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GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip April 18, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Gun Control/Violence.
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http://www.nytimes.com/


April 17, 2013

WASHINGTON

SENATORS say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

People have told me that I’m courageous, but I have seen greater courage. Gabe Zimmerman, my friend and staff member in whose honor we dedicated a room in the United States Capitol this week, saw me shot in the head and saw the shooter turn his gunfire on others. Gabe ran toward me as I lay bleeding. Toward gunfire. And then the gunman shot him, and then Gabe died. His body lay on the pavement in front of the Safeway for hours.

I have thought a lot about why Gabe ran toward me when he could have run away. Service was part of his life, but it was also his job. The senators who voted against background checks for online and gun-show sales, and those who voted against checks to screen out would-be gun buyers with mental illness, failed to do their job.

They looked at these most benign and practical of solutions, offered by moderates from each party, and then they looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby — and brought shame on themselves and our government itself by choosing to do nothing.

They will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done — trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you — but their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest. I say misplaced, because to preserve their dignity and their legacy, they should have heeded the voices of their constituents. They should have honored the legacy of the thousands of victims of gun violence and their families, who have begged for action, not because it would bring their loved ones back, but so that others might be spared their agony.

This defeat is only the latest chapter of what I’ve always known would be a long, hard haul. Our democracy’s history is littered with names we neither remember nor celebrate — people who stood in the way of progress while protecting the powerful. On Wednesday, a number of senators voted to join that list.

Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress, one that puts communities’ interests ahead of the gun lobby’s. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.

Gabrielle Giffords, a Democratic representative from Arizona from 2007 to 2012, is a founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, which focuses on gun violence.

Why Newtown victim Noah Pozner had an open coffin February 1, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Gun Control/Violence.
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If Americans knew what bullets did to human flesh, they would support gun control.
noah_pozner.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox

Family photo / AP

Noah Pozner, 6: “There was no mouth left,” his mother said. “His jaw was blown away.”

By: Columnist, Published on Tue Jan 22 2013

If Americans knew what bullets did to human flesh, they’d support gun control. So perhaps they should be shown in living colour what bullets do to small bodies. A mere description is insufficient for the literal-minded.

Noah Pozner, 6, was one of the 20 child victims in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14. All the dead were shot between three and 11 times. Tiny Noah took 11 bullets. His mother, Veronique, insisted on an open coffin, Naomi Zeveloff reported in the Jewish Daily Forward.

You’ll probably remember Noah. He was a happy little guy with beautiful heavily lashed eyes and a cheerful smile. In his coffin, there was a cloth placed over the lower part of his face.

“There was no mouth left,” his mother told the Forward. “His jaw was blown away.”

She put a stone in his right hand, a “clear plastic rock with a white angel inside.” She wanted to put a matching stone in his left hand but he had no left hand to speak of.

Parents of the dead children were advised to identify them from photographs, such was the carnage. But every parent reacts differently. Veronique Pozner did the most difficult thing. She asked to see the body. Zeveloff asked her why.

“I owed it to him as his mother, the good, the bad and the ugly,” she said. “. . . And as a little boy, you have to go in the ground. If I am going to shut my eyes to that I am not his mother. I had to bear it. I had to do it.”

When the governor of Connecticut arrived, she brought him to see Noah in the open casket. “If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I needed it to be real for him.” The governor wept.

Death by gun isn’t real to us because we see it only in the movies. We occasionally see photos of human beings as meat, but they are almost always meat belonging to non-white foreigners after a bombing.

Those grieving often don’t share an editor’s delicate sensibilities. Jackie Kennedy, on Air Force One after JFK was shot on Nov. 22, 1963, was asked to change her clothes because the sight of JFK’s blood and brains was upsetting people. She cleaned her face and discarded her pillbox hat, but kept the bloodstained suit on. “Let them see what they’ve done,” she said. Mass shootings had not yet begun.

And what about the case of Emmett Till? Online Reddit readers commented on one obvious link with Noah.

Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago, was hideously murdered in 1955 while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Allegedly, he had whistled at a white woman. Till was kidnapped, beaten, had one of his eyes gouged out, was shot in the head and his corpse tied with barbed wire to a 70-pound weight and dumped in a river.

His mother asked for an open coffin. “I want the world to see what they did to my baby,” she said.

The photo was reproduced and Till’s death became a huge news story. Three months later, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus and the civil rights movement took a leap forward.

In these three cases, we see the difference between “telling” and “showing,” an old concept in literary criticism. Novelists can “show” events and let the reader draw their own conclusions or they can “tell” the reader the plot as it unfolds.

But the literary critic Wayne Booth came up with the concept of the “unreliable narrator.” Can you trust what you are being told? Reporters can tell you that 20 children were shot. But since American gun owners think reporters are unreliable narrators in the first place, perhaps they have to be shown what one man did to Noah because he had, not just one bullet, but a magazine of bullets.

We saw JFK’s skull fly apart. Emmett’s unrecognizable face was on show.

And that’s why Noah’s mother asked the governor to come and see her child’s corpse. He had already been told. He had to see it for himself.

 

Nancy Lanza Was an NRA Pawn December 23, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Gun Control/Violence.
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Roger’s note: Guess what , folks.  It’s not about rights, it’s not about protection, it’s not about the second amendment; IT’S ABOUT MONEY.  Whatever can be sold for profit will always take precedence over living human lives, men, women or children.  Think of that the next time you are tempted to argue that capitalism can be “reformed.”

By (about the author)
OpEdNews Op Eds 12/21/2012 at 22:23:51

(original art: John Cory/RSN) (original art: John Cory/RSN)
The NRA broke its silence after the murders in Newtown by saying, “The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters …” True, but they are the pawns.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is not spending millions of dollars per year to protect gun rights as much as it is protecting gun sales. Arms dealing, that’s where the money is. And that’s what justifies the length the NRA lobbyists go to, both at the federal and state level. The NRA has helped protect the questionable right of Americans to own firearms, but they have also helped to transform the United States into the most lucrative personal arms market in the world.

Arms dealing in America only differs from drug dealing in three significant ways: it’s more profitable, it’s more lethal and it’s legal. Guns, like crack cocaine, enter communities and have the same if not more destructive effect. Everyone has heard about the murders of 20 kindergarten children and six school administrators in Newtown, Connecticut. Who has heard about the year of death and pain in Chicago, or Oakland, California? Liz Goodwin reports for Yahoo, “Death by firearms are on track to surpass automobile related deaths by 2015 … Every day, 85 Americans are shot dead … 774 people were killed between 2006 and 2010 by a mass killer.”

There was no good reason that Nancy Lanza needed military-grade firearms in her home. She was taken in by NRA hype. “Guns are your right; buy guns.” … “They are making laws that are too restrictive in terms of what kind of guns, clips and ammunition you can buy, be free, buy what they don’t want you to buy.” … “They are coming to take your guns away, buy more.” She – bought – into it, lock, stock and barrel. All of this — all of it — plays to the NRA’s bottom line. Now, as in the aftermath of every mass killing, gun sales are soaring, profits spiking.

To the arms dealers, the people who get hurt are an acceptable if unfortunate consequence. They react no differently than the tobacco industry, they regret but they don’t stop. These are international arms dealers; it’s a rough crowd. It’s no different than Afghanistan or the Congo or Colombia to the flow of cash, money doesn’t care. Move the weapons.

A visceral reaction to the horrific events in Newtown is driving this dialog, but it isn’t just Newtown, it’s Everytown across America. If Americans were limited to hunting rifles and revolvers they would survive … literally. Profits would be down, but who cares about that?

http://www.readersupportednews.org

Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News: http://www.readersupportednews.org           
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Gun Lobby Speaks: We Need More Guns, Especially in Schools December 19, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Gun Control/Violence.
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Published on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

Gun Lobby Speaks: We Need More Guns, Especially in Schools

The NRA, its affiliates and the lawmakers it supports did not stay silent for too long. Now, the familiar arguments and strategies to defang a national push for stronger gun regulations

  – Jon Queally, staff writer

As a nation mourns and as funerals continue for the child victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week, gun industry lobbyists and their political affiliates are emerging from ‘the rock they’ve been hiding under‘ since Friday to deliver their solution to the country’s ongoing gun violence epidemic.

The Newtown school shootings have sparked renewed calls for gun control. (Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA)

Their message, in short: more guns. Especially in schools.

On Tuesday, a bill was introduced in the South Carolina legislature that would permit school teachers to carry loaded firearms in their classrooms.

The bill, introduced by state Rep. Phillip Lowe (R-Florence), would demand that a teacher wanting to have a gun in the classroom would have to meet a set of criteria, but would only allow school officials to deny the request “upon a finding of just cause.”

According to the Charlotte Observer, one fellow lawmaker called the bill “idiotic” but the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Greg Delleney (R-Chester), said he would give the bill a hearing.

Governor of Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell, also joined the ‘more guns in schools’ chorus by telling constinuents in his state that he would consider such a law for his state.

“I think there should at least be a discussion of that,” McDonnell said during a public Q&A Tuesday. “If people were armed, not just a police officer, but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would be an opportunity to stop aggressors trying to come into the school, so I think that’s a reasonable discussion that ought to be had.”

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association broke its media silence late Tuesday evening and issued a statement promising “to offer meaningful contributions” to a national dialogue and make efforts to “make sure this never happens again.”

The NRA’s statement was met with immediate scorn by many.

As a post by New York Magazine‘s Joe Coscarelli points out, “It took the NRA four days to come up with ‘Shocked, Saddened, and Heartbroken’”?

Commenting on the group’s announcement for a “major” conference on Friday to expand on what their “contributions” to solving the nation’s culture of violence and mass murder would be, Coscarelli commented derisively: “That should be something.”

And, as gun policy expert Kristin Goss told CNN, the NRA’s strategy is a signature part of the organization’s playbook after an incident such as the massacre at Sandy Hook.

“The typical pattern is something horrific happens. There is a national outcry, mourning. People call for a national conversation on gun control. Gun rights proponents lay low,” Goss said. “They’re used to seeing this cycle express condolences and hope the attention will shift to a new issue.”

CNN adds:

When the NRA does speak in detail, it will do so forcefully and with the type of political sway and heft the pro-gun lobby has carefully amassed over dozens of election cycles, experts say.

“When the emotions come down, I’m sure you’ll hear the NRA address this issue. It’ll be in January when legislation is introduced. They’ll testify at hearings. You’ll hear the same kind of arguments that I’d come up with,” said Richard Feldman, who served as regional political director for the NRA during its rise to power in the 1980s and is president of a gun rights group, the Independent Firearm Owners Association.

When that happens, the group will wield the full power of its millions of members and leverage the $17 million it spent in federal races this year helping elect candidates who it considers supporters of the NRA’s mission, said policy experts.

For his part, Larry Pratt, executive director for Gun Owners of America, appeared on Piers Morgan’s evening show to hash out the familiar arguments of the pro-gun lobby, including arming teachers to make schools “more safe”:

 Comments   

 

  • Grant Schreiber

    Clearly, anyone who has guns for “protection” is a cringing sissy afraid of every shadow.  The entire carrying of a concealed weapon is for people who are too spooked to be anywhere outside of their homes.  Only a wimp needs a gun to feel safe.  And that’s the message we need to hammer out:  Guns are for weaklings.  Real Americans don’t live in fear of their neighbors.

  • John A Randolph

    Ban the NRA’s (and all corporate interest groups’) lobbying powers.

    Get the gun powder out of government!

  • WJM51

    Pinheaded morons. Guns will make everything just WONDERFUL for everyone, won’t they? And so MORE guns will just make sure that no one is ever killed again by one, right?

    It’s time to get over this nonsense. Guns are not the answer, and NO ONE needs a freaking assault weapon in a civilized society. Their ONLY purpose is to kill as many as possible in as short a time as possible. NO ONE needs that in society, and you can’t have a society if those are allowed. We are living proof of that right now.

    We’ve been letting our politicians and our “leaders” play divide and conquer on us for a generation, now, and this is the end result. We let them arm us like we are still the wild west (where most guns were actually used to beat someone with, bullets were expensive), and then wonder why people shoot each other rather than discuss things. Our government is totally dysfunctional, and they expect us NOT to see that. Our KIDS see that. Seems the only ones who don’t are the politicians and pundits.

    To hell with the NRA. Wayne LaPierre is a 100% insane nut case for an industry that is destroying this country, and we are foolish enough to let them. We have more than enough guns, we could shut down the whole industry and no one would notice for decades, there are more than enough used ones around. I’m all for melting them ALL down, personally, but that’s just me.

  • rudyspeaks

    In the last several days a number of posts have appeared citing instances of people using guns to protect themselves against crime. Frankly, some seem of questionable authenticity, but, some are probably true. Based on these accounts several pro-gun spokespeople have suggested bluntly that arming more citizens is the answer to gun violence. Pay attention, though, to the slew of shootings that no one defends as authentic “protection”, e.g. (just recently) 3 shot/1 dead in an Alabama hospital, 5 dead in Colorado, a guy shot in a pizza shop over an overdue pizza, a roommate dispute with 1 dead in Fla., a killing over loud music in N.C. There is no question that this is the result (it is, after all, what happened, y’kinow, reality) of the present level of an armed citizenry. And, to get the “benefits’ we’re promised will come of universal carry permits, even MORE people would have to be armed, meaning more of these lethal escalations. Does this strike anyone as a reasonable, or even sane, solution?

  • Gubdeb

    “Save Our Children”? Really? Save Our Children? How many countless children have been sent or are being sent off today to die for these sons-of-bitches in Washington? And for nothing. The citizenry needs the same firepower as these goons in D.C. have. Some will argue the founders didn’t know the firepower guns of the future would have, true, but neither did they know how absolutely evil, sinister, and all powerful our government could become. Again, never cared for guns or savored over them. But I think it may be time to own one now.

    Btw, I happen to see the Piers Morgan interview last night. No fan of either guy, but Morgan was reduced to calling his guest “stupid”. Really? Stupid? That’s the best

Clearly, anyone who has guns for “protection” is a cringing sissy afraid of every shadow.  The entire carrying of a concealed weapon is for people who are too spooked to be anywhere outside of their homes.  Only a wimp needs a gun to feel safe.  And that’s the message we need to hammer out:  Guns are for weaklings.  Real Americans don’t live in fear of their neighbors.
  • Avatar
    John A Randolphan hour ago

    Ban the NRA’s (and all corporate interest groups’) lobbying powers.

    Get the gun powder out of government!

  • Pinheaded morons. Guns will make everything just WONDERFUL for everyone, won’t they? And so MORE guns will just make sure that no one is ever killed again by one, right?

    It’s time to get over this nonsense. Guns are not the answer, and NO ONE needs a freaking assault weapon in a civilized society. Their ONLY purpose is to kill as many as possible in as short a time as possible. NO ONE needs that in society, and you can’t have a society if those are allowed. We are living proof of that right now.

    We’ve been letting our politicians and our “leaders” play divide and conquer on us for a generation, now, and this is the end result. We let them arm us like we are still the wild west (where most guns were actually used to beat someone with, bullets were expensive), and then wonder why people shoot each other rather than discuss things. Our government is totally dysfunctional, and they expect us NOT to see that. Our KIDS see that. Seems the only ones who don’t are the politicians and pundits.

    To hell with the NRA. Wayne LaPierre is a 100% insane nut case for an industry that is destroying this country, and we are foolish enough to let them. We have more than enough guns, we could shut down the whole industry and no one would notice for decades, there are more than enough used ones around. I’m all for melting them ALL down, personally, but that’s just me.

  • In the last several days a number of posts have appeared citing instances of people using guns to protect themselves against crime. Frankly, some seem of questionable authenticity, but, some are probably true. Based on these accounts several pro-gun spokespeople have suggested bluntly that arming more citizens is the answer to gun violence. Pay attention, though, to the slew of shootings that no one defends as authentic “protection”, e.g. (just recently) 3 shot/1 dead in an Alabama hospital, 5 dead in Colorado, a guy shot in a pizza shop over an overdue pizza, a roommate dispute with 1 dead in Fla., a killing over loud music in N.C. There is no question that this is the result (it is, after all, what happened, y’kinow, reality) of the present level of an armed citizenry. And, to get the “benefits’ we’re promised will come of universal carry permits, even MORE people would have to be armed, meaning more of these lethal escalations. Does this strike anyone as a reasonable, or even sane, solution?

      • Save Our Children”? Really? Save Our Children? How many countless children have been sent or are being sent off today to die for these sons-of-bitches in Washington? And for nothing. The citizenry needs the same firepower as these goons in D.C. have. Some will argue the founders didn’t know the firepower guns of the future would have, true, but neither did they know how absolutely evil, sinister, and all powerful our government could become. Again, never cared for guns or savored over them. But I think it may be time to own one now.

    Btw, I happen to see the Piers Morgan interview last night. No fan of either guy, but Morgan was reduced to calling his guest “stupid”. Really? Stupid? That’s the best the man could do?

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What’s Wrong With Us December 16, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Gun Control/Violence.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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12.16.12 – 1:25 AM

by Abby Zimet, http://www.commondreams.org

 

guns_ad_screen-shot-2012-12-15-at-12_53_09-pm

 

Here’s a South Carolina newspaper’s coverage of the massacre at Sandy Hook alongside a huge ad for Christmas deals on Smith & Wesson handguns and assault rifles. They later issued an apology for the “unfortunate juxtaposition.” That doesn’t begin to cover it – nothing says celebrating the birth of baby Jesus like an AR-15 assault rifle – but okay. In response, chilling editorial cartoons, and, below, the most succinct reasons ever why this is wrong, and cannot stand.

 

CHARLOTTE BACON, 6
DANIEL BARDEN, 7
RACHEL DAVINO, 29
OLIVIA ENGEL, 6
JOSEPHINE GAY, 7
ANA G. MARQUEZ-GREENE, 6
DYLAN HOCKLEY, 6
DAWN HOCHSPRUNG, 47
MADELEINE F. HSU, 6
CATHERINE V. HUBBARD, 6
CHASE KOWALSKI, 7
JESSE LEWIS, 6
JAMES MATTIOLI, 6
GRACE MCDONNELL, 7
ANNE MARIE MURPHY, 52
EMILIE PARKER, 6
JACK PINTO, 6
NOAH POZNER, 6
CAROLINE PREVIDI, 6
JESSICA REKOS, 6
AVIELLE RICHMAN, 6
LAUREN ROUSSEAU, 30
MARY SHERLACH, 56
VICTORIA SOTO, 27
BENJAMIN WHEELER, 6
ALLISON N. WYATT, 6

 

kid_cartoon_25062_thumb

COMMENTS
  • Tamsen Miller

    I must ask why is Santa selling guns? Santa is for children, guns are for adults, so why is Santa selling guns? Santa does not belong on an advertisement for mass killing machines, Santa is supposed to make and deliver toys. what a disconnect. it makes no sense.

  • HenryWallace2012

    Agreed! Tell it.

  • jrp1900

    Tamsen Miller: “Why is Santa selling guns?…It makes no sense.” Of course it makes sense. This is the United States of America, and GUNS R US!

  • HenryWallace2012

    Abby I love irony. But actually quotation marks will help people see you’re being ironic which is very much called for with these gun psychopaths. But “they know not what they do” so said a long haired socialist Jew.

  • jrp1900

    The naming of the victims is always deeply painful. I have great sorrow for the murdered adults. And then all these children–these beautiful young children–lost to the world forever. In that list of names, there might have been some great artists and musicians. Some of these children might have grown up to be doctors, nurses, teachers. One of them might have become a pyschiatrist, who would treat a future “Adam Lanza” and prevent a repeat of the horror we now have before us. I can imagine that among the lost children was a future great veternarian, perhaps a sportstar or two, certainly a few of them would have been political idealists, comitted to improving the world. All the children had it in them to become vibrant teenagers, alive to all sorts of possibility. Many would have become loving and caring parents. And as parents, they would know, as all parents know, that children are the hope of the world. Adam Lanza wanted to hurt the world in the worst way possible, and so it stands to reason (his twisted reason!) that children were the appropriate target.

    The “unfortunate juxtaposition” in the Newspaper says a lot about who “we” really are as a moral culture. American society sentimentalizes children and weeps over their sufferings. But at the same time, the society promotes the most ruthless and amoral values that makes the world a hellish place for “our children.” Look at the number of children in poverty in the USA; look at so many of our schools; look at the way the American empire treats children overseas, and ask yourself if we really are a child-loving society…

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The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Has the Blood of Connecticut Students On His Hands December 15, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Gun Control/Violence.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments
Published on Saturday, December 15, 2012 by Common Dreams

A resume covered in red

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has a 62-page list of mass shootings in America since 2005. It is Wayne LaPierre’s resume.The blood soaked history of mass shooting in the modern era is directly attributable to Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association he represents. (Photo: Reuters)

For the past 21 years, LaPierre has been the National Rifle Association’s executive Vice President and chief political strategist.

It is tempting to say that these shootings—including the most recent one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday—reflect something basically wrong with American culture or the nation’s very soul. But the majority of Americans favor strict gun control laws. No, let’s not burden Americans with collective guilt. The problem is more narrow—and more fixable—than that.

The long list of killings is due in large measure to the political influence of the NRA—and the campaign finance system that allows the gun lobby to exercise so much power. But an outraged and mobilized public can beat the NRA’s clout and pressure Congress to put strong limits on gun sales.

The blood of the 26 victims of the Connecticut shooting, including 20 young children, is on LaPierre’s hands. Of course, LaPierre didn’t pull the trigger, but he’s the NRA’s hit man when it comes to intimidating elected officials to oppose any kind of gun control and the nation’s most vocal advocate of gun owner rights.

There should be special place in hell reserved for LaPierre. He likes to fulminate about gun owners’ rights. But so far he’s has been silent on the nation’s most recent gun massacre.

The NRA not only lobbies on behalf of “stand your ground” laws, but also offers insurance to members to pay for the legal costs of shooting people in “self-defense.” The NRA also defends the right of Americans to carry concealed weapons, including handguns.

Adam Lanza—the 20-year old man who walked into the Connecticut school with two firearms (a Glock and a Sig Saurer) and had another gun (a 223 Bushmaster) in his car—is no doubt deranged. He’s not alone. There are lots of crazy people around. But if we make it easy for them to obtain guns, they are more likely to translate their psychological problems into dangerous and deadly anti-social behavior.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2011 there were 15,953 murders in the United States and 11,101 (30 a day) were caused by firearms. Suicides and unintentional shootings account for another 20,000 deaths by guns each year. Of course, many more people are injured—some seriously and permanently—by gun violence.

The shooting in the Connecticut school was not an isolated incident. We’ve almost become used to a regular diet of gun-toting rampages. The most visible of them—like Columbine, the Virginia Tech killings, the murders in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, and the Arizona shooting that nearly claimed the life of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and left six others dead—stick in our minds, but there are many others. Even more Americans are killed each year in one-on-one shootings.

Until we tame the power of the NRA, we can expect more killings like this.

The NRA has two knee-jerk responses to this. The first is that the Second Amendment gives all Americans the right to possess guns of all kinds—not just hunting rifles but machine guns and semi-automatics. Efforts to restrict gun sales and ownership is, according to the NRA, an assault on our constitutional freedoms.

The second is the cliché that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” To the NRA, gun laws have nothing to do with the epidemic of gun-related killings.

Both of these arguments are bogus, but the NRA has the money and membership (4 million) to translate these idiot ideas into political clout to thwart even reasonable gun-control laws.

Most gun-related deaths are committed by people who purchase their weapons legally. Others purchase or steal them illegally, but their ability to get access to guns is due to our lax laws on gun ownership. LaPierre’s job is to make it easier for people to buy and use guns. And so far he’s been very successful. Since the 1994 assault-weapon ban expired in 2004, Congress hasn’t enacted any major gun regulations.

It is no accident that the United States ranks first in the world—by a wide margin—in gun-related civilian deaths and injuries. Compared with every other democracy, we have the most guns per capita and the weakest gun laws. But the danger isn’t simply the number of guns; it is the type of guns we allow people to legally purchase. Other countries permit hunting rifles. But many Americans believe it is their right to own an assault weapon.

Even in countries with strong gun-control laws, some people will get their hands on a weapon and destroy others’ lives. The tragic killing in Norway last year is testament to this reality. (Although let’s recall that Anders Breivik bought $550 worth of 30-round ammunition clips from an American gun supplier for the rifle he used to kill 69 Norwegian kids at a summer camp. Thanks to American laws, it was a legal online purchase.) But the shooting in Norway was an infrequent occurrence; it is, in fact, one of the safest countries in the world. In contrast, the U.S. is off the charts in terms of murder rates.

In other well-off democratic countries, gun violence is rare and shocking. According to the recent comparative figures, the US had five murders for every 100,000 inhabitants. Finland was next with only 2.3 murders per 100,000 residents, followed by Canada (1.8), Belgium (1.7), France (1.3), England and Australia (both 1.2), Netherlands (1.1), Sweden (1.0), Germany (0.8), Norway (0.6) and Japan and Austria (both 0.5). In other words, America’s murder rate is more than eight times greater than Norway’s.

The news media will spend an inordinate amount of effort trying to figure out what was in Lanza’s head before he put on his protective gear, carried two guns into the Connecticut school, and began his shooting rampage. Although the psychology and motives of the murderer may be fascinating, it should not be the major focus. There are plenty of deranged people in the world, but in most well-off countries they can’t easily get their hands on a firearm.

Here’s where the NRA comes in. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, since 1990, the gun rights lobby, led by the NRA, has contributed $29.2 million to candidates for Congress and the White House, 87% of it to Republicans. In the most recent election cycle, gun rights groups donated $3.1 million to political candidates and spent another $5.5 million in lobbying.

In contrast, since 1990 gun control groups have donated only $1.9 million to politicians, 94% to Democrats. In the most recent election cycle, these groups contributed only $4,000 to candidates and spent only $420,00 on lobbying.

Of course, Democrats are not immune from the NRA’s influence. This summer, 17 House Democrats recently voted in favor of criminal contempt for Attorney General Eric Holder for his oversight of ‘Operation Fast and Furious’. Not surprisingly, each of them received campaign contributions from the NRA in the previous two election cycles.

At the top of the gun rights food-chain is the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. It is hard to know if he’s mentally unstable but he’s certainly crazy like a fox (and Fox News). For example, LaPierre gave a speech earlier this year to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington in which he said that President Obama was part of a “conspiracy to ensure re-election by lulling gun owners to sleep.”

LaPierre added: “All that first term, lip service to gun owners is just part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment during his second term.” He also warned that everything that “gun owners across America have fought to achieve over the past three decades could be lost” if Obama won a second term.

Well, Obama did win a second term. In a statement soon after the Connecticut massacre, Obama called for “meaningful action” to curb gun violence. “Meaningful action” does not mean educating young people about bullying and violence. It does not mean instructing gun owners to be more responsible. It does not mean, as Mike Huckabee suggested on Friday, restoring God in our schools. It means pushing for strong gun control laws.

If Obama does take this kind of leadership, he will have the backing of an overwhelming proportion of Americans who support stricter guns laws. For example, 82% of Americans support limiting the sales of military-style assault weapons. Also, 87% of Americans support background checks on private sales of guns, including sales at gun shows. And 79% support requiring a police permit before the purchase of a gun. A majority of Americans oppose the NRA’s top federal legislative priority—national reciprocity for concealed carry permits—which would allow people to enter any state with a concealed, loaded gun even if they fail to meet local permitting requirements. Not surprising, almost all (94%) police chiefs favor requiring criminal background checks for all handgun sales.

Although the NRA likes to portray itself as representing grassroots gun owners, the bulk of its money comes from gun manufacturers. LaPierre does not speak for America’s gun owners. He is a corporate lobbyist. In fact, a majority of gun owners support stricter gun laws.

Every American grieves for the families and friends of the people killed and injured in the Connecticut shooting. But until we tame the power of the NRA, we can expect more killings like this, as well as the deadly daily diet of murders throughout America committed by angry and in some cases crazy gun-toting people whose “freedom” to own weapons of mass destruction LaPierre defends.

Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and director of the Urban & Environmental Policy program, at Occidental College. His most recent book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (2012, Nation Books). Other books include: Place Matters: Metropolitics for the 21st Century and The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City. He writes regularly for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and American Prospect.

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