Mark Grimm


NY Gun Law Misses The Target

New York’s new gun law

– allows a state bureaucrat to take a gun away from a law-abiding citizen who has done nothing wrong
– makes a criminal out of a legal gun owner who fails to meet requirements that didn’t exist when the gun was purchased
–  requires a gun owner to get background checks on his best friend or brother-in-law before selling him his gun
– defines “assault weapons” as clearly as an advanced calculus formula

The state constitution requires bills to “age” three days on lawmakers’ desks to provide for sufficient review. That stipulation was circumvented by the Governor’s “message of necessity” that allowed for the bill’s passage just hours after being introduced. A careful reading of the text indicates many people may not be aware of just how far the law goes.

The key mental health provision raises civil liberty concerns. Mental health professionals are required to turn in their own patients who have guns if they think the patient is “likely to engage in conduct” that may be harmful. A state agency could then act to revoke the gun license even though the owner had done nothing wrong. This action is predicated on the false stereotype that the mentally ill are more dangerous than the rest of us. In fact, substance abusers, whether sane or not, are much more likely to be violent than the mentally ill in general. And divorce, unemployment and a history of physical abuse are better predictors of violent behavior than mental illness.

In all but eight counties in NY, gun licenses have never expired. The law changes that even for those who have the license already. These legal gun owners are now subject to re-certification. A failure to comply results in criminal charges.

Massive and confusing red tape now awaits legal gun owners and dealers who face the reality the same gun may fall into both legal and illegal categories depending on its modifications. Every state legislator should be required to define an assault weapon in 50 words or less. And, by the way, violent gang members have never worried much about red tape.

I believe in universal background checks, keeping guns away from kids and felons and recognizing some weapons should be banned because they are too effective at killing many people quickly. But NY’s gun law is a political response to a much more complex problem. The Newtown tragedy highlighted the need for more parental responsibility, where a mother allowed her disturbed son access to six guns. Haven’t heard a word about that. Americans also must get better at protecting themselves because being defenseless is not a strategy. And we must strengthen our core values that shape our behavior in the first place.

Blaming guns misses the target. And chipping away at the 2nd Amendment is even worse. Let’s work together to develop a thoughtful, comprehensive strategy that makes our lives, and our liberties, more secure.

The writer, a former elected official, spent three years as a senior staff member in the NY State Assembly.

Obama Inauguration Speech: Reaganism Is Dead

Though couched in eloquent language involving American ideals, President Obama’s inauguration speech made one thing clear: he believes Reaganism is dead.

Inauguration speeches are about defining America’s greatness and the president believes his “liberal” or “progressive” agenda (depending on your point of view) is what makes America great. Big government is the answer, not the problem.

Reading between the lines, he sent a hands-off message on Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, called for more government spending on highways and rails, plugged government business regulation, called for government-imposed pay scales, opposed voter ID and wants to allow citizenship for at least some of those here illegally.

The word “taxpayer” is never mentioned. Not once. Any time climate change gets more attention than taxpayers, a line in the sand is being drawn.

Though he is the 51% president, there was little in the speech that was really conciliatory. The president has decided he is going to fight it out in is second term. His inauguration speech makes that clear.

One other point: in an 18-minute speech, President Obama mentions God seven times. The notion that the Constitution requires us to be a godless nation has been debunked again. Our nation stands for the freedom of religion, not the absence of it.

Jodie Foster’s Award Speech: What No Plan Looks Like

Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards is a great “teaching moment” in speech preparation (view for yourself below). It was hard to watch.

I’m a longtime fan of the actress. The Cecil B. DeMille Award is a great honor and she had plenty of time to prepare. It’s too bad she did not make the most of it.

Good speech making requires a clear plan before hand on what you want to say and then to proceed with concise, conversational language. Foster seemed to be working things out in her mind on the fly — calling for more privacy while attempting to come out involving her sexuality.

Brains, beauty and fame don’t make you a good speaker. Ms. Foster has those. Speakers must portray conviction about what they are saying and be clear about it. Waffling is far too vague and makes the audience uncomfortable. Many great actors are poor speakers because revealing themselves is far more personal and difficult than revealing a character. Foster did try to get more personal and speak from the heart but she didn’t think it all the way through.

The good news is you don’t have to be rich and famous to speak well. Good speech principles are open to everyone. Foster’s appearance should not make you more nervous. It should be a lesson on how to prepare better.

The writer is a professional speaker and speaking coach.

Miss Alabama and the Culture War

Isn’t being beautiful a good thing?

The Internet is on fire over sportscaster Brent Musberger’s gushing praise of the beautiful girlfriend of University of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.
Katherine Webb
Miss Alabama Katherine Webb has become an overnight superstar following the exposure ESPN gave her at the national college football championship game Monday night.

Musberger has been called “creepy” for his remarks and ESPN apologized, claiming the commentary “went too far and Brent understands that.”

Webb, who has a bachelor’s degree in business management, says the media has been “unfair” to Musberger and she was “flattered” by what he said. She’d like more focus though on the “real winners,” the Alabama team that won the title.

Musberger was over the top and a 73-year-old man drooling over a 23-year woman on national TV is a little, shall we say, awkward. His remarks though were meant as a compliment. Whether you consider dating Webb a trophy or very good fortune lies in the eye of the beholder. Certainly, her modeling career will skyrocket due to the attention.

The incident has sparked a culture clash over the value of appearance. Treating women as objects is incredibly wrong and throwing a football well is not the only way to impress a woman. However, denying the existence of the laws of attraction and the value society places on good appearance is also carrying an unneeded chip on your shoulder.

“It’s extraordinary inappropriate to focus on an individual’s looks.” — Sue Carter, Michigan State University journalism professor in the NY Times.

Really, Sue? Then why do people spend so much time in front of the mirror before a big date?

Being beautiful is a good thing. And being in shape is even more important, especially at a time when America faces an obesity epidemic. We should salute Katherine Webb’s looks and the poise and intelligence she has shown while in the spotlight. Character, intelligence and kindness are traits that matter greatly, too. We should embrace them all.

The writer is a communications/media analyst and adjunct media professor.