Where are our major differences?
We fight about our guns.
We argue about how we cast our ballots.
We cannot agree on immigration.
We loudly disagree on whether the women, or the unborn should have a choice.
Other than that, we are one happy country.
Have gun Will not Register
The battle about the guns erupts every time there is a mass shooting, like the recent ones in Atlanta and Colorado Springs. We get enraged and talk about it for a week. Then every thing goes back to the way it was before. Second Amendment vs. banning the guns. Never ending debates.
After a mass shooting, thousands of bills are introduced in local, state and federal legislative bodies. But there is a big difference between Bills introduced and bills passed. Few states and localities pass legislation. Some end up being more restrictive on guns and some less. In the end, the net result does not measure up to our expectations. Also, without a federal mandate, there is usually no end point.
The often quoted Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "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." The meaning and scope of this sentence is left so vague that the controversy over its interpretation continues.
1) The simplest (also the most difficult) way to end this controversy will be to amend this amendment.
Given the current political climate, most people agree that this is nearly impossible.
2) The next best thing would be to restrict the type of firearms like assault weapons that can be owned by private citizens. The term assault weapons means different things to different people. This starts another never ending debate.
3) Third, Federal Government can require universal background checks and permits for the purchasers of the firearms.
You would think that this is the easiest thing that the federal government can do.
But thanks to the pressure from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Halls of Congress have always been full of rhetoric and short on guts in passing any legislation.
Without Federal action, states are the next resorts. Currently five states and the District of Columbia prohibit people from carrying handguns in public places. Thirty one states allow the open carrying of handgun without any license or permit. Only thirteen states and the District of Columbia require universal background checks at the point of sale.
Just do the math. We have a long way to go.
As comedian Pat Paulson quipped, the solution may be to have "bullet control instead of gun control".
Vote Early but not Often
In the article, "Voting Rights: A Short History", published on November 18, 2019 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the following scenario of voting in this country is summarized:
1) 1700's: Voting generally limited to white property owners;
2) 1800's: After the civil war, during reconstruction, many barriers to voting started to recede. The 15th Amendment to the constitution, opened voting to persons of color;
3) 1920: Women's right to vote was passed into law;
4) 1964: 24th Amendment to the constitution was ratified and voting restriction to blacks through toll taxes became unlawful; Voting Right Act was passed in 1965;
5) 1971: 26th Amendment to the constitution reduced the minimum age for voting from 21 to 18;
6) 1975: Revisions to Voting Rights Act was expanded to provide safeguards for language minorities in voting;
7) 1982: Voting rights extended steps to make voting more accessible to elderly and handicapped;
8) 1993: Motor Vehicle Administrations throughout the country were allowed to do voter registration;
9) 2002: All the states were required to update their ballot counting systems;
10) June 2013: Shelby v. Holder. In a ruling that civil rights advocates consider as a setback for their movement, U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states and localities were no longer required to submit changes in their voting procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice for "pre-clearing";
The Ballot issue was in the forefront of the 2020 general elections. Many states liberalized their voting procedures because of the Covid-19 situation. Early voting, mail-in ballots, and extended voting hours enabled record number of voters easily access the poling booths. Republicans complained of voting fraud.
The critical issue in the midst of voting procedures is the requirement of verified voter identification (ID). According to democrats, voter ID requirement amounts to voter suppression. Republicans feel that absence of voter ID leads to voter fraud.
Burgess Owens, the newly elected African American member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Republican) from Utah said, "I use my I.D. to drive a car, to get a job, to board a plane, pick up prescriptions, and virtually everything else in life....... So tell me again, Why is showing an I.D. voter suppression?"
Hypocrisy is present both in the right and left.
The conservatives do not want background checks for firearm buyers.
The liberals do not like Voter ID in the elections.
In this age of Biometrics, why is it so difficult to develop a fool proof voter identification system?
Alien Files to Citizenship Oath
You may not believe it. I used be an alien with a proper Alien Registration number.
So were millions of new immigrants to this country. I migrated to this country benefiting from the landmark 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act which opened doors to immigrants from Non-European countries. This law also created a new system to attract skilled immigrants and favoring family reunification. Since enactment of this law, more people from Asia and Latin America were able to migrate to this country. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act granted legal status to unauthorized immigrants mainly from central and South America. Subsequent immigrant legislations have responded to concerns of border control, terrorism, eligibility for admission into the country.
During the Obama administration, actions on immigration have been through Executive Orders of the President, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Trump administration emphasized on border security.
The issues of undocumented persons, insecure borders, unaccompanied minors crossing the border, and lack of a coherent immigration policy remain.
To be or Not to be
On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed a momentous decision on the Roe v. Wade case
giving women the right to choose abortions during the "first two trimesters" of pregnancy. The critics called this an example of judicial activism.
The Supreme Court revisited this decision in 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey case. This ruling reaffirmed women's right to choose abortion (to the relief of advocates of Abortion) but changed the framework to a standard based on "fetal viability" instead of a trimester. This framework also reduced the time of abortion choice by about a month.
Herein comes the great divide. What does fetal viability really mean?
How do we use this as an operative framework.
When does a fetus become a person?
Doctors often define fetal viability as the point at which a baby has a 50% chance of survival if born early. Most doctors define the age of viability as being about 24 weeks of gestation. With the advancement of neonatal intensive care units, the non-viability period has also been declining over the years.
Since 2010, as the courts have also become more conservative, and there has been an increase in state restrictions on abortion.
Moving forward, the future direction of reproductive rights issue, may hang on a combination of state restrictions, public opinion and lower court actions rather than a Supreme Court decision.