Category Archives: Gun Violence Prevention

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.

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© 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.”

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© 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

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Gun Violence & Criminal Justice

Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders meet for a debate moderated by CNN at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, ahead of the April 19 New York State primary © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders meet for a debate moderated by CNN at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, ahead of the April 19 New York State primary © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ahead of the April 19 New York State Primary, the gloves came off between the two contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, at what is being called “The Brooklyn Brawl” – the Democratic Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

The confrontation was the most contentious to date, but still substantive with both candidates making strong arguments on major issues. 

Here are annotated highlights from the “Brooklyn Brawl” – the debate between Democratic contenders for the nomination for president, former Secretary of State and New York State Senator Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, based on a transcript provided by CNN, the news organization that hosted the debate, April 14. 

In this section, the candidates discuss gun violence and criminal justice. 

Gun Violence & Criminal Justice

Guns in America. Secretary Clinton, you’ve said that Vermont, Senator Sanders’ home state, has, quote, “the highest per capita number of guns that end up committing crimes in New York.” But only 1.2 percent of the guns recovered in New York in 2014 were from Vermont. Are you seriously blaming Vermont, and implicitly Senator Sanders, for New York’s gun violence? 

CLINTON: No, of course not. Of course not. This is — this is a serious difference between us. (Sanders starts to laugh) And what I want to start by saying — it’s not a laughing matter — 90 people on average a day are killed or commit suicide or die in accidents from guns, 33,000 people a year. I take it really seriously, because I have spent more time than I care to remember being with people who have lost their loved ones.

“So, yes, we have a problem in America. We need a president who will stand up against the gun lobby. We need a president who will fight for commonsense gun safety reforms. (APPLAUSE)

And what we have here is a big difference. Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for the most important NRA priority, namely giving immunity from liability to gun-makers and dealers, something that is at the root of a lot of the problems that we are facing.

“Then he doubled down on that in the New York Daily News interview, when asked whether he would support the Sandy Hook parents suing to try to do something to rein in the advertising of the AR-15, which is advertised to young people as being a combat weapon, killing on the battlefield. He said they didn’t deserve their day in court. I could not disagree more.

“And, finally, this is the only industry in America, the only one (APPLAUSE) that has this kind of special protection. We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, and I agree. We’ve got to hold Wall Street accountable, well, what about the greed and recklessness of gun manufacturers and dealers in America?” (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Sanders then attacked her for not answering the question about whether Vermont was responsible for New York’s gun violence, to which Blitzer said, “She said no.” 

Sanders then went on to boast how he probably lost his first election for Congress, in 1988, because of the NRA. But the point is that he never challenged the NRA since (even though he now boasts of a D-minus record from the NRA). Caving to lobbyists is not just about who gives money, but who threatens to throw resources at defeating you – in both instances, the lobbyist controls the elected official. 

Clinton said as much in her rebuttal:

CLINTON: Well, the facts are that most of the guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from out of state. They come from the states that don’t have kind of serious efforts to control guns that we do in New York.

“But let me say this — in 1988, as we’ve heard on every debate occasion, Senator Sanders did run for the Congress and he lost. He came back in 1990 and he won, and during that campaign he made a commitment to the NRA that he would be against waiting periods.

“And, in fact, in his own book, he talks about his 1990 campaign, and here’s what he said. He clearly was helped by the NRA, because they ran ads against his opponent. So, then he went to the Congress, where he has been a largely very reliable supporter of the NRA. Voting — he kept his word to the NRA, he voted against the Brady Bill five times because it had waiting periods in it. Thankfully, enough people finally voted for it to keep guns out of the hands of who should not have them.” (APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator, you recently said you do not think crime victims should be able to sue gun makers for damages. The daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School who was killed back in the 2012 mass shooting, says you owe her and families an apology. Do you?

SANDERS: What we need to do is to do everything that we can to make certain that guns do not fall into the hands of people who do not have them.

“Now, I voted against this gun liability law because I was concerned that in rural areas all over this country, if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody, and that person then goes out and kills somebody, I don’t believe it is appropriate that that gun shop owner who just sold a legal weapon to be held accountable and be sued.

“But, what I do believe is when gun shop owners and others knowingly are selling weapons to people who should not have them — somebody walks in, they want thousands of rounds of ammunition, or they want a whole lot of guns, yes, that gun shop owner or that gun manufacturer should be held liable.”

BLITZER: So, Senator, do you owe the Sandy Hook families an apology? 

SANDERS: No, I don’t think I owe them an apology. They are in court today, and actually they won a preliminary decision today. They have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue.

CLINTON: Well, I believe that the law that Senator Sanders voted for that I voted against, giving this special protection to gun manufacturers and to dealers, is an absolute abdication of responsibility on the part of those who voted for it. 

“This is a unique gift given to only one industry in the world by the United States Congress, as Senator Murphy from Connecticut said, we have tougher standards holding toy gun manufacturers and sellers to account than we do for real guns.

“And the point that Senator Sanders keeps making about how he wouldn’t want a mom and pop store — that was not the point of this. And if he can point to any, any incident where that happened, I would love to hear about it.

“What was really going on, I’ll tell you, because it has a lot to do with New York City. New York City was on the brink of being able to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable through a very carefully crafted legal strategy. The NRA came to their supporters in the Congress and said, stop it, stop it now, and Senator Sanders joined those who did.”

1994 Crime Bill

Errol Lewis, of New York 1 Time Warner Cable News, once again took up an issue that has been used against Clinton: Secretary Clinton, the 1994 crime bill that you supported [when she was First Lady] added 100,000 police officers across the country and banned certain assault weapons. It also imposed tougher prison sentences and eliminated federal funding for inmate education. Looking at the crime bill as a whole, do you believe it was a net positive or do you think it was a mistake? 

CLINTON: Well, I think that it had some positive aspects to it. And you mentioned some of them. The Violence Against Women Act, which has been a very important piece of legislation, in my opinion. (APPLAUSE)

“And it also did some things which were to provide more opportunities for young people. So if we were to have the balance sheet on one side, there are some positive actions and changes. 

“On the other side, there were decisions that were made that now we must revisit and we have to correct. I think that sentences got much too long. The original idea was not that we would increase sentences for non-violent low-level offenders, but once the federal government did what it did, states piled on.

“So we have a problem. And the very first speech I gave in this campaign was about what I will do to reform the criminal justice system and end the over-mass incarceration. 

“So I think that if all of us go and look back at where we were, Senator Sanders voted for the crime bill, and he says the same thing, there were some good things, and things that we have to change and learn from. 

“So that’s how I see it. And I think we ought to be putting our attention on forging a consensus to make the changes that will divert more people from the criminal justice system to start, to tackle systemic racism and divert people in the beginning.”

Louis then came back with a second attack: LOUIS: Now earlier this year, a South Carolina voter told your daughter Chelsea, quote, “I think a lot of African-Americans want to hear, you know what, we made a mistake.” Chelsea said she has heard you apologize, but went on to say that if the voter hadn’t heard it then, quote, “it’s clearly insufficient.”  Do you regret your advocacy for the crime bill?  

CLINTON: Well, look, I supported the crime bill. My husband has apologized. He was the president who actually signed it, Senator Sanders voted for it. I’m sorry for the consequences that were unintended and that have had a very unfortunate impact on people’s lives. I’ve seen the results of what has happened in families and in communities.

“That’s why I chose to make my very first speech a year ago on this issue, Errol, because I want to focus the attention of our country and to make the changes we need to make. And I also want people (APPLAUSE) especially I want — I want white people — I want white people to recognize that there is systemic racism. It’s also in employment, it’s in housing, but it is in the criminal justice system, as well.” (APPLAUSE)

LOUIS: Senator Sanders, earlier this week at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, you called out President Clinton for defending Secretary Clinton’s use of the term super-predator back in the ’90s when she supported the crime bill. Why did you call him out?

SANDERS: Because it was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term. (APPLAUSE)

“Look, much of what Secretary Clinton said was right. We had a crime bill. I voted for it. It had the Violence Against Women Act in it. When as mayor of Burlington, we worked very hard to try to eliminate domestic violence. This took us a good step forward. We’re talking about the weapon that killed the children in Sandy Hook. This banned assault weapons, not insignificant.

“But where we are today is we have a broken criminal justice system. We have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. And in my view, what we have got to do is rethink the system from the bottom on up. And that means, for a start — and we don’t talk about this. The media doesn’t talk about it — you got 51 percent of African-American kids today who graduated high school who are unemployed or underemployed. You know what I think? Maybe we invest in jobs and education for those kids, not jails and incarceration. (APPLAUSE)

“And I’ll tell you what else. And I’ll tell you what else I think. And that is, we have got — and this is the difference between the secretary and myself as I understand it. We have got to have the guts to rethink the so-called war on drugs. Too many lives have been destroyed because people possessed marijuana, millions over a 30-year period. And that is why I believe we should take marijuana out of the federal Controlled Substance Act.” (APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, look, I think that, as Senator Sanders said about what I said, I will say about what he said. I think that we recognize that we have a set of problems that we cannot ignore and we must address. And that is why I have been promoting for my entire adult life the idea of investing early in kids, early childhood education, universal pre-K, like what Mayor de Blasio brought to New York. We have got to help more kids get off to a good start. That’s why I want a good teacher in a good school for every child, regardless of the zip code that child lives in and to be really focused on how we build ladders of opportunity and tear down these barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead.

Senator Sanders, I have a question for you related to this. So you’ve said that by the end of your first term as president, the U.S. will no longer lead the world in mass incarceration. To fulfill that promise, you’d have to release roughly half a million prisoners. How are you going to do that, since the vast majority of American prisoners are not under federal jurisdiction?

SANDERS: We’re going to work with state governments all over this country. And you know what? In a very divided Congress, and a very divided politics in America, actually the one area where there is some common ground is conservatives understand that it’s insane to be spending $80 billion a year locking up 2.2 million people. 

“With federal and presidential leadership, we will work with state governments to make sure that people are released from jail under strong supervision, that they get the kind of job training and education they need so they can return to their communities. On this one, Errol, actually I think you’re going to see progressive and conservative support. We can do it, if we’re prepared to be bold.”

Next: Climate Change, Energy & the Environment

See also:

Brooklyn Brawl: Democrats Clinton & Sanders Debate Qualifications, Credibility 

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, email editor@news-photos-features.com. ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Clinton Camp Highlights Difference with Sanders on Gun Safety in Lead up to South Carolina Primary

Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton face off on issue of gun safety in debate in Milwaukee © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton face off on issue of gun safety in debate in Milwaukee © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the same day when a Connecticut judge held a hearing on whether the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) requires dismissal of a suit brought by Sandy Hook victims families against gun manufacturers; when an Uber driver was being arraigned in a Kalamazoo, Michigan court for massacring six people with a semi-automatic assault weapon he bought legally but was not licensed to carry; while in the Senate, Democrats Kristin Gillibrand and Blumenthal were pushing for a law that would keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, the Hillary Clinton campaign organized a call to highlight rival Bernie Sanders’ weak record on gun safety.

South Carolina State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, the Charleston legislator leading the charge on enacting gun safety measures following last year’s tragic shooting there, joined Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey  to emphasize Sanders’ role in enacting PLCAA, which protects gun manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for gun crimes, as well as his vote to create the Charleston Loophole, which enabled  the Charleston shooter to purchase a gun, which a completed background check would have barred him from buying.

Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times, voted to create Charleston loophole which allows someone to buy a gun before a background check has been completed, made it harder to close down gun shops, voted to allow guns on trains. And he voted to shield gun dealers and manufacturers for any culpability, a law that is being used to dismiss the suit of nine Sandy Hook families.

“When the NRA called the bill [giving gun dealers and manufacturers immunity] that Sanders voted for the most important gun legislation in last 20 years, what they were saying was that it was the most important legislation that failed to make any of us safer, in fact, made us all in much greater danger,” said Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy.

“You can’t underestimate how much damage was done by the 2005 law – the reason that NRA touted it as greatest legislative victory,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “It gave sweeping legal immunity to gun dealers and manufacturers, the kind of immunity that nearly no other industry has, but thanks to that law, and NRA work and those who supported, gun dealers, manufacturers are shielded from liability.”

The law granting immunity provides a disincentive for gun manufacturers to build smart guns, so that a child could not pick a gun out of his mother’s purse and shoot her dead, as happened, or a teenager could not accidentally kill a friend, or purposefully go to his middle school and murder other students, or a criminal who burgled a house could not use a stolen gun to shoot kill a homeowner who interrupted a burglary.  Or an alienated teenager could not come upon a parent’s gun and in a fit of depression, commit suicide. The list goes on and on.

“That’s exactly right,” said Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy. “There is no incentive to make sure guns aren’t sold that get onto the street, no incentive for screening…. We have seen in this country retailers who offer smart gun tech boycotted. Historic companies that started talking about manufacturing smart guns, making guns safer, were boycotted. This is activist group – they want no regulation. they know who their friends are in senate and who their enemies.”

And in Connecticut, it is being used to shield gun manufacturers from a lawsuit from families of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre.

“The NRA that sponsored that legislation, they don’t want guns to be safer,” said Governor Malloy. “They think that’s no one’s obligation. “We have a pharmaceuticals industry that does billions of dollars of research, we don’t grant to them the same protections we grant to the gun industry. Sanders was wrong on this, and he should admit it now. He likes for everyone else to admit their mistake. The death and destruction [immunity] has caused. he should be held accountable for that,” Governor Malloy said.

Sanders also voted to limit the time the federal government has to complete a background check to three days; if for some reason (like budget shortfall and overworked staff) the check cannot be completed in three days’ time, the sale can go through. It’s how the man responsible for murdering nine at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC obtained his gun, even though he would otherwise have failed the background check.

“This issue is extremely important – taken to Senate floor every week since January to discuss, particularly important in African-American community – gun violence is leading cause of death for young black men, more than next nine leading causes combined,” said South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson, the Charleston legislator leading the charge on enacting gun safety measures following last year’s tragic shooting there.

“It’s personal to me- I represent Charleston, where there was the shooting of 9 churchgoers and attempted murder of 5 others in the Mother Emanuel massacre. That killer had rage in his heart no law could have healed, but it shouldn’t have been so easy to buy a gun – because of the loophole the NRA lobbied its allies in Congress to get – the FBI only has three days to complete a background check; after that, if the check is delayed or needs more time, too bad, the gun sale proceeds no matter what about background history. It is now known as ‘Charleston loophole.’

“Before South Carolina goes to the polls on Saturday, I hope to ask Sanders why voted for the loophole I don’t expect Sanders to answer. In July he said, ‘Guns in Vermont are not the same as guns in Chicago, Los Angeles. In our state, they are used for hunting, in Chicago, used for kids and gangs killing other kids or police officers shooting innocent people.’ The language is troubling – a gun from Vermont can kill an innocent churchgoer the same as in South Carolina. The loophole passed at the federal level makes all our communities less safe.

“South Carolinians need a president to close the Charleston Loophole. That’s why I found it so troubling that Sanders said Clinton is standing with Obama just to pander to black voters. I will be a very vocal voice in discussing Clinton’s consistent track record on this issue – my voters take her track record seriously.

Democratic Senators  have introduced the  “The Background Check Completion Act, which would require a completed background check for every gun buyer who purchases a gun from a federally-licensed gun dealer, closing the loophole that has allowed thousands of gun sales to prohibited buyers, including the sale of the firearm used by Dylann Roof in his deadly attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in June.”

Sanders has failed to cosponsor Sen. Blumenthal’s Background Check Completion Act to close the Charleston loophole, which has 14 Democratic cosponsors, even though he has sponsored or cosponsored more than 20 pieces of legislation in recent months. And when asked directly in January, Sanders “would not fully commit his support to closing the so-called ‘Charleston loophole.’”

“Compare the Sanders record with Clinton’s record on guns,” Governor Malloy said. “If guns and gun safety is at all important to you and your community you have no choice but to vote for Clinton. Sanders still hasn’t said that vote was wrong. He talks about small shops in Vermont. This is not about small shops in Vermont, not about hunting guns. It’s about protection protecting industry from having to do anything to make these weapons safer.

“The argument about who was on the right of President Obama in the debate eight years ago [is specious]. The question is, ‘Did you support Brady or not, exempting the gun industry in a way no other is, or not? He voted with the NRA and the gun industry. That’s the reality.”

“As a state attorney general, we see this as federal issue, a national issue,” said Healey. “It doesn’t work that guns are treated differently in Vermont. Guns are bought and sold all over and are easily trafficked, transported between and amongst states with too much ease because of inadequate federal law. That’s why it is so important no matter what state you are living in.”

I see another issue implicit in Sanders’ gun legislation record: Sanders has assaulted Clinton charging that she is beholden to Wall Street and special interests because she has accepted money for speeches and donations. I see in his support for the NRA his own interest in keeping the NRA away from spending money to defeat his reelection, having learned in his 1988 defeat for Congress what the NRA could do.

But that changed in 1990, when the NRA decided that Sanders, challenging the same guy he lost to in 1988, Peter Smith, was the lesser of two evils. ” But that year, he was the enemy of the NRA’s enemy,” wrote David A. Fahrenthold (“How the National Rifle Association helped get Bernie Sanders elected” Washington Post, July 19, 2015).

Today, he uses that defeat to show that he stands up to the NRA, but the opposite would seem to be true: he learned to take positions so as not to antagonize the NRA.

“We have a public health crisis when it comes to gun violence – since Sandy Hook, nearly 100,000 lives have been lost to gun violence,” AG Healey said. “It is more important than ever we have president who understands the importance of issue, with a demonstrated track record, who will walk into Oval Office on Day 1 with concrete plans, real plans to address, and has a proven record of standing up to NRA, not standing with them.”

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© 2016 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. Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Spate of Gun Deaths Embolden Dems to Call for Universal Background Checks But More is Needed

Gun violence prevention advocates won one victory in May – Oregon passed universal background checks – but suffered a bigger loss, as Texas voted to allow concealed carry of guns on campuses of public colleges across the state. This is despite the fact that the most famous thing to happen at the University of Texas-Austin was the first mass shooting in America, on August 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas Tower and used a sniper to kill 16 and wound 31.

Ironically, Oregon, which allows concealed carry on college campuses, just this month was the setting for the latest campus massacre.

Also this month, a six year old murdered his three-year old sibling with his father’s gun, kept loaded, atop their refrigerator.

Indeed, roughly every week, a toddler is killed or kills with a gun. How many more are added to the list, provided in mid-April by Colette Martin, of Moms Demand Action, which had already produced 11 children under the age of 15 who had been shot accidentally so far that month.

“It’s shocking to me – as I investigate laws at states – because the federal is useless – depending on zipcode, leaving a loaded gun on a coffee table is either a crime or nothing,” Martin told a Gun Violence Prevention forum at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck, “That’s why we read stories every day that a child is shot accidentally. We are not talking suicide or domestic violence.”

Her list included 5 year olds shooting 2 year olds; a 15 year old in Brooklyn who shot himself in the chest; in Houston, a 5 year old was shot by 4 year old (the fourth in 3 weeks); a mom’s boyfriend, cleaning his gun, accidentally shot a 9 year old.

“The NRA won’t tell you but two children a week will die this way, through accidental gunshot wounds – many more hurt, life changing injuries – a pattern so predictable. Over 100 kids a year will be dead because someone didn’t store gun properly.

“Is there any product that kills that many kids that we’re not regulating?

“It should be a crime to leave a loaded gun accessible to children –a punishable crime. That is a glaring omission from New York’s Safe Act,” she says.

That’s also the basis for a proposed law in New York, Nicholas’ Law – named for a 12 year old killed by playing at friend’s house where unsecured loaded gun and friend shot him, accidentally.

Other legislative actions that need to happen nationally:

Repealing laws that ban pediatricians from raising questions about guns in the home and recommending they be locked up (such as in Florida).

Repealing Stand Your Ground (aka “License to Kill”), another law written by the NRA and ALEC (a front for the Koch Brothers) and spread like cancer among the states, starting in Florida under then-Governor Jeb Bush.

Changing the requirements to purchase and possess guns. Norman Siegel, a New York civil rights lawyer and former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a letter to the New York Times in December proposed a nationwide state registration program, similar to motor vehicle registration. “Every two years the owner of a gun would be required to bring his or her weapon in for inspection and re-registration. If the owner no longer possesses the weapon, he or she should be required to explain what happened to the gun. Perhaps under such a program we, as a nation, can realistically ameliorate the problem of guns winding up in the hands of lawbreakers and/or the mentally ill.”

And for those who charge that gun registration is somehow violating 2nd Amendment rights, look to the oppressive Voter ID and registration requirements being passed around the country which effectively put barriers in front of citizens’ right to vote.

Moreover, gun rights fanatics have no problem cancelling out the First Amendment’s freedom of speech in banning pediatricians from discussing gun safety with their patients’ families.

Gun violence is not a 2nd amendment issue. It is a public health issue, and should be treated in the same way. And if anything violates the founding premise of this country, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” it is the outsized weight given to so-called gun rights which never actually existed.

“This family’s only child is gone. It’s not just a legislative change, it’s part of the cultural change – the social norming that has to happen as with drunk driving,” she says, referring to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the way they insinuated a kind of moral code into everyday life.

Governor Cuomo seized upon the massacre Sandy Hook Elementary School as a rare moment when he could pass Safe Act.

But other states – the gun happy ones, the free-range ones, the Live Free or Die ones (and so they die) – have gone the other way – in Florida, doctors are banned (no matter the inconvenient First Amendment guaranteeing free speech, or even the Hippocratic oath) from even asking parents if there is a gun in the home, in order to urge safe storage to prevent such tragedies as Nicholas’ and the others, a move that is being copied by other states, prompting New York Times columnist Charles Blow to raise the question, “Has the NRA Won?”

And the real challenge is the latest move by the NRA in the bought-and-paid-for Congress: to force states with gun regulations to have “reciprocity” – essentially to make a gun permit like a drivers license – with states that have virtually no restrictions (and in the case of one Georgia town, which mandate every family have a gun) – in a blatant disregard of states rights, in yet another instance when hypocrisy rules the day if it is convenient.

“We have to fight reciprocity,” State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel said during the forum. “Every state has their rights – who can own a gun. New York has strong laws, but in Vermont, you only need to be 16 years of age and have a drivers license and you can have a gun.” What reciprocity means is that if you have a gun permit in one state, you can have a gun – transfer guns, drive interstate (now illegal) – scary for someone like NY.” So if a state like Texas allows concealed guns everywhere (except the State House) with no questions asked, even a person with a mental condition, a veteran with PTSD or a domestic abuser, can bring their gun to New York.

As the level of gun violence has only escalated, the NRA has come back with more and more absurd statements (such as the time after a tragedy is no time to consider what to do about it), or a move to ease access to guns.

If anything gives lie to the absurdity, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” and the even more absurd statement that the way to reduce gun violence is to make guns even more prevalent, it is the fact that gun violence kills 2500 children each year. You can also look to the murder of police officers, who are clearly “good guys” whose guns could not stop the bad guy who shot first.

In Chicago, just over Memorial Day weekend, 40 people were shot including a 4 year old girl, with nine dead, including,a 15-year old boy, Nation of Change reported.

“So far, there have been 18,760 gun incidents this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, resulting in 4,830 deaths and the death or injury of 249 children.”

There are practical things that can be done to significantly reduce the more than 30,000 gun deaths a year – that’s equivalent to a 9/11 a month – having nothing to do with violating the 2 nd Amendment or taking guns away from the ostensibly “law abiding” people (isn’t it odd that people are “law abiding” until they aren’t?)

But before we get into the long list of commonsense steps that should be taking immediately, without having any impact whatsoever on the so-called “law abiding” gunowners, there is this:

Gun Manufacturers Profit Incentive: Smart Guns

Much is made of the fact that the NRA, which is such an outsized powerhouse scaring the beejeebees out of politicians, serves the interests of gun manufacturers, not the ordinary members (a majority of whom support universal background checks and other commonsense measures).

In fact, the NRA was in favor of universal background checks until they were against them, and now, whenever there is a massacre, they call for more guns – armed guards at schools and churches, concealed carry at college campuses, in fact, everywhere but in Congress and Houses of Legislature.

So just like the corruption in FIFA won’t be rooted out politically, but when Nike and other sponsors exert their power, gun manufacturers have to see profit in being more socially conscious.

Jeb Bush speaking to 30,000 at the NRA convention, said Obama should be disarming ISIS rather than law-abiding Americans – the problem is that terrorists in the US have a clear shot at obtaining military-grade weapons and high-capacity ammo clips- while, in fact, DoD has radiofrequency controls in its military weapons so they can locate guns gone missing into the wrong hands. (Jeb! casually dismissed the Oregon shooting as “stuff happens”.)

Question is: why aren’t there ‘smart guns’ like ‘smart phones’ that can only be used by the person whose hand print is identified with the gun? Or, for that matter, a locater as a smart phone has when it is stolen, and can be located and disarmed remotely?

If the gun manufacturers would see themselves as, say, Apple Computers, coming out with the newest, latest gun that replaces the older gun, they could see big profits in sensible gun measure: namely, the same ID access that smart-phones now have: make the gun so that it can only be used by the owner. If the gun-owner is in fact law-abiding, they would have no problem with that, and would relish the idea of a gun not being snapped up by the “bad guy” (or a child) and used to kill their loved ones.

Think of the increased profits, if 100 million guns had to be replaced! Gun dealers could offer those nifty trade-in deals!

Change Tactics

The gun nuts have also long ceased being credible in arguing for “self-defense” and the “homespun, family values sport of hunting” when they refuse to allow a ban on military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that kill dozens in a blink of an eye. This is about the fantasy of being able to take down the government – something that the 2nd Amendment never envisioned, since it was intended to provide a defense for the fledgling democratic government in the absence of a standing army -like a National Guard.

It’s been 15 years since the Million Mom March in Washington DC (remember how they said if George W Bush were elected, there would be an office in the West Wing for the NRA? They were right.) Things clearly went downhill from there – for example, allowing the 1994 Assault Weapons ban to lapse.

Despite the rise of organizations like Moms Demand Action, Moms Rising, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Everytown and scores of others (typically, tragically, by family members like Richard Martinez whose lives have been forever destroyed by gun violence), Congress, in the pocket of the gun lobby, has refused to budge, and in the states, the reaction to what was considered the most heinous tragedy of all, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was to free up, not tighten, gun restrictions (New York’s Safe Act was the exception).

It’s time to change tactics and the dynamics.

Abortions are constitutionally protected but the anti-choice movement has been able to put all sorts of legal and financial impediments that make it impossible for women to exercise their Constitutionally protected rights.

The gun violence prevention advocates should adopt some of these methods. For example:

State requirements: Just as California laws regarding automobiles and the chemicals industry have forced those industries to change their manufacture to be more environmentally friendly, states could impose requirements on gun manufacturers that every gun be a smart-gun; increase taxes on ammunition (like they do on cigarettes) and fees on gun permits (like voting IDs)

Make gun manufacturers and dealers liable when their product is inappropriately used (as so many other manufacturers are – gun manufacturers are somehow exempted.)

Require gun owners to take out liability insurance so that victims’ families can be adequately compensated.

Institute laws making parents/guardians responsible for safe storage, and criminally liable if a child commits a crime with their gun. For example, no one questioned where the 15 year old Jared Michael Padgett, of Portland, Oregon, obtained the gun he used to kill freshman Emilio Hoffman and wound teacher Todd Rispler before killing himself. Or where 14 year old Jaylen Fryberg, a popular student at Marysville, Wash. high school,, got the .40-caliber handgun he used to kill a girl and strike four others in the head before turning his gun on himself and committing suicide. There were no consequences for whoever obtained the guns that these minors used to murder innocents.

Put a fee on ammunition and gun purchases to support a victims fund.

Boycott college campuses that allow guns: Parents should contact colleges and ask if guns are allowed, and if so, tell them you won’t allow your child to apply there.

“I am, a huge believer that the American people can fix this,” Martin says. “I’ve lost faith in Congress, lost faith in the federal government, lost faith in the NRA – I was never much of a fan, my father tore up his NRA card in1980s, it was apparent to him what they were about: politicizing, a money racket, they are not standing for his ideals.

“Most gun owners are not in NRA… 90% of legitimate legal gun owners don’t support NRA. Who is supporting the NRA? The gun manufacturers – Smith-Wesson, Baretta. It’s no mystery that’s who they serve – the NRA is a front for gun manufacturers.

“Their job is to fend off, violently, any regulation that will impact the sale of their product – every gun that ends up on the street, used in a crime, begins as a legal gun –it was first sold as a legal gun – no illegal gun manufacturing plant anywhere.”

(And every criminal or maniac who uses a gun starts off as a noncriminal, non-maniac. Actually, you could add that whenever there is a massacre – the more heinous that it is – gun sales go up because LaPierre warns that the government will finally confiscate guns.)

Colette adds, “I’m a gun owner and here’s the impact [the NY Safe Act] had on me (she gestures, zero). I don’t have AR 15s in my basement – New York by any measure has done a great job keeping its citizens safe -the illegal street variety and more difficult gun violence.

“I am here today to deal with children’s and guns –standard, practical storage protocols. If you have children and guns in house, lock one of them up,” she said, drawing a laugh.

“1/3 of families own at least one gun – it behooves us to ask how it is stored at home.”

But in the absence of law, there are more practical actions parents should take: “Before you allow your child to go for a playdate, ask are there guns in house That’s not political, but safety. That’s a house I don’t want my kid playing unattended

It’s no more offensive than asking if there is a pool, or a dog. It’s not easy to plan a funeral for a 12 year old – that’s inconvenient.

“How many of these parents whose kids were shot this month would do anything to go back in time and ask that question. It’s not political, not offensive- not out of order to ask about the safety.”

Martin also refutes the claim that safe storage of guns at home will somehow interfere with the ability (rare) to defend from an intruder. She says that evidence shows that it takes a gun owner “fractions of seconds” to get a gun out of a safebox and load it.

In August, Fox & friends did 5 part gun safety series and part 3 featured expert marksmen, firearms dealer and trainer Rob Pincus, who did a live demo showing how long it took in an incidence of home invasion. Someone banged the door down downstairs, he went to the gun safe’s numeric keypad taking a half second to open it, she said.

On the other hand, the incidence of home invasion is so minimal, as are the instances of a gunowner actually foiling an intruder.

“The FBI did a study of home invasions and found that 68% of home invasions happen between parties that knew each other.”

What is more likely is that believing you are defending yourself against an armed intruder, results in accidentally killing your 19 year old who comes home unexpectedly from college at 3 am.

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© 2015 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com,  email krubin723@aol.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

MomsRising to Florida Tourism Industry: Families Will Think Twice About Vacations in Florida if State Approves Open Carry Law

Families leaving the Magic Kingdom, DisneyWorld, Orlando, Florida after firework. Tourism is a key industry for Florida but families may think twice about vacationing in the state if it approves open carry law, says MomsRising.org © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
Families leaving the Magic Kingdom, DisneyWorld, Orlando, Florida after firework. Tourism is a key industry for Florida but families may think twice about vacationing in the state if it approves open carry law, says MomsRising.org © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Florida, which calls itself “The Sunshine State,” and is one of the most popular family vacation destinations, may soon be far less family friendly. State lawmakers are considering giving gun owners with concealed carry permits the right to openly carry their firearms in public places, even allowing them to hold their guns in their hands as they walk around. [“Open-carry law would create anxiety, not safety: Editorial,” Orlando Sentinel, Oct. 15. 2015.]

With Disney World, Universal Studios, miles of pristine sand beaches, and world-class shopping and dining, Florida is the ultimate vacation destination for many families in the United States and around the world. But imagine going on vacation with your kids and loved ones to a place where any stranger standing inches from you in line, or just passing by on the street, could be displaying or handling a deadly weapon.

That’s the message that MomsRising, an organization that advocates for sensible gun regulation, MomsRising is circulating. The group is urging families to sign a petition telling – or rather warning – the Florida Commission on Tourism that families do not want to vacation in a state where people are openly carrying their weapons.

“The open carrying of firearms serves little purpose but to intimidate the public, which is why even major retailers like Starbucks and Target don’t want guns in their stores,” [“7 Companies That Don’t Want Guns In Their Stores,” Andrew Lord, Huffington Post, July 17, 2015]  the organization stated in a message to supporters. “Why would anyone want to feel intimidated, especially while on vacation?”

Indeed, open carry is just another way for the gun lobby (which is really the gun manufacturers) to roll back gun safety laws. But studies have demonstrated the “weapons effect,” where the mere presence of firearms encourages aggressive behavior. [“Mere sight of a gun makes police – and public – more aggressive, experts say,” Andrew Yuhas, The Guardian, Aug. 5, 2015.] This was certainly the case for a family Tennessee now mourning the loss of their 19-year old at Tennesee State University over a dice game (three female students just passing by were also shot). [Fatal Tenn. campus shooting started over dice game, USA Today, Oct. 23, 2015]

“Open carry would make the presence of firearms that much more visible in public, raising the likelihood of dangerous outcomes. Who wants that on vacation?,” says MomsRising, an organization that supports sensible gun regulation.

“No family wants to be intimidated and feel at risk of gun violence, especially when we are supposed to be relaxing and having fun. Tell the Florida Commission on Tourism that families do not want to vacation in a state where people are openly carrying their weapons!”

With more than 97 million people visiting the state, bringing $72 billion a year to the economy, the tourism sector is a powerful voice in Florida and can influence state policy on gun safety. The Florida Commission on Tourism and other leaders in the tourism industry will not like to hear that allowing the open carry of firearms may lead people to start looking elsewhere for that perfect family vacation.

MomsRising.org is urging people to sign their petition and will deliver the message and your signature to the Florida Commission on Tourism, as well as to Disney World, Universal Studios, regional tourism boards, and other key members of the Florida tourism community.

Tell the Florida Commission on Tourism to oppose open carry in the Sunshine State, because families do not want to vacation in a state where people are openly carrying their weapons!”

“Stopping open carry in Florida will help keep this terrible idea from becoming law in other states that also rely on tourism dollars. Together, we are a strong voice for safer families and communities,” stated MomsRising.org.

Let’s not forget that Florida was the birthplace of Stand Your Ground, giving anyone with a gun a license to kill and later claim they feared for their life, as was the case for a self-appointed neighborhood watch who was acquitted in the murder of black teen Trayvon Martin. After being adopted in Florida, ‘Stand Your Ground,’ written by ALEC’s gun manufacturer members, was exported to 22 other states.

 

See also:

CONGRESSMAN ISRAEL PRESSES BOEHNER TO BRING UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS BILL TO VOTE

EPIDEMIC OF GUN DEATHS EMBOLDEN DEMS TO CALL FOR UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS BUT MORE IS NEEDED

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© 2015 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 krubin723@aol.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Epidemic of Gun Deaths Embolden Dems to Call for Universal Background Checks But More is Needed

Congressman Steve Israel (D-Long Island) is one of the Democrats stepping up calls for Congress to vote on a bill mandating universal background checks to obtain a gun © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congressman Steve Israel (D-Long Island) is one of the Democrats stepping up calls for Congress to vote on a bill mandating universal background checks to obtain a gun © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gun violence prevention advocates won one victory in May – Oregon passed universal background checks – but suffered a bigger loss, as Texas voted to allow concealed carry of guns on campuses of public colleges across the state. This is despite the fact that the most famous thing to happen at the University of Texas-Austin was the first mass shooting in America, on August 1, 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed the University of Texas Tower and used a sniper to kill 16 and wound 31.

Ironically, Oregon, which allows concealed carry on college campuses, just this month was the setting for the latest campus massacre.

Also this month, a six year old murdered his three-year old sibling with his father’s gun, kept loaded, atop their refrigerator.

Indeed, roughly every week, a toddler is killed or kills with a gun. How many more are added to the list, provided in mid-April by Colette Martin, of Moms Demand Action, which had already produced 11 children under the age of 15 who had been shot accidentally so far that month.

“It’s shocking to me – as I investigate laws at states – because the federal is useless – depending on zipcode, leaving a loaded gun on a coffee table is either a crime or nothing,” Martin told a Gun Violence Prevention forum at Temple Beth-el of Great Neck, “That’s why we read stories every day that a child is shot accidentally. We are not talking suicide or domestic violence.”

Her list included 5 year olds shooting 2 year olds; a 15 year old in Brooklyn who shot himself in the chest; in Houston, a 5 year old was shot by 4 year old (the fourth in 3 weeks); a mom’s boyfriend, cleaning his gun, accidentally shot a 9 year old.

“The NRA won’t tell you but two children a week will die this way, through accidental gunshot wounds – many more hurt, life changing injuries – a pattern so predictable. Over 100 kids a year will be dead because someone didn’t store gun properly.

“Is there any product that kills that many kids that we’re not regulating?

“It should be a crime to leave a loaded gun accessible to children –a punishable crime. That is a glaring omission from New York’s Safe Act,” she says.

That’s also the basis for a proposed law in New York, Nicholas’ Law – named for a 12 year old killed by playing at friend’s house where unsecured loaded gun and friend shot him, accidentally.

Other legislative actions that need to happen nationally:

Repealing laws that ban pediatricians from raising questions about guns in the home and recommending they be locked up (such as in Florida).

Repealing Stand Your Ground (aka “License to Kill”), another law written by the NRA and ALEC (a front for the Koch Brothers) and spread like cancer among the states, starting in Florida under then-Governor Jeb Bush.

Changing the requirements to purchase and possess guns. Norman Siegel, a New York civil rights lawyer and former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a letter to the New York Times in December proposed a nationwide state registration program, similar to motor vehicle registration. “Every two years the owner of a gun would be required to bring his or her weapon in for inspection and re-registration. If the owner no longer possesses the weapon, he or she should be required to explain what happened to the gun. Perhaps under such a program we, as a nation, can realistically ameliorate the problem of guns winding up in the hands of lawbreakers and/or the mentally ill.”

And for those who charge that gun registration is somehow violating 2nd Amendment rights, look to the oppressive Voter ID and registration requirements being passed around the country which effectively put barriers in front of citizens’ right to vote.

Moreover, gun rights fanatics have no problem cancelling out the First Amendment’s freedom of speech in banning pediatricians from discussing gun safety with their patients’ families.

Gun violence is not a 2nd amendment issue. It is a public health issue, and should be treated in the same way. And if anything violates the founding premise of this country, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” it is the outsized weight given to so-called gun rights which never actually existed.

“This family’s only child is gone. It’s not just a legislative change, it’s part of the cultural change – the social norming that has to happen as with drunk driving,” she says, referring to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the way they insinuated a kind of moral code into everyday life.

Governor Cuomo seized upon the massacre Sandy Hook Elementary School as a rare moment when he could pass Safe Act.

But other states – the gun happy ones, the free-range ones, the Live Free or Die ones (and so they die) – have gone the other way – in Florida, doctors are banned (no matter the inconvenient First Amendment guaranteeing free speech, or even the Hippocratic oath) from even asking parents if there is a gun in the home, in order to urge safe storage to prevent such tragedies as Nicholas’ and the others, a move that is being copied by other states, prompting New York Times columnist Charles Blow to raise the question, “Has the NRA Won?”

And the real challenge is the latest move by the NRA in the bought-and-paid-for Congress: to force states with gun regulations to have “reciprocity” – essentially to make a gun permit like a drivers license – with states that have virtually no restrictions (and in the case of one Georgia town, which mandate every family have a gun) – in a blatant disregard of states rights, in yet another instance when hypocrisy rules the day if it is convenient.

“We have to fight reciprocity,” State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel said during the forum. “Every state has their rights – who can own a gun. New York has strong laws, but in Vermont, you only need to be 16 years of age and have a drivers license and you can have a gun.” What reciprocity means is that if you have a gun permit in one state, you can have a gun – transfer guns, drive interstate (now illegal) – scary for someone like NY.” So if a state like Texas allows concealed guns everywhere (except the State House) with no questions asked, even a person with a mental condition, a veteran with PTSD or a domestic abuser, can bring their gun to New York.

As the level of gun violence has only escalated, the NRA has come back with more and more absurd statements (such as the time after a tragedy is no time to consider what to do about it), or a move to ease access to guns.

If anything gives lie to the absurdity, “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” and the even more absurd statement that the way to reduce gun violence is to make guns even more prevalent, it is the fact that gun violence kills 2500 children each year. You can also look to the murder of police officers, who are clearly “good guys” whose guns could not stop the bad guy who shot first.

In Chicago, just over Memorial Day weekend, 40 people were shot including a 4 year old girl, with nine dead, including,a 15-year old boy, Nation of Change reported.

“So far, there have been 18,760 gun incidents this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, resulting in 4,830 deaths and the death or injury of 249 children.”

There are practical things that can be done to significantly reduce the more than 30,000 gun deaths a year – that’s equivalent to a 9/11 a month – having nothing to do with violating the 2 nd Amendment or taking guns away from the ostensibly “law abiding” people (isn’t it odd that people are “law abiding” until they aren’t?)

But before we get into the long list of commonsense steps that should be taking immediately, without having any impact whatsoever on the so-called “law abiding” gunowners, there is this:

Gun Manufacturers Profit Incentive: Smart Guns

Much is made of the fact that the NRA, which is such an outsized powerhouse scaring the beejeebees out of politicians, serves the interests of gun manufacturers, not the ordinary members (a majority of whom support universal background checks and other commonsense measures).

In fact, the NRA was in favor of universal background checks until they were against them, and now, whenever there is a massacre, they call for more guns – armed guards at schools and churches, concealed carry at college campuses, in fact, everywhere but in Congress and Houses of Legislature.

So just like the corruption in FIFA won’t be rooted out politically, but when Nike and other sponsors exert their power, gun manufacturers have to see profit in being more socially conscious.

Jeb Bush speaking to 30,000 at the NRA convention, said Obama should be disarming ISIS rather than law-abiding Americans – the problem is that terrorists in the US have a clear shot at obtaining military-grade weapons and high-capacity ammo clips- while, in fact, DoD has radiofrequency controls in its military weapons so they can locate guns gone missing into the wrong hands. (Jeb! casually dismissed the Oregon shooting as “stuff happens”.)

Question is: why aren’t there ‘smart guns’ like ‘smart phones’ that can only be used by the person whose hand print is identified with the gun? Or, for that matter, a locater as a smart phone has when it is stolen, and can be located and disarmed remotely?

If the gun manufacturers would see themselves as, say, Apple Computers, coming out with the newest, latest gun that replaces the older gun, they could see big profits in sensible gun measure: namely, the same ID access that smart-phones now have: make the gun so that it can only be used by the owner. If the gun-owner is in fact law-abiding, they would have no problem with that, and would relish the idea of a gun not being snapped up by the “bad guy” (or a child) and used to kill their loved ones.

Think of the increased profits, if 100 million guns had to be replaced! Gun dealers could offer those nifty trade-in deals!

Change Tactics

The gun nuts have also long ceased being credible in arguing for “self-defense” and the “homespun, family values sport of hunting” when they refuse to allow a ban on military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that kill dozens in a blink of an eye. This is about the fantasy of being able to take down the government – something that the 2nd Amendment never envisioned, since it was intended to provide a defense for the fledgling democratic government in the absence of a standing army -like a National Guard.

It’s been 15 years since the Million Mom March in Washington DC (remember how they said if George W Bush were elected, there would be an office in the West Wing for the NRA? They were right.) Things clearly went downhill from there – for example, allowing the 1994 Assault Weapons ban to lapse.

Despite the rise of organizations like Moms Demand Action, Moms Rising, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Everytown and scores of others (typically, tragically, by family members like Richard Martinez whose lives have been forever destroyed by gun violence), Congress, in the pocket of the gun lobby, has refused to budge, and in the states, the reaction to what was considered the most heinous tragedy of all, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was to free up, not tighten, gun restrictions (New York’s Safe Act was the exception).

It’s time to change tactics and the dynamics.

Abortions are constitutionally protected but the anti-choice movement has been able to put all sorts of legal and financial impediments that make it impossible for women to exercise their Constitutionally protected rights.

The gun violence prevention advocates should adopt some of these methods. For example:

State requirements: Just as California laws regarding automobiles and the chemicals industry have forced those industries to change their manufacture to be more environmentally friendly, states could impose requirements on gun manufacturers that every gun be a smart-gun; increase taxes on ammunition (like they do on cigarettes) and fees on gun permits (like voting IDs)

Make gun manufacturers and dealers liable when their product is inappropriately used (as so many other manufacturers are – gun manufacturers are somehow exempted.)

Require gun owners to take out liability insurance so that victims’ families can be adequately compensated.

Institute laws making parents/guardians responsible for safe storage, and criminally liable if a child commits a crime with their gun. For example, no one questioned where the 15 year old Jared Michael Padgett, of Portland, Oregon, obtained the gun he used to kill freshman Emilio Hoffman and wound teacher Todd Rispler before killing himself. Or where 14 year old Jaylen Fryberg, a popular student at Marysville, Wash. high school,, got the .40-caliber handgun he used to kill a girl and strike four others in the head before turning his gun on himself and committing suicide. There were no consequences for whoever obtained the guns that these minors used to murder innocents.

Put a fee on ammunition and gun purchases to support a victims fund.

Boycott college campuses that allow guns: Parents should contact colleges and ask if guns are allowed, and if so, tell them you won’t allow your child to apply there.

“I am, a huge believer that the American people can fix this,” Martin says. “I’ve lost faith in Congress, lost faith in the federal government, lost faith in the NRA – I was never much of a fan, my father tore up his NRA card in1980s, it was apparent to him what they were about: politicizing, a money racket, they are not standing for his ideals.

