Tag Archives: Las Vegas massacre

Setting the record straight on Trump critiques

I feel the need to mount a brief self-defense.

Some folks on my social media network have accused me of being perpetually negative toward Donald J. Trump. That is not true.

I pledged when Trump became president of the United States that I would praise him when he did something praiseworthy. Yes, those events have been limited, but I believe I have been faithful to my pledge. For instance:

* I praised Trump’s signing of a bill that made it easer for whistleblowers to rat out wrongdoing within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

* Trump drew praise from yours truly for launching the missile strikes against Syria after the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its citizens, killing many civilians.

* The president and the first lady earned kudos from me when they went to Houston after Hurricane Harvey savaged the Texas coast.

* I offered a follow-up comment on the president taking selfies with victims of Harvey’s wrath, showing a glint of humanity.

* I offered a good word for Trump when he went to Las Vegas recently to lend aid and comfort to the victims of that horrific massacre while offering words of support to the first responders who acted so heroically.

One critic of this blog calls me “bitter” over Hillary’s loss to Trump; another critic thinks all “liberals” look for reasons to speak ill of the president, and he thinks I’m one of ’em.

I’m not bitter. Disappointed, yes. As for looking for reasons to criticize Donald Trump, I never have to hunt for them. They do seem to present themselves with stunning regularity.

So … there you have it. The president has earned praise from yours truly. I want to offer more. First, though, he’s got to earn it.

‘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?

Let’s get real: mend, not end, 2nd Amendment

I’m hearing a lot of chatter throughout my social media network about how the United States should end the carnage of gun violence.

Las Vegas’s tragedy has awakened us yet again to this horrifying aspect of modern American society. Fifty-eight victims, all attending a music festival, were shot to death in an act of insanity by a monster perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. Five hundred-plus more were injured; some of them are in critical condition.

The debate has been joined throughout many social and other media.

I am hearing significant chatter about how Australia managed to clamped down on firearm ownership in the wake of a 1996 mass shooting. The Aussies have been massacre-free ever since. Other countries prohibit the purchase of firearms. Let’s model our firearm policy after those countries, the argument goes.

I happen to believe in the Second Amendment, awkward phrasing and all. I believe it says that Americans have the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.” I get that.

However, I also believe there must be a solution to improving the Second Amendment. How can we preserve its principle while legislating within its framework stricter laws that make it illegal for civilians to own fully automatic assault weapons like the one used in Las Vegas by that madman? Isn’t there a solution to be found somewhere, somehow, by someone smart enough to draft a law that maintains the Second Amendment principle of keeping and bearing arms?

As my friend Jon Mark Beilue has noted in a wonderful column published today in the Amarillo Globe-News, other amendments in the Bill of Rights have limitations. He cites the First, Fifth and Sixth amendments. The Second Amendment, though, remains untouchable mostly because of entrenched political interests groups — I’m talking about you, National Rifle Association, among others — who bully and pressure members of Congress to keep their hands off that amendment.

Check out Beliue’s essay here.

Can we get past the overheated rhetoric that flares up when these tragedies strike? If we can, then perhaps we can find a solution to mend the Second Amendment. Don’t tell me that such a reach is beyond our collective grasp.

President delivers consolation

Dear Mr. President …

There. That’s how you do it, sir. You go to a stricken community and you speak solemnly and you offer words of comfort, sorrow and support.

The residents of Las Vegas, indeed the entire nation, are grieving. You spoke to our collective grief today in the wake of the madman’s onslaught Sunday night.

Yes, you surely heard the criticism of your Puerto Rico visit, where millions of other Americans also are grieving — although for entirely different reasons. They faced nature’s wrath in the form of Hurricane Maria. They are hurting, but your remarks there seemed strange, petty and callow. A couple of those photo ops seemed, uh, rather weird. You might want to consider explaining what the paper towel-tossing event was supposed to symbolize.

You then had the chance today deliver another message to our fellow Americans in Las Vegas. I am heartened that you stepped up and said what needed to be said.

I’ll give you a pass for not talking about gun control today. That wasn’t your mission and I understand that. I hope you get around to engaging seriously with all Americans on this matter, even as many of them already have begun debating that issue among themselves.

Today was your time to fulfill your role as comforter in chief. You did that today in Las Vegas. You were right to say, “We cannot be defined by the evil that threatens us or the violence that incites such terror.” Mr. President, we can be defined instead by the heroes of all stripes who rushed to the aid of others stricken by the madman’s evil act.

This is what presidents do, sir. Circumstances sometimes compel you to perform these extraordinary duties. You did so today, Mr. President.

It’s the ‘optics’ that keep bedeviling the president

Donald J. Trump had to know about the damage done by his long-distance feud with San Juan, P.R., Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

The president surely knew it would be better for him to make nice with the mayor who he had criticized for her “poor leadership” after she criticized the federal response to Puerto Rico’s suffering in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s savage beating.

I fear he didn’t act on that when he went to Puerto Rico. He engaged in at least one peculiar public-relations stunt when he was video recorded tossing rolls of paper towels at a crowd of well-wishers. Someone will have to explain to me what that was supposed to tell us about the president’s concern for those U.S. citizens who are suffering from the hurricane’s devastation.

Then he sat in a meeting with local officials — which included Mayor Cruz — and said that Puerto Rico has cost the United States “billions of dollars, but that’s all right.” I heard that and thought, “Huh?”

The president keeps fluffing this part of his job description, the one that labels him “comforter in chief.”  He’s not making the grade.

President Reagan donned that mantle perfectly after the shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986; President Clinton did it as well in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995; and of course, President Bush stood in the Twin Tower rubble, bullhorn in hand after 9/11, and said “the world will hear all of us soon.”

And can anyone forget the sight of President Obama leading a church congregation in a rendition of “Amazing Grace” at the memorial for the victims of the Charleston, S.C., massacre?

Trump hasn’t yet been able to demonstrate the capacity he needs to show in these times of intense national grief.

Puerto Ricans are suffering. Yet the president treats his visit there like some sort of performance on his part.

He’ll get another chance on Wednesday when he flies to Las Vegas. He’ll get an opportunity to show Americans he cares about that community’s suffering after the madman opened fire at the hotel and casino, killing 59 people and injuring 500-plus more in a hail of automatic weapon fire.

Do you have faith that the president will become comforter in chief?

Me, neither.

‘Even the loons’ deserve to have guns?

Bill O’Reilly isn’t on TV much these days but he still has quite a following around the nation.

I feel the need, therefore, to challenge an assertion that the former TV host made in a blog post he wrote about the Second Amendment, the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of Americans to “keep and bear arms.” He said the Las Vegas massacre this weekend is the “price of freedom” and said the “Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons.”

Even the loons?

No, Bill. The loons might have that right currently, but they do not deserve the same rights to own firearms for protection.

This cuts pretty close to the heart of a debate that’s going to rage across the nation in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre that killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others. The gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel onto a floor filled with concert goers who were listening to a concert performance by country music star Jason Aldean.

The debate over the Second Amendment has commenced, despite what White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said today about it being “too early” to have this national discussion.

Price of freedom?

I have no specific answers to the changing the status quo. I do believe in the Second Amendment. I believe Americans’ right to own firearms should remain. However, I continue to believe that there must be some additional controls placed on those who purchase firearms to do something to keep them out of the hands of people like the Las Vegas gunman.

There are limits on certain elements of the First Amendment; you can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater, nor can you slander or libel someone. Yet, there are those who contend that the Second Amendment must remain untouched from what the founders wrote in the 18th century. 

I won’t accept that notion. Surely there can be a way to craft reasonable restrictions on the purchase of firearms that seek to keep them from nut jobs like the guy who opened fire in Las Vegas.

And, no, I am acutely aware that no additional law is going to deter every single monster from obtaining a weapon, just as laws against murder haven’t eliminated that crime from occurring.

As we move forward with this discussion, my hope is that we can find a way to keep this debate as calm as possible and look as dispassionately as we can at alternatives to the status quo.

Mounting a small form of protest over shooting violence

My head continues to spin. My gut continues to roil in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre.

I have no answers. I have no solutions. Plenty of questions abound. They are overwhelming. The nation faces yet another daunting task in debating and discussing how to end this spasm of gun violence.

My own recourse is limited. I run this blog. I use it to comment on issues of the day. I also am able to use it to mount a form of protest.

I continue using High Plains Blogger to offer a voice against gun violence.

Some time ago, probably two or three gun massacres ago, I decided to quit referencing shooters by name. I’m doing so with the Las Vegas madman. Yes, the shooter is dead; he killed himself as police were closing in on his Mandalay Bay hotel room.

My protest of omission won’t affect this monster. He is burning in hell somewhere, along with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter, the Columbine High School shooters, the University of Texas Tower gunman, and any of the other seemingly countless list of mass murderers. When the Army major who killed all those folks in Killeen, Texas, or when the Charleston, S.C., church murderer get put down, they’ll join them all in hell.

My type of protest won’t solve any problems. It won’t bring any solutions. It only gives me a tiny scintilla of satisfaction that I won’t publish their names here, committing them to some form of blogosphere immortality.