Daily Archives: January 25, 2011

2011 State of the Union – 91% Approved?

6,849 Words, 27 standing ovations and lasting just over an hour.

Lofty words, calls for “unity” now that his party no longer has a stranglehold on government, but is “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment” really a viable plan?

Lots of anecdotal history mentions, but concrete ideas? He said he would veto any bill containing earmarks, but hasn’t the left claimed all along that earmarks don’t add to the deficit?

“More investment?” Isn’t investment what ballooned the debt?

SOTU Transcript


And, what shows up in my email a half an hour later”

CBS posted a poll after wards claiming,

“An overwhelming majority of Americans approved of President Obama’s overall message in his State of the Union on Tuesday night, according to a CBS News Poll of speech watchers.”

“91 percent of those who watched the speech approved of the proposals Mr. Obama put forth during his remarks, while only nine percent disapproved.”

Buried towards the bottom of the post, “Americans who watched the speech were generally more Democratic than the nation as a whole.”

CBS.com

Did the GOP response offer anything? “A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it’s imperative.”

Where?

“What we already know about the President’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.”

“Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree — and we think his health care law would be a great place to start.”

What else can be cut?

GOP Response Transcript

Did Michele Bachman’s Tea Party alternate response help or hurt?

“[H]ere’s a few suggestions for fixing our economy. The president could stop the EPA from imposing a job-destroying cap-and-trade system. The president could support a balanced budget amendment. The president could agree to an energy policy that increases American energy production and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.”

“The president could also turn back some of the 132 regulations put in place in the last two years, many of which will cost our economy $100 million or more. And the president should repeal Obamacare and support free-market solutions, like medical malpractice reform and allowing all Americans to buy any health care policy they like anywhere in the United States.”

Transcript

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Rahm Emanuel back On Ballot – Already!

UPDATE, January 27: The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that Emanuel remains on the ballot. Read more at Chicago Tribune

It’s a good thing they didn’t waste too much time on deliberations.

————————————-

Well, that didn’t last long.

NBC Chicago is reporting:

“The Illinois Supreme Court has granted Rahm Emanuel’s stay. Which means he’s back on the ballot.”

“Earlier today Emanuel’s spokesman Ben Labolt said the mayoral candidate had plans to turn to the U.S. Supreme Court if he didn’t receive a favorable ruling from the state.”

What? Did you think the law would actually be followed?

NBC Chicago is also reporting: “Rahm says he talked to the president about his predicament.”

Asked about the discussion, Emanuel said, “I’m discreet about conversations. It was a very good conversation.”

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Democrats Mount Another Assault on Citizens United: Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee

One year ago, in a pre planned, history making fit of incivility, the President of the United States called out members of the US Supreme Court for their decision in the Citizens United case.

The decision allowed companies and unions to give money directly to campaigns without having to go through a 527c “issues” group. Democrats knew that this decision, which reestablished previously settled law on freedom of speech for corporations–and the people who run them–would begin putting business minded people on the same footing as unions and their fund raising apparatus.
As flawed as it is, here’s a wiki description of the decision:

Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010), was a landmarkUnited States Supreme Court holding that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment. The 5–4 decision, in favor of Citizens United, resulted from a dispute over whether the non-profit corporation Citizens United could air a film critical of Hillary Clinton, and whether the group could advertise the film in broadcast ads featuring Clinton’s image, in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act.[2]

Even though unions were under the umbrella of the Citizen’s United decision, public sector and other unions sought to demonize it and used their mouthpiece in chief, Barack Obama, to do it. In the most infamous and naked manner the President did it during last year’s SOTU.
As unions worked against the CU case, they were working on the side with NY Senator Chuck Schumer on their ‘plan B,’ This was called the DISCLOSE Act. This Act would shut up the political speech of corporations (of which unions and news outlets are a part for instance).
The DISCLOSE Act notoriously gave only certain groups the right to give money to campaigns. Most famously the NRA supported the DISCLOSE Act but only after getting exempted from it. But there was another, huge group of people who would be exempted from the Act: unions.
Now they’re back to lie about the Citizens United case again. And there helping them out are Schumer and Senator Harry Reid.

