Tag Archives: gun control

What? Lt. Gov. Patrick and NRA locked in a feud?

Hell must have frozen over during the night. Or … the sun rose in the west. Or …  something else totally out of the ordinary occurred.

I see that Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association are supposedly feuding because Patrick has planted himself in favor of background checks on firearms transactions conducted between strangers.

That isn’t exactly a revolutionary notion. However, it marks at least a slight crack in the Texas Republican Party’s snuggly relationship with the NRA.

The nation’s premier gun owner lobby calls Lt. Gov. Patrick’s idea a “political gambit.” It says he seeks to “resurrect the same broken” policies pushed by the Obama administration.

The Texas Tribune reports: “In Texas, person-to-person sales of firearms do not require background checks, but after two mass shootings in Texas in less than a month — in El Paso and Midland-Odessa — the lieutenant governor has openly supported closing the supposed loophole. President Donald Trump also has endorsed the idea.” 

I need someone to explain to me why this is a bad idea. It isn’t, as far as I am concerned. It’s a small step. However, it might help prevent some idiot/moron/madman in the future from delivering the kind of misery that the two shooters delivered in El Paso and the Permian Basin. Not to mention what has happened over many decades in countless other communities across this nation.

Will the lieutenant governor stand firm? Will he be able to persuade Gov. Greg Abbott to join him in his feud? Or how about the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature, which sadly contains too many pro-NRA fanatics who are digging in against any measures to toughen gun purchases in the state?

Hold your ground, Lt. Gov. Patrick.

Gun violence now crosses a second issue of the day

When gun violence erupts in this country, Americans naturally get drawn into the ongoing debate over how to stem the scourge of such insane acts.

More gun control? More guns? Longer waiting periods? No waiting periods? 

Now, though, the issue has crossed another issue line of demarcation.

How would building a wall along our nation’s southern border stop home-grown terrorists from erupting?

A corn-fed young American man killed three people at a food festival in Gilroy, Calif.; one of the victims was a 6-year-old boy, another was a teenage girl. Twelve more were injured in the melee. The shooter — whom the police shot to death — was not from south of the border. He wasn’t a Mexican gang member, nor did he hail from Central America. The shooter was far from the kind of individual that Donald Trump once said is being “sent” into our country “by Mexico.”

This lunatic was one of ours. He was one of us. He was just like any one of the other home-grown idiots who decide to open fire with an “assault weapon.”

These political calculations are becoming too complex for many of us. Count me as one who is getting mighty confused over how to handle this latest tragedy.

How will this latest spasm of violence play out?

They’re still scrambling in Gilroy, Calif. A mass shooting has occurred at a food festival in that picturesque town.

I’m still awaiting word on the number of victims or the nature of their injuries. I do pray there is no tragedy unfolding.

But already I am waiting to hear how the federal government is going to respond to this event. Yes, the feds need to take an interest in this. Gun violence is a national scourge. This latest event simply is a continuation of what has become a too-common event in this country.

I am going to pray for the victims. I also am going to pray for the cops to get the shooter or shooters involved in this latest spasm of violence.

And, Mr. President? What say you about this?

‘Litmus test’ must not be a four-letter word

I have long wondered why the term “litmus test” has become a sort of plague to politicians running for offices that hold the power of appointment.

The U.S. Supreme Court, for instance, is going to become a key issue in the 2020 presidential campaign. Namely, the issue will revolve a potential appointment of the next justice on the nine-member court.

The expected Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, will insist he would appoint justices with a record of favoring pro-life litigants who would come before his or her court. Indeed, he’s already got two judicial appointments on the SCOTUS and they certainly seem to fit the bill prescribed by what Trump has said.

The large field of Democratic Party candidates will argue to a person that they want judicial candidates who take a more expansive view of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

But no one says they will apply a “litmus test” to determine who they intend to nominate the highest court in the nation.

They dance all over and around the issue. Litmus tests exist on all sorts of issues. They involve capital punishment, sentencing guidelines, drug policy, firearm ownership and, yes, abortion.

We know the types of individuals that presidents would nominate. They telegraph that punch before they deliver it. However, we refuse to hold them accountable on whether they are applying litmus tests on the individuals they are considering for these appointments.

U.S. senators who have the right to confirm or deny these appointments often make their decisions on single issues. Yet they won’t ever acknowledge they have applied a litmus test to the nominee, indicating whether they pass or fail the exam.

This is a circuitous way of saying, I suppose, that we apply litmus tests at every turn.

Why not, then, just call them what we know them to be?

Gun control, gun-owners’ rights: not mutually exclusive

When the shooter blasted his way through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day, the debate over gun control erupted.

When another shooter massacred those worshipers at Tree of Life synagogue just the other day, the gun control debate has barely scored a blip.

What’s up here? Don’t tell me the issue is dead and buried. It’s not.

The Tree of Life loon opened fire with an AR-15 semi-auto rifle, killing 11 Jewish congregants in what’s being called a hate crime. It is similar to an M-16 military rifle, with this exception: The M-16 has a switch that can make it a fully automatic machine gun; the AR-15 doesn’t have it.

I happen to believe in the Second Amendment, the one that says a citizen’s right to “keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” That all said and understood, I do not believe that the right to keep and bear arms precludes reasonable gun control legislation that keeps faith with the Second Amendment.

I few gun control legislation and gun owners’ rights the same way I view the biblical theory of creation and the theory of evolution. Neither the biblical version of Earth’s creation or Charles Darwin’s evolutionary notion are mutually exclusive … if you conclude — as I do — that Earth wasn’t created in six calendar days.

The Second Amendment has wiggle room within it, I believe, to allow for legislation that makes it more difficult for criminals or those with emotional or mental issues to acquire a firearm. Those so-called impediments to “law-abiding citizens'” rights need not apply if the legislation is applied and enforced strictly.

Yet the gun-owners-rights lobby argues that the Second Amendment, as it was written in the late 18th century, is sacrosanct. It is virtually the holy word, much like the Bible. Don’t mess with it in any fashion, they say.

I will argue that if there is a sacrosanct amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it isn’t the Second … it’s the First Amendment. Religious freedom, the right to express one’s views and a free press must not be trifled with.

The Second Amendment doesn’t take into account the evolution of weaponry since the time that the founders wrote it.

I am never going to call for the abolition of the Second Amendment, I continue to believe it can be amended, improved and made more reasonable — while keeping faith with its pledge to permit firearm ownership to U.S. citizens.

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?