During the debate on H.R. 822 yesterday, there were the usual NRA talking points, hyperbole and fear. From this article by Gail Collins of the New York Times:
Anyway, the National Rifle Association will be giving everybody a grade before they run for re-election. Screw around with this bill. and you could be looking at a B-minus.
There is a distinct cultural rift in this country between the people who feel safest when there are as few guns on the street as possible and the ones who believe that they aren’t secure unless they have a loaded gun around to protect themselves against evildoers. “As millions of American families can attest, there is no greater threat to our families than — the ability to protect,” said Representative Renee Ellmers, a Republican of North Carolina, flung into incoherence by the drama of the moment. What she pretty clearly meant to say was there was no greater threat than a crazed, knife-wielding zombie breaking through the doors of an unarmed household and trying to carry off the baby.There were a lot of claims about concealed carry permit holders and the inconvenience of not being able to carry their guns into every state in the nation. I'll tell them about inconvenience. My family was inconvenienced when we had to plan a funeral for my sister, shot to death on an August day. The inconvenience of sneaking to the back of the church in a rented bus to avoid the press shouldn't have to be, but it was. It was inconvenient to watch my mother deal with the death of her first born child. It was inconvenient to watch my own children deal with the awful death of their favorite aunt. It was inconvenient to watch my sister's grown kids and step children deal with each other and with their grief. So really, I just don't feel sorry for these guys who can't carry their guns everywhere they go. Do they care about victims? Are their gun rights more important than the public's right to be safe from shootings of family members or friends? Are their rights to carry their guns more important than jobs, health care, housing, and other pressing needs? I believe that most Americans know the answer to this.
But Senator Chuck Grassely, Republican of Iowa, doesn't know. His rudeness, inappropriate comments and utter disrespect of victims of gun violence at the hearing two days ago in the Senate Crime sub committee hearing of the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 was stunning. From Talking Points Memo we learn that some of the victims were so upset by Grassley's rude behavior that they sent him a letter:
Good for them. Someone has to call out the insensitive behavior of some of our Congress members who are so wrapped up in witch hunts and the NRA's unsupportable rhetoric that they have totally forgotten why they are sitting in that raised chair. The purpose of the hearing had absolutely nothing to do with the ATF's Fast and Furious program. But angry and rude Senator Grassley, as you see in the video couldn't stop himself. He owes them an apology.The eleven survivors and family members of victims of the attack told Grassley that it was “inappropriate” for him to turn the hearing into a forum to ask questions about an unrelated inquiry.“We were not there to discuss Fast and Furious. The other witnesses were not there to discuss Fast and Furious. Our experiences have nothing to do with Fast and Furious. But you did not seem to care,” they wrote.“Rather than dealing with the subject of the hearing — how the background check system can be improved to spare other families the pain that we have suffered — you chose to employ a tactic of callous, cold and calculated distraction,” they continued.“Senator, were you listening when Patricia told you about Dorothy Morris, Dorwan Stoddard, Phyllis Schneck, the Honorable John Roll of the United States District Court of Arizona, Gabe Zimmerman or Christina-Taylor Green? Nothing you had to say indicated you were. The fact that you were focused on your Blackberry during much of Patricia’s testimony suggests you weren’t.”The group ends the letter by asking Grassley to apologize to the members of the group who “lost loved ones in Tucson, and made the effort to come to Washington yesterday, but heard nothing of use from you.”
From Media Matters, Political Correction we learn that Senator Grassley had his own agenda at the hearing having nothing to do with background checks. Watch and listen to Grassley as he launches into his own political agenda without even acknowledging the victims in the room:
Further Grassley badgered the FBI representative who was there to talk about missing names of mentally adjudicated people from the NICS system- something we should all be concerned about and most certainly should a U.S. Senator be. Senator Grassley was not.
Sometimes the gun rights extremists actually threaten people who don't agree with them. Don't mess with Ohio gun rights extremists as this reporter did when he published the names of carry concealed permit holders.
Those at the top of the gun rights groups are not immune to rudeness and even veiled threats. You can read about the activities and comments of NRA Board members on Meet the NRA, a website that keeps track of some of the unsavory characters who sit on the board. Take, for example, NRA Board member Joe Printz:The reaction was fast and furious. "I was getting phone calls from all over the country, hundreds of phone calls," Westerhold says. "There were so many nut jobs. There were so many threats: 'I am going to kill you' and 'You should die slowly'."Then the Buckeye Firearms Association got involved, Westerhold says, "in a very pro-active way." Using public records, the group posted on its website Westerhold's auto records, a traffic citation, a partial Social Security number, an address for property he owned, and details about his divorce and ex-wife. It also included information on how one might find out which public school Westerhold's 12-year-old daughter attended, which bus she took there, and how a photo of the girl from her school yearbook could probably be found in the local library.
In September 2011, Printz posted a photo for his Facebook profile picture that depicts the barrel of a revolver facing the viewer. The caption on the image reads: "Liberals: This is the only view you need to see."Is that what this is all about? Some folks apparently cannot disagree with the views of gun rights extremists or else. Why do these folks get away with this behavior? I believe our elected leaders have let themselves be fooled, bullied and threatened and have been afraid to stand up for what is right. I believe we should expect our members of Congress to treat their constituents and people affected by their policies with respect and common decency. I believe that it's time for more Americans to stand up to the bullying and rude behavior on exhibit every day in our national discourse. The victims attending a hearing on fixing our gun background check system so that fewer people might be shot in this country did just that a few days ago.