In Alabama, we have the right to own just about any darn firearm we want. We have the right to hunt. We don't follow Sharia law (at least not Muslim Sharia law). But we'll vote on constitutional amendments that make absolutely sure that what is already legal in Alabama is EVEN MORE LEGAL!
Why? Because some of our Republican legislators spent the past session hunting unicorns instead of working on the education budget, shoring up the general fund, or expanding health care access in this state.
Amendment 1 would forbid Alabama’s courts from recognizing laws that violate its policies, which includes all foreign law. This amendment was proposed by Sen. Gerald Allen, who proposed a similar amendment for the 2012 ballot that would prevent the state’s courts from implementing Islamic Sharia law when making decisions. Although similar, this amendment does not specifically refer to Sharia Law.
Amendment 2 would increase the amount of General Obligation Bonds authorized to $50 million. The amendment would allow for additional payments from the Alabama Trust Fund to fund any bond issued, provide for competitive bidding of the bonds, require the Bond Commission to contract with businesses or individuals which reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the state, and provide for the use of the proceeds for plans, construction, and maintenance of Alabama National Guard armories.
Amendment 3 would give Alabamians a “fundamental” right to bear arms, although Section 25 of the Alabama Constitution provides for this already. Senator Bryan Taylor sponsored the amendment and said that the purpose of the amendment is to require a “strict scrutiny” standard towards any attempt to restrict gun rights.
Amendment 4 would require a two-thirds vote by a city or county board of education when such board intends to increase local school expenditures by $50,000 or more.
Amendment 5 would clarify Alabamians the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to reasonable regulations that provide for conservation. Similar to the repetitive nature of Amendment 3, Alabamians already have the right to hunt granted to them in Amendment 597 of the Constitution.
Amendment 1 - I don't know why Gerald Dial has a burr under his tail about Alabama possibly following "foreign law." The state routinely flouts federal law, so what's the problem?
Amendment 2 authorizes a bond issue & Alabama voters generally like to approve those because we get stuff without raising taxes. The problem is that the "stuff" has to be paid for at some point, and bonds get repaid out of the Alabama Trust Fund (the state savings account that the legislature already raided to balance the budget until after the 2014 election).
Amendment 3 gives us an even bigger right to keep & bear arms. Maybe bear BIGGER arms. That fact that we already have this right is immaterial to a legislator worried about re-election.
Amendment 4 makes it harder for local governments to adequate fund their public schools, which will encourage parents to pull them out & use the Bob Riley scholarships authorized by the Great Private School Giveaway bill to go elsewhere.
Amendment 5 protects our right to hunt because Amendment 527 (yes, that's right - 527!) that also protected our right to hunt, but didn't protect it enough....
Alabama has the longest Constitution in the country. It was written in 1901 by a group of wealthy white men who sought to disenfranchise the poor and people of color. It concentrates power in Montgomery (because it's a heck of a lot easier to buy off several dozen state senators than to lobby 67 county commissions). Because of this, it required a constitutional amendment to allow Madison County to pass a dangerous dog ordinance.
We need a new constitution and voters need to say NO to silly, repetitive constitutional amendments.
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.
Even a really, really, big gun can't compensate for AL State Rep. Steve Hurst's really small.... ideas. Running scared due to his GOP primary opponent, the Talladega party-switcher got a bang-up idea for a parade float: a giant handgun/BBQ.
The District 35 Republican from Talladega gets his message across at parades in a very unmistakable way: He uses a giant revolver as a parade float. (And a barbecue. The gun is actually not a balloon but a large barbecue shaped like a handgun.)
Because Alabama teachers don't have enough to do & students have obviously mastered the minutiae of math, science, & the arts, State Rep. Steve Hurst has found a way to fill that gaping hole in the school day. Fifteen minutes of prayer led by teachers. [...] What's party switcher Steve Hurst's sudden interest in Congressional procedure & the spiritual lives of Alabama public school students? Possibly it's the contested primary he's in with Steve Dean. See, Hurst fell for the GOP bait-and-switch. He's just the latest in a string of Democrats who get wined & dined by the GOP leaders, lured into the party, and then primaried out of a political career.
Ok... let's try to put his picture together, because Hurst's legislative targets seem to be all over the map. UNLESS, he's planning to open some sort of bizarre retribution restaurant. That makes some sense if we use this rather twisted sequence of events:
Child molester is convicted & sentenced to castration - after receiving the very best defense Alabama taxpayers are willing to provide.
Child molester is consoled by an Alabama teacher reading a prayer from the US Congressional record. After a few minutes of that, he may ask for the death penalty.
An expert marksman uses a very large handgun - because Republican men like Really. Big. Guns. - to perform the castration.
The detached body parts are then placed on Steve Hurst's handgun BBQ.
I don't even want to contemplate what #5 might be.
The Alabama Republican Party is so far gone that its candidates have become self-parodying, sad little caricatures of themselves. Will this new campaign scheme hit the target with the electorate?
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.
Yesterday, Senator Richard Shelby made the astonishing claim that background checks for gun buyers "undermines the Constitution." Because certainly the Founding Fathers thought that "freedom" depended on allowing felons and the mentally ill to buy as many guns as they could afford, right?
During his filibuster, the Senator went even further into the weeds: "The Second Amendment states unambiguously: "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." So.... does that mean there should be no background checks at all and that I can immediately place an order for a couple of machine guns and a rocket launcher or two?
Apparently, Senator Shelby doesn't realize that 2nd Amendment violations are taking place right under his nose! When I travel to DC to visit the Capitol or meet with Shelby's staff in the office, I'm not allowed to bring my shotgun into either building. Damn it, I'm not even allowed to carry it on the airplane with me. When is Shelby going to introduce a bill to rectify those violations of my "unambiguous" right to "bear arms?"
The Republican proposal on gun shows passed by a single vote, 48 to 47.... [...] Only one Democrat, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, joined 47 Republicans in favor, while 7 Republicans sided with Democrats in opposition to it. [...] Mr. Hatch and Mr. Craig said their measure would require all vendors at gun shows, whether professional dealers or hobbyists, to conduct background checks on prospective buyers. It augmented another amendment by Mr. Craig, passed by Republicans on Wednesday, that merely made it easier for vendors to conduct voluntary checks.
Senate Democrats opposed the measure, saying it didn't go far enough. But yesterday, they'd have grabbed it with both hands.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has a searing op/ed in today's New York Times:
Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.
I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending. [...]
They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest. I say misplaced, because to preserve their dignity and their legacy, they should have heeded the voices of their constituents. They should have honored the legacy of the thousands of victims of gun violence and their families, who have begged for action, not because it would bring their loved ones back, but so that others might be spared their agony.
This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I’ve always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list.
Yep. Money talks and cowardly senators listen - then cash the checks. How long will we continue to let them get away with their lies and distractions?
Such a sad spectacle for Alabama and for the entire country.
Let's start with the bad news. After holding over a committee vote on HB57 (the TRAP bill), the Senate Health Committee voted 7-3 to support Mary Sue McClurkin's ill-conceived bill:
The committee turned back an effort by Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, to amend the bill. Coleman recommended a number of changes, including a provision to grandfather in the state’s five existing clinics. [...]
Coleman said she was not surprised her amendment was rejected and said she might try again on the Senate floor. She said she did not think the bill was really about health and safety.
“This was an attempt to close these type facilities down because of personal religious beliefs,” Coleman said.
Meanwhile, outside the Statehouse, Governor Robert Bentley was busy acting as ringmaster for the anti-choice circus. Governor ("only Christians are my brothers") Bentley went himself one better with this comment:
“We need to remember we are dealing with human life and this is what God expects us to do,” Republican Gov. Robert Bentley said at a Montgomery rally organized by abortion opponents in Montgomery. The Legislature’s Republican presiding officers, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and House Speaker Mike Hubbard, also attended the rally.
This just begs some good journalist to ask the obvious question: Why does God want Bentley to shun the Medicaid expansion that will really protect human life?
The good news - public education advocates had reason to cheer:
Momentum on on the "Dump Common Core" effort has slowed. The Senate Education committee held a public hearing yesterday, but delayed a vote until next week. Note that's only a minor victory: look what happened with HB57!
Speaker Mike Hubbard hit a roadblock in the form of Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price, on the "Alabama Accountability Act:"
“The judge mentioned that not only did they violate their own rules, they also are in violation of the state constitution that says you can’t take a bill and introduce it as a bill and say it’s about one thing and substitute it with a different bill,” said James Anderson, an attorney for the plaintiff.
The judge’s order prevents the House Clerk, Jeff Woodard, from delivering the bill to Governor Bentley for signing.
Hubbard decried the so-called "judicial activism," which the GOP seems to define as "any decision we don't like." He's appealing to the Alabama Supreme Court.
And finally, Governor Bentley showed a tiny piece of common sense and vetoed the first "guns in schools" bill to hit his desk:
Gov. Robert Bentley today sent a note to Franklin County lawmakers saying he is vetoing a bill approved last month by the Legislature to allow teachers and community members there to be trained as reserve police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
In the letter, Bentley said he was concerned primarily with the training because the bill does not provide adequate training requirements.
“Failure to provide for specific, applicable training would create an unacceptable high-risk situation with the possibility of dire consequences, including the injury or death of a child, teacher, or a volunteer member (of the security force),” Bentley said.
If only Alabama legislators would learn from their Washington counterparts.
The Legislature has gun-related bills stacked a mile high this term, but I can find only one bill filed that deals with mental health. And guess what... it's also about guns. SB133, introduced by Senator Trip Pittman changes the reporting requirements for mental commitments and updates procedures for former mental patients who want to petition for reinstatement of their firearms rights.
Now, nobody thinks it's a good idea for mentally unbalanced people to be running around with firearms, but why isn't the state addressing the tremendous obstacles facing people (and their families) who need mental health care? Alabama has cut its mental health budget by 36% since 2009. The 2nd largest reduction in the US during that time.
From 2009 to 2012, Alabama cut its total general fund mental health budget from $100.3 million to $64.2 million, according to NAMI. Only South Carolina (39 percent) experienced a deeper percentage of cuts. [...] The NAMI report expressed alarm that many states, including Alabama, are also making deep cuts to Medicaid, "further cutting off vital services to people living with serious mental illness." Alabama's mental health budget was sustained with federal stimulus dollars from 2009 through 2011, but did not replace funding when the enhanced federal Medicaid match expired, NAMI said.
Last week, Don Williamson, director of the Alabama Department of Public Health, told the House Ways & Means General Fund Committee that he would explain the consequences of a $400 million cut to Medicaid. While some committee members lamented the "devastating" nature of the cuts, Rep. Greg Wren (HD75) framed the issue in more personal terms:
“If this agency goes forward and puts out any haunting emails about potential cuts to programs that could affect the lives of individuals, I will be personally offended, and I will look forward to talking with whoever is in control of Medicaid,” he said.
How about haunting TV images of a small boy held in a bunker or thousands gathered for the funeral for the man who tried to protect him? Was Rep. Wren "personally offended" by any of that?
Surely, it's it better to provide treatment before there's a tragedy instead of shaking our heads in sorrow after the fact.
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.
(I don't care for the diary title, but the issue is worth a discussion. - promoted by countrycat)
Okay, I've had some discussions here on the second amendment, and we've gone round and round. This time I don't want to make the libertarian case for the 2nd amendment, I want to link to a Daily Kos article that was written by a self-proclaimed liberal and makes the case for liberal support of the second amendment.
Liberals love the Constitution. Ask anyone on the street.
While liberals certainly do not argue for lawlessness, and will acknowledge the necessity of certain restrictions, it is generally understood that liberals fight to broadly interpret and expand our rights and to question the necessity and wisdom of any restrictions of them.
Liberals can quote legal precedent, news reports, and exhaustive studies. They can talk about the intentions of the Founders. They can argue at length against the tyranny of the government. And they will, almost without exception, conclude the necessity of respecting, and not restricting, civil liberties.
Except for one: the right to keep and bear arms.
When it comes to discussing the Second Amendment, liberals check rational thought at the door. They dismiss approximately 40% of American households that own one or more guns, and those who fight to protect the Second Amendment, as "gun nuts." They argue for greater restrictions. And they pursue these policies at the risk of alienating voters who might otherwise vote for Democrats.
And they do so in a way that is wholly inconsistent with their approach to all of our other civil liberties.
