The Circus Has Come to Town

Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy appeared on CNN’s ‘State of Union’ on Sunday to discuss many things, but one particular subject sparked quite a response from the governor. As one of the country’s strictest gun control legislation goes into affect in Connecticut just four months after the Newtown shooting, the NRA president Wayne LaPierre has wasted no time publicly criticizing the new legislation as alleged fears spread that the gun manufactures might flee the state. The governor has this to say reports the Huff Post:

“Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus. They get the most attention and that’s what he’s paid to do. This guy is so out of whack, it’s unbelievable. 92% of the American people want universal background checks. I can’t get on a plane as the governor of the state of Connecticut without somebody running a background check on me. Why should you be able to buy a gun?….We’ve decided that public safety trumps all of that (regarding gun manufacturing). I hope they stay and manufacture products that can legally be sold. But if they leave, that will be a decision they make. We’re not making them leave.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, families of the Connecticut school shooting along with President Barack Obama are walking the halls of Congress to garner support for stricter gun control regulations. The group has already helped to push the nation’s most restrictive gun law that was signed by Gov. Malloy, D-Conn, on Thursday. As Congress returns from spring break the families plan to spend the next weeks on Capitol Hill where the gun control debate has reached a stalemate. Using their own personal stories and the lasting affects of the Dec 14 shooting, the group hopes to speak to senators who have yet to support gun legislation. As David Wheeler, who lost a 6 year old son, Benjamin, commented to the Associated Press: “I’m not a constitutional scholar and I’m not a Second Amendment specialist. I don’t know the ins and outs of gun policy but I know …,” his voice trailed off as a sob catches in his throat. “But I now know one of the things that no father should ever know. And in our system of representative government we have to use our voices.”

Many of the families affected by the Newtown Massacre at Sandy Hook come from diverse political backgrounds and do not always agree on policy reports the Associated Press. The group includes gun owners, Democrats and Republicans. Mark Mattioli, who lost his 6 year old son James, attended a NRA news conference last week to endorse  a proposal to train school staffers as armed officers, while relatives of nine victims have a non-profit group called the Sandy Hook Promise who came together to sign letters Thursday to senators asking them to vote for expanded background checks, stricter gun trafficking laws and ban ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds. The magazine Adam Lanza used a magazine capable of 30 rounds of ammunition firing 154 shots during the four minute rampage in the school and stopped to reload giving 11 children the chance to escape according to the Associated Press. Nicole Hockley who lost her 6 year old son, Dylan, in the classroom where Lanza reloaded commented that, “They ran for their lives. Dylan was not so fortunate. If there were lower capacity magazine clips, there’s a chance Dylan would be here with me today.” She drives home her point by handing out cards to lawmakers with her son pictured in a Superman T-shirt and grinning with the caption “Honor his life 3/8/06-12/14/12. Stand with us for change. Now is the time.” Bill Sherlach also passes out a similar card with his Wife, Mary, a school psychologist who died, pictured asking lawmakers, “Can you show the same courage in your vote today?”

As strong as the message may be to lawmakers, it’s a tough road ahead as Congress has a strong tradition of protecting gun rights as barring large capacity magazines are difficult and senators cannot agree on the expanded background check. The Sandy Hook Promise stated days after the shooting as a group of neighbors came together and decided to take action to heal the community and aid victims’ families. The group has so far shoveled driveways, given funds to those on hard economic times and use their personal and professional connections to support public policy from mental health to gun safety. The co-founder Tim Makris had this to say, “This is not about just guns. The gun is the enabler, the cause is mental health.” Ubnfortunately for COngress, the iussue befoe them is guns. THe families of victims watchs on March 28 as Obama spoke about Congress and the importance of his proposal: “Less than 100 days ago that happened, and the entire country was shocked. And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten. I haven’t forgotten those kids.” Obama plans to meet with the families Monday when he travels to Connecticut for a speech at the University of Hartford Sports Center close to the capitol where the governor signed the sweeping new gun restriction into law Thursday according to the Associated Press.

As the Death Toll Rises, The Great Gun Debate Rages On

From the Debates at home to the debate abroad, the U.S. needs to address and take a firm stance on gun control as the death toll rises. Everyday more people are dying from gun related deaths and nobody has address the real issue which is not the second amendment but finding better ways to regulate the gun trade in America. Here is a compilation of events that will make any American whether for or against gun control to think twice about what is really important.

Hitler Gun Control

When Ohio’s school board president posted her opposition to gun control she used Adolf Hitler’s image to get her point across, while a well known conservative commentator argued about the efforts to restrict guns he commented that if the Jews in Poland had more arms there would of been more survivors of the Holocaust. In the months since the Newtown shooting in Connecticut, some gun rights supports have compared the U.S. gun control efforts to Nazi restrictions on firearms arguing the government is leaving the people defenseless against tyrants reports the Associated Press. Isn’t that what the military is for? However some experts argue that the argument distorts history since Hitler loosened tight gun laws governing World War I Germany evening barring Jews from owning weapons and moved to take them away. Oh those fact checkers strike again. Gun advocates who cite Hitler in the U.S. gun debate fail to realize that Jews in the 1930s Germany were a small population with few guns before Nazis take over, even though it fits the current debate the truth is that Hitler’s firearms laws made no difference in the Jews’ survival. As historian Steve Paulsson, an expert whose family survived the city’s destruction, said, “Objectively, it might have made things worse” if the Jews who fought the Nazis in the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising in Poland had more and better guns. Nonetheless the comparison remains strong online as former Major League Baseball pitcher John Rocker wrote in January, “Absolute certainties are a rare thing in this life, but one I think can be collectively agreed upon is the undeniable fact that the Holocaust would have never taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler’s Germany had the right to bear arms and defended themselves with those arms.” National Rifle Association President David Keene thinks the analogy is appropriate – Gov Andrew Cuomo depicted as Hitler at a New York rally in February- during an radio interview on March 1 saying, “Folks that are cognizant of the history, not just in Germany but elsewhere, look back to that history and say we can’t let that sort of thing happen here.”

However according to the Associated Press, the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, has asked that Hitler and the Nazis be kept out of the debate saying the rhetoric “is such an absurdity and so offensive and just undermines any real understanding of what the Holocaust was about. If they do believe it, they’re making no serious examination of what the Nazi regime was about.” As Harcourt explains, “To suggest that the targeting of Jews in any of the gun regulations or any of the other regulations is somehow tied to Nazis’ view of guns is entirely misleading because the Nazis believed in a greater deregulation of firearms. Firearms were viewed, for the good German, were something to which they had rights.” U.S. gun rights advocates disagree pointing to the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising where 700 armed Jews fought off  a large German force for days until they fled to tunnels and the ghetto was burn to the ground house by house. The problem with this argument as Paulsson points o9ui is that if the Polish Jews would of limited their resistance the Nazi troops might not have destroyed the ghettos allowing more to survive and escape, but when they chose to fight other times in 1930s and 1940s Poland it incited vicious counter attacks. However, Heller a gun activist said the uprising and ore guns might not have stopped the Holocaust but gave the Jews a fighting chance and saved many from the concentration camp according to the Associated Press. But Paulsson, whose mother was freed from Auschwitz at the end of the war, dismisses this twisting of facts: “Ideologues always try to shoehorn history into their own categories and read into the past things that serve their own particular purposes.”

Thousands of gun deaths since Newtown

The Huffington Post has tracked gun-related deaths in the United States since Newtown. Click here for an interactive map of those who have died. In the 98 days since the Sandy Hook Massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, guns have killed at least 2,243 more people. Click here to read about the thousands of gun deaths since by Huff Post “One Nation Under Guns.”

Arms Trade Treaty Nra

The United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty, an international convention on small arms sales now being negotiated at the United Nations this week and next in New York, has drawn more than a 100 demonstrators at Lafayette Square on Friday urging the U.S. to back the treaty according to Huff Post. The supporters are optimistic even though the treaty would face political and policy hurdles. Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty Internation, told the Huff Post before addressing the protestors across from the White House that, “We are still very hopeful that we’ll end up with a treaty. The important thing is [that the Arms Trade Treaty must] protect human lives and protect human rights. We will get a treaty, the question is ‘how good is it, how strong is it?’ That’s a bit up in the air right now.” The intended purpose for the treaty would be to prevent the transfer of arms across boarders to governments using  them in war crimes, genocide and other human rights violations. There are a few sticking points though. Among the most contentious was ammunition sales as opposed to weapons sales would be covered in the treaty as the United States delegation opposes including ammunition in the ATT which has angered a number of protestors. As Shetty explains to the Huff Post: “The argument the U.S. is making is a very practical one, saying that it’s very difficult to track [things like ammunition]. But there are many governments that produce ammunition, and they’re not blocking [it from being included in the treaty].” As Paul O’Brien, the vice president of policy and campaigns for the human rights group Oxfam explains, “We’re confident we’re going to get something. But something isn’t good enough. If we don’t get a strong treaty, it’s not going to mean anything for the people on the wrong end of violence.”

What would it be without the National Rifle Association voicing its concern? Well of course the NRA chimed in along with strong resistance stateside from gun rights advocates portraying the treaty as in international poly to deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights states the Huff Post as NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre demanded last summer during a U.N. speech: “We have watched [the treaty] with increasing concern and, one year ago, I delivered … our objections to including civilian arms in the ATT. I said then, and I will repeat now, that the only way to address NRA’s objections is to simply and completely remove civilian firearms from the scope of the treaty.” During the predawn hours of Saturday, two amendments were put forth in the Senate: one to prohibit the U.S. from signing the ATT which was approved in the Senate 53-46 and the other to affirm that the international treaty would not trump the U.S. Constitution which passed by a voice vote. According to Huff Post, both amendments will be worked on in committee then proceed to the House as the Senate departed for Easter recess after passing the budget bill.

 

 

Wayne LaPierre, NRA Leader, Opposes Expanded Background Checks

Wayne LaPierre, NRA Leader, Opposes Expanded Background Checks.

As January comes to a close, there seems to be no resolution or curbing of gun violence in America with more random and calculating shooting happening everyday. The NRA still won’t acknowledge this fact and continues to crusade for themselves I mean the pro-second amendment gun carrying membership. The gun debate will surely go on for a long while and I do not see it ending as long as the NRA has anything to do with it.

In Washington, the chief executive of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, said Wednesday he opposes closing any loophole that requires private sellers to only sell firearms after a background check. This is contradictory to his previous testimony saying that there should be no loopholes no exceptions a criminal background check needs to be done.  Wonder why his tune has changed since 1999? He argues that universal background check would put too much strain on the little guy and that criminal will buy the gun illegally anyway. During the Senate Judiciary Hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the purpose of doing the criminal background check is to prevent criminals from purchasing the guns and addressing LaPierre said,”You missed that point completely!” The audience erupted in cheers as LaPierre argued with Durbin that he has missed the point making the committee Chairman to bang the gavel and call to order. La Pierre believes the current laws are not was is causing the problem, but the weak enforcement of current background checks means it’s a waste of time to expand them to include every gun sale even by the hobbyists and collectors.

 

The comments during the question and answer portion followed a prepared speech by LaPierre given to the committee which is looking to curb gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Massacre. Also testifying on Wednesday was Mark Kelley, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) who suffered a near fatal gunshot wound in Tuscon in 2011 as well as violence prevention experts. Giffords gave an emotional opening testimony before the committee saying that,”Speaking is difficult but I need to say something important: violence is a problem. Too many children are dying…Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Her husband Mark Kelley called for increase background checks, to remove limitations on collecting gun violence data by health organizations and urged the enactment of federal gun trafficking statue that increases penalties for illegal activity. “Our rights are paramount. But our responsibilities are serious,” Kelly said. “And as a nation we are not taking responsibility for the gun rights our Founding Fathers conferred upon us. Gabby and I are pro-gun ownership. We are anti-gun violence.”