Gun Control

The Best Thing To Happen To Gun Safety In Years Snuck Right Under The Noses Of The NRA


It seems the Obama administration has been working outside of the public view to expand a program of background check reporting between agencies under the purview of the executive branch of government, and the result may just be the best thing that’s happened for gun safety in this country in years, if not decades.

The program, currently adhered to by the VA under the Brady Bill, requires that all veterans receiving financial help from the government that have been deemed incapable of controlling their own finances be reported as ineligible to purchase a firearm.

Since 2008, veterans who feel they aren’t a danger to themselves or others even though they’ve been deemed incompetent, have the right to file for an appeal. As of April, nine of the 298 appeals filed have been granted, and another 44 dismissed after financial incompetence was overturned.

Essentially the Veterans Administration is required to report people who don’t have the mental capacity to balance a checkbook or pay their own utilities. The NRA has argued for years that this program is an egregious violation of those people’s second amendment rights. The argument that a person deemed mentally incapable of caring for themselves should still be able to purchase a weapon is, of course, completely insane in its own right.

Now the NRA, and all conservatives by proxy, are absolutely infuriated because as the LA Times reported, the administration is looking to expand this highly successful reporting system to the Social Security Administration. If successful, more than four million people who can’t care for themselves would be added to the list of those who can’t purchase a firearm. The disqualifying factor would be anyone with a representative payee for their benefits would immediately be reported.

Other groups that aid in discrimination against those with disabilities are upset with the idea that simply being incapable of handling your own finances could disqualify a disabled person from their second amendment rights, but much like the VA rules, that determination could be overturned on judicial review.

It is reported that 2.7 million people with representative payees have mental issues of the type that would already disqualify them by law from owning a gun. Another 1.5 million have payees for various other reasons.

Under this brilliant new policy those 2.7 million who may have slipped through the reporting cracks because they aren’t on a court docket or their state or county lacks the kind of reporting system Republicans shot down after Sandy Hook for mental instability or deficiencies, drug addiction and more will be added to the list of people it is illegal to sell a gun to.

Conservatives are outraged. The NRA is in a tizzy. People who are tired of the never-ending violence looking to stem the bleeding of our society from senseless gun violence will be able to applaud yet another action by an administration that continues to prove that even with an obstinate, obstructive Congress of fools looking to stop them at every turn, They can still do right by the American people.

9 signs America’s gun obsession is getting worse

9 signs America's gun obsession is getting worse

(Credit: chinahbzyg via Shutterstock)


The recent news has been filled with anything but acceptable behavior by gun nuts. A Montana man sets a trap for burglars and  executes a teenage intruder. A Virginia man strapping on a holster shoots himself in the penis. So-called open-carry  activists keep walking into Texas malls and restaurant  chains with assault rifles. And federal airport screeners say 2014 will set a record for travelers  forgetting they are carrying guns.

In response, millions of women  protested the misogynist rampage near Santa Barbara that killed six, placing violence against women in the national spotlight. In 2014, five states  passed laws limiting domestic abusers’ access to guns, and several bills allowing guns on school grounds were blocked. Longtime gun defenders know that the ghastly  statistics on gun violence against women is a powerful avenue for control advocates, yet they can’t stop their side’s fanatics from taunting the public with assault rifles.

These are some of the dots to be connected in the national landscape over gun violence, gun control efforts and pro-gun extremism. In some respects, gun nuts are losing ground in the battle for public opinion because of their provocations—such as carrying assault rifles into the  baby section of Target stores. But even as new groups like Moms Demand Action are helping to pass new controls and blocking pro-gun laws, decades of NRA electioneering has made the states, not Congress, the frontline for real reform.

What follows are nine points showing the craziness and changing factors over guns.

1. Women, Not Students, Are The Target Of Most Mass Gun Murder. There have been 74 shootings at schools across the U.S. since the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, according to  Everytown For Gun Safety—which, astoundingly, the pro-gun side claims is an inflated figure. As headline-grabbing as school shootings are, the under-reported daily target and toll from gun violence involves women. More American women have been  murdered by their intimate partners using guns since 2001 (6,410) than U.S. troops have been killed in combat (5,315) in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Center for American Progress  reports. Guns are involved in at least 34 percent of all murders of women commited by their partners, an average of five a day, CAP found from crime statistics.

2. States With The Laxest Gun Laws Have The Most Violence. America has so many guns that not a week goes by without something stupid or deadly occurring. It’s easy to smirk at the Virginia man who  shot his penis while strapping on a holster. It’s more serious as federal airport screeners  report that states with the fewest gun controls see the most people “forgetting” they’re carrying a gun as try to board planes. It gets deadly when a gun owner takes the law into his own hands and sets up an ambush in his home  killing the young intruder—as happened in Montana. Study after study  finds that states with the laxest gun laws have the most gun-related violence—including murder.

3. Absurdly, Gun Nuts Say They Are Threatened. There is no better illustration of the selfish, irresponsible and anti-democratic nature of the pro-gun side than to look at what their extremists are doing as most people are repulsed by the rash of school shootings. In Texas, the open-carry movement has seen dozens of young men and a few women march into restaurants and chain stores catering to women—like  Target—toting military-style rifles. These jerks claim they are asserting their Second Amendment rights and freedoms. Their antics have prompted people to panic, leave and call in the police. These incidents have disgusted longtime NRA defenders, such as editor Bob Owens, who  wrote, “If someone has an idea of how to break through to them that they are not only hurting their alleged cause but gun owners as well, I’d love to hear your advice.”

4. Gun Nuts Admit They Cannot Control Gun Nuts. To be fair, many readers commenting on Owens’ latest open-carry column  agree that these fanatics have crossed a line. But some of them are so out-of-touch with their sides’ extremists that they think they are secretly being paid by gun control groups to act. “They are probably being paid by [ex-New York mayor Michael] Bloomberg,”  wrote one pro-gun commenter. But it would be a mistake to think that these homegrown terrorists—as Hillary Clinton just  called them in a speech—are outliers on the pro-gun side. When a low-level NRA staffer recently wrote a memo criticizing them, top NRA brass quickly  apologized to the Texas activists. What the NRA considers acceptable is anything but.

5. Americans Aren’t Standing For This—Starting With Big Business. Chains such as Starbucks, Chipotle, Chili’s, Sonic and Jack in the Box have all drawn a line against the open carry activists, saying gun-toting customers aren’t welcome. So have Costco, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Food Lion, Whole Foods and IKEA, according to the relatively new gun-control group, It has launched a campaign, #OffTarget, to push the retailer to do likewise. “Semi-automatic assault rifles don’t belong in the baby aisle—or anywhere else in Target,” its website says. “Nearly 90 percent of Target customers are women; they need to know we expect them to get gun sense.”

6. The NRA Is Facing Opposition and Losing. After the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012, both gun-control and gun rights groups mobilized. More than 1,500 bills on both sides were  introduced in legislatures in 2013. While most went nowhere, a handful of red states, like Georgia, bought the NRA line that the answer to gun violence was more guns and looser gun laws. On the other hand, the gun control side saw some big victories, said Laura Cutilletto, senior staff attorney at the  Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence. “Several states last year closed the private sale loophole. That is the biggest priority of our movement,” she said, noting that New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado now join California and Rhode Island in requiring a background check for all gun sales. Three of those states and Illinois also beat the NRA and now require gun owners to report lost and stolen weapons. And four states that previously banned military assault-style weapons have tightened those laws.

7. Women-Centered Gun Control Groups Getting Results. The post-Sandy Hook landscape has seen new groups emerge, such as  Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. With Congress deadlocked on gun controls, they have been very active in state legislatures. They could not  stop Indiana’s bill allowing people to keep guns in their cars on school grounds, but they helped  block a similar bill in Rhode Island. They  stopped an Oklahoma bill that would have lowered the criminal penalty from carrying a hidden and loaded gun into a school. They also were part of a bipartisan coalition in Wisconsin that  helped to pass a bill barring domestic abusers from owning or possessing guns—one of five states to do that in 2014. And, along with  Mayors Against Illegal Guns, co-founded by New York City’s Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s Tom Menino, they are tracking and speaking out on what’s happening in city halls, legislatures and courts nationwide.

8. Gun Nuts React With New Big Lie And CNN Buys It. According to Everytown, which grew out of the Mayors’ group, there have been  74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. That tally threatens the NRA, as does the number of women killed by guns during domestic violence. There’s nothing new about gun nuts feeling aggrieved and fighting back. But, as the Daily Beast’sBrandy Zadrozny writes, one pro-gun writer has been waging a Twitter campaign to debunk the Everytown count. As she noted, “In what may be the most tortuous sentence ever constructed, he wrote, ‘It’s not a school shooting when someone goes and shoots a specific person on campus. It’s a shooting that happens to take place at school.” Believe it or not, CNN has followed this illogic and reported that only 15 of these rampages should be called school shootings. Not included are guns accidentally firing in school hallways, suicides by students after threats to other students, and other deeply traumatizing incidents.

9. Gun Control Groups Are Making Progress, But The Road Is Long. Before Sandy Hook, no one would have predicted that a handful of even blue states would pass laws closing the gun sale loophole, requiring lost and stolen guns be reported, and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Moreover, few would have predicted that women-centered gun control groups would emerge and forcefully challenge and in some instances break the NRA’s spell over state legislators. Nor would many people have predicted that millions of women would join an online campaign against misogyny and gun-related domestic violence.

But despite all that progress, the biggest hurdle is one that’s been out front all along—breaking the congressional deadlock on gun control. According to Larry Sabato’s  Crystal Ball, there are nine U.S. House races in 2014 that are “toss-ups,” or too close to call. Six of those are in states with C or worse  ratings by the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. And most are not in states with recent school shootings. That suggests guns aren’t going to be a top issue in those 2014 campaigns, underscoring how hard it is to convince Congress to get real about the epidemic of gun violence in America.

NRA’s “really big problem”: Why it’s dependent on a dwindling fringe

NRA's "really big problem": Why it's dependent on a dwindling fringe

Cliven Bundy, Wayne LaPierre (Credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus/AP/Evan Vucci)


Gun lobby is now reliant on an increasingly radical right-wing sect — and that spells trouble, an expert explains

During a Tumblr Q&A earlier this week, President Obama said that one of his biggest frustrations since entering the White House has been how “this society has not been willing to take some basic steps” in order to prevent the kinds of mass shootings that have become so horribly prominent as of late. “We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens,” Obama continued. Speaking of Congress’ inability to buck the NRA and pass even a meager background check bill, Obama said lawmakers should “be ashamed.”

The source of lawmakers’ fear is, of course, the NRA and its massively influential, and feared, lobbying apparatus. Indeed, it’s likely that no organization is as feared in Washington as the NRA, despite the fact that its views — as embodied by the odious Wayne LaPierre — are clearly outside the mainstream and far too close to those usually associated with the kind of right-wing terrorists who recently murdered three people in Las Vegas. Put simply, the NRA is not only abnormally influential, but abnormally extreme, too.

Hoping to learn more about how the NRA has managed to associate itself with dangerous right-wing extremists like the Las Vegas shooters, Salon called up Josh Sugarmann, executive director and founder of the Violence Policy Center, a pro-gun safety nonprofit that has done extensive work toward exposing the NRA’s diseased politics and the cynical business model that undergirds them. Our conversation can be found below, and has been edited for clarity and length.

What’s your reaction to the recent shootings in Las Vegas as well as Oregon?

I think right now we’re living in America that most people really could not imagine, and the fact that what were once rare events in this country — mass shootings in public spaces — are becoming increasingly common. I think when you look at these issues and you look at the gun debate in this country, we’re reaching a tipping point where to remain a civilized society, we have to do something.

Like what?

Well, I think the first thing that has to be done is we have to take a step back, we have to take a long view to see the changes that have occurred in the gun industry, in the NRA, in how guns are used in our country, and not try and fit short-term solutions to specific shootings. We have to take a step back, look at the changes in the gun industry, changes in gun ownership in this country, changes in how guns are marketed, and from that start constructing a policy that really would have a real effect on gun death and injury in this country. One of the most striking things and one of the most unique about the gun industry is that it’s the only manufacturer of consumer products that is not regulated for health and safety by a federal agency.

You say there have been changes in how the NRA and manufacturers are marketing guns. What kind of changes?

All this occurs against a backdrop that, when the industry and the NRA talk amongst themselves, they’re very open about, but rarely do they concede it when making public statements. And that’s a fact that gun ownership in the U.S. is on a steady decline. In 1977, 54 percent of American households had a gun in them. By 2012, that number had dropped to 34 percent. (And this comes from the general social survey that’s done by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. It’s the most cited social survey in the country. It’s the only survey that has consistently looked at this issue.) So what the industry is faced with is the fact that gun owners are aging; they’re dying off. And the constant pressure [the NRA] faces is two-fold. One is, how do you resell current gun owners? And the second is, how do you market to, for lack of a better phrase, “replacement shooters”? Just like the tobacco industry [has “replacement smokers“].

So, for current gun owners, lethality has been the [marketers’] focus. And this starts from marketing high-capacity semi-auto pistols through assault weapons to new-generation what you call “pocket rocket pistols”: smaller in size, greater in capacity to, today, [a] new generation of assault pistols and then literal crossover military technology, like 50 caliber sniper rifles. The other marketing focus today, looking at the current gun-owning population, is concealed carry. The concealed carry wasn’t viewed solely in a political context, but in fact it represents one of the last great marketing efforts by the industry. The fact is that not only can you sell people more handguns; you can sell them all the accessories, the training, everything that goes along with it, down to clothing. There’s a fairly famous quote that Tanya Metaksa, who was the NRA’s former top lobbyist, offered in 1996 in sort of a burst of honesty, when she told the Wall Street Journal as the NRA launched the concealed carry campaign, “The gun industry should send me a basket of fruit” because [she] created a whole new market for them. The other issue is [an] attempt to market to women, [an] attempt to market to young people, including children, and that’s been an ongoing effort…

Do you think the Millers, the couple who killed those people and themselves in Las Vegas — and who reportedly bragged about how many weapons they owned — are the kind of fringier, more radical gun enthusiasts the NRA is now marketing to?

The NRA has a really big problem — and that’s being the NRA. They can no longer rely on increased gun sales [and] increased gun ownership as a whole for new members. So, what we’ve seen is they’ve taken for the most part two approaches. The first is that … they’ve basically cemented their relationship with the gun industry. Back in 1967, in the NRA’s official history, they bragged or just stated that they accepted no money [from and] had no relationship with gun manufacturers, distributors, jobbers. [There] was a complete bright line between the two. By 2013, soon after the Newtown shooting, the president of the NRA, then-president David Keene, said when asked this question about the relationship between NRA and the industry … said, “We get some” — and basically, to paraphrase it — “and we’d like to get more!” [T]he first shift is that the NRA and industry are working together to market guns. If you go to the NRA’s website, it is almost awash in sponsorships from the gun industry, from specific manufacturers … The head of Smith & Wesson, James Debney, basically has said, “The NRA” — this is a quote — “is our voice.”

The second [change] is because of the shift we’ve seen in the demographics of gun ownership, the NRA has reached out, and reached out to a segment of gun owners, they know is very, very engaged, and basically [in order] to engage that segment of gun owners, they’ve relied upon paranoia and fear and [hyping] anti-gun rhetoric. This can be traced back during the Clinton administration to some high-profile events: Waco, Ruby Ridge. But when Clinton came in, the NRA said, this was one of their covers, “The final war has begun.” And there was a complete attack on [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives], the FBI, and really, putting out there, the idea that the government is the enemy, and not only are you at risk in a political sense from, say, gun laws, but your personal safety is at risk. The thing that’s most important about this is: The NRA plays a validating role for people’s fear and suspicion and anger. You know, they can think the government’s the enemy; they can think law enforcement is the enemy. But it’s the NRA that basically validates it and helps feed this fear and feed this anger … The first time that this kind of broke into the public consciousness was the Oklahoma City bombing, where … the NRA said “The final war has begun” and [Timothy] McVeigh set the date.

After that, the NRA reacted. They basically ratcheted down their rhetoric. They brought on Charlton Heston, whom they viewed as sort of a soft face for the organization, and the final war that had been sort of been the centerpiece under Tanya Metaksa and other NRA leadership members turned into Charlton Heston’s culture war, and that was sort of a softer focus for much of the same language but without the confrontational aspect. Since then, the NRA recognized that they have to appeal to — I mean, hunting, hunting as an activity is fading away — so what you’re finding is that the activists … the NRA relies upon are those who buy into its paranoid language and truly believe the government is the enemy … [W]hen the NRA is criticized for this or confronted with their own language, they fall into this excuse of  ”it’s just direct mail rhetoric; it’s just articles to engage our membership. It really is a risk-free activity,” and what we’re seeing is, that’s not the case. It’s not risk-free activity. The NRA’s validating role cannot be matched by any other organization, and most importantly — and this is where it all comes full circle — the NRA’s the organization assured that those who want to live out these wild fantasies have the exact tools to accomplish it.

And that’s what brings us to the shooting in Las Vegas, where you had a couple that, you know, on their Facebook, liked the NRA, loved guns and hated the government and [reached] the point of draping the Gadsden Flag — which is something the NRA embraced in 2010 — on their victims’ bodies. They brought the Gadsden Flag emblem into their line of clothing to appeal to, at best, Tea Party members; at worst, people like the Las Vegas shooters. And that’s where we are today. [T]he deadly combination of the anger the NRA validates and the ability, and their working to make sure they have the tools to act on it is what many of, is what is leading us down this lethal path.

