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“Trying To Pull A Page From The Trump Playbook”: Ted Cruz: Most Violent Criminals ‘Are Democrats’

A couple of months ago, Rush Limbaugh reflected on the series of school shootings in the United States, and the Republican host drew a partisan conclusion: “The people that are shooting up schools more than likely vote Democrat.”

There’s no evidence to suggest this is true, but accuracy obviously isn’t a priority. The goal with rhetoric like this is to distract from potential policy solutions while exploiting violence for partisan gain.

And in an unexpected twist, a Republican presidential hopeful yesterday made the implicit case that Limbaugh wasn’t ambitious enough. For Ted Cruz, it’s not just school shooters who are Democrats, but violent criminals in general who are members of the party he holds in contempt. Politico reported yesterday:

Ted Cruz on Monday equated Democrats with violent crime.

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, the Texas senator said that “the simple and undeniable fact is the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.”

In the same interview, the Texas Republican added, “There’s a reason why the Democrats for years have been viewed as soft on crime. The Democrats know convicted felons tend to vote Democrat.”

Media Matters posted the audio clip and transcript of the exchange.

The Cruz campaign hasn’t substantiated the claim, but again, the point of partisan vitriol isn’t to make substantive policy arguments. The presidential hopeful is being provocative for the sake of being provocative.

If that sounds like a certain New York developer leading in the Republican polls, it’s hard not to wonder if Cruz is deliberately trying to pull a page from the Donald Trump playbook. Note, for example, that this latest rhetoric came just a day after his bizarre claims about the Colorado Springs mass shooting.

As for whether felons actually vote Democratic, Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum had a good piece noting that most felons aren’t even registered, though the argument itself serves no real purpose.

[A]nyone can play this game. Just find some demographic group that tends to vote for Party X, and then find some bad thing also associated with that group. In this case, poor people tend to vote for Democrats, and felons tend to be poor. Bingo. Most felons are Democrats.

Or this: rich people tend to vote for Republicans, and income-tax cheats tend to be rich. So most income-tax cheats are Republicans.

Or this: Middle-aged men tend to vote for Republicans, and embezzlers tend to be middle-aged men. So most embezzlers are Republicans.

We could do this all day long, but what’s the point?

Dear Cruz campaign,that need not be a rhetorical question.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 1, 2015

December 2, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Mass Shootings, Ted Cruz | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“HO, HO, NO!: The NRA’s Twisted List For Santa

You might have heard that the U.S. Senate last week finally voted to confirm the president’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy.

You also might have wondered what all the fuss was about. The vote on America’s top doctor was held up for nearly a year, thanks to a campaign by the National Rifle Association. Dr. Murthy was endorsed by the medical community, but the NRA’s lobbying machine turned his nomination into a political battle. All because Murthy believes that gun violence, which kills an average of 86 Americans every day, is a public health issue.

For most of us, acknowledging that America has a gun violence problem is stating a fact. For the NRA’s leadership, it’s heresy.

The gun lobby’s goal is to expand its customer base—and boost gunmakers’ bottom lines, no matter the risk to public safety. So a new surgeon general committed to reducing gun violence isn’t what the gun lobby wanted for Christmas.

The NRA’s wish list looks more like this:

• Guns for felons. The NRA has fought for the rights of felons to buy and own firearms. That means successfully restoring gun rights to convicted murderers, robbers, rapists, and people guilty of transferring explosives to international terrorists.

• Guns for terror suspects. The NRA has opposed efforts to block terror suspects from buying guns. Today the FBI can stop terror suspects from boarding a plane, but not from purchasing firearms.

• Guns for domestic abusers. The NRA objects to restraining orders that require domestic abusers to give up their guns. This year, six states—including Scott Walker’s Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal’s Louisiana—defied the gun lobby and enacted laws that will help keep guns out of the hands of abusers.

• Guns for the mentally ill. The NRA opposed a new California law that will help prevent gun deaths, homicides and suicides both. Police and family members now can present evidence to a judge, who can order temporary custody of a mentally ill person’s guns for a brief, emergency period.

• Gun gag orders. The NRA objects to doctors asking patients basic questions about gun ownership. For example, before Congress repealed it in 2012, an NRA-authored gag order barred doctors and military officers from talking about guns with service members at risk of suicide.

• Guns on campus. The NRA has pushed for “campus carry” laws—despite near unanimous opposition from college presidents, law enforcement, and parents—and for arming educators in K-12 schools.

• Guns in bars. The NRA has pushed to allow guns in bars—despite the fact that 40 percent of people convicted of homicide had been drinking alcohol at the time of their offense.

Guns in restaurants and grocery stores. The NRA supports the open carry of guns in cafes, burrito shops, and the produce aisle. They reiterated their position in June, after a staffer first made the mistake of calling open carry demonstrations “weird” and “scary.”

• Gun lawsuits. The NRA wants the ability to sue local officials for passing laws that protect public safety. They push for so-called “preemption” bills in statehouses—which allow them to file expensive lawsuits against towns, cities, and even mayors and city commissioners.

• Guns for everyone, no questions asked. The NRA opposed Washington State’s gun-sale background checks ballot measure this year. The measure passed with 59 percent of the vote. Like background check laws across the country, it will help keep guns out of dangerous hands, reduce gun crime, and save lives.

That’s the gun lobby’s wish list for America—more guns for everyone, everywhere, anytime.

The new surgeon general certainly has his work cut out for him. But in 2014, numerous states passed common-sense public safety laws, showing that the momentum for gun safety is building. And just like Dr. Murthy’s confirmation, that’s bad news for the NRA.

 

By: John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety; The Daily Beast, December 23, 2014

December 24, 2014 Posted by | Gun Lobby, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Dangers To Everyone”: A Gun-Carrying GOP Congressman Is Outraged A Man With A Concealed Gun Got Near Obama

Stipulating that none of the Secret Service lapses, revealed in the press over the past week, should’ve happened in the first place, the only one that strikes me as truly inexplicable is the revelation that USSS allowed an armed felon into an elevator with President Obama at the Centers for Disease Control, and that they didn’t know he was armed.

The two other big stories aren’t as terrifying, at least to me. Inexcusable, maybe, but explicable. In the case of the fence jumper, I get why people on a security detail might let their guard down when the people they’re charged with protecting are off site. And the inconvenient truth is that the Secret Service can’t stop every determined person with a sniper rifle from taking shots at the White House from a number of different locations in the city. Maybe they bungled the response, but the rifle shots themselves were probably not preventable.

The armed felon in the elevator represents a different level of failure. There appears to be widespread recognition of this fact in both the media and in Congress. That’s good, and important, but it’d be nicer still if elected gun enthusiasts thought through the logical implications of their completely warranted outrage.

Consider the following exchange from a Tuesday oversight hearing on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who heads a House subcommittee that oversees the Secret Service, first heard of the breakdown from a whistleblower. The Washington Post confirmed details of the event with other people familiar with the agency’s review.

“You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president, and they never did a background check,” Chaffetz said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family. “

Chaffetz added: “His life was in danger. This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”

This is all true, but it could use a little further unpacking. Chaffetz isn’t a gun grabber. He’s spoken openly about the fact that he carries a concealed weapon when he’s in his Utah district. He cosponsors legislation that would erode state concealed carry restrictions by requiring those states to honor concealed carry permits from other states, including states with weaker permitting processes. (This would presumably apply to Washington, D.C., now, too.) And yet Chaffetz also joins the overwhelming consensus that Obama shouldn’t have been on an elevator with a person carrying a concealed weapon because he fully grasps that people carrying concealed weapons can be incredibly dangerous.

Chaffetz is appalled that USSS allowed a person to carry a concealed handgun around the president without conducting a background check, but supports legislation to make it significantly easier for people—many of whom come into lawful possession of firearms without undergoing background checks—to carry concealed weapons around you and me.

This isn’t to give USSS a pass. They should’ve been aware of every armed person on the premises in advance of the visit, and followed protocol to keep them or their guns away from the president. But the man on the elevator was a security contractor at CDC. His employer issued him that gun. His felony convictions only underscore the dangers—to everyone, not just the president—of combining easy access to firearms with lax carry laws. But that’s more or less the beau ideal for the gun lobby, gun enthusiasts, many Democrats, and the entire Republican party.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, October 1, 2014

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Background Checks, Concealed Weapons, Secret Service | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Guns In Bars, What Could Go Wrong?”: Let’s Hope It Makes Southern White Guys Feel Manlier

Georgia’s new law allows them everywhere—in libraries, at school—and permits felons to claim a Stand Your Ground defense. Let’s hope it makes Southern white guys feel manlier, at least.

To paraphrase a former National Rifle Association president, “You finally did it! You maniacs!”

That’s right, on Wednesday, in a fit of perfectly logical preparation for Sherman’s next march to the sea, Peach State Gov. Nathan Deal went ahead and signed a gun bill. Not just any gun bill, mind you, but one with so much stupid in it, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been renamed Bieber or Gohmert.

We discussed this “guns everywhere” and “felons have the right to shoot you” bill in this space only last month, but now that it’s law in the land of cottonold times they are not forgotten—perhaps it’s time for a refresher course.

The legislation will allow guns in places of worship, sporting events, bars, and yes, schools. Clearly they’ve learned nothing since Newtown, or since any of the approximately 50 school shootingsmore than three a month—in the last 17 months. Of course those attacks happened because those schools were “gun-free zones.” We can’t go blaming the easy access to guns for any yahoo with a Ted Cruz tattoo, which is clearly why we’re seeing the same epidemic of school shootings in, say, the Netherlands or Australia.

It’s the logic that gave us such successful past plans as putting more drunk drivers on the highways to cut down on accidents or electing George W. Bush to improve on the Clinton years.

You gotta give Gov. Deal and the state Legislature some credit, though. It was a nice touch, allowing Georgians to bring guns into libraries, too, which is where I think they’re keeping armored cars full of money these days in the Empire State of the South. Also, lord knows when you might not be able to reach that book on Tupperware on the top shelf—but hell, if you can load it full of enough lead, it may well fall down of its own accord.

Problem solved!

