Whenever a bunch of Americans get together to celebrate a display of deadly weapons, it's a moment to reflect on what this is really all about. Yes, there are trade shows for other things like cars, boats, etc. People come to see what's new and to think about what they might want to buy. But we are talking about firearms here. We are talking about the weapons that flow so freely in America and cause so much devastation in our communities. These are not just guns used for hunting and self defense. A good many of them are weapons designed to kill as many people at one time as possible. Yes, the people who attend are ostensibly law abiding gun owners and good Americans. But do they really understand what this is all about? This isn't just about supporting gun owners, hunting sports and recreational shooting. This is about so much more."The centerpiece of the meeting will be the largest gun industry trade show of new weaponry open to the public, revealing the increasing dominance of military-style assault rifles and assault pistols in the gun industry’s product line, as well as powerful compact pistols for concealed carry. The NRA’s website describes the trade show as offering “spectacular displays of firearms.”The NRA will also use the meeting as an opportunity to honor its multi-million-dollar donors in the gun industry, known as “corporate partners.” Members of the gun industry have donated between $19.3 million and $60.2 million to the NRA since 2005, as detailed in the recent VPC study Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA.At the meeting, the NRA will hold a Ring of Freedom Brunch to honor donors, including gun industry representatives, that have given a million dollars or more to the organization. Honorees are inducted into the so-called Golden Ring of Freedom and given yellow sports coats.Last year’s inductees into the Golden Ring of Freedom included Freedom Group (now Remington Outdoor Company), the company that made the Bushmaster assault rifle used to kill 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. Another inductee last year wasSmith & Wesson, the company that manufactured the M&P pistol used at the recent shooting at Fort Hood, as well as the M&P assault rifle used in the July 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. (M&P stands for Military and Police.)"
The star studded event will surely continue the fear and paranoia so endemic at NRA conventions. Media Matters writes about who will be the convention. From the article:
Really? That's who they've got? Sarah Palin is a fading star if she ever was one. What in the world does she have to say about guns and gun violence that is important to anyone but those in the room? (Hint- it starts with the letter "f" and ends with "reedom") Right. Wayne LaPierre? Sigh. More on him later. Ted Nugent? Seriously? They want to have him rant offensively to get the crowd going? This is who they bring to their convention? Pay attention America. This is not your father's NRA any more. Ted Nugent is a rude and ludicrous clown who serves on the Board of the NRA. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has a truck with some quotes from Nugent on the sides and refers folks to their Meet The NRA website where you can read more about the fine upstanding citizens who serve on the board of one of the nation's most influential lobby groups. From the article:Far-right conservative figures are a mainstay of these annual meeting events. During last year's Stand and Fight Rally, keynote speaker Glenn Beck depicted then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, in a Nazi salute, leading to condemnation from Jewish groups. Other presentations at the 2013 meeting reaffirmed the NRA's hardline stance following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the claim of new NRA president Jim Porter that President Obama would seek "revenge" against gun owners.In addition to the NRA's own bombastic CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, this year's meeting will feature Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin, radio host Mark Levin, religious hardliner Franklin Graham, and others known for their extreme right-wing rhetoric:
A fine group the NRA leadership is. You can check it out for yourself at MeetTheNRA.org. It's worth noting that the NRA lobbyists and leaders do not really represent their members. 75% of the rank and file NRA members actually want background checks on all gun sales. Not so their leaders. Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign addressed that yesterday on Ronan Farrow Daily. It's the "guys in the suits" that are the problem here. It's the corporate gun lobby fomenting all of the fear and paranoia.His group is responsible for the mobile billboard that will begin making the rounds Friday morning Downtown.“Our goal, “ Horwitz explained, “is to make sure people are aware that what was once an organization of marksmen and game hunters is now a network of individuals who promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-immigrant animus, religious bigotry, anti-environmentalism, and insurrectionism.”An NRA spokesman said the association had no comment on the protest.In addition to displaying quotes from NRA officials, the mobile billboard will direct people to visit MeetTheNRA.org, a website maintained by the sister organization of the coalition, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.
Also holding a meeting in Indianapolis is the group Moms Demand Action/Every Town for Gun Safety. The "coincidence" of these two groups meeting in the same city will be interesting. A new ad has been released showing actual victims of gun violence using the words of the NRA to make their point that more guns have not made us safer. Check it out:
Meanwhile, back at the Bundy ranch, this was happening:
In the background, a singer with an American-flag guitar warms up the stage with a raspy hollering he explains as Tibetan throat singing. Suddenly noticing a man off to the side shaking maracas, he stops and grips the mic:"Is there really a black man in the house?” A lone “whoo” goes up from the folding chairs. "You’re with the media, right?” The cameraman nods, and the singer returns his focus to the folding chairs. “So, are we racists here today? That’s how they’re trying to spin this one — this is good. Channel 13 came at me the other day — a cute little blonde, of course. They sent her at me, y’know, go get the story! Go get the radical…” The generator cuts out, silencing the mic, and the story about how he isn’t a racist is lost. (...)
