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Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Outlines Plan to End America’s Gun Violence Epidemic

Vice President Joe Biden announced a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the latest 2020 Democratic Candidate to come out with a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence, once again proving that there is no shortage of pragmatic plans to solve the most intransient, important issues we face as a nation and a world – what has been lacking is political will. Have you seen a plan from Donald Trump? Me neither.Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

This is from the Biden 2020 campaign:

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced a detailed plan to end America’s gun violence epidemic ahead of his participation in the Giffords and March for Our Lives presidential gun safety forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

While Democratic leaders and the American public have reached an undeniable and broad consensus about what needs to be done to address the gun violence epidemic that has engulfed communities across America, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Congressional Republicans, and the NRA refuse to take any sensible action. As president, Biden will not let anyone hold our nation’s children, families, and communities hostage to the scourge of gun violence Americans face every day. 

Biden is introducing a bold, comprehensive plan that not only calls for common sense gun safety reform, but outlines how he is going to get it done for the American people. Biden’s plan calls for universal background checks, closing loopholes in the background check system, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, incentivizing states to establish red flag law, holding gun manufacturers accountable, and investing in public health research regarding the causes and prevention of gun violence.

As a leader who has championed common sense gun safety laws both as a United States Senator and Vice President, Biden has unmatched substantive expertise on addressing gun violence. He has been pushing the conversation on ending gun violence for at least 25 years. And he has taken on the NRA twice and won – first with the Brady Bill, which established firearms background check system, and then securing the passage of a ten-year ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines together with Senator Dianne Feinstein. 

Based on his expertise and experience on this issue, Biden’s plan also includes three standout sections that further demonstrate how he will end the gun violence epidemic:

Addressing the daily combination of guns and domestic violence;

Tackling urban gun violence with targeted, evidence-based community interventions; and

Supporting survivors of violence and their communities.

On the second anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, Vice President Biden released a statement decrying Donald Trump’s continued inaction on sensible gun reform and his capitulation to the NRA. Biden also declared, “We can beat the NRA; we can get those weapons of war off our streets; and we can make sure our children don’t grow up in constant fear. Real leadership — moral leadership — can get these reforms done.”

Today’s plan follows Biden for President’s release of “Purpose,” a video of gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg who credits Biden for helping inspire his mission as a gun safety advocate after his 14-year-old daughter was killed in Parkland, Florida. 



FACT SHEET: 
THE BIDEN PLAN TO END OUR GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC

Vice President Joe Biden presents a plan to address gun violence as a public health epidemic. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Joe Biden knows that gun violence is a public health epidemic. Almost 40,000 people die as a result of firearm injuries every year in the United States, and many more are wounded. Some of these deaths and injuries are the result of mass shootings that make national headlines. Others are the result of daily acts of gun violence or suicides that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to the families and communities left behind.

Joe Biden has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won – twice. In 1993, he shepherded through Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million firearms out of dangerous hands. In 1994, Biden – along with Senator Dianne Feinstein – secured the passage of 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As president, Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again.
 
Joe Biden also knows how to make progress on reducing gun violence using executive action. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with developing both legislative proposals and executive actions to make our communities safer. As a result of this effort, the Obama-Biden Administration took more than two dozen actions, including narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” increasing the number of records in the background check system, and expanding funding for mental health services.
 
It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. Biden will:
 
Hold gun manufacturers accountable. In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.
 
Get weapons of war off our streets. The bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, secured in 1994 reduced the lethality of mass shootings. But, in order to secure the passage of the bans, they had to agree to a 10-year sunset provision and when the time came, the Bush Administration failed to extend them. As president, Biden will:
 

Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children. It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons. This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994 bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden will also use his executive authority to ban the importation of assault weapons.

Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements, such weapons are rarely used in crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.

Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.

Reduce stockpiling of weapons. In order to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.

Keep guns out of dangerous hands. The federal background check system (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is one of the best tools we have to prevent gun violence, but it’s only effective when it’s used. Biden will enact universal background check legislation and close other loopholes that allow people who should be prohibited from purchasing firearms from making those purchases. Specifically, he will:

Require background checks for all gun sales. Today, an estimated 1 in 5 firearms are sold or transferred without a background check. Biden will enact universal background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members. This will close the so-called “gun show and online sales loophole” that the Obama-Biden Administration narrowed, but which cannot be fully closed by executive action alone.

Close other loopholes in the federal background check system. In addition to closing the “boyfriend loophole” highlighted below, Biden will:

Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons, which President Trump reversed. In 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration finalized a rule to make sure the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends to the background check system records that it holds of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms because they have been adjudicated by the SSA as unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons. But one of the first actions Donald Trump took as president was to reverse this rule. President Biden will enact legislation to codify this policy.

Close the “hate crime loophole.” Biden will enact legislation prohibiting an individual “who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, or received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its commission” from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Close the “Charleston loophole.” The Charleston loophole allows people to complete a firearms purchase if their background check is not completed within three business days. Biden supports the proposal in the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, which extends the timeline from three to 10 business days. Biden will also direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to put on his desk within his first 100 days as president a report detailing the cases in which background checks are not completed within 10 business days and steps the federal government can take to reduce or eliminate this occurrence.

Close the “fugitive from justice” loophole created by the Trump Administration. Because of actions by the Trump Administration, records of almost 500,000 fugitives from justice who are prohibited from purchasing firearms were deleted from the background check system. The Biden Administration will restore these records, and enact legislation to make clear that people facing arrest warrants are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.

End the online sale of firearms and ammunitions. Biden will enact legislation to prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.

Create an effective program to ensure individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their weapons. Federal law defines categories of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, and the federal background check system is an effective tool for ensuring prohibited persons cannot purchase firearms. But we lack any serious tool to ensure that when someone becomes newly prohibited – for example, because they commit a violent crime – they relinquish possession of their firearms. There are some promising models for how this could be enforced. For example, California has a mandatory process for ensuring relinquishment by any individual newly subject to a domestic violence restraining order. As president, Biden will direct the FBI and ATF to outline a model relinquishment process, enact any necessary legislation to ensure relinquishment when individuals newly fall under one of the federal prohibitions, and then provide technical and financial assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment processes on their own.

Incentivize state “extreme risk” laws. Extreme risk laws, also called “red flag” laws, enable family members or law enforcement officials to temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms when that individual is in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others. Biden will incentivize the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them. And, he’ll direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue best practices and offer technical assistance to states interested in enacting an extreme risk law.

Give states incentives to set up gun licensing programs. Biden will enact legislation to give states and local governments grants to require individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a gun.

