Category Archives: guns

Guns Everywhere: Mistakes Will Be Made

gun collection

Imagine that we all have guns, as many guns as we need to make us comfortable or happy. Suppose we all open carry our guns everywhere we go?

Do our law enforcers want our help? Do they need our help? Do they want people out and about in America shooting bad guys (or women)? Are we certain that we will only use these guns in mass shooting situations? What could go wrong with that? Will we still have any effective system of law and order? It is already difficult for police when they have to enforce everyday law and order, and also act like a military force to stop terrorists from doing their worst. We have seen the effects of having to be hyper alert. Mistakes will be made.

It does seem possible that we might like to know how to defend ourselves if we are invaded. But we have seen mass shooters with all sorts of ideologies. Radicalized Islamic terrorists have been rare in this country so far. Until we are at war on our own soil having everyone running around with guns seems useless and, I don’t know about you, but it frightens me. I cannot believe that the police really want us all taking justice into our own hands.

The GOP is “rabble rousing” and this is a dangerous thing. Background checks for everyone in any gun buying/selling transaction is such a sensible beginning that it would be unclear why we can’t get this done if I didn’t see the behavior of Republicans. The newest argument against background checks and other laws like denying people assault rifles is that California has tough gun laws and it made no difference there. Having tough laws in one state is not the same as having tough standards nationally. We can’t even pass a law that requires background checks for people on the terrorist no-fly list. To protect a few gun lovers who may be on that list by mistake we must all live with a loophole that could be deadly. I realize that right now in Congress the GOP “has the conn” but I don’t have to like it. And I don’t have to like people like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or even Lindsey Graham who are too extreme on this issue to ever be our President (I hope).

On the other hand, we the people are not busing ourselves to D.C. We are not voting with our feet. We are passionate on both sides, but we are just signing petitions and talking on Facebook and Twitter. We could try tighter background checks for a year, keep statistics, and see if any conclusions could be drawn, but we won’t.

Apparently, in this case, only a head count will do – only a mass demonstration on the DC Mall will make a dent in the GOP fervor. Winter is coming, though, and a mass demonstration is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Are sporting good shops offering body armor yet?

What Ted Cruz had to say…

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/ted-cruz-tout-second-amendment-support-iowa-gun-range-n474431

By Nancy Brisson

The Paradox of our Second Amendment Rights

 
 
People argue with great passion to protect their Second Amendment rights and keep their guns. They feel that they are fighting nothing less than an attack on their freedom and on the US Constitution. But everything under the sun is a paradox and winning one right may jeopardize another. As more people own guns, more and more people seem to be killing or at least wounding policemen/women. This is making our police force more and more fearful; it is making them adopt harsher approaches to perceived lawbreakers and, in the end, may produce an almost military police force that always responds with excessive force in order to protect their own. In this way the very guns that people fight to keep to preserve their freedom, will eventually rob us all of the compassionate role policemen often try to employ in our communities. Instead of “tough love” they will just be tough.

We don’t often have photos of our police appearing on the TV news in riot gear, as they do in other nations. Perhaps that is because Americans are too well fed and complacent. We certainly have some current issues that we could afford to demonstrate about (peacefully, of course). However, in the near future, if we want to hold a peaceful demonstration we may be met by our once relatively benign police force decked out with tear gas and truncheons and those scary body shields. You have the right to own a gun or as many guns as you like, but don’t be surprised it exercising this right robs you of others.

 

Here are some scary reports contained in an article published on salon.com with the title,

Sal Culosi is dead because he bet on a football game — but it wasn’t a bookie or a loan shark who killed him. His local government killed him, ostensibly to protect him from his gambling habit.
Several months earlier at a local bar, Fairfax County, Virginia, detective David Baucum overheard the thirty-eight-year-old optometrist and some friends wagering on a college football game. “To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends,” a friend of Culosi’s told me shortly after his death. “None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting fifty bucks or so on the Virginia–Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation.” Baucum apparently did. After overhearing the men wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi as a cover to begin investigating him. During the next several months, he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were just more fun wagers between friends to make watching sports more interesting. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day. Under Virginia law, that was enough for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. And that’s when they brought in the SWAT team.
On the night of January 24, 2006, Baucum called Culosi and arranged a time to drop by to collect his winnings. When Culosi, barefoot and clad in a T-shirt and jeans, stepped out of his house to meet the man he thought was a friend, the SWAT team began to move in. Seconds later, Det. Deval Bullock, who had been on duty since 4:00 AM and hadn’t slept in seventeen hours, fired a bullet that pierced Culosi’s heart.
Sal Culosi’s last words were to Baucum, the cop he thought was a friend: “Dude, what are you doing?”

 

Here’s one more from the same report:

In 2007 a Dallas SWAT team actually raided a Veterans of Foreign Wars outpost for hosting charity poker games. Players said the tactics were terrifying. One woman urinated on herself. When police raided a San Mateo, California, poker game in 2008, card players described cops storming the place “in full riot gear” and “with guns drawn.” The games had buy-ins ranging from $25 to $55. Under California law, the games were legal so long as no one took a “rake,” or a cut of the stakes. No one had, but police claimed the $5 the hosts charged players to buy refreshments qualified as a rake. In March 2007, a small army of local cops, ATF agents, National Guard troops, and a helicopter raided a poker game in Cary, North Carolina. They issued forty-one citations, all of them misdemeanors. A columnist at the Fayetteville Observer remarked, “They were there to play cards, not to foment rebellion. . . . [I] wonder . . . what other minutiae, personal vices and petty crimes are occupying [the National Guard’s] time, and where they’re occupying it. . . . Until we get this sorted out, better not jaywalk. There could be a military helicopter overhead.”
Police have justified this sort of heavy-handedness by claiming that people who run illegal gambling operations tend to be armed, a blanket characterization that absurdly lumps neighborhood Hold ’Em tournaments with Uncle Junior Soprano’s weekly poker game. And in any case, if police know that people inside an establishment are likely to be armed, it makes even less sense to come in with guns blazing. Police have also defended the paramilitary tactics by noting that poker games are usually flush with cash and thus tend to get robbed. That too is an absurd argument, unless the police are afraid they’re going to raid a game at precisely the same moment it’s getting robbed. Under either scenario, the police are acknowledging that the people playing poker when these raids go down have good reason to think that the men storming the place with guns may be criminals, not cops.

I don’t know about you, but I find this startling and somewhat terrifying. Here’s some more from the same article:

 

But the mission creep hasn’t stopped at poker games. By the end of the 2000s, police departments were sending SWAT teams to enforce regulatory law. In August 2010, for example, a team of heavily armed Orange County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies raided several black-and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Orlando area. More raids followed in September and October. The Orlando Sentinel reported that police held barbers and customers at gunpoint and put some in handcuffs, while they turned the shops inside out. The police raided a total of nine shops and arrested thirty-seven people.
By all appearances, these raids were drug sweeps. Shop owners told the Sentinel that police asked them where they were hiding illegal drugs and weapons. But in the end, thirty-four of the thirty-seven arrests were for “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor for which only three people have ever served jail time in Florida.
The most disturbing aspect of the Orlando raids was that police didn’t even attempt to obtain a legal search warrant. They didn’t need to, because they conducted the raids in conjunction with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Despite the guns and handcuffs, under Florida law these were licensure inspections, not criminal searches, so no warrants were necessary.
That such “administrative searches” have become an increasingly common way for police to get around the Fourth Amendment is bad enough. More disturbing is the amount of force they’re opting to use when they do. In the fall of 2010, police in New Haven, Connecticut, sent a SWAT team to a local bar to investigate reports of underage drinking. Patrons were lined up at gunpoint while cops confiscated cell phones and checked IDs. There have been similar underage drinking SWAT raids on college fraternities. The Atlanta City Council recently agreed to pay a $1 million settlement to the customers and employees of a gay nightclub after a heavy-handed police raid in which police lined up sixty-two people on the floor at gunpoint, searched for drugs, and checked for outstanding warrants and unpaid parking tickets. Police conducted the September 2009 raid after undercover vice cops claimed to have witnessed patrons and employees openly having sex at the club. But the police never obtained a search warrant. Instead, the raid was conducted under the guise of an alcohol inspection. Police made no drug arrests, but arrested eight employees for permit violations.
Federal appeals courts have upheld these “administrative searches” even when it seems obvious that the real intent was to look for criminal activity as long as the government can plausibly claim that the primary purpose of the search was regulatory. In the case of the Orlando raids, simply noting the arrests of thirty-four unlicensed barbers would be enough to meet the test.
But the Fourth Amendment requires that searches be “reasonable.” If using a SWAT team to make sure a bar isn’t serving nineteen-year-olds is a reasonable use of force, it’s hard to imagine what wouldn’t be. At least a couple of federal appeals courts have recognized the absurdity. In 2009 the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck a small blow for common sense, allowing a civil rights suit to go forward against the sheriff’s department of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, after a warrantless SWAT raid on a nightclub thinly veiled as an administrative search. And in 1995 the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit made an even broader ruling, finding that having probable cause and a warrant for the arrest of one person in a club did not justify a SWAT raid and subsequent search of the entire club and everyone inside.
But other legal challenges to paramilitary-style administrative searches have been less successful.

