Gun Laws

October 15, 2009

Props to Lucas for the link to this editorial from the Washington Post (who retain all copyright, legal disclaimer, etc).

Arm the Senate!

By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Monday, July 27, 2009

Isn’t it time to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation’s Capitol?

I’ve been studying the deep thoughts of senators who regularly express their undying loyalty to the National Rifle Association, and I have decided that they should practice what they preach. They tell us that the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry and that laws restricting guns do nothing to stop violence.

If they believe that, why don’t they live by it?

Why would freedom-loving lawmakers want to hide behind guards and metal detectors? Shouldn’t NRA members be outraged that Second Amendment rights mean nothing in the very seat of our democracy?

Congress seems to think that gun restrictions are for wimps. It voted this year to allow people to bring their weapons into national parks, and pro-gun legislators have pushed for the right to carry in taverns, colleges and workplaces. Shouldn’t Congress set an example in its own workplace?

So why not let Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) pack the weapon of his choice on the Senate floor? Thune is the author of an amendment that would have allowed gun owners who had valid permits to carry concealed weapons into any state, even states with more restrictive gun laws. The amendment got 58 votes last week, two short of the 60 it needed to pass.

Judging by what Thune said in defense of his amendment, he’d clearly feel safer if everyone in the Capitol could carry a gun.

“Law-abiding individuals have the right to self-defense, especially because the Supreme Court has consistently found that police have no constitutional obligation to protect individuals from other individuals,” he said. I guess that Thune doesn’t think those guards and the Capitol Police have any obligation to protect him.

He went on: “The benefits of conceal and carry extend to more than just the individuals who actually carry the firearms. Since criminals are unable to tell who is and who is not carrying a firearm just by looking at a potential victim, they are less likely to commit a crime when they fear they may come in direct contact with an individual who is armed.”

In other words, keeping guns out of the Capitol makes all our elected officials far less safe. If just a few senators had weapons, the criminals wouldn’t know which ones were armed, and all senators would be safer, right? Isn’t that better than highly intrusive gun control — i.e., keeping people with guns out of the Capitol in the first place?

“Additionally,” Thune said helpfully, “research shows that when unrestricted conceal and carry laws are passed, not only does it benefit those who are armed, but it also benefits others around them such as children.”

This is a fantastic opportunity. Arming all our legislators would make it safer for children, so senators could feel much more secure bringing their kids into the Capitol. This would promote family values and might even reduce the number of highly publicized extramarital affairs.

During the debate, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) quoted a constituent who told him: “When my family and I go out at night, it makes me feel safer just knowing I am able to have my concealed weapon.”

Why shouldn’t Vitter feel equally safe in the Capitol? Why should he have to go out on the streets to carry a gun?

The pro-gun folks love their studies. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) offered this one: “A study for the Department of Justice found 40 percent of felons had not committed certain crimes because they feared the potential victims would be armed.”

That doesn’t tell us much about the other 60 percent, but what the heck? If it’s good enough for Barrasso, let the good senator introduce the amendment to allow concealed carry in the Capitol.

Barrasso already dislikes the District of Columbia’s tough restrictions on weapons. “The gun laws in the District outlaw law-abiding citizens from self-defense,” he complained. So go for it, Senator! Make our nation’s Capitol an island of firearms liberty in a sea of oppression.

Don’t think this column is offered lightly. I want these guys to put up or shut up. If the NRA’s servants in Congress don’t take their arguments seriously enough to apply them to their own lives, maybe the rest of us should do more to stop them from imposing their nonsense on our country.



October 15, 2009

Hey guys, Sy blitzed this out to the execs and I wanted to share it with you, because I’d read it as well and it is a very interesting article.  It’s kind of long, but its about Obama as an author and its good stuff.  You should check it out.

Community Engagement

September 29, 2009

Some Thoughts From Chris Chavis on Involving the Dems in the larger community:

Getting things done in politics depends largely on your ability to rally support behind your causes and make connections that help get your voice heard. It is because of this that I feel it is extremely important that the College Democrats reach out to Democrats throughout the Upper Valley and work in collaboration with them to advocate for the causes that affect our daily lives. If we can get the citizens of the Upper Valley to work with us to lobby our elected officials then there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

I would like to start by working with local Democrats on health care issues. Health care reform is a major issue right now in the press. However, health care issues are not limited to the national reform effort. Here in New Hampshire, the state budget for last year included some cuts to Medicaid and these cuts are likely to affect the Upper Valley ( ) because of DHMC’s presence in the area. Other parts of New Hampshire will suffer as well. ( ). These cuts greatly affect the most vulnerable in our population, the elderly and the impoverished. I believe that as Democrats, we should work to ensure that these cuts aren’t permanent and that can best be accomplished through a coalition consisting of the greater community and ourselves.

In the future, I believe engaging the community could boost our issue advocacy efforts. Elected officials are likely more likely to listen to us if we can assemble a diverse coalition from a variety of age groups. I believe that our efforts would be greatly aided if we engage the community and get them directly involved.

Put Down Your Guns

June 1, 2009

Bret Vallacher

Opinion Article

“Put Down your Guns”

Response to:

Last week, my distinguished colleague, Blair Sullivan (“Stick to your Guns” May 21st 2009) wrote, “for Republicans to move towards the center would be harmful both to the country and to the Republican Party.” And she cited Powell and Maine Senator Olympia Snowe as examples of Republicans calling for the party to become more moderate.

While I can see that Sullivan clearly has the best interests of her country and her party in mind, I think that her proposal is detrimental to both.

First of all it’s not just a few Republicans crying out for moderation– it’s a sizable number of them. And they’re not crying out for moderation so much as they are calling for a retreat from radicalism and the brink of ideological irrelevance. From the party chairman, Steele, to the former party presidential nominee, McCain, (not to mention Senator Specter, noted political analyst and former Republican Congressman Scarborough, former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, and Senator Snowe), Conservatives are calling for a move to the center.  The list has at least 15 elected officials on it– all of them parading on Meet the Press and in other venues have reached a consensus: the Republican Party has become too radical and has lost its conservative roots. They are right. To become conservative, as it used to be known B.W. (before Dubya) would mean to scale back government, foreign wars, alienating and dehumanizing policies, and spending like drunken sailors. They all want a return to the Reagan years — a far cry from the spending spree and country-crushing Bush years.

While Sullivan correctly declares that it’s good to have different ideas and to compete for votes, the way to do so is to understand where the country is now: Center to Left. By dogmatically “sticking to [their] guns,” the Republican Party will gradually fade into obscurity, irrelevance, and eventually oblivion.

Sullivan’s observation that both parties shift in the direction of the winning party is empirically true, yet it has not created the disastrous results that she warns about. After the 80s, Democrats became much more moderate; Clinton was no Carter. The power of checks was not compromised but instead the two parties have swung back and forth like a pendulum, never reaching equilibrium on either side.  In other words, it’s natural for both parties to ebb and flow while adjusting to the will of the people.

Typically the defeated minority party undergoes a bit of soul-searching to discover just what their core values and beliefs are. Maybe a return to Reaganism isn’t the only alternative: Reagan wasn’t opposed to foreign wars but some contemporary conservatives (e.g., Pat Buchanan, Tucker Carlson) are.  Reagan favored social conservative values, which are sometimes manifest as interference in people’s private decision making, but some traditional conservatives are more in tune with the “hands off” libertarian philosophy.  Republicans seem conflicted about yet other issues: the Patriot Act entails eavesdropping yet conservatives tend to advocate an indomitable right to privacy and serve as proponents of an anti-Big Brother sentiment. Some Republicans favor environmentalism to protect God’s creation while others want to unleash corporate America and let it run uninhibited. Likewise, some Republicans call for immigration reform to keep the illegal immigrant population under control while others advocate an illegal immigrant boom for cheap labor.

The point is, Republicans should rethink where they stand on the big issues and let this drive their politics, rather than either (1) moving to the Center to capture the nation’s mood or (2) adopting a knee-jerk opposition to everything Democrats advocate.

This at least is true: “There is something inherently more appealing about an authentically liberal candidate (like Obama) than a candidate who adopts liberal policies merely to obtain votes (as some people believe Specter has done).” But to imply that McCain lost the election due to his left leaning proclivity is completely misguided; if anything, the country wanted the more liberal candidate. The few issues on which McCain took the conservative stance, he (according to all relevant polls) was out of step with the American mainstream. And Sullivan’s implication that the Republican Party lost because it tried moving to the center is factually incorrect– even before McCain was nominated, the generic “Democratic presidential candidate” walloped the generic “Republican presidential candidate” almost by two to one margins.

McCain’s becoming more moderate significantly increased his chances of being elected and brought him more in line with the main stream.  That is the lesson to be learned here: represent the interests of the American people and they will vote for you. So for all reasons, empirical, philosophical, and practical, the Republican Party should seriously consider opening a bigger tent.

We’re Back…

May 30, 2009

As everybody knows, last year’s election was very exciting and a lot of Dartmouth Dems participated in the busy election season.

The elections are over, but our work is not finished. So, our website and blogs are reloaded and ready to go for this year’s challenges!