Stephen Colbert's segment about a Florida state senator shows us why we can't let people like Senator Gould make the rules. You just can't make stuff like this up. Can you imagine a bill that will be "anything goes" regarding guns? No one will need to be responsible for anything. Gun homicides will apparently now be sanctioned by the state of Florida if this bill passes. And with all the craziness in state legislatures around the country, it will probably pass. God help us all. The country is going nuts. And the guys with the guns are making the rules.
This blog posted in the Huffington Post by Josh Horwitz, Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence fleshes out the recent remarks of NRA Executive V.P. Wayne LaPierre at the CPAC conference. We must pay attention to what the NRA is saying for they are becoming more bellicose in their ideas about when and where private citizens can use their guns for "self protection". On this blog, I have been having a back and forth with the gun guys about what armed citizen militias actually mean. They are telling me that they may need their guns in case an uprising against their duly elected government. Most especially, this has been the thread concerning what just happened in Egypt.
What I found out was that we can't always assume that people see the news in the same way and we can't assume that all agree with the idea of a peaceful uprising to overturn a government. What happened in Egypt was celebrated for the peaceful protests and the legitimacy of that kind of overthrow of a government as opposed to the usually violent changes in power experienced historically. Surely there were some violent actions and hundreds of people died as the Egyptian government fought back in the beginning. There was also some looting and now we learn that a U.S. television reporter was beaten and sexually assaulted by some of the protesters. That is to be condemned. For the most part, however, this event was achieved without a lot of violence. The pro gun folks who write on this blog like to point out the violent incidents to me and then some start down the road of genocides in Rwanda and Camodia which leads inevitably to the ubiquitous comparisons with Nazi Germany. This is for another posting.
Now I want to talk about the things that can't be believed. Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center writes this about what the NRA has actually agreed to but doesn't want to talk about. I guess the can do attitude about working towards a system that actually keeps guns away from people who can't handle them responsibly is a no-no when talking in public. The image of the NRA cannot be tarnished by the truth. For if it is, what's left?
Not to be outdone by Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's Chris Cox, made some comments that strain credulity. I read similar talking points from some of my readers. I would challenge several things that Cox said in the article above. First of all, to think that police officers and private citizens have the same needs for guns and ammo, we must imagine that they are doing the same job and facing the same dangers as each other on a daily basis. Such, of course, is not the case. Private citizens do not have a defensive need for large capacity magazines- they only imagine that they do. What happens in the real world is that when private citizens use these large capacity magazines offensively to kill in mass shootings, they aren't thinking defensively. But the NRA rhetoric after such incidents becomes a self fulfilling prophecy in that they they claim that because a "nut case" opened fire with magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, then they need their own large capacity magazines to defend themselves from the nut cases.
Secondly, it is amusing and disingenuous for Chris Cox to highlight the politicians who receive money from gun violence prevention groups. What? Does he think we don't understand that the NRA is the organization with the money and influence? They are the ones who are contributing vast amounts of money to buy votes in Congress. It is not the Brady Campaign's or the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence or the Violence Policy Center's money that is making a difference. It is plain and simply the money coming from the NRA that is influencing gun policy in this country.
Really folks, it gets more interesting with every passing minute. This bill just passed the Arkansas House of Representatives. So now we will legalize armed citizen militia groups who will "take care of us all" in times of emergencies just like the group did in New Orleans in total contrast to what the the NRA says happened in New Orleans. See Josh Horwitz's article linked above. We can't allow this to happen.
And now in a proposed new measure in Indiana, employers can't stop employees from keeping any kind of gun in their cars in parking lots. An AK 47? No problem? Angry at your boss? - just go to your car and get your gun. Will people be looking for guns in those cars to steal? No problem. Everyone has a right to carry any kind of gun wherever they want. No we can't stop them, I guess.
And no we can't allow gun range owners to do whatever they want when they are located near a residential area. This article about a Massachusetts shooting gun range points out that the noise from machine gun shooting has been bothering their right to have some peace in their neighborhood. But hey, the owner is upset because he doesn't want any restrictions. What's worse is that the owner allows just about anyone to shoot at the range. There is a photo(I could not link to for your viewing pleasure) of a father with an 18 month old baby shooting at this firing range. Really? Come on.The photo is courtesy of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence . You may be able to find it there.
No we can't forget that once upon a time, even reasonable gun owners talked common sense concerning gun laws. This blog by Brady Campaign/Center President Paul Helmke points out the difference between the rhetoric of NRA VP Wayne LaPierre and former President Ronald Reagan. Here are the words of President Reagan: " "We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons," read a letter from Reagan along with former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. "While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals."" In today's political world, such rhetoric would not be allowed to leave the lips of an elected official, particularly a Republican in the position of Ronald Reagan.
No, we can't let the NRA continue their influence on our politics and our politicians. They are not about saving lives and preventing gun injuries and deaths. They are about diverting the argument to other topics to avoid talking about the real problems in this country. Meanwhile, think about what we can accomplish if we work together towards common sense and denounce the tactics used by the influential gun lobby. The NRA is not your average non-profit organization. Their leaders make millions in salary and benefits. Their future depends on making sure we can't pass reasonable gun laws.
Those of us fighting for reasonable gun laws and common sense know that most in the public realize that we can pass reasonable gun laws and still not take away rights or guns. As long as we feel as if we can't, the NRA has won and there will continue to be more victims amongst us. If that is not what you want, speak up and join the "can do "world view. We can do this if we but get involved and speak up loudly. We have to make more noise than the pro gun folks. They are big and intimidating and have lots of people who believe strongly in their cause willing to invest their time and money to keep their world as it is now. Anything we might do differently is a threat to their very being, as I have discovered. But that, too, will be explored in a future post.