Nel's New Day

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had ordered permission for people on the terrorist no-fly list to purchase guns after 9/11, and the order has not been repealed in the past 14 years, despite cries to stop foreign terrorists from killing.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.

March 14, 2013

The GOP – Politics of Death

“The reason I’m opposing this is not that smoking in cars is a good idea. The reason I’m opposing this is, how dare the government tell me what I’m going to do in my own car.” This quote comes from Oregon State Sen. Jeff Kruse in reaction to a bill that would fine drivers who smoke in cars with children. The message from this GOP legislator is that he has the right to kill innocent children with second-hand smoke because it’s “my own car.”

The GOP push for “small government” (except where women are concerned) supercedes the rights of people to continue living. Today The Oregonian (Portland’s newspaper) had two articles on guns: “Gun Protection in Finance Bill” and “Four Shot Dead in Upstate N.Y. Rampage.” In Herkimer (NY) 64-year-old Kurt Myers started a fire in his apartment before he went into a barber shop and a fast lube business, killing two people at each place. There was no provocation and no past record on the part of Myers.

At the same time, GOP members of the Senate Appropriations Committee have added the following provisions to the financing bill to keep the government running after March 27:

  • Prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring gun dealers to make annual inventories;
  • Retain a broad definition of “antique” guns so that they can be imported into the country outside regulations;
  • Prevent the ATF from refusing to renew a dealer’s license for lack of business, allowing people who do not own or work in gun stories to sell guns under the radar;
  • Require the ATF to attach a disclaimer to data about guns to indicate that it “cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crimes.”

Meanwhile the House version of the appropriations bill prevents the ATR from requiring gun dealers on the Southwest border to notify their agents when selling two or more so-called long guns with detachable magazines.

This is what happens in the United States because the country has unlimited gun ownership:

  • Approximately 276 people in America (57 of them children) are shot in murders, assaults, suicide, accidents, and police intervention every day.
  • Approximately 85 people die from gun violence, (35 of them murdered) every day.
  • Approximately 9 children and teens die from gun violence every day.
  • Approximately 191 people are shot but survive their gun injuries every day.
  • Approximately 48 children and teens are shot, but survive their gun injuries every day.

As of today, there have been at least 2,677 gun-related deaths in the United States since December 14, 2012, including the 28 related to the Newton (CT) massacre and the other 15 deaths on the same day. There may be more, but Congress stopped the government from charting these deaths.

The U.S. Congress acted within six weeks after 2,996 people were killed on 9/11/01. Congress is just beginning the slow process of stopping uncontrolled gun ownership. Today the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a vote of 10 to 8 on party lines, approved a measure to reinstate a ban on assault weapons. The debate brought on a lecture from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about constitutional rights. The exchange is well-worth watching if your blood pressure can handle it.

After Cruz, in a lawyerly patronizing speech, asked Feinstein if she make certain books illegal in the same way that she was trying to remove guns from public use, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) responded to his question:

“In reference to the question my colleague from Texas asked, would you limit books? Would you name specific books? It’s Constitutional within the ambit of the First Amendment to eliminate child pornography. And we have lots of laws that are very explicit about that. Very explicit. That are constitutional, that have been upheld as constitutional. Similarly, you can’t falsely scream fire in a crowded theater. Similarly, we have libel laws. Every one of these is an impingement on the sacred First Amendment, upheld as Constitutional. There are reasonable limits on each amendment, and I think it is anomalous, to put it kindly, for either side to interpret one amendment so expansively and another amendment so narrowly that it just doesn’t add up because your interpretation of the Constitution should be consistent.”

The debate took place on the same day that more information was revealed about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown (CT). The shooter fired 151 shots in less than 5 minutes, reloading four times and killing himself with another gun. With clips limited to 30 bullets, his actions would have required almost 20 minutes, quite possibly allowing people to save some of the children.

If the Republicans don’t kill people through second-hand smoke or guns, they’ll do it by denying people medical care. Physicians, hospital administrators, and public-health officials want South Carolina to accept Medicaid expansion per Obamacare in South Carolina, but Gov. Nikki Haley and GOP legislators are dead-set against doing this. Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican and an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but voted against it. “It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.

A look at GOP policies demonstrates their belief that death is “good politics.”

January 5, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Immediate Firearm Purchases that prohibits waiting periods.

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

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

Annulling Local Regulations on Guns removing authority of local jurisdictions.

Defending an Unregulated Gun Market.

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

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

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

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

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