“You had people meeting here in America, in Washington, while people were dying! While Ty Woods was gathering David Ubben and Glen Doherty and going to the rooftop to man guns to try to protect the people in those facilities…. Yes, Benghazi was about politics! And we need to get to the bottom of why those four people were killed, while nobody in Washington that knew what was going on lifted a finger!”

The House’s “select committee” to follow up on the doctored videos about Planned Parenthood follows four earlier House investigations. House GOP members surely understand that the unedited footage from these videos would destroy their smear campaign because they held them for at least two weeks, refusing to permit Democratic committee members to view them.

Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is already under fire for his five-hour grilling of PP president, Cecile Richards, when she was interrupted in her answers at least 51 times. He even presented a false—and damning—graph from an anti-abortion organization, making the assumption that he was from PP until he was corrected. He also attacked Richards for making over $500,000 as CEO of a $1.3 billion organization, something that Congress has never done to male CEOs making up to 1,000 times as much.

Every investigation into PP, whether federal or state, found no illegal actions on the part of PP. Chaffetz admitted, “Was there any wrongdoing? I didn’t find any.” Unhappy with the failure to find something that doesn’t exist, the new “select” committee will widen its search into women and abortion, still legal in the United States.

The 14-member panel will investigate not only PP but also privately funded abortions and fetal tissue donations to medical researchers. This time, the GOP picked a woman, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to head the committee. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) said, “Planned Parenthood is the new Benghazi,” echoing another position that McCarthy had already provided to the media.

In the past, “select committees” have been used only for highly unusual national events such as the assassination of a president and a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The PP select committee is under the auspices of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which will have members not related to Energy and Commerce and vet these people through outside anti-abortion organizations. At the same time, House Republicans explained that the new committee “won’t be political.”

GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has used the PP falsehoods as support for her campaign. At a conference the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, she talked about the difference between politics and business: “Politics is a fact-free zone. People just say things.” That’s why the GOP has these “select” committees.

One select committee regarding extraordinary events in the U.S. is necessary, one to examine increasing gun violence throughout the United States. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for this committee after ten people died in a college shooting at Roseburg (OR) earlier this month. It’s almost a guarantee that the current House will never okay this committee.

Why isn’t there a select committee to determine why the United States started wars in the Middle East that killed hundreds of thousands of people, including almost 5,000 military members from the U.S.? Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said:

“I haven’t heard a word about Colin Powell. I haven’t heard a word about Condoleezza Rice. In our investigations we went to both of those former secretaries of state and, Colin Powell, we tried to do an investigation of his testimony before the U.N. on weapons of mass destruction.

“You know what, Colin Powell didn’t have a goddamn email available for us. There was zero. Zero. Hillary Clinton, what was it, 30,000 she turned in? It was the same thing with Condoleezza Rice; not a goddamn email that was useful to the committee. And no one wants to talk about that because it’s being run by a Republican chairman.”

The GOP promised to make changes when they were elected a year ago. They did. Congress changed from a highly dysfunctional legislature to being the laughing stock of the world.

February 19, 2015

‘Open Carry’ Grows More Frightening

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:21 PM
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Texas, one of the most conservative states in the union and a leader in gun “open carry,” is finally getting nervous about their resident gun nuts. It should. The Texas senate may not pass a law allowing open carry in public without a gun permit, and Kory Watkins of Open Carry Tarrant County gave a rant on his Facebook page that should disturb legislators—maybe even make them understand the problems of gun “enthusiasm.” Watkins wrote:

“I don’t think they want to mess with us too much longer. They better start giving us our rights or this peaceful non-cooperation stuff is gonna be gamed up. We’re going to step it up a notch. I think here in Texas we’re tired of jacking around with people in suits who think that they can take away freedoms in the name of safety … We should be demanding [Texas legislators] give us our rights back, or it’s punishable by death. Treason. You understand how serious this is, Texas? We need to start sticking more than foots in doors. This is treason against the American people. You don’t sell my rights back to me? You’re going to find trouble.”

Law enforcement officials, however, are supporting legislators. State Sen. Joan Huffman talked about “concerns from law enforcement and constituents that allowing unlicensed open carry [of handguns] ‘could create some chaos in an ordered society.'” A recent Texas Police Chiefs Association survey distributed to over 800 police chiefs reported that almost 75 percent of the respondents oppose open carry of a handgun.  Another 90 percent said that a license should be required for open carry, and 71 percent said that holsters should have retention ratings to help secure the gun.

The reason for these concerns is the dangerous and aggressive behavior of people carrying long guns in public because they confront and harass police. After Watkins and other pro-gun activists refused to leave the office of Texas State Rep. Poncho Nevárez (D-74th), the legislator and his family received so many death threats that state law enforcement officers are assigned to guard him. Legislators’ office now may have panic buttons to protect them and their staff.

Even Republicans are beginning to understand the danger of unrestricted gun ownership.  Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that he’s “not necessarily all that fond of this open carry concept” and added that those who carry guns in public should be “appropriately backgrounded, appropriately vetted, appropriately trained.” Former Texas Land Commissioner/State Sen. Jerry Patterson, sponsor of the state’s concealed-handgun law in 1995, said that open-carry legislation “has been pushed off the rails by the nut jobs.” And State Sen. Charles Perry pointed out to The Chad Hasty Show that “some of the folks … that are coming in with intimidating tactics have issues in their background that they can’t get a CHL [concealed-handgun license]. So there’s always more than one agenda that’s apparent.”

