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This Guy Just Destroyed Right Wing Politics In One Epic Rant

(Editor’s note: I found this rant on facebook and contacted the author to get permission to publish it. Thank you Monty for allowing us to share your epic rant)

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LaMonte M Fowler

By LaMonte M Fowler

I feel the need to drop a little truth on y’all. So buckle up…I’m about to be politically incorrect.

We don’t need to take America back. No one stole it. It’s right here…you’re sitting in it. Chillax.

Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall and we’re not going to deport millions of people and break up families. If you think either one is a good idea, you’re not smart and probably not a person I want to hang out with.

We don’t live in a democracy. Technically we are a Federal Republic. But in reality we are ruled by an oligarchy. If you don’t know what that is, look it up. Reading will do you good. You probably need to do more of it.

FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC have an agenda and are not “fair and balanced” or in any way unbiased. I’ll reiterate…read more. Read newspapers (even online ones). Read lots of opinions and sources and then (stay with me here), THINK! Form your own opinion based on as many facts as your can brain can tolerate.

Speaking of facts…there actually is a difference between facts, opinions, and propaganda. You should learn the difference. (Another opportunity to show off your mad reading skills.)

Science is real. We know things because of science. Don’t be afraid of it. You have an iPhone and Facebook because of science. It’s your friend.

Global warming or “climate change” as the cool kids call it IS REAL. Anyone who tells you it’s not real is not a smart person and probably should not be dressing themselves or caring for children.

Racism exists. And you are probably a little racist and should work on that. Seriously.

American Christians are not under attack. We are not being persecuted. We wield so much power in this country that politicians pretend to be Christian just so we will vote for them. No one is trying to take your bible away from you. The gay people are not destroying our families—we don’t need any help from them, thank you. We do a fine job of that by ourselves. So stop saying we are persecuted. You sound stupid.

Poor people need help. If you’re not helping them but complaining about how the government helps them with your money you are not a nice person.

Be nice to the people who teach your children. Don’t send them nasty emails or yell at them. Their job is 10,000 times harder than your stupid job. You are not a professional educator so just shut your mouth and be thankful someone is willing to teach your offspring.

You don’t know what Common Core is. You think you do, but you don’t unless you’re a teacher. So stop complaining about math problem memes on Facebook. You can’t do the math anyway.

ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States. We do not need to rebuild our military. Our military is the strongest, scariest, most badass killing machine the world has ever seen. So stop being afraid and stop letting politicians and pundits scare you.

Guns do in fact kill people. That’s what they are designed to do. If you feel you need a gun to protect yourself in America, you are probably living in the wrong neighborhood and should move before you go out and buy a gun. There are like a billion places to live where you won’t need a gun, or even need to lock your front door.

If you do own a gun, then make sure you know how to use it really, really, really well. Seriously…get some training because you still don’t know how to record stuff with your DVR. Go to the gun range and shoot the thing a lot. Learn how to clean it properly and be able to disassemble it and reassemble it with your eyes closed. It’s a freaking gun and it deserves that level of care, proficiency and respect. And for God’s sake, keep it locked up and away from your kids.

If you are even a little bit crazy, sad, or pissed off…you shouldn’t have a gun. And the Founding Fathers would totally agree with me.

Stop being suspicious of American Muslims. I guarantee the guy sitting next to you in the cubicle at work is probably more of a threat to you than any Muslim. He has to listen to your uninformed ranting day after day and has probably already imagined very colorful and creative ways to end you.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and all the rest are ENTERTAINERS! Stop getting your opinions from them. (Here’s where that reading thing can really be an advantage.)

Stop sharing Facebook memes that tell me to share or else Jesus won’t bless me with a laundry basket full of cash. That’s not how prayer works. And I don’t want money delivered (even from God) in a laundry basket. Nobody ever washes those things out and they just keep putting nasty dirty clothes in them. Yuck!

We are the United States of America and we can afford to house every homeless veteran, feed every child, and take in every refugee and still have money left over for Starbucks and a bucket of KFC.

Unless you can trace your family line back to someone who made deerskin pants look stylish and could field dress a buffalo, you are a descendent of an immigrant. Please stop saying that immigrants are ruining our country. Such comments are like a giant verbal burrito stuffed with historical ignorance, latent racism, and xenophobia, all wrapped in a fascist tortilla.

That’s all for now. I feel better.


Author Bio

LaMonte is an author, missionary, and business consultant who lives Chicago, Illinois. When he is not writing science fiction novels or helping his clients, you can find him serving the people along the Amazon River in Brazil. You can learn more about his work at www.lamontemfowler.com.

THIS WEEK: Maggie Hassan Continues Fighting For New Hampshire’s Children, Natural Resources

Maggie For NH Also Launches New Radio Ad Calling Out Ayotte’s Vote To Continue Allowing Suspected Terrorists To Buy Guns And Explosives

CONCORD – This week, Governor Maggie Hassan continued her advocacy for New Hampshire’s children and natural resources. Maggie for NH also launched a new radio ad calling out Kelly Ayotte’s vote against closing a loophole that allows known or suspected terrorists to buy guns and explosives and contrasting Ayotte’s commitment to Washington special interests with the Governor’s commitment to the safety and security of New Hampshire families. 

