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.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"The guys with the guns"

I have posted many times on this blog the video of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre proclaiming that the "guys with the guns make the rules". Indeed, it appears as if that is exactly what some in the gun rights extremist arena believe. Just check out what current NRA President David Keane said recently:
National Rifle Association President David Keene warned Monday that there will be a "very rough and very ugly" over gun control, but said he believes his group will ultimately succeed in derailing new legislation. 
"Around the country, the tide is turning on these questions," Keene told influential conservatives at the New York Meeting. "It's going to be a very rough and very ugly battle, as many of you have already seen."
"Fortunately, our enemy doesn't have any guns and they don't know how to use them," he added. 
So the obvious question is what does this mean? There is certainly a veiled and maybe not so veiled threat. First of all, it isn't true that the "enemy", whoever they are, don't have guns nor know how to use them. The National Sports Shooting Foundation just came out against the NRA's refusal to support common sense gun laws, most especially universal background checks. From the article:
The nation's top gun manufacturing trade association said it would not oppose efforts to expand background checks, according to an interview with the group's president in The Washington Post.
"That’s more the NRA’s issue,” Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told the paper in an article published Tuesday. "From the commercial side, we’re already there, and we’ve been there, and we were the ones that have been the strongest proponents of an effective, complete background check."
Such support for expanding background checks from a top gun trade association could be key to the push by President Barack Obama and some in Congress to pass legislation on background checks in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting in Newtown, Conn. The bill appeared to be losing some steam in the Senate Tuesday, as congressional aides and gun advocates expect Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to withdraw his support for the bill.
The trade group is coincidentally also based in Newtown, just about three miles from the school. The Huffington Post's Christina Wilikie and Safi Knafo profiled the group last December. More recently, the group has focused on marketing military-style assault weapons, of the kind used in the Newtown shooting.
The association's position contrasts with the National Rifle Association's opposition to more stringent background checks. However, in the wake of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, the group supported instant background checks at gun shows.
So who exactly is the enemy again? Presumably the folks who belong to the NSSF have guns and know how to use them. And yet, they support background checks on all gun sales. Keene's tactics of fear and paranoia are not only wrong, they are foolish and possibly dangerous. This "meme" is going around on Facebook to make the point about Keene's latest hyperbolic comments:

And further, of course, is the mantra that everyone should arm themselves against everyone else who is not "like them". This makes whites feel as if blacks and Latin gangs are out to get them so be armed. This makes black people feel vulnerable just in case a white "red neck" American is out to get them. This likely makes "red necks" feel as if someone, perhaps President Obama himself, will come to their doors to confiscate their guns. This article talks about this latest fear and paranoia coming from NRA lobbyists and leaders. 
In the NRA’s world, there are thick, bright lines between racial communities that cannot be crossed.  And no one speaks for, to or within these communities.  They just arm themselves against each other and hunker down for the worst.  This trio of rhetorical broadsides by the NRA tells white and Asian people to arm themselves against Blacks, whites to arm themselves against Hispanics and Blacks, and Blacks to arm themselves against whites, Asians and Hispanics.  The overall effect reveals one of two things.  Either the NRA is run by people who seriously need a mental health intervention pronto.  Or the NRA is so thoroughly wedded to selling guns at all costs that it has gagged any semblance of decency it may once have had, tied it to a column in a dank basement and uses it as target practice.
Together, these quotes are similar to a prediction revealed to the public in 1970 that, after a few murders, Blacks would rise up, starting a race war.  Whites would start fighting amongst themselves, leaving the country to the Blacks.  Blacks wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibility and would hand responsibility over to the Asians.  That was the prediction made by Charles Manson.  And in Wayne LaPierre’s head, it still rings just as true today as it did then.
And last, speaking of fighting against those who the "other", how about the militia groups who are ready for anarchy? A new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center has some alarming data about the increase in groups ready for anything and arming themselves heavily:
The number of anti-government “patriot” groups, including paramilitary hate organizations, reached an all-time high in 2012, fanned by President Barack Obama's reelection and talk of gun control following the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Patriot groups -- those dedicated to federal government overthrow in the belief it will confiscate weapons and impose socialism -- expanded in number and size for the fourth consecutive year, the law center said. The groups' recruiting was fueled by the sluggish economy, anxieties about the country’s shifting demographics and their ability to push their ideas and conspiracy theories into the mainstream, the report said. The growth intensified at the end of 2012 with the election and the school massacre.
“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” wrote Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and a member of the Department of Homeland Security working group on violent extremism. (...) 
The law center found 1,360 patriot groups in 2012 -– an 813 percent rise since 2008, the year before Obama took office. Of those groups, 321 constitute militias. The law center also found a near-record 1,007 hate groups with animus directed at minorities, gay men, lesbians, and transgender individuals in 2012. That's a slight decline from the 1,018 groups counted in 2011.
Potok said law enforcement authorities in 2011 intercepted one patriot group member headed towards El Paso, Texas, where he planned to equip patriot groups near the U.S.-Mexico border with devices from his arsenal of homemade explosive devices.
That same year, the most recent for which detailed federal hate crime data is available, law enforcement agencies in the U.S. reported a total of 6,222 hate crime incidents. Of these, about 46.9 percent were racially motivated crimes and about 12 percent centered around the victim’s actual or presumed ethnic or national identity. Nearly 21 percent stemmed from sexual-orientation bias and 20 percent by religious bigotry. About one percent of the nation’s hate crime stemmed from. 
Yikes!!! The fear and paranoia coming from NRA lobbyists is only fanning the flames of these extremists. In addition, I have written about the threats from the gun rights extremists in states where gun laws are under consideration. Here is yet another to add to the list- an Oregon Representative was threatened and cancelled a town hall meeting. From the article:
State Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, says she's creeped out by the video posted on YouTube of her doing chores around her home.
The anonymous poster wrote that Burdick lied about why she canceled a town hall on gun control at Portland State University.
KATU News asked Burdick Wednesday why she said there was a scheduling conflict when the video shows she stayed at home.
She said her office has been getting thousands of threatening and hostile emails about antigun bills.
She sent KATU News a few examples. One talked about lynching, another mentioned Hitler and Stalin. Burdick says it would have been foolish to hold a town hall in that kind of environment on a college campus.
"I've had town halls crashed by the extremist gun lobbyists before," she said. "They do not make life pleasant when they do that. They're disruptive and rude, and I didn't want to subject the students at Portland State to that kind of behavior."
Inexcusable. Dangerous. In my last post, I talked about examining the gun culture in America that has led to our weak gun laws and thus the high number of gun deaths. This is a real part of the gun rights extremists who have managed to change the second amendment into a call to arms. This is a dangerous view of the world and could lead to some bad things. Let's hope they don't believe their own rhetoric. But they are, remember, the folks with the guns who think the rest of us are folks without who don't know how to use them so they may feel free to take out those guns and act. We should be concerned about this. Ever since President Obama was elected, the groups who represent this fringe view have increased dramatically. Many of these people are armed to the teeth. They are ready. Ready for what? And oddly and inexplicably, the shooting of 20 first graders on 12/14 has managed to scare them even more. This is a sick and twisted way to respond to the massacre of little children.

Where is common sense? It certainly isn't with these militia groups and guys with guns who threaten lawmakers and stock up their guns for anarchy. We are better than this. A discussion about protecting our communities from the devastation of gun violence should not lead to this crazy rhetoric and certainly should not lead to potential crazy actions. Let's get to work and let's make sure we call out crazy and dangerous for what it is. And let's also make sure we are all safe from the crazy folks with the guns. Threats are to be taken very seriously when they come from armed citizens who are supposedly law abiding.

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