Ok. Let’s Talk Gun Control.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Paretz Partensky Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Ok. Let’s talk gun control.

I’m writing this post for one purpose. That purpose is to talk about what so many of you evidently need to talk about: Gun control. It’s a big issue for these times, one that isn’t going to go away. We really do need to discuss it at Public Catholic, at the intersection of faith and public life.

This post is an attempt to separate the discussion from the post I wrote about the tragedy in Charleston. Getting into the gritty stuff of political discussion on that post makes me a bit queasy. I react as if we’re engaging in the mud pie throwing of a political discussion at a funeral.

I’m going to delete the posts that are incoming over there. Please move them here.

Now. To gun control.

The issues are black and white to everyone, on both sides of the argument. As usually happens in this time of terminal personal self-righteousness and culture war, everyone thinks the people on the other side of the debate are unreasonable demagogues with the consciences of serial killers.

I think — for what my thinking is worth — that both sides are trying to deal with the intractable problem of evil, manifesting itself in human actions, without acknowledging that this is what they are dealing with.

I am personally opposed to limiting second amendment rights beyond a few reasonable legal codicils. As usual, I have the votes to prove it.

But that does not mean that I think that people who favor gun control are acting out of ignorance or a craven desire to limit American freedoms. I think that they are good people who are focusing on a different set of dangers than I am.

That is a key point in this discussion: Both sides of the debate are advocating a dangerous position, and both sides refuse to see that their position is in fact a dangerous one to take. There are no easy, harmless solutions to the problem of the human propensity to murder other humans.

Among the dangers inherent in gun control is that it is first of all a cavalier approach to limiting a basic Constitutional right. It ignores the increase in the reach of government power and oversight of Americans that would be involved in such a change in the laws.

America is not Europe or even Canada. We are a heavily armed people. Here in Oklahoma, just about every home has at least one gun and most homes have several. Most Okies not only have guns, they know how to use them. They do use them, for target practice and hunting.

I’m pretty sure that this same situation prevails throughout most of the South and the Southwest. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t also exist in other parts of the country, as well. The political realities of gun control legislation seem to indicate that there are a lot of Americans out there who keep and bear arms.

The bureaucratic measures of filling out forms and undergoing checks of various sorts that office holders keep proposing would not dent the gun violence and mass killings we’ve seen. Ideas about limiting access to ammunition have been floated. But the political realities of that idea are probably even more extreme than those for gun control.

Not only that, but a lot of Okies are perfectly capable of making their own bullets. They do it now, as a hobby. I imagine that’s true of other, non-Okie folks, as well.

Removal of guns, such as has happened in other countries, is where this argument has to go. That would result in draconian government intrusion into the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It would also be even less effective than Prohibition was. The resistance from the public is not something I want to contemplate. Not only that, but, once again, Okies are perfectly capable of making their own guns, as are a lot of other people, I’m sure.

We need to be careful about making criminals of law-abiding citizens as a means of getting at a few individuals who are in the grip of a killing fever that the rest of us can’t explain or understand.

Also, mass murder is not just a function of guns. Fertilizer and gasoline will make a bomb. You can kill many innocent people and maim many others with it. You can blow up big buildings and murder little children with it. Rwanda suffered a genocide that slaughtered hundreds of thousands in a short time with clubs and machetes.

We deny the power of human ingenuity if we seriously think that limiting access to a category of inanimate objects will stop these mass murders.

It is a simple historical fact that we did not suffer these repeated mass killings earlier in the history of this country. Guns were even more ubiquitous in our past, but the tragedy of one or two people randomly killing strangers, co-workers or fellow students for no apparent reason is a relatively recent phenomena.

It’s the people themselves who have changed. And this is a result of societal breakdown that evidently predicates toward the creation of psychopaths and rage killers.

This leads me to the dangers of opposing gun control. People are being killed. We know that what happened in Charleston has happened before. We know that it will happen again. And again.

We know, whether we will admit it or not, that it takes less time and is easier to pick up a gun than it is to build a bomb. It’s neater and cleaner to kill people with the squeeze of a forefinger on a trigger than it is to build a bomb, swing a club or wield a machete.

The trouble with this entire debate is that it is about inanimate objects which are only tools, rather than the tool wielders. I think this is because we do not want to face what we have wrought.

These killings are not about mental illness. Mentally ill people, like guns, have been with us long before these killings started. They are also not about poverty, or racism.

While one murderer may kill a school full of little Amish girls and another murders black people at a prayer meeting, their brothers in murder may decide to go on a military base and start shooting, or to their place of employment or even to the local McDonalds. They may, as I remarked earlier, build a bomb, put it in a truck and park the truck under a day care center.

The evil is not in the guns. The evil is not in the fertilizer. The evil is not in the truck.

The evil is in the young men who commit these murders. More to the point, the evil is in the society that built the young men.

The one constant is that the murderers are nearly all young men. Most of them are from privileged backgrounds. They are not hungry, battered, sexually molested or on drugs. We say they are mentally ill, and some of them may be. But others clearly are not. All of them have sufficient wits to plan and commit what are fairly complicated acts of mass murder.

This problem we are dealing with is a symptom of a larger societal sickness. And that is what we don’t want to face.

The entire gun control debate is ruse of sorts that lets us believe in the lie of simple solutions and one-off fixes. Focusing on gun control allows us the luxury of avoiding the deeper discussions of what has gone wrong in our society that, after around 150 years of gun ownership without these mass murders, has been plunged into the hell of seeing them happen over and over again.

That discussion, which would take us into the subterranean world of the things we dare not say, is one that we are willing to accept mass murder and maybe even give up our freedoms to avoid.

But it is the only discussion that has a hope of yielding ideas which might actually address the problem.

 

 

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Guns. Blaming Father Terra for Trying to Defend Himself. And Raising Up Psychopaths.

I’m proud of you.

Public Catholic readers have not gone off the deep end, blaming Father Joseph Terra for the actions of the man who beat him and shot and killed his brother priest, Father Kenneth Walker.

Father Terra, a Catholic priest, was critically wounded when an assailant broke into the rectory in Phoenix that he shared with Father Walker. Father Walker was shot and killed. It seems that the assailant managed to get his hands on a gun owned by Father Terra, and that is the gun he used to shoot Father Walker.

Public Catholic readers have not attacked Father Terra for being a victim, and I’m proud of you. There has been a focus on the gun in our discussions here, which, I think is still a mis-direction. After all, Mr Gary Michael Moran, the individual who has confessed to this break-in/beating/murder was paroled just two months ago and he wasn’t in prison for singing too loud in church choir on Sunday morning.

Mr Moran has a long history of violent assaults. He was paroled for crimes that were quite similar to the one he committed against these two priests.

If we are so intent on blaming someone besides Mr Moran for this assault, we might look past Father Terra and take a gander at the parole board who put him on the street. Or, to dig a bit deeper, how about considering the lawmakers who wrote the laws that allowed the parole board to put him on the street? Or maybe we should blame Mr Moran’s mother/teacher/neighbor/dog for the crime.

Or, then again, maybe we could take a quick look at Mr Moran himself. Does anybody besides me think that he’s the guy who did this and he’s the one we should hold responsible?

Just sayin’.

Public Catholic readers have discussed this intelligently. But what about those other folks, the ones who are all but accusing Father Terra of being the miscreant in this situation?

It appears that the lightning rod in this is the gun. We’ve got a group of people in this country who are a little nutty when it comes to firearms. They consistently make inaccurate connections between criminal acts and the gun the criminal uses rather than looking at the criminal him or herself. You’d think, the way they talk, that guns had minds and souls and the ability to act on their own.

Every time we have another of these random mass murders — and they come along with regularity these days — when someone who is loaded down with weaponry goes to a public place and starts killing everybody he can, we see people denouncing the gun laws. Nobody seems to be brave enough to ask what we are doing to manufacture these killers in the first place.

What we have is a relatively new phenomena which has been escalating over the years until it is becoming a commonplace. The gun laws were actually much more liberal before this phenomena took hold than they are now.

I’ve read grisly stories about mass killings in other countries — one in China comes to mind — with very strong gun control laws that occurred when someone armed with a knife or axe invaded a school or other public place and, true to type, started killing everyone they could. I know people who’ve been in buildings that were bombed by terrorists. I also know someone who was crippled for life in a drive-by shooting where the assailant used a gun made with a piece of pipe.

I know this is going to make people angry, but guns are the means, they are not the reason. Banning guns, even banning them altogether, won’t fix this. Guns are not the problem.

We are.

The problem here is not the implement of destruction. The problem is our unwinding society and the feral young people we are raising up inside it. I’ve said this before to a chorus of “not trues” but we are manufacturing psychopaths in our society. Somewhere back in the not-too-distant past, we changed our methods of raising people and the result has been a growing number of mass murders, and a much larger number of random killings, drive-by shootings and other violence on a more individualized scale.

There have always been murderers. It does back to Cain. But this is different. And it’s international. And it’s getting worse.

How does this apply to the blame-Father-Terra viciousness that’s out there glopping around in the internet hive mind?

The blame-Father-Terra crowd is part of the problem. Their self-righteous refusal to think straight and their vicious verbiage misdirects our energies away from dealing with the situation at hand. I think a lot of it is deliberate so that we won’t have to accept responsibility and change our ways.

The situation at hand is that Father Terra is a wounded individual who has suffered an unjust, unwarranted and totally preventable attack from an individual who should never have been out on the streets in the first place. He is being blamed for attempting to defend himself and his brother priest.

What I think happened — and this is just a guess — is that Father Terra didn’t have what it took to pull that trigger. He probably wanted to use the gun to intimidate the attacker, not kill him. He is not a killer and he was doing battle with a man who is a killer. I think it was as simple as that.

Good, normal people are always at a disadvantage in these situations where they are savagely attacked without warning. The attacker knows what they are doing, they’ve got the advantage of surprise. Plus, they are bad. Bone deep bad. They don’t mind killing. They’ve come into this situation ready to hurt and to kill.

Mr Moran has a history of hurting people in violent assaults. He’s used to it. He doesn’t mind it. He went into that rectory with that intention. He is practiced at hurting people. He was also awake.

Father Terra was wakened from sleep, and almost certainly intending to handle things without killing anybody. Father Walker just woke up and came to his friend’s aid.

Yet they are the ones we are blaming. Them, and of course, the gun.

Meanwhile, the man who did all this, we’re just kind of ignoring. Because that’s our way. We ignore the offender and blame the victim — or those who try to aid the victim.

You know why? Because facing the real truth of this would mean that we would have to acknowledge that we can’t toss our kids around like things; that children need stable homes and safe families in which to grow up and we haven’t been providing them.

There is also the desire to avoid the other fact. We can’t disarm these monsters once we build them. We blame the victim because we’ve figured out on some level we don’t want to admit that most of the Mr Morans in this world aren’t fix-able. By the time a person gets to the level of repeat violent offender we can’t rewind them back to harmlessness. We can lock them up. Or, we can let them out and then blame the victim when they do it again.

But we can’t fix them.

It seems more productive to blame the victim and the gun, and maybe the lack of an alarm system or the slow response at 911, than to face the very difficult fact that we are manufacturing these guys with the way we raise our kids and that once we’ve manufactured them, they don’t have an off switch.

We can take away every freedom we have and lock ourselves into lockboxes and we still won’t be safe. if we want to stop these things, we’ve first got to face facts. And the fact is that we are building the Gary Michael Morans ourselves. If we want to stop having so many of them, we’ve got to stop building them.

Nothing else will work.

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Obama: ‘I’ve Got a Pen and I’ve Got a Phone and I’m Not Waiting for Legislation’

The presidency has been lurching toward elected dictator-ism ever since Harry Truman took us down the path of our first undeclared war in the guise of a “police action.”

Lyndon Johnson put the cherry on top with the not only undeclared war of Vietnam, but by lying to both Congress and the American people about the cause of that war. Since then, presidents very rarely consult Congress before they take this nation to war. They just more or less get up one fine morning and decide that, hey, we’ve been at peace for, say, 30 or 40 minutes, and it’s time to gin up another war.

Sad to say, the war-making dictatorship which American presidents have taken onto themselves is truly nothing compared to the way they have gradually set aside the lawmaking powers of Congress.

That’s how we got President Obama’s very excellent HHS Mandate and its attack on (read that destruction of) religious freedom.

Each president, every single one of them without regard to political party or theory of government, has advanced the presidency into new elected dictator territory.

Now, President Obama has called a press conference to announce that he no longer needs Congress to enact laws at all. He has, he tells us, “a pen and a phone” and that’s all he needs to de facto enact gun control, immigration reform and God only knows what else.

Congress could, if it got its collective head out of endless and useless sniping and fighting with itself, assert its rightful authority and take back these powers from the Prez. After all, presidents didn’t just reach out and snatch power away from Congress against Congress’ will. Congress gave it to them.

Presidential fiat is a direct consequence of the utter and complete will-less-ness of Congress. I think that members of Congress are secretly glad when the President acts in their stead. They’re glad, because a president running amuck and making law with his mighty pen removes the necessity of taking the hard votes off their shoulders. While the president does their job of lawmaking they are free to go to receptions, raise money for their outlandishly expensive campaigns and take pot shots at members of the opposite party in an attempt to achieve the only thing that matters to them: Control of one House of Congress or the other for their political party.

I keep paraphrasing Lily Tomlin when I write about this stuff. I can’t help doing it. It just fits. So let me say it again.

I try to be cynical about American politics, but I can’t keep up.

The President of the United States made the bold announcement that he’s all through waiting for Congress to pass legislation and he is anointing himself both Congress and President in one mighty, pen-wielding man.

Do you remember the 1950s movie The Ten Commandments? It’s was good movie stuff when Yul Brynner, who played Ramses, gazed off with that incredible screen presence of his and intoned in that resonating Yul Brynner voice, “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

That was walloping great theater.

However, when a president of the United States starts channeling his inner Ramses and doing essentially the same thing, it’s not theater. It is an overstepping and trammeling of the Constitutional separation of powers that has helped keep Americans free these past 200 plus years.

President Obama didn’t start this process of elected dictators sitting in the White House, and sadly, I don’t think he’s going to be the end of it. So long as Congress only cares about getting re-elected and making sure that their political party either takes or holds power, the presidency will continue to become more imperial.

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone,” the man said.

Who knew that’s all it took.

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would not wait for Congress to pass legislation to advance his policy priorities this year and said he was “getting close” to finishing a review of U.S. surveillance practices – to be unveiled on Friday.

Obama, speaking to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House, foreshadowed his upcoming State of the Union address and what appeared to be a new messaging strategy by emphasizing his ability to take executive actions without approval from lawmakers.

“We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” he said.

“I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions … and I’ve got a phone that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life,” he said.

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The Prez Who Hates the Bill of Rights and His Senatorial Minions Write a Little Law

The HHS Mandate. (First Amendment)

Surveilling the American people. (Fourth Amendment)

Gun control. (Second Amendment) 

Those pesky amendments keep getting in the way of better government. 

Thankfully, we have a Congress (who we trust soooo much) who, as everyone knows, always puts the needs of the American people ahead of any special interests, to take care of those little tripping-up points in the Constitution. These are the folks who sat on their thumbs while the administration pushed through a quasi law attacking religious freedom called the HHS Mandate. They are the ones who want to find some loophole to allow them to do away with the right to bear arms. 

Their latest little move is to rescind the legal protections of the free press to protect their sources. They are doing this by “defining” who is the “press” and doing it to their advantage. What they’re doing is limiting First Amendment protections to the “legitimate” (i.e., the corporate) press.

As anyone with half a brain knows, the corporate press is not free. They are owned. And they function more and more as a propaganda tool for the government, which also appears to be owned. 

It follows and it’s easy to follow that if the corporate press is the only legitimate press, then there is no free press. 

Slam dunk and done. First Amendment, (both parts) tamed and brought to heel. 

To put a cherry on top this rescission of the First Amendment, our Senators want to make the Attorney General of the United States the person who gets to decide which press is “legitimate” and worthy of First Amendment protections. 

Now, let’s think for a moment. Who appoints the Attorney General of the United States? 

The President of the United States. 

And who confirms this appointment?

The Senate of the United States.

Mr Fox, here’s your gun. You’re now in charge of the henhouse. 

From Breitbart:

An amendment is moving through the Senate Judiciary Committee that would essentially allow the government to determine who is a journalist for purposes of legal protection of sources. For purposes of protecting a source, a “journalist” under law would be anyone who: 

  • Works or worked for “an entity or service that disseminates news or information by means of newspaper; nonfiction book; wire service; news agency; news website, mobile application or other news or information service…news program; magazine or other periodical…or through television or radio broadcast…” These people would have to have the “primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information.” Opinion journalists might not be covered.
  • Bloggers and citizen journalists – citizens who commit acts of journalists without working for such an outlet – would not be covered, unless it was determined that “at the inception of the process of gathering the news or information sought, had the primary intent to investigate issues or events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information.” In other words, the government – the Department of Justice – would now determine whether primary intent was news distribution or political concerns.
  • Those explicitly excluded from protection include those “whose principal function, as demonstrated by the totality of such person or entity’s work, is to publish primary source documents that have been disclosed to such person or entity without authorization.” Glenn Greenwald, please contact your lawyer.

 

 

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Shotguns, Flying Robots and the NSA

This well-produced video gives a funny twist to some serious problems.

I think my favorite is Vice President Biden.

Which one do you like best?

YouTube Preview Image

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Congress Considers More Gun Control and Less Gun Control

 

Gun control has become a metaphor for the way our Congress doesn’t work these days. 

Proponents of the defeated gun background checks bill are looking at ways to amend it in hopes of getting the votes of push it through. Meanwhile, at least one senator, as well as the House of Representatives are pushing measures to either relax existing gun control laws or broaden situations where guns are allowed.

My question is, why try to jump the Grand Canyon flat-footed if you’re a turtle?

What I mean by that is that politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. But it appears that it’s become the art of public demagoguery in order to rally your voter base. The desire to actually accomplish anything for this country appears to be dead.

I do not see how constantly erecting straw man legislation and then voting on it does anything for the people. I know that there are times when a lawmaker will introduce legislation they don’t have much hope of passing to make a statement about deeply-held principles. I’ve done this myself. But when this becomes the only thing that Congress is doing, it starts looking like cheap demagoguery designed to deepen the culture wars and lock your sliver of the vote in place for the next election.

We call these kinds of things “hero deals,” and done in moderation, they are not only harmless, but can serve a purpose. However, the purpose of a governing body is to govern, not do endless “hero deals” for the cameras.

Surely there is something besides pumping more money into unneeded defense contracts and going on lobbyist-provided junkets that the members of Congress can agree on. Frankly, I’d like to lock all of them up in a dormitory and make them eat beans and sleep on cots until they agree to start governing for the common good and what is best for the people of the United States of America.

Given the deference they are accustomed to, I think one night of this torture should break almost all of them.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators backing gun control are discussing ways to revise the defeated Senate background check bill to help win the votes they need to resuscitate the measure.

Among the changes they might consider are limiting the fees buyers would pay at gun shows, adding provisions dealing with the mentally ill and altering language extending the background checkrequirement to all online sales, senators said Tuesday.

Supporters fell five votes short when the Senate defeated legislation last month that would have extended required federal background checks to more buyers.

That vote, four months after the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at a school in Newtown, Conn., was a defeat for President Barack Obama and gun control advocates. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised to revisit the issue, perhaps by early summer.

While Senate Democrats hunted more votes to expand background checks, the Republican-run House took a step in the opposite direction Wednesday, voting to make the system less restrictive for some veterans.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted by voice to require a judge or magistrate to declare a veteran is dangerous before the name is entered in the background check system’s database of people barred from getting firearms. Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs sends the system the names of veterans it has declared unable to manage their financial affairs — 127,000 names since 1998.

Supporters of the measure said veterans who can’t handle their money aren’t necessarily dangerous. The department opposes the measure, saying veterans in the database already have the ability to appeal.

Gun rights advocates were also taking the offensive in the Senate.

The chamber planned to vote Wednesday on a measure by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., allowing firearms on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers if it didn’t conflict with state law. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Gun Control, The Gun Lobby, the Prez and Voters Who Mean It

We had weather in Oklahoma last night. 

It wasn’t too bad; just some small hail, winds, driving rain and a couple of little tornadoes. But anytime we have weather, we watch Gary England. Weatherman in Oklahoma is a serious job. People trust their lives to those folks on tv and most of us feel safest when the person we’re trusting is Gary England.

Watching the weather gave my family and I a healthy dose of other news, along with watching the radar screen and storm chasers. We worked in some channel flipping to see what was happening with the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco. Somehow or other that led to a momentary pause at MSNBC in which they were deploring what they said was the “gun lobby’s” total “control” of Congress.

This particular public deploring was a reaction to the defeat of President Obama’s plan for strict background checks on would-be gun purchasers. I didn’t watch it long enough to sort it out, but I’m betting that the defeat was more difficult for the bill’s supporters to take because it was handed to them by the Democratically controlled Senate instead of the Republican-controlled House.

I mean, what’s a prez to do when his own party leaves him standing at the curb like that?
Enter the “gun lobby” boogie man. 

I don’t mind when critics of legislation get upset over the hammerlock special interests have over so much of our public policy in this country. In fact, I share their pain. But I am little tired of hearing about the draconian “gun lobby.” 

My experience as a voting member of a legislative body for these past 17 years is that the “gun lobby” couldn’t persuade anybody to do anything if the people themselves didn’t back them up. The real “lobby” that killed this legislation is almost certainly the American people. 

That’s a painful pill for gun control backers to swallow. It appears to be so tough that they will not admit the truth of it, no matter how obvious it is.

The people of this country do not, by and large, want gun control. You can slice it and dice it and poll it until your spreadsheet software crashes and it doesn’t change anything. If you pass a gun control law, people who haven’t voted since heck was a pup will register just for the purpose of voting against you.

Back in 1994, I had relatives who had never voted in their lives and who were no more political than your average goldfish get themselves registered to go vote against a Congressman who was running for the United States Senate. Why did they do this? The Congressman had voted for the Brady Bill that President Clinton passed.

That, of course, is part of the  reason why polls don’t mean much with these fire-brand issues. Pollsters poll “likely voters,” which is another way of saying that they poll people who are in the habit of voting. But issues like gun control get the Saturday Night Wrestling crowd off the couch and out to the polls.

This kind of voter can not be massaged. They can not be persuaded by other issues. There is nothing you can say or do that will change their minds once they’ve set them on voting you out of office. If you represent certain parts of these United States and you do something as dumb as vote against these folks on one of their I-mean-it issues, you’d better be ready to pack up your office and go home, because your time in elected office is through.

That, and not the draconian machinations of the “gun lobby,” is why that bill bit the dust yesterday. It is also why if it hadn’t bitten the dust, the United States Senate would most likely be in Republican control come December 2014.

These aren’t tea leaves you need a sooth sayer to read for you. They’re the plain facts of what matters to a big swath of the electorate in a good many states.

Based on the news stories I’ve read, President Obama is steamed about losing his bill. He’s pledged to fight on and has accused the “gun lobbies and their allies” of “willfully lying” about the legislation. Frankly, I find the notion of a president who publicly promised conscience and religious exemptions in order to pass the Affordable Health Care Act and then turned around and signed the HHS Mandate accusing anyone of “willfully lying” to be pretty rich.

Whatever.

My only thought is that if the Senators in question represent people who don’t want gun control as much as Oklahomans don’t want it, they’d be wise to stick with what they did yesterday. The only reason to go against your constituents when they feel as strongly as people around here do about this is if you personally believe in it enough to sacrifice your career for it.

The following excerpt from a Newsmax article will give you a taste of the President’s angst over this vote.

An angry President Barack Obama denounced Senate Republicans on Wednesday for failing to pass stricter background checks on gun purchases, calling it a “pretty shameful day” for Washington.

Speaking in the Rose Garden as the families of some of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings looked on, Obama vowed to press on in the fight for tougher gun laws.

“Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders,” he said, standing alongside former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who left Congress after suffering a life-threatening gunshot wound to the head. “A few minutes ago a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even when these families looked on from the gallery.”

Earlier, Senate Republicans, backed by rural-state Democrats, blocked legislation to tighten restrictions on the sale of firearms.

In recent weeks, the families of some of the victims of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School pressed lawmakers with stories of personal loss, as Second Amendment advocates countered that none of the proposed changes would have stopped the grisly tragedy.

Attempts to ban assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines also faced certain defeat in a series of showdown votes.

The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. A total of 41 Republicans and five Democrats pulled together to scuttle the plan.

“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama said, referring to fears by some that the law would allow for creation of a federal gun registry.

The president alluded to polls that peaked at 90 percent of Americans supporting expanded background checks for convicted criminals and the severely mentally ill. He said “90 percent” of Democrats supported the bill, but “90 percent” of Republicans opposed it.

“There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this,” Obama said. “It came down to politics.”
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/Obama-Senate-background-checks/2013/04/17/id/500024?promo_code=F323-1&utm_source=Life_Site_News&utm_medium=nmwidget&utm_campaign=widgetphase1#ixzz2QqimRzua Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

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ACLU Says Gun Control Legislation Infringes on Civil Liberties

This is a man bites dog story. Chris Calabrese, a lobbyist for the ACLU, has said that the gun control bill pending in the United States Senate may infringe on privacy rights and civil liberties.

That’s the problem when you create a sociopath-producing society. You end up having to hermetically seal the whole population to try to keep these monstrous few from going into movie theaters and schools and killing people. Instead of punishing the guilty, you end up using police state tactics on everyone.

It doesn’t surprise me that the proposed gun control legislation raises questions about privacy rights and civil liberties. Anyone who’s ever thought about it for longer than five minutes knows there is no way to have effective gun control without doing exactly that. While I realize that other countries have gun control, I would wager that their citizens do not have the Constitutional guarantees of individual freedoms, including the freedom to bear arms, that Americans do.

What I find surprising is that the ACLU is willing to say it. After the HHS Mandate, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that the ACLU is in the bag for politics, rather than defense of the Bill of Rights.

While this interview is a long way from an official ACLU position, it still surprises.

From Daily Caller:

As Senate Democrats struggle to build support for new gun control legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union now says it’s among those who have “serious concerns” about the bill.

Those concerns have the capacity to prove a major setback to Sen. Harry Reid’s current gun bill, which includes language from earlier bills introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, a top lobbyist for the ACLU announced that the group thinks Reid’s current gun bill could threaten both privacy rights and civil liberties.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/04/04/exclusive-aclu-says-reids-gun-legislation-could-threaten-privacy-rights-civil-liberties/#ixzz2PWQfooQ5

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Building the Stepford Congress: Chicago Dems and Gun Control

 Puppet politicians are the order of the day in today’s campaign world.

If an elected official crosses the party line, they may find themselves being attacked by their own party, instead of the other guys.

Just ask former Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Halverson of Chicago. Rep. Halverson is the front runner in a field of 15 (previsously 16) candidates for the Congressional seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Junior.

During her time in office, Rep Halverson racked up a mixed position on gun control. She voted for some gun control measures and against others. She also stated then as she does now that gun control is not the answer to the violent deaths in this country. Her believes that we need to look at the social order itself for our long-term solutions.

This position is clear evidence of independent thinking on Halverson’s part. Sadly, it appears that independent thinking is something that the Democratic Party is will no longer allow it’s elected officials to do.

The response by the national Democratic Party to Rep Halverson’s candidacy has evidently been to load in huge amounts of money against the Congresswoman. The greatest irony is that they appear to be working with the Republican New York mayor and his “super pac” in an effort to defeat Congresswoman Halverson.

I remember years ago when Democrats prided themselves on being the party where people could think for themselves. We had more than a bit of contempt for the threats and bullying we saw the Republicans heap on one another. We didn’t think much of those folks who did what they were told and never had a thought of their own. Sadly, the Democrats have become more and more like the Republicans in this matter until now they are virtually indistinguishable from them.

In both political parties, elected officials either toe the line or pay the price of being attacked by their own party. People they thought were friends become enemies in a single hour. That is politics in today’s America. It’s ugly. It’s cruel. It is totally without personal honor. And it works to silence the voice of the people in elections.

Enter the Stepford Congress and it’s unending failure to act on behalf of the common good. Instead of independent thinking what we have instead are a bunch of legislative “mules” who carry legislation for special interests and do whatever they are told by the left and right wing nuts who control them.

I am not commenting specifically about the gun control issue in this post. I would feel the same if the situation was reversed and the Congresswoman was being attacked by her political party for favoring gun control. The issue at hand is not what an individual political candidate thinks. It is whether or not they are going to be allowed to think for themselves.

I really do not care who the voters in this Congressional district chose to be their voice in Washington. I only hope that whoever they pick he or she is an independent thinker and not someone who will be part of the Stepford Congress.

A Fox News interview with Congresswoman Halverson is below. I’m impressed by how hard she tries to take the high road in all this.

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Should You Bring Your Guns to Church?

I voted against  a bill to allow clergy to carry firearms while conducting church services about 9 months ago.

My reason?

The bill gave me the creeps.

I know that sounds like a poor way to make a decision about legislation, and I have to admit it wasn’t one of the most deeply-considered votes I’ve cast, but the bill took me by surprise. I was unaware of it until the Floor Leader introduced the author so he could bring it up for a vote on the House floor.

You have to make decisions in that ready-set-vote fashion a lot of the time. Those are the times when it’s not good to try to over-think in a rush. Quickie analysis is often stupid analysis. I’ve found that my first impulse may not be always the one I would chose after I think it over, but it more often is than not. So, when I’m pushed, I go with what my gut and my considerable legislative experience tell me.

I voted against the bill for the simple reason that the idea of preachers packing heat during church services gave me the creeps.

It appears that this bill was the harbinger of things to come. A number of states have introduced and passed legislation that allows parishioners to bring their guns to church, and the number appears to be growing. Proponents of these measures say that 70 people were “violently killed on faith-based property” during church services last year.

I have no idea if they were killed by crazies bursting into churches and shooting people or by rapist/murderers breaking in and attacking church secretaries or what. That information would make  a difference in how I vote on these things in the future.

To be honest, I’m not sure what I think about all these ideas except to say that they are treating the symptom and not the disease. The reason for the senseless violence we are seeing lies, not in inanimate objects, but in ourselves.

I never thought about these things until the Oklahoma City Bombing, but I’ve thought about them quite a lot since then. I still don’t have any quick-fix, short-term solutions for what we are experiencing at the hands of these violent young men. However, I do think the long-term solution is much harder than we want to admit and that this is part of the reason why we reach out for quick fixes involving weapons instead of  more long-term solutions that deal with the people who weld them.

A Baptist Press article about the pistol-packin’ congregants say in part:

NASHVILLE (BP) — As gun control takes high priority on Capitol Hill, state legislatures increasingly are allowing concealed guns in our most sacred place, the church, either for personal protection or for worshippers designated as church security personnel.

Arkansas, on Feb. 4, became the eighth state to pass legislation allowing concealed guns specifically in churches. In a lopsided bipartisan vote, state legislators voted to allow each church to decide whether individuals with concealed carry permits could take guns in church for personal protection.

“A person should be allowed to carry a firearm in a church that permits the carrying of a firearm for personal security,” the Arkansas Church Protection Act reads, deeming such an option “immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, and safety” because “personal security is increasingly important.”

Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming also have laws allowing concealed guns specifically in churches, with varied stipulations, including the possession of a proper permit, training, church approval and congregational awareness, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Additionally, about 20 other states allow guns in churches because of “right to carry” laws, but have not specifically focused on churches in legislation. (Read more here.)

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