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Thursday, 18 April 2013

A shameful day in Washington

Something truly appalling happened in Washington this week -- and yes, I said Washington, not Boston, where three people were killed in a bomb attack on the Boston marathon, and not Texas, where several people died when a fertiliser plant exploded.

In Washington, last night, the US Senate failed to approve a measure that would have gone a little way -- a very little way, in all honesty -- to tightening up controls on gun sales.

There can't be many places on earth where legislators think it's perfectly OK for absolutely anyone to buy a gun online, or at a gun show, without having to pass some kind of check on their background.

Sometimes, I read something and think to myself: "There is no way I could have said that any better." So here is part of such an article, written in the New York Times by the former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in January 2011.

"Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

"I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

"I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

"People have told me that I’m courageous, but I have seen greater courage. Gabe Zimmerman, my friend and staff member in whose honor we dedicated a room in the United States Capitol this week, saw me shot in the head and saw the shooter turn his gunfire on others. Gabe ran toward me as I lay bleeding. Toward gunfire. And then the gunman shot him, and then Gabe died. His body lay on the pavement in front of the Safeway for hours.

"I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job.

"They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing."

The Financial Times reported today: "Although polls show that about 90 per cent of voters back mandatory checks for all gun sales, the bill’s provisions were more modest than the universal background checks that Mr Obama promoted after the Newtown shootings, when 26 people, including 20 children, were killed."

In which case, why weren't more senators prepared to back the proposals? I can think of only one explanation, and it's the one suggested by Gabrielle Giffords: that they are more frightened of incurring the wrath of the pro-gun lobby than they are of more children being gunned down in yet another murderous rampage.

No wonder President Obama called it "a pretty shameful day for Washington."

4 comments:

Jon said...

Adopted at the end of 1791, the second amendment of the US constitution reads:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

It seems to me that a variety of reasons led to this constitutional amendment, adopted when only 14 states comprised the United States but, in my opinion, the lack of a coherent United States army – or National Guard – was probably the most relevant.

The "lower 48" states were not finalised until the admission of Arizona in 1912 with Alaska and Hawaii completing today's United States in 1959.

The National Guard – the national militia – was officially formed in 1903. However the United States army may be described, it appears that the National Guard fulfils, in every respect, the definition of "a well regulated Militia".

This raises the question, why does every citizen of the United States have the right to "bear arms"?

It remains a mystery to me why the US Supreme Court has failed to interpret "a well regulated Militia" (singular) as being the National Guard and, therefore, ruled that the right of the people, in general, to bear arms is nullified.

Gaye Berry said...

One thing about guns: You can shoot "suspects". They die, and with them dies the truth.
e.g. 19 year old held in custody is still only ‘a suspect’. After the largest hunt in N.E. history - est.9,000 local & federal police, hundreds of bomb squad workers & SWAT marksman, anti-terror specialists & visible contingent of heavy military vehicles - house-to-house searches - a 19 year old HS wrestling champion & University of Massachusetts student, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was suspiciously located just blocks from the original shoot-out. He's been transferred to a hospital, serious condition due to gun shot wounds, including a very convenient throat injury. Alledgedly, the boy was discovered, bleeding to death under a tarp covering a boat in someone’s Sommerville driveway. For this result we have: accolades to 'bravery' of Boston’s 9,000 finest!
MSNBC "expert" Engel - Dzhokhar, who is now in hospital care, “was probably being debriefed”. Odd phrase for an an alleged terrorist fugitive with throat injury, don't you think?

Faced with any threat, after pumping up with corporate media and THIS NEW AMERICAN POLICE STATE, people, not only radiate to guns, but they seem to clamour for Martial Law. Was this the real objective?Even the Commander ‘n Chief felts that America owes this new over-the-top Police State a “debt of gratitude”.

Who benefits?
Do the people of Boston - the American people? How about gun lobbies? After Boston, TSA & DHS will almost certainly be given new jurisdiction over all major professional & sporting events. In light of the recent budget sequester debate in Washington DC, you can also expect that their operating budgets WILL EXPAND, which means many more billions will be awarded in federal contracts from these departments. The surveillance industry will also benefit. Oh so pathetically, US drifts into a military state, a police state, and the Govt has Americans begging for this "protection", brained-washed with patriotism & clamouring for guns.
Boston events have serious “national security implications”. Now Americans can expect new powers, passed by law or by executive order, that will give the state increased power to spy upon their private lives and to seize their property or assets under the ever-expanding banner of national security…and of course you can forget those background checks re fire-arms - no time, no need.

There are question not being asked!
1. Why was a Saudi national let go early on, flown to Saudi Arabia by federal authorities.
2.Why were the two brothers suddenly labelled as the prime suspects, replacing the previous two names being pursued by Boston police?
3. Why were security ‘contractors’ standing next to bombs at the finish line, only to be seen quickly leaving before the bombs detonated? Why was situation identified as a "drill"?
5. Why did the FBI FAKE the surveillance video they released two days ago of the Tsarnaev brothers? Did older brother Tamerlan have a FBI handler before this event?
The dead suspect mother claimed that her son was already being watched by the FBI for five years.
During an exclusive interview with RT yesterday the Tsarnaev boys’ mother explained, “He was controlled by the FBI, for three, five years”. She added, “They knew what my son was doing, they knew what actions and what sites on the internet he was going. They used to come and talk to me, telling me that he was really a serious leader and they were afraid of him.”
Obviously, Americans - up to the highest levels - have their fingers on the trigger, but their brains are malfunctioning. This "terrorist" attack does not bear-up through scrutiny.

quietoaktree said...

Mr. Lustig

Sorry --my attempt at having lively and controversial discussions on your blog --has obviously failed miserably.

dceilar said...

Makes you wonder why bother voting If the elected politicians' concerns are with those with money rather than those who elected them. This tragedy will go on till we have state funding of political parties IMO.