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Polls: Big Majority Wants Gun Safety Measures Opposed By GOP

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Congressional Republicans are slamming President Joe Biden's recent executive actions on gun control in the wake of two mass shootings as unnecessary and counterproductive, and claim further restrictions on ownership are not the answer to gun violence.

A new poll by Morning Consult/Politico shows that most Americans feel differently.

"Limiting the ability for any law-abiding American to buy a gun will not make America safer," tweeted Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) this week.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) wrote in a tweet Sunday, "It's clear Democrat guncontrol laws don't work. Just look at the cities they control. If violent crime were down in places like Chicago, Portland and D.C., we might entertain their logic. Their failed policies don't prevent violence or protect our communities."

Studies have in fact demonstrated repeatedly that states and countries that enact stricter gun control experience fewer deaths by gun violence.

Senate Republicans like Sen. John Hoeven (R-WI), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) also criticized the Biden administration's efforts at curbing gun violence through stronger legislation, claiming such efforts are misguided and won't work.

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning indicates that most Americans disagree.

Polling indicated that 64 percent of registered American voters are in favor of stricter gun control legislation, while only 28 percent actively oppose such legislation.

Eighty-three percent of those polled also said they supported expanded background checks that apply to every single gun sale. Similarly, more than 80 percent supported prohibiting the sale of guns to those medical providers have declared too medically or psychologically unstable for ownership.

Some 73 percent of respondents supported a three-day waiting period for buying a gun, while 70 percent were in favor of implementing a national database to track gun sales. And 76 percent expressed approval for prohibiting individuals on federal watch lists from gun ownership.

Biden recently signed several executive orders directing further gun control measures after a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22, leaving 10 people dead. That attack took place just days after a white gunman killed eight individuals, including six Asian American women, at several Atlanta-area spas on March 16.

Bide placed specific focus on "ghost guns," or guns assembled from kits without serial numbers, and so-called red flag laws, which allow courts to ban firearms for individuals who have demonstrated they may be a danger to themselves or other people.

Biden also urged Congress just after the Atlanta-area shootings to implement an assault weapons ban.

"Gun violence in this country is an epidemic and it is an international embarrassment," Biden said, speaking at the White House on April 8.

Republicans were outraged at the move, with Hoeven writing in a statement responding to the President, "Infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens will not prevent violence."

Several gun control bills passed the House in March but are likely to meet challenges in the Senate, where they would need the support of at least 10 Senate Republicans in order to pass. These include the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which would require that, in the event of a gun transfer between two unlicensed individuals, a third-party seller, dealer, importer, or manufacturer to temporarily withhold the gun until a background check on the buyer is complete.

H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, also passed the House in March. This legislation would close the loophole that allowed white supremacist Dylann Roof to unlawfully procure a gun and kill nine Black Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The current loophole states that if the FBI does not complete a background check within three days, the gun transfer can still go forward — which it did in Roof's case, though he would have failed a background check.

Republicans are also objecting to David Chipman, Biden's nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who has a history of supporting some gun control measures.

"David Chipman is a gun grabber who believes in wild conspiracies. He should not be confirmed to run the ATF," tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

A separate USA Today/Ipsos poll found that three-quarters of Americans support tougher gun control legislation, though, among Republicans, that figure drops to just 12 percent — a decline of 20 percentage points from Republicans' stance on the issue in similar surveys back in 2019.

Ipsos President Cliff Young told USA Today, "This is much more about a shift in the Republican base, and their leadership, than about the issue itself."

"In these highly tribalized times, cues from leadership become especially important in how the public forms their stance around issues," he added. "The partisan cuing around gun reforms has changed among Republican leadership, and the Republican base has followed suit."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundatio

In Darkest Arkansas, Zealots Cruelly Overrule A Conservative Governor

How can somebody like me possibly live in darkest Arkansas, well-meaning correspondents sometimes want to know. And when the state legislature is in session, I do sometimes wonder. All I can say is that I'm glad Arkansas is a state, not a country. Because I'm stuck on the place, mostly for personal reasons having nothing to do with politics.

"Thank God for Mississippi," people here used to say, on the grounds that our neighbor to the east had an even more embarrassing history.

Of course if Arkansas legislators didn't have the federal courts to hide behind, they might be forced to act like adults instead of staging a spectacle for the backwoods churches. Because that's all it is: a political puppet show. It's the fundamental unseriousness of right-wing culture war posturing that astonishes: taking militant stands against imaginary threats and passing laws that have no chance of passing constitutional muster.

