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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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Don't mess with the corporate gun lobby

I know first hand what it's like to challenge the pro gun enthusiasts and believers. They question everything I write. They don't like what I write. They call me names. They tell me I'm lying. They accuse me of being emotional because I write true stories about victims and then have the nerve to support measures to keep more people from becoming victims. They provide me with their own sources for information and are sure that theirs are the right ones. It's absurd really.

But when one of their own dares to stray from the talking points, watch out. I wrote previously on this blog about the dismissal of writer Dick Metcalf from Guns & Ammo magazine. Now he is speaking out about what happened to him: 
The backlash was swift, and fierce. Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Death threats poured in by email. His television program was pulled from the air.
Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said “in no uncertain terms” that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there. He was let go immediately.
“I’ve been vanished, disappeared,” Mr. Metcalf, 67, said in an interview last month on his gun range here, about 100 miles north of St. Louis, surrounded by snow-blanketed fields and towering grain elevators. “Now you see him. Now you don’t.”
He is unsure of his next move, but fears he has become a pariah in the gun industry, to which, he said, he has devoted nearly his entire adult life.
Death threats? Just for talking about common sense gun reform? Yes. It happens. The corporate gun lobby and those who follow them don't like anyone to stray from their message of more guns everywhere and few regulations on those guns and their owners. It sells guns after all. It keeps folks in a state of fear and paranoia. That serves a purpose politically as well. Sometimes these folks "accidentally" speak the truth of the matter. More from the article:
His experience sheds light on the close-knit world of gun journalism, where editors and reporters say there is little room for nuance in the debate over gun laws. Moderate voices that might broaden the discussion from within are silenced. When writers stray from the party line promoting an absolutist view of an unfettered right to bear arms, their publications — often under pressure from advertisers — excommunicate them.
“We are locked in a struggle with powerful forces in this country who will do anything to destroy the Second Amendment,” said Richard Venola, a former editor of Guns & Ammo. “The time for ceding some rational points is gone.”
So the "time for ceding some rational points is gone." We can't have a rational discussion, apparently, with these folks. That should tell us all we need to know about why we are having so much trouble passing stronger gun laws. The gun magazines, of course, have a right to do whatever they want. And what they want is to make money from advertisements for guns and related products. From the article again:
Editors of gun magazines are unapologetic in acknowledging that their content caters to the gun enthusiasts who believe their rights are under constant threat, and to the firearms companies that account for much of their revenue. At some magazines, said Jan Libourel, a former editor of both Guns & Ammo Handguns and Gun World magazines, “the editors only want editorial content for some key advertisers.” (...) Reporters and editors say that reviews are often written in close consultation with manufacturers. If a gun is judged to be of poor quality, magazines will quietly send it back for improvements rather than writing a negative review. The system is broadly accepted at these publications, gun writers say.
So I guess reasonable discourse is not possible, according to Metcalf:
Mr. Metcalf said he invited a reporter to his home because he despairs that the debate over gun policy in America is so bitterly polarized and dominated by extreme voices. He says he is still contemplating how a self-described “Second Amendment fundamentalist” who keeps a .38 snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver within easy reach has been ostracized from his community.
“Compromise is a bad word these days,” he said. “People think it means giving up your principles.”
What principles? What happened to discourse? When people disagree, they should at least be able to understand that there is more than one side to an issue. We won't all agree. That is true for many who read my blog. They won't agree with my views. But that doesn't mean anyone's life should be threatened because of a disagreement. Incendiary rhetoric coming from people with guns is not acceptable. Too many lives are lost to bullets because of disagreements and moments of rage. And should't we be better than this? At some point the facts matter as well. When 30,000 lives a year are lost to gun violence, isn't that a fact that should propel us to action?

As an aside, while linking to the Guns & Ammo site I found an article about a good sniper rifle. In the article the writer pointed out that a lighter weight sniper rifle was much better for the shooter. And it seems like this kind of gun is used in maybe mountainous areas for hunting large animals? But for what else can a gun like this be used? Snipers and sniper rifles make us think of war or of law enforcement tactical units or shooters at the ready to shoot other people from a distance. We are not talking about the guns of our founding fathers here. These are the guns available to just about anyone in the U.S. But I digress.

So how did we get to this place? We do know that the majority of NRA members and gun owners favor at the least, background checks on all gun sales. So who are these people who are so uncompromising? The NRA of today is simply not the same organization of our own fathers and grandfathers. This article from Salon.com sheds some light on the matter. From the article:
For nearly a century after, its founding in 1871, the National Rifle Association was among America’s foremost pro-gun control organizations. It was not until 1977 when the NRA that Americans know today emerged, after libertarians who equated owning a gun with the epitome of freedom and fomented widespread distrust against government—if not armed insurrection—emerged after staging a hostile leadership coup. 
There is much more of interest in this article that reveals the changes to the NRA over time and helps explain today's well funded lobby organization, now opposed to pretty much all proposed stronger gun laws. We need to understand who the corporate gun lobby is because of the fierce opposition to common sense even in the face of national and tragic massacres of small school children. We need to understand why this group is so opposed to life saving measures and reasonable gun laws. Clearly this view of the world is different from that of the majority of Americans. Armed insurrectionists is not what the founding fathers had in mind when the second amendment was written.

So what about those gun laws which have been around as long as Americans have owned guns? From this article:
If the history of gun laws in America has any relevance to the definition of modern gun rights — and the Supreme Court in its Second Amendment rulings has said it does — then virtually no gun laws, including outright bans, are beyond the pale.
While gun ownership is as old as America, so are gun laws. Early gun laws restricted native Americans, slaves, indentured servants, vagrants, non-Protestants, those who refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the government, felons and foreigners from owning or possessing guns, and placed numerous restrictions on the recreational use of them.
Early laws also regulated the manufacture, inspection and sale of firearms, as well as placing restrictions on gun storage and discharge. Others prohibited not only the firing of guns in or near towns, but firing after dark, on Sundays, in public places, near roads or while under the influence of alcohol.
As weapons became more prolific in the 19th century, state regulations also proliferated, commonly criminalizing not only the carrying of firearms, but the mere brandishing or display of guns, such as a law against exhibiting “the said deadly weapons in a rude, angry or threatening manner.” Other laws made it a crime to “draw or threaten to use” a firearm.
After the Civil War, six states banned handguns outright, and one state, Wyoming, banned all firearms from “any city, town or village.”
In the early 20th century, most states banned fully automatic weapons. And as if anticipating the current, much-disputed semi-automatic assault weapons restrictions, at least seven states in the 1920s and early 1930s banned semi-automatic weapons entirely, as well as certain gun accessories like silencers and — you guessed it — large-capacity bullet magazines.
What happened to us? Gun laws are meant to save lives and make us all safer in our communities. The gun lobby, much changed since the days when they actually supported strong gun laws, view gun laws as evil- or at least the ones supported by gun violence prevention advocates. This is a gun culture gone wrong.

And on another note relevant to a recent exchange in the comment section of my blog, I ran across this article about tyranny and the claims made by the NRA lobbyists and leaders concerning the subject. It's a long and interesting article about how we got to the point of some Americans believing that they need their arsenals to fight against a tyrannical government ( their own). So let's take a look:
But if LaPierre feels there’s a risk of tyranny today, let him say it clearly. Who has the power to subjugate the United States today? From where does he expect this tyranny to emerge? If he knows something about an approaching police state, it really is his patriotic duty to inform Congress.
He didn't reveal anything but he implies it clearly enough. The threat that Americans must be armed against is their own government. He certainly wasn’t talking about an Iranian invasion or a Neo-Soviet Russia, Communist China. This tyrant will be home-grown.
In fact, LaPierre is advocating- without using the exact words- the right not merely to own a weapon but to overthrow his own government through armed force. Senators neglected to ask the most important question to LaPierre: who exactly decides what is and what is not tyranny? And the second most important question: Who decides the appropriate response to tyrannical rule?
Apparently, according to the NRA, anybody with enough firepower.
Again, this is a long article with a lot of information about gun laws and the incendiary rhetoric used by the gun lobby against reasonable measures to keep us safe from the devastation of gun violence affecting our families and our communities. At the end of the article, the writer says this:
This point of view has consistently been challenged by many in the NRA. Opponents of assault-weapons bans said that- Reagan or no Reagan- the premise flatly wrong. Law-abiding civilians do have a legitimate interest in combat. That interest, they say, is having a well-armed military defense against authority. Defense of the home means defense of the homeland.
Protecting America from tyranny is, in their eyes, having the sufficient weaponry to effectively rebel against authority. A sort of constitutional right to have the enough firearms to defy the government if you don't agree with its policies.
That's a view apparently endorsed by the NRA. That's what LaPierre thinks, even after the Oklahoma City bombings. Even after thousands of examples in history and in our own times in the Middle-East and elsewhere where people are constantly deciding for themselves who the tyrants are.
Unfortunately for the NRA, that, to the outside observer looks a lot like treason.
Indeed. There is reason for concern. Some of my readers hold these beliefs. I am at a loss sometimes at the comments sent to me. They are ugly and offensive and accusatory as if I was an evil person and a mortal enemy. Nothing could be further from the truth. I live in a household with guns. I grew up in a hunting household. My Dad taught me how to shoot a hunting rifle. My husband is a hunter. Many of our friends are hunters and gun owners. But none of them believe we shouldn't pass stronger gun laws. And none of them believe they need their guns to fight against their own government. This is a frightening and paranoid version of America that is shared by a well armed minority.

We in the gun violence prevention world understand that passing stronger gun laws will not solve all of our gun violence problems in America. But the excuse that passing an expanded background check law will "only" save some lives or passing a ban on certain types of assault rifles and high capacity magazines will maybe only prevent a few mass shootings is not acceptable. When the victims are your own, it changes everything. That was not the argument when passing laws requiring seat belts and air bags. No one thought those laws would prevent all automobile accident fatalities. But collectively we knew it would make a lot of people safer from injuries and deaths and it was worth doing because over time, many lives would be saved. When Mothers Against Drunk Driving, founded by people who had lost loved ones to drunk driving accidents, drove the debate, laws changed. There were few who could reasonably disagree that driving while drunk was a good idea.

In America, we also allow loaded guns to be carried in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in many communities. Guns and drinking also don't go together. In America we often pass regulations and do research about public health and safety issues. In almost every case, we understand that we are making progress towards saving lives and preventing illness or injury. We support flu shots, mammograms, colonoscopies, testing for certain diseases, no smoking in public places, speed limit laws, recalls of baby cribs and toys, stopping the import of tainted pet food, and many other things. Why? Because we care that people are getting sick or injured. We care when people die. We want to make it better. We want our children to be safe. We don't want our family members to get sick or die if we can do something to prevent it from happening. That is common sense.

Preventing families from the devastation of gun violence that my own family has suffered is the reason I do what I do.  Because it happened to my family, I know it can happen to any family. And again and again, I thank Joe Nocera who writes The Gun Report for the New York times. Here is his latest week-end report of daily gun deaths and injuries. This is what this is all about. The idea that gun rights extremists are more concerned about protecting themselves from a fictional tyrannical government than about those actual people who were actually shot in just one week-end in America should concern us all. If we don't do this for the victims then for whom?

Gun laws matter. Stronger gun laws can make a difference and provide us with safer communities. There is no hidden agenda. The agenda is prevention. The agenda is valuing the lives of our families, friends and community members. What we have now is clearly not working. As a country we are better than this and we need to work together for the changes we deserve and want. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

A friend sent me a link to a Texas radio ad for a concealed handgun permit class.I guess there's no compromising with this guy. If you are a socialist liberal and voted for President Obama, the instructor won't teach you. Or if you are a "non Christian or a Muslim", for goodness sake, don't bother taking the class. This is the kind of uncompromising rhetoric coming from the gun rights extremists that ramps up the fear and and paranoia that leads to folks believing in their mythical tyrannical government theory. You can listen here:



Unacceptable.









2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention of the Nomadic Politics post. Glad you liked it. I have also added links (at the bottom of the post) which you might also find interesting.

    NRA's Enemies List: Everybody's in the Cross-Hairs

    What the NRA Doesn’t Want You to Know: The Fallacy of Democracy and Gun-Ownership Rights -

    Thanks again for your support.

    ReplyDelete