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“Rubio Comes Up Short On Gun Control”: Thinking Just Like Mitt Romney Is How He’s Going To End Up

Marco Rubio showed his true yellow colors last week, joining 45 other cowards to defeat Senate legislation designed to stop criminals from buying firearms online and at gun shows.

The vote was nauseating. So is Rubio.

A few days earlier, he’d admitted to Fox News that he hadn’t read the complete bill that would expand federal background checks of gun buyers, but he was opposing it anyway.

Other pertinent materials that Rubio obviously didn’t read included a recent New York Times sampling of nutjobs, convicted criminals and even one fugitive who purchased assault rifles and other weapons over the Internet.

On NBC, Rubio repeated the NRA lie that background checks don’t work.

The truth: Since 1998, the National Instant Background Check System has blocked more than two million gun purchases by felons and others who are prohibited from owning firearms.

It’s unknown how many of them later went to gun shows and purchased AK-47s because, in most states, gun-show vendors aren’t required to keep detailed sales records. That’s one loophole that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey were trying to fix.

The Manchin-Toomey bill was supported by a huge majority of Americans — between 86 and 90 percent, depending on the poll — but not by the junior senator from Florida, the one who thinks he’s going to be the nation’s next president.

Listen to what he said on television:

“The fact of the matter is, we have a violence problem in the United States. Guns are what people use, but violence is our problem.”

Really? Stop the presses!

In fact, Rubio doesn’t have much to say about the causes and costs of violence in American culture. Currently there’s no mention of this tragic problem on his official website.

What you’ll find there is multiple “news” items about his role in immigration reform. He believes this is the issue that will make him the Republican frontrunner and help put him in the White House.

That’s why he appeared on seven national talk shows last Sunday — to promote new immigration legislation. When questioned about the upcoming gun bills, Rubio faithfully recited his NRA scripture.

And when it came time to decide on Wednesday, with heartsick families of the murdered Newtown children watching from the Senate gallery, Rubio stood with the cowards and pimps for the gun-manufacturing lobby.

He voted no to universal background checks. No to a ban on assault rifles. No to modestly limiting the number of bullets in magazine clips.

To what did the bold new face of the Republican Party say yes?

An NRA-backed proposal that would have allowed persons with concealed-weapons permits in one state to carry their weapons anywhere in the country. Top law enforcement officials thought this was an extremely poor idea, and it was defeated.

Most of the senators who voted against expanding background checks on gun buyers did so out of fear. They come from conservative, mostly rural states, where a flood of NRA money and advertising could boost their opponents in the next election.

Cowering, they acted out of political self-preservation.

Rubio has no such alibi. He doesn’t need the NRA to get re-elected in Florida, a state of 18 million residents and rapid urbanization.

The difference between him and the other 45 cowards is that Rubio isn’t thinking about going back to the Senate. He’s thinking about moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

He’s thinking about those electoral votes in the West and the Deep South. He’s thinking about the Iowa primary.

In other words, he’s thinking just like Mitt Romney. And that’s how he’s going to end up — losing women voters, losing minority voters, losing the big cities and losing the election. That’s assuming he gets the GOP nomination.

Rubio had an opportunity to enter that Senate chamber and do something that almost all Americans believe is right and sensible for this country.

Something that would have set him apart from his gutless colleagues.

Instead he revealed himself as one more cynical slave to the gun makers’ lobby. His yellow vote won’t be forgotten in 2016.

It should be made to haunt him.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, The National Memo. April 23, 2013

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Gun Control, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Impervious To Logic”: Congress Betrays Our Dwindling Faith

The way to stay sane in this city is never to expect too much.

So the soothing mantras of the capital involve admonitions about the art of the possible, the perfect and the good, the zen of baby steps.

Incremental, incremental, incremental.

Still, it is hard to remain calm in the face of the Senate’s failure — its failure as the parents of children murdered in Newtown, Conn., looked on from the gallery — to pass the most modest of measures to curb gun violence.

We tend to speak easily here of how Washington is broken and gridlocked.

But those of us whose day jobs sit at the intersection of politics and public policy don’t completely buy it. We retain ragged shreds of faith that Washington, despite its maddening imperfections, remains capable of rising to at least some occasions.

Except on Wednesday, it didn’t, as the Senate fell six votes short of the 60 required to expand background checks for gun buyers. It is an indication of the perennially warped politics of guns that politicians can more safely support same-sex marriage than background checks. Indeed, what passed Congress in 1994 — an assault weapons ban and strict limits on magazine sizes — is now unthinkable.

The background-check measure proposed by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey is — I’ll refrain from the past tense, because Wednesday’s loss was not the final chapter — so sensible, so pared-down, that the stronger argument against it is that it failed to go far enough, not that it ran roughshod over the Second Amendment.

To review: Under current law, individuals who want to buy guns from licensed dealers must pass background checks. Manchin-Toomey would expand that requirement to in-state gun sales over the Internet (interstate sales are already covered, because the guns can be sent only to licensed dealers for transfer to the buyer), to gun shows and to other commercial transactions.

