Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Telling it like it is - right wing extremist terrorists, the no-fly no-buy laws, and Hawaii's new gun control laws

It is a painful reality for conservatives that in their attempts to enlarge their political tent, they have thrown out the wrong people, the moderates, and embraced in their place and mainstreamed violent domestic terrorists, including racists and bigots and insane conspiracy theorists.

Conservatives have no legitimate objection when they whine about being characterized as extreme.  It is a fair criticism.

This includes the right wing militia terrorists; they are not only welcomed, they are given  space for recruiting tables at state level GOP conventions like the one held by the MN GOP.  Meanwhile the conservatives purge their moderates, as the MN GOP have done with our former governors Arne Carlson and Al Quie.

Militias, like the so-called "Oathkeepers" express anti-government sentiments, and act on those sentiments, as in the armed stand-off between Cliven Bundy and the federal government over unpaid grazing on public land.  Further, there is a fairly consistent, persistent pattern of these militias and sovereign citizen groups to accumulate large hordes of weapons and ammunition, both legal and illegal.

extremist paramilitary amateurs

Here is an example from 2007 of one of the smaller southern militias, during the conservative administration of George W. Bush, outlining their politics and their dangerous munitions cache:
Five men were jailed without bond on federal charges of conspiring to make a firearm after the raids, conducted early Thursday in four Alabama counties. They included Dillard; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20. A sixth alleged member, 30-year-old Michael Wayne Bobo, was charged with being a drug user in possession of a firearm.
...During the raid, agents recovered 130 hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun, 2,500 rounds of ammunition, explosives components, stolen fireworks and other items.
U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said the fireworks used to make the grenades were commercial grade, not the type sold in retail stores in Alabama. “Even to possess these fireworks without a license is a felony in Alabama,” she said.

...“They just have a beef with the government, and they stockpile munitions,” U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said at a news conference in Fort Payne.
Here is the 'reasoning' of these right wing crazy government haters:
That describes about a third of the country, lady. The 1st and 2nd Amendments, respectively, protect those freedoms. It’s only a crime if they plan to use those guns against their fellow citizens.
That story also notes that “Federal authorities said [Dillard] was a federal fugitive wanted in an ATF case out of Mobile from the mid-1990s.”
So you have a drug user who is prohibited from possessing firearms and other weapons like explosives, and you have a federal fugitive accumulating firearms including machine guns, and you have illegal possession of STOLEN commercial fireworks which are dangerous in the hands of the unlicensed and reasonably constitute a felony.... and we are supposed to believe there is no purpose in mind for stockpiling weapons and ammunition, it's just what? shiny?......and the rationale is that this is constitutionally protected?  NO.

Last I checked, it has always been consistent with the Constitution to regulate criminal activity like theft, weapons like machine guns and grenade launcher or hand grenades (including home-made).  There is no Constitutional protection under the 1st or 2nd Amendment giving this behavior legal cover.  These idiots are dangerous to themselves and to their communities, AND DANGEROUS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND TO ACTIVE LAW ENFORCEMENT.

Just having these items, illegally, removes them from any category of harmless or legitimate.  Informal  or 'private' militias or other para-military groups have no legal status or standing in the United States, under EITHER federal or state statutes.  The only militia that is legitimate is the National Guard, under the 1903 Militia Act.

You can expect particularly from the pro-gun right wingers howls of anger and frustration when the topic of the predominance of right wingers comprising domestic terrorists, particularly in the larger context of the no-fly / no-buy proposed legislation. 

It is common sense not to put lethal weapons in the hands of terrorists -- of any stripe, politically, and of any stripe, geographically, domestic or foreign.

I agree with the conservatives that we need a fair and transparent means of due process by law for anyone on the no-fly alleged terrorist list to get OFF that list.  Back in 2006 -- which if you are paying attention was during the Bush administration (conservative AND pro-gun), which also claimed that right wing domestic terrorists were a more serious threat than any other groups -- there was a successful law suit regarding the no-fly list, Gordon v. FBI, which resulted in the TSA creating an ombudsman role, and an identity verification process.

We don't  know how many people are on the No-Fly list or other suspected or known terrorist lists; but here is what we DO know:
In a 2010 report, the Government Accountability Office noted that "Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives under current federal law," and individuals on the No Fly List are not barred from purchasing guns. According to GAO data, between 2004 and 2010, people on terrorism watch lists—including the No Fly List as well as other separate lists—attempted to buy guns and explosives more than 1,400 times, and succeeded in 1,321 times (more than 90 percent of cases).

The radical righties would love to persuade their fellow Americans that they, and only the right, support due process and rule of law.  It is not true. From the same source, the ostensibly LIBERAL ACLU has objected to the No-Fly and other lists being used for gun restriction as lacking in due process. 
The American Civil Liberties Union has voiced opposition to barring weapons sales to individuals listed on the current form of the No-Fly List, stating that: "There is no constitutional bar to reasonable regulation of guns, and the No Fly List could serve as one tool for it, but only with major reform." Specifically, the ACLU's position is that the government's current redress process—the procedure by which listed individuals can petition for removal from the list—does not meet the requirements of the Constitution's Due Process Clause because the process does not "provide meaningful notice of the reasons our clients are blacklisted, the basis for those reasons, and a hearing before a neutral decision-maker."

Due process is NOT the exclusive prerogative of the right, and in point of fact, when it comes to other examples of due process deficiencies, they don't give a tinkers damn.  The most notable example that comes to mind is the horribly flawed application of the death penalty.  The right, for the most part, love their guns, and claim to be pro-life, but they show little concern for people being wrongly convicted and then executed. 

But back to the No-Fly prohibition of terrorists buying guns (and explosives) far too easily, clearly we have a very real danger to the nation under existing laws.  And equally clearly, it is possible to prohibit those people from endangering us AND further adjusting our existing laws to resolve the due-process concerns.

In the meantime, it is less a problem with the No-Fly list members from foreign countries who are posing a threat, with guns and explosives than it is our fellow citizens and residents.  Our own member of Congress from Minnesota, Keith Ellison (one of two Muslims in Congress) noted:
Citing data from a 2013 report produced by the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, Mr. Ellison said, “Right-wing extremists have launched an average of 330 attacks a year and killed about 250 people between 2002 and 2011. These are dangerous people.”
It is stupid to make it so easy for bad people to acquire guns. It is equally stupid to make it so easy for bad people who are not terrorists, but more ordinary citizens who present a danger to acquire guns.

These are the gun buying people the newest laws in Hawaii address.  Hawaii has the lowest rate of gun violence in the country -- and perspectives like this explain why.

The most significant is Senate Bill 2954, now Act 108, which grants county police departments authority to enroll firearms applicants and individuals registering their firearms in a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal record monitoring service.
...The intent is to help the departments evaluate “whether the firearm owner may continue to legally possess and own firearms,” according to the governor’s office.
The law, the first of its kind for any state in the nation, also authorizes the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center to access firearm registration data.
Criminals are a prohibited gun ownership category.  There is good reason for that; felons are  7 - 8 times more likely to re-offend when they acquire guns for example when they have their firearms rights restored post-prison.  They SHOULD be tracked.  It makes sense in view of what we know.

Then we have another gun regulation, that prevents domestic abusers from having firearms.  This tracks with studies that show that more than 90% of women who are homicide victims AND the victims of domestic abuse KNOW their killers, with firearms the most common weapon. Those victims are not typically the victim of stranger violence. The danger is from the people with guns in their own homes or other locations where the victims are routinely present.
Ige also signed into law House Bill 625, which specifies that harassment by stalking and misdemeanor sexual assault disqualify a person from owning, possessing or controlling any firearm or ammunition.
HB 625 was introduced by state House Rep. Chris Lee, a Democrat. The bill states that stalking and related acts of domestic abuse “have been linked with gun violence.”

And then we have the third law that keeps dangerously crazy people from having firearms -- which conservatives like to claim is a primary cause of gun violence. The sad reality is that most shooters aren't mentally ill, they're just nasty and disgruntled bastards. 

But by all means let us keep those who have significant mental health issues away from firearms.

Here in Minnesota, the family of one of our mass shooters KNEW their son had a serious mental illness, and BEGGED law enforcement to take their son's gun(s) away before he hurt someone -- but law enforcement had no authority to do so.  As a result, their son killed 6 other people, injured two more, and killed himself with a Glock 9 mm.  In a mass shooting in the Pacific Northwest, family members had sought the assistance of law enforcement to prevent their mentally ill son from possessing his firearm, but they ALSO were unable to act to prevent the tragedy of five victims shot to death, and the suicide of the shooter, with one surviving injuries.  In both cases, there were prior mental health diagnoses like those below.
A third measure that is now law, House Bill 2632, requires firearms owners to surrender their firearms and ammunition to chiefs of police if they have been disqualified from owning a firearm and ammunition because of a  “diagnosis of significant behavioral, emotional, or mental disorder, or emergency or involuntary hospitalization to a psychiatric facility.”
The chiefs can also seize firearms and ammunition if a disqualified firearms owner fails to surrender the weapons after receiving written notice.
There is no legitimate objection to the laws passed in Hawaii -- and there is no legitimate objection to preventing serious potential terrorists, foreign or domestic, Islamic extremist or right wing anti-government extremists, from legal purchase of firearms and ammunition.  We can clean up any lingering problems with the false positives on the No Fly List, and the ACLU deserves a tip of the hat for their efforts to do so.

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