See below for a few highlights from the past week:

Advocating for New Hampshire’s Children

On Monday, Governor Hassan spoke at the Concord YMCA to highlight the importance of early childhood education.  

From NH1: 

The daughter of a college professor and classroom teacher, this governor knows the power of advocacy for early learning.

“Kids need to know they will have a grownup in their corner. And I am looking out at adults who have pledged to be that grownup in the corner for New Hampshire’s children,’’ says Gov. Maggie Hassan.

The pledge in part says, “We believe children are the bedrock of the granite state. We know that the future prosperity of New Hampshire depends on our ability to steward the next generation who will live, work and lead in our state.’’

This poses a marked contrast with Ayotte’s record of voting for Republican budget plans that would kick hundreds of New Hampshire children out of Head Start programs while slashing investment in k-12 education.

Preserving New Hampshire’s Natural Resources

Also this week, Governor Hassan highlighted the important work of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program to protect the state’s natural, historical and cultural resources. The Governor fought to restore funding for this crucial program in the 2013 budget, and maintained the state’s commitment to the program in the recent compromise budget. 

From WMUR:

Gov. Maggie Hassan is applauding work of the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, which has selected 32 projects to benefit New Hampshire’s most cherished resources.

The 13 land projects and 19 building projects, listed by regions below, will benefit both land conservation and preservation of the state’s heritage.

Meanwhile, Kelly Ayotte has repeatedly sided with the Koch Brothers while our beautiful natural resources pay the price – earning a lifetime score of 23% from the League of Conservation Voters. She’s fought to protect tax breaks for Big Oil, and she was the only New England Senator to oppose critical clean water protections

Maggie For NH Launches New Radio Ad Highlighting Ayotte’s Vote To Continue Allowing Suspected Terrorists To Buy Guns And Explosives

Maggie for NH this week launched a new radio ad highlighting Kelly Ayotte’s vote against closing a loophole that allows known or suspected terrorists to purchase guns and explosives. For the full ad, click HERE.

From WMUR:

Gov. Maggie Hassan’s U.S. Senate campaign on Tuesday launched its first radio ad of the campaign, accusing U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of doing the bidding of the National Rifle Association in a recent key vote.

… It focuses on Ayotte’s recent vote opposing an amendment by Democratic U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein that would have allowed the government to ban the sale of firearms to anyone on the nation’s terrorist watch list.

… Hassan’s ad charges that Ayotte, by voting for what the Democrats have called a “watered-down” bill, “was caught putting the interests of the NRA in Washington ahead of ensuring our safety here at home.”

In an op-ed in the Concord Monitor, House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff, who has also spent a career in federal law enforcement, criticized Ayotte’s vote to put special interests before New Hampshire’s safety:

By voting to continue allowing terrorists to purchase deadly weapons and attempting to mislead the public about her position on this issue, Sen. Ayotte put the special interest of a vocal few ahead of New Hampshire’s interests and our safety. The people of New Hampshire deserve better.

John Kacavas, former United States attorney for New Hampshire, and Mark Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut and co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, also criticized lawmakers for opposing common-sense solutions to make communities safer in another Concord Monitor op-ed:

Americans are demanding that their leaders set aside their ideological agendas and set out to find common ground and some commonsense solutions that make our communities safer places to live. Closing the loopholes in our background check system to help prevent a new brand of terrorism from visiting America’s shores would do just that.

Granite State Rumblings: Protecting Children From Accidental Gun Violence And Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

This weekend my newsfeed was filled with the story of a 6 year old child who accidently shot his 3 year old brother during a game of “cops and robbers.” The loaded gun had been kept on the top of the refrigerator, wrapped in a pair of pajamas.

In July, two young boys were playing with a gun when it went off and fatally struck one of them in the head. The 11-year-old and 8-year-old found two guns inside an upstairs bedroom at a home in which they were visiting.

In February the father of a 4-year-old Toms River, NJ boy who shot and killed his 6-year-old friend was sentenced to three years in prison for leaving the weapon unsecured and accessible to the children in the house.

Children often have easy access to guns in their homes, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

  • 1 in 3 homes with children have guns, many unlocked or loaded.
  • 3 in 4 children ages 5 to 14 knows where firearms are kept in the home.
  • 80% of unintentional firearm deaths of kids under 15 occur in a home.
  • 82% of adolescent suicides involve a gun belonging to a family member.
  • Guns are the 2nd leading cause of death among children and teens.

If you’re like most parents, you probably have some questions the first time your child asks to play with a new friend or in a new place. How will they be supervised? Are the TV shows and games age-appropriate? What about Internet access and pets and allergies?

However, we’ve learned that there’s one important question that over half of parents never think to ask:

“Is there an unlocked gun where my child plays?”

It may feel a little awkward, but it could save a child’s life.

In 2015, 570 Children (age 0-11) and 2,093 Teens (age 12-17) have been killed or injured due to gun violence. Source: Gun Violence Archive

As of October 1, 2015 there have been 294 Mass Shootings in the United States this year. There were a total of 336 in 2014. Source: Mass Shooting Tracker

On October 1st, we witnessed yet another horrific mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, this time at a community college. This was the 142nd school shooting since 2013 and the 294th mass shooting so far this year in America.

