Category Archives: Gun Policies

Pandora’s Drone

By Michael Bryan

Note: This is a think piece that has been languishing in my drafts for some time. I am publishing now in order to see what, if any, feedback readers may have, not in response to any current events, although it does briefly touch upon the terrorist attack in Charlottesville in my last revision.

In a complete reversal of American norms before 2001, Americans have come to expect that our foreign, sub-state political foes will be dealt with by assassination. That might seem a shocking assertion, but the policy of targeted killings of those identified as enemies of the United States by drone can only be euphemized, not denied. Bush and Obama placed such assassinations at the heart of our military strategy against those groups and individuals seen as a terrorist threat to America, and regardless of who the President might be, that tool will not be disposed of unless its use is wholly rejected by Americans. Given that no great outcry or mass movement has yet denounced the continued use of drone assassination in our foreign policy, it seems very likely to continue. In fact, Donald Trump has re-authorized the CIA to carry out its own drone strikes, lowering accountability and reporting requirements in place under Obama, when only the military was empowered to carry out lethal drone operations.

Our desire for the perception of safety and demand of bold action by our leadership against possible terrorist threats has swamped any scruple we may once have held against merely murdering our geo-strategic enemies. We have always killed in war, but killing specific people, and all persons believed to be members of designated organizations, anywhere they may found, even in countries we are not hostile to, is a new thing entirely. But no modern politician will run the risk of being accused of not having done everything possible when the next mass casualty attack on American soil comes, as it inevitably will, therefore a tactic that began as an expedient use of a new technology in a crisis seems to have become the centerpiece our de facto anti-terrorism strategy.

Americans seem to have decided that extra-judicial state murder, even of some American citizens, is justified in our fight against terrorism. Despite the fig-leaf of “due process” of review within the executive branch that was constructed around the practice by the Obama administration, targeted drone strikes and so-called signature strikes on suspected terrorist activity are extra-judicial executions, pure and simple. We may hide behind the fiction that we are “at war” with some ill-defined terrorist organizations and thus those killed are “enemy combatants,” and any innocents killed as a result are unfortunate “collateral damage”, but this only semantics. Since we are not going invade Pakistan, or Somalia, or Yemen, or Syria, or (re-re-re-invade?) Iraq, or any of the other failing or weak states where terrorist cells might find sanctuary, in order to end the threat of these sub-state organizations pose to our security, we are going to continue to fight these “wars” with proxies, intelligence assets, and drone strikes. We will continue to make targeted killings, i.e. murder, a key component of our foreign policy.

My point is not to suggest an alternative, or even to suggest that the policy is necessarily wrong or immoral. There may be no more effective, more politically acceptable, or more morally inoffensive alternative. My point is to question what effect this will have on the evolution American political culture, and on the normative behavior of governments visa-vis their own citizens – including our own toward us.

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The NRA’s False Choice

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing, but this article written by Marine officers (there are no former Marines) is just too “on target” (please pardon the pun) not to share. I have nothing to add other than I agree entirely, especially with these two sentences:

“Indeed, true patriotism is not partisan, and the love of country and exercise of Constitutional rights is not the purview of any one group.”

“We renounce the false choice presented by the NRA that Americans need to pick a team between the First and Second Amendments.” Continue reading

Gun nuts day at the Arizona legislature (updated)

First, the good news …

On a 14-16 vote the Senate killed SB1243 which would have allowed those who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon to bring them in to public buildings. Building operators could maintain that gun-free status only by installing metal detectors and hiring security guards. Senate again kills bill allowing concealed weapons in public buildings:

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, the sponsor of SB1243, made no comment as the measure went down to defeat for a third year in a row.

Republicans Kate Brophy McGee of Phoenix, Frank Pratt of Casa Grande and Bob Worsley of Mesa joined with Democrats to provide the margin for defeat.

That alleviates the need for Gov. Doug Ducey, who has promoted himself as a supporter of the Second Amendment, to have to decide between the rights of gun owners and cost to governments — including the state — if they decide to install metal detectors and hire guards to keep their buildings free of weapons.

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AZ Supreme Court hears oral argument on punitive local government preemption law

I posted on the background of this case last year. Authoritarian Tea-Publicans impose ‘Big Brother’ control over local governments:

TheBorgGovernor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch Industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, got what he wanted from our lawless Tea-Publican legislature this week.

They are like the Borg on Star Trek: “Resistance to our authoritarian GOP rule is futile, you will be assimilated.” Ducey gets bill penalizing cities for countering state policies:

State lawmakers late Wednesday sent Gov. Doug Ducey a bill that will allow him to enforce his demand that local governments fall into line with state policies.

SB 1487 (.pdf) allows any legislator to ask the attorney general’s office to investigate whether a local ordinance or policy is contrary to state law. If the attorney general finds the state statute is being violated, the local government would be given 30 days to bring their local practices into compliance.

But what really gives the measure some teeth is that the failure of a city, town or county to comply would require the state treasurer to stop providing state aid and redistribute those dollars to every other community.

And if a local government disagreed, the case would go directly to the state Supreme Court for a final word.

Yeah, you see the problem with this bill is that it empowers the Attorney General, not a court of competent jurisdiction, to sit as judge and jury without a trial, and whoever heard of an Arizona Attorney General being an impartial arbiter of the evidence and not politicizing the AG office with an eye towards running for governor or another office? Have we so readily forgotten Tom Horne?

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Heads Up: The Con-Con is Coming

US Constitution

 

For years Tea Partiers have been pushing for a Constitutional Convention (AKA Con-Con) for a balanced budget and more.

The Con-Con has passed the Arizona House of Representatives several times, but stalled in the Senate. This year there are four Con-Con bills on the agenda for the Federalism, Property Rights and Public Policy Committee on Tuesday, January 31.

HCR2010 (Townsend) declares that the Arizona Legislature wants a Constitutional Convention. (Concurrent resolution with the Senate.)

HCR2006 (Thorpe) includes a wish list of changes to the Constitution. (Concurrent resolution with the Senate.)

HCR2013 (Mesnard) calls for a Constitutional Convention for a federal balanced budget. (Concurrent resolution with the Senate.)

HB2226 (Mesnard) also calls for a Constitutional Convention for a federal balanced budget and includes details of the balanced budget. (House only bill.)

In previous years, the Con-Con bills were stopped at the door of the Senate by former Senate President Andy Biggs, who resigned the Legislature to run for Congress. Biggs is so opposed to the Con-Con that he wrote a book about it– The Con of the Con-Con.

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ICYMI: ‘gun nuts week’ at the Arizona Lege

With all the other crazy shit going on in the world this past week, you may have missed “gun nuts week” at the Arizona Lege.

First up, Shannon’s Law, enacted in 2000 with the support of Governor Jane Dee Hull and even the NRA. Shannon’s law is named after Shannon Smith, a fourteen-year-old Phoenix girl killed by a stray bullet in June 1999:

While she stood in her backyard talking on the telephone with a friend, a stray bullet hit her in her head, causing instant death. Smith’s death sparked a furor among Arizona residents. Her funeral was attended by approximately 1,300 mourners. A monument, made with melted metal from confiscated firearms, was raised in her honor at her middle school by her classmates and friends. Tens of thousands of dollars in donations for the monument were primarily raised by Shannon’s friends and classmates holding car washes.

A violation of Shannon’s law is defined as a felony offense in Arizona. The gun worshipers and ammosexual gun fetishists at the Arizona Citizens Defense League now want to gut Shannon’s Law. Panel votes to gut Shannon’s Law on gun discharges:

Arizona gun owners would be able to escape being prosecuted under “Shannon’s Law” if they say it was just an accident that they fired their gun into the air.

On a 6-5 margin, the House Judiciary Committee voted to say that criminal negligence in discharging a weapon within a city would no longer be a felony. Instead, prosecutors would have to show that someone knowingly or recklessly shot off a few rounds.

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