Portions of the following essay were first posted to Stonekettle Station on January 1, 2013.
Almost exactly three years ago.
Little has changed in that time. The slaughter continues unabated. Congress has so far not just failed to act but utterly refused to act. Far too many members of that corrupt and selfish body are in the pocket of the gun lobby and are far more concerned with their paychecks and campaign contributions and outright bribes than they are with the oath they swore to protect and defend America. These men and women, conservative and liberal, are cowards. Sniveling, corrupt, morally bankrupt cowards.
This is not about rights.
This is not about the Constitution.
This is about greed.
This is about blood for money.
This is about cowardice.
This about a deliberate failure of government.
More than anything this is about the fears of small and hysterical cowards who have perverted the ideals of freedom and liberty into bloody terror.
The only member of government with the courage to act is President Obama.
His actions are limited to Executive Order – that is, despite the mewling protestations of hysterical fools, the president cannot make laws. He cannot repeal them. He can only adjust how existing federal laws are implemented by the Executive Branch. And he has never pretended anything else. Ever.
For the last seven years, the president has called, repeatedly, on Congress to do their job, to sit down like rational lawmakers and seek legislative solutions to gun violence while preserving the fundamental rights outlined in the Constitution.
The president has given Congress every opportunity to do their job, to take the lead.
Congress has refused.
And if Congress refuses to act, the president must.
The following essay outlines the president’s executive action regarding gun violence. None of it is in even the slightest way unreasonable or unconstitutional or would infringe in even the smallest way with the rights of responsible gun owners. None of it. Not one goddamned word.
It is long, long past time to act.
“The thing that so angers me, and I think so angers you, is that this president is using children as a human shield to advance a very liberal agenda that will do nothing to protect them…’’
That was State Representative, Steve Toth, speaking to a crowd of torch and pitchfork waving Texans two years ago.
Toth was, of course, referring to President Obama’s push for action in the wake of high profile gun violence.
Toth accused the president of using children as human shields.
Human shields. We’ll come back to that.
Toth was speaking at a rally promoted as part of “Guns Across America” and “National Gun Appreciation Day.”
Guns across America.
National gun appreciation day.
I’ll pause for a moment so you can think about how goddamned insane that is.
National Gun Appreciation Day?
Only lunatics would dream up such ridiculous nonsense as National Gun Appreciation Day and Guns Across America.
That’s not patriotism.
That’s not liberty.
That’s not freedom.
Look here, as I’ve noted repeatedly, I myself am a gun owner. It’s very, very likely I know more about guns than you do, I’ve had extensive professional training and decades of experience in gun design, maintenance, and use. Now, I might appreciate the fine engineering or the craftsmanship that goes into making a precision machine, certainly. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it? Is it? Gun appreciation day? That’s obsession. That is mass insanity. That is in fact the very definition of insanity, worship of guns, or rather the obsessive and exaggerated lust for power over others that guns represent.
National Gun Appreciation Day is nothing but public masturbation.
Banners at the Austin rally proclaimed “An Armed Society is a Polite Society,’’ ‘'The Second Amendment Comes from God’’ and ‘‘Hey King O, I'm keeping my guns and my religion.’’
And let’s start right there.
An armed society is a polite society?
This is nothing but bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. Provable bullshit. That line, an armed society is a polite society is taken out of context from a Robert Heinlein novel. Heinlein was many things, veteran, patriot, libertarian, but he was not insane and that line was never intended as a rallying cry for those who would pervert the Second Amendment for their own selfish gratification.
I can show you armed societies, truly armed societies, we’ll start in Iraq and work our way around to Somalia via the Mexican drug corridors through gangbanger territory in Los Angeles. Universally armed societies are emphatically not polite. Not once. Not ever. And don’t we Americans make fun of comparatively unarmed societies (compared to us) such as France and Great Britain for their politeness? Canadians are so polite that it’s damned near a cliché, and yet somehow their easy going nature doesn’t seem to be at the muzzle of a gun.
If armed societies are polite societies, how do you explain Texas?
What’s the logic here? Be polite, say please and thank you, better kiss my ass, or I’ll blow your brains out?
Politeness at gunpoint is neither politeness nor a society.
The Second Amendment comes from God?
Again, bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit. And bullshit. This, this religious mumbo-jumbo, this God at the muzzle of a gun, is the very thing the Founders fought a revolution to get away from.
How many damned times do we have to go over this?
The Constitution is an agreement between human beings; it is a template for government, a basis for law.
God doesn’t get a vote.
God does not get a vote. Not my God, not your God, not anybody’s God.
God has not one damned thing to do with either the Second Amendment or any other part of the Constitution. Not in any way shape or form, not now, not ever.
I don’t care if you don’t like it. Too bad for you, you want to live where God makes the laws? Then move to Iran. In the US, God stays on his side of the room and the Constitution stays on the other. Anybody who doesn’t understand the difference between supposed natural rights (the so-called “God given” rights of the Declaration of Independence) and the manmade legal rights of the Constitution needs to stop waving their guns and bibles and go back to school – preferably one outside of Texas. The Second Amendment does not come from God. There’s no basis for this statement, not in the Constitution, not in law, not in the Federalist Papers, not in made up quotes from Thomas Jefferson, not even in the bible. It’s bullshit, utter and total bullshit, and serves only to demonstrate a profound and deliberate ignorance by those who cannot help but attempt to impose their goddamned religion on this country at every turn.
And nothing proves me right more than this: I’m keeping my guns and my religion.
Guns and religion.
It’s just me, right? Guns and religion.
It’s getting so that I can’t tell extremist Christians in America from the extremist Muslims who make up ISIS and Iran’s government.
Honestly, from where I sit, all you crazy religious people look pretty much the same.
I’m keeping my guns and religion. Guns and religion.
I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that? How in the hell do you get to guns and religion in the same sentence? Guns and religion, throw in a pickup truck, a keg of shitty beer, and an underage pregnant governor’s daughter and you’ve pretty much described modern conservatives haven’t you?
I’m not a Christian but I was raised in the church and I strongly suspect that Jesus would have bitch slapped the murderous bloody stupidity right out of these people. They understand their own religion even less than they understand the Constitution.
Meanwhile, a bit further north, Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign went predictably ape-shit, and fired off a mass mailing like a runaway AR-15 with a filed down sear.
The hysteria was almost palpable with dire warnings to Kentuckians that Obama was “coming for your guns!”
"You and I are literally surrounded. The gun-grabbers in the Senate are about to launch an all-out-assault on the Second Amendment. On your rights. On your freedom!"
That was McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.
Oh no! We’re surrounded!
Surrounded by sissy pacifist liberals! Oh My God! What if they hand us flowers and start singing? Praise God and pass the ammunition! To arms! To arms!
Benton went on to say:
"Our Founders fought a revolution to secure our rights. They would have been appalled by what they heard from an American president the other day. President Obama has the left wing media in a frenzy. The gun-grabbers are in full battle mode. And they are serious."
You know, it’s funny. Whenever the President talks about jobs or the economy or the debt, Mitch McConnell immediately accuses him of not “being serious.” How many times have we heard that exact phrase in the last four years from Mitch McConnell? The president is not serious! Guns though, Mitch is willing to take Obama at his word on that, by God.
The president specifically said that he is not trying to infringe on the Second Amendment and that any significant changes to gun laws in the US would require congressional legislation.
According to Mitch, liberals are in full battle mode.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are in a full-on panic.
For a bunch of people armed to the teeth, they sure are scared of a bunch of sissy unarmed gay liberals. It must be a hell of a way to go through life, pissing your pants all of the time.
Funny thing, I thought guns and religion were supposed to give you courage? No?
Conservatives are losing their minds over the idea of executive action on Obama’s part, once again demonstrating a profound lack of understanding of the actual Constitution and how our government actually works.
Executive orders only apply to the Executive Branch of Government.
Obama can’t just make laws and issue orders, it doesn’t work that way. All executive action can do is enforce, or not, existing law – i.e. bills already created and passed by Congress, and signed into law by the President.
And you’d think people obsessed with the Constitution would know that.
The president unveiled a legislative package which he urged Congress to pass in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown massacres.
Now, that package included a ban on assault weapons and armor piercing bullets and a 10-round limit on magazines. Note that the president can’t out and out ban assault weapons, armor piercing ammunition, or restrict hi-cap magazines, those things require legislation. Which is what he asked congress to think about. Obama isn’t acting like a dictator despite conservative hysteria, he’s acting like a president – and polls show that a majority of Americans want some kind of control over these weapons.
That’s the president’s job, to ask congress to look into it.
However, McConnell's message calls the president’s proposals a "thinly-veiled scheme,” and McConnell pledged that he will oppose not only legislation but executive actions as well. And he has – all while taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the National Rifle Association.
Obama’s suggestion that limits be placed on certain weapons and ammunition has no chance of becoming any kind of law.
Obama’s suggestion that Congress do its job and explore other options has been utterly rebuffed. Congress has made it clear that they will not under any circumstance risk the approval and largess of the gun lobby. They would rather see the blood of Americans run freely in the streets than risk their office or bankroll.
Congress, they are cowards, one and all.
And so, the only option open to the president is Executive Action.
Obama’s Executive Actions are a result of the the Vice President's commission on gun violence, which recommended twenty-three executive actions:
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
Obama will order federal agencies, i.e. agencies responsible to the Executive, to provide personal data to the background check system.
Now, that’s the background check system which is supposed to help keep guns out of the hands of crazy people and criminals. This is the system that the NRA claims they support – and really, why shouldn’t they?
And keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill and criminals is also something the NRA and Gun Lobby say they support.
There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to oppose this action. None. Unless you do believe that those with dangerous mental illness and/or criminals should be allowed buy and own guns. And if you do, please explain why in the comments below. I’d love to hear it.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
Again, this is exactly what conservatives have been calling for. Less government, less regulation, less red-tape. Keep guns out of the hands of crazy people and criminals.
And again, why would anybody oppose making the very system they say they support work better?
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
The background check system is only as good as the information available to it. Much of that information, at the state level is provided voluntarily. The president cannot order the states to provide information, nor has he attempted to do so in any way. What he has done, is to suggest incentives for states to provide that information voluntarily. This is no different than the incentives encouraging states to set speed limits or standardize state issued drivers licenses.
And again, if you want to keep guns out of the hands of the murderous nuts and the criminals, wouldn’t you want the system to have access to that information? If not, why not? Please explain in the comments. I can’t wait to hear it.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
Even the most ardent of gun rights advocate thinks there are people who shouldn’t have guns. Kids, criminals, terrorists, the dangerously mentally ill.
This Executive Action simply orders the AG to review those categories and suggest updates to existing regulations.
Again, review the criteria currently used to prohibit individuals from having a gun. Is there a regulation that prevents a known member of ISIS from buying a gun? Is there? How do you know without a review? If there isn’t, shouldn’t there be?
Note: This review cannot change the regulation or change the criteria used to implement the regulation. It can however provide accurate information to Congress, should they decide to update the law.
Note: Would such an update keep a known terrorist from obtaining a gun? No, probably not. But if he can’t buy it legally from a gun dealer, then merely attempting to do so would alert authorities, and should he then go elsewhere to the criminal underground he becomes that much more vulnerable to law enforcement operations. Isn’t that what you want?
Note: This was the concern of a number of conservative lawmakers and used as justification to oppose immigration of Syrian refugees – i.e. possible Islamic terrorists hiding among them would be able to buy guns from any gun store legally.
