If the you believe the NRA isn’t bastion for bigots and racists…Check their non-response to the Second Amendment case of Philandro Castile.
If the you believe the NRA isn’t bastion for bigots and racists…Check their non-response to the Second Amendment case of Philandro Castile.
If the Institution refuses to do the peoples work, then it is time to bring the Institution to its knees. Democrats should have been doing this all along. By any means necessary…
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis led the charge. “We will be silent no more.”
Democrats literally sat down on the floor of the House chamber on Wednesday — and forced the House into a temporary recess — as part of an effort to compel Republican leadership to vote on gun control legislation.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the civil rights icon who led sit-ins all through the 1960s, spearheaded the effort with a fiery, sermon-like denunciation of Congress for its failure to act in the wake of mass shootings.
“For months, even for years, through seven sessions of Congress, I wondered, what would bring this body to take action?” Lewis said while Democrats slowly surrounded him at the microphone. “We have lost hundreds and thousands of innocent people to gun violence. Tiny little children. Babies. Students. And teachers. Mother and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Daughters and sons. Friends and neighbors. And what has this body done? Mr. Speaker, not one thing.”
After about 10 minutes of escalating questions — and shouting, “Where is our soul? Where is our courage?” — Lewis said it was time for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to bring up some of the pending gun control bills. In the meantime, he said, he’d just take a seat. Moments later, he sat down on the floor. And so did all the other Democrats with him.
“Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way. We’ve been quiet for too long,” Lewis said. “Now is the time to get in the way. We will be silent no more. The time for silence is over.”
As another Democrat began to speak, the Republican lawmaker sitting in the chair gaveled the House into a temporary recess until noon. The House cut off the C-SPAN cameras that normally broadcast the floor. Later, when lawmakers reconvened, Democratic members still refused to budge, forming a circle in the well of the floor while chanting. Republicans were forced to gavel into recess once more.
It’s not clear what GOP leaders plan to do now.
“The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.
Democratic senators also showed up to stand or sit with their colleagues. Among them were: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Chris Coons (Del.), Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Al Franken (Minn.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii). Presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)joined late in the afternoon.
Lewis’ effort was a dramatic attempt to force the hand of Republicans before the chamber adjourns later this week for a weeklong recess. But it’s not the only disruption House Democrats are planning. According to multiple aides and lawmakers, Democrats will try to essentially hijack the House floor both Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to get gun control measures a hearing.
The “No Bill, No Break” campaign centers on clever and repeated use of procedural rules. Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has already tried and failed, twice, to bring up legislation to deny people on the no-fly list the right to purchase a firearm.
But the extent of the party’s plans has been kept largely under wraps out of concern that Republicans would move to undermine the strategy. Several aides have described it as a “disruption” campaign. One Democratic lawmaker said the party was “devising a variety of parliamentary tactics to pressure the GOP in D.C. this week, then in individual districts next week during recess.”
“Watch the floor carefully this week,” the lawmaker added.
About time. The NRA should be classified as a Domestic Terror organization. This has nothing to do with the millions of hunters and sportsmen out there, and everything to do with arming up mass murders.
Just days after the massacre in an Orlando nightclub left 49 people dead and 53 wounded, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday said that gun control is now a critical element of protecting the U.S. homeland and keeping Americans safe.
“We have to face the fact that meaningful gun control has to be a part of homeland security,” Johnson said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.” “We need to do something to minimize the opportunity for terrorists to get a gun in this country.”
On the issue of people on the no-fly list and various other lists being able to purchase a weapon in the U.S., Johnson said, “I believe that that’s something that has to be addressed.”
Johnson said that President Obama is “frustrated” with the lack of action on preventing gun violence, but he’s still “determined.”
“I thought frankly after Sandy Hook where you have schoolchildren murdered in a classroom that maybe finally this will be the tipping point and we were not able to move the needle in Congress, unfortunately,” Johnson said.
Efforts to make gun laws stricter have failed in Congress over the last decade. The assault weapons ban, for example, expired in 2004 and lawmakers have not renewed that legislation. Democrats on Capitol Hill have grown increasingly frustrated and on Monday evening, shouted down Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, after a moment of silence, demanding to know why the House isn’t considering gun control legislation.
“At this stage in the investigation, we know of no accomplices,” said Johnson, who reiterated that the U.S. intelligence community believes it was not a terrorist-directed attack, but rather terrorist-inspired.
In order to prevent homegrown terrorist attacks in the future, Johnson said it will require the government and the public to deepen their ties to U.S.-Muslim communities.
“We’re going to continue to build bridges to American-Muslim communities, not vilify them and drive them into the corners and shadows,” Johnson said.
FBI Director James Comey said Monday that the agency had interviewed the shooter three times between 2013 and 2014 and he was “thoroughly investigated,” but the inquiries were eventually closed. The attack is now raising questions about whether the FBI made any mistakes or did anything wrong in their investigations.
“I have a lot of confidence in the FBI,” Johnson said on CBS.
Another NRA owned whack job killing innocent Americans…
An NRA-funded Alabama Republican defended his vote against a ban on gun sales to suspected terrorists shortly before a gunman who had twice been investigated for terrorism links massacred more than 50 people at a gay nightclub.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama) criticized a proposed amendment three weeks ago to a 2017 funding bill bill that would prohibit firearms sales to individuals listed on the federal terrorist watch list, saying it would be a superficial solution, at best,reported AL.com.
The ban might sound reasonable, Aderholt said, “but like many liberal solutions, they are only skin deep.”
“The reality is many people find themselves on the terrorist watch list by mistake,” the lawmaker said. “Something as simple as a mix up of a birth date can put someone on the list and the process to remove a name can take months or even years.”
Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old gunman, legally purchased a military-style rifle and handgun in the last 12 days, after he had been investigated twice by the FBI and listed for a time on the terrorist watch list.
Aderholt blamed the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub on President Barack Obama and “political correctness,” and then begged the media and Democrats not to politicize the massacre.
“I was sad to hear about the terrorist attacks in Orlando, on American soil,” Aderholt said. “This and other attacks we have seen, prove that we do not have the luxury of debating the political correctness of ‘radical Islam.’ We need to focus on these and other terrorists and do whatever it takes to identify and hunt down those who would do us harm.”
Aderholt, who received $2,500 from the NRA during his 2014 campaign, said “it was disheartening” to hear the president and the media suggest that stricter gun laws could prevent mass shootings.
“Terrorists by their very definition are criminals and will find a way get their hands on guns,” he said. “What the president is proposing would take guns away from the very people who would defend themselves.”
“That said, it is too soon to inject politics into the discussion. The White House and Congress should focus on the task at hand – protecting the homeland,” Aderholt added.
In about 1820, due to the new “Black Codes” implemented in Virginia denying gun rights to free blacks, my g-g-g-Grandfather and Uncle petitioned the Court as free black men to have the ability to carry guns. They lived in a rural area of Virginia, not far from where Virginia Tech University is located in Blacksburg, Va. They owned fairly productive land on the banks of the New River which winds and wanders for 350 miles though North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, and is the only river I know of in America which travels north, it eventually joins the Ohio River.
The family had settled the area, then considered the “Frontier”, shortly after the Revolutionary War, along with other free black families – some of whom won their freedom by fighting on the side of the British, and less frequently the Colonial Armies. They had built a “Plantation” on a large tract of land, adjoining one of the most prosperous white settlers in the area of the time, with whom they regularly traded tools and equipment manufactured by them for other manufactured goods, and perhaps labor.
One of the biggest fears at that time by free blacks was “slave catchers” an unscrupulous and bankrupt group of individuals who would on opportunity kidnap and family member they could get their hands on to sell into slavery further South. Aside from dangers of the native wildlife (bears and Mountain Lion were common at that time), they had to keep an eye out for the slavers in the sparsely populated area. The answer quite simply was, the slavers went up the mountain…and never came down. I confirmed this family legend one year while hunting on the property and discovering the entrance to a limestone cavern, and upon going back to get a bright spotlight to look in, finding the skeletons of at least half a dozen bodies at the bottom of the shaft, one of which appears to have had the remnants of a confederate uniform. Of course, nobody knew when the slavers would sneak into the area, as their business was illegal even by the laws of the time, and they didn’t exactly report their presence to. the local sheriff.
The bothers petitioned the court for the right to (continue to) carry guns as local landowners and citizens and won. Somewhere in the family there is an old octagon barrel Kentucky style rifle which belonged to them. In my inherited collection is one 44-40 Winchester rifle going back to the 1870’s that belonged to one of their sons or grandsons. At nearly 150 years old it certainly isn’t fire-able, even if you could find black powder cartridges for it. The fact that they continued to defend the home place from nefarious scumbags is evidenced by the dead confederate, placing their activity as late as the 1860’s during or after the Civil War.
With the emergence of the Second KKK in 1900, attacks on black communities, often for flimsily manufactured reasons and lynching s accelerated until “Red Summer” in 1919. What radically changed was that the black soldiers who had fought in WWI came home, not only with military training but sometimes with their rifles. Resulting in blacks fighting back against the wholesale community attacks similar to those in Rosewood and Tulsa, in the “race riots” in Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and Knoxville, TN – where things were substantially less one sided. Faced with folks who would shoot back, and not easy victims… The KKK and other racist organizations…blinked. It didn’t stop the lynchings – but it was no longer safe to attack a large black community. One of the things forgotten by history is that the folks in Tulsa did set up a defense, and the center of the town was designed to be defense-able. They just didn’t have enough guns. Rosewood was a small community of only about 16 houses.
With the rise of the Fourth KKK, or the Fourth Reich under Trump, and his like minded cohort of fools in the Reich Wing Clown Bus, at least to my belief, it is time for the black communities, and individuals to arm up again. We need to take the attitude of the Jews, “Never Forget”. Now this doesn’t mean going to to the store and buying a little Glock popgun pistol. The only reason any US Army soldiers carry a pistol, is to have a little something when their rifle runs out of ammo. They know full well that a guy and his “9” will last about a NY millisecond against someone armed with an AK, or AR-15 variant rifle… Or even a modern shotgun.
Sometimes the only way to get peace is out of the barrel of a gun. White people are not your enemy, but those deluded racist fools following the neo-fascist right, who happen to be white, are. We seem to be barreling down the road to a parallel with Nazi Germany, where a virulent minority can grab control of an entire nation. I don’t know about you – but I ain’t going in that cattle car peacefully in this here New American Reich.
Four black schoolchildren raced home along a dirt road in Archer, Florida, in 1944, kicking up a dust cloud wake as they ran. They were under strict orders from their mother to run – not lollygag or walk or jog, but run – directly home after hitting the road’s curve.
The littlest, six-year-old Lizzie Robinson (now Jenkins), led the pack with a brother on each side and her sister behind carrying her books.
“And I would be [running], my feet barely touching the ground,” Jenkins, now 77, said at her home in Archer.
Despite strict adherence to their mother’s orders, the siblings weren’t told why they should race home. To the children, it was one of several mysterious dictates issued during childhood in the Jim Crow south.
As Jenkins tells it, the children didn’t know why Amos ’n’ Andy was often interrupted by revving engines and calls from her father to “Go upstairs now!”, or why aunt Mahulda Carrier, a schoolteacher, fled to the bedroom each time a car drove down their rural road.
Explanations for demands to hide came later, when Jenkins’s mother, Theresa Brown Robinson, whispered to her daughter the story of violence that befell the settlement of Rosewood in 1923.
The town was 37 miles south-east of Archer on the main road to the Gulf. Carrier worked there as the schoolteacher, while living with her husband Aaron Carrier. On New Year’s Day 1923, a white woman told her husband “a nigger” assaulted her, a false claim that precipitated a week of mob violence that wiped the prosperous black hamlet off the map, and led to the near lynching of Aaron Carrier.
Jenkins now believes that all of it – the running, calls to go upstairs, her aunt fleeing to the bedroom – was a reaction to a message her parents received loud and clear: don’t talk about Rosewood, ever, to anyone.
But after Jim Crow laws lifted, and lynch mob justice was no longer a mortal threat, survivors did begin to talk. So egregious were the stories of rape, murder, looting, arson and neglect by elected officials, that Florida investigated the claims in a 1993 report.
That led to a law that eventually compensated then elderly victims $150,000 each, and created a scholarship fund. The law, which provided $2.1m total for the survivors, improbably made Florida one of the only states to create a reparations program for the survivors of racialized violence, placing it among federal programs that provided payments to Holocaust survivors and interned Japanese Americans.
