Posts Tagged ‘guns’

Hogan

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

NRA , sorry kid (3)Bill Hogan

Is a Rational Debate on Guns Possible?

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre, NRA chief

By Bob Gaydos

Well, all it took for America to finally enter into a serious, rational discussion of gun control was for 20 kindergarten students to get gunned down in school by a troubled young man with an automatic weapon and lots of ammo. Who says we’ve become desensitized?

I mean, it is perfectly rational for the chairwoman of a legislative committee in Ulster County, N.Y., to argue against her state’s recently enacted tough gun control law by stating: “Genocide is almost always preceded by gun confiscation. History tells us that.” That’s rational isn’t it?

After all, that threat of government confiscation of guns is right out of the literature of the National Rifle Association, proud defender of all citizens’ rights, or at least those rights as the NRA interprets them in the Second Amendment. And genocide is not a loaded word meant to inspire fear in the minds of the less-informed members of the citizenry, is it?

Of course not. All the sturm und drung among self-declared fans of the Second Amendment — the marches and demonstrations and outraged letters to the editor — are, at least as the NRA sees it, justified sensible responses to proposals by President Barack Obama and countless political leaders around the country, including in New York, to rob them of their right to own as many guns as they want, of as many types, with as much ammo, and, truth be told, the right to carry them around anywhere they want, concealed or not, whenever they want.

Because you never know when the government is going to come after you. Hey, look at Ruby Ridge, right? Right. But setting aside the right or wrong of that incident for a moment, who won that particular shootout? And if the motivation for unfettered gun ownership is to protect citizens against their own government — as the NRA leadership often claims — how in the name of anything sane could a group of heavily armed citizens — of any size — prevail against the might of the American military with an even more unfettered access to weapons of every type? Forget the fact that most Americans have no real fear that their government is going to come after them armed to the teeth, most Americans also know that would be a losing battle.

That’s why they focus their energies in the gun control debate on such sensible proposals as requiring a background check for anyone who wants to buy a gun. All recent polls say roughly 90 percent of Americans favor this idea. That obviously includes many gun owners, but not the NRA leaders. And if they fear the government coming after their guns, why do roughly 70 percent of Americans favor creation of a federal database of gun sales? To make the FBI’s job easier? Actually, yes. Because it is the sane thing to do.

As support for gun control measures have gained strength in the wake of the ghastly shooting in Newtown, Conn., the arguments against more restrictions have grown increasingly strident and outrageous by some elements of the NRA.

This is a typical, fearful response. After years of bullying and cowing politicians with threats of political defeat, the NRA leadership is faced with a growing consensus of citizens — if not politicians — who are fed up with people claiming they have the right to carry AK-47s around in public, with lots of well-stocked magazines, because our Founding Fathers gave them that right. In fact, polls show 55 to 60 percent of Americans favor a ban on semi-automatic and assault-type weapons and about 55 percent favor a ban on high-capacity ammo magazines of the type that has created such a furor in New York because the Legislature voted to downsize the capacity from 10 to 7 rounds. This has led some gun owners to fret about being “outgunned.” I for one, don’t want to be around for that shootout, whoever has the most bullets.

The point is that as ever larger numbers of average Americans have finally stepped forward to support sensible restrictions on gun ownership, the arguments by the most avid opponents of gun control have become less sensible. Kids being shot in school? Arm the teachers. Want a safer city? Let citizens strap on guns in public. A few proud Americans armed with AR15s will keep any shopping mall safe. Requiring background checks at gun shows will only keep criminals from trying to get guns there. And making it harder for criminals to get guns is bad, why?

There is no assault on the Second Amendment going on in this gun-crazy country. (There are about 300 million firearms privately owned in America, but most Americans don’t own guns. Most gun owners own two or more weapons.) Rather, there is a growing public consensus that the time of being fearful of the NRA and its most vocal advocates is gone, drowned in the blood of kindergarten students. Politicians who don’t get this are those fearful of losing political and financial support from the NRA and some of its members. It is time for courage on their part. The responsible, prudent course for them would be to suggest reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, not rail about the unfairness of some laws that were long overdue. Work to right good laws.

The NRA has waged a long, illogical campaign of fear and threat in the guise of protecting citizens’ rights. But in recent weeks it has shown through statements of its leader, Wayne LaPierre, that its agenda is not about protecting the Second Amendment, but rather removing any and all restrictions on gun ownership. But the U.N. is not coming for your guns, America. Genocide is not on the horizon. Grow up. Demand sensible gun laws that protect you from those who have no business owning deadly weapons.

Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Our Founding Fathers also believed in those rights. No one has ever needed an assault weapon to enjoy them in America.

bob@zestoforange.com 

 

 

 

 

My Deciding Gun Factor

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

As the urgency in the discussion of the need for stricter gun laws increases, allow me to tell you about the moment when my ambivalence about guns turned to something else.

It was during basic training at Fort Dix in the brutally hot summer of 1964. We, in Tango Company – “Tough Tango! All the way and a little bit more!” we were ordered to shout several times a day – had undergone any number of training classes at the rifle ranges. Our weapon was the M-14, a particularly nasty instrument that the army issued as standard equipment from 1959 to 1970. Set on automatic, the M-14 could fire at the rate of 750 rounds per minute. Our ammunition clips held 20 rounds. This was not a weapon for sport.

With initial rifle training over, we knew how to fire the M-14. Now we marched to a new range for combat training. Here we would work in teams of two. My buddy, a guy named Vince from Newburgh, and I faced downrange. He was about 15 yards to my right. The idea was that he would make a dash forward, firing at an imaginary enemy, while I covered him. Then I would move forward and he would cover me.

The ammunition was live. As a result, Al Minicus, our normally laconic platoon sergeant, informed us – many, many times – that we must be facing straight ahead before firing our weapons. Any deviation from this rule could result in extra duty at best, a court martial at worst.

As Vince started forward, I rose to one knee and fired into a thicket of bushes about 50 yards straight ahead of me. Then, as Vince dropped to the ground, I stood and ran past him while maintaining the 15-yard space between us. He now was firing to cover me.

Just then, I heard the training officer blow his whistle, which meant, in descending order of immediacy: cease firing at once; get your finger off the trigger; freeze; bring your weapon diagonally across your chest to port arms; stand at attention.

The officer, a young lieutenant, approached me, called Vince over, and asked if I knew why he had whistled. I did not, but wondered if this somehow was going to turn into an extra tour on KP or guard duty. But I was innocent.

The lieutenant said that Vince had fired his weapon several times at a 45-degree angle to his left – meaning right at me. “At your head,” the officer said. Vince started apologizing and the lieutenant told him to shut up.

I felt a surge of nausea. I felt my knees weaken. I had a vision of my head in pieces. I found myself leaning on my rifle like a crutch, something you’re never supposed to do. The officer then asked me if I wanted to have a few moments alone with Vince behind the latrine so I could “deck this sorry son of a bitch.” I did not.

At that moment, I threw up an ocean of breakfast onto the rifle range, and this seemed to annoy the lieutenant as much as Vince’s misdirected firing had. Then, using standard army logic, Sgt. Minicus came over and said that Vince was lucky because he hadn’t hurt me and would be punished only with an extra KP duty. He never mentioned how lucky I was that Vince had missed.

I finished basic training and later returned to my National Guard unit in New York where, in the next 5½ years of my enlistment, I never had to carry a weapon with live ammunition. Which was fine with me, almost as fine as being alive.

Vince wasn’t evil, just careless. Adam Lanza and all the others who have contaminated our society with their unhappiness weren’t careless, just evil.

And armed.

A Wishful Wish List for 2013

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

The war in Afghanistan has taken its toll in American lives.

By Bob Gaydos

Having offered a gratitude list for 2012, I thought it only right that I compile a wish list for 2013. One major difference: whereas the gratitude list was a personal statement for developments in my own life, my wish list is less personal and more political, I guess, for want of a better word.

Here it is, in no particular order save for number one:

1. End the Afghanistan War. Now. Do not wait for next year’s announced timetable for troop withdrawal, President Obama. American troops’ presence in Afghanistan no longer makes sense and, indeed, they are more routinely becoming targets for people we thought were on our side. Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead, as are many of his chief lieutenants. The continuing cost in lives and bodies cannot be justified, especially with a nation still struggling to restore its economy’s health. Let Afghans figure out how to govern themselves. Give them assistance with this. But end the war.

2. Revive the Occupy movement nationwide. Perhaps the only encouraging sign that Americans still cherished their First Amendment rights and were willing to challenge dubious authority was the movement that started on Wall Street and spread to Oakland. Mostly young, but not exclusively, the Occupy protestors brought attention to the overwhelming power of money in political campaigns and the alarming inequities in wealth and opportunity in America. They were rewarded with tasers, billy clubs, tear gas, and Mace by police forces whose members were among the primary beneficiaries of Occupy proposals. Yet the members persisted, despite FBI targeting as a terrorist group. In my humble opinion, it is the young people of this movement who have the will, intelligence and willingness to bring about some of the changes on this list. Their adult predecessors have failed miserably and show little inclination to change. They’d rather complain or argue. In its old form, or something new, Occupy is this nation’s hope for the future.

3. Pass a comprehensive immigration law, including a pathway to citizenship and severe penalties for businesses that exploit undocumented aliens. If the Republican Party learned anything from the last election it is that Hispanics are willing to vote against their conservative tendencies when the conservative party is not only ignorant of the lives of undocumented immigrants but exceedingly hostile to helping them. Let them finally become full partners in the American Experience, with rights and responsibilities. Congress must do this.

4. Firmly establish global warming as a serious threat to the planet. The White House should launch of a full scale educational, media and political campaign to end the science-is-hokum arguments of the far right. Enough is enough. Establish and honor worldwide practices to reduce the emission of fluorocarbons into the atmosphere. Punish corporations that break the rules. Save the polar bears. Save us all. Remember those super storms the past two years? There are more on the horizon; all we need do is nothing.

5. End secret genetic modification of our foods. It’s everywhere, folks. Require corporations to label foods that have been genetically modified and instruct the Food and Drug Administration to conduct vigilant inspection and testing on any foods that have been genetically modified (such as wheat and corn) for economic reasons and in ways that are supposedly not harmful to consumers (you and me). If there is no harm in the GMOs, why do the big corporations, such as Monsanto, resist labeling their products as such? (Attention Occupy Movement: This one seems to be right up your alley.)

6. Pass meaningful, comprehensive federal gun control laws. Let the NRA debate over the dead bodies of the children in Newtown, Conn., the rest of the country is appalled and sees no need for average citizens to have automatic weapons with large magazines of bullets. Tighten laws on sales of guns. The president should not weaken on this issue. The NRA expected him to come after them this term. He should not disappoint.

7. Resurrect the spirit of bipartisan governing in Congress. This one is a pipe dream, I suspect, but it is crucial to the survival of this nation as a world power. It may take the virtual (or actual) implosion of the Republican Party out of sheer stupidity and stubbornness to accomplish, but so be it. Form a new party of reasonable, reasonably intelligent people and dunk the tea party. To make this happen, citizens will have to let current and would-be office holders know that they are truly fed up with the partisan bickering and lack of production. The past Congress has been called the worst ever. That sounds like a bottom to me.

Well, that’s it. I’ll keep track of these issues as the year progresses. Here’s hoping I’ll have some positive news to report.

bob@zestoforange.com

‘Armed and Dangerous’: America’s Scary Gun Culture Erupts Again

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

By Emily Theroux

It’s been a wild fortnight, as the Brits would say, in America’s homegrown “killing fields.”

Two shooting rampages have bookended the nightmarishly brief span of a mere two weeks, leaving the national psyche reeling from a surfeit of firearms carnage. On Sunday morning, the cable news channels were firmly focused on Mitt Romney’s propaganda prizefight with former boxer Harry Reid over whether the GOP candidate had paid any taxes during the past decade.

Meanwhile, at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a neo-Nazi white supremacist named Wade Michael Page allegedly opened fire on a dozen worshipers, killing half of them before being shot in the stomach by police and “finishing himself off” with a self-inflicted shot to the head. Amardeep Kaleka, the son of the temple’s slain leader, Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, later said Page appeared to be deliberately picking off male members of the congregation who wore their uncut hair wrapped in turbans, in accordance with Sikh religious practice.

The mainstream press sat up that afternoon and took notice, however briefly — which, with the exception of CNN, appeared to be just long enough to ascertain whether any white people had been killed in Wisconsin. Here’s how I imagine the chit-chat in the afternoon news meetings went down: “Sikhs, you say? A 500-year-old monotheistic religion with 30 million members worldwide, approximately 500,000 of whom live in the U.S., according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, those strange lefties who keep track of racist hate groups. It says right here: ‘Sikhs are not Muslims.’ Bet Wade Michael Page thought they were. So what are we looking at? Brown-skinned ‘other’ victims; tattooed skinhead member of the white-supremacist Hammerskins; disgraced ex-soldier; punk-rock musician “hate band” member; and drunken loser of a shooter who is already ‘history’ himself. Well, we all know what happened there. No pretty young white girls killed or kidnapped. Nothing to see here. Bummer — toss it to the bloggers!”

Riddhi Shah, who practices a related Indian religion known as Jainism, wrote an opinion piece in The Huffington Post asking why the American media appeared to care less about this attack than the one that had stunned the nation two weeks earlier in Colorado. The Week, a roundup of online news and opinion, offered four possible reasons:

  1. Sikhs are being treated as second-class victims.
  2. The relative randomness of the Aurora shooting is scarier.
  3. The Oak Creek shooting wasn’t as dramatic.
  4. It’s just media fatigue.

My vote, I’m afraid, remains largely with Numero Uno — not because the mainstream media are racist, but because I truly believe they peg their coverage primarily to readership and ratings. Round-the-clock coverage had already been designated to the Olympics; did TV viewers really want gymnastics superseded by wall-to-wall cable broadcasting devoted to members of an obscure religion that most Americans — including, very likely, their killer — confused with Muslims?

Unlike the cases of Jared Lee Loughner, James Holmes, and even Major Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, the Sikh temple shooting by Wade Michael Page is reportedly being investigated by the FBI as a domestic terror incident. (Fox News, by the way, wasn’t at all pleased that the Hassan shooting case was classified as a “work-related” incident — and they’re not too keen on the shooting of non-white Sikhs warranting the domestic terror designation they expected for Hassan. The difference is that, while Page may have actually committed a hate crime targeting members of a specific ethnic and religious group, Hassan shot  co-workers of no particular race, creed, or nationality.)

 

Jared Lee Loughner sorry he ‘failed’ to kill Gabby Giffords

Two days after the Sikh temple tragedy, Arizona mass murderer Loughner — who killed six people and seriously wounded then-Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — resurfaced to plead guilty to his crime.

During the tense weeks after Loughner’s arrest, pols and pundits alike buzzed with speculation about whether the shooting rampage had a political motive. The gunman appeared to have targeted a Democratic congresswoman who had barely won reelection in 2010 in a blazing red state. At issue was the fact that 2008 GOP veep candidate Sarah Palin had included Giffords among 20 “vulnerable” Democrats whose districts Palin believed had a good chance of falling to their Tea Party opponents. Palin’s infamous “Don’t Retreat; Reload!” map featured what resembled a gun sight hovering over each “targeted” district.

