Showing posts with label gun control. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gun control. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

“Truthful hyperbole”


It’s an interesting juxtaposition of words, almost the dictionary definition of oxymoron.  Here’s another two words strung together which approach an oxymoron: “President” and “Trump.”   So it is fitting that oxymoronic terms should hang out together.  This term is expressed by Brad Parscale who according to the Palm Beach Post (great local reporting in this case) is “the ‘genius who won Trump’s campaign,’ and how he’ll get him reelected.

I guess we’ll hear more about this digital / marketing “genius” as the 2020 election gets underway. Stoking the Trump base and bringing in other digital followers will be his responsibility to get Trump reelected. 

This digital gunslinger is more than that, a modern day Elmer Gantry who tackles his calling with a evangelistic fervor, whipping up his crowds, “It’s not just me and my computer and a bunch of algorithms that are going to save us. It’s all of you that are going to save us.” By saving us, he means from immigrants, “socialists,” and gun control advocates.  The details of these issues are not discussed, but are to be dropped as puns, one-liners, the repetition of talking points, etc., “truthful hyperbole.”

At his disposal will be a war chest to turn sites like Facebook into an endless stream of propaganda and fake news, oh, sorry, meant to say, “truthful hyperbole.”  His plan is to turn out an army of faithful automatons, 1.7 million “volunteers,” “super Trump fans.”  A soon to-be-released app “’gamifies’ the experience of waiting in line to get in” to Nuremberg style Trump rallies.  How “exciting” is that?

It is the stuff of the great dystopian novels and we will be living it with people such as Brad Parscale the Wizard behind the curtain, pulling the switches.  

Meanwhile, in the real world, there is the Virginia Beach massacre:  twelve people shot dead by a deranged, supposedly aggrieved person.  Not an immigrant.  Not a Muslim.  Not a person of color.  Most of these shootings are not by such people -- as we all know.  Most are committed by angry white men.  Yet, we still hear about the murderers pouring over our borders.  Among the “solutions” espoused by this administration is to separate families, “build the wall” of course, and not achieving that just put into place tariff taxes by executive order.   Punish the innocent and let the NRA’s propaganda propagate.


It’s in our blood.  Guns.  The blood is on your hands, NRA.  We allow this?  How preposterous in a so called civilized society?  The 2nd amendment now goes hand in hand with “truthful hyperbole.”  The right to bear arms never, never would have applied to automatic weapons or handguns with enlarged clips for rapid firing, had the writers of that amendment could have conceived of such weaponry. 

I’m going to simply “reprint” one of the pieces I published a couple years before, the one I think that comes closest to the beginning of a solution.  And indeed, it’s only a beginning.  But no more “truthful hyperbole” please about “bad guys” crossing over the border.  Congress, face up to what is needed!

I’ve now written dozens of times about gun control and in particular the need to outlaw military type weapons, institute stringent background checks, age limits, etc., all the usual ideas and have seen the usual push backs to the same.

I’ve also (not uniquely) suggested that firearms be regulated in the same way automobiles are, requiring registration and tracking when one is sold.

I go back to this argument as it is more of a total solution than any others.

There are of course persuasive arguments against the bureaucracy of establishing a Federal or State system of a “Bureau of Firearms Control.”  Expensive.  Loss of freedom, Big brother watching, etc. etc.  But we tolerate those for automobiles, which also includes testing, insurance, inspection, etc.  We do so for the greater good of society.  We establish laws governing their use and prosecute when those laws are broken, even by generally “law abiding citizens.”  Gun ownership advocates make virtual talking robot arguments that gun laws only hurt the “good” people while “evil” ones ignore them and thus, we should have fewer gun laws.  Talk about circular logic.

We take off our shoes at airports because someone tried to blow up a plane with a shoe. My constitutional rights allow me to wear shoes!

Annual gun deaths are now approaching those caused by motor vehicle incidents (the latter declining and the former steadily increasing).

Getting to the difficult part, implementation.

First, indeed institute stringent background checks, age limit laws, and ban the use of military style weapons.

Secondly, as Congress now sees fit to increase our national debt, go further and institute a Federal program for buying back weapons voluntarily surrendered, with higher premiums for military style weapons.  Pay fair price.  Return them no questions asked for a specified grace period.

Those choosing to keep their weapons, and those buying new ones, must register them with renewals required.  If the registered weapon is given or sold to another, forms have to be completed, the item identified, with the new owner’s name and address.  Then the new owner has 30 days to register them.  Registration fees will support the process.

Gradually a data base will be developed and ones who have a collection of weapons, an arsenal, would be identified and flagged as dealers, subject to another level of scrutiny and regulatory control.

This is complicated stuff and the devil is in the details.

Indeed, some (especially the “bad guys”) will ignore all of this, but they will be subject to prosecution if found with unregistered weapons, or if someone is found with an unregistered weapon purchased or given by them.  It will take time, maybe decades, to work through this group.  It has to start sometime.

And while more regulatory control and knowledge of our lives is abhorrent to me, something has to be started NOW and a more comprehensive solution needs to be sought by our lawmakers.  No more Sandy Hooks, Parklands, Santa Fes.  Now.  Please.

We don’t even hear much anymore about thoughts and prayers regarding the latest incident.  It’s as if we’ve all become inured to them.  That strategy never did work.  We have heard enhanced rhetoric about turning our schools into heavily armed prisons.  Is that really preferable to a “Bureau of Firearms Control?”

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Malfeasance of Action and Morality


I used to write more in this space about topics such as this, but it lacks the immediacy of Twitter.  This space deserves more thoughtful pieces.  I’ve written about gun control (or the lack of it) and our culture’s love affair with guns in more than two dozen entries.  There will be more as the next mass tragedy is brewing, although gun violence is a daily occurrence, but generally not reported on.  How our elected representatives can ignore the arc from Sandy Hook to Parkland is unthinkable, unconscionable; indeed, a malfeasance of action and morality.  I see the face of Mitch McConnell in my mind’s eye as I write this as he, in addition to Trump, represents the worst kind of pandering to the NRA.  Ballots for bullets.

This is the one year anniversary of the Parkland shooting and as an anniversary it is being appropriately marked, particularly by our local paper, the Palm Beach Post.  If it were not the anniversary, it would be forgotten by our NRA blessed representatives who instead want to shift the problem of violence to refugees who are actually trying to flee to a safer place.  So “build a wall BS” transcends any discussion of violence in this country perpetrated by native born citizens.  Blame any feeling of insecurity on refugees, innocent people on the most part. The rhetoric and the demagoguery of it all boggles the mind, no gaslights the mind, the exact intention of this administration.

I’ve turned to twitter to at least make a statement on this, asking our representatives to look at each and every face of the Parkland victims and read their stories.  Let them never forget these helpless victims of their inaction as they are steeped in rhetoric about "The Wall," ignoring the nation's plea for sensible gun control.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Post Midterm Thoughts


So broken: our political system and our way of life.   And still another mass shooting, this one in a CA bar.  We’ve become inured to them by lack of any action, the NRA’s tentacles wrapped around Congress.  There are solutions.  It only takes the will.

Anyone who caught Trump’s news conference yesterday, his firing of Sessions and replacing him with a Yes Man, should understand the fragility of our democratic system.   Demagogues play the Press to their propagandist advantage.  Demagogues demand obedience.

I had only one wish for the Midterms: gain the House, although like most moderate progressives, I was rooting for Beto, Gillum, et al.  Still, I sleepily emailed ebullient messages to a few friends at 3.00 AM declaring “victory” with the subject heading “bring on the subpoenas.”

But I am no Pollyanna, thinking that having control of the House will ameliorate the deep dark political divide in this country.  It might exacerbate it, but as with an operation, the aftermath therapy can be more painful than the procedure. 

We focus on Trump, which is the way he wants it but there are so many systemic issues. Our Constitution is the best political document ever drafted, but it was by 18th century thinkers. 

The 2nd Amendment needs updating.  Muskets are no longer the only “arms” that we have the right to bear.

The Electoral College needs fixing or abandonment, allowing the direct popular vote to determine the outcome of Presidential elections.  Slavery and concern that the average person might not be best suited to make those decisions led to the Electoral College.  We need to question its legitimacy in today’s world where information is readily available to everyone.

Similarly, another consequence of the great Constitutional compromise was the one giving each State the same number of Senators, irrespective of population.  I quote what Alexander Hamilton had to say about that in The Federalist below.  Who could have seen what now exists, with thinly populated states such as North Dakota, about the population size of an El Paso, Texas, having the same Senate representation as the entire State of Texas itself, giving the people of ND nearly 40 times the political clout to have their say over Supreme Court Justices, etc.?  Even a greater multiple when it comes to states like NY or CA.

Another bĂȘte noir of mine, and thankfully we now have a brief reprieve, is political advertising.  Super PACs representing special interests, as well as extremist political party advertising, are a form of government approved brainwashing, appealing primarily to emotional issues.  We’ve successfully removed cigarette advertising from our airwaves.  Time has come to remove political advertising and endless robo calls (spend the $$ on our decaying infrastructure, or healthcare, etc. instead!).  Make all political discourse over the airways subject to universally recognized debate rules.  If a candidate has something to say, write an opinion piece for local and/or national publication, maintain a Web site expressing plans and opinions.  Aren’t we sick of the political advertising which portrays the opposition as being sent from hell? 

Easier said than done, I know, but we have to do something to separate the democratic process from mass persuasion dollars.  The next couple of months before our new House representatives are sworn in are going to be critical. May we survive those days to get democracy back on track.


The Federalist No. 22 by Alexander Hamilton
Every idea of proportion and every rule of fair representation conspire to condemn a principle, which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight in the scale of power with Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or New York; and to Delaware an equal voice in the national deliberations with Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or North Carolina. Its operation contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail. Sophistry may reply, that sovereigns are equal, and that a majority of the votes of the States will be a majority of confederated America. But this kind of logical legerdemain will never counteract the plain suggestions of justice and common-sense. It may happen that this majority of States is a small minority of the people of America; and two thirds of the people of America could not long be persuaded, upon the credit of artificial distinctions and syllogistic subtleties, to submit their interests to the management and disposal of one third.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Not a Time for only Thoughts and Prayers


Las Vegas slaughtering, shootings in schools, houses of worship (let’s not forget Sutherland Springs, Texas and the Charleston, SC shootings) and now eleven people killed and six injured when a gunman attacked the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday. We’re told (by our President) that the greatest threat to our homeland security is immigrants and foreign born terrorists.  Meanwhile, what do all these horrific events have in common?  Most are by hate-filled home-grown white nationalists, with large gun collections, frequently brandishing automatic weapons for maximum slaughtering effect.

Is it a surprise that the Pittsburgh killer blames Jews for helping migrant caravan ‘invaders’?   Who first pointed out the so called caravans had some “bad hombres and people of middle eastern descent?” 

Apparently the gunman used an assault rifle and three handguns, among his collection of 21 registered guns. But he was not a big fan of Trump as he felt the President did not go far enough and he was surrounded by Jews.  On the other hand, pipe bomber Cesar Sayoc felt that Trump’s rhetoric was just right.  Our system fails to ring a bell when one person owns 21 guns?

No matter, it’s pretty clear that the political discourse in which Trump has been engaged, particularly at his Nuremberg style rallies, foments division, violence and is intended to feed the fragile ego of a demagogue.   

Instead of building walls at the border, we need to build legislative walls around gun access.  Will it eradicate such shootings, no, but over time it is one of the building blocks of making such incidents less likely.  I’ve written dozens of times about how this can be done. I think the best summary is in this particular entry.

Win the Mid-Terms and begin to challenge the NRA.  Haven’t we had enough of this?

Monday, July 2, 2018

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press


How about by Presidential Executive Order?  Or just behavior?

I’m still recoiling from the murders of five employees of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis including a feature reporter, Rob Hiaasen.  Hiaasen’s career began at the Palm Beach Post, our local paper.  We all feel a personal connection. Writers there remember him and one, Howard Goodman, has written the definitive article on the incident: The targeting of journalists has to end

As Representative Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said on CNN “This president plays with fire. He has deliberately demonized the press and journalists. To call them the enemy of the people is a remarkable statement from the head of our government. And that puts every journalist at risk. Now, he didn’t do what happened yesterday in Annapolis, but he certainly helped create a climate … where it’s fair game to go after the press. And where does that end? And that’s what I worry about, that sooner or later it leads to this kind of tragedy.”

This is essentially reiterated in Goodman’s article:  “No one has inflamed the present atmosphere more than he, this man who occupies the highest office in our land. He has set a tone which he feeds at every rally and almost every day on Twitter.”

“I am not blaming him for Thursday’s tragedy in Annapolis. But I do charge him with injecting a sense of hatred into the soul of this nation that journalists do not deserve and which — in a country with more guns than people — may all too easily turn into bloodshed.”

However, is it no wonder?  Consider what has come before:

"Never forget. The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it."  -- Richard Nixon to his national security adviser Henry Kissinger in a taped 1972 Oval Office conversation

“I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” --- Donald J. Trump

“The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work. You’re the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”   --- Stephen Bannon

And the award for the most disingenuous goes to Kellyanne Conway:  “You [the press] always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.”

We have looked and found the heart of darkness.

This is where the lines converge, a 2nd amendment run amuck and the perpetual debasing of the 1st amendment, lambasting the press.  Until we can get our priorities straight, expect more gun violence and subsequent “thoughts and prayers.”

Journalists must be protected.

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate, one in February and the other in May.  The Journalist Protection Act would make it a federal crime of certain attacks on those reporting the news. They’ve merely been “referred to committees on the Judiciary”:

Sponsor:              Rep. Swalwell, Eric [D-CA-15] (Introduced 02/05/2018)
Committees:      House - Judiciary
Latest Action:    House - 02/05/2018 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.


Sponsor:              Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT] (Introduced 05/24/2018)
Committees:      Senate - Judiciary
Latest Action:    Senate - 05/24/2018 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Which will pass first, this Act or a Trump appointment to the Supreme Court?  As our 1st amendment is undermined, and any action on the banning assault weapons unlikely, what kind of a nation are we becoming?

For an answer, the cautionary words of Mahatma Gandhi, captured in art by Jani Leinonen, “Your Beliefs” ---

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.