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Member since: Sun Jan 14, 2007, 02:51 PM
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Senators Propose Compromise On Rifle Permit Discretion For Police Chiefs

The Barrett letter was signed by Sens. Kenneth Donnelly (D-Arlington), Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield), Barry Finegold (D-Andover), Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport). All six voted in favor of the Sen. Michael Moore amendment last week that removed discretion from the Senate bill.

“We favor legislating reasonable grounds for denying a hunting rifle in appropriate cases, but we want these grounds to give narrower and clearer guidance to both law enforcement and citizens. We have a substantial number of constituents who object to formulations on hunting guns that seem too careless or too rushed,” the letter states.

The House gun bill proposed to give discretion to police chiefs to deny a Firearm Identification Card to someone who might not fall under the list of “prohibited persons,” but has demonstrated or engaged in behavior that suggests they could be a threat to public safety. Chiefs already have such discretion in issuing handgun licenses.

The six senators, who were among the 28 that voted to strip the provision from the bill, argued the language was too broad and open to interpretation. They proposed a new section that would allow a chief to deem an applicant unsuitable if they have demonstrated that they pose a “concrete and articulable risk of harm in the reasonably near term to himself or to others.”

Posted by SecularMotion | Thu Jul 24, 2014, 12:39 PM (2 replies)

How to Beat the NRA In 7 (Not-So-Easy) Steps

The NRA remains one of the most formidable forces in American political life. But it is not bulletproof. Since the massacres in Aurora and Newtown, states from New York and Maryland to Colorado and California have made modest progress against the gun lobby, passing a raft of new laws aimed at reducing gun violence. There are sharp lessons to be learned from these victories, and even more important ones to be gleaned from the playbook of the NRA itself. The seven strategies below can empower gun-control advocates to stop bemoaning their helplessness, and start carrying the day.

1. Commit to a Generation-Long Battle

The NRA is engaged in a long war. Americans committed to combating gun violence must be also.

By and large, the NRA doesn't win with flashy, high profile political fights. The gun lobby wins like the Baltimore Ravens of the Ray Lewis era, marrying competent offensive execution to a punishing defense that keeps opponents out of the red zone.

This approach has enabled the NRA to grind out national victories, state by state, often without the need for federal legislation. Consider concealed-carry law. There's no national standard. But thanks to the NRA's relentless efforts, Illinois last year became the 50th state to pass legislation allowing its residents to pack heat. Likewise, the radical redefinition of self-defense embodied in "stand your ground," has quietly been made law in more than two dozen states.

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Jul 23, 2014, 04:53 PM (2 replies)

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has introduced his gun control legislation; read it here

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has introduced legislation that would create a city gun offender registry as part of a sweeping city gun law overhaul he announced last month.

The proposal (click here to read the legislation) would require gun offenders to register with the city's safety department within five days of either being released from prison, or within five days of moving to Cleveland.

The offender would have to re-register every four years.

The gun registry legislation would replace a city assault weapons ban. The Ohio Supreme Court in 2010 affirmed state lawmakers' right to pass a uniform statewide gun law that blocked Cleveland and other cities from passing tougher laws such as assault weapons bans and handgun registration requirements.

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Jul 23, 2014, 07:48 AM (7 replies)

Americans are losing their faith in religion

Most people lost their faith in politicians and America's political institutions long ago. Now, they're abandoning organized religion.

The trend has existed for some time. According to statistics released by Gallup in 2012, fewer Americans than ever before have a great deal of confidence in organized religion. This is not all, though; public confidence in television news, banks and public schools has reached rock bottom as well.

In March, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that things haven't turned around over the last two years. According to NBC reporter Carrie Dann, "One in five Americans say religion does not play an important role in their lives, a new NBC/WSJ journal poll shows – the highest percentage since the poll began asking participants about their focus on faith in 1997."

