Trump’s Second Amendment “gaffe”

Trump remarks

Thank you to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence for this meme of the latest remarks by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. The Brady Campaign is named for James Brady who was shot and seriously injured in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

The question is, were these remarks a gaffe or something else?

A gaffe is when a politician accidentally says what he/she really means instead of couching it in more cautious language. Sometimes gaffes expose good things that someone running for office really means but is afraid to say for fear of some sort of consequence for telling the truth. Sometimes gaffes expose the true nature of a politician’s mind and thought process. From Merriam Webster:

  1. a social or diplomatic blunder

  2. a noticeable mistake

I guess you could call all of the amazingly crude, offensive and ludicrous things Donald Trump says gaffes. They are certainly noticeable mistakes. Were they innocent mistakes or were they intentional? For sure they are blunders and they are happening on a daily basis.

But really, the country is coming to know Trump as someone who is what he says and means what he says and it’s not a pretty picture. Some thought he could overcome his own personality and seem more Presidential. I never thought that. There is nothing Presidential about a man who says what Trump said yesterday.

Sigh.

And so when Trump went off script, or should we say actually stayed on his own script which is basically to say anything that comes to mind, about the second amendment last night, we heard something we’ve never heard before. We heard a Presidential candidate actually suggest that once Hillary was elected those “second amendment” people would just have to do something about her appointing judges who would overturn the second amendment.

He did say that and he meant it no matter what his surrogates are saying. We know what it meant. He was not asking “second amendment” voters to get involved in the election and be active in getting Trump himself elected. That is not what he meant because his words indicated doing something about judges after Hillary is elected.

This was a dangerous moment in our nation’s history. Common sense tells us that Trump is woefully and dangerously unprepared to become the leader of the free world. The fact that he is now the “titular” head of the Republican Party should be an embarrassment and travesty to the party leaders. But they still sit back, hoping against hope that Trump will stop being Trump and act like a normal candidate for President.

Trump claims to be outside of the mainstream and an unusual candidate. That’s for sure. Do his supporters actually believe that someone who knows virtually nothing about running a country should get the job? And do they also believe that what Trump said was just a joke and the rest of us should pretend we didn’t hear the words that came out of his mouth? They heard them. Are they giving him a pass even on this remark?

How far will this go before there is a nut job who takes what he says seriously enough to act on his words? This dangerous and insurrectionist talk is fomenting anger and fear amongst Trump supporters. We should all be afraid of the consequences.

What this election has done is bring the issue of guns and gun rights front and center. Hillary Clinton has asked for strengthening our gun laws so that so many people won’t get shot. That seems like a sensible goal and would be in any other country. But in America we have a group of right wing gun extremists who have taken the second amendment out of context and turned it in to some interpretation that just doesn’t fit with what’s happening in real life. The worst of this is that they have gotten away with their fear mongering and hate talk for far too long.

Not any more. This kind of interpretation of the second amendment, long held by the NRA leaders and lobbyists and the corporate gun lobby is now being challenged by more people who see that the “emperor has no clothes”. The curtain has been pulled aside on Oz and we see this small group of lobbyists and extremists and the leaders who refuse to debunk their myths, for who they are.

If we continue to have incidents like the ones I write about on this blog and will highlight just a few of here, we will see that our world of guns and gun violence is taking an increasing toll on too many citizens. We are also seeing that more guns are leading to more dangerous incidents with guns. How could it not? Guns are designed to kill people. Too many gun owners have cavalier attitudes about guns because…rights.

With rights come responsibilities.

What was the responsibility of this Indiana prosecutor who should have known better when he decided to carry his loaded gun in his pocket?

What was the responsibility of this Florida police officer whose gun still had a bullet in the chamber and ended up killing an innocent citizen who was volunteering to become a citizen patrol member? How was it that someone so experienced with guns made this mistake?

Was this Minnesota gun guy a responsible gun owner when he threatened a cable worker with his shotgun? I think not.

I didn’t make these up. These incidents happen every day and are not myths. This is what we need to be talking about instead of insinuations that “second amendment people”, whoever they are, should get involved in a solution to Hillary Clinton appointing judges who will allegedly abolish the second amendment.

This is the problem with our gun culture. It isn’t what the second amendment extremists claim it is. It is something else. Every day we see the consequences.

And in this great article, Evan Osnos writes in the New Yorker about why Trump’s comments about the second amendment matter to gun owners:

Many gun owners I know, especially those who are most passionate about defending the Second Amendment, take pride in reminding others that they are law-abiding. They are responsible for their conduct and for the safe handling and storage of a firearm; they try not to lose their tempers, and to argue their ideas with facts and civility. Trump, in this sense, is harming them; by suggesting that, to use his phrase, “Second Amendment people” would turn to violence because their favored candidate loses an election is an insult to gun owners everywhere. By feeding a caricature, Trump is effectively advancing the case of those who would seek to curtail access to guns. Truly protecting the Second Amendment means identifying those who are misusing it for their own political purposes.

If anyone thinks those  law abiding gun owners who want the right to own guns for self protection and hunting/recreation believe that those guns should be used the way Trump is suggesting, they are wrong. Most gun owners are safe with their guns but those same gun owners need to get involved and tell the corporate gun lobby and candidates like Trump to stop giving them all a bad name.