The President was once a lecturer on constitutional law. It’s hard to believe that anyone who appreciates the unique nature of our constitution and the relationship Americans have with their government would want that changed. But he does. Obama has yearned for rewriting the constitution to create “affirmative” rights for Americans (read: limiting rights of individuals and growing government power). He’s lamented that the activist Warren court wasn’t radical enough and wished the constitution redistributed wealth. Here, and here.
It’s hard to overstate the radical nature of the President’s hopes and dreams for the constitution and our country. I believe if we did what the President has suggested that Americans would be turned from citizens to subjects.
The President should know better and he does. That’s why he cannot be trusted with our liberty. Challenge 2012 awaits.
We must politically fight against this man, his unions and minions. They want to shut us up and shut us down and shut us out. They have their friends in the mainstreams, Hollywood, unions, schools and higher ed to carry their message. We have a big job to do.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Zero Warns of Anti "Plastic" Bag Ban "Mystery" Polling While Mum on Pro Ban Poll

Evil Skulking Stranger Seeks Your Opinion
The Zero’s editorial writers are moonlighting as news reporters, and editors again. Take this story which appeared on Friday and which we talked about yesterday on the program. 
See the headline to the right? Yes, that’s a dispassionate, objective, story about—mysterious pollsters asking— GASP questions about the proposed plastic bag ban sponsored by State 
Senators Mark Hass and Jason Atkinson.
The plastic bag ban and paper bag tax are based on false  assumptions which I’ve spoken about on many occasions on the program and blogged several times here,here, here, here.
The Zero reports that the mysterious pollster is asking questions about bacteria in reusable bags, lead in bags imported from China, a source of many, if not most, of the reusable bags in use now. Both of these assertions have been alleged and shown to be true. See here and here. The pollsters in this story may have been engaging in push polling for all I know. What’s interesting to me is the fact that the Zero reports this story but fails to report on the polling done to support their side of the “plastic” bag ban when the city of Portland considered it. Whatever they’re asking on the phone to Oregonians about the bag ban can’t be as bad as THIS poll question asked of Portlanders last July:

“Single-use petroleum-based plastic shopping bags pollute our land, contribute to a swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas off Oregon’s coast, and continue our dependence on dangerous foreign oil supplies. Making paper shopping bags is a toxic process that pollutes our rivers. To encourage more use of reusable shopping bags, do you favor or oppose banning plastic bags in the City of Portland and requiring a 5-cent fee on paper bags?”

All the lies, half truths, mischaracterizations in the above statement have been highlighted. I haven’t looked into the process of making paper bags so didn’t fact check that part of the question, but something tells me they’re not polluting Oregon rivers to the extent the pollster asserted. 
And what did the Zero report on THIS poll? Nothing. Well, ok, that’s not entirely true. See the search here. They did have one report on their website about this outrageous, rickety poll. It was Here. 
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

The High Price of Freedom NOT FOR PUBLICATION YET NEEDS EDITING



In March of 1981,Jodie Foster and President Reagan had three things in common John Hinckley Jr., mental illness and a gun. It was clear in one place that the relationship would need to be tied together in a dramatic way. In that place there was an undeniable need to protect a commitment to one by taking the life of another. In that place a shadow of an idea became an irresistible voice. The voice was not about the need to act but the duty to act.  The place was the mind of John Hinckley. Where the voice became the plan and the plan became the gun.  The motivator and equalizer in the mind of Hinckley was not the gun. But in the moment it was his mental illness.

Despite the best efforts of the world’s best day to day Presidential protective agency the Secret Service Hinckley’s mental illness won out and the contest was not all that close.  That is the thing about mental illness it does not need plan to be dangerous. In the nearly successful assassination of President Reagan the plan was very complex, walk through up to him and shoot.  No plan to secret himself, no plan escape, no plan to discard the gun, no plan past the duty to act at all.  Consequences are never to be feared in the mind of the mentally ill because they are never part of the plan. Once on a final track to act, the lack of consequences in the calculation of such troubled individuals take away the last barrier to the carnage that often follows.

In January of 2011, Senator Gabrielle Giffords and a nine year old who was the future of this country had three things in common, Jared Loughner, mental illness and a gun. And thirty years later the debate about the mentally ill and guns has gone nowhere with any meaningful result. It must be that the cost of freedom is only defined by how many times we can fail the mentally ill and at the same how many times we pretend the expressed sorrows of a nation get us a pass for meaningful public safety policy change.

The circumstances surrounding shootings in Tucson Arizona that broke the silence of the New Year again beg us to address the mental illness on the streets of this country in an entirely different way.  The loss of those killed and injured should shake us into realizing that getting bogged down in an argument blaming guns for the consequences will get us no where.  We must act decisively to get guns out of the hands of the mentally ill before they self identify as the shooter did in Arizona. 

We need to start from a different place than the evil of guns and the instant individual responsibilities of the mentally ill. Arguing over guilt and guns gets us no where.  We need to get real about getting guns out of the hands of the mentally iil.  Getting real means redefining the what the Second Amendment debate.  It means putting our fears aside in the interest of a safer America without unduly depriving us of our Second Amendment rights.

I mean both the fear that any gun especially any hand gun out there is bad and that any restrictions on access to a hand gun is a plot to disarm the citizenry. Stop the argument at the extremes and narrow it to protecting the unsuspecting when guns and mental illness come together to kill. Guns don’t kill people but guns we legally place in the hands of those we know or as the law often says “should know” are a likely danger to others in the uncontrolled environment of the streets.

When high profile gunfire has been involved we are yet to properly the deaths and injuries suffered by victims and their families. Time after time when we fail to use the tragedy of the moment to bring sanity to the discussion of really changing our failure to substantively reduce to guns by the mentally ill.  

And there is nothing too general about the term mentally ill  in this conversation.  There are few incidents like the shootings in Arizona that is not proceeded by the shooters actions and statements that clearly warn of the potential for the big trouble that often follows. 

Protecting our nationally prominent elected officials is only a small part of the story.  Unfortunately it takes a tragedy of congressional and presidential proportion to give us yet another chance to begin to get this issue right. But so far again we race to the extreme. It does not help when congressional members carrying guns upstage the real issue here.  As if that hype does anything other than to distract us from the task at hand. 

Guns including handguns get into lives, homes and onto the streets in four clearly different ways. 

Guns are sold by Federally License Firearms Dealers;
guns are sold and traded between private parties including through large venues like gun shows; 
guns are stolen and make their way to the directly street as a result of these crimes or 
guns originally stolen in one crime are sold,traded or arranged for to potentially commit other crimes. 

While this is really a national discussion lets take it to the streets of Oregon.  As of today someone who is mentally ill even diagnosed (I didn’t say committed) as such can get a gun in Oregon  through any one of these avenues. So where do we do we start to limit the access to guns by those uncommitted or yet to be committed mentally ill?  Certainly by not allowing the scope of the issue to paralyze us from implementing real legislative change that will have measurable results. 

We start with creating “No Buy Lists” required to be held by federally licensed dealers. The ease of purchasing a firearm by those who have displayed seriously unbalanced behavior tinged with violent rhetoric and gets worse overtime is too high. Because they have may not been the subject of a formal mental health process including court commitment they are free to purchase whatever gun and whatever high capacity ammunition magazine lawfully available.

That includes from federally licensed dealers.  Yet these dealers in Oregon have the instant ability to check a person’s background which may be used to deny the purchase of a gun. We have the facts at hand that when it comes to the mentally ill that we need to take the next step.

The problem is that we have been too timid about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill often at our own peril.  We need to creating legally sufficient criteria by which a judge can decide that a person regardless of a formal mental commitment or long term mental health treatment, should not be allowed to buy a gun.  We must define a petition process by which law enforcement, family members or mental health professionals without violating can petition the court based for such a prohibition.

Once a court has determined that the criteria has been meet and issues the court order that name becomes part of a No Buy list until a court orders it removed.  This anticipates the right of the person to have a hearing prior to the order being instated. Also the legislation needs to define an appeals process as a remedy to the immediate decision and later to demonstrate to the court that the name should be removed from the No Buy List.

The court process is key to ensuring that the Second Amendment rights of any individual is not put at risk by being falsely labeled as too unstable to buy a gun.  It is also key to give law enforcement and others with a direct connection to the mental health of the person and the potential danger they present a reliable and realistic way of dealing with a ticking time bomb. 

The criteria developed for the court to consider should need to clearly demonstrate that there is greater potential risk by allowing the purchase of a firearm than denying it. It cannot be so restrictive so that the threshold for making the No Buy List is equal to a civil mental commitment.  That standard would discourage law enforcement from even trying.

As a nation we have decided that certain persons may present too great risk to board an airplane and so we have created No Fly lists. I clearly recognize the difference between the the availability of an airline seat and the right to own a firearm. However the question is less about the right to own a firearm than the availability of a licensed prchase in the first place. After all we would never argue that we should license the mentally ill to buy a gun would we? Because now that is what we are doing through our not at fault federally licensed dealers. 

We should also recognize that this in now way puts the firearms out of reach of the mentally ill.  From the list of access points above obviously there are lots of guns out there.  But stay with me as I argue that we have to start a meaningful discussion and move in a positive direction now, right now.  To imagine we can take it all on at once is foolhardy and gets us nowhere.  To not take it on at all threatens all of us but especially the mentally ill, their families and their victims. But lets not forget that at some point this issue threatens our Second Amendment rights when it again explodes if you will forgive my reference.

Raising the public policy of consciousness of our lawmakers is of value it and of itself.  Protecting the rights of gun owners is served when we begin to protect our mentally ill from themselves by starting here with gun purchase.  Finally, we need to find an entry point to fight the good fight of remaking the disgrace of a mental health system we have in this state at least.  The cops need our help to keep the mentally ill out of jail and out of deadly trouble. We need to help them by giving them a practical tool they can use to make us safer.

Yes, the price of freedom is high. We now must decide how a what value we place on our freedom and how high a price we willing to pay for our freedoms and why. Because if we wait I guarantee you the names yet unknown and the common cause of guns in the hands of the mentally ill will find us a nation in sorrow once again.

Rahm Emanuel back On Ballot – Already!

UPDATE, January 27: The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that Emanuel remains on the ballot. Read more at Chicago Tribune

It’s a good thing they didn’t waste too much time on deliberations.

————————————-

Well, that didn’t last long.

NBC Chicago is reporting:

“The Illinois Supreme Court has granted Rahm Emanuel’s stay. Which means he’s back on the ballot.”

“Earlier today Emanuel’s spokesman Ben Labolt said the mayoral candidate had plans to turn to the U.S. Supreme Court if he didn’t receive a favorable ruling from the state.”

What? Did you think the law would actually be followed?

NBC Chicago is also reporting: “Rahm says he talked to the president about his predicament.”

Asked about the discussion, Emanuel said, “I’m discreet about conversations. It was a very good conversation.”

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Democrats Mount Another Assault on Citizens United: Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee

One year ago, in a pre planned, history making fit of incivility, the President of the United States called out members of the US Supreme Court for their decision in the Citizens United case.

The decision allowed companies and unions to give money directly to campaigns without having to go through a 527c “issues” group. Democrats knew that this decision, which reestablished previously settled law on freedom of speech for corporations–and the people who run them–would begin putting business minded people on the same footing as unions and their fund raising apparatus.
As flawed as it is, here’s a wiki description of the decision:

Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010), was a landmarkUnited States Supreme Court holding that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment. The 5–4 decision, in favor of Citizens United, resulted from a dispute over whether the non-profit corporation Citizens United could air a film critical of Hillary Clinton, and whether the group could advertise the film in broadcast ads featuring Clinton’s image, in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act.[2]

Even though unions were under the umbrella of the Citizen’s United decision, public sector and other unions sought to demonize it and used their mouthpiece in chief, Barack Obama, to do it. In the most infamous and naked manner the President did it during last year’s SOTU.
As unions worked against the CU case, they were working on the side with NY Senator Chuck Schumer on their ‘plan B,’ This was called the DISCLOSE Act. This Act would shut up the political speech of corporations (of which unions and news outlets are a part for instance).
The DISCLOSE Act notoriously gave only certain groups the right to give money to campaigns. Most famously the NRA supported the DISCLOSE Act but only after getting exempted from it. But there was another, huge group of people who would be exempted from the Act: unions.
Now they’re back to lie about the Citizens United case again. And there helping them out are Schumer and Senator Harry Reid.

The President was once a lecturer on constitutional law. It’s hard to believe that anyone who appreciates the unique nature of our constitution and the relationship Americans have with their government would want that changed. But he does. Obama has yearned for rewriting the constitution to create “affirmative” rights for Americans (read: limiting rights of individuals and growing government power). He’s lamented that the activist Warren court wasn’t radical enough and wished the constitution redistributed wealth. Here, and here.
It’s hard to overstate the radical nature of the President’s hopes and dreams for the constitution and our country. I believe if we did what the President has suggested that Americans would be turned from citizens to subjects.
The President should know better and he does. That’s why he cannot be trusted with our liberty. Challenge 2012 awaits.
We must politically fight against this man, his unions and minions. They want to shut us up and shut us down and shut us out. They have their friends in the mainstreams, Hollywood, unions, schools and higher ed to carry their message. We have a big job to do.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

North Carolina Mayor Invites Anti-War Group to Vietnam Veterans Homecoming

Fayetteville, North Carolina is a thriving community directly outside the gates of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the famous 82nd Airborne for quite some time and amongst the largest of US Army bases in the country. Hundreds of thousands of Army Soldiers have trained there and been stationed there since it was created in 1918.

That the city of Fayetteville is dependent upon Ft. Bragg today is an understatement.

During the turmoil of the Viet Nam War, it was also the scene of several anti-Vietnam protests targeting soldiers, encouraging them to desert and trying to convince them how wrong they were to answer the draft, as many had or enlist to fight in Viet Nam. Due to much public sentiment against soldiers in the era, while I was stationed at Ft. Bragg the city was referred to as “Fayettenam.”

It was also there in 1969 that the infamous ‘Quaker House,” a small group devoted to demoralize the soldiers under the guise of “helping them” was created. They, like several other groups, sponsored anti-war rally’s targeting soldiers and Veterans even though they won’t admit it, took out their frustrations on returning Viet Nam Veterans, labeling us “Baby Killers,” “Murders” and other such nonsense. They also featured ‘Hanoi’ Jane Fonda, who to this day portrays herself as the victim of outrage over her treasonous activities, in no less than 3 anti-Vietnam rallies.

That is why I was absolutely stunned, livid and speechless for a few moments after reading about what seems like a well-intentioned Heroes Homecoming by the City of Fayetteville in November 2011 was to include Quaker House as part of the 10 day “Homecoming” to “honor Viet Nam Veterans.”

Mayor Tony Chavonne, a Democrat who never served in any branch of the Military and was first elected mayor in 2005 says of the decision to ask the anti-Vietnam group be included, “Fayetteville’s 10-day tribute to Vietnam veterans this fall should portray a complete picture of the era and its impact on the city – including opposition to the war,” adding, “It is an important part of the story we’re trying to tell.”

Chuck Fager, director of the Quaker House who proposed showing two anti-war films of the era, “Coming Home” and “FTA” said of the era, “We’re part of that story.”

