By Brian Bethune - Monday, February 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
In conversation with Brian Bethune
Tom Diaz, 72, is one of the most prominent gun control advocates in the United States. A former senior policy analyst at Washington’s Violence Policy Center—which considers firearms violence to be a public health issue rather than criminal issue—Diaz wrote Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America in 1999. It explored the links between political lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun manufacturers. Last year, dismayed by a decade of increasing gun violence and what he considers political indifference to it, Diaz wrote—before the Newtown, Conn., school murders—The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It.
Q: You were an NRA man years ago, someone who grew up with guns and was comfortable around them. What changed your thinking?
A: I ended up on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Crime and Criminal Justice, and I was the only staffer, literally, on that committee who knew anything at all about guns, so they said, “Okay, now you’re going to do the gun legislation.” And a couple of things then snapped me out of my comfortable gun world, especially a hearing about the impact of firearms on children. I interviewed kids and it shocked me what 10-, 11-, 12-year-old kids were talking about—one had actually seen her best friend shot down in the street. And, you know, we thought it was bad then, but it was really only the beginning of the trend in the U.S. The kids’ testimony rolled me back; I thought, “This is not the gun world I grew up in. This isn’t target shooting. It’s not even hunting, it’s just killing machines.” And so, like Saul on the way to Damascus, I suddenly became a convert to gun control. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 10:28 AM - 0 Comments
On Dalton McGuinty’s response to the tragic Newtown shooting
Canada is not the United States.
It shouldn’t be necessary to make such an obvious observation. But with the premier of Canada’s largest province apparently overlooking this fact, it seems worth repeating.
In one of his final policy moves before retiring later this month, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty recently announced a “locked-door policy” for all 4,000 publicly funded elementary schools in the province; and a $10-million fund to pay for new security systems so school visitors can be “buzzed in.” This in response to the horrific shooting of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.
“In the aftermath of that tragic event that unfolded in the U.S., I think there’s an important question that we need to ask ourselves: are we taking all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of our kids at school?” McGuinty said in making the announcement. Continue…
By Scaachi Koul - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM - 0 Comments
Assumptions, agendas, insensitivity, and idiocy were all in evidence on this difficult day.
After a mass shooting in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado killed 12 and injured 59 people, the response was immediate. There was everything from outpouring of grief to estimations of why 24-year-old suspect James Holmes may have opened fire during a screening of the new Batman movie.
Take, for example, this since-deleted tweet from Celeb Boutique, an online women’s clothing boutique. “#Aurora is trending,” they wrote, “clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;)” followed by a link to the product. The company eventually deleted the statement and sent a series of flustered apologies, explaining that they hadn’t looked up what Aurora was trending for, and aren’t a U.S. based company. The internet was less than impressed.
There was also this from the American Rifleman Twitter account, the “official journal of the National Rifle Association,” sent this morning. “Good morning, shooters!,” they tweeted. “Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” The account has since been deleted.
The comments section here at Maclean’s were no exception: user RaymondofCanada wrote, “I guess the media won’t tell us if the killer yelled ‘Allāhu Akbar’ before his attacks,” on our story about the Colorado shootings. There has been no confirmation of the shooter’s motives as of yet, religious or otherwise.
But it wasn’t just the average internet user getting in trouble online for poor taste following a tragedy. Assistant Culture Editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Marlow Stern, caught this link on DEADLINE before it was removed: “But How Will Tragedy Of Colorado Mass Shooting Affect Today’s Batman Opening?”
Obviously not the first question to ask after 12 people are murdered in a dimly-lit movie theatre.
Of course, no collection of bad reactions to gun violence is complete without the poorly-chosen words of a politician. “It does make me wonder,” said Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert from Texas, “with all those people in the theatre, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?”
During that grieving period that comes after an inexplicable act of violence, it’s often best to not say anything until all the facts are out.
Maybe our mothers were right: if you can’t say something nice—or educated—then maybe don’t say anything at all.
By Alex Derry - Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 5:58 PM - 22 Comments
Why the Giffords shooting isn’t out of character for the desert state
Having recently returned from Washington, where she was sworn into her third term in the House of Representatives, Gabrielle Giffords and her aides arrived at a Tucson Safeway to meet and greet her constituents on the morning of January 8, 2011. As one of Arizona’s more conservative Democrats and the only Jewish woman in the state’s history to serve in Congress, Giffords was a popular centrist politician in a state whose political representatives have often gone off the ideological deep end.
When the news spread that Jared Lee Loughner, 22, had allegedly turned a gun on the crowd, killing six and wounding 14, with Giffords as his intended target, it was greeted with shock and disbelief. How could America have fallen so far? Could the national debate have grown so vitriolic that people now turn to their guns to express their dissatisfaction with the order of things?
Perhaps such utter disbelief is a little naïve. After all, as Stephen Lemons of Phoenix News described Arizona, it is a place where “there are very real ideas at war with each other.”
Giffords herself represents Arizona’s conflicting political dichotomies. She is a hawkish “blue dog” Democrat in favour of tighter border security. She has defended SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration bill, calling it a cry for help from a state that was desperate for action on comprehensive immigration reform. Arizonan journalist Terry Greene Sterling explains that while she is by no means a polarizing figure in the state’s politics, “she walked an increasingly political tightrope in her sprawling southeastern Arizona district.” Her constituency, Sterling says, was a loose patchwork of “employees of military bases, Minutemen, retirees, borderland townsfolk, meth dealers, Tucson suburbanites and cattle ranchers.”
In Arizona, even law enforcement is tainted by the state’s divisive politics. Pima County Sherriff Clarence Dupnik, a friend of Giffords’s and an opponent of SB 1070, said in a press conference following the shooting that Arizona is a “Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” In contrast, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of neighbouring Maricopa County is a militant opponent of illegal immigration. He has regularly rounded up Hispanic people suspected of being illegal immigrants and thrown them into Tent City, a Guantanamo-like detention centre that even he has described as a “concentration camp.” His harsh tactics have made him the subject of a Federal Grand Jury investigation for civil rights violations.
Gun ownership in Arizona is not as politically divisive an issue as it is in the rest of the United States. While critical of the state’s lax gun laws and draconian immigration policies, Sherriff Dupnik has also advised Pima residents to arm themselves, saying the Tucson Police Department doesn’t have the resources to protect residents. A strong supporter of the second amendment, Congresswoman Giffords also owns a gun and has described herself as “a pretty good shot.” Her weapon of choice is a Glock 9, the same make of gun that Loughner allegedly used to shoot her through the back of the head at point-blank range.
During the 2010 mid-term election campaign, Nevada Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle invoked a troubling and archaic interpretation of the constitutional right to bear arms. Angle’s supporters, she warned, were increasingly looking to “Second Amendment remedies” as a means to “turn this country around.” The rhetorical symbolism of the gun used by frontier state conservatives is not a recent trend. In 1961, Arizona’s native son and archconservative Barry Goldwater declared “we’re not going to get the Negro vote as a block in 1964 and 1968, so we ought to go hunting where the ducks are.”
In the meantime, Arizona has kept its law books clear of all but the most rudimentary restrictions on gun ownership. Last January, Governor Jan Brewer signed a law allowing Arizonans to carry concealed weapons without a permit. This law allowed Loughner, reportedly motivated by political passions, to buy a Glock 19 handgun almost a year later. He passed the instant background check despite a history of unstable behaviour (he had been suspended from Pima Community College due to “mental problems”), because his name never appeared on the National Instant Background Check System.
Decades of financial mismanagement have left Arizona teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, forcing it to make massive cuts to social services, including mental health counseling. It is now a state where vigilantism rules the border, and where guns are freely allowed in universities and the state legislature. Loughner’s crime may be no one’s fault but his own, but is it really that much of a surprise that it happened in Arizona?
By selley - Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 3:08 PM - 4 Comments
Must-reads: Don Macpherson on Mario Dumont; …Murray Campbell on how politicians shouldn’t deal with
Shuffling towards liberty
Who will be in Stephen Harper’s new cabinet? And will they be allowed to speak?
Sun Media’s Greg Weston believes it’s “safe to say that [PMO communications director Kory] Teneycke has achieved more for his boss through improved relations with the national press in three months than his predecessor did in three years,” and he suspects that newfound spirit of (more) openness will translate into Harper’s new cabinet as well. It’s not just that the PM is softening up, of course. Part of it, an unnamed insider tells Weston, is that his ministers simply have more experience. So those who “know how to conduct themselves and their office,” in the insider’s words, will have more wiggle room. Implicit in that statement, it seems to us, is that there will still be ministers who don’t know how to conduct themselves and their offices. We can’t wait to find out who they are.
The Calgary Herald‘s Don Martin says Jim Flaherty is a lock to stay at finance and wear the goat horns for what seems sure to be a significant deficit. Continuity is a good thing in troubled times, he argues, but it’s also just desserts, since Flaherty’s the one who “whittled down the inherited Liberal surplus to where he sits now on the film of a bursting fiscal bubble.” Harper himself “is notorious for calling the shots,” of course, so Flaherty may not be entirely to blame. But given his “quibble-worthy performance” overall—notably slagging off Ontario repeatedly, apparently just to satisfy a personal grudge—it’s difficult to muster much sympathy for the guy.
By selley - Monday, July 14, 2008 at 3:11 PM - 0 Comments
Must-reads: …Graham Thomson and Scott Taylor on Afghanistan; Dan Gardner on missile
Power to the people
On the end of cheap oil, the dawn of trans-Canadian hydroelectricity, the Green Shift, and that total hack, John Lennon.
In the Montreal Gazette, L. Ian MacDonald says inter-provincial electricity transmission is the “whole new game of Canadian federalism,” as Ontario—”we’re talking about 40 per cent of the Canadian economy here”—struggles to meet its electricity needs even while it still burns coal, and Quebec and Newfoundland ponder where best to direct their excess hydroelectric capacity. Except for Newfoundland’s bitterness over its disastrous arrangement to sell power to Hydro-Québec at 1969 prices, MacDonald says “selling to Ontario, through Quebec, [would make] the most sense.” And if anyone can soothe Danny Williams’ jangled nerves and bring him on board, he believes it’s Jean Charest. Included in the Premier’s limitless arsenal of talents, MacDonald opines, is that he’s “very good at relationships.”
Lorne Gunter renews his many objections to Stéphane Dion’s Green Shift in the National Post: federal revenues are only fat and happy during this “economic slouch” because of Albertan oil sales, thus it’s unfair “to make the West the bad guy”; Alberta and Saskatchewan families would suffer a disproportionate burden under the scheme, one that would dwarf the fiscal imbalance Dalton McGuinty’s constantly complaining about; and it’s not an environmental plan anyway, but, in the helpful words of Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff, “the most aggressive anti-poverty program in 40 years.”