In fact, most gun owners want what I want. So do the vast majority of Americans who support sensible gun laws and a sensible gun culture where women are not being shot by their partners in domestic shootings, where children are not shooting themselves and others in “accidental” gun dischargers, where people of color, gay Americans, Sikhs, small children, college students, children at a Jewish day care center, military members, and others are not victims of hate crimes and mass shootings.

Trump’s remarks left an opening for an interpretation of calling for a political assassination.Political assassinations happen, it seems, more frequently in other countries but we have had our share of successful and unsuccessful attempts to change our government through violent means. Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and others. The list is long.

What we don’t need is the anger and violent talk fomented by one of our Presidential candidates to end in another American tragedy.

This is serious business and our next leader needs to be a serious person who knows how to speak publicly without others having to interpret the true meaning of the words. World leaders are watching this wondering what we have become. A few careless and thoughtless words could change the trajectory of world peace. Dangerous remarks made about violence could end in violence.

To say this is unsettling is an under statement. No matter what Trump’s surrogates say about this, they will not convince most voters that this was a joke. As someone who has lost a sister in a domestic shooting, I am not only offended, I am frightened by the rhetoric spewing from the mouth of someone who, if elected our next President, would make us all less safe.

Where is common sense? We are better than this. And we’ve had #Enough of the violent and fear mongering rhetoric. We’ve had #Enough of actual gun violence that takes the lives of 90 Americans a day.

This election is a pivotal time for changing the conversation about guns and gun violence. Hillary Clinton has not said and could not succeed in abolishing  the second amendment. This is hyped up fear talk and it needs to stop. All Hillary wants is to stop some of the shootings. There is nothing more nefarious than that. Any other meaning ascribed to her words is a lie. The linked article states that Trump’s remarks were open to interpretation. Wars and international misunderstandings have resulted when a leader’s remarks were misinterpreted. 

The bottom line is that no candidate for President should be allowed to get away with this kind of talk. If Trump can’t speak without issuing threats or needing to have  his remarks interpreted by his surrogates to cover his ass, then the Republican party needs to seriously think about what their own positions are and reflect on whether this is the man they want representing them.

I leave my readers with these wise and cogent remarks from someone who should know what it means to be targeted as a politician- and lived to tell her story and advocate for reasonable gun laws- former Representative Gabriel Giffords:

“Donald Trump might astound Americans on a routine basis, but we must draw a bright red line between political speech and suggestions of violence,” the statement reads. “Responsible, stable individuals won’t take Trump’s rhetoric to its literal end, but his words may provide a magnet for those seeking infamy. They may provide inspiration or permission for those bent on bloodshed.”

 

 

 

“Enough is enough”

Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooting
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – NOVEMBER 27: People are rescued near the scene of a shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday November 27, 2015. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

This is cross posted at Commongunsense.com

President Obama has issued a statement about the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs. I am going to include it in it’s entirety, below:

“The last thing Americans should have to do, over the holidays or any day, is comfort the families of people killed by gun violence — people who woke up in the morning and bid their loved ones goodbye with no idea it would be for the last time.

And yet, two days after Thanksgiving, that’s what we are forced to do again.

We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect.  We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America.  And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them.

This is not normal.  We can’t let it become normal.  If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them.  Period.  Enough is enough.

May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.”

The President is speaking truth to the gun lobby’s power. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do this. If we don’t deal with our own domestic terror attacks, occurring almost daily now, then we will have failed our children and our citizens.

The identity of the shooter has been released, along with a photo. Please note that this was a white man and not a Syrian refugee or a foreign terrorist.  He had an AK-47. So who should we fear more? Syrian families with young children trying to escape the torture and violence happening in their own country or (mostly) white home grown terrorists shooting innocent people up in places all over our country. For surely, there was terror involved in the hours long siege at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

I’m sure my readers will remember that just a month ago, on a different holiday, the streets of Colorado Springs were the scene of yet another act of terror committed by a young white man walking around with an assault rifle as if it was normal.  But, alas, he could have been just an every day open gun carrier exercising his rights until suddenly he wasn’t. America at its’ worst.

What’s normal in America? Let’s look at a few recent incidents involving gun owners for how normal these shootings have become.

A “law abiding” gun carrier shot a waitress at a Mississippi waffle restaurant because she asked him not to smoke inside. She died.

A South Carolina felon who should not have had a gun in the first place, got away with murder because of Stand Your Ground legislation.

Bloggers and others are keeping track of this nonsense. David Waldman of the Daily Kos’ GunFail is finding the “accidental” discharges by law abiding gun owners and reporting on them. I have written far too many times about such negligent and irresponsible gun owner failures to use their guns in a safe manner.

The only conclusions we can draw from the mass terror shootings like the one at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, men walking the streets with assault rifles, terrorists access to guns in American, “accidental “gun discharges, domestic shootings, gun suicides, toddlers shooting themselves or others is that we have a gun problem in our country. We are not using common sense or the necessary outrage and courage to change much of anything about easy access to guns. Why not? The corporate gun lobby, of course.