The most bizarre gun bill in Texas would allow teachers to kill their students. Teachers are already permitted to carry guns in their classrooms, but H.B. 868 would authorize instructors to use “force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator.” Instructors would also have the right to use deadly force “in defense of property of the school that employs the educator.” Moreover, civil immunity would be granted to those who use deadly force, meaning they would not be liable for the injury or death of student. Black and Latino students already face much greater rates of discipline than white students; this bill could permit teachers to kill them.

In Washington state, a gun group is planning a gun show in defiance of the new state law for background checks. Dubbed the Arms Expo, it is scheduled for the third weekend of June in the Yakima area. Advertising promises “no background checks, no paperwork, no infringement.” Organizer Sam Wilson said that they would be breaking the law, but he predicted that law enforcement wouldn’t intervene.

States that have loosened their gun laws are finding them expensive. Idaho’s new law to allow guns on college campuses will cost schools $3.7 million for the year. With no additional state funding, that’s money taken from the educational process.

Although extremists think that guns will make them safer, studies have shown this argument is false. A re-enactment of the recent Charlie Hebdo shooting showed that no “armed civilian” was able to take out both shooters, and the only person who didn’t “die” was the one who ran away. Even trained police officers in New York City hit the intended target 18 percent of the time. Yet the majority of people in the U.S. think that a gun in the house makes them safer. Studies show that a gun in the house is more likely to kill the owner or a loved one than to kill a stranger in self-defense, and the annual per capita risk of death during a home invasion is 0.0000002 percent.

Owning a gun, holding one, or even just seeing one has a significant effect on perceptions and behavior. Studies for almost 50 years have examined the “weapons effect,” in which the presence of a gun or a picture of one can stimulate aggressive behavior. A 2006 study found that men exposed to firearms before an experiment had higher levels of testosterone and were three times more likely to behave aggressively than those who weren’t exposed to a gun.

In 2009, the University of Pennsylvania found that people with guns were 4.5 times more likely to be shot than those without guns. One conclusion was that “a gun may falsely empower its possessor to overreact.” Evidence supports this. In a 2012 study, people had either a replica of a gun or something like a ball and asked to identify objects that other people held. The participants holding guns were more likely to guess that others had guns and more likely to “engage in threat-induced behavior” like raising a gun to shoot.

Brains react to guns in almost the same way as to spiders and snakes by capturing the attention. People identify threats to safety in order to avoid them. The brain immediately responds, which is why people instantly see a gun among other objects. The automatic response often results in 911 calls when people see gun owners openly carrying their firearms. Displaying guns doesn’t stop crime because brains see them as threats. People who become de-sensitized to guns are in even more danger because they cannot perceive them as dangerous threats.

States with the weakest gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest overall gun death rates in the United States. The reverse is true as shown by this chart. Every 1 percent increase in gun ownership is correlated with a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a .07 percent increase in total homicide rate. With the absence of guns, criminals do not switch to another weapon for homicide. Gun ownership doubles the risk of homicide and triples the risk of suicide, and a gun in the home is far more likely to be used to threaten a family member or intimate partner than to be used in self-defense. In Missouri, annual murder rates increased by 16 percent after the state’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase handgun licensing law.

People who threaten legislators with death if they vote the wrong way and collectively flaunt actions against the law are domestic terrorists. These are acts of intimidation and should be treated like terrorism. People who threaten violence if they don’t get their own way are capable of committing bloodshed as shown by the Bundy standoff in Nevada and the ensuing murders of two police officers in a pizzeria. One member of Open Carry Texas/Open Carry Tarrant County is awaiting trial for killing her estranged husband and his 20-year-old daughter.

The same political party that fights for states’ rights wants to trump these with a bill to allow carrying concealed guns across state lines without permits from those states. Chief sponsor in the senate is Texas Republican John Cornyn. Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said that “law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise this fundamental right while traveling across state lines.” No mention from the NRA that governments can’t know whether the carriers are “law-abiding.” The House will most likely pass the bill, and the senate has a better chance of getting past the 60-vote filibuster level than in 2013. Cornyn compared the process to that of a driver’s license. It would be good if gun licenses would be comparable to driver’s licenses.

June 3, 2014

Ammosexuals Pervert Constitution

HomeDepotOCT-3cropHow did some gun nuts spend Memorial Day, a day to honor those in the military who sacrificed for their country? In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, they harassed a Marine veteran before sending him death threats and calling him at work.

A television producer, James Henry, films events such as the open-carry demonstration in a public space where members of Open Carry Texas were toting their AK-47 and AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. Their threats led him to leave, but the gunners chased him back to his car, shouting insults such as “Are you gonna cry? Sounds like you’re about to cry.” After that, they posted his work and contact information online and used social media for death threats. This intimidation is an example of actions by “good guys,” as gunners label anyone legally carrying weapons. The group with the guns said that they chased the one man with the camera because they felt threatened.

The same weekend, over 100 demonstrators stood around with their long guns for several hours in a North Richland Hills Home Depot parking lot for several hours. [Photo above left taken at the demonstration.]

Gunners also target women and the disabled. As Jennifer Longdon sat in her wheelchair in an airport after appearing in a press conference with a new group Everytown for Gun Safety, a man spit in her face. No one reacted. Longdon was paralyzed in 2004 after unknown assailants shot her in her car. It’s not the first time she has been threatened. After attending a fundraiser in Phoenix (AZ), a man appeared at her home and pulled the trigger on a rifle pointed at her, hitting her with a stream of water.  “Don’t you wish you had a gun now, bitch?” he said before he left.

Gunners have made vicious, sexually-degrading attacks on a woman for simply trying to sell the new “smart guns,” invading her privacy, trolling her online, and bullying her through telephone calls.

Last April, Brett Sanders, a member of Open Carry Texas in Plano (TX) posted the name and cell phone number of a woman who had called the police after seeing a group of heavily armed men when she went to a shopping mall. The post claimed that she had called 911 although she had contacted the nonemergency police line. Footage of the demonstration were from friendly-looking demonstrations, not the once that the woman encountered. Callers told the woman, a high school teacher, that was a “a piece of shit,” a “stupid bitch,” and “motherfucking whore”—amid death threats. Two men also called in about the demonstration, but Open Carry Texas did not publicize their information.

Open Carry Texas is the same group that posted 40 heavily-armed members at an Arlington restaurant where four women from Moms Demand Action were having lunch.

mannequin mad minuteAlthough the group tries to present an image of friendly people, some of their actions belie this claim. In March, a group held a “mad minute” with a female mannequin at a firing range. The figure was positioned naked from the waist up with arms raised in surrender. After blowing off the arms, the shooters pulled down the mannequin’s pants to the ankles. “Mad minute” comes from the term Open Carry Texas members use for Moms Demand Action—“mad moms.” Four of the shooters were at the Arlington restaurant; one is listed as a Open Carry Texas board member and the group’s Director of Operations.

CJ Grisham, the founder of Open Carry Texas, said he wasn’t part of the group of shooters, but the Facebook posting elicited his comment: “Warms the cockles of my heart.” He calls Moms Demand Action “ignorant, retarded people” and “thugs with jugs.”

Last October, Open Carry Texas invited radio host Alex Jones as a rally speaker to hundreds of armed people at the Alamo.”These scumbags are all the same!” he shouted as he described a worldwide conspiracy to take away everyone’s guns. He concluded by saying, “Don’t be mean to the million mom march, all five of ’em. These are pathetic zombies. Just realize they’re stupid victims that want us to live like they do, slaves.”

Jones left the rally to harass people at a Moms Demand Action midday kids’ event with crafts and family activities. Stephanie Lundy explained to Jones’ associate, Anthony Gucciardi, that Jones was physically harassing Lonnie Philips, the father of 24-year-old Jessica Philips who was murdered in the 2012 gun massacre at the Aurora (CO) movie theater. Gucciardi ignored Lundy, but Phillips finally told him that an assault rifle had killed his daughter. Jones’ video, posted later, ended with his saying, “There’s five people here against the guns, and they’re claiming—it’s probably true, there’s a guy whose got a lot of sadness in his eyes—that it’s his loved one that was lost at Aurora, and that that’s basically our fault.”

It’s not the first time that Open Carry Texas has harassed the Phillips. Earlier, the director of operations had posted on her Facebook, “Sandy, nice banner pic of you eating at In ‘n’ Out burger. I open carry there all the time. Very gun friendly place.”

A Florida firearms instructor filmed himself blasting a paper target bearing the Moms Demand Action. He posted the cluster of bullet holes on the group’s Facebook page with a grin and the statement, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The group shared the video on the Facebook page of the man’s local church, and negative comments led to the removal of the instructor’s video.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, said, “For me, the question is always, ‘Why does this person want to kill or rape or silence me?’ I think the answer is that this issue touches a cultural nerve based on gender, geography, and other politics. There are pundits who make a good deal of money encouraging this type of anger.”

The NRA originally denounced the open-carry demonstrations as “foolishness” and “downright weird” but later apologized to Open Carry Texas for their statement. Once again, the NRA has proved that their only interest is in making money and following the dictates of gun manufacturers.

Other businesses are starting realize that they are losing money, however, because people don’t want to go in a place where gunners insist on carrying their semi-automatic rifles. At least seven restaurants have noted that the proliferation of semi-automatic rifles is unnerving and angering patrons. Sonic and Chili’s Grill & Bar are the most recent to institute a no-carry policy.

A new poll has found that 55 percent of people in the U.S. prefer that guns stay out of retail stores and restaurants while only 32 percent think that guns belong there. By a 61 percent to 32 percent margin, people approve of Chipotle’s decision to keep guns out of their restaurants. Only 39 percent of people are in favor of open carry laws, with 44 percent in opposition. The poll found a difference between political parties in their approval of open carry guns and carrying them in businesses where they take their families.

Thanks to loose gun laws in red states, many people live in areas where people—primarily white men—strut around with semi-automatic rifles throughout the streets and inside businesses including bars. As they appear at political events, others are intimidated, becoming more and more afraid of voicing their opinions. People aren’t even safe in their own homes because information about them is posted online.

No one disagreeing with a gunner is safe. Gunners threaten people for any actions. Recently a Minnesota man pulled a gun on his neighbor because the man wouldn’t teach his daughter to ride a bicycle in the way that the gunner wanted. Shooting people for any reason has become part of U.S. culture.

In The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman has documented the history of gun laws and discusses ways to change the culture. He cites Abraham Lincoln who said, when talking about slavery:

“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”

As long as the public thinks that people have the right to use guns to intimidate and threaten anyone for anything, the culture—and the law—will not change. We have gone far beyond the right to “bear arms.” The United States now allows gunners to threaten everyone else.

We have become a country controlled by ammosexuals. The Urban Dictionary explains the term:

“A sexual fetish that finds pleasure in the power to kill dozens of people with the pull of a trigger. An ammosexual may understand the desire of other people to live, but feels all the greater pleasure in contemplating that he has the power to overcome that desire with his power. Ammosexuals are very protective of their fetish, and attack even the slightest gun safety measure on the grounds that they interfere with their pleasure. Many ammosexuals practice the religion of gundamentalism or demand the invasion of weaker countries as a means of reaching wargasm. After every mass killing, ammosexuals gather for an orgy of suppressing gun control measures.”

