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Category Archives: 074 Politics and Culture

Another Perspective on “Arming Teachers”

Jon Alexander has raised some serious challenges to the concept of “arming teachers” to strengthen security in our schools. Allow me to shift the debate somewhat by adjusting its fundamental assumptions.

Speculation isn’t necessary

In the U.S. today, at least fourteen states have laws on the books which allow school boards to authorize concealed carry of firearms by school staff, under various conditions, while ten more states do not restrict concealed carry to school staff members only, although most of them still require specific, individual permission of the governing school board. The number is growing every year: last year, Wyoming joined; this year bills are pending in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Meantime, in Ohio alone, over 1,000 trained school staff members are carrying concealed handguns in more than one-quarter of the school districts in that state. In South Dakota, Texas, Colorado and other states, significant and growing numbers of school staff members are already legally carrying concealed firearms – while Utah has allowed anyone with a state concealed carry permit to carry a firearm on school property for going on 19 years.

So, this is not a new idea; quite the contrary. We have a considerable amount of experience with it, and because of the decentralized approach, wherein state laws and school board policies differ, we have quite a variety of experiments underway.

How is it working out? Famously. While mass shooters have not been particularly deterred by the presence of uniformed School Resource Officers (Columbine High School and Parkland, Florida being particular examples), there is no evidence of a single school shooting taking place in any district across the country where trained, non-law enforcement school staff members are carrying concealed weapons. Correlation is not causation, but that fact cannot be easily dismissed.

There are also zero examples of injuries resulting from the kind of mishaps commonly predicted by the skeptics: no accidental shootings, no rowdy students shot by frustrated teachers, no gun take-aways by students. They’re just not happening.

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DETERRENCE = Unidentified Armed Defenders, In Unknown Locations.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 7.35.03 AM

Concealed carry of firearms by school staff – or church cadres, or businesses, or even just broadening the right to legal concealed carry by civilians – provides the ability to defend innocent lives in the first seconds that they come under attack, when police are minutes away at best. While some in our society have difficulty grasping that simple concept, even more push back against the assertion that this capability actually deters attack, and that the deterrence is far more powerful when it is in fact concealed carry by unidentified persons, whose presence, location, numbers, and response cannot be predicted by a would-be offender.  Some people understand this concept implicitly, while others do not. We are asked, “Where’s your data?” We point to the absence of mass shootings where people are known or likely to be armed, and especially to public schools in districts across 24 states that allow concealed carry by non-law enforcement (under a variety of conditions and requirements, but the skeptics ask, “How can you prove that the absence of shootings there has anything to do with concealed carry by permittees in their schools?” Well, here’s the answer: there’s no definitive data. There’s no proof. This is not something that can be established statistically. It requires critical thinking, common sense, and some experience-based understanding of how humans think, plan, and act in the arena of violence.

In 2015, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Craig Broyles submitted his Master’s thesis at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Titled Military Maneuver Terrorism, it addresses the threat against the U.S. and the West of terrorist attacks involving multiple attackers using small arms, explosives, and other low tech, like those that occurred in Mumbai, India (2008), at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (2011), and at the Beslan school in the Russian republic of North Ossetia (2004). He cites, among many other sources, a piece that I wrote as a research paper at the Naval War College in 2007 and published in Homeland Security Affairs in 2008: Paramilitary Terrorism – A Neglected Threat, which made several of the same points. We both applied similar concepts that are familiar to people schooled in risk management, threat assessment, intelligence, and the operational and strategic arts.

LTC Broyles recommends several potential remedies to this threat but points out that deterrence is the most important strategy against the threat of a large, organized armed group of terrorists attempting a mass casualty attack. If such an attack is executed, regardless of how well we respond, the consequences will be terrible. Better to keep it from happening at all.

One thing that terrorist organizations have in common with most of the apolitical psychopaths who perpetrate mass shootings is a penchant for planning, and especially a desire for their action to go off according to plan, without a hitch. They study their target, and if they don’t select a target because it is undefended, they have carefully prepared plans on how to circumvent or defeat whatever defensive element is there. Unpredictability is their worst enemy. They have one shot at it, either because it’s an individual who plans to die on site when he is done, or an organization that risks irreplaceable resources by coming out of the shadows to execute an attack.

The presence of an unknown number of unidentified armed defenders, in unknown locations, with response plans and specific training and rehearsals that the attacker cannot find out, is precisely the kind of thing that discourages or deters them from ever acting. “Beginnings are delicate times” as some sage said, and the chance of having your grand one-off final curtain event come apart in its first minutes, because of stout resistance you were unable to predict, is literally a show-stopper.

LTC Broyles points out the obvious – that, because of the unpredictability it creates, concealed carry of firearms by American citizens, everywhere they can (and therefore presumably do) carry, deters terrorists and other bad actors. The jihadist killing spree on the streets of Paris in November, 2015 has not occurred on the streets of any American city, and I can think of one primary reason why. We should be working to extend the distributed security provided by discreetly armed citizens into more locales, rather than fewer. Arm school staff, arm church security teams, arm business associates in the workplace. The police cannot be in these places to protect us – though we welcome and rely on their assistance – but we can.

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Bill Tallen is Executive Vice President – Tactical Operations of Distributed Security, Inc. Prior to joining the enterprise he had a 20 year career with the Department of Energy, where he served as a Federal Agent, team leader, unit commander, training instructor, and manager in the agency which provides secure transportation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials within CONUS. He helped to found DOE’s Special Response Force program, developing and teaching urban and close quarter battle techniques to Federal Agents charged with recovery of lost assets. He has designed and conducted a variety of wargaming efforts in support of vulnerability assessments, security system design, and leadership training, and has taught a variety of crisis decision making models. Bill holds the degree of Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. 

Envy Kills (the root of America’s poblems)

greeneye envy

The gunman who attempted to slay Republican Congressmen at a baseball practice had a Facebook feed. Before it was deleted, everyone could read his vitriolic attacks on the rich, his denunciations of capitalism and corporate culture, his calls for high taxes and wealth redistribution, and, of course, his push for Bernie Sanders to be the ruler of us all. We all know the litany of gripes that drove him.

When was the last time you heard a sermon against envy or observed a media figure casually recognizing its evils? And yet, when the folks at National Public Radio were reflecting on his motives, the hosts declined to speculate. They feigned to be completely mystified how a happy, charming, good soul such as this could have turned to violence. Had the tables been turned – say an alt-right agitator had shot up a civil-rights protest – there would have been no question about the motivation.

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How To Beat Terrorism by L. Neil Smith

Away, way back in 1977, when I began writing my first novel, _The Probability Broach_ (still in print, after four decades), I was regarded as something of a nutcase because I argued that American society would be a much better, safer place if everybody who wanted to, carried a gun. I was by no means the first to do so, nor was I the only one at the time, but, except for Robert A. Heinlein, Elmer Keith, and the ghost of H. Beam Piper, I often felt very much alone in my simple, straightforward, common-sense advocacy of exercising one’s natural rights under the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Now, of course, forty years later, armed self-defense has become a social movement. The degree to which I share responsibility for that is debatable, but I am proud of any part I may have had in it.

Last weekend (no, I am not changing the subject) was a pretty lousy one for peace and civil order in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Egged on by various evil shamans (one of them in the States), Islamic terrorists employed an automobile and big knives to wound and murder dozens of innocent individuals who were trying to enjoy a warm summer evening—in a near-Arctic climate that doesn’t offer many of them—and whose only “crime” was that they did not choose to follow the benighted religious precepts of a 7th century Arab merchant-trader.

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Georgia Fugitives Captured by Home Owners

Yes, we can.

The bravery of a homeowner put an end to the three-day long manhunt, Fitzhugh said.
The inmates had run through the woods to a home on Pruitt Road, near the rural community of Christiana.

“The homeowner was alerted somehow, he looked outside and saw the suspects trying to steal his vehicle,” Lt. Bill Miller from the Tennessee Highway Patrol said late Friday.

The homeowner called his neighbor and both men, each armed with a gun, confronted the fugitives…

Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe after their capture.

Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe after their capture.
Source: CNN

Rebuttal: America’s Lethal Politics

The New York Times is at it again.

Less than 24 hours after an assassination attempt on members of the United States Congress the editorial board published an article entitled America’s Lethal Politics.

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.

They pointed out how an assassination attempt on Gabby Gifford after Sarah Palin ordered the execution and how the mission failed because of an incompetent right wing killer.  Oh, wait, I may have gotten that wrong.  Actually, Sarah Palin used the “T” word, yes I mean Target, and that somehow caused Jared Lee Loughner, age 22 to murder 6 people.  She was also targeting districts, not people.

Loughner was a nut job, a fruit cake.  There is no evidence that his actions were politically motivated and even less that he was a Conservative.  CBS News noted in 2011 that a former friend of Loughner’s wrote:

he (Loughner) had once been ‘very liberal’ and added, ‘he was leftwing when I knew him in high school and college, 3 years ago. So he may have changed, who knows.”

The NYT then goes on to say: 

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Does National Defense Require the State?

Gordon Tullock used to taunt anarchists by asserting that if the USA abolished its government, people would not have to worry about the Russians taking over the country because “the Mexicans would get here first.”

This little story actually incorporates a common objection to anarchy—namely, the idea that because, if a country abolished its government, other countries would not necessarily follow suit, the governments of those other countries would be free to, and would, simply take over the country that, lacking a government, also lacked an effective means of defending itself against takeover by a foreign power.

This thinking presumes at least two critical ideas: first, that defense of a population requires a government that rules that population; and, second, that if a government has the power to take over another country, it will do so.

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High Fashion For The Pistol-Packing Woman | Georgia Public Broadcasting

Deets said women like her are savvier today than ever before when it comes to their firearms and their fashion. “The demand is greater so we as women have stepped up our standards. We don’t have to settle for something that is tactical or ugly or cheap. We’re not willing to compromise fashion for function.”

Source: Georgia Public Broadcasting

Actually, Repealing Obamacare Wouldn’t Kill Anyone

The best statistical estimate for the number of lives saved each year by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is zero. Certainly, there are individuals who have benefited from various of its provisions. But attempts to claim broader effects on public health or thousands of lives saved rely upon extrapolation from past studies that focus on the value of private health insurance. The ACA, however, has expanded coverage through Medicaid, a public program that, according to several studies, has failed to improve health outcomes for recipients. In fact, public health trends since the implementation of the ACA have worsened, with 80,000 more deaths in 2015 than had mortality continued declining during 2014–15 at the rate achieved during 2000–2013.

Key Findings

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Dooming Illinois?

Illinois Might Be Doomed to Financial Collapse

Once of the reasons that tax increases in Washington are such a bad idea (and one of the reasons why a value-added tax is an especially bad idea) is that the prospect of additional tax revenue kills any possibility of genuine entitlement reform. Simply stated, politicians won’t do the heavy lifting of fixing those programs if they think can use a tax hike to prop up the current system for a few more years.

However, if we don’t fix the entitlements, the United States faces a very grim fiscal future regardless of new revenue because the burden of government spending will be expanding faster than the growth of the private economy.

Indeed, tax hikes presumably will accelerate the problems by weakening economic performance, creating an even bigger gap between the growth of government spending and the growth of productive output. Sort of a double violation of my Golden Rule.

Tax Payers Are Escaping

Well, the same thing is happening in Illinois.

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Kansas student activist group “warns” foreign embassies about campus carry law

I hope out of the 160 foreign embassies she wrote she included the 107 countries that have higher homicide rates and tighter gun control than the United states. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

“Meaning many international students at Kansas universities would be surrounded by firearms without the legal right to also carry one — making it potentially even more dangerous for these students,” she wrote. “Considering the shooting of two Indian men who were presumed to be ‘Middle Eastern’ by a white supremacist in Olathe, Kansas last week, international students, especially those from certain countries or regions, are at a greater risk of being the victims of deadly violence once this campus carry law goes into effect.”

Source: guns.com

A Reignited War on Weed Will Harm The American Economy

The Last Thing America Needs Is a Reignited War on Weed – FEE

The marijuana legalization movement has been holding its breath, waiting to see how President Donald Trump will address the issue.

Public opinion and state law have leaned heavily in favor of decriminalizing the controversial cannabis plant over the last several years, signaling the inevitable downfall of the government’s war on drugs.

However, as numerous state victories gave advocates hope that the end of prohibition was near, the unexpected election of Donald Trump threw the legalization movement a curveball no one was anticipating.

Legalized marijuana is projected to create a quarter of a million jobs by 2020.

While the future of marijuana in America is still unclear at the moment, if Trump wants to keep his campaign promises of job creation and financial growth, he should strongly consider the economic benefits of marijuana legalization.

The Future is Green

As a presidential nominee, Trump spent much of his campaign promising national job growth. Reaching out to the blue collar working class, Trump promised to bring jobs back to American manufacturing.

However, if Trump is serious about fostering an environment of economic prosperity and job creation, he may want to set his sights on the burgeoning marijuana industry instead.

According to a recent report released by New Frontier Data, the marijuana industry is projected to create more than a quarter of a million new American jobs by the year 2020.

By the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ own projections, the legalized cannabis industry is expected to outpace growth in any other sector over the next few years, including American manufacturing. In fact, manufacturing jobs are expected to decrease by 814,000 over the next seven years.

Additionally, the marijuana industry is currently estimated to be worth about $7.2 billion. Given its current success and expected trajectory, the entire industry is expected to grow at a rate of 17 percent annually.

Likewise, the New Frontier Data’s report estimates that the medicinal market alone will increase its worth from $4.7 billion to $13.3 billion by the year 2020.

Of the 25 states that have decriminalized cannabis in some capacity, seven of those states have allowed for its recreational use. As a result, the recreational industry is also expected to increase its worth from $2.6 billion to $11.2 billion by 2020.

While these projections are bound to have positive effects on the national economy and create a plethora of new American jobs, the estimates will never come to fruition if the Trump Administration decides to backtrack on the progress made thus far.

Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana

Had Hillary Clinton won on election night, as many had expected, it is highly unlikely that the war on drugs would have suddenly come to a screeching halt.

Not only is Clinton’s own track record on the matter weak, but her husband also contributed greatly to the perpetuation of the problem.

Former President Bill Clinton helped escalate the war on drugs through his support of mandatory minimum sentencing laws and other policies that were prevalent during the “tough on crime” era of the 1980s and 1990s.

However, Mrs. Clinton’s terrible track record on the issue does nothing to excuse Donald Trump, should he make the same mistake.

 “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

While Trump is not a strict ideologue by any means, he has unfortunately chosen to surround himself with advisors and cabinet appointees who have struck fear into the hearts of advocates of marijuana policy reform.

Trump’s decision to nominate Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General only heightened this paranoia among his critics.

Sessions has been a longtime supporter of civil asset forfeiture, which essentially incentivizes law enforcement to use the drug war as a pretext for stealing property from anyone merely suspected of drug-related activity.

As if Session’s support for highway robbery weren’t bad enough, he has also gone on the record making outlandishly biased statements including, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Since Sessions has the legal authority to impose federal drug laws on the states, this comment is quite concerning, to say the least.

While Trump’s own comments on the matter have been somewhat neutral, Press Secretary Sean Spicer added fuel to the fire last week when he hinted that the White House might soon begin enforcing federal marijuana laws once again.

Under the direction of former Attorney General Eric Holder, the federal government agreed to more or less “look the other way” when states made the decision to legalize cannabis. This policy has allowed states like Colorado to add over $1 billion worth of revenue to their local economy and create new jobs for its residents.

Just a few days ago, Sessions publicly recommitted himself to the drug war by saying:

“I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot. I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that.”

Ironically, the war on drugs, which Sessions adamantly supports, is responsible for that increase in potency, as economist Mark Thornton has demonstrated.

According to “the Iron Law of Prohibition,” when substances are prohibited, black market providers are incentivized to increase potency because more potent forms take up less storage space, are easier to transport, and sell for more money. This is considered necessary to mitigate the risk of being caught and incarcerated.

Session’s Reefer Madness-inspired statement is absolutely frightening considering his position of authority as Attorney General of the United States of America.

The White House might actually begin enforcing federal marijuana laws once again.

But in the spirit of maintaining optimism, there is still reason to hope that Trump’s alleged commitment to economic growth will overpower the draconian beliefs held by some of his cabinet appointees.

The Economic Savior

Trump was elected as the “no nonsense” businessman who was going to fix our national economy and create jobs for the American people. As America’s “economic savior,” his supporters firmly believed he was the candidate who would restore prosperity to the middle class. This is the promise that ultimately got him elected to the highest office in the land.

Since assuming office, he has shocked the public by actually fulfilling most of his campaign promises— which has been both slightly encouraging and downright terrifying.

While there can be no defense of his love for protectionist policies, he has still maintained his support for a free market economic system.

If this is true and he is as committed to economic reform as he claims to be, then perhaps the economic repercussions of marijuana legalization can change his mind, or at least drown out the backward influence of his advisors.


Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter is an associate editor at FEE. Brittany studied political science at Utah Valley University with a minor in Constitutional studies.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Billionaire Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son plans to invest in singularity

Insightful and a first mover…

Billionaire Softbank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son revealed Monday (Feb. 27) at Mobile World Congress his plan to invest in singularity. “In next 30 years [the singularity] will become a reality,” he said, Tech Crunch reports.

“If superintelligence goes inside the moving device then the world, our lifestyle dramatically changes,” he said. “There will be many kinds. Flying, swimming, big, micro, run, 2 legs, 4 legs, 100 legs,” referring to robots. “I truly believe it’s coming, that’s why I’m in a hurry — to aggregate the cash, to invest.”

“Son said his personal conviction in the looming rise of billions of superintelligent robots both explains his acquisition of UK chipmaker ARM last year, and his subsequent plan to establish the world’s biggest VC fund,” noted TechCrunch — a new $100BN fund called the Softbank Vision Fund, announced last October

Source: kurzweilai.net

Trump And Russia: Just Pointing Out The Obvious — Capitalist Exploits

Chairman Trump may well be a child in a man’s body – erratic, lacking in finesse, as articulate as a gangsta rapper, contradictory, and missing the cognitive functions allowing one to think before acting. But.. But… he does seem smart enough to have thought a little about Russia. Thought alone is a welcome surprise from Washington.

The establishment for their part are fuming!

First their rice bowls are at risk, and to top it off they’re now publicly mocked. To egomaniacs this is worse than acne to a prom queen. As I mentioned a couple weeks back the mockery has come thick and fast:

CNBC’s John Hardwood decided to conduct a Twitter poll to see who the American people trusted when it came to the DNC hacks. Did they believe Wikileaks, who deny Russian involvement, or do they believe the intelligence community who has blamed Russia despite ZERO hard evidence being shown to the public?

The results were shocking and it stunned the media elite!

 

The absurdity over Russia has turned into a social meme. Few buy the narrative and those that do increasingly find mainstream thinking to be questioned.

Source: Capitalist Exploits

Don’t Ruin A Chance for Tax Reform with “Border Adjustments”

Don’t Ruin A Chance for Tax Reform with “Border Adjustments”

As part of an otherwise very good tax reform plan, House Republicans have proposed to modify the corporate income tax so that it becomes a “destination-based cash-flow tax.”

For those not familiar with wonky inside-the-beltway tax terminology, there are three main things to understand about this proposal.

  • First, the tax rate on business would drop from 35 percent to 20 percent. This is unambiguously positive.
  • Second, it would replace depreciation with expensing, which is a very desirable change that would eliminate a very counter-productive tax on new investment outlays. This is basically what makes the plan a “cash-flow” tax.
  • Third, any income generated by exports would be exempt from tax but the 20-percent tax would be imposed on all imports. These “border-adjustable” provisions are what makes the plan a “destination-based” tax.

I’m a big fan of the first two provisions, but I’m very hostile to the third item.

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Off duty officer vs. Mike Strickland’s escalation of force: Something is wrong here…

 

“The confrontation began over ongoing issues with juveniles walking across the officer’s property,” Anaheim police said in statement Wednesday.

This is most interesting.

You can watch the OODA Loops spin out of control as communications break down and either the wrong tactic is used or no tactic is selected at all due to the Sympathetic Nervous System or “SNS” reaction.

As the SNS response continued to rise all parties were beginning to think with their survival brain, hence the continued decline in communications which lead to anti-social behavior.

While one could write an article on the video tearing apart the officer’s tactics, or lack thereof (a training issue, not the officer’s fault). I won’t.

And while one could write an article critiquing and condemning the society and education system that fostered such blatant disregard for individual and property rights, I won’t do that either.

I will, however, state that had both sides had a modicum of respect for each other, other’s property rights, abided by the NAP, and had just a little bit of training, all these unpleasantries could have been avoided.

Unfortunately, we aren’t there yet, fortunately, were closer than most think (thanks technology!).

In the end, I hope the officer doesn’t face the same unjust consequences that as Mike Strickland is now facing for making the same sensible decisions to protect his life.

After all, two wrongs don’t make a right. And while a badge shouldn’t grant extra rights, it shouldn’t mean you have any fewer rights either.

Source: nypost.com

Repealing Obamacare Is Not Enough

American health care is not very effective in curing diseases. The National Center for Health Statistics projects over 1.6 million new cancer cases and almost 600,000 cancer deaths for 2016. Among those who suffer heart attacks, fewer than 50% are alive five years later.

Republicans do not want to repeal the regulations that make healthcare expensive and ineffective.

Medical treatment is so expensive that people need insurance to survive financial catastrophe in case they become ill or get hurt. Even middle class folks who need extensive medical care cannot begin to pay the costs. Those facts supported demand for Obamacare, the halfway point on the road to socialized medicine.

Republicans argue that American medicine was the finest in the world, with only minor problems, until it was ruined by Obamacare. But American medicine has been plagued with extraordinarily high costs and ineffective treatments for many years.

According to Forbes.com, in the Commonwealth Fund’s 2014 healthcare survey of the eleven wealthiest countries, the USA came in last.

Republicans campaigned to repeal Obamacare. But they waffle about its replacement, because they sense they have no answers to the problems that predated the disastrous Affordable Care Act. Republicans want medicine to be inexpensive and effective, but they do not want to repeal the morass of regulations that make it expensive and ineffective.

A Brief History of Medical Regulations

After the Civil War, there were virtually no regulations of medicine in the United States. People would choose their doctor and treatment, and doctors would thrive or languish according to the exigencies of the market. Profit-seeking medical schools flourished and graduated many practitioners.

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After Orlando shooting, Florida Republicans want to eliminate gun-free zones

A rose by any other name…

Seems rather desperate when one is forced to use the same regurgitated, unpopular, and failed arguments one has used in years gone by.

I do recall the same reactionary types calling Florida the “Gunshine State” because its citizens had the gall to support giving themselves more control over their own security.

This repeated itself time and time again, as it will continue to and should.

You can’t defeat a distributed threat by centralizing the response… most people sense this intuitively, hence the resistance to centralize.

“In the aftermath of the deadly Orlando nightclub and Fort Lauderdale airport shootings, two Republican lawmakers in Florida are pushing to eradicate the Sunshine State’s “gun-free zones” in a move that would put more guns in public areas. Sen. Dennis Baxley, of Ocala, and Rep. Don Hahnfeldt, of The Villages, want to allow people with concealed weapon permits to carry a deadly firearm nearly anywhere, including local bars, voting booths, courthouses, public schools, colleges and university campuses, airport passenger terminals and maybe even a Miami Dolphins game.”

 

Source: rawstory.com

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