Nel's New Day

August 11, 2016

Trump: Terrorist, Liar

Sharron Angle, senatorial candidate from Nevada, made news six years ago when she suggested “Second Amendment remedies” to control Congress and defeat her incumbent opponent. She never directly told people to assassinate the then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and fortunately, no one tried to murder him. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wasn’t as fortunate. Rabin’s right-wing opponents described him as a “traitor” and “Nazi” because he wanted to make peace with the Palestinians and give them back their land, and Jewish extremist Yigal Amir killed the prime minister because the assassin thought he was serving his country through his actions.

The recent Republican convention fueled incendiary behavior toward Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, with constant cries of “lock her up” and speaker Chris Christie’s mock trial inciting shouts of “guilty.” Al Baldasaro, Trump’s advisor on veterans issues, called for Clinton to be executed in a firing line at least twice during the convention.

Earlier this week, Donald Trump controlled himself for an hour as he carefully read from teleprompters about his economic “plan” but rapidly moved back to the usual bombastic behavior. One statement has ignited the world after he lied about Clinton wanting to get rid of the Second Amendment—the right for militia members to carry guns.

“If she gets to pick her judges―nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people. Maybe there is. I don’t know. But I tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”

The Trump people immediately returned to spin mode, claiming that it was a joke or a call for people to go out and vote against Clinton. As a joke, it goes far beyond poor taste. As for voting, the reference is to after the election—not before—and the last sentence, which most media ignore, indicates violence.

To suggest that Trump was literally telling people that they should kill Clinton is to indicate that he’s more mentally unbalanced than many pundits have proposed in the last few weeks. As a celebrity entertainer running for president, however, he’s normalizing violent solutions by joking about it in front of a large crowd. And his suggestion isn’t limited to just Clinton: he mentioned the judges—and implicitly anyone who opposes him, such as journalists and bloggers. This statement can inspire truly mentally-unbalanced individuals as other words have in the past. As journalist Chemi Shalev wrote:

“Like the extreme right in Israel, many Republicans conveniently ignore the fact that words can kill. There are enough people with a tendency for violence that cannot distinguish between political stagecraft and practical exhortations to rescue the country by any available means.”

David Cohen wrote in Rolling Stone about Trump’s stochastic terrorism—“using language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.’” Valerie Tarico wrote about this form of terrorism after a man killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs late last year:

  1. “A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
  2. With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
  3. Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past ‘purges’ against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
  4. When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the ‘tragedy.'”

Dr. George Tiller’s assassination in 2009 follows this pattern as does Trump’s actions:

  • Trump incessantly degrades and demonizes Clinton by calling her “Crooked Hillary” and calling her the “co-founder of ISIS.”
  • Trump produces a convention in which the idea of Clinton as a criminal is constantly repeated in order to increase disgust and fear toward  her.
  • Trump now uses “dog whistles,” “jokes,” and incomplete statements to encourage violence and wait for someone to take him up on his “suggestion.”

Trump has a reason for these extremist remarks. As the media published more and more information about his connection with Russia, he attacked the Khan family, parents of a fallen heroic soldier. The Pied Piper led his followers away from Russia, but the then the media reported on the possibility that his wife, Melania, is an “illegal alien”—to quote his followers—as well as his really bad economic speech.

In 2005, Melania Trump claimed that she was not married before meeting Trump, but a Trump Organization lawyer, Michael Wildes, said that the Slovenian citizen got a green card in 2001 “based on marriage” to live in the United States. He now says that he cannot discuss details because of privacy issues.

Her immigration status was already in question after recently-published nude shots indicated she began working in the U.S. a year earlier than previously stated. In addition, she said that she had to return to Slovenia every few months to renew her visa, not a requirement for the H-1B visa that she claimed to have. Her need for frequent renewals fits a B-1 Temporary Business Visitor or B-2 Tourist Visa, which typically last up to six months and do not permit employment except for domestic servants accompanying employers temporarily in the U.S. Using the B-2 visa for work would constitute visa fraud. Such fraud would raise questions about her current U.S. citizenship. Donald Trump stated that his wife had complied with the immigration laws and that she would be holding a “little press conference.” No time has been announced for this event.

The “Second Amendment” speech covered for those problems, but the Pied Piper called President Obama the “founder of ISIS” to lead the media in a different direction. ISIS started with Al Queda in 2003 and was perhaps strengthened only because of George W. Bush’s agreement to take all troops out of Iraq by 2011. Donald Trump is featured in at least pro-ISIS propaganda films.

