mykeystrokes.com

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

“How To ‘Make It Stop'”: A New Assault Weapons Ban, Written For The Realities Of 2016

Almost four years ago in Newtown, the victims were mostly children – first graders. Last weekend, the victims were mostly LGBT adults at a night club. But the one thing they all had in common is that their deaths were the result of an assault weapon in the hands of a deranged killer. Today the Boston Globe – in a bold statement – says simply, “Make it Stop.”

In this country, the federal government limits duck hunters to weapons that carry only three shells, to protect the duck population. But you can buy an assault weapon in seven minutes and an unlimited number of bullets to fire with it. For every McDonald’s in the United States, there are four federally licensed gun dealers and an untold number of unregulated private dealers who can legally sell an unlimited number of guns out of their homes, backpacks, and car trunks without requiring a criminal background check or proof of ID.

These weren’t the guns, and this wasn’t the America, that the Founders foresaw. That is why we need a new assault weapons ban, written for the realities we face in 2016.

For those of us who were already convinced, the Globe also asserts that any action on an assault weapons ban is likely to begin in the Senate. They give us the names of 6 senators who stand in the way:

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)

Richard Burr (R-NC)

Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Rob Portman (R-OH)

Of course there are other (mostly Republican) senators who would vote against an assault weapons ban. It’s clear that these 6 were chosen by the Globe because they are the most likely to be either convinced to change their position or defeated. That’s where it starts.

I am reminded of a commitment President Obama made back in January in an op-ed titled: Guns Are Our Shared Responsibility.

Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen. I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.

All of us have a role to play — including gun owners. We need the vast majority of responsible gun owners who grieve with us after every mass shooting, who support common-sense gun safety and who feel that their views are not being properly represented, to stand with us and demand that leaders heed the voices of the people they are supposed to represent.

We can chose to remain cynical that anything will ever change, or make this a priority and keep fighting. I think about our historical heroes of reform. Some of them didn’t even live to see the fruits of their efforts – for example, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But that certainly didn’t stop them.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 16, 2016

June 18, 2016 Posted by | Assault Weapons Ban, Orlando Shootings, Senate Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“For Trump, Muslims Are Terrifying, and Guns Are Great”: But Guns Kill A Lot More People Than Muslims Do

If a presidential candidate really wanted to keep American families safe, which threat would he focus on more: a), the one that has resulted in over 150,000 Americans being killed over the last 15 years on U.S. soil; or b), the one that has killed fewer than 50 Americans?

I’m going to bet that most would say the threat that has taken over 150,000 American lives including thousands of children. That threat, of course, is gun violence. In 2015 alone, 13,286 Americans were killed by firearms and over 25,000 were wounded.

Donald Trump, however, doesn’t want to talk gun violence. But he loves to talk about the danger posed by Muslim terrorism, which literally has resulted in zero American deaths in 2016 on U.S. soil. (The San Bernardino terror attack was in 2015.) In contrast, gun violence in 2016 has already claimed over 5,000 lives, including 219 children under eleven years old.

In fact since January, 23 Americans have been killed by toddlers with a gun, yet none by Muslim extremists. Can we expect Trump to call for a “total and complete shutdown” on toddlers until “our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on” with them?!

Trump apparently cares less about keeping your family safe from the threat that’s killing over 30 Americans every single day—including today. Rather Trump wants to scare you about Muslims and then save you from this threat. The irony is Trump’s proposed Muslims ban is not the mark of a strong leader, but rather the frightened and irrational response of a very scared man.

A real leader would address the threat taking American lives on a daily basis, even if that proved politically challenging. But just last week we saw Trump do the opposite.

After the EgyptAir flight crashed early Thursday, Trump didn’t wait for the authorities to release the facts. Instead he chose to politicize the tragedy for political gain based on a hunch. So at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, even before French or Egyptian officials had made public comments about the possible cause of the plane crash, Trump tweeted his own conclusion: “Looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris. When will we get tough, smart and vigilant? Great hate and sickness!”

Later Thursday, Trump doubled down, saying if you disagreed that the plane crash was a terror attack then “you’re 100 percent wrong.” (Apparently Trump knows more than Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi, who stated Sunday morning, “There is no particular theory we can affirm right now,” adding, “this could take a long time but no one can hide these things.”)

And then Trump tripled down, issuing a statement reaffirming his proposal to ban over a billion Muslims because of the sins of a few: “Look at the carnage all over the world including the World Trade Center, San Bernardino, Paris, the USS Cole, Brussels and an unlimited number of other places.”

Now, in the same week when Trump was doing his best to scare Americans about Muslim terrorism, he spoke at ground zero for guns: the NRA convention. A leader concerned about saving American lives would’ve used this opportunity to at least raise proposals on how to reduce gun violence, such as calling for universal background checks to close what is known as the “gun show loophole.” In fact polls show that even NRA members strongly support this measure.

Or maybe he’d talk about the need for a federal law to monitor or even close down “bad apple” gun dealers that have been linked to a big chunk of guns used in crimes. Astoundingly, 5 percent of the gun dealers are linked to 90 percent of the guns used in crime, as noted by the Brady campaign.

No, of course Trump didn’t mention those things. Instead he served up a rambling speech that included the lie that Hillary Clinton wants to “ban every gun,” called for the elimination of gun free zones and joked that his sons own so many guns that “I get a little concerned.”