And it's happening all over the South and rural Midwest. Anywhere white rural voters predominate, it's the same story.

The Arkansas legislature has outdone itself this year, prompting even mild-mannered Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto a particularly mean-spirited piece of legislation forbidding medical treatment to transgendered adolescents—and never mind their doctors and parents. "The Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act," they call it.

Hutchinson's no liberal. For example, he'd previously signed a bill forbidding transgendered girls from competing in girl's high school sports—a situation that has arisen in the state exactly never. Right-wing imagineers envision a mortal threat to women's athletics everywhere.

Meanwhile, the University of Arkansas fields nationally-ranked teams in women's basketball, softball, and other sports. World class identical twin pole vaulters recently graduated from the Fayetteville campus and began pharmacy school while continuing to train—a veritable wonder to behold.

But that's mere reality, of little interest to zealots.

The governor also signed a law allowing health care professionals to refuse treatment to any patient whose real or suspected sexual proclivities they disapprove of. Something else that is going to happen rarely, if ever, in real life. Arkansas doctors do subscribe to the Hippocratic Oath.

Gov. Hutchinson called the bill forbidding treatment to transgendered youth both cruel and unnecessary. Possibly he has a close friend or relative with a child of ambiguous gender. That's often all it takes to make people act decently. He told a reporter for the New York Times that fellow Republicans too often acted "out of fear of what could happen, or what our imagination says might happen, versus something that's real and tangible."

Yes, exactly.

Hutchinson's was a futile political gesture. Arkansas governors have no real veto power. It requires only a majority vote to overturn them, which the legislature did within 24 hours by three to one. The Arkansas ACLU has vowed to challenge the law in federal court. (The bill also says that insurance companies can refuse to cover such treatments in adult patients.)

Elsewhere, it's been one bill after another aimed directly at federal courts. In March, Arkansas passed a near-total abortion ban. Gov. Hutchinson told reporters he'd have preferred a law that made exceptions for rape and incest, which the new law doesn't. Nor for fetal anomalies.

In short, if a 14 year old girl is impregnated by her drunk uncle (insert hillbilly joke here) she must carry even a gravely deformed fetus to term regardless. The penalty is ten years in prison.

Appearing with CNN's Dana Bash on State of the Union, Hutchinson admitted that the new law "is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now. I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade…I think there's a very narrow chance that the Supreme Court will accept that case, but we'll see."

Elsewhere, Arkansas legislators have declared all federal gun laws null and void within the state, a direct challenge to the Constitution's Supremacy Clause that is absolutely certain to fail. Serious gun nuts don't care. They don't expect to win. They just want their collective amygdala massaged—the fight or flight organ buried deep in the limbic brain.

Pretty much the reason they're gun nuts to begin with.

Which is closely-related to the reason the legislature brought Biblical Creationism back, mandating a law permitting fundamentalist theology to be taught in public school science classes. This one I take personally, as I covered the 1981 trial in Little Rock federal court over the "Balanced Treatment of Creation-Science and Evolution Science Act" when eminent scientists like Stephen Jay Gould convinced federal judge William Overton that the Arkansas law represented an unconstitutional "establishment of religion."

Same as it ever was.

Look, it's pretty basic. A large proportion of America's rural, white folks lost it over Barack Obama, and they ain't come back yet. They thought Trump was going to return America to 1954, but now he's gone and they're still hiding out in the woods.

In Florida, Lawmakers Fight To Kill ‘Gun-Free’ Zones

Florida lawmakers convene this week in Tallahassee, an event traditionally kicked off by a barrage of wacko gun legislation.

This year, some of it actually stands a chance of passing.

The worst by far is a bill filed in both the House and Senate that would eliminate all “gun-free” zones in the state. If passed, persons with concealed-weapons permits would be able to carry firearms to pro sports events, bars, police stations, K-12 public schools, public colleges and universities, courthouses, polling places, government meetings, seaports, and airport passenger terminals.

To single out just one of the many pathways to random bloodshed, Republican lawmakers seem determined to make handguns accessible wherever mass quantities of alcohol are being consumed.

What would normally be a sloppy fistfight in the stands at a Dolphins game could literally be a .45-caliber shootout next season. And if you think campus keg parties aren’t lively enough, throw a couple of loaded Glocks into the mix.

Polls show widespread opposition to abolishing gun-free zones, a view shared by college officials, business leaders, and many in law enforcement.

But the politicians pushing for more firearms in public are serving a higher master: the NRA.

Its unabashed darling in the Senate is mild-mannered Dennis Baxley, who is, fittingly, an undertaker by trade. His Ocala funeral parlor could see an uptick in business if guns are allowed in bars.

On the House side, Speaker Richard Corcoran insists criminals and mass shooters are attracted to gun-free zones because they know civilians there won’t be armed. Lawmakers say the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando and the shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport might have been prevented if the victims had been carrying weapons.

This Charles Bronson fantasy is avidly promoted by the NRA. It relies on the false premise that anyone with a concealed-weapons permit is both calm enough and skilled enough to fire a handgun in crowded mayhem and actually hit the right person.

The airport mass shooting, committed by an unhinged legal gun owner, took less than 90 seconds. The victims, some on their way to meet a cruise ship, had just gotten off a Delta flight.

Even if any of them had brought a weapon, it would have been packed inside their checked luggage, as was the shooter’s semiautomatic Walther. The killing was over before many of the bags landed on the carousel.

So much for the Bronson scenario.

It took an army of cops to bring down the Pulse shooter (another licensed gun owner), yet we’re supposed to believe he could have been taken out by a single armed club patron, pointing a handgun in dimly lit clamor at a fast-moving assailant firing an assault rifle.

Well, maybe in the movies.

NRA-backed lawmakers won key committee assignments in the new Legislature, which means that several of this session’s bad gun laws have a better-than-usual chance of passing.

One such bill, opposed by prosecutors, makes it easier for shooters to claim a Stand Your Ground defense. It resurfaces now, as a retired Tampa police captain is on trial for fatally shooting a man during a confrontation in a movie theater.

The victim was armed with a bag of popcorn and a cell phone.

Even if the state’s gun-free zones are abolished, companies and private business owners can’t legally be required to allow customers with weapons on their property. Never fear — one GOP senator has a devious compliance tactic.

Sen. Greg Steube of Bradenton, a favorite pet of the NRA, has filed a bill aimed to punish the many retailers, restaurants, nightclubs, theme parks, movie theaters and other businesses that prohibit firearms. Among the big names potentially affected would be Disney, Costco, and Whole Foods.

Steube’s measure would allow anyone holding a concealed-weapons permit to sue a gun-banning establishment if he or she gets shot, or otherwise assaulted, on the premises. The legal claim would be that they could have protected themselves had they been armed.

It’s a tort lawyer’s dream. If your drunken stepbrother sneaks a stolen pistol into a bar and shoots you in the ass, you get to sue the bar because you were deprived of the chance to shoot him first.

That scenario fits Will Ferrell better than Charles Bronson, but it’s closer to reality than the NRA can ever admit.

Texas Professors Ask U.S. Court To Ban Guns In Their Classrooms

Three University of Texas professors asked a U.S. judge on Thursday to give them the option of barring students from bringing guns into their classroom after the state gave some students that right under a law then went into effect this week.

The professors said academic freedom could be chilled under the so-called campus carry law backed by the state’s Republican political leaders that allows concealed handgun license holders 21 and over to bring handguns into classrooms and other university facilities.

“They don’t fear, they know that the presence of guns in their classrooms… would squelch (academic) discussions,” Renea Hicks, a lawyer for the professors told U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel.

The lawsuit is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt guns in the classrooms of professors Jennifer Lynn Glass, Lisa Moore and Mia Carter ahead of the start of classes later this month.

Anna Mackin, an attorney for the university, told the judge that if the professors banned guns in their classroom, they would be violating state law, and could be disciplined or terminated.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican and a defendant in the suit, filed papers to halt the injunction, calling the professors‘ case a “frivolous lawsuit.”

“There is no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas,” Paxton said in a statement this week.

Lawyers for the professors said they expect a decision before Aug. 24.

The professors argue they discus emotionally laden subjects such as reproductive rights, and it would be inevitable for them to alter their classroom presentations because of potential gun violence.

The law took effect on Aug. 1 as the University of Texas held a memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the deadliest U.S. gun incidents on a college campus.

On Aug. 1 1966, student Charles Whitman killed 16 people in a rampage, firing from a perch atop the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s flagship public university.

Republican lawmakers said campus carry could help prevent a mass shooting.

University of Texas professors lobbied unsuccessfully to prevent the campus carry law, arguing the combination of youth, firearms and college life could make for a deadly situation.

Eight states have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state laws.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Photo: Derek Key via Flickr