Trump’s “Second Amendment” speech and the attacks on the president have not totally overcome Trump’s economic speech, especially after Hillary Clinton gave one today. In addition to his lies, he promised a moratorium on new regulations while criticizing China for “no real environmental or labor protections.” He promised “an across-the-board income tax reduction” that would benefit corporations and wealthy people. With tax cuts, he promised to double Clinton’s recommended spending on the nation’s infrastructure and put more money into the military.  He also promised a massive increase in tariffs, resulting in much higher prices for people in the U.S.

His complaint about the high tax rate forU.S. businesses skipped loopholes, credits, and deductions that brings the actual taxes paid down to 1.9 percent of the tax share last year—down from a high of 2.7 percent. Over 100,000 businesses in the U.S. paid zero taxes in 2012.

business income exempt corporate taxes

His accusations that the Affordable Care Act losing jobs is also false. Since the law went into effect, the nation’s economy added more than 14.6 million jobs, dropping the jobless rate to 4.9 percent from 9.9 percent.

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute shows that the GOP is to blame for a slow economic recovery because of budget cuts including the problems in 2011 regarding the debt ceiling, unwillingness to spend money, and lack of Medicaid expansion. Local, state, and federal conservatives are all responsible.

Here is the economic team that provided Trump with his failed ideas from the past.

The RNC is again frustrated by Donald Trump’s behavior. Chair Reince Priebus has told Trump that changes need to be made because of an impending failure for his candidacy, again trying to move Trump toward a more professional demeanor. The RNC is struggling with a decision to protect all the other GOP candidates at the risk of losing the presidency, and a decision must be made soon because early voting starts in a month. Trump threatened to quit fund-raising if any action is taken.

Trump has now decided that he can be bought. After ridiculing all his opponents for taking money from billionaires, he is now wooing them for donations, including the Las Vegas magnate Sheldon Adelson. Both he and his vice-presidential candidate, Mike Pence, also plan to appear at events for the duo’s super PAC, legal if the candidates do not solicit more than $5,000. Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott has been named head of the super PAC that Trump has called horrible and corrupting. Last October, he said, “The character of our country is only as strong as our leaders.”

Polls are moving to favor a Clinton win, and even notable wackos such as Glenn Beck won’t support Trump. Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called keeping a GOP majority in the Senate “very dicey.” Of the 34 seats up for grabs, 24 of them are currently GOP-held with seven of them “very competitive,” according to McConnell. Democrats need four seats to take control if they also get the White House.

Only 88 days to go.

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 16, 2014

Archie Andrews One of 2014 Gun Statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mascia also discovered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 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.

January 20, 2014

Honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beliefs

Today the United States honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., born on January 15, 1929, and assassinated on April 4, 1968. The history books accent King as a civil rights leader, but he also championed issues of poverty and income inequality while being a strong critic of U.S. foreign policy and the Vietnam War. Forgetting that the leading Republicans in the United States opposed honoring him with a paid “holiday” for over 30 years, a county GOP organization co-opted his name for a fund-raising project.

greek orthodox churchThe GOP party of Multnomah County (OR), a small red enclave in strongly blue surroundings, got the attention it wanted when it announced its raffle for an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to honor—get this?—“two great Republicans,” Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Originally, the group planned to announce the raffle winner at a Lincoln Day dinner on Feb. 15 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in northeast Portland. Church leaders pulled their offer to rent space to the GOP for the party after protests such as this one by United Church of Christ minister Chuck Currie: 

“You don’t honor a minister who preached non-violence by auctioning off the same kind of weapon used in the mass killings of children [at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CN.]”

The GOP organization is still making its money. All 500 tickets were sold for $10 each, very possibly because of all the publicity. Yet they are suffering ridicule. Lincoln’s form of Republicanism was anti-slavery and anti-secession while promoting economic growth through high tariffs and high wages and providing generous pensions to Union veterans. The opposing party at that time, Democrats, followed the same policies as today’s GOP. King wasn’t even a Republican: he refused to endorse either party.

Anne Marie Gurney, the county party’s vice-chair, said that county party leaders didn’t even think about the fact that both Lincoln and King were killed by guns; they just remembered that both of them are celebrated at this time of the year.

A few Republicans weren’t quite as clueless as party leaders. Bruce McCain, a Portland attorney and conservative blogger, said.  “Why would you tie that to an assassinated president and an assassinated civil rights leader?” He added that the party may make a few thousand dollars but will turn off urban voters already sour on the GOP that comprises only 15 percent of the county’s registered voters.

Yesterday, Manhattan’s Middle Collegiate Church honored King by transforming a gun into a mattock. The Bible verse in Isaiah 2:4 states: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Colorado Springs resident Mike Martin, 31, began converting guns into useful objects after the shootings at Newtown (CN). He lives about an hour away from Aurora where a man shot and killed 12 people in 2012.

Every day people with guns kill an average of 32 people. Martin said, “It’s like a Newtown is happening every day, it’s just scattered across the country.” A schoolchild is fatally shot every three days, making each month the equivalent of the Newtown massacre.

david sarasohnLong-time columnist David Sarasohn cut to the center of the issue. When referring to the disappointment about the church canceling a venue for the GOP dinner, he wrote: “The Multnomah GOP no doubt has lots of other big events to come. It’s a little terrifying to imagine how they plan to mark Easter. Or even Passover.” Or the 176th celebration of John Wilkes Booth on May 10. In commenting on Gurney’s assertion that no one thought about both Lincoln and King being assassinated with guns, Sarasohn wrote, “This is a little bit like talking about Vietnam and forgetting it had a war.”

Sarasohn hit the bull’s eye when he pointed out that “the basic goal of a political party is not to conduct successful raffles, but to win elections….  In Multnomah, Republicans are approaching third-party status, awkward when there isn’t a second party. With their repeated rifle raffle approach, Multnomah Republicans are counting on the success of a strategy because it’s loud and gets attention. That actually works some days; just not Election Day. Maybe not Martin Luther King Day, either.”

Gun legislation protesters also try to persuade people that King was in favor of no gun legislation. He did apply for a permit to carry a concealed handgun in 1956 after his house was bombed. Police found him “unsuitable” because he was black and denied him the right. Bayard Rustin Rev. Glenn Smiley both tried to convince King that the guns lying around his house were inappropriate, and King soon agreed with them. Three years later he traveled to India to study Gandhi’s form of non-violence. 

In September 1962, when a 200-pound white man, the 24-year-old American Nazi Party member Roy James, attacked King during a speech, King dropped his hands and spoke calmly to his attacker, making no effort to protect himself.

After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy almost six years before his own death, King said:

“Our late President was assassinated by a morally inclement climate. It is a climate filled with heavy torrents of false accusation, jostling winds of hatred, and raging storms of violence. It is a climate where men cannot disagree without being disagreeable, and where they express dissent through violence and murder. It is the same climate that murdered Medgar Evers in Mississippi and six innocent Negro children in Birmingham, Alabama.

“So in a sense we are all participants in that horrible act that tarnished the image of our nation. By our silence, by our willingness to compromise principle, by our constant attempt to cure the cancer of racial injustice with the Vaseline of gradualism, by our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim, by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing, by allowing all these developments, we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.”

As King said in his speech, the Second Amendment is like all the other amendments: it does not give unrestricted rights to people.

Today honors the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision that gave far more control of the government to the wealthy and the big corporations through allowing them unfettered donations to campaigns. Both these anniversaries concern racial and economic inequality because justice for minorities depends on economic opportunities. Conversely, racial anxiety produces hostility toward broad distribution of wealth as shown by the tax breaks, deregulation, and reduced social spending that benefits only the wealthy.

MLKvaluesRemembering Martin Luther King, Jr. also means remembering his words:

“What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee? … What does it profit one to be able to attend an integrated school when he doesn’t earn enough money to buy his children school clothes?”

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above trhe narrow confines of his individualist concerns to the broader concerns of humanity.”

It’s time for all the people who vote only for people and laws that will further themselves consider that without caring for others, all humanity will dissolve.

June 14, 2013

Six Months since Newtown Massacre

Twenty-eight people died of gun violence because of one armed young man only six months ago today. The flurry of attempts to reduce further gun violence in the United States gave some people hope that it would happen, but NRA knew that interest would fade if they stood their ground. Yet the people in Newtown (CT) where 20 children and six educators were gunned down in that massacre haven’t quit. Today they held a remembrance that included reading the names of the more than 5,000 people in the country killed with guns which is expected to take 12 hours.

Mayors against Illegal Guns has launched a bus tour through 25 states during the next 100 days to build support for expanded background checks for gun buyers, the legislation that failed in the Senate two months ago. Relatives of victims have gone to Washington, D.C. to lobby for gun control legislation although some of the legislators refuse to meet with them.

NRA has Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in their sights with an ad campaign telling people to phone his office and tell him “to honor his commitment to the 2nd Amendment.”