It would not apply to sales or transfers between family members and friends — notwithstanding the National Rifle Association’s claim that it would “criminalize the private transfer of firearms by honest citizens, requiring lifelong friends, neighbors and some family members to get federal government permission to exercise a fundamental right or face prosecution.”

As Manchin said on the Senate floor, “That is simply a lie. . . . You can loan your hunting rifle to your buddy without any new restrictions. . . .You can give or sell a gun to your brother or your sister, your cousin, your uncle, your co-worker without a background check. You can post a gun for sale on the cork bulletin board at your workplace or on your church bulletin board without a background check.”

Another criticism of the measure — that it “would put us inexorably on the path to a national gun registry,” as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) put it — is even less moored to reality. A national registry is banned under existing law; Manchin-Toomey would layer on a 15-year felony sentence for anyone who tries to implement one.

That leaves an array of other arguments against the measure that fail the simplest tests of logic.

Felons and others ineligible to buy weapons aren’t being prosecuted under the current system. Also, the existing system fails to list numerous individ­uals already prohibited from having guns. Okay, prosecute the ineligible would-be buyers and fix the list.

Expanded background checks wouldn’t have prevented the Newtown shootings. Okay, but expanded checks might prevent another killer. No single change is going to prevent every episode of gun violence.

Expanded checks would impose a burden on law-abiding citizens without preventing criminals from obtaining guns. Under the existing system, more than 2 million people have been barred from buying guns. Did some of them go on to obtain weapons illegally? Of course. But others were deterred — and in any event the expanded checks would narrow the currently huge loophole that lets felons buy guns without background checks. That some criminals will always break some laws is not an argument against having those laws in the first place.

The depressing aspect of Wednesday’s vote is that the change was so small and the senators so seemingly impervious to logic.

Wednesday’s vote will not end the gun debate. After nearly two decades in which Democrats barely dared whisper about gun violence, the notion of new restrictions has become safe again — to broach, if not to enact. In the aftermath of Newtown, this time was different.

It just wasn’t different enough.

 

By: Ruth Marcus, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 18, 2013

April 20, 2013 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Violence | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Caving To Fear”: The Senate Fails America

For 45 senators, the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a forgotten tragedy. The toll of 270 Americans who are shot every day is not a problem requiring action. The easy access to guns on the Internet, and the inevitability of the next massacre, is not worth preventing.

Those senators, 41 Republicans and four Democrats, killed a bill on Wednesday to expand background checks for gun buyers. It was the last, best hope for meaningful legislation to reduce gun violence after a deranged man used semiautomatic weapons to kill 20 children and six adults at the school in Newtown, Conn., 18 weeks ago. A ban on assault weapons was voted down by 60 senators; 54 voted against a limit on bullet magazines.

Patricia Maisch, who survived a mass shooting in Tucson in 2011, spoke for many in the country when she shouted from the Senate gallery: “Shame on you.”

Newtown, in the end, changed nothing; the overwhelming national consensus to tighten a ridiculously lax set of gun laws was stopped cold. That’s because the only thing that mattered to these lawmakers was a blind and unthinking fealty to the whims of the gun lobby.

The National Rifle Association once supported the expansion of background checks, but it decided this time that President Obama and gun-control advocates could not be allowed even a scintilla of a victory, no matter how sensible. That group, and others even more militant, wanted to make sure not one bill emerged from the Newtown shooting, and they got their way. A vast majority of Republicans meekly followed along, joined by a few nervous red-state Democrats, giving far more weight to a small, shrill and largely rural faction than to the country’s overwhelming need for safety and sanity.

Guns had not been on the president’s campaign agenda, but, to his credit, he and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. came up with a solid package of proposals after Newtown that would have reduced the number of dangerous weapons on the street and in the hands of criminals. Mr. Obama traveled the country to promote it in 13 speeches, and he has spent the last weeks unsuccessfully trying to pry senators out of the pocket of the gun lobby.

The most important aspect of his proposal, in the eyes of many gun-control advocates, was the expansion of background checks, both because it closed an important loophole and because it seemed the easiest to pass. From 20 percent to 40 percent of all gun sales now take place without a background check, and the bill rejected on Wednesday would have required the check for buyers at gun shows, on the Internet and at other commercially advertised sales. It was sponsored by two pro-gun senators with the courage to buck the lobby, Joe Manchin III, a Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick Toomey, a Republican of Pennsylvania.

The critical need for this measure was illustrated by a report in The Times on Wednesday that showed how easy it is for criminals to buy weapons on the Internet without a look at their backgrounds. One widely popular Web site contains tens of thousands of private postings of gun sales, and The Times’s investigation found that many buyers and sellers were criminals. Some of the guns have been used to kill.

A vote to continue this practice would be hard to explain to constituents, so lawmakers simply invented reasons to oppose background checks. Some insisted it would lead to a national gun registry, though the plain language of the bill prohibited that. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said it would raise taxes. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said it would require checks even when a gun sale is posted on an office bulletin board. (There’s nothing wrong with that, but it wouldn’t.) Mr. Obama, after the vote, said those who made these arguments had “willfully lied.”

It’s now up to voters to exact a political price from those who defied the public’s demand, and Mr. Obama was forceful in promising to lead that effort. Wednesday was just Round 1, he said; the next step is to replace those whose loyalty is given to a lobby rather than the people.

“Sooner or later, we are going to get this right,” he said. “The memories of these children demand it, and so do the American people.”

 

By: The Editorial Board, The New York Times, April 17, 2013

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Gun Control, Senate | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“How Many Is Enough?”: The Gun Report: April 18, 2013

Yesterday was dispiriting for the vast majority of Americans who, according to recent polling, want to see expanded background checks on gun sales. But another story that may have been overlooked, between the disappointing Senate outcome and the updates coming out of Boston, was this investigative piece from the Times’s National desk about Internet arms sales, dubbed “the gun show that never ends.” Reporters scoured online ads on Armslist, a self-described “firearms marketplace,” and found that several people who buy firearms are convicted felons who fail background checks, and many private Internet dealers simply look the other way. It’s an unregulated swath of the market that’s evaded government oversight, and, in the absence of new gun legislation, will continue to do so.

Jennifer Mascia

Micki Pickren, 52, was shot in the back of the head, the side of the head and the face by her boyfriend in Auburndale, Fla., Tuesday evening. Randall Scott Miller, 44, a former Marine, has been previously arrested for battery domestic violence and child abuse. The bullet in Pickren’s head was not able to be removed but she is expected to survive. Miller is at large and considered armed and dangerous.

NewsChief.com

Edith Hardy, 82, was sitting on the sofa inside her Chester, Pa., home Wednesday afternoon when she was shot in the neck by a stray bullet during a barrage of gunfire that also critically wounded a young man. Authorities have no motives or suspects. The critically wounded man was believed to be the intended target; he sustained a gunshot wound to the head and is on life support. Hardy is expected to survive.

The Delaware County Daily Times

A woman sleeping on a couch in a Hayward, Calif., home suffered head and neck wounds early Wednesday when bullets ripped through a front window. A couple was engaged in a heated argument across the street from the home right before gunshots were heard. The victim, a 24-year-old woman, was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery. Her condition was not known.

KTVU

A 2-year-old boy is recovering from a gunshot wound after accidentally shooting himself in Gurley, Ala., Tuesday night. Deputies responded to a home on Church Street around 7:20 p.m. and found a child with a gunshot wound to the hand. Deputies said the unsupervised child shot himself. Deputies notified the Department of Human Resources. No charges are expected to be filed.

WaayTV.com

A crying 5-month old girl was found under a bed at a northwest Houston, Tex., apartment where two people were shot to death Wednesday evening. Police were called at around 6 p.m. after hearing the baby’s cries and found a man dead on the floor and a woman dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Police found a second man inside the bedroom who had also been shot in the head; he is in critical condition.

Houston Chronicle

A student who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound Tuesday morning at a Temple, Tex., high school is in very critical condition. Officers found the 15-year-old student near the rear of the gym at Temple High School and recovered a handgun. The boy has not been identified, but the school confirmed that he is a member of the school’s ROTC program.

KWTX

A 19-year-old man was shot twice in the torso by a fellow student at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Elgerondo Williams, 22, pulled out a small-caliber handgun and shot his friend after they argued over money owed on a bet over a video game. The victim is in stable condition. Williams surrendered to a police officer on campus after initially fleeing the scene.

AL.com

A man was shot by his roommate several times and killed after a dispute north of Nixa, Mo., shortly before noon Wednesday. The victim died where he was shot, at the end of the driveway of the home that the two men shared with two other men. Deputies arrested the alleged gunman as he was trying to flee.

KY3.com

A man in his 20s is in critical condition after an argument ended in a shooting in Waveland, Miss., on Wednesday. Four or five men were fighting at a residence when one of them took out a gun and began shooting. Police questioned two of the men, but no arrests have been made.

SunHerald.com

Three men were shot in the street in front of a home in Bridge City, La., on Tuesday night. At around 7:20 p.m., the unidentified suspects pulled up in a gold-colored vehicle and opened fire. All three are expected to survive. Police have no suspects.

The Times-Picayune

Two people were injured in a shooting at a San Pablo, Calif., bar on Tuesday night. Police responded to reports of a shooting around 9:10 p.m and found two people who had been shot multiple times. They are expected to survive. No suspects have been arrested.

CBS SF Bay Area

Shootings in the Heart of Chicago and Grand Crossing neighborhoods in Chicago, Ill., left two men injured Tuesday night and early Wednesday. At 8:40 p.m. Tuesday, a 50-year-old man was shot in the shoulder as he left his home to inspect gunfire outside. At around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, two people approached a 45-year-old man from behind and opened fire, fleeing on foot.

Chicago Tribune

According to Slate’s gun-death tracker, an estimated 3,514 people have died as a result of gun violence in America since the Newtown massacre on December 14, 2012.

 

By: Joe Nocera, The New York Times, April 18, 2013

April 19, 2013 Posted by | Gun Violence, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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