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11 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.)

7 hours ago

Aderholt named ranking member of appropriations subcommittee critical to north Alabama’s economy

On Tuesday, Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-4) was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, which funds NASA and the FBI, amongst other important economic engines.

In a statement, Aderholt said, “It is a great honor to be named the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. This subcommittee is certainly important to America, but even more so for North Alabama.”

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“This subcommittee is directly responsible for funding NASA and the FBI, along with the Department of Commerce,” Aderholt explained. “The FBI and NASA are two very important agencies to the economy of not only Huntsville, but also the northern portion of our state. NASA, of course, has a long history in this region and gave rise to Huntsville’s name as the Rocket City. And in just the past few years, the FBI has built a presence on Redstone Arsenal and is in the process of growing to a level of approximately 4,000 jobs.”

The congressman concluded, “With my leadership on this subcommittee, I will work to ensure that North Alabama continues to lead as we return to the moon, put boots on Mars and travel into deep space. And with the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, and growing footprint in North Alabama, I will also be a voice to let my colleagues know that North Alabama is in a prime position to be a hub for matters concerning our national security.”

Aderholt also serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

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

8 hours ago

Is Doug Jones a foot soldier in the Democrat Civil War for taking a shot at liberal darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

If you are Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) right now, you probably know you have almost no chance of being elected to a full term as a United State senator.

This obviously could change. Roy Moore could continue to crave the spotlight and enter a Republican primary field in 2020, but this is obviously a long-shot for him.

Complicating Jones’ life right now is a number of new Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They are outspoken, silly and contrary to the carefully crafted image Jones wants to sell to Alabama. Jones wants to be Mr. Moderate, a conservative-ish Democrat in the mold of former Congressman Bud Cramer (D-Huntsville), but he can’t do that if he is constantly dealing with a 24-hour news cycle where his fellow Democrats are acting nuts.

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Jones seems to know this, and the clearest way to distinguish himself from members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is to directly scold her to The Hill.

He said, “I think it skews what’s really there for the Democratic Party.”

Jones seems to want to differentiate himself from Ocasio-Cortez’s brand of non-stop Twitter trolling will endear her to the same media that can’t let a Trump tweet go without an analysis of its impact. But Jones didn’t stop there. He also thinks this style of bomb-throwing is ineffective politics.

“When it gets time to get things done, that’s what people are going to be looking at — they’re going to be looking at the middle-of-the-roaders because it’s the only way to get anything done,” Jones stated.

If recent history is any judge, Ocasio-Cortez will not let these comments slide without a response. The fight for the soul of the Democratic Party is on and Jones will likely find himself out-gunned and without many powerful allies.

In response to similar criticism from former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Ocasio-Cortez responded with the following tweet:

Will Jones double-down or will he slink back to his backbench for fear of his party’s base if she hits back?

For now, Jones sounds like he thinks his voters want him to get stuff done, but considering that Jones’ main accomplishment at this point in his Senate career is his vote against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation it is likely most Alabama voters would prefer he enjoys his time in Washington D.C. as a spectator before being sent home in 2020.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

9 hours ago

Trump AG nominee: Sessions ‘probably did the right thing’ in recusing himself from Russia probe

Attorney General-nominee William Barr on Tuesday said Jeff Sessions “probably did the right thing” in recusing himself from the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign, according to The Washington Post.

Barr previously served as attorney general from 1991-1993. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by committee chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the probe because he was involved in the Trump campaign.

“I am not sure of all of the facts, but I think he probably did the right thing recusing himself,” Barr said.

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This came the day after Sessions attended Alabama’s Inaugural Day festivities, including the swearing-in ceremony for all statewide elected officials and reception for state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

During Marshall’s event in the attorney general’s office building, Sessions said, “Do the right thing every day and usually things will work out… [well,] not always.”

After the laughter of the room started to subside, he added, “At least in the United States, when they fire you, they don’t shoot you like they do in some countries.”

Sessions’ relationship with President Donald Trump was eroded by the recusal and the president’s public attacks on both that decision and Sessions personally. He resigned at the request of the president in November.

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

9 hours ago

State Sen. Gerald Allen responds to judge striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act — ‘Judges are not kings’

On Tuesday afternoon, State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, criticized Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

Graffeo made the ruling Monday.

“Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly,” Allen said in a statement. “A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”

He continued, “Judge Graffeo has taken it upon himself to know and declare that it is ‘undisputed’ that the majority of residents of Birmingham are ‘repulsed’ by the Linn Park monument, and has thus ruled the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act void. But judges are not kings, and judicial activism is no substitute for the democratic process.”

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“The Memorial Preservation Act is meant to thoughtfully preserve the entire story of Alabama’s history for future generations. The law was vigorously debated for months by the people of Alabama’s duly-elected representatives in the State Legislature, and passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate,” Allen advised.

He concluded, “The Attorney General’s Office is confident that the Memorial Preservation Act is constitutional, and I look forward to the Attorney General’s appeal of Judge Graffeo’s ruling.”

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

10 hours ago

Judge voids Alabama law protecting Confederate monuments

A judge has overturned an Alabama law meant to prevent the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, ruling the act infringed on the rights of citizens in a mostly black city who are “repulsed” by the memorial.

The 10-page ruling issued late Monday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Michael Graffeo said a 2017 state law barring the removal or alteration of historical monuments wrongly violated the free speech rights of local communities.

The law cannot be enforced, Graffeo ruled, but the state could still appeal.

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The attorney general’s comment had no immediate response to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

The state sued the city of Birmingham after officials tried to remove a 52-foot-tall (16-meter)-tall obelisk that was erected to honor Confederate veterans in a downtown park in 1905.

Rather than toppling the stone marker, the city built a 12-foot (3.6-meter)-tall wooden box around it.

Birmingham’s population of 210,000 is more than 70 percent black, and the judge said it was indisputable that most citizens are “repulsed” by the memorial.

He rejected the state’s claims that lawmakers had the power to protect historical monuments statewide.

The law includes a $25,000 penalty for removing or altering a historical monument, but the judge said the penalty was unconstitutional.

The city has not had to pay while the lawsuit worked its way through court.

The ruling came hours after the inauguration of Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, who signed the law and opened her campaign last year with a commercial that prominently showed Confederate monuments.

“We can’t change or erase our history, but here in Alabama we know something that Washington doesn’t. To get where we are going means understanding where we have been,” Ivey said in the ad.

Supporters of the law contend it protects not just Confederate memorials but historical markers of any kind, but rebel memorials have been an issue nationwide since a white supremacist gunman killed nine worshippers in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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