Tag Archives: gun control

A Good Teacher With A Gun….

Jennifer Rubin published a recent column that zeroed in on two aspects of American fatuousness: the Republican office-holders who, with a straight face, are advocating arming teachers, and the “journalists” (note quotation marks) who fail to ask them the follow-up questions that would immediately show how utterly stupid and dishonest that suggestion really is.

Rubin quoted the Secretary of Education, who enumerated several of those questions.

Those are some of the stupidest proposals I’ve heard in all my time as an educator,” he said on “The View” on Thursday. “Listen, we need to make sure we’re doing sensible legislation, making sure our schoolhouses are safe as much as possible.” He then mused about how arming grade-school teachers would work in practice. “What happens when a teacher goes out on maternity leave? Are we going to give the substitute of the day a gun?” Hmm.

Sort of like those proposals to lock all the doors–in violation of fire regulations. I guess it’s okay for the kids to burn to death if you are protecting them from gunslingers…

In fact, a lot of questions come with such a plan. For example: Should teachers sport their AR-15s when they have bus duty or lunchtime duty? Where do they store these weapons of war? In a locked case? Should the gun be loaded and ready to fire?
How could a civilian teacher access a secured gun quickly enough to take down an armed murderer? If you are going to arm teachers, should we outlaw the body armor that many shooters wear? Since 18-years-olds should be able to buy AR-15s, according to Republican lawmakers, why shouldn’t they be armed in high schools?

We can all think of others. And as Rubin notes, it is highly unlikely that Republicans actually want to arm the same teachers who they insist are indoctrinating kids into critical race theory and “grooming” them for homosexuality.

She makes another important point: where are the media interrogators who will ask those questions to the people proposing these dimwitted ideas.

 Interviewers rarely press Republicans to explain their bad-faith arguments. Instead, the media often treat ridiculous ideas respectfully and move on without follow-up questions. Perhaps TV hosts should start inviting these Republicans to discuss their ideas at length.

Until Republicans are forced to confess that their ideas would be impossible to implement, they’ll keep changing the subject and deflecting demands for gun legislation.

It is absolutely impossible to blame America’s continuing and escalating gun violence on anything other than the enormous stockpiles of guns in this country. Every other nation on earth has people who are mentally ill, people who are “bad actors,” people who play video games and people who don’t go to church–the usual scapegoats identified by legislators who don’t want to even consider keeping guns developed for the armed forces out of the hands of 18-year-olds.

What those safer countries don’t have is millions of guns and repeated mass shootings.

A FaceBook friend recently posted one of those inane memes–this one from crazy Clint Eastwood–insisting that the problem is not guns, it’s “hearts without God, homes without discipline, schools without prayer, courts without justice.” My oldest granddaughter, who lives in northern England, nailed it, replying:

Yeah, here in the UK we have plenty of schools without prayer, most people are not religious and owning a gun is very difficult. We have no school shootings. 100% it’s the guns.

What is so maddening is that everyone really knows that. Our sniveling, spineless legislators know it. The American public overwhelmingly knows it. Seventy-four percent of voters support raising the age to buy an assault weapon–and so do 59 percent of Republicans, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Universal background checks are supported by 92 percent of Americans. And this isn’t just some spike in the survey research, triggered by the horrifying, continuing carnage–majorities have supported common sense restrictions like these for years, and the Ted Cruzes and Steve Scaleses of the political world know it.

No one on the “left” (i.e., anyone who wants government to exercise a modicum of control that would make the carnage abate) is proposing to confiscate people’s guns ( with the possible exception of the AR-15). We just want common-sense regulations of the sort that other free and democratic countries have had for years.

We want those sniveling legislators to respect us enough to stop offering pious bromides (“thoughts and prayers”) and moronic proposals (“arm the teachers”). And we want real reporters who will ask these embarrassing excuses for legislators the hard, follow-up questions.

 

The Long And The Short Of It

Like lots of Americans, I go to the doctor twice a year for check-ups, and I respond to the standard initial questions: have I fallen in the past six months? Have I been depressed? Thought about harming myself?

I have standard responses to those last two standard questions: I’m only depressed when I pay attention to the news. I haven’t wanted to harm myself, but I have definitely wanted to harm some other people I could name….

Actually, I’m pretty sure I have a widely-shared medical condition I’ll call “news sickness.” Its symptoms are lack of focus, feelings of futility, and free-floating anger.

The lack of focus is most maddening. What should I be concentrating on–what news should I be following– at a time when there is a new threat to democracy, to well-being, to sanity every single day? A morning scan of the media highlights the most recent atrocity, in this case, the murder of yet more innocent children and their teachers in a Texas classroom. That followed closely on the White Nationalist massacre in Buffalo, and has prompted media reviews of the unthinkable number of mass shootings in America, along with statistics showing that gun violence is a peculiarly American problem. (Evidently, the mentally-ill in other countries are less murderous…)

These recent events have operated to overshadow other recent and important matters: an unprovoked war in Ukraine that is killing thousands, displacing millions, and threatening to ignite World War III; revelations of traitorous behaviors uncovered almost daily by the January 6th Committee in the course of its investigation into the unprecedented attempt to overthrow a duly elected President; the increasing successes of the retrograde movement to strip women of their right to self-determination, beginning with abortion but sending strong signals that the war on women and gay people won’t end there…

And then there are ongoing debates over COVID measures, and the shameful revelations about Baptist clergy, who–it turns out–are just as prone to sexual misbehavior as Catholic priests (and undoubtedly other “men of the cloth.”).

Hovering over all of these and many other issues is the threat posed by climate change. And hovering over all of it is the adamant refusal of the Republican Party to engage responsibly with any of these issues, and its determination to keep others from doing anything about them either.

Here, for example, is a recent report from the New York Times, detailing an organized GOP effort to punish corporations trying to be responsible stewards of the environment.

In West Virginia, the state treasurer has pulled money from BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, because the Wall Street firm has flagged climate change as an economic risk.

In Texas, a new law bars the state’s retirement and investment funds from doing business with companies that the state comptroller says are boycotting fossil fuels. Conservative lawmakers in 15 other states are promoting similar legislation.

And officials in Utah and Idaho have assailed a major ratings agency for considering environmental risks and other factors, in addition to the balance sheet, when assessing states’ creditworthiness.

Across the country, Republican lawmakers and their allies have launched a campaign to try to rein in what they see as activist companies trying to reduce the greenhouse gases that are dangerously heating the planet.

Every single day, we get media reports with the same story: Republicans continue to block even the most modest gun control efforts. State-level Republicans are passing draconian measures aimed at criminalizing abortion and punishing both women and those who might help them obtain one. Republican lawmakers are resisting subpoenas and refusing to testify to the January 6th Committee. Senate Republicans filibustered and defeated the recent anti-terrorism bill.  Senate Republican “leadership” refuses to sanction the party’s (several) “out and proud” congressional White Supremicists. A significant number of Congressional Republicans resist sending help to Ukraine, and to varying degrees, offer justifications for Russia’s invasion.

If you make a list of the most pressing issues facing the United States, it becomes blindingly clear that the federal government and the various governments of America’s Red states are doing virtually nothing to address those issues. It also becomes blindingly clear why that is: today’s Republican Party has morphed into a White Christian Supremicist cult, dismissive of science and evidence and intent upon “returning” the country to a time that never was. Thanks to gerrymandering and several outdated elements of America’s electoral system, that cult wields considerably more power than fair democratic elections would otherwise give it, and it is using its disproportionate and unrepresentative power to thwart passage of desperately-needed legislation.

What’s wrong with America today can be reduced to one simple statement:  the Republican stranglehold on government.

 

 

Indiana’s “Pro Life” Liars

Those of you who read this blog with any sort of regularity already know that the Hoosier legislators who wrap themselves in the “pro-life” label are anything but.  They are either pro-birth or anti-woman or focused on pandering to far right constituencies–usually, all three.

Nowhere is the hypocrisy of that label more vivid than in their devotion to instruments of death. I recently received the following email from a university staff member; I am sharing it in its entirety, in the hopes that many of you will take the indicated actions (not that our legislators listen to the broader public, which favors more gun control by massive margins.)

House Bill 1077 passed the house last week despite broad opposition, including from law enforcement. This bill allows for anyone, 18 or older, unless otherwise prohibited, to carry loaded handguns in public without a permit. Senate Bill 14 is similar to House Bill 1077; it allows anyone, 21 or older, unless otherwise prohibited, to carry loaded handguns in public without a permit. Senate Bill 14 will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on January 19th. Indiana has nearly 1,000 gun deaths a year, and gun deaths have increased 30% in the last decade, compared to an 17% increase nationwide. Indianapolis has seen a record number of homicides in 2021— many of which were gun homicides. Repealing the permitting requirement is irresponsible, reckless, has led to increased gun violence, and guts essential permitting standards for carrying handguns in public.

What you can do:
Sign and Share the Petition: https://www.change.org/p/oppose-hb-1077-say-no-to-permitless-carry.
Text INDIANA to 644-33 to tell your lawmaker to vote NO on HB1077/SB14 when it comes up for discussion and a vote before the full Senate chamber.

Senate Bill 143, Self-defense, specifies that “reasonable force” includes the pointing of a loaded or unloaded firearm for purposes of self-defense and arrest statutes. This is a dangerous policy as pointing a firearm does not deescalate a confrontation. This stand your ground expansion will likely disproportionately impact communities of color. When white shooters kill Black victims, the resulting homicides are considered justifiable 5 times more often than when the shooter is Black and the victim is white. Senate Bill 143 has a hearing on January 18th.

What you can do:
If your senator is on the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee, tell them to vote NO on SB 143.Corrections and Criminal Law Committee: Sen. Michael Young, Sen. Susan Glick, Sen. Mike Bohacek, Sen. Aaron Freeman, Sen. Eric Koch, Sen. Jack Sandlin, Sen. Kyle Walker, Sen. Rodney Pol, Sen. Greg Taylor
If your senator is not on the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee, tell them to vote NO on SB 143 if it comes up for discussion and a vote before the full Senate chamber.

Senate Bill 228, Acquisition and storage of firearms, prohibits a person from keeping or storing an unsecured firearm on any premises controlled by the person under certain circumstances; it also requires a person wishing to transfer a firearm to another person to transact the transfer through a firearms dealer. Senate Bill 228 has yet to have a hearing scheduled. Unsecured guns in the home pose a substantial risk to children who may find and use them against themselves or others. Estimates suggest that modest increases in the number of American homes safely storing firearms could prevent almost a third of youth gun deaths due to suicide and unintentional firearm injury

What you can do:
Email or Call Senator Young (s35@iga.in.gov | 317-232-9517) and ask him to hear SB 228 in the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee.

Something else you can do, if you live in a district (mis)represented by one of Indiana’s pro-death, pro-gun cowboys, is vote against them at the next election and get your rational neighbors to do the same.

And be sure to let them know why.

 

The Winners Write The History

I get Heather Cox Richardson’s daily letter. Richardson is a history professor, and one of the voices trying to restore accuracy to the largely incomplete lessons we’ve been taught about how and why we find ourselves where we are.

A couple of days ago, her letter made me think of the old adage about history being written by the victors–something that is evidently as true of policy arguments as it is of warfare.

Richardson was reacting to the mass shootings in Boulder and  Atlanta, and she proceeded to lay out a history of gun control in the United States, much of which I had not known.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution is one simple sentence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” There’s not a lot to go on about what the Framers meant, although in their day, to “bear arms” meant to be part of an organized militia.

As the Tennessee Supreme Court wrote in 1840, “A man in the pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms; much less could it be said that a private citizen bears arms because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane.”

So how did the “original intent” of the Amendment get twisted into a personal right to own weapons? Evidently, thanks to a similar twisting of the NRA.

The NRA was established in the late 1800s “to improve the marksmanship skills of American citizens who might be called on to fight in another war, and in part to promote in America the British sport of elite shooting.”

By the 1920s, rifle shooting was a popular American sport. “Riflemen” competed in the Olympics, in colleges and in local, state and national tournaments organized by the NRA… In 1925, when the secretary of the NRA apparently took money from ammunitions and arms manufacturers, the organization tossed him out and sued him.

Times have certainly changed.

The early NRA distinguished between law-abiding citizens who should have access to guns, and criminals and mentally ill people who should not. In 1931, it backed federal legislation to limit concealed weapons, prevent possession by criminals, the mentally ill and children, to require all dealers to be licensed, and to require background checks before delivery. It endorsed the 1934 National Firearms Act, and other gun control legislation.

But in the mid-1970s, a faction in the NRA forced the organization away from sports and toward opposing “gun control.” It formed a political action committee (PAC) in 1975, and two years later elected an organization president who abandoned sporting culture and focused instead on “gun rights.”

Richardson tells us that the NRA “embraced the politics of Movement Conservatism,” a movement opposing business regulations and social welfare programs. Movement Conservatives also embraced the myth of the heroic American cowboy, a White man standing up to the “socialism” of the federal government while dominating Black and Native American people.

In 1972, the Republican platform had called for gun control to restrict the sale of “cheap handguns,” but in 1975, as he geared up to challenge President Gerald R. Ford for the 1976 presidential nomination, Movement Conservative hero Ronald Reagan took a stand against gun control. In 1980, the Republican platform opposed the federal registration of firearms, and the NRA endorsed a presidential candidate—Reagan– for the first time.

After Reagan was shot, the  NRA spent millions of dollars fighting the Brady Bill; after it passed, the organization financed lawsuits in nine states to strike it down.

Richardson also points out that until 1959, every single legal article on the Second Amendment concluded it wasn’t intended to guarantee individuals the right to own a gun. In the 1970s, legal scholars funded by the NRA began arguing that the Second Amendment did exactly that.

The organization got its money’s worth. In 2008, the Supreme Court declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

The unfettered right to own and carry weapons has come to symbolize the Republican Party’s ideology of individual liberty. Lawmakers and activists have not been able to overcome Republican insistence on gun rights despite the mass shootings that have risen since their new emphasis on guns. Even though 90% of Americans—including nearly 74% of NRA members— recently supported background checks, Republicans have killed such legislation by filibustering it.

The good news is that the NRA is currently imploding. Perhaps the loss of its ability to spend mountains of money will allow Congress to pass responsible gun control legislation–and if it’s no longer the policy “winner,” we may get a more accurate history.

 

 

 

 

Guns And Protests

The pandemic, the economy and the Black Lives Matter Protests have dominated news coverage the past few months, joined by politics as the Presidential campaigns begin in earnest–but although long-simmering public policy debates have received less attention, that doesn’t mean those issues have gone away.

Which brings me to one of America’s longest, nastiest and most intractable standoffs: guns.

In January, Bartholomew County, Indiana’s gun rights activists asked that county’s commissioners to declare Bartholomew County a Second Amendment “sanctuary.” According to The Republic, the local newspaper, 

The group, called the Bartholomew County Indiana 2A United Sanctuary, has sent a draft of a proposed ordinance to the Bartholomew County commissioners, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, said Chris Imel of Ladoga in Montgomery County. Imel is the group’s organizer and a former Bartholomew County deputy coroner, serving in 2017.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, the private social media group had 4,471 members on Facebook. Imel said he created the Facebook page a week ago.

The group believes the “sanctuary” is necessary to prevent the enforcement of certain gun control measures that–in their opinions– violate the Second Amendment.

The measures that they assert “violate the 2d Amendment” include emergency protection orders, enforcement of gun background checks, and Red Flag laws. (Indiana’s Red Flag law allows authorities to disarm people who pose a danger to themselves or others; such laws typically include due process provisions allowing gun owners to retrieve their weapons through the courts if they can demonstrate they are mentally competent.)

The Bartholomew County Indiana 2A United Sanctuary group claims the proposed ordinance would allow local officials to “refuse to cooperate with state and federal firearm laws” perceived to violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including any future proposed restrictions on clip capacity, silencers, bump stocks, bayonet mounts, among other items, according to the proposed ordinance.

In other words, the desired “Sanctuary” would direct law enforcement in the county to ignore pretty much any state law limiting firearms in any way. (It did make an exception for federal law.)

The Bartholomew gun group  is not, unfortunately, just an isolated group of rural Hoosiers who don’t understand how laws work. They have lots of company.

As of Jan. 7, more than 418 counties, cities and towns in 21 states have passed Second Amendment sanctuary ordinances, including locations in Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, Washington and Virginia, according to Gun Owners of America, a gun-rights group.

On Friday night, Jennings County officials signed a resolution stating the county is now a Second Amendment sanctuary. There is no indication that the resolution signed in Jennings County was approved by any county or city councils or boards before it was signed by the sheriff and others, including Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.

If the sweep of this “Wild West” movement isn’t unsettling enough, the Brookings Institution recently issued a report titled “How Covid-19 is Changing the Gun Debate.

Starting in mid-April, anti-COVID-19 lockdown protestors stormed and shut down everything from statehouses to Subway restaurants with assault weapons and pipe wrenches. These protests are being framed around gun rights and free speech issues. Protests are allegedly about fully re-opening the economy following state-sanctioned shutdowns. Protestors appear to perceive that quarantine measures to keep them safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19 are violations of their civil liberties. In turn, they act out their frustrations through expressions of their 1st and 2nd Amendment rights. Anti-lockdown protests have now occurred in 31 states across the country and gun sales surged to nearly 2 million in March.

Not only have gun sales surged, but according to the report, they’ve surged in liberal states–despite the fact that the armed lockdown protestors are clearly Trump supporters. The researchers were unable to tell whether this data represents purchases by liberals (arming to protect themselves in the upcoming civil war?) or by conservatives living in liberal states (adding to their burgeoning armories?)

America is currently experiencing the simultaneous effects of the worst aspects of our cultural history: deeply-ingrained racism, an inadequate social safety net, a radical individualism that disdains even the slightest appeal to the common good, and the celebration of anti-intellectualism.

The racist and anti-intellectual elements gave us Trump–and his heavily-armed base.