Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Second Amendment”

Gun Control Again – Roger Ingalls

The recent mass shooting at the naval shipyard in Washington DC is extremely tragic and the frequency of this type of murder is increasing. Also, the use of long guns appears to be the weapon of choice for these deranged killers. However, I will still argue that mainstream media and political focus on rifles and assault weapons is way off base. The long gun’s use as a killing weapon is insignificant compared to the hand gun. Unfortunately, mass murders are great money making events for the media and provide a good soapbox for politicians to show their face. The real problem – hand gun murders that occur at a rate of one every hour, every day, 365 days a year – gets ignored.

We can solve the real problem and maintain the integrity of the Constitution by leaving the legal status of long guns as is but outlawing hand guns.

Gun MurdersLittle CrossesThis is the problem

Blue Dresses and Saxophones – Roger Ingalls

Yesterday, standing with the parents who lost their young children in the Sandy Hook Elementary Schooling shooting, President Obama said: “All in all, today was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” I haven’t agreed with the President of late but his statement about the shameful voting of Senators to strike down background checks on gun buyers was on target.

According to a recent poll, 90 percent of US voters support enhanced screening of people purchasing guns. Yet, fifty-four Senators voted against the overwhelming will of the people.

The NRA stands against S. 649 even though seventy-four percent of their members support background checks. Going back on their word, the National Rifle Association threatened Senators in a letter prior to yesterday’s vote. Here’s one of their many statements, “Given the importance of these issues, votes on all anti-gun amendments or proposals will be considered in NRA’s future candidate evaluations.” The cowardly Senators decided it would be best to brown their noses in the buttocks of gun lobbyist rather than supporting the people they took an oath to represent.

For pleasuring the Saxophones (a.k.a. gun lobbyist), I give these despicable Senators the Blue Dress Award. A list of award recipients is shown below.

NAYS 1

Some may think my blue dress and saxophone analogy is disrespectful to the fifty-four nay-sayers but these political prostitutes were absolutely disgusting on April 17, 2013 for servicing special interest groups instead of representing their constituents.

Two Random Thoughts for the Week – Roger Ingalls

Background Check

Thought One: Gun Control

I’m pleasantly surprised. It appears two Washington politicians from different parties are advancing compromised legislation on a “kind of” gun control. I was stunned on two fronts. First, warring chieftains reaching across the Political Grand Canyon to strike a deal is amazing in today’s Washington environment. Second, the legislation they’re pushing forward is pretty good; in short, it requires background checks for gun buyers. This has an opportunity to pass and possibly keep weapons out of the hands of a few bad people. Anything else has no chance of getting through.

As I’ve said in past posts, it can’t hurt to make it more difficult for crazies and criminals. Also, I’m not in favor of outlawing assault rifles for law abiding citizen because they serve a constitutional purpose. However, handguns should be made illegal because they are constitutionally irrelevant (see past post).

It will be interesting to see how far this new gun control proposal makes it through the legislation process.

Planting

Thought Two: Planting Season

It’s time to plan your garden and get your seeds. Everyone should grow at least one green thing; a tomato bush or some basil. You’ll be amazed at the sense of empowerment, accomplishment and the ease of doing so. You’ll look at it and feel good, taste it and you’ll feel even better.

Just grow it!

The Gun Problem: Keeping It Simple – Roger Ingalls

Hand Gun Assault Rifle

Gun Suicides

Gun Murders

Little Crosses

This is the problem

Closing note: Since the 27 deaths at Sandy Hook elementary school forty-nine days ago, more than 1400 peopled have been killed in the US with handguns (28 deaths per day for 49 straight days). A lot of energy, money and politicking is getting spent on the relatively insignificant issue of assault weapon deaths while the real problem of handgun killings is ignored. Sadly, political and media sound-biting wins the day. Please spread the truth, maybe we can focus attention on the real issue.

It Takes An Unarmed Village

Kudos to President Obama. While everyone else is just talking (or blogging) about gun control, he decided to get the ball rolling with a package that overflows with common sense.

A month after we witnessed yet another horrific massacre, Obama challenged a cowering Congress to pass universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines like the ones used in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

imgres-3Fighting words or not, he knows that a deeply divided Congress is an integral partner to pass the most necessary and effective measures for preventing more mass shootings.

“To make a real and lasting difference, Congress must act,” Obama said. “And Congress must act soon.”

Already those brave souls in Congress are burning the midnight candle forcing the NRA to send rational leaders to participate in the debate and selling their shares in the pork industry, fearlessly risking their seats by taking on the special interest groups that put so many of them there in the first place.

Okay I apologize. You probably read that paragraph twice, rubbed your eyes, and vowed to  ditch the decaf and return to caffeinated coffee.

Immediately, the NRA was up in arms: ” “Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus dismissed Obama’s measures as “an executive power grab.”

imgres“He paid lip service to our fundamental constitutional rights,” Priebus said of the president, “but took actions that disregard the Second Amendment and the legislative process.”

It seems to me that one of two things need to happen and they both require acts of courage by huge numbers of people.

The first is a mass movement of people who are willing to make this the focus of attention until the mid terms. I doubt this is sustainable. There are too many other issues that effect our pockets and we are simply too attention deficit and the media are too deft at facilitating this. 

The second involves an (unarmed) uprising within the NRA. I have already written about the NRA historically leading gun reform policy. The only way this is going to happen is if the moderate majority of NRA members make a stand:

I realize this hope contains too flaws: there might not be  a moderate majority and, even if there is, it might be too intimidated to stand up to the extremists. Secondly, it renders my blog title inaccurate.

As the President said: “Behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any commonsense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever, The only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different, that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.”

Here is something we can each do TODAY. Find a friend who is a member of the NRA and take them out for coffee. Invite them to raise their voice – make this about background checks and automatic weapons. Reassure them that the gun they feel they need to protect their family is not threatened.

imgres-1

President Obama is not going to succeed alone. He needs his friends and he needs the moderate majority of the American people. 

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Alon Shalev is the author of three social justice-themed novels: Unwanted Heroes, The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Final Gun Post (for now)

I realize that I have become rather obsessed with the topic but I will try and make this the final post for a while. I have a feeling that I know on what social issue the next novel will focus.

Sifting through the material that I collected are five more excellent articles regarding gun control that have appeared in the Atlantic.

Light  Reading (not). Enjoy.

  • · The Story of a Gun (1993) Erik Larson traces the history of a particular gun that was used to commit a school shooting.
  • · The False Promise of Gun Control (1994) Daniel B. Polsby argues against gun control by pointing out that criminals will always be able to find guns, but honest people won’t be able to defend themselves if restrictions are tightened.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

NRA Supported Gun Control Pt. 3 of 3

This is the final part of a series from last week based upon a great article from The Atlantic by Adam Winkler  The Secret History of Guns. In the previous post, we discussed how the NRA have taken roles in the past to support gun control policy.

There are other historical examples of the NRA supporting gun control. In the 1930’s, the NRA endorsed the National Firearms Act of 1934, aimed at stemming the distribution of “gangster guns” like semi-automatic and sawed-off shotguns.

The NRA was not a blond supporter, objecting to including handguns, for example, but supported what Frederick defined as “reasonable, sensible, and fair legislation.”

In the aftermath of the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 the NRA again supported gun control. The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, had purchased his gun from a mail-order advertisement in the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine. The NRA’s Executive Vice President, Franklin Orth, testified: “We do not think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the president of the United States.”

The NRA did not favor stricter proposals such as a national gun registration, but did support the Gun Control Act of 1968.

What we learn from this historically is that the NRA and Republicans in general, do not have to automatically fight every attempt at gun control.

The US Supreme Court in 2008 clearly defined the Second Amendment as guaranteeing the rights of the individual to bear arms. However, Justice Antonin Scalia, pulled on this past realism when he wrote: ” should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

While the Founders did impose their own form of gun control, no law of their design compares to Scalia’s list of Second Amendment exceptions. “They had no laws banning guns in sensitive places, or laws prohibiting the mentally ill from possessing guns, or laws requiring commercial gun dealers to be licensed. Such restrictions are products of the 20th century. Justice Scalia, in other words, embraced a living Constitution.”

Ironically, in this lies our hope for a consensus. If Justice Scalia sees the need for limitations, then he is only following a long line of conservative, responsible thinks that include leaders of the NRA, Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party, and maybe even the Founding Fathers.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

Secrets of Gun Control 2 of 3

This is a continuance of Monday’s post based upon a great article from The Atlantic by Adam Winkler entitled The Secret History of Guns.

Hard-line gun-rights advocates portray even modest gun laws as infringements on that right and oppose widely popular proposals—such as background checks for all gun purchasers—on the ground that any gun-control measure, no matter how seemingly reasonable, puts us on the slippery slope toward total civilian disarmament.

From the other side of the street, those who advocate for gun control, claim that the Second Amendment was intended to insure a militia that could protect the people from interior or exterior threats.

We  will never know the intentions of those who wrote the constitution, but what is historically proven is that the Founding Fathers put into place gun laws and limitations that would probably see their NRA membership revoked today.

True, preventing slaves and free blacks access to arms was clearly to uphold a racist regime, or law-abiding white men who refused to swear loyalty to the Revolution, is hardly the kind of gun control that many of us seek. (I couldn’t find if women were allowed to carry arms, and if not then, when. Anyone know?).

What I also found interesting is that the Founders had their own version of “individual mandate” (and I thought you were being original, President Obama with your health-care-reform law). The Founding Fathers “actually  required the purchase of guns. A 1792 federal law mandated every eligible man to purchase a military-style gun and ammunition for his service in the citizen militia. Such men had to report for frequent musters—where their guns would be inspected and, yes, registered on public rolls.”

After a famous public altercation in February 1967 (in Oakland, Left Coasters) between a lawyer for the Black Panthers and a police officer, “Republicans in California eagerly supported increased gun control. Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” In a later press conference, Reagan said he didn’t “know of any sportsman who leaves his home with a gun to go out into the field to hunt or for target shooting who carries that gun loaded.”

While the NRA is the clear leader against gun control it was not always so intransigent. In fact, throughout the 1920’s and 30’s the organization often led gun control legislative initiatives.

“The organization’s president at the time was Karl T. Frederick, a Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer known as “the best shot in America”—a title he earned by winning three gold medals in pistol-shooting at the 1920 Summer Olympic Games. As a special consultant to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Frederick helped draft the Uniform Firearms Act, a model of state-level gun-control legislation.”

This included:

1. No individual could carry concealed in public without a permit from the local police. Such a permit could only be received by a “suitable” person with a “proper reason for carrying” a firearm.

2. Gun dealers were required to report to law enforcement every sale of a handgun.

3. A two-day waiting period on handgun sales was to be strictly adhered to.

In 1934 Frederick stated that he did “not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” Milton A. Reckord, the organization’s executive vice president told a congressional committee that the NRA was “absolutely favorable to reasonable legislation.”

On Monday, we shall see how the NRA continued to be an active partner in the passage of gun control.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Gun Control: Kill the Handgun – Roger Ingalls

In the wake of the shooting deaths in Aurora, Colorado, the roar to ban assault rifles can be heard all over the country. The President made a soft but responsible comment on the issue while Senator Feinstein was more direct.

Obama at the National Urban League: “I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms, I think we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation. That hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage but I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons, and we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller.”

Senator Feinstein: “Weapons of war don’t belong on the streets. This is a powerful weapon, it had a 100-round drum; this is a man who planned, who went in, and his purpose was to kill as many people as he could in a sold-out theater. We’ve got to really sit down and come to grips with what is sold to the average citizen in America. I have no problem with people being licensed to buy a firearm, but these are weapons that are only going to be used to kill a lot of people in close combat.”

I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment – commonly referred to as “the right to bear arms”. The Second Amendment text: 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. The amendment was provided for the purpose of deterring tyrannical government, repelling invasion, suppressing insurrection, facilitating a natural right of self-defense and enabling the people to organize a militia system.

If assault rifles are banned we’ll be left with hunting guns and handguns and we would then be out of compliance with the intent of the Second Amendment.

Guns kill approximately 30,000 people in the United States, per year, and less than 0.5% of those killed die from assault rifles. The political and media assault on assault rifles is way off target.

As defined in The Bill of Rights and in the context of the time in which it was written, I do not believe the Second Amendment guarantees the public the right to own or bear hand guns. Hand guns DO NOT satisfy the intended purpose of the amendment.  You cannot deter a tyrannical government or organize a militia with hand guns. I DO believe the public has the right to bear rifles, assault weapons and any equipment used by the military and government. This may be controversial but it is the true intent of the amendment.

Assault weapons make big headline when used for murder but they kill a fraction of the people relative to other weapons. Hand guns are designed for convenient and surprise killing at close proximity which is completely incompatible with the Second Amendment.

If politicians and mainstream media want to focus on a real problem without violating the Constitution, they should kill the handgun.

Gun Control: Lisa and Trayvon Get Shot – Roger Ingalls

What do Trayvon Martin and Lisa Simmons have in common? The title gives it away but they were both shot. The circumstances behind the shootings are very different with one almost in the running for the annual Darwin Awards and the other probably marked by bad timing coupled with mutual adrenaline and fear.

Lisa was shot by her boyfriend, Steven Egan, in what appears to be a hunting accident. Ms. Simmons did not die from her wounds but she was seriously injured and had to be airlifted to a hospital where she is still recovering. The story behind the shooting would be funny if Lisa did not get hurt but I suspect some will find it hilarious. She was shot because her boyfriend thought she was a wild pig. I won’t go into the details but you can read about it here (link). Incidentally, Lisa doesn’t qualify for the Darwin Awards because she survived.

Tragically, Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman on February 26th. The shooting and issues surrounding the case have been widely covered so I will also not go into the details but if you’re not familiar with it, just Google “Trayvon”. Some will get upset that I’ve linked these two shootings and will probably become even more incensed when they now learn that I’m leading this into my view of gun control.

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

Most friends and some associates know that my political views lean to the left and they assume I’m against the ownership of guns but this is not true. I am a firm believer in the Second Amendment – commonly referred to as “the right to bear arms”. However, I also believe the interpretation of the amendment is grossly misunderstood.

Here is the actual Second Amendment text: 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. In review of history, the amendment was provided for the following purposes: deterring tyrannical government, repelling invasion, suppressing insurrection, facilitating a natural right of self-defense and enabling the people to organize a militia system.

As defined in The Bill of Rights and in the context of the time in which it was written, I do not believe the Second Amendment guarantees the public the right to the ownership or bearing of hand guns. How does a hand gun satisfy any of the purposes that the amendment was addressing? It doesn’t. Can you deter a tyrannical government or organize a militia outfitted with hand guns? No, that would be suicide. I DO believe the public has the right to bear rifles, assault weapons, shot guns and any equipment used by the military and government. This may be controversial but it is the true intent of the amendment. Let’s face it, assault weapons make big headline when used for murder but they kill a fraction of  the people in the U.S. when compared to hand guns.

Hand guns serve no good purpose. They are only used in cruel execution of people. They are not practical for hunting, fighting wars or home defense (a shot gun is a better choice against an intruder). Hand guns are designed for convenience, concealment and close proximity killing.

Let’s examine our everyday environment in a setting where hand guns are eliminated and only long guns can be permitted and carried. If you see someone walking down the street or into a store with a non-concealable rifle you can take appropriate action if uncomfortable. You are not afforded this opportunity if the person is concealing a hand gun. An officer, seeing a rifle carrier can request confirmation of a carry permit and ask why they’re carrying at this time – again, not possible if the arms are small and hidden. Also, an undesirable may be less inclined to commit a crime if they see big guns in the hands of legal carriers around them. It’s important to realize that people are already carrying around us so wouldn’t it be nice to know who is?

George Zimmerman had a carry permit and was obviously concealing a hand gun the night he killed Trayvon Martin. Although he was legal in the eyes of the law, his neighborhood watch group did not allow the carrying of weapons. If Zimmerman’s only choice was a long gun, his neighborhood group could have seen the gun, told him no or reported it and Trayvon would still be alive.

As far as the hunting accident involving Mr. Egan and Ms. Simmons, no law or regulation can fix stupid.

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