The public discourse has become more and more loud and violent towards refugees, people of color, women, Planned Parenthood clinics, President Obama and politicians who don’t agree with people mostly on the far right spectrum of politics. Inevitably this is going to lead to shootings or threats of violence towards all of the above. What happened in Colorado Springs may be one example. Threats of violence had already caused this clinic to take very strong security measures. Clinics across the country are now in fear of the next terror attack because of this one. That is the purpose of terror attacks.

How can we separate the fear, intolerance, terror, racism and violence mongering from what happened in Minneapolis in the shooting attack against Minneapolis Black Lives Matter protesters?

We can’t.

What’s different about the Colorado Springs shooting and the recent Paris terror attacks? Not much. We are afraid of the wrong terrorists. It’s no secret that I am a liberal person. But that aside, it is the Republican candidates for President who are ramping up the fear and violence with their own statements. Check out this blog post from Amanda Gailey writing for Crooks and Liars:

Combined with gun lobby propaganda and increasingly threatening militia groups, the American right wing is fomenting racial and ethnic violence and insurrectionism that threatens the core values of our country.

The corporate gun lobby, mostly the NRA, is also responsible for much of the fear and paranoia exhibited in recent shootings. From the article above, written by Ana Marie Cox for The Guardian:

“The NRA is no longer concerned with merely protecting the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms – the gun lobby wants to use those arms on its fellow citizens. Or, as the NRA thinks of them: “the bad guys”.

It is useless to argue that the NRA is only targeting criminals with that line, because the NRA has defined “good guys” so narrowly as to only include the NRA itself. What does that make everyone else?

“I ask you,” LaPierre grimaced at the end of his litany of doom. “Do you trust this government to protect you?”

This is not one of the items the membership voted upon. Indeed, Wayne LaPierre’s confidence in making this question rhetorical is one of its most frightening aspects, though of course it’s his prescription that truly alarmed me:

We are on our own. That is a certainty, no less certain than the absolute truth – a fact the powerful political and media elites continue to deny, just as sure as they would deny our right to save our very lives. The life or death truth that when you’re on your own, the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!

You cannot defend this as anything other than the dangerous ravings of a madman. LaPierre’s description of the world is demonstrably untrue, and not just in concrete, objective terms. To cite just one example: crime rates in the US have been falling for 20 years – a statistic that some gun rights advocates brandish as proof of the selectively defined cliché, “more guns, less crime.” Just as troubling is LaPierre’s internal inconsistency about what it means for NRA members to be “on their own”.”

Yes, America, we have a serious problem. Violent and fear mongering rhetoric is fueling the flames of intolerance and insurrectionism in our country. In combination with far too easy access to guns of all types, we have created a monster that is now rearing its’ ugly head.

It’s past time for us, as Americans, to decide on our morals and values. Do we value the right of people to live without devastating gun violence or do we value gun rights more? I know my answer.

We are better than this. Well, we should be anyway. The fact that we aren’t is frightening. If this continues, we will not be living in a democracy for much longer.

We have had #Enough

Millions against gun violence

guns everywhereThank you to One Million Moms and Dads Against Gun Violence for the image on the left. The numbers of parents and others against gun violence are surging. Why? Because we don’t believe that guns everywhere are making us safer. We can read the news articles and the headlines. Some of us have lost loved ones to bullets. We understand that we can do something about this constant and unsettling barrage of stories about shootings. In the last 2 days there were 2 college shootings. 2 more dead and 4 more injured. And this was a week after 9 were shot and killed and 9 others injured at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  A Texas professor has gone public with his resignation saying he doesn’t feel safe with all of the guns around and when the Texas law allowing students to carry concealed guns on campus goes into affect in August, he doesn’t want to be there for what might likely happen.

There are millions of Americans who are angry and appalled at the latest violent incidents in the country. The headlines read like a country at war. In fact, in my local newspaper this morning there were 2 headlines for articles that appeared next to each other. The one on the left stated: “Two students die in shootings at Texas, Arizona college campuses“. The one on the right reads: ” Violence spreads to Gaza, where Hamas leader calls for uprising.” And then on another page, the headline reads: Obama in Roseburg urges nation to ‘come together’ over gun violence. My paper chose the headline above when running an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times by Maria L. La Ganga where the headline read: Obama, visiting Roseburg families,is confronted by angry gun rights activists“.

Appalling. The hatred and extremism of the folks protesting a visit by the President of their country to comfort yet the latest families by gun violence is inexcusable. If his had happened to any other President, we would have been calling these folks insurrectionists. The definition, from the link: “an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.” Well?

But because it is the right wing extremists, so ugly in their hatred of a President who has done nothing to take away their rights or their guns, somehow they get away with it. Where else can people stand with loaded openly carried guns when the President’s motorcade comes by? And why were they allowed to do this? Rights? Armed intimidation by angry citizens?

There is a disconnect between reality and policy. It’s fueled by angry armed people who have been deceived by the corporate gun lobby and others on the right side of our political spectrum. It keeps them agitated and voting.

Insanity.

Which is it? Will we come together as a nation over gun violence or will the angry gun rights activists who represent a very small minority of Americans get their way because they are angry and armed? Time to start thinking about what this means. Decisions in America are not made at the end of a gun barrel. Bullets will not decide who will lead our country. If it comes to that, our democracy will end and we will become no better than the countries we criticize because they are constantly at war and where violence reigns.

Also in my local paper, a letter to the editor claimed this: Arming everyone is the answer to gun violence”:

There is just one obvious answer: Allow everyone to carry a gun either openly or concealed. Then, when some bad guy starts shooting, those around him will be able to defend themselves and others. This sounds a little crazy, but is there any other answer?

The suggestion that everyone should be armed is, of course, nonsensical given the facts. In developed democratized countries not at war, there are no headlines like the ones in my morning paper. Of course there are other answers and they don’t involve arming everyone. Guns in the hands of angry gun rights activists are not normal in other countries not at war. It should not be normal here.

What we have learned about most of the shooters involved in the latest rash of shootings on our campuses is that they were fascinated with guns and their parents even encouraged that fascination. The shooter in yesterday’s Arizona campus shooting, for example, loved his guns. And we found out after the Umpqua Community College shooting that the young man who decided to end the lives of 9 people also loved guns and was well versed in gun laws. He had a stockpile of guns which, at this point we are not sure whether were all purchased by him or also his gun loving mother. He was also someone who had developmental and emotional difficulties and should not have had easy access to guns.

Insanity.

A headline in another area newspaper said this: “‘Lucky One’, Matthew Downing, gives first statement about Oregon Community College massacre.” According to this account from one of the survivors, the Oregon shooter mercilessly slaughtered other human beings as though he was a machine. What happens to people when they have these kinds of thoughts and feelings and also access to guns? Something goes terribly wrong and innocent people are killed. From the above article:

Downing did so and said at that point Harper-Mercer fired into the center of the room and began asking students one by one if they were religious. The shooter fired at one student who said he was Christian and another who said she was Catholic.

The shooter reloaded two handguns with ammunition from his backpack during the killings, Downing said. Harper-Mercer was “firing on people who were just lying there,” Downing said.

Downing also said the shooter seemed to lose interest when a woman told him she couldn’t move her legs to stand up because of the pain.

Downing was lucky. He will never be the same. What he witnessed last week will always be in his brain and his life has changed forever. Lucky him.

Insanity.

Common sense tells us that things just can’t keep going the way they are. Millions of Americans are on the side of passing stronger gun laws to stop at least some of the massacres. Why would we not? We know the answer. The corporate gun lobby, representing mostly the gun industry and not their members, has a frightening hold on the country’s conversation about guns and on our political process:

In more than three decades of service to the NRA, Wayne LaPierre has done more than any other man alive to make America safe for crazed gunmen to build warlike arsenals and unleash terror on innocents at movie theaters and elementary schools. In the 1980s, he helped craft legislation to roll back gun control passed in the wake of the Kennedy and King assassinations. And since the late 1990s, twice he has destroyed political deals that might have made it hugely difficult for accused killers like Holmes and Lanza to get their hands on their weapons.

A predecessor once characterized the NRA as being “one of the world’s great religions,” and 64-year-old LaPierre is a strange fit to be its pope. LaPierre did not come from gun culture. He wasn’t a hunter, a marksman, a military man or a Second Amendment activist. “He’s not a true believer,” says NRA biographer Osha Gray Davidson. “He’s the first NRA chief you can say that about.”

But judging from the commentaries, comments, news coverage and finally, some courage by some of our politicians, things are changing. We are not letting candidates for the highest office in the land get away with saying, ” ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all,’” Seriously? There are more where this came from in this Salon article.

Picture yourself in the room with the Oregon shooter. Someone ( an Army veteran) did actually try to rush the shooter but he was shot and disabled by the shooter. But never mind that. Dr. Ben Carson is sure he would have done it differently and the outcome would have been different as a result.

Picture a room full of first graders. And one of them, Sarah, says to Jack- “Hey everybody, we can take this guy down. Everybody attack him.”

Insanity.

People like Dr. Ben Carson are in an increasingly small minority. The NRA, for example, represents ( or they say they are representing) about 4 million gun owners- give or take a million. A small percentage of Americans own guns.  Even fewer of these are actually members of the NRA. And for those folks, we are letting our kids and others be slaughtered?

Insanity.

In a recent post I wrote about the anger over the string of shootings- one following on the heels of another. We are turning that anger into action. Please join one of the many organizations working to prevent gun violence and let your voice be heard.

Where is common sense? We are better than this.

UPDATE:

Speaking of millions in favor of stronger gun laws and expanding Brady background checks, I ran across 2 articles in the Washington Post written by gun owners who want change. The headline on the first one is” “I’m a gun owner. The NRA doesn’t speak for me.”  The second article, also in the Washington Post, has this headline:Most gun owners support background checks and other limits. So why aren’t their voices heard?”

We know the answer to the question asked in the second article. And we also know that the first article’s writer is saying what many reasonable gun owners are saying. The NRA does not speak for them. So when our elected leaders wrap their heads around this idea, something will change and lives will be saved. Until then- calling all gun owners. Join with us in our efforts to make change happen. We need your voices.

UPDATE#2:

Since I mentioned the anti-government gun extremists who showed up to protest President Obama’s visit to Roseburg, Oregon, I feel the need to let my readers know that the man who organized the protest rally is a convicted felon.  Hmmmmm.

Insanity.

Armed flag carriers and other gun bullies

confederate flag-NRAThere is something about the gun extremists that just doesn’t fit with reality.  Take this small town in Virginia where residents have been forced to accept a gun shop they don’t want. From this article:

Cherrydale is the latest in a series of suburban areas that have tried to prevent firearms proprietors from coming to town. These efforts generally fail, mainly because of state laws. The mayor of Evanston, Illinois, recently tried to impose a ban on gun ranges in the Chicago suburb, but when it became clear that the measure wouldn’t withstand a legal challenge, the town adopted regulations this month that pushed ranges to the outskirts of town. Pleasant Hill, California, in San Francisco’s East Bay, tried to adopt a similar statute in 2013, and was sued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group. The lawsuit is ongoing.

“Part of the strategy of gun-rights advocates is to normalize guns,” says Adam Winkler, a lawyer and the author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms. “Having gun stores in every community makes them less odd” to non-gun-owners, Winkler says.

“Less odd.” Hardly. It’s just not normal to have guns everywhere and gun stores in places where people don’t want them. This is the bullying of America by the corporate gun lobby and gun extremists. It’s not about the second amendment any more.

And speaking of gun bullies,  what is the message by a group of armed guys outside of an Arizona Walmart store on Sunday? From the article:

The Arizona Republic reports that Jon Ritzheimer organized the Sunday afternoon protest of Walmart’s decision. Ritzheimer is a former Marine who staged a contentious rally outside a Phoenix mosque in May.

His group of self-proclaimed “patriots,” some of them armed, waved the rebel flag alongside the American one while chanting “U-S-A.”

Are these true patriots? Do we want these folks to be carrying guns around in public? Are they good guys with guns? And didn’t we just go through a national tragedy when 9 black Americans were shot and killed by a Confederate flag waver in Charleston, South Carolina? And isn’t the South Carolina legislature about to vote to take the Confederate flag down from the South Carolina state house?

At least Walmart and other businesses are showing some common sense when it comes to the aftermath of the Charleston shooting. A community is still grieving and family members are mourning the loss of loved ones. A young man who proudly exhibited photos of himself with the Confederate flag shot and killed 9 innocent black people in a Charleston church.

The guys in the article I linked to above represent a group of Americans who are in the minority but who should concern us all. Their views of the country do not reflect the majority but they get a lot of attention. And the worst of it is, sometimes these are the guys who commit heinous acts of violence because of their extremist views. They are ready for battle  a confrontation. Why? Rights? Bullies? Ideology? Hatred? Insurrectionist ideas? The guys with the guns get to make the rules according to Mr. Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association:

So what are the rules according to these folks? Loaded guns in public places intimidate and frighten the average person, not make them more comfortable around guns. Is that part of the game? Who wins and who loses in this stupid and dangerous game?

But back to the flag issue. There are reasons why the Confederate flag should not be sold at Walmart stores or other stores or should not be flown anywhere. The history is not a patriotic one, by the way. There is a long complicated history of this particular Confederate battle flag highlighted in a Snopes.com article:

However, the fact remains that the Confederate battle flag has long since become the pre-eminent symbol of the Confederacy and what it stood for, and across the span of several decades it has been co-opted by segregationist and white supremacist groups such as the Dixiecrats, the KKK, and the Aryan Nation. Certainly one can be a racist or a white supremacist without associating himself with “Southern Pride” or a Confederate battle flag, but for better or worse, no one group is any more “authorized” to use the Confederate battle flag as their symbol than another: the Confederate government and its military forces ceased to exist 150 years ago and therefore have no say or control over the usage of the Southern Cross.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans may sincerely object to the Confederate battle flag’s use by Neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other extremist groups, and perhaps some of the men who fought and died for the Confederacy would as well if they were alive today. But just as with the swastika, it’s likely to be a very, very long time before that symbol can be reclaimed and regarded in anything approaching a neutral manner, and probably not until the social issues underlying the public perception of that symbol have been more thoroughly canvassed.

The problem with this flag is those who are flaunting it are trying to make a point. And it’s not a point for the winning team.

Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign has called for the flag to come down but Gross also calls for the conversation about what happened in Charleston a few weeks ago to include keeping guns away from people who should not have them in the first place. The gun lobby would like that part of the conversation to go away. It’s not a winner for them to talk about gun extremists killing people in crimes of hatred and racism. It’s not a winner when kids shoot themselves or others in “accidental” gun discharges. It’s not a winner when young white men shoot small children in schools, in shopping malls, in colleges, in churches or other places of worship, or in movie theaters. It’s not a winner when “good guys” with guns shoot their partners/spouses in crimes of passion. It’s not a winner when “good guys” with guns shoot themselves in large numbers. There are no winners.

Back to flags.There are other flags carried and flown by the gun extremists. The Gadsden flag– “don’t tread on me” is seen in photos with armed gun extremists. This often goes with Molon Labe or Greek for “come and take it.”

A Nevada couple draped one of their shooting victims (2014 spree shooting) with the Gadsden flag. The message is clear.

Anarcho-Gadsden_flag.svg

What does this actually mean? Some gun activists who read my blog use the term molon labe. The message is that if you try to do anything with reasonable gun laws, we will fight you and the government and we will challenge anyone who tries to “come and take” guns away. Or else. Or else what? These seem to be small groups of people who organize around the idea that the government is out to take their guns and they make their point by walking around with openly carried loaded guns and flags. It’s the Texas Open Carry or Open Carry Tarrant County groups and others like them in other states. They like to think of themselves as patriots but patriots don’t intend to arm themselves to fight against their own country. The Civil War ended in 1865.

The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of militia groups, home grown terrorists and insurrectionist activity which mostly involves armed Americans. The Coaltion to Stop Gun Violence keeps an Insurrectionist Timeline. Here is the latest entry on that site:

May 28, 2015—As the Texas legislature debates whether to allow residents to openly carry handguns in public without a permit, background check or training, Open Carry Tarrant County leader Kory Watkins posts a message to Facebook “calling for the arrest of every elected official in Texas that voted against open carry.” Watkins adds, “They should be arrested, charged with treason and should face a punishment that could result in being hung from the tree of liberty.”

Sigh.

Some members of the NRA Board of Directors have made uncivil, offensive and insurrectionist statements. Check them out here. Ted Nugent, of course, is the most famous of the NRA Board members whose comments continue to get attention. Threatening to gun down a U.S. Senator is his latest outrageous and threatening comment. But he keeps getting elected to the Board so the membership must accept what he is saying since they don’t disavow him.

It’s not just the NRA. It’s other gun rights groups who have become more and more extreme of late. There’s Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America. Here’s the latest from him:

Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt, who said earlier this year that “the Second Amendment was designed for people just like” President Obama and his fellow Democrats, repeated the sentiment yesterday, saying that the only thing currently saving America is that President Obama knows that “if he goes too far” he’ll face an armed revolt.

Pratt told Houston-based radio host Sam Malone that if Obama doesn’t implement any “gun grabs” before he leaves office, “it won’t be for want of trying.”

Sigh.

There are others but you get my point. 

Back to gun bullies. The guys with the guns and the flags are making a statement. They are saying that they can carry their guns anywhere they want and they can do it while also carrying a symbol of racism and intolerance and it’s all legal. That’s because our state legislators have gone along with the insane idea that carrying guns around in public is “normal”. It’s not normal. It’s crazy. In combination with symbols of racism and insurrectionism, it does not make for a good picture of America.

So in real life then, when a young man walks around in a neighborhood carrying a long gun, should people be alarmed? We don’t know enough yet about the young man who was walking in a Kansas neighborhood with a long gun. He shot a woman and her daughter and then walked away. We don’t know yet if he was a “good guy” with a gun or a “bad guy” with a gun. But then, if we normalize the open carrying of guns in public this may the result. How do we tell whether guys carrying guns in neighborhoods have evil intent or are just doing it to make a point?

So to summarize- there are guys carrying guns and Confederate flags protesting a business decision to stop selling confederate stuff after the Charleston shooting. There are guys ( and sometimes women) carrying guns and other flags with symbols meant to intimidate, to bully and to make a point in public places in our country. There are guys carrying guns in our neighborhoods who sometimes shoot innocent people. And there are people forcing communities to have gun shops when they don’t want them in places where they shop or hang out with their families. And this is normal?

Yes, there are gun rights. Yes, there are gun shops, most of whom follow the rules and sell guns to people who are required to undergo background checks. Yes, there are people who enjoy shooting sports, hunting, collecting guns and who own guns for self defense. Yes, most gun owners are safe and responsible with their guns.

But there are also extremists who have something else in mind with their guns. There are people who can’t be safe and responsible with guns who are able to easily access them all over our country. In America, we determine elections and make decisions by using a process of voting and democratic governments. We don’t change our government at the end of a gun barrel. The last time we tried this was 150 years ago when the Civil War was fought leaving hundreds of thousands of dead Americans. We are not at war. We don’t need guns everywhere. We don’t want insurrectionists with their guns and flags displayed in public. We do need safer communities and we need stronger gun laws.

The gun bullies ( extremists) go too far. The corporate gun lobby is promoting fear and paranoia. Hate groups are promoting intolerance and racism. Americans are dying from gunshot injuries at alarming rates every day. Victims are telling their stories and trying to make a difference. Politicians are afraid to speak up for fear of losing money and support from a group of people who represent the minority of us. And we are not doing anything to stop the carnage.

We are better than this. Something has to change in our country. It looks like, at the least, the idea that a state government can fly a flag that symbolizes racism and hate has been challenged and we are having an important discussion about the use of the Confederate battle flag in public places. The discussion can’t end there. There are too many symbols of violence and hate being exhibited in public places in America. We should have a right to peace and tranquility in our communities. Most gun owners are reasonable people who don’t participate in offensive, intimidating and provocative behavior with their guns in public places. Most Americans find that kind of behavior anti-American.

So let’s work together to stop this insanity and work together to prevent the gun violence that is devastating our communities.

UPDATE:

Since I first posted this, the South Carolina legislature voted to take down the Confederate flag that flies in their Capitol square. So let’s hope others will do the same and stop flying the flag.

UPDATE:

I am not the only one to think of the gun lobby and gun extremists as bullies. This article calls it like it is:

We cower before the bully. We feel helpless against the bully. The president of the United States, Congress and police forces around the country can do nothing. Even when the work of the bully produces tragedy after tragedy, the bully grows stronger, sucking strength from the lives of its victims. And the bully gloats.

In April 2007, a deranged young man with a gun went on a rampage at Virginia Tech, killing 32 people and injuring around two dozen more in what remains the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. The response of our national bully, the National Rifle Association (NRA), when a horrified nation thought tighter gun control laws might be in order? “We won’t be pushed around,” insisted Bully-in-Chief Wayne LaPierre.

In July 2012, when another young man slaughtered 12 people and injured 58 others in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, the bully proclaimed, preposterously, “There is absolutely no correlation between guns and shooting deaths. Zero. None.” Just six months later, after yet another young man massacred 27 people—including 20 little kids—at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., the defiant bully said that schools needed more guns, for protection. The bully added that parents who lost their 6-year-olds were politicizing their victimhood and serving as “human shields” for the gun safety movement.  (…)

The bully also has money. Since 1990, the NRA has donated $21 million to politicians, 83 percent of it to Republicans. The gun control lobby doesn’t come close: $1.9 million to politicians, 94 percentto Democrats. Such largesse seems to blind our anti-tax conservatives to the cost of gun violence to our economy: at least $229 billion a year, according to an analysis byMother Jones, when you add up emergency and medical care, prison and criminal justice costs, lost wages, insurance, legal fees, police investigations and the like. That’s about $700 per American per year; in a state like Wyoming with a high rate of gun violence, it’s twice that.

The bully wants us to accept this as the new normal: that we adopt an armed, militarized lifestyle. It will repeatedly threaten and intimidate our government and us to advance this lethal political agenda. It’s time to name the NRA as a bully, treat it as a bully and stand up to it as a bully, to get beyond its deadly blockage of desperately needed gun safety laws in our country.

Who is thinking of our children?- today’s news of gun fanaticism and madness

4-17-15-think-of-the-kids
From farleftside.com

It’s madness. Where to begin? As more people carry more guns in more places, they also say and do more inane things with their guns and their thoughts about their “God given” rights to own and carry guns. It’s pretty overwhelming actually to sift through the stories that are posted about gun rights fanatics and insane shooting incidents. So for today, I will post just a few of many. Madness and fanaticism needs to be highlighted in order for the country to see how far the craziness is going about guns in America. Most especially, our political leaders need a dose of reality and common sense in order for them to get the courage to stand up for the majority.

Let’s get started. I will post just some of what is going on around the country.

  • A Seattle area baby was shot while sitting in her car seat during a road rage incident- presumably by a law abiding gun owner.  The one year old is in critical condition. You can read more about guns and babies in my recent post. Who is thinking of the children?
  • A South Carolina 3rd grader threatened his teacher with an air soft gun he brought to school. Where were the responsible adults? Kids learn from their parents and model parents’ behavior. Who is thinking of our children?
  • A Minnesota legislator, wearing his NRA tee shirt under his sport coat, made this ridiculous and insane statement upon the passage of unneeded gun bills in the Minnesota House: ” “Minnesota is a gun state,” said Cornish, wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt under his jacket, which itself was adorned with rifle and pistol pins. “It is past the time when you can beat up on gun owners.”” Cornish is making stuff up. Who has “beat up” on gun owners? That is a crazy and false statement that should be embarrassing to his colleagues who voted for this bill. When one legislator attempted an amendment that would restrict gun carriers at the state Capitol when school groups are touring, it was turned down. Another amendment to require background checks on private sales was also turned down. Who is thinking of our children?
  • Let me remind everyone that these provisions were not passed because Minnesotans were asking for them. They were passed because the corporate gun lobby is busy pushing to weaken gun laws across the country and they have managed to elect politicians to do their bidding. Who is thinking of the children?
  • One of the Republican presidential candidates is calling for insurrection. You just can’t make this stuff up. Senator Ted Cruz, part of the U.S. government himself, is calling for guns to be used to fight against the government. Common sense has taken a leave. This stuff is so extreme that even one of Cruz’s ultra conservative Senate colleagues had to back away from the insanity. From the article: ” TPM’s Sahil Kapur asked Grahamwhat he thought of his Texan colleague’s view of the Second Amendment, and the South Carolina senator was not impressed. He even invoked the Civil War, which should make Cruz’s people plenty upset. “Well, we tried that once in South Carolina,” Graham said. “I wouldn’t go down that road again.”” Who is thinking of our children?
  • I’m pretty sure a violent attempt to take over the government is against many laws. Shouldn’t Senator Cruz know that? He’s an attorney. So is Senator Graham who seems to get what Cruz means when he strikes his insurrectionist tone on the campaign trail. But this is the gun culture we have. Senator Ted Cruz is reflecting what a small minority of gun extremists in America actually believe. You can read more about that on the Insurrectionist Timeline brought to us by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Ted Cruz made their list. He must be very proud.
  • These folks are fomenting fear and paranoia and ready to shoot and fight to the death apparently against some sort of imaginary “enemy”. Of course Ted Cruz may want to remember that he IS the government when he says these things. But never mind common sense. Anything goes on the campaign trail for some folks but cozying up to the gun extremists will not be a winning strategy.
  • In the state of Oregon, it looks like a bill to require background checks on private gun sales is going to become law. In the “chicken little” mentality of the corporate gun lobby, the gun rights extremists have begun a move to recall the politicians who dared to vote for public safety and common sense. When these folks lose or don’t get their way, they stop at nothing to get even. It’s a sick and insane culture wrought by the folks who have convinced some that the sky will fall if reasonable gun laws pass. It hasn’t so far since the Brady background check law passed. Other gun laws have passed in our country and in states requiring stronger regulations to protect public safety and we are all still here. Go figure. That darned government has not managed to take away guns yet.
  • We need to talk about musicians and other performers who headline shows for causes. Apparently some musicians can’t do what they want or perform where they want to without the wrath of gun fanatics. Such is the case of country music star Tim McGraw who will perform this summer at a benefit concert for Sandy Hook Promise, formed after the killing of 20 first graders at Sandy Hook elementary school. The gun fanatics are in a state of hysteria over this. Do they own country music? What is wrong with this nonsense? Who is thinking of the children? Tim McGraw, from the linked article: ““Let me be clear regarding the concert for Sandy Hook given much of the erroneous reporting thus far.  As a gun owner, I support gun ownership,” he said. “I also believe that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety — most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children.  I can’t imagine anyone who disagrees with that.”“Through a personal connection, I saw first-hand how the Sandy Hook tragedy affected families and I felt their pain. The concert is meant to do something good for a community that is recovering,” he added.” Good grief. The pain and tragedy of the families of these young children is something the rest of us can not know. Reasonable gun owners support reasonable solutions to save our children. The gun extremists are out of control.
  • And yet, in Colorado, after common sense kept the gun lobby from getting its’ way to reverse the sensible public safety gun laws passed last year, one legislator is receiving mostly thank you comments from constituents for standing up for what’s right. That’s because the majority of citizens are opposed to the gun lobby’s extreme agenda and see it for what it is. Thurlow ( above) is a Republican but apparently not a bought and paid for gun lobby Republican.
  • Children are dying at an alarming rate every day in America. And yet, who is thinking of the children? As a country we get alarmed over poisons, pill bottles, swimming pool safety, second hand smoke, measles, the flu virus, eating laundry detergent pods, and other such safety hazards in the lives of our children. But guns? Not so much.

There’s much more gun and gun lobby madness of course. Every day there is much more. The gun lobby continues to push for extreme measures to weaken gun laws. They go too far. The public is not asking for or seeing the need for guns everywhere carried by anyone with no restrictions at all. Gun rights and gun safety reform can co-exist and do co-exist. The future of our country and our children depends on making sure they are safe in their homes and their communities. The fact that our legislators and Congress members are thinking more of themselves, their agenda, extreme views of gun rights , fear of a well financed  interest group, and their re-election means they are not thinking of the children.

There are solutions to our national gun violence epidemic and we can save the lives of our children if we have the will and the education about what we can do. The Brady Campaign has it right. The ASK program encourages parents, grandparents and others to ask if there are guns around where children play and hang-out. This is a simple solution to some of our preventable and avoidable gun deaths. Safe storage of guns can save lives as well. Young children are curious and will touch things they shouldn’t. It’s up to adults to keep them safe from danger. We should not be reading about babies shooting babies or babies getting shot while riding in their car seats in their parents’ cars. We should not be reading about 3rd graders bringing air soft or any other guns to school threatening their teachers. The American gun culture has gone awry. Who is thinking of the children?

We are better than this.

UPDATE:

I have already been updating this post but since my topic is madness and fanaticism with some insurrection thrown in, I really must post a comment from one of my readers. I will not give him the satisfaction of posting it as a comment with his name because that is what he wants. He somehow believes that he can rattle me with this comment. Rather I laughed  and wondered in what world he lives? I do know from what city and state he comes because that comes through on comments on this posting sight. So he is more or less hiding in plain sight. Here is his comment, made on my post about Virginia Tech and the many victims of gun violence in April. Sensitive guy this one:

Did you ever consider that in the event that you actually GOT universal gun confiscation, that the end result would be armed revolution(Civil war) by all those “right wing nutjobs” you hate and fear so much? AND FYI the gun owners in the US out number every police officer and solder on earth COMBINED, by about two MILLION to one. The “gun nuts” “only” outnumber the combined government forces in the CONUS by a paltry twenty two million to one. I understand that I am intruding into your fantasy world and that you are incapable of understanding anything not couched in stupid hippy propaganda BS , but cripes lady why do you provoke people who honestly believe that ANY anti-gun law will end with the genocide of them and their families? People who WILL fight to the death in, and may even win a civil war ,that WILL be the result of any real attempt at gun confiscation. I understand that none of this will penetrate the six inches of neo-communist armor that protects your brain from reality, but I felt I had to try and drive a reality spike into your fantasy world. Barring that I could piss you off, and that in itself is a reward.

Sigh. A prime example of my point. I hope he will get his reward somewhere else because he didn’t p%$# me off.