Tag Archives: gun safety regulations

Nevada, Mild Wild West: Laxalt and the Background Checks Initiative

Nevada’s getting some unwanted publicity with commentary like “wild west” in regard to the Silver State’s gun laws.  It’s not that the state’s residents haven’t tried:

“Last year, voters in the state narrowly passed Question 1, an initiative that required most private buyers and sellers of guns to conduct a background check through a licensed dealer. Millions of dollars from national groups supporting and opposing the law poured into the state.

The initiative, which passed by 50.4% to 49.5%, mandated that private-party gun sales — with a few exceptions, such as transfers between family members  — be subject to a federal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is administered by the FBI.”  [LATimes]

Then came the December letter from the FBI saying it could not comply with the state’s requirements, and the Attorney General Adam Laxalt — not a fan of the initiative — announced that the state wouldn’t prosecute any violations of the act until the FBI changed its position.  Not only did Laxalt oppose the initiative, he bragged about blocking implementation, and was duly patted on the head by the leadership of the gun manufacturers’ interest group, the NRA:

“The attorney general who made the decision, Adam Paul Laxalt, spoke at the NRA’s annual meeting this year, where he was hailed by the NRA’s chief lobbyist for ensuring that Nevada’s new background check legislation for private sales was still not the law of the land. Laxalt had publicly opposed the background check measure before it passed, a mark of opposition the NRA had publicized in its fight against the measure.” [Guardian]

Lost in the messaging melee, any reference to the FBI’s statement that the state records could also be used to run background checks to implement the new statute.  Thus, the wrangle remains between gun background check advocates, anti-regulation interest groups, public safety officials, and an Attorney General’s office which has no interest whatsoever in implementing gun safety regulations.

Indeed, Laxalt sees himself as some version of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus at the bridge:

“In fact, Laxalt, who is running to replace Sandoval, boasted of his role in opposing the measure. In an April 28 speech at the NRA’s annual convention, he cited his criticism of the initiative as an example of his record of supporting gun rights. “Attorneys General,” he said, served as “the last line of defense against the Obama Administration” on gun policy.”  [MJ]

A stance he will maintain in his campaign for the governorship.  He will no doubt adhere to the talking points established by the National Rifle Association, i.e. we can’t stop evil; we can’t legislate away 2nd Amendment rights; suggested legislation would not have stopped the last current outrageous tragedy. Worse still, there’s the canard about “it’s not the ‘right’ time to discuss firearm regulations.”

Perhaps the best we can hope for at the moment is that House Republican leadership will withdraw HR 367, the NRA bill to allow more sales of silencers (noise suppressors), a position in opposition to law enforcement leadership who say silencers make officers’ jobs more dangerous.  In a better world, the Congress and the states would move to:

Require universal background checks.  While this addition may not have prevented the Las Vegas disaster, but it could stop some of the other 33,000 annual gun deaths in this country.

Ban the sale of high capacity magazines.  Truth is, if I haven’t hit the target in the first ten rounds, odds are good I’m not going to — the only result may well be my attempts to explain to my insurance agent why I blew out the south end of my house trying to hit the burglar who was after a $179.95 television set.  The arguments in favor of high capacity magazines range from the bizarre to the totally unpersuasive.  If, as reported, most of the carnage in Las Vegas happened in the first five minutes, then limiting the capacity of the murderer’s guns could have at least reduced the number of dead and injured.

Ban the sale of kits designed to modify semi-automatic guns to automatics.  Allowing the sale of devices to make legal firearms illegal makes no sense whatsoever.

In a still better world we would:

Require safe storage for all firearms. We’re losing 1,300 children every year to gun related injuries. [CNN] [Pediatrics] Some of these are suicides, some are accidental, others are intentional…all are to be deplored and the issues addressed, if for no other reason than this is the equivalent of about 22 Las Vegas shootings per year.

In order to have rational discussions about how to more effectively keep concert goers, night club celebrants, movie theater patrons, and school children safe it’s going to be necessary to filter out the NRA noise — incomprehensible noises about Slippery Slopes, Gun Confiscations, and Law Abiding Folk.  Requiring insurance hasn’t deterred people from buying cars, requiring licenses hasn’t stopped people from taking bar exams and getting certified for positions in the trades and professions, and arguing that law breakers will ignore the law invites the rejoinder that if this is the case then why not legalize bank robbery if the robbers persist in going where the money is?

Some little sanity would go a long way.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Gunslinging in the Silver State

Guns Here are the rules for firearm possession in Nevada.

“NRS 202.360  Ownership or possession of firearm by certain persons prohibited; penalties.

      1.  A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control any firearm if the person:

      (a) Has been convicted in this State or any other state of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33);

      (b) Has been convicted of a felony in this State or any other state, or in any political subdivision thereof, or of a felony in violation of the laws of the United States of America, unless the person has received a pardon and the pardon does not restrict his or her right to bear arms;

      (c) Is a fugitive from justice;

      (d) Is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, any controlled substance; or

      (e) Is otherwise prohibited by federal law from having a firearm in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control.

Ê A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.

      2.  A person shall not own or have in his or her possession or under his or her custody or control any firearm if the person:

      (a) Has been adjudicated as mentally ill or has been committed to any mental health facility by a court of this State, any other state or the United States;

      (b) Has entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill in a court of this State, any other state or the United States;

      (c) Has been found guilty but mentally ill in a court of this State, any other state or the United States;

      (d) Has been acquitted by reason of insanity in a court of this State, any other state or the United States; or

      (e) Is illegally or unlawfully in the United States.

Ê A person who violates the provisions of this subsection is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

      3.  As used in this section:

      (a) “Controlled substance” has the meaning ascribed to it in 21 U.S.C. § 802(6).

      (b) “Firearm” includes any firearm that is loaded or unloaded and operable or inoperable.”

This seems fairly clear.  A person in Nevada shall not possess firearms if  he or she is  (1) convicted of domestic abuse; (2) is a felon; (3) is a fugitive from justice; (4) is addicted to drugs; (5) is adjudicated mentally ill.

Now, how do we determine if someone falls into one of these proscribed categories?  There are supposed to be background checks for that purpose. One would think that law enforcement officers would be in favor of any measure that would help prevent guns from getting into the hands of domestic abusers, felons, fugitives, addicts, and the dangerously mentally ill. While such a measure wouldn’t prevent all such incidents it would help, and in this matter every bit of assistance would be welcome.  We’d be wrong. Some of the local law enforcement personnel appear to be acting against their own best interests in anti-Question 1 advertising.

Contrary to the gunslingers – Question One doesn’t “criminalize gun ownership.” Gun ownership for domestic abusers, felons, fugitives, addicts, and the adjudicated mentally is ALREADY a criminal offense.  There’s nothing added that would criminalize gun ownership for any other person not falling into one of these categories.

Contrary to the gunslingers – Question One isn’t about “g u n c o n t r o l” (think of a scary voice…) It is about keeping guns out of the hands of people who should never have them in the first place.

Contrary to the gunslingers – the law is unworkable because criminals won’t obey it – for the umpteenth time: That is the definition of a criminal, a person who doesn’t obey the law. Again, do we take the laws against bank robbery off the books because bank robbers don’t respect them?  Of all the pro-gun proliferation arguments this has to be the silliest.

Contrary to the gunslingers – Simply because a single measure won’t prevent all violent crime doesn’t prevent the idea from having merit if it seeks to prevent some violent crime.   The standard set by the NRA/Ammosexuals is artificially high and obviously unachievable – no law will prevent all criminal activity, but that’s no reason not to make an attempt at reduction.

There is a slippery slope here, not as the NRA contends that any regulation of firearms will necessarily devolve into the confiscation of all firearms; but, that we will continue to slide down a slope on which it becomes easier and more convenient for those who should never have lethal weapons in the first instance to create more havoc, more lethal incidents, and more tragic events.

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Guns and Money

Stonewall NRA How Much? Thus far into the 2016 election cycle the National Rifle Association PAC  has donated a total of $398,400 to Federal candidates with $3,500 going to Democrats and $394,900 donated to Republican campaigns.  The Safari Club International PAC has contributed $17,000 to Democratic candidates and $317,500 to Republicans.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation PAC has donated $118,500 with $2,000 to Democratic candidates and $116,500 to Republican candidates.  The National Association for Gun Rights PAC has donated $29,000 to Republican candidates, and nothing to Democratic ones. The Gun Owners of American PAC has donated $9,585 with all contributions given to Republicans. The Ohio Gun Collectors Association PAC has distributed $7,000 all of which has gone to Republican candidates. The Dallas Safari Club PAC has donated all $3,000 of its contributions to Republicans.  [OS.org]

The NRA PAC has donated $75,000 so far to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; $15,000 to the Republican National Committee; $9,950 to the Blue Dog PAC, $5,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa; $5,000 to the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania; $5,000 to the Republican Party of Tennessee; $5,000 to the Republican Party of Kentucky; and, $5,000 to the Republican Party of Idaho.  [OS.org]

We also need to consider the NRA lobbying arm, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, which runs issue-based campaign ads of its own.  This organization cannot donate directly to candidates but is allowed to receive millions of dollars in donations from corporations.  It is not required to disclose the donors but manufacturers like Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger & Company have announced large donations to the NRA-ILA in the past. [CNN]  It’s public knowledge that during the two year period of the 2014 election cycle the NRA spent almost $36 million on lobbying, campaign contributions, and related political spending. [CNN]

Who Gets? Nevada Congressional candidate Cresent Hardy received $3,000 from the NRA PAC.  Joe Heck, Senate candidate in Nevada received $4,950 from the NRA PAC.

Cresent Hardy received another $2,000 from the Safari Club International PAC.  Senate candidate Joe Heck also received $2,000 from the Safari Club International PAC. Current Nevada Senator Dean Heller also received $2,000 in the 2016 cycle from the Safari Club International PAC.   The recipients are those listed in reports up to May 16, 2016. [OP.org]

The Response

The tragedy in Orlando, Florida, illustrates in a horrible way why simplistic thinking is detrimental to civil discourse in America.  And, the NRA response was perfectly predictable:

“Radical Islamic terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws. The San Bernardino terrorist attack wasn’t stopped by California’s so-called “assault weapons” ban. The gun ban in Brussels didn’t prevent the terrorist attack there. And France’s strict gun control didn’t stop the two attacks in Paris, committed with fully-automatic rifles and grenades.

Repeating the same thing but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Law-abiding gun owners are tired of being blamed for the acts of madmen and terrorists. Semi-automatics are the most popular firearms sold in America for sport-shooting, hunting and self-defense.” [USAToday]

Heck, Hardy, and Heller have accepted NRA donations, and thus we’d have to assume they adhere to the arguments set forth by the NRA – logical flaws and all.

blood drop

The line that criminals (or terrorists) are not deterred by gun control laws is getting a bit stale.  Bank robbers aren’t deterred by laws designed to prevent robberies, but we have them on the books so that those violating the laws will be prosecuted.  Gun safety regulations are just that; laws designed to keep people safer – from successful suicides, assaults with these deadly weapons, and terrorist attacks.

blood drop

There is nothing quite so illogical as setting up an impossible standard and then insisting that all legislation perfectly meet that Impossibility. No law prevents all murders, all robberies, all auto thefts, or even all terrorist attacks, BUT doing nothing isn’t really a viable option.   Again, banning the sale of sliding side cribs for infants will not prevent all infant deaths, but it has prevented some, and for that we should be grateful.  We don’t ban all toys, but we don’t allow the sale of lawn darts which killed a handful of people and injured a few thousand.  The idea isn’t that we will be Perfectly Safe, but that we will be SAFER if military style weapons and high capacity magazines are not available to every single individual in America.

blood drop

Yes, expecting a different result from the same action is silly – however, the point is that we haven’t taken ANY action to curtail the proliferation of military style weaponry in civilian hands.  In fact, we’ve done the reverse.  There are at least 70 instances in which state legislatures have weakened gun safety law since the Sandy Hook massacre. [HuffPo] Congress, as is relatively obvious, hasn’t enacted any measures related to keeping Americans safer – none.

So, let’s turn this argument around.  The NRA pleads that what we have done since Sandy Hook hasn’t made us any safer.  True – we’ve weakened laws on the books, and the Congress has done nothing; therefore, expecting our environments to be safer is “expecting to do the same things and expecting to get another result.”

blood drop

The “poor me” gun owners argument is also getting bromidic.  No one is “blaming” those “responsible gun owners” for attacks in San Bernardino, Orlando, Charlestown, Blacksburg, Fort Hood, and Aurora…

Indeed, these were carried out by the deadly delusional among us. The real question is WHY we continue to countenance the easy sale and distribution of deadly weapons, regardless of the hands unto which they are committed?

blood drop

Semi-automatics are the most popular firearm sold in America,”  is NOT an argument for believing that continuing to do nothing will make us all safer.  Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup for Babies was a very popular product in the 19th century, and indeed it would sooth those teething little critters – with the 65 mg of morphine per fluid ounce.  To Mrs. Winslow’s concoction we might add Lloyd Manufacturing’s Cocaine Toothache Drops, Kimball’s White Pine and Tar Cough Syrup, and Laudanum – the latter being exceptionally popular.  Merely because an item is “popular” doesn’t mean it is a wholesome, safe, and generally useful product.

blood drop

Military style weapons are for military and law enforcement use. Period. Yes, a person could “go hunting” with an AR-15, but why? Most hunters use sporting rifles and shotguns so as not to “mess up the meat.”  At the risk of repeating myself – a person might use an AR-15 for hunting especially if the individual is of the type inclined to use a D8 Cat to move a bag of potting soil.  As far as home defense goes – just who do they think is going to show up?    Granted my marksmanship leaves a lot to be desired, but if I haven’t hit the “target” with my first couple of shots what would make me believe that I will do any more damage with the next 30 rounds? Except perhaps to complete the total “air-conditioning” of my living room?  I don’t expect a small army of burglars. I expect that statistics will hold that most burglars operate alone and unarmed.  The odds are against my ever needing a high capacity magazine attached to a highly lethal weapon – so why bother with the purchase?

blood drop

All too often when the smoke clears from a tragic shooting we find that the motives of the shooters were a complex mix of mental illness, delusional thinking, personal issues, political ideologies, and were far more complicated than simply ascribing blame to a singular causal factor.  However much the NRA wants to believe that Orlando was exclusively a terrorist attack, and however much Daesh would like to claim it, the shooter’s ideation remains cloudy – was it homophobic? Was it terroristic? Was it both? What other factors may have been involved? Was it a dramatic version of suicide-by-cop going down in a blaze of glory when his life was falling apart?  We don’t know much at this point and we may not know much more later in the investigations.  What we do know is that it didn’t take all that much effort for him to purchase all the firepower he needed to implement his irrational plan.

Questions

To those Federal candidates and office holders like Hardy, Heck, and Heller:

1. Do you believe that anyone should be allowed to purchase a high capacity magazine for a military style weapon which can be easily modified to function as an automatic weapon?

2. Do you believe that military style weapons should be readily available in the marketplace for civilian use?

3. Do you believe that simply because we can’t prevent every tragic loss of life to suicide, homicide, or assaults that we should do nothing to alleviate the situation?

4. Do you believe that individuals who can’t pass a background check should be able to purchase guns at a gun show?

5. Do you believe  that persons who are adjudicated mentally ill, have a history of spousal abuse, or who are on “no-fly” lists should be allowed to purchase military style weapons and high capacity magazines?

Perhaps instead of taking the NRA’s nihilistic approach – there’s nothing we can do – we ought to be discussing how we can implement a general policy based on the concept that every little bit helps, and that doing Something is  preferable to doing Nothing.

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

They have nothing: The GOP and Modern American Life

Black Hole Answer: They have nothing!  Question: What does a political party do when it has failed to research, compile, and publicize a platform of policy proposals addressing American issues?  What’s happened to the Republican Party?  There area clues.

They fall back on old issues, pounding away at uninspired and unoriginal grandstanding rhetoric as if the grandstanding were an alternative in itself.  Witness the latest “vote” to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  The only alternative proposal in the hopper is Coupon Care or “Voucher Hospital,” which didn’t withstand scrutiny for the last several rounds.  The Republicans talk as if the extension of family benefits for children up to age 26 can be maintained, or the provisions disallowing elimination of insurance for pre-existing conditions can be continued, without sending the whole system into a downward spiral – unfortunately for the GOP, the system IS working.  However, that didn’t stop one more amendment to:

To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 entirely,” from hitting the floor of the U.S. Senate for another vote.  [rc 253]

You read that correctly – the Senate Republicans wanted to repeal the ACA entirely – repeal the prohibitions on refusing insurance for pre-existing conditions, repeal the insurance for young people who stay on their parents’ policies until 26, repeal  the prohibition of arbitrary rescission of coverage, repeal your guarantee of a right to ask that your insurance plan reconsider a denial of payment.  Repeal prohibition of that bogus insurance that put limits on lifetime coverage; repeal the review of premium increases; repeal the provision that at least 80% of what’s paid in for premiums must be used to pay for medical treatment.  Repeal preventive health care; repeals insurance company barriers to emergency services…. [DHHS]

It’s been five years since the Affordable Care Act and Patients’ Bill of Rights became law.  Meanwhile, the Senate tried once again to repeal the ACA and Patients’ Bill of Rights “entirely.”   Who were the 49 Senators who voted for repeal?

ACA repeal vote senate 2015And, so Senator Heller, exactly what do you propose to replace the measure which has added  16.9 million more Americans to the number of those with health insurance? [Forbes]  Spare us the vague rhetoric about “free market solutions,” or “protecting individual choices,” or “big government intrusion into American lives.”  Those 16.9 million people aren’t rhetorical place-holders, they are real Americans who want real health insurance – so, what’s your plan?  Crickets.

We can expect more rhetoric about abortion! about immigrants! about Tyranny! about anything EXCEPT those issues which should be attracting our attention, and precipitating practical remedies.

They avoid rational responses to current policy issues(1) What do we hear from our Republican representatives and officials about gun violence in America?   Reaction to the Charleston, Chattanooga, and Lafayette shootings have drawn the same old responses we heard after the IHOP shooting in Carson City, NV,  the VA Tech shooting, the Aurora Theater shooting….  The Republican response has been little more than a recitation of NRA talking points which conveniently boil down to we can’t do anything about the proliferation of guns because: 2nd Amendment.

So, they talk about “mental health,”  but between 2009 and 2011 the legislatures of 34 states cut funding for mental health care services by a total of $1.6 billion.  Some House Republicans tried to bring a funding bill to the floor last January, but as with most legislation in the GOP controlled House it got chopped into bits in the hope that some portion of it could survive. [TheHill]

It’s instructive to note that Representative Murphy introduced his bill (HR 3717) in December 2013, and it bounced around committees until a last subcommittee hearing in April 2014. [Cong]  Then came the portion of the program known as Dueling Bills, the GOP version (HR3717) vs. a Democratic party member sponsored HR 4574 – and the fight was on concerning funding for substance abuse treatment, and treatment under Medicaid, and for veterans.  [NAMI pdf]

Less rationally, Republicans tell us that our personal safety is an individual responsibility and we’d all be safer if we went to the restaurant or theater with weapons.   Former Texas governor Rick Perry:

“I will suggest to you that these concepts of gun-free zones are a bad idea,” Perry said. “I think that you allow the citizens of this country, who have appropriately trained, appropriately backgrounded, know how to handle and use firearms, to carry them. I believe that, with all my heart, that if you have the citizens who are well trained, and particularly in these places that are considered to be gun-free zones, that we can stop that type of activity, or stop it before there’s as many people that are impacted as what we saw in Lafayette.”[CNN]

And who might these “backgrounded” appropriately trained, knowledgeable, people be?  In a dark theater… and how many of these “backgrounded,” trained, knowledgeable people will it take to create complete chaos? And, more casualties?  Are we willing to create the possibility that our schools, churches, and theaters could become shooting galleries?

(2) What do we hear from the Republicans about terrorism?  Plenty, as long as we’re speaking of ISIS or Muslims.  Not so much if we’re speaking of the home grown variety.   The propaganda wing of the GOP can’t seem to remember any reports of domestic terrorism which can’t be attributed to Muslims.  Interesting, because in September 2011 the FBI released its warning about the Sovereign Citizens and their form of domestic terrorism.  The timing is important because by June 2011 the Department of Homeland Security had eviscerated the analytical unit that produced their report on domestic terrorism including white supremacist and Christian Identity activities. [WaPo]

“Last night, a shooter who held white supremacist and extreme anti-government, anti-feminist views “allegedly killed two people and wounded nine others who were watching the new comedy ‘Trainwreck,’ a film written by and starring the feminist comedian Amy Schumer.”  As the Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out in wake of the Lafayette, Louisiana, shooting, “in the last five years, an attack from the radical right was carried out or thwarted on average every 34 days and that the overwhelming majority of those attacks, 74 percent, were carried out by a single person, or a group of no more than two people.” [RRW]

We might add that two individuals associated with right wing extremism assassinated two police officers in Las Vegas in June 2014, and draped the Tea Party flag over one of their bodies. [ABC]  

The Republican formula “Say No Evil” about radicalized anti-abortionists, anti-immigrant, anti-integrationists, may work well in fund raising e-mails about Tyranny In America! or, Big Brother, or whatever the fear du jour may be, but it’s obviously NOT helping track the lone wolves who shoot police officers, or threaten to shoot BLM employees, or shoot patrons in movie theaters.

(3) What happened to that Comprehensive Immigration Bill?  A comprehensive immigration policy reform bill passed the U.S. Senate in June 2013. [NYT]  More specifically that would be 760 days ago, or 108 weeks plus 4 days, and it’s politely referred to as Stalled.  The stall began in December 2013, as the House decided to go “piecemeal.” [MPI] As of February 2014 the Speaker was whining the House couldn’t pass the bill because it didn’t trust the President. [WaPo] However, in April 2014 the Speaker was mocking conservatives for blocking the bill. [WSJ]   By June 2014 Senators were blaming ultra-conservative members of the House for the Great Stall. [9News]  The calendar moved on to January 30, 2015 and the internal struggles of the House Republicans still kept the bill in abeyance. [MPR]

760 days, 108 weeks + 4 days, or 18,240  hours later, there is still no passage of an immigration reform bill in the House of Representatives – whole or piecemeal.

In this morass it may be counted as a minor miracle if Congress can manage to pass a relatively uncontroversial highway funding bill. [TheHill]

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Congress was expected to be filled with Republicans and Democrats who having different perspectives would file differing bills on the same general topics.  Compromises would be worked out among the ladies and gentlemen of the august legislative bodies, and conference committees would work out the differences between measures.  This requires that both sides bring something to the table.  How do we know the GOP isn’t packing anything in its collective briefcase?

When the highway bill comes up they want to “repeal Obamacare” just one more time, or when legislation stalls it is everyone’s fault and no one’s fault that we can’t seem to enact comprehensive immigration policy reform.  How many votes on various and sundry “anti-abortion” proposals has the House taken, instead of taking any votes on whether or not to have universal background checks for gun sales? 

How many hours has the House spent on the Benghazi attack compared to the number of hours it has taken testimony on the condition of our roads, airports, dams, and bridges?  How much time was expended dreaming up a bill to exempt veterans from the ACA and Patient’s Bill of Rights if those individuals already had “government” insurance? (A specious proposal if there ever was one.)

How much more time before the Republicans come to realize that most of the American public – that portion not infatuated with the celebrity bashing all immigrants – would very much like to see something accomplished. 

It’s hard to accomplish anything when what’s being brought to the table is essentially nothing.

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