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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Let's Talk About Guns

Category: Guns
Posted: 07/20/12 23:30, Edited: 07/20/12 23:57

by Dave Mindeman

I don't want to talk about the 2nd Amendment, per se, in the wake of Aurora's tragedy....but I do want to talk about guns.

Whenever tragic events of gun violence occur, we are not allowed to talk about it in any intelligent way. The NRA goes into full alert looking for the proper talking points that can steer us clear of any substantive discussion on firearms....putting all emphasis on protecting the rights of American citizens to buy any type of lethal weapon they choose.

The Second Amendment protections have been warped into absurd dimensions. The implications range from kill or be killed protection of property to absolute overthrow of any government entity.....with little allowance for any middle ground of any kind.

But as we look to Aurora, I am not convinced that gun rights extend to the legal purchase of multiple weapons in a few weeks time. Or to the purchase of 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the internet. Or to the purchase of semi-automatic or automatic weapons of any sort. Or the purchase of head to toe body armor.

I want there to be a discussion of why, in America, that is all possible.

I also want to know a few other things. First I have to say that the Aurora police captain and his squad were phenomenal in this situation. At his press conference, the chief noted that he had dozens of officers on the scene in a matter of minutes. I don't think the response time could have been any better under the circumstances. But knowing that, how can we allow the legal purchase of a type of weapon that in the span of those same minutes, would allow a lone gunman to kill or wound 70 people. One out of every three people that were in that theater was shot. One out of three!

Obviously this person was disturbed. He wanted to create a horrific scene. But do we have to make it easy for such a person?

We used to have an assault weapons ban. It was passed in 1994 under the Clinton administration. But in order to garner enough support, it had a 10 year sunset provision. The NRA and its sympathizers made that 10 year limit stick and any attempt to renew it nurtured the wrath of the all weapons lobby.

I don't wish to throw out the 2nd Amendment. Can't. Guns will be legal....I have accepted that. But this ridiculous frenzy of expanding the allowance and the use of any and all weapons has got to end. We will never end gun violence, but we can put rational and reasonable restrictions on what can be bought and who can buy it.

I am not naive enough to think that restrictions are going to stop gun purchases. Illegal sales will always have their day. But we are moving into a frightening world of 'why bother with illegal'. Everything that anyone wants to puchase is sitting in a glass case in some retail outlet, just waiting for your cash and maybe a quick permit.

I am also not naive enough to think that people who want to kill other people can be stopped by gun restrictions. I know that is not likely. But it will stop some. Think about Aurora. If that gunman could not purchase an automatic weapon, how many people would have been spared? If he had only had a revolver, maybe the police would have gotten to the scene quickly enough to minimize the carnage. Restrictions won't stop the violence, but it could reduce the destruction. At this point in time, maybe that is all we can do. But then we should do it...not look for excuses to avoid a hard subject.

We have had way too many tragic events like the one in Aurora. Virginia Tech. Columbine. Tucson. We only need to speak of the location. We know what happened.

Each time we mourn. We say sympathetic words. And each time we avoid the hard truth. Each time we avoid the subject until time has moved on.

We shouldn't let that happen again. There needs to be a discussion. A rational and realistic discussion. These tragic events need a conversation that leads to some kind of resolution...even if only a partial one.

Let's finally talk about guns. For real.

Note: Yes, I will take the flak from those who believe any discussion is too soon. It will always be too soon. Healing takes time. But there needs to be justice as well. And purpose. These things must end and the dialogue must begin despite attempts from the gun lobby to silence us all.
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Are Discussions About Guns Off Limits?

Category: Guns
Posted: 04/13/12 16:20, Edited: 04/13/12 16:28

by Dave Mindeman

It is disturbing that the NRA has such a lock on the country's political process that no politician dares utter the phrase "gun control". It is especially disturbing when the killing of Trayvon Martin cries out for a substantive debate on Stand Your Ground or Castle Doctrine laws....laws that the NRA has been pushing for some time.

We absolutely need to talk about this. But no one, no Democrat, no Republican, nobody wants to risk the ire of the powerful NRA lobby.

Ever since Charlton Heston warned us that the only way they could take away his guns was out of his "cold, dead hands".....the National Rifle Association has threatened, bought, and handcuffed every politician they come in contact with.

President Obama hasn't made a move on restricting gun laws....yet the NRA is targeting him (pun intended) as unfriendly to the 2nd Amendment.

Over the past few years we have had tragedy after tragedy. A number of high school shootings, Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords...and yet gun restriction discussion is squelched before it begins.

Since 2008, Florida has had 11 cases that invoked the Stand Your Ground law. All but one of those cases had a person die.

Three of those cases are still pending. One ended in a full acquittal. In 2 of those cases, immunity was granted. In the other 5, no charges were even brought. In only 2 of these cases was there a robbery or theft involved. The others involved arguments that got out of hand, a bar shooting, and one case of road rage.

No convictions for the shooter.

Have we become immune to violence? Have we become desensitized to the idea that guns are everywhere?

Just about everyone is OK with 2nd Amendment protections. But to expand gun rights to the point of condoning vigilante justice and shootouts in the streets is absolutely absurd.

We are handcuffing law enforcement. When George Zimmerman decided that waiting for the police was not the best option to take when confronting a stranger....when he thinks it is OK to ignore warnings to not get involved and take matters into his own hands..... then we have a problem.

If George Zimmerman had not been carrying a gun, he would have waited for police. If George Zimmerman had not been carrying a gun, he wouldn't have confronted Trayvon Martin. If George Zimmerman had not been carrying a gun, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

Isn't that worth a discussion?
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Dayton Vetoes Gun Bill - Thank You

Category: Guns
Posted: 03/06/12 04:32, Edited: 03/06/12 04:33

by Dave Mindeman

Governor Dayton vetoed the "Castle Doctrine" Gun bill today at the urging of Minnesota Law Enforcement organizations. I am sure that the NRA will be "targeting" Dayton because of this.... when, and if, he decides to run for re-election.

Gun advocates seem to have adopted the idea that the answer to gun violence is simply more guns everywhere. The shooting up north, in a Grand Marais courtroom, that nearly killed an attorney led to calls for prosecutors to be allowed to carry weapons themselves.

This Castle Doctrine type legislation wants the general public to have a freer hand at defending their property with gun violence. The answer to all our problems, it would seem, is to have vigilante justice.

I can't help but think about how many foolish incidents, how many pranks, could turn into a deadly confrontation.

Kids T-P-ing the front yard tree. Halloween pranks perceived as a home invasion. A stranger looking for help after a car breakdown has to consider a nervous gun owner behind the door.

Homeowners still can have their guns without the Castle Doctrine. The only difference without it is that they are still held accountable for good judgment. Your first choice is not to shoot. It has to be; or it will be impossible for law enforcement to sort out these dangerous situations.

After all, if a policeman or policewoman arrives on a scene and sees guns drawn on all sides, how can they know who is at fault? And if a homeowner is pointing a weapon at someone, how can an officer make any instant assessment other than that the person with the gun is the danger?

Our police officers have enough things to account for without adding random gun threats from people who feel that brandishing weapons fulfills their need to protect property. The officers would be dealing with people who place themselves in these situations without actual training about making good judgments under duress.

Withdrawing to a safer place or calling 911 are not acts of cowardice. They are acts of a responsible citizen.

I can't think of anything I own that is valuable enough for anyone, including myself, to die for.

Gun ownership is a protected right but it doesn't have to be expanded indefinitely. The NRA needs to back off. I prefer to stand with the police.

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