 

You might want to chase down this article using the link above as there is a lot more to this argument. It may not be an excess of caution and fear of imminent death that is making the police act like a militia, but it is not something Americans should accept, this escalation in force, because it is just one more thing that challenges the paranoia-free lifestyle that is at the basis of a free society. People who are not breaking the law should not be subjected to “troops” in riot gear, acting like a military force, something which we connect to fascist nations where government controls citizens through brutality and fear. If this is where the right to have guns with us anywhere and anytime gets us, we have to ask ourselves if there aren’t ways to exercise our Second Amendment rights that would not trigger this fascist response from our police. You may think that if you don’t gamble, drink, or frequent minority barbers then you are probably all right, but it seems reasonable to suggest that this police behavior will escalate and will be employed more frequently and in more situations. The fact that the public is armed to the teeth offers a great excuse for paramilitary-style policing.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

CEO Pay and the Revolution

In the New York Times of 6/30/2013 there was an article in the business section entitled “An Unstoppable Climb in CEO pay” which I heard quoted several times of CNN last week, although it sort of got lost in a week that was an absolute fiesta of breaking news.

”According to an updated analysis, the top 200 chief executives at public companies with at least $1 billion in revenue actually got a big raise last year, over all. The research, conducted for Sunday Business by Equilar Inc., the executive compensation analysis firm, found that the median 2012 pay package came in at $15.1 million — a leap of 16 percent from 2011.” 

On Google+ a poster shares a graphic which shows a 725 increase in CEO pay in the past 14 years.

This next graphic will show you  more information about the differences between pay at the top and pay for the rest of us. Follow the link below if you want to see the actual graphic. I have summarized the information contained in the graphic in the chart you see after this link.
http://www.payscale.com/content/data-packages/ceos/ps-ceo-infographic-625a.png  

Walmart                               1,034:1  CEO-to-Worker Pay Ratio             $23,150,000 Mike Duke’s Pay
                                                $22,400 Median Worker Pay                       Walmart pays below market
Target                                   597:1   CEO-to-Worker Ratio                      $17,890,000 Gregg S.’s Pay
                                                $29,900 Median Worker Pay                     Target Pays at Market
Walt Disney Co.                    557:1  CEO-to-Worker Ratio                       $31,630,000 Bob Iger’s Pay
                                                $56,800 Median Worker Pay                     WD pays +8% Above Market
Honeywell                          439:1  CEO-to-Worker Ratio                         $32,860,000 David Cote’s Pay
                                                $74,700 Median Worker Pay                    Honeywell Pays At Market
McDonald’s                        434:1  CEO-to-Worker Pay                  $ 9,550,000 James Skinner’s Pay
                                                $22,000 Median Worker Pay           McDonald’s Pays -6% Below Market
The 5 lowest pay ratio belong to Amazon at 18:1, Sunoco at 15:1, Microsoft at 12:1, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc at 9:1, and Google at 0:1.

