Tag Archives: gun owners rights

Bump stocks gone! May they never return!

The Donald Trump administration has banned bump stocks.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of the administration’s decision.

On that small but important score, we’ve made our society a little safer from extreme gun violence.

Bump stocks were thrust into our national conscience when a gunman opened fire in Las Vegas, Nev., killing 59 country music festival attendees. The moron used a weapon that had been turned into a fully automatic machine gun with a bump stock, a device one can attach to these weapons.

There can be only one reason to attack a bump stock on a weapon such as the one used by lunatic who opened fire in Las Vegas: it is to turn that weapon into a killing machine.

The Supreme Court had received an appeal from gun-owner rights groups that wanted the court to overturn the ban that took effect this week. The court said “no” to their appeal.

This is a good thing for Americans who are concerned about the spasm of gun violence that has become all too commonplace in our society.

Does this ban prohibit hunters, target shooters or those who just collect firearms from pursuing their right to “keep and bear arms” in accordance with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

Not in the least.

Instead, it allows law enforcement authorities and the courts to sentence individuals to prison terms of as long as 10 years while paying fines of as much as $100,000. No one’s rights are compromised.

It goes to show you that, yes, we can impose reasonable restrictions on these weapons without endangering the Second Amendment.

Texas GOP is eating its own

The Texas Republican Party used to be represented among its elected officials as an organization dedicated to low taxes, local control and individual liberty. There was little else at the top of the party’s agenda.

That’s no longer the case. It now gets involved in issues such as use of public restrooms, school vouchers and whether we should allow prayer in public school classrooms.

I mention this in light of the recent tumult involving two key Texas Republicans: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Sen. Kel Seliger.

Patrick has kicked Seliger, of Amarillo, out of the chairmanship of two Senate committees and removed him from membership on two others. Seliger didn’t like one of the chairmanships he got, said something to a radio talk show host and then got the boot from that chairmanship.

Patrick blames Seliger’s impolite remarks about a key Patrick aide; Seliger blames the tempest on the vast differences in the two men’s approach to government. Spoiler alert: I am going to side with Seliger on this one.

Which brings me to a key point. I once wondered aloud whether Seliger has a place in today’s Texas GOP. I posited the notion that the party has moved away from the senator’s more pragmatic approach to government. Given the rigid ideology that at times drives Patrick’s legislative agenda, I am thinking once again that might be the case.

The closest thing I can find in Seliger’s political portfolio that might tilt him toward a “socially conservative” viewpoint is his strong support for gun owners’ rights. He calls himself a proud member of the National Rifle Association. The rest of his legislative political career has focused more on the value of public education, on keeping our tax burden low, fighting for private property ownership, issues that matter to the rural West Texans who help re-elect him to the Senate every four years.

Patrick well might believe in all that, too, but he goes a whole lot farther than Seliger does. He pushed that idiotic Bathroom Bill through the Senate in 2017, only to watch it die in the House when then-Speaker Joe Straus declared it dead on arrival. The bill would have required transgender individuals to use public restrooms in accordance to their gender at birth. Discrimination, anyone?

That’s the kind of nonsense that seems to drive so many Texas Republicans in public office these days. I don’t believe Seliger — whom I have known well for the past 24 years — buys into that agenda.

So these two men have butted heads.

Patrick presides over the Senate. He can assign or un-assign senators to whichever committees he chooses.

Sen. Seliger calls himself a proud Republican. I believe he does so with sincerity. The problem, as I see it, is whether the GOP leadership is aligned with this good man’s practical sense of government’s reach and its limitation. I fear it isn’t.

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.

Filibuster ends; now, let’s go on the record on guns

Chris Murphy has declared a form of victory in his effort to enact gun-control legislation.

The junior U.S. senator from Connecticut, though, likely won’t be able to win the proverbial “war” against his colleagues who oppose him.

He spoke for 15 hours on the floor of the Senate, ending his filibuster at 2 a.m. As he yielded the floor to Republicans, he said he received assurance that the Senate will vote on whether to approve expanded background checks and to ban gun sales to suspected terrorists.

I will concede that the background check idea is a bit problematical for the Democratic senator. Opponents of expanding those checks contend that those who buy guns already are subjected to them.

It’s the other one, the terrorist element, that puzzles me.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/dem-senator-wages-filibuster-claims-progress-on-gun-control/ar-AAh6MfJ?li=BBnb7Kz

Congressional Republicans so far have opposed the ban on gun sales to individuals on federal no-fly lists. That’s right. Someone who isn’t allowed to board a commercial airliner because of suspected terrorist affiliation can purchase a gun. Wow, man.

Murphy was moved, obviously, by the slaughter in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend — and by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School four years ago in his home state of Connecticut.

I own two weapons. I understand what the Second Amendment says — I think. I hesitate only because, in my view, the Founders wrote it badly.

Sen. Murphy’s filibuster is supposed to lead now to a Senate vote on these two critical issues: background checks and no-fly list bans.

He isn’t likely to win the day on these votes, given that the Senate is controlled by Republicans who, in turn, appear to be controlled by the gun lobby.

President Barack Obama acknowledged the other day that these measures won’t stop all future acts of gun violence. They might prevent some of them. Isn’t there some value in that?

Let’s put all senators on the record. Do you favor these measures that, in my view, retain the Second Amendment right to gun ownership, or do you oppose them?

Are all rights absolute?

barack

Barack Obama made a number of interesting points today as he laid out his strategy to use his executive authority to reduce gun violence.

One of them dealt with the First Amendment and whether we should treat it as an absolute right. Yes, the president said, we have the right of free speech, but we cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theater.

We also have the right to religious freedom, but the law prohibits human sacrifice.

The Second Amendment is seen by many in this country as being an absolute right. The men who wrote the constitutional amendment meant that all Americans had the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Sure thing. I, too, have read the amendment and I get it.

I keep asking, though: Aren’t there measures that we can take that regulate the sale of these weapons while protecting the integrity of the Second Amendment? Gun-owner-rights groups — namely the National Rifle Association — keep insisting that the two principles are mutually exclusive. You can’t regulate firearms in any manner without watering down the Second Amendment, they say.

I guess I’ll just have to disagree with such a notion.

President Obama isn’t seeking to “legislate” through executive order, as his critics suggest he’s seeking to do. He has a team of constitutional lawyers who are advising him on what he can do legally. He wants to make it tougher for criminals or mentally disturbed individuals to put their hands on firearms and said today he has no intention of stripping law-abiding Americans of their constitutional right to own a gun.

Doesn’t that goal protect the amendment while trying to make the nation safer from bad guys with guns?

 

Your guns are safe … honest

Given that social media commentary becomes part of the public domain once it’s posted, I want to share a thought from a friend of mine who put this out there.

“Is it just me, or did I miss the President saying he wanted to confiscate all guns? No one wants your f****** guns!!!! What I want is a conversation of whether or why gun violence is an epidemic in this country and what we can do about it. For beginners, you folks on the other side need to convince me why adding more guns is the answer. And I’m skeptical about defending yourself from the government, because right now quite frankly some gun owners scare me a helluva lot more than the government. Thanks for listening.”

My friend is a lawyer. He’s a smart fellow — and not just because I happen to agree with him.

Gun-rights advocates keep saying things that aren’t true, starting with their false claims that President Obama wants to take our guns away from us. After that, the lies spin off into fairy tales about martial law, seeking to suspend the Constitution and a conspiracy to get Barack Obama elected to a third consecutive term.

Another friend of mine actually told me — to my face — that he believes the third-term conspiracy actually has merit. I laughed out loud.

My friend’s request is a reasonable one, which is to have a rational conversation about whether there’s a way to stem the flow of guns in our society without doing harm to the Second Amendment, the one that guarantees Americans the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Can’t we have that conversation without the crazy talk that comes mostly from one side proclaiming that it’s all a plot to take away our guns?