0 Comments · Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I swear there are days when it would be
best to turn off the television, stay away from computers, the Internet
and smartphones, maybe just remain in bed with the covers firmly clasped
over my head to silence the ignorant noise spewing out of the mouths
(and from the furiously tweeting thumbs) of politicians, commentators
by Bill Sloat
Massie's first bill would repeal federal safety buffer enacted in 1990
U.S. Rep. Tom Massie, the congressman who represents the Kentucky side of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, used his first day in Congress to file a bill that would erase a 23-year-old federal ban that makes it a crime to carry guns near schools.At the moment, Massie does not have any co-sponsors signed up. Details are sparse because the government printing office says it does not yet have the full text of the measure to put online. The existing Gun-Free School Act of 1990, which was adopted when former president George H.W. Bush, a Republican, was in the White House is viewable here. The bill was amended in 1995. As late as 1999, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was testifying in support of the measure, a position it seems to have dropped after the Sandy Hook massacre.Under the existing law, so-called “school zones” include but are not
limited to parks, sidewalks, roads and highways within 1,000 feet of the
property line of a public or private elementary, middle or high school.
The law makes it practically impossible to travel in populated areas
without entering a "gun-free school zone." People with state-issued
licenses or permits to carry guns are exempted by the federal law, but
the exemption is only good in the state that issued the permit.The law doesn’t exempt out-of-state travelers who have permits, nor does
it allow off-duty police officers to pack a weapon in a school. And it
is a violation for anyone other than an on-duty police officer or a
school security guard to discharge a firearm in a school zone for any
reason. A state permit does not exempt a person from the discharge
is a copy of the bill that retired U.S. Rep. Ron Paul introduced while
the Texan was campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. He called
his repeal measure the Citizen Protection Act, and he got no support from
co-sponsors. Paul’s bill died when the new Congress was sworn in
yesterday, but Massie is now resurrecting it.Massie is a tea party adherent — elected last fall to
replace Geoff Davis — who largely shares the political philosophies of Paul and his son, Sen. Rand Paul, who is also from Kentucky. Massie voted
against John Boehner for speaker on the opening day of the 113th
Congress, an act of open defiance against the Republican House leadership.
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
a small weekly responds to an unimaginable disaster and scores a world
scoop is a lesson in the best of journalism. Poynter online’s Julie Moos
described what happened after Newtown Bee associate editor Shannon
Hicks heard the initial call over her police scanner.
drove the mile and a quarter and arrived behind the first dozen police
officers. She started taking photographs through her windshield and
captured her image of a line of children being led away from the
slaughter. “I’m conflicted,” Hicks
said about her photo. “I don’t want people to be upset with me, and I do
appreciate the journalists, especially, who have commented, saying
‘We’re just documenting the news.’ It’s harder when it’s in your
hometown and these are children we’re gonna watch grow up, the ones who
made it. I know people are gonna be upset, but at the same time I felt I
was doing something important.”
editor John Voket explained what was behind that image. “Police and
school system have a protocol” for evacuation. “Children get into a
conga line, shoulder to shoulder, and the only person that’s allowed to
keep their eyes open is the locomotive at the front of the line, usually
an adult. And every other kid has to keep their eyes closed from the
minute they were exiting the classroom to when they got about a couple
hundred yards into the parking lot.”
arrived about 20 minutes later and colleague Hicks “passed the baton”
to him. Hicks also is a volunteer firefighter. The firehouse is next to
the school. “I literally put on my firefighter gear . . . I was there as
a firefighter probably for not even more than 20 minutes before my
editor said he wanted me back in the office to work with him to
coordinate coverage from there.”
continued reporting, but “We operate a little differently because our
job is to take care of the community so we were inside helping to
comfort victims and trying to provide human support without necessarily
making reporting the No. 1 priority. The publisher came down to
comfort some of the families a little later in the day.” R. Scudder
Smith has been Bee publisher since 1973; he is the fourth member of his family to run The Bee
since they founded it in 1877. The paper, which has a full-time
editorial staff of eight, circulates to about two-thirds of the
community of about 29,000.
was Friday and the weekly Bee front page was ready to print. It couldn’t
be changed. “We’ve been putting everything on our website,” publisher
Smith told AP.
added that the traffic surge repeatedly crashed the website until the
Bee acquired “an intermediary service to supersize our bandwidth . . .
We got back up and running this (Saturday) morning.” The staff used
social media to spread information about school lockdowns, re-routed traffic, and grief counseling.
“Facebook and Twitter accounts have been a lifeline to our community
and it shows because 20 percent of the community are following us.” The
Bee also was “looking at doing a special extra to be on the newsstands
those of us outside Newtown, Conn., we can turn to the renewed duel over
gun control. If it were a song, tired and familiar gun control lyrics
would be among “Worst Hits Ever.” It didn’t take long for gun control
advocates to embrace the Sandy Hook massacre and the bellicose NRA to
opt for rare silence. Obama renewed his unredeemed calls for gun
control although he and Mitt Romney dodged the issue in the just-ended
campaign. It was a hornets’ nest neither man opted to kick and reporters
apparently were unable to raise with the candidates.
the Sandy Hook slaughter, fair and balanced Fox News banned discussion
of gun control from the cable network. Maybe Fox News feared we really
would decide if they really reported. New York magazine said the ban spotlights
the “growing chasm between Rupert Murdoch and [Fox News president]
Roger Ailes.” Ailes reportedly is a gun enthusiast. Murdoch, CEO of News
Corp., which owns Fox News, had tweeted a call for stricter gun
control, imploring for “some bold leadership action” from Obama.
me be churlish when everyone else is sympathizing with families,
survivors and first responders. Slaughtering 20 children is awful, but
reporters and editors are familiar with how badly Americans treat urban,
suburban, small town and rural children every day. In Obama’s Chicago
and many other urban areas, gunfire is an omnipresent fact of childhood.
Possibly one-fourth of all American children live in poverty as defined
by federal guidelines. For these kids, federally funded school meals
might be more than a complement to home meals. Health care for poor and
malnourished children isn’t much better than their educations. Medicaid
is among the anti-poverty programs high on the GOP priorities for
absolute cuts and/or reduced annual increases. And let’s not even get
into continuing coverage of physical and sexual child abuse, trafficking
minors and lifelong handicaps from poor or nonexistent prenatal care or
maternal drug and alcohol abuse.
foolish or ignorant reporters credit pious assertions that legislation
can prevent disturbed individuals from obtaining guns and killing as
many people as they can. There are more than 310 million people in this
country. Some are or will become seriously mentally disturbed and obtain
one or more of the hundreds of millions of firearms Americans own. A
Columbine or Sandy Hook could happen again any day.
on the shooting victims rather than shooters might reduce any copycat
effect. Stories and photos elevating killers to celebrity have been
blamed for further rampages. Even though the killer never was
identified, that was the inference drawn from Tylenol poisonings 30
years ago; copycats tried to poison Tylenol capsules. When coverage
began to fade, so did copycat crimes.
leaders realized years ago that traditional (and valuable) Eddie Eagle
gun safety comics and courses were insufficient to motivate and keep
members and their dues. Fear and anger would be more effective. Real and
imagined government controls became NRA’s cause. Few modern American
movements have been as durable and effective as the NRA.
is powerful because we are a democracy. It can mobilize more than 4
million members and fellow travelers as voters, donors and voices in the
news media. Elected representatives who want to keep their jobs quite
reasonably try to avoid the NRA’s opposition. Gun control advocates
evince nothing like this single-minded devotion to their cause.
1994, the Clinton administration won a10-year limit on the sale of
assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines for their ammunition.
I went to a gun store in Hamilton to cover a rush to beat the ban.
Chinese assault-style rifles and curved high-capacity magazines were
selling as fast as staff could pry open crates. As I watched, the price
rose $10 with each new crate: demand and supply. Men who talked to me
said they were buying because of the imminent controls on assault-style
rifles and high-capacity magazines. A few admitted fear of civil unrest
or some undefined federal assault. Most said they wanted a
military-style rifle for shooting targets or empty beer cans and this
might be their last chance.That 10-year ban died in 2004 when
Republicans owned all three branches of federal government and didn’t
seek renewal. However, recent killings that required assault-style
weapons with large-capacity magazines might prompt reconsideration of
the ban. Adam Lanza reportedly carried hundreds of rounds of ammunition
in high-capacity magazines. No one knows why he didn’t use them.
gun control measure that’s not DOA will have to respect millions of
long guns — rifles and shotguns — used by hunters, farmers and others.
That distinction is an important part of this story already handicapped
by the paucity of journalists who hunt or otherwise own firearms.
addition to an unfamiliarity with firearms, partisan hyperbole also
handicaps writing about guns and gun control. It can be hard to find
neutral sources who share reporters’ interest in accurate coverage.
Stenographic reporting giving “both sides” isn’t good enough;
journalists must know enough to challenge obvious partisan
misstatements. We are not obligated to report what we know to be untrue
or to label it as such.
with gun control cropped up in a recent Enquirer story about a failed
armed robbery attempt inside a suburban Sunoco station. Employees with a
handgun and a shotgun fatally wounded the would-be bandit. The Enquirer
story said it was unclear whether the employees had conceal-carry
licenses for those firearms. Unless someone somehow cloaked a shotgun’s
18-28” barrel, no conceal/carry permit is required. Unless the other
Sunoco clerk carried the pistol under his clothes, he didn’t need a
permit. Wearing it openly or storing it under the counter does not
require a conceal/carry permit. So what was the point of that line in
the story? Just because a cop might have said it doesn’t mean the
reporter had to share it. That’s what I’m talking about.
in much gun control coverage is Congress’ inability to craft sensible,
workable bipartisan gun control specifics that can survive NRA
opposition and Supreme Court scrutiny. Firearm confiscation is out of
the question. So is universal registration which raises NRA-orchestrated
fear of confiscation — by ATF, the UN or some other demon de jour — to hysteria. Moreover, the court affirmed an individual Second
Amendment right to own guns in 2010 but it did not rule out federal,
state or local regulations governing firearm use.
faced with new rage over shootings should remind partisans that we have
gun control already. Forty nine states issue conceal/carry permits but
specify where those handguns may not be carried. Illinois — State No.
50 — is under court order to replace its ban with a conceal/carry
permit system. Many if not most municipalities bar gun owners from
firing their weapons within city limits with the exception of
self-defense. States commonly limit when hunters can use rifles and/or
shotguns and they can require a certain size bullet for large-game
hunting. Landowners may bar hunters from their property during
state-sanctioned hunting seasons.
are federal limits on how short a “sawed off” shotgun or rifle barrel
may be. There are laws limiting ownership of silencers and fully
automatic machine guns and submachine guns. Federally licensed firearms
dealers must run background checks on prospective buyers and turn away
those who fail or won’t comply. Dealers can deny convicted felons a gun
under federal and many state laws. A legal purchaser may not buy a
firearm for someone who would fail a federal background check.
Mentally-ill customers can be turned away by dealers.
of the roughly 12,000 Americans shot to death annually are killed with
shot with shotguns or rifles. They’re shot with pistols. So when gun
control is promoted, reporters should press advocates to say what they
• Before reporters share the lunacy of arming
teachers, ask local cops how many rounds typically are fired from their
handguns in an armed encounter . . . and how many of those bullets hit
their target. Not many. It's very, very difficult for someone trained
even at the level of police to accurately fire when adrenaline is
pumping. The teacher might end up shooting more students than the
intruder. Better to count on the low probability of an armed intrusion.
Think about how rare this is. Awful when it happens, but very, very
rare, even in communities where other shootings are far more frequent.
by Mike Breen
Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine pleads with gun-rights group to change its ways
In the aftermath of last week's once unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, discussion about mental health services and gun control — thanks largely to social media — has grown to become the major topic of national discourse. During campaign cycles, certain music fans complain loudly about artists expressing their opinions about candidates and causes, using the old "shut up and sing" line to insinuate that, as entertainers, one somehow loses the right to speak their mind. Yet many other serious music fans understand that music and art are a reflection of our society — an artist can offer different perspectives that might help people understand some serious issue better or maybe even help them evolve their own views on particular subjects. I'm not saying we should follow artists blindly like some kind of cult. To quote Oasis, "Please don't put your life in the hands/Of a Rock & Roll band." But I for one am always eager to hear what musicians and other artists and writers I respect have to say about current affairs. Whether within their own art or speaking out in public, artists have the same right as non-artists to express opinions. It seems that the ones with particularly large followings are the musicians attacked most often for expressing views on politics or other controversial world affairs. They fear the power an artist can have if they express an opinion divergent from their own (in much the way liberals and conservatives fear the power Fox News and MSNBC might wield). Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist have never been afraid to speak up. The married braintrust behind longtime Cincinnati-based band Over the Rhine — which has a dedicated and loving international fanbase — has seen some backlash from fans for expressing "polarizing" viewpoints. Merely supporting Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry 12 years ago was enough to trigger anger amongst a few fans. The group isn't known for delving into political issues in their lyrics too often, but they have said that the song "How Long Have You Been Stoned" ("Takin' out Daddy's trash now ain't it a drag/Trippin' on Papa's brand new body bag") from 2003's double-album Ohio was inspired by the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq.OTR never seemed to experience "Dixie Chicks-level" backlash (which nearly destroyed three musicians' careers); it's more similar to the recent hatred and disapproval aimed at Cincinnati natives The National, a globally successful Indie Rock band that angered some fans by campaigning for Barack Obama during the past two presidential elections. The worst (hopefully) that will ever happen in a case like that is the band might sell two or three less records and suffer insults on social media. For these artists and most like them, it's well worth the price. Following the recent shootings in Connecticut, Detweiler took to the internet to post an open letter to the National Rifle Association. Detweiler begins the post by writing, "I’m
a songwriter, and my first calling is to process the world in the
context of my songs. But I felt compelled to write the following,
because it’s been on my mind. If you find it useful, please share."What follows is the open letter from Facebook which has been shared almost 400 times and "liked" nearly 1,000 times. The 200-plus comments are actually fairly civil even when there's disagreement (OTR has a smarter-than-your-average-bear following), though they're not without a few angry and rude missives (it IS the internet after all). In the end, Detweiler has added to the dialogue about a topic that for too long has seemingly been "off the table" due to the power of the NRA and some citizens' particular interpretations of the constitution. (The NRA, at least for now, seems to be self-aware enough this time around to not come out with an insensitive statement, instead echoing the President's call for "meaningful" discussion to help avoid future tragedies like the one last Friday.)As always, Detweiler is eloquent in his words. No matter what side of the issue you come down on, I highly recommend giving it a read. And if you feel the need to weigh in, here is the link to the original post. AN OPEN LETTER to the four million members of the National Rifle Association: Dear fellow citizen,
The NRA released a statement yesterday on your behalf expressing that
you all are “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the news of the
massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Yes, we all are. For years
you have willingly given your money to an organization that has largely
ignored pleas from policemen across our country to limit access to
assault weapons and armor piercing ammunition. You have spent
countless millions of dollars silencing and vilifying voices that, while
supportive of gun ownership, were calling for moderation in the
distribution of weapons that could be used for mass destruction of human
life, including the gun used by Friday’s killer that shot one first
grader 11 times. And 19 other first grade children. And 6 adults in the
space of a few minutes… When previous heartbroken victims of
gun violence who lost children or spouses tried to speak out to
hopefully help prevent others from suffering similar unspeakable loss,
you rallied for your rights, and gave the suffering no quarter.
For years you have marketed the idea to the citizens of this country
that the US government is a potential enemy bent on harming its own
citizens, and the only way we could all be safe was if we each purchased
a private arsenal of weapons. While you are reportedly
“shocked, saddened and heartbroken,” how many of your members after
Friday’s shooting have changed their profile pictures to images of guns,
or tweeted messages like “I’m buying a gun the day after Christmas.
Join me! #NRAlifelongmember” How many of your members boasted last
Friday that they were going to take their kids to a firing range?
You continue to lobby in support of all of us carrying concealed
weapons into schools, day care centers, movie theaters, and public
squares. You argue that if only we could all walk around packing heat,
our society could be safer and more peaceful. You lobby for wider “stand
your ground” laws, so we can all load up and take the law into our own
hands and play judge and jury (and God?) in the heat of the moment. The members among you who call themselves Christian often bemoan the fact that “God has been removed from our schools” and yet those very members
ignore the direct teachings of Jesus as recorded in Scripture that call
upon all followers of Christ to work to break the cycle of violence and
not return evil for evil. Too many of us have stood by silently
while you’ve played the part of the playground bully in our public
discourse, and distorted our constitution for profit. While we as a
nation have improved upon the vision of our “founding fathers” to end
slavery in this country, to allow women the right to vote, and to outlaw
hate crimes, you cling rigidly to a few words written when the right to
bear arms referred to a single shot muzzle loading rifle. Your
voice has been powerful and strident, and too many of us have remained
silent in our disbelief of what we were hearing from you. Our silence
has been deadly. If you are indeed “shocked, saddened and
heartbroken” consider the part (if you are able and willing to join the
rest of us in searching our souls) your organization has played when it
comes to last Friday’s shooting. Consider the fear that your
organization markets. Consider the bitter fruit of your labors that we
must all taste. And please consider asking forgiveness,
changing your ways, and offering whatever healing you are capable of to
the hurting in Newtown, Connecticut, as opposed to condoning responding
to violence with still ever more violence, ad nauseum. Unless
you can do your part (along with the rest of us), and change in response
to Friday’s tragedy, there will be still worse to come. I live
on a small farm in Ohio, own two guns (and my own business) and have
family members who are big game hunters. I am rethinking my
responsibility as a citizen of this country. We all are. I invite you to
do the same. You’re holding your big press conference
tomorrow. We’ll be listening. But I am confident that many millions of
us will no longer be silent. LJD
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 2, 2012
have reportedly urged Cincinnati to emulate larger, “awesome” cities by
becoming more accommodating to skaters, bikers and users of other
self-propelled modes of transportation. Otherwise, visitors who have
seen the locally filmed 1993 rollerblading classic Airborne might
be disappointed to find out that Cincinnati isn’t really the kind of
place a cool kid from California would move and that Devil’s Backbone
might not be real, either.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The American taxpayers were caught by surprise today when they learned that Ford Motor Co. earned $1 billion in the third quarter of this year. The sudden profitability of the seemingly inept automaker (the Ford Fusion? Seriously?) impressed industry analysts, who said such gains once seemed less likely than a Ford hybrid SUV or a woman sleeping with a dude who drives a Mustang and not getting herpes.