Note to this group who met last October- Terry McAuliffe is now the Governor of Virginia. I guess their strategy didn't work out very well in that state's election. In fact, McAuliffe openly supported common sense gun laws and won in spite of efforts by the gun lobby. There's much more in this article that informs us about how the gun lobby is reacting to the changes happening in the gun violence prevention movement. One thing is clear. This group hates former Mayor Michael Bloomberg who founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Why? Because finally there is someone on the side of gun violence prevention with money and influence to make change. Thanks to Bloomberg and the many other groups involved in the movement to change the conversation about guns and gun violence, change is beginning to happen. The Brady Campaign, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, Violence Policy Center, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Newtown Action, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and many other groups, including those working in states all over the country are contributing to the new landscape that makes the gun lobby so nervous.The notion that gun rights are basic civil and human rights is today at the very center of the movement's political and legal strategies. The idea literally hung over last weekend's GRPC proceedings in the form of a stage banner reading, "EQUAL GUN RIGHTS." Under it, speakers compared gun-policy reformers to segregationists and Nazis. Massad Ayoob, a Second Amendment Foundation board member, ended a defense of Stand Your Ground laws with Blackstone's statement that "self-defense is the highest of all human rights." John Lott, the pro-gun academic, spoke of gun taxes as modern day poll taxes. "We need a document on how high fees and licensing taxes reduce gun ownership and are discriminatory," he said. Alan Korwin, author of 13 books on guns, said reformers "want to treat [gun owners] like the Negroes at the lunch counter."It's worth noting that Korwin is considered the Frank Luntz of the pro-gun movement. Lauded by multiple speakers, he is the author of a "politically corrected" gun glossary designed to focus the gun debate around a language of rights. This lexicon, he believes, is key in wooing America's growing Latino population, which he sees holding the line against the gun-reform youth edge. "Some form of amnesty is coming," said Korwin, "and when they become citizens, they get the Second Amendment. That's 20 million people able to buy a gun and go to a range. They're slaves in Mexico. They're gonna come here and find out what freedom is about and come over to our side." (...)"What came out of Newtown was the threat represented by Michael Bloomberg," said Jeff Knox, a World Net Daily columnist who heads the hardline Firearms Coalition. "The conglomeration of groups and forces he funds is the greatest threat that we face right now. We must make the name Bloomberg a poison pill in the political community, so that anything remotely related to his money is Dead On Arrival. We slammed him in Colorado, next is Virginia, where he's backing [Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry] McAuliffe."Virginia's gubernatorial race is high on the pro-gun agenda. But the SAF and its network of lawyers and activist groups are active in all 50 states. They consider every inch of legislative ground in every one of them sacred turf. This includes even "hard cases" like New York, where SAF lawyers have filed suit against the SAFE Act, the law passed earlier this year in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting, which tightens the state's ban on assault weapons, requires background checks for every gun sale, and strengthens penalties for selling guns illegally. "You don't win battles by playing defense," said Gottlieb in his opening remarks before a state legislative affairs briefing. "We have a record number of bills in statehouses in blue states."At the state level, the movement is on a roll. Speakers from a dozen states rattled off impressive records -- defeating proposed gun reforms and weakening those already on the books. Sean Caranna, of FloridaCarry.org, waxed confident about the chances for relaxing his state's carry laws so that revealing a gun during an argument is less likely to be prosecuted as aggravated assault or improper escalation of force. Jim Irvine, of Ohio's Buckeye Firearms Association, explained how Republican legislators are playing defense, allowing them to play offense on issues like open carry, Stand Your Ground, and gun training for teachers. Irvine told the crowd to act locally but think and link nationally, that a victory or defeat for one is a victory or defeat for all. "Like Hitler and the Nazis," said Irvine, "Bloomberg looks for targets he can pick off. The idea is to take those one at a time, until there's nobody left except you."
Change will only happen when the truth is exposed. The truth is that only some gun sales require background checks and others not. They are all selling the same products. Guns are all potentially dangerous. They should all be treated the same as say cigarettes where store clerks ask for IDs for anyone who looks too young to legally buy them. In addition, cigarettes are now behind counters where someone has to ask for them. Why? Because we have decided that they are bad for your health and not good especially for kids and teens. Alcohol sales are regulated as well. IDs are required for purchases if the buyer looks too young to be legal. Why? Alcohol can be bad for people as well. But all alcohol sales are treated the same. All cigarette sales are treated the same. Sales of some decongestants have been moved behind the counter where buyers must ask for them. Why? They can lead to illegal drug production and use. These restrictions just make common sense and we don't seem to object to these changes because we have learned the truth about the risks and dangers involved. It is for the common good in the interest of public health and safety. Guns and their owners should be treated the same. But they aren't. And that is a problem.
Guns are dangerous and pose a risk to those who own them and carry them in public places. We should think about that when we allow people to buy them without background checks. But more than that, there should be more attention paid to these risks. So why are we not doing more about those risks and studying the risks like we do for other products and services? Because the corporate gun lobby doesn't want us to. Just read this article- yet another of many I have read recently about the gun lobby's self interest and how it reframes the discussion about guns and gun violence. From the article:
We all know that talking about guns and gun violence comes with a lot of controversy. It shouldn't. There is pretty much wide spread agreement that we should be requiring background checks on all gun sales. There is also agreement on some of the other controversial gun measures that have been proposed and have failed over the years. Why? The corporate gun lobby doesn't want us to agree on solutions. Instead of joining us in efforts to stem the tide of gun violence, many in the gun rights community go in the opposite direction and actually flaunt their guns in public to make some kind of point.It is worth putting the United States’ exceptional gun violence problem into perspective. The country´s firearm homicide rate is over six times higher than neighboring Canada’s, and 45 times as high as England’s. With the highest rates of gun homicide, suicide and accidental death in the industrialized world, it is not surprising that Americans also feel afraid.The percentage of Americans who fear walking alone at night has increased since 2001 to nearly 4 in 10 in 2011. And yet national authorities have consistently refused introducing measures to curb gun violence. Strangely, Congress has opted instead to undermine gun control legislation, curb gun safety awareness, and abandon violence prevention programs, including some that registered positive results.Meanwhile, in many states, laws intended to promote the responsible use of guns are being repealed. Instead, legislation that reproduces irresponsible firearms use – including so-called “stand your ground” laws – are being pursued. So what explains America’s reversal on gun control? (...)Concerted efforts to roll back progressive gun regulation began by stealth. They started with quiet lobbying campaigns to reduce American citizens` capacity to diagnose firearm-related violence and thus fully apprehend the magnitude of the problem. In 1996 under considerable pressure from the pro-gun lobby, Congress de-funded firearms-related public health research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by 96 percent. To put this in perspective, resources devoted to firearms research constituted just 0.0018 percent of the CDC´s 2013 budget. Given that firearm deaths constitute around 1.3 percent of total national mortality, it could be reasonably argued that the CDC’s gun-related research program should have been roughly 722 times larger.Meanwhile, the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been prohibited since 1978 from compiling meaningful data on firearms sales. Moreover, its field offices in states bordering Mexico where illegal arms trafficking is rife are underfunded and understaffed.
In Austin, Texas, a bunch ( not very many actually) decided to march around at a festive event with their long guns openly carried. One must be pretty dedicated to a cause if one is willing to walk around with a long gun hanging on one's body. How inconvenient could that be? They get in the way while walking or perhaps running, while carrying a baby for goodness' sake or while trying to sit down. But if one sits down, the gun comes off and then where does one put it? And why do this anyway? We are not at war. There is no need for these guns in public places.
Speaking of Texas and searching for the truth, here is the truth about armed folks who shoot first and ask questions later. A man, armed with a handgun, found a teen-aged boy in his daughter's bedroom in the middle of the night. From the article:
OK. Let's talk about this one. No father wants to find a boy in his teen-aged daughter's bedroom during the night. That would be cause for anger and concern. But the boy was not armed, right? Was this self defense? Of course not. Did this boy deserve to die over this indiscretion? Absolutely not. Gun toting hot heads pulling out their guns in any and all situations are dangerous. And now this man had panic attacks? That's the least of his problems I would say. The truth is that he should have thought this through before he brought his loaded gun with him down the hall. If I heard noises in my daughter's bedroom when I knew she was home and in her bed, I would not be expecting an intruder. I would think about some other reason why noises were happening. As it turns out, of course, there were other reasons. Without the gun, a confrontation, an argument. He kicks the boy out of the house- maybe calls his parents. He reprimands his daughter. Everyone lives. Now, the lives of many people have been affected and a young life has been taken needlessly by a law abiding gun owner with a quick trigger finger. Do the gun rights extremists expect us to believe that this is the reason people need their loaded guns around them at all times? The truth is that guns in the home are more likely to kill you or someone you know or love than to be used in self defense. Something has to change.Herman said the man told investigators he heard noises in his home and went to investigate. He encountered the 17-year-old boy in his daughter's bedroom. There was a confrontation and the teen was shot. He died at the scene.No other injuries were reported. However, Herman said, the father complained of possible panic attacks after the shooting and was taken to a nearby hospital.
And speaking of what the gun rights extremists are trying to get others to believe, check out what this right wing talk radio commenter said about left wing academics. Quoted from the linked article:
"That is the nonsense that they teach in women’s studies at Duke University, this is where she learned this. The toxic stew of the modern university is gender studies, it’s “Sex Week,” they all have “Sex Week” and teaching people how to be sex-positive and overcome the patriarchy. My daughters go to a little private religious school and we pay an arm and a leg for it precisely to keep them away from all of this kind of nonsense. I do hope that they go to a Christian college or university and to keep them so far away from the hard left, human-hating people that run modern universities, who should all be taken out and shot."Bad idea and certainly not the truth nor the way to practice Christianity. At least not in my faith tradition. In fact, this will make a change in the opposite direction if listeners believe what Ruse said and act on what he said. This kind of talk adds to the polarization of the gun issue. If we are truly to make changes that will save lives, we have to call out this kind of extremism. If the corporate gun lobby would step up and denounce this kind of hate and dangerous rhetoric, we might get somewhere. Will they?
For if the gun lobby would join those of us who want to prevent senseless and tragic shootings, they would tell people not to leave loaded guns lying around in homes. A recent Arizona teen murder/suicide could have been prevented if that was a national public health and safety platform that we all supported. From the article:
Anyone over 18 can purchase a long gun in Arizona and over 21 to purchase a handgun. Another legally purchased gun used in a tragic shooting.Authorities say the gun used by a Phoenix teenager to fatally shoot his ex-girlfriend and then himself belonged to his older brother.Phoenix police announced Tuesday that the gun was legally possessed and was kept in a locked bedroom.They say it appears that the 15-year-old boy broke an outside window, stole the gun and got a ride from a friend to a north Phoenix home last Friday.Police investigators say 16-year-old Anastasia "Ana" Greer was at the home of a friend and was running when she was shot.
Speaking of a legally purchased gun, I want to add an article about the total hypocrisy of some gun rights advocates. It turns out that the man who shot a man at a Florida theater for texting during the movie was himself texting before he shot the man. You can't make this stuff up. And he wants us to believe it was a self defense shooting? For texting? Really? This has to change.
Joe Nocera in his latest post of The Gun Report quotes the NRA's own Wayne LaPierre from his recent CPAC speech. Here is some of the quote from the linked article:
Nevertheless, “Freedom has never needed our defense more than now,” LaPierre thundered from the stage. “Almost everywhere you look, something has gone wrong. The core values we believe in, the things we care about most, are changing. Eroding. It’s why more and more Americans are buying firearms and ammunition — not to cause trouble, but because we sense that America is already in trouble.”Yes. something has gone wrong all right. The things we care about are changing. The people we care about are getting shot. If you don't believe me, read the rest of Nocera's column. Does Mr. Wayne LaPierre get that this many Americans are being shot every day in America? And many of them are shot by loved ones or friends with legally purchased guns. The first 4 entries in this edition are about children shot accidentally with guns found in their homes. God help us.
This week-end is gun violence prevention Sabbath. Congregations all over the U.S. are coming together to support reasonable gun laws and change the conversation about guns and gun violence. This link is from the website of the United Church of Christ, my denomination. From the link:
Congregations across the nation are joining the Washington National Cathedral and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence to remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of the loss of a loved one, and to continue the discussion on how communities of faith can work together to help reduce gun violenceLives are forever changed by gun violence. Faith communities can speak out and make a difference for change in our communities. I will be participating in one of these sabbath events on Sunday. I hope you will all find a faith community near you and find out what you can do to effect change. Check out the Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence for more information. Participants will be singing, reflecting and hoping for non violence to become more prevalent than the violence that is so pervasive in America. They may even pray for truth and justice. Based on the few incidents I wrote about in this post, I would say that prayer will not be enough. Action is what is needed to enact the changes we deserve. We know we can do better so let's get to work.