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“More Frequent Than You Might Think”: Do We Really Want To Lead The World In Toddler Shootings?

I remember last fall when I saw this article by Christopher Ingraham I hesitated to share it because it is so sad.

This week a 2-year-old in South Carolina found a gun in the back seat of the car he was riding in and accidentally shot his grandmother, who was sitting in the passenger seat. This type of thing happens from time to time: A little kid finds a gun, fires it, and hurts or kills himself or someone else. These cases rarely bubble up to the national level except when someone, like a parent, ends up dead.

But cases like this happen a lot more frequently than you might think. After spending a few hours sifting through news reports, I’ve found at least 43 instances this year of somebody being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself.

This week, Ingraham updated the numbers.

There have been at least 23 toddler-involved shootings since Jan. 1, compared with 18 over the same period last year.

In the vast majority of cases, the children accidentally shoot themselves. That’s happened 18 times this year, and in nine of those cases the children died of their wounds.

Toddlers have shot other people five times this year. Two of those cases were fatal: this week’s incident in Milwaukee, and that of a 3-year-old Alabama boy who fatally shot his 9-year-old brother in February.

I know we all despaired when even the shooting of 20 first and second graders in Newton wasn’t enough to unseat the power of the gun lobby in blocking the implementation of small steps towards common sense gun control. But are we really willing to be the world’s leader in toddler shootings?

Recently President Obama initiated one step in a process that could prevent these kinds of tragedies.

President Obama will use the power of his office to try to jump-start long-stalled “smart-gun” technology that could eventually allow only the owner of a firearm to use it, the White House announced Friday…

The administration stopped short of mandating the use of smart guns by federal agencies but said it saw promise in committing more federal money and attention to a technology that has evolved in fits and starts over more than two decades.

The idea behind the smart-gun technology is to limit the use of a firearm to its owner, through personalized identifiers like a biometric sensor on the gun grip, a ring sensor worn by the owner or a digital pass code entered on a wristband.

Advocates see the technology as a way of stopping criminals from using stolen guns — or children from accidentally shooting themselves or others.

In reporting on this, the Fox News headline reads: Obama set to push for ‘smart gun’ tech despite concerns. You might wonder about the source of those “concerns.”

The NRA does not oppose the technology. But in responding to the president’s controversial January executive action, the group’s Institute for Legislative Action said the private market, not the government, should drive its development.

“Although NRA is not opposed to the development of new firearms technology, we do not believe the government should be picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” the statement said.

While the administration may not be pushing an executive order mandating the purchase of smart guns, Second Amendment advocates fear a slippery slope.

There is no argument to be made here that this is an attempt by Obama to take away anyone’s guns. In light of that, the fallback position is to worry about a “slippery slope”…the case to be made when all else fails.

Second Amendment advocates can’t stop President Obama from pursuing the possibilities of this kind of technology. But in light of these numbers on toddler shootings, it actually blows my mind that they would even attempt to raise objections.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 3, 2016

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Deaths, Gun Lobby, Toddler Shootings | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Positions On Brady Bill And Background Checks”: Can South Carolina Forgive Bernie’s Gun Record?

Hillary Clinton is taking a message to South Carolina: Bernie Sanders is soft on guns.

In a newly released campaign ad, Clinton is hitting the Vermont senator straight in his progressive bona fides. The 30-second spot features Rev. Anthony Thompson, who lost his wife in the Charleston church massacre last year.

In debates and town halls, Clinton has repeatedly pointed out that Sanders—in addition to voting against the Brady Bill—has failed to support the most basic tenet of gun control: background checks. And being in favor of civil immunity for gun manufacturers likely played well in the Green Mountain State, where gun violence is relatively uncommon.

“I come from a state that has virtually no gun control,” Sanders said at a gala dinner hosted by the South Carolina Democratic Party over the King holiday weekend. “We must bring this country together under those provisions that the majority of the country supports.”

However, a public opinion poll conducted by CBS News and The New York Times found that the vast majority of Americans—92 percent— “favor background checks for all gun buyers.”

South Carolinians have been grappling with gun control since the day 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine people—including South Carolina State Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney —after a prayer service.  The mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, one of the largest and oldest historically black churches in the south, whipped up the political winds.

State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, who endorsed Clinton this week, introduced a comprehensive bill aimed a curtailing the flow of illegally obtained guns and tightening restrictions on buyers. Senator Sanders, who talked to the state lawmaker about his legislation, has said he voted against the Brady Bill because he “opposed a provision in the bill that would have held gun shop owners responsible if a gun they sold was used in a terrible crime.” He favors, according to a statement provided to The Daily Beast, holding “manufacturers and sellers responsible for knowingly or negligently selling a gun to the wrong person.”

None of that has stopped the Clinton campaign from attempting to exploit what they see as a weakness. By targeting Sanders with an ad that features an “Emanuel 9” widow, just 15 days before the Democratic primary contest in South Carolina, Clinton is out to show that Sanders is out of the mainstream and that he doesn’t understand the needs of people who live in the line of fire. That message is being dispatched by surrogates—including state elected officials and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, to houses of worship in every corner of the state.

In debates, Sanders has vigorously defended himself on the issue—pointing to his D-minus rating from the National Rifle Association and saying he will continue to fight for “common sense gun safety measures” as president.

The Sanders campaign said the senator does support closing the gun-show loophole, which allows unlicensed dealers to sell weapons without a background check. He also wants to make “straw man” purchases a federal crime, ban semi-automatic assault weapons and launch a renewed focus on mental health.

While gun control is not a featured issued on the Sanders campaign website, FeelTheBern.org says the candidate believes in a “middle ground solution.”

“Bernie believes that gun control is largely a state issue because attitudes and actions with regards to firearms differ greatly between rural and urban communities.”

The website is built and maintained by volunteers who have no official affiliation with Sanders.

By comparison, Clinton’s proposals are much more aggressive and she lays out her public record on the issue—as First Lady when she supported the Brady Bill and background checks, and as a U.S. Senator when she co-sponsored legislation to re-instate the assault weapons ban. Clinton has vowed to close the “Charleston loophole,” which allows a gun sale to proceed without a background check if that check has not been completed within three days.

There are few who believe that Sanders stands a real chance of winning in states like South Carolina— with its markedly more diverse electorate.  Clinton, with the new ad and a throng of issue-driven surrogates, is out to prove that Sanders is disconnected, that he doesn’t know how “real” Americans live and that he doesn’t know how to govern.

Clinton isn’t just saying that Sanders is soft on guns, but that his all-or-nothing positions are dangerous.

 

By: Goldie Taylor, The Daily Beast, February 12, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Background Checks, Bernie Sanders, Gun Control, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Taking Down Marco Rubio Is Easier Than You Think”: His Moderate Style Doesn’t Match His Extreme Policies

It’s silly to pretend otherwise: As a Democrat, I’d rather run against Ted Cruz than Marco Rubio.

But that’s like saying I’d rather run against herpes than Marco Rubio. Of course I would. I don’t care that Ted Cruz may be smart and strategic. He’s also creepy and cruel, according to just about everyone who’s ever had the misfortune of knowing him for longer than 10 minutes.

I’d also rather run against Donald Trump than Marco Rubio. Again, obvious. But for me, less so than Cruz. Trump isn’t quite as easily caricatured as a cartoon villain. Before his current role as America’s most overexposed xenophobe, he was a celebrity con man whose job was getting people to like and trust him against all odds. Trump is a loser now after Iowa, and perhaps for good, but he is also unpredictable, unscripted, and unafraid to torch the establishment of which he was once a member. There’s no zealot like a convert in search of voters.

Rubio is none of these things—which is why the more I think about him as a potential GOP nominee, the less scared I get.

Rubio would certainly start with some strengths. His youth, background, story, and ability to tell that story will generate another round of fawning media coverage of Rubio as the Republican Obama (hence the echoes of Obama’s Iowa speech in Rubio’s). He will be called the Democrats’ Worst Nightmare by so many annoying pundits, who will quote from the latest Gravis Marketing/Insider Advantage/Outback Steakhousepoll that shows Rubio capturing 85.5 percent of the Latino vote and all Americans under 30.

Because Trump and Cruz have moved the goalposts on what it means to be bat-shit crazy in a primary, the press will confuse Rubio’s moderate temperament with moderate policies, of which he has none. Rubio was once described as the “crown prince” of the Tea Party. He has a 100 percent rating from the NRA. He’ll appoint justices who will overturn the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision. He opposes abortion with no exception for rape or incest. He opposes stem cell research and doesn’t believe in climate change. He’d send ground troops to Syria and trillions in tax cuts to the rich.

On immigration, who knows what Rubio will do next—and that’s kind of the point. In the primary, his experimentation with legalization has been an issue of loyalty to the Republican base. If he makes it to the general, it will be a character issue. When he ran for Senate, Rubio said he opposed citizenship for undocumented immigrants. When he got to the Senate, Rubio helped write a bill that supported citizenship for undocumented immigrants. When Rubio’s presidential ambitions were then threatened by a conservative revolt, he renounced his own bill.

This is such an easy story to tell. It’s such an easy story to understand. It’s not so different from when John Kerry voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it—a flip-flop that helped sink his 2004 campaign. Beyond Washington, Rubio’s dance on immigration won’t be seen as shrewd, it will be seen as cowardly and self-serving—basically, what people have come to expect from establishment politicians.

