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“Yes, It’s The Guns”: Charleston Is More Proof America Needs To Fix Its Shameful Gun Laws

Hillary Clinton is right. As she told Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston last night in response to his question about taking action after Charleston, “Let’s just cut to the chase. It’s guns.”

Damn right, it’s the guns. In Newtown and Oak Creek and Aurora and Charleston and Columbine. In churches and schools and movie theaters and hospitals and police stations. In homes where one-year-old Braylon Robinson was accidentally shot to death by a 3 year old. In a nation where 300 million guns result in a mass shooting every two weeks.

And in an historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, called Mother Emanuel, where worshipers took a diffident stranger into their midst in Jesus’ name to pray with them. And he killed them for their kindness and the color of their skin.

Other countries have virulent racists and the mentally unbalanced. We’re the only developed country with unfettered access to deadly weapons and an unwillingness to do anything about it nationally. Australia enacted strict gun laws after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Both gun homicides and gun suicides declined sharply, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since.

After Aurora, Colorado was one of the few states to pass gun safety laws. Colorado State Rep. Rhonda Fields, whose own son, Javad Marshall Fields, was shot to death in 2005, sponsored the background checks bill. Anyone who doubts the racism of gun nuts didn’t see her email or the #copolitics Twitter feed during those votes. The barrage of vileness directed at the Colorado women legislators who sponsored the bills, including explicit threats of sexual and physical violence, are something I’ll never forget or forgive.

Victim families from three different massacres – Columbine, Aurora and Newtown – helped get Colorado’s gun laws passed. Arapahoe County Coroner Mike Doberson, whose office received victims from two of them, concluded simply, “Please pass these bills. I’m tired of taking bullets out of kids.”

Three state legislators lost their seats over Colorado’s attempt at sanity – two by recall, one by resignation. And every year, Colorado Republicans have attempted to overturn the laws.

Jane Dougherty is a bridal alterations consultant in Littleton, Colorado. Her older sister Mary Sherlach was murdered at Sandy Hook, after running at the gunman to protect the children. So for the two springs since, as the days of March and April warm to the weddings of June, Jane has returned to the legislature to fight for the laws she helped pass in Mary’s name. She calls it “guns and brides season.”

As the president has pointed out, it is shameful that federal legislators lack the courage to do the same. How are former Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., feeling about voting against gun reform measures these days? Pryor voted against background checks in a vain hope of saving his seat. The NRA spent $1.3 million in ads against him anyway. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lost too, but at least one of her parting gifts was voting the right way. Republicans are utterly worthless on the issue.

I’m all for love and peace and tears and atonement, anger and grief in equal measure. I’m also for passing some serious gun control laws and telling members of the NRA what they can go do with themselves. Dear public officials: There’s a side. Pick one. Because it’s the damn guns.

 

By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and Wrold Report, June 19, 2015

June 21, 2015 Posted by | Emanuel AME Church, Gun Violence, Mass Shootings | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Terribly Bad, Good Idea”: Tea Party Group Drafting Sarah Palin To Run For Alaska Senate

“Do the words ‘Senator Sarah Palin’ excite you?”

That’s the opening line of a recent email by The Tea Party Leadership Fund, which is trying to draft the former Alaska governor and past Fox News commentator to run for the Senate in 2014. The fund argues Palin has a clear path to victory in part due to recent polling showing incumbent Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat, with less than 50 percent of the vote.

But, it being a draft, the group hasn’t talked with Palin about whether or not she’s interested. And Palin – whose PAC didn’t respond to request for comment from Whispers – is believed to be currently residing in Arizona, not Alaska. The fund’s Niger Innis says the interest of Tea Party members in a Palin run, however, is clear.

“We didn’t know that [the draft] was going to catch fire to the degree that it has. And what that tells us is that this is just the beginning,” he says. “It’s gone viral.”

But not all Tea Party groups are enthused about drafting Palin without first gauging her interest.

“I absolutely love her and I think she’s a breath of fresh air,” Amy Kremer, head of Tea Party Express, tells Whispers. “But until she says that she’s going to put her name in… we’re not going to go out there and advocate for her to get in the race.”

Judson Phillips at Tea Party Nation says the 2012 presidential election provided an important lesson about why drafting candidates is a bad idea. “One of the things we learned is that apparently Mitt Romney didn’t really want to be president,” he said. “The last thing the GOP needs is to put candidates who don’t want it.”

 

By: Elizabeth Flock, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, April 30, 2013

May 1, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“All Worked Up About Guns”: The Ironies Of The Senate Gun Control Debate And Emotional Attachment Of Senators To Their Jobs

As a guy who works with words for a living, I marvel at the gun lobby’s gift for turning logic inside out. The bumper-sticker classic: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” The post-Newtown twist: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And this week we have the latest cynical talking point: Let’s not legislate with our emotions.

“It’s dangerous to do any type of policy in an emotional moment. Because human emotions then drive the decision. Everyone’s all worked up.” (Mark Begich, D-Alaska)

“The emotion associated with all the violent events over the last 3 or 4 years tends to cause us to lose sight of some pretty commonsense principles,” (Tom Coburn, R- Oklahoma)

“We should not react to these tragedies in an irrational manner here in the Senate.” (Richard Shelby, R- Alabama)

“It is largely a mistake to talk about issues in the wake of crisis, in the wake of tragedy.” (Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who also accused President Obama of using the Newtown victims’ families as “props.”)

I don’t know who put out the memo. But this patronizing line is a transparent attempt to devalue the outpouring of heartbreak from parents and survivors that has – at least temporarily – fueled a drive to do something, even something inadequate, to make the next massacre a little less likely.

The grand irony behind the insult is that no movement has been so successfully propelled by passion – so “worked up” – as the gun rights movement. This is a movement that feeds on fear and resentment. This is a movement driven in part by the paranoid expectation that the government is itching to confiscate all of your guns – and, one layer down, by the even darker paranoia that citizens need guns to defend against impending tyranny. And these are the people telling us to calm down and be reasonable?

From such phobic nightmares, what clear-headed, common-sense arguments arise? Arguments like these:

  • The answer to an armed lunatic in a movie theater is for the other patrons to pull out their concealed weapons and fill the air with lead.
  • Our current, loophole-ridden background checks don’t catch criminals, so tougher background checks are pointless. (By this reasoning, since our border fences aren’t stopping illegal immigration, there’s no point in building better fences.)
  • Every state has the right to issue concealed-carry permits, but no state has the right not to recognize permits granted in other states. (That got 57 votes in the Senate, just short of the 60 needed to pass.)

Of course, the real ruling passion Wednesday in the Senate was the emotional attachment of senators to their jobs. Not doing them. Keeping them.

 

By: Bill Keller, The Opinion Pages, The New York Times, April 18, 2013

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

“A Defeat For The NRA”: Despite Threats, Filibuster Broken And Gun Debate Begins

The Senate has voted 68-31 to open a debate on compromise gun legislation that expands background checks. The bill will be based on a compromise between senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), both of whom currently have an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby.

The NRA threatened to “score” Thursday’s vote against lawmakers’ ratings, hoping to kill the bill before it was even written. But 17 Republicans joined all the Democrats in the Senate except Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mark Begich (D-AK) for cloture to prevent a filibuster from derailing the debate. The Washington Post‘s Ed O’Keefe points out that 21 of the “aye” votes came from senators with NRA ratings A- or higher.

Several family members of those killed in the Newtown massacre four months ago were on hand to witness the vote in the Senate chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) took to the floor after the vote.

“The hard work starts now,” he said.

“There are powerful feelings about each of these proposals — both strong support and strong opposition,” Reid said. “But whichever side you are on, we ought to be able to agree to engage in a thoughtful debate about these measures.”

He added that he hopes ”a few senators don’t spoil everything,” referencing the threat by 14 senators including Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to filibuster the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is one of those senators. On Thursday he said, ”This bill is a clear overreach that will predominantly punish and harass our neighbors, friends, and family.”

The debate is expected to last for weeks, with the NRA continuing to score even procedural votes.

Though about one-third of the Senate voted against even having a debate, polls show that around 90 percent of Americans support expanding background checks.

“Those two leaders stepping up is a very good way to start,” said Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who is seeking re-election next year in red state Louisiana. “How it ends, I don’t know.”

This morning, Congressman Peter King (R-NY) told The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent that he thought the bill had a chance of passing the House of Representatives if it makes it out of the Senate.

 

By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, April 11, 2013

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Gun Control, Senate | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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