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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

And The Children Shall Lead

Category: Guns
Posted: 02/19/18 23:36

by Roxanne Mindeman

Lefties like me who've been in the gun safety battle for ...forever... have spent more than our share of time feeling defeated and exhausted. But the kids at Parkland are giving me hope. They're taking on a monumental battle that has confounded many of us for decades. Their voice, empowered by unspeakable loss, is uniquely poised to challenge hearts and opinions across the political spectrum. I say, "Let them lead!"

As they do, the rest of us need to attend every demonstration, join every march, sign every petition, go to every school safety meeting, support every anti-bullying program, fight for mental health parity in all health insurance, and confront every spineless, rudderless politician who trades our children's safety for NRA campaign contributions. And when we're exhausted, and in fear that the NRA will just win again - and they might - we need to remind ourselves that every kid at Parkland and Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech and a dozen other schools, was somebody's baby. It's only by happenstance of geography and the Grace of God that it's never been your child's school or mine. So far.

The kids at Parkland, and all of the rest of us in this battle, face a long hard road. But a critical mass is building. The long time unreachable are stopping to think. The exhausted are getting a second wind. The tone-deaf are getting nervous. There's hope in the air. We all need to do our part to keep it alive.
comments (2) permalink

More Non-Action Is A Violation Of Public Safety

Category: Guns
Posted: 02/14/18 20:28

by Dave Mindeman

This happens nowhere else on earth.

Another school shooting, a really bad one, in Florida. And the above phrase is what keeps getting repeated in my brain.

Why is that?

We don't have a higher number of mentally ill than most countries. Our society is open, but not more than other western democracies. We have law enforcement that is just as aware of the problem as any other country. We probably have better law enforcement techniques than most places. Yet, we are uniquely plagued with this type of mass violence.

The one and only difference between us and the rest of the world is that we have a Second Amendment. And it is not the Amendment itself that is the key to our problem, it is how it is used to proliferate guns.

There is no excuse for this. We mourn the victims. We offer prayers and empathy. We investigate the why and the how and the who. But in the end, we continue to do nothing to even make an attempt to stop this carnage.

American carnage. I remember Trump using that phrase in his inaugural address - but it wasn't about guns. No way. It was about his perceived view of American economics.

But you know what? The REAL American carnage was demonstrated today. Too many mothers and fathers are feeling incredible loss today. Too many others have felt it in the recent past. And unless something is done, too many will feel it in the future.

Imagine your child in school. Imagine the sound of gunfire in a hallway. Imagine the fear and panic they must feel - and you can do nothing to help. Nothing. Is this how we are going to deal with this national problem? Doing nothing?

I know we cannot fix this entirely. There are too many variables that we cannot control. But, for heaven's sake, we DO NOT HAVE TO MAKE IT EASIER for this to happen.

The Second Amendment is sacred. I get it. I am not arguing with that. But that amendment was written when we had single shot rifles that took 10 to 15 minutes to reload. Now we are dealing with automatic weapons that can kill dozens in minutes. We can and must compensate for this.

Do hunters head down to their local Walmart and request AR-15s for deer hunting season? If they do, then it is hard to describe them as a sports person. Guns for recreational use get no argument from anybody. That is the common sense aspect of the 2nd Amendment.

But common sense is sorely lacking in virtually every other area when it comes to the topic of guns.

The first thing that always comes to mind is background checks. We don't want people who have serious problems to get these types of weapons. So let us have a credible data base and keep it up to date and correct. We are not supposed to allow domestic abusers to have guns - but they get them. The mentally ill are supposed to be flagged - but they also get them.

We have too many loopholes. Let's be clear -EVERY SINGLE SALE OF A GUN MUST HAVE A BACKGROUND CHECK. Every one. Family. Gun shows. Everything. Yeah, sure, I know. Criminals will still get guns. They will get around a background check. But is it hardcore criminals that are doing these mass shootings? Too often, it is a kid. Too often, a disgruntled employee. Too often, someone with family problems. Too often, someone who is bullied.

They aren't criminals, but they become one when they pick up a gun in anger.

Do not let this pass once again, without action. First thing to do is to not let conceal and carry reciprocity pass in your state. If my state doesn't want to recognize the permits in another state, let's respect that. And secondly, pass legislation wherever we can to make it a certainty that every gun sale has a credible background check - and then let's enforce that requirement.

There are too many hearts broken here. Too many. And we have allowed too many hearts to be broken in the past with no action. Our future does not have to continue this violent chain of events.

Common sense gun laws are not a violation of the rights of gun owners. But not acting is a violation of public safety.

Action is needed.
comments (0) permalink

Gun Safety Is Important - And We Are Still Failing To Act

Category: Guns
Posted: 11/07/17 08:28

by Dave Mindeman

The myriad of gun trolls that pervade the internet dismiss any argument about gun safety with a blizzard of arguments that never seem to center on what guns do.

The argument they make is that if you don't know the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic weapon, then you have no business in the debate.

Really?

Do semi-automatic and automatic weapons both kill? Do they kill large numbers of people in a short period of time? What else do we need to know? The technicalities (and there are many) that gun manufacturers have placed on the mechanics and nuances of the various weapons in this country are meant to distort what the real debate happens to be. And that debate is essentially, how do we keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

The NRA and gun activists oppose any changes in any method of weapons restriction. We cannot have a CDC study on guns. We cannot ban weapons from those on the no-fly list. We cannot have an effective registry because the lobbyists refuse to allow proper records to be maintained.

Here is the main example:

The ATF's record-keeping system lacks certain basic functionalities standard to every other database created in the modern age. Despite its vast size, and importance to crime fighters, it is less sophisticated than an online card catalog maintained by a small town public library.

To perform a search, ATF investigators must find the specific index number of a former dealer, then search records chronologically for records of the exact gun they seek. They may review thousands of images in a search before they find the weapon they are looking for. That's because dealer records are required to be "non-searchable" under federal law. Keyword searches, or sorting by date or any other field, are strictly prohibited.


Records still can be found - but the intention is to make it slow and difficult. How effective are background checks going to be if records are maintained this way?

The recent "error" by the Air Force about the Texas shooter is, yet, another example of how reports on guns are not taking seriously. The NRA lobbies Congress to make things as difficult as possible.

And then there is the merging of gun records and mental health records.

Even though federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to certain individuals with a history of mental illness, history has shown that it's still too easy for dangerous people experiencing a mental health crisis to obtain firearms. Currently, laws are in place that require licensed dealers (but not unlicensed sellers) to conduct a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm to screen out these and other prohibited purchasers.

However, federal law cannot require states to make information identifying these people available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks, and many states fail to voluntarily report the necessary records to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), especially with respect to people prohibited from possessing guns for mental health reasons. As a result, some individuals known to be dangerous can pass background checks and obtain firearms.


You would think that we could make these processes easier and more straightforward. But under the watchful eye of the NRA, all of these methods of maintaining records are made difficult, restricted and in some cases simply ignored by the various states - especially deep red ones.

At some point, we have to decide what type of legislator do we want to make decisions on the laws regarding guns.

What we have now is just woefully inadequate and it has made America less safe than other developed countries. Terrorism has certainly given us a set of difficult problems - but compound that with dangerous people obtaining military style weapons in a retail setting - well, I think you know what that means.

The last mass killing with a gun in Australia led to gun bans and actual confiscation. They have not had a major incident since. Weapons are highly restrictive in Europe and ownership in Japan is minimal.

We, not only have the worst record on mass killings of any other industrialized country, but we are the only nation that pushes for less control on weapons rather than more.

Nobody advocates doing what Australia did. But there are common sense measures that can work if allowed to and there is public support to do just that.

Guns are never going away in America. And that is fine. But they are dangerous and public safety demands that we address that.

Technical arguments about guns don't matter - safety does.
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