Posts Tagged gun control

“Let’s Not Demonize a Man’s Tools”

“In the wake of the horrific Orlando shooting that claimed the lives of 49 people and saw countless others injured, “Pink Pistol“, an LGBT self defense and gun rights organization, issued this utterly ridiculous statement:

GUNS did not do this. A human being did this, a dead human being. Our job now is not to demonize the man’s tools, but to condemn his acts and work to prevent such acts in the future.”

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of the Pink Pistols.

Demonize a man’s tools.

Wow.

Now we are hurting the feelings of guns, it would appear.

This is nothing but the old spiel about how it is not guns that kill people, but people that kill people.  Which is bullshit and a fallacious, not to mention overly simplistic, argument.

While it is true that it was a person who picked up the gun and made the decision to mass murder those people, it is  easy access to guns that is ultimately allowing such mass shootings to take place in the first place.

I have said this before and I will repeat it again: banning guns does not make us a less violent society. It is just that guns allow violence committed to be more brutal, more violent and bloodier. It is much harder to mass murder people with knives and machetes than it is with guns, especially assault rifles.

So while it is true that people carry out the attacks, the tools used to carry out those attacks do matter. If they did not, then we would just not regulate arms or ammunition of any kind at all. Then ordinary citizens could own tanks and grenades and machine guns and missiles and nukes. Because ‘hey, it is people that kill people’, right?  And not missiles/tanks/bombs.

Wrong. They are banned because overall they pose a public health and safety concern and therefore must be regulated. Like food and pharmaceuticals and safe child seats and clean water and air etc. All those things exist becasue of regulation.

Now it was about time that gun follow suit and also got banned. Overall, the cost of public gun ownership is too high and does not justify the rather meager benefits.

At the PBS Newshour last week President Obama assured a concerned audience member that he or Hillary do not “want to take away [our] guns.

That is when I realized just how utterly powerful the gun lobby has been in this country that no matter how horrific the gun violence incidences, including the mass massacre of children,  no one, no one, is willing to stand up to the NRA and even suggest the radical notion that maybe we should consider banning all guns while reexamining the validity and benefit of the  Second Amendment on American society today.

“We dont want to take your guns away” is not the right answer Mr. President. We have to ban guns. That is the only way we will significantly reduce gun violence. It doesn’t matter that people can still get them illegally. Being able to get something legally versus illegally makes a huge difference in terms of the number of guns circulating. Making something illegal just makes it harder to obtain. It is no ‘no big deal’.

And fuck the Second Amendment. Really. It was written for a different time and for different reasons and for a different peoples and a different America and the only reason it is being cited by gun nuts as a right today, is because of gun manufacturers and the  gun lobby leading to the misguided interpretation of the Second Amendment by our equally misguided Supreme Court. 

It seems like we are just going in loops: a shooting happens, some hack steps forward whining about  why “the good guys” like them, who allegedly use guns responsibly, should be “punished” for the mistakes of others, saying trite shit like ‘people kill people, not guns blah blah blah’, just so everyone shuts up like they had a point, just so we can repeat the same discussion next time around. And again. And again. And again…and then we wonder why nothing changes. 

Thing is: there is no such thing as responsible gun ownership. That is a myth. Guns are tools designed to kill. They serve no other purpose. A responsible, decent person doesn’t need guns in their everyday life to begin with. And  I have this suspicion that anyone who thinks they are a decent guy who needs to own guns to get by, is secretly hoping to have to use them one day.

Finally, background checks (and mental illness checks) don’t work: Mental illness reporting and “checks” (whatever that is supposed to entail) are a gross violation of a person’s privacy and with it dignity. And background checks don’t work because a lot of the shooters did not have police records and thus a negative background. The Sandy Hook shooter had a clean background and would have fallen through any kind of radar and so would most of the mass shooters of late. None of them had shady, criminal backgrounds. They were not the “wrong” people to own a gun, until they were.

So background checks don’t really do anything but give people on the other side a false sense of security and that someone is being held accountable here, when in reality these checks are so pointless in reducing gun violence, we may as well save ourselves the money and not bother with them at all.

And mental illness checks will do nothing but add more stigma to mental illness, further demonizing the already vulnerable, stigmatized mentally ill who, by the way, are more likely to be the victims of violence than its perpetrators.

The only way we can and will put an end to this fuckery is by BANNING ALL GUNS. Everything else is just self aggrandizing bullshit while pandering to the stupid masses and the damn gun lobby that’s turned gun ownership into a virtue and necessity via vile propaganda, lies and scapegoating.

If we don’t stop “demonizing” that man’s tool, the gun, as PInk Pistol put it oh so romantically, then nothing will change and we’ll be having the same discussion for another 50 years. 

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Stabbing vs. Shooting

On Tuesday, a 16 year old student at Franklin Regional High School in the Pittsburgh suburb of Murrysville went on a stabbing spree, leaving at least 19 students and a school security guard injured.

I did not know what the exact circumstances of the incident were, but I do recall that I was relieved beyond description when I noted the words “knife” and “stabbing” in the headline. I knew, even without having to read the article in detail, that a knife attack most probably meant no massacre and that no one was actually brutally killed, which would have been definitely the case had the perpetrator owned a gun of some sort, which he then could have easily pointed at a crowd to pull the trigger to cause a carnage.

I’m sure that in the next few days and weeks we’ll be hearing all sorts of familiar refrains by gun advocates who, undoubtedly, will take this incident to “prove” to us that the issue is really not guns but a violent culture in general and how gins can save us and that the gun is being unduly vilified blah blah blah.

The thing that people who advocate for guns galore seem to absolutely not get (or refuse to get) is that no one is arguing that limiting and severely regulating guns is going to make us a less violent society.

The issue is, however – and I cannot repeat that often enough – that guns make the violence that occurs in society bloodier and deadlier. Case in point, the incident above:  if that kid had a semi-automatic on him, the NRA can bet its gun-holding King James Bible that we would be counting bodies now, not injuries.

And that, in a a nutshell, is the difference between guns, on the one hand, and knifes, a fist, an ax, a chainsaw, a car and whatever other tools out there than can be used to hurt someone, on the other hand.

Guns are dangerous because it is so easy to point one at a crowd –  from a distance no less – pull the trigger and cause devastating damage.

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Quote of the Day

I assumed that after 70 people were shot in a movie theater and then just a few months later 20 first-graders were murdered with an assault rifle in an elementary school, that the absurd gun laws in this country would change, but nothing has happened.” […] “The gun lobby in America, led by the NRA, has bullied this nation’s politicians into cowardly silence. Even when 20 young children are blown away in their classrooms. […] More guns doesn’t mean less crime, as the NRA repeatedly tries to tell you. It means more gun violence, more death and more profits for the gun manufacturers.”

Piers Morgan, on his last day at CNN, where he was bullied and fired from his job thanks to the NRA and gun lobbyists who did not like the all too sane message about the terrible gun industry and gun culture that he was delivering.

Great America. Now go hire some conformist, gun aficionado in collaboration with the NRA so that we may have more Sandy Hooks and Aurora, Colorado mass shootings.  Twenty children were brutally massacred because guns have become ubiquitous symbols of our landscape but that was not enough of a wake-up call for our cowardly politicians and so-called leaders as clearly there are more children and innocent bystanders to be massacred so that some greedy jingoists with a nervous trigger-finger and paranoia about some government take-over and end-of-times scenario can distribute and carry more guns.

Women cannot get abortions because aborting a fetus is murder and life is scared blah blah blah but the same people who make the argument about valuing life have no problem seeing guns distributed to every man, woman and child so they may take lives at any time under the auspices of  “self defense” of course, while those who die innocently, such as the children in the Sandy Hook shooting are brushed off and pitied as unfortunate victims of everything, but guns.

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Nothing Has Changed

What is it called when you go through the motions of decorum and supposed action and assert that you care about something – be it a person, a cause, a terrible act of violence committed against someone – say how sad you are about it, urge everyone how badly and direly things need to change, even hold speeches and make announcements but without any real intention of actually changing things?

This is how I feel on the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting massacre of 26 people – most of whom were children.

Here we are, a year later, and basically nothing has changed in terms of gun laws in this country. Wal-mart still offers two-for-one deals, you can still buy all the arsenal you want online or in person and no one will as much as care to think twice why you need it. Nothing. Guns are still available galore and even our President, who seems to have shed his last piece of backbone at the door, only had this half-assed, dispassionate thing to say in his radio address today:

We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily. We have to do more to heal troubled minds. We have to do everything we can to protect our children from harm and make them feel loved, and valued, and cared for.

