REPORT: Dem’s anger at Omar reaching boiling point

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Frustration among House Democrats simmered on Wednesday over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) criticism of Israel, with lawmakers questioning how they should respond to the latest controversy surrounding the freshman lawmaker.

Progressive lawmakers and members of key minority caucuses argued that voting on a resolution implicitly aimed at Omar — one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress — played into GOP hands trying to exacerbate Democratic divisions.

“I think it’s inappropriate to just focus on one person. I absolutely do,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Bass also said the spotlight on Omar was creating real-world security risks for the freshman lawmaker.

“I also think, frankly, that it puts her at risk to focus on her. You know, she’s already received death threats,” Bass said.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), a Progressive Caucus leader, expressed frustration that the focus on Omar’s remarks was making it easier for Republicans to sow divisions among Democrats.

“We are now in the majority and the Republicans have an intent to try to divide us whenever they can. So what processes can we as a caucus put in place so that we don’t help them to do that?” Jayapal said

Other Democrats believe that Omar should be held accountable for her comments.

“I disagree with what was said. And I think there should be an apology,” said Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), a freshman who represents a swing district.

House Democratic leaders began crafting a resolution over the weekend to condemn anti-Semitism in the wake of Omar’s latest comments. Wednesday’s meeting offered the first caucus-wide discussion since that measure began circulating.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) acknowledged during the closed-door meeting that “we have some internal issues,” according to a Democratic aide, but advised lawmakers: “Don’t question the motivations of our colleagues.”

She sought to downplay the internal divisions and blamed the media for hyping them.

“If you say the bacon is not crispy enough, they’ll have an article about this unrest and unease in the Democratic Party,” Pelosi said.

Staff for Democratic leaders began drafting the resolution over the weekend, after House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) issued a statement accusing Omar of “invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur.”

A vote had initially been expected on Wednesday, but aides said Democratic leaders have pushed it back as they make changes to the resolution to make it more inclusive and broadly condemn hate, including Islamophobia.

The House could vote as soon as Thursday, but a plan has not been finalized.
“There are ongoing discussions with all of the stakeholders within the House Democratic Caucus about the appropriate way to proceed,” caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

A draft resolution began circulating on Monday that did not specifically name Omar, but states that the House “rejects anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.” The resolution did state that “accusations of dual loyalty generally have an insidious, bigoted history.”

During an event last week at the Busboys and Poets restaurant in Washington, D.C., Omar said critics were making accusations of anti-Semitism in bad faith.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said. “I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the [National Rifle Association] NRA, of fossil-fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?”

Omar attended the caucus meeting on Wednesday but did not make remarks, according to attendees.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), who is Jewish, said Omar has personally apologized to her for past remarks. The House adopted a similar measure condemning anti-Semitism last month after Omar apologized for suggesting that U.S. lawmakers defending Israel were motivated by money.

Schakowsky suggested that Democrats should keep their disagreements off of social media.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) defended Omar on Twitter and went after Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) for saying that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.”

And Omar had doubled down on her comments in response to a tweet from House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who had called her remarks “hurtful.”

“I do not believe that Ilhan Omar is anti-Semitic. And I absolutely believe that she has become, as a result [of the comments], a target. I think the Republicans love that, and frankly, I think media loves to exploit the divisions. And I think we can do better in how we express ourselves. I think we ought to stay off of social media to have these conversations,” Schakowsky said.

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WAR ON GUNS: Incoming House Dems plotting quick attack on the Second Amendment

WASHINGTON — Democrats plan to waste no time in attacking the Second Amendment as they take power in January, according to a report published by Politico on Monday.

According to the report, Dems plan to initiate a bill that would require federal background checks on all firearm sales as part of their efforts to advance long-fought gun control measures.

The effort already has already received the stamp of approval by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said: “The new Democratic majority will act boldly and decisively to pass commonsense, life-saving background checks.”

“The American people want this,” said California Rep. Mike Thompson, who heads a Democratic gun violence prevention task force and plans to introduce the bill.

“It’s very important to us, it’s one of our top priorities,” echoed New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which will hold jurisdiction over the issue. “We told the American voters that we do mean to do this, and we do mean to do it.”

Although unlikely that the bill will pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, the effort serves as the first step for Democrats in pushing their gun-control agenda.

GOP North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, a prominent National Rifle Association ally in the House, says such a bill is useless and only targets those who already obey the law.

Universal background checks, says Hudson, “has always been a red herring.” It’s “something that… polls very well, but there’s not a single commercial gun transaction in America that doesn’t have a background check.”

“The wrong people are not going to report gun sales,” added Hudson. “So you will need a registry to know where every gun is,” an option that is vehemently opposed by the NRA.

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BREAKING: NRA taps Lt. Col. Oliver North as new president

Washington, D.C. — Lt. Col. Oliver North will soon be named the new president of the National Rifle Association of America, the group announced Monday.

North, who served 22 years as a Marine and was part of the National Security Council staff during the Reagan administration, will be retiring from his role current role as commentator at Fox News.

The NRA’s selection of North as president follows the recent announcement by current NRA president Pete Brownell that he would not be seeking a second term.

“I am honored to have been selected by the NRA Board to soon serve as this great organization’s President,” North said Monday in a statement. “I appreciate the board initiating a process that affords me a few weeks to set my affairs in order, and I am eager to hit the ground running as the new NRA President.”

“This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became President of our Association,” NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre said of North in a press release confirming the decision. “Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader. In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President.”

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FIGHTING BACK: NRA responds to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ call to overturn Second Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a statement posted to its website, the National Rifle Association, the nation’s most powerful gun-rights group, responded Tuesday to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ New York Times op-ed that “the time has come to overturn the Second Amendment”.

“The 97-year-old retired justice has long held the opinion that American citizens do not have the individual right to own a firearm for self-protection,” the Second-Amendment rights group wrote.

“Emboldened by the mainstream media, the gun-control lobby is no longer distancing themselves from the radical idea of repealing the Second Amendment and banning all firearms. The protestors in last week’s march told us with their words and placards that the current debate is not about fake terms like “common sense” gun regulation. It’s about banning all guns,” the statement continued.

“The men and women of the National Rifle Association, along with the majority of the American people and the Supreme Court, believe in the Second Amendment right to self-protection and we will unapologetically continue to fight to protect this fundamental freedom,” the statement concluded.

The organization has come under increased fire since a February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida in which 17 victims were killed.

The shooting sparked a movement from anti-gun groups to ban the use of certain weapons and called for stricter background checks nationwide.

Despite the backlash, the NRA says it will continue to fight for the right to bear arms, which is protected by tbe Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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SECOND AMENDMENT UNDER FIRE: Dems push bill to require background checks for ammunition

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D- Fla.) has announced her intent to pass the Ammunition Background Check Act of 2018, a federal law that would require background checks for the purchase of ammunition.

“I can assure you that Saturday was day one. Saturday was a launch pad,” Wasserman-Schultz told a room of reporters of Saturday’s “March for our Lives,” an organized protest to demand stricter gun control.

“Federal law does not require a background check for ammunition. This is just such a gaping and grave and dangerous loophole that I could not wrap my mind around it when I was told that was the case,” Wasserman-Schultz during a press conference she called to announce the proposed legislation. “Ammunition sellers across the country currently have no way to determine if a potential buyer is legal or if they are prohibited from buying bullets, which are, obviously, what kills after a gun is fired.”

The current system allows purchasers of ammo to “buy as much ammunition as they want, without so much as being asked their first name, and walk out,” she added.

If passed, said Wasserman-Schultz, the bill, which she is filing in cooperation with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) would require would-be purchasers of ammo to be approved via FBI background check.

“The Ammunition Background Check Act of 2018 that I filed on Thursday, and that is being filed in the United States Senate by Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, will close that gaping loophole to require all buyers of ammunition to undergo an instant background check,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Blumenthal, a staunch gun control activist, also posted to social media his support for the bill.

“Without background checks on ammunition sales, there’s nothing to stop dangerous people – barred from buying guns – from amassing vast ammunition arsenals. This ludicrous loophole puts lives at risk,” Blumenthal tweeted .

Under current law, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey require a background check in order to purchase or possess ammunition. California will also begin requiring background checks for ammunition buyers beginning July 1, 2019 — a move that is currently being challenged by the National Rifle Association. If passed, the bill would expand that requirement nationwide.

Meanwhile, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on Tuesday advocated for a repeal of the Second Amendment.

“A concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment,” Stevens wrote in an opinion piece published in The New York Times. “Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”

In a response posted to its website, the National Rifle Association fired back, calling Stevens’ comments a direct attack on the Constitution.

“The 97-year-old retired justice has long held the opinion that American citizens do not have the individual right to own a firearm for self-protection,” the Second-Amendment rights group wrote.

“Emboldened by the mainstream media, the gun-control lobby is no longer distancing themselves from the radical idea of repealing the Second Amendment and banning all firearms. The protestors in last week’s march told us with their words and placards that the current debate is not about fake terms like “common sense” gun regulation. It’s about banning all guns,” the statement continued.

“The men and women of the National Rifle Association, along with the majority of the American people and the Supreme Court, believe in the Second Amendment right to self-protection and we will unapologetically continue to fight to protect this fundamental freedom,” the statement concluded.

Calls for comment to an NRA spokesperson regarding the Scultz-Blumenthal bill were not immediately returned.

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LOCK AND LOAD: Hero cop’s actions during Maryland school shooting sends ‘clear message’ on the need to arm school officials, says advocate

GREAT MILLS, MD. — The heroic actions taken by a quick-thinking school official credited with stopping a school shooter on Tuesday proves the need to arm school officials, says one school policing advocate.

“It should send a clear message to any would-be attacker that if you are going to bring that level of violence to one of our schools, where there is a proper trained [School Resource Officer] in place, be prepared to be met with force,” Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, told Fox News on Wednesday.

Canady’s comments follow an incident on Tuesday during which Blaine Gaskill, a St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office deputy at Maryland’s Great Mills High School, took down a suspect who had opened fire in the school, injuring at least two victims.

“We would like to see guns in schools in the hands of the right person. We’re calling for an SRO — at least one — in every school in the country,” said Canady.

In recent years rocked by a series of deadly school shootings, Gaskill’s actions represent only the second occurrence in which an armed school official was available to take down an active shooter.

The first incident, which happened in March 2001, occurred when Rich Agundez Jr., an officer assigned to Granite Hills High School outside of San Diego, fired five shots at a school shooter, disengaging him until police officials arrived.

According to reports, Agundez went on to receive the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor in honor for his actions.

“This is a situation yesterday where it’s pretty clear the SRO did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Canady told Fox.

Tuesday’s shooting has sparked new credence toward President Donald Trump’s call to arm teachers in America’s schools. The president said he was leaning heavily toward that option after a February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida resulted in the deaths of 17 students.

The National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest and most powerful pro-Second Amendment group, says it too supports arming America’s teachers and school officials.

“When it comes to the safety of our politicians, celebrities & sports stars, the answer is clear—armed security, the NRA tweeted. “It’s the only security solution that is proven to work, which is why #NRA has called repeatedly for trained armed security in every American school.”

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EMINEM UNDER FIRE AFTER SLAMMING SECOND AMENDMENT GROUPS DURING STAGE PERFORMANCE: ‘NRA loves their guns more than our children’

 

INGLEWOOD, CA — Rapper Marshall Mathers, better known by his stage name Eminem, is facing backlash after criticizing pro-gun groups during an iHeartRadio performance Sunday night in Inglewood, California.

“This whole country is going nuts, and the NRA is our way/They’re responsible for this whole production/They hold the strings, they control the puppet/And they threaten to take donor bucks/So they know the government won’t do nothing and no one’s budging/Gun owners clutching their loaded weapons/They love their guns more than our children,” the singer wrapped after being introduced on stage by Alex Moscou, a survivor of the fatal school shooting in Parkland, Fla. that occured on February 14.

“Gun owners clutching their loaded weapons/ they love their guns more than our children,” the singer continued rapping from his song “Nowhere Fast,” which bashes the Second Amendment and gun owners.

Prior to introducing Eminem to the awaiting crowd, Moscou said he and other survivors were “tired of hearing politicians sending their thoughts and prayers to us, and doing nothing to make the necessary changes to prevent this tragedy from happening again.”

This isn’t the first time that Mathers’ on-stage performances have turned political.
He raised eyebrows last year after unleashing a hate-fueled rhyme against Republicans and president Donald Trump in which he challenged the Commander-in-Chief to respond.

“Trump, when it comes to giving a shit you’re as stingy as I am/ Except when it comes to having the balls to go against me, you hide ’em,” he wrapped. “‘Cause you don’t got the fucking nuts like an empty asylum/ Racism’s the only thing he’s fantastic for.”

Although Eminem’s gun bashing lyrics were was received by fans in attendance, the singer’s critics were quick to point out his own gun-related transgressions, including being charged with possession of a concealed weapon and assault in the year 2000.

Eminem also received probation and was ordered to perform community service for committing another gun-related crime back in 2001.

Calls for statement from the NRA were met with, “We think Mr. Mathers’ reputation speaks for itself.”

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STANDING WITH THE NRA: Georgia pulls tax breaks from Delta after airline cuts ties with pro- Second Amendment group

 

ATLANTA, GA — Georgia lawmakers on Thursday announced plans to repeal tax breaks given to Delta Airlines after the travel giant cut their ties with the NRA.

By a 135-24 vote, the State Senate approved a bill to revoke renewal of a jet fuel tax exemption worth $50 million to the airline.

“Businesses have every legal right to make their own decisions, but the Republican majority in our state legislature also has every right to govern guided by our principles,” Lieutenant Gov. Casey Cagle, who had publicly threatened to pull the airline tax break earlier this week  if the airline went forward with their plans to sever ties to the gun rights group, said in a statement.

Further, Cagle warned that he would block any legislation that could prove financially profitable for the airline in the future.

“I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the @NRA,” Cagle, leader of the Georgia State Senate, tweeted on Monday . “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.”

Last week Delta Airlines announced its intention to cut ties with the gun rights group in
the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 victims dead. The airline said that as part of its severing of ties with the NRA it would no longer offer “discounted rates” for NRA members through their group travel program.

“Delta’s decision reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings,” a statement posted to Delta’s website read. “Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on its business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.”

“Delta supports all of its customers but will not support organizations on any side of any highly charged political issue that divides our nation,” the company added, tweeting Delta would be “requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website”.

 

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BATTLE FOR THE SECOND AMENDMENT: Trump faces backlash over ‘due process’ fiasco

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday faced fierce backlash from his own constituents over comments he made Wednesday on gun control.

Speaking at a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers to discuss school safety, President Trump said he was in favor of gun confiscation without due process if it meant making America’s children safer.

“I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida … to go to court would have taken a long time,” Trump told those in attendance. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

The president’s comments quickly went viral on social media, outraging those who took the statement as a direct attack on the Second Amendment.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.,said Trump’s suggestion “took his breath away”.

“I have to admit that the idea of taking a person’s property before the due process — that did take my breath away a little bit,” Toomey told Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (https://tinyurl.com/y957huqp).

“Doesn’t work that way in America,” Toomey added.

The NRA also came out swinging against the president’s comments.

“While [Wednesday’s] meeting made for great TV, the gun control proposals discussed would make for bad policy that would not keep our children safe,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker told The Hill (https://tinyurl.com/yam4b98n). “Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies.”

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska also spoke out against Trump’s call to override the constitutional right to due process, stating he felt the president was being manipulated by leftist agendas.

“We’re not ditching any constitutional protections simply because the last person the President talked to today doesn’t like them,” Sasse told CNN (https://tinyurl.com/yazw5xxm).

Even Breitbart News, a media publication which has long supported the Trump agenda, came out guns blazing against Trump on Thursday. “Trump the Gun Grabber: Cedes Dems’ Wish List— Bump Stocks, Buying Age, ‘Assault Weapons,’ Background Checks,” it’s headline read (https://tinyurl.com/ybd9pjcu).

Taking to Twitter, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) said that if the president’s proposal on due process were to be implemented, it would amount to no due process at all.

“Due process comes first or it isn’t due process. This is true no matter which party is writing the bills or in control of the White House,” Paul wrote (https://tinyurl.com/y9ouw46e).

Just two weeks ago, the president complained that his former top aide, Rob Porter, was unfairly forced to resign his White House position after both of his ex-wives accused him of domestic violence, claims he said at the time amounted to “a mere allegation.”

“Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” Trump tweeted (https://tinyurl.com/yd6l4fp3).

The president’s critics were quick to call out the president over the presumed “hypocrisy”.

“For Trump, due process is a problem when people think Rob Porter is guilty of beating his ex-wives, but not a problem when government seizes guns from citizens,” Ben Shapiro, a prominent conservative and Second Amendment advocate, tweeted (https://tinyurl.com/y9ljes7l).

Critics on the left, who have long pushed for stricter gun control laws, said if former president Barack Obama had called for a violation of due process, Republicans would have called for his immediate removal from office.

“It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that some Republican members of Congress would have called for Barack Obama’s impeachment if he had ever called for taking people’s guns away without due process,” The Washington Post’s James Hohmann said on the matter (https://tinyurl.com/y8ozyrbu).

Wednesday’s meeting came in the wake of a February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida in which 17 people were killed and more than a dozen more were wounded.
The shooting led to calls from gun control advocates for stricter gun laws and background checks.

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GUN GRABS BEGIN: States seizing guns from firearm owners they deem ‘dangerous’

SAN DIEGO, CA — Since January, states with so-called “red flag” laws have begun confiscating firearms from individuals they consider “dangerous”.

Within the last two months, police officials in California have seized guns from individuals they deemed an immediate threat, among them, a 38-year-old man who they say had threatened his wife after an incidence of domestic violence, a 23-year-old ex-Marine who, authorities claim, had developed paranoia and a 39-year-old man who was reported by neighbors for firing his weapon in his own backyard.

The move toward seizing guns has reached a fever pitch in the wake of such high profile mass shootings as the Las Vegas massacre and Parkland, Florida high school shooting and, experts say, it’s only the beginning.

Red flag laws, which are on the books in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington State, allow law enforcement officials to remove guns from people deemed by a judge to be dangerous. Similar measures are being considered in more than a dozen additional states including Hawaii and Pennsylvania.

“The reason I like gun violence restraining orders as an option is that we can use them even if the person hasn’t been convicted of a crime,” Mara W. Elliott, the San Diego city attorney, told The New York Times (https://tinyurl.com/y85sc9eb). But many Republicans oppose the new laws, Many Republicans oppose red flag laws and argue that a judge’s order to seize a person’s weapon may violate Second Amendment rights when no crime has been committed.

In a statement on its website shortly after Oregon passed the new law, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action called it a violation of due process.

“Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 719A. Based on a California law enacted in 2014, SB 719A will create a so-called “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) that could be obtained by a law enforcement officer, family member, or household member in an ex parte hearing to deprive someone of their Second Amendment rights without due process of the law,” the statement reads (https://tinyurl.com/yckwha9j).

“By allowing a law enforcement officer, family member, or household member to seek the ERPO, SB 719A will allow people who are not mental health professionals, who may be mistaken, and who may only have minimal contact with the respondent to file a petition with the court and testify on the respondent’s state of mind. This ex parte order, which strips the accused of their Second Amendment rights, will be issued by a judge based on the brief statement of the petitioner. The accused will not be afforded the chance to appear in court to defend themselves against the allegations when the ERPO is issued. These orders may be issued without any allegations of criminal behavior,” the statement continues.

Ramesh Ponnuru, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group, says that more laws that restrict the rights of those not convicted of a crime, is not the answer.

“This is a country with hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, and that fact imposes real constraints on what policy can achieve and on what kind of policy makes sense,” said Ponnuru. No one, Ponnuru added, should expect any one law to fix everything. “Realism is the right attitude,” he said.

Brad Banks, an Indianapolis criminal law attorney at Banks & Brower, says in his state, the law appears to be working.

“It’s fair and balanced and addresses the immediate need of protecting people with significant mental impairment but also has safeguards for the court to review” whether an individual should have the firearms returned, Banks told the Indy Star (https://tinyurl.com/y73qbuuc).

During a roundtable meeting at the White House this week, President Donald Trump met with state leaders and gun victims to discuss the effectiveness of such laws and to determine what steps need to be taken to prevent further mass shootings.

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