Politics

New Year, New Congress

It’s New Years Eve 2018 and the government is in its tenth day of a partial shutdown over border security funding.

President Trump is requesting $5 billion in order to build sections of the wall, or fencing depending on who you ask, increased technology and border patrol agents. The Democrats are perfectly willing to give up $1.3 billion for fencing and other border security provisions, but no funding for a wall. Should the president hold true to his word the absence of that noun would render any spending bill to be proposed by Congress this week to be denied upon receipt. The question is if the president is willing to take the risk of denying the Democrats proposal. With that answer comes the answer to how much he is willing to give up in order to fund the government and have it reopen as well.

But why now? Why has it taken two years for the president and Republicans in Congress to finally take a stand on border security and wall funding? After all, building the wall was a staple of the president’s campaign and was a key issue that contributed to him winning the election. The reason is simple – the Republicans and the president have run out of time.

In just two short days the 116th Congress will convene for the first time on January 3rd, 2019 thus propelling President Trump’s administration into a two year “lame duck” session until 2020.  Democratic leaders have already announced a proposal that they are pushing to vote on this coming Thursday to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year save Homeland Security. They will only be funded through February 8th which will include the aforementioned $1.3 billion for fencing but no funding for a wall. The goal of this proposal is to see just how far President Trump is willing to go in his fight for funding a wall.

The irony here is that the Democrats are now opposing what they have already voted for several times in the past. There are multiple videos and news stories from 2006 where Democrats supported the same type of border security measures being discussed today. In fact 23 other Democrats along with then Senator Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act of 2006. In re-reading the Secure Fence Act of 2006 it seems to echo exactly what President Trump and the Republicans are seeking today. More fencing along the Southern border (I.e. a wall or barrier), more vehicle barriers, checkpoints, lighting, advanced technology like cameras, satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border. You can hear Kellyanne Conway state exactly that during a recent CNN interview.

Historically speaking funding border security is not a partisan issue. It never has been. $60 million was allocated according to the DHS in 2009 in the form of grants to fund Operation Stonegarden for border States. That same year there was in excess of $106 million more set aside for Southwest border security measures, again per the DHS website. Time and again both Democrats and Republicans have voted for funding for border security. To take a broader approach if you consider an estimate of $4.4 trillion Fiscal Year 2019 federal budget the $5 billion President Trump is asking for border security is a fraction of 1% of the overall budget. It’s essentially nothing in the grand scheme of things.

So why are the Democrats opposed now?  In a word – politics.  They simply cannot stomach giving the president a win when it comes to one of his key campaign promises.  Even if they claim victory in that whatever is built it is not called a wall in any bill or budget package they vote in favor of.  At the end of the day, they can say President Trump didn’t get his wall and that, it seems, is more important than anything else – even securing our country.

Semantics are the name of the game in Washington D.C. to the detriment and frustration of the American people. With a Democrat controlled House coming into session it can be expect that we will see much more of the same over the next two years. That is if they don’t spend all their time with investigations and repeated attempts to impeach the president. Either way there seems to be little hope for any political wins on the agenda of President Trump in the near future. That is certain.

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A Court of Law VS. The Court of Public Opinion

This is still America.

Though it is not the America I think of when I think of pride, patriotism and love of country.  That America I equate with my Grandfather’s generation and the actions they took during World War II.  It was a simpler time, as they say.  A more honorable time, I say.  A time that I greatly desire to see come again.  We saw glimpses of that same America after 9/11, so I know that America still lives in us somewhere.  And I want to believe we are slowly moving towards it again.  However, there is something missing that we need back if we are to ever truly get back to that America again.

In the America of the past we would act on a matter because it was the right thing to do.  We did not make decisions because they were politically advantageous.  Instead we would look to a higher place.  A place no longer allowed in the schools of our ‘civilized society’ for fear of offense to another.  A place that was our guiding moral principles and where we drew our strength from as a nation.  A place that was such an innate part of our lives throughout our history that our Founding Fathers wove it into our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence as the foundation of our country.  A place we would turn to time and again to serve as our guiding star – our ‘True North’ – when all hope seemed to be lost.

Or at least we used too.

Take for example Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.  The accusations of Dr. Ford with no supporting evidence or corroborating witnesses would have been thrown out in every court of law in our nation.  But that is not the case in the court of public opinion.  It is there where it matters not what you can prove with facts and evidence.  The accused has no rights above those seeking social justice and not justice.

They cannot defend themselves with facts and logic unless they first acknowledge the accusers’ pain and their right to feel however it is they feel.  Even if those feelings are unfounded and implicate you in a potential criminal act.  In the court of public opinion, it only matters what emotional response you can evoke from the jury and that those emotions mirror those of the accuser for a conviction.  To those seeking social justice, feelings do not care about your facts.  Sorry, Ben Shapiro.

After all, social justice is not the same as justice.  It does not exist in the black and white world of right and wrong.  It lives in the misty grey hues of feelings and emotions that our elders have always cautioned us never to make decisions upon them alone.  And with good reason.

SCOTUS_Equal Justice Under The LawIn a court of law, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  In the court of public opinion, the burden of proof of innocence is now the responsibility of the accused and is much more difficult to quantify.  Any unwillingness on the part of the accused to defend themselves by denying the accusations or attempts to discredit the accuser is viewed as evidence of guilt and not innocence.  You only have to look at the nomination of Kavanaugh and how it has been halted by unfounded accusations to see that truth play out in reality.

America has lost its moral compass.  We are no longer able to see our ‘True North’ through the fog of social justice.  The faith we once had in our religious convictions reflected in the faith we had in each other and as a nation.  Without the principals that once guided our Founding Fathers and subsequently my Grandfather’s generation we have left ourselves with no foundation on which to firmly stand.  It was our faith in God and the teachings of the Bible that gave us a firm and clear understanding of what is right and what is wrong.  It is because of our inability to root ourselves in the belief of something greater than ourselves that we now default to emotional responses to answer some of life’s most difficult questions.  Questions that should only be answered and acted upon with the truth dictating right over wrong.

Norman Doidge wrote the Foreword of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s most recent book 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.  In that foreword he talks about the complexity of life and how the Bible is essentially a set of rules for us to live by to avoid becoming slaves to our passions.  When left to our own devices we tend to gravitate towards the things that make us feel good instead of what makes us good people.  This is where Doidge makes a point that stuck out to me.  He wrote,

One neat thing about the Bible story is that it doesn’t simply list its rules, as lawyers or legislators or administrators might; it embeds them in a dramatic tale that illustrates why we need them, thereby making them easier to understand.

To me this suggests that faith in God and attempting to live by His example as told by the Bible has less to do with the supernatural implications of religion and simply means that you strive to live by a set of rules that when followed are generally accepted as ‘good’.

It is by no means my position that should you not believe in God that it is impossible for you to be a good person and live a good life.  What I am suggesting is that historically speaking when we as a nation would face adversity, as my Grandfather’s generation did and as did our Founding Fathers, we would look to a higher place for guidance.  In doing so they often clearly saw the right thing to do and would follow that path with an unstoppable conviction.  A conviction founded in the belief that they were doing the right thing for the right reasons in the eyes of God.  To them there was no greater calling or purpose in life and they viewed that responsibility as an honor.

To this very day when you are called to testify in a court of law, you are sworn in and put under oath – your oath – to tell the truth.  You are placed under your oath by raising your right hand, placing your left on the Bible and vowing to tell the truth – so help you God.  We do this because as a nation we were founded on the principles held so dearly by our Founding Fathers that came from their faith in God.  That any oath taken in the name of God is to be viewed as the truth as though you were speaking to Him on your day of judgement.

It’s fascinating to me that despite being under oath in a court of law people often times do not believe the testimony provided.  Yet, in the court of public opinion no such oath is taken but those accusations and charges are taken at face value and treated as ‘gospel’ without any evidence to support them or witnesses testifying to their validity.  The irony is not lost on me, I assure you – but what does that say to you about the state of our society today?

There is a reason why my Grandfather’s generation is referred to as ‘the greatest generation to have lived’.  It’s because they knew right from wrong, saw the injustices in the world and our own country, rolled up their sleeves and got to work correcting them.  America’s past is not without its imperfections – no nation that has ever risen to power is.  But as has been stated by others more intelligent than I, what makes America so great is the fact that we took steps to correct those injustices and acknowledged our faults.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if more people from both sides of the isle did that today?  How do I get that on the docket for the court of public opinion?

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Pre-Midterm Madness 2018

Politically speaking this week has been a difficult one for Conservatives.  The combination of the Manafort conviction and Cohen testimony coming within roughly 24 hours of each other was a one-two punch to the gut that has, for the moment, knocked the wind out of us.  Though we saw the punch of Manafort’s conviction coming, the Cohen testimony seems to have caught quite a few people off guard.

Is this just a momentary distraction?  Time will be the judge of that.  However, to those Conservatives who are quick to point out these two events have nothing to do with Russian Collusion or President Trump, I would caution you to not so quickly dismiss their impact.

Democrats and Republicans will hold their grounds and no votes will be swayed by the events of this week.  The same cannot be said for Independent voters.  A Wall Street Journal article published yesterday referenced a polling of Independents showing they are moving to the Left regarding which party they would like to see control Congress after the 2018 elections.  In that poll Independent voters favored Democrats over Republicans by 22-percentage points, up from an 8-percentage point advantage from earlier in the year.

I’m no statistician but a 14-point swing is nothing to scoff at or ignore.

Labor Day Weekend, the unofficial start to the mid-term election cycle, is now less than two weeks away.  The timing of these events can be either a blessing or a curse for Republicans.  The blessing being that they have time to diffuse the situation and drive the narrative towards things that matter.  The economy, low unemployment ratings, immigration reform, border security, preserving the tax cuts and continuing to do right by our military and veterans.  The curse being that it brings back to the forefront the Democrats favorite talking point – impeachment.

Though I do not believe either of these to be high crimes and misdemeanors they will, none the less, fuel the calls from the Left for the next few days to come.  For many on the Left their dislike of President Trump is so strong that impeachment is a delicious morsel on which they love to chew.  Which begs the question many have already been asking long before this week began.  Is simply being “anti-Trump” enough for the Democrats to win the midterms or do they need an actual message for their campaign?  A message that, as of now, has yet to manifest itself and unify the party.

In the end the party that controls the narrative moving into and beyond September 3rd will ultimately be the party to win the midterms.  The narrative will motivate voters, especially the Independent voters, to show up and cast their ballot.  Though historically the mid-term elections have been lost by the party in power, the sense among Conservatives is that this election cycle carries weight.  The concern being that the progress made thus far could, and likely would, be undone should Congress turn blue.  The Democrats also believe this midterm cycle carries weight, but as far as I can tell only in so much as it pertains to the ability to bring forth articles of impeachment as mentioned earlier.

From my seat I have little faith in polls since the ones in 2016 were so off base.  The noise coming from both sides of the isle is more of the same droning that has been taking place for much of the year.  The same can be said of the Main Stream Media as well – so I say toss a quarter and you’ll have just as good a chance at predicting the winner of this year’s mid-terms as anybody else.

But that doesn’t excuse you from voting, though!

“Common Sense Gun Laws” According To The Left

During political debates/discussions on Twitter and Facebook I have a tendency to befriend those who are on the opposite political spectrum. Especially those who are capable of having a conversation without devolving into name calling and can actually articulate their point of view with intellect and dignity. Recently I have made two new friends who I respect and enjoy discussing issues with. Recently one such new friend on Facebook that I made during a discussion on my cousins page posted a video from “Now This Op-Ed” video on where they discuss what they believe are the dumbest arguments against gun laws.

I watched the video and responded basically saying that we have a constitutional right to defend ourselves with the use of firearms if we so choose. I pointed out the recent shootings in Florida and at the YouTube headquarters were mostly due to law enforcement and the FBI not enforcing existing laws or acting on multiple tips. In the case of the church shooter here in Texas a few months back it was the failure of the Air Force to properly update the NICS database that allowed him to purchase a firearm. My argument is simply that we need to enforce the laws we currently have and our agencies who exist only to protect us need to do a better job.

I then received a quite lengthy response that went over the standard arguments when it comes to gun control discussions.

  • Congress made it illegal for CDC/NIH to study gun violence
  • Gun vs Vehicle debate from the right is ridiculous and not a valid argument
  • The Second Amendment is “antiquated” and was written when muskets were the latest gun technology
  • 20 Veterans die per day by suicide using guns
  • You are morally corrupt if you don’t support “common sense gun control laws” (aka – a gun ban)

PageNotFound_Collage_06 APR 2018To their credit they did included several links to support their argument, but as you can see in the image here – the first three links they gave were “Page Not Found” errors. The remaining links I did my due diligence and read through the articles as to then respond to the points that were made. I did so with an open mind and hoping to find some data that supported their argument and would shed some light on another side of the discussion that I was unaware of.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Below is my unedited response to their Facebook Post. I’m leaving it unedited because there were some snarky comments that we both made and in full disclosure/honesty here – I wanted that to be included. I admit. I’m not perfect and will at times engage in snark as well in my responses. Call me human, I suppose. But I do want to point out that even though we may have strong views and make them with a touch of condescension to each other – I believe I am right in saying on behalf of the person involved here that it is done so in jest, with no malicious intent behind it and not an attempt to belittle or offend the other. You should know the person involved in this conversation is quite literally a scholar on American history and has been politically active their entire lives since high school, so I respect their opinion greatly and am very glad to have met them and am afforded the opportunity to have these types of discussions.

Lastly, I want to clarify a few points before you read my response.

First of all, the local and Federal law enforcement agencies are tasked with an unimaginably difficult task when it comes to enforcing gun laws and protecting citizens. My comments are in no way an attack on them or a indication of my lack of respect or support for them. I assure you it is quite the opposite. I have great respect for those who literally put on a gun everyday to go to work and put their lives on the line for people they don’t even know. I have friends and former classmates who are officers, detectives and Texas State Troopers and am grateful to them all for their dedication and the work they do.

Second, the veteran suicide rate mentioned below is appalling. It is a reflection of our failure to provide them with the resources and programs needed for those fortunate enough to return home from combat after defending our nation. Many of these men and women volunteered at the age of 18 and wrote a blank check payable to the United States for up to and including their lives in order to defend our citizens, our Constitution and our way of life. They are hero’s who deserve the best care we as a nation have to offer and they are not receiving it. That is a shame that we as a nation need to address immediately.

With that said – I submit to you my original, unedited response below. I have not received a response to it yet and it has been just over 24hrs since I posted it, but it was their birthday yesterday so I am certain they will respond in due time once the festivities have subsided.

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In good faith I tried to read the articles you linked starting at the top on down. The WSJ, Politico and NYT links (the first three) are all “No Page Found” – so can’t address those.

However, you claim that it is illegal for the CDC/NIH to research gun violence is not true.

The CDCs ability to study gun violence was limited in 1996 by an amendment that simply stated it cannot collect data to advocate for gun control. That was it. President Obama signed an order in 2013 directing the CDC to resume research but they only have done so in a limited fashion. President Trump’s new HHS Secretary Alez Azar is advocating for the research to continue and move forward as well – so the premise that it is illegal for the CDC or NIH to study gun violence is, again – not true.

To your point about SUV’s/vehicles – I used that point because vehicles are an active threat the moment you begin driving. That hunk of steel is moving forward at a velocity most often greater than 40mph, which can be lethal to a pedestrian if you do not control it. My firearm secured to my hip in its concealed carry holster is not an active threat to anyone. I would have to draw and aim my weapon for it to be an active threat. So there in lies the validity of the argument as far as I am concerned. My opinion though, feel free to disagree.

The Second Amendment guarantees me the right to defend myself with the use of a firearm if I choose too. It’s that simple. There is no exceptional status here at play.

I love how passive aggressive your writing is when you say “Justice Stevens is among a minority of informed Americans who want to repeal the 2nd amendment”.

It would seem based on your argument preceding that sentence that you are not educated in firearms nor the history of them, and obviously Justice Stevens is not either if that is his stance regarding it being written in the time of muskets being the most advanced weaponry in existence.

The argument that it was written when Muskets that took +6 seconds to reload and were the most advanced weapons at the time is not true.

The Belton Flintlock could fire up to 20 rounds in a matter of seconds. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belton_flintlock) George Washington originally commissioned 100 of these rifles, though the government never purchased them.

The Girandoni air rifle was designed in 1779 and was used on it’s use of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It had a 20 round gravity fed magazine and the weapon could fire accurately up to 125yds at a high rate of fire (approx. 30 seconds to fire 20 rounds). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girandoni_air_rifle).

There is also the Puckle Gun that was made about 60yrs before the Revolutionary War that was essentially a gatlin style gun. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puckle_gun)

The founding fathers who wrote the Second Amendment were well aware of advances being made in firearms in their own time and had no misconceptions that firearm technology would continue to advance. Yet, they put no limitation on the definition of firearm – for that very reason. So the people could have the most recent and modern technologically advanced firearms available so as to never be at a disadvantage.

The argument you give regarding a gun in your home not making you more safe is, from what I read of your links, mostly opinion mixed with some facts. Truth is it is relative to the owner and for them to decide. I certainly feel better knowing I am no longer at a disadvantage should someone with a firearm break into my home. The trouble I have with the articles you linked is that I haven’t found the data sets they used in their research. As I am sure you are aware the “definition” as to what constitutes a “mass shooting” is not clearly defined and those seeking to prove a point often skew the data. The FBI standard to define a mass shooting is +4 deaths. Yet CNN and other news sources have touted evidence in the past that the data they used was +6 in order to show that the gun ban in the 90’s had a positive impact and decreased the number of gun massacres – which is based on skewed data to support their claim. (you can see the graphic in this Washington Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/its-time-to-bring…/… )

In regards to the death rate of the US vets, you said it yourself – they are suicides. So is that a condemnation of firearms or the lack of support, care and available resources that those men and women have earned by serving our country that we are failing to provide? The children statistic I could not find anything on, so would like to see your information on that if you can link it, please.

Lastly, read what I wrote on my website last week – especially the part at the bottom where the FBI statistics come into play regarding murders by firearms and incidents deferred or prevented by law abiding citizens who used their firearms. You’ll see that incidents deterred or prevented outnumber those killed by 5 to 1 margin.

https://statecraftobserver.com/…/john-paul-stevens-and…/

We have rational gun safety laws in existence today. Again, I say we need to enforce them and ensure the agencies responsible for enforcing them do their jobs and have the ability to do their jobs.

Being Part Of History: March Sets Record For NICS Firearms Background Checks

March was somewhat of a historic month with the March For Our Lives protests just one short week ago this past weekend.  Not to be outdone, the FBI released the numbers of NICS Firearms Background Checks for March making it’s own bit of history in that it set a record for the month.  According to the report there were 2,767,699 backround checks ran against the NICS database.

And for the first time in our lives both my wife and I were part of those numbers as we both purchased firearms this past Saturday.

As I recently wrote about in another article, I felt it was time to finally “pull the trigger” (pardon the pun) and purchase my first firearm.  My wife who grew up around guns had no objections and happily purchased her first as well.  For those curious she went with the GLOCK 19 Gen 5 and I went with the SigSauer P320.

We fired many different weapons to see which ones we felt most comfortable with and were the most accurate with.  The professionals at the range and shop were helpful and attentive and spent as much time as we needed and were happy to do so.  They walked us through the background check and after several hours of shooting and less than an hour of paperwork we headed home happy in our decision.

We both plan on getting our License To Carry (LTC) or Concealed Handgun License (CHL) (both terms are now technically correct in Texas, I found out) within the next few months.  We even took our oldest daughter living at home with us back to the range on Sunday so she could fire the weapons and familiarize herself with them.  Our youngest will be going as well in the next week or so.

Anyone who has never fired a gun before, as I had not until this past Saturday, I highly recommend going and taking the time to do so.  Educate yourself on what exactly that means.  I would even recommend going through the process of purchasing a firearm.  Even if you plan on not keeping it and have the shop put it up for consignment.