Here in New Hampshire, someone is killed with a gun every 4 days. From 2002 to 2011, 874 people were killed with guns in our state.

Despite this staggering amount of violence, Congress has done nothing to pass a single sensible gun law since the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012. It’s time that we said enough is enough. Americans should be able to feel safe in their schools, churches, and everyday lives, and we need to demand action from our elected officials to #stopgunviolence.

Last Thursday, a number of U.S. Senators announced a plan that will strengthen our nation’s gun laws and save lives. If you agree that this can’t wait any longer, please contact Senator Kelly Ayotte and urge her to take action now on sensible gun legislation.

CALL / EMAIL Sen. Ayotte HERE

TWEET / FACEBOOK / Sen. Ayotte


GROWING UP GRANITE

Our NH legislators are filing bill requests for the next session. These are called Legislative Service Requests (LSR’s). These are the beginning of the drafting process to create a bill. The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) processes all legislation that passes through the New Hampshire General Court. The Office has attorneys who draft the legislation as well as other support staff. Only a member of the House of Representatives or a member of the Senate can sponsor an LSR. While the titles of LSRs are published, the actual language is confidential because of an attorney-client relationship between the drafting attorneys and the sponsor. LSRs become public once they are introduced to the appropriate chamber and they become bills. However, you can always ask the sponsor about the content of an LSR, and the sponsor will often share the language.

As of Monday evening there were 688 LSRs for the 2016 session. Every Child Matters in NH tracks the LSRs to determine, as best we are able based on the language, which ones we will want to watch and follow.

There is one LSR in particular that has caught our attention. It is number 2016-2208 HB – requiring drug testing of public assistance recipients.

I have spoken with the sponsor of this LSR (who happens to represent the ward I live in) and, at his request, will be e-mailing to him information on drug testing results from the handful of states that have had or do have drug testing requirements. One piece of information that I will be passing along is the article below from Think Progress.

What 7 States Discovered After Spending More Than $1 Million Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

BY BRYCE COVERT & JOSH ISRAEL  – FEB 26, 2015

Proposals keep cropping up to drug test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare. Bills have been introduced so far in Montana, Texas, and West Virginia, with a handful of others also considering such a move. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has gone further, proposing to drug test applicants for food stamps and unemployment benefits. They follow recent bills put into action in Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.

Proponents of these bills claim they will save money by getting drug users off the dole and thus reduce spending on benefits. But states that are looking at bills of their own may want to consider the fact that the drug testing programs that are already up and running haven’t seen such results.

According to state data gathered by ThinkProgress, the seven states with existing programs — Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah — are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferret out very few drug users. The statistics show that applicants actually test positive at a lower rate than the drug use of the general population. The national drug use rate is 9.4 percent. In these states, however, the rate of positive drug tests to total welfare applicants ranges from 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent, but all except one have a rate below 1 percent. Meanwhile, they’ve collectively spent nearly $1 million on the effort, and millions more may have to be spent in coming years.

Does Drug Testing Welfare Applicants Work?

Lawmakers who push these bills claim that they will cut down on costs by rooting out drug abusers while also helping to refer those users to treatment. But in reality, they come with few, if any, benefits.

“The main impact of it is first…to spend TANF money that could go into other things,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, policy coordinator and director of income and work supports at CLASP, a non-profit focused on policy for low-income individuals. While many states told ThinkProgress that the funds don’t necessarily come out of the pot that would go to TANF benefits, it is still money that could go elsewhere. “The money could certainly be spent on other things if it wasn’t going to drug testing,” she said. “Even if it’s a state where it can’t go to into childcare or cash assistance, it probably comes out of their administration pot, so that’s caseworkers and things like that.”

The other impact is increasing stigma around both welfare and drug use. It can increase the shame people feel around applying for welfare benefits in the first place, which could drive them away from getting assistance they may need to get by. At the same time, it may make drug users less willing to disclose and therefore keep them from connecting with treatment, according to Lower-Basch. “If people are afraid they’ll lose their benefits if they admit to using drugs, it makes it hard for them to say, ‘Hey, actually I have this issue,’” she explained. A study of Florida’s program, which has since been struck down by the courts, found that it didn’t produce any reliable estimates of drug use among welfare recipients.

Even if the policies did unearth drug users in need of help, however, that doesn’t mean states are going to get it to them. Many “don’t guarantee your slot [in treatment facilities] or in some cases pay for it,” she noted. Centers often have long waiting lists, so someone who gets referred may not even be able to get in. Some states used to use TANF money to expand access to drug treatment, but as the money allocated to the program has dropped in real value, those efforts have dried up.

There is one way Lower-Basch thinks drug testing welfare recipients used to be helpful: not to determine eligibility for benefits, but to help them get work. “It was part of the work assessment,” she explained, “what are your barriers to work, what do you need in order to get a job.” If it was a barrier to employment, states could try to help them get what they needed to overcome it.

The High Costs And Few Rewards In Each State

The drug-testing regimes in the seven states all differ slightly, but the lack of effectiveness is widespread.

Missouri – In 2011, Missouri adopted a law to require screening and testing for all TANF applicants, and the testing began in March 2013. In 2014, 446 of the state’s 38,970 applicants were tested. Just 48 tested positive.

Oklahoma – Oklahoma passed its law in 2012, requiring a screening of all applicants and chemical tests for those for whom there is a “reasonable cause” to believe they are using illegal substances. From November 2012 through November 2014, 3,342 applicants were screened and 2,992 selected for further testing (though those numbers could include some who applied more than once). Two-hundred and ninety-seven tested positive for illegal substances.

Utah – Utah also enacted its law in 2012, requiring a written screening and a drug test for anyone with a “reasonable likelihood” of having a “substance use disorder.” Between its implementation in August 2012 and July of 2014, 9,552 applicants were screened and 838 were given drug tests. Just 29 tested positive at a cost of more than $64,000, according to a Utah Department of Workforce Services spokesman.

Kansas – Kansas enacted its drug screening law in 2013, requiring that from 2014 onward, all TANF applicants be tested if a “reasonable suspicion exists” that they might be illegally using “a controlled substance or controlled substance analog.” In the first six months in which the system was in place, Kansas received 2,783 TANF applications. A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Children and Families told ThinkProgress, “The first three months of implementation yielded very few drug tests, as staff became comfortable with the criteria. Referrals have increased since that time. So far, 65 individuals have been referred for suspicion-based drug testing. 11 tested positive [and] 12 failed to appear for their scheduled test appointment.” She estimated that the cost to the department over those six months was about $40,000.

Mississippi – Last year, Mississippi passed a law requiring all TANF applicants to complete a written questionnaire about drug use and mandating testing for anyone whose questionnaire suggests a “reasonable likelihood” of a “substance use disorder.” The new system went into effect in August 2014. Over the first five months, 3,656 TANF applicants were screened for use of illegal substances and 38 were referred for drug testing. Just two tested positive.

Tennessee – A 2012 Tennessee law was particularly descriptive about its reasoning for TANF drug testing. After observing that “persons who are not under the pernicious influence of illegal drugs [are] less disruptive of the social fabric, persons and neighborhoods around them are safer as well,” that ” tax dollars should go to persons who are trying to better themselves rather than to persons who violate our state and national laws and support a network of illicit purveyors of misery and disappointment,” and that “the public image of TANF recipients will be enhanced by removing the stigma that is too often attached to such recipients that they use government funds to purchase illegal drugs,” the legislature mandated “suspicion-based drug testing for each applicant” otherwise eligible for TANF.

The program went into effect in July 2014 and, between that time and the end of the year, 16,017 applied for Families First, Tennessee’s TANF program. Of those, 279 were given drug tests and 37 failed then.

Arizona – In 2009, Arizona’s legislature passed a new requirement to “screen and test each adult recipient who is otherwise eligible for temporary assistance for needy families cash benefits and who the department has reasonable cause to believe engages in the illegal use of controlled substances.” Anyone who tested positive would be ineligible to receive the benefits for a year. Supporters claimed this move would save the state $1.7 million annually.

While the legislature has kept the rule each year since its 2010 implementation, very few people have actually even been referred for drug testing after completing a written drug use statement. Since 2014, more than 140,000 Arizona TANF recipients have been screened by the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Just 42 have been referred for a drug test over that time — of the 19 who completed the test, only three have ever tested positive.

Our next door neighbor instituted drug testing requirements in April of this year. Maine Governor Paul LePage argued for legislators to pass this legislation in 2014 saying, “We must ensure that our tax dollars do not enable the continuation of a drug addiction.”

From April through June, the state attempted to screen 15 out of about 5,700 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients, according to an Associated Press investigation, and just one person tested positive.

As you can see drug testing welfare recipients has not created the millions of dollars in projected savings, instead it has cost taxpayers more money in the end. And the stubborn stickiness of the idea that drug testing low-income families is good policy reflects a broader misunderstanding about the lifestyles of the poor. In reality, people who rely on public assistance programs to make ends meet are thriftier than the average American. They have to be. There is not one county in New Hampshire where the amount of a monthly TANF check covers the cost of rent.

So, let’s get ready to work together to insure that Granite State families who need a temporary hand up to make ends meet are not subjected to this humiliating and insulting kind of treatment by our legislature.

Why It Is A Bad Idea For Teachers To Be “Packing Heat” At School

It seems like every few weeks we are hearing about another school shooting or unstable individual attacking innocent people in the streets.

For some people the answer is always the same, more guns!

Fact: More guns do not mean people are safer. Research shows the exact opposite.

More Guns = More Accidental Shootings: People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when they live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns.”

To counter the increase in schools shooting some school boards have approved allowing teachers to carry weapons in schools. Are you prepared for teachers in your local schools to be carrying concealed weapons, ready to shoot at any moment?

In 2012, less than one week after the horrific shootings at Newton, the NRA called for more guns in our schools. The American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who represented the teachers at Sandy Hook and thousands more across the country, issued a statement.

AFT President Weingarten  (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

AFT President Weingarten (Photo by Bruce Gilbert)

This is both irresponsible and dangerous. No matter how much money the NRA spends or propaganda it tries to spread, one thing is clear—the NRA is not serious about confronting the epidemic of gun violence in our nation.”

