Thursday, April 9, 2020
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Addressing this Rebellion Against Anticipated Virginia Gun Laws

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This will be appearing in a couple of newspapers in my red congressional district (VA-06), under the heading, Guns and the Defense of the...

Take…Er, Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, Son

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Cross posted from Vox Fairfax Johnny Cash’s soulful ballad Don’t Take Your Guns to Town is not about gun violence but is a metaphor of innocents who...

Eileen Bedell: Common Sense on Guns

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Originally published in Daily Kos Eileen Bedell, Democratic candidate for the 7th District congressional seat, is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to our...

Wednesday News: Trump Descends to “Depths of Indecency;” GOP Takes “Fringe”...

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by Lowell Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, August 10. Also, check out the video of Tim...

Flashback to 2009: Virginia Tea Partier Suggests Use of “Bullet Box”...

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Donald Trump's insane, dangerous comments today had me flashing back to this post, from July 16, 2009 (in which Virginia Tea Partier Catherine Crabill...

The 2nd Amendment Reincarnated, and What Happens Next? Part II

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In Part One we traced the17th century English roots of the Second Amendment and how they were modified in the 18th century by one of our Founders, James Madison, who, in the American Bill of Rights, crafted the Second Amendment mainly to protect the Southern states' militias (frequently used as "slave patrols"), making it yet another of those delicate political compromises which underpin our Constitution.

HEIRS OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT
In the 21st century, the Amendment's "well regulated Militia" and "right to keep and bear Arms," has been broadened from a "collective right" into a demand for an "individual right" to unlimited firepower in the hands of private citizens, mostly thanks to lobbying by the National Rifle Association. The unspoken hidden subset of this individual right is the right to insurrection (against the national government). Without the insurrection theory there can be no rationale for a civilian in America to own an arsenal of assault weapons with huge magazines.

I believe it is easy to see the continuance of those Southern state militias, that is slave patrols, in the night riders of the KKK, and in most of the skin-head militias today; the insurrectionist theory is in full bloom among today's states' righters. They vigorously deny any racism, but are clearly the heirs of the plantation culture of the original states' righters in Philadelphia in 1787 in their deep suspicion of the federal government. For most of them, their new home is in the Republican Party and its fringes.

The 2nd Amendment: Where Did It Come From, What Does It...

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PART ONE: THE SLAVE PATROLS

Today's American NRA gun enthusiasts and their opponents, gun control advocates, are parsing every word (and comma) of the Second Amendment to make their cases, and thus determine public safety policy. We are even presented with re-written history and made-up historical narratives, based on twenty-seven words:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

To most Americans, these words conjure up visions of minutemen rushing to the defense of liberty at Lexington and Concord; it is assumed that must be why the Founders inserted a "well-regulated" militia in The Bill of Rights. This misleading myth has cooked in the American collective consciousness for years, reflecting  what Dr. Carl Bogus, writing in the 1998 UC-Davis Law Review called the judicial  "collective rights" theory, in which the Second Amendment "grants people a right to keep and bear arms only within the state-regulated militia."

Preposterous Proposals Proliferate

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We're living a cartoon. One character puts up his dukes and the adversary pulls out brass knuckles, then escalation each in turn through a knife, pistol, rifle, machinegun, cannon, tank... It goes where arming and armoring schools goes: no constructive advantage. Cost without benefit other than political cover.

Governor McDonnell legitimizing the concept of arming more personnel inside schools demonstrates his narrow experience and linear, attritionist approach to the issues raised by the violence at Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech. This is understandable. As an army intelligence officer raised and trained in the era of a set piece battlespace, he is comfortable with templates and minor tactics against local threats. His cohort, Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13th), lacks even that experience with conceptual threats. Marshall's hobbies, weight lifting, gardening, and photography, might give him time to contemplate but do nothing to qualify him to defend our children or us. But both of these fellows do demonstrate the ability to push hot buttons even if they are unconcerned about the consequences they initiate.

Nattering nabobs such as them attract attention. Some of that from Democrats who either think they must say something or are afraid of saying nothing even if they have nothing to add. At least the Republicans are expressing a core value, no matter how wrongheaded it is. The Democrats on board with this idea sound as hollow as their self-serving position. Disappointing.

Reducing the security of children to talking points about arming teachers and adding resource officers limits the debate, ignores the broader issues, and potentially places children in substantially greater danger. Look, I have the greatest respect for teachers but they are not public safety employees and many are unsuited for this responsibility. Adding a resource officer to the soup definitely secures the few square feet occupied at any given moment, but has McDonnell, Marshall, or any of them actually been inside a school lately? Those resource officers are there for and deal with a lot of student issues not related to invasion; issues that do not occur in elementary schools. Unless we go back to one room schoolhouses, these ideas are just lipstick on a pig.  

Now Is the Time for That Discussion About Guns

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Let's begin that discussion about guns: the current application of our Second Amendment protects the proliferation of weapons. At the time it was written, it was damn difficult to kill with them, though Aaron Burr managed not long thereafter. That amendment was never meant to aid and abet carnage.

I don't remember not owning a firearm. My first was given as a Christmas present when I was young; a Savage over and under .22/.410. My father instilled the greatest respect for firearms in me. He locked them away and I did not have access unless there was a purpose. Later I learned that upon his return to college from the Pacific theater and engagements on Tarawa and Saipan, he'd kept a handgun at his bedside. One night late, a spring roller blind in the bedroom snapped open and by the time he awoke he had locked, loaded, and drawn down on my mother who'd jerked up next to him in bed. He'd nearly killed her. Weapons in their home remained secured after that.

As a college student, I carried a weapon wherever I travelled. I did not have one with me the morning in Richmond when three fellows with sawed off shotguns came into the convenience store near Carytown where I worked. Thinking back, I don't think it would have helped the situation much, even if I'd open carried. After all, they were only exercising their own open carry rights.

You'll find no one more rationally and sentimentally supportive of the second amendment than I. But all this silliness, false bravado, and acting out about what gun rights mean misses the problem it has created: we have guaranteed access and availability of firearms to every individual regardless of their capacity, intent, or history. And our own Governor McDonnell is on record as supporting "the more the merrier" approach to provision. This outcome and attitude is sinfully irresponsible and far from the intent of the framers.  

Terrorists Can Buy Guns Say Republicans

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Anyone on the FBI terrorist watch list can be prevented from getting on an airplane, but he definitely can buy a gun, even an AK-47 assault weapon, without restraint say Congressional Republicans, according to a column by Gail Collins in today's New York Times, where she says "There seems to be a strong sentiment in Congress that the only constitutional right suspected terrorists have is the right to bear arms." She quotes  Senator Lindsey Graham (SC, R), who spoke in opposition to a bill offered by Senator Frank Lutenberg (NJ, D) which would allow the government to stop gun sales to people on the watch list, just as it can already do to people with felony convictions.