Is it time yet?

October 2, 2015

Another massacre on a school campus, this time in Oregon. On average, more than 10,000 Americans are killed every year by gun violence.

The solution to enacting some 21st century rules and regulations around firearms is really very simple; the barriers to attaining rational and appropriate rules and regulations which reflect the realities of life in our current world seem to be insurmountable; but they really are not.

The NRA is the elephant in the room. With a base of about 6 Million members (about 2% of the U.S. population) they are wearing a mighty big hat, but they really don’t have many cattle.

Yet, anytime there has been even a whisper regarding legislative restrictions on ammunition — even bulk sales of armor-piercing ammunition to casual civilian buyers — the NRA has mobilized their base to scream about 2nd Amendment rights!

The same is true about restrictions on the types of arms which are appropriate for people to own and use, for legitimate and reasonable purposes.

The ‘poster child’ for these 2 issues centers on the NYS SAFE Act, which was passed by the NYS Legislature in January 2013 following the unspeakable massacre in Sandy Hook (CT) in December 2012.

Where a majority of New Yorkers — rational and responsible firearm owners and users included — find no problems with the NYS SAFE Act (yes, there were some early glitches which were quickly fixed), there continues to be a vocal contingent of ideological zealots who cling to the thread of some inaccurate information they received about the 2nd Amendment.

The greatest obstacle we face in reforming gun laws in the U.S. is the NRA. They are well-funded by interested parties; they have developed an effective lobbying effort; and they know when and how to ‘juice the system’ to make their position both well-known and well-loved.

Where the NRA {closely aligned with Gun Owners of America} presents a loud and singular voice of renegades and gun rights advocates, the rest of the population has elected to form their own organizations — hundreds of groups with similar, but slightly different mission statements — thus wasting resources and diluting the message.

If only the silent majority could figure out where to invest some money and/or other resources to help enable the gun control movement to score a victory against the ‘2nd Amendment fantasizers’ I think most of us would write the check today.

Unfortunately, until the gun control people sit down and find common ground, and agree to speak with a singular voice, the NRA and their lobbyists will continue to dominate the national stage.

For those who are able to consider new or different perspectives, you may find this analysis helpful: http://www.vox.com/2015/10/1/9437187/obama-guns-terrorism-deaths

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Second Amendment Rights

June 19, 2015

2015. What a year! And, it’s not even half over!

It’s bad enough that we’ve had a recent series of dreadful outcomes which have involved black men and white cops; now, we have the case of a deranged young white male who has easy access to a firearm, and kills 9 people in a Church.

The NRA is all stoked up about “2nd Amendment Rights” and “watch out for Obama, he is coming to take away your home protection.”

I’ve read – and re-read – the Second Amendment, looking for a reference to modern, semi-automatic firearms; high-capacity magazines; armor-piercing rounds; concealed carry; open carry; background checks; etc.

I keep getting stuck on the phrase, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms…”

I keep wondering what were those folks thinking, back in the day? Why did they omit the phrase, “when serving in the Militia”?

Maybe they thought the concept was so obvious that to state such would be redundant?

In several decisions relating to the 2nd Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that, ‘Prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons, or on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, and laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings or imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms are specifically identified as permissible regulations’.

Not long after he retired from his service as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1969-1986), Warren Burger appeared on “The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour,” (1991) and stated — relative to the Second Amendment — that it “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

All across Upstate New York State are lawn signs urging repeal of the NY SAFE Act.
Why? If anything, the NY SAFE Act didn’t go far enough.

I just can’t imagine any logical reason why gun ownership across the U.S. shouldn’t be coupled to (1) training and certification, and (2) physical and psychological testing and accreditation.

Following the Sandy Hook massacre in late 2012, there were a number of groups — led by parents of young victims — who promised that they would work collaboratively to promote a national dialogue on gun violence, mental health and school safety — with a promise of “real change.”

The parents and their supporters have been out-spent and “out-gunned” by special interests, most notably the NRA.

Where some of us thought, ‘the Sandy Hook massacre will be the turning point toward sweeping gun control reform’ — it clearly wasn’t.

Yet, soon — very soon — one of these recurring tragedies will become the turning point, the moment when the 146 Million registered voters in the U.S. say to the +/- 4 Million members of the NRA: Enough is enough.

Let’s stop this silly 2nd Amendment charade, and enact real, national 21st Century rules which create a good balance between responsible gun ownership and the senseless tragedies we’ve witnessed over the past several decades.

It’s time to act. Enough is enough.

Let’s pull the curtain back on Wayne LaPierre and his evil charade.

Open Carry in 2014

June 2, 2014

Despite the overwhelming evidence that America has way too many folks walking around who just aren’t wrapped quite tight, we continue to have a small – but very vocal! – Minority who feel compelled to push the envelope on Open Carry.

I am really OK with Wayne LaPierre and his colleagues at the NRA conviction that America is better off when “…law abiding citizens like you and me” have the unfettered right to own and possess firearms “to protect themselves and their loved ones in the face of criminal violence.”

Where I must draw the line is:  How can we ensure that gun ownership and possession is vested only to those law-abiding citizens like you and me?

My personal theory is that anyone who wants to “open carry” in urban or suburban America might possibly have some serious mental health issues.

Subsequently, I believe there ought to be a law that requires a thorough psychological and critical thinking evaluation for individuals who wish to Open Carry, in addition to some sort of written and basic marksmanship competency exam.

We have an outstanding model:  The U.S. Army’s Basic Combat Training course which they use to qualify soldiers for Open Carry.

Once a non-military (a.k.a. ‘non militia’) individual has been certified through successful completion of this 10 week course, there ought to be a regular re-certification required – say every 6 months, or so.

The NRA and Open Carry supporters focus on our Second Amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) to support their position(s).

Thus, it ought not be an issue for those who wish to keep and bear Arms to conform with our 21st Century societal mores and show the rest of us that they possess the mental and physical qualifications which the great majority of Americans seem to favor for those who possess deadly weapons.

A recent (informal) poll of Americans revealed that just 22% of respondents owned a gun.  White people came out on top, with 25% saying that they own a gun. Just 17% of African Americans and 10% of Hispanics answered that they personally own a firearm.

By income, the highest percentages of gun owners make more than $80,000 per year; 33% of Republicans, 22% of Independents, and 16% of Democrats self-report as gun owners.

Most telling:  56% of households reported no gun ownership.

Clearly, we have an opportunity to re-evaluate the concept of gun ownership in America, and to try and understand why there are so many weapons in the possession of criminals and gang-bangers despite the political pressure from the NRA on the rights of law-abiding citizens.  I am a law abiding citizen.  I don’t currently own a gun.  I would really prefer that none of the criminals or gang-bangers in my vicinity have a gun, either.

I had to pass a test to obtain a license to drive a car.  Then, they forced me to take another test to drive a motorcycle!  And, every year, I have to prove I have insurance, the vehicle has been inspected and then I get to pay a registration fee.

Meanwhile, I can walk into any Walmart, pay a few hundred dollars and walk out with a lethal weapon?

No test, no registration, no insurance required?  Doesn’t quite seem right to me….

Today the US Senate sent us a clear and plain reminder that our society lacks critical thinking skills, and that few are really engaged in civil discourse.

What troubles me most – as a dues paying member of the NRA – is that Wayne LaPierre – who apparently found a convenient way to avoid military service when his number was called – is busy manufacturing incendiary stories about ‘big brother’ and attacks on ‘Second Amendment Rights’.

Wayne is playing into a base of folks who didn’t do so well in school and may not really understand or appreciate what our forefathers were thinking back in 1791 when they proposed the Second Amendment.

If Wayne would just take the time to read the Second Amendment, he would likely learn that our Second Amendment – when it was adopted in 1791 – preceded the invention of: the electric light; the automobile; the internet; and the modern firearm.

That’s right. In 1791, the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ referred to single shot, black powder firearms.

If the NRA spokespeople and their posse want to preserve the rights granted under the Second Amendment, then I say: “Single shot, black powder!”

Rhetoric and debate: Over!

Second Amendment Rights

April 10, 2013

I found this in my SPAM folder today:
=============================================
Please find an important message from Senator Mitch McConnell below:

Dear Friend,

Thank you for joining me in defending our right to bear arms. Right now, President Obama’s allies in the anti-gun lobby are doing everything in their power to take away our Second Amendment rights.

The right to protect our family and ourselves from whatever threats we may encounter is precious, and we must defend it from Washington liberals.

They want to prevent law-abiding Americans from possessing a firearm while making it easier for criminals to use one against us.

As the Republican Leader in the Senate, I am working with fellow conservatives to fight back on the left’s attacks but I need your help to do so. If you believe that our Second Amendment rights are worth fighting for, will you please donate $5 to our cause?

The Second Amendment ended the “gun debate,” and it’s time for Democrats to understand that. Make no mistake about it; the far-left are using their allies in the Senate, the media, and White House to work to limit your ability to own a firearm.

Gun owners and Second Amendment supporters have been called “stupid” by Piers Morgan, and “heartless mother*****” by Jim Carrey. This vitriol from the left must be combated.

For Freedom,

Mitch McConnell
=================================================

Vitriol? How about Incendiary? The blatant lies about “… taking away Second Amendment rights” really need to stop. I haven’t seen any evidence of anyone messing with Second Amendment rights.

I’m an NRA member; I enjoy target shooting. But, until December 14, 2012, I didn’t know what an AR-15 rifle was. I assumed a rifle which looked like that was a military weapon. I was amazed to learn that this AR-15 was readily available in sporting goods stores, and had become popular among some residents in the Northeast, even across the U.S.

Curious, so I signed into YouTube, typed AR-15 into the search box, and it returned 7.6 Million hits!

I clicked onto a few of the video links, and it opened up a whole new world for me!

Can you imagine a young person who likes to play violent video games – say, Resident Evil 4 – clicking onto this YouTube video?

This is hunting? Home protection? Target shooting?

Second Amendment rights?

Let’s be honest with each other if we ever expect to have a reasonable and rational resolution to this debate…..

The Second Amendment

January 23, 2013

It is true: The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is part of our U.S. Bill of Rights.

Historians tell us that our Second Amendment was adopted in December 1791 along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.

The text of the Second Amendment is very simple: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

It is so simple that it has caused 200+ years of discussion, debate and diatribe.

It is widely accepted that our Second Amendment was informed by the English Bill of Rights (1689).

Each seems to illuminate and continue an existing right at the time they were adopted.

The English Bill of Rights is slightly more expansive and specific than our Second Amendment.

One phrase from England jumps out as they describe a definition of “Arms”: “…That the Subjects …may have Arms for their Defence (sic) suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.”

Our friends from across the pond may have been prescient.

However, it is unlikely they knew back in the 17th Century that the category of Arms would expand in the future to include: Gatling Guns; Machine Guns; Nuclear Arms; Howitzers; Bazookas; Anti-Tank and Anti-Aircraft guns; Sawed-off shotguns; Military Assault Weapons; and Semi-Automatic Hand Guns.

It would seem that in their effort to be brief and succinct, our U.S. Fore Fathers may have sold us short.

Now, let the Walrus be first to acknowledge: We do have rules and laws in the U.S. which generally prohibit ownership of some of these categories by people for home defense, target shooting and hunting.– including Nuclear Arms, Howitzers and Bazookas.

In 2013, those of us who feel the need to keep and bear arms are currently limited by some regulations on the types of arms which we are able to own, possess and use.

New York State recently passed some regulations which limit possession, ownership and use of certain semi-automatic rifles and high capacity magazines.

The hue and cry from the margin is huge. What has been categorized as “passionate opposition” to defining which weapons and accessories are inappropriate appears to be emotionally informed.

In a January 16, 2013 poll by Sienna College, banning assault weapons and magazine clips of more than seven bullets in NYS was supported by a margin of 73% to 26%.

Did NYS Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature violate the purpose and intent of our Second Amendment?

More on: Gun Control

January 14, 2013

I’m a New York State resident, and I’ve been following the recent activities of our legislators in Albany.

I applaud the bi-partisan work of the members of our New York State Assembly; the members of our New York State Senate; and NYD Governor Andrew Cuomo, to act swiftly and deliberately to negotiate and pass comprehensive gun control legislation in January 2013.

Assault weapons have no place in civilian hands in a civilized society. High capacity magazines are a necessary evil for law-enforcement and military purposes; they have no place in any civilian application.

No different than ownership and/or operation of a motor vehicle; possession, ownership and/or operation of a firearm should be predicated by background and identity checks; testing; registration and licensing; plus proof of liability insurance.

The frequently heard argument that the Second Amendment guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” is an emotionally charged and incomplete line of reasoning.

There is nothing stated or implied in the Second Amendment which tells us possession, ownership and or use of firearms should be unfettered and outside the purview of laws and regulations carefully designed to protect the interests of the greater public good.

It is unfortunate that the immediate reaction to any talk of ‘gun control’ emanates from (often overzealous) Second Amendment advocates.

The basis of our Second Amendment — which was adopted in 1791 — likely had very clear and relevant context to the 18th century, and to the events which preceded the Revolutionary War.

Now, more than 2 centuries later, it would seem to be helpful to have a rational, detached and thoughtful public discourse to include all facets of a 21st century centric debate on firearms and what makes the most sense for the majority of our fellow citizens today.

I have not met or communicated with any balanced and rational individuals who want to deprive any responsible American adult of their right to own and use firearms.

Nor, have I met or communicated with any balanced and rational individuals who want to deprive any responsible American adult of their right to own and operate motor vehicles.

It seems that through careful analysis and regulation, we have been relatively successful keeping unqualified and/or irresponsible individuals from operating motor vehicles.

I wonder: Why would any responsible and/or qualified American adult believe that we couldn’t accomplish the same outcomes with firearms?

Most gun crimes in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley involve weapons illegally brought into our state. Do we want to continue the illegal trafficking of guns into New York?

History tells us that — in 1791 — gang violence, assault weapons and drug trafficking had not yet been invented. Multi-shot hand guns did not appear until the early 19th century, and did not become commercially viable until 1856 when Smith and Wesson produced the first cartridge revolver.

Laws and regulations developed and designed around the technology, society and economy of the 18th century no doubt have some validity for our current society, yet may need to be carefully examined to see how and where some ‘tweaks’ might make them more relevant for today.

Thank you to Governor Cuomo and our New York State Legislators for taking some bold first steps to bring our state gun laws into compliance with the Information Age. There is more to be done, but you have accomplished some solid reform in January 2013.

Bravo!