Adequately fund the background check system. President Obama and Vice President Biden expanded incentives for states to submit records of prohibited persons into the background checks system. As president, Biden will continue to prioritize that funding and ensure that the FBI is adequately funded to accurately and efficiently handle the NICS system.


ADDRESSING THE DEADLY COMBINATION OF GUNS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The statistics tell a devastating and overwhelming story. The likelihood that a woman in a domestic violence situation will be killed increases by a factor of five if a gun is nearby. Half of mass shootings involve an individual shooting a family member or former intimate partner. This deadly connection tragically impacts children as well: 86% of children killed in shootings with four or more victims were involved in domestic or family violence.
 
Biden recognizes that the gun violence and domestic violence epidemics are linked and cannot be solved in isolation. Addressing the interconnectedness of these challenges will be a core focus of Biden’s anti-violence work as president.
 
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which Leader McConnell refuses to bring to the floor for a vote, includes a number of reforms to keep firearms out of the hands of abusers. Senator McConnell should ensure this legislation gets passed long before President Biden would take the oath of office. But if McConnell refuses to act, Biden will enact legislation to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole” by prohibiting all individuals convicted of assault, battery, or stalking from purchasing or possessing firearms, regardless of their connection to the victim. This proposal is modeled after existing laws in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. Biden also supports enacting the proposal to prohibit anyone under a temporary restraining order from purchasing or possessing a firearm before their hearing.
 
In addition, President Biden will:

Establish a new Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women. As President, Joe Biden will convene a national Task Force with federal agencies, state leaders, advocates, law enforcement, and technology experts to study rampant online sexual harassment, stalking, and threats, including revenge porn and deepfakes — and the connection between this harassment, mass shootings, extremism and violence against women. The Task Force will be charged with developing cutting-edge strategies and recommendations for how federal and state governments, social media companies, schools, and other public and private entities can tackle this unique challenge. The Task Force will consider platform accountability, transparent reporting requirements for incidents of harassment and response, and best practices.

Expand the use of evidence-based lethality assessments by law enforcement in cases of domestic violence. Lethality assessments, sometimes called “risk” or “danger” assessments, are a proven strategy to help law enforcement officers identify domestic violence survivors who are at high risk of being killed by their abusers. These survivors are then connected with social service programs that can offer services and safety planning. An evaluation of the Lethality Assessment Program (LEP) created by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence showed promising results. Increased federal funding will incentivize jurisdictions to take advantage of implementing these programs more widely.



Make sure firearm owners take on the responsibility of ensuring their weapons are used safely.

Put America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example, existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to smart guns.

Hold adults accountable for giving minors access to firearms. Biden supports legislation holding adults criminally and civilly liable for directly or negligently giving a minor access to a firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains possession of the firearm.

Require gun owners to safely store their weapons. Biden will pass legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely in their homes.

Empower law enforcement to effectively enforce our gun laws.

Prioritize prosecution of straw purchasers. “Straw purchasers” buy a firearm on behalf of an individual who cannot pass a background check. Biden will end those loopholes by enacting a law to make all straw purchases a serious federal crime and ensure the U.S. Justice Department has sufficient resources to prioritize their prosecution.

Notify law enforcement when a potential firearms purchaser fails a background check. Too often, when prohibited persons attempting to buy a firearm fail a background check, state and local law enforcement is never informed of the attempt. As president, Biden will direct the FBI to set up a process to ensure timely notification of denials to state and local law enforcement, and he’ll support legislation to codify this process. This empowers law enforcement to follow up and ensure prohibited persons do not attempt to acquire firearms through other means.

Require firearms owners to report if their weapon is lost or stolen. Responsible gun owners have a responsibility to inform law enforcement if their weapon is lost or stolen. Biden will enact legislation to make this the law of the land.

Stop “ghost guns.” One way people who cannot legally obtain a gun may gain access to a weapon is by assembling a one on their own, either by buying a kit of disassembled gun parts or 3D printing a working firearm. Biden will stop the proliferation of these so-called “ghost guns” by passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check. Additionally, Biden will ensure that the authority for firearms exports stays with the State Department, and if needed reverse a proposed rule by President Trump. This will ensure the State Department continues to block the code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet.

Reform, fund, and empower the U.S. Justice Department to enforce our gun laws. Biden will direct his Attorney General to deliver to him within his first 100 days a set of recommendations for restructuring the ATF and related Justice Department agencies to most effectively enforce our gun laws. Biden will then work to secure sufficient funds for the Justice Department to effectively enforce our existing gun laws, increase the frequency of inspections of firearms dealers, and repeal riders that get in the way of that work.

Direct the ATF to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking. This report will provide officials with critical information to better identify strategies for curbing firearms trafficking.


TACKLE URBAN GUN VIOLENCE WITH TARGETED, EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNITY INTERVENTIONS

Daily acts of gun violence in our communities may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence that does make the front page. And, these daily acts of gun violence disproportionately impact communities of color. But there is reason to be optimistic. There are proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities without turning to incarceration. For example, Group Violence Intervention organizes community leaders to work with individuals most likely to commit acts of gun violence, express the community’s demand that the gun violence stop, and connect individuals who may be likely perpetrators with social and economic support services that may deter violent behavior. These types of interventions have reduced homicides by as much as 60%Hospital-Based Violence Intervention engages young people who have been injured by gun violence while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to social and economic services that may decrease the likelihood they engage in or are victims of gun violence in the future. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund these and other types of evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.



Dedicate the brightest scientific minds to solving the gun violence public health epidemic. In 2013, President Obama issued a memorandum clarifying that a longstanding appropriations rider that prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal scientific agencies from using federal dollars to “advocate or promote gun control” does not prohibit those agencies from researching the causes and prevention of gun violence. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) subsequently embarked on funding some of this research, though Republican leadership in Congress refused to appropriate any funds to the CDC for this work. Biden will call for Congress to appropriate $50 million to accelerate this research at the CDC and NIH.
 
Prohibit the use of federal funds to arm or train educators to discharge firearms. We should be passing rational gun laws, not requiring educators who already have too much on their plates to also protect the safety of their students. Biden supports barring states from using federal dollars to arm or train educators to discharge firearms.
 
Address the epidemic of suicides by firearms. Biden believes any plan to address the gun violence epidemic must address suicides by firearms, which account for 6 in 10 gun-related deaths but are often left out of the conversation. Many of the policies noted above – including safe storage requirements and extreme risk protection orders – will have a serious impact on efforts to reduce gun violence. But there’s so much more we need to do to support people experiencing suicidal ideation. In the months ahead, Biden will put forward a comprehensive plan to improve access to mental health services.
 


SUPPORTING SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
 
Violence causes ripples of trauma throughout our communities, impacting not just the victims of violence but also their communities and first responders. Fear of school shootings is having a noticeable impact on the mental health of Gen Z. Intimate partner violence is linked to depression, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health challenges among survivors. And, this trauma can be intergenerational. Science now shows that young children who witness violence – including in their home – literally alters the parts of their brains that affect “reasoning, planning, and behavioral control.”
 
We need to reduce violence to prevent trauma from happening in the first place. But we also must treat the resulting trauma as a serious crisis in its own right.
 
As president, Biden will:

Make federal programs more trauma-informed. During his first 100 days, Biden will direct his Cabinet to conduct a review of all federal programs that directly serve communities likely to experience violence and identify reforms to make sure those programs effectively address resulting trauma. Biden will then invest significant federal funds in expanding and improving the federal government’s support for trauma-informed and culturally responsive care.

Create a network of trauma care centers. Biden will bring together offices within the federal government to establish specialized trauma care centers for survivors of violence, with a special focus on survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Domestic violence services are focused on meeting the emergency needs of survivors, including safety planning and crisis intervention. As a result, frontline providers lack the resources they need to offer therapeutic services to help survivors heal from trauma. These trauma care centers will be flexible in meeting the needs of communities, and could be housed at rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs, universities, and existing mental health centers.

Train health care and other service providers in trauma-centered care. To prevent revictimization and secondary trauma, Biden will align training efforts throughout relevant federal programs to include a focus on understanding the traumatic effects of violence, providing appropriate care to avoid furthering the trauma, linking survivors with evidence-based trauma therapies, and reducing myths about domestic and sexual violence. This will be accomplished through agency directives, policy guidance, and special conditions for grantees and contractors.

For more on Vice President Biden’s plan, see HERE.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Senator Klobuchar: ‘The Time is Now for Action on Gun Safety’

Gun shop, Rapid City, South Dakota. Democratic candidates for 2020 including Senator Amy Klobuchar have outlined detailed plans to reduce the epidemic of gun violence. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

All the Democratic candidates for 2020 have strong stands on gun safety regulations they would implement to reduce the sick, tragic epidemic of gun violence.

Beto O’Rourke had his break-out moment at the third Democratic Debate, in Houston no less, forcefully declaring, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore. If the high-impact, high-velocity round, when it hits your body, shreds everything inside of your body because it was designed to do that so that you would bleed to death on a battlefield … when we see that being used against children.”

And Senator Elizabeth Warren offered a plan that she said would reduce gun deaths by 80 percent. (See:  Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren Releases Plan to Protect Our Communities from Gun Violence)

Senator Amy Klobuchar was joined at the Democratic Debate in Houston by gun safety activists from across the country and following the debate, issued her detailed plan for enacting gun safety measures. This is from the Klobuchar campaign:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Gun violence in America has cut short far too many lives, torn families apart and plagued communities across the country. This year there has been an average of about one mass shooting a week in which three or more people have died, including the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that killed 31 people in less than 24 hours. At the same time, everyday gun violence in this country continues to take the lives of the equivalent of a classroom of school children every week.

The gun homicide rate in the United States is 25 times higher than other developed countries and gun safety laws are long overdue. Senator Klobuchar has been standing up to the NRA and fighting for stronger gun safety measures since she was the Hennepin County Attorney, working with local law enforcement to push to ban military-style assault weapons. In the Senate, she has supported legislation to ban assault weapons and bump stocks and improve background checks. 

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, she authored legislation that would prevent convicted stalkers from purchasing firearms and close the “boyfriend loophole” by expanding the definition of a domestic abuser to include dating partners. That Klobuchar legislation has now passed the House of Representatives and has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate. 

Because of her leadership on gun violence prevention, Senator Klobuchar advocated for gun safety legislation at a meeting with President Trump at the White House after Parkland. Seated across from Senator Klobuchar at the meeting, President Trump publicly declared that he supported doing something on background checks nine times. The next day he then met with the NRA and folded. The legislation never was pushed by the White House.

At tonight’s debate, Senator Klobuchar is joined by gun safety activists Roberta McKelvin, Perry and Sharia Bradley, and Mattie Scott as well as the former mayor of Cedar Rapids, IA, Kay Halloran, who is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.

As President, Senator Klobuchar will not fold. She will stand up for a safer world by:

  • Instituting universal background checks by closing the gun show loophole.
  • Banning bump stocks that can increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire to 700 rounds per minute.
  • Banning high capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
  • Quickly raising the age to buy military-style assault weapons from 18 to 21 and fighting to ban the sale of assault weapons.
  • Providing grants to states to implement extreme risk provisions to empower families and law enforcement to keep guns away from people who show signs of threatening behavior.
  • Closing the “Charleston loophole” by giving law enforcement additional time to complete background checks.
  • Closing the “boyfriend loophole” by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms.
  • Establishing a waiting period for sales of handguns and assault rifles, which law enforcement can waive in the case of an emergency.
  • Prohibiting the online publication of code for 3D printing firearms.
  • Holding manufacturers and distributors of gun kits to the same standards as those of completed firearms.
  • Providing funding for the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention to conduct research on firearm safety and gun violence prevention.  

In addition, Senator Klobuchar has laid out a plan for her first 100 days that includes executive action she can take immediately to address gun violence:

  • Immediately close the “boyfriend loophole.”
  • Consider gun violence as a public health issue in CDC studies.
  • Crack down on gun manufacturers and dealers that break the law.
  • Prevent people with severe mental illness from acquiring guns.
  • Prevent federal funding from being used to arm teachers.
  • Introduce gun violence legislation. 

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Warren Releases Plan to Protect Our Communities from Gun Violence

Senator Elizabeth Warren, running to be the Democratic candidate for president, released her plan to protect communities from gun violence © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth Warren released her plan to protect communities from gun violence. This is from the Warren2020 campaign (Read it here).

“The conversation about gun violence in America is shifting — but not just because we’ve seen a spike in violence fueled by the NRA and the Trump administration’s dangerous policies and extremist rhetoric. It’s also because of the tireless work of activists, organizers, and community leaders who have been fighting for reform at the state and local level.

“If you need proof that the majority of Americans support common sense gun reform, look at what’s happening in state legislatures and city councils across the country. Moms, students, and faith leaders have been packing hearing rooms and taking back spaces formerly reserved for NRA lobbyists. Survivors of mass shootings are doing the critical work of turning our attention to the daily gun violence in cities that doesn’t make headlines.

