Tag Archives: semi-automatic

Don’t Be Fooled by NRA Sweet Talk

If you watched the CNN Town Hall from Florida last night, I want to believe you were all deeply moved by the strength and courage of those young people, just one week after their lives were ripped apart, standing up to powerful people in a public televised forum and not backing down. They pummeled Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Dana Loesch, the spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, with hard questions and were met with the usual double-talk and deflection. I am a bit surprised Loesch didn’t bring up Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Loesch did her level best to portray herself personally as empathetic (“I am a mother too.” etc.) and maybe she is. But she is also paid by the NRA to rep their causes and she did her job in constantly deflecting the conversation back to her one major talking point: it’s all about the “system” and its failure to identify the crazy people who should have no access to any guns ever. Round them up. No problem for the NRA. The same was true, Loesch argued, regarding bump stocks. She implied the NRA was fine with restricting them but failed to mention that they tied their proposal to a “universal open carry” law covering all 50 states. The NRA wants to turn the country into a free-fire zone.

Unfortunately, as I wrote in a previous post [http://bit.ly/2GChj3U], Loesch was supported by the Broward County Sheriff who wants authority to round people up and taken them in for psychiatric evaluations. I understand why the sheriff would think that is a good idea, but in my opinion, it is as bad an idea as allowing the continued sale to and possession of semi-automatic weapons by civilians. I won’t repeat what I said earlier.

Loesch’s message, hammered repeatedly, was all about getting more data and then having authorities act on the data against the people identified as a danger to themselves and others. Right out of 1984. And utterly futile. There are a huge number of cases of murderers, small scale and large, who showed no signs of mental problems, no “red flags,” as Loesch liked to say, before killing. The idea that a society can police the mental state of tens or hundreds of thousands of people going through depression, divorce, job loss and other life disturbances is preposterous on its face.

In that reality, however, is a telling message about the NRA. The digital ink wasn’t dry on the CNN Town Hall when Loesch, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, had this to say: “

“Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it,” Dana Loesch said Thursday. “Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back (of the room).” [http://cnn.it/2EVLENL]

She then turned her attack into a racial and immigration issue, saying the media didn’t hold town halls for the grieving black mother in Chicago or the “sanctuary cities” where, by inference illegal aliens are massacring black kids every weekend.

These remarks perfectly capture the NRA game – deflection through race baiting.

They also reveal the darker truth about the NRA. It is in reality the group that loves the school massacres. Why? Because each new slaughter provides fresh ammunition for its claim that the problem is not guns but crazy people. So, from the NRA’s agenda perspective, the more dead kids the better. You think that’s harsh? Listen to the NRA president, Wayne LaPierre sometime.

As for the NRA’s reasoning, think about it as a mathematical problem. If one individual armed with an AR-15 and multiple high-capacity magazines can kill or wound, say, 20 people in a fixed amount of time without having to reload, how many people could that person kill if he had to reload after firing, say, three shots? Well, some no doubt, but the possibility of a successful challenge to such a person is obviously greater if he cannot simply stand there and rapid-fire as fast as he can pull the trigger for 30 rounds in a row, pop in a new magazine and continue firing at will. I suggest that this thought experiment is compelling proof that, while incomplete, it is the gun that matters. Take the gun out of the picture and everything about it changes. Nothing the NRA has to say about this can overcome that logic.

That is why the NRA resorts to race-baiting and other fear-mongering, similar to the President’s own approach when seeking and holding office.

Trump now appears to be saying he’s open to some changes in U.S. gun laws, though exactly what changes is very far from clear. He has, for example, proposed increasing the minimum age for owning a rifle. Yawn. Even if perfectly enforced, which is highly unlikely, this will do nothing to stop someone over 21 from buying and using AR-15s to massacre students and teachers.

Trump says maybe we should arm teachers, or some teachers. This is so stupid it defies comprehension. Think about the teachers you had in school. Imagine them armed to the teeth in from the class every day. What impression will that make on young children?

The answer is not to arm teachers, but to disarm those who would harm them and their students. We cannot claim to be a civilized society when we turn our educational institutions into fortified bunkers.

Of course, if history is any guide, and it usually is, Trump will change positions on these issues every day or every hour as it waits for the problem to blow over as it always has in the past. The NRA is not going away, that’s clear. Is Trump who is financially and ideologically aligned with the NRA going to go against it in any meaningful way? Don’t hold your breath. Trump tweeted this earlier today:

What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne [LaPierre], Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Continuing to hew to the NRA line, Trump has also tweeted the following in the past 24 hours:

….If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!

….History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!

….immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A “gun free” school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!

Our deep thinker President has this all figured out. He sees no problem with calling the shooters “sickos” and simultaneously labelling them “cowards.” Name calling is a classic Trump solution to complex problems. Trump has clarified that he only proposes to arm 20 percent of teachers, the “gun adept teachers with military or special training experience.”

This moron of a president has not apparently thought about the scenario in which swat teams arrive at a chaotic school shooting that they believe is still going on and confront teachers holding weapons. Nor has he considered that some of the “sickos” have no intention of surviving their attacks and thus would not be deterred by fear of meeting armed teachers. Indeed, it is not implausible to believe that the prospect of a gun battle with armed teachers would actually be an attraction for such people.

In any case, while the President is trying to act like an intelligent and empathetic person, the sale of semi-automatic weapons continues apace. See this: http://bit.ly/2F0TBRJ, where 793 semi-automatic weapons are currently for sale.

Back to the CNN Town Hall, pardon me if I am unmoved by Sen. Rubio’s new-found “willingness to reconsider” his positions on guns. Rubio choose his words very carefully as he usually does. “Open to reconsidering” is a far cry from “I am with you — let’s ban semi-automatic weapons.” That phrase rolls of the tongue as smooth as silk, but Rubio couldn’t say it.

At critical moments, Rubio faltered like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, especially when pressed to say he would stop taking NRA money. In a fraught phrase, he kept saying “they buy into my agenda, I don’t buy into theirs.” Great choice of words: buy in.

But, it’s not really about taking or not taking NRA’s money. It’s about what the money represents. It’s a political signifier of great importance and his refusal to reject NRA money speaks volumes.

I have a proposal to test Sen. Rubio’s authenticity on this issue:  announce, Senator, that you are going to take all contributions to you from NRA sources and give them to Everytown for Gun Safety or another similar organization. See how long the NRA keeps giving you money in the wake of that announcement. Then we’ll know who is buying what from whom.

The kids and their grieving parents and friends were having none of the Republican blather. They want definitive action now and there is no reason to think they will just wander back to school and carry on life as usual. They are leading a movement now, comparable potentially to the Women’s March. The students were refused access to many state legislators when they visited Tallahassee and it will be interesting to see how they are received on Capitol Hill by the federal legislators who hold the key to getting a nationwide assault-weapons ban in place.

By the way, Senator Rubio placed his name down behind the argument that assault-weapons bans are ineffective because it’s too easy to evade them, citing some stuff about replacing stocks with plastic to escape the definitions. Sen. Nelson claims his legislation solves that problem by naming the precise weapons covered. I’m no expert on this but that seems to invite precisely the type of evasion Rubio was describing.

So, here’s an offer they can’t refuse:  I will personally come to Washington, without asking the NRA or anyone else for a dime, to help those seemingly inept legislators draft an ironclad ban on semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines. I do not believe this is a particularly complicated challenge of legislative drafting. I also believe that the failure to do it before was the likely product of NRA lobbying that produced language calculated to be ineffective and full of loopholes. So, there’s my offer. I and a small band of exceptional attorneys I happen to know could fix the drafting problems in a day, two at the most. Standing by for your call.

Remove Security for US Capitol & White House

I am going to venture into sensitive territory here so if anyone is offended, you have my advance apology. But after watching the Broward County Sheriff and the usual collection of dignitaries (Governor, School Board members, etc.) at a press briefing after the Parkland school massacre, I have to say this.

The common theme now is “it’s those mentally unstable people who are the real problem.” So, “If you see someone whose behavior has changed or is acting peculiarly, call the police so they can take that person in for questioning and a mental health evaluation.” At the same time the gun crowd recites and repeats their mantra: “if you can’t fix everything, don’t fix anything.” And “I got my rights so if you want my guns, come and take them.”

So, the new theme is that we are to turn ourselves into a totalitarian country of spies, a dystopian nightmare of reporting our neighbors and anyone else whose behavior does not fit our personal norms.  Let’s have everyone report somebody they don’t like and then let the authorities take care of them. Round up the usual suspects, while we cover for those who are really guilty. Yes, you see, if we can just get those mentally unstable people under control, everything will be fine and we can all keep our semi-automatic military grade weapons in case the government comes after us.

This is the usual playbook for post-catastrophe posturing while actually doing nothing of substance. The President added this gem in purporting to speak “directly to America’s children:”

“I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. Answer hate with love; answer cruelty with kindness. We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life, that creates deep and meaningful human connections, and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.”

You can’t make this stuff up. Changing culture isn’t something that can be willed; it takes decades and even centuries. This is just another deflection. Meanwhile, the putative leader of the Free World ordered flags to half-mast. Wow. That took real guts. The NRA was ok with it because it adds to the impression that someone actually cares about these kids, and the ones who will be killed next, while actually doing nothing at all to help them.

The “round up the usual suspects” approach to the gun problem has the same facile attractiveness of the other pro-gun arguments. But if you want to see a real-life example of how this might play out in practice, have a look at the story reported in Bloomberg News: “This Short Seller Pressed ‘Tweet.’ Then the FBI Showed Up” https://bloom.bg/2GnX5uL

In a war of words between two businessmen on Twitter, threatening statements were made. The FBI showed up and warned the author of those statements to stop sending such messages. There were intimations of political influence, as the target of the threatening messages was apparently a “top Republican fundraiser in Georgia” and “Georgia finance chairman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.” The request to send agents was issued from the FBI’s Atlanta office which, along with the Justice Department is, of course, not talking.

True enough, no one was taken in for questioning and mental evaluation, but you surely get the picture. In this case it was a well-placed corporate executive apparently using his influence to induce the government to act against a rival. Under the “see something, report something” approach to stopping mass murders of children, you can just imagine how the complaints will fly as conflicted neighbors, romantic rivals, resentful former employees, etc. decide to get even by reporting the sources of their angst to the police who will be under new expectancies to act. “My neighbor has been bringing home long packages at night; I think he’s stocking up guns.”

And, of course, even when the report is legitimate, as it sometimes may be, it won’t necessarily resolve the threat. The FBI botched the reports it had on the Florida shooter. The Republicans, of course, jumped on this new excuse to undermine the FBI while continuing to whine about politicizing the Florida murders.

In my view, the FBI mistakes in this case, while tragic, simply illustrate that we cannot rely on a government agency, not matter how dedicated, to get everything right.

We are also faced with the usual argument that if you can’t solve everything, you don’t solve anything. That is just plain stupid. The inability to fix the entirety of a problem should not stand in the way of partial solutions that could save lives, such as removing semi-automatic military style weapons from circulation. There is no other area of life in which such a moronic idea would be accepted.

So how do we get semi-automatic military style weapons off the streets and out of the hands of those who would use them for slaughtering children? Right now, the Republican Party, complicit as it is in the Russian fixing of the 2016 election and fully committed to doing whatever is necessary to keep Donald Trump in power, is not going to move without an additional incentive. I propose to give them one. Two actually.

First, remove all the security from the Capitol, the White House and the Cabinet. Crazy, right? It would, of course, expose the legislators and the elite members of the Cabinet, etc. to the same risk that our children face every day at school, or at the mall or at a concert, the risk that some “mentally unstable” individual or group of individuals would attack them with a legally-acquired weapon. Well, of course, it would. That is precisely the point. If the legislators and administration officials who, after every mass shooting, say “it is too soon to talk about controlling weapons of rapid destruction,” were exposed to the same vulnerabilities as school children, they might soon change their tune.

Of course, this approach would also endanger the staff and administrative people who do most of the actual work in these places.  Some of them support reasonable restraints on ownership of semi-automatic weapons. They are the good guys. As the Republicans, funded to the hilt with NRA money, would say: necessary losses. It would not, in any case, take too long for the Republicans to come around. Set a deadline: enact a weapons control system within 30 days or lose your security. Faced with the choice of losing NRA cash or losing their lives, I’m betting they quickly come to their senses.

That proposal is, of course, just a fantasy. The same complicit individuals that control the government control the security for themselves.

So, here’s another, perhaps more realistic, solution. The Resistance must now engage in all-out mass movement of the same nature as occurred during the Vietnam War by making it difficult or impossible for pro-NRA and pro-gun politicians to conduct business as usual. Protesters will have to show up every day with bullhorns and noisemakers and make it difficult or impossible for the Congress to function. Do sit-ins. Even if they couldn’t get close enough to stop the government from operating, the Resistance could disrupt the local offices of the recalcitrant politicians. And they can turn these politicians’ rallies and other public appearances into spectacles of resistance centered around their support for the NRA and the gun lobby. Make their support for the merchants of death a constant topic on all social media. Name the names. Fill their inboxes, mail boxes, comment sites and phone mail with protest messages.

The same treatment should be meted out to the NRA at its offices and anywhere else it appears at conferences and meetings. For the unspeakable misery they have caused, their lives should be made miserable in return.

To be clear, I am not advocating violence against the government or anyone else. I am suggesting that if the American people truly want to stop the killing of children and others with semi-automatic weapons, they are going to have to resort to extraordinary measures. The NRA has the money, the politician enablers can’t get enough of it, and so it’s time to simply stop them from doing business as usual. A non-violent mass movement consistently and relentlessly applied is the only apparent way to force the hand of those supporting, and financed by, the gun lobby.

There will be no quick outcome to this struggle. Many “responsible” people will say this goes too far, that what we need is responsible advocacy, more “honest debate,” etc. Let’s not rush into this. It’s complicated. Let’s take a few years to study it and then, after more children have died at the hands of unhappy people with semi-automatic weapons and multiple high-capacity magazines, maybe we can come up with a solution.

To quote the kids speaking out at Parkland, I call BS. Enough is enough. Read this: https://agingmillennialengineer.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/fuck-you-i-like-guns-2/ The gun people will never yield until they are forced, so they should be forced. Starting now. The will of the majority of Americans on this issue must be presented to the lawmakers in a way they cannot ignore as they have for so long. Enough.