Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Filibuster Heard Round the World

Senator Murphy addresses the Senate floor.

I've been watching some of the Senate filibuster on gun control, started by none other than my own senator, Connecticut's Chris Murphy. He's one of the few people I've ever voted for who I can actually say I'm proud of. He also supports Pathways, so he's definitely good in my book.

The filibuster has been powerful. Especially when going through the many gun tragedies in just the past few months. I'm proud of Senator Murphy, and whether you agree with him or not, you have to give him credit for doing...fucking something. For fuck's sake we can not simply accept these tragedies as the norm. When Bill O'Reilly is calling for gun reform, you know it's reached a tipping point. I realize that the likelihood of any change being made is very slim but I can't give up hope. I realize even if the changes they want (basically for people on the terror watch list to be banned from buying guns and to expand universal background checks for now, and eventually to have a ban on assault weapons) are made, they might not make a huge difference. But how can we just keep doing nothing? 

Thoughts and prayers are not solution. Banning an entire religious group from our country isn't a damn solution.

So I'm proud of and appreciative for Senator Murphy and the others who are trying to do something to affect change. However, I do have some concerns. They are the same concerns I have had since 9/11. And it's not "Islamic terrorism." It's a loss of liberty and freedom because of the fear of "Islamic terrorism."

People who disliked W. Bush rightly cried foul over the the ill-advised and ill-conceived wars, as well as the Patriot Act, torture and many other things. Those same people have been perfectly fine with Obama's invasions of privacy and endless drone strikes. I try to be consistently cynical and critical. Obama hasn't been much better with foreign policy than Bush was. He has been just as deadly and just as secretive, with the same disastrous results. My concern with the proposed gun reform is with these secret lists. We should get a more detailed explanation of what it takes to get on the terror watch list and the no fly list. The clandestine nature of it worries me greatly. On the other hand, I don't mind that people on those lists are not able to get a gun, because I believe having less guns overall is a good thing.

The problem is, we know how these lists work. We saw it with the Patriot Act, NSA domestic spying, CIA torture and rendition, etc. We can't just give up all of our rights and our privacy to the government in the name of fighting terror. Again, I'm not a big fan of, or believer in, the right for any person to have guns, but I'm also not a fan of giving up rights, whether I personally like them or not. Once we give them up, we don't usually get them back.

The problem with these lists is that most people on the terror list have never committed a crime, and many are on the list in error. Is it acceptable to take away their rights? Are we pre-cogs from Minority Report? Then again, I'm all for making it harder for the people on the list to get a gun because I'm all for making it harder for everybody to get a gun. 

We should have much more oversight on these lists and on all of the activities of our government and its agencies. That is a must. There are also many things that we must do to address gun deaths. 

We should have universal background checks. We should close the gun show loophole. We should start a national gun registry. We should have mandatory gun insurance. We should allow government research on gun violence. We should invest in creating smart bullets & guns. We should make a law stating that if a person commits a crime with a gun, they lose their right to own a gun. 

Those are just a few suggestions. I'm all for discussing more. We can't just focus on the terror list. The government only labels certain people "terrorists" and we all know who that is, despite the fact that a different group of people commits most mass shootings. So we need to get a better understanding of these lists and we can't think banning everybody on these lists is the only solution. 

Similarly, we can't think an assault weapons ban will solve everything, if it even passes or if it's even proposed. I'm all for it. but it's not the only solution. 

By the way, I don't give a flying pink elephant beershit if you call them assault weapons or semi-automatic rifles or military-style weapons or machine guns. High capacity, rapid fire guns should not be in the hands of civilians. 

Or the police. All gun control measures should be met with equal measures to demilitarize and retrain police officers.

These are my opinions. We may not agree on everything, but let's talk it out until we do. That may include some yelling and name calling, but that's what it takes sometimes. It's not going to be easy, but ignoring it because you'd rather see heart emojis and "love is love" posts on Facebook till the end of time, or you don't want to disrupt Sunday dinner by openly disagreeing with a family member, isn't going to solve anything. 

Let's hold our government representatives accountable as well. This filibuster is important and admirable, but what really matters is what happens after Senator Murphy gets the late night gut rumbles and has to concede the floor. When this bill is rejected, like it was after Sandy Hook, what will we do then? Forget about it until the next record setting mass shooting?   

I'll leave you with a letter from a parent of a Sandy Hook victim to the families of the Club Pulse victims.

And if you read that, you'll probably need this gif of a fat basset hound running to cheer you up...

Dogs make everything all right. Keep on running, doggie. Don't ever stop. 

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

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