Category Archives: Gun Issues

The NRA race to the bottom: Reciprocity

 Guns ab 175 Here’s an important point: “Nevada now has reciprocity with only 16 states that have requirements equal to or greater than those required in Nevada, including live-fire training.” [LVRJ]

Here’s another: “The proposal is contained in SB175 and Senate Bill 171, which was also heard by the Senate panel. It was also the focus of Assembly Bill 139 heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee earlier in the day. […] All three measures would require Nevada to recognize concealed carry permits issued by all states.” [LVRJ]

Now, here’s something to consider from one of those ‘other’ states: “SB 347 (West Virginia) “this permitless carry legislation, introduced by state Senator Dave Sypolt (R-14), would recognize your right to legally carry a concealed firearm without the burdensome requirement of having to obtain a costly and time-restrictive Concealed Handgun License (CHL).” [NRA]

Under the provisions suggested by Republicans in the Nevada Legislature, if West Virginia enacts “permitless carry” legislation then Nevada would be obligated to grant reciprocity?

In Kansas, the GOP controlled State Senate has just approved SB 45, also a “permitless carry” bill. [Kan.Com]  Should this legislation be finalized does Nevada have to grant reciprocity under the terms of the revisions suggested as “reforms?”

There are reasons for those “burdensome requirements.”  One of which is that some time is necessary to determine if a person is a convicted felon before issuing a concealed carry permit.  Under Nevada Statutes a person must not be an undocumented foreigner, a convicted felon, a juvenile without parental supervision, or an adjudged mentally ill individual in order to purchase a firearm.  Wouldn’t it make sense to allow local authorities and responsible gun dealers to have some time to make the necessary checks?

Yes, it’s “inconvenient” to have to follow state and local regulations concerning firearms and how they might be concealed – but does Nevada need to stoop to the lowest common denominator in terms of reciprocity?

Another common sense reason to restrict concealed carry permits is that some states, Arizona for example, do not require live fire training.  Just buy the gun, stash it in your pocket or purse, and off you go.  Somehow, the explanation, “Well, the clerk at the hardware store showed me how to shoot it,” doesn’t leave me feeling all that safe in terms of the capacity of my fellow human beings to know how such a firearm should be handled.  The recent tragic story of the Michigan lady who killed herself while adjusting her bra holster comes to mind. [NYDN]

Nevada doesn’t need to produce any more stories like that one.  We also don’t need to add to the grim statistics which report at least 722 non-self defense gunshot fatalities in the U.S. since 2007.

“More gravely, the study found that the fatalities included 17 law enforcement officers shot by people with legal permits along with 705 slain civilians. […] In studying the 544 shootings, the center found 177 cases where people with gun licenses were ultimately convicted of crimes, including homicides, and 218 cases where the permit holder used the gun to commit suicide. There were 44 total lives taken by licensed individuals who first murdered others, then committed suicide.” [NYT]

If we are speaking of “public safety” then we ought to consider how to better protect our law enforcement officers and prevent suicides. As with any legislation, AB 171 and AB 175 should be heard – but as with suggestions that we’d all be safer if more people – no matter how ill trained – should be wandering about in public places with concealed firearms once heard should be enough.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature

Guns and Nutters: Nevada Legislature Recoils

Guns Nevada Legis Infrastructure

The state of Nevada has 158 “high hazard” dams.  ‘High hazard’ means there could be loss of life or significant property damage if a dam failure were to occur. [ASCE]  However, the state legislature appears to have other priorities. Guns, case in point:   SB 175.  As of February 4, 2015 there were 10 bills in the Assembled Wisdom regarding guns. [RGJ]  SB 175 is particularly subservient to the National Rifle (Manufacturers) Association:

“Senate Bill 175, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, also would loosen Nevada’s reciprocity laws with other states regarding concealed weapon permits and repeal a handgun registration requirement in Clark County, a local ordinance that has been in existence for more than six decades.

Further, it would establish “state control over the regulation of policies concerning firearms,” and allow anyone “adversely affected” by local ordinances or regulations that violate the measure to sue for damages.

The measure would make it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic violence, even a misdemeanor offense, from owning a gun. A violation would constitute a felony. It also would prohibit anyone under an extended protection order from acquiring a gun while the order is in effect.” [LVRJ]

Part One – the reciprocity would lower Nevada standards to the least common denominator among the states. Part Two – repeals the permitting requirements in Clark County. Part Three – allows anyone with a grouse to sue local governments on the grounds of “2nd Amendment Free-dumb.” Part Four – says a person under a domestic violence restraining order cannot buy a gun – and says nothing about removing guns from an abuser who already has possession of them prior to conviction.  Meanwhile, …

The state’s budget for dealing with high hazard dams is half the national average, and there are only 3 full time employees responsible for overseeing an average of  225 state regulated dams.   [ASCE]  Nevada ranks 23rd in the nation in renewable energy in a state well known for sun and wind.  [ASCE]

However, those dams and that renewable energy aren’t major topics among the Assembled Wisdom because the efforts thus far highlight how a gun hobbyist in Nevada can get a concealed carry permit as easily as he or she could in Florida – wherein the standard appears to be the capacity to slightly fog a mirror. [TP]  Witness: AB 127 which would do away with local Clark County firearms regulation and put all the authority in the hands of the State.  [LVRJ]  I must be getting very forgetful in my dotage, but I do recall a time when Republicans were all about “local control.”

The state could use more funds for its educational system, both k-12 and higher education; more funding for its public health programs; more resources for our mental health and child welfare services – and more resources allocated to improving our infrastructure.  But, the prime topic in this rendition of the Assembled Wisdom seems to be the care and nurturing of our ‘beleaguered ammosexuals.’   Because, you know… Freedumb.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Nevada AB 121: Promote Your Gun in School

NVLeg Gun Promotion

Nevada Assembly members Wheeler, Ellison, Jones, Dickman, Moore, O’Neill, and Oscarson would like to help those kiddies who are disciplined for simulating a firearm during art or play activities, or who are wearing Pro-Gun Apparel in Assembly Bill 121.

There are a couple of levels at which this is ill advised. First, it seems to be one of those solutions in search of a problem. Someone’s kid gets disciplined in some school somewhere for simulating a lethal weapon, gets sent home, and the incident seems to instantly hit the Internet – to be endlessly forwarded and all too often enhanced by the Great E-Mail Telegraph. 

Secondly, this isn’t all about ‘free-dumb.’ It’s about marketing. It’s about the National Rifle (Manufacturers) Association promoting its products to a younger generation – since the older ones don’t seem all that interested in arming themselves to the gunwales.   There are reactive increases in gun sales, but generally speaking there are fewer US households purchasing more guns while the majority eschew such shopping.

It’s about the continuing efforts of the National Rifle (Manufacturers) Association to re-interpret the 2nd Amendment to disallow any common sense restraints and limitations, as are applied to every other portion of the Splendid Document.  

It’s also a way to launch a thousand ships of controversy. Does Johnny’s t-shirt with the scantily clad voluptuous young woman waving a 2nd Amendment banner constitute a “disruption,” or because it’s advertising the NRA agenda is it OK? After all, under the provisions of AB 121 a child can’t be disciplined for  “Wearing clothing or accessories that depict a firearm or dangerous weapon or express an opinion regarding a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. “

We might ask – are some of the people who are advocating in favor of this bill possibly be  the same folks who decried the wearing of “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” shirts worn by some professional, amateur, and school team members? Have they agreed with the Oklahoma legislator who wanted to ban hoodies?  Would an NRA hoodie, as seen above, be acceptable?

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

AB 2: The Take Your Gun To School Bill on NV Legislature’s Agenda

AB 2 The firearm proliferationists are launching their agenda early in the  Nevada legislative season, with A.B. 2 – the pack your gun around in your vehicle everywhere you want to go bill.  Or, as the Legislative Counsel Bureau puts it more elegantly:

“Legislative Counsel’s Digest: Existing law generally makes it a gross misdemeanor to carry or possess certain weapons while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility, or while in a vehicle of a private or public school or a child care facility except in certain circumstances. (NRS 202.265) This bill adds an exception so that a person is not prohibited from possessing such weapons on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a private or public school or a child care facility if the weapon remains out of public view and if the weapon is: (1) inside a motor vehicle that is occupied or, if the motor vehicle is unoccupied, the motor vehicle is locked; or (2) stored in a locked container that is affixed securely to the motor vehicle.”

There are precious few places where the proliferationists can’t pack their weapons of choice and pleasure.  School campuses are one such place.  Under the provisions of A.B. 2 that protection is eliminated.  And, of course the gun-proliferationists were out in force for the hearing. [LVRJ]  The supporters, notably Assemblyman Hambrick are quick to point out this isn’t a “campus carry” bill. However, it’s interesting that one individual offering testimony described his trouble clearing up charges after “someone entered his locked car at Reed High School in Sparks where he worked and found his gun. That person reported it.”  And, now someone needs to ask the question:

What if the individual who entered his locked car in the Reed High School parking lot didn’t report it, instead, say, stole it, or worse used it in the commission of a felony?  Are we to believe that if the gun is out of sight, and locked in, that it’s safe on school grounds?  Not necessarily, if the person offering the testimony is to be believed. Someone did, in fact, get into the vehicle, and did, in fact, find the firearm.

The NRA mythology is nothing if not embedded in the minds of those who promote gun ownership and possession.  Does the gun make you “feel safe?” It might, but the statistics show another pattern.  The ‘good guy with a gun’ myth has been pretty thoroughly debunked. [Slate

This won’t be the last proliferation bill before the 2015 session of the legislature, and there are some “model” bills from the NRA and ALEC which ought to be tracked.  Watch for bills similar to the “Campus Personnel Protection Act,” for which ALEC has model legislation.  There is also a model for the outright concealed carry statutes promoted by the NRA and ALEC.  Another variation on this theme is the concealed carry reciprocity model also promoted by those two organizations.  There’s also a model bill to prevent cities and counties from prescribing any local firearms regulations.

We might also want to be aware of ALEC/NRA model resolutions on guns and child safety, which basically says tell your kids guns are dangerous, a little “education” is all that’s needed.  Interesting, since a person in the United States is more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. [Forward]  See also, the NRA resolution on promoting Eddie the Eagle to protect us from toddlers who find firearms.  Then, there’s the resolution decrying waiting periods for gun purchases, or as we might call it the “Suicide Facilitation Act?”

For ceremonial purposes, there’s the ALEC/NRA model resolution on the glories of the 2nd Amendment – as interpreted by the National Rifle Association.  Or as introduced in Nevada,  AB 100, “relating to the Attorney General; requiring the Attorney General, under certain circumstances, to commence an action to protect and secure the rights of residents of this State under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution…” Translation: If the President of the United States issues an executive order “infringing” on 2nd amendment “rights” then the AG’s office will file a suit.   Paranoia reigns supreme?

However, if you’d really like to witness paranoia in action – click over to the NRA’s legislative action page.  Here’s betting we see several items from the NRA wish list, during this session of the Assembled Wisdom.

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Guns Galore? Nevada Legislature to take up more gun law changes

guns pile Here they go again.  The Assembled Wisdom in Carson City will be considering more pro-NRA legislation in the upcoming session. [RGJ]  Judging from what we’ve seen thus far, the Republicans are mostly interested in expanding the privilege of concealed carry, enacting reciprocity statutes, and allowing guns on school campuses.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why any civilian with a valid reason to carry a firearm needs to conceal it. If the idea is to let a potential criminal know that he or she will be putting him or herself in danger if an assault is attempted, then why not strap on the old six-shooter and show the world?  Concealment not only hides the weapon from those who would do evil, it also hides it from police officers and other law enforcement officials.  In a land awash in firearms, the notion that anyone could be armed at any time must be part of the assessment of a situation made by law enforcement officers.  We decry the use of ‘heavy-handed’ tactics by such officers while at the same time creating the circumstances which lead to and often justify the use of force.

The rationale for the expansion of concealed carry seems to channel from the NRA’s position that the only thing stopping a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with one.  Unfortunately, there’s no peer reviewed research to support this. Do more relaxed concealed carry rules prevent crimes? There’s no peer reviewed research to support this conclusion either.  [Donohue, Aneja, Zhang]

While some conservative and gun advocacy groups have made the claim that more concealed carry permits are related to reduced crime rates, some of the arguments fall because of an inadequate logical base.

“The main argument is that two things that happened simultaneously are related: A 22% drop in murder rates and a 103% spike in gun permits during 2007 and 2013. The report concludes that by “using this new state level permit data from 2007 on, our analysis suggests that each one percentage point increase in the percent of the adult population holding permits is roughly associated with a 1.4% drop in the murder rate.” [Mic]

We have some magical thinking going on here.  If this framework is adopted, then one could argue that a 103% increase in concealed carry permits also “suggests” that this is related to the increase in the DJIA from 13,264.82 in December 2007 to 16,576.66 in December 2013.   Sound silly? Because the DJIA and the crime rate aren’t in the same general category?  True, but when authors of any report use terms like “suggest” and “roughly associated” they are telling the reader they can’t justify a statistical relationship between the elements, much less make a causal connection.

When factors like improved policing methods and higher levels of incarceration are tossed into the mix the ‘suggested’ causal relationship between concealed carry permitting and the reduction of general crime rates becomes even more opaque.  One Alabama newspaper tried its hand at research and concluded:

“AL.com gathered the number of active pistol permits for 63 out of 67 counties. (Four didn’t respond despite repeated requests). But a statistical examination of Alabama’s county-by-county permit rates does not turn up any correlation with rates of serious crime. These offenses consist of homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.”

What might be left then are bits of anecdotal evidence, real and imagined. “I showed the car-jackers my gun and they ran off.”  Good. Not so good, “If I had had a gun I would not have been raped.”  That’s one possible outcome, another might have been “he grabbed the gun away and shot me.”   At present we don’t have any peer reviewed research that can adequately reconcile variations in the results of defensive gun use, primarily because we haven’t carefully defined what we mean by defensive gun use.  The 2013 report from the CDC suggested five high-priority areas for additional research, unfortunately without making much progress on a research definition of DGU.  [NAS]  The House of Representatives still has no intention of funding further gun use and violence related research. [IBT]  We are thus left with a situation in which, given the lack of scientific evidence, the emotional or ideological ‘evidence’ is cited with the same authority as those few scientific studies that are available.

For example, we know that an earlier study indicated that in general the rate of victim injuries were less where a gun was used for self defense. However, what we don’t know is if the firearm was concealed at the outset? Shown at the outset? Was the firearm used to threaten, intimidate, or actually shoot the criminal? Better data collection, and better analytical compilations, depend on better recording and reporting than is now available.

What the 2015 session of the Nevada Legislature could do before launching into ideological legislation is to fund scientific research on defensive gun use in the state of Nevada. In short – get the facts BEFORE the fun starts.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Corporate Interests, Consumer Safety?

banker 2 Columnist Steve Sebelius has an article posted which is high on DB’s Must Read List: “Heck opposes ‘junk lawsuits’ ? Since When?”  It’s hoped that after reading this you’ll come back for more information on the Republican assault on your rights in the Courthouse.  Medical malpractice litigation is only one of several categories in which the Republican Party is ready and ever-so-willing to restrict the rights of ordinary citizens to have their day in court.  Failing that, there’s always the option to force litigation on those least able to afford it.

Your Body vs. Health Insurance Corporations

It’s time to remember that one of the very few specific proposals incorporated into the GOP version of health care insurance reform was “litigation reform.”  One of the more recent comes from a Louisiana Congressman:

“Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, is one of several Republicans pushing for the proposed legislation, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act, place new restrictions on medical malpractice suits and provide more access to health savings accounts.”  [LFC]

The standard line from Republicans is that malpractice litigation creates “runaway health care spending increases” because medical professionals order unnecessary tests, and if damages are limited fewer people will have any incentive to file law suits.  However, we’ve known since 2009 that some physicians have ordered extra testing merely to increase their billings, [TNY] and after Texas legislature capped damages costs still hadn’t dropped in the area highlighted as the poster child for escalating health care costs (McAllen, TX). [Wire]  A Florida law restricting medical malpractice suits was declared unconstitutional – after the Florida Supreme Court found that only the health insurance corporations benefited from the restraints. [Wire] And what was achieved by restraining the ability of ordinary citizens damaged by medical malpractice?

Not much:

“Defensive medicine includes tests and procedures ordered by physicians principally to reduce perceived threats of medical malpractice liability. The practice is commonly assumed to increase health care costs. The results of studies of the costs of defensive medicine have been inconsistent. We found that estimated savings resulting from a 10 percent decline in medical malpractice premiums would be less than 1 percent of total medical care costs in every specialty. These savings are lower than most previous estimates, and they suggest that the presumed impact of tort reform on health care costs may be overstated.” [HA.org, National Cancer Inst] (emphasis added)

May be overstated?” They are being overstated. And, they are being overstated in the pursuit of policies which are blatantly aligned with the interests of the health insurance corporations.   Might any Nevadan oppose litigation seeking to hold accountable those responsible for the Hepatitis C outbreak from the Shadow Lane Clinic? [LVRJ/Sebelius]  Would Floridians oppose the efforts of the family of Michelle McCall to hold a medical facility accountable for her death – the result of a case of preeclampsia being handled about as poorly as might be imagined in a nightmare. [FSC 2014 pdf]

Who in Missouri would castigate the efforts of the Schneider family in the wake of a stroke suffered by Jeffrey Schneider, an IT specialists with the Federal Reserve, which caused damage to his speech, the right side of his body, and loss of short term memory – and which was preventable had the physician paid attention to his own notes going back to 1996. [STLpd] Also left un-noted in the hyperbole about Runaway Costs from Irresponsible Juries – the fact that medical malpractice suits are extremely difficult to win.

The physicians and medical facilities usually win in most cases. In one study of 10,000 malpractice cases between 2002 and 2005, just a bit over half (55%) ended up in an actual lawsuit. Of that 55% more than half were dismissed by the court. When all the winnowing was final, less than 5% of the cases ended up being decided by a trial verdict – and 80% of the verdicts were in favor of the physicians. [reuters]  For this, we are being asked by Representatives Heck, Scalise, and others, to voluntarily abrogate our rights as citizens to have our day in court.

Your Body vs. Gun Manufacturers and the NRA

On October 20, 2005 Congress passed a law protecting gun manufacturers and dealers from any liability.  The NRA was positively elated. [NYT]  The vote on S. 397 was 283-144 [roll call 534] The law is a gun manufacturer’s delight, it:

Prohibits a qualified civil liability action from being brought in any state or federal court against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm, ammunition, or a component of a firearm that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or against a trade association of such manufacturers or sellers, for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, penalties, or other relief resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm. Requires pending actions to be dismissed. [Thomas]

Did we notice the damage might have resulted from “the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm?”  P.L.109-92 protects gun manufacturers and dealers like no other sector of our economy.  Did the safety fail? You have no case. Did the gun malfunction because of a preventable engineering flaw causing an injury or loss of life? You have no case. Did the Saturday Night Special shatter when fired? You have no case.  If your complaint is with a firearms manufacturing corporation – you will not have your day in court.

There are also moves afoot to make being a consumer in this consumer economy a matter of a perverted form of survival of the fittest – or the wealthiest at least.  In this regard the advocates of corporate interests want to remove the very agencies which provide administrative options to litigation.  Instead of eliminating your day in court, the massive corporations would like very much to make you challenge them in court – if you dare.

Your Wallet vs. The Financial Institutions and Big Banks

Nothing so alarmed the bankers and other participants in the Great Mortgage Disaster of 2007-2008 as the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  In fact, a small community bank in (where else?) Texas along with two conservative groups,  were moved in 2012 to file a lawsuit saying the appointment of CFPB director Richard Cordray was unconstitutional and the agency was without “checks and balances.” The bankers also didn’t like the Financial Stability Oversight Council – the one that studies risk in the financial sector. [Reuters]  In September 2012 some Republican state attorneys general were planning “non-cooperation” with the CFPB, following along the talking points made in the litigation. [Bloomberg]  Nothing would please these folks more than the repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act, so that the wheels of the Wall Street Casino could be free to spin again.

And what subjects does the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau review? Student Loans, Manufactured Home financing,  Bank Overdraft and other fees… As of June 2014 the CFPB reviewed (pdf) complaints in a variety of financial transaction categories – 34% concerned mortgages, 20% concerned debt collection activities, 14% were about credit cards, 12% about banking accounts and services, 3% were about consumer loans, 3% about student loans, and payday loans 1%.  In other words, disputes about loans and other services common, ordinary, everyday, citizens of the U.S. might be involved in.  

The legal system usually demands that all administrative options be finished before litigation is initiated.  If there is no CFPB then there is one less way for disputes to be resolved at the administrative level – and the individual citizen (the one in the mobile home, in the student apartment, in the apartment house complex…) is left with no option except the expense of litigation.  If the big banks had their way – you’d get your day in court – at your expense, and there would be no agency tasked with protecting you before you faced the battalion of legal forces arrayed against you.

Your Life vs. Manufacturing Interests

Calls for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission are nothing new, they’ve been around since at least 1980. [Sanders]  The Libertarian Party is pleased to offer the following vision:

We oppose all so-called “consumer protection” legislation which infringes upon voluntary trade, and call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. We advocate the repeal of all laws banning or restricting the advertising of prices, products, or services. We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.

Does someone “voluntarily” purchase a crib for an infant which has features potentially lethal for a baby?  Who “voluntarily” buys a four wheeler where the components of the front gear case can fail causing a loss of control and crash hazard?  Or a lawn mower in which the welding on the drive axle can fail, again causing a loss of control and crash hazard?  Would you “voluntarily” purchase a bicycle helmet which fails in cold temperatures?  Would you “voluntarily” buy a scarf which doesn’t meet federal flammability standards? Or a infant’s “hoodie” the drawstring of which creates a strangulation hazard? Or a riding lawn mower wherein the ignition fails to ground and tends to overheat and melt? [CPSC]

What is the response when the four-wheeler’s front gear case fails, the vehicle goes out of control, and the resulting crash causes injury or death? You should have had a degree in Mechanical Engineering before you purchased the rig?  Or, is it if enough people are injured or die in crashes consumers won’t purchase the vehicle? How many have to die?

Again, without the Consumer Products Safety Commission not only is the likelihood of death or injury made more commonplace, but there is no administrative remedy intermediate to litigation.  Worse still, the “pro-business” Republicans don’t even want the public to know which products have been the subjects of complaints.   When the CPSC allowed the publication of its consumer database, the Republicans went off the deep end.

They said: “…that the database “wastes taxpayer money, confuses and misleads consumers, raises prices, kills jobs, and damages the reputations of safe and responsible manufacturers.” Testifying last month before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, Wayne Morris, a vice president for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, complained, “It is wrong for the federal government to allow companies and their brands to be unfairly characterized, even slandered.” The National Association of Manufacturers said the database’s “credibility” and “usefulness to consumers” is “severely damaged.” In response to such criticism (and possibly also in response to Koch Industries, which showered an improbable $79,500 on his campaign), Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, a Tea Party freshman, sponsored an amendment zeroing out funding for the database that cleared the House, 234-187. The CPSC database, Pompeo said, “will drive jobs overseas.” [Slate]

There’s “voluntarism” for us – not only should manufacturers be able to slap together unsafe products and sell them to American consumers, but those potential consumers should be prevented from finding out that other consumers have had problems with the products.  We should remember that then Representative Dean Heller (R-NV) was one of the 234 House Republicans who voted in favor of Pompeo’s amendment cutting the funding for the CPSC database. [roll call 137]

The Ties That Bind

There is a common thread to all of this.  In the instances of medical malpractice and gun manufacturing and sales, it is assumed by the Republicans that the consumer – the average American – must be prevented from challenging the major corporations who provide the goods and services; or at least their dismal chances of successful litigation must be further curtailed.

In the examples of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Consumer Product Safety Commission the notion that some administrative option prior to expensive litigation must be removed for the sake of the manufacturers and dealers. Only those with the financial wherewithal to take on interminable legal battles should be able to challenge the desire of manufacturers to cut corners (“increase shareholder value”) and thereby produce and distribute potentially lethal products.

Nowhere in any portion of these Republican challenges to consumer safety and security will we find any true concern for the average American consumer, patient, or victim. Unfortunately, for the GOP it’s  all about the corporate Benjamins.

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Filed under civil liberties, conservatism, consumers, Gun Issues, Health Care, health insurance, Heck, Heller

Please Excuse Me If I Don’t Panic

ebola isis If It Bleeds It Leads – and I am getting really tired of cable and network news blathering on about The Next Great Scary Bacteria/Virus.   First, let’s get some perspective – there are an estimated 316,148,990 people in the United States. [Census]

Remember the West Nile Virus?  If memory serves, the media served up mosquito pictures on television screens and print versions ad nauseam not so many years ago.  The largest number of cases occurred in 2003, at 9,862. There were a grand total of 39,557 cases of which only 1,668 were fatal, between 1999 and 2013.    [CDC pdf] Do the arithmetic.  Divide 39,557 by 316,148,990 on your handy plastic calculator.  (Ans: 1.2521 e-4)

Remember SARS?  The coronavirus showed up in 2003.  Lord knows how many “travel alerts” there were, and how many were reported as major news stories.  By April 2003 there were 115 suspected SARS cases in the U.S. reported from 29 states, there were no deaths reported.  By the end of the year the World Health Organization reported 8,096 cases globally, leading to 774 deaths. In the United States there were 8 SARS infections documented by laboratory testing and an additional 19 probable cases. [CDC]  Again, play with the arithmetic problem: Divide 115 by 316,148,990. What are the odds someone will contract SARS?

Now it’s Ebola! A virus which is relatively difficult to contract, but whose photograph graces the pages and screens, along with breathless speculation about how control this “ISIS of Viral Evil.”  Thus far we have 1, repeat ONE, case reported in the United States.  One case, one fatality. And that of a man who sought treatment, was turned away from a hospital in Dallas, TX – which has some explaining to do to his family – and so far that’s IT.

Yes, this is a nasty virus. It is also primarily running rampant in west Africa, a region generally ignored by the U.S. media even when uncivil wars are decimating the populations,  but there’s a reason the medical professionals in the U.S. aren’t panicking like, say CNN, for Faux News, or some  “billionaire with bad hair:”

“It’s important for us to remember here in the US that the likelihood of an outbreak due to bringing back two patients with Ebola virus disease is incredibly small, and that conditions here in the US and other developed nations are such that it is unlikely that such an outbreak, even in the unlikely event that it happened, would spread very far, given the differences in medical care, availability of resources, and differences in funeral practices. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be vigilant, but there is really nothing particularly unusual about Ebola virus other than the rapid onset and severity of the disease it causes.” [SciBMed]

Now, breathe.

Meanwhile —  The CDC reports 11,068 firearm homicides, with a death per 100K of 3.6 [CDC]  The last CDC report showed 39,518 suicides, of which 19,990 were completed with firearms; death per 100K at 12.7. [CDC] Now, if a virus had killed 31,058 people in a single year – that would be a story.  However, we can’t consider the epidemic of gun violence as a public health problem because the GOP controlled House of Representatives refuses a meager $10 million for funding gun violence prevention research. The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics begged for the research funding, but Republicans and the NRA said we simply need to “prosecute more people, not carry out more studies.”   [ProPublica]

Meanwhile – Heart disease will kill 596,577 people in the United States, and another 73,831 will die from Diabetes.  So, faced with this obvious public health problem, what did the U.S. Congress do?  Republicans sponsored a bill to roll back school nutrition standards. [MMA] The implications are obvious, Republicans are favoring the food manufacturing interests over the advice of professional nutrition experts.  Oh, and did we remember that the “School Nutrition Assoc.” receives most of its funding from companies which sell food to schools?

Meanwhile – What are we doing to cut the numbers of stroke victims (128,932)? Cancer victims (576,691)? Chronic respiratory disease victims (142,943)? Alzheimer’s victims (84,974)? Flu and Pneunomia (53,862)? Nephritis (45,591)?   We cut the budget for the Centers for Disease Control.

“The agency’s budget in 2014 is $5.9 billion, compared to the $6.5 billion allotted in 2010.  Last year’s budget deal delayed the across-the-board sequester cuts until fiscal 2016, but the law required the CDC to cut 5 percent, or more than $285 million, from its fiscal 2013 budget, the agency said.” [TheHill]

And while the right wing is screaming about how we’re not being kept safe from Ebola and ISIS, or Ebola and ISIS, or Ebola with ISIS, or ISIS with Ebola,  what did the GOP House do to the funding for the agency tasked with securing public health?

The sequester resulted in a $195 million cut in 2013 to the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, which aims to prevent illness and death by a wide variety of infectious diseases, according to the CDC. A CDC report from earlier this year also noted its funding for public health preparedness and response activities was $1 billion lower in fiscal 2013 than in 2002.  [TheHill]

However, all the statistics in the world won’t be as entertaining as Jon Stewart’s rendition of the Million Ways to Die in the U.S.   DO click and enjoy!

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