Category Archives: Gun Issues

Dear Congressman, Why Are You

From the Department of Thanks A Bunch But Don’t Do Me Any More Favors

“Nevada’s premiums on the health-care exchange are likely to increase by about $843 next year as a result of Congress’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and a new Trump administration rule on short-term health insurance plans, according to a new report from the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.

The report, released Friday, found that annual premiums nationwide will increase from an average of about $6,176 to $7,189 for the average 40-year-old, which is about a 16.4 percent increase. In Nevada, average premiums using the same benchmark are projected to rise from about $5,547 to $6,390, or an increase of about 15 percent.” [NVIndy]

All right, I’m not 40 years old and haven’t been for quite some time, but I can empathize with younger people trying to run households, raise kids, pay the bills, and keep it together.  What they don’t need is a 15% increase in their health insurance premiums.  And who does this help?  It doesn’t help promote the best practices of established health insurance corporations.  It doesn’t help those families who are facing rising costs for groceries and transportation.  It doesn’t help young people to sell them junk insurance that won’t actually cover expenses for major medical expenses for illness or injury.  It seems to primarily help the fly by night scam artists who want to sell insurance policies which barely deserve the name.  You can read the full report ?here.

From the Department of Questions to Ask Congress Critters which Don’t Include Why Are You An A–hole?

Dear Congressman ____ why is it impossible for you to vote in favor of a bill to require universal background checks for gun sales and transfers?  (It’s not like this doesn’t have massive support from the American people.  It’s not like this wouldn’t help to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who shouldn’t have them in the first place.   And while we’re about it, what’s so impossible about limiting the size of magazines, or keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers?)

Dear Congressman ____ why, when banks had their most profitable quarter EVER, would you think it important to roll back the consumer protections of the Dodd Frank Act? [MoneyCNN] [Vox] [WaPo]

Dear Congressman ____ in what perverted universe is it considered acceptable to bait bears with donuts and bacon in order to kill them? To kill hibernating bears? To kill wolf pups? [NYMag]

Dear Congressman ____ Just what purpose is served by vilifying a Central American street gang and conflating its members with ALL immigrants to this great nation?  Criticizing a violent gang is laudable, conflating these people with ALL immigrants is inexcusable.  Since I’m not 40 years old and haven’t been for some time, I recall a time when this nation was recovering from a major war against a state which called Jews “vermin,” dehumanized them, and then used the appellation as an excuse to exterminate them.  Perhaps it’s time to have people, especially politicians, read (or re-read) Elie Wiesel’s Night.

Where does this lead?

“Wiesel’s prose is quietly measured and economical, for florid exaggeration would not befit this subject. Yet, at times, his descriptions are so striking as to be breathtaking in their pungent precision. He writes through the eyes of an adolescent plunged into an unprecedented moral hinterland, and his loss of innocence is felt keenly by the reader. His identity was strained under such conditions: “The student of Talmud, the child I was, had been consumed by the flames. All that was left was a shape that resembled me. My soul had been invaded – and devoured – by a black flame.” Night.

When bad things are done by bad people, bad things happen to innocent people.

Or maybe it would simply be easier to ask, Dear Congressman ____ why are you an A-hole?

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Filed under ecology, financial regulation, Gun Issues, Health Care, health insurance, Immigration, Politics

The Tapestry of Our Lives

The thunder and lightning have passed, and it’s time to get back to the blog.  Not that the thunder and lightning in the country have abated in any significant way.  Senator Dean Heller seems to have attracted one strike:

The National Rifle Association has endorsed Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller and three other Republican candidates for Congress ahead of the June 12 primary elections.  Heller received an “A” rating from the NRA, which is given to pro-gun candidates who support the organization’s positions on key votes or who have a record of supporting Second Amendment.  The gun-rights group also endorsed Republican Rep. Rep. Mark Amodei who is seeking re-election in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District. [NVIndy/News4]

May 18, 2018 10 people were killed and 13 injured in a mass shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.  Another month, another mass shooting in a school.  Once more the NRA wants to talk about anything except the guns.  It’s violent video games. It’s mental health. It’s Ritalin. It’s anything anything anything except the easy access to guns.  Sometimes we tend to express regret for the loss of talent as the tally of gun violence victims increases, but we might be missing an important point.  It’s the details that matter.  Perhaps there were or were not individuals who would have gone on to do great and notable things, that’s debatable. However, we do know that there were losses represented by the victim counts.

We may have lost an electrician?  A barber? A receptionist.  Someone who would have gotten up every morning to put in a days work, and come home every evening to be incorporated into the life of their family.

April 22, 2018, 4 people died and 3 others injured in a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee.  We lost a musician, we lost college students, we lost more threads in the fabric of our lives. We found a hero, an unarmed young man who stopped the shooter at great peril to his own life, and then went on to donate donations to his social media account to the families of victims.  We didn’t find a fantasy hero “good guy with a gun,” rather we found a good guy with courage, compassion, and the ultimate in civic responsibility.  We found James Shaw Jr.

April 18, 2018 a mother and her children died in a hail of gun fire from an ex-boyfriend in Asheville, North Carolina. The children loved to run track and to dance. We’ll never know if we lost a future Olympic medalist that day, we do know that we lost a family.  We lost a mother who was so scrupulous about housekeeping friends and family said, “You could eat off her floors.”  A mother who took her children to church every Sunday.  [ATC] We lost a family.

February 14, 2018, we lost 17 lives, with another 17 injured at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They’ve Marched for their Lives. They’ve organized voter registration drives, they’ve appealed to the better angels of our nature.  They’ve warned politicians like Heller and Amodei that NRA endorsements aren’t what they used to be. We’ve lost and shattered too many families.

Every day the death toll mounts from mass and individual shootings, from suicides and accidents, we continue to lose plumbers, secretaries, mechanics, cooks, and soldiers.

February 10, 2018 a family of four was massacred in a murder-suicide in Johnson County, Kentucky. [lex18]  We continue to lose parents and grandparents.

Each time more victims are added to the lists we’ve lost more firefighters, carpenters, solar panel installers, roofers, landscapers, bookkeepers, and bus drivers.

November 5, 2017 27 people died, another 20 were injured in a church in Sunderland Springs, Texas.  Each time we add victims to the list we lose more truck drivers, reporters, day care providers, steelworkers, pilots, housekeepers, and file clerks.

October 1, 2017, a mass killing cost us 58 victims and 441 injured at a music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Each time we add victims to the list we extinguish the lives of more people who matter. We lost a man shielding his wife on their wedding anniversary.  We lost a health care management major, a commercial fisherman, a kindergarten teacher, a police department records technician, a registered nurse, a member of the US Navy, a waitress, a soldier, a teacher, a secretary, a family law attorney, a contractor, an office manager, a financial adviser, a home contractor, a librarian, a make up artist, a corrections officer, … girlfriends, wives, mothers, grandmothers, boyfriends, husbands, fathers, grandfathers…

Our economic fabric is in the details.  We are a composite of the electrician, barber, receptionist, plumbers, secretaries, mechanics, cooks, soldiers, firefighters, carpenters, solar panel installers, roofers, landscapers, bookkeepers, bus drivers,  truck drivers, reporters, day care providers, steelworkers, pilots, housekeepers,  file clerks,  health care management personnel, commercial fisherman,  kindergarten teacher,  police department records technician,  registered nurse,  member of the US Navy,  waitress,  soldier,  teacher,  secretary,  family law attorney,  contractor,  office manager,  financial adviser,  home contractor,  librarian,  make up artist,  corrections officer…

Reduce the numbers of the people who make our economy run, eliminate the waitress at the small diner who brings that first cup of coffee with a smile to start the day, make the auto mechanic who figures out why there’s a persistent problem with the fuel injection system vanish, and we are all reduced as the power in our multiplicity of economic gears is reduced by one.

Our social fabric is in the details, in the relationships between boy friends and girl friends, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, grandchildren, neighbors, friends, and co-workers.  Eliminate any of these relationships in our communities, and we are all reduced by the unraveling of all those tiny threads which combined together form the incredibly complex and beautiful tapestry of our social lives in this nation.

No “endorsement,” no pandering for a few votes, is worth the grains of sand in our economic gears as grain by grain we add problems by reducing our numbers.  No “endorsement,” no pandering for a few votes is worth the unraveling of the tapestry of our lives, the loss of each loved one pulling at loose threads until we fray from the edges.

Politicians Heller and Amodei may take pleasure in their A ratings from the NRA, I am only sorry they cannot take as much pleasure in the defense of the lives of our children, our boyfriends and girl friends, our wives and husbands, our parents and grandparents; in the wonderfully interwoven tapestry of American life.

 

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Filed under Amodei, Gun Issues, Heller, Nevada politics, Politics

Hardening Targets Is The Wrong Target: Harden Access to Firearms

I’m going to hear “we have to harden the targets” one more time coming from my TV speakers and my neighbors may be able to hear me yelling in the direction of the set.  Another day in America. Another school shooting. More deaths. And yet another press conference in which I’m told “the guns belonged to the _____” (in this instance, the father).  Here’s an idea: Harden the access.

This latest atrocity was perpetrated by a 17 year old, armed with his father’s firearms, but we also need to remember that in 2017 there were 17 toddler shootings that resulted in a fatality and another 26 which inflicted non-fatal injuries. [WaPo]

So, we’re going to have another spate of “Roundtable Run Arounds?”  May we assume the tables will include representatives of the gun manufacturers’ lobby? During which “all” viewpoints will be allowed access?  There’s nothing quite like a “roundtable discussion” replete with the same old hoary contentions, ideological arguments, and self-serving lobby interests to forestall any meaningful action — unless, of course, it’s the drafting of “reports,” by committees of “interested stakeholders,” edited by those with the most at stake.  Translation: We can stall any action by taking a “thorough” (read – long) look at the problem and drafting a blue ribbon panel report on the subject. (read – the production of dust catchers and door stops).

For starters, let’s assume a world governed by adults who really do want to protect children.  They want to protect them at home, at school, in churches, at concerts, and in clubs.  Do we really have to make it easy for miscreants to get access to firearms?  There’s good news and bad news on the subject:

Eleven states have laws concerning firearm locking devices. Massachusetts is the only state that generally requires that all firearms be stored with a lock in place; California, Connecticut, and New York impose this requirement in certain situations. Other state laws regarding locking devices are similar to the federal law, in that they require locking devices to accompany certain guns manufactured, sold, or transferred. Five of the eleven states also set standards for the design of locking devices or require them to be approved by a state agency for effectiveness. [Giffords] (emphasis in original)

The good news? Eleven states have done something, however there’s a range of effective to almost ineffective statutes within that range.  The bad news is that only eleven states have enacted safe storage legislation, which means that thirty-nine have nothing between the adult, the teen, or the toddler, and the victims.  There are some common sense measures which can, and should, be legislated in all states to harden the access to firearms.  The Giffords organization recommends the following:

  • All firearms are required to be kept disabled with a locking device except when an authorized user is carrying it on his or her person or has the firearm under his or her immediate control (Massachusetts, New York City).
  • Locking devices are required on all firearms manufactured, sold or transferred in the jurisdiction (California).
  • Standards are set for locking devices (California, Connecticut, New York).
  • Locking devices are tested and approved by a certified independent lab before they may be sold in the jurisdiction (California).
  • A roster is maintained of approved locking devices (California, Massachusetts; Maryland maintains a roster of approved locking devices, but only for handguns).

Nevada has child access prevention statutes on the books, but no assault weapons ban, and no safe storage or gun lock requirement. [KFF]  Every gun owner is “responsible” until he or she isn’t.  Until he or she leaves a handgun within reach of anyone unauthorized to use it, anyone too young to understand what can really happen if it is used.  Until he or she leaves a handgun or long gun unsupervised and it gets stolen. Until he or she leaves the gun safe keys or combination in plain sight. Until he or she decides to leave a loaded gun within reach of a child, or keep the guns and the ammunition conveniently located in the same insecure location making access easy for the unauthorized individual or the garden variety burglar.

Before we place our children in lock down, behind steel doors and bullet resistant windows; before we enter the church nave through metal detectors; before we attend country western music festivals in full armor; before we go out for an evening of music and dancing at a club wearing enough protection to make only “doing the Robot” a practical way to move to the music — we should think about hardening access to the firearms which plague our streets and venues.

We should “harden access” by forbidding the sale or transfer of military weapons of war to civilians.  Should a person want to fire a real military weapon we have several perfectly fine armed services always looking for top quality volunteers.  We should “harden access” by requiring safe storage of all firearms.  We should prevent straw purchases.  We should require reporting of stolen guns.  We should preclude those with a history of domestic violence and abuse from accessing firearms — nothing predicts a shooting quite so well as a history of domestic violence.

It isn’t the “target’s” fault if a toddler finds a handgun.  It isn’t the “victim’s” fault if a domestic abuser commits a family annihilation.  It isn’t the “crowd” at fault if  person in a sniper’s nest decides to rain down terror upon the concert goers.  It isn’t the congregation’s fault if a domestic dispute turns deadly.  If an office party becomes fatal. If a college campus becomes a battle zone.  If…   We speak as though it’s the “target’s” fault if fatalities happen.  It isn’t.  We need to speak of hardening access to firearms, of hardening our attitudes toward those deluded souls who believe gun shots are a form of conflict resolution; and, harden access to the siren call of gun manufacturers who sell fear and guns in equal measure.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

Kids These Days: Focus on Voting

The Reno Gazette Journal ran a piece this morning on the Student Walk Out in remembrance of the Columbine massacre.

“Students from at least eight Washoe County schools are planning to walk out of their classrooms, march through the streets or call their representatives on Friday to demand action over gun violence in schools.

The walkout is expected to start at 10 a.m., the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, and in conjunction with hundreds of other planned walkouts across the country.” [RGJ]

It seems appropriate to note that while the students are good at keeping their focus on the issues at hand, the media and all too many adults are having some difficulties doing the same.   The Las Vegas Sun ran what read like a canned article, the online edition of the Review Journal didn’t mention the walk out.

What should we, as adults, do to help the kids get their message out — and keep it in the public spotlight?  Get informedThe Trace is a good place to start.  However, I’m probably typing for the choir here.  There are other sites which collect and disseminate statistics such as the Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Policy and Research; Everytown Research; and the Gun Violence Archive.

Get Registered.  Okay, we’re already registered, but what about friends and neighbors?  The Secretary of State’s Office posts basic information.  Not in Las Vegas or Reno/Sparks areas?  County Clerk information is here DMV.org also provides basic information:

  • Be a:
    • Citizen of the United States.
    • Nevada resident for at least 30 days before the date of an election.
    • Resident of your precinct for at least 10 days before the election.
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the date of the election.
  • Not have been declared mentally incompetent by a court of law.
  • Not claim any other place as your legal residence.

If you have been convicted of a non-violent felony your voting rights are restored after you are discharged from incarceration and/or parole. If you have been convicted of a violent felony, or a second felony, you will need to apply to have your civil rights restored.

Vote.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

We Are Not Being Well Served: A Lethal Pattern of Administration Obstruction

We aren’t well served when the Department of Justice declines to work WITH state officials to implement policy.  When the DoJ dithers about assisting Nevada’s attempt to improve the background check process for firearm purchases — [NV Indy] Gee, it almost seems like someone at the federal level is doing a bureaucratic dance routine to subvert the intent of those who want to expand background checks?  Someone doesn’t want to alienate the powers that be at the NRA?  Meanwhile candidate Adam Laxalt, subservient as ever to the NRA line, must be pleased with Governor Sandoval’s discomfort.

We also aren’t well served by the right wing echo chamber which has now evidently decided that if they can’t find logical arguments to deflect the demands made by the kids in March for Our Lives they will happily start tooting the Swift Boat Parade Brigade horns with personal attacks on the kids themselves.  [TampaBT] [WaPo] [KCStar] However, ad hominem is all too often the preferred argument for many on the right side of the political spectrum.  These people might be dismissed as small people with smaller, narrower, minds except that they have the ear of the current mis-administration, and those ears are receiving messages out of step with American concerns.  Listening to these radical voices obscures national issues we should be focusing upon.

Nor are we well served when the message comes from the podium at the White House briefing room that the Department of Justice will take no role in the investigation of the shooting of Sacramento citizen Stephon Clark.  There’s a pattern here.

The FBI will not facilitate the implementation of Nevada’s Question 1 decision. The Department of Justice will take its sweet time promulgating rules concerning the sale of bump stocks (see Las Vegas concert massacre). The Department of Justice will do an about-face on federal participation in the investigation of law enforcement use of lethal force on members of minority communities.  This pattern may explain why the citizens of Nevada continue to be frustrated by the lack of Question 1 implementation, the citizens of the US continue to see protests related to Black Lives Matter, and young people bemoan (and organize) against the inflexible obstruction to their demands for sensible restrictions on gun ownership and sales.

What the pattern won’t accomplish is the solution to any of the problems addressed by the Black Lives Matter organization or the young people involved in March for Our Lives.  The two issue areas are not unrelated.

Bullets fired from guns kill people.  The bullet may be a .223 round (5.56 mm) coming at a person at 3,330 feet per second (about three times the velocity of a typical Glock pistol.) [BI]  The bullets may also come from a Glock 19 or the Glock 22, or perhaps the Smith & Wesson M or P9, the most popular service handguns for law enforcement personnel. [SRI]  Instances of bullets being fired by one human being at another human being, or beings, should be investigated fully.  We have no problem with this concept when thinking about murder investigations in general.  We do have a problem with the concept when it’s in the context of a mass shooting or in a case of the use of lethal force by a police officer.

In the instances of mass shootings authorities appear to want to investigate everything except the actual cause of death — the AR 15 is often the weapon of choice for mass shooters [BI] who want to use the gun as it was designed — to cause the greatest level of lethality in the briefest possible time.  If we know the level of lethality associated with the use of assault style weapons like the AR 15 why don’t we directly address the issue of whether or not these should be in the hands of civilians?

In the instances of officer involved shootings almost the first thing reported is that the “officers feared for their lives.”

“Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation which found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.

An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed.” [Guardian 2015]

Question: Why do law enforcement personnel “fear for their lives” more often when confronting a person of color than when facing a white person?  I think we know the answer, it is just that this aspect of the problem isn’t something the present Department of Justice is particularly interested in pursuing.

We aren’t well served by an administration which will not admit the vast scope of the problems presented by mass shooters and highly questionable use of force by some members of law enforcement.  These are national problems which beg for national solutions, whether the current Department of Justice wants to step up to the plate or not.


The kids have broken the 10,000 contract plateau in their Parents Promise To Kids project.  Right now it’s at 10,127.  That’s 10,127 parents, grandparents, and other interested people who have pledged to kids they will make gun reform a major feature in their voting decisions.  Step Up. Thank You.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Isabelle Robinson Takes Us To School

Nag Nag Nag.  The kids at Parents Promise To Kids have picked up 9,725 parents and family members for their contract project as of right now.  We can do a bit better. They should break 10K today.  Take a minute to make a difference.

Reading material:

This isn’t recommended reading — it should be required reading.  Isabelle Robinson, a senior at Stoneman Douglas HS speaks to the ill informed suggestion that students are responsible for “making peers feel better,” and thus less likely to commit atrocities.  She’s right.  The “WalkUpNotOut” proposal is a distraction, and for my money a very dangerous distraction.   Let’s agree, if only for the sake of the argument, that discussions about mental health and adolescent issues are a diversion from the very real problem of access to guns.

In the aftermath of the Columbine massacre, (April 20, 1999) in which two very disturbed youngsters hauled firearms, and propane tanks, into their high school with every intention of either shooting or blowing their cohorts to bits, we discussed “bullying” ad nauseam — to the detriment of closing the gun show loophole.  No, the kids at Columbine almost twenty years ago were no more responsible for the actions of the criminals than the young people in Parkland, FL are responsible for the damage done to their lives.  Robinson puts it succinctly:

“This deeply dangerous sentiment, expressed under the #WalkUpNotOut hashtag, implies that acts of school violence can be prevented if students befriend disturbed and potentially dangerous classmates. The idea that we are to blame, even implicitly, for the murders of our friends and teachers is a slap in the face to all Stoneman Douglas victims and survivors.”

Please don’t misunderstand me, anti-bullying programs and rules are positive and useful.  However, never mistake an exercise in victim-blaming for a substantive suggestion toward solving our gun violence problems. Never mistake assigning “mental illness” as the culprit when it’s access to guns that increases the lethality of the incidents. Surely no one is suggesting that teens acquire the nuanced information in the current literature on the subject of violence and mental illness.

“Taken together with the MacArthur study, these papers have painted a more complex picture about mental illness and violence. They suggest that violence by people with mental illness — like aggression in the general population — stems from multiple overlapping factors interacting in complex ways. These include family history, personal stressors (such as divorce or bereavement), and socioeconomic factors (such as poverty and homelessness). Substance abuse is often tightly woven into this fabric, making it hard to tease apart the influence of other less obvious factors.”  [Harvard Health]

If the experts admit it is difficult to analyze and evaluate the factors — obvious and obscure — involved in mass killings, then certainly it doesn’t do to prescribe such a bromide as ‘if you’d only been nicer to  him…’ in the present instances of gun violence.

Of all the assaults on the Parkland, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles (etc) students who spoke so eloquently on the subject of gun violence during the March for Our Lives rallies, none seems more insidious than to suggest that they could have ‘prevented’ the heinous crimes IF they had been proactive little saints.  They are the victims.

Has anyone suggested that the concert attendees in Las Vegas might have been more involved in the mental illness factors contributing to the slaughter on October 1, 2017?  Were the movie theater goers in any way responsible for the shooting in Aurora in July 2012?  Were the church members responsible in any way for the outrageous shooting in Sunderland Springs, TX November 5, 2017? The answer if obviously a resounding “no.”  However, too many people have expended too much wind re-litigating the diversionary arguments of Columbine.  I’d urge a careful reading of Isabelle Robinson’s essay, it’s definitely an “A” grade example of student writing. And, an “A” grade rebuttal to the distraction tactics of the radical gun lobby.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

What’s Next? The kids are already ahead of the pundits

For all the pundit palaver on television opining about “what’s next?” please be advised the kids are already ahead of the game.  We can reasonably assume that while the stage was being dismantled there were youngsters working on their ParentsPromiseToKids web site.  The site is simple and direct.

“Students Adam Buchwald and Zach Hibshman, both juniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, have taken the initiative to create the organization “Parents Promise To Kids” to ensure that children’s voices are HEARD! In our movement, we urge parents to make a promise to their children that they will vote for politicians who choose your children’s safety over guns! Children under the age of 18 are not permitted to vote for our leaders; however, their parents are. We want parents to sign a contract to promise their children that they will vote for politicians who will keep our schools safe. Parents, make a promise to your kids!”

The instructions are simple and direct:

In order to be apart of our movement, we would like parents to sign a contract, print it, and take a picture with their children to show their support against guns. Please refer to our contract page.

There are contract forms for parents, for grandparents, and a general contract for “interested others.” Download. Print. Share.  As of today 8,521 individuals have downloaded the contracts.  It’s the next step to assist those youngsters who are as yet too young to vote in our elections, but unfortunately not too young to be the targets of gun violence.

Your support would be appreciated.  (In the time it took to type this post the number of downloads moved from 8,513 to 8,527.  Join the movement.)

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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

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