Think The NRA Will Change Direction? Think Again.

              Poor Wayne-o.  Here’s a guy who has spent his entire lifetime working tirelessly and endlessly for America’s gun owners and what does he get for all his efforts? He gets a drop-dead piece in Rolling Stone which has to signal the beginning of the end. My advice, incidentally, to my friends in Gun-control Nation who want to kiss LaPierre bye-bye, is that they quiet down. The last thing the boys in Fairfax would consider doing is making a management change which appears to be in response to demands from what I’ll politely call the ‘other side.’ 

              But let’s assume that Wayne-o’s tenure comes to an end. Let’s assume that the NRA Board cleans house, gets its financial affairs in order (not that any government agency has yet to charge the NRA with any illegal activity at all) comes up with a new leadership team, issues the usual ‘we can and will do better’ encomiums and goes about its way. Would any or all of those measures really change the nature or the outcome of the gun debate?  In other words, would Wayne-o’s disappearance result in a kindler and gentler NRA?

              By the way, as far as I’m concerned, the dirt being shoveled in Wayne-o’s face is nothing more than payback, given how the NRA has insulted, demonized and threatened folks who have been leading the campaign for reducing violence caused by guns. When Colorado voted to repeal comprehensive background checks in 2015, you would have thought the issue was whether Mike Bloomberg was coming to live in the Centennial State, with PSA‘s making it clear that this Jewboy needed to stay away. Shannon Watts continues to attract her share of insulting and threatening comments from NRA noisemakers like those jerk-offs Grant Stinchfield and Dana Loesch.

              On the other hand, the fact that the NRA has been trying to posture itself as a self-appointed public voice for the alt-right doesn’t mean that anything would change for the better if Wayne-o took his $5-million retirement package and disappeared. If anything, the defense of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ could become even more belligerent and more extreme.

              The NRA likes to describe itself as America’s first line of 2nd-Amendment defense, but in reality the organization is primarily focused on the South because that’s where the guns happen to be. The current Board leadership (Meadows, Childress) are both Southerners, of the 76 total Board members, 32 are from Confederate states. Visit the next annual NRA meeting and you’ll quickly realize that you may walking theough a large convention center, but you’re actually inside a big revival tent.

              The NRA counts on support from three groups. One group are gun owners who aren’t actually members, but consider gun ownership to be some kind of necessary ‘right.’ Then there are NRA members whose membership is force of habit but nothing much more. Finally and most important are the hard-core members, the folks who go to local gun events, talk up the 2nd Amendment until someone tells them to shut up, send an email to a public official or a nasty comment to me. That’s the organization’s base – that’s the core..

              Whatever happens in Fairfax, the NRA can’t afford to alienate its hard core. If anything, they need to bind their most rabid supporters as close as they can. Because what the NRA may start to lose in numbers can perhaps be made up with more noise. Which is why I don’t see the NRA becoming more ‘reasonable’ if they jettison Wayne-o, tear up their agreement with the PR firm that produces those lunatic messages for NRA-TV, and goes back to being primarily concerned with hunting and outdoor sports.

              If anything, I see the NRA becoming even more extreme, more intolerant, more unwilling to admit that maybe, just maybe, the notion that we should become a nation of gun-carrying patriots is a relic of the past. It’s a lot easier to change direction when you have enough support that it doesn’t matter if a few folks drop off here or there. But if, all of a sudden, every dime counts, you’re not about to do anything that would jeopardize the mother lode.

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North Vs. LaPierre.

              Now that the NRA has decamped from Indianapolis with LaPierre still standing and Oliver North down for the ten-count, let’s try and figure out what really took place. Because I’m sorry to say., but most of the reportage about the big battle at the annual meeting didn’t get it all wrong, but did miss some of the most important points.

              On the second day of the confab, a letter from North was read to the membership in which the NRA President informed the faithful that he was going to resign. Later at that same meeting, Wayne-o delivered his standard ‘us’ versus ‘them’ speech (patriots versus gun-grabbers) and didn’t even bother to thank the newly-retired President for his service or time. Because the Democrats haven’t yet decided who is going to run against sleazy Don in the 2020 electoral campaign, he rambled on about Andy Cuomo’s hatred of the NRA.

              The big deal got started when The New Yorker magazine published a detailed article by our friend Mike Spies, which went into details about how the organization’s finances were in tatters because of some sweetheart contracts between the boys in Fairfax and their long-time PR agency, Ackerman-McQueen.  The title of the piece, ‘Secrecy, Self-Dealing and Greed at the NRA’ set off a media wave which then set off a nasty exchange between Ollie and LaPierre, which ultimately resulted in North announcing that the NRA Board would not sanction another Presidential term, so goodbye.

              Two days before the Spies article appeared, The New York Times published what I thought was a much more significant article describing  a just-filed lawsuit against Ackerman-McQueen by none other than the NRA! This suit, which you can download here, claimed that the two parties had been negotiating for almost a year, discussions which centered around the behavior and compensation of Oliver North, who has evidently been double-dipping salaries from both the NRA and the PR agency, a clear violation of not-for-profit regulations in New York State (which is where the NRA has been registered since 1871.)

              North was hired by the NRA precisely to help the organization recover from the deficit it ran by giving sleazy Don $30 million or more for his 2016 campaign. In fact, the 2016 operating deficit of $45 million was cut to $17 million in 2017, despite the fact that revenues also declined by some $25 mil. You may recall that North ran for Senate against Chuck Robb in 1994.  He lost the race but set a single-year record for direct-mail donations of $16 million bucks. He has remained a prodigious fundraiser for various right-wing causes ever since, and no doubt his efforts in this respect are what pushed him into the President’s position of the NRA.

              If you read the lawsuit between NRA and Ackerman-McQueen, particularly Section D, you’ll discover that North has, indeed, made good use of his fundraising abilities, largely for himself.  It appears that as an Ackerman-McQueen employee, North may have not only oversold the value of his name, but didn’t even deliver the content to NRA-TV that was going to generate more cash both from sponsors and fans. 

              The boys from Fairfax have made some dumb business decisions over the last several years, chief among them moving from face-to-face to digital training with the accompanying Carry Guard insurance scam. Both of these programs have weakened the organization’s membership base, but anyone who thinks that or hopes that the NRA is now facing Armageddon doesn’t know how to read the tea leaves.

              I’ve said it in previous columns but I’ll say it again. The NRA‘s existence reflects the fact that a clear majority of Americans, including non-gun owning Americans, believe that owning a gun for self-defense is more of a benefit than a risk. And it really doesn’t matter that the evidence proves exactly the reverse. Until and unless my friends in Gun-control Nation figure out a convincing argument in response to this remarkable case of cognitive dissonance, we will remain enamored of those little pieces of polymer which fit neatly in the pocket and hold 16 rounds,

Is The NRA In Trouble? I Don’t Think So.

              Far be it from me to question the motives or behavior of advocacy groups trying to reduce gun violence, because I happen to agree with the idea that there is simply no rational reason to justify or even attempt to explain 125,000 deaths and injuries from guns every year. I also know that if you want to have any voice in any public discourse at all, it doesn’t come cheap. So I’m not overly concerned when I get the multiple, daily emails from Everytown, Brady, et. al., asking me for dough. I receive just as many, if not more requests from the other side. 

              In the midst of all the sturm und drang over the recent so-called ‘revelations’ about financial mismanagement at Fairfax, however, I think something needs to be kept in mind. For all the talk about how Wayne-o has been given a golden parachute, how money and wine flow freely at certain NRA executive events, how cash is borrowed from outside sources to keep the organization afloat, blah, blah, blah and blah, what seems to be missing from the outrage and umbrage of Gun-control Nation is an acknowledgement that the way in which the NRA maintains its basic premise – representing the interests of gun-owners – hasn’t changed at all.

              NRA is and has always been a charitable organization registered in New York State. I happen to have managed a not-for-profit organization that was also registered in New York State, so I have a pretty good idea about how New York regulates charities and what this regulation means and doesn’t mean for the NRA. And what it basically means, because New York happens to be a state which does a greater degree of non-profit regulating than most states, is that the tax-exempt donations you receive have to be spent on the charitable purposes for which the organization is chartered to provide. And I don’t see one single activity that the NRA is currently providing that doesn’t fall within the definition of what it is supposed to do, namely, promote gun safety and gun training, and protect gun-owning rights.

              Now the fact that these activities often result in messaging that is offensive and misleading to some of us, doesn’t mean anything at all. And the fact that the defense of gun ‘rights’ puts the NRA in opposition to even the flimsiest, most benign gun regulations, is also in no way against non-profit law. And even the fact that management is pissing away money by giving some vendors all kinds of sweetheart deals is also not outside of the relevant regulations, as long as those vendors are providing services that further the organization’s goals.

              Let’s be honest here for a minute folks, okay? When phony videos purporting that Planned Parenthood was selling aborted fetal tissue began circulating in 2015, the pro-choice movement got up in arms and rightfully so. I’m not saying that any of the current criticisms of the NRA are inventions or aren’t based on certain facts. What I am saying is that, taken together, none of the financial flimflamming that has been detailed by Mike Spies to date necessarily constitutes anything more than a combination of sloppy financial management and reading the tea-leaves of current public opinion in the wrong way.

              I don’t think the NRA ever imagined that their support of Sleazy Don would generate the headwinds that have been blowing ever more fiercely from the #Resist network which, at this point, appear to have Schmuck-o going back to being a New York landlord in 2021. I also don’t think the boys in Fairfax understand the degree to which Gun-control Nation has both expanded and solidified its activist base. Frankly, some of the political diatribes wafting out from NRA-TV are stupid beyond belief.

              None of which, however, comes even remotely close to helping consign America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ to the ash-heap of history or running Wayne-o into jail. My friends in Gun-control Nation shouldn’t need to sensationalize something out of nothing in order to justify their existence or raise funds.     

How Deep Is The Hole That The NRA Has Dug?

              This week’s New Yorker magazine includes a major article by one of my favorite gun journalists, Mike Spies, about the financial mess at America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ otherwise known as the NRA. Since I happen to be a Patriot Life Member Benefactor of the NRA (I actually have a plaque signed by Ollie North) and have been a member since 1955, obviously I have more than a passing interest in the goings on at the home office in Fairfax, and according to Mike, the goings on ain’t  very good.

              According to Mike, in a detailed and lengthy report, the NRA’s leadership has not only been hiding the extent to which serious amounts of organizational money have been flowing into the coffers of various PR companies, but it appears that these companies may be nothing more than business entities founded and run by Board and staff members of the NRA itself. Worse, the payments to these outfits have been so large that the NRA is facing a financial squeeze that could ultimately jeopardize the existence of the gun-rights organization itself.

              This is hardly the first time that mainstream media has carried articles on financial undoings within the NRA. Spies quotes  Brian Mittendorf, a Professor at Ohio State, who says that the organization has been spending money it really doesn’t have for seven of the past eleven years. In fact, Mittendorf published these details last year, and other media venues have carried the same news. What these stories all miss, however, is the fact that the NRA’s current financial problems aren’t basically caused by having given too much money to Schmuck-o in 2016 or investing heavily in video programming with costs running far ahead of returns. The serious financial issues facing the boys in Fairfax has much more to do with a fundamental shift in the behavior of gun owners and the inability of the NRA to adjust to this new view.

              In 1978, Florida passed its concealed-carry (CCW) law, which basically gave every resident of the Gunshine state who could pass a background check the right to walk around with a gun. Over the past 40 years, what is called ‘shall-issue’ CCW has become law in 43 of the 50 states. But the licensing difference between just buying a gun as opposed to carrying one around, is that in the latter case, most ‘shall-issue’ states require some kind of training before the CCW is approved.  And here is where the rubber has now met the road.

              Because in the olden days, the NRA held a monopoly on gun-training, and the NRA certified trainers, of whom there used to be more than 100,000 around the country, were the organization’s shock troops when it came to recruiting new members, as well as responding in force whenever a political situation, such as a debate over a gun law, required that gun owners show up and make some noise.

              Given the appearance of the internet, the emphasis on face-to-face gun training, indeed face-to-face training for any skill or work requirement has gone down the tubes. Instead, everyone now goes to a website, pays a fee, watches a video and then takes an online test. In that respect, the NRA is hardly the only training organization which fell behind the curve. Take a look at the online training offerings of Butler Community College in Kansas. The school has six campuses throughout the state, but you don’t have to ever show up at any physical location in order to qualify for hundreds of job-related certifications. Now take a look at the NRA‘s online training website. It’s a joke.

              The article by Mike Spies gives lots of details about how the NRA invested enormous financial resources in the internet, but what it fails to point out is that by promoting personalities (Dana Loesch, Colion Noir) instead of training, they went the wrong way. Judging from the emails I receive every day, I’m still not sure that the boys in Fairfax recognize their mistake.

Don’t Worry – The NRA Isn’t Losing Any Sleep Over ‘Fix NICS.’

Want to start your day off with a good laugh? Take a look at Wayne-o LaPierre blasting off into outer space in 2016 with a video message about the FBI-NICS background check system which came out two years before last week’s Fix-NICS bill was introduced by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), a long-time ‘enemy’ of the 2nd Amendment and John Cornyn (R-TX), one of the NRA’s best friends.

wayne              Everyone loves this bill.  The NRA and the NSSF jumped on board; ditto Gabby Giffords and Everytown – Moms.  Well, almost everyone. The group which claims it’s the only group standing between freedom and fascism, a.k.a. Gun Owners of America, told its members to demand that we stop trying to ‘fix an unconstitutional system’ because background checks of any kind are an ‘infringement on 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

But back to Wayne-o patting himself on the back for being a champion of FBI-NICS.  Ultimately the NRA had no choice but to support the Brady bill because the idea of an instant background check enjoyed wide public support back then, just as an extension of background checks to secondary transfers appears to enjoy the same degree of public support now.  But as a detailed report from the Brady Campaign points out, the moment that the Brady bill became law, the NRA began attacking its constitutional validity even before the system went online.

So when Wayne-o states that the NRA has ‘fought for 20 years’ to put the records of persons adjudicated to be mentally incompetent into the NICS system, what he should have said is that America’s oldest civil-rights organization has fought to keep the FBI-NICS system as far away from being an effective tool for reducing gun violence as it can. But when you watch this video and the phrase ‘the truth about background checks’ flashes across the screen, you can be sure that ol’ Wayne is getting ready to blast off into outer space.

But now that Congress appears ready to do exactly what the NRA claims should have always been done, namely, to make sure that the data sent to NICS really includes the names of every individual whose background, under current law, does not allow them to own a gun, what should the boys from Fairfax be doing to prove their commitment to 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Because if this bill gets a positive vote and the Trumpster signs it into law, the NRA’s rationale for not expanding background checks to secondary sales disappears.

I’m not saying that the process of widening background check procedures to go beyond over-the-counter sales would be a walk in the park or a day at the beach. But the good news is that the NRA has been forced to support the idea that only ‘law-abiding citizens’ should be able to own guns. And if NICS is fixed to everyone’s satisfaction in a way that really prevents the criminals, the drug abusers and the mentally ill from walking into a gun shop and buying a gun, the idea that private gun transfers requiring background checks is a violation of the 2nd Amendment wouldn’t pass muster in any court.

When all is said and done, the NRA’s opposition to background checks boils down to one, simple thing; namely, that government regulation of the gun industry is a bad and unnecessary thing. In that respect, the gun industry’s opposition to regulation is no different from every other industry – banks, financial services, energy, you-name-it – who want to lessen the regulatory burden because one way or another, regulations drive up costs.

The NRA, the 2nd-Amendment Foundation, Sean Hannity and every other pro-gun noisemaker can talk about gun ownership as a Constitutional ‘right’ all they want. But it’s simply a convenient catch-phrase for obscuring a basic truth. And that truth happens to be the unalterable fact that if someone aims a loaded gun at themselves or someone else and then pulls the trigger, the damage can be immense.  And only government has the resources and the authority to prevent such acts from taking place.

When It Comes To Guns, The ‘Truth’ Will Really Set You Free.

Now that the 45th President has started dismantling the Affordable Care Act, I feel it incumbent upon myself to remind all my gun-nut friends that they might now be facing a serious, indeed highly-threatening assault on their 2nd Amendment ‘rights.’  What?  The 45th President taking away all the guns?  Wasn’t that what the 44th President tried to do?  Isn’t the 45th President the best friend that gun nuts ever had?  Oh…my…God.

wayne              The reason that Gun-nut Nation better figure out how to deal with this problem is because the ACA actually contains a provision which, believe it or not, protects gun owners who refuse to tell a physician whether or not there’s a gun lying around the house. But this section of the ACA is always conveniently overlooked when the Gun-nut noise machine pushed out its usual quotient of fake news about doctors and guns.  Here’s a comment from the NRA Blog: “The reality is, I should be able to receive medical care without being subject to a politically motivated inquisition regarding a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution.” The comment is found in a post entitled, “Should a doctor be allowed to ask if you own a gun?”

But what happens if the ACA is scrapped and isn’t immediately replaced with some other health-insurance law?  It means that the poor, defenseless gun owner won’t have the 45th President around to protect him, and this means that the doctor can not only ask whether the poor guy owns guns, but can immediately report gun ownership to the cops.  Think I’m being a little bit over the top?  Think again.

Recall that after Sandy Hook, the 44th President issued a series of Executive Orders covering guns.  Basically Obama’s action had one result, namely gun sales shot up and remained at historically-high levels until a few weeks before the 45th President was sworn in. But if you had listened to the noisemakers who pander to the Obama-burnished craziness of the NRA, you would have thought that Obama was planning to call out those ‘jack-booted government thugs’ (as Wayne LaPierre once characterized the ATF) to invade every gun-loving American home, grab all the hardware and cart it away. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth, but since the 45th President is now blatantly lying to the Congressional leadership about how many votes he did or didn’t receive, who cares about the truth?

Actually, there is a professional group out there which does try to base its behavior on information that is evidence-based, and that group happens to be physicians, who know a lethal product when they see one.  And the reason they know that guns are lethal is because physicians have to repair 85,000-thousand or so bullet wounds each year, and also have to pronounce some 30,000+ whose bullet wounds can’t be repaired.

There is simply no other consumer product lying around an American home which is as lethal as a gun. Which is why physicians have been advocating that guns shouldn’t be in the home.  By the way, they also advocate that other lethal things, like cigarettes and pills that aren’t in bottles with child-proof caps, also shouldn’t be in the home. But somehow guns are different because many Americans have come to believe that it’s a gun’s lethality which makes it such a valuable item to own.  After all, what if Mister Bad Guy comes crashing through the back door?  What better way to protect yourself and your loved ones than with a gun?

There’s only one little problem. All the talk about how armed citizens constitute a necessary line of defense against violence and crime is just talk.  Even the NRA can’t seem to produce more than 8 or 9 instances each month in which an armed citizen made the difference protecting anyone from crime.  But let’s not forget that we’re no longer in a time when the truth counts for anything at all.  And that’s the reason that the NRA worked so hard to help elect Donald Trump.

Shannon Watts Gets Attacked For The Usual Reason: Telling The Truth.

Yesterday Shannon Watts got into a Twitter kerfuffle with home-school queen Dana Loesch and gun-toting enthusiast Kimberly Corban about whether guns could be carried into the NRA’s annual meeting in Nashville.  What set off the argument was Shannon’s tweet that guns weren’t allowed into the hall where Wayne-o gave his pep talk to the crowd: “@NRA fails to mention that its annual meeting was a ‘safe space’; no guns while their chief lobbyist spoke,” a comment that was branded a lie by the Gun-nut Nation noise machine, a judgement then seconded by Loesch who accused Shannon of ‘blocking and obsessing’ rather than telling the truth.

 

watts

Shannon Watts

The truth is that what Shannon said about the NRA show was absolutely true. If you were licensed to carry a gun in Nashville, you could bring your gun into the main exhibition hall.  But guns weren’t allowed into the auditorium where Wayne-o rallied the troops, ditto during the appearance of Trump.  Which is exactly what Shannon said; i.e., no guns when Wayne-o gave his speech.

What caught my eye, however, was not that Ms. Watts was criticized for saying something she didn’t say.  If Shannon had a nickel for every time she’s been accused of saying something that wasn’t true when what she said happened to be true, she could pay off the mortgage on her house.  So that kind of attack is hardly new news.

What I found interesting about this exchange was the statement by Kimberly Corban that carrying a gun around creates a ‘safe space.’ What space is she talking about?  I guess she’s referring to the space that was between her and the guy who came through a window into her apartment in 2006, held her against her will and then raped her; an attack that she immediately reported to the police and then followed through by testifying at the trial in which the creep was convicted of sexual assault. According to Kimberly, the situation would have been different if she had been able to grab a gun even though by the time she woke up the attacker was already standing next to her bed.

I’m not trying in any way to downplay the terrifying ordeal and subsequent emotional trauma suffered by Kimberly Corban or any other woman who is the victim of rape.  But a year after the attack she was training rape counselors at a local center, and now she’s morphed into a national celebrity, complete with the requisite appearances on Fox, as well as challenging President Obama during his CNN town hall gun debate.

So the woman who claims that she wants to “educate the public on sexual assault” now basically spends her time promoting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  Which makes her a perfect pitchman for the NRA’s continuing effort to get a gun into every American home, because who’s going to argue with a woman who knows how it feels to be unable to defend herself from a rape?

There’s only one little problem.  Granted, Kimberly’s experience makes her testimony about rape a compelling and deeply-troubling description of this traumatic event.  But that terrible moment doesn’t make her an expert on how to defend herself or her kids. And it certainly doesn’t give her any expertise at all when it comes to defending herself or others with a gun.

Want to consult an expert on using a gun for self-defense?  Let’s start with Gary Kleck, the famed criminologist who invented the idea that Americans used guns to protect themselves from crimes more than two million times each year. And while Kleck doesn’t believe his own numbers any longer, leave it to ‘experts’ like Kimberly Corban to continue promoting the myth.  Contrary to that nonsense, Kleck published an article in 2004 which showed that resisting sexual assault with a gun was no more effective than using other self-defense measures, like yelling for help.

Hey Shannon, keep telling it like it is. Keep pushing back on self-promoters like Kimberly Corban and Dana Loesch. The worst result from your efforts is that people will learn the truth.

 

Let’s Stop Worrying About The 2nd Amendment And Start Worrying About Ending Gun Violence.

I’m not sure whether it’s Donald Trump or Wayne LaPierre who is more convinced that Hillary is an enemy of the 2nd Amendment, but I get emails from both of them on a daily basis asking for money to keep her from moving into the Oval Office at High Noon on January 20, 2017. And what both of them keep telling me is that if Hillary becomes the 45th President, the first thing she’ll do is appoint a liberal to the Supreme Court, and the first thing the Supreme Court will do is reverse the 2008 Heller decision which will then be the first step in taking away all my guns.

2A           How do we know that Hillary wants to get rid of the 2nd Amendment?  Because the Breitbart website said so on June 5th, and if Breitbart says so, it must be true.  Actually, what she really said is that she favors laws that would extend background checks to private sales and reverse the 2005 statute (PLCAA) that gave the gun industry immunity from liability torts.

Hillary’s gun positions are right on her website, and there’s nothing in her proposals that is any different from what she and other liberals have been saying for years.  In fact, her call for stricter regulation of assault rifles has absolutely nothing to do with the Constitutional guarantee for private gun ownership, since the 2008 decision extended 2nd-Amendment protection to handguns, not rifles, and a later attempt by Heller to have the 2nd Amendment cover private ownership of rifles was turned down flat.

What I find interesting about Gun-nut Nation is they are the first ones to denounce the ‘liberal elite’ for using the judiciary to ‘make’ laws that run contrary to the people’s will.  And the reason they don’t want Hillary to appoint any judges is because she’ll appoint judges who don’t respect the Constitution and are always trying to promote liberal ideology with their decisions rather than going by exactly what the document says. These are the same people, incidentally, who tell you that the 2nd Amendment gives them the ‘right’ to own and carry a gun without any interference from the government at all.  Which means either a) they have never actually read the 2008 Heller decision; or b) they have read it and are too dumb to understand it; or c) they have read it, understand it, and are just lying to make a point. Breitbart fits somewhere between b) and c).

Let me tell you something about the 2nd Amendment and what I am going to say not only applies to Gun-nut Nation noisemakers like Breitbart, but applies to certain liberal, Constitutional scholars as well.  I bought my first, real gun in 1956 when I was twelve years old.  It was a beautiful, 6-inch, Smith & Wesson revolver that I found lying on a table in a tag sale on the edge of the Everglades on Hwy 441 near Boca Raton. Ten minutes after I bought it my Uncle Nathan snatched it out of my hands and sold it to a pawn shop the next day.  But that’s beside the point.

From 1956 until 2008 I probably bought and sold 500 guns (which is only 10 a year) and not a single one of those transactions was protected in any way by any kind of Constitutional guarantee. Nor was a single one of those transactions in any way jeopardized by the lack of a Constitutional guarantee.  Because until 2008, the 2nd Amendment only protected ownership of guns that would be used in what we call the ‘common defense.’ This was the ruling in the 1939 Miller case, and this ruling did not stop me from buying or selling a single gun.

I don’t think that ending gun violence has anything to do, pro or con, with so-called 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ So let’s stop worrying about whether anyone gets offended because we don’t evince a proper reverence towards the sacred, 2nd-Amendment text. Let’s end gun violence, okay?

 

 

Now That Trump And The NRA Are Partners, Who Helps Whom? Maybe Neither.

Back in May when the NRA endorsed Trump at their annual meeting, I said I wasn’t sure that either side gained that much by an endorsement that in the past never occurred until nearly the end of the Presidential campaign.  And while I don’t like to indulge in Trump-like ‘I told you so’s,’ thanks to the terrible night in Orlando, it’s beginning to look like the Trump-NRA partnership may be more of a millstone than a milestone for both sides.

As soon as it came out that the shooter had not only pledged fealty to ISIS during the attack, but had been interviewed by the FBI, Trump mounted his ‘we have to fix this, we have to fix that’ horse and basically supported denying terror ‘suspects,’ no matter how suspect, access to guns.

trump2           Taking away gun access to anyone other than a convicted felon, habitual drug user, crazy person or fugitive (in other words, the ‘prohibited’ categories used to deny 4473 transactions by the FBI,) is an absolute no-no when it comes to Gun-nut Nation, in particular the NRA.  The closest the NRA will come to any degree of compromise on this issue is their support of a bill introduced by an NRA Senatorial puppet, John Cornyn (R-TX), which basically says that someone who is on the Terror Watch List must wait 3 days to get a gun, during which time either a decision is made to deny the transfer or the gun walks out of the store.

This is the same procedure which is currently in place with FBI-NICS when a gun purchaser may or may not actually fall into a 4473 ‘prohibited category’ and the FBI needs additional time to decide which way the decision should go.  And the overwhelming number of these three-day delays are ultimately approved simply because the information needed by the FBI to make a final determination simply isn’t there. Cornyn’s bill mandates a three-day delay window, but since it really doesn’t create any kind of mechanism for figuring out whether someone on the No-Fly List or Terrorist Watch List might be a threat if he could get a gun, the bill doesn’t change anything at all.  Which is why the NRA supports the measure, because they love gun-control laws that don’t do anything to control firearms access at all.

Now here comes Trump, who no matter what issues he grabs, immediately becomes the veritable bull in a china shop, and invariably hurts himself more than he helps.  He attacked a Federal judge whose parents, not him, were from Mexico, and his support among Hispanics, if he had any support, disappeared.  He told LGBT that he was their ‘best friend,’ because if they can scratch up the $100,000 membership fee they can join his Palm Beach club.  And what he got for that bit of comic relief was a ringing denunciation from the Christian Rght, whose support for Street Thug stands right now at 62%, and by the way, these same voters supported Romney to the tune of 79%.

But running alongside their newly endorsed candidate is even more problematic for the NRA.  They don’t have to worry about the liberals, they’ll thrive on that until the cows come home.  It’s the chickens that could come home to roost from the Right if Fairfax appears to be bending, because it wouldn’t be the first time that other gun-owning organizations challenged the NRA.

Back in 2014, a bunch of Gun Crazies walked into a Chili’s with their ARs and AKs, the NRA chastised them for their ‘weird’ behavior, and then quickly issued an apology when the emails and phone calls started rolling in. Take a look at comments made by Larry Pratt, who happens to head something called Gun Owners of America, who has also tangled with the NRA. He makes Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox sound absolutely benign.

So we’ll soon find out if the NRA endorsement of Trump ends up as a blessing or a curse.

Making A Killing: Don’t Miss This Movie

There’s a media company in California called Brave New Films which earlier this year released a remarkable documentary about America and guns.  The film is called Making A Killing – Guns, Greed and the NRA, and from the title you can easily guess which side of the gun argument is being caught in this film.  It’s a lengthy production for a documentary, runs more than 90 minutes, and much of the footage is devoted to comments by the families and friends of people whose lives were ended because they got in the way of a loaded gun.

The film is divided into four basic segments, each covering a category of gun death with which we are all too familiar: domestic abuse where an ex-husband assaults the ex-wife, the accidental shooting of a young kid, the endless shootings which take place virtually every day in Chicago, and a suicide committed by a seemingly stable young man who runs out one day, gets a gun and does himself in.

Interspersed between each segment are some quick cameos of the usual gun-nonsense comments by Wayne-o, as well as various devotees of the 2nd Amendment including Rubio and Cruz.  I must say that juxtaposing a shooting victim lying in the street with Ted Cruz saying that expanded background checks won’t do “anything at all” makes the gap between gun violence reality and pro-gun political pandering a joy to behold.  Not that the film is joyful in any sense of that word, but I really am pleased at how the filmmakers created an aesthetic production without sacrificing any truth or honesty at all.

Of course there are people who will say that there’s no necessary connection between the fact that Glock pistols are used in countless acts of gun violence and that Gaston Glock lives in a beautiful mansion or that Wayne-o evidently keeps his front lawn neat and trim. And while the production weaves back and forth between data on the number of people killed and wounded by guns each year versus the revenue and profits that accrue to companies like S&W and Colt, ultimately the question has to be asked whether there are certain types of profit-making ventures where the physical costs ultimately outweigh the financial gains.  What the film does project in a particularly direct and emotional way is the efforts of the gun industry to separate itself from the physical toll connected to the products that it manufactures and sells.

This brings me to the last twenty minutes or so of the film and I am not sure if I can adequately convey the degree to which this final footage is simply beyond anything that exists when it comes to capturing the extreme violence associated with guns.  Because this last segment relives in the most graphic terms, the mass shooting in the movie theater at Aurora, and what makes it so chillingly and terribly effective is that in parts it is narrated by the shooter himself!

That’s right.  The filmmakers use some of the taped interviews with James Holmes to show how he methodically collected what he refers to as his ‘equipment,’ i.e., guns, ammo, smoke bombs and gear.  Then his voice narrates how he drove to the theater and parked out back.  Meanwhile, you are then taken inside the theater where moviegoers describe how they lined up for popcorn, went to their seats, settled back to watch the show.  And then here comes Holmes again who says, in a clinically measured voice, that planning the shooting was how he coped with his depression because going into stores and onto the internet to buy ammo and guns allowed him to “shift from the suicidal to the homicidal.” And then we hear a smoke bomb go off, and a theater security camera captures panicked, terrified people fleeing from the scene.

I can’t say any more.  See the film and judge for yourself.  The moviemakers set an initial goal of 1,000 screenings and 1,00,000 pairs of eyes in front of those screens and they are almost there.  Help them exceed that goal?  Contact Brave New Films.