As it turned out, however, Jared Lee Loughner was a schizophrenic who was probably too preoccupied with listening to the cacophony of incoherent voices inside his head to have been paying much attention to the rantings of wingnut radio haters.

All Loughner had to reveal this week was how sorry he was that he had “failed,” as he had in most of his past endeavors, in his mission of killing Gabby Giffords. (Loughner also admitted that he likes the menial jobs he is assigned in prison, because even he can succeed at them.)

 

Gov. Rick Scott vows to defend Florida’s  ‘Docs vs. Glocks’ law

Somewhere along the short and winding road from Aurora, Colorado, to Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Florida’s trigger-happy governor, “Sheriff Rick” Scott, stepped out into the public square, six-shooters blazing, for yet another “Second Amendment remedies” showdown: a solemn oath to appeal Florida’s controversial “Docs vs. Glocks” law, which makes it a crime for doctors to ask patients if they own guns.

“The NRA’s gun for hire” (as Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones’ national security reporter, tagged him), Florida firearms lobbyist Marion Hammer told The Tampa Tribune, “Patients don’t like being interrogated about whether or not they own guns when they take their child with a sore throat to a pediatrician, nor do they like being interrogated in an emergency room when their Little Leaguer broke his leg sliding into first base.”

“First, do no harm” is rapidly being replaced by “Shoot first; ask (no) questions later” in the clinic and urgent-care waiting rooms of America. While you’re filling out the standard physicians’ questionnaire about past illnesses and unhealthy habits (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, and fast food dripping in trans-fats and high-fructose corn syrup), doesn’t it stand to reason that your doctor might also want to know about “risk factors” unrelated to stuff you consume — such as whether you sleep with a loaded 9mm handgun under your pillow? Or how about locking up that unsecured Uzi before it occurs to your 5-year-old to play “show and tell” with his little neighborhood friends?

Until a federal judge tossed the 2011 Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act out of court on the grounds that it violated doctors’ First Amendment rights, this bogus bill was capable of costing inquisitive physicians their medical licenses and a $10,000 fine, according to Weinstein. Since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in June, NRA supporters now fear that the feds could “coerce the names and habits of gun owners out of doctors’ medical records,” as one Florida gun-rights advocate told a local newspaper.

Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger of North Miami Beach, one of a group of physicians who successfully sued the state over the law, considers the governor’s quest dangerously quixotic.  Scott has already spent more than $880,000 in taxpayer funds, fighting largely unsuccessful court battles over conservative causes, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “My fear is the state will appeal and keeping wasting money to fight windmills,” Wollschlaeger told a McClatchy Newspapers reporter last month. “This is an ideologically driven, politically motivated vendetta by the NRA that has to stop.”

 

Motormouth Mitt confuses ‘Sikh’ with ‘sheik’ at Iowa fund-fest

It couldn’t have been more ludicrous if Mitt Romney had attempted the tried-and-true tongue-twister “the sixth sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” at his recent Iowa fundraiser. Mitt made more moolah than any candidate’s ever pulled in at a single cash-bash in Iowa history — almost $2 million. (Looks like he’ll just have to undergo a news cycle’s worth of media humiliation to get his karma out of hock.)

Philip Rucker of The Washington Post took up the challenge of Mitt mockery, writing that, after getting the tricky articulation right Tuesday morning, Mitt muffed his lines at the Iowa fundraiser, where “he instead talked about the ‘sheik temple’ and the ‘sheik people’. Sheik is an Arabic honorific, whereas Sikh is a religion with roots in South Asia.”

Without a videotape, Mitt could just as easily have been talking about the  “chic people” — just doing a little bit of “framing” for his well-heeled audience. The outcome of this increasingly surreal election, after all, depends on how Mitt “sheiks” the dice.