Tag Archives: firearms

Photo of the Week – May 1, 2020

This week a number of people protesting the state of Michigan’s shutdown in the midst of the COVID-19 stormed the state capital in Lansing demanding that Governor Gretchen Whitmer rescind the quarantine orders and allow anyone to return to work and shopping if they want.  In other words, they don’t like that a global pandemic has usurped their presumed placement as the center of the universe.  Many of the protesters arrived with guns and rifles; some wearing Nazi swastikas and others adorned in Confederate regalia (those morons keep fighting the 19th century American Civil War and damn!  They still haven’t won!)

A few stood in front of law enforcement officials – the latter wearing face masks – and screamed profanities.  This photo is just image of the virulent mad (mostly White) men unleashing their vitriol.  Faux-President Trump has expressed support for them.

I keep thinking if a group of Black or Latino residents had shown up in the Michigan state capital building with firearms protesting something, how long would they last?

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Truth Amid the Obstruction


No time is right for a health pandemic, but COVID-19 couldn’t have arisen at a more inconvenient period for Americans: at the start of the 2020 presidential election race.  Things had been proceeding somewhat normally until March, when concerns about the “novel coronavirus” began altering the social landscape.  When I saw that this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo had been postponed – possibly to next year – I knew our world had been capsized by this invisible biological menace.  Viruses, like facts, always have a way of sneaking into our lives and making us rethink everything we’ve ever learned.  Facts, however, are good things.  But, while a crisis of any kind can bring out the best humanity has to offer, it can also bring out the worst.

Right now political conservatives in the U.S. are trying to finagle the COVID-19 miasma into an obstructionist nightmare for the voting populace.  Last week thousands of voters in Wisconsin were forced to leave their homes and venture out to designated polling places to cast their votes for a candidate in the Democratic primary.  On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to allow an extension of absentee voting in Wisconsin; thus, forcing the primary to go on as planned on April 7.  On April 2, a federal judge had ruled that absentee voting can be extended.  But unsurprisingly, the Republican National Committee appealed the ruling, which landed on the docket of the High Court.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that “the court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.”  She went on: “Because gathering at the polling place now poses dire health risks, an unprecedented number of Wisconsin voters – at the encouragement of public officials – have turned to voting absentee.  About one million more voters have requested absentee ballots in this election than in 2016.  Accommodating the surge of absentee ballot requests has heavily burdened election officials, resulting in a severe backlog of ballots requested but not promptly mailed to voters.”

Political conservatives don’t like it when people they consider insignificant actually have the audacity to practice their right to vote.  For a good part of American history, they’ve done just about everything they could – including intimidation and violence – to stifle voting rights; which, they’ve obviously forgotten, is one of the fundamentals of a democratic society.  The right to vote is clearly mentioned in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution!  Then again, they may not necessarily forget about it, as they just ignore it.  And they always seem to skip over to focus attention on the 2nd Amendment, which addresses firearms.

Conservatives established and enforced such obstructionist tactics as “grandfather clauses”, literacy tests, and poll taxes.  Voting advocates had to fight for confidential voting.  Early feminists had to do the same to get the 19th Amendment ratified.  When President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, he conceded that he and his fellow Democrats had probably handed the South to the Republican Party.  And he was right!  Slowly, but surely, over the ensuing decade, many White southerners began switching to the GOP.  A number of well-known U.S. politicians, such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, also changed their allegiances to the Republican Party.

The election of Barack Obama solidified in the minds of many conservatives the horrors of expanded voting.  They then launched a number of efforts – both at the national and state levels – to ensure that would never happen again.  A slew of voter identification rules were suddenly enacted.

The COVID-19 scourge has prompted calls across the nation for expanded absentee voting, such as mail-ins, which has been rebuffed by conservatives who holler voter fraud could result.  This week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that fear of catching the virus does not qualify voters to vote by mail

But State Judge Tim Sulak ruled that Texans afraid of catching COVID-19 should be allowed to vote by mail during the pandemic, using the state’s disability clause in the state’s election code, and said he will issue a temporary injunction.  The Texas Democratic Party and several had filed a lawsuit over concerns that voters in this July’s elections, including the primary runoffs, could come in contact with infected people when voting in person.

“Based on the plain language of the relevant statutory text, fear of contracting COVID-19 unaccompanied by a qualifying sickness or physical condition does not constitute a disability under the Election Code,” Deputy Attorney General Ryan M. Vassar wrote in a letter to Fort Worth State Rep. Stephanie Klick, a fellow Republican.

And, of course, Paxton was “disappointed” that Sulak had “ignored the plain text of the Texas election code to allow perfectly healthy voters to take advantage of special protections made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities.”

The voter fraud claim is the default mantra of right-wing politicians every time they enact legislation that impacts the voting process.  Texas Republicans have long opposed the expansion of mail-in voting.  In 2017 the GOP-dominated state legislature stiffened penalties for election fraud.

“Our state is better off when more Texans participate in our democracy,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party.  “Voting by mail is safe, secure and accessible.  It allows more voters to participate in our democracy, and it’s a common sense way to run an election, especially during a public health crisis.”

Like the Texas Innocence Project, you know the Texas Democratic Party has their work cut out for them!

Currently, residents over age 65, military members, those who will be away from their residence during voting and people with disabilities can request mail-in ballots.  Democrats argue that a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring voters’ health,” covers all Texas voters under the age of 65, including those who are afraid to catch the COVID-19 virus.

In his letter to Klick, Vassar naturally disagreed, stating that fears of catching the virus is neither a sickness nor a physical condition, but an emotional reaction to the pandemic is not “sufficient to meet the definition of disability”.

It’s ironic that Vassar regards concerns of contracting COVID-19 as emotional.  Throughout Obama’s presidency, conservatives screamed that his administration would ban all firearms, abandon Israel, and force churches to conduct same-sex weddings.  None of that happened.  It never has and most likely it never will.  Yet, liberals are always justifiably concerned that voter suppression is a real possibility when conservatives are elected to office.  Justifiably concerned because many state legislatures, such as Texas, actually have moved to enact legislation to combat the ubiquitous pandemic of voter fraud.

During Black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, news cameras captured horrific scenes of police physically assaulting individuals or using water hoses to attack groups of African-Americans.  I’ve seen some of that footage – startling black-and-white images of mostly peaceful citizens wanting to vote or be able to enter a restaurant and have a meal.  We don’t see that now.  Instead, we see elected officials use the power of their position to suppress voting.  Firearms have metamorphosed into pens – but they pose no less of a risk.

While I have my own doubts about the effectiveness of the voting process – the fraud-ridden elections of George W. Bush and Donald Trump being the most recent examples – people in any truly democratic society have the right to cast a ballot.  And eventually, the obstructionist tactics of those elected (not ordained) politicians will reveal the truth behind their dubious motives.

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Worst Quote of the Week – September 6, 2019

“I am NOT going to use the evil acts of a handful of people to diminish the God-given rights of my fellow Texans.  Period.  None of these so-called gun-control solutions will work to stop a person with evil intent. I say NO to ‘red flag’ pre-crime laws.  NO to universal background checks.  NO to bans on AR-15s, or high capacity magazines.  NO to mandatory gun buybacks.”

Texas State Congressman Matt Schaefer, in the aftermath of a shooting spree in Odessa, Texas August 31

There is no reference to any types of firearms in any known version of religious texts.  After the invention of gunpowder in China in the 9th century C.E., the earliest documented firearm is the Chinese Heilongjiang hand cannon, which appeared around the end of the 13th century C.E.

Surviving example of a Chinese Heilongjiang hand cannon

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Best Quote of the Week – September 6, 2019

“As it relates to safety in our stores, there have been multiple incidents since El Paso where individuals attempting to make a statement and test our response have entered our stores carrying weapons in a way that frightened or concerned our associates and customers. We have also had well-intentioned customers acting lawfully that have inadvertently caused a store to be evacuated and local law enforcement to be called to respond. These incidents are concerning and we would like to avoid them, so we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer openly carry firearms into our stores or Sam’s Clubs in states where “open carry” is permitted – unless they are authorized law enforcement officers.”

Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, on the company’s decision to stop selling certain types of ammunition and firearms and asking customers not to bring weapons into their stores .

The statement is part of a larger memo issued recently company employees.

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Colored Bullets

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Courtesy of singer / songwriter / music producer Phonte.

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Gun ≠ Manhood

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Recently Bushmaster, the gun manufacturer, released an advertisement aimed directly at its male patrons; challenging them to reclaim their “man card.”  The online ad linked to a “test” where questions would help determine if a man is a real man.  Some are silly: ‘Do you eat tofu?’  Others are practical: ‘Can you change a tire?’  For the record, my answers are ‘no’ and ‘yes,’ respectively.  The test apparently has been removed, but this debate is coming up again in light of the Connecticut school shootings last Friday.

The connection between Bushmaster and the massacre of 28 people in that grade school is more than just a little unsettling.  Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old shooter, used a .223 assault rifle – the same kind displayed in Bushmaster’s advertisement.  In this gun-loving society, some men – and women – still equate firearms with masculinity.  A gun or rifle, after all, has a strangely-phallic shape (which may or may not be by design) and bullets could easily be mistaken for testicles or even sperm cells.

This whole thing is similar to the ongoing myth that a boy becomes a man when he has sex with a woman.  Apparently, the hyper-macho crowd didn’t that out too well, since it assumes that adult females are the harbingers of masculinity; that the secret ingredient to true male adulthood is somehow ensconced within a woman’s vaginal walls.  But, as the proud owner of a penis, I never felt a woman held the ‘Holy Grail’ to my manhood.  And, neither does Bushmaster.  Despite its phallic resemblance, a firearm just can’t substitute for a penis, or more importantly, a man’s true sense of self worth.

I’ve known plenty of real men in my life, including my father and uncles.  They, along with several male friends, know how to shoot a firearm; a few own actually a gun or two.  That’s fine.  People have that constitutional right, just like they have the right to free speech, which I feel is more important.  But, none of those men I know has the overwhelming need to shoot a gun and kill people to prove their masculinity.  Boys become men when they learn to accept personal responsibility for their actions; when they learn to take care of themselves; when they show respect for others, while maintaining their dignity; when they care for their families and their communities; when they stand up for those who truly can’t stand up for themselves.  These are real men I know: fathers and husbands; hard workers; tax-payers – men who have built good lives for their families.  A real man knows how to set the table and do laundry, as well as change a flat tire.  A real man spends time playing tea party with his young daughter, or coaching his son’s little league soccer team, not out shooting deer and moose.

These men don’t need a gun manufacturer to issue them a “man card.”  They earned their “man cards” themselves – not from some stupid test asking about tofu and staring down fifth-graders.  They’re the silent majority.  They’re the real men of this world.

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