Schools must be safe sanctuaries, not armed fortresses. Anyone who would suggest otherwise doesn’t understand that our public schools must first and foremost be places where teachers can safely educate and nurture our students.”

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Vice President of the National Education Association, completely rejects the idea, being pushing by legislators and school boards, of arming teachers.  As she phrased it, “People that would put our children, teachers, and janitors at risk do not deserve their office.”

Woman Shooting at Target (Image by Jimi Lanham CC Flickr)

Image by Jimi Lanham CC Flickr

If you live in Kansas, armed teachers will very soon be a reality! They are already using taxpayer money to pay for training programs.

Read this, “Armed Missouri teachers will have ’90 percent’ accuracy, firearm instructors promise

I am personally appalled by this idea because I read every day about another person who is killed by accidental gun violence. I do not want to read about how a teacher accidentally shot their second grade student.

“Shield Solutions training supervisor Don Crowley vowed that his students would have an accuracy of 90 to 95 percent at the end of five days of training.”

Really? A 90% accuracy after just five days of training? Hogwash!

I will concede that someone who is training for five days straight may be able to pass a test with “90%” accuracy, but that does not mean that in a month, or a year, that those gun-wielding teachers will still have the same accuracy.

Consider this, a study of New York City police officers involved in a ‘fire fight’ have an accuracy rating of only 18%. These are trained professionals who go through rigorous weapons training, regular accuracy tests, and yet they only average 18%!

What makes anyone think that a one week training class for teachers would make them more accurate that the entire New York Police department? There is serious difference between standing on a range, firing bullets at a paper target, and a person holding a gun, that is pointed at you, and is shooting back.

31,000 Americans died from gunshot wounds in 2010, and another 73,000 Americans were hospitalized with non-fatal gunshot wounds.   “From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the U.S. died from unintentional shootings.” Over 1,300 of those were people under the age of 25.

What about the teacher who is careless and leaves their gun in a desk, unlocked, unguarded, where children are definitely present? Do not lie to yourself by saying this would never happen, because you know it would only be a matter of time.

The New Yorkers Against Gun Violence reported:

“The majority of people killed in firearm accidents are under age 24, and most of these young people are being shot by someone else, usually someone their own age. The shooter is typically a friend or family member, often an older brother.”

There are dozens of other examples of “responsible gun owners” who have shot themselves or others accidentally.

Do we really want this remote possibility in our schools???

I don’t.

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In a side note: New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and Mike Thompson (CA-05)  lead  163 House Members in Calling for a Vote on Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

163 Members of Congress Demand a Vote, Not Silence, to Prevent Gun Violence

Reps. Shea-Porter, Thompson Lead 163 House Members in Calling for a Vote on Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of recent shootings in Portland, Las Vegas, and Santa Barbara, Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), a member of the House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) led a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) signed by 163 Members of Congress demanding a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence.

“Our nation has suffered at least 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre,” Shea-Porter, Thompson, and 161 of their colleagues wrote. “The factors allowing these rampages are no mystery: loopholes in the background check laws, straw purchases, restrictions on law enforcement, and gaps in our mental health system. Dozens of legislative proposals that address these factors have been introduced and await consideration. But despite wake-up call after wake-up call, a shameful tradition of Congressional inaction continues.”

“Moments of silence on the floor of the House are not enough.  The last thing these victims and their families need is further silence from this Congress. They deserve a vote,” they continued.

Recently on the floor of the House of Representatives, Shea-Porter called on Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on legislation to help prevent more deaths from senseless gun violence.

The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which is chaired by Thompson, released a comprehensive set of policy principles that will reduce gun violence and respect the Second Amendment.

Of those recommendations, one of the most important pieces is H.R. 1565, bipartisan legislation written by Reps. Thompson and Peter King (R-NY) and cosponsored by Rep. Shea-Porter, to strengthen and expand background checks. This legislation bolsters the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners and helps keep guns from criminals, terrorists, and the dangerously mentally ill.

Right now, a criminal in many states can buy a firearm at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad because those sales don’t require a background check.  H.R. 1565 requires comprehensive and enforceable background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows, over the Internet, or through classified ads, while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friends. Background checks would be conducted though a licensed dealer in the same manner as they have been for more than 40 years. The Thompson-King bill bans the creation of a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Congressional silence is not a sign of respect, but rather an institutional indictment. We must right this wrong. You must allow a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence,” Shea-Porter, Thompson and others concluded in their letter.

Full text of the letter to Speaker John Boehner is below. The full list of signatories can be found here.

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June 26, 2014
Speaker John Boehner
Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We agree with you that we must honor the victims of the recent shootings in Portland, Las Vegas and Santa Barbara. But moments of silence on the floor of the House are not enough.  The last thing these victims and their families need is further silence from this Congress. They deserve a vote.

Our nation has suffered at least 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre. The factors allowing these rampages are no mystery: loopholes in the background check laws, straw purchases, restrictions on law enforcement, and gaps in our mental health system. Dozens of legislative proposals that address these factors have been introduced and await consideration. But despite wake-up call after wake-up call, a shameful tradition of Congressional inaction continues.

Gun violence has affected constituents in every Congressional district, and as their representatives, Members of Congress deserve the opportunity to vote on bills that would address this epidemic. 