Besides embracing the Gadsden flag, what are some other dog-whistles and other subtle nods to extremist views that the NRA engages in?

When they talk to this segment of their membership, the cues are the United Nations, the Obama administration, government as a whole, various arms of government (like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), foreign countries, and really, it gets down to you start with that and you work your way down to institutions like the news media, foundations—basically, everybody who’s not the NRA, one or the other ends up on the NRA’s enemies list. It really is a concerted attempt to personalize the threat that you face according to the National Rifle Association, and the answer to whatever the threat is, you know, is going to be a gun. I was doing a presentation the other day, and I was just looking at the NRA’s cover of the Americans’ First Freedom Magazine, and just some examples, sort of, as I mentioned earlier, of fueling the paranoia. There’s a cover with the UN. There’s “Gun Owners Under Siege.” There’s Barack Obama. There’s the state of Connecticut. There’s Michael Bloomberg … [I]t’s this effort to create a world not just that you should be fearful of, but that’s actually out to get you, such as it concerns the federal government.

You mentioned that the NRA announced the launch of the “final” war during the Clinton presidency and that Obama, himself, is a popular hate-figure for NRA members. So how much do partisan politics play into this? Are there more mass shootings under Democratic presidents?

don’t know the answer to that. I’d have to go back and look at the numbers. I mean, overall, we have seen a decrease in gun deaths in this country over the past decade or so. I think certainly — and there are experts in the field who know much more than I do — that we do see a dramatic increase in this anti-government rhetoric, the power of say, the Patriot Movement, the engagement of these groups, when there are Democratic presidents. Certainly the NRA, which is driven not by political need but financial needs, does everything it can to fundraise off of any Democratic president …

I’d like to return to what we spoke of earlier and talk about what specific remedies lawmakers can embrace that would take into consideration how the NRA has changed and how the market for guns has changed.

The first thing that needs to be done is we need to recognize that the common thread that runs through mass shootings and that really shapes gun violence as we know it today is a combination of semi-auto firearms, detachable ammunition magazines, and it ranges from high-capacity pistols to semi-automatic assault rifles. The first thing we have to do is recognize changes we’ve seen in the industry to help feed this violence. The second thing we have to do is bring the industry into the gun debate and basically expose what they’ve become … If you make a gun that’s 50 caliber or less and it’s semi-auto and has a barrel of a certain length, you can make anything you want. And they’ve taken grotesque advantage of that with the application of military technology to the civilian marketplace.

I think most Americans would be shocked at the gun industry has become. I think they view it through this lens of the guns that their parents or their grandparents had. You know, hunting rifles and shotguns and six-shot revolvers. That gun industry doesn’t exist anymore. It’s been replaced by one that embraces lethality as measured by firepower and capacity. The first thing is to bring industry into the debate to reveal what they’ve become. Second, we need to ratchet down the firepower in civilian hands. We need to get assault weapons off our streets and off the gun store shelves … We should ban handguns … if we have the opportunity to do it under the Supreme Court’s rulings, we should look at that issue and have an honest debate about it. And finally, I think that short of that, we need to look at what policy would be put in place that would limit the availability of increased firepower in the civilian population and make sure that, with those who do buy firearms, we do the best that we can to make sure that they fall outside of restricted categories that are contained in federal law.

How optimistic are you that any of this may be accomplished soon? Do you think we’re reaching a kind of tipping point in terms of these spectacular, public acts of gun violence?

I think if we do nothing, we’re going to continue down a path that will change the way we live as a nation. I don’t believe that we’re going to become so numb to gun violence that events that we’ve seen in the past … are going to become acceptable to us. So I think I am optimistic and have the faith in the American people that at some point, parents, employers, communities are going to rise up and say, “Enough is enough.”




attribution: Huffington Post

I’m not sure if his plan will work against this powerful (deep pockets) organization, but I admire his efforts…

The New York Times

Bloomberg Plans a $50 Million Challenge to the N.R.A.

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.

“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ”

He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”

The considerable advantages that gun rights advocates enjoy — in intensity, organization and political clout — will not be easy to overcome. Indeed, Mr. Bloomberg has already spent millions of dollars trying to persuade members of Congress to support enhanced background check laws with virtually nothing to show for it.

What is more, for many gun owners, the issue is a deeply personal one that energizes them politically, said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, who dismissed the mayor’s plans.

“He’s got the money to waste,” Mr. Pratt said. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But frankly, I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”

The N.R.A. had no comment.

Mr. Bloomberg’s blueprint reimagines the way gun control advocates have traditionally confronted the issue. Rather than relying so heavily on television ad campaigns, Mr. Bloomberg will put a large portion of his resources into the often-unseen field operations that have been effective for groups like the N.R.A. in driving single-issue, like-minded voters to the polls.

Women, and mothers in particular, will be the focus of the organizing and outreach, a path that he and his advisers have modeled after groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The plans call for a restructuring of the gun control groups he funds, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. They will be brought under one new umbrella group called Everytown for Gun Safety.

The strategy will focus not on sweeping federal restrictions to ban certain weapons, but instead will seek to expand the background check system for gun buyers both at the state and national levels.

The $50 million could be significant: In recent years, the N.R.A. has spent only $20 million annually on political activities. The political groups affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers, who are seeking to help Republicans take over the Senate, have spent about $30 million in the last six months.

The group will zero in on 15 target states, from places like Colorado and Washington State, where gun control initiatives have advanced recently, to territory that is likely to be more hostile like Texas, Montana and Indiana. They have set a goal of signing up one million new supporters this year on top of the 1.5 million they already have.

Previous efforts by Mr. Bloomberg to push gun control have touched off tensions with national Democratic leaders, because he has run negative ads against incumbent Democrats whom he views as insufficiently supportive of gun control. The Democratic leaders argue that Mr. Bloomberg threatens to hand control of the Senate to Republicans, which they say would doom any hope of passing gun control legislation.

Mr. Bloomberg dismissed those fears, saying he was concerned only with the long term.

“You can tell me all you want that the Republicans would be worse in the Senate than the Democrats,” he said. “Maybe they would. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.”

Underscoring his desire to work with both parties, Mr. Bloomberg is bringing on a new advisory board with prominent Republican and Democratic figures. Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush; Eli Broad, the philanthropist; Warren Buffett, the investor; and Michael G. Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both Mr. Bush and President Obama, will all be board members.

Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that his new efforts would require a dedication not just of money but also of time — two things he now has in abundance.

“You’ve got to work at it piece by piece,” he added. “One mom and another mom. You’ve got to wear them down until they finally say, ‘Enough.’ ”

Continue reading here…

Shame On DC: Americans Speak Out Against Washington’s Inaction On Gun Control

The Gun Caucus

The Huffington Post

One year has passed since 20 children and six teachers were shot and killed in Newtown, Conn., and yet, Washington, D.C. has still failed to enact major legislation on gun control. Using #ShameOnDC, Americans throughout the country wrote in to HuffPost Live to express their frustration, advocate for change, and make their voices heard.

“I am a mother endowed with old-fashioned common sense and respect for the sanctity of human life. And I am here on behalf of my two children unafraid to say that the gun lobby emperor has no clothes.”
— Jennifer Mendelsohn, mother of two children

“I know longer think of gun violence as something that happens to somebody else. Those meaningless numbers are real people to me now.”
— Pam Simon, 2011 Tuscon shooting survivor

“It’s such a magical age… A six-year-old may want to be a veterinarian one day, a ninja the next, and a banker after that.”
— Kimberly Wilkins, mother of seven-year-old son

“The instant he drew his last breath was when I decided that too many [children] have died.”
— Mary Leigh Blek, lost son to gun shooting in 1994

“The service we ask of you is one that demands you imagine what isn’t yet, what appears to be beyond what you can accomplish and then make it happen.”
— Rabbi Aaron Alexander

“It’s a terrible thing to know that your government would rather cave to gun lobbyists and their money than to stand up for innocent children, students, employees, and citizens.”
— Ariana Henderson, student at Penn State University

Has the death of federal gun legislation been greatly exaggerated?

Crosses symbolizing grave markers sit on the National Mall in April as part of a 24-hour vigil to "remind Congress action is needed on gun violence prevention." 

Crosses symbolizing grave markers sit on the National Mall in April as part of a 24-hour vigil to “remind Congress action is needed on gun violence prevention.”

In a word…yes.

The Week

Six months after the Newtown mass shooting, Democrats are starting to quietly restart the gun-control engines

Six months have passed since a lone gunman walked in to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and shot 20 small children and six adults. The big push for legislation to curb gun violence that followed Newtown peaked in April, in a Senate showdown where supporters of the bill were unable to get 60 votes to break a Republican-led filibuster.

The Week‘s Jon Terbush noted earlier this week that this defeat took the wind out of the sails of the gun-control movement — and now, he says, “the prospect of gun control legislation getting a second wind seems unlikely.”

Senate Democrats, apparently, disagree. “The fight is not over, it has just begun,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday, flanked by families of the Newtown victims. “We may have lost the first vote, but we’re going to win the last one,” added Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

They aren’t just blowing hot air, says Jonathan Weisman in The New York Times. Congressional Democrats and the White House are quietly renewing their effort to pass gun safety legislation “amid delicate talks on a new background-check measure that advocates hope could change enough votes from no to yes.” The number of votes needed is daunting, and Reid warned that any new measure can’t be weaker than the one stymied in April, but this does provide supporters a concrete glimmer of hope.

The quiet talks between two senators who voted against the bill, Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) “officially do not exist,” Weisman adds. Both lawmakers “deny the existence of negotiations or legislation.” At the same time, “other senators are openly acknowledging and encouraging the effort and say the talks are building momentum.” And if Begich and Ayotte switch their votes, supporters need at least three more nay-to-aye conversions. (Stand-in Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa [R-N.J.] is a wild card.)

Supporters of the gun measures say that if Begich and Ayotte can reach a deal on background checks that’s robust enough for Democrats and different enough to make vote-switching look credible, four other senators may join them. That would be enough to pass at least that part of the gun safety package.

But none of the potential switchers are encouraging talk of a renewed push, and Democratic leaders are increasingly urging New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) to put down one of his financial weapons, his threat to spend heavily to defeat Democrats who voted against the bill. A Republican-led Senate would spell the death of gun control, Reid says he told Bloomberg, to unknown effect: “He’s kind of a free spirit, and a very rich one.”

Just because the “recalcitrant Senate succumbed to pressure from gun manufacturers and the NRA’s leadership and failed to pass even the most modest measure” doesn’t mean the post-Newtown gun control push has failed, say Robyn Thomas and Juliet Leftwich in the Los Angeles Times.

Since the Newtown tragedy, gun regulation has made enormous gains in states across the country, with more on the horizon. In fact, an unprecedented number of gun control laws have been introduced, debated, voted on and enacted this year. What a difference Sandy Hook and six months have made…. In all, we’ve seen a year-to-year increase of 231 percent in the introduction of common sense gun-safety legislation nationwide. [Los Angeles Times]

Even the Senate bill’s defeat “was, in its way, a victory,” say Thomas and Leftwich, who work for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The fact that it was introduced, that hearings were held, and that it got 55 votes represents progress. After the vote, several senators felt real repercussions from their decision to vote against the bill, including Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), whose approval rating dropped by more than 15 percent immediately after the background check vote. There are now real consequences for legislators who choose not to represent the will of their constituents on this issue. [Los Angeles Times]

Ten injured in shotgun blast at gun show


Shotgun barrels and shooter via Shutterstock

The Raw Story

Ten people were hurt Tuesday night when a gun show worker fired a shotgun into the floor, thinking the weapon had been loaded with dummy ammunition.According to Elgin, Illinois Courier-News, the gun was accidentally fired during a gun show at the St. Charles Sportsman’s Club, the area Country Club.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Department reported to the Courier that officers responded to the club, located in Blackberry township, after reports of gunfire.

Seven people were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Three men, ages 81, 60 and 14 were transported by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment.

A 69-year-old St. Charles man was reportedly handling the shotgun when it went off. The man believed he had placed a “snap cap” in the barrel, a device used to protect the gun’s firing pin when it is in storage. Pointing the barrel of the gun at the floor, the man pulled the trigger, only realizing that he had placed a live shell into the weapon’s chamber when the gun went off, spraying lead shot into the floor, which ricocheted upward, injuring bystanders and the shooter.

Police, sheriff and fire units rushed to the scene, but fortunately, none of the injuries suffered are believed to be life-threatening.


Connecticut gun rights group smears father of boy killed at Sandy Hook

Neil Heslin screenshot

More despicable “gun rights” smear campaigning.

This man lost a son to gun violence and what they do is smear him to shut him up.  Something tells me that Neil Heslin will not be silenced or deterred by this group of low-life idiots.  In fact I hope the blow-back from their actions is swift and fierce.

The Raw Story

A small Connecticut gun rights group gained attention on Wednesday after issuing a press release that smeared the father of a boy killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Connecticut Carry released a “rap sheet” of Neil Heslin, listing his multiple arrests for driving under the influence and conviction for felony narcotics possession. The group also published a document entitled “Neil Heslin’s Troubled Past,” which included lawsuits related to foreclosure, collection efforts, and child support.

“So often we find that the strongest critics of the right to bear arms are those people who cannot be trusted with firearms themselves,” the nonprofit group wrote it its statement. “A felon within arm’s reach of the president of the administration so dead set on background checks. No better testimony to how ineffective background checks are needs to be presented.”

Heslin has spoken out in support of stronger gun laws, including expanding criminal background checks and restricting high-capacity magazines. His appearances on TV and at legislative hearings have made him one of the more well-known relatives of the victims of the tragic school shooting, which left 20 young children and 6 adults dead.

“While we all, as humans, share in the sorrow and outrage of Mr. Heslin’s tragic loss, as well as everyone who lost someone on that terrible day; we don’t all have to feel ok with Mr. Heslin profiting off of the tragedy and hurting the gun owning, law abiding citizens who did nothing wrong that day,” Connecticut Carry said.

How Heslin is profiting from his advocacy is unclear. The Huffington Post contacted several prominent gun control groups, but none of them said they ever employed Heslin.

Democratic Underground’s Pic Of The Moment: Five Heartwarming Headlines From NRA Convention Weekend

Democratic Underground


NRA ‘Home Defense’ Course Instructs Audience To Store Guns In Kids’ Room

NRA hides bleeding Obama-look-alike target from convention

NRA lobbyist, arms dealer played key role in growth of civilian market for military-style guns

NRA chief: ‘How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?’

Gun Protesters Plan March On Washington With Loaded Rifles To ‘Put The Government On Notice’

Kelly Ayotte’s Approval Rating Plunges After Vote Against Gun Background Checks

Kelly Ayotte Approval

I’d call this revelation an excellent example of just desserts

The Huffington Post

A new poll has New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte down a total of 15 points from her previous approval rating in a survey that followed her vote against requiring background checks for firearms purchases.

Ayotte’s plunge underscores the changing politics around gun control and gun safety. In years past, lawmakers worried that a vote for gun control would bring the anger of the National Rifle Association. In the new reality, votes against gun control also carry a political risk, as the Ayotte (R) poll indicates.

A full three-quarters of New Hampshire voters support such background checks, along with 56 percent of Republicans, according to Public Policy Polling. A WMUR Granite State Poll taken in January and February found that more than 9 in 10 state residents supported implementing background checks at gun shows.

It’s not entirely clear yet how opposition to background checks will play out at the polls, but there are signs Ayotte’s vote may have taken a toll.

In October, the last time that PPP surveyed voters about Ayotte, she had a 48-35 approval rating. She has now tumbled underwater, with 46 percent disapproving and 44 percent approving. The 11-point surge in disapproval threatens Ayotte’s 2016 reelection, when she could face popular Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. Ayotte won her 2010 race by 23 points, but in a hypothetical matchup against Hassan trails 46-44.

Forty-five percent of independents in the state disapproved of Ayotte, up 13 points since October. Half of voters said her vote on background checks made them less inclined to vote for her, with only a quarter saying it made them more likely to support her.

Among the critical third of voters who described themselves as moderates, disapproval of Ayotte increased by 21 points, with two-thirds saying her vote against background checks made them less likely to vote for her. Only 13 percent said it made them more likely to back her, an overwhelming 5-1 margin.

Local coverage has not been friendly to Ayotte. Sunday’s Portsmouth Herald headlined its editorial: “If you want gun control, vote Ayotte out of office.”

“New Hampshire voters who care passionately about sensible gun legislation can contribute to the effort by defeating U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the only senator in New England to vote against the Toomey-Manchin bill. Ayotte justified her vote by parroting the NRA, saying the measure would ‘place unnecessary burdens on law-abiding gun owners and allow for potential overreach by the federal government into private gun sales.'”

The Concord Monitor was flooded with angry letters and ran a rough cartoon of her. The editorial page called it a “double abomination.” She was hit by a tough ad paid for by Gabby Giffords’ group — the kind of on-the-ground spending that is helping to alter the political dynamic.

Dean Debnam, president of PPP, sees it as trouble for Ayotte. “New Hampshire is a good bellwether for fallout from the gun vote,” he said. “There’s serious backlash from voters toward Kelly Ayotte for how she handled this issue.”

The PPP poll surveyed 933 New Hampshire voters using automated phone calls between April 19 and 21.