Travis Brown: Gun control

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As a student of history, and a firm believer that democracy is the most effective form of government for protecting the freedoms we Americans are privileged to have, I am tired of those who oppose gun control invoking the Second Amendment as a shield to protect their interests. The fundamental purpose of a representative form of government is to allow people to create a government and system of laws that effectively protects the individual freedoms and rights of those very people. By nature, this system is designed to change and adapt to the demands and the challenges facing those very people in the world and times that they live in. In this sense, nothing in democracy is sacred except equality and the right to freedom.

The Second Amendment was created by the founders of our nation as part of a series of laws that would attempt to guarantee freedom for future generations of Americans. Their goal, in creating a law that guaranteed the right to bear arms, was to allow any person who thinks that their right to freedom, or even to life, is being threatened by a domestic or foreign power, to be on a relatively equal footing in terms of firepower with that aggressor. This would ensure that they would be able to individually defend them self from attack or organize a comparable force to combat the force challenging their basic rights. That law is now obsolete.

It is obsolete because the ability of a gun owner to effectively defend himself or herself from a military power that wishes to take his or her freedom has been seriously compromised by the advance of military technology. To be fair, if someone is coming to take my freedom or my life, I would rather have a gun. And I, therefore, think that the individual ability to own a gun to defend my and my family’s lives should not be eliminated. But I am not convinced that owning a gun to defend my home will help to protect me from Abrams tanks, Apache attack helicopters, unmanned drones and Tomahawk missiles that a foreign or domestic military power is sure to use when trying to attempt to take my freedom.

What I am convinced of is that the technology of firearms, and the relative ease of use (and therefore the effective killing ability of any user), has increased to the point that my, and my fellow Americans’, right to life is constantly threatened by the ease at which criminals and those who wish to harm others can acquire firearms. I believe America is now at a point that my right to bear arms is hindering my, and many others’, right to life. It is time that we as participants in the great experiment of democracy use our ability to amend the laws as we see fit, to protect ourselves from those who can easily acquire guns to do us harm. If I want to own a gun to protect my family or to hunt, I am more than willing to submit to a background check to prove that I am a law-abiding citizen to help guarantee the safety of the citizens who choose not to own guns. This will not prevent me from committing a crime with my gun if I choose to. But it is impossible to eliminate the ability of anyone to commit a crime, and therefore the best we can do is attempt to prevent and mitigate the number of crimes committed and the severity of those crimes. Society has done this for thousands of years.

It is time to accept that arguments using the Second Amendment are attempting to polarize the issue rather than solve the problems we face. No one can argue that instituting a background check on all firearm sales overtime will limit the ability of criminals to acquire guns and, more important, over time reduce the ease of someone who wants to do harm to acquire a weapon.

It is time for a real discussion to solve our problems of today without invoking the sanctity of the Second Amendment as a holy doctrine. Representative government is designed to allow changes as time changes civilization. I know Thomas Jefferson would agree. He believed the laws he helped to create would help to guarantee the freedom of Americans from oppression and tyranny. He also believed that if those laws were ineffective or rendered obsolete, that democracy would allow later citizens of the U.S. to create more effective laws that would. I agree with Howard Bashinski’s letter “Moving it forward” (April 6 Steamboat Pilot & Today) that we must realistically discuss the issue with the goal of problem solving to do exactly what he desires our country to do, move forward.

Travis Brown

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Joe Meglen 1 year, 7 months ago

Travis,

Freedom is not a privilege, it is a right by birth. The 2nd Amendment does not give free people the right to defend themselves against all threats, it memorializes the fact. Democracy is not the most effective form of government to protect those rights, quite the contrary. And I am tired of those that habitually attempt to discredit and dismantle the Constitution in order to create their version of a collectivist utopia. Yes, invoking the 2nd Amendment is a shield to protect their interests. That special interest is the preservation of the unalienable rights documented in the Constitution. Without the 2nd Amendment, there is no 1st Amendment, 3rd, 4th, et al.

We agree that the function of a representative form of government in a Constitutional Republic is to protect individual freedom. However, we disagree when you make the false premise that it is the nature of the system to change and adapt, at least when it comes to the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The rights of free people existed well before the Constitution and Bill of Rights. While democracy is not sacred, these rights are. These rights are not subject to modification by the very government that the Constitution was created to restrict.

Your premise that the 2nd Amendment is now obsolete because the government’s military capacity and technology now surpasses that of the weapons carried by citizens is also false. The federal government’s military forces had far superior technology in Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan yet a less well armed, but committed, people defeated us in Viet Nam. They are doing the same now in our numerous unconstitutional adventures in the Middle East. Yes, American citizens are less well armed than the federal government, but there are tens of millions of them. This presents a problem for the empire.

We agree again, it is too easy for criminals to get firearms but this genie was out of the bottle hundreds of years ago. Passing gun control laws doesn't prevent criminals from getting guns, it just disarms law abiding citizens. Chicago has the toughest gun control laws in the country, yet they have the highest gun related murders.

Since you state that you are a student of history, then you should recall that the gun control laws in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s U.S.S.R. resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people. Dictators, criminals and tyrannical governments all endorse gun control laws.

Debating the nuisances of what gun control laws should or should not be enacted misses the point entirely. As well meaning as some might be in promoting gun control laws, these laws do not prevent mass murders, they guarantee them.

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Howard Bashinski 1 year, 7 months ago

Hi Travis,

Although well stated, you arguments continue to be a great example of "bait and switch." Your response beings with a statement about freedom, and then you move directly to the 2nd Amendment. The right to be free is not even close to the same thing as being free to do anything you want. Our innate right to freedom does not logically equate to an innate right to own assault rifles with 30-round magazines.

Finally, when you assert facts, such as your statements about gun control laws in Cambodia, China, and Germany, you need to support them. Simply stating something doesn't make it true. Also, neither Po; Pt, Mao, or Hitler were democratically elected as dictator of their countries, so eve if your assertion is true, it is not a relevant comparison.

What do you think about finding a set of compromises on this issue? Why does one perspective have to be 100% right or 100% wrong?

hb

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Howard Bashinski 1 year, 7 months ago

The above should have been addressed to Joe, not Travis. Sorry! hb

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beverly lemons 1 year, 7 months ago

Well stated, Travis. Our country has a violence problem-first in the world in murder, gun violence and prison incarceration. I want our culture to deal with all these angry dysfunctional young men who conclude that a mass killing is the way to obtain notoriety, the mentally ill persons who are prone to violence, and other factors leading to violence including drug addiction. The psychopathic actions of these individuals is costing the lives of far to many innocents. Background checks and other reasonable limits on weaponry will help. Much more needs to be done in other areas. I hope as a country we have the courage and perseverance to find solutions.

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Mike Isaac 1 year, 7 months ago

Beverly do you really think that gang bangers in Chicago and NYC go to their local gun shop to buy guns and ammo before they mow down a rival gang ? Get real political punks in Chiraq ( Chicago ) have passed more gun laws than any other City State in the US and the murder rate has only risen.

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Robert Huron 1 year, 7 months ago

You are right Chicago has a high rate of gun violence and also has strict gun control laws. Why is that? The criminals just cross the state border and go to a gun show with cash and buy anything they want no questions asked. This is why we need Universal background checks on all gun purchases to try and stop criminals, terrorists and nut cases from getting a lethal weapon. Is it fool proof? Heavens no but with a September 11 almost every month with nearly 3000 gun deaths something is better than nothing. If law abiding citizens can get a background check when they go to a licensed dealer why not everyone else. This does not infringe on the 2nd Amendment at all as was affirmed by Judge Scalia of the Supreme Court many years ago. Just yesterday two 4 year old's got a hold of a weapon and one killed his Mother and the other mortally shot another 6 year old child. Who let this happen? The US has the most guns in the world and in turn the highest rate of gun violence. Only Mexico (thanks to Americans selling weapons to the drug cartels) and Yemen have a higher rate. Our rate is 4 to 10 times higher than every Western country. Twenty years ago Australia had the same problem we are having and they instituted Universal background checks and the rate of gun violence dropped 60 %.
The big problem is that this is not a 2nd Amendment issue it is a money issue. The gun makers are making record profits and they fund the NRA who in turn funds the politicians with blood money. This is why the NRA has changed its position over the last few years. Just 10 years ago they were in favor of Universal background checks. Gun violence is out of control and something must be done and Universal background checks is a reasonable common sense start to prevent little children from being gunned down before they have a chance to exercise their RIGHT to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They deserve a VOTE!

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Mike Isaac 1 year, 7 months ago

Most high powered automatic weapons that gang bangers use are smuggled into this country from Latin America just like the drugs. There is a black market for everything. Why would they travel to Wyoming or Montana when they could just get them from their drug supplier who is likely in that business too.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

The Second Amendment was never expected to give citizens the right to be able to defend against military powers. Cannons would definitely be needed for a citizen in 1780s to have any sort of chance against a military power and were not expected to be in civilian hands.

It is well researched from letters at the time of drafting the Second Amendment that the Founding Fathers accepted the need for people to defend themselves against the lack of federal or state military protection. Back then when news traveled slowly and travel was difficult then it was reasonable to expect that people could have to protect themselves. It is also true that those most worried about the lack of military protection was southern slave owners concerned that an anti-slavery federal government could deny southern states the ability to put down slave rebellions or capture escaped slaves.

The Second Amendment is oddly worded because in one sentence it says both "well regulated" and "shall not be infringed". Supreme Court's overall idea is that a civilian militia that could be just one person has a right to exist subject to regulations. Supreme Court has said that banning sawed off shotguns is legal even though the actual law is banning a whole class of popular guns with barrels less than some length. It is legal because it is easy enough to comply by having shotguns with longer barrels and sawed off shotguns can be viewed as being too easily concealed and thus too dangerous.

Personally, I thought the current legal interpretation of the Second Amendment is reasonable. It allows for reasonable regulation. Colorado's new gun laws are unlikely to be found unconstitutional. If the lack of serial numbers on large gun magazines prove too troublesome then State Legislature could require that existing large gun magazines be given serial numbers by a certain date and any large capacity gun magazine after that date without a serial number is illegal and must be destroyed or modified to hold no more than 15 rounds.

I think the larger question regarding Colorado's new guns laws is not how effective they might stop this or that crime from being committed, but why would we want to have exceptions to background checks that allows felons and the mentally ill to purchase guns? It is commonsense to not let certain people to legally buy guns. And why do we want someone to have a gun with a 30 round magazine? 15 rounds is enough for any plausible defensive situation and the extra rounds is not needed, but have been fired off to kill civilians.

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Don Thayer 1 year, 7 months ago

Scott,

The 2nd amendment does NOT say well regulated guns or arms. The ONLY statement about guns is "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed". Go ahead and regulate the militia as described in the militia acts of 1792 and 1903. The right to keep and bear arms is still protected by the U S Constitution.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

One of the more basic regulations of a militia is to have armament that can be safely used and is not an excessive threat to other member of the militia or the civilian population.

Thus, Supreme Court in Heller stated that regulation against felons or the mentally from owning guns is constitutional, and dangerous or unusual weapons can be banned.

Your theory that the Second Amendment does not allow regulating guns has thus been rejected by the Supreme Court. And the dissenting opinions would have upheld the prohibitions on hand guns as reasonable regulations.

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Don Thayer 1 year, 7 months ago

Travis,

I agree that the 2nd amendment is obsolete, but it is STILL law. Neither federal, state, not local laws overwrite the U S Constitution. Amend the U S Constitution. Why is that a problem?

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jerry carlton 1 year, 7 months ago

Robert The NRA is not the only group that the thieves in Congress have their hands out to. Congress is the most corrupt organization in the history of the world! Who else sets their own salary, healthcare, retirement benefits, office expenses and that does not even begin to describe the bribes, junkets, insider trading and other stuff they get away with. They will be the destruction of this country, Republican and Democrat. All the majority of them care about is getting reelected so the can continue to steal from the taxpayer!

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Joe Meglen 1 year, 7 months ago

Robert, The term “gun violence” is a subtle use of terminology that covertly attempts to influence the reader, implying that guns are somehow evil. Guns are not violent. A minority of people always have been, and always will be evil.

Gun control laws are not about preventing violent crimes. Chicago is a case study. Chicago has the toughest gun control laws in the country yet it has earned the distinction of being the U.S. Murder Capital. Chicago ranks 90th out of 90 jurisdictions in the country for gun law enforcement. The (NICS) proves that only 1.7 in 10,000 background checks will result in prosecution. Why doesn’t government enforce these laws in Chicago? It is because gun control laws are about disarming law abiding citizens so they can’t defend themselves against tyrants.

You must check your sources when citing statistics. Most statistics quoting guns being used in violent acts include law enforcement, and law abiding citizens’ use against violent criminals. Facts and legitimate statistics are rarely important to those that have a gun control agenda. Here are some real statistics: From the FBI’s website, since 1991 the homicide rate in the US has dropped about 50%. 2-4 MILLION new guns enter circulation yearly. Half of those new guns are handguns, most being semi-automatic. Obviously, more guns does not mean more homicides.

5 years after enacting its gun ban, the Australian Bureau of Criminology acknowledged that there is no correlation between gun control laws and the use of firearms in violent crime. The percent of murders committed with a firearm was the highest it had ever been in 2006. Since Australia’s gun ban, rape increased 29.9% and violent crime increased 42.2%. The International Crime Victims Survey, by Leiden University in Holland, found that England & Wales ranked 2nd overall in violent crime among industrialized nations. 26% of English citizens have been victimized by violent crime. Australia led the list with more than 30% of its population victimized. The U.S. didn’t even make the top 10.

Judge Scalia’s opinion “affirming” gun control laws don’t infringe on the 2nd Amendment, is light years away from affirming anything. The justices are part of the government, unelected & appointed by the president for political reasons. They routinely find the unconstitutional to be constitutional. Scalia’s opinion can be “affirmed” with an amendment to the Constitution The political grifters instantly and shamefully exploited the Sandy Hook tragedy to push their attack on the 2nd Amendment.

The common thread to the murders in Arizona, Colorado and Sand Hook is mental illness and psycotrohpic drugs. Where was the outrage and bills introduced addressing the real reasons for the murders?

There was a stabbing spree today on a college campus in Texas in which 15 have been injured. Should we be talking about “knife violence” and knife control laws?

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David Ihde 1 year, 7 months ago

Travis, we are not a Democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic. And the Constitution does not change by government fiat. It changes by way of the amendment proccess. It is the amendment proccess and only the amendment proccess that makes it a Living Breathing Document. You are also making 2 observational mistakes. 1. On the surface it appears you believe the military would fully side with the government in a civilian/governmemt conflict. 2. All those Middle East Countries who overthrough their governments were also outgunned by their government and lost!

And you need to brush up on your history. Jefferson also said that the blood of Tyrants and Patriots must spill from time to time for the tree of liberty to grow.

And nowhere in the constitution does it give authority for the government to limit what "We the People" can keep and bear

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David Ihde 1 year, 7 months ago

I meant to say the governments who outgunned their respective citizens lost!

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David Ihde 1 year, 7 months ago

Robert, your claim that Chicago's high murder rate is the result of the ease at which criminals can buy guns across the border defies logic. If that were the case then how come those very same locations do not have the same murder rates? How come the murder rate went down in D.C. after Heller?

And the NRA did not change its views. The reason they are opposed is that criminals and the mentally ill will not participate. In fact, by law, mentally ill patient records are not available for background checks. And how does any of this prevent a crime? Guns are all over the place and once sane people could be insane tomorrow, long after any background check may have taken place. This is just another assault on the law abiding. Arm the schools if you want a real solution.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

The murder rate in Chicago peaked in the 70s at nearly 1,000 per year. It stayed high for a couple of decades until an emphasis on local policing which was credited of reestablishing contacts with police and cutting the murder rate to 400-500. It bounced around there for a few years until the 2008 budget crisis caused pretty deep cuts in the police force and gangs appeared more willing to kill each other for turf and such. That year is was over 600. Then it dipped to mid 400s and 2012 was 506. The increase in 2012 is generally considered to be the result of stepped up gang wars.

I think any attempt to correlate changes in Chicago's murder rate to gun control laws is not justified by the facts. There is no evidence that guns ever were actually hard enough to acquire to suggest that there was ever changes in gun ownership rates by either gang members or the general public. Nor are there clear trends that correlate to the enactment or removal of gun control laws.

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Howard Bashinski 1 year, 7 months ago

Hi Travis,

Very well said! The constitutional argument is nothing more or less than a way for either "side" to dodge the true issue. As to the nature of the real concern, it could be a paranoid delusion about a day when our democratically elected government and its volunteer military all will decide to "crack down" on us unruly citizens. Or it could be simply that some people feel we'd be safer if everyone is armed to the teeth. Or it might be that some simply object to any type of control by others in their lives.

Whatever the case, arguing the Constitution is a useless waste of time for this issue. As we have seen in our history, the Constitution sometimes has been interpreted first one way and then the other! Our Supreme Court - especially in modern times - seems as inconsistent as our laws themselves. If a ruling goes one way now, what's to keep it from being changed in the future? A more logical, effective, and permanent way to resolve this issue would be thru compromise; let's find a way where both sides "win" at least a part of what they want.

Simply arguing that "I'm right and your wrong" about the Constitution brings to mind two cavemen hitting each other over the head with clubs until one can't take it anymore. Is this the way we want to resolve our differences?

Again, thanx for your insights!

hb

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Robert Huron 1 year, 7 months ago

As Republican Senator Toomey said today " Background checks is NOT gun control it is just plain common sense".

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

The Supreme Court is pretty consistent in interpreting the Constitution. It rarely outright overturns prior decisions.

They usually take cases that are new situations that lower courts in different districts have decided in different ways.

Heller overturning bans on handguns did not directly overturn any prior decisions. That decision took the effort to state that it was not overturning prior decisions that upheld banning sawed off shotguns and such. The justices in Heller took the position that completely banning a category of very commonly used guns infringed upon the right of the well regulated militia to exist.

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Mike Isaac 1 year, 7 months ago

It is obsolete because the ability of a gun owner to effectively defend himself or herself from a military power that wishes to take his or her freedom has been seriously compromised by the advance of military technology. To be fair, if someone is coming to take my freedom or my life, I would rather have a gun. And I, therefore, think that the individual ability to own a gun to defend my and my family’s lives should not be eliminated. But I am not convinced that owning a gun to defend my home will help to protect me from Abrams tanks, Apache attack helicopters, unmanned drones and Tomahawk missiles that a foreign or domestic military power is sure to use when trying to attempt to take my freedom.

Travis. Adolph Hitler did not need to use his tanks to round up the Jews after he disarmed them by passing the 1933 Gun Control Act. Democide has killed over 280 million in the last 100 years so why should I trust some political punk from Denver or DC to protect me. You seem like a smart guy but very misguided with your trust of the system and that is what will bring this Nation down.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

So a foreign power is rolling down my street with tanks or patrolling the skies with drones, and whether I have a gun is supposed to make a difference?

A gun, a sling, a knife are all completely ineffective against a military power To be able to protect your home requires at least rocket propelled grenades.. Even in the 1780s, a gun was not much against a military power's cannons.

Seems obvious that the way to protect your home against a military power is not by planning on fighting them when they are at your home, but to join the state militia or national guard so you can be part of a larger military unit that can fight them in force at strategic places. Even in the 1780s, a person with a gun lacks the firepower to threaten a military power and would have to join a local army to fight the military power.

A gun could be useful in defending your house against criminals when government protection ceases to exist such as during civil unrest.

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Gary Burkholder 1 year, 7 months ago

Scott and Travis Please explain how the strongest country in the world ,with all its attack helicopters,with the aid of other modern countries was unable to defeat a country with an army in silk PJs and flip flops made from tires. Lets reduce the violence by taking violent video games and violent films out of the hands of children. I know this will upset the liberal money tree in Hollywood but I doubt if they will go bankrupt

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Mike Isaac 1 year, 7 months ago

http://www.infowars.com/85-of-cops-say-gun-control-is-useless-detrimental/

85% of cops say gun control is useless. That's about the percentage of people who think the war on drugs is useless

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 7 months ago

Mike, Here is the poll: http://ddq74coujkv1i.cloudfront.net/p1_gunsurveysummary_2013.pdf

Where in the poll do you find that conclusion?

Your link writes another conclusion from the poll: "85 percent of law enforcement professionals said that in their opinion, a federal ban on assault weapons would have no effect on crime, and would likely have a negative effect on their safety."

I don't see that in the poll either.

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Rick Pighini 1 year, 7 months ago

Burn all the books and movies! Yep no doubt. I vote mandatory gun safety cards for all those wishing to purchase guns or ammo. At least this way people know how to use guns. Also we can be safe while we wait for the worlds powers to take us all over. We could try mandatory two year military service for everyone. A trained society has its best opportunity to succeed, but of course it guaranties nothing.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 7 months ago

Mandatory military service will solve nothing. I served when there was mandatory service from1966 to 1968. Our military today is much more efficient, much more effective, and much more professional than in those years. This country sent a bunch of kids to Vietnam and many that returned came back drug addicted and with battle fatigue. They came back to a country where Americans spit on them. Now we send kids to the middle east where many that come back are missing limbs and suffer PTSD. At least now most of the country accepts them as heroes. Jane Fonda has gone out of style. The last war this country should have been involved in was WWII.

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brian kofke 1 year, 7 months ago

A student of history? I think not. If you were a student of history you would know that our system of government is not a democracy, but a constitutional republic.We have inalianable rights that no one can take away, even if 99% of the "sheeple" voted against them. The only way to alter the constitution is a constitutional amendment, which would fail miserably, and for good reason. I suggest that the writer of this article is quite ignorant as to what is going on in this world. Let me break this down for you out there that are asleep and enjoy their slumber. Elements within our government have long been managed by globalist elites, neocons and international bankers. These people plan on a one world government, a cashless society, and total control over all. Whilst you were sleeping they have been drawing their plans against you in plain sight. Have you ever heard of agenda 21? Well, it's real, so maybe you should check it out; I promise you that it will effect your future quite soon. Have you ever read the book "ecoscience" by John Holdren, the white house science czar? You might want to read that, because in it he describes what he plans to do to you, and the things he writes about in that book have been done to you for a long while now without your knowledge or consent. These globalists have been bragging about what they are going to do to you for years. Hell, Henry Kissinger said years ago "The illegal we do immediatly, the unconstitutional takes a bit longer". He said that out in the open, and yet the sheeple ignore it. People like Tom Willman are beacons of light in a ever darkening sky in this country. "In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain. Cheers to you Tom Willman. Shame on you Travis Brown for you lack of honor toward those that have died for the rights you now slander. Shame on you Travis Brown for supporting a policy that makes me and my family less safe, and most importantly shame on your for your blatent ignorance about what is going on currently in our world. Those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it, and you, sir, certainly are no student of history.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 7 months ago

"a real discussion to solve our problems of today"...

I think Travis put that very well.

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