Quest for Quality Care

brooklyn-convalescent-home-therapy-roomWhen it becomes necessary to look for nursing home placement for a loved one, the Nursing Home Compare tool on the website is an important starting point for screening facilities. However, it is only a starting point and it has serious shortcomings. It is necessary to do further investigating and review prospective placements.

Effective February 20, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made some changes to Nursing Home Compare. The Quality Measures (QMs) were recalibrated, antipsychotic drug use was factored into the QM star rating, and staffing criteria were changed. These changes made the tool better, but far from excellent.

Three measures are rated: (1) health survey measure, based on unannounced annual surveys and complaint surveys conducted by state survey agencies; (2) staffing, based on self-reported nurse staffing, and (3) QMs, based on resident assessments. The weakness in the rating system is reflected in the high scores prior to the latest round of improvements. Approximately 80% of facilities received four or five stars on their QMs because high scores on the self-reported staffing measure and QMs will inflate a facility’s overall rating. According to The New York Times there was considerable gaming of the rating system. Katie Thomas, “Ratings Allow Nursing Homes To Game System; Medicare’s Five Stars; Data Taken at Face Value Often Fails to Reflect Real Conditions,” The New York Times, page 1 (Aug. 25, 2014),

The new changes include recalibration of the QMs to identify the number of points to achieve different star ratings. CMS claims that the change will raise the standard for skilled-care or long-term care facilities and differentiate the facilities to make the system more accurate. In 2009 only one in ten facilities received five stars and one- through four-star ratings were roughly equal. By 2013, one-star ratings had decreased by approximately 85% and five star ratings had increased from 10% to 35%. This is like a school that consistently awards A grades to 35% of the students. No matter how you slice it, no more than half of any student body can be above average and no more than half of LTCFs should be graded at three stars or better. After recalibration, half of all facilities will still be receiving four or five stars on QMs, which indicates a rigged system.

Four-star staffing ratings are awarded to facilities that score four stars on both the registered nurse component and the staffing category. A facility cannot receive a four-star staffing rating if either of the individual measures is three stars. Staffing had been self-graded by the facilities, which made it an unreliable measure of quality, but CMS has announced that it would require facilities to submit direct-care staffing information electronically.

All this suggests that ratings may not be relied on exclusively in choosing a nursing home. The ratings are very approximate and are based on sporadic inspections by an under-staffed federal agency.

It is necessary for the family to investigate beyond looking at the ratings. This involves visiting facilities, talking to residents’ families and employees, checking reviews on the Internet and consulting a geriatric care manager if the family can afford it.

It is not sufficient to rely on the hospital social work staff. Hospital discharge planners are generally overworked and may be under great pressure to empty hospital beds for new admissions. On Friday afternoons, discharge planners are expected to clear as many beds as possible for weekend admissions. At such times, discharge “planning” often consists of finding the first skilled nursing facility that will take the patient.

Presumably, the Joint Commission provides a standard for discharge planning, but there is almost no way for someone who is not in hospital administration to review the standard and demand that the service be properly delivered. This places the responsibility for finding a good rehabilitation facility or nursing home squarely on the shoulders of the patient’s family and friends.

While visiting skilled care and nursing facilities, try to observe resident-staff interactions, as well as the cleanliness of the facility. Take time to talk to residents and see whether those who appear distressed receive prompt care.

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law includes many guaranteed rights for nursing home residents:

A) The right to be fully informed of available services and the charges for them, facility rules and regulations, including a written copy of resident rights, contact information for the state ombudsman and state survey agency, state survey reports and the nursing home’s plan of correction, advance notice of a change in rooms or roommates, assistance if a sensory impairment exists, and the right to receive information in a language they understand.

B) The right to present grievances without fear of reprisal and with prompt resolution by the facility, to complain to the ombudsman program, to file a complaint with the state survey and certification agency, and to participate in the resident’s own care.

C) The right to receive adequate and appropriate care, to be informed of changes in medical condition, to participate in assessment, care-planning, treatment, and discharge, to refuse medication, chemical and physical restraints, and treatment.

D) The right to private and unrestricted communication with anyone regarding medical, personal, or financial affairs, and to refuse visits.

E) The right to remain in the nursing facility unless a transfer or discharge is for good cause and is preceded by adequate notice and due process.

F) The right to be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity, free of mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion, and physical and chemical restraints, to self-determination and security of possessions, and to visits by the resident’s personal physician, representatives from the state survey agency and ombudsman programs, and by relatives, friends, and others of the residents’ choosing.

hospitalWhen visiting facilities, enquire of the admissions and administration representatives, other visitors, and staff about the facilities’ attention to resident rights. Most facilities allow free access to lobbies and common areas in the facility. It should be possible to talk to a variety of staff, contractors providing services, and other visitors. If the facility restricts access, that may be a sign that the care they provide is substandard.

Almost no one wants to go to a nursing home, but there is a high probability that the patient in skilled care will go to an LTCF at the end of rehabilitation, not home. One of the most important criteria in choosing a rehabilitation or skilled-care facility (SNF) is whether all beds are certified for both Medicare and Medicaid. Many SNFs use up the patient’s highly-profitable Medicare days, then tell the family to search elsewhere for a Medicaid bed. This makes it very difficult to find a preferred placement. Facilities are eager to accept patients who are eligible for the 20 to 100 days of skilled care that Medicare covers, but will turn away persons who rely on Medicaid.

Finding good care is a complex process. Engaging a fee-paid geriatric care manager is worth many times the cost. They can be located through the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers.  An experienced elder law attorney can also be very helpful.

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney

Black Lives Matter, Too

Many of my fellow Whites see “Black Lives Matter” as meaning that police lives do not matter. That is a sad symptom of the sick state of ethnic and race relations in this country. Some who support Black Lives Matter are anti-police, just as some anti-establishment activists shouted “Off the Pigs” during Viet Nam War protests. However, those hostile and vicious thugs were and are a small minority trying to subvert the humanitarian goals of the larger movement. “Black Lives Matter” should be understood to mean, “Black Lives Matter, Too.”

I am incredibly proud of my daughters, who took in pound puppies (not the Tonka toys, but real pound puppies) and loved them until they are now better citizens than many of our high government officials and corporate CEOs. One dog, in particular, spent his first four months as a stray on the streets of Las Vegas. I cannot imagine this dog’s life as a stray in a desert city. How he found enough water to drink, let alone food, is a profound mystery.

Similarly, I cannot imagine the life of a coal miner who markwayne mullinworks grueling hours deep under ground and literally sacrifices his health to support his family. I cannot imagine the life of a farm worker who endures 14-hour days, bent over under a blistering sun, for less pay than a typical American spends on car payments. I cannot imagine the life of a gay or transgendered high school student afraid to enter a bathroom. I cannot imagine the life of an unemployed young Black or Latino in South Los Angeles. And I cannot imagine the life of a pregnant teenager in a state that makes it as difficult as possible to obtain an abortion. All of these lifes matter!

It is a huge and tragic problem that many, if not most, middle-class Whites think that they understand the lives of people who are different from them. They look at an unemployed person and assume that he or she is unemployed by choice. They see a pregnant welfare mother and assume that it is her choice to have another baby or that she does not know how to avoid becoming pregnant. They think the server who delivers their $3.49 Breakfast Special at the local hash house for sub-minimum wages works there by choice.

In truth, the coal minor, the farm worker, the unemployed Black or Latino and the server are all doing the best they can, given their opportunities and skills. Black Lives Matter is not just about Black men being shot by police. It is aimed at the gaping social inequality between the haves and the have-nots. The problem is not oppression of Blacks. It is oppression and denial of opportunity for all citizens who are disadvantaged by substandard education, physical disability, abysmal poverty, and discrimination based on race, gender identity, religion, ethnicity, and disability.

Our national leaders and the media want us to believe that the Black Lives Matter movement – to the extent that it is a movement – is a gaggle of gang members, terrorists and violent anarchists. That is their excuse to dismiss Black Lives Matter as anti-democratic and un-American because they do not want to effect change. They do not want good inner-city and rural schools nor are they willing to invest in the necessary infrastructure to make public transportation a reasonable alternative to private car ownership. They do not want affordable health care for all Americans. They hope to ignore the demands for equal opportunity and fairness and vilify and suppress Black Lives Matter the way they vilify and suppress the Occupy movement.

Black Lives Matter is not anti-police, it is pro-democracy and pro-equality. Instead of attacking Black Lives Matter, like the quasi-military forces of a tyrant cracking down on peaceful demonstrators, local police personnel should support its aims. Police officers are under the thumb of the establishment as much as anyone. They are being laid off and losing health and retirement benefits, just like employees in many fields. Furthermore, municipal police may have fairly good compensation and benefits, but they are vastly outnumbered by motivated and dedicated “security guards” who are forced to accept far lower compensation and minimal benefits.brett guthrie

A generation ago, security guards in state offices were civil servants, with reasonable wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement. Since then, the government has farmed out the responsibility for security in state and federal offices to the lowest-bidding private security companies, ensuring that the men and women securing the safety in government buildings will be paid as little as possible and deprived of even basic employee benefits. The same privatization (employee privation) is happening in every other government or corporate sphere that the plutocrats and autocrats in charge can rationalize. Even highly-trained and educated professionals are being downgraded to the status of casual labor, lacking benefits and the ability to negotiate the conditions of their employment.

Black Lives Matter is not just about Black men shot by police. It is about giving equal opportunity to children and adults who are Black or Latino or Muslim or LGBT, or who have disabilities. It is about ending voter suppression and living up to the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney

Attorney Fee Hazards at Social Security Administration

A colleague posted a question on an elder law listserv about being paid to represent a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipient who lost benefits due to assets in a special needs trust (SNT). The SSI program has a $2,000 asset limit and an SNT is designed to protect excess assets. The question was answered by a very knowing Social Security attorney named Avram Sacks. Avram, former editor of the CCH Social Security Law Reporter, and author of CCH Social Security Explained, has agreed to allow his comments to be posted in this blog. He states as follows:

An elder law attorney has a client who the Social Security Administration (SSA) believes has exceeded the asset limit due to the counting of the assets in an SNT. The client wants him to challenge the Administration’s decision. How can he get paid for his efforts? The Administration has a complicated fee approval mechanism, but can that be avoided?

It was suggested that the attorney could be paid by the SSI recipient’s mother because the trust may not permit the payment of attorney fees from the trust and SSA is not lawyer-friendly and its fee approval process is not quick, “especially in overpayment cases.” The unstated (and incorrect) implication is that if the attorney’s fee contract is with the mother, he can bypass the SSA altogether when charging a fee. That would be playing with fire. An attorney who does that may be writing himself or herself a ticket to jail. I kid you not.

An attorney may not bypass the SSA’s fee authorization process by charging the fee to a third party non-claimant for services in connection with a claim before the Commissioner of Social Security. An attorney who does charge a third party and fails to file a Form SSA-1696 to seek authorization of any fee exposes himself to a fine of $500 and a year in the slammer. See SSA §206(a) (42 USCA § 406(a)) for details.  How so? The text of SSA §206(a), states, in part:

The Commissioner of Social Security may, by rule and regulation, prescribe the maximum fees which may be charged for services performed in connection with any claim before the Commissioner of Social Security under this title, and any agreement in violation of such rules and regulations shall be void.

In other words, the Commissioner’s control over the transaction for services is not dependent on who pays the fee, but rather, on whether the representation is “in connection with a claim before the Commissioner of Social Security.”

Now, the attorney may argue that when representing a claimant on an overpayments case that he or she is not actually representing a claimant in connection with a claim before the Commissioner in that the claim has already been awarded; rather, he or she is merely representing the claimant on an ancillary matter, an overpayment. But, that overpayment is connected to an award based on a claim. An attorney who relies on this argument may go to jail if it is one that neither the Administration nor the courts accept.

Here is a scenario: The attorney charges an hourly rate, say $300 per hour, to handle the matter. The attorney files a request for reconsideration, attends a conference or two, then represents the client in a hearing. After 10 or more hours of work the attorney loses again. The client wants to appeal what the attorney now sees as a losing matter. The attorney advises against appeal, but the client insists. The attorney appeals and loses again. Now client wants to go to federal court, but the attorney says, “enough!”

The attorney asks for payment of the fee, which now is $3,000 to $4,000. The mother doesn’t want to pay more than $1500, and the attorney tries to collect. Meantime, the mother complains to the SSA debt collection people that she can’t pay both the attorney and the overpayment at the same time and the debt collection people ask, “What attorney?” So now, the SSA learns about the illegal agreement that the attorney had with the mother. Guess what happens next?

By the way, several things for an attorney to keep in mind:

1. The SSA’s representation authorization form has a specific check off box to mark if the fee is being paid by a “third party entity” or government agency. While the attorney might have thought that the mother would be a “third-party entity” that is NOT what the SSA has in mind. If the attorney reads further on, under the same paragraph for that check-off box, the attorney will learn that the check off box still applies in the case of a “third-party individual.” The attorney will still have to obtain authorization for any fee that the attorney charges.

2. The attorney should not label the fee contract as a “fee agreement.” Although the SSA uses the words “fee agreement” interchangeably in two separate contexts (POMS GN 03930.005, “Selection of the Fee Petition Process,” indeed, states that one should attach a “fee agreement” to the fee petition and then, in the next breath, states “Do not confuse the fee petition with the attached ‘fee agreement’ with the fee agreement described in POMS GN 03940.000 – Fee Authorization Under the Fee Agreement Process.”), colloquially, everyone understands a “fee agreement” to refer to situations that only involve the “fee agreement process.” The better practice is to identify all fee contracts in an SSA matter as just that – a “fee contract.” That way, no one will be confused.

3. The attorney can be assured of being paid by requiring the mother or anyone else who agrees to take responsibility for the fee to pay a retainer that goes into a client trust account. The retainer should be pegged to cover the maximum fee that SSA might authorize. The attorney will have to file a fee petition and can only take money out of the trust account to be paid if and when the SSA authorizes a fee. Anything in excess of what is authorized goes back to the person who paid the retainer.

4. Where there is a representative payee, the client AND the rep payee should sign a Form SSA-1696 and the fee contract along with whoever actually is liable for the fee. The contract may specify that only the third party is liable for the fee, but having the client sign it ensures that the SSA won’t ask any questions about what the client/claimant might want.

5. With regard to the underlying excess assets problem, according to SSA § 1631(b)(1)(B), there is a 10% limit on the amount of the SSI check that can be withheld to recover overpayment, AFTER the excess assets issue is cured. See POMS SI 02220.016 .

I have set forth some essentials on attorneys’ fees, as related to representation of claimants after initial approval. However, before undertaking such cases, the attorney should read SSA § 206 very carefully, along with the related regs and POMS provisions. “Social Security Disability Practice, by Thomas E. Bush, from James Publishing, also covers this topic very well.


Avram L. Sacks
Attorney at Law
Skokie, IL

A Bureaucratic Absurdity

From time to time, one hears the time to wait for a delivery or answer expressed in “business hours.” What? A nurse recently said, “You will receive the test results in 48 to 72 business hours.” Does this mean two to three days or six to nine days? The latter if one assumes that a “business day” is eight hours. What addle-brained bureaucrat came up with this?bureaucracy-park

If it is an attempt to be more precise, it is horribly misguided. Two to three business days from Thursday is crystal clear. It translates into Monday or Tuesday, unless Friday or Monday is a holiday. If expressed as “48 to 72 business hours,” does that mean two to three days if the business is open 24 hours a day, four to six days if the business is open 12 hours a day, or six to nine days if the business is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m? Why don’t they express the waiting period in a measure of time that is precise and readily understandable, such as Jovian lunar months or mayfly generations?

In terms of sheer silliness, this rivals the pointless 67-page Pennsylvania regulation on real estate transfers described in “Pennsylvania Commonwealth Bureaucracy.” It’s the kind of false precision sprouted in the fever dream of a pencil-necked desk jockey that gives bureaucracy a bad name.

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney

Death of Student-Loan Co-Signer

hail-to-the-victorsStudent loans are a burdensome fact of life for Americans of all ages. Post-secondary education is viewed as necessary for a lucrative occupation, either initially for a high-school graduate deciding on a career or later in life for an experienced worker who finds his or her previous employment choices disappearing. Tragically, the loan bargain many thought would help them escape poverty turns out to plunge them deeper into debt and further foreclose a brighter financial future.

The premise is that achieving educational goals financed through loans will result in income high enough that the loan can easily be paid off and will support a better lifestyle throughout the student’s career. Unfortunately, the recession at the end of the Bush Administration doomed many college graduates to low-wage jobs and years of struggle under the yoke of college debt. Also, for-profit schools like ITT lured hopeful veterans, low-wage and “downsized” workers, and persons with disabilities into training programs for clerical, mechanical and paraprofessional jobs. The jobs that were touted as lucrative and plentiful in the schools’ promotional literature, proved to be neither for those who received their diplomas or certificates. Even more catastrophically, many of these schools, like ITT, have closed their doors on their students. This left those students with nothing but loan debt.

There is a further hazard for student-loan debtors that is largely unknown and generally not explained to loan applicants who have co-signers. The hazard is that the loan may become immediately payable in full if the co-signer declares bankruptcy or dies.

The debtor must report the bankruptcy or death of a co-signer to the creditor. Failure to do so may be a default on the loan.

There are four possible results of co-signer death:

1. There might be no effect. Not all student loans have an acceleration clause triggered by the death of a co-signer.

2. The creditor may hold off on acceleration as long as payments are made as agreed.

3. The creditor may give the debtor the opportunity to apply as a sole debtor, without a co-signer.

4. The creditor may treat the event as a default and demand immediate payment in full.

This last alternative would result in a financial meltdown that could devastate the student-loan debtor. The default in one student loan could trigger defaults in other loans. Despite the lack of any blame on the debtor’s behalf it could take decades for him or her to recover.

A student-loan debtor with a co-signer should review the loan agreements to determine what would happen if the co-signer declared bankruptcy or died. This is particularly urgent if the co-signer does not have substantial net worth or is in declining health.

The debtor should place a high priority on getting a co-signer released from the loan. This may be possible under the following conditions: A) the debtor must be an adult, B) the debtor must have steady employment with good income and good credit, C) at least 12 months have passed since the debtor graduated or received a certificate of completion from the educational institution, and D) the debtor must have promptly made all required payments on the debt for at least 12 months. Different loan servicing agents have different requirements and 12 months of regular payments would be the bare minimum. Procuring a release for the co-signer may be an ordeal, but the project must be begun or it will never be completed.

Unfortunately, a bill to eliminate automatic default on the bankruptcy or death of a co-signer, the Protecting Students From Automatic Default Act of 2014, died in the 113th Congress. The terrible burden of student loans on individual borrowers and society at large is an important issue in the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. Will the attention turn out to be political hot air, or will there be significant reform? Time will tell whether Congress will reverse decades of allowing rapacious financial institutions and for-profit schools to prey on hopeful students. In the meanwhile, student-loan debtors must examine their loan documents and make plans to deal with the pitfalls they find there. Crossing one’s fingers and hoping or praying for the best is not an adequate plan.

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney

Do Not Put Premium Gas in your Chevy Sonic

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently studied gas-buying behavior of U.S. motorists, finding that more than 7% of us (16 million out of approximately 210 million) use premium gas when our cars don’t need it. It has been known for decades that putting premium gas (90+ octane) in cars designed for regular (87+ octane) has no effect on performance, gas mileage, or engine life. Buying premium for a car that doesn’t need it is a serious waste of money, but at the same time motorists save only a few cents per gallon when they do not buy Top Tier gas, which does affect all of the above measures.

It’s tough to be a consumer. From the 19th Century, when quacks sold 100-proof panaceas from medicine wagons, to today, when Big Pharma spends billions convincing us to tell our doctors what prescriptions we need, we have been lied to about everything from drain cleaners to laxatives; from infant formula to hospice services. However, there are two relatively constant rules to guide us: TANSTAAFL (There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch) and PIQ (Price indicates quality).

Merchants do not give away their products. In the Good Ol’ Days, bars offered free lunches to patrons. This was not altruism, but opportunism. Bars made their money selling alcoholic drinks; the lunches were a come-on. Casinos give free drinks to gamblers for the same reason.

There is a fairly close correlation between price and quality. As between two similar products, if Acme’s product sells for a higher price than Excelsior’s, the fact that many consumers see Acme’s product as of superior reliability, appearance, or value retention, indicates that the product probably is of objectively higher value.

The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic RS sedan joins the Sonic line-up in Spring 2014 at a starting MSRP of $19,705. The performance-inspired Sonic RS sedan (left) offers customers the same youthful styling and sporty performance packaging as the hatchback (right).

The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic RS sedan joins the Sonic line-up in Spring 2014 at a starting MSRP of $19,705. The performance-inspired Sonic RS sedan (left) offers customers the same youthful styling and sporty performance packaging as the hatchback (right).

These principles break down when it comes to gasoline grades. “Premium” gas is not better gas. It has a different application. “Regular” gas is as good as premium when used in a car designed to run on lower octane fuel. Part of the problem may be that higher-octane gas is called premium when it is not qualitatively better than regular. If the manufacturer does not specify a higher octane, there is no benefit to spending the extra money for premium, according to John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.

Filling up with premium instead of regular can be quite expensive. While the price differential used to be 10 – 15%, in some regions it can be close to 50%. When it comes to gasoline, ‘premium’ does not mean ‘better’ if your vehicle doesn’t require it,” continued Nielsen. “Drivers looking to upgrade to a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should save their money and select a TOP TIER™ gasoline, not a higher-octane one.” Erin Stepp, “U.S. Drivers Waste $2.1 Billion Annually on Premium Gasoline” (AAA NewsroomSeptember 20, 2016),”

Top Tier retailers include 76, Aloha Petroleum, Amoco, ARCO, Beacon, BP, Break Time, Cenex, Chevron, CITGO, Conoco, Co-op, Costco, CountryMark, Diamond Shamrock, Entec, Esso, Express, Exxon, Holiday, Kwik Star Stores, Kwik Trip, Mahalo, MFA, Mobil, Ohana Fuels, Petro-Canada, Phillips 66, PUMA, QT, Quik Trip, Road Ranger, Shamrock, Shell / Shell V-Power, Sinclair Standard, SuperAmerica, SuperFuels, Tempo, Texaco, Tri-Par, and Valero. Jeff Bartlett, “Study Shows Top Tier Gasoline Worth the Extra Price.”  The latest roster of Top Tier brands may be found on the Top Tier website.

It makes sense to pay a nickel a gallon more for Top Tier gasoline, which protects the engine better than a non-Top Tier product. However, paying a large price differential for premium for a car does not need it is a huge waste.

There is a caveat concerning Top Tier gasoline. According to the Top Tier website, the product is endorsed by eight major auto manufacturers as increasing engine life, gas mileage and performance. This may all be true, but the consumer never really knows.  They could also claim that Top Tier gas reduces the risk of stroke or heart disease and cures hypertension and an ordinary motorist could not prove them wrong.  Still, the relatively small price differential makes the risk that it is just a marketing gimmick acceptable.

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney

Second Amendment Blues

I’m on the south side of Chicago
And I’ve got guns on every side.
When I stroll Madison Street;
I am ready to duck, dive and hide.

LaPierre and the NRA Honkies
Say more guns will keep us unharmed.
I can draw down and shoot back.
So I’m safe as long as I’m armed.

But Tina got caught in a crossfire
When she was about to turn four.
The bullet that killed little André
Came through the apartment front door.

The white folks of Kansas and Utah
Vote by the NRA line.
Their gospel is the Second Amendment
And they think self defense is divine.

They fear having their firearms takenguns
If we elect the wrong party this year.
As if the government could make
four hundred million guns disappear.

They are not in the middle of a gang war.
So they prattle their God-given right.
It’s like their right to stay dry while
We’re outside all the rainy night.

Topeka is not Chicago.
Though we all have a right to be free.
The freedom to carry a gun
In a war zone does not comfort me.

It’s not that we don’t know better.
We want to live well just like you.
Help us stop the river of handguns.
All we need is a statute or two.

Children should not carry pistols
And felons have no right to pack heat.
Suppliers of guns should go down
When their guns cause death on the street.

We track all the transfers of cars.
You must have a license to drive.
With a little more control of our guns
We could keep more children alive.

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney