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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Religious leaders say the worship of guns is a form of idolatry


 
This never occurred to me when I wrote about the gun worshippers out there that value their firearms over life itself.  These are the die-hard fanatics that refuse to negotiate at all over even the smallest new gun control laws.  Fanatics like Wayne LaPierre who heads up the National Rifle Assn. (NRA), this country’s major obstacle to enacting sane, reasonable gun control legislation.  But Rabbi David Saperstein said on CNN, “The religious community is capable of ‘mobilizing people to be a political force that we have done on issues of conscience since the beginning of this country.’” 
 
The bells of the Washington National Cathedral rang 28 times recently to honor the 28 dead in the Newtown, CT shooting.  At the same time, wide spectrums of religious leaders were asking their congregations, President Obama and congressional leaders to do something about the gun violence that has overtaken the country.  Consisting of evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Islamists and Sikhs, they want the outlawing of assault weapons and high capacity magazines, tightening the access on all guns and improved mental health care.  Who could argue with this, except wacky Wayne?
 
Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, said, “Everyone in this city {Washington} seems to be in terror of the gun lobby. But I believe the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.”  Rabbi Saperstein, primary organizer of the event and director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism added in quoting from Leviticus 19:16: “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened.”  Then the Rabbi asked himself a question and answered it.
 
“Is the need for sensible gun control a religious issue?  Indeed, it is, for our worship of guns is a form of idolatry, the random distribution of guns is offense against God, and the only appropriate response is sustained moral outrage.”  
 
What the religious right extremists
would have you believe
 
And as you might expect, the religious right extremists “have found a new demon to slay: gun control,” reports the Sothern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch.  Quoting this group:
 
“It might seem odd that those who profess allegiance to the teachings of Jesus Christ would be so vociferous about making sure that Americans have continued, unfettered access to assault rifles. But in the wake of the massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut, which ignited the most heated debate about gun control in this country in a decade, some of the religious right’s most rabid voices are joining the fight.”
 
This clearly underscores my admonition that these gun nuts love their guns more than the adults and children they kill.  To Bryan Fischer, atty. for the American Family Assn., Barack Obama is “blatantly disingenuous when he says he believes in the Second Amendment.”  Hatewatch also reports that Fischer is the guy who claims:
 
“…that Adolf Hilter’s Nazi Party relied on gay men because of their innate brutality, to turn {that} debate straight on its face.  Not only has he banned the use of the words ‘assault rifles’ on his Focal Point radio show in favor of ‘sporting rifles’ – and threatened to fine any member of his staff who uses the wrong term – he has defined the debate on gun control as a thinly veiled plot to target Christians.”
 
 These people are obviously nuts, but considering their close ties with the National Rifle Assn. (NRA), it is easy to understand where all this vicious doctrine comes from.  It is unfortunate that we have all these crackpots out there spouting off on a subject that needs sane minds in control.  However, I do not believe these fanatical efforts will undermine what the mentally sound religious leaders are proposing.  And that is what the majority of Americans want.  They want reasonable gun control that will stop the gun violence that is sweeping the country.  And they want it now.
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why we should really worry about some gun owners


 
Gun fanatic James Yeager
For the most part, the gun-owning-public is a safe bunch using and maintaining their guns properly and are a credit to this lifestyle.  However, in my mind at least, this does not include the cowboys with concealed carry permits that take their firearms out on the street to protect the citizenry of this country.  I don’t care if it is legal—it shouldn’t be—probably none of this group is fully trained as in law enforcement and some have no training at all.  Like in Arizona where all it takes to buy a gun is a warm body.  And there are several other states nationwide that do not require training to purchase a gun.
 
So that’s my soapbox on the concealed carry permit for the day, but there’s more to this story.  It is my way of illustrating the need for more control in the purchasing of firearms, particularly in the training the new gun owner should undergo.  In addition, a written and hands-on test should be given at the end and if the person doesn’t pass, he or she loses their gun until they do.  This should be retroactive to include all current gun owners, an unfortunate demand on states, but certainly worth the effort.  Gun owners will scream but it is the only way to insure responsible gun ownership.
 
And this need becomes so evident on a daily basis through the bizarre things that take place in relation to people and firearms. 
 
As an example, a mother in New York added some interesting items to her 7-year-old kid’s lunch in his backpack.  Along with a peanut butter sandwich, she placed a flare gun, a 22-caliber pistol, a loaded magazine, and 14 extra bullets, just in case.  The mother, Deborah Farley, said she had been out walking the streets of Queens earlier in the week when she had placed the guns in her son’s backpack, forgetting to take them out.  She was arrested for child endangerment and criminal possession of an unregistered firearm.  Police also found marijuana in her home.  So where did she get the gun?
 
And then those who are so eager to protect all of us by packing heat on the streets, can’t even participate in a rally for the support of gun rights without accidentally injuring themselves and others around them with their firearms.  
 
In Raleigh, NC, at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show, Gary Lynn Wilson had brought his 12-gauge shotgun to the event to sell to a private buyer; it discharged when being inspected at the entrance to the show.  Three people were injured.  The show shut down early.
 
Emory L. Cozee was loading his 45-caliber semi-automatic when he shot himself in the hand at the Indy 500 Gun and Knife Show.  What is interesting is that loaded personal weapons aren’t allowed inside the show.
 
Then in Ohio, a gun dealer was checking a semi-automatic handgun he had purchased when he accidentally pulled the trigger injuring his friend when the bullet ricocheted off the floor hitting him in the arm and the leg.
 
Now, I am certainly no expert on firearms but common sense does ring through loudly in all the above cases.  Shouldn’t Wilson have emptied the shotgun of all ammunition before even packing it up to bring to the show?  Shouldn’t Cozee have known loaded weapons were not allowed in the show and removed the rounds from his 45?  And shouldn’t the Ohio gun dealer have had the proper firearms training and known to be more careful in the handling of his weapon in public?  This is exactly why I worry about these gunslingers walking the streets with guns many have no idea how to use.
 
And then the ultimate example.  James Yeager, a wacko from Tennessee who is the CEO of Tactical Response, a firearms and tactical training company, said he would start killing people if further gun control policies are passed.  It was in a video posted on You Tube and Facebook, later revised to take out the killing part.  The Tenn. Dept. of Safety has now suspended Yeager’s handgun carry permit.  He was called irresponsible, dangerous, and deserving immediate attention by the Dept. Commissioner.  If ever there was a case of a disturbed individual with a firearm, Mr. Yeager fits the bill.
 
But all of the above no doubt continue to walk around with their weapons, except for Yeager, who probably still maintains an arsenal at his business and home.  Equally as wacky as Yeager, the head of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA), Wayne LaPierre, has instilled the kind of absolutist mentality in some gun owners, the gun nuts, that produces the fanatical reactions to any kind of gun control as evidenced by Yeager.  Another fanatic that comes to mind is Larry Pratt, exec. Dir. Of Gun Owners of America, a group known to be even more radical on gun rights than the NRA. 
 
The time for gun control has definitely arrived.
 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Calif. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is right, NRA is venal…and more



Lee Fang recently in The Nation asked: “Does the NRA represent gun manufacturers or gunowners?”  He doesn’t answer the question specifically but does point out, “Is the NRA working for casual gun-owners, many of whom, according to polling, support tougher restrictions on gun ownership— or is the NRA serving the gunmaker lobby— which is purely interested in policies that will promote greater gun sales and more profits?”  The answer should be blatantly obvious to any rational human being who has followed the unswerving radicalism of Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).
 
Wacky Wayne laPierre
Wacky Wayne and his 2nd Amendment rights absolutism has become ad nauseum but what is absolute is the fact that LaPierre’s zany antics are clearly in favor of promoting gun manufacturer profits, along with his near-million dollar annual salary, and not what a majority of gun owners want.  And it is pretty clear that the NRA now has financial ties to the $12 billion a year gun industry based on their donations to the NRA since 2005 of almost $39 million. 
 
As an example, Freedom Group, which owns Bushmaster, the company that made the AR-15 military-style rifle used by Adam Lanza in his bloody assault on Sandy Hook has donated between $25,000 and $49,000 to the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).
 
In the Huff Post, Josh Sugarman, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, said, “I think it’s much easier for policymakers to defend the NRA when they’re perceived as efforts on behalf of gun owners. That equation changes dramatically when they’re seen as defending the gun industry.”  So we have a triple threat going here.  1.) The possibility the NRA’s recent shenanigans will turn off Congress.  2.) The possibility the same will turn off some NRA members.  3.) And finally it will turn off the America public.  All in all it adds up to real trouble for Wayne LaPierre and his minion gun nuts.
 
This long-standing ability of the NRA to bulldoze congressional leaders is already on the wane as evidenced by the last election.  During the presidential and congressional elections, the NRA spent $17.4 million, while President Obama was reelected and the organization failed to win six out of seven Senate races.  Nowhere was the heat on to defeat Obama like its pursuit by the NRA’s head Wayne LaPierre, except maybe with Sen. Minority leader Mitch McConnell four years ago.  When the President took office, McConnell said the main goal of the GOP was to see that Barack Obama was not reelected.
 
So what does all this have to do with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (left picture) calling the NRA “venal?”  First, the definition of venal is: “Willing to sell one’s influence, especially in return for a bribe; open to bribery; mercenary.”  Further, the explanation of “mercenary” is: “Working or acting merely for money or other reward.”  Wayne LaPierre has taken an organization that has a record of supporting reasonable gun control laws and turned it into a façade that gives a new meaning to corruption and unscrupulous lobbying.  And it is time that the NRA should be investigated based on its non-profit status.
 
