Dear Senator Portman: Regarding Gun Control...

Don't ask why it's taken so long for me to write. Stipulated that I've been involved in "clicktivist" petitions about gun control and perhaps written my representatives here and there in the wake of past mass shootings. Somehow, this last incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High just GOT to me. That and learning that Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman has an "A" rating with the National Rifle Association pretty well broke my camel's back.

In any case, the following just went out both to Portman's DC address by snail mail and through his Senate website.

========================

Senator Portman:

Ordinarily when writing a letter such as this, I would duplicate it across all my representatives.  In this case, however – in the case of the issue of gun control – I am writing solely to you, because frankly your record sticks out like a sore thumb.  Your opposition to any form of gun control or regulation, particularly in the face of tragedies which started long before Sandy Hook and continue with Parkland, Florida, staggers belief.

Worse, it is illogical considering both the Second Amendment and technological progress since that amendment was written.  At the time the Constitution was penned, it took a skilled marksman half a minute or longer to fire, reload, and fire again.  In the 21st century, that same action with a semiautomatic weapon takes mere milliseconds to accomplish.  The threat of a single musket 250 years ago is miniscule by comparison with modern-day firepower such as an AR-15, yet our government acts as though those weapons are equivalent when they are clearly not.  Our patterns of thought regarding firearms and the law MUST change, or this trend will likely continue unabated.

As regards change in thought, I know you are capable of such.  When your son, Will came out as gay, your attitude towards the LGBT community changed, because all at once you had skin in that game.  With that as backdrop, would it take him or someone else close to you being a victim of yet another shooting before you can recognize that laws written two centuries ago are not adequate to the current status quo?

Someone once said, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”  We have had a horrendous tattoo of mass shooting after mass shooting, and nothing other than feckless “thoughts and prayers” have been offered to salve the grief of those who have had to face those tragedies head-on.  What we require right now is strong, courageous ACTION to stave off what seems to be becoming a new and unacceptable normal.  Please don’t blow me off as another gun control nut, and please don’t respond with a condescending form letter, expressing your opposition, while more children and adults die from gun violence.  I’m asking you to be part of the change this country needs, and DO something, before one or more of your constituents becomes a headline.

Sincerely,

Loren C. Miller, Jr.

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Comment by Craigart14 on March 8, 2018 at 9:31pm

Loren, the obvious answer is money.  Congressmen's salaries are about $175,000 per year, but it costs millions to win one of those jobs.  The NRA has money, GOP congress members need it.  Since the radical takeover of the NRA in 1977 by LaPierre et al, the focus of the NRA shifted from gun safety to gun sales.  The Heller case didn't help, what with the Scalia jiggery-pokery (or was it legal argle-bargle?)  Scalia wrote the majority decision, but there were two dissenting opinions.  All five of the justices who agreed with the ruling were members of the NRA.  The second amendment did not prohibit government from regulating gun ownership; many states had gun control laws.  The NRA propaganda has been going on so long that we now have a generation permeated by the myth of universal gun ownership.  It doesn't help that the GOP and the alt.right have also imbued that same generation with the fear of government violence.  Then we have Waco and Ruby Ridge and unbelievably, armed insurrectionists taking aim at federal agents at Cliven Bundy's farm.  I think the FBI played Janet Reno like a cheap fiddle to get the green light at Waco, and Ruby Ridge was badly handled as well.  The Obama administration acted with great restraint at Bundy's farm and at the Minnesota bird sanctuary, avoiding bloodbaths.  I understand why so many people distrust government, but they are delusional if they think they can win a war with the US military.

As far as I'm concerned, no militia (it's impractical to think citizen soldiers could provide their own weaponry in the National Guard), no need for guns.  Right now, people want to ban AR 15s, which I think is a good idea, but most gun violence comes from handguns.

My dad had an arsenal, but the only semi-auto guns were pistols kept in the house.  There were hunting rifles (a .370 bolt action and two .22s, one bolt and one lever), two shotguns (a pump action 20 gauge and a double barreled 12 gauge), plus two target rifles, (a bolt action .308 and a bolt action .22).  No one ever got shot; no one walked around with a pistol on his hip; and no one carried a gun in a vehicle unless out hunting.  It's all about responsible gun ownership, and it seems to me that responsible law-abiding gun owners should be happy to put up with registration, licensing, restricted ammunition, reasonably sized magazines, etc., if it helped to keep angry young men from getting access to killing machines.

Shit I'm tired.  Really tired.

Comment by Michael Penn on March 1, 2018 at 10:06pm

Loren, I tend to agree with you. What I have seen in the last year is a lot of talk and the blurring of lines to a point that one party is trying to get you to believe that they are actually the other. It's mind boggling. Trump defenders and now saying "he is coming around." They claim Obama came in with a full staff that made him appear more credible. Trump had none of that. 

What is being done right now is a move to solidify gun rights and all for the gun industry. Why is it that nobody can see this? Why does banning assault weapons come across to the fearful as gun control? 

Once they are done with the above items they can move right along into giving America the Jesus that it always wanted. (Why not? Everybody else has theirs.) We are getting closer and closer to "everybody will be happy" a little more every day. That's a Trump quote. My problem is that I see a country that has gone insane. Our nation is just as nuts as the 2016 election. 

Comment by Loren Miller on March 1, 2018 at 9:15pm

Craig, since we both know that is, in fact, the case (re: militias), one has to ask: WTF is up with all the jiggery-pokery about the 2nd Amendment ... other than to further empower gun owners and put both the Judicial and Legislative Branches of the US government squarely in the pocket of the NRA and the gun industry?

And you know ... I don't think that's a rhetorical question at all.

Comment by Craigart14 on March 1, 2018 at 8:24pm

Loren, the militia as the founders knew it is utterly obsolete and has been replaced by the National Guard.  The so-called militias of today are insurrectionists.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on March 1, 2018 at 7:42am

Re: the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act - It's funny how conservatives scream "states' rights" when they don't want laws passed [abortion, same sex marriage], but when they do want to dictate something it's "Fuck the states."

Also, nothing says "sportsman" and "recreation" and "heritage" like silencers and armor piercing bullets.

Comment by Craigart14 on February 28, 2018 at 10:28pm

Sorry about the double post.  Here's another post from Daily Kos:

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 · 1:27:46 PM EST · durrati

Hat Tip to PJEvans — 

This is what the NRA has done for us:

  • a 1986 law, the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act, explicitly forbids the government from creating a database of gun owners.
  • The Tiahrt amendment, named after Republican congressman Todd Tiahrt, requires the FBI to destroy background check data for firearms within 24 hours. Tiahrt won an NRA award for that one.
  • In 1996 the NRA lobbied a Republican-controlled congress into stripping the CDC's funding for gun violence research. The Dickey Amendment forbids the CDC to spend funds "to advocate or promote gun control."
  • In 2017 trump signed a law to revoke an Obama-era gun regulation that made it more difficult for those with mental illnesses to acquire guns. The media wasn’t allowed to attend to keep it quiet.
  • Last December House republicans passed The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 that would force states with stricter gun laws, such as New York and California, to honor out-of-state permits from states with less restrictive requirements.
  • Republicans are trying to pass the NRA-sponsored Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (the SHARE Act), which would loosen restrictions on silencers and deregulate sales of armor-piercing bullets.

Elsewhere I learned that the NRA gave $5.9 million to GOP candidates in 2016 (not including Dolt .45), while they gave about $105,000 to Dems.

Comment by Michael Penn on February 27, 2018 at 8:36am

I ask the same question, Loren. This all boils down to one thing in my book.  MONEY!  Not that I am against gun ownership but the sale of armaments is a big thing worldwide. None of this is about "your rights." It's all the making of money and this is why the NRA takes the current stand that they have. No one cares about shootings when it would take money out of your pocket to try and stop them. This is another reason that America has shooters that are "mental" when most other nations do not. 

Comment by Loren Miller on February 26, 2018 at 3:25pm

Craig, that's all fine, well, and good ... but I still come back to the opening phrase of the 2nd Amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...

And I have to ask: WHAT MILITIA???

Comment by Craigart14 on February 26, 2018 at 3:22pm

The following is taken from Chris Rodda's article, "A Debunking of Pseudo- Historian David Barton's Book on the Second Amendment" (Daily Kos, 2/19/2018) If you don't know about David Barton, he is the unofficial "historian" of the Religious Right, though he has only a BA in history from Oral Roberts. Mike Huckabee once said that every American should be forced at gunpoint to listen to David Barton. At gunpoint?

Sorry for such a long post; I have only given a couple of examples, but additional reading suggests to me that these examples are typical of American leaders' attitudes toward guns. Here, then, is Chris Rodda:

"As Justice Nathan Green, who served on the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1831-1852 made it clear in his opinion in the 1840 case of Aymette v. The State of Tennessee, bearing arms and carrying weapons were not synonymous:

'A man in pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms.'(2)

Many states enshrined in their constitutions not a right to carry weapons everywhere but only in defense of himself or the state. "This is what the Texas constitution of 1869 said:

'Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms, in the lawful defence of himself or the State, under such regulations as the Legislature may prescribe.'

And prescribe laws the Texas legislature did. In 1871, two years after adopting its 1869 constitution, Texas passed “An Act to regulate the keeping and bearing of deadly weapons.” This act prohibited:

'any person carrying on or about his person, saddle, or in his saddle bags any pistol, dirk, dagger, slung-shot, sword-cane, spear, brass-knuckles, bowie-knife, or any other kind of knife manufactured or sold for the purposes of offense or defense, unless he has reasonable grounds for fearing an unlawful attack on his person, and that such ground of attack shall be immediate and pressing; or unless having or carrying the same on or about his person for the lawful defense of the State, as a militiaman in actual service, or as a peace officer or policeman.'(28)

It also made it illegal in Texas to be armed in churches, schools, and pretty much anywhere else where people would be gathered:

'If any person shall go into any church or religious assembly, any school room, or other place where persons are assembled for amusement or for educational or scientific purposes, or into any circus, show, or public exhibition of any kind, or into a ball room, social party, or social gathering, or to any election precinct on the day or days of any election, where any portion of the people of this State are collected to vote at any election, or to any other place where people may be assembled to muster, or to perform any other public duty, (except s may be required or permitted by law,) or to any other public assembly, and shall carry about his person a pistol or other firearm, dirk, dagger, slung-shot, sword-cane, spear, brass-knuckles, bowie-knife, or any other kind of knife manufactured or sold for the purposes of offense or defense, unless an officer of the peace, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall, for the first offense, be punished by fine not less than fifty, nor more than five hundred dollars, and shall forfeit to the county the weapon or weapons so found on his person; and for every subsequent offense may, in addition to such fine and forfeiture, be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not more than ninety days.'(29)  Keep in mind, this is Texas, the undisputed bastion of progressive firearms policies.  (Just kidding.)

Whatever you might think of your "right" to carry, it's pretty clear that it was limited to service in a militia, i.e., a government controlled militia, and that Americans understood at the outset that the states had the authority to regulate gun ownership and use.

Comment by Craigart14 on February 26, 2018 at 12:10pm

In light of the public outrage over the Parkland massacre, I thought I would make an attempt to dispel some of the myths regarding the Second Amendment, so I'm posting here excerpts from Chris Rodda's article, "A Debunking of Pseudo- Historian David Barton's Book on the Second Amendment" (Daily Kos, 2/19/2018). If you don't know about David Barton, he is the unofficial "historian" of the Religious Right, though he has only a BA in history from Oral Roberts. Mike Huckabee once said that every American should be forced at gunpoint to listen to David Barton. At gunpoint?

Sorry for such a long post; I have only given a couple of examples, but additional reading suggests to me that these examples are typical of American leaders' attitudes toward guns. Italics throughout are mine.  Here, then, is Chris Rodda:

"As Justice Nathan Green, who served on the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1831-1852 made it clear in his opinion in the 1840 case of Aymette v. The State of Tennessee, bearing arms and carrying weapons were not synonymous:

'A man in pursuit of deer, elk, and buffaloes might carry his rifle every day for forty years, and yet it would never be said of him that he had borne arms.2)' "  Rodda has checked numerous sources, all of which indicate that the phrase "to bear arms" meant "to serve in the military."  It did not describe hunting.

Many states enshrined in their constitutions not an individual's right to carry weapons everywhere but only in defense of himself or the state. "This is what the Texas constitution of 1869 said:

'Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms, in the lawful defence of himself or the State, under such regulations as the Legislature may prescribe.'

And prescribe laws the Texas legislature did. In 1871, two years after adopting its 1869 constitution, Texas passed 'An Act to regulate the keeping and bearing of deadly weapons.' This act prohibited:

'any person carrying on or about his person, saddle, or in his saddle bags any pistol, dirk, dagger, slung-shot, sword-cane, spear, brass-knuckles, Bowie-knife, or any other kind of knife manufactured or sold for the purposes of offense or defense, unless he has reasonable grounds for fearing an unlawful attack on his person, and that such ground of attack shall be immediate and pressing; or unless having or carrying the same on or about his person for the lawful defense of the State, as a militiaman in actual service, or as a peace officer or policeman.(28)'

It also made it illegal in Texas to be armed in churches, schools, and pretty much anywhere else where people would be gathered:

'If any person shall go into any church or religious assembly, any school room, or other place where persons are assembled for amusement or for educational or scientific purposes, or into any circus, show, or public exhibition of any kind, or into a ball room, social party, or social gathering, or to any election precinct on the day or days of any election, where any portion of the people of this State are collected to vote at any election, or to any other place where people may be assembled to muster, or to perform any other public duty, (except s may be required or permitted by law,) or to any other public assembly, and shall carry about his person a pistol or other firearm, dirk, dagger, slung-shot, sword-cane, spear, brass-knuckles, bowie-knife, or any other kind of knife manufactured or sold for the purposes of offense or defense, unless an officer of the peace, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall, for the first offense, be punished by fine not less than fifty, nor more than five hundred dollars, and shall forfeit to the county the weapon or weapons so found on his person; and for every subsequent offense may, in addition to such fine and forfeiture, be imprisoned in the county jail for a term not more than ninety days.(29)' "

Mind you, this was Texas in 1871, a state respected even today for its progressive policies on gun control. (Just kidding.)

I highly recommend that everyone read the entire article, partly because it dispels some myths about the Second Amendment and partly because it reveals how sloppy (or perhaps dishonest) scholarship can use alterations and the removal of context to make research seem to say quite the opposite of what it actually says.  It can be found here: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/2/19/1742811/-A-Debunking-of-...

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