Again, if you oppose this idea, and you think children, criminals, and members of ISIS should be able to purchase guns legally in the United States, I’d love to hear why.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
I honestly can’t imagine why anybody other than criminals would oppose this.
If somebody is arrested and their guns impounded, why wouldn’t you want their record checked before those guns are returned? Why would anybody, especially those currently caveating their social media posts with #bluelivesmatter and #alllivesmatter, want the police to return guns to those who are legally prevented from having them?
If guns don’t kill people, if people kill people, then why would you hand a gun to people who have demonstrated the inclination to murder others?
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
All we’re talking about here is guidance to gun dealers on how to use the background check system. Hardly totalitarianism.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
Why would anybody be opposed to this? Hell, the gun lobby, gun dealers, and responsible gun owners should be leading the charge on this. This, right here, safe and responsible gun ownership was the founding ideal of the National Rifle Association.
If you are opposed to a campaign promoting safe and responsible gun ownership, by all means tell me why in the comments. By all means.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
We have the Consumer Product Safety Commission review TV sets and waffle irons to make sure they don’t burn our houses down, why wouldn’t you want the same review and testing applied to gun locks and safes?
You tell me you’re a responsible gun owner. You say you keep your guns locked up. If you’re going to spend money on an expensive safe, on trigger locks, don’t you want to know if they’re any good? Don’t you want them engineered to the minimum standards necessary to do the job you bought them for?
Please, explain to me how having the Consumer Product Safety Commission review standards for guns safes and trigger locks infringes on your Constitutional Rights in any way whatsoever. You’re not even required by federal law to use those devices.
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. 10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
Why would anybody oppose either of these actions?
11. Confirm an ATF director.
For the last eight years, that’s eight years, Congress has refused to confirm an ATF director under either George Bush or Barack Obama.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, and Firearms has fewer agents now than it did in 1970 and takes up to eight years between inspections of gun stores because of a lack of personnel. The agency is prohibited from creating a searchable computer database for gun ownership records and has been leaderless for eight years.
This is entirely because congressmen beholden to the gun industry won’t allow confirmation of an ATF director. Understand, the Senate hasn’t rejected Obama’s nominations, they won’t even allow them to come up for debate. In other words, the Senate refuses, absolutely refuses, to do their Constitutionally mandated job for no other reason than they are being bribed by the National Rifle Association.
Eight years, folks, now you tell me what these people are afraid of. Go on, I can’t wait to hear it.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
THIS WAS THE NRA’S IDEA.
This was the NRA’s idea. So what’s the problem? Who opposes proper training for first responders and law enforcement? Go ahead, you tell me why. You explain to me how training law enforcement, first responders, and school teachers what to do in an active shooter situation infringes on your right to keep and bear arms. Go right ahead. Spell it out, line by line, detail by detail, and show your work. Let’s hear it.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
Again, THIS IS CONSERVATIVES’ IDEA.
Enforce existing laws. Prosecute crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, isn’t that what the NRA has been telling us?
It’s the people, not the guns.
So don’t you want to know why people kill people?
Let’s see, conservatives won’t let us do anything about guns, but they don’t want us to do anything about the people who use guns to commit mass murder. Logically (if that word can be used in this context) it would appear that conservatives are ok with mass slaughter.
Be honest, what exactly are conservatives afraid of here?
There is only one reason why anybody would be afraid of this research. Only one reason.
Think about that. Take all the time you need. It’ll come to you.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
Boy, sure wouldn’t want the AG to issue a report! Oh no, not a report! Anything but a report.
We wouldn’t want to know about new gun safety technologies, or the challenges to implementing some of these things, or methods for helping the gun industry develop safer guns. We’re all about research that leads to the development of more deadly weapons and ammunition, but not safer guns.
Note that this isn’t even a concrete action. It’s a report regarding the availability and most effective safety technologies. You know, the very thing you can find in damned near any gun magazine.
Also note that the AG can’t mandate gun manufacturers implement any of those technologies – that would require an act of Congress. The president is only instructing the AG to make the information available. That’s it.
And really, how horrifying would it be if the government actually helped gun makers produce safer weapons? The government did that with cars and look what we ended up with, seat belts and air bags and anti-lock brakes, we hardly ended up with fascism as a result. What we got was better cars.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. 17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
Sure wouldn’t want to know if somebody with murderous tendencies or clinical depression or adverse mental issues has easy access to a gun, right?
Because, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but people who might kill themselves or kill other people shouldn’t be asked if they have access to guns which don’t kill people. Conservative logic, conservative tautology.
Again, ask yourself what’s the real concern here? What are conservatives really afraid of?
Think about it. If crazy people aren’t allowed to have guns…
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. 19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
Again, ARMED GUARDS IN SCHOOLS IS THE NRA’S IDEA.
So why are gun rights advocates against it when the president agrees with them?
Maybe Obama should propose arming Latinos and black people, see how long it takes for conservatives to start screaming for gun control.
Tell me, why would responsible gun owners oppose schools and churches and colleges developing a plan to deal with emergencies?
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover. 21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges. 22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations. 23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
Now according to the gun nuts, it’s not the guns, it’s the crazy people.
But they’re opposed to anything that might help keep crazy people from picking up a gun and killing other people.
The only option conservatives will support is the one where they get to carry guns so they can shoot crazy people with guns.
There you have it. Obama’s executive actions.
I’ve listed them all. Go read them again.
Show me one, just one, Executive Order that infringes on your Second Amendment rights in any way whatsoever.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
The thing that so angers me, and I think so angers you, is that this president is using children as a human shield to advance a very liberal agenda that will do nothing to protect them…
No, Representative Toth, it doesn’t anger me.
What angers me are fear mongers like you.
Hateful, paranoid, fearful little rabble rousers like you, that’s what angers me.
Frightened insecure gun nuts who can’t seem to differentiate between their dick and their pistol, that’s what angers me.
The fact that when children are slaughtered in a riot of blood, when adults are killed in a hail of bullets, when Americans are gunned down on the streets of the United States every single goddamned day, the first thing people like you think of is to run out and buy more fucking guns.
That’s what angers me, Congressman Toth.
I’ll tell you what really angers me, that fact that as a gun owner myself, as somebody who has owned and used and taught firearms for most of my adult life, I get lumped in with lunatics like you and the NRA, that’s what pisses me off more than anything else, Representative Toth.
And really human shields?
At least President Obama thinks of children as human.
Unlike Representative Toth and his friends down at the NRA who seem to regard kids as little more than pop-up targets.
The only thing Gun Appreciation Day did for me, was make me appreciate the fact that today America has a president and a vice president with the courage to face these idiots head on.
Go get them, Mr. President.
Obama is not coming for your guns.
It is time to decide where you stand. The gun nuts have drawn their line of death in the sand, which side are you on? Choose. It is time for sane and rational Americans to stand their ground in the face of this murderous bloody lunacy and push back with with determination and grit. There are more of us than them. Many of us are armed too. I’m not afraid of these fuckers and you shouldn’t be either. Get off your ass, pick up your phone, log into your computer, or march your ass down to your local representative’s office AND PUT THESE COWARDLY BASTARDS ON NOTICE.
Listen to me, if you are taking orders from the likes of Wayne Lapierre, Tom Selleck, and Ted Nugent, you are a fucking idiot. The NRA doesn’t represent me and it for goddamned sure doesn’t defend my rights. Not now. Not ever.
Now, right now, it is time to stand with your president.
Get on it.
- Jim Wright/Stonekettle Station
Addendum 1: Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence
The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, (Update) Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity
Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijers Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun. I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family. Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I’m an Alaskan and I typically carry a gun in the wilds of Alaska on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.