Category Archives: guns

Exhuming William Borah

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Stephen Paddock’s brother called him “just a guy”, and indeed he was. His well-planned, perfectly orchestrated antics in Las Vegas were really nothing out of the ordinary. Another broken record for Guinness, he simply raised the bar for the next aspiring civilian mass-murderer on U.S. soil, and pushed the privatization of war to a whole new level. No surprises here. What else would be expected from the most warlike Empire in history? Welcome to The United States of America. We’ve been perfecting war for profit for more than 241 years now. Rough figures I’ve compiled indicate that the U.S. Military has been busy on battlefields for a total of over 460 years, fighting somewhere in the neighborhood of 106 separate wars. Obviously there’s been considerable overlap, lots of simultaneous fighting, and very little down time.

Through the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S.A. busied itself with nation-building. There were millions of inconvenient Indigenous impediments to eliminate, and covetous European countries to conquer. Manifest Destiny required rivers of blood. From 1900 until present day, with most borders firmly established, the U.S. Military has busied itself with the tremendous task of controlling world resources, managing trade, and taming rogue nations who sought to play outside the established rules of what would become the world’s most powerful and feared superpower by mid-twentieth century. For Empire’s citizens, war is, and has always been the norm. Just business as usual. We are assured that our bravest and best in the world military fights our battles so we can enjoy our freedom. Little children learn to stand in reverence, pledge allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, and aspire to wear the uniform of the beloved fighting man. Their fondest dreams include firing the next generation of assault rifle at some, yet to be determined, enemy. Toy manufacturers have long made those dreams come true with authentic plastic replicas, complete with everything but real bullets, blood, and guts.

If “Happiness is a warm gun.” as the Beatles told us, tongues in cheeks, U.S. citizens must have about the happiest trigger-fingers on earth. With the N.R.A. owning the souls and reelection hopes of nearly every U.S. Senator and Congressman, talk of gun control never takes a serious turn. The most we can expect from our lawmakers is a basket load of bogus prayers and crocodile tears. Every time another aspiring mass-murderer takes to the streets, self-proclaimed Liberal voices meekly propose Band-Aid fixes. Mandatory gun registration, assault weapon bans, closing the gun show loophole, no open carry, background checks, and on, and on, and all I’m hearing is blah-fucking-blah. And why? Because every human being on earth is capable of murder, and guns are the easiest, most efficient means to kill. Each one of us teeters on the breaking point. Some much closer than others. I decided at a very young age, never to allow guns in my house, because if I had access to them, I’d surely be wasting away in prison by now. Case in point: I can think of nearly 600 people in Washington, D.C. alone, without whom this country and the planet would be better off. Too bad Paddock wasn’t about 2400 miles east of Vegas when he snapped, went off his rocker, and rat-a-tat-tatted his way into history.

The Las Vegas Massacre was nothing special. In Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, similar violence against a civilian population would barely make the news. Ours is a violent society. We think nothing of bombing foreign humans into oblivion. Unquestioningly we watch as our leaders send the U.S. Military into combat zones across the earth, creating chaos wherever it goes. We thank those who wear the uniform of death for their service. We love having the baddest, meanest armed force in history, and our violent mindset spills easily and naturally into our everyday lives. Americans love their guns. They love the power, they embrace their collections of steel phalli, and if you even suggest disarmament, they’ll blow your sorry ass into next week. U.S. citizens won’t voluntarily buy into any form of gun control, for any reason, any time in the foreseeable future, no matter how many of their friends, neighbors, and relatives are slaughtered. Savagery is embedded in the National Genome.

There will be no meaningful domestic gun control until the day we eliminate war as a means for settling disputes, gaining new national boundaries, and controlling foreign national resources. Which brings us to US. Senator William Edgar Borah. Idaho elected Borah to office in 1907, and kept him there until his death in 1940. The highest mountain in the state is named Mount Borah, and Senator Borah’s ideas may yet help mankind find a high point in history. In 1923, still haunted by the carnage of World War I, Senator Borah introduced a resolution in the Senate, which announced and defined the desire of The United States to abandon the war system in favor of strict adherence to world law. The following is an excerpt from The Borah Resolution:

…be it resolved, that it is the view of the Senate of The United States that war between nations should be outlawed as an institution or means for the settlement of international controversies by making it a public crime under the law of nations and that every nation should be encouraged by solemn agreement or treaty to bind itself to indict and punish its own international war breeders or instigators and war profiteers under powers similar to those conferred upon our Congress with the power to define and punish offenses against the law of nations; And be it resolved further that a code of international law of peace based upon the outlawing of war and on the principle of equality and justice between all nations, amplified and expanded and adapted and brought down to date should be created and adopted.