As a reminder, the Georgia bill also gives criminals—who are barred by law from possessing guns but still allowed easy access to them on the secondary market by bought-off legislators—to claim a Stand Your Ground defense in court.

Because why shouldn’t a portly, addle-brained white guy wearing an “I’m with stupid” T-shirt who likes to hit his wife not be able to buy a firearm at a gun show with no questions asked? Also, why shouldn’t he or she (but mostly he) be able to shoot you because he was “scared” you looked like you were in the “wrong” neighborhood?

That, of course, is what the new law is really about. It allows Southern white guys to “feel so manly, when armed,”superior to “others” who won’t be able to use Stand Your Ground as a defense and aren’t afraid to crawl out from under their bed without an AR-15 like Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s foaming mouthpiece and executive vice president. (Isn’t he a little too French to be allowed to carry? Just sayin’.)

Based on a bastardized version of the Second Amendment, Georgia’s new law also allows a modern industrialized society to become a shooting gallery—one that only serves to enrich American arms dealers who not only don’t care a whit about American bloodshed but welcome it as part of their business model. There’s a word for that. It rhymes with “hater.”

In a recent op-ed in The Washington Post, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens laid out what the Second Amendment meant to historians and jurists who use common sense and intellect to arrive at their findings.

Laws like the one in Georgia have zero to do with the Second Amendment, Stevens wrote, unless you think the next Whiskey Rebellion or Battle of Lake Erie is likely to commence at a preschool in Athens or spring forth from a garden party in Savannah.

But the Hollywood Hillbillies sure are gonna be stoked when they return home during the offseason from the Polanski-esque plot twists that must define their reality show.

Otherwise, here’s what we’re talking about in layman’s terms. This bill, passed by greedy, slack-jawed Georgia legislators and signed by the Right as rain Mr. Deal, isn’t just about guns but the same toxic brew of anarchy, resentment, and white privilege that led Justice Antonin Scalia to encourage sedition in between attacks on voting rights and affirmative action. That leads Cliven Bundy, the taker occupying public land in Nevada—and primo space on the wall of Sean Hannitys man-cave—to threaten violence against the federal government unless he gets, as Mitt Romney once put it—totally coincidentally!—to the NAACP, “free stuff.”

It doesn’t matter to extremist officeholders in Georgia that the vast majority of Georgians and every law enforcement organization oppose this crazy bill, much as it doesn’t matter to the rodeo clown, right-wing Republicans trying to burn down Congress what most of us around the country want them to do. It also doesn’t matter that this legislation flies in the face of all public health statistics, common sense, and modernity. Or that more people will now die.

In fact, that’s the point.

They have a war to fight that didn’t end at The Appomattox Courthouse. And it seems to be getting less civil all the time.

 

By: Cliff Schecter, The Daily Beast, April 24, 2014

April 25, 2014 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Georgia’s ‘Guns Everywhere’ Bill”: The Most Insane And Extreme Gun Bill In America Expands “Stand Your Ground” Law

Just a few minutes ago, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed sweeping new gun legislation into law, and while it’s technically the “Safe Carry Protection Act,” NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez noted that many have labeled it the “Guns Everywhere Bill.”

One of the most permissive state gun laws in the nation, it will allow licensed owners to carry firearms into more public places than at any time in the past century, including bars and government buildings that don’t have security checkpoints.

The law also authorizes school districts to appoint staffers to carry firearms. It allows churches to “opt-in” if they want to allow weapons. Bars could already “opt-in” to allow weapons, but under the new law they must opt out if they want to bar weapons. Permit-holders who accidentally bring a gun to an airport security checkpoint will now be allowed to pick up their weapon and leave with no criminal penalty. (At Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a record 111 guns were found at TSA screening areas last year.)

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group co-founded by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, has called the legislation “the most extreme gun bill in America.”

Despite the opposition of gun-safety reformers and Georgia law enforcement, the bill was passed with relative ease. The governor’s Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jason Carter, voted for it, too, though he made it slightly less extreme, helping eliminate some provisions, including a measure allowing guns on college campuses.

Regardless, the new state law, which takes effect in July, also expands on Georgia’s “stand your ground” policy by “protecting convicted felons who kill using illegal guns.”

Frank Rotondo, the executive director of Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, told The Guardian, “One of the biggest concerns is it expands stand-your-ground. The way it’s written, a felon who is not permitted to have a weapon could use a weapon in defense of his or her home and not be charged for having the weapon.”

Oddly enough, a similar bill recently passed the Arizona legislature, though it met a different fate.

In a bit of a surprise, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed two pro-gun bills yesterday, including a proposal to expand guns in public buildings.

One bill would allow gun owners to bring weapons into public buildings or events. A summary of the bill says that it would allow gun owners to keep their firearms unless the building had security guards, metal detectors and storage for the weapons. Many Arizona public buildings do not have the first two, according to local reports. […]

The other bill would have limited local governments from enacting gun control statutes that were stricter than state law and imposed a fine up to $5,000 on any local officials who administered such a statute, according to a summary. Those officials would also be at risk of losing their job.

For all of Brewer’s conservatism, she occasionally surprises me.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, April 23, 2014

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Gun Violence, Guns | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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