Tag Archives: gun control

Gun violence action on tap?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden wouldn’t seem to need any lectures on the limits of executive power. So it makes sense to me that a planned executive order that seeks to stem gun violence is being done with all due diligence on its legality.

Let’s all stay tuned for Biden’s announcement set for Thursday in which he will invoke an executive order that sets stricter regulations on something called “ghost guns” and implements more stringent background checks on those who want to purchase a firearm.

Congress, to no one’s surprise, is dawdling on legislative remedies in the wake of recent Atlanta and Boulder massacres that left 20 people dead. Republicans are resisting any effort to tighten the rules for purchase. Democrats need 10 GOP senators to help them end an expected Republican filibuster.

The Hill newspaper reports: Advocacy groups, including Brady, Giffords, Everytown and parents of victims of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, have met with Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and Biden adviser Cedric Richmond in recent weeks.

Anti-gun violence advocates, including some who attended meetings with Biden officials, told The Hill in February that, through executive order, Biden could eliminate ghost guns by defining what constitutes a gun.

The term ghost guns refers to guns available for purchase, typically without a background check or a serial number, that are not fully finished or may have a missing part.

Biden expected to announce executive action on guns | TheHill

Does any of this violate the Second Amendment constitutional provision that allows Americans to “keep and bear arms?” Hardly.

Motor vehicles are heavily regulated, too

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A fascinating item showed up this morning on my Facebook news feed that tells us that they’ve been regulating automobiles for decades, but that “no one has taken our cars away.”

Well …

What do you think of that? I happen to think it is a relevant statement in light of the building debate — yet again — over whether there can be sensible, constitutional gun regulations in this country.

The discussion has flared once more in light of two horrific massacres, in Atlanta and then in Boulder, Colo. Eighteen people died in the carnage.

President Biden has called for an outright ban on assault weapons and for universal background checks on every human being who wants to purchase a firearm. Make ’em wait for, oh, three days before being cleared to walk away with a gun.

Is that reasonable? I believe it is. I mean, if you’re a “law-abiding citizen” of the United States of America, you shouldn’t worry one little bit about waiting for three whole days or so to get your gun. Right?

Does that take away anyone’s Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms”? I don’t think so, but yet the gun lobby is reigniting the scare campaign that suggests these notions are attempts to take guns away from Americans.

No! They are nothing of the kind! They are initiatives intended to make it just a little more difficult for lunatics to purchase firearms.

As the social media message points, we have been regulating automobile ownership for decades. We have to have insurance. We have to be licensed by the state where we live. If we drive without a license and are caught by police, we can be thrown in jail. If we are involved in an auto wreck and we aren’t properly insured, we also can be jailed, and fined, and held liable for thousands of dollars in medical expenses.

Look along our streets and highways and tell me if you think there’s been a decline in motor vehicle traffic.

Nor would there be a decline in firearms among law-abiding citizens if we attach a few more sensible rules for their purchase.

Abbott vs. O’Rourke in ’22?

Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/REX/Shutterstock 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gosh, we just finished a contentious presidential election that produced a violent transition of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Now it’s time to look just a bit ahead to 2022 and what is shaping up here in Texas. A potential donnybrook between Gov. Greg Abbott and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke.

Oh, boy. Pass the popcorn.

O’Rourke spilled some of the beans when he told an El Paso radio station that he might run for governor in 2022, seeking to generate the excitement he ginned up when he almost defeated U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. Unfortunately for O’Rourke, the Texas buzz didn’t play on the national stage as he sought the presidency in 2020; he dropped out early from the Democratic Party primary contest.

He did make some news, though, he declared “Hell yes,” he intends to take away people’s AR-15 assault weapons.

Abbott wasted no time capitalizing on that exclamation, declaring that O’Rourke would seek to do that very thing in gun-loving Texas if he is elected governor.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “You’re talking about a person who says they want to run for governor who said, ‘Heck yes,’ he’s gonna come and take your guns,” Abbott said, referring to O’Rourke’s 2019 embrace of a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons. “Heck yes, he’s for open borders. Heck yes, he’s for killing the energy sector and fossil fuels in the state of Texas. I don’t think that’s gonna sell real well.”

Greg Abbott, Beto O’Rourke trade barbs over talk of 2022 governor’s race | The Texas Tribune

Here we go. The demagoguery has begun in earnest. Open borders? Killing the fossil fuel energy sector? Does the governor of this state have that kind of exclusive power? Um … no.

As for the gun buyback, the governor cannot do that by himself, either. No governor is “gonna come and take your guns.”

I do hope to see an Abbott-O’Rourke contest in 2022, even if it includes the frightening rhetoric we’re already getting.

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?