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Democratic Leadership's Plan For The Next Legislative Session: Stupid Gun Legislation

by: countrycat

Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 09:00:10 AM CST


With all the problems in Alabama government - Medicaid funding, GOP fantasy budgets, education cuts & ballooning college tuition, just to name a few - it's almost inconceivable that House Minority Leader Craig Ford and Senator Roger Bedford want to instead talk about guns in the workplace.   (HB12 & SB24)

They're for it.

Ford wrote an op/ed for the Alabama Political Reporter discussing the issue.  Alabama voters, he explains, shouldn't have to choose between their safety and their jobs. That's a perfectly valid statement but the rest of the piece is definitely a solution in search of a problem:

That is why Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford and I have sponsored legislation to protect a gun owner’s right to keep a concealed firearm in their vehicle while on private property or property owned by a business.
 
Many people are licensed to carry firearms in their vehicles for personal protection. But some businesses have made rules prohibiting employees and other individuals from keeping firearms in their vehicles while on company property. That is why we need this legislation.
 [...]

One of the basic lessons taught in high school government classes is that one person’s rights end where another person’s rights begin. Businesses can set their own policies, but they do not have the right to create policies that take away their employees constitutional rights - especially when the employee is no longer on company time or property.

Um.... businesses interfere with their employees' constitutional rights all the time.  A few examples:

  • Dress codes
  • Prohibiting religious proselytizing or political activities on company time. 
  • Refusing to hire smokers.
  • Forcing employees to sign into their personal FB page so the interviewer can snoop.

But let's look at that second one since Ford specifically mentions that in the beginning of his op/ed: 

When our founding fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, they made the “right to keep and bear arms: a priority. In fact, the right to own a firearm comes second only to the first amendment rights to free speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of the press.

Does this mean that Ford and Bedford will next take on employers who restrict employees' ability to harangue their co-workers about "accepting Jesus," "celebrating Solstice" or "voting Republican?"  

I can stand on a street corner and do that at will, so why not at work? And why are these two Democrats focusing on something that Ford acknowledges is "secondary" priority over gun rights?

Yeah, that second question is rhetorical.

We all know what's going on here.  There's a lot of speculation that Ford hopes to run for governor and he's done nothing to tamp it down.  So instead of working on real problems in this state, he's taking a page from the GOP playbook and focusing on a totally irrelevant issue that's sure to get people riled up.

Hey, look at me!  I'm a Democrat and I love guns!  Those business people want to take away your right to guns!  Guns! Guns! Guns!

Because that's so much easier than focusing on Alabama's terrible safety net and severe budget problems caused in part by the stubborn refusal to reform the state tax code.  Ford, remember, is one of only a few Democrats who signed Grover Norquist's no-tax pledge.

Ford has had some good things to say in the past, and on some economic issues, he talks sense.  Like when he urged a NO vote on the AL GOP's "Great Trust Fund Raid of 2012" and called out the GOP:

Does the state have so much money that we can afford to cut a billion dollars in government spending? Or are we so financially strapped for cash that we have to raid the Trust Fund of $437 million dollars (almost half of what Republicans say they are going to cut from the budgets)?

Republican leaders like to claim that they are fiscally conservative, but raiding the state’s savings account to the tune of $437 million to bailout the prison system and Medicaid is not fiscally conservative

Still, I find it hard to believe there's any principle behind this political ploy.  It's nothing but pandering and it's not going to work.  If 2010 taught us anything at all it's that Democrats can't win by sounding like Republicans.  It's doesn't win you new voters, guys!  In fact it loses votes because you depress your base. Republican voters will choose authentic Republicans and Democrats aren't going to be enthusiastic about the candidacy of "Mr. Republican-Lite."

Crap like this isn't a path to electoral victory: it's a recipe for another 2010 election.

 

countrycat :: Democratic Leadership's Plan For The Next Legislative Session: Stupid Gun Legislation
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Ford and Bedford have to do some stuff like this just to get re-elected to their current seats... (4.00 / 2)

There is only one path to victory for a Democrat in the governor's race anyway (a Baxley-Graddick shitshow in the GOP primary) and there's nothing Bedford or Ford can do to bring that about.

I don't fault these guys for doing what they are doing. They are career legislators doing any and everything they can just to stay in there. These are districts where Obama got way less than 30% of the vote and the Democrat name is crap. My bigger issue (and it is what I was extremely upset with Ford and Hubbard over the education bill) is that Democratic leadership doesn't need to be pushing this kind of stuff. If Joe Manchin or Joe Tester did this in the US Senate, would it bother you? It would not bother me. But those guys are on the periphery of the caucus, not in the leadership. We have leaders in the State House who cannot support the Democratic party wholeheartedly because they are in swing (at best, more likely Republican) districts.

Here, we have two ostenisble leaders doing this. I get their logic - they see it as a possible wedge issue because the GOP-loving BCA is adamantly opposed. I just think that party leadership has to be about defining an alternative agenda for their party. And, to truly have that, you need people from relatively safe districts.



Manchin or Tester? Yep... I'd just roll my eyes... (4.00 / 3)

And you hit the problem on the head, Bluebearcat!  These guys are in the leadership, but they aren't actually doing any leading.  I had hope for Ford and I'm sure he's basically a good guy, but some of his political instincts are just lousy.

The lack of "take your gun to work day" in Alabama is NOT one of our most pressing problems and wasting time on it gives the legislature yet another excuse to avoid tackling the hard questions.



"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith




[ Parent ]
I agree but the hard questions are the political losers... (4.00 / 2)
that's why they're hard. Much easier to do this in hopes of an "A+" rating from the NRA. Once upon a time, that might have meant something but in 2010 many Dems with strong NRA ties still got whalloped. I know there was even one where a Dem had an A+ and the GOPer had a D where the GOPer won. These kinds of interest group ratings don't carry the sway they used to.

[ Parent ]
Exactly. (4.00 / 1)

These kinds of interest group ratings don't carry the sway they used to.

We need to stop fighting the last election and concentrate on winning the next.  Tactics that lost previously aren't likely to be any more successful this time around.



"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith




[ Parent ]
epitome of the underlying problem (0.00 / 0)

to me is this whole notion of choosing issues and stances based on election potential.  There is a strange but common belief that it is ok for people to campaign on things they can win on, because they will do better when they get into office-- but ... they don't!  They don't do better.  They keep on playing what will win, and nothing ever really changes. 

I will never again vote for a candidate at any level of government who is not willing to publicly stand for good policy or who will stand for bad policy to get votes.  If the public (or a party) is not ready to vote for a real leader, they are not going to get one. I could care less about which party wins elections until we have candidates who are that brave.

What is needed?  Someone who will just tell the damn truth about our situation but is charismatic enough to get voters to agree even if they didn't to begin with. Pussyfooting around and watering down a progressive message need to be dealbreakers.



[ Parent ]
for the record.... (4.00 / 2)

and for blog newbies who may think I'm opposed to guns or gun ownership... nothing is farther from the truth.

In fact, I asked for - and received - a new shotgun from my sweet hubby as an 18th wedding anniversary present. 

I support responsible gun ownership and commonsense gun laws.  The Ford/Bedford bills though, are just pandering.



"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith




Something I'd love to know (4.00 / 2)

Just wondering if this "protection" will apply to STATE WORKERS who decide to keep their guns on state-owned property?

Then, of course, there's the consideration of how this will apply to FEDERAL workers.  For example, by FEDERAL law, it's a crime for anyone--other than those sanctioned by law (such as police)--to carry any kind of firearm on postal property.  If you're a gun-owning postal worker, you're NOT allowed to keep a gun or hunting rifle in your car or on your person while on postal property--which includes the parking lot.  And you CAN lose your job if you violate this.

I'm also curious if TEACHERS will be allowed to keep their handguns and hunting rifles in their cars that are parked in school parking lots?  And what about STUDENTS?  Should THEIR 2nd Amendment rights be "trampled on" simply because they're "underage?"  (Students have been suspended, and even expelled, for accidentally taking their hunting rifles to school.  During hunting season, a lot of students--mostly male--may indulge in some hunting before school and may "forget" to leave it at home before going to school or they may put it in their trucks/cars so they don't have to run home before some after-school hunting.) 

But I would love for these jackasses (really, that's insulting to jackasses but there's not much better to describe these morons that won't insult some group) to please let us know the last time that anyone's "personal protection" was put at risk because they weren't allowed to keep a gun with them*.  Even more, I'd love someone to please explain how keeping a gun IN YOUR CAR is going to "protect" you when some maniac barges into your workplace, brandishing a number of pistols and other handguns, shooting them off, possibly wounding or even killing you.

*For every argument that "if the moviegoers in Aurora or students at Virginia Tech had just been able to keep their guns with them, there wouldn't have been as many deaths," there's just as much of an argument that "those moviegoers and students could've been killed by their fellow patrons/students trying to play hero or by the police who couldn't tell who the actual criminal was."



I wondered the same thing (4.00 / 1)

Redstone Arsenal employment is HUGE in Huntsville and workers are not allowed to bring firearms on the base.  Wondering if Ford has considered how that will play out?

Heaven knows we don't need yet ANOTHER state/federal showdown over a totally stupid issue.

 



"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  - John Kenneth Galbraith




[ Parent ]
I don't believe this has the popular support Ford and Bedford are counting on (0.00 / 0)

Yes, BCA opposes it.  But that is not just big businesses.  Talk to people who run mom and pop style small businesses with family members working on the premises.  The last thing those folks want are non-family employees bringing guns to work.  Dispute on the job?  Your kid, niece, spouse, parent, etc. is liable to be in the line of fire.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a local farmer.  Conservative guy and I'm pretty sure he usually votes Republican, even though his economic interests are much more in line with the Democratic Party.  To my surprise, he brought up this subject to rant about how stupid these lawmakers are.  Said some years back he hired a local teenager to watch his corn drier and discovered the kid was bringing a pistol to the job.  He put a stop to it immediately.  "Back then, Daddy had a real short fuse and I knew if that kid pulled a pistol on him, somebody was going to get killed."  This guy ought to be voting Democratic, but are we doing anything to break him away from his GOP habit?  No, our leaders in the Leg. are offering him nothing but stupid, unworkable, pandering legislation.  Huge strategic error.

I'm a great believer in the power of wedge issues, but it's important to be on the right side of the wedge, otherwise you could end up in the kindling pile. 

Commenters above have aleady mentioned Rep. Ford's awful political instincts.  On that account, as well as on account of his GOP-leaning district, he is the wrong person to lead the Dem. caucus. 



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