Monday, September 29, 2008

The Ayes and the Noes of "Second Amendment Enforcement Act" House Vote

NECPGV would like to give a big HURRAH to all those members of Congress who had the courage and the fortitude to vote NO on the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act", a bill to override D.C.'s gun laws. In this election year all too many members of the House are kowtowing to the gun lobby and voting to protect guns instead of voting to protect the health and safety of the public.

We wish to thank all the House members from Southern New England who stood up to the NRA. Our deepest appreciation goes to Representatives Larson, Courtney, DeLauro, Shays and Murphy from Connecticut; Representatives Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tsongas, Tierney, Markey, Capuano, Lynch and Delahunt from Massachusetts; and Representatives Kennedy and Langevin from Rhode Island.

It is unfortunate that we must give a big RASPBERRY to all the House members from Northern New England. None of them had the courage to say no to the NRA. NECPGV sent the following letter to Representatives Allen and Michaud from Maine; Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter from New Hampshire; and Representative Welch from Vermont:

Dear Representative ,

It is incredibly distressing to note your recent vote in favor of the National Rifle Association's latest sham the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act." Not only did you vote to override the democratic rights of the residents of the District of Columbia you voted to ignore the concerns of the District Police Department. This dangerous and irresponsible bill will gut D.C.'s gun laws, repeal the District's handgun registration process, destroy safe storage requirements, and legalize high-capacity assault weapons. It will also infringe on the D.C. Council's ability to enact firearm regulations in the future.

It should be noted that your vote defies logic when considering that in April 2008 two polling firms, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and the Republican firm The Tarrance Group, conducted a national survey on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Some of the key findings of the survey include:

· Stopping gun violence is a top goal for most Americans. 71 percent believe that stopping gun violence is a "very important" goal.
· 60 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws. 33 percent think that gun laws should be kept the same and only 7 percent believe that they should actually be made less strict.
· 87 percent support requiring all gun sales be subject to a Brady background check.
· 70 percent support requiring every gun owner to register each gun they own as part of a national gun registry.

The result of this survey clearly demonstrates that many Americans overwhelmingly favor common sense gun laws. While many Americans also support the right to own a gun they see this as compatible with gun laws that target illegal guns and fight gun violence. This is, in fact, the essence of the recent Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.

The Heller decision clearly states that while the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense, the right is not unlimited. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, held that "like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." And while the court was split 5-4 on whether the right granted by the Second Amendment is tied to militia service, all nine Justices agreed that a wide variety of gun laws are presumptively lawful.

Next time you are faced with a key vote on the gun issue, please keep in mind that the majority of your constituents do not own a gun. The majority of your constituents favor stricter gun laws, including constituents who own a firearm. Despite this fact, you have disappointingly chosen to kowtow to the extreme wishes of the gun-pushers at the National Rifle Association. As one newspaper editorial put it: "This bill tramples on the district's right to govern itself and makes it harder for the police to protect streets traveled by local residents, government officials, diplomats and dignitaries. Voters also should remember this vote when their elected representatives piously declare their devotion to curbing the influence of rich lobbyists."

Who else supports the Second Amendment Enforcement Act? People on the Internet with tag lines that read: "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should be a store, not a government agency" and "I'm a Patriot, modern day Minute Man, and devout Enemy of the Left. There are way too many wasted bullets in this country. If you listen carefully you can hear the Angels sing and trumpets sound with each rebirth of another AK-47. Therefore I know I'm doing the Lord's work."

Hopefully, in the future, you will reclaim your courage by standing up to the gun lobby and vote to protect the safety and well-being of your constituents over guns.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Live Free or Die (Except if you live in Washington, D.C.) H.R. 6691 - A Bad Idea

I’ve always admired the New Hampshire motto Live Free or Die. It calls forth ideals of independence and self-government. Which begs the question, why are both of New Hampshire’s congressional representatives trying to strong arm and overrule the Washington, D.C. City Council? Don’t the residents of D.C. have democratic rights?

Both Congressman Paul Hodes and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter are cosponsors of H.R. 6691, a bill that would repeal D.C. gun laws, overturning provisions enacted by the District of Columbia City Council and endorsed by the residents of Washington, D.C. This bill is a shameless attempt by the gun lobby to interfere with local city rule and to push the NRA’s irresponsible and dangerous agenda. The D.C. Council does not need the NRA to draft their new gun regulations.

In June the Supreme Court overturned D.C.’s restrictive gun laws in the landmark decision D.C. v. Heller. While the Court ruled that the D.C. laws went too far in restricting access to handguns and that an individual right to bear arms is protected under the Second Amendment the court also ruled that this right is not absolute and that gun regulation is constitutional.