The author goes on to deal with the subject in depth. My purpose here is not to advance or oppose either side, my purpose is to get your comments and thoughts on this article.
If the author is wrong, WHY is he wrong? If he's right, how does that square with your own positions on second amendment rights?
I think this piece has a lot of truth in it, and I'd like to get opinions here.
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.
AL State Senator Bill Holtzclaw (SD-2) is taking issue with Albertville Representative Kerry Rich's (HD-26) plan to allow public school personnel to carry weapons. The GOP Senator makes a compelling case for why Rich's plan is, well, just plain stupid (my words, not his).
Holtzclaw is a retired Marine who served as a Primary Marksmanship Instructor. He does an excellent job dissecting flaws in Rich's reasoning.
For instance, Rich's plan requires school personnel to "undergo firearms training every six months." Holtzclaw notes that the requirement is inadequate:
Then there is the most important skill set - being an effective shooter - putting steel on target. This can only be acquired over time through regular trips to the firing range. When training Marines I shot several weapons in a single day and hundreds of rounds of ammunition a week – it was my primary job. Today, I’m good, but I’m not nearly as good as I once was. My point, it takes time and dedication to acquire and maintain this skill level. Should we expect teachers to maintain this skill level when armed in a school with our children?
Holtzclaw also notes a huge flaw in the proponents' plan to arm teachers and principals:the chaos factor. This is the first thing that occurred to me when putting guns in schools was first proposed as a "solution" to school safety.
I have a shotgun and a handgun and I target shoot. I can hit my target most of the time with the .38 and 95+% of the time with the shotgun. But before each shot, I have to take a second or two to check my stance, slow my breathing, and aim. At no time am I hiding behind furniture, checking my back for an assailant, dealing with panicked bystanders running in front of me, or afraid for my life.
Holtzclaw describes a similar situation:
We must include high stress training environments that go along with rapid decision making; is the shooter active or threatening, on the move or holed up with hostages? We must add the fog of war in our training - loud noises, confusion, gun flashes, confined spaces, people being shot, people running into the line of fire; you get the point. We should also include draw techniques from our concealed carry position. This will vary widely based on how the weapon is being carried, how crowded the room is, and where the shooter is encountered. Simply put, our teachers must train, train, train in realistic environments.
Um yes. The reason the military & police spend so much time and money on training is because it's crucial to their success and their safety. No matter how skilled you are as a range shooter, a live fire situation requiring a clear head and split-second decision making is a totally different matter.
Senator Holtzclaw is a trained Marine and he knows that. We can only hope that the rest of our legislators will listen to the experts and to the almost unanimous disapproval of school officials.
I don't agree with Holtzclaw on many issues, but he's right on this one and deserves an "attaboy" for trying to stop the stampede.
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?
A carry-guns-everywhere group wants the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve differing lower court decisions on whether it’s constitutionally permissible for states to ban weapons in houses of worship. That is basically the most American sentence anyone will write today, but GeorgiaCarry, the everyone-needs-guns group behind the court case, almost tops it with their argument for why a state law banning guns in religious institutions violates their rights:
In its filing with the Supreme Court, GeorgiaCarry maintains that the ban applying specifically to places of worship burdens “religiously motivated conduct by regulating how or what a worshipper can do with a weapon while he is worshipping.”
A church is the last place I would expect to find people carrying guns, but apparently that attitude marks me as hopelessly old fashioned.
Just a few days ago an acquaintance was describing how a man showed up inebriated in her church last Sunday. He sang the hymns too loud and hummed during the sermon, and also crossed himself (this is a Baptist congregation) although wasn't disruptive otherwise. Several men in the congregation, who either retrieved guns from their cars or actually had them on their persons -- "you know ____ always carries a gun to church because you just never know" -- escorted this fellow out of the sanctuary and called authorities to take him away or home or somewhere else.
After hearing this story, what I really wanted to ask was "What exactly is the name of your church again? Because I don't want to accidentally end up there some Sunday."
The idea that a church is the House of God where the troubled can find help and violence is never an appropriate response is apparently long gone. Seems more folks are putting their trust in Smith and Wesson for protection these days, instead of God.
Will we soon see a Gun Lovers Version of the Good Book to replace the King James Bible?
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD pistol is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD .38 shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.