Tag Archives: gun lobby

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.

‘Godless … hearts’ are a part of the gun violence ‘problem’

It didn’t take long for Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer to weigh in on what he said should not occur in the wake of the Odessa slaughter of seven people at the hands of a shooter.

The Tyler Republican said the state should not enact red flag rules, or ban high-capacity magazines or the sale or possession of AR-15 or AK-47 rifles, weapons of war designed to kill a maximum number of people in as little time as possible.

Oh, brother.

Schaefer is entitled to his opinion. I am entitled to mine as well.

I believe he is dead wrong. I also believe there are legislative remedies available to state legislatures and to Congress that can place additional restrictions on the purchase of these weapons without infringing on the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The shooter opened fire when a police officer pulled him over on a traffic stop. He then went on a rampage through Odessa before police killed him in a fire fight after stopping him outside of a movie theater.

Schaefer launched a Twitter thread that has gotten a good bit of resistance from Texas and around the nation. One of his entries included this: I say NO to “red flag” pre-crime laws. NO to universal background checks. NO to bans on AR-15s, or high capacity magazines. NO to mandatory gun buybacks.

Well, we know where he stands.

He added this item on the thread: YES to supporting our public schools. YES to giving every law-abiding single mom the right to carry a handgun to protect her and her kids without permission from the state, and the same for all other law-abiding Texans of age.

Texas already has lax gun restrictions. We allow residents to carry concealed weapons; they can carry them in the open. They can carry them on college campuses, in church sanctuaries.

This is the second mass slaughter in Texas in the past few weeks. I do not feel one bit safer now knowing that Texans can pack heat, giving them the opportunity to “prevent” this kind of madness.

Rep. Schaefer, we need to do something. Yes, “Godless hearts” are a problem, as Schaefer said. However, they are only part of the crisis that is enveloping the country.

When does the ‘American carnage’ stop, Mr. President?

It’s not too much to ask you, Mr. President, when you intend to deliver on that bold inaugural speech pledge you made.

You said “This American carnage stops right here, right now.” Do you remember that? Of course you do! You told us you have the “best brain” in human history.

That gunman went berserk in Odessa, Texas, today, Mr. President. He died apparently in a fire fight with police. Five more innocent victims are dead; 21 more are injured. I don’t know how many of the injured are suffering life-threatening wounds.

I also must bring up yet another declaration you made. You said at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, that “I, alone” can cure what ails the nation. I also am sure you remember that, too.

Well, gun violence is a serious national ailment, Mr. President … even though you decline to address the issue directly whenever these massacres occur. And, yes, I consider five fatalities to be a “massacre.”

We had 22 recently in El Paso; nine more died in Dayton, Ohio. Dozens more have died in cities and towns all across the nation. Those deaths have occurred since you took the oath as president and made the “American carnage” declaration from the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

I am not going to blame you directly for the deaths, Mr. President. I do, however, want you to use the immense power of your office’s bully pulpit to persuade Congress to act. I want you to state categorically that you will not tolerate gun violence. I want you to speak directly to the national crisis you said you could cure all by yourself.

I am in shock, right along with the rest of the country over what has just happened — yet again! — in West Texas.

The shootings never end

The Midland-Odessa area of West Texas has joined the growing roster of communities plagued by random, insane gun violence.

As I write this brief post, CNN reports that five people are dead. Two shooters opened fire randomly throughout the adjoining cities. One of them reportedly is dead, although the Midland Police Department says there are no “active shooters” on the loose.

Oh, this insanity has gotten way out of hand. It did so long, long ago.

Here is my question of the moment: Given that Texas is supposed to be a haven for law-abiding, gun-toting citizens with state-approved licenses to carry firearms under their jackets and in the open, why didn’t someone open fire on the shooter and stop the individual before all that mayhem occurred?

This is the argument we keep hearing from the gun lobby and others who contend that more guns “in the hands of good guys” make us safer. They’re supposed to protect us against these random monsters who keep slithering out from under the rocks to start shooting innocent victims.

Well, I guess we can have that discussion another time.

At this moment I am wondering yet again what in the world is happening to us, to our nation, to our civilization.

The nation is in shock … yet again.

Astonishing lethality in Dayton massacre!

If it’s true — and I believe it is — that Dayton, Ohio, police officers shot a gunman to death just 30 seconds after the first shots rang out in the city’s entertainment district, then we need to ponder a serious question.

How in the world did the shooter act with such lethal efficiency to kill nine people and injure many others in such a short amount of time?

More to the point, what kind of firepower was this moron packing before the cops “neutralized” in a hail of gunfire?

We’re talking about two horrific massacres in the span of hours this past weekend. A Wal-Mart shopping center in El Paso, Texas, was the scene of the slaughter of 22 people. Then came the Dayton tragedy later that evening.

The police were able to respond rapidly to the Dayton tragedy. They deserve the highest praise imaginable for acting as quickly and decisively as they did, gunning down a shooter who was dressed in body armor.

But still …

He was able to kill all those people in a mere blink of time!

To think, therefore, that many within the gun lobby resist efforts to legislate restrictions on the purchase and ownership of such weapons of mass destruction. What’s more, our political leaders knuckle under to their demands to keep their hands off inadequate existing laws.

Wow!

Is history about to repeat itself?

The comedian Bill Murray is old enough to remember the Vietnam War and the extreme tumult it created at home.

He writes that today’s uprising among young Americans reminds him of that earlier time, when young Americans marched in protest against a war that had become the classic quagmire.

According to CNN.com: “It was the students who made all the news, and that noise started, and then the movement wouldn’t stop,” he said. “I think, maybe, this noise that those students in Florida are making — here, today — will do something of the same nature.”

“Those students in Florida” have lit a spark among young people from coast to coast and all the areas in the middle of the country. A gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Fla. He killed 17 people, most of them students. Young Americans across the land are frightened about the prospect of gun violence erupting again and again.

They are going on a collective march Saturday. They’re calling it the “March For Our Lives.” It will be sweep across the nation. Amarillo will be one of the locations where young Americans will speak their mind, they will honor the victims who have fallen not just in Parkland, but in other venues for too long.

The Amarillo event will begin at noon Saturday at Ellwood Park and will wind its way to the Potter County Courthouse grounds. Students will call — they will demand — for action to be taken in Congress and in state legislatures. They want laws enacted that could deter future slaughters from occurring.

Prior mass murders — Columbine, Sandy Hook, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Orlando, Aurora — brought forth anger and misery. Presidents wept in public at the tragedy. Legislators introduced bills to be considered. But nothing happened.

Parkland appears to have been a more effective catalyst, or so it seems. It has produced a number of eloquent spokesmen and women, who happen to be among the younger generation of Americans. They are coming of age. Many of them already are eligible to vote and are pledging to use that power to bring the kind of change they seek in the halls of power.

Does that sound familiar? Sure it does. Bill Murray remembers how it was back in The Day, when young people marched along streets, demanding change in U.S. policy. That change came about largely because of those young Americans’ persistence.

The “March For Our Lives” can bring equally dramatic results. It will require an equal amount of persistence among those young people. It also will require that the rest of us pay attention.

‘March’ could signal a turning point for Panhandle

A lot of Texas Panhandle students, teachers, parents and just plain folks — and that includes yours truly — are hoping for a big weekend.

They’re going to gather around noon Saturday at Ellwood Park in downtown Amarillo. They’ll troop a few blocks east and a bit north to the Potter County Courthouse, where some of them are going to speak to what I hope is a large crowd of marchers and supporters.

It will be part of a national movement called “March For Our Lives.” Students all over America are organizing this event in their respective communities. Amarillo has joined them. Caprock High School students are taking the lead in organizing the local event.

Why is this potentially a big day? It could signal a serious turn in community attitudes about gun violence.

The “March” has been spurred by the Valentine’s Day slaughter in Parkland, Fla., of 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and staff members. The gunman is a former student who got expelled for bad behavior. Police arrested him and the local district attorney has charged him with 17 counts of murder. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty — even if the shooter pleads guilty in an effort to avoid a death sentence.

The Texas Panhandle isn’t known as a hotbed of progressive political thought. The majority of residents here make different political decisions; they support candidates who adhere to a more conservative view.

The “March” on Saturday well might produce a counter-demonstration or two. The marchers are going to lift their voices to seek legislative remedies in the Texas Legislature and in Congress that they hope could restrict the purchase of firearms.

I think it’s important to note that, as one of the Caprock HS student organizers said, this march isn’t intended to be an “anti-gun” protest. I am not hearing any organizers calling for repealing or a serious watering down of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. I am sure that pro-gun rights activists certainly see any change in gun laws as an erosion of Second Amendment rights.

The “March” is sure to embolden young people here and across this vast nation with a sense that their voices are being heard on an issue in which they have a direct stake. Indeed, they see themselves and their school-age brethren as being thrust in harm’s way.

They need to be heard. Let’s hope the rest of us hear them when they march through downtown Amarillo and plead for an end to the national scourge of gun violence.

Fewer guns make us safer, not more of them

I keep circling back to this point about allowing teachers to pack heat in the classroom: What if, in the case of a shooter opening fire, the teacher misses and hits another student with a stray bullet?

I heard a teacher today talk about that possibility. He packs a pistol in his boot and said he would shoot someone who entered his classroom “without hesitation.”

Then he said his worst fear is missing the shooter. “What if I hit a student?” he asked. Yes, what if?

Then he sought to justify it by suggesting it’s better for one student to die than many others, prompting my wife to say, “Sure thing, then tell that to the parents of the student.”

The Parkland, Fla., slaughter of 17 people has opened wide the national discussion about gun violence. I’m glad about that. It has produced some interesting proposals by the president of the United States, who is suggesting a law creating a 21-year-old minimum age for the purchase of a firearm. Donald Trump also has spoken favorably about arming teachers, saying that if the Parkland shooter had encountered a teacher with a gun, he wouldn’t have been stopped.

I cannot buy the notion that putting more guns into schools makes them a safer place. National Rifle Association boss Wayne LaPierre said arming teachers would “harden” schools as a target. I don’t buy that, either.

My biggest fear is what happens if a teacher doesn’t hit a shooter with a kill shot, or at least a round that disables him to where he can no longer fire a weapon? Does an enraged gunman keep shooting?

We won’t solve this matter on this blog. It’s just that the notion of arming teachers just doesn’t feel like a sensible solution to curbing the hideous recurrence of gun violence in our schools.

This is not a hallmark of a civilized society and it damn sure is no way to “make America great … again.”

Let ’em allow guns anywhere

This editorial cartoon appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and it speaks to an interesting irony about those who believe “more guns will keep us safe.”

The Conservative Political Action Conference, the Republican National Convention and the White House all prohibit guns. That’s fine with me.

The cartoon, though, does remind me of something a former boss of mine once asked a prominent Republican Texas senator before the Texas Legislature enacted a law allowing Texans to carry concealed handguns.

The 1995 Legislature approved a concealed-carry bill, which Gov. George W. Bush signed into law. The Amarillo Globe-News, where I worked, opposed the legislation and we editorialized against it. The publisher of the paper at the time was Garet von Netzer, as conservative a fellow as anyone I’ve ever known. He didn’t like the concealed-carry bill.

I’ll never forget the time von Netzer asked the late Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo, this question: “If you think it’s all right for people to carry guns under their jackets, why don’t you allow them to carry those guns onto the floor of the Legislature?” The Legislature chose then to ban guns inside the State Capitol Building.

I don’t recall Sen. Bivins’s answer.

Von Netzer’s question then seems totally appropriate today.

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.