mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Gun Debate Reclaims Center Stage In Democratic Race”: Granting Gun Manufacturers Immunity From Lawsuits

The bulk of the attention surrounding Bernie Sanders’ interview with the New York Daily News this week focused on the senator struggling at times with policy details. In response to a variety of questions, the Vermont independent gave responses such as, “It’s something I have not studied”; “I don’t know the answer to that”; and “I haven’t thought about it a whole lot.”

But another area of contention surrounds a subject Sanders understands perfectly well.

Towards the end of the interview, the Daily News editors noted, “There’s a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?” Sanders, seeking clarification, said, “Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?”

Told that it was the question, he replied, “No, I don’t.”

As Politico reported, this isn’t sitting well with some of the lawsuit’s Democratic supporters.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and Gov. Dannel Malloy attacked Bernie Sanders on Tuesday for stating that shooting victims should not be able to sue gun manufacturers, an issue that has dogged the Vermont senator throughout his presidential run.

“I don’t know why our party would nominate someone that’s squishy on the issue of guns, this is a very personal issue for those of us that represent Sandy Hook,” Murphy, who is a supporter of Hillary Clinton, said in an interview with POLITICO. “The idea that Sandy Hook families should be completely barred from court is really backwards and unfair.”

Keep in mind that Connecticut’s Democratic presidential primary is April 26, just a week after New York’s. The state’s governor and both of its U.S. senators have already formally endorsed Clinton.

It’s important to note that, in Monday’s interview, Sanders elaborated on his perspective on this issue. After expressing his opposition to lawsuits targeting gun manufacturers, the senator circled back to add some specificity to his position: “In the same sense that if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill him [gestures to someone in room]…. Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused? [Shakes head no.] But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people. So if somebody walks in and says, ‘I’d like 10,000 rounds of ammunition,’ you know, well, you might be suspicious about that. So I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sell me a legal product.”

In other words, the senator’s position has some nuance, even if it’s one of the few issues in which Sanders faces criticism from the left.

Complicating matters further, Paul Waldman explained yesterday that Sanders’ previous approach to the issue points to some relevant shifts.

It gets complicated because of Sanders’ past opposition to gun laws. He opposed the Brady Law, and supported the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a 2005 law that granted gun manufacturers and sellers sweeping immunity from all kinds of lawsuits (Clinton voted against it). He has justified that vote by saying that he wouldn’t want to see “mom and pop” gun stores sued when a gun they sell gets used in a crime, but the truth is that the bill went way beyond that. […]

And here’s what’s really strange: Sanders continues to defend his vote for the PLCAA, even though he recently signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill that would repeal it.

The result is a picture that’s a little murky. As the Democratic race continues, it’s an issue that appears ripe for a real, substantive debate.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 7, 2016

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Gun Manufacturers, Mass Shootings, Sandy Hook | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Moment Was Arresting”: President Obama’s Tear A Starkly Human Thing

He didn’t bawl.

His voice only roughened for a moment and he dabbed at a couple tears that straggled down his cheek. As displays of emotion go, it wasn’t all that much. But it was, of course, more than enough.

Inevitably, President Obama’s tears became the takeaway from last week’s White House speech on gun violence. They came as he recalled the 2012 massacre of six educators and 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“Every time I think about those kids,” said the president, tears shining on his cheek, “it gets me mad.”

One grows used to thinking of politics as a craft practiced mostly by people who are only technically human. One grows used to their cynical manipulations and insincere triangulations, to their poll-tested smiles, and focus-grouped quips. Which is why this moment was arresting. The president wept and it was a starkly human thing.

Or at least, that’s surely how most of us saw it. It is a sign of how angry and hateful our politics have become that some conservatives refused to accept the moment at face value.

“I would check that podium for a raw onion,” sneered Andrea Tantaros of Fox “News.”

“He’s putting something in his eyes to create the fascist tears,” wrote John Nolte of Breitbart.

“(hashtag)Crocodile Tears” tweeted actor James Woods.

One hardly knows how to respond. There isn’t even anger. There is only embarrassment for them, only amazement that some people are so bad at being, well … people.

But the sense of disconnectedness, of the action being wholly at odds with some people’s interpretation thereof, went far beyond the president’s tears. To compare what Obama actually said as he seeks to rein in the nation’s runaway gun violence with the way it was afterward construed by his political opposites is to feel as if one has fallen down the rabbit hole into an alternate reality where people drink trees and smell music and the idea that words have fixed meaning is about as real as the Tooth Fairy.

“I believe in the Second Amendment … that guarantees the right to bear arms,” said the president.

Which House Speaker Paul Ryan interpreted as: “From day one, the president has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding.”

Obama took a handful of modest actions, including: an executive order clarifying that anyone who makes a living selling guns is required to conduct background checks on buyers; hiring more personnel to process background checks; pushing for improved gun safety technology and tracking of stolen firearms.

