U.S. Politics

Louie Gohmert Gets Completely Unhinged And Screams At Reps During Sit-In (VIDEO)

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04:  Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) heads for a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. "This isn't some damn game," Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said about the current federal government shutdown.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images)


Whenever big news happens in Washington, the nation (at least those in desperate need of entertainment) awaits the response of just one man: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). Gohmert almost never disappoints with the depth of his stupidity and he certainly didn’t on Thursday, when he yelled at the Democratic Congresspeople who were conducting a sit-in in support of gun control.

The sit-in lasted a bit over 24 hours, and it was in protest to the four failed attempts at gun control in the Senate and of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) refusal to even let a gun control measure get a debate or vote.

Gohmert, who received more than $13,000 in contributions from the National Rifle Association, thought the Congresspeople were protesting the wrong thing. According to him, Islam is responsible for our country’s mass shootings.

“We are talking about radical Islam!” Gohmert yelled, waving his finger at posters featuring photos of the victims of the recent mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay club. “Radical Islam killed these people!”

Gohmert was shouted down by Democrats chanting, “No fly, no gun!” and “Don’t let terrorists have a gun!”

Source: Talking Points Memo

Sure, we can call our gun problem a terrorism problem. G-d knows it’s terrifying Americans, but it’s not a Muslim problem. The vast majority of mass shooters are white men without a political agenda. As we learn more and more about the Orlando shooter, we are coming to realize that his association to terrorism is sketchy at best. Instead, it seems, he was a spurned self-hating gay man.

If that’s the case, that he is a self-loathing gay man and that’s all the shooting was about, that indicates a societal problem – one which Gohmert, a man who seems to obsess over whether being gay is God’s will – is at least partially responsible for. The bigger picture, though, is that all of our mass shootings, as a matter of fact, all of our nation’s shootings period, have one thing in common and that’s guns. In our current political climate, there isn’t a chance in hell that people will give up all guns, but there’s a chance, albeit a slim one, that maybe we could stop the sale of assault weapons to violent people. That’s all Congress wants.

By Wendy Gittleson

U.S. Politics

Obama: ‘Politics’ Makes It Easy For Terrorists To Buy Weapons


(AP Photo)


Obama, speaking at a makeshift memorial at the Phillips Center with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, said the city was “shaken by an evil and hateful act.” He implored lawmakers who defend easy access to assault weapons to meet the families of the shooting victims for themselves.

The President vowed that “we will destroy” terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, but that it would take “more than just our military” and intelligence team to prevent lone-wolf attacks like the one in Orlando from occurring.

“I truly hope that senators rise to the moment and do the right thing,” Obama said.

“We can’t wipe away hatred and evil from every heart in this world. But we can stop some tragedies,” he continued. “We can save some lives.”

Obama said politics had made it as “easy as possible” for a terrorist and “disturbed” individuals to legally buy powerful weapons. He said that the families of the victims “don’t care about the politics.”

“Neither do I,” Obama said. “Neither does Joe and neither should any parent out here whose thinking about their kids being not in the wrong place but being where kids are supposed to be. This debate needs to change. It’s outgrown the old political stalemates.”

Obama noted that while the motives of the shooter in Orlando were different than those of the gunmen in Aurora or Newtown, the “instruments of death were so similar.”

“We’re all going to have to work together, at every level of government, across political lines, to do more to stop killers who want to terrorize us,” Obama said.

U.S. Politics

Fox News Expert: If We Take Terrorists’ Gun Permits They Will Kill Us With Ford Trucks


In the wake of a mass shooting in Orlando on Sunday, counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka opined to Fox News that it was pointless to try to prevent terrorists from obtaining gun permits because they could use Ford F-150 trucks as weapons.

Fox News host Bret Baier noted during his coverage of the shooting at a gay nightclub that left at least 50 dead that the alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, possessed a Class G statewide firearms license even though he had been placed on a watch list by the FBI.

“He passed everything,” Gorka agreed. “Let’s be really clear about this. We could get a magic wand and the president could make all legally-owned weapons disappear in America, [but] jihadis will keep killing Americans on U.S. soil.”

Gorka pointed to an issue of Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine: “There’s a giant poster on one of the pages that says, ‘Use your F-150 to kill the infidel.'”

“They will kill us with whatever tools they need,” he shrugged. “Pipe bombs are illegal in America, it is illegal to construct a pipe bomb. What did the Tsarnaev brothers do in Boston? Did it stop them from building pipe bombs. It didn’t.”

“So, the idea that legislation or focusing on a tool, a weapon or an explosive is going to mitigate this threat or make it disappear, again, is fantasy land.”

Gorka did not say if he supported the legalization of pipe bombs and other explosives in the U.S.

By David

U.S. Politics

How the NRA Keeps Killer Guns on the Market


Getty Images


The Kel-Tec PF-9 pistol, which retails for about $300, is one of the cheapest American-made guns available on the civilian market. In used condition, these are junk guns, Saturday night specials. But last week, George Zimmerman listed his in an online auction with a starting bid of $5,000. This was the gun he used in 2012 to shoot and kill Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager.

These macabre sales actually happen all the time in the United States. Most of the 116,000 Americans who are shot each year (32,000 fatally) receive barely a mention in local news—the perpetrators aren’t notorious, and their guns don’t become collector’s items. But neither are they removed from the market. In fact, thousands of Americans buy used guns every year—legally—with no idea those weapons were used to take someone’s life. A recent spate of laws, supported by the National Rifle Association, aims to keep it that way.

In the past eight years, 11 states have passed NRA-backed laws encouraging or requiring police to resell confiscated guns. The legislation is consistent with the guns-everywhere strategy the lobbying arm of the NRA has advanced at every level of government since the late 1990s—more guns in the hands of more people in more places. Dealers buy them in bulk from police departments and sell them to the public with no disclosure that such weapons were once used in robberies, assaults or homicides. In some notable cases, these guns are used to commit new crimes. Even so, efforts to expand these laws to other states are underway.

On television, cop dramas depict cavernous evidence rooms, where conscientious detectives might indulge their second thoughts about an old case and reexamine the murder weapon, still neatly tagged and boxed after for years. (Indeed, a few crime guns do sit forever in police custody, such as the .38-caliber revolver Mark David Chapman used to shoot John Lennon.) Generally, though, after guns have served their evidentiary purposes, they are either resold, destroyed or returned to the owners. (Immediately following his trial and a not-guilty verdict, Zimmerman’s lawyers announced that he was requesting the gun be returned to him, saying he feared for his safety and felt he needed to rearm himself.)

It’s never been a uniform or a perfect system. Law-enforcement agencies routinely sell seized property (such as automobiles) but destroy contraband (such as narcotics). What to do with weapons has always been a trickier issue. Back in 1992, Margaret Weigel’s gun was confiscated after her boyfriend used it to barricade himself in an apartment and threaten suicide. She demanded the gun back, and Baltimore police grudgingly obliged. Her boyfriend soon got hold of it again and killed her, then himself. After that, the weapon might still have made it back into civilian hands, depending on which law-enforcement agency seized it. At that time, Baltimore County Police routinely destroyed crime guns, whereas Maryland State Police resold them to dealers (a practice they discontinued a year later).

But this patchwork of inconsistent policies is something gun rights advocates have been trying to simplify of late—by prohibiting the destruction of crime guns.

Kentucky set an example in 1998, passing the first law prohibiting firearm destruction. This preceded the wave of 11 states that passed similar legislation between 2009 and 2014. The laws are particular to guns—other weapons, such as knives, don’t usually have enough value to make the resale effort cost-effective, and there’s no law mandating the preservation of knives or nunchucks or clubs or brass knuckles or baseball bats. In the Kentucky State Police Confiscated Weapons Sale, for example, the only weapons you’ll find on the auction spreadsheets are firearms.

This year, the Nebraska Legislature introduced a bill (now indefinitely postponed), that would have required the sale of forfeited guns in police custody, except in the rare circumstance that a firearm had an obvious defect that made it unsafe to fire. First to testify in support was Katie Spohn, a paid lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “The NRA supports LB769 because it eliminates the wasteful and expensive practice of destroying firearms that could be recirculated through licensed dealers to the retail market,” Spohn said. “The NRA further supports LB769 because the proceeds from these firearms auctions would go to support our local schools.”

It’s a curious model: The more crime there is in a community, the more guns the police can seize and resell, and the better the state can compensate public schoolteachers. But it’s becoming a reliable stream of municipal revenue around the country, Spohn explained. “Police departments and other public agencies routinely sell forfeited property to the law-abiding public, including firearms.”

So how’s that working out?

Through a contract with an online auction house, the Duluth Police Department in Minnesota sold three confiscated guns to Raymond Kmetz, a man with a long history of mental illness who had previously attacked a police officer with a bulldozer. Kmetz purchased the guns online, using his own name, but he knew he wouldn’t pass a background check. So he sent another man to pick them up. That straw buyer handed the guns over to Kmetz, who used them to attack New Hope City Hall, where he shot two police officers.

Meanwhile, guns released from the custody of Tennessee law enforcement agencies have also been used in multiple shootings—one at a Pentagon security checkpoint (leaving one dead, two injured), and another at a courthouse in Las Vegas (leaving two dead and one injured). Former Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. expressed reservations about the city’s practice of selling guns or trading them for other equipment, but said the program had saved the city millions of dollars. (That is, if you don’t factor in the economic impact of gun violence itself, which runs at least $580,000 per victim. Memphis has the fourth-highest rate of gun homicide in the U.S.)

In San Francisco, a former felon named Rudy Corpuz Jr. has an entirely different attitude about the aftermarket for guns. “If we get one gun off the street, we’re winning,” he said. “That one gun right there, potentially, can save a whole community.” Corpuz is now executive director of United Playaz, a violence-prevention group that has hosted several gun buyback events in San Francisco (in partnership with local police, who destroy guns surrendered by members of the community). To fund the buybacks, United Playaz solicited contributions from Silicon Valley tech magnates, and from medical marijuana dispensaries. People who voluntarily surrender a handgun get $100 cash, or $200 for a rifle—often less than the street value. “It’s about, honestly, just getting rid of a gun, so it won’t ever harm or hurt anybody no more,” Corpuz said. “I know some people are trying to get extra money, but more importantly, I think more people wanted to get it off the streets and out of the hands of anybody, period. Where it can be destroyed.”

“You’d be surprised who turns in guns,” Corpuz added. He related a story about one elderly woman who showed up at his buyback with nearly 30 guns—her late husband’s collection. “I used to break into people’s houses,” Corpuz said. “Imagine if I broke into her house. I would have had 30 guns. Me and my gang. Me and my crew.”

It’s hard to know exactly who participates in gun buybacks and what motivates them. Generally, it’s a “no questions asked” arrangement, to encourage people to turn in illegal guns without fear of arrest. “We’ve done voluntary surveys of people at gun buybacks,” explains Ian Johnstone, founder of GunXGun, a violence-prevention nonprofit that partnered with Corpuz. “What we’ve learned is that north of 20 percent of people that are participating in the buybacks never wanted the gun in the first place, and it just happened to be in their possession.” That set includes thousands of Americans who inherit guns every year that were used in a relative’s suicide. Those unwanted guns can sit around indefinitely as an unpleasant reminder. “That’s the unfortunate nature of guns. They don’t go bad. They just sit there. They last and they present this everlasting threat until they are taken out of circulation.”

Critics of gun buybacks have compared the effort to draining the ocean with a bucket. (Recent buyback events in San Francisco, for example, have taken in just a few hundred guns.) Lawmakers in Arizona reiterated doubts about the crime-prevention merits of gun buybacks when they passed a bill in 2013 requiring municipalities to resell any guns turned in through buyback programs, instead of melting them down. In a spectacular display of cognitive dissonance, sponsors of the bill argued that the guns being turned in were worthless, broken junk that could never be used in a crime and that the guns were too valuable to be destroyed and instead should be sold to generate revenue.

It’s true: In a nation with hundreds of millions of guns, we’ll never get rid of all of them. But with legislation like this, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to really get rid of even one.

U.S. Politics


"He was your average Joe": The police and the media coddle another white killer

Jason Dalton (Credit: AP/Carlos Osorio)


A lone wolf, a “regular Joe.” Maybe mentally disturbed. Again, we talk differently about white killers and Muslims

On Saturday, a 45-year-old white man named Jason Brian Dalton allegedly went on a shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Uber driver has been charged with six counts of murder and two counts of assault with intent to commit murder. In too many ways, this is the new normal in America.

CNN framed the reactions to the Kalamazoo murder spree in the following way:

“This is your worst nightmare,” Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told CNN affiliate WOOD-TV. “When you have somebody just driving around randomly killing people.”

“We just can’t figure out the motive,” said Hadley. “There’s nothing that gives us any indication as to why he would do this or what would have triggered this. The victims did not know him, he did not know the victims.” …

“For all intents and purposes, he was your average Joe. This was random,” said Hadley.

Getting appeared to struggle at times for the right words, if there were any, at Sunday’s press conference.

“There is this sense of loss, anger, (and) fear,” he said. “On top of that, how do you tell the families of these victims that they were not targeted for any other reason than they were a target?”

Getting said he was confident that Dalton acted alone, and that there is no connection to terrorism.

There is a standard script used by the American corporate news media—and among the public and many elites—to discuss tragedies of this type. It is familiar. We know its vocabulary and narrative.

The white man who commits an act of mass gun violence was “disturbed” or “mentally ill.” He was a “lone wolf.” Alternatively, he is a “family” man who was living “the American Dream.” Politicians and the corporate news media caution the American public to “wait for all the facts” before arriving at any conclusions. Republicans and the right-wing news entertainment complex demand that “we” should not “politicize” gun violence. On cue, the gun lobby and its supplicants recite tired and untrue mantras such as “a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun” and “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

And of course, one of the most problematic and dangerous parts of the script that is used to discuss mass shootings by white men in America is how those happenings are all so “unpredictable” and “random.” Gun violence is treated as an inevitability, something akin to a storm or “act of God.” In reality, it is the result of systematic failings of public policy, the overwhelming power of the gun lobby, and an inability on the part of the American people to hold their elected leaders accountable to the people’s will.

(A new and even more perverse “logic” has also been summoned on social media and elsewhere to discuss the Kalamazoo gun rampage. Apparently, Jason Brian Dalton is not a “mass shooter” because his killing of six people and wounding of two others took place not in one isolated event, but rather over several hours.)

Those who deviate from the boundaries of this script are often met with outrage and blind anger. Ultimately, to discuss the relationship between guns, white men, masculinity and mass violence in America is verboten. This is the lethal output of white privilege and the white racial frame in combination with one another.

There are voices that deviate from the script, those of us who dare to point out troubling questions about the nature of fairness and justice along the color line.

For example, white men with guns who kill multiple people are somehow miraculously taken into custody by police unharmed, yet black and brown people who do not have weapons, and have committed no crime, are routinely killed by heavily militarized police who are in “fear for their lives.” Likewise, white men like Cliven Bundy (and others) can point live firearms at America’s police and other law enforcement agents with relative impunity. A person of color (or someone marked as a “Muslim”) doing the same thing would be met with extreme and lethal force.

What these dissenting voices are pointing out, in their own 21st century version of “parrhesia,” is that the relationship between guns, masculinity, whiteness, democracy and notions of “freedom” constitutes a very particular and specific form of privilege that is usually denied to other groups in the United States.

To be “white” in America is the ultimate freedom to be an individual. Consequently, when white men commit horrible acts of mass gun violence there is no public demand for group accountability or introspective thought about what is “pathological” about “white culture”; white men as a group are most certainly not held responsible or stigmatized for mass shootings; there will be no discussions in the corporate news media about “white crime.”

Saturday’s act of mass murder in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is also an opportunity to highlight how the narrative of “random” gun violence can itself be a reflection of white (male) privilege.

To that end, I offer a question. Can an American who happens to be Muslim commit an act of random gun violence that kills multiple people? As a matter of empirical fact, the answer is clearly “yes.” A person from any ethnic or racial background can commit an act of violence, one that seemingly has no motive other than to inflict harm, and where the victims do not know one another.

However, the news media and America’s other opinion leaders would treat the same event as an inherently political act of terrorism. Where the alleged mass killing of six people in Kalamazoo by Jason Brian Dalton has been greeted with relative silence by the corporate news media and politicians, the same event by a “Muslim” or someone else marked as the Other would be a source of mass panic and fear.

The concept of “race” has been described by social scientists, historians and philosophers as a way of marking identities in such a manner as to answer pressing political concerns, respond to socio-political anxieties, or to demarcate who has power and what groups and individuals do not.

In the post 9/11 dystopian neoliberal nightmare version of the United States of America, to be perceived as “Muslim” is to inhabit a body and cultural identity that is marked as inseparable from “terrorism” until 1) proven otherwise and 2) to the satisfaction of the White Gaze. This irrational bigotry does many different types of political and social work. On one hand, it is a formula for success used by proto-fascist, racially resentful nativists in the Republican Party and the broader right-wing political-entertainment machine. The notion of Muslims as “terrorists” also blunts and obscures any significant public discussion about (and interventions against) mass gun violence and its connections to toxic and aggrieved white masculinity.

The inability to have these discussions is one more example, among many, of how racism hurts white people. The mass killings in Kalamazoo, Michigan, were the 42nd such event in the United States during 2016. Most victims of gun violence and other crimes are intra-racial. White men are, with several notable exceptions such as the Chattanooga massacre, largely killing other white people in America’s mass shootings. Since Sept. 11, 2001, right-wing domestic terrorists have killed more Americans than “Muslim terrorists.” The right-wing media and Republican political elites have worked very hard to suppress and deflect any discussion of that fact. White men are approximately 30 percent of the American population but are responsible for approximately 64 percent of mass shootings. Yet it is considered impolitic, or an act of “reverse racism,” to publicly discuss and seek explanations for that phenomenon.

Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. Mass shootings by (mostly) white men are an acute example of this public sickness. The American people and their leaders lack the will to confront those dual problems because to do so would involve asking very difficult questions–the answers to which many of us are extremely afraid.

U.S. Politics

NRA Releases Statement Blasting President Obama Over Calls for Better Background Checks


It may come as no surprise that the National Rifle Association isn’t in favor of President Barack Obama’s series of newly-announced executive orders tightening gun control. The pro-gun organization released a statement Tuesday criticizing Obama for his “emotional, condescending lecture” on Tuesday and the Obama administration for what the NRA said was its “contempt for the second amendment.”

“Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems,” executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action Chris W. Cox said in the statement following Obama’s televised speech. The president announced, among other things, the intent to strengthen background checks and implement stricter requirements for selling guns.

Read more:
° A Tearful Obama Announces New Executive Actions on Gun Control
° President Obama Highlights Zaevion Dobson’s Heroics During Speech on Gun Background Check

NRA Releases Statement Blasting President Obama Over Calls for Better Background Checks

NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s executive director Chris W. Cox | Source: Steve Ueckert/AP

In the statement, Cox also said Obama’s speech “represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attack” and was “completely devoid of facts.” He also said the proposed orders wouldn’t have prevented any of the recent mass shootings (Newtown, Connecticut; Charleston, South Carolina; and San Bernardino, California, to name a few) and that the NRA “will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be harassed or intimidated for engaging in lawful, constitutionally-protected activity.”

Obama announced the executive order in a broadcasted address Tuesday in which he teared up while reflecting on the laundry list of mass shootings that the United States has experienced in recent years.

The actions, which will go into effect without congressional approval, include measures designed to close the “gun show loophole” that allows people to purchase arms from vendors at gun shows and online without being subject to a background check. Obama is also calling on Congress to invest $500 million to widen access to mental health services.

Jessica Eggert

U.S. Politics

GOP Candidates Reject Obama’s Tearful Plea For Gun Control



President Obama announced a series of executive actions on gun control on Tuesday during an emotional briefing in the East Room of the White House. During that briefing, Obama wiped away tears as he listed the victims of mass shootings, including the first graders who lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut.

But even before Obama took the podium, nearly all of the leading Republican presidential candidates had already promised to repeal his actions.

The pledges began on Sunday, when news media revealed that Obama was planning executive moves to prevent gun violence. At the time, the contents of those actions were unknown — but that didn’t stop Republican candidates from condemning them and the president, and pledging to undo the policies if elected.

Since Sunday, more details about the president’s plan have emerged. Ten separate actions are expected, including one particularly controversial move to require more gun sellers to conduct background checks on potential buyers. The plan also includes a $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care, and a boost for gun safety research, among other things.

Here’s how each Republican candidate reacted to President Obama’s announcement.

Chris Christie: Obama is a “petulant child.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, once seen as a moderate on gun control, has taken a different tone during his campaign for president. On Sunday, the man who once signed 10 gun control bills into law called president Obama a “petulant child” for planning executive action on guns.

“This president wants to act as if he is a king, as if he is a dictator,” Christie said. The governor also said he was confident that courts would reject Obama’s executive actions, but that if they didn’t, “I’m sure that ultimately the next president will make sure that he abdicates those extra constitutional actions.”

Ben Carson: Obamacare is bad.

Though the president’s gun control measures would not have the effect of banning guns in America, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said on CNN that the public should not necessarily trust that to be true. The reason: Obamacare.

“This is coming from a president who said, “If you like your doctor you can keep him,’” Carson said. “So now he’s saying, ‘If you like your gun you can keep it’ — I don’t know if I completely trust that.”

Donald Trump: “I will unsign that so fast.”

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump also chimed in on Sunday, promising to “unsign” any gun control action Obama takes.

“I will veto,” he said. “I will unsign that so fast. So fast.”

Jeb Bush: Gun control “takes away people’s rights.”

On Tuesday afternoon, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released a video ostensibly in response to Obama’s executive actions (he didn’t mention the actions specifically, but rather “any” effort by the president).

“I will fight as hard as I can against any effort by this president, or by any liberal that wants to take away people’s rights that are embedded in the Bill of Rights, embedded in our Constitution,” he said.

Read more here>>>

U.S. Politics

Australians Marvel At The Stranglehold The Gun Lobby Has On America



On an Australian national television station, ABC 24, commentators struggled to make sense of American inaction in response to mass shootings from Columbine to San Bernardino.

David Marr, a journalist with Guardian Australia, noted that “so terrified are America politicians of the gun lobby” that a bill to provide universal background checks is hung up in Congress despite overwhelming support of the American people. Marr called the situation “an extraordinary insight into the strange contradictions of the United States of America.”

“The people of America want gun control. The gun industry does not. The gun industry is winning,” Marr said, noting that “slaughter” does not seem to impact the power of the gun lobby “a bit.”

Another panelist, Nick Cater of the Menzies Research Centre, was even less charitable. He called America’s gun policy “lunatic.”

The Australians have had a much different response to mass shootings, as ThinkProgress reviewed after the gun massacre at Umpqua Community College in October:

In 1996, a gunman opened fire at a popular tourist destination on the Australian island of Tasmania. Using a semiautomatic rifle, he killed 35 people.

Australia responded by reforming their gun laws. High powered rifles and shotguns were banned and uniform gun licensing requirements were imposed for the guns that remained legal. The country also implemented a buyback program which resulted in the destruction of more than a million firearms.

In the last 19 years, there have been no mass shootings in Australia, defined as five or more people being shot.

So far, the United States has responded to the San Bernardino massacre by voting down legislative language that would ban individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.

U.S. Politics

Sandy Hook Senator Slams Gun-loving GOP: It’s Not Congress’ Job To Pray (IMAGE)


Anyone who was affected by the heartbreak that came from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 knows what a difference better gun laws would have made. When those 20 children and six adults were killed, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) was thankful for all the thoughts and prayers his community could get.

But four years later, Murphy is furious that not enough has been done since Sandy Hook to prevent mass shootings from happening. He expressed this brilliantly on Wednesday, just hours after hearing word of the massacre in San Bernardino. In one perfect tweet, Murphy condemned the members of Congress (mostly Republicans) who would rather respond to mass shootings with “thoughts and prayers” than tighter gun laws:

That Twitter post went viral, receiving support from gun control advocates, and criticism from conservatives. On Friday, Murphy defended his controversial tweet in an interview with ThinkProgress. Doubling down on his remarks, Murphy stated that prayer is not in the job description of Congress members. He said:

“I don’t deny the importance of expressing sympathies for these shootings, but that’s an insufficient response from elected officials today. You get elected to Congress not to send your sympathy tweets, but to pass laws to keep people safer.”

And according to Murphy, Congress has not been doing their jobs at all. Speaking further about why he blasted his Republican colleagues, Murphy said:

“It takes two seconds to send out a tweet saying “Sending my thoughts and prayers to San Bernardino.” There’s no sacrifice involved in sending out a message of sympathy. It’s nice, but it’s not of the essence of what our jobs are. Our jobs are to change the law when necessary in order to better protect the people you represent. And right now the laws as they stand leave our constituents open to potential slaughter. It’s as simple as that. We are facilitating the mass murder of Americans by refusing to change the laws on guns and on mental health.”

Murphy also criticized the National Rifle Association (NRA) for controlling Republicans and not being supportive of common-sense, safer gun laws. He said:

“I’m just continually shocked and surprised at the vice-like grip that the [National Rifle Association] has on Republicans in Congress. I think that there will be electoral consequences on some of these votes. I don’t know how you go back to your constituents and explain that people on the terrorist watch list should be able to buy guns.”

Expressing his disappointment at the lack of action over the last four years – despite the fact that mass shootings and gun deaths continue to be a tremendous problem in America – Murphy explained:

“I was angry on Wednesday night. I’m still angry today. But really I’ve been angry since December of 2012. It’s just unfathomable to me that in the shadow of this carnage, Congress isn’t even trying to do something to stop it. I accept that there’s no panacea to gun violence — there’s no one bill that would stop every would-be shooter. But what’s maddening and offensive is that we’re not even trying to do anything.”

Murphy also gave some solid suggestions for how Congress COULD address gun violence, if the GOP would be willing exchange prayers for progress:

I’ve spent the better part of this year putting together a big, bipartisan consensus on mental health reform. I’ve introduced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2105. It’s a comprehensive set of changes.

If I were in charge, we would be passing a universal background check, a ban on assault weapons, a ban and high capacity magazines, and incentives for states to enact permit to carry laws. There’s no arguing with the data, and that data tells you that states that have tougher gun laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals have lower rates of gun violence and homicides. We have strict gun laws in Connecticut, and I don’t hear many people complaining that they can’t get a gun to protect themselves and go out and hunt.”

Murphy nailed America’s issue with gun violence perfectly. It’s absolutely ridiculous that mass shootings are still happening as frequently as they are, and that there is even resistance concerning better gun laws. If you agree with what Murphy said, you can read his interview with ThinkProgress in its entirely here.

U.S. Politics

NRA Ordered GOP To Allow Gun Sales To People On Terror Watch List. They Did.

Note:  This is not from a parody news site i.e., “The Onion“. (ks)


The NRA issued an order to Republicans to vote against an amendment that would have prevented people placed on the terrorism watch list from buying guns. And Senate Republicans did what they were told.

In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, Democrats in the Senate decided to offer a bill that would prevent people who are listed from purchasing a gun. Senator Harry Reid, the Minority Leader, announced the plan in a tweet:

A few hours later, the NRA – led by executive vice president Wayne LaPierre –  issued an alert to its members and followers to oppose the bill. It was an unambiguous message, ordering opposition to “any and all gun control” proposals.

Senate Republicans, who receive millions in NRA donations, did just as they were ordered to when the bill came up on the floor.

Senate Democrats forced a vote Thursday on language which would give the U.S. Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to suspected terrorists if it is reasonably believed those individuals may use firearms or explosives in connection with an act of terrorism. The amendments were offered as part of the Republican budget bill intended to repeal portions of Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood. The amendments failed to advance because it did not get the 60 votes needed.

The issue of guns getting into the hands of people on the watch list isn’t an academic exercise. FBI data shows that background checks for gun purchases have triggered with names on the list.

Overall, since the FBI started checking against terrorist watchlist records in February 2004, data show that individuals on the terrorist watchlist were involved in firearm or explosives background checks 2,233 times, of which 2,043 (about 91%) of the transactions were allowed to proceed and 190 were denied.

This does not even account for the other loopholes in gun laws that would allow terrorists to obtain weapons that could be used for shootings similar to San Bernardino and Sandy Hook.

The gun show loophole allows unlicensed dealers to sell massive amounts of guns in private sales without forcing a background check. An Al Qaeda video encouraged followers to exploit these lax policies in order to complete jihadist attacks on Americans.  As with the terror watch list, the NRA has opposed legislation to close these loopholes.

The NRA so far has gotten just what it wants.