by George Miller, 3-4-13
Epiphany Episcopal Church in Oak Park, CA held this event on 3-3-13. About 20 attended, at least 10% Tea Partiers there, primarily as observers. We were able to talk to most of the panelists and sponsor (Pastor). The small number of people reached says a lot. But, it was valuable just to observe their thought process, which is not 180 degrees opposed to ours- more like 75-90 degrees.
We collected much anti-gun literature from large stacks optimistically laid out. Lead piece is directly from the White House: wh.gov/now-is-the-time. "Obama" is using OUR money to push THEIR left-wing political agenda. Other stuff was church literature. Their national church is pushing unconstitutional bans hard. Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori testified to Senate Committee: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/notice/episcopal-presiding-bishop-pr....
They also had a list of gun-grabbing orgs and some other misc. stuff. They are at least on the right track on mental health issues, although soft on media violence and morality.
Sponsor would not allow direct questioning or follow-up questions, but had us write down questions on cards. Pastor was miserly in asking these, but surprisingly, did use one of my rather provocative questions.
Capt. Cory Cortright, Ventura County Sheriff's Dept, handles Control Operations, City of Thousand Oaks and East County unincorporated areas.
Dr. Tom Cody, CLU Masters Public Policy,. Criminal Justice Dept. (Retired Oxnard P.D.).
Claudia Bill-de la Pena, Mayor, Thousand Oaks, CA
Dr. Dan Jordan, Research Psychologist, Ventura County Public Health, Licensed Psychologist, a Director of Social Justice Foundation.
Host, Rev. Ken Johnson, Epiphany Episcopal Church, Oak Park, CA
It started late. Each panelist said his/her piece. No real interaction. That didn't take long at all, so moderator asked them to talk among themselves, audibly. A couple did soliloquies. Then we took a lonnnng break with really good eats and had a chance to talk to the pastor, his wife and some panelists. Afterwards, the host read some of the audience questions and panelists alternately answered, or simply substituted their own agendi.
Intro: Close background check loopholes, ban "military-style assault weapons," make schools safer, increase access to mental health service.
Keep in mind that intro addressed a fraction of a percent of gun violence- that which occurs in gun-free zones, perpetrated almost exclusively by young, white males, mental basket cases, usually on psychotropic drugs.
The intro did not address media violence, did not address morality, at all. This in a church.
Capt. Cory Rubright:
Attacks have affected law enforcement, school procedures. Enforce all laws, be proactive, not just reactive. Educating LE, doing threat assessments for community, specific schools, training Sheriff Dept. personnel. Promoting "if you see something, say something" program to generate leads, get to know community, potential threats. Implementing Coordinator program, with regular deputies paired with specific school administrators/schools. Build rapport, get to know schools, surrounding neighborhoods.
Background checks: 1.8MM sales refused ITD (A guy with me said that was only initial refusals). Background checks encompass only (estimated) 60% of sales. 33 states don't ban private sales. If guns are taken/confiscated by police for various reasons, do a more intensive background check for those people.
Neighborhood Watch/crime prevention is the way to go. "Intelligent policing," crime data analysis- be proactive.
Role of Churches- This forum may help.
Dr. Tom Cady:
Not going to take away Second Amendment (caveat: unless Constitution is changed). Already recognized no machine guns, bazookas. No complete gun ban. What's left is what's in between. Feels politicians have been too weak to stand up and restrict guns further. Their immediate goal is to get politicians to ban so-called "assault weapons," which we know as semi-automatic sport rifles.
(Never mentioned was that criminals will have them anyway and so will military and police. Only law-abiding citizens will lack them as a deterrent to both of the aforementioned).
Said CA Brady group says CA has the "best" gun laws in nation, but only rated "B-." "Still have a ways to go." CA is surrounded by states "not as controlled." Can't stage studies, so can only study actual occurrences. 270,000,000 guns, highest % of gun owners in world (actually untrue), 30% of households have gun(s). Outlawing guns owned by 30% of households would be "a problem" (sounds like he considered it.) Gun deaths 2X as likely in houses with guns, women 3X more likely to get killed by gun in houses with guns, suicides 10X more likely in houses with guns. (unverified and correlations, leaving out cause and effect, which he neglected to mention. Would a potential suicide be more likely to get a gun? Would he/she merely use alternate means, gun lacking?)
Ft. Hood, military base shooting: all those guns didn't prevent the mass shooting. (He failed to mention that the base has nearly all weapons secured, it is mostly a de facto gun-free zone. An MP finally came to the scene to end the carnage and wounded the Islamist fanatic perpetrator, who was recognized as a problem years earlier, but the politically correct Army morons refused to act).
Cady answered my question: how do you account for a 50% drop in gun deaths since the 1990's, while gun sales soared and laws actually laxed in most states?
- All crimes down. Is gun ownership a factor? (probably, but he tried to insinuate it wasn't).
- Guns mean a higher % of successful suicide (reduces or eliminates incompetency by other methods)
- First question when police show up- is there a gun in the house? Where?
- Houses with guns have greater fatalities
- (So, he never really answered it and twisted it for own purposes- maybe he should run for office.)
(Jordan also tackled question).
Video games don't cause violence, they are just a symptom of isolation.
The jail is the largest provider of mental health services in the county. Camarillo Hospital was never replaced by a community care system as envisioned.
(My take on this guy is that he's a "Big Brother" statist, believes in regulation to make people "do the right thing," because they're too weak and stupid to do it on their own. In business, we'd call him a "theory X" guy. Used auto regulation and reduction of deaths as his poster boy, never mind constitutionality.)
Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Pena:
It's all for the children. NRA very powerful lobby trying to drown out those wanting to control guns. Politicians afraid of NRA (as they should be). Gun control people are not going to touch Second Amendment (just legislate it away?). At conferences, it is acknowledged that we can't afford cops at every school, don't want to arm teachers/officers at schools. Most shooting deaths are suicides. Most suicides have history of mental disturbances. (she got that right, anyway- it's about 60%.) Gun control is a federal issue (Founders might not agree). Need grassroots movement for bans. 19-20 gun crimes YTD in Thousand Oaks. Need to alert people of dangerous, disturbed behavior of teens.
When asked for Second Amendment definition:
- Allowed to bear arms
- Country has changed since Constitution written (never mind the 27 amendments, but at least she didn't drag out the hoary "living Constitution argument).
- Can carry licensed gun for own protection
- Does not say can own bazooka, military-style assault weapons (note several panelists repeated identical talking points).
- She grew up where this is not allowed (Germany- and look what happened 1933-45).
Observed that meetings of school student parents on gun violence very poorly attended- parents don't seem to perceive a big problem (perhaps those meetings were also held on Sunday evenings?)
Dr. Dan Jordan:
Roots of violence are in "social inequality" the #1 issue, main factor. "Social Justice" (oh-oh, where have we heard that before?) is the answer. Teach gang leaders and other miscreants social responsibility. Make them advocates. (This was the cloeest thing I heard to morality all night, at the church).
Tired of stepping in what he can't change. What is the degree of serious mental illness in population. Most murders are first time events for perpetrators, who he said were previously law-abiding.
Our system is not capitalist, but is actually a "corporatocray/plutocracy." At that point, he felt the need to say he is not political, not Communist, not Libertarian, or anything (says the "Social Justice" guy). Classifies himself "a human rights activist." Wants to re-balance society's core value with equality.
In response to my question about 50% drop in gun deaths:
- Don't know if this is true (I thought he was supposed to be the expert- read FBI stats, Jordan).
- Even mental illness is tied to "inequality" (!)
- If more guns= safety, then we should be safest country in world (thanx, Mr. Alinsky)
- Large magazines are dangerous
Social justice. Social justice. Social justice.
Paranoid people think others are coming to get them . (Wasn't clear if he was talking about mentally ill people, or including all gun owners).
Religious orgs. should improve communications with the socially isolated.
Physical safety. Cooperate with police. Training. Schools are already very safe. Safer than the street, mall.
Increase sense of "connection" of students (never mind that most school mass shootings are done by non-students). Later he said that churches can also be a place for connecting. Fencing, physical security a waste of money. School guards too expensive - $100K per. (So, what DOES he want to do?)
Not every child will find "connections" at school. Houses of worship may be able to help.
Lamented that gun buybacks were abused- people sell junk gun sto buy better ones; dealers dumping dead inventory; someone even sold them a rocket launcher (they didn't mention that enterprising citizens arte outbidding the cheapskate buyback offers. They didn't conclude that buybacks have been relatively ineffective. Instead, nearly 5 milion guns were sold in two months, only dropping due to supply shortages).
This session focused mostly on the school mass shootings and semi-automatic sport rifles, which they erroneously classify as military assault weapons, and repeatedly labelled "weapons of mass destruction." This is a tiny percentage of both crimes and weaponry used. There was a recognition that people kill people, not guns, although also the claim that these guns make it too easy. One even said fewer suicides would happen without guns.
All panelists paid homage to Second Amendment, some resignedly, stating it was here to stay, along with 270,000,000 guns, in 30% of all households. They did not find draconian infringements at all incompatible with 2A rights and compared civilian semi-auto AR-15 type rifles, which they label "assault weapons," and even "weapons of mass destruction," with "bazookas," "rockets." Clearly they have been brainwashed. Especially intimidated by "large capacity magazines."
The unsaid assumption is that banning these is a large part of the solution, along with mental health services. Never mind that all rifles are used in only 3% of gun deaths, less than hammers and clubs, that so-called "assault rifles" use accounts for much less. Pistols were never even mentioned. Also the focus was on schools, an infintesimal portion of gun deaths. Never mind that criminals mostly won't obey these laws, leaving law-abiding people without adequate defense.
Never mentioned were the dozens of bills in process or even passed in some states, banning all semi-automatic rifles with removable magazines, limiting mag size, forcing licenses and fingerprinting to buy ammunition, forcing limits on purchases sizes, no grandfathering (means confiscation), forcing purchase of insurance policy for each gun, putting further restrictions on manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, transfer, transporting, storage and use of arms. Some prominent banners have made it clear before they want all guns banned for all but govt. and that these are only interim steps.
Their opposition was painted as the NRA, which represents the will of the evil "gun lobby." Never mind that patriots want their Second Amendment. Never mind that numerous other organizations, including sheriffs' groups, don't want bans. Participants did not articulate the true reason for the Second Amendment.
The only panelist who sounded even remotely Conservative/Constitutional was Capt. Rubright.