Stephen Paddock was just a guy. Like your neighbor, your friend, your brother. We won’t stop the next escapade by requiring registration, background checks, or limiting the size of the tools of the trade. The terror of mass murder is the direct result of the acceptance of war. The United States of America is a runaway train, loaded to overflowing with atomic bombs, bunker-busters, cluster bombs, landmines, tanks, fighter jets, missiles, rockets, and munitions of every caliber, shape, and size. It is on a collision course with all the hopes and dreams of our children, and has trashed any semblance of freedom, safety, or happiness anywhere on earth with the endless specter of war.

I’ve climbed countless mountains in my lifetime, but Mount Borah presents by far the greatest challenge. The actual mountain has a direct and easy route to the summit, but Senator Borah’s resolution never got off the ground. Too many profiteers had made their fortunes through the bloodshed of World War I. If he were alive and pushing his resolution today, Borah would likely be laughed right off the Senate floor. Ending the cycle of violence appears to be an impossible chore. My friend John Rachel has a plan, and what I believe to be a viable one. It offers substantial monetary rewards for those who sing the song of peace on earth. If it caught fire, The Peace Dividend would insure the ouster of N.R.A. whores in Congress, replace them with peace candidates, and put an end to war. This would signal a final and welcome end to the Dark Ages, and pave the road to total disarmament, both militarily and publicly.

And if I hear even one of you Second Amendment jackals out there whining about your God-given/Constitutional right to own guns, I’m going to buy myself a Glock, shove it in your mouth, and blow your pea brains into the next county. And that, my friends, is why nobody can be trusted with a gun. Each one of us teeters on the breaking point. Some much closer than others. Don’t make me come over there!

By John Rohn Hall/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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The Rules of the Gun Debate The rules for discussing firearms in the United States obscure the obvious solutions.

A parable:

A village has been built in the deepest gully of a floodplain.

At regular intervals, flash floods wipe away houses, killing all inside. Less dramatic—but more lethal—is the steady toll as individual villagers slip and drown in the marshes around them.

After especially deadly events, the villagers solemnly discuss what they might do to protect themselves. Perhaps they might raise their homes on stilts? But a powerful faction among the villagers is always at hand to explain why these ideas won’t work. “No law can keep our village safe! The answer is that our people must learn to be better swimmers – and oh by the way, you said ‘stilts’ when the proper term is ‘piles,’ so why should anybody listen to you?”

So the argument rages, without result, year after year, decade after decade, fatalities mounting all the while. Nearby villages, built in the hills, marvel that the gully-dwellers persist in their seemingly reckless way of life. But the gully-dwellers counter that they are following the wishes of their Founders, whose decisions two centuries ago must always be upheld by their descendants.

The deadliest mass shooting in American history has restarted the long debate whether something can be done to impede these recurring slaughters. That debate is conducted pursuant to rigid rules.

Rule 1. The measures to be debated must bear some relationship to the massacre that triggered the debate. If the killer acquired his weapons illegally, it’s out of bounds to point out how lethally easy it is to buy weapons legally. If the killer lacked a criminal record, it’s out of bounds to talk about the inadequacy of federal background checks. The topic for debate is not, “Why do so many Americans die from gunfire?” but “What one legal change would have prevented this most recent atrocity?”

Rule 2. The debate must focus on unusual weapons and accessories: bump stocks, for example, the villain of the moment. Even the NRA has proclaimed itself open to some regulation of these devices. After the 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, attention turned to large capacity magazines. What is out of bounds is discussion of weapons as in themselves a danger to human life and public safety.

Rule 3. The debate must always honor the “responsible gun owners” who buy weapons for reasonable self-defense. Under Rule 1, these responsible persons are presumed to constitute the great majority of gun owners. It’s out of bounds to ask for some proof of this claimed responsibility, some form of training for example. It’s far out of bounds to propose measures that might impinge on owners: the alcohol or drug tests for example that are so often recommended for food stamp recipients or teen drivers.

Rule 4. Gun ownership is always to be discussed as a rational choice motivated by reasonable concerns for personal safety. No matter how blatantly gun advocates appeal to fears and fantasies—Sean Hannity musing aloud on national TV about how he with a gun in his hands could have saved the day in Las Vegas if only he had been there—nobody other than a lefty blogger may notice that this debate is about race and sex, not personal security. It’s out of bounds to observe that “Chicago” is shorthand for “we only have gun crime because of black people” or how often “I want to protect my family” is code for “I need to prove to my girlfriend who’s really boss.”

These rules are powerful, and I myself have sometimes played the game according to them. I suggested here in The Atlantic back in 2015:

A requirement that gun owners carry insurance would not only protect potential accident victims—including gun owners, since many gun accidents are self-inflicted—against economic loss. An insurance requirement would create incentives for more responsible gun behavior. Just as insurance companies offer better rates to those who install burglar alarms, so they might offer better rates to those who install secure gun safes. Just as a prior accident raises the future cost of car insurance, so careless gun owners will be encouraged to exercise better care in the future.

I still think this is a good idea. But I’ve come around more and more to the gun advocate point of view that there is something artificial and even dishonest about the technocratic approach to gun control. There’s nothing wrong with, say, Nick Kristof’s list of ideas in an October 2 New York Times column of proposals such as

Limit gun purchases by any one person to no more than, say, two a month, and tighten rules on straw purchasers who buy for criminals. Make serial numbers harder to remove.

But once you have accepted that it’s reasonable for citizens to accumulate firearms at the rate of 24 a year, it’s hard to imagine that there is really anything else you can do that will prevent a lot of gun deaths. Americans die from gunfire in proportions unparalleled in the civilized world because Americans own guns in proportions unparalleled in the civilized world. More guns mean more lethal accidents, more suicides, more everyday arguments escalated into murderous fusillades.

It’s of course imaginable that by undertaking a vast network of ultra-intrusive interventions into family and personal life, a society could reduce those negative outcomes even without reducing its arsenals of firearms.

Leah Libresco, in a much praised article in the October 3 Washington Post offered just such an alternative.

Instead, I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

There are many ways to describe such a project, but “narrowly tailored” is not it. There are some 23 million American men over age 65. Identifying which of them are depressed—and then providing access to mental health for that subgroup—would be a social intervention of a very large scale. Even more impressive though is the project to identify young men at risk of violence and then to dissuade them from it. Since one of the most powerful indicator of that risk is race, undertaking such a project while also complying with civil rights laws will be more daunting yet. It is as if we decided that rather than crudely require airline passengers to wear seatbelts during turbulence, we instead would take the “narrowly tailored” approach of mapping all the air pressure variations throughout the planet’s atmosphere in order to pilot around them.

There are subtle, sophisticated, and nuanced approaches to the gun problem that balance the rights of gun owners against the imperatives of gun safety. They may well even make some difference at the margin. But they are unlikely to make any significant difference. Americans debate these approaches not because they are likely to be effective, but because the methods that will work—that have worked in every other advanced society—are here politically taboo.

Was there one legal change that could have thwarted Stephen Paddock? Probably not. But the reason crimes like his are so common here, and so rare in western Europe, is not that we are afflicted with more Stephen Paddocks than they, but because their Stephen Paddocks find it so much more difficult to obtain guns, and especially large quantities of guns. It is not impossible there either of course. The jihadist terrorists who killed 130 people in November 2015 carried rifles, as did the Charlie Hebdo killers.

But a society is in a much better position to stop shooting deaths when it can tightly regulate the buying and carrying of weapons long before they are ever used to murder anybody. In all but a half dozen American states, it would be perfectly legal for people like the Charlie Hebdo killers to walk to the very front door of their targets with their rifles slung over their shoulders, lawful responsible gun owners to the very second before they opened fire on massed innocents.

Like the villagers in the flood plain in my parable, Americans are unlikely to see much benefit from their ingenious technical solutions to gun violence so long as guns are easily available to just about everyone who wants them.

So in a limited sense, the gun advocates are right. The promise of “common sense gun safety” is a hoax, i.e. Americans probably will not be able to save the tens of thousands of lives lost every year to gun violence—and the many more thousands maimed and traumatized—while millions of Americans carry guns in their purses and glove compartments, store guns in their night tables and dressers. Until Americans change their minds about guns, Americans will die by guns in numbers resembling the casualty figures in Somalia and Honduras more than Britain or Germany.

It’s truly hard to imagine that this change will be led by law. Guns are inscribed into the Constitution of the United States and the individual states. On the other hand, it’s also in most states legal for a parent to strap her child into a car seat, roll the windows up tight, and smoke a pack of cigarettes in the vehicle.  Parents almost universally refrain, not because they are compelled, but because they love their children and will not willingly expose them to acknowledged dangers.

Maybe the most decisive first step toward a safer society is to think less, for now, about (comparatively rare) mass shootings—and think more instead about (horrifyingly commonplace) everyday tragedies like this one in Tampa, Florida, on September 21: “A 4-year-old Florida girl has died after accidentally pulling the trigger of a gun when she reached into her grandmother’s purse for candy.”

Or this one, September 29, in Dearborn, Michigan: Two three-year-old children have been shot by another toddler at a home daycare facility in the US state of Michigan.” Or this, from Kentucky on August 1:Police said a 2-year-old died Monday after being shot in the head in his Louisville home. … [T]he boy and his 3-year-old brother found the gun in the top of a closet.”

The adults who exposed those children to death and injury surely thought they were doing the right thing by having guns in their home. But they were wrong, dead wrong. As Melinda Wenner Moyer writes in the current issue of Scientific American: “The research on guns is not uniform, and we could certainly use more of it. But when all but a few studies point in the same direction, we can feel confident that the arrow is aiming at the truth—which is, in this case, that guns do not inhibit crime and violence but instead make it worse.”

And the surest sign that gun advocates know how lethal the science is for their cause is their determination to suppress it: since the mid-1990s, Republicans in Congress have successfully cut off federal funding for non-industry gun-safety research.  That’s not what you do when the facts are on your side.

Gun safety begins, then, not with technical fixes, but with spreading the truthful information: people who bring guns into their homes are endangering themselves and their loved ones.

Such a change would not in itself prevent massacres like that in Las Vegas, any more than relocating the village in my parable would stop all drownings. Creeks course down hillsides as well as through valleys. But in an America where guns were viewed as they are in Australia or Canada, the project of moving two dozen of them into a hotel suite would likely be detected somewhere along the way. The person moving those guns would find himself in trouble—not for murder—but for some petty gun infraction. His weapons might be confiscated, or he himself sent to prison for some months. His plan would be interrupted very likely without anyone ever imagining what had been contemplated. Mass shootings so seldom happen in other countries not because they have developed carefully crafted policies against shootings, but because they have instituted broad policies to restrict guns.

Those countries do not restrict gun ownership to zero. According to the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey, rates of gun ownership in Switzerland and Finland are more than half the US rate; in Canada, France, Norway, and Sweden more than one-third the US rate.

But those countries do tightly regulate the movement of guns from place to place. Because they regard gun ownership as a privilege rather than a right, they screen much more carefully not only for criminal records, but for histories of addiction, mental health treatment, and domestic violence. They test whether applicants for gun licenses can in fact, and not just in self-assessment, handle their weapons responsibly. They protect against major gun crime with the same “broken windows” policing philosophy that Americans used to secure their cities in the 1990s: lawbreakers typically commit a lot of petty infractions on their way to bigger crimes, and enforcing against the former can head off many of the latter.

Even more basically: because there are fewer guns and gun owners to track, those who are dangerous stand out more conspicuously, before it is too late. By living above the floodplain, those countries better manage the flood. Americans insist instead on seeking the one technical fix that would save lives without reducing guns. It’s an illusion for which Americans annually pay a higher price in blood than they shed in most of the nation’s wars.

By David Frum/TheAtlantic

Posted by The NON-Conformist

In a Country of White Domestic Terrorists, the NRA Wants to Make Sure They Are Not Labeled As Such

In the United States, white people are the dominant group that produces homegrown domestic terrorists. The most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, in which a white gunman named Stephen Paddock opened fire on a concert of 22,000 people, killing at least 59 and injuring 527, is a case in point. Despite the proliferation of these individuals and the extent of the massacres they create, there is a concerted effort by many not to label them as terrorists.

What is terrorism? Government agencies use different definitions. The FBI says there is no universally accepted definition, but according to the Code of Federal Regulations, terrorism is “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” As a technical term, terrorism depends on the motive and intent of the perpetrator.

In addition, the FBI defines domestic terrorism as “the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The state of Nevada, where the Las Vegas massacre took place, defines a terrorist act as “any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to … cause great bodily harm or death to the general population.”

Given these varying definitions of terrorism, exactly what is terrorism is open to debate, subject to interpretation and is highly racialized in the United States. People who are Muslim and dark skinned typically are called terrorists, while white American men who engage in acts of carnage are dismissed as lone wolves. Thus, terrorism is rendered a racialized affair, a matter of white skin privilege. Stephen Paddock is responsible for the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, and with 23 weapons recovered from the Mandalay Bay hotel rooms where he staged the attack, and 19 recovered from his home, some would reasonably believe he was a terrorist. Yet, there is no consensus as to whether this is the case. This, as white domestic terrorism is going unchecked as white supremacists, rightwing extremists, militias and others commit a majority of the acts of terror in America—115 out of 201 incidents between 2008 and 2016, as opposed to 63 committed by Islamic extremists and 19 committed by leftwing extremists and militias. The problem is so considerable among law enforcement, if not the policymakers, that the FBI is investigating 1,000 white supremacists for suspected domestic terrorism activity, and has been investigating the infiltration of law enforcement by white supremacists, who are more likely to kill police officers.

There are certain forces in society who have an interest in not having white mass shooters labeled as terrorists. While guns are framed as a matter of constitutional rights, arms manufacturing is also a lucrative business.  The gun lobby has an interest in producing more and more firearms with minimal regulation and stopping even the most moderate gun control legislation. Further, many politicians depend on millions of dollars in donations from the gun lobby have a tangible financial interest in normalizing white terrorism. In addition, policymakers who would wage war with Muslim nations also have a vested interest in making terrorism a color-coded endeavor relegated only to Islamic groups.

Once a mainstream organization for hunters, marksmen and conservationists, the National Rifle Association has become a hardline Second Amendment absolutist, and perhaps the most successful lobbying group in Washington. The NRA has enjoyed an income boom over the last few years, in 2016 the organization listed its revenue as being over $400 million —all tax-free for the nonprofit organization with millions in assets and offshore accounts, and whose chief executive Wayne LaPierre earns over $5 million in annual salary.

As Politico reported, the NRA rewrote the Second Amendment, making millions of people believe the amendment is about an individual’s unregulated right to a gun for recreation or self-defense. They have accomplished this through strident antigovernment rhetoric, racism and advocating extremist positions such as legalizing the carrying of weapons anywhere, including streets, bars and churches, the use of cop-killer bullets and military-grade weapons.

Immediately before the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people, LaPierre said the then-new assault weapons ban “gives jackbooted Government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property and even injure and kill us.” This stance caused its former president Richard Riley to tell The Washington Post, “We were akin to the Boy Scouts of America . . . and now we’re cast with the Nazis, the skinheads and the Ku Klux Klan.”  President George H.W. Bush resigned from the group as a result.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, even called the NRA terrorists. When asked in 2015 if he would come to the table and negotiate with the pro-gun lobby, he said: “This is not a negotiation with the NRA. We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”  The Brady Campaign has argued NRA policies are killing cops by protecting gun manufacturers and dealers from accountability and allowing violent criminals to obtain guns without a background check.

The NRA has normalized the amassing of weapons by its white male base by arguing that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” as LaPierre once said. After each gun massacre, the group and its surrogates claim the issue of guns should not be politicized. Yet, the gun lobby is very political, as the primary force behind the Stand Your Ground Laws used to justify the vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin and other young Black men. The organization also donated $30 million to the Trump campaign after enjoying years of painting Obama as a boogeyman–a Kenyan-born secret Muslim who was leading a plot to confiscate all of the guns– in order to boost gun sales to historic levels.

The NRA uses fear and race baiting to make Americans believe that minorities, rather than bad policies and easy access to firearms, are the cause of gun violence. Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said the NRA understands the racial dynamics at play. “As long as we can blame something other than guns, America will not have to come to terms with the truth that violence is a complicated phenomenon that is made far more lethal by the easy availability and killing power of firearms,” he said. “And for an organization with an overwhelmingly conservative, white base, that ‘something other’ is minorities.”

Following last year’s Orlando massacre, Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said gun control would not prevent attacks, but fighting terrorism would. “It’s time for us to admit that radical Islam is a hate crime waiting to happen. The only way to defeat them is to destroy them — not destroy the right of law-abiding Americans to defend ourselves” he said. At its 2012 annual conference, the NRA selected radical Islamophobe Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, who said there should be “no mosques in America” as keynote speaker of a prayer breakfast, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Boykin argued that “Islam is evil” and “a totalitarian way of life” that “should not be protected under the First Amendment.”

Black activists have accused the NRA of using race as a scare tactic to their legions of white members. Following the police shooting death of Philando Castile in Minnesota, the NRA blamed the Black man for his own death. Bill Whittle, a new NRA commentator who promotes the academic racism of white nationalists, believes Black people are intellectually inferior, that there is a link between IQ, race and crime, and that races could be divided between “civilized man” and “barbarian.” Ted Nugent, an NRA board member, commented in 2104 following the events in Ferguson, Missouri: “The overwhelming majority of violent crime across America is conducted by young, black males who, sadly, are on the self-inflicted expressway to prison or an early grave-or more often than not, both.”

Click for Video

Two NRA ads were criticized for their political extremism and racism. The first, narrated by Dana Loesch, vilify protesters and all but calls for civil war, was likened to the white equivalent of an ISIS recruiting video:

The second ad was narrated by NRA TV host Grant Stinchfield. Stinchfield—who recently called for the bombing of California by North Korea—defends the first video by attacking “the violent left” and going after Black activists.

In the wake of Las Vegas, Republicans in Congress are so far moving forward this week with the Hearing Protection Act, which would make it easier to purchase silencers by removing them from the list of items regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934. Part of a larger package called the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, the silencer provision is designed to protect hunters and hunting dog from hearing loss, according to the sponsors of the bill. Gun control advocates argue such legislation would enable mass shooters by making it harder to hear gunfire and locate gunmen. The original hearing for the legislation had been postponed when Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was critically wounded in a shootout during baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Gun control groups are opposed to other NRA sponsored legislation such as the proposed concealed carry reciprocity, which would force each state to recognize the concealed carry standards of every other state, allowing violent offenders to carry hidden handguns.

In the wake of the deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, with white supremacists and Nazis intimidating people with their military-style weapons, the SPLC called for states to change their open carry laws.

Meanwhile, thanks to the NRA, Congress has now defunded the two decades old Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s gun violence research program, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which seeks to treat gun violence as public health issue so as to determine its causes and ultimately prevent it.

In America, where mass shootings and gun proliferation reveal a uniquely American problem, white men are a terrorist threat. But if the NRA has anything to do with it, white men will never be called terrorists.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

The Double Standard In How The Media Is Portraying The Las Vegas Shooter

Headlines described the man behind the biggest mass shooting in modern U.S. history as a country music fan.

As the nation reels from the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, some people have noticed a double standard in how the media has portrayed 64-year-old Stephen Paddock versus other mass shooters.

Paddock shot into a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas on Sunday, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 before authorities found him dead in his hotel room with a cache of weapons.

As the news broke, major outlets across the country wrote headlines that humanized Paddock, pointing out that he was a country music fan, for example. They also portrayed his violent act as an anomaly, labeling him a “lone wolf” who “doesn’t fit [the] mass shooter profile” rather than a part of a systemic problem of violence by white men in this country.

Past mass shooters who were nonwhite or Muslim have been depicted quite differently― and so have people of color who were victims of gun violence.

“There’s a clear difference in the way this kind of incident is treated and the way it would be treated if it were actually associated with Islam or Muslims,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told HuffPost. “It would be instantly called an act of domestic or even international terrorism; it wouldn’t be individualized, but collectivized to the entire Muslim community or faith of Islam.”

 

Here are some ways white shooters are privileged in the media: 

White killers are often humanized.

Less than 12 hours after Paddock shot and killed dozens of people, a headline from The Washington Post focused on the fact that he “liked to gamble, listened to country music, lived quiet retired life.”

People on Twitter were quick to point out that nonwhite and Muslim perpetrators of violence don’t often get such humanizing profiles after the fact.

full story By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman/HuffPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Guns and Profit – Why We’ll Do Absolutely Nothing New After This Las Vegas Shooting

Wake up, America.

We are not the land of the brave or the home of the free.

We are the land of the gun and the home of the free market.

Stephen Paddock’s killing spree last night in Las Vegas will not change anything – except the bottom line for numerous gun manufacturers.

Ca-ching, people!

Scores of American companies are going to clean up over this!

That’s what happens every time we get a high profile mass shooting.

Not new gun regulation. Not additional services for the mentally ill. Not stricter guidelines against fake news on social media.

More from Common Dreams

Posted by Libergirl

Gun Ownership Among Black People Is Growing Rapidly and It’s Women Who’re Leading the Charge

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Sitting in a classroom above a gun range, a woman hesitantly says she isn’t sure she could ever shoot and kill someone, even to protect herself. Couldn’t she just aim for their leg and try to maim them?

Her instructor says self-defense is not about killing someone but is instead about eliminating a threat.

If the gun gets taken away by a bad guy, the instructor says, “I promise you, they’re not going to be having any sympathy or going through the thought process you are.”

Gently, she adds that if the student isn’t comfortable with the lethal potential of the gun, buying one might not be for her.

Marchelle Tigner, known to her students and others as “Tig,” is on a mission: to train at least 1 million women how to shoot a firearm. She had spent no time around guns before joining the National Guard. Now, as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, she wants to give other nonwhite women the training she hadn’t had.

“It’s important, especially for Black women, to learn how to shoot,” Tigner said, noting that Black women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. “We need to learn how to defend ourselves.”

It’s hard to find definitive statistics on gun ownership, but a study by the Pew Research Center released this month indicated that just 16 percent of “non-white women” identified themselves as gun owners, compared with about 25 percent of white women. Other Pew surveys in recent years have shown a growing acceptance of firearms among African-Americans: In 2012, one found that less than a third of Black households viewed gun ownership as positive; three years later, that number had jumped. By then, 59 percent of Black families saw owning guns as a necessity.

Few states track gun permits by race or gender. But a recent study by gun-rights advocate and researcher John Lott showed that Black women outpaced other races and genders in securing concealed carry permits between 2000 and 2016 in Texas, one of the few states that keep detailed demographic information.

Philip Smith founded the National African American Gun Association in 2012 during Black History Month to spread the word that gun ownership was not something reserved for whites. He figured it would ultimately attract about 300 members, a number achieved in its first month. It now boasts 20,000 members in 30 chapters across the country.

“I thought it would be the brothers joining,” Smith said. But instead, he found something surprising — more Black women joining, most of them expressing concerns about living either alone or as single parents and wanting to protect themselves and their homes.

In recent months, he said politics also have emerged as a reason why he finds more Blacks interested in becoming gun owners.

“Regardless of what side you’re on, in the fabric of society right now, there’s an undertone, a tension that you see that groups you saw on the fringes 20 years ago are now in the open,” he said. “It seems to me it’s very cool to be a racist right now. It’s in fashion, it’s a trend.”

On top of that, the shootings of Black men and boys around the country have left Smith and others concerned that racism can make a Black person a perceived threat, even when carrying a firearm legally. He and his organization take pains to coach members on what to do when stopped by police, but not everyone is comforted.

“It’s disheartening to think that you have everything in order: Your license to carry. You comply. You’re not breaking the law. You’re not doing anything wrong. And there’s a possibility you could be shot and killed,” said Laura Manning, a 50-year-old payroll specialist for ADP from Atlanta. “I’m not going to lie. I’m just afraid of being stopped whether I have my gun or not.”

At the training session in Lawrenceville, a town just outside Atlanta, about 20 students gathered on a recent Saturday morning to go over basic safety lessons and instructions. They started with orange plastic replica guns as Tigner demonstrated proper stance and grip. They are taught not to put a finger on the trigger until it’s time to shoot and to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Tigner plays to their protective instincts by telling them always to know what is beyond their target so they don’t accidentally shoot a young child or another innocent bystander.

After about an hour in the classroom, the women walked downstairs and into the Bull’s Eye Indoor Gun Range. Some flinched as the crack of gunfire blasted from a series of bays. They were each shown how to load a magazine and given the chance to do it themselves — several of them struggling to get the bullets into the spring-loaded magazine with their long fingernails. Then, they took turns firing a Glock 19 semi-automatic 9mm at targets about 5 yards down range.

“The bad guy’s dead. He’s not getting back up,” Tigner tells one student who beams with pride as they look over a target riddled with bullet holes.

Jonava Johnson, another student, says it took her a long time to decide to get a gun. For years, she was afraid of them after an ex-boyfriend from high school threatened her and shot and killed her new boyfriend in front of her. She was just 17.

Flash forward about 30 years and her daughter was sexually assaulted in their home. At the time, she thought about getting a gun for protection but decided to get a guard dog instead. But she has since changed her mind.

“I think that’s the way it’s always been in the Black community: It was never OK for us” to own a gun, said Johnson, 50. But now? “I hope I never have to kill anybody, but if it comes down to me or my children, they’re out.”

By Associated Press

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Michele Bachmann Calls Minneapolis Cop An ‘Affirmative-Action Hire’ Adding to Unwanted Attention Brought to Somali Community

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The killing of an unarmed Australian woman by a Minneapolis police officer who is a Somali-American has turned an unwelcome spotlight on the city’s beleaguered Somali community, where many again find themselves on the defensive.

The city’s police chief said Officer Mohamed Noor’s race and ethnicity had nothing to do with the July 15 killing of Justine Damond, who was shot after she called 911 to report a possible rape. But negative comments have included former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s recent statement that Noor was an “affirmative-action hire by the hijab-wearing mayor of Minneapolis” — an apparent reference to the fact that Mayor Betsy Hodges has worn a head scarf when meeting with leaders of the city’s Somali-American community. Bachmann also suggested Noor may have shot Damond for “cultural” reasons.

But Mohamud Noor, a community advocate who is not related to the officer, said the shooting “has nothing to do with the Somali community, period.”

“It’s easy to target individuals who are from a small minority community and say, ‘See, I told you so,’ rather than focusing on the issue we have, which is a police issue.”

Damond, a white, 40-year-old spiritual teacher who was engaged to be married in August, was shot by Officer Noor as he sat in the passenger seat of a police vehicle. Noor’s partner, who was in the driver’s seat, told investigators he was startled by a loud noise immediately before Damond approached the squad car. Noor fired across his partner and through the driver’s side window, hitting Damond once in the abdomen.

Police Chief Janee Harteau, who resigned Friday, criticized Noor’s actions but said he was well-trained. On Thursday, she dismissed the notion that he was an affirmative-action hire, saying: “This is about an individual officer’s actions. … It’s not about race or ethnicity.”

From Sunday until noon Friday, the city had logged 55 complaints to its civil rights division, many expressing concern or anger about the shooting. Several were characterized as derogatory, discriminatory or anti-Muslim. At least one death threat was made against Noor.

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in the United States, roughly 57,000 people according to the latest census figures, most of whom live in the Minneapolis area. The immigrants have been coming to Minnesota from their war-torn homeland since the 1990s, drawn by generous social services and the sense of community among the diaspora.

Minneapolis has made an effort in recent years to hire more Somali officers to ensure the department “reflects the city,” and Hodges said that effort will continue. The Somali officers on the force are seen as community role models, and are among the success stories of the immigrants in Minnesota.

The Somali community also is seeing its political influence grow. Ilhan Omar gained worldwide attention when she was elected to be the United States’ first Somali-American state legislator last November. Her election followed that of Abdi Warsame to the Minneapolis City Council in 2013. He was the first Somali elected to a U.S. city council. Somalis also serve on the Minneapolis and Mankato school boards.

But there have been troubles along the way, too.

More than 22 young men from the community have left the state since 2007 to join al-Shabab in Somalia, and roughly a dozen people have left in recent years to join militants in Syria, including the Islamic State group. In November, nine men were sentenced on terror charges for plotting unsuccessfully to join the group and fight in Syria.

Separately, a 20-year-old Somali-American went on a stabbing rampage at a shopping mall in St. Cloud last September, wounding 10 people before an off-duty police officer fatally shot him.

Community, city and government leaders have worked to combat such violence, with programs including a pilot project designed to counter violent extremism by bolstering social services for Somali youth. State funding was allocated to similar programs to help keep the community engaged.

Farhio Khalif, a Somali and women’s advocate, called Damond’s shooting “unacceptable” and said the incident has taken a toll on local Somalis.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “We are Minnesotans. We come together and light the candle as Minnesotans and treating us as different is unfair. … Just like in the Somali terrorist cases — this community is not a terrorist community.”

Abdirizak Bihi, another community advocate, said when other officers have fatally shot people, city leaders have typically reserved judgment until all facts are in and the police union has stood up for the officers. In this case, he noted, the union hasn’t been vocal and the police chief spoke out against the officer’s actions.

“What in the world is that supposed to mean?” he said. “This was completely different because of his ethnicity, and that’s what scares the hell out of us.”

By Tracy/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist