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Quote of the Week – What is wrong with us when we respond to a tragedy like Colorado?

For all the dysfunction in our political system, a healthy pattern usually takes hold when a terrible tragedy seizes the nation’s attention.

Normally, we engage in a searching conversation over what rational steps can be taken by individuals, communities and various levels of government to make the recurrence of a comparable tragedy less likely. Sometimes we act, sometimes we don’t, but at least we explore sensible solutions.

Unless the tragedy involves guns. Then our whole public reasoning process goes haywire.

. . . E. J. Dionne, Jr.

Of course, this shows the evil effect the NRA has had on our society. Take the 1994 regulation that banned the sale of assault weapons. For ten years the NRA lobbied on the need for Americans to buy the guns they wanted and in 2004 they succeeded by not having the law renewed. This also included AUTOMATIC assault weapons… the ability for fast multi-bullet firing, just like what happened in the Colorado movie theatre. And remember, the gunman acquired his guns and 60,000 bullets legally.

I admire Dionne and think we should pay attention to him. The rest of his article is HERE.

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NRA website has nothing on the Thursday night movie theatre shooting…

I thought I’d skip over to the News page at the NRA’s website and watch their news report from yesterday, July 20. I was sure they would at least put forward a position on the Colorado shooting that killed and wounded about 50 people.

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA

Nothing there. Oh, there was a complaint about Congress looking into carry permit law and shooting competitions around the country, but nothing at all about the mass killing in a movie theatre.

Wayne LaPierre’s National Rifle Association has ignored the idea of people who shouldn’t have guns being able to get them…and use them. Their recent support of the “Stand Your Ground” law in the Trayvon Martin case is an example of their position. And look, Twenty or so years ago, the NRA was losing members. At the time, when some nut shot up a post office or a McDonald’s, we actually had laws passed like the 1994 assault weapons ban.

LaPierre and members lobbied for years and made sure the assault weapons ban was not renewed. I assume that means that the NRA thinks assaults are legal.

Rather than focus on putting airport-style security on movie theatres (which will keep me away from the movies), why aren’t we exploring more effective gun laws? I assume LaPierre and his minions are meeting today over at their world headquarters outside of DC planning their next set of tactics to keep assault weapons in the hands of moose hunters and to promote automatic weapons and machine guns for target shooting.

Keep an eye on the TV news… the NRA will be showing up soon.

Want to know where the NRA stands on shooting people like Trayvon Martin?

National Rifle Association

National Rifle Association – Our Great Protector 😦

In 2005, the NRA pushed it’s Florida members to vote to support the “Stand Your Ground” law. Now, when we’ve seen what that law can cause in the Trayvon Martin case, the National Rifle Association is now offering legal insurance for Stand Your Ground Shooters.

The insurance  covers policy holders’ costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in “self-defense.” It is formally endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members  (added as a rider to the “excess personal liability” plan.)

Here’s how the website advertises the added coverage for self-defense (emphasis in the original):

What’s Covered:

• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.

Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.

Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.

And what does it cost? The basic liability plan costs either $47 or $67 annually, for coverage up to $100,000 or $250,000, respectively… PLUS a policy holder can add the self-defense insurance by paying $118 or $165 for the lesser coverage, or between $187 and $254 for the larger plan.The coverage amount stays the same.

I agree with ThinkProgress.org that Matt Bors summed it up better than anyone:

As usual, America is so lucky to have the NRA looking after our right to bear (and use) arms.

A statement on the increased problem with guns…

Educator John Merrow in the HuffPo commented on the causes of increased gun deaths in schools as they relate to the availability of weapons to children:

The NRA‘s mantra, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” is nonsense. People with access to guns kill people. The autobiography of charismatic educator Geoffrey Canada describes in vivid detail how things have changed. In fact, his brilliant title says it all: Fist Stick Knife Gun.

When I was a kid, we wrestled and maybe threw some punches when we were out of control mad. Today, we shoot someone.

