Tag Archives: gun control

While We’re Ducking and Dodging

While we’re ducking, dodging, and otherwise attempting to avoid damage from the GOP, they’re still busy with legislation to make our lives just a bit more difficult.  Cases in point:

The House leadership has delayed, but hasn’t promised to discard, a bill, HR 367, to allow the general sale of silencers — which the proponents tell us will mitigate hearing loss for gun owners.  Pro Tip: A nice pair of headset style ear protectors will set you back about $30.00 (if the foamies will do you can buy’em for about 12 cents each in a bucket of 200) as opposed to spending $1300.00 on a suppressor for your AK/AR-some number or another.

The GOP tax cut legislation, which somehow is being titled “reform,” is a walloping giveaway to the top income earners in the U.S.  Not sure about this? See the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, that tells us those in the bottom 20% will see 1.3% of the tax benefits while the top 1% will enjoy 67.4%. Bringing this closer to home, the top 1% of income earners (which amounts to about 0.4% of our population) will get a 70.7% share of the tax cuts. For all that chatter about the Middle Class, the plan doesn’t really help middle class Nevadans:

“The middle fifth of households in Nevada, people who are literally the state’s “middle-class” would not fare as well. Despite being 20 percent of the population, this group would receive just 4.6 percent of the tax cuts that go to Nevada under the framework. In 2018 this group is projected to earn between $38,900 and $60,600. The framework would cut their taxes by an average of $380, which would increase their income by an average of 0.8 percent.”

Just to put this in context, a family in Nevada’s middle income range would see a tax cut of about $380…meanwhile back at the home mortgage, if that family is in Reno where the average home loan is about $187,000, the monthly payments are about $855 per month.  Congratulations Middle Class Nevadans, you may receive an annual prize of 44% of one month’s mortgage payment.  Color me unimpressed.

The GOP passed its version of the FY 2018 budget on a 219-206 vote.  Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) voted in favor of the bill; Representatives Kihuen, Titus, and Rosen were in Las Vegas attending to their constituents in the wake of the massacre at the music concert.   The AARP was quick to notice that the Republican plan calls for $473 BILLION to be cut from Medicare over the next 10 years.   Expect a cap on the Medicaid program funding; it wouldn’t be too far off to estimate cuts of about $1 TRILLION in that category.   Beware when Republicans speak of “entitlement reform,” that simply means cutting Social Security benefits and Medicare.  When they say “welfare reform,” they often mean cutting Food Stamps, Housing Assistance, and Medicaid.   Representative Amodei might want to explain why he supports cutting Medicare by $473 billion over the next decade?

Those in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District can reach Representative Mark Amodei at 202-225-6155 (Washington DC) 775-686-5760 (Reno), or 775-777-7705 (Elko);  the office addresses are — 332 Cannon Building, Washington, DC 20515; 5310 Kietzke Lane #103, Reno, NV 89511; 905 Railroad Street, Ste 104D, Elko, NV 89801.

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Filed under Amodei, Economy, Federal budget, Health Care, health insurance, housing, Medicaid, Medicare, Nevada, Nevada economy, nevada health, nevada taxation, Politics, Republicans, Taxation

Aw Shucks Amodei’s Amazing Little Interview

Mark Amodei (R) is the Representative for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.  This afternoon he had a little moment in the spotlight during an interview with Velshi and Rhule on MSNBC.  It was one of his better “aw shucks” moments, complete with eye closings and head bobbing, incomplete in terms of any rationality beyond the NRA talking points.  This isn’t surprising given the $43,265 Rep. Amodei has gathered from gun rights organizations (NRA, Safari International) over his career.

His first deflection from the presenters’ inquiries incorporated the Perfect Solution canard, i.e. “If a problem needs to be addressed…” implying that legislation is not capable of solving specific shooting tragedies. If a proposition doesn’t perfectly address the elements of a particular crime, then it is not worthy of consideration. This line is so old it should be eligible for a reverse mortgage.

Deflection number two came as Amodei squirmed away from addressing common sense regulation by adopting the Bank Robbers Protection Argument — the shooter was not one “to be deterred by additional regulation.”  This is simply a veneer over the contention that felons don’t follow the laws therefore laws are useless.  Again, we don’t often adopt this philosophy about criminal behavior,  which we hope to proscribe, as in assault, battery, robbery, arson, and murder.

The third deflection, the interview was almost one continuing deflection, occurred with the predictable “we need more facts.”  Yes, the investigation is underway, and in some areas has barely started.  However,  Amodei “hoped” we’d find out “how many weapons were purchased in what period of time.”  If you are wondering why this is relevant, you aren’t alone.  The salient facts are — a man, using high powered modified guns, killed 59 people and injured over 500 others.  It is perfectly possible to begin discussions prior to the full completion of the police investigation.

It didn’t take Rep. Amodei long to reach deflection four — “it’s too soon” (to be discussing common sense gun regulation) and at this point Rep. Amodei appeared to be making up his own vocabulary saying we need to “de-emotionalize” the issue.  Translation: We (the NRA and I) don’t want to talk about gun controls of any kind and it will always be either too soon or too late to discuss the issues and proposed solutions.

At this point in the interview Rep. Amodei, head bobbing, eye blinking and aw shucks mannerisms in full, returned to his prior motifs — “we need more information,” “felons don’t care…”, and “how would legislation have stopped…”

When pressed about the modification of rifles (video) to automatic operations Rep. Amodei reverted to more aw shucks repetitions, needing to know “how legislation would have stopped (the slaughter).”  The presenters gave up trying to make the Representative explain how allowing the sale of kits to make legal guns illegal made even the most remote amount of sense.  The interview terminated with formulaic thanks, and Rep. Amodei’s obvious relief.

It would be a relief to northern Nevada residents to have a Representative in Congress who understands rifle modification, and who comprehends the parched and desiccated nature of the old NRA arguments against doing anything that might mitigate the next tragedies.

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

Las Vegas in the Mourning

Las Vegas, NV has many nicknames, a few pejorative, most more amusing and fun. It’s an entire city for fun. The local economy is mostly based on games, amusements, gaming (we don’t often call it gambling), and recreation.  Las Vegas will sing, dance, spin, deal, and cater to you.  It will stay open all night for you, then offer you a buffet breakfast in the morning.  It will welcome you.  Last night it showed it will spare no effort to keep you safe.

It’s police officers will direct concert goers to safety during a hail of gun fire. It’s officers will locate, and subdue a shooter, within moments. It’s hospitals will provide medical assistance and services second to none.

And, it will graciously accept your prayers and condolences for the heinous attack by a lone wolf (which usually means white) shooter lodged at the Mandalay Bay attacking concert goers across the street.

I’m simply wondering when, if ever, some of those who are offering those kind phrases will pair them with action, as is advised in James 1:23-25: “For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass…”

Are there really any questions how a person amassed a small arsenal in a state with few regulations on gun ownership?  Are there really any questions about how many rounds he fired off in a state that doesn’t limit the purchase of ammunition, or high capacity magazines?  Are there actually any questions concerning the origins of yet another mass casualty incident in a country wherein the Congress is discussing legislation to allow the general purchase of silencers?  Was the disciple merely babbling when he wrote: “You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” [James 2:20]

There was fully automatic fire from an elevated position.”   Yes, condolences are in order. They are appropriate for the family members of those slain in this act of violence. They are appropriate for the Las Vegas law enforcement personnel who lost one of their own, an off duty officer out for an evening concert.  They are appropriate for families dealing with an injured loved one.  However, the prayer half of the equation is, as the disciple said, empty without action.

But, we didn’t act after the tragedy at Virginia Tech, nor after the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, not in the wake of the San Ysidro shooting, not after the tragic loss of life at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. [CNN]  What can we conclude other than we are people who look at ourselves in a polished glass, without seeing our natural face?

When will we pair our prayers with our actions?

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#Enough Thoughts and Prayers, rights aren’t necessarily conveniences

Mass Shooting Victims

The photos of the victims of mass killings in this country show the faces of America. White, black, brown, gay, straight, men, and women. From the very young to the elderly.  And they all died too soon at the hands of those who could arm themselves with lethal weapons without any inconvenience.

The 2nd Amendment says we all have the right to keep and bear arms … there is NO mention in the Amendment that purchasing firearms has to be “convenient.”

The gun fetishists among us cry that their “rights are infringed” if they are to be inconvenienced in any way when purchasing or procuring lethal weapons. They cite their imaginary well greased slippery slope to full tilt gun control.

And, lo! cry the fetishists and their allies, any imposition of a burden of responsibility is a denial of our civil liberties.  But, wait a minute. It is inconvenient to register to vote – however, that’s the inconvenience we accept to prevent voter impersonation.  It’s inconvenient to edit and fact check news articles – but that’s the inconvenience we accept as part of the freedom of the press to avoid charges of libel.

It is inconvenient for government officials to get search warrants, but that’s the balance we have to prevent unlawful searches and seizures.  It’s inconvenient for the judicial system that a person may not be compelled to testify against himself – but that’s the inconvenience we accept to make the system work under constitutional principles.

How easy it appears to be to have advocates of the implementation of the Patriot Act speaking of national surveillance, and justifying those National Security Letters, while bemoaning the restrictions on those included on the terrorist watch list who seek to purchase lethal weapons.

If we didn’t infer “convenience” in the 2nd Amendment, then might we have fewer suicides, fewer murders, fewer mass shootings and killings.  Fewer funerals, fewer remembrances, fewer tragedies, and a much safer society?

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Filed under Congress, conservatism, gay issues, Gun Issues, Hate Crimes, Senate, terrorism

Why do you clutch your gun?

What are you afraid of?  You, who must be appeased because you are an embattled man, powerless to control the world spiraling around you, what do you fear?

Are you so fearful that you cannot countenance controlling lethal weapons, or  making it more difficult for those who are seriously mentally ill to procure them? You are the author of your own terror.  When everyone has a firearm, everyone will have a firearm — even those you fear the most — and then your fears will be justified?

Or, has your gun become a substitute for something else? Are you afraid of being unable to provide for you family?  Are your job skills dated? Your education truncated? Your time spent in job hunting extended?  Why do you clutch your gun? It’s not going to get you an education, more training, or more interviews.

Do you fear the loss of your “masculinity?”  What does that mean? Does it mean you can’t slap the bookkeeper Mary Ann on the fanny down at the garage?   Does it mean that you can’t brag about making babies if you don’t make child support payments?  Does it mean that people have stopped listening to you when you grouse about The Old Lady not having dinner ready for you when she gets off her second shift?  Why do you clutch your gun? It’s not going to make your relationships at work any easier. Or provide you with a sense of the responsibility associated with parenting. Or even add any economic security to your two income household.

Do you fear the diminishment of your sense of self worth?  Can we ask how you calculate that value?  Is how much you are worth a function of the size of your paycheck, or it is based on the joy you take from your workmanship, craftsmanship, or competency you bring to your employment?   Is how much you are worth a function of some  sense of entitlement because you are The Man?  Why do you clutch your gun? Would you caress it less often if you understood that self worth is elevated when you can share the rewards of your efforts at being a good worker, a good parent, a good friend, and good partner with someone you’ve helped to become a better worker, a better parent, a better friend, and a more loving partner?

Are you afraid of The Other?  Are ‘they’ going to invade your home? Would you be less afraid if you read the crime statistics in your area? If you remembered that only 1% of the murders in Nevada happened in the course of a burglary? [DB]  If you recalled that there is a ‘geography’ of criminal behavior  in which most criminals indulge in criminal behavior close to their own neighborhoods and generally don’t move into areas in which they aren’t familiar with the terrain, would that make you less anxious?

Would you be less insecure if you recalled that the most prevalent crime in Nevada is good old fashioned larceny?  As of 2012 there were 45,237 of those — compared to a grand total of 5,954 murders (118), rapes (923), and robberies (4,913) combined? [NVACR pdf]

Why do you clutch your gun if only in the most perfect set of circumstances it would offer you and yours protection?  IF you were perfectly awake, and the firearm was loaded and at the ready, and IF the burglar(s) followed your directions to the letter, and IF you were absolutely certain the projectile would strike its target without careening off into the unknown, and IF everything would work to your benefit as easily as scoring points in a video game…

Why do you clutch your gun as if it were the only option available to you?  You are less likely to be robbed while walking a dog — get a dog! Don’t have a dog? — borrow the neighbor’s mutt — the neighbors will appreciate it, and the dog will love it. You are less likely to be assaulted when walking with someone else — walk with a partner. You are less likely to be the victim of a crime if you are in a well lighted area — make sure the public works department knows when your street lights are out.  You are less likely to be a victim of a burglary if you have a security system — there are a plethora of options on the market.  Can’t afford the system — just plant a sign.  Don’t want the sign? Plant some cactus under your windows — they don’t take much water and who wants to climb over a cactus on the way to a TV set?  There are carload lots of other options, none of which are as dangerous in the home as that firearm.

Why do you clutch your gun, when there are so many other dangers to you and your family which your gun will not remotely solve?  For example, about 25% of school children report they’ve been bullied at school  [SchBStat] That’s far higher than the probability that your child will be attacked by a home invader!  The gun in the drawer by the bed won’t solve that problem, but a quiet chat with your middle schooler about how he or she is feeling at school will yield the information you’ll need to keep the scion safer on the playground.

While you’re fantasizing about protecting the family from imaginary invaders — have you considered that your child is at greater health risk from obesity?  Enough fast food and poor eating habits and the probability of your child having life threatening problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis increases proportionately. [CDC]  Unless your child will only address a vegetable at gun point, the firearm isn’t really useful.  However, if you want to keep your child alive and healthy in the long run, “Eat Your Vegetables” will go much further than “grab your gun.”

Want to protect your wife? Approximately 54% of the respondents in a study of workplace safety reported some form of harassment, and 79% of those victims were women. [Aware]  Would you feel more secure if you knew that your spouse was knowledgeable about the policies at the workplace or about whom to contact? Only about a third in the survey knew about the company policies, and only about half knew whom to contact.  Have you asked your wife if she’s aware of the policies and the procedures?   Would you support her if she filed a report?  That doesn’t require a firearm — just a supportive spouse.

If you aren’t afraid, and you just enjoy shooting rounds at the firing range, and you take care of your firearms — keeping them operative, clean, and safely stored — then by all means have them, care for them, and enjoy your hobby!  But please don’t delude yourself that they will make you any more of a worthy person than you are. People who measure themselves by their possessions — are simply possessed.

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Fears, Phobias, Guns, and Children

The report on the Sparks, NV school shooting was made available last week. [RGJ]  Unfortunately, there’s not much to be learned.  A child with serious mental health issues.  Parents unaware of his taste for violent video games.  A child teased at school, often misinterpreting generalized incidents as personal attacks.  School tried to offer assistance.  Parents insistent the child did not have easy access to firearms.  Child may have had suicidal ideation.

Since the report was released newspapers have posted stories about the accidental death of a four year old Indiana boy who found a loaded gun in his parent’s bedroom. The death was attributed to an “accident.”  [TPM]  A San Antonio, TX six year old is dead after being shot in the face with a gun found in the home. [TPM] April 22, 2014: A four year old girl was shot and killed in her Des Moines, IA home and police noted “unsafe gun handling” practices in the house. [KCCI]

April 29, 2014: A toddler was killed by a firearm found in a home in Wichita, KS, shot by a sibling. [KWCH]  March 5, 2014: A five year old boy found a gun in his Riverside, CA house, fired it and killed himself. [NBC4]

The numbers keep adding up. Numbers of parents who thought the firearms were ‘properly’ stored, the number of children who find them, and the number of tragedies which unfold across the country in the aftermath.   Even more depressing, the ‘numbers’ may be higher than official accounting.  “A New York Times review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities.” [NYT]

However, while children may be either intentionally or accidentally using firearms which they are not supposed to be able to access, the adults appear to be playing numbers games, to wit:

“The National Rifle Association cited the lower official numbers this year in a fact sheet opposing “safe storage” laws, saying children were more likely to be killed by falls, poisoning or environmental factors — an incorrect assertion if the actual number of accidental firearm deaths is significantly higher.” [NYT]

The numbers may very well be higher than the reporting used by the NRA, but that’s missing the mark.  The point is that less than half the states in this Union have safe storage laws.  Nevada’s statute on the subject approaches the issue, but falls short of requiring safe storage.

NRS 41.472 Imposition of liability for minor’s negligence or willful misconduct regarding firearm.
1. If a parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for a minor under the age of 18 years:
(a) Knows that the minor has previously been adjudicated delinquent or has been convicted of a criminal offense;
(b) Knows that the minor has a propensity to commit violent acts; or
(c) Knows or has reason to know that the minor intends to use the firearm for unlawful purposes,
and permits the minor to use or possess a firearm, any negligence or willful misconduct of the minor in connection with such use or possession is imputed to the person who permits such use or possession for all purposes of civil damages, and, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection 2 of NRS 41.470, that person is jointly and severally liable with the minor for any and all damages caused by such negligence or willful misconduct.

In short, the parents have to KNOW the child is delinquent, KNOW the child has a propensity to violence, and KNOW the child intends to use a firearm to commit a criminal act BEFORE liability comes into play.   Nothing in the Nevada statute requires “safe storage” if there are children in the household.  [See: LCPGV]

The counter argument is that safely stored guns make households more likely to be ravaged by “violent home intruders.” [KBA]  Anecdotal evidence is often supplied to make this case, however the statistically based study conducted in 1997 for JAMA yields another result:

“Laws that make gun owners responsible for storing firearms in a manner that makes them inaccessible to children were in effect for at least 1 year in 12 states from 1990 through 1994. Among children younger than 15 years, unintentional shooting deaths were reduced by 23% (95% confidence interval, 6%-37%) during the years covered by these laws. This estimate was based on within-state comparisons adjusted for national trends in unintentional firearm-related mortality.”  [NCBI]

There’s an obvious hole in the “home invader” argument — there’s a higher probability that the firearm will cause harm to a resident of the household than to a purported home invader. [Medscape] [NCBI] [AJE]   The second hole in the argument is that actual home invasions are rare.

Contrary to the melodramas on television, violent crimes represent only 19.7% of the criminal acts reported in Nevada, this would include all murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults.   If we drill down to the murder category — 24% were the result of an argument, 17% were the result of domestic violence, while 2% were the result of a robbery and 1% the result of a burglary. [NV 2010 pdf]

Strangers accounted for 20.5% of the  2010 murders, while family members, friends, acquaintances, former partners, and dating relationships comprised the majority of the relationships.  (Note: Reporting variances leave some relationships in the “unknown” category. [NV 2010 pdf]  In short, the old saw holds true, a person is most likely to be a victim because of the actions of another person known to him or her than to some unknown robber or burglar.

The lethality point is quickly demonstrated in the 2010 statistics.  In 2010 handguns were the lethal weapon of choice 53.4% of the time, long guns 5.6%, knives 13.7%, feet/fists 11.2%, the wonderfully nebulous “blunt instrument” accounted for 6/2%. [NV 2010 pdf]

What do we know and have we known for some time now?

(1) Safe storage requirements can reduce unintentional shooting deaths by approximately 23% for children under the age of 15.

(2) There is a far higher statistical probability that a firearm will cause injury or death to a member of the household than it will be used to thwart the invasion of the home by criminals.

(3) It is less likely that a person will be murdered in Nevada by a stranger than by a member or former member of a household.  And, if murder is the result of an altercation the weapon most likely used will be a handgun.

(4) Since the Newtown tragedy,” Of the K-12 school shootings in which the shooter’s age was known, 70 percent (20 of 28 incidents) were perpetrated by minors. Among those shootings where it was possible to determine the source of the firearm, three-quarters of the shooters obtained their guns from home.” [WaPo] (emphasis added)

With every right comes responsibility.  Firearms and children are obviously not a good mixture.  Gun safety education is a good idea, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. However, gun safety training is not effective with toddlers, toilet training is about all they can handle and even that requires constant attention.  It is not always a match for youthful inquisitiveness.  It is not going to prevent a young person with homicidal or suicidal ideation from seeing the weapon as a means to unfortunate ends.

If the adults in the home are obsessed with fears of home invasions (Black Helicopters, federal agents, Blue Helmets, Drug Gangs, etc.) and so phobic that they believe firearms must be kept constantly at the ready — then for all intents and purposes the home isn’t safe for children in the first place.   Nor does it do to disparage the Gadget Proposals — trigger locks, smart guns, etc. — yes, these can be over-ridden, but the fact that they can be over-ridden doesn’t necessarily support the argument that they can’t be effective.  And, in every instance in which they are effective we have one less tragedy to report.

If we really want our children and their schools to be safer, we don’t need an abundance of the weapons which make them unsafe in the first place, we need:

(a) More recent and more informed gun incident reporting statutes and practices.

(b) More attention paid to gun safety as a health issue, especially for children under the age of 18.

(c) More stringent gun storage statutes which protect children in homes where firearms are present.

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When Will It Be Enough?

The Washington Post printed this chart of gun deaths in developed nations in December 2012:

Gun Death Chart by countryUSA Today has an interactive chart for those wishing to review the violence we’ve perpetrated on one another in 2013.  Suffice it to say there are entirely too many entries in this database.

When will the numbers be too staggering?  The incidents too horrific?  The arguments of the rabid radicals too specious?

It’s taken 30+ years for the National Rifle Association to convince the public that the Second Amendment is to be interpreted by their lights only.   The neo-Confederates, and related “militia” members are even willing to carry the NRA argument to its obvious extension — any person should be able to acquire any weapon necessary to take on the Evil Government — missile launchers anyone?

It’s taken 30+ years for the NRA and associated gun manufacturers to disseminate their message that the only answer to gun violence is more people armed with more guns willing to do more violence.

It’s taken 30+ years for people to think of school security not in terms of open and easy exits in case of fire, but in terms of sealed exits and magnetometers to prevent gun violence in our schools.

A cowardly Congress had the opportunity to take the least restrictive measures imaginable in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting.  They passed.  Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bill, the House of Representatives didn’t even address the issue.

A Washington, D.C. punditry — the Beltway Babblers — pontificated that the President must have failed because the opposition Party in the Cocktail Party Circuit Court of Opinion refused to cooperate.  He should have “cooperated more?”  The Senate bill which died as a result of the filibuster didn’t even contain the assault weapons ban, didn’t have a limit on ammunition capacity, didn’t prevent straw purchases, didn’t require comprehensive background checks… How much more were the Democrats supposed to compromise?  Perhaps, “compromise” means giving the Republicans everything they want?

However, it’s easy to imagine that had the President not offered even the soft provisions of the Manchin Amendment, the Beltway Babblers would have noted the President had “caved” to pressure.  Nowhere in the prolixity did anyone consider that it is a strange standard indeed to hold a President responsible for the behavior of the opposition party.

We don’t need a proliferation of guns.  We have enough.  We have a situation in which fewer people are buying more weapons.  And, we have more than enough instances of babysitters leaving weapons unattended with tragic consequences, children playing with firearms with deadly effect, toddlers setting off firearms accidentally.

There are NO rights which do not come with responsibilities.  A responsible gun owner locks and stores guns properly.  A responsible gun owner doesn’t encourage gun violence.   A responsible gun owner supports closing the gun show loophole, and shutting down the straw purchases of guns which all too often fall conveniently into the hands of gangs and criminals.

I am frankly very tired of the antiquated arguments of gun enthusiasts.  I am even more exhausted by their circumlocution and specious contentions.  However, one has to admire their focus.  They are single issue voters of the first water.  Their enthusiasm is boundless.  And…they are rapidly turning me into a single issue voter as well, just on the other side of their issue.

I am not willing to accept a vision of America as a violent nation, a country willing to sacrifice its children on the altar of Gun Rights.   One youngster in a Denver hospital, in a coma, is one too many.

Enough is Enough.

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