Despite what Marco Rubio and his fellow NRA shills may say, gun bans are both popular and effective

One of the biggest applause lines at last night’s CNN town hall on American gun policy came from Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Attempting to make the case that an assault weapon ban wouldn’t be effective, the Senator said “you would literally have to ban every semi-automatic rifle.” He, of course, thought that members of the audience would recoil at the idea of a broad ban on all semi-automatic rifles, but, to his great surprise, the entire auditorium erupted in applause. Here, if you haven’t seen it, is the video.

After the event, the Senator, who, by the way, is among the Senate’s top 10 beneficiaries of the NRA, said that, just because the line got applause, doesn’t mean that the American people would support a ban on semi-automatic weapons. “Banning all semi-auto weapons may have been popular with the audience at #CNNTownHall,” Rubio said on Twitter, “but it is a position well outside the mainstream.”

[Rubio, as some of you may know, was also instrumental in stopping Obama’s attempt to pass bipartisan universal background check legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook murders – legislation that had the approval of 90% of Americans at the time.]

The thing is, it may not really be so far outside the mainstream. In fact, according to a 2016 poll conducted by Morning Consult and the New York Times, 63% of Americans said that they would support “banning the sale and ownership of all semi-automatic and automatic firearms” to reduce gun homicides. [62% said they would support a ban if it would reduce mass shootings.] And, just this past Tuesday, Quinnipiac released a poll showing that 67% of Americans, including 53% of gun owners, favored a ban on assault weapons. [Assault weapons, it should be noted, are a subset of the semi-automatic/automatic weapons referenced in the Morning Consult and New York Times poll.]

For those of you who might not recall, we had a ten year ban on so-called assault weapons in this country, beginning in 1994, when Bill Clinton signed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban into law, essentially making the ownership of certain semi-automatic weapons, as well as certain high-capacity ammunition magazines, illegal. While the Republicans, who overturned the ban on the behalf of the NRA in 2004, claimed the ban was ineffective, most researchers of gun violence seem to think that it greatly reduced the incidence of mass shootings. The following excerpt comes by way of the Washington Post.

…Critics of bans on assault weapons, however, say they do little to save lives. The NRA correctly points out that assault weapons are used only in a tiny fraction of gun crimes. The gun rights group also notes that a federally funded study of the previous assault weapons ban, which was in place from 1994 to 2004, concluded that “the ban’s impact on gun violence is likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” Similar points have been made in arguments against a new ban in publications running the ideological gamut from Breitbart to the New York Times to HuffPost.

But the 1994 assault weapons ban was never intended to be a comprehensive fix for “gun violence” writ large. Its purpose, according to gun violence experts and the lawmakers who wrote the bill, was to reduce the frequency and lethality of mass shootings like the ones in Parkland, Sandy Hook and elsewhere. And on that front, the data shows it had a significant impact…

And here’s the evidence of that impact.

The bottom line is that a ban, whether it be for assault weapons, or all semi-automatic/automatic weapons, is popular in the United States, and gun violence experts are in agreement that it’s one of the most effective things that we can do to prevent mass shootings. [From the Washington Post: “Those experts ranked a ban on semiautomatic guns as one of the most effective tools for mitigating gun violence, putting it well above a more narrow assault weapons ban on that measure. And when it came to preventing mass shootings specifically, both the broad ban on semiautomatic guns and the assault weapons ban fared even better, tied for first place with a high-capacity magazine ban and a ban on all sales to violent criminals.”]

Oh, and I almost left out the best part. According to the federal appeals court, a ban on these weapons would be perfectly permissible under the Second Amendment.

But the question is how do we get past a very powerful gun industry lobby that’s churning out propaganda like the following, and paying off politicians like Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who helped make it possible for 18 to 24 year olds, like the young many who kill 17 people last week, to purchase firearms and ammunition in Florida.

[If you’re interested, I’d encourage you to read up on the Australian experience, and how they, after a mass shooting in 1996 that left 35 dead, did the impossible and stopped mass shootings in their country by banning assault weapons and implementing an aggressive buy-back program.]

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Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Obama having to take a note with him when he met the parents of those who died at Sandy Hook, reminding him to have empathy

Yes, the above photo is real. Those are Donald Trump’s hands holding a note reminding him to be a decent human being. The photo was taken by an Associated Press photographer this afternoon, during his “listening session” with the survivors of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the relatives of the dead. Point number five, in case you can’t read it, is a reminder to the President to say, “I hear you,” when confronted by the tearful pleas of those who were selected to participate. [My guess is that we’re looking at the handwriting of Hope Hicks, but I could be wrong.]

I’d like to think that most people wouldn’t need to take a cheat sheet with them into a meeting with people who had just lost their children, reminding them to show empathy, but, then again, most people don’t suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

While the White House only invited four students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to participate in today’s event, and made sure not to extend invitations to those students who have been actively organizing against the NRA, some of those who attended today’s “listening session” did take Trump to task, like 18 year old Sam Zeif, who demanded to know why Americans can still walk into a gun shop and purchase a “weapon of war” without so much as a background check… Here’s video.

So, as kids in Florida and DC walked out of class today, and descended on the offices of their elected officials in enormous numbers, Donald Trump sat with a small, hand-selected group of people, clutching a cheat sheet intended to help hide his empathy deficit, and talking about how, instead of banning assault weapons, we could arm our teachers.

Here, with more on Trump’s idea about arming teachers, is a little something from CNN.

President Donald Trump, after listening to a series of emotional stories and pleas to enhance school safety at the White House Wednesday, floated the idea of arming teachers and school staff, an idea that was met with support from many of the attendees.

“If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” he said, stating that schools could arm up to 20% of their teachers to stop “maniacs” who may try and attack them.

“This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone,” Trump said. “Gun-free zone to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘let’s go in and let’s attack because bullets aren’t coming back at us.'”

This is the world we live in now, folks. We no longer inhabit the same world where a tearful President Obama spent hours privately grieving with those who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook, and encouraged legislators to enact common sense gun reforms, like those that have proven successful around the world. We are now living in Hell World, where a leader with neither empathy or vision is seriously suggesting that we ask our elementary school lunch ladies to double as snipers, and our art teachers to carry automatic weapons.

Oh, and, speaking of arming teachers, here’s a nice, little blast from the past, for those of you who still care about things like truth and hypocrisy.

The good news is, these kids aren’t going away. Trump and the NRA can talk all they want about putting more guns in school and training teachers to use deadly force, but these kids who are rising up in protest aren’t going to accept it. And they’re stronger, smarter and more motivated than any gun industry lobbyist. Just look at this photo taken earlier today outside the Capitol in Tallahassee… These kids aren’t just passively accepting Hell World. And they’ll be voting soon.

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Declaring “(Donald Trump) has been tougher on Russia than Obama was in the past eight years combined,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders achieves ‘maximum gaslight’ status, qualifying herself for a position in the Joseph Goebbels’ Propaganda Hall of Fame

Maybe I’m just imagining it, but I’m getting the sense, watching video of today’s White House press briefing, that we’ve finally crossed some kind of line. It’s like it’s collectively started to dawn on members of the White House Press Corps that, if the kids in Parkland can stand up and push back, them, maybe, as full grown adults, they might be able to do the same thing. Again, it may just be wishful thinking on my part, but when I watch exchanges like this one between White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Jon Karl of ABC News, I start to feel something approximating hope.

Huckabee, for what it’s worth, was really going for broke today, doing her best to rewrite history and cast Trump as a president who has stood up to Vladimir Putin at every opportunity, fighting to protect the sanctity of our electoral system. “(Donald Trump) has been tougher on Russia than Obama was in the past eight years combined,” she told the assembled reporters, dodging followup questions about why, if that’s the case, Obama enacted sanctions against Russia for their election meddling, while Trump still refuses to do so.