The NRA does NOT represent a majority of gun owners, yet they have intimidated politicians to stand in television focus supporting this right-wing radical group (look at Romney and other Republicans.)

It’s not certain if we will ever do something about the situation unless citizens speak up with their complaints and their votes.

Newt to NRA: Right to Bear Arms is a Human Right

Here’s why Newt isn’t going to get any farther (from the Newt Gingrich 2012 campaign site):

Appearing before the National Rifle Association annual meeting this afternoon, Newt Gingrich called for a new United Nations treaty that would give the right to bear arms to every person on the planet.  This proposed treaty would counter the United Nations Small Arms Treaty currently supported by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

After Gingrich’s speech concluded, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox came out on stage and said “The Gingrich Treaty…I like that.”

The Daily Beast noted that Newt’s reception from the crowd of 5,000 people was more enthusiastic than Governor Romney’s.

Somewhere along the line, folks are going to imagine a Newt Presidency and see themselves dead in their living rooms. Just think if every man, woman and child worldwide were armed!

Give a thought to what it would do to our legal system (of course, given the current Supreme Court, it might not make any difference.)

Bang bang Maxwell’s silver hammer…etc.

Quote to End the Week – We are doing a Bang (Bang) Up Job

This sums up where we seem to be heading:

The Florida “Stand Your Ground”/License to murder law is just lynching with a bullet – along with a get out of jail free card.

At a gun range courting the NRA vote in Louisiana, Rick Santorum took a couple of shots as a supporter shouted “pretend it [the target] is Obama.”

“Shoot to Kill” may soon be replacing “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States.

-Mark Karlin, Editor for BUZZFLASH

…and I remember when it was e pluribus unum.

This is not the first time that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has caused unnecessary death..

Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s lack of prosecution for the shooting is taking up much of our news. This is not, however, the only case of horrible death attributed to the Stand Your Ground law (which, by the way, was heavily promoted by the NRA to get passed… you know… the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” guys). Here is another one:

From KSDK, Gannett Channel 5, St Louis:

Valrico, FL (CNN/WFLA/WTFS/WTSP) – Outrage over last month’s shooting death of an unarmed teen in Florida has put a new focus on the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The widow of a man shot dead in front of his daughter, says it is a free pass for murder.

When David James, an Iraq War veteran, escaped combat in the Middle East unscathed, his wife Kanina breathed a sigh of relief.

“I would worry about him but I thought he’d be safe here,” she said.

Kanina was wrong; and now wants to know why Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old retired bus driver, shot her husband in broad daylight, right front of their eight-year-old daughter. Dooley claims it was self defense. Kanina James calls it murder.

“What person brings a gun to a park when there’s children? I mean, he killed my husband. He could’ve just talked to him,” James said.

Whether or not Trevor Dooley fired in self-defense is at the heart of this case. Also central to the story is Dooley’s defense-Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law-which allows a person to stand their ground and use deadly force if they fear someone could seriously harm them.

Here’s what witnesses said happened on that September Sunday in 2010. Forty-one-year-old David James was playing basketball with his daughter when witnesses said Dooley, who lived right across the street, started yelling at a teenager who was skateboarding, to get off the court. That’s when witnesses said James intervened.

James yelled back to Dooley, asking him to show where any sign said no skateboarding. Dooley then crossed the street to the park to confront James.

A tennis player at the park, Michael Whitt, testified things turned ugly when Dooley reached for his waistband. Whitt said James then lunged at Dooley. The two men struggled on the ground before James was shot once through the heart. On the 911 call, Whitt is heard trying to help.

Dooley tells a different story; one that contradicts witness statements. Dooley told authorities when he took the gun out of his right front pocket James saw the weapon and knocked him to the ground. At a hearing to get the charges dismissed, Dooley testified, “he was choking me to death.”

