The NRA has pushed back claiming that there is no gun show loophole. This denial is based on semantics. Perhaps it should be called “the private seller” loophole (because private sellers aren’t under the same standards as federally-licensed firearm dealers). Nevertheless, these private sellers/occasional dealers often sell specifically at gun shows.
Consequently, unlicensed sellers may sell firearms without conducting background checks or documenting the transaction in any way. In addition, because federal law does not require private sellers to inspect a buyer’s driver’s license or any other identification, there is no obligation for such sellers to confirm that a buyer is of legal age to purchase a firearm. As a result, convicted felons, minors and other prohibited purchasers can easily buy guns from unlicensed sellers.
According to a 1999 report issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the current definition of “engaged in the business” often frustrates the prosecution of “unlicensed dealers masquerading as collectors or hobbyists but who are really trafficking firearms to felons or other prohibited persons.” A June 2000 ATF report found that unlicensed sellers were involved in about a fifth of the trafficking investigations and associated with nearly 23,000 diverted guns.
“In 33 states, private gun owners are not restricted from selling guns at gun shows. Buyers who purchase guns from individuals are not required to submit to the federal background checks in place for licensed dealers. Critics say that firearms can be obtained illegally as a result, calling it the “gun show loophole.” Proponents of unregulated gun show sales say that there is no loophole; gun owners are simply selling or trading guns at the shows as they would do at their residence.”
Some time ago I read a book called Patriots and I ran into a glaring historical inaccuracy which I’ve since come across in other places: That FDR somehow “gave away” a huge chunk of Europe to Stalin (thus planting the seeds for the cold war).
According to the book:
“…Roosevelt, who was quite ill at the time, and Stalin sat down…they decided right then and there how they would carve up Europe after the war…I don’t know why historians have glossed over the Yalta conference. I think if more people paid attention to it, Roosevelt wouldn’t have such a positive reputation. The bastard gave away half of Europe to Stalin.” p. 296
But historians have not glossed over the Yalta conference; the narrative here is simply misleading (if not inaccurate). Here are some facts about the Yalta conference:
Germany had not yet surrendered (and Soviet Russia was an important ally)
The Russians were already within striking range of Berlin (and already occupied Eastern Europe).
Recently mayor Bloomberg made the following remark:
I do think there are certain times we should infringe on your freedom, and that is, for example, if you’re drinking, we shouldn’t let you drive, because you’ll kill somebody else. If you are carrying a gun, we shouldn’t let you on an airplane. There’s a lot of things that we do — if there’s asbestos in the classroom we should remove the kids from the classroom until you clean the air.
Predictably, the right wing media is allover the portion in bold and of course, this is being repeated by the ever-faithful. No doubt, this selective quote will be added to the list of out-of-content quotes that ‘prove’ (insert conspiracy theory here).
As the budget debate heats up the GOP will continually throw around phrases like “entitlement spending.” As always, they are masters at crafting their message in a convenient and misleading manner. The uninformed reader/listener/viewer is left with the notion that the GOP simply wants to cut funding to junkies who refuse to work and instead, sit home collecting welfare and food stamps.
In reality, what they are referring to is Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. These programs are the bulk of ‘entitlement spending,’ which Republicans are adamant about slashing in order to balance the budget.
Cutting Spending or Raising Revenues?
The GOP continually mentions cutting spending and is entirely reticent to President Obama’s idea of raising anymore taxes on the wealthy or closing tax loopholes for them. There is just one problem.
Compared to the early 1980’s…
1-Federal Spending as a percentage of the economy is only slightly higher 2-Wealthy Americans (and corporations) have seen major tax cuts 3-Wealthy Americans (and corporations) have become far richer while working Americans have seen their real income fall
As stated in a previous blog post (Bad Pro-Gun arguments) gun stats allow for a lot of convenient cherry picking. In reality, the stats are bit more muddled and difficult to draw a conclusion from. While there is clear pattern of lower gun deaths in states with stricter gun laws, overall murder/non-negligent manslaughter rates, burglary, robbery, forcible rape and motor vehicle theft. For example, Louisiana is one of the states with the most lax gun restrictions and also leads in terms of murder/non-negligent manslaughter. Aside from this, there isn’t much of a discernible pattern. The states with the highest rates of forcible rape (South Dakota, Alaska and Colorado) have among the loosest gun restrictions (something to keep in mind given the fact that opponents of gun control often cite the availability of guns as effective deterrents of this crime). Nevertheless, there is no overall discernible patter as an in most cases, the states with the loosest gun restrictions (the lowest Brady Scoring) often have the best and worst rates. The scatter plots below use Brady Scoring as a measure of gun law strength and FBI/UCR crime stats.
Social Media (Facebook especially) has made it easier to access opposing views and interact with those who hold them. This timely book covers the online exploits of a few Facebook personalities who, in the final months of the 2012 elections, trolled conservative (especially Tea Party) Facebook pages with inconvenient facts.
Anyone who has trolled such pages with factual rebuttals knows that their posts are often deleted and their accounts blocked from further posting. Fortunately, Truth be Trolled contains some screenshots of such trolls (sometimes eloquent and factually-based, sometimes merely insulting) and preserves them in this well-written book. Continue reading →
Piers Morgan recently interviewed Alex Jones (or at least attempted to) on the topic of gun control (watch video). Piers Morgan attempted to begin the discourse the lens of gun-related deaths which are significantly higher in the US (according to Piers, the number was 11,000 in the US vs 35 in the UK). Piers never got any further than this as the majority of this ‘interview’ was a one-way dialogue with Alex Jones ranting about the New World Order and constantly insulting Morgan and the UK in general. Judging by the reactions coming from mainstream news outlets as well as blogosphere and social media, this did more to harm the anti-gun regulation crowd as Piers looked ready to discuss facts while Jones came off as an aggressive bully and paranoid conspiracy theorist. Continue reading →
The gun control debate has always fascinated me because both ‘sides’ have a wealth of stats they can cherry pick from in order to make their case. However, what I have seen coming from the self-ascribed “pro gun” crowd (a bit misleading because it implies that any argument for tighter gun control or regulation makes a person “anti-gun”) amounts to a plethora of really bad arguments that I sometimes find difficult to believe that even they find truly convincing. In my discourses with highly zealous anti-gun law Continue reading →
The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ deal included allowing the payroll tax holiday to expire. This tax holiday actually began under Obama so it’s merely going back to the same rates they were when Obama was inaugurated. Nevertheless, many on the right are screaming over the ‘tax increase’ and claiming this is an example of Obama breaking his promise not raise taxes on lower and middle/income earners.
Given the firestorm this has created, one would think that the sources of said firestorm would have expressed elation over the payroll tax holiday and credited Obama with lowering taxes then. One would of course, be wrong…
Spells out what’s wrong with our economy, how we got into this mess,
and how we can get out. He also lays out the many ways Republicans
have slowed down the recovery by blocking legislation meant to speed
up the recovery, as well as shifting the focus away from the jobs
crisis to a false debt crisis (which can only be solved by getting
jobs back on the table in the first place).
Details the policies of the last few decades that got us to the situation
we are now in (a recovery that’s hampered by the decades of wealth
disparity that’s left us with a middle class with little buying power
and unable to create the demand that would speed up the recovery).
This book also lays out the steps for recreating the America that
was host to a strong middle class where hard work meant a living wage.
Former President Bill Clinton explains how our 30-year anti-government
policies have gotten us to the mess we are currently in, and provides
a strategy for economic recovery and a strong economic future.
Ever wanted a completely data-driven view of political parties and
their effects on GDP growth,median incomes? Do tax rates really affect
GDP or revenue growth? Which party is better for the middle class
in general? Here's a hint: These metrics do not bode well at all for
Republicans nor their small government mantras.
Ha –Joon Chang takes on 23 of the most prevalent “free market” notions
to task, chapter-by-chapter. Chang uses international and historical
comparisons as well as anecdotes to make his case. This is essentially
23 chapters of free market myth-busting.
Explains the instances where markets fail at properly evaluating costs
against potential risks and rewards. Also delves into economic history
and includes the works and views of Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, and
Written in 2008, Obamanomics lays the case for Obama’s economic plan.
A great read for those looking for anyone interested in what Obama’s
economic platform looked like from the point of view of mainstream
If you've never spent a waking moment in an Economics class, or have
simply forgotten all of the easily forgettable facts and stats that
seemed irrelevant at the time, this is the book to start with. Learn
how the market operates, and how the government's role plays out in
relation thereof. Learn what the Fed does.
Paul Krugman takes us through the creation and virtual demise of the
middle class and basically explains how we (Americans) have been duped
by the Reagan-era/free market mantras and false promise that the wealth
would trickle down.
Long story short, James Galbraith explains why conservatives in political
office have abandoned the idea of unfettered free policies they espouse (mainly, because they've failed in practice). Galbraith explains how these
free market policies have failed in practice and advances the argument
that politicians should cease paying lip service to a system they
don't believe in.
Few things are as obscure, confusing, and misunderstood (and therefore
easily subjected to vilification and countless conspiracy theories)
as the Federal Reserve. In Fed we Trust takes you through the history
and origins of the Fed (and the concept of a central bank in general).
It makes a great gift for that annoying Ron Paul follower in your circle