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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Guns, elections and the democratic process

Readers of my blog understand that elections matter. The NRA has made sure to let people know that their efforts to influence elections have been wildly successful. That is up for question as I have blogged and others have researched. In the 2008 Presidential election, the NRA spent millions to make sure that Barack Obama was not elected. It didn't work.
"One of the biggest losers in the 2008 elections was, undoubtedly, the NRA. The Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Chris Cox, stressed the elections’ importance, saying, “This is arguably the most important year in NRA history.”
Backing up these words, the NRA went “all in” to try to defeat Barack Obama and other supporters of reasonable gun laws. The NRA promised to spend $40 million in the elections, mostly to keep Barack Obama and Joe Biden — “two anti-gun zealots”(2) according to the organization — out of the White House.  The NRA spent millions to tell gun owners that “[t]aken together, Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden constitute the(4) most anti-gun ticket ever to run for the White House”(3) and pose a “clear and present danger”(4) to Second Amendment rights. Yet even after Obama’s “bitter-gate” gaffe gave the NRA some fodder to sow divisions between gun owners and the Democratic ticket, Obama won, and the NRA’s candidates lost, even in the heart of gun country."
And since then, the NRA( most especially its' Executive VP Wayne LaPierre) has been spreading myths and outright lies about the President and his stand on guns. Here is some of the hyperbole and hysteria ( from the video in the link above) promoted by the gun lobby's  LaPierre to get people to vote against President Obama:
And Obama himself is no fool.  So when he got elected, they concocted a scheme to stay away from the gun issue, lull gun owners to sleep, and play us for fools in 2012. Well, gun owners are not fools, and we are not fooled. We see the president's strategy crystal clear: get re-elected, and with no other re-elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom. Erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and exorcise it from the U.S. Constitution. That's their agenda.
That statement is so nonsensical as to beg credulity but I'm sure the gun rights folks believe every word of it though there is no proof or any fact behind the statements made by LaPierre. So this year, the NRA wanted to make doubly sure that President Obama loses. They have pulled out all the stops. I'm sure that people will be happy to know that such big names as Ted Nugent, Chuck Norris and R.Lee Ermey have been employed for the 2012 NRA efforts to influence the Presidential election. These illustrious NRA Board members are fine examples of the extremism found in today's NRA.
There's nothing more American than a voter registration campaign. "Trigger the Vote," however, is marred by the violent and insurrectionist rhetoric its three spokespersons have trumpeted since the election of Democratic President Barack Obama in 2008. The process of voting as a catalyst for peaceful change in public policy is sacrosanct to how our representative democracy operates. Ermey, Nugent and Norris have all made statements contrary to these ideals, however, going so far as to suggest that if ballots don't work, bullets will. They have also made it clear that their political tent is only open to certain Americans, and that others should stay clear.
You can read more in the article about the fine upstanding NRA Board members chosen for the "Trigger the Vote" campaign. I do hope we hear more from these folks. Every time they open their mouths, something offensive comes out. Common sense and any thinking reasonable American will see this sort of rhetoric for the extremism it is and represents. Is this what the NRA has become? From the article ( language is not mine):
It might seem shocking to see anti-government extremists heading a voter drive, but the NRA is the organization that stridently declared "the guys with the guns make the rules." Not exactly a democratic mantra... The distaste the NRA and its leaders have for our democratic institutions is, at this point, palpable.
If this year's "Trigger the Vote" campaign ads are anything like years past (such as this one where an NRA supporter responds to the question, "What are you gonna do when they come take away your gun, huh?" by screaming "I'll tell those son of a bitches to get off my property, I'll kick the **** out of them, they'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands."), we should look forward to more mixed messages about civic responsibility on the one hand, and on the other, pure thuggery.
Sigh. Let's end with this article from Paul Waldman of the American Prospect, who has written his 3rd in the series about the Myth of the NRA. Should the NRA actually be given the credit they, and others, have claimed for changing the course of the 1994 and 2000 Congressional and Presidential elections? They spent a lot of money for sure and endorsed a lot of candidates. Here are a few conclusions from the article:
In 1994, however, there were an unusual number of close races, and 12 Republican challengers won by a margin of 4 points or less. Of those, nine were endorsed by the NRA. The GOP needed a net gain of 41 seats to take control of the House, and their actual net gain on election night was 54 seats. So even if we were to attribute every last one of those nine victories to the NRA and assume that without the organization each race would have gone Democratic – an extremely generous assumption – the Republicans would still have gained 45 seats and won control of the House.
(...)  By contrast, the 1994 congressional elections produced a confluence of circumstances conducive to maximum impact for the NRA: a recent controversy over guns around which they could organize; low overall turnout but high turnout among conservative voters; and anti-incumbent sentiment at a time when the House had been firmly in Democratic control for 40 years. These factors combined to give the NRA probably the best opportunity it would ever have to contribute to a Republican victory. And it did contribute. But it did not win the House for the GOP.
(...) To reiterate: the National Rifle Association didn’t win Congress for the GOP in 1994, and it didn’t deliver the White House to George W. Bush in 2000. This historical discussion is important because the stories of 1994 and 2000 still play an important role in any debate about the NRA’s power. Suggest the possibility of a Democratic presidential candidate proposing to reign in gun sales, and someone will likely mention that it’s a bad idea, since Al Gore lost Tennessee in 2000 because of the gun issue. Advocate new national legislation on guns, and the idea that the NRA supposedly delivered Congress to the Republicans in 1994 will inevitably come up. 
So, let's get our facts straight and talk about the elections in terms that can be clearly understood rather than listening to the myths and hyperbole coming from the NRA. Elections need to be fair and honest. I have a bad feeling that the 2012 election is going to be very ugly and also be an obvious attempt to actually buy the election with big corporate and individual donations and attempts to stop people from voting in many of our states. Voter ID laws and constitutional amendments are passing all over the country, including in my own state. I have linked before to this report from TakeActionMinnesota about the influence of large corporations, their CEOs, the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC on Voter ID bills. They are most likely also responsible for other ultra conservative bills in our states, including gun bills. You will see in the Take Action Minnesota report that many of the sponsors of the recently passed Shoot First bill in Minnesota are on the list of recipients of donations from the corporations and donors listed. We are the world's largest democracy. Any doubts or cynicism about elections and local legislation will cheapen our entire electoral process. It is vitally important that elections are done the right way. Finally from the Paul Waldman article above:
The NRA says this is the most important election ever, and mobilizes its resources to elect Republicans. If Republicans win, as they did in 1994 and 2000, the group says: See, we told you everything depends on us and our issue. If Democrats win, as they did in 2008 and 2006, the NRA is quiet. Any pro-gun victory is heralded as proof of the group’s power, yet the ample number of House and Senate candidates who win while touting their efforts to restrict guns are ignored (for instance, Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia said of his escape from the Republican wave of 2010, “I actually won re-election because of the gun issue”). And somehow, people like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton manage to get elected despite the NRA’s intense efforts to prevent them from doing so.
When it comes to elections there is no substitute for a free, open and fair process. Common sense tells us that trying to influence elections with extremist statements and antics such as those from the infamous Ted Nugent and Chuck Norris and what they represent are not only foolish but dangerous to the electoral process. Influencing elections with money from a very few uber wealthy people is a threat to our democracy. It's time to stand up and demand that whoever wins wins fair and square and based on the merits of his or her arguments. We are heading down a very bumpy and swervy road if folks believe the stuff coming from the NRA, from ALEC, from the Koch Brothers, and the Super PACS whose money is coming largely from 5 billionaires. Something very fundamental is broken in our country. As a long time member of the League of Women Voters, I am very concerned for the democratic process and the right to vote. Buying elections and disenfranchising voters goes against one of the most important rights of American citizens. The recent Supreme Court's decision in Citizens' United might very well be one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever to come down in America and should be reconsidered as several Justices have suggested. Happy election season. It's going to be an interesting one, to say the least.


  1. "That statement is so nonsensical as to beg credulity but I'm sure the gun rights folks believe every word of it though there is no proof or any fact behind the statements made by LaPierre."

    And your proof that we believe it is....?

    As for Citizens United: Glad you think that's the worst SCOTUS decision, and not Heller or McDonald.

    Also, you don't need to put "common sense" in italics.

  2. What's going on here? http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10518784-dirty-trick-gun-rights-robo-calls-in-michigan-boost-santorum-uses-nra-name?ocid=twitter

  3. a little more about the shooter in the Ohio shooting- http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10519723-sketchy-reports-emerge-on-alleged-high-school-gunman