Tuesday, December 25, 2018

DAVID GETS LAST LAUGH


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Following the Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead, David Hogg, a Parkland student, became a spokesperson for the anti-gun violence movement. He helped found Never Again MSD, an organization that advocates sensible gun regulations. He was instrumental in organizing March For Our Lives that drew nearly 800,000 to Washington, D.C.

Hogg’s activity has made him the target of the lunatic, right wing fringe. He has been called all sorts of names, mocked, and ridiculed.

The most disgusting abuse of the airwaves came from Fox News host, Laura Ingraham. And, I use the word “news” in the loosest definition because Ingraham is anything but a news commentator. She is a purveyor of hate and NRA-inspired propaganda.

When David Hogg publicly revealed his applications to several California universities were turned down, Ingraham turned to twitter. She tweeted a story from a conservative news site describing him as a “Guns Rights Provocateur” and accused Hogg of whining.

The fact that a nationally known media host would ridicule an 18-year-old high school boy is stupid and arrogant, revealing Ingraham’s dark soul. Just about when you think the fanatical guns rights people have sunk as far as they can go, along comes Laura Ingraham who used her position to disparage a high school student who lost fellow students and friends in a mass shooting.

Now, David Hogg has been accepted by Harvard and will enter next fall majoring in Political Science. Any comment, Laura Ingraham?


Thursday, December 20, 2018

GUN SAFETY: THE ROAD AHEAD


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Clearly, there is a path forward, and it is at the state and local level—not the federal level. The Trump administration’s recent decision to reclassify bump stops as a machine gun allowing federal authorities to ban it is a tiny step forward, but it too little too late for people at the Las Vegas concert.


You, the reader, can make a difference by joining the growing number of voices of concerned Americans demanding some measures to curb the slaughter. It will take thought; imagination, patience, and determination make our lives safer.


More and more, people are finding ways to keep firearms out of public venues. Moms Demand Action have taken the gun issue to large retailors and are asking large retailors to prohibit customers from carrying guns into their locations. The threat of a boycott gets businesses attention. Moms Demand Action has been successful with Starbucks, Target, Chipotle, Jack in the Box, and Sonic Drive-In, just to mention a few.


Curbing gun violence has made progress, albeit it is slow—almost all of it at the state and local levels. Here is an example; Washington State passed Initiative 594 by a wide margin. The measure requires criminal background checks on all firearms sales and transfers in the state including at gun shows and on the Internet.


Initiative 594 does not undercut one aspect of the Second Amendment; it should be adopted in all 50 state. If 594 had been in place in 2007 in Virginia, Seung-Hui Cho almost certainly would not have been able to buy a gun and slaughter 32 people and wound 17 others at Virginia Tech. (To be continued)


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

BOOK DEAL--AMAZON


FYI--For anyone interested in my books, my publisher is part of an Amazon promotion. With every order of $20.00 or more you get $5.00 back. The code when ordering is  GIFTBOOK 18.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

WORKSHOPS AND OPEN MIC TO RESUME IN JANUARY 2019


The Workshop slated for December 8th and the Open Mic scheduled for December 15th at the Lancaster Community Library have been cancelled due to the holidays and conflicting schedules. The Workshops and Open Mic will resume in January 2019. Happy Holidays to everybody and a great New Year's celebration from The Writers Guild of Virginia.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

STEPS TO END GUN VIOLENCE


The following is a very interesting article on ways to curb gun violence written by a friend of mine.


Universal background checks aren’t the answer

By Robert Wilson (November 2018)

If you believe that universal background checks for gun purchases will prevent mass shootings, keep your expectations low. Even if the names of persons prohibited from buying a gun were conscientiously added to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), people who shouldn’t have a gun will still be able to get one. And, it should be noted, in most cases the guns used in mass shootings were purchased legally.

The NICS is a name check system that queries available records in multiple databases: National Crime Information Center (NCIC); Interstate Identification Index (III), and; NICS indices. The purpose is to determine if prospective gun purchasers are disqualified from buying or possessing guns. The check is run when a gun is being purchased from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). Other than purchases from a FFL, ownership transfers are regulated (or unregulated) by the states. If the NICS check doesn’t find a suspected name match, the buyer gets the gun. If there is a suspected name match, the FBI has three days to confirm its validity or the buyer gets the gun. The system default is that the buyer gets the gun. A NICS match may prevent someone from buying a gun from an FFL, but if the person wants a gun, in an America polluted with guns of all descriptions, they can buy one on the street or steal one. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that, on average, at least one gun a day is reported stolen in Richmond, Virginia. But, the Richmond police, tracing recovered firearms, have found that a large percentage of stolen guns are never reported.

The NICS system’s major flaw lies in the fact that it is a negative check. If it doesn’t get a confirmed match on name and birth year, the buyer gets the gun. The NICS is dependent on a variety of different resources including courts, police, medical practitioners, etc., to enter the names of people that are legally disqualified from owning a gun, but it has no practical means of enforcing compliance. If a name is added to NICS, it is unlikely that all of the guns that the person may already have are confiscated.

I’ve had experience with databases indexed by name and date of birth and they work reliably if it is a positive test. In the early 1960’s, I designed and implemented, on second generation computers, Indiana’s Driver Licensing and Control System. By the mid-1960’s we had converted three million drivers and their histories from paper files to a name- indexed database. They were made available to Bureau of Motor Vehicles license
branches and law enforcement officers throughout the state using the State Police microwave network and leased telephone lines. The Internet didn’t exist. When the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) came on-line in the mid-1960’s, they tied into our system because it was a proven name search system accessible by law enforcement throughout Indiana.

The key difference between searching Indiana’s driver database and the NICS database is that everyone driving a motor vehicle had to be licensed by the state, and they had to pass a test and demonstrate that they could drive. If an Indiana driver was stopped, they were either in the database, or they were in trouble. The primary qualifications for someone wanting a buy a gun from an FFL is to have a pulse and not match a name on the NICS.
There is a solution, if Congress can find the political will to buck the NRA and make it the law of the land. Since people and guns flow across state lines, a consistent nation-wide control system is called for. It involves defining 2nd Amendment rights legally, but more narrowly.

The most immediately effective action would be outlawing, for civilian possession, the tools most used in mass shootings, and establish FFA’s as the only source for civilian- legal new gun purchases. FFAs or law enforcement departments could handle private party used gun ownership transfers. A limited-time buy-back plan may be needed to expedite the disposal of banned guns and accessories. But when the buy-back window closes, any banned guns and accessories that surface must be confiscated and destroyed.

I recommend the following:
  • Ban high capacity magazines and bump stocks. They are only useful for laying down a field of fire, not for hunting game, target shooting or self-defense.
  • Ban semi-automatic rifles. They aren’t needed for hunting. My old .30-.30 lever action
    Winchester was a fine deer rifle, and a single shot .22 was deadly for small game.
  • Ban openly carrying a gun when not hunting or on a licensed shooting range. They
    make observers feel insecure.
  • Ban “Stand Your Ground” laws. They give paranoid people with guns a license to kill.
  • Establish rules for storing and transporting high-powered rifles in jurisdictions where
    they can’t legally be used for hunting.
  • Limit concealed carry to those with a legitimate need to carry a weapon. Paranoia should disqualify a person from having a gun - not be used as justification.
  • Ban unregulated militias, like the band of vigilantes headed for the Southern border. They are not the “well regulated Militias” as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. They aren’t patriots. They are anarchists.
  • Additional gun control measures are necessary, but they will take longer to implement. They include converting NICS to a positive check system for eligibility to be in possession of a citizen-legal gun, and creating a Federal Firearms Registry containing the serial number of every citizen-legal gun in the country together with the identity of its owner. For the following discussion, “possession” refers to having a gun in hand, and “owner” refers to the person who purchased the gun. An owner must be qualified to possess the gun, but a person qualified to have the gun in their possession may not necessarily be its owner.
  • Using the driver license analogy, if every state required every person in possession of a gun to have a certification, recorded in NICS, that they had been trained and qualified on that class of gun, NICS would be able to make a positive confirmation of a qualified possession. It is possible that someone qualified to be in possession of a gun may not be qualified to be the owner (e.g., underage for ownership, but old enough to qualify to use the gun for legal purposes - similar to letting your son use your car). The legal owner would be liable for how the gun is used when, with their permission, it is in the possession of another qualified person. This would encourage the owner to report a lost or stolen gun promptly. An individual could be qualified on multiple classes of guns. If a person is disqualified for being in possession of a gun, their NICS qualification would be revoked.
  • The Federal Firearm Registry would include every legal gun in the country linked to their current owner in NICS. Every gun, including home-made guns, would be required to have a serial number permanently engraved or affixed to the gun by the manufacturer and logged into the database. Whenever ownership of a gun changes the Registry would need to be updated, as a complement to NICS, to track ownership of civilian-legal guns. In the event that a qualified owner is disqualified through a legal action, that will be recorded in his NICS record(s), and the Federal Gun Registry can be used to identify and secure the guns they own.
The combination of NICS, containing the names and birth dates of all citizens qualified to be in possession of specific classes of guns, and a Registry, containing the serial numbers of all citizen-legal guns in the country together with their owner identification, would enable instant confirmation of:

A person’s qualification to possess a class of gun 
An owner’s qualification to buy a class of gun
The identity of a specific gun’s owner

Implementation of the revised NICS and creation of the Federal Firearm Registry will take at least two years. These databases don’t currently exist, but developing the software and acquiring the hardware capacity could be done within a year of signing the enabling legislation. Populating the databases with legal owners and guns will take longer. FFLs and local Police Departments could collect and enter data from existing gun owners. Initially, it may be necessary to grandfather in some qualifications, but licensed firearms trainers, and possibly the NRA, could instruct and qualify people on legal firearms and enter the qualifications into NICS.

There is no quick fix to gain control over the problem of a country awash in guns of all descriptions. But the process and systems described above will provide the common sense gun control the majority of the people in America want. And, contrary to what the NRA preaches, the Second Amendment doesn’t prohibit sensible gun control. Banning from the civilian market many of the firearms and accessories flooding the nation would start the process of getting the tools of mass shootings under control. Laws and systems consistent with the 2nd Amendment, can address the gun glut fueling the epidemic of mass shootings and - if there is the political will to do it.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

GUN LAWS: IMAGINATION AND INITIATIVE



Sensible gun laws are being adopted in a number of localities. Here are a couple of examples:

JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY

Mayor Steven Fulop of Jersey City, New Jersey used the city’s police department’s need to buy $350,000 in firearms and ammunition as a way to influence gun suppliers. To bid on the contract, the companies had to explain what they do with old weapons and how they comply with federal and state background check laws.
The mayor’s policy was meant to encourage the private sector to clamp down on both illegal and straw purchases, both of which are major ways criminals get guns.

PEACE FELLOWSHIP

Richmond, California has implemented a plan to curb gun violence that looks at the individuals, not the weapons, to find a solution. DeVonne Boggan, director of neighborhood safety for the city, believes the solution is to find ways to convince young men not to pick up guns in the first place; not to turn to firearms to solve their problems.

Here is how it works. Boggan’s office identifies young men who are suspected of being involved in a shooting, but who have not been charged or convicted. He invites them to join “The Peace Fellowship Program.”

The program involves a team of older neighbor residents who coach the young men in setting goals and the steps they need to take to achieve them. These goals range from getting driver’s licenses to applying for college.

Boggan’s program to end gun violence began in 2007 and as of July 2014 had recruited 68 peace fellows. Twenty-five of these young men have completed the fifteen-month program. Fifty-seven have avoided being charged with a firearm assault since joining and all but three are still alive.

The program’s perks include trips abroad to Cape Town and Dubai and cash awards for staying in the program for more than six months.

The Peace Fellowship Program appears to have had real success. In January 2014, the police department announced that Richmond had the lowest number of homicides in three decades. (To be continued)