Heather Whaley

U.S.A.

Tag: Gun Control

Kids! Make Sure that Stranger Handing You Candy Has a Gun, Otherwise He Might Be a Psycho.

In what I can only assume is an effort to show the world that gun owners are just regular folks, a group called Gun Rights Across America is planning a big protest for October 19 in which they will strap on their weapons, come to your town, and PASS OUT CANDY.  No, I have not been hacked.  This is a real thing.

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So these guys think kids should take candy from ARMED strangers?  And they say I’m a bad mom?  In a way, this is kind of awesome because it’s just about the STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD.  I need a drink.

 

 

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This Actually Happens.

Just in case anyone tries to tell you that mentally ill people aren’t allowed to buy guns, or that background checks are required for all gun sales.  Some people assume you’re as stupid as they are.

Senator Corker Gets a Call

Here’s a little fun I had yesterday.  Notice how the woman on the phone admits Senator Corker seems to want mentally ill people to buy guns.  And that she does not agree with him.  Hmmm.

Someone is waiting to hear from you.

What a shameful day in America.  Today we saw a disgraceful display of cowardice by our US Senators.  Here are the office phone numbers of the Senators who voted no on background checks.   This is a big blow to our freedom, to our public welfare, and to America.  Give them a call, and tell them we will not give up, we demand change, we will not forget this vote and their days in the Senate are numbered.  You will enjoy this.

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Lamar Alexander, TN

Phone: (202) 224-4944

 

Kelly Ayotte, NH

202-224-3324

 

John Barrasso, WY

202-224-6441

 

Max Baucus, MT

(202) 224-2651

 

Mark Begich, AK

(202) 224 – 3004

 

Roy Blunt, MO

(202) 224-5721

 

John Boozman, AR

(202) 224-4843

 

Richard Burr, NC

(202) 224-3154

 

Saxby Chambliss, GA

202-224-3521

 

Dan Coats, IN

(202) 224-5623

 

Tom Coburn, OK

202-224-5754

 

Thad Cochran, MS

202-224-5054

 

Bob Corker, TN

202-224-3344

 

John Cornyn, TX

202-224-2934

 

Mike Crapo, ID

(202) 224-6142

 

Ted Cruz, TX

(202) 224-5922

 

Mike Enzi, WY

(202) 224-3424

 

Deb Fisher, NB

(202) 224-6551

 

Jeff Flake, AZ

202-224-4521

 

Lindsey Graham, SC

(202) 224-5972

 

Chuck Grassley, IA

(202) 224-3744

 

Orin Hatch, UT

(202) 224-5251

 

Heidi Heitkamp

(202) 224-2043

 

Dean Heller, NV

202-224-6244

 

John Hoeven, ND

202-224-2551

 

James Inhofe, OK

(202) 224-4721

 

Johnny Isakson,  GA

(202) 224-3643

 

Mike Johanns, NB

(202) 224-4224

 

Ron Johnson, WI

(202) 224-5323

 

Mike Lee, UT

202-224-5444

 

Mitch McConnell, KY

(202) 224-2541

 

Jerry Moran, KS

(202) 224-6521

 

Lisa Murkowski, AK

202-224-6665

 

Rand Paul, KY

202-224-4343

 

Rob Portman, OH

202-224-3353

 

Mark Pryor, AR

(202) 224-2353

 

James Risch, ID

202-224-2752

 

Pat Roberts, KS

(202) 224-4774

 

Marco Rubio, FL
202-224-3041

 

Tim Scott, SC

(202) 224-6121

 

Jeff Sessions, AL

(202) 224-4124

 

Richard Shelby, AL

(202) 224-5744

 

John Thune, SD

(202) 224-2321

 

 

David Vitter,  LA

(202) 224-4623

 

Roger Wicker, MS

(202) 224-6253

Most Likely to…. Reduce Gun Violence

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There is a book out called, Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick.  It came about through a symposium at the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  It begins with a startling statistic.  “On January 21, 2013, President Obama took the oath of office for his second term.  Unless we take action, during those four years some 48,000 Americans will be killed with guns.”

The authors explain their motivation thusly:

One month—to the hour—after the harrowing and unfathomable massacre of 20 children and 6 adults in a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, Johns Hopkins University convened a summit that brought together preeminent researchers on gun violence from across the country and around the world. This was a moment when advocates, lobbyists, and politicians on both sides of the gun-control debate were beginning to mobilize and spar. In this unruly mix, Johns Hopkins seized the opportunity to discharge a critical role of research universities and provided principled scaffolding for the debate. We wanted to use the opportunity to cut through the din of the shrill and the incendiary, the rancorous and the baseless, and provide rigorous, research-based considerations of the most effective gun regulations and the appropriate balance between individual rights and civic obligation. 

So what did they find out?  Turns out, quite a lot.  They consulted the best research on the subject, compared what worked and what didn’t work in past policy.   It’s quite good.  I think a lot of people will be surprised that their recommendations are not already in place.  Most people don’t know that even if you have a restraining order against you, in some states you can not only keep the guns you have, but you can buy more.  If you’ve been convicted of stalking, you can buy a gun under current law in many states.  This is what we mean by COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS.  It’s unimaginable to me that our legislators are struggling with the idea of background checks for all gun sales.  They’re not even bothering with private sales – which means that I can buy any number of guns, and sell them privately to whomever I choose whether they be a gang member, terrorist, or depressed housewife, with no check whatsoever.  That doesn’t make sense.  I recommend you pick up a copy, but I have provided here the recommendations they put forth that are, “the most likely to reduce gun violence in the United States.”

Background Checks
Fix the background check system by doing the following:

  •  Establish a universal background check system, which would require a background check for all persons purchasing a firearm (with an exception for inheritance transfers).
  • Facilitate all sales through a federally licensed gun dealer. This would have the effect of mandating the same record keeping for all firearm transfers.
  • Increase the maximum amount of time for the FBI to complete a background check from 3 to 10 business days.
  • Require all firearm own ers to report the theft or loss of their firearm within 72 hours of becoming aware of its loss.
  • Subject even those persons who have a license to carry a firearm, permit to purchase, or other firearm permit to a background check when purchasing a firearm.

Prohibiting High-Risk Individuals from Purchasing Guns
Expand the conditions for firearm purchase:

  • Persons convicted of a violent misdemeanor would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 15 years.
  • Persons who committed a violent crime as a juvenile would be prohibited from firearm purchase until 30 years of age.
  • Persons convicted of two or more crimes involving drugs or alcohol within a three-year period would be prohibited from firearm purchase for a period of 10 years.
  • Persons convicted of a single drug-trafficking offense would be prohibited from gun purchase.
  • Persons determined by a judge to be a gang member would be prohibited from gun purchase.
  • Establish a minimum of 21 years of age for handgun purchase or possession.
  • Persons who have violated a restraining order issued due to the threat of violence (including permanent, temporary and emergency) would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Persons with temporary restraining orders filed against them for violence or threats of violence would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.
  • Persons who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking would be prohibited from purchasing firearms.

Mental Health

  • Focus federal restrictions on gun purchases by persons with serious mental illness on the dangerousness of the individual.
  • Fully fund federal incentives for states to provide information about disqualifying mental health conditions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun buyers.

Trafficking and Dealer Licensing

  • A permanent director for ATF should be appointed and confirmed.
  • ATF should be required to provide adequate resources to inspect and otherwise engage in oversight of federally licensed gun dealers.
  • Restrictions imposed under the Firearm Own ers’ Protection Act limiting ATF to one routine inspection of gun dealers per year should be repealed.
  • The provisions of the Firearm Own ers’ Protection Act which raise the evidentiary standard for prosecuting dealers who make unlawful sales should be repealed.
  • ATF should be granted authority to develop a range of sanctions for gun dealers who violate gun sales or other laws.
  • The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, providing gun dealers and manufacturers protection from tort liability, should be repealed.
  • Federal restrictions on access to firearms trace data, other than those associated with ongoing criminal investigations, should be repealed.
  • Federal law mandating reporting of multiple sales of handguns should be expanded to include long guns.
  • Adequate penalties are needed for violations of the above provisions.

Personalized Guns

  • Congress should provide financial incentives to states to mandate childproof or personalized guns.
  • The Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission should be granted authority to regulate the safety of firearms and ammunition as consumer products.

Assault Weapons

  • Ban the future sale of assault weapons, incorporating a more carefully crafted definition to reduce the risk—compared with the 1994 ban—that the law would be easily evaded.

High-Capacity Magazines

  • Ban the future sale and possession of large-capacity (greater than 10 rounds) ammunition magazines.

Research Funding

  • The federal government should provide funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute of Justice adequate to understand the causes and solutions of gun violence, commensurate with its impact on the public’s health and safety.
  • The Surgeon General of the United States should produce a regular report on the state of the problem of gun violence in America and progress toward solutions.

At last.

Phillip W. Mauriello, Erin Nikitchyuk

Last Thursday I was at home, trying to do some laundry, as people do, when there was a knock at my door.  It startled me, and my dog.  Looking out the window I saw a man.  My first thought was, “This guy is here from the NRA to kill me.  I wish I had a Bushmaster.”  No, I’m joking.  The man explained that he was from CT News 12 and asked if he could talk to me about my views on gun control.  Naturally I told him to hang on so that I had time to Google him and make sure he wasn’t actually a maniac.  The guy checked out, and he and his nice cameraman came in and we had a chat.

He was there because Thursday had been declared a “Day of Action” in the Gun Violence Prevention movement, and despite my kids’ pleas to go to home and do NOTHING that afternoon, we went to Newtown for a little rally in front of the NSSF.  It was actually fun.  There were a bunch of NRA members there, but aside from one rude man who insisted on smoking a cigar right next to us, everyone was polite.  The kids had fun getting cars and trucks to honk for common sense gun reform.  My daughter was even interviewed for television, granted it was German public television, but still.

Kids are on the front lines of gun violence.  Whether it’s being afraid of violence occurring every day in your own neighborhood, or hiding in classroom closets for lockdowns, they suffer all the repercussions.  As I said back in December, my children are the entire reason I’m involved in this.  I just could not see something so out of balance, so out of control, and not try to change it. When I was a sophomore in high school a woman came to lecture us on environmental protection and said, “This is going to be your responsibility.  You will have to change this.” I remember thinking, “I’m fifteen.  Why don’t YOU do something about it NOW, so it’s not an even bigger mess by the time I’m able to be responsible for anything?  Where is your responsibility?!”  Maybe it’s the same now.  I’m the adult.  I have to right what is wrong.  Not later.  Now.

We had a quick dinner, and again to my kids’ dismay we headed to the library where our local state representatives, Toni Boucher, Dan Carter, and John Shaban were holding a town hall meeting regarding the upcoming legislative session.  There were about thirty people in attendance, including one gentleman wearing a sandwich board reading, “I’m a law-abiding gun owner, so why am I the bad guy?”  The conversation finally got around to guns and one young man asked Rep. Shaban why his views on gun violence prevention were not profiled in a news story entitled, “Where They Stand” or something.  I missed that story, but he explained that every state representative had answered a set of questions regarding which new legislation they supported.  Rep. Shaban said that he didn’t answer their questions, but instead had written his views, or something.  It was unclear.  So he was asked to clarify.  I have heard State Senator Toni Boucher speak many times, and she is fairly straight forward about her views.  Likewise I have had many conversations with Representative Carter, and while I disagree with him on many counts, he is always forthcoming and open to discussion.  I have not heard Rep. Shaban once say where he stood, aside from a vague, “We shouldn’t just do something symbolic that’s not going to lead to a decrease in violence,” or words to that effect.  So when directly asked last Thursday what his views were, I sat up in my chair.  “I think we need stronger gun laws,” he said.  I think he was just going to leave it at that, but I asked, “Could you be more specific?” He said that he supported enhancing our assault weapons ban.  I asked, “Do you mean taking the legal limit of characteristics similar to an assault weapon from two to one?”  And he said, “…Yeah, I guess that’s what we’re talking about.”  So, there it was.  He went on to say that he’s in favor of a ban on high-capacity magazines.  But when I asked about possession, he said no.  I pointed out that there is no way to enforce that sort of law, and that each of them knew there was no way to enforce that, so what they were doing was, in effect, nothing.  They did not argue.

Which brings us to today.  It was announced yesterday that the CT State Legislature had reached an agreement, and a bill would be voted on on Wednesday.  This bill is the strongest gun legislation in the country.  It includes many good things, a ban on assault weapons, the creation of a gun violence offender registry, a ban on high-capacity magazines.  But it grandfathers in the assault weapons already possessed, as well as high-capacity magazines already possessed.  At the very least those magazines have to go.  As was stated in an Editorial in the Hartford Courant, “Just ban them.”

Tomorrow many of us will go back to Hartford.   I imagine it will be a celebration of sorts, because we will get so much of what we wanted.  But the work is far from over.  The Connecticut Effect is just getting started.

Warning: This May Irritate You

Free-Clipart-of-Hammer

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to meet with Representative Larry Cafero.  Mr. Cafero is the Minority Leader in the Connecticut House of Representatives.  A group of us sat with him around a table and he told us of his desire to ban “all these guns once and for all.”  He held up several sheets of paper with colorful images of rifles printed on them.  He said that he’s “not a gun guy” and can’t understand why anyone needs these weapons. He was saying all the right things.  Until we started asking questions.

How does he feel about strengthening the assault weapons ban – “I’m all for it!” he declared.  But then he began to refer to his pages, telling us, “You see, what you want to do is ban this one and not that one, and you can’t tell me what the difference is between them.  That’s where you lose your argument.”  I asked Cafero who had provided him with those pages.  “Ah, I don’t know,” he said.  “The NSSF or something?”  He said this as if he was unsure who or what the NSSF is.  So I told him, just to make sure he was aware of who had provided him with his gun education – or, rather, to make sure that he knew that WE knew who the NSSF is.  They are the lobbying arm of the NRA.  And, I went on to tell him, the gun you are pointing to is not a derivative of a military assault weapon, and the other one is.

You see, Connecticut already has an “assault weapons ban.”  When it was enacted, the gun manufacturers simply modified the weapons to get around the ban.  So basically, the difference between an assault weapon made for our troops and one made for your neighbor is that your neighbor can’t attach a flash suppressor or a bayonet to the end of theirs, and a soldier can.  Also your neighbor can’t adjust the stock to make it longer or shorter, and a soldier can do that – very efficient for either shooting someone far away, or in a tight space.  Also a soldier can “spray” bullets, so that with one squeeze of the trigger, many shots can be fired very rapidly, whereas your neighbor can only fire one shot per squeeze of the trigger, which, unless they are arthritic can be quite a lot of bullets per minute.

“Listen,” he said, “You guys are going to get everything you want.  Assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine ban – not possession, but the sale of high-capacity magazines, done.”

That’s a really, really important point right there.  Ammunition magazines are not date-stamped, they aren’t marked or tracked in any way.  You don’t need to register them or prove what state you live in to buy them.  There would be no way to track if your neighbor purchased her 30 round magazines before the ban, or just brought them home from her trip to Maine along with her blueberry waffle mix and LL Bean boots.  So it’s easy for someone like Mr. Cafero to say, yes! ban the high-capacity magazines! because unless you ban their possession it is a totally unenforceable law.  It is a bit of nothing.  And still, Mr. Cafero can go home to Norwalk and tell his constituents, and those elsewhere when he runs for governor, that he voted for the ban.  Because either way, banning the possession of high-capacity magazines, or merely their sale, the headline will be the same.  The truth is a vastly different story, and Mr. Cafero was counting on us not being as clever as he thought he was, which is really very irritating.

A ban on the sale and possession of high-capacity magazines is really the crucial issue.  It happens all the time, a shooter opens fire either in a school, a movie theater, a shopping mall.  When that shooter stops to reload, someone takes them out with a concealed weapon, by tackling them, or simply gets up from the floor of the theater and runs for their life.  In Sandy Hook, six children ran out of their classroom when he stopped to reload.  He shot 152 bullets in five minutes.  Imagine if his magazines could each only hold ten bullets.  How many more children would be alive?

Last Thursday the CT State Legislature held yet another hearing, this one for the Public Safety Committee, which I am told, is where gun bills go to die.  Colt gave their workers the day off, even paid them to show up in the capitol building, holding signs and wearing NRA stickers.  There was one moment during the testimony that really made me very angry.  A woman, whom I know, was testifying when Representative David Yaccarino from North Haven, asked her, “Do you know how many people are killed by hammers each year?  Six hundred!”  Let’s pause while I bang my head against the wall.

Okay, hammers have other, useful purposes.  You can build a house, hang pictures, build furniture, all with a hammer!  If you are using a hammer as it is intended, you will build something – or remove an unwanted nail, or pry something open.  If you use an AR-15 as it is intended, you will KILL SOMEONE.  Comparing gun violence to hammers, or kitchen knives, as he went on to do, is the most idiotic obfuscation I have heard.  And I hear it over and over.  We aren’t talking about hammers.  We are talking about guns.  There is no massive, well-organized, highly funded hammer lobby, or you can bet Yaccarino wouldn’t mention hammer deaths.  If Adam Lanza had walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a hammer, someone would have taken it from him.  On the same day as the shooting in Newtown, a mentally ill man in China went on a stabbing spree at an elementary school.  Here’s the difference between an AR-15 and a kitchen knife:  In China, NOBODY DIED.

Here’s a video that shows the difference between the damage done by a handgun, and by an AR-15.  You can see the results starting at 2:20.

A Cry for Help

Chief of Police Doug Fuchs demonstrates features of the AR-15.

Chief of Police Doug Fuchs demonstrates features of the AR-15.

Last night my town held a meeting with our state representatives and officials from our federal representatives, in order to hear their opinions on the issue of gun violence.  I helped to organize the meeting.  It was my sincere intention to try and find some common ground between NRA members who are feeling under attack, and those of us who want meaningful change.  I believed that “responsible gun owners” should be the ones to lead the way in terms of what needs attention in our current gun laws.  However, “responsible gun owner” does not equal “reasonable gun owner.”

Last night we heard from a man who claimed he was worried that if the magazine capacity is lowered to seven rounds, all of his guns — which he told us were firearms and not weapons — would be obsolete.  I’m no dummy.  The same way gun manufacturers altered assault rifles to make them commercially available under assault weapons bans, they will manufacture clips for this man’s weapons that can hold the regulated seven rounds.  For some reason I thought maybe he didn’t know that.  For some reason I thought that I might give him some peace of mind if I let him know that his firearm collection, which is no doubt valuable both financially and personally to him, would not be obsolete.  So I told him.   Turns out he doesn’t care about that at all — that you can already buy magazine clips that are “California compliant” he just doesn’t want to.  Then his buddy chimed in that he doesn’t want anything less than sixteen round magazines.  I asked why.  I genuinely wanted to know what the reasoning was.  He said that he does not feel safe.  He actually said that he does not feel safe at the mall with less than sixteen rounds loaded into his weapon.  You know, just in case.

My ten year old son loved that.  He asked me, “Which part of the mall is the most dangerous?  Is it Yogen-Fruz?”  It is beyond my ability of understanding, of ration and reason, to justify anyone walking around a mall with sixteen rounds loaded into their weapon.  For whom are these vigilantes working?  Certainly not me.  I don’t want them shooting anyone on my behalf.  Imagine the scene at the mall in Oregon where a shooter opened fire with an AR-15, if the other shoppers had all been carrying sixteen rounds.  How many people would be have been killed by these vigilantes?  Lots.  This is madness.

I realized last night that — like  these people have been telling me — I am ignorant.  I am naive.  I thought we could have some measure of reasonable debate, a confluence of ideas.  That’s not going to happen.  The NRA has dug their heels in so strongly against any change to our gun laws that their members aren’t concerned with ration or reason.  I simply do not believe anyone is that afraid to go to the mall.  I don’t buy it.  That’s just a smoke screen.

UNLESS…

These people really don’t feel safe without  sixteen rounds loaded into their guns at all times.  Maybe that’s why they keep screaming about mental health.  Maybe it’s a cry for help.

NRA, Defenders of Mothers’ Rights, and Other Bullshit

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I was in Newtown on Wednesday night as the Connecticut Legislature’s Task Force heard testimony from parents, first responders, and other Newtown residents.  It was riveting, heartbreaking, and at times infuriating.  The shock and grief of parents who lost their children that day is still unimaginable.  The courage it took for them to stand before this legislative body is profound.  Unlike the Monday hearing in Hartford, most of the testimony was strongly and unequivocably in favor of stronger gun laws, including a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault rifles.  The NRA and the CCDL will tell you that assault weapons are already banned in Connecticut.  But that’s not really the whole story.  When they banned assault weapons, the gun manufacturers just altered them to get around the ban by not allowing them to spray bullets.  The NRA says that the rest of the features are just to make it look cool. The reality is that every feature of that gun has a purpose, to make it more accurate and efficient.  If they wanted it to look cool it would come in different colors.

There were a lot of good ideas mentioned in the testimony.  In my town there is a budget hearing next week to allocate over $300,000 toward new security measures for our schools, including the hiring of two full-time police officers to be stationed in the school buildings.  There are about 9,000 people in my town.  There are about 5,000 guns in my town, too.  On Wednesday in Newtown a father stood before the task force and said, “The Right to Bear Arms is the best marketing slogan of all time.”  Then he went on to say that increased security measures should be paid by the gun manufacturers.  This is just about the best idea I have heard.  Increased security is the price we pay for living in a society teeming with guns.  Alternately, just as the NRA gets a dollar each time a gun is purchased, schools could get a dollar.  Or tax the permits, so that the money is staying in the community where the guns are held.

One woman on Wednesday night said, in a very soft voice, “A mother bear has claws to protect her young.  A mother tiger has teeth.  Please don’t take away the one means of defense I have to protect my children.”  During her testimony people near where I was sitting were visibly disgusted, and many of them left.  This is an argument we have begun to hear over and over.  For example, from “independent woman” Gayle Trotter at the Senate hearing, we heard this:

On Monday in Hartford I heard so many stories of home invasion and rape that I lost count.  I’m not sure where those people were from, but according to them there are places in Connecticut where each night your home is more likely to be invaded than not.  These stories are meant to do one thing – frighten us into buying more guns.  Specifically, to frighten women into buying more guns.  It is your DUTY as a mother to buy a gun.  And because you are small, and fragile, and unable to shoot properly, you’d best get yourself a nice Bushmaster because you’re going to be shooting all over the place, and you’ll need a high-capacity magazine of at least thirty rounds so that hopefully one of them will hit your target.  Don’t worry your pretty little head about where all those other bullets are going.  Just make sure your kids are behind you.

I find this so outrageously offensive.  Does the NRA really think women are so stupid and weak?  I can just imagine the meeting where they came up with this crap.  A bunch of men sitting around a table, saying, “Okay, we’re looking like the bad guys here.  How can we make us the good guys?  I know!  Women.  They’re so naive and impressionable – we’ll just tell them a whole bunch of stories about scary bad guys busting down the door, and how women were able to defend themselves.  We will turn this from a debate about how to prevent a classroom full of children being slaughtered, to a quest for women’s rights – mother’s rights!”  It makes me sick.

You know another mother who had guns in her house?  Nancy Lanza.  Her face was blown off.  You know the rest.

Gun Violence Prevention Committee Hearing, Hartford, CT 1/28/13

Yesterday I testified before the Connecticut State Legislature Subcommittee on Gun Violence Prevention.  When I arrived at 10 am, the line was already very long, it was snowing, and I was really regretting that I hadn’t taken the extra five minutes to find my missing glove.

This is just the back half of the line.

This is just the back half of the line.

There were a lot of moms there – not nearly as many as NRA members, and most had to leave in time to get their kids off the bus.  The rest of us were in it for the long haul.  How long?  I sat down at about 1:00 PM and got up at 3:45 AM.  In the hearing room we were outnumbered by at least 40 to 1, which is a shame as it does not reflect the feeling of the majority in the state or the nation on this matter.  Here’s a photo of the number of people calling in to the Legislative Office in support of new gun regulation on the right, and those opposed on the left, to give you an idea of how mobilized they are.

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Calls placed in opposition to gun regulation on the left. Calls for new gun laws on the right.

What I heard, over and over, from the members of the NRA and CCDL, which is like a local NRA, is that these people are terrified, and I can’t say I blame them because according to their testimony, they have each been the victim of three or four home invasions, and they know for a fact that the government, including the tyrannical subcommittee itself, is coming to take away their guns and force them into concentration camps.

There were a few voices of reason, like the Skeet Shooting instructor worried that his team won’t be able to use the weapons required for their sport, and the gentleman who questioned why it is that when a young black man shoots someone, he’s thrown in jail, but when a young white man commits the same crime he must be “mentally ill.”

In truth, I don’t know how we are going to solve this mess.  I feel responsible that we let it get this far.  Where was I in 2004 when the assault weapons ban expired?  See what happens when we get complacent?  I didn’t take to the streets when Al Gore was fighting for the presidency, and look where that apathy got us – Iraq, The Patriot Act, financial collapse, an expired assault weapons ban, too many shameful legacies of George W. Bush to name in my current state of exhaustion.  My point is that I listened to hours of testimony from people who are genuinely terrified to not have these weapons.  Gun control?  How could we have let it get this far out of control?  I will write more after I’ve had a few hours of sleep.

Here’s my testimony: