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“Reckless Conduct”: The Supreme Court Just Affirmed That Domestic Violence Vacates Gun Rights; Here’s Why That’s So Important

It was a busy morning for for the Supreme Court. On Monday, the court struck down a Texas law that required Texas abortion clinics to have “admitting privileges,”and to be built up to hospital standards — even though neither make abortions much safer. It also reversed the bribery conviction of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell.

The court also decided an important case for the future of America’s gun death epidemic. In a 6-2 vote — a notable tally on the evenly ideologically divided bench — the court ruled in Voisine v. United States that domestic violence, even unintentional or “reckless” violence, still justifies limiting access to guns. As Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her opinion, “Reckless conduct, which requires the conscious disregard of a known risk, is not an accident: It involves a deliberate decision to endanger another.”

The details of the case are fairly thorny: The court ruled that all sorts of domestic violence, even cases in which the abuser simply “consciously disregard[ed]” the effects of his or her actions, in addition to those cases in which violence was committed “knowingly or intentionally”, are grounds for precluding access to guns.

But the effects of the case are vast: Thirty-four states and the District of Colombia have defined the Lautenberg Amendment, the legislation governing the dispute in question, as including “reckless” instances of domestic violence as grounds for prohibition of gun ownership. This decision expands that standard nationwide, broadening the definition of the only federal misdemeanor that prohibits firearm or ammunition possession.

After the Orlando massacre, as politicians and concerned citizens nationwide strained to find an answer for the kind of mass-casualty hate crime Omar Mateen carried out, a small handful pointed out an obvious red flag: Mateen was an extremely abusive romantic partner.

And although he had no criminal record in adulthood, as details about Mateen’s past became more widely available, so too did the argument that domestic violence is often a predictor of gun violence. Huffington Post reported today:

Domestic violence and guns are known to be a deadly combination. Experts say that if an abuser has access to a gun, victims are five times more likely to be killed. A study published earlier this year found that simply living in a state with a high rate of gun ownership increases a woman’s chance of being fatally shot in a domestic violence situation.

There is more than can be done to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, including requiring the subjects of restraining orders to temporarily turn in their weapons, and taking guns from accused domestic abusers awaiting trial.

But the court’s decision today emphasizes one of the most overlooked truths of gun violence in the United States: Victims often personally know perpetrators.

Of women murdered by men, 93 percent in 2014 were killed by someone they knew — and the majority were intimate partners of their killers. More than half of women killed with guns in 2011 were killed in domestic disputes. And, according to a study of every available mass shooting between January 2009 and July 2014, 57 percent of them involved the killing of a family member or a current or former intimate partner of the shooter.

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, June 27, 2016

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Domestic Violence, Gun Deaths, Gun Ownership, Gun Violence, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Day The NRA’s Gun Dam Began To Crack”: The Ongoing Holocaust The NRA And The Republicans Are Abetting

I couldn’t believe Wednesday night that some liberals were expressing indifference or even suspicion toward the House Democrats’ sit-in. I wouldn’t say this was all that widespread, but I did see it, and it was based on the fact that one of the bills they were demanding a vote on, the one banning people on watch lists from buying guns, is problematic from a civil-libertarian point of view.

Oh please. Do these people know history happening when they see it? The sit-in was about the two bills only in the most nominal sense. It was really about dead bodies. It was about the NRA and its stranglehold on their institution. It was about saying “enough.”

I wrote earlier this week that yes, the NRA won again on those four Senate votes, but “someday, this dam will break.” Well, it’s coming a hell of a lot faster than I thought it would. No, the dam isn’t broken—yet. That will still take a fair amount of time. But after Wednesday night, it’s now possible to see a different future, one in which the NRA is not all-powerful. It’s no longer crazy to think that its back can be broken.

Sure, there are serious civil liberties concerns about government lists. Here’s what the ACLU has to say about them. If you are a man with an Arabic name in particular, the risk of being put on one of these lists because of error or confusion is not inconsiderable. That has to be addressed, and a citizen has to be able to go to the government and demonstrate wrongful harm.

But everyone agrees on all this. As I watched the coverage Wednesday, every single Democrat I saw interviewed said as much. I wish I could retrieve for you what Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky told Chris Hayes late last night, but the video wasn’t posted on his site yet as I sat down to write. She said in essence: Of course, we all agree, fix the bill, build in an appeals process for individuals to challenge being put on the list. Given. In the meantime, actual dangerous people who deserve to be on that list can go buy assault weapons and mow down innocent people. Let’s stop that first, then we’ll fine-tune the bill.

What on earth is objectionable about that? Nothing. And anyway, the bill isn’t going to pass even if Paul Ryan does allow a vote. But it would have the effect of calling the Republicans’ bluff. That is, the standard Republican criticism of the bill has been precisely this civil-libertarian critique. So if the Democrats come to them en masse to say fine, we agree with you, let’s find a way to build in a workable appeals process, and the Republicans still vote against the bill, they will stand exposed, and everyone will know that civil liberty concerns aren’t what’s driving GOP opposition. Fear of Wayne LaPierre is. We all know this already anyway, but if there is a vote and they still vote against it, we’ll have proof.

Legislating is ugly business. The choices are usually between okay and not okay, or often between bad and much worse. You take what you can get. This is why the sit-in merits support and admiration (and if you really want to be a liberal who’s on the opposite side of the great John Lewis, be my guest). This is very different from the civil rights actions of the 1950s. Then, activists had a country to persuade; they had to move the mountain of public opinion. And so activists in Birmingham settled on segregated buses as the target that would tangibly and visibly make segregation stark for white Americans outside the South. They bided their time, deliberately chose Rosa Parks as the woman to do it, and slowly won public opinion over to their side.

But here, the public doesn’t have to be persuaded. It’s 80 or 90 percent on the Democrats’ side on guns. Even most NRA members support background checks, the subject of the other bill over which the Democrats staged their action. The boulder that has to be moved—or crushed—is the Republican Congress. So it’s up to congressional Democrats to make that fight, and they have to do it with the imperfect implements at their disposal, which means particular pieces of legislation that are bound to be deficient in one way or another.

And they’re finally making that fight. It was remarkable to see lawmakers holding those pieces of paper with the names of victims from Newtown and Orlando. That wasn’t about watch lists. It was about the ongoing holocaust that the NRA and the Republicans are abetting. It was all the more remarkable for the fact that it was done in an election year, when everyone’s supposed to be double-terrified of the NRA.

So the sit-in is ending as I write, on Thursday afternoon. But one of these days, the NRA will lose a vote. Two or three more Orlandos (which is of course two or three too many) will have the nation tearing its hair out. Democrats will finally stand firm, and enough Republicans from purple districts and states will defect. The stranglehold will end. And maybe in time, after LaPierre has gone off to whatever place eternity has reserved for him, the NRA will again become what it used to be, which is an organization that promotes reasonable Second Amendment rights but stops insisting that these death machines that were never intended to be in civilian hands deserve constitutional protection.

And when that time comes, historians will point to June 22, 2106 as the day the dam started to crack. I’m clear about which side I’m on.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 24, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Gun Deaths, House Democrats Sit-In, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

“Running Out Of Excuses”: The NRA And Prominent Republicans Are… Considering Gun Control?

Faced with the tragic killing of 49 people in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, notable conservatives seem to be running out of excuses for why we need less gun control.

Bill O’Reilly surprised many on Tuesday when he said that new laws were “definitely needed” as a response to the Orlando shooting. After going after Democrats for not being tough enough of terrorism, O’Reilly conceded that gun crime is a problem in the U.S., and that guns are too easy to get.

“That’s the fact. So let’s deal with it. We all have the right to bear arms, but we don’t have the right to buy and maintain mortars. Even if you feel threatened by gangsters or a New World Order. No bazookas, no Sherman tanks, no hand grenades.”

“The FBI and other federal agencies need the power to stop suspected terrorists or other evildoers from buying weapons,” he said. “That law needs to be very precise.”

O’Reilly had a much different opinion last January, when President Obama announced a gun control executive action after the San Bernardino attack. “The truth is, terrorists are not going to submit themselves to background checks — neither are dangerous felons or insane people,” he said in his January 6 program. “They are not going to sign any paper when they buy a gun. Do we all get that? They will buy their guns on the black market. And no registration law will prevent that.”

Also on Tuesday, O’Reilly’s fellow Fox News host Gretchen Carlson had a change of heart about gun control in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy.

“Do we need AR-15s to hunt and kill deer?” Carlson asked. “Do we need them to protect our families? Yes, I’m in favor of people being able to carry. I think some of these mass shootings would have been less deadly if that were the case. But I’m also with the majority today taking a stand. Can’t we hold true the sanctity of the Second Amendment while still having common sense?”

Perhaps most shocking, the National Rifle Association put out a statement on Wednesday saying the organization agrees that terrorists should not be allowed to buy firearms, and that they are “happy” to meet with the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump to discuss the issue.

Oh yeah: Donald Trump announced he was meeting with the NRA, the strongest gun lobby in the world, to discuss keeping suspected militants away from guns.

I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016

“Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist,” the NRA’s statement read.

The NRA tweeted that this statement did not represent a change in their position, and that “due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.”

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 15, 2016

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Gun Control, National Rifle Association, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 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

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