I’m not sure we are at all surprised to know that the gap between CEO and worker pay is increasing. We may be surprised by the geometric progression of the increase in CEO pay. There can be repercussions if such a trend continues indefinitely. So, I want to make a hypothetical logical argument. I want to make it very clear that I am not trying to foment a revolution. However, I believe that it is commonly accepted that when wealth is concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of people and when the gap between the richest people in a society and all other individuals in the society keeps growing wider and wider, eventually those at the bottom are likely to rebel against those at the top in order to once again equalize the distribution of wealth. I am not saying that we are at this point in America, but it looks like we may get to that point sooner rather than later if the distribution of wealth continues to follow the patterns that have been described above.

And it is also apparent that if any weapons stockpiles are being accumulated by any group of Americans then we might guess that Conservatives are ahead of other groups in this stockpiling given that they belong in greater numbers to the NRA and have been fanatically protective of their right to continue to stockpile weapons (including semi-automatic weapons and very large clips of ammunition). Odd, since a majority of the wealthiest Americans seem to lean right you would think that the poorer and poorer Conservatives in the party would feel some hostility to their big business leadership, but they seem to feel every bit as powerful as those who are stockpiling all of our money, instead of all of our guns. So pretty good for the right; in the event of a revolution Conservatives will have both the bucks and the buckaroos to wage war, but who will they wage war against? Will they wage war against their buddies with all the money. There doesn’t seem to be any hostility coming from the Conservatives at the bottom of the economic heap against the Conservatives at the top of the heap. All hostilities seem to be directed towards the left. Maybe Conservatives believe that if they help those in the GOP who have all the wealth win the day there will be some kind of quid pro quo when the revolution is over. 

I suppose we on the left have our moneyed honchos and honchettes also, but we may not have the weapons.  Perhaps us lefties need to start our weapons collecting and form secret militias and join shooting clubs to practice our marksmanship. Should we just let the right wingers have their way with America in Congress now so they won’t have to use their guns later? They would probably be rather disappointed if they could not point and shoot. They’ve been practicing for quite a while. However, it could exact a large toll on the population and infrastructure of America if they turn the country into a shooting gallery. Perhaps at some point Conservatives without bucks and liberals without bucks will form an alliance against those who have cornered all the bucks, but at this point that seems unlikely.

All right, call off the revolution for now. If we’re just going to end up as Tea Party Nation then why bother. We could pass some laws that reverse the laws that are letting all of the cream rise to the top of America, but we are told that redistribution of wealth is socialism, or communism, or fascism, or all three, and everyone seems to buy this, so laws that redistribute potential wealth will never be allowed. If we can’t reverse this trend that is creating an enormous gap between the few at the top and the many of us at the bottom something will eventually happen and I still contend that right now the Conservatives are better armed for the some-day revolution. So either start a gun cache now, or elect Democrats in 2014.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

The NRA-How Disappointing, How Predictable

Before we heard the NRA leadership speak up on Friday it sounded as if they were humbled by the events in Newtown, CT but when they spoke on television in that very odd media event, on the last day in the Mayan calendar, they were not in the least apologetic. Now I understand why guys like to use the phrase “double down” so much because that is exactly what the NRA did. “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” they said. I am not sure this would past the tests of logic, or that if a Venn drawing were made of this statement, it would be at all accurate. Let me just mention two possibilities that are not considered in this tautology: 1) if the gun was not available in the first place the bad guy would not have the gun, and, 2) If the bad guy happened to be a mentally ill young person mental health intervention might prevent the act of desperation. The media is reminding us that there was an armed guard at Columbine and he was unable to stop the killers.

The NRA recommended a National Shield Program for schools which would place a security guard with a gun in every school. They showed no interest in limiting the kinds of guns available to citizens or limiting the availability of clips containing large numbers of bullets. They insist that we need these guns to keep our government honest and to dissolve our government should it become necessary. That certainly is the intent of the Constitution, although after seeing some of the radical ideas held by some of my fellow Americans I fear that it would be possible for a small minority to cause an inordinate amount of grief if they so chose, and it seems possible that they could so choose at any moment. Our country is a lot bigger than it was when the Constitution was written, with a much larger population and more lethal weapons.

The NRA made a scathing argument against violent video games, music, and movies without so much as one consideration for another Constitutional guarantee which is often cited by those who create these kinds of items, a guarantee known as the Freedom of Speech amendment which is every bit as difficult to like when it is used to protect things we don’t like or which we don’t think are healthy influences in our society.

I do not believe that we are free to harm each other. We hold to the ideals of the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, not just for some. Even in a free society freedom is not absolute. When we own a house we are admonished that we hold it for purposes of quiet enjoyment. We are always asked to be mindful of our neighbors. No one is suggesting banning all guns. Hunters and gun enthusiasts will be able to possess their guns as long as they are responsible and keep their guns safe. Limiting guns that fire large multiples of bullets without reloading seems perfectly reasonable but not when you propose it to a group of people who are anything but reasonable.

The NRA must believe that they alone know how to read the Constitution, that they have a direct line to the forefathers because they defend all gun ownership with belligerent inflexibility. If they need guns to defend themselves in the event that our government turns totalitarian then why not just bury a cache in the backyard and be done with it. Twenty, six and seven year old children died, hundreds of children have been traumatized by witnessing these incomprehensible assassinations.

Who does the NRA remind me of? They remind me of the Republicans who refuse to raise any taxes. By refusing to bend they have a control over the American dialogue about guns which is totalitarian in nature and contrary to the very freedom they say they are trying to protect. The NRA is as extreme and out-of-control as those extremists in the Republican Party and they raise my hackles in exactly the same way. I just can’t listen to them without getting angry because I know that they do not want a dialogue about anything. They just want to have their way. The oxymoron inherent in this authoritarian approach to freedom should be obvious to everyone. And yet, in spite of everything I think I know about the NRA and despite how important I feel it is to end their control of America’s gun discussion, I bet we will find that we cannot budge this group of extremists and that is a sad state of affairs. I hope this impasse will someday be breached.

 

Lock Up Your Guns

We definitely are aware that we have the right to bear arms. It is almost as impossible to talk about guns in America as it is to talk about abortion. Guns seem to have more supporters than children who live in poverty do. Almost any person in America can own as many guns as s/he wishes to own. I understand that I cannot fight the National Rifle Association and I don’t really want to. Perhaps knowing that most of the citizenry is armed helps keep America free, although many people question how much freedom we retain even with our personal armories.
Our children are another story, however. Why do our children have access to guns? Children should not be able to get a gun anywhere. If a child is a hunter some parent should be charged with locking up guns when they are not in use for hunting. Children who have guns are killing other people’s children. Over and over again this is happening. Will we wait until there are grieving families in every community in America before we convince parents that they need to have a safe place to park the family’s guns. I suppose it might be possible to convince even street gangs and criminals to see that minors do not have access to guns. For an adult to make a decision that will ruin his/her life is one thing. We accept that we must live with our adult choices. But for children to make choices that will take away any chance they have of living a free life should strike all of us as wrong. If there is any way that we can intervene in such a sad trajectory, then we should embrace it. Locking up weapons is such a simple, no-brainer, solution. We try to legislate away all of the risks that we face in this life, but we cannot. A new law is not the answer; a new attitude is the answer.
No child should have to sit in a school cafeteria or a classroom or a gym wondering if someone is going to turn the room into a shooting gallery and a hall of horrors. How does a child ever feel safe again after something like this? This is such a cowardly act. It takes no bravery to kill unsuspecting people who cannot escape someone’s murderous vengeance against slights that were perhaps perpetrated by others. Park your guns and park them in a safe and secure place. Do not allow your children to use your guns unless you are there to supervise. Actually I don’t really have to speak with gang members and criminals because the people killing our students have not, as far as I know, belonged to a gang. They have been loners who felt alienated and abused. Apparently asking children to be kinder to each other is not realistic, so please, LOCK UP THE GUNS.