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)


Monday, October 1, 2018

CONGRESS WITTMAN: STAND UP AND BE COUNTED




            With all the hoopla surrounding the sexual harassment charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, another sex scandal is bubbling.

            The molestation of young men from the 1970s to the 1990s by an Ohio State doctor is growing exponentially. FOX news reported on July 3rd, that more than 150 young men now claim they were sexual assaulted by one of the athletic department’s team doctors. Subsequently the media reported eight lawsuits have been filed.

            FOX news also reported two victims said have said publicly they told then-assistant wrestling coach Jordan about the alleged abuses by Dr. Richard Strauss, the team’s doctor.  FOX added there are indications Jordan was repeatedly told of the assaults.

            Congressman Jordan did nothing—putting his career ahead of the health, safety, and well being of young men.

            Jordan asserts this is a liberal plot to ruin his career. That is about as lame as saying the dog ate my homework, or a lightening strike is part of a liberal plot to mess with the weather.

            If Democrats criticize Jordan, they play in to his hands. Jordan would say, “I told you so, the liberals are out to get me.” Republicans need to hold him accountable.

            Jordan wants to be Speaker of the House. Congressman Wittman, is he the type of Republican you want in one of the highest positions in this country? Congress Wittman, please take the lead in urging Jordan to step aside from all his committee positions until the truth is known. Others have been suspended or resigned—e.g. Ohio State forced its football coach to sit out three games as punishment for not taking action when confronted with reports of spousal abuse by an assistant coach. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) resigned over a sex sandal.



Saturday, September 22, 2018

MORE ACTION AT THE LOCAL LEVEL



Throughout the country local and state politicians seem to be responding to growing public frustration over the slaughter on our school grounds and they are taking action. For example, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have passed laws to remove firearms from criminals’ hands. In California, after the shooting at Isla Vista, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that allows authorities or family members to more easily get restraining orders against people who pose a significant threat.

Prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy only two states, California and Rhode Island, had laws requiring background checks on gun sales. Since then, the number has risen to seven and now includes in addition to California and Rhode Island, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, New York, and Washington. And, since the horror at Sandy Hook, 37 states have passed a total of 99 laws strengthening gun regulations.

In August 2015, Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick signed into law a gun-safety bill granting police chiefs the authority to prevent certain individuals from getting firearms licenses.

In Sunny Vale, California voters approved a measure to design to discourage straw gun purchases, where one person buys a gun for someone else.

There is a growing chorus of voices to stop the gun-violence madness, but Congress has turned a deaf ear; the gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association have bought too many members—local action is the key.  (To be continued)


Saturday, September 15, 2018

SENSIBLE GUN LAWS: THINK LOCAL AND STATE


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            It is no secret our elected officials in Washington are so dysfunctional that very little gets done. Even relatively mundane bills are hard to pass.

            At the heart of the problem is the fact that we are dealing with unscrupulous people whose sole goal is to make money no matter how many people are killed along the way. They put their careers and getting elected above all else. They are open to the highest bidder. For them, the ends justify the means.

FORGET ABOUT CONGRESS

            It is clear solutions to ending carnage will have to be found some place other than in the halls of Congress.  We are not going to change policies toward guns in the U.S. Congress; Capital Hill is too corrupted by lobbyists, the NRA, and gun manufactures, all of whom share the goal of selling as many guns as possible—no matter what the resulting cost in human lives.

            We are going to have to look at local and state governments to make progress in curbing gun violence. And, here there is some good news. We are also going to have a more sophisticated approach to curbing gun violence. The solution cannot be one size fits all. Gun laws need to reflect the needs of various communities. For starters, I believe gun policies need to be different in rural areas from those in metropolitan areas. That fact is also another reason why a solution to the carnage cannot be found at the federal level.

            For example, I live in Kilmarnock, a small town in rural Virginia, where almost everybody owns a gun and hunting is a way of life. The town council, in March 2016, unanimously passed an amended ordinance making the discharge of a gun, rifle, pistol or other firearm a Class 1 misdemeanor. The town council’s actions show that we can work together to make our communities safer by trying to prevent the reckless use of firearms. The amended ordinance also demonstrates that laws can be passed that in no way undercut the Second Amendment. The town’s action was a small, but significant, first step.  TO BE CONTINUED

Sunday, August 19, 2018

THE NRA'S BIG LIE ABOUT GUNS



There is a saying that if you tell a lie long enough it becomes the truth.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) repeatedly promotes one of the biggest lies ever to be perpetrated on the American public: They are coming to get your guns.”

The big problem is who are “they?”

If you ask those who are repeating this Gregorian nonsense-chant, you get either a blank stare or simply “the government.” As I write, the “they” almost always refers to the government as a whole or some unnamed shadowy part of the federal government.
Ok, “the government.” But this is a huge country. It would take the whole government to carry out such a plan.

There are approximately 2.7 million federal workers. Are you telling me when Americans take a job in the “government” they automatically become hell-bent on attacking The Second Amendment? Really? A large number of “government” employees I worked with and have met outside my work, are hunters and many collect guns. Is the NRA telling me these people, and others, are going to leave their jobs and go door to door searching for guns to confiscate? Really? If they all did get up from their desks, do you have any idea how long it would take 2.7 million people to search the homes of 330 million Americans? Who will be left to provide the federal services we all rely on? 

If by some incredibly remote chance these paranoid gun-toting U.S. citizens are right, it would mean no one would be left to send you your social security check much less run the Defense Department or any other federal agency. This country will be vulnerable to a foreign take-over.  If the chanting automatons are right, we all may be learning to speak Chinese soon.
I don’t think those who fall prey to the “they’re coming to take your guns” chant look at the illogic of what they are saying, nor do they recognize they are being duped. Remember, “Thinking is hard work, that’s why so few people do.”

THE FACTS

Here are the facts as they relate to gun violence in the United States:

1.     Greed as well as personal and career interests have turned our House and Senate into malfunctioning elected bodies. Our legislators are all too easy prey for lobbyists and interests groups with plenty of cash and perks to buy the politicians. Given this state of affairs, it is next to impossible to get federal level elected officials to turn their attention to finding ways to curb gun violence.

2.     Every day 90 Americans are killed by guns, according the Brady Campaign. If that figure is not bad enough, it is also true that every day nine children are killed or wounded by guns. But not even these frightening figures are strong enough to spur Congress to look at ways to curb gun violence.

3.     The only piece of legislation in 2014 dealing with gun safety and passed by both the House and the Senate was a comprehensive and bipartisan background check bill in April of that year.

Nationwide, gun homicides have declined in recent years, but cities’ gun deaths rates have remained significantly higher than the rest of the country. Furthermore, the number of mass shootings, particularly school shootings, has increased at an alarming rate.
 According to the Brady Campaign:

·      One in three Americans knows someone who has been shot.

·      On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.

·      Every day on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm, and 46 people are shot or killed by accident with a gun.


There is some hope to prevent the carnage. Positive steps to curb the gun violence have been adopted by many states and communities. (To be continued)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

INEPT POLITICIANS--WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO STOP THE SHOOTINGS?



What will it take stop the increase in gun violence on school grounds and begin to reverse the numbers of shooting incidents?

Quite simply it begins with good people speaking out against extreme gun-rights advocates.  Specifically, actions such as the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) excursion into paranoid lunacy—a world of complete unfettered access to all guns.

The NRA’s latest excursion into mind control and violation of the constitutional right of freedom of speech centers on their efforts to get states to adopt laws that make it illegal for doctors to ask patients if they have a gun at home. According to USA Today, three states are considering laws that would penalize doctors and other health care providers for asking patients or their parents whether they have a gun at home.

 “The National Rifle Association and other pro-gun interest groups argue that doctors violate patients; second amendment right to keep and bear arms by inquiring about gun ownership. Doctors say they ask only because of safety concerns. Prohibiting them from asking about guns violates the first amendment, at least one constitutional law expert says.”

What about the right of any doctor to ask any patient any question pertaining to the patient’s wellbeing? Apparently the NRA believes there is only one amendment in the Bill of Rights and that is the Second Amendment. If you are going to apply order of importance to the amendments, then it is not unreasonable to think that the most important consideration on the founding fathers’ minds was freedom of speech. The last time I counted “one” came before “two.”

What a shame if the power of the gun lobby, coupled with the cowardice of the politicians, rewrites history and interprets the Constitution to the benefit of the paranoid few and the profits of gun manufacturers and the NRA.

What will it take to stop the blood baths on our school grounds? As a beginning, it will take people such as you demanding action along the lines outlined in this chapter.  (To be continued)