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

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Guns Are Beautiful

To stop gun violence, we need to stop fetishizing guns


The AR-15 rifle is an object of undeniable, fascinating beauty. Force glows from its perfect black frame. Its substantial weight is more than physical; it's emotional, historical. Built in the same factory as Remington, which has been building rifles for nearly two hundred years, the Bushmaster is a quintessentially American object. Other countries tend to treat guns as tools, which policy can deal with on the level of their functionality. In America, guns are works of art. They must be treated as such.

In the crisis of conscience brought on by Newtown, many people who should have known better resumed the pathetic mid-nineties debate about the culture of violence in America. The New York Times brought up the (tepid, insubstantial) connection between video games and gun manufacturers. President Obama chimed in his support a week after the massacre. So did representatives of the NRA. They never quote any studies, for the simple reason that no serious studies support them. Young men in South Korea and in Canada play more violent games than American kids and they commit nowhere near the same num-ber of gun murders. In the largest study of the correlation between movie violence and real violence, conducted at Berkeley in 2007, the researchers found no causal link between violent movies and violence on the streets. But what they did find was that violent movies actually led to a decrease in the number of violent crimes committed nationally on the days they were shown. Only vapid, ahistorical understandings of culture believe that the culture of our own period is uniquely violent, anyway. Shakespeare competed with bearbaiting and public hangings for entertainments; King Lear has an onstage eye-gouging; Titus Andronicus reenacts cannibalism. The culture of violence is general; it belongs to all times and all places. But the culture of the gun is uniquely American and of the moment.

Guns are one of the primary avenues by which ordinary Americans experience beauty. Nobody wants to recognize this fact. Why else would Instagram be loaded on Christmas Day with people in their Christmas-morning jammies showing off the semiautomatic rifles Santa left under the tree? Why else would there be PinkGun.com (its motto: Just because it's concealed doesn't mean it has to be ugly)?

Guns have replaced cars as the American machinery fantasy of choice. Just as there is no sensible reason for owning a car with 1,001 horsepower and a top speed of 253 mph, as Jay-Z does, even the most casual examination of a gun like the AR-15 reveals its uselessness in the real world, its status as a fetish object. The .223 ammunition that Adam Lanza used to murder children isn't powerful enough to hunt deer, one reason it's illegal for hunting in some states, for humane considerations. Protection in the home? Houses with guns in them are statistically far less safe than houses without guns. As a safeguard against a tyrannical government? How long do you think the best armed militia would last against a single company of Marines?

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Feb 13, 2013, 12:11 PM (19 replies)

Constitutionality of Proposed Firearms Legislation

Tragic mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, and elsewhere have prompted renewed national interest in the federal regulation of firearms. In January 2013 President Barack Obama publicly announced support for three new legislative measures to regulate firearm ownership and sales:

  • Banning certain semiautomatic weapons with military-style features—commonly referred to as “assault weapons”—in addition to high-capacity ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds
  • Requiring background checks on all firearms sales, not just those purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers
  • Enhancing penalties for trafficking in firearms

Proposed legislation with similar elements has been introduced in Congress. These measures as written would not violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms as recently defined in two landmark Supreme Court decisions—District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, and McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010. Under Heller and McDonald the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms for self-defense in the home. The proposed measures would not violate that right, but rather fall squarely within the scope of “presumptively lawful regulatory measures” that Heller identified as constitutionally sound. Furthermore, these proposals would effectively advance the important government objectives of preventing gun violence and protecting law enforcement officers and would not unduly burden law-abiding Americans or impose upon the core right identified in Heller.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Feb 12, 2013, 02:06 PM (85 replies)

8 famous people who accidentally shot themselves

Boston Red Sox prospect Bryce Brentz recently had a minor setback in his pursuit of making it to the big leagues: He accidentally shot himself. The 24-year-old was reportedly cleaning a handgun last month when the trigger went off, leaving a bullet lodged in his leg. Brentz is expected to make a full physical recovery in time for spring training, but there's no recovering from the shame of his embarrassing self-inflicted wound.

Of course, Brentz isn't the first person to accidentally shoot himself. Here's a look back at 8 famous people who suffered the pain, shame, and in one tragic situation, death, of an unwanted quick trigger finger:

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Feb 12, 2013, 11:10 AM (8 replies)

Gun culture fails to pass Buddhist muster

MOORHEAD — With the rapid spread of Buddhism in the western United States, boosted by increased immigration from Asia, Americans have begun to apply Buddhist principles to solve their everyday problems.

Although Buddhism has two major sects — Theravada and Mahayana — both agree on the crux of Buddhist philosophy based on the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path and the associated 12-factor formula of “conditioned genesis.”

This essay asserts that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would not have passed muster if our founding fathers had recognized the Four Noble Truths as the undisputable truth.

The Noble Eightfold Path does not endorse weapons for individual protection or use of guns for pleasure hunting.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Feb 12, 2013, 10:05 AM (38 replies)

NRA: 'Connecticut Effect' Has Delayed Group's Lobbying Against Gun Control

WASHINGTON -- A lobbyist for the Wisconsin chapter of the National Rifle Association said the "Connecticut effect" needed to pass in order for his group to press its 2013 lobbying agenda, and he predicted that nationwide calls for stricter gun control following the shooting of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., would soon subside.

Speaking at a Wisconsin state NRA meeting over the weekend, lobbyist Bob Welch said, "We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the 'Connecticut effect' has to go through the process." Welch's comments were first reported by Think Progress. The shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School galvanized public support for stricter gun control laws, and President Barack Obama has since made the issue a key part of his second-term agenda.

In Washington, NRA lobbyists waited a month following the Newtown tragedy before returning to Capitol Hill in force to pressure Congress to reject any new proposals for gun control. But the shooting appears to have caused some traditionally pro-gun senators, such as West Virginia's Joe Manchin (D), to endorse broader background checks on firearms purchases. A recent poll found that more than 90% of voters support universal background checks for guns.

Posted by SecularMotion | Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:02 PM (0 replies)

The NRA vs. America

Eleven days after the massacre, Wayne LaPierre – a lifelong political operative who had steadied the National Rifle Association through many crises – stood before an American flag and soberly addressed the nation about firearms and student safety: "We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools, period," LaPierre said, carving out a "rare exception" for professional law enforcement. LaPierre even proposed making the mere mention of the word "guns" in schools a crime: "Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted," LaPierre said.

This speech wasn't delivered in an alternate universe. The date was May 1st, 1999, at the NRA's national convention in Denver. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's rampage at Columbine High School in nearby Littleton, Colorado, had just killed 13 students and teachers, shocking the conscience of the nation.

The disconnect between the NRA chief's conciliatory address on that day 14 years ago and his combative press conference in the aftermath of the slaughter of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut, could hardly be more jarring. In his now-infamous December 21st tirade, LaPierre ripped the gun-free zones he once championed as an invitation to the "monsters and predators of this world," advertising to "every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk."

LaPierre then offered what he called a "proven" solution to school gun violence – one that would open a lucrative new market for the gun industry while tidily expanding the power of the NRA itself. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre insisted, before proposing that armed, NRA-trained vigilantes should patrol each of the nation's nearly 100,000 public schools.


Posted by SecularMotion | Mon Feb 11, 2013, 11:11 AM (1 replies)

Giffords Eases Steadily Into New Life, and Cause

TUCSON — Gabrielle Giffords looked slightly stricken as she considered the question: Would she feel bad about starring in a political advertisement against her former House colleagues who declined to stand with her on guns? “Yes,” she said, it would be painful.

“Sometimes you have to do things that are hard,” said Mark E. Kelly, Ms. Giffords’s husband, as she tucked herself close to him on their couch. Ms. Giffords nodded, as she often does when Mr. Kelly — as he often does — intuits the many thoughts she is still unable to express fully. “Really hard,” she added.

Ms. Giffords, a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, a gun owner, an astronaut’s wife, a shooting survivor and an incipient gun-control advocate, is settling into the third act of her public life.

Her career as a lawmaker is behind her, but so is her role as the fragile, slightly mysterious victim in the months after she was shot point-blank in a parking lot here just over two years ago. Now, she is the face and emotional dynamism behind a new advocacy group and a separate political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, dedicated to reducing gun violence. It is an effort, she said, that gives her “purpose.”

Posted by SecularMotion | Sun Feb 10, 2013, 10:22 AM (3 replies)

‘Christian Nation’ Propagandist Channels Louis L’Amour’s Western Fiction

Since “Christian nation” propagandist David Barton’s book about Thomas Jefferson has been debunked, it seems the Texas-based “historian” has set his sights on a new cause: defending the Second Amendment. But just like Barton’s assertions about Jefferson, his latest claims reek of fiction.

Back in January, Barton was on Glenn Beck’s radio show. The conversation focused on guns, and Barton told three stories that range from very difficult to believe to patently false in his attempt to defend gun ownership.

First, Barton claimed that the National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded, in part, to arm freed slaves so they could defend themselves against the KKK.

Warren Throckmorton, a professor at conservative Grove City College in Pennsylvania who has exposed Barton before, was quick to question that assertion. Throckmorton pointed out that the NRA’s own website makes no mention of former slaves or the Klan. Instead, it says the group was founded mainly to “‘promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.’”

Posted by SecularMotion | Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:16 AM (1 replies)

States With Higher Gun Ownership and Weak Gun Laws Lead Nation in Gun Death

Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Alabama, and Wyoming Have Highest Gun Death Rates

Washington, DC--States with higher gun ownership rates and weak gun laws have the highest rates of gun death according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) of 2010 national data (the most recent available) from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The analysis reveals that the five states with the highest per capita gun death rates were Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Alabama, and Wyoming. Each of these states had a per capita gun death rate far exceeding the national per capita gun death rate for the 50 states of 10.25 per 100,000 for 2010. Each state has lax gun laws and higher gun ownership rates. By contrast, states with strong gun laws and low rates of gun ownership had far lower rates of firearm-related death. Ranking last in the nation for gun death was Hawaii, followed by Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York. (See rankings below for top and bottom five states. See http://www.vpc.org/fadeathchart13.htm for a ranking of all 50 states.)

Posted by SecularMotion | Sun Feb 10, 2013, 08:09 AM (14 replies)

Royal Oak gun shop halts sale of ‘Muslim” targets

ROYAL OAK — Target Sports is no longer selling a shooting target that depicts a skeleton with a long beard wearing a turban and robe and carrying an AK-47.

The director of a Muslim civil rights groups said he confronted the store owner after he learned about the product in a complaint from a constituent.

“I decided to pay the shop a visit and I saw the target on a wall and purchased two copies,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Michigan.

Walid said he then introduced himself to the owner, Ray Jihad, and talked about how the target could incite violence.

Posted by SecularMotion | Sat Feb 9, 2013, 06:19 AM (3 replies)
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