Tag Archives: Gun Control Act of 1968

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.

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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.


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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