Obama also observed a moment of silence and lit candles at the White House in honor of the victims.

How swell of him.

The gun lobby in this country is so strong and our legislators so beholden to them and the gun manufacturers that line their pockets, that even the brutal massacre of children did not present the breaking point prompting our lawmakers to enact true, meaningful gun-regulation legislation. Obama cares about and supports making communities safer but is clearly not able and/or willing to do what it takes to make them safer because I can promise you that half-assed, generic speeches about how the children are our future and how we need to teach them well and help lead them way mean diddly if those half heart-warming speeches are not backed up by meaningful legislation aimed at addressing the root cause.

Those children are dead because the NRA has made obtaining guns in this country easier than obtaining a checking account.

The only reform that did come out of this was background checks which means absolutely nothing because both the Sandy Hook assailant and the Colorado one  – and in fact most of the shooting assaialtns – did not have criminal backgrounds that would have alerted anyone in the first place. In fact, the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza took his mother’s guns – rendering the whole background check as a condition for gun ownership quite frankly a useless piece of legislation seemingly more intent at keeping the critics quiet by giving them the illusion of victory and that something was done – even if that something was as meaningless as Obama’s first term.

Money Speaks Louder Than The Lives of Children Lost

As long as money is worshiped more than the lives of kids, you can have the entire nation stay silent for a month in memory of children lost to gun violence and still there would be no legislation coming from our leaders – Republicans and Democrats alike – in support of controlling this out-of-control society’s love affair with guns. Let’s face it, the NRA is just a tool of gun manufacturers, and those foolish enough to back the NRA in it’s war against America’s kids and therefore this country’s future, are used like so much spent shells in a shotgun.

That money, coupled with support of ignorant sheeple is the backbone that breaks the back of all common sense and decency is nothing new. See climate change, for example. The evidence of it happening is right before us, just as the evidence of gun violence is right before us in widescreen, in all it’s bright and gory and vivid technicolor 3D, but our leaders just don’t want to touch an issue when profits come before life, and this from the party that claims to be pro-life.

The GOP speaks of focusing on the mentally ill (a vulnerable and already marginalized segment of our society, the majority of whom are not violent) rather than guns, at the same time Republicans play the paranoid card and use it get their constituents “crazy” with a buzzing in their heads about black helicopters hovering over their constituents homes ready to jump out and take everyone’s guns away. It’s money however that the NRA uses to back these republicans and money gun manufacturers uses to load the guns that the NRA uses to help shoot down legislation the NRA even once supported–universal background checks.

Gun Lobby At a Glance

According to Opensecrets.org,  the National Rifle Association accounts for about 60 percent of what gun rights interest groups spent on lobbying in 2011 and the first three quarters of 2012. The other gun rights advocates include the Gun Owners of America; the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms; The National Shooting Sports FoundationSafari Club International;Boone & Crockett Club, a group that aims to preserve a “hunting heritage”; and The Ohio Gun Collectors Association.

The NRA alone has spent more than ten times as much as gun control interest groups on lobbying in 2011 and the first three quarters of 2012.

Gin control

For gun rights groups, 2012 was the most active election cyclesince 2000. They contributed a total of $3 million to candidates, 96 percent of them Republicans, through mid-October. That also makes 2012 its most Republican election cycle, with 2000 and 2002 close behind with 93 percent of contributions going to Republicans.

Even after Newtown, when a flush of new money was injected into lobbying efforts on both sides, the anti-reform effort was spending $12.2 million to gun safety’s $1.6 million — or about seven times more. As Gallup data shows public support for gun safety correlating broadly to years where reform efforts were well funded, the necessity for gun reform of competing, dollar for dollar, with its opponents has never been more urgent.

When it comes to financing their lobbying efforts, anti-reform forces have a much better system in place. First of all, the NRA and other groups that spend directly on federal lobbying themselves receive massive financial support from the gun manufacturing industry. In other words, the anti-reform movement benefits from having a large, lucrative industry — one with a financial stake in opposing new safety regulations. If there were a single industry that were docked dollars and cents every time someone was shot in America, then maybe the reform movement would have a similar sponsor. But there isn’t, and this might be one advantage the NRA always keeps.

However, industry backing is just the icing on the cake. The NRA already has a national, grassroots fundraising operates that alone can sustain millions of dollars in annual lobbying. It received $100 million (approximately half of its budget) in 2010 from voluntary contributions alone. The NRA also has agreements with many gun manufacturers and retailers where they receive a contribution with every gun sale. Additionally, the NRA Foundation gives out thousands of community grants every year, benefiting everything from gun safety programming to the Boy Scouts and no doubt contributing to the loyalty they enjoy from their base. The NRA doesn’t have to rely on current events or outrage to finance their federal lobbying efforts; they have a financing machine that allows them to have an institutional presence in Washington.

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But you know, children are our future and we need to make communities safe in America blah blah yawn – let’s pick up a candle, light it and stay silent for 15 minutes and then our legislators can all go back and collect blood money from the NRA and the gun manufacturers pretending that the blood spilled in Sandy Hook or Colorado or during any of the gun violence incidences wasn’t on their hands since they did hold a vigil and talk about the importance of keeping our communities safe and even went after the mentally ill as clearly those suffering from mental illness are the problem as opposed to gun manufactures, their lobbying arms, the NRA, and the corrupt politicians  – including Obama  – who are beholden to them.

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Quote of the Day

obama blah blah

That is a huge understatement, Mr. President. I mean, for a second there I thought he was so passionate and enthusiastic about this, he would momentarily break down and yawn.

Shutting down the government so that millions of Americans don’t get health care is not just a bad idea  – you pudding of a man – it is callous and contemptible and speaks of a peoples who lack compassion and empathy.

I am always amazed, and with that I mean shocked to my core and appalled, at the ease with which conservatives/Republicans take comfort in the idea of denying health care to millions of Americans.

But that is the running, concurrent theme in a country where its people go marching for gun ownership and against health care for people. Just as it was the case with the bail out: of course students and us mere middle class 99%ers were not, and never will be, worthy of a bail out. That is reserved for the crooks who got us into this. Decent, law abiding people do not get bailed out, the white collar criminals, the robber barons and the politicians who support them do. Why forgive student loans or keep interest rates low for everyone at all times when you could give all that money to Wall Street, oil companies, the military industrial complex and Israel.

The sad reality in this, of course, is that as long as Congress-members are in bed with the likes of Koch Brothers as opposed to mistresses, everyone is fine. Screw over the entire country, you are good, you get bailed out and called an example of the grand American Dream, a hard worker. Text a picture of your dick to your mistress, it is a scandal and you are a scum, wreck sex addict who deserves to crawl into a cave to never return.

Yeah, priorities. We got them.

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Quote of the Day

“This is America waddya expect? The only thing u aren’t allowed to kill in an instant is a fetus.”  – Bill Maher in reaction to the George Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict.

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The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

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The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fall outs. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices.  To be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. And the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fall out all of its own. For the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined to the twilight zone.” 

– The Monsters are Due on Maple Street – The Twilight Zone 

One of the top “arguments” of gun advocates  against gun control of any kind is that it helps protect ordinary citizens from a tyrannous government or government take over of any kind. The most cited example is the Holocaust and the (false) assertion that if the Jewish population in Germany had been allowed to own guns, the subsequent genocide would not have happened as clearly untrained civilians could have defended themselves against the military and thus when members of the SS and other military personnel marched into their homes to apprehend them.

Such an assertion is false and problematic for a number of reasons.

In the event of a coup, the first entity that takes sides is the military because whoever has the military on their side will be able to coerce people and thus has the power.  Therefore, in such an event, the government essentially becomes the military and vice versa.  AR15s or any of the guns currently owned by civilians are not going to save anyone vis a vis the military might of the government in charge. It was not going to save the Jewish population in their homes in 1933, and it would not save anyone in this country either if such a fantasy scenario were to ever take place.

The truth is that guns on the hands of civilians are simply no match, whatsoever, against military power and especially mean squat when the government has atomic weapons. Heck even today, if the National Guard and armed forces, in some fantasy scenario created by the NRA and other fear mongers,  somehow decided to go after people, AR15s would not protect them. I mean really, what do people think they can do in such an even anyway? Shoot their way out of the country? 

Such delusions, however, do not seem to bother gun advocates and fear mongers such as Tea Party Congressman Louie Gohmert who mumbled this unfounded and incomprehensible gibberish the other day:

Louie Gohmert

Louie Gohmert

[The Second Amendment] is for our protection and the founders’ quotes make that very, very clear and including against a government that would run amok. We’ve got some people who think Sharia Law should be the law of the land, forget the Constitution. But the guns are there, that Second Amendment is there, to make sure all of the rest of the Amendments are followed.”

Let’s debunk and deconstruct this junk

1) The Founders did not intend to place guns in the hands of ordinary citizens and they did not want them to be used in public discourse.  It clearly stated that people shall bear arms  as part of a regulated militia. As Alexander Hamilton said about a militia:

A tolerable expertness in military movements is a business that requires time and practice. It is not a day, or even a week, that will suffice for the attainment of it. To oblige the great body of the yeomanry, and of the other classes of the citizens, to be under arms for the purpose of going through military exercises and evolutions  as often as might be necessary to acquire the degree of perfection which would entitle them to the character of a well-regulated militia, would be a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss.”

The only entity that, in all its wisdom, decided to extend the Second Amendment to mean that also ordinary citizens can and should own guns is the fucking Supreme Court in its 2008 ruling.

Shooting our way through this country was certainly not what the Founding Fathers had in mind. In fact, the founders of this nation created the Constitution and this very Nation to move away from the arbitrary rulers of Europe who used such unenlightened methods as an approach to governance.  The use of guns as a tool in public discourse is unevolved,  unenlightened  and uncivilized.

The founders of this nation wanted people to resolve their problems and dissatisfaction through civil society and democratic means, such as grassroots, organizing and lobbying instead of by shooting opponents or those they do not like or whom they merely perceive as a threat, even though there really is not a real threat emanating from them.

True patriots support the Constitution adamantly and wholly. They have faith in the Constitution of the United States and the Rule of Law. Since we no longer find ourselves in the 17th Century where citizens had to fight for and stand up to oppressive monarchies, the use of arms in this country to protect against the government no longer applies and is ridiculous at best.

One should always question the actions and policies of one’s government and leaders demanding transparency and oversight But armed revolt? With guns? One cannot keep lawmakers in check by owning assault rifles. One cannot get the Supreme Court to enact policies by pointing a gun at them.
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2) It is quite hypocritical, but completely expected,  of Tea Partiers and conservatives such as Gohmert to talk about the government wanting to institute Sharia Law (a subtle nod to Obama and his alleged Muslim ties and connections as laid out by terrible human being Michele Bachman) when clearly religious based laws, albeit Christian, are what Conservatives like him want for this nation.

3) I am particularly disturbed by the fact that a law maker and elected official believes that this country, including its Constitution and its Amendments, ought to be protected by guns and by actually pulling the trigger on those who may threaten them.

It is also deeply disturbing to see that gun owners zealously champion the “right” of people to own guns and all sorts of tools of murder, yet somehow seem to have forgotten about all the other civil liberties that are being continuously but surely eroded by the government such as with the Patriot Act and CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), the latter of which would  allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and certain technology and manufacturing companies to allegedly investigate cyber threats. We see this with Guantanamo Bay and the erosion of the Fourth Amendment.

Incidentally, or ironically, the government being given all sorts of rights and powers in the name of national security  – such as did happen after 9/11 and the creation of the patriot Act and subsequent legislation –  is precisely what preceded the 6 million genocide in Germany. After the burning of the Reichstag, the finding of a scapegoat and instigation of fear, Hitler was able to ask people to give him full power to “protect the public“.

Citizens not being armed had nothing to do with it. The genocide occurred not because Jews didn’t have guns to defend themselves.  It occurred because people, out of fear and paranoia, handed all their freedoms, and with it rights, over to a genocidal murderer who, much like Wayne LaPierre, knew exactly what tunes to sing and what kind of alarmist rhetoric to use to get people pumped up and boiling with paranoia and rage, to the point of committing genocide.

So this idea that gun ownership advocates have about the US being like Nazi Germany and that as citizens we need guns to protect against our Hitler,  which for Republicans these days is a black man with the name of Barak Obama, is ignorant, uncivilized and pathological.

The real threat, right here, right now, is not a government take over, Sharia law, terrorists, Muslims,  hurricanes, activist judges,  black people, street gangs  or any of the other scapegoats the NRA has been manipulating the public into fearing. These things do not plunder the Constitution or pose a threat to the very fabric of society.  What does pose a threat to America, however, is the enemy within

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