"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Will Congress Pass Reasonable Gun Legislation or will the NRA/GOA win again?

This morning I attended my grandson's Christmas program at St. Joseph's where the pre-K were brought on stage to join with the older students to sing two songs.  He had been practicing at home for this morning and was so happy.  As I was sitting there watching the Christmas pageant put on by K-5th graders, I was reminded of what happened in Newtown, CT, on Friday which is too horrific for words.  No one except a deranged person walks into a school and shoots children five and six years old along with their teachers.

Know that increased gun laws would not have prevented this tragedy since the guns were legally obtained by his Mother who he shot before heading to the school, but the fact the gun lobby of NRA and GOA came out with such ridiculous statements talking about arming teachers is ludicrous.  They don't have the training and you cannot have a loaded gun in the classroom.  What happens if the teacher leaves her class and a student gets the loaded guns and shoots?

These comments from the Gun Owners of America (GOA) made my blood boil:
"Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones."
— Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, responding to Friday’s tragedy.

Attitudes like GOA and NRA leadership doesn't even match that of a lot of its members who have more common sense in their little finger then leadership of either organization.  I found this editorial this afternoon which I have excerpted from Politicususa which details what so many of us are finding so hard to understand why the NRA and GOA are pushing guns for everyone with basically no laws.  Please visit the site to read the entire editorial.

Every society develops characteristic features based on values, accepted social practices, and patterns of knowledge shared by people in a place or time they pass on to succeeding generations. Culture includes customary beliefs, social norms, and material traits of a group that identifies a society whether for good or bad outcomes. Over four years ago, conservatives and gun-rights advocates began taking advantage of hatred for an African American man the people elected as President to advance the culture of guns by claiming Americans should fear the President ‘s secret intention to disarm the nation. In part, the right promoted the concept that individualism and freedom to express that individualism through gun ownerships has helped divide the nation and prevent communal principles that are necessary for a successful society. 
The mindset among so-called individualists that their right to keep and bear arms defines what it means to be an American was embraced early on by conservatives guilty of promoting the idea that there is a movement afoot to rob them of their individualism by taking away their guns. 
The tragic and senseless slaughter of 20 children and six adults in Connecticut yesterday is a reminder that America’s culture of guns, when coupled with the antagonism from conservatives that gun ownership is under threat, contributes to divisiveness preventing America from moving away from  the Wild West mentality plaguing our culture. A firearm is an inanimate object, and not in-and-of-itself guilty of crime, and the shooter in Connecticut obviously suffered from a mental disorder to open fire on innocent 5 to 10 year old children, but if he had not been heavily armed, the tragedy may have been prevented. 
The concept of a well-armed populace is being pushed across America and reinforced by ALEC-inspired Stand Your Ground laws with fervent support by the National Rifle Association, and despite the rise in gun violence, a contingent of conservative gun rights groups promoting individualism is contributing to the proliferation of guns in America. The move to arm every man, woman, and child in America has inspired legislators to transform so-called “gun free zones” into war zones based on an individual’s right to keep and bear arms; even in innocuous environments like elementary schools and churches. 
Shortly after news of the tragedy in Connecticut, evangelical maniac and alleged follower of Christ, Bryan Fischer, commented on social media outlet Twitter that Shooters attack an elementary school in CT. – another “gun-free zone.” Makes children sitting ducks.” 
Leave it to a sick bible-thumping, conservative mind like Fischer to politicize a tragedy, which is precisely the argument conservatives use to attack gun-control advocates in the wake of tragedies like the one in Connecticut on Friday. Instead of addressing the proliferation of guns in America, every new tragedy inspires gun advocates to expand public areas where Americans can carry weapons. It appears their goal is to eventually eliminate gun free zones to get America back to its rugged individualistic roots as a “gunfighter nation” making any attempt at reasonable gun-control legislation impossible. For many, many Americans, and especially  to 2nd Amendment devotees, any gun-control is acutely un-American. 
Gun-rights activists point to the 2nd Amendment as proof it is a right to be armed and dangerous at all times, and in all places, however, they omit the phrase, and reason, the founders included the amendment in the Constitution to begin with; “A well regulated Militia,” that for over two hundred years has meant the Army, Navy, and the Marine Corps, has shifted to mean an unregulated gun-toting populace. It is an unfortunate omission that has reinforced what so many in this nation believe; their right to own and carry arms supersedes reasonable restrictions on weapons typical of battlefields, but are becoming prevalent in homes, cars, and public places and if conservatives have their way, schools, churches, and shopping malls as gun-free zones will be eliminated to make every American a member of an unregulated militia.
Read More at Politicususa

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. (AP) — Hours before a gunman opened fire at a Connecticut elementary school, police in Oklahoma arrested a teenager for allegedly plotting to attack his high school and trying to recruit classmates to help him.
Police in Bartlesville, a community about 40 miles north of Tulsa, arrested 18-year-old Sammie Eaglebear Chavez shortly before 5 a.m. Friday on charges of conspiring to cause serious bodily harm or death. He remained in Washington County Jail on Saturday on $1 million bond, and he is due in court Jan. 11.   
Read More:  The Oklahoman

Doubt if Chavez is going to be leaving detention any time soon with a $1M bond, but it is scary to think they had make it an order that he stay away from Bartlesville schools and weapons.  Still has not been realized what they found at his home when they did a search warrant and made an arrest early Friday morning:
Police arrested Chavez at his home in the 100 block of Southwest Adeline Avenue about 4:50 a.m. Friday on a warrant signed by Special Judge John Gerkin, Bartlesville Police Capt. Jay Hastings said. 
Chavez, who was arraigned Friday afternoon in court, is in the Washington County Detention Center. As a condition of his bond, DeLapp ordered Chavez to stay away from Bartlesville schools and from weapons. 
Read More at Tulsa World
If the Bartlesville incident wasn't enough in Oklahoma, last night it was released that someone left a loaded handgun in the bedroom where a three-year old could get the gun and shot and killed himself.  What is a loaded handgun doing within the reach of a little boy? 
Oklahoma 3-year-old dies in accidental shooting, authorities say 
This article from Alternet appeared this summer which shows five ways the laws can be changed and there is no confiscation of guns by Obama no matter how much the NRA, GOA, and the hard right say the Government wants to take their guns.  This is an outright lie and they know it, but it is good for gun sales.  When I saw the loophole for gun shows, I went through the roof.  If you don't buy from a registered gun dealer at a gun show there is no background check or anything else.  Then I learned Oklahoma is one of the states that still allows guns and ammunition to be bought on line.

Alternet has done the reasearch to come up with  five key issues that divide the LaPierres at the top of the NRA food chain from their 3 million (or 4 million, depending upon the press release that day) members:

1. Gun Show Loophole
Currently, in over 30 states, one can walk into a local gun show and purchase a weapon from a “private seller,” who does not have to conduct any kind of background check. For example, a .50 caliber sniper rifle, which can take down a helicopter. The NRA has fought to block any and all efforts to pass a federal law closing this infamous gun show loophole, as well as any efforts in the states. (But remember, they are anti-crime!) 

Timothy McVeigh was once one of these “private sellers” on the gun-show circuit, and everyone from the Columbine killers to members of Hezbollah have obtained firearms this way. Not surprisingly, just like most other sentient beings (including 85% of gun owners not in the NRA), 69% of NRA members, when polled by conservative Republican Frank Luntz, think this loophole should be closed. 

2. Terror Gap
If you are put on the U.S. terror watch list you cannot board an airplane. You can, however, still purchase guns and explosives. According to the Government Accountability Office, “From February 2004 through February 2010, 1,228 individuals on the watch list underwent background checks to purchase firearms or explosives; 1,119, or 91 percent, of these transactions were approved." 

NRA members understand this even if their leadership stubbornly tries to protect the gun-ownership rights of terrorists (but they’re patriots, I tell you!). Eighty-two percent of NRA members think this gap should be closed. 

