Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The NRA is King

In the last week, we learned that, not only is the NRA powerful and well-funded, but that they can affect national legislation by carving out exemptions for themselves and get away with it. Or at least they thought they got away with it until some in the media figured out what was going on. This article from the Huffington Post exposes the truth about "sausage making" once again. It's ugly. When there is no light shown on the process, we don't know the difference. But when the public finds out that it has been taken for granted and taken for a ride into "Never Never Land", it reacts. Such is the case for allowing the NRA an exemption in the DISCLOSE Act, or the new version of Campaign Finance Reform.

The Democrats and President Obama are trying to fix the recent Supreme Court decision that came down last spring which will allow large corporations to contribute to campaigns, as if they are individuals, without disclosure and to sponsor campaign ads without attributing names. Of course, the NRA was against having to disclose its' 5 largest donors and add a tag to ads to say who is responsible for ads. The carve out that the Democratic leadership came up with, though they say otherwise, only applied to the NRA because of the fact that it is the actual largest lobbying group in the country with over 1 million members. The Brady Campaign and other unlikely partners ( The Second Amendment Foundation) reared their heads and managed to temporarily scuttle this idea.

So cynicism reigns in D.C. On my recent visit to "The Hill", I mentioned to the staffers of 4 from the Minnesota delegation that people are cynical because of the very carve out mentioned above. When the perception is that some corporations and organizations/lobby groups get to call the shots, it just doesn't sit right. I also mentioned that this is the reason so many in this country are ready to throw out the incumbents. The way of doing business in our nation's Capitol has become too far removed from the ordinary citizens who elected officials say they are representing. In reality, they are representing the ones with the money and, of course, the ones with the guns. As Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and CEO of the NRA famously said, "The guys with the guns make the rules". This, as it turns out, is way too true.

Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, the Star Tribune did a series of articles about a gun runner from Southern Minnesota who purchased many guns from dealers in Owatonna and Albert Lea, Minnesota. Part 1 is highlighted above. I will write more about this in a later blog but these articles certainly reveal the problem with allowing people to buy as many guns as they wish. What does an ordinary law abiding citizen need with so many guns? Luckily for the system and public safety, the gun dealers were suspicious and reported the man to the ATF. The gun guys just hate to hear that the illegal guns in Mexico, responsible now for tens of thousands of deaths, come from the U.S. They argue that they are coming from other countries. They aren't coming from Mexico because of the stringent gun laws there. The ATF has estimated that 90% of the guns traced in Mexico after recovery come from the U.S. And these are not any guns- they are often military grade guns. This is the tip of the iceberg. If the number of guns purchased by a Mexican American citizen, Paul Giovanni de la Rosa, were purchased from unlicensed sellers at gun shows, how many more could be traced? How easy it is for anyone to get military style guns without background checks. There are hundreds of gun shows in the Southern states and thousands of gun dealers along the Mexican border. But these guns came from Minnesota, a seemingly unlikely source.

So there is no question in my mind that we have a serious problem with guns in this country. The NRA maintains vociferously that only criminals have the guns and law abiding citizens have no problems with guns. Every day, that is proven false. And yet, our elected leaders blindly go along with the NRA so as not to make that powerful group angry with them and threaten to cause trouble at election time. Shame on them all for not having the courage and backbone to stand up to the NRA in the interest of common sense and public safety. Too many lives are lost senselessly.

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