Yes, a part that continues to fester in open wounds to many Viet Nam Veterans falsely accused of daily war crimes, murder, and other monstrous lies. A part that any sane person with half an ounce of decency would be ashamed of today.

Chavonne adds, “Heroes Homecoming is meant to give Vietnam War Veterans ‘the homecoming that they never received’.”

What obviously escapes this dolt of a mayor is what he proposes to do IS exactly the homecoming we received back then. Will he have them assemble to begin the spitting again? Yes, even though those responsible back then today call us liars for saying it happened and it was never documented, they are wrong as these news articles show. And yes, there are more where these came from.

Both Fager and Chavonne indicate they wish it to be “a full-fledged conversation of the Vietnam War,,, including discussions, educational presentations and a series of films that give a different viewpoint of Vietnam.”

Has the public ever been treated to another viewpoint of Viet Nam other than that written by the anti-war crowd that forced the hand of the government to abandon a struggling ally? Has the country ever given an open ear to those of us who served there, lost buddies there and saw first-hand that the anti-war crowd was dead wrong?

They won’t even admit their ill-treatment of returning Veterans, some actually claiming it was the returning “damaged” Veterans attacking them! Even failed 2004 presidential candidate, John ‘F’in Kerry, a sweetheart of the anti-Vietnam War crowd them said to the Fulbright Commission in his infamous “testimony” given in 1971, “The country doesn’t know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence…” forever tainting the 2.6 Million of us who served there as “monsters.”

Melissa Rivera, leading the public relations for “Heroes Homecoming” says, “This is a national event. This has potential to be huge.”

It might have, Melissa. Bringing up the old wounds and allowing your mayor to rub our noses in the discontent taken out on us years ago isn’t exactly what I felt was in mind during the initial planning, but it is what it appears to have become.

That “potential to be huge” could turn out to a big bust should other aging and current anti-war cretins decide they will be present to protest the current war, Troops or even us aging Veterans.

You have a huge potential problem on your hands if you can’t knock some sense into your mayor’s head.

I, for one, have no plans to return to Fayetteville for this event. As long as it will include giving another platform to those who gave such dishonor to returning Veterans, I hope other Viet Nam Veterans boycott it as well.

Sorry Fayetteville, but you do us no honor by rubbing our noses into old wounds that you do not allow to heal.

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

Zero Warns of Anti "Plastic" Bag Ban "Mystery" Polling While Mum on Pro Ban Poll

Evil Skulking Stranger Seeks Your Opinion
The Zero’s editorial writers are moonlighting as news reporters, and editors again. Take this story which appeared on Friday and which we talked about yesterday on the program. 
See the headline to the right? Yes, that’s a dispassionate, objective, story about—mysterious pollsters asking— GASP questions about the proposed plastic bag ban sponsored by State 
Senators Mark Hass and Jason Atkinson.
The plastic bag ban and paper bag tax are based on false  assumptions which I’ve spoken about on many occasions on the program and blogged several times here,here, here, here.
The Zero reports that the mysterious pollster is asking questions about bacteria in reusable bags, lead in bags imported from China, a source of many, if not most, of the reusable bags in use now. Both of these assertions have been alleged and shown to be true. See here and here. The pollsters in this story may have been engaging in push polling for all I know. What’s interesting to me is the fact that the Zero reports this story but fails to report on the polling done to support their side of the “plastic” bag ban when the city of Portland considered it. Whatever they’re asking on the phone to Oregonians about the bag ban can’t be as bad as THIS poll question asked of Portlanders last July:

“Single-use petroleum-based plastic shopping bags pollute our land, contribute to a swirling mass of garbage twice the size of Texas off Oregon’s coast, and continue our dependence on dangerous foreign oil supplies. Making paper shopping bags is a toxic process that pollutes our rivers. To encourage more use of reusable shopping bags, do you favor or oppose banning plastic bags in the City of Portland and requiring a 5-cent fee on paper bags?”

All the lies, half truths, mischaracterizations in the above statement have been highlighted. I haven’t looked into the process of making paper bags so didn’t fact check that part of the question, but something tells me they’re not polluting Oregon rivers to the extent the pollster asserted. 
And what did the Zero report on THIS poll? Nothing. Well, ok, that’s not entirely true. See the search here. They did have one report on their website about this outrageous, rickety poll. It was Here. 
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com

The High Price of Freedom NOT FOR PUBLICATION YET NEEDS EDITING



In March of 1981,Jodie Foster and President Reagan had three things in common John Hinckley Jr., mental illness and a gun. It was clear in one place that the relationship would need to be tied together in a dramatic way. In that place there was an undeniable need to protect a commitment to one by taking the life of another. In that place a shadow of an idea became an irresistible voice. The voice was not about the need to act but the duty to act.  The place was the mind of John Hinckley. Where the voice became the plan and the plan became the gun.  The motivator and equalizer in the mind of Hinckley was not the gun. But in the moment it was his mental illness.

Despite the best efforts of the world’s best day to day Presidential protective agency the Secret Service Hinckley’s mental illness won out and the contest was not all that close.  That is the thing about mental illness it does not need plan to be dangerous. In the nearly successful assassination of President Reagan the plan was very complex, walk through up to him and shoot.  No plan to secret himself, no plan escape, no plan to discard the gun, no plan past the duty to act at all.  Consequences are never to be feared in the mind of the mentally ill because they are never part of the plan. Once on a final track to act, the lack of consequences in the calculation of such troubled individuals take away the last barrier to the carnage that often follows.

In January of 2011, Senator Gabrielle Giffords and a nine year old who was the future of this country had three things in common, Jared Loughner, mental illness and a gun. And thirty years later the debate about the mentally ill and guns has gone nowhere with any meaningful result. It must be that the cost of freedom is only defined by how many times we can fail the mentally ill and at the same how many times we pretend the expressed sorrows of a nation get us a pass for meaningful public safety policy change.

The circumstances surrounding shootings in Tucson Arizona that broke the silence of the New Year again beg us to address the mental illness on the streets of this country in an entirely different way.  The loss of those killed and injured should shake us into realizing that getting bogged down in an argument blaming guns for the consequences will get us no where.  We must act decisively to get guns out of the hands of the mentally ill before they self identify as the shooter did in Arizona. 

We need to start from a different place than the evil of guns and the instant individual responsibilities of the mentally ill. Arguing over guilt and guns gets us no where.  We need to get real about getting guns out of the hands of the mentally iil.  Getting real means redefining the what the Second Amendment debate.  It means putting our fears aside in the interest of a safer America without unduly depriving us of our Second Amendment rights.

I mean both the fear that any gun especially any hand gun out there is bad and that any restrictions on access to a hand gun is a plot to disarm the citizenry. Stop the argument at the extremes and narrow it to protecting the unsuspecting when guns and mental illness come together to kill. Guns don’t kill people but guns we legally place in the hands of those we know or as the law often says “should know” are a likely danger to others in the uncontrolled environment of the streets.

When high profile gunfire has been involved we are yet to properly the deaths and injuries suffered by victims and their families. Time after time when we fail to use the tragedy of the moment to bring sanity to the discussion of really changing our failure to substantively reduce to guns by the mentally ill.  

And there is nothing too general about the term mentally ill  in this conversation.  There are few incidents like the shootings in Arizona that is not proceeded by the shooters actions and statements that clearly warn of the potential for the big trouble that often follows. 

Protecting our nationally prominent elected officials is only a small part of the story.  Unfortunately it takes a tragedy of congressional and presidential proportion to give us yet another chance to begin to get this issue right. But so far again we race to the extreme. It does not help when congressional members carrying guns upstage the real issue here.  As if that hype does anything other than to distract us from the task at hand. 

Guns including handguns get into lives, homes and onto the streets in four clearly different ways. 

Guns are sold by Federally License Firearms Dealers;
guns are sold and traded between private parties including through large venues like gun shows; 
guns are stolen and make their way to the directly street as a result of these crimes or 
guns originally stolen in one crime are sold,traded or arranged for to potentially commit other crimes. 

While this is really a national discussion lets take it to the streets of Oregon.  As of today someone who is mentally ill even diagnosed (I didn’t say committed) as such can get a gun in Oregon  through any one of these avenues. So where do we do we start to limit the access to guns by those uncommitted or yet to be committed mentally ill?  Certainly by not allowing the scope of the issue to paralyze us from implementing real legislative change that will have measurable results. 

We start with creating “No Buy Lists” required to be held by federally licensed dealers. The ease of purchasing a firearm by those who have displayed seriously unbalanced behavior tinged with violent rhetoric and gets worse overtime is too high. Because they have may not been the subject of a formal mental health process including court commitment they are free to purchase whatever gun and whatever high capacity ammunition magazine lawfully available.

That includes from federally licensed dealers.  Yet these dealers in Oregon have the instant ability to check a person’s background which may be used to deny the purchase of a gun. We have the facts at hand that when it comes to the mentally ill that we need to take the next step.

The problem is that we have been too timid about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill often at our own peril.  We need to creating legally sufficient criteria by which a judge can decide that a person regardless of a formal mental commitment or long term mental health treatment, should not be allowed to buy a gun.  We must define a petition process by which law enforcement, family members or mental health professionals without violating can petition the court based for such a prohibition.

Once a court has determined that the criteria has been meet and issues the court order that name becomes part of a No Buy list until a court orders it removed.  This anticipates the right of the person to have a hearing prior to the order being instated. Also the legislation needs to define an appeals process as a remedy to the immediate decision and later to demonstrate to the court that the name should be removed from the No Buy List.

The court process is key to ensuring that the Second Amendment rights of any individual is not put at risk by being falsely labeled as too unstable to buy a gun.  It is also key to give law enforcement and others with a direct connection to the mental health of the person and the potential danger they present a reliable and realistic way of dealing with a ticking time bomb. 

The criteria developed for the court to consider should need to clearly demonstrate that there is greater potential risk by allowing the purchase of a firearm than denying it. It cannot be so restrictive so that the threshold for making the No Buy List is equal to a civil mental commitment.  That standard would discourage law enforcement from even trying.

As a nation we have decided that certain persons may present too great risk to board an airplane and so we have created No Fly lists. I clearly recognize the difference between the the availability of an airline seat and the right to own a firearm. However the question is less about the right to own a firearm than the availability of a licensed prchase in the first place. After all we would never argue that we should license the mentally ill to buy a gun would we? Because now that is what we are doing through our not at fault federally licensed dealers. 

We should also recognize that this in now way puts the firearms out of reach of the mentally ill.  From the list of access points above obviously there are lots of guns out there.  But stay with me as I argue that we have to start a meaningful discussion and move in a positive direction now, right now.  To imagine we can take it all on at once is foolhardy and gets us nowhere.  To not take it on at all threatens all of us but especially the mentally ill, their families and their victims. But lets not forget that at some point this issue threatens our Second Amendment rights when it again explodes if you will forgive my reference.

Raising the public policy of consciousness of our lawmakers is of value it and of itself.  Protecting the rights of gun owners is served when we begin to protect our mentally ill from themselves by starting here with gun purchase.  Finally, we need to find an entry point to fight the good fight of remaking the disgrace of a mental health system we have in this state at least.  The cops need our help to keep the mentally ill out of jail and out of deadly trouble. We need to help them by giving them a practical tool they can use to make us safer.

Yes, the price of freedom is high. We now must decide how a what value we place on our freedom and how high a price we willing to pay for our freedoms and why. Because if we wait I guarantee you the names yet unknown and the common cause of guns in the hands of the mentally ill will find us a nation in sorrow once again.