I used to wonder where the bizarre anti-Obama stuff came from. Stuff like the "black helicopters," "FEMA camps," & the "coming to take your guns" paranoia. Then I picked up a discarded copy of last month's issue of the "American Rifleman," which bills itself as "the official journal of the National Rifle Association."
The anti-Obama, "coming for your guns" drumbeat (or is that the patter of rifle fire?) starts on the cover and continues for seven solid pages of op/eds and a "news" story about the President's "character."
Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President of the NRA, is the leadoff hitter. He excoriates both President Obama and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg for supporting - get this - a universal background check system for gun purchases. It's just a hop, skip, and black helicopter ride away from gun registration and confiscation, he warns, noting that only the NRA realizes it:
"But gun owners who are not NRA members don't read our magazines, nor do they receive our legislative alerts and emails, leavig them vulnerable to falling for Bloomberg's and Obama's lies."
Next up is NRA President James Porter. He's upset that the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence noted correctly that having a gun in the home increases the risk of an unintentional shooting, suicide, and homicide. Porter calls this "a huge lie," but a University of Utah report disagrees:
Accidental shooting deaths are most commonly associated with one or more children playing with a gun they found in the home. (Choi, et al, 1994) The person pulling the trigger is a friend, family member, or the victim. (Harruff, 1992)
Another study showed that two-thirds of accidental firearms injuries occurred in the home, and one-third involved children under 15. 45% were self-inflicted, and 16% occurred when children were playing with guns. (Morrow and Hudson, 1986) A study from 1991-2000 showed that twice as many people died from unintentional firearm injuries in states in the U.S. where firearm owners were more likely to store their firearms loaded. (Miller, et al, 2005)
Porter ends with a flourish, lauding Ferguson, MO gun owners:
"But in Ferguson, America saw that a handful of individual citizens, some bearing AR-15s, we able to defend businesses from rampant lawlessness where government totally failed."
Because that's what you want, right? Armed citizens in the streets confronting protesters while local police try to get the situation under control.
Not to be outdone, Chris Cox, the legislative director, warns that New York state is coming for the guns of dead people, and seems almost disappointed that:
"... in the weeks since the announcement was made, we haven't heard of any grieving survivors whose doors have been kicked down by police looking for their departed loved ones' handguns."
Well, former-Army-colonel-turned-school-superintendent Casey Wardynski probably didn't mean it that way, but consider this question. "How can we seriously consider high school students to be a "danger to schools" because they've been photographed holding guns and not hold political candidates to the same standards?"
Why just here in Alabama, it's de rigueur for Alabama political candidates to pose with guns, use them in campaign commercials, bray about gun laws for political advantage, and even hold state Republican Party events at gun rangesbecuase nothing goes with the crushing defeat of your presidential candidate like guns & alcohol, right?
In AL.com's report, the city school system's security officer is quoted saying the NSA called with a tip about a threat to a teacher on social media. An NSA spokeswoman is quoted saying the agency has no record of the call and such calls are "inconsistent" with NSA practices.
Regardless of how the program started, Huntsville City Schools began scanning Facebook and other sites for signs of gang activity, watching for photos of guns, photos of gang signs and threats of violence.
Fourth: People holding guns in social media pictures!
Internal documents explaining the program, obtained by AL.com, show examples of four different students posing on Facebook with handguns. None are on school grounds. Three are listed as expelled. One was referred for counseling.
Well campers, if we're going to use that last standard as our template for banning people from the public schools & putting them into treatment, then it's a safe bet that virtually every Alabama politician needs to stay away from schools. As a group, they're all over social media with their gun-shaped BBQ grills, posing with their guns, or grinning next to dead animals they killed with guns, bows, or maybe their bare hands....
But hey: look at the damage the GOP supermajority has done to the state in just four years. They didn't use guns; they used their votes as weapons and shot it out with public school teachers, the education budget, and the working poor.
That's a lesson for every Alabama school kid and every Alabama voter. Guns can be deadly on an individual basis, but power in the hands of the corrupt puts the whole state at risk.
Don't worry campers! Thanks to Alabama AG Luther Strange, if your polling place is attacked, chances are there will be some concerned citizen there who's packing & will the thrilled to shoot it out with the bad guys. What could possibly go wrong?
With Alabama’s runoff election a week away, the attorney general is telling county commissions that they don’t have the authority to prohibit firearms at polling places.
The Chambers County Commission sought the advice of Attorney General Luther Strange after a few people carrying exposed guns showed up at polling places in Chambers and Shelby counties during the primary election June 3.
The attorney general issued a seven-page advisory opinion Monday that says state law doesn’t give the county commission the authority to ban weapons at polling places. But it says state and federal laws that ban weapons in some public buildings, such as courthouses and schools, still apply when those venues are used as polling places. It also says churches and other private buildings used as polling places may prohibit guns, including those carried by people with permits to have concealed weapons.
This is all thanks to our state legislature, who in 2013, removed the authority of local officials to implement their own firearms regulation. The same group of Republicans who whine about "states' rights" and freedom from the federal government don't give a second thought to micromanaging from Montgomery. They have their fingers in the affairs of every city & county government in the state. Remember 2010? The entire state had to vote on whether or not Madison County could implement a vicious dog ordinance!
Any local government not deemed competent enough to deal with dangerous dogs is therefore certainly not competent enough to regulate dangerous people with weapons. That's the state's job, & presumably the "good guys with guns" at the polling place will keep vicious dogs far away from the entrance. Could be they keep some voters away too.
There may be a silver lining. If voters feel intimidated by the presence of guns displayed either inside or outside polling places, they need to report that concern to polling officials and the Alabama ACLU. Voter intimidation - particularly against people of color - could provide just cause for action under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
According to the Alabama State Auditor's 2007 - 2014 Loss Reports, state agencies have reported 37 handguns, 6 rifles, & 11 shotguns as lost or stolen. The State Department of Rehabilitation Services lost some dynamite, and even the Alabama Ethics Commission is armed (or was): it reported a Beretta 40 caliber S&W pistol as stolen in 2012.
The Department of Public safety reports the most losses - which makes sense because they likely have the most weapons. But still, how safe is the department making citizens when they can't keep up with their inventory?
Q2 2007 Report
LOST: Rifle S/a 7 62 M14
Q2 2008 Report
STOLEN: Bushmaster .223 Rifle & night vision goggles.
Q3 2008 Report
STOLEN: Shotgun 12 gauge Winchester 1300
STOLEN: Pistol S/A .40 cal Glock
Q2 2009 Report
STOLEN: Shotgun 12 gauge Winchester 1300
STOLEN: Pistol S/A .40 cal Glock
LOST: Pistol S/A .40 cal Glock
STOLEN: Bushmaster Patrol Rifle
Q1 2010 Report
STOLEN: 5 tasers (note there were other reports of lost & stolen tasers during other quarters, but losing 5 in a single quarter seemed worthy of mention)
Q2 2010 Report
STOLEN Pistol S/a .40 cal Glock 22
Q4 2010 Report
LOST: Shotgun Pump 12 ga
LOST: Pistol S/A 6.5 mm
LOST: Pistol s/a .40 cal Glock
LOST: Pistol .30 cal Mauser
LOST: Pistol Derringer
Q4 2011 Report
STOLEN: Pistol S/A .40 cal Glock 22
LOST: Piston 9mm Laser Training
The State Board of Pardons & Paroles has quite the time keeping up with its handguns. Between 2007 & Q1 2014, it has lost 1 pistol and reported 9 as stolen, most of those are 40 caliber Glocks.
The State Department of Corrections has reported a number of thefts during the same period: 7 .40 caliber semi-automatic pistols, 3 12 gauge pump shotguns, and an AR-15 rifle.
Some unusual finds:
The Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center had a pistol stolen in 2011
So did the Board of Medical Examiners.
The Attorney General's office had a shotgun & 9mm automatic handgun stolen in 2011.
The Alabama State Docks Authority has had 2 pistols stolen, the most recent in Q1 of 2013.
Look through the lists when you get a chance (link is at the top of the page). The amount of stuff that is reported as lost or stolen is incredible. Laptop after laptop after laptop either "lost" or stolen from state agencies. We need some better oversight and leadership because the state doesn't have a single dime to waste.
Welcome to Alabama, where guns & ammo are taxed at a lower rate than food. It's an "Independence Day treat" brought to you by Rep. Becky Nordgren of Gadsden - a woman so clueless about the the nation's founding documents that she thinks a sales tax holiday for guns is an appropriate July 4th activity.
Did I miss some important component of the Declaration? Nordgren & her fellow paranoiacs are always foaming at the mouth about the 2nd Amendment & 10th Amendment - both part of the Bill of Rights, which was ratified and became an official part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791.
But July 4th - Independence Day - celebrates the Declaration of Independence. It's a document that I view reventially, particuarly the last statement of risk & courage where the signers "mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fotunes, and our sacred honor..." The only places in the text that "gun" is mentioned is part of the word "begun."
But there's nothing honorable about this sort of doofus pandering. We live in a state that can't find the money to remove the sales tax on food - but taking the sales tax off guns? Splendid idea!
Why? Because....Obama... Jesus....liberals.... and - did we say, OBAMA?
“The anti-gun agenda being pursued by Barack Obama, Congressional Democrats, and other D.C. liberals has caused the cost of firearms and ammunition to skyrocket, and Alabamians, who embrace guns by long-standing tradition, deserve some relief,” Nordgren said in a news release.
“Holding a firearms sales tax holiday at the anniversary of our nation’s birth is the perfect way to celebrate the rights and independence that we hold close to our hearts as Americans.”
Because President Obama is SO coming for your guns, right? That's why so many "jack-booted thugs" have tromped through the domiciles of helplesss Alabama gun owners during the past 5 years.
The only good thing about this bill is that SO FAR it has no Democratic co-sponsors.
Rep. Nordgren is also the sponsor of another of this year's dreadful bills: HB31, the so-called "conscience bill" that lets health care workers opt-out of any procedure related to women's reproductive health. Where's the "Gun Store Employee Right of Conscience Bill" that protects workers with "religious, ethical, or moral objections" to selling firearms to anybody who wanders up? And don't even note that people with objections to that practice could get a job elsewhere, because... so could pharmacists, technicians, doctors, nurses, and anyone else who chooses to work in the health care field.
Don't hold your breath on that one. Could be that Rep. Nordgren already tried that - and look what's happened.
Here's the takeaway from the recent hung jury in the case of Michael Dunn for the murder of Jordan Russell Davis, the aquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the conviction of Marissa Alexander for firing a warning shot instead of shooting to kill her abusive husband:
In Florida, if you shoot someone, you darn well better kill them - and it helps if you're white and they aren't.
Ms. Alexander was lucky in that a court overturned her conviction, but unfortunately nothing can bring back Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis. Writing in The Altantic, journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is eloquent and straightforward in explaining that no matter what the race, kids are the same everywhere. They're works in progress and full of potential.
The face of Trayvon Martin is always with me, trapped in the amber of youth. What is bracing about these regular deaths is how easily I can slot myself into the same circumstance. Follow me in a Jeep, then follow me on foot and we might come to blows. Demand that I turn down my music, at 17, and you might well not like my response. And I do not think this is a fact of black magic, of pathologies, of my culture. I think it is product of 17. [...] But some are given more days than others, and I think of dying at 17, in my loudness, in my vanity, which is to say in my human youth, and I tremble. I was barely anything. I understood barely anything. When Michael Dunn killed Jordan Davis, he obliterated a time-stream, devastated an open range of changes. And somewhere on that American jury, someone thought this was justice, someone believed in the voodoo of shotguns and teleportation. Michael Dunn killed a boy, and too robbed a man of his chance to be.
Like Zimmerman, Dunn appears to be a particularly nasty character who spent more time looking for trouble than in trying to avoid confrontations. Perhaps he can go into the art business with Zimmerman and sell paintings for $100k a pop. Dunn is certainly unrepentant, writing this to his daughter from jail:
In one of the letters, Dunn talks about how the jail in Jacksonville was ‘full of blacks,’ and suggested if more people ‘arm themselves and kill these **** idiots…they might take a hint and change behavior.’
He wrote: ‘The jail is full of blacks and they ALL act like thugs. I think the legal system is scared of a backlash any time there is a white-on-black incident, but don't get excited when it's black on black or even black on white.
‘This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these ***** idiots when they're threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.’
Yeah, if more people just fired willy-nilly into a vehicle full of people and then continued to fire after the car drove away, "those people" would learn... something.
Here's the thing: the jury didn't see these letters and didn't find him guilty of murder. Woudl it have made a difference? And there's also the question about whether the DA over-charged with the 1st degree murder charge. That entails premeditation and "lying in wait," which probably didn't happen at a busy gas pump. He will be re-tried, but the DA hasn't announced the charges yet.
But compare this to the woman who fired a warning shot because she didn't want to kill anyone, just wanted to protect herself. Guilty, guilty, guilty.
What the heck is with Florida juries? I've never met a young Black man who is half as scary as these gun-toting, racist, "Stand Your Ground" killers.
Two sources with knowledge of the deal told The Military Times that Remington will purchase a 500,000-square-foot building to be used for manufacturing, new product development and training for the company's commercial, military and law enforcement businesses. Production is not expected to begin before 2015, the website said.
Good heavens... let's just hope that the AL GOP supermajority doesn't decide to copy North Carolina on this one. Although perhaps they don't need to: this little tidbit may have been slipped into one of the dozen or so gun bills from the last session.
The Republican-backed bill approved by both the House and Senate on Tuesday allows concealed-carry permit holders to take firearms into bars and restaurants and other places where alcohol is served as long as the owner doesn't expressly forbid it.
Guns will also now be allowed on greenways, playgrounds and other public recreation areas.
Guns at bars and playgrounds... What could possibly go wrong?
If this is NOT already legal in Alabama - really, the legislature loosened the laws so much that it's hard to keep up with the minutiae - then I fear that two Democratic "leaders" in the legislature will seize on this oversight and use it to burnish their "pro-gun" credentials.
Huntsville's minor league baseball team general manager Buck Rogers (really!) thinks it's a great idea to sponsor "2nd Amendment Night" at the ballpark. Since local merchant "Larry's Pistol & Pawn" is selling guns "hand over fist," why not celebrate Independence Day with some firearms?
"And since everybody's buying guns hand over fist and Larry's Pistol and Pawn wants to get involved in some sponsorships and they had a line out there a mile long (to buy guns)," Rogers said. "We're having a Second Amendment night to talk about things anyway. It's an educational night. No guns coming to the game. Nobody is giving away guns"
NO, they're raffling off the chance to win guns. And not just any guns, campers!
"Our approach on our Fourth of July show, we're going to do a night talking about the Constitution," he said. "We're handing out copies of the Declaration of Independence to all the fans coming into the game and making it a patriotic salute.
Which is it? A night talking about the Constitution or the Declaration? Don't get me wrong: I revere both documents - they're the sacred texts of our civil society. But they're quite different animals.
And here's the best part:
The office of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, announced earlier this week that he will be attending the game and meeting with constituents.
I'm not anti-gun: my sweet hubby gave me my very own shotgun for our 18th wedding anniversary - and I even named it. But, damn.. this promotion is, IMO, just creepy.
I'm old enough to remember when we celebrated the Constitution and American Independence by setting up "soapboxes" and encouraging people on street corners to speak their piece about whatever issue was important to them. It was really fun and empowering.
But now... with the Alabama Legislature's new gun laws, I'd be concerned about doing that very thing. Who knows what armed citizen might be offended and "exercise his/her 2nd Amendment rights" to drive home the point?
Huntsville Stars.... I LOVE baseball, but you've lost me on this one.
Thirteen is the number of the Death card in a tarot deck, and thirteen is the number of gun bills introduced thus far in the 2013 session. It's early yet - perhaps more will hit the hopper soon in the mad rush to curry favor (and campaign donations) from the NRA. Most of these bills will be very costly, both in terms of the litigation required to defend them and the human lives lost as a result of this Wild West approach to gun control.
Here's what we have on offer so far:
The centerpiece is SB 43, AKA the "Firearms Freedom Act", sponsored by Gerald Allen (R-21). It has a little brother now, namely Sanford's (R-7) SB 93, AKA "The Guvvermint Better Stay Outta My Yard Act". Allen is in full combat mode this session - when not taking on the Federal Government, he will be busy repelling the Stealthy Encroachment of Islam via SB44. Passage of his bills will keep trial lawyers statewide employed for the next decade, so in a way it's a job creator. Well done, Senator; the Supreme Court was getting bored.
The Firearms Freedom Act is not an original piece of Alabama legislation. It's a clone from Montana, and they have been fighting the Feds ever since its passage in 2009. Oral arguments will be heard in Oregon next month before a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit in MSSA v. Holder. Alabama would do well to postpone any such legislation until this has been settled.
Next up are a pair of bills in the Senate: SB 24 and SB 129, AKA the "Bring a Gun to WorkActs". Roger Bedford (D-6) and Scott Beason (R-17) are the respective sponsors. These bills limit the ability of employers, businesses, and private property owners in the state to restrict the presence of fireams, especially in cars. Our duly-elected Legislators are men of foresight and vision. They know people are going to get killed if these bills pass, so they are planning ahead:
(e) No business entity, or owner, manager, or legal possessor of real property, or public or private employer shall be held liable in any civil action for damages, injuries, or death resulting from or arising out of another person's actions involving a firearm or ammunition transported or stored in an employee's or invitee's motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, the theft of a firearm from an employee's or invitee's motor vehicle,...SB24
Now I'm not sure why criminals would risk arrest for car burglary in Alabamastan, where homemade machine guns are legal [see SB43], but if they feel a sudden need to drop in at the local Stop & Rob for a little cash, they need only head for the nearest parking lot. I wouldn't work in Human Resources on a bet. Who wants to fire that guy with the loaded gun in his car? Anybody?
The body count will rise even higher if they pass HB 55, AKA the "Shoot a Trooper Act". Sponsored by Todd Greeson (R-24), this bill sees your loaded pistol in the car and raises it by also allowing you to carry it to public demonstrations (hey, what could possibly go wrong?) and pretty much anywhere else you please. Human resources may have sweaty palms, but I can't even imagine how our police are going to feel about making routine traffic stops if it passes.
This bill would authorize a person to carry a pistol in his or her vehicle without a concealed pistol permit. This bill would repeal a prohibition against carrying a concealed pistol on another's property. This bill would also repeal a prohibition against carrying a pistol at any public demonstration. synopsis, HB55
There are two more bills that will directly challenge the Federal Government's right to regulate firearms in Alabama. Shadrack McGill, the Legislature's most useful idiot, wants to arrest ATF Agents!
Much of the 2013 legislation introduced by members of both parties in the Alabama legislature ranges from the silly, to the unnecessary, to the downright delusional. And Republican Mike Jones pulls of a legislative hat trick HB8, as does Senator Gerald Allen with his Firearms Freedom Act (SB43).
Jones started the gun legislation stampede off with a bang when he introduced HB8, an Alabama constitutional amendment to protect the right to "keep and bear arms" (read full text):
Article I, Section 26 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, provides that every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself or herself and the state.
This proposed amendment would provide that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny.
This proposed amendment would also provide that a citizen cannot be compelled by international treaty or law from taking actions that prohibit, limit, or otherwise interfere with the fundamental right to bear arms.
It's silly because - contrary to what many GOP elected officials believe - the "right to keep and bear arms" is already in the US Constitution and what's in that august document trumps any silliness added to Alabama's state constitution.
A couple of red flags with this bill:
Strict Scrutiny is a standard of judicial review where the courts weigh a government's ability to "weigh the government's interest against a constitutional right or principle." Some Alabama sheriffs have expressed concern that this section might require them to issue concealed carry permits to virtually anyone who applies. Under current law, sheriffs have more latitude.
So the unnecessary part of the bill is to restrict the discretion local law enforcement. And we thought the GOP was all about local control!
"International treaties." Really, GOP? Is it remotely possible for you guys to introduce any piece of legislation without an delusional dash of anti-UN paranoia? This isn't so much of a red flag as it is just more stupid Republican unicorn hunting.
This bill would exempt from federal regulation under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution a firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained within the borders of Alabama.
The important thing to understand about the so-called "Firearms Freedom Act" is that it is not homegrown Alabama legislation: it's a nationwide effort on the part of the "tenther" movement. If that sounds suspiciously close to the "birther" movement, well... its is. Those groups cross-pollinate pretty regularly.
The "tenthers," though, are far more dangerous. Read more about them here, but here's a taste of their worldview:
Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) has been an opponent of the Federal Reserve, Agriculture Department, and Justice Department, and claims the Federal government should only focus on crimes such as counterfeiting, treason, and piracy. Broun wasn’t specific, but he intimated that the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Food and Drug Administration should be eliminated. Broun’s argument is that the main function of the federal government is national defense.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), recently said that Federal child labor laws are unconstitutional and claims that states have the right to regulate commerce and that the Federal government is usurping states’ authority.
Multi-national corporations would just LOVE to be freed from the constraints of child-labor laws, minimum wage regulations, food safety requirements, and anti-pollution laws. In the "tenthers," they've found an eager horde of foot soldiers who seem determined to turn the United States of America into a North American version of Somalia.
Not surprisingly, the Alabama GOP leadership seems to think that's a good thing.
Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning told WHNT News 19 that his office will not enforce new gun control legislation if he feels those laws violate the Second Amendment. Dorning said he has serious doubts about President Obama’s latest proposals, stating that any gun laws which do pass would have to be in line with the U.S. Constitution and Alabama state law in order to be enforceable. [...] “As long as you are a law-abiding citizen, then I don’t see a problem with law-abiding citizens being able to arm themselves however they so choose,” said Dorning, who pledged to ignore any law that would call for the confiscation of assault weapons or any other firearm. “Our people in our communities and homes need not fear that the Sheriff of Madison County or his deputies would come to their homes and make an attempt to disarm them. It will not happen under my watch.”
Holy Marbury vs Madison, Batman! Do not pass Go, do not ask SCOTUS for review, just call up the Madison County, AL Sheriff for Constitutional law advice!
Notice how deftly Dorning tosses in a strawman about "disarming" people at the end of that statement. It plays totally into the paranoid conspiracy theory that the feds - backed by UN black helicopters & copies of the fanciful Agenda 21 - are just waiting for marching orders from the half-Kenyan, half-Muslim, half-Socialist, half-Fascist non-American spawn of Hitler occupying the White House. Don't bother to point out that no person can be "four halves" because these are not people who can be swayed by either logic o.r math
It's really amazing: thesheriff of one of Alabama's most populous counties has the time to do his job, the aptitude to study constitutional law, and the legal expertise to interpret laws. Oh, and he also possesses the total chutzpah to think that he has the authority to choose which laws he'll follow and which laws he won't.
That hasn't worked out so well for us in the past.
Let's visit those not-so-thrilling days of yesteryear, why don't we....
Lynching. Now, murder has always been against the law, but Southern law enforcement officials ignored that fact when it came to lynching. Southern politicians prevented the passage of a federal anti-lynching law and the US Office of Civil Rights (part of the DOJ) obtained its first lynching conviction in 1964 after a lynching in Florida.
Hate Crimes: We have federal hate crimes laws because - once again - local officials have had a tendency to ignore crimes committed against marginalized groups: GLBT, Native Americans, minority religions, etc.
The President cannot get the two major revisions unless Congress signs off, but Sheriff Dorning said even if they do, Washington is not his final authority.
Um... yes it is.
George Wallace. Schoolhouse Door. Enough Said.
The amazing thing here is that it's Sheriff Dorning who thinks President Obama is out of line and overstepping his authority.
Please Sheriff, remove the log in your own eye before worrying about the speck in anyone else's.
With the saturation media coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings, there hasn't been anything new that we could add here at LIA. However, I have run across a few very interesting articles from various perspectives that are worth sharing. I also have a slight rant about said media coverage....
Dear CNN, MSNBC, FOX, CBS, local affiliates, etc:
Would you please stop jumping to conclusions, scrambling to be the first to report bad information, and reporting rumor as fact during a crisis? And for heaven's sake, if you're going to presume to know the name of the shooter and disseminate that information - along with a link to his Facebook page - how about making sure you have the right person? Really, we're all grown-ups here and understand that in the middle of a crisis situation, the first responders have more important things to do than talk to your roving reporters. The survivors don't need to be harassed, interviewed, or videoed while in such a vulnerable state. Have some respect for the people grieving for their friends, co-workers, and the children.
"How do you feel?" you guys ask them. How the heck do you think the feel? Of all the dumbass questions, that one takes the cake.
Now.... on to some interesting perspectives on what comes next.
Jeffery Goldberg at The Atlantic makes the case for more people carrying guns in public. Note that this article is in the current issue and so was written well before this recent tragedy.
America’s level of gun ownership means that even if the Supreme Court—which ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment gives citizens the individual right to own firearms, as gun advocates have long insisted—suddenly reversed itself and ruled that the individual ownership of handguns was illegal, there would be no practical way for a democratic country to locate and seize those guns. [...] Anti-gun activists believe the expansion of concealed-carry permits represents a serious threat to public order. But what if, in fact, the reverse is true? Mightn’t allowing more law-abiding private citizens to carry concealed weapons—when combined with other forms of stringent gun regulation—actually reduce gun violence?
Atlantic Cities discusses The Geography of Gun Violence and there's a distressing big blue blob in the middle of Alabama. And it sends a chill through this parent who's moving her only child to Birmingham in a few weeks to attend UAB:
The rates vary substantially from a high of 32.8 in New Orleans to a low of 3.6 in Boston. Birmingham has the second highest rate with 20.5, followed by Memphis with 19.8. Las Vegas (17.6) and Jacksonville (17.5) round out the top five metro rates.
There are more maps & statistics, with this interesting finding:
While one would think gun violence would be higher in states with higher levels of economic anxiety related to unemployment or inequality, we found no association to either at the state level. My colleagues and I did, however, find gun deaths to be higher in states with higher levels of poverty and lower incomes, as well as in red states and those with more blue-collar working class economies. Conversely, we found gun deaths to be less likely in states with more college graduates and stronger knowledge-based economies.
Reid Wilson, editor in chief of the National Journal, says that if there are to be any changes in gun laws or attitudes, President Obama must take the lead in the conversation and the debate - something that he was reluctant to do during his first term:
Gun sales have spiked during Obama's first four years in office, prompted by fears that the president will take steps to restrict future purchases or, in the minds of conspiracy theorists, orchestrate some plot to rob Americans who still cling to their guns and religion. The ironic truth is that the administration hasn't done anything to justify those fears.
And the first limit ought to be a ban on automatic and semi-automatic rifles, and the components that allow weapons to be “upgraded” to such capabilities. This is not about hunting – anyone hunting quail with a Glock should probably stop calling it a sport. It is about what can no longer lawfully constitute a “personal” or “recreational” firearm in the interest of public safety.
What - if anything - do y'all think should happen? Changes in the laws? Better mental health care? More or fewer concealed carry permits?
Yesterday, a man walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and fired "many, many shots." He killed 10 people and injured 59.
How many more times do we have to see this happen before we can at least start talking about regulating who can legally buy the wherewithal to fire 'many, many shots' in a very short period of time?
The day after the Tuscaloosa shooting spree, a woman I know was lamenting that this would probably once again get people talking about how guns kill people. She deplored what happened in Tuscaloosa -- as I'm sure she deplores what happened in Aurora -- but her husband and sons and father all own semi-automatic weapons and they love to go out in the woods and shoot things and it's a wonderful bonding experience for them. That, apparently, makes semi-automatic weapons sacrosanct.
There may be families all across America who can only bond through the use of semi-automatic weapons, but it has been amply demonstrated that these weapons are also -- legally -- getting into the hands of people who cannot be trusted to use them only for harmless recreation. Can't we at least have a conversation about what kind of regulation might keep them out of the hands of mentally unstable folks who don't stop at blowing away saplings out in the woods.
Seriously, in this country cancer patients can't possess marijuana because it might be harmful to society. Teenagers can't buy beer and cigarettes because those substances are deemed harmful. All of us have to sign at the pharmacy counter for the good decongestant stuff because a few people make meth with it. We can't carry nail scissors on airplanes anymore. Although voter impersonation is more rare than being killed by lightning, we're requiring every voter to get a special ID to prevent it, just in case. But mentally disturbed people can legally purchase weapons designed to kill lots of people very quickly???
New York (FNS)-In an effort to help dispel concerns of racism, Terri Stocke, President of the Second Amendment March, agreed to coordinate with members of the Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network and the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/Push Coalition in an effort to encourage more members of the Black community to bear arms and to carry them publicly.
In return, members of the Black community have agreed to flood the 2nd Amendment March, scheduled for April 19, 2010, in Washington, DC, with hundreds of thousands of heavily armed residents of Chicago's South Side and New York City's Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods.
"We hope that the Black community understands that 2nd Amendment rights apply to all Americans" Ms. Stocke told the crowd outside Mr. Sharpton's offices.
Yesterday the Supreme Court struck down a Washington D.C. law that strictly regulated gun ownership. Montgomery Mayor and AL-02 Congressional candidate Bobby Bright approves:
"The Second Amendment guarantees our right to bear arms and today, in a decision that was crucially important to the people of Alabama and all Americans, the Supreme Court affirmed that right," Bright said in a press release. "I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and in Congress I will make sure the rights of gun owners everywhere are protected."
Sometimes in life (and in law), there are things that we might desire from a policy standpoint -- like certain forms of gun control, or restrictions on some election-related speech -- which are nevertheless forbidden by the Constitution. And as liberals -- unlike the other guys -- we ought not try to pretend that the Constitution doesn't exist when it gets in the way of our policy preferences.
There's simply no evidence that keeping guns out of the hands of those currently eligible to own them under Federal law (adults with no felony convictions, no domestic-violence misdemeanors or restraining orders, and no history of involuntary commitment for mental illness) reduces the level of criminal violence. Nor is there evidence that allowing anyone who can pass a background check and a gun-safety course to carry a concealed weapon increases the level of criminal violence. All that matters is keeping guns away from people who demonstrably shouldn't have them. Present law does that, but the gun lobby has done many things to make that law impossible to enforce.
With any luck, taking the "gun confiscation" card out of the political pack might actually reduce the fervor of the opposition the NRA can whip up to sensible measures such as requiring background checks for gun sales by private individuals (the current rule that requires them only for purchases from gun dealers), computerizing data on which dealers are selling the guns that get used in crimes, and developing and deploying technology that would allow police to identify, from a bullet or a shell casing found at a crime scene, when, to whom, and by whom the gun that produced that metal was lawfully transferred.
That won't satisfy the people who think that guns are icky and who want to inconvenience gun owners as much as possible. But that was never a legitimate object of public policy.
Emphasis is mine. Sort of a "let's go back to square one and think about what the ultimate goal was supposed to be." We need to do that now and then, lest we lose sight of what we really set out to do.
I have to say that I find it hard to believe overturning D.C.'s gun law won't result in more deaths in that city and appreciate Dahlia Lithwick's post on the reaction to this ruling as contrasted with the recent one regarding rights of people held at Guantanamo:
I must first pass along this rather brilliant observation from professor Stephen Wermiel from American University, who wonders why none of the dissenters cautioned the majority that today's decision "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed." (Boumediene, Scalia, J. dissenting.)