The gun organization has a strong supporter in convicted felon Gary W. Bornman who wrote from a federal super-maximum security prison in Colorado to his Connecticut hometown newspaper, The Hartford Courant  expressing his gratitude to the pro-gun lawmakers and NRA for giving him the ability to easily get guns when he’s released. As he pointed out in the letter, without the NRA and these legislators he could not easily buy weapons before he reaches Connecticut with its restrictive laws so that he can “resume my criminal activities.” He finishes the letter:

“And so, a heartfelt thank you to the NRA and all those members of Congress voting with them. I, along with tens of thousands of other criminals, couldn’t do what we do without you.”

This isn’t the first time that Bornman has written letters to the public. In a 1999 letter to the LA Times, he wrote:

“In little more than 14 months, in all probability I’ll commit murder, perhaps even mass murder. That’s when I’m due to be released from federal prison where I’m serving a seven-year sentence for bank robbery.”

Bornman’s public defender, Gary Weinberger, thinks that his client is not really that dangerous.

When Bornman is released from the Colorado prison, he can drop into adjacent Nevada, where the state legislature just passed a bill to close the gun-show loophole by requiring background checks on gun purchases, including private transactions. They followed the wishes of 86 percent of people in Nevada. Bornman could get a gun in Nevada, however, because Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed the bill, claiming it would do “little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms.” Another provision of the vetoed bill would require Nevada courts to submit information about mentally ill legal defendants to a national clearinghouse for all new gun purchases within five business days after the finding.

Some gun enthusiasts claiming that the Second Amendment gives everyone the right to own guns and ammunition are trying to stop the U.S. government from having them. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), chair of the House Homeland Security oversight subcommittee, is confused about why IRS law enforcement agents would train with AR-15 rifles. He said, “It’s been bugging me for weeks now, why IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15, which has stand-off capability. Are Americans that much of a target that you need that kind of capability?” These are exactly my sentiments for the ordinary U.S. citizen.

The tax agency’s explanation:

“As law enforcement officials, IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents are equipped similarly to other federal, state and local law enforcement organizations. Special Agents receive training on the appropriate and safe use of assigned weapons. IRS Criminal Investigation has internal controls and oversight in place to ensure all law enforcement tools, including weapons are used appropriately.”

Fighting potentially violent criminals has been part of IRS agents’ job for 90 years; their jurisdiction includes “tax, money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act laws.”  The IRS guidelines for training its agents on semi-automatic rifles occurred in 2003 under George W. Bush’s watch.

Since the Newtown massacre, the House has passed one piece of gun control legislation.  By a vote of 234-192, the House voted last week to stop DHS from buying any more ammunition until they submit reports on the need for this to Congress. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has proposed a similar measure in Congress’s other chamber.

During the past six months, gun violence has killed an average of 28 people each day, more than the number of U.S. military members killed during the Iraq War. In the last 30 years, 62 mass shootings occurred in thirty different states, making an average of two each year. Twenty-five of them happened since 2006—seven of them last year with 140 victims. Mother Jones has tracked these on an interactive map.

During the past four years, the U.S. averaged over one mass shooting per month. In the last six months, there have been at least 14 mass shootings—over two each month. An interactive map of the nation, pinpointing these shootings, is available here.

An analysis of the 62 mass shootings shows the following:

Weapons: The killers possessed 143 weapons, more than three quarters obtained legally, including dozens of assault weapons and semi-automatic handguns with high-capacity magazines.

Locations:  More than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 20, respectively); the other 30 cases took place in locations such as shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings.

Killers: Forty four were white males; only one was a woman. The average age of the killers was 35, with the youngest 11 years old. A majority had demonstrated being mentally troubled before they killed.

Not once was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. In other recent rampages, civilians who tried to intervene not only failed but also were seriously wounded or killed. Even the police don’t have a good record: New York City police officers trained in counterterrorism wounded nine innocent bystanders when confronting a gunman at the Empire State Building.

Without registration, no one knows exactly how many guns are in private hands, but estimates indicate about 200 million privately-owned guns in 1995, a number that has increased 50 percent in the past 18 years to 300 million. During the same time, the U.S. population grew by only 20 percent. Yet fewer households have guns: 40 percent of them had weapons in the past decade compared to 50 percent in the 1980s.

During the last four years, the NRA and its political allies have pushed through 99 laws in 37 states making guns easier to own, carry, and conceal from the government. Eight states permit guns in bars, even when the carrier is intoxicated. Five states allow concealed weapons on college campuses. Kansas permit holders can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools, and Louisiana permits guns in houses of worship. Eighty percent of states now recognize handgun permits from at least some other states.

