Tom Diaz

Posts Tagged ‘Dianne Feinstein’

Stop Blaming the NRA

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Ethics in Washington, Guns, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Terrorism and counter-terrorism, The Great Stupid, Tired Old Republicans on April 19, 2013 at 9:07 pm
Austerlitz-baron-Pascal

Napoleon at Austerlitz

Debate has raged for two centuries about whether Napoleon Bonaparte was a self-serving egomaniac, or a supremely confident leader driven by concern for the rights of the common person.

There is universal agreement, however, that–when he was on his game–he was a brilliant strategist and a tactical genius. He chose when and where to fight, picking the ground and the time with care. He had an uncanny ability to recall in minute detail aspects of the terrain. His personal courage was unquestioned.

The textbook example is the battle of Austerlitz, fought in what is now the Czech Republic on December 2, 1805. Like all brilliant commanders, Napoleon imagined the winning fight plan. Then he stuck to it with iron nerve and cold will, even when his subordinates lost some of their will. He thrashed a larger, better-trained, better-armed coalition of forces.

There will be no such debate about the claque of professional politicians and hangers-on who now run the Democratic Party. The latest gun control debacle has proven beyond argument that these hollow men are shallow, self-serving, and unfit for battle on behalf of innocent children and other living things. They are fit only to swell a crowd at a lobbyist fund-raising reception, or fill out a scene at a mawkish media event…little more.

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“There Will Be Effective ‘Gun Safety’ Legislation in Our Time…Or Some Time. Maybe.” The Wisdom of the Third Way.

The only strategy they have imagined for two decades is appeasement and preemptive surrender. Like Oliver Twist, they hold up their contemptible little bowls and beg of the NRA and its right-wing allies, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

They have never, ever, not once, gotten more.

The saddest part of this ignominious disaster, this sadly inevitable thumping, is that everybody in professional political Washington wins. Only the rest of America–you, and I, and our children, and our children’s children–loses.

Harry Reid got to make a noble speech after decades–decades–of sabotaging serious gun control at the altar of the NRA and his own reelection. Pundits fawned over his “act of courage,” as if the man were only just born yesterday and had no record of perverse obstructionism.

Reid’s heir apparent, Chuck Schumer, played both ends against the middle, as is his canny wont. He avoided antagonizing the Senate’s “NRA Democrats,” yet got plenty of photo ops at weepy media events. So he’ll still get to be Senate Majority Leader.

Pat (“Brick”) Leahy got to muddle around in his peculiarly thick-witted and uninspiring public manner without doing much of anything to fulfill his public trust.

The list could and perhaps should go on.

There’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, who now professes to embrace gun control after years of cutting the throat of any Democrat–including the Attorney General of the United States–who dared raise the subject. Emanuel did as much as Wayne LaPierre to destroy the gun control movement. And Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose canonization is imminent after funding some puzzlingly bland Super Bowl commercials. Bloomberg showed up like a rich amateur in a pool hall. He had a million dollar suit and a wad of cash, and a slogan about so-called “illegal guns.”  But Bloomberg never really understood the game and he still doesn’t. So he got snookered.

“Leaders” (cf., Nancy Pelosi) in the House will get a pass because the Senate’s fumbles saved them the awful embarrassment of having to actually try to do something themselves. Whew!

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Senator Dianne Feinstein–The Only Living Profile in Courage in the United States Senate

The NRA will be roundly—and rightfully—blamed for masterminding the smoking field of shame that was the floor of the United States Senate when dusk fell on April 17, 2013. People who used to call themselves gun control advocates—but now prefer wimpier terms like “gun violence reduction advocate,” or even “gun health advocate”—are waving their rhetorical pitchforks at the senators who voted with the NRA, promising to exact vengeance. Perhaps they shall. Much remains to be seen. At the very least, they all got some nice meetings at the White House and on the Hill to put in their scrapbooks.

I say, stop blaming the NRA.

Start blaming your own leadership, the men and women who squandered, threw away, let slip out of their hands, the last, best opportunity to truly save lives that America is likely to see for a generation.

In military terms, the bumbling field marshals of “gun safety” chose to use their puniest weapon—the vanilla-lilac-scented, impenetrable bureaucratic doubletalk of “improved” background checks—and positioned themselves in a rhetorical swamp with a river to their back. Plan B did not exist.

The operatives of this army of incompetents actually set out to aggressively sabotage any talk of such dangerous things as assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in the inner councils of Washington Wisdom. Oh, no, you see, we can “respect gun rights” and find “common ground,” and that kind of talk … well, it just makes trouble in Happy Valley. Let our generals make parley with their generals in secret meetings. Like mommy and daddy, they know what to do. The polls will tell them.

Even had the NRA uncharacteristically ceded the field and allowed the pathetic Manchin-Toomey (and maybe -Schumer, who showed up at the press conference anyway) “compromise” (a weak compromise grafted onto on a weak compromise inscribed on a fig leaf) to pass, this scrivener’s curlicue on the arcane texts of the law would have had negligible effect on the blistering hurricane of gun violence that is America today.  Negligible, in spite of all the hype with which “gun health groups” have hypnotized not only themselves but also many of the outraged mothers and fathers who trust the “experts” to know what to do.

It’s the guns, stupid!

The Machin-Toomey-Maybe Schumer-Pabulum would have no effect whatever on the guns.  Nor would it have any effect whatsoever on the next Adam Lanza, who—mark my words—is out there right now and has, or will legally obtain, and would legally have obtained under Machin-Toomey-Maybe Schumer, his mass murder machine.

What would I have done, you may ask?

Well, I sketched out my ideas in an earlier post, here. Pick the high ground of the real world of American gun violence—the ruthless, greedy gun industry and its cynical mass-marketing of killing machines that have no place in a sane society–on which to do battle. Field a juggernaut of a bill, with the assault weapons and high-capacity magazine ban for starters, truly universal background check and waiting periods for enders, and a Draconian bed of tough regulation for the death merchants in between.

Starting with that proposal, I would have made the NRA and its minions fight their way up a long and difficult hill in the blazing sunlight, punctuated with hearing after hearing after hearing, evidential artillery pounding away at them with every step, its ammunition the bloody, sickening, graphic facts of what the industry and its products have done and are doing to our country.  Fact-based images abound that are a million times more persuasive and inspiring than the brief-cases full of opinion polls favoring obscure “background check” language that the Third Way and other geniuses tote around to persuade the professional politicians they can do good without doing anything too dangerous to their careers.

Yes, I favor war on the Napoleonic model. 

But “wiser” heads—the defeatists and appeasers of the Third Way and its ilk—prevailed, as they almost always do in Washington these days. The Senate leadership had, and no doubt still does not have, the stomach for a real fight. Heavens, it might cost them an election! The darling of this pusillanimously passive path, Chuck Schumer, smugly–smugly–called background checks the “sweet spot” of the legislative path. As if saving the lives of children were a baseball game.

Really? The “sweet spot?”  How droll. What a clever sound-bite! The media loved it!

Schumer's Bird

A Man Who Knows a “Sweet Spot” When He Sees … Or Holds …One.

The strategists of defeat will slink away now and point their nubbins’ fingers at the NRA and its herd of like-minded Senators, leaders for whom it must be said at least they stand up and fight for what they believe in.

But what do the denizens of the infamous “Third Way” believe in? The latest poll results. Nothing greater, or more noble, or more inspiring. Mere politics.

Because of decades of this flawed, cowardly and self-serving, merely political, arguably immoral, and certainly not moral strategy, more Americans will inevitably die preventable gun deaths, more terrorists and more criminals will easily get military-style guns, and the fabric of our society will be further rent by random gun violence from people who could pass any background check the minds of men like Michael Bloomberg or the Third Way’s operative Jim Kessler could ever dream up.

To those who are so deeply pained by this defeat, I say this.

Call your enemies to account, yes.  But hold to an even higher standard your supposed “friends.”

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Never Forget Them

Feinstein Assault Weapon Bill: Is It a Little Bit Pregnant?

In bad manners, Bushmaster assault rifle, Ethics in Washington, Guns, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION, politics, Running Fire Fight, Semiautomatic assault rifles, Tired Old Republicans on January 23, 2013 at 3:23 am

473px-Dianne_Feinstein,_official_Senate_photo_2

George Bernard Shaw: Madam, would you sleep with me for a million pounds?

Actress: My goodness, Well, I’d certainly think about it

Shaw: Would you sleep with me for a pound?

Actress: Certainly not! What kind of woman do you think I am?!

Shaw: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

(This exchange is also attributed to Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx, and Mark Twain. Take your pick.  They are all good.)

In a perfect world, the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” being circulated on the Hill by Senator Dianne Feinstein would be … well, perfect.

One problem.  This is not a perfect world.

It is certainly not a perfect world in the comfortable little set of nesting boxes that defines politics as usual on Capitol Hill — tired old convention, horse-trading, and selling out are the currency of the realm.

Is Feinstein’s bill a “sellout?”  Thinking…thinking.  Well, it depends on whether you believe in the concept of being only a little bit pregnant.

At first blush (and pending further analysis) the late draft of the Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013 I have seen is a case of something “progressive” politicians have proven themselves masters of time and again, namely, preemptive surrender.

no pasaran2

“No pasaran!”–they shall not pass.

Sure, the NRA will scream and shout, “they shall not pass!”  But if Wayne LaPierre is on his meds, he’s going to love this start. His lobbyist surgeons will get busy slicing, slicing away at the weak points in this bill until they give it a complete radical orchiectomy.

The “pro-gun regulation” (aka, the “gun safety,” the “gun violence prevention,” the “nubbins,” anything but the “gun control”) side has started out by giving away half its best cards.

If you’re a betting person, put the mortgage down on the square that reads “another NRA victory.”

Here is what the draft has given away out of the blocks:

What the law taketh, the law giveth back: The draft I have seen “grandfathers” in all assault weapons legally owned as of the date of enactment. This was one of the major defects of the 1994 “ban.”

Here is the operative text from the bill:

SEC. 3. RESTRICTIONS ON ASSAULT WEAPONS AND LARGE CAPACITY AMMUNITION FEEDING DEVICES.

(a) In General.—Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended— (1) by inserting after subsection (u) the following:

“(v)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a semiautomatic assault weapon.

“(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the possession, sale, or transfer of any semiautomatic assault weapon otherwise lawfully possessed under Federal law on the date of enactment of the Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013.

“(w)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

“(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the possession of any large capacity ammunition feeding device otherwise lawfully possessed on or before the date of enactment of the Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013.

But…wait: the law proposes also to bring these guns under the National Firearms Act.  So, isn’t that good…or good enough?  Close enough for nubbin work?   Bringing the guns under the NFA would indeed require a more extensive background check than the Brady Law and registration in a central registry. Here is what the summary describes:

Requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act, to include:

  • Background check of owner and any transferee
  • Type and serial number of the firearm
  • Positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint
  • Certification from local law enforcement of identity and that possession would not violate State or local law
  • Dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration

Well, gosheroonee, that sounds good.  (And I have written before that this could be one of a number of good ways to deal with the existing stock of assault weapons.)

But why would you go directly to this option instead of insisting on an outright ban, which is actually the best option from the point of view of public health and safety?

Why would you not make the other side come to you for a concession?

No pasaran…

Okay, let’s say Senator Feinstein is trying to be “reasonable” (in a Third Way kind of way) and reassure gun owners that no one is going to take their guns away.  This is exactly what the summary (full text of the summary at the bottom of this post) implies:

Protects legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by:

  • Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment
  • Exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes and
  • Exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons

None dare call this pandering.

[Cue, off-stage, left: Here is where a “gun safety” nubbin stands up and dutifully says, “We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  Check that.]

Prowler-Trap

That ATF funding? Piece of cake. Boehner signed off on that.

But this bill precisely hinges on a perfect legislative outcome on its solution to the grandfathering issue.  Not just a good outcome.  A perfect outcome.  A carrier landing in a freezing rain.

The “solution” of requiring that all these existing assault weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act depends on their being “dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration.”   In other words, somewhere, someone, somehow, is going to have to come up with the m-o-n-e-y, the funding to make this huge task of registration work.

Hmm…what could go wrong? The House of Representatives is going to drop its bitterly partisan fiscal trench warfare and throw a whole bunch of money at ATF? Call me cynical, but I tend to doubt that.

Why would you not ask for a total ban and then use agreement on funding as a bargaining chip to fall back to NFA registration?

Private law enforcement sales.  If this provision creates an exemption for private sales to individual cops, it just a bad, bad idea.

4) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to—
“(A) the importation for, manufacture for, sale to, transfer to, or possession by the United States or a department or agency of the United States or a State or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State, or a sale or transfer to or possession by a qualified law enforcement officer employed by the United States or a department or agency of the United States or a State or a department, agency, or political subdivision of a State for purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off duty);

That would assume that law enforcement officers are generically and genetically eradicable “good guys.”

On that count, please check (for a start) “Las Vegas police officer kills wife, son, himself,”
http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/01/22/284974/las-vegas-officer-kills-family-himself/.

This is all hot off the samizdat press and requires further analysis.  More to come after a closer read.

Here is the summary sizzling fresh out of Feinstein’s office:

Summary of Feinstein Assault Weapons Regulatory Act of 2013

Bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of:

  • Approximately 150 specifically-named firearms
  • Certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, and shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one military characteristic
  • Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds
  • Semiautomatic rifles that are shorter than 30 inches in length

Strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and state bans by:

  • Moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test
  • Eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test
  • Banning firearms with “thumbhole stocks” and “bullet buttons” to address attempts to “work around” prior bans
  • Adding a ban on the importation of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines
  • Eliminating the 10-year sunset that allowed the original ban to expire

Bans large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.

Protects legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by:

  • Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment
  • Exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes and
  • Exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons

Requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act, to include:

  • Background check of owner and any transferee
  • Type and serial number of the firearm
  • Positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint
  • Certification from local law enforcement of identity and that possession would not violate State or local law
  • Dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration

Bans the transfer of grandfathered large-capacity ammunition feeding devices

 Allows states and localities to use Byrne JAG funds to conduct a voluntary buy-back program for grandfathered assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices

Imposes a safe storage requirement for grandfathered firearms

Requires that assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices manufactured after the date of the bill’s enactment be engraved with the serial number and date of manufacture of the weapon

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