NRA news

This morning we learned the news that former President George H.W. Bush has died. I am not a Republican and did not support President Bush’s policies but he served with honor and integrity and was an honest man. Many Americans look back to those days and remember that at the least, there was not corruption, daily lies and chaos. 

George H.W. Bush had the integrity to resign from the NRA when the organization made verbal attacks against law enforcement after the Oklahoma City bombings. He wrote a letter resigning his life membership from the NRA.:

I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.’s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.


However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.


How refreshing. The current occupant of the White House is so far from doing anything honestly and above board that we look back at former Presidents who have the courage of their convictions with admiration.

I believe we could actually expect the opposite from our current President. Anything for his base. And who is his base? Are the NRA extreme gun rights advocates a large part of his base? Let’s take a look at the number of members of the organization compared to the total U.S. population. From an article written by Mike Weisser ( Mike the Gun Guy) in the Huffington Post in 2017:

Now since the NRA itself claims only to have 5 million members, how do we explain that all of a sudden the organization has added 9 million more to its membership rolls? Here’s how the NRA is handling it as of today: “we have millions more Americans who support us and will tell pollsters they are members, even when they are not.” And to underscore this point, the NRA website also linked to a story from The Washington Times (a real, balanced piece of journalism) which states that the Pew report shows that 21 percent of gun owners had contacted a public official about gun policy at some point in their lives, but only 12 percent of the non-owners said they did.

Another article posted after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida analyzed the numbers game played by the NRA in order to make the organization seem bigger and more powerful than it actually is:

Still, if there are an estimated 55 million gun owners in the U.S., even at 5 million members the NRA would account for less than 10 percent of the gun owning community.
“Let’s say it’s 10 million [members],” said Ware, the South Carolinian gun owner. “That’s still a fraction of the gun owners out there.”

A fraction of the gun owners out there- that is significant. If this is the organization that has successfully bought and paid for many of our elected leaders and represents a fraction of gun owners and even fewer Americans, we ought to be yelling from the roof tops to demand the action that over 90% of Americans want. 

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Brady Law. Back in 1993, even the NRA supported the idea that if someone wanted to buy a gun their background should be checked out to make sure they were not a felon, a domestic abuser, someone who was adjudicated mentally ill, etc. This was a no brainer. But when the law passed, with support of the NRA, there was an exception for private sellers of guns. That exception has proven to be deadly. There are many examples of mass shooters, domestic abusers and others who got guns through private sales and used them to murder innocent people. Columbine. Wisconsin Spa shooting. Charleston church shooting……..

Since the passage of the law, according to Mark Glaze, writing for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

Under the current law, only people who buy their guns from federally licensed gun dealers are required by federal law to pass a background check. Unlicensed “private sellers” who sell at gun shows or over the Internet, are not required to conduct checks – a major gap that has grown exponentially larger as a portion of the marketplace for guns has moved online and away from bricks-and-mortar dealers.
Felons and other prohibited purchasers are well aware of this private sale loophole – and they exploit it every day. Researchers have estimated that as many as 22% of gun sales are conducted by private sellers – with no background checks and no questions asked.
In response to this lethal gap in the law, 20 states and the District of Columbia have acted to expand background checks to include at least some private sales, including those conducted by unlicensed sellers at gun shows, on the Internet and anywhere else.
And these laws are saving lives: when, in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting massacre, Connecticut enacted a universal background check system, the state saw a 40% reduction in gun homicides and a 15% reduction in gun suicides.
Overall, from 2009 to 2012, states that required background checks on all handgun sales or permits had 35% fewer gun deaths per capita than states without that background check requirement.
Researchers have also found that, after adjusting for population, states that require background checks on all handgun sales experience less than half as many mass shooting incidents (52% fewer) as states without that background check requirement. (…) Brady background checks are more popular in America than pizza. A 2018 Quinnipiac poll showed that 97% of Americans support universal checks, including 97% of gun owners. And a 2012 survey by GOP pollster Frank Luntz found that even 74% of NRA members support this common-sense reform.
And we know voters have their eye on this issue. Polls both before and after the 2018 midterms showed gun safety was one of the top issues for voters. And a survey of 11 battleground House districts conducted by the Brady Campaign and the American Federation of Teachers showed that voters were much more likely to support candidates who support universal checks.

Change and common sense are coming to America. The 2018 elections will prove to be a game changer in America for many reasons. 

The news of the day is happening fast and furiously. Much of it is related to the Mueller investigation into whether our very own President colluded with the Russians and now, as a result of the investigation, there may actually be attempts at obstruction of justice.

Buried in some of this news was this one about the Russian woman, Maria Butina,  who allegedly attempted to help the Russians gain access to the President through the NRA. It should be more alarming that this happened but then, it’s become such an everyday occurrence that alarm has become complacency or else not wanting  to know.

Let’s look at what this article is saying about the consequences to the country and to the NRA once Butina spills her knowledge:

Prosecutors now allege that Torshin was, in fact, directing Butina’s gun rights networking in the US, as part of a Russian influence effort. If the government wants to get to the bottom of whether the NRA was getting Russian money to boost Trump, Butina may possess valuable information about Torshin’s role in the alleged scheme. (…) Butina, as Torshin’s collaborator and as Erickson’s partner, was smack dab in the middle of this effort in May 2016. In fact, during this same month, Butina herself was part of a group that unsuccessfully sought a meeting with the Trump campaign. So it’s likely she could shed light on Erickson’s and the NRA’s efforts to connect Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin. (…) Though the campaign declined, Butina went to the event. During the audience Q&A, she asked Trump a question about whether he had plans to continue Russian sanctions, which Butina called “damaging” to both the American and Russia economies. Trump reassured her that he didn’t think the sanctions were needed. In May 2016, as the NRA hosted its convention in Louisville, Butina briefly met with Donald Trump Jr., and gave a speech at a NRA fundraiser involving Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin

I don’t know about you but I smell trouble ahead for Butina, the administration and the NRA. The organization is now having financial and legal problems related both to this investigation and the intense scrutiny placed on the NRA after the Parkland shooting. The activated students have not been shy about going after the powerful interest lobby. And it’s past time for that to happen. But it took the future generation to do what many of the adults have been unable to do. 

This article explains more about the NRA’s financial problems:

More noteworthy than its drop in contributions, though, was its decline in membership dues. The NRA took in more than $128 million in dues last year—a significant sum, but down considerably from the $163 million it took in the year prior. That decline, more than the drop in direct contributions, appears to indicate a dwindling, if still formidable, base of public support. Asked for comment on the decline, an NRA spokesperson pointed to reporting showing that the organization’s magazine subscriptions have shot up this year, interpreted as an indicator of an accompanying membership surge. (…) That loss in funding comes at a tricky political moment for the organization. Rarely has the NRA had so staunch an ally in the White House. But the group, which built significant political heft on the back of Obama-era threats to key gun-rights priorities, has also become a lightning rod in the still-raging debate over gun control and mass shootings in the U.S. And several recently elected House Democrats ran explicitly on pledges to go after the gun lobby when in office.
Under President Trump, the NRA has also adopted a more aggressive advocacy posture exceeding its traditional focus on gun-rights issues exclusively. It recently launched a stand-alone political commentary platform, NRA TV, that has veered into culture-war issues at best tangentially related to the Second Amendment.


So where are we? I say we are at an important time in our country’s history. One cannot avoid the sense that the corruption, lies and coverups are coming to a head. The involvement of the NRA in some of this news will not be good for the organization- once a respected group that supported gun safety and hunters. Things have changed. The country is going to experience more chaos and controversy.

When the truth is revealed, let’s hope that Americans will have the common sense to handle whatever happens peacefully without violence. There is a worry that those gun rights extremists, many of whom own many guns just in case they need them for an insurrection, may not stay on the sidelines:

“It seems like this is a theme that’s kind of resonating out there — that the militias feel there is an impending civil war that’s brewing between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, the militia versus antifa,” Johnson said. “That’s very concerning when you have a movement that is as well-armed [as militias], and conducts paramilitary training, and stockpiling and prepping and everything else. When you have them getting paranoid and discussing the possibility of a civil war, it’s not out of the realm of possibility of them actually trying trying to instigate it or provoke it.”

And so I end where I began- with my tribute to former President George H.W. Bush and his honor and integrity. And with my concern that the current occupant of the White House and the related investigations into corruption, collusions and possible obstruction of justice could lead to possible violence. The NRA is in the middle of both my tribute and my concerns about the current situation.

Guns and snow blowers

winter_snow_116442You really can’t make this stuff up. A guy with a gun, ostensibly to be used in self defense, goes on the offensive for no apparent reason and a Michigan woman is tragically and senselessly dead:

 

 

Wendell said when he saw Bonge outside on Tuesday, Dec. 26, he made the decision to kill her. He told police he grabbed a gun from his home and went out to the driveway easement in front of his home where she was snowblowing, the affidavit shows.

Wendell said he went up behind Bonge, shot her in the back of the head and disposed of her body behind his residence on the 14000 block of 104th Avenue, according to the affidavit.

Seriously. This is the problem with guns in so many hands. They might just get used to kill someone in a moment of anger, frustration, craziness or whatever gets into the heads of people like this guy.

In my neck of the woods, I’m very familiar with snow blowers. They are not dangerous unless you put your hand into the machine which most people with any common sense understand. And often people help out their neighbors by snow blowing their driveways or sidewalks. My husband has done this many times and our neighbors have done the same for us. Snowblowers can be noisy. But so what? The idea that someone could get shot for this is insanity itself.

I have written before about killings over lawn mowing and other absurdities.

The gun extremists will tell us ( and they do tell me in comments) that these are just irresponsible people with guns. The thing is, people are responsible and/or legal until suddenly they are not. With a gun in hand, split second decisions to use it can and are deadly. There are far too many irresponsible gun owners out there. That is our problem.

Guns are deadly weapons designed to kill people. And kill they do- every day in large numbers.

This is not normal nor is it inevitable. But it is happening every day. And it is only happening every day in America where guns are abundant, gun rights seem to be supreme and politicians refuse to do the right thing.

Last night I met my new Senator Tina Smith. While there I spoke with many people in a roomful of about 200 folks about the gun issue. One woman had run for office and lost her election for a seat in the state legislature. She talked to me about the difficulty of the gun issue in her district. She said it is a district full of gun owners. Most Minnesota districts are full of gun owners. And she also said they were against common sense legislation on Brady background checks, for example. My answer was that even the gun owners in her district most likely represented the average American who time after time after time after time have agreed in polling that background checks are a good idea. The people she was hearing from were the minority of people and candidates need to be able to speak that truth. When elected while favoring reasonable gun measures a leader will represent the overwhelming majority of Americana and gun owners.

I also spoke with a state Senator about the forced departure of Minnesota Representative Tony Cornish, the NRA’s “go to” guy on guns. We were not sad to see him go. He left because of allegations about sexual harassment filed by several, including a lobbyist for a gun violence prevention group. The irony.

Cornish openly carried a gun around while at work in the Capitol and frankly intimidated people who did not agree with him. He also supported loosening conceal and carry laws, permitless carry and stand your ground legislation. He saw no problems with just about anybody owning and carrying guns.

This letter from former Representative Tony Cornish was found on a Twitter feed:

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 10.36.49 AM

He is imploring other Representatives not to pass any “gun control” bills or “anti-cop” bills. He also admits that a pretty influential group representing gun owners has disbanded (GOCRA). Not sad about that one. This group has tried hard to wield their influence but they have not succeeded at much other than intimidating law makers. They did manage to sink gun bills that would have actually strengthened gun laws and saved lives in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shooting. I don’t think that is anything about which to be proud.

The NRA represents a small minority of Americans and gun owners:

Three-in-ten U.S. adults say they currently own a gun, and of that group, 19% say they belong to the National Rifle Association. While the demographic profile of NRA members is similar to that of other gun owners, their political views, the way they use their firearms and their attitudes about gun policy differ significantly from gun owners who are not members of the organization.

19% of 30% = 5.7%. And for this, we are allowing an influential lobby group to make gun policy? Real people are losing their lives every day and we are afraid of 6% of Americans?

Sigh.

The sooner our leaders and candidates recognize this we will be in a safer place in our country.

The gun lobby, once upon a time

HookI think we can safely say that we are living in a fictional fairy-tale like world when it comes to gun deaths and gun safety in our country. Like Peter Pan, we are pretending that the real world is not what it is. We fly around from place to place looking for what’s real but we aren’t landing on the real problem. Captain Hook , Peter Pan’s nemesis, is revengefully presenting evil choices whenever he encounters Peter Pan. Sometimes Hook gets what he deserves but he keeps showing up anyway. Much like the corporate gun lobby and it’s ludicrous fictional fear and paranoia foisted on some unsuspecting political leaders and some in the public who actually believe in the myths expounded by the lobbyists and gun extremists.

Will we ever grow up?

Once upon a time we at least tried to deal with the carnage- when the Brady Law was passed in 1993; when restrictions on assault weapons were seen as reasonable for public safety. When average citizens weren’t carrying loaded guns around in public places.

Once upon a time the corporate gun lobby agreed that requiring background checks on all gun sales was a reasonable and good idea to prevent people who shouldn’t have guns from getting their hands on them. Let’s take a look at the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre on the subject:

Once upon a time the NRA was an organization that supported hunting and shooting sports for the average gun owner- people like my grandfather, my own father, my mother, my uncles, my brother and my husband. They took safety classes and had hunting guns for recreation and family togetherness.

That was then. Now the response to our nation’s mass shootings and every day shootings- arming everyone everywhere, including in schools is this jaw dropping response to the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 first graders by Wayne LaPierre( again); 

Sigh.

But something happened when the extremist gun rights advocates took over the organization in what is now called the “Cincinnati revolt” at a 1977  NRA convention. And what we have now is something very different from the origins of the NRA. From the article:

“We must declare that there are no shades of gray in American freedom. It’s black and white, all or nothing,” Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said at an NRA annual meeting in 2002, a message that the organization has reiterated at almost every opportunity since.

“You’re with us or against us.”

Once upon a time we could have shades of gray about gun policy. It was a given that we wanted to prevent shootings and save lives and people from both political parties could agree that the problem needed to be addressed. Today it’s black or white according to the NRA’s leadership. The problem with this is that most of their own members agree with the gun policy changes that have been proposed in the wake of the many mass shootings and everyday carnage.

Once upon a time toddlers were not shooting themselves or others in weekly shootings. But now that there are so many guns in circulation owned by people who don’t have any idea how to deal with loaded guns  a toddler is shooting either him/herself or someone else weekly.

Once upon a time, President George H.W. Bush belonged to the NRA. And then a statement was made about “jack booted government thugs” and formerPresident George H.W. Bush resigned his membership with a public statement:

The NRA used the the Oklahoma City bombing and the standoff and siege in Waco, Texas, in order to fundraise for itself in 1993 (while President Clinton was in office). And it denigrated upstanding people who protected the public in order to do it:

“In Clinton’s administration, if you have a badge, you have the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.”
Wayne LaPierre, 1993 NRA fundraising letter

And what’s more, the NRA lost members because of this extreme position and began their deceptive rhetoric about their membership numbers by including members who had died in their membership roles. So who are included in the membership roles of the NRA? Of course, legitimate gun owners who happen to believe in the organization and may or may not know or understand what the organization is really about. But those who like to target shoot at gun ranges must become members of the NRA in order to belong to the gun club or gun range. I have several friends for whom this is true. Their views do not agree with those of the leadership and lobbyists of the NRA. They just like to shoot at the range.

What does this have to do with today’s gun culture and gun policy? When the gun lobby uses ramped up numbers to claim that they represent anywhere from 4-5 million gun owners, elected leaders listen. But then, we also know that only 1 in 10 gun owners belong to the NRA so the fairy tale needs to be exposed in order to loosen the grip the corporate gun lobby has on our gun policy. Requiring NRA membership to join gun clubs has both an upside for the organization and a downside. Some object to having to belong to the NRA because they are concerned with their positions opposing any reasonable changes to our gun laws. But if we follow the money, we can find the upside for the organization. From the linked article above some Connecticut gun club members resigned their gun club membership:

A dozen or so members decided to quit the club rather than join the NRA, he said. Some who left said they disagreed with the group’s uncompromising stance on gun control. Others said they just didn’t want to be told what to do, or objected to paying $25 to the NRA on top of their annual club dues.

89 Americans lose their lives every day because of gunshot injuries from gun homicides, suicides and “accidental” shootings. That is 89 too many. This is not a fairy tale. This is the truth. Dealing with the public health and safety epidemic of gun violence must be based on the truth and the facts. Dealing with it from the point of view of the corporate gun lobby, whose heavy handed influence on our nation’s gun policy is based on fiction and fairy tale-like assertions, is dangerous and appalling.

Real people are dying every day leaving behind families and friends who are living with the loss of a person they loved. Common sense is fact and based on the truth. We can’t let important national and state level gun policies be based on fiction. Lives depend on knowing the truth and the facts on the ground.

Luckily there are more fact finders than ever before revealing the truth about the corporate gun lobby’s fiction. And because the public is fed up with the gun lobby and daily carnage, the landscape is changing. We have reached a tipping point. Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign wrote this piece for CNN telling the truth about what is happening:

Turns out we have been asking ourselves the wrong questions. No single incident, no matter how horrible, and no statistic, no matter how shocking, is going to change things by itself. What is going to change things — what always does — is when the American public comes together, based on common goals and common values, to say “enough!” And that is exactly what is happening, finally, on the gun violence issue.

(…) Meanwhile, there is also overwhelming public support for change, which only continues to increase. An astounding 93% of the American public, including 90% of Republican voters, more than 80% of gun owners and more than 70% of NRA households support expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales. The disconnect between the American public and the politicians who are supposed to be representing us is becoming increasingly clear. Simply put, pressure is mounting on policymakers to finish the job the Brady Law started. (…)

We’re almost there. The American people have had enough. Enough of the mass shootings, enough of 89 people dying every day, and enough of a small group of craven politicians putting the interests of a corporate lobby ahead of our safety.

We’ve had enough of the fiction promoted by the corporate gun lobby. The public understands that it is guns that are taking the lives of too many Americans no matter what the gun rights extremists would love us to believe. We can’t continue basing our policy decisions on this “Emperor ‘s new clothes” fictional view of what is actually happening in real life everyday.

The gun lobby’s sometimes invisible influence on our politicians is now more visible than ever for public scrutiny. But interestingly enough, according to a new Gallup poll, the NRA is still viewed favorably by the public but the public also wants laws like expanded background checks. This is the result of the fairy tale that the NRA has gotten away with telling for far too long.

There is a disconnect between the public perception of the current NRA and what its’ leaders and lobbyists are doing behind the scenes to oppose the very things their own members and the public want. Let’s hope the “emperor” will be revealed for what “he” is.