Category Archives: Gun Violence Prevention

NY, NJ, CT, RI Governors Form ‘States for Gun Safety’ Coalition to Combat Gun Violence Epidemic

New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island Enter into Agreement to Create Multi-State Database That Will Share Information on Firearms, Law Enforcement Efforts and Supplement Federal NICS Database 

New Multi-State Coalition Will Trace and Intercept Firearms to Stop Flow of Out-of-State Guns

Nation’s First Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium Will Conduct Studies to Better Inform Policy Makers

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and Congressman Steve Israel met with mothers who lost children to gun violence. Clinton proposed a specific agenda for sensible gun control. With Trump in the White House, Republicans in control of Congress, and the NRA stepping up its attacks making the prospect for federal help dim (Trump is cutting funding for background checks), New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey governors have formed a coalition to address gun violence at the regional level. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo today announced the formation of the new “States for Gun Safety” coalition to combat gun violence. In the face of repeated federal inaction, the coalition will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to better share information and tackle this devastating epidemic through a comprehensive, regional approach. The coalition will advance a multi-pronged effort that will create a multi-state database to supplement the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, trace and intercept guns that are used in crimes as well as guns transported across state borders and launch the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium that will study the issue across multiple disciplines to better inform policy makers nationwide.

“Here in New York, we’re proud to be home to the nation’s strongest gun safety law. However, the federal government’s continued inaction on this issue has not only allowed the epidemic of gun violence to spread, but it has actually prevented the laws like the SAFE Act from being fully effective,” Governor Cuomo said. “Rather than wait for the federal government to come to its senses and pass responsible gun safety legislation, New York is joining with New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island to take matters into our own hands. Not only will this groundbreaking partnership take new steps to prevent illegal guns from crossing state lines, but by forming the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, we will be able to better inform policymakers nationwide on how to keep their communities safe.”

“We refuse to allow federal inaction to enact commonsense, gun safety laws endanger the lives of our residents,” Governor Malloy said.  “Despite the best efforts of powerful lobbyists from special interest groups, we will work together as a coalition of states to keep our communities safe.  We cannot sit back and let guns get into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, and we cannot simply watch almost daily tragedy occur.  One thing remains clear: we would be better off if every state and the federal government enacted sensible gun safety rules.  We will not wait for Washington to act – the time for action is now.” 

“Gun violence is not a New Jersey problem, or a New York problem, or a problem for any particular state or region – it is a national problem,” Governor Murphy said.”However, we cannot wait for Congress to act. As states, we must work together to take the steps and enact the measures to protect our residents and our communities. But, even more importantly, a collective of states can take these steps together broaden the reach and impact of commonsense gun safety laws.”

“Rhode Island has some of the nation’s strongest gun laws, but our nation has some of the world’s weakest. Kids in Florida and across the nation are taking action, and it’s not a surprise: We’ve forced them to lead because for years elected officials in Washington have refused to,” Governor Raimondo said. “We will stand up with our students and with parents to strengthen our gun laws and combat gun violence.”

As part of the coalition, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island will share information about individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within each state. By sharing this information, states can more effectively prevent certain individuals from purchasing a gun, obtaining a weapon and/or getting a gun permit. The agreement, in accordance with federal and state privacy protections, will provide state law enforcement agencies with details on the firearm purchase or permit denials for those who are disqualified.  People may be disqualified from owning a firearm for several reasons, including an arrest warrant, order of protection, debilitating mental health condition, or criminal history.

Despite the passage of gun safety laws restricting the purchase and carry of firearms across the four states, the lack of federal regulations preventing individuals from purchasing guns in other states and transporting them across borders has undermined state legislation. To combat this practice, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island will direct their law enforcement intelligence centers to work cooperatively to trace the use of out-of-state guns in crimes and share information in order to intercept criminals transporting illegal guns across state borders. The four state fusion centers that will jointly share information under this agreement are the New York State Intelligence Center, the Connecticut Intelligence Center, New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center, and the Rhode Island State Fusion Center.

The four states will also designate institutions of higher education to partner and create the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium.  The consortium will be comprised of dedicated public health, social welfare, public policy, and criminal justice experts who will share and examine data to better inform policymakers nationwide. This groundbreaking consortium will fill the void left by the federal government’s 1996 ban on the use of federal funds to study gun violence which has obstructed research efforts across the nation, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

“We have to remember that the federal government has had a provision in place now for over 20 years that effective bars the Center for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence. So it has devolved to the states, now for over 20 years and our thought is perhaps if we can do it in a coordinated way, the more of us at it, hopefully the better result and meaningfully propelling things like smart gun technology,” Governor Murphy of New Jersey said during a telephone press availability with al four governors.

We can’t wait for the federal government to act. We have states with good intentions, with good laws, let’s take it to the next level. Let’s work across our borders. Let’s not just advocate for better laws in our own state, but advocate for better laws in our region. Let’s not just try to make our own borders as safe as possible. Let’s try to make our region as safe as possible.”  We’ll reach out to other governors,” Governor Malloy of Connecticut said.

Building on these efforts, the states will also work to push the federal government to adopt common-sense gun safety measures. In order to protect families and communities across the region, the group will call on the federal government to swiftly enact universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and a federal waiting period between the purchase and delivery of guns.

The multi-state coalition builds on years of progress spearheaded by Governor Cuomo to combat gun violence in New York. Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Democrats and Republicans came together in New York to pass the nation’s strongest gun safety law in 2013. The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, more commonly known as the NY SAFE Act, banned the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines and helps keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, all the while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.

In addition to the SAFE Act, New York has continued to invest in the SNUG and GIVE initiatives which engage with community members to help get guns off the street. Under SNUG, specially trained individuals are employed to reduce violence from occurring when tensions arise within their community, while also connecting high-risk individuals with essential social and support services. The GIVE initiative provides funding to support technical assistance, training, equipment, and personnel – such as prosecutors and crime analysts – to help communities reduce gun violence and save lives. The funding for both initiatives is administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Most recently, Governor Cuomo proposed new legislation as part of the 2018 State of the State which will remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes. Given the inextricable link between domestic violence and lethal gun violence, this legislation will require all firearms be removed from those convicted of domestic violence crimes, including misdemeanors.  It will also add measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who commit domestic violence with the goal of preventing additional tragedies.

“We’re not waiting for federal action,” said Governor Cuomo of New York, a former Attorney General who laid out an indictment against the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress over its measures that not only don’t mitigate against gun violence, but go backwards. “All of our states are already ahead of the federal government when it comes to laws on this issue. The Florida Parkland massacre, one would hope that it would spur responsible federal action but we’re not going to hold our breath and were not going to risk our children’s lives. Sandy hook happened, I remember speaking with Governor Malloy at the time, and since then 1600 people have died. After Sandy Hook was when New York passed the SAFE Act because people were so outraged and change comes when people demand change. After Sandy Hook, especially in this region of the country, people demanded change. Columbine 1999, since then there have been 200 school shootings, 25 mass school shootings, so no I’m not especially optimistic that the federal government will be a response.

“Let’s be honest, this a federal government has gone backward on the issue. President Trump has pledged allegiance to the NRA and he’s delivered for them. He defunded, in part, the NICS background check system, he stopped last February the Social Security Administration from providing information that the Obama administration put into place that would have given more information on mental health for the NICS system and the solution here is not rocket science. In many ways it’s harder because it takes political courage and this is not just about the NRA, this is a politically charged issue and I think we understate the opposition when we say it’s just the NRA. To be responsible on this issue you have to pay a political cost.

Governors on the phone all understand that. I have the political scars from what we did and that’s why it really is a test of leadership and I think right now you have the high school students showing more leadership than the leaders in Washington. What they said on TV was it shouldn’t be a democratic or republican issue, it’s an issue in life and death and they’re right.

“Your Florida elected officials showed up at the town hall like Senator Marco Rubio, who I think should be ashamed of themselves because he had nothing responsible to say and rather than proposing baby steps, which is the worst type of political pandering, he should have at least been honest and say we have nothing meaningful to propose on this issue. At least that would have been honest.

“To say this is a mental health issue is a sham and a fraud because if you really believed it was a mental health issue, then you have to say, the way to combat mental health is we will have s universal background check system to make sure a person who is mentally ill cannot buy a gun. We’re going to have a NICS system that has a comprehensive mental health database that is in the federal NICS system. You will then have to have a federal reporting system where people could actually report people to police, people who they believe has a mental health problem. Teachers would have to be able to call police, family members would have to be able to call the police and say investigate this person because I think they are mentally ill and they shouldn’t have a gun and they still have to answer why you wouldn’t support an assault ban. 1934, this nation outlawed machine guns because the nation said the risk outweighs the reward. The damage that can be done with a machine gun outweighs the individual’s right to own it. That is an assault rifle today. It’s doable, it’s feasible, we did it in this country. It’s just that we’ve gone backwards,” Cuomo said during the press call.

“The answer is not to make the schools armed camps. That’s where they’re going to go in Washington. Why? Because that’s where the NRA wants them to go. Because it means selling more guns. And the NRA is in the business of selling guns. Arm every teacher. Oh that makes sense. The only thing it would do is bring more guns into a school, more money for gun manufacturers, which is what the NRA is really trying to say…

“Today, we take the next step in the evolution of state action. We are limited by our borders so we can put in laws but then our borders are porous. Governor Malloy spoke about the I-95 corridor. That guns literally come up the I-95 corridor. Share your databases and your information so if a person can’t buy a gun in New York, they don’t drive to Connecticut or New Jersey or Rhode Island and buy the gun. Come up with a coalition of state actions. And then share that information. And that’s what we’re going to be doing. We have a mental health database in New York that now exists that didn’t exist before the SAFE Act that has 77,000 people who are on the database who are mentally ill who could have bought a gun in this state the day before the SAFE Act. Share that information.

“On Governor Murphy’s point about research, I was HUD Secretary in the Clinton Administration. At that time, the manufacturers said they could manufacture a smart gun. They could manufacturer a gun where the trigger read a finger print. We’ve done absolutely nothing on the research and the technology because they haven’t been forced to do it.

