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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Issue of the Week: Gun Control

Plus Summerfest, Army try to put smiley face on war

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Last week, in a split decision, the conservative activist wing of the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of a long-standing handgun ban in Washington, D.C. While it affirmed the right of individuals to possess guns, it also left intact some restrictions, including a local licensing law.

The decision could have implications for all local gun regulations, including those in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and experts expect that challenges will be mounted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) around the country. The NRA has made allowing concealed carry in Wisconsin a top priority—the current, long-standing ban has so inflamed the NRA that it held its national convention in Milwaukee in 2006 to draw attention to it. The NRA, and its ally, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, no doubt will make the ban an issue in the upcoming elections and legislative session. Yet the Supreme Court ruling won’t aid their cause: It expressly states that it does not “cast doubt” on concealed carry laws.

The decision doesn’t “cast doubt” on regulations on gun sales, either. Wisconsin—or even Milwaukee if outstate legislators won’t act—could mandate background checks on all sales of firearms, not just those that are sold by licensed dealers. Documenting the link between back-alley, private sales and crime in the city, andmak ing sellers accountable for their actions, could reduce violence and gun suicides in the city. It’s time.


Event of the Week:
The Walgreens Take Care Health Tour

This national tour will make multiple stops in Milwaukee, where participants can receive free health screenings, including tests for cholesterol, blood pressure, bone density, glucose levels, waist circumference and body mass index. Stops include Walgreens at 2222 W. Capitol Drive (Thursday, July 3), 1400 E. Brady St. (Friday, July 4), 7171 N. Teutonia Ave. (Saturday, July 5), 2727 W. North Ave. (Sunday, July 6), 6707 W. Hampton Ave. (Monday, July 7), 1433 W. Burnham St. (Thursday, July 10) and 620 W. Oklahoma Ave. (Friday, July 11). All of these events take place from 1 to 7 p.m. For more information, go to www.walgreens.com/takecare or call (866) 484-TOUR.

(For more events, go to www.expressmilwaukee.com.)


Heroes of the Week:
The Burma Rescue Group

A group of volunteers from UW-Milwaukee and the community has set up a Web site (www.burmarescue.com) to help Burmese relief workers coordinate efforts, collect resources, access practical information and link to other helpers. The Web site also includes personal testimonies about the aftermath of May 2’s Cyclone Nargis.


Jerk of the Week:
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker

Walker probably thinks that he’s doing county residents a service by holding the 2009 budget requests in public. But while the public is “invited to attend,” Walker isn’t allowing voters to ask questions during the sessions.

Is Walker afraid of what he might hear?


Can You Help?

Feeling the pinch that we’re all feeling, SAGE/Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization that serves older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, has started a “Times Are Tough” fund-raising campaign so that it can continue to serve the community.

Send a tax-deductible donation, no matter how big or small, to SAGE/Milwaukee, 1845 N. Farwell Ave., Suite 220, Milwaukee, WI 53202. For more information about the organization, go to www.sagemilwaukee.org.


Blog of the Week
Pundit Nation (punditnation.blogspot.com)
Summerfest, Army Recruiters Try to Put a Smiley Face on War

Apparently not content to be just the world’s biggest music festival, officials at Summerfest are hosting a military recruiting exhibit called Virtual Army Experience, an incredibly violent interactive “game” in which participants shoot at people displayed on a life-size computer screen while standing on a real Humvee equipped with machine guns.

If Virtual Army Experience was a game sold in stores, it would almost certainly get a “Mature” rating [which limits sales to those over the age of 17]. As it happens, you only have to be 13 years old to get a chance to play the Army’s version of Grand Theft Auto: Baghdad at Summerfest this year. […] Milwaukee is a city struggling with violent crime, yet, as Peace Action Wisconsin is pointing out, Summerfest and the U.S. Army are collaborating on an exhibit that encourages visitors to practice shooting people. […] Summerfest officials probably won’t want to admit they’ve done anything wrong, but they should do the right thing and shut this exhibit down. (To read more local blogs, go to blognetwork.expressmilwaukee.com.)


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“I suspect there’s something going on, but I don’t know what to believe. [Vice President Dick] Cheney has always wanted to go after Iran, and if he had more time he’d find a way to do it.” —Wisconsin Congressman David Obey, in this week’s New Yorker, on the Bush administration’s clandestine military activities