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, December 28, 2012

The NRA's tin ear

Updated on December 29


When has the NRA ever listened to common sense? Well once upon a time the NRA used to actually support some reasonable gun violence prevention measures:
"In the 1920s and ’30s, the NRA was at the forefront of the gun control movement. The NRA helped draft and promote, in state after state, laws that restricted the ability of people to carry guns in public.
In the 1930s, the head of the NRA was asked to testify before Congress about the constitutionality of the first proposed federal gun control law, the National Firearms Act of 1934, which would have restricted access to machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. These were gangster weapons that had become popular during Prohibition.
The NRA president was asked if the Second Amendment imposed any limitations on what Congress can do. His answer, from today’s perspective, is astounding: He said, “I have not given it any study from that point of view.” And in other writings, that same NRA president said protection for gun owners’ rights comes not from the Constitution but from enlightened public policy."
That was before they were taken over by extremists. From the article above:
The NRA changed literally overnight. In the early 1970s, the NRA’s leaders decided to curtail the organization’s political activity and refocus on marksmanship and outdoorsman activity. This angered a group of hardline gun rights advocates in the membership who thought guns were vital for self-defense, not for hunting. At an annual meeting of the membership, the hardliners manipulated the rules of order to stage a coup. When the sun rose the next day, the entire leadership of the NRA had been replaced with a new set of hard-line political activists opposed to gun control.
Now, no matter what the public says, no matter what even its' own members say in poll after poll after poll, the NRA's lobbyists and leaders pursue their agenda to have too many guns in too many places carried by too many people leading to too many gun deaths and injuries. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, public opinion has changed. Here is some new polling data:
Support for tighter gun control laws continues to rise in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, and another new poll finds that support for stricter gun laws is at its highest point in years.
In the new HuffPost/YouGov survey of 1,000 adults conducted Dec. 21-22, 55 percent of Americans said that gun control laws should be made more strict, 13 percent said they should be made less strict, and 27 percent said there should be no change. Support for stricter laws in the new poll is even higher than it was in another HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted immediately after the shooting took place, when 50 percent of respondents said that that gun control laws should be made stricter.
The above poll found some other interesting results showing that support is changing but those of us on the gun violence prevention side have some more work to do. From the article, again:
But underneath a broad openness to some changes, opinions on specific new restrictions varied sharply in the Gallup poll. Support for requiring background checks at gun shows, a measure proposed by President Barack Obama, is nearly unanimous, with 92 percent favoring the change. A proposed ban on semi-automatic guns, however, earns a much smaller majority of support. Public support for a ban on handguns has continued to drop, reaching a record low this year, with just a quarter in favor.
In spite of growing support for stricter gun laws, the HuffPost/YouGov survey found that the National Rifle Association, the leading gun rights advocacy group in the nation, receives higher positive than negative ratings, though negative views of the organization may be increasing in the wake its statement blaming the Newtown shooting on violence in the media and calling for armed guards to be placed in schools. Forty percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion and 36 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion of the organization, while 24 percent said they were unsure. An earlier YouGov poll conducted in February for the Economist found that the NRA was ranked more favorably than unfavorably by a 36 percent to 28 percent margin, suggesting that unfavorable views of the organization may be increasing faster than favorable views.
But the conversation has clearly changed. Conservatives have weighed in in support for reasonable gun laws. I have written about this in some past posts. And then along comes Frank Luntz, Republican pollster, to tell the NRA that it is NOT listening to the public after the Newtown shooting. It never has but now it is totally deaf. Here is what Frank Luntz said about the NRA's tin ear:
Frank Luntz, a top Republican strategist and pollster, said Wednesday that the National Rifle Association's recent calls for armed guards to be stationed at every school in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. massacre suggested the organization isn't listening to public opinion on the issue.
“The public wants guns out of the schools, not in the schools, and they're not asking for a security official or someone else," Luntz said on CBS’s “This Morning,” responding to a proposal first floated by top NRA lobbyist Wayne LaPierre during a press conference last week.
"I don’t think the NRA is listening. I don’t think that they understand," Luntz continued. "Most Americans would protect the Second Amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being should own a gun, not every gun should be available at anytime, anywhere, for anyone. That at gun shows, you should not be able to buy something there and then without any kind of check whatsoever. What they're looking for is a common-sense approach that says that those who are law-abiding should continue to have the right to own a weapon, but that you don’t believe the right should be extended to everyone at every time for every type of weapon.”
Luntz conducted a survey of gun owners both affiliated and unaffiliated with the NRA earlier this year, which found broad support for certain provisions that would restrict the sale of guns.
The NRA is in denial of course. They have been lying for so long they don't even know they are lying. But the American people are finding out just how much the organization has managed to pull the wool over our collective eyes. This great article exposes what many of us have known but what was revealed for all to see last week:
A starkly different message emerged last Friday. Responding to the Newtown massacre with its proposal to arm our schools, the NRA revealed its vision of our society. Rather than join widespread calls from across the political spectrum for tightly regulating access to military-style assault weapons, the NRA called for the further mobilization of arms. NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre charged that if we do not arm the schools, we will be leaving "the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family -- our children... utterly defenseless" and at the mercy of "the monsters and predators of this world." The solution, LaPierre asserted, is not to "engage in any lengthy debate over legislation, regulation, or anything else" but instead to "erect a cordon of protection around our kids right now."
We can see clearly where this new rhetoric leads. If we must arm the schools to keep our kids safe, how can we extend the "cordon" to protect them when they go to the movies, unless we post armed guards in every theater? How will we keep the "monsters and predators" from the neighborhood playground, without an armed guard atop every slide? Once we've secured the theaters and parks, can we leave our children unprotected as they walk, innocently exposed to lurking evil, from one newly-protected haven to another? If we want to keep our children safe, and the only way to do that is by saturating their environments with firearms, how can we leave any place without the benefit of such protection? The armed schools proposal provides a terrifying glimpse into the NRA's vision for America.
Since Friday, we have seen more. The gun lobby's reverence for the Second Amendment has constricted its commitment to other constitutional principles. LaPierre lamented, without elaboration, "our nation's refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill," prompting cries of foul from dedicated mental health advocates concerned with both the constitutional and the rhetorical implications of such a position. Gun lobby supporters launched an online petition calling for the deportation of British CNN commentator Piers Morgan, on the ironic ground that his commentary constitutes an "effort to undermine Bill of Rights." In the last week, the gun lobby has revealed spectacular intolerance of the freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment, when guns are at issue.
These developments have shown that in the gun lobby's America armed guards monitor our movements, the government maintains a database of perceived undesirables, and voices of dissent are eliminated. The gun lobby's vision for the future has emerged from the shadows and declared itself the new home of American fascism.
All of the NRA talk centers around the idea that we need to arm every place we go because that will stop shooters from entering, thinking they might be out gunned. This, of course, has never been the case. But they speak it as if the truth and won't listen to anything that counters that view of the world. What they have been deftly ignoring is the fact that armed police officers are shot often on our streets or even in their own stations. Shooters don't seem to care if their "target" is armed or not. When they are intent on shooting, they come with their plan and take everyone by surprise. And, as if on queue, 3 New Jersey police offices were shot at their own police station:
A violent struggle occurred while the suspect was being processed," Deputy Chief David Harkins said. The man was able to grab a gun and then opened fire.
One of the injured officers, who was rushed to surgery after being shot below his bulletproof vest, is listed in stable condition. The other two were treated for graze wounds and released. 
The shooter was killed by police during the confrontation, according to Chief W. Harry Earle. The investigation was ongoing. 
After first shooting and injuring three officers, one officer was finally able to get off a shot. I thought gunmen wouldn't go to places where people are armed. The gun lobby is wrong and the almost every day shootings of police officers is plain proof of these lies. The NRA only listens to its' own agenda no matter what the majority of its' members say about reasonable gun laws. They make a lot of noise and the silent majority has allowed that to happen. It's time now for the silent majority to make the noise and drown out the lies of the NRA. Our elected leaders have not been listening to the silent majority. It's time for them to really listen to what the public wants. I hope their ears are open to the truth.

UPDATE:

A few of my readers have chosen to pick out one detail in this post, which was meant to highlight the NRA's resistance to change even though the public and its' own members are showing they want it. That detail has to do with the New Jersey police officer shooting. The man who shot the officers was brought to the station under arrest. While his handcuffs were removed, he managed to grab an officer's gun and shot and injured 3 officers in spite of knowing they were armed:
 A shootout broke out in a suburban New Jersey police station on Friday when a 39-year-old man who had been taken into custody attacked a police officer, stealing her gun and shooting her and two other officers before he was killed.
One of the officers, Sergeant James Garber, underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to his stomach and was in stable condition, while the other two, Officer Ruth Burns and Sergeant Kevin Thyne, were treated at Cooper University Hospital and released, police said.
The assailant, Eddie Jones III, who had been arrested on charges of stalking his former girlfriend, was killed in the shootout, according to Gloucester Police Chief W. Harry Earle.
After his arrest early Friday morning outside his ex-girlfriend's house, police brought Jones to the police station and removed his handcuffs while they processed him.
"He then suddenly attacked the officer, tackling her to the ground, striking her on the head, and removing her department issued firearm from her holster," Earle said at a news conference. "Two officers immediately proceeded to her aid. Mr. Jones opened fire on the two officers."
This is a clear example of how easy it can be to "disarm" an armed person and use that gun to inflict injury and death and why arming teachers or others in public places can turn out tragically. People who have the intent to do harm, will do so even though they know someone is armed. This is not the first time that someone has managed to take a gun from an armed officer and inflict serious injury or death. Loaded guns can quickly turn to be used against the gun owner. This Missouri mass shooting is an example of this: 
The Kirkwood City Council shooting occurred on February 7, 2008, in Kirkwood, Missouri, United States; a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri in St. Louis County. A gunman went on a shooting rampage at a public meeting in the city hall, leaving six people dead and two others injured. Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton[1] shot one police officer with a revolver across the side street from city hall and took the officer's handgun before entering city hall. Thornton reached council chambers with these two weapons shortly after the meeting began. There, he shot a police officer, the public works director, two council members, the mayor, and a reporter. In total, the gunman killed five and wounded two others. He was then shot and killed by police.[1][5][6]
I have provided many examples of armed police officers shot and often killed by gunmen who used surprise or even ambush to accomplish the shootings. There is no need to argue this point because the actual real events tell us what we need to know. In fact, on the same day as the New York firefighter shootings, a Houston police officer and one other person were shot and killed after a traffic accident. The officer was obviously armed. People intent on shooting people don't often stop to think about whether someone is armed. If my readers read the article about how it would be possible but ridiculous to assume that our children should be accompanied wherever they go by armed adults, then the conclusion is that it is not really possible or plausible. The logical conclusion is that having less access to guns by those who want to do harm is the better solution. And, of course, that is the point of my post which is lost on some of my readers who continue to pick at small details to divert from the main point. And that is the reason the NRA and its' followers have turned a deaf ear to common sense. The main point is lost because of the agenda to promote arming all citizens and profiting the gun industry as a result. Guns are dangerous. Too many people are being shot every day by too many people who have too easy access to too many guns and take them to too many places to inflict too much harm. We are better than this.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Japete,

    The article you linked to seems to be mistaken. The Huffington Post article seems to suggest that a majority of respondents in the Gallup poll support a ban of assault/semi-automatic weapons.

    "A proposed ban on semi-automatic guns, however, earns a much smaller majority of support."

    However when you go to the poll itself that the article linked to, it shows that assertion to be incorrect.

    "Nevertheless, Americans' views on the sale of assault rifles are unchanged. The slight majority, 51%, remain opposed to making it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles."

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/159569/americans-stricter-gun-laws-oppose-bans.aspx

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    1. Did you read my post or did you just feel like arguing, Mark?

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