“Most gun owners are not in NRA… 90% of legitimate legal gun owners don’t support NRA. Who is supporting the NRA? The gun manufacturers – Smith-Wesson, Baretta. It’s no mystery that’s who they serve – the NRA is a front for gun manufacturers.

“Their job is to fend off, violently, any regulation that will impact the sale of their product – every gun that ends up on the street, used in a crime, begins as a legal gun –it was first sold as a legal gun – no illegal gun manufacturing plant anywhere.”

(And every criminal or maniac who uses a gun starts off as a noncriminal, non-maniac. Actually, you could add that whenever there is a massacre – the more heinous that it is – gun sales go up because LaPierre warns that the government will finally confiscate guns.)

Colette adds, “I’m a gun owner and here’s the impact [the NY Safe Act] had on me (she gestures, zero). I don’t have AR 15s in my basement – New York by any measure has done a great job keeping its citizens safe -the illegal street variety and more difficult gun violence.

“I am here today to deal with children’s and guns –standard, practical storage protocols. If you have children and guns in house, lock one of them up,” she said, drawing a laugh.

“1/3 of families own at least one gun – it behooves us to ask how it is stored at home.”

But in the absence of law, there are more practical actions parents should take: “Before you allow your child to go for a playdate, ask are there guns in house That’s not political, but safety. That’s a house I don’t want my kid playing unattended

It’s no more offensive than asking if there is a pool, or a dog. It’s not easy to plan a funeral for a 12 year old – that’s inconvenient.

“How many of these parents whose kids were shot this month would do anything to go back in time and ask that question. It’s not political, not offensive- not out of order to ask about the safety.”

Martin also refutes the claim that safe storage of guns at home will somehow interfere with the ability (rare) to defend from an intruder. She says that evidence shows that it takes a gun owner “fractions of seconds” to get a gun out of a safebox and load it.

In August, Fox & friends did 5 part gun safety series and part 3 featured expert marksmen, firearms dealer and trainer Rob Pincus, who did a live demo showing how long it took in an incidence of home invasion. Someone banged the door down downstairs, he went to the gun safe’s numeric keypad taking a half second to open it, she said.

On the other hand, the incidence of home invasion is so minimal, as are the instances of a gunowner actually foiling an intruder.

“The FBI did a study of home invasions and found that 68% of home invasions happen between parties that knew each other.”

What is more likely is that believing you are defending yourself against an armed intruder, results in accidentally killing your 19 year old who comes home unexpectedly from college at 3 am.

See also:

Congressman Israel Presses Boehner to Bring Universal Background Checks Bill to Vote

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© 2015 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com,  

Congressman Israel Presses Boehner to Bring Universal Background Checks Bill to Vote

Congressman Steve Israel came to Great Neck South Middle School to urge the House to vote on a bill mandating universal background checks to obtain a gun, joined by Great Neck Schools Superintendent Prendergast, Nassau County Acting District Attorney Singas Janina Bandi, of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Assemblywoman Schimel (not shown) © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congressman Steve Israel came to Great Neck South Middle School to urge the House to vote on a bill mandating universal background checks to obtain a gun, joined by Great Neck Schools Superintendent Prendergast, Nassau County Acting District Attorney Singas Janina Bandi, of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Assemblywoman Schimel (not shown) © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Could it be that Pope Francis’ visit which brought Jon Boehner to tears, will inspire the House Speaker to show some courage and allow a vote on a bipartisan bill requiring universal background checks and closing the gun show loophole before he exits? The man who tears up at the drop of a hat, can show himself to be a man of fortitude, a real hero.

Boehner has it within his power to bring a bipartisan bill calling for commonsense gun regulations – supported by the vast majority of Americans – that would call for universal background checks and keep guns out of the hands of felons, terrorists, domestic abusers and the mentally ill.

Congressman Steve Israel did not exactly pose the question that way but, appearing on the steps of Great Neck South Middle School last Friday, flanked by the schools superintendent, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, Nassau County Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas and Janina Bandi, chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, he noted that it was within Boehner’s power to allow a vote on the bipartisan bill, HR 1217, introduced by none other than  Republican Peter King of Long Island and Democrat Mike Thompson (CA) (who proudly wears his NRA button in his lapel). The bill already has 182 cosponsors (it would need 218 votes to pass).

Congressman Israel chided his colleagues in Congress for their moments of silence over what has become twice-monthly mass shootings, but stalwart inaction.

“Exactly one year ago, the entire country was swept up about fear of Ebola – 2 people died. Yet, the entire US Congress demanded immediate action – hospitals reconfigured, the White House engaged and there was action – as there should have been – to save lives against the threat,” Congressman Israel said.

“In one year, 30,000 have lost their lives to guns. Two to Ebola. 30,000 to guns. But in the year since, there has not been one hearing, not one committee meeting, not one bill, not one finger lifted in Congress to deal with gun violence.

“About every week, we’ve had a moment of silence, memorializing Americans killed in mass shooting. Enough silence. It’s time for action. American people have had it with inaction.

“Two people from Ebola. 88 Americans will die today as a result of gun violence. 30,000 in a year. There are been 300 mass shootings this year alone and it isn’t yet finished.

“Why I’m so frustrated? We know what we have is not working. We know what will work: commonsense reforms like universal background checks, which 90% of Americans support. It’s not hard. Even in this polarized environment, 90% supporting something is rare. Yet the NRA lobby is stopping action on what 90% – and the vast majority of NRA members- support.

“Too many of my colleagues are silent. We should make it harder, not easier for the mentally ill, terrorists, people on the do-not-fly list, to obtain guns. But for every day there is a moment of silence and not action, we are making it easier.  That is an abysmal failure of responsibility…

“If only Congress responded with as forceful power as it did on Ebola, this school would be safer.”

That point was driven home by Great Neck Schools Superintendent Dr. Teresa Prendergast, who described the lock down and table top exercises, an entire security apparatus including single point of entry to buildings, cameras, assembly programs for the youngest grades. “It’s reflective of the times,” she said.

How much does securing our schools against a madman who can so easily acquire a military-grade weapon cost? Dr. Prendergast said that the school district spends $1.8 million on security (not counting the expanded bus transportation program that was put into effect to increase security for children who would otherwise walk to school).  In an era of budget caps, she remarked, “Every dollar that is taken for security comes out of the classroom. We would we love to have that money for academic programs.”

New York has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation – thanks particularly to the SAFE Act which was passed shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Ct. – and while New York State is one of 21 states with tighter background check laws, without a comprehensive federal law many guns used illegally in New York are trafficked from states with less prohibitive gun laws. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives nearly 70 percent of firearms recovered and traced in New York State came from out of state.

“In Nassau County, one out of five crimes involve firearms. Nassau County is one of the safest counties, but is not immune, said Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, a member of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence. A national tragedy can be avoided with a little commonsense courage to take action. We are doing everything we can but legislative leaders in Washington need to have courage to stand up, support commonsense measures like background checks, adjudicated mental illness, straw purchases.”

Background checks are effective: The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which was signed into law in 1993, created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and required federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States. Since its inception in November 1994, roughly 2.4 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers have been prevented because of background checks. But presently, there are huge loopholes in the system , for firearm sales made at gun shows, over the internet, or through private sellers, which fails to prevent the mentally ill, domestic abusers, or criminals from purchasing firearms.

But criminals know they can go to another state and buy with no questions asked.”

As Janina Bandi, the volunteer Chapter Leader for the New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, noted, 32 states don’t require any background checks (only 18 do). But when there is sensible regulation, 46% fewer women are shot and killed by intimate partner; 48% fewer people are killed when guns not easily accessible.

“Requiring background checks on all gun sales is the single most important thing we can do to reduce the gun violence in our country that kills 88 Americans every day and injures hundreds more. We don’t have to choose between protecting the Second Amendment and saving lives — we can do both.”

There is absolutely no reason at all while the Aurora shooter, who murdered so many innocents in a movie theater in Colorado was able to buy 4,000 rounds of ammo – no questions asked – over the internet. The dealer did not even know (or care) if he was a minor.

Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, who has battled for sensible gun measures for more than 20 years in and out of government, evoked John Lennon and Carolyn Maloney’s husband, who was murdered by the LIRR shooter. “Enough. Churches, schools, movie theaters, restaurants. Am I next? We need universal background checks. New York passed SAFE Act and has the fourth lowest gun death rate in the nation.

Former Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, sent a statement saying,  “I know all too well the heartbreak and loss families of gun violence go through. words no longer enough. Sending our thoughts and prayers to the families affected by gun violence is no longer enough. We need substantial change in the way we approach this epidemic because saving lives should never be a partisan issue. Until we pass commonsense gun legislation in this country, I will continue my mission to fight for the families like mine that were forever changed by gun violence.”

And the Republican shell-game of placing the blame for the violence caused by easy access to highly lethal weapons and high-capacity magazines on mental illness, is contradicted by New Jersey Governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Chris Christie  recent veto of a bill that would have included local law enforcement officers in the process of deciding whether a person with a documented mental illness could apply for a gun permit.

Rep. Israel is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1217 the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, also known as the bipartisan King-Thompson legislation, which expands background checks by closing gun sale loopholes and requiring comprehensive and enforceable background checks on all commercial gun sales. Additionally, Rep. Israel is a co-sponsor of H.R. 3411, the Fix Gun Checks Act, which was originally introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy before she retired. This legislation would expand background checks, close gun sale loopholes including person-to-person sales, and makes it harder for the mentally ill to acquire guns.

Introduced in March by (amazingly) Peter King, R-LI, the preamble to HR 1217 says, “To protect Second Amendment rights, ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and provide a responsible and consistent background check process.”

In fact, it is an incredibly modest, stripped down proposal which only addresses background checks and closing the gun show loophole (www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1217/text). You would think that the most ardent gun rights advocate would be happy to pass it, just to shut down any further, meaningful gun regulation by tossing these few crumbs which are wildly popular.

“Nobody really believes by passing legislation to close gun show loophole we would be repealing 2nd Amendment,” Congressman Israel said at the press conference on Friday. “That is an absurd argument. I will not support taking guns from law-abiding gun owners. This is about criminals, terrorist, mental illness. (Donald Trump opened a South Carolina rally by saying that President Obama is planning to sign an executive order taking everyone’s guns away.)

“Remember air raid drills? We don’t worry about that but have mass shooting drills. We are in a climate where we have to keep us safe not from nuclear weapons but a deranged person with a gun.”

I note that this proposal to make background checks universal is a great first step, but what about restoring the assault weapons ban that George W. Bush allowed to expire in 2004 (count up how many mass shootings in the blink of an eye have taken place since then and how many lives lost), and large capacity ammo?

“No where,” he said with resignation that is why so many people are fed up with government dysfunction. “They not only have refused the assault weapons ban and ban on large capacity magazines, but put a rider on a bill that prevents the CDC [Center for disease Control] from even studying the relationship and statistics showing gun deaths, gun violence and public health.”

“I am hopeful that before Boehner leaves, he will allow bringing it to the floor for a vote. Then members can vote yes or no. We are asking for Boehner, as one of his last acts before leaves, to give us a vote.

“I guarantee that if it gets to the floor, it will pass House. What happens in Senate is another issue – I would guess would be filibustered. But we should do our job.”

In other words nothing would be done – the action would simply be a sop.

What about smart guns? You would think that gun manufacturers would jump at the chance to replace 300 million obsolete guns, much as Apple gets their I-phone users to replace their I-phones. They could do imaginative trade-in deals.

“We actually thought about that,” Congressman Israel told me. “The biggest purchaser of guns from manufacturers is the federal government. We can set standards by requiring it in the specs.

Congressman Israel seems to be settling for very modest goals, leaving out a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips, or making the gun manufacturers and gun dealers liable when their weapons. As Secretary Hillary Clinton noted during the Democratic Presidential Debate, why should the gun industry singularly be exempt from any accountability among all industries?

Why can’t the gun-sense lobby take up some of the tactics of the anti-woman’s rights lobby and make it more cumbersome, more expensive to obtain such lethal weapons?

When I raised the issue of why gun manufacturers can’t see their own self-interest in producing smart guns – that can only be used by their registered owner – Congressman Israel noted “We actually thought about that,” Congressman Israel told me. “The biggest purchaser of guns from manufacturers is the federal government. We can set standards by requiring it in the specs.”

But in the likelihood that this Congress would never impose anything on private companies, why can’t the President, by executive order, require guns purchased for the federal government be smart guns, just as the president has mandated a minimum wage and paid family leave for government contractors? Such standards from a big customer have the ability to transform industries – just as California’s Clean Air standards of automobiles transformed the auto industry.

Similarly, every police department in the country could set a standard requiring smart gun technology.

Maybe that toddler would have been alive if his 6 year old brother hadn’t been able to fire his father’s gun while playing cops and robbers. Indeed, hardly a week goes by where a toddler isn’t the shooter or the victim.

The Chicago shooting is the latest in a seemingly incessant string of American kids being killed by guns, often shot by other kids. This summer, another toddler was fatally shot by her 7-year-old brother in Washington. Earlier this month, an 11-year-old boy in Tennessee was charged with first-degree murder after shooting his 8-year-old neighbor with a shotgun after an argument over puppies.”

Parents should be prosecuted when their guns are used by their children. (Instead, Florida has a law that prevents pediatricians from discussing safe storage of guns in a home.)

Also, President Obama could sign an executive order closing a loophole that allows many gun sellers to avoid licensing (and therefore the obligation to perform background checks) by requiring any dealers who exceed a certain number of firearms sales a year to obtain a federal license and perform background checks.

What is more, the progressive organization Credo says that there is a way around the National Rifle Association’s grip on Congress that so far has blocked any gun control bill from getting a vote. “Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi can use a parliamentary tactic called a ‘discharge petition’ to force a vote on a gun control package, even if pro-NRA politicians in the House refuse to act,” writes Monique Teal of Daily Kos. That means that Jon Boehner wouldn’t even have to lose face and still do the right thing.

“Even if we don’t win an up-or-down vote, we can use a discharge petition to force a vote in the House and force members of Congress to pick a side. They can either stand with the American people who are ready to take action to reduce gun violence in America or they can stand with the NRA.” (You can sign a petition at www.dailykos.com/campaigns/1474?detail=action)

If this tool is available and Democrats don’t use it, it shows that they, for all this new-found bluster, are not really serious about the most significant public health policy this nation faces, either, and that it is only for the cameras in a district so solidly in favor of sensible gun regulation.

There are signs that people are actually rising up: in California, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome is pushing for a “direct democracy” referendum that would require background checks in order to purchase ammunition.

And parents can let college campuses (and states) know they are opposed to allowing guns on campuses by demanding to know the college’s (and the state’s) policy, and refusing to allow their child to apply to those campuses.

Meanwhile, just this week, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld NY SAFE Act.

“Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld what we have long known to be true – that the core provisions of the NY SAFE Act do not violate the Second Amendment. Today, common sense prevailed.

“When we passed the SAFE Act, just days after the tragedies in Newtown and Webster, New York proved to the nation that it is possible to enact sensible gun control that coexists with the Second Amendment. We showed that it can be done with bi-partisan support from both urban and rural communities. And we took a fundamental step forward to help end the stream of senseless killings by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

“This case validates a simple, fundamental truth about gun control: that it is possible to have strong laws that keep our communities safe, while at the same time respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. New York has set the example – and it’s far past time for Washington to follow suit and pass a sensible national gun control policy.”

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