In 2012 GOP pollster Frank Luntz conducted a survey for Mayors Against Illegal Guns and found that 74% of NRA members support mandatory background checks for all gun purchases.  Wacky Wayne LaPierre and his NRA gun nuts have been adamantly against this and any new gun law, no matter how reasonable.  In 2004 the NRA fought successfully for Congress not to renew the assault weapons ban, the kind of weapons used in many of the recent mass gun massacres.  It was Dianne Feinstein that pushed through this law originally passed in 1994 under Bill Clinton’s administration. 
 
The NRA is constantly instilling fear into its members telling them that President Obama is going to take away their guns.  Many of them gullible enough to buy this crap run right out and buy more guns.  And that makes the NRA and gun manufacturers both happy and wealthy, but simply leaves these members with less in their bank account.  If this kind of momentum is allowed to continue, it will be necessary to eventually pass a law on how many guns are allowed in one household.  By now the absurdity of this whole issue should be obvious, even to the gun nuts.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Obama gets tough in opening second term


 
 
Mitch McConnell doing Obama
It looks like the President is tired of taking the crap that the Republicans have been dishing out for the last 4 years.  It started with a comment by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in October of 2011.  He said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”   He wasn’t, and McConnell turns out to be the idiot he looked like for the last four years.  He and House Speaker John Boehner, since the GOP took over the house in 2010, have spewed a non-stop diatribe of what a failure Barack Obama had been.  They were wrong and the American people knew it.
 
And because the Republicans were trounced last November in the elections, Boehner now is taking a new approach.  He is saying that “Obama’sfocus is to annihilate the Republican Party.”  Actually, Obama doesn’t have to do anything.  The GOP, led by the Tea Party, is doing that all on their own without any help.  The remark from Boehner made at a Ripon Society luncheon was confirmed by the Speaker’s spokesperson.  Even with a Republican majority in the House that can block the President’s legislation, it is obvious that this gang of obstructionists is running scared, as they should be.
 
David Gergen, who has advised four Presidents, said: “Years from now, historians are likely to look back upon Barack Obama's second inaugural address as a rich treasure trove for understanding his presidency and possibly the course of American politics.”  It’s the sort of thing you say about a great President.  Another interesting comment by Gergen was that not only was Obama more confident, but that he was also “liberated.”  Gergen thinks that refers to the comfort of a second term and not having to run again, as well as showing that Republicans are not willing to compromise.  Either way it is very promising.
 
Obama’s inauguration speech reminds us of Lyndon Johnson’s brand of liberalism and the Great Society.  It is a welcome return to values that espouse equality with the emphasis off the wealthy and now directed at middle America, lower income brackets and the needy.  Another famous Mitch McConnell comment following Obama’s speech was: “The era of liberalism is back.”  How fitting that it comes at a time when we must pass new laws on gun control, comprehensive immigration reform and improving the environment.  The President also plans to work on his 2010 Obamacare.
 
Gergen says, “He emerged as an unapologetic, unabashed liberal -- just what the left has long wanted him to be and exactly what the right has feared.”     
 
Pulitzer Prize winner Historian Gary Willis writes about Lincoln’s maneuvering of the Declaration of Independence into the “founding creed of the country.”  In it, Lincoln says, we are all created equal, which was mirrored by Martin Luther King 100 years later in 1963, and what President Obama was talking about when referring to the declaration as our “founding creed.”  Gergen maintains that Obama has made equal opportunity the “central goal of his presidency.”  He adds that the GOP expected a plea for partisanship but received something of an ultimatum to cooperate, or else.
 
The question is whether Americans support Barack Obama in what he wants to accomplish in his second term.  According to a CNN/ORCInternational survey released Jan. 22, the percentage of those believing global warming is a fact resulting from cars, power plants and factories has doubled to 49%.  On immigration, 53% want a path for illegal immigrants to legal residents compared to 43% who want to deport them. Today, 51% favor all or most of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with 44% opposed to all or most of it.  Is there any doubt why the President would demand cooperation from Republicans?
 

 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Arizona now selling guns on the street…and other stupid stuff


It’s my state and I love it but Arizona does have the largest gang of nincompoops in the country running the state government, and that’s all the way from the Governor down to the Republican legislature.  Jan Brewer, the finger waggin’ Gov. who has been in office since 2003 still does not have a clue about what she is doing.  I have to admit she has lucked into some good decisions—one was the sales tax measure to help Arizona’s economy—but stupid moves like denying qualified illegal immigrants driver licenses is more indicative of her style of bungling government.

Jan Brewer
She is supported by the biggest bunch of incompetent Republican state legislators ever assembled in one state, a clique of gun loving cowboys and cowgirls that have succeeded in passing the loosest gun control measures in the country and which have made Arizona a laughing stock.  The latest example is the reaction to a voluntary gun buyback program organized by Tucson’s vice mayor, Steve Kozachik, at the time a Republican.  When the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) had been successful in quelling any gun control since Jared Loughner’s Tucson gun massacre, Kozachik jumped into action.

In the two weeks leading up to the gun buyback, Kozachik received threats and was referred to as “Hitler,” just because he wanted to take back firearms from people who no longer felt comfortable with them in their house.  Sounds simple enough, and they were given in return a $50 gift card.  As an example of the program’s success, $10,000 in gift cards was distributed during the event.  Kozachik was a Republican at the time but switched parties one week after the buyback.  His contention is that there are some in the GOP who want to do right but the party is still being led by the GOP far right.

During Kozachik’s gun buyback program success, the NRA couldn’t stand the heat so in defiance of Kozachik, a group of gun nuts set up a “cash for guns” firearms flea market close by and right on the boundary of the police department where the buyback was taking place.  Kozachik comments, “In Arizona, it is legal for a person to walk up to another on a street corner, hand him cash for a firearm and simply walk off with it, with no need for a background check into his psychological or criminal history.”  And that’s exactly what this brazen bunch of gun worshippers did.

In talking further about his change from Republican to Democrat, Kozachik said, “It is that rigid ideology that is driving the party into irrelevancy.”

But Arizona’s gun culture could also mean that when the Obama/Biden gun control laws start going on the books, it could be the hardest hit of all the states.  A state law has already been proposed in Arizona saying it does not have to comply with any federal laws it chooses not to.  That’s my state, but I still love it. Charles Heller, co-founder of the Tucson-based Arizona Citizens Defense League, another gang of radical gun nuts, resurrected the now cliché 2nd Amendment argument making a bizarre comment:

“The idea of the Second Amendment was so we could shoot the cops and the soldiers ... who are trying to overthrow the U.S. Constitution.”  It’s like these people are on another planet.    

 
Dennis Wagner, in the ArizonaRepublic, says, “The National Rifle Association does not maintain a ranking list for states, but its website shows Arizona conforming to nearly every NRA barometer for Second Amendment support.”  Arizona also gets an “F” in firearms safety regulation by The California-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Out of 50 states, Arizona came in 49th behind only South Dakota,” said Lindsay Nichols, an attorney who worked on the report card. “It has some of the weakest gun laws in the country.”

The Brady Campaign gives Arizona a “0” score, last along with Utah and Alaska, for firearms safety provisions.

One can only try and imagine what goes through the minds of such a group of nitwit state legislators who pass these laws and the bonehead Governor who signs them into law.  The term double-digit IQs comes to mind.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Examining US mental health system critical precursor to gun control


It does not make sense that this country is not working feverishly to improve the mental health system when it accounts for so many gun deaths.  In all the mass shootings from columbine to Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, this predictable demon continues to raise its ugly head and kill innocent people.  In the case of Newtown, 20 little children only six and seven.  There are two groups that will always get guns somehow, the mentally ill and the bad guys, but we must at least make it harder for each to obtain the weapons with which they do their destruction.

As an example, just a few days ago, Christian Oberender from Minnesota was arrested for having an arsenal of guns in his home including an AK-47 assault rifle.  He was able to get a gun permit just last year and build this arsenal of 12 weapons in less than a year.  The catch is that at age 14, in 1995, he had killed his mother with a shotgun, shooting her five times.  Oberender was determined to be mentally ill and dangerous at the time and was placed in an institution for an extended stay.  He has again been diagnosed with a serious mental illness and “potential schizophrenia.” 

Here’s an example of his ramblings in a letter from Oberender to his mother thought to have been recently written:

“I am so homicide,'' and "I think about killing all the time. The monster want out. He only been out one time and someone die.''

Minnesota has a law that requires sending mental health records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  Either the state was negligent in its transfer of the data, or those approving gun permits were negligent in either receiving or retrieving the data.  In any case, this is a prime example of how the system failed and must be fixed.

Excellent video from Bloomberg on guns and mental health:

Former Arkansas Gov. and presidential contender Mike Huckabee believes that since "we have systematically removed God from our schools, should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"  This is the kind of crap you would expect from a conservative trying to take the focus off gun control.  Michael Kimmel on CNN said, “As if those heathen children deserved it?”  Kimmel also reminds us that almost all the recent mass murderers targeting non-work settings—like schools—were middle class white boys.  Not from the ghetto.  From upscale middle America.

Here are some more facts that Kimmel has collected.  Men and boys are responsible for 95% of all violent crimes and there is concern why so many of these young mass murderers are white.  While black kids are killing each other in the ghettos, it “seems to be nearly the exclusive province of white boys to so dramatically expand the range of their revenge and seek to destroy the entire world, not simply the person or group that committed the supposed offense.”  Not that race and gender are the primary concern; that remains the lax gun laws and mental illness.