News of Florida’s reparations program ran nationwide when it was passed in 1994, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal among others. Hollywood picked up the tale. Don Cheadle starred in a 1997 film about the pogrom. Several books were written about Rosewood.
Though the legislation was never called such, the program now represents one of just a handful of reparations cases in the United States, as calls to compensate victims of racialized violence have grown louder in the last two years.
2015 brought renewed calls to compensate victims of race-related violence from college students, theologians and criminal justice advocates. The city of Chicago started a $5.5m reparations fund for the more than 100 victims tortured at the hands of police commander Jon Burge.
Last month, students at Georgetown University demanded that the administration set aside an endowment to recruit black professors equal to the profit from an 1838 slave sale that paid off university debt. The 272 slaves were sold for $400 each, the equivalent of about $2.7m today. One day after protests began, students successfully renamed a residence hall named after Thomas Mulledy, the university president who oversaw the sale (it was renamed Freedom Hall).
At least one progressive Christian theologian is pushing Protestants to reckon their own history with slavery with reparations. In 2014, Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates breathed fresh life into the debate in his widely lauded article The Case for Reparations .
Where Rosewood once stood is now little more than a rural scrubland along state road 24, a lonely highway in central Florida bordered by swamp, slash pine and palmetto. A placard on the side of the road describes the horror visited upon the hamlet.
But in 1923, the settlement was a small and prosperous predominantly black town, with its own baseball team, a masonic temple and a few hundred residents. It was just three miles from the predominantly white town of Sumner, and 48 miles from Gainesville.
On New Year’s Day 1923, white Sumner resident Fannie Taylor was bruised and beaten when her husband returned home. The Taylors were white, and the residents of Sumner were in near universal agreement that Fannie’s assailant was black.
A crowd swelled in Sumner to find the “fugitive”, some from as far away as Gainesville, where the same day the Klu Klux Klan held a high-profile parade. Over the next seven days gangs of hundreds delivered lynch mob justice to the once-affluent town of Rosewood.
“I blame the deputy sheriff,” Robie Mortin, a Rosewood survivor, told the Seminole Tribune in 1999. “Because that lady never dropped a name as to who did what to her. Just said a negro, black man. But when the sheriff came along with his posse and everything, he put a name to the person: Jesse Hunter.”
Mortin died in 2010 at age 94 in Riviera Beach, Florida. She was believed to be one of the last survivors of the New Year’s riots in 1923. After years of silence she became one of the most vocal. Though Florida completed an investigation into the events that took place in Rosewood, some narratives remain disputed.
“They didn’t find Jesse Hunter, but noticed that here’s a bunch of niggers living better than us white folks. That disturbed these people,” Mortin said. Her uncle, Sam Carter, is believed to have taken the man who beat Taylor, a fellow Mason, to safety in Gulf Hammock, a few miles away. When Carter returned he was tortured, shot and lynched by the mob looking for Taylor’s assailant.
“My grandma didn’t know what my uncle Sammy had done to anybody to cause him to be lynched like that,” Mortin told the Tribune. “They took his fingers and his ears, and they just cut souvenirs away from him. That was the type of people they were.”
Carter is believed to be the first of eight documented deaths associated with the riots that would worsen over the next three days.
The settlement itself was wiped off the map. Several buildings were set on fire just a few days after New Year’s, and the mob wiped out the remainder of the town a few days later, torching 12 houses one by one. At the time, the Gainesvile Sun reported a crowd of up to 150 people watched the dozen homes and a church set ablaze. Even the dogs were burned.
“The burning of the houses was carried out deliberately and although the crowd was present all the time, no one could be found who would say he saw the houses fired,” a Sun report said, describing the scene.
At least two white men died, including CP “Poly” Wilkerson of Sumner and Henry Andrews of Otter Creek, when they attempted to storm a house Rosewood residents had barricaded themselves in.
A state report on the violence identifies murdered black Rosewood residents as Sam Carter, matriarch Sarah Carrier, James Carrier, Sylvester Carrier and Lexie Gordon. Mingo Williams, a black man who lived nearby, was also killed by the mob.
Aaron Carrier, Mahulda’s husband and Jenkins’s uncle, was nearly killed when he was dragged behind a truck and tortured on the first night of the riots. At death’s door, Carrier was spirited away by the Levy county sheriff, Bob Walker, she said, and placed in jail in Bronson as a favor to the lawman.
Mahulda was captured later the same night by the mob, Jenkins said, and tortured before Walker eventually found her.
“They got Gussie, that was my aunt’s name, they tied a rope around her neck, however they didn’t drag her, they put her in the car and took her to Sumner. Don’t know if you know – a southern tradition is to build a fire … and to stand around the fire and drink liquor and talk trash,” Jenkins said.
“So they had her there, like she was the [accused], and they were the jury, and they were trying to force her into admitting a lie. ‘Where was your husband last night?’ ‘He was at home in bed with me.’ They asked her that so many times so she got indignant with them … And they said, ‘She’s a bold bitch – let’s rape the bitch.’ And they did. Gang style.”
Another Rosewood resident, James Carrier, was shot over the fresh graves of his brother and mother after several men captured and interrogated him. He was first told to dig his own grave, but couldn’t because two strokes had paralyzed one arm. The men left his body splayed over the graves of his family members.
But despite widespread coverage of the incident – the governor was even notified via telegram – the state did nothing.
Not for one month, when it appears a feeble attempt to indict locals was made by a grand jury, after all the residents of Rosewood had long fled into the nearby swamps and settlements of central Florida.
The oral history of Rosewood was a secret, passed through several families with each recipient sworn to silence, as black Americans endured decades of terror in Florida. When Jenkins was six her parents would have had fresh memories of lynchings.
From 1877 to 1950, the county where the Robinsons lived, Alachua, had among the largest sheer volume of lynchings of any community in the nation, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. Per capita, Florida lynched more people than any other state. And counties surrounding Alachua were not friendlier.
Hernando, Citrus, Lafayette and Taylor counties had some of the highest per capita rates of lynchings in the country. By volume, nearby Marion and Polk counties had among the most in the US.
Legislation, reparations and state reckons with ugly past
The story only came to light in 1982, after a reporter at the then St Petersburg Times exposed the forgotten riot. The reporter, Gary Moore, had traveled to Cedar Key, 10 miles south-west of Rosewood on the coast, to explore a Sunday feature on the rural Gulf town.
“Like the public at large, I personally had never heard of Rosewood,” Moore wrote in a synopsis of research published in the 1993 report that was submitted to the Florida Board of Regents. “I held dim assumptions that any such incident would long ago have been thoroughly researched and publicized by historians, sociologists, anthropologists, advocacy organizations, or others.”
That it wasn’t, Moore blamed on “psychological denial” and “blindness”.
“There were many things thought better left unquestioned,” Moore reasoned.
By 1993, before the report was issued, Moore’s story had made a wide impact, becoming a 60 Minutes documentary and earning follow-ups by other news outlets. Moore, however, recounted in detail his struggle for academic and political acceptance of the narrative, and said even 11 years after his story appeared many attempted to deny the massacre occurred.
One of Moore’s sources, Arnett Doctor, would later devote much of his life to lobbying for Rosewood reparations. Doctor, a descendant of survivors, spent untold hours eliciting detailed narratives of the event from survivors. He is often cited as the“driving force” behind the reparations bill, as the man who brought his findings to high-powered attorneys at Holland & Knight, who helped lobby the legislature for reparations.
Doctor died at the age of 72 in March 2015, in Spring Hill, Florida, a few hours south of Rosewood.
“We deliberately avoided anything but compensation for the losses they incurred,” said Martha Barnett, an attorney at Holland & Knight who helped lobby the Florida legislature on behalf of the survivors of Rosewood. Barnett said the term “reparations” can’t be found in the law passed in Florida.
Instead, attorneys focused on private property rights. She said she and other attorneys needed “to make it something legislators could find palatable in the deep south some 20-some years ago”.
Barnett said the then Democratic governor, Lawton Chiles, promised his support from the beginning. By April 1994, the House passed a bill to compensate victims of the attack with a 71-40 vote. Four days later, on 9 April 1994, the Senate passed a matching bill with a vote of 26-14, to cries of “Praise the lord!” from those Rosewood descendants present.
“It’s time for us to send an example, a shining example, that we’re going to do what’s right – for once,” Democratic senator Matthew Meadows said at the time. Chiles diedless than four years after signing the bill.
Now, near Rosewood, Rebel flags are common. Businesses bear the name, and some locals would be as happy to again forget the incident.
Information on the pogrom is notably muted in some local historical societies.
“What it takes to make someone whole, what it takes to repair the past, is probably different for every person, and some things are more effective than others,” said Barnett.
Many of the survivors invested the money they received into their homes. Willie Evans, 87 when he received the $150,000 payment in 1995, put a new roof , windows and doors on his home. Mortin considered traveling to Greece. Jenkins’s mother, who received $3,333.33 from the fund, placed ledgers on the graves of her sister, three brothers and parents.
“The thing that mattered most to [survivors] was that the state of Florida said, ‘We had an obligation to you as our citizens, we failed to live up to it then, we are going to live up to it today, and we are sorry,’” Barnett said.
For Doctor, whose own identity seemed wrapped up in the Rosewood story (the license plate on his truck read “ROSEWOOD” ), even the unique success of the legislation was not enough. He dreamed of rebuilding the town.
“The last leg of the [healing process] is the redevelopment and revitalization of a township called Rosewood,” Doctor told the Tampa Bay Times in 2004 , as the plaque along State Road 24 was dedicated by then governor Jeb Bush. “If we could get $2bn, $3bn of that we could effect some major changes in Levy County.”
The NBA isn’t exactly the racist right’s favorite league or sport – but it is for millions of normal, sane adults and kids. In what appears…FINALLY…a movement to start putting the brakes on some of the craziness and insanity about guns – perhaps the NRA’s days of carrying guns to PTA Meeting, school sports events, and Churches are numbered.
They’re appearing in ads set to air during NBA games on Christmas.
The spots will begin airing during five NBA games on Christmas, when the league draws large audiences. The ads are part of the latest push by Everytown, dedicated to raising awareness of gun violence and advocating for reforms like expanding mandatory background checks and closing the “gun show loophole.”
The group has also worked with celebrities like Julianne Moore, Amy Schumer and Sofia Vergara to call for legislative action, but many of its best advocates are those who have suffered gun violence themselves or in their families.
For one of them, the NBA’s involvement is especially meaningful.
Richard Martinez started advocating for gun control measures in 2014, after his 20-year-old son, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, was killed in a mass shooting in Isla Vista, California.
As he told The Huffington Post, his son loved basketball.
“I don’t think ‘loved’ is even the right word,” Martinez said, recalling that his son played basketball throughout his life and, as a kid, participated in a basketball camp run by NBA legend Michael Jordan.
“He would be thrilled that these players are doing this. He was a great fan,” Martinez said.
Since his son’s death, more mass shootings have occurred, and Martinez said that every time, he has the same response.
“I have a visceral reaction because I know how they’re feeling,” he said, referring to the loved ones of those killed. “I know what it’s like to miss your loved one every day. People tell you to get over it, and you don’t.”
Martinez hopes that the basketball fans who see the ads recognize the devastating regularity of gun violence in America and “the appalling toll of gun violence on American life.”
“People see the news and forget,” Martinez said. “We need to do better, we can do better. We owe it to our kids. It’s a choice to do nothing. I don’t accept that it has to be this way in this country.”
The holiday season is a particularly painful time for Martinez, as his son would have turned 22 years old on Wednesday. Last year on Chris’ birthday, Martinez bought a cake and played basketball while wearing one of Chris’ favorite shirts. This year, he hopes to once again do something that Chris would have enjoyed, like going to see the new Star Wars movie.
“Maybe I’ll watch some basketball,” Martinez said.
Last week only 2 of the 9 Justices wanted to tr the case of a community banning assault weapons. The author of this piece believes the issue is that Uncle Tommie Clarence doesn’t understand the law… Wrong. It is just Uncle Tommie keeping his nose as far up Scalia’s Derriere as possible. Ergo situation normal for Uncle Tommie.
The other week the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Friedman v. Highland Park, a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that left intact the city’s law that denied anyone in the community the ability to have assault weapons or large-capacity magazines. In a dissent from the denial of certiorari, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote that the other Justices refusal to review the case “flouts” the Court’s holdings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, and in doing so relegated the Second Amendment to a “second-class right.” What Justice Thomas found “doubly wrong” was the Court’s acquiescence to state and local governments deciding “which firearms [the] people may possess.”
What is particularly interesting about Justice Thomas’s dissent is it embodies aspects of both originalism and living constitutionalism. On the one hand, Justice Thomas criticizes the Seventh Circuit’s opinion on the grounds it failed to properly consider the scope of the Second Amendment “when the people adopted” it. He then proceeds to criticize the Seventh Circuit for not recognizing the number of contemporary Americans who own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As Justice Thomas put it, “The question … is not whether citizens have adequate alternatives available for self-defense,” but “whether the law bans types of firearms commonly used for a lawful purpose—regardless of whether alternatives exist.”
Here, Justice Thomas’s call to respect the framers’ Second Amendment, yet adhere to a modern “common use” test perfectly highlights the difficulty when employing history in law—that is finding a jurisprudential balance between the past and the present. While Justice Thomas places a historical premium on the ownership of weapons so long as a significant number are available in American society at large, he virtually ignores the history of state and local firearms regulations to quell violence, prevent crime, and mitigate public injury. Some of these regulations were even aimed at prohibiting dangerous weapons, particularly in densely populated areas. These historical facts conflict with Justice Thomas’s doctrinal reasoning, do they not?
Perhaps Justice Thomas’s point is that history dictates that state and local governments should not be allowed to outlaw firearms which are universally accepted in other jurisdictions. That is, the Second Amendment requires a national standard as to what firearms may or may not be prohibited. But history does not favor Justice Thomas. From the Reconstruction Era to the late twentieth century a variety of regulations touching upon dangerous weapons existed at the state and local level. In fact, up to 1979, forty-three states allowed their respective cities, towns, and localities to enact more stringent firearm regulations to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.
Today, of course, the landscape of firearms regulations is vastly different than it was in years past. At the urging of the National Rifle Association (NRA), most states have adopted firearm preemption laws prohibiting cities, towns, and localities from enacting stricter firearms regulations. This shift began in 1975, when the NRA stated it would no longer compromise on gun control, period. It was a position that hardened following the NRA’s 1977 Cincinnati Revolt, when the organization’s membership rededicated and reformed the organization with the express purpose of combating gun control. As a result of this reformation, not even laws requiring comprehensive background checks, allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toresearch gun violence, or prohibiting the sale of firearms to suspected terrorists are blessed with the NRA’s approval.
The NRA was not always unwilling to compromise on gun control. In 1924 for instance, the NRA used the analogy of regulating the driving of motor vehicles with the handling of firearms in public: “It would seem … a logical part of any public safety program that before a man is given a weapon and empowered to use it, for the authorities to make certain that the chances of damage to life are reduced to a minimum.”
Up through 1967 the NRA claimed it “always has … and always will be ready to do what is best for America,” to include never placing its organizational goals or firearm heritage “ahead of the nation al welfare.” This included supporting such gun controls as disarming every individual who has committed a felony, crime of violence or has a “notoriously bad character,” legislation that required firearm purchasers to identify themselves, firearm dealers to maintain records of sales, parental consent before selling a firearm to a minor, and a seven day waiting period before purchasing a handgun.
There was even a point in time, in 1937, where the NRA did not object to a law requiring the registration of Magnum revolvers in the same vein as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. The NRA’s rationale was the Magnum “performs no practical function for the sportsman which cannot be as well or better performed by arms of standard type,” and therefore “it is impossible to defend the Magnum against legislation which would have the practical effect of limiting its sale to agents of the Federal, States, and local police.” The NRA’s admission that prohibiting the Magnum was acceptable because any “practical function,” to include homebound self-defense, could be accomplished by “arms of the standard type” is significant, for it is the very same rationale that Justice Thomas criticized the Seventh Circuit for employing inFriedman v. Highland Park. Needless to say, it is curious how what was once considered acceptable and constitutional gun control in years past, by all parties, suddenly “flouts” the Constitution.
The overall point to be made is the Seventh Circuit did not relegate the Second Amendment to a “second-class right” as Justice Thomas claims. History refutes such a conclusion. The fact of the matter is the modern perception of the Second Amendment as guaranteeing broad firearm rights in both public and private is just that—modern.