5 Myths of Gun Control Propaganda

Nothing compares to the pain of losing a loved one --- and when the loss is sudden and violent, the agony is compounded. In the wake of a tragedy, especially one involving violent crime, it's understandable to desperately reach out to try and grab hold of anything that makes sense. Finding a place to lay the blame can become a life's work for some and a way to find closure and peace for others.

Often the blame from the media and politicians is swift and concrete --- it's the guns fault. The war cries bellow for 'common sense gun reform' and people from all over demand 'something must be done.'

In this haste to bury the second amendment, in the heat of the moment and with passions peaking, there are many misconceptions when it comes down to 'what must be done.' Here are five of the most important myths that tend to either be overblown or completely fabricated.

Myth #1 | Nobody Is Trying to Take Your Guns

The script is basically written prior to any mass shooting. The left will explode in a chorus championing gun control while the right cries out claims the left wants to confiscate their guns. Mockery from the left ensues and the right is singled out and marginalized Saul Alinksy style. But what is the truth? Progressives truly do want to eliminate as many guns as possible and some even prefer an all out ban.

"'Gun grabber' is a mythical boogeyman. No serious person, including Obama, is even proposing taking away owned guns. #StopFearmongering." --- Toure´, February 16, 2013 (via Twitter)

The truth is Progressives do want to eliminate as many guns as possible and some even prefer an all out ban. In 1995, Diane Feinstein let her true intentions be known on 60 Minutes talking about the assault weapon ban she helped craft.

"If I could've gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them --- Mr. and Mrs America turn 'em all in --- I would have done it."

Or how about President Obama after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

"We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it."

What do those countries have in common? An all out ban. The insinuation is clear to see despite the vague language, if they could get away with it, they would love to take a sledgehammer to the second amendment.

Myth #2 | Buying a Gun Is a Piece of Cake

At last check, buying celery does not require a photo ID and background check. Nor does it carry a federal penalty for providing false information.

The left's agenda is on full display when the President makes such a ridiculous claim as this:

“It’s easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable.” --- President Obama

Buying a gun is nowhere near as simple to buy as a bushel of corn or a head of lettuce. Maybe a shady back-alley deal to buy raw milk across state lines from the Amish is a better comparison but even then, this argument is a real head-scratcher.

Despite media depictions, you cannot simply walk into a store, pick up a gun and check out at the self-serve kiosk.

Myth #3 | Gun Violence Is Skyrocketing

This is a lie so oft repeated, even conservatives start to take it as fact. The media is in the ratings business and there isn't a more sexy headline than the epidemic of gun violence and the call to 'do something.' But guess what, this one is simple --- the numbers don't lie.

The truth is, gun homicides are down 49% since 1993.

"Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades." --- The Pew Research Center

Myth #4 | The 2nd Amendment Only Applies to Muskets

Celebrities are always good for a laugh when it comes to gun control, especially Piers Morgan.

"The 2nd amendment was devised with muskets in mind, not high-powered handguns and assault rifles. Fact." --- Pierce Morgan, December 3, 2012

By this logic, flying cars must be banned as well. How could our laws for terrestrial-bound automobiles accommodate such a dramatic change? Technology is always on the march and thankfully the second amendment does cover it.

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. --- Second Amendment

'Shall not be infringed' seems to crystallize things. It's the language game the left plays that really muddies the water. By calling certain guns 'weapons of war' or 'military style' the public is pushed in a direction in contradiction with reality. The most vilified gun in the media is hands down the AR-15, which looks like a machine gun but only fires one bullet at a time. But by calling it an 'assault weapon,' the connotation in the court of public perception is completely skewed.

Semantics aside, the constitution didn't say anywhere Americans have the right to bear muskets. We have the right to bear arms, and that's the bottom line, a line that 'shall not be infringed.'

Myth #5 | It's the Gun's Fault

A gun is just as culpable in any shooting as the keyboard is for writing this article. It's a tool and can be used for good or for evil. Is it the keyboard's fault for cyber bullying? Should a laptop be banned because it wrote a hateful manifesto before a terrorist attack?

What matters is the intent of the user === and this is where the left and right should be able to find common ground can be f. People who have a history of violent crime or mental illness should not be allowed to legally purchase a firearm. This is something most on both sides of the issue can agree on.

To solve the issue, it will require dedicated care to help the mentally ill as well as preventing them from owning a gun. It will require the country as a whole to heal the anger and conflict that drives these violent outbursts. There are no simple answers and there will be plenty of obstacles in the road but there is good cause to keep up the fight.

As the nation soaks in the victory of the recent passing of the historic First Step Act, there are Congressmen who haven't stopped working to solve additional problems with the criminal justice system. Because while the Act was impactful, leading to the well-deserved early release of many incarcerated individuals, it didn't go far enough. That's why four Congressmen have joined forces to reintroduce the Justice Safety Valve Act—legislation that would grant judges judicial discretion when determining appropriate sentencing.

There's a real need for this legislation since it's no secret that lawmakers don't always get it right. They may pass laws with good intentions, but unintended consequences often prevail. For example, there was a time when the nation believed the best way to penalize lawbreakers was to be tough on crime, leading to sweeping mandatory minimum sentencing laws implemented both nationally and statewide.

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Only in recent years have governments learned that these sentences aren't good policy for the defendant or even the public. Mandatory minimum sentences are often overly harsh, don't act as a public deterrent for crime, and are extremely costly to taxpayers. These laws tie judges' hands, preventing them from using their knowledge and understanding of the law to make case relevant decisions.

Because legislation surrounding criminal law is often very touchy and difficult to change (especially on the federal level, where bills can take multiple years to pass) mandatory minimum sentences are far from being done away with—despite the data-driven discoveries of their downfalls. But in order to solve the problems inherent within all of the different laws imposing sentencing lengths, Congress needs to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act now. Ensuring its passing would allow judges to use discretion while sentencing, rather than forcing them to continue issuing indiscriminate sentences no matter the unique facts of the case.

Rather than take years to go back and try to fix every single mandatory minimum law that has been federally passed, moving this single piece of legislation forward is the best way to ensure judges can apply their judgment in every appropriate case.

When someone is facing numerous charges from a single incident, mandatory minimum sentencing laws stack atop one another, resulting in an extremely lengthy sentence that may not be just. Such high sentences may even be violations of an individual's eighth amendment rights, what with the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. It's exactly what happened with Weldon Angelos.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, Weldon sold half a pound of marijuana to federal agents on two separate occasions. Unbeknownst to Weldon, the police had targeted him because they suspected he was a part of a gang and trafficking operation. They were oh-so-wrong. Weldon had never sold marijuana before and only did this time because he was pressured by the agents to find marijuana for them. He figured a couple lowkey sales could help out his family's financial situation. But Weldon was caught and sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in prison. This massive sentence is clearly unjust for a first time, non-violent crime, and even the Judge, Paul Cassell, agreed. Judge Cassell did everything he could to reduce the sentence, but, due to federal law, it wasn't much.

The nation is facing an over-criminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties.

In cases like Weldon's, a safety valve for discretionary power is much needed. Judges need the ability to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums, depending on mitigating factors such as mental health, provocation, or physical illness. That's what this new bill would allow for. Critics may argue that this gives judges too much power, but under the bill, judges must first make a finding on why it's necessary to sentence below the mandatory minimum. Then, they must write a clear statement explaining their decision.

Judges are unlikely to risk their careers to allow dangerous criminals an early release. If something happens after an offender is released early, the political pressure is back on the judge who issued the shorter sentence—and no one wants that kind of negative attention. In order to avoid risky situations like this, they'd use their discretion very cautiously, upholding the oath they took to promote justice in every case.

The nation is facing an overcriminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties. Mandatory minimums have exacerbated this problem, and it's time for that to stop. Congresswomen and men have the opportunity to help solve this looming problem by passing the Justice Safety Valve Act to untie the hands of judges and restore justice in individual sentences.

Molly Davis is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. She's a writer for Young Voices, and her work has previously appeared in The Hill, TownHall.com, and The Washington Examiner.

New gadget for couples in 'the mood' lets a button do the talking

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Just in time for Valentine's Day, there's a new romantic gadget for couples that is sure to make sparks fly. For those with their minds in the gutter, I'm not talking about those kinds of gadgets. I'm talking about a brilliant new device for the home called "LoveSync."

This is real — it's a simple pair of buttons for busy, modern couples who have plenty of time for social media and Netflix, but can't quite squeeze in time to talk about their... uh... special relationship.

Here's how it works. Each partner has their own individual LoveSync button. Whenever the mood strikes one partner, all they have to do is press their own button. That sets their button aglow for a certain period of time. If, during that time window, their partner also presses their own button, then both buttons light up in a swirling green pattern to signal that love has "synced"...and it's go time.

According to the makers of LoveSync, this device will "Take the Luck out of Getting Lucky." It brings a whole new meaning to "pushing each other's buttons." It's an ideal gift to tell your significant other "I care," without actually having to care, or talk about icky things like feelings.

If you find your significant other is already on the couch binge-watching The Bachelor, no problem! You can conveniently slink back to your button and hold it in for four seconds to cancel the desire. No harm, no foul! Live to fight another day.

Have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children.

No word yet on whether LoveSync can also order wine, light candles or play Barry White. Maybe that's in the works for LoveSync 2.0.

Of course, LoveSync does have some pitfalls. Cats and toddlers love a good button. That'll be a fun conversation — "Honey, who keeps canceling my mood submissions?" And have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children. "Yeah, kids, that button just controls the lawn sprinklers. No big deal."

If you've been dialing it in for years on Valentine's Day with flowers and those crappy boxes of chocolate, now you can literally dial it in. With a button.

Good luck with that.

The social power of 'Reddit' is helping teens of anti-vaxxers get vaccinated

Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Reddit certainly earns its motto as "the front page of the internet," with roughly 540 million visitors monthly, the third most-visited website in the U.S., sixth worldwide. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Reddit is a largely anonymous platform. People's faces are masked, their names are disguised. Which makes their hidden humanity all the more impactful.

On Reddit, both news and serious information are threaded in among gifs of cats and posts about Call of Duty, but that doesn't make it any less important. For many people, Reddit signifies the town hall where news is passed along or stomped into obscurity.

It gives you a healthy read of our society as a whole.

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A recent Pew Poll found that Reddit leans left politically at a rate higher than the general public. Most users are young men, whose extensive internet use gives them a gatekeeping authority over what information should be considered important. From there, it spreads through the rest of the internet and helps shape public opinion.

So, it makes a lot of sense that Reddit has become a sort of makeshift safe place for children who grew up with parents who refused to give them vaccinations. Of course, Reddit also vehemently mocks the anti-vaccination folks, for better or for worse, often the latter, but that's a subject for another day.

The Daily Dot recently published an article on this strange intersection of ideology and nerd culture. "Desperate teens of anti-vaxxers are turning to Reddit for vaccination advice."

The article follows Ethan, whose parents are staunchly against vaccinations:

But Ethan is not his parents. When he turned 18, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He wasn't sure where else to begin, so he turned to Reddit.

Where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?" Ethan asked his fellow redditors in December. Ethan's post flooded with over 1,000 comments from users offering their encouragement and support, along with practical advice. "Good on you for getting your vaccinations," one user responded. "It's never too late and you're not only protecting yourself but those around you who truly can't get vaccinated.

Ethan told the Daily Dot that some redditors even offered to give him money via GoFundMe or PayPal if insurance didn't cover the shots. "People were really supportive, and that was really cool," he said. "I had the blessing of Reddit. They were supporting me on a decision my mom freaked out about." Ethan is not alone. "More and more teens are turning to places like Reddit to seek out information on where and how to get vaccinated, and if it's too late."

Whatever your opinion on vaccinations, there's a positive message to all of this. A human message. Hopeful. Proof that, in an increasingly caustic world, people can turn to one another in times of need.

Whatever your opinion on vaccinations, there's a positive message to all of this. A human message. Hopeful.

Now more than ever, that is crucial.

Given the social power of Reddit, it is often characterized as a tool for politicians or political movements. Throughout the forum, various political ideologies gather and organize like factions in some ideological war. A political thread on Reddit is like a Facebook comment section at its most hostile, arrogant or confident, but with no identities attached to the attacks, rants or opinions. When you find yourself riled into a debate, it's easy to wonder who's behind the replies, especially the more vicious ones.

People often characterize it as a hive-mind message board full of circlejerk memes and jokes about SpongeBob. This description isn't entirely wrong, but it is shallow and incomplete. At its core, Reddit is humane. Its users, for the most part, are compassionate. If it were an experiment on human nature, the results would be gratifying.