Stunningly, while Trump has no problem taking to Twitter to comment on almost any issue, for some reason he doesn’t want to tweet about the epidemic of gun violence. For example, there’s no mention in Trump’s Twitter feed of the 17 Americans killed during the week of April 14 in various mass shootings. That’s more killed than in the San Bernardino terror attack that left 14 dead, an attack that Trump has invoked countless times during this campaign.

Why hasn’t Trump taken a break from calling people “losers” to tweet condolences to the family of Yvonne Nelson, a 49-year-old Chicago city employee killed Friday by an errant bullet after she exited a Starbucks. How about a tweet concerning five-year-old Haley Moore, who was killed Saturday when a gun accidentally went off in her house? Or what about Amy Koegel, a 43-year-old Lexington, Kentucky woman killed over the weekend after being shot several times Friday by her boyfriend? (Over half of the women murdered with guns in the United States in 2011 were killed by intimate partners or family members.)

Are ISIS and Al Qaeda threats? Absolutely, and we must be vigilant in defending our nation from them. But if Trump truly cared about keeping your family safe, he would be raising the issue of gun violence at least as much as he talks Muslim terrorists.

The reality, however, is Trump only cares about what helps Trump and his campaign. So expect to hear Trump talk a lot more about Muslims and nothing about gun violence between now and November. Except maybe to regurgitate the NRA’s talking points after future mass shootings.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, May 27, 2016

May 29, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association, Terrorist Attacks | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“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

“A President Cries, And The NRA Trembles”: A President Taking On The Gun Lobby That Has Held Our Country Hostage

Two of my closest friends are also my steadfast movie companions. It is our habit, whenever possible, to sit in the same row of our favorite theater.

We’ve been doing this for years, but during our most recent excursion, one of them quietly asked during the previews, “When we sit here, do you ever think a man with a gun–.”

Her wife and I didn’t even let her finish her sentence as we started to nod.

“That we would be the first to be shot?” one of us asked.

“That we would die?” the other asked.

Oh, yeah, we all agreed. We think about that.

This is an absurd mental exercise on our part. As Plain Dealer Editor George Rodrigue III wrote in a recent column in my hometown of Cleveland, “If you lived in America last year you were less likely to be shot by an Islamic terrorist than by a toddler.” This is just as true about the likelihood of being gunned down by a homegrown terrorist shooting up a movie theater.

We know this, my friends and I, but there we were anyway, imagining the rain of bullets. I am embarrassed to admit to this, in part because such fear is so irrational but also because it suggests the right-wing fearmongering has had its way with me, a lifelong liberal. Only for a moment, mind you, but it’s the sort of lapse in rational thinking that can eat away at you if you aren’t vigilant. Before you know it, you’re parroting talking points from the National Rifle Association, which acts more like a mob syndicate than it does a lobbying organization.

Right after New Year’s, President Barack Obama signed 23 executive orders designed to address gun violence, including tightening loopholes on who can sell guns and who is allowed to buy them. As The New York Times duly noted, these are guidelines, not binding regulations, and the president will face “legal, political and logistical hurdles that are likely to blunt the effect of the plan he laid out.”

That’s a gentler way of saying the gun zealots and the Republicans who pander to them are acting as if the devil just galloped into town to lasso the whole bunch of them and drag them back to hell. Not a wholly unpleasant scenario to imagine, but it has nothing to do with the president’s plan.

Republican right-wing propagandist Ted Cruz said: “We don’t beat the bad guys by taking away our guns. We beat the bad guys by using our guns.”

If he weren’t serious, he’d be hilarious. It’s so easy to imagine all 5 feet 8 inches of him standing there in the dirt with spurs jingling as his hands hover over the Colts in the gun belt slung around his hip-huggers.

I can’t even.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that “rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, (President Obama) goes after the most law-abiding of citizens. His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.”

I am so tired of these men thinking we’re this stupid. Every credible poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans want gun reform. In October, for example, a CBS News/New York Times poll found that 92 percent of Americans favor background checks for all gun buyers. That included 87 percent of Republicans who were polled.

The NRA, preferring to channel the voices in its collective head, claimed otherwise this week. NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker, in a statement to Fox News: “President Obama failed to pass his anti-gun agenda (through) Congress because the majority of Americans oppose more gun-control. Now he is doing what he always does when he doesn’t get his way, which is defy the will of the people and issue an executive order.”

Hear that? That’s fear talking. For the first time in a long time, the NRA hears the American people pounding on a door it doesn’t want to open. So of course, it declined to participate in the president’s town hall on guns with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

At his White House news conference Tuesday, the president began to cry when he started talking about the victims of school shootings.

“Our right to peaceful assembly, that right was robbed from moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette,” he said. “Our unalienable right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara and from high schoolers at Columbine and from first-graders in Newtown — first-graders — and from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun. Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.”

Many right-wing pundits and lollygaggers on social media mocked the president for his tears. This disrespect outraged a lot of President Obama’s supporters, but it made me feel optimistic about gun reform for the first time in years.

Who mocks a man for showing the same hollowed-out grief most of us feel when we think of those babies being gunned down? Who makes fun of a president standing tall with the majority of his citizens?

Scared people, that’s who. The ones who are trembling in their boots because, finally, we have a president willing to take on the gun lobby that has held our country hostage for far too long.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist; The National Memo, January 7, 2016

January 8, 2016 Posted by | Domestic Terrorism, Fearmongering, Gun Lobby, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: