Friday, June 15, 2018

Another Way For Progressive Democrats In Rural Districts To Look At The Gun Issue


At least a third of the residents of Washington's 3rd district-- which stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascades and covers the southwest corner of the state-- live in Vancouver and the suburbs north of Portland, Oregon, just over the Columbia River. Although Obama won there in 2008, Romney did in 2012 and in 2016, Trump beat Hillary 49.9% to 42.5%. When conservative Democrat Brian Baird unexpectedly retired in 2010, the Democrats ran an unsavory self-funding conservative, Denny Heck, and he was beaten by Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler (53-47%). She's a custom-made GOP back bencher who basically does nothing at all. The PVI of the district is R+4 but the Democrats haven't put up a serious candidate against her since then. This year may be different.

There are 4 Democrats competing in the primary Dorothy Gasque, Martin Hash, Carolyn Long and David McDevitt. People hunt in this district and there's more than a little controversy over guns. Many people in the suburbs are mostly concerned about safety and many in small towns and rural areas are more concerned about not being told what to do. Right now Blue America is in the beginning stage of vetting Carolyn Long and we noticed her position on guns was different from what we usually hear from our candidates. But well thought out and interesting. I asked her to do a guest post for us.

An Innovative And Grounded Gun Policy That Will Save Lives
by Carolyn Long

Guns factor into so many deaths in America each year that you could be forgiven for mistaking our death statistics for those of a war-torn nation. It seems nearly every American is separated by an instance of gun violence, whether fatal or only terrifying, by a degree or two. The all too common scenario of a school shooting, a nightclub massacre, or workplace violence, grip the Nation’s attention and invoke terror.

I am a professor in Southwest Washington and the proud mother of a 13 year old girl. After I drop her off at school and head to the university for work, the intrusive thought occasionally hits me that it may be the last time we will ever see each other again. I cannot watch the shaky video from within Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School without thinking of my own daughter’s shaking hands. This is not something that anyone living in a modern and developed nation like ours should ever have to think about. It is a national tragedy, and the inability of our federal representatives to deal with it appropriately is a disgrace we cannot justly hand down to our children.

The crucial discourse about gun violence has descended into talking points, buzz words, and idealistic proposals. Our discourse is polarized between Americans who feel a passionate connection to their Second Amendment rights and those who fear sending their children to school and will do anything to assuage that fear.

As for elected officials, many are led to their positions on guns by special interest groups. This is the case for Jaime Herrera Beutler, the current Congresswoman in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District where I’m running to take her seat and bring leadership to the District.

The first, and most obvious step, in addressing this challenge is to deal with the complete lack of funding for the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. It was only a few months ago that the Dickey Amendment was repealed, allowing the CDC to study this public health crisis. Funding is a crucial first step in formulating gun safety policy based on hard data and science. Basing our decisions on science allows us to debunk bogus claims made by the NRA and will put pressure on legislators to pass effective, lasting legislation. In the interim, we should focus on enforcing-- and funding the enforcement of-- laws that are already in place.

 We can do more to address gun violence. We can enact bipartisan, common sense gun safety measures. Measures that already enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the Americans. These include:
Improve, Expand, and Fund Universal Background Checks
Close the Gun Show, Charleston, and Stalker Loopholes
Increase the punishment for anyone who sells a weapon to, or purchases a weapon for, any person that is not legally allowed to own one
Ban bump stocks and any other conversion devices that increase a weapon’s rate of fire beyond manufacturer’s specifications
Increase the age to purchase assault weapons to 21
Provide funding for states and municipalities to establish buy-back programs
The Republican Party often frames gun violence as a mental health issue. Meanwhile, they consistently vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act while failing to present any serious alternatives. If they invoke mental health crises as a reason for gun violence, then it is imperative that they establish parity for mental health treatment and coverage while protecting it as a pre-existing condition. Yet they refuse to do so.

When it comes to the treatment of assault-style weapons, we must avoid the mistake of failing to properly define “assault weapons,” resulting in the exclusion of certain types of weapons and the inadvertent inclusion of certain hunting and sporting weapons. We also have to avoid the desire to pass ineffective legislation that is easily circumvented and ignores the fact that there are an estimated 8 to 15 million assault weapons already owned in the United States today.

That said, assault weapons are weapons of war and should be treated as such. We should think of them as we think of machine guns, rocket launchers and artillery. This is why I support the expansion of the National Firearms Act to include them. We require people to earn a license to drive a car, certainly we can require a similar level of training and background check to operate another deadly machine. Doing so, while providing a window of opportunity for current assault weapons owners to get a NFA permit, provides a legal path to ownership for law-- abiding gun owners, limits new and “person-to-person” sales to people who have been properly vetted by the ATF, and will leverage a process that is already in place and is effective at accounting for, and regulating weapons of war.

A heavy focus of the conversation on assault weapons through the lens of the horrific and tragic school shootings that are currently plaguing our country is warranted. It is important that we also recognize the largely unspoken fact that the majority of gun deaths in this country are caused by handguns and that they too must factor into any comprehensive discussion on gun violence. The fact that the victims are disproportionately people of color and the victims of domestic violence cannot be overstated and speaks to a wider cultural divide in our country. Nor can we hide from the fact that the majority of gun deaths are due to suicide.

We need to work together to find realistic solutions for this national epidemic and my opponent has demonstrated, both throughout her 4 terms in office and her accompanying NRA “A” Rating, that she has no desire to do so. We have an opportunity in November-- as we do every two years-- to remake the House of Representatives. We can do this while respecting and protecting the rights of millions of responsible gun owners and making everybody safer.

Please join me in my effort to Put People Over Politics.

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At 6:44 PM, Blogger Steven Dorst said...

This is, hands down, the most well thought out and articulate policy statement on gun control I've seen from a politician in a long, long time.

While I prefer a few other things she doesn't mention (Hello! Magazine capacity restrictions?), I would have no qualms about supporting her - assuming vetting doesn't reveal that her actions have been at odds with these words.

I am particularly impressed by her desire to fund actual science. Too many of our politicians are eager to rely on false assumptions or preconceptions when what they should do is say, "This is what I've heard, but I don't really know, so let's find out."

At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the limp dicks have their steel penises. It won't mean a thing to an Abrams or a Hellfire.


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