Congressional silence is not a sign of respect, but rather an institutional indictment. We must right this wrong. You must allow a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence.

Sincerely,

 

NH Senate Vote On Mentally Ill And Guns Could Put Public Safety At Risk

NH Senate Votes to Loosen Public Safety Laws, Advance Dangerous Annulment Process to Restore Gun Rights to Mentally Ill

CONCORD, NH – The entire Senate Republican caucus and four Senate Democrats voted today to erode the quality of SB 244’s original relief from disabilities (RFD) program to restore gun rights for people whose mental health treatment has ended—the appropriate formula—and replace the bill with a dangerous and untested “annulment” process that doesn’t take into account mental health history. The 17-7 vote means the bill moves to the House.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“SB 244’s original goal was to report the names of those who are prohibited purchasers of firearms due to mental health to be reported to the NICS background check system, and to establish a relief from disabilities program for people whose mental health treatment has ended so that they can restore their gun rights. Granite State Progress supported these original goals, but the gun lobby amended version of SB 244 jeopardizes public safety.”

“The annulment process that passed the Senate diminishes the state’s ability to determine when a person should get relief, and does not provide judges with appropriate evidence to consider when making these determinations. Unlike the original bill, the amendment does not require any consideration of the person’s mental health history, the person’s reputation as developed through character evidence or character witnesses, and changes in the person’s condition. No documentation is required regarding documentation of the commitment or treatment resolution, nor does it require releases allowing mental health providers to provide opinions about the person’s dangerousness and suitability to possess firearms.”

“SB 244 will likely not meet federal standards for a relief from disabilities program, meaning the State of New Hampshire cannot apply for federal funding to help implement a process to submit mental health records. The striking irony is that SB 244 originally set out to make sure New Hampshire was submitting mental health records to the background checks system, and instead this gun lobby amendment narrowed the bill to only how to remove records we aren’t even adequately reporting. We are beyond disappointed that Senate Republicans, aided by four Senate Democrats, chose to undermine public safety and establish an untested and unstable annulment process that could put guns back in the hands of those who should not have them. Following tragedies such as Newtown and Virginia Tech, we expect more.”

“On a better note, the Senate rejected a skewed study commission that focused solely on how to keep records out of the background checks system. That commission membership was heavily tilted towards gun groups and sought to undermine the current background checks system.”

More background:

SB 244’s annulment process doesn’t meet best practices and jeopardizes federal funding opportunities should New Hampshire start to report mental health records in the future.

The ATF form, wherein states apply for their Relief from Disability programs to be certified in order to receive federal funding, makes it clear that the state program must “receive evidence concerning and [must] consider…the circumstances regarding the [prohibition]; applicant’s record, which must include, at a minimum, the applicant’s mental health and criminal history records; and applicant’s reputation, developed, at a minimum, through character witness statements, testimony, or other character evidence.” The amendment’s process doesn’t require mental health records be submitted, doesn’t require any character evidence, and doesn’t require consideration of the circumstances surrounding prohibition.

Even red states that pass these laws require that mental health professionals weigh in: South Carolina passed a law last year that requires: 1) examination of the circumstances surrounding the prohibition, 2) the petitioner’s mental health and criminal history records, 3) character evidence, and 4) a current evaluation by either the state Department of Health or a licensed physician addressing whether the petitioner poses a threat to self or others.

The amended version also lowers the judicial standard for restoring rights, making it more likely that people who are still dangerous will have their rights restored and be able to buy guns. Under the original bill, the petitioner had to show “by a preponderance” that he is not dangerous. Under the amendment, the other side has to show “by clear and convincing evidence” (a higher standard) that he is dangerous, and that the “danger” would have to be “potentially serious.”

NH House Committee Passes Study Commission on Gun Violence and Background Checks

Proposed 10-member commission would study impact of firearms violence, background checks, and other firearms safety measures

CONCORD, NH – The NH House Criminal Justice committee voted 12-6 in a bipartisan fashion to pass an amended bill today establishing a study commission on gun violence and background checks, among other firearms safety measures. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“We appreciate the dedicated legislators who are as concerned as we are about gun violence for moving forward with a commission to study gun violence and remedies for it. We all know that 89% of Granite Staters already support background checks, but frankly the public is ahead of some politicians on this one. Study commissions are a common way for the New Hampshire legislature to address heated political topics, and while public safety shouldn’t fall into that category, the legislature will benefit from a dedicated study of firearms violence and remedies for our state.

“The proposed commission will include a diverse set of stakeholders from law enforcement, the mental health community, domestic and sexual violence experts, gun violence prevention advocates, gun owners, and retail firearm businesses in addition to legislators. This fair and balanced representation of interests will make the study commission insightful and fruitful. We look forward to its passage.”

Background:

The amendment was added to HB 1264, which originally sought to allow a nonresident from a state that does not require a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver to carry in New Hampshire. Rep. JR Hoell is the sole sponsor of the underlying bill. Rep. Hoell last week introduced an amendment to HB 1589, the background checks bill, which would have replaced it with a committee to study the “correlation between current New Hampshire law and the low violent crime rate in this state.”

HB 1264, as amended, establishes a commission to study the impact of firearms violence, explore options to strengthen the background check system for firearms sales, and consider measures to promote firearms safety.

AFT President Randi Weingarten Honors Newtown

Washington—AFT President Randi Weingarten honors Newtown, Conn., on the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The AFT represents the educators and school staff in Newtown.

“The pain and tragedy of what happened last year on Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School will never be forgotten. But in that tragedy, we saw angels—educators who dedicated their lives to helping our children reach for the stars—give their lives in the service of our children.

“Our instinct as educators and school staff is to love and protect our children. We saw that on last Dec. 14. We know these stories by heart: The teacher who sheltered her students in a closet with only her body and a thin door between them and the shooter. The teacher who led her kids into a bathroom where many were able to escape the danger. The custodian who risked his life trying to keep ahead of the gunman, rushing through the halls to make sure all the classroom doors were locked. The teachers who tried to hide their children any place they could until the police came.

“It’s what I witnessed when I met with educators following the massacre—in this incredible moment of grief, these educators were worried first about how they would be able to create a sense of normalcy and support for their students. And it’s what I saw when I visited every Newtown school when they reopened, where the priority of teachers was to ensure their classrooms were safe, nurturing environments so their children could get back to learning. It was their collective strength and love, matched with the support of parents and the community, that pieced together shattered hearts, healed souls and helped overcome the horror of that day.

“Today we remember the 26 children and educators we lost, and we must recommit ourselves to ensure that every school is a safe sanctuary for our children. Today we honor Newtown and choose love.”

One Year After Newtown And I Am Still Angry

Author’s Note: Some of you may be wondering what is a labor union advocate doing talking about gun control and Sandy Hook.  The answer is simple.  I have three children who attend an elementary school just like Sandy Hook.  I would also like to point out that two of the largest labor unions in New Hampshire are the teachers unions (NEA-NH and AFT-NH).

One year ago we all were stunned by the horrific event at a little elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  This tragic event that took the lives of twenty innocent school children, and six brave educators.   As Adam Lanza entered the school, with guns blazing he managed to fire over 150 rounds from his mother semi-automatic rifle with 30 round magazines.

The day after the shooting the American Federation of Teachers released this short video honoring the brave educators who sacrificed their lives to protect the children in their care.

That day, and every day since, people have been asking ‘what are we going to do about Newtown’?  For the first weeks that followed the shooting, people across the country were up in arms and calling on Congress to pass sweeping gun reforms.  A completely organic grassroots organization called ‘Moms Demand Action’ started pushing for background checks and smaller magazines on all weapons sales.

MomsDemandAction_Logo-375x300The argument quickly became a fight between common sense, and the National Rifle Association.   Across the country labor unions and other groups like Moms Demand Action, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Americans for Responsible Solutions (Gabby and Mark Giffords PAC) began an all out war with the NRA right on the steps of the Capitol.

“We demand a vote, Gabby Giffords demands a vote” cried President Obama during his State of The Union address.  As every day passed more pressure was being put on Congress to pass the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, commonly referred to as the background check bill.  A bill that would require background check on all gun sales, closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns without a background check at gun shows and on the internet.  The bill also placed a limit on the size of magazines, and ultimately pushed for a ban on all assault rifles.

Momentum and public support grew every single day leading up to the vote.  People overwhelmingly supported background check on all gun sales.  The court of public opinion was completely against the NRA, who led the charge to kill the bill.

The bill failed to break the 60-vote threshold (54-46) to overcome the Republican Filibuster.  The vote was strictly down party lines except for one stray Republican (John McCain) who voted with Democrats to pass the bill to strengthen the background check system.  (Note: four Democratic Senators voted against the bill: Baucus (D-MT), Begich (D-AK), Heitkamp (D-ND), Pryor (D-AR))

After the Senate failed to pass the Safe Communities, Safer Schools Act people became even more outraged. Demand Action – a campaign by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns — started calling out every single Senator who voted against the bill with ads like this.

SHAME ON YOU KELLY Even after the failed vote teachers unions and educators continued to speak out for stronger gun laws.  The American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told the crowd at a Netroots Nation event, “I am glad to be on the list of people they (NRA) hate.

The National Rifle Association even floated the idea that we should arm teachers with guns, because ‘the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.’  Many people, including myself thought that was just too much.  We are trying to keep the guns out of our schools and the NRA wants every teacher to be packing heat.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia completely rejected this idea of arming teachers.  Lily represents over three million educators nationwide.  As she phrased it, “People that would put our children, teachers, and janitors at risk do not deserve their office.”

AFT Remember Newtown via AFT Facebook page

AFT Remember Newtown via AFT Facebook page

Here we are, one year later, and what have we accomplished?  What have we done to stop the carnage of gun violence in America?  The Boston Globe reports:

A Law Center scorecard shows that 18 states weakened their gun restrictions in 2013, 11 states and the District of Columbia strengthened them, and 10 states passed a combination. Both sides in the gun debate, however, manage to find hopeful signs in that tally.”

Where is that outrage that we all felt last December 14th as we were all forced to see the images of teachers and children running away from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, or the images of the twenty children and six heroic teachers who we will never see again.   Where is that outrage now as the majority of the nation has yet to see any change in our gun laws?

