Author Archives: Grif

Friday Funnies – Getting Old

The hassle of getting old. Not that I actually have  experience in any of these situations. Enjoy.

~ Grif

   

 

 

 

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SNAFU Royale: Why VA Healthcare Still Sucks

I have never been a fan of the VA healthcare system. But this is beyond the pale.

From “VA cuts off Van Nuys assisted living home that reported visit to veteran who had died,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2019

VA assisted living

Federal officials pulled veterans from a Van Nuys assisted living home after finding that the facility had reported a social worker visiting a veteran who had been dead for four days, according to a report released Thursday.

The investigation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also found serious medication errors at the California Villa home. A 100-year-old veteran with sepsis was denied prescribed antibiotics because they were “not covered by Medicare” and ended up hospitalized a second time, the report said.

Another veteran received a double dose of medication and a third was denied prescription drugs and charged $5 a meal because he preferred eating in his room rather than the cafeteria.

Authorities from Washington, D.C., blamed the VA’s Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System for failing to investigate and address “serious residential care concerns” at the facility, but added that program administrators had not reported the problems to upper management.

The healthcare system had California Villa on an approved list, and helped place veterans there, but

The investigation was initiated by the U.S. Special Counsel based on whistleblower complaints.

“I am shocked that such lax oversight of facilities providing critical care for vulnerable veterans ever occurred,” Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said in a letter Thursday to the White House. The investigation findings were also relayed to congressional oversight committees.

The California Department of Social Services had sought to revoke California Villa’s license after finding that the facility in 2017 had not addressed serious safety issues stemming from a resident’s repeated assaults on other residents, which resulted in at least one hospitalization, state records show.

The state agency also found that staff did not adequately clean feces from the furniture.

A new license for the facility was issued in March under the name California Green Tree Villa Ast Lvg & Memory Care. It is licensed for 200 residents.

Administrator Jacqueline Beltran said the facility changed hands Aug. 1, and added that she would relay questions to the new owners, who did not respond.

Kerner, in his letter, said VA investigators found California Villa facilities in “disrepair” and its medicine room disorganized.

The false report of the visit to a dead veteran stemmed from a misidentification by California Villa staff, investigators said.

The veteran was living on a locked ward for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or who were at risk of wandering. When a case worker arrived for a visit, California Villa staff directed her to the wrong resident, the investigation found. After the mix-up was discovered, an addendum was added to the veteran’s case notes saying, “Please delete, wrong veteran.”

Investigators said the confusion called into question whether other residents had received incorrect medication.

The VA investigators did not uphold a whistleblower complaint that a VA manager had improper relationships with patients.

Werner praised the whistleblowers for bringing the problems to light and said one of them hoped the VA would investigate further allegations of a bedbug infestation and other problems.

~ Grif

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ID’s? We don’t need no stinking IDs!

An American citizen who wants to board a commercial airplane must first show a government issued photo identification card to a federal agent, and then undergo a search that includes an X-ray and frequently a hand search of all carry-on items, taking off your shoes and belt, dumping EVERYHHING out of your pockets, and, finally, undergoing a full-body scan, with your hands over your head, by a machine that shows an image of EVERYTHING beneath your clothing as if you had walked through the scanner buck naked. It is the electronic equivalent of a full body strip search.

Oooooh baby!

But, there is one demographic that neither has to show an ID, nor or undergo a security check.

Yes, you guessed it.

Illegal aliens.

Since December 2018, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has permitted illegal aliens released from custody to board domestic flights without having any of 15 forms of identification typically required for airline travel, the Washington Examiner reported exclusively on Thursday. The practice has been in place for at least six months and perhaps considerably longer, according to some sources.

A TSA spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that illegal aliens could fly without identification as long as they provided Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form I-862, the “Notice to Appear” form that is provided to immigrants who have applied for asylum, passed a credible fear assessment, and could wait up to five years for a federal judge to decide their case.