And that’s who Rubio really is, isn’t he? He’s been in elected office for most of his life. He’s not just cozy with lobbyists—he was registered as one. He’s cautious and guarded, a little too slick and overly rehearsed. Chris Christie has taken to calling him “bubble boy” for avoiding questions in favor of his stump speech. Then there was a New Hampshire reporter’s brutal description of Rubio’s interview with The Conway Daily Sun: “It was like watching a computer algorithm designed to cover talking points. He said a lot but at the same time said nothing. It was like someone wound him up, pointed him toward the doors and pushed ‘play.’ If there was a human side to the senator, a soul, it didn’t come across.”

Rubio’s campaign is based on the premise that he’s a new kind of leader for the next generation in a “New American Century.” And certainly, he looks the part and knows the lines. He’s young, charismatic, and never misses a chance to tell us how much cool rap music is on his iPad, even if no one asked (also, Pitbull isn’t cool).

But as a general election candidate, Rubio would combine everything people hate about Washington politics with everything they hate about Republican policies. He may be more formidable and disciplined than some of his nuttier rivals, but he will also be utterly predictable and conventional. We Democrats have won that kind of election before. We can do it again.

 

By: Jon Favreau, The Daily Beast, February 5, 2016

February 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Just Get Out Of My Way”: This Progressive Doesn’t Need Your Lectures

Have I mentioned lately how much I’m enjoying the lectures from self-avowed liberals who insist my respect for Hillary Clinton is proof that I am not a “real progressive”?

I haven’t had this much fun since I had my sinuses packed with 40 miles of gauze after polyp surgery.

It’s not just men — my sisters, you disappoint me — but it’s particularly entertaining when the reprimands come from young white men who were still braying for their blankies when I started getting paid to give my opinion. They popped out special, I guess.

I became a columnist in the fall of 2002. Immediately, I found myself on the receiving end of right-wing vitriol so vile it made “The Sopranos” cuddly by comparison. My first death threats came within weeks, after I wrote that the Confederate flag should be retired. After I supported stronger gun control measures, an NRA zealot posted on a gun blog what he thought was my home address and identified me as “unarmed.” I was a single mother at the time. I bought new locks and kept writing. But by all means, do tell me what I don’t understand about being a progressive.

First, though, let me tell you what you clearly don’t understand about me — I almost added, “and women like me,” but that would be presuming to speak for other women, which would make me sound just like you.

I am a 58-year-old wife, mother and grandmother, who first knew I was a feminist at 17. I was a waitress at a family restaurant and a local banker thought he could stick his hand up my skirt because my hands were full of dinner. In the time it took me to deposit that steaming pile of pasta onto his lap, I realized I was never going to be that girl.

Like so many other women, I soon learned that knowing who you are is no small victory, but making it clear to the rest of the world is one of the hardest and longest nonpaying jobs a woman will ever have. I’ll spare you my personal list of jobs with unequal pay and unwelcome advances. No good comes from leading with our injuries.

It helped — it still helps — that my working-class parents raised me to be ready for the fight. My father was a union utility worker, my mother a nurse’s aide. Both of them died in their 60s, living just long enough to see all of their children graduate from college and start their lives. I’ve said many times that my parents did the kind of work that wore their bodies out so that we would never have to. That, too, is my legacy.

But, please, tell me again how I don’t know what it means to be a progressive.

Last month, I started teaching journalism at Kent State University. One of the first things I did was to lug to my office the large metal sign that used to hang over the tool shed at my father’s plant. “THE BEST SAFETY DEVICE IS A CAREFUL MAN,” it reads. Nice try, management.

I’m stickin’ with the union, Woody Guthrie sang.

Every time I walk into my office, that sign is the first thing I see. Remember, it whispers.

What does any of this have to do with why I admire Hillary Clinton? Nothing. But it has everything to do with why I don’t need any lecture from somebody who thinks he or she is going to tell me who I am because I do.

One of the hallmarks of a progressive is a willingness to challenge a power structure that leaves too many people looking up and seeing the bottom of a boot. I want power for the people who don’t have it. And for the rest of my conscious days, I will do my small part to help get it. I love it when detractors describe Clinton as too angry and not “warm and fuzzy” enough. I want a leader, not a Pooh Bear.

I don’t want to diminish anyone who supports Bernie Sanders. I’m married to Sanders’ colleague, Sen. Sherrod Brown, which is how I’ve gotten to know him over the last 10 years. He’s a good man.

If you support Sanders in this Democratic presidential primary, I don’t assume that you hate women.

See how that works?

But if you tell me that, should Sanders lose, you won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, then stop calling yourself a liberal or a progressive or anything other than someone invested in just getting your way.

There is so much at stake here. The fight for women’s reproductive rights is not a sporting event. Our cities are rife with racial tensions, and too many of us white Americans fail to see this as our problem, too. The Affordable Care Act is not enough, but it is the first fragile step toward universal health care. It is already saving lives of people who had nothing — no health care, no safety net, nothing — before it passed.

Finally, the growing gulf between the obscenely privileged and everyone else is a reason to get out of bed every morning — if we care about the future of the people we are supposed to be fighting for.

If you would sacrifice those who need us most because you didn’t get your way, then please, save me your lectures and get out of my way.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, February 4, 2016

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Liberals, Progressives | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Why Is America So Hostile To Gun Control?”: The Damage Isn’t Limited To Gun Deaths

The President of the United States and the mayor of the District of Columbia both used this week to address violence within the sphere of their responsibilities. And they are catching flak for it.

President Obama’s focus was on the weapons that now kill as many people as car accidents and on the need for gun-control measures. He said at the White House on Tuesday: “Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns — 30,000. Suicides. Domestic violence. Gang shootouts. Accidents.” And he added this grabber: “In 2013 alone, more than 500 people lost their lives to gun accidents — and that includes 30 children younger than 5 years old.”

The next day, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) went to the city’s Eastern Market Metro station to announce the formation of a task force to combat gun robberies, which last year increased to 1,249, 10 percent more than the 1,112 recorded in 2014. This year isn’t off to a good start — 25 gun robberies in the first six days of 2016. Robberies without guns numbered 28.

Yet robberies aren’t the only crime on the rise in our nation’s capital. Last year ended with 162 murders. There were 105 in 2014.

Something, however, may get lost in these numbers. How can the toll taken by death be measured with any degree of accuracy? It’s impossible to quantify the sense of loss and grief that follows; the sadness, emptiness and loneliness that death leaves behind.

The families and friends of those 30,000 people whose lives were cut short by guns may have some idea.

The damage isn’t limited to gun deaths.

What is the impact of more than 3,000 total street robberies in a city? Gauge the distress of having possessions taken by force — imagine the fear, anger, insecurity and unwanted memories that robbery leaves behind.

The violence assailed by Obama and Bowser is disturbing. So is the opposition mounted against them for trying to do something about it.

Criticism of Obama’s proposed regulations to ensure that laws on the books are enforced as written and intended is sickening. Unlike the “he’s gonna take away your guns” rhetoric coming out the mouths of some gun enthusiasts and their sycophantic Republican presidential hopefuls, Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence is light stuff. It would:

  • Require all those in the business of selling firearms to be licensed and to conduct background checks.
  • Overhaul the FBI’s background check system to make it more efficient and effective and provide the bureau with more staff.
  • Beef up staffing of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to crack down on firearms trafficking.
  • Increase funding for mental-health treatment and mental-health reporting to the background check system and direct the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to pursue research into gun-safety technology.

Several law professors who looked at the constitutionality of Obama’s executive actions said that they “ensure robust enforcement of the law” and are “entirely compatible with the will of Congress and the President’s constitutional authority.”

But listen to the resisters.

Obama wants your guns,” says Ted Cruz’s campaign website.

Obama is “making an end-run around the Constitution” to “restrict one of the basic, fundamental principles of our country,” Donald Trump’s campaign manager told CNN.

“Just one more way to make it harder for law-abiding people to buy weapons to be able to protect their families,” said Marco Rubio on Fox News.

“Obama’s executive orders trample on the 2nd Amendment,” said a Jeb Bush tweet.

Obama “is advancing his political agenda,” a Ben Carson tweet said.

Forget about saving lives. Better to save political hides from National Rifle Association attacks.

The president’s proposals should triumph over demagoguery and plain stupidity. But don’t cut the gun lobby short. Fear of NRA money and power makes cowards out of congressmen.

The local climate for reform may not be any better.

This is a city where many people are afraid to venture out of their homes after dark, where going to and from school can be hazardous and where guns — and those who would use them — seem as plentiful as the air.

Though overall crime rates are down in the District, murders and gun robberies are up.

In August, Bowser proposed a public safety plan to combat the violence. She contended that if the D.C. Council had adopted her proposals — more money for more cops in high-crime areas, stiffer penalties for crimes on buses and subway trains and in D.C. parks, cracking down on repeat offenders — last year’s jump in homicides might have been avoided.

But Bowser is at loggerheads with key council members over the direction of crime-fighting and criminal justice reforms. And so? Nothing. Handwringing, finger-pointing . . .

Obama, urging action, cited the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words “the fierce urgency of now,” because people are dying. “The constant excuses for inaction,” the president declared, “no longer suffice.”

Even as national and D.C. lawmakers turn a deaf ear to that message.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 8, 2016

January 11, 2016 Posted by | District of Columbia, Gun Control, Gun Deaths | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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