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5 months ago

‘Let the good guys have guns. But make them jump through a few more hoops ‘ — Alabama Democrat seeking Rep. Roby’s seat

(Tabitha Isner for Congress/Facebook)

 

(Opinion) It’s the other side’s fault.

That’s what people say.

One side says gun violence is caused by the excessive number and magnitude of guns. They say the needed gun reforms will never pass because of the power of the gun lobby, led by the NRA.

The other side says violence is all about evil people running loose while not enough good guys are armed. They say nothing will be accomplished by attacking the Second Amendment.

Both sides firmly believe they are right.

The gun violence debate is a perfect example of the problem with our political discourse today. Whenever a problem arises, the very first thing we do is take a side.

Our sides make us feel more secure, sure.

But they also make us retreat into our corners, alienating us from one another, preventing the kind of open conversation that is necessary for addressing a complex issue.

Here’s what I’d like to propose: Instead of taking sides, let’s look for common ground. Let’s give each side the benefit of the doubt that they are disgusted by gun violence and want to end it. Let’s trust that both sides believe in responsible gun ownership and gun safety. Let’s practice the common sense bipartisanship that led to policies like social security, the Civil Rights Act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Let’s start by agreeing on a few basics:

— It is true that some guns are more powerful, more lightweight, and therefore more dangerous than ever before.

— It is true that there are bad people out there who want to use guns to hurt or kill others, and there are good people who want to use guns to protect themselves and to save lives.

— It is true that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean that every American is entitled to free access to every kind of firearm. We already ban access to certain kinds of weapons and accessories through the National Firearms Act of 1934.

— It is true that it’s not easy to draw lines in the sand about which guns should and shouldn’t be allowed. The technology is constantly evolving, and attachments and modifications further complicate the story.

It’s going to take serious, thoughtful, and difficult conversation to draft and pass new legislation, but there are several common-sense solutions that already have overwhelming support among the American people.

Let the good guys have guns. But make them jump through a few more hoops to show that they really are good guys.

That means background checks on every sale and transfer, gun safety courses, gun safety equipment like locks and insurance, and registering yourself (and your guns) as a certified good guy (with certified good-guy guns).

We can also consider red flag laws, that empower law enforcement to prevent people who pose a danger to themselves or others from having firearms prior to the commission of a crime.

I’m a realist. I know these proposals won’t prevent 100% of gun deaths. There are bad guys who will pose as good guys and slip through the cracks. There are bad guys who will steal guns or buy them on the black market. Unintentional shootings will still happen.

But we know these policies will save lives.

States that have closed the loophole in the background check system by requiring a check on every sale see 47% fewer women killed by intimate partners, 47% fewer gun suicides, 48% less illegal gun trafficking, and 53% fewer law enforcement officers shot and killed in the line of duty.

States with strong gun laws have significantly lower rates of gun death per capita than states with lax gun laws.

The point is, neither side can make progress if we all stay huddled in our corners.

But by recognizing the wisdom of each side, we can take a step in the right direction.

So the next time someone tells you that a problem simply cannot be solved because of the jerks on the other side, shake the dust off your feet as you walk away. Go find someone with a bit more imagination, maturity, and courage.

Heck, do it yourself.

Be the person who calls BS on all the partisan rhetoric.

Seek solutions, not sides.

(Tabitha Isner of Montgomery is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to represent Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District.)

2 mins ago

Decatur High School teacher accused of having sex with students resigns

An Alabama high school teacher who was paid nearly $130,000 while on leave fighting charges that she had sex with students has resigned.

The Decatur city school board accepted the resignation of Carrie Cabri Witt on Monday.

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Superintendent Michael Douglas tells the Decatur Daily that Witt quit the day before the board was scheduled to hold a hearing on her employment.

The 45-year-old Witt is charged with two counts of having sex with a student.

She’s been on paid leave since March 2016 while fighting the accusations.

Witt’s resignation letter says she “vehemently” denies committing any crime or having any inappropriate relationship with a student.

The school district has spent more than $128,000 on salary and benefits on Witt since placing her on leave.

She worked at Decatur High School.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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32 mins ago

How an incoming freshman overcame inner-city Chicago to get to Alabama State University – ‘This is the start of a new life’

Ivry Hall has a tale to tell – one that is too unbelievable, too tragic, to be anything but real. But it is who life’s challenges have made him, and where Hall is going from here, that he wants to be his life’s story.

Chicago born-and-raised, Hall just turned 18 last month.

“I grew up on the South Side. Englewood, 64th and Laflin,”  he told WLS-TV. “My mom did a lot of moving, but that’s where I spent most of my childhood.”

His upbringing, like that of most in this infamous part of the Windy City, was filled with serious trouble.

“Gang banging,” Hall admitted. “I used to smoke when I was little.”

He also dropped out of school, saying that is what was expected of children like him in that urban neighborhood.

Hall said, “I did a lot of stuff. That’s just from the image I was seeing so I wanted to do it, too.”

And that was all before his mom, who was raising him as a single mother, got cancer when Hall was only 12.

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“When my mom passed away, I was so hurt,” he reflected. “And I just wanted to do better.”

This tragedy inspired Hall to go back to school, and after some time, attend Tilden High School.

While in a positive frame of mind again, his life did not necessarily get easier when he went back to get his education. Hall was living with a cousin who moved nearly two hours from where he went to class.

“I had to get on three buses and one train,” Hall explained.

However, through hard work and the right attitude, he always kept going.

“I don’t believe in giving up, and I think that failure is not an option,” said Hall.

Not only did his mom pass away when he was 12, but when he was a senior in high school, Hall’s dad died of lung failure.

“Of course, I lost my mom. I lost my dad,” he told WLS-TV in Chicago. “I wish they were still here to see what I’ve accomplished now, but they’re not. Everything is not going to come as you want it.”

Hall’s faith in Jesus Christ, sports and a local boxing gym got him through the hard times. He also had mentors at his church who never stopped encouraging him.

Hall said, “They are like, ‘Ivry, you’re going to be something. You’re so smart.’ And that stuff encouraged me to do good.”

“No pity party,” explained Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, where Hall attends. “No ‘poor me.’ He was just a young brother who wanted the best for himself and others.”

Hall set a goal for himself when his mother died, and he never took his eye off achieving it.

“I always wish that I could graduate valedictorian, and look, I did,” he recounted. “I was beyond happy.”

Now, Hall is beginning his freshman year at Alabama State University in Montgomery, a triumph made possible in part by a $10,000 scholarship from his church.

The teen from the South Side of Chicago is just getting started on writing his life’s story, but he has a good plan for what comes next.

“Major in business, so I can open up my own business,” Hall forecasted.

He added, “I’m not for sure what I want to open up, but I want to help people.”

Hall now has his sights set on a new goal, and he is determined to succeed.

“I’m going to go to college and graduate, so I’m going to find a way to study,” Hall said. “I’m going to find a way to do everything without giving up.”

“If I give up, I will be just like everybody that I know,” he continued.

The young man also shared his key to overcoming the challenges life has thrown at him again and again.

“You have to give 100 percent in everything you do,” Hall emphasized. “Once you give up, you’ll only be used to giving up. At least try. If you can’t do it, continue to try.”

He has been through a lot in his short time on earth, but to him, a blank canvas awaits.

“This is the start of a new life,” Hall concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Former Prattville police officer gets 10 years for fraud, theft

A former police officer in Alabama who pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and burglary has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The Montgomery Advertiser reports 51-year-old Leon Todd Townson was sentenced Monday.

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The former U.S. Marine is one of two former Prattville Police Department lieutenants charged with breaking into a home in 2015.

The other lieutenant, 48-year-old John Wayne McDaniel, is set to be sentenced Friday.

Townson also was charged in 2017 with defrauding an insurance agency by filing a claim containing false information.

The fraudulent claim prompted the agency to award Townson more than $190,000.

He resigned from the police department in 2005 before pleading guilty to trying to sell a modified rifle seized by the department’s drug unit.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

GATR Technologies Inc. of Huntsville gets $522M Army contract for inflatable antennas

An Alabama company has a five-year, $522 million extension to an Army contract for inflatable satellite antenna systems.

GATR Technologies Inc. of Huntsville first won the contract in 2013.

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It said in early 2014 that the contract made the antennas more broadly available to the armed services, which already were using them in special operations units.

GATR’s ground-mounted antennas look like giant beach balls with tie-downs to point them in the right direction.

The antenna inside is reflective fabric.

Fans keep the air pressure in the top half slightly higher than in the bottom half, pushing the fabric down into the right shape.

The extension brings the contract’s total maximum value to more than $960 million.

It was announced Friday in the Pentagon’s daily list of military contracts.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 hours ago

7 Things: Disgraced former FBI Agent Peter Strzok finally fired, 70 percent of Americans want the Mueller probe over, Rep. Mike Rogers says the Space Force is no joke and more …

7. A Mexican restaurant in Houston is under fire for daring to serve Attorney General Jeff Sessions

— El Tiempo Cantina posted a photo of Sessions and its owner on social media. It was immediately attacked for serving the AG. Eventually, the restaurant apologized for posting the photo and shut down their social media accounts.

— American liberals have decided that serving food to the wrong people is a crime punishable by loss of your livelihood in 2018

6. Alabama Senator Doug Jones makes absolutely no one happy with his incoherence on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

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— Sen. Jones appeared at a town hall in Birmingham and the issue of Brett Kavanaugh arose. Jones seems to be hanging his hat on the fact that he can’t read his notes from his time in the Bush administration and therefore just can’t decide what to do on this vote.

— Conservatives continue to pressure Jones to make his position known. Meanwhile, a Democrat at this town hall heckled Jones and then threw a pair of plush lips at him telling him to “Kiss my ass” if he votes to confirm.

5. Democrats continue embracing socialism while thinking less of capitalism

— The Democratic Party’s embrace of socialism is nothing new. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats view socialism positively, which has changed little since 2010. Only 16 percent of Republicans view socialism positively.

— The party’s view of capitalism continues to decline with only 46 percent viewing the American economic system positively.

4. Governor Kay Ivey continues to talk about issues while her opponent talks about debates

— Gov. Ivey’s focus on education and business matters, she touts investment in pre-K and that Alabama was named the nation’s “Best Business Climate” in the nation.

— Democrat nominee, and former AEA field representative, Walt Maddox continues to release videos about a debate that is just never going to happen.

3. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) makes it clear that Trump and Congress are serious about the Space Force

— While the idea of the Space Force has been mocked because it is an idea from the Trump administration, Alabama’s Rogers believes this new agency is very important. He said, “China set up their own separate space service a year and a half ago, and Russia reorganized before that — we are way behind the curve on it”.

— Rogers drove the point home that space is important to our war-fighting capabilities, saying, “People have to understand that we have become heavily dependent on space to fight and win wars, that’s our eyes and ears for the military.”

2. Sixty-six percent of Americans want the Mueller probe wrapped up

— Polling released this morning show that Americans want special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation wrapped up. This crosses party lines with Democrats and Republicans wanting it over for different reasons.

— The poll also shows 70 percent of Americans think Trump should testify “if asked.” Only 34 percent approve of how Trump has handled this investigation, and Trump’s approval rating is now at 42 percent (higher than Reagan, Clinton and Carter at this point).

1. Embattled FBI Agent Peter Strzok becomes the latest official fired by the FBI

— While the focus is on the anti-Trump e-mails that the agent sent to his lover, there are other issues including him sending a sensitive search warrant to his personal e-mail account, and he made the decision to drag his feet to examine new e-mails related to the Clinton investigation.

— The FBI clearly had some issues in their handling of these investigations in late 2016, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) pointed out how disastrous that period has been for the FBI with a tweet that laid bare all the discipline issues within the FBI with former Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe being fired, Chief Counsel James Baker and FBI Counsel Lisa Page being demoted. All of these issues stemmed from the Clinton/Trump investigations.