3. Tiahrt Amendments
Named in honor of all-around clod, former Kansas Republican Congressman Todd Tiahrt, this is part of the NRA’s constant effort to hamper, harass and harangue any government effort to get to the bottom of how guns came to be used in a crime. These amendments, attached to federal spending bills, do their best to severely limit law enforcement's ability to access, use and share data that helps them enforce federal, state and local gun laws. 

Not surprisingly, while these are a big hit at NRA HQ and among those members of Congress so graced with their campaign contributions, 69% of their own members have come to the logical conclusion that this is a pretty bad idea, as have 74% of non-NRA gun owners who think there should be no barriers to information-sharing between federal agencies and police when it comes to gun crimes.

4. Reporting Lost and Stolen Guns

Supporting provisions requiring this would seem to be only common sense. But there is not much of that present among the NRA’s leadership. For example, the NRA has not only fought all efforts to make reporting lost or stolen guns to the police a requirement, but in Pennsylvania, where scores of cities and townships have picked up the slack by passing these measures themselves, the fine Americans and conservative-lawsuit-abuse haters at the NRA have actually threatened to sue to overturn these laws. Yes, you read that correctly, our friends who love state and local rights when it comes to allowing a kid to stay on their parent's healthcare policy until they are 26, don't feel so much the same way about guns.

NRA members would seem to disagree: 78% of them think this provision would be a good idea, as do 88% of non-NRA gun owners.

5. Sharing Records With National Instant Background Check System (NICS)
The Fix Gun Checks Act, modeled on ideas developed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, was introduced in the wake of the carnage at Tucson by, among others, Senator Chuck Schumer in March 2011. Besides closing the gun-show loophole (see #1), it also sought to fix a huge problem in the current federal background check system--a lax attitude by many states and some federal institutions in sharing records of those ineligible to buy firearms due to criminal record or mental health defects.

For example, Seung-Hui Cho, the mass murderer at Virginia Tech, had been declared mentally unfit by a judge in Virginia, and Jared Loughner had been rejected by the military for admitted drug use. Both of these men never should have been able to get anywhere near buying a gun legally. But these records were never shared.

The Fix Gun Checks Act would provide both incentives and penalties to states so that all these records are shared in as timely a manner as possible. But NRA leadership has gone to war with this bill, as with all other efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unfit. 

Yet, a poll of swing-state voters taken around the time the bill was introduced showed overwhelming support for this concept among gun owners. In Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Arizona and (most ironically, and sadly) Colorado, more than 82% of gun owners believed states should be fully funded in their efforts to share these records, while 91% supported requiring federal agencies to share information on potentially dangerous persons such as Loughner.
So there you have it. Five measures, none of which would violate the very broad reading of the Second Amendment recently given by ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; all of which would have an immediate impact in terms of making our families safer, in a country where 34 people are murdered by guns every day–or one Virginia Tech every single day of the year.   
Read More a Alternet
Time for change to take place and NO MORE LOOPHOLES that people could drive a Mack Truck through.  This is the time for common sense Americans to tell the NRA and GOA leadership to go pound salt along with some conservative commentators like Mike Huckabee, Rush, Ann Coulter, and others who comments made me ill to think people could be so callous.  The facts don't lie:
In just the past four years, the NRA has helped pass weaker gun restrictions in 37 states, making the weapons easier to own, carry and conceal. At the same time, the number of mass shootings has increased in America.
Don't you think it is time we acted responsibly to protect our children and every American citizen as much as humanly possible to strengthen some of the laws that have been weakened to the extent we might as well not have any gun laws which is what NRA and GOA leadership seem to want.   Time for those of us who oppose the stands of the NRA to quit being silent and speak out that we want reasonable gun laws.  A lot of us are not looking to take anyone's guns but there is no need for large magazines that can shoot off 30-100 rounds before reloading.  Close the Gun Show loophole and require a national database to be kept current.  If a soldier is dishonorably discharged, that should be in the data base.  If someone is treated for mental illness, add them to the national data base.  Not all military should be carrying guns.

Time to vote out anyone opposing reasonable gun laws because those do not hurt common sense gun owners.  

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