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.
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Friday, July 15, 2011

How the gun lobby works

It's simple. They overwhelm elected leaders. They are everywhere and all the time. They park in the offices of elected leaders. They intimidate. They organize. They send e-mails and make phone calls. They usually win. Who is this? The NRA, of course. The gun lobby is very effective. One of the best at what they do. This article about how the gun lobby works in Arizona is pretty much how it works everywhere. I watched it work in Minnesota. Lobbyists and others fly in from Washington DC and other places to do the hard work of making sure there are guns everywhere and for everyone. They work in concert with the local and state gun rights activists who already have carte blanche to be in offices of certain legislators. There is nothing inherently wrong with this sort of activity. It is very effective. The problem from the side of gun control advocates and the general public is that, much like the big and powerful banking and corporate interests in the U.S. Congress, something seems off when this much money and effort is put into measures that actually work against what the majority of people want and against common sense policies that can protect and prevent Americans from senseless shootings.

"The great Mark Twain is credited with quipping, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” If he were around today he might add: “It also passes for gun control policy in the U.S. Congress.”" Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois had the nerve that most in Congress don't by naming what is wrong with Congress's inability or downright refusal to consider common sense gun policy- denial. Even in the face of many mass shootings, the latest of which came very close to taking the life of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; even in the face of our own country so obviously contributing to the carnage in Mexico because of our refusal to pass laws or take measures to stop it; even in the face of 8 children a day dying from gunshot wounds; even in the face of the continual large numbers of Americans who lose their lives to gun injuries every day ( that would be 80), Congress turns the other cheek and pretends these things are not happening. It's too inconvenient to fight the gun lobby. It's too "dangerous" to go against this powerful group who bully and intimidate.

When representing Protect Minnesota, I spent time at the Minnesota Capitol last spring to keep legislators from voting in favor a bad gun policy. I heard a Minnesota Representative say she was afraid to vote against the "Shoot First" bill because of the NRA members in her district who had intimidated her and run ads against her in her election campaign. She won anyway but she was still feeling the sting. What a ridiculous state of affairs. In the end, though, our David vs. Goliath effort against the powerful gun lobby won out and a bad bill was not passed.

And so denial is one way to avoid the problem of too many shootings in the country. Another is an irrational fear of the gun lobby. This new blog from Acting Brady Campaign President Dennis Henigan gets to the core of the problem. He very aptly highlights the new measures proposed by the Obama administration to stop some of the illegal gun trafficking from our own country to Mexico. Read what he says about the problems with the ATF and how their own attempts to deal with the problem turned against them. And this, more importantly, expresses what most people actually think about trying to negotiate with the NRA: "That the Administration has decided to go forward with the new reporting rule in the face of vehement NRA opposition may be a sign that the President has figured out the futility of a strategy of appeasing the gun lobby. In 2012 the NRA will do everything it can to defeat the President and will continue to function as one of the engines driving the Republican Party. Rather than placating the gun lobby, the President should recognize the political benefits he and the Democrats can reap when their opponents march in lockstep with the NRA."


In the end, I have hope that common sense will win this protracted and ridiculous battle with the gun lobby. If President Obama and other legislators start making more noise about passing sensible measures in spite of the push back from the NRA then we may be able to actually prevent gun injuries and deaths and keep families and friends from grieving for loved ones lost to bullets. And just maybe the nation's exceptionalism will not be about being the only civilized country not at war that allows 30,000 people a year to die from bullets. At the end of Henigan's blog, he gives some advice to the President that should be taken seriously- " And when his opponents resist such calls for common sense, he should embrace their resistance as a political gift which will keep on giving in 2012." Good advice, Mr. President. I hope you take it.

33 comments:

  1. In Dennis Henigans Link he mentions shotguns with mounts for grenade-launchers and "to ensure that their available choices in weaponry include shotguns with grenade launchers". I have never seen a shotgun with a grenade launcher I was wondering if you had any access to a picture of such a Shotgun or could with your contacts find one? The other thing I find Odd is Grenade launchers (regulated much like Full auto Machine guns) unless you are a LEO/Military can no longer be imported or manufactured.

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  2. http://www.shotgunworld.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=83872&start=0

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atchisson_Assault_Shotgun

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100125183257AA8kGdq

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  3. I haven't been reading or posting here in a long while... Has there been much mention of the ATF's little gun running operation and the impact that has had on the "statistics" regarding the problems in Mexico?

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  4. First link links to a sellers page at an auction site and does not seem to have said shotgun/grenade launcher listed. I actually found this link when googling and would have posted it it it actually showed a shotgun with a grenade launcher

    Second link is to a full auto shotgun that can not be sold to the public. The military has developed a small grenade to be shot from this but not attached to it.

    Third link is yahoo answers not very credible but still does not help with the shotgun with attached grenade launcher attachment or it actually attached. Also in the answer even though all the links are broken Spikes only sells launchers that can not accept grenades but only flares smoke and some other silly things.

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  5. "It's simple. They overwhelm elected leaders. They are everywhere and all the time. They park in the offices of elected leaders. They intimidate. They organize. They send e-mails and make phone calls. They usually win. Who is this? The NRA, of course."

    No. It's the millions of politically active gun rights supporters who make up the NRA.

    We were here before the NRA got involved in politics; we will be here should the NRA decide to get out of politics.

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  6. The atchisson is a prototype, it's a full auto Aka machine gun, it's been in development for thirty years and it's a "destructive device"'meaning it will never be avaiable to the general public. The ammunition being developed is a grenade type projectile but the LEO and military pricing per
    Shot is roughly a hundred bucks each. It also will never be available to the public and if it were, each round would require an individual tax stamp of two hundred dollars per shot.

    The first link to shotgun world was for an ad in gunbroker for a antique gas gun adapter which would fire a tear gas canister. Yes you could call this a shotgun grenade launcher but ammo is unavailable and it to would fall under a class three license and require a two hundred dollar tax stamp.

    But back to your original premise. It is not the NRA the elected officials are worried, because the NRA can't vote. It's the people who are the members of the NRA who are voting Citizens who scare politicians. This is not a physical fear of harm but rather a fear of being unelected, or fired for going AGAINST the will of the majority.

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  7. I haven't blogged about it but some of the gun guys have mentioned it.

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  8. No, P, it was fear of physical harm for this particular politician. Just as it is sometimes for me from commenters here. I have spoken to more than a few politicians for whom it is fear of actual harm because of actual threats for taking positions against gun legislation. That is what some on your side do which has the intended affect.

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  9. Someone in the gun community threatened a sitting representative and no one has called the FBI?

    That is sickening, call the police immediately, this should never be allowed.......

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. japete said...

    I haven't blogged about it but some of the gun guys have mentioned it.


    I'm confused, was that to me? If so, I'm more confused. As it seems you're touting the solution that has been promoted to a problem ATF largely created, or at best made far worse.

    Setting aside the usual logical fallacies contained herein, need I remind you what happened the last time a national democratic politician took an anti-gun stance? Even Clinton admitted that stance almost certainly cost them heavily in the elections. That being the case, does it not seem likely that the people at large did not in fact support those moves? Do you think that after the tidal wave of CCW and other related cultural changes it would be any more popular today?

    I've asked this before a long time ago (and never got an answer), where is the grassroots of the anti-gun movement? The fact of the matter is, it doesn't exist and never really did. Even if I'm wrong and it did exist, that was more than a decade ago and it certainly doesn't exist today. As jdege said, it isn't the NRA anyone fears but the voters. That fear has to be far more acute these days because they can't easily pull the midnight deals and unpublicized bills they used to do. Could you imagine someone today trying to sneak in the Hughes Amendment like they did in 1986? The Internet would be afire with the news before anyone in Congress had a thought about it.

    These days, when people worry about anti-gun efforts I often remind them that this isn't pre-1994 in many many ways.

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  12. Mrs Peterson, please delete the previous post and place this in its stead, the autocorrect feature jumped up and ate a few words. I thank you.





    And the Police deemed it to be nonsense...

    Every time you assail the NRA as if it were a monolithic beast of power, it is isn't. It's no different than AARP, the Teamsters, the UAW, Education Minnesota or any other large effective lobbying agent. It's the fact that people who make up the association deeply believe that it's worth backing with their dollars and votes.

    You write as though the NRA was some monster being run by the man behind the curtain. It isn't and never has been. If anything the leadership of the NRA is less committed to gun rights than the membership. It took the NRA several years to join up on Heller, and in someways their participation weakened the argument. They were decades behind the carry movement and just as far behind the black rifle movement as well.

    While the NRA can be an effective voice on some issues they are too soft in the minds of many shooters. The Gun Owners of America and the Second Amendment Foundation are much closer ideologically to most gun peoples hearts than the NRA.

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  13. Isn't it interesting, Atrius, that President Obama was elected by a large margin in spite of the NRA spending more money on his opponent and to see that he was not elected than ever before? He was open about his views about reasonable gun laws. He is very likely to be re-elected in spite of your attempts to work against him. That is often the case. The 2000 election was decided by reasons other than gun rights in spite of what a lot of people in the gun rights community believe. Actually, as you may recall, Al Gore won that election but the Supreme Court decided otherwise. Atrius- you all love to believe that those who believe in reasonable gun control are non-existent which is far far from the truth. But if you want to persist with your mythological view of the world, it's O.K. with me. Have a nice day.

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  14. "Isn't it interesting, Atrius, that President Obama was elected by a large margin in spite of the NRA spending more money on his opponent and to see that he was not elected than ever before?"

    Running against John McCain? The NRA tried to spin McCain as pro-gun, but gun owners have long memories. They remember McCain's efforts to ban private sales of firearms, to squash gun owner's first amendment rights, etc.

    The NRA may have been right that Obama was the greater threat to gun rights, but it's no great surprise that they weren't able to convince gun owners of that. History shows that anti-gun republicans can cause far more damage to gun rights than anti-gun democrats.

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  15. Nice "backing and filling" jdege.

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  16. So what was the actual outcome I assume they were investigated they usually take those things seriously. Unfortunately threats are made on both sides. If I remember correctly some union teacher was arrested during the Wisconsin protests.

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  17. I don't remember a teacher being arrested but I'm sure it is possible. I do know that a couple of gun guys were arrested at the state Capitol in Wisconsin for threatening some of the Union folks gathered there.

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  18. Backing and filling?

    No, it's just an example of how the NRA only pretends to lead the gun rights movement. Truth is, nobody can convince gun owners to vote for a candidate who's weak on gun rights - not even the NRA.

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  19. No, P, it was fear of physical harm for this particular politician. Just as it is sometimes for me from commenters here. I have spoken to more than a few politicians for whom it is fear of actual harm because of actual threats for taking positions against gun legislation. That is what some on your side do which has the intended affect.

    Anyone making an actual threat of violence against you, you should expose, either through public humiliation, or through reporting them to the FBI. These people are not on our side, and there is no place for them on my side of this movement. You don't deserve to have to put up with that, and we will help you humiliate these weasels.

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  20. japete said...

    Isn't it interesting, Atrius, that President Obama was elected by a large margin in spite of the NRA spending more money on his opponent and to see that he was not elected than ever before? He was open about his views about reasonable gun laws. He is very likely to be re-elected in spite of your attempts to work against him. That is often the case. The 2000 election was decided by reasons other than gun rights in spite of what a lot of people in the gun rights community believe. Actually, as you may recall, Al Gore won that election but the Supreme Court decided otherwise. Atrius- you all love to believe that those who believe in reasonable gun control are non-existent which is far far from the truth. But if you want to persist with your mythological view of the world, it's O.K. with me. Have a nice day.

    Is it interesting? Not really, no. Obama was elected because of two reasons. He was elected primarily because he "wasn't McCain". The fact is that he gives really good speeches and McCain didn't. Second, he had a really really good PR campaign and a good message to go with all the good speech making. He had a very simple message of "Change" and "I'm not Bush!" against someone uninspiring and easily painted as "Bush II". Obama was likely going to win as soon as McCain somehow got the nomination.

    As to his views on gun control, he may not have hid them totally from view but he didn't get up on the stump and come out with them, did he? It was all kinds of noise about respecting the Second Amendment and fairly frequent reassurances that he wasn't going to go out gun banning, despite his previously stated views on the subject. Sadly, if he gets reelected I fear we all may have more immediate concerns than some highly unlikely gun ban in the form of a totally devastated economy. However, that is outside the scope of this discussion.

    That's all well and good about the 2000 election. However, you and I both know that isn't the election I was speaking of. You're correct that the 2000 election was not decided on gun policy simply because no significant anti-gun laws have been passed since the silliness of the so-called Assault Weapons Ban. I was clearly referring to the 1996 mid-term democratic disaster that turned on, among other things, that silly law. Surely you know you're history better than that Joan, yes?

    I didn't say that anti-gun, or as you say "those who believe in reasonable gun control", people don't exist. They clearly do. What I said is that there is no large scale grassroots support. When the money dries up, most of those "supporters" dry up and blow away in the wind. There are no mass protests in the streets. No large numbers of people showing up at town hall meetings demanding gun bans or "reasonable gun control". That is what I'm saying doesn't exist. What does exist is some indeterminate number of people who do think that gun bans are a good idea and some smaller set of people who are professional gun banners.

    On our side there are damned few people getting paid to do what we do and say what we say. We simply believe it is right and will stand up for it. Why do you think you're outnumbered on your own blog and it seems the only people who read and comment on it are either your opposition or your paid confederates? Don't misunderstand and think I'm saying that all anti-gun people are paid and that the only reason you do what you do is you get paid. I honestly have no idea even if you do get paid. To put it another way, the NRA fills convention centers and the Brady Campaign seems to have a hard time filling a room. Who has the greater support?

    All of the foregoing setting aside the farcical nature of using popular support to determine the validity and scope of a Right. I still say that is an inherently bad idea and no one would like where that logic leads.

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  21. I believe she was initially released by the fine Madison cops. She was however eventually charged.

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2011/03/breaking-wi-teacher-charged-with-sending-death-threats-to-gop-lawmakers/

    I am not surprised that you did not hear about it. For some reason it was covered up or at least given back burner status by the media.

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2011/03/breaking-wi-teacher-charged-with-sending-death-threats-to-gop-lawmakers/

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  22. Sebastian- I have put their "names" and cities from which they post on my comment section and asked them to stop posting. In some cases it has stopped some of the comments. But then someone new gets on my blog and thinks they can say anything. If you look at the comments on any gun control blog or article you will find near threatening remarks. I have spoken with my own sheriff to get advice on what to do and I follow his advice.

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  23. One needs only to look at the salaries of the NRA President and executives to know where the money is. It is not with the Brady Campaign, unfortunately. Very few people are paid on the gun control side to do what they do unfortunately. There is a lot of support for my side of this issue as poll after poll after poll show. But you guys have a lot of passion and hide behind the Second Amendment right to scare politicians many of whom have not figured out that they can speak up for common sense and still win elections. NRA endorsed candidates lose elections as well. Does that have anything to do with their stands on the 2nd amendment? Hard to tell. Maybe.

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  24. No, anon, I had not heard about that arrest. Those e-mails were reprehensible and inexcusable. Shall we go "tit for tat"? Here is an article about the gun rights activists in Wisconsin who went after the protesters-http://www.progressive.org/kemble062111.html

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  25. Shall we go "tit for tat"?

    I think you miss my point but if you want I can post more threatening action by the Madison protesters. Just let me know :-/ I also think that action like that is inexcusable and uncalled for and from the sounds of it criminal and I hope they are charged!

    I guess I will ask one more time then let it be. What was the outcome of the representative that felt threatened?

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  26. She reported the threats to L.E. I don't know more specifically what happened after that.

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  27. "One needs only to look at the salaries of the NRA President and executives to know where the money is"

    The President of the NRA (along with the elected vice presidents) are unpaid volunteers.

    This information is in the public record since the NRA is a non-profit organization.

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  28. Sorry- I meant to say the Executive Director at the NRA and other paid executives. The Board of most non profits serve for no pay.

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  29. Joan,
    You're right. If money is support, and given NRA gets most of its money from the membership it would seem to be, then that is where the active passionate support is. We don't hide behind the Second Amendment anymore than free speech advocates hide behind the First. We state we won't vote for, and will vote against, people who will not respect our rights. How is that any different than any other group? I'd expect gay people, minorities or anyone who feel they're rights are not being respected to do exactly the same.

    Unless a candidate is from a pretty safe "blue" seat they can't regularly say "gun control is awesome!" as that will tend to get them voted out. Does it every time? No. For large numbers of people there are more important issues and in any given election those issues can outweigh this issue. However, excluding the safe "blue" seats very few politicians could campaign on a hard core or even soft core gun ban platform and be elected. Why is that do you think?

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  30. "Very few people are paid on the gun control side to do what they do unfortunately. There is a lot of support for my side of this issue as poll after poll after poll show."

    Yet, if you look at the financials, the grassroots support doesn't seem to exist. Most of the gun control funding seems to be coming from the Joyce Foundation.

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  31. It's interesting that you think there is no grass roots support. You would be wrong.

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  32. "I meant to say the Executive Director at the NRA"

    Who's that?
    b

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