She continues, "Twenty-one percent of respondents said that religion is 'not that important' to their lives, compared to 16 percent who said the same in 1999. In 1997, 14 percent of Americans said religion did not play an important role in their lives."

Posted by SecularMotion | Sun Jul 20, 2014, 05:32 AM (38 replies)

The Zealot: Larry Pratt Is the Gun Lobby's Secret Weapon

One morning during the winter weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, the gun lobbyist Larry Pratt made the short drive from his offices in Springfield, Virginia, to the Arlington headquarters of the Leadership Institute, a training center for young conservatives. Pratt and the Institute's founder, Morton Blackwell, share a history in conservative activism going back four decades, and Pratt had spoken there many times, providing legislative updates on the politics of guns. Today, there seemed to be a jauntiness to the oddly boyish-faced 71-year old, who'd found himself at the center of a national media story just beginning to fade. He opened with a joke.

"Piers Morgan sends his regrets he won't be able to attend," Pratt deadpanned.

The audience chuckled at the reference. On December 18th, 2012, four days after Adam Lanza's killing spree, the CNN host had invited Pratt to debate gun control, as most major networks have over the years. When Pratt stated that gun-free school zones — and, by extension, gun control advocates like Piers Morgan — were to blame for the tragedy in Newtown, Morgan stuttered and seethed. "You're an unbelievably stupid man, aren't you?" said the host.

Pratt's critics have called him many things over the years: extreme, radical, pernicious, creepy, dogged, effective. But no one who's studied his multi-faceted career could describe him as stupid. On CNN, Pratt was smart enough not to tell Piers Morgan what he really thinks about the Second Amendment. Because what he really thinks resonates deeply with the theocratic tenets of Christian Reconstructionism, which holds that American government should be ordered according to events and dictates found in the Old and New Testaments. Nor is Pratt so stupid as to use his regular access to mainstream media to promote the "active measures" he believes American gun owners will one day be forced to unleash on a secular federal government. As he explained in his 1999 essay, "What does the Bible Say About Gun Control?" Pratt writes, "If Christ is not our King, we shall have a dictator to rule over us, just as Samuel warned."

Posted by SecularMotion | Sat Jul 19, 2014, 05:50 AM (4 replies)

Two Lives Collide, and End, at an Elvis Shrine

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Late on Tuesday night, Dwight David Taylor Jr. walked past the stone lions, the grove of blue Christmas trees and the pillars topped by spray-painted basketballs and stood on the front porch of Graceland Too.

Showing up here late at night was not in itself unusual as Graceland Too, a deliriously baroque shrine to all things Elvis Presley and many things less obviously germane, was advertised as ready to give tours at any hour. Over the past 24 years, it has become a destination for drunk fraternity brothers in the middle of the night and international tourists on the Elvis pilgrimage from Tupelo (for the birthplace) to Memphis (for the other Graceland), while its resident, Paul McLeod, has gone from eccentric proprietor to main attraction.

It is still unclear what brought Mr. Taylor, 28, to the house on Tuesday, but by 10:45, he was dead, shot by Mr. McLeod in his front room, apparently after having forced his way in. Less than two days later, Mr. McLeod was dead, too, found around sunrise on Thursday in a chair on his front porch, apparently succumbing to natural causes, perhaps compounded by the traumas of the past 36 hours.

There were plenty of people here in Holly Springs who knew Mr. Taylor as someone almost perpetually down on his luck, living in an abandoned house and knocking on doors looking for odd jobs or a little money, and they feared a bad end.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 09:41 AM (3 replies)

Shooting target left outside Capitol Hill office of League of Women Voters

In an apparent attempt at intimidation, an anonymous person or group left a paper target riddled with bullet holes outside the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County office over the July 4th weekend following the nonprofit’s endorsement of gun control legislation.

Last week the LWVS-KC posted a Facebook picture of the shooting target left outside their 18th and Madison office. Recently, the local chapter of the national nonpartisan group had taken a position in support of Initiative 594, a measure that would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the state.

Ellen Barton, president of the LWVS-KC, said in at statement that the group has a long history of facing intimidation tactics and would not back down from their position.

“This apparent attempt to intimidate us will not dissuade us from our work. The League of Women Voters will continue to be a forum for dialogue, research and education on gun laws and gun violence, and we look forward to reasonable, robust dialogue in the months ahead,” Barton said.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 08:53 AM (4 replies)

Poll Finds Americans’ Favorite Faith Group Is Their Own

Washington — Are you sitting down? New research shows that when people are asked to rate their own faith group compared with others, they rate it more positively.

A survey out Wednesday by the Pew Research Center asked respondents to identify their feelings about various faith groups on a “cool” to “hot,” 1 to 100 feelings thermometer. A 50 was described as neutral, not having “particularly” positive or negative feelings.

Every group, from atheists to Catholics and black Protestants to white evangelicals, felt most warmly about people like them. For example, Catholics get an 80 thermometer reading from other Catholics, compared with a 58 among non-Catholics, and evangelicals get a 79 from people who call themselves born-again or evangelical, compared with a 52 from non-evangelicals.

Rating one another sounds like a harsh high school popularity game, but the survey shows a clear correlation between knowing someone of another faith and feeling more positively about them. For example, Jews get a 69 reading from people who know Jews, compared with a 55 from people who say they don’t know anyone Jewish. Atheists receive a neutral score of 50 among people who know an atheist, compared with a cold 29 by people who say they don’t know any atheists. People who know a Muslim give a neutral number (49) compared with a cooler one (35) from people who know none.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 06:17 AM (1 replies)

Family, not religion, will influence our attitude to assisted dying

One of the difficulties for the opponents of assisted dying is that they are thought of as religious fanatics. So tactically it isn’t a good move for 23 religious leaders to release a letter denouncing Lord Falconer’s bill. It will confirm to the bill’s supporters that opposition to it comes only from religious people and that they, in turn, are motivated by the teachings of their scriptures.

This last point is a bit rich when it comes from people who will, in other circumstances, argue that scripture is full of exhortations to genocide (and the Old Testament has plenty in its accounts of the conquest of what is now occupied Palestine). There is even a biblical precedent for assisted dying, when Abimelech, a remarkably unsavoury king of Israel who came to power by executing 70 half-brothers, found himself in a bad way after a woman in a town he was besieging dropped a millstone on his head and “broke his brainpan”, as the Geneva Bible says. He called for his armour bearer to kill him so that it might not be said a woman had done so, and the obedient young man did.

I don’t doubt you could make a less lurid Christian case for assisting the death of some patients. Polls show that a large majority of Christians and Jews favour assisted dying under some circumstances. And there is always Lord Carey. So the appeal to official teaching doesn’t do much to persuade waverers.

What is more important in this context is that it does little to persuade believers either. Detailed polling by professor Linda Woodhead shows that hardly anyone makes up their minds on moral questions by reference to the views of local or national religious leaders. For Anglicans, the figure is 2%; even among Muslims, fewer than 14% say they take any notice of what religious leaders tell them when deciding moral questions. What matters overwhelmingly are individual judgment, feeling and the influence of family.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 06:14 AM (7 replies)

Statement on Governor Christie’s Veto of Ban on High-Capacity Ammunition Magazines

Washington, DC — On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have changed the limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines from 15 rounds to 10. Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand issued the following statement:

“Governor Christie has chosen to put gun industry profits ahead of saving lives. A ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines would protect law enforcement and the general public, and it would limit the firepower available to criminals and mass shooters. By vetoing this bill, Governor Christie has turned his back on an opportunity to improve public safety in communities across the state.”

Since 1984, there have been at least 12 mass shootings in the U.S. where the killer used magazines holding between 10 and 15 rounds. One of them was the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 33 dead and 17 wounded.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 11, 2014, 06:31 AM (23 replies)
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