Regarding the "2nd Amendment protects us from tyranny" argument: Let's think about the so-called Patriot Act. That law isn't some right-wing paranoid fantasy about "Obama will take our guns!" or black helicopters or blue-helmeted UN troops putting us in concentration camps. That law is a REAL infringement on our liberties. Under the still-in-effect Patriot Act, the fed. govt. can, at any time and without having to provide any reason, cry "National Security!" and arrest us without warrant or charges, imprison us indefinitely, hold us incommunicado, deny us legal representation, search our homes, persons, cars, papers, email, phone records, snail mail, etc. in secret and without a warrant, take away our right to Habeas Corpus (the right to go before a judge to contest our imprisonment), send us to foreign nations for "interrogation" by the authorities of said foreign nation (read "torture"), and a host of other liberty-destroying provisions too numerous to list here.
Where was the NRA while the Patriot Act was being passed? Where are they now while it's still in effect?
Most importantly, why didn't our right to bear arms protect us from this drastic, powerful, and seemingly permanent destruction of many of our Constitutional liberties??
Look, if gun owners really and truly want to protect our liberties, they should put down their guns and get politically active. Guns did not protect us and would not have protected us from the Patriot Act. Only active engagement in our political system would have or could still save us from the Patriot Act and/or other infringements of our liberties.
P.S. Forgot to add, I'm a gun owner. But I try (in my very small and limited way) to protect liberty not by carrying my gun everywhere but by being actively engaged in the political process.
We'd add only one other thought for now: Where does the 2nd Amendment, or any other, afford anybody the "civil liberty" of buying and purchasing as many semi-assault rifles, boxes of ammo and high-capacity magazines as they want without restriction or regulation? We can't seem to find that in our copy of the U.S. Constitution and, though we've asked, no one has yet identified for us where that "liberty" is enumerated.
That said, Heller's point above is probably far more important.
NYU media critic and professor Jay Rosen cut to the chase in his tweet: "Exact quote just now from the NRA press conference. 'This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won't be taking any questions.'"
The only thing that might have made the NRA's post-Newtown "major press conference" this morning --- during which they had promised earlier this week to unveil their "meaningful contributions to help make sure" a mass shooting like the one at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, one week ago today, "never happens again" --- would have been if someone had actually opened fire there.
"To be fair to the NRA," observed Media Matters' Jamison Foser, "YOU try to hold a press conference that doesn’t coincide with a gun killing in America. It ain’t easy."
All the while, LaPierre was instructing the gathered media today that the problems we are facing, the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence, is due to video games, the news media, lack of armed security guards at elementary schools, mental illness, and even Barack Obama. It has, apparently, nothing whatsoever to do with guns in any way, shape or form, if LaPierre's 24 minutes of prepared remarks (full video below) are any indication.
"THIS is the mighty NRA? The group that supposedly rules all of Washington, DC? THESE nut jobs??" quipped Media Matters' Eric Boehlert, adding a few minutes later: "If nut job LaPierre held a 'press conference' every Fri, sweeping gun control would be passed by February"...
[Update: During a disastrous post-Newtown press conference this morning in D.C., exactly one week after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the NRA's CEO and Executive Vice President (and chief liar) Wayne LaPierre said: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." More on that presser now here, but the following article, published prior to the NRA debacle today, goes a long way towards pre-bunking LaPierre's main contention.]
There have been a lot of absurd claims by the folks scammed by the NRA racket into believing that nothing can be done to decrease gun violence following last week's horrific mass shooting in Newtown, CT.
(Our personal favorite was the one that failed the quickest: The claim that the stabbing of 20 school children in China on the very same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre proves that putting responsible limitations on gun and high-capacity magazine ownership won't help stop these types of tragedies. The reason that response failed so quickly? The wingnuts using it apparently failed to read the actual China story to learn that none of the children there were actually killed in that attack.)
The excuse for taking no action in the wake of Newtown which has had the longest shelf life to date, seems to be the notion that if only someone in the school --- or in the movie theater, or in the shopping mall, or in the Sikh temple, etc. --- had been armed, the tragedy would have been averted.
If more law abiding responsible people had concealed carry permits and were able and willing to use their firearms when necessary, how many of you anti-gun nuts really believe he would have gotten off more than one or two shots in a school?
Setting aside his obvious strawman --- folks like us are no more "anti-gun nuts" than the vast majority of NRA members (if not their con-man leadership) who agree we should have increased gun safety regulations --- JPack80's thin argument, and the millions of other wingnuts making the same weak case, is quickly debunked by a few fairly easy to understand points. (There are many more, but we'll stick to two for the moment, since some folks making this case may have trouble counting higher than that.)
First, how many shots did the Fort Hood shooter get off when he opened fire --- killing 13 and wounding 29 others --- in the middle of a U.S. Army base, filled with people carrying loaded weapons and many more with easy access to them? (Answer: About 200 rounds, which also included shoot-outs with two armed officers, the first of which was hit three times before she went down. But, see update below for additional thoughts on this.)
It is also true that both Columbine and Virginia Tech had armed security officers on campus, as little good as that did anybody, during the mass shootings there. Let's also not forget the trained New York City police who attempted to stop a gunman at the Empire State Building over the summer. They ended up shooting nine (9) innocent bystanders in the bargain.
But the more damning response to the foolish point that "more people with guns are the best way to stop mass shootings" is found in this 2009 ABC video showing how people with guns, and training, actually react when confronted by something like a sudden, surprise shooting. Watch the results of the experiment --- using some folks with relatively little gun training as well as some who are trained marksmen --- to see how well that whole "if only someone was armed during these shootings they could have stopped the shooter!" argument holds up...
So, what's your next, dumb, non-solution for these problems, wingnuts?
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UPDATE: Several commenters written to take issue with our description of the Fort Hood shootings having taken place "in the middle of a U.S. Army base, filled with people carrying loaded weapons and many more with easy access to them"...
On today's The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio here in Los Angeles, we dealt with, what, if anything, will now be done in the wake of the latest mass shootings in Newtown, CT, and if the lies and propaganda and bullying of the NRA will finally be overcome --- or not.
Desi Doyen joins us for a brief history of how the NRA changed in 1977 from a 100-year old gun safety organization, to a Republican political operation, as well as for the latest Green News Report.
Plus, we got to a lot of phone callers with opinions on all of this, including an NRA member who says he'll be quitting the group; an NRA instructor who says we're absolutely right about what the NRA has become; a caller disagrees that any more gun laws are needed, because it would "allow the wolf in the door", or some such; and even a surprise call from our pal, the great progressive trouble-maker Cliff Schecter. Enjoy!
We're busy with today's BradCast on KPFK, so, until later, here are a few items that may, or may not, matter to you this afternoon...
• President Obama names Vice-President Biden to head up a task force to work on new gun safety regulations to be submitted to him by January. Press conference transcript here.
• Supreme Court rulings on what gun control measures are allowed by the 2nd Amendment are actually quite narrow and leave a lot of room for further interpretation and rulings. Here's a quick legal analysis of where the court seems to stand at the moment.
• 3 State Dept. officials resign after a report on Benghazi attack finds "grossly inadequate" security measures at the U.S. consulate on the night Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed last September 11th. "We did conclude that certain State Department bureau-level senior officials in critical positions of authority and responsibility in Washington demonstrated a lack of leadership and management ability," said report panelist Adm. Mike Mullen. In response, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton accepted all 29 of the panel's recommendations, while nursing her reported recent concussion that has, to date, kept her from testifying to Congress on the matter.
• Something or other occurred today in regards to the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations, but we couldn't care less what it was. At this point, after Sandy Hook, the "fiscal cliff" stupidity feels a whole lot like the "Summer of Sharks" did, in retrospect, after 9/11. Of course, after Obama's prepared remarks at his presser on guns today, the D.C. press wanted to ask him, almost exclusively, about "fiscal cliff" bullshit. Same as it ever was.
The statement notes the group will hold a news conference this Friday, December 21 --- the Friday before Christmas --- which Washington Post's Greg Sargent aptly describes as "the ultimate Friday news dump."
Here's their complete statement today...
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UPDATE 12/21/12: The NRA held it's "major news conference" today, announcing their "major contributions". It didn't go well...
"If we're going to get past this almost hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked on Friday during her breaking coverage of the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, "if we're going to try to puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is absolutely, politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen if we just started at the edges?"
"What would happen if we just started with what even members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want a hell of a lot more than we've got right now," she correctly noted. "The organization that they're a member of may not admit that, but when you poll their members, even they want improvements."
She is absolutely right. And so is the rank and file membership of the National Rifle Association when it comes to many of the most pressing gun safety issues. The numbers (read on) are unequivocal. They want what their leadership does not, and by huge margins. The con-men and scam-artists who run the terrorist-enabling NRA racket, on the other hand, as usual, are absolutely bloody wrong.
If we could reform gun safety laws just enough in this country to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the NRA membership, we would be leaps and bounds beyond the deadly political quagmire we have been languishing in as a nation --- thanks to the insidious liars and profiteers of the NRA leadership and the cowardly politicians afraid to take them on --- for at least a decade in this country.
The NRA's loudest and most dishonest voice is its Executive VP and chief political strategist Wayne LaPierre. He is opposed to any and all legislation that might stand a chance of making Americans safer, claiming a twisted and tortured view of the Bill of Right's 2nd Amendment as a prohibition against any and all such legislation...
The conservative Republican and former U.S. Congressman from Florida turned MSNBC morning show anchor Joe Scarborough offered a powerful response this morning to the tragic mass shooting which killed 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, CT last Friday.
The often glib Scarborough who says he "received the NRA's highest ratings over four terms in Congress," took a very serious and non-ideological turn at the top of today's Morning Joe program on MSNBC. During his prepared remarks he cited the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school as a "true landmark" which, he said, forced him to spend "the past few days grasping for solutions and struggling for answers, while daring to question my long held beliefs on these subjects."
"Every American must know," he said, "from this day forward, that nothing can ever be the same again."
With an eye towards what he described as "entrenched special interests [who] will try to muddy the issues," he implored that "Politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo. They must instead be forced to protect our children."
"The violence we see spreading from shopping malls in Oregon, to movie theaters in Colorado, to college campuses in Virginia, to elementary schools in Connecticut, is being spawned by the toxic brew of a violent pop culture, a growing mental health crisis and the proliferation of combat-styled guns."
"The cause of these sickening mass shootings," he explained, "is no longer a mystery to common-sense Americans."
Speaking from his former perspective as a powerful Washington D.C. insider during his days in the U.S. House, Scarborough went on to say: "I am a conservative Republican who received the NRA's highest ratings over 4 terms in Congress. I saw the debate over guns as a powerful, symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control. In the years after Waco and Ruby Ridge, the symbolism of that debate seemed even more powerful to my colleagues and me."
"But the symbols of that ideological struggle have since been shattered by the harvest sown from violent, mind-numbing video games and gruesome Hollywood movies that dangerously desensitizes those who struggle with mental health challenges. Add military-styled weapons and high capacity magazines to that equation and tragedy can never be too far behind."
"Friday changed everything," he continued. "It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington's old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. ... Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want."
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The complete video of Scarborough's 12/17/2012 remarks on MSNBC's Morning Joe is at the top of this article, the full text transcript follows below...
"Imagine if somebody suggested we shouldn't discuss terrorism after 9/11 or fire safety after Triangle Shirtwaist or lifeboats after Titanic," George W. Bush's not-insane former speechwriter, David Frum tweeted on Saturday, before adding satirically: "1502 people have DROWNED! This is no time to insult their memory by asking why there weren't enough lifeboats to save them."
Not to pile on... but it's time to pile on. In just one recent 24-hour period in America:
And that's just a few of them. Moreover, as Brad Friedman highlighted in memoriam, from Eric Boehlert's tweet Sunday morning: "And yes, in the 48 hrs since the Newtown shooting, more than 160 Americans have died from gun fire; 300+ have been injured."
Those same apologists tell us that any discussion of policy changes that might prevent innocent children and unarmed civilians from being slaughtered must be postponed to some later date that never actually arrives.
Other wealthy nations have developed different gun policies that have drastically reduced gun violence in their countries while still allowing law-abiding private citizens to own firearms. For example, Australia passed strict gun control and access laws in 1996, after 13 mass shootings in 18 years. How many mass shootings have there been in Australia since the new laws passed? Zero. Could we gain insight from gun policies instituted by other governments? Perhaps --- but here in America, land of free speech and home of the brave, we are told we can't discuss it now...
"Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."
- Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind
In "High Cost of Willfully Misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment" we touched upon the price the American people have paid in lives, injuries and grief, as measured against the extraordinary profits of U.S. small arms manufacturers whose domestic sales of increasingly sophisticated weapons, including the AR-15 and AK-47 styled assault rifles, similar to the one used in the mass shooting in Newton, CT last Friday, climbed to 14 million guns in 2009 alone --- greater than the total number possessed by 21 of the world's standing armies combined.
As the nation reels in the wake of the latest horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it seems a worthwhile task to take a quick look at a partial history of mass shooting events in the U.S., starting with the 1966 University of Texas massacre so that we can take stock of what our nation's strange fascination with guns and ammo has truly wrought --- with increasing frequency since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004...
• Whodathunkit? But questions arise about the legitimacy of the claims made by Fox' latest wannabe James O'Keefe, about that video purporting to show an "unprovoked attack" by "union thugs" outside the capital building in Lansing, MI this week. The most amazing part? Someone at The New York Times --- yes, thatNew York Times --- is one of those actually noticing the big honkin' edit in the middle of the video, rather than just reporting it all as unquestioned fact.
• Eric Holder spoke about the need to protect voting rights at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We have more than a few bones to pick about it, but we'll just point you to the actual speech for the moment.
• Finally, for now, the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, the new theatrical film about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, reportedly glorifies the torture that led to his capture and killing, even though no torture whatsoever actually led to his capture and killing.
Very big news just out today for fans of the U.S. Constitution and equal protection under the law --- both conservative values, upheld by conservative Republican judge after conservative Republican judge across the country over recent years --- which we here at The BRAD BLOG strongly support.
And, once again, before sharing the news, our caveat to those who are against all of the above, a reminder that no matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issues surrounding marriage equality, it will never be mandatory that you get gay married...
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take its first serious look at the issue of gay marriage, granting review of California's ban on same-sex marriage and of a federal law that defines marriage as only the legal union of a man and a woman.
At the very least, the court will look at this question: When states choose to permit the marriages of same-sex couples, can the federal government refuse to recognize their validity? But by also taking up the California case, the court could get to the more fundamental question of whether the states must permit marriages by gay people in the first place.
The California case involves a challenge to Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment approved by 52 percent of voters in 2008. It banned same-sex marriages in the state and went into effect after 18,000 couples were legally married earlier that year.
A federal judge declared the ban unconstitutional, and a federal appeals court upheld that ruling, though on narrower grounds that apply only to California. Now that the Supreme Court is wading into the battle, the justices could decide the more basic issue of whether any state can ban same-sex marriage under the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the law. Or they could limit their ruling to apply only to the ban in California.
While we've been watching the situation, and talking about it on radio over the past week, here at The BRAD BLOG we've yet to have time to cover what's going on in Arizona --- most acutely in Maricopa County (Phoenix) --- where some half a million ballots remain untallied a week after the election when many Hispanic voters who thought they were registered to vote, were directed to cast a provisional ballot instead...for some reason.
Under Arizona law, those voters have until Wednesday to show up to the County Clerk's office with ID to prove they are who they said they were when they cast their ballots last week. The approximately 486,405 uncounted ballots across the state include 307,620 early ballots and 178,785 provisionals. That's 1 out of 4 ballots cast across the state still not included in the results, to date.
In the bargain, a whole bunch of Arizona races --- including their U.S. Senate race, a number of U.S. House races, and several state and local races --- remain officially "undecided" at the moment and/or could see their currently announced "winners" become losers.
The DoJ's Civil Rights Division, according to TPM, may, or may not, be keeping their eyes on the situation there.
The Hispanic community in the state, thankfully, is not taking this one sitting down...especially not after standing in line for hours just to cast their vote, or, in this case, provisional ballots that may or may not be counted. They have been surrounding the Maricopa County Clerk's office in a 24 hour vigil, and phone-banking to call those who were forced to vote provisionally, to let them know they need to get back to the Clerk's office ASAP to try and assure their vote actually gets counted.
This is among the darkest sides of the GOP's War on Democracy that we've been covering all year (for many years, actually) and the shameful battle continues at this hour. We may have more details in the days ahead (on this, and other uncounted ballots and undecided races in other states as well), but, for now, Rachel Maddow did a great overview on MSNBC last night, of the assault on democracy currently being played out in Arizona...
A little more than four months ago, when The BRAD BLOG first covered the ACLU's legal challenge to the deceptive ballot language that the MN GOP state legislature had used to describe its polling place Photo ID restriction initiative on the November 6 ballot, we expressed the concern that the legal challenge might succeed before the MN Supreme Court, yet fail in the court of public opinion. At the time public opinion polls revealed that 80% of Minnesota voters favored the amendment. We were wrong on both counts.
In August, a divided MN Supreme Court rejected the ACLU's challenge to the language used in the ballot question. By late September, the once popular "Photo ID needed to stop voter fraud" scam had become well enough debunked by so many that, as we we noted at the time, support for the misleading measure in the Land of 10,000 Lakes had "cratered" in public opinion polls there. And, finally, yesterday, MN voters reportedly rejected the Photo ID amendment by a decisive margin of 54% to 46%.
In our original coverage, we cited Mark Twain's famous quip that "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes," and the pervasive failure of the mainstream media to expose the truth about the GOP's "Big Lie" about pretend "voter fraud." But we had underestimated the extent to which legal challenges to Photo ID and other forms of GOP voter suppression, especially in Pennsylvania, would compel MSM coverage and educate the public...