Monthly Archives: January 2013

Conspiracy Persists Regarding The Guns of Sandy Hook

The Guns of Sandy Hook. Not only were they the weapons used to kill 26 teachers and children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they are also the fodder of conspiracy theorists intent on proving that this was a set up by the Obama Administration [or maybe the UN or possibly the New World Order™] to launch a ban on assault weapons and/or disarm America. And like any good conspiracy theory they latch on to disparate information that, in hindsight represents the “proof” that they need to state their case…never mind the volumes of information that is contraindicated to their theory. That other stuff [or as we like to call them – facts] is just “the government covering its tracks.”

The genesis of the conspiracy comes from the onslaught of media reporting of this horrific “BREAKING NEWS…” As word of converging law enforcement to the massacre went from the Newtown Bee, the local newspaper to the media capital of the world, just 75 miles south, reporters merged upon Newtown from 684/84 and from the air. The formula for misinformation was complete…hundreds of cops from different departments, hundreds of reporters from different media, a public clambering for information, deadlines, competition. This was a story that could “make” a reporter, a story that could give the network broadcasting the “latest” information a leg up in ratings.

In the first 24 hours of any story there is misinformation…whether it was a misinterpretation of an event such as seeing a man handcuffed at the scene and assuming he was part of the massacre rather than a parent who had cut cross country to get to his kids faster or if it was collecting snippets of information from different law enforcement personnel and assimilating them incorrectly, errors occur. But in those errors come the seeds of conspiracy.
There were four handguns OR there were three semiautomatics OR the AR-15 was in the trunk OR a shotgun was found in the trunk.

The shooter’s mother was a teacher at the school, the first person killed, a teacher’s aide, was off that day, was not, in any way connected to the school system

 

In normal news cycles reporters have time to check their sources, to double check the validity of a claim. When breaking news hits, much of that quality control is thrown aside…the 24/7/365 news machine, from broadcast news to web sites to newspapers want it first. When it is right, it is magic, information instantly at your fingertips…when it is wrong, it can be total failure.

In March of 1981 the news media reported the breaking news that a shooting took place where Ronald Reagan was. As networks scrambled to get information they reported, inaccurately that James Brady had died, that Reagan had NOT been shot, that Reagan had died…all within the first 30 minutes of the breaking story. Frank Reynolds, anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight went off at staff on the air with the conflicting reports that were being handed to him and fed into his earpiece ““Let’s get it NAILED DOWN… somebody… let’s find out! Let’s get it straight so we can report this thing accurately!”
With the passage of time the incorrect reports are solved. Layers of information, without the rush to feed breaking news can be assimilated, analyzed, and most importantly verified. But conspiracy theorists rely on too many original reports, too many turns of phrase at news conferences, and too many “questions” that propagate through the blogsphere…”Two unidentified NUNS who were seen leave scene at Sandy Hook”, “SMOKING GUN OF SANDY HOOK HOAX. REHEARSAL OF VICTIM EVACUATION”, “Foreign Swat Team Participated in Sandy Hook”, and then there is THIS.

Now, let’s look at the facts regarding the guns that have emerged in the many days since the massacre. First, what guns were in the school?  This is really simple. We have both the coroner’s news conference the day afterward where he explains that “all the wounds were caused by the long gun [the Bushmaster 223, AR-15 clone] and we have the Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection’s report that the guns seized inside the school were a Bushmaster .223 caliber — model XM15-E2S rifle with high capacity 30 round magazine, Glock 10 mm handgun, Sig-Sauer P226  9mm handgun. Seized from the car in the parking lot, a Izhmash Canta-12 12 gauge Assault Shotgun.

Guns of Sandy Hook

We further have an interview with the Connecticut State Coroner, H. Wayne Carver II  on Sunday, December 16, two days after the event speaking about the lethality of the weapon used.

In the initial reports it was reported that an AR-15 was “in the trunk”. The Ishmash Canta-12, from any distance looks very much like an AR-15 or AK-47 from which it is derived. It is easy to see how this part of the conspiracy began. Much of the rest of it, however seems to be based on the concerns by the gun enthusiast community that the entire event was staged to jump start a UN based New World Order plan to disarm America. And that last part…you can’t debunk it, you can’t argue it, it’s just too far over the fringe – in the land where conspiracies are born.

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Sandy Hook Tipping Point for Action: Reflections of Carrollton Bus Crash

Many supporters of gun rights question why a single incident would cause the fervor and fallout that the Sandy Hook Massacre is causing. They argue, both on the national stage and on internet fora that Sandy Hook, while very tragic was not really that big of a deal, that it represented only a very small percentage of deaths per year by firearms. They look at Sandy Hook as an isolated incident and not as the last domino to fall in a line of murders that caused a tipping point in society’s zeitgeist. People no longer felt safe in public places…their malls, churches, workplaces, theaters and their children’s schools were no longer the safe havens of the past.

As the discussions of gun regulations continue, and as people polarize to opposite sides of the conversation it pays to look back and see what events have happened in the past that similarly triggered national outrage, triggered a series of laws, regulations and continuing efforts to solve a problem on the national stage.

carrollton

Twenty five years ago, May 14, 1988 a former school bus, now owned by the First Assembly of God in Radcliff, Kentucky was heading home, southbound on Interstate 71 from Kings Island Amusement Park.  It had 63 children and four adults aboard. Driving on the wrong side of the interstate, directly toward the bus was a single drunk driver in a Toyota Hi-Lux pickup truck…his blood alcohol level was .24. He hit the bus head-on pushing the front suspension of the bus into the just filled 60 gallon gasoline tank.

A news report of the wreck: Carrollton Bus Crash

The bus, legal and of standard design for the era had two exits…the front and back doors. The accident rendered the front door inoperable leaving everyone to get out by the back door…in a fire. The aftermath, 27 people – three adults and 24 children – were trapped aboard the burning bus and died. Thirty four escaped with burns and smoke inhalation.

What can be learned from this horrific crash and what effects of this crash are applicable to Sandy Hook?

The deaths were determined to be due to all 67 passengers trying to get out of one rear door. They were hampered by a roaring fire triggered by a non-protected gasoline tank, outside of the frame of the bus. The fire was exacerbated by the flammability and toxicity of the seating material, building a 2000 degree, toxic conflagration that killed or injured 61 of 67 passengers. And the trigger, that final domino…a drunk driver.

The Carrollton Bus Crash became a national story that was in the national news for weeks. The outrage that this could happen was a tipping point for the fight against drunk driving. Mother’s Against Drunk Driving says Kentucky has made great strides. “In 1988 44% of crashes were alcohol involved and in 2006 which is the latest 20.4% where alcohol was involved” said Angela Criswell in 2008. Kentucky now has the second lowest rate nationwide for drunk driving fatalities. Kentucky lowered its blood alcohol threshold to .08, now the national standard. MADD, founded in 1980 found its membership growing and its influence increased after Carrollton. MADD and states began to change the way they responded to drunk drivers, adding over 1,400 new laws to impact drunk driving and its effects, and the results are that the number of deaths by drunk driver dropped dramatically from 1988’s 18,611 deaths to 2011’s 9,878. Liability for serving alcohol to people who have had too much is now the responsibility of bar and restaurant owners, bartenders and servers.

MADD Drunk Driving Deaths crop

Further, states began to look at technology such as the ignition interlock system to stop those who had previously been charged with drunk driving by not allowing their cars to start if they didn’t pass the interlock’s breath test. That technology is slowly making its way into manufacturers throughout the world.

Besides the intense focus on drunk drivers, standards for buses were changed. Gas tank protection was improved and most buses now use diesel fuel, which is much less flammable than gasoline. Flammable and toxic materials in seats were changed and the seats themselves redesigned. Exits were increased from the normal TWO in 1988 to up to NINE now with reflective arrows pointing to those exits.

The lesson learned, if society demands public safety, demands that their children be safe they will push for action. And they will push until they have solutions in place to begin to solve the problem. Do these solutions provide 100% success? Of course not. But each year that there are fewer than 10,000 people killed by drunk drivers instead of over 18,000, it is a success.

May 14th of 2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of Carrollton. Media will again look back to see the impacts and changes for the survivors, the families of the dead, the school bus industry and the way society looks at drunk driving. And they will look back at the crash as well through a new documentary, Impact.

After 1988 parents all across this country thought about Carrollton every time they put their children on a school bus. 25 years later parents all across the country think about Sandy Hook as they put their child on a bus or drop them off at school. Changes will happen. Society will push to better itself, to better the lives of its children.

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.

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Columbine: 5,000 Days Later

Today is the 5,000th day since Columbine High School erupted in violence and murder and 13 innocent children were killed, another 21 injured. As well, the two shooters, aged 18 and 17. 5,000 days, nearly 14 years have passed. Today is also the day the US Senate is taking up the subject of “What Should America Do About Gun Violence?”

In the nearly 14 years since Columbine we have had 157,500 murders by gun. 32,000 of those were gang related where most were using stolen guns or guns illegally purchased.  125,500 were NOT gang related [numbers from FBI Uniform Crime Reports].

Ushomicidesbyweapon.svg

As you can see from the FBI chart, a definite, well defined drop came after the Assault Weapons Ban in 1994

Since Columbine we have had seven multiple murder school shootings in Red Lake High School, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois University, Bart Township, PA, Chardon High School, Oikos University, and Sandy Hook Elementary School. In every school shooting except Bart Township, Chardon and Sandy Hook there were armed, trained guards on the scene, as there was in Columbine. 103 Killed – 96 Wounded.

In that same 14 years over 84 Million guns have been sold in the US according to the BATFE’s NICS background check system.  We also know that between 3.5Million and 5Million guns have been stolen in that same period. And through SourceWatch we know that the NRA has spend over $50Million in lobbying and election contributions, $24.28Million – $16.83Million through its Political Action Committee, plus $7.45 million through its affiliated Institute for Legislative Action during the 2012 election cycle alone, along with another $2,205,000 in lobby action alone.

Each morning, moms and dads across the country get 64,000,000 children ready for school to learn, be with friends and develop as human beings.  Each morning those parents think about Sandy Hook, about Columbine, about the school shootings that have grown in numbers in the last 14 years. They don’t care about politics, they don’t care about the 2nd Amendment, they don’t care about someone’s right to own what ever gun the market can present for sale. They care about the safety of their children; they care whether they are at school, at the playground, on the bus.

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.


NRA At Senate Hearing: Wagging The Dog

Today will be the 47th day since the killings at Sandy Hook, the 194th day since the Aurora theater shootings…and exactly 5,000 days since Columbine and the US Senate has decided to hold hearings on “What should America do about gun violence?”

Speaking are Captain Mark Kelly, USN (Ret.), Constitutional Law Professor David Kopel of Denver University, Baltimore Chief of Police James Johnson, Gayle Trotter from the Independent Women’s Forum and Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA.

From the NRA, Wayne LaPierre began by pointing out that he represents 4.5 million NRA members – just 1.4% of this country’s population [though he left that part out].

He continued by yet again presenting a solution that was wrapped as a marketing pitch that the NRA was most qualified to train the several hundred thousand guards to provide an “immediate blanket of security around our children” – the NRA School Shield Program. He also promoted the NRA programs to train Americans how to safely use guns. To summarize the pitch…use our resources and give us money.

“The NRA has over 80,000 certified instructors who teach our military personnel, law enforcement officers and hundreds of thousands of other American men and women how to safely use firearms.”

“It’s time to throw an immediate blanket of security around our children.  About a third of our schools have armed security already – because it works.”

Except when it doesn’t work in places like Columbine or Virginia Tech or Red Lake where armed, trained guards were on staff and on the facility. Or Westside Middle School where the shooters, aged 11 and 13 pulled the fire alarm which dumped the entire student body outside of the school where they shot and killed five and wounded 10 with guns they got from their parents.

After marketing the NRA’s pet projects and “more guns” only solutions Mr. LaPierre turned his focus on gun laws, both current and proposed. His opinion, look to enforcing current laws before bringing new ones on-line, a weak solution that doesn’t take into account that both enforcing existing regulations, on the state and federal level, plus implementing new regulations to cover the gaps would be a much more sound, rational proposal.

“In addition, we need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books. Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works…Proposing more gun control laws – while failing to enforce the thousands we already have – is not a serious solution to reducing crime.”

Mr. LaPierre then discussed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS] and in one thought supported it by requesting that mental health records should be included in a more robust system and then appeared to completely dismiss the NICS system, enhanced by a more comprehensive system that incorporates private sales and gun show sales, closing loopholes by saying they won’t work “because criminals will never submit to them.”

“I think we can also agree that our mental health system is broken. We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection and treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”

“And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.”

At this point Mr. LaPierre showed the arrogance he and the NRA have shown each and every time a microphone has been put in their face since Sandy Hook, saying that the NRA “is ready to participate” but lays down a gauntlet that the NRA’s position that the government has no right to dictate what guns people can lawfully own.

He says “Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals”…ignoring the gun’s role in the violence that kills over 12,000 Americans per year and he ignores the role the NRA plays as lobbyist for the gun industry.

“While we’re ready to participate in a meaningful effort to solve these pressing problems, we must respectfully – but honestly and firmly – disagree with some members of this committee, many in the media, and all of the gun control groups on what will keep our kids and our streets safe. Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals. Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.”

Then Mr. LaPierre drifted from mostly factual observations to outright lies. He contends, as many pro-gun supporters do that there was no positive effect from the gun ban in 1994, however every statistical analysis of actual numbers, actual trends show that gun violence peaked in 1995 and began falling afterward. US Department of Justice reports, which analyzed 28 years of data, from1980-2008 and proved beyond any doubt of when the peak violence happened and the drop from that time.

“Semi-automatic firearms have been around for over 100 years.  They are among the most popular guns made for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Despite this fact, Congress banned the manufacture and sale of hundreds of semi-automatic firearms and magazines from 1994 to 2004. Independent studies, including a study from the Clinton Justice Department, proved that ban had no impact on lowering crime.”

In the end, the NRA position has not changed…they still demand that the only solution is more guns, funds spend for their plan which brings in income to the NRA and that they are intractable in their willingness to look at 21st Century challenges without anchoring them to 18th Century philosophy.

In other words, the tail of the dog, which accounts for about 1.4% wants to wag the dog, to drive the solutions to gun violence in America…just as long as it does nothing to negatively affect the NRA’s multi-million dollar lobbying for the gun industry.

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.

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Fringe Right Family Research Council Condemns Boy Scouts’ Policy Change

Fear, Uncertainty, Confusion and Dread [FUCD]…the hallmark of the right, folks who want to affect policy by fear rather than by facts. A group who would continue the hate and bigotry that so many on the right have shown as they fight equal rights for gays.

Today, after hearing the Boy Scouts of America’s announcement that it will change its policy, no longer directing that policy against gays from the National Council, Tony Perkins, head of the fringe conservative Family Research Council came out with a statement threatening the looming specter of pedophilia.

“The mission of the Boy Scouts is ‘to instill values in young people’ and ‘prepare them to make ethical choices,’ and the Scout’s oath includes a pledge ‘to do my duty to God’ and keep himself ‘morally straight.’ It is entirely reasonable and not at all unusual for those passages to be interpreted as requiring abstinence from homosexual conduct.”

That interpretation is only valid if, and it is a rather large IF one takes the position that gay activity is somehow morally aberrant or unethical. The reality is that it is neither of those things. Contrary to the fringe conservatives’ opinion, being gay is not a choice, it is just part of who they are, much like being straight is not a choice, it too is just a part of who they are. The position of the FRC is based on their personal religious beliefs, nothing more. And while they have every right to have their personal religious beliefs, they do not have the right to foist those bigoted, hateful beliefs on others.

The Family Research Council, which is severely lacking in “research”, has taken a hard-line stance against all things gay. In 2012 they announced that “repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy would encourage molestation of heterosexual service members and would lead to more American servicemen receiving unwelcome same-sex fellatio in their sleep.” This is part of a long line of reasoning from FRC spokesman Peter Sprigg suggesting that gay men are more likely to be sex offenders than anyone else.

This statement, along with the juxtaposition of the recent release of over 20,000 documents by the Boy Scouts of America which detail the number of inappropriate sexual contacts by heterosexual leaders against scouts from 1965 to 1985, strongly rebuke the hateful bigotry of the Family Research Council’s assertions.

The Boy Scouts of America are taking their first steps in joining society in the 21st Century. It is too bad that the Family Research Council is stuck in the 13th Century BCE.

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.

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Boy Scouts Change Policies Against Gays

Early next week, 102 years after the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America, the National Council is expected to announce that it will allow gay Scouts and troop leaders. This is a 180 degree turn from their 30 years of active opposition to gays in scouting. “The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement to USA TODAY.

In 2010 the Boy Scouts of America reached its 100th Anniversary. It should have been a time of unified celebration. It should have been a time to look at all the good that the organization had achieved. But it was not. Politics and evangelical religion had come into the scouting movement over the past 30 years and the BSA had not learned that simple law of physics…for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In 2010, at the National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, scouts openly booed the President as he gave his address to the scouts by video. Neither they nor their leaders were held responsible for this lack of leadership, this lack of common respect. Those on the political right defended the booing by saying that President Obama didn’t come to the Jamboree and speak to the scouts in person. I attended three Jamborees, the 1967 World Jamboree in Idaho, the 1969 National Jamboree in Idaho and the 1973 National Jamboree in Pennsylvania and we never once had a President speak. So I checked…Truman, Johnson, Bush1, Clinton and Bush2 attended Jamborees. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Carter, or Reagan did not [Bush2 only attended one of the two during his term]. Only one president was booed…politics won.

At the same time, during scouting’s 100th Anniversary, the push from the National Council to prohibit gays from being members or being leaders, whether men in the Boy Scouts or women in the Cub Scouts reached national attention. It began in 1980, about the time the Reagan conservative movement came to national presence. Openly gay men were denied the right to be leaders. In 1991 they issued their first position statement on the subject. Over the years they fine-tuned their bias against gays in each policy statement on the subject. In 2001, Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg resigned as a board member rather than tacitly support their policies. “The last few years in scouting have deeply saddened me to see the Boy Scouts of America actively and publicly participating in discrimination. It’s a real shame,” Spielberg said from a prepared statement.

In 2009 the Boy Scouts of America were introduced to social media and Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mom who was pack leader for her son’s Cub Scout pack. She was also openly gay. While the local council didn’t object, the National Council did. And scouting erupted with its first nation-wide protest against the BSA policy. 336,000 people signed her change.org petition and on social media she was supported by hundreds of thousands.

The Boy Scouts of America stood firm…at least in public. But behind the scenes at the BSA National Executive Board, members James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young, and Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T who is “on track to become president of the Scout’s national board in 2014”, opposed the policy and stated their intention “to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress” in changing the policy.

During this same period of celebration, the 100th Anniversary of the Eagle Scout in 2012, thousands of Eagle Scouts, the pride of the Boy Scouts of America began to protest, began to get together and stand up to scouting bias and hate. Whether gay or straight, many Eagles returned their badges to the National Council clearing stating that the Boy Scouts were wrong in their policies, were wrong to hate, were wrong to be biased.

 

2010-2012 were supposed to be two of the best years in scouting. They turned out to be the worst. And they were because the Boy Scouts of America had turned its back on its mission. Yes, it is a private organization which is allowed to make any policies it wishes. But it also is a private organization that cannot be tone-deaf to society, it cannot, by its own Scout Laws and Oath be an organization of bigotry and hate. In that, it has had a catastrophic failure in leadership.

In another hit to the Boy Scouts, they were compelled, in 2012 to release over 20,000 files on leaders and incidents of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.

The fallout against the Boy Scouts of America has been long in coming but building yearly.  Membership is down 47% in the Cub Scouts and 20% in the Boy Scouts. Volunteers have raised questions that there are allegations that the National Council and some local councils have been fudging the numbers to trick donors. “Volunteers say paid Scout leaders have created fictitious “ghost units” for years to pump up membership numbers to trick donor groups and charities, including the United Way, into giving them more money.”

UPS has joined Intel in dropping funding to the Boy Scouts as their policies conflict with the norms and mores of the corporate world and society. They join the thousands of former Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts and volunteers who have walked away from supporting the organization as long as they maintained their policies of bias and hate. And it is these volunteers that are the backbone of the Boy Scouts. Without them and their support the Boy Scouts will continue to lose funding, lose volunteers, and most important lose membership.

I attained Eagle Scout in 1970; I attended National Jamborees in Idaho and Pennsylvania, a World Jamboree in Idaho and was prepared to be staff at the 1979 World Jamboree in Iran which was cancelled. I hiked thousands of miles with the Boy Scouts in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Idaho, California, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Reservation – where I was introduced to a rattlesnake and got my first helicopter ride to the emergency room. I sat beside my uncle who was Camp Director at a camp in Tennessee before I was old enough to join the scouts and I was taught by scout leaders in Southeast Kentucky who had fought in Anzio, Normandy and Korea. They taught me to be strong and to be a leader. They also taught me to do what was right and stand up against what was wrong.

 

Teaching what is right and what is honorable are what has been missing for the past couple of decades in scouting. It will be good to get them back. The kids of this country can use the help.

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

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The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013…Missing the Target

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 was introduced into the Senate this week. On another blog I talked about its various elements in detail, now I want to talk about its impacts and chances of passing. This is where I put my money where my mouth is and insure I get incoming fire from both sides.

These are the main elements of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 [S.150]. I will update with a link to the legislation’s text when it is published.

  1. All semiautomatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature: pistol grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; grenade launcher or rocket launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel.
  2. All semiautomatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature: threaded barrel; second pistol grip; barrel shroud; capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip; or semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.
  3. All semiautomatic rifles and handguns that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  4. All ammunition feeding devices (magazines, strips, and drums) capable of accepting more than 10 rounds
  5. Banning bump or slide fire stocks, which are modified stocks that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire at rates similar to fully automatic machine guns.
  6. Banning so-called “bullet buttons” that allow the rapid replacement of ammunition magazines, frequently used as a workaround to prohibitions on detachable magazines.
  7. Banning Thumbhole stocks, a type of stock that was created as a workaround to avoid prohibitions on pistol grips.
  8. Adding a ban on the importation of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines
  9. Eliminating the 10-year sunset that allowed the original federal ban to expire.
  10. Requiring a background check on all sales or transfers of a grandfathered assault weapon.
  11. Prohibiting the sale or transfer of large-capacity ammunition feeding devices lawfully possessed on the date of enactment of the bill.
  12. Allowing states and localities to use federal Byrne JAG grant funds to conduct a voluntary buy-back program for grandfathered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
  13. Imposing a safe storage requirement for grandfathered firearms, to keep them away from prohibited persons.
  14. Requiring that assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices manufactured after the date of the bill’s enactment be engraved with the serial number and date of manufacture of the weapon

 

What does this mean? It means, should the bill pass that in the future people will not be able to buy AR-15 or AK-47 type weapons…the so called black guns. But the bill will do nothing to the millions of them already in private hands. This means that we, as a society have to accept that those owners are or will be responsible for their weapons and accept the results from actions by those owners who are not responsible. And responsibility extends to selling the guns in the future through proper channels and to insure that the weapons are properly stowed to insure that they don’t fall into the underground market through theft.

It means that, if passed there would still be plenty of potential for harm to come from the current owners or from those to whom they intentionally or unintentionally transfer ownership.

The second part of the bill addresses the capacity of  ammunition magazines sold in the future yet only briefly addresses the millions of magazines for both rifles and pistols that will continue to be in the market, whether with their grandfathered owners or introduced into the underground market. They will not just magically go away.

To this end, from the strategic side of the argument much of the perceived success of any Assault Weapons Ban will be ineffective…this is due to both the millions of weapons that are still available in private ownership and because, just as importantly, the very wide majority of gun deaths are not done with assault weapons. The majority of deaths could just as easily occur with a six shot revolver. Only mass murders and drive-bys could be significantly impacted with the focus mainly on assault weapons.

What I DON’T see in this bill…comprehensive background check requirements for every gun purchase, whether at a gun shop, gun show, internet generated face-to-face sale [FTF] or between buddies.

I also don’t see a comprehensive requirement to insure that all guns be properly stowed…locked away from children, from anger, from thieves. There is nothing in this bill to make gun owners COMPLETELY responsible for their firearms, not just hope that their guns will be safe and not become part of the 200,000 stolen guns per year. Nor are there requirements that owners’ guns don’t allow one of their kids, or his friend to kill themselves or one another because of a gun “just laying around” or in the closet.

To the tactical side, how will this bill pass? Bundled as it is, with what would be a “take it all or leave it all” strategy, I doubt there is a chance it will pass. I say this because the single piece of the legislation that would likely kill it is the ban of weapons.  There is still too much NRA lobby money at stake from those voting and there is a contingent of Congress that does not believe in any limiting of firearms, for any reason. Much of the rest, introduced separately would stand a much better chance of passing. Public opinion and voices within the Congress agree with much of this legislation but those pieces with which they don’t agree are significant enough to kill it.

All of this conjecture is based on the bill as it stands, as submitted. Without question there will be amendments attached to it, some might even be on the same subject that will change the focus of the bill. What stands on the Senate and later House floor will likely be dramatically different than what we currently read.

As history shows, with constant repetition, with time will come yet another mass murder, another murder of an entire family by an unsecured gun in the house, another body count to pump up headlines. And as much as anything else, they too will define the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.

This bill focuses on the penultimate domino in a long line. It does not address the myriad of elements that gets a person to the point of taking up arms to intentionally cause deadly chaos. And it only superficially addresses the last domino…that final act of deadly force. Those solutions will be for another day…though they should be part of a comprehensive package of solutions now.

The gun lobby says “Guns don’t kill people, people do”…yet the common denominator in 12,000 shooting deaths and 250,000 injuries by gunfire is the gun. It draws stark attention to the failure of the simple-minded phrase, trying to make the argument into a singular political issue…IT IS NOT.

 

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.

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Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 Submitted to Senate

Today, January 24th, Senator Diane Feinstein introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, 42 days after Sandy Hook, 188 days past Aurora, Colorado. The bill is a comprehensive update to the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

The new legislation has two major components that will affect gun sales in the future and current owners of affected firearms.

  • First, the bill prohibits the sale, manufacture, transfer and importation of more than 150 of the most commonly-owned military-style assault weapons [see list at bottom of summary]. It also bans an additional group of assault weapons that can accept a detachable ammunition magazine and have one or more military characteristics.
  • Second, the bill bans large-capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. These devices allow shooters to fire numerous rounds in rapid succession without having to stop and reload.

The Assault Weapons Ban includes a grandfather clause that specifically exempts all assault weapons lawfully possessed at the date of enactment from the ban. The intent of the grandfather clause is to insure all gun owners that the government is NOT confiscating currently owned firearms. The bill does not affect the purchase of hunting and sporting rifles manually operated by bolt, pump, lever or slide action including more than 2,200 hunting and sporting rifles by specific make and model.

Regarding the first component, those semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable ammunition magazines used in recent mass shootings. The bill addresses the variations of the AR-15, AK-47 and other military style rifles. These rifles, by design can accept magazines that hold up to 100 rounds, and have been shown firing up to 13 rounds per second, depending on modifications and skill level.

While future weapons on the list would be banned, weapons currently in the hands of gun owners are excluded.  Currently owned weapons will have, however some new restrictions. Grandfathered assault weapons must be stored safely using a secure gun storage or safety device in order to keep them away from prohibited persons. Also, all future transfers of assault weapons covered by the legislation, including sale, trade and gift must be subject to a normal background check, as if purchased at a Federal Firearms License [FFL] gun dealer. Further, the sale or transfer of high-capacity ammunition feeding devices that are currently in existence is prohibited.

Since Sandy Hook the gun community has rushed to hoard every gun that was likely to be on the list of banned weapons and to stockpile the magazines that will now be illegal to sell or transfer or require dealer involvement to provide a background check of the new buyer [for the guns].

The second component of the legislation bans large-capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This affects the gun community in two ways. First, it will require that manufactures only supply magazines with a capacity of 10 rounds or less for ALL guns that are sold. The just passed New York legislation used a threshold of 7 rounds.

But more important to the general public, guns sold to buyers for self defense will now be limited to 10 rounds. This will require that future purchasers train differently to defend from attack…no longer would they be able to quickly or easily defend themselves from multiple attackers or home invaders with a single 10 round magazine. While the likelihood of need to defend family and home is extremely small…this law will weaken that ability for the 99% of gun owners who do not use them for criminal intent.

A third component of the legislation is to ban many of the modifications that are currently available for the AR-15 type of rifles including bump or slide fire stocks, which are modified stocks that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire at rates similar to fully automatic machine guns and to ban “bullet buttons” that allow the rapid replacement of ammunition magazines, frequently used as a workaround to prohibitions on detachable magazines. Further, thumbhole stocks, a type of stock that was created as a workaround to avoid prohibitions on pistol grips would be prohibited.

Other elements of the legislation include adding a ban on the importation of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, something that many thought President Obama would do by way of Executive Order. It also eliminates the 10-year sunset that allowed the original federal ban to expire. Additionally, monies would be allocated to allow states and localities to use federal Byrne JAG grant funds to conduct a voluntary buy-back program for grandfathered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices.

As recently as last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he would not bring any Assault Weapon Ban legislation to a vote as he didn’t believe it would pass in the House. He has since changed his position and will bring it to a vote.

Complete text of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 will be published later today.

 

McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.

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Five Killed in Albuquerque Family by 15 Year-old Son with Military Style weapon

We focus on the big mass shootings…those which make headlines that continue for weeks…Aurora, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, Sikh Temple, Binghamton, NY.

But other, less deadly shootings are more the norm…all across the nation, as folks sort out their domestic conflicts or drug dealings with lethal results. We count the killings that occur with unwavering frequency in Covina, Hamilton, Hazard, every town…and now Albuquerque.

This weekend’s shooting is in Albuquerque…five are dead, father, mother and three children. The 15 year old shooter, Nehemiah Griego is in custody. Each victim had been shot multiple times. The victims were members of the Griego family, who neighbors described as active in the church, that the father is a pastor and that the family had 10 children, one of which appears to be the shooter. A Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said several guns were found inside the home, including a “military-style” rifle had been used in the crime.

The beat goes on, the body count goes up and the only common denominator to all the violence is a gun. With the national focus on gun violence…this one will get more attention than normal, this one will linger in the news as it has all the right elements that the media watch…number of dead, type of gun, children.

Last week the domestic shooting was in Hazard, Kentucky, a small town of 4,500 in the heart of the Appalachia coal fields. Three were killed by a shooter who had only bought his gun hours early at a gun and pawn shop. This was extensively covered last week by Addicting Info.

Because people do not get involved with solving the problem of death by gun violence unless they are headlines…two more to look at.

On Christmas Eve, 2008 in the city of Covina, California 45-year-old Bruce Jeffrey Pardo entered his former in-law’s house and began killing. Nine were killed besides the suicide of the shooter.

And in Hamilton, Ohio, James Urban Ruppert woke up on Easter Sunday, 1975 and killed 11 members of his family. Ruppert is currently in state prison in Lima, Ohio.

Two things are common between the four murders…none of the shooters had a criminal record and each had easy access to firearms.

Read more observations from McAllister at Shoot From the Left Hip.

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Three Shot In Gun Show Accident

Three Injured at Gun Show. When you read the headline you ask “where this time?” In less than two years accidents have occurred in Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, and now Raleigh, North Carolina.

Today’s “accident” occurred at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, North Carolina at the safety checkpoint when a patron unzipped a 12 Gauge Shotgun and accidentally fired it. Three, including a sheriff’s deputy, were injured. Police say the shotgun’s owner brought the weapon to the show to find a private buyer.

“The gun went off while being checked by an official at a safety check-in location.” No, it was more than that. Either it was NOT checked, incorrectly checked or someone reloaded it after it was checked. The gun did not of its own accord just go bang. But it was an “accident” so; yet again the prospect of nobody being responsible exists.

In December of 2012, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky two men were wounded in the parking lot of a gun show. “One of the men had purchased a 9mm Highpoint and had attempted to load it when the weapon discharged for some reason. The bullet went through the man’s hand and struck the other man in the buttocks,” police said.

In October of 2012, in Tupelo, MS both a four year old child and a patron of a gun show were injured when a bullet went through the wall.

In June of 2011, in Mount Clemens, MI a female customer at the monthly gun show accidentally fired a gun not realizing it was loaded. The 64 year old owner of the gun then inspected the gun and fired it again. Two women and a child were injured by bullet fragments.

In February of 2011, in Bloomington, IL a man was handling a loaded gun at a vendor booth…he fired it once sending a bullet through one man’s chest and into another. A third person was injured diving for cover.

Also in February 2011, in Gray, Tennessee, outside of the Johnson City, Tri-cities area a man was wounded in the leg while trying to attach a newly purchased laser for his 9mm.

In 2008 an eight year old was killed while shooting an UZI at a gun show, live fire exhibition in Massachusetts. He did so while being “supervised” by a 15 year old, while his father watched and while the Chief of Police who ran the show was “away”.

What do these SEVEN incidences have in common? Besides the obvious “at a gun show,” they were all events in which gun enthusiasts, those folks who we are constantly told are “part of the 99% of gun owners who are safe, legal and responsible. All but one took place under managed supervision, meaning that a proactive safety check had been in place; either checking and disarming weapons at the door or by requiring vendors to only have unloaded weapons.

And most important, all of these events were declared “accidental…no charges will be filed.” That phrase repeated from story to story. Nobody held responsible for the safe handling of firearms…no incentive to demand a safer environment.

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