Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Horror in San Bernardino & The People's Interests

Some of the hundreds of people evacuated from the scene of the shooting  
These latest mass shootings in California have left me feeling baffled, angry and disillusioned.

Not just at the killers themselves for perpetrating the slaughter of at least 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA.

But also at the unwillingness of the current Republican majority in Congress to use their lawmaking authority to draft a single bill that would put more stringent federal background checks in place to prevent the wrong people from purchasing guns - and make it easier for law enforcement to track those who sell weapons used in the kind of horrific slaughter that took place earlier today.

A majority of American citizens have been calling for reasonable gun control legislation since well before Columbine and Sandy Hook - and yet here we are. Again.

There's so little known about the shooting beyond the death toll as I'm writing this (the LA Times is reporting that one of the killers is a U.S. citizen) so I'm just going to agree with the President's comments earlier that politicians around the nation have a moral obligation to do more to prevent this kind of mass murder - and that it's going to have to come from the local and state level.

Useless. Thanks for the moment of silence Mr. Speaker.
This do-nothing Congress is basically a write-off when it comes to taking any kind of legislative action in response to events like this.

They're owned by the NRA, beholden to a tiny group of pissed-off right-wing extremists who despise the very government they were elected to serve (we see you Freedom Caucus) and take a perverse stubborn pride in being functionally and politically impotent.

Newly-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (pictured above) has shown little interest in doing much of anything when it comes to taking the lead on drafting and passing significant bi-partisan legislation that actually has a snowball's chance in Hell of being signed into law.

When asked during a recent 60 Minutes interview whether or not he intended to try and move any gun control legislation through the House, the increasingly-feeble looking Speaker offered up this lame-ass standard Republican response to citizens demands for gun control laws:

“I haven’t thought of proposing gun legislation, I think the big problem we have is enforcing the law as we have on the books right now,”    

News flash Mr. Speaker, those laws ain't cutting it.

Instead, in keeping with the Republican tradition of prostituting themselves to the slightest whim of the NRA, Ryan's brilliant proactive solution to the epidemic of gun violence in this country is to publicly back a mental health bill sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy.

Unfortunately that mental health bill is the same shitty piece of legislation the GOP offered up as a response to the shootings in Sandy Hook - back in 2012. (Cue sound of crickets chirping).

New Jersey Governor-in-Absentia Chris Christie has been using that exact same "enforce the existing laws on the books" cop-out line for months during his presidential campaign whenever he's asked about gun control.

Christie recently stunned New Jersey voters when he decided to veto a bill passed by the state legislature with strong bi-partisan support that would have made it mandatory for anyone convicted of domestic abuse to turn in any firearms to the local police or sell them within 48 hours - and provide proof to a judge.

But in a rebuff to Christie that reflects his growing unpopularity with people in his own state (and you wonder why he's rarely here) the NJ Senate, who recently voted to override Christie's veto of a another popular gun control bill, are set to vote to override Christie's veto of the domestic abuse firearms bill sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera.

As a child Mosquera spent time in a shelter for battered women because of her father's abuse against her mother - so her support for the bill isn't just about simplistic political pandering as the veto was for Christie.

If the override of the veto goes through, it would be the first time the Democratic-majority legislature has used an override to pass a bill into law over the governor's objections in NJ.

It says a lot about Christie's plummeting popularity and I think it's also a good illustration of what President Obama was talking about earlier today when he said that gun control laws need to come from the local and state political level, not Congress.

By the way, you've likely heard Christie's pontificating on how much he supports the police and his using that die-hard support as an excuse to trash the Black Lives Matter movement right?

Well consider this. That first gun control bill passed by the NJ legislature that Christie vetoed?

As reported, it "calls for including police in the judicial process of deciding whether people with a documented mental illness may expunge this from their record in order to obtain a gun permit."

So Mr. "I support the police" used his power as governor to veto a bi-partisan bill that would have allowed police officers to have a say in deciding whether someone with a documented mental illness could conceal that when trying to buy a firearm.

Yes, his decision is as absurd as it sounds.

That's why Christie's veto, little more than a transparent attempt to wheedle some political support for his flagging presidential campaign from the NRA, was over turned.

This isn't Texas, it's New Jersey, and the folks here, Republican or Democrat, expect their politicians to represent their interests.

And as we've seen from what happened in Colorado and California and recent days, reasonable gun control legislation is most definitely in the interests of the people of this nation.

A rather simple truth that's lost on some presidential candidates.

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