At least one educator is making a different in the gun control issue. Believing that children who play with toy guns become desensitized, making it easier for them to use real guns later, Strobridge Elementary School (CA) Principal Charles Hill organized a toy gun exchange. Gun rights enthusiasts claim that toy guns are painted in “bright colors,” making it impossible for them to be mistaken for a real gun, but “real guns” are also painted in such colors as bright pink and blue. About 75 children traded their guns for books and a chance on four bicycles.

Until 1996, Australia had the same lax attitude toward gun ownership that the United States does. After 35 people were killed in a massacre on April 28 of that year, Australia passed restrictive gun controls, requiring a “genuine reason” for permits and prohibiting gun ownership for convicted felons and those with mental illness. The rate of homicides involving firearms per 100,000 population in 2009 was 0.1 in Australia, as compared with 3.3 in the United States.The rate of unintentional deaths involving firearms in 2001 was 0.09, compared with 0.27 in the United States. Only Latin America has a higher death rate from guns than the United States.

May 27, 2013

Memorialize Deaths from Gun Violence

Memorial Day is dedicated to those who fell during wars. But nowhere is the day to mourn those who have fallen because, after almost two centuries of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment came to mean that anyone in the country could freely own lethal firearms.

The Second Amendment reads: “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.” For two centuries, courts interpreted the amendment, divided into two ungrammatical clauses, as the right of state militias—not individuals—to own and carry weapons. The “militia clause” trumped the “bear arms.”

The reinterpretation came in the 1980s, thanks to President Ronald Reagan, Sen. Orin Hatch (R-UT), and the NRA, and the new theory became the law of the land. Not until the 21st century did the Supreme Court reverse the original position that the Second Amendment applied to state militias, and that decision was made by an extremist far-right court.

Even that court gave limits. In District of Columbia v. Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia  recognized that the right of the individual to own guns didn’t include all weapons:

“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose… We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’”

The court also recognized that “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding … laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” According to a footnote,

“We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive.”

The court concluded:

“Apart from the usual prohibitions of gun ownership by children, felons, illegal aliens, lunatics, and in sensitive places such as public schools, the propriety of which was not questioned in Heller, some states sensibly require that an applicant for a handgun permit establish his competence in handling firearms. A person who carries a gun in public but is not well trained in the use of firearms is a menace to himself and others.”

Gun obsession pervades the United States:

Adam Kokesh, who plans to lead 1,000 armed protesters into Washington, D. C. on July 4 in violation of the law, compares himself to Mahatma Gandhi who practiced nonviolent resistance to British rule in India. Kokesh has said that his march will be violent if “the government chooses to make it violent.”

Living Social offers experiences that mix alcohol and guns, some of them the type of assault rifle used to kill children in Newtown (CT) to kill children. Many of the deals include transportation on a party bus, and some have a meet-up points at restaurants that offer beer and burgers, giving buyers the chance to drink before the event begins. Living Social has claimed that it doesn’t intentionally promote drinking while shooting and they plan to be careful.

Starbucks might want to consider its willingness to allow concealed weapons. In 2011, a teenage girl in Cheyenne (WY) dropped her purse, causing her gun to discharge and the bullet to miss 43-year-old John Basile by about 12 inches. She had no training, including gun safety, but her mother encouraged her to point the gun at a “bad person.” This last week in St. Petersburg (FL) another woman dropped her purse and shot a customer in the leg. She said she forgot that she had it. Starbucks issued this statement:

“At Tyrone Square Mall, our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and store employees, and we are thankful that the injuries sustained are reported to be non-life threatening.”

Aurora (CO), the same place as the horrific movie theater shooting, was the site of an accidental shooting when an employee at Rangeview High School accidentally shot a student who was getting a ride with him. Missouri passed a law allowing school employees to carry guns as voluntary “protection officers,” but Gov. Jay Nixon has promised to veto the bill.

Showing off her brand-new assault rifle in Federal Heights (CO), 22-year-old Anastasia Adair fell. Her gun went off, the bullet hitting her in the head and killing her. In Florida, a three-year-old boy accidentally killed himself with a 9mm handgun that his uncle owned.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) is raising campaign funds through a gun raffle: “Enter the drawing to win a FREE Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, almost impossible to find in stores and the number one firearm on the gun banners’ wish list!” The winner will be announced on July 4, perhaps in time to carry it in the Washington, D.C. protest

Under the “what were they thinking category,” a Missouri theater hired actors to portray gunmen at the Iron Man 3 premier. People screamed and called the police. Manager Bob Wilkins said he was worried about safety but didn’t see anything wrong with the publicity stunt.

About District of Columbia v. Heller, former Justice John Paul Stevens said:

“While the post-decision commentary by historians and other scholars has reinforced my conviction that the Court’s decision to expand the coverage of the Second Amendment was incorrect, good things about the Court’s opinion merit special comment…. Even as generously construed in Heller, the Second Amendment provides no obstacle to regulations prohibiting the ownership or use of the sorts of automatic weapons used in the tragic multiple killings in Virginia, Colorado, and Arizona in recent years. The failure of Congress to take any action to minimize the risk of similar tragedies in the future cannot be blamed on the Court’s decision in Heller.”

The majority of people in the country support gun controls.

background check polls

They know they are not safer with the current situation of unlimited gun purchases. Countries with fewer guns, Australia for example, have less gun violence. There is a correlation between strong gun laws and lack of gun violence.

correlation gun violence and law

Forty percent of people in the United States want guns to “protect” themselves against the government. Corporations have pushed this idea in order to make money through selling weapons and ammunition. For example, the corporation-controlled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is pushing a bill in Nevada to allow the purchase of machine guns.   http://www.prwatch.org/node/12100

US-POLITICS-GUNS-NRALosing sales to adults, gun manufacturers are push sales to small children.   At the recent NRA conference, 3-year-old Elaih Wagan became the youngest member because of her grandfather’s $1,000 birthday gift for a lifetime membership. U.S. Practical Shooting Association’s magazine Junior Shooters is aimed at kids age eight and up.

cartoon adsGun makers produce child-sized guns and then market them to smaller children with cartoon ads, like this Crickett style that a five-year-old used to kill his two-year-old sister.

 

shooting rangeThe January 2013 NRA publication Insights, a magazine for children, gives directions on building BB gun shooting ranges inside their homes for fun during long winters. It recommends hanging targets. BB guns send 22,000 people to the hospital each year, they create fatalities, and they can be indistinguishable from other guns for young children.

Stricter gun control could have saved many of the 851 children killed last year in the United States.

Extremists want no background checks, no waiting periods, no required liability insurance, no age limits, no training. Voting is a constitutional right, yet conservatives support hundreds of laws for waiting periods, registration, photo IDs, restrictive limits on voting times, etc. Voting has age limits. But extremists read the Second Amendment as unlimited rights to wreak havoc.

There were approximately 4,385 gun deaths between December 14, 2012 (Sandy Hook Elementary School) and April 17, 2013.  I use the term “approximately” because conservatives have prevented the government from keeping any statistics on gun violence. About 300 of these were kids.

End Note: In the week leading up to Memorial Day, TSA agents confiscated a record 65 guns from passengers at security checkpoints, 54 of which were loaded. The previous record was 50 guns (45 loaded) the week before May 10. These 65 guns were in addition to three hand grenades, 12 stun guns, two razor blades (one hidden in a shoe and the other in underwear), two joke-bombs, and other stuff such as “firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things.” I appreciate the TSA!

 

February 26, 2013

10th Circuit Court Clarifies the Second Amendment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congress: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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

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

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

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

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

July 29, 2012

Scalia Supports Private Ownership of Nuclear Devices

Horrifying. That’s one description for the statements that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made this morning on Fox News about the constitutionality of owning and carrying weapons. According to one out of the nine judges who determine the law of the land, any weapon that a person can carry is constitutional for that person to “keep and bear.”

Scalia includes shoulder-launched missiles in that category of legal private ownership. And the javelin anti-tank weapon and the M-28 Davy Crockett nuclear tipped recoilless rifle. The latter has the W-54 nuclear warhead and an explosive yield that’s 12 times more powerful than Timothy McVeigh’s bomb in Oklahoma City. And it only weighs 57 pounds. Easier to carry—and probably legal according to Scalia—would be a small nuclear device in a briefcase.

Scalia shows himself a “strict constitutionalist” when he said, “Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that can not be carried. It’s to ‘keep and bear’ so it doesn’t apply to cannons.” But the Founding Fathers didn’t specifically discuss nuclear weapons. “But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to–it will have to be decided,” Scalia added. Maybe it’s just the use of the weapon. Scalia might approve of these in a crowded movie theater.

Scalia does have limits on weapons. In the same interview, he mentioned a tort called affrighting, “which if you carried around a really horrible weapon just to scare people, like a head ax or something, that was I believe a misdemeanor.” From that we might infer that Scalia would oppose head axes because they are frightening. Some people might be afraid of individuals’ carrying nuclear weapons on the street. Also would he object to such weapons as a head axe if the purpose is to use them against someone else instead of just frightening them?

In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court overturned DC’s ban on unregistered firearm and the city’s prohibiting the registration of handguns except for one-year licenses issued by the police chief. Scalia justified his decision that carrying guns is legal with the words “weapons common at the time.” It’s possible that he thinks that a FIM-92 Stinger is a “common” weapon. A Supreme Court justice thinks that people should be able to legally own nuclear weapons. Just not cannons because one person alone cannot carry it.

Recently a Florida man needed only one gun when he decided to “stand his ground.” Kenneth Roop, 52, killed Nick Rainey, a 30-year-old door-to-door salesman. The dead man was walking away from Roop’s door when the older man drove up and shot Rainey in the shoulder because he was “in fear.” When Rainey fell to the ground and screamed, “You shot me,” Roop claimed he was still afraid because the man sounded antagonistic. Roop claims he saved his life by shooting Rainey in the back of the head. A witness said that Roop sat in his truck for a few seconds while Rainey lay face down on the driveway before killing the other man. Seven years ago Roop pulled a gun on the woman reading the power company meter reader, but he could still own 14 guns.

Scalia may think that, according to eighteenth-century values displayed in the Constitution, Roop was justified in shooting someone who knocked on his door and then tried to depart the property. Also in the interview, Scalia objected to the ruling of Griswold v. Connecticut which legalized contraception for all married women.

The justice also displayed an appalling racism in the court arguments for Arizona v. United States regarding the racial profiling of the Arizona anti-immigration law. Referring to the “invasion” of undocumented immigrants, Scalia compared them to a roving band of armed thieves. To a lawyer’s attempt to explain that many of the victimized people legally live in the United States–possibly having ancestors who lived here before the whites took over the land—Scalia said, “Are you objecting to harassing the people who have no business being here? Surely you’re not concerned about harassing them.”

His dissent in the case was even worse when his position relied on pro-slavery laws excluding free persons of African descent living in most of the South before the Civil War: “Notwithstanding ‘[t]he myth of an era of unrestricted immigration’ in the first 100 years of the Republic, the States enacted numerous laws restricting the immigration of certain classes of aliens, including convicted criminals, indigents, persons with contagious diseases, and (in Southern States) freed blacks. State laws not only provided for the removal of unwanted immigrants but also imposed penalties on unlawfully present aliens and those who aided their immigration.”

During Justice Antonin Scalia’s tenure in the U.S. Supreme Court, he has supported torture, defended executing innocent people, and railed against anyone who embraces the “homosexual agenda” in a conclusion that people should be able to choose their life partners. He has argued within cases with the sensibilities and passion of partisan lawmakers, using the “broccoli” approach in requiring health care, repeating the idiocy that if people were required to purchase health insurance then the government might force them to buy broccoli. His record as a partisan politician should have him removed from the court.

July 20, 2012

Time for Rational Gun Control

Over one million people have died of gun violence in the United States since 1968. Every hour three people in the United States die from gun shots. The Violence Policy Center’s (VPC) state-by-state report of 2009 data shows that gun-related deaths have outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 10 states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

The “Stand Your Ground” laws proliferating across the nation that allow people to go attack others if they wish are causing an increase in deaths, particularly white males and many times bystanders, according to a study at Georgia State University. The study also finds, “[Stand Your Ground] states have a higher percentage of black population and are more likely to have a Republican governor, higher incarceration rates, and more police officers. These states also tend to be more urban, and have a higher poverty rate.” Thanks to the far-right conservative organization ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), these stand-your-ground laws have been passed in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

In the past three years, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has achieved the following:

— In 2009, Obama enacted legislation permitting firearms in national parks.

— In 2009, Arizona and Tennessee passed laws letting people carry guns in bars.

— In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to extend federal gun-rights protections to states.

— In 2010, Louisiana approved a bill letting people carry firearms in houses of worship.

— In 2010, Arizona passed a law letting people carry concealed weapons without a permit. In 2011, Wyoming enacted the same law.

— In 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with considerable bipartisan support, a bill that makes a firearm-carry permit in one state valid in every other state.

— In 2011, Mississippi enacted legislation allowing people to carry firearms on college campuses, and in bars and churches. Later that year, the measure was expanded to include sporting events, polling places, airports, courthouses, and other government localities.

— In 2011, North Dakota and Texas passed legislation to ensure that employees may bring a gun to work, as long as it’s locked in a vehicle.

— In 2011, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire put into effect versions of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, granting people broad latitude to use lethal force when they perceive a threat to their safety.

–In 2011, Wisconsin Senate approved rules allowing members to carry firearms on the floor.

Now the NRA is donating massive amounts of money to the far-far-right state legislator candidates in Tennessee after the GOP in the state refused to pass a bill to prevent businesses from banning guns on their property after recent successes in Virginia, Ohio (where people can carried concealed weapons in bars), and North Carolina.

Sixty percent of persons jailed for gun crimes in the thirteen U.S. states with the most lax standards for legal firearm ownership could legally own firearms when they committed the crime that led to their incarceration, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 29 percent of these people had criminal records. And that study covered 2004 when gun laws were not as lax as now. Most of the other people who could not legally buy guns purchased them from suppliers that were not required to do a criminal background check under federal or state law.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence showed that over 16,000 guns disappeared from manufacturers’ inventory during 2007-2008. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) cannot require these manufacturers to track their inventory, thanks to a 2004 amendment sponsored by then-Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS). More than 16,000 guns were “lost” from gun manufacturers’ inventories over the last two years, according to a report by a gun control advocacy group. The ATF has been without a Senate-confirmed director for the past six years, mostly because the NRA is such a strong lobbyist.

For a short time, people will be horrified about the shooting of 71 people in a Colorado movie theater early this morning, leaving 12 of them dead as of this evening. Just 30 minutes away from Columbine High School, where two students killed 12 other students and a teacher before killing themselves 13 years ago, a 24-year-old man shot these people used an assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun with 6000 rounds—all legally purchased and owned–to shoot these people. Colorado is one of 41 “shall issue” states where the state must give a person a concealed weapons permit unless they have serious issues such as a felony conviction, mental illness, or protective orders. That makes the purchase of lethal weapons very easy in these states.

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have briefly put off their campaigns in respect for the victims. Many people disagree with this approach. “This is the only time you have the opportunity that people will listen to you,” said Representative Carolyn McCarthy, who has spent her entire legislative career fruitlessly attempting to do something about assault weapons that allow  people to easily mow down a flock of victims in a few minutes.

The right-wing blogs are having a feeding frenzy on anyone brave enough to tackle the lack of gun control in this country. Wait until after the funeral, said one person on a talk show. This is just politicizing the situation, said another. But it is—and will continue to be—a political issue. When a person is killed, the police don’t wait for a week in order to show the victim a time of respect.

Every year the NRA gains more and more control over the law-making process if guns have even a tangential connection to an issue. Tennessee’s House Majority Leader said, “[The NRA] are our allies as long as it’s in their self-interest.” He added, “They’re a fundraising organization, and their business plan is not to make politicians look good. It’s to have someone to criticize so they can generate more money.”

Politicians are terrified of the NRA lobby. In recent years, Congress has refused to consider laws that would ban the sale of assault weapons capable of firing 100 bullets without reloading and refused to allow the attorney general to restrict people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing weapons. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said it was “act of cowardice by the Congress” not to renew the ban, which expired in 2004. About the assault rifle, Rendell said,  “No hunter needs it, no citizen needs it to protect their home.” The NRA has gone so far overboard that it is now lobbying for gun carrying in airports.

In lieu of preventing guns, several private theaters as well as the AMC chain are preventing patrons to the theaters from wearing costumes, including masks. The Republicans, however, want guns in the theaters. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said, “It does make me wonder, you know, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying? That could have stopped this guy more quickly?”

Gohmert went further in his claim that the tragedy came from a weakening of Judeo-Christian beliefs: “Some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important. Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters … We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.” [I don’t understand what he said either.]

Fred Jackson, the American Family Association’s news director, and co-host Teddy James of AFA Journal agreed that the shooting is a sign of God’s judgment for the failings of the public education system and liberal, mainline Protestant churches that affirm gays and lesbians.

It’s too late to argue that the the Constitution’s Second Amendment, possibly the most argued amendment, is only for the organization of a militia, which is needed only by the people who want to overthow the U.S. government: “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.But gun control can restrict the number of guns, the method in which they are purchase, their licensing, and the power of the firearms. And now is the time to address the issue, no matter how much the gun fanatics condemn people who believe that safety from guns is important for everyone in this country.

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