More Guns, More Shootings

Another day, another mass shooting, this time at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.  Since the shooter turned his weapon on himself before police could arrest him we’ll likely never know just why.  He may have had a personal grudge against another player or just got pissed when he lost.

Of course, the gun nut lobbyists at the National Rifle Association wasted no time bringing out the “more guns in the room would have either deterred the shooter or allowed someone to bring him down” chestnut.  (Or maybe they just want to ban headsets in public.)  So I have to express my exasperation with people who believe that mass shooting tragedies can be prevented by creating an armed society and normalizing guns in public places. Continue reading

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Guns, the Second Amendment, and Politics in Virginia

It appears that guns and gun control could become a hot issue in next year’s state level elections here in Virginia.  Attorney General Mark Herring started the hue and cry when he ended concealed carry permit reciprocity with 25 states on the grounds that they don’t meet Virginia standards.  Gun rights activists objected one the grounds that it would hurt tourism and that no one can point out a case where someone from a state with lower standards had committed a crime in Virginia.  One blogger called it “slavery.”  They complained that Herring just wanted to go around the General Assembly to achieve a liberal result using an executive action.

This of course ignores the plain fact that Herring did nothing unilaterally. Virginia code – in a section passed by a Republican-controlled General Assembly – requires periodic State Police audits of concealed carry laws in other states. It then mandates an end to reciprocity with those states whose laws don’t include prohibitions Virginia’s law bans, or don’t have a system for rapid verification that an applicant should not be kept from carrying a concealed weapon.  Whether or not he liked the result, Herring had to take this action once the State Police reported that the laws in those 25 states don’t pass muster. Continue reading

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From Dog-Whistle to Open Racist Politics to…Stand Your Ground?

A Donald Trump supporter dragged a protester out of a rally in Miami today.  A large man in a red polo knocked Ariel Rojas, a senior at Florida International University and a pro-immigration activist, to the ground and dragged by force out of the room before walking back into the crowd with his arms raised.  Onlookers shouted “USA! USA!” rather than stopping the violence.

Many Trump supporters come from the same constituency that responded to Republican dog-whistle politics and the Southern Strategy (welfare queens, state’s rights). They like him because he says out loud what they believe – that immigrants come here to commit crimes while abusing the US social safety net.  Other conservative candidates dog-whistle this message with rhetoric about makers and takers and sanctuary cities.  Trump backers want it said more openly and clearly.

It’s not just immigrants and foreigners.  At a Mobile, Alabama rally supporters yelled “White Power” during Trump’s speech.   This of course does not make Trump himself a racist, though his campaign manager said of the incident “I know there were 30-plus thousand people in that stadium. They were very receptive to the message of ‘making America great again’ because they want to be proud to be Americans again.”  He also praised the “passion” of two men in Boston who responded to his message by beating and urinating on a homeless Hispanic man.  And in 1991 he said “Laziness is a trait in blacks.”

Now Trump’s goons – really can’t think of another word – have begun to violently suppress speech in opposition to their views.

I wonder how this would have turned out had Mr. Rojas been armed.  Under Florida’s “stand your ground” law he might have defended himself by shooting the man in the red polo without having to worry about prosecution.  Except for one thing: Mr. Rojas is not white, and his assailant was not black.

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