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Member since: Sun Jan 14, 2007, 02:51 PM
Number of posts: 7,981

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Why Are So Many Conservative Politicians Brandishing Guns?

Yes, we know it's all a show, that it's all about appealing to (appeasing) the NRA crowd, and demonstrating that a buttoned-down insider like Mitch McConnell is really one of the guys. Fine. But I have to say, there's something about it that just feels sinister.

OK, so John Kerry pandered too in 2004, with his whole hunter shtick, but McConnell did something very different at CPAC this past week. He brought a gun to an explicitly political gathering (he then handed it to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), as part of presenting Coburn with an NRA lifetime achievement award). Now, it's not like taking out your Colt .45 and laying it upon your desk on the Senate floor, but it's one more example of the mixing of politics and implicit violence that conservatives are deploying more and more often.

Among countless other examples, last month we saw Todd Staples, a candidate for lieutenant governor in Texas, run the following TV ad:

"You're not a king, and Texans bow to no one," Mr. Staples says, looking directly into the camera and addressing the president, before he is shown picking up a gun at a store, aiming it over a counter and vowing to "fight Obama's liberal agenda."snip) [Staples] ends on an equally aggressive note: "So, Mr. President, if you still want to mess with Texas, we've got a saying for you: Come and take it."

In response, Kathleen Hall Jamison, the head of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, asked: "Why would [sic] need a gun to fight an agenda? You don't shoot a policy or shoot an agenda--you fight an agenda with words." Great question.

Posted by SecularMotion | Thu Mar 13, 2014, 06:19 AM (27 replies)

Gun policies must be chosen by universities

The National Rifle Association has never been afraid to make some waves. Their tough stance on the rights of gun owners and gun enthusiasts cannot be questioned. Similarly, there can be no doubt as to the tenacity with which they lobby for their interests. What can be questioned, though, is their capacity for common sense.

Make no mistake, the Second Amendment is vital to our nation’s founding principles, and a reasonable defense of Americans’ rights to bear arms should never be suppressed. Unfortunately, the NRA and many of the legislators they support have taken that defense to an untenable extreme.

Earlier this month in the Idaho legislature, a bill was introduced by NRA lobbyist Dakota Moore that would do something many NRA members might dislike. It would take away local policy control in favor of a centralized government mandate. As the text of the bill itself reads, “It is the legislature's intent to wholly occupy the field of firearms regulation within this state.”

Apparently this is all well and good, provided that centralized government mandate grants increased rights to gun owners. The bill itself would disallow universities, state colleges and community colleges from regulating or banning the possession of firearms on their campuses. Although an exception is made for residence halls and “public entertainment facilities,” there is still extensive disapproval of the bill.

Posted by SecularMotion | Thu Mar 13, 2014, 06:14 AM (9 replies)

Gun violence discussed in social change lecture series

Nearly nine years ago, Christian Heyne’s parents were shot in Ventura County, Ca., while returning a boat from a holiday vacation. His father survived three bullet wounds, but his mother was killed.

Heyne’s parents were two of the nine people killed or injured by Toby Whelchel, including himself, when he went on a 16-hour shooting spree in May 2005. Whelchel was able to obtain a handgun despite a history of arrests, Heyne said.

“My story is not a unique one,” said Heyne, who has been actively fighting gun violence since losing his mother nearly a decade ago.

Heyne, the legislative director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, spoke to a group of about 15 students and faculty members in South Campus Commons last night about gun laws in the U.S., the effects of gun violence and what can be done to make a difference. The talk was part of Beyond the Classroom’s “People Power: Activism for Social Change” series.


Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Mar 12, 2014, 08:38 AM (1 replies)

The NRA is Now Fighting Against Elephants

The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently came out against a White House ban on the commercial sale of ivory, a rule which was designed to protect the world's endangered elephant population.

The February announcement from The White House was part of a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, a larger Obama administration plan designed to address both American conservation concerns as well as security threats posed by the illegal wildlife trade. Specifically, the action would prohibit the import and export of ivory as well as significantly restricting its sale inside the United States, except in the case of “antiques,” which refers to items that are more than 100 years old.

The National Rifle Organization’s strong opposition only reinforces their absolutist, dogmatic, and draconian views on gun ownership, which reacts to any action taken by Washington regardless of the intention as a historic assault on civil liberties and individual rights.

Unfortunately, their opposition usually comes at another’s expense. In this case the victims are tens of thousands of African and Asian elephants being slaughtered each year for the ivory in their tusks, an issue that has little to nothing to do with American gun rights.

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Mar 12, 2014, 08:20 AM (18 replies)

‘No compromise’ gun groups shoot themselves in the foot

Gun Owners of America (GOA) has been attacking New Hampshire’s Senate Bill 244 from the beginning with the shock propaganda phrase, “See a shrink, lose your guns.” The New Hampshire Firearms Coalition (NHFC) has adopted the GOA slogan. They’re both wrong. And tragically, that slogan may scare people away from getting the mental health help they really need.

SB 244 would add New Hampshire to the other 37 states that report mental health gun-possession disqualifiers in the same way as felony conviction gun disqualifiers to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS), which licensed dealers must query by phone when they sell a gun. Importantly, it also would create, for the first time, a legal mechanism to “un-prohibit” people whose mental health problems have been cured.

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee is considering an amendment proposed by the committee chair, Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, that would retain the second part of the bill — to allow people to remove themselves from the disqualified list — while deferring the first part to a commission to investigate its nuances. Unaccountably, GOA and the NHFC oppose even this version.

The problem with the “see a shrink, lose your guns” rhetoric is that it’s simply not true. People who object to SB 244 keep saying that the bill would disqualify people from possessing guns, but that’s a huge mistake: the people who would be reported to NICS are already disqualified. They are disqualified whether their names are on NICS or not.

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Mar 12, 2014, 08:06 AM (1 replies)

Firearms industry benefits from America’s gun violence

America is a violent place by any standard. The national firearm-related death rate has held steady at 10.5 per 100,000 people since 1999, well above the global average. Some of its cities exhibit epidemic rates of gun death on par with crime-affected urban centers in Latin America and the Caribbean. Hard as it might be to believe, levels of lethal violence are actually at historic lows.

Declines occurred after the passage of specific legislation designed to prevent gun-related deaths. Gun homicides dropped after the passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993), the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act or so-called Assault Weapons Ban (1994), and the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (1998). In the absence of significant federal legislation over the past, further reductions in gun violence have stalled.

It is worth putting the United States’ exceptional gun violence problem into perspective. The country´s firearm homicide rate is over six times higher than neighboring Canada’s, and 45 times as high as England’s. With the highest rates of gun homicide, suicide and accidental death in the industrialized world, it is not surprising that Americans also feel afraid.

The percentage of Americans who fear walking alone at night has increased since 2001 to nearly 4 in 10 in 2011. And yet national authorities have consistently refused introducing measures to curb gun violence. Strangely, Congress has opted instead to undermine gun control legislation, curb gun safety awareness, and abandon violence prevention programs, including some that registered positive results.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Mar 11, 2014, 09:47 AM (16 replies)

Sweeney's stance on gun magazine limits is altered by politics

It was billed as a brave milestone in the political evolution of Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

The burly ironworker, who represents a semirural South Jersey district where hunting is popular and Second Amendment rights are venerated, was now switching from powerful foe to fierce advocate of reducing the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds rather than the 15 allowed under state law.

“I gotta tell you, when you meet families that have lost their loved ones, it’s pretty hard to explain why you can’t do a simple thing like this,” Sweeney said at a Feb. 24 news conference, his eyes welling with tears as family members of children murdered by a lone gunman at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., stood nearby.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Mar 11, 2014, 06:15 AM (32 replies)

Since Newtown Shooting, 15 States Have Strengthened Gun Laws

Fifteen states plus the District of Columbia strengthened their gun laws in the year following the Newtown school shooting, accounting for roughly half (44 percent) of the U.S. population.

Also, a history of any kind of violence is a better predictor of future gun violence than mental health history.

These are two of the reports in a publication from gun control experts by the Johns Hopkins press, “Updated Evidence and Policy Developments on Reducing Gun Violence in America.”

“Contrary to popular belief, the tragic loss of life at Sandy Hook elementary school led to a number of significant policy developments, particularly stronger gun laws at the state level,” said Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, and an editor and author of “Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis” and the new updated version.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Mar 11, 2014, 06:10 AM (2 replies)

NRA's model law invites tragedy

This week, the Kentucky Senate passed a bill that would allow concealed-carry weapons permit holders to carry guns in bars, provided they don't consume alcohol. Currently, guns are banned,, under Kentucky law, in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

Described as "model legislation from the National Rifle Association" by the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, Senate Bill 60 is moving on to the House of Representatives.

The Kentucky chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America believes this reckless bill puts public health and safety at risk by mixing guns and drinking, and puts Kentucky bar and restaurant owners at risk for significant liability issues if and when a shooting occurs at their establishments.

Reaction to the news of SB60 has been swift and decisive: Kentuckians — including bar owners, gun owners and concealed-carry permit holders — do not want guns in bars under any circumstance.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Mar 11, 2014, 06:06 AM (19 replies)

Adam Lanza’s Father, in First Public Comments, Says ‘You Can’t Get Any More Evil’

Peter Lanza had not seen his son Adam for two years before the day walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and murdered 20 schoolchildren and six adults.

Since that morning, Mr. Lanza cannot go an hour without thinking about his child. And now, he says, he wishes his son had never been born.

“You can’t get any more evil,” he said in his first public comments since the shooting. “How much do I beat up on myself about the fact that he’s my son? A lot.”

In a series of emotionally wrenching interviews with the writer Andrew Solomon, Mr. Lanza detailed his son’s medical history and increasing isolation, his ex-wife’s struggle to deal with their troubled child, and his own role as the father of the person who committed one of the worst mass shootings in the nation’s history. Mr. Solomon, the author of the book “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity,” recounts the interviews in an article in this week’s issue of The New Yorker magazine.

Posted by SecularMotion | Mon Mar 10, 2014, 04:09 PM (6 replies)
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