Byrne: Defending the Second Amendment

This past week, Democrats in Congress again launched an attack on our Constitution and the rights we cherish as Americans. This time, they came after the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms.

H.R. 8, the latest Democrat-led gun control bill does absolutely nothing to prevent criminals or violent persons from getting their hands on firearms.

What H.R. 8 does do is violate the Constitutional rights of millions of Americans, ignores the mental health crisis behind actions of mass violence and limits the Constitutional rights of millions of responsible gun owners.

I’m a gun owner and hunter myself. I’ve talked to lots of folks from all around Alabama who proudly own guns for sport, work and protection. Congress should not and cannot limit the rights of the American people in the name of politics.

Under the Democrat bill, almost every time a lawful gun owner wants to transfer or sell a gun, he or she will have to go through a government-sanctioned middle-man. Under this bill, no longer could I sell my gun to my cousin or my neighbor in a private transaction.

If this bill were to become law, millions of law-abiding gun owners could suddenly be subject to federal prosecution. Of course, we all know that criminals are going to do what they already do: make illegal transfers of firearms. So, this won’t make any difference in cutting down on crime.

I have a long track record of supporting commonsense bills to provide Alabamians a way to protect themselves while offering smart background check programs and mental health services to those in need. My grandfather was shot and killed by someone suffering from mental illness. I know the importance of providing important resources for those in need without infringing on the rights guaranteed by our Founding Fathers.

The so-called solutions in the Democrat gun control bill do nothing to prevent mass violence. We should not punish law-abiding citizens. Instead, we should listen to responsible gun owners and work on solutions that protect our Second Amendment rights.

I have news for the out-of-touch Democrats: Gun owners of America are watching this debate. They know what H.R. 8 is all about, and they know that this bill is just a sham to chip away at the Second Amendment and our Constitution.

Instead of trying to attack the Second Amendment, we should be trying to protect it. During the debate last week, Speaker Pelosi blocked my amendment to strip out this anti-gun legislation and replace it with nationwide concealed carry reciprocity. Instead of trampling on our Constitution, Democrats could have accepted my amendment and allowed a vote on a bill that would have actually made our country safer.

Our Founding Fathers enshrined the right to keep and bear arms in our nation’s Constitution. Throughout our history, we have seen the importance of the Second Amendment for people to make a living, to provide for their families, and to protect their life and liberty.

It is clear that this bill was nothing more than yet another sham show vote from the Democratic leadership. The gun control bill promises much but delivers very little.

I opposed this bill, and I will oppose any bill that goes against the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. It is my duty as a citizen of the United States and representative of the people of Alabama to defend our Constitution against any effort to roll back the important protections enshrined within it.

One thing is for sure: I will always stand up for our Constitution, the Second Amendment, and the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Alabama and around the United States.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

17 mins ago

Rejecting the Joe Biden energy plan and the Green New Deal

Energy is a resource that we cannot ignore. It is a crucial part of our everyday lives in America. When we flip the lights on in our homes, we do not worry about them working, we expect them to work. That is called “Reliability” in the utility world. Well, that is no longer the case in some parts of America. The reason for that is radical left policies that have been the groundwork for the Green New Deal – a move to unreliable, uncontrollable and expensive energy production.

And as your Public Service Commissioner, I am very worried about it! Look at California. Between 2011-2018, electricity prices rose 27% more in California than they did the rest of the country. During that time, California’s carbon emissions rose 3.7%. As California has all but phased out nuclear energy, they are on the verge of phasing out gas-powered energy as well. Due to an over-reliance on renewable energy sources that could not sustain the stress to their power grid, California has announced multiple rolling blackouts in 2020. The radical environmental activists continue to push for more and more renewable resources that can not yet sustain the demand Californians have for power. With regard to the climate crisis, Governor Gavin Newsom said that “California is America fast-forward.” I hope we are not. The unreliability of their power supply, the high cost of energy, and highly regulated industry has all but destroyed their economic growth. California has been a test case for the Green New Deal, and it has failed that test emphatically.

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We all know that Joe Biden supports the Green New Deal. He denies it publicly when questioned about energy reforms he supports, but his own website calls it a “crucial framework.” We know Kamala Harris supports the Green New Deal because she was an original co-sponsor of the bill. Harris is so adamant about getting the Green New Deal passed that she stated during a 2019 town hall that she would support abolishing the legislative filibuster to get the deal done. At last week’s presidential debate, Joe Biden said that he wanted to “transition from the oil industry.” Joe Biden’s team has spent a lot of time performing damage control on that comment, stating that the oil industry would remain by “branching out beyond oil.” Biden and Kamala Harris have been walking back comments on fracking as well. During the debate, Joe Biden denied saying he was going to end fracking and tried to clarify that his position was no new fracking on public land. This is patently false. Biden and Harris spent their entire time during the Democratic primary speaking about how both would end fracking in the United States. Biden and Harris have repeatedly stated that they want to ban fracking, with Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez calling fracking “unnecessary.”

So which is it? Do we take them at their word when they play damage control, or do we take them at the word when they were on the campaign trail, and hold them to the language of Green New Deal proponents? A Biden administration simply cannot be trusted to do what is right for Alabamians when it comes to energy and utilities.

My job is to represent the best interests of every single Alabamian. Businesses flock to Alabama because of our affordable and reliable utilities and I want to keep it that way. I want Alabamians to be able to use their hot water when they need to; to be able to use their electricity when they need to; and I want energy-producing companies to have the empowerment to continue serving Alabama while making advances in cleaner and renewable technologies, available at the cheapest rates possible. I am working to ensure that we as Alabamians respect the environment and continue to make advances in clean energy, while utilizing our backbone energy sources, such as clean coal and natural gas, that have proven to be reliable.

The decision is straightforward for me: what is best for Alabama is a federal government that allows Alabama to continue prospering in the manner it has been. I oppose Joe Biden’s radical progressive plans that undermine the sovereignty of the state, kill jobs and end the fossil fuel industry that produces efficient and affordable energy and is ever-expanding the way that it becomes cleaner and better for the environment. Joe Biden’s climate and energy plan will make the people of Alabama’s lives worse, not better.

I hope you all keep these things in mind when you go to the poll on Tuesday. I encourage everyone to vote because it is a privilege and an honor to live in a country that supports free and fair elections, and energy that is reliable and affordable like it has been the past four years under the Trump administration. Let your voices be heard and let’s keep Alabama great.

Jeremy H. Oden serves as Alabama Public Service Commissioner, Place 1. Opinions expressed above do not represent the position of the Public Service Commission or its other commissioners.

14 hours ago

Data: Doug Jones closer to Chuck Schumer, Mazie Hirono than to Joe Manchin on supporting Trump

Only four full days away from the November 3 general election, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) continues to claim to be a moderate on the campaign trail. However, the data paints a much different picture.

The highly respected, non-partisan data and analytics site FiveThirtyEight.com hosts a comprehensive database tracking each member of Congress’ voting history. This includes a tally of how often representatives and senators vote with or against President Donald Trump’s position; this data is formulated into a percentage, comprising each legislator’s “Trump Score.”

The dataset also takes Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 (in each state for senators and each district for representatives) and calculates a predicted Trump Score that hypothesizes how often a member is expected to vote with Trump based on that margin.

FiveThirtyEight then compares each legislator’s actual Trump Score to the predicted score to effectively see the approximate difference between the sentiment of a legislator’s constituents and that individual’s congressional votes.

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Examining Jones, the data showed Alabama’s junior senator has a Trump Score of only 34.8% since he took office in January 2018. The data is up-to-date, with Jones’ latest vote against Justice Amy Coney Barrett factored in.

In contrast, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has a score of 51.6% and U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) came in at 51.5%; both are perceived-moderate Democrats.

Other Democrats who have been recently ousted from office by voters in red states also scored significantly higher than Jones, including U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota (54.8%), Joe Donnelly of Indiana (54.2%), Claire McCaskill of Missouri (45.8%) and Bill Nelson of Florida (43.4%). Even current blue- and purple-state Democratic Caucus members had higher Trump Scores than Jones, including U.S. Senators Angus King of Maine (37.9%), Mark Werner of Virginia (35.5%) and Jacky Rosen of Nevada (35.1%).

In fact, Jones’ Trump Score is closer to the far-left wing in his party than the more-moderate senators. The Democrat from Alabama scored closer to the likes of U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) than to Sinema and Manchin; Jones scored closer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) than to Heitkamp.

Overall, Jones also scored closer to the extreme left of his party than he did to the left-most Republican, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

Based on Trump’s 2016 margin, Jones’ predicted Trump Score was 85.5%. This means his actual Trump Score was 50.7 percentage points lower than expected. That massive margin was second-largest nationally, with only U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) having a higher negative differential.

The more recent data paints an even worse picture for Jones. Looking at only the 116th Congress, which began in January 2019 and is still in session, Jones’ Trump Score dropped to 23.1%. Simply put, the more time he spent in D.C., the further to the left Jones went.

The Yellowhammer State’s senior senator is a much different story; U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has an overall Trump Score of 93.5%.

Jones will face Republican U.S. Senatorial nominee Tommy Tuberville at the ballot box on Tuesday.

RELATED: Tuberville: Jones’ vote against Barrett ‘represented the liberal beliefs of his high-dollar campaign donors in California and New York’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Alabama rocket CEO and former Air Force leader: Military threat from China now extends to space

When an Alabama-built rocket powers another critical national security satellite into space next week, it will be the latest such satellite in the ever-increasing use of space to gain military advantage on the ground.

The satellite, operated by the National Reconnaissance Office, will enhance communication for America’s warfighters across the globe.

However, the United States’ ability to operate in space and leverage its potential for national security purposes could be made more difficult, according to two experts who participated in the AscendxSummit conference last week.

Tory Bruno, president and CEO of Alabama rocket builder United Launch Alliance (ULA), and former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson both concluded that foreign governments are challenging America’s space superiority, with China being at the forefront of the effort.

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“The threat has changed,” explained Wilson. “The United States is heavily dependent on space for national security, and we need to respond to that emerging threat.”

That dependence on space comes from satellites which assist U.S. military operations around the world.

By the end of last year, the Air Force had 80 satellites in use, the Navy had 13, and the National Reconnaissance Office was utilizing 40. The smallest satellite being the size of a toaster and the biggest the size of a school bus.

Some serve important communications functions, while others serve as mechanisms for intelligence gathering, including the ability to provide missile warnings. These satellites are trained at the Earth and employ infrared technology to identify the hot plumes of gas that come from the end of rockets and then calculate the trajectory and warn the national command authority.

These capabilities have naturally drawn the attention of America’s adversaries.

Wilson has previously drawn attention to the threat from China with its launch of a missile the size of a telephone pole to destroy a dead weather satellite.

She said China and Russia have been developing the means to interfere with or destroy American military satellites in order to influence military operations on the ground.

Bruno expressed his belief that we stand at a pivotal moment in human history. He cited an “unprecedented set of decades that stretch out in front of us in space” with the potential to tap into near limitless resources which would allow for a self-sustaining economy on Earth.

At the same time, Bruno warned of a need for a national security space strategy which takes into account threats in orbit.

“We are heading back immediately today into an environment of pure competition,” he elaborated. “With a resurgent Russia, a rising China, countries that have ambitions around the world that not only potentially limit America’s influence but potentially limit the growth and expansion of democracy and freedom to be curtailed by totalitarian regimes and governments.”

Bruno sees access to space as essential for America to maintain its position of strength, saying that while the U.S. military is not the largest in the world, it is the most capable because it is enabled by space.

“For the first time in history, space, the previously historically peaceful domain is now being weaponized as we speak by these adversaries,” Bruno remarked. “That brings with it the potential to limit our unrivaled use of space to keep the peace around the globe.”

He said other nations seeking to weaken the U.S. military are attempting to take space away because that is a far easier approach than conventional warfare.

Wilson believes it is the space prowess of the United States which has made it a target of China and other countries.

“One of the reasons why this subject continues to interest me is that America is the best in the world at space, and our adversaries are seeking to develop the capability to deny us the use of space in crisis or at war,” she observed.

The White House earlier this month released a “National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies.” The document outlines how the United States will promote and protect its competitive advantage in fields which include space and military technologies.

A statement from the White House addressed the need to develop such a national strategy:

As our competitors and adversaries mobilize vast resources in these fields, American dominance in science and technology is more important now than ever, and is vital to our long-term economic and national security. The United States will not turn a blind eye to the tactics of countries like China and Russia, which steal technology, coerce companies into handing over intellectual property, undercut free and fair markets, and surreptitiously divert emerging civilian technologies to build up their militaries.

When asked about the White House’s national strategy, Bruno acknowledged the country’s innovation chain is now susceptible to foreign interference in a way it never has been before.

“At least one of our adversaries has figured out, why spy when you can buy?” he remarked.

China’s ability to absorb U.S. technology and innovation is something which will demand significant attention, according to Bruno.

“There are a lot of elements to that innovation chain, and most of them are actually pretty open,” he concluded. “As a Chinese company, you can come and buy key elements of the supply chain where technologies reside. You can sponsor members of your intelligence community, or your armed forces, to go to America and receive the best STEM education on the planet and bring all of that home. You can even invest to influence companies through venture capital and even do that through shell companies so that your presence, influence and access is not as obvious. All of that is right now an open door to both of our adversaries.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

Alabama coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have risen in the last week

Alabama’s coronavirus caseload continued to increase in the last week, and the number of citizens hospitalized with the virus has gone up as well.

The state has averaged 942 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the last week, a 5% increase from the 848 cases per day the state was averaging on October 22.

From early September to mid-October, Alabama was averaging around 700 cases per day.

Hospitals in the state admitted 114 coronavirus patients per day over the last seven days, up from a 102 per day average a week ago, an 11% increase.

Just over 1,000 Alabamians are currently in the hospital with a case of COVID-19.

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Both new cases and hospitalizations remain far below the peaks they hit in July.

The scientific consensus on the coronavirus is that a surge in new cases is followed by a surge in hospitalizations around two weeks later, with a resultant increase in deaths two to four weeks after the uptick in hospitalizations.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab. (BamaTracker)
Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab. (BamaTracker)

Yellowhammer News used numbers from BamaTracker for the data in this report. BamaTracker collects statistics generated by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) to provide graphs and information on the coronavirus in Alabama.

In the last 14 days, 21.23% of all coronavirus tests administered in Alabama have come back positive, which infectious disease experts say is incredibly worrying.

According to doctors at Johns Hopkins University, the ideal range rate of positive tests is 1% to 5% for a disease to be considered contained.

Sixty-one of 67 counties in the Yellowhammer State reported a new coronavirus case on Thursday, a lower number than last week, but still a figure that shows the disease is being transmitted in nearly all areas of the state.

Bigger counties like Mobile and Houston have generated especially concerning COVID-19 numbers in recent days, along with smaller counties like Lamar, Washington, Henry and Dekalb.

In more positive news, the seven-day average of deaths due to the coronavirus has gone down in the last week. Alabama is currently averaging eight COVID-19 deaths per day, down from 10 at this time last week.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab. (BamaTracker)

The total number of Alabamians who have died with a confirmed case of the coronavirus is now at 2,718, with another 196 that ADPH thinks are “probable” COVID-19 deaths but have not been officially confirmed.

The slowdown in deaths is likely attributable to an increase in doctors’ knowledge of the virus, and the use of therapeutic treatments like remdesivir, which was discovered and tested at UAB hospital.

National Public Radio recently reported on scientific studies that confirm the slowing of COVID-19 death rates across the United States.

One study featured in the article showed the death rate among hospitalized patients dropped from 25.6% at the start of the pandemic to 7.6% currently.

A big date in the minds of Alabamians closely observing COVID-19 numbers is November 8, when the state’s mask order is set to expire.

November 8 is also around the time when statistics should begin to indicate whether a surge in new cases has resulted from gatherings on Halloween.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has typically called a press conference around 48 hours before the mask order is about to expire, where she announces whether or not she will extend it.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

16 hours ago

This weekend’s college football TV schedule

For a printable version, click here. Pro tip: Save the image below to your phone for quick and easy access all weekend.

(Note: All times are Central)

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Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

Hayden Crigler is a contributing college football writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him through email: hayden@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @hayden_crigler.