Want To Really Take On The NRA? Here’s Where It Starts.

There’s old boy down in Virginia goes by the name Mark Carman.  Posted a video on his Facebook page and website waving around some little-ass Ruger pistol – talking one thing or ‘nuther ‘bout the 2nd Amendment. Got hisself a million hits, maybe more. Invited to the Big House up 1600 Pennsylvania way in DC.  Says that no ‘responsible’ gun owner should be afraid of universal background checks. I shoot my mouth off all the time about the 2nd Amendment and the closest I’ll ever get to the White House is to stand in front of Blair House across the street.

acrgo               What I really like about Carman, all kidding aside, is that he’s a bone-fide gun nut, same as me.  How do I know he’s a gun nut?  Because he’s from the South, which is where most gun nuts happen to be.  The truth is that guns are really a Southern thing; below Mason-Dixon gun ownership, gun use and gun violence go hand-in-hand.  So when an old boy like Carman starts saying he’s not afraid of universal background checks, like it or not he’s going to get some attention fast and quick.

I saw Mark’s video the day after it went live and today went back and viewed it again.  Then I switched over to the NRA video channel to compare his performance to the latest digital missives from Colion Noir and Dana Loesch.  The truth is that neither of them look or sound like they have any real connections to guns.  Yea, there’s Colion prancing around with an AR-15; Dana or someone whose rear end looks like Dana is pointing a pistol down range.  But the NRA videos have become too slick, too perfectly scripted, too predictable in terms of what they say. If I had a nickel for every time an NRA flack tells me that guns are the best way to protect myself from crime, I could quit work.

The video produced by Mark Carman looks like he shot it with a Droid propped up against a bookshelf on the bedroom wall.  Out of focus, lighting patchy at best, any second you think the whole gizmo is going to break down and you’ll be staring at a blank screen.  But it’s exactly the lack of pretense, the amateurish quality (believe me, Carman’s no amateur) which gives this video its power and its strength.  To use an overused word, this thing’s authentic and the message, even when Carman mumbles and drops a syllable here and there, is sharp and clear.

Because the real problem with the NRA which comes through in everything they do and say, is that the gun world is divided into ‘us’ and ‘them,’ the good guys versus the bad guys, the ones who totally agree with us and the ones who don’t.  They’ve become shrill, they’ve become strident, take a look at their videos and see if a smile ever crosses anyone’s face.  I’m sorry folks, but I lived through wars, recessions, illnesses and premature deaths.  Making me go to a licensed dealer every time I want to buy or sell a gun just isn’t that big a deal.

It’s this sense of perspective which gives Mark Carman’s video the upper hand.  Wait until near the end when he takes on the whole question of the registration of guns.  I really can’t convey how flawlessly he demolishes the ‘slippery-slope’ NRA argument when he says, “You’ve got a concealed-carry license, you’ve got a hunting license.  You think the government doesn’t know you own guns?”  Perfect. Just perfect.

And during the entire video, all eleven minutes, he’s holding onto that cheap-ass little Ruger and you know he just enjoys fiddlin’ with one of his guns. When a guy like that says that gun folks shouldn’t be afraid to support common-sense rules to keep guns out of the wrong hands, you’re hearing it about as honestly as it can be said.  And gun folks tend to be honest folks too. Which is why Mark will clean the NRA’s clock.

 

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What Happened To All The Concern About Guns?

For a few months after Sandy Hook, it looked like the government was going to pass a new gun control law, specifically aimed at keeping guns out of the “wrong” hands. The president got behind a bill, ditto the gun-control advocacy groups, the pundits wrote and spoke, even the lamentably tragic Newtown parents had their moment on the White House porch.

Meanwhile, everyone forgot the simple fact that the Democrats could barely muster 60 votes for any kind of legislation, a weakness that was exploited by the NRA and its allies to a remarkably-effective degree. All the polls showed a majority of Americans favored stricter gun control, but those numbers didn’t translate into 60 votes on the Senate floor, so Manchin-Toomey quickly died.

Then nine months and one day after Adam Lanza went on a rampage in Newtown, another loony named Aaron Alexis killed 12 people at the Navy Yard in DC and the response from the White House and Capitol Hill was no response at all. But here’s the more important news: Four days after the Navy Yard shooting, Gallup conducted its annual poll on whether Americans thought we needed stricter gun control, and the percentage of respondents who wanted stricter laws declined significantly from the previous year!

Gallup has been running this poll since 2000, and the question is always the same: “Do you feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?” The high watermark for making the laws more strict was the first year of the poll, with 62 percent wanting the laws to be more strict and 31 percent wanting them to remain the same.

Year after year the trends narrowed until 2011-2012, when the percentage of Americans who wanted stricter gun laws versus those who saw no reason for change were basically the same. Then we had Sandy Hook, and for the first time since the poll was initially conducted, respondents by almost a two-to-one margin once again opted for stricter laws covering guns.

And yet, according to the latest Gallup finding in the aftermath of both Newtown and the Navy Yard, for the first time since 2008, less than 50 percent want stricter gun laws and the percentages who want the laws unchanged (37 percent) or want the laws to be less strict (13 percent) have both gone up.

How is it that a majority of Americans now believe gun laws should be weakened or remain the same? Part of the answer lies in the degree to which the NRA and the NSSF have continued their grass-roots efforts to mobilize their memberships while the gun control groups, lacking a legislative push on Capitol Hill, have gone back to sleep. The gun folks have become obsessively safety-conscious, just take a look at the NSSF’s Project ChildSafe website and you’ll get my point.

But the real reason for this attitudinal change is because public opinion doesn’t push politics, it’s usually the other way around: political leadership shapes public opinion. The jump in public demand for more gun control after Sandy Hook occurred because the president made guns an issue in every speech he gave. Once Obama and the Democrats stopped talking about gun violence, so did everyone else.

If you believe that we need stricter gun laws, then the year since Sandy Hook should give you no comfort at all. You might cynically believe that gun control will remain on the back burner until another massacre takes place, but if it happens when political agendas are focused on other issues, even the slightest attempt to push a common-sense response to gun violence probably won’t get very far.

Will the 2014 Election be Red or Blue?

National_Rifle_Association

National_Rifle_Association (Photo credit: ChrisWaldeck)

This morning I received an email from Chris Cox, who spearheads the membership campaigns for the NRA.  The email referred to a recent comment by Michelle Obama at a New York fundraiser in which she asked the guests to donate to the 2014 campaign in order to push through the President’s agenda; issues which, of course, include the gun control bill that failed to pass the Senate earlier this year.  The point of Cox’s email, which also solicited a contribution, was that , “next year’s elections will decide whether you and I get to keep our freedom, or if we will lose the Second Amendment as we know it…PERIOD.”

It would be easy to dismiss Cox’s hyped-up rhetoric except that it might just be true.  And the reason I say this is that while the Colorado recall last September was a big victory for the NRA, more recent election results seem to indicate a turning of the tide.  In particular I’ll draw your attention to the close contest for Attorney General in Virginia which, although there will be a recount, will still probably end up with the election of a Democrat who ran a very explicit anti-gun campaign. Not only did he charge his opponent, State Senator Mark Obenshain, with opposing “common-sense” gun controls, he also brought such gun control heavies as Gabbie Giffords into the state to campaign on his behalf.

Virginia has been turning steadily more blue and less red but that only reflects trends that are happening elsewhere as well.  Slowly but surely the county is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, the population is increasingly urbanized or suburbanized, the percentage of households that admit to gun ownership, according to Gallup, keeps going down.  Overwhelmingly gun owners are white, male, high school but not college educated, and located in smaller cities and towns, particularly in the South.   While people who fit this profile may vote overwhelmingly Republican, the truth is that this profile just doesn’t register majorities at the polls, particularly in ‘battleground’ states like Virginia which hold the key to electoral victory every four years.

Right now, and of course things could always change, whichever party wins two of three states – Florida, Virginia, Ohio – will control the White House in 2016.  And don’t think that the GOP is in any better shape when it comes to their majority in the House of Representatives, because even though they currently enjoy a 31-seat edge (but will lose the majority if the Democrats pick up 17 seats), in 2012 they actually lost the total popular House vote.

Given those numbers, I don’t think that Chris Cox is being at all extreme when he says that gun owners could lose their 2nd-Amendment “rights.”  Of course this assumes that any change in current gun regulations, even something as feeble as Manchin-Toomey, represents an erosion of the right to bear arms.  The NRA would like everyone to believe that gun ownership is as mainstream and traditionally American as apple pie.  But what’s really mainstream is the notion that everyone has the right to vote.  And right now, the votes don’t seem to be adding up for the NRA.

 

 

Obama’s Putting Together an Arsenal Thanks To The TSA

There’s been a rumor floating around (thank you Glenn Beck) that Obama has been putting together a secret army that will surround the White House and protect him when the real Americans – the 3 percenters and all the other patriots – finally rise up, take our country back and preserve our God-given, constitutional rights. So I’m here to announce that I have found Obama’s arsenal, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the TSA.

English: A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage.

English: A TSA officer screens a piece of luggage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You see, the TSA is responsible for security at all the airports, and even though there are warnings and signs all over the place telling passengers to stow their weapons in checked luggage, the folks who screen carry-on bags before passengers go to their gates just keep finding more and more guns.  In 2011 the TSA found more than 1,200 guns, in 2012 the number was over 1,500.  If the 2013 rate continues, by the end of the year the number will exceed 2,000.  That’s nearly 4,000 guns in three years.  Not a bad haul.

Of course some of the guns don’t look like they would be carried by any kind of army, unless it’s an army that has a special need for really small-caliber weapons.  In the three weeks from September 27 through October 17, for example, TSA confiscated 99 guns, of which 6 were 22 or 25 caliber, but there were also 27 pistols that were 9mm, 40 or 45-caliber, and that’s plenty of firepower for any army, whether in the pay of the President or not.  And the good news is that most of the guns were loaded, 84 of the 99 found over those three weeks, which means that the Presidential militia doesn’t even need to stop off at Dick’s Sporting Goods or Cabela’s to get ready to rumble because gun-toting Americans have made sure that the guns they’re taking on airplanes are ready to go.

Unfortunately for the President, his arsenal seems to be mainly handguns; after all, it’s not all that easy to stash an assault rifle (oops – a modern sporting rifle) into your carry-on before getting on a plane.  But Americans have always been an ingenious lot, so while the Presidential militia may be short on long guns, they’ll have enough explosives to help them carry the day.  In the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport someone walked through the line with a live, 40mm grenade; in Grand Junction there was 6 lbs. of black powder, detonation cords and a timing fuse; and a live blasting cap was found on a passenger in Richmond, Virginia.  I know, I know, they all just ‘forgot’ that they were carrying explosives onto a plane.  When was the last time you forgot that you were carrying explosives? When was the last time you carried explosives anywhere?

Getting back to the would-be passengers whose guns were taken away – know what?  It was clearly a violation of their 2nd Amendment rights.  And worse, they just wanted to bring their Glock into a ‘gun-free zone’ so that the rest of us would be protected from the nuts who figure they can shoot the place up because nobody’s got a gun.  In the light of District of Columbia versus Heller we really need to re-think our policy about allowing guns on planes.  And Obama needs to stop using the TSA to build his secret weapons cache.

Four thousand guns in three years? By the time Obama leaves office the TSA will probably be sitting on 10,000 guns.  Any chance that the TSA will let me buy the whole pile to increase the used gun inventory in my store?