Monthly Two Cents

Are Gun Rights more important than my Life?

BY GORDON SILVER

In the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers avowed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.” These are powerful words for they help to establish a platform upon which all democratic societies may be built and suggest we are all entitled to a certain quality of life.

However, my right to stay alive is in serious jeopardy by gun slingers who claim to have the right to bear arms according to the second amendment. The idea of gun rights was for a standing militia, and it is clear from these mass shootings that self-appointed militia have developed in our country. This conflict manifests itself over and over in the senseless mass shootings that seem to occur with regularity. The USA has more mass shootings than any other advanced country. In one study, it has been estimated that 31% of public mass shootings occur in the U.S., although it has only 5% of the world's population. And every time a mass murderer strikes, he deprives numerous law-abiding folks of their unalienable right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.

The love of guns in the United States has been well documented, as have multiple mass shootings across the country such as those in Orlando, San Bernardino, Newtown, and Virginia. The ease of access to guns in American society comes at a shocking cost.

Mass shootings drive headlines and political responses, but they comprise only 2 percent of gun deaths. Every year in the USA, a firearm is used in nearly 500,000 crimes, resulting in the deaths and injuries of more than 110,000 people. But the gun-lobby has effectively silenced the information on national gun violence research by encouraging legislation that restricts data collection of gun violence. Therefore, they deprive us citizens, policymakers and public health experts of potentially life-saving facts, which is our unalienable right.

The motor vehicle, like the firearm, is a quintessential American object. It expresses values of freedom, individuality and power. And like guns, automobiles were once a major threat to public health and safety. It is time to insist that we ought to probably test people and make sure there is as much licensing and regulation around a gun as there is around an automobile.

After the Charleston church shooting, President Obama said, "At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency." After the December 2015 San Bernardino attack, Obama renewed his call for reforming gun-safety laws and said that the frequency of mass shootings in the United States has "no parallel in the world".

“The right to keep and bear arms” from the Second Amendment of the US Constitution is the regular defense of current gun laws. This right is inherited from the militias who rebelled against the British during the American Revolution, and it allows Americans to own and use a firearm to this day.
The Founding Fathers wanted to protect their newly independent nation from the tyrannical rule of the ‘old world'. With the constitution in one hand and a rifle in the other, pioneers claimed the Wild West, and a new kind of citizenship was born.

But this gun culture was then exaggerated by the National Rifle Association, which has helped stoke sales of guns with a series of sensational fear-mongering ads aimed at taking 'gun owners' rights down to gut level.' The ads used garish photos, inflammatory copy, and hyped headlines to push for the use of firearms for self-defense. Typical captions included: 'Should you shoot a rapist before he cuts your throat?' and 'If you're attacked on your porch, do you want your neighbors to be opposed to gun ownership or members of the NRA?' It’s about time for us to demand from the NRA and their stooges, the gun manufacturers, what we demanded from the big tobacco companies. Legislation which would force them to advertise gun safety and the dangers of not reporting mental illness or identifying unsafe behaviors.

But every US citizen who acquires a gun claiming his second amendment right is also taking away my right to remain alive! A citizen’s right to life has greater merit than anyone’s right to own property, especially a gun. It’s time we choose to honor our forefathers Declaration, that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.

THE SWEETEST PANCAKE BREAKFAST EVER!

By Toni Radler

There is just one word to describe our post election Pancake Breakfast and that word is JOYOUS! It was like a great family reunion of all those who worked so hard for the many victories of the 2017 election. We were thrilled as Ralph Northam took the Governor's Mansion, thrilled when Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring swept the election for Lt. Governor and Attorney General. But then, the unpredictable, the unbelievable happened. Race after race came in as a win for us, not once, not twice, but an incredible fifteen times. For me personally, the cherry on top was the defeat of the political ogre, Bob Marshall. Blessed irony, he was beaten by one of those he claims to hate and consistently works against...a transgender woman. How sweet it is!

Unfortunately, our two good House of Delegates candidates were not in this victorious Democratic sweep. But to the Pancake Breakfast crowd's delight,  both have pledged to run again in two years. The Pancake Breakfast crowd was thrilled to meet five candidates for the Democratic nomination to run for Congress from our First Congressional District, including two of our own from the Hanover Democratic Committee--John Suddarth and Tom Hicks. Frankly, we usually have to beat the bushes within a leaf of their lives to find even one candidate. But this year, we have five really good candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

So the campaign season ends; the campaign season begins. Let's start from today to predict a win in 2018, to believe that with our hard work, we will have a win for Congress in 2018. We've got great candidates. And we've got a great team of workers--that's you. And we are ready to go again!

Vote on November 7

By Stan Scott

Now that we’re well into the age of Trumpism, elections take on more importance.  This isn’t because electing Democrats sends a message to President* Trump or Congress – it’s a simple matter of arresting a dangerous trend in American politics and policy.  Simply put, the forces of extremism have taken over the Republican Party. If we don’t elect Democrats to public office, “conservatives” like Ed Gillespie will turn Virginia into another example of how their policies create division, destroy communities, and damage the economy.

I could ramble on about how every vote counts, and cite examples of very close elections where only a handful of votes made the difference.  Fewer than a hundred thousand votes spread across four states put Trump in office, for example.  Right here in Virginia we all remember how close Ed Gillespie came to unseating Mark Warner to become a Senator – and that Mark Herring defeated Mark Obenshain by a mere 155 votes.  But anyone reading this already knows these stories.

Instead I’ll point out that Democrats simply must to get to the polls on Tuesday to make sure Mr. Gillespie does not become our Governor, and to elect Democrats to the General Assembly in order to stop this extremist Republican agenda.  Gillespie is a good lobbyist for corporations like Enron, and we need to send him back to that life while giving him some former GOP Delegates and Senators to take with him to K Street.  If he, Adams, and Vogel win, and hold a Republican General Assembly, we can expect them to move Virginia far to the right of where it’s people want to be. 

They’ll destroy the Virginia economy by cutting taxes on the wealthy, for example, just as Brownback and the GOP did in Kansas.  They’ll continue disrespecting women and their agency by making it more difficult for them to control their own bodies.  Gillespie et al would divide Virginians further by protecting monuments – erected more to intimidate minorities than celebrate heritage - to the men who committed treason in defense of slavery. They would make our streets less safe by helping terrorists, abusive spouses, and the mentally unstable purchase firearms more easily and carry them in grocery stores.  They would take away the health insurance that many or our neighbors have today only because Democrats changed the rules, and they would continue to reject billions in Federal money for Medicaid.  And they would further gerrymander and suppress voting to keep themselves in power.

Make no mistake: Trumpism isn’t about draining the swamp or challenging elites.  Trump himself is a New York billionaire who happily appointed Goldman Sachs executives to positions of power, and a Republican Party that nominates former lobbyists like Ed Gillespie to run for Governor is no kind of populist party. It’s about achieving every extreme fiscal, religious, and white supremacist goal the GOP has salivated to make real since Nixon won in 1968. 

In 2009, more than 26,000 people in Hanover County voted Democratic in a losing effort to elect Creigh Deeds Governor.  By 2013, this turnout among Democrats in the County fell to less than 11,000 as Terry McAuliffe defeated Ken Cuccinelli by fewer than 60,000 votes.  This year Hanover County Democrats can make a statement by giving Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, and Justin Fairfax more than 30,000 votes.  We have many more than that in the County.  Let’s all show up and let Donald Trump and his sidekick Ed Gillespie know how we feel.

Please vote on November 7th.  And take a friend – or ten – along when you go to the polls.

 

Don’t be Fooled By a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

by Daniel McGraw*

Recently, I had the distinct privilege of being accepted, through a lottery, to attend a town hall forum with Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor.  I spent several hours formulating my question: revising and rewriting, even had a few edits.  I wanted to ask Gillespie for his plan to institute raises for teachers, so that their pay could meet the national average.  The Democratic governor worked with the Republican-led General Assembly to do this for the state police last year.  Since teachers have not seen a true raise in over a decade, it seemed like a fair question.

The day to day of a high school democrat

By Maddie Lee
Hanover County High School Student

Every day I go to school and I am amazed by the number of people who vote and lobby against their own interests.  First, a bit of background information.  My school is redder than the necks of the Hanover County Tea Partiers.  My peers are so Republican that the day after Donald - “I’m a great business man even though I’ve filed for bankruptcy six times” - Trump got elected, I was greeted by giant American flags, Trump/Bush shirts, and overly patriotic shorts.  So, on top of my disillusionment with my country that it could make such a huge mistake, I was appalled that my friends could be brainwashed by the insane extremist Republican rhetoric.