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Monday, April 30, 2018

Mageau goes after anti-gun kids again

Charlestown curmudgeon calls kids “pawns”
By Will Collette
CLICK TO ENLARGE. This cartoon by Tom Tomorrow pretty much
answers Mageau and Latham.

If you read the Westerly Sun and its Letters to the Editor section, you may have noticed the frenetic team of Charlestown’s Jim Mageau and Westerly’s Mike Latham and their torrent of angry letters denouncing people who think that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to actually regulate and restrict guns.

Since the massacre in Parkland, FL Mageau and Latham have played tag team by mouthing National Rifle Association talking points to discredit the students who have organized protests sweeping the nation as dupes of the left and nefarious donors. 

Mageau had yet another letter to the editor in the Sun last Saturday.

They try to distract by saying the real problem is not gun murders but opioid overdose deaths because there is a higher body count.

Having planted that idea – that we should forget about gun violence and focus instead on opioids -  they again blame the kids for failing to turn in drug dealers, distributors and the cartels that supply them.

Out of this swirling word salad, Latham and Mageau conclude that all this points out why we must build Donald Trump’s Mexico Wall. Build the wall and all the problems go away.

Mageau also raises the matter of gangs shooting up neighborhoods in turf wars over the drug market.

Mageau has repeatedly said advocates of gun control need to “set up a registration table at the corner of Broad Street and Elmwood Avenue in Providence, so that the criminal gang members in that part of Providence can come in and register for a background check so that they can buy a handgun.” 

I'm not making this up. Mageau said it here and here

We move from the senseless murder of children to The Wall of Trump and a registration table in Elmwood along a path strewn with vitriol, insults, twists of logic, NRA fake factoids and just plain bullshit.

Let’s stipulate some points of agreement:
  • Killing schoolchildren with assault rifles is horrible.
  • Thousands of drug overdose deaths are also horrible.
  • Drug cartels and violent gangs are also horrible.
  • As a nation, we are capable of dealing with more issues than just one, although Mageau and Latham may not agree.

Related image
Attacking young people for speaking up and marching against gun violence is actually in the interests of nuts and drug-dealing criminals who want to buy guns. It is in the interests of the corporations that sell these weapons and fund the National Rifle Association to distract from the role guns play in these issues.

Why make the kids the issue? Simple. Fact-challenged ideologues like Donald Trump and Jim Mageau attack the messenger when they can't figure out how to attack the message.

Jim Mageau would have you believe students aren’t capable of drawing their own conclusions about what they experienced. They are also incapable of organizing a mass movement. Really? Well, Jim this isn’t the first time this happened. When I was their age, we organized ourselves against the Vietnam War and put together the first Earth Day in 1970.

Did the Parkland kids get funding, advice and support from adults and funders, as Mageau and Latham claim? 

I sure hope so. I’m sure there are thousands of individuals, groups and foundations that would gladly help these young people in any way they can. Even New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (a big Trump supporter) loaned the kids the Patriots’ corporate jet.

As Kraft explained:
“Think of little kids going to school and seeing bullets in America going over their head…Something’s not right, and we’ve got to fix it. And congratulations to these kids for trying to get the attention of this country focused on it. I hope our friends in Washington are smart enough to figure out a way to listen to one another and do something that can be positive.”
If George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who is the focus of many right-wing conspiracy theories, donated money to help them, then I say “thank you, George Soros.”

But, according to Ted Nugent, an NRA Board member, Soros and other gun control advocates and, I suppose, even Robert Kraft are bad people who deserve to be shot:
“Don’t ask why. Just know that evil, dishonesty, and scam artists have always been around and that right now they’re liberal, they’re Democrat, they’re RINOs, they’re Hollywood, they’re fake news, they’re media, they’re academia, and they’re half of our government, at least. So come to that realization. There are rabid coyotes running around. You don’t wait till you see one to go get your gun. Keep your gun handy, and every time you see one, you shoot one.”
It takes funding to build a movement and run any sort of organization. Just ask the NRA. The NRA admits that it has received a substantial amount of money from sources connected to the Russian government and commercial interests. 

In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the NRA acknowledged receiving money from 23 Russian interests since 2015. The FBI is investigating whether there is more.

Ask yourself, Jim: why would the Russians have an interest in keeping lots of guns on America’s streets (and classrooms)? Or in entertainment venues or churches or fast-food restaurants?

The kids themselves did a fine job of articulating THEIR proposals for ways to address our national gun violence crisis in their high school newspaper. I invite you to read this, Jim, and lay out what you think they got wrong - and why. Here is THEIR position:

Student Editorial

As a student publication, the Eagle Eye works to tell the stories of those who do not have a voice. Today, we are the ones who feel our voice must be elevated.

In the wake of the tragedy that occurred at our school on 14 February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, our lives have changed beyond what we ever imagined. We, along with our publication, have been transformed. We will remain so for the rest of our lives.

We have a unique platform not only as student journalists, but also as survivors of a mass shooting. We are firsthand witnesses to the kind of devastation that gross incompetence and political inaction can produce. We cannot stand idly by as the country continues to be infected by a plague of gun violence that seeps into community after community, and does irreparable damage to the hearts and minds of the American people.

That’s why the Eagle Eye has come together and proposed these following changes to gun policy. We believe federal and state governments must put these in place to ensure that mass shootings and gun violence cease to be a staple of American culture.

We will be marching this [marched] Saturday, 24 March, for those that we loved and lost, and we write this in the hope that no other community or publication will ever have to do the same.

The changes we propose:

Ban semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds

Civilians shouldn’t have access to the same weapons that soldiers do. That’s a gross misuse of the second amendment.

These weapons were designed for dealing death: not to animals or targets, but to other human beings. 

The fact that they can be bought by the public does not promote domestic tranquility. Rather, their availability puts us into the kind of danger faced by men and women trapped in war zones.

This situation reflects a failure of our government. It must be corrected to ensure the safety of those guaranteed the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Ban accessories that simulate automatic weapons

High-capacity magazines played a huge role in the shooting at our school. In only 10 minutes, 17 people were killed, and 17 others were injured. This is unacceptable.
That’s why we believe that bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and similar accessories that simulate the effect of military-grade automatic weapons should be banned.
In the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, 58 people were killed and 851 others were injured. The gunman’s use of bump stocks enabled vast numbers of people to be hurt while gathered in one of the most iconic cities in America. If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere. That’s why action must be taken to take these accessories off the market.

Establish a database of gun sales and universal background checks

We believe that there should be a database recording which guns are sold in the United States, to whom, and of what caliber and capacity they are.

Just as the department of motor vehicles has a database of license plates and car owners, the Department of Defense should have a database of gun serial numbers and gun owners. This data should be paired with infractions of gun laws, past criminal offenses and the status of the gun owner’s mental health and physical capability.

Together with universal background checks, this system would help law enforcement stop a potentially dangerous person before they commit a gun crime.

Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement

As seen in the tragedy at our school, poor communication between mental healthcare providers and law enforcement may have contributed to a disturbed person with murderous tendencies and intentions entering a school and gunning down 17 people in cold blood.

We must improve this channel of communication. To do so, privacy laws should be amended. That will allow us to prevent people who are a danger to themselves or to others from purchasing firearms. That could help prevent tragedies such as the Parkland massacre.

Close gun show and secondhand sales loopholes

Thanks to loopholes, people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy firearms are able to purchase them at gun shows and secondhand sales. The existence of these loopholes reflects the ineptitude of state and federal legislators.

If we are serious about preventing people from purchasing deadly weapons, we must monitor sales that take place at gun shows and on secondhand markets. This is especially urgent given the danger posed by mentally unstable and violent individuals armed with firearms.

Allow the CDC to make recommendations for gun reform

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be allowed to conduct research on the dangers of gun violence. The fact that they are currently prohibited from doing so undermines the first amendment. It also violates the rights of the American people.

It is hypocritical to rally people to protect the second amendment, while remaining silent on the ways that blocking research violates one of our most basic constitutional freedoms.

Raise the firearm purchase age to 21

In a few months from now, many of us will be turning 18. We will not be able to drink; we will not be able to rent a car. Most of us will still be living with our parents. We will not be able to purchase a handgun. And yet, we will be able to purchase an AR-15.

Why is it that we will be able to legally obtain a weapon that has the ability to fire over 150 rounds and kill 17 people in about six minutes? That is unacceptable. It makes no sense that to buy a handgun, you have to be 21, but a gun of mass destruction and devastation like the AR-15 can be purchased when one is just becoming an adult.

With the exception of those who are serving the United States in the military, the age to obtain any firearm must be raised to 21.

Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals

Federal and state government should earmark more funds specifically for mental health services. Those with mental health issues, especially those who express aggressive, violent, suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts should have the opportunity to receive the help they need regardless of their economic status.

Schools specifically should receive more funds in order to hire more psychologists and guidance counselors who can aid students suffering from PTSD, depression and other debilitating mental illnesses.

Many of those who commit mass shootings suffer from these kinds of illnesses. It is essential that more funds be dedicated to mental health research.

Increase funding for school security

We believe that schools should be given sufficient funds for school security and resource officers to protect and secure the entire campus. As a school of over 3,000 students, teachers and faculty, Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school was only supplied funds to hire one on-campus armed resource officer by the state.

Without backup, this officer’s hesitation proved to be disastrous and allowed for the senseless deaths of people who were killed on the third floor of the 1200 building. Though this idea has been proposed in the past, these funds should not be appropriated from the already scarce funding for public education. Governments should find resources to secure the millions of children that attend public schools without taking away from the quality of education that is offered at these institutions.

The Eagle Eye is the newspaper of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Editorial staff: Madyson Kravitz, Dara Rosen, Taylor Yon, Leni Steinhardt, Emma Dowd, Brianna Fisher, Zoe Gordon, Kyra Parrow, Carly Novell, Rebecca Schneid, Kevin Trejos, Suzanna Barna, Nikhita Nookala, Richard Doan, and Christy Ma