Written By: Reverend Anton Sawyer
If insanity is doing the same thing over and over, all while expecting different results with each attempt, then politically fueled arguments are the epitome of madness. Having been a news junkie for the better part of the 21st century, there’s been one consistency I’ve seen when watching a Republican and a Democrat fight on national TV—no matter the side, there’s really only three or four arguments that each rely on. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about reproductive rights, Second Amendment rights, ANY rights, there are only a select few rebuttals that are utilized over, and over, and over again. Because of the repeated exposure I’ve had to this absurdity, it’s refreshing to see that in 2022, there have been some members of the Democratic party which have picked up on this use of repetition and have decided to circumnavigate the nonsense by using some fairly creative means.
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That is what I'm focusing on today: using creativity to stop the onslaught of stupidity that can be brought about from the Republican party’s agendas. I’ll do this by examining some new pieces of legislation that have been brought to the table in a few different states by the Democrats, and how they render most of the oppositional arguments moot. I’m also going to toss in some anecdotes and tips on how to avoid the pitfalls that the average American can fall into by relying on pre-packaged talking points.
Any time a supporter of completely unfettered Second Amendment rights uses the phrase “they’re going to take our guns,” whenever anyone questions anything about said guns, it shows me just how uneducated they are in the realities of what exactly is covered by that amendment. In 2022 America, the average citizen (who is able to pass a few federal background checks) can buy a bazooka. Grenades and rocket launchers, also known as bazookas, are classified as firearms by the National Firearms Act, and are therefore legal with proper registration. It is important to remember that when it comes to such weaponry, states and localities have the power to further regulate or outlaw these weapons in their jurisdiction. But since the Republican party has gone to such great lengths in attempting to turn all American rights over to state jurisdiction, this little hiccup shouldn’t matter. Whenever I hear someone utter the “take our guns” quote, I immediately ask what’s going to happen with the bazookas? After I get the obligatory “what do you mean?” question back, I let the person know about the legality of the bazookas. I then point out how much more damage a bazooka would do as opposed to a rifle of any kind, and if someone were trying to decimate amendment two, wouldn’t it make more sense that they would try to float legislation making bazooka’s illegal nationwide first? At this point the person either walks away, or they start spewing a bunch of talking points back at me. No matter what they say, I return to the question I KNOW they don’t have an answer for: what about the bazookas? They will never have an answer as that question isn’t one that is ever asked on any media outlet regularly. There is no talking point which they have memorized for regurgitation in this exchange.
It's simple creativity.
It seems some of the Democratic party in Virginia and New York have learned this concept can work and are taking a unique approach when it comes to the accessibility of guns, all while circumventing potential legal conflicts of interest.
Virginia Democratic US Representative Donald Beyer introduced H.R. 8051 in the summer of 2022, otherwise known as the Assault Weapons Excise Act. Under the bill, Rep. Beyer says an AR-15 model rifle like the one used in the Uvalde school mass shooting would jump from an average retail of $1,870 to $18,700 after the tax was applied. The tax would not be subject to firearms which are manually operated by bolt or lever action, or firearms only capable of firing rimfire ammunition. There is also an exemption in the bill for federal, state, and local governments so that armed services and law enforcement agencies would not be affected. Rep. Beyer says since the bill is a revenue measure, the Senate could pass it with a simple majority.
Beyer has taken the blueprint used against the large tobacco companies—price them out of existence—and applied it to firearms. It doesn’t infringe on the Second Amendment at all as nothing is limited or banned, and it doesn’t prevent law enforcement from getting weaponry. I know that the rallying cries from the left to kill this bill are going to be filled with hyperbole that’s based in the argument of “they’re going to take your guns,” but in reality, that’s a misdirection. In fact, it’s the amount of the tax which has the potential to kill it. It has been no secret that getting a simple majority vote from the US Senate in 2022 is nearly impossible, and I think the tax will be too steep for West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Arizona Democratic Senator Kirsten Sinema to overlook. When researching their voting histories, the writing is on the wall. Manchin loves guns and will vote no. Sinema is more likely to support gun control laws, but has always voted in favor of reducing taxes when presented with a bill in either the House or Senate. But whether H.R. 8051 passes or not, the fact that Beyer has went out on a limb in a unique way provides hope for future congressional measures.
The other example of creativity when it comes to gun laws is from the state of New York, where they are rolling out a novel strategy to screen applicants for gun permits. People seeking to carry concealed handguns will be required to hand over lists of their social media accounts for a review of their “character and conduct.” The new requirement will take effect in September. Under the law, applicants have to provide local officials with a list of current and former social media accounts from the previous three years. It was signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, who noted shooters sometimes telegraph their intent to hurt others. According to Peter Kehoe, the executive director of the New York Sheriffs’ Association, the new law infringes on Second Amendment rights. “I don’t think we would do that,” Kehoe said. “I think it would be a constitutional invasion of privacy.”
First off, the reasoning by Hochul is solid. Time and time again we see headlines where the FBI—or other law enforcement agencies—had been watching a killer for some time only to do nothing, with much bloodshed as a result. When Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old white man charged in connection with the murders of 10 black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, was a senior in high school, he allegedly wrote a paper saying that he wanted to commit murder-suicide, according to authorities. That prompted the assistant principal of Gendron's high school to call New York State Police and report Gendron, according to law enforcement. After a day-and-a-half mental health evaluation a year ago, Gendron was released, and his behavior wasn't flagged to authorities before he allegedly carried out the mass shooting.
Another time the ball was dropped came in August 2019, when Connor Betts opened fire at the entrance of Ned Peppers Bar in downtown Dayton, Ohio, killing nine, including his brother, and wounding 17 before responding officers shot him to death. Betts, according to the US Secret Service, "had a history of concerning communications, including harassing female students in middle and high school, making a hit list and a rape list in high school, telling others he had attempted suicide, and showing footage of a mass shooting to his girlfriend." Betts had an "enduring fascination with mass violence," the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit concluded in a report released in November. Yet, even with all of this information readily available to those who are charged with stopping such violence, it wasn’t enough to save those nine lives.
With this policy of required social media access, no guns are being outlawed or taken away, thereby securing our Second Amendment rights. But what about the “invasion of privacy” mentioned by Kehoe?
Given that these are social media accounts, I’m having a hard time trying to understand how there is any privacy violation taking place in this scenario. The information being accessed is available to literally everyone in America who has internet access. Also, thanks to the US Supreme Court of 2022, accessing this kind of content would NOT be a constitutional invasion of privacy. Since it was determined in the overturning of Roe v. Wade that because computers didn’t exist in 1776 (therefore not included in the original draft), and because cyber-rights were enshrined AFTER 1960, there is no privacy when it comes to that medium. The majority ruling made it clear when Justice Alito wrote, “The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the nation’s history and traditions.”
Speaking of Roe v. Wade …
Since the beginning of the judicial system in America, every interpretation of our nation’s laws have been birthed in a courtroom. Legal precedents can often carry the same amount of gravitas in the way a law is enforced as the writing of the law itself. That’s why I find the actions of Dallas, Texas native Brandy Bottone regarding the overturning of Roe as not only being creative, but as also having potential to turn the SCOTUS ruling on its ear.
Bottone was driving in the HOV lane meant for at least two people per vehicle when she was pulled over by police shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision had been overturned. The officer noted there didn't seem to be anyone else in the car, but Bottone had a retort—she was 34 weeks pregnant. "He said, 'Is there somebody else in the car?' And, looking around, I said, 'Yes there is,' and he said 'Well, where?' I pointed at my stomach and I was like, 'Right here,'" she told CNN. She received a ticket for $275 and was told by the officer to fight it, which she will on July 20th. Because this case hasn’t been tried as of publication, the results have not yet come in. However, no matter the outcome, the ruling has the potential to cause major waves. Loni Coombs, a former Los Angeles County prosecutor said, "If we're talking about a fetus being a person, there's a lot of other rights that attach to being a person that will be litigated in the courts, such as, does my fetus qualify for a tax deduction? Does my fetus qualify for citizenship? Does my fetus qualify for child support?" she said. "These are all issues that are going to be raised and probably litigated in the courts." Given the fact that when Botttone was puled over the cop said he believed the ticket would be tossed, this case has the potential to be the first precedent set in solidifying the idea that a fetus is a person; therefore making every calamity mentioned by Coombs a very real possibility.
We need to look at all the examples here today as an outline. I guarantee that after listening to a few hours of political bickering on any major news outlet, you will see the pattern pretty clearly. Whether the arguments come from a liberal or conservative, there are truly only two or three major rebuttals that each side will cull from when it comes to proving a point. It’s repetitive, it’s irritating, and it make both sides look like parrots for the cause—with only sounds filling the air in place of legitimate thought. The Democrats have always prided themselves on being educated … put your money where your mouth is. If you are a liberal, if you do not begin finding creative solutions to the problems placed before you, then I promise Roe is only the beginning.
If you can spare a few bucks to support a starving artist, buy me a coffee!