AShotAndaBeer's Blog

Politics, Firearms, and things that amuse me

On Background Checks and Closing the so-called “Loophole”

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Much has happened since I last added to the pixels of opinion. Mostly, work is so busy now that it’s hard for me to keep up like I used to, and while I have wanted to chime in, by the time I get thoughts on a topic together, it’s usually old news.

The gun control debate rages on, however. Much ado about so-called “assault weapons” and “extended magazines,” which I think will not lead to any major changes any time soon. At least not outside certain Liberal strongholds such as New York and California. I also believe the new NY law will likely be stripped of many of the draconian provisions if not outright overturned by the courts.

The biggest issue, though, that has the anti-gun crowd bloviating the loudest is what is (erroneously) referred to as the “Gun Show Loophole,” which allows weapons to be bought and sold without criminal background checks. And Oh! My! Forty Percent of guns sold are without background checks!

Well, sort of. You see, if there is a private owner who wishes, for whatever reason, to sell a firearm, he or she can legally do so. And there is no requirement to go through the background check of the buyer. That being said, however, there are penalties for a seller to knowingly transfer a firearm of any kind to a “restricted” person, such as a convicted felon.

However, if one attends one of those eeevil gun shows, you will find many of the dealers in attendance are in fact licensed dealers. That means if you purchase a weapon from one of them, they are still required to perform the instant background check prior to the sale.

In a way, it’s sort of like automobiles. A person, for whatever reason, may decide to sell a car. That person is certainly free to do so for whatever price they can negotiate with a buyer. All that can be done without a license, or dealer’s registration. The exception would be if one did that more than a set number of times within a year; most jurisdictions set a limit to prevent non-dealers from avoiding the taxes and such that come from a dealer’s license.

So what they want to do is make it a requirement that every sale, or transfer from one person to another, is accompanied by a Criminal Background Check. While this might sound reasonable to some, think about the implications involved. Sure, it would perhaps prevent an unsuspecting seller who maybe decided they wanted to sell a gun and get something new from selling it to someone who really shouldn’t have it, but I really doubt that number would be all that high; most criminals already purchase guns off the record, or just plain steal them, and this would not change that one bit.

What it would affect, however, is a lot of tradition, especially in the Midwest. A father couldn’t buy a .22 for his son’s 16th birthday without going to the gun store, and filing paperwork to be called in to make sure his son isn’t a criminal. Or a grandfather passing down a shotgun that has been in the family for five generations.

Simply put, installing a so-called “universal” background check would either cause a hassle for those following the rules, or make a lot more people ignore more laws. Nothing would be accomplished.

So, if there might a room for a “reasonable” compromise, how about a Purchase Permit. Or a separate ID card showing lawful firearms ownership. Probably will have a lot of detractors, but hear me out.

I think a person could voluntarily be issued a card, with photo, stating they are legally allowed to purchase firearms. It would be good for, say, a year, or so. There is also the standard magnetic strip on the back, which a dealer would swipe a special reader at the time of sale, and it instantly connects to the FBI database. Within seconds, it comes back with “Approved” or “Disapproved,” and everyone goes about their business. This would also streamline the normal process, which currently involves filling out about 5 pages of questions, and the dealer physically picking up the phone and relaying your answers to the person on the other end, who then states the approved/disapproved in return.

But what if someone gets a card, and then kills someone? Well, that database can be updated pretty quickly with either a temporary denial (perhaps pending further investigation or outcome of a legal proceeding) or a permanent one (after lawful conviction, for example).

And while I’m not in favor of requiring private sales to be checked on, if a person sells a gun to someone they don’t know, they can most likely be reasonably certain that the person they are selling to is probably OK if they can produce that card. This protects the seller, as well, from inadvertently arming a criminal, which was never their intention in the first place.

This may not be perfect. Gun Control asshats will scream it doesn’t go far enough, although to them anything less than the outright banning, confiscation, and destruction of every privately owned firearm doesn’t go far enough. Second Amendment supporters like myself will be hesitant, worrying about further restrictions on a cherished freedom, and the potential of a “database” of gun owners being kept by the Federal Government.

More than likely, not much if anything will happen. But I thought I might get a word in showing what might be a reasonable compromise.

Written by James Lee

February 21, 2013 at 18:37

Posted in Uncategorized

Emanuel Cleaver: Down at the Car Wash!

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This has been developing for a few days, so I’ll throw my few cents in.

Last week, I found it quite amusing that Missouri’s Fifth District Representative Emanuel Cleaver is being sued by Bank of America.  It seems that in 2002, he borrowed approximately $1.2 Million for the purchase of a car wash in Kansas City.  And, so the story says, failed to keep up the loan payments.

Those of you in Kansas City may recall this car wash being a “headache” for him previously.  In 2004, during his run for the 5th District seat, it was found that he owed about $36,000 in back taxes on the business.  As memory serves, he did make the delinquent payments, and it obviously didn’t hurt that much politically.

Then, the other morning as I’m driving to work, enjoying the morning news on the radio, I hear a new twist to this loan that has had me livid for the last two days:  Taxpayers may be on the hook for part of this loan.

It appears that Cleaver secured this loan from the Small Business Administration.  Being the guarantors of the loan, the SBA becomes responsible for repayment in the case of default (similar to a VA mortgage, or a co-signer).  As I am given to understand, the business and assets could be seized, then sold to cover as much as possible, but the difference may be made up by taxpayer money.

From the Kansas City Star article:

Officials cautioned that the exact amount of the SBA’s responsibility might not be known for months, and could be substantially less.

You know, I don’t care if it’s one dollar, or a hundred million.  Taxpayers should not be responsible for any failed business.  Especially that of a relatively powerful, and relatively well-off Congressman.

I may seem a bit bitter here, and you are probably right.  No longer being a business owner, I can speak of this.  When my partner and I assumed the ownership of the previous business, we had no loans, SBA or otherwise, except a small amount to our families.  We were in fact turned down for a loan to cover operations, and had to rely on hitting the ground running.

After my partner moved on, as you know, I struggled to survive, and by the time I needed it to even stay alive, a loan from anyone was out of the question.

Yet this yay-hoo, because of his position and connections, gets 7 figures, backed by the hardworking taxpaying public.  Every working American should be furious at the cronyism that has rotted the system to the core.

While searching for sourcing for this, I happened across this article.  I’ll not comment much on it, as this is mostly new and unfamiliar to me, and I’m not sure of the source.  I will leave the link, to make of it what you will.  Here’s a taste:

On the $80,000 loan, state law makes no mention of such loans going to businesses outside Kansas City. A regulation also stipulates they cannot be used for “buyouts of existing businesses.”

Jim Grebing, a spokesman for the Department of Economic Development, defended the loan, saying it was not given to buy a business, but technically to secure a $1.3 million Small Business Administration loan. “I think that might make it a little bit different,” he said.

The loan summary from Douglass National Bank, however, says the money was needed “to complete the purchase of Grandview Auto Wash and Lube.”

 

This man needs to be voted out this November, and I will do all I can to help secure that goal.

Written by James Lee

April 11, 2012 at 20:50

Posted in Uncategorized

Obamacare, Contraception, and Republican Idiots

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It’s certainly been a while since I’ve taken to the keys.  Did you miss me?  I miss this too.  Unfortunately, with my new work situation, I’m not really able to keep up as much as I used to, and while I try to keep up on the news events, the workload leaves me tired at the end of the day.  Not to complain, of course, job security these days is a great thing, and making a living is even better, but makes it hard to be a right-wing wacko activist.

I come from lurking tonight to finally weigh in on the topic that just won’t go away:  Contraception and Health Insurance.

For the record, I am sick to death of hearing this get deeper and deeper.  Here was a case of Kathleen “HHS Kitty” Sebelius (perhaps unwittingly) serving up a very slow lobbing pitch, and Barry O’Hopenchange slamming it into the center field bleachers.  And the Republican Idiots (TM) just fell right into the trap, taking it hook, line, and sinker.

This issue is not about women being denied contraceptive coverage.  That just happens to be the battle lines the Administration sought to fight this on.  Putting a personal face on it, with “real” situations, as it were.

The truth is, the root of the real issue is more philosophical, and much more nuanced.  It’s really about how much control the Government has over private business and private transactions.

While the current headline is about the idea of Health Insurance covering birth control, you could take that particular out of it and change it around to something else.  Let’s say, for example, that a business owner is morally opposed to cigarette smoking.  To that end, he or she decides that they don’t wish to cover health insurance for those nasty tobacco users.  Honestly, my opinion is “great!”  I don’t even care the reason, he’s footing the bill for the insurance premium, he should have a say in what he’s paying for.

But, now imagine we have a President who smokes (gasp!), and feels that excluding health coverage is somehow morally wrong.  So now Mister Business Owner, you WILL pay for all those employees who wish to keep smoking and developing health problems.  It’s only fair, after all.

You can substitute anything you want to that:  drug addicts, alcoholics, scientologists, fire eaters, whatever.

And true to form, Republicans of all stripes took that softball lob dead square in the face, and it splattered all over them.  Instead of making those points about the Government controlling more and more of private citizens lives, they choose to bring the evangelical moral points to the specifics of this particular case.  And they’ve just shoved that foot deeper and deeper into their own mouths.

I’ll grant you, the subtle philosophy gets very lost in trying to make a bumper sticker slogan.    After all, most people tend to not care particularly about an issue unless it may affect them, or someone close to them, directly.

But dammit!  Republicans have a golden opportunity here.  Never mind we have put up what might be one of the worst fields of Presidential contenders in my lifetime, we still might be able to pull this off.  We have got to get rid of the Imperious Doofus!

But if our side keeps wanting to get bogged down in the trenches with details and morality lessons, and not bring up the real, dangerous issues of a government that is far exceeding its authority even by the loosest interpretation of the Constitution, then I fear we will be stuck with four more years of the current mess we have.

Written by James Lee

March 5, 2012 at 20:48

Posted in Uncategorized

Palin Fires Back at Hoffa

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Wow, this whole “New Tone” just has me feeling all warm and tingly. Glad we got everyone to step away from the “violent rhetoric” and bring some “civility” back to our political discourse, eh?

Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa addressed a crowd this weekend in Detroit:

“We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war,” Jimmy Hoffa said to a heavily union crowd.

“President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong,” Hoffa added.

Now, I’ll be fair; I honestly don’t think Mr. Hoffa means to say that he literally thinks there should be an actual, physical fight, or honestly believes it has become a war. Just the same as I never believed for one second that Sarah Palin intended to suggest to anyone by use of “crosshairs” or the “reload” comment that anyone should take it as anything other than symbolism, “targeting” the opponent at the ballot box come election day. Still, Union members are somewhat known for stubborn thuggishness, and the Teamsters in my memory were synonymous with that. So, you never know exactly what Mr. Hoffa might have meant.

Of course, Hoffa may have come back later, walked back the rhetoric, stated that he may have made a poor “choice of words,” he didn’t mean it literally, and so forth. However, this morning on the local radio station, he did get interviewed, and chose to not only not do that, but seemed to somewhat double down on the original language.

http://media.kmbz.com/a/44636943/e-j-ellen-with-jimmy-hoffa-jr.htm

Incidentally, those remarks were made as part of an introduction to President Obama speaking to the same crowd. Not only does the White House refuse to comment, let alone condemn the remarks, apparently, the President is “proud” of Hoffa and other labor leaders.

Sarah Palin, ever the class act in my humble opinion, has come back with this Facebook posting:

What I have to say is for the hard working, patriotic, selfless union brothers and sisters in Michigan and throughout our country: Please don’t be taken in by union bosses’ thuggery like Jim Hoffa represented yesterday. Union bosses like this do not have your best interests at heart. What they care about is their own power and re-electing their friend Barack Obama so he will take care of them to the detriment of everyone else.

Read the whole thing. Then tell me who the “extremists” and out of control elements are in this country right now.

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150285058673435

Written by James Lee

September 6, 2011 at 21:13

Posted in Uncategorized

Embracing the Change

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I hope you all will please pardon the mostly personal post. Many apologies for the light posting lately. Many of you who check on this space know of the struggles I’ve had with my business in recent months and years, and it’s finally come to an end. As of a few weeks ago, I am no longer a business owner.

Without going into too many details, I was part of a franchise system. I used a national name, logo, procedures, and the like. I actually came into possession of the franchise as almost a fluke; right place, right time, did and said the right things, and there it was. Things were actually fairly good, relatively speaking, for a while, and at least the business paid for itself, with the exception of my labor. I started it with a partner, who after a while started to realize it wasn’t the gold mine we both thought it would be, and had the good sense to get away from it. Not me. Stubborn and resistant, I just knew the place had potential, all I needed was one more good week, one more good month, and all would be well.

So much for the hopes and dreams. True enough, it stayed afloat with no significant problems for several years, even after I was left with no employees and even less capital to work with. Granted, I have not taken home any profits in over three years, and truth be told, never got regularly paid by my own company for literally doing it all. But what came in was good to keep it rolling, keep the dream alive, and hope that my good service, honesty, and fair prices would be enough to eventually turn the tide.

But it was not to be.

The fall of 2008, when the entire economy nearly crumbled, was when the serious problems started. Bills fell later and later, business became scarcer and scarcer. Those that did frequent my establishment respected my work, and my opinion, but many simply could not afford what I offered. Still, even with that, I managed to struggle, holding one bill off for a month, paying another, catching up later, but eventually falling behind on all. The spiral started. Eventually, things got so overwhelming, it seemed that no daylight was even left to be seen, and I had no idea of what to do, besides hope, do my best, and I just knew that if I worked just a little harder (which, to be completely honest, became more and more difficult to even do), then things would turn around and I could just work my way out of the problems. Besides, there was still that pesky franchise contract that I had to fulfill, negating even the idea of walking away without facing penalties for doing so.

Finally, facing the real threat of eventual shutdown whether I wanted it or not, I had an opportunity to speak with the franchise company. Laid it out to their representative, plain and harsh. What I learned was that there was a possible way out.

Turned out, the Company has been acquiring and operating locations themselves, all across the country. Several, I have learned, were in similar situations as myself. Being a national company, they actually have the resources, money, and manpower to put into a struggling location, something that was never an option for myself, even when the partnership was still there.

As I have been told, my relationship with the customer base was one reason they liked me and my location. Maybe I cut a few corners, and maybe didn’t charge customers the actual true worth of my work, especially my time, but they were loyal to me. And, with the work performed, I experienced very few problems, proving I was good at what I did. All I needed was backing, and things would take off.

Which brings us to now. As I said, I’m not the owner any longer; I am actually an employee of the Company, running my place. I am grateful that the amount of money they paid to “buy out” my contract, while not much, was able to put a dent in one of the major late bills, and helped eliminate that one at least. And, I will actually be getting a regular paycheck, with opportunities for bonuses if certain goals are met.

It is sort of bittersweet, in a way; years ago, we literally started our operation on a wing and a prayer, with a little help and blessing from our families. The goal, of course, was to take that small investment, mix it with our knowledge and hard work, and turn it into a fortune. When my partner, God Bless, saw the writing on the wall, I should have also taken the smart route, and found my way out of it, while there was still a small amount to be taken out. And I really must thank the Amazingly Wonderful MrsJamesLee for standing behind me, even when it became apparent things were hopeless. No, honey, you were NOT a bitch about it, even though you probably should have been! And I love you for that even more!

The sweet part is that I have a job, the headaches of bills, compliance, taxes, equipment maintenance, and all that are now not my problem. And with the job, I have a wonderful opportunity to make, for my own pocket, at least as much as the entire company grossed in the last year. Plus, I get to be an instrumental player in actually proving what my entire goal was all along: Given the right circumstances, that place will work!

The bitter part, though, is that I am not on my own. On some level, I feel a little like a failure, with my business having to fold and give way to others, that I couldn’t make it on my own. Yes, I know that in end, logically, I could not have continued, and if I had tried, I know things would have gotten worse, and much uglier, than they even were. Still, a little bit of me, which honestly seems to be less of me every day, has just a little regret, and an ever-diminishing feeling of giving up (something I’ve always been too stubborn to admit). Just give me a little time, and this too shall pass.

Soo… things are good! I don’t get to keep up as much on my news and politics like I did, and don’t get to do everything my own way any more. But those things don’t mean much when you are down in a large hole. Now, it seems, the sun is finally coming out, and even my family and friends say I seem much happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Cheers! Embrace the changes, because sometimes the changes are most definitely for the best.

Written by James Lee

June 20, 2011 at 21:59

Posted in Uncategorized

$50 Light Bulbs

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New Technology light bulbs, the LED (Light Emitting Diode), are starting to make some headway:

Two leading makers of lighting products are showcasing LED bulbs that are bright enough to replace energy-guzzling 100-watt light bulbs set to disappear from stores in January.

There is, at this time, a little bit of a drawback, which will make things a bit tricky:

The new bulbs will also be expensive — about $50 each — so the development may not prevent consumers from hoarding traditional bulbs.

That last line is certainly true; in my garage there is a whole load of 100w and 75w ‘regular’ bulbs, and I am planning on getting many more before I can’t.

Now, contrary to what it may seem, I am not against this sort of technology. I’ve actually been using LED lights, in the form of pen lights and flashlights and such, for approximately twelve years. They come in quite handy in my line of work, being an automotive mechanic where there are tight quarters and dark crevasses to look in. Incandescent “trouble lights” are bad news; the heat generated from a 100w bulb, if there is leaking gasoline, can light up your day very quickly. And burn you when you try to turn it to be able to see better.

As the article states, having multiple LEDs has been the problem, and that is also true in my experience with the flashlights. A single element will last much longer than those with multiple. Several of the (up to) 9 LED units I’ve had have very quickly started to malfunction; a couple of them don’t light up, then a few more, eventually, the light is useless. The weak point seems to be the circuit board they are mounted on. On the other hand, the single units hold up much longer; weak points end up being the connections from the battery, or the switch itself.

But, as with all new technology, the cost of those has come down dramatically. Originally, I recall paying upwards of $25 or $30 for the AAAA-cell pen lights. Very rugged, pretty reliable, but the cost of replacement and the batteries themselves often frustrated me. Other styles, using more standard batteries have hit the market in droves, to varying success, but I find the cheaper the cost, the quicker they quit working, requiring me to get another one. Yes, I’m hard on them, dropping them on concrete, slamming a car hood on them, etc.

I’ve stated, though, I will never purchase another compact florescent. They don’t work good, there are hazardous materials in them, and I just plain don’t like them. Early on, we purchased several of these, and they do not last as long as advertised, and of course do not make good light.

Recently, we did purchase a couple of LED bulbs, though not of the style listed in the article I link. These seemed more suited for accent lighting, things like that, but the cost was comparable to a CFL. One of them is installed in our attached garage ceiling fixture. We spend a lot of time outdoors, and will sometimes make multiple trips in and out through the garage. The bulb itself was rated at 80 Lumens (I think). In my estimation it seems to be about the equivalent of a standard 40-watt bulb. Not enough to perform detailed tasks, or reading (especially with the high ceiling the fixture is located in), but very much enough to walk your way around the car, shelves, and the like so as to not trip.

As more of these hit the market, the options will increase, production costs will drop, and competition will bring down the end-user prices. Just think, a plasma television set used to cost upwards of $10,000; now, LCD flat screens can be less than 1/20th of that. I don’t recall any government mandate (aside from forcing television signals to new frequencies and digital broadcasts, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax) forcing consumers to give up their CRT sets the way they are with light bulbs.

I am totally in favor of new technology, and yes, if you want to call it that, “green” technology. And device or appliance that uses less energy and/or is more reliable is almost never a bad thing; cheaper electric bills each month, less often replacement of old or broken units, leads to greater wealth for everyone. My issue is the mandates.

Plain and simple, if people like a product, they will buy it. The more it is used, the cheaper it becomes for everyone as industry moves to satisfy a market desire and turn a profit. A good product does not need the government to step in and force everyone to choose between cheap poison and high-priced alternatives, leaving a perfectly reliable, safe, cheap, and plentiful product illegal for one to purchase or use. Especially in the name of phony baloney hoaky-malarky like “global warming.”

So Washington, please quit trying to force your choices (likely, connected with campaign donations or promises of future employment) on the rest of us. We are smart enough to choose options that work for us, and the market will choose the winners and losers, not you.

Written by James Lee

May 16, 2011 at 21:44

Posted in Uncategorized

They’re All Gunna DIE!

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In the continuing quest towards reaching a “Tone Tone” in our discourse, and move away from the “Politics of Fear,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offers her gesture:

She continued, “If you run out of the government voucher and then you run out of your own money, you’re left to scrape together charity care, go without care, die sooner. There really aren’t a lot of options.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54405.html#ixzz1LW4PuUTs

I guess it’s a step forward; after all, the HHS Kitty apparently didn’t bring up that they would be kicked into the street and forced to eat dog food.

This revolves around the Ryan Budget plan, which tries to get a handle on the rising costs of the Medicare program. As I understand it, instead of actually having the government pay for your medical costs, the ‘voucher’ in question would be given to the person to shop for their own private insurance. As I recall, this is similar to how the “Medicare Advantage” program worked, and from what I’d seen, most were happy with it.

Maybe that won’t work for everyone, but something must be done. The current system can not be sustained in any meaningful form. Even now, fewer and fewer medical practitioners are accepting any Medicare patients, as more and more people move into that system. And that doesn’t even mention the fact the system is bankrupt.

So go ahead, try to scare everyone, get them to vote for you, and then see what happens when the crumbs you end up handing out are not enough.

Written by James Lee

May 5, 2011 at 16:57

Posted in Uncategorized

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