Just What America Needs

The Supreme Court today struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment. Despite a spate of mass shootings in America, the court’s conservative justices prevailed in a 6 to 3 decision (strictly along party lines) that struck down a New York law requiring a special need for carrying a weapon and puts at risk similar laws in Maryland, California, New Jersey, Hawaii and Massachusetts. The ruling is likely to make it easier to carry guns in some of the nation’s biggest cities.

Enacted more than a century ago, New York’s law requires those who want to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense to show a specific need for doing so.

The court’s dissenting liberals said the majority had distorted history and ignored the court’s precedents. President Biden and Democratic officials called the ruling tone-deaf and ill-timed in the wake of recent mass killings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex.

Of course, the National Rifle Association, which helped challenge the New York law and has longed for such a decision clarifying the constitutional right to “bear arms,” called the decision a “watershed win.”

“New Yorkers will soon be able to defend themselves outside of their homes without first having to prove that they have a sufficient ‘need’ to exercise their fundamental rights,” Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. The ruling, he said, “opens the door to rightly change the law” in the half dozen other states “that still don’t recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection.”

Great. Just what America needs, more guns on the streets.

Truthful Tuesday — Thoughts and Prayers

Melanie, of Sparks from a Combustible Mind, is still filling in for Frank, aka PCGuy, who is taking a temporary hiatus from his Truthful Tuesday prompt. This week Melanie wants to know about thoughts and prayers.

Do you think the thoughts and prayers sent to victims of disasters or mayhem are worth the effort? If not, please give your reasoning. If so, give your reasoning, too.

Worth the effort? What effort? How much effort does it take to say that you’re going to send someone your thoughts and prayers? For most people, it’s an almost meaningless, mechanical, rote response.

Many of us can do little to help the victims and the families of loved ones whose lives have been senselessly taken by some asshole with a semiautomatic assault rifle. So “sending out thoughts and prayers” may help us feel better, but it serves no good purpose for those directly affected.

But nothing sickens me more than when those who are in a position to actually do something about gun violence in America — our elected representatives — offer their thoughts and prayers each time another mass shooting occurs. These people we put in office and whose salaries we pay through our tax dollars are lawmakers. So let them make laws that will help reduce the availability of and accessibility to semiautomatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Let them close the loopholes in gun laws. Let them demand background checks and waiting periods. Let them raise the minimum age to purchase a gun, let them require, as with cars, licenses, registration, training, and testing. Let them not get away, time after time, with doing nothing more than sending out thoughts and prayers.

And we, the ordinary people, can also do more than send our thoughts and prayers. We can vote into office — at the local, state, and federal levels — candidates who will commit to taking definitive actions to do something meaningful about gun violence in America, rather than spouting empty words.

Fandango’s Provocative Question #166

FPQ

Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

It happened again. Yesterday, another mass shooting in the United States occurred just ten days after ten people were shot and killed in a supermarket in Buffalo. As of when I’m writing this, 18 students and a teacher were killed in a mass shooting at a school in the small Texas city of Uvalde. An 18-year-old Uvalde resident entered the school with a handgun and a rifle. Inside the school, according to Texas’ pro-gun governor, Greg Abbott, the teenage gunman “shot and killed — horrifically, incomprehensibly” more than 18 children and a teacher.

The gunman, who legally bought the weapons used in the attack shortly after his 18th birthday on May 16, was shot and killed by officers responding to the scene. Abbott added, “It is being reported that the subject shot his grandmother right before he went into the school.”

This massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States so far this year. The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization, counted at least 215 such shootings, defined as one in which four or more people were killed or injured, through mid-May. Today is the 145th day of the year, meaning that there has been an average of almost 1.5 mass shootings a day in America this year! Ponder that for a moment.

I am so pissed that I can hardly contain my anger and frustration. State governments all across the nation are passing laws making it easier for people to get guns, allowing both open carry and concealed carry. They are liberalizing or eliminating background checks. Gun sales in the United States are at an all-time high. Gun deaths are soaring. And our elected officials — particularly the Republicans — are sitting around with their thumbs up their asses offering their thoughts and prayer.

President Biden spoke about this heinous mass shooting in Texas, saying…

“As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? How many scores of little children, who witnessed what happened, must see their friends die as if they’re in a battlefield?

I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”

My provocative question this week is similar to what I asked last week after the Buffalo mass killings. I am looking for your reactions and thoughts about this kind of gun violence that is endemic in the United States.

Do you feel that President Biden’s plea to take action and to do something to stem the rising tide of gun violence in America have any impact? Or will lawmakers at both the federal and state levels do nothing more than offer their useless “thoughts and prayers,” which is all they ever do?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Who Won the Week? 04/11/2021

FWWTWThe idea behind Who Won the Week is for you to select who (or what) you think “won” this past week. Your selection can be anyone or anything — politicians, celebrities, athletes, authors, bloggers, your friends or family members, books, movies, TV shows, businesses, organizations, whatever.

I will be posting this prompt on Sunday mornings (my time). If you want to participate, write your own post designating who you think won the week and why you think they deserve your nod. Then link back to this post and tag you post with FWWTW.

Unlike last Sunday, where I was unable to choose a clear winner, this week was easy. The winner this week is Joe Biden, the President of the United States.With more mass shootings and a rise of gun violence in the country, and with Republicans in both Congress and state legislatures refusing to take any action to stem the tide of gun violence, other than with “thoughts and prayers,” Joe Biden acted. He issued a series of executive actions designed to address gun violence. And he pledged to push for sweeping changes to the country’s gun laws.

Biden said, “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment. The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as nation.”

As president, there is very little that Biden can unilaterally do in this case, but he did sign executive actions this past Thursday focusing on some relatively “low hanging fruit.”

The DOJ will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns.” Ghost guns are homemade weapons that are hard to trace and where gun kit buyers don’t have to submit to a background check.

The DOJ will also issue a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.

It will also publish model “red flag” legislation for states. Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.

The DOJ will also issue a new annual report on firearms trafficking, which is one way firearms are diverted into the illegal market where they can easily end up in the hands of dangerous individuals.

Biden nominated David Chipman, a veteran of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), where he spent 25 years as a special agent, to serve as ATF director. ATF is the key agency charged with enforcing our gun laws, and it needs a confirmed director in order to do the job to the best of its ability. But ATF has not had a confirmed director since 2015.

These executive actions are just a start — small steps — in the fight to do something about gun violence in America, but they sure beat thoughts and prayers.

What about you? Who (or what) do you think won the week?


Image credit: Anson Stevens-Bollen

Fandango’s Provocative Question #114

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

This week’s provocative question is about gun violence and mass shootings in America. There were two more mass shooting incidents this past week, one in Atlanta, Georgia that killed eight people, and one in Boulder, Colorado, where ten lives were lost. Mass gun shootings, often with semiautomatic, military-style rifles with large capacity magazines, have become almost commonplace in the United States. And it is a true American tragedy.

The provocative question this week is…

Do you think that there is any chance that the U.S. Congress will ever take decisive, bipartisan action to pass and enact nationwide common sense gun laws to try and stem the tide of mass shootings, or is the best that the American Congress will ever do is to send thoughts and prayers to the families of loved ones killed in mass shooting incidents?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.