“So do what you can and that’s what we’re doing. This is not a substitute for federal action. And we hope and we will push for federal action. I would like to see the national democrats put a real sensible gun control bill on the table so that people have a real choice and we have a real debate because this is not about baby steps, this is not about bump stocks and moving the age from 18-21. Those are just political crumbs to throw forward to end the political discomfort for some of the elected officials. Let’s do something real and let’s make a difference. This has been handled by countries across the globe. We can handle it if we want to. If we have the political courage and the political will to do it. It’s that simple. But it’s that difficult.”

See also:

After Parkland School Shooting, New Youth Movement Calls for Sensible Gun Control;  Will They be Played by False Flags from Trump?

__________________________________

© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

After Parkland School Shooting, New Youth Movement Calls for Sensible Gun Control; Will They be Played by False Flags from Trump?

Trump, Pence & Ryan at the State of the Union when Trump pledged his fealty to the NRA. The Parkland School Shooting has prompted a new student movement calling for gun reform. But will idealistic fervor be derailed in the political quagmire? © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

You would think after the unimaginable carnage at a country music concert in Las Vegas, that would have been enough, at least to ban bump stocks which Republicans signaled they were receptive to. Then nothing. Well not really nothing: instead of banning bump stocks, Congressional Republicans adopted Conceal Carry Reciprocity, which would essentially negate every state’s gun control regulations (so much for sacred State’s Rights). Imagine someone whipping out a concealed semi-automatic handgun in the rush hour crowd at Penn Station. Even with the heavily armed national guardsmen who patrol, 50 could be dead in the spate of seconds before anyone even realized what was happening. Now imagine another 10 people whipping out their concealed carry guns and firing in all directions.

You would think after an ex-Air Force gunman, court-martialed for domestic violence, killed 26 people at a smalltown Texas church, there would have been legislation to beef up background checks, which the vast majority of Americans, including NRA members and Republicans support. Dream on.

You would think that after Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Congress would have reauthorized the assault weapons ban that George W. Bush allowed to expire in 2006, or enacted universal background checks. Or, given that Republicans and the NRA always fall-back to mental illness, not the easy access and availability of semi-automatic high-capacity guns as the cause of massive carnage, to stiffen restrictions against those with mental illness, including veterans with PTSD, to acquire guns. Oh yes, Obama actually did that, only to have Donald Trump and Senator Charles Grassley (who ironically reflexively called for more controls to prevent mentally ill from acquiring guns), to rescind the regulation. Or after the San Bernardino terror shooting, Congress would have adopted the “No Fly, No Buy” rule. Or after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot, would have limited the capacity of ammo clips.

But no.

An ongoing Washington Post analysis has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.  After each, there is a spurt of “thoughts and prayers” and then nothing.

Seventeen school shootings, 34 mass shootings, 2008 deaths from gun violence. That’s just the body count for the first 7 weeks of 2018.

As a New York Times editorial noted, “The journal Pediatrics reported last June that gunfire, each week, kills an average of 25 children ages 17 and under. A 2016 study in The American Journal of Medicine calculated that among two dozen of the world’s wealthiest nations, this country alone accounted for 91 percent of firearms deaths among children 14 and under.

Instead, the only “solution” Congress seems to be interested in is mandating Conceal Carry Reciprocity nationwide, to “harden” schools and allow (even require) teachers to carry guns, effectively deputizing them as soldiers in this war-of-choice. (If that is the case, teachers should get battlefield pay.) The only response has been to do the NRA’s bidding: more guns.

But now, perhaps after this latest school shooting, something is different. Because the survivors are 17 and 18 year olds – a cohort of 3.9 million – who will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election if not the 2018 midterms. They know how to marshal the power of social media and organize an ongoing campaign; they are articulate, passionate, and have the energy to keep this going. And they are still idealistic enough to think they can actually force politicians to do their will, naively unaware or underestimating the political perils.

It is reminiscent, in fact, of the anti-Vietnam youth movement of the 1960s. By the time it ended, 58,200 Americans had lost their lives in a decade of fighting a war predicated on politically expedient lies.

But this is war on the homefront. This is a public health scourge in our neighborhoods: guns kill 33,000 Americans a year, the equivalent of a 9/11 each month and injure another 100,000 each year whose lives, like the 14 injured Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. will be forever altered – sports scholarships lost, college savings lost, career track altered.  Since Sept. 11, 2001, 95 Americans have been murdered on US soil by terrorists (every one an American citizen or legal resident), but in that same timeframe, guns killed 561,000.

Will this stab at activism be different?

My question is how soon will they become frustrated and beat down by the political song-and-dance? Or will they be snuckered by promises, as hollow as the bullets that the NRA defends that can pierce police protective vests?

Indeed, after traveling by bus for six hours to plead their case at the State House in Tallahassee, 100 of the Parkland students were promptly shut down by a swift 2 to 1 vote to table any discussion of banning assault weapons.

Trump, who made a show of visiting two victims in the hospital and praising first responders (not heroic teachers who now as part of their duties have to make themselves human shields, like the three  murdered in Parkland), said he might “consider” a bipartisan bill improving background checks, a statement so remarkable, it warranted front-page headlines.

He is talking about the Cronyn bill, which came out of the Texas massacre, but it only requires the military to do what they were legally supposed to have done: notifying the federal database of military who committed domestic violence and shouldn’t be able to buy a gun anyway. He made a show of ordering the Department of Justice to “examine” the possibility of new regulations banning bump stocks or any device that turns a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun. But automatic weapons are already illegal for civilian use. And heaven knows how long it will take Attorney General Jeff Sessions to come up with such regulations. Meantime, Congress is off the hook from actually doing anything that resembles even a modest stab at gun control. No slippery slope there.

And even in his phrasing, “I will be open to a bipartisan bill” to improve background checks sounds like the same bullshit he used when he betrayed Dreamers.

The reality behind his bullshit is that Trump’s budget would cut 19% from funding for background checks, and thanks to George W Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft, background checks have to be completed within just three days, and the records destroyed (that’s how the Charleston massacre was able to get his gun).

Over and over, Trump has pledged his fealty to the NRA, which apart and in concert with the Russians, did more to send him to the Oval Office than anyone or anything – $30 million in spending, split between pro-Trump and anti-Clinton campaigns. And even now, it compromises the bulk of his precious, unshakeable “base.”

In his State of the Union, he said, “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities,” which sounded as if he might finally call for action to restrain the scourge of gun violence, especially after the two most monstrous massacres in history. Instead, his next line was, “We are totally defending our Second Amendment…”

The reality is, it is easier to buy an assault rifle than buy alcohol or access reproductive health care or register to vote; it is easier to get a gun license than a drivers license, to get a gun than register a car; there are more gun stores than grocery stores, McDonalds and Starbucks combined.

Young people, don’t be played! Here’s what should constitute gun reform:

  •             Restore the ban on assault weapons; limit the capacity of ammunition clips; ban bump stocks.
  •             Require universal background checks including gun shows and private sales and online sales; remove the artificial limit in time for the check to be completed or increase the waiting period beyond 3 day.
  •             Require training and licensing and a national database of gun registration; and renewal program for license and registration (just as for a car).
  •             Bar felons, domestic abusers, those diagnosed mentally ill, anyone under the age of 21 from buying a gun, and those on a terror watch list (“No Fly, No Buy”)
  •             Tax purchases of guns and ammunition, the money going into a victims fund to pay compensation to survivors and for health care.
  •             Require gun owners to take out liability insurance, just as automobile insurance.
  •             Overturn Stand Your Ground laws; defeat Conceal Carry Reciprocity.
  •             Make parents responsible for safe storage of guns; liable and subject to manslaughter prosecution if their children use guns to kill.
  •            Treat gun violence as public health epidemic; end gag order on CDC to research gun violence and recommend protections.

Emma Gonzalez, one of the Parkland school survivors, properly called out the “bullshit.”

“The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS,” she said in an impassioned and on-target speech. “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS.

“They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.

“If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.”(Crowd chants) “Throw them out.” (Listen to her powerful speech)

Ironically, this new student movement may have a dreaded “unintended consequence” for Republicans: if the NRA lackeys are swept out of office in favor of politicians who enact true gun reform, that might also result in campaign finance reform, overturning Citizens United and requiring Disclosure of who is supplying money, finally breaking the shackles the NRA (which may well have funneled Russian money in the $55 million it spent in the 2016 campaign, including $30 million spent to elect Trump) has on lawmakers.

That would be killing two birds with one stone, not an AR15.

_________________________

© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Womens March NYC 2018 Draws 200,000 – Here are Highlights

The line-up for the Womens March NYC extended along Central Park West to 86th Street for an official total of 200,000 © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

On the first anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration and the first Women’s March that was the largest single day of protest in history, women came out in force again in New York City and more than 250 locations around the country.

They marched for womens rights, reproductive freedom, for health care; for #MeToo and #TimesUp to take a stand against sexual assault, harassment, rape and extortion. They marched for gun control and against domestic violence. They marched for families, for immigrants, for Dreamers, for the LGBTQ+ community. They marched for Mother Earth and the environment, for science and facts. They marched for voting rights, for a free press and for truth. They marched to assert basic American values- its better angels – of tolerance, diversity, and for economic, environmental, political and social justice.

MILCK with Yoko Ono on stage at the rally launching the march © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

200,000 was the official count in New York City – marchers were lined up from 63rd Street to 86th Street, but all along the side streets as well, where it took as much as 2 hours just to get onto the Central Park West march route.

MILCK on the March in NYC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Voting is my Super Power © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And unlike last year’s march which brought out millions, reflecting the despair of the aftermath of the 2016 election and was supposed to send a message to Trump and the Republicans who controlled Congress and the Courts (they didn’t get it), this day of marches – some 250 around the country bringing out some 2 million – was about action: it kicked off a voter registration drive to add 1 million to the rolls, the candidacies of a record number of women running for office (16,000 women have reached out to Emily’s List for support in 2017), and a Get out the Vote drive for the 2018 midterms.

“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed another.

Marching for a Blue Wave © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vulgarity, misogyny, bigotry and racism that Donald Trump brought to the Oval Office came down to the streets, with bursts of profanity in words (“shithole” was a popular one that Trump just introduced to the vernacular only a week ago) and gestures, with marchers giving the finger as they passed Trump International Hotel, the closest incarnation they would ever have. The tone was decidedly more angry, more outraged than a year ago.

Our Button is Bigger than Yours 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Over the past year, basic rights for women, immigrants, LGBTQ+, the religious and nonreligious, people of color and even Mother Earth have struggled to survive under the weight of the current administration. America’s First Amendment has been challenged and healthcare for millions has been threatened. We must stand together to demand and defend our rights. We will not be silent. We must remind everyone that red, white, and blue are the colors of tolerance,” stated Womens March Alliance.

And they marched with a purpose: to get people to register to vote, to run for office, and to cast their ballot.

“My vote is my Super Power,” several announced in their signs. “My Button is Bigger than Yours,” echoed others.

Welcome to the Resistance © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hillary Clinton tweeted, “In 2017, the Women’s March was a beacon of hope and defiance. In 2018, it is a testament to the power and resilience of women everywhere. Let’s show that same power in the voting booth this year. #PowerToThePolls 

Here are highlights from the Womens March NYC:

Girl Power: A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Let Our Dreamers Dream; My Vote is My Super Power © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Not My Shithole President © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Revolution is Coming © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Pride Not Prejudice © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Never too young to respect women © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Ladies Liberty © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Pussy Hats 2018 with attitude © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Trump salute © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Follow the Money © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dope. Grope. Nope. Hope. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

Our Rights are Not Up for Grabs © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rise and Resist © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dream Act Now © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Human Wall © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
No Glass Ceilings. Future President © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See also:

Women’s March Redux Jan. 20 Kicks Off Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign to ReMake Government

_________________________

© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Women’s March Redux Jan. 20 Kicks Off Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign to ReMake Government

Trump & the Republicans thought women would just forget and forgive after the Womens March a year ago, but this year’s Womens March, January 20, kicks off the 2018 midterm elections with a massive voter registration drive and thousands of women candidates to challenge the Trump/Republican regime © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Abigail Adams, writing to her husband, John Adams, a Congressman at the time, in March 1776, warned, “Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” That revolution clearly is still going on, despite finally getting the right to vote 144 years later and nearly a century ago.

Even after women staged the biggest protest in history exactly a year ago, swamping Washington DC and coming out by the hundreds of thousands in cities and hamlets across the country, Republicans did not get the message, but spent their first year in total control of all the levers of government systematically dismantling all the elements of a free and equal society, and specifically, waging a war on women’s rights, health and security.

Republicans went full throttle to attack women’s reproductive rights – the House has already passed a 20-week ban on abortion which is set to go to the Senate and is guaranteed of Trump’s signature, while dismantling health clinics.

“The threat for women—and reproductive freedom—is greater than ever,” writes Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The consequences of this bill becoming law would be gut-wrenching. Women seek abortion care after 20 weeks for a variety of reasons, including medical problems, difficulty accessing care, and the fear that comes with rape, incest, and abuse.” The bill makes it a crime for a doctor to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for a woman’s health. The bill would leave a woman—and her healthcare provider—with no safe and legal option.

And hidden in the 429-page Republican Tax Law is a provision that establishes “personhood” by giving legal rights to a fetus for the purposes of college savings accounts. “That might seem innocuous, but once that legal precedent is established, it’s a short step to banning abortion outright.”

Let’s be clear: women’s reproductive rights are not just about the freedom to make choices about one’s body, but one’s future. It is nothing less than the right to self-determination which men claim. It is about Equal Protection under the Constitution. If men have a right to life and liberty, so do women and nothing less. Men don’t require government authorization to get a vasectomy or take Viagra (covered under health insurance). And women should not be made less of a person, less of a citizen than a zygote, with government as its unappointed “Regent”.

“It took us a while to figure out,” Gloria Steinem said in an interview with The Guardian, “but patriarchy – or whatever you want to call it, the systems that say there’s masculine and feminine and other bullshit – is about controlling reproduction. Every economics course ought to start not with production but with reproduction. It is way more important.”

The tax code Trump and the Republicans are so proud of attacks everything that makes the American Dream possible, and everything that women count on for their families. Republicans have yet to reauthorize CHIP, leaving 9 million children and pregnant women without access to health care. And what of that child after the Republicans compel its birth? They are stripping away access to child care, pre-K, health care, special education. Now Republicans will go use the mounting budget deficit – $1 trillion – because of their tax plan, to go after Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, food stamps and welfare – things that women, who live longer but have lower earnings throughout their working lives, or who are more apt to be single parents – depend on to a greater degree than men. (To see what a pro-Woman agenda would look like, read what Governor Cuomo is proposing.)

Not to mention Trump’s executive actions and his appointments to EPA, Interior, Education, Health & Human Services, Energy and the judiciary who are enacted policies that harm women and families, climate and public health.

In each and every category of concern to women:  health care, immigration, climate change and environmental justice, domestic violence and gun violence prevention, criminal justice. Trump, who through words and actions has shown nothing but contempt for women, and the Republicans have sent a big F-U to women.

Republicans after the 2017 women’s marches, felt they were safe, that women would just forgive and forget, go away, be too consumed with the pressures of earning a living wage to keep their family with food and shelter, than to be politically active.

Indeed, the furor of last year’s Women’s March was quickly dissipated over addressing the Outrage Du Jour: Travel Ban, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, unleashing ICE to round up undocumented immigrants, gun massacres of historic scale, horror over the government’s failure to address the climate catastrophe Puerto Rico, efforts to repeal Obamacare, then the tax code.

But then there was the #MeToo movement. I can only imagine that the furor has some quaking at the new-found power of Womanhood (but also fear that overuse, amounting to a Salem Witchhunt, will result in a backlash).

This year’s protests are different because 2018 will be the first significant opportunity for voters to take consequential action at the polls. That’s why these protests are so much more important than a year ago.

[Last year] we marched for even bigger, more systemic issues. We marched because 1 in 4 women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime (as well as 1 in 6 men). Women make up half of the country but only 19% of Congress. Women earn 79 cents to a man’s dollar, and that percentage drops to 63 cents for Black women and 54 cents for Latina women. And there are more anti-abortion laws on the books now than at any time since Roe v. Wade,” writes Caitlin Alesio Maloney, Director of Campaign Operations & Technology.

“None of the issues went away in 2017, but we are seeing progress. #MeToo was a breakout movement that is bringing about real change. Emily’s List had 920 women interested in running for office in 2016, but 16,000 women reached out to them to run in 2017. And with the Women’s March Power to the Polls project launching the day after the anniversary marches, we know this movement can make the difference and get them elected in 2018,” she stated.

“We need to show up for #MeToo. For Time’s Up. For women’s reproductive rights. For equal pay. And we need to show up to remind Donald Trump, on the anniversary of his inauguration, that We. Will. Always. Resist.”

These are the issues but here is the action: March Into Action will be registering voters at the march to support a national effort to register 1 million women to vote by the 2018 elections.

There are some 280 women’s marches taking place across the country on Saturday, January 20, with the largest in New York City, organized by Women’s March Alliance, Corp., 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Columbus Circle  with a rally at about 11:30 (line up up Central Park West), followed by a march down to Sixth Avenue & 45th Street. (https://womensmarchalliance.org/2018-womens-march-on-nyc/2018wm-faq/

This time, instead of cutesy pink pussyhats, we should wear black and come with pitchforks (or broomsticks).

_________________________

© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Tens of Thousands to Join Women’s March to Action in NYC Jan 20, Kicking Off 2018 Midterm Voter Campaign

A year after the largest protest in history, women will gather again in New York City and across the country to demand equal rights and opportunity © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

(New York, NY) –  Nearly one year after 750,000 people marched through Manhattan in support of women’s rights and civil equality, Women’s March Alliance is gearing up for a second Women’s March on January 20, 2018 in New York City. Dubbed a “March to Action,” and organized by Women’s March Alliance, the demonstration will join a coalition of sister marches from coast to coast in support of the shared vision that all humans are equal and deserve equal treatment.

The “March to Action” kicks off a year-long partnership between Women’s March Alliance, Vote.org, Rock the Vote, HeadCount, League of Women Voters, VotoLatino, and various local groups like Activists Against Apathy seeking to bring women’s voices to the ballot box by registering one million women to vote by the 2018 National Voter Registration Day. (Information regarding the voting initiative can be found here.)

“Over the past year, basic rights for women, immigrants, LGBTQ+, the religious and nonreligious, people of color and even Mother Earth have struggled to survive under the weight of the current administration,” Women’s March Alliance stated. “America’s First Amendment has been challenged and healthcare for millions has been threatened. We must stand together to demand and defend our rights. We will not be silent. We must remind everyone that red, white, and blue are the colors of tolerance.”

“The goal of January’s march is to defend and maintain the basic rights of women, immigrants, LGBTQ+, the religious and nonreligious, people of color, and the environment,” said Katherine Siemionko, founder and President of Women’s March Alliance. “Over the last year, we’ve heard an overwhelming call for a second demonstration. With each successive degradation of basic human rights, the outpouring of support for this form of social activism grows exponentially.”

The 2017 New York City march was one of hundreds held domestically and internationally, each organized and produced by local teams of activists who had never met nor spoken to one another. These individual, local efforts resulted in the public assembly of millions of people across the world.

“The 750,000 who marched in Manhattan last year, the 250,000 who walked in the ‘Women’s March on Chicago,’ and the millions around the world who participated at the local level, proved that our voices would not be muted or silenced,” Siemionko continued. “We’re proud to be part of a sustained global movement that defends human rights in the face of adversity.”

The march is slated to begin near Columbus Circle and continue south and west through midtown, culminating in an activism fair whose aim is to connect people with the causes they care most about. These logistical plans are currently under review by the NYPD.

MARCH AND RALLY LOCATION

Rally: 11:30-1:00 EST on 61st Street and Central Park West (speakers and musical performances occur in this 90-minute block; the stage is on 61st facing north)

Speakers include: MILCK (musical performance), Aryn Quinn, Aparna Nancherla, Cecilia Eljuri (musical performance), Angy Rivera, Sulma Arzu-Brown, Antoinetta Etienne, Nadina LaSpina, Ashley Bennett, Debbie Almonster

March: 1:00-3:00pm

Entry point for marchers: Main entrance on 71st & Columbus, overflow entrances on 64th/Broadway, 68th/Columbus and  75th/Columbus.

Entrance for disabilities and ASL: 61st and Broadway.

End Point: Exits on 6th Avenue and 45th, 44th, and 43rd Street (there are post-march events planned)

Route: The March will begin on Central Park West and 61st and move south; marchers will turn east on 59th Street and then South onto Sixth Avenue; exit long 6th avenue at 45th, 44th or 43rd Streets.

Rising out of the local Women’s March on NYC, Women’s March Alliance is a nonprofit whose focus is on building strategic alliances with grassroots organizations in order to provide our community with a wide range of opportunities that empower them to demand and defend their rights. WMA aims to unify the voices and resources of grassroots organizations to collectively foster an informed and engaged community that both understands the current state of human rights across the globe and has the tools necessary to defend and advance those rights. Our mission is to amplify the collective voice and resources of human rights organizations to foster an informed and engaged community.

WMA, which stands in solidarity with the mission of sister marches across the country, has no official affiliation with the Women’s March National Team or its team of organizers.

Women’s March Alliance website: https://womensmarchalliance.org/2018wm/

Women’s March registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-womens-march-on-nyc-tickets-39150171216

Women’s March Alliance Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1934554616864486

 

Village Halloween Parade Goes on Despite Act of Terror, With a Few Messages for Trump

At the 2017 Village Halloween Parade, Rise and Resist came with costumes and signs with the message, “The Emperor Has No Clothes!” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The Village Halloween Parade is not nearly as political and outrageous as it used to be – the goal is to be an expression of creativity and if anything, good will and spirituality. But still, there were a few standouts. Notably, a whole group of Gays Against Guns, and a group calling itself “Rise & Resist” wearing costumes and carrying signs with the message, “The Emperor Has No Clothes!” Indeed, the entire parade wound up being a form of resistance against the terror attack that occurred just hours before and less than a mile away – as one parade regular put it, “a giant F-U to the terrorists.”

Just a few hours and less than a mile away from where a 29-year old used a rented pickup truck to mow down cyclists and pedestrians on the West Side Highway bikepath, killing eight and injuring 12, thousands were gathering in costumes for the 44th annual Village Halloween Parade. With high confidence that the terror attack was by a lone wolf and not coordinated, the decision was made for the parade to go on, albeit with enhanced security. Even with the counter-terrorism officers draped in military-style assault weapons, vests and helmets, and with the heightened sense of security, the police were accommodating and the mood of marchers and viewers alike more playful than seditious.

Political issues come to fore at 2017 Village Halloween Parade, NYCJust a few hours after a terror attack in Lower Manhattan, Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio join some one million marchers and onlookers at the Village Halloween Parade: “An attack won’t stop New Yorkers from being New Yorkers,” Cuomo declared. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio and NY Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill marched with the parade – which brings out one million people who line the mile-long route along Sixth Avenue and tens of thousands of marchers, giving a shout out for New Yorkers to defy terrorism by going on with their lives.

While the terrorist committed mayhem, Governor Cuomo said, “He did not stop New Yorkers from being New Yorkers.”

Speaking to Anderson Cooper on CNN, Cuomo said, “This was an attack that was designed to create terror, and it — it killed and frightened people. It was despicable. But, New Yorkers are resilient, New Yorkers go on. We learned the hard way on 9/11 that we are a target, we are the international symbol of democracy and freedom and we understand that. And since 9/11 we’ve lived with this and we’ve put together the best security force on the globe in my opinion, and we worked together and the response was great. But this afternoon was terrible.

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill, with Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio address terror attack with Spectrum News1 during the Village Halloween Parade © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Tonight we’re at a Halloween parade to say you didn’t win and you didn’t affect us and we’re out and celebrating and we’re doing what New Yorkers do and we’re living our lives because we’re not going to allow the terrorists to win, period. And that’s why I’m here marching in the parade, not because I have a great costume.”

“They are trying to divide. The point is to unite, to show normalcy. To politicize this event [as Trump did immediately] is wholly unproductive,” Governor Cuomo said later in a press conference.

Mayor DiBlasio shows appreciation to NYPD officers at the Village Halloween Parade. Security was enhanced dramatically for the 44th annual parade which draws one million people, after the terror attack just a few hours earlier and a mile away © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trump, predictably and unlike the reaction to the Las Vegas massacre which killed 58 and injured hundreds, ridiculously blamed Senator Schumer, and called for a travel ban and even more extreme vetting, in contrast to the call “this is not the time to politicize a tragedy” in response to the most lethal massacre in modern history. (Interestingly, he did not bother to call Governor Cuomo or Mayor DiBlasio as every president would have done after such a heinous event, spending his time tweeting out attacks on Democrat Sen Schumer for a diversity visa program adopted 20 years ago and signed by George HW Bush when Schumer was in the House; Schumer and the “Gang of 8” in their grand attempt to devise comprehensive immigration reform, proposed changes but Republicans blocked consideration of the immigration bill.)

Down Sixth Avenue, you could see the Freedom Tower that rose from the shattered Twin Towers, lighted red, white and blue.

“One World Trade Center was 9/11,” Cuomo told Anderson Cooper. “It was the darkest day that we went through in New York, but what we did is we got right back up and didn’t let them win. and we built back bigger, better and stronger than ever before, that’s who we are. If you think you’re going to beat us, you’re wrong. If you think these terrorist attacks are going to put a dent in the New York spirit, you’re wrong. And New York, America is about freedom and it is about democracy and will always be. And whatever attack you think you can bring is going to fail because our spirit is stronger than theirs.”

Indeed, none of Trump’s bigoted, racist anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies would have prevented this tragedy: not The Wall (this guy came into the US in 2010 through JFK), the travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries (Uzbekistan, though accounting for a large proportion of ISIS fighters, is not one of the countries excluded); or ending sanctuary cities (he was not undocumented or “illegal” but had a green card). While the pro-gun lobby is fast to blame any massacre on mental health rather than political or terror motive (like Dylann Roof or the guy who shot up a Planned Parenthood office), a “suicide by cop” or other derangement is never taken into account if the perpetrator is a Muslim or non-native.

Enhanced security at the Village Halloween Parade which took place mere hours and barely a mile from a terror attack when a 29-year old Uzbek national rammed a rented pick-up truck down the Hudson River Conservancy bikeway, killing 8 people and injuring 11. A decision was made not to cancel the 44th annual parade, which attracts million viewers and marchers along the mile-long route. NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill notes that NYC is the most heavily policed, secure city in the nation © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But what is Trump’s solution to terror?  He is threatening to cut off funds to New York City for anti-terrorism and policing, the #1 terror target in the US, because of New York City’s stance on making undocumented immigrants feel secure if the New York City does not abandon its sanctuary city policy. Indeed, this guy, who had nothing more than a traffic ticket during his time in the US, was radicalized in this country, and very likely Trump’s policies had something to do with why he was receptive to ISIS propaganda. Obama had a much more effective program to stem and stop this sort of homegrown, self-radicalized, lone-wolf terrorism – working in immigrant communities, forging relationships, making people feel secure and a part of American society with a stake in it, so they report suspicious behavior and do not fall under the spell of radicalism.

But in the end, it is impossible to completely stop such acts of terror. It is mind-blowing the speed with which authorities are looking to harden communities against such attacks — making bikelanes more secure – and yet, completely ignore the pervasive terror of gun violence that takes 33,000 lives and maims thousands more each year.

Those positions were on view during the Village Halloween Parade, which is an opportunity for people to express themselves in creative, even humorous, ways.

Here are “New Yorkers being New Yorkers”:

A regular of the Village Halloween Parade with the Parade’s long-time Artistic and Producing Director Jeanne Fleming. The 44th annual parade going on just hours after a horrific terror attack just a mile away, he said, “is a giant F-U to the terrorists.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rise & Resist: “The Emperor Has No Clothes” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Rise & Resist: “The Emperor Has No Clothes” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
White Supremacist Steve Miller © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Hands Off Mueller” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Putin with Trump © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Twitter in Chief © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The King’s Fools: “Trump’s Next Cabinet Picks” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gays Against Guns: Back Ground Checks Work © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump, NRA Have This to Say to Americans: You Must Be Soldiers and Martyrs on the Altar of Gun Rights

Mothers who lost their child to gun violence at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Jim Dean of Democracy for America says, “Congress has caved to the NRA after every mass shooting this decade, from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, from Umpqua Community College in Oregon to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and so many more. They will keep doing so until we defeat them at the ballot box.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Donald Trump loves all things “biggest”. Like the charge he gets over the United States being hit by the biggest climate catastrophes in history, Trump probably took a measure of delight at the “biggest” mass murder in US history – at this writing 59 dead and 527 injured in just a few minutes at the hands of a 64-year old white male spraying bullets with a military-grade assault rifle from 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel on an open-air folk-music concert attended by 22,000. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

In fact, there have already been 521 mass shootings in the 477 days since the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, the last record holder, drawing no remark from Trump. But this one is one for the record books.

Trump, predictably, evoked prayer and called for flying “our great flag” at half-staff. He calls for “unity” because it means mindlessly following authority. “God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.” Sure, that will salve the loss of loved ones. And to the wounded, numbering more than 500? “I pledge to you our support from this day forward.” What does that mean, exactly, when he is doing his best to take away health care from tens of millions, when any concept of health care he advocates would remove mental illness from the list of required conditions covered under Obamacare? Who pays for the multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to save and restore victims’ lives?

Imagine the tone he would have taken if the murderer was Muslim or a terrorist or a foreigner.

Trump will do his best to deflect from this tragedy, say “this is not the time” to consider sensible gun restrictions. He will call for greater security (police state), shift responsibility onto the hotel, say that 33,000 deaths a year is the “price of freedom” and move on to tax so-called “reform” aimed at furthering the redistribution of wealth to the already ridiculously wealthy and politically powerful like the NRA. Trump, the Republicans and the NRA would have us be soldiers and martyrs, terrorized and dying on the altar of gun rights. In the same way as he never criticizes Putin, Trump will never go against the NRA.

Will he be a leader and call for sensible gun violence prevention measures that are supported by 80%  of Americans including overwhelming majorities of gun-owners and NRA members, like universal background checks? Of course not. Trump has already overturned Obama orders desperate to stem gun violence, including barring people who are deemed “mentally incapacitated” from buying a gun.

Instead, the Gun Lobby – the NRA and its gun manufacturer masters – knowing they have an dufus ally in the White House and a complicit Republican majority in Congress (even after Congressman Scalise was shot and his Republican compatriots at baseball practice fired on), are pushing to ease what little gun regulations there are, for example, opening up the floodgates to the use of silencers so that innocents can be even easier prey and police would have an even harder time locating a perpetrator. In 4 minutes, 1600 rounds fired, dozens die, hundreds face lifelong injury (and how are injuries and recovery paid for with the dismantling of health care?).

The gun lobby now is enthusiastically pushing for “Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” which would overrule any state’s gun restrictions to the weakest states laws. New York State’s tough restrictions would be nullified.

There is so much that could be done and should be done if Congress really cared to stem terrorism and tragedy and promote public health and safety: universal background checks, restoring the ban on assault weapons and mega-ammo magazines; requiring gun holders to register (after all, you have to register to vote) and universal background checks; regulating online sales and ending the gun-show loophole, banning people on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, ending Stand Your Ground. And easing access to mental health care. And while you are removing the ban suppressing pediatricians Hippocratic oath and freedom of speech to counsel parents to lock away their guns; overturning the Dickey Amendment to allow research on gun safety; requiring federal dollars for military and police weaponry be “smart guns” (like smart phones) to turn the industry around.

You can never know who will become a murderer  – how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “He was such a nice man”.

But there is one common denominator for all these tragedies: the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. ISIS has already invited would-be terrorists to take advantage of lax gun laws. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons like knives and machetes and even cars, do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.

“Accessibility to weapons is the greatest national security threat in the US,” a security adviser tells NPR, and Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the US. Combine that with what we like to call a “free society.” A lone wolf is the worst nightmare of law enforcement because they are impossible to track or detect.”

The Bill of Rights does not allow for any restriction on guns? Nonsense: read the full 2nd Amendment, not just the “shall not be infringed” part and you will see that it is the ONLY amendment that has qualifications and limitations built in: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state….” If you would be an “originalist” taking the 2ndamendment literally, you would restrict gun ownership to people who are in the National Guard or military or police – those who provide for the “security of a free state” and the “common defense” – there is nothing about an individual’s unlimited right to have a gun. And if you would be a true ideological, fundamentalist “originalist” you would restrict a gun to a single-ball musket, which was the most advanced technology of the time, a time when people had to hunt their food and protect themselves from Indians and in the absence of a standing army, settlers had to defend against an invading force.

On the other hand, the Constitution provides for a government “by the people, for the people” and for voting, and the Trumpists have no problem whatsoever imposing such onerous voter registration procedures and election site restrictions that become obstacles to the right to vote. Isn’t that interesting: it’s okay to require voter registration but not gun registration. In fact, in Texas, a gun permit is acceptable ID for voting, but a college student ID is not.

You can never know who will become a murderer (how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “he was such a nice man”) – as is the case of the Las Vegas shooter, who did not seem to conform with any of the usual attributes of a mass murderer (white male, 64 years old, no political or religious agenda, well-off, in a relationship, no history of mental illness). But there is a common denominator for all these tragedies – Tucson, Orlando, San Bernardino, Columbine, Virginia Tech  – the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons – knives, machetes – do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.

Consider how much of our GDP goes to security in order to protect the “freedom” of gun owners but take away the security, freedom, and the very lives of everyone else . Just look at the money we spend to safeguard our schools that could otherwise go to actually teaching. Now hotels, amusement parks, churches, shopping malls, and concert venues will also have to allocate their operating budgets. Think of the rights we allow to be trampled in order leave unrestrained the 2nd amendment: 1st amendment rights of free speech and assembly and 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and privacy. Would that they value voting rights as highly.

But as Senator Bernie Sanders reminded us, there have been more mass shootings this year than days of the year, this is just the most sensational.

“..it should be clear to all that we have got to do everything we can to stop guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them. It is long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety to save innocent lives.”

Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, stated,  “Easy access to guns–particularly weapons designed to kill many people rapidly–repeatedly leads to tragedy and loss of life.  Rather than ‘thoughts and prayers’ from our elected officials, we need action to address this public health epidemic.”

Jim Dean, chair of Democracy For America, put it more bluntly:

“How is Congress responding to last night’s terror attack in Las Vegas? By getting ready to pass a bill to make it easier to buy silencers — a top priority for the NRA.

“Republican elected officials offer their thoughts and prayers. They lower flags to half-staff. But they will never act to stop gun violence and mass shootings, because they’re in league with the NRA.

“The NRA is unrepentant. They and their allies in Congress don’t think there’s anything wrong with what happened in Las Vegas last night. In fact, they are doubling down in support of laws that enable white men like Stephen Paddock to use guns to terrorize their families and communities.

“Congress has caved to the NRA after every mass shooting this decade, from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, from Umpqua Community College in Oregon to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and so many more. They will keep doing so until we defeat them at the ballot box.

“The NRA and their Republican allies are not just promoting gun violence — they are promoting white supremacy and toxic masculinity.

“They refuse to acknowledge that these mass shooters are terrorists, because the people doing the shooting are mostly white men. When it’s a person of color, however, they’re quick to call them terrorists.

“The NRA’s primary agenda is to promote a culture of gun ownership among white men — often by demonizing people of color as threats. The NRA vehemently defends “stand your ground” laws that were used to let the man who killed Trayvon Martin off the hook.

“The NRA also openly enables violence against women, including by their past opposition to legislation to keep guns out of the hands of men who have threatened or committed domestic violence. Many mass shooters have a history of violent threats and acts against women. It’s part of the ‘profile’ of these shooters now.”

Gabby Giffords, who was an Arizona Congresswoman until she was shot in the head by a mass murderer only stopped when one of his guns jammed, and now heads Americans for Responsible Solutions, wrote: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this shooting, their families, and their friends. But the truth is, for those who have the power to act and to save lives, thoughts and prayers are not nearly enough.

“So today, I am praying for my former colleagues as well — that they find the courage to make progress on the issue of gun violence in America…

“Some will say that now is not the time to have this conversation, but the truth is that we cannot wait. Congress cannot delay. Now is exactly the right time to take positive action that will keep our our communities safer. The nation is counting on them.

“I also know enough from my time in Congress that action is only possible if people make their voices heard. So today, especially today, I want to ask you to do just that — to demand action from our elected leaders. Action that will save lives:

““Tell Congress: ENOUGH is ENOUGH. Pass legislation to make our communities safer from gun violence. To do nothing is not acceptable. Now is the time for action.”

“We watch, time and time again, as people describe these mass shootings as unimaginable acts of evil, but the sad fact is that this is not true. There is no other advanced nation in the world where these kinds of mass shootings happen with this kind of frequency.

“The only thing that is unimaginable is the continuous legislative inaction on this issue.

“Hopefully this time will be different, but I know that’s only possible if all of us are willing to act.”

Trump, who has already proved himself incompetent as a leader and who condones police brutality and torture and tells rallies, “Your 2nd Amendment is safe with me,” will do nothing beyond tweet his prayers and attack his critics.

Yes, this is one for the history books. The question is will it be surpassed? Thanks to the utter lack of sensible gun violence prevention, it is all too easy to do so.

________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Federal Bill Would Overturn State, Local Gun Laws, Open Way for Domestic Abusers, Terrorists, Felons to Carry Concealed Weapons

Alternate Universe: Hillary Clinton meets with women who lost family members to gun violence, in Port Washington, Long Island, during the 2016 presidential campaign. When Donald Trump came to Long Island, he boasted that he saved the Second Amendment © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

In Trump’s absurd “law and order” speech delivered to Suffolk County, Long Island, police officers, he made a side reference, after noting how horrible violence is that takes our sons and daughters, even husbands and wives, that he and he alone has saved the Second Amendment.

“But we’re just getting started,” Trump said. “We will restore law and order on Long Island.  We’ll bring back justice to the United States.  I’m very happy to have gotten a great, great Justice of the United States Supreme Court, not only nominated, but approved.  And, by the way, your Second Amendment is safe.  (Applause.)  Your Second Amendment is safe.  I feel very good about that.  It wasn’t looking so good for the Second Amendment, was it, huh?  If Trump doesn’t win, your Second Amendment is gone.  Your Second Amendment would be gone.”

An interesting remark considering that New York State has one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation, which can explain why Long Island and New York City have some of the lowest rates of gun violence for their size in the country.

Now, an upstate New York Congressman, Chris Collins (who didn’t do enough damage with his Repeal & Replace Obamacare amendment that was written solely to hurt New York State), is proposing a federal bill to preempt state and local gun laws.

“Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” would allow more people who have never passed a background check or fired a gun in their lives to carry hidden, loaded firearms in public crowds as soon as they buy them. While nearly every state requires people to qualify for a permit to carry loaded, concealed weapons in public, some states have strong permit requirements, others have very lax restrictions or none at all.

What this bill would do is say that if you have a permit from ANY state in the country, ALL states must recognize it, which means the weakest state laws will effectively become nationwide laws, as all states will be forced to accept them.

So much for the 10th Amendment crowd who purport to want states rights (including the rights of states to ignore Affordable Care Act mandates), and who have said time and time again that government works best that is most local to the people. Except when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, environmental protection, climate action, and gun control.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence has come out strongly condemning H.R. 3576, a federal bill introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY 27) that would preempt state and local gun safety laws regulating rifles and shotguns, including background check requirements on the transfer of these guns.

The bill would pose a danger to New Yorkers by overriding the common sense gun laws enacted by state and local governments. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also condemned this federal proposal and expressed strong support for New York State’s gun safety laws.

“Representative Collins’ dangerous proposal is a drastic, politically-driven attempt to override state and local laws that reasonably regulate the sale and transfer of shotguns and rifles, including assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” said Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

“This extreme federal legislation would even gut applicable background check requirements and allow felons, domestic abusers, and others who are a danger to themselves or others to easily access such guns.  New York has the third lowest gun death rate in the nation and our common sense gun laws have prevented gun deaths and injuries across our state.  We condemn this unconscionable, gun lobby-backed bill that undermines states’ rights and threatens the lives and well-being of families and communities in New York and across the country,” she added.

“It is interesting that Congressman Collins holds himself out as having conservative values and yet he is pushing a bill that would challenge the rights of states and localities to set policy regarding gun sales,” said Gary Pudup, NYAGV’s Western New York Coordinator.  “This extreme federal bill is both vague and overly broad and could easily be challenged as unconstitutional. As a gun owner and retired police officer myself, I also find it incomprehensible that any reasonable, law-abiding gun owner would be in favor of eliminating background checks on the sale of rifles and shotguns,” he added.

“In 2013, following the Sandy Hook tragedy, New York State rose to the occasion and passed the toughest gun safety laws in the nation,” stated New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Democrats and Republicans came together to ban assault weapons from coming into the state, ban high capacity magazines and keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.

“Now, in a blatant political ploy, Chris Collins is turning his back on New Yorkers and putting millions of people at profound risk. By fighting to roll back vital legislation that protects the people of the Empire State, Collins is demonstrating once again that he is beholden to no one but the gun lobby and entrenched special interests.

“This disturbing bill puts New Yorkers in harm’s way – and to make it worse, there is no basis for it. None. The courts have resoundingly upheld New York’s law as consistent with the Constitution. We understand that Washington is in turmoil right now – we just ask that they don’t do anything to set back the progress we’ve been able to make despite them.”

______________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump to NRA: ‘I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never ever.’

 

Donald Trump to NRA Conference: “…public officials must serve under the Constitution, not above it,” he said. “We all took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States — and that means defending the Second Amendment.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump had nothing to say, no tears to shed when a teacher and a student were murdered when her husband, a man who had already been cited for domestic violence, came into her classroom and shot her with a gun. But he had a lot to say to the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, on April 28, his 99th day occupying the Oval Office, becoming the first since Reagan to address the conference. He profusely thanked the NRA membership for support in taking the Electoral College, and the Heritage Foundation for supplying the list of nominees he should tout for Supreme Court justice. He extolled the Rule of Law and abiding by the Constitution – that is, the Second Amendment – and made sure to conflate the Second Amendment with building a wall to keep out Mexicans.

“But we can’t be complacent.  These are dangerous times.  These are horrible times for certain obvious reasons.  But we’re going to make them great times again.  Every day, we are up against those who would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties, and even those who want to abolish the Second Amendment.  We must be vigilant…

“So let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans in the audience today:  As your President, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  Never ever.   Freedom is not a gift from government.  Freedom is a gift from God.”  

Here’s a highlighted transcript of his remarks – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

2:06 P.M. EDT

Thank you, Chris, for that kind introduction and for your tremendous work on behalf of our Second Amendment.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  I want to also thank Wayne LaPierre for his unflinching leadership in the fight for freedom.  Wayne, thank you very much.  Great.  (Applause.)

I’d also like to congratulate Karen Handel on her incredible fight in Georgia 6.  (Applause.)  The election takes place on June 20th.  And, by the way, on primaries, let’s not have 11 Republicans running for the same position, okay?  (Laughter.)  It’s too nerve-shattering.  She’s totally for the NRA and she’s totally for the Second Amendment.  So get out and vote.  She’s running against someone who’s going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your healthcare, and he’s for open borders — lots of crime, and he’s not even able to vote in the district that he’s running in.  Other than that, I think he’s doing a fantastic job, right?  (Laughter.)  So get out and vote for Karen.

Also, my friend — he’s become a friend, because there’s nobody that does it like Lee Greenwood.  Wow.  (Applause.)  Lee’s anthem is the perfect description of the renewed spirit sweeping across our country.  And it really is, indeed, sweeping across our country.  So, Lee, I know I speak for everyone in this arena when I say, we are all very proud indeed to be an American.  Thank you very much, Lee.  (Applause.)

No one was more proud to be American than the beloved patriot — and you know who I’m talking about — we remember on gatherings like today, your former five-term President, the late Charlton Heston.  How good was Charlton?  (Applause.)  And I remember Charlton, he was out there fighting when maybe a lot of people didn’t want to be fighting.  He was out there for a long time.  He was a great guy.

And it’s truly wonderful to be back in Atlanta, and back with my friends at the NRAYou are my friends, believe me.  (Applause.)  Perhaps some of you remember the last time we were all together.  Remember that?  We had a big crowd then, too.  So we knew something was happening.  But it was in the middle of a historic political year, and in the middle of a truly historic election.  What fun that was — November 8.  Wasn’t that a great evening?  Do you remember that evening?  (Applause.)  Remember that?  (Applause.)

Remember they were saying, “We have breaking news: Donald Trump has won the state of Michigan.”  They go, “Michigan?  How did that” — “Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin, whoa.”  But earlier in the evening, remember, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, all the way up — we ran up the East Coast.  And, you know, the Republicans have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College, you know that.  Tremendous disadvantage.  And to run the whole East Coast, and then you go with Iowa and Ohio, and all of the different states.  It was a great evening, one that a lot people will never forget — a lot of people.  (Applause.)  Not going to forget that evening. 

And remember they said, “There is no path to 270.”  For months I was hearing that.  You know, they’re trying to suppress the vote.  So they keep saying it, so people say, you know, I really like Trump, he loves the Second Amendment, he loves the NRA; I love him, but let’s go to the movie because he can’t win.  Because they’re trying to suppress the vote.

But they’d say — I mean, hundreds of times I heard, there is no — there’s no route.  They’d say it, “There is no route to 270.”  And we ended up with 306.  So they were right:  Not 270, 306.  (Applause.)  That was some evening.  Big sports fans said that was the single-most exciting event they’ve ever seen.  That includes Super Bowls and World Series and boxing matches.  That was an exciting evening for all of us, and it meant a lot.

Only one candidate in the General Election came to speak to you, and that candidate is now the President of the United States, standing before you again.  (Applause.)  I have a feeling that in the next election you’re going to be swamped with candidates, but you’re not going to be wasting your time.  You’ll have plenty of those Democrats coming over and you’re going to say, no, sir, no thank you — no, ma’am.  Perhaps ma’am.  It may be Pocahontas, remember that.  (Laughter and applause.)  And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you. 

But you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.  (Applause.)  I was proud to receive the NRA’s earliest endorsement in the history of the organization.  And today, I am also proud to be the first sitting President to address the NRA Leadership Forum since our wonderful Ronald Reagan in 1983.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank each and every one of you not only for your help electing true friends of the Second Amendment, but for everything you do to defend our flag and our freedom.

With your activism, you helped to safeguard the freedoms of our soldiers who have bled and died for us on the battlefields.  And I know we have many veterans in the audience today, and we want to give them a big, big beautiful round of applause.  (Applause.)

And, like I promised, we are doing a really top job already — 99 days — but already with the Veterans Administration, people are seeing a big difference.  We are working really hard at the VA, and you’re going to see it, and you’re already seeing it.  And it’s my honor.  I’ve been telling you we’re going to do it, and we’re doing it.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

The NRA protects in our capitols and legislative houses the freedoms that our servicemembers have won for us on those incredible battlefields.  And it’s been a tough fight against those who would go so far as to ban private gun ownership entirely.   But I am here to deliver you good news.  And I can tell you that Wayne and Chris have been fighting with me long and hard to make sure that we were with you today, not somebody else with an empty podium.  Because believe me, the podium would have been empty.  They fought long and hard, and I think you folks cannot thank them enough.  They were with us all the way, right from the beginning.  (Applause.)

But we have news that you’ve been waiting for for a long time:  The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.  (Applause.)  You have a true friend and champion in the White House.  No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners.  (Applause.)  No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans.  Instead, we will work with you, by your side.  We will work with the NRA to promote responsible gun ownership, to protect our wonderful hunters and their access to the very beautiful outdoors.  You met my son — I can tell you, both sons, they love the outdoors.  Frankly, I think they love the outdoors more than they love, by a long shot, Fifth Avenue.  But that’s okay.  And we want to ensure you of the sacred right of self-defense for all of our citizens.  (Applause.)

When I spoke to this forum last year, our nation was still mourning the loss of a giant, a great defender of the Constitution:  Justice Antonin Scalia.  (Applause.)  I promised that if elected, I would nominate a justice who would be faithful and loyal to the Constitution.  I even went one step further and publicly presented a list of 20 judges from which I would make my selection, and that’s exactly what we did.

And, by the way, I want to thank, really, Heritage.  And I want to thank also all of the people that worked with us.  Where’s Leo?  Is Leo around here?  Where is he?  He’s got to be here.  Where is he?  He has been so good.  And also from Heritage, Jim DeMint.  It’s been amazing.  I mean, those people have been fantastic.  They’ve been real friends.  (Applause.)  The Federalist people — where are they?  Are they around here someplace?  They really helped us out. 

I kept my promise, and now, with your help, our brand-new Justice — and he is really something very special — Neil Gorsuch, sits on the bench of the United States Supreme Court.  (Applause.)  For the first time in the modern political era, we have confirmed a new justice in the first 100 days.  (Applause.)  The last time that happened was 136 years ago, in 1881.  Now, we won’t get any credit for this, but don’t worry about it, the credit is in the audience, right?  The credit is in the audience.  (Applause.)  All of those people.  They won’t give us credit, but it’s been a long time, and we’re very honored.

We’ve also taken action to stand up for America’s sportsmen.  On their very last full day in office, the previous administration issued an 11th-hour rule to restrict the use of lead ammunition on certain federal lands.  Have you heard about that, folks?  I’m shocked to hear that.  You’ve all heard about that.  You’ve heard about that.  On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke eliminated the previous administration’s ammunition ban.  (Applause.)  He’s going to be great.  Ryan is going to be great.

We’ve also moved very quickly to restore something gun owners care about very, very much.  It’s called the rule of law.  (Applause.)  We have made clear that our administration will always stand with the incredible men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  In fact, countless members of law enforcement are also members of the NRA, because our police know that responsible gun ownership saves lives, and that the right of self-defense is essential to public safety.  Do we all agree with that?  (Applause.) 

Our police and sheriffs also know that when you ban guns, only the criminals will be armed.  (Applause.)  For too long, Washington has gone after law-abiding gun owners while making life easier for criminals, drug dealers, traffickers and gang members.  MS-13 — you know about MS-13?  It’s not pleasant for them anymore, folks.  It’s not pleasant for them anymore.  That’s a bad group.  (Applause.)  Not pleasant for MS-13.  Get them the hell out of here, right?  Get them out.  (Applause.)

We are protecting the freedoms of law-abiding Americans, and we are going after the criminal gangs and cartels that prey on our innocent citizens.  And we are really going after them.  (Applause.)

As members of the NRA know well, some of the most important decisions a President can make are appointments — and I’ve appointed people who believe in law, order, and justice.  (Applause.)

That is why I have selected as your Attorney General, number one, a really fine person, a really good man, a man who has spent his career fighting crime, supporting the police, and defending the Second Amendment.  For the first time in a long time, you now have a pro-Second-Amendment, tough-on-crime Attorney General, and his name is Jeff Sessions.  (Applause.)

And Attorney General Sessions is putting our priorities into action.  He’s going after the drug dealers who are peddling their poison all over our streets and destroying our youth.  He’s going after the gang members who threaten our children.  And he’s fully enforcing our immigration laws in all 50 states.  And you know what?  It’s about time.  (Applause.)

Heading up the effort to secure America’s borders is a great military general, a man of action:  Homeland Security Director [sic], John Kelly.  (Applause.)

Secretary Kelly, who used to be General Kelly, is following through on my pledge to protect the borders, remove criminal aliens, and stop the drugs from pouring into our country.  We’ve already seen — listen to this; it never happened before, people can’t even believe it.  And, by the way, we will build the wall no matter how low this number gets or how this goes.  Don’t even think about it.  Don’t even think about it.  (Applause.)

You know, they’re trying to use this number against us because we’ve done so unbelievably at the borders already.  They’re trying to use it against us.  But you need that wall to stop the human trafficking, to stop the drugs, to stop the wrong people.  You need the wall.  But listen to this:  We’ve already seen a 73 percent decrease — never happened before — in illegal immigration on the southern border since my election — 73 percent.  (Applause.)

You see what they’re doing, right?  So why do you need a wall?  We need a wall. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Build the wall!

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll build the wall.  Don’t even think about it.  Don’t even think about it.  Don’t even think about it.  That’s an easy one.  We’re going to build the wall.  We need the wall. 

I said to General Kelly, how important is it?  He said, very important.  It’s that final element.  We need the wall.  And it’s a wall in certain areas.  Obviously, where you have these massive physical structures you don’t need, and we have certain big rivers and all.  But we need a wall, and we’re going to get that wall.  (Applause.)

And the world is getting the message.  They know that our border is no longer open to illegal immigration, and that if you try to break in, you’ll be caught and you’ll be returned to your home.  You’re not staying any longer.  And if you keep coming back illegally after deportation, you will be arrested, prosecuted, and you will put behind bars.  Otherwise it will never end.  (Applause.)

Let’s also remember that immigration security is national security.  We’ve seen the attacks from 9/11 to Boston to San Bernardino.  Hundreds of individuals from other countries have been charged with terrorism-related offenses in the United States.

We spend billions and billions of dollars on security all over the world, but then we allow radical Islamic terrorists to enter right through our front door.  That’s not going to happen anymore.  (Applause.)  It’s time to get tough.  It’s time we finally got smart.  And yes, it’s also time to put America first.  (Applause.)

And perhaps — I see all of those beautiful red and white hats — but we will never forget our favorite slogan of them all:  Make America Great Again.  All right?  (Applause.)

Keeping our communities safe and protecting our freedoms also requires the cooperation of our state leaders.  We have some incredible pro-Second Amendment governors here at the NRA conference, including Governor Scott of Florida.  Where is Governor Scott?  Great guy doing a great job.  Governor Bryant of Mississippi.  What a wonderful place.  Governor Bryant is here.  Thank you.  Governor Deal of Georgia.  (Applause.)  And we’re also joined by two people that — well, one I loved right from the beginning; the other one I really liked, didn’t like, and now like a lot again.  (Laughter.)  Does that make sense?  Senator David Perdue — he was from the beginning — and Senator Ted Cruz — like, dislike, like.  (Applause.)  Where are they?  Good guys.  Good guys.  Smart cookies.

Each of these leaders knows that public officials must serve under the Constitution, not above it.  We all took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States — and that means defending the Second Amendment.  (Applause.)

So let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans in the audience today:  As your President, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  Never ever.  (Applause.)  Freedom is not a gift from government.  Freedom is a gift from God.  (Applause.)

It was this conviction that stirred the heart of a great American patriot on that day, April, 242 years ago. It was the day that Paul Revere spread his Lexington alarm — the famous warning that “the British are coming, the British are coming.” Right?  You’ve all heard that, right?  The British are coming.

Now we have other people trying to come, but believe me, they’re not going to be successful.  That I can tell you.  (Applause.)  Nothing changes, right, folks?  Nothing changes.  They are not going to be successful.  There will be serious hurt on them, not on us. 

Next, came the shot heard around the world, and then a rag-tag army of God-fearing farmers, frontiersmen, shopkeepers, merchants that stood up to the most powerful army at that time on Earth.  The most powerful army on Earth.  But we sometimes forget what inspired those everyday farmers and workers in that great war for independence.

Many years after the war, a young man asked Captain Levi Preston, aged 91, why he’d fought alongside his neighbors at Concord.  Was it the Stamp Act?  Was it the Tea Tax?  Was it a work of philosophy?  “No,” the old veteran replied. “Then why?” he was asked.  “Young man,” the Captain said, “what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this:  We always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to” govern ourselves.  (Applause.)

Captain Preston’s words are a reminder of what this organization and my administration are all about:  the right of a sovereign people to govern their own affairs, and govern them properly.  (Applause.)  We don’t want any longer to be ruled by the bureaucrats in Washington, or in any other country for that matter.  In America, we are ruled by our citizens.  We are ruled by each and every one of you.

But we can’t be complacent.  These are dangerous times.  These are horrible times for certain obvious reasons.  But we’re going to make them great times again.  Every day, we are up against those who would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties, and even those who want to abolish the Second Amendment.  We must be vigilant.  And I know you are all up to the task. 

Since the first generation of Americans stood strong at Concord, each generation to follow has answered the call to defend freedom in their time.  That is why we are here today:  To defend freedom for our children.  To defend the liberty of all Americans.  And to defend the right of a free and sovereign people to keep and bear arms.

I greatly appreciated your support on November 8th, in what will hopefully be one of the most important and positive elections for the United States of all time.  And to the NRA, I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down.

Thank you.  God Bless you.  God Bless our Constitution, and God bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                2:35 P.M. EDT

Long Island Congressman Suozzi Tells Frustrated, Fearful Constituents ‘The 3rd Will be Heard’

Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) answers questions from a capacity crowd during a Town Hall held at the JCC in Plainview © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Tom Suozzi’s town hall, his first as the Congressman representing New York’s 3rd District, was Standing Room Only, but he handled it with grace and aplomb, managing to organize what could have been an unruly outpouring of frustration, consternation, anger and anxiety into a productive discussion.

He presented the four key issues he believed most people wanted to discuss – Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), Trump-Putin ties and conflicts of interest, the travel ban, immigration and the environment – then held it up to a vote to ask if that met with approval. Then he picked four or five people to ask questions before moving on to the next topic.

Who wants to stay until 8:30? 9:15? 9:30? All night? 9:30 was the decision.

That’s how it went throughout the night with a return to key points: this is what democracy looks like. Let’s be realistic: I’m a junior Congressman from a minority party. And finally: it is up to you. Your voice. Your activism.

Congressman Tom Suozzi, a political pragmatist, on the difficult line between obstructing the Trump/right wing agenda and getting something done: ‘I will remain an idealist as long as I can, but with eyes wide open.’ © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Most ingenious of all: he divided up his 3rd Congressional district into 16 neighborhoods – “The Third Will be Heard” – and tried to recruit people to join committees to stay active – write letters to local newspapers (the media with the most trust, he said), go door to door if necessary, engage in conversations with friends, family and others, instead of that old-saw of politics being a taboo subject.

Whenever someone introduced themselves as an expert – such as the scientist with Feinstein Institute who is a member of a newly formed Science Advocacy of Long Island (who have much to be concerned with as the Trump Administration destroys data on climate change and looks to shut down NASA’s Climate monitoring activities) – he would recruit them onto the committee. The high school fellow too young to vote whose friends are completely apathetic? You’re recruited. Get your friends engaged.

“Take that energy, that excitement and use it in a constructive forum to win the battle,” he said.

Congressman Tom Suozzi pays respect to former Long Island Congressman Lester Wolff, now 98 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the debate swirling over whether Democrats should be as obstructionist as the Republicans were during Obama’s presidency, Suozzi clearly appreciates that “politics is the art of the possible” (as Hillary Clinton said, much to the consternation of the Bernie Sanders ultra-left progressives who likely were among the 92 million voters who did not come out and vote, handing the reins of power and policy to the exact opposite of Obama/Clinton).

Indeed, Suozzi as Congressman is functioning exactly as he said he would during the campaign: as someone who prefers to find common ground in order to accomplish something.

He told the packed audience that filled the room to capacity that he is a member of a newly formed (can you imagine?) Problem Solvers Caucus, consisting of 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats. They are trying to find some consensus on issues such as infrastructure and tax reform (good luck with that).

Interestingly, when Suozzi asked for a show of hands of people who had never been politically engaged before, an estimates 40% of the room raised hands.

A capacity crowd attended Long Island Congressman Suozzi’s town hall © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Some of the questions and comments were extremely moving: the woman whose husband is being treated, thanks to Obamacare, for cancer “he’s on the verge of being cured, but if Obamacare is repealed, he would have a preexisting condition”; the son whose father has advanced Parkinsons, who lost his job and if Obamacare is repealed, faces the dilemma of providing quality of life for the father or the family.

A woman speaking haltingly because of her disability, fearful of proposals to cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security and instead to send money to states to use as a block grant, a fear echoed by parents and of siblings of disabled people, who declared “I’m tired of people characterizing us as lazy”.

An immigrant man whose college-age son can’t get an internship because of his status; the woman who migrated from India 28 years ago as a 15 year old, who described the “extreme vetting” then, which has only gotten more intense under Obama; and people who asked what can be done to alleviate the anxiety in their communities over sweeps.

Suozzi noted that as Glen Cove Mayor he fought against having local police become defacto ICE agents because of the importance of the community having trust in its government and law enforcement and the value of “community policing”.

A mother expresses her concern about the future of a pre-school for special needs children because of funding © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

He also acknowledged when someone brought up something that he was not aware of – like the problem with a local pre-school that serves special needs children which has to negotiate individually for grants from state and county government, and has seen only a 2% increase in funding over the last six years.

“The Third Will be Heard” 

Suozzi did not disguise the surprise at the turnout, noting that in his years as an elected official (Mayor, Nassau County Supervisor) well accustomed to holding town halls, he has never seen anything like this.

He asked what groups were represented: a number were newly formed in response to Trump’s election including several Indivisible groups, who came with pre-printed signs “Agree”, “Disagree” (an effective mechanism to communicate with the Congressman. Others included Reach Out America, Moveon.Org, Science Advocacy of Long Island, Long Island Together, Every Child Matters, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, 10100, NY Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, NOW of Nassau-Suffolk, Code Pink Long Island, Long Island OptOut, Huntington Democrats, among others.

A score of groups were represented at Congressman Suozzi’s town hall, including people from Indivisible who let the Congressman know when they agreed or disagreed with a speaker © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

One of reasons Democrats lost is because they didn’t mobilize locally, he said, which is why he hopes to try to keep the energy going, and why he kept going back to the need for the people to get the change they want.

He started off with some of his own comments:

Travel Ban? We are less safe, he said, and putting the ramifications of the Muslim ban and curtailment of immigrants and refugees, he said.  “There are 80,000 people worldwide in organized terror groups. There are 65 million refugees, due to climate change, civil war, feminism. This is a nation of immigrants, a nation dedicated to two propositions: all men and women are created equal and entitled to respect and dignity.”

The enhanced sweeps of undocumented immigrants (unfurled in a way that shows the lie of only going after the “bad hombres”) “makes us less safe when communities distrust their local police force. People turn to gangs for protection when they are afraid of law enforcement.”

He was asked about the Stop Arming Terrorists Act that Tulsi Gabbard has proposed. “I have to research further,” he said honestly, adding, “It’s true the US funded Osama bin Ladin against the Russians, and Saddam Hussein, and funded the Syrian regime before, and we are still funding the Saudis who fund terror groups. We did it to have access to oil.

“But, for the first time 50 years we are not dependent on oil from the Mideast. This is an opportunity that is not likely to be seized on by the Trump Administration.”

Had Trump not reversed all the Obama policies that bolstered homegrown, clean renewable energy, the US could have said to these dictators, “We don’t want your land your oil. But we need to move more to clean energy to make this happen.” (Trump, in his speech to the CIA the day after the inauguration, as the Women’s March was going past the White House, said that he thought we would have a second chance at taking Iraq’s oil, because he had been taught that “to the victor belongs the spoils.”)

Obamacare: Mend It Don’t End It

On the first topic, Obamacare, a man said he was walking proof of the problems, because his wife suffers from cancer, and over the past two years, one insurance company after another pulled out, until the hospital where his wife was being treated said they would not treat her because there was no carrier in the exchange. Now, his wife has a pre-existing condition.

Suozzi said, “There are problems with ACA. But we need to mend it, not end it.” He said he supported single-payer (essentially Medicare for All), but that wasn’t possible under Obama, who instead bent over backwards, even picking up on the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s model that preserved for-profit health insurance companies as the intermediary for obtaining health care which had been put into place in Massachusetts under Governor Romney. Obama was unable to get a public option. But even after bending over backwards to accommodate Republicans, not a single one voted in favor of ACA, but instead, spent six years voting 60 times to repeal it, even forcing a government shut down.

People raised concern about the proposal to tax people differently for health care based on age, not income, a scheme to cut $216 billion in spending ; of capping how much employers give to employees for health insurance which then would be taxed as income.

“It’s time to get out the Uzzi and go after Price [the new Secretary of Health & Human Services, whose 2015 bill repealing Obamacare is the most likely model]. Go after Republicans for raising taxes.”

A young man described how his father had advanced Parkinsons and then was laid off and lost his health insurance. Now he has a pre-existing condition. Repealing Obamacare, he said, “would force our family to choose between my father’s well-being and our family’s.”

Suozzi responded, “This is real life, the devastating effect of repealing Obamacare.”

Turning next to the Trump-Putin and conflicts of interest topic, Suozzi said he would support a bill to require Trump to release his taxes, and would support an independent (not just bipartisan) commission to investigate his ties to Russia and possible collusion of his campaign with Russian agents to swing the election.

“This is why you are so important,” he said. “I don’t want you to understate what you are doing. It’s working. We need reasonable Americans to put country ahead of party. Since McCarthy, Republicans have tried to paint Democrats as unpatriotic. This is a generational opportunity to change that dynamic.”

‘Invest in me. I’m the future.’ © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Travel Ban: Guns Kill, Not Refugees

A man noted that none of the 7 countries under Trump’s ban has had anything to do with terrorism in the US since 1975 (on the other hand, terrorist acts were committed by people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and none of these were included in the ban), using the premise of public safety. But 34,000 people are killed each year by gun violence.

“Guns kill, not refugees,” a woman said.

Suozzi said that even when he brought together gun rights advocates with gun control advocates, there was general consensus on the need for universal background checks (instead, the Republicans just overturned Obama’s requirement for mentally ill people receiving services from Social Security to be included in the database). The reason there is no commonsense gun regulation is the same that reasonable health care is blocked: moneyed interests. “It’s always about the money.”

Congressman Tom Suozzi poses for a selfie with daughters of a woman who emigrated at age 15 from India © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But the focus on Trump’s use of fear and under the guise of “national security” push through anti-democratic policies (such as his threat to “send in the feds” to Chicago and use military precision to round up undocumented immigrants with expedited review so that their cases are not properly adjudicated, his attacks on free press and an independent judiciary and reestablish private prisons) prompted a woman to remark, “Be afraid. The America you know won’t exist in 15 years. Republics disappear. Commitment is important. We should be afraid that America will slip away from us, we must persevere.”

This raised the issue of campaign finance reform and gerrymandering and voter suppression. Suozzi confessed his inability to significantly change any of that, but that it is up to the people to get people out to vote, which is another compelling reason for his neighborhood-based activism. He said his office would be engaged in voter registration campaign.

Rachel Carcalelli of Great Neck Plaza, an environmentalist, noted that Superstorm Sandy cost $75 billion. “We need to rebuild infrastructure in sustainable ways – public transportation, water systems, renewable energy, sanitation.”

Instead, Nassau County will see $6.5 million cut in bus service.

In each case, Suozzi went back to his go-to – that people need to stay active and engaged, to join his neighborhood teams in order to spread the word.

Challenged by a Sanders supporter to reject everything the Republicans propose, Suozzi said, “I’ve been in politics 20 years. I won a lot, lost a few. JFK described himself as an idealist without illusions. I’m not a sucker. I still believe in this country, the power of people. Politics is a noble profession. I will remain an idealist as long as I can, but with eyes wide open.”

A woman noted that many in the audience “are new to politics, to this forum” and might be helped to have more realistic expectations of what Suozzi and the Democratic party, being essentially powerless in the House, can achieve.

Indeed, Suozzi offered a dose of reality to many of the speakers, such as when he was asked to solve the eons old problem of campaign finance reform and gerrymandering. “Nice idea but it’s not realistic for junior member in minority party,” he told one speaker. “All the stuff coming over transom – there’s no free time.” He listed what he is engaged in so far:  foreign affairs committee, armed services committee,. “I want to focus on important things in the district- the Northport VA,  the North Shore plume (the Navy and Grumman are the responsible parties to clean up a 40-year old site estimated at $500 million to clean up); airport noise in northeastern queens, two major research centers (Cold Spring and the Feinstein Institute), a Coast Guard facility. I decided to make the Problem Solvers Caucus one of my big focuses –if I could get Republicans interested in campaign finance reform and gerrymandering.”

The youngest speaker of the evening, Zachary, about seven years old, stood on a chair to say, “Impeach Trump. He’s messed up. How did we get into this mess?”

Obvious even to young Zachary, future politician: “Impeach Trump. This guy is messed up.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

One of the older speakers of the evening, Harry Arlin, wearing an Army baseball cap, said, “I lived briefly under Hitler, had to run; lived under Mussolini and was incarcerated, then under Stalin and had to flee… Now I am living under Trump. Impeach Trump. I’m too old to run again.”

Though the issue of the alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the country since Trump’s election was not specifically raised in this Long Island community with a significant Jewish population, Suozzi acknowledged at one point that the town hall was being held in a Jewish Community Center in Plainview, and JCCs have received over 50 bomb threats in recent weeks.

Harry Arlin: ‘I lived briefly under Hitler, had to run; lived under Mussolini and was incarcerated, then under Stalin and had to flee… Now I am living under Trump. Impeach Trump. I’m too old to run again.’ © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Suozzi periodically would stop and poll the audience again to get their sense of whether to move on to the next topic. It was remarkable to see how he could actually offer a wide opportunity for people to air grievances, questions, comments in such a large and energized group and have something constructive come out of it: namely, a better understanding of issues and concerns, and also to gauge where constituents are on these key issues.

It wasn’t even close: the 3rd Congressional district wants to retain and improve Obamacare, overturn the travel ban but okay to vet, end the terror and insecurity in immigrant communities and provide a path to some kind of legal status, protect the environment, protect the integrity of the election from foreign influence while protecting the ability of people to cast their ballot.

Gabby Giffords Mocks Republicans Dodging Town Halls

Suozzi’s town hall was very different from what many Republican Congressmen are experiencing around the country – Long Island’s Peter King didn’t even hold one during this President’s Week when traditionally Congress members return to their districts to hear from constituents. Trump and his sycophants have accused those coming out in force to protest the repeal of Obamacare as “paid liberal activists” or, as Trump told CPAC, “the losing side” (neglecting to mention there were 65 million voters, three million more than his side).

And ironically, many of the Republicans are citing fear of their constituents as the reason, prompting Gabby Giffords, who was a Congresswoman until she was shot in the head while holding a public availability at a shopping center in Tucson, to write:

“As a member of Congress, I believed that listening to my constituents was the most basic and core tenet of the job I was hired to do. So I was a little surprised yesterday to hear Congressman Louie Gohmert invoke my shooting as a reason not to face his constituents at a public town hall.

“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber – at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead – held town halls. It’s what the people deserve in a representative.

“So to Congressman Gohmert and others who are abandoning their civic obligations, I say this: Have a little courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls.

“Many of the members of Congress who are refusing to hold town halls and listen to their constituents’ concerns are the very same politicians that have opposed commonsense gun violence prevention policies and have allowed the Washington gun lobby to threaten the safety of law enforcement and everyday citizens in our schools, businesses, places of worship, airports, and movie theaters.

“In the past year, campaigning for gun safety, I have held over 50 public events. And if I am still willing to do it, they should be too.”

______________________________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin