Tag Archives: Las Vegas Shooting

Unspoken: Mass Shootings Fade From Memory

On October 1, 2017 a large crowd gathered at a country-western music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.  At the end of the evening 58 were dead and 851 were injured.  The incident was only 122 days ago.  Since the tragedy has faded from memory, and certainly from the headlines, perhaps it’s time for a reminder of several key factors: (1) the massage casualties were caused by gun fire; (2) the lethality of the weapons used was enhanced by the addition of a bump-stock; and (3) the initial call for the elimination of bump-stock sales has diminished into memory.

Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Fl 26) introduced H.R. 3999 to address the bump stock issue on October 10, 2017.  It has not moved since.  Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Senate version (S 1916) on October 4, 2017.  Her bill got a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 6, 2017.   Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto spoke during the first panel during this hearing.  The ATF spokesman participated in the second panel and told the committee his agency issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on December 4, 2017 and invited public comment as to whether bump stocks should be addressed in the agency’s classification system. [pdf]  The ATF rule-making process has ten steps, and there is the potential for delays and diversions prior to adoption.  Nor was this a complete version of the story.

The agency was unsure as of December 5, 2017 if it had the authority under existing statutes to issue a ban on the manufacture and sale of bump stocks. [USAT]  [HuffPo] And, to make matters a bit more complicated, “The ATF has submitted an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget. The process, which will require public hearings, generally takes eight months to a year to complete.” [OL 12/26/17]

The Federal Register published the following concerning the bump stock review:

“The Department of Justice anticipates issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would interpret the statutory definition of “machinegun” in the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Gun Control Act of 1968 to clarify whether certain devices, commonly known as “bump fire” stocks, fall within that definition. Before doing so, the Department and ATF need to gather information and comments from the public and industry regarding the nature and scope of the market for these devices.”

The Department set a deadline for written comments:

“Written comments must be postmarked and electronic comments must be submitted on or before January 25, 2018. Commenters should be aware that the electronic Federal Docket Management System will not accept comments after Midnight Eastern Standard Time on the last day of the comment period.”

Thus, all written comments were due last Thursday, 116 days after the slaughter.  As for this year’s state of the union address, one Congressman, Dan Kildee (D-MI) invited a guest who is an activist on behalf of gun victims. [Hill] Meanwhile, there have been 22 mass shootings in the United States during the first month of this year, thankfully none using a bump stock, 158 accidental shootings, and 14 shootings since yesterday. [Trace]

Granting that haste makes waste, it does seem ages ago when the rampage ended at the music festival, another age since the testimony concerning the regulation of bump stocks, and another age since the initiation of rulemaking reviews.    122 days and counting.

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Scary Stuff Indeed

Yesterday was an extremely interesting day, replete with all manner of scary stuff compliments of social media platforms and a Special Counsel. However, not all of the frightening items were associated with the Trump Campaign’s eagerness to get the produce of Russian hacking, and Russian assistance.  Here’s some other stuff in the GOP treat basket:

ICE again proves its ultimate heartlessness and horrifying lack of understanding of what it means to “protect” Americans; illustrated by the case of Rosa Maria Hernandez — a ten year old with cerebral palsy undergoing gall bladder surgery.  And, this isn’t the only case — there was the story of parents arrested while their child was having brain surgery, the arrest of an undocumented Iraqi man who was serving as a bone marrow donor for his niece, and a brain tumor patient pulled from a hospital.  ICE thus becomes the ultimate Halloween Scary Story.  Candidates for public office ought to be ask outright how they would assist in the process of getting immigration officials to adhere to their own guidelines on “sensitive locations.’

Nobody in the GOP appears to be all that outraged that the Trump Campaign not only accepted assistance from the Russians, but actively sought to get the goods on Secretary Clinton from Russian sources.  This isn’t normal, or even paranormal — it’s the kind of thing that would make any other campaign (Democratic or Republican) call the FBI if the Russians showed up at the door with treats.  But still, #45 refuses to accept the fact that the Russians at least meddled and at most attacked the US with campaign “assistance” — social media help; opposition research; and, (the part we keep ignoring) attempts to hack into the voting systems of at least 21 and possibly 39 states.  We do need much more attention paid to the last item on the list since the Cult-45 group persists in saying this is a Spook, there’s nothing to see here.

Somehow a tiny company in Montana got a whopper contract, now cancelled, to supply power to the entire island of Puerto Rico.  Nothing puts a place like Whitefish, Montana on the map like having the Secretary of the interior stammering he’s nothing to do with this — and if I believe this then you could easily get me to believe that all the little spookies at the door are Real!

It’s been 30 days since the tragic Las Vegas Shooting, and what has the Congress done to limit high capacity magazines? Bump stocks? Anything?  This month has been a nightmare for the families of the deceased, and the families of the injured.  The nightmare will continue until politicians stop being terrified of the National Rifle Association.

Republicans have been unable to explain away the specter of Opioid Abuse while cutting massive amounts of funding from Medicaid.  The GOP budget calls for cutting some $1.5 trillion from the program over the next decade — while 30% of opioid treatment is covered by Medicaid insurance.   States, already strapped by the crisis will have to either come up with more funding or ration care — speaking of Death Panels…

The Senate of the United States believes that individual Americans are perfectly capable of taking on The Big Banks all by themselves — Super Heroes in Litigation.  So, on October 24, 2017 the Senate voted to dismiss a CFPB rule that would have allowed class action law suits against the Big Banks by ripped off customers; forcing those customers into individual arbitration.  Senator Dean Heller was pleased to vote in favor of this nightmare.

This list seems long enough to send sentient beings into the closet for the Halloween Season, one almost shudders to think what more the Republicans have in mind — like the tax cuts for the 1% and questionable benefits for the rest of the population…

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Filed under anti-immigration, Gun Issues, Immigration, Medicaid, Politics

The Story Almost Lost in Las Vegas

If you haven’t bookmarked the Nevada Independent, please do so.  There’s a reward for you. Stories that almost get lost in the maelstrom of corporate media find a home therein.  Like this one:

“In a letter dated Sept. 25, attorney Mark Ferrario — representing Nevadans for Background Checks, the group that backed the ballot question — gave Sandoval and state officials a deadline of Oct. 9 to begin implementing the ballot measure before they turn to the court system to settle the matter.”

Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Governor Sandoval haven’t covered themselves in glory on gun issues in the Silver State. Did you catch the date? September 25, 2017. In a matter of days the Issue No One Wants To Talk About Now Except For People Who Are Tired Of Not Talking About It raised up in an horrific way.  Lives lost, lives interrupted and disrupted by injuries, lives transformed by heinous nightmares, lives shattered by loss.

One of the saddest elements of this story is that, no, more thorough background checking may not have prevented this act of evil.  But, the GOP test is irrational.  If any legislation must prevent the last carnage then there’s never a way to make any progress.

What would have prevented the shooter at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando being a disaffected disconnected loser with personal and domestic issues, from packaging his issues into a flurry of violence?  Certainly, some mental health therapy might have been useful, but there is more than one element to a crime.  He acted out his anger and disturbance with an AR-15.

The shooter at Virginia Tech in 2007 was a student with a history of mental health issues. Again, those issues contributed to his act, but the act could not have been accomplished without being able to secure a Walther P22 and a  9-mm Glock semi-automatic pistol.

Another misfit with serious social and emotional problems used a Savage Mark II to murder his mother before taking four other guns to the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  He used a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S semiautomatic rifle to complete his massacre of teachers and little children.

No gun regulation bill is going to solve the psychological, emotional, and social problems of individuals who use guns to act out their various motives and grievances.  However, while the study of motives is informative and interesting it doesn’t address what made the atrocities so deadly.  It doesn’t take rocket science to see that in the three examples given above the acts were increasingly deadly because of the nature of the weaponry involved.

Members of the Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, SC would have benefited had there not been a loophole in the background check laws, exploited by Dylan Roof. [NYT]  More thorough background reviews might have mitigated the shooting at Virginia Tech.  The point is that these examples call for greater care in the process of background checks, and NOT for dismissing the utility of background checks because of some perceived failure to stop a specific atrocity.

Perhaps it’s time for Governor Sandoval and AG Laxalt to move back from their slippery slope arguments against the common sense application of restraints on gun ownership and use, and note that church members, students, theater goers, night club revelers, and concert attendees have the right to be safe from the predations of the devils who invade their public spaces with ever more deadly weapons.

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

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

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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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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This Flag Isn’t Funny Anymore

Gadsden Flag Not Funny

Tea Party members had some fun with their Gadsden Flag. Some waved it at soccer games, others flew it on poles. Others combined it with a Confederate Battle flag, and still others added captions of their own.  The fun is gone now.

Two Las Vegas Metro officers are dead.  Shot by a pair of white supremacists.

Witnesses told police one of the shooters yelled “This is the start of a revolution” before shooting the officers. Gillespie later said he could not confirm that.

The shooters then stripped the officers of their weapons and ammunition and badges, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation. They then covered the officers with something that featured the Gadsden flag, a yellow banner with a coiled snake above the words, “Don’t tread on Me.” [LVRJ]

Let’s speculate for a moment what will happen to all those yellow banners in the wake of this tragedy.

There will be Gadsden flag owners who quietly fold up their flags and put them away in cupboards, drawers, or closets.  They may well believe that whatever antipathy they have toward the government, it doesn’t do to wave a banner which was used to cover the bodies of police officers.

There may also be some enablers.  Their banners may be relegated to the closet, but they will add this to their litany of complaints.  IF the shooters hadn’t used the flag it would still be authentically American. The shooters by their lights are marginal, and not representative of the Tea Party movement, they are “not one of us.”

We’ll probably get some response from the excusers.  IF the government hadn’t threatened to use force at the Bundy Ranch, IF the government hadn’t killed the person who assaulted the Georgia courthouse, IF the NSA didn’t spy on civilians, (blah, blah, blah) then the Patriots would not have felt compelled to drape the slain officers in the yellow flag.  Now they can’t fly their flag anymore because ‘liberals’ will refer to the Las Vegas shooting.

A tiny minority will gather to the yellow flag cause.  The two shooters will be martyrs, just what they might have had in mind.  There are still some among us who find Timothy McVeigh a martyr to The Cause.  Still some inclined to believe every e-mail forwarded to their inboxes filled with vitriolic, hyperbolic and wildly false information which they believe validates their warped world view.

But, this wasn’t “going out in a blaze of glory.” This was an ambush on two police officers who were having lunch.  Two men, doing their job, for their community, their friends and their families.  It was nothing more than a cowardly attack on two unsuspecting peace officers.  Nothing more.

Yellow is the color of cowards.

 

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