How Your Voice Are Making a Difference: March for Our Lives

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world showed up at more than 800 March for Our Lives rallies organized by students outraged by Congress’s lack of action on instigating sensible gun reform—including more than 20,000 in Austin, and a similar number in Parkland, FL, where a school shooting killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Donald, in Florida to golf yet again, had his motorcade route altered so as not to trouble himself seeing all the demonstrations. And farther down on the low road, an NRATV host taunted the Parkland kids, saying “No one would know your names” if it hadn’t been for the shooting.

But the world is listening—and responding—even if Congress isn’t. Kroger chain Fred Meyer has said it will phase out its sales of firearms, just two weeks after deciding not to sell firearms and ammunition to those under age 21. A recently filed Oregon initiative would makemanufacturing, importing, possessing, purchasing or selling an assault weapon or large capacity magazine a crime, and require registration with police of all existing assault weapons. YouTube continues to ban various firearms videosCitigroup has announced new restrictions on firearms purchases for customers who offer Citi-backed credit cards or conduct any other credit/banking functions through the company: the new policies prohibit the sale of firearms to customers who have not passed a background check or who are younger than 21. It also bars the sale of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

In policy news, education secretary Betsy DeVos attempted to gut funding for her department by $3.6 billion—instead, Congress voted for a $3.9 billion increase in education funding—none of which is earmarked for DeVos’s pet school choice programs that disadvantage economically disadvantaged families. From the Washington Post: “She wanted to eliminate money for after-school programs for needy youth and ax a grant program that helps low-income students go to college in favor of spending more than $1 billion to promote charter schools, magnet schools and private school vouchers…. Her budget would have eliminated grant programs that supported student mental-health services — a move that received scrutiny in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.”

A panel of federal judges in Pennsylvania rejected the GOP’s attempt to block new redistricting from taking place after a ruling that existing districts were unfairly gerrymandered, dismissing Republican lawmakers’ lawsuit claiming that the state supreme court overstepped its authority in making that ruling.

In Wisconsin, Republican governor Scott Walker was ordered by a judge he himself appointed to hold special elections in two districts where he has been refusing to do so. Walker and the Wisconsin GOP are attempting to flout the court order and change the law the ruling was based on.

Some Republicans are finally fleeing their party: Charles Djou, former Republican Congressman from Hawaii, announced he is leaving the GOP because he can no longer stay in a party led by Donald Trump. Retired army lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters, a frequent analyst on FOX News, has publicly severed ties with the network, stating that he is “ashamed” of his association with FOX for its propaganda and perpetuation of conspiracy theories, denial of facts, and attacks on the Constitution and our democratic institutions. Amid all this, a record number of Democrats are running for legislative seats in November’s primaries.

Republicans are facing all kinds of legal trouble, much of it directed at the sexual predator in chief. A judge has ruled the Summer Zervos’s defamation lawsuit against Donald may proceed—potentially opening Donald to discovery. In October of 2016, Zervos was one of 11 women accusing Donald of sexual harassment during the shooting of The Apprentice whom Donald called “liars.” Another woman claiming an affair with Donald, a former Playboy playmate, is also suing to end her NDA preventing her from speaking out about an affair with Donald. AndStormy Daniels, whose interview with 60 Minutes aired Sunday night, continues to press her suit to be released from the NDA Donald procured with hush money about their extramarital affair while Melania was recovering from childbirth.

Washington, DC, and Maryland have filed a lawsuit against Donald for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which disallows presidents from receiving gifts and payments from foreign governments without congressional approval. Because Donald refuses to divest himself of his business interests, he is receiving direct payments from foreign governments through his hotels and other businesses.

House Rep. Devin Nunes is under investigation by the Federal Election Commission for possible campaign finance violations.

The New York business commission is investigating more than a dozen Kushner Co. properties for filing false paperwork regarding rent-controlled buildings in an attempt to illegally begin construction work.

The attorney for one of the women who accused Alabama senatorial candidate (and accused child sexual predator) Roy Moore of sexual impropriety reported that a Moore supporter offered him $10K and political favors to drop the woman as a client and publicly state that he didn’t believe her.

Evidence is mounting that Steve Bannon, while working as Donald’s top campaign adviser, oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s illegal gathering of Facebook data that helped Donald win the election, along with similar Russian efforts. Robert Mueller is already all over that.

Speaking of the Russia investigation, new emails show that despite Donald and co.’s denials of George Papdopoulos’s involvement with Donald’s campaign, campaign officials urged him to open a channel of communication to create a U.S. “partnership with Russia,” and Papdopoulos’s direct contacts included Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn. Let us remember that Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

In the never-ending White House revolving door, McMaster is out. Donald’s lead legal counsel John Dowd is out.  John McCain submitted a series of pointed questions to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel about her history of involvement in torture as part of the agency’s interrogation program. McCain, often the only remnant of a moral conscience in the GOP, said, ““We now know that these techniques not only failed to deliver actionable intelligence, but actually produced false and misleading information. Most importantly, the use of torture compromised our values, stained our national honor, and threatened our historical reputation.”

Meanwhile John Bolton—Donald’s freshly minted new national security adviser, was head of a super PAC that paid more than a million dollars to Cambridge Analytica to target voters to further his national security agenda.

Scott Pruitt doesn’t seem to be changing his profligate ways—in the past seven months he’s racked up $68K in premium airfare and hotel stays on the taypayer dime. That figure does not include expenses for the aides and security who travel with him.

Donald congratulated Putin on “winning” the recent Russia election, despite specific warnings in his briefing notes in his favorite all-caps , “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” Someone in the White House leaked the info, and John Kelly is mad, y’all.

Calling BS

The teenagers from Stoneman Douglas High are teaching us a lesson in calling BS.

Politicians—and, frankly, advocacy groups—can get hung up on the wonky details of the gun debate. Rather than haggling over the definition of “assault weapon” or what the framers of the constitution meant by “well regulated,” how about we speak in blunter terms?

For example, ask your reps:

  • What is the acceptable number of shootings per year?
  • What is an appropriate number of school children murdered by guns per year?
  • How many gun-deaths by suicide does our society consider healthy?

As a nation, we’ve made progress on another epidemic by addressing it in similar terms: Auto fatalities. With improved safety standards and education, fatalities per vehicle-miles-traveled have steadily declined.

Traffic fatalities over time

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/traffic-fatalities-historical-trend-us-2016-4

While overall gun violence has declined since the 90s, the suicide rate is edging upward, and our levels of gun violence are off the charts when compared to those of other countries

Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.

Let’s follow the lead of the Stoneman Douglas survivors and call BS on any “argument” that deflects from what’s really going on.

When a politician employs one of these phrases:

“Stop politicizing a tragedy!”

“We have a constitutional right to bear arms!”

“We need to arm teachers!”

You say:

“I’m calling BS. We’ve failed our children. It’s long past time for common sense gun control measures. Get to work.”

When a politician proposes a policy other than gun control, like:

“We need to address mental health!”

“We need better background checks!”

“We need better enforcement of current laws!”

You say:

“I’m calling BS. We can do those things, too. But we mostly need common sense gun control. So get to work.”

We seem to have finally reached a tipping point in the gun debate. But only Congress and state lawmakers can bring about real change. And it’s up to us to apply pressure on them until laws are passed and lives are saved. We can do that, by calling BS.

 

Now is the Time to Combat Gun Violence

Indivisible Austin statement on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

Another day, another massacre in America and what we said after the Las Vegas shooting is still true:

“Thoughts and prayers are never going to stop these murderous acts of domestic terrorism. Senseless gun deaths will keep happening as long as Congress refuses to take action. What we need are common-sense gun control laws, which the public overwhelmingly supports.”

What’s different this time is that it’s an election year, with a groundswell of new activists ready to cast their ballots. Something else feels different: students who are not quite yet old enough to vote are speaking loudly to their representatives and letting them know that they will no longer stand for Congressional inaction in protecting our schools and our children.

We must vote out those who will not act to solve the deadly epidemic of gun violence that is sweeping our nation. Here’s a guide to where our current members of Congress stand on a number of recent issues related to the epidemic of gun violence.

“But Mental Health…!”

The GOP raises the specter of “mental health” every time there’s a mass murder, while simultaneously voting to gut the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and other mental health services. This is not a solution, it’s an excuse to do nothing.

On Feb. 28, 2017, President Trump signed HJ Resolution 40, a bill that made it easier for people with mental illness to obtain guns. Cosponsors of the bill included:

  • Michael McCaul (TX-10)
  • Bill Flores (TX-17)
  • Lamar Smith (TX-21)
  • Roger Williams (TX-25)
  • John Carter (TX-31)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) voted No. Senators Cornyn and Cruz voted for the Senate version. The bill passed largely on party lines.

People with mental illness are unfairly stigmatized in the gun control debate, and in fact some disability-rights organizations backed this bill. However, the GOP lacks any credibility on this issue, using it as a mechanism to deflect from the real solutions that they find politically impossible.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

In December 2017, all our GOP House representatives also voted for “concealed-carry reciprocity”—which is a disingenuous way of saying that the least restrictive, most “gun-friendly” laws would be recognized across state lines. This would cause a race to the bottom on gun safety standards. All the reps listed above are co-sponsors of this legislation as well. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this year.

Bump Stocks

Remember that “bump stock ban” that several of our Representatives and senators appeared to favor after October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas? It never happened.

The Gun Lobby

It’s no surprise that the NRA and other Second Amendment absolutists have given money to all of our GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate. But what is surprising is how cheaply our MoCs were bought. Except for Ted Cruz—who was a presidential candidate—our guys were all bought for less than the cost of a new Toyota.

Member of Congress 2016 gun lobby donations NRA rating
Ted Cruz $360,727 A+
John Cornyn $16,200 A+
Bill Flores $10,700 A
Michael McCaul $10,150 A
John Carter $9,500 A+
Roger Williams $4,750 A
Lamar Smith $9,650 A+
Lloyd Doggett $0 F

We can assume that these lawmakers, many of whom are millionaires, were not simply bought off by NRA donations, but by the backing of the NRA’s endorsement and rating. They believe, deeply, that there should be almost no restrictions on access to AR-15s and other weapons designed to kill other humans in large numbers. Are these the people you want representing you in Congress? Do they reflect your values?

Letter from NRA to Wisconsin Judicial candidat
This is what candidates fear from the NRA

Elections

Texas has the first primary in the nation, with early elections beginning on Tuesday, February 20. Now is the time to look at candidates’ positions on gun control and vote accordingly.

And even more importantly, we need to carry forward to November the hurt and rage we all feel about the massacres at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, in Las Vegas last year, and the inevitable shootings that will occur between now and the general election.

We really, absolutely cannot wait any longer to address the epidemic of gun violence in America.

From Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, the grassroots army of Everytown for Gun Safety:

“The millions of dollars and thousands of hours it takes to organize a march are better spent defeating @NRA darlings in the midterms, which are only 263 days away. 90% of Americans agree with us: it’s the lawmakers persuaded by money, not emotion, that we must defeat.”

Three more ways to combat gun violence in America

  1. Tell Members of Congress that thoughts and prayers are not enough
  2. Donate to Everytown for Gun Safety
  3. Read “Throw Them Out: An Action Plan to Kick out Lawmakers Beholden to the Gun Lobby”

Thank John Cornyn for Introducing Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Background Check System and Encourage Ted Cruz to Add His Name

As we enter the holiday season, we’re giving thanks where it is due.

We join Moms Demand Action and other advocacy groups in applauding Senators John Cornyn and Chris Murphy (D-CT) for introducing bipartisan legislation to improve the criminal background check system.

We also call on Ted Cruz to join his fellow Texas senator and add his name to the bill. 90% of Americans support universal background checks for all gun sales; tightening this legislation this should be a no-brainer for all lawmakers.

Almost 10 percent of Sutherland Springs’ population was wounded or murdered by gunfire. We need to break the kabuki-theater cycle of: People get shot, we call for action, they call for thoughts and prayers, we condemn their inaction and thoughts and prayers as useless and demand legislation, they say it’s too soon to politicize it, the NRA does something stupid or nothing at all.

This bill is a small step in the right direction.

As Angela Turner, a volunteer with the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action says, “This bill alone will not solve our gun violence epidemic, but it will make common sense improvements to the background check system, help keep guns away from domestic abusers and criminals, and ultimately, save lives. Congress should set politics aside, and pass this into law.”

Script for Senator John Cornyn

Thank you for working across the aisle on commonsense gun legislation. A majority of mass shooters in this country have histories of domestic violence, and we’re glad that Sen. Cornyn is working in a bipartisan way to address gaps in the background check system that allow people with dangerous histories to obtain firearms. We hope this signals a willingness to take additional steps to confront the epidemic of gun violence in our country.

Script for Senator Ted Cruz

Your colleague, John Cornyn, has cosponsored a bipartisan bill to address gaps in the background check system that allow people with dangerous histories to obtain firearms. I encourage Sen. Cruz to join his colleague and add his name to this bill. Almost 10 percent of Sutherland Springs’ population was wounded or murdered by gunfire. If that is not enough to get Senator Cruz’s attention on gun violence, then what is?

Join us on Saturday, Nov. 18 to demand that Ted Cruz give NRA blood money to victims of gun violence

Join the Nov. 18 Statewide Rally to Tell Ted Cruz to Give Blood Money to Gun Victims

View this event on Facebook

Multiple Indivisible groups will be hosting a rally in support of the victims of gun violence on Saturday November 18 at Senator Ted Cruz’s office in Austin. This is a statewide action, with sister rallies occurring in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Please join us as we tell Ted Cruz that we stand against the NRA and with the victims of gun violence.

Constituents Take Ted Cruz to Task on NRA Ties

Gun Safety Advocates: Donate NRA Contributions to Families Gun Violence Victims

WHO: Indivisible Austin, Wilco Indivisible, Indivisible Houston, Pantsuit Republic Houston, Indivisible Austin, Indivisible TX Lege, TX21 Indivisible, TX20 Indivisible, TX23 Indivisible, TX28 Indivisible, TX35 Indivisible-San Antonio, and Women’s March on Washington-San Antonio and many more

WHAT: Statewide action 

WHEN: Saturday, November 18th, 2017, 10:00 AM

WHERE: Offices of Senator Ted Cruz in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio

WHY: To demand the surrender and donation of NRA contributions and push for comprehensive gun reforms.

Given the recent shootings in Sutherland and Las Vegas, The People are taking mass action across Texas to raise awareness for comprehensive public safety protections from shootings. This Saturday, protests at the offices of Ted Cruz will call on the Senator to donate the $360,000 he has taken from Ammo lobby to the families of the victims of gun violence. The action also calls for closing gun loopholes by demanding universal background checks and universal criminal data sharing.

Stricter gun laws in the name of public safety and protections for the masses are popular with the public. A recent Gallup poll shows that 96% of Americans believe in universal background checks for all gun purchases, while 64% of Americans say they support stricter gun laws. An overwhelming majority believe stricter gun laws would reduce mass shootings in the United States.

It’s time to put an end to business as usual for the Ammo Industrial Complex, which has gotten away with endangering The People while lining the pockets of politicians and turning them into gun lobby surrogates. The NRA’s silence in the wake of the death of concealed carrier Philando Castile and the organization’s violent propaganda against peaceful advocates shows that the NRA is less concerned with protecting the 2nd Amendment than they are undermining the First Amendment and turning blood in the streets into cash in the bank.

Las Vegas: Enough is Enough

After the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, and the 273rd this year, there’s very little left to say.

Thoughts and prayers are never going to stop these murderous acts of domestic terrorism. Senseless gun deaths will keep happening as long as Congress refuses to take action. What we need are common-sense gun control laws, which the public overwhelmingly supports.

But shills for the gun lobby–which is, let’s face it, exactly what nearly the entire Texas Republican Congressional delegation are–continue to stop it from happening. How many more kids have to be murdered? How many more parents have to bury their children? How many more families have to be torn apart?

Enough.

Many among us are gun owners, and we refuse to be bullied into silence by the NRA, which has spent months engaged in race-baiting and calls to violence against people of color, and anyone who calls for common-sense legislation.

We demand action. Congress must act. Thoughts and prayers are insufficient. The time for sensible gun legislation is now.

This week, the US House was slated to vote to ease curbs on silencers. If the Las Vegas gunman had used a silencer, it would have been harder for first responders to detect the source of gunfire.

Ironically, the last vote on this bill had to be rescheduled following the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise in June. If the GOP plans to wait to schedule a vote until the crisis of gun violence abates, they are going to be waiting a long time. (Update: the bill was predictably delayed.)

It is also worth noting that every single one of our Austin-area GOP reps co-sponsored this bill. That’s Michael McCaul, Bill Flores, Lamar Smith, Roger Williams, and John Carter — plus many other Texas reps, including Democrats Henry Cuellar and Gene Green.

Call your reps today and tell them enough is enough. We need common sense gun regulation, not more mass shootings and NRA propaganda.