A Letter From Parkland …

Today, February 14th 2019, marks one year since 17 people were killed, 14 of them students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  I would like to share with you a letter written by Jaclyn Corin, a senior at the school and the founder of March For Our Lives.  The letter was published yesterday in the New York Times.

Corin.jpgWhen I arrived at school on Feb. 14, 2018, like any junior, I was mostly caught up in Valentine’s Day chatter and events. But that all changed in the space of a few minutes that afternoon when a gunman opened fire on my classmates and my teachers, killing 17 of them and injuring just as many.

Despite the countless tragedies you see on TV, nothing prepares you for the day it happens to your community.

The familiar images of students fleeing their school as SWAT teams entered, of parents waiting by the perimeter desperately praying to get their kids back, were now my reality. They were my classmates and friends, too many of whom never came home.

After the shooting, my friends at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and I decided we couldn’t sit by as school shootings and gun violence became a normal part of life in America. We were determined to turn an act of violence into a movement, to do everything we could to send a powerful message to the country and to Washington.Parkland-2.jpg

There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of the shooting. When I hear the sound of sirens or fireworks, I’m taken back to that horrific afternoon. For me, Valentine’s Day will now forever be a reminder of loss.

Yet our community isn’t alone in its tragedy. In 2017, nearly 40,000 Americans died as a result of guns, an average of 109 people a day. And according to a tally from Education Week, there were 24 school shootings that resulted in gun-related deaths or injuries in 2018 alone.

While several states have taken positive legislative measures in response, there have been zero bipartisan investigations or new laws from Congress.

Not a single federal law has been passed since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012 to address the crisis of school shootings. This year could be different — but only if we organize and insist on it.

Last week, Congress held its first hearing on gun violence prevention since 2011. This week, the House Judiciary Committee is poised to approve a bipartisan bill to requiring background checks for all gun purchases, a proposal that represents one important step toward keeping deadly firearms out of the wrong hands. However, it’s also likely this bill won’t get a hearing, let alone a vote, in the Senate.

That chamber’s majority leader, Mitch McConnell, needs to explain to all of us who have survived a shooting or lost someone to gun violence why the Senate won’t even vote on such a bill even though there’s been over half a million gun deaths since 2000, the year I was born.

And Americans should truly reckon with why this epidemic of gun deaths is treated so differently from any other health crisis in our country.

Imagine for a moment that all these gun deaths were caused by something else widely feared: airplane crashes. There’s no universe in which we wouldn’t see it as a national emergency worthy of our undivided attention.

In fact, 2017 was a remarkable year in aviation. No one died in a commercial airplane crash, meaning it was safer for me to fly than it was for me to go to high school. It would take hundreds of completely full Boeing 737 flights crashing without survivors to total the number of people who died by guns in America in just 2017.

If even a handful of such crashes occurred, the government would declare a national emergency. All 737s would be grounded, there would be an independent commission created to investigate the crisis, and Boeing would be called before Congress to answer for its failures.

So why then don’t more than 30,000 gun deaths in a year rise to the level of a national crisis for America’s conservative leaders?

The past year has been one with the deepest of lows and, at times, the highest of highs — moments when the hope that springs from fighting for a better world makes anything feel possible. On Thursday, the anniversary of the shooting, I will be in the only place that matters, nestled in my community and with my family.

And for the next four days, the organization I helped found, March For Our Lives, will go dark to honor those we lost and their memory.

I am deeply proud of all that my friends and I have accomplished in the last year. Still, I can’t help but wonder why so many lawmakers are ignoring — and, at their worst, enabling — the horrific gun deaths that occur in our country each day.

Parkland-1.jpgIn the year since the Parkland tragedy, nearly 1,200 more children have lost their lives to guns in this country.   When do we say, “Enough!!!”?  When do we put the lives of our children ahead of politics and corporate greed?  The sign above says it all … “Choose Me, Not Guns”.

Filosofa’s State of the Union Address

Yesterday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, sent a letter to Donald Trump strongly urging that he either reschedule the State of the Union Address or deliver it in writing, in the wake of the ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 26th day on Wednesday, and which has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers. Pelosi cited critical government agencies in charge of overseeing the event — namely U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security — that have been hobbled by the shutdown.

Under the circumstances, it is highly unlikely that Trump will, in fact, deliver a State of the Union address in person on Friday, 29 January.  So, it seemed prudent, just in case I am asked to deliver it in his stead, to go ahead and write my own speech … Text dividersGood evening Ms. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans.

Ms. Pelosi graciously invited me to fill in for Mr. Trump in giving the State of the Union Address tonight, for with the government shutdown in its 39th day, the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security are stretched far too thin to provide adequate security to attend this address to Congress.  It was determined that far fewer people want to bump me off than Mr. Trump, so my safety seems not to be at risk and thus I am here to deliver the speech to Congress and the Nation tonight.  Mr. Trump’s speechwriters worked very hard to provide me with a written speech, however, I seem to have left it back at the hotel, so luckily I have written my own.

This is called the State of the Union address because the purpose is to inform the American people how the country is doing, and where we are going, what we plan to accomplish in the coming year.  Let me start with how we are doing.

America is more divided today than at any time since the end of the Civil War years.  We have problems, folks – serious problems.  As I mentioned today marks the 39th day of the partial government shutdown that is affecting everyone in one way or another.  You, the people of this once-great nation are losing confidence, and understandably so, in your government.  Investors are losing confidence and it is being reflected in the dropping stock market and also in the job market.  Consumer prices are on the rise.  The food you buy to feed your families costs more than it did a month ago and there is a very real danger that meat and produce may be contaminated, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t sufficient staff to continue food safety inspections. 

Apart from the government shutdown, we have a plethora of other problems that we seem unable or unwilling to address.  Perhaps the most critical one is that of the environment.  Since the rollback of past environmental regulations that were intended to cut back on carbon emissions, it was reported earlier this week that carbon emissions in the U.S. have increased by 3.4%, not decreased as they needed to.  This is a problem, not only for the United States, but for our neighbors, Mexico and Canada, as well as the rest of the globe. 

The other critical problem facing the nation is that we have lost the trust and respect of our allies, which leaves us in an extremely vulnerable position.  We abandoned our allies when we announced our intent to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, when we exited the Iran nuclear agreement, and more recently when we announced that we would pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, leaving our allies holding the bag.  In addition, our threats to pull out of NATO, our unwarranted criticism of our allies, high import tariffs, and seeming attentiveness toward our adversaries further have our allies wondering whether they could depend on us in case of an emergency.  This is a dangerous situation.

Here at home, we face other problems.

Last year we saw a number of mass shootings in the United States.  113 people were either killed or injured in school shootings alone, and young people are asking us why we don’t do something, why we don’t pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental problems, of people who are known domestic abusers, why we don’t have stronger gun laws in this country. 

The nation is torn apart by the debate about immigration and a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico.  Border states are particularly torn, for such a wall would limit, if not eliminate trade and tourism between our two countries and would almost certainly cause further political and economic unrest. 

Our education system is failing our young people.  They are not receiving the education they need in order to succeed, to become the next generation of leaders, of scientists, of historians or great inventors.  Instead, we are training them only for specific jobs, thereby severely limiting their options.  

We have fallen far behind other Western nations in the development of renewable energy sources, have become far too dependent on fossil fuels which are causing more damage and destruction to the environment every day.

Bigotry in all its forms is at an all time high in our nation today.  Racial tensions are the highest they have been since the 1960s when people died to gain Civil Rights for African-Americans, for all people.  Rights are being taken away from the LGBT community.  Women’s rights are being trampled.  Muslims are discriminated against openly in public.

Our elections are no longer fair, for almost every state has gerrymandered districts, newly imposed voter identification laws that discriminate against the poor and minorities.  Polling places in poor districts are closed, or in some cases the hours dramatically reduced, making it impossible for a working person in one of those neighborhoods to vote.  Foreign entities have interfered in our elections, often skewing results.  Both domestic and foreign lobbyist firms have influenced elections and now have some of the people sitting in this room tonight in their pockets. All of this has led to voter disenfranchisement and apathy.

And healthcare … drug prices are obscenely inflated in the United States, as are insurance costs.  The ACA has been chipped at to the extent that many can no longer afford their health insurance.  People are sick and dying for lack of money. 

I wish I had better news to report, but frankly, ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in a sorry state today.  I cannot speak for Mr. Trump as to any plans for the coming year, but I have given you a rundown, in brief, of the State of the Nation.  And on that note, I thank you for your time this evening.

And That About Sums It Up

Well, well, well … after all the hoopla, all the ranting and raving by Trump and Co., the accusations against both the press and the democrats, it turns out that Trump hadn’t a clue what he was talking about, and neither did Fox News or any of the other fools who jumped in with off-the-wall conspiracy theories.  What a surprise, eh?  Turns out the bomb-maker-sender was a nutcase; a die-hard supporter of Trump who apparently thought the best way to show his love for ol’ Donnie-boy was to try to take out his ‘enemies’.

Of course, Donnie & friends immediately issued public apologies to those of us they accused of being the perpetrators, right?  HAH … what fantasy world am I living in?  As a matter of fact, those who have been referring to the bombs as a ‘false flag operation’ and blaming democrats all week long, are still blaming democrats.  FBI Director Christopher Wray clearly stated that the bombs were not ‘hoax devices’, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the accused, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, appears to be a Trump-supporting partisan with Trump stickers and anti-democrat imagery plastered over most every square inch of his van.  And still … the trumpeters play their ugly, disgusting tune.

First, Trump’s reaction to the news that it was one of his own who attempted murder:

“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”

Hey, jerkface – the news is supposed to report the news! The attempted murder of 14 people, including a former president and a former Secretary of State is far more relevant than your damn campaign rallies.  14 lives being put in danger is NEWS.  “This bomb stuff”???  What do you mean by that?  People’s lives, bucko … people’s lives! Go back to your bowl of Cheerios and leave the news to the adults, please.

“I did not see my face on the van. I heard he was a person that preferred me over others, but I did not see that.”

What. A. Jerk.

Now let’s see what some of those conservative pundits have to say …

“Two weeks out, a bunch of bombs start showing up in places that the media can then say that they are being received by ‘Trump targets?’ I’m sorry. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck ever, and certainly not yesterday, and the world of October Surprises coupled with all the other realities I just exposed, and I think it only makes sense to be suspicious and demanding of proof for whatever we’re gonna be told.” – Rush Limbaugh

“So many things about this Cesar guy do not add up. If he is #MAGA, why would he send these fake ‘bombs’ to Democrat Congressional Leaders 2 weeks before the midterms and disrupt our winning momentum? It makes no sense. That means there is something else here. This guy Cesar is looking like a “sleeper” implanted by the Democrats just for such an occasion as this.  I mean, c’mon, that van is ridiculous.” – Bill Mitchell, conservative radio host

“Michael, your description yesterday of the guy they’d pin (maga hat, confed flag,etc) sounds right on the money💰 Only thing you didn’t envision was a van slathered in pro-Trump images. Once again you were correct!  MAN AND VAN LOOK LIKE CREATED BY HOLLYWOOD.” – Michael Savage, conservative radio host, apparently speaking to himself

“From the Haymarket riot to the Unabomber, bombs are a liberal tactic.” – Ann Coulter, bitch extraordinaire.

And then this morning, a man walks into a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and starts shooting, saying, “All Jews must die!”.  Donald Trump has drawn the deplorables out from under their rocks just as effectively as salt draws the liquid out of an onion.  Eleven are left dead after the synagogue shooting, six others injured, including four police officers.  And the head joker residing in the White House says …

“If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better.”

Oh yes, Donnie-boy … the way to solve a gun problem is add more guns to the problem.  Let’s just arm every man, woman, child and service dog in the United States and see just how quickly we can wipe our nation off the map?

Okay, so in the past 6 days we have had 14 bombs mailed to people who had spoken against Trump and his policies, and 11 people have been murdered by an anti-Semite, Robert Bowers, who apparently felt empowered to take lives of people he didn’t agree with.  Sure, these people existed before Trump and they were haters and bigots before Trump.  But they didn’t crawl out from under their rocks until Trump came along and gave them his blessing to act upon their bigotry.  When the so-called president calls Mexicans, rapists, when he lies about terrorism time and time again, when he claims that all Muslims are terrorists, and yet proclaims white supremacists and Nazis to be ‘fine people’, it is a license to kill just as surely as if it were written on parchment. ADLIt will happen again, probably next week.  There will be another school shooting before the end of the year.  People will die at the hands of bigoted fools.  The republican party calls itself the ‘pro-life’ party, but you have to wonder, don’t you?  Just exactly whose life are they pro?

I read the following by John Pavlovitz this morning …

“The only reason left to support this President, is that he reflects your hateful heart; he shares your contempt of people of color, your hostility toward outsiders, your toxic misogyny, your blind bigotry, your feeling of supremacy.”

And that, folks, about sums it up.

Newsworthy …

The news of the day is predominantly predictions and warnings about Hurricane Florence, expected to hit the Carolinas tomorrow.  Our friend Keith is in Charlotte, North Carolina, so I’ll be thinking of him and hoping he and his family are safe.  And, Trump is running his mouth & thumbs again, falsely claiming what a “great job” he did in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico, and slamming San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.  I will have more to say about that tomorrow. But a couple of other things crossed my path this morning …

And we thought the NRA was bad? 

In yesterday’s New Hampshire republican primary, a man named Eddie Edwards won over Andy Sanborn by just over 3,000 votes, or 6.8%.  Eddie, endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, is a big Trump fan …

“The president’s doing one hell of a job in Washington. It’s about time we had a president who understood the values of our country and stood up for our country.”

eddie edwardsThat in itself is enough to make one want to head for the nearest bathroom, but that is far from the worst of it.  Edwards is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, the likes of which we have never seen, not even in the most ardent gun supporters such as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.  Hold on to your hats for this one, folks.  Eddie fully supports a total repeal of the background check system.  A TOTAL repeal … no background checks … ever … for anyone.  But wait … there’s even more.

He says he would vote to shrink or eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF). He would oppose any legislative or regulatory prohibition on “bump stocks.” He also vows to repeal the 1996 federal law that prohibits bringing guns within 1000 feet of schools, to end limits on gun imports that are not for “sporting purposes,” and to even repeal the 1996 Lautenberg amendment that prevents people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. In other words, not only would he eliminate the background checks, but would also arm more domestic abusers.  Listen to Eddie …

A 2013 poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that even in pro-gun New Hampshire, 89 percent of likely voters supported universal mandatory background checks for gun purchases.  Now, aside from the fact that I don’t foresee Congress, even if Mr. Eddie Edwards were to attain a seat in the House, passing laws to make any of Eddie’s dreams come true, I find it extremely disturbing that a man with these ideas could make it as far as he has in politics.  At least 21,767 people  in new Hampshire support this insanity.


Free speech runs amok … again

It’s called the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).  Sounds innocuous enough, yes?  But no.  It is an anti-Semitic hate group whose main ‘claim to fame’ is in denying that the Holocaust happened, even claiming that the Anne Frank’s diary was a hoax and the gas chambers never existed.  This month, IHR has been allowed to place advertisements on San Francisco’s mass transit system, BART (Bay Area Regional Transit). BARTWhy?  Why would BART allow a blatantly, unapologetic anti-Semitic organization to advertise on its trains?  Because …

“You have to look at it for exactly what words are used and what images are used … There is plenty of case law and court rulings that show if you deny the ad, you can be taken to court, and you’ll lose, and that’s obviously costly.”

Anti-Semitism is on the rise … hate crimes and discrimination against Jews rose by 57% in the U.S. in 2017.  To be fair, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe also, but at least there, they have laws that curtail such abomination as hate groups advertising in public venues.  But here … anything goes under the guise of free speech.  This is not free speech … this robs people of their right to peace of mind!

In 2015, a judge ruled that New York’s MTA (Mass Transit Authority) could not stop an ad from being run that read “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” The ad was created by a pro-Israel organization whose president, Pamela Geller, is a well-known Islamophobe.  And just last August, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to court for refusing a number of ads, including one by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I am a staunch supporter of free speech, for I believe that it is the only thing keeping this nation free from a dictatorship.  Even when I don’t particularly like or agree with what is said, I support the person’s right to say it.  However, in my mind there is a line, and advertising anti-Semitism or any other form of hate on public transit crosses that line.  The divisiveness in this country today, and Donald Trump’s support of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups has contributed to this madness.  What’s more, I see no end in sight, but predict an escalation to these types of hate speech.

It is quite possible to support freedom of speech without supporting speech that denigrates others and invites violence.  Think about  it.

Wise Words from a Wise Man …

John Paul Stevens served as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice from 1975 until his retirement in 2010.  He was nominated to the court by a republican president, Gerald R. Ford.  Today, Justice Stevens wrote an OpEd for the New York Times that I think should be read by every person in the United States. I was amazed by his opinion, given his 35 years of interpreting and enforcing the U.S. Constitution, and I think you will be too.  And so, I will let Justice Stevens speak for himself:

Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.

That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.

Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.

For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”

During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.

That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.

That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective than any other possible reform. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence.

I tip my hat to Justice John Paul Stevens for this editorial.  His words are wise and timely. Of course we all realize that to repeal the 2nd amendment would require passage of another amendment, and that this is about as likely as me growing wings and flying off to England to visit my friend Mary!  Justice Stevens also realizes this.  But the point, nonetheless, is well made and it is my belief that someday, perhaps not for another 70 years, but someday there will be significant restrictions on gun ownership.  And now … 10 … 9 … 8 … we surely won’t have long to wait for the NRA’s response, and I could almost write the script … 7 … 6 …

History Lesson – by Hugh Curtler

Many have written, in the five days since the mass school shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida, about the need for enhanced gun regulations.  It is always so, and I myself am working on a piece about the same.  Hugh Curtler’s piece, however, stands out for two reasons.  First, it is a calm, well-reasoned piece, rather than the emotionally-charged pieces some of us write.  Second, he references a book from a former Supreme Court Justice that proves beyond a doubt that stricter gun regulations, such as banning assault weapons and enhanced background checks DO NOT infringe upon the 2nd Amendment.  Please take a few minutes to read Hugh’s excellent work and leave him a comment letting him know what you think.  Thank you, Hugh, for permission to share.

hughcurtler

daily gadfly

In the wake of the most recent spate of killings in a high school in Florida we hear once again the tired mantra “guns don’t kill people, people kill  people.” The whole thing is brushed aside as a case of poor mental health. And while there is some truth in this, since anyone who walks into a school and starts shooting innocent teachers and students has to be clinically insane, it remains a fact that guns DO kill people and automatic weapons kill a great number of people in a very short time. Let us now hush the mantra and the mindless dismissal of real causes to consider the fact that there is hard evidence that tougher gun laws do, in fact, reduce the number of gun deaths. This has been shown in the case of both Japan and Australia.

Read the rest of the story

The Ultimate Irony …

In the wake of the shooting in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton remarked that the solution for preventing more shootings in churches from occurring in the future was “at least arming some of the parishioners so they can respond to something like this.”   I noted at the time that this was an inane remark, but apparently some took it to heart.

It happened at a church in Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  A group of parishioners were meeting in a church to discuss the idea of bringing guns into church, as suggested by Mr. Paxton, when an 82 year old man pulled out his gun to show, saying “I carry my handgun everywhere.” He unloaded the gun, it was passed around, no doubt with plenty of “ooohs” and “aaahs”, and then he reloaded the gun and replaced it in his pocket.  A few minutes later somebody asked to see it again.  The man pulled the gun out of his pocket again, saying, “With this loaded indicator, I can tell that it’s not loaded.”  Sigh.  Care to guess what came next?

The man pulled the trigger to prove his point, the gun fired, going through the man’s palm and then through his wife’s stomach. Fortunately, neither suffered life-threatening wounds and should be on the road to recovery by now.

LePierre

LaPierre

Okay, gun advocates … would you like to tell me again how, in the words of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, “The Only Thing That Stops A Bad Guy With A Gun, Is A Good Guy With A Gun”? Or how about you, Attorney Geneeral Ken Paxton … you have a good comeback here?  Aren’t you proud of yourself for suggesting this brilliant idea?

This incident makes the point, I think, that the ordinary person has no reason to carry a gun anywhere, ever. I have no need to expound on this, for the incident carries such irony that it speaks for itself.  I rest my case.

The NRA Wants You(r money)

In early 2016, President Obama proposed certain minimal gun regulations aimed at reducing gun violence.  It was mainly aimed at making sure gun sales via the internet and gun shows followed the same regulations for background checks, etc., as those who had a physical nexus.  But, of course, the nation went ballistic, claiming that Obama was trying to ‘take their guns away’.  And what do you think happened?  Gun sales, which had been on the rise for the past decade, soared, of course.

Jeb Bush said Obama’s plan would take away the rights of someone “selling a gun out of their collection, a one-off gun”. Marco Rubio says Obama’s plan is to “take away our guns.” And in the light of all this mis-understood rhetoric, gun sales soared.

gun sales 2005-2016.jpgAnd then came Donald Trump.  As I wrote in a July column under Trump, gun sales declined by 17% during Trump’s first two months in office.  This, despite the fact that women and minorities were feeling less safe under Trump and therefore buying more guns!

American Outdoor Brands, alias Smith & Wesson, saw a decrease in revenue of $100 million, a 40% drop. This drop in gun sales has led to the gun lobbyists, specifically the National Rifle Association (NRA) resorting to scare tactics to try to stimulate the sales of guns.  One such method has been through a series of despicable video ads.

The text of the above ad:

“They use their media to assassinate real news.  They use their schools to teach children that their president is another Hitler. They use their movie stars and singers and comedy shows and award shows to repeat their narrative over and over again, and then they use their ex-president to endorse the resistance, all to make them march, make them protest, make them scream racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia to smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law-abiding until the only option left is for the police to do their jobs and stop the madness and when that happens, they’ll use it as an excuse for their outrage.  The only way we stop this, the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fists of truth. I’m the National Rifle Association of America and I’m freedom’s safest place.”

gunsThe ad was played at the National Rifle Association’s Leadership Forum in April. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre’s speech to thousands of members was characterized by a similar type of ‘us-versus-them’ rhetoric. “It’s up to us to speak up against the three most dangerous voices in America: academic elites, political elites, and media elites. These are America’s greatest domestic threats.”

LaPierre.jpgIn addition to the ads, the NRA is pushing for dangerous legislation, such as revoking silencer safety laws and making it easy for anyone to buy a silencer without a background check. Oh yes, we don’t want the neighbors to hear and call the cops when you shoot me in my home for writing against the NRA and advocating for gun safety!

The NRA also conjured up mythical threats from the so-called “alt-left” in the wake of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, suggesting that conservatives take up arms to fight back. “For those of you progressives out there on the far left who wonder why guys like me, conservatives like me, have an AR-15, the answer is, I have an AR-15 to protect myself and my family from you. From you.” – Television host Bill Whittle, 06 September 2017  Hello??? It was the uber-conservative, white supremacists who held the rally, stirred the violence, and were responsible for the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer!

So, the question comes to mind, after seeing the hateful videos, rhetoric and ads of the NRA … who, exactly IS the NRA?  Do they represent gun owners?  The answer is complex, but the short answer is that no, they represent nobody but the gun manufacturers.  Big businesses who manufacture weapons of mass destruction.  They pay big bucks to members of Congress to put forth their agenda, and they play on the fears of gun owners and advocates, always presenting a perceived threat to 2nd Amendment rights by those of us who see guns as an unnecessary evil.

I have given you the statistics a number of times in the past, so I shall not bore you with them again.  But the reality is that the U.S.’ gun regulations are virtually non-existent as compared to other western nations, and our gun-related crime rate is our eternal shame.  Since Trump took office last January, there have been moves to remove the restriction on gun ownership by mentally challenged individuals, revocation of the ban on assault-type weapons, and now silencers no longer will require a background check.

We know what the NRA does with its money, it makes donations to members of Congress who are in a position to knock down gun regulations affecting gun sales, and even strike down or reverse previous regulations.  Last year, the country’s most powerful lobby gave Donald Trump more than $30 million in campaign contributions.  He is now in their pocket.  Federal campaign finance records show that much of the NRA funds are used to keep pro-gun lawmakers in office

But where do they get their money?

People like you, perhaps.  Some donations, of course, come from the gun manufacturers and other companies who stand to gain from the NRA platform. But much of their funding comes from private individuals. Since 2005, the NRA Political Victory Fund has received nearly $85 million in contributions from individual donors. After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, donations to this political action committee surged as gun owners worried that their rights to buy and own guns were at risk.

And now gun sales are down, and gun manufacturers are looking to the NRA to stimulate a renewed interest in purchasing guns.  And so we will continue to see obnoxious, untruthful ads such as the one above, as the NRA strives to convince the nation that they are not safe without their damn guns.  With the current level of divisiveness, with white supremacists and neo-Nazis coming out from the rocks every day, the last thing we need in this country is to increase gun sales.  If the NRA truly represented We The People, they would not exist, for We The People stand to gain nothing by increased gun sales. It’s all about money … not rights … money and power.

Think about that … remember that, in November 2018 when you go to the polls to vote for your senators and representatives.  Do your homework and find out just how much in donations your representatives have accepted from the NRA.