“The United States Senate just voted to keep open the floodgates of guns that flow into the illegal market and the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. When provided the opportunity to make America safer, in a manner that would actually strengthen the rights of law-abiding gun owners, too many Senators balked. They bowed to irrationality and fear.
“There is a bright side. Several Senators from rural states and with lifetime A-ratings from the NRA challenged orthodoxy and interest-group politics to draft and support legislation which would have expanded background checks. Their contribution to gun safety may forever change the politics of guns and make it possible to pass rational laws in the future that both protect gun rights and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and the mentally ill. We look forward to that day.
“We offer our appreciation to the President and the Vice President who led this effort, the bipartisan group of Senators who crafted the legislation, and our allies in the gun safety movement who worked tirelessly over the past four months to make the nation safer. The fight for universal background checks continues.”
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — Was it domestic terrorism, international terrorism, or could a lone bomber be responsible? Those are key questions now for the FBI after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Aki Peritz, a counter terrorism expert and author of “Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism campaigns that killed Bin Laden and devastated Al Qaeda,” talked to us on Tuesday afternoon.
Peritz told us, “We have to allow the professionals in the law enforcement community to make their decisions and not do it hastily. What we saw in previous instances was that people jumped the gun. People came to conclusions too fast. That’s not something we want to do in such a high profile case like this.”
He described some of the first steps law enforcement takes in the aftermath of this tragedy and others like it: “One of the things is we’re going to have law enforcement sort of make sure the area is secure. They’re going to have very, very trained individuals go through the crime scene and look for evidence. The next thing they’re going to do is they’re going to work with both federal, state and local organizations to determine whether there is a domestic nexus or international nexus. As you know, the government has not actually said who they think is culpable for this attack….we’re going to see this played out over the next couple of days or maybe weeks.”
Pertiz does not think law enforcement knows who is responsible for the attacks yet. “If they knew, let’s say, a terrorist organization that was a foreign terrorist organization, they would have said something by now. I think the smart thing to do is to let the law enforcement folks and the intelligence folks do their business, because this is what they’ve been doing for the last 10 years.”
We asked Peritz is he was surprised that something like this could happen at a Boston Marathon. His reply: “Not at all. The Boston Marathon is obviously a very high profile American event. A lot of people are there. Cameras are there. The media is there. And if Iwere a terrorist, I would want to attack something like this.”
About moving forward from the frightening experience, Peritz said, “The more important issue is looking at things through a prism of resilience. These things will happen, but we are a resilient nation and we will continue forward. At the end of the day, terrorists are not going to collapse American civilization. Only we have that power.”
On March 26, 2003, a lawyer stood in front of the nine Justices on the Supreme Court and argued that states should not be allowed to criminally prosecute gay and lesbian people for engaging in sexual activity. At the time, 14 states still had laws on the books that made “homosexual conduct” a crime. Flash forward exactly ten years later, and the Court was considering whether Proposition 8, (barring gay couples from marrying in California) violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. What a difference a decade makes.
To say our country has undergone a rapid transformation on the issue of marriage for gay couples is an understatement. The speed and breadth of this evolution have shocked even the most optimistic advocates. Just in the past two weeks, a cascade of Senators from purple and red states have added their voices to the chorus of marriage supporters, including Rockefeller, Kaine, Tester, McCaskill, Portman, Warner, and Hagan at last count. And this week’s Supreme Court arguments were another landmark moment for the cause.
Because this progress has come at such an astonishing clip, it is understandable that many had hoped the Supreme Court would take this opportunity to issue a broad decision that acknowledged a Constitutional right for gay couples to marry nationwide. After this week’s oral arguments, that outcome seems unlikely. But that reality should not be seen as a setback — rather, it is an opportunity to continue our nation’s swift journey toward full acceptance of gay and lesbian couples.
This week the Supreme Court will take up two historic cases dealing with marriage for gay couples. We made a cheat sheet breaking down what you need to know about each of the cases, including a easy-to-read charts that will help clarify the many possible outcomes as the Justices ponder their decisions.
Despite widespread support for gun regulations, intensity is on the NRA’s side.
by Matt Vasilogambros, The National Journal
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she is not done advocating for an assault-weapons ban. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Proponents of gun-control legislation, emboldened by the president’s call for stricter laws and overwhelming support in public polling, have been optimistic that proposals for background checks or a crackdown on weapons trafficking could pass Congress. Gun-control advocates have cited plenty of data to make their case, including surveys that show more than 80 percent of Americans support background checks.
Even a ban on assault weapons, which has been a more polarizing issue, still wins majority support in many surveys.
But these polls may gloss over some complexities in public opinion on gun control, and explain why Democrats are having so much trouble winning congressional support for even the most modest gun regulations.
A new report released Tuesday by Freedom to Marry and Third Way, found that state legislators who vote in favor of marriage for same-sex couples overwhelmingly win voter support when running for reelection.
Based on election results in two states that passed freedom to marry laws in the 2011-2012 legislative cycle and whose members stood for reelection — New York and Washington state — the analysis, “Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections,” finds that pro-marriage legislators who ran for reelection won 97 percent of the time.
This is significantly higher than the national incumbent re-election average of 90 percent in 2012.
President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night will pick up where his inaugural speech left off. He’s expected to bring up the issues of the economy, overhauling immigration, gun control and the budget. NPR’s Mara Liasson spoke with Third Way’s Jim Kessler about what we should, likely will, and won’t hear in Obama’s State of the Union tonight.
It’s welcome news to hear French and Malian troops have almost fully liberated northern Mali from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, and the other jihadists who turned much of the country into a neo-Taliban state. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on how to wage war against al Qaeda in the post-Osama bin Laden era.
1. Let our allies shoulder the security burden.
For more than a decade, the United States has led the world’s efforts to crush al Qaeda. But let’s be honest: The United States has little experience in the vast, lawless Sahel, despite the much-ballyhooed stand-up of the Pentagon’s Africa Command a few years ago. America’s knowledge of the region remains sparse—chances are you can probably count the number of Bambara or Tuareg speakers in the U.S. government on one hand, if you lop off a few fingers.
Other allies—most notably France, but also Great Britain—know more about the region, the turf, and locals than we ever will. And remember: French and Malian soldiers are doing the fighting, the killing, and the dying. So in this fight, America should support them and provide them with assistance: reconnaissance drones, advanced munitions, refueling capacity, intelligence support—you name it.
They certainly need it. In this hot war, Paris has struggled to move men and materiel to the front lines. And Mali’s army is beset by numerous problems. But let’s not criticize our allies; now is the time to help them. After all, if we can hammer another nail into the coffin of an al Qaeda franchise, it’s certainly worth leasing France a few more C-17s.
The President has proposed a robust series of new gun ideas, and now attention shifts to politics. In particular, the question will be whether some or all of this has a chance of making it through Congress.
The founders of Third Way spent four years in the heart of the gun debate when we ran Americans for Gun Safety. We’ve watched the politics of this issue very closely, and we think the answer is yes.
State-specific campaigns won marriage equality-related campaigns in four states this month. The wins, in part, came after a year-long, behind-the-scenes national research effort.
WASHINGTON — The surprise sweep for marriage equality efforts at the polls in 2012 came after a dramatic shift in the television ads their backers ran — a change that came about after a year-long research effort to crack the code of previously successful ads run by marriage equality opponents that focused on “gay marriage” being taught in schools.
Among the key changes: A shift away from talk of “rights” to a focus on committed relationships; a decision to address “values” directly as being learned at home; and an attempt to give voters “permission” to change their minds, according to elements of the research shared with BuzzFeed.
The research was “instrumental in helping us figure out our path,” said Zach Silk, who served as the campaign manager to approve Washington’s Referendum 74.
The research was sponsored by Third Way — a centrist Democratic think tank — that conducted an extended round of surveys beginning in September 2010 “aimed at answering a single question: how do we most effectively persuade people in the middle to support relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples, including marriage?”