The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 24th, 2016: 353 and Counting

So, another day, another mass shooting. This one took place last night at the Macy’s store in the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. According to the info on Raw Story’s coverage of the shooting, four women were killed while shopping in the Macy’s cosmetics department. The shooter, described as a young Hispanic male, is still at large, and no motive or explanation has yet been reported.

But already, the “good guy with a gun”-lovers are out there shooting their mouths off – and I honestly wish that were literally true, so we sane people wouldn’t have to hear their idiocy. One example is from a guy named Michael Parker whom I’ve argued with before on various ThinkProgress threads:

“Michael Parker Had I been at this mall I would have engaged the shooter with my concealed carry weapon. Never mind…Washington State does not honor my Virginia concealed carry permit so I would have run for the hills like the rest of the sheep. Thank God Virginia recognizes Washington State concealed carry permits so if this happened in Virginia a visiting concealed carry Washington resident could have engaged the shooter. Last December, the Virginia Attorney General tried to limit Virginia’s concealed carry reciprocity to just 5 states. The NRA and the Virginia Legislators got involved…yada, yada, yada ….and now Virginia recognizes the concealed carry permits from all 50 states.”

Another commenter sarcastically said:

“Obviously we need more guns and fewer gun regulations. What could go wrong? Just suspend every one of the Bill of Rights except the 2nd Amendment and America will be great again.”

To which another gun-totin’ hero-wannabe replied:

“You are correct. That is PRECISELY what we need. Had there been a concealed carry weapon’s holder at the mall, like there was in Minnesota, the threat would have been neutralized. It’s stories like this PRECISELY why i carry a firearm.”

Apparently women shopping for cosmetics should only do so in states that allow the gun-carrying menfolk to protect the little ladies while they do so. Dog knows that going unarmed into Macy’s is just too fucking dangerous, so ladies, always expect the unexpected while you’re trying a new shade of lipstick–dontcha know, the real reason why there’s so many mirrors in cosmetics departments is so that we can scope out the folks behind us for possible shooters, not so that we can see how some silly makeup looks on us!

So, wait, how does this work with our big bad menfolk totin’ guns (concealed- OR open-carry) into a mall? As Bill Maher discussed last night – and Wayne and I have discussed before this – open-carry, at least, is quite honestly only safe for WHITE MEN to do. In an open-carry state, one probably won’t see too many men of color packing heat – or at least not for long, as SOMEONE will either shoot them ‘just because’, or report them to the police, who will come and shoot the ‘suspicious’ armed black man on sight.

As noted in the ThinkProgress thread, “There have been 353 mass shootings in the United States in 2016, according to the Mass Shootings Tracker.” C’mon, you crazy shooters, there’s still plenty of time left in 2016, let’s see how high you can make that number go before the new year! And you “good guy(s) with a gun”, Christmas shopping is just around the corner, and the malls will be packed, so get your gunz and ammo ready!

This is our daily Open Thread, so talk about gunz or whatever else you want.

I read the news today, oh boy.

I read the news today, oh boy.

Another law abiding citizen shot and killed two people. She was a staunch supporter of gun ownership so she could protect herself and her daughters.

She shot and killed two people – her daughters. Apparently during a family argument.

She was a good-guy with a gun, until the moment she wasn’t.

She was then shot and killed by the police.

Another former law abiding citizen with a gun, shot and killed by the police.

She was a staunch supporter of gun ownership.

I’m sorry, NRA, but guns DO kill people. That’s what they’re designed to do. They’re designed to be the most lethal weapons available to the common citizen.

It has been written, “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.” The same is true of gun ownership.

Because we fear – bad guys breaking into our houses – government enslavement – monsters under our beds – no tragedy is horrific enough to move us to give up the right to possess guns. Mass murders – mall shoppers – movie goers – kindergartners – nightclubs – occurr so often they’re no longer shocking. Just sad.

Accepted as inevitable, it is the price of fear.

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 20, 2015: Sixteen Years And Not Much Better

It wasn’t the first, and many of us knew then that it wasn’t going to be the last. Unfortunately, we were right. There were more. Plenty more. Too many more. Way, way too many more. And the children. So many, many children. Even after the nation was shocked that a score of little kids would fall victim, still we did little or nothing. Sixteen years ago, on April 20, 1999, two Colorado high school students committed one of the worst gun massacres in American history. The guns they used were bought from gun dealer shows where no background checks were performed (even though they were straw purchases), because no names were taken. One of the guns had been banned from manufacture five years before, but the loose gun laws in our country made it possible, even likely one might believe, that it would end up in the hands of someone who planned to shoot the thirty-six rounds it could hold at other people. A year later, more than 800 pieces of some form of gun control legislation were introduced across the country. Only about ten percent passed. People rightfully asked what it would take to do something about gun violence, but nobody seemed to want to link gun violence to guns. Even after somebody killed more than thirty people on a college campus, even after a nine-year-old girl was killed and a United States Representative suffered a critical, life-threatening head wound, even after twenty small children and seven adults were gunned down by a deranged young man, America still refuses to admit it has a gun problem.

I don’t want to add up all the innocent people who have died at the hands of mass murderers with guns. The number would be too depressing because it’s way more than zero. I don’t know what the financial impact has been on the communities and people who were victims of these mass shootings. I doubt anyone can because the NRA, through its friends in Congress (most of them Republicans, but not all), has managed to make it a crime for the government to compile that kind of information. Congress won’t allow the government to conduct any studies on gun violence, thus giving them the chance to dispute any statistic anyone throws at them as being from a biased source with an agenda, as if that alone disqualifies anything factual that might be said. Yes, everyone who takes the time to inform his or her Congressman about something has an agenda, otherwise they wouldn’t be taking the time to do what they’re doing. That doesn’t mean that each and every one of them isn’t proposing something worthwhile, because many are. But when an organization originally created to teach gun safety and proper shooting procedures has become warped and distorted into an organization that lobbies on behalf of gun manufacturers, not on behalf of its estimated 3.4 million members (about 1% of the country), one can easily wonder just what the “original intent” of the Second Amendment (more on that later) has to do with what’s going on. The NRA spends millions of dollars defending the alleged individual right to bear arms (it is not settled law yet), yet refuses to allow sensible precautions that might help prevent another mass killing. Polling suggests the vast majority of average NRA members support the use of background checks at gun shows, to prevent the sale of guns to people who wouldn’t otherwise pass one, yet the NRA leadership ignores that and cries that background checks would lead to gun owner databases (which are not a bad idea), which would lead to mass confiscations of guns (never in a million years in this country), which would lead to Tyranny, which the Second Amendment was written to prevent. No, it wasn’t.

Prior to 1977, nobody was ever arguing that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to carry a gun for personal protection. That only began to happen when the National Rifle Association was taken over by extremists who argued that 200 years of legal and constitutional precedent were wrong. A large part of their ultimate success in deceiving people into believing this was the misuse of various quotes form Founding Fathers, including Patrick Henry’s “That every man be armed.” In its proper context (see link), it was actually a call to limit gun ownership, not expand it. It is true, regardless of who said it, that the NRA has perpetrated a massive fraud on the American People by claiming the Second Amendment is about the individual right to possess guns. It’s simply not true, regardless of Supreme Court decisions which wrongly claim it is. The Second Amendment was justified to support the use of state militias to defend the nation against invasion and rebellion, and to authorize Slave Posses to capture runaway slaves. President George Washington used the authority of the Second Amendment to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, so that should dispel the myth that its primary purpose (which is the gun enthusiasts’ main argument) is false. And since Slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment, the idea that guns should be allowed to capture runaway slaves is now null and void. Despite the Constitutional limitations on such a thing, the fact remains we have a standing army, even though we’re supposed to be re-authorizing its existence every two years. (How they could legally make me sign a contract to enlist in the Air Force for four years still escapes me.) So we no longer rely on State militias to defend the nation from invasion or rebellion in the same way the Colonists did in the 18th century. Yes, they are called out in emergencies, which can include rebellion, but they aren’t quite used the same way the Founders intended. They tend to get used to suppress exercise of First Amendment rights. The point is, maybe it’s time to rethink how we interpret the Second Amendment in 21st Century America. There’s no reason to lock ourselves into living and thinking like 18th century colonialists. The Constitution is meant to be a framework for our evolving country and its government, not a shackle to the past. Things that were issues and concerns back then don’t necessarily apply to today, which means the same justification used back then don’t necessarily apply today, either. Where citizens might have patrolled streets back them to catch purported thieves, now we have police patrols to whom we’ve granted the authority to use guns and capture criminals. Nobody seriously expects a private citizen to pull out a gun and stop a criminal (and none ever has.) The arguments people come up with to justify carrying around a gun get weaker and weaker. Most of the time the only danger that exists is in their own minds, which is why I hate the idea that one can use that as a justification to kill. “I thought my life was in danger.” From what? “From something it turns out I imagined.” Well, if you were never in actual danger, then you can;t justify using actual deadly force to defend yourself, can you? After all, what was going to kill or harm you? Nothing but your own imagination. Does it make any sense to say it’s okay to claim you were defending yourself against something you imagined when you killed someone?

We have a serious problem with gun violence in this country, and it’s long past time we admit it’s largely connected to our serious problems with guns and the fact, yes, I repeat, fact, that they are dangerous. It defies all logic and common sense to say guns are not dangerous, especially loaded ones. The same Justice who wrote the infamous Heller decision had previously written that laws adding years to a prison sentence for using a gun were constitutional, even when the gun in question was not being used as a gun but as a bludgeon. If guns weren’t dangerous, why would we make sure every soldier sent into battle carried at least one? If guns weren’t dangerous, why would trigger locks even be necessary? If guns wren’t dangerous, why are so many children killing other children with them? It is totally stupid to say a loaded gun isn’t dangerous. It’s dangerous for the same general reason it’s dangerous for a country unfriendly to you to have a nuclear weapon that can be carried by missiles that can reach you. It would allow them to kill or harm you from a safe distance, and before you can do anything to stop them. If I’m standing across the room from you, I can kill or harm you without needing to put myself in close proximity to you, thus giving you the chance to kill or harm me (or take my dangerous gun away and kill me with it.) Yes, you can cite all the cherry-picked statistics you want about how more people are beaten to death with bats than are killed by high-powered rifles, if you want to ignore the use of handguns (which were designed for one, and only one, purpose – to kill people.) But there is one indisputable fact that cannot be ignored, but which all too often is: In every single instance of gun violence in this country’s history, the one common element to all gun deaths, regardless of who, if anyone, was pulling the trigger, has been a gun. So maybe that’s where you have to begin.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss guns, gun control, lying NRA bastards, or any other topic you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 4, 2014: Yes, Virginia, There Have Been More Mass Shootings

Yahoo! News has obtained an FBI study scheduled for release next week that shows what many of us have suspected has been happening: mass shootings are on the rise. The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, for purposes of this report, define mass shootings “as incidents where a gunman opens fire in a public place with the motivation of killing many, at least one of whom is ‘unrelated’ to the gunman.” They did not include bank robberies, drug deals, gang violence, or any crimes where shooting is a byproduct. The information will be used to shape police response to reports of an active shooting. Of course, if guns weren’t so easily available, there would be fewer mass shootings to which to respond.

Since 2008, mass shootings have tripled from about five per year to about sixteen. If that doesn’t scare you, it should. It means that about every three weeks, someone, somewhere in the US, for some reason, is going to take a gun and open fire on a bunch of strangers who did nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Have you ever known a mass shooter? Probably not, which means the next one is also likely to be a stranger to you, and you to him. So if we don’t do something about the prevalence of mass shootings, you could be one of the next victims.

“According to the new study, patrol officers, who are usually the first on the scene, had to use force to stop the gunman in nearly a third of the attacks.” This may seem wrong, at first blush, if you are familiar with the Mother Jones report that showed that no “good guy with a gun stopped the bad guy with a gun.” But there is no inconsistency. The standards for which shootings got chosen for the two studies were different.

There is no reason we have to put up with this. Every time one of these events occurs, the NRA is quick to say that it would be disrespectful to the victims to “politicize” their deaths to discuss the subject, and so we don’t. This is hypocrisy, of course, because politicizing the shootings is exactly what they’re doing when they say we shouldn’t discuss it. And since the next shooting is usually less than a month away, and the calls for silencing the debate once again being spewed from pro-gun media, the discussion ends up never taking place. And more people die needlessly. The Second Amendment needs to be repealed or completely re-written to be clearer. Nobody would deny that you have no constitutional right to own a thermonuclear weapon, so we must all agree that the 2nd Amendment, like all other constitutional rights, has limits. The discussion on what those limits are can wait no longer. Don’t you agree? Or do you enjoy watching small children die?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss mass shootings, brain dead NRA officials, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 18, 2013: Ho–Hum–

Well, another mass shooting is in the news. Ho–hum—

Time to go out and buy more guns, because, you know, if 3,000 members of the Naval armed forces cannot stop one guy before he kills a dozen people, you have to buy more guns to protect yourself and your family, because, you know, Obama’s gonna take your guns away.

Except he isn’t.

"Walker" Mole, The Zoo's underground reporter.

“Walker” Mole, The Zoo’s underground reporter.

According to sources deep within the Obama Administration, the President is considering an entirely different tact. Instead of calling for registration of gun owners, the President will be asking for all citizens who do not presently own a gun to register their non-ownership status with the Federal Government.

“Non-ownership of guns has never presented a 2nd Amendment problem” a source revealed, on condition of anonymity. “The President’s idea is beautiful in its simplicity. All non-gun owners will register their non-gun ownership with the federal government. Then, if we get a call about gun violence, they won’t have to worry about a SWAT Team taking them out by mistake. Anyone who doesn’t register as a non-gun owner will be presumed to be armed and dangerous, and will be treated accordingly.”

Early reports from the NRA seem to indicate the Association is in an absolute quandry over how to respond to the inherent double-negative in the President’s proposed program. Although instinctively the NRA opposes everything Obama proposes, no one clear voice of opposition to a non-gun-owner registration has emerged, except for that of Sarah Palin, “I think that those Americans who don’t want to own a gun to protect their freedoms should be free to not own a gun free from governmental interference and regulation and every true American who owns a gun should be free to own a gun without having to not register as a non-gun-owner in order to protect the basic liberty that is, to not delcare what someone does’t have.”

OPEN THREAD.
HO-HUM…..

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, April 24, 2013: De-Regulation, Texas Style

From the Way-Forward Machine: Date, October 24, 2013:

One of the primary arguments against more gun regulations was the argument that only law-abiding citizens will abide by the new regulations – that criminals will ignore the law and still get guns. That gave Texas Governor Rick “Oops” Perry an idea.

Six months ago, to the day, Gov. “Oops” Perry made a startling announcement, which, on its face, seemed quite obvious. “Only criminals break the law.” He then went on. “Law-abiding citizens don’t commit crimes. Only criminals do. And no law has ever stopped a criminal from committing a criminal act. The NRA is right. We don’t need more laws turning more things law-abiding citizens do into crimes. And I’m asking my fellow Republicans in the State Legislature to get a bill on my desk that repeals all criminal laws that have not prevented a crime, because those laws, obviously, don’t work. There’s enough that doesn’t work in big government without having laws that don’t work, either.”

Before the end of the month, the Republican-controlled Texas State Legislature had a bill on Perry’s desk repealing the entire criminal code. Perry signed it immediately, saying, “There’s three things I like about this bill. One, it gets rid of laws that don’t work. Two, it shrinks the size of government. And three…three….I forgot….oops.”

Shortly thereafter, the word got out. Nothing was illegal in Texas anymore. Within a couple of weeks, every bank in Texas had been robbed once….per day. Mom and Pop stores were robbed blind, while the larger chain-stores hired armed security.

Insurance companies couldn’t cancel policies fast enough, as drivers soon found out they could speed, run stop signs and traffic lights without fear of getting a ticket.

And just last week there was an incident where a citizen called to complain about his neighor’s music being way too loud. The responding officer told him “There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not like it’s against the law or anything.” The citizen replied, “It’s so damn loud, all day and all night! I can’t get any sleep. I’m so mad I could just go over there and shoot him!” To which the officer said, “Well, there’s no law against that, either.”

Six months later, Perry is re-thinking his de-regulation of criminal laws. “It seems” he said at a recent press conference, “that law-abiding citizens are law abiding only when there are laws to abide. So I’m asking my collegues in the State Legislature to get me a bill reinstating the criminal code.”

When asked if this experience changed his mind about background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and over the internet, the Governor replied, “Hell no. That’s the kind of law that only law abiding citizens will abide, leavin’ criminals free to break the law and still get guns without background checks. I will not stand for requiring law abiding citizens to have to go through a background check just to buy a gun.”

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, a man on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List was able to legally buy guns at a gun show and promptly opened fire in the convention center, killing 14 and wounding 16 others before being mowed down in a hail of bullets from all directions. Only 39 bystanders were killed by stray bullets from the good guys with guns, that number including several police who were first on the scene.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR NORMAL, ‘IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE’ TIME.

OPEN TREAD

WRITE ON!

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 1st, 2013: From Human Idiocy to Nature’s Logic

As a glutton for punishment, I wallowed through hundreds of responses regarding the group of alleged ‘men’, who showed their opposition to an Indianapolis “Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns National Day to Demand Action” gun safety rally, attended by “Moms Demand Action”, by openly facing the “Moms” while carrying loaded weapons.

nra
Most of the real whack-job pro-gun comments got “wished into the cornfield”, and probably a hundred or so were along the lines of “So you’re “intimidated” by a law abiding citizen exercising their rights?” – the word “intimidation” apparently not having the same meaning in different areas of the country – which got old and tired pretty quickly. But I thought you might enjoy the sheer idiocy of the following ones:

“You don’t have the right to be “protected”. You do have a natural right to protect yourself.”

[I and another commenter both reminded that guy about the existence of ‘police forces.’]

“They did nothing wrong and showed gun safety… What wrong? Are you mad that they didn’t shoot everyone? Are you mad that they didn’t break any laws.”

[Aside from the obvious grammar issues here, I love the assumption that liberals want people to get shot just to further our gun-grabbing agenda.]

Oops, I almost left out one of the best:

“WHEN YOU ANTI GUN PEOPLE ARE APPROACHED BY THE BAD GUYS OR WHEN OBAMA TAKES AWAY ALL YOUR FREEDOMS AND MAKES YOU HIS SLAVES, YOU WILL BE GLAD WHEN US GUN OWNERS ARE THERE TO PROTECT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY’S.”

Another genius posted:

“Carrying a lit candle at a vigil could be seen as intimidation because you could set someone on fire. It’s the same argument.”

The final gem is from the same genius:

“The rifle is the emblem of our freedom. It is more American than the flag.”

To which I HAD to respond with:

“Oh, so THAT’s why schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the RIFLE of the United States of America!”
“May I also point out to everyone who is asking why the group who brought loaded weapons to this gun-safety rally would be considered to be ‘intimidating’, since they were only exercising their rights: just take a look at Matt Rhodes’ gravatar (which is also repeated all over the NRA’s website), with the motto: NRA – STAND AND FIGHT.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On to Nature and her logic: While Spring officially arrived on March 20th, for me, the first sign of spring came on March 25th, when I spotted the first robin of the season. As soon as I remarked to myself ‘ooh, first robin’, I realized that that robin was accompanied by close to a hundred others, all ‘worming’ across the large field in front of one of the local firehouses. If I had my camera at the time, I would have taken a shot, since I’d never seen so many in one place at one time.

Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast


Then on Thursday, I spotted the first bee of the season, hovering hopefully over a clump of crocuses. Now, normally I’m not overly fond of bees, but I’m well aware of their intricate place in Nature’s logical order. Coincidentally, one of the local papers highlighted a seminar occurring tomorrow as part of Scenic Hudson’s Naturalist Lecture Series. Here’s an excerpt from a Poughkeepsie Journal article by Stefanie Schappert:

“Every time we take a bite of an apple, drink a cup of coffee or have a slice of blueberry pie, we must remember that every fruit and vegetable was pollinated first,” said Tim Stanley, program coordinator for the Fresh Air Fund at the Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill and a beekeeping enthusiast.”

“Ultimately the food that we eat depends on it,” Stanley said.

Stanley keeps two honeybee hives at his home and one at the reservation.

The lecture will focus on the 4,000 native species of bees in North America and how people can encourage native pollinators into their gardens and yards.

“Although the honeybee is the only perennial bee that produces a food source — honey — through the winter, it was brought over from Europe and is not native to the United States. Stanley said native bees, also known as “keystone species,” tend to be more efficient and better at what they do. Native bees include bumblebees, carpenter bees, sweat bees and orchard bees.”

Honeybee

Honeybee

I don’t know about everyone else, but I think I prefer bees to gun-nuts!

This is our open thread. What’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 30, 2013: Is the U.N. Really Coming to Take Our Guns?

To hear some people on the Right tell it, the United Nations is going to be sending troops with light blue helmets door to door to confiscate your guns. But is that even remotely true? Well, I did start this post with “To hear some people on the Right tell it…” so that should be a clue. The answer is a simple “No,” but if you want something more complicated than that, then “No, and can I have some of what you’re on?” The United Nations is not about to do anything of the sort. In fact, it would be just as accurate to say that the Wicked Witch of the West is sending her flying monkeys to everyone’s house to confiscate the guns of law-abiding citizens and to fling poo at them. Let me be as clear as I can be: The United Nations is NOT going to take your guns, nor are they going to fling poo at you. Period. Anyone who tells you differently is either deliberately lying or sadly misinformed. Speaking of deliberately lying or sadly misinformed, Fox News Channel is helping to spread the fear that the U.N. is coming for your guns. And they are joined by, who else, the National Rifle Association (which, contrary to what any of their leadership says, actually lobbies on behalf of gun manufacturers, not gun owners.) But more on that later.

Back in July of last year, the United Nations met to discuss the international arms trade and how they could help keep guns from getting into the hands of bad people (like, you know, terrorists.) Contrary to early reports from the right, flinging poo was not on the agenda for these meetings. From that meeting emerged the Arms Trade Treaty, “to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms.” And it makes sense. If you want to stop guns from getting into the hands of bad governments and international terrorists, you need the cooperation of everybody involved, otherwise the bad guys could just go to the country that didn’t sign the treaty and get their guns from them. This negotiation would have started sooner if not for the Bush Administration, which opposed the treaty on the illogical and unsubstantiated claim that “national controls are better.” Fortunately, the Obama Administration reversed that position. So the U.N. did meet but were unable to come up with an agreement. So they agreed to meet again this past week to conclude the work done in July. It’s important that the United States be a part of any such treaty because we are, by far, the largest exporter of arms in the world.

Much of the opposition to the treaty (and it didn’t all come from the U.S.) was over the issue of national sovereignty. There are some countries that have constitutions guaranteeing their citizens certain rights. (Quick quiz: Name one such country.) The fear was that an international treaty would override those rights. Well, I can’t speak with any authority on what other countries’ constitutions say, but I can promise you that no international treaty can ever supersede the United States Constitution. If it did, it would be struck down by our own Supreme Court (and then be forced to gay marry a treaty from another country.) But, to make sure that wasn’t an issue, our own State Department issued, what they call, “red lines.” According to the dictionary, red lines are “lines that are colored red” (well, that was no help), but they are also what you could call “deal breakers.” To allay the fears (real or imagined) that this treaty would empower the U.N. to send their famed “blueberries” to your door, the United States State Department issued these key red lines:

KEY U.S. REDLINES
——————————————————————————–
The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld. There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution. There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.

The U.S. will oppose provisions inconsistent with existing U.S. law or that would unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.

The international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity, and otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.

There will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.

There will be no lowering of current international standards.

Existing nonproliferation and export control regimes must not be undermined.

The ATT negotiations must have consensus decision making to allow us to protect U.S. equities.

There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.

So you’d think that would satisfy those “gun enthusiasts” (a/k/a “gun nuts”) who fear the U.N. is going to be coming for your guns. But, sadly, no. You see, removing the controversy by explicitly stating that the United States will not be party to any treaty that takes away your Second Amendment rights is too inconvenient for a network that wants you to live in fear. And that’s why the folks at Fox News Channel conveniently ignored that statement and pretended it didn’t exist. Instead, they reported the opposition to the treaty as if its rationale was based in facts. They reported the lies that the treaty could be interpreted as giving the U.N. the right to come to your home and take your guns as if they were old, settled issues (which is a common tactic of theirs.) That the industry that stands to lose a lot of money is opposed to the treaty should come as no surprise, nor should the fact that you’re not hearing their chief lobbyists, the NRA, explain it that way. Instead we get the lies. But we also get surprises.

For example, the National Rifle Association and Fox News Channel are vehemently (dare I say “violently”?) opposed to the Arms Trade Treaty. You know who else is, to the point of possibly thwarting the whole effort? Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Yes, you read that right. Fox News is on the same side as Iran, North Korea, and Syria. And they say we’re the ones who are un-American. And that we fling poo.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss the Arms Trade Treaty, Fox News, the NRA, poo-flinging, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 5, 2013: Another False RW Argument Against The Assault Weapons Ban

In response to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s efforts to reintroduce a ban on assault weapons similar to the one she got passed in 1994, during the Clinton administration, the Right Wing has, as it often does, presented false arguments against the ban. [Fair warning: I am going to link to and quote from Breitbart.com and other RW sites. Have your barf bags handy.] Speaking on “Meet the Republican Hack Pretending To Be the Press“, Sen. Feinstein said

that she would introduce an assault weapons ban on the first day of the next Congress. “It’s a first-day bill I’m going to introduce in the Senate and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons,” Feinstein said. “It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession–not retroactively but prospectively–and it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets.”

For a gun supporter’s understanding of the 1994 AWB, see here. Please note that there is a word missing from that quote above: “rifles.” This is significant, but more on that later.

Now, if you think a new ban on assault weapons has no chance if becoming law, think again. Sen. Joe “Dead Aim” Manchin, who got an “A” rating from the NRA, backs it. That’s right, the man who ran this ad in his bid to get elected to the US Senate

said this on “Morning Joe” recently

“I want to call all our friends at the NRA and sit down,” Manchin said. “They have to be at the table. This is a time for all of us to sit down and move in a responsible manner. I think they will.”

Manchin said it was crucial to involve the NRA in the conversation. “You have to have everybody at the table, not just the people you think will support this. I’m a lifetime [NRA] member and I’m willing to sit down and ask all of my colleagues to sit down.”

Manchin has voted in support of many pro-gun laws, earning the NRA’s endorsement for his recent reelection.
“Seeing the massacre of so many innocent children has changed everything,” he said. “Everything has to be on the table.”

The proposed ban also has the support of President Obama. You’d think with the prospects of such a ban becoming law again being good that the Right Wing would just take a hint and STFU, and you would be wrong.

Now, it is true that assault weapons are not used in all that many murders, but the point isn’t to prevent any guns deaths at all from these weapons, but simply to reduce the number of people killed when one of them is used. The rationale for the ban on extended magazine clips, and other multiple round devices, is so that once a nutjob starts shooting up a place, he won’t be able to fire as many rounds before needing to reload, which would give survivors of the incident an opportunity to subdue the gunman. That’s all. If the shooter only has ten rounds in the clip, he would have to either pull another gun out right away or risk being overcome. If he can shoot 15, or 30, or 100 rounds before reloading, it’s likely more people will die before he needs to either reload or leave.

Enter the Right Wing Noise Machine. After posting a column on Breitbart.com (get those barf bags handy), Awr Hawkins made the absurd argument that “A rifle ban is as illogical as it is unconstitutional.” His rationale? “According to the FBI annual crime statistics, the number of murders committed annually with hammers and clubs far outnumbers the number of murders committed with a rifle.” Many other RW sites based posts on this article including Alex Jones, Fox News Nation, Daily Paul, and Free Republic. You may want to go get a second bag if you plan on reading any of the comments.

Since we’re dealing with right wing arguments, it’s natural (if you have an IQ in the three-digit range) to ask, “Is it true? Are more people really killed by hammers and clubs than by guns?” The answer is, technically, yes. It’s true, but it’s not truthful. FBI statistics for the years 2005-2009, 2010, and 2011, do show that fewer people are murdered by rifle than by a combination of various kinds of blunt instruments. But Sen. Feinstein never said the word “rifle” in that quote. She said “assault weapons.” And there are certain kinds of hand guns that would qualify as “assault weapons.” And if you look at the statistics on murders with hand guns (no specific type mentioned), you’ll see that there are more than ten times as many murders committed with hand guns as with blunt objects.

So the whole “rifle” argument is a false one from the beginning. But there’s another reason it’s a bad argument. Generally speaking, people don’t go around with hammers and blunt objects and kill four or more people at one time. Murders committed with these weapons are usually crimes of passion, where one person completely loses it and beats another person to death with whatever is handy, be it a hammer, a club, a baseball bat or, quite possibly, a rock. Nobody is proposing a ban on rocks (or hammers, clubs, or bats) because there is no fear that someone will go on a mass killing spree with a blunt object and kill 20 school children.

As for the claim that most gun murders are committed with stolen weapons, a Frontline report showed that to be false. Many illegally purchased guns are done through straw man purchases (where one person buys a gun for someone who may not be allowed to buy one for himself), corrupt licensed gun dealers, and street purchases, all of which are illegal. Of course, if the gun were never made, it couldn’t be sold illegally.

This is our daily open thread. Feell free to discuss guns, bullets, ammo, or even non-gun-related things.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 22, 2012: No, Wayne, We Don’t Need More Guns

In the aftermath of one of the most horrific mass shootings in our nation’s long history of mass shootings (see partial list of recent mass shootings here), David Keene, President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) the began an announcement to the press “for the purposes of beginning our discussion of the topic that’s been on the mind of American parents across this country, and that is, what do we do about the tragedies of the sort that struck in Newtown, Connecticut — to avoid such events in the future?” He then introduced Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who proceeded to lie.

Wayne said, “Out of respect for the families and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment.” Except if that were true, he would not have been making those comments, because the facts are not yet known and won’t be for some time. But after promising on Tuesday that the NRA would have a “meaningful contribution,” their solution to prevent more mass shootings in schools was – yes, you guessed it – more guns in schools. Really, Wayne? Do you honestly think that if we put armed security guards in every school, that fewer children would die from guns? Maybe you really do believe that, because among many stupid things you said was this gem, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is the mind set we must face if we are to do anything about the prevalence of guns in our society. A mind set that believes that the only thing wrong with the guns in our society is that there just aren’t enough of them, not that there are too many in the hands of people who have no business holding one let alone owning it. A mind set that thinks guns provide a level of safety their absence can’t match, despite the clear evidence that guns provide a level of danger their presence can’t eliminate. A mind set that believes you have every right in the world to kill someone for no other reason than that you believe, some how, some way, that he posed some kind of danger, possibly imaginary, to you or someone in your care.

They will try to make this about anything but guns. They will try to make it about mental health. They will try to make this about public health. They will try to make this about school safety. They will try to make this about ANYTHING but guns. But there is one, and only one, thing that all mass shootings have had in common – guns. People have committed mass murder without using guns, but those incidents are few and far between, and they certainly aren’t happening at the rate of about one per month, as is true with mass killings using guns. But until we talk about the issue, we won;t come to any meaningful solutions. And since the discussion will revolve around the Second Amendment, the very first question we should ask and answer is a simple one: What year is it right now? Because it isn’t 1791, and we don’t rely on out militias for law enforcement, only law assistance. And since militias were the clearly obvious reason for allowing people to own guns, shouldn’t we discuss them, too? The “right to keep and bear arms” is not without context, and a discussion on how to reduce the number of mass shootings in our society must address that context.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss guns or any other topic you wish.

The Watering Hole: Monday, December 17, 2012 – Can We PLEASE Talk About Guns In Our Society Now?

On the morning of December 14, 2012, it was Newtown, Connecticut.
Before that it was Clackamas Town Center, Oregon.
Before that it was Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Before that it was Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Aurora, Colorado.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Before that it was Oakland, California.
Before that it was Seal Beach, California.
Before that it was Carson City, Nevada.
Before that it was Tucson, Arizona.
Before that it was Manchester, Connecticut.
Before that it was Fort Hood, Texas.
Before that it was Binghamton, New York.
Before that it was Carthage, North Carolina.
Before that it was Northern Illinois University, Illinois.
Before that it was Kirkwood, Missouri.
Before that it was Omaha, Nebraska.
Before that it was Virginia Tech, Virginia.
Before that it was Salt Lake City, Utah.
Before that it was Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Before that it was Seattle, Washington.
Before that it was Red Lake, Minnesota.
Before that it was Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Before that it was Meridian, Minnesota.
Before that it was Fort Worth, Texas.
Before that it was Atlanta, Georgia.
And before that, on the morning of April 20, 1999, it was Littleton, Colorado.

These are all places where someone, or several someones, took a gun, or several guns, and began shooting people at some location, or several locations. Does this list strike you as being rather long? These are just ones since Columbine. There were others in between and before that. Many people died in those mass shootings. Too many. And too many were children. Far, far too many. And yet, we can’t seem to have that talk about all these mass shootings and the prevalence of guns in our society.

How many people have to die in mass shootings before we are allowed to talk Continue reading

The Watering Hole – Saturday – July 21, 2012 – It’s Not 1787 Anymore

Yesterday morning, in Aurora, Colorado, a 24-year-old named James Holmes unleashed the largest mass shooting in US history using ammunition, weapons, and clips that were all legally purchased. Had the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban still be in effect, he would not have been allowed to possess some of that weaponry legally. It is desperation to try to argue that he would have found a way to get them anyway.

The people of this country need to have an honest discussion about guns. It’s not 1787 anymore, and we don’t depend on state militias to defend our nation against invasion, which is what the Second Amendment is about. It’s about national defense, not personal protection and not protection from our own government. That may be a side-benefit, but it was never the main purpose, no matter what anyone from the NRA says. The “right to keep and bear arms” is clearly predicated on the idea that the arms bearer was going to be part of “a well-regulated militia,” not just someone who liked having, as former Senator Phil Gramm once put it, “more guns than I need, but fewer guns than I want.”

A loaded gun is dangerous, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. (I said “loaded.”) A loaded gun can kill or seriously injure even when it’s in nobody’s hands. Please don’t tell me guns are safe.

But enough about me. This is our daily open thread. Feel free to talk about this or anything else you want.

Pigeon Shoots – Elmer Fudd’s Day at the Field

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Pennsylvania is the only State that still holds pigeon shoots. This is barbaric and is animal cruelty. The PA HB 2130 would ban any type of “caged” hunting including tying turkeys’ legs with wire to hay bales and then using the turkeys for bow and arrow target practice.

DO SOMETHING: Link to Pennsylvania HB 2130

The Allentown Call tells it like is in this article.

Frankly, I can’t think of anything less sporting than a pigeon shoot, except maybe shooting animals you have tied up. Here’s how it works.

They set up a bunch of ”traps” — small wooden boxes — in one or more shooting rings. When a spring-loaded trap pops open, the dazed bird is propelled out, tries to flutter away and is blasted by Elmer Fudd.

Link to the USA Humane Society

“Shooting pigeons and calling yourself a sportsman is like hiring an escort service and calling yourself a ladies man.

~ by Walter Brasch (complete article published with the permission of the author)

Dave Comroe stepped to the firing line, raised his 12-gauge Browning over and under shotgun, aimed and fired. Before him, a pigeon fell, moments after being released from a box less than 20 yards away. About 25 times that day Comroe fired, hitting about three-fourths of the birds. He was 16 at the time.

“It’s not easy to shoot them,” he says, explaining, “there’s some talent involved. When a live pigeon is released, you have no idea where it’s going.”

Where it’s going is usually no more than five to ten feet from its cage. Many are shot on the ground or while standing on top of the cages, stunned by the noise, unable to fly because of being malnourished, dehydrated, and confined to a small space for hours, often days.

Nevertheless, even with “expert” shooters on the line, only about one-fifth of the pigeons are killed outright, according to Heidi Prescott, senior vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States. About a tenth of the birds usually escape. But about two-thirds are wounded.

“There really isn’t much you can do for a wounded pigeon except put it out of its misery,” says Comroe. Prior to an order in 2002 by the Court of Common Pleas in Berks County, most of the wounded were picked up by trapper boys and girls, some as young as eight years old, who killed the birds by stomping on their bodies, hitting them against structures, stuffing them into sacks, and dumping them, some still breathing, into large barrels. Some also wrung the birds’ necks or ripped them from their bodies. Since that order, the “trappers” are at least 18 years old and have gone “high-tech”; they now use garden shears to sever a bird’s head.

Trappers can’t get all of the birds. Hundreds at a large shoot will fly to surrounding areas and remain untreated as long as several days to die a painful death, says Johnna Seeton, Humane Society police officer. Pigeon shoot organizers do their best to keep observers from the scene, and don’t allow volunteers to pick up and treat wounded birds unless they fly off the property, even if there’s no shooting at the time. “We have only been able to rescue a few birds,” says Seeton.

Dave Comroe, now 32 years old, had begun hunting when he was 12 years old. That first year he killed his only deer. Although he has been deer hunting many times, he says he has “only taken a shot once.” He has gone pheasant and dove hunting about a half dozen times.

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