gun control

When May I Shoot A Student?

3.26.13-hampikianDr. Greg Hampikian has a dual appointment in the Biology Department and the Department of Criminal Justice at Boise State University. He is best known as the forensic DNA expert and founder of the Idaho Innocence Project.

Dr. Hampikian has worked on hundreds of cases throughout the world and has been responsible for the research leading to more than a dozen exoneration’s.  He has contributed his expertise in DNA evidence to many high profile cases including the that of Amanda Knox. His book, Exit to Freedom, chronicles Calvin Johnson’s 17 year fight to prove his innocence using DNA evidence.

HampikianCNCoopHe has appeared on numerous national television shows including Good Morning America, Nightline, Dateline, and 20-20. He has also appeared as a guest of Ira Flato’s on Science Friday and on CNN with Anderson Cooper.

Dr. Hampikian is in the national news again with a New York Time Op. Ed. piece titled, When May I Shoot a Student. The article, satirizing the “Guns-on-Campus” bill currently being considered by the Idaho State Legislature, has gone viral on social media. Hampikian’s article takes the form of a tongue-in-cheek letter to the chief council of the Idaho Legislature asking for his legal advice. When, Hampikian asks, can I legally shoot a student?

In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?

I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.

I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. Since I carry a pen to lecture, I did not feel outgunned; and because there are no working sharpeners in the lecture hall, the most they could get off is a single point. But now that we’ll all be packing heat, I would like legal instruction in the rules of classroom engagement.

Hampikian proposes specific situations that might arise and wonders what the appropriate response might be.

I assume that if a student shoots first, I am allowed to empty my clip; but given the velocity of firearms, and my aging reflexes, I’d like to be proactive. For example, if I am working out a long equation on the board and several students try to correct me using their laser sights, am I allowed to fire a warning shot?

If two armed students are arguing over who should be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement (which reads, in part, “Boise State strives to provide a culture of civility and success where all feel safe and free from discrimination, harassment, threats or intimidation”)?

Those who have been following the farce in the statehouse understand his jab at the House Committee who held the initial hearings on the bill.

While our city police chief has expressed grave concerns about allowing guns on campus, I would point out that he already has one. I’m glad that you were not intimidated by him, and did not allow him to speak at the public hearing on the bill (though I really enjoyed the 40 minutes you gave to the National Rifle Association spokesman).

What has been particularly enlightening about Dr. Hampikian’s article is the response. Our illustrious Governor claims that Idaho’s image is not tarnished by the foolish bills the legislature wastes its time (and Idaho taxpayer dollars) on.  Comments on Hampikian’s article would suggest otherwise.

Seriously, does the Idaho State Legislature have nothing better to do? Like get the economy moving? I’m an Idaho native and have a cousin who’s a BSU undergrad. I love him, but trust me, the world is a better place without him lugging a Glock 9mm around in his backpack. And the notion that a kid with a gun could prevent something like Newtown or Va. Tech is unsubstantiated, unresearched nonsense. A 2008 Rand Corporation study analyzed NYC data on police shootings. It showed that highly trained police officers are accurate in hitting the person they’re aiming at 30% of the time. And if they’re being shot at, accuracy drops to 18%. Ergo, if you had a couple students firing back at a school shooter (assuming they could dig through their backpacks and find their guns in the panic and chaos) they’d likely injure or kill one or more classmates by accident. And since it’s doubtful they’ve trained with their weapon as much as a police officer, they’d do well to hit a shooter one-out-of-ten shots. Sadly, Congress in its infinite wisdom has defunded virtually all research into the gun violence epidemic by the NIH and the CDC. Our country badly needs research into what really works and what doesn’t to stem such violence. Perhaps then we as a society wouldn’t be so susceptible to lawmakers who sit around saying, “If only we could send kids to school with guns. What could possibly go wrong?”

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I have a daughter heading to college in a few years, and I’m starting a list of states whose legislatures are stupid enough to encourage gun violence on college campuses. Colleges in those states are no longer worth applying to.

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All credible studies show a direct correlation between the presence of guns and the incidence of deadly violence. If your frat brother gets drunk and angry, he can punch you in the face. Give him a knife, and he can try to stab you, but you may be able to outrun him. Give him a gun, and you’re dead. The math is painfully simple. Unfortunately, so are these lawmakers.

