A Visualization Of The Democrats’ Positions On 5 Important Issues

— by Andrew Breiner | Oct 14, 2015, 12:59 pm

In Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, candidates not only avoided boring their audience, but managed to discuss policy and solutions to real-world problems so that voters will be able to make an informed choice between them. That is to say, they had a political debate. It was a far cry from the Republican debates that have been held so far, where focal points included conspiracy theories about vaccines and Donald Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t call all women pigs, just Rosie O’Donnell.

Candidates challenged each other on key issues like gun control and marijuana legalization, and clarified their own positions on reforming Wall Street and college affordability. We’ve collected the stances of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley on some of the most prominent topics of debate:

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This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. Like CAP Action on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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Close the Gun Show Loophole

Some weapons are too dangerous for civilian use.

— by Elizabeth Rose, Communications Director, Campaign for America’s Future

Elizabeth Rose

Dozens of Americans will be murdered, hundreds of others will be shot, and nearly 1,000 will be robbed or assaulted with a gunTODAY.

The United States has some of the weakest gun laws in the world. To make us, our families, and our communities safer, we need to beef up a few of those laws — now.

As President Barack Obama has urged, Congress should vote soon on common-sense gun laws that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Sensible steps include requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale, making gun trafficking a federal crime, and banning the military-style assault weapon that killed so many people in Newtown on December 14.

It’s madness to allow guns to be sold to felons with a history of gun violence or to the mentally ill. That’s why current law requires that no gun can be sold by a licensed gun dealer without a criminal background check. But millions of guns are sold by unlicensed sellers at gun shows and through websites with no background checks. We need to strengthen current law to cover all gun sales. The few minutes it takes to complete a computerized check would save lives.

NRA-education-cartoon

NRA Lesson Plan, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

The federal background check law has blocked more than 1.5 million illegal gun sales over the past 14 years. It works. The problem is that the law doesn’t apply to private sales, so the bad guys (and gals) can avoid a background check and get any kind of gun, no questions asked.

Both the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the national Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed mandatory, universal background checks because they know they will save lives. It’s time to close the gun show loophole.

I support the Second Amendment. Even gun owners overwhelmingly favor requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun. It will lead to fewer firearm deaths.

Some weapons are too dangerous for civilian use. That’s why the federal government imposed taxes and strict regulations on the manufacturing and distribution of sawed-off shotguns, silencers, very high-caliber firearms, grenades, and bombs nearly 80 years ago. Military-style assault weapons — like the one used to murder defenseless children and educators in Newtown — are versions of military weapons that are designed for rapid fire. They’re weapons of war, and like machine guns, extremely dangerous. We’d be safer without them.

And hunters and sportspeople don’t use these weapons to kill game. Rapid fire is contrary to the whole point of the sport. In the decade that the federal ban on assault weapons was in effect, the percentage of assault weapons traced to crime fell by 66 percent. The ban worked.

Some gun accessories should be outlawed. High-capacity ammunition magazines are designed to shoot a lot of people, quickly. There is no hunting or sporting purpose for these magazines — and that was a major reason for the ban on them between 1994 and 2004. Just like silencers, high-capacity magazines are simply too dangerous for sale to civilians.

The Tucson massacre is a good example. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ shooter had an ammunition magazine with 31 bullets. He was tackled after he shot out his clip and was trying to reload. If the magazine had only 10 rounds, a lot of lives could have been saved.

Let’s work together. Let’s ask our leaders to prevent the next mentally ill person from going to a gun show and buying an automatic weapon with a huge magazine without getting a background check. The police chiefs are asking for this.

What is Washington waiting for?


Elizabeth Rose is the communications director for the Campaign for America’s Future, an organization that promotes progressive policies. Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org

Getting Small Arms Out of the Wrong Hands

The NRA shouldn’t be allowed to derail Senate support of a new global weapons agreement.

— by Don Kraus, President/CEO of Global Solutions

Don Kraus

Did you know that international laws dictate the rules of the game when it comes to selling bananas and iPods, but not grenade launchers and AK-47s?

It’s crazy but true. Fortunately, a solution is at hand. Negotiators at the United Nations will soon wrap up a global Arms Trade Treaty that will establish much-needed rules to prevent selling arms to human rights violators.

Every year, more than 500,000 people around the world are killed as a result of armed violence. Firearms are used in armed conflicts and to carry out human rights violations, including genocide, gang rape, and the practice of forcing children into combat as under-aged soldiers.