Not every person owning a gun is an ammosexual, only those who are willing to use powerful weapons to control everyone else by destroying their rights. Those are the people who chase people with cameras, make anonymous death threats, and spit on paralyzed women. Those are the people who have perverted the U.S. Constitution.

April 10, 2014

A Few Steps Forward in Protection from Guns

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:50 PM
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Twenty-four people were wounded yesterday in horrific stabbings at a Pennsylvania school. Those who oppose any gun control say, “See! It’s not guns that are the problem.” They point out that a student was stabbed to death in school last September. Yet that’s only one person, compared to the thousands of people who die every year because of guns.

Guns kill far more people in the United States than knives: guns cause two-thirds of the homicides whereas only 13.4% of murders result from knives or other cutting instruments.  Of 37 public mass killings since 2006, 33 involved firearms, the other four being the Boston Marathon bombings, an incident involving a car, and two cases of arson. Far more suicides come from guns than sharp objects.

Even worse may be the “accidental” deaths because of people’s carelessness. In Arizona, a man’s Glock pistol falls from his waistband, and his three-year-old son picks it up, shooting himself in the head and killing himself. That happened five days before Christmas last year. State Rep. Victoria Steele introduced a bill, similar to laws in 28 states, that would make it a crime to store an unsecured loaded gun where children might be. There was never a hearing.

What got hearings in the Arizona legislature were speeded-up permits for specialized high-caliber weapons such as machine guns and fines for city council members who try to pass stricter gun laws than from the state. At least 32 Arizona children were killed in 2012. Fifty percent of these were by a gun that belonged to the child’s biological parent. Nationwide, at least 134 children accidentally died from gunshots in 2010, a number most likely undercounted by half because of misleading reporting and not counting seriously injured children. Like the three-year-old Arizona child who shot himself in the “lower torso” by one of the many unsecured guns in the home.

Todd Rathner, a member of the NRA’s board of directors, thinks that people with guns should have the entire family trained for safety, but he doesn’t see a requirement as “the responsibility of the government.” His cop-out is that parents let their children be hurt or killed and that gun deaths shouldn’t be singled out. Actually, many laws do protect children from irresponsible parents.

Fortunately, some progress—or at least a bit of holding ground—has been made in protecting people from shootings, such as a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

A federal law prevents people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. Several courts, including the supposedly-liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that this ban only refers to convictions that involved a “violent use of force.” In a surprising unanimous ruling, SCOTUS overturned these rulings by determining that the ban applied to everyone who pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of DV without proof of violent acts of physical injury.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said:

“Domestic violence is not merely a type of ‘violence.’ It is a term of art encompassing acts that one might not characterize as ‘violent’ in a non-domestic context [and includes acts such as] pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting.”

The ruling in U.S. vs. Castleman brings back the illegal gun possession charges against the Tennessee man who pled guilty to causing “bodily injury” to his child’s mother and was later charged with violating the law by possessing firearms. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court dismissed charges because of no proof that he had “violent contact with the victim.”

Washington state now requires people with histories of domestic violence to give up their weapons if they are under no-contact or permanent restraining orders. Gun owners are allowed to participate in a hearing to contest the order. The impetus for the law, unanimously passed in both houses, came from Stephanie Holton’s telling about her husband threatening to blow off her head as he pointed a gun at her in her living room.

The couple divorced after 12 years of marriage and two children with Stephanie having primary custody. When her ex-husband’s behavior because increasingly erratic, she told a friend, a police officer, who suggested that she file a police report. After her ex-husband came to her house when she wasn’t there, she asked for a protective order and told the judge that she was frightened because he had guns.

Corey Holton came to the house the same day the order was served, ordered her into the house, and forced her to kneel in the living room. Fortunately, the police took him into custody with no more violence, and he has been sentenced to 75 months in prison with a lifetime no-contact order involving Stephanie.

The 9th Circuit Court upheld a San Francisco ordinance requiring that people must either lock up guns or keep them on their person while at home as well as the city code that prohibits the sale of hollow-point bullets which expand inside a target. Gun owners and the NRA tried to maintain that the Second Amendment allows hollow-point bullets and unlimited gun storage. The ordinance allows people to buy hollow-point bullets outside the city and bring them back to their homes. The losers have promised to appeal. Earlier this year, the court ruled that people can carry guns outside their homes.

Last month, Milwaukee (WI) County Circuit Judge Michael Guolee ruled in favor of two police officers in a lawsuit against former gun dealers and their owners who had moved for summary judgment. The case, filed by two officers injured by weapons bought from Badger Guns, is now headed for a trial. Two other officers also received a ruling to go to trial in a similar case. Badger Guns and Badger Outdoors have been top sellers of guns used in crimes recovered by Milwaukee police for more than a decade.

In 2005, Badger Outdoors was the top U.S. seller of guns used in crimes with 537 weapons traced back to the company. ATF investigators recommended that the company’s license be revoked in 2006, but the store simply changed to Badger Guns because the son of Badger Outdoors’ owner obtained a new license. When ATF revoked his license for Badger Guns in 2011, his brother opened Brew City Shooters Supply in 2012.

In at least 50 cases across the country, people with revoked licenses maintain a close relationship to the gun-selling operation. Congress has limited ATF’s authority to gather evidence in finding these places and closing them down.

The killing of four men at Fort Hood last week brought out an uncharacteristic statement from House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): “There’s no question that those with mental health issues should be prevented from owning weapons or being able to purchase weapons.” He thought the bill to prevent a Medicare reimbursement cut to doctors also contained funding for pilot programs studying the link between gun violence and mental illness, but it didn’t. His speech also blamed the VA for the shooting because the House wants to make it easier for the department’s secretary to fire senior officials.

Fox’s American News HQ wanted a guest to call for arming all the military on posts. Instead retired four-star general Jack Keane said:

“I don’t believe our soldiers should be armed on the base. […] Can you imagine the first responders coming on a scene, and there’s people shooting all over the place, and they have to determine who is friend and who is foe? I think the potential for leading to more violence by arming everybody is rather significant.”

Fox made the same claim about Navy Yard shooting, not knowing that some of the victims were armed personnel. Keane continued to point out that soldiers aren’t trained to control and de-escalate a situation as police are. The woman who stopped the Fort Hood shooter was a trained MP.

People who equate more guns with less violence are operating in an extremely simplistic fashion, assuming that every person with a gun carefully evaluates the situation and respond in a calm and appropriate manner. It’s the reverse: more guns = more violence.

November 13, 2013

Purpose of Guns to Intimidate, Kill

“I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly.” That’s what Dick Metcalf wrote in the December issue of Guns & Ammo where he argued for mandatory training for gun owners.

Metcalf has a history with fighting any gun control. Last year he led the charge to pass a law in his home Pike County (IL) to carry concealed weapons with no permit, calling it “constitutional carry.” Thirty years ago he lobbied for loosening gun restrictions that came into effect after Robert Kennedy’s assassination. Yet he believes in Illinois’ new law to require training for all gun owners.

Anti-gun control protesters fought back against what they perceived as Metcalf’s unreasonable “diatribe.” On his blog “The Truth about Guns,” Robert Farago said that the Metcalf’s argument was a “bone-headed, uninformed, patently obvious misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.” Cancellations to Metcalf’s magazine piled onto more angry comments, and two gun manufacturers threatened to pull their advertizing.

Last week I wrote about this situation and described how the magazine’s editor, Jim Bequette, resigned following the backlash of publishing criticism  Metcalf’s column and apologized for his mistake in publishing any dissension to the hardest core gun carriers. In contrast, Metcalf stood by his words:

“If a respected editor can be forced to resign and a controversial writer’s voice be shut down by a one-sided social-media and internet outcry, virtually overnight, simply because they dared to open a discussion or ask questions about a politically sensitive issue . . . then I fear for the future of our industry, and for our Cause. Do not 2nd Amendment adherents also believe in Freedom of Speech? Do Americans now fear open and honest discussion of different opinions about important Constitutional issues? Do voices from cyberspace now control how and why business decisions are made?

“In today’s political climate within the community of firearms owners, even to open a discussion about whether 2nd Amendment rights can be regulated at all, is to be immediately and aggressively branded as anti-gun and anti-American by outspoken hard-corps pro-gunners who believe the answer is an absolute ‘NO!’ ….

“I further clearly understand that owning or driving a vehicle is not a constitutional right, and that keeping and bearing arms is. But both involve issues of public safety, which is why both are of great and immediate interest to a great number of Americans for much the same reasons. Should we not speak of both in the same sentence?”

As the conflict about gun carrying grows hotter and hotter, maybe people like Dick Metcalf will understand the dangers coming from people who believe it is their right to intimidate anyone who has the temerity to disagree with them.

For example, last weekend in Dallas (TX) when four women, members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, met in a restaurant. Outside about 40 members of the Open Carry group gathered, brandishing semi-automatic rifles and other weapons, posing for photographs, and waiting for the women to leave—in a sense, holding them hostage. A spokeswoman for the restaurant said that no one called the police for fear of “inciting a riot” although people inside the restaurant were afraid.

Later OCT emailed the women:

“People are ‘getting used’ to seeing and being around guns and police have come to accept it and don’t even question us anymore. What we are doing is working and society is coming to view the sight of ‘military style rifles’ in public as just another normal thing. Isn’t that a good thing?”

People parading around with weapons strapped on their bodies is not new: a group decided to do the same thing at the Oregon capitol building last year to prove that they could do this. Open-carry advocates have targeted MDA meetings before, for example an event in Indianapolis last spring and a Let’s Roll America event at the Texas capitol last month. They also met at the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and at the Alamo.

Although Texas prevents open carrying “in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm,” OCT claims that their “objective is to educate, not alarm.” If anyone is frightened, that’s not OCT’s problem because they don’t have that intent. Free speech can be difficult to define. For example, is driving at 100 miles per hour on the highway to protest speed limits considered free speech?

Even Charles C.W. Cooke’s comments on the highly conservative National Review indicates that OCT might have gone too far:

“As a matter of personal taste, I dislike the tactics that Open Carry Texas used, and I think they got close to ‘intimidation.’ Unlike the protest depicted above, targeting a small group while carrying rifles strikes me as a counter-productive and mean strategy and one likely to turn off people who are instinctively on Second Amendment advocates’ side. Regardless of the legality of the thing, it is almost certainly ill-advised to alarm people in the name of making them feel more comfortable around guns.”

Cooke, however, complained about the photograph that Think Progress provided with its article.

open-carry-texas-moms-demand-action-gun-555x403

The philosophy of the modern pro-gun movement is its belief that they should be able to shoot and kill anyone who opposed their position—including elected officials, police, and military members. After President Obama planned to go to Dallas, almost 50 years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination there, two Texas-based Facebook pages displayed fantasies of also killing the current president through such comments as “take him via Dealey Plaza [where Kennedy was killed]”  and “Can he had a parade just like jfk?” Derek Roesler showed off his .50-caliber sniper rifle and wrote, “Drive him past the old book depository.” Russell Boyd fantasized, “Maybe another president will be sworn in on Air Force One as in the past. Everyone say’s [sic] that history repeat’s it’s [sic] self.”

Obviously Texas conservatives aren’t alone in their eagerness to kill people in authority. In September  conservative California radio host repeated a so-called “joke” with the punch line  that Abraham Lincoln told Hillary Clinton that she should “go to the theater.” Last May radio host Pete Santilli said Clinton should be “shot in the vagina” for being “involved in the killings of American troops.”

Last February the Wisconsin NRA handed out copies of The Reality News, calling for the armed overturn of the government. Karl Koenigs asked for a dictatorship which he and his followers would control. Thus a lobbying group for passage of laws distributed material at a state meeting calling for civil war.

Larry Klayman has declared November 19, six days from today, the day that he and his followers will march in Washington, D.C. and overthrow the government because the president is a Muslim. They plan to send Obama to “72 Virgins,” a thinly veiled death threat. 

Flyers from those who want a dictatorship with the Tea Party in charge read: ”Elections are not the solution to our problem; elections are the problem!” And these people are the ones carrying the guns with intent to kill.

One month from tomorrow is the anniversary of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children and seven adults were shot and killed. Three pro-gun groups have decided to call December 14, “Guns Save Lives Day.” A press release last month from the Second Amendment Foundation, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and DefendGunRights.com, stated that the day is a reminder that “crazy people, criminals and gun control extremists prefer unarmed victims.”

Every day in the United States, people are killed through either acts of violence or stupidity—or both. Men murder women because of domestic violence, children shoot themselves or others because adults don’t lock up guns and ammunition, a father even shoots and kills his son because the son didn’t want to stay and watch a football game at a bar. These are the people whose lives weren’t saved through guns.

The only purpose of a gun is to kill. People carrying guns intend to use them for this purpose, frequently to kill anyone who gets in their way.

November 8, 2013

No Help for Gun Violence

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:45 PM
Tags: , , ,

The U.S. House members aren’t in session right now except to have hearings haranguing Secretary of Health Kathryn Sebelius about the problems with Obamacare’s website. They come back next Tuesday for the month’s eight days of work—technically six days because there are no votes before 6:30 pm the first day of their week and none after 3:30 pm the last day. After their scheduled eight days in December, they can breathe a sigh of relief as they get onto the planes running on time because they tweaked sequester laws for personal benefit.

Fortunately, thanks to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chair of the Rules Committee, we know the complete House agenda. “Everything we do in this body should be about messaging to win back the Senate,” he said. “That’s it.” At least, the House has a wider agenda than the Senate. Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced in 2008, a nanosecond after President Obama was elected for the first time, that his entire agenda was to see that the president wasn’t re-elected. He failed which means that he has nothing on his agenda now except to get himself re-elected.

For the rest of the 113th Congress—which still has another year after the end of this one—the voters who elected the obstructionists will see no movement on any issues– immigration, gun control, anti-discrimination laws like ENDA, tax reform, lifting the sequester …. The list goes on. The farm bill may have to operate on a half-century-old law because the House won’t compromise with the Senate. We can forget about any results from the  joint House and Senate committee’s budget proposal due by December 7 with a January 15, 2014 deadline for acceptance.

Gun control is certainly dead despite the number of people killed each day. In his satiric column, Andy Borowitz described gun violence in the country:

“A new study released today indicates that Americans are safe from the threat of gun violence except in schools, malls, airports, movie theatres, workplaces, streets, and their own homes. Also: highways, turnpikes, libraries, places of worship, parks, universities, restaurants, post offices, and cars. Plus: driveways, garages, gyms, stores, military bases—and a host of other buildings, structures, and sites.

“National Rifle Association C.E.O. Wayne LaPierre applauded the study, saying that it reinforced his organization’s long-held position that the United States does not need additional gun laws. ‘This study makes it abundantly clear that Americans are in no danger of gun violence except in these isolated four hundred and thirteen places,’ he said. He added that he hoped that the study would spark a conversation ‘about the root cause of mass shootings: people who recklessly show up at places where they could be shot at.’”

Black humor aside, the NRA made it easier for a gunman to kill a TSA agent and wound six others at a LAX security checkpoint a week ago. It was the second airport shooting in six months. The NRA has consistently campaigned for firearms to be brought into airports with greater ease and criticized security for any efforts to block guns on airplanes. Although federal law prevents travelers from taking firearms past checkpoints, many state laws allow people to carry guns before they reach security checkpoints because of NRA propaganda.

Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin either permit firearms in areas of airports or prohibit them only past checkpoints. In California, where the most recent airport shooting occurred, the NRA fought 2012’s Assembly Bill 2182, requiring the arrest of people who bring guns into airports and banning them from entering airports after that arrest. Thanks to the NRA, the bill stayed in committee. Virginia, Georgia, and Ohio have recently introduced bills that would allow people to carry firearms in airports.

After a TSA agent questioned a girl carrying a firearm-shaped purse, the NRA cried harassment. Yet TSA agents confiscated 30 percent more guns, many loaded, in 2013 than the previous year. Most of them said that they “forgot” they had them, which means that the presence of guns in our society is almost everywhere. The week before the LAX shooting, the TSA found 29 firearms—27 of them loaded. The week before, the take was 39 firearms.

The NRA also gives candidates “A” rating for supporting guns in airports. The group spent more than $500,000 to make Ken Cuccinelli governor of Virginia after he voted against a 2004 bill that would have banned guns in airport terminals. The bill won, and Cuccinelli lost. The NRA may argue that looser gun laws would have stopped the LAX shooting because a bystander would have shot the gunman. That doesn’t really work, as history has shown.

The carelessness of so-called responsible gun owners is appalling:

  • Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-KS) lost her AR-15 after she left it leaning against a locker in her unlocked garage.
  • Missouri House staffer Dave Evans left his loaded gun in the men’s restroom of the State Capital Building.
  • Someone lost a loaded gun under a chair cushion in a New York hotel, and another left one on a ride at Disney World.
  • A nine-year-old boy found a loaded semi-automatic gun in the men’s room of a movie theater in Tampa (FL), and seventh-graders found another one in another movie theater in Tillamook (OR).
  • An armed guard left his loaded weapon in a public restroom at a Texas convenience store.
  • Two loaded guns were left in a tent outside a Georgia furniture store.
  • Another gun was in a Dallas (TX) courthouse restroom.
  • Gun owners held a gun legalization rally in Ohio in September to prove that gun owners are responsible. Someone left a loaded magazine behind in Oberlin’s Park Street Park after the rally.

Guns show up in public buildings, restrooms, garages, homes—everywhere. All this means that kids can find guns in restrooms or on a Disney ride or while sitting on a chair in a hotel. Three fifth-graders even found a loaded gun at an archaeological dig.

Criminals might be more responsible in knowing how stupid and careless these gun owners are. In Cincinnati (OH) a man found a note in his car: “LOADED GUN: Unlocked Car = STUPID” and “LOTS OF Children in Area.” Missing were the man’s “throwing knife, sheath, .40 caliber pistol and magazines.” The man had left his Toyota Corolla unlocked.

In at least one North Carolina state-mandated concealed carry handgun (CCH) class, necessary to get a CCH permit in the state, a law enforcement officer told attendees to store loaded guns under the bed. The state doesn’t monitor these classes to see how they are run.

People opposing any gun control laws refuse to tolerate a reasonable discourse about the subject. Guns & Ammo editor Jim Bequette wanted to generate a “healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights” by publishing a column that suggested a little regulation might fit into the Second Amendment. The backlash caused Bequette to quit and the magazine to cut ties with the column’s author. the column’s error came from defending an Illinois state law requiring training for people before they could get a concealed-carry permit in the state. The author of the column wrote:

“I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly. And I do believe their fellow citizens, by the specific language of the Second Amendment, have an equal right to enact regulatory laws requiring them to undergo adequate training and preparation for the responsibility of bearing arms.”

The mainstream media has become so blasé about mass killings that they fail to report many of these. A few days before the TSA agent will killed at LAX, a Texas man shot and killed five people. Yesterday, the killing of three people and injuring of another six by a shooter in Detroit didn’t even 

When a seventh-grader shot a teacher, two 12-year-old boys, and himself at a school in Sparks (NV), major cable news channels referred to the disaster only briefly throughout the day. The breaking news event that day was the release of Apple’s new iPad and iPad mini. The shooting was the 15th school shooting of the year but the first time that the new technology had gone on the market.

Killings are so common that police have joined in the violence with no excuse. Tyler Comstock, 19, was shot and killed by a police officer on the campus of Iowa State University because Comstock’s father wanted to teach him a lesson. After his father wouldn’t buy him a pack of cigarettes, Comstock took his father’s truck without permission. The father reported the theft to teach his son a lesson, and the police pursued Comstock. He pulled over the truck, but when he didn’t turn off the engine, a police officer fired six rounds and killed the unarmed teenager. The officer ignored two pleas from an unidentified police staffer, who said, “Hey, we know who this is. It’s a kid, back off.”  

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-sanford-neighborhood-watch-guns-20131104,0,7629896.story    I had some hope when the Sanford (FL) Police Department banned Neighborhood Watch members from carrying guns after George Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon Martin. Protests forced them to back down on the new policy and move to “recommending” that people leave their guns at home while looking for danger around them.

Borowitz needs to add neighborhoods and archaeological digs to the places where people aren’t safe from gun violence.

September 19, 2013

Gun Culture Leads to Murder, Suicide

Ho-hum. There was another mass shooting a few days ago, this one killing 13 people. It’s business as usual in the gun culture of the United States. This time, a veteran and defense-industry employee got into the Washington Navy Yard in the nation’s capital by using his pass. No particular outrage—just the customary stupid responses from the right.

Alex Jones said it’s all a fake, the same thing he said about earlier mass shootings and the Boston bombing. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who has moved from The View to Fox network, thinks that a solution is to ban video games. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said, “Blaming this on guns is like saying the big problem with obesity is we’ve got too many spoons.” CNN was back to doing its dance around the facts although this time, they would say that they might be getting in the information wrong after every report.

The conservative Reds are screaming that the carnage happened because the Navy Yard is a “gun free zone.” As usual, they got it wrong: only civilians there were not permitted to carry guns. They also skipped the fact that the first person killed was an armed security guard, that “internal security” immediately began firing at the gunman, and that local police officers arrived within two or three minutes.

Not one mass shooting in the past 30 years has been stopped by an armed civilian. Fewer than one-fourth of the mass shootings in the past four years occurred in “gun free zones.” And there is not one shred of evidence that shooters targeted places where guns were prohibited. Then conservatives decided to blame President Clinton for a policy approved during the that George H.W. Bush administration.

So many people carry guns that the police have started firing at anything that indicates the slightest bit of danger. After 24-year-old Jonathan Ferrell, former Florida A&M football player, was in a car crash, he dragged himself to the nearest house to find help. The owner called 911, and three officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina came to the scene. Police accused Ferrell of charging them, and Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, fired at Ferrell 12 times, eventually killing him. The charge against Kerrick involves killing without malice, using “excessive force” in “imperfect self-defense.”

A study by the New York Times shows that highly trained New York City police officers who discharged their guns in public hit their intended targets only 34 percent of the time. That means that these police officers miss their targets two-thirds of the time.  Last Saturday evening, police were aiming at a mentally disturbed man walking in and out of traffic but shot two innocent bystanders. One of the women, using a walker, was shot in her knee.

Today, a man in Michigan suffering from road rage fired at another car. The second man shot back. The result is two more funerals.

The Navy Yard killings happened nine months and two days after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown (CT) killed 26 people. On the same day, a crazed man in China attacked children in an elementary school. During that massacre, 22 children were seriously injured, but none was killed. The man had a machete, not a gun. The U.S. shooter had a military-grade weapon capable of firing a bullet every two seconds.

Details about Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old shooter, show that he had been suffering from “a host of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder” and reported hearing “voices in his head.” He was involved in at least two incidents involving a gun while in the Navy and was discharged in January 2011. His “pattern of misconduct” ended his military career but didn’t stop him from legally carrying guns. He got a concealed carry permit from Texas and bought a shotgun in Virginia because the two states honor each other’s gun licenses. Washington, D.C. has tough gun laws, which means that 98.2 percent of all guns used for crime in the District come from states with weaker gun laws, including Virginia just across the Potomac River.

At least 17 mass murders, defined by the FBI as the slaying of four or more people, have occurred thus far this year. Shootings related to drug or gang violence don’t get the publicity as one gunman. HuffPost prepared the following graphic from news sources, including Reddit’s community-generated database of mass shootings. There may be more, but NRA pressure keeps the government from compiling statistics. It includes killing sprees that occurred in more than one location, but the ones that happen on more than one day, such as the string of homicides committed by ex-cop Christopher Dorner in Los Angeles, aren’t listed.

2013_09_MassShootingsALT_4

Guns have killed about 24,580 Americans since Newtown, according to Slate’s estimate based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; we’re pretty much on target for the annual 30,000+ deaths. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google, the fifth most frequent cause of death in the United States is “unintentional injuries”–including those inflicted by guns. The tenth most frequent cause of death in the country is suicide, including those involving guns. And the 16th most frequent cause of death in the country is homicide, including many murders-by-gun. Those figures are on a par with people in the nation who die from cancer and heart disease.

People in the U.S. have far greater odds of getting killed by other people in the country than by terrorists—about one in 20 million. The number is greater in areas that have more gun ownership. Boston University’s School of Public Health has released the results of a new study showing a connection between gun ownership and gun violence. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study found a direct correlation between gun ownership rates and homicides in the U.S.

Conservatives and the NRA have attempted to show that stricter gun laws did not lead to fewer “intentional deaths.” Breitbart.com columnist AWR Hawkins cited a Harvard University study from Europe. It listed Eastern Europe and Scandinavia but skipped countries such as the UK, Italy, Portugal, and Spain; much of it concentrates on homicide rates in the U.S. and Russia. Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser, authors of the study, have a history of bias in their connections to organizations and their opposition to gun control legislation.

Dr. Michael Siegel, the principal author of the Boston University study, looked at data from all 50 states going back over 30 years. According to AFP.com, the study “determined for every one percentage point in the prevalence of gun ownership in a given state, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9 percent.” Siegel commented on the findings:

“This research is the strongest to date to document that states with higher levels of gun ownership have disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides. It suggests that measures which succeed in decreasing the overall prevalence of guns will lower firearm homicide rates.”

A summary of the main findings:

  • Over the three decades, the mean estimated percentage of gun ownership ranged from a low of 25.8 percent in Hawaii to a high of 76.8 percent in Mississippi, with an average over all states of 57.7 percent.
  • The mean age-adjusted firearm homicide rate ranged from a low of 0.9 per 100,000 population in New Hampshire to a high of 10.8 per 100,000 in Louisiana over the three decades, with an average for all states of 4 per 100,000.
  • For all states, the average firearm homicide rate decreased from 5.2 per 100,000 in 1981 to 3.5 per 100,000 in 2010.

Other studies show that a gun in the home increases the incidence of suicide, particularly for young people. According to another new study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the strongest predictor of how likely a person is to die from suicide within a given state is whether they have a gun in the home.

Guns don’t increase the number of attempts; they just increase the risk of succeeding. Victims who attempt suicide using pills or cutting are 100 times more likely to survive, said Dr. Matthew Miller, the study’s author, whereas “you don’t get a second chance when you use a gun.” Less than 10 of suicide survivors make another attempt. Nearly one in five people under 21 who are at risk for suicide have guns in their homes.

The irony of Monday’s shooting is that a Senate hearing on gun laws had to be postponed. The mothers of two Florida teenage boys slain by gunfire were slated to testify about their opposition to their state’s infamous “Stand Your Ground” law. The hearing has yet to be rescheduled. One woman is the mother of Trayvon Martin, killed by George Zimmerman; the other woman’s child is 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who died after an intoxicated man fired into the back of a SUV because he didn’t like the music. The killer said he didn’t know anyone had died until the next morning.

One CEO has decided to buck the gun culture. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has asked customers to stop bringing guns into his 11,000 coffee shops after the increasing number of “Starbucks Appreciation Days” when extremists wander around the coffee places displaying their guns. Their actions led to gun safety advocates’ promoting “Skip Starbucks Saturdays” urging “the public to get their caffeine fix somewhere other than Starbucks” and “post a photo of themselves enjoying a non-Starbucks coffee.”

Schultz is one of the good guys. He supports marriage equality, suggesting that opponents can just sell their Starbucks stock. He also openly supports raising the minimum wage and has stated that Starbucks has no intention of cutting workers’ hours or employee benefits in response to Obamacare. As some gun owners pointed out, extremists are ruining gun ownership for everyone else.

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