Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “National Rifle Association”

Blue Dresses and Saxophones – Roger Ingalls

Yesterday, standing with the parents who lost their young children in the Sandy Hook Elementary Schooling shooting, President Obama said: “All in all, today was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” I haven’t agreed with the President of late but his statement about the shameful voting of Senators to strike down background checks on gun buyers was on target.

According to a recent poll, 90 percent of US voters support enhanced screening of people purchasing guns. Yet, fifty-four Senators voted against the overwhelming will of the people.

The NRA stands against S. 649 even though seventy-four percent of their members support background checks. Going back on their word, the National Rifle Association threatened Senators in a letter prior to yesterday’s vote. Here’s one of their many statements, “Given the importance of these issues, votes on all anti-gun amendments or proposals will be considered in NRA’s future candidate evaluations.” The cowardly Senators decided it would be best to brown their noses in the buttocks of gun lobbyist rather than supporting the people they took an oath to represent.

For pleasuring the Saxophones (a.k.a. gun lobbyist), I give these despicable Senators the Blue Dress Award. A list of award recipients is shown below.

NAYS 1

Some may think my blue dress and saxophone analogy is disrespectful to the fifty-four nay-sayers but these political prostitutes were absolutely disgusting on April 17, 2013 for servicing special interest groups instead of representing their constituents.

Legitimate Gun Owners Vs. the NRA

Just as it is essential that we figure out how to separate actual small businesses from giant corporations when it comes to policy, it is now, more than ever, necessary to separate actual gun owners from the NRA (National Rifle Association).

The other day on TV, (I wish I could remember on which channel) I finally heard someone say what’s needed to be said for years: “The NRA is the lobbying wing of the gun manufacturers of America.” That summed it up, beautifully. The NRA does NOT represent the interests of most gun owners – hunters, target-shooters, or people interested in home-defense. Not remotely.

468-jm032909_COLOR_NRA_Congress_Mexico.standalone.prod_affiliate.56

It’s certainly true that a small fraction of gun owners have given themselves over to the ridiculous hype generated by the NRA – that President Obama is coming to take away everyone’s guns, or whatever nonsense, but their real benefits are not considered by the NRA in the slightest.

What the NRA cares about is money. They want their real bosses – Glock, Colt, Smith and Wesson, etc., to sell more guns and not to ever have to worry that those sales will slow down. And they want to keep on selling guns to people who buy them with the idea that they may want to kill someone for reasons other than self-defense. Their Strategy has worked well. Gun sales have soared.

Remember when someone created a way to identify what gun had fired a bullet found at a crime scene? The NRA had a sissy, hissy fit. They immediately created and released videos showing how to alter these guns in order to disable the identification mechanism. Why? If you’re going to use your gun for legitimate reasons, what have you got to fear?

The NRA works to convince its members that they need to buy as many guns as they can, before the coming war for freedom from our oppressive government. I’m not really sure what you do with 65 guns and only two hands, but that’s what your supposed to do – keep buying.

Most gun owners aren’t really all that complicated about the issue. They want to hunt and/or shoot targets or clay pigeons, they want to defend their homes or other property, they want to be able to defend their families against armed assailants… mostly pretty reasonable stuff (although I’m not a big fan of trophy-hunting). But a few have been driven to lunacy, mostly by the incessant fear-mongering of the NRA.

I really wish I had time to list all the ways this guy is delusional.

I’m not even sure HOW President Obama or anyone else would go about any attempt to ban guns, even if he wanted to do it. And I’m quite certain that the impossibility of such a task would stop the policy from ever being realized, anyway. In addition, Obama can hardly get anything done at all with all the Republican opposition. Remember the “fiscal cliff?” And now we have a huge fight coming up over his appointment of Chuck Hagel, a Republican, no less, as Secretary of Defense. Coming to take away your guns? I would much sooner bet on the Cubs to win the 2013 world series… AND the 2014 Stanley Cup.

One of the things that’s angered me about the news media, lately, is this: one of the worst crimes ever committed in the United states – the killing 20 children and 8 adults at Sandy Hook elementary school, has led to a huge bully pulpit for… the NRA. While most of us saw this horrible tragedy as at least an opportunity to finally impose some reasonable rules on the gun trade, people like NRA president Wayne Lapierre and NRA board member (and crappy rock star) Ted Nugent are all over TV, being legitimized in interviews on news programs.

As I always say, I’m all for a good debate. And some reasonable people are worried that gun-killing-control laws will go too far, infringing upon the rights of ordinary citizens. But the rantings of a man whose largest contribution to society was a song called, “Wango Tango,” don’t interest me at all. Ted Nugent strikes me as nothing but a meth-head, and Wayne Lapierre is nothing more than a corporate robot. Watch this to see how he’s flip-flopped, at the whim of his gun-manufacturing masters:

The relevant part starts at 2:03

and Ted Nugent at his finest:

I sure wish the voices of reason were the loudest in our country – even those voices that disagree with me. Instead, we have one lunatic fringe telling stories about the other side’s lunatic fringe (that really hardly exists) to scare the people in the middle that it HAS to be their way, or we will surely descend into tyranny. They say this in a tyrannical, ranting way, by the way.

We need to separate what it takes to make guns OK for the people who want to use them legitimately, while making it as difficult as possible for those who want to use a gun for illegitimate purposes. Legitimate gun owners do not fear this. In fact, they probably fear the lunatics as much as any of us do.

-Tom Rossi

___________________________________________________________________________

Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

___________________________________________________________________________

NRA: An Advocate for Gun Control

You write about the National Rifle Association and you will hit a nerve as I did last week. But I remain fascinated with the organization and found this article.

Mike Dendinger claims that the NRA has been a consistent supporter of methods to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. It has also supported responsible supervision whenever children or the untrained are allowed access to guns. In fact, the NRA adversarial stance is more a response to, or at least parallels, the rise of the liberal anti-gun platform.

“The NRA’s opposition to other forms of gun control appears to have coalesced in the 1970’s, when the idea of gun confiscation first started to appear in the philosophy of the American left. At that point, the NRA seems to have evolved to oppose any form of gun control that would allow the government to maintain databases of gun owners and their guns. Because such databases would facilitate government confiscation of firearms (as subsequently happened in Canada), they were anathema to NRA members.

Prior to the ’70’s, the NRA was not perceived as opposing gun control simply because there wasn’t much to oppose. In the twenties, civilians could buy Thompson submachine guns and Browning Automatic Rifles via mail order. The National Firearms Act of 1934, contrary to popular belief, did not prohibit civilians from owning fully automatic weapons, but instead imposed formidable licensing requirements. The camel’s nose poked a little farther into the tent with the Gun Control Act of 1968, passed in response to the terrible string of political assassinations in the ’60’s. The GCA imposed severe restrictions on the sale and/or transfer of firearms, especially in interstate commerce. It was in the decade following the GCA of 1968 that the NRA became more active in opposing gun control.”

This historical perspective suggests that there might be more common ground between two seemingly polemic stances, one that might facilitate a safer society. Perhaps we don’t need to agree on everything to facilitate a safer environment.

Once we stop posturing and begin to establish common ground, who knows where it might take us?

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

Who’s Afraid of the NRA?

I’m stuck on the topic of arms control. In the massive news coverage that surrounded the tragic shooting rampage in Colorado, I heard one comment repeated at least three times by different reporters and commentators. It went something along the lines of: “No presidential candidate would dare take on the National Rifle Association (NRA) during an election year” with one pundit suggesting that no elected president would either.

I am a great believer in pressure groups to protect our rights and advocate in an orderly and effective fashion. Being relatively new to the US (and I feel it politically when gun control is being discussed more than most other topics), I am not aware of the power of the NRA.

Their website is very impressive. They have launched a campaign to “Go All In’ as they actively push to get their members voting for their people at the polls. Now my stereotype of an NRA member has them firmly committed to heading to the polls in November, but it does look to be a slick campaign.

There is nothing wrong with that, by the way. This is a democracy and there are more than a few nonprofits that I support who could learn a lot from the NRA. Their page on the ‘Right To Carry’ laws looks very professional.

But it seems to be more than that. The NRA succeed by embracing two marketing principles: Their message is simple and it is repeated, repeated, repeated. Craig Montuori, apparently a left coaster himself sums up the messaging:

“The NRA boils issues down to one point–pro- or anti-gun–and takes a stand for the pro-gun side. Sometimes these issues are extremely complex. For example, gun trace data takes ballistic data from criminal cases, matches them to a gun, and matches that gun to a dealer. Then, the dealer can be checked out for whether or not they’re following proper sales procedure–background checks, hold periods, and the like, and oftentimes, the dealers do not. The NRA opposes this to the hilt, and annually, the Tiarht Amendment is proposed and adopted with their heavy lobbying support to restrict gun trace data from being used by police and the ATF to dry up criminals’ gun supply. The issue is boiled down to “restricting gun sales = bad, NRA oppose bad restrictions.”

Mr. Montuori then goes on to explain how the NRA has an effective direct mail campaign (and probably online as well) to swamp legislators with letters from the NRA’s huge membership list, giving the politician the clear message that s/he is going against a large number of his/her constituents. Now what politician doesn’t listen to this sophisticated message?

Members sign and mail prepaid issue cards telling their representatives that they oppose H.R. ____ that will restrict their 2nd Amendment Rights. They invariably warn the representative that they will oppose him/her if s/he doesn’t oppose the bill too.

Again Mr. Montuori: “Because the issue is so ‘hot,’ the NRA has an oversized effect on Congressional races, and many Members toe the NRA line to keep their support and avoid their opposition, further enhancing their lobbying chops.”

Mr. Montuori’s final point is that the NRA have such a huge membership and are very efficient at mobilizing and fundraising quickly. Given the emotional sensitivity surrounding the issue … “among certain American sub-cultures, especially in the South, and supposed threats to those rights can whip up a huge frenzy of feeling that is effectively exploited to raise large amounts of cash.”

In truth, I preferred him as Moses

While I have no doubt that this is so true, I am still left with the feeling that Presidential candidates also have a professional network, huge supporters and plenty of money. I am left with the nagging question: Why are even those at the very top scared of taking on the NRA?

Your opinion?

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Focus On The Real Issue

What is it with the American press, politicians and the rest of us! Why are we able to discuss every aspect of an issue except the core problem or conflict. I am guilty too. On Monday, I chose to focus on Congressman Rush getting kicked out of the House and even turned to my most trusted source, John Stewart on the The Daily Show.

Congressman Bobby Rush in the House

Mr. Stewart actually isn’t as guilty as the rest of us. He makes his living though satire (and does it exceedingly well, I might add). He is permitted to comb any situation and find a humorous angle to highlight. The rest of us shouldn’t.

It sometimes needs a quality journalist or social commentator to remind us of this. Thank you, Gail Collins for reminding us. Her op-ed in the New York Times, More Guns Less Hoodies, was excellent, and though I am going to lift a few choice paragraphs, her article is worth reading right through.

This is not about the right to wear a hoodie. The hoodie is nothing more than a symbol for racial profiling. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” a hooded Congressman Rush stated before being served a double technical and sent for an early showers.

Ms. Collins: “This is pretty much par for the course. Whenever there is a terrible shooting incident somewhere in America, our politicians talk about everything except whether the tragedy could have been avoided if the gunman had not been allowed to carry a firearm.

“You would think that this would be a great time to address the question of handgun proliferation, but it has hardly come up in Washington at all. This is because most politicians are terrified of the National Rifle Association. Also, the small band of gun control advocates are busy with slightly less sweeping issues, such as their ongoing but still utterly futile effort to make it illegal to sell a weapon to anyone on the terror watch list.”

But there is little discussion about gun control. Ms. Collins has argued gun control in the past and admits to feeling jaded. Many people just accept that there are certain interest groups that are untouchable. They are so well funded, so well organized, that they are simply impervious.

Ms. Collins chooses to highlight the discussion on carrying guns legally between states. If you have a license in one state, you can take it into many others. Ms. Collins concedes that anyone can walk with his gun around Time Square and many other vulnerable sites packed with citizens. In a country that has instituted many laws curbing citizen’s rights in the name of Homeland Security, this is patently absurd.

I am new to the topic of gun law. There is something far deeper in the American psyche that I, as a relative outsider, am having trouble  grappling with. As left as my politics go, I am keenly aware of the danger of terrorism and willing to have some of my rights curbed for what is, ultimately, the protection of my family, community and myself. 

But this is the same reasoning that doesn’t want almost anyone to walk around thinking he has the right to take a life in anything but the clearest scenario of self defense. We have one police force. They are trained and clearly defined by uniform and procedures. They might not be perfect and we might want to demand improvements and more policemen and policewomen on the streets, but this is the nature of democracy.

No one has a right to walk around with a gun and play God. And everyone has a right to walk the streets without fear of fellow man or woman, regardless of a person’s gender, race, or sexual orientation. This is what makes America great, not the false fear that a gun on your hip makes for a safer society.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Post Navigation

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: