Tag Archives: gun control

Bump stocks banned: it’s a start

The U.S. Justice Department has acted — finally! — on a measure that well could start us down a more rational, sane world regarding firearm regulation.

DOJ announced it is going to implement a ban on bump stocks, those devices that turn semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic killing machines.

While the nation has been fixated since Valentine’s Day on the Parkland, Fla., high school massacre, let us remember an earlier slaughter.

A lunatic opened fire in Las Vegas with a semi-auto rifle he had converted into a machine gun, killing 59 people attending a music festival at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. He eventually killed himself.

The debate over bump stocks was joined immediately.

Is this measure going to strip legitimate firearm owners of their right to “keep and bear arms”? Not in the least. It is going to potentially deter future madmen from doing what the Las Vegas shooter did, which is turn a semi-automatic rifle into a virtual weapon of war.

In announcing the Justice Department directive, though, we had to leave it to Donald Trump to lay blame on his made-up nemesis, Barack Obama, for “approving” bump stocks.

Trump’s tweet is sort of correct, at a certain level. The decision to allow bump stocks was done at an administrative mid-level at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The president or the attorney general, Eric Holder, had no direct input on the deliberations being undertaken.

Leave it to Obama’s successor, though, to forgo a forward-looking statement and to assess blame on someone else on a problem that needed to be fixed.

So, the Justice Department has acted. It will ban bump stocks. It will seek to prevent gun owners from creating machine guns.

This is by no stretch of anyone’s imagination a decision that launches us down any sort of slippery slope. It makes sense.

Texas pols stay quiet about Trump gun talk

Barack Obama sought to legislate some remedy to the senseless slaughter of school children and other innocent victims.

The Texas Republican political leadership’s response then? They went apoplectic! They accused the president of seeking to repeal the Second Amendment, disarm law-abiding Americans and toss their firearms into the ocean … if you get my drift.

Donald Trump has just pitched an aggressive set of proposals to regulate gun purchases, make it more difficult to purchase assault weapons and raise the minimum wage for those who can buy these weapons.

The Texas GOP response? Nothing, man! Zip. Zero. Nada.

Hey, what gives here? Isn’t the president a Second Amendment champion? Doesn’t he believe its words are sacred, that they shouldn’t be tinkered with?

The president has gotten the attention of gun enthusiasts, although it’s not at all clear that the president is going to hold firm to what he is pitching. I am struck by the silence of key GOP politicians on this matter.

I happen to believe the president has presented a reasonable start to a serious discussion. I want to offer a full-throated endorsement of what he is pitching — except, of course, for the nutty notion of arming school teachers with firearms.

It is fascinating in the extreme to watch politicians from within the president’s own party remain silent as he fires off these proposals. If they had come from former President Obama, why, they’d be going nuts.

Do they stand behind a principle, or do they stand behind the man … who doesn’t seem to have any consistent political philosophy?

Are teens spooking the pols?

I can think of few things that would be juicier than the idea of teenagers throwing a serious scare into politicians over the issue of gun violence.

The shooter who massacred those 17 people in Parkland, Fla., including 14 high school students, well might have launched a political juggernaut.

It’s true that the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado didn’t do it. Nor did the Sandy Hook Elementary School slaughter in Connecticut. This tragic event, though, seems different.

Teens are mounting rallies. Today, a busload of teenagers rode to Tallahassee, Fla., to pressure lawmakers to do something about gun violence. The Florida Senate today, to its shame, voted down a bill that would have banned the sale of assault rifles in that state.

That won’t deter the young activists from expressing their anger and outrage over politicians’ historic inaction — indeed, their cowardice — in facing head-on the ongoing gun violence crisis.

We’re beginning to hear rumblings of gun reform from Republican politicians. At least two GOP governors — Rick Scott of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas — have spoken out loud about the need for gun law reform.

And, oh yes, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has spoken the words, too.

They understand, I’m quite sure, that many of the teenagers already have the power to vote. Others will join them soon. In the wake of this grievous action in Parkland, they now are speaking with a single, angry voice.

When is it the ‘right time,’ Mr. Speaker?

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is showing his gutlessness yet again.

He said it is “too early” to discuss gun violence in the wake of the latest gun-related tragedy.

A gunman killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla. on Valentine’s Day. Seventeen lives were snuffed out by a lunatic with an AR-15 assault rifle. He bought the gun legally, according to authorities. OK. Let’s start there.

How does someone who exhibited some warning signs of violence purchase an assault weapon legally? Are there any legislative remedies available to prohibit someone from buying a rifle that is designed to inflict maximum casualties in a minimum amount of time?

