Tag Archives: Guns

This is the age of video violence

Returning from a vacation in Southwest Florida, I missed President Donald Trump’s speech in which he offered a bowlful of leftover porridge to the families of the victims in El Paso and Dayton. When I endured three minutes before switching the YouTube station to a SZA track, I noted again the president’s talent for reading Teleprompters as if reciting hostage demands. Any proposal to curtail the availability of guns, he — there’s no other word — warned, must be tied to immigration blah blah the WALL BUILD IT etc. This way when the effort expires he can blame the Democrats. Oh: also Dungeons & Dragons or something. The political courage staggered me. Continue reading

Uh, let’s repeal the Second Amendment

“By describing gun rights as foundational to the nation and liberty through the Second Amendment, it elevated guns and related issues into a cultural and political identity that went beyond the legal technicalities of gun control,” German Lopez wrote almost two years before in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings, two years before two — not one, two — mass shootings turned America into Fallujah in twenty-four hours. Continue reading

‘I should burn in hell and I was a deformity’

Decapitated Barbie dolls, dirty laundry, and a van whose interior smelled like thirteen rotting possums. And Sayoc, the Trumpist nut, was an asshole homophobe too.

His former boss at a Fort Lauderdale pizza restaurant said Sayoc, who worked there as a delivery driver during the graveyard shift, would openly mock her for her sexuality and proclaim his love for Adolf Hitler and ethnic cleansing.

“When he found out I was a lesbian the second day, he told me I should burn in hell and I was a deformity, that God made a mistake with me and I should go on an island with Hillary Clinton and Rachel Maddow and Ellen Degeneres and President Barack Obama and all the misfits of the world,” said Debra Gureghian, the general manager at New River Pizza & Fresh Kitchen, where Sayoc worked from January 2017 to January 2018.

Gureghian, a lesbian, said she could not fire Sayoc for his racist and bigoted views. She said Sayoc appeared to have a split personality of sorts. In the same breath, the “dependable” employee would call her a pimple on a flea and still loyally follow her every command.

I remind readers that we homosexuals are expected to smile and even laugh off these cracks like Gureghian did; it’s our life. Yet if we called Sayoc a racist we’d have to worry about Sayoc or his friends waiting for me by my car holding a two-by-four.

Protests can work

And sometimes in the midst of death we get life:

Publix is backing down in a standoff with survivors of this year’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, saying it has suspended political contributions.

The regional supermarket chain, which is based in Florida, announced its decision amid a “die-in” at several Publix stores in the state to protest the supermarket chain’s financial support for a gubernatorial candidate who opposes gun control.

Publix said Friday in a statement that it will “suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we reevaluate our giving processes.”

Earlier this week, the company had suggested future political donations might be handled differently, saying that “We did not intend to put our associates and the customers they serve in the middle of a political debate.”

The lead organizer of the demonstration, which took place Friday afternoon, was Florida teen David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were shot to death and 17 others were injured in a Feb. 14 rampage by a former student.

For all the drool about Publix sandwiches and the marvels of being an employee, the company has a history of reaction. Until recently, it denied PrEP drugs (or pre-exposure prophylaxis) to employees, took an awful long time to support partner benefits, and is not exactly cool about how it treated farmers.

John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment

The retired John Paul Stevens, ninety-seven, published a column in today’s NYT in which the following words appeared:

But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “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.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.

For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”

Although his admonition ends as it’s getting interesting, he’s not writing for lawyers or legal scholars – he’s throwing down a gauntlet. Besides, Stevens’ dissent in District of Columbia v. Heller wades into the Second Amendment’s textual history:

The Amendment’s use of the term “keep” in no way contradicts the military meaning conveyed by the phrase “bear arms” and the Amendment’s preamble. To the contrary, a number of state militia laws in effect at the time of the Second Amendment ’s drafting used the term “keep” to describe the requirement that militia members store their arms at their homes, ready to be used for service when necessary. The Virginia military law, for example, ordered that “every one of the said officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates, shall constantly keep the aforesaid arms, accoutrements, and ammunition, ready to be produced whenever called for by his commanding officer.” Act for Regulating and Disciplining the Militia, 1785 Va. Acts ch. 1, §3, p. 2 (emphasis added).12 “[K]eep and bear arms” thus perfectly describes the responsibilities of a framing-era militia member.

This reading is confirmed by the fact that the clause protects only one right, rather than two. It does not describe a right “to keep arms” and a separate right “to bear arms.” Rather, the single right that it does describe is both a duty and a right to have arms available and ready for military service, and to use them for military purposes when necessary

I recommend reading this dissent over lunch. Stevens, who wrote the first drafts of his opinions himself (i.e. without the intervention of clerks), used plain English. And I support today’s column – a chimera, I know.

Defeating gun culture: ‘We should be able to hold multiple truths at the same time’

My friend Justin Jacoby Smith, an activist for many years, posted this cogent summary on Facebook written by a colleague, a response to fusty adults shaking their pince-nez at the progeny of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding a change to gun culture:

We should be able to hold multiple truths at the same time. One, that the young people today had more nuance and courage in professing obvious differences and pledging solidarity – authentically – than mostly all adults with the hot takes. Can you imagine if being called out to identify your privilege was met with the humility that we have witnessed from these young folks today, not self-flagellating despair among adult activists? I don’t know, because I honestly haven’t witnessed it. I am sure there was a lot that went on behind the scenes, but to an outsider, it seemed like genuine learning.

Second, the gigantic rift between liberal white led gun reform orgs and black led gun violence orgs is decades old, and the former have an obvious leg up to influence post-Parkland policy directives because racism is real and opportunism is rampant. Nothing from the students’ Guardian policy manifesto editorial (which is mostly bad!) is any different from what mainstream GVP orgs have been advocating for, for years. These are the same orgs that responded to Pulse with No Fly No Buy. Their politics are no surprise. Why anyone expects the Neera Tanden variety of Dems to come around to the greater truth is still a mystery to me.

In summary, the policy world is a ruthless battlefield and we cannot expect young people to write the solutions for a radical new world within the month (or be prepared to challenge bad policy with better one) when we’ve been barely hanging on ourselves. They are fortunate to have met kids that deal with this every single day in New Orleans and DC and Chicago – all we should hope for is that their relationships are lasting and transformative, and surpass the strength of *all* the vultures.

Follow some amazing folks at Community Justice Reform Coalition to start – and give the kids a chance.

By all means listen to criticism, but remember the cleverness with which the Parkland students have hooked up with activists of other colors and creeds — and Parkland, which I covered as a Sun-Sentinel reporting intern in the early 2000s, is as white as they come.

The importance of seizing the moment

After watching the performances of the blocs of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students in the last several days, Dahlia Lithwick distills what she has learned:

The Stoneman Douglas students don’t seem to be wasting their time debating or negotiating with the gun lovers on the other side. They are simply working to get gun legislation passed, to raise awareness, and to energize other young people. As someone who has devoted the greater part of the past year to an intramural media debate about whether to give up completely on the other side or to strive to change hearts and minds, it’s refreshing to see that this doesn’t really matter. Stoneman Douglas can’t be bothered with David Brooks. Endless progressive debate over engagement with opponents or the lack thereof and the complex moral nuance of allyship is a luxury these kids cannot afford and aren’t bothered by. Good for them. They have work to do. If Wednesday night’s CNN town hall proved anything, it was that the National Rifle Association and GOP senators literally have no answers for them. They aren’t wasting time on gentle persuasion. They know when they are being lied to.


Conservatives prefer their victims silent and passive. When they start to actually evince anger, they are denounced as either lying fabricators (like Rob Porter’s former wives) or “crisis actors” (like the students at Stoneman Douglas High). Unless you are calling for more cops, more guns, more walls, more prisons, and more punishment, you are a nuisance to be derided and denied. And that’s the beauty of the Parkland kids. They don’t care.

As even the most casual forensic examination of the corpses shows, an AR-15 bullet does more damage than a handgun’s:

With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky. If a victim takes a direct hit to the liver from an AR-15, the damage is far graver than that of a simple handgun shot injury. Handgun injuries to the liver are generally survivable unless the bullet hits the main blood supply to the liver. An AR-15 bullet wound to the middle of the liver would cause so much bleeding that the patient would likely never make it to a trauma center to receive our care.

A repeal of the Second Amendment, however chimerical, should be the long range goal much like breaking the back of Plessy v. Ferguson‘s separate but equal ruling was for the NAACP in Supreme Court cases of the 1930s and 1940s.