Tag Archives: second amendment

Hero of the Week Award: April 19, Patricia Maisch

19 Apr
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

Despite massive popular support and rising levels of public violence, the U.S. Senate failed to pass even the weakest of gun control bills this week. In the face of this shameful behavior, one voice called out in the Senate chamber: “Shame on you!” That voice belonged to Patricia Maisch, my hero.

The woman from Tucson knows what she’s talking about. She was in the crowd when Jared Loughner opened fire, killing six and wounding many others including Rep. Gabby Giffords. Maisch leapt into action, helping subdue Loughner before he could reload. She has become an outspoken advocate for gun control and had testified in favor of congressional action.

She spoke for all sensible Americans with her outburst (which got her escorted out of the building). Congress is broken. Human lives matter less than lobbyists and corporations. Someone needs to speak the truth. Thank you, Patricia Maisch, for taking up that charge.

Honorable mention this week goes to the latest two countries to approve marriage equality for their LGBT citizens. Uruguay passed a bill last week which simply awaits the President’s signature (which he has promised). New Zealand’s Parliament approved a marriage bill on Wednesday, resulting in a joyous celebration amongst the legislators and onlookers. They are the 12th and 13th nations to approve full equality as a matter of law. How sad that the “Land of the Free” is still waiting for the same kind of justice.

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Government Of the Gun Lobby, By the Gun Lobby, For the Gun Lobby?

3 Apr
That's not how I remember it...

That’s not how I remember it…

Just over 100 days ago, Adam Lanza killed his mother, took two guns from her house to Sandy Hook Elementary School, and killed two dozen people there, most of them children under the age of eight. This horrific shooting capped a year with dozens of deaths in public shootings. Public sentiment quickly turned to the need to revisit gun control legislation.

Two basic proposals have massive support, even four months later. Universal background checks for gun purchases enjoys between 80 and 90 percent support cutting across party lines and declared political ideology. Bans or restrictions on certain assault weapons and high capacity clips (the things that made Lanza’s killing spree possible) enjoy 60 to 70 percent support, including a plurality of Republicans. The people want things to change.

Congress has done nothing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) sponsored an assault weapons ban. Sen. Charles Schumer (D – NY) led a bipartisan attempt to craft background check legislation. Everything is stalled out in the Senate and the House has made it clear that no action is forthcoming. Why won’t Congress listen to the will of the people? Apparently they are more afraid of the NRA than they are interested in doing their jobs.

Since Sandy Hook, public opinion of the NRA has plummeted. Lunatic spokesman Wayne LaPierre’s bizarre rants and proposal to arm every school have been met with scorn and disapproval. Somehow, however, the fear that the NRA will fund opponents of gun control has Congress paralyzed. The myth of the power of the Second Amendment and the very loud “out of my cold, dead hands” minority are ruling the day.

There has been a little progress. Connecticut (not surprisingly) is poised to pass sweeping new gun regulations; New York already has. So has Colorado, long a bastion of Western libertarianism and gun freedom. In the special election to pick the Democrat to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. in Illinois, Robin Kelly ran on a strong gun control platform. Despite NRA resistance, she won handily, speaking to the needs of the district. These should be lessons.

Instead, judges who have ruled for reasonable gun restrictions are filibustered and no reasonable laws are moving. The American people overwhelmingly want action. We need to speak up. Contact your Representative and Senator. Insist that they take action and remind them that the will of the people is bigger than the NRA’s purse. It’s time we ensured that our representative government really represents us.

America’s Trigger Happy Traumas

14 Jan

880-from-my-cold-dead-handsToday marks the one month anniversary of  the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT, America seems poised to look at gun violence with fresh eyes. Vice President Biden is preparing to release a set of proposals from a panel he has led to discuss the issue this week. Gabby Giffords has founded a new organization to take a fair and balanced look at what weapons are reasonable and how they should be regulated. Media attention and statements from members of Congress seem focused on solutions rather than distracted by the insane posturing of the NRA. Perhaps, this time there is hope.

Or maybe not. The mere whisper of gun reform has the pry-it-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands crowd gnashing their teeth and rushing to the stores. Gun sales began to spike when President Obama was re-elected. Racists, home-grown terrorists, and conspiracy mongers — not at all a mutually exclusive list — took that as enough of a sign that their ability to fire off insane amounts of ammo in minutes might be curtailed. Sadly the deaths of 20 school children caused no reflection, just more fear.

Gun stores across the country have shut down online vending due to low inventory. Prices on high-capactiy magazines and semi-automatic rifles have more than tripled. Background checks for weapons purchases are up nearly 60% over a year ago. The arms race (predominantly white folk) is on, and the losers will be more innocent victims. Slate magazine is tracking gun deaths since Sandy Hook. Even with the necessarily incomplete information, over 800 people have been killed by guns — nearly 30 a day. Most of those deaths were caused by legally purchased guns. And yet there are those who maintain we have no problem and that military-style weapons belong in our homes and schools.

Perhaps the poster child for this mania is James Yeager, CEO of Tactical Response, a gun advocacy and training company in Tennessee. In a viral video, Yeager fretted about the government taking away his weapons, saying

I’m not going to let anyone take my guns. If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.

Yeah right, Yeager really needs to have a gun! Still think there is not a problem here? When asked to clarify his statements in an interview, Yeager maintained that he would open fire on anyone who entered his home if he thought they wanted his guns. Fortunately, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security revoked his handgun carry permit, citing “material likelihood of risk of harm to the public.” Unfortunately, that just gives the NRA another martyr to the cause as paranoia and gun mania sweep the land.

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