In response to this ruling and to bring the city into compliance with Heller, the D.C. Council passed an emergency resolution allowing the registration of handguns. They are currently working hard on crafting permanent gun legislation that will best provide for the public’s safety.

But the gun lobby is not satisfied with the D.C. Council’s efforts and is taking this opportunity to encourage Congress to meddle in local legislation. They are pushing hard for H.R. 6691, a bill that would not only repeal D.C.’s current gun regulations but also prevent the D.C. City Council from enacting any gun-related legislation in the future. It is an obscene attempt to prevent the residents of Washington, D.C. from governing themselves. How ironic that the only two congressional cosponsors from New England come from the state with the motto Live Free or Die.

H.R. 6691 has many dangerous provisions that go far beyond the requirements of the Heller ruling. H.R. 6691 would:

- Repeal D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic weapons, including assault weapons like the Tec-9 assault pistol and AK-47s.

- Allow D.C. residents to cross state lines to buy handguns in neighboring states. Current federal law bars gun dealers from selling handguns directly to out of state buyers because of the high risk this creates for interstate gun trafficking.

- Repeal D.C.’s registration requirements for firearms.

- Repeal D.C.’s safe storage laws.

- Prohibit D.C. from passing future gun regulations.

At a recent hearing on H.R. 6691 law enforcement officials testified that the bill would even permit people to carry loaded semi-automatic rifles such as AK-47s lawfully on the streets of D.C.

“Imagine how difficult it will be for law enforcement to safeguard the public, not to mention the president at the inaugural parade,” said Chief Cathy Lanier, chief of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has asked Congress to demonstrate their "commitment to the democratic process" by allowing the city government to work on its own to comply with the Heller decision.

So why are Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter so anxious to not only interfere with D.C. lawmakers but to enact legislation that will make it harder to protect residents and visitors of Washington, D.C.? Are they afraid that in this election year the NRA will work against them if they don’t cosponsor this legislation? Do they not understand the Heller ruling when it states “like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” How sad to see both New Hampshire representatives supporting this irresponsible and dangerous NRA agenda.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Man arrested for having gun at Obama rally

I just read a news article about a man who was arrested outside of a Barack Obama rally.  The man had come to the rally to pass out fliers on the right of Americans to carry guns.  The article didn’t say whether or not he was bitter and clinging, but he was carrying a bible and wearing a holster on his hip complete with a Glock handgun.

Before the rally he posted his intentions on the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association web site.  He said he wanted to test what would happen if he showed up at a rally for Obama openly wearing a gun.  Although he did admit that he probably would not “get within a mile of the rally” he nonetheless claimed his constitutional rights were violated when he was arrested.  

Say what?!?  A violation of his constitutional rights?  Seriously?!? 

In an effort to try and understand this thinking I went to the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association website.  I found a lively discussion of the incident in the “Concealed and Open Carry” group.

Support for this open carry bravado was overwhelming with little to no acknowledgement of the need to protect candidates, the threat posed by guns, or the history of political assassinations.  Instead the comments read:

 “you're fucking kidding me, right? tell me the rally was in a school or state park or something. seriously, i may not have had the balls to do what he did, but that's just me. some will say he did us a disservice by proving we're a bunch of gun toting bible thumping yahoos. that may be. but it doesn't excuse the fact that what he did, was in all likelihood, perfectly legal.”

 “The only crime committed was by local law enforcement. False arrest illegal search and seizure, and last but not least interrogating some one with out a lawyer present. This makes me sick and these assholes will not be held accountable for their actions, and that is the saddest part of it all.”

 “dont you wish things where how they used to be back in the old west when 90percent of the people were carrying incuding the politicians....”

 “In the founders time, this would have been considered an act of war. There is absolutely no question that the disgusting acts perpetrated by the officers involved are in direct violation of the Constitution. The Constitution does not get suspended for anyone, not even Obama. Period.”

 “I just don't know the words to express my outrage over this incident. An obvious violation of this mans rights.”

 “In the future, I think it would be a good idea to show up OC'ing (open carry)in numbers and organized... at least several dozens, if not hundreds... including our women and children in hand... guns, Bibles, and all... in order for a TRUE message to be sent.”

 “This is just a small taste of what will come if the Obama regime moves into Pennsylvania Ave.

But the comment that really stood out was the one that referred to the bystander, John Atkinson, who notified police that there was someone with a gun. 

 “I hope he successfully sues the shit out of those who arrested him, and OASN, I sincerely wish that John Atkinson has a long, dragged out, excruciatingly painful, bout with stomach and colon cancer, and dies without pain medication.”