The law against machine guns is being thwarted because of easily accessible assault style rifles. Because the U.S. public was fearful of massacres enabled by machine guns, they demanded a law against them. And, in 1934, for the first time in its history, the U.S. passed anti-gun legislation, effectively outlawing machine guns. But now innovative gunsmiths have developed devices that, when coupled with assault style rifles, skirt the law against machine guns. These barely legal guns mimic the sound, feel, and deadliness of machine guns.
As sold in the U.S., assault style rifles are incapable of shooting like a machine gun. A person cannot shoot continuously by holding the trigger down. Instead, he must pull and release the trigger each shot. Hence, these guns are called semi-automatics. The rate at which they can be fired is slower than a machine gun or fully automatic gun.
We post this second of two articles about guns in America on a very sad day as a young man killed students in Florida today - marking the eighth school shooting with deaths or injuries in 2018 so far. The earlier article, Gun Rights and the Progressive Movement was posted in January.
Hostiles-Written and directed by Scott Cooper
A Critical Review
Hostiles is about white supremacy. It is also about the price paid by those who fought to achieve it.
The movie opens in New Mexico at the end of the Indian wars. The movie’s protagonist, Captain Joe Blocker (Christian Bale), is a professional soldier. He is not just any soldier. He reads Julius Caesar in the original Latin. He is a centurion. And, he fights to subjugate the Indian and perpetuate white supremacy. In his war against the Indians, Blocker has killed many and taken more scalps than Sitting Bull. Like many of the men he leads and fights with, he has paid a price.
The price Blocker and his men have paid becomes clear on the last mission before his retirement. He is assigned to escort an old and dying Indian chief, Yellow Hawk, to Montana to die in his ancestral burial grounds. Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) has killed many of Blocker’s friends, some in a horrible way. Blocker at first refuses the order, but is reminded that his pension—all he will have after 20 years’ service—is at stake. He relents and starts on the journey that will strip away the scar tissue from the last 20 years of his life.
The Republican lawmakers seem to be planning to use the old legal strategy of TODDI to defend Donald Trump against allegations of conspiring with Russia to win the 2016 election. Specifically, their plan is to argue that Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS to obtain information on Trump’s business affairs in Russia. Fusion GPS, in turn, hired the former U.K. spy, Christopher Steele, who then prepared and delivered a dossier to the FBI. Thus, it wasn’t Trump; it was that other dude: Hillary.
Senator Dianne Feinstein damaged the Republican TODDI defense. After it was clear that the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley reneged on his promise to release the testimony of GPS Fusion owner, Glenn R. Simpson, Feinstein released it on her own. The testimony showed Republicans asking questions designed to support their TODDI narrative. Simpson’s answers refuted the Republican portrayal of him as a Democratic hitman who would concoct a story for money. In his testimony, both GPS Fusion and Steele appear to have professionally and legally gathered information, and honorably reported possible threats to the United States to the FBI. The GOP and Trump campaign both look selfish and unpatriotic in comparison.
Along with TODDI, the President’s defenders are claiming that those investigating Trump are so corrupt that any evidence of wrongdoing uncovered must be disqualified. His minion, Representative Devin Nunes, orchestrated a memo alleging that the information used by the FBI to obtain a secret wiretapping (FISA) warrant was from a biased source—the Steel dossier. And, as a result, the FBI managers who requested the warrant must be so dishonest, they cannot investigate Trump. In fact, the information used to obtain the warrant did not come solely from the Steel dossier. Moreover, the court was told that the warrant was biased, as are most sources used to obtain warrants.
Nonetheless, Republicans continue to stake their survival on the TODDI and corrupt investigators defenses. After all, it may be the only defense they have.
We are in a war. The war is between Republicans, an authoritarian party, and Democrats, a liberal party. Right wing authoritarians are coming for our democracy with jack boots and MAGA caps. Republicans want to overturn our democratic republic and replace it with an authoritarian regime. Democrats, on the other hand, want to maintain our democratic republic.
Jeff Flake is oblivious to this war. He seems to believe there are two equivalent parties, polarized only in their policy preferences. Efforts to “cleanse” the FBI and the Justice Department and to “purge” government agencies are not symptoms of polarization. They are the destruction of the pillars of our political system. In his book “The Conscience of a Conservative,” Flake acknowledges that the Republican Party has violated its principles by putting party over country and embracing a cult of personality. It is not the Democratic Party that has abandoned its egalitarian principles or raised an authoritarian personality over democratic norms. But, Jeff Flake and others seem to ignore differences between the parties and what those differences mean for the continuation of a democratic republic.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s previous White House political strategist, expressed some satisfaction when he was fired because “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons” referring to his position at Breitbart.com. Bannon intended to support Trump’s populist or white supremacist agenda. Bannon failed in his first test when he supported Roy Moore to be Alabama’s Senator. Then Trump broke with Bannon after he was quoted extensively in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury as calling a meeting with Russians “treasonous” and accusing Trump of money laundering.
The cascade of failure for Bannon continues. He lost his financial support from the ultra-right-wing Mercer family, and was removed from Breitbart. Last week Bannon had the University of Chicago withdraw a speaking invitation due to student protests. And, Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller subpoenaed Bannon on the same day he was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee.
Mueller’s subpoena may have been a ploy to convince Mueller to be more forthcoming in future interviews. If so, it seems to have worked. Bannon agreed to Mueller’s conditions for an interview. Of course, Mueller will see if Bannon contradicts his House testimony. More importantly, expect Mueller to delve into the data firm, Cambridge Analytica that Bannon introduced to the Trump campaign. Data Analytica is owned by the Mercers and might have had connections with the Russians. And, Bannon can expect Mueller to ask about all the salacious information contained in Wolff’s book.
Trump made a mistake. He gave Democrats a way out of their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) dilemma. Their dilemma was how to free the Dreamers being held hostage without sacrificing their principles by giving Trump his wall. Trump pitted one group of immigrants against another by demanding that the family reunification provisions of the immigration be rescinded.
Republicans want Dreamers exiled from “their” country. To rally Americans Democrats must show the faces of Dreamers being exiled as proof of the Republicans’ cruel defilement of the American dream. In the recent DACA tug-of-war Democrats were in the unenviable position of having to negotiate with people who were more than willing to walk away without a deal. After all, if Republicans failed to remove the family reunification provisions in exchange for protecting the Dreamers, they still had a President in thrall to Steven Miller and General John Kelly, two hardcore immigration naysayers.
If Republicans are willing to ignore 90 percent of Democrats and Independents and at least 65 percent of their base to satisfy the 35 percent of their hardcore immigration nay-saying base, then let them. The footage of Americans being deported will be reminiscent of those grainy black and white newsreels showing Jews being loaded on trains for their final journey to Buchenwald and Dachau. Americans will hear the anguished cries as their friends and neighbors are deported, leaving their homes and jobs.
Large donors like you can stop these scenes if you make it clear you will finance a massive ad campaign. You must be willing to show this country and world what a small minority of Trump voters would do to “take their country back.” You have said that you are Democrats and want to help the party. Dreamers and Democrats need non-stop, coast-to-coast ads showing packed trains ready to exile young Dreamers. If you really want to be outstanding Democrats, then please pay for these ads.
Republicans may themselves have to initiate impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. If Mueller finishes his investigation in the next couple of months, it is possible that Republicans may authorize the House Judiciary Committee to examine the evidence for impeachment. Their purpose, however, would not be to see whether the grounds exist for the House to impeach Trump. Rather, the Republicans would attempt to blunt “real” impeachment proceedings in the event Democrats win control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.
Early impeachment efforts by the Republicans could obscure or water down any evidence that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has collected. Already, Trump’s associates, without really knowing what evidence Mueller has, have attempted to invalidate information about the Trump family’s financial real estate deals. In addition, a sham impeachment could identify witnesses and law enforcement officers so that Trump’s associates could undermine their testimony. Already Trump’s associates, including some Republican members of Congress, are trying to sabotage FBI agents who can corroborate former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that Trump obstructed justice.
A phony impeachment by Republican House members could rile the rile Trump’s base and further de-legitimate any other impeachment proceedings. Most Republican voters (85 percent) believe that the Mueller investigation is illegitimate now.
Of course, a Republican impeachment would not find enough credible evidence to impeach Trump. A phony Republican impeachment could derail a Democratic impeachment and bolster Republican chances of winning in 2018 and beyond.
Two days after Trump muddied the waters about Dreamers during his televised exhibition to show his deal making and mental acuity, he clarified his position on immigration in a private meeting with lawmakers. Unfortunately for Trump and all Americans, his clarification unveiled how his racism and support for white supremacy underlies his immigration policy.
Following up on the earlier meeting, Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham arranged to meet with Trump to present their bipartisan proposal for permanently legalizing the status of the Dreamers. When Durbin and Graham arrived, Trump, surrounded by eight or so immigration hardliners, had reversed his initial agreeability to their proposal. A heated discussion about protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries in a temporary status followed. According to several people in the meeting, Trump asked: “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump then suggested that more people from countries like Norway should be admitted to the U.S. and said specifically that Haitians should be left out of any deal. “Why do we need more Haitians?” “Take them out.”
No major federal gun legislation has been enacted in the U.S. since 1994. For a host of reasons, the number of deaths by gun violence dropped in the 1990s, but has now remained essentially level over the last decade. Level- but still shocking. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2017, there were 53, 722 incidents of gun violence (not counting suicides), with 13, 513 deaths. We lost 696 children under the age of 11 to gun violence. There were 333 mass shootings. These numbers were the approximate “level” recorded in each of the previous four years. In the first 9 days of 2018, 364 people have been killed by gun violence in the US.
The gun rights community has been on a winning streak despite the efforts of gun-control advocates and some gun-control legislation in a few blue states. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, New York, and Washington, for example, joined California and Rhode Island in requiring background checks for all gun sales. Nineteen states had banned concealed gun carrying by civilians in the 1980s and 29 states could decide whether to grant carry permits. Now, only nine states can decide whether to grant carry permits. Twenty-nine states must issue carry permits, unless the applicant is a felon or mentally incompetent and 12 states do not require carry permits.
After Sandy Hook, the cry for national comprehensive background check by Congress went unheeded. Congress is now considering a bill to require concealed carry reciprocity among the states. That is, every state’s concealed carry permits must be accepted by every other state. In effect, this reciprocity law would impose the lowest standard for a concealed carry permit on every other state. Wyoming does not require a permit to carry within the state, but will provide one, if it is needed in another state. Presumably if this bill is enacted, a neo-Nazi or KKK member from Wyoming could carry a concealed weapon on the New York subway. Congress is also considering a law that would remove the obstacles to owning a gun silencer or suppressor, presumably to prevent gun enthusiasts from damaging their hearing. Originally, this law was enacted to prevent their use in criminal activities like shooting people. Congress should reflect on the value of hearing the shots in Las Vegas. Instead of hearing gunshots, the first sounds will be agonizing screams.
Toi overcome the intransigence of the gun lobby to permit any gun-control legislation, new approaches to gun-control must be developed. One such approach is to focus on fixing particularly dangerous gun devices and practices. A dangerous device, discussed in the first of a two part series--“Las Vegas Shows Why the NRA Stand on Banning Assault Rifles Is Phony,” is the “bump stock.” One approach to changing gun community practices is discussed in the second article--“Let’s Work toward a Gun Rights Compromise.”
Las Vegas Shows Why the NRA Stand on Banning Assault Rifles Is Phony
Easily accessible assault style rifles thwart the law against machine guns. The U.S. public, fearing massacres enabled by machine guns, demanded a law against them in 1934. And, for the first time, the U.S. passed anti-gun legislation, effectively outlawing machine guns. Now innovative gunsmiths have developed devices that, when coupled with assault style rifles, skirt the law against machine guns. These barely legal guns mimic the sound, feel, and deadliness of machine guns.
As sold in the U.S., assault style rifles are incapable of shooting like a machine gun. A person cannot shoot continuously by holding the trigger down. Instead, he must pull and release the trigger for each shot. Hence, these guns are called semi-automatics. The rate at which they can be fired is slower than a fully automatic machine gun.
Preparation for Fascism