Tag Archives: NRA

Parkland deputy faces serious neglect charge

There have been so many spasms of gun violence erupting with such regularity, one occasionally loses sight of prior incidents that shock a nation.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, Fla., is one event I admit has gotten past me.

Until this week!

A former sheriff’s deputy who was on duty when the madman opened fire at the high school now faces 11 felony charges of child neglect. What’s the basis for the accusation? Scot Peterson did not enter the high school building when shots began echoing through the halls. He waited outside. He didn’t confront the shooter.

Peterson was assigned to the high school as a “resource officer” by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. He’s not the first law enforcement officer to be punished. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was elected this past November, replaced Sheriff Scott Israel over his handling of the massacre.

Now there are criminal charges pending against the deputy who was on the scene.

The Parkland tragedy that left 17 victims dead has spurred a vigorous debate in Florida and across the nation over how to stem the gun violence that seems to erupt with far too much regularity. Many of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students have become celebrities as they have become outspoken advocates for stricter gun regulations.

Now comes this attempt at holding someone accountable for the tragedy that broke the nation’s heart.

Peterson has said he acted properly to the tragedy that exploded 16 months ago. That now remains to be seen in court, presuming this case goes to trial.

I just am struck by all the tributes that pour forth when these events occur. They are directed at the first responders, some of whom have sacrificed their lives while ensuring the safety of other victims. We praise these men and women without reservation.

Scot Peterson, according to the video many of us have seen, hunkered down away from the danger. My gut tells me he has earned the scorn of a community he swore to protect — and of the nation that had its heart broken by yet another act of senseless violence.

How does the NRA defend this?

Here’s a statistic that makes me quake.

The United States of America experienced 288 school shootings since 2009. The punchline? That number is 57 times greater than six other industrialized nations combined.

The other nations measured were the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Canada.

Fifty-seven times greater!

Jaw-dropping, yes?

And yet . . .

Gun-rights groups led by the National Rifle Association continue to tell us that we cannot enact constitutional legislation that would somehow stem that terrible tide. How in the name of good government does the NRA defend this view?

I don’t have a legislative cure in mind. Congress cannot muster up the guts to enact universal background checks for every individual who purchases a firearm. Why? Well, I have concluded that the NRA has bullied members into cowering away from taking any measures that would make it harder to buy a gun.

I will not accept the notion that any legislation would violate the Second Amendment guarantee citizens’ right to “keep and bear arms.”

Yet the demagogues keep yammering about how politicians are intent on “destroying” the Second Amendment, how they are dedicated to “taking your guns away.”

They are wrong.

The statistic about the number of school shootings tells me that we have to stop the bloodbath. I mean, Donald Trump pledged during inaugural speech to stop “this American carnage.”

Yes. It needs to stop. Now!

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.

Guns make us bite our tongue

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — A long time passed from when the Texas Legislature voted to allow open carry of firearms before I saw someone actually packing a pistol on his hip.

My wife and I were returning to Fairview today after spending some time in our RV in Amarillo when we walked into one of our favorite eating places in Wichita Falls. We wanted to grab a quick bite before heading on down the highway toward home.

A couple was disciplining a youngster a few tables away. The gentleman was particularly loud in seeking to get the boy to settle down. He has one of those annoying voices that we would have heard even if the eatery was packed wall to wall with customers.

I mentioned the grating sound of the guy’s voice to my wife, who then informed me, “Yes, and he’s carrying a gun, too.”

I shot a glance over my shoulder at the guy. Sure enough, there it was. In plain sight. Some kind of high-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Then it occurred to me: Just as concealed carry laws have made motor vehicle drivers a bit more circumspect with other drivers who cut them off in traffic — at least that’s my view — open carry laws damn sure would prevent someone from speaking out against someone who, um, is bellowing to a youngster.

I didn’t think of saying anything to this guy. But what if someone else on the other side of the table heard him and decided to confront him over the tone of voice he was using to calm the little boy down?

Having seen the firearm on this guy’s hip, I know I’d never say a word to the guy.

As for whether my wife and I will frequent this eating establishment in the future, that’s another matter altogether. I prefer to enjoy a meal in an establishment where guns are prohibited.

Please, let’s not arm teachers

We’re heading into another “national conversation” about how to make our schools safer, about how to protect our children from gunmen who open fire in public school classrooms.

Santa Fe High School in Galveston County, Texas, has become the latest — and certainly not the last — flashpoint in that discussion.

Ten people are dead and 10 more are injured. A student has been taken into custody and has been charged with capital murder. He faces the death penalty if he’s convicted.

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, vowed to make our “schools safer.” Yes, Mr. President, we’re all for it.

Does that include arming teachers? For the umpteenth time, this blogger wants to say not just “no,” but “hell no!”

I am at a loss as to what the solution is. I remain convinced that there can be a legislative remedy found that keeps faith with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am not smart enough to concoct a solution from this keyboard.

However, I merely want to implore the president and other public officials to steer far, far away from a discussion about putting guns in teachers’ hands.

The National Rifle Association keeps harping on the notion that “the only way to protect us from bad guys with guns is to put guns in the hands of good guys.”

So, that’s the answer? The way to end gun violence is to put more guns out there? Such nonsense makes me want to scream.

I do not want to hear that. Instead, I want to hear some possible solutions that place reasonable — and constitutional — restrictions on individuals capable of doing harm to the rest of us.

Oklahoma governor going out with ‘a bang’ … so to speak

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is a lame duck chief exec who appears to have discovered the joy of not having to face special interest groups as she tries to get re-elected.

Gov. Fallin, a Republican, vetoed a bill that came to her desk that would have allowed Oklahomans to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, meaning they needed no training of any sort to pack heat amongst the rest of us.

Good … for … her!

The only stipulation in the bill she vetoed that was worth a damn was that the heat packers couldn’t have been convicted felons.

To no one’s surprise, the National Rifle Association is mad as hell at Fallin, who is term-limited from seeking another term as governor. The NRA pledges to help elect the next governor who, the organization hopes, will allow this ridiculous piece of legislation to become law.

But do you know who’s happy about it, aside from rank-and-file citizens who opposed this monstrosity? Law enforcement officers! The cops didn’t want Fallin to sign the bill. State and local police associations urged Fallin to keep her signature off the legislation. She listened to them.

Their fears were well-founded. They just believe that concealed carry opportunities must come with some reasonable restrictions. Passing a rudimentary test after taking a basic course on firearms safety hardly constitutes a ham-fisted limitation on the rights of folks to “keep and bear arms.”

And to think the Legislature wanted to remove event that rule. Good grief.

Again … you go, Gov. Fallin!

Irony abounds in this NRA selection

Ohhh, the irony of it all.

Oliver North is set to become the next president of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s premier gun-rights advocacy group.

He’s a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who got caught up in a scandal that rocked the nation three decades ago.

The irony? Oh, it’s just that it involved sale of illegal weapons to our enemies in Iran, not to mention dealing with rebel fighters in Nicaragua.

North was accused of shading the truth and waffling on his explanation of what he was doing and for what purpose he was doing it.

It’s perfect, yes? He gets now to run the NRA, an organization with its share of critics who contend that the organization isn’t always truthful about its claims that more guns in the hands of more people create a safer society.

Sheesh!

Maybe it’s just plain karma that puts Oliver North in charge of the NRA. As Mother Jones notes: The Iran-Contra scandal was a dark episode, in which the US government hooked up with shady arms dealers and a variety of sleazy crooks and con men around the globe, including drug-runners. At a time when Nancy Reagan was promoting her “just say no” campaign, the secret operators of her husband’s administration were saying yes to a host of shady miscreants. And North was among those making common cause with criminals.

The NRA brand needs a lot of help in many political circles throughout the United States. Naming a fellow such as Oliver North as its next president doesn’t do a thing to improve the NRA’s image.

That’s just my view. I am quite certain others of a different political ilk believe quite differently.

2nd Amendment ‘under siege’? Oh, no it isn’t

Donald J. “Demagogue in Chief” Trump managed once again to inflame his political base with an assertion that he then contradicted in the very same sentence.

“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I am your president,” he said this week at the National Rifle Association annual conference in Dallas.

His speech was typically Trumpian in its lack of focus, its meandering course and the politically tinged remarks.

He went off on the economy, the “fake news” allegedly ignoring the good job growth and dwindling unemployment, the Robert Mueller probe into the “Russia thing.”

He did devote a bit of his rambling soliloquy to gun issues, which is why he was in Dallas in the first place. He said the NRA’s foes have laid siege to the Second Amendment, then said it wouldn’t happen as long as he is president.

Which is it, sir? Is it under siege or not?

The truth is this: There is no “siege” being waged against the Second Amendment. Sure, there are some Americans who want it repealed or significantly modified. Many other Americans, though, want to legislate remedies to the spasm of gun violence in this country without destroying the Second Amendment.

Poll after poll indicate that Americans favor some additional controls on gun purchases. Those polls do not suggest Americans want to limit “law-abiding” citizens’ constitutional rights to “keep and bear arms.”

Yet the president keeps yapping about some phony “siege” he says is being waged against the Second Amendment. That, I submit, is the rhetoric of a demagogue.

Perhaps it was just as well that Donald Trump devoted so little of his podium time in Dallas to gun issues, as it only would have exposed further the president’s stunning ability to speak out of both sides of his pie hole.

How do more guns make us safer?

I have been thinking for the past few days about my friend Martin, a journalist in Germany. He’s a family man with three young children.

Martin and I have had some stimulating talks over the years about U.S. politics and government. He knows this country far better than I know his native Germany.

I mention Martin today as the National Rifle Association is having its annual meeting in Dallas, which when you think about it is the perfect venue for the NRA, given that most Texans are flat-out, all-in supportive of the NRA’s political agenda.

Martin cannot grasp the notion that the NRA keeps pitching, which is — essentially — that more guns make us safer. He and I have talked about the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment. I have sought to explain the difficulty in amending an amendment in this country.

Germany has much stricter rules on gun ownership than we do. Martin buys into the German government’s view that the best way to prevent gun violence is to take guns away. It’s a simple proposition, as he sees it … although do not refer to my friend as “simplistic.” He is serious, intelligent and well-educated, as is his wife.

Although my friend and I disagree on the value on the Second Amendment to our national fabric — he thinks we ought to repeal it, while I do not — I do support his notion that more guns do not make us safer. More guns only exacerbate the crisis that has produced this plague of gun violence.

Accordingly, I continue to believe — the NRA’s view on the subject notwithstanding — that we can find a way to legislate tougher controls on gun purchases without emasculating the Second Amendment’s guarantee that the right to “keep and bear shall not be infringed.”

As for the NRA meeting in Dallas, I am quite certain that Donald J. Trump — who’s going to speak at the event — will warn the gun enthusiasts that if Democrats take control of Congress this year, “they’re going to take your guns away.”

Earth to The Donald: Democrats have controlled Congress and the presidency before. The guns haven’t gone anywhere.