Monthly Archives: March 2013

Ashley Judd Scratched from Senate Race

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The tweets started just after 5:00 EDT. Within minutes I was receiving tweets and texts from the local newspaper, television stations and friends, and within the hour the major political blogs in Kentucky were beginning to light up with the news. Ashley Judd had made her decision…she is not starting a run against Mitch McConnell in 2014.

The decision leaves one group of Kentuckians and many liberals throughout the country disappointed while, at the same time it gives the rising stars of the Democratic Party of Kentucky a bit of a breather as they assess their own decisions.

Kentucky is a red state…extremely red and it is going to take a Kentuckian with experience working with often conflicting goals to make any run against Mitch McConnell successful. Addressing the issue of Mountain Top Removal, which to much of the country is environmental is also a big jobs question in Kentucky where thousands of miners in our Eastern Kentucky coal fields have seen their jobs taken away. Also, religion plays a big role in Kentucky politics, where just last night the Kentucky legislature overturned the Governor’s veto of the Religious Freedom bill in Kentucky. Add in the pervasive gun culture in a state where as many liberals own guns as conservatives and you have three nearly un-scalable walls for a “Hollywood Liberal” to conquer.

Was she the best person for the job…most likely. She is extremely smart, passionate about Kentucky and its issues, a world famous Kentuckian and most obvious…just about as opposite of the leader of the Party of No, Mitch McConnell as could be. But that might not be enough in a state that has voted for obstructionist McConnell for a quarter of a century and Rand Paul, who rode onto the national stage on his daddy’s coattails.

There has, so far not been comment from Alison Lundergan Grimes or any other potential candidates.

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There will be more on this breaking story as it unfolds.

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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 resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

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NRA Has Congress by the Balls… America Pays with Blood

NRA-Grip-on-Congress

The NRA has repeated, time and again that “we need to enforce the thousands of gun laws that are currently on the books. Prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms works.” That was Wayne LaPierre’s demand at the January 30 Senate hearing on gun violence. To understand just how disingenuous that simple statement is, all you have to do is look at the efforts that the NRA have taken to stop enforcement of “gun laws that are currently on the books.”.

Put simply…Wayne LaPierre doesn’t give a damn about enforcement of old laws or introducing new laws to stop slaughter…he and the NRA are too busy passing out checks to Congress that support his lobbying efforts for the gun industry.

Besides their current battle plan to stop each and every new regulation before it even has time to see the floor of Congress [see Assault Weapons Ban legislation], the much more insidious plan has been taking place for years, little earmarks tucked into other bills that neuter government’s ability to enforce current gun laws. It directly enforces the NRA’s singular mission…to help the gun industry sell as many guns as possible with as little interference from pesky “laws” as possible. And Congress plays along, awaiting their check or fearing the “wrath” of an easily duped NRA membership.

So how does the NRA do it? As the Center for American Progress shows, they buy favored legislation without it ever, even once having a hearing, being heard in committee or on the floor of the House or Senate? Earmarks or at least the legislative version of them. But instead of being a rider to pave a donor’s marina parking lot under the guise of Homeland Security requirements [as Hal Rogers [R-KY] did…it is a little bill attached to an important bill such as a “must pass” appropriations bill.

ATF Stopped from Collecting Strawman Data

And that is just what happened in May of 2012 when the Appropriations bill for Commerce and Justice for FY2013 came through. Included in it was an section that prohibited the ATF from requiring firearms dealers in states on the Mexican border to report the sale of multiple rifles or shotguns to a single individual, a noted strawman purchase. This ATF policy that was being targeted was a new policy to assist law enforcement fighting illegal gun trafficking along the border with Mexico. This happened at the same time Republicans and the NRA were pillorying the Obama administration for Fast and Furious.
HR5326, SEC. 219. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to require a person licensed [gun shop]under section 923 of title 18, United States Code, to report information to the Department of Justice regarding the sale of multiple rifles or shotguns to the same person.

Bringing ATF Data Into the 21st Century

One of the requirements for any systematic analysis tools that allow the ATF to manage the tracking of stolen weapons, straw buyers and illegal purchases is a sound database of information. It seems simple…but the NRA has spent years stopping the ATF from enforcing laws that require record keeping, bringing what records the ATF does have into 21st Century technology and having an ability for law enforcement to use the data to catch the very criminals that the NRA says are the ones that should be held accountable.

The NRA handcuffs the ATF and law enforcement with riders in Appropriations bills that keep ATF from computerizing their files…leading to warehouses full of paper documents. [For the fiscally conservative right…this is how your tax dollars are being spent…long man hours to investigate files on paper that should be on-line]. Since 1979 the ATF has not had the legal ability to consolidate information into a database for law enforcement.

Department of Justice Halted from Sharing Gun Trace Data

In 2004 a rider was tucked into the Justice Appropriations bill that prohibits the Department of Justice from disclosing “trace” data, that all important information that can link criminal to gun to dealer to manufacture. And the NRA complains loudly that the Administration is not prosecuting criminals for gun crimes…now you know why.

ATF Can’t Demand Inventory Control

One of the primary functions of the ATF is inspecting the 60,000 federally licensed gun dealers in the United States. They are hampered from doing this by funding restraints and by riders in the Appropriations bills. Note the recurring theme.

Again in 2004 [when the White House and both houses of Congress were Republican] a rider was placed into the funding bill that restricted the ATF’s ability to conduct inventories of gun dealers. Put simply the ATF was handcuffed from performing a core function to insure that guns that came in the door of gun shops when out the door with proper paperwork.

In 2011 inspections found 18,500 guns were missing in the limited inventory inspections of just 13,000 dealers that the ATF is able to accomplish. One of the guns used by John Allen Mohammed in the 2003 Beltway Sniper attacks that killed 10 was such a “stolen” weapon from a gun shop…a Bushmaster XM-15. Sound familiar?

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When it comes to gun violence, and determining appropriate solutions to reduce its impact on American society is good, sound research into all the variables that go into the violence so that resources can be called to bear on those factors that are the most significant. But yet another rider…this one over several years explicitly defunded the Centers for Disease Control as they tried to study gun violence, tried to define the important links. This may have backfired on the NRA this year as detailed studies may have shown that there is not a link between assault rifles and significant gun violence. But we won’t know because unbiased research was halted.

All of these boil down to a couple of very significant facts. The NRA has, for 30 years attempted to neuter all attempts by government to solve gun violence, they have attempted to neuter the “thousands of laws already on the books” that they insist should be fully enforced before any new laws are considered. They have stopped inspections, stopped enforcement and they have stopped research…all for the very simple reason of profit for the gun manufacturers that give them millions of dollars each year to do their bidding.

When the subject comes up that there is “a price for freedom”…that price is measured by monies spent by the NRA to enhance the profits of their clients and by the number of bodies that pile up year after year while the NRA shamelessly looks away.

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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Assault Weapons Ban Pulled from Main Congressional Gun Violence Package

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The Assault Weapons Ban, the most prominent and contentious element of the comprehensive collection of bills to address gun violence will not be a part of the larger, consolidated bill that works its way through Congress over the next few weeks.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid informed Senator Feinstein that the AWB would not be a part of the body of the bill taking shape in Congress this week but instead would be included as an amendment…a sure sign that it has little chances to pass. It will either become a negotiating point in the overall bill or will just be voted down as it has no support from the Republican side of the Senate as well as no support in the house. If included in the overall bill it would likely kill the entire thing.

As of today the comprehensive bill has not been posted to Thomas.LOC.GOV. A followup will come from Addicting Info as soon as the bill is assembled and put forward.

The comprehensive bill is expected to address more stringent, broad background checks for gun buyers, a school safety measure and to make gun trafficking and straw purchasing a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The bill will likely incorporate many of the 40 initial bills that were submitted to Congress in January and February of this year.

The bill is also likely to address magazine capacity of both rifles and pistols and to beef up the flawed NICS Firearms Background Check System. It is unknown if provisions will include coordination with states to include some level of mental health reporting. Psychologists with whom I have spoken on the subject suggest that including mental health records will be an uphill battle on many levels including the very important element of psychologists expected to predict degrees of lethality.

The Assault Weapons Ban is the most prominent of the many bills introduced, addressing the future of high capacity semi automatic rifles, with the most common being the variants of the AR-15. While assault weapons [real or semi automatic versions] are a real danger for mass murder, the more important issues are to address getting guns out of the hands of those who should not have them through closing loopholes eliminating as many of the backdoor sales, gun show sales and person to person sales that are so common and to enhancing background checks by both beefing up the current system to include domestic violence orders and mental health records and including that background check in ALL purchases, not just at licensed gun shops. The comprehensive bill, sans Assault Weapons Ban will have a chance to impact the 98% of deaths by firearms each year that are not mass murder, that are not perpetrated by assault weapons.

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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

 


Rand Paul Floats to the Top at 2013 CPAP Straw Poll

Senate Republicans Present Alternative 2013 Budget Proposal

With 25% of the vote, Rand Paul won the 23 person field straw poll predicting the 2016 presidential race at Conservative conclave CPAC today. It is 36 months until the 2016 primary season begins.

Paul beat out other 2016 contenders Marco Rubino who received 23%…two percent below Paul. The favor dropped off considerably the further down the list, with Santorum receiving 8%, the uninvited Chris Christie receiving 7% and Paul Ryan fifth with 6% of the vote as they rounded out the top five.

The CPAC ballot consisted of the usual suspects of conservative thought. Reviewing the list from a liberal eye one could not help noting that only two or three of the 23 candidates stray from hard right conservatism, shut down in the 2012 election cycle.

The runners

NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz
Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Ohio Governor John Kasich
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul
Indiana Governor Mike Pence
Texas Governor Rick Perry
Ohio Senator Rob Portman
Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott
South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Sarah Palin came in 10th, with 3% of the vote with the remaining 13 contenders getting a combined 14% of the vote.

The five women in the field brought in a cumulative 7% percent of the total vote.

Let’s look at 2010, the same 36 months before the 2012 election and Ron Paul was the winner. George Allen won in 2006 and Steve Forbes 36 months before the 2000 election in 1998. Other conservative winners in the past 20 years have been Jack Kemp, Phil Gramm and Gary Bauer, proving that who is in the lead 36 months before primary season historically stands no chance of staying strong in the front stretch run at the nomination.

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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

 

 


90 Days Since Sandy Hook – 2680+ Gun Deaths – Congress: ZIP

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It has been exactly ninety days since the Massacre of Sandy Hook. Ninety days for the country to look at solutions to stop, or at least slow down gun violence. Instead, we have been distracted by partisan polarization to the point that when a decorated Navy Captain, astronaut and husband of gunned down Congressperson Gabby Giffords supports an opinion that differs from the fringe gun community they explode with vitriol, hate and immature rhetoric, directed at an American hero. They exhibit that which is worst in this country, irrational outrage that is the 21st Century equivalent of tar and pitchforks, hate filled mob rule. Except that they do not rule.

But to the good, both state and federal legislatures have introduced scores of bills intended to improve public health that is impacted by gun violence. On the federal level, over 40 bills have been introduced, though none have made it out of committee. While many of them will fail, they have opened up the national conversation and as a by-product have finely defined politicians’ priorities and their stance on issues important to Americans’ safety.

Sandy Hook

I have been saying since December that Sandy Hook was a tipping point, an event so tragic that it woke up the very large “middle” of America. It got the attention of the folks who, until December 14th had not given much consideration one way or the other about the effects of gun violence in this country, about whether the 18th Century Second Amendment really does give people the right to own any weapon whatsoever. That large group in the middle found, in 2012 that they are no longer safe going to the cafes, bars, shopping malls, churches, theaters and even workplaces and schools where they expected a modicum of safety.

They are paying attention now, and it will be that group, not the pro-gun side or the pro-gun regulation side that defines the debate, that defines the tolerance of America to violence and that will decide the solutions and outcomes.

The ninety day marker gives us time to pause to see what has happened, what is happening now and what we can expect to happen as the subject of gun violence is on the table. Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, over 2680 Americans have been killed by gun violence. At least 181 of them were under 20 years old…46 of them under 12 years old. There have been over 2050 deaths in 2013 alone insuring that, yet again we will have over 10,000 Americans killed by gun violence. And that does not include the near 20,000 that will die by suicide with firearms.

Also, in the past ninety days the country has seen states like New York, Colorado and Maryland define what a state is willing to do. In all three states there have been boycotts and threats by their gun manufacturing industry to “pull out”. Legislators have proven in these states that the public health and public safety outweigh economic threats.

But there is another comparison that is not as favorable. The US Congress, post 9/11 acted within six weeks to implement the Patriot Act. No matter your opinion of the Act, it was implemented to address the massacre of 2996 Americans – just ONE THIRD as many that are killed each and every year by gun violence in this country. And as a snarky aside, not a single one of the millions of AR-15 owners in this country was able to defend again the horrible violence of just 19 men.

Yesterday Michael Moore reminded Americans that that these watershed events; tipping points define change in America.

In 1955 photographs of Emmett Till’s shot, mutilated, barbed wire tied body were shown to the world by a mother that wanted everyone to see what bigotry and hatred did to her 14 year old boy. From that event the Civil Rights movement began.

In 1965 we saw photographs of African American men in Selma, Alabama being brutally beaten, hosed and sprayed with tear gas for marching across a bridge. Five months later the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and signed by a very pissed off Lyndon Johnson.

In 1968 and 1969 the world saw photographs of three severe acts of terror, 500 civilians at My Lai in Vietnam who were killed by US soldiers, a prisoner shot in the head by a South Vietnamese general and in June 1968, Robert Kennedy lay dead from an assassin’s bullet. The first two events turned the tide of support for the Viet Nam war. The third, Senator Kennedy’s death brought, just four months later the passage and signing of the Gun Control Act of 1968, a bill that had been languishing in Congress prior to the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

vietnam

Congress and statehouses across the country have the opportunity to address the problems of gun violence NOW. They have the obligation to do what is within their power to make this country a safer place; a safer place to go shopping, to go to church, to go out to dinner, to go to the movies, to go to work, to take our nation’s children to school.

We have the ability to change, to evolve as we look at the necessary solutions to end gun violence in this country. The roadblocks are many, from paranoia that a tyrannical government will need stopped, that hordes of undefined marauders will come over the hill to pillage the homestead, that regulations are the first step of confiscation and a [yet again] undefined New World Order…and we know who liked confiscation and a New World Order…so it must be true.

Nobody is talking about confiscation of guns, of gutting the Second Amendment, of eliminating the 300 million guns that are privately owned in this country. What is being proposed is simply regulating processes that occur with gun ownership, to get stolen guns off the streets, to keep folks who can’t legally buy guns from running down to the nearest gun show and diving into the copious gun buffets to get all they want.

It will happen when folks look at that which is proposed, not abstract hypotheticals and paranoid mental exercises of the many gun blogs which conveniently make money off of the angst and turmoil that they help propagate. It will happen when all sides of the conversation focus on reality rather than hyperbola.

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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Pillars of Conservative Movement Historically Support Gun Control

A common theme in the current debate on gun violence is that it is only liberals that are for controlling firearms and that it is President Obama leading the way as the only President to have ever considered gun control. History clearly suggests otherwise.

Gun Control…the catchall phrase which can mean everything from confiscation to requiring an ID to buy a firearm, depending upon who is trying to define the term is historically the result of an act of gun violence that makes the country stop and reevaluate its priorities regarding guns, gun violence and the role of government in affecting the safety of society.

St Valentines Day

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Chicago, 1929

The National Firearms Act of 1934 was the result of gangster violence in the 1920s and early 1930s…punctuated by bootlegging wars in places like Chicago and Kansas City to the hundreds of bank robberies of John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly and Bonnie and Clyde. The common denominators…extreme gun violence and machine guns.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was the direct result of five events…the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr and the Supreme Court ruling on Haynes v United States which negated part of the 1934 Act. After the two very high profile assassinations in 1968, passage of the bill was pushed by an outraged public and much of the 1968 bill was supported by the NRA.

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Robert Kennedy Assassinated, 1968 – Ron Bennett Photography

In 1972 George Wallace, southern governor who was campaigning to be President was shot during a campaign rally and left wheelchair bound. President Richard Nixon, himself on the campaign trail was outraged that, yet again the political process was impacted by gun violence. The Washington Post reports that, post assassination attempt Nixon “proposed ridding the market of Saturday night specials, contemplated banning handguns altogether and refused to pander to gun owners by feigning interest in their weapons.”

Nixon is quoted from his copious Oval Office tapes, this from May 16, 1972…

“I don’t know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house.” “The kids usually kill themselves with it and so forth.” He asked why “can’t we go after handguns, period?”

Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell spoke to the question of getting rid of the cheap, $20 Saturday Night Specials by saying “No, the gun lobby’s against any incursion into the elimination of firearms.”

Exactly one month later, June 17, 1972 burglars working for the Nixon “Committee to Re-elect the President” broke into the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee. Within a month President Nixon’s priorities had changed completely… fighting for his legacy, his presidency, and his freedom.

This was not, however Nixon’s first commentary on guns. In a 1969 conversation with his then staff speech writer William Safire Nixon said “Guns are an abomination.”

Long time outspoken Republican William Safire, in 1999 working as the libertarian-conservative voice of the New York Times wrote regarding the Second Amendment

“[A] right that sometimes isn’t is no right at all. After a great job on the First Amendment, the amending Founders botched the Second.

The intellectually lazy will say, ”Let the Supremes sort it out.” I say, let the people decide a political issue. Either we’re serious about our right to gun ownership or we’re serious about our need for gun control.

Here’s how to fix a flawed amendment that is the source of so much confusion: Repeal its ambiguous preamble. Let some member of Congress introduce an amendment to strike the words before the comma in the Second Amendment.”

Jim Brady Shot

James Brady shot during Reagan assassination attempt, March 1981

In March 1981, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, Ronald Reagan met an assassin’s bullet. It was not successful in killing Ronald Reagan, or his Press Secretary James Brady. It was, however the action that directly led to the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban…led by Republicans James and Sarah Brady. The bill is commonly known as the Brady Bill in James Brady’s honor. Further, it was advocated by Ronald Reagan who said in a March 28th speech to George Washington University and a March 29th editorial in the New York Times…

“Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics. This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes and assaults committed with handguns.

This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them. If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.”

Reagan further addressed his philosophy on gun violence by saying.

“California, which has a 15-day waiting period that I supported and signed into law [Mulford Act] while Governor, stopped nearly 1,800 prohibited handgun sales in 1989.”

In 2002, post 9/11 William F. Buckley, Jr. framed his thoughts on gun control with this…

“The assertion of a right at ridiculous lengths — the absolutization of it, in the manner of the American Civil Liberties Union — is a way of undermining it. If the Constitution says you can say anything you want under any circumstances, then you can shout “fire” in a crowded movie theater. If you have the right to remain silent in all circumstances, then you can decline to give testimony vital to another citizen’s freedom and rights. If you insist that a citizen has the right to own a machine gun, you discredit his right to own a pistol or a rifle.”

Buckley’s position is summarized that he is opposed to gun control, but cannot fathom the NRA’s opposition to banning so-called assault rifles.

Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, James Brady, William Safire, William F. Buckley, Jr. These are not left wing, liberal haters of guns. They are pillars of the Republican Party, of the conservative movement in the United States. They support the Second Amendment and they are realistic enough to understand that gun control – in one of its many fluid definitions is necessary to stop gun violence, necessary to strengthen the fabric of American society.

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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Rand Paul Drone Drone Misses Point

Senate Republicans Present Alternative 2013 Budget Proposal

The Rand Paul filibuster about drones boiled down to a simple question…whether the White House believed it had the authority to kill Americans on U.S. soil using an unmanned drone.

Drones are a hot topic for Libertarians, as well as for conservatives whose goal is to make Obama look bad, no matter the cost. To that end Rand Paul spent 12 hours pandering to that libertarian itch. The paranoia that, if we are using armed drones against targets in Pakistan against terrorists, we must certainly be thinking about using them on US soil against terrorists…or maybe Jane Fonda. Logic leaping should be an Olympic sport.

But let’s look at what the subject really is in its most simple form…drone attacks on US soil [Paul’s phrase]. Since the “targets” of such an attack are somewhat nebulous…are they terrorists, protesters, militia, Jane Fonda…let’s look at the hypothetical by looking at the process and see where Rand Paul’s question fails simple critical thinking.

Just how would this attack happen? Bad guy identified, located and target acquired. From this point a policy would trigger an attack by the unmanned, armed drone and – done. That’s pretty simple on the surface but let’s look deeper.

First, the drone weapons’ system is not “unmanned”, though the drone itself is. The personnel flying the drone are certainly alive…and the decision making is certainly human. BUT…why would anyone chose a drone to task against bad guys in the United States? We use drones in places where we don’t want to put boots on the ground, where we don’t want to overfly. We use drones because we don’t want to risk our troops or other personnel. Those conditions do not exist on the soil of the United States. We have civilian law enforcement, we have due process, we have scores of ways to ARREST bad guys here in the US…there is no logic to stand-off attack with a military weapon.

Today I looked up while going to lunch to see a pair of Apache helicopters flying from Bluegrass Airport to Lexington Bluegrass Army Depot for electronics and toy installation. Hmmm… armed Apaches, with 30mm depleted uranium chain guns and pods for multiple air-to-surface missiles such as the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

Then I thought about the thousands of F14, F15, F16, F18, A10, F22, B2 and B52 that fly over US skies each and every day, for the last sixty years…and most are fully armed as they have to be ready to go to hot conditions at any moment. We have platforms, on both aircraft and ships that can launch a tomahawk cruise missile from up to 1300 miles away.

Then I look a bit back in history, during the cold war. We had nuclear armed B52, B58, B1 flying at each and every moment, ready to air-fuel and go to the Soviet Union or China or where ever the threat was. We even have permanently deposited nuclear bombs on the soil of America thanks to accidents in the 1960s involving B52s and B58s and their nuclear payloads.

The point…there is absolutely zero difference in POLICY in use of a drone than use of any one of the other, many military assets from the past 100 years. The reason it is not done is because it is against the Constitution, against every military doctrine in US military history, and against the many laws in place that keep military assets from civilian use.

Each and every president has had a “theoretical opportunity” to use military assets against civilians. And Paul should know that. But he doesn’t…or just wants to expose his paranoia to the world that drones are somehow different, or that he doesn’t trust the system of government which he spent $8,000,000 joining.

The assertions made by Paul that we would suddenly use drones against US citizens is based on the partisan premise that somehow THIS president is different than all other presidents who have had the same set of powers, the same options. Yet nothing Obama has done has even remotely proven that premise.

Put simply…Rand Paul tried to raise an argument for which there is not a reality. The concepts about which he worries have been present for decades, just not the shiny bauble of a drone that is currently so upsetting to many of his followers.

So the question was asked and the question was answered…all without the fundamental reality that the policies of drones, or any other military asset, and killing of US citizens on US soil have been around for years…decades. It is really simple but it does require critical thinking skills. Pandering to your base – not so much.
rand militia 1Rand Paul at 2010 Kentucky Gun Rights Rally with the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters Militia
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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


More Gun Laws = Less Gun Deaths… JAMA

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There is one absolute when it comes to the defense of gun rights by the vocal gun enthusiast community…more guns mean a safer America. I have heard it put another way, “An armed society is a polite society.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Joseph McCarthy apologist and author of Beyond This Horizon.

In principle it sounds right…and it works out well in science fiction, in movies were the script is crafted to support the perception. But how does it work in reality? How does the philosophy of guns fare when placed under the harsh spotlight of statistics, historical trends and analysis?

Would a study, over time with the objective to evaluate whether more firearm laws in a state are associated with fewer firearm fatalities draw the conclusion that “An armed society is a polite society” or that a regulated population was statistically safer. It should be pretty easy since statistics are available for murder and aggravated assault from all 50 states and the laws and regulations governing firearms are also available from each state.

The Journal of the American Medical Association this week released a four year study [2007-2010] of both gun regulations in all fifty states and a statistical analysis of gun violence data from those same states during that same time period. The study BOTH takes into account the total gun violence [murder, injury, suicide] AND gun violence confined to murder and gun injuries.

The JAMA study, through research from Boston Children’s Hospital drew the following conclusion…

“A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually.”

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If the JAMA study was alone in its conclusions you could possibly draw a conclusion that either their analysis was flawed or the data was not representative of factual reality. So, let’s look at another study, from The Atlantic which drew the following similar conclusion…

“While the causes of individual acts of mass violence always differ, our analysis shows fatal gun violence is less likely to occur in richer states with more post-industrial knowledge economies, higher levels of college graduates, and tighter gun laws. Factors like drug use, stress levels, and mental illness are much less significant than might be assumed.”

JAMA Map

Once we have reviewed both the JAMA study and The Atlantic study we begin to see a well established pattern…that tighter gun regulations instituted in states have fewer gun related violence. We see this internationally, when comparing gun violence in the United States against countries such as Germany, Japan, Canada, Great Britain or Australia, where gun deaths per 100,000 are as low as 1/100th of the US homicide rate by firearms.

Homicide Rates

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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Mexican Standoff: NRA – Manufacturers – Police Departments – Gun Owners – American Public

Shot Glass 7

“Law-abiding gun owners.” That is the collective that many in the gun enthusiast’s community would like everyone to believe defines their unity. They want to project a singular voice to fight those who they believe are “taking their rights”. But they are not unified. They don’t have an across the board message that defines their fight. And now, they are beginning to draw lines to fight each other as owners, fora, lobbyists, manufacturers, pundits and celebrity spokesgoons [I’m looking at you Nugent] posture to sell their particular case.

The subject…expanded background checks. It seems simple enough. Having each and every gun sale, whether from a gun shop, a gun show, the parking lot behind the gun show, an internet driven face to face sale in a Walmart parking lot or a transfer between friends verified. The process would drastically cut down on “off the books” sales that criminals use to buy and sell weapons, usually stolen from “law-abiding gun owners” or from straw purchasers. It seems simple…

The NRA drafted their opinion on the subject with a simple statement…

“We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.

This isn ‘t new, or a change of position, or a concession. I’ve been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to news interviews and press appearances.” Wayne LaPierre, May 27, 1999

Well, that was their statement in 1999. Now leap forward 13 years and the NRA spokesman…wait, could it be the SAME Wayne LaPierre has a slightly different view…

“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.” Wayne LaPierre, January 30, 2013

And the NRA released a more defined statement from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox in January 2013…

“NRA does NOT support universal background checks and is not working with [Senator Joe] Manchin [D-WV] to implement this type of legislation.  NRA opposes, and will continue to oppose, universal background checks and registration schemes.” Chris W. Cox, NRA Chief Lobbyist, January 25, 2013

And by slightly different view, I mean opposite. Then again, in 1999 LaPierre presented the NRA position, “We think it’s reasonable to support the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act.” In 2012 he said “Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

Besides the conflicts between the NRA and the NRA, the gun manufacturers’ lobby further shows that fracture to the unified front. National Shooting Sports Foundation president Steve Sanetti said in an interview…

“From the commercial side, we’re already there, and we’ve been there, and we were the ones that have been the strongest proponents of an effective, complete background check.” Steve Sanetti, NSSF, March, 2013

In the day since the Washington Post ran the story with the direct quote from the NSSF president, the NSSF have been trying to backtrack neither explicitly refuting their statement nor its intent.

Looking further into the fracture of opinion within the gun community…the January 9, 2013 CBS/NYT survey shows that 85% of NRA households support background checks, in direct opposition to the NRA’s stated position.

To further contribute to the fracture within the gun enthusiast community, one group of gun manufacturers and dealers has pushed an attempt at a boycott of police in states that enact gun regulations. That has been met by a group of large city mayors and police chiefs who are telling gun manufacturers that they will focus their lucrative police department gun contracts only to manufacturers, as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak put it “that share our values and support our strategies.”

Removing the conflicts from the big lobbying organizations and manufacturers sales to city and federal governments, we still have THE “gun owner”. Unified except that some gun owners represent an intractable position on gun regulations, some represent an understanding that some regulation is required to maintain a reasonable society, and some just want to hunt and target shoot…unfazed by the whirling dervish that is this gun violence conversation.

So the Mexican Standoff is complete. NRA v NRA v NSSF v gun manufacturers v government checkbooks v NRA members v liberal gun owners v hunters v police chiefs v the American public.

Mexican Standoff

“I’ve got a big suspicion ’bout ammunition. I never forget to duck.” Jimmy Buffett, 1996

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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.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


A Liberal Gun Owner’s View, From 50 Years of Shooting

Something today triggered some reflections of my, and society’s gun use through the last seven decades. This will be an opinion piece, not my normal writing laced with statistics and a collection of links to “prove” my points. It is just my opinion from observation and participation.

I was in my gun safe today, not for anything firearms related but to stow the mighty Pentax 6X7 camera. To get its case to fit I had to move one gun, a Mossberg Model 46a 22 rifle that my dad bought back in the mid 1930s for $14.00. It was the gun that I used to learn to shoot – when I was five, shooting rats at the garbage dump on Pine Mountain in Harlan County, Kentucky.

I bring that up because I started shooting during the Eisenhower administration, 1960, about twenty years longer ago than the median age of Americans [35.3]. And I bring it up to point out just how much gun ownership has changed since. Also, I don’t mean to imply that, because of my history of shooting since I was five that I am an awesome shot and the end all of gun knowledge. I most certainly am not.

When my father took me to Pine Mountain to shoot, it was a Sunday, after lunch tradition…with several of my new found kindergarten friends and me, along with our dads, well, we were along with them. At the time there was not pro football, NASCAR or baseball on television and it was one of the few “things” that dads and their sons could do together [scrubbing the coal dust deposited by passing coal trains from the side of the house with Spic ‘n Span was the less fun choice].

Eight or so years later my shooting had moved to the Boy Scout camps…Camp Blanton in Harlan and Camp Pellissippi outside Knoxville where my uncle – Coach Charlie “Big Man” Davis was camp director. And it had taken on a more adult “training”, both for safety and because our scout leaders and fathers saw a looming Viet Nam in many of our futures. So we learned military M1 rifles, M14 and later M16 assault rifles, compliments of the Kentucky and Tennessee National Guards and their fine instructors.

The men who taught us were men forged by war, having fought at Normandy, at Anzio, Okinawa, the Battle of the Bulge and the younger guys…Chosan in Korea. They knew firearms and had used them in anger. And in talking with many of them…they were different than today’s gun owner. They didn’t have 10, 20, 50 guns. They didn’t talk about their guns; they didn’t define their lives with the possession of their guns. A gun was a tool, albeit a very violent tool and they taught respect for the gun and to always be responsible in actions and decisions. I was taught that you never pull a gun unless you intend to shoot and never shoot unless you intend to kill. That philosophy was driven into me by my father, not to insure that I shot quick but to the contrary, that any decision to kill should be extremely deliberate and well thought out and not an act of bravado or impulse.

After Scout Camp shooting there was the Harlan County Sportsmen’s League…the only real range in Harlan County. And it required membership…thank you Arvetta Middleton. With membership came a membership card to the Sportsmen’s League and another to the NRA.

The point…there were not “gun rights defenders”, even from the pages of American Rifleman, the NRA magazine for members. And the NRA, through its magazine supported the Gun Control Act of 1968, much as they had supported the National Firearms Act of 1934. “The National Rifle Association has been in support of workable, enforceable gun control legislation since its very inception in 1871.” – NRA VP Franklin Orth, March, 1968.

We were taught that we had a Constitutional right to have guns…it was always taught that the right was for our personal protection and as a skill and discipline, because we had, in our history protected ourselves from foreign government. It was never… NEVER… N.E.V.E.R. taught that it was to fight our own perceived tyrannical government. Maybe they had too much faith in the American voter, that we would always use the ballot box to change that which we did not approve. And they certainly never suggested it was for overthrowing a duly elected government, just because the losing side didn’t like what the winning side was doing.

But that is where we are now…the fringe gun owner wagging the dog for all gun owners. While I promised no statistics…here are just a couple. There are 313 million Americans, 60-80 million gun owners and just 4.5 million members of the NRA and the many gun fora. The wagging is coming from just SIX percent of gun owners, from ONE POINT FOUR percent of Americans.

So when folks argue that “you aren’t a gun owner if you support regulations” or “you aren’t a real gun owner if you vote to let tyrants take our guns”…you are arguing from a distinct minority, both a minority of Americans and a minority of gun owners. And that doesn’t even address that you are arguing that a contemporary interpretation of the Second Amendment is more important than life and general welfare.

I was taught by those who supported reason, those who supported rational solutions for problems of society. I was taught by those who represented the majority view of gun owners…and I still believe that majority holds.  So when you ask…”how can I support regulations”…I have to answer that is what every generation of gun owner has done in the past, supported regulations to make society safer, and in an indirect fashion show gun owners as responsible, well thought of citizens…not the intransigent gun crazies that now “speak” for other gun owners, without our permission.

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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.

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