Guns to protect against U.S. government? Constitution doesn’t protect that

May 16, 2014

Today, May 16, 2014, a group of yahoos promises 10 million armed Americans will descend on Washington to force changes in government, maybe depose the President, and have other yahoo fun squealing tires, drinking beer, and scaring good folks with the guns they wave.

They’ll be lucky to have a thousand people show up and politely decline to run afoul of the District of Columbia’s gun laws and the concomitant prison time.

If they stay out of jail, it won’t be because the Constitution protects them.

Yes, the Second Amendment says they have — and you and I have — a right to “keep and bear arms.”

Yahoos, true to their yahoo ways, really don’t read the Constitution thoroughly.  Otherwise, I suspect they’d be more circumspect.

Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution defines using those arms against the government, levying war against the U.S., as “treason.”

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

Neither the First Amendment nor the Second Amendment excuses treason.

How will today turn out in Washington?  There may be some traffic tie-ups.  There always are. Anything out of the ordinary, though?  Not if citizens use common sense, and stick to the Constitution that protects their protests.

Yahoos, in one of their nicer portrayals from the 1947 edition of Gulliver's Travels.  Image from Wordmall.

Yahoos, in one of their nicer portrayals from the 1947 Crown edition of Gulliver’s Travels; drawing by Luis Quintanilla. Image from Wordmall.

Update:  As of Friday afternoon, the rally fizzled.  Organizers blamed the rain.  Proof that rain falls on the unjust, too?

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Gun nuts twisting the words of President Kennedy

May 4, 2014

Here’s the full text of President Kennedy’s statement on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday in 1961, urging Americans to join Kennedy in making things better, including enlisting in the military, from the Kennedy Library:

January 29, 1961

This year, the celebrations of Roosevelt Day has special significance for Democrats everywhere; for we celebrate not only the triumphs of the past but the opportunities of the future.

Twenty-eight years ago Franklin Roosevelt assumed the leadership of a stricken and demoralized nation. Poverty, distress and economic stagnation blanketed the land. But it was not long before the great creative energies of the New Deal had lifted American from its despair and set us on the path to new heights of prosperity, power and greatness.

Today America is the richest nation in the history of the world. Our power and influence extend around the globe. Yet the challenges and dangers which confront us are even more awesome and difficult than those that face Roosevelt. And we too will need to summon all the energies of our people and the capacities of our leaders if America is to remain a great and free nations — if we are to master the opportunities of the New Frontier.

The dimensions of out problems overwhelm the imagination. At home millions are unemployed and the growth of our economy has come to a virtual halt. Abroad, we are faced with powerful and unrelenting pressure which threaten freedom in every corner of the globe, and with military power so formidable that it menaces the physical survival of our own nation.

To meet these problems will require the efforts not only of our leaders or of the Democratic Party–but the combined efforts of all of our people.; No one has a right to feel that, having entrusted the tasks of government to new leaders in Washington, he can continue to pursue his private comforts unconcerned with American’s challenges and dangers. For, if freedom is to survive and prosper, it will require the sacrifice, the effort and the thoughtful attention of every citizen.

In my own native state of Massachusetts, the battle for American freedom was begun by the thousands of farmers and tradesmen who made up the Minute Men — citizens who were ready to defend their liberty at a moment’s notice. Today we need a nation of minute men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of American, cannot succeed with any lesser effort.

It is this effort and concern which makes up the New Frontier. And it is this effort and concern which will determine the success or failure not only with Administration, but of our nation itself. [emphasis added]

Source: White House Central Subject Files, Box 111, “FDR”.

Other Information Sources:

“Know your Lawmakers,” Guns Magazine, April 1960.
“Letter to President John F. Kennedy from the NRA,” [NRAcentral.com].
“New Minute Men Urged by Kennedy,” The New York Times, 30 January, 1961, pg. 13.
“Kennedy Says U.S. Needs Minute Men,” Los Angeles Times, 30 January, 1961, pg. 4.
“Minutemen’s Soft-Sell Leader: Robert B. DePugh,” The New York Times, 12 November 1961, pg. 76.

It seems to me that Kennedy was not asking yahoos to take up arms against the government, but was instead asking Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Specifically in the last paragraph, he noted his call was to join in the New Frontier efforts his administration was pushing.

If you’re not much a student of history, you may have forgotten about Kennedy’s New Frontier.  As presidents before him, with the Square Deal, the New Deal, and the Fair Deal, Kennedy sought a shorthand term to apply to much of his program of changes.  In his speech accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party to run for president, he called this a New Frontier.

For I stand tonight facing west on what was once the last frontier. From the lands that stretch three thousand miles behind me, the pioneers of old gave up their safety, their comfort and sometimes their lives to build a new world here in the West. They were not the captives of their own doubts, the prisoners of their own price tags. Their motto was not “every man for himself” –but “all for the common cause.” They were determined to make that new world strong and free, to overcome its hazards and its hardships, to conquer the enemies that threatened from without and within.

Today some would say that those struggles are all over–that all the horizons have been explored–that all the battles have been won– that there is no longer an American frontier.

But I trust that no one in this vast assemblage will agree with those sentiments. For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won–and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier–the frontier of the 1960′s–a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils– a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.
[emphasis added]

Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises–it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook–it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

But I tell you the New Frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric–and those who prefer that course should not cast their votes for me, regardless of party.

But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age–to all who respond to the Scriptural call: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed.”

For courage–not complacency–is our need today–leadership–not salesmanship. And the only valid test of leadership is the ability to lead, and lead vigorously. A tired nation, said David Lloyd George, is a Tory nation–and the United States today cannot afford to be either tired or Tory.

Kennedy famously challenged Americans to stand up for service to the nation in his inaugural speech, and when he founded the Peace Corps, asking Americans to give up two or three years to work, peacefully, in other lands to promote progress there. Kennedy called Americans to share his vision, and to work for change, for a better America.

What were specifics of the New Frontier agenda?   Kennedy pushed a broad range of programs, many turned into laws in his brief term; Kennedy aimed to change America in economics, taxation, labor, education, welfare, civil rights, housing, unemployment, health, equal rights for women, environment, agriculture, crime and defense.   In each of these areas Kennedy sought to build on the legacies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman — in ways that conservatives today become apoplectic just thinking about.

Kennedy pushed for a higher minimum wage with built-in step increases over time not keyed to inflation.  He called for more taxcuts for the poor, coupled with targeted tax incentives to get businesses to spend their cash to create jobs.  Kennedy favored changes in law to give unions greater say in corporate expansion, tougher protection for workers from firing, and he extended collective bargaining to federal workers.  Kennedy called for expansion of federally-funded loans and scholarships for college students, and he started a program to use federal money to put technology into classrooms at the elementary and secondary levels.  Kennedy expanded unemployment and welfare benefits, and got a 20% increase in Social Security benefits.

Kennedy’s New Frontier called for sweeping changes in the way government protects the rights and welfare of all citizens.

Did Kennedy actually call for armed militias to fight government “over-reach” or expansion?

What do you think?  When a proponent of getting guns to protect himself against the U.S. government, by killing agents of the U.S. government (we must imagine), cites a part of Kennedy’s statement from 1961 as supporting arming individual citizens, is he being honest?

Poster from Americanfirearms.org; the quoate from Kennedy is accurate, but did Kennedy mean what this group wants us to think it means?

Poster from Americanfirearms.org; the quoate from Kennedy is accurate, but did Kennedy mean what this group wants us to think it means?

Kennedy appears to have been fond of the image of the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord, trained militia from citizen volunteers, who started the path to American independence from Britain.  He invoked that image earlier, as senator from Massachusetts, in a speech honoring the Polish hero Casimir Pulaski, at a Pulaski Day Dinner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 17, 1959:

We pay tribute to Casimir Pulaski tonight by honoring a great American of Polish descent, Clem Zablocki.  For he has demonstrated, in Washington and Wisconsin, the same courage and conscience, the same zeal for liberty, the same tireless patience and determination to help all who call for help.  He is a great Congressman – not only from Wisconsin – but of the United States . . .

But we also think of Casimir Pulaski tonight because his beloved Poland has once again fallen victim to a foreign power.  The independence for which he fought against the Russians at Czestochowa has been once again suppressed – and once again by the Russians.  Were he alive tonight, the hero of Savannah and Charleston would weep for his homeland – and we, inwardly or outwardly according to our custom, weep with him.

But weeping is not enough.  We know it is not enough.  And yet, while we give vent to our feelings of resentment and outrage, we are also caught up in a feeling of frustration.  What can we do about the situation in the satellites?  How can we help those liberty-loving peoples regain their liberty, without subjecting them to even more cruel repression – or subjecting the world to an even more disastrous war?  How can we let them know their fate is not forgotten – that we have not abandoned them to be – like the Irish of 1647 considered themselves when Owen Roe O’Neill was poisoned – “sheep without a shepherd when the snow shuts out the sky?”

This is the dilemma we face, as both last month and next year the President and Premier Khrushchev are pictured together in the press on both sides of the Iron Curtain.  And this is the dilemma with which this Administration has been confronted, in trying to make good on its tarnished promises of a new “liberation” policy.  For this is no longer an age when minutemen with muskets can make a revolution.  Hungary, we know, is not Cuba – and neither is Poland.  Mr. Khrushchev is not to be overthrown like Mr. Batista.  Brave bands of young men and women may be able to stop a few tanks – but street barricades and home-made hand grenades cannot long stand against a modern army and an atomic air force. [emphasis added]

The facts of the matter are that – no matter how bitter some feelings may be, or how confident some are of a victorious war for liberation – freedom behind the Iron Curtain and world peace are actually inextricably linked.  For if war should ever break out, the control and occupation of Eastern Europe would certainly be even more rigid and repressive than it is today.  That is why, in the days of upheaval in 1956, when Poland could have turned to violent rebellion as Hungary did, Cardinal Wyszynski kept advising his people that the condition of Polish freedom was peace.  Many scoffed – many thought him faint-hearted.  But by following his advice, Poland has now attained at least a measure of national independence and at least a relaxation of Communist rule.  Forced collectivization of the farmers has ceased and most of the collectives were dissolved – religious freedom has been restored in considerable degree – and freedom of speech is returning.

No one says that land of ancient freedom is once more free again.  But if Poland had not accepted this half-way house to freedom, it could have been, as Prime Minister Gomulka warned, wiped off the map of Europe.  If the present emphasis on a thaw in the Cold War should end and tensions rise again, the present good relations between Poland and the United States would undoubtedly cease, the growing contacts between the Polish people and the West would be cut off, and the present degree of freedom of speech and religion in Poland would prove to be short-lived.  On the other hand, if a real thaw develops and Soviet-American relations improve, the prospects for the continuation and perhaps the expansion of this limited degree of Polish freedom are good.  So, in a real sense, the condition for Polish freedom is peace.

President Kennedy addressing a Wisconsin group during the 1960 presidential campaign.  (Do you have more details?)

President Kennedy addressing a Wisconsin group during the 1960 presidential campaign. (Do you have more details?) Photo by Robert W. Kelley//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

One does not get the sense that President Kennedy was urging citizens to establish their own arsenals, contrary to the actions of the Minutemen at Lexington and Concord, nor to take up arms against the U.S. government.

Who would suggest that’s what Kennedy meant?  Oh, yeah:  AmericanFirearms.org.

More:

Page one of a speech text then-Sen. John Kennedy delivered regarding why America arms, on March 9, 1960, in Mauston, Wisconsin. JFK Library image

Page one of a speech text then-Sen. John Kennedy delivered regarding why America arms, on March 9, 1960, in Mauston, Wisconsin. JFK Library image


Beleaguered Texas GOP governor candidate Greg Abbott goes on offensive makes offensive Tweet

April 8, 2014

This guy just can’t seem to figure out when it’s polite to talk about some things, and when one should just be quiet.

In short, he’s not got the judgment to be governor of Texas.

We’re just five days out from a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, where gun packing has taken too many innocent lives in the past few years.

Doesn’t Abbott have any sense of decency?

No wonder his campaign is troubled.  At this point, a candidate for governor should be working on a message about building the state to make it stronger (hows that for generic?).

Abbott’s cracking Second Amendment gun jokes while families grieve.  Ouch.

This isn’t funny, five days after the April 3 incident at Fort Hood.

Not funny sign, at this time, if ever.

Not funny sign, at this time, if ever.


Gun rights advocates stalking Texas women arguing for gun safety

November 12, 2013

You can’t find it much in Texas newspapers, though Steve Blow at the Dallas Morning News had a good piece about it today (he’s a columnist, not a news writer).

Texas “gun rights advocates” have been stalking people who argue for safety for school kids.  You could see photos of it in all sorts of blogs and websites — but silence from most Texas media.

Cops in Arlington, Texas, seem uninterested because, they say, it’s legal to wave guns around in Texas.

But it’s not legal to stalk, and the on-line photos and other coverage should be warning to those nuts giving gun owners a bad reputation:  Every dog gets one bite, every stalker gets one visit, and you just had yours.

Here’s the skinny:  Four women want to agitate for rational laws to protect their children and grandchildren.  They chat about it in even public places, like restaurants and Facebook.  Four of them met for lunch, at a restaurant in Arlington, Texas.  A bunch of gun idiots decided to show up to intimidate them, with guns “openly carried.”

It hit my e-mail inbox as “Wee Winkie Parade.”  Here’s the photo from Moms Demand Action:

Photo of the

Photo of the “Wee Winkie Parade,” posted at the Facebook site for Moms Demand Action.

Here are the photographs offered by the intimidating group, Open Carry Texas:

Open Carry Texas's Facebook photos of the Arlington, Texas, incident.

Open Carry Texas’s Facebook photos of the Arlington, Texas, incident.

What would a rational person think if a group of gun-carrying people showed up after announcing they were coming to crash your lunch?

Arlington Police, perhaps with some wisdom, didn’t make arrests (avoiding confrontations with people waving guns in public is often an act of good discretion).  They noted Texas law allows hunters and others to carry non-handguns openly, if no other violations of law are involved.

Arlington Police, and Open Carry Texas may want to familiarize themselves with Texas’s anti-stalking laws, as described by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Information on Stalking

You have the right to defend yourself against a stalker. This page lists strategies that can help shield you from stalking.  You do not deserve to be intimidated or terrified.

Questions About Stalking…

What is Stalking?

A stalker tries to control his or her victim through behavior or threats intended to intimidate and terrify. A stalker can be an unknown person, an acquaintance or a former intimate partner. A stalker’s state of mind can range from obsessive love to obsessive hatred. A stalker may follow a victim off and on for a period of days, weeks, or even years. A stalking victim feels reasonable fear of bodily injury or death to self or to a family or household member or damage to property. Stalking can be perpetrated by the stalker or by someone acting on her/his behalf. Stalking can take the form of verbal threats or threats conveyed by the stalker’s conduct, threatening mail, property damage, surveillance of the victim, or by following the victim.

How do I Know if I’m Being Stalked?

The stalker may, on more than one occasion:

  1. Follow the victim and/or victim’s family or household members, or
  2. vandalize the victim’s property, or
  3. inflict damage to property–perhaps by vandalizing the car, harming a pet or breaking windows at the victim’s home, or
  4. make threatening calls or send threatening mail, or
  5. drive by or park near the victim’s home, office, and other places familiar to the victim.

Terroristic Threat

What is a terroristic threat?

Terroristic Threat is a penal code offense (Section 22.07). A person commits the offense of Terroristic Threat if he or she threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with the intent to place a person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.  Penalty: Class B misdemeanor.

Texas Stalking Law

The law on stalking can be found in Section 42.072 of the Texas penal code.

How is stalking proven?

  1. Intent of stalker: Stalker has the intent or the knowledge that his/her actions will instill fear of death or bodily injury to the victim or a member of the victim’s family or household. Threats can be explicit (e.g.-stating that he is going to kill the victim) or implied (e.g.-veiled threats, hurting the family pet). Threats have to be aimed at a specific person; they cannot be general threats. Threats may be conveyed by the stalker or by someone acting on behalf of the stalker.
  2. Conduct of stalker: Conduct has to occur on more than one occasion and be directed towards the victim and/or the victim’s family or household members. More than one police report is not required. The acts may include threatening contact by mail or by phone, or damaging the victim’s property.

Penalty: Third Degree Felony- unless there is a prior conviction for stalking, in which case the penalty is upgraded to a 2nd degree felony.

If You Are Being Stalked…

NOTIFY THE LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PROSECUTOR’S OFFICES. All stalking incidents should be reported to the police. Request that each incident be documented. Request a copy of the report from your local law enforcement agency. Give police any written correspondence and report any phone threats. Put dates received on all correspondence from the stalker. Know the name of the law enforcement officer in each incident.

KEEP A DIARY. Obtain the names and addresses of witnesses. Complete records are essential to the successful prosecution of stalking cases. Write a description of each incident.

GET A PROTECTIVE ORDER if you are related to the stalker by blood or marriage, if you ever lived together, or if you have a child in common. To get a Pro Se Protective Order Packet call 800-777-3247. This packet will help you obtain a protective order barring the stalker from certain areas near your home, your work, or your child’s school. You can also review our Domestic Violence Protective Order Kit.

RECORD TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS. Tell the stalker to stop calling and hang up. Screen your calls. Write down the time and date the stalker calls. Keep recorded messages and give them to law enforcement.

TAKE PICTURES OF THE STALKER. Take pictures of the stalker if it can be done safely and write time, date, and place on the back of each picture.

KEEP ALL CORRESPONDENCE. Make a copy of anything you receive from the stalker. Touching the letter as little as possible will preserve fingerprints.

TELL EVERYONE. Give friends, co-workers, and neighbors a description of the stalker. Ask them to document each time the stalker is seen by them.

Important Safety Measures

BE ALERT and aware of your surroundings, the people and things happening around you.

VARY ROUTES of travel when you come and go from work or home.

PARK SECURELY and in well-lit areas. Ask someone to escort you to your car.

BE AWARE of vehicles following you. If you are followed drive to a police station, fire depart-ment, or busy shopping center and sound the horn to attract attention.

ALERT MANAGERS or security at your place of business. Provide a picture or description of the stalker.

HAVE A SECURITY CHECK MADE by law enforcement of your home to ensure your home can be locked safely. Secure all doors and windows in both your home and vehicle.

MAINTAIN AN UNLISTED NUMBER. If Caller ID is available in your area, obtain the service for your phone.

DO NOT DISMISS ANY THREAT, written or verbal. Call the police or sheriff ‘s department and save any documentation.

MAINTAIN PRIVACY, never give out personal information to anyone where the information can be overheard. Remove phone number and social security number from as many items as possible.

DEVELOP A SAFETY PLAN for yourself and family members in case of emergency. Decide on a safe place to meet and someone to call if problems do arise.
Revised: November 08 2012

Dallas’s Mayor campaigns for an end to violence against women.  Perhaps Moms Demand Action should move their lunches to Dallas.

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Powerful demonstrations of how concealed carry permits may not make us safer

September 20, 2013

Wholly apart from the two guys in Michigan who shot each other to death yesterday.

ABC News ran some tests.  People with concealed carry permits — how would they help in mass shooting situations?

Part 1:

Part 2:

Liberals Unite commented on these videos:

The controlled study documented in these videos show that concealed carry permit holders are fooling themselves if they think they will be able to react effectively to armed aggressors.  Most CCW holders won’t even be able to un-holster their gun.  They will more likely be killed themselves or kill innocent bystanders than stop the aggressor.

For more details, see “Unintended Consequences: Pro-Handgun Experts Prove That Handguns Are a Dangerous Choice for Self-Defense.” http://www.vpc.org/studies/unincont.htm.

CCW permit holders don’t protect innocent people.  They kill them.

Perhaps we should discuss preventing these cases altogether.  Discuss politely.

More:

It's a cotton t-shirt, not Kevlar.

It’s a cotton t-shirt, not Kevlar.


Herblock was a prophet

July 19, 2013

I have no idea whether he was Catholic, but some organization should consider canonizing the great political cartoonist Herblock.  He was a prophet.

See this cartoon of his from 1999, 14 years ago.

Herblock cartoon from 1999.

Herblock cartoon from 1999.  “Kids these days.  Craziness in schools, movies, video games — terrible!  Here [showing a handgun to a customer], try this little dandy.”

From a collection posted by the Boston Globe.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dan Wasserman.  Another tip of the old scrub brush to Brian Cronin at Comic Book Resources.


Critics of school safety, anti-gun violence bills, haven’t read them

April 14, 2013

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Sen. Marc Rubio, R-Fla, admitted that he’s opposing a bill that he hasn’t read — not just that he hasn’t read it, but that he doesn’t really know what’s it in.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, confessing he hasn't read what he claims to oppose.

“On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Florida] denounced the Senate’s gun control bill while admitting that he hasn’t actually read it all. [Give him points for honesty; now, we watch to see if he does the remedial work.]

So he doesn’t know why he’s opposing it.

This is the bookend to the complaint that the anti gun violence bill shouldn’t be debated, because it’s unavailable to read.  Actually, it is available.

It’s not the contents of the bill that got their ire up.  It’s the surface politics, the public relations, the political correctness.

PoliticsUSA didn’t see the humor in it, but instead joined the unedified braying:

When asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace if his filibuster threat on background checks meant that he would also vote against the final Manchin/Toomey bill, Rubio said, “Well to be fair, I haven’t read it in its totality, but I can tell you this, I am very skeptical of any plan that deals with the Second Amendment because invariably these gun laws end up impeding on the rights of people to bear arms who are law abiding and do nothing to keep criminals from buying them. Criminals don’t care what the law is.”

Rubio also added that we shouldn’t be focused on guns. We should be focused on violence.

How in the world does a sitting United States Senator prepare for appearing on all five Sunday shows and not read the legislation that is currently being debated in place where he works?

What are taxpayers paying Rubio to do?

Here’s a clue, senators:  We need work from you to help control gun violence, and mass violence in our schools.  You’ve narrowly voted to discuss such a bill, which is the purpose for which you were elected and collect more than $100,000 in salary.

Do your jobs, gentlemen and ladies.  Get off your duffs, go to the floor, discuss with other senators, and vote on the stuff the nation needs you to pass to keep up our drive to peace, prosperity, truth and the American Way.

High school debate was about winning the round.  Senate debate is about improving the nation.  You’re in the big leagues now.  Act like you know it, and like you know how to play the game.

(PoliticsUSA has video, but in a format I can’t embed here; if you know where embeddable video might be found, please let us know in coments.)

More:


Shutup and read: Text of S. 649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

April 11, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz claims no one has read the text of S. 649, the Safe Communities and Safe Schools Act of 2013.

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

Reading-impaired U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wikipedia image

Contact: (202) 224-5922 / press@cruz.senate.gov
Thursday, April 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) released the following statement regarding the pending vote on the motion to proceed to new gun control legislation:

This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better.

Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.

He’s an idiot, I know.

Amendments to the original text are pending — but here is the text of the proposed law as introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 22; amendments will be available at several places as they are proposed or approved, including the Library of Congress’s Thomas legislative tracking site.

Sen. Toomey published a quick summary of the bill as amended – this is what Cruz really fears:  Legislation that might make public schools safer (never forget Cruz opposes public education):

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania, in a committee hearing room; photo released by Toomey’s office

Bottom Line: The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales.

The bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a national firearms registry, and imposes serious criminal penalties (a felony with up to 15 years in prison) on any person who misuses or illegally retains firearms records.

TITLE ONE: GETTING ALL THE NAMES OF PROHIBITED PURCHASERS INTO THE BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM

Summary of Title I: This section improves background checks for firearms by strengthening the instant check system.

• Encourage states to provide all their available records to NICS by restricting federal funds to states who do not comply.

• Allow dealers to voluntarily use the NICS database to run background checks on their prospective employees

• Clarifies that submissions of mental health records into the NICS system are not prohibited by federal privacy laws (HIPAA).

• Provides a legal process for a veteran to contest his/her placement in NICS when there is no basis for barring the right to own a firearm.

TITLE TWO: REQUIRING BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR FIREARM SALES

Summary of Title II: This section of the bill requires background checks for sales at gun shows and online while securing certain aspects of 2nd Amendment rights for law abiding citizens.

• Closes the gun show and other loopholes while exempting temporary transfers and transfers between family members.

• Fixes interstate travel laws for sportsmen who transport their firearms across state lines in a responsible manner. The term “transport” includes staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, buying fuel, vehicle maintenance, and medical treatment.

• Protects sellers from lawsuits if the weapon cleared through the expanded background checks and is subsequently used in a crime. This is the same treatment gun dealers receive now.

• Allows dealers to complete transactions at gun shows that take place in a state for which they are not a resident.

• Ensures that sales at gun shows are not prevented by delayed approvals from NICS.

• Requires the FBI to give priority to finalizing background checks at gun shows over checks at store front dealerships.

• Authorizes use of a state concealed carry permit instead of a background check when purchasing a firearm from a dealer.

• Permits interstate handgun sales from dealers.

• Allows active military to buy firearms in their home states.

• Family transfers and some private sales (friends, neighbors, other individuals) are exempt from background checks

• Adds a 15 year penalty for improper use or storage of records.

TITLE THREE: NATIONAL COMMISSION ON MASS VIOLENCE

Summary of Title III: : This section of the bill creates a commission to study the causes of mass violence in the United States, looking at all aspects of the problem, including guns, school safety, mental health, and violent media or video games.

The Commission would consist of six experts appointed by the Senate Majority Leader and six experts appointed by the Speaker of the House. They would be required to submit an interim report in three months and a completed report in six months.

WHAT THE BILL WILL NOT DO:

The bill will not take away anyone’s guns.

The bill will not ban any type of firearm.

The bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.

The bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it specifically makes it illegal to establish any such registry.

The bill will not, in any way at all, infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

Sen. Cruz, you have money in your office budget for training for you and your staff in tracking legislation — I’ll be pleased to come show you how to track down such language.

Below the fold, the current text of the bill (as of 4:26 p.m., April 11, 2013).

Update:  Below the fold, the text of the bill as proposed to be amended, published by Sen. Toomey late yesterday; then, below that, the original bill as introduced by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada — compare them if you like.

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Powerful argument for limiting bullets in a clip: Colorado Sen. Mike Johnston pleads to give victims a chance to escape

March 17, 2013

Here’s one of my nominees for the next editions of Great Speeches of the 21st Century, and Great Speeches in American History.  Sen. Mike Johnston, on March 11, in the Colorado State Senate, spoke against coward, “hollow men,” who commit mass shootings, and how to protect from them:

Notes from YouTube posting:

Published on Mar 12, 2013

March 11, 2013: Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver) describes how gun safety legislation, particularly HB 13-1224, can make a difference.

What do you think?

Senator Michael Johnston

Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston – Wikipedia Photo

‘Eleven kids saved in eleven seconds’ seems like a powerful argument, to me.

And this:  “And so the bad news is that at that moment will be outgunned.  The good news is that in America that never means we will be outfought.”

And this:  “The task of taking lives, and the task of saving lives, are fundamentally different endeavors, and they require different tools.”

At about 6:04 into this, listen to Sen. Johnston talk about the “cost of living and loving is that it takes up so much space in our lives.”

Wow.

More:


Gun nuts at Fox pull a bait and switch; Obama already outflanks them

February 26, 2013

President Obama visits with survivors of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. July 22, 2012

President Obama visits with survivors of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. July 22, 2012 – White House photo. Click image to go to White House site, with more information on reducing gun violence.

Yeah, I know: Someone has sent you a post on Facebook claiming there are more murders from hammers than guns, and they quote Fox.

If they’re not complete nuts, they were careful and noted it was rifles being compared, and not all guns.

Here’s the Fox headline:

January 03, 2013

FBI: More People Killed with Hammers, Clubs Each Year Than Rifles

Then, just to rub it in, that person who sent you the link said something like, ‘so you propose hammer control, too?’

The best debaters in college learn to listen to what their opponents say, and not what they think their opponents should have said.  Good lawyers listen like that, too, in court, and in depositions.

See that last word in the headline?  “Rifles.”

Yeah, it’s a limited part of the total population of guns.

Total gun deaths in 2011 were 8,583 — continuing a five-year trend downward, thanks for small blessings.  Homicides only, not counting suicides — according to figures compiled by the FBI.

Did more than 8,500 people die from hammer assaults in 2011?

No, the same tally shows 496 people were murdered by use of  “Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.).”

496 is 8,087 fewer than the 8,583 gun deaths.  But rifles?  Oh, yeah.

323 people died from rifle fire.  356 died from shotgun wounds.  6,220 died from handguns, 97 from “other guns,” and 1,587 died from gunshots where the type of gun was not recorded on the report to the FBI.  Add them up, you get 8,583 dead, murdered by gunfire.

Now, the gun advocates nuts say that it’s fair to compare rifle deaths only, since only the AR-15 is being questioned, and is the target for “taking guns away.”

That’s inaccurate.  President Obama laid out a plan of more than a score of actions, but only two refer to assault rifles, and only one refers to assault rifles directly:

Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons:  The shooters in Aurora and Newtown used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That ban was an important step, but manufacturers were able to circumvent the prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons. Congress must reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons.

And:

Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds:  The case for prohibiting high-capacity magazines has been proven over and over; the shooters at Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown all used magazines holding more than 10 rounds, which would have been prohibited under the 1994 law. These magazines enable any semiautomatic weapon to be used as an instrument of mass violence, yet they are once again legal and now come standard with many handguns and rifles. Congress needs to reinstate the prohibition on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

President Obama laid out a plan that will make it substantially more difficult for people who shouldn’t have guns suitable for mass killings, to have them.  More important, however, the President’s plan steps up the non-gun means available to stop mass shootings before a shooter gets to a campus armed and ready to kill.

The “discussion” will get more ugly, I predict, before it gets better.

More:


When the decision NOT to use a gun changed the world

December 24, 2012

Sometimes it doesn’t take a gun at all.

Nelson Mandela in 1962

Nelson Mandela outside of Westminster Abbey in 1962 — this trip, without permission from the South Africa government, led to his indictment and arrest.

Impressive story about the mystery of Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962, at The Wall Street Journal — a story by Peter Wonacott, on December 22, 2012, page C3.  After all these years, how the South African government was tipped off that Mr. Mandela would be where he was, posing as who he posed as, remains a mystery.  Mandela was arrested, tried and convicted of several crimes, ultimately spending 27 years in jail, refusing to give up his cause to gain his freedom.  When the system bent to his wishes, he was released from jail and elected president of his nation.

The key paragraph in the story, the point where the long arc of history was forcefully bent to justice and peace:

Mr. Mandela has described how he had hidden a loaded revolver in the car that day in 1962 but decided not to use it. Choosing not to fight his way out began a journey that would take him through prison to the presidency on a platform of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation among the nation’s races.

Increasing the number of people with an increasing number of guns, however, does not offer more opportunities to change history like that.

 


There was an armed deputy at Columbine High; his story

December 21, 2012

Deputy Sheriff Neil Gardner, talking about his experience at the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

More:  

Denver - Columbine High School 097

Denver – Columbine High School Hope Memorial Library – Photo credit: travellingzenwolf


NRA reputation damaged

December 19, 2012

An observer of American politics may wonder whether the past few days have changed any of the old political lines on gun control issues and the Second Amendment.

Does a view from Canada tell us anything?  Here’s Aislin‘s cartoon, from the Montreal Gazette,  for December 18, 2012:

Aislin cartoon, Montreal Gazette, 12-18-2012

Aislin, Montreal Gazette, December 18, 2012

Too brutal, or too close to the truth?

A little history quiz in a cartoon, yes?  Can you identify all six symbols?  How many must one know to understand the cartoon?

More:

Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 20...

U.S. flag at half-staff, at the Minuteman Memorial in Lexingon, Massachusetts (Summer’s End. Lexington Green, 11 September 2002. Photo taken in Minute Man National Historical Park. Sculpture : “Minuteman” by sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson (1863-1947), dedicated April 19, 1900. Erected 1899 : SIRIS Image: Wikipedia)


Pat Bagley tells the truth (Pulitzer committee, are you paying attention?)

December 18, 2012

Bagley on gun control politics

Pat Bagley, in the Salt Lake Tribune, December 17, 2012, on gun safety issues, “Coming to Grips with Gun Control.”

This would explain why the National Rifle Association (NRA) feels like it need not offer condolences to victims of gun violence in a recent mass shooting, and has gone silent on Twitter and Facebook.

Your thoughts?


Education, unions, guns and Superman: A few random thoughts

December 18, 2012

Here, I’ve been quiet for a few days on these issues.  I like to have more facts before forming opinions.  Others don’t feel so constricted, though, and one of the key lessons of life we must learn over and over is that too often we must act without knowing all the facts we’d wish to know.

Ryan Houck, Broken Pencil for Bach

Borrowed art: A Broken Pencil for Bach, drawing by Ryan Houck

This is one of those times.  In Michigan, the governor has been presented bills which he has signed which take away rights of teachers to stand up for themselves, part of a long-standing GOP war on education and teachers.  He has other bills intended to legalize carrying guns in schools, which he has not yet signed.   In several states, legislatures gear up for sessions starting early next year, with pre-filed bills to put the screws to teachers, cut back education spending, take money from public schools and give it to private groups under a pretext of improving education (I say pretext because all research indicates the public schools perform better, but I digress).  In Congress, the GOP demands cuts to health care, mental health care, education, roads, aid to any workers, employed, under-employed or unemployed, and especially in payments to people in poverty or otherwise in economic distress (“no pain to others, no GOP gain”).

Highlighting the intentional sloth the GOP insists on in government, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy hammered one of our nation’s largest cities and most important regions for technology, manufacturing, business, finance and news, and the GOP opposes federal aid to speed up recovery; and in Newtown, Connecticut, a man with learning difficulties and/or behavioral issues broke into an elementary school over-armed with human-killling automatic and semi-automatic weapons legally purchased and legally owned, with which he had legally trained, and murdered 26 people, including 20 children.

My few random thoughts:

  • The unions demonized in Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin, saved children’s lives in Newtown.  (Yes, teachers; cops and firefighters, too.)
  • The teachers who “don’t deserve the pay they get,” according to many speakers in the public fora, laid down their lives in Newtown.
  • Teachers who ask for parental support, chaperones for a trip to the art gallery, a working copier, a full set of books for the students, a working grading machine, enough pencils so every kid can write, a working projector and ten minutes to set it up — and too often don’t get any of that, let alone ten minutes for a body break — now are asked by the crazy gun lobby to arm themselves and take on other beneficiaries of crazy gun lobbyists in the halls of the schools.
  • Waiting for Superman” was a film about how teachers are animals, teachers unions are monsters.  Turns out Superman was already teaching first grade, in Newtown, but is demonized by the filmmakers as someone or something else.
  • Maybe we should rethink who are the monsters, who is Superman, and who deserves our support.  Superman’s already in our schools — what are we waiting for?  Somehow I doubt that Superman’s merely showing up will be enough to resolve the issues and “fix” our schools.

What are your thoughts?

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