The form can serve as identification because it is only issued after a background check has been conducted on the applicant while in federal custody, the spokesperson noted.

The TSA’s website lists 15 forms of identification acceptable to travel, which are:

•Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
•U.S. passport
•U.S. passport card
•DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
•U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
•Permanent resident card
•Border crossing card
•DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
•Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
•HSPD-12 PIV card
•Foreign government-issued passport
•Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
•Transportation worker identification credential
•U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
•U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

However, form I-862 is not listed as an acceptable form of identification, and it isn’t provided until 180 days after approval of a credible fear claim.

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official told the Washington Examiner that Form I-862’s sole purpose is to tell applicants when to appear in court, and it cannot authorize applicants to travel.

“TSA accepts identification documentation issued by other government agencies, which is validated through the issuing agency. All passengers are then subject to appropriate screening measures,” the TSA said in a statement to Washington Examiner.

But, Republican Rep. Steve King tweeted Wednesday, “Illegals enter the U.S. every day with no ID. Until recently, DHS didn’t even finger print those under 14 but has flown illegals of all ages to every state. No way they all have valid ID’s. If they fly commercial, TSA has to be waiving the valid ID requirement.”

Illegal aliens may have used Form I-862s as identification for travel since 2014.

In 2014, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council Shawn Moran told KFOX14 that border patrol agents had observed TSA agents accepting the I-862 form and allowing the illegals to fly wherever they pleased with no questions asked.

“These documents are easily reproduced on any type of copier or home computer, they have no photographs, so there’s really no way to verify that the person holding them is actually who they say they are,” Moran told KFOX14 at the time. “We’re just concerned that the commercial transportation system could be exploited by somebody claiming to be another person.”

~ Grif

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Felon farts marijuana after shooting himself in the testicles

Source: KPRC AM 950

From Fox News.com.com, May 24

A bungling felon from Washington state made a series of blunders when he shot himself in the testicles and tried to hide the weapon — all while storing drugs in his anus, a report said Wednesday.

Cameron Jeffrey Wilson, 27, was carrying a pistol in his front pocket while in his Cashmere, Wash., apartment on April 5 when the firearm accidentally discharged and pierced his groin and thigh, according to the Wenatchee World News.

Wilson, who is a 13-time convicted felon, told his girlfriend to dispose of the weapon before heading to the hospital, the paper said.

When the ex-con finally went to the hospital, a balloon of marijuana slipped out of his anus while a doctor was operating on the gunshot wound, court records show.

Cops also arrived at the hospital when alerted of the gunshot wound and searched Wilson’s car where they discovered a bag of meth in the blood-stained jeans he was wearing when he shot himself. The officers issued an arrest warrant for Wilson and he turned himself in to police on April 18.

As he was being processed at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center, Wilson was strip-searched and another balloon of marijuana slipped from his anus, the paper said.

While in jail, Wilson made a number of calls to his girlfriend and asked her not to cooperate with investigators working on his case. Authorities were listening in on the calls.

The convicted felon was charged with possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of meth, possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility, and four counts of tampering with a witness.

Wilson was being held on $110,000 bail and is due in court on June 18.

~ Grif

Pic of Wilson added by Dr. Eowyn

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Illegal alien charged with mass rape and murder is found hiding in Massachusetts

An illegal Guatemalan alien who was first deported in 2004, has been  arrested in Massachusetts where he had been hiding to avoid charges in his homeland of the rape and mass murder of at least 70 women and 107 children, all of whom were members of the Maya Achi indigenous people.

From MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.

An undocumented Guatemalan accused of sexually assaulting indigenous women before they were slaughtered in a 1982 massacre was caught hiding in Massachusetts, federal authorities said.

Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, 64, was found in Waltham on April 30 nearly a year after Interpol sent a notice looking for him, according to a federal affidavit. Alvarado told a federal immigration agent that he was a member of the Rabinal civil defense patrol, one of several militias that helped Guatemalan armed forces in the massacres of the indigenous Maya Achi people in the early 1980s.

Alvarado, who was once deported after illegally entering the country in 2004, was arrested on April 30 and charged with illegal re-entry, a felony. He was arraigned Tuesday on the re-entry charge and detained.

“Mr. Cuxum Alvarado is in Massachusetts illegally, evading accountability for human rights violations in Guatemala,” U.S. District Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said. “While many immigrants come to this country seeking a better life, Mr. Cuxum Alvarado came here illegally, to escape a dark, criminal past. This case highlights the important work of Homeland Security Investigations and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] in identifying and removing war criminals, human rights violators, and other dangerous aliens who illegally seek a safe haven in the United States.”

Local, federal government officials can’t agree over basic facts in ICE courthouse arrests; judge may need more evidence

Judge Indira Talwani said she needed to “dig in” and may need additional evidence from the federal government and the local district attorneys suing.

According to the affidavit, authorities in Guatemala charged Alvarado in May 2018 with crimes against humanity for allegedly participating in the mass sexual assault of Maya Achi women of Rio Negro on May 13, 1982.

The 1982 attack was one of several in the Rio Negro massacres that left more than 400 Maya Achi people dead. Hundreds of others were forcibly evicted.

Most of the men had been killed or had fled by the time Guatemalan armed forces and civil defense patrols entered the village on May 13, 1982. The soldiers forced the remaining women and children to march out of the village, according to the affidavit.

The women and children were threatened, beaten and raped by soldiers and civil defense patrol members. Then they were hanged, stabbed with machetes or shot in an area called Cerro Pacoxom. At least 70 women and 107 children were murdered, according to the affidavit.

Years after the country’s civil war ended, Guatemalan investigators looked into Alvarado’s alleged role in the 1982 attack. In 2018, the Guatemalan government charged him in the mass sexual assaults, the affidavit states.

It is unclear when Alvarado re-entered the United States, but he could not be located in Guatemala when he was charged. The Guatemalan government obtained an Interpol notice about Alvarado on May 28, 2018, asking law enforcement agencies worldwide to provisionally arrest him pending extradition.

Matthew Langille, a special agent with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, wrote in the affidavit that Alvarado admitted to being a member of the Rabinal civil defense patrols between 1980 and 1984, during the time of the attacks.

“Homeland Security Investigations looks forward to the disturbing and egregious allegations against this individual being openly and fairly adjudicated in federal court,” said Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge of HSI in Boston.

~ Grif

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Thursday Funnies: Trump Cleans House

Just for fun. Mild mannered President Trump discusses politics with a few libtards. Enjoy! (Note: You may have to activate the sound manually when the video begins.)

??? AOC at the end is the best part!#SwampFight #MAGA

Posted by President Trump Fans on Friday, February 22, 2019

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As Iranian economy nears total collapse, Iran bans men from looking at women during Ramadan

Men in Iran have been ordered not to look at women during Ramadan as part of a round of draconian restrictions imposed by the increasingly isolated regime.

In a sign of frustration with growing civil discontent and economic pain caused by US sanctions, hardliners in Iran’s government are forcing through unusually strict social diktats to bring people into line. The country’s judiciary has announced that those eating in public during the fasting period are also in breach of laws and will be prosecuted.

Iranian women are not exempt from the hard line religious rules.

Since 1980 Iranian women have been required to wear a headscarf in public at all times while in Iran, and if found violating those rules, they are subject to two months in prison or a $25 fine, according to the Associated Press.

As protests against headscarves have intensified since 2017, Iranian law enforcement have toughened their stance against dissidents. One such example is human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoude, who received a seven-year prison sentence just for defending women’s rights activists.

“My personal advice to women is to respect the hijab even more than before and gentlemen must avoid looking directly at female passersby,” Gholam- Hossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesperson said.

“Anyone ignoring these instructions during the Ramadan will be committing an offense and should expect some punishment from the law enforcement units.”

Those who break the rules will be punished, from fines to arrest and imprisonment, depending on the crime.

Along with banning men from looking at women, the Iranian government also announced bans on eating in public, and playing music in cars, as part of a new social crackdown. The morality police in Iran added that they will now arrest anyone playing music on their car radio and will tow their car away and hand them a heavy fine.

The strict new rules are said to be a product of Iran’s increasing civil unrest, allowing the government to maintain some semblance of control over its discontented people.

Iranian authorities are also investigating viral videos of Iranian schoolgirls and some teachers smiling while dancing to a pop song by U.S.-Iranian rapper Sassy. Officials have deployed specialist teams to determine the source of the video.

“The enemy is trying different ways to create anxiety among the people including by spreading these disturbing videos,” Iran’s Education minister Mohammad Bathaei said, according to The Daily Mail. “I’m certain there’s some kind of political plot behind the publication of these devious clips in schools.”

Iran’s Guardian Councilmember Ayatollah Abbas Ka’bi called the videos fuel for “the enemy’s cultural war” against Iran.

Iran’s society has felt the pressure from the devalued currency, the Rial, which has nearly collapsed. Last week the value of US dollar against the Rial reached record high with one dollar selling at 16,000 Rials on black markets.

Iran’s economy is beset by a near 50 percent inflation; its currency has almost collapsed; labor and civil servants strikes are commonplace, and the conservative establishment faces an increasing women’s rights movement. Recently, Iranian male and female students have been protesting Iran’s mandatory headscarf law.

In addition, Iran’s agriculture industry is in critical condition.

Recent nationwide floods have left farming lands of 26 provinces in ruin and diseases are threatening millions in the rural areas of Iran.

Even beyond those crises, recent changes in the country’s leadership structure suggest an internal clampdown on any open challenge to the regime’s authority at home.

Last month the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed the fiery General Hossein Salami as the new commander of the Revolutionary Guard, and the ultra-conservative clergy Ebrahim Raeesi as the chief judge.

However, senior Iranian officials have warned about the public discontent turning into street protests, as food and fuel rationing similar to those during the war with Iraq have been suggested by the government as options to deal with the shortages.

Hossein Salami of the Revolutionary Guard said: “The holy month of Ramadan is a reminder to us for being steadfast in our confrontation with the world arrogance as they seem to have a war deployment against us in all economic, cultural and social fronts, but not in physical manner. Our mission is to block all their paths and defuse their plots by any means we can.”

Rouhani’s first deputy Eshagh Jahangir has said that the high inflation and fall in Iranian people’s purchasing power “are the real issues that threaten our country, not US.”

Speaking to a group of provincial governors recently Jahangir said, “What should worry all of us is the wrath and hatred of the public against the authorities and the system that can not deliver to them”.

~ Grif

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Signs Seven Anti Gun Bills in a Single Day

 

Washington’s Demorat Gov. Jay Inslee signed seven bills into law Tuesday (May 7) that will add yet more draconian restrictions to civilian gun ownership. The new laws are a litany of re-hashed left wing feel good anti-gun pablum, which will have virtually no effect on reducing crime or improving safety. But they will serve to further the left’s desire to disarm, and thus control the populace.

Inslee, who has entered the race for president, apparently is a true believer in trying to destroy the 2nd Amendment. He has a long history of voting for anti-gun legislation. In 1994, he voted in favor of federal legislation that would have banned the manufacture, sale and possession of “combat-style assault weapons,” a stance that probably cost him his House seat in 1995. Had the bill passed, it would have effectively sent most firearms manufacturers into bankruptcy.

The new laws restrict access in a number of ways, including bans on “ghost guns” and red flag confiscations for juveniles and domestic violence suspects.

One bill that Inslee has yet to sign would require police to confiscate any weapons found on the property of a domestic violence call and put them on a five-day hold, regardless if they were used in a crime or not.

“Our state is a leader on #gunsafety but more work is needed to protect our students & the people of WA. That’s why today I am so happy to sign bills that ban untraceable ghost guns, keep guns away from our most vulnerable Washingtonians & improve gun safety overall,” Gov. Inslee tweeted.

Renee Hopkins, head of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, an advocacy group that supports the governor, said the new laws will make Washington “one of the states with the strongest laws in regard to preventing gun violence.”

Hopkins ignores the fact, backed up by FBI statistics, that gun control has absolutely no effect on reducing crime.

Gun policy watchers have said the bills fit into a broader pattern of legislation around the U.S. Instead of adding new restrictions for all gun owners, the measures generally focus on specific risk groups such as domestic abusers, violent felons or people experiencing a psychiatric crisis.

“It’s taking a risk-based approach to it, and really looking at the situations that we know are highest risk,” said Hopkins, referring to Tuesday’s bills as well as previous legislation involving suicide prevention and secure storage requirements.

Anti-gun advocates in at least 13 states have also successfully pushed extreme risk protection orders, which allow courts or police to summarily confiscate guns without a hearing simply based on perceived risk.

Washington already allows such orders, and one of Tuesday’s bills allows them to be entered against minors, which advocates called an effort to combat school shootings.

By comparison, broader gun control legislation has often struggled to find support in recent years, including in Washington state, where an assault weapons ban and a ban on high capacity magazines failed even though Democrats control both chambers of the state Legislature.

Critics of the new restrictions say even the narrower Washington state bills weaken gun rights, and chip away at the basic God given right of self defense.

Joe Waldron, a spokesman for the Gun Owners Action League of Washington, a group that lobbies against gun control, said he was concerned that some of the bills lacked due process protections and collectively amount to a growing set of restrictions that will affect all gun owners.

“They’re just as happy expanding the list of people that can’t have guns,” Waldron said. “Piece by piece, they’re chopping away.”

Extreme risk protection orders gained traction nationwide after a 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed. It was later revealed that the gunman had been able to access weapons despite early warnings to police.

Waldron believes such orders could be misused.

The bill focused on people on psychiatric holds broadens who can be temporarily barred from possessing a gun after being held under the state’s Involuntary Treatment Act.

State law previously allowed such blocks for people who were ordered to be committed by a judge. Tuesday’s bill makes the blocks automatic even for people held only for 72 hours — a decision made by a medical expert without a judge’s approval.

State law currently bars guns for people found incompetent in criminal trials and then involuntarily committed by a judge, but that block is now set to expand to include people found incompetent but released instead of being committed.

People under restraining orders and domestic violence offenders have also been a focus for incrementally tighter rules from legislators.

Gun surrender was already required for some people subject to restraining and protective orders, but one of the measures signed Tuesday requires the police to serve the orders.

The new rules also update existing gun-surrender requirements for people under restraining orders, adding a requirement for law enforcement to serve the orders.

The so-called “ghost gun” measure involves two types of weapons: Plastic weapons printed on 3D printers, and guns without serial numbers, including ones that can be made from do-it yourself kits available online without a background check. It effectively requires a background check for purchasing such a gun-making kit.

The seven bills Inslee signed Tuesday are:

HB 1465 requires an additional background check for gun buyers who currently possess a concealed carry license.

HB 1739 prohibits possession of untraceable “ghost guns” which include plastic guns printed on 3D printers and guns that do not have a serial number, which are usually acquired through a DIY kit. It also bans the transfer of files for 3-D printable guns.

HB 1786 authorizes police to confiscate guns from those served with restraining and protective orders.

SB 5027 which expands “red flag” confiscation to juveniles under age 18, permitting an extreme risk protection order to be filed against them and barring their firearms possession for up to one year, renewable on an annual basis.

SB 5181 which implemented a six-month gun rights suspension from anyone under 72-hour psychiatric detainment permitted by Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act, which is not decided by a judge but by a medical expert. In the past, those laws pertained only to people who had been committed by a judge.

SB 5205 which bans gun ownership to those with a history of violence and found incompetent to stand trial but not committed, where the current law has only banned guns from those declared incompetent and involuntarily committed by a judge.

SB 5508 which further adds concealed carry license requirements, requiring applicants to undergo a fingerprint-based background check through the FBI in addition to checks through the state databases.

~ Grif

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Illinois Senate votes to bar Trump from 2020 ballot if tax returns aren’t released

Illinois state senate legislators Thursday (April 11) publicly removed all possible doubts whether they are blithering, sniveling, whining, petulant idiots.

They are.

There is absolutely no question in my military mind.

Illinois Democrats approved a bill that would require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns if they want their names to appear on the state’s ballot. In other words, if Present Trump wants his name on the ballot in Illinois in 2020, he would have to first cough up five years of his income tax returns to Illinois Demorats.

New York state legislators introduced a similar bill on Monday. New York would authorize the state’s tax commissioner to release state tax returns to Congress upon request. The legislation, if passed, would enable the release of Trump’s state returns, since he is a New York resident and the state is home to his corporate businesses.

Illinois Senate Bill 145, introduced in January by State Sen. Antonio Muñoz, would require any candidate for president or vice president to release the most recent five years of their tax returns to have their name on the general election ballot.

“Voters have a right to know a presidential candidate’s conflicts of interests,” Muñoz said in a statement on his website. “They have reasonably expected this disclosure for decades, and if candidates won’t release the information willingly, then we need a law in place that requires it.”

The push from Illinois Democrats for President Donald Trump’s taxes ahead of the 2020 presidential election comes as several other states are pursuing similar legislation.

Since 2017, 18 state legislatures, including those in Illinois and New York, have introduced bills that would require presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns to be on the ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

House Democrats in Washington formally requested the President’s tax returns last week from the Internal Revenue Service, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin informed them on Wednesday that his department would be unable to comply with their deadline for Trump’s tax return.

Under the bill approved Thursday, the Illinois secretary of state would post the tax returns on its website, with the candidate’s personal information redacted. The bill would not apply to congressional or statewide candidates.

The measure was approved by the Illinois Democratic-controlled Senate, 36-19. The bill has moved to the Illinois House, where Democrats also hold the majority

Republican state Sen. Dale Righter questioned the bill’s constitutionality and called it “an embarrassing waste of the Senate’s time” on Thursday, the Capitol News Illinois reported.

Cokie Roberts, moderator of NPR’s “Morning Edition” said in a broadcast February 15, “It’s been standard from Nixon on for presidents and presidential candidates to let the public see what they’ve paid, but not everyone has handled it the same way. Gerald Ford, Nixon’s successor, provided a summary of his taxes. Some candidates have just turned over a couple of years’ worth of documents. Others have provided returns for many years.”

She noted that the tradition of presidential candidate making their income tax return public began with Richard Nixon. But she that Nixon did not volunteer to turn over his tax returns.

“Nixon didn’t initially turn over his returns voluntarily,” she said. “They were leaked by someone in the IRS.”

There is no law requiring a presidential candidate to make his or her tax returns public. And there certainly is no law requiring publicizing tax returns as a condition of having one’s name placed on an election ballot. But democrats socialists might be able to force President Trump to give up his tax returns under a little known tax law from 1924.

According to Roberts, “The law that some House members want to employ to force the IRS to turn over Trump’s returns is a very obscure section of the tax code. And it allows the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to demand any tax filer’s returns. It dates back to the Teapot Dome scandals of the 1920s, when members of the Harding administration were accepting bribes. Congress had to rely on the executive for financial information, so they made this law. It’s been rarely used. But the Republican members of the Ways Means Committee did employee it a few years ago when they were investigating what they called the IRS’ discrimination against conservative organizations.”

# # #

I have an alternative suggestion. Let every demorat disclose all of their tax returns first—just to show good faith. Of course they won’t. They have no faith—good or otherwise.

Idiots.

~ Grif

Click here for full text of Illinois Senate Bill 145.

~Eowyn

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NRA sues Pittsburg over new gun ban law

The Pittsburg, PA mayor and city council have used the October 2018 mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill as justification for imposing a nearly total ban on firearms within the city limits.  The ban, signed into law yesterday (April 10), would prohibit the use of any semi-automatic firearm that could accept a magazine with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. The new law uses the term “military style weapons” in the ban. However, the restrictions on magazine capacity would also ban the use of most common semi-auto handguns within city limits.

The National Rifle Association wasted no time yesterday  filling a lawsuit against the city.  From The Tribune-Review, Greensburg, PA:

The National Rifle Association and its supporters wasted no time yesterday (April 10) suing Pittsburgh, the City Council and Mayor Bill Peduto following the mayor’s signing of three bills restricting the use of “military style” weapons from within city limits.

Four city residents with assistance from the NRA filed the lawsuit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, less then three hours after the mayor signed the gun ordinances into law. Other local gun owners vowed to file criminal charges  against the mayor and council.

Peduto anticipated the legal challenges. He announced that that the city would be represented at no cost in the civil suit by by a legal team from the nonprofit gun control organization Everytown for Gun Safety, founded and funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He said he and six council members who voted in favor of the ban have also retained an attorney for criminal defense. He would not name the attorney.

“The very concept that the state could create a law that would say that elected officials who challenge the validity of that law would somehow be held to criminal charges goes against everything and every proactive step forward that this country has taken,” Peduto said. “What we’re going to do is we’re going to overturn this law.”

Laurence J. Anderson, Scott Miller, Robert R. Opdyke and Michael A. Whitehouse contend in the lawsuit that the city is violating a state law prohibiting municipalities from regulating firearms by banning the use of weapons with magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The suit contends that guns come standard with magazines of that size.

They are seeking a permanent injunction to stop the city from enforcing the ban, which takes effect in 60 days, and reimbursement for legal fees.

“Pittsburgh’s ban on carrying loaded standard capacity magazines in public has a chilling effect on Plaintiffs’ exercise of their right under Pennsylvania law to possess these magazines and to carry them in public for self defense,” the lawsuit said.

The mayor signed the bills in his conference room surrounded by supporters of the ban, including survivors and relatives of those killed during the October mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. The observers gave Peduto a standing ovation.

“We’re still hurting,” said Lynette Lederman, former president of the Tree of Life congregation, and a staffer for City Councilman Corey O’Connor. “The personal trauma that me as former president of Tree of Life and my friends and the leadership of Tree of Life has experienced has kind of reached a watershed moment today. I’m very proud of Mayor Peduto.”

O’Connor and Councilwoman Erika Strassburger, who represent Squirrel Hill and proposed the bills, described Tree of Life as a “tipping point” in discussions over how to stop gun violence in the city.

The legislation consists of three bills. One would ban the possession and use of certain semiautomatic weapons, including “assault rifles.” A second would ban ammunition and accessories, such as large capacity magazines. A third bill, dubbed “extreme risk protection,” would permit courts to temporarily remove guns from a person deemed to be a public threat and impose penalties on an adult who allows a child to access a gun illegally.

City residents who currently own guns and accessories outlined in the bills would be grandfathered. Violators would face a civil penalty that carries a $1,000 fine, or up to 90 days in prison, for each offense.

Council approved the bills last week in a 6-3 vote. Three council members – Darlene Harris, Theresa Kail-Smith and Anthony Coghill – who voted against the legislation, were noticeably absent during the signing ceremony.

O’Connor said council is prepared for the court battle.

“I think everybody here said basically bring it on because we’re doing the right thing,” he said. “We’re willing to fight for our residents and I don’t think anybody is going to stop us.

~ Grif

 

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