“And it’s working. States that pass expanded background checks see lower rates of gun-related deaths and gun trafficking. States that disarm domestic abusers see lower rates of intimate partner gun violence. States with extreme risk laws have been successful in reducing gun suicides and have used them to prevent potential mass shootings. Community-based violence intervention programs are popping up in cities across the country.

“Together, we can build on this momentum. We can build a grassroots movement to take back the Senate, eliminate the filibuster, and pass federal gun safety legislation that will save lives. And from the White House, I’ll make sure that the NRA and their cronies are held accountable with executive action. If we turn our heartbreak and our anger into action, I know we can take the power from the NRA and the lawmakers in their pockets and return it to the people.”

Charlestown, MA – Prior to her appearance at the Everytown presidential forum, Elizabeth Warren released her plan to confront gun violence in America. Yesterday, she called on Walmart to stop selling guns — one of the largest gun retailers in the world. 

Elizabeth will set a goal of reducing gun deaths in this country by 80%, starting with an ambitious set of executive actions she will take as president. In order to break the hold of the NRA and the gun lobby, she will pass her sweeping anti-corruption legislation and eliminate the filibuster to pass gun legislation in her first 100 days. She supports federal licensing, universal background checks, a military-style assault weapon ban, higher taxes on guns and ammunition, and closing the loopholes to make it harder for someone violent to get a gun. 

We know that Black and Latinx Americans have borne the brunt of the gun violence tragedy in our country. Instead of focusing solely on law enforcement and incarceration, Elizabeth will invest in interventions designed to stop gun violence before it occurs by piloting evidence-based community violence intervention programs at scale.

She will call on Congress to repeal the liability shield that protects the industry – and then go further, by establishing a federal private right of action to allow survivors of gun violence to get their day in court. Her plan also includes $100 million annually for gun safety research, and commits to study the reforms we enact to see what’s working, and send Congress updated reform proposals on an annual basis.

Read more about her plan here and below: 

Columbine.

Sandy Hook.

Charleston.

Pulse.

Las Vegas.

Parkland.

Pittsburgh.

Now El Paso. Dayton.

These are just a few of the names etched into the American consciousness, synonymous with senseless loss and enduring grief.

It’s been a week since these latest attacks, and on average every day 100 people are killed in the U.S. by a gun — in shootings that occur in our homes, on our streets, at our playgrounds.

The victims are our neighbors and our friends. Someone’s mother, someone’s child, someone’s sibling.

There is no shortage of horrifying statistics about our gun violence epidemic.

Our firearm homicide rate is 25 times higher than other comparable countries.

Our firearm suicide rate is nearly 10 times higher.

Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be shot to death than women in other high-income countries, most killed by an intimate partner.

21 children and teenagers are shot every day.

The list goes on.

And while the majority of Americans — including a majority of gun owners — support sensible gun legislation, even the most basic proposals, like universal background checks, are consistently blocked by far-right ideologues in Congress who are bought and paid for by the gun industry, their NRA partners, and a supporting army of lobbyists and lawyers.

Faced with a complex and entrenched public health crisis, made worse by the ongoing inability of a corrupt government to do anything about it, it’s easy to despair. But we are not incapable of solving big problems. We’ve done it before.

In 1965, more than five people died in automobile accidents for every 100 million miles traveled. It was a massive crisis. As a nation, we decided to do better. Some things were obvious: seatbelts, safer windshields, and padded dashboards. Other things only became clear over time: things like airbags and better brake systems. But we made changes, we did what worked, and we kept at it. Over fifty years, we reduced per-mile driving deaths by almost 80% and prevented 3.5 million automobile deaths. And we’re still at it.

In 2017, almost 40,000 people died from guns in the United States. My goal as President, and our goal as a society, will be to reduce that number by 80%. We might not know how to get all the way there yet. But we’ll start by implementing solutions that we believe will work. We’ll continue by constantly revisiting and updating those solutions based on new public health research. And we’ll make structural changes to end the ability of corrupt extremists to block our government from defending the lives of our people — starting with ending the filibuster.

Here’s what that will look like.

As president, I will immediately take executive action to rein in an out-of-control gun industry — and to hold both gun dealers and manufacturers accountable for the violence promoted by their products.

I will break the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress by passing sweeping anti-corruption legislation and eliminating the filibuster so that our nation can no longer be held hostage by a small group of well-financed extremists who have already made it perfectly clear that they will never put the safety of the American people first.

I will send Congress comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation. I will sign it into law within my first 100 days. And we will revisit this comprehensive legislation every single year — adding new ideas and tweaking existing ones based on new data — to continually reduce the number of gun deaths in America.

Executive Action to Reduce Gun Violence

Reform advocates are engaged in a valuable discussion about gun reforms that can be achieved by executive action. We must pursue these solutions to the fullest extent of the law, including by redefining anyone “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms to include the vast majority of gun sales outside of family-to-family exchanges. This will extend requirements — not only for background checks, but all federal gun rules — to cover all of those sales. This includes:

Requiring background checks. We will bring the vast majority of private sales, including at gun shows and online, under the existing background check umbrella.

Reporting on multiple purchases. We will extend the existing requirement to report bulk sales to nearly all gun sales. And I’ll extend existing reporting requirements on the mass purchase of certain rifles from the southwestern border states to all 50 states.

Raising the minimum age. We will expand the number of sales covered by existing age restriction provisions that require the purchaser to be at least 18 years old, keeping guns out of the hands of more teenagers.

My administration will use all the authorities at the federal government’s disposal to investigate and prosecute all those who circumvent or violate existing federal gun laws. This includes:

Prosecuting gun traffickers. Gun trafficking across state lines allows guns to move from states with fewer restrictions to those with strict safety standards, and gun trafficking across our southern border contributes to gang violence that sends migrants fleeing north. I’ll instruct my Attorney General to go after the interstate and transnational gun trafficking trade with all the resources of the federal government.

Revoking licenses for gun dealers who break the rules. Only 1% of gun dealers are responsible for 57% of guns used in crimes. My Administration will direct the ATF to prioritize oversight of dealers with serial compliance violations — and then use its authority to revoke the license of dealers who repeatedly violate the rules.

Investigating the NRA and its cronies. The NRA is accused of exploiting loopholes in federal laws governing non-profit spending to divert member dues into lavish payments for its board members and senior leadership. I’ll appoint an attorney general committed to investigating these types of corrupt business practices, and the banks and third-party vendors — like Wells Fargo — that enabled the NRA to skirt the rules for so long.

