Saturday, August 29, 2015

Gun Safety Update!

Gun Rights Win A Major Victory In Federal Court, And That’s Actually A Good Thing.
On the surface, a federal appeals court’s decision in United States v. Meza-Rodriguez concerns a fairly narrow issue — whether “unauthorized non-U.S. citizens within our borders” enjoy Second Amendment gun rights. Should the Supreme Court ultimately conclude that undocumented immigrants do not enjoy these rights, however, that decision could severely harm their ability to remain free from harassment by police. Hidden just one level below the surface in Meza-Rodriguez is the question of whether “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” which is protected by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, applies to undocumented immigrants at all.

Like the Fourth Amendment, the Second Amendment refers to a right that belongs to “the people” — “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In Meza-Rodriguez, the Justice Department argued that an undocumented immigrant charged with violating a federal law forbidding him from possessing a firearm is not part of “the people” who benefit from this Second Amendment right. Undocumented immigrants, this argument goes, are not “members of the political community,” and thus cannot be understood as part of “the people” as those words are used in the Constitution.

If this argument ultimately prevails, it will have profound ripple effects that extend far beyond the subject of guns. As mentioned above, the Fourth Amendment also refers to a right belonging to “the people,” so if that term does not include undocumented immigrants, their rights to be free from abusive police tactics could be severely curtailed. Similarly, the First Amendment refers to “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Those rights could also potentially be stripped from undocumented immigrants if the Justice Department’s arguments prevail.

In Meza-Rodriguez, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit did not side with the Justice Department’s arguments, but that places them alone among the federal appeals courts that have considered this issue. As Judge Diane Wood explains in her opinion for the court, the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Circuits have all agreed that, at least for Second Amendment purposes, undocumented immigrants are not part of “the people.” At least one of these courts, the conservative Fifth Circuit, also cast a cloud of doubt over whether the Fourth Amendment “extends to a native and citizen of another nation who entered and remained in the United States illegally.”

The fact that federal courts of appeal are divided on this question makes it very likely that it will eventually wind up in front of the Supreme Court, as the justices commonly agree to hear cases in order to resolve splits among federal circuit courts.

In casting aside the claim that undocumented immigrants categorically are not part of “the people” protected by the various parts of the Constitution, Judge Wood’s opinion relies heavily on a previous Supreme Court decision which said that “aliens receive constitutional protections when they have come within the territory of the United States and developed substantial connections with this country.” The defendant in Meza-Rodriguez lived in the United States for years, attended public schools and “developed close relationships with family members and other acquaintances” in the United States and worked in this country. According to the Seventh Circuit, that was more than enough to establish the kind of “substantial connections” to the United States necessary to bring him under the Constitution’s umbrella.

In other cases, where a state and not the federal government finds itself pitted against an undocumented immigrant, the immigrant will have another powerful argument that they can deploy against attempts to limit their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court has held that various protections in the Bill of Rights, including the Second and Fourth Amendment, are also implicit in the Fourteenth Amendment, which forbids states from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

The relevant language in the Fourteenth Amendment refers to “any person,” so state lawyers attempting to strip rights from undocumented immigrants are in the awkward position of claiming that immigrants who are not lawfully present in the United States are not people.

Nevertheless, the fact that three federal appeals courts disagree with the Seventh Circuit indicates that the rights of undocumented immigrants are far from secure. And, given the common language that appears in multiple amendments, a loss in a Second Amendment case could have enormous consequences for the rights of undocumented immigrants who are harassed by police.

Wednesday morning, Andy Parker's daughter Alison was gunned down on live television. That night, he took back the airwaves to deliver a passionate and powerful call to action:
"I’m not gonna let this issue drop. Next week it isn’t going to be a story anymore, and everybody’s going to forget it. But you mark my words… I’m gonna do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation, to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don’t get guns."
And today, I'm answering his call. As a father whose child was shot to death, I feel Andy's pain as if it were my own. When my son was killed, I committed myself to this mission, and now I'm standing with Andy as he joins the fight, too.

Andy, I promise we won't let anyone forget your daughter Alison or what a caring, wonderful young woman she was. I promise we're going to close loopholes and strengthen gun laws. I promise we're going to save lives.

Help me answer Andy's call to do "whatever it takes" by making a call to Congress right now and demanding they do something to fix our country's broken gun laws.
Whatever it Takes
In the coming weeks, we're going to flood our elected officials' inboxes and voicemails, we're going to be on the ground at the Capitol, we're going to be on their televisions and computer screens and radio stations. We won't let them forget.

Andy's words are more than just those of a grieving father -- his plea represents the outrage of a majority of Americans fed up with accepting daily murder as the status quo.
Alison and fellow journalist Adam Ward are the latest victims of an extraordinarily violent summer -- from Charleston to Lafayette, to houses and street corners across the country. And it's on us to tell our elected officials that we won't take another season like this one.

We owe it to the 88 killed and hundreds more injured every day in this country to let our representatives know: If Congress won't change our gun laws, we'll change Congress.

Make a call now and be one of thousands of angry Americans demanding Congress finally take action to stop the senseless violence.

Not one more parent should feel this pain. Stay tuned for what's ahead.

The father of Alison Parker, the young female journalist shot on air yesterday, has made an emotional plea for politicians to climb out of the “pockets of the NRA” and pass real gun violence legislation. President Obama is on his way the New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of Katrina – but Bobby Jindal doesn’t want him to talk about climate change while he’s there. And while Jindal’s worried about “climate change politics,” a group of scientists has tried to replicate studies frequently cited as evidence against man-made global warming – and were unable to reproduce any of the results. Those stories and more, in your top news of the day:

Father Of Murdered Journalist Blasts NRA, Promises Tireless Fight For Gun Control
The father of slain journalist Alison Parker, who was killed in a tragic shooting on live television Wednesday, is calling on politicians to stop being “cowards in the pockets of the NRA” and pass meaningful gun violence legislation....(read more)
A Message from Gabby Giffords: We were reminded yet again of the importance of our work when two young journalists were shot and killed on live television in Roanoke, Virginia. 

While many of the details are still unknown, our hearts go out to their families, friends, and colleagues.

Our country has a gun violence problem. And time and time again, when we petition our elected officials to act on solutions that would make us all safer from this epidemic, we are told that it's a "tough vote" or a "complicated issue."

I've taken tough votes on difficult issues, and the truth is, this is neither tough nor complicated. The data is clear: action will save lives.

When I was shot, messages of support poured into my office. The well-wishes meant a lot to me during a difficult time. Let's do the same for the newsroom where these two journalists worked.

Add your name and note of support to the staff at WDBJ7, and I'll be sure they receive your messages as they navigate through their grief in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

The truth is, shootings like this happen every day. Often they take place behind closed doors in homes, schools, churches, and movie theaters. But this time, it happened live on television, and in a horrific video captured by the assailant posted online for the world to see.

All of these victims -- the ones we read about, and the ones we don't -- deserve action. I'm committed to making sure that happens.

Two young journalists were shot and killed during a live TV broadcast. The woman they were interviewing was critically wounded. As a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, seeing this horror caught on camera opened new wounds for Colin Goddard .

One of the most important things we can do right now is let Alison, Adam, and Vicki's families, friends and colleagues know that we care about them.

Send a message of support to the friends and family of Alison Parker, Adam Ward, and Vicki Gardner. We'll personally deliver your message to the WDBJ7 news station.
Our Thoughts and Prayers are With You. Sign the Card.
Adam was 27 years old. Alison had just turned 24. These bright, young people both leave behind many loved ones and colleagues who they considered family. Vicki Gardner, director of the Regional Chamber of Commerce, is in the hospital.

The few seconds of horror broadcasted on live TV gave us all a glimpse into the reality of gun violence in America. They were at a water park, not a war zone. This kind of thing shouldn't happen in our country.

Please join me in sending a message of condolence and support to all those affected by this morning's shooting:

Prevent Accidental Gun Deaths: Require Gun Liability Insurance
Sign the Petition 
Chances are, you've seen one of these tragic stories in Cherry Hill's local newspaper — a child, an unsecured firearm, and an entirely preventable death.
We know that this common-sense approach can save lives. States where gun owners are held responsible for proper firearms storage saw accidental child firearms deaths decline by nearly a quarter.
This is exactly the kind of common sense gun law that we should all be able to agree on. Please sign this lifesaving petition now.
Just this week, a Georgia mother was killed when her four-year-old shot her in the head after he found a gun in her car. Earlier this month, a nine-year-old boy shot his half brother while playing with an unsecured firearm.
These people didn't have to die, and the accidental killers could have been spared a lifetime of trauma if only these guns had been secured by their owners.
Thanks for taking the time to make a difference. Together, we can prevent gun accidents and save lives.