Monday, July 23, 2012

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

At memorial services for the Aurora, Colorado victims "hugs were shared and tears were shed", flowers were laid, and crosses placed; but in a week or so most Americans will be wondering what's up in the life of Snookie. Our lives will merrily continue on until the next massacre.

Some in this country have whined that we need to stop politicizing this tragedy and just pay homage to the wounded, the dead, and the dying. But then what? Out of sight, out of mind; like Columbine, and the Gifford blood fest?

If we truly want to memorialize the victims in this and other mass shooting horrors, we need to wipe away the tears and grow a set of brass balls. We need to take on the National Rifle Association, all members of Congress, our own local politicians and demand change to this country's gun laws.

As I sit at my desk typing, I admit to having a concealed weapons permit (CWP) in my wallet and a S & W Model 10-8 loaded with 125 grain, plus P, semi-jacket hollow points in a desk drawer. With that said, I am not suggesting that Americans should not be allowed to own firearms. What I am suggesting is that there should be common sense laws pertaining to the ownership and carry of firearms.

Take the CWP as a starting point. In Florida I cannot carry in a bar, a government building like a Post Office, at a government meeting, on school grounds, in a police station, at sports events, a polling place, or any meeting of the Legislature just to mention a few prohibited places. But why, I have to ask, do we need to carry in a restaurant, a movie theater, a church, a park, while fishing on a public pier in the middle of the city? I should clarify, you are allowed to open carry if you have a fishing pole in your possession.

The answer is, we don't, and these places plus many others should be ruled as prohibited places. There needs to be some common sense at work here, and yes I know that is a stretch, but to carry just to prove a point or compensate for a lack of "manhood" is not a valid reason.

Let me mention right here and now that I got a CWP just to see how to do it. I was amazed at how easy it was. Even a ball busting idiot can get a CWP, and there were several of those present at the Department of Agriculture office in Tampa who couldn't fill out the required forms without constant assistance. My point here is that there must be much tighter control over concealed carry permitting - especially in the areas of need and training.

As to the issue of guns, what possible justification is there in this country to be allowed to sell and own fully automatic weaponry such as an M-60 machine gun (Ted Nugent, I am referring to you, you red-neck prick), or auto or even semi-automatic assault rifles? The Aurora shooter used a civilian version of the military's M-16 in his bloody rampage. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates has said a 100-round drum magazine was recovered at the scene of the shooting in suburban Denver. Oates said such a weapon was capable of firing 50 to 60 rounds a minute.

There is no possible justification to claim these weapons are used for hunting. They have one purpose and that is to kill people. Congress needs to go back to work on this issue and rule fully automatic weapons and high capacity magazines to be illegal. And while Congress is exhibiting this rare moment of common sense (yeah, I know) they need to castrate the NRA, and that includes both Wayne LaPierre and Marion Hammer.

The NRA should be reduced to gun club status, not a major player in American politics. The damage caused by the NRA with Congressional complicity is immeasurable. This is 21st century America, not Guns R U.S. of America.

As an amateur student of law, I was pondering the other day about the possibility of tort action against the sellers, distributors, and manufacturers of the firearms used in the Aurora massacres. It crossed my mind that in a civil case these parties to a law suit could have their socks sued off. "But For" the weapons used in the killings people would not be dead and these parties should be held liable.

I should have paid more attention while attending the My Cousin Vinny School of Law. Thanks in large part to the NRA neither the victims in Aurora or any other mass killing have any recourse:

Congress voted to revoke gun-crime victims’ right to sue firearms manufacturers and dealers for damages in court with passage of Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms. This law was passed July 2005 in the Senate by a vote of 65-31. In October 2005 it passed in the House by a 283 to 144 vote. [see 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901-7903] President Bush said that he looked forward to signing this bill into law. The passage of this bill had been the National Rifle Association’s number one priority.

Critics claim the passage of this gun law reveals the gun lobby’s power over the legislature. All together now, let's utter a collective, "No S#*T, Sherlock!" That is no surprise, but the NRA must be stopped and our political leaders must take positive action to strengthen this county's outlandish gun laws. Either we the people stand up and demand change or we the people just need to sit down and shut up the next time some lunatic with a gun mows some of us down.

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