Archive for December, 2012

12/22/2012

NRA: Gun Caused Newton Shooting

It’s only been a little more than a week since the horrible grade school massacre in Newton, Connecticut, where twenty 6-year-olds and six teachers were murdered, but the National Rifle Association (NRA) is already confusing people as to its cause.

Yesterday, in a speech by Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, the true cause of the shooting was not mentioned. Instead, he suggested increasing our tax burden by spending countless sums to place armed guards in every school in the U.S. He failed to mention mass killings have occurred in theatres, shopping centers, and even army bases, already protected by armed guards.

The NRA cannot see the forest for the trees. The simple cause of the shooting in Connecticut was a gun, period. Yes, the shooter had a mental issue. People have had mental problems in the past, and no matter what we do as a culture, there will be sick people in the future. All we can do is treat illnesses once diagnosed.

The critical mistake in Connecticut occurred when the mother of the mentally ill kid purchased not one, but three firearms, and then kept them in her home, where her son could access them. Although people have been warned over the years the presence of firearms increases risks of injury or death to the owner, more than anyone else, the mother ignored this, and tragically she died first.

The mentally ill kid then took his mother’s semi-automatic weapon on a shooting spree at a grade school. If the mother had not given him access to the gun, or if we would have barred her from purchasing it, the shooting probably wouldn’t have occurred.

We first have to acknowledge that twenty innocent 6-year-olds were murdered by a gun. Sadly, the NRA just can’t accept this.

Other countries, including Canada where hunting is popular, have far less violence from guns, because their regulations are more effective. The 2nd Amendment is not absolute. It specifically refers to a “well-regulated militia.” As the Founders wrote it, they envisioned regulations. It’s time we implemented gun regulations by banning powerful semi-automatic guns now and forever.

12/17/2012

2nd Amendment Allows Regulation

Although the Supreme Court’s conservative five-member activist majority of Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts, and Kennedy ignored the “original intent” of the Second Amendment, as they drafted law from the bench in 2008, and gave individuals who had not enlisted in any state militia an individual right to bear arms, the Constitutional interpretation enunciated by dissenting justices Stevens, Souter, Breyer and Ginsburg, who said only state militia members have a right to bear arms, was the correct view.

In the American Revolution, a loosely-affiliated group of colonial states, operating under the Articles of Confederation (1777-87), provided arms to those serving in well-regulated militias. Art VI of the Articles stated in part: “…Every state shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed…and shall provide…a proper quantity of arms…”

When the Founders realized the Articles were too weak, and the nation needed a stronger central government, they adopted the U.S. Constitution, which created a federal system, and delegated to Congress the power to raise an Army. The new arrangement concerned some, as they feared a rouge President might use the Army for his own personal purposes, to overthrow their liberties.

The Second Amendment was adopted to preserve the rights of the states to maintain armed militias, so they could collectively resist a federal Army. This is why it provides: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The “original intent” of the 2nd Amendment was to prevent the federal government from disarming state militias. In modern terms, the U.S. government in Washington cannot take guns away from those in state militias, such as the Wisconsin National Guard. If you belong to the Guard, you have a right to bear arms; if not, you have no right to them.

Subsequent Acts of Congress, such as the Militia Act of 1792, which ordered every 18 to 45 year old man to be “enrolled in the militia” and to “provide himself with a good musket or firelock…or with a good rifle” showed the Founders were connecting the right to bear arms with enlistment in a militia.

State Supreme Courts also found only those in the state militias had a right to bear arms. In Andrews v State, 50 Tenn. 165 (1871), a Tennessee Court held the right to bear arms for common defense did not mean individual defense, but referred to the right to bear arms for the defense of the community.  In English v State, 35 Tex. 473 (1872), the Texas Court held the “arms” referred to in the Second Amendment are those of soldiers. In Dabbs v State, 39 Ark. 353 (1882), the Arkansas Court held a statute making it an offense to sell “any pistol,” except those “used in the Army or Navy of the U.S.” did not invade the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In Pierce v State, 276 P. 393 (Ok App 1929), an Oklahoma Court held “arms” in the 2nd Amendment did not include pistols, but only weapons carried by the militia.

A few years ago, however, the conservative U.S. Supreme Court ignored the language of the 2nd Amendment, as well as case precedent, as they created an individual right to bear arms. See District of Columbia v Heller (2008). Heller was later applied to state and local governments, in another 5-4 case. See McDonald v Chicago (2010). (Sotomayer replaced Souter’s dissent).

The only saving grace in Heller was the part where the Court upheld the constitutionality of firearm regulations, and reaffirmed the right of states to engage in gun licensing. They said Second Amendment rights are not unlimited, as there is no right to carry any weapon, in any manner, for any purpose.

Gun regulations have been used for over 100 years. 126 years ago already, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Illinois Military Code that prohibited all bodies of men, except U.S. troops, and those in regular organized state militias, from drilling or parading with arms, unless they were licensed. See Presser v Illinois (1886). 115 years ago, in Robertson v Baldwin (1897), the Court held the right to bear arms was not absolute, and states had the authority to regulate concealed-carry. 73 years ago, the Court held the 2nd Amendment does not protect citizens who transport 12-gauge shotguns, because they are not reasonably-related to the preservation of a well-regulated militia. See U.S. v Miller (1939).

Today, while the need of urban governments to reduce crime by imposing complete handgun bans has been blocked, they can still keep felons and juveniles from possessing firearms; they can ban certain types of firearms, like machine guns and sawed-off shotguns; they can prohibit concealed carry; and they can ban guns on public property.

While gun control advocates are unable to ban and can only regulate, 10 to 20 thousand Americans die each year as a result of handguns. Most murders (63%) are caused by handguns, and 70% of the time the person shooting is a friend or relative of the victim. Foreign countries, such as Japan, Canada, and those in Europe, have only a small fraction of homicides caused by handguns.

Gun control is needed in central cities (where there is no hunting), and any regulation that makes access to handguns in urban areas more difficult, is a step in the right direction. Since the Supreme Court decided to write law, and outlawed handgun bans as an option, the only alternative is to now regulate gun use to death, with the hope that someday, a different Supreme Court will finally apply the original intent of the Second Amendment.

12/07/2012

Wisconsin: Win With Player-Coaches

Dr. Beilema and 11 resident-physicians have been performing surgery for 13 hours. Five times they suffered major setbacks and thought the procedure was hopeless, but during eight other critical moments, they gained a renewed optimism. With only an hour to go, Beilema and the residents huddle around the operating table.

Dr. Beilema: I know this surgery isn’t finished, but I’m leaving.

As he removes his surgical gown, the residents are shocked.

Dr. Phillips: You’re leaving now? But Dr. Beilema, we’re just residents and interns. You’re paid to guide us. What will happen?

Dr. Beilema: Why do I care? I have to move to Arkansas, now.

Dr. Beilema just walks out, leaving the 11 residents behind.

Dr. O’Brien: I can’t finish the surgery, as my hands are too jittery.

Dr. Stave: Since I was hurt earlier this year, I can’t do it either.

Dr. Phillips: You have great hands, Dr. Abbrederis, can you help me close up the patient?

Dr. Borland: Wait a minute! We’re not going to just close him up, and let him die, after all our work!

Dr. Phillips: You’re right! Let’s find that old Dr. Barry. Doctors Ball and White, you run down the hall to the right, and Doctors Abbrederis and Pedersen, go left. See if you can catch Dr. Barry. Bring him to the Operating Room!

As the four break from the huddle, they sprint out of the door, quickly locate Dr. Barry, and usher him in.

Dr. Barry: What the hell is going on in here?

Dr. Phillips: We’ve been in surgery 13 hours. Dr. Beilema walked out on us, with only an hour to go. He thinks we have a lost cause.

Dr. Barry: Oh my god, who opened such a big hole in the patient?

Dr. Phillips: Doctors Frederick and Wagner did that.

Dr. White: Big openings give Dr. Ball and I more room to work.

Dr. Barry: Does anyone know the prognosis?

Dr. Borland: We need to stop a west coast virus called Stanford.

Dr. Taylor: It’s been done twice this year! It can be eradicated!

Dr. Barry: I’ve seen the strain, and yes, I know it can be beaten.

Dr. Phillips: Can you finish the surgery for us, Dr. Barry?

Dr. Barry: No, I don’t even know if I can stay my feet. I’ll watch and give advice from the sidelines, but you’ll have to finish.

Dr. Ball: But you’re a legend! You succeeded in situations like this three times. We read about it. We saw the films!

Dr. Barry: In those cases, I was involved from start to finish. Look, I’ve watched you guys perform. Let me tell you, if you save the situation, you’re the ones who will become the legend, not me.

Dr. Phillips: But can we really make the save ourselves?

Dr. Barry: You know the procedures! You’ve been here all along, not me. Like player-coaches at a sporting event, you can step up. Doctors Phillips, Ball, and Abbrederis can move the surgery forward, while Borland and Taylor just stop the virus from spreading. If the patient dies, blame me. If you succeed, you’ll be remembered as the legendary team that prevailed against all odds.

After a knock at the door, a florist walks in with a box of flowers.

Dr. Barry: Why are you bringing flowers in this room?

Florist: I was told there was going to be a funeral at Wisconsin.

Dr. Phillips: Dr. Barry, let me handle this! We are not quitting!

Florist: But what do I do with these roses?

Dr. Ball: Put them down. We’ll need them on Jan. 1, 2013.

12/06/2012

Beilema: Only Chickens Miss Roses

We are living in such a sad time, where there is so much greed, it totally permeates our culture, and there is no longer any refuge where morals remain, including our universities. Greed has infested the minds of college officials to the point, where students are now taught the wrong lesson, as in the case of former UW football coach Bret Beilema, who by his recent actions, has instructed young minds that immorality has no consequence.

What morally-grounded person would win a Big-10 championship game, qualify for the Rose Bowl, and then quit abruptly, leaving his team on a lurch to fend for themselves? What sick mind would value money so much, that he would burn every single bridge behind, as he high-tailed it out of state? It doesn’t matter how many games Beilema won at Wisconsin in the past, from now on, he should be booed.

I once taught part-time at a university, where I was paid the paltry sum of $3,000 to $4,000 for a 16-week class. I was wondering what would have happened if I had just quit in the 14th week, as my students were preparing for their final exam, and they had questions. A descent professor wouldn’t do that to his students.

I also practiced law. I wonder what would have happened if I had worked on a case for about a year, and a few weeks before trial, simply quit, and walked away. Not only would the judge be all over me for unethical behavior, I could have faced discipline.

But Bret Beilema, lives in the immoral world of greed. They have different rules. His world is all about Beilema. I can go to the Southeastern Conference. I can make even more than the obscene amount I’m already overpaid. It’s about me, the great Beilema. How lucky Wisconsin was. Oh, how fortunate Arkansas will be.

Get over yourself Beilema. You were overpaid. You inherited a football program with great recruiting. You dropped the ball at two Rose Bowls, and at many other winnable games. You were a coward afraid to lose a third Rose Bowl, so you quit. Go ahead to Arkansas. You’ll be right at home next to Tysen Foods, the world’s greatest producer of chickens.