To protect the most vulnerable, my administration will use ATF’s existing regulatory authority to the greatest degree possible, including by:

Protecting survivors of domestic abuse. We will close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by defining intimate partner to include anyone with a domestic violence conviction involving any form of romantic partner.

Reversing the Trump administration’s efforts to weaken our existing gun rules. We will rescind the Trump-era rules and policies that weaken our gun safety regime, including rules that lower the standards for purchasing a gun, and those that make it easier to create untraceable weapons or modify weapons in ways that circumvent the law. This includes overturning Trump-era policies enabling 3-D printed guns, regulating 80% receivers as firearms, and reversing the ATF ruling that allows a shooter to convert a pistol to a short-barreled rifle using pistol braces.

Restrict the movement of guns across our borders. We will reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to make it easier to export U.S.-manufactured weapons by transferring exports of semi-automatic firearms and ammunition from the State Department to the Commerce Department, and we will prevent the import of foreign-manufactured assault weapons into the United States.

The shooting in El Paso also reminds us that we need to call out white nationalism for what it is: domestic terrorism. Instead of a president who winks and nods as white nationalism gets stronger in this country, we need a president who will use all the tools available to prevent it. It is completely incompatible with our American values, it is a threat to American safety and security, and a Warren Justice Department will prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law.

Structural Changes to Pass Gun Safety Legislation

The next president has a moral obligation to use whatever executive authority she has to address the gun crisis. But it is obvious that executive action is not enough. Durable reform requires legislation — but right now legislation is impossible. Why? A virulent mix of corruption and abuse of power.

Big money talks in Washington. And the NRA represents a particularly noxious example of Washington corruption at work. Over the last two decades, the NRA has spent over $200 million on lobbying Congress, influencing elections, and buying off politicians — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The NRA spends millions poisoning our political discourse with hateful, conspiracy-fueled propaganda, blocking even modest reforms supported by 90% of American voters.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, the American people rallied for reform. President Obama suggested several serious legislative changes. The Senate voted down an assault weapons ban. It rejected a background checks proposal, even though 54 Senators from both parties voted for it, because of a right-wing-filibuster. These were the bare minimum steps we needed to take. And six years later, Congress still hasn’t done a thing.

This pattern repeats itself throughout our government. When money and influence can override the will of a huge majority of Americans, that is corruption, pure and simple.

It’s time to fight back. I have proposed the most sweeping set of anticorruption reforms since Watergate — a set of big structural changes that includes ending lobbying as we know it and slamming shut the revolving door. My first priority when I’m elected President is to enact this package to get our government working for everyone again.

But anti-corruption legislation alone won’t be enough to get gun safety legislation done. After decades of inaction, Democrats have rallied behind a number of important gun reforms. If we continue to allow bought and paid for extremists in the Senate to thwart the will of the people, we will never enact any of them.

Enough is enough. Lasting gun reform requires the elimination of the filibuster.

Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence

When I am president, I will send Congress comprehensive legislation containing our best ideas about what will work to reduce gun violence.

It starts by ensuring that safe, responsible ownership is the standard for everyone who chooses to own a gun. We’ll do that by:

Creating a federal licensing system. States with strict licensing requirements experience lower rates of gun trafficking and violence. A license is required to drive a car, and Congress should establish a similarly straightforward federal licensing system for the purchase of any type of firearm or ammunition.

Requiring universal background checks. I’ll expand background checks via executive action — but Congress should act to permanently mandate universal background checks. And I’ll push Congress to close the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allows a sale to proceed after three days even if the background check is not complete.

Increasing taxes on gun manufacturers. Since 1919, the federal government has imposed an excise tax on manufacturers and importers of guns and ammunition. Handguns are taxed at 10% and other guns and ammunition are taxed at 11%. These taxes raise less in revenue than the federal excise tax on cigarettes, domestic wine, or even airline tickets. It’s time for Congress to raise those rates — to 30% on guns and 50% on ammunition — both to reduce new gun and ammunition sales overall and to bring in new federal revenue that we can use for gun violence prevention and enforcement of existing gun laws.

Establishing a real waiting period. Waiting periods prevent impulsive gun violence, reducing gun suicides by 7–11% and gun homicides by 17%. Over the past 5 years, a national handgun waiting period would have stopped at least 4,550 gun deaths. The federal government should establish a one-week waiting period for all firearm purchases.

Capping firearms purchases. About one out of four of firearms recovered at the scene of a crime were part of a bulk purchase. Congress should limit the number of guns that can be purchased to one per month, similar to a Virginia law that successfully reduced the likelihood of Virginia-bought guns being used in criminal activity.

Creating a new federal anti-trafficking law. Congress should make clear that trafficking firearms or engaging in “straw purchases” — when an individual buys a gun on behalf of a prohibited purchaser — are federal crimes. This would give law enforcement new tools to crack down on gun trafficking and help keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Raising the minimum age for gun purchases. I’ll extend existing age requirements to virtually all sales, but federal law is currently conflicting — for example, a person must be 21 to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, but only 18 to purchase a rifle. Congress should set the federal minimum age at 21 for all gun sales.

We can also do more to keep military-style assault weapons off our streets. We’ll do that by:

Passing a new federal assault weapons ban. The 1994 federal assault weapons ban successfully reduced gun deaths but was allowed to expire ten years later. Congress should again ban the future production, sale, and importation of military-style assault weapons, and require individuals already in possession of assault weapons to register them under the National Firearms Act. Just as we did successfully with machine guns after the passage of that law, we should establish a buyback program to allow those who wish to do so to return their weapon for safe disposal, and individuals who fail to register or return their assault weapon should face penalties.

Banning high-capacity ammunition magazines. High-capacity magazines were used in 57% of mass shootings from 2009 to 2015, allowing the shooters to target large numbers of people without stopping to reload. Congress should enact a federal ban on large-capacity magazines for all firearms, setting reasonable limits on the lethality of these weapons.

Prohibiting accessories that make weapons more deadly. Gun manufacturers sell increasingly deadly gun accessories, including silencers, trigger cranks, and other mechanisms that increase the rate of fire or make semi-automatic weapons fully automatic. Congress should ban these dangerous accessories entirely.

We should also do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of those at highest risk of violence. We’ll do that by:

Passing extreme risk protection laws. Extreme risk protection orders allow families and law enforcement to petition to temporarily restrict access to firearms for individuals in crisis or at elevated risk of harming themselves or others. Congress should pass a federal extreme risk law and create a grant system to incentivize states to enact their own laws that clearly define extreme risk.

Prohibiting anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun. Too often, guns are used in acts of mass violence intended to provoke fear in minority communities; more than 10,000 hate crimes involve a gun every year. Any individual convicted of a hate crime should be permanently prohibited from owning a gun, full stop.

Protecting survivors of domestic abuse. Domestic violence and gun violence are deeply connected — in an average month, more than 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner. I’ll close the boyfriend loophole, but Congress should make that permanent, and expand the law to include individuals with restraining orders or who have been convicted of stalking.

Securing our schools. Parents shouldn’t have to buy bullet-proof backpacks for their children — guns have no place on our campuses or in our schools. Congress should improve the Gun-Free School Zones Act to include college and university campuses, and apply to individuals licensed by a state or locality to carry a firearm.

If we want real, long-lasting change, we must also hold the gun industry accountable, including online sites that look the other way when sellers abuse their platforms. We’ll do that by:

Repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Nearly every other industry has civil liability as a check on irresponsible actions, but a 2005 law insulates firearms and dealers from civil liability when a weapon is used to commit a crime, even in cases when dealers were shockingly irresponsible. No one should be above the law, and that includes the gun industry. Congress should repeal this law, immediately.

Holding gun manufacturers strictly liable for the harm they cause through a federal private right of actionGun manufacturers make billions in profit by knowingly selling deadly products. Then they are let completely off the hook when people take those deadly products and inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. State tort law already recognizes that certain types of products and activities are so abnormally dangerous that the entities responsible for them should be held strictly liable when people are injured. Congress should codify that same principle at the federal level for guns by creating a new private right of action allowing survivors of gun violence to hold the manufacturer of the weapon that harmed them strictly liable forcompensatory damages to the victim or their family.

Strengthening ATF. The NRA has long sought to hobble the ATF, lobbying against staffing and funding increases for the agency and getting its congressional allies to impose absurd restrictions on its work even as the agency struggled to meet its basic responsibilities. Congress should fully fund ATF’s regulatory and compliance programs and remove the riders and restrictions that prevent it from doing its job.

Regulating firearms for consumer safety. Today there are no federal safety standards for firearms produced in the United States. We can recall unsafe products from trampolines to children’s pajamas — but not defective guns. Congress should repeal the provision of law that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating the safety of firearms and their accessories.

Tightening oversight for gun dealers. Today there is no requirement for federally-licensed gun shops to take even simple steps to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Congress should pass basic safety standards for federally-licensed gun dealers, including employee background checks, locked cabinets, and up-to-date inventories of the weapons they have in stock.

Holding gun industry CEOs personally accountable. I’ve proposed a lawthat would impose criminal liability and jail time for corporate executives when their company is found guilty of a crime or their negligence causes severe harm to American families — and that includes gun industry CEOs.

Tragedies like the shootings we witnessed in El Paso and Dayton capture our attention and dominate the conversation about gun reform. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg of gun violence in America. Everyday, we lose one hundred Americans to gun violence, with hundreds more physically injured and countless more mentally and emotionally traumatized. And Black and Latinx Americans have borne the brunt of the gun violence tragedy in our country.

In the past, those statistics have been used to justify increased policing and strict sentencing laws. Communities already traumatized by gun violence were doubly victimized by policies that locked up their young people and threw away the key. We’ve got a chance to show that we’ve learned from the past and to chart a new path. It starts by acknowledging that gun violence is a public health crisis, one that cannot be solved solely by the criminal justice system.

We can start to do that by investing in evidence-based community violence intervention programs. Federal grant funding today focuses significantly on law enforcement and incarceration, rather than interventions designed to stop gun violence before it occurs. The data in urban communities indicate that the majority of violence is perpetrated by a small number of offenders, and many cities have found success with programs that identify those at highest risk of becoming the victim or perpetrator of a violent gun crime, then employing strategies to interrupt the cycle of violence before it escalates. Programs that engage the surrounding community, employ mediation to prevent retaliation, build trust with law enforcement, and provide needed long-term social services have been proven to de-escalate tensions and dramatically reduce violence. As president, I’ll establish a grant program to invest in and pilot these types of evidence-based intervention programs at scale.

Annual Research and Annual Reauthorization

Historically, when Congress works to address big national issues, we don’t simply pass one law and cross our fingers. Instead, we continue the research — into new policies and around the consequences of our existing policies — and then come back on a regular basis to update the law.

We don’t do this with guns. Not only have we not passed meaningful legislation in almost a generation, but thanks to the NRA, for decades Congress prohibited federal funding from being used to promote gun safety at all, effectively freezing nearly all research on ways to reduce gun violence. Last year, Congress finally clarified that the CDC could in fact conduct gun violence research — but provided no funding to do so.

This ends when I’m President. My budget will include an annual investment of $100 million for DOJ and HHS to conduct research into the root causes of gun violence and the most effective ways to prevent it, including by analyzing gun trafficking patterns, and researching new technologies to improve gun safety. These funds will also be used to study the reforms we enact — to see what’s working, what new ideas should be added, and what existing policies should be tweaked. And every year, I will send Congress an updated set of reforms based on this new information. That’s how we’ll meet our goal.

NY’s Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul Paying Homage to Massacred Jews, Tells Synagogue: Live a more Publicly Jewish Way, Don’t Be a Victim; Push Hate Back Under a Rock

New York State Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul tells communal shiva gathering for Pittsburgh synagogue victims at Beit Shalom Torah, “Live a more publicly Jewish way, not be a victim. Push [hate] back under a rock.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The reaction to the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest against the Jewish community in American history, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum told the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan, to be more Jewish, more visibility, not be (terrorized) into bunkers or invisibility.

Leading a communal shiva service, she said, “We will study, build community and not lose our focus as to what it is to be Jewish.”

New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, addressing a communal Shiva gathering for victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh said, “The word is resilience, a refusal to succumb to victimhood. That’s how we win out. Willingness to gather as a community …

“The shock, outrage, disbelief, overwhelming sadness and grief is overwhelming,” she said.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul addresses Beit Shalom Torah congregation at communal shiva gathering for victims of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“How it happened? We don’t have political courage to ban weapons that allow such carnage.

“As to why? We know there is hatred, evil, but in t last two years, it has evolved… Evil lurking under surface, the serpents feeling they can rise up out from under rocks because leadership is willing to do the same. .. What was submerged is unleashed.

“What gives hope is the knowledge that no child is born anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. [We must] capture hearts and minds of next generation before they learn hate.”

She advised, “Live a more publicly Jewish way, not be a victim, but embrace your heritage and embrace the ones not yet [tainted] by hate. Push [hate] back under a rock.

“On behalf of Governor Cuomo and 20 million New Yorkers, I express condolences to all of us because we are all heartbroken today.”

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Cantor Steve Zeidenberg of Beit Shalom Torah hold communal shiva gathering for victims of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rabbi Kleinbaum noted that the first response after the news of the massacre in Pittsburgh came via text and email from Muslim and Christian leaders in the city.

She said that since the inauguration, she and members of the synagogue have held a vigil at the nearby mosque every Friday, to stand up for Muslims who have been vilified by Trump.

“We say to ourselves what would it have been like in Berlin, in Vienna, if non-Jewish Germans and Austrians stood with their Jewish neighbors.

And now, the Iman has said his members would come to the synagogue this Friday before Shabbat services.

“We are in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters,” he wrote. “Throughout the constant attacks and dehumanization from this administration, [Beit Simcha Torah] has been a source of faith and love. … Our duty is to stand with our Jewish brother and sisters. We stand with them, put our bodies on the line for their safety. … [We must] stamp out White Supremacy and anti-Semitism….Any attack on your community is an attack on ours.”

Rabbi Kleinman said, “We can replace hate in the world, the violence, with love.”

Sing “God Bless America” as a prayer, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum says at Beit Shalom Torah hold communal shiva gathering for victims of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

She noted that the attack on Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was not only an act of anti-Semitism, but because the synagogue supported refugees to the US.

“Abraham was told to leave his home, go to a place he did not know and build and live there.

HIAS – Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – provided finances to help Jews, and today, HIAS helps non-Jews become part of the American tapestry, “because we are Jews, we welcome the stranger, the immigrant,” she said.

“God forbid this act of violence deters us from that, puts us into bunkers. That’s what the terrorists, anti-Semities want…. We must respond to anti-Semitism with deepened strength of Jewish identity. We must not let fear, despair control us.

At the end of the service, members of the synagogue’s board read the names and something personal about each of the 11 victims at Tree of Life Synagogue, murdered for no other reason than being Jewish. Most notably, was the personal remembrance of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66 years old, who was one of the first to treat people with HIV. The gentleman had grown up in Pittsburgh and was treated by Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, until he left Pittsburgh in 2004. “He was the one to go to. He was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest. He held us without gloves. You will be remembered by me always. You are one of my heroes.”

It is also notable that the first to treat the assassin at the hospital were Jewish, including a doctor who was a congregant at Tree of Life.

“I refuse to give up on the dream of what this world could be,” Rabbi Kleinbaum said, “[to be a victim of] the violence, hatred unleashed by this administration. I refuse to give up on the power of human beings. We who are Jews, have a deep and proud tradition. There are those who would want us to turn inward. Don’t believe that.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and Cantor Steve Zeidenberg of Beit Shalom Torah hold communal shiva gathering for victims of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Before the immigration laws, a young boy whose mother couldn’t speak English, came with no money, worked very hard cleaning other people’s homes and would tell him, ‘God bless America,’ not because it was perfect but it was better than the place she fled. The son grew up in New York City, became one of the greatest songwriters. Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America,” not as a militaristic, triumphant chant. He wrote it as a prayer. He wrote it understanding her dream, coming to this country without skills, language or money, for her son to grow up away from a land that hated Jews. God Bless America. We won’t give up. And remember to vote. Sing it, as a prayer.”

And the congregation sang.

Founded in 1973, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) is a progressive synagogue that attracts and welcomes gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, ‎queer and straight, individuals and families who share common values. Hochul had participated in the opening of the building in 2016.

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

 

March for Our Lives in DC Signals New Focus for Gun Reform Activists: ‘Vote Them Out’

Gun activists at the March for Our Lives in Washington DC March 24, 2018 signaled a new focus: they are done entreating politicians to pass sensible gun control laws. They intend to Vote Them Out. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump and the NRA-toadies in the Congress had all skipped town ahead of the onslaught of an estimated 500,000 who joined the March for Our Lives in Washington DC calling for sane gun control. After Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas, and the five school shootings that took place just since Parkland, the advocates for commonsense gun regulation are done trying to appeal and cajole lawmakers. The overriding theme of the event, called out in every interlude between the teen and t’ween speakers who so eloquently made the argument for banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips and universal background checks was “VOTE THEM OUT.”

The call would come from down a mile-long stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue, and crescendo, until the buildings would shake.

Signs at the March for Our Lives, DC, signal a new activism: “It may be the 2nd Amendment, but in a second THEY WERE GONE.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gun control advocates are done expecting tragedy to prompt action to protect public health and safety. They are done asking. They are demanding change – whether it be the policy or the politician.

“Either represent the people or get out … Stand for us or beware: The voters are coming,” was the manifesto from Parkland student Cameron Kasky to lawmakers. “To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down, stay silent and wait your turn: Welcome to the revolution.”

“Your children are the ones fighting for their rights.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The NRA has succeeded, despite easily 90% of Americans who want sensible gun regulations – keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, the severely mentally ill, felons and terrorists, and want to keep weapons designed for war off city streets where 80 percent of Americans live – because they 1) buy politicians, but 2) because they manage to shepherd single-issue voters, fear-mongering the call for “sensible” gun regulation into “confiscate your guns” – and there are some 350 million of them in the hands of just 22% of the population (3% of gun owners own 50% of guns).


Why protect unborn children only to have them die in school © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, the single-issue voters will be gun regulation. That will be the litmus test for support or opposition to a candidate. And that’s okay, because it seems that those who embrace sensible gun laws tend also to support climate action, women’s rights, justice, health care and education. They tend to support diplomacy over war. They see gun control as a public health issue – an epidemic of lethal violence that must be addressed – and so also favor the other issues that support health and quality of life, or in the words of the Founding Fathers quoted on the stage: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

And there will be 3.9 million high school seniors who will be eligible to vote, if not in the 2018 midterms, buy the 2020 presidential.

An army of volunteers were out with forms to register new voters here and in the hundreds and hundreds of “sibling” rallies held across the country – more than 800 in all including those that took place globally. (Several nations have issued advisories against traveling to the United States because of gun violence.)

Gun violence has affected 40 percent of all Americans © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This was quite literally a March for Our Lives. More children have been killed by gun violence in the five years since Sandy Hook than soldiers have died in combat since 9/11, reported Newsweek. According to Everytown, on average, there are 13,000 gun-related homicides a year (another 20,000 suicides); for every one person killed by a gun, two more are injured; seven children and teens are killed with guns every day. In 2015, Politifact confirmed a statement by Nicholas Kristof that “”More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 [1,516,863] than on battlefields of all the wars in American history [1,396,733].”

Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There have been 5 school shootings just since Parkland on February 14 – including the murder just two days before the March for Our Lives  of 16-year old Jaelynn Willey at Great Mills High School in Maryland, at the hand of a 17-year old former boyfriend, wielding his parents’ semi-automatic handgun.

Marching for Jaelynn. There have been 5 school shootings just since Parkland on February 14 – including the murder just two days before the March for Our Lives of 16-year old Jaelynn Willey at Great Mills High School in Maryland, at the hand of a 17-year old former boyfriend, wielding his parents’ semi-automatic handgun. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It wasn’t just Parkland or Sandy Hook and school shootings represented. The speakers were representative of the spectrum of gun violence that is epidemic in America and no where else in the world: gang violence that steals so many lives in urban center cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, that snuffs out the souls in church, concerts, movies, shopping malls; the victims of domestic violence and robbery. And assassination, as the remarks of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, recalled.

Crowd hears surprise guest Martin Luther King’s 9-year old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King declare: “I have a dream that enough is enough. And that this should be a gun-free world – period.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” said Yolanda Renee King. “I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said. “And that this should be a gun-free world – period.”

Then there was 11-year old Naomi Wadler from Alexandria, Virginia, who led the walk-out from her school for 18 minutes – 17 to honor those killed in Parkland and 1 more for the girl who was murdered from her school. “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper. Whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” she said. “For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers. I’m here to say ‘Never Again’ for those girls, too.”

Am I next? On average, gun violence kills 96 people a day. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On average, gun violence kills 96 people each day, who don’t warrant media notice. American women are 16 times more likely to be shot to death than women in other developed countries; When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, the woman is 5 times as likely to be murdered. But in states where a background check is required for every handgun sale, 47% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners, according to EverytownResearch.org.

How many more? (in front of Newsmuseum’s First Amendment banner © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The speakers, an extraordinary array of the most extraordinary young people, described  their trauma, their loss of siblings, parents, best friends, the constant anxiety they must now live with (187,000 school children today have been witness to gun attacks in their schools, according to a Washington Post study; an entire generation since the 1999 Columbine massacre lives with Live Fire drills just as the 1960s kids drilled for nuclear bomb attacks; 40% of Americans know someone who has been a victim of gun violence). They made their case with such clarity, poise, reason and most of all, authenticity, you had to contrast that with the absurdity and stupidity that is heard from many of the current electeds, like Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert.

Emma Gonzalez’ piercing 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

When Emma Gonzalez, with her poignant, piercing 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence that mimicked the time it took for the Parkland School Shooter to kill 17, injure 17 more with his AR-15 assault rifle and simply disappear amid the fleeing students, you had the feeling of seeing a future leader, much as those who heard Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley commencement speech. And so many more on that stage. And then there was Malala, in her taped message, who defied the terror attack on her by Taliban determined to prevent girls from attending school.

Priest makes a statement, ‘Never Again’. Alex Wind of Parkland asks, if teachers are armed, where will it end? Priests, pastors, rabbis? Ticket takers at the movies? Shopkeepers at the mall? “That’s what the NRA wants.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But more: you realized in a flash what was lost – to society, to civilization – the potential of what these young people could have been, their lives snuffed out by the dreck of our species. Did we lose a Steve Hawking, a Malala, an Obama, a Steve Jobs, a Bill Gates? And what of the hundreds of thousands who must live with life-altering injuries – what of the cost to society of their lost ability to fulfill their potential, of the cost of health care that might otherwise have been spent on education, professional training, investment in innovation? The high cost of trauma counselors after an event, of security officers, technology and construction to harden schools against gun violence (diverting scarce funds from computers and actual teaching), pales in comparison.

Teachers, unsung heroes on the frontline of wanton mass shootings, demand “Books over bullets.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

These Parkland survivor-leaders weren’t trying to appeal to politicians with reason or emotion, authenticity or compassion, as the Sandy Hook parents had futilely done. They are done with that.

The pacing of the production – mixing personal stories with PSA’s and data – even the NRA’s “greatest hits” – and top-notch entertainment that included Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt ; Miley Cyrus; Ariana Grande; Jennifer Hudson; Andra Day with Cardinal Shehan School Choir;  Common with Andra Day; Demi Lovato; Vic Mensa and an astonishing performance by the Stoneman Douglas drama club with a student choir of the song they wrote, “Shine”  (www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrZiB2jV7dw), was as fast and explosive as an AR-15 firing. The audience filled in the interlude with chants of “Vote Them Out” – except after Emma Gonzalez spoke, when the chant was “Vote Her In.”

They want to know why a minority of people get to threaten the vast majority of people.

March for Our Lives: Enough is Enough. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Enough is Enough, the speakers declared. Never Again, was the reply back, perhaps more hopefully, given that there are still more than 200 days before the midterm elections, and 250 days before a new Congress is seated. How many more will die until then? If the law of averages continues, 96 a day, or upwards of 24,000 lives will be snuffed out in this gun violence epidemic, with thousands of more suffering life-altering injuries, that sap their ability to fulfill their god-given potential.

Ballots stop bullets. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We’re done hiding, being afraid,” Ryan Deitsch, a survivor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, declared. “That’s not what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ This is the beginning of the end. This is the fight for our lives.

“REV up America: Register to vote. Then educate. Then vote.”

About a million people attending more than 800 rallies across the country and around the world, were inspired to take action. And vote.

Here are more photo highlights of the March for Our Lives in Washington DC:

Just Say No to Guns © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I want to play dodgeball, not dodge bullets” 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

More than 350,000 turned out for the March for Our Lives, Washington DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We’ll Vote” (and tweet, rally, march and protest) © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Gun Owners Against the NRA © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Air Force Veteran at the March for Our Lives, DC. One of the PSAs features veterans who say that weapons of war they were trained to use have no place in civilian society. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Dress codes are more regulated than guns” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is one of the elected who may be on the garbage heap of history because of gun control activists. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Students from North Carolina at the March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Students from Ohio at the March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“You can’t put a silencer on me” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trump: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Signs of Our Times © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Signs from the March for Our Lives across street from National Archives where you can see original copies of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Warning signs © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I march to be the change” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I Remember You”: Backstage notes at March for Our Lives, DC © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:

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

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

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

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

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

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

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

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

But no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will this stab at activism be different?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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