The speaker says it’s too early to talk about that. What utter crap!

It’s not too early. It’s never too early. Our nation is grieving yet again after a massacre at a public school. I am sickened in the extreme at this news. What’s more, I also am sickened at the lack of our will among our political leadership to take this matter on in a forthright manner.

The president spoke to us this week about love and caring for the victims. He said the students who witnessed the carnage are not alone and “never will be.” I appreciate Donald Trump’s statements about the need to protect our students and to tackle the ravages of mental illness. He’s right.

However, the president hasn’t yet broached the subject of gun violence. He hasn’t offered any ideas on how we might legislate some solution, or begin to craft a path toward some remedy that doesn’t violate the constitutional guarantee of gun ownership.

Let’s talk about this, shall we? It’s not too early. If not now, then when is the right time?

‘Bump stock’ becomes new gun focus

Maybe it’s just me but I rather doubt many Americans had ever heard of “bump stock” before this past weekend when a madman opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 spectators attending a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nev.

A bump stock, we have learned, is a device that turns a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun.

The shooter in Las Vegas had attached a bump stock to a semi-auto rifle and created an automatic weapon, a killing machine that took the lives of 58 people and injured more than 500 others.

Now the debate has been joined. And guess what: There seems to be some actual momentum building that could make bump stocks illegal. Congressional Republicans, who usually are allied with the National Rifle Association in opposing any effort to regulate guns in any fashion, now are calling for an examination of this device.

More good news? Sure. The NRA is softening its opposition, agreeing that Congress should debate the legality of bump stocks.

Hell has frozen over!

As The Hill reports: “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Chris Cox said in a joint statement.

Who would have thought such a thing could come from the NRA?

Might there be a gun law breakthrough?

I believe it’s a baby step toward taking some needed legislative steps regarding gun violence. I hope eventually that Congress will be able to be more comprehensive in its approach to curbing this kind of massacre. It likely will need some push from powerful public interests — such as the NRA.

If it’s against the law to own a machine gun, then how is it that bump stocks remain legal?

Parsing the founders’ language in the 2nd Amendment

Of all the amendments to the U.S. Constitution — all 27 of them — the one that gives me the most serious case of heartburn is the Second Amendment.

Here is what this amendment says. It’s brief, but it’s so damn confusing in my humble view: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

Americans are talking yet again about this amendment. Events in Las Vegas over the weekend have thrust this issue to the top of our minds once more. We’re talking about gun violence, gun control. We’re even debating whether we should be debating this issue at this time. I believe we should.

But I want to look at the Second Amendment’s sentence construction. I’ve read it thousands of times over my many years on this good Earth. I don’t understand what it’s saying.

The founders were smart men. They did a good job of developing a fairly cogent and concise bill of rights that are contained in the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The Second Amendment, though, seems to make two points that are not connected to each other.

Indeed, the first 12 words preceding the comma seem to be lacking an ending. It refers only to a “well-regulated” militia and the necessity to have one to maintain “the security of a free State.” That’s it!

The following clause could stand as a complete sentence in that it contains a subject, some verbs and a predicate.

Those who favor stricter controls on firearms point to the first clause as their rationale. Those who oppose such controls look to the clause after the comma as their rationale.

My sense is that here is where the debate over this amendment seems to break down. Those on opposing sides of this mammoth chasm place their emphases on separate clauses. One means something different from the other one.

I know that courts have ruled countless times that the amendment means that Americans can own firearms, that it’s protected in the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights was ratified Dec. 15, 1791 and thus, the Constitution was established to form a framework for our representative democracy.

The founders got it mostly right when they crafted that framework. They wrote the Bill of Rights almost without exception with sentences that make sense; nine of the 10 amendments comprising the Bill of Rights were constructed in ways that make sense to laypeople such as yours truly.

The Second Amendment, though, gives me heartburn.

By all means, let’s talk about guns

Part of the debate in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre has spun into a discussion about the timing of a debate over gun violence and whether we need more laws to control the ownership of firearms.

Donald Trump believes it’s premature to talk about such matters.

The White House echoes the president’s view on the timing of that discussion.

Others, meanwhile, have kicked that debate into first gear and are shifting into higher gears quickly.

To be honest, I am with those who want to start the discussion now.

I am not dishonoring the victims of the gunman’s horrific act. I pray daily for the 59 people killed and for the 500-plus victims who were injured. I pray for our country and hope we can return to some semblance of sanity.

Moreover, I do believe we can enact some additional controls on the flow of firearms without dismembering the Second Amendment guarantees of firearm ownership. I won’t engage in that debate here.

I do want to deal briefly with the notion that we can have that discussion while mourning the loss of life in Las Vegas. It’s not too early. I am mystified at the idea that it is inappropriate to seek measures to protect us against this kind of heinous act.

TV talking heads are grilling politicians about gun control. Some of them are hedging. Others are willing to engage — right now — in that discussion.

The carnage that spilled on the floor in Las Vegas has prompted yet another national debate over how — or if — we can ever protect humanity from gun madness.

Do I have confidence that this moment will produce any action? Consider this: If the deaths of those 20 innocent children and six of their teachers, who were slaughtered in Newtown, Conn., couldn’t get politicians to budge, does anyone believe they’ll move as a result of the Las Vegas massacre?

Their likely refusal does not make a national discussion any less important.

This is the guy who’ll keep the WH stories straight?

Anthony Scaramucci has a law degree and a pretty hefty financial pedigree.

Somehow, though, he got himself appointed White House communications director over the vehement objections of former press secretary Sean Spicer.

As I scanned Scaramucci’s record, I got a glimpse into what might have prompted Spicer to quit after Donald Trump installed Scaramucci as communications director.

“Mooch,” as he is known, seems to have had trouble keeping his own stories straight.

He is known to support gay marriage and strong gun-control laws, two issues that are anathema to Donald Trump’s political “base.” He once raised money for Democratic presidential candidate Barack H. Obama. Mooch backed Scott Walker and then Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican primary and then threw in with Trump’s transition after the president was elected.

He’s also said some highly critical things about Trump.

I must ask: This is the individual who is going to put the White House “on message” and seek to avoid the missteps, mistakes and misstatements that have poured out of Trump administration?

Chaos, meet confusion.

‘Gun cops’ are nowhere to be seen

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I am hurtling toward my 70th year on this Earth and for most of that time I’ve been fairly politically attuned to the various debates of the time.

One debate that seems to have outlasted many of the others has been about guns.

Gun violence breaks out and we hear the squeals of gloom and doom from the gun lobby that politicians are going to call on the cops to break down our doors and confiscate all our weapons. Those nasty pols simply hate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and they’re going to do away with it. They’re going to steal our civil liberties and deny us the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Such nonsense came flying out of the mouth last night of Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. The Democrats’ nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, wants to do away with the Second Amendment, he said, and by gosh-and-by-darn, he won’t let that happen.

The pro-gun-rights lobby has been saying the same thing about President Obama. They said it about the first President Clinton, and about President Carter, President Johnson and President Kennedy.

What do all these pols have in common? They’re all Democrats, the gun-hating, squishy liberal political party that wants to disarm Americans and leave us vulnerable to a government takeover of all our rights.

If any of that were true, wouldn’t any one of those aforementioned individuals have done so already?

Of course not!

They can’t. Congress won’t allow it. The gun lobby — which has sunk its teeth deeply into lawmakers’ necks — won’t allow it. The Constitution won’t allow it.

Yet the fear-mongering continues — as it did from the podium on the final night Wednesday at the Republican National Convention.

I do believe there are ways to regulate firearms a bit more tightly while remaining faithful to the Second Amendment. The merchants of fear, though — now led by Donald Trump — won’t allow it.

President speaks eloquently at memorial

memorial

President Barack Obama delivered a touching tribute today to slain Dallas police officers.

The president, along with Vice President Joe Biden and former President George W. Bush, was among the dignitaries lined up on the stage paying tribute to the men who were gunned down by the shooter this past Thursday.

He spoke of their dedication to duty, of their families’ bravery and of the officers’ devotion to protecting the very people who were protesting activities of their fellow brothers and sisters in uniform.

But then he veered briefly into a realm where I wish he hadn’t gone.

He talked about the ease of buying a Glock pistol.

Sigh …

I have noted in a couple of earlier blog posts that a memorial service paying tribute to the five brave police officers was not the place to politicize a message. I guess the president didn’t read my blog, let alone take my advice.

Did it diminish his tribute to the men who died in the line of duty?

Not to my ears — although I am absolutely certain more critical observers will say quite the opposite.

I get that Barack Obama has done this kind of speech-making too many times already during his presidency. I believe in the sincerity of his expression of grief over the victims of this kind of violence.

I also am glad he went to Dallas to hug the victims’ families, and to offer support for the beleaguered and grief-stricken city.

The healing of the city’s wounds, though, is just beginning.

Let it continue to restore a great American city’s sense of self.