Which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump processed as: “Pretty soon, you won’t be able to get guns.”

One nation, two realities, one of them populated by the NRA and its GOP henchmen, by extremists who don’t just own guns or like guns, but who sanctify and worship guns and so regard even the most humble effort to check their destructive power as blasphemy against their god.

In the other reality live the rest of us, heartsick and frustrated that our country has come to this: Mass shootings are commonplace and we cannot muster the political will to do anything about it. So nothing happens; nothing changes. Bullets fly, the gun lobby prattles on, and in an endless loop, we mourn mothers, fathers, sisters and sons in San Bernardino, Aurora, Ft. Hood, Tucson, Charleston and, yes, Newtown, where 20 first-graders — little children — were gunned down, slaughtered.

And people are disbelieving that the president cried? It is not amazing that someone might ponder this carnage and want to weep. No, what’s amazing is that some of us ponder it and do not.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, January 10, 2016

January 12, 2016 Posted by | Gun Deaths, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association, Sandy Hook, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Congressional Inaction And Cowardice”: President Obama, Wiping Away Tears, Announces Executive Actions On Guns

On the issue of guns, President Obama has showed anger before. He’s made his sorrow visible, his frustration. But Tuesday, in his address to the nation, he showed us his tears.

In a speech outlining executive actions his administration plans to take in an effort to curb gun violence, many of which he has been trying to implement for years, he stressed the common sense of his directives, and urged Americans to stand up to those who oppose his efforts.

He invoked many of the incidences of gun violence that had compelled him to action, beginning with Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords’s shooting five years ago, on Jan. 8, 2011 in Tucson, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School – which inspired a bill that would have expanded background checks, but failed because of fierce Republican opposition – and then recited some of the mass shootings that have occurred since he took office in 2009, including Charleston, South Carolina; San Bernardino and Santa Barbara, California; Aurora, Colorado; Fort Hood, Texas; Binghamton, New York; the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.; and Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

At times, he was greeted with sighs of assent, and later, standing ovations, as when he called out the NRA: “The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now. But they cannot hold America hostage.”

The president said he wondered how the issue had become politicized, quoting Republican standard-bearers John McCain, George W. Bush, and the grand pooh-bah of them all, Ronald Reagan, on their sensible stances on guns.

He compared the effort to reduce gun deaths – the majority of which are suicides – to past struggles for civil rights, whether it was women winning the right to vote, the emancipation of black Americans, or LGBT rights; in doing so, he urged Americans not to give in to cynicism and defeat, or to grow dispirited by the routine nature of these tragedies, a routine which extends even to his now predictably outraged post-shooting speeches. “Just because it’s hard is no reason not to try,” he said, allowing that the effort will not succeed within his presidency nor during the current Congress.

Despite the tears, his speech was filled with personal anecdotes and chuckles, reminding Americans that he had taught constitutional law so that he was very familiar with the Second Amendment — to which he reiterated his steadfast commitment. Radical gun owners and the NRA have created a culture that elevates the Second Amendment such that it overtakes other rights Americans have, he said, including the right to assemble peaceably, the right to worship freely, and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

But the crux of his speech rested on the initiatives his administration will take to strengthen and clarify existing laws on gun possession:

All gun sellers must get a license and submit purchasers to background checks. The distribution channel will no longer matter. Background checks would expand to buyers who try to hide behind trusts, or purchase online, and the actual mechanisms of the checks would be streamlined.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents will be empowered to crack down on stolen guns and lost weapons. The 2017 budget will allow for allow for 200 new hires at the ATF Bureau to enforce gun laws.

A proposed investment of $500 million to expand access to mental health across the country. This was perhaps the least detailed of his actions, but he called on politicians to back up their rhetoric on blaming mental health for mass shootings by supporting this policy: “For those in Congress who so often rush to blame mental illness for mass shootings as a way of avoiding action on guns, here’s your chance to support these efforts. Put your money where your mouth is,” he said. Obama also pledged to remove barriers between federal record keeping on mental health issues and background checks, which might have prevented the Charleston, AuroraVirginia Tech, and Tucson assailants from obtaining guns.

He called on manufacturers to ramp up the deployment of safety technology, which has existed for years but due to political pressure and strange laws has stalled before being allowed to come to market. Using common-sense comparisons with everyday smartphone technology – “If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?” – he said that he would work with the private sector to make sure guns aren’t accidentally discharged by children, thereby reducing accidental deaths.

President Obama noted that we have regulation, safety procedures, and public health research for medicines, cars, and even toys, but that political inaction and cowardice have maligned and sometimes actively prevented public health professionals from studying and implementing reforms that could reduce gun deaths. On the whole, states that have stricter gun measures have fewer deaths, but those that that have weakened regulations, like Missouri, have seen gun deaths rise above national levels.

“Maybe we can’t save everybody, but we could save some,” he pleaded.

Invoking Martin Luther King, Jr., twice, he asked Americans to “feel ‘the fierce urgency of now’” and “find the courage” to vote and mobilize on this issue. He ended with the story of Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee, who died while shielding three girls who were caught in an accidental crossfire.

Republican presidential candidates predictably denounced Obama and his reforms, with Sen. Ted Cruz calling them “illegal and unconstitutional” and House Speaker Paul Ryan saying that without a doubt Obama’s actions will be challenged in court.

Anticipating a frequent anti-gun-control canard, the president clarified: “Contrary to the claims of what some gun rights proponents have suggested, this hasn’t been the first step in some slippery slope to mass confiscation… This is not a plot to take away everyone’s guns.”

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesperson, said Tuesday afternoon that the president was “well within his legal right” to make these reforms and that the White House worked with the Department of Justice to coordinate these executive actions.

The president has said that Dec. 14, 2012, the day of the Sandy Hook shooting, was the worst day of his presidency, and that the failure to pass gun-control legislation in its wake was one of his most stinging defeats.

“Every time I think about these kids,” he said, referring to the 20 first-graders between the ages of 6 and 7 who were murdered, “it makes me mad.”

 

By: Stephanie Schwartz, The National Memo, January 5, 2016

January 6, 2016 Posted by | Background Checks, Congress, Executive Orders, Gun Violence, Sandy Hook | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“What Will We Do After The Next Slaughter?: Shut Up About San Bernardino, Because There’s Nothing Left To Say

The right and the left have both issued verdicts on what not to say after a mass shooting.

The right ridicules calls for gun-safety measures. The left mocks what it perceives to be hollow nostrums about “thoughts and prayers.” I think they’re both right. I think it’s time to say nothing at all.

I realized this when I discovered the most trenchant thing I’d read about San Bernardinonoting that Sandy Hook didn’t begin a national conversation about guns so much as end it—was actually written about the murders at the Emanuel AME Church.

There is no way to overdramatize the speed with which San Bernardino followed Colorado Springs; it happened too fast for hyperbole. There wasn’t even time for an idea to be proposed, much less fail. Columns written about Richard Dear are still being published even as we hunt for answers about the massacre farther west.

Sure, the particular gruesomeness of this crime—at a center for the disabled—seems like it might be enough to…what? What about this crime will shove the graceless leviathan of our national consciousness from the sludge-gummed track we’ve developed to deal with what should be unspeakable, unthinkable, at very fucking least rare?

In the hours after the California killings, heavy traffic crashed a mass shooter database. Which is more horrifying—that so many people needed the information, or that there was so much information to be had?

We have reached the point where mass shootings have a “news consumer handbook,” where the most helpful journalistic tool in covering a killing isn’t local sources so much as search-and-replace: Newsweek reporter Polly Mosendz keeps a pre-written mass shooter story fresh in her text editing files. “A mass shooting has been reported at TK, where TK people are believed to be dead and TK more are injured, according to TK police department,” it says. “The gunman has/hasn’t been apprehended.”

So I propose a columnist strike, a hot take moratorium, a sound-bite freeze. The only response that could possibly match this gut-punching tragedy isn’t made up of words but silence.

I envision blank blog posts, empty sets, magazine pages slick and white from edge to edge. I want to open up The Washington Post or The New York Times and find the grainy gray of naked newspaper stock in place of columnists’ prose.

Let’s fill Twitter with dead space and leave Facebook with a total absence of “likes.”

Let the cable talking heads mute themselves.

Hear in that noiselessness the echo all the prayers and the pleas, all the policy proposals and screeds that were written about the last mass shooting, and the one before that and the one before the one before that. Hear the thundering clap of absolute inaction in Congress, and the crazed, giddy titter of those loosening gun laws state by state. Hear the voices that don’t speak, that can’t, the conversations some families will never get to have.

What I want is not a “national moment of silence,” nor really a prayer. I don’t wish to summon contemplation or reflection but choking sobs and knotted throats. I want to share with the world the wordless groan that is the only prayer the grieving have.

I want a strike, a shutdown, a refusal to move. Not just inaction as a pause—rather, stillness as an action in itself.

I don’t think what I want to happen actually can happen, not in this world. The media machine inexorably churns and, less reflexively, our mutual ache and mourning demands recognition on screens and off.

Then again, our suspension of discussion doesn’t have to last forever. I don’t want to create a vacuum so much as create awareness about how much has already been said.

There’s nothing left to say, so let’s just not say it.

I write this, my fingers cold and my heart broken and hesitating before I press “send.” If I publish this column now, if I let this idea into the world after this slaughter…Why, then, what will we do after the next?

 

By: Ana Marie Cox, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Congress, Mass Shootings, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: