(You know how blogs now offer up “related posts”? Here’s a related post.)
Next time you listen to a newscast – a purportedly straight newscast reported-on by Steve Cichon or Dave Debo, or anchored by John Zach and Susan Rose – remember that this banner is now hanging in that station’s newsroom:
That’s after the station spent all day last Thursday “covering” this anti-gun rally in Albany, joining with Carl Paladino to sponsor a bus caravan of WBEN listeners to the rally.
The funny thing is that protests in Albany are a dime a dozen, and the only novelty about this one is that it was populated by underemployed conservatives who are not used to activism that goes beyond stating their name and location for a call screener.
WBEN’s blatant anti-SAFE Act propaganda and agitation are all well and good, I suppose, but the station should no longer masquerade as a straight news outlet. It has crossed the line into issue-based PAC and should register with the Board of Elections. Thursday’s newscast and subsequent talk shows were nothing more than an infomercial for people who think that limiting magazine capacity from 10 to 7 rounds is “tyranny”.
David Wheeler, father of 6 year-old Sandy Hook victim Benjamin Wheeler:
We lost our son, Benjamin, the morning of December 14 to an unstable, suicidal individual who had access to a weapon that has no place in a home.”
Right now, professionals in every area pertaining to this crime, from mental health to parenting to school safety, are unable to connect the necessary dots to prevent this from happening again.”
A far more comprehensive system of identifying and monitoring individuals with mental distress is required and needs to be implemented. That a person with these problems could live in a home where he had access to among the most powerful firearms available to nonmilitary personnel is unacceptable.”
It doesn’t matter to whom these weapons were registered. It doesn’t matter if they were purchased legally. What matters is that it was far too easy for another mentally unbalanced suicidal person who had violent obsessions to have easy access to unreasonably powerful weapons.”
The inability of agencies to share information regarding at-risk individuals’ mental states, personal histories, proximity to firearms – this contributed to the senseless murder of my six-year old son, 19 other children, and seven adults. This is where you must focus your efforts…
…Thomas Jefferson described our inalienable rights as life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness – the rights with which we are endowed, for the protection of which we have instituted governments. I do not think the composition of that foundational phrase was an accident. I do not think the order of those important words was haphazard or casual. The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine, and keep them in their home, is SECOND to the right of my son to his life – his LIFE; to the right to live of all of those children and those teachers, to the right to the lives of your children, of you, of all of us – all of our lives – it is second. Let’s honor the founding documents and get our priorities straight. Thank you.”
Here’s how yesterday went.
1. A survivalist in Alabama shot and killed a school bus driver, kidnapped an autistic 6 year-old boy, and absconded with him to his homemade bunker, where a standoff continues. He committed the murder and kidnapped the boy in order to “air his grievances.” Neighbors told reporters that he was a strange person who seemed ready to snap at any time. No word on whether gun enthusiasts in Alabama have come out in support of a comprehensive public mental health scheme yet. I’m sure there will be a well-attended and angry meeting in a suburban library to demand better mental health and improved background checks, right? Or is this just another episode where a well-regulated militiaman liberated a tyrannic bus driver from his life, and protected a 6 year-old boy from the tyranny of his home.
2. While former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords dramatically addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee as a spokesperson for reasonable gun control measures, a workplace shooting took place in Phoenix, AZ.
Arizona and Alabama have comparatively no gun control whatsoever, and are theoretically populated by “good guys” who are armed to the teeth. It is that possibility of any prospective victim being armed that is supposed to deter crime, say gun control opponents.
4. 91% of NRA members agree that the mentally ill should not be allowed to buy or own guns – I’d like to meet the 9% who think it’s ok. Yet when asked yesterday about background checks, NRA spokeszombie Wayne LaPierre suggested that, because we aren’t prosecuting people who try to buy guns despite being denied due to a bad background check, we should dispense with them altogether. The logic here is non-existent, and it underscores the fact that, in the end, the NRA is just a shill for the gun manufacturers. This is all too reminiscent of past hearings where tobacco company executives rejected science which showed that smoking is a major form of cancer and other diseases.
5. Another responsible gun owner/patriot bravely defended his liberty against the tyranny of a person whose GPS got him lost.
Rodrigo Diaz, 22, was driving around with his girlfriend and two friends when he pulled into a driveway, thinking they had arrived at another friend’s house, his brother says. But instead he pulled into the driveway of Phillip Sailors, 69, who thought his home was being robbed, his lawyer says. Sailors then shot Diaz, according to the police report, citing what Sailors told officers at the scene. Diaz later died after surgery.
“Basically, what happened is they were looking for one of my brother’s girlfriend’s friends,” says his brother David E. Diaz-Valencia, 23. “The guy came outside and my brother’s girlfriend said he was screaming, ‘Get off my property!’ and he shot into the air. My brother was backing out fast because he was scared and he rolled down the window to say he was sorry and he was not doing anything wrong. Then the guy shot him in his head.”
6. Yesterday, it was announced that the economy unexpectedly shrunk by .1% in the 4th quarter of 2012. At first blush, this is bad news, but if you look at the data, the reason for the contraction has to do with a 22% drop in defense spending. Imagine that – reduced government spending in the economy has the ability to contract the economy; government spending has the ability to grow the economy. People who oppose the economic stimulus and Keynesian economics, however, usually dummy up when it comes to military Keynesianism.
Paired with evidence of how the austerity imposed by Cameron’s Tories in the UK is leading to a triple-dip recession, while stimulus spending in the US has managed to help keep the economy moving quite well.
Maybe that Krugman guy knows what he’s talking about.
When you get gun owners angry about the coming confiscation and equate it with the holocaust, you get ugly scenes like the one yesterday at the Clarence library. One presenter relates that they were there to show a Powerpoint to educate people about the NY SAFE Act, and instead of taking a few minutes and some questions, they were continually heckled and yelled at; the “meeting” took 3 hours, with people in camouflage taking over the podium at times, claiming that this was about “Nazis” starting a “new holocaust”.
The “responsible gun owners” aren’t comporting themselves very responsibly.
Tyranny is defined generally as oppressive, absolute power vested in a single ruler. The United States cannot, by definition, be tyrannical because it is a representative democracy where you have the right to overthrow any person or party every two, four, or six years – depending on the office. Your recourse is political action and being enfranchised to vote, organize, and petition.
When the 2nd Amendment was drafted, the United States did not have a standing army – because of our experience with our British oppressors, America was decidedly hostile to the idea of a standing army. As a result, our new nation depended on amateur on-call militias; Switzerland still uses this model wherein only 5% of its military is made up of professionals, while the militia and reserves are made up of able-bodied men aged 19 up to their 30s and 40s. Because these people are members of a reserve militia, they keep and own their own military equipment. 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.
But we long ago reconfigured our domestic military structure to switch from state-based reserve militias into a professional national military. To the extent the old state militias exist, they’re made up of the various National Guards. We don’t call upon average citizens to keep arms to fight off the Indians or the British; we have the Pentagon.
If you look at the two recent Supreme Court cases which held that the “well-regulated militia” language, which was so carefully inserted into the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, doesn’t really mean anything. Astonishing, that, but little can be done about it. In DC v. Heller , the Court affirmed an individual right to possess a firearm without respect to whether the bearer is a militia member, and that these arms can only be possessed for lawful purposes, such as self-defense.
Heller also confirmed that your 2nd Amendment rights are not absolute or unlimited. Concealed weapons can be banned by states, you can limit their possession by felons and the mentally ill, and you can ban carrying a weapon in certain areas and regulate the sale of weapons. Particularly dangerous and unusual weapons can also be regulated or banned. Although Heller applied only to federal districts, a subsequent case – McDonald v. Chicago – held that the 14th Amendment ensures that the 2nd Amendment and its jurisprudence also apply to state action.
Because handguns aren’t unusual, and the petitioner in Heller intended to keep a handgun in his home for personal protection, his use was lawful and DC was ordered to issue him a permit, and could not require him to keep the gun essentially unusable while being kept.
Nothing that happened yesterday in Albany is violative of the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment is silent on the number of rounds a clip can hold, and bans on certain types of weapons have been consistently upheld. If you have to re-register to drive a car every few years, you can re-register to own a gun. How do we monitor felonies or mental illness with lifetime permitting?
But I want to pivot back to something – tyranny. How many people have you heard in the past month since the Sandy Hook massacre explain that assault weapons and other militaria must be legal because we have some sort of right to fight tyranny. How many people have suggested to you, with an astonishing ignorance of history of propriety, that, e.g., German Jews could have halted the Holocaust if only they had been armed.
Make no mistake, notwithstanding Jefferson’s tree of liberty, there is no law, statute, or Constitutional provision that exists in this country to allow someone to fight domestic “tyranny”. What these people are saying is that they detest the government – especially Obama’s government, because he is Kenyan or an usurper or a Nazi or a communist or a “king” or maybe just because he’s brown-skinned. At which point do we determine as a society when we have made the flip to “tyranny”? Who is the arbiter of “tyranny”? At which point do we determine that all of our anti-treason statutes and the constitutional provision found in Article III, section 3 of the Constitution can be set aside because of “tyranny”?
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.
You have no right to possess militaria to fend off “tyranny”. If you think you do, show me the statute or law that says so. Show me the statute or law that repeals our anti-treason legislation. It doesn’t exist.
If New York wants to ban assault weapons or clips holding more than 10 bullets, it can. If you don’t like it, get your tea party buddies together and elect a legislature in Albany that will repeal it. But there’s not a thing in the world that suggests that you can, if you don’t like it, take up arms against Albany or Washington. That would be a crime. If you try it and you’re armed, law enforcement won’t like that. Not at all.
Yesterday, in something of a whirlwind session of the oft-feckless New York State legislature, Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed to the key provisions of what is called the “NY SAFE” act, or “Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement” Act. It passed the state senate late Monday, and will be taken up by the Assembly today.
The law will do the following:
– limit gun magazines to hold a maximum of 7 bullets;
– universal background checks for every single gun transfer, including private ones that are person-to-person; and
– a “Webster provision” mandating life without parole for anyone who murders a first responder.
Here’s what at least one 2nd Amendment purist had to say about it on Twitter:
Goodbye, Second Amendment.m.usatoday.com/article/news/1…
— Kathryn DeLong (@kathryndelong) January 14, 2013
The second amendment. The one that helps enshrine perpetual violence and revolution. Its purpose – clearly stated – was to make sure that our new country, which at the time had no standing army, could protect itself from attacks by Britons, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and whatever Indian tribe or nation from which we were trying wrest control of land.
You want a gun for hunting? Target practice? Skeet? To ward off robbers or burglars? That’s fine. You don’t, however, get to keep a military arsenal.
Those on the deepest fringes of the right wing – the people who think lunatic Alex Jones is an influential and sane voice about guns – love to bring up the notion that the 2nd Amendment exists to protect you from “tyranny”. No one gets too worked up trying to define what “tyranny” is, or who gets to decide when “tyranny” becomes a clear and present danger. This crowd loves to cite the Declaration of Independence – a document that was a declaration of war against a monarch who brutally exploited his American colonies. The Declaration, however, ceased to have any legal effect the moment that Britain lost the war and recognized American Independence.
So, no, proud patriot, you don’t have a right to take up arms against the government. Indeed, Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution makes that sort of thing a very serious crime.
One more gun control effort, one more gun fetishist makes some broken, semi-informed analogy about how if the Jews were armed in the 30s, they could have somehow halted their own genocide in the face of a German war machine. One more gun debate, one more person suggesting that our representative democracy – flawed though it might be – is or could oh-so-easily-be the equivalent of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. One more effort to limit the firepower we so casually make available to lunatics, one more person expressing their idiot fever-dream of single-handedly taking on the FBI or One World Government or ZOG, notwithstanding the fact that the government could – if it wanted to – easily take out your entire neighborhood with an unmanned drone operated by a teenager nursing a Monster Energy Drink in a dank, smelly basement in Northern Virginia.
One more gun fetishist, one more clumsy analogy made to some other object with a large capacity or capability of doing harm that we are allowed to own, but the primary purpose for which is not “putting holes in things at breakneck speed”. Gas tanks, fast cars, pencils.
And what of tyranny? We’ve had plenty of tyranny in this country, but when the Black Panthers agitated for blacks to arm themselves during the civil rights struggles of the 60s, the NRA was happy to support the Mulford Act, which limited the Panthers’ ability to carry arms and inform black citizens of their Constitutional rights. The NRA supports your right to bear arms, so long as you’re of European descent and not too uppity.
Some have taken to social media to criticize the limit on magazines. I don’t understand why it’s ok for someone to have a semiautomatic pistol that can fire 7 bullets in 7 seconds and extinguish 7 lives in that period of time, but I suppose it’s exponentially better than the 33-round clip that Gabby Giffords’ would-be assassin had in his possession. He was subdued only as he tried to reload; by that time, six people had been killed.
I get that violence is an integral part of American society and history. But I also recognize that you don’t get to own an F-15 or a nuclear missile just because it makes you feel safe or helps you ward off “tyranny”.
I know that the rhetoric on this issue is going to get much worse before it gets any better. After all, we have a Kenyan communist President, against whom any facile lie is routinely thrown. I also think that insane lunatics shouldn’t have access to military weapons and equipment; shouldn’t be able to waltz around your town with enough firepower to put 11 holes in a first grader. Shouldn’t be able to get so many rounds off in so little time that the first grader’s jaw and hand are disappeared.
If you like guns, good for you. If you’re a Glenn Beck / Alex Jones type, I sincerely hope that you get Galt’s Gulch going – that you divest yourself completely from American society and go off and start your post-hippie, penis envy-laden republic of gunnutistan – a place that is not on American soil and is free from American law and jurisdiction, so you can carry out your secessionist fever dreams away from us normal people.
Because our easy access to guns and our gun culture make our society a particularly violent one; not video games or TV shows – those are safe avenues of expressing the reality of warfare. We love war and conflict. We can’t get enough of it. Somehow, other societies are able to function without it.
New York is going to limit your ability to transfer your guns to the angry and insane, and it’s going to make you have to reload more frequently while you’re shooting up your neighborhood or a schoolroom. This isn’t the end of the 2nd Amendment – it’s a first step to protecting those of us who don’t run around living in perpetual fear, armed to the teeth.
A few things I found online in the last few days:
1. Remember a few weeks ago, when NRA CEO and infamous goon Wayne LaPierre blamed everything but guns on the massacre of teachers and first graders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT? LaPierre didn’t just stumble on being a hateful lunatic – this is something that is apparently part of his job qualifications. Back in 1995, after the Oklahoma City bombing perpetrated by WNY native Timothy McVeigh, LaPierre said things so horrible and conscious-shocking that former President George H.W. Bush publicly rebuked him and resigned his NRA membership. Bush wrote,
I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” wanting to “attack law abiding citizens” is a vicious slander on good people.
Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country — and serve it well he did.
In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.
We can have a debate and discussion about guns, gun rights, and limitations on both – but calling people Nazis isn’t part of it.
2. When it came to slavery, Thomas Jefferson was kind of a jerk. He was kind to some (especially if there were rapes to be had), and particularly cruel to others. He was happy to take out mortgages against his slaves, to have them flogged, and even refused to carry out a request contained in Polish General Kosciusco’s will, wherein money was set aside for Jefferson to buy out and free his slaves.
The critical turning point in Jefferson’s thinking may well have come in 1792. As Jefferson was counting up the agricultural profits and losses of his plantation in a letter to President Washington that year, it occurred to him that there was a phenomenon he had perceived at Monticello but never actually measured. He proceeded to calculate it in a barely legible, scribbled note in the middle of a page, enclosed in brackets. What Jefferson set out clearly for the first time was that he was making a 4 percent profit every year on the birth of black children. The enslaved were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. Jefferson wrote, “I allow nothing for losses by death, but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four per cent. per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers.” His plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. The percentage was predictable.
In another communication from the early 1790s, Jefferson takes the 4 percent formula further and quite bluntly advances the notion that slavery presented an investment strategy for the future. He writes that an acquaintance who had suffered financial reverses “should have been invested in negroes.” He advises that if the friend’s family had any cash left, “every farthing of it [should be] laid out in land and negroes, which besides a present support bring a silent profit of from 5. to 10. per cent in
this country by the increase in their value.”
The irony is that Jefferson sent his 4 percent formula to George Washington, who freed his slaves, precisely because slavery had made human beings into money, like “Cattle in the market,” and this disgusted him. Yet Jefferson was right, prescient, about the investment value of slaves. A startling statistic emerged in the 1970s, when economists taking a hardheaded look at slavery found that on the eve of the Civil War, enslaved black people, in the aggregate, formed the second most valuable capital asset in the United States. David Brion Davis sums up their findings: “In 1860, the value of Southern slaves was about three times the amount invested in manufacturing or railroads nationwide.” The only asset more valuable than the black people was the land itself. The formula Jefferson had stumbled upon became the engine not only of Monticello but of the entire slaveholding South and the Northern industries, shippers, banks, insurers and investors who weighed risk against returns and bet on slavery. The words Jefferson used—“their increase”—became magic words.
Jefferson’s 4 percent theorem threatens the comforting notion that he had no real awareness of what he was doing, that he was “stuck” with or “trapped” in slavery, an obsolete, unprofitable, burdensome legacy. The date of Jefferson’s calculation aligns with the waning of his emancipationist fervor. Jefferson began to back away from antislavery just around the time he computed the silent profit of the “peculiar institution.”
And this world was crueler than we have been led to believe. A letter has recently come to light describing how Monticello’s young black boys, “the small ones,” age 10, 11 or 12, were whipped to get them to work in Jefferson’s nail factory, whose profits paid the mansion’s grocery bills.
Much of the information in this Smithsonian story has been carefully excised from our Jefferson hagiography because 150 years later, we still can’t come to terms as a country with our history of slavery and racial animus and discrimination.
3. Just because you employ someone doesn’t mean you have the right to inject your own opinions on their healthcare decisions. Hobby Lobby, which has two outlets in western New York, has gone to the Supreme Court to seek injunctive relief so that it would not have to provide health insurance coverage for contraception for its employees under Obamacare. Why their employees’ sex lives are any of Hobby Lobby’s business is a mystery for sure, but Obamacare doesn’t force Hobby Lobby to hand out the morning after pill with every paycheck – it merely requires the health insurers to offer contraceptive coverage. Aside from the fact that the employees affected work for Hobby Lobby, the company has no further mandate set upon it. If it doesn’t agree with contraception, it is free to hold that belief, but should not be free to impose it on its employees, or to have its employees’ rights become less than those of workers elsewhere. Justice Sotomayor rejected Hobby Lobby’s request for injunctive relief. As a shopper for crafty things and toys for grownups, you may choose to use this information to direct your hobby dollars accordingly.
Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com
Posting has been light because everything comes across as somewhat insignificant lately. David Bellavia is filling in for Sandy Beach on WBEN this week, and he had me on for two segments to talk about guns, mental health, assault weapons, and Newtown. Bellavia is about as conservative as anyone can get, and we disagree about almost everything – but he is rational, and willing to engage in a discussion. This is a good thing.
I saw another WBEN host asked his listeners why they own guns. One of the popular answers was, “because it’s my right”. Well, you also have a right to free press, but you don’t write for a newspaper, much less own one. You also have a right to freely exercise your religion, but fewer and fewer people do so, much less lead a parish. You have a right to freely assemble and to petition your government, yet people are woefully disconnected from government lately.
It also didn’t go unnoticed that people’s attention spans quickly pivoted from what happened in Newtown to the revised terms of service for a cost-free social photo sharing mobile application. Way to keep your eyes on the ball, America.
My friend Brendan Burke posted this to his Facebook timeline a few days ago, and I’ll leave it here. I think there’s a lot of truth in it.
This is a public service announcement for anybody who is paranoid about their right to bear arms being taken away as a result of strict regulation. Especially to those from the “from my cold dead hands” camp: Your country has already been taken, my friends. Bank of America, Citi, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Walmart, McDonalds, Exxon. You do not own anything. You lease or rent, you live in hock, your police are militarized, your children are filled with fear and mistrust. You can not fly without taking your shoes off, and then get banged out financially for a carry on bag. Your jobs are outsourced, your wages are stagnant and in many cases dwindling as the cost of living rises, your unions are shot, your healthcare is crushing you with debt, your school is crushing you with debt. You have ZERO ownership of your everyday lives and as a result, have less freedom today than you’ve ever known. Your evil government doesn’t need guns to defeat you, and your guns are no match for the pervasive and poisonous effect that Wall Street has on your congress.
You have lost your country, precisely because you thought your gun was protecting you and your family. You will never win a pitched battle against what the military industrial complex (that you pay into) can deliver in 3 minutes right to your home. In my opinion, its time to use that great big beautiful mind that has been afforded to you by living in such a provident country and dream all night and day of ways to strategically take it back from Wall Street and those moneyed lobbies that infiltrate congress and those whom you elect to “lead” you.