Friday, June 17, 2016

You Have Rights? So Do I.

Recently I was part of a thread on Facebook in which one person commented "We don't need to repeal the 2nd amendment; there's a very good reason that it's in the Constitution. However, no right is absolute and that includes gun ownership. We need to ban killing machines that are too readily available and have real national vetting of people who want to own guns. It's just common sense."

This person makes a good point. There IS a very good reason why the Second Amendment was written into the Constitution. The problem is, that reason is no longer relevant. The original intent was to protect the right of citizens to own weapons when our national defense strategy consisted of all-volunteer, amateur (in the sense that they weren't paid; it is not a comment on skill level) militias. However, militias are no longer part of our national defense, being replaced by a professional standing army. In addition, weapons technology in 1791 that was available to citizens was roughly equivalent to what was available to armies ... breech-loaded matchlock smooth bore rifles, with comparatively short ranges and subpar accuracy. Compare that to modern times ... there are some pro-gun types that actually make the claim for citizens having access to every weapon the government has, including nuclear weapons, fighter planes, and submarines in addition to the usual panoply of firearms (these people are, almost without exception, completely batshit crazy).

In the 21st century, there is absolutely no reason for Constitutional protections for firearms. The Second Amendment has been used as a shield by the National Rifle Association every time one of these events takes place (and they take place depressingly frequently). Each time there's a mass shooting, pro-gun activists spout the same tired old lines:

  • It's not the gun, it's the shooter. Guns don't kill people, PEOPLE kill people.
  • It's a mental health issue.
  • It's proof that more people should have guns. If someone had been armed, then that person could have stopped all this.
  • More people die in car accidents than by guns. Does that mean we also ban cars?

... all to avoid the obvious issue, which is this: THERE ARE TOO MANY GUNS IN THE UNITED STATES.

So let's unpack these one at a time.

1. Guns don't kill people. People kill people.

On the surface this sounds like a reasonably accurate statement. After all, guns are inanimate objects and do not possess free will. They are simply tools, and their effects are simply directed by the operator.

What this fails to address, and it's a big point, is that guns are DESIGNED to kill. You don't point a gun at someone as a joke (unless you're a complete fucking moron, that is). Someone with a gun is a lot more effective at killing than someone without one. The idea that a gun lying on the floor isn't going to kill anyone by itself, while true, is also patently ridiculous as an argument. It's like saying "It was the pond that got you wet, not me pushing you into it."

2. It's a mental health issue.

Again, reasonable on the surface, and in many cases it is very true -- after all, someone walking into a school and shooting a bunch of five and six year olds is pretty much guaranteed to not have all the lights on upstairs. However, saying that does not excuse the fact that there are other issues at play, such as ease of access to high powered weapons, or a culture that glorifies violence and belligerence and trivializes peaceful means of resolving conflicts. And when you hear it coming from the NRA or their ilk, it's a safe bet that it's a distraction. After all, someone with mental health issues could take YEARS to improve, and imagine the profits that would go to the gun manufacturers in the meantime.

3. It's proof that more people should have guns. If someone had been armed, then that person could have stopped all this.

Right. Let's think about this for a second.

Let's say you're in a nightclub with around 300 of your closest friends. It's loud. It's dark. It's crowded. All of a sudden, you hear something, but because it's so loud you're not exactly sure what it is. You realize it's gunfire when people around you start screaming and panicking, running for whatever exit they can find. You, being a highly trained and remarkably unflappable individual, pull out your fully legal and licensed gun for which you have a concealed carry permit, and start looking for the shooter. You spot someone with a gun taking aim and squeeze off a quick shot, taking him out. Ah-HAH! Got him! You start to make your way over to the shooter to make sure that he no longer is a threat, when a bullet suddenly rips through your rib cage, turning vital organs into jelly in an instant.

What happened was, you weren't the only good guy with a gun. You shot the other one, and when the real shooter saw that he decided to take you out as you represented the greatest threat. Now that both good guys with guns are out of commission, the shooter can proceed with what he was doing ... only now that he has not only your weapon but also the other guy's, he has even more power to unleash mayhem.

This also assumes that someone in this situation with a gun will be able to remain calm enough to assess the situation and respond calmly, instead of reverting to instinct and running like hell. This natural flight response is incredibly difficult to overcome, which is why the armed forces spend months training it out of people. The vast majority of people, when faced with this situation, will do one of two things:

  • Freeze.
  • Run like hell.

Almost nobody will say "Hmmm. Looks like an active shooter situation. Let us assess the situation and quickly, yet carefully, plan our next move."

Saying that the solution to our gun problem in this country is more guns is like saying the solution to cavities is more sugar, and anyone who suggest that maybe you should brush your goddam teeth once in a while is infringing on your rights.

4. More people die in car accidents than by guns. Does that mean we also ban cars?

This is one of the most ludicrous statements out there, especially since it seems to resurface at least 50,000 times every time one of these things happens. So I am going to type this is all caps, in a large, bold font, with a lot of white space around it, so the more feeble-minded and/or slow members of the pro-gun community can get the concept:

CARS KILL PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE USED OUTSIDE OF THEIR DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS.

Got that?

Let's explain.

First, we'll take a look at cars (or hammers, or screwdrivers, or baseball bats, or whatever the excuse du jour happens to be). When used properly, an automobile is perfectly safe. It is only when it is used outside of its design specifications (going too fast for conditions, being inattentive behind the wheel, running red lights, mechanically unsound, that sort of thing) that they become dangerous.

Now, guns.

When they are used as they are designed to be used -- that is, aiming at something, pulling the trigger, and hurling chunks of hot lead at high velocity toward the target -- they are extremely dangerous. Maybe not to the operator, but definitely to anything -- or anyone -- who happens to be downrange. Conversely, when a gun is used outside of its design specifications -- shooting rocks instead of bullets, say, or using the butt of your pistol as a hammer to build a garage -- it's a fairly safe bet that it's not going to end well for either the operator or the gun itself. However, and this is the important point, that doesn't stop it from being dangerous to anyone nearby.

The entire argument that "more people die from accidents involving than guns" is about as ridiculous as saying that "Sharknado" was a documentary and that constant vigilance against airborne sharks is required.

The Second Amendment is a favorite shield for the pro-gun lobby. Any time any sort of gun legislation is proposed -- even something as innocuous as "let's not let anyone who is suspected of being a terrorist buy a gun," or "whaddaya say we tell people that, if they have a conviction for domestic violence on their record, they are not allowed to buy a gun," or even something as simple as "howzabout we limit the capacity of the magazines people can buy for their firearms" -- the National Rifle Association (and the conservatives they have paid for in Congress) immediately start bleating about how there might be one person on the suspected terrorist list who is there by mistake, and if we don't let that person buy a gun then Murica ain't Murica no more, and that atheist Muslim dictator Obummer is gonna come and take mah guns, dammit.

And yes, I put "atheist Muslim" in there on purpose, because someone actually made that claim, and couldn't understand -- even after I explained how one could not be both an atheist and a Muslim -- why I was laughing so hard.

To them, the right of one individual to be able to get weapons at any time supercedes everyone else's right to not get shot and killed. For people who claim to honor the intent of the Founding Fathers, this seems to be highly hypocritical, especially when you consider that it's right there in the Declaration of Independence: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

Last time I checked, it didn't also say "unless that guy over wants a gun REAL BAD."

It comes down to the following point: your right to have a gun does not supercede my right to not have it used against me.

I gotta lie down.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Explanation of My Proposal

So I am going to expound a bit on my petition to repeal the Second Amendment. This is addressed primarily to the gun rights advocates, many of whom fear that a repeal will be a way for their guns to be confiscated.

1. "Repeal" does not mean "confiscation."

Nobody is, ever has, or ever will be discussing wholesale confiscation of firearms from the general population. If nothing else, the logistics of such an effort would be prohibitive, but there is also the fact that the vast -- and I do mean VAST -- majority of gun owners are responsible, treat their weapons with the respect they deserve and then some, and practice the four common-sense safety rules when handling a firearm:
  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Never point the weapon at something you are not willing to destroy.
  • Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it in case you miss.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.
These rules are simple, easy to follow, and make a lot of sense. Given this, taking firearms away from these people seems counterproductive ... and, quite frankly, the idea violates everything we stand for as a country.

The only time guns are confiscated, whether the Second Amendment is in place or not, is when a gun has been used in the commission of a crime or is part of a criminal investigation (for example, a gun obtained illegally may be confiscated as the act of obtaining it is itself criminal activity).

2. The Second Amendment is obsolete.

In 1791, when the amendment was passed, firearm technology was understandably rather primitive. Pistols were primarily used for duels, and were ornately decorated, with smooth bores ... not at all practical for warfare, as their accuracy was pretty abysmal. Rifles were the weapon of choice for warfare, and were breech-loaded matchlock guns -- the projectile and powder were poured down the end of the barrel, tamped down with a rod to provide maximum explosive power (this had to be done carefully so as not to cause the powder to ignite as a result of compression), then a small amount of gunpowder was placed in a flash pan and ignited by a wick or match.

Needless to say, this was not a particularly quick process. As a result, an expert marksman might be able to get two shots off in a minute.

In addition to primitive firepower, there was no standing army in the United States and national defense centered on all-volunteer militias from each state.

Finally, much of the country was frontier, and attacks by wild animals and hostile Native Americans were both very real and disturbingly common occurrences. In addition, America was an agrarian society (remember, this was pre-Industrial Revolution), so hunting game was an essential part of rounding out a Colonial-era diet. This meant that having a weapon in the home was vital to the very survival of Americans.

Compare that to the modern day. Weapons technology has progressed such that, if the Second Amendment as various libertarian groups like to interpret it is followed, then average citizens have a Constitutional right to own the same weapons employed by the government as well as those intended for the consumer market. This encompasses everything from a two-shot Derringer to shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles, drone aircraft, tanks, mortars, bombs (including nuclear) ... in short, everything an individual would need to protect him- or herself from the tyranny of government (more on this nonsense later).

Modern weapons as the AR-15 (yes, I know that wasn't used in Orlando, but it was used in Newtown, Aurora, and Umpqua, and the weapon used in Orlando is based on the same basic platform) are semi-automatic, which means that a round is loaded into the chamber automatically, but not fired until the operator pulls the trigger (as opposed to fully automatic, in which rounds are loaded an fired with a single trigger pull, and continue until either the magazine is depleted or the operator removes pressure for the trigger). This means that it is capable of firing as quickly as the operator can pull the trigger, up to 100 rounds per minute. And if the shooter uses a technique called "bump firing" (in which the recoil of the gun from the first shot is used to bounce the trigger against the trigger finger, as opposed to pulling the trigger) this can be increased by seven or eight times, simulating fully automatic operation.

Of course, bump firing is usually done from the hip, so accuracy isn't the greatest. Fortunately, manufacturers have found a way around that by providing an attachment that lets an individual use the bum firing technique while maintaining the stock against the shoulder, increasing the accuracy. Great, huh?

In addition, we no longer employ militias for national defense, and because of our burgeoning population, urban development, the Industrial Revolution, suburban sprawl, paved roads covering (in aggregate) a significant portion of the landmass of North America, and the (in many cases) outright genocide of native populations, people have to worry much less about being attacked by bears and Indians and more about being accosted by an intolerably perky, upbeat guy named Sean trying to sell you Cutco knives at Costco. We also have professional standing armed forces that, quite frankly, have enough firepower to reduce every other nation on Earth to microscopic grit.

3. "Protection against tyranny" isn't really a thing.

In Revolutionary times, governmental tyranny was a very real concern. After all, Colonial Americans had been under the thumb of King George III for decades, and had seen first-hand what happens when an imperialist despot gets annoyed, and they wanted to insure against the same thing happening with the new government. Which, as we have seen over the past 229 years or so, hasn't been an issue (despite claims made by right-wing crackpots -- and I'm including people like Mitch McConnell in this group -- that the Muslim atheist baby-killing jack-booted dictator Barack Obama is a merciless tyrant hell-bent on taking everyone's guns and forcing them to, oh, I don't know, breathe clean air, or something).

In the modern era, claiming that you have your Sig Sauer .223 (and if that isn't a real thing, I'm not concerned; I'm not into gun porn like some people) as protection against the government is ridiculous. You and your cute little rifle will be about as effective against the United States Army as trying to clean up post-Sandy New Jersey with a Swiffer.

There's also the question of the understanding of the word "tyranny." To quote Inigo Montoya, "I don't think that word means what you think it means." Dictionary.com defines "tyranny" as "a state ruled by a tyrant or absolute ruler." Our Constitution, with the checks and balances between the three branches of government, protects against this quite nicely, thank you very much. As a result, we have not had to worry about tyranny for centuries.

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The Second Amendment, intended to protect people from having their weapons taken while in service to the country in a militia, has been warped and twisted as a means to protect the profits of gun manufacturers. The National Rifle Association used to be in the business of educating people about gun safety measures, and about teaching people how to safely and effectively both use and care for their firearms. This all changed in the 1970s, when Wayne LaPierre showed up on the scene. He made it his mission to turn the Second Amendment into a way to pressure Congress to give beneficial treatment to gun manufacturers. As a result, it has become nothing more than a shield for gun activists to hide behind while making ever more fanciful arguments in favor of their position ... their reasoning being that they are perched high on this sacred mountain called the Constitution, and anyone who dares challenge them is un-American and treasonous.

By repealing the Second Amendment, we open the door to reasonable legislation to make it more difficult to get high-powered weapons in the first place. There are many who want to enact a ban on assault rifles, and there are just as many who claim that such a ban is unconstitutional based on their interpretation of the Second Amendment. This near-religious devotion to twenty-seven words has cost at least 100 lives in the most recent mass shootings in which a semi-automatic high-powered military style rifle was used, and almost assuredly many times more than that.

The common refrain that repealing the Second Amendment equals a mass confiscation operation is pure fabrication. All it does is remove a shield against future legislation ... and trust me, it would not be difficult at all to include a proviso in any future legislation -- whether it is restrictions on the kinds of guns that may be sold to the public or an out-and-out ban against a certain type of weapon -- that allows current gun owners to be grandfathered in and keep their weapons.

The Constitution is not infallible. It is not the be-all and end-all of instructions for our society. This is why the Founding Fathers included a method for updating it, so that it would remain current. Some examples ...
  • The original Constitution stipulated that the Vice-President would be the candidate with the second highest number of votes in a Presidential race. The Twelfth Amendment changed it so that the office of Vice President would be a separate campaign and not a consolation prize.
  • The original Constitution had provisions allowing slavery (even protecting it as an institution against Constitutional amendments for the first twenty years of our nation). The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, and the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed the right to vote would not "be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude ..."
  • The original Constitution had Senators being selected by state legislatures. The Seventeenth Amendment instituted the practice of direct election of Senators by the voters.
  • The original Constitution limited voting to white males. While the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed voting rights for black males, women of all races were denied the vote until the Nineteenth Amendment.
  • Originally, there were no term limits on the Presidency. True, it had been customary for Presidents to serve a maximum of two terms, but there was no legal prohibition against it, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt proved (he died while serving his fourth term of office). The Twenty Second Amendment instituted a two-term limit for President.
  • The original Constitution had no provision for allowing citizens of the District of Columbia to vote for President or Vice President. The Twenty Third Amendment allowed for the "... number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State ..." Surprisingly, this Amendment was not proposed until 1960, and not ratified until 1961.
  • The Twenty Fourth Amendment eliminated poll taxes, used in the Jim Crow South as a means of suppressing the African-American vote.
  • The Twenty Sixth Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
And, most importantly to this argument, the Twenty First Amendment, passed by Congress on February 20, 1933 and ratified on December 5, 1933, repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, also known as Prohibition. This is proof positive that repealing an Amendment is possible and is part of the normal functioning of our Constitution.

I'm sure that there will be those who point out that the Eighteenth Amendment was not part of the original Bill of Rights, which are sacrosanct. This is bullshit. There have been countless court cases in which these first ten Amendments have been examined, and in some cases had the "traditional" interpretation changed -- Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which upheld an implied right of privacy in the Fourth Amendment; Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine introduced by Plessy v. Ferguson; and (most notoriously in recent times) Citizens United v. FEC, which held that limitations on donations to non-affiliated political groups (that is, groups that do not coordinated directly with campaigns) constitute an infringement of free speech rights and are therefore unconstitutional (this is a load of crap, but for some reason Antonin "I'm Rich, You're Poor, You Suck" Scalia's "reasoning" won the day on this one ... expect it to be challenged and overturned in the near future, I promise you).

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The Second Amendment is archaic, outdated, and needs to be repealed. Please sign the petition at https://wh.gov/isJZz, and share it with everyone you know.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

This Has To Stop, People

July, 2012: a man walked into a theater in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire after setting off tear gas grenades, killing 12 people. One of the weapons used was an AR-15 assault rifle.

December 2012: 20 students and six teachers were executed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The weapon of choice? An AR-15.

June, 2013: Five killed and four wounded at Santa Monica Community College by an AR-15.

October, 2015: At Umpqua Community College in Oregon, nine people were killed by an AR-15.

December, 2015: An AR-15 was used to kill 14 people in San Bernardino.

June 2016: an AR-15 was used to kill 50 people (so far) and leave 53 more wounded in the largest single mass shooting event in United States history.

Omar Mateen purchased the gun used in the Orlando nightclub shooting legally. American-born al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn said in a video that encouraged followers of al-Qaeda to take advantage of the lax gun laws in the United States, "You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"

If I want to get on a plane, I have to make sure my bottle of mouthwash is less than three ounces, and I have to submit to a full-body scan at the airport, and remove my shoes, and if there is anything more complicated than a toothbrush in my carry-on bag I might be hauled off to a back room somewhere to be interrogated about who I know, how long I've known them, what's my religion, why am I going where I'm going and what am I going to do when I get there and when am I coming back, and if I start to get annoyed because all of this nonsense is causing me to miss my flight this only serves to cast more suspicion and I could end up in a CIA black site.

If I want to buy an assault rifle, though, all I have to do is show up at a gun show, and the only question I will have to answer is "debit or credit?"

This is all because the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, and dedicated to serving the lobbying needs of the gun manufacturing industry, has somehow transformed the Second Amendment from ensuring the functionality of a "well-regulated militia" to protecting the (non-existent) right of every man, woman, child, dog, cat, gerbil, and some species of invasive plants to own whatever type of gun they want, and to carry them openly in places like Chipotle, Target ... but, ironically, not at the national convention of the National Rifle Association, where firearms are banned from the inside of the building in which it is being held.

The thing is, the right to own firearms is not Constitutionally protected, and this has been reinforced by none other than Antonin "Fuck the Public, They Don't Know Shit" Scalia in Heller v. District of Columbia (2008). Scalia expounded for pages about the precise definitions of the words "keep" and "bear" as they applied to the Second Amendment, and at no time during this exposition did he mention ownership. His opinion holds that the average citizen has a Constitutionally protected right to "keep" arms (that is, to have them in his or her possession), and to "bear" arms (that is, to put them to use), but never to own them.

This is like saying my neighbor has a Constitutionally protected right to "keep" and "bear" my lawn tractor. Under Scalia's definition, my neighbor has the right to keep it in his garage, and to use it whenever he wants to, but it's still my goddam tractor. To extend this analogy, and to apply Scalia's reasoning to the question of firearms, I have a right to keep a gun in my home, and I have a right to use it for self-defense, hunting, etc., but at no point is my right to actually own the thing -- to claim title to it -- Constitutionally protected.

Of course, in light of the horror in Orlando, this is all Monday-morning quarterbacking. Because of our lax gun regulations (thank you, National Rifle Association!), Omar Mateen was able to legally purchase a military-style assault rifle, and then use it to kill 50 people and injure over 50 more. And even as I write this, there are those on the right who are trying to shift the spotlight away from gun regulations and shift it toward their favorite target of ire:

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, in his weekly bible verse tweet, posted Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." This was later deleted, and the PR firm hired by Patrick after the shitstorm provoked by his tweet claimed that "the tweet was pre-scheduled."

Donald Drumpf, ever the master of thoughtful, informed commentary, tweeted "What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough"

Drumpf also tweeted "Appreciate the congrats for being right on Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!" Still waiting for him on that last one ...

There have been multiple calls for increased vigilance -- against mental illness. Granted, anyone who would do something like this is a sick fuck, but when the plague has already been unleashed you focus on eradication first and prevention second.

Over on redstate.com, Jay Caruso pens a column in which he maintains that "If the shooter were a Christian? All we'd have heard all morning was how Christianity spurred the shooter to commit acts of violence against gay people. But the shooter was part of a radicalized form of Islam that THROWS GAY PEOPLE OFF ROOFTOPS TO THEIR DEATH. So the left instead chooses to blame the NRA. Typical." Actually, Mr. Caruso, it's not that it's typical of the left, it's of people who follow the rules of logical thought ... something with which, apparently, you only have a cursory acquaintance.

The left-wing blogosphere is all astir over the fact that the National Rifle Association hasn't commented on this story ... not at all surprising, if you think about it. Say what you will about the NRA -- they're evil, soul-sucking scum; Wayne LaPierre is the illegitimate love child of a diseased possum and Mr. Hyde from the Bugs Bunny cartoons (actually, there is a disturbing resemblance there) ...
Wayne LaPierre
NOT Wayne LaPierre. Or so he says.
 ... and so on -- they ain't stupid. Anyone with the common sense of gravel, when they are fronting an organization such as the NRA, knows that the best course of action in a situation like this is to sit tight, shut up, and wait until the President says something that can be twisted around so that you can blame him for everything.

None of this, however, addresses the real problem, which is that access to guns is simply too easy. I'm not saying, as some idiot parrot at the Right Wing Shriek Factory will be quick to claim, that we should confiscate firearms. First, the public would never stand still for it; second, it is but the first step to a police state; and third, the logistics are just unworkable.

What I am saying, however, is that we need to do the following things:

Repeal the Second Amendment.
Amendments can be repealed; we've done it before (the Twenty-First Amendment is an explicit repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, aka the Volstead Act, aka Prohibition). This doesn't criminalize guns. It simply removes this near-mythic status of Things Protected By The Constitution that preents anything of substance from being done to regulate them.

Regulate guns.
I can't buy a beer without being able to prove that I am twenty-one years of age (depressingly, nobody has asked in decades). Yet guns are being marketed to children ... cute little pink rifles for girls that fire actual bullets. For some reason, a fizzy beverage with 5% alcohol is deemed to be more of a threat than a machine that is designed expressly for the purpose of hurling chunks of hot lead at high speeds into other living things so that they aren't living things any more. This is patently absurd. Not only do we need full background checks for all gun sales, including the cute little pink ones, we also need to require that anyone purchasing a gun be properly licensed and insured. Which brings me to ...

Require gun owners to be licensed, and require guns to be registered.
Libertarian types as well as NRA shills will immediately squawk that this is the first step toward confiscation. Of course, that's like saying that, because my house faces northwest, a step out of my front door is the first step to Toronto. Requiring gun owners to have a license, which would serve as proof of training and expertise, is not unreasonable.

And actually, I am going to use right-wing "logic" here. A few years ago Pennsylvania passed a voter ID law, and a conservative friend of mine tried to make the argument that I shouldn't be upset about it because I already had the ID, so what's the problem? Using that same logic, the vast majority of people who would be subject to this licensure requirement would be able to get said license with no issues, so what's the problem?

As far as registering weapons, it has nothing to do with confiscation, or the paranoid ravings of right-wing nuts who think that Obama is comin' to take yer guns. All it has to do with is identifying the weapon and the owner in the case that it is used in the commission of a crime. Again, if you never use your guns illegally, and you always know their whereabouts (for example, a gun safe in your home), then what's the problem?

Require gun owners to carry liability insurance.
Sure, in cases like the Orlando shooter (who was killed by police), he probably wouldn't have had insurance anyway. However, contrary to what the NRA and their ilk would have you believe, just because something doesn't work all the time doesn't mean we shouldn't even bother trying. Using that logic, David Ortiz would never get up to bat because he strikes out occasionally, and if he can't spank it out of the park every fucking time then what's the use?

With that being said, requiring gun owners to carry insurance gives them an economic incentive to ensure that they are not used for nefarious purposes. In addition, it's a free-market solution ... and I thought conservatives loved it when the market is the solution, rather than government.

Repeal the Second Amendment.
Yeah, I already said it. I know. It's that important.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution is archaic. It no longer fits the needs of our society. It is a low-technology 18th century edict that is not at all appropriate in our high-tech 21st century world. It may have served a purpose when governmental tyranny was a real concern, and the weapons used by governmental forces and the weapon owned by a plantation owner in Virginia were equivalent. That is no longer the case. Joe Six Pack with an AR-15 going up against the United States Army is roughly the same as trying to control a tornado with a flyswatter.

The long and short of it is, we need to make it extremely difficult for people like Omar Mateen -- or Adam Lanza, or James Holmes, or Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, or Christopher Harper Mercer, or John Zawahiri -- to get guns. These are all people who were known, for one reason or another, to be a risk to those around them, either through mental illness (Lanza, Holmes) or religious fanaticism (Farook, Malik), yet they were still able to purchase, legally, enough firepower to slaughter 116 people collectively and injure another 149 people.

That's 265 people. Two hundred sixty five dead or injured because Congress allows itself to be bullied by the NRA.

Repeal the Second Amendment. Regulate guns. Granted, we won't be able to stop them all, but each life saved by these measures will more than justify them.

And The Oscar Goes To ...

Yeah, yesterday's column? Um ... no. Yesterday I posted that I had undergone a change of heart, a radical shift in my political lean...