To hear Sanders tell it, Trump has never denied that the Russians meddled in the election. He’s only pushed back, according to Sanders, against the idea that his campaign colluded with the Russians, and the suggestion that the Kremlin’s meddling may have played a role in his victory. “It’s very clear that Russia meddled in the election,” Sanders said. “It’s also very clear that it didn’t have an impact on the election, and it’s also very clear that the Trump campaign didn’t collude with the Russians in any ways for this process to take place.” The facts, however, tell a very different story… one of Donald Trump not only denying Russian interference, but actually taking Russia’s side over his own intelligence agencies.

Speaking of which, who can forget that time Trump told us that he’d asked Putin point-blank if the Russians had meddled in our election, received a “no” in response, and decided to take the former KGB spy at his word? [“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi last November. “Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,'” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”] And how about that time, back in December of 2016, when Trump told Time, “I don’t believe they interfered. That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point.

In spite of these examples, though, and all of the other instances we know of in which the President questioned Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, Sanders would have us believe Donald Trump when he tells us, as he did two days ago, “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election.”

Everything they say is a lie… an attempt on their part to make it successfully through just one more news cycle, and out of prison. And we need to encourage our journalists not to just begrudgingly accept these lies, but to actively push back. We need to reestablish the ‘rule of truth’ is this nation. Without that, we have nothing.

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Motivated by student pressure, Trump agrees to make good on his promise to ban “bump stocks”

Well, round one appears to have gone to the kids of Parkland

The White House announced this afternoon that, at long last, Donald Trump would be making good on his promise to ban so-called “bump stocks” and other devices used to convert semiautomatic firearms into fully automatic ones. This, as you’ll recall, was something that the President had agreed to do after 58 people were killed in Las Vegas this past October, but quickly lost interest in once the initial public outrage had died down. Today, though, with another 17 people dead, and facing the prospect of what will likely be a contentious “listening session” with Parkland students tomorrow and yet another enormous march on D.C., Trump apparently felt as though he had to do something quickly. So, today, we chalk up one small victory for this new movement that, one hopes, will only grow over the coming weeks. [Of course, he may not follow through, but Trump also just tweeted out that we need to strengthen background checks.]

As were were discussing yesterday, though, every step forward is going to be met with violent opposition from the gun lobby, their paid trolls, and the conspiracy theorists among us, who have already started suggesting that the young adults now leading the battle for common sense gun reform are actually actors being fed lines by “deep state,” anti-Trump operatives who want to take away our freedom. It’s truly terrifying stuff, and, unfortunately, it isn’t just relegated to the intellectual backwaters of InfoWars. As we saw today, there are actually Republicans working in government who are echoing these disgusting claims. Here’s an example.

And this, you can be sure, is going to get even uglier, especially if these young men and women are successful in building an effective youth movement… And, by the looks of it, that’s exactly what they’re doing… Speaking of which, here’s an image from today’s Miami Herald.

That’s right, over 1,000 students at West Boca High School walked out of their school today, and kept walking the 12 miles to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where they paid their respects to the 17 people who were murdered this past Friday. When asked why they did it, West Boca sophomore Lauren Smith said, “Most of us got zeros on quizzes today. I don’t think we should have to do that to make a change, but we do. And it’s important that we do.”

And, meanwhile, on the other side of the looking glass, the old, white folks at Fox News are once again talking about the possibility of arming teachers.

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The new, young, and hopefully-more-effective face of American gun reform

Quite a bit has happened over the past few days, since we first learned of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead. While it doesn’t look as though the 19 year old killer had connections to a white nationalist hate group, as was first reported, it would seem that he learned marksmanship at the school, thanks at least in part to a $10,000 grant from the NRA. [For what it’s wroth, he’s also known to have worn one of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats.] And, of course, as we discussed yesterday, we’ve gotten a little more insight into the character of our President, who first took the opportunity to blame the shooter’s “neighbors and classmates”, and then went on to use the shooting for his own purposes, suggesting that the FBI should stop investigating him, and focus instead on stopping the next mass shooting from happening. [“They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”, Trump tweeted.] But, most importantly, we’ve learned that we have capable young leaders emerging at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that aren’t going to accept the status quo as dictated by by the NRA and its enablers in Congress, who offer “thoughts and prayers” while telling us that more guns is the only solution. [The facts, by the way, tell us that gun control actually does lead to fewer murders, which is why the NRA got Congress to ban federal research into gun violence.] Here, for those of you who have yet to hear the voices of these young men and women in Florida, who just days ago lost so many of their friends and teachers, are a few representative quotes.

Senior Emma Gonzalez: “We are going to be the difference… Maybe the adults have got used to saying, ‘It is what it is,’ but if us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And, in this case, if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead… We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because… we are going to be the last mass shooting… They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS!”

Junior Alfonso Calderon: “This time it’s going to be different because for once, instead of grieving, we got straight to the point… We’re not asking to repeal the second amendment, we’re asking for common sense, like more intensive background checks. It’s always a troubled young man, in our case somebody who’s been expelled, reported to police 39 times, and he’s still able to buy a weapon of war without anybody flinching. It’s just not viable any more.”

Junior Cameron Kasky: “You’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.”

Junior David Hogg: “If you can’t get elected without taking money from child murderers (a.k.a. the NRA), why are you running?”

Freshman Christine Yared: We can’t let innocent people’s deaths be in vain. We need to work together beyond political parties to make sure this never happens again. We need tougher gun laws.

If a person is not old enough to be able to rent a car or buy a beer, then he should not be able to legally purchase a weapon of mass destruction. This could have been prevented. If the killer had been properly treated for his mental illness, maybe this would not have happened. If there were proper background checks, then those who should not have guns would not have them.

We need to vote for those who are for stricter laws and kick out those who won’t take action. We need to expose the truth about gun violence and the corruption around guns. Please.

It’s devastating that this happened on Valentine’s Day, a day that’s supposed to be about love. Take this as a sign to hug your loved ones and be sure to tell them you love them every day because you never know when it will be their last.

If you have any heart, or care about anyone or anything, you need to be an advocate for change. Don’t let any more children suffer like we have. Don’t continue this cycle. This may not seem relevant to you. But next time it could be your family, your friends, your neighbors. Next time, it could be you.

I’m sure you’ve already seen it, but, just in case you missed it, here’s video of Emma Gonzalez.

So, as Trump was apparently seeking the input of his wealthy golf buddies at Mar-a-Lago, these young people, with the help of their supporters, didn’t waste any time fighting back, organizing, and calling for school walk-outs and marches across the United States. While both events are still evolving, it looks as though the #NationalSchoolWalkout will be for 17 minutes beginning at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2018, and the March for our Lives march on Washington will be on the 24th.

I’m a bit jaded, having watched over the past several decades as the Republicans have allowed the NRA to dictate policy while avoiding all responsibility for the ever-climbing death toll, but I’m actually hopeful that something positive may come of this. As we know, there are, in spite of what the Republicans have told us, a number of immediate actions which can be taken to curb gun violence, from the banning of assault weapons, to the expansion of background checks, all of which have majority support across the United States. The problem in the past has been that we haven’t been able to hold the attention of the American people, who, even after horrendous events, like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead, eventually come to accept the fact nothing will change, and move on. In this case, though, the students of Parkland aren’t giving us that option. They aren’t allowing us to just move on. They’re dominating news cycles, and they’re planing events over the course of the next month that will culminate with a march on Washington. This isn’t just going to go away. They’re not going to let it.

So now the ugliness begins, as the far right attempts to kill the movement by inferring ulterior motives on the part of these grieving students. [See just one example below.] And we cannot allow that to happen. For the sake of not only these kids, but kids everywhere, we need to help amplify the voices of these Florida students and drown out the disinformation campaigns we’re going to see over the coming weeks. This, as I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, is important.

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