There are about 250,000 child soldiers.

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Roughly 60 percent of documented human rights violations involve the use of small arms (such as rifles and machine guns) and light weapons (such as grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles). In fact, more human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other category of weapon.

The new Arms Trade Treaty sets uniform standards for international arms sales that will bring foreign governments up to U.S. standards and move the black markets out of the shadows. It will protect legitimate trade while holding governments accountable for selling arms to human rights violators. Without the treaty, warlords and terrorists will continue to get weapons used to force child soldiers to kill their parents, to attack American soldiers and missionaries, and to rape refugee women and girls.

U.S. support for this agreement should be a no-brainer.

The UN resolution that authorized the treaty talks ensured that the agreement only dealt with international sales and reserved “the exclusive right of [individual nations] to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership.”

Despite this assurance, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has gone on record saying the Arms Trade Treaty will threaten Americans’ rights to bear arms. The February 2013 cover story from the NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom pushes a baseless conspiracy that the treaty will be used by “the minions of tyrannical and thieving governments” to achieve “total disarmament of freedom-loving people all over the world.”

Even a senior research fellow from the very conservative Heritage Foundation, Ted Bromund, has debunked this big lie.

“I don’t think that the [Arms Trade Treaty] is a gun confiscation measure for a variety of reasons,” Bromund said. “First, because I don’t regard that as within the bounds of possibility in the United States and secondly, because that is not what the text says.”

The NRA shouldn’t be allowed to derail support for the agreement when it gets to the Senate. This treaty is in America’s security, business, and moral interests. Not only is it good for our nation to have all countries operating from the same rule book, it’s also our responsibility. The United States, after all, is the top global supplier of major conventional weapons.

Fortunately, the White House is backing efforts to establish this treaty. And there’s broad support for it among U.S. military, religious, and human rights leaders.

Americans are debating our own gun safety laws with more fervor than we’ve seen in years. It’s also time for our nation and our senators to get behind a sensible agreement to protect millions around the world and at home.

Don Kraus is the President and CEO of GlobalSolutions.org.
Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org

Anti-Government ‘Patriot’ Groups Ramp Up Again

We live in frightening times.

— by Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center

It’s déjà vu all over again.

Twenty years ago, the passage of the Brady gun control bill helped ignite the first wave of the “Patriot” movement, a combustible mix of gun-toting militias and baseless conspiracy theories about government perfidy that culminated in the 1995 mass murder of 168 people in an Oklahoma City federal building.

As this year began, the first serious talk of gun control since the early 1990s, a reaction to the slaying of 26 people in a Connecticut elementary school, set off a comparable furor. Along with enraged howls from the radical right, even some more or less in the political mainstream, like ConservativeDaily.com’s Tony Adkins, took a page from the Patriot movement as they warned that “martial law” and “suspension of the U.S. constitution” could be coming at any moment.

Patriot leaders like Chuck Baldwin vowed to refuse to register or surrender their weapons, calling on other pastors to do likewise. The Oath Keepers, a Patriot group composed of present and former members of law enforcement and the military, said its people would never succumb to such “unconstitutional filth.” Other Patriots warnesd furiously of secession, nullification, even civil war.

We live in frightening times.

Before the first wave of the Patriot movement died down at the end of the 1990s, law enforcement officials had broken up scores of terrorist plots aimed at the government and others. Now, after four years of a major Patriot resurgence, it seems likely that the movement and its violence will spurt ahead yet again, driven, as it was in the 1990s, in large part by hatred of gun control. The other powerful drivers of the movement have been the re-election of President Barack Obama — who, like Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, is seen as a liberal traitor — and the sorry economy.

The movement’s resurgence since 2008, when there were just 149 Patriot organizations, has been dramatic. As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported this week, that number reached an astounding 1,360 groups in 2012, a rise of 813 percent in four years. At the same time, the number of hate groups remained above 1,000, as it has since 2010.

Patriot groups are now working overtime to stoke the political flames.     Richard Mack was an iconic hero of the Patriot movement in the 1990s, when he was an Arizona sheriff who sued the Clinton administration and won, triggering a weakening of the Brady Bill’s background checks for gun buyers. Now, Mack is back as head of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, and he says that of 200 sheriffs he met with recently, most “have said they would lay down their lives first rather than allow any more federal control.”

Once again, the threat of violence seems to be looming. Already, to the surprise of some analysts, a major new study of domestic political violence from the radical right — “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” by the director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point — found that right-wing violence is up by a factor of four from the 1990s.

Eighteen years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote then-Attorney General Janet Reno to warn about extremists in the militia movement, saying that the “mixture of armed groups and those who hate” was “a recipe for disaster.” Just six months later, the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed.

Today, with our country’s political polarization at historic levels and government officials being furiously demonized by Patriots, we may be approaching a comparable moment.

In the 1990s, warnings that might have prevented some of the violence from the radical right failed to stick. Now, as we face another large and growing threat from the extremists of the Patriot movement, the country needs to do better. One important start would be to demand that the Department of Homeland Security, which gutted its non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit after unjustified criticism from the political right, rebuild its important intelligence capabilities.


Mark Potok is a Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the author of its new report on the rise of right-wing extremist groups. SPLCenter.org   Distributed via OtherWords. OtherWords.org

Sabotaging the Conversation about Guns

The NRA’s antics could hinder global efforts to reduce weapons sales to terrorists and regimes that abuse human rights.

— by Don Kraus

Don Kraus

Does NRA stand for “No Rational Argument”? In response to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun group’s CEO called for an armed cop in every school and a national database to track the mentally ill. Wayne LaPierre’s widely broadcast proposal prompted the New York Daily News to ask whether this list “should include the paranoid, delusional man himself?”

But this is far from a laughing matter. When it comes to gun violence within the United States and around the entire world, the NRA makes our planet a much more dangerous place for our children and families by using lies, misinformation, and political arm-twisting to support easier access to assault weapons and ammunition.

In the days and weeks to come, debates will rage within the United States on how we can best address the 30 mass shootings that, since 1999, have left over 260 people dead and many more permanently disabled. The NRA will work hard to derail attempts in statehouses and in the nation’s Capitol to tighten controls on the assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. But in New York, there’s another debate brewing where the NRA will also attempt to play the role of spoiler: the upcoming negotiations at the United Nations to establish a worldwide Arms Trade Treaty. The gun group’s antics could impact the lives of millions around the world.

imageIn March, negotiators will meet at the UN for a final round of talks to hammer out a set of common global standards on how countries import, export, and transfer conventional weapons. Every year, 12 billion bullets are produced worldwide. That’s enough to kill nearly everyone on the planet twice. Yet, bananas have stricter international trade regulations than weapons and ammunition.

The Arms Trade Treaty is a common-sense measure that would make it more difficult for weapons to be sold on the black market and halt the flow of weapons to dangerous regimes. This treaty, if enacted, would stop the irresponsible transfer of ammunition and arms to nations that support terrorists and to countries where there is a high risk of weapons being used to violate human rights, like in Syria and Bahrain.

The UN resolution that authorized the treaty talks made sure that the agreement only dealt with international sales and reserved “the exclusive right of (individual nations) to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership.”

Despite this assurance, the NRA’s LaPierre has gone on record saying the Arms Trade Treaty will threaten Americans’ rights to bear arms. Even a senior research fellow from the very conservative Heritage Foundation, Ted Bromund, has debunked this big lie.

“I don’t think that the ATT is a gun confiscation measure for a variety of reasons,” Bromund said. “First, because I don’t regard that as within the bounds of possibility in the United States and secondly, because that is not what the text says.”

But facts have never gotten in the way of those determined to use controversy and fabrication to undermine civil debate. Take Bradlee Dean, a heavy metal drummer, ordained minister, and a columnist for the arch-right publication World Net Daily. He has called the Sandy Hook shootings part of a government plot to win support for the Arms Trade Treaty. As “evidence” he notes that the shootings happened “just days after Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sent out an alert that the UN was set to pass the final version of the Small Arms Treaty, supported by Obama the day after the election.”

While it would be easy to dismiss Dean as delusional and LaPierre as paranoid, their tactics and goals undermine efforts to protect children and families at home and abroad.

Our nation is clearly ready for a healthy debate on our relationship with guns. The question is, are we prepared to stand together to discredit those who deploy lies and fear to sabotage the conversation?


Don Kraus is the president and CEO of GlobalSolutions.org, a groundbreaking movement of Americans who support a cooperative and responsible U.S. role in the world. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)