A Mitch McConnell scout on patrol

Mitch McConnell is no stranger to massacres involving semi-automatic assault weapons.

In 1989, a workplace massacre in downtown Louisville took the lives of eight and wounded 12 using an AK-47, and it remains the deadliest mass shooting in Kentucky history.  McConnell, well into his first term as a U.S. Senator from Kentucky, said he was “deeply disturbed,” declaring, “We must take action to stop such vicious crimes.” And he added: “We need to be careful about legislating in the middle of a crisis.” And in the days and weeks after, he did not join others in calling for a ban on assault weapons like the AK-47 used by the shooter.

Following the Sandy Hook massacre of 2012, the Obama White House embarked on a robust policy response.  McConnell — then the Senate minority leader — vigorously downplayed that effort.

Fact is:  McConnell has never wavered on his absolute objection to any sort of gun control legislation.

On the day after the Uvalde elementary school massacre, Senate minority leader McConnell took to the Senate floor to declare himself and the nation “sickened and outraged by the senseless evil” that left at least 19 students and two teachers “innocent young lives murdered for no apparent reason at all.”

No mention of guns or any potential legislation, just the statement, ‘Words simply fail.’

After tasking Sen. John Cornyn (R, TX) to negotiate with Democrats on potential legislative actions to stop the epidemic of gun violence in America, McConnell went on the record stating, “Background checks and ‘red flags’ will probably lead the discussion — those are for sure two items that will be front and center.”

What?  No mention of high-velocity high-capacity semi-automatic military style weapons?  No mention of high-capacity magazines which allow the shooter to mimic a machine gun?  No discussion about military style ammunition which launches at 3,000 + feet per second, and has the likelihood to fragment and/or expand to create an exit wound the size of an orange?

What?  No mention of studies on human brain development which have proved that female brain development occurs at a more rapid pace than males of a similar age? The frontal cortex — the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act — develops later in males than in females.  The majority of research tells us that females tend to reach maturity toward the end of adolescence; where in males, the frontal cortex is still changing and maturing well into adulthood.

We know that: (1) Over 85% of U.S. homicides are committed by males; (2) Male brain development is delayed to early adulthood; and (3) The vast majority of mass homicides in the U.S. over the past decade have been committed by American males under 25 using a military-style assault weapon with high-capacity magazine(s).

Yet, McConnell stays focused.  “We have a Second Amendment to the Constitution. We take it seriously. There’s the right to keep and bear arms in this country,” McConnell said.  “And so what I’ve done is encourage some bipartisan discussions that are going on. In fact, I just had a call with one of the members of it to see if we can find a way forward consistent with the Second Amendment that targets the problem.”

And another McConnell soundbite: “I am hopeful that we could come up with a bipartisan solution that’s directly related to the facts of this awful massacre. I’m going to keep in touch with them, and hopefully we can get an outcome that can actually pass and become law rather than just scoring points back and forth.”

Translation:  McConnell will encourage and support activities related to school security and mental health, but don’t expect him to ever say “gun”. Mitch may be the very best Silver Tongued Orator we will ever encounter live and in person.

As a nation, we have everything to lose – and nothing to gain – by refusing to face the facts we have at hand, and to engage in proper research to help guide our future policy.

The causes of gun violence

In 1996, under extraordinary pressure from the NRA and other pro-gun rights factions, Congress essentially shut down support for CDC-supported-research into the causes of gun violence.

Why is this important?

The commonly accepted proactive method to solve difficult problems is known as “Root Cause Analysis”.

It relies on a rigorous independent methodology to identify the Root Cause of an intractable situation, zeroing in on the primary factor which is the foundational cause of the dilemma.

Removing the Root Cause of a problem prevents the problem from recurring.  Removing a causal factor (one that may affect an event’s problematic outcome) certainly can improve an outcome, but it does not prevent its recurrence with certainty.

More than 2 decades after the Congressional ban on gun violence research, the paucity of research leaves some of our elected officials and media pundits to conjecture that ‘violent video games’, ‘mental illness and hatred’, ‘soft targets’, ‘multiple doors’, and plenty of other ingredients contribute toward increasing occurrences of domestic gun violence events.

A surprising number of elected officials have emerged and coalesced, seemingly unable or unwilling to consider that access to military-style weapons could be the Root Cause of our gun violence problem.

Instead, we read or hear assertions that… ‘mental illness is the trigger; it’s not the gun’.

Research provides fact-based evidence.

There is no research which supports any notions that video games, mental illness, weak doors or racism play a primary role in domestic gun violence incidents.

Despite the arbitrary Congressional moratorium on public funding toward the causes of gun violence, we have seen some compelling research from small private colleges and universities.

One research paper from an independent private college published in 2015 asserted that, “Men commit over 85% of all homicides, 91% of all same-sex homicides and 97% of all same-sex homicides in which the victim and killer aren’t related to each other.”

Many studies on human brain development have provided a rich array of data which strongly supports the fact that female brain development occurs at a more rapid pace than males of a similar age.

Specifically, the frontal cortex — the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act — develops later in males than in females.  The majority of research tells us that females tend to reach maturity toward the end of adolescence; where in males, the frontal cortex is still changing and maturing well into adulthood.

We know that:                                   

(1) Over 85% of U.S. homicides are committed by males;

(2) Significant scientific research supports the theory that male brain development is delayed to early adulthood; and

(3) The vast majority of mass homicides in the U.S. over the past decade have been committed by American males under 25 using a military-style assault weapon with high-capacity magazine(s).

Based on what we know, should we conclude that eliminating the availability of firearms, accessories and ammunition which are derived from and/or modelled on military grade assault weapons will reduce — and eventually eliminate — young American males from obtaining and/or using these deadly weapons?

Lacking any specific research, what should we do right now to put a halt to these massacres?

Institute an immediate ban on the production, sale or civilian possession of military-style assault weapons, military-style ammunition and high-capacity magazines in the U.S.

Removing assault weapons from civilian access on a temporary – say 10 year — timeframe will provide a window of opportunity to conduct meaningful contemporary research.

Is there a precedent to this “call to action” at the federal level?

Yes, there is.  The Public Safety Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (1994) prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons” as well as “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” — defined as “any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device” which had “the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition”. That legislation passed in September 1994 with a sunset provision for the assault weapon ban section. The law expired on September 13, 2004, and nothing has occurred at the federal level over the past 2 decades to reign in the proliferation of civilian ownership of assault weapons, military grade ammunition and high-capacity magazines.

And, it seems perfectly clear — even without any research — that AR-15-style weapons have no place in a civil society, except perhaps for military and limited law enforcement use.

Let me be very clear: I am a gun owner, a member of the N.R.A. and a supporter of the Second Amendment.

I recently wrote an impassioned letter to Senator Marco Rubio imploring him to support a permanent ban on military-style assault weapons, similar to the (now-expired) Federal Assault Weapons Ban which outlawed manufacture of AR-15 and other assault-style weapons for civilian use.

My research confirms a strong and direct correlation which connects a small number of domestic males under age 25 with AR-15-style weapons and military-grade ammunition to mass shootings across the U.S. The massacres in Uvalde; Buffalo; Sandy Hook; Aurora; Boulder; Parkland; Las Vegas; San Bernardino; Sutherland Springs; Nashville; Midland–Odessa; Poway; and the Tree of Life Synagogue each support the hypothesis.

Sen. Marco Rubio holds an A-plus rating from the NRA and has received at least $3.3 Million of NRA campaign money, thus I thought it might be an uphill battle trying to engage Marco Rubio in an honest debate regarding the probability that AR-15 style weapons might be a root cause of the U.S. epidemic of gun violence.

Instead of responding to my observations which are directly and irrefutably confirmed by exhaustive research (including my own), Sen. Rubio went right down the NRA rabbit hole.

Sen. Rubio said to me, “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

His entire reply to me is attached.

I’m not right off the turnip truck, yet I remain flummoxed, baffled and bewildered that we continue to support and elect cyborgs like Marco Rubio hoping for rational and productive governance of our nation.

In addition to having a single point of entry guarded by multiple armed police officers, or if need be, military veterans, and a mandate that schools install bulletproof and locking doors to each classroom, recruiting and training responsible middle and high school students is the next logical step.

Deploying highly trained and armed middle and high school students, fully prepared for combat situations, into every school in America will put an immediate stop to the terrible events we’ve witnessed over the past decade, or so.

Never forget: “A well trained Student Militia, being necessary to the security of our public Schools, the right of the middle and high school students to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A public service announcement brought to you by The Ted Cruz Academy of School Safety

Dozens of polls and studies reveal general agreement among American adults which favors sensible gun control reform legislation, incorporating a variety of strategies such as:  (a) increased funding for mental health services; (b) universal background checks; (c) a national ‘red flag’ law; (d) training and/or licensing requirements; (e) more consistent rules across state lines.

Each and all of these would likely contribute toward reducing senseless gun violence. Yet, the Root Cause of our present dilemma seems to center around one specific type of firearm, often called “AR-15 style”.

These are high-capacity military-style weapons which can be fired semi-automatically and/or have the capability of being easily transformed into a rapid fire weapon. There is no legitimate purpose for these weapons in a civil society, and the ultimate goal to remove this Root Cause from the equation ought to be a total and complete ban on the civilian purchase, sale or possession of such weapons.

The next critical variable is ammunition. There is no logical or defensible reason to support civilian sale, possession or use of military grade ammunition categorized as: hollow point; full metal jacket; armor piercing; green tip; black tip; or any other sort of ammo which is not used by regular gun owners for target shooting or which is appropriate for legitimate hunting purposes.

As painful as it might seem to Wayne LaPierre, Jason Ouimet and others at the NRA, these AR-15 style weapons and military grade ammunition seem to continually and disproportionally fall into the hands of a few people who have really bad agendas.

If we eliminate the very weapons and ammunition which seem to attract the interest of folks with bad agendas, we will be making some real progress.

Please listen carefully, NRA.

The great majority of us don’t want to take guns away from our neighbors; we don’t harbor animosity toward responsible gun owners; and we often are gun owners and NRA members ourselves.

We do believe there is a balance – a sensible equilibrium — which respects, supports and honors the American tradition for people to keep and bear arms in a manner consistent with a civilized 21st century society.  

Let’s work together to find that balance.

A timeless and highly polarized topic….

The AR-15 was designed by ArmaLite in 1957 in response to a request from the U.S. Army to develop a rifle with “high-velocity; full- and semi-auto fire; 20 shot magazine; 6-lbs loaded; able to penetrate both sides of a standard Army helmet at 500 meters”.

When it entered Army service in the 1960s, it was named the “M16”. When the semi-automatic version of the rifle was later introduced by ArmaLite to the civilian market, it was known as the “AR-15”.

From 1994 to 2004, AR-15-style rifles were subject to (the now-expired) Federal Assault Weapons Ban which outlawed manufacture of these and other assault-style weapons for civilian use.

Following the expiration of the Ban, AR-15-style weapons attained great popularity in the U.S. They have been used in countless mass shootings across the U.S. (including: Buffalo; Sandy Hook; Aurora; Boulder; Parkland; Las Vegas; San Bernardino; Sutherland Springs; Nashville; Midland–Odessa; Poway; and the Tree of Life Synagogue.

I wonder if the epidemic of mass shootings in the U.S. could be directly correlated to the extreme popularity of this weapon?

Meanwhile, most independent firearm experts don’t consider the AR-15 (or its clones) to be a good choice for either hunting or home-defense uses.

One reason is that its standard .223 caliber ammunition doesn’t offer much stopping power for anything other than small game. It is a very high velocity cartridge (muzzle velocity > 3,000 fps). When combined with the capacity to fire up to 45 rounds per minute, the AR becomes extremely dangerous to bystanders in home defense situations due to over-penetration and random ‘spray’.

Many hunters find the rifle controversial, arguing that AR-15-style rifles encourage a “spray and pray” technique which is contrary to best practices.

One way to reduce over-penetration and improve stopping power is to use hollow point or soft point ammunition; some opt for the more controversial ‘green tip’ rounds vs. the standard full metal jacket rounds.

One hunter, a former soldier himself, said it well, “I served in the military and the M-16 was the weapon I used. It was designed as an assault weapon, plain and simple. A hunter doesn’t need a semi-automatic rifle to hunt. If he says he does, he sucks as a marksman, and should go play video games. During hunting season, you can see more men running around the bush all cammo’d up with assault vests and face paint with tricked out AR’s. These are not hunters but wannabe weekend warriors.”

The folks in Ukraine are fighting for their very existence against an outside enemy that wants to destroy them and their entire country. Here at home, we experienced another mass shooting at an elementary school, this time in Texas (5/24/22). The solutions to put a halt to these senseless massacres — primarily orchestrated by young domestic terrorists — are well-known.

But, instead of fixing critical domestic problems, a rather sizable number of our U.S. elected officials prefer to focus their time and effort on banning books; legislating elementary school curriculum and content; and punishing those who don’t agree with them.

It’s very sad, indeed.

Fact-based Research?

August 8, 2019

When I was in school, there was zero tolerance for opinion-based research.

You either backed up your work with validated facts from reliable sources, or you didn’t pass the class.

In 1996, under extraordinary pressure from the NRA and other pro-gun rights factions, Congress essentially shut down support for CDC-supported-research into the causes of gun violence.

Why is this important?

The commonly accepted proactive method to solve difficult problems is known as “Root Cause Analysis”.  It relies on a rigorous independent methodology to identify the Root Cause of an intractable situation; that is, zeroing in on the primary factor that is the foundational cause of the dilemma.

Removing the Root Cause of a problem prevents the problem from recurring.  Removing a causal factor (one that may affect an event’s problematic outcome) certainly can improve an outcome, but it does not prevent its recurrence with certainty.

More than 2 decades after the Congressional ban on gun violence research, the paucity of research leaves some of our elected officials and media pundits to conjecture that ‘violent video games’, ‘mental illness and hatred’, ‘soft targets’ and plenty of other ingredients contribute toward increasing occurrences of domestic gun violence events.

A surprising number of elected officials have recently emerged, seemingly unable or unwilling to consider that access to military-style weapons could be the Root Cause of our gun violence problem.

Instead, we read or hear assertions that…‘racism, bigotry and white supremacy is the trigger. It’s not the gun’.

Research provides fact-based evidence.

There is no research which supports any notions that video games, mental illness or racism play a primary role in domestic gun violence incidents.

Despite the arbitrary Congressional moratorium on public funding toward the causes of gun violence, we have seen some compelling research from small private colleges and universities.

One research paper from an independent private college published in 2015 asserted that, “Men commit over 85% of all homicides, 91% of all same-sex homicides and 97% of all same-sex homicides in which the victim and killer aren’t related to each other.”

Many studies on human brain development have provided a rich array of data which strongly supports the fact that female brain development occurs at a more rapid pace than males of a similar age.

Specifically, the frontal cortex — the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act — develops later in males than in females.  The majority of research tells us that females tend to reach maturity toward the end of adolescence; where in males, the frontal cortex is still changing and maturing well into adulthood.

If we know that:

(1) Over 85% of U.S. homicides are committed by males;

(2) Significant scientific research supports the theory that male brain development is delayed to early adulthood;

(3) The vast majority of mass homicides in the U.S. over the past decade have been committed by American males under 30 using a military-style assault weapon with high-capacity magazine(s);

Lacking any specific research, what should we do right now to put a halt to these massacres?

Institute an immediate ban on the production, sale or civilian possession of military-style assault weapons, military-style ammunition and high-capacity magazines in the U.S.

AR-15 (AK-47, and similar weapons) have no place in a civil society, except perhaps for military and limited law enforcement use.

Removing assault weapons from civilian access on a temporary – say 5 year time-frame – will provide a window of opportunity to conduct meaningful contemporary research.

Is there a precedent to this “call to action” at the federal level?

Yes, there is.  The Public Safety Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (1994) prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons” as well as “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” — defined as “any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device” which had “the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition”.

That legislation passed in September 1994 with a sunset provision for the assault weapon ban section. The law expired on September 13, 2004, and nothing has occurred at the federal level over the past 15 years to reign in the proliferation of civilian ownership of assault weapons, military grade ammunition and high capacity magazines.

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As a nation, we have everything to lose – and nothing to gain – by refusing to face the facts we have at hand, and to engage in proper research to help guide our future policy.

Today’s massacre in El Paso contains some common elements to dozens of similar occurrences.

Who are these killers?

The statistics tell us that they are most likely to be U.S. born while males, generally under 30 years of age.

A number of studies have shown that the male brain reaches maturity significantly later than females. The key brain region believed to be primarily responsible for reasoning and helping us to ‘think before we act’ is the pre-frontal cortex, which develops later in males, and is generally still changing and maturing well into adulthood.

What sort of weapons do these mass killers prefer?

Military-style assault weapons with high-capacity magazines.

What should we do right now to put a halt to these massacres?

Institute an immediate ban on the production, sale or civilian possession of military-style assault weapons in the U.S.

AR-15 (AK-47 and similar weapons) have no place in a civil society, except perhaps for military and limited law enforcement use.

Is there a precedent to this “call to action” at the federal level?

Yes, there is.  The Public Safety Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (1994) prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons” as well as “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” — defined as “any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device” which had “the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition”.

That legislation passed in September 1994 with a sunset provision for the assault weapon ban section. The law expired on September 13, 2004, and nothing has occurred at the federal level over the past 15 years to reign in the proliferation of civilian ownership of assault weapons, military grade ammunition and high capacity magazines.

I refuse to stand by and wait for someone to go hunting with an AR-15 at the school which my grandchildren attend, at the mall where my family shops, or at the house of worship in my neighborhood.

Please join me:  Step up and demand common sense gun regulations from your elected officials.

Now!

Build The Wall?

January 23, 2019

Ever ready to incite a riot and to encourage acts of violence, President Trump recently tweeted, “Four people in Nevada viciously robbed and killed by an illegal immigrant who should not have been in our Country… We need a powerful Wall!”

[Background:  Wilbur Martinez-Guzman, 19, has been jailed in Carson City, Nevada since January 19 on an immigration violation. Federal immigration authorities said that Guzman entered the U.S. illegally from El Salvador. Guzman is a prime suspect in 3 home invasion burglaries in Nevada over a 6 day period during which four people were shot and killed.]

No, Mr. President.  We probably don’t need a Wall.  Certainly not because of this particular case.

What we need is elected officials who consistently adhere to the highest standards of mature, honest and responsible leadership.

And, we need our elected officials to separate day-to-day federal government operations from capital projects.

We need immediate restoration of funding for the day-to-day operations in all sectors of our federal government, at the same time putting debate and deliberations over capital projects into the traditional federal budget process.

Another branch of our armed forces?

I just can’t imagine an Industrial Engineer who would look at the current structure of the Pentagon and the U.S. military and not conclude that we have an extraordinarily inefficient approach to defense.

Air, land and sea.  Sounds good, right?

Except that we have 5 branches which overlap, compete with each other directly and indirectly, and don’t always communicate well.

Now, the Master Obfuscator and Distracter-in-Chief wants to start a 6th branch!

I can only conclude that The Donald is running wild trying to divert attention away from some of his self-created demons: Immigration; His war on Canada; His new love affair with Kim Jong Un; A ‘tax reform’ plan which will leave America bankrupt; The deterioration and ultimate disintegration of the American health care system; The ‘Russia thing’; Cyber security intrusions and risks across the entire U.S. public and private sector; Rapidly deteriorating physical infrastructure across the U.S.; Escalating gun violence, the NRA and 21st century gun control; Mueller and his ‘Russian Witch Hunt Hoax’; Stormy Daniels; and Dozens of other critical issues which need to be addressed in an honest, responsible and strategic fashion.

Donald J. Trump has the attention span of a gnat, the moral turpitude of a ‘made man’ and the integrity of a Carnival Barker.  Despite that, he is our POTUS, and he continues to dash along his path toward fooling many of the people most of the time.