Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent?

Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters Blaney’s office cites ‘comprehensive’ hate laws for new zero tolerance plans By Neil Macdonald, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 11, … Continue reading

Ottawa cites hate crime laws when asked about its ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters

Blaney’s office cites ‘comprehensive’ hate laws for new zero tolerance plans

By Neil Macdonald, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2015 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 11, 2015 10:58 PM ET


Tweets About Israel Land New Jersey Student in Principal’s Office


Tolerance is an intractable term.  Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent? Who decides who’s who, who’s what? Words used in complex social situations have always a degree of double-speak; there is a disconnection between what we think we mean and our actual thinking.

Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/ ) is supposed to be about letting those different from us be themselves, but in practice is about pretending that we are different from ourselves. To always have a favorite football team as an essential part of our identity? Even in this limited sense, one has to be careful; it might not be healthful to display the wrong loyalty in the wrong bar.

Tolerance stems from a sated world. In times of plenty, we can afford to be kind to those who are different. We are less threatened when we are comfortable. If our 21st Century standard of living peaks—coincident with a peak in surplus energy (i.e., fossil fuels)—then we may not have the luxury of viewing our social progress as an irreversible ratchet. Hard times revive old tribal instincts: different is not welcome.

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. For instance, many Serbian communities believed that the western media portrayed a negative image of the Serbian people during the NATO bombing in Kosovo and Serbia (http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/tolerance ).

it is easy to protest

when the bombs fall miles from the fridge

yet, we are still afraid

a trip to Disney World on the line

so what hundred children massacred a day

better to have less terrorists, right?

In this day and age of information overload modern society is in a state of data deluge, and our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age (https://www.thersa.org/events/2015/01/thinking-straight-in-the-age-of-information-overload/ ). Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_bite ) and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .

The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and the others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/cultural-marxism/ ); we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.

While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/fascism/ ).

Robert Paxton says that fascism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism )  is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victimhood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/the-oregon-militia/ ).

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:

Thomas Jefferson.

For Tea Partiers, the root of knowledge is a bedrock certainty about the Bible. This provides them with clear, absolute answers and that much of what we see on earth is a struggle between good and evil (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/a-conversation-about-gun-control/ ).

The ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.”

President Obama is aware of the Oregon situation, but the White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. It sounds like fools playing with fire. A fire that will get us all burned.

In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”

Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”

 

More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/10/us/gun-sales-terrorism-obama-restrictions.html ).

The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.

During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

Few political terrorists in recent history took as much care to articulate their ideological influences and political views as Anders Behring Breivik did. The right-wing Norwegian Islamophobe.  One of the most remarkable aspects of the manifesto is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement (http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/08/americas-breivik-complex-how-state-terror-electrifies-the-islamophobic-right ). Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters. American Islamophobes simply sit back from the comfort of their homes and cheer as American and Israeli troops — and their remote-controlled aerial drones — leave a trail of charred bodies from Waziristan to Gaza City.

While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM chief David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror.

In American and Israeli society, Professional Terrorism is acceptable, whereas Amateur Terrorism is absolutely the world’s greatest evil (http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/08/gallup-poll-jews-and-christians-way-more-likely-than-muslims-to-justify-killing-civilians/ ).  Amateur Terrorism provides the justification for Professional Terrorism (this even though it is usually almost always the case that Professional Terrorism started the cycle of violence).  Those who have the capability to carry out Professional Terrorism have absolutely no need to resort to Amateur Terrorism since the former is so much more effective in killing civilians than the latter.

Public Policy Polling asked Republicans if they would want to bomb the fictional town of Agrabah in Disney’s Aladdin movie (http://www.loonwatch.com/2015/12/30-percent-of-republicans-want-to-bomb-aladdins-hometown-agrabah/ ).

These are the results:

Support bombing Agrabah  …………………………30%

Oppose bombing Agrabah  …………………………13%

Not sure ……………………………………………………57%

In sharp contrast with Americans who identify themselves with other faith groups (http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx ), Muslim Americans are more likely to say military attacks on civilians are never justified (78%) than sometimes justified (21%). Respondents from other faith groups, particularly Mormon Americans, are more likely to say military attacks are sometimes justified than never justified. The opinions of Americans who don’t identify themselves with any religion are more in line with those of Muslim Americans, but they are also more divided.

Gallup analysts (http://www.gallup.com/poll/157067/views-violence.aspx ) tested correlations between the level at which populations say these attacks are “sometimes justified” and a number of independent indicators, and they found human development and societal stability measures are most strongly related.

Residents of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states are slightly less likely than residents of non-member states to view military attacks on civilians as sometimes justified, and about as likely as those of non-member states to say the same about individual attacks.

 “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”

Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade .

In the article “Why are there no condemnations from Muslim sources against terrorists?” Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance summarizes:

A common complaint among non-Muslims is that Muslim religious authorities do not condemn terrorist attacks. The complaints often surface in letters to the editors of newspapers, on phone-in radio shows, in Internet mailing lists, forums, etc. A leader of an evangelical Christian para-church group, broadcasting over Sirius Family Net radio, stated that he had done a thorough search on the Internet for a Muslim statement condemning terrorism, without finding a single item.
Actually, there are lots of fatwas and other statements issued which condemn attacks on innocent civilians. Unfortunately, they are largely ignored by newspapers, television news, radio news and other media outlets. Possibly because Islamic terrorists keep killing innocent civilians.

Contrary to common image, many Muslims have spoken out against 9/11,[2][3][4]

A 2007 Pew Research Center study of several nations throughout the Muslim world showed that opposition to suicide bombing in the Muslim world is increasing, with a majority of Muslims surveyed in 10 out of the 16 of the countries responding that suicide bombings and other violence against civilians is “never” justified, though an average of 38% believe it is justified at least rarely. Opposition to Hamas was the majority opinion in only 4 out of the 16 countries surveyed, as was opposition to Hezbollah.[5] The Pew Research Study did not include Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria in the survey, although densely populated Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Bangladesh were included.

Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

Muslim man was attacked by Piro Kolvani who decided he had to drive from Florida to New York to beat on a Muslim (Kolvani was inspired by the NY Post front covers). Kolvani viciously attacked Sarker Haque, who stated, “I never saw a situation like that. Not even after 9/11.”

Yet, the conflict is not about religion nor race, but power (in the sociopathic sense) and resources. Human activity is not driven by justice but by power. In a way, justice is the right of the strong. One thing is rationalizations used to justify actions, and another, real social and psychological motives behind. These ulterior motives are not necessary explicit or even conscious.

All three religions   – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – in conflict share the same core barbaric Bronze Age believes sated in the Hebrew Bible, and all pick and choose what’s convenient to their respective social order. Whether one is consider a Christian or a Muslim is more an accident of geography or ethnicity, than a reflection of actual belief.   That is, religion is mainly a marker of cultural identity.

Israel, for all the talk about being a Jewish state is in practice rather secular. Although the idea of a vibrant queer community in Israel, reputed birthplace of the biblical condemnation of same-sex relations, may seem far-fetched, Israel today is one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of equality for sexual minorities. Politically, legally, and culturally, the community has moved from life at the margins of Israeli society to visibility and growing acceptance (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/homosexuality-in-israel/ ).

Many Israelis are not Semitic (http://www.livescience.com/40247-ashkenazi-jews-have-european-genes.html ). While Ashkenazi Jews have a long tradition in Judaism, they cannot claim a bloodline from David, which is a mythological figure anyway (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/davidjer.html ).

The scourge of Islamic fundamentalism is a monster created by the same people crying wolf (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/the-islamic-state/ ).

The modern Islamic fundamentalist movements have their origins in the late 19th century. The Wahhabi movement, an Arabian fundamentalist movement that began in the 18th century, gained traction and spread during the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Cold War following World War II, some NATO governments, particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom, launched covert and overt campaigns to encourage and strengthen fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and southern Asia. These groups were seen as a hedge against potential expansion by the Soviet Union, and as a means to prevent the growth of nationalistic movements that were not necessarily favorable toward the interests of the Western nations. By the 1970s the Islamists had become important allies in supporting governments, such as Egypt, which were friendly to U.S. interests. In many cases the military wings of these groups were supplied with money and arms by the U.S. (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/religion-and-terrorism/ ).

Regardless of the machinations behind the current crisis in the Middle East, its effects will unsettle the whole World, including the US and Europe (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-roots-of-the-migration-crisis-1441995372 ). The Syrian refugee disaster presents a dilemma to the West. A massive influx of refugees into any country compromises its social and economic stability but the crisis cannot be ignored in humanitarian and practical grounds. Furthermore, the rise of religious fundamentalism (of all flavors: Christian, Muslim, or Jewish) is a treat to the long term viability of modern society.

Humans are social animals and it’s our natural instinct to be emphatic with others. It’s natural for us to bond by kinship. Unfortunately the same tribal instinct hampers our ability to recognize the essential and vital global brotherhood of man. We cling to nationality, religion, and many artificial walls we build around us that compromise our chances for long term survival (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/merry-xmas/ ).

We must overcome our fears and reach out for peace. To live or die together is the choice.

Guns in America

A Guide To Gun Stores And Ranges Declaring ‘Muslim-Free’ Zones Antonia Blumberg Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post Posted: 08/14/2015 08:06 PM EDT Expert advice on what to do if you ever find yourself at gunpoint Published on Apr 15, 2014 … Continue reading


A Guide To Gun Stores And Ranges Declaring ‘Muslim-Free’ Zones

Antonia Blumberg
Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post
Posted: 08/14/2015 08:06 PM EDT

Expert advice on what to do if you ever find yourself at gunpoint

Published on Apr 15, 2014

http://www.everytown.org/scenes
Warning: Some may find this video disturbing.
Two million American kids live in a home where this could happen. Will you help stop it?

Published on Jun 24, 2013

misquoting the father

se·di·tion noun noun: sedition; plural noun: seditions conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch. It’s a simplified modern version of his original quote, the original is is 18th century English, and a … Continue reading

se·di·tion
noun
noun: sedition; plural noun: seditions
conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.

1011006_504286249681591_987890477_nIt’s a simplified modern version of his original quote, the original is is 18th century English, and a bit hard to follow since this message was much longer in its originality, but the meaning behind this means the same as his original quote meant.

Kevin Collver

A quote sometimes purported to be from a speech to Congress, January 7, 1790 purportedly in the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790, this is actually a corruption of a statement made in his first State of the Union Address, relating to the need for maintaining governmental troops and military preparedness. If one were unaware of the misquoting, it would be nitpicking to point out the error. However, once one knows what Washington actually said, it is disingenuous to insist that he was promoting sedition against his own presidency. No government will encourage sedition against itself. The right to self defense is valid, then why the deceit of fabricating false quotes from the founding fathers?

What the actual quote shows is that in Washington’s time the term people was used as an euphemism for the State, on the bases  that the just created US government was a federal democratic republic. So when the second amendment talks about people and well organized militia, it is not talking about individuals.

When the Constitution was written and ratified, the US did not have a strong centralized government, and that was intentional. When the second amendment refers to the “State” it is referring to the State in which one resided. States were much more powerful then then they are now. It is claimed that he reference to “people” in the second amendment is truly a reference to the people of each State because the intent of the Constitution was to outline the specific powers granted to each branch of the government by “the people” and that is also why in the Constitution itself it states that any powers NOT specifically outlined in the Constitution reside with “the people“. Amendment IV also refers to “the right of the people to be secure”, referring to individuals. However, the note about well organized militia in the second amendment makes the term ambiguous. Many gun-ownership advocates  do believe the the Constitution is a document that was inspired by God. But the Constitution is not holy scripture. It is a distillation of the thinking of the french aristocracy of the XVIII century.

Nevertheless, it is the World experience that when the State losses its monopoly on Force what one gets is feudal war-lordships in a state of affairs far removed from democracy. Right now in Mexico that experiment is taking place with groups that claim to be civil self-defense fighting against narco gangs. It is not clear where this will end.


Spurious attributions

Statements which evidence indicates are fabrications, never actually said by anyone prior to their being attributed to Washington.
  • I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet.
    • The earliest source of this quote was a famous anecdote in The Life of George Washington, with Curious Anecdotes Laudable to Himself and Exemplary to his Countrymen (1806) by Parson Weems, which is not considered a credible source, and many incidents recounted in the work are now considered to have sprung entirely from Weems’ imagination. This derives from an anecdote of Washington, as a young boy, confessing to his father Augustine Washington that it was he who had cut a cherished cherry tree.
    • Variant:Father, I cannot tell a lie, I cut the tree.
  • What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.
    • A modern fabrication. Washington did use the phrase “above all the religion of Jesus Christ” on 12 May 1779 in a reply to a petition from a Lenape delegation asking for assistance in promoting the missionary activities of David Zeisberger among their people: “You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do every thing they can to assist you in this wise intention…” He did not say anything about “What students would learn in American schools,” though earlier in the same reply he did say “I am glad you have brought three of the Children of your principal Chiefs to be educated with us.” While there’s nothing in the reply about how those “Children” might be educated (in fact Congress put two of them through Princeton) it’s possible that suggested the fabricated portion. See Louise Phelps Kellogg, Frontier Advance on the Upper Ohio 1778-1779 (Madison WI, 1916), pp. 317-324, for the episode. Washington’s reply is also found in John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, vol. 15, (Washington D.C., 1936), p. 55.
  • Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon and citizen’s firearms are indelibly related. From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate they are in safe and sane hands. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good. When firearms go, all goes— we need them every hour.
    • Sometimes purported to have been made in an “Address to the Second Session of the First United States Congress, 7 January 1790, according to the Boston Independent Chronicle (14 January 1790)”, this quote is palpably bogus, as this essay at a pro-gun site makes plain.
  • A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.
    • A further quote sometimes purported to be from a speech to Congress, January 7, 1790 purportedly in the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790, this is actually a corruption of a statement made in his first State of the Union Address, relating to the need for maintaining governmental troops and military preparedness:
A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.
The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy. .
  • It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.
    • Washington is known to have made some official statements of public piety, but this is not one of them. Though this assertion is very widely reported to have been said in Washington’s Farewell Address (17 September 1796), this is not actually the case, as any search of the documents would reveal. It has also been presented as having been part of his Proclamation on January 1, 1795 of February 19th, 1795 as a day of national Thanksgiving in this form:
It is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced. It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe, without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being. Religion is as necessary to reason, as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason, in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to.
In the above paragraph the italicized portion appears to be entirely bogus, and there is no actual record of such a statement ever having been made by Washington. The first sentence is an almost accurate rendition of one from Washington’s official proclamation, being a portion of this segment:
In such a state of things it is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience. Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation…
It is to be noted that there is genuine piety expressed in this statement, but it is not of any sectarian kind, Christian or otherwise. The last portion of the bogus statement which uses it is a truncation of a statement attributed to him in an undocumented biography written for children. In A Life of Washington (1836) by James K. Paulding, Washington is quoted as having stated:

It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being. Religion is as necessary to reason as reason is to religion. The one cannot exist without the other. A reasoning being would lose his reason in attempting to account for the great phenomena of nature, had he not a Supreme Being to refer to; and well has it been said, that if there had been no God, mankind would have been obliged to imagine one.
In the spurious version of the Thanksgiving proclamation which uses a portion of this, Washington’s allusions to Voltaire‘s famous statement that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” has been omitted. In the cases of these “quotations” it seems that if statements suitable to their sectarian interests do not exist, some people feel it necessary to invent them.
  • The Jews work more effectively against us than the enemy’s armies. They are a hundred times more dangerous to our liberties and the great cause we are engaged in. It is much to be lamented that each state, long ago, has not hunted them down as pests to society and the greatest enemies we have to the happiness of America.
    • Sometimes rendered : “They (the Jews) work more effectively against us, than the enemy’s armies. They are a hundred times more dangerous to our liberties and the great cause we are engaged in… It is much to be lamented that each state, long ago, has not hunted them down as pest to society and the greatest enemies we have to the happiness of America.”
    • Both of these are doctored statements that have been widely disseminated as genuine on many anti-semitic websites; They are distortions derived from a statement that was attributed to Washington in Maxims of George Washington about currency speculators during the Revolutionary war, not about Jews: “This tribe of black gentry work more effectually against us, than the enemy’s arms. They are a hundred times more dangerous to our liberties, and the great cause we are engaged in. It is much to be lamented that each State, long ere this, has not hunted them down as pests to society, and the greatest enemies we have to the happiness of America.” More information is available at Snopes. com: “To Bigotry, No Sanction”
    • This quotation is a classic anti-semitic hoax, evidently begun during or just before World War Two by American Nazi sympathizers, and since then has been repeated, for example, in foreign propaganda directed at Americans. In fact it is knitted from two separate letters by Washington, in reverse chronology, neither of them mentioning Jews. The first part of this forgery are taken from Washington’s letter to Edmund Pendleton, Nov. 1, 1779 {and the original can be found in the Library of Congress’s online service at http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mgw/mgw3h/001/378378.jpg }. I have tried to reproduce Washington’s spelling and punctuation exactly. In that letter Washington complains about black marketeers and others undermining the purchasing power of colonial currency:
… but I am under no apprehension of a capital injury from ay other source than that of the continual depreciation of our Money. This indeed is truly alarming, and of so serious a nature that every other effort is in vain unless something can be done to restore its credit. …. Where this has been the policy (in Connecticut for instance) the prices of every article have fallen and the money consequently is in demand; but in the other States you can scarce get a single thing for it, and yet it is with-held from the public by speculators, while every thing that can be useful to the public is engrossed by this tribe of black gentry, who work more effectually against us that the enemys Arms; and are a hundd. times more dangerous to our liberties and the great cause we are engaged in.
The second part of this fabricated quote is from Washington’s letter to Joseph Reed, Dec. 12, 1778 {and can be found at the Library of Congress using the same URL but ending in /193192.jpg}, which again condemns war profiteers (the parenthetical list in the quotation is Washington’s own words which he put there in parentheses):

It gives me very sincere pleasure to find that there is likely to be a coalition … so well disposed to second your endeavours in bringing those murderers of our cause (the monopolizers, forestallers, and engrossers) to condign punishment. It is much to be lamented that each State long ere this has not hunted them down as the pests of society, and the greatest Enemys we have to the happiness of America. I would to God that one of the most attrocious of each State was hung in Gibbets upons a gallows five times as high as the one prepared by Haman. No punishment in my opinion is too great for the Man who can build his greatness upon his Country’s ruin.

Public opinion matters

Even gun owners and NRA members overwhelmingly support background checks2 — although the NRA’s leadership opposes background checks and is at odds with its own members.3

Let’s make sure members of Congress listen to their constituents and not the gun lobby. Call your Senators right now and ask them to support the Fix Gun Checks Act:

http://DemandAPlan.org/100percent

Thanks for supporting common sense reform and spreading the word!

Mayors Against Illegal Guns
______________
1. “Background Checks Overwhelmingly Supported By Gun Owners In 4 States,” January 21, 2013.
2. “Does the NRA agree with Wayne LaPierre?” January 31, 2013.
3. “NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre,” January 31, 2013.


As a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen’s constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.  

It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans’ Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens’ Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our Second Amendment rights.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.
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My nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was murdered with a gun in Tucson, Arizona two years ago today.

Since that day, far too many families have gone through similar pain.

Families in Aurora, Colorado. Families in Newtown, Connecticut. Families of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every single day across America.

How many more families need to feel that pain before our leaders take action? What will it take for them to find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?

Today, please watch the TV ad I made with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and join me in calling on your leaders in Congress to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.


It’s past time for our leaders to take action.

Please make a donation of $35 or more to support the fight to end gun violence.

This July, I went to see a midnight movie with a couple of friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our fun night out turned into a nightmare.

At first, I thought it was a prank — just some kids setting off fireworks. But when I realized what was happening, I immediately thought about other mass shootings: Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson.

Could what happened there actually be happening to us? The terrifying answer was yes, and Aurora is now part of that list.

My friends and I were lucky. We were among the 58 people who survived their injuries. But twelve others weren’t so lucky.

In the weeks that followed, we heard a lot of promises from politicians. Unfortunately, those promises didn’t go anywhere. And now, not even six months later, the list of mass shootings has grown again:Newtown.

Is there anything more horrible than the mass murder of innocent children? Do we need a clearer reason to finally take action?

The time is NOW! Join me in supporting the fight to end gun violence with a donation of $35 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Demand A Plan campaign.

My survival, and the survival of my friends, was arbitrary. It all came down to where we chose our seats, where the shooter aimed his gun, where the bullets entered our bodies.

We can’t let fate be the difference between life and death in our country.

We need a real plan to end gun violence — a plan to stop mass shootings and protect the 33 people murdered every day with guns. We need to stop dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Will you step up and support our fight?

http://DemandAPlan.org/now

Thank you,

Stephen Barton
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

P.S. — I grew up just ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart goes out to the families of Newtown, and I’m committed to making sure our leaders hear their voices and take action. Your support today can make the difference.


That line of defense from gun proponents comes up again and again in the wake of mass shootings, like last week’s at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and seven adults dead. It’s true, in a sense: when holding objects that are specifically designed to be the most effective killing machines possible, people do, in fact, kill people.
And yes, people have gone on murderous rampages for all of human history, and have used whatever tools were at their disposal – rocks, knives, swords, their own hands – to inflict violence. The problem comes in when the tools at their disposal are really good at killing others without much work on the part of the killer, which is why lots of folks would like to see the United States institute some reasonable laws regulating gun ownership.
Time and again, though, the pro-gun right’s answer is the same: people will find a way to kill, and violence is inevitable, so taking away guns won’t work. Their solution seems to be a society where every citizen has a gun in one hand and crossed fingers on the other.

That perspective represents not just an intense cultural tie to guns, but a typically conservative view of humanity: people (other than me) are fundamentally bad and our time on Earth is in preparation for the afterlife, so why worry about making it better?

As we’ve seen in the debates on issues from climate change to gender equality to foreign policy, facts, statistics and rational arguments don’t really matter if the goal of offering them up is to improve things in the here and now. It’s a deeply pessimistic view of humanity that projects a strong sense of fatalism.
The point of being “good” isn’t because goodness is valuable unto itself or because goodness is widely beneficial. The point of being good is to earn heaven points. Goodness, then, is defined according to a very particular set of religious and cultural values, and is highly “in-group” focused. Goodness means going to church, marrying early, submitting to a husband-in-charge family structure, having children out of obligationand upholding the social pillars that organize society to keep a particular group on top.
Goodness isn’t necessarily helping other people or taking steps that are proven effective at decreasing violence or working to create a more accepting and happy world for our children. Goodness is upholding the power structures that have traditionally benefited the small group of men who think they have a monopoly on defining “goodness.”
Without strong social incentives and harsh social punishments for deviation from these structures, they collapse – and they collapse because they simply don’t serve large swaths of the American population (women who want equal rights, people of color, immigrants, poor people, non-Christians, gay people). There isn’t much of a reason for why these particular structures are the best, other than that the few people who benefit from them seem to like them. But the fundamental argument in their favor seems to be that without a social organization that puts white Christian men on top, the hordes of “bad” people will simply be out there – and there is nothing we can do other than arm ourselves against them.
That’s why “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is still considered an actual argument. It’s why the debates on gun control go in circles. One side thinks we have serious but fixable cultural problems with violence, with a masculinity that is tied to aggression and with the glorification of gun culture, and that the wide availability of all sorts of deadly weaponry in such a culture enables an unconscionable amount of lethal violence. The other side thinks people are just sinners, our time on this planet is meant to be trying and ugly, guns represent freedom and man’s dominion over the Earth, and gun deaths simply result from a lack of Christianity and the attendant breaks from a “traditional” model that necessitated the oppression of a great many Americans.
As Dennis Prager argued in the National Review, no one fears being massacred by a “decent” person. We fear being massacred by someone bad.
It is certainly true that “good” people don’t walk into a classroom and shoot a group of six year-olds. It’s also true that good people don’t murder their wives and girlfriends – yet five times more women are killed by intimate partners every year than by strangers, and 95% of the women who are killed with a firearm are murdered by a man. If there’s a gun involved, an incident of domestic violence is 12 times more likely to result in death. And while mass shootings understandably capture our national attention, the more than 30,000 American gun deaths every year (and their $37bn price tag) should spur us to action.
It’s easy to read those figures and conclude that conservatives are right: we are a world of awful, violent people who are going to keep on being awful and violent no matter what, so gun control serves no purpose and we’ll all be better off in Heaven anyway. But as is true with almost anything that makes life on Earth brutish and miserable, we have the power to change that. Gun deaths are lower in the states with the strictest gun control laws. And the majority of US gun deaths actually comprises suicides – acts committed not generally by evil, murderous people, but by individuals who are sick and hurting and need help.
Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What’s clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
The solutions, then, must be multifold: poverty alleviation; better mental health care with a focus on suicide prevention and depression treatment, not the stigmatization of the mentally ill, who are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and yes, gun control to make it more difficult for a firearm to be such an easily-accessed weapon.
To most people who believe in evidence-based policy and sociological realities, those solutions make sense. But to people who have no interest in actually finding solutions or making the world a better, safer, happier place, it’s like talking to a brick wall. Why improve life on earth if life on earth is temporary and all that matters is to secure a seat in the clouds?
That’s why you hear people like Mike Huckabee saying that mass shootings are somehow related to prayer in school and contraception, or Charlotte Allen arguing that the decline of traditional gender roles led to these shootings and that husky 12-year-old boys should throw their bodies at armed men.
Huckabee doesn’t actually think that saying prayers prevents gun violence or that contraception makes killers go on shooting sprees, any more than Allen believes that 12-year-old boys are made of Kevlar. They think that the world is divided into sinners and repentant sinners, and the only way to be a “decent” person is to fall in line behind their very narrow, often very harmful, beliefs.
Gun deaths, of course, are significantly more common in the most religious states of the nation. And gun deaths are very low in the relatively non-religiously-observant states of northern Europe. In the UK, the homicide by firearm rate is approximately one in a million. Ditto in France. That must be nice. More people are killed by guns in the US every day than in an entire year in Japan – by a factor of about 12.
Every nation in the world has people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. And yet, the kinds of regular mass rampages that have now happened several times this year alone in the United States seem to be a specifically American phenomenon.
As the Sandy Hook shootings unfolded, I watched many of the journalists I follow on Twitter post links to the articles about gun violence that they had written after the previous mass shooting, or the one before that. I watched friends on Facebook like and link to the inevitable memorial pages, this time around noting the too-short lives of 20 smiling kids who were practically infants, ensuring readers and supporters that these little angels are now safely in Heaven.
That’s an impulse I understand, but it’s not a solution.
Only in America do political writers all seem have a stable of articles about mass shootings that they can bring out and repost or revise when the next one occurs.
Only in America do we collectively shrug our shoulders when yet another young white man goes on a shooting spree.
Only in America do we remain convinced that people will kill no matter what, so we may as well give people virtually unlimited access to some of the deadliest hand-held weapons ever invented.
Only here, in America, do we think that the best we can do is a Facebook page and a plea to God.


More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported.

They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut.

The petition followed an interview with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, on CNN – in which Mr Morgan called his guest “a dangerous man”.

Petitions posted on the White House website only require 25,000 signatures to get a response from the government.

The campaign was started by a journalist in Texas following Mr Morgan’s CNN programme of 19 December.

The petition says the talk show host “is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment”, which protects an individual’s right to own guns.

“We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.”

Mr Morgan has responded, repeatedly, on his Twitter account.

“If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?” the 47-year-old joked after the 25,000-signature threshold was passed.

He added: “Wanting America to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines isn’t anti-constitutional – it’s called ‘common sense.'”

Later he said, in a reference to the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech: “Ironic US gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking Second Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?”

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has vowed to push for immediate and concrete gun safety proposals.

But the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA), which has more than four million members, has rejected the need for tighter gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey, there were 88.8 firearms for every 100 Americans in 2007.

‘Stupid man’
Mr Morgan’s interview, on his nightly chat show, came five days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Mr Pratt said tighter controls on gun sales would not put an end to similar tragedies.

“The problem occurs in those areas precisely where we have said ‘no guns’,” he said.

Mr Morgan hosts a nightly chat show on news network CNN
“Where the guns are allowed freely to be carried… we have very low murder rates.

“We only have problems in our cities and, unhappily, in our schools, where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves.”

Mr Morgan responded: “You’re a very stupid man, aren’t you?

“You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don’t actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America.”

He ended the combative interview by calling Mr Pratt “a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense” and declared, “you shame your country”.


The tone deaf and horrifyingly self-serving speech given by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Friday cast a pall over our holiday season. It took the NRA a full week to prepare THIS?

1. Blamed video games for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence video games implicated.

2. Blamed movies for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence movies implicated.

3. Urged creation of 100,000-strong new Federal bureaucracy of armed school guards, which implies big tax increase. Thanks, Wayne! (And did not mention that Columbine had an armed guard or that Virginia Tech has its own police department.)

4. Condemned “gun-free schools” policy as insane.

5. Scaremongered about rise in violent crime. Murder rate in US cut in half since 1990, but did not mention that firearms murder rate remains highest among advanced countries.

6. Condemns confusion of semi-automatic guns with “machine guns.” Does not mention how many bullets a minute a semi-automatic gun with expanded clip can shoot.

7. Seems to call for armed adult volunteers to show up at our elementary schools to engage in vigilante ‘guarding’ of them. Are these likely the people we want in our schools?

8. Wants cordons around schools instead of gun control.

9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms.

10. Does not mention that semi-automatic rifles were designed for military use and are not necessary for hunting, or that they are banned for civilians among all our NATO allies.


Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Today’s NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA’s extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn’t say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense.
Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.
You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.
What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.
What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.
Tell your members of Congress that it’s time to stand up to the NRA:
Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,
Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
P.S. — A group of 53 artists joined our effort to Demand A Plan and recorded a powerful, personal message. Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends and family:http://DemandAPlan.org.


(Reuters) – Gun makers are facing pressure from some major U.S. investors after the Newtown elementary school shooting, with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announcing it would sell the largest U.S. manufacturer of firearms and major public pension funds reviewing their gun-related investments.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would sell Freedom Group, whose AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle was used by a 20-year-old gunman to kill 20 children and six staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cerberus’ move came after some of its investors had expressed concerns, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which said on Monday that it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm.

“It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,” said Cerberus, which has more than $20 billion under management.

The $150.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is reviewing its investments in firearm manufacturers, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday.

New York City’s pension funds are also reviewing investments and may sell nearly $18 million worth of stock in four companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a leading advocate for gun control in the U.S.

The city’s $128 billion pension funds hold nearly $14 million worth of shares in ammunition maker Olin Corp, $1.7 million in gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp, $2.4 million in gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co Inc and $17,866 worth of stock in Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA.

Shares of Smith & Wesson fell nearly 10 percent, shares of Sturm Roger fell 7.7 percent, shares of Forjas Taurus fell 3.8 percent and shares of Olin fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

It wasn’t just public pension funds who were questioning whether they should have investments in gun companies.

King Lip, chief investment officer for San Francisco-based wealth adviser Baker Avenue Asset Management, said has received calls from clients wanting to make sure that the firm did not own or buy shares in gun-makers or gun-related companies.

“This one has especially hit close to home for a lot of people. A lot of our clients have kids or grandkids,” said Lip, whose firm has about $800 million in client assets under management. The firm does not own any gun-related stocks.

As outrage grew over the killings in Newtown, some gun retailers pulled rifles off their shelves. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Dick’s Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide. Cabela’s however, continued to advertise the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles on its website.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday asked CalSTRS and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to account for their investments in gun manufacturers. Lockyer proposed that the state’s public pension funds, the largest in the United States, sell their interest in any company that makes guns that are illegal under California’s assault weapons ban. California’s ban includes the Bushmaster rifle.

“We are not precluding the possibility of extending a divestment move to the retail sector, but right now we are focused on the source, which is the manufacturers,” Lockyer’s spokesman Tom Dresslar said.

KNEE-JERK REACTION?

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown killings have led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

While the latest moves by investors could herald a new chapter in corporate America’s stance toward the issue of gun rights, it remains to be seen if they will have lasting effects.

Several investors held firm about investing in gun-related stocks, seeing the debate more as a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. Vanguard Group Inc, the largest shareholder in Smith & Wesson, for example, said it was not in a position to meet what it called the “social concerns” of all shareholders.

Vanguard said in a statement it was “deeply saddened by the tragedy” but that most of its shares in Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger were held in index funds.

“All these stocks are getting hit, but ironically I think what we’ll find is that traditional gun purchases will actually rise,” said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

“People are scared, and there’s a good slice of America that very much believes they have a right to protect themselves,” said Ghriskey, whose firm has a small position in gun retailer Cabela’s. Cabela’s shares fell 5.9 percent.

A German fund manager, who focuses on “sin” stocks such as firearms, alcohol and gambling, said he was sticking with his recommendation to buy Smith & Wesson stock despite Newtown.

It’s a terrible tragedy, he said, “but everyone who changes his investment strategy now should ask himself if he really is surprised. Didn’t they read newspapers in the past?”

CERBERUS DELIBERATION

Still, investor outrage over the shooting was enough for Cerberus to decide to sell Freedom Group.

The firm’s decision came late on Monday night, after executives deliberated on the impact of the shooting, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The private equity firm, which was founded by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter in 1992, also has to be careful not to anger investors at a time it is seeking to raise up to $3.5 billion for a new buyout fund.

Feinberg’s father, Martin Feinberg, is also a resident of Newtown, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with him. Public records show a Martin Feinberg residing in a retirement facility in Newtown.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Cerberus filed for an initial public offering of Freedom Group in October 2009 but withdrew the registration in April 2011, without offering a reason.

“It’s an unusual move by Cerberus but it was a terrible event, so they are responding to some of their investors who are teachers’ funds. I’m sure they will be selling it at a low price because now would not be a good time to sell the business,” said Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago finance professor.

(Additional reporting by Martine Geller, Hilary Russ and Ashley Lau in New York, Lisa Baertlein and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles and Dan Burns in Newtown, Connecticut; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Tiffany Wu and Michael Perry)


Dec 18 (Reuters) – The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday it is “prepared to offer meaningful contributions” to prevent future massacres like the Connecticut shooting on Friday, marking a sharp change in tone for the nation’s largest gun rights group.

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the organization said in a statement sent to reporters.

The NRA plans a news conference on Friday after staying silent out of respect for families in Newtown, Connecticut, and as a matter of common decency, the statement said.


It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.


A US private equity firm has said it is to sell its stake in the maker of the AR15-style rifle used in the Newtown school shootings.

Cerberus Capital Management’s move came after pressure from one of its own biggest investors, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs).

Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006, and more gunmakers since, merging them into Freedom Group, which it will now sell.

The firm said it wanted to avoid being drawn into the gun control controversy.

The announcement by Cerberus comes four days after 20 young children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr Lanza then killed himself.

He had earlier killed his mother at her home before travelling to the school.

The murders have renewed the debate over the need for gun control in the US, with President Barack Obama promising “meaningful action”, and adding that “as a country, we have been through this too many times”.

The National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights organisation in the US, has not commented since the mass shooting.

Politicians previously against more gun control have also generally been quiet, while one, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said the Newtown attack had made him rethink his opposition to a ban on assault weapons.

However, gun control is difficult to tighten in the US, because the second amendment of the country’s constitution guarantees the “right to keep and bear arms”.

‘Senseless violence’
“We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so,” Cerberus said in a statement.

“We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition,” the firm added, noting that Freedom Group only sold weapons to federally licensed dealers and distributors, and not directly to US citizens.

Freedom Group claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial firearms, selling over two billion rounds of ammunition each year.

As well as Bushmaster, the maker of the AR15-style rifle, Freedom Group also owns Remington, the oldest US gunmaker established in 1816, and seven other gun arms manufacturers, as well as majority stakes in two clothing companies specialising in hunting and paramilitary apparel.

The group made profits before tax of $2.7m in the 12 months to September 2012, on $875m of sales.

Calstrs, which is the second largest pension fund in the US, had said on Monday that it was reviewing its own $750m (£460m) investment in Cerberus in light of the deaths of 20 school children and seven adults including teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Cerberus, which is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with over $20bn of assets under management, said that the shootings represented “a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level”.

Proceeds from the sale of Freedom Group would be returned to Cerberus’ investors, and not reinvested by the firm.

Even gun owners and NRA members overwhelmingly support background checks2 — although the NRA’s leadership opposes background checks and is at odds with its own members.3

Let’s make sure members of Congress listen to their constituents and not the gun lobby. Call your Senators right now and ask them to support the Fix Gun Checks Act:

http://DemandAPlan.org/100percent

Thanks for supporting common sense reform and spreading the word!

Mayors Against Illegal Guns
______________
1. “Background Checks Overwhelmingly Supported By Gun Owners In 4 States,” January 21, 2013.
2. “Does the NRA agree with Wayne LaPierre?” January 31, 2013.
3. “NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre,” January 31, 2013.


As a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen’s constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.  

It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans’ Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens’ Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our Second Amendment rights.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.cornyn.senate.gov/newsletter.
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My nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was murdered with a gun in Tucson, Arizona two years ago today.

Since that day, far too many families have gone through similar pain.

Families in Aurora, Colorado. Families in Newtown, Connecticut. Families of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every single day across America.

How many more families need to feel that pain before our leaders take action? What will it take for them to find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?

Today, please watch the TV ad I made with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and join me in calling on your leaders in Congress to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.


It’s past time for our leaders to take action.

Please make a donation of $35 or more to support the fight to end gun violence.

???This July, I went to see a midnight movie with a couple of friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our fun night out turned into a nightmare.

At first, I thought it was a prank — just some kids setting off fireworks. But when I realized what was happening, I immediately thought about other mass shootings: Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson.

Could what happened there actually be happening to us? The terrifying answer was yes, and Aurora is now part of that list.

My friends and I were lucky. We were among the 58 people who survived their injuries. But twelve others weren’t so lucky.

In the weeks that followed, we heard a lot of promises from politicians. Unfortunately, those promises didn’t go anywhere. And now, not even six months later, the list of mass shootings has grown again:Newtown.

Is there anything more horrible than the mass murder of innocent children? Do we need a clearer reason to finally take action?

The time is NOW! Join me in supporting the fight to end gun violence with a donation of $35 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Demand A Plan campaign.

My survival, and the survival of my friends, was arbitrary. It all came down to where we chose our seats, where the shooter aimed his gun, where the bullets entered our bodies.

We can’t let fate be the difference between life and death in our country.

We need a real plan to end gun violence — a plan to stop mass shootings and protect the 33 people murdered every day with guns. We need to stop dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Will you step up and support our fight?

http://DemandAPlan.org/now

Thank you,

Stephen Barton
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

P.S. — I grew up just ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart goes out to the families of Newtown, and I’m committed to making sure our leaders hear their voices and take action. Your support today can make the difference.


That line of defense from gun proponents comes up again and again in the wake of mass shootings, like last week’s at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and seven adults dead. It’s true, in a sense: when holding objects that are specifically designed to be the most effective killing machines possible, people do, in fact, kill people.
And yes, people have gone on murderous rampages for all of human history, and have used whatever tools were at their disposal – rocks, knives, swords, their own hands – to inflict violence. The problem comes in when the tools at their disposal are really good at killing others without much work on the part of the killer, which is why lots of folks would like to see the United States institute some reasonable laws regulating gun ownership.
Time and again, though, the pro-gun right’s answer is the same: people will find a way to kill, and violence is inevitable, so taking away guns won’t work. Their solution seems to be a society where every citizen has a gun in one hand and crossed fingers on the other.

That perspective represents not just an intense cultural tie to guns, but a typically conservative view of humanity: people (other than me) are fundamentally bad and our time on Earth is in preparation for the afterlife, so why worry about making it better?

As we’ve seen in the debates on issues from climate change to gender equality to foreign policy, facts, statistics and rational arguments don’t really matter if the goal of offering them up is to improve things in the here and now. It’s a deeply pessimistic view of humanity that projects a strong sense of fatalism.
The point of being “good” isn’t because goodness is valuable unto itself or because goodness is widely beneficial. The point of being good is to earn heaven points. Goodness, then, is defined according to a very particular set of religious and cultural values, and is highly “in-group” focused. Goodness means going to church, marrying early, submitting to a husband-in-charge family structure, having children out of obligationand upholding the social pillars that organize society to keep a particular group on top.
Goodness isn’t necessarily helping other people or taking steps that are proven effective at decreasing violence or working to create a more accepting and happy world for our children. Goodness is upholding the power structures that have traditionally benefited the small group of men who think they have a monopoly on defining “goodness.”
Without strong social incentives and harsh social punishments for deviation from these structures, they collapse – and they collapse because they simply don’t serve large swaths of the American population (women who want equal rights, people of color, immigrants, poor people, non-Christians, gay people). There isn’t much of a reason for why these particular structures are the best, other than that the few people who benefit from them seem to like them. But the fundamental argument in their favor seems to be that without a social organization that puts white Christian men on top, the hordes of “bad” people will simply be out there – and there is nothing we can do other than arm ourselves against them.
That’s why “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is still considered an actual argument. It’s why the debates on gun control go in circles. One side thinks we have serious but fixable cultural problems with violence, with a masculinity that is tied to aggression and with the glorification of gun culture, and that the wide availability of all sorts of deadly weaponry in such a culture enables an unconscionable amount of lethal violence. The other side thinks people are just sinners, our time on this planet is meant to be trying and ugly, guns represent freedom and man’s dominion over the Earth, and gun deaths simply result from a lack of Christianity and the attendant breaks from a “traditional” model that necessitated the oppression of a great many Americans.
As Dennis Prager argued in the National Review, no one fears being massacred by a “decent” person. We fear being massacred by someone bad.
It is certainly true that “good” people don’t walk into a classroom and shoot a group of six year-olds. It’s also true that good people don’t murder their wives and girlfriends – yet five times more women are killed by intimate partners every year than by strangers, and 95% of the women who are killed with a firearm are murdered by a man. If there’s a gun involved, an incident of domestic violence is 12 times more likely to result in death. And while mass shootings understandably capture our national attention, the more than 30,000 American gun deaths every year (and their $37bn price tag) should spur us to action.
It’s easy to read those figures and conclude that conservatives are right: we are a world of awful, violent people who are going to keep on being awful and violent no matter what, so gun control serves no purpose and we’ll all be better off in Heaven anyway. But as is true with almost anything that makes life on Earth brutish and miserable, we have the power to change that. Gun deaths are lower in the states with the strictest gun control laws. And the majority of US gun deaths actually comprises suicides – acts committed not generally by evil, murderous people, but by individuals who are sick and hurting and need help.
Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What’s clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
The solutions, then, must be multifold: poverty alleviation; better mental health care with a focus on suicide prevention and depression treatment, not the stigmatization of the mentally ill, who are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and yes, gun control to make it more difficult for a firearm to be such an easily-accessed weapon.
To most people who believe in evidence-based policy and sociological realities, those solutions make sense. But to people who have no interest in actually finding solutions or making the world a better, safer, happier place, it’s like talking to a brick wall. Why improve life on earth if life on earth is temporary and all that matters is to secure a seat in the clouds?
That’s why you hear people like Mike Huckabee saying that mass shootings are somehow related to prayer in school and contraception, or Charlotte Allen arguing that the decline of traditional gender roles led to these shootings and that husky 12-year-old boys should throw their bodies at armed men.
Huckabee doesn’t actually think that saying prayers prevents gun violence or that contraception makes killers go on shooting sprees, any more than Allen believes that 12-year-old boys are made of Kevlar. They think that the world is divided into sinners and repentant sinners, and the only way to be a “decent” person is to fall in line behind their very narrow, often very harmful, beliefs.
Gun deaths, of course, are significantly more common in the most religious states of the nation. And gun deaths are very low in the relatively non-religiously-observant states of northern Europe. In the UK, the homicide by firearm rate is approximately one in a million. Ditto in France. That must be nice. More people are killed by guns in the US every day than in an entire year in Japan – by a factor of about 12.
Every nation in the world has people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. And yet, the kinds of regular mass rampages that have now happened several times this year alone in the United States seem to be a specifically American phenomenon.
As the Sandy Hook shootings unfolded, I watched many of the journalists I follow on Twitter post links to the articles about gun violence that they had written after the previous mass shooting, or the one before that. I watched friends on Facebook like and link to the inevitable memorial pages, this time around noting the too-short lives of 20 smiling kids who were practically infants, ensuring readers and supporters that these little angels are now safely in Heaven.
That’s an impulse I understand, but it’s not a solution.
Only in America do political writers all seem have a stable of articles about mass shootings that they can bring out and repost or revise when the next one occurs.
Only in America do we collectively shrug our shoulders when yet another young white man goes on a shooting spree.
Only in America do we remain convinced that people will kill no matter what, so we may as well give people virtually unlimited access to some of the deadliest hand-held weapons ever invented.
Only here, in America, do we think that the best we can do is a Facebook page and a plea to God.


More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported.

They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut.

The petition followed an interview with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, on CNN – in which Mr Morgan called his guest “a dangerous man”.

Petitions posted on the White House website only require 25,000 signatures to get a response from the government.

The campaign was started by a journalist in Texas following Mr Morgan’s CNN programme of 19 December.

The petition says the talk show host “is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment”, which protects an individual’s right to own guns.

“We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.”

Mr Morgan has responded, repeatedly, on his Twitter account.

“If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?” the 47-year-old joked after the 25,000-signature threshold was passed.

He added: “Wanting America to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines isn’t anti-constitutional – it’s called ‘common sense.'”

Later he said, in a reference to the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech: “Ironic US gun rights campaign to deport me for ‘attacking Second Amendment rights’ – is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?”

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has vowed to push for immediate and concrete gun safety proposals.

But the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA), which has more than four million members, has rejected the need for tighter gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey, there were 88.8 firearms for every 100 Americans in 2007.

‘Stupid man’
Mr Morgan’s interview, on his nightly chat show, came five days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Mr Pratt said tighter controls on gun sales would not put an end to similar tragedies.

“The problem occurs in those areas precisely where we have said ‘no guns’,” he said.

Mr Morgan hosts a nightly chat show on news network CNN
“Where the guns are allowed freely to be carried… we have very low murder rates.

“We only have problems in our cities and, unhappily, in our schools, where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves.”

Mr Morgan responded: “You’re a very stupid man, aren’t you?

“You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don’t actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America.”

He ended the combative interview by calling Mr Pratt “a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense” and declared, “you shame your country”.


The tone deaf and horrifyingly self-serving speech given by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Friday cast a pall over our holiday season. It took the NRA a full week to prepare THIS?

1. Blamed video games for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence video games implicated.

2. Blamed movies for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence movies implicated.

3. Urged creation of 100,000-strong new Federal bureaucracy of armed school guards, which implies big tax increase. Thanks, Wayne! (And did not mention that Columbine had an armed guard or that Virginia Tech has its own police department.)

4. Condemned “gun-free schools” policy as insane.

5. Scaremongered about rise in violent crime. Murder rate in US cut in half since 1990, but did not mention that firearms murder rate remains highest among advanced countries.

6. Condemns confusion of semi-automatic guns with “machine guns.” Does not mention how many bullets a minute a semi-automatic gun with expanded clip can shoot.

7. Seems to call for armed adult volunteers to show up at our elementary schools to engage in vigilante ‘guarding’ of them. Are these likely the people we want in our schools?

8. Wants cordons around schools instead of gun control.

9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms.

10. Does not mention that semi-automatic rifles were designed for military use and are not necessary for hunting, or that they are banned for civilians among all our NATO allies.


Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Today’s NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA’s extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn’t say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense.
Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.
You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.
What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.
What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.
Tell your members of Congress that it’s time to stand up to the NRA:
Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,
Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
P.S. — A group of 53 artists joined our effort to Demand A Plan and recorded a powerful, personal message. Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends and family:http://DemandAPlan.org.


(Reuters) – Gun makers are facing pressure from some major U.S. investors after the Newtown elementary school shooting, with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announcing it would sell the largest U.S. manufacturer of firearms and major public pension funds reviewing their gun-related investments.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would sell Freedom Group, whose AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle was used by a 20-year-old gunman to kill 20 children and six staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cerberus’ move came after some of its investors had expressed concerns, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which said on Monday that it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm.

“It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,” said Cerberus, which has more than $20 billion under management.

The $150.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is reviewing its investments in firearm manufacturers, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday.

New York City’s pension funds are also reviewing investments and may sell nearly $18 million worth of stock in four companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a leading advocate for gun control in the U.S.

The city’s $128 billion pension funds hold nearly $14 million worth of shares in ammunition maker Olin Corp, $1.7 million in gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp, $2.4 million in gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co Inc and $17,866 worth of stock in Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA.

Shares of Smith & Wesson fell nearly 10 percent, shares of Sturm Roger fell 7.7 percent, shares of Forjas Taurus fell 3.8 percent and shares of Olin fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

It wasn’t just public pension funds who were questioning whether they should have investments in gun companies.

King Lip, chief investment officer for San Francisco-based wealth adviser Baker Avenue Asset Management, said has received calls from clients wanting to make sure that the firm did not own or buy shares in gun-makers or gun-related companies.

“This one has especially hit close to home for a lot of people. A lot of our clients have kids or grandkids,” said Lip, whose firm has about $800 million in client assets under management. The firm does not own any gun-related stocks.

As outrage grew over the killings in Newtown, some gun retailers pulled rifles off their shelves. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Dick’s Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide. Cabela’s however, continued to advertise the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles on its website.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday asked CalSTRS and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to account for their investments in gun manufacturers. Lockyer proposed that the state’s public pension funds, the largest in the United States, sell their interest in any company that makes guns that are illegal under California’s assault weapons ban. California’s ban includes the Bushmaster rifle.

“We are not precluding the possibility of extending a divestment move to the retail sector, but right now we are focused on the source, which is the manufacturers,” Lockyer’s spokesman Tom Dresslar said.

KNEE-JERK REACTION?

U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown killings have led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

While the latest moves by investors could herald a new chapter in corporate America’s stance toward the issue of gun rights, it remains to be seen if they will have lasting effects.

Several investors held firm about investing in gun-related stocks, seeing the debate more as a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. Vanguard Group Inc, the largest shareholder in Smith & Wesson, for example, said it was not in a position to meet what it called the “social concerns” of all shareholders.

Vanguard said in a statement it was “deeply saddened by the tragedy” but that most of its shares in Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger were held in index funds.

“All these stocks are getting hit, but ironically I think what we’ll find is that traditional gun purchases will actually rise,” said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

“People are scared, and there’s a good slice of America that very much believes they have a right to protect themselves,” said Ghriskey, whose firm has a small position in gun retailer Cabela’s. Cabela’s shares fell 5.9 percent.

A German fund manager, who focuses on “sin” stocks such as firearms, alcohol and gambling, said he was sticking with his recommendation to buy Smith & Wesson stock despite Newtown.

It’s a terrible tragedy, he said, “but everyone who changes his investment strategy now should ask himself if he really is surprised. Didn’t they read newspapers in the past?”

CERBERUS DELIBERATION

Still, investor outrage over the shooting was enough for Cerberus to decide to sell Freedom Group.

The firm’s decision came late on Monday night, after executives deliberated on the impact of the shooting, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The private equity firm, which was founded by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter in 1992, also has to be careful not to anger investors at a time it is seeking to raise up to $3.5 billion for a new buyout fund.

Feinberg’s father, Martin Feinberg, is also a resident of Newtown, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with him. Public records show a Martin Feinberg residing in a retirement facility in Newtown.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Cerberus filed for an initial public offering of Freedom Group in October 2009 but withdrew the registration in April 2011, without offering a reason.

“It’s an unusual move by Cerberus but it was a terrible event, so they are responding to some of their investors who are teachers’ funds. I’m sure they will be selling it at a low price because now would not be a good time to sell the business,” said Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago finance professor.

(Additional reporting by Martine Geller, Hilary Russ and Ashley Lau in New York, Lisa Baertlein and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles and Dan Burns in Newtown, Connecticut; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Tiffany Wu and Michael Perry)


Dec 18 (Reuters) – The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday it is “prepared to offer meaningful contributions” to prevent future massacres like the Connecticut shooting on Friday, marking a sharp change in tone for the nation’s largest gun rights group.

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the organization said in a statement sent to reporters.

The NRA plans a news conference on Friday after staying silent out of respect for families in Newtown, Connecticut, and as a matter of common decency, the statement said.


It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.


A US private equity firm has said it is to sell its stake in the maker of the AR15-style rifle used in the Newtown school shootings.

Cerberus Capital Management’s move came after pressure from one of its own biggest investors, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs).

Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006, and more gunmakers since, merging them into Freedom Group, which it will now sell.

The firm said it wanted to avoid being drawn into the gun control controversy.

The announcement by Cerberus comes four days after 20 young children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr Lanza then killed himself.

He had earlier killed his mother at her home before travelling to the school.

The murders have renewed the debate over the need for gun control in the US, with President Barack Obama promising “meaningful action”, and adding that “as a country, we have been through this too many times”.

The National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights organisation in the US, has not commented since the mass shooting.

Politicians previously against more gun control have also generally been quiet, while one, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said the Newtown attack had made him rethink his opposition to a ban on assault weapons.

However, gun control is difficult to tighten in the US, because the second amendment of the country’s constitution guarantees the “right to keep and bear arms”.

‘Senseless violence’
“We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so,” Cerberus said in a statement.

“We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition,” the firm added, noting that Freedom Group only sold weapons to federally licensed dealers and distributors, and not directly to US citizens.

Freedom Group claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial firearms, selling over two billion rounds of ammunition each year.

As well as Bushmaster, the maker of the AR15-style rifle, Freedom Group also owns Remington, the oldest US gunmaker established in 1816, and seven other gun arms manufacturers, as well as majority stakes in two clothing companies specialising in hunting and paramilitary apparel.

The group made profits before tax of $2.7m in the 12 months to September 2012, on $875m of sales.

Calstrs, which is the second largest pension fund in the US, had said on Monday that it was reviewing its own $750m (£460m) investment in Cerberus in light of the deaths of 20 school children and seven adults including teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Cerberus, which is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with over $20bn of assets under management, said that the shootings represented “a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level”.

Proceeds from the sale of Freedom Group would be returned to Cerberus’ investors, and not reinvested by the firm.

Glad he had a gun

Glad he had a gun or the would-be robber (who also had a gun) would have been able to have his way with anything and anyone in the store. Instead, the robber ran away as soon as the other man … Continue reading

Glad he had a gun or the would-be robber (who also had a gun) would have been able to have his way with anything and anyone in the store. Instead, the robber ran away as soon as the other man presented his gun. How differently this would have gone if we didn’t have the Second Amendment!

The clerk is a competent fighter that used proportional limited force to fend off an armed assault. But it would have been simpler if no guns were available. The use of guns requires a lot if infrastructure, at the very least a supply of munition. Yes, guns can be restricted but it is not done because supplying guns and munition to the general public is good business, one of the few left in the States. Guns are not restricted because there is a lot of money supporting the availability of guns. Guns are very big business and the gun lobby is very influential.

The USA is a singularity. There are different degrees of gun control already in place all over the world. Nothing to invent. But in the United States gun advocacy is a religious issue, the Second Amendment a gift from God. Religious believes cannot be argued away. For people that believe in gun ownership any incident reinforces their belief. If there is a massacre, that means that everybody must have a gun. If someone gets killed in an armed assault, that means that everybody must have a gun. If an armed vigilante kills a couple of burglars because they got into the neighbors house, that means that everybody must have a gun.

Let me just said that the problem is not one of control, but the availability itself of guns. It’s not an issue of background checks or the like. The United States has a very violent history. The USA has been built on violence and one of the principles of the American ethos is the worship of the individual. The obvious lesson is that might makes right and the everyone by himself sohould be able, and has the duty, to fight off to protect possessions, family, and life. However, everything is connected and at the end the path of violence will leads us all to self destruction.

I hope, wish, that it is possible to live in peace. How? Getting away from the abstraction of money and giving value to human beings, as the brothers and sisters that we are. How? I Do not really know. Is it our best answer to violence to claim our right to be violent ? Woudn’t be better to eliminate the need, conditions, or the incentive to be violent?

We humans are violent beasts. It is our nature. If you press me on the mechanics of peace I do not know what specific things need to be done to eradicate violence in our society. Maybe there is no way out other than be exterminated by ourselves. We definitely going in that direction. One thing I know is that the problems of our time cannot be solved by individual action. It has to be a communal effort. Also, if we believe in peace, we must walk the way of peace. Not only avoid the use of weapons, but be active in resisting the use of violence by our government.

I am not strong or brave. If my family is in danger, or my house compromised I will feel anger. I know myself quite capable to be violent with the weak and meek with the powerful, but I can make the reference of Gandhi: He said that the way of peace is a manly way, and one must be willing to be cut down by machine fire, but that if one does not have the will to go the peaceful way we must still fight for our convictions.

Today there is enough wealth in the world to eradicate war and hunger. NO need for countries to fight for resources, NO need to have a gun in the house to fend off people. Yet we live in a system that no only tolerates hunger and poverty but that actually generates and needs poverty to function, that treats humans as materiel and constantly is pressing for more work for less pay. In a system that not only gets caught in wars but that fabricates wars for profit of the few.

Is not a problem of better gun control. Th system must be changed in a fundamental way. And it is not a question of socialism in the pejorative sense that most American understand it to be. No, it is a question to put human life and dignity above monetary profit.

The answer is in serving God and others, not ourselves. A stronger sense of community is necessary. The harder part is to transcend our sense of us and them. There is no them, we are all us. To have everybody really understand this is the challenge.

THE SECOND AMENDMENT

SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE SECOND AMENDMENT? Posted by Jeffrey Toobin Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html#ixzz2FTHQ31LB Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws? The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, … Continue reading

SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE SECOND AMENDMENT?

Posted by 

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html#ixzz2FTHQ31LB

Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws? The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, is rooted in politics as much as law.

For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon.

Enter the modern National Rifle Association. Before the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. had been devoted mostly to non-political issues, like gun safety. But a coup d’état at the group’s annual convention in 1977 brought a group of committed political conservatives to power—as part of the leading edge of the new, more rightward-leaning Republican Party. (Jill Lepore recounted this history in a recent piece for The New Yorker.) The new group pushed for a novel interpretation of the Second Amendment, one that gave individuals, not just militias, the right to bear arms. It was an uphill struggle. At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as “a fraud.”

But the N.R.A. kept pushing—and there’s a lesson here. Conservatives often embrace “originalism,” the idea that the meaning of the Constitution was fixed when it was ratified, in 1787. They mock the so-called liberal idea of a “living” constitution, whose meaning changes with the values of the country at large. But there is no better example of the living Constitution than the conservative re-casting of the Second Amendment in the last few decades of the twentieth century. (Reva Siegel, of Yale Law School, elaborates on this point in a brilliant article.)

The re-interpretation of the Second Amendment was an elaborate and brilliantly executed political operation, inside and outside of government. Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 brought a gun-rights enthusiast to the White House. At the same time, Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican, became chairman of an important subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he commissioned a report that claimed to find “clear—and long lost—proof that the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.” The N.R.A. began commissioning academic studies aimed at proving the same conclusion. An outré constitutional theory, rejected even by the establishment of the Republican Party, evolved, through brute political force, into the conservative conventional wisdom.

And so, eventually, this theory became the law of the land. In District of Columbia v. Heller, decided in 2008, the Supreme Court embraced the individual-rights view of the Second Amendment. It was a triumph above all for Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the opinion, but it required him to craft a thoroughly political compromise. In the eighteenth century, militias were proto-military operations, and their members had to obtain the best military hardware of the day. But Scalia could not create, in the twenty-first century, an individual right to contemporary military weapons—like tanks and Stinger missiles. In light of this, Scalia conjured a rule that said D.C. could not ban handguns because “handguns are the most popular weapon chosen by Americans for self-defense in the home, and a complete prohibition of their use is invalid.”

So the government cannot ban handguns, but it can ban other weapons—like, say, an assault rifle—or so it appears. The full meaning of the court’s Heller opinion is still up for grabs. But it is clear that the scope of the Second Amendment will be determined as much by politics as by the law. The courts will respond to public pressure—as they did by moving to the right on gun control in the last thirty years. And if legislators, responding to their constituents, sense a mandate for new restrictions on guns, the courts will find a way to uphold them. The battle over gun control is not just one of individual votes in Congress, but of a continuing clash of ideas, backed by political power. In other words, the law of the Second Amendment is not settled; no law, not even the Constitution, ever is.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/12/jeffrey-toobin-second-amendment.html#ixzz2FTHFcv5L

Second Amendment to the Constitution

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

(Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.)

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

(Second Amendment to the Constitution.)


Wisconsin, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Newtown. By the time you read this column, there may well be a new locale to add to the list. Such is the state of enabled and murderous mayhem in the United States.

Gun advocates say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The truth, though, is that people with guns kill people, often very efficiently, as we saw so clearly and so often this summer. And while the right to bear arms might be written into the Constitution, we cannot keep pretending that this right is somehow without limit, even as we place reasonable limits on arguably more valuable rights like the freedom of speech and due process.

Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying concealed weapons has been struck down. The mass killings at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday will likely renew a serious national debate about an assault weapons ban and the Second Amendment.

Reports from Newtown, Conn., indicate that multiple shots were fired by a man who was dressed in assault gear, who had three weapons. This is a case of random mental derangement. Arming every teacher in every school is more a risk of than a safety against this.

The shooting comes right after another man opened fire inside an Oregon mall on Tuesday in an incident that left three people dead. The gun used the shooting, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, jammed during the attack, and it was a stolen weapon.

Since April, there have been mass killings in Oakland, Calif. (7 dead), Aurora, Colo. (12 dead), Oak Creek, Wis. (6 dead), Minneapolis (5 dead), Brookfield, Wis. (3 dead), Portland, Ore. (2 dead) and Newtown, Conn. (27 dead).

Talk of renewing the national Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was being debated after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and there will be more discussion about asking Congress to pass a stricter ban, with no time limit.

But the path of the any Assault Weapons ban becoming a reality faces several major obstructions.

First, gun ownership is at the core of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which grants citizens the rights to bear arms.

When the original Federal Assault Weapons ban was passed in 1994, gun rights groups decided not to pursue a challenge through the court system. An August 2012 analysis from Politico shows that given the recent history of assault weapon court cases, there is a strong indication that the NRA would pursue a Second Amendment challenge up to the Supreme Court—if a national law were passed again. And based on a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the fate of a Federal Assault Weapons case in front of the court could be problematic.

The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller found that while citizens had the right to keep guns for self-defense, the court also agreed with an older ruling that “finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

That ruling was restricted to people who lived in federal enclaves.

A subsequent ruling in 2010 that reinforced the right of gun ownership and that it extended to states and towns. But for any challenge to take place to a national gun law, Congress would have to pass a new law first.

Guns are tools, tools of death. Their function is to kill. All animals must kill to survive, and many must kill sentient beings. Among mammals many species kill their own kind. The cuddly hamster will kill its cage mate during its sleep and eat out its brain for breakfast. Apes, not only human, carry out organized attacks into other clans. From this perspective there is nothing special about humans killing each other for whatever circumstance.

However man is supposed to be above instinct and there is a claim of morality and rationality.  Nevertheless, through history the morality of killing has proven to be intractable. Despite the fact that many moral systems purport to ban killing, there are always ifs and buts, and even strict pacifist systems like Janism agree that violence in self-defense can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Some Christians sects, like the Mennonites, teach that because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, killing, even in war, is not a Christian response. Yet Christians kill under socially acceptable conditions even with praise and encouragement  from their Church.  Love toward oneself (myself, my mate, my children, my home, my country, my church, my …) remains a fundamental principle of morality.  It boils down to the right of the strong, Justice.

Nonetheless, The right to kill in self defense or whatever redeeming circumstance might occur is not the issue here. The question is the social convenience of unlimited availability of weapons for all individuals. Even to second amendment zealots is evident that unlimited availability of weapons is not desirable and they pose  something different, fuzzier, harder to define or implement. A qualification in the line of …individuals like I, using catch phrases like law-abiding citizens.

Let’s consider then a different question: Social stability increase or decreases with the availability of firearms? If we look at examples of social unrest, like the riots in L.A., things would have been a lot worst if more weapons were available to the general population. The riots took on tones of interracial conflict, blacks raiding commercial districts of stores owned by Asians. The Asians used small guns and hunting rifles and shotguns to repel the mob. What would happen if the battle hardened drug gangs of the black neighborhoods had taken the challenge and attacked with machine guns? This did not happen because the gangs were afraid of the government not just of the store owners. Therefore, the ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

militiaGun Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.  A violent bomb just waiting to go off.  It sounds like sedition.  In fact, there is a track of domestic right wing terrorism.

sub_16299

The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed.

In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
They see themselves as free, armed men  that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box. It sound like fools playing with fire. The problem is that we all will get burned. Guns for peace is like condoms for virginity. The safety of all of us depends on social stability and the availability of guns undermines the social fabric.
image0077

I will point out that there is a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well being of children, regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence are used as argument for the need of more weapons. This, in itself, is a symptom that the social convenience of unlimited gun availability has weak support. The objection to unlimited availability is not an attack on the right of self defense per se, but rather a claim that this might not be the best strategy to uphold the Social Contract.

outlook

There is a trade off between social stability and the convenience, freedom, and safety of the individual.

secondamendment

The argument of guns for self defense makes an implicit assumption of asymmetrical force.  The scenarios depicted by gun advocates and those actually carried out in practice assume a tactical advantage and often an unarmed attack.  However in a world with unlimited gun availability the major treat is also from armed groups. Furthermore, since they know you are armed and willing to kill the stakes are higher. In terms of Game Theory, this is known as the prisoner’s dilemma. If I am the guy with the gun I am king of the mountain, if my neighbor is the man, I am at his mercy, if we both have guns, we better be in good terms, and we are both at high risk of dying of a shotgun. If neither has guns there is no risk of gun violence but none is in position to control the other. However small the probability of a gun being used in a serious injury or death, -accident, suicide, homicide, massacre-, is bigger than zero and multiplied by 85 million produces thousands of deaths a year.

During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStatbroken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and – controversially – the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying. There is a correlation between poverty and crime. Not that rich people do not like the easy way but they have other more effective choices and they take your money without going into your house. So if street crime is your worry, it is more effective to fight against poverty than spend resources on guns.  Fighting against poverty does not mean charity, but uprooting the causes.

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 25–34 years, and the fourth for persons aged 1–14 years. Similarly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years and the third leading cause for persons aged 10–24 years. Homicide and suicide are leading causes of death because of drugs and weapons are just tools.

Every year just over 30,000 people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Every two years more US citizens are killed by gunshot wounds than were lost in the entire Vietnam war.

With a population of 310 million about 2,573,000 people die in the US each year. Of which 30,000 die of Gun Shot – so if you live in the US you have over a 1 % chance that you will die of Gun Shot wound.

America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force. Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

(Richard Henry Lee, Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights.)

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

(Second Amendment to the Constitution.)


Wisconsin, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Newtown. By the time you read this column, there may well be a new locale to add to the list. Such is the state of enabled and murderous mayhem in the United States.

Gun advocates say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The truth, though, is that people with guns kill people, often very efficiently, as we saw so clearly and so often this summer. And while the right to bear arms might be written into the Constitution, we cannot keep pretending that this right is somehow without limit, even as we place reasonable limits on arguably more valuable rights like the freedom of speech and due process.

Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying concealed weapons has been struck down. The mass killings at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday will likely renew a serious national debate about an assault weapons ban and the Second Amendment.

Reports from Newtown, Conn., indicate that multiple shots were fired by a man who was dressed in assault gear, who had three weapons. This is a case of random mental derangement. Arming every teacher in every school is more a risk of than a safety against this.

The shooting comes right after another man opened fire inside an Oregon mall on Tuesday in an incident that left three people dead. The gun used the shooting, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, jammed during the attack, and it was a stolen weapon.

Since April, there have been mass killings in Oakland, Calif. (7 dead), Aurora, Colo. (12 dead), Oak Creek, Wis. (6 dead), Minneapolis (5 dead), Brookfield, Wis. (3 dead), Portland, Ore. (2 dead) and Newtown, Conn. (27 dead).

Talk of renewing the national Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was being debated after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and there will be more discussion about asking Congress to pass a stricter ban, with no time limit.

But the path of the any Assault Weapons ban becoming a reality faces several major obstructions.

First, gun ownership is at the core of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which grants citizens the rights to bear arms.

When the original Federal Assault Weapons ban was passed in 1994, gun rights groups decided not to pursue a challenge through the court system. An August 2012 analysis from Politico shows that given the recent history of assault weapon court cases, there is a strong indication that the NRA would pursue a Second Amendment challenge up to the Supreme Court—if a national law were passed again. And based on a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the fate of a Federal Assault Weapons case in front of the court could be problematic.

The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller found that while citizens had the right to keep guns for self-defense, the court also agreed with an older ruling that “finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

That ruling was restricted to people who lived in federal enclaves.

A subsequent ruling in 2010 that reinforced the right of gun ownership and that it extended to states and towns. But for any challenge to take place to a national gun law, Congress would have to pass a new law first.

Guns are tools, tools of death. Their function is to kill. All animals must kill to survive, and many must kill sentient beings. Among mammals many species kill their own kind. The cuddly hamster will kill its cage mate during its sleep and eat out its brain for breakfast. Apes, not only human, carry out organized attacks into other clans. From this perspective there is nothing special about humans killing each other for whatever circumstance.

However man is supposed to be above instinct and there is a claim of morality and rationality.  Nevertheless, through history the morality of killing has proven to be intractable. Despite the fact that many moral systems purport to ban killing, there are always ifs and buts, and even strict pacifist systems like Janism agree that violence in self-defense can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Some Christians sects, like the Mennonites, teach that because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, killing, even in war, is not a Christian response. Yet Christians kill under socially acceptable conditions even with praise and encouragement  from their Church.  Love toward oneself (myself, my mate, my children, my home, my country, my church, my …) remains a fundamental principle of morality.  It boils down to the right of the strong, Justice.

Nonetheless, The right to kill in self defense or whatever redeeming circumstance might occur is not the issue here. The question is the social convenience of unlimited availability of weapons for all individuals. Even to second amendment zealots is evident that unlimited availability of weapons is not desirable and they pose  something different, fuzzier, harder to define or implement. A qualification in the line of …individuals like I, using catch phrases like law-abiding citizens.

Let’s consider then a different question: Social stability increase or decreases with the availability of firearms? If we look at examples of social unrest, like the riots in L.A., things would have been a lot worst if more weapons were available to the general population. The riots took on tones of interracial conflict, blacks raiding commercial districts of stores owned by Asians. The Asians used small guns and hunting rifles and shotguns to repel the mob. What would happen if the battle hardened drug gangs of the black neighborhoods had taken the challenge and attacked with machine guns? This did not happen because the gangs were afraid of the government not just of the store owners. Therefore, the ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

militiaGun Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.  A violent bomb just waiting to go off.  It sounds like sedition.  In fact, there is a track of domestic right wing terrorism.

sub_16299

The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed.

In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
They see themselves as free, armed men  that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box. It sound like fools playing with fire. The problem is that we all will get burned. Guns for peace is like condoms for virginity. The safety of all of us depends on social stability and the availability of guns undermines the social fabric.
image0077

I will point out that there is a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well being of children, regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence are used as argument for the need of more weapons. This, in itself, is a symptom that the social convenience of unlimited gun availability has weak support. The objection to unlimited availability is not an attack on the right of self defense per se, but rather a claim that this might not be the best strategy to uphold the Social Contract.

outlook

There is a trade off between social stability and the convenience, freedom, and safety of the individual.

secondamendment

The argument of guns for self defense makes an implicit assumption of asymmetrical force.  The scenarios depicted by gun advocates and those actually carried out in practice assume a tactical advantage and often an unarmed attack.  However in a world with unlimited gun availability the major treat is also from armed groups. Furthermore, since they know you are armed and willing to kill the stakes are higher. In terms of Game Theory, this is known as the prisoner’s dilemma. If I am the guy with the gun I am king of the mountain, if my neighbor is the man, I am at his mercy, if we both have guns, we better be in good terms, and we are both at high risk of dying of a shotgun. If neither has guns there is no risk of gun violence but none is in position to control the other. However small the probability of a gun being used in a serious injury or death, -accident, suicide, homicide, massacre-, is bigger than zero and multiplied by 85 million produces thousands of deaths a year.

During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStatbroken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and – controversially – the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying. There is a correlation between poverty and crime. Not that rich people do not like the easy way but they have other more effective choices and they take your money without going into your house. So if street crime is your worry, it is more effective to fight against poverty than spend resources on guns.  Fighting against poverty does not mean charity, but uprooting the causes.

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 25–34 years, and the fourth for persons aged 1–14 years. Similarly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years and the third leading cause for persons aged 10–24 years. Homicide and suicide are leading causes of death because of drugs and weapons are just tools.

Every year just over 30,000 people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Every two years more US citizens are killed by gunshot wounds than were lost in the entire Vietnam war.

With a population of 310 million about 2,573,000 people die in the US each year. Of which 30,000 die of Gun Shot – so if you live in the US you have over a 1 % chance that you will die of Gun Shot wound.

America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgo guns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force. Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.

A conversation about gun control

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants: Thomas Jefferson. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep … Continue reading

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:

Thomas Jefferson.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

(Second Amendment to the Constitution.)


FACTS TO PONDER :

  • The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.
  • Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are 120,000.
  • (Calculation) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.

Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services


Now think about this:

Guns:

  • The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000. (Yes, that’s 80 million..)
  • The number of accidental gun death per year, all age groups, is 1,500.
  • (Calculation) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .000188.

Statistics courtesy of FBI


So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.


Remember, ‘Guns don’t kill people, doctors do.’


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST ONE DOCTOR.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.

We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Out of concern for the public at large, I withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.

The email above is a joke, yet some take it seriously.  Regarding gun owners, according to the National Rifle Association (NRA) 2010 Fact Sheet, they tallied in the U.S. between 70 and 80 million. The NRA fact sheet also said that there are close to 300 million privately owned firearms in the United States with hand guns counting for nearly 100 million and that somewhere between 40-45% of American households have firearms. According to the National Rifle Association there were 776 accidental deaths from firearms in 2000, a lower figure than in the email.

Comparing doctor deaths to accidental firearm deaths is meaningless, especially because doctors are dealing with people who are sick in the first place, some of who are at high risk for death or have gone through high risk medical procedures, while victims of gun accidents   are in general in good health. Statistic can be used to misled and confuse the issues. What is misleading is not the numbers are not accurate, but that they are about unrelated things. The purpose of weapons is to kill, accidental deaths by firearms are just a fraction, a small one, of the deaths caused by firearms, and the purpose of medical treatment is to save lives.

From the posting of the following picture in Facebook

546780_446950928687098_659765533_n
A discussion ensued where the following arguments were made in favor of the right to bear arms:

  • Guns are only tools. They cannot do anything of themselves and are not inherently evil. Yes, guns can be used for evil acts, such as homicide and things of that nature, but they can be used for good as well. Just as doctors can do good with their knowledge, they too can be used for evil and to kill (i.e. abortion and assisted suicide) which are legal. Where is the outrage about these things? True, many doctors do wonderful things, but many do not and we as a society recognize the need for those who do good things. We also need to recognize that guns are good for law abiding citizens to have.
  • Do you have any children? I would feel awful if I had to take anthers life, but if it came down to someone hurting/raping/killing my wife or children then I could not live with myself knowing that I could have prevented/stopped it.
  • Guns inhibit crime. Why criminals are criminals; because it is easier to rob and take than it is to work and earn. If a criminal wants to take the path of least resistance and he/she knows that one house has a firearm and knows how to use it and another house does not, which one would you think the criminal is going to choose to enter and do whatever he/she wants to the residence of that house? Clearly the one where he/she is not worried about loosing his/her own life. Of the 85 million or so guns within the US, the vast majority of those will never be used to actually fire at another human and take their life, but the fact that they exist and can be used when needed has an effect on those who would rob and plunder. Now if the whole population were to be disarmed what do you suppose would happen to the violent crime rate? Do you think it would go down? If criminals still exist and they can more easily take advantage of others why would a logical human being think that violent crime would go away? Criminals, by definition, have no regard for laws! Including gun laws! So the only people that would have guns would be those who would use them for evil purposes and those of us who would like to prevent those purposes from happening to our families would be left disarmed and helpless. Why do you think that violent crime is so high is the places with the most strict gun laws such as Chicago, NY, etc.? So, despite the fact that the 2nd Amendment gives all law abiding citizens the right to bare arms, simple logic shows that the best way to decrease violent crime is to allow law abiding citizens to own firearms.
  • I have agreed doctors and guns are not quite the same issues, but I also explained that the point was to get people to think too.
  •  It seems that you say two different things about guns and your opinion changes based on whether or not it is your family.
  • Murder is immoral. No doubt about it. Now as for the notion that defending one’s family by force, it is still quite Christian to defend one’s family. There are many many examples to be given, but that would take a very long time so I would refer to three sources: 1)the Bible, 2) the Book of Mormon, and 3) teachings of the modern Prophets. In addition  I was not changing the subject by bringing the fact that doctors kill and murder. The real change in subject came with all the comments about murder and violent crime. The inforgraphic specifically states ACCIDENTAL in both cases, not intentional.
  • If citizens are allowed to have guns for sport, what is to prevent a CRIMINAL from misusing the gun for violent purposes? If someone breaks into your home with a deadly weapon (perhaps not a gun) and rapes your children/wife and you have a gun because you are sport shooter, should it be illegal for you to use that gun in defense of your family? Why or why not?
  •  Crazies will always find a way to hurt people with or without guns. The world is declining rapidly! Note that these two tragic events ( 28 Dead, Including 20 Children, After Shooting Rampage At Sandy Hook School In Newtown and Knife-wielding man injures 22 children in China) occur when/where people are defenseless.
  • Criminals do not care about the law. A criminal will still get a gun despite the fact that owning a gun is illegal. The only people it will effect are those who actually follow the law.
  • Fighting sin and selfishness with the Gospel of Jesus Christ would fix the poverty and violent crime rates everywhere.
  • I am anxious about the social environment around me because society’s moral compass is way off. We, as a society, have forgotten our Maker and the true path to peace and happiness. Society is caught up in how much stuff someone else has and is very selfish. This is the complete and opposite path to peace and harmony in the world.
  • The commandments of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are the only things that can/will redeem the world.
  • On the note of disarming everyone, it is strictly against the 2nd Amendment. The whole reason we had a Revolutionary war and the 2nd Amendment is because our Founding Fathers experience oppression from the government. They had the foresight to realize that any government (even the one they were setting-up in America) could oppress its citizens and that the citizens have the right to rise-up. From the Declaration of Independence: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpation  pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” How can we even have the option to “throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for [our] future security” if we as law abiding citizens do not have the right to bear arms? It is a founding premise upon which this nation was built.
  • What about knives?  If we take guns away from people, then why not knives? And if we take knives away, why not screw drivers and box cutters because they can be used to stab people as well?
  • The 2nd Amendment is not outdated, as some would believe.
  • Our Founding Father’s were inspired by God, who knows all, to include the right to bear arms in the Constitution because liberty and freedom are fundamental principles that are essential to happiness. Now once we have this liberty and freedom, we have the choice on how to act; we can choose to keep the commandments and be happy, or we can choose to break them and not be happy. Certainly there are those who choose to break them and that can have direct consequences on us, but we nevertheless still have a choose on how to react. If the Government controls everything we do, and we do not have the ability to gain back our individual liberty and freedom, then we can no longer exercise our personal choice and accountability.
  • Society cares more about selfish pleasures than it does about God and life. The problem of mass violence in the U.S. is more a reflection of contempt for the sanctity of human life than of a love for gun ownership. In a society that reveres human life, gun ownership isn’t a chronic problem. People who genuinely believe in the sanctity of human life won’t take another life – by gun or any other means – unless it is absolutely necessary. Not so in a society that views human life as subjective and revocable. In a society that condones, funds, and promotes abortion and excuses euthanasia, human life is cheap. When a woman has a right to kill an unwanted child growing inside her simply because it suits her to do so, life is robbed of its value.
  • Better bloodshed than slavery!
  • 74% of NRA members support background checks, that might be a simple first step…. Or maybe not allowing those on the terrorist watch list to buy guns.
  • Guns don’t kill people. Idiotic people use guns to kill people. Guns like drugs will always be around even with strict gun control laws. The black market will make more money.

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This discussion was already ongoing when the news about Newtown came. From the flow of the discussion it seemed to me that the issue of gun ownership and the second amendment is not a rational one or even about fear. Gun ownership is a marking of membership in the group of God’s chosen people.

Perhaps last weekend’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., will serve to partly reverse the partisan split in attitudes toward guns; early polls on Newtown find relatively modest differences between Democrats and Republicans on what they see as the causes of the shooting. But after moments of healing, the partisan divide in attitudes toward guns has seemed only to accelerate after similar past events, as in Columbine, Colorado. It might seem strange that ownership of a single household object is so strongly tied to voting behavior and broader political attitudes in America. But America is an outlier relative to other industrialized nations in its gun ownership rates. Whatever makes this country so different from the rest of the world must surely be reflected in the differences in how Democrats and Republicans see the nation.

For many Republicans, the root of knowledge is a bedrock certainty about the Bible. This provides them with clear, absolute answers, and that much of what we see on earth is a struggle between good and evil.

When the 2012 Republican Party platform stated that we should “reaffirm that our rights come from God,” that reflected a sincere and genuine sense of bright-line natural law.

That kind of certainty in faith, which so often draws good/evil lines on theological issues, very naturally supports a similar outlook on political issues that aren’t directly rooted in the Bible. American conservatives tend both to see their opponents as evil and to catastrophize potential political losses. If the world is locked in a battle between good and evil, and our side is good, that leaves only one possibility for our opponents.

The American obsession with guns and violence is not unique, but it is distinctive. The US ranks 12th in the world for rate of firearm-related deaths. El Salvador, Colombia, Swaziland, Brazil, South Africa, the Philippines and some others are worse. But that is the company the US is in– not, say, relatively peaceful places like Japan, Singapore and the Netherlands.

It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.

Wisconsin, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Newtown. There may well be a new locale to add to the list. Such is the state of enabled and murderous mayhem in the United States.

Can anything be done about the phenomenon of “mass shootings?”
These killings have plagued the US for decades.

Gun advocates might argue that these mass shootings are relatively rare and exact a relatively low death toll in a country of 310 million people. In 2012, there were 16 mass shootings in the US, which killed 88 persons and wounded hundreds. We polish off 14,500 Americans a year with murders (around 9000 of them via firearms), and 30,000 a year in auto accidents. There are also something like 18,000 suicides a year by firearm in the US, about half of the total; perhaps large numbers of those people would still be alive if it hadn’t been so technically easy to take their on lives. Anyway, mass shootings as a subset of lives taken by firearms are a tiny proportion.

The problem is getting worse. 10% of all mass shootings since 1982 have occurred in 2012, and 12 percent of the 543 victims since that date have been killed this year.

In addition, however, some 2,000 of the 9,000 firearms murders a yearare committed by drug gangs and other criminal gangs, and these are primarily using semi-automatic weapons to commit these murders.

So there is a problem, of increased numbers of mass shootings and increased numbers of victims over time. And there is a problem with the roughly 1 million gang members having military-style weapons and committing 14% of the murders every year in the US.

Gun advocates say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The truth, though, is that people with guns kill people, often very efficiently, as we saw so clearly and so often this summer. And while it is debatable that the right to bear arms is written into the Constitution, we cannot keep pretending that this right is somehow without limit, even as we place reasonable limits on arguably more valuable rights like the freedom of speech and due process.

Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws?

The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, is rooted in politics as much as law.

For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon.

Illinois’ last-in-the-nation prohibition on carrying concealed weapons has been struck down. However, the mass killings at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday will likely renew a serious national debate about an assault weapons ban and the Second Amendment. The shooting comes right after another man opened fire inside an Oregon mall on Tuesday in an incident that left three people dead. The gun used the shooting, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, jammed during the attack, and it was a stolen weapon.

Since April, there have been mass killings in Oakland, Calif. (7 dead), Aurora, Colo. (12 dead), Oak Creek, Wis. (6 dead), Minneapolis (5 dead), Brookfield, Wis. (3 dead), Portland, Ore. (2 dead) and Newtown, Conn. (27 dead).

Talk of renewing the national Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired in 2004, was being debated after the Clackamas Town Center shooting, and there will be more discussion about asking Congress to pass a stricter ban, with no time limit.

But the path of the any Assault Weapons ban becoming a reality faces several major obstructions.

First, gun ownership is at the core of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which grants citizens the rights to bear arms.

When the original Federal Assault Weapons ban was passed in 1994, gun rights groups decided not to pursue a challenge through the court system. An August 2012 analysis from Politico shows that given the recent history of assault weapon court cases, there is a strong indication that the NRA would pursue a Second Amendment challenge up to the Supreme Court—if a national law were passed again. And based on a 2008 Supreme Court decision, the fate of a Federal Assault Weapons case in front of the court could be problematic.

The decision in District of Columbia v. Heller found that while citizens had the right to keep guns for self-defense, the court also agreed with an older ruling that “finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”

A subsequent ruling in 2010 that reinforced the right of gun ownership and that it extended to states and towns. But for any challenge to take place to a national gun law, Congress would have to pass a new law first.

Guns are tools, tools of death. Their function is to kill. All animals must kill to survive, and many must kill sentient beings. Among mammals many species kill their own kind. The cuddly hamster will kill its cage mate during its sleep and eat out its brain for breakfast. Apes, not only human, carry out organized attacks into other clans. From this perspective there is nothing special about humans killing each other for whatever circumstance.

However man is supposed to be above instinct and there is a claim of morality and rationality.  Nevertheless, through history the morality of killing has proven to be intractable. Despite the fact that many moral systems purport to ban killing, there are always ifs and buts, and even strict pacifist systems like Janism agree that violence in self-defense can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Some Christians sects, like the Mennonites, teach that because Jesus taught his followers to love everyone, killing, even in war, is not a Christian response. Yet Christians kill under socially acceptable conditions even with praise and encouragement  from their Church.  Christianity has a rhetoric of love and peace but a history fierce and bloody. Love toward oneself (myself, my mate, my children, my home, my country, my church, my …) remains a fundamental principle of morality.  It boils down to the right of the strong, Justice.

Nonetheless, The right to kill in self defense or whatever redeeming circumstance might occur is not the issue here. The question is the social convenience of unlimited availability of weapons for all individuals. Even to second amendment zealots is evident that unlimited availability of weapons is not desirable and they pose  something different, fuzzier, harder to define or implement. A qualification in the line of …individuals like I, using catch phrases like law-abiding citizens.

Let’s consider then a different question: Social stability increase or decreases with the availability of firearms? If we look at examples of social unrest, like the riots in L.A., things would have been a lot worst if more weapons were available to the general population. The riots took on tones of interracial conflict, blacks raiding commercial districts of stores owned by Asians. The Asians used small guns and hunting rifles and shotguns to repel the mob. What would happen if the battle hardened drug gangs of the black neighborhoods had taken the challenge and attacked with machine guns? This did not happen because the gangs were afraid of the government not just of the store owners. Therefore, the ability of Government to keep the upper hand in the application of force is an important factor in social stability. The primary function of Government is to guarantee the Social Contract. The freedom to engage in seditious activities and Social peace do not mix.

militiaGun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.  From ex-president Clinton on down, there have been comments to the effect that the political right is urging any crazies who might be willing to act out, to commit violent acts against the government. It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

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The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed.

In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”

Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”

They see themselves as free, armed men  that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box. I do not understand what does it mean to be a law abiding insurrect and how the treat of using force against government  is not sedition. It sound like fools playing with fire. A fire that will get us all burned. Guns for peace is like condoms for virginity. The safety of all of us depends on social stability and the availability of guns undermines the social fabric.

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I will point out that there is a recurring ploy of invoking the safety and well being of children and abortion , regardless of relevance, for emotional impact and to gain the moral high ground. Even cases where children are the victims of gun violence are used as argument for the need of more weapons. The objection to unlimited availability of guns is not an attack on the right of self defense, but rather a claim that this might not be the best strategy to uphold the Social Contract, and invoking abortion as an argument to own guns is ludicrous.

outlook

There is a trade off between social stability and the convenience, freedom, and safety of the individual.

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The argument of guns for self defense makes an implicit assumption of asymmetrical force.  The scenarios depicted by gun advocates and those actually carried out in practice assume a tactical advantage and often an unarmed attack.  However in a world with unlimited gun availability the major treat is also from armed groups. Furthermore, since they know you are armed and willing to kill the stakes are higher. In terms of Game Theory, this is known as the prisoner’s dilemma. If I am the guy with the gun I am king of the mountain, if my neighbor is the man, I am at his mercy, if we both have guns, we better be in good terms, and we are both at high risk of dying of a shotgun. If neither has guns there is no risk of gun violence but none is in position to control the other. However small the probability of a gun being used in a serious injury or death, -accident, suicide, homicide, massacre-, is bigger than zero and multiplied by 85 million produces thousands of deaths a year.

Statistics by themselves cannot establish causality. The USA has many times the violent death rate of similar countries, but is that caused by gun ownership? A decrease in guns will make that factor .5 or 100?

Violent crime in New York City has been dropping since 1990. In 2009, there were 471 homicides, the lowest number since at least 1963 when reliable statistics were first kept. Crime rates spiked in the 1980s and early 1990s as the crack epidemic hit the city.

During the 1990s the New York City Police Department (NYPD) adopted CompStatbroken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and – controversially – the legalization of abortion approximately 18 years previous. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying. There is a correlation between poverty and crime. Not that rich people do not like the easy way but they have other more effective choices and they take your money without going into your house. So if street crime is your worry, it is more effective to fight against poverty than spend resources on guns.  Fighting against poverty does not mean charity, but uprooting the causes.

Like other major industrial cities in the US, Chicago had a major rise in violent crime starting in the late 1960s. Like most major American cities, Chicago has also experienced a decline in overall crime since the early 1990s. Murders in the city peaked first in 1974, with 970 murders when the city’s population was over three million (resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000), and again in 1992, with 943 murders when the city had fewer than three million people, resulting in a murder rate of 34 per 100,000. Following 1992, the murder count slowly decreased to 641 by 1999. That year it still had the most murders of any big city in the U.S.

After adopting crime-fighting techniques in 2004 recommended by the Los Angeles Police Department and the New York City Police Department,[3] Chicago recorded 448 homicides, the lowest total since 1965. This murder rate of 15.65 per 100,000 population is still above the U.S. average, an average which takes in many small towns and suburbs.

This homicide rate is similar to that of Los Angeles in 2004 (13.4 per 100,000), and twice that of New York City (7.0 per 100,000). Chicago’s homicide tally increased slightly in 2005 and 2006 to 450 and 467, respectively, though the overall crime rate in 2006 continued the downward trend that has taken place since the early 1990s, with 2.5% fewer violent crimes and 2.4% fewer property crimes compared to 2005.[5]

Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 25–34 years, and the fourth for persons aged 1–14 years. Similarly, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years and the third leading cause for persons aged 10–24 years. Homicide and suicide are leading causes of death because of drugs and weapons are just tools.

Every year just over 30,000 people die in the US from gunshot wounds. Every two years more US citizens are killed by gunshot wounds than were lost in the entire Vietnam war.

With a population of 310 million about 2,573,000 people die in the US each year. Of which 30,000 die of Gun Shot – so if you live in the US you have over a 1 % chance that you will die of Gun Shot wound.

America’s gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is the highest. Of the world’s 23 “rich” countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America’s ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America’s.

But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world’s least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.

Almost no one in Japan owns a gun. Most kinds are illegal, with onerous restrictions on buying and maintaining the few that are allowed. Even the country’s infamous, mafia-like Yakuza tend to forgoguns; the few exceptions tend to become big national news stories.

The Japanese and American ways of thinking about crime, privacy, and police powers are so different — and Japan is such a generally peaceful country — that it’s functionally impossible to fully isolate and compare the two gun control regiments. It’s not much easier to balance the costs and benefits of Japan’s unusual approach, which helps keep its murder rate at the second-lowest in the world, though at the cost of restrictions that Kopel calls a “police state,” a worrying suggestion that it hands the government too much power over its citizens. After all, the U.S. constitution’s second amendment is intended in part to maintain “the security of a free State” by ensuring that the government doesn’t have a monopoly on force. Though it’s worth considering another police state here: Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world (one gun per thousand citizens, compared to America’s 890) when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship and sparked the Arab Spring.

Contrary to what is often alleged, in any case, used guns are seldom the problem. Most used guns are in people’s safes. The new ones are the problem. Most people who commit mass shootings seem to go on a buying spree first, and gang members likewise most often like to purchase new weaponry.

To summarize I do not have hard evidence, that the gun culture in the States is detrimental to the safety of all, including gun owners. My feeling is that it is unsafe and morally questionable.

National Rifle Association

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA Today’s NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. … Continue reading

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA

Today’s NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.

The NRA’s extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn’t say:

Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.

Not an ounce of common sense.

Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.

Tell your members of Congress you Demand A Plan to end gun violence.

You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.

What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.

What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.

Tell your members of Congress that it’s time to stand up to the NRA:

http://www.DemandAPlan.org

Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,

Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

In Washington on Friday, influential National Rifle Association (NRA) broke a week-long silence with a robust defence of its pro-gun position.

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the NRA, criticised politicians who had “exploited” the tragedy in Newtown for “political gain” and took aim at laws designating schools as gun-free zones.

“They tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk,” he said.

Mr LaPierre called for a national database of the mentally ill and blamed violent video games and films for portraying murder as a “way of life”.

He spoke out against the media for demonising lawful gun owners, and for suggesting a ban on certain types of weapon would be effective.

Congress should authorise funding for armed security in every school in the country, he said, adding that an “extraordinary corps” of trained professionals could be drawn from active and retired police officers, security professionals and firefighters around the country.

Mr LaPierre was interrupted twice by anti-gun protesters carrying banners and declaring that the NRA had “blood on its hands”.

The guns used in the shooting had been legally bought by the gunman’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

The shooting has seen some pro-gun congressmen say the mass shooting has prompted them to change their views on whether guns should be regulated more strictly in the US.

Meanwhile California Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been an advocate for tighter gun laws, said she would introduce new legislation when Congress meets for the first time in the new year.

But there is no bipartisan consensus on the issue, with others backing the NRA line that teachers in schools should be armed in order to better defend students if a shooting occurs.


In recent years, the N.R.A. has aggressively lobbied federal and state governments to dilute or eliminate numerous regulations on gun ownership. And the clearest beneficiary has been the gun industry — sales of firearms and ammunition have grown 5.7 percent a year since 2007, to nearly $12 billion this year, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Despite the recession, arms sales have been growing so fast that domestic manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up. Imports of arms have grown 3.6 percent a year in the last five years.

The industry has, in turn, been a big supporter of the N.R.A. It has contributed between $14.7 million and $38.9 million to an N.R.A.-corporate-giving campaign since 2005, according to a report published last year by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates greater gun control. The estimate is based on a study of the N.R.A.’s “Ring of Freedom” program and very likely understates the industry’s total financial support for the association, which does not publicly disclose a comprehensive list of its donors and how much they have given.

Officials from the N.R.A. have repeatedly said their main goal is to protect the Second Amendment rights of rank-and-file members who like to hunt or want guns for protection. But that claim is at odds with surveys that show a majority of N.R.A. members and a majority of American gun owners often support restrictions on gun sales and ownership that the N.R.A. has bitterly fought.

For instance, a 2009 poll commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 69 percent of N.R.A. members would support requiring all sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks of prospective buyers, which they do not have to do now and which the N.R.A. has steadfastly argued against. If lawful gun owners are willing to subject themselves to background checks, why is the association resisting? Its position appears only to serve the interest of gun makers and dealers who want to increase sales even if it means having dangerous weapons fall into the hands of criminals and violent individuals.

Businesses and special-interest groups often cloak their profit motives in the garb of constitutional rights — think Big Tobacco and its opposition to restrictions on smoking in public places and bold warnings on cigarette packages. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms is not absolute and is subject to regulations and controls. Yet the N.R.A. clings to its groundless arguments that tough regulations violate the Second Amendment. Many of those arguments serve no purpose other than to increase the sales of guns and bullets.

the power of the gun lobby

BATTLEGROUND AMERICA One nation, under the gun. BY JILL LEPORE APRIL 23, 2012 There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. … Continue reading

BATTLEGROUND AMERICA

One nation, under the gun.

BY  APRIL 23, 2012

There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. That works out to about one gun for every American.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

Men are far more likely to own guns than women are, but the rate of gun ownership among men fell from one in two in 1980 to one in three in 2010, while, in that same stretch of time, the rate among women remained one in ten. What may have held that rate steady in an age of decline was the aggressive marketing of handguns to women for self-defense, which is how a great many guns are marketed. Gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, higher in the country than in the city, and higher among older people than among younger people. One reason that gun ownership is declining, nationwide, might be that high-school shooting clubs and rifle ranges at summer camps are no longer common.
Although rates of gun ownership, like rates of violent crime, are falling, the power of the gun lobby is not. Since 1980, forty-four states have passed some form of law that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons outside their homes for personal protection. (Five additional states had these laws before 1980. Illinois is the sole holdout.) A federal ban on the possession, transfer, or manufacture of semiautomatic assault weapons, passed in 1994, was allowed to expire in 2004. In 2005, Florida passed the Stand Your Ground law, an extension of the so-called castle doctrine, exonerating from prosecution citizens who use deadly force when confronted by an assailant, even if they could have retreated safely; Stand Your Ground laws expand that protection outside the home to any place that an individual “has a right to be.” Twenty-four states have passed similar laws.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/04/23/120423fa_fact_lepore