Nel's New Day

March 13, 2015

Dueling Gun Bills in Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

open carry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 9, 2014

U.S. Mimics Sunnis, Moves toward Fascism

Good versus evil: that’s how conservatives in the United States frame their relationship with Middle Eastern countries. The current determination of the Sunnis to take back Iraq after the U.S. destroyed the country has brought this belief to a roiling boil. Using religion as an excuse to control the country, Sunnis and Shiites are vying for political power in Iraq. It’s a parallel to the attempt of the conservatives–primarily Christians–to take over control of the United States.

The most recent move toward this control was the ruling by five white men to put themselves about federal law and deny contraception to thousands of people. These five men decided that 90 percent of U.S. for-profit “human” corporations have the right to control millions of women’s lives, many of them minorities. Their excuse for supremacy is the Christian bible, which says nothing about contraception.

Fundamentalist religion has morphed the New Testament’s brown-skinned liberal Jewish messiah, who freely gave away health care and redistributed wealth, into a muscular masculine warrior so blond and white that he would have been admired by the Nazi culture. To promote this new vision of the Christian leader, people needed to negate women’s value because of the Christian male belief that feminists have created an effeminate clergy.

Conservatives have increasingly spewed their hatred of anyone different from them. In the past, they mostly concentrated on destroying themselves, for example overeating sweets after First Lady Michele Obama tried to educate people about stopping obesity with sensible eating. The libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has declared Salvation Army’s annual Doughnut Day as a time for “patriotic civil disobedience” by asking people to eat at least two, not one, doughnut.

Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform demonstrates conspicuous waste by throwing a “sin tax party,” where guests can enjoy the spirits and foods being hit by higher taxes. An invitation to the 2012 party announced that guests could “celebrate finally paying off the burden of government by enjoying these extra-taxed goods that bear the strain of the growing Nanny State.”

Resentful of people who want to make people aware of the energy that we use, CEI asks people to leave all their lights burning during the “Earth Hour,” 60 minutes when many people turn off all electricity. CEI calls its waste, “Human Achievement Hour.”

Trying to show their power over everyone else, ammosexuals use “open carry” laws to carry as many of their biggest and baddest assault rifles in as many open spaces as possible.

Coal Roll bicycleNot satisfied with just causing fear and chaos, a group of truck owners have a new “game”—a way to retrofit a diesel truck so that it requires more fuel. As one person who sells the stack kits to do this said, “I run into a lot of people who really don’t like Obama at all. If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”

coal rollingThe “rolling coal” trucks can be easily identified by the “Prius Repellant” decals that most of them sport. At a cost of $1,000 to $5,000, truck owners can add smoke stacks and switches—maybe even revamp the entire fuel system. High school senior Ryan explained why he does it:

  “If someone makes you mad, you can just roll coal, and it makes you feel better sometimes. The other day I did it to this kid who was driving a Mustang with his windows down, and it was awesome.”

So the reason is to upset someone else. Who cares that these pollutants cause 21,000 premature deaths every year and cancer at seven times more than the combined risk of all other 181 other air toxics.

Norfolk, Nebraska, a small town in the northern central part of the state, openly showed off its vicious bigotry during the Fourth of July parade with a float depicting a zombie-like statue of President Obama in front of an outhouse. For those who might not get the point, the building was labeled “Obama Presidential Library.” The mostly white audience cheered and pointed at it.

outhouse

Mayor Susan Fuchtman tried to disavow any connection with the parade on the town’s public streets when she claimed it was put together by the Odd Fellows Lodge. Defenders called it “political satire,” and parade emcee Wally Sonnenschein said it wasn’t meant to be racist. The float won honorable mention.  The Odd Fellows has been active in the United States for almost two centuries. Its home page for the Odd Fellows organization states that “Friendship, Love and Truth are the basic guidelines that we need to follow in our daily lives.”

Parade committee member Rick Konopasek said that the outhouse float was the most popular one in the parade. “It’s obvious the majority of the community liked it. So should we deny the 95% of those that liked it their rights, just for the 5% of people who are upset?”

The hatred of many conservatives for the undocumented children caught at the Texas border and shipped to Arizona and California is another mark of the deep schism within the U.S. Screaming “USA! USA! USA!” angry white people pounded on buses with Latino children and even spit in the faces of Hispanics in the crowd. At Murrieta (CA), protesters forced bus drivers to go to another facility in the state. Fox network and other conservative sources have inflamed the violence by reporting—with no basis—that the children are disease-ridden with scabies, measles, and tuberculosis.

Many of the children are actually refugees, fleeing gang violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. In demanding that all the children be immediately sent home, conservative networks and Internet sites ignore—or are ignorant of—a law passed during George W. Bush’s second term. Large bipartisan majorities passed the law in 2008 to protect young victims of sex trafficking and slavery. According to this law, children from countries that do not border the U.S. must be placed with family members or with foster families while waiting for deportation hearings. That process can take two or three years.

In her Christian/nationalist fervor, conservative Christian Holly Fisher celebrated the Hobby Lobby decision by posing with a pro-life t-shirt, and Chick-fil-a cup outside one of the stores. Evidently the image wasn’t strong enough for her so she added guns, Bible, and U.S. flag. This iconic image of fundamentalism is startlingly similar to one from the other side of the world. Even the crooked smiles are the same on the two women clutching their religious books and similar rifles in front of their flags.

Holly fisher

These actions reflect characteristics of fascist regimes that use patriotic and religious symbols to show how dedicated they are to a religiously-based government.  At the same time, fascists have great disdain for human rights, scapegoating liberals and racial, ethnic, or religious minorities who conservatives consider enemies. Fascists believe in torture and long prisoner incarceration while providing a disproportionately high percentage of federal funding for their military. Because fascist countries are male-dominated, gender roles are more rigid, and women’s rights are suppressed. And because they rule by fear, fascists protect corporate power that gives government leaders their positions. Rulers of fascist regimes suppress labor, indulge in rampant cronyism and corruption, and reject education and the arts.

Fraudulent laws in fascist countries suppress the right to vote as evidenced throughout the U.S. Recent Supreme Court rulings have monetized the electoral process and promoted state religion. Almost 80 years ago, Sinclair Lewis wrote, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” We’re almost there.

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