So the only conclusion to be reached here is that a combination of federal and state laws must be enacted that will require the reporting of the mental health records of those people affected to NCIS and any other appropriate databases that are involved in determining whether or not a person should possess a firearm.  The laws must be stringent enough to discourage any lax participation by those charged with enforcement resulting in the proper punishment for those who don’t comply.  Only then will we be secure in at least knowing we’ve done all we can.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Albuquerque family massacre…just one more begging reason for stricter gun control


Gun bubbas masculinity
It happened on Jan. 19, a Sat. night, in the home of the Griego family living in a suburb of Albuquerque.  Nehemiah Griego, 15 years old, was charged with the murder of two adults and three children.  The killing of the children was described as “child abuse resulting in death.”  Authorities should define their meaning of “abuse” because there are several interpretations of what this could represent.  Several guns were found at the shooting, one an assault rifle that police said was used in the killings.  One described the weapon as an AR-15, also used by Adam Lanza in Newtown and James Holmes in Aurora.

Here we go again.  How many more mass killings will it take to convince a Congress and the general public that strict gun control is needed now?  A majority of Americans support most gun measures but are skeptical on some.  It’s 51% vs. 45% for more gun control over protecting gun rights.  It’s 52% to 35% for favoring some forms of gun control in a Pew Research poll.  But the country as a whole is still divided at about 50-50 on gun control, according to CNN Senior Political Analyst and National Journal Group's Editorial Director Ron Brownstein.  Naturally, Democrats are in favor of, Republicans against.

In more support figures, 85% to 90% want background checks for everyone, even private sales at gun shows.  80% want more laws to stop the mentally ill from getting a gun and an overall majority wants the feds to create a database to track gun sales, a ban on assault style weapons, high capacity magazine clips and online ammunition sales.  But there is a significant difference between Democrats and Republicans.  As an example, on banning semi-automatic weapons, two-thirds of women support the ban; the men are divided. 

With 44% of the public having an unfavorable view of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA), only 36% favorable, you would think that this would give Congress yet another reason to vote for more gun control.  But there is an obvious reason why they do not.  Two reasons actually, both based on money.  First, the money that will be used against them for voting for gun control.  Second, the contributions they will lose to their next political campaign.  This is in itself a glaring example of why we should have term limits.  Another 38% say the NRA has “too much influence.”  That is the understatement of the century.

The Huff Post laments that the day before president Obama laid out his plans for gun control:

  • A student with mental illness and a violent past shot a downtown St. Louis business official yesterday after he lost his financial aid, before shooting himself, according to authorities.

  • A gunman firing into a parked car at a Kentucky Community College killed a man and woman sitting inside and wounded a girl who was with them. Police suspect it was a domestic dispute, although they haven't made an arrest.

  • A dramatic increase in gun violence in Baltimore so far this year continued with three shootings, including the killing of a 17-year-old girl in an alley. No one was arrested.

A typical day includes 30 gun-related murders and 162 wounded by firearms in this country.  Another 53 commit suicide with a firearm every day.  That breaks down to three people killed by a gun every hour and around 60 people shot during the same time period. The FBI reports that a violent crime occurs every 25.3 seconds.  And I’ve reported these figures before, there were 11,422 homicides and 19,392 suicides in 2010 using guns, according to the CDC, and guns were also used either intentionally or accidentally to wound 59,208 people in 2011.  And we’re supposed to be a civilized country.

There is no excuse for this carnage except an incompetent Congress and an apathetic public that still refuses to pressure Washington to do something about these unnecessary and innocent deaths.  Until they do, there will be more Albuquerques, Newtowns, Auroras, Tucsons and ad infinitum. Contact your congressional representatives: Senate; House of Representatives.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

NRA afraid of gun violence statistics


 
Where do you go to find out what states have the highest proportion of gun ownership?  Or whether gun ownership correlates with homicide rates in a city?  How many guns used in homicides were bought legally?  Where juveniles involved in gun fatalities got their weapons?  What factors contribute to mass shootings like the Newtown, Conn., one that killed 26 people at a school?  You wouldn’t go anywhere because the data isn’t available thanks to Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).  They made sure in a 1996 law that stopped gun control research in its tracks.
 
The Associated Press reports that although almost as many Americans die from gun violence as car crashes each year, nothing is done to analyze the former, but the latter has been studied thoroughly, significantly bringing down the number of car crashes even when the number of cars on the road goes up.  Here’s an anomaly to illustrate the absurdity of this situation:
 
"If an airplane crashed today with 20 children and 6 adults there would be a full-scale investigation of the causes and it would be linked to previous research," said Dr. Stephen Hargarten, director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
 
This is all true because of a law that wacky Wayne LaPierre and his bunch of gun nuts pushed through Congress in 1996 following a study a few years earlier showing that “people who lived in homes with firearms were more likely to be homicide or suicide victims.”  Following this no government agency dared to do anything on the subject for fear of losing their grant money.  Sixteen years later, we have no real concept of exactly what is causing gun violence.  Except the one thing we know is that gun violence is caused by guns. 
 