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Some ideas are prima facie so monumentally stupid that they only can be explained by ideology or religion gone wild. Examples: burning witches at the stake, destroying a village in order to save it, outlawing homosexuality, stockpiling enough nuclear weapons to exterminate humanity several times over; and yes, encouraging college students to bring weapons to class. It’s almost beyond belief until you remember it’s Idaho, it’s Republicans, it’s the gun lobby.

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Our son in law just turned down a University teaching job offer in Idaho for just such reasons, even though he has no other offer as yet. Idaho just didn’t measure up as a safe sane place to raise their family.

Some comments took the satire to the next level of absurdity.

As a faculty member myself, I understand Professor Hampikian’s dilemma. I think one solution would be for the instructors to advertise their own lethality by clipping a number of hand grenades to the front of their shirts or blouses (or tweed jackets, as the case may be). Such an array will make students think twice about who has more “freedom” in any confrontation, and it would also nicely enable that old political dictum, “Speak softly and carry a big rack of anti-personnel explosives.”

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I believe the professor has the right idea however I wonder if he has considered tanks? This would make both a perfect defensive tool and an equally excellent ‘stand your ground’ weapon. If he thought perhaps that a student or students had a flame thrower (perhaps a LaCrosse stick might be mistaken for such) then he would be perfectly justified in firing off a round or two. This way he might be able to deal with an entire fraternity chapter on one fell swoop. I’m sure he’d receive a commendation from the NRA.

As I write this, the legislature is hearing testimony about the bill. So far, there has been no support for it, but public opinion doesn’t seem to hold much weight with Republican legislators.

Of all those commenting on Dr Hampikian’s New York Times article, I most empathize with “Todd” of Boise who speaks like a fellow inmate of the crazy state of Idaho reaching out to those in the sane outside world.

We can’t make this stuff up! In addition to this grand piece of legislation our statesman are working on how to make it “legal” to discriminate against the LGBT community (and others?) on religious grounds; how to lower corporate tax rates, in our state that ranks lowest in wages; how we can kill more wolves to boost elk populations so that hunters can then kill more elk; and how we can beat Mississippi to the worst ranked education system in the country. I used to think at some point we’d wake up and change our voting pattern but now I think it just like a bad reality tv show and we can’t change the channel.

The Madness Of Wayne LaPierre

WayneLatoon The madness of Wayne LaPierre. I stole that from Forbes Magazine. That’s right. Forbes Magazine thinks Wayne LaPierre has gone mad. Note to Wayne- when a conservative business magazine like Forbes thinks you are crazy, you have a problem.

LaPierre’s bazaar response to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut was enough to convince me he was crazy, but it turns out that was only the first chapter in a month of looniness. Today, in his “response” to Obama’s state of the union speech, LaPierre accused the President with “fraud” and claimed,

They only care about their decades-long, decades-old gun control agenda: Ban every gun they can, tax every gun sold and register every American gun owner.

Wayne LaPierre repeats the crazy paranoia every chance he has, even though he knows that no matter how many times he says it, there is not a shred of evidence that President Obama, or anyone else in the federal government who has anything to say about it, has any interest in ‘taking away the guns’.

Who exactly does LaPierre represent when he lashed out with this inflammatory rhetoric? It is certainly not the American people, not even the membership of the NRA. In fact, polls show that Americans favor the measures proposed by the President with large majorities.

A recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 92 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers, including 91 percent of those living in homes with a gun.  The January, 2013 Pew survey reports 85 percent of Americans—and 85 percent of gun owners—want all private gun sales and sales at gun shows to be subject to background checks. The CBS/New York Times poll conducted in January, 2013 had similar results, showing that 92 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of those living in a household with an NRA member, are in favor of universal background checks.

Below is a sample of insane LaPierre quotes from an Op-Ed piece he wrote last week. They show a man living in a “Hellish” world filled with Hurricanes, Kidnappers, drug gangs and other mortal threats that can only be combatted by more guns.

Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.

The president flagrantly defies the 2006 federal law ordering the construction of a secure border fence along the entire Mexican border. So the border today remains porous not only to people seeking jobs in the U.S., but to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping.

Ominously, the border also remains open to agents of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Numerous intelligence sources have confirmed that foreign terrorists have identified the southern U.S. border as their path of entry into the country.

A heinous act of mass murder—either by terrorists or by some psychotic who should have been locked up long ago—will be the pretext to unleash a tsunami of gun control.

After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.

Meanwhile, President Obama is leading this country to financial ruin, borrowing over a trillion dollars a year for phony “stimulus” spending and other payoffs for his political cronies. Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it.

Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.

We, the American people, clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster.

And finally, in an outrageous example of Orwellian double speak,

We [the NRA] are the largest civil rights organization in the world.

 

One More Gun Statistic

US-gun-deaths-war-casualties

 

More Americans have been killed in domestic gun incidents since 1960 than Americans killed in wars, ever. Evidently, that statistic has been floating around the internet since the Sandy Hook incident, but I didn’t run into it until today.

To be honest, I didn’t believe it. Surely, more Americans have died in all wars than in domestic gun incidents. It turns out that Mark Shields first made the claim in answer to a question from Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour.

You know, Judy, the reality is — and it’s a terrible reality — since Robert Kennedy died in the Ambassador Hotel on June 4, 1968, more Americans have died from gunfire than died in all the — all the wars, all the wars of this country’s history, from the Revolutionary through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, in those 43 years.

We have half the guns that are in the world are in the United States. I mean, guns are a problem. And I think they still have to be confronted.

Was Shields correct?  According to PolitiFact.com, he was.  Here is what they found.

We found a comprehensive study of war-related deaths published by the Congressional Research Service on Feb. 26, 2010, and we supplemented that with data for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan using the website icasualties.org. Where possible, we’ve used the broadest definition of “death” — that is, all war-related deaths, not just those that occurred in combat.

War Deaths

The number of deaths from gunfire is a bit more complicated to total. Two Internet-accessible data sets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allow us to pin down the number of deaths from 1981 to 1998 and from 1999 to 2010. We’ve added FBI figures for 2011, and we offer a number for 1968 to 1980 using a conservative estimate of data we found in a graph in this 1994 paper published by the CDC.

Gunfire Deaths

We should note that these figures refer to all gun-fire related deaths — not just homicides, but also suicides and accidental deaths. In 2011, about one-quarter of firearm-related deaths were homicides, according to FBI and CDC data. Using total firearm-related deaths makes the case against guns more dramatic than just using homicides alone.

Our ruling

Since Shields’ comparison was otherwise accurate, with about 1.4 million firearm deaths to 1.2 million in war, we rated his claim True.

If that jaw dropping statistic doesn’t convince you that we have a gun problem in this country, you aren’t really interested in the facts.

 

Breaking News! Sheriff Plans on Upholding Constitution

It speaks volumes about the current gun control hysteria when a county sheriff states that he plans on upholding the Constitution and his statement is considered news. Ada County sheriff, Gary Raney, did exactly that in a “Reader’s View” editorial in the Idaho Statesman.

As an elected official and a sheriff, I have the great honor to take an oath of office. Very few occupations include the special pride that comes with the trust inherent in an oath of office, but mine does.

In that oath, I swore to uphold the Constitution and laws that we live under in this great nation. Those words were my promise that I would not use my own personal interests to decide what is right and wrong. I swore to work within our system of law and justice to fairly enforce what you, through your elected representatives in the Legislature and Congress, have decided should be the law of our land. Those laws are set upon a foundation of checks and balances, embodied in the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

When we forsake the law or disregard those checks and balances, we take the first step down the path towards anarchy.

I have been asked many times in the past couple of weeks whether I will uphold my oath to defend the Constitution and proclaim an intolerance of federal action against the Second Amendment.

Many others have indulged that pressure and now we see Oregon sheriffs, Wyoming legislators and others making hollow promises to protect you from the intrusions of the federal government. Let me respectfully remind you that we are the federal government, the state government and the local government.

I did not swear to uphold just part of the Constitution. Our Constitution includes the right to keep and bear arms, but it also includes the “supremacy clause” that says that every state shall abide by the laws passed by our Congress.

So, despite the fact that I personally oppose some of the gun control measures currently under consideration, my oath requires me to uphold the laws that are passed by our federal and state representatives.

When we disagree with those laws, the checks and balances built into our government point us toward the proper remedy: changing the laws or challenging them in the judicial branch. As to whether or not the president has the power to issue executive orders limiting our Constitutional rights, that is another matter to be decided by the Supreme Court, not by 44 different sheriffs in Idaho.

We live in the greatest society the world has ever seen and we enjoy that because of the founding principles our forefathers established in our Constitution. It would be hypocritical and irresponsible of me to forsake that Constitution and the wisdom of generations that have followed it.

I fear that passions have led people into a rally of mistruth. It is time we truly respect the Constitution and our system of justice. Regardless of your personal opinion on the Second Amendment, embrace everyone’s liberty and use our well-established process to pass laws and contest them.

Hollow promises and threats will only divert people from doing the right thing — honoring the truth and being involved in a process whereby our rights and liberties are protected by a respect of the law, not by rhetoric.

Raney’s statement is news because his position is in the minority among Idaho sheriffs. Consider, for example, Madison County Sheriff Roy Klingler.

President Obama introduced proposals for sweeping federal gun control. Klingler said ahead of that announcement, he had no reservations being outspoken against gun control legislation.

“I personally am sick and tired of the government putting regulations in place that affect our personal rights, our property rights and the Constitution,” said Klingler.

“I think these states passing these laws are out of control,” he said. On Wednesday, the White House will propose federal firearms control — something Klingler said he cannot support.

Or, the newly elected Canyon County Sheriff.

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue says he won’t enforce any new federal firearms restrictions, joining a chorus of county sheriffs across the U.S. who have publicly denounced President Barack Obama’s executive orders.

As I pointed out in an earlier post,  the Idaho State Legislature is contemplating legislation, to be introduced by Senator Marv Hagedorn, revisiting the state’s ban on guns in schools and courthouses. Considering a recent event when a group of scouts visited the Capitol, I wonder if the Legislators might decide to follow through on plans to eliminate the ban on guns in schools and courthouses but reinstate a ban where their own personal safety is a concern.

A man with a handgun used a tour for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as cover to inspect legislators’ desks and reach into a waste bin on the House floor.

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said: “To think that somebody is bold enough to have followed these children around with a sidearm in plain sight — who is also bold enough to go through trash cans, take pictures of representatives’ desks and shuffle their papers — all of that created a great deal of concern.”

As a result, public access to the House and Senate chambers has been suspended on weekends and after 6 p.m. weekdays, though the Capitol remains open until 10 p.m.

The man attached himself to an evening tour led by freshman Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, who had been asked by a constituent to show the Cubs and Scouts around. “I thought he was a parent,” Holtzclaw said, noting that the troop leader assumed the man was a security officer because of his gun.

The man’s identity is unknown. He left the Capitol after an unarmed guard confronted him. The man said something like, “If I’m not being arrested or detained, I don’t have to answer your questions.”

Guns and long knives were banned in the Capitol from 1996 to 2008 by executive order. Gov. Butch Otter let the order expire, citing a 2008 law in which the Legislature said it had exclusive power to regulate guns in Idaho.

Signs were erected outside the House and Senate galleries after the 2012 Occupy protests. They list prohibitions: food, drinks, men wearing hats, signs, sitting on rails, cellphones, distracting noises. Bags are subject to search. But there is no firearm ban.

The unknown man was obeying the law. He was “carrying”, but left his hat outside the Capitol. Once they reinstate the firearm ban in the Capitol, we can file this under “political hypocrisy”.

The Idaho Legislature Joins the Former Confederacy and the Wild West

The New York Times has a pretty straightforward editorial today that points out the motives of state legislatures passing laws to block Federal law concerning firearms.

State lawmakers in Wyoming didn’t need to hear President Obama’s gun-control proposals on Wednesday in order to attack them. A week ago, before the White House had even decided what actions to take, Republicans introduced a bill in the Wyoming Legislature to block any federal limitation on firearms, such as an assault weapons ban. A federal agent seeking to enforce such a ban would be guilty of a felony and face five years in prison.

This ludicrous bill would be laughable if the idea weren’t spreading. A similar bill filed in Tennessee would also make federal gun enforcement a state crime, though it’s more “moderate” than Wyoming’s: federal agents doing their jobs would be charged only with Class A misdemeanors. Inevitably, a bill like Wyoming’s has been filed in Texas. And, in Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant announced that the state would block federal gun measures. A proposed law in the state would claim that Washington has no jurisdiction over weapons made in Mississippi.

There’s no point in telling these fanatics that federal gun restrictions are completely constitutional, even under the Supreme Court’s latest interpretation of the Second Amendment, or that federal law pre-empts state law. They already know these bills will be unenforceable. They are merely legislative fist-shaking, letting pro-gun voters know that lawmakers share their antipathy to the Obama administration, and signaling to the National Rifle Association and other gun-manufacturing lobbies that they are worthy recipients of rich political contributions.

Already, states like these have done enormous damage to public safety by acceding to the N.R.A.’s demands for laws that are anything but symbolic. The gun lobby hasn’t been content with the ability of Americans to lawfully possess hundreds of millions of handguns and assault rifles. It wants gun owners to be able to carry these weapons anywhere they want, even among children, concealed or displayed, and preferably without the annoyance of permits, background checks, or safety precautions.

After the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, the N.R.A. defied logic and pushed a bill to allow guns on college campuses. Thanks to help from the American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative organization of state lawmakers to which the N.R.A. contributes heavily, five states now allow campus guns. Only nine states prohibit guns at sporting events, and just 26 prohibit them where alcohol is served.

Wisconsin actually allows guns in the public gallery that looks down on the state assembly, and the N.R.A. pressured lawmakers last week to keep it that way. The N.R.A. and the American Legislative Exchange Council were behind the “stand your ground” laws that allow people to shoot others if they believe they are in danger, which has led to hundreds of deaths while allowing killers to walk free.

State gun laws matter. Of the 10 states with the most restrictive laws, seven also have the lowest gun death rates, according to a study by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Similarly, lax gun laws correlate to a high level of gun deaths.

That’s why it’s good to see several states step up to their responsibilities to prevent violence instead of following the southern and western states that appear to be encouraging it. New York was out front this week in passing a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, among other measures. A similar ban is moving ahead in Illinois. New Jersey and Connecticut are moving more slowly, appointing task forces to make recommendations, but are at least heading in the right direction.

California is considering legislation that would limit sales of ammunition, requiring background checks and permits for bullet buyers. Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, the site of so much carnage, has reversed his opposition to new restrictions, proposing universal background checks as well as an overhaul of the state mental health system to identify those who should be kept away from weapons.

Still, too many states continue to put their citizens at risk as they pledge ever-greater fealty to the gun manufacturers. It’s time the states became laboratories for safety rather than violence.

Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman explains how the Idaho Legislature plans to deal with the   “Panic” caused by the fear that Obama will come for our guns!

In one of the most Second Amendment-friendly legislatures in America, the pressure to respond to the Connecticut school massacre and President Barack Obama’s gun control ideas has prompted a flurry of behind-the-scenes action.

Compounding the interest is the largest freshman class in Idaho history — a group eager to address constituent concerns.

To manage the flow of legislation, House Speaker Scott Bedke has informally assigned a point person, Republican Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, a former volunteer lobbyist for the NRA who helped pass Idaho’s conceal-carry law in 1990.

“I don’t want a bunch of redundant bills,” Bedke said Thursday. “I want the common themes consolidated into individual bills. Put the ideas in the arena, let’s do the research and let’s have the debate.”

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, who authored a failed 2011 bill to allow guns on college campuses, is leading a similar effort in the Senate and working with Gov. Butch Otter’s chief of staff, David Hensley.

Hagedorn said he’s exploring two legislative avenues: school safety and protection of gun rights. “Do we have holes we need to fix, along with what we’re doing for the schools?” he said.

Boyle said she’s received about 150 emails and uncounted phone calls and text messages urging her to act immediately. Meanwhile, she said, talk radio is ablaze with callers saying, “What’s the Legislature doing? They’re doing nothing!”

“I think we’re all getting the same kind of emails of panic,” Boyle said Thursday. “They’re scared, really scared, about losing their guns, or their right to purchase a gun or ammunition, or any component to make their ammunition.”

Boyle said she hopes to gather the proposals into several bills in about two weeks, and urges both lawmakers and constituents to be patient.

“Mostly it’s the freshmen, worried because their constituents are and they don’t know what to say to them and they want to react quick,” Boyle said. “The people who are worried are students of history — they have seen what Hitler did, what has happened in countries that disarm people.”

But Boyle called for a “measured approach” that will pass court tests and “truly protect not just children but all citizens from crazy people.”

Bedke and Hagedorn said they prefer the word “concerned” rather than “panic” to describe public sentiment.

“But if you look around enough, I’m sure you can find panic,” said Bedke, R-Oakley. “I’m certainly concerned.”

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, didn’t designate Hagedorn as a Senate gatekeeper but said he’s pleased Hagedorn is leading on the issue. “There are very few people I’d feel more comfortable with,” he said.

Hagedorn said he won’t revive his guns-on-campus bill because it was strongly opposed by university presidents and would be a distraction.

But Hagedorn said it’s time to revisit the state’s ban on guns in schools and courthouses. “One of the things we need to consider is if a person today has a right to protect themselves and carry a gun, when they go into a gun-free zone is there a liability on the state to then take over that protection?”

Boyle said she’s consulting police officials and has determined that arming school employees and providing advanced training for violent emergencies is a top priority.

“It’s one thing to carry a gun and it’s another when you have some crazy person coming at you. Police are trained on that, so that’s why they’ve been helping us,” she said.

Idaho’s 115 school districts would be able to decide whether to arm employees, but the legal incentive to do so would be high, Boyle said.

“They’re going to have to take responsibility. If they’re not going to accept protection for those students, they’re going to have to accept the liability that they haven’t done that,” she said.

The one line in the article that explains exactly the direction the legislature will take is this: “To manage the flow of legislation, House Speaker Scott Bedke has informally assigned a point person, Republican Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, a former volunteer lobbyist for the NRA who helped pass Idaho’s conceal-carry law in 1990”.

Labrador for Speaker

RaulToonRocky “Bullwinkle” Barker, clueless reporter/blogger for the Idaho Statesman, breathlessly reported that Raul Labrador received the first vote for Speaker of the House! Wow! An Idaho politician as a possible Speaker of the House.

Ah… Sorry Rocky, the single vote for Labrador was part of the Tea Party circle jerk-14 Republican defectors who refused to vote for John Boehner, and, as a result guaranteed they would never have positions of power. Boehner won and they lost, big time.

The band of 14 Bozos either voted “present”, or for each other. Actually, Labrador didn’t even win among the foolish fourteen. He receive one less vote than Allen West, the Tea Party favorite who is no longer a member of Congress. Yes, two members of the feckless fourteen voted for a candidate for Speaker of the House who is not a member of the House.

I don’t call Barker “clueless” because of this blog post, however. A recent post where he argued that we shouldn’t have an “ideological” discussion about gun control because he had fond memories of attending gun shows with his father displayed a more characteristic cluelessness.

Shoot Now, Ask Questions Later

NY_NYP

 

 

The National Rifle Association’s president David Keene ended Friday’s news conference—the gun lobby’s first public comments since the massacre in Newtown, Conn.—with these words: “This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won’t be taking questions today.” Shoot first and never answer questions. That pretty much sums up the news conference. The NRA’s spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre, who delivered the NRA’s message, was defiant and defensive, blaming, Hollywood, the media, video games that no one plays anymore, the lack of a mental health data base, and, at base, a corrupt, lawless society where the only hope in case of an emergency is to arm yourself (the only thing that will stop the bad guys with guns is a good guy with guns). Blaming everyone and everything except the NRA’s refusal to consider any sort of gun control legislation. His “serious solution” was calling for security officers to be stationed at every school. LaPierre spoke with an edge to his voice and a look in his eye that was frightening.

NY_DNThe response has been amazing. The headlines from the two New York newspapers demonstrate that the news conference was a PR blunder of massive proportions. Let us hope the politicians who have been in the gun lobby’s pocket will begin to see the NRA for what it really is, a fringe group of loonies.

Update on The Citadel

Last week I reported on The Citadel, a survivalist group hoping to start a community in Northern Idaho. Today the Idaho Daily Statesman has an article about the group. I wasn’t aware of the close connection between the group and firearms manufacturing.

At the center of the development is a firearms manufacturing company, III Arms, that would employ residents and raise money to help fund the Citadel.

III Arms Co. was incorporated in Idaho in August, its headquarters listed in Gaithersburg, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C. The company’s website offers firearms for sale starting at $1,250. A woman whose name is listed as a representative of the company could not be reached for comment.

I was also not aware of the connection with the three percenter militia movement, a particularly virulent militia group whose name is inspired by the false Revolutionary War “statistic” that suggested that only 3% of the American population during the Revolutionary War participated as combatants in the war. Here is how a current member describes the movement:

The Three Percent today are gun owners who will not disarm, will not compromise and will no longer back up at the passage of the next gun control act…We will not obey any further circumscription of our traditional liberties and will defend ourselves if attacked…We are committed to the restoration of the Founders’ Republic, and are willing to fight, die, and, if forced by any would-be oppressor, to kill in the defense of ourselves and the Constitution that we all took an oath to uphold against enemies foreign and domestic.

From the Statesman article by Audrey Dutton,

III Percent LLC — seemingly a reference to the “three percenter” militia movement — and Citadel Land Development LLC were created in Idaho last month, according to state records.One or two square miles of the Citadel would be protected by walls and towers, the website said, adding that the community “intends to become a premiere tourist destination for Americans from sea to sea and border-to-border.”Residents would have to agree to conditions that include:

  • Following federal and state constitutions.
  • Being able to shoot a man-sized steel target at various distances with a handgun and a rifle.
  • Having an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle variant, at least five magazines and 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
  • Keeping every household stocked with a year’s worth of food, water and supplies.
  • Taking courses on topics such as basic medical care and firearms safety.
  • Carrying a loaded sidearm when visiting the Citadel’s town center.

The application, with a $208 fee, asks if the person plans to raise livestock, farm or start a business at the Citadel. Residents also can choose to live inside or outside the community’s walls.

Given the reaction to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and the current drive to bring back an assault weapon ban, it seems likely the applications from gun wackos will be rolling in faster than the Citadel sponsors can process them. I suppose it is better to have them inside a citadel where we can keep an eye on them than scattered throughout the country causing all sorts of mischief like here and here.

Joe Biden Ideal to Head Gun Violence Task Force

After the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, President Obama vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to safeguard the nation’s children. Any fear I had that this would be empty rhetoric dissolved after he appointed Joe Biden to lead a task force to come up with concrete proposals to address gun violence no later than January.

Biden is the ideal choice to head up the task force. He was one of the original authors of the 1994 legislation that banned the sale of assault weapons (for a detailed account of Biden’s role in fighting for gun control legislation read here).

Rachel Maddow played a clip from a 2007 Democratic presidential candidate debate that showed Biden at his best. Biden and Bill Richardson respond to a question on gun control from an NRA member who fondly strokes his assault weapon, referring to it as his “baby” and asking how the candidates will help him protect his “baby. Richardson gives a safe, politically correct response while Biden says, “If that’s his baby, he needs help,” Biden tells moderator Anderson Cooper, to mixed laughs and snickers. “I think he just made an admission against self-interest, I don’t think he’s qualified to own that gun.”  Watch below-

Garry Wills Identifies our “Moloch”

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Garry Wills,  Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist, and historian, specializing in American history, politics, and religion, provides a deep, moral, analysis of America’s gun culture.

The slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary is just the latest sacrificial offering we give to the God, Moloch.

 

Few crimes are more harshly forbidden in the Old Testament than sacrifice to the god Moloch (for which see Leviticus 18.21, 20.1-5). The sacrifice referred to was of living children consumed in the fires of offering to Moloch. Ever since then, worship of Moloch has been the sign of a deeply degraded culture. Ancient Romans justified the destruction of Carthage by noting that children were sacrificed to Moloch there. Milton represented Moloch as the first pagan god who joined Satan’s war on humankind:

First Moloch, horrid king, besmear’d with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears,
Though for the noise of Drums and Timbrels loud
Their children’s cries unheard, that pass’d through fire
To his grim idol. (Paradise Lost 1.392-96)

Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains—“besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. “It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch.

America’s worship of guns is next to impossible to combat because, like all religious beliefs, it is not really open to reason. It does no good to quote statistics, how many guns, how many deaths. Idaho is a deeply red, deeply Republican state where the right to conceal automatic weapons guarantee life and safely and freedom. There is no questioning Moloch.