Go through the process.  Fill out the ATF form and experience the background check process to see all that is involved.  It might open your eyes more than you think.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go join the NRA (5yr membership), order some practice ammo and show my wife the three options for next gun I plan on buying that I will use as my Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW).  Those who are curious it’s between the GLOCK 43, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 2.0 and the SigSauer P365.

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John Paul Stevens And The Vermont Legislature Just Became The NRA’s Next Biggest Membership Drive Boosters Since David Hogg

If you are a supporter of the Second Amendment and believe in the right to bear arms is a constitutional right for everyone, then this week has been very busy and quite frankly – scary.  As if last Saturday’s March For Our Lives protests and constant coverage from the Main Stream Media outlets parading the Parkland, Florida Survivors (with the exception of Kyle Kashuv, of course) to push their political agenda of banning guns wasn’t enough to keep you on edge, along come two more reasons to white knuckle your AR just a tad bit more.

On Tuesday former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the dissenting argument to the D.C. vs. Heller case no less, wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.  In the piece Stevens calls for an outright repeal of the, and I’m quoting here, relic of the 18th century we all know as the Second Amendment.  He then goes on to say how the Heller decision did nothing but provide propaganda for the NRA and how simple it would be to overturn that ruling and get rid of the Second Amendment all together via a constitutional amendment.

Yeah, Good luck with that J.P.!

But then, just as I was smugly laughing off J.P.’s Op-Ed and moving on to Russia test firing an ICBM dubbed ‘Satan’ – Vermont comes along and essentially tells J.P. to “hold my beer…” with this classy little piece of legislation.

House Proposal of Amendment S.55, as it is being referred to in the Vermont Legislature, passed with a vote of 17 -13 (Yea/Nay) today.  Originally S.55 was proposed to enforce laws prohibiting the sale or dispensation of illegal drugs.  Somehow it got changed to a gun control bill which I have yet to understand the leap from drug enforcement to banning guns – but I digress.  In essence the bill says you can’t buy a gun until the age of 21 (with exception of law enforcement, military, national guard, etc.), bans large capacity magazines, bans bump-stocks (the only part I’m fine with) and tosses in wording to investigate into how best to impose background checks for private firearms sales.

This legislation is not a gun ban.  However, I view it as a precursor to that now very plausible future state when taken with Stevens Op-Ed published earlier in the week.  The Left and the Main Stream Media wasted no time in touting their praises for the article and for Vermont on passing S.55.

Why?

Because make no mistake about it.  Their end goal is an outright repeal of the Second Amendment and a ban on firearms.  Their general argument being that they are looking after the safety of the children.  Statistically speaking, however, it has been shown that less guns do not equate for greater safety.  In fact, the data shows exactly the opposite of that narrative.

According to FBI Statistics from 2007-2011 there were 46,313 murders committed by firearms in the United States.    FBI Murder Victims_2007-2011 Statistics_firearms Only

According to the reported analysis of Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use conducted by Violence Policy Center there were 235,700 cases where self-protective behavior was reported with a firearm.  Unfortunately this report does not specifically indicate if those self-protective incidents were successful, but based off the wording of the report it is assumed that the incidents were prevented.Self-Protective Behaviors_2007-2011_NCVS_BureauOfJusticeStatistics

Given those numbers, far many more lives were potentially saved than lost by firearms.  In fact it is more than five times the numbers of lives saved.

This is far below the number of lives saved in self-protective incidents as reported by the NRA where that estimate hovers around the 2.5 million mark.  However, it is still an impressive number and more ardently supports the case that having a firearm is far greater than not having one when it comes to the ability to defend yourself.

To me that is what the Second Amendment and the Heller decision are all about.  Having the ability to defend myself, my family and my property should the need ever arise.  The Left and their crusade to impede my ability to do so is unconstitutional at its core.  I find their reasoning to be factually inaccurate and their solution of having Government, State and Local Officials protect us unacceptable.  Especially when you take into account the recent failures of those very agencies tasked with protecting those students in Parkland, Florida.

It is an insult to those lives lost that the survivors are now being used by the Left and Main Stream Media to advocate for their political agenda of banning guns under the false pretense of more safety.

The facts simply do  not support that argument.

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