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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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Who supports the NRA?

It's time to ask a serious question. Who in the world actually supports the agenda of the NRA and why? Let's take a look at this editorial piece explaining why the NRA is irrelevant to most hunters and gun owners.
"I’m a hunter and a sportswoman. I own guns, but not for self-defense. I support gun control laws. I would happily vote to repeal the Stand Your Ground law in my home state of Oregon. In other words, the N.R.A. does not represent me.
Among gun owners, I’m hardly alone. The N.R.A. has just over four million members. That sounds like a lot until you consider that about one in five American adults own one or more guns. That’s nearly 50 million people. That means roughly 90 percent of gun owners do not belong to the N.R.A.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that every N.R.A. member is also a hunter — which is highly unlikely, considering that the most comprehensive national survey of firearm ownership to date found that only 35 percent of gun-owning households say they hunt. Even then, the N.R.A. would represent only about one-third of all hunters in the United States. (...) 
On its Web site, the N.R.A. calls itself the “largest pro-hunting organization in the world.” Yet during election season, the N.R.A. makes endorsements based largely on candidates’ voting records on gun control — with little if any concern for their views on other issues of interest to hunters. Candidates who voted to allow the ban on assault weapons to expire, for example, are labeled “pro-sportsmen” often despite their weak voting records on environmental issues.

Even if the N.R.A.’s worst nightmare were to come true nationwide — expanded background checks, mandatory waiting periods, limits to the number of guns purchased by an individual per month — hunting could continue as it has for more than a century, with rifles and shotguns.

For hunters like me, hunting isn’t ultimately about the gun. It’s about wildlife and the land that sustains it. I decided to take up hunting about six years ago, two years after I moved from New York City to rural Oregon. I had recently learned to fly-fish, which had given me a new way of looking at rivers. Where once I saw a generic stream, I suddenly noticed deep pools where fish rested and fast-moving riffles where they frantically fed. My fuzzy definition of fish food — “bugs” — sharpened into blue-winged olives and golden stoneflies. Rivers had come alive because I was learning their language."
O.K .then. I have been saying this for a long time on this blog. You may remember my piece about the many folks I know who are hunters and gun owners who do not suppor the agenda of the NRA. I got the usual push back from the gun rights extremists who read my blog, as if they represent all gun owners. They do not. The thing is, they have confused Congress, state legislators and sometimes the public about who the NRA actually is. That is not only unfortunate, it is tragic. It has led to bad gun policies leading to senseless gun deaths in our country and to resistance to good gun policy that could actually work to reduce and prevent gun deaths and injuries. We should take a look at the NRA extremists who believe in their own myths:

This one, for example, is a militia member who appeared to have insurrection on his mind. With no guns, how would this have turned out differently?

Or these 2 guys, father and son, who had vigilante justice on their minds when they held new neighbors hostage with their AK47s when the neighbors were trying to change the locks on their son's newly purchased home? Without the guns, how would this have turned out differently?

What about these "law abiding" gun owners shooting themselves at a gun training class? You can see here that the firearms instructor, Thomas Stark, has credentials:
Thomas (Tom) Stark
National Rifle Association Credentials
Certified Instructor:
Basic Pistol
NRA/Winchester Marksmanship Qualification Program:
Distinguished Expert rating
Presumably Stark supports the NRA. How did an accident like this happen under his watch? Guns are dangerous. Or maybe this gun training instructor in Arizona who doesn't appear to give two hoots about the qualifications of the people he trains to carry loaded guns around in public- he seems to be an NRA guy. Here are just a few of the things he and some Arizona legislators think about how qualified people should be before they are set free on our streets with their guns:
The one hour course I took, taught by Bob Denis of CCW AZ School, LLC., advertises on the website “1hr Law Gets Permit!”
There’s a disclaimer, that the one-hour stint is “for the person with experience with firearms, who does not have time to seat through several hours of additional firearms training” [sic], as well as a statement in class that the one-hour class is not designed for those new to guns.
But Denis never asked me whether I had shot a gun before, or evaluated my proficiency once I sat down for class.
There’s nothing that requires him in the law to evaluate that, though. Denis said later in an interview that he “took great pains, my attorney and I, to lay out the law of the land and what we were going to teach.”
Denis, a DPS-certified and NRA-certified instructor, gave a one-hour PowerPoint presentation covering a range of topics including when it is legal to use or display a concealed weapon. One slide read, “Now that I’ve taken human life, what’s next?”
We were given a copy of the PowerPoint, a packet of additional legal information, and a business card that included a statement we could give to police if we ended up in a situation where we used our weapon.
The beginning of the card reads: “If I have given this to you, it has been necessary to take actions to defend innocent life,” and continues to set out legal parameters: “I wish to make no further statements until I have contacted an attorney and composed myself.”
Denis said later in an interview that he was concerned people could get through the certification without ever having fired a gun, but Arizona’s law doesn’t demand otherwise.
So, why did he never quiz me or my three other classmates on our gun experience in class that day?
“I can’t ask 20 or 30 people independently, I have to cover it as a blanket statement,” Denis said. “Plus my attorney told me that the website does in fact cover me, as far as the legality of that, if anybody ever tried to come against CCW AZ School.” (...) 
During debate over a Senate bill that would have allowed students to carry concealed on campus, Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Glendale, touted CCW holders as “trained and following the law.”
What did Murphy think of my ability of a CCW holder to defend myself or others if a situation arose in public?
“I think it would be irresponsible of you to try,” Murphy said. “But then again we cannot always legislate responsibility and when we try we always fail. You cannot legislate common sense any more than you can legislate responsibility.”
Murphy said most CCW holders have “far more than the minimum requirement because they take their responsibility seriously.”
Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, expressed his support for concealed carry on college campuses on Twitter the day of the Oakland shooting at a small religious college that killed seven.
“If more law-abiding students could carry, the damage would have been contained. Instead of six dead, it would have been ONE,” Harper posted that day on Twitter.
Harper’s initial argument about supporting campus concealed carry rested on training requirements that don’t exist. He voted to strike those down in 2010.
“Obviously its only if they have a CCW permit,” Harper assured me. “That means you have to be 21, you have to have range time for gun safety, and classroom time.”
When I showed him my CCW permit and presented him with my experience, he replied, “well, you know, it’s still a background check. That’s important. Obviously you took a one hour course, that is some kind of training,” he said.
But after pressing Harper on whether he thinks the law should be changed back to the training requirements he boasted the CCW involved, he defaulted to the Second Amendment.
“You’ve been influenced by academia,” Harper said. “The constitution is absolute.”
Right. " You cannot always legislate responsibility.." Wow. So because Denis thinks you can't legislate responsibility, it doesn't matter to him whether the people he "trains" may actually be irresponsible with their guns? The constitution is absolute. Really? It's pretty absolute when a loved one is killed by someone carrying a loaded gun around in public with one hour's worth of training and a card to give to law enforcement to say you have to compose yourself before answering any questions after you shoot someone. This is ludicrous, dangerous, crazy and just plain irresponsible. Our elected leaders are irresponsible. If you don't believe me after reading these few articles, then you must be a gun rights extremist.

The NRA and gun rights extremists are finally receiving the attention that has been lacking for far too many years and mostly because of the recent shooting of Trayvon Martin by an armed man, George Zimmerman, who had vigilante justice on his mind. When one is carrying a gun, one is bolder and one just might use that gun. That is a problem. It is leading to tragic incidents. The NRA supports the laws that allow this to happen. But the NRA might just be a bit worried about now because the attention has not led to a more positive image for them. Take this article for example from Media Matters. It highlights the no good, very bad week for the NRA following the NRA convention and the now infamous remarks by NRA Board member and rocker, Ted Nugent. As one of the people who decided to cancel performances by Nugent put it:
Following the Fort Knox announcement, Bangor, Maine councilmember Charles Longo, Jr. asked that Nugent be removed from this summer's Bangor Waterfront concert series. Longo wrote that, "In the wake of one of the most fiery election seasons ever, I believe that this vitriolic, incendiary rhetoric has no place in our national discourse. Furthermore, I do not believe that we should give him a platform to stand on in the city of Bangor ... Mr. Nugent has proved time and time again that he will use any means necessary to keep him in the headlines, regardless of the shameful things he says."
Indeed. Who is in favor of these kind of remarks? Then on the same day, two bloggers wrote on Huffington Post about the new look at the NRA. First, Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign wrote this piece.
You see, the NRA and its political minions like to work in the shadows. They cannot credibly explain to voters why they support loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns without background checks, or allow terrorists to buy all the AK-47s they desire. Secrecy and cynicism are their greatest allies.
But the media did not just focus on Zimmerman's culpability for Trayvon's death. They also shone a spotlight on other fingerprints found at the crime scene: the NRA's, and the politicians who do its bidding. Americans learned that NRA laws (supported by ALEC) entitled a vigilante with an arrest record and a violent past to carry loaded hidden handguns anywhere, and almost prevented him from even being charged with a crime after he shot an unarmed teenager.
Far more than other high-profile shootings, the Trayvon Martin tragedy has shown the American people the complicity of the NRA, and its political lackies, in our shameful epidemic of gun violence. The people can now easily "connect the dots" between the gun lobby and mayhem on our streets.
Under the spotlight of America's scrutiny, so glaring was the culpability of ALEC in implementing the gun lobby's dark vision, that Coca Cola and Pepsi, McDonald's and Wendy's, Kraft and Mars, Blue Cross and Bill Gates all reached the same conclusion: association with the NRA's extremist agenda was toxic.  
 Josh Horwitz, Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence wrote a similar piece.
It's long past time to ask one simple question: How can any member of the Democratic Party take money from the National Rifle Association (NRA) or accept their endorsement in good conscience? It's bad enough that the NRA has been completely in bed with the Republican Party for decades (the NRA leadership is an unholy alliance of movement conservative political operatives like Grover Norquist, David Keene and Joe Allbaugh and insurrectionist folk heroes like Ted Nugent and Chuck Norris). They might endorse a few Democrats from time to time, but an overwhelming percentage of their campaign contributions go to the GOP (a whopping 89% in the current election cycle). What should be even more revolting to Democrats is that Ted Nugent is now leveraging his position as an NRA board member/spokesperson to incite violence against them and their president. (...) 
These pro-gun policies have became so politically toxic -- particularly after the killing of Trayvon Martin by concealed handgun permit holder George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida -- that 12 corporations have resigned from ALEC in the past few months. As the New York Times put it, "Many [corporations] joined [ALEC] for narrower reasons, like fighting taxes on soda or snacks, and clearly have little interested in voter ID requirements or the NRA's vision of a society where anyone can fire a concealed weapon at the slightest hint of a threat ... Big business is beginning to realize that Stand Your Ground laws are indefensible."
While ALEC was divorcing the NRA via press release, Republican Governor Jan Brewer was vetoing an NRA bill that would have allowed Arizona residents to carry loaded guns into libraries, city halls and other public buildings in the state (Brewer doesn't care too much for the NRA effort to push guns onto college campuses, either).
Too radical for ALEC and Jan Brewer?! Someone please tell me why a single Democrat would want to take the blood money the NRA has to offer?
There is plain and simply no common sense when it comes to the pro gun side of the issue, period. The NRA has none. The gun rights extremists have none. Many politicians have none. The word can't be used when it comes to Ted Nugent and most of the leadership of the NRA (check them out for yourself at the linked web site if you don't believe me). So let's demand some. Let's demand that our leaders stop this nonsense and get started making good policy regarding gun violence prevention. It would save lives. It's simple, stupid.

UPDATE:

This article just came to my attention and fits right in with my assertion that the gun rights extremists and the NRA are out of control and are going way too far to get their way. Check out this one about a legislator in Tennessee who opposes legislation pushed by the gun lobby and the veiled and not so veiled threat against her:
But Tuesday, the argument began to take on hints of violence, starting with a morning email from Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris, who earlier described legislative leaders as an “axis of evil.”
Harris took aim at House Republican Caucus Chair Debra Maggart of Hendersonville, one of a handful of legislative leaders whom the group has blamed for holding up firearms legislation. The group called on TFA supporters to back Maggart’s opponent, Courtney Rogers, in the upcoming Republican primary.
“Rep. Debra Maggart’s political career needs to end much as the Romans crucified criminals — not just to end her tenure but as a glaring example to other Republicans that you cannot take the grassroots groups or the rights of citizens for granted,” he wrote, adding, “it is time to display a used crucifix at the entrance to the General Assembly as a warning.”
And then, the NRA realized that this could be a problem for them and here is a comment ( from the article above):
Darren LaSorte, a lobbyist for the NRA, sought to distance the NRA somewhat from Harris’ comments.
“It wouldn’t be fair to all the 1 million, 2 million gun owners in the state to hold them accountable for one man’s comments,” he said when apprised of them. “One thing that John Harris has going is he is critical of the leadership — no doubt about that — and that is part of the political discourse. It’s part of how politics works.”
The thing is, the NRA and other gun rights extremists continue to make comments like this. These comments should not be accepted as "part of the political discourse". Threats of violence are never acceptable as part of the political discourse. LaSorte is wrong and should be called out for it. He is accountable and responsible as long as he does nothing about it. The NRA has some soul searching to do if they are to remain viable. So far, they are not doing themselves any favors and are, in fact, exposing themselves for who they really are.

20 comments:

  1. Understandably, it's difficult for most of those "hunters and shooters" with their $3000 Benelli shotguns and 6-figure VO Vapen deer rifles with custom English Walnut furniture (stocks, not coffee tables) to grasp the concept that most of their arms and ammunition for them would be banned under the "high powered death machines" meme if organizations like the NRA did not continue to fight the constant erosion of constitutionally protected rights.

    I don't agree with everything the NRA stands for, but when push comes to shove, I'll certainly keep sending them my $35/yr to guarantee they have a say in making sure I have the means to exercise the most fundamental, inalienable right which has existed since man walked the earth; defending one's self and family with the most effective means available.

    I support the NRA.

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  2. As much as I hate to admit this, I'm starting to agree with your need to regulate assault guns. My mind was changed when I saw this video of a flying quadrotor machine gun. There's no reason for a civilian to own something like this. Imagine if a kid got a hold of it...

    http://www.youtube.com/user/FPSRussia

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    1. Do they make one in pink? The wife would love to pick one up next time she's at walmart.

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    2. It's not a laughing matter. These were specifically banned under the assault weapons ban which expired in 2004, and now anyone will be able to buy one when they hit the market next year.

      This technology is a game changer and will corner the market on assault weapons. Civilians aren't professional enough to use these responsibly.

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    3. You're absolutely right. I didn't mean to be flippant. Once these become available for civilian purchase I myself might even support closing the gun show loophole, or we could conceivably see gang members flooding the streets with these weapons. At the very least, we should resrtict the ones with the thing that goes up in the back of them.

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    4. "This technology is a game changer and will corner the market on assault weapons. Civilians aren't professional enough to use these responsibly."

      So let's see. Two full auto, pre ban, machine guns. Let's say 15 grand EACH. Another 5 thousand dollars for a quad rotor with enough power to lift them + radio.

      The machine guns run what? 600 rounds per minute depending. .223 is running $250 per thousand, so say $200 dollars a minute to run both guns..

      Plus $400 for the tax stamps and the FBI background check. DId I mention your local police chief has to sign off on the idea?

      Yep.. The streets will be flooded with this these things. I'm going to get two, so I can have a back up.. Just as soon as I scrounge up $60 GRAND and convince my wife that I need something that costs hundreds of dollars a minute to use..

      You weren't joking were you? I bet you had no idea what it costs to buy and own something like this, did you?

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    5. I have no doubt that a few idiots would figure out how to use something like this to wreak havoc.

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    6. @18echo
      You're assuming a traditional machine gun that has an action. If you had actually watched the video instead of making naive assumptions, this has an actionless barrel-only design that will significantly cut down on production costs. So your $60 grand estimate is wildly off the mark.

      These will be the Saturday night specials of full auto quadrotor RC machine guns.

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  3. Walmart, NRA, ALEC - it's time to get them out of the shady corruption they practice to pervert our government and put back the premise of government of and by and for the people, not corporate greed.

    The premise of self-defense promoted by the NRA and gun nuts is insane. It has done nothing more than justified old and white flabby, crabby men getting in people's faces and then shooting them over trivial matters. Enough of the shootings; time to dramatically alter our gun culture to somehting safe and sane, something citizen oriented not corporate profit driven. The uproar of people offended at the reality of the Stand Your Ground / shoot first laws has been a much needed reality check.

    The result is a substantial rejection of the premises of the gun culture. Gun culture is a choice we can reject.

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  4. Why do I support the NRA? Because gun control groups still exist.

    Rather simple. Next question.

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    1. Why did I know you would send in a snarky comment CJM? Some day, perhaps, you will send something thoughtful but I won't hold my breath.

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  5. "The premise of self-defense promoted by the NRA and gun nuts is insane. It has done nothing more than justified old and white flabby, crabby men getting in people's faces and then shooting them over trivial matters."

    Interesting comment, aside from the ad hominem and stereotyping, seeing as though George Zimmerman (isn't HE the NRA?) has white, hispanic, and (gasp!) black ancestry, is bi-lingual, and grew up in a mulit-racial household:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/25/us-usa-florida-shooting-zimmerman-idUSBRE83O18H20120425



    This is why the gun control crowd will never see 74,000 people at any of their conventions.

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  6. I have found that part of the problem is that there are too many organizations for pro-control hunters and anti-NRA gunowners. That not only makes it hard to decide which one to join, but it also dilutes their influence vs the NRA.

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    1. And do you belong to one of these groups, Jay?

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  7. Another concealed carrier incident in Utah, two hurt: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=20161608

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    1. I imagine his point was "Police say a bystander with a concealed carry permit witnessed the attack and stepped in to keep it from escalating. " Because everyone knows you don't need a gun at the grocery store.

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    2. Yes, I generally find that the grocery store is one of the more dangerous places I visit on a regular basis.

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  8. I support the Constitution, The NRA, Self-Defense, The Police and even a few lawyers.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Thomas. So do I. I also support reasonable gun laws which have always and will always co-exist with the second amendment. Apparently they don't co-exist with the NRA though. Interestingly, NRA members support reasonable gun laws by at least 75%. I hope you are among those majority of NRA members who understand what this is all about.

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