What we need is a “black box” like airliners and newer model cars.
 
Let me give you an idea why the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) doesn’t want this research.  MSN did an article on state gun regulations with the following results:
 
  • Only six states require mandatory background checks on all purchases at gun shows.  They are Oregon, California, Colorado, Illinois, New York and Connecticut.
  • Only seven states require mandatory background checks on assault weapons.  They are California, Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • Only seven states have restrictions on high-capacity magazines.  They are Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
 
When you combine all of the states included in the non-requirements, it adds up to humongous sales for gun manufacturers, and that is why the NRA is in business; to make sure these companies sell more and more guns, more and more ammunition, and more and more gun accessories like high-capacity magazines.  And for their efforts, the NRA receives millions in donations from these gun companies each year.  Since 2005, those donations have totaled just under $39 million. 
 
The NRA can’t survive without this money and gun companies cannot survive if we learn the morbid statistics on gun violence.
 
Private funding for gun control research has been a paltry amount when compared to potential federal grants.  When you Google “private research grants for gun control,” you get some general stuff but nothing specific to gun control.  One of the most topics that did show up is the question of whether or not Obama’s executive orders would get gun control research going.  Unfortunately, the money required to fund this research requires an act of Congress and we all know there are enough yellow bellied NRA butt-kissers to stop that.  Unless…???
 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Death threats against NRA Pres. David Keene no way to solve gun control issue


I don’t know who is perpetrating these death threats against David Keene, the Pres. Of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA), but I wouldn’t doubt at all that it includes some typical NRA gun nuts trying to make the gun control advocates look bad.  I say this because wacky Wayne LaPierre and his gang of gun huggers are bigger liars than Karl Rove was in the George W. Bush administration.  With the NRA, as was regularly with Karl Rove, they would lie when the truth is better.  For years LaPierre has led the American public down a path of deceit over gun rights. 

Daffy David Keene




 
And daffy David Keene is no different.  Maybe the threats against his children will make him think about the completely irresponsible ads the NRA is running using Pres. Obama’s children.  This fruitcake went so far as to even deny the ad was about Obama’s children when it is clear that is the focus of the message.  I would provide a link but take my word, it is complete garbage.  Is it any wonder that bottom-feeders like Keene and LaPierre are taking flak for being responsible for mass killings like Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Aurora Theatre and others because of their support of loose gun laws?

And they are completely oblivious to a gun culture that places protecting their precious guns over human life.  Like 20 innocent children in Newtown, CT.  Or, are they both out-dumbing all of us.  LaPierre is obviously in it for the money and power; his (salary $970,300) and gun manufacturer’s increased profits, plus he is idolized by the gun worshippers.  Keene is just another conservative political hack trying to add more fire power to his resume.  Their obvious attention to weapons manufacturer’s bottom lines by promoting guns in everyone’s hands to carry anywhere is disgusting and obscene. 

NRA "reprehensible" ad using Obama's children:

And neither of these radicals represents the 4.2 million membership of the NRA.  I did a post in July of 2012 with the following facts:
 
  • 74 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants who have completed gun safety training. 
  • 68 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants who do not have prior arrests for domestic violence. 
  • 63 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants 21 years of age or older.
  • 74 percent support requiring criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun.
  • 79 percent support requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees – a measure recently endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry.
  • NRA members strongly support allowing states to set basic eligibility requirements for people who want to carry concealed, loaded guns in public places. By contrast, the NRA leadership’s top federal legislative priority – national reciprocity for concealed carry permits – would effectively eliminate these requirements by forcing every state to allow non-residents to carry concealed guns even if they would not qualify for a local permit.

Both LaPierre and Keene continue to push for absolute 2nd Amendment rights in a situation that has been screaming for negotiations on the gun control issue for years.  They know that once the damn is broken—and that is now beginning to happen—they will have lost their clout with the gun manufacturers meaning millions in donations every year.  (Since 2005, according to the Violence Policy Center, gun manufacturers contributed around $39 million to the NRA)  LaPierre loses his cushy job and Keene loses his position of political play-maker.  And 4.2 million NRA members are left out in the cold.
 
Finally, as usual, Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie put the radical conservatives of his party in their place.  He called the NRA ad using Obama’s children “reprehensible” and claims that the group has now lost even more credibility in the eyes of the American public.  Christie continued saying that “such a move demeans them,” commenting, "It makes them less of a valid, trusted source of information on the real issues that confront this debate.”  In other word, you can no longer believe what the NRA’s wacky Wayne LaPierre spews out of his propaganda mill.  Frankly, I never did.






         


               
               

               
               


              Friday, January 18, 2013

              Georgia home invasion mom proves need for firearms training for gun owners


              First of all, Donnie Herman’s wife, Melinda, deserves praise for the courage she displayed in protecting her two children from an intruder with her husband’s .38 revolver.  Herman talked his wife through the incident while also talking to a 911 operator.  The intruder had a crowbar and was breaking through doors in the house obviously planning to do harm to anyone he encountered.  Until two weeks prior, Melinda had never fired a gun when Donnie took her shooting because he thought she should be familiar with the family’s gun.  “If he opens up the door, you shoot him!  You understand?  Donnie said.
              The only way to safely own a gun
              Well she emptied the six-shot revolver hitting the guy with five rounds in the torso and face, missing with one.  Well, the guy was not only able to get up, he actually got in his SUV and drove off, crashing just a short distance away.  The gun rights bunch says she needed a weapon capable of firing more rounds.  I say Melinda, and Donnie should have been required to go through strenuous firearms training just to have the .38 in the house.  If she couldn’t bring him down with five shots hitting him in the face and torso, allowing him to escape, she may never have brought him down.

              I can’t drive my car without a license that I can get only if I have had sufficient training to properly operate the vehicle.  It is beyond me how they can allow an individual to own a gun without the necessary training to use it.  I did a post back in May, “Gun deaths versus car crash fatalities…who wins?” revealing from a report that gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 10 states.  A car is designed to provide transportation from one place to another.  A gun is designed to kill.  The Hermans have two guns in their home but it isn’t clear whether that is a benefit or an obstacle to their safety.
              The CNN article on this issue states, "It's more common for an armed homeowner in the United States to be a victim of suicide, homicide, assault or an accidental shooting than it is for that person to shoot an intruder," according to Dr. Arthur Kellermann, a senior health policy analyst at Rand Corporation, a non-partisan think tank.  And many experts agree, contrary to being a protection to their safety, crowds of people rush out to purchase a gun but never properly learn how to use it.  The FBI conducted about 2.8 million checks for gun purchases this past December, a record high for a month.     

              Wacky Wayne LaPierre’s National Rifle Assn. (NRA) strongly opposes requiring any firearms training connected to obtaining a concealed carry permit.  As an example, the NRA objected to a requirement of only four hours training for a concealed carry permit in Wisconsin.  There is no doubt why gun control advocates just shake their heads at this kind of ignorance and complete disregard for the rights of those who don’t want to die in gun violence.  Unfortunately, some of this group reacts with apathy and the attitude that it only happens to others, not them.
              As far as I can determine, only 3 states require any firearms training in connection with owning a gun.  They are the District of Columbia, Maryland and Ohio.

              ThinkProgress spoke with a number of NRA members at their St. Louis convention last April and found that many supported gun safety training to acquire a concealed carry permit.  I agree with this, although I think the CC permit itself should come with restrictions based on need.  But let’s be honest, wouldn’t it be a safer America if everyone who owns a gun was forced to learn how to use it?  Remember, there are 300 million firearms on the streets of the United States.  How many owners are trained on how to use them?  My guess is a very sparse number.

              Thursday, January 17, 2013

              Would banning high capacity magazines and requiring universal background checks be a good start to stricter gun control?


              Let’s consider this scenario.  If you limit the magazine size of a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle to 10 rounds (perhaps even 7 like the latest New York law requires) have you basically reduced the firearm to what many typical rifles are capable of shooting?  In checking an Outdoor Life recommendation of the best 2012 hunting rifles, I found the Ruger American Rifle with a 5-round capacity including a magazine.  I don’t know how typical or popular this rifle is with hunters but it seems to have received the recommendation of a major hunting magazine.
              The American Hunter
              I don’t think any gun control advocate out there favors taking away a hunter’s right to enjoy his sport, and anyway, assault rifles aren’t the biggest problem in gun violence, handguns are.  According to the FBI, in 2011, 6,220 people were killed by handguns, 323 by rifles.  But it was the sheer horror of the brutal killing of 20 children ages 6 and 7 by a shooter using his mother’s assault rifle with a 30-round magazine that has brought the gun control issue to the forefront.  The question is, would that Bushmaster AR-15 revert to the same capability as the Ruger reduced to a 10-round or less capacity?

              Unfortunately, the universal background check would not have prevented Adam Lanza from killing these little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but it could have prevented Jared Loughner from getting the weapon he used to kill 6 and injuring 13 in Tucson in Jan. of 2011, including former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.  What must be done in parallel with requiring these background checks is to make the reporting of felons and the mentally ill to the appropriate databases mandatory by law enforcement and all states.  Common sense?  Yes, but one of the biggest shortfalls in maintaining gun control.

              The New York Times reported, “All federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run background checks through the computerized databases that comprise the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS).  But the requirement does not cover guns that are sold by unlicensed sellers at gun shows and in other private sales, which account for about 40 percent of gun purchases in the country.”  The  National Instant Criminal Background Check System reports 16,808,538 requests for firearm background checks in 2012 with 976,255 denials.
              The latter means that 15,832,283 permits were issued in 2012, which also means that 6,332,913 gun purchases could have been made—based on the 40%--without background checks.  Even if a fraction of this figure resulted in guns ending up in the wrong hands, is it any wonder why guns deaths in the U.S. are so high?  According to a CNN article, the FBI says more than a million people failed background checks to buy guns in the last 14 years because of drug use or mental health issues.  Congressional approval is required for universal background checks but other moves need only executive actions.

              Some of the President’s proposals are not given much chance of making it through a Republican House because of gun lobbyists, namely the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).  This organization claims to have added around 250,000 new members to its already 4.2 million.  An NRA spokesman says the numbers are those who are passionate about 2nd Amendment rights, a claim that is really getting old.  What the NRA spokesperson didn’t say about that 250,000 is the fact that 74% of them support background checks.  The Frank Luntz poll of NRA members also found that 75% want more restrictions on concealed carry.
              If the President gets better background checks plus a ban on high capacity magazines, we can wait until 2014 and a more progressive House and Senate to add more to the list.  Here’s my want list on gun control from an earlier January post:

              1. Ban all assault or assault-type weapons

              2. Ban all high-capacity magazines over 5 rounds

              3. Close gun show loophole

              4. Background checks for all gun purchases

              5. Mandatory training for anyone owning a gun

              6. Mandatory state reporting of the mentally ill

              It’s like a Christmas list.  You just keep asking for what you want until you get it.  The NRA should be on notice that the gun control advocates won’t give up this time.

              Tell you congressional representatives what you want done about gun control;  Senate here; House of Representatives here.

              Wednesday, January 16, 2013

              Walmart should set an example for gun control


              Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. with 4,000 stores, almost half of which sell rifles, shotguns and ammunition.  But one-third of Walmart stores sell what they call “modern sporting rifles,” more commonly known as assault rifles.  The kind of weapon that killed 20 little children and 6 teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.  The question that this retail giant must answer is whether profit is more important to them than human lives.
              Walmart initially declined to meet with AG Eric Holder along with other gun retailers, but thought better about their decision and relented.  No doubt concerned about the public face this displays to Americans concerned about saving the lives of innocent victims like those at Newtown.  Whether or not this will convert into an attitude of cooperation with gun control advocates remains to be seen.  What is sure is the fact that a majority of the public now wants to see new stricter gun regulations and just may shop accordingly.

              In 2006 when Walmart started concentrating on urban areas instead of the rural population, it replaced firearms with other sporting goods.  And then the 2009 recession hit with sales and profits taking a dive across the country.  Struggling, they decided to start selling guns again with advertising and promotion targeting rural areas again where the gun culture is definitely more prevalent.  It always seems to come down to the bottom line, even when it involves products designed to kill.

              George Zornick in The Nation reports, “Gun sales are a key part of Walmart’s recent sales spike, and have shot up 76 percent over the past two years.”  So do they really want a ban on assault weapons?  But if Vice Pres. Joe Biden gets what he wants, the fact that Walmart is a certified gun retailer will require other independent sellers to go through the chain for their background checks.  In the end, some of these customers could simply change their business to Walmart.

              
              Bushmaster AR-15
              Zornick also reported that, in consideration of the Sandy Hook victims, Walmart had removed the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle from its website, an obvious public relations ploy since all other assault weapons remained.  Freedom Group, who produces the weapon, said, if Walmart should reduce gun sales, it could adversely affect their bottom line since 13% of their sales came from the retailer.  However, the Bushmaster AR-15 did remain on store shelves.
              What is pivotal in this issue is that Walmart could be the key factor in getting gun control legislation passed.  If the giant should take a reasonable position on gun control, it is very possible that other major firearms retailers like Cabela’s would follow their lead.  Opposingviews.com thinks that if Walmart, along with other major gun retailers, would “partner” with the White House, the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) would no longer be considered as representing the American public, leaving only gun manufacturers.
              Unlike the sleazy gun stores, particularly the gun shows, both of which appeal only to gun worshippers, Walmart has a public image they must maintain and right now the American public has decided it has tired of gun violence due to the number of firearms on the street.  This is the fault of the gun lobby, most notable wacky Wayne LaPierre’s NRA, plus the Republicans and some Democrats in Congress.  Who will Walmart side with and just how aggressive will their action be?  Rationally minded folks are watching and if they don’t see what they like, many will react with their pocketbooks.