Friday, April 12, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #103 - Part 7


The Clown Award leads us smoothly into our last topic for the day: guns. I have to talk about guns. I don't want to talk about guns. I'd rather be talking about some cool science thing or another. But I have to talk about guns.

At least there is some good news on this front. For one thing, Robin Kelly, who earlier this year proudly rode her "F" rating from the NRA to victory in a Democratic primary for the Congressional seat vacated by for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., won the seat in a special election on April 9. She got 72 percent of the vote.

There is also some good news on the matter of guns on the state level. In wake of Newtown, the state of New York acted to strengthen its guns laws. Last month, Colorado, already scene of two massacres (Columbine and Aurora), acted. Now, more recently, Connecticut and Maryland have acted.

Connecticut's new law adds more than 100 firearms to the state’s assault weapons ban, establishes what officials say is the nation’s first dangerous weapon offender registry, sets up eligibility rules for buying ammunition, requires background checks for all firearms sales, and puts limits on large capacity ammunition magazines.

Maryland has also improved its gun laws. The new law bans 45 types of assault weapons, limits gun magazines to 10 rounds, and will become the first state in nearly 20 years to require potential handgun buyers to submit fingerprints to state police. Only five other states have a similar requirement: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.

So there is some good news on the state level - but on the federal level, the only reaction I can have is disgust.

Remember, there were three pillars to the latest round of proposals for gun control: a renewed assault weapons ban, a limit on the capacity of magazines, and an expansion of background checks to cover all sales. There was also some other stuff, such as toughening federal laws on gun trafficking and so-called straw purchases and aid for school security, but those hardly got mentioned in coverage because they were the minor stuff, in that they were supposedly the things that no one would object to.

Well, first, the assault weapons ban was unceremoniously dumped from any possible bill to be brought to the floor. Harry Reid - who, let's not forget, was against the ban - said supporters couldn't get the 60 votes to beat a filibuster, so he wasn't even going to bring it up. And he sure as hell wasn't going to try to round up any votes himself. Supporters of a ban could get it voted on as an amendment to the bill. Maybe.

Was the right happy, was it satisfied, that the focus of attention was gone? Don't be silly. It just turned up heat on the next thing in line, the limit on magazine size. Which got dumped by Harry "Spine Strong As A" Reid in short order.

Again, were the gun nuts satisfied? Are you kidding? They just proceeded to go after the background check, the part that had been regarded as the easy pass, the "almost sure thing" just a couple of weeks before, something so supposedly uncontroversial that in 1999 the Nutzoid Rabbit-brains of America was for it - but that was back when the gun nuts had to worry about the assault weapons ban and the magazine limit.

So even though universal background checks for gun buyers is supported by about 90 percent of Americans in polls, including in southern states like Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, it came under fire - an appropriate image here - and was clearly in trouble. Backing down in the face of the fanatics in the hope of winning their agreement did not satisfy them, it only made them bolder. Some gun control advocates, desperate for some sort of face-saving victory, began to promote the minor stuff, again minor because they were previously thought of as slam dunks, as central elements.

Sorry, not good enough, came the answer, as the NRA began pushing changes to the gun trafficking and straw purchase proposals that would eviscerate them.

It got to the point that Lindsay Graham smirked his smarmy smirk - which I really would love to wipe off his face - and said gun control legislation was "going nowhere" and 14 GOPpers were threatening to filibuster any gun legislation. That possibility collapsed as it proved to be a bridge too far even for several GOPpers, but it demonstrates what was happening: Every step back by the Dims was met with a step forward by the gun nuts.

As of this moment, it looks like we might get expanded checks: Two progun senators, Democrat Joe Mancin and Republican Pat Toomey, have proposed compromise that would expand background checks to all commercial sales. It's got some gaping loopholes and shortcomings - particularly in that it exempts "private" sales - but it is stronger than now, and control advocates are trying to make lemonade out of it.

But think of how far we have fallen. From assault weapons bans and magazine limits to a weakened version of what had been thought almost sure thing not many weeks ago.

And why, why, why? We don't even get told it's out of genuine conviction.

Here's a quote from Talking Points Memo:
Twenty-one Democratic seats are being contested in the 2014 elections — many of them in red states where the National Rifle Association, which opposes background checks, is a force to be reckoned with. Among them are Sens. Kay Hagan, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, and Max Baucus.

So this is what we're supposed to live with. Let there be more massacres, let there be more Newtowns, more Auroras, more columbines, more Gabby Giffords - did you know we almost had another one last month?

On March 18, a student at the Orlando campus of the University of Central Florida pulled a dorm fire alarm. There was no fire. He was armed with two guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a backpack filled with explosives and he was apparently attempting to force other students out into the open so that he could slaughter them. Lives were saved because first responders got to the scene faster than he expected - so he killed himself instead.

So yes, let there be more, let the blood run in the streets, let's fill our cities and towns with grieving parents, orphaned children, devastated communities, let death reign because of the Intellectual cowardice and moral degeneracy of a bunch of senate chowderheads who would rather let the carnage continue than risk losing their job.

As of April 10, 3349 people in the US have been killed by guns since Newtown, 19 of them in Massachusetts.

You who stand in the path of changing that are contemptible and I say again there is blood on your hands. And I don't intend to let you forget it.


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