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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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why did the NRA endorse Mitt Romney?

This post has been updated since first posted.


Well, in case anyone missed it, the Presidential debate last night finally addressed a question to the candidates about guns and gun control. Finally. The responses were interesting, to say the least. President Obama deigned to mention background checks and even mildly suggested that there should be an assault weapons ban and that citizens shouldn't be allowed to have the type of weapons used in war. Here is, in part, some of his answer from the link above:
"We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and
I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of
hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can
protect themselves.
But there have been too many instances during the course of my
presidency, where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody.
Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago,
actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at the
bedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.
And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some
time, and we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later,
this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good
as new.
But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that good
fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.
So my belief is that, (A), we have to enforce the laws we’ve
already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of
criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job
in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes
to enforcement.
But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for
soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets. And so what I’m
trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce
the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault
weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other
sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago,
there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s.
They’re using cheap hand guns."
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, did the usual end run around the question, and wandered into family issues instead. It was a strange answer to say the least. Let's take a look:
Yeah, I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on
– on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We,
of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already
illegal in this country to have automatic weapons. What I believe is
we have to do, as the president mentioned towards the end of his
remarks there, which is to make enormous efforts to enforce the gun
laws that we have, and to change the culture of violence that we have.
And you ask how – how are we going to do that? And there are a
number of things. He mentioned good schools. I totally agree. We
were able to drive our schools to be number one in the nation in my
state. And I believe if we do a better job in education, we’ll –
we’ll give people the – the hope and opportunity they deserve and
perhaps less violence from that. But let me mention another thing.
And that is parents. We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids.
Wherever possible the – the benefit of having two parents in the
home, and that’s not always possible. A lot of great single moms,
single dads. But gosh to tell our kids that before they have babies,
they ought to think about getting married to someone, that’s a great
idea.
And then he launched into a discussion about traditional two parent families. Whatever. That was likely a "dog whistle" to the far right who claim to believe in strong family values as if the rest of us don't. But I digress. Romney's answer left President Obama an opening into the total reversal of position on gun control held by Mr. Romney. While Governor of Massachusetts, Romney passed an Assault Weapons Ban, still in place. Now he has gone so far to the right to pay homage to his party's far right extremists, that he sought and received an endorsement from the NRA's own Ted Nugent who famously said this:



Raise your hand if you think a candidate should want an endorsement from a man who says things like those in the video. This says a lot about Mitt Romney's desperation to be liked by even the gun extremists.

Romney was for an assault weapons ban before he was against it. Neither man was brave enough to actually answer this question adequately or to the point of the original question. President Obama has not, is not and will not take away guns from people as the NRA and its minions, including Executive VP Wayne LaPierre, love to scream. President Obama passed several laws that the NRA, in fact, wanted- guns in National Parks and guns on Amtrak. Mitt Romney has done no such thing. Do we think the NRA has endorsed the wrong man? Maybe.

Why did the NRA endorse Mitt Romney? He is not a gun guy. He is not interested in guns. He doesn't shoot guns. He doesn't hunt. He claimed to have shot some varmints once upon a time in an effort to get on the good side of the gun guys. But really folks, what choice did the NRA have? They could have chosen not to endorse either man but that wouldn't bring out their voters. With the knowledge, though, that Mitt Romney, if elected, would do the bidding of the NRA and would sign any pro gun law that came across his desk, the NRA held its' nose and endorsed anyway. They know that Mitt Romney would sign the National Conceal Carry Reciprocity Act. I don't think that the members of the house who voted in favor of this controversial bill really believe in the provisions of this bill. But they know they must bow down to the NRA or else. Or else what? This bill is just not a good idea considering how many permit holders have been shooting people or leaving their guns around for kids to find of late. If you don't believe me, check out the Ohh Shoot blog and the Kid Shootings blog. I don't make this stuff up. Or look at some of my previous posts about mass shooters or your average every day shooters who have held permits to carry. But never mind, let's continue down this path of destruction and affront to public health and safety.

The NRA has a problem. Neither candidate really embraces their extreme philosophy. They both actually fall into the majority views of Americans who also don't embrace the NRA's extremism. What to do when only the extreme folks like what you are all about? Bully and intimidate. Stop any reasonable solutions to our nation's problem of daily carnage with threats and cajoling. Get your base whipped up with lies and accusations that don't even make sense, given the facts. Tamp down any mention of the gun issue during elections so the public won't get to hear that most candidates, when given the chance, will tell you that they support common sense. Most politicians are not gun guys. Some of them may hunt. All of them have to say they support the Second Amendment as currently interpreted because it is the law of the land. But most also agree with Justice Scalia in the Heller decision that supporting the Second Amendment also means that reasonable restrictions about guns are still in the best interest of us all. 

So the myths perpetrated by the NRA continue. They have kept talk of guns off the table. But then, the public wants to know as evident by the question asked in last night's debate. The public is in favor of reasonable gun laws. Even NRA members are in favor of reasonable gun laws ( see link above) You'd never know it this election season, or any election season for that matter. At least President Obama is interested in having a national discussion about the issue. Mitt Romney won't discuss. He will bow down to Wayne LaPierre and the other purveyors of fear and paranoia and contribute to the carnage in America not seen in any other civilized country not at war.

The hypocrisy just keeps coming. Don't believe it. Demand a plan for common sense gun legislation from whomever is elected and don't let the NRA continue to get away with their ludicrous hold on this important national public health and safety issue. We are better than this.

UPDATE:

I'm not the only one to think Mitt Romney's response to the question about gun control was stupid and ridiculous, not to mention totally off topic. Check out what this writer said about it:
I've written in the past about how tone deaf it is to pretend that women end up as single mothers because they were just too stupid to consider getting married, so no need to rehash it here. Romney followed up this answer by invoking "Fast and Furious," a right wing conspiracy theory that only angry old white dudes who listen to too much talk radio care about, suggesting that the original question so unnerved him that his brain started spitting out random references to right wing bogeymen: Mexicans, single mothers, Eric Holder.
Still, blaming single mothers for gun violence (yes, he mentioned single dads too, but there aren’t that many of them) should have easily won the contest for the "Most Appallingly Misogynist Thing to Come out of Romney's Mouth" award. Single mothers are an easy group to pick on. Single mothers don't usually speak up when you demonize them. Why not blame them for gun violence, even though most gun violence (and pretty much all mass gun violence) is committed by men? Unlike the NRA, single moms don't have a lot of money to give, so if they refuse to donate to, say, the Romney campaign, it really can't hurt him.
Indeed. I just had to argue with some commenters about the fact that most guns are owned by men and most gun violence is committed by men. How did single moms get into the mix at all when answering the question? It just shows how totally out of touch Mitt Romney is on not only gun policy but women's issues, family issues, poverty issues, the middle class and a whole host of others.

And this article agrees with me as well, that neither candidate really answered the question well. From the article:
Obama, who has the most to lose by focusing on gun control—most elected Democratic officials see gun control as a loser come Election Day—came out in favor of renewing the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. Weapons, he said, “that were designed for soldiers in war theatres don’t belong on our streets.” This was the first time he’s publicly expressed support for the assault weapons ban since assuming office. Party hardliners, who included a call for reenactment of the ban in the 2012 Party Platform, must have been pleased.
An assault weapons ban, however, will not make any serious dent in America’s gun violence.  When the ban was in effect prior to 2004, it was largely ineffective. The gun manufacturers easily avoided the ban by making slight, mostly cosmetic changes in their rifles and selling them by the hundreds of thousands.
Although a ban on the sale of large capacity magazines, which was part of the previous ban and a likely provision in any new one, sounds good, mass killers also have an easy way to get around this. Like James Holmes, the Aurora shooter whose assault rifle jammed up during his horrendous attack, they can just carry multiple guns.
In any case, mass shootings aren’t the heart of America’s gun dilemma. Despite all the media attention mass shootings receive, these high-profile and awful incidents count for only a fraction of a percentage of annual gun deaths. As Obama himself noted in the debate, in cities like Chicago “there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They are using cheap hand guns.”
Romney also has reason to want to avoid talking about guns. He knows the National Rifle Association has no choice but to support him. This despite concerns by some gun rights advocates about Romney’s record, which includes signing into law an assault weapons ban when he was governor of Massachusetts. Last night, Romney said he believed no new gun laws were necessary.
And further from the linked article above:
The Republican nominee also struck a nerve with his conservative base by putting part of the blame for gun violence on single parent homes. “We need moms and dads helping raise kids,” he said, and suggested that children born out of wedlock were more likely to resort to gun violence. But no governmental program is going to stop people from having children out of wedlock or force couples who want a divorce to stay married.
Besides, plenty of killers come from two-parent homes. The list includes both Jared Loughner, who attempted to kill Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, and James Holmes.
Although the candidates differed on their proposals, they were united in one way. They both seemed to share a common misunderstanding about guns. Obama said that part of the solution is to “get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.” He appeared to be referring to the assault weapons the audience member asked about. But assault weapons subject to the ban are not automatic guns. They do not fire more than one round with a single pull of the trigger.
Romney also flubbed this, saying that it is “already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.” While it is true that the sale of newly manufactured machine guns is against the law, there are hundreds of thousands of older machine guns that are lawfully owned by Americans. Indeed, the first thing a visitor to Las Vegas sees are signs advertising gun ranges where you can shoot machine guns.
Is it any wonder then that the candidates offered little in the way of effective solutions? Neither seems to know much about what they are—finally—talking about.

UPDATE:

My friend at the New Trajectory blog has written a similar post to mine and he references yet another blog by Andy Pelosi from States United to Prevent Gun Violence. From New Trajectory:
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the talk from both candidates "gibberish":

"Polls show that more than 80 percent of Americans and more than 80 percent of gun owners support some common sense reforms that are bipartisan." 
"And then they had all this gibberish talking about education. That education is the solution to stop the killing. My recollection is that the Aurora theater shooter? He was a PhD candidate. Ok? The Virgina Tech massacre was committed by a student at a first class university! Gun are a plague and I don't think education is going to keep guns out of the hands of gang members. The solution is to prevent all people who shouldn't have guns from getting them." 
"Let's get serious," he went on later in his lengthy answer, "these are people who have guns, and the only reason to carry a gun is to use it. To kill people. People who buy assault weapons... Governor Romney signed an assault weapon ban, today he has changed his mind. The President campaigned four years ago that he was going introduce a bill to ban assault weapons, the bill never saw the light of day. Romney said 'oh, well, automatic weapons are already banned.' And yes it is true, machine guns are banned. But a semi-automatic weapon, which is what an AK-47 is, that is not banned. And you can pull a trigger awful fast." 
"One candidate has had four years to do something and hasn't. And the other candidate says he won't even do what he once did!"
Good for Mayor Bloomberg of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He has the courage to talk straight about the issue of gun violence and the lack of response from our elected leaders.

11 comments:

  1. I agree that both candidates haven't been very assertive when stating their positions on many subjects, including second amendment issues. I think that both of them are hoping that if they don't have to take a stand, then they won't have to risk losing a vote.
    Some people have the mindset that if they don't hear anything bad, the person must be ok, when in the case of electing someone who represents you you need to make them justify your vote.

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  2. Do any of us on the gun side truly want Mitt Romney? No, not really. The only thing Mitt Romney has going for him is that he isn't Barack Obama. Did the National Park Bill get passed under BO? Yes, because it was attached to another bill that he wanted. Do either of us really believe that if it had been a stand alone bill Mr Obama would have signed it? NO.

    Guns on Amtrak was tied to the funding bill for Amtrak. If it had been a stand alone bill it wouldn't have gotten signed. You cannot give Obama credit for those bills.

    You said yourself "We know that he is in favor of reasonable laws to stop senseless shootings from his prior record" speaking about Obama. We see his record and don't think he has changed his mind. Romney isn't great but he is far superior to the alternative.

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  3. This isn't the first time that either the President or Romney have stated these views, but it's nice to hear the President publicly state support for stronger background checks and reinstating the AWB. I'm glad the President called Romney out for his flip-flop on the issue of the AWB.

    When Romney only says he doesn't want to change gun laws in any way, but merely "enforce the gun laws we already have" (as if our law enforcement doesn't already), he's basically saying that he's just fine with the 100,000 shootings and 33,000 deaths by gunfire each year.

    I don't agree. It's time to demand a plan.

    My blog post on this: http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2012/10/presidential-candidates-finally-debate.html

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    1. Baldor, What real difference do you think another AWB will accomplish? What did the last AWB do?
      There are definite issues with current laws that need to be fixed.

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  4. President Obama demonstrated an understanding of the problem, but not a solution, when he said "Because frankly, in my home town of Chicago, there's an awful lot of violence and they're not using AK-47s. They're using cheap hand guns."

    Rifles designed for soldiers in war theaters are not available to the public. I can't own an M4 with three round burst or full auto. I also can't own the compact version of this weapon that's used by the Navy. Your quotes do a good job of explaining why the original AWB failed (cosmetic issues) and how the only part of the AWB with teeth, magazine capacity, can be circumvented, rendering any AWB ineffective.

    Yes, machine guns can be acquired by the public, but they are very expensive and difficult to get. First there's the BATFE $200 tax, but the gun itself can cost $15,000 or more. More importantly, many chief LEO's won't sign off on the BATFE paperwork, so even though I'm allowed to legally own a machine gun in gun-friendly Oregon, my police chief won't allow me to have one. These are some of the reasons why machine gun crimes are not a problem in this country.

    So unless we address the root of violence, as both candidates alluded to and like whatever is happening in Chicago and Puerto Rico, we won't reduce violence in our country.

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    1. Based on some articles I have found and linked on my blog, machine guns may be more available than you say they are. Yes, rifles designed for war are available. Semi automatics with assault type features are readily available all over this country. They are not for self defense or hunting. .50 caliber sniper rifles are readily available. You gun guys don't think they look like weapons of war but everyone else does.

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    2. Japete, One challenge with proposing legislation to control these items is the difficulties in collecting data. For example the California Attorney General publishes a very informative report. They also detail number of what they define as assault weapons collected compared to all guns. (5% in this instance in 2009)
      And there isnt any single definition of an assault weapon which also addss to the problem. The FBI doesnt differentiate in their UCR. In 2010, there were 6009 handgun homicides and 358 homicides with rifles, a percentage of which includes a percentage of assault weapons since some are classified as handguns. So some percentage of the rifle homicides are committed by assault weapons.
      State legislatures are already taking care of the assault weapon issue on their own. Perhaps that is where it should be addressed.
      The .50 "sniper rifle" issue could be handled there too. Data collection is another issue here too. The VPC has a fact sheet which lists occurances from news sources from 1992 to present. Of the forty or so occurances listed, only 4 involved actual use of the weapon. No homicides in the US were listed.

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    3. And we have the NRA to thank for that. They have made darned sure that as little data as possible is available. They don't want us knowing how bad things really are. And just because no deaths have happened yet does not mean we should not regulate these kinds of weapons. They don't wear out. They last forever. If someone has bought one, there is a reason and they may just use it. We are talking deadly weapons and human lives here, not T.Vs or collections of other items.

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    4. I agree, commercially available semi-automatic M4's look exactly like the selective fire military counterpart, but if the rifle can only operate exactly like one that doesn't look like a military weapon, then why would that matter? Why stop with banning the M4? Why not ban the Ruger Mini-14 also? The Remington 700 hunting rifle is also used by the military, so that should be banned also. So is the 8 round 1911 and the Beretta 92FS, which are considered by California to be safe guns. Then there are all the derivatives that are founded on these basic models.

      I know you've discussed this ad-nauseum already, so I'll just get to the point. For an AWB to be effective, almost every rifle and handgun manufactured today would need to be banned. While your colleagues may applaud this, that is one of the extreme facts that makes this political hurdle so high.

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    5. I don't agree Migo. And then we should talk about the high capacity magazines that make these weapons so effective at killing as many people as possible at once.

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