As of today (12-13-13) there have been 11,436 or more gun related deaths since Newtown.  (Check out SLATE.COM’s most amazing interactive graphic that continues to update with the names and locations of gun related deaths since Newtown.)  This number does not include the thousands of people who commit suicide every year.  The CDC estimates that 33,000 people will die in gun related deaths this year.

The group Moms Demand Action released a statement along with a very powerful advertisement calling for an end to the ‘silence’.   Moms Demand Action are hosting ‘end the silence’ rallies all across the country to make the plea that we do not need more moments of silence, we need stronger gun laws to prevent these types of tragedies.

“One year ago, 20 beautiful children and six brave teachers and administrators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a tragedy that is still impossible to comprehend,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “On that morning, a deranged killer shot his way into what should have been a safe place, with an assault weapon and enough high-capacity ammunition magazines to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. The massacre was the product, in large part, of our nation’s weak gun laws—laws that allow military-style assault weapons to be sold legally and that permit criminals and domestic abusers to easily obtain weapons at gun shows and over the Internet without a background check.”

Since Newtown there has been at least 20 different schools shooting claiming the lives of dozens of innocent people.  When will it stop? When will Congress wake up and do what is right for public safety?  I refuse to let this be another flash in the pan that fizzles out after time.  I hope that this one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown reignites the fire we once had to effect much needed changes in our gun laws.  I am also proud of the labor leaders like Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelsen Garcia who using their positions as labor leaders to continue to fight for stronger and more effective gun laws.

* * * * * * *

For those in the New Hampshire area here, is a list of some of the Newtown Anniversary events going on throughout the weekend.

Related articles on the NH Labor News:

AFT President Randi Weingarten Honors Newtown (2013)

When Tragedy Strike, Heroes Emerge. In Sandy Hook, The Educators Are The Heroes

Teachers’ Unions Make A Call For Common Sense Gun Reform

 

A Simple Change To Concealed Carry Law Would Make Our Communities Safer

NHLN Editor’s note:  This is a special editorial by union member and activist Judy Stadtman.  Along with all of her labor activities Judy is the co-founder of Project for Safer Communities New Hampshire, a locally-grown grassroots action initiative supporting gun violence prevention.  This editorial was also published in the NH Union Leader last week. 

BY Judy Stadtman.

What’s the difference between a loaded handgun and an unloaded semi-automatic pistol that can be armed with multiple rounds of ammunition and ready to fire in seconds?

From a public safety perspective, there’s no difference. Yet the state Supreme Court recently ruled that it’s legal for New Hampshire residents to carry a concealed, unloaded handgun, along with a ready-to-load ammunition magazine, without a valid concealed carry weapon license. To understand the full ramification of the court’s decision, it’s important to know that any New Hampshire adult can buy a handgun from a friend, family member or private seller on the Internet, without ever having to pass a standard criminal and mental health background check.

State law currently permits unlicensed firearm owners to transport handguns stored in a bag, backpack, coat pocket or motor vehicle, as long as there are no bullets in the gun’s chamber or magazine well (RSA 159.4).

This is a commonsense law that’s been on the books for many decades and strikes a good balance between respecting the rights of responsible gun owners and promoting public safety. Law-abiding New Hampshire citizens who aspire to carry loaded firearms in public have the right to carry guns openly, or may easily obtain a concealed carry weapon license — fees are minimal, there is no proficiency test, and local authorities are required to approve every applicant who passes a routine background check. But as the new court ruling reveals, a serious loophole in the state’s concealed carry law gives unlicensed individuals the legal right to carry a concealed handgun that may be technically unloaded, but functionally ready to fire.

In other words, the state of New Hampshire allows a person who may never have passed a criminal or mental health background check to bring a concealed, ready-to-fire semi-automatic handgun — with multiple rounds of ammunition close at hand — into your community.

Before you decide to stay home and barricade the doors, let’s take a deep breath and remember that even though it’s impossible to know exactly how many people in the Granite State own firearms — or what kind of guns and how many each individual owns — independent surveys consistently show that non-gun owners outnumber gun owners in New Hampshire around 2-to-1. The Guns & Ammo web- site, which in 2013 ranked New Hampshire among the top 10 states for gun owners, puts the state’s personal gun ownership rate at 30 percent.

Furthermore, any qualified demographer looking at the characteristics of the state’s population — such as income, median age, unemployment rate, educational attainment, civic engagement, and population density — would correctly predict that New Hampshire is a low-crime, low-gun-violence state. In fact, New Hampshire rates as one of the most crime-free states in the nation, year after year.

But living in an exceptionally safe state is not a valid reason to tolerate weak gun laws that allow the unchecked migration of unregulated private guns into public life. Regardless of the character and intention of the person who pulls the trigger, pistols and revolvers are specifically designed to kill people — and newer semi-automatic models have military-style features that make these popular weapons more deadly.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for New Hampshire’s concealed carry loophole. Good examples are already in effect in other states — such laws requiring unlicensed gun owners to carry unloaded firearms and ammunition in separate, completely sealed cases or compartments or locked in the trunk of a car. Our legislators should put public safety first in 2014 by making it a priority to pass legislation to close the criminal-friendly gap in New Hampshire’s concealed carry weapon law.

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