It speaks for itself. There's more in this article written for Esquire but it's ugly and disgusting. Who are these folks? As I said in my last post, there is an ugly underbelly living amongst us which is being exposed with the Cliven Bundy case. They come with their guns and their offensive remarks as if they are right and they have rights to say and do whatever they want. There is, of course, no common sense to any of this. How many more of these kinds of folks are lurking in the shadows of our country?A self-trained lawyer tells me the same. He adds that Bar-certified lawyers, like the ones who prosecuted Bundy, have sworn loyalty to the British government, whose statutes encourage sex with clients. “That’s what they do with all their clients.”
One has to ask where these folks come by their anti government anti American sentiments. Back in Indianapolis, you can hear some of the same stuff. Let's look at what NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre had to say yesterday at the convention:
This is code for the anti-government speak that comes out of the mouths of the folks who supported ( before they didn't) Cliven Bundy. This scary view of America is in the minds of those who carry their guns around wherever they go. Who and what exactly are they afraid of? Their own government?Overall crime is down in America. But if you are the corporate gun lobby you need people to believe crime is the main enemy so those who believe in this flawed "wisdom" should buy guns to protect themselves from "vicious waves of chemicals or disease" and the "haters" "knock-out gamers" and "home invaders". Ugly stuff this."You feel it in your heart, you know it in your gut," LaPierre said, according to a transcript prepared by the NRA. "Something has gone wrong. The core values we believe in, the things we care about most, are changing. Eroding. Our right to speak. Our right to gather. Our right to privacy. The freedom to work, and practice our religion, and raise and protect our families the way we see fit."The "core values" of the nation, LaPierre said, are "slipping away." LaPierre painted a picture of a country "in trouble.""In virtually every way, for the things we care about most, we feel profound loss," he said. "We're sad not because we fear something is going wrong, but because we know something already has gone wrong. 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."LaPierre argued that "political dishonesty" and "media dishonesty" have been linked, and that the "elites" are lying to the rest of the country. And he spoke of the IRS as a new weapon wielded by the government. (...)"The IRS is now a weapon," LaPierre said. "A weapon to punish anyone who disagrees with them, and that means every one of you. They try to regulate our religion. They collect our cell phone and email data. They give us Solyndra, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare, massive unemployment, a debt that will choke our grandchildren and one executive order on top of another."As always with LaPierre, the collapse of society was just a few turns of phrase away."We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and knock-out gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all," he said.
Is there a connection between the corporate gun lobby ( aka NRA leaders/gun manufacturers) and Cliven Bundy? Let's take a look, thanks to Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
It was another NRA luminary who suggested putting women in the frontline at Bunkerville. "We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front," saidRichard Mack, the head of the radical Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the NRA's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 1994 while serving as a plaintiff in their litigation to overturn the Brady Law. "If [federal agents are] going to start killing people, I'm sorry, but to show the world how ruthless these people are, women needed to be the first ones shot ... I would have put my own wife or daughters there, and I would have been screaming bloody murder to watch them die."No further comment. Read this great article for yourself about the anti-government Americans living amongst us armed and ready to fight. Horwitz ends with this paragraph ( from the linked article above):
If the NRA continues to stoke the fire with anti-government sentiment and insurrectionist ideology, and pro-gun activists soon get that shooting war that so many of them are itching for, you can be certain that all eyes will turn to that tall, blue-glass building in Fairfax County, Virginia. Talk about "civil war" and violence in the pursuit of "freedom" might sound glamorous in the abstract, but if Americans were to see images of bloody battles, body bags and mourning relatives on their televisions, they would quickly see insurrectionism for what it is: absolute poison to our democratic, virtuous way of life.The collective wisdom of most Americans does not accept this bizarre, hateful and fearful way of life. There is an understanding that America is full of folks whose raison d'etre is to arm everyone and make sure guns are in every nook and cranny of our country. In the real America, the number of Americans who die from shootings has remained at about 30,000 for the past decade or so. And many of these shootings have not been committed by the "knock-out gamers" "home invaders" or "haters". The unfortunate truth is that the majority of the gun deaths come from gun suicides. And the accidental shootings of and by children is alarming as are the incidents of guns discharging in the hands of law abiding gun owners. Guns are dangerous and easy access to them is not making us safer.
So yes, NRA leaders, continue to scare the heck out of your rabid supporters. But there is a truth here. The "wisdom" of whipping up your believers with scary hate and anti-government talk is resulting in some pretty ugly stuff in our country. Cliven Bundy's rants are a refection of this kind of paranoid talk. This is not OK. The remarks coming out of the mouths of the NRA convention speakers would be a "hoot" if they weren't so serious in the context of the insurrectionism on such blatant display in Nevada.
It's time to change the conversation and get to what the real problems are here. Too many people are getting shot in our homes, on our streets and in public places. We can change that with common sense measures like strengthening our background check system and education about the risks of guns to their owners. Let's get to work.