Dooley’s lawyer said his client turned to walk away towards home and that James was the aggressor. He said Dooley did show a gun, but did not use it until he felt his life was threatened. He said charges against his client should be dropped given the Stand Your Ground law.

Kanina James said her husband of 13 years had never been aggressive, that he was a gentle family man. She believes he was trying to protect himself and their daughter, Danielle, after he saw Dooley pull a gun.

“He loved Danielle so much, that breaks my heart, that Trevor Dooley took my daughter’s best friend away from her; she’ll never have her daddy,” Kanina James said.

Danielle’s testimony about how and why the situation turned violent is key in a case that hinges on self-defense. Danielle, now 10, recalled how her father asked Dooley where the signs were that said “no skateboarding” on the court.

“My dad got on top of him, so he could keep him down so he could get the answer,” the young girl said.

“Where were your dad’s hands?” prosecutors asked.

“On his arms.”

“On the man’s arms?”

“Yeah,” she said.

Danielle then recalled her father’s last moments.

“I think the guy pulled out the gun then,” she said.

“Did you hear anything?” said prosecutors.

“Yeah.”

“What did you hear?”

“Like when it shot?” Danielle said.

“You heard a gunshot,” said prosecutors.

“Yeah.

“Did your dad say anything then?”

“Yeah.”

“What did he say?” said prosecutors.

“Call the ambulance, I have been shot,” she said.

When Kanina James arrived at the scene, her husband was already dead and her daughter was crying, asking, “Why isn’t anyone helping my daddy?”

OK. Now you should know that other states have similar laws. Perhaps yours does?

Perhaps you should look into it.

Separating Politics From Guns…

We need to separate politics from guns, and by that I mean we have to deal with the NRA lobby. I am judging editorial cartoons for this weekend’s “Cartoon(s) of the Week”, a regular feature on this blog, and I am struck by how many of them deal with gun laws and the NRA. Maybe the tragedy at Tucson will get us into a good gun/politics discussion.

And we have a way to go… think of these statements from politicians in the past months:

If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.”Sharron Angle

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous…“  – Rep. Michelle Bachmann

“Get on target for victory in November.  Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office.  Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse KellyJesse Kelly campaign ad

“Don’t retreat– reload.” Sarah Palin

I am convinced the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”  –Joyce Kaufmann, former chief of staff for Rep. Allen West

If we’re “armed and dangerous” and seeking “Second Amendment remedies” then other events that become tragedies are bound to happen.

When you look at Cartoon(s) of the Week” on Saturday (or later), please think of ways we can lower the dependence on guns which has built up over the years.

More on the deadly Glock…

This from Salon:

The high-capacity magazine of the semiautomatic pistol used in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen other people on Saturday would have been illegal to manufacture and difficult to purchase under the Clinton-era assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. According to police and media reports, the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, legally purchased a semiautomatic Glock 19 with a high-capacity magazine in November at a gun store in Tucson. Under the assault weapons ban, it was illegal to manufacture or sell new high-capacity magazines, defined as those that hold more than 10 rounds. The magazines used by Loughner had 31 rounds each, according to police.

If Loughner had been using a traditional magazine, “it would have drastically reduced the number of shots he got off before he had to pause, unload and reload — and he could have been stopped,” Daniel Vice, senior attorney at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells Salon.

Between 1994 and 2004 when the assault weapons ban was in effect, gun manufacturers such as Glock could not market handguns with high-capacity magazines. If the ban were still in effect, it’s less likely that Loughner could have obtained a gun with a high-capacity magazine. Stores could legally only sell used high-capacity magazines at that time, and new magazines could not be manufactured.

President Bush backed the ban, and an amendment to extend it passed in the Senate in 2004 but was never voted on by the House.

So part of the responsibility for the size of this tragedy can be laid at the feet of the House of Representatives. Probably wanted to make sure that the NRA wouldn’t come afterthem at election time.

Obama said